Friday, December 28, 2007



a word that greek people use for no apparent reason at all

greeak dude #1:wanna dance
greek dude #2 : OPA!


a Greek word used to describe a jubilant emotion of/during 'celebration'.

"He-- yeah!"
"Come on, be a man, take another shot of Ouzo... OPA!"

Diane and I went out and tried this little Greek Restaurant called OPA! tonight We were going to try the ZinBurger place at River and Campbell, but it was much too crowded, so we gave this joint a shot. I wouldn't have thought of it, but we saw it as we drove down Campbell.

It is a Greek place, I am not a Greek food aficionado, but I found the atmosphere pleasant, the food tasty and the staff helpful. Many of the people there seemed to be regulars, which to me is a good sign.

The lowlight of the dinner was when they brought out our flaming cheese appetizer. It was good, but they didn't warn us that the flaming cheese would draw the attention of the entire place and everyone would shout "OPA!" as it was served. Oh well, it was kinda fun.

We also grabbed a Starbucks and cruised the bookstore, which is fun for us until we realize that we probably aren't going to buy any of the books there and really don't have time to read any of them at the store. At that point, it just makes your back hurt and we went back home.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

There's Bats in The Belfry

According to some around here, I left out one of the best parts of our Holiday weekend. I got four days off for the Christmas holiday, from Saturday thru Tuesday evening. On Saturday, we spent the day doing some last minute holiday shopping stuff. When we got home, I was sent out to the store to pick up something for a pie baking marathon the girls were involved in.

When I walked in the door, the dogs began to go a little crazy. Diane then put them away and let me know that I let a bat into the house. I am typically a fairly brave guy, with the exception of when I am faced with rodents. Once I opened the barbecue grill and was faced down by some nasty little swamp rat. I am surprised the neighbors didn't not call the police. Then there was that mouse in our kitchen when we lived in Safford. Fortunately, it could not get up on the counter.

Back to Saturday night: After I let out a couple of shrieks, I started looking for a broom. I had seen a boss of mine chase around a bat in his furniture store one time, so figured this was the best thing to use to deal with wayward bats. But, I had to settle for the collapsible dog crate to swat at the foul thing with. You see, many people may not know this, but rodents are trying to touch you. Those rat things want to jump on you, mice want to run up your leg and this bat wanted to land on me. I was not about to let it. I continued to swat at it furiously until Diane told me that, if I did hit it, she would be so mad at me. But I still wasn't about to let that thing land on or touch anyone.

Finally, it landed on the wall and Diane put a box over it and took it outside. She thought it was very cute, so I had to run to get the camera. Unfortunately, by the time I got the camera, the thing had flown off to terrorize someone else. That is why the picture is of a similar bat, but not the same one that tried to land on us. I do have some good spider pictures I got at Sabino Canyon. Spiders are mostly harmless, unless you sit on them or something like that.

In any case, there are those who thought that it should be shared that we had a bat in the house. There are also those that thought it was funny to ask my daughter who screamed the most and to see her point at me. But, history will vindicate me when my children face the world with the knowledge that their Dad kept a bat from landing on them.

Our Christmas

Our Christmas Celebration this year was at Diane's Aunt and Uncle's house on Sunday. They live in Saddlebrook, which is actually in the next county up, so it was about an hour drive to get there. We watched It's a Wonderful Life while we were there. It's kind of an annual tradition for us to watchIt's a Wonderful Life.

Joining us was Diane's Grandpa (pictured here when he was younger). He is the one who celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

The other pictures are a hike we all took together at Sabino Canyon on Christmas Eve. We didn't have any invites for Christmas Day, not did we invite anyone over, other than Diane parents, who brought us some cinnamon roles for breakfast.

Emily and I also made some Runza's, which are a food of midwestern/German origins. It consists of a roll with meat and other stuff inside. It took us about 3 hours to make them, so that took up most of our day. The neighbor's son also brought us a new soccer ball and a frisbee, so we went to the park to try it out. That was about it. Hope everyone else had a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It should be fun, but it isn't...and no, neither one of those people are me, I swear it.

