Wednesday, December 31, 2008

High/Low for 2008

When my girls were younger and we weren't so scattered at dinner time, we would sit around the table and ask everybody to talk about the high point of their day and the low point of their day. Whenever we'd have guests over, we'd make them play, too. Shelby never had lows. Kelsey usually had two or three of each. Tracy often mentioned that her high point was "right now." On occasion, I'd use the time to tell everybody that they lied about what their high point was because I now had hockey tickets and we were leaving or that my high would be in 10 minutes when I took everybody to Braum's for banana splits. I kinda miss those days.

Anyway, I thought I'd give my highs and lows for the entire year:

January high: Hearing stories from my wife & daughter's whirlwind trip to Paris. Also, started teaching a Jeremiah series to the adult classes at our church and really enjoyed the study and the lessons I learned personally.
January low: Incredibly boorish behavior at weddings by everybody with a digital camera.

February high: Teaching the Jeremiah class was so much fun on Tuesdays & Sundays (teaching adults consistently was a big stretch for me professionally). I also preached a sermon that I believed in passionately, even if the congregation seemed to nod at politely. My sister and brother-in-law got me one of the best birthday gifts you could ever imagine for me.
February low: A dear friend passed away and caused a great deal of introspection as the spouse was in the midst of what would be an awful nightmare for me.

March high: A freak snowstorm in Dallas. Being a part of my friends Marky Mark & Kristy's uniquely fun wedding.
March low: My friend Dave came into the CBC offices for the last time.

April high: Another beautiful Opening Day with my daughter (a yearly tradition that has yet to get old). One of my favorite seminary professors came to my church & spoke at the men's conference. A great night at the Stanley Cup playoffs with Retrophisch.
April low: A serious hail storm that seemed to damage all my neighbors roofs enough for insurance to pay for them but putting mine in that in-between place of "is it worth making the claim to fix that damage once we pay the deductible?" And it racked all three of our cars, none of which have been repaired yet but insurance has cut us checks.

May high: Kid2 performed beautifully in her year-end ballet recital. Tracy and I went to a really cool wedding reception on a rooftop in downtown Dallas after sending Kid1 off to prom.
May low: I preached a really lousy sermon and wish I'd have a great, big do-over on it.

June high: BOTH of my children went on our church's mission trip to Juarez. I'm not sure I could've been prouder. I preached what I thought was a better sermon in big church. My best man at my wedding popped in for a surprise lunch together.
June low: My friend Nathan announced he was resigning from student ministry at CBC to move to Pittsburgh to be the youth pastor there.

July high: Celebrating 20 years with my smokin' hot shutterbug trophy wife. An enjoyable vacation with my wife's side of the family at the beach.
July low: Not having Kid2 in my house for six weeks as she was in Washington D.C. at various ballet summer intensive sessions.

August high: One of the nicest vacations ever, with a trip to the higher-order-barnstorming family's lake house in Idaho. This was immediately followed by a three-day concert in San Francisco, staying with the Rudds.
August low: My friend Nathan's last day on the job. Leaving an adult C.E. ministry that seemed to just get started and doing some cool stuff.

September high: Getting back in the saddle in youth ministry, man. No question. Being a part of my friends Katherine & Daniel's wedding, and getting to "work" that with someone I truly admire in their ministry.
September low: Getting a slow start in youth ministry because I'd planned vacation around an "adult C.E" schedule that actually has breaks where student ministers work.

October high: Hiring Charlie to serve our middle schoolers. Oh, man. That hire might prove to be one of the best things I've done in student ministry if the early returns are any indication. A great Pine Cove retreat for the middle school and a couple of work weekends for the high schoolers.
October low: My friend Keith, who I discipled and now pastors a church in Austin, had a seizure that was very scary at the time.

November high: My daughters cooking the Thanksgiving meal. New tattoos. Gas prices falling like crazy.
November low: Our church announcing layoffs. My friend Melissa's husband getting a job in Chicago and announcing she would be leaving our children's ministry at the end of the school year of 2009. An Auburn football team crashing & burning at the end of the season.

December high: The office vibe at CBC around Christmas and how much fun we have with the Festivus Cherub. A great Christmas office party for my wife's place of employment. Candlelight Christmas Eve services at my church for the first time in years.
December low: Not seeing any extended family at Christmas time.

Well, there's mine, folks...what were some of your highs & lows this year?
Bowl Predictions, Day 10

Yesterday's record against the point spread: 1-2. (Thanks a bunch, Oklahoma State.)
Bowl season record against the point spread (at the halfway point, too): 10-7.

Today's games:

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Air Force (+3.5). This one's a strange one to pick because these two teams met earlier in the season in a game that was moved to Dallas due to a hurricane. In that game, Air Force jumped out to a four-touchdown lead only to hold off a late Cougar rally. Add to the mix the reality that Houston, with a loss, could tie the record for consecutive bowl game losses. So, which team shows up? The Houston team that got behind big or the one that rallied. My guess is the latter. Diner Prediction: Houston 31, Air Force 27.

Brut Sun Bowl: Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh (+2.5). Mike Riley hasn't lost a bowl game in four tries since taking over at OSU. His team led the Pac-10 this season through 9 weeks and had a big win over the vaunted U.S.C. Trojans earlier in the year. The biggest problem is that they faded hard down the stretch due to key injuries. Granted, they still have a very good quarterback in Moevao. At the end of the day, Pitt will be highly motivated to get to a 10-win season, they have a better coach, and a stronger running game. Diner Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Oregon State 21

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: Boston College vs. Vanderbilt (+3.5). Lemme get this straight: Vanderbilt hasn't been to a bowl game in a quarter-century, and their reward is to play a game in Nashville? What the heck? The Liberty Bowl needed Kentucky so badly that they couldn't even give Vandy a trip? Anyway, BC has won 8 consecutive bowl games, has a vicious defense (they created 36 turnovers), and can get to 10 wins. Vandy's just happy to get the free headphones and dinners. Diner Prediction: Boston College 27, Vanderbilt 17.

Insight Bowl: Kansas vs. Minnesota (+9). Minnesota enters the game on a four-game losing skid. Kansas is going to a bowl game for two straight years...something the Jayhawks have never done before. There's no question that Kansas can move the ball with Reesing running the show, but I'm beginning to think there might be something to the theory that the Big 12 defenses are suspect (given Missouri's poor showing and add Oklahoma State's egg last night). Minnesota will try to do what Big 10 offenses do, which is muscle the smaller defensive lines around, keep the offenses off the field and shorten the game. The Gophers won't win, but I think they'll cover. Diner Prediction: Kansas 31, Minnesota 24.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: L.S.U. vs. Georgia Tech (+4). L.S.U. fans are very disappointed about their five losses this year and they still haven't solved their quarterback situation...Jefferson will be starting only his second game of the season. After serious doubting that Paul Johnson's triple-option attack could thrive in ACC country (as well as draw fans in pro football country), the Yellow Jackets have proven everybody wrong. Add to that several realities: Tech beat two SEC teams this year, they are 5-0 when they've had over a week to prepare, and the LSU defense is nearly last in the SEC, well, I think it could get very tough for the Tigers even though they have more talent. Diner Prediction: Georgia Tech 27, L.S.U. 21.

Only 12 more left!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sometimes, It's Hard To Get Motivated...

Our church does a program based on a nationwide curriculum called "True Love Waits." It's what newspapers and government entities call an "abstinence-based program." My own daughters have participated, and over 200 students over the years have done so since we instituted the program in the last decade.

It's meaningful, too. To parents and teens. I've been there. I know.

And, then, you get news like this: Study Casts Doubt On Virginity Pledges.

Sure, there were studies done five years ago showed that teens who took the pledge may have waited longer before they lost their virginity, but in reality, the pledge only made a difference of 1 in 10 kids compared to those that didn't take a pledge.

Newest study shows there's no difference at all now.

Well... to work.
Taking One For The Team

It was raining hockey tickets on me yesterday...which was very cool because it was my off-day and hockey is my favorite professional sport to attend. In addition to that, the best team in the league was visiting the Stars and our team has started playing well after spending the first third of the season in disarray. Plus, I'd already had a good day, too...saw a good movie in the afternoon.

Anyway, Kelsey and I planned on meeting the Phisch family for dinner, and we decided on a new place in town called Texas Road House. Ever since I've seen the place going up I can't help but think of that really bad Patrick Swayze movie...which made me want to try it all the more.

We got there early enough to get our larger-than-normal party seated immediately and I found something on the menu that looked GREAT. The hot rolls were really good and I was having a great time playing with Little Phisch 1 who'd brought some G.I. Joe toys he got for Christmas. We had a small war of sorts that involved submerging my G.I. Joe under the ice of a glass of water and diving into the bucket of peanut shells to hide.

Then things went haywire all of a sudden.

The waitress took our order. It took a tiny bit longer than expected for our food to arrive, but we didn't think much of it because the place filled up not long after we got there and it's only been open for 3 weeks. However, in the meantime, our waitress had disappeared.

The food finally came. Minus one essential part of the Phisch family order...and some question about the Phisch's meat being cooked accurately--but that was minor. My Kid1 didn't get a side order. I got nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The disappearing waitress never showed. Not to refill drinks or check on us or anything. Mrs. Phisch asked a table busser to please get her or a manager.

