Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I know I'm probably too old to enjoy Winnie the Pooh and his friends, but this little guy was a favorite of my little one when she was a youngling. He still brings me quiet smiles and warm memories of seasons gone by. Happy Halloween to all my online friends.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Common Tragedy

Have you ever heard of the tragedy of the commons? It represents a dilemma in which individuals, all acting independently with their own self interests in mind, will ultimately destroy a shared resource even when it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen. The context that I first learned about this dilemma involved the community pasture. The sole quality grazing land available for a town to use. Everyone agrees that they will put no more than 10 cows on the land to protect the precious resource from overgrazing. The problem starts when one farmer has just a few more than 10 cows that need to graze on the land, so he slips them in hoping that nobody will know. How could just a couple of extra cows be a problem? The issue of course is that he is not the only one doing it. Eventually the number of cows exceeds what the pasture can support and it is destroyed for everyone. The tragedy of the commons.

A similar kind of story is illustrated by today's picture. A silly notion to be sure, but a wizard has turned Homer's head into a donut. This just happens to be his favorite food. In his lust and complete lack of self-control, he begins to eat his head. He knows this will eventually be his end, but in his words, "I'm just too good to stop".

Why is it that people who should know right from wrong still consistently choose the path that leads to tragedy? Is it because they are stupid? Uneducated? Unloving? Is it because they are anarchists to their very core? I am certain that the answer is no to each of these. I think the answer is that humans are, by nature, selfish creatures. It requires constant and consistent effort for us to put others first. I suspect that the tragedy of the commons results from the fact that we trick our minds via rationalizations that one extra cow or cigarette or serving of food or negative thought or store purchase won't hurt anyone. What an over-reaction. You're making too big of a deal of it. Geez, lighten up. The problem is that one slips so easily into two. Then three. Then, ...., tragedy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Message in a Bottle II

Why do I blog? Is there a purpose? Where do the ideas come from? What do I give away with each post and what do I get in return? In a cost-benefit analysis, do the returns outweigh the expenditures?

I would say that, on average, a typical blog posting takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to prepare. I have often asked myself about the cost. Is it all worth it? Should I put my energies elsewhere? Am I really doing anything good and worthwhile for myself, for others with this effort? I sometimes feel that I am just killing time when I could be doing something, anything. Aren't I just avoiding life by hiding behind my computer screen? . . . However, I'm quite sure that I don't know what that something or anything is at this point in my life. Perhaps my writing is a way to help tread water until a clear purpose emerges.

A small handful of kind folks take the time from their lives to stop by a couple of times each week and leave a comment. I know that I look forward to connecting with them, if only electronically. Are they getting anything out of my posts? Do I sometimes inspire? Do I sometimes make folks think? Do I sometimes make folks smile and ease some degree of tension? Maybe though, I am just adding another item to their daily to-do list? Another burden or chore of something they feel somehow obligated to do they because they know me or because I comment on their blogs?

Herman Melville said "We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results." Perhaps this is an apt description of why I write. Perhaps too, it is simply a message in a bottle of an isolated castaway hoping for rescue.

(Part 2 of 2)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Message in a Bottle I

Why do I blog? Is there a purpose? Where do the ideas come from? What do I give away with each post and what do I get in return? In a cost-benefit analysis, do the returns outweigh the expenditures?

Some blogs that I write don't really seem like they belong to me. Somehow they already exist in complete form, just floating around out there in the aether. I simply pull them in and they immediately spill out onto the page. Other entries were born after spinning around in my mind for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks. As they simmer in the recesses of my mind, they fill out in form and substance. Threads and shadows take on flesh and bone. Others begin on the page as just a seed, a small naked kernel, that are painstakingly hewn out of the terse, wordless void that can envelop a sudden notion.

Writing a blog, being consistent with it, takes discipline. I suppose that this is much like anything else in our lives. I really do believe that this work, this labor, allows me, at times, to think about ideas that I might not mindfully take the time to consider. Sometimes the writing process is like laying out on the counselor's couch and letting things just come out that need to come out. Sometimes I feel the urge to tackle some topics that are so very personal, to expose myself to the world, to everyone and to no one. At other times, I show my inane and silly and random side with posts about things that amuse me. Somehow these posts are easier to read down the road as I do not have to expend the personal energy to write them. They allow me to avoid any possible tender areas that can sometimes surface.

