Thursday, December 31, 2009

We saw this one.

A few years ago, I rented the movie 28 Days Later. When I asked Diane to watch it with me, she said that she didn't want to watch some horror movie. I told her it was more of a thinker, with people working to defeat a virus and all that. She lasted about 1 minute into it when all the chasing people down then violently mauling and eating them. So, she was very reluctant to go see this movie with us.

Zombieland, coming soon to DVD, did have it's share of Zombies chasing people down and eating them, but it was much more fun than 28 Days Later.

It is the story of 4 misfits...and not only because they were the only ones that were not zombies, and their adventures in a world of zombies. They made them characters that we can all identify with, from the tough guy who used his guns and bravado to mask some hurts he had in the past to the guy who always felt like he missed out on life. from the girl who couldn't trust anyone so she ended up messing up relationships that could have helped her to her sister who never really got to grow up. Oh, and Bill Murray. Bill Murray played himself, so if you are Bill Murray, you could easily identify with that character.

We went to the cheap theater with some friends and had much more fun watching this movie than we would have had by ourselves. So, if you can get past the occasional foul language, the gruesome but almost cartoonish violence (one guy I work with said it wasn't too graphic at all. Of course, he is a paramedic) , gather some friends that enjoy seeing zombies gunned down and obliterated in a variety of ways and check out this film.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post It

Recent comments and complaints about my blog have led to this post. Not to justify or explain how I pick the topics I do, as much as to give me another topic to write about...and for you to enjoy, or not.

One friend recently told me that when I write posts that are political in nature, they usually glaze over them and totally skip them. Others generally disagree with my political points, so it encourages them to point out my flawed thinking. Actually, it is more fun to get someone angry than it is to be ignored, so when I post something with a political bent, I have to weigh the concern that some might totally tune it out against the idea that it might fire someone up. Usually, the fired up part wins.

Besides, I typically agree with my political blogs and they are typically about things that fire me up.

Sometimes I post stuff about my family. If you don't know my family, then hopefully you will learn that even though we can be a bit quirky and eccentric, (wait, we can't be eccentric until we are rich; we better stick with quirky) we are some of the most interesting and enjoyable people around. Tune in to find out more about us, what we are doing, reading, who we are meeting and where we are going.

And not to be missed are the reminiscing I share of the small town I grew up in, the small church I pastored, the larger church I started, the people who have made me angry, sad, happy, etc. and the places we have been. Usually I put in some sort of principle or moral or whatever. You decide if it fits.

So thanks for checking this out over the past year and I look forward to helping fill the coming year for you with new and exciting stuff.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

On this blessed morn, it is good to remember that our hope is found,
not in the decisions of our national leaders.
Although they can help make things better (or much worse) for a while, they can not make a lasting difference in our lives.

Nor is it found in our entertainment.
Our games and distractions can make us feel better for a time or take us to a better place, but they can not make a lasting difference in our lives.

Neither is our hope to be found in what we can do for ourselves.
We can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable, for a time, but all the things we do can not make a lasting difference in our lives.

In a feeding trough in a small stable in an overcrowded town in a has been country that doesn't even have it's own government, is lacking so many of the things we would call fun and has few opportunities for even fewer of the amenities we now work so hard for is where the hope of humanity is found.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Adverse Effect

In addition to the billions of dollars of debt the current administration and majority party is adding to my children with all their free wheeling spending, their is another adverse effect en-route with the new health care legislation.

We currently have what they call a Health Savings Account, or HSA. The HSA is basically a tax free savings account that is used in conjunction with a high income deductible insurance policy. We put pre-tax money into a special account reserved for medical expenses and a much smaller premium is paid towards our health insurance.

This is a winning situation for our employer, who pays a much lower premium and for us, as we pay a much lower amount and put aside money towards future medical expenses. The reason that it is much less expensive is because much of the money spent is need based. A large arbitrary amount isn't spent needlessly just to cover insurance that we may or may not need. But, it is still insurance, so if the need does arise, we will have it paid for and the HSA will pay for the higher deductible.

Here is something nice:
The current health care legislation, which just passed in the Senate, will do away with HSA's.

Since the legislation will be ending high deductible insurance policies, HSA's will go away. According to a Treasury Department Fact Sheet, there are many as 21 million policies which cover up to 40 million people. These will all be done away with so everyone can pay more for health insurance.

Here are some reasons I think they want to do away with HSA's:

- It takes the decision making out of the hands of government and places it in the hands of patients and doctors.