Both of them showed at different times. Both of them returned to explain what went wrong...or at least tried to. There weren't many clear answers. Interestingly, neither seemed to be focused on correcting said problem, but were highly intrigued as to WHY things went wrong.

The manager brought part of the food...and while she was on her way to the table, she saw the food delivery person at the table next to us drop a small container of honey mustard, which landed in such a way as to shoot a STRAIGHT LINE of honey mustard about 4 feet directly on to my shoe and pant leg.

At this point, everybody knows this has gone horribly awry. Even more than just a goof-up.

The manager offered to get me a towel...wet on one side, dry on the other. Shaking her head and trying to relieve the tension by making a joke about how horribly awry this has gone and how she's never seen anything like it.

The waitress brought my meal, but now we've been there over an hour and are later than we wanted to be to get to the hockey game on time. I mentioned that to the manager...

...who immediately comped the meal for our entire table because she said we didn't get to eat together and so much time was spent fixing the problem. She threw in some coupons for $5 off the next time we visited.

So, I'm not THAT guy. The one that has a bad experience and writes off the place and storms out. I did eat the plate, called "Road Kill," interestingly enough, in record time. I appreciated the fact that the whole table got comped and the manager did appear genuinely embarrassed. And, yes, I tipped the waitress WAY more than customary. She tried, and from what I could tell, wasn't the reason for the mix-up. And, yes, I will go back when they've had a chance to get the kinks worked out of the system. You can't guarantee things won't go wrong, but you can do everything possible to make the customer feel appreciated, and they did, kudos to the folks at Texas Road House--you made a negative into a neutral, which is all you can ask given the circumstances.

We headed to the parking lot making jokes that I took all the punishment and everybody else I was glad to take one for the team.

Parking was a breeze even though the game was sold out. I got to wave at Phisch Kid1 from our seats above theirs and kind of wished I'd had some parachutes and G.I. Joe guys to drop his way. Then our team outplayed the league-leaders but still lost the game and the last five minutes were especially exciting.

But there are worse ways to spend an evening than with good friends, free tickets, a comped meal, time with Kid1, a good game and good conversation on the way home, that's for sure.
Bowl Predictions, Day 9

Yesterday's record against the point spread: 0-2.
Bowl season record against the point spread: 9-5.

Today's games:

Roady's Humanitarian Bowl: Nevada vs. Maryland (+2). Nevada can score points like crazy with quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the helm. He can run and throw. Somehow, they lost 5 games in the WAC. Maryland, on the other hand, is a better team in a better conference, but they lost 5 games, too. Nevada played Texas Tech tough, but got blown out by Missouri. Maryland could struggle against Delaware and then go 4-1 against ranked teams. Here's guessing that the "bad" Terp team shows up tonight, but it's only a hunch. Diner Prediction: Nevada 34, Maryland 28.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon (+2.5). The folks who believe the Big 12 is the strongest conference this year base that entirely on the South division. Here's the fourth place team in that division going up against the 2nd place team in the Pac 10. The question comes down to other words, are the offenses in the South that great or are the defenses that bad. We won't find out tonight because neither team is particularly good on that side of the ball. I think Oklahoma State is the better team in the better conference here, and they can run--and control the ball, while the Quack Attack is pass happy. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Oregon 35.

Texas Bowl: Rice vs. Western Michigan (+2.5). Lots of things line up for Rice here. They have a chance for a 10-win season. They are, in effect, playing a home game. They're in a better conference. Western Michigan can't defend the pass well (even though they've done a better job late in the season) and Rice has two receivers who average 100 yards a game. For some reason, Vegas thinks the Broncos are worthy of being the favorite. I can't understand why. Diner Prediction: Rice 28, Western Michigan 17.

Only 17 more to go!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Hard Drive

A couple of Christmases ago, a couple of bonus checks and a computer crash led to one of the best Christmas gifts we ever gave the family: The iMac. I'm typing on it right now.

We've used it to video chat and edit videos, and store pictures and play games and store music and connect keep calendar dates and used all the features on Photo Booth.

And, it came with a 250-gig hard-drive. When we got it, my work computer had a 40-gig drive and I thought we'd NEVER fill up the iMac's storage capacity.

Well, I'm here to tell you, that with four people keeping separate iTunes accounts and two teenage daughters with photos and such, we've actually filled this beast up. Got the little message that says we're out of space and please don't add anything more to me. My guess is that there's actually 8 iTunes accounts because we have this program called Senuti (iTunes backwards, get it?) that allows you to take the stuff off you iPod and put it directly onto your machine quickly and easily. And, Kid2 plays this Sims game a lot and I think she's got lots of worlds and stuff saved. I've also got a bunch of movies that Handbrake saves especially for iPod usage at 1 gig per movie. But, I'll have my friend Retrophisch come over soon and clear it all up with his amazing Mac knowledge and we'll get back to peak performance with the newly purchased 500-gig external drive.

The way I figure it, this gives us another year or so.

And, I remember when the first computer Tracy and I purchased had a floppy disk (that joke in Sixteen Candles still works for us, while today's teens ask, "What's a floppy disk?") and 1-gig of memory. We payed over $500 for it. I paid 20% of that price for the backup/external storage drive.

Bowl Predictions, Day 8

Yesterday's record against the point spread: 1-0.
Bowl season record against the point spread: 9-3.

Today's games: Bowl: Rutgers vs. North Carolina State (+7). North Carolina State has this ability to give up big plays on defensive side of the ball...while Rutgers has a lot of players capable of making big plays, notably quarterback Mike Teel, a senior who threw for 3,000 yards--and obviously, you've got to have guys who can catch those passes. While the Wolfpack has played well with a freshman quarterback the last four games of the year, Rutgers has played better. With beautiful weather in Birmingham (which will offset to horrid looking Legion Field) Rutgers offense will win the day. Diner Prediction: Rutgers 35, North Carolina State 24.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Northwestern (+12.5) vs. Missouri. Missouri was the Big 12 north division champions--which isn't really saying much in that it might be harder to win District 6-5A in Texas high school football. Northwestern is here after finishing fourth in a week Big 10. The question comes down to whether or not the 5th best team in the Big 12 is two touchdowns better than the fourth best team in the Big 10. Chase Daniel, while never getting a championship and falling short in big-time games, has been dominant against teams he's supposed to beat. He's supposed to beat this one, and with more Tiger fans traveling to San Antonio, I suspect he'll do well in his NFL draft showcase. Diner Prediction: Missouri 42, Northwestern 27.

Only 20 more to go!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Should've Written The Book When I Had The Chance

As mentioned in an earlier post, I've been reading Mark Oestreicher's new book, Youth Ministry 3.0. I'll have some more galvanized thoughts on the whole later (maybe--if I choose to air those here), but my thoughts have certainly been provoked by the book. I finished it yesterday and am glad I read it.

Here's a quote that I'd like to get some feedback:

"...Not that understanding teenagers as part of a family system and ministering to their parents aren't important--of course they are. But what I'm suggesting here is larger and broader.

The fact is, teenagers need adults in their lives--multiple adults. But the church also needs teenagers. Blue Hairs need Kindergarteners; Teenagers need empty nesters; Twenty-somethings need Baby Boomers. We're all the church, like it or not, and the choice to like it is a critical one.

Isolated youth groups have done just as much harm than good. Isolation might be easier in some ways, but striving for the best is rarely easy.

Work to find meaningful ways for intergenerational community and relationships. Find meaningful ways for adults of all ages to connect to the work of the youth ministry and attempt (with failure being a necessary part of the process) to find paths for integrating teenagers into the lives of adults in your church."

At the heart of this is the sermon I preached to our congregation on November 7, 2004 entitled "The Myth of the Kiddie Table." The idea of a "convergent" congregation. This is also a frequent hot-button topic here at The Diner.

See, I'm smack in-between generations in my local church. I'm 42. Middle-aged, if you like. And, I've never really been a big fan of the trend in younger members of my Tribe when they take a look at what's going on in churches, don't like some of the stuff (it could be anything they don't like, from the architecture to the programs to the pastors to the age-range and anything and everything in-between), so they "take their ball and go home." They form their own churches, which generally evolve as reactions to whatever they didn't like about the place they left. So, for example, if they don't like the "mall feel" of a large church, they go to a pub (which I actually kind of like). Or they don't like the slick power-point and big rock bands so they go acoustic and light candles and have a more liturgical communion.

I've also never been a fan of the trend in the older members of my Tribe who bemoan the reality that younger people are leaving the local church in favor of these smaller places where they feel more "gotten" and like part of a family. These are the folks who complain when you rearrange chairs or temporarily blacken the windows. They don't like it when you break into small groups to pray together during the service. These are the people who gripe when the music is too loud or if you sing a traditional hymn with a new arrangement. These are the people who whine if you decide not to make coffee or ask them to go into the service 5 minutes before it starts (to maybe calm down and pray?) and visit with friends after the service. These are also the people who ask questions at congregational meetings like, "What are we going to do to get the younger couples back in our church?"

There are two sides to the coin.

I see them both.