(Part 1 of 2)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Real Commitment

Some people are so committed to getting what they want, what they need, that they will let nothing stand in their path. They will find a way to the prize whether it is over you, under you, or through you. They broadcast the tacit but clear threat, if you hinder my progress, I will destroy you. It is this type of plucky and dogged determination that is lacking in many of us. How often have you made a suggestion to your boss at work, a suggestion that you had thought about or that lifted your passions, only to drop it like a glowing, red-hot charcoal briquette when it was suggested that you might take this on personally. The message you broadcast is quite clear. I care, but not enough to take it on myself, to really roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. Oh pshaw, tain't werf it. Ultimately, you lack that necessary fire deep down in your belly.

I can hear some of you out there in cyberland banging on your heads saying "What about the time I ...?". Blah, blah, blah. You don't know nothin'. Let me tell you a real, true-to-life story of commitment, of passion, of gutsy follow through. Only this can illuminate how pathetic you really are. Some years ago, my entire group at work was heading to a meeting. We passed our boss in the hallway moving in the opposite direction. He said he first had to get some java. The rest of us ambled down to the meeting room and found our places and started in with some small talk. A few moments had passed and our boss had not joined us. We continued in our light chit chat. More time passed. Finally, he came in with a deep furrow on his brow, muttering that the make-shift coffee station in our hallway was out of cups. We all figured that he must have been delayed as he went off in search of a vessel for his hot beverage. Obviously he was successful as he had cup in hand. When he finally took a labored sip and placed that stained styrofoam cup on the table did we all understand what it was all about. On the side, written in blue ink, were the letters "Coffee 10¢". The man was so committed to having his caffinated beverage that he used the change collection cup at the coffee station. I'm quite sure that, only now, do you truly understand what real passion looks like.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mission Possible

When most folks think of church missionaries, what springs to mind are people traveling to remote corners of the world to bring the word of God to those who do not have access to it. Perhaps they serve to strengthen small caches of believers in countries wrought with government opposition and oppression. Distributing literature and sharing stories of God and his message. Until recently, this was the image that I had of a missionary. While I have several friends who have gone on trips like this to far off places like Myanmar and Central America, I never thought that I too might have something to contribute to the field of missions work.

We were discussing a bit about our lead pastor in community group as it is pastor appreciation week. The conversation was focussing on some of his sermon tag lines. An oft-repeated one is that our church, Waters Edge Church, is a church for the unchurched. We are all about bringing folks to God who do not know him, to spreading his word and his teachings. Someone then suggested that missionaries can be missionaries without necessarily journeying to far off places. Many of us in group volunteer for our church. Some of us make phone calls to folks with questions, some work with teaching the children, some help with the production teams, and some help with leading community groups for children and adults. In our own special way, we are each missionaries for God. We are helping to spread the word by teaching and sharing. Mission possible.

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation", Mark 16:15.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Worker Bees

I recently received an email from my secretary at work. She and a number of other folks are feverishly planning this year's company holiday party. I am not talking about our Halloween party or Thanksgiving party or Virgin of Guadalupe party. I am talking about this year's Christmas party. It seems that the gaggle of secretaries who work on this spend about half of their day planning for parties and gatherings of this sort. In perfect synergistic fashion, CNN published a story about the personalities involved in typical office holiday parties. They start off their story with the following:

The best entertainment, however, comes from the people who attempt to hide the dread on their faces as they realize they're in for several hours of chitchat with people they don't particularly like.

But folks attend these parties as they will take any excuse to get out of doing real work. But my editorial comment here is not the reason for today's post. What I wanted to discuss comes from this same CNN article. They talk about people watching at work, most easily seen during these more informal gatherings. The article is entitled "Four Obnoxious Attitudes in the Office".
  • The suck-up: The boss's lapdog. These folks rely on their buddy-buddy relationship with the boss to attempt to get a leg up on their co-workers and to help their chances for raises and promotions.
  • The naysayer: The person whose sole intent is to shoot down every suggestion or course of action raised by anyone.
  • The drama queen: The person who is overly emotional about every single little thing that occurs. They have no control of their emotions and tend to make every occurrence into the biggest-ever tragedy known to mankind.
  • The star of the show: The person who feels that they are God's gift to mankind. They believe that they should be the focal point of every meeting and every project.
When I was a young buck, I used to consider myself "the star of the show", the genius whiz kid that the world couldn't live without. As I have gotten older, this sharp corner has eroded considerably. At this point in my life, I do not think that I fit into any of the above categories. What about you, what worker bee category do you fall into?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Help Wanted?