- It takes decision making out of the hands of insurance decision makers (which is soon to be, once again, government) and puts it in the hands of patients and doctors.

- It is cheaper.

Basically, the party which passed the current healthcare legislation is obviously in favor of taking the decision making in your life away and placing it in the hands of government. At least when it comes to your health.

And, they want to go with any plan that costs more money. I think that is just because it is fun to spend money.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Now we are just negotiating price.

An old story tells us that once a man asked to have relations with a married woman. "Of course not!", was her shocked reply. His offer then included several million dollars thrown in, to which she readily agreed.

He then asked, "How about for $25." Indignant, she said, "What do you take me for?".

His answer: "We have already established that, now we are just negotiating price."

Some of our favorite Senators showed their colors again as the health care legislation chugs down the line.

Ben Nelson of Nebraska (D) (who promised he would support no bill that funded abortions) got a hold of the "Cornhusker Kickback", worth around $100 million in government funding. That's even better than not funding abortions.

Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana was able to secure $300 million in spending for her state. The "Louisiana Purchase". Score!

Carl Levin got his state (D-MI) off the hook from a $7 billion dollar tax, Chris Dodd (D-CT) got $100 million for the University of Connecticut and the list goes on.

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) put it well when she said, "I know I'm not as important as Senator Nelson. I didn't get the money for my state. I was too stupid."

I think more States should have held out for more. California could have got tort reform for their state, Minnesota could have gotten free ellipticals for every household (it gets kind of cold to go out walking or running there in the winter), China (who has a large financial interest in our country) could have asked for some carbon credits in exchange for their support of health care legislation and Arizona, my state, should have promised support if we had a guarantee of more rain once this administration sorts out the weather.

Maybe you have seen this place.

Admittedly, it is not the same as the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Beach on Coronado Island sitting prettily next to San Diego. But, it is still a cool looking historic hotel in an area that the City is hoping will be revitalized.

So, what is this hotel used for? It is currently section 8 subsidized apartments for low income people. The owners, The Downtown Development corporation, recently announced that it would be selling the facility. Starting the bids at $670,000, it seemed like a bargain. You could imagine a cool bistro there in the front, some sort of store inside, maybe some trendy offices upstairs or some remodeled rooms right in the middle of the hip 4th avenue area. I think this could be a money maker for the new owners and a great addition to the tax base.

The county didn't seem to think so. They tossed in a bid for $700,000 to try and make sure the place stayed a low income housing facility. I know we need low income housing, especially for disabled and elderly who are unable to work. But, isn't there a less expensive option? Not only would it cost the $700,000, but the lost revenue to the local municipality, not to mention the possible addition of a gem to an area that needs nice new places in order to upgrade.

I know that some may not agree with me that a nice and profitable establishment in a cool old place is better than a income apartments in that same place. But I really do think low income apartments can be placed in other, less expensive places, and more benefit for all could be derived from a nice and profitable establishment.

The latest is that the County has lost the bid, but no word yet on who did get the winning bid. Contrary to an increasingly popular rumor, I was not one of the bidders.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Here Ya Go.

Had to share this cartoon, in case you hadn't seen it over on Andy's Blog.

I did see one of the houses at Winterhaven decorated with a Festivus Pole. I guess we don't want to leave out the folks that celebrate Festivus.

Here are the traditions of Festivus:
1. "Airing of Grievances", which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year.
2. After the meal the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned.
3. An aluminum pole with no decorations.

Yes, this holiday was made up by George on the Seinfeld show when he was trying to cover up for making up a charity in lieu of giving Christmas gifts to his colleagues. But, there are people who actually celebrate this now, so I think we have to make room for them at the table of comfort and being politely quiet. Don't you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lost Tradition!!!

Every year we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" together as a family. Last night was it for us this year.

If you are at all familiar with that film, make sure you watch this, the lost ending:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Done Right, Right here.

Here in Tucson, of all places, near the now empty El Con mall (which has experienced a revival on the outside due to the highly popular retail chains on the property but still sits largely empty on the inside), sits the Basis Charter School.

This school boasts a 100% college acceptance rate and has been the plantiff in a lawsuit against the state board of education to set their own curriculum standards for social studies and teach at a higher grade level than the set standards. It has also been the subject of the documentary film 2 Million Minutes, which compares the educational standards of the U.S. with that of Asian countries like China and India.

