Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh but surely just for one day, we could fight and we could win. And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible


I've done these before...but it circled back around on Facebook and one of my new students "tagged" me in one of these memes. She said she wanted to get to know me better...and I really like this kid and didn't want to disappoint her.

So, here's 30 things about me...

1. The last two CD's I purchased are by Frank Turner (Poetry of the Dead & Love Ire & Song). My life is better since listening to them.

2. My favorite authors are Douglas Coupland and David Foster Wallace.

3. I'm a dog person. I'm also an anti-cat person.

4. I do the dishes in my house almost every night.

5. My diet & exercise program goes in spurts. Instead of moderation all the time, I'm like three months of intense working out followed by 2.5 months of doing nothing.

6. I don't watch much network television (other than live sports) because the best original television being made right now is on cable.

7. I never really wanted a son. I've been smitten with my daughters and they've made it easy for me to both love and like them.

8. I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas. Too much hullaballoo and stress around Christmas.

9. I enjoy reading newspapers. On my phone, I have apps for most major US cities' papers. The perspectives are different and help me to think about what I believe.

10. I simply couldn't care less about fashion. I'm all about comfort and function in this arena. People have tried to make me care and I just can't.

11. I've always wanted to live downtown in a big city.

12. Contrary to popular belief, I don't detest living in the suburbs. I like to think I see through the unintended mixed messages this lifestyle affords and try to expose those. But I do like good schools, unlimited opportunities, safe neighborhoods and all the good stuff about the 'burbs, too.

13. I've enjoyed every single stage of parenting people tried to warn me about, but I don't want to go back to relive any of them.

14. I've never been very good at video games. I still don't play them unless it's for fun on the Wii with friends. Even then, I don't win much.

15. I have workaholic tendencies. I never take my vacation time until my supervisor reminds me the end of the year is coming up and if I don't use them, I lose them. I've only missed a handful of days at work due to illness.

16. I can juggle pretty well.

17. I had a pretty great childhood up until age 13. After my dad died, I went through a lot, but I've always had a loving family and supportive friends. I've been surrounded by great people pretty consistently.

18. Before I came to my current church, I was getting ready to leave ministry forever. I'd been in two very difficult ministry situations and had enough of the professional minister's life. My current church fixed that. Now I can't imagine doing anything else.

19. One of my pet peeves is when any adult discounts the emotions/experiences a teenager has with comments like, "It's only puppy love" or "You don't know what stress is yet." Teens go through real, albeit age-appropriate, stresses. An adult wouldn't like it if someone discounted their stresses and strains because the hearer could claim greater stress.

20. I've always had an innate sense of balance, and doing things that require that come VERY easily to me. Snow skiing, riding a bike, ice skating, when my dog runs under my feet I don't fall, etc.

21. I grew up in Alabama in the early 70's and still never understood racist beliefs or actions. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he said we should judge people not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

22. I spend a great deal of my time wondering how the rest of the world sees things one way and I don't see them that way at all. I feel like an a visitor in places I should feel at home.

23. I'm thinking about getting another tattoo.

24. I never even tried a cigarette or cigar, nor any illegal drug. Just never seemed all that interesting to me.

25. I don't like board games or card games. If I have to play a board game, The Game of Life is okay. If I have to play a card game, Phase 10 is bearable.

26. I don't dance. Can't dance. Won't dance. Although I imagine I'll do the mid-school sway with my daughters if they get married. And if my wife wants me to slow dance with her on those days, I imagine I could be persuaded.

27. My wife is a better person than me. In almost every way. She's smarter. She's better with people. She's artistically talented. I'm still floored by the reality that she sticks around. I'm no day at the beach. And I love her more today than the day we married. Whoever says that doesn't happen is telling you nonsense on stilts.

28. I played either baseball or softball for 18 seasons and never, ever hit a home run over the fence.

29. I'd rather eat a dive with incredible food and wipe my mouth with a paper towel than eat and a fancy place with drizzle over the food and fine linen.