Very well, if I do say so myself. And both groups have legitimate insights that should be addressed. No question there.

And, I'm thankful I go to a local church that gives teenagers a chance to be a part of the church right now. They're not waiting until they "grow up" and "become leaders." Nope. My church is pretty good about giving my students meaningful opportunities to serve anywhere and everywhere folks can serve. We have teens that make the coffee and sing on worship teams. They help in children's ministry and they lead small groups in middle school. They sweep floors and go on mission trips. Frankly, I'm pretty blessed to work for a church that "gets it." And, I'm blessed that my teens want to be part of the whole, too.

But I think there's a need from those of previous generations to "dive in" to mentor the young. To teach them the beauty of "All Hail the Pow'r of Jesus Name" done in 4/4 time the traditional way. To teach them why we have a multi-purpose facility with basketball goals and stackable chairs in our auditorium. To teach them that it's okay to have a cup of joe and maybe enjoy chatting with friends before you step into the service. To teach them why our building is designed with wide hallways and ample parking lots. There were, and are, good reasons for this stuff.

And I think the more mature believers should be willing to let some of those things go every now and then. I mean, if they fire up "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun" and think that's original, let it rip! If they choose to arrange those chairs and darken the windows on occasion and light candles and go acoustic with no amplified sound, let it rip! If they want to experience solemnity and you don't get coffee before the service and have a quiet foyer before everything starts, let it rip! If they want liturgy, let it rip! If they want a smaller feel, let it rip! There were, and are, good reasons for this stuff.

And, you know, I think it's win-win if we can create a ministry in such a way that the young have a chance to get to know the more mature spiritually so both sides can LISTEN to the other. We have some GREAT things we do our mission trip to Mexico. Manalive, the adults that go LOVE the trip. But not because of the work, but because of the relationships they build with the young.

And, the middle school girls love it when some of the ladies come from their empty-nest lives and talk to them about what it means to walk with Christ for 45 years.

So, if I'm reading the book correctly, the future of student ministries hinges on stuff like this...

...finding ways for generations to mix and mingle and hear each other's stories.

To listen to each other.

To serve each other.

To love each other.

I don't think the ideas are really all that complicated. Being creative and innovative in order to facilitate it is extremely complicated.

But worth it.

And I should've written the book back then, man.
Bowl Predictions, Day 7

Yesterday's record against the point spread: 2-1.
Bowl season record against the point spread: 8-3.

Today's game:

Independence Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (pick): Louisiana Tech is simply better than Northern Illinois. The Bulldogs are, in effect, playing a home game...and this season I've been testing that theory & it's paying off so far. Tech has an advantage running the ball & a huge advantage on special teams. Granted, they're weak at the one position you'd want strength (quarterback), but the Huskies can't run (their qb has almost as many rushing yards as their leading rusher, and he only throws about 15 passes a game) well and they won't have enough against a team that won 5 of their last 7 to get here. Diner Prediction: Louisiana Tech 30, Northern Illinois 21.

Only 22 more to go!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Don't Get Out Much, But When I Do...

My wife's office Christmas party was held after Christmas (when you're in retail, you apparently need your staff focused on work and things slow down afterward)...last night to be exact. It's a small business and it's really more like good friends getting together and hanging out anyway. Us spouses do what spouses do at these things where our wives all have a connection we don't share: We try to learn each other's names and occupations and chat about the Cowboys while our wives cackle and howl. It works.

Anyway, I'm not much for the hip & trendy set. I'm much more at home throwing darts at a microbrew place or eating Italian in my little 'burb...but one of the joys of the currently small business (they're on to something that may cause it to explode in the next year) is they can afford to go to places like this:

Oh, man...I highly recommend the 8oz. tenderloin with wasabi pepper sauce.

The boss then suggested we finish the night at Ghost Bar...but they decided to make that a separate function at a later date. I was glad because that would've been a little too much hip & trendy for one night and I think my head would've exploded.
Slouching Toward Idiocracy, Exhibit 1,224

Had to get gasoline yesterday. Stopped at a station I don't usually frequent and saw this:

That's right.

A television on the top of the gas pump.

We can't wait 5 minutes for the fill-up without watching something?
The Weather Made Me Do It

It was 83 degrees yesterday here in Big D. A record high for that date.

It didn't feel like Christmas at all anymore. I had the day off. I had nothing to do.

Christmas was all back in the attic at precisely 1:28PM in the McKinney house. Man, when it's over, it's OVER.
Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

Occasionally, I'll scan my horoscope & take it with about as much sincerity as both the fortune & lottery numbers in the cookie at Chinese restaurants...

...but today's was chillingly noteworthy:

"You have a lot to think about, so you may decide to hide out in a comfortable place and take an extra nap. You can ponder thoughts while sleeping, if you're thinking happy thoughts."

*Twilight Zone music cues in the background*
Bowl Predictions, Day 6

Previous day against the point spread: 1-0.
Bowl season thus far against the point spread: 6-2.

Today's games:

Meineke Car Care Bowl: West Virginia vs. North Carolina (+1.5). It's Pat White's last game for the Mountaineers and he's given them lots of good memories, but never won big when it counted. North Carolina is having a resurgence and this game sold out not long after it was announced the Tar Heels would be playing in Charlotte. While WVU has very good athletes at the skill positions, I think Butch Davis is a fantastic coach. You'd have to be to get UNC to a bowl game. I think if you give him three weeks to get ready and a home game, I like my chances. Diner Prediction: North Carolina 23, West Virginia 17.

Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State vs. Wisconsin (+5.5). Gone are the days when Alvarez would take a Badger team to a bowl and whip all comers. This year the Big 10 is way down, and this team lost a game to Michigan...not to mention lowly Syracuse. Jimbo Fisher, the head coach in waiting, finally has these Seminoles doing well on offense and they can win their 9th game of the season today. They will, and that sound you heard is FSU crashing back into national relevance. Diner Prediction: Florida State 27, Wisconsin 17.

Emerald Bowl: California vs. Miami (+8.5). One of the drawbacks of the BCS system few talk about is that, because of the selection process, cities try to combine a local team with a university known for traveling well. (How else can you explain Vanderbilt--in their first bowl in 30 years--playing in...NASHVILLE?) That's what happened here. I've always been a fan of Cal as they seem to have speed on offense and enough defense to get by in the Pac 10. These Hurricanes aren't the Hurricanes of old, but they are up and coming. I like them to keep it close for a half, but Cal will pull away with better depth and the home San Francisco crowd late. Diner Prediction: California 34, Miami 24.

Only 23 more to go!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Little Movie Fun

There's a blog meme going around where you choose your 15 favorite movies, then put a quote from each one and allow the readers to guess which ones they come from. The only caveat is that you can't Google them or look them up on any just have to know them off the top of your head. So, here's some from my 15 favorite movies (in no particular order):

1. "Yeah. The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook."

2. "We'll get him. We'll get him. Man, dont worry about that, we'll get him. And when we do, we'll blow up his car, do something. I can guarantee you that. What makes me furious is thinking about the look on Bob's fat face, thinking he pulled one over on us. I tell you another thing. If our paths cross again, you're gonna see a side of Dignan that you havent seen before. A sick, sadistic side, cause I'm furious at Bob."

3. "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

4. "In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing..."

5. "'Empire' had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All 'Jedi' had was a bunch of Muppets.'"

6. "I'm a professional killer."
"Do you need postgraduate work for that?"

7. "This is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this. This one thing."

8. "Don't be obsessed with your desires Danny. The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.' He was a funny guy."

9. "Take a look at what I'm wearing, people. You think anybody wants a roundhouse kick to the face while I'm wearing these bad boys? Forget about it. Last off, my students will learn about self respect. You think anybody thinks I'm a failure because I go home to Starla at night? Forget about it!"

10. "I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?"

11. "How did you even generate enough pee for three pregnancy tests? That's amazing..."
"I don't know, I drank like, ten tons of Sunny D... Anyway dude, I'm telling you I'm pregnant and you're acting shockingly cavalier."

12. "Hey, baby! I noticed you have braces. I have braces too!"

13. "You want to find an outlaw, hire an outlaw. You want to find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop."

14. "If there is anything that this horrible tragedy can teach us, it's that a male model's life is a precious, precious commodity. Just because we have chiseled abs and stunning features, it doesn't mean that we too can't not die in a freak gasoline fight accident."

15. "Well, that's all the time we had for our movie. We hope you found it entertaining, whimsical and yet relevant, with an underlying revisionist conceit that bullied the films emotional attachments to the subject matter."
"I just hoped you didn't think it sucked."

Just so you know, I went a little more obscure on the ones those that know me well will consider "obvious" choices for me...
Bowl Predictions, Day 5

Record from previous day against the point spread: 1-0.
Overall record from bowl season against the point spread: 5-2.

Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Florida Atlantic (+7). The Chippewas usually wind up in Detroit for another home game and I can't imagine this game has much appeal to anyone...outside of the reality that Howard Schnellenberger built the FAU program from the ground up. The Owls are looking for a new offensive coordinator and are suspect on special teams (rare for one of Schnellengerger's teams), but I think they're better coached and are actually more excited to play in this than CMU. Diner Prediction: Florida Atlantic 34, Central Michigan 24.