Detractors say that the Basis model wouldn't work in a regular educational setting, citing the higher standards as being impossible to attain for the average student. It also does some other things that most public schools would never do. For one thing, it is funded with about $1,000 less per student than the typical public school. Other than a Charter School, no public school would dream of doing more with less.

Another thing it does that other schools would not is that it hires teachers that would never be accepted as public school teachers. People like George Rising, who has his PH.D. in philosophy and an M.A. in history and has taught for 7 years at the U. of A. Rising is unqualified to teach at any of the local T.U.S.D. because he is not certified by the Arizona Board of Education.

Interested? Here are a couple of articles about the School.

Learning the BASIS for Advanced Placement Courses

Desert excellence

Gingrich, Sharpton praise charter's innovation

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Up in Arms, Pt. 2

No more IOU's from the State of California. Do you remember how they were issuing state income tax returns in the form of IOU's? Well, now that you are able to redeem those, in a limited way, they have thought up a new way to take everyone's money.

As of November 1st, employers are required to hold out an additional 10% from employee's income. Not to worry, the money will be repaid in April. Somehow.

Arizona is on the list of States that are in California-like financial straits . Unlike California, Arizona is furiously working to cut spending.

Although, one wonders why we are in serious financial straits if we were spending considerably less (even in inflation adjusted income) 15 or 20 years ago and the state was still functional. What is it that government does today that costs so much more than it ever did in the past?

Up In Arms, Pt. 1

This ad campaign by Dockers is getting people up in arms. How dare they call men to return to manhood? Some of the complaints are accusing Dockers of wanting to return to a time when women couldn't vote, etc., etc.

I am curious, are women really offended by someone holding the door for them or by a guy helping a little old lady cross a busy street?

Of course, they also come in the color, "Oregeno".

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do ya have to?

Diane is currently reading this book, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer.

While she finds it very interesting and informative, there are several things that are entirely unnecessary. Among them:

The author makes it clear that he believes Lincoln had homosexual relationships with a friend of his. His only evidence is that Lincoln had a close friend that, for a time, shared a bed. While this might sound strange in our time when we all have our own bedrooms, it was very common for people to do this at that time. Oh, wait, he has other evidence. He says that other people had homosexual relationships during that era. So, of course Lincoln had to have had them.

Do we really need to hear about that?

Another item that disturbed my wife - Douglas married a woman who was a free woman but had worked as a domestic for several years prior to their marriage. His wife didn't have a job outside of the home and was responsible for looking after the children and taking care of their house. The author, John Stauffer, said that they may have called this love, but it was clearly a lopsided relationship.

For all you women who have ever stayed home and taken care of the house or children, you are a kept woman. Free yourself from the shackles of tyranny. If you haven't yet, go get a full time job and be glad you don't have to stay at home.

Clearly, history is often interpreted through the lens of our own opinions and agendas.

Here are a few books that I am reading through now that I am enjoying. And yes, I do read several books at a time. I don't know why.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You don't handle this sort of thing so well, do you?

Several years ago, well, I guess it was about twelve years ago, I was on a trip with a friend from our Church. We took the long way back, though the white mountains and then down to Globe, Miami and some other similarly obscure northern Arizona towns near where he grew up.

On the way, the radiator started to spring a leak. we had to patch it up and add water every few miles. He was clearly concerned, both because he might not be making a good impression on the Pastor and because he really did want to get home. He commented on how I was really keeping my cool in spite of the problems we were having. I told him that since it wasn't my car, it really didn't bother me so much at all.

Fast forward to Friday night. we were invited to watch a movie with some friends that we hadn't hung out with for a while. We had the movie and we loaded up the kids, my Mom (visiting from Denver) and Diane(my wife) and I into our car. Diane noticed a light was on inside the car and wondered aloud how long it had been on.

After two hours of unsuccessfully trying to jump start it with my truck, we finally decided to check the battery. We don't like to do this, because we have to take apart several pieces of our car before we can get to the battery. The last one to take out the battery was the shop, so they had apparently tightened it down with some sort of pneumatic drill, or a muscle bound mechanic training for the next Mr. America contest. So, we decided to ask Diane's Dad is we could get some better tools to take it apart.

After he came, he tried to jump start it again. Fortunately, it worked. We were too late to go to our friends, but at least our old car is still chugging along, even though I vowed to walk to the nearest car dealership the next day and buy a new one.