30. All my grandparents passed away before I was 30, and my parents both passed before I was 40. I always thought my sister was great and especially came to admire her as we got older, but I cherish her now. It's the most important relationship I have on the planet that doesn't live in my house.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Telling Me The Beatles Are On iTunes Is Like Telling Me Grandpa Finally Got A Color TV"

Lots of hype yesterday about The Beatles songs are finally available on iTunes...

...and the title of today's entry pretty much summed up my thoughts on the matter.

First of all, I can't imagine any Beatles fan didn't already have their songs in several formats. I'm not much of a fan of theirs, but I had on of their many greatest hits compilations on vinyl, cassette, and CD already. Yeah, they were already in my iTunes library, too.

Secondly, it highlighted a generational reality: The Beatles are NOT relevant to the current generations of young people. They are historic in a sense. I mean, they know that they were important FIFTY YEARS AGO (and, as I maintain, more culturally important than musically innovative) but they probably couldn't name all four of them and really only a few songs.

Hence, the types of Twitter updates in the title of this post by twentysomethings.

Hence, FaceBook status updates that said, "Beatles on iTunes? I'll remember that then next time I actually BUY music off the internet...which means NEVER." What that means is that most younger folks don't see downloading music from sites for free as piracy, and iTunes is something THEIR PARENTS use. It's already "out."

So, as I was watching the news I was noting that the piece was really for the 35-54 folks in the world...

...because it was a punch line to younger generations.

Folks, if the church is serious about reaching them, we better learn how they operate.


Think about it.

And, ironically, I purchased Social Distortion's new single (to promote their January 2011 new CD release) off iTunes.

If you didn't catch the irony: Social Distortion is 25 years old. Punk is a quarter century removed from relevancy, and I'm in the target demographic using iTunes.
The Four Food Groups Are Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corn, and Syrup


After a nice lunch downloading my vacation thoughts and experiences to my wife...

...and getting my luggage out of the trunk...

...and walking up the sidewalk...

...I noticed that, while I was gone on vacation, my wife and Kid2 had decorated the entire inside of the house for Christmas.

Long-time Diner readers will remember that I have a strict "Friday After Thanksgiving Policy" regarding Christmas decor which I have lovingly yet rigidly reinforced annually in the McKinney household. And, even then I viewed that as a concession to the "Eddie McKinney Christmas Decor Manifesto" (enforced in my childhood home) was two weeks before Christmas with a day-after takedown.

The "McKinney Women's 2010 Addendum" apparently states when the author of the standing policy leaves the state in November, any and all Christmas decor decisions will be left up to whomever locks the front doors at night. It also states that the original decree remains in effect regarding any and all outside decorations.

That's right. Our inner house is ready for Christmas two weeks before Thanksgiving. (And, secretly, I'm happy that they're so happy about it all)

Fa la la la la, la la la la, everybody!
I Can't Take The Books Back To Powell's When I'm Finished If They're On A Kindle

Portland Vacation Wrap-Up:

Spent the last day sleeping in...well, sleeping in for me, which is like 8:30am. Journaled for about an hour and a half sitting outside on an overcast day with a slight chill in the air..., yes, there was a lot on my mind and a lot of things to think through and deal with...

...which is something that may not have been communicated in the earlier entries, which are more like travel logs.

There were some provocative things going on in my brain after the sermon.
There were some provocative things going on in my brain after my conversations with friends.
There were some provocative things going on in my brain after digesting the books I read.
There were some provocative things going on in in my brain in general.

And, no, you won't be getting any information on that right now.

But it was 6 days of sightseeing and visiting old friends with a lot of time to put my thoughts and such on paper. Organize them. Deal with them, etc.

And I finished up the last day by popping in on my friends and saying goodbye.

And doing laundry. Turns out that I can pack perfectly for 6 days in a carry-on, but had to do laundry for that last day, and, as an added bonus, came home with pretty much all my clothes clean! Nice.