Diane and I went and did Christmas shopping today. As we were out, we began to wonder why people felt the need to do this. Yes, we had most of our Christmas shopping done, but the few things we hadn't gotten just had to be purchased before Christmas. I didn't really mind the crowds so much and we were able to provide entertainment for several people in the lines, but the whole experience was kind of draining.

Along those lines, I think the retail stores that want to go the extra mile should provide some jugglers or live musicians or something to entertain people in lines at Christmas. Or in the return lines after Christmas.

But, not everyone has a bad time......

Emily and I were at Costco the other day. After we were done shopping, we took a ride on our cart down the slope in the parking lot. The thing actually got going pretty good. When we got into our car, we saw an older gentleman with a balding top and in a suit taking the same ride. It is good to know that some people can still drag some fun out of everyday tasks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Old To Do list

There have been some things I have been meaning to get around to. I, for all the usual reasons, don't like the idea of New Year's resolutions. However, here are some things that I need to get on top of in the coming year:

I am working on a Master's in Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. The whole idea of the degree is that it is a self-paced, distance Education sort of thing. In my opinion, not as good as the old learn and discuss with cohorts in a classroom, but it is still beneficial and I am learning new ideas and reinforcing some other ideas. The problem is, it is a self-paced sort of thing. So, I need to get myself to work on the stuff more diligently and get it done.

Diane says we need to re-do the roof soon. It has one of those 3 year elastomeric white sort of roofs and it hasn't been redone for 4 years or so.

I want to paint the trim on the house. It is not only getting faded, but it is brown. I don't like brown. I prefer green. I wonder when the best time of the year is to do this.

I would also like to learn some Spanish. I know a few words, Like "I am the police!" "Don't Move!", "Sit Down!", "Open the Door!", "Hands Up". But, I would like to get a little beyond this for my job. Frankly, Spanish hasn't been my first choice in languages to learn, but I think it might be helpful. Another problem with this. Some of the words are close to French, which I learned before. Many words are not. But, when I try to learn, my brain keeps throwing French words in to the mix.

Of course, I need to make sure I do not do all this at the expense of work, family, Church stuff (where I am helping get the small group thing rolling) and my whole philosophy of not rushing around and not being in a constant state of panic and we have to go now like so many seem to be. We also have a wedding, a reunion and who knows what else to go to. Should be a fun year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Am Legend

I went to see this show with some guys from the church.

The movie is based on a book of the same name where the main character is the last known survivor in a world that has become infested by vampires.

In the movie, Will Smith plays a guy who is the last known survivor of a virus that has turned everyone else into rabid animals that can't come out during the day. He is desperately trying to develop a cure as he is conveniently a military immunologist ala Dustin Hoffman's character in Outbreak.

The movie has some great edge of your seat action and some startling make you jump scenes that are worth going for. I did not care for the ending that I thought fell kind of flat, but I overall thought it was very cool.

I know some people don't care for Will Smith. I am not one of those people but, even for those who are not big fans of his because you accidentally heard some of his music or watched too many episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I think his performance was still good enough that you might just find the movie as riveting as I did. At least until the movies end.

Besides, the images of an abandoned and overgrown New York City are absolutely stunning.

Red Light Camera

Traffic tickets generated by cameras come with a string

Here is an article on the new Red Light / Speed cameras they are putting in in town. The article relates how, according to Arizona Law, civil citations must be delivered in person. The red light camera tickets, of course, do not provide for this. They simply are sent in the mail with the hopes that people will just pay the ticket.

The remedy for this is, if you don't respond with in a certain period of time, a civil process server sends you the ticket and you are charged an extra $25 dollars if you are found responsible. Hmmmmmmmm.