I needed someone to check on my house while I was away on travel. The problem that was troubling me was that I felt like I really didn't know anyone well enough to ask them for such a favor. I figured that my best bet would be to approach someone from my church community group. I typed up the email and lingered over the keyboard for quite some while. Somehow I could not bring myself to hit the "send" button. Instead, I went for a walk to the bathroom. I then remembered that I wanted to get a refill on my cup of coffee. I chatted with some folks that I passed in the hallway. Finally, I could not come up with any more excuses to keep me from returning to my computer. I reread my note for the tenth time. All kinds of thoughts ran wild through my mind.
  • I don't know these folks all that well.
  • I haven't known them for very long.
  • I don't want to impose.
  • I don't want to be a bother.
  • I don't want to be someone who comes across as needy or lacking.
I really was working myself up into a lather. Finally, I grew frustrated with myself and sent off my plea for help. I took a moment to gather my thoughts and calm down. Just a few minutes later I received a reply that my friends were happy to help, no big deal, no major imposition. Ultimately, I really felt like a fool for worrying and fretting so long. Part of the purpose of community group is to be available to help the others in our group. I know that I would have done the same for them without a second thought. Why is it that we are so willing to help others that ask for it, but are unwilling or reluctant to ask for help when we need it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CD Experience

There are a handful of experiences that take me back in time, back to when I was just a kid. By this I mean to say that I react in these circumstances very much like I did when I was a youngling. My behavior can stir up such joyful memories of similar times from the past that it sweeps over me in a wave of palpable excitement. One such experience is that of looking forward to a new album from one of my favorite artists or groups. I tingle with anticipation as the release date approaches. I check out sites like for sales rankings and posted snippets of the songs. I pull out older music and reacquaint myself with old friends and memories, and reconnect with the lyrics and music. Next is the big day itself, the day when the album is finally available and I make the trek to finally grab hold of my own copy. When I get home and put the CD into the player, I let each new song wash over me several times while I make my way through the liner notes. It is this response that I most remember with each new purchase. It is during this time that I begin to bond with each song, that I untangle the lyrics and form some union with them. In my first few listens, my opinions can oscillate around until I come to a final decision. It's funny to me how I can dislike a song at first, but then change my opinion completely after giving the music a chance. Sometimes my opinion of an artist's new effort can match perfectly with the predominant reviews posted on the web or, at times, my opinion can be harsher or more glowing. Coming to grips with each song is part of the process, part of the experience. All of this is very much the same ritual and brings out the same feelings as in my younger days. The latest album that I purchased, I had been tracking for several months. On October 6, I took hold of my own copy of the latest Backstreet Boys work, This is Us. It is currently on a heavy play rotation in my stereo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy 1st

One year ago today, October 21, 2008, I began my humble little blog. Just a few days ago, I celebrated my 300th blog entry. Who knew that I had so much to say? Well, pretty much anybody who knows me at any level. You see, I am a bit of babbling brook when given the chance. To unapologetically steal from the Martha Speaks theme song, I "communicate, enumerate, elucidate, exaggerate, indicate, explicate, bloviate, and overstate and (pant, pant, pant) hyperventilate". The wonderful thing about having a forum for my endless ramblings and musings is that I can write about whatever suits my fancy (now that's kind of an odd phrase if you think about it). I can write about the plotline of a silly show (and yes, the summary that I provided in Fact or Fiction was straight from an episode of South Park entitled "More Crap") or about the adventures and struggles of my life as an aging wiz kid. The cool thing about this writing adventure is that if you don't like my "topic du jour", you can come back the next day and get a dose of something completely different. Maybe I can give you a laugh to help you along in your day or pick you up when you need it. Perhaps, if I am very lucky, I can share a life lesson or two from my experience that makes you think and makes you pay more attention to how you are handling some aspects of your life. Blessings to all my online friends.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


What is a friend? I would venture to guess that if you surveyed the answers from a number of folks, they would cover a fairly broad spectrum. Would you define a friend as someone that you say hi to when you pass them in the hallway at work? What about a casual acquaintance? Perhaps, you would consider only those with whom you can share personal information? I have heard a definition of a friend as someone that you do life with. This seems appropriate to me. I think that this implies friends are those people that you choose to spend time with, as opposed to people that you have to spend time with.

