Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review of 2009

Simply put,

...using the simplest definitions and the most convenient terms...

2009, don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.
The Decade in Review

I feel obliged to review the entire decade of the Aughts. Not sure why, exactly, but it seems like everybody else that has any type of media forum has been doing it. So, I'll jump on the bandwagon.

I decided to do so by just thinking from a historical perspective. What will people in 15 or 20 years say when they talk about this decade?

For Americans, I don't think there's any question they'll start with 9/11. Personally, it seems like I remember most of that three day period...listening to the sports talk radio crew on the way into work talk about how there was a fire in the World Trade Center towers, but talking to the Cowboys' owner about the early season review of the team; watching the World Trade Center towers fall from a television set I wheeled into my tiny office in our old church building...complete with pilot's wives (we live in a community where the economy is driven a great deal by the airline industry) coming out of their morning Bible study and trying to get any information they could about their husbands. The three days of being glued to the television news. The lack of planes in the sky around our city, which is never the case.

And, that event was a catalyst of sorts for military action by our nation around the world. Military action that created all sorts of mixed feelings for me. No matter. We're in it now, whether you agree or disagree with the reasons why we're in it now. I have former students who are serving or served time in both theaters of the war, so it's somewhat personal...and I'm very proud of them. Granted, I never experienced the 1960's anti-war sentiments and I have no idea what soldiers of that era experienced...but I can tell you this much: I'm grateful for soldiers who do their jobs, man. And I really like that no matter what philosophical or political viewpoint people have about the war itself, they support the young men and women who are laying their lives on the line at the request of our nation. I still am humbled when I see a soldier walking through our airport (DFW is a major connection point for them to get planes to wherever "home" is for them), and maybe more appreciative than ever.

That military intervention and the need to pay for it led to the 2nd thing I think historians will look back on: The state of the American economy during these years. I can honestly say that it hit home as I've had friends lose jobs, or have to take salary reductions, or do without bonuses...and we're not even in an area that has been "hit hard" (although, my guess is that, to each individual family that experienced negative consequences the phrase "hit hard" has a different meaning) by the weakened economy. The *ahem* creative accounting affected the banking and real estate industries profoundly...which are pretty important being that it makes the American Dream happen.

The third thing I think historians will look back on is the election of Barack Obama. Far be it for me as a suburban kid who grew up in Alabama to be so presumptuous as to assume I have any idea of what this meant to and means for minorities in our country. However, I think it's highly important for the advancement of civil rights. Beyond that, I enjoyed watching his campaign...energizing the young voters. I like what I read about him as a husband and father. I have no idea how history will look back on his presidency, though. I think the first year has shown that it's one thing to run for president and another to actually be president. My only wish, amidst whatever political disagreements I may or may not have with our sitting president, is that Christians would do 2 things: Show more respect for the office President Obama holds. Like him or not, he's still the leader of the free world. Secondly, spend more time praying for him than griping about him/his policies. Seems to me my Tribe has been a little less loving and prayerful than I'd like. I mean, don't we want him to succeed? I'm as big a fan of dissent that's out there, but I'm praying and pulling for Obama to do well--same for our Congress and Supreme Court. Either way his presidency goes, though, his election was an important moment for our nation.

Personally, there was a great deal to enjoy about the decade.

I watched my wife become more beautiful. I mean, I watched her find and develop artistic skills that I admire...and it's very cool to truly admire the person you're married to. When she walks into a room wearing a sweatshirt and jeans I still look up and my thoughts go to how pretty she is. She's always been smart. And funny. Maybe this decade has really allowed me to truly appreciate who lives under my roof more than I have in the past. I am not using hyperbole when I say that lesser women would have been gone long ago. As far as marriage goes, I'm no day at the beach.

I watched my daughters grow from 8 and 6 year-olds into young women who are being who they're supposed to be in Him. They're enjoyable people...and I think they'd be the kind of people I'd hang out with even if I wasn't related to them. Honestly, they've made my job as a parent very easy. In fact, as the next decade will see the missus and I become empty-nesters, I'm excited to see what and who they become. Being the dad of daughters is something I'm wired to do and they still make my heart melt by simply putting a "dy" on the word "dad."

I watched my sister marry a great guy and become a higher-order life-living mom. I'm happy she's happy...even with the lack of sleep that toddlers and little kids bring about. The phase will pass, and I'd imagine the next decade will be pretty enjoyable for the Sentz family.

I became much better friends with my sister-in-law. I got to spend more time with her when my mom was sick and on a couple of vacations...and it's pretty cool watching my nephew get into high school sports and my partner-in-crime niece fail to put up with the grief I give her and dish it right back. The decade looks pretty good for the Walsh's, too.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law went through some serious health issues in the last year. The reality is that I've always understood I'm pretty blessed in the in-law department, and this year underscored that reality and put it in ALL CAPS.

Professionally, there were ups and downs...most of them already chronicled so I won't bother to reiterate them here. I think ups and downs come with any job and any profession, anyway. Kind of boring to talk about them either way.

Some other things of note that stand out:

My mom died of cancer. Frankly, I've had enough with cancer in the lives of my family and friends.
The church I love went through some difficult times.
We put a GREAT dog to sleep, and for dog people, that's gonna stand out. 14 years worth.
The iPod changed things. So did "social networking."
The 2004 Auburn Tigers ran the table. I appreciate it more with each passing year.
For Dallasites, Jerry Jones built the coolest football stadium imaginable. The Jones Mahal is magnificent.

And, I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of things...(and yes, I intentionally left out music/movies/television)

...but overall...

...the Aughts weren't too bad for The Diner.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As you can tell...

...I'm in the process of getting a new template & design.

That process was caused by Haloscan, the company I've gotten free comments from for the 6 years of The Diner, beginning to charge for their product. Such is life.

Currently, they allowed me to download all the past comments into an "xml" file...and I'm working on importing them to the blog. Any help from any of you would be appreciated.

And, yes, I intend to use my own template. I have no idea when that will happen, though. Lots of details to handle before that happens.

So, just trying to figure out how to get those comments transferred before I move on to template re-design.

See ya later.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Did These Advertising Executives Go To College?

Your honor, may I present exhibit A?:

The defense rests.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting the Brain Engaged, Part 1

Like many magazines on the stand this time of year, Esquire has released a list of the folks they deem the "best and brightest" for 2009. One of those chosen is Shane Claiborne, who started a ministry to the poor and named it "The Simple Way."

Here's something to whet the appetite:
"The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus."

Here's the link to What if Jesus Meant All This Stuff?

Your thoughts?