Apparently I impressed my mom. Even though I was more than a little upset, she said she thought I really kept my cool. according to her, I didn't swear once. I guess she can't read my mind like Diane can.

Just a thing.

When we were in Sacramento, we wanted to do some remodeling on our house. We had a bathroom that was reminiscent of a dark, dirty and narrow facility on a dark, dirty and narrow fishing boat that had been out to sea for three days too long. We also wanted to put a deck and a sliding glass door off of our back family room and close up a spot where the old door was.

Since we didn't have the skills for all this and since I had scaled back to part time at the Church and took a full time position as director of marketing for an assisted living facility, we decided to get some out side help. One of the guys at our Church was a skilled contractor who was in between jobs and stuck in the middle of some union dispute or some such thing, so we brought him over to have a look.

He was a go for all our plans and was soon sawing, cutting, tearing, building and overall doing a nice job. When people at our church heard he was working on our place, we did hear a bit of grumbling. "Must be nice." and "We never could get him to come and do stuff at our place." and"Maybe if I was the Pastor, he would come work on my house too."

I am not sure if they did, but I think I figured out why he came and worked on our place and never seemed to have the time to get to theirs. The difference was, we paid him a fair and generous rate for the work he did. I think a few of the others were hoping he could come help them in his spare time. I am sure he would have liked to, but, at the time, he was trying to find extra work to keep his family fed and in their house.

Helping out others at no charge is a good thing, but it is nice to be able to pay the bills. I guess that is one reason why paying someone for the work they do is an important part of life.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I don't feel stimulated

As you know, we were informed by our current presidential administration that if we congress didn't pass the over $700 billion dollar stimulus package, the unemployment rate would soar to over 8%. Now that we have passed it and unemployment is down to over 10%, congress is looking at doing a jobs bill which would, what, bring the unemployment rate down to 12%? Spend a little more money on....well, on what?

The local paper had an article today helping explain what that money is being spent on. Check it out here:

Stimulus spending data from US 'clear as mud'

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This looks like fun.

One thing that I have discovered about debates is that they rarely change anyone's mind about anything. Whether you are arguing with your spouse or in a formal debate setting, you rarely hear something that makes you say, "Aha, that blows me away. I am totally changing my mind." However, debates can be a good thing.

One thing that listening to a debate does is give you a chance to better understand your position on a subject. You can hear the conclusions that someone else has come to, a clear explanation of the reason they have reached those conclusions and it helps your mind to think of other reasons that you would use to argue those same conclusions.

Here is a movie that I found that I want to get a hold of. As the synopsis says:

COLLISION carves a new path in documentary film-making as it pits leading atheist, political journalist and bestselling author Christopher Hitchens against fellow author, satirist and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson, as they go on the road to exchange blows over the question: "Is Christianity Good for the World?".

Take a look. Maybe it will blow you away.
Collision Movie Trailer from Gorilla Poet Productions on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This was a little to much like my work.

My son and I recently wanted to go check out a movie. It was before the new Christmas Carol movie came out, or we probably would have gone to see that one. Instead, we opted to go see "Where the Wild Things Are."

I know the kid in the story is supposed to be a bratty little lad that throws a tantrum and runs off to where the wild things are. I know, but I guess I wasn't expecting him to be a pathologically bratty kid that runs off on the night his mom has her new boyfriend over for dinner.

When he gets to where the wild things are, he finds, not just a group of monsters that first want to eat him then make him king like monsters are supposed to do. He finds an enclave of domestic violence, jealousy and general stupidity. I guess the movie maker really wanted to drive home the point that you could always have a much worse family. You could live in a place where you can't call the cops on the monster that is tearing up the house and throwing people around.

In any case, the whole movie reminded me of a bad night on the job. One of those nights where you go from one stupid group of people's house to the next dealing with their idiocy.

If I were you, I would skip this movie. Just go read the book again, if you liked it and leave it at that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Live from Arizona's 15th Congressional District

In a recent read of Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers", I discovered that, typically, you have to do something for about 10,000 hours before you can be considered, or actually be, an expert.

Think about how that transfers to the things you want to be good at: playing the piano, public speaking, a job skill, or even being good at your marriage.

About marriage, it about 416 and 2/3's days to add up to 10,000 hours. So, after about 14 months of marriage, you should be an expert, right? If Gladwell's ideas are as true as he believes, after your first year or so of marriage, all your problems should disappear.