With the rise of social networking sites today, it is easy to blur the definition of friend. Some folks that I know use Facebook. A few have several hundred people listed as "friends". In my mind, this is impossible. There is no way, given my definition of friend, that one could have this many deeply personal connections. On my Facebook account, it lists 30 "friends". I would say that this number is not even close to reality. My true number of friends is considerably less. Some of my Facebook friends are folks that I knew from high school but have not spoken to in 25 years. They found my profile and thought it would be fun to contact me. Others are folks that have seen me at church, but we have no real relationship. Still others are folks that I have crossed paths with in the past but are not a part of my life today. On Facebook, lots of these folks clutter up my page with details from their lives that I don't really care about. Still others post the results of the latest Facebook quiz they took or the game that they played. I have no interest in any of this. These are not folks that I do life with in any quantifiable or meaningful way. So, why do I continue to accept Facebook "friend" requests from folks that I barely know and certainly will never get close to? Clearly the falsely inflated number of "friends" listed on my site makes me think that I am more important and popular and wanted than I really am. However, when one of my "friends" comments on my status, it can add a lightness to my heart that lifts me and strengthens me. Perhaps my definition of friend needs to be reconsidered.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Screwed Rhythms

The alarm clock goes off. I could not think of a more unwelcome, shrill din if I had to. I would rather do anything than get out of my warm, comfortable bed. I missed it while I was away on travel last week. I finally manage to drag myself through the inky, predawn blackness to the shower. The warm spray of water just cannot clear the fog from my mind. On a typical morning, I spend my time in the shower to wake up and start to plan out my activities for the day. However, the obvious difference today is that my body and mind are afflicted by what is medically referred to as desynchronosis, aka jet lag. My circadian rhythms are completely unrhythmical today. The problem is that there is nothing that I can do about this other than to drag my way through the day and hold out as best I can. Today I will certainly be typing on my computer with one hand, as my other hand will be clutched to the cup filled with the dark fluid born from the bean. According to the common lore, relief of my symptoms will take some time. It is said that jet lag recovery crawls at a pace of 1 day per time zone difference. Thus it seems I have a rough week ahead. Thank goodness there is a Starbucks approximately every 28 ft in my town and they provide IV services.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Home Silver Bird

I realize that many folks who read my next sentence are going to think that I am not in my right mind, ..., but here goes. I have a definite limit to how much paradise and fun and relaxation that I can tolerate before my skin starts to get itchy. I reach a point where I would rather chew on a ball of tin foil than stay another moment away from my humble and normal (pronounced hum-drum) existence. The feelings that I experience include a palpably heightened level of anxiety and edginess and irratibility. Perhaps you too have sensed such feelings when you are away from home that tell you it is time to return.

I have been in Hawaii for a week now. I have taken a once in a lifetime trip with my 11-year-old daughter. We have shared experiences and sights and sounds that will last us the rest of our lives. Things have gone as well as I could have foreseen. Clearly a unique and special opportunity that I would not trade for anything. However, my mind and body are fatigued from the strain of being away from what I know. I am not sure that I can really pin down exactly why I hit a wall. I think that it has something to do with needing to be back at work, to the place where I can do what defines me, where a large piece of my identity is formed.

Today, I am heading back to my little corner of the world. I want to get back home. I need to get back home. The pull on my mind and heart and body is too strong to resist or ignore. I pray that the Lord will bless my journey and guide me and my little one safely home.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today's View

Sometimes many words are not necessary or required. I just wanted to share my view for today. One that I have taken in each day that I have been in Hawaii. My photograph does not do justice to the experience of seeing it for yourself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crack Tourism Office

In my hotel here in Hawaii (did I mention that I am staying at a five-star hotel on the big island of Hawaii), there is an office staffed with smiling folks with perfect teeth, wearing hotel-issue loud Hawaiian shirts. This crack team of elite locals has the soul purpose of giving advice on activities, both here on the hotel grounds and in the local area. I can only assume that they have attended some sort of tourism boot camp where they must go potty in standard military-style latrines using old corn cobs for toilet paper. This is necessary for them to be able to deal with whiney, overbearing tourists. The staffers then surely spend several years studying flash cards and life-size wall charts to be sure they know every street name, shop, and tattoo parlor in a 50-mile radius. Finally, they must spend years building up their tans. This is somehow necessary to make them look more professional, more authentic, and more relaxed.