And, even nicer, got to spend a couple of hours with Steve-O and Mish to sort of bring the vacation to a nice ending point. Good conversation, good laughs and good beer.

Yesterday was just flight time back. I will say this, though: The regional airlines get some sorry terminal placement at major airports. No frills anywhere at anytime in Dallas or Denver.

Overall it was a fantastic vacation...and manalive, for a myriad of reasons, I really dig Portland.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wild-Eyed Enthusiasm About My Wants & Needs

Observations from vacation, Day 6:

My hosts Ma Deb & Steve attend The Imago Dei Community (a growing church currently with 1,500 or so in Sunday worship and a healthy small group ministry commitment that fuels their mid-week discipleship). It's a church that started about 10 years ago in Portland and I've been listening to their pastor, Rick McKinley, via podcast, consistently for the last 5 years or so...and I was very much looking forward to it.

The church has a very young demographic...mid to late 20's would be my guess. And, Steve, who is highly involved in the church's I.T. department, filled me in on a lot of their history and philosophy from a first-hand perspective. He mentioned some security measures the church put in place as they have an inner-city campus and I asked a few questions. At one point, Steve said, "Well, at Imago, sometimes you can't distinguish between a Ph.D student, a homeless guy or a starving artist." He wasn't far off.

There were dreadlocks, kilts, piercings and tattoos were easily the norm, knit caps, beards...and the vibe coming in felt exciting and expectant, even with the drizzle. Maybe it was just me. To be sure, there were a few more mature believers scattered about, but you had to look for them.

I wasn't officially "greeted" at the door. Long-time readers know of my disdain for a group of trained greeters so I felt right at home. Then again, I wasn't a young couple trying to find the place to put my kids, either. But I liked being just a visitor at the church, getting coffee and just having the people you ran across just say "hello" or "good morning." Seemed more natural that way.

Went into the service and they did a lot of things we tried to implement during our church's 5 O'Clock Worship service: the band was deep on the stage, with no "main" person leading in the center. The "bulletin" was simply a half-sheet of paper. The volume wasn't too loud or too soft (you could hear the music as well as the other people singing around you). The video announcements were appropriately clever and funny but got the point across. The lighting was dim but not too dark. Candles. Communion set up front. The song choices (none of which I'd heard) were played by volunteers who weren't polished all the time--which I like. It seemed more natural than slick.

The three things that stood out to me were first, their program "Change for a Dollar." We do something similar in our student ministry as an offering...we simply take up loose change each week, and make a donation to the Somaly Mam Foundation every time we get to $500 to aid in getting young people out of the sex-slave trade. They have a person each week who tells a story (this week's was about a woman on a train who'd come from Somolia, her husband left her in poverty with 2 kids. The Imago woman who'd met her took her groceries, but noticed they didn't have anything at all for furnishings or basic American necessities). So, at the end of the service people can put loose change or a dollar in the buckets and all that will go to that Somali family. There was a blog link given so folks could keep up with that ministry...very nice idea that highlights helping folks one at a time.

Secondly, this church lead The Advent Conspiracy idea. A few years back, they taught a series on scaling back your Christmas spending and the church as a community using that money by giving to a cause. The big kick-off will take place next week...but they were making announcements about a DIY kind of fair the next weekend that would teach people how to make jewelry or woodworking stuff or whatever so the "gifts would cost less and mean more." There's a reason other churches across the country have jumped on this bandwagon.

Lastly, the sermon, given by Heather Thomas, was well taught...she was faithful to the text (as part of a series) in context as well as exegetical. She's a director of one of their ministries and was teaching under the authority of their elder board so I personally think this seems like a healthy compromise in the sometimes heated Bible-belt discussions on women as teachers (in or out of the pulpit). It's a discussion I wouldn't mind having over coffee with their elders to find their thinking on the matter, but I felt comfortable with the idea as well as the teaching. As a side note, Imago does not have women elders or female pastors. Hence, my thinking this might be a healthy and scriptural compromise.

A very enjoyable Sunday of worship.

