Monday, March 31, 2008

Abigail's Prize

Some of you are familiar with the struggles Abigail has had. In her first few years, she had to have several surgeries on her back, brain and kidneys.

I don't know if it is the result of her surgeries or her physical difficulties, but she picked up reading and writing quite a bit later than her older sister. Of course, her older sister began reading and enjoying the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books at seven, so that is a bit ridiculous in itself. Abigail really picked up her reading when she saw her little brother was beginning to read and has been doing steadily better ever since.

So, on Saturday, she was in the 4H Cavy (Read Cavy as Guinea Pig) show at the U of A farm. The kids involved had to show the things, answer questions in a test about and have the things evaluated in a breed show.

Abigail was the Grand Champion for her age group in the test. Yayyyy! She called me while I was at work to tell me about her ribbon and she was so excited about it.

Anyways, she is also having a birthday tomorrow and we are glad to have her around.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rough Riders And New Ventures

I was recently reading about the Spanish American War and Theodore Roosevelt (to whom, according to my brother, I am a distant relative). The Spanish American War came at a time when America had never really been involved in overseas military ventures. The army was more suited to it's recent forays against warring tribes of natives than it was for any sort of prolonged expedition.

But, this was changed the way the U.S. fought wars and it's perspective on foreign policy. We went from having an army that campaigned with rations left over from the Civil War to a nation with a military power that made a profound impact on the world.

The Spanish American War was something of a convergence of the old world and the new. Generals such as former Confederate General Wheeler fought alongside John J. Pershing of World War One fame. Old West tough guy and Arizona Mayor "Bucky" O'Niell Captained under Roosevelt, the future President. It really was an interesting conglomeration of men and, although it was a seat of your pants venture, it was the first venture of this type that the U.S. had undertaken.

In the Bible Book of Zechariah, it says, "Do not despise these small beginnings..." talking about the building of the temple. As the temple was being built, a rebuilding of the original, may men wept and were discouraged because the start of this one was no where near the splendor of the former one.

Naysayers at the time of the Spanish American War would compare our military might to that of Germany or Great Britain and proclaim that we should not undertake any sort of military action. While it was true that we were not in the league the other superpowers, we never would have gotten in their league without taking some first steps.

I have made some steps in my life that some would say I was not ready for, or did not have the means or abilities to be great at. One was the starting of SouthPort Church in West Sacramento. I had been the Senior Pastor for no more than a couple of years at a small church in a small town. I had never been involved with a New Church 'Plant" or anything of that nature. However, I dove in feet first and after many struggles, challenges and lessons learned, was able to look at a thriving Church that I was instrumental in starting. The Church is still going and we still have some of our best friends ever attending there. It never would have been the case if we didn't decide, at some point, that we had to just step out and do it.

What are some areas where you have stepped out and changed the course of your life? What are some areas that you are pondering diving in to? What do you need to do to prepare for it? What is the poing where you have made all the preparations you can and just need to start?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What's With That?

I was walking to the store with Ethan (age 6) on Friday and we were talking about Easter and Good Friday, et al. Ethan said, "I know about Jesus dying on Good Friday and raising from the dead on Easter. But why is there have eggs, candy and the bunny. What's with that? I don't get it.

So, I told him about how the Church, after a few centuries, had strayed from it's Jewish roots and no longer celebrated the Jewish Festivals. The Church was made the official religion of the Roman world and adopted the times for the festivals of the culture. For instance, Easter was to be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the traditional time of the celebration for the Goddess of fertility.

I further explained how our culture is obsesses with creating experiences for our children that require parents to buy some ridiculous plastic artifacts to assuage the guilt they feel for not being the parents they think they should be. The mentality being, if I buy them all this stuff, maybe they won't notice that I am a sucky parent. Maybe if I buy them this stuff, I am not a sucky parent, even though I rarely spend time with them. At least the times we do have together are "quality".

I went on to explain that our culture seems to be making a concerted effort to replace any of the spiritual significance of our religious holidays with a drive for material gain.......

Ok, not really. I just said, "Yeah, what's with that?"