Only 26 more to go!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka, Ever'boddeh!

Merry Christmas to you and yours, patrons.

Diner Management

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On Christmas Eve, My Favorite Christmas Carol

I'm not much for "Christmas music." I think that has more to do with the constant droning of it starting in late November more than any particular song or style. And, don't get me wrong, I like certain ones done a certain way at Christmas Eve services just like you do.

And, when I used to preach a sermon at Christmas Eve services (I got to do the 4PM, where all the little kids amped on Santa would attend because, well, as the youth pastor, "you're used to teaching with more chaos."), Dr. Hal--who was leading worship at that time asked me what my favorite Christmas carol was. It was actually written by some friends of mine and when they sang it at our church a few years back--when their annual Christmas Show tour stopped at my church for two nights--I don't think I've been happier to have heard a song sung from our stage.

It's by the band Lost and Found...and, like many of their songs, it's based on words taken directly from the Bible. In this case, Isaiah 9. It's called "Arise, Shine!"

Arise, Shine! Your light has come.
The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.

The Angel said a baby will be born
And you will call his name Immanuel.

He will save the world from its sin.
Open up your heart and let the Christ child in.

Now that I've posted their lyrics, which they own, I now owe my friends a nickel (when, actually, they restored my faith in the "Christian" music industry with their unique ministry philosophy and strict avoidance of what they call the "Christian Music Industrial Complex"--not to mention their very polite influences from years of hearing Jethro Tull and the Violent Femmes. So, I owe them a heck of a lot more than a nickel.)

Maybe you could help them out by purchasing their Christmas CD even if it's not going to help you THIS Christmas, you can get your Femmes-inspired Christmas carols ready for next year. Sorry, you can only buy their "regular" CD's at iTunes or I'd have you all just download the song there.

Anyway, that's my favorite Christmas carol, and if I ever get to preach the 4PM service again, maybe I can give the worship team leader way more notice so they can prepare to sing it next time. Apparently, they were hoping for a more mainstream choice by me to play, but I got the sheet music just in case!
Diner Bowl Predictions, Day 4

Yesterday's record against the point spread: 0-1.
Bowl season record against the point spread: 4-2.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Hawaii (+2). Notre Dame has lost a record 9 straight bowl games. Hawaii is on the decline after the departure of June much so that even a 6-6 Fighting Irish team is favored in what is essentially another home game for the Rainbows. Granted, after Hawaii switched quarterbacks mid-season, they've played much better. However, they haven't played a team with as much talent on the defensive side of the ball as Notre Dame has. The Irish are just simply a better team, even if the very overrated Charlie Weis is calling the plays today. Diner Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Hawaii 21.

Only 27 more to go!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Travel

As of yesterday, I was thinking about a bunch of my friends/church-family folks who were trying to get out of Portland's airport and were having trouble with all the weather issues... if you're a frequent patron of The Diner and are either in PDX (using their FREE wireless, which I realize isn't nearly as cool to you if you're stuck there as it is to me who isn't) or were scheduled to get out over the last two days, could you please check in?

Or, if you're related to one of them, or dating one of them, could you please give status updates? I want to know if they'll be home (or are already home) for Christmas...
Now Things Are Ramping Up...

It's official! The Grinch-heart has broken the goofy heart x-ray machine and I'm amped about Christmas! Now all that's left to do is shove the sleigh down to Who-Ville and carve the roast beast...It's amazing what spending a day laughing/shopping (more of the former--we're still going to be in scramble-mode to finish any significant shopping) with my smokin' hot trophy wife, eating out with all my girls, and then coming home to card & board games (which, ordinarily, I detest board & card games...but with them it's fun. We played, in order, Russian Rummy, LIFE, and Trouble--gotta love pop-o-matic!) in front of the fireplace will do to the Christmas spirit!

For future reference, the recipe for Grinch-heart inflation seems to be equal parts unproductive chaos with the masses, laughter of the young, and settling down with people you love with a dash of off-day.

Thanks to today's Non Sequitur comic for expressing it better than I could.

Diner Bowl Predictions, Day 3

Yesterday's record against the point spread: 0-1.
Bowl season record against the point spread: 4-1.

Poinsettia Bowl: T.C.U. vs. Boise State (+3): I'm trying to avoid a hometown bias because so much of the media here raves about the Horned Frogs...and many think they should be in the Big 12 over teams like Iowa State. But the bottom line of the deal is that the Frogs play SERIOUS defense. Meanwhile the nation thinks of the night when Boise State beat OU in a BCS game. Well, the Broncs aren't as good as they were then and the TCU defense is better than the one OU threw out there that year. I think it's meaningless that the Broncos are 12-0 this year and have never lost to a W.A.C. team since becoming a D-1 school, tonight's the night both of those streaks end. The Frogs are better on defense than the Broncos are on offense. Diner Prediction: T.C.U. 28, Boise State 24

Only 28 more to go!

Monday, December 22, 2008

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that Slumdog Millionaire was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. In the theatre I saw it in, there was even a smattering of applause when the credits began to roll. Now I regret not joining in.
...that last night I was waiting in the warm car on my wife to claim her luggage and come to the car. I saw her come out of baggage claim in my rearview mirror and the thought that popped into my head was, "God, she's beautiful." I'm glad that is still happening.
...that not one episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen comes on without me thinking that I'd really like to smack that kid. This is immediately followed by correcting myself and thinking that I'd really like to smack those parents. Then I correct myself again and think that I'd really like to smack the kid and the parents.
...that my Lost and Found Christmas Album (think what it would sound like if the Violent Femmes played every truly great Christmas hymn) and my copy of Happy Christmas, Volume 1 (think of your favorite bands playing their favorite Christmas song in their style) which is out of print) get me going and pushed my Grinch-heart to +1 status yesterday. Everybody else that hears them can't stand them.
...that I don't know why I get into panic mode when I'm off to buy some Christmas stuff. I just say something vague, like, "I'll be back in about an hour. I have to run some errands." I *never* announce that I'm going to run errands and when the kids playfully ask, "Dad, gettin' us some Christmas presents?" I respond like a little kid caught in a lie and look at my feet and then at some imaginary cobweb in the corner and say, "No, I'm just taking the power" and then it fades out into mumbling. Then I walk out.
...that one of my favorite things about Christmas is that the students I've served all these years manage to scrape together some time and visit with me personally, in one-on-one times or just a couple of 'em together. It's a reminder that, at least with those kids (who will always be kids to me, even if I've performed their wedding ceremony), I did something right.
...that I want to let a certain activist Christian organization (and their minions who forward me their boycott e-mails) know a couple of things: First, boycotts don't work. Second, I've never heard you mention love or compassion. Third, just because a certain soup company (think Andy Warhol) purchases advertising space in a magazine that caters to the homosexual community in no way means they're "supporting the gay agenda" any more than when that same company uses NFL stars to promote their product means they're "supporting the single-male-athlete community." I'd say the same thing if they purchased an ad in a Christian magazine (say, Relevant) using a youth group saying they use that soup to feed the homeless because the homeless deserve quality--they wouldn't be "supporting the Christian agenda." Bottom line, Donald Wildmon: The only agenda Campbell's soup is promoting is, well, SELLING SOUP TO MAKE MONEY.
...that Britney Spears might have some personal problems and all, but if you didn't know who was singing and just heard the music, you'd think those were some pretty darn good dance-pop songs. It's a shame, too...because she could've been HUGE instead of a punchline. I maintain Michael Jackson is in that category, too.
...that even if I don't know what's going to happen, when my wife, in the role of benevolent dictator, declares "family night" (meaning no one can make any plans otherwise) I look forward to it.
...that I'm kinda missing my Mom, Charlotte the Scar.
...that I hope my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and barnstorming brother-in-law have a good flight with the stunning Margaux. Apparently, Miss M hasn't yet taken to her parent's love of flying.
...that I wish I could see a video of my partner-in-crime neice Kaitlyn in her hip-hop dance performance.
...that I need to go on with my day. I have some, ummm, well, errands to run. *looks at feet. looks at ceiling. walks out door without saying anything else.*

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Must Thrive On Chaos Because...

So, my smokin' hot shutterbug trophy wife gets a phone call last summer. A family friend we've known since she was 8 is getting married. In Portland. In December. Would Tracy be willing to travel to take the pics? The answer was an unequivocal "YES!"

I get phone calls all day yesterday about lots of snow & ice & blizzard conditions. I'm kind of excited about all this because I'm guessing my smokin' hot shutterbug trophy wife will get all these unique pictures that she can use for her business. You don't see many brides & grooms hanging in snow in these parts.

Anyway, she's not nearly as excited because she's getting reports that the airport is closed to outbound planes until at least noon today. So, there's a chance her 1:26PM flight will get out. Who knows?

It's no real hassle to delay a day except for one thing: Yeah, we were planning on having all day tomorrow to make a big dent in the Christmas shopping for our little nuclear family. We covered all the out-of-staters already (the beauty of the internet) but we were really hoping that Monday would end it.