We had lunch at the Horsebrass Pub...and authentic English-style pub. Very dark hardwood decor, pints of beer with a five page list of offerings, etc. Loved the atmosphere and the food was good, too.

Headed home for a drizzly afternoon of napping, reading & football.

Around dinner time, Mark and Kristy, Katie and Michael and Danny showed up for a night of laughing so much about old times that my sides hurt by 10:30pm. You don't realize as it's happening the strong memories students are getting in their time of life-together as a Christian community at that age. Years and years of common experiences came out, and it was so nice to think that all those former students and all those great memories, well, I was not only a part of, but a minor contributor to, their spiritual growth. At that time, anyway. Sure, the nature of the beast in youth ministry is that you're framing a foundation that parent's build...which will have other electricians and plumbers and roofers and sheetrock and decorators and landscapers will finish up. So, now I'm looking at "houses" much further along than when my part of the job was complete...which was nice to see God's work in their lives. But I'm glad they had fond recollections of the early part of the process.

What I really regret is that we were so engrossed in the stories and laughs that I forgot to get a photo with all of them together. Dangit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Dragon Couldn't Make It

Observations from Portland Vacation, Day 5:

This is Tucker:

Tucker belongs to the Swope's. He's a six-month old Lhasa Apso and he's hilarious. His main job today was to occupy my nerves while I watched the porous Auburn defense try to stop Georgia. His main job all week has been to try to fill in for Lloyd. He's performed admirably.

Anyway, I have trouble getting my mind around the sports times here on the west coast. See, I grew up in the central time zone...never lived outside of it. So you get accustomed to sports starting at certain times. Like, baseball games would start at 7:05pm. Or SEC football games are at 11:30am, 2:30pm, 6pm or 6:30pm. The NFL noon kickoff or 3:15pm. So, it's strange for me to have gotten up, gone through the daily routine, grabbed some lunch, and my normal "2:30" kickoff happens at 12:30pm. Not only that, plenty of scores from the games in other parts of the country were final or close to it. The reverse is true, too. After the game, you might grab dinner. Here, after the game you have a couple of hours to kill before dinner time.

Well, Auburn pulled it out 49-31 in a game that was closer than 18 points and became the SEC West Division champs for this year. Did it under a swirl of controversy, much of which I believe to be media created. It's amazing when a university and quarterback--who have not been accused of anything in the process--can have their names dragged through the mud by, at best, inference. Kinda takes the fun out of what should be a great story and a great season. Tucker didn't seem to have an opinion on the matter.

The plan was to hang out with Michael Alpert last night. I really like moving from "teacher" to "friend" and I've known Michael for over a decade. The last 6 years we've been friends and it was great to have time to get caught up on anything and everything. College football, life stations, the spiritual life in cultural contexts, deep questions, movie quotes, our walks with Christ. It all came up.

Our goal was to hit some places the locals like...and move from greasy spoon to dive to bigger dive. We both are the kind of people that would rather see a good band in a crowded bar than in an arena, so this worked out.

We started at Paccini's. Very good pizza even though the very nice waitress told us the oven broke and they were trying to fix it. I don't know if it's because the wait made us hungrier or what, but the pizza was very good. Michael's job was to get me a good beer at each place. This one was called Dead Man.

Next we were off to Life of Riley. As far as dives go, this fit the bill pretty well. What's cool is that this area of downtown was served by free public transportation. You could park in one spot, eat, and even though the next place was maybe 10 or 15 blocks away, no worries. Just wait 10 minutes, train comes by, hop on, arrive at the next place. Very cool, especially since Danny "The Dragon" was going to drive us but got called in to work at the last minute. Life of Riley had a very good wheat beer with a German name I can't pronounce, much less type accurately.

As per usual, when we have moments like this, we taunt Jeff with a photo of us having fun. Quality is irrelevant. This was just enough to get our point across.

