Monday, August 31, 2015

Make Ur Move

A pastor friend of mine wrote a blog on the difference between joy and happiness. He closed his piece with the question, "Do you have joy or happiness?" My reply to him was, "I haven't held joy or happiness in such a long time that I am often discouraged and focus on the negative." It was kind of a depressing answer, but I felt like his question as directed to me was moot. Both joy and happiness have been away from me for far too long. They have become absolute strangers to me.

I find that when I go through the valleys of life, I can easily become inured to feeling hopeless. The farther along the road of hopelessness I travel, the more I come to feel like the things that bring joy and happiness to others are just not meant for me. Some people are kings, some are professional athletes, and some entertainers of some reknown. While I recognize the reality that these folks exist, I also at the same time realize that I will never count myself in their numbers. It is much the same with me seeing joy and happiness mark the lives of others. I recognize that it exists, but it is something that I will never have.

Yet somewhere within me I recognize that on the merry-go-round of life, you have to get off at some point. The ride will last longer, be the more memorable, and a lot more enjoyable if you only reach out and pluck the brass ring from its holder. Said another way, 100% of dreams that are not addressed with intention will end as dust. So, when that brass ring of opportunity does come my way I pray that:
  1. I will recognize it.
  2. I will make my move.
  3. I will savor success if it comes, but I will enjoy satisfaction in failure if I gave it my best shot.

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Spring

The Wheel of Time is a well known fantasy series by the late author Robert Jordan that has a pretty serious following. I came to know of it because of Brandon Sanderson's involvement in finishing the series after Jordan's death in 2007, Sanderson being one of my favorites. Once I learned a bit about the story, I added it to my reading list. The series consists of 15 novels with the first being The Eye of the World. However, some 15 years and 10 books after the publication of the first book, Jordan released a "book 0" in the series, a prequel to help tell some of the back story about how the protagonists met. I decided to start with this book, New Spring.

The story begins in the land of Tar Valon at the end of the Aiel War. There we are introduced to a monastic order of powerful women with mystical powers whose ways are mysterious and ancient. A sisterhood to which all kingdom's pay a grand tribute. One of the officers of the Aes Sedai has an explosive vision in which she foretells the birth of the legendary savior of the people, the hero who will defeat the forces of darkness. A young initiate, Moiraine Damodred, overhears the vision and vows to go in search of the child. If the Aes Sedai cannot find the child first, the forces of darkness will destroy him in short order. On her journey Moiraine meets up with a man who at once unnerves and frustrates her. She cannot tell whether this Lan Mandragoran is a brigand or an oaf. Yet their fortunes become entwined when it seems the dark forces have targeted each of them. In time Moiraine learns that Lan is the chosen king of the long dead Malkieri kingdom, and Lan learns that Moiraine is a sorceress of the feared Aes Sedai. Yet when they understand that they have no past, only a common future, they bind their souls together in their common quest to find the "Dragon Reborn."

As the first book in a lengthy series, I was more than pleased to find an author who has the skill to pull me into an epic adventure that promises to be a great ride. The rumors of this series and its great reputation are well deserved. I move on now to the official first book in the series, The Eye of the World.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In the News 16

While I have not touched an actual newspaper in some time, I do skim through the online news headlines each day. There is always something that catches my attention, whether it involves human conflict, a human interest piece, the sports wrap, or just the usual absurdities. In this series, I carve out a space for my opinions, reminiscences, or comments.

Nevzat Aydin - The CEO of the largest food delivery company in Turkey had for 15 years built his business from the ground up. He was always very close and very appreciative of his employees and believed that they were the reason behind his success. Recently Mr. Aydin sold his company to a German conglomerate and decided to provide bonuses for his 114 employees amounting to a total of $27M. This is an average of nearly $250,000 per worker. Mr. Aydin was quoted as saying, "If there is a success, we have accomplished it all together." Man, I found this story quite refreshing. This story ran on CNN on July 28, 2015.