So, this little inconvenience put visions in my head of those Christmas movies where somebody's trying to get home for Christmas with all sorts of travel delays in the mix which will lead to all sorts of hijinks. It has me gearing up for Christmas as I think about what we might do IF it gets cancelled or seriously delayed and laughing about a Planes, Trains & Automobiles kind of thing that COULD get haywire or whatever else. I mean, I see this IF kind of event, which (at worst) delays shopping a day, as possibly creating some really good Christmas memories.

You can consider the Grinch-heart (now at neutral, station zero) x-ray-machine-breaking launch sequence engaged...
Diner Bowl Predictions, Day 2

Record after day 1's predictions: 4-0.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. Southern MIssissippi (+4.5). Troy has this way about them...they can play offense, man. And they torched a pretty good SEC defense (LSU) for a bunch before their defense was dissected in one quarter. Southern Miss comes from that old-school defense-first mindset. But at the end of the day, a 6-6 Golden Eagle offense won't have enough firepower to come back when they get behind. Diner Prediction: Troy 37, Southern Miss 28.

Only 29 more to pick!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grinch-Heart Remains at -1 Station

I was hoping the last few shopping days before Christmas would actually bring me to zero, but there were some negatives yesterday--notably the traffic around my church. My co-worker John actually had to spend 30 minutes to get back to church from his lunch at Wendy's. Folks, this amounts to about 3 miles...and, if you live in the FlowerPlex, I can't imagine this needs much explanation.

Another negative was that I saw a sign on an area restaurant that says they'll be open on 5PM Christmas Day. Now, it's a good restaurant, and I have learned that my own kids are looking for something to do after the gifts are opened, the meal is eaten, the phone calls to family in other states are made (we're staying put this year so it's just us in the McKinney Dome), and a nap has occurred. So, they're bored by 4PM or so and usually calling friends to try to get-together & hang at a friend's house anyway. But the only thing that should be open on Christmas Day is the corner convenience store, the drug store, and the movie theater that night. That said, we'll probably go out.

The positives were the "vibe" of the area outdoor mall. Lots of teenagers ruling the roost and loitering, which I actually like and enjoy the energy level (an occupational hazard). Running into lots of friends at that same outdoor mall who were getting out of the house with their spouses & children...who were amped about Santa and possibility and going to see the latest G-rated movie release. This made me appreciate that the FlowerPlex can have a small-town feel to it on occasion...sorta like high-school football games.

Another positive is that lots of former students make it a priority to re-connect with me when they're back in town from their semesters out and about. A particularly endearing tribe called to set up dinner and we had cheese fries loaded from an area establishment noted for cheese fries loaded...and a lot of conversation about the Trinity, the nature of spiritual gifts and some end-times theology. It's so exciting to see my students making their faith their own, man. And these were doing that very thing. Not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.

The 70 degree weather we experienced would normally lower the Grinch-heart scale, but yesterday it was countered by my wife's updates from Portland, where she's taking photos for a dear friend's wedding. It was snowy and we had conversations about whether or not she could even get back from Portland on Sunday if it continues to snow as much as they think.

So, all that balanced out to keep me from moving up or down the scale...but it's coming. I can feel it. Today might be the day...
Diner Bowl Predictions, Day 1

After a pretty good regular season against the point spread (65-57-1), it's time to tackle the bowl games. Of course, this is 34 games worth of mostly garbage. Fallout from the BCS way of doing business has a price that's paid in the lower-echelon games, but it's supposedly a nice reward for players & their fans. Hmmm.

But, they're playin' 'em, so I'll pick 'em:

EagleBank Bowl, Wake Forest vs. Navy (+3): These two teams actually played earlier in the season with Navy winning by a touchdown. What few remember is the reason that happened, which is that the Deacons turned the ball over six times. That won't happen today. Diner Prediction: Wake Forest 27, Navy 21.

New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State (+2.5) vs. Fresno State: The Bulldogs have been somewhat of a disappointment this year, and Colorado State seems like they're actually excited about a 6-6 record and going to a bowl game. Because of the "vibe" I like the Rams, but Fresno State's the better team. Diner Prediction: Colorado State 28, Fresno State 24.

St. Petersburg Bowl, South Florida vs. Memphis (+11.5): This is pretty much a home game for the Bulls, who have had a nice ride the last four years under QB Matt Grothe's leadership...even if this season wasn't up to par. The Bulls will drop off the map under Leavitt when he graduates, but today's swan song will be enough to grab one last bowl victory before it all comes crashing down. If you like offense, you'll like this game. Diner Prediction: South Florida 38, Memphis 24.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, Arizona vs. Brigham Young (+3): Again, more offense. Arizona averages 37 points a game while the Cougars average 35. In games like this, it comes down to which defense is better, and I think the Wildcats will "Bear Down" in this one and have a better chance to make the big stop late. Diner Prediction: Arizona 42, Brigham Young 38.

Oh, man, only 30 more to go!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Provocative Read

I'm back in the youth ministry reading mode. You books on the state of things in the biz, professional journals (yep, we've got those!), latest trends on web sites...the whole bit.

And, while I'll formally review Mark Oestreicher's new book Youth Ministry 3.0 soon--it's about designing student ministry new ways given the trends/bent of this generation of teenagers written by one of the more cutting-edge pros--I'd like to whet your appetite with this little nugget from page 58...

"The dark side was the creation of the youth group that exists only for itself (which, unfortunately, still all too common). And while the shift to the theme of Creating a Positive Peer Group might sound like an affinity push, this theme was more driven by the priority of autonomy. Youth workers clamored to develop a youth-y churches-within-churches that were loosely attached to, but functionally separate (and autonomous from) the church that housed and funded them."

In layman's terms, Mark is reviewing the history of professional student ministry and saying that, for all our desire to create professional youth ministry's and reach kids, the end result is a place where parents could send their teens to avoid the world/be good kids/surrounded by good kids (which didn't really happen). Also, the idea of positive entertainment helped create large groups of kids--which justified our existence and made us look successful.

This kept parents happy, which increased budgets, which allowed churches to keep a mindset of "big church" for grownups while the kids did their thing downstairs. Seems win/win, right?

I'm just not sure that model is Biblical...and have many times in this space clamored for the idea of a "convergent" church--one where generations interact meaningfully, which means everybody has to "give up" some of their "sacred cows"--...

It's nice to know that somebody higher up in the ranks sees, it, too, I guess...

...and I'm sure I'll be recording more thoughts once I get to see where Mark takes his observations to application...

But, have at this one today, patrons...
More On Auburn University's Athletic Department's Stupid Leaders

...or: You Made Your Bed, Now Lie In It.

Right between The Boston Globe and The San Francisco Chronicle you'll find that The Dallas Morning News is the 13th most circulated newspaper in the United States. That's a lot of readers. Over 1/3 of a million.

And, Jay Jacobs, Jay Gouge, et al, you'll find that a respected columnist, Jean-Jacques Taylor has called for high school athletes to boycott attending Auburn University in today's column.

I don't see how you missed the memo, boys, but recruits make a difference in minor league (re: college) football. The better the recruits, the better your team. It really isn't that hard.

And, because of your stupid choice of Gene Chizik to be our head football coach, a respected columnist just told 1/3 of a million readers, PLUS whoever picks this up on the national media, told recruits NOT to go to Auburn.


You might want to stop former revered coaches from sending us letters trying to get us on board to support the new coach. It takes more than a PR campaign to gloss over the reality that you goofed this up, boys.

Something tells me it's going to be a tough few years at The Loveliest Village on the Plains.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Grinch Heart Growing At Least One Size

At the end of every semester our student ministry has communion.

We sit down and eat dinner together.

We teach through what communion is from Scripture...and even include how the early church made a few, ahem, errors in their celebration.

Then our students talk about the work of Christ in their lives. Everything from Him working in their family lives, to what He's teaching them personally, to providing them with answers to prayer. There was talk about how they're being sensitive to the work of God in the lives of their friends who don't know Him. It's a shame that we have time constraints.

Then we read through the Matthew account of the supper. We talk about focusing on the body of Christ. We focus on remembrance. We focus on hope...that our King is waiting until we are with Him until He drinks the fruit of the vine. It's like history, only studying it forward.

And, as an act of worship in the process of eating the bread and drinking the grape juice...I had them write on the whiteboards in our student ministry room (it's in three sections) "Something I'm Thankful For," "Something I'm Trusting God For," and a word Scripture uses to describe Him.


Here that is:

Click on it, blow it up and zoom in on it.

You won't regret it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still Kinda Grinchin'

The scene: IHOP. 2499.

The event: Guy comes in with his two sons. Sits at a booth. Sons opposite side of said booth. Sits kids down, gives them crayons and the place mat with games and stuff on it. Proceeds to fire up his laptop. They quietly color and play while he works or checks e-mail or the box scores or whatever it was that he was doing on-line. Not one word of conversation.

Moral Dilemma: I wondered if I could give such a precise hip-check to the waitress (carrying a tray full of large orange juices to a birthday delegation) that, as she walked by his table, roughly a gallon of juice and milk would land only on his laptop.

Moral Dilemma II: I considered making a sash out of a grouping of napkins that would read "parent of the day" and awarding it to him in a small, hurried ceremony.

But I decided against both. I mean, it is the Christmas season, right?