Finished up at the aptly named Low Brow Lounge. Again, a good beer, but I'll have to ask Mike the name of this one again. We were pretty engrossed in conversation so it never really hit my radar. Cool thing about this place was that it had one of those old-school Pac-Man games that doubles as a table. The only way it could've been "divier" would be to have the old-school bowling game with a puck you slide down a wooden lane with sawdust on it.

Nice to have a night with a slow pace, free public transportation, talking about everything and nothing. And to have a good friend give insights that kind of confirm what you're already thinking about.

Very good way to end a day, that's for sure.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

That's Just False Advertising

Observations from vacation, Day 4:

Ma Deb took a day off. Her retired husband Steve shirked some responsibilities and guided the tour. My friend Mike (did part of his wedding ceremony, too) had the day off from his student teaching and came along for the ride. We got out to see Oregon, and kids, I gotta say it's truly beautiful. Sometimes we cheapen that word, but it's beautiful.

We drove along the Columbia River and on our way to Hood River we got to see Multnomah Falls. The Columbia River has enough views of it's own to make it worth the ride.

So, we get to Hood River...and park in the lot here:

Mike was a little angsty because the Full Sail folks have a large sign on the highway side of the building announcing a tasting room yet it's apparently been closed for a while. No need for tasting, anyway, as there's plenty at the house.

So, we mosey and shop at a bookstore (I'd use the adjective "quaint" but that kind of fits everything about the town) along streets that all pretty much look like this:

While we were in the book store, Ma Deb and Steve went into a pet store. The store had signs like these in them:

Let's be honest, here. The message is intended for humans. Dogs can't read, man. Good advice, nonetheless.

These are the kinds of signs I'd never buy but find they're kind of "pawky." Now can I get my award for using the word of the day correctly in a sentence, Ma Deb?

Then on to a local brewery/restaurant that, for reasons you'll see soon enough, I'm making this a destination anytime in in the area.

See, they make their own special blend once a year and the 2010 version of Devil's Kriek seemed to be the choice to make (hey, man, when in Rome, pay for the good stuff, right?) to go along with some excellent brick-oven pizza. Read the description of this stuff:

Admittedly, I'm a beer neophyte and can't say I've tried a ton of beers, but I've had a bunch. Never in my life have I had a beer that tasted this good. And I tried to buy some in a growler to go, but the only way they even let it be purchased is one 12oz. glass at a time, right there in the taproom. Nobody, not even employees, is allowed to take it out of the room. We had a discussion as to how much money the owner would need to break that which we decided that no matter how much it was, at a certain price, no matter how good the beer is, it simply isn't worth it. So, the owner will just have to take $8 bucks a time, I guess.

Then we crossed the river into Washington to go to the Maryhill Winery. It was Washington's "Winery of the Year" winner for 2009. Ma Deb had gotten some wine there she really liked and wanted to pick up some more of it. We were treated to this view:

They also have an amphitheatre there that looked like it would hold 4,000 or so people, I guess. Lyle Lovett played there recently...and I thought that would be kind of a nice day. Little wine tasting in the early afternoon, set out a blanket near this view and listen to a little Lyle.

Then we drove back on the Washington side of the river and Steve and Ma Deb knew of a nice place about halfway back where we could stop, get a snack & a drink and stretch our legs a bit. The hotel was cool, with a large fireplace in the middle of this room with this view. There are worse ways to drink a girly drink (I hate it when I order a drink that sounds good and then it comes all fruity and girly--it was good anyway).

Just so you know, the Skamania Lodge is "guided by principles of sustainability," whatever the heck that means. It was on all their menus and stuff.

After Mikey forgetting what day it was, we came home, grabbed Danny "The Dragon" and went out to dinner at "Portland's 6th best seafood place" according to Ma Deb's Zagat Guide or something. Peculiarly named:

Suffice to say that it was Chinese dishes with a lot of options for very good seafood. But make no mistake, this was a Chinese restaurant...and I have no idea where Zagat would rate it as a Chinese food place, but it was really, really good food,too. And there were discussions about centrifugal force and the lazy susan and a ride home discussion about a 25 pound bag of peanuts that were available for purchase.