Major League Baseball - Back when I was a kid in the 1970s, following a baseball team was more than rooting for a particular colored jersey. Teams in those days tended to stay pretty much intact for quite some time. Cheering for a team meant cheering for a collection of individuals that you had come to know over time. It meant staying true through the peaks and through the valleys. Today, sports teams change over their complete rosters seemingly on an annual basis. If a team gets off to a bad start, it dumps all of its popular players to save some money. Then in the off-season, it just goes shopping for replacements to try again. Rice, Lynn, Evans, Hobson, Burleson, Doyle, Cooper, Fisk, Lee, Tiant, House, Carbo, Yastrzemski were all players on the Red Sox team that I rooted for growing up. Now I can name no more than a small handful on that team, and in a few years those names will turn to dust. I think the magic has long since disappeared. The stories of rampant player trades were in the news leading up to the Major League Baseball trading deadline of July 31, 2015.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Observations 104

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • I have been buying 1% milk for myself for years now. However, just recently I stopped to consider, what the heck is the other 99%?
  • Have you ever heard a conservative, management type use the word "butt load" in a meeting (as in "We have a butt load of equipment to procure.")? Kind of makes me want to ask, "Whose butt is being used as the basis for a quantitative measure?"
  • Who are these folks who drive these little putt-putt cars who cannot seem to make a U-turn on a wide road without having to shift from forward to reverse, forward to reverse? This is highly egregious!
  • Why is it that most of the self-service checkout lanes in the supermarket remain closed? I thought that the whole purpose in having them was to get folks in and out of the store sooner. Perhaps they are just for decoration?
  • When you buy an e-reader and first set it up, they ask you to read and then sign a "Terms and Conditions" agreement. On my Nook it ws 278 pages long. Has anyone ever read this tome?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Today's post marks another step on the journey, the journey to 2000. There is nothing special about what I have planned for the last part of this voyage, just more of the same. While some may not have noticed or even been able to read between the lines of my mind, I have written about some very personal things since my blog marker at post 1800 and definitely found a way to enjoy myself a bit in my writing. Who knows how things will evolve and move over the 100 in my last chapter?

Anyway, I definitely want to take a moment to 1). celebrate an occasion with a nice round number, 2). thank all of the folks who have supported this humble site over the years, and 3). take a breath. See you all on the journey ahead.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Minority Report

The notion of a so-called "Minority Report" is an interesting one. It is a term typically associated with a formal statement written by politicians on the losing side of a vote. Sometimes when the majority party passes some new piece of legislation, the leaders of the minority group will prepare a document detailing their objections to the new bill. It is not clear to me who the intended audience of such a work actually is, but I assume that they can be used for ammunition during the next election cycle and also for the losers to vent some of their pent up frustration with the system. Today I summarize my own version of a minority report, but from a decidedly non-political point of view. I would like to think that while my point of view might not get me an invitation to good-time Johnnie's calvacade of fun, that I am not representing the loser's platform.

Throughout my life I have been witness time and again to folks making not only ill-informed choices based on absolutely clouded reasoning, but folks taking actions because their "buddies" goad them into behaving against their upbringing and the values that they have been taught. The notion of peer pressure has been around a long time and its sometimes subtle effects have led so many folks astray. Although I have made my fair share of stupid choices over the years, thankfully very few have been the result of such external forces.

Kids are typically associated with the effects of peer pressure - underage drinking, teenage sex, drugs, cheating in school, vandalism, and bullying. However, grown-ups fall into their own traps of peer pressure. Overspending, gambling, adultery, petty competitions, silly feuds. I think that when you can learn to be comfortable with who you are, without the need for validation from your peers, you can live life marked by character and integrity. However, too often these terms are associated with the uncool and the unpopular. Most folks would rather knuckle under to make unwise choices rather than wear such labels. As for me, I have always been more than satisfied to proceed down my own road even if that means I travel alone.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Rithmatist

I have become a true fan of the fantasy genre. However, over the past year I have been introduced to Brandon Sanderson and he has set a mark that few others that I have read can match. Sanderson's writing has just blown me away with its originality, its whimsy, its compelling and true-to-life characters, its broad-reaching themes, its thought-provoking systems of magic, and above all else, its wonderful ability to tell a story that pulls me in deeply. In short, he has become one of my favorite authors. In my most recent Sanderson read, The Rithmatist, my opinions of him have only inured.