Manalive if this Christmas season doesn't become more Christmassy soon, I might have to go see Lucy at the "Psychiatric Help: 5 Cents" kiosk. In the meantime, I'm working on my new comic-book superhero who has the superpower of spotting bad parenting in others (but, as with all superpowers, it has a downside--in this case, blindness to his own moments).

...Able to spot moms putting in DVD's for their kid's 10-minute ride to soccer games! to spy on entire families texting and chatting on the phone at the same restaurant! to see parents bringing 8-year-olds and crying infants to R-rated movies at the theatre!

Maybe, just maybe, "The Doctor is IN."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Grinch-Heart Is Still 2 Sizes Too Small

It's been said that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.


Monday, December 15, 2008

You Be Me For A While, And I'll Be You

No pity-party.

Just a statement: You'd be amazed...

..truly amazed...

...and what people say to their pastors. And how they say them. And when they say them.

And they have no idea what else that particular pastor might be dealing with at that very moment.

I'm going back to bed. Because I can. It's my day off, and it's cold outside. In fact, 40 degrees colder than it was yesterday. And tomorrow will be 40 degrees warmer than today. This weird weather thing we've got going isn't helping at all.

And I'd like to go ahead and re-boot today's hard-drive.

So, I will.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Creative Class

I had a friend who just couldn't seem to get happy. He changed jobs...a couple of times. Even careers. He built a nice home...and promptly wanted to move out six months later. He thought having another kid or two might help. Since he couldn't get happy, he sought professional help. The professional's diagnosis: Somebody as creative and "outside-the-box" as him should move out of the suburbs into any environment that might unleash him creatively.

He did that very thing.

Yeah. He was still unhappy...turns out that the problem was with him. Imagine that. He's working on that.

But I found the counsel he got--from someone that went to 8 years of college to figure this stuff out--intriguing. I'm sure that particular professional had given might've been just the thing that some people needed. Really. I'd be willing to bet that for somebody who had a little more stability emotionally, that advice helped some of the clients he gave it to. I mean, I'd like to hear from some of those who did that very thing and it gave them their life back...or maybe a new lease on life or whatever term you'd like to use to describe it. I've seen former students go off to college or the military or open their own business and watched them thrive when they weren't thriving at home.

I've had some friends who've been laid off recently from their corporate gigs. Some got nice severance packages and others got thrown out on their keisters. You know what they're saying? That while the initial shock was tough and the realities of finances and futures are afoot, they're actually kind of joyful. The situation has given them a chance to step back. To make a change they've been wanting to make anyway. To re-think. To finally take that step they've been wanting to for a few years. And they seem pretty joyful even though the circumstances might cause some long-term worry. And, granted, that mood might change if the job market stays dry for a longer time than they may think. For now, they're relaxed and they smile when they talk about "what they might do next."

Now, this isn't new ground I'm treading on here. I've talked about how "ruts" rob us of creativity and uniqueness and innovation.

And, I've talked about how the suburban lifestyle can be kind of vanilla in everything from education to values to cookie-cutter architecture and all that jazz. We tend to value sameness because we are, in many ways, from similar environments and have similar educations and similar backgrounds. Nothing wrong with it, per se, because it, more or less, "works" for us.

But I read a quote this morning that spurred my Parade Magazine of all places:

"My team and I go surfing in the morning before work. We call it 'board meetings.' The best ideas don't happen in a cubicle. They happen while we're having fun."

Now, the person who said that is John Kirhoffer. His job is to come up with those challenges the teams do on the television "reality" show Survivor. Yes. I see your eyebrows raise. Reality show? Creative? Okay. I get it.

His point is well-taken.

And I wonder what cubicles are surrounding me.

Surrounding you.

And how we break free. How we have our own types of "board meetings."

I do it through music. Or seeing movies...particularly those at AMC Select (they tend to be less "accessible"). Or reading fiction from different perspectives than my own. In reality, this is pretty conventional "breaking free." I mean, lots of people are inspired by the art of others.

So, how do you get out of your "cubicle" and onto your "board?" I think this could be a pretty good discussion...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good For What Ails Ya

No matter what kind of week I've had...
No matter what is going on in my life...
No matter what stresses & strains are afoot...

Give me a room full of high schoolers, a slew of parents willing to help out by making a fancy dinner & setting, and the white elephant "dirty Santa" Christmas game with gag gifts...

...and all is right with my world.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Office Christmas Party

Like many businesses & organizations, our staff has an office Christmas party every year. Ours tends to be more enjoyable than many because, well, Christmas is one of the very reasons our particular organization exists. Not to mention that our organization thrives on relationships and a "family" kind of feel. And, as an added bonus for me & mine, we're in our 13th year of being a part of this family. Lot of life lived with these folks. Really kind of a "best of times, worst of times" deal.

I say all that to say that our yearly get-togethers are enjoyable parties and it's nice to see pretty much all the staff together with their spouses in one place.

But that's not what I want to talk about regarding the Christmas party thing.

Our celebrations have morphed over the years. There was a time when all our staff & spouses & our kids got together at the pastor's house and pot-lucked it and we sat around and laughed and cut up. We kind of outgrew that as our church grew and we dropped the kids from the deal. Then we moved it to an afternoon luncheon...with spouses. Then we dropped the spouses from the afternoon luncheon. Then we decided to make it elders and deacons and their wives and had it catered. This year, we continued the FULL staff & wives/husbands but rolled with pot-luck because we've got lots of folks who like & are good with culinary arts.

I guess my favorite ones were the ones where we had an extended luncheon at a restaurant with just those that we worked with. Seemed like you could visit with everybody in that "non-work" way and we got the rest of the afternoon off. I like the way we did it last night, too, but the crowd is much larger and you don't get to visit with everybody.

See, I realize that our organization's Christmas party might not be the norm because of the nature of our work. And when I talk to folks who work for companies they tend to view their Christmas party as a necessary evil. Especially if it's their SPOUSE'S necessary evil where they don't know anybody well.

So, today's little Diner poll is asking if you like the office Christmas party or not, should it be during work or after work (and why), and if it should be spouse included or not.

I really enjoy these little glimpses into YOUR worlds because mine tends to be the exception to most rules...
Add Another Ingredient To Higher-Order Life-Living

Incoming text message.

Flip the phone up: "Message from Jill Sentz"

Click "view message."

Read the following:

"4 colleges. 4 majors. 19 years. 1 diploma. Done."

That's higher-order life-liver sister is, as of yesterday, a college graduate! San Francisco State will now be sending her letters for the rest of her life asking for contributions of time and money and joining alumni groups and attending reunions.

But, I gotta say it: I'm pretty proud of my little sister today.

Congratulations, Jilly!

*hums Pomp & Circumstance, mimicks moving the tassle on the mortarboard over, and kinda does a mental happy dance*

Thursday, December 11, 2008


McKinney Glue Trap 1, Mouse Invader 0.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ever Have One Of Those Days...

...where you sense God is up to something.
...but you simply don't know what.
...and it seems like it's taking a really long time.
...and you feel like you're just in limbo, on your way to something but not quite there.
...not only for you personally.
...but also for those you're close to.
...and nothing is particularly hard.
...and nothing comes very easily.
...and every decision is neither right OR wrong.
...and the strangest things keep happening in big and small ways.


That's where I am this morning.

On top of that there's a mouse in my kitchen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Emergent, Kinda, Again. And A Multimedia Extravanganza!

Yesterday, there was a commenter identifying themself as "Cool Christian." Whoever that is put some links to a pretty clever, well-done & funny parody ads taken from the Mac vs. P.C. ad campaign. So, special thanks to whomever "Cool Christian" is for showing them to me. I'd never have come across them on my own. Pretty much the only time I'm on YouTube is when someone directs me there. So, 23 gold stars and an offical raising of The Diner coffee cup in salute for sending these my way.

Anyway, the bit, which are posted below, is that there is a stuffy guy who represents the mainstream "Christians" and then a hip & with-it "Christ Follower." Take the six or so minutes it will take to watch them all (they're all about a minute or so)...because I want to follow up with some commentary and serious discussion:

This one I espcially like because of the reference to "Big Church":

Now, it's the last one that I really feel as if we've got something to hang our hats on. The counselor tells the two of them to start talking about the things they like about the other one. And they come up with mild compliments that are almost backhanded. Certainly, they're begrudging.

And, for the life of me, I can't figure out how there's become this mindset of the older generation--who, let's be honest, has all the leadership positions and financial leverage--that feels threatened by the younger folks view of how church should be doing things. And, frequent visitors in this space have noted that I've been equally critical of the younger generation's penchant for "taking their ball and going home." They don't like the way churches are run, so they either start their own or attend equally homogenous gathering spots for worship.

It's a two-way street, man. And I'm still having trouble with it. I'm GenX. I'm right smack in the middle of this thing and see both sides. Like I said in my comments yesterday, the youth will benefit from the wisdom & experience of the previous generation. The older generation will benefit from the zeal & energy of the youthful among us. I guess I don't see why it won't click.

But, you know what? In my conversations with folks lately, I'm finding that the older generation--who is supposed to be more spiritually mature, IMHO--are the ones who don't want to let go and make changes. I understand your reasons. I've heard them. ALL. I've heard them all.