My Story:

In Sacramento, I opened the mail box one day and found a ticket. Also included was a picture of Diane and I driving through some intersection in town somewhere. I went to the courthouse on the anointed and appointed day and spoke with a representative from the County Attorney's office. He told me that I may as well enter a plea of not responsible, since the ticket was for about $500 and it was Christmastime. Worst case, he said, I would merely have to pay the same amount a few months later.

I had a good defense for the ticket. You see I was behind this big old SUV and not entirely sureI could even see the light.

So, a few months later, I showed up before the judge and he asked the policeman to talk. The policeman said he was not prepared to testify that I was the one driving. So the judge said the case was dismissed, unless I had anything to say. I, of course, did not and I left a little wiser and just as wealthy.

So, if you get one of these tickets, you can pay it. Or...................

Friday, December 14, 2007

Who's Who

Agent Pipes
This is my friend Dale. He goes to our Church and is an Air Traffic Controller. He also wanted me to take the most recent position I have so I could have some stories for him. Apparently he is tired of Air Traffic Controller Stories.

Bald Head Bruce
This is my friend Bruce. He started to work with the alternative Denomination (not that kind of alternative) the same time I did and had the same troubles I did and ended up back with his old denomination just like I did. The grass is always greener, I suppose.

Beginnings Church
This is the blog for the Church I am a part of now.

Isaiah O
This is the son of a friend from the Sacramento area. The friend is a Pastor and Church Planter, who spoke at our Church there a couple of times. Isaiah was diagnosed with Luekemia over the summer and this blog is a journal of his life.

Josh Reich
Josh is the Pastor of Beginnings Church and has some great thoughts on his life and what it means to be a Missional Church.

Steve Hockensmith
Steve is an author who wrote some really cool western books. I have corresponded with him once or twice and the third release of the really cool western series is out in February....The Black Dove.

Let's see if I can do the books a bit of justice. The protagonist and the first person voice in the story has a brother who is very much into Sherlock Holmes stories, which in the book are being published as fact in the contemporary papers. So, the brother decided that he too wants to deducify. The stories are about how the two cowboys end up running into crime scenes and...well, in any case, pick up one of his current books Holmes on the Range or On the Wrong Track.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I really like this place

Well, I haven't been there since they re-opened in the new location, but I really liked the other one.

Education and the Starbucks Experience

Just ran through this book. This guy was the Superintendent of the Miami-Dade public schools. He defined three priorities for the school district: eliminating low-performing schools, increasing academic achievement for all students and bringing cost-efficiency to the district's construction and business practices.

In the book, he presented a compelling vision for schools that are a focal point of community life. He describes how public schools can be vital and effective and defines the roles of government, parents, teachers, philanthropists, the arts community, the faith community, post-secondary educational venues and school administration in making this happen.

If you want a great overview without reading his book, go to Dr. Rudy Crew's website. Go to the Take Action page to see the roles of the different sectors.

In the book, Dr. Crew mentions that he is totally against school vouchers and not a big fan of charter schools. I was on the fence on this issue, but his comments were a catalyst for my thought.

He mentions that he is opposed to school choice vouchers because they will starve the schools that are doing poorly and "...take the dollars needed to do the work of rethinking our public schools and redistribute them (the dollars)...".

After some thought, I am thinking that, rather than just starving failing schools, which doesn't necessarily seem so terrible to me, the vouchers would force the schools that want to do well to rethink how they do school. Possibly ala the Dr. Crew plan. I think public schools have some great resources that the private schools don't and could do very well if they were to grab hold of some of the actions Dr. Crew defines.

However, like any institution, most of them will not change without a compelling reason to do so. Typically, speaking from my limited organizational experience, the compelling reason comes from either great pain (the frustration of not being what was desperately wanted or expected), great fear (the threat that we will cease to exist if we do not change) or a great vision (a clear picture of a future that we can really buy into).