The story takes place at Ardemius Academy, a school for the training of the best and brightest young minds. The Academy is one of eight in the land that trains Rithmatists, soldiers who possess a unique ability to control lines drawn in chalk, who are essential in defending mankind against the magical savages known as Chalklings. The Academy not only serves to prepare these specially chosen children for warfare, but it also trains "ordinary" students. Joel was not selected as a Rithmatist, which was reason enough to be shunned by the elite Rithmatists, but neither is he a child of privilege like the majority of those on campus. He is allowed to attend because his father, who has served as a chalkmaster at the academy for many years, died in the line of his work. Because his father was close with the school's principal, Joel was allowed to attend. Even though Joel does not possess Rithmatic abilities, he has trained himself in their warfare. While their chalk lines actually serve a purpose in battle, Joel's are just doodles. However, his ability to drawn and to understand tactics is keen.

Joel gets a chance to make a difference and rise above his station when Rithmatists from the Academy begin to disappear and it is believed that a skilled Rithmatist is behind these actions. Joel has so focused his life on studying the art of these warriors that his insight and his passions prove to be quite valuable in uncovering the one responsible. In the aftermath of this harrowing and life-threatening adventure, Joel realizes that his efforts only represented victory in a minor skirmish, and that the main battle actually lies ahead.

The Rithmatist reaches a natural climax and conclusion, but it sets itself up well for the next part of the story which is expected to be released at some time next year. I eagerly look forward to the next chapter in this tale.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Observations 103

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • The other day at the supermarket, they were out of my manly Irish Spring bar soap. I was forced to purchase a Dove Beauty Bar. This marks the beginning of the end. Mark my words!
  • When I peeled the top off my key lime flavored yogurt the other day, the unnatural appearing green melange looked like the stuff that turns innocents into super villians. Strangely, however, it did not seem to have any affect on me.
  • A headline on CNN the other day read, "Protests: Breasts are not weapons". Perhaps they never saw Madonna in one of her pointy bras or that scene with the fembots from Austin Powers.
  • At least today is not a total bust, I did make my secretary pee herself.
  • As I was stopped behind a city bus the other day, I watched as a old woman got off. The first thing I noticed was that she had on these crazy tall 6-in high heels. The second thing I noticed was that she was using a cane. I wondered if the shoes necessitated the cane.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Movies

When it comes to the movies that we most often attend in the theaters, stereotypical gender roles often define our choices.

Women tend to like to see "chick flicks", movies about relational angst where a gaggle of put-upon gals get back at their male oppressors through clever humiliation or where a woman tenderly falls in love with that oh-so-perfect guy only to have one of them die of some incurable disease that nobody can pronounce and curiously always seems to off the inflicted just before the credits roll.

Men tend to like to see "action/adventure" romps. Movies with more bullets and bombs than actual words, where the bigger the explosions the better. They are thankful for the kissy/mushy scenes only because they afford them the opportunity to go take a quick leak and grab another tub o' popcorn and vat o' soda before the real movie actually starts up again.

Then there is me. I seem to only go see animated movies. Try as I might to defend these types of movies as "mainstream" or "acceptable for a grown man to see", I just cannot do it with a "straight face" or without using lots of "quotation marks". I recently came across a web site that listed the 500 biggest grossing movie releases of all time. The strange thing about the web site was its tag line, "Where Data and the Movie Business Meet." Whilst shaking my head at that inspired bit of inanity, I ran my finger ponderously down the list, keying on the top 100 movies. It turns out that I have seen 8 of the top 100, but 7 of these 8 are animated movies (Frozen, Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Up, Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredibles). The only non-animated movie on my list was the first Star Wars movie released back in the 1970s, back before I was forced to pop Geritol caplets like Skittles. While I would like to think that this list shows that I possess a certain youthful innocence, it probably would provide a health care "professional" fodder for years of painful therapy, probably involving "electroshock".