With all of this completely fictional background information, I strode confidently into their office seeking some information to plan a half-day excursion with my daughter. I was seeking something fun and exciting. Perhaps a jaunt to help me learn more about the local culture and customs. Perhaps an outing to explore the local fauna and flora. Certainly to do something that I could not experience in my own everyday (i.e. non-paradise) existence. I was called to sit with a very toothy, tan, and Hawaiian-looking lady. She was wearing a professional-looking, gold-colored plastic name tag. I was filled with certainty that in a matter of moments, she would plan me up a trip that would give me something to talk about until I keeled over, possibly from eating too many cheesy poofs. This tourism "expert" then proceeded to fill out a map highlighting the local Walmart, K-Mart, and Safeway! She followed up this coup-de-grace with an inspired idea for my daughter and I to go on a coffee-tasting tour at an old warehouse. I looked over at my daughter who was sitting next to me. She looked over at me and ever so gently shook her head. I had to pinch my thigh to keep from busting out in giddy laughter that could have lead to my eviction from the hotel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Lava Field

This was once all craggy, inhospitable terrain for as far as the eye could see. Starting from the impassable shoreline and stretching out for miles toward Mauna Kea to the east or Mauna Loa to the south, nothing but rugged and uninviting lava fields. A far cry from what anyone might call paradise. However, there were folks who had a vision, not of what was or what had been, but of what could be. After two years, thousands of workers, and some $500 million dollars, this tropical wasteland was transformed. The metamorphosis was so complete that nobody would ever be able to fully understand what this area used to be, how it was for thousands of years. What was an unwelcoming and barren sea of rock, had been transformed into a paradise of architecture, flowing streams lined with beautiful flowering trees, pieces of art and sculpture, all woven seemlessly into an organic existence of peace for mind and spirit.

But push through the carefully cultivated hibiscus and plumerias, dig down through the thin layer of imported top soil, and you will quickly reach the original underlying lava bed. Does this mean that this beauty is really only skin deep? Is the transformation merely cosmetic? Is there some substance behind and beneath the man-made waterfalls, gardens, and rock formations? What is natural here in this man-made Arcadia, this Eden, this Shangri-La? Does it really matter as I walk past the simple wedding in the chapel? The couple looks so deeply into each other's eyes that nothing could convince them. The small group of elderly women sitting around the ornate Buddha carving harmonizing together and reliving old times. The children splashing in the fountain have grins and giggles that are clearly the genuine article. Finally, there is my young daughter sitting in the hammock sipping her fruit juice. The twinkle in her eyes tells me all that I need to know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Primitive Response

Today I'm in a place utterly different than what I am used to. All that I have become accustomed to is gone. I am a stranger in a strange land. I have read the results of sociological studies into the behavioral patterns of every day men and women who had lost everything they owned. These studies indicated that it took just a few short days for these historically law-abiding folks to turn to robbery, theft, and hold-ups. Some particularly desperate folks were even capable of murder. The undercurrent of these reports is that human beings are programmed to self-preservation of themselves and those closest to them in such situations. It is as if we revert to some pre-programmed and more primitive state when hard times are faced. I am certain that if the subjects of these studies could have been questioned beforehand, from a purely hypothetical perspective, they would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that there would be no possible chance of them turning into tyrants or burglars (or worse), no matter what situation they found themselves in. Their answers would be very much the same as those you or I would give if questioned about similar occurrences.

Well folks, today I can be carefully observed as a sociological study. Every possession that I might call my own is about 5,000 miles away. Will I revert to some less evolved creature, eyeing my fellow humans as objects to be exploited, their possessions as riches to be plundered? While I can't predict the future with absolute certainty, I can state with a high degree of assurance that this will not happen to me. Why? Well I am presently sitting comfortably on the patio of my suite in a five-star hotel in Hawaii. Yeah I realize that you all probably don't think all that highly of me at present, but I am getting what I deserved. The room service folks failed to fully open the umbrella in my decadent tropical drink.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Paradise Found

The journey to paradise is typically frought with conflict and pain and discomfort. Reaching the destination requires determination and sacrifice. How could it be otherwise and still be fully meaningful? Whoever said that the sweet fruits of life should drop right into our hands without a significant amount of hard labor? My long trek to paradise with my little one began innocently enough, a short and uneventful two-hour hop from my local community airport to Chicago's Ohare. We had a two-hour wait before our next plane left. We passed the time sitting in a spectacular student art gallery, munching warm pretzel sticks with sweet cream cheese dipping sauce. The saltiness was complemented with a perfectly tart glass of ice-cold lemonade. The time slipped by quickly with giggles and laughter and stories. We then made our way to the bird that would take us the rest of the way on our trek.