And younger ones I've had conversations with will actually settle for less than what they want because of other benefits--almost a consumer mentality. I understand your reasons. I've heard them. ALL. I've heard them all.

But I maintain that this thing should work.

I've even had church leaders--at my own church, at my own seminary, and at other local & far-away churches--tell me that "it paints a pretty picture, but it'll never be a reality."

Respectfully, I disagree.

I think it will.

And I have lots of reasons.

And I know it'll take a lot of hard work and a lot of battles to fight. They'll be worth it in the end, if you're asking.

And, brother, more than ever, I have the stomach for the fight. Consider this fair warning and believe me when I say it. The way I figure it I have about 20 more years to work on it. The way I figure it, it'll take about that long.

Just to whet the appetite: A Portland pastor who I've met once and listen to occasionally via podcast--and who I happen to respect him through his blogging--had this to say in his most recent blog post dated December 5:

"When I was in the middle of conversations and thinking that eventually led to me leaving a megachurch and beginning this pub church experiment, I said (and still believe) this wonderful piece of obviousness: the megachurch is great at reaching the people it's reaching. And it's awful at reaching the people it's not.
Deep, huh?

To me the question isn't "Is the megachurch done?" Clearly, it's not.

To me, the question has always been, is something else needed to reach those the megachurch isn't (and can't), those the traditional, smaller evangelical church (like 1st Baptist or 2nd Methodist) can't?

And the answer for me then and now is an emphatic yes.

I pastor a growing church (something like 60% this year) of people for whom the attractional, large-scale production church was a dead end. Many of them even attempted to be part of a large-scale missional church here in town (that rhymes with Montego Bay) and found that though they appreciated the missional emphasis (as do I- I think we have a lot to learn from them), the size and difficulty of getting "in" precluded their participation.

Many of our folks are either coming back to Christianity, just starting out (yes, we have people meeting Jesus @ Evergreen), or are, not to put too fine a point on it, half-way out the door giving it one last shot with us. I've heard from people in ALL of those places on the continuum that the attractional, program driven church, or even large church in general just wasn't attractive to them.

And that's the key to this whole discussion.

So, let's get the discussion started...and, sincerely, thank you for sticking out this long entry...

...but, first of all, is the idea of convergence (blending older & younger members harmoniously) really just painting a pretty picture with little reality? I ask because I can think of 100 different ways I can channel the energy & effort.

...if yes, why? And, do you think it's fine for older congregations and younger congregations (and even "traditional" & "contemporary" services within the same bulding) to just go about business as they each see fit?

...if no, why? And, what would you be willing to sacrifice that convergence would be peaceful as far as it depends on you?

*wraps both hands about coffee mug and get excited for the potentially enriching conversation this should bring up*

Monday, December 08, 2008

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that everybody who says that the college football season is actually a continual playoff, well, I offer as prosecution's Exhibit A: Texas. They've got a legitimate argument to be included in some sort of official playoff, although I think OU would tan their hides in a rematch.
...that I started today with Regina Spektor's "Ghost of Corporate Future" and hit the iTunes "genius" button, thereby creating an coffee-house artsy vibe in my kitchen.
...that it wouldn't bother me if they found a cure for cancer this morning. Granted, I'd had enough of it two years ago, but recent events with dear friends gave me a little reminder.
...that this Christmas hasn't felt very Christmassy yet. I have no idea what's up. I mean, we even watched "Elf" as a family and trimmed the tree last night, but right after that it was back to homework & life.
...that everybody's job or lifestyle/hobby or home state has a stereotype. Surfer, homemaker, engineer, pastor, Texan/New Yorker, cheerleader, businessman, airline pilot, rock star, car salesman, librarian, lumberjack, you name it. The exception might be somebody from Delaware. I couldn't think of one that a Delawarian (?) would have.
...that the video for Blind Melon's song "No Rain" might be my favorite of all time. Kristen and I were having this discussion Saturday and I couldn't think of one that was exactly what a video SHOULD be...except for maybe one by The Prodigy, but it has very explicit lyrics so I won't direct you to that one.
...that I've seen a steady diet of EXCELLENT movies at the AMC Select (where they take films that usually open at the indie theaters & put them in regular ones), but man, they're heavy. I feel like I need to see some more lighthearted fare on the next go-round.
...that if the Cowboys need to win all three of their next games to make the playoffs, well, they ain't makin' the playoffs.
...that there doesn't seem to me a recession yet in my neck of the woods. Restaurants have wait times. Starbucks has lines. Stadiums are filled. The only place I've seen anything that might indicate that is the smokin' hot trophy wife and I had a date last Friday that took us to a local outlet mall. Ghost town, more or less, including the theater. Maybe that's where they start and then the effect trickles to all of us. And, I'm wondering if that's what has already happened in lots of other spots in the country.
...they have contests where people compete in wrapping presents. They give them something oddly shaped and then have judges determine the best wrapping job. They were working on a set of golf clubs in the video I saw.
...that it's funny to me to see how many college students who are on Facebook during the week they've got finals. Reminded me of how I could come up with 100 mundane tasks before hitting the books: Gotta get this room clean before I can study. Gotta run by the bank & mail those bills first. Need to return those books to the library. Maybe I should do laundry before I buckle down. I can't imagine I'd have graduated undergrad in a land of Xbox or my own laptop with internet access.
...somebody was telling me how lucky another friend was because they accumulated all these airline miles for their job they could use for personal family use. All I could think of was that all those airline miles added up to time away from family, hence, those miles had a built-in cost and they really weren't that lucky.
...that I might be a day late to what others are already into, but I'm really starting to enjoy Widespread Panic. I didn't before.
...that, at some point, I'm going to have to get REALLY serious about diet & exercise again, man.
...that with so many grownups getting on Facebook, blogging is taking a hit, and the college/high school kids will eventually come up with something else.
...that I'm at a strange life-station when you know a lot of empty nesters--they all talk about how they want to have nice furniture and they like a "continually clean" house and they can decorate their tree without all those "tacky kid's craft ornaments." I was thinking those things are actually what makes a house a home.
...that I also think empty-nesters should focus on how they can impart the stuff they've learned to the younger folks that inhabit their worlds. They've learned a lot about parenting and finance and what matter and what doesn't. Of course, this presumes that the younger ones would be receptive to that instruction.
...that no one is immune from the effects of someone else's dumb decisions.
...that I've got a recommended book to get to, so I'll get on with my day off.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


The profession of teaching runs in my family lineage.

Paternally, I had an aunt that was a guidance counselor. Her husband was on the school board for my county. I had another uncle who sold textbooks to schools all over the state. My dad worked in the steel mill but my guess is that if he'd had a big college major choice "do-over" he'd have been a basketball coach for either middle school or high school.

Maternally, my mom and her two sisters were all school teachers. My cousin Jody is a math professor.

And, like many of you, I had my favorite coach and/or teacher be a significant influence in our lives. Might've been as great as being a father figure or mother figure you never had, or might've been as minor as just saying a nice thing you've always remembered.

My job might not be as formal as a public school educator, but it does afford a pretty high-profile teaching role as a major component. Every week I have numerous opportunities to teach in large group & small group settings, and sometimes, in one-on-one ways.

So, I don't know if it's my favorable leanings towards teachers or what, but if there's ever a movie on television when I'm scrolling through the 200 & higher channels on my cable box that involves teachers, I stop down and check out a few minutes if not the remainder of the flick.

Two nights ago it was the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer as Louanne Johnson, ex-marine turned inner city English teacher, in Dangerous Minds.

And, I started thinking about the best movies with teachers as the theme...

No question that Dead Poet's Society starring Robin Williams as Mr. Keating is my favorite. Again, an English teacher.

Behind that one Mr. Holland's Opus starring Richard Dreyfuss was really good. The scene at the end where the governor strolls in and plays clarinet bordered on hokey, but it never really crossed that line.

There was one I remember from high school that was called Teachers that starred Nick Nolte. I remember liking it then because of a nutty substitute in the history class that was eventually discovered to be a lunatic, but loved the nobility of being a teacher. I have no idea why I liked a movie that starred Nick Nolte (that wasn't called 48 Hours) or had a soundtrack with .38 Special, but I did.

As far as television shows along that line, there's no question that Boston Public was my favorite. Oddly, that showed died pretty quickly, as do most of the ones that use teachers as a focal point. Hmmm.


here's your chance to chime in:

...what was your favorite movie or television show that had teaching as the major theme and why?

Have at it, patrons!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Opinion Page Was Thought Provoking Today

We have the conversation, too. At some point, yearly, we talk about scaling back for Christmas. We get all Grinched up and talk about the commercialization of the holiday. The talk eventually fades and we get excited about the gifts we're getting for various family members and the stocking stuffers and all that. Well, today, Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher had a column about a Christmas he spent in Holland while in high school. Having spent some time in Holland and compared Christmas celebrations (a fascinating story about the bishop Sinterklaas coming over Spain with his helpers. It actually has some racist overtones, but nobody else seemed bothered by it, so I let it go, too) with their young people. They might be on to something.

For the last couple of years I've been intrigued by Imago Dei's Advent Conspiracy and am considering getting our church involved in it next year...check the 2:30 video and lemme know your thoughts...