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Spiritual Muscles

Over the past 10 years I have been very consistent with my exercising. Every 3 or 4 days I spend an hour with my elliptical churning through mile after mile. Even though I never get anywhere, this virtual journey is one that I tend to look forward to for the most part. With a playlist of different songs set up on my music system, I let myself become part of the rhythm. I let it surround me and empty my mind of concerns and worries and anxiety. Both mental and physical health benefit as a result. On multiple occasions after a good exercise session has finished, answers to questions seem to bubble up to my mind and paths forward through issues that had plagued me are suddenly mapped out. However, back when I first started, I was only able to go for 10 minutes before my wheezing alerted me to stop.

Over the past several weeks I have augmented my time on the elliptical with swimming laps in my pool. After the first few sessions I was amazed at how few laps I could do. After a couple of up and backs my chest heaved and couldn't seem to draw in enough oxygen to satisfy. Yet I regularly spend an hour on my elliptical and my heart remains quiet and my breathing normal. Apparently swimming uses an entirely different set of muscles than does my elliptical work. It is also apparent that after many years of doing one sort of exercise, my body has become inured to the rigors and demands. Yet the moment I try something different, new aches and pains and, well, growth takes place.

For many years I have spent my devotional time in reading. I remember how fired up I used to get and how passionately I used to dive into these books. I used to take pages of notes and spend time considering carefully the discussion questions. Now, as I read I find that I stay relaxed. No pitter patter of my heart or my mind. Too often I do no more than glance at the discussion questions before I turn the page and move on. Perhaps it is time that I seek out a different approach to begin to tax a different set of spiritual muscles.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Sometimes warnings are accompanied by such dubious example it is laughable. Think about the parent who tells their child not to drink or smoke but then sends them down to the corner store every night for a pack of Luckys and a six-pack. Who are they trying to fool? Who do they think will take them seriously? The more reasons they pile on, the more they seem to be hiding something when their cautions don't match their words or their lifestyle.

Recently I attended an address by the Deputy Secretary of Energy who was asked a general question about U.S. policy regarding other nations trying to develop nuclear weapons technology of their own. Her answer was that our national policy is to portray countries going down such a path as "pariahs". Our approach toward such nations is to first shame them in the international community and then if that does not work, to hit them with economic and political sanctions until they come to heel. However, this approach seems to me to be wholly disingenous when the United States has a nearly infinite nuclear arsenal that can blow our planet into space nuggets within a few hours. What makes a country with the same goals as our pariahs? Why don't our policy
makers think that this label applies equally to us?

Since the development of nuclear weapons in the 1940s, only one country has ever used a nuclear weapon against a foe. Want to guess what country that was? Not only did we deploy a nuclear weapon on August 6, 1945 on Hiroshima in Japan, but we used a second one just three days later on Nagasaki. The number of people killed in the blasts was estimated at 200,000.

What gives us the right to try to appear to take the moral high road, wagging our fingers and getting all self-righteous when another country wants to develop the same offensive weaponry that we already own? You might think that this is all just political flim-flam and our policy makers and leaders are just trying to remain king of the international hill of power. However, listening to frank conversations of politicians when their guard is down, they actually believe the rhetoric that they are spinning. Our words don't match our lifestyle.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Without Fail

Over the last several months I have essentially slogged my way through the first five books in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. If you recall I have had a very low opinion of these books. The common descriptors would be far-fetched, contrived, implausible, inane, frustrating. Given that I purchased the first six books, I was determined to read every last word even if it led to diminished brain capacity on my part. Well you know what, I actually enjoyed the sixth book in the series, Without Fail. It definitely was a cut above the others. At least I think it was. Perhaps after five previous books, I am just worn down.

In this outing, Jack Reacher is sought out by a lady who was a girlfriend of his brother. Mary Ellen "M.E." Froelich is a CIA agent who is in charge of the security detail for the VP-elect. She is a qualified agent, but is worried that her male colleagues might be trying to unseat her from her role. She seeks out Reacher as a consultant to search for security gaps in the VPs protection. Reacher takes on the challenge, but he can tell from the start that Froelich is nervous about a concrete threat, that this consulting effort is more than just an exercise. Ultimately we learn that there has been a clear threat to the VP. Initially it is not clear if this threat is some CIA malcontent trying to embarrass Froelich, and the FBI is brought in work on the case. The FBI is convinced based on the evidence that the threats are indeed from the inside. However, Reacher is not convinced and follows his own nose.