Here's a pic of us at El Charro with Jason and Nichole, our friends from Sacramento. And a picture of the crew at the Pima Air Museum. And a picture of Emily's friend (in our house) who was also visiting from relation to Jason and Nichole

Anyways, I went for a jog today for the first time in a couple of weeks. Other than still feeling terrible and going really slow and stopping part way through to have a fit of hacking and coughing, it felt good to be out getting some good exercise.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Few Photos from our Trip to San Diego

This is from a little stop we made at the maritime museum. The pictures are, in order, the kids on the HMS Surprise of Master and Commander Fame, Me in the Captains Wardroom of the B-39, a foxtrot class Soviet submarine, Ethan at the periscope of the B-39, the girls in a port of the B-39 and Diane in a port.

I put more photos of the same on facebook, so if you have that, go look.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

V i i i i sitors

I am still sorta sick, which is better than sick. Sort of like comparing sort of dead, mostly dead and dead, I suppose.

But, we have visitors. Emily's friend Madison, who lives in Antelope, which is in the Sacramento area, is visiting for the week.

Our friends Jason and Nichole are also visiting from Davis, which is in the Sacramento area. Jason was our Worship Pastor at Southport Church, and he still is the worship Pastor there.

So, I apologize if it seems that I have been incommunicado on here, but I will come up with some great narratives, entertaining anecdotes and uplifting insights soon, I am sure.

Friday, March 14, 2008

California Dreamin'

Been on vacation in Chula Vista and San Diego for a while. We stayed with Diane's sister and her husband and 5 of the 6 kids...the other being off in Texas. It was good fun and I will share some pictures and stories and such, I am sure.

We also all got sick. Well, lingering colds, that sort of thing. Mine hit me the hardest on Tuesday, I think it was. I felt almost incapacitated. Almost incapacitated is almost worse than incapacitated. You feel that you can barely do anything, but you know that you can still do things and ought to still be doing things because you are not incapacitated, so you get up and do things. And you sleep extra.

The nice thing about being sick there is that I got plenty of rest, hot tea, fresh food and sympathy. And, we got to share the joy. Everyone else was also becoming sick as we left this morning.

Hopefully, I will be getting better, as I have to return to work tomorrow.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Black Dove

I did mention that I would be telling you about the Book, The Black Dove: A Holmes on the Range Mystery , so here it is.

I first discovered Steve Hockensmith, the author, at the library. Yes, don't mention to him that I didn't purchase the first book of his that I read. I am sure he prefers that everyone who reads his book buys at least three copies of each book.

In any case, I was walking through the fiction section of the library randomly perusing the titles. I really rarely read fictional titles. But, sometimes, I just feel like reading some fun book. I happened across the title On the Wrong Track. This was the second of Hockensmith's "Holmes on the Range" mystery titles.

When I was in High School, I got a copy of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and read them all several times. I loved his almost mystical method of deduction and his interaction with Watson and witnesses and suspects. I liked them so much, I even bought myself a pipe.

I have also long been a fan of the western novel. My Dad had the entire Louis L'Amour collection and it is so much fun to read about someone knocking someone else down or tracking through the wilderness after a dangerous killer.

So, when I saw the Holmes on the Range idea, I snatched it up. I didn't really know what to expect. Would it be some cerebral Sherlockian thriller spiced with a few choice gunfights? Would it be a tale of human struggle against some evil rancher ala L'Amour? Would it be some ridiculous bore?

Much to my surprise, I found it to be the most fun I have had reading fiction in years.

The story is about two brother's in the 1890's. One of them is a devoted fan of Sherlock Holmes and hopes to emulate his methodology and successes by being a detective. The other is his brother, who assumes the Watsonian role of documenting the escapades and acting as the muscle when the two run across various trials and tribulations associated with two down on their luck cowpokes working on "detectifyin". I am afraid, my review doesn't quite give the whole thing justice. The other ones I read all include words like "rollicking", "Flummoxed" and the like. While I don't have any words like this to throw out, I found it to be great fun.

So, I immediately went out and grabbed the first book in the series, simply entitled, Holmes on the Range. This book was great fun too, so I emailed Steve Hockensmith himself, who actually emailed back. Wow! I have no idea what he said. I think it was something like, "Thanks.". Who would of thought.

Anyways, the latest installment, The Black Dove, came out last month. It is set in San Francisco and the bros are at it again, this time in China Town. When I was last in San Francisco, there was a flying carpet on Pier 39 and you could buy a video tape of your ride through the Golden Gate City. I also went to Alcatraz and toured a submarine from WWII. While the heroes of the story don't make it to any of these attractions, they have some bizarre and funny adventures in Chinatown of the 1890's.