Unfortunately, we don't get to spend all those hours together to make us experts. And, when we are together, we are not always practicing good marriage practices. So, I think it takes more like 25 years of an exceptional marriage (which I would define as one where the marriages take time to try and work at it) to become an expert at being married.

I am coming up on 18 years, so I am on my way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes, it's....

Extra points for you if you know the Artist and Title of the song with the lyrics found in the title of this post. Also, 3 bonus points if you know the denomination that I was with at the first church where I was the head Pastor guy.

Emily is in her second year of debate this year, so we are excited to take her to check out a debate on a topic that interests us. Here is what the official info says:

AzOSA to Host November Debate

Did God Use Evolution?

There's no question that the omnipotent God, Creator of the Universe, could have used Evolution as the process to create life including humans. The question is did He and can we be certain either way.

AzOSA is pleased to present a debate on that very subject. Hear arguments from both viewpoints and decide for yourself:

  • Does the Bible allow for the insertion of evolution
  • Can the creation account of Genesis be interpreted to support the long ages required for evolution
  • Is the order of events in the creation week to be regarded as factual
  • Should the Genesis account of creation be regarded as historical narrative or allegorical

About the debaters

Mike Riddle, Speaker, Author, Answers in Genesis

Mike holds a degree in mathematics and a graduate degree in education. He has been involved in creation ministry for more than twenty five years. Prior to getting involved in creation ministry, Mike was a captain in the U.S. Marines and a national champion in track and field.

Peter Waller Ph.D. , U of A Prof., Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

"I enjoy teaching. Teaching includes communicating a message to an audience in an interesting and entertaining style, carefully constructing the message whether the message is in a speech or a paper, and challenging students to consider all sides of an issue. My goals are to improve student skills in math and writing, group participation and communication, and problem solving. In addition to being a place to communicate knowledge, the classroom should be an environment where students obtain skills that help them succeed in life."

I know that all of you aren't interested in where we came from and all that, but I am. If you share an interest, come see the debate.

When: This Thursday, November 19th at 7:00pm

Where: The First Evangelical Free Church, 4700 N. Swan

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can it be?

They say that little babies don't yet know how to smile. It is a social muscle that doesn't develop until they are several months along. I am not sure I believe them.

However, when Emily, our oldest daughter, was born fourteen years ago she smiled at me. After she was born and all that, they brought her over to me wrapped in a little pink blanket and she looked up at me and flashed an Emily grin. No-one else saw it, so I can't prove it, but I was there. She, however, claims no memory of the incident.

If you're lucky, you can still see her show that same smile. Like on days like today, her birthday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In the company of heroes

I found out that the Agent assigned to our squad is the one who originally put this video to music and found himself in a little bit of trouble because of it going 'viral', finding it's way all around the country. I have also met the agent that stars in the video.

So, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out right here:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A small contribution.

I recently met a man who flew in Jimmy Stewart's bomber squadron during WWII. He was a tail gunner and his B-24 was hit over Germany forcing him to bail out. He spent the rest of the war in Stalag 17, which was made famous by the movie of the same name. Unfortunately, the rest of his crew didn't make it out of the plane.

On this day, veteran's day, it is good to reflect on those who have made sacrifices and even gave their lives for our country.

It seems petty in comparison to guys like this, but I thought I would share a couple of things I did during my time in the service. It was a small contribution.

Enlisted and set off to boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base on July 11th of 1988.

After completing Basic Training, The Law Enforcement Academy in Lackland, I was sent to Ft. Dix, NJ for Ground Combat School

After this, I was assigned to Davis Monthan Air Force Base here in Tucson.

Attended M-60 machine gun school, combat rifle school and Desert Warfare Training before my deployment to Dhahran Air Force Base on January 1st, 1991.

Was in Dhahran during Operation Desert Storm. Our base suffered the highest casualties of that conflict when a scud missile hit a National Guard encampment. I think I was playing volleyball with a net someone had made out of parachute cord when the missile hit. It was the last of several scuds that his out base.

Returned to DM on July 4th 1991 and separated from the Air Force on July 11th of 1992.

That's about it for the highlights. I am in awe of those who serve today and face multiple deployments and see that we are still threatened in this conflict, even on our own soil, by extremists like the shooter in Ft. Hood.

Thanks to all those who have served and who are serving and protecting us today.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Change of Pace

Last night, the girls and I dressed up and headed down to the local Fox Theater to catch the 1934 movie "The Thin Man".