In this episode, Reacher teams up with a partner, an ex-army friend called Neagley. Even though they have never hooked up on anything other than work, it is clear that they have feelings for each other. However, even beyond the surface tension this dynamic creates, they serve to well complement each other. Together they are more than they are as individuals. In the end, Reacher figures things out, gets the bad guys, and rides off alone into the sunset as he does at the end of all of his novels. The next book in the series is entitled, Persuader.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

In the News 15

While I have not touched an actual newspaper in some time, I do skim through the online news headlines each day. There is always something that catches my attention, whether it involves
human conflict, a human interest piece, the sports wrap, or just the usual absurdities. In this series, I carve out a space for my opinions, reminiscences, or comments.

Vladimir Putin - Putin, the President of Russia, has for his entire political career been a staunch opposer of the "west". Over the past several years he has been pursuing an aggressively antagonistic exercise of bizarre gamesmanship as a reaction to what he feels are increasing political and economic pressures from the United States and Europe. Aside from an extensive propaganda campaign, he has been using his military in Soviet-style expansionism warfare and ordering his air force to engage in provocative maneuvers flying in and around the airspace of other nations. On July 4 he had two Russian bombers fly within 12 miles of the California coast. This is an example of a person who single-handedly makes the world a much more unstable and darker place.

Colin Cowherd - I have been listening to sports radio for the past year or so. For the most part all of the hosts of the different shows sound exactly the same and are completely ubiquitous and interchangeable. When I came across Cowherd on ESPN radio, he was part Keith Olbermann, part Rush Limbaugh, and part Dan Patrick, but with his own style, his own compass, and his own flavor. He stood out from the rest of the completely vanilla crowd and I enjoyed listening to him. He was fired by ESPN on July 24 after he made what the network claimed were derogatory statements about Dominicans. I listened to the segment in question and it was definitely not an offense to crucify somebody over. I for one consider myself a fan and will miss listening to his program.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Observations 102

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • The crucible for silver and the furnance for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. (Proverbs 27:21)
  • I know this is old news, but Donald Trump's off the cuff remark about John McCain not being a war hero makes me giggle. He actually said "He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."
  • If you just crawled out from under a moist, moss-covered rock, Trump is trying to pretend that he is a politician. If you can picture him sitting in the oval office as president of the United States, you might even picture him saying the following quote that he actually said about Rosie O'Donnell, "She went to my wedding. She had lots and lots of cake, and I'll tell you what, she is a terrible human being."
  • In what must have been a slow news day, the following story ran online, "Former NBA player posts photos showing stuffed toys he won at county fair."
  • I saw the following license plate the other day, LVBN HPY. This made me smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Strengthening Your Grip

I believe that setting aside time every day for worship and reflection is an essential for a Christian. In my own life I have found this necessary to prevent drift and neglect, occurrences that are only too ready to take place in my busy life. Drift and neglect lead to a decay of the foundation of my relationship with Jesus. One of the ways that I like to approach worship and reflection is through reading both devotionals and expository works. One of my favorite authors in this regard is Charles Swindoll. My most recent read from his vast collection of books is entitled Strengthening Your Grip. The purpose of this book was to help provide encouragement toward living a more Godly life. Sometimes we struggle because we have lost our initial zeal for God under the strain of living a hurried and harried life, with all of its demands and pulls for our attention. Sometimes we come to accept the good when the better is waiting for us with just a slight course change.