A day of great experiences, views, drink, food, and friends. We really should do this every day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

There's Really Only One Sensible Thing To Do

Vacation observations, Day, 3:

Me and my old friend Steve-O planned to hang out for the afternoon. Steve-O's one of my former students and employees and now a good friend. I performed his wedding ceremony to the lovely Mish, and he's all hip and with-it.

We started out with lunch at Bunk Sandwiches. The instructions I gave Steve-O were simple: Let's eat at a place you like but rarely go. He chose Bunk, which fit my affinity for those greasy spoon hole-in-the-wall places that are always crowded and have very good food. Well chosen.

Next up on the agenda was Powell's City of Books downtown:

It's America's largest independently owned bookstore and looks a lot like this for five stories over one entire city block:

The real danger for a book lover like me is that you get overwhelmed with choices and possibilities and books you didn't know existed but now want and all that jazz. My favorite place to check out is the rare book room. This particular shot is of a Salinger first-edition and a Woolf first-edition. The cost to take these two home is around $13K.

Then we headed off to Heart, a nice little coffee shop Steve-O wanted to try. There are TONS of coffee shops in the Portland area, and I'm not exactly sure what would make this one any better than the others other than personal preference, but the conversation was good and we got all caught up. We also sent his entire family photos of us hanging out and had a good time with their responses.

There was supposed to be a large gathering of most everyone I know in Portland, but it didn't happen due to illnesses and such (the onset of the rainy weather and all seems to cause folks to get sick early on in the season). There's another one slated for Sunday night, so that'll be good.

A few photos from my trip up and down Hawthorne two days ago:

This made me think of me (center) and my daughter (right):

Me and all my church dorkiness:

I really have no idea why I'm so fascinated with living in a loft downtown anywhere. These start at like $1.5 million. It costs to be trendy, man.

Anyway, I have trouble throwing things away here. See, they not only have trash bins, but also recycling bins which are broken into TYPES of recycling. Throwing away the left-over stuff on your tray at a restaurant is more confusing than it has to be. The funny thing is that when I'm about to throw something away at my host's home, I'll ask which part of the divided trash can it's supposed to go in. Even the locals say they're not sure they get their trash thrown away right every time.

I finished a book by Andrew Farley titled, "The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church." It's very accessible by the average reader and still talks about the things that are near and dear to my heart regarding salvation and the spiritual life. A well-done exegesis of some misinterpreted passages of Scripture, especially on 1 John 1:9.

Like most vacations, well, I'm just starting to get relaxed. It usually takes me 2 or 3 days of good sleep and no schedule and fun stuff to get to where I'm feeling the tension of life kind of go away. Looking forward to the next few days of this, too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unlearning As Learning

Observations from my Portland vacation, Day 2:

Again, I'm more tired than I thought. 12 hours of sleep yesterday, 7 today (so far).

I realized that I'm a church geek. Here's what I mean: I'm on vacation, and I get very excited when my hosts tell me that, before lunch, I'll be getting a tour of their church. Now, sure, I listen to their pastor teach via podcast most every week, but still, I was looking forward to the tour of it big time. I got to take a look at their offices, the children's area, the auditorium, the student ministry area. The whole shebang. It was GREAT.

I never really needed to gripe or complain about our youth facilities and such as CBC. I mean, I was in on the design committee and our leadership has made sure we have everything we need (and most of what we want) to do our ministry. The church I visited yesterday would've killed for our youth-dedicated space.

Portland has a sensitivity to the homeless population. The city does some organized things to try to help. Local businesses put signs in their windows saying things like if you need a job interview, they'll press and clean your suit for free. Local churches put in warming stations in the winter. I'm sure I'm not the first to have this thought, but if I were homeless, I think I'd migrate in the winter.

Had lunch downtown in a nice little tavern. They were even showing the Premier League on big screens. Food was good. Company was good. Microbrew was good.