The Thin Man has been one of our favorites for a while and it was a treat to see it in the restored Fox Theater.

I have discovered that some of the older films are more dialogue driven than what we would see in many contemporary films. We have been so conditioned away from dialogue driven that the idea of a movie that is dialogue driven sounds kind of dull and uninteresting. However, it really is fun. In some ways, these films have the feel of a fun play, where you feel like you are there listening to people actually talk.

Take for instance, the Thin Man. Even though it has three shootings and at least two guys punched out, most of the fun is the clever and witty dialogue of William Powell and Myrna Loy's characters. Here is a list of some of the more memorable quotes. They seemed more fun in the middle of the movie, but you still get the idea.

So, while good movies are still being made, it is still fun to watch some films where the dialogue alone could grab you attention and it was enough to make the movie enjoyable.

And here is a list of some of our family favorites:

Arsenic and Old Lace
The Philadelphia Story
The Shop Around the Corner
Sabrina (the one with Bogart and Hepburn)
You Can't Take It With You (I have another (rather unflattering) story about this one. Maybe I will include it here sometime).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not so remarkable.

I have met some remarkable people in my life. Mel Gibson, Rick Warren, the guy that played Rocky's Brother-In-Law, Rod Stewart, Keith Thibodeaux (Little Ricky from I Love Lucy), Miss India. Those are just some remarkable people I have met that you may have heard of.
Here are a couple of my favorite people that have also been among my favorite teachers: Dr. Jeffrey Sief, David Gibbons (Not the Watchmen Comic guy, the Pastor guy).
This blog post is about none of those people.

Just wanted to share a couple of things about someone I met in school named "J". He was not remarkable and I won't share his full name because some people may know exactly who he is.
The last I saw him, he was driving away from school in a taxi cab that he was piloting.

I used to do a work study at the V.A. hospital. For one semester, I worked in the personnel and director's office doing office stuff. I am pretty sure the director was a veteran because, when I shook his hand, I noticed he was missing a finger. It was probably chewed off by the viet cong in a fierce fire fight or was lost to a "hand" mine in Grenada.

The second semester, I asked to be assigned to the recreational therapy unit and spent my time learning to play dominoes with veterans of world war two and attending treatment meetings pretending I knew what sort of recreation would be best for veterans dying of cancer.

"J" was able, somehow, to wrangle a work study position at the same hospital changing dirty sheets and bed pans. Since we both ended school at the same time, had the same work hours and he saw me going to the same hospital as him, I ended up offering him a ride from campus and back, where we also both lived.

There was never a dull moment taking him there, and plenty of highlights. Like when we told him we were returning to Arizona and he guffawed loudly and wondered "who would want to go to that God-forsaken place?" Not God, I guess. Or how he insisted we listen to some radio station about some radical anti-abortion activists and would scream with glee when he heard of them chaining themselves to trash cans and the like.

On a particularly crazy day, we saw a man in some sort of uniform with a bucket and some little flowers. When "J" asked what that guy was doing (because I obviously knew, since I was driving), I told him they were probably trying to raise money for some cult. "J" then pointed at the man and shouted, "I CURSE YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS!".

I appreciated his passion for the Lord, but I am not really sure he wants us to go around cursing people. Fig trees, maybe. I could be wrong. I am the same person that thought "J" should at least tell us thank you when we drove him all the way across Dallas in rush hour traffic to meet his friends at a concert. Apparently he and I didn't really agree about everything.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Free Range Kids

Are you concerned about all the abductions of kids and would never let your kid out of your sight to ensure that it never happens to you?

Are you one of those parents who are glad that the trend in playgrounds is to make them safer and safer, doing away with things like merry go rounds and slides?

Or, are you the type of parent who would stick your kid alone on the New York subway and not begin to worry after you are apart for three minutes?

Diane and I just read Lenore Skenazy's new book, "Free Range Kid's." Skenazy gained the spotlight when she wrote a column about sending her then nine year old son home alone on the subway. Dubbed "America's Worst Mom," by the media, she found herself in the center of a whirlwind of attention for the atrocious act. This led her to further research, think about and write about what she has called "Free Range Kids."

The book is about how, perhaps, our fears are often exaggerated. While, admittedly, sometimes children are abducted (and sometimes the Bay Bridge does fall on cars), it is way more likely that it will never happen to us. Statistically speaking, she points out, a person would have to leave their child unattended for about 750,000 years in order for them to be abducted because you left them alone.