In Strengthening Your Grip Swindoll considers a number of key areas of living where we could use some encouragement and some advice. These include:
  • Priorities - do we have the demands of our life set in proper perspective?
  • Purity - how can we keep our focus on the things of God and not the lusts of the flesh?
  • Money - how can we stay in control of our finances?
  • Integrity - how do we make our yes mean yes and our no mean no?
  • Discipleship - why discipleship is so important - both giving and receiving?
  • Aging - how to remain strong through the seasons of life?
  • Prayer - how should we approach prayer with our God?
  • Leisure - why is our time of rest so critical to our health?
  • Missions - what is missions all about and how can we contribute and be obedient?
  • Family - what does the Bible tell us about having a healthy family?
Each chapter is based on Scripture and brought to life with anecdotes and observations, and each chapter can serve as a personal daily devotional or can be used as part of a weekly small group reading assignment. However, as always, Swindoll's approach is gentle, wise, non-nonsense, practical, and Godly.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Absurdities 3

I have a lingering collection of things that I have stumbled across in my travels and daily life that have made me laugh or shake my head whilst uttering expressions such as, "What has this world come to?". In this series I share the absurdities with you. Enjoy.
  • At my workplace they have erected what I can only assume is a stockade in which to toss workers who say anything negative about management. Notice the menacing row of barbed wire across the top.
  • In a secure area at work sits a box with the flagrant warning, "DO NOT WRITE ON THIS END." I don't know about you, but something in me wants to go find a Sharpie-type marker ...
  • The book on the left is not about 60's style cooking and the one on the right says nothing about the Ministry of Silly Walks.
  • In my city we are big fans of Prince, the "Purple One". In fact, we let him name our streets. Here is a typical example of "The Street Formerly Known as Middle Ground Blvd."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Echo Burning

If you go into a cow pasture day after day and see a big old herd of cud-chewing bovines, then you should not come to expect that on your next visit there will be anything else upon that field but cows as far as the eye can see. To expect anything else would not be a reasonable expectation. I say this because after grinding and grumbling my way through the first four books in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, it would not be reasonable for me to expect anything different in the fifth book of the series, Echo Burning. I groaned and complained throughout the first four books. I groaned and complained throughout the fifth book. You may ask why I am continuing on with a series that I have not thought kindly of, and that would be a fair question. I think the answer is mule-headed stubbornness mixed with a touch of incredulity. I mean, how can a series that now consists of 25 entries, where each new entry routinely ends up on the "best sellers" list, be so inane, so contrived, so banal? What is it about these works that pulls so many readers in and keeps them coming back for more? Also, I purchased the first 6 books in the series based on some reviews that I read and, darn it, I will see this through, even if I groan my way hoarse.

In this story, Reacher gets into a rumble in a bar with a loud-mouth, drunk off-duty cop. The next morning, the cop and some of his buddies come to arrest him and exact some revenge. Reacher slips away before they find him and sets off to thumb a ride to get out of Dodge (or in this case Pecos, Texas). He is picked up by a young Latina named Carmen Greer, but this meeting is not by chance from her point of view. Carmen was actually looking for a beefy drifter type to kill her abusive husband who is about to get out of jail after spending a year locked up due to unpayment of taxes. Reacher, instead of getting the heck away from her, falls hook, line, and sinker for her spiel. She takes him to her home in Echo, Texas and there he meets her husband's racist, redneck clan of stock characters. When Carmen's husband is released from jail, he is murdered in short order, and all fingers point toward Carmen, especially after she confesses. But Reacher does not buy a bit of her confession and before you can say, "huh?", the local law enforcement folks have turned over the investigation to the drifter Reacher without so much as a, "By the way, who the heck are you?". Along the meandering, monologuing path that Reacher takes, he uncovers a deep plot buried within the past of the U.S. border patrol. Now, onto the last story in my fictional purgatory, Reacher book #6, Without Fail.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Analytics is a big buzz word in professional sports. This notion is an attempt at some sort of quantification of skills of an athlete based on certain metrics. This pseudo-science is basically the brain child of sports agents to devise schemes and approaches to make a below average player sound like they are some kind of superstar based on "intangibles" and "character" and "leadership". The larger the value of these contrived algorithmic numbers, the bigger the payout for the agent ... errr ... athlete. Said another way, analytics is meant to be a way to see into the pith and marrow of a person based solely on numbers.