Weather was partly sunny and in the 50's. Can't complain. Nice to walk around a lot and not sweat.

I spent a little time wandering around Hawthorne. It's just a street that has had a bunch of locally owned businesses ccreate a nice 4 or 5 city-block area. It creates the effect of a mall. It was kinda cool...and you see all types, from grandmas to punks and everything in-between.

The coffeeshop I stopped to read in had a security code on the restrooms...I'm sure to prevent folks on Hawthorne from just popping in to use the facilities. What I found amusing was that it appeared that the homeless had discovered the day's code and began sharing it with each other. A bunch of folks who didn't buy anything were undeterred by the security code.

Had a nice dinner and visit with Meredith and Jake and Finley. Remind myself to get the soup recipe from Merdy. Danny and Jake got involved in Call of Duty: Black Ops. I watched, fascinated by the complexity of video games. They were playing folks from all over the world, talking on headsets and such. Killing. Lots of killing.

I'll try to post some photos later...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

Observations from my Portland vacation, Day 1:

I generally don't sleep well before I fly. I toss and turn and check the clock and mentally gripe about how I need to be sleeping. I have no idea why this is. Maybe I'd be better if I traveled more.

I thoroughly enjoy the destinations. I thoroughly detest the travel to get to the destinations. Doesn't matter if it's a car or a plane or a bus or van or whatever else you can envision. I'm one of those people that the vacation begins when I get there, not on the journey to get there.

For some reason, on airplanes, my left ear gets clogged about the time we begin the approach to the aiport. It takes several hours for this to dissipate. Like hiccups, I've been given a bunch of ways to prevent it (i.e., chewing gum) and to get rid of it once it happens (i.e., hold your nose and blow). None seem to work.

Arriving in Portland was glorious to me: A drizzling rain and chilly temperatures. I don't know why this type of weather does it for me, but manalive does it.

Whatever airline execs thought up fees for checking bags likely had no idea of the unintended consequences of that action: I was on one flight in which there were 40 empty seats and the flight attendant threatened to make people check bags if folks didn't obey the rules by putting stuff under their seats. They complied. Either way, folks will save $50 round-trip per bag to cram stuff in carry-ons and push limits of the definition of "carry on."

Not much happens at Phoenix's SkyHarbor Airport at 7:50am local time.

How come every other airport has free Wi-Fi but not DFW?

I was blessed to have an empty seat next to me on my first flight, and had the entire row on my connecting flight. I actually slept on a plane...which was needed with the 3:45am wake-up call to get to the airport on time.

I'd forgotten that Fall involves colors in other parts of the world.

My hosts had their version of minichurch (called home groups) last night, held in their home. Their church doesn't have groups by various "affinities" (say, young-marrieds, or empty-nesters, or dual-income-no-kids, etc.) but it's by simple geography. So, it allows for singles, college kids, young marrieds, and empty nesters to be in the group. This fits with my belief in a "converging" church where the generations mix, and it was interesting to see first-hand. I can see some drawbacks to this methodology, but my guess is they'd be balanced by the advantages of life together--no matter what stage of life you're in, you're doing it together.

For some reason, I always underestimate my fatigue level when I go on vacatation. My mind-set is, "Well, it'll be good to get away, but I don't really need it." Then I haul off and sleep 10 hours and don't feel like it's enough (re: I'll take a serious nap later).

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

comic courtesy ArcaMax Publishing


This is what it looks like when you combine "teaching to the test" with "test-taking strategies" and "class ranking" with "education as success" mindsets.

So many of my students don't want to think anymore...just get the "right" answer, do well on the test, make mom and dad proud, try to get into a good college, etc. This includes my Sunday School and Bible study groups, folks.

And, don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that my academic achievement in high school consisted of exploring the condition of the universe and my place within it. Not at all.

There simply wasn't societal pressure of standardized testing and anyone who with a diploma could pretty much get into a state school.

And I have NO solutions or quick-fix ideas at the moment, either. It's simply the way it is.