Boarding began about 30 minutes prior to our scheduled departure time. Everything was going exactly according to plan. We were steeling up to suffer through the very long flight ahead of us as best we could. We pulled back from the gate on time, but about 20 feet into our journey the plane came to a full stop. Ten minutes passed and the muted queries of the passengers started to swell up around us. The captain came on the intercom just a few moments later. A warning light in the cockpit was flashing that would not allow us to move further until it was addressed. Apparently, the warning was coming from one of the air conditioning systems, and the maintanence crews were on their way. The captain was giving us regular updates every 30 minutes. After two hours had passed, the captain was pleased to announce that the repairs to the plane were complete and we were ready to get back on our journey. The last thing that needed to be accomplished was the official sign-off of the maintenance work that was completed, ..., federal regulations and all that. However, just as the certification was to be completed, the necessary computer system crashed. Another hour passed. Finally, the captain, who at this point was biting down hard on his tongue to keep from screaming, announced that we were getting the heck out of Dodge. Three hours we sat at the gate, three hours of torture, where our giddy anticipation was muted and then slowly drained away. Pain and discomfort emanated from our seats and legs and feet and spirit. When we finally had reached our wits end, when all batteries were fully drained, and all snacks were gone, our watches showed that we still had about 4 hours to go before we were to see land.

However, the good news is that together my daughter and I held to each other and found ways to support each other. We found a way to keep our spirits and patience intact. Let the good times roll. Aloha.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vegas Freedom

You're going on a business trip to a glitzy and exciting destination. Restaurants, museums, sights to see. Heady excitement and endless possibilities. You are away from your family and your normal commitments. An opportunity to try some new things, to break some habits that you have worked your way into. All of this has the opportunity to become an exciting adventure that will give you positive memories for many years to come. Freedom gives us the option, however, of turning right or turning left. Which path your choose can lead you to places and situations that can be quite dangerous and destructive. Opportunities to fall into the trap of sin lie around every corner. Perhaps it involves watching those pay-per-view programs in your hotel room, or maybe, having an innocent cocktail with the seductive stranger that you just met. Unchaperoned. Alone. Free.

The city of Las Vegas has made their slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". Even the television promotional campaign is less than subtle that cheating and affairs and excitment and adventure with no strings attached are just one visit away. We need to be reminded to stay vigilant against the enemy. He is sinister and much more clever than you can ever possibly imagine, that is, until it is too late, until you have broken promises of the heart. Go, have fun, let your hair down, seek out adventure, take a bite, embrace life to the fullest. Just remember what is really important and be true to your values and your relationships. Be vigilant and don't let the enemy have any opportunity to sink his fangs into you and bring carnal corruption into your heart.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mauled - A Lesson

Dateline Calgary: A Siberian Tiger mauled a man after he and a friend scaled the fence of the Calgary Zoo and pressed up against the tiger cage. A zoo official stated that "There is no indication that the offender was involved in anything other than just being silly".

Silly? That is one way to describe the person's behavior, however, it is not a word that bubbled to the top of my mind. How about reckless, idiotic, insane, or moronic? The man was expected to live and fully recover, but was still in very serious condition at the hospital. Am I supposed to feel sorry for this person? Do you think that after he scaled the 8-ft-high zoo fence with a foot of barbed wire across the top that he is feeling litigious toward the zoo or the tiger? Do you think he is looking to point the finger of blame at everyone but himself. In my experience, this very much seems to be the case. Nobody seems to stand up and accept responsibility for their actions or behaviors, no matter how imbecilic they may be. Do you expect there to be any tone of contrition in the man? How many would bet that alcohol or some other drug was involved in the hours leading up to his "adventure"? I sure would hate to have to live this episode down for the rest of my life. According to Andy Stanley in his book The Principle of the Path, our path determines our destination. I hope that the man laying in the hospital bed battered and severely injured because of his decisions will learn an important lesson from this incident. I hope and pray that I too will think about where I will arrive with some of the choices that I make in my own imperfect life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Strong at 300