The book is an interesting reminder that we can not control everything and the world is not always as dangerous as we make it out to be. Sure, it is still bad and bad things do happen and we should be smart and safe. But smart and safe and stifling are not always the same. So go ahead, let your kid talk to a stranger. They probably won't get eaten.

Interested? Appalled? Be sure to check out her site for much more info.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tait dresses up, but not for Halloween

I went to see the Newsboys in concert last night, but this isn't a review of that event. Yes, it was powerful and yes we all enjoyed it, but I wanted to comment on another aspect of what happened.

As we were leaving the field was littered with water bottles, fliers and whatever else people couldn't bear to walk over to the numerous trash cans spread throughout the arena.

As I looked around, Someone (it might have been me) said, "Jesus is crying." And someone else mentioned that he was crying like the crying Indian guy from the littering commercials. Does anyone else besides me remember that?

Anyways, I didn't think it seemed terribly "christian" to leave the place trashed. I also thought that I probably shouldn't post every thought that comes into my head....but I did this one anyway.

In case you missed the commercial:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sometimes your worst fears are realized

When we lived in California, we had seen images of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland collapsing onto cars during the latest big earthquake.

Every time we drove on the bridge, Diane would white knuckle the dash and look up at the top part hoping that pieces wouldn't fall off onto us, or hope we wouldn't suddenly plunge to the lower level if we were going the other way.

A couple of days ago, a portion of the bridge did fall onto traffic. Fortunately, it was only a 5 ton rod and it only damaged some cars and didn't smash anyone or plunge anyone into the bay.

I just thought that since it was Halloween, it served as a good reminder that sometimes our worst fears are realized. So, if you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear (in addition to the flowers in your hair) a hardhat.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not by 40

The Tucson newspaper recently announced it's annual 40 Under 40 awards for the area. These are quite popular events nationwide that recognize top achievers in their respective fields. It looks like I will not make any of these lists, as I am fast approaching 40. While I am consoled by the fact that you probably won't make any of these lists either, I thought it would be somewhat cathartic to remember some of the things I have achieved in my few years on the planet.

So, while I will probably not be president prior to 40, here are a few things I have done...some I am proud of and some I threw on just for fun. See if you can tell which is which:

- I was a member of the three man championship Brain Bowl team for two years straight in High School.
- I attended a war and was even given a couple of little medals for it. I think I have them around somewhere.
- Married a wonderful lady and will be married to her for 18 years before I am 40
- Actually graduated from a college
-Went on a 3 week missions/tour trip of Israel
- Became a Senior Pastor of a Church before age 25, if you can call someone under 25 Senior
- Was responsible for starting and developing a new church in California that is still thriving and affecting lives today. Yes, I am the one responsible for that, in case you want someone to blame
-Won a trip to India and spent the time there helping teach Church Leaders
- Dad to 4 great kids
- I have a job that I enjoy
-I am sure there are some other things..I just thought my list might help you think of some great things you have done and motivate you to your next achievement

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Last Call...literally, the last call.

If you think zombies are cool, which everyone seems to these days, head downtown this afternoon....preferably like right now, for the 4th annual Zombie Walk in Tucson.

It is an annual tradition where dozens of people dress like zombies and ascend on downtown Tucson. They will also be holding a "Thriller" dance, trying to break the world's record of the most people dancing the 'Thriller" dance dressed as zombies.

Check out the website here.

You can also head to the LOFT at 10pm tonight to watch Shaun of the Dead.

I am supposed to go out with Diane tonight, so I probably won't be able to talk her into any of this fun. If you are in the same boat as I, check out one of the best "zombie" books ever. In fact, it might be the only good "zombie" book that even exists, as far as I know. It is also set to be made into a movie to be released next year.

Eyes on the prize.

When I was on the football team in the 9th grade, my coach said I was the best player on the team. I really wasn't. I wasn't too fast. I wasn't the strongest or biggest. I never was a ball carrier. But here is why he said it.

I played defensive tackle on the team. I started out as defensive end, but I really wasn't fast enough for that, so they moved me to defensive tackle. I think I did get more tackles than most everyone else for a little bit there, but that is pretty common for a defensive tacke. Everyone just runs right to you in that position. They even started double teaming me in a couple of games. That started to really hurt.

At a practice halfway through the season, the coach lined us all up and asked if we knew who the best player on the team was. A few names were given...Jeff, Joe, Marcus...No, the coach said. Allerton is.