Another idea I've been intrigued by is the "third space." You know. Not your home. Not your work. The place where you go to hang out. The 2nd article was by Gregory Rodriquez entitled Long Live the Corner Cafe. Apparently, all over the world, cafes & bars are in decline and the author says, "Coffeehouses, corner bars and restaurants free people from 'the obligations of social roles and the styles and demeanor with which those roles must be played. Here, individuals may uncork that which other situations require them to bottle up.'" He's highlighting a sociologist he previously quoted.

Funny, to hear the perspective of folks who aren't involved in my Tribe.

Because...well...the function he's claiming is being lost has been inherently fulfilled for over 2,000 years by folks of my ilk. The interesting thing about the comparision/contrast that I'm using, is that I'm finding that in the suburban American church many folks feel like that ability to "uncork" is being lost amidst slick programming, branding, marketing and scheduling.

Feel free to comment on either, man. I know it's the slower pace of the weekend Diner crowd, but have at it!

*glad to move away from the last two days of college football chatter, pours coffee, pulls up chairs, smiles & waits on the patronage to "uncork."*

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Football Picks, Championship Edition

Well, after the rivalry week picks--which are often very difficult and I went 5 & 5-- the season record stands at 63-56-1 against the point spread. This guarantees The Diner a winning record as there aren't very many games of note this week...although, if I were betting in Vegas at the clip of $100 per game, I would've only come up $140 ahead given the fee you have to pay for placing losing bets. Hardly "in play" when you consider that's 3 months worth of involvement. Being Vegas might be the best business plan ever.

Anyway, on to the big games this week:

SEC Championship: Alabama (+9.5) vs. Florida in Atlanta, GA.: Somebody please explain to me what challenge Alabama has had this year that they haven't met. Can any #1 team garner less respect by everyone? The common wisdom says things like "Bama's big wins have been against disappointing Clemson & Georgia"...but who has Florida been putting up great numbers against? Disappointing Tennessee and Georgia and LSU. It's been a down year for SEC traditional powers (nobody has seasoned quarterbacks except, well, Bama & the Gators)...but the two teams are obviously a cut above the rest. What wins in the SEC? Running game, strong defense. Bama is better than the Gators at both. Diner Prediction: Alabama 28, Florida 24.

Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma vs. Missouri (+16.5) in Kansas City, MO: You're kidding, right? The Big 12 North is such a joke. The imbalance of power in this conference is something that truly needs to be looked at, otherwise the BCS poll will be settling ties for at least two more years--only substitute Oklahoma State for Texas Tech. I don't know how you fix it, but the only question in my mind is when Stoops will rest his starters. Mizzou doesn't have a chance, but they'll get a few late scores after the dust has settled. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Missouri 28

ACC Championship: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College (even) at Tampa, FL: Probably the best even-match of the conference games. This will be an old-school low-scoring defensive brawl as both of these teams have aggressive & hard hitting defenses. What I think will sway the game is special teams play--which Frank Beamer teams are known for--and the better quarterback is Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor. History plays a part, too, as Tech has played in this game and won it as well as been at the top level of ACC play since 2000. BC hasn't. Plus, playing in a warm weather venue will actually benefit the Hokies even if it's wet. Diner Prediction: Virginia Tech 17, Boston College 13.

Well, there you have it, folks! Football picks will return for bowl predictions in mid-December!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I Guess They're Just Words: An Open Letter To Auburn University's Leadership

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm sure you're aware that Auburn University has a creed. It's in pretty much every promotional piece the University puts out. You have famous alumni repeating various parts of it which is edited together and shown in the pre-game video at all the football games. Before the video era and the eagle flight, the 75,000 in attendance would repeat it together. It's nostalgic and, since it was written by Auburn's first football coach over 100 years ago, it might've even added to the reason why football and Auburn are so intertwined.

[And for those of you who don't keep up with minor league (re: college) football, Auburn University's football coach, Tommy Tuberville, was released from his duties yesterday. The buyout in his contract was $5.1 million dollars. That's NOT to coach, folks.]

And since Auburn and football are so intertwined, I thought I'd do a little compare/contrast with the creed and your actions from yesterday as reported in the media. The creed itself is in bold, my commentary in italics:

I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn.

So, I guess winning nearly 70% of your games for 10 years isn't earning enough? The only undefeated SEC championship season we've had in 22 years isn't earning enough? Being SEC West champions or co-champions 5 of those 10 years isn't earned? Beating Alabama 7 of 10 times isn't earned? Graduating more players than any SEC school other than Vanderbilt isn't earning enough? 20 players having better than a 3.0 GPA isn't earning enough? Dealing with disciplinary measures of trouble making players isn't earning enough? Guess you CAN'T count on what you earn.

Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.

Granted, this season was awful. It was truly painful to watch. Yes, this was because of a stupid decision on an offensive coordinator the head coach made. And no Auburn fan is happy about not going to a bowl game for the first time in 8 years. So, no question, there's a problem that needs to be fixed...especially with the Evil Crimson Empire thumping their chests again for the first time in a decade and crowing about national championships. But one thing Tommy Tuberville did was rebound when times got tough...think of that beautiful 2004 season following a very disappointing 2003 season. Guess writing a big, fat check and hiring a shiny new coach now constitutes hard work.

I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.

I'll refer you again to magnificent graduation rates and grade-point averages that soar above most football factories. I guess our minds and hands only have to work skillfully enough to fill in the "pay to the order of" and "amount" and signature lines on checkbooks these days.

I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.

The official word from the university is that Tommy Tuberville resigned. IF this was true, we wouldn't owe him one wooden nickel according to the contract. Yet, somehow, we're obligated to pay him? Hmmm. If you're telling the truth, you might want to pay him a nice bonus...maybe even from university funds. You've said that no public or university funds will be used in the buyout. Hmmm. Who's ponying up, then? Guess you're not interested in respect or confidence.

I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.

I guess paying a coach who RESIGNED $3 million in 30 days and another $2.1 million within the next year, not to mention the going rate for an SEC coach is a minimum $2 million per year, plus bonuses, is a sound business decision? Oh, yeah. We're paying not one, but TWO fired offensive coordinators NOT to coach for two years, at a million per. Guess these are all sound business decisions when your biggest booster is a banker in these economic times.

A spirit that isn't afraid? Just because they might raise a trophy over their heads in Tuscaloosa is no reason for us to fear. They've raised six in the time we raised, well, 1. Sure, we should've raised two more ('83 & '04, at least half of that one), but the beauty of being an Auburn fan was that even though the Evil Crimson Empire was loaded with more talent and resources, we'd look 'em in the eye and get after 'em for 60 minutes. We're 16-10 against 'em since's helped that we moved the game to home fields, too. Since when did we panic with their success? Guess they looked us in the eye and we blinked first.

Clean sports? The NCAA doesn't even sniff around East Alabama anymore. Tommy was notoriously clean...and suspended STARS (re: Trey Blackmon, anyone? Brad Lester, anyone?) for low grades or public drunkenness CHARGES, for HALF A SEASON. Guess nine honest wins a year isn't enough and we'll get 11 with a snake-oil salesman who walks the edge of the rules.

I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.

Again, half-season suspensions for any player even CHARGED with a crime was standard operating procedure. Anyone? Maybe it was school laws we're looking for...again, starting tailbacks at Auburn didn't play until mid-October for low grades. Anyone? Guess discipline and respect for the rules are subordinate to scoreboard lights.

I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.

Tommy was widely known as a player's coach. Openly loves his wife and kids and talks about it. He even was the first college football coach to hire a team chaplain on his football staff. He was known for his kind treatment of reporters. He was tireless in visiting the numerous Auburn Alumni chapters around the country and always had time for autographs and photos. Compare and contrast this with past Auburn coaches Pat Dye--who they named a freakin' field after for smaller accomplishments than Tuberville--and Terry Bowden. Anyone? Guess representing a university well doesn't count for much anymore. Just win, baby.

I believe in my country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God."

This last summer our football coach went to Iraq and played football with the troops. Again, I'll refer you to the hire of a team chaplain on that last section...and, just so you know, the Evil Crimson Empire hires motivational speakers to come in every now and again. Our guys could walk down the hall for spiritual counsel from somebody that played there, somebody that they had a relationship and a context with. I'll refer you again to the human touch thing. Guess we should be just like all the other schools and bring in hired guns, huh?

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things,

Ummm. Well. Hmmm. Actions speak louder than words, trustees. Or is the romance and intent of the words all that matters anymore? Guess public perception of these words is better than actually sticking to them.

I believe in Auburn and love it.

It's an "if-then" proposition, Auburn leadership. My belief and love is founded on the reality of what we collectively say we believe in and you're not sticking to your end of the "if" proposition...

...and since love is a choice, make it awfully hard to love you today. This may take a while for me to make that choice again. And for my feelings to follow that choice, well, it may take a bit longer. At least major league football is honest about hired guns and mercenaries.

Guess you're hoping that we'll all fall back in line when we're back in Atlanta and/or Pasadena...

Guess you think that we'd rather win doing things the way everybody else does them than be competitive in an honorable manner...

Hope and think again.

War Eagle, anyway.

Brent McKinney
Class of 1987