Typing in "300" into my google search toolbar, the first link that came up was a movie entitled "300" with the tag line "Prepare for Glory". I am not sure why all the folks on the left side of the picture are jumping to their doom, perhaps they actually saw the movie. Who knows? However, I thought it was the perfect vehicle to celebrate today's blog, my 300th entry. I will pause for a moment to bask in your applause and congratulations. I have heard from many folks that my blog has changed their lives, that it gives them a reason to get up in the morning, and that it makes their stays in the penitentiary so much more bearable. O.K., so none of this is true. In reality, while I love sharing my random thoughts on theology, life lessons, little happenings in my life, current events, and some humor with folks out in cyberland, the main reason why I write is for me. It gives me a creative outlet for the thoughts running wild in my mind. It also gives me an opportunity to sit down and ponder on some topics that I might otherwise not consider so deeply. With that said, I fully own up to the fact that I absolutely love your comments and feedback, especially from the couple of folks who regularly visit my page and say hi or offer encouragement or their own point of view. As I look ahead, I have a few more things up my sleeve. New topics, new features, better production values. Stay tuned as we journey to entry 400.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Today, folks are riddled with all sorts of afflictions that did not exist in the days of yore. If you begin to peruse this seemingly unending list, it somehow all seems to be correlated with advances in technology. I can list several that I am sure that you are familiar with. These include repetitive stress injuries caused by our computer keyboards, wrist tendonitis due to our video game controllers, restless leg syndrome, and probably even spontaneous internal human combustion. I can state with certainty that you never saw problems of this sort reported on CNN even as recently as one hundred years ago. Perhaps this is because electricity and televisions did not exist. However, this is totally beside the point. Don't confuse me by bringing up relevant issues. To detail something at the heart of this burgeoning problem a bit further, I have seen report after report of pharmaceutical companies that have cooked up drugs before they even know what symptoms that they might help alleviate. Basically, they tend to come up with a cure before they even have something to cure!

All of this is due to the modern age in which we live. Problems are bubbling up due to the advanced technology that we have that our ancestors did not. Beyond the new afflications and diseases that we seem plagued with now, I have also noted transformations of ordinary folks, like you and me, into wandering mindless zombies. All of this is due to today's technology. Walking outside the other day into my parking lot, I noticed about half a dozen folks wandering about in random directions all by themselves gesturing wildly. Attached to each of their heads was a cell phone. I am sure that the drug companies have already have dreamed up a new drug that can cure cell-phone-zombie-focus disorder. Ask your doctor if this is right for you. Side effects include insomnia, anal seepage, uncontrollable bleeding, explosive diarrhea coupled with severe constipation, dry mouth, and restless leg syndrome.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Mountain

We found ourselves at the base of the mountain looking up in awe at its majesty and feeling more than a bit overwhelmed in the relation of its scale to ours. Our goal would be to work our way upwards, somehow, some way. We were two innocent kids who had no idea what we were doing or how we were supposed to approach our task. We were totally unprepared for the challenge that would lie ahead and there was no way we could have imagined the financial, emotional, physical, and relational costs that the journey would have on us. It seemed to us that even though we had no clue to what we were about to embark on, that our bond would see us through. We would need no sherpa or outside strength to help us in our ascent. This was not a decision made out of wisdom. The path that we followed was not something that we went down as a result of lengthy planning and discussion. This would prove to be a fatal mistake, but it was a mistake that anyone but the two of us could have predicted with certainty. We knew that many folks had been down this same road that we now faced. We knew that many had failed or fallen by the wayside and were lost. Enshrouded in our giddiness and naivety we pressed on, totally oblivious of our certain fate.

The fateful journey began some 12 years ago. As I write these words, I can only shake my head at how utter and complete our failure was. I cannot even begin to relate to you how much our innocence and our neglect in planning and communicating doomed any chance that we had to scale that rocky tor together. I now sit amongst the rubble at the bottom of the mountain once more, but this time alone. I am looking up with new-found respect, appreciation, and understanding, but with the lingering wounds of disappointment and regret. I don't know what lies ahead for me, but somehow I hope that I will have one last opportunity to start up its sheer slope before I have to go.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Personal Consistency

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

This simple but powerful verse from Hebrews 13:8 is a proclamation that Christians understand and accept about their Lord. However, consistency in the actions of men and women is not something that we are particularly good at. Some tests of honesty and decency we fail often and others we fail only every now and again. Why do you think that is? Is it because we only do the right thing when people are watching us? Is it because we sometimes give into greed and laziness? Is it because we get distracted and our self-centered nature takes us over? Whatever the reason is, it really boils down to that fact that we are all flawed and sinful creatures. This is not meant to be an indictment of humanity, but a mere statement of truth. (See Romans Chapters 6 and 7 for a discussion of this). Today, I wanted to put forth a few questions for you to consider. How is your consistency?