As I mentioned, I don't have a startling enough vocabulary to do a book review justice, but the best part of the story(ies) is the interaction between the two brothers. Their dialogue and the author's ability to convey the interaction of the two is good fun. On a cautionary note, you'll notice I didn't say good CLEAN fun. Some of the characters do find it necessary to filth up their language from time to time, much like some of the people I work with or like the guys that rolled up beside our car the other night. Well, that is another story. And they end up falling into an opium den and getting in a fight with a bunch of tong killers in a house of ill repute. Things of that nature. In fact, the title.....well, never mind, that might give something away.

So, I loved the book. I won't let my kids read it. If you can stand a few bad words, or want me to sharpie them out in your copy before you read it, give it a try. Seriously, it was the most fun read I have read in a while. I bought a copy for me and one for my mother.

Don't Believe Everything You Think

I just took in the book, Don't Believe Everything You think by Thomas Kida. If you can see the picture, the premise is that we make mistakes, 6 primary ones, in our thinking.

The 6 Basic Ones are:

1. We prefer stories to statistics.
In other words, we will confirm things to normal and true based upon anecdotal evidence, rather than on actually seeing what really happens.

2. We seek to confirm, not to question, or ideas.
We will boost the value of anything that confirms what we think is right and disregard anything that refutes it.

3. We rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events.
Don't we develop superstitions by doing some random act and then seeing something else, either good or bad, happen soon after? We then correlate whatever that random thing was to a particular outcome, when the outcome really had more to do with random chance or divine intervention or whatever than it does with our repeated random act.

4. We sometimes misperceive the world around us.
Understatement. We also can misperceive the motives of others.

5. We tend to oversimplify our thinking.
It is easy to not discover or to ignore important information when making decisions. Waiting for too much information can, of course, put us in a state of paralysis, unable to make a decision. However, disregarding pertinent information and oversimplifying things can lead to bad decisions.

6. We have faulty memories.
It is easy to misremember what really happened.

I didn't agree with everything this guy had to say, but it was helpful to look at some common thinking patterns and why they can be a disservice to us in all areas of life.

What are some of these that you are guilty of engaging in, to your harm?

Why is this underlining all my words?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Writer's Block

Emily told me tonight that for the first time in her life she is experiencing writer's block. Considering that she is twelve years old, I don't know if I should be glad that she is learning to deal with it at such a young age or if I should be concerned that her creativity is ebbing.

By that way, she is also looking for babysitting gigs. She has the Red Cross training , etc., etc. So, if any locals need an evening out.........

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Costco is awesome.

Well, the streams of people wandering around in your way is horrible and the parking lot full of angry drivers is even worse. But, check this out.

We bought this great looking bamboo flooring for our house at a really good price there. We were all set to put it in our house and it looked like it would work out great. But, over time, we realized that the sort of floor we have and the sort of floor we bought would take way more effort than we had anticipated.

So, we returned it today. It was 84 good size boxes of bamboo flooring, each weighing about 40 pounds. Diane and I loaded it all into a rented budget truck, because it would have taken at least 5 trips, if not more, in my pick up truck.

The guys that helped us unload at the store were none too happy, but the returns lady took them all back without batting an eye or asking a question.The kicker for me is that we bought it all in april of 2006. That is nearly two years.

Agent Pipes encouraged me with a "There is no way they will take that back after so long."

But, thanks to their generous return policy, we are now free to search for a more suitable alternative.


We had a wild weekend.

Picked up a rental truck

Loaded up the boxes for Costco.

Put stuff out in the back for brush and bulky pick-up day.

Went to our Church. Josh did a great message on being generous and shared his struggles with being generous. Seth, the new Worship Pastor, shared about when God called them to give up their money and began to tithe double and how God provided for them.

Right after Church, we ran over to a worship concert that our friends were putting on at their Church. Gannon is wants to be a full-time music minister and he was recording a dvd to use as a video resume, so they got the band together and did a worship concert.

Got up early to do the message at Pantano Baptist Church.

Returned the floor stuff and the truck and now I am finally home for a couple of hours before small group.