Anyway, I thought that I would present some numbers that I have observed recently looking around my house. I figure that they might give you some insight into my worth.
  • 23 - the number of bulbous 35 W light bulbs in my bathroom vanities
  • 9 - the number of ceiling fans in my house
  • 30 - the number of golden hued, albeit slightly tarnished, knobs on my kitchen cabinets
  • 9 - the number of framed pictures on all of my walls
  • 1 - the number of CDs attached to the bulletin board in my study
  • 2 - the number of Christmas figurines displayed year-round in my living room
  • 1 - the number of Tootsie Roll "bite size midgee" banks on my desk
  • 21 - the number of Perler bead crafts on display about my house
  • 2 - the number of unused Haagen-Daz plastic spoon-like devices sitting on my mantel piece.
So have you figured me out yet and how big my check will be?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Observations 101

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • Have you ever met someone whose head looked perfectly normal from the front but when seen in profile it looked completed awry?
  • A humble grilled cheese sandwich can be the best lunch when shared with someone who has been gone for a long time.
  • Walking face first into a spider web is a most unpleasant experience, especially when there are spidery chunks and debris involved.
  • A headline on CNN the other day read, "New Chuck Taylors may actually be comfortable." That should sell some of these new sneakers.
  • "Help! I am stuck to my deck through an ill-advised application of Gorilla glue!" ... Who do you think uttered those words?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grating Grace

One of the bloggers that I follow is the minister of a smallish church in Indiana, just outside of Bloomington where I attended graduate school. We have never met in person, and so only have a "virtual" relationship. This relationship has been cultivated over the past several years by reading each other's blogs and exchanging thoughts and comments through that forum. While my blog runs the gamut of my full measure of nonsensical randomness, Bill's blog is much more focused on the thoughts of a man of God. Whether that is through discussing devotional books that he is reading, sermon topics, interactions with members of his flock, or even anecdotes from his life, he will often quote scripture or bring God to bear in his illustrations. Bill gets a fair number of folks who stop by each day and leave their comments. Most often he finds time later in the day to answer and address each and every comment that he receives.

One of the folks who stops by and leaves a comment most days is an admitted athiest. His comments are most often a critique of why Bill's Christian viewpoint is illogical and he will often point out his strong feelings that there is no evidence for the existence of any supernatural element in our universe. This commenter actually strives to remain respectful, but oftentimes he makes me want to leave a nasty reply to his grating comments. I mean Bill is a minister after all and someone who believes what he believes. What possible purpose could this man have to regularly stop by Bill's site and to continually poke and taunt? However, Bill always responds to this commenter with patience and with grace. I am amazed at how he regularly seeks to find common ground and to reach out without ever getting preachy or nasty or compromising his message or his point. His approach serves as a great model for me to interact with those in my life whose opinions I don't necessarily agree with.

Monday, August 3, 2015


The other day I had decided to allow myself a bit of a treat, a break from my normal regimented dietary fare. I had a little bit of soda left in the fridge that I had purchased for my daughter, and I decided after a very hard day at work, that I had earned the privilege of having this with my dinner. Actually, I had decided to have this soda with my dinner even before the start of the day. The business of getting through a hard day at work was just further justification to set my conscience at ease.

The soda in question was raspberry Mountain Dew, an intoxicating variant of the original that I have grown to adore (in limited quantities of course). Just thinking of sipping that sweet, blue nectar nearly caused me to dribble a string of drool down the front of my shirt. After I had plated up my dinner and put it on the table, I took a the two-liter bottle from the fridge and filled my tall glass up to the top. I made sure that I didn't drink any of my soda during dinner, instead preferring to savor it after I had finished with my eating duties.

When I had cleared my plate, I brought it into the kitchen and placed it in the sink. This is the point that my evening fell to ruin. I am still not sure what happened. My plan was to put my dinner dish in the sink and then go and retrieve my glass o' Dew. However, some thought leaped unbidden into my mind and bewitched me, something from work that forced me to give it attention, to work through it, to unravel it. When I finally shook my head free from the spell, I headed back into the dining room but my glass of Dew was not there. Perplexed, I wandered back into the kitchen only to find an empty glass sitting on the edge of the sink, a small shallow trace of blue goodness staining its bottom. I had absolutely no memory of drinking my beverage. The moment was gone. I missed it entirely.