> You are in the supermarket parking lot all by yourself. You have completed your shopping and unloaded your grocery cart. The cart return is a long way from you. Do you walk you cart over to the return or just leave it in the middle of the parking lot? Are you 100% consistent regardless of how you feel or your mood?

> You see a $20 bill on the sidewalk and pick it up. Nobody sees you. As you walk along, you pass someone going through their stuff looking for the missing bill. Do you hand over the money? Are you 100% consistent regardless of your financial state?

> You need to mail a few letters or bills but have no envelopes with you. Do you take them from the supplies at work? What about other office supplies? What would an inventory of your home find? Are you 100% consistent?

> You are starving, running short of time, and don't feel like going out for lunch. Do you ever take food from the community refrigerator at work? Are you 100% consistent in not taking what doesn't belong to you.

> If you find that the cashier at the convenience store gave you too much change, do you return it to them, even if you don't find out until later in the day? Are you 100% consistent regardless of the amount?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grind My Gears 9

You know what really grinds my gears? How about people or organizations who continue to use Roman numerals when they have clearly already gotten out of hand. Look at the numbering of the Super Bowls. What are we up to, Super Bowl MCXXLDXVIIIXV? What about trying to figure out when a movie was made by looking at the closing credits? More nonsensical gibberish from a numbering system devised by a people who made their warriors march into battle wearing dresses. I can't believe that we have put up with this garbage for this long. I remember when the American population went into full-fledged revolt when the government tried to force us to use the metric system. If you don't remember this period in our history, it is because you are an uneducated lout. Back in the 1970s, the "man" tried to make us learn some clearly comical system of weights and measures. We responded with looting (there is always looting), burning of our bras, empassioned marches (one was called the million man march), and incessant yodeling. The government immediately succumbed to our demands and the silliness was done away with. Why is there not the same outrage over the roman system that is continually being foisted upon us? Is there some really large Roman population in the U.S. that I am not aware of that we would somehow offend? I, for one, am going to take control of my blog and end this nonsense. No more roman numerals. They really grind my gears.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hare Pin Turn

So, you fancy yourself a bit of a kegler? You like to wear used shoes that reek strongly of curry and paprika? You think you are pretty chic and hip when you run down the platform and cast your big ball down the lane with flagrant swinging of your arms? Fie! I say fie. Fie upon you and your house. Spare, strike, split. These terms barely mean anything to you. You laugh out loud in a boisterous and jocular manner, yet your hilarity only drowns out the single lonely cry of the five pin. Mark my words, you will rue the day of your disingenuous chortle (and yes, I said rue), your knee-slapping ignorance. A bit of a kegler indeed!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pigeon Holed

When we always see someone or interact with someone only within a given setting or context, it is hard for us to imagine them in any other situation. We can't seem to picture them wearing any other hat or starring in any other role. It is easy to pigeon hole and type cast. We tend to forget that our view of people is often quite narrow. Our experiences with them are just a small part of who they are and what goes on in their lives. A few months ago I was sitting at an outdoor cafe having a chat with Bill, a friend of mine from church, while we leisurely sipped our coffee. After we had been talking for about an hour or so, a colleague of mine, who was happened to be out on a java run, saw me and came over to say hello. Paul was visiting the lab where I work to attend some meetings. I asked Paul to join us and he was happy to have a seat and chat for a bit, he welcomed the company. I introduced Paul to my church friend Bill and we began with a bit of small talk about the weather and how nice it was to be outside. Finally Paul asked Bill what experiments he was working on at the lab. This got a good chuckle out of me. Paul and I have worked on the same experiments in Virginia and New York for more than 10 years. We have spent alot of time together, but always within the boundaries of a work environment. He has never seen me in any other context and this became how he saw me in his mind. If I was chatting with someone over coffee, he immediately assumed that I must be with someone from work. Paul could not imagine that I had friends or social interactions of any other nature. We all ended up talking for another hour before we had to get back to other things, but I enjoyed very much that evening and the idea of wearing other hats in my life.