Rather than killing the public schools, I think vouchers could help redefine the public schools. For instance, consider the Starbucks phenomenon. They are a monolithic corporate concern that everyone was sure would squash all other coffee shops. Much to the contrary, the advent of the Starbucks era has seen the rise of local coffee shops that probably may not have existed and did not thrive prior to Starbucks not only taking a huge market share, but creating a larger than ever market for this type of business. For example, my favorite coffee shop, the True Love Coffee House in Sacramento.

In any case, the book was very thought provoking. If you have any interest in education, at least take a peek at the action steps.

the Kid's were in the downtown Christmas Parade and the Church Singy Thingy

And I included a picture of my friend Adam and some geeks that have really cool Star Wars Costumes.

Ethan had to be moved during the singy thingy. For some ridiculous reason, the kids were all supposed to sway. The kid on his left and his right were swaying in oposite directions, so he got squished between them when they swayed together. It made him mad, so he sat down and started to cry and then they moved him.

I know these Christmas singy thingy's are a neccessary part of the Holidays. I just can't figure out why.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Did It!

I just wasted 40 minutes playing this game:


On the other hand, I just held off a zombie horde for 20 days and led a small group of survivors to safety.

Because Your Mine

Here's a book I picked up at the library, because I am a fan of Johnny Cash music.

So, the first part is just a ton of his love letters to Vivian. I mostly skipped that. What follows is her story. a little different than what I understood happened in the movie, Walk the Line.

For instance, Vivian thought that Johhny left her because of his drug abuse and because June Carter chased him down relentlessly. Johnny's parents let Vivian know that he was running around with June.

So, I think the whole thing is kinda sad. Vivian was his wife, mother of his children and, I think, was better looking than June. Not only that, but he wrote the song, I Walk the Line, for Vivian. So, if your a fan and kinda interested, check out The Book.

If your a fan and don't want to hear about all that, just listen to some Johnny Music on Rhapsody.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Here is something not to do

Note: I made the language less colorful than the language that was actually used, so the story may have lost some of it's flair. I also omitted the names. If you know any of the parties involved, this story never really happened. I made it all up. If you don't know any of them, it is a true story.

I was sitting at the office at work talking with a couple of the guys. One of them has a girlfriend that is in training to work our job and I was asking about how she was doing and what she thought of the whole process.

As we were talking, the other guy says, "Do you know so and so who is in training now? I can't stand her. She is (colorful metaphors omitted)".

The first friend says, "Yeah, I know her, she is my girlfriend."

After apologizing profusely, then running out of the room for a few minutes while the guy with the girlfriend and I laughed, the conversation resumed. Anyway, I guess it is best to know who knows who before you start talking bad about them.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Random Pics from Ajo and a visit from Diane and the Kid's

Christmas Time and the Open Pit is Closed

I just got back from a two week work assignment in Ajo. It is a bleak little town that was originally a mining town. In 1984, the mine was shut down and since then the town has gone downhill. It's current population of around 4,000 (down from 10,000) is primarily made of retirees who came for the cheap housing and people who couldn't scrape up the money to leave when the mine closed down and now the primary industries seem to be social security, stealing, selling their prescription meds.

I stood alongside the Ajo mine on Saturday, which is a large open pit copper mine. Phelps Dodge continues to maintain a skeleton staff and maintain the barest elements of the mine. This is not so they can reopen it in the future. They are currently opening a new mine in the Safford area and the equipment and infrastructure in Ajo is so dated and the copper is a type that costs more to produce that is not considered profitable to open it. The mine is staffed so it can be considered "open" and "operational". Otherwise, P.D. would have to spend a fortune in environmental clean up and waste removal. It is simply easier to keep up the facade than it is to face the reality that the mine is closed.

As I stood gaping into this huge open pit, I thought, "How easy it is to mirror this in my life."

It often seems so much easier to simply maintain a facade of spirituality, relationships and even life itself. It is so much easier to pretend that I have it all going on than to really take a look at my life and see the areas that need to be torn down, cleaned up , re-done and even closed down.

Hopefully, as we come to Christmas this year, you will take some time to face the open pits in your life, get them cleaned up and find something to really celebrate.