He went on to say that I was the best player on the team because I watched the ball. I kept my eye, as they would say in baseball, on the ball.

I did play baseball for years, so I knew how to keep my eye on the baseball. I also figured out something about football. All the other guys were trying to make sure they got the plays right and did the proper blocks and go the direction they were supposed to. All that was important, but I figured out that the direction the ball was moving was more important than all of that. If I focused on that ball, I discovered that I got more tackles, was able to strip the ball from the other team more often and have a lot more fun.

The challenging part is applying that simple principle to the organization I work for, my family and my life. But when I do, I sure I will get more fulfillment and have a lot more fun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Well Read?

I thought I was doing pretty good at being well read, until I read through The Lion's Pride, a book about Theodore Roosevelt and his family. In it, the author informed, among plenty of other things, that Theodore liked to read 4 or 5 books a day.

He would also scrawl his name in them and put them up on a shelf. His sons gave them away during the War (The Great One, WW1) to fellow soldiers, so now there are plenty of mid-western attics with a book that once belonged to Theodore Roosevelt.

Four or five a day is more than I can handle. I thought I was doing good with one or two a week.

Here are the ones I am working on now:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Whole Different Experience.

Here are some highlights from the Beloit College Mindset list of kids graduating in 2013. Each August they publish a similar list to highlight the differing experiences differing generations face. To see the whole list, zip on over to here. To see some highlights, read on.

Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.

  1. For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
  2. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
  3. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
  4. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
  5. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
  6. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
  7. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
  8. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
  9. Rap music has always been main stream.
  10. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
  11. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.
  12. The KGB has never officially existed.
  13. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
  14. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
  15. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
  16. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.
  17. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
  18. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
  19. The European Union has always existed.
  20. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
  21. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
  22. The American health care system has always been in critical condition.
  23. There has always been a Cartoon Network.
  24. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
  25. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
  26. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
  27. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
  28. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
  29. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
  30. There have always been flat screen televisions.
  31. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
  32. Disney’s Fantasia has always been available on video, and It’s a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.
  33. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
  34. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
  35. They have never been Saved by the Bell
  36. Most communities have always had a mega-church.
  37. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.
  38. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.
  39. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
  40. For one reason or another, California’s future has always been in doubt.
  41. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
  42. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
  43. NATO has always been looking for a role.
  44. Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.
  45. Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.
  46. Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.
  47. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
  48. Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
  49. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.
  50. There has always been blue Jell-O.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

All I want.....

Is to move the video I posted a little further down the page.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The other night, we went to the AZOSA monthly presentation and heard Dr. Rick Oliver speak. Dr. Oliver has a M.S. and PHD in biology with an emphasis on herpetology and was the former director of the Mount Hermon Outdoor Science School.

Herpetology is the study of snakes, and that was the main thrust of Dr. Oliver's talk. He began by telling us about his militant atheism for nearly thirty years, before coming to believe in God through the study of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. He also told about how the snake, designed to be a perfect killing machine, was always difficult for him to reconcile with his belief in Darwinian evolution.

We took the whole clan to the presentation and I think Ethan was especially impressed with Dr. Oliver's descriptions of the killing mechanisms of various snakes.

For those of us in the west, here are some salient points:

- 99% or more of rattlesnake bites are on males between the ages of 5 and 25.
Why do you supposes this is?

- Another 99% or more of snake bites on these males are accidental. In other words, the snake didn't have any intention of biting the person to begin with. They only did it because they were in some way provoked. The demographic of who is bitten would help explain that.

- If you are bitten, don't run and try not to walk. It only accelerates the venom moving through the body.

- Don't ice a bite and NEVER cut a bite.

- Don't try to suck the venom out. It doesn't work.

- 50% of rattlesnake bites are dry bites - no venom at all.

- Don't play with pythons or other constrictors, unless you are really stupid. They can easily wrap you up and suffocate you, can kill much quicker than venomous snakes and when they do bite, the jaws can not be unlocked.

- Once again, if you dangle a python around your neck, you're an idiot.

- A diamondback rattlesnake can strike at speeds of up to 12 ft per second. Dodge that, if you can.

For more information about snakes, go outside and prod one with a stick. After you are bitten, the doctors will tell you all about them.

Or, talk to our friend Jeff. He was bitten by a baby rattlesnake while trying to save his band class from it. His method of saving band classes was to pick the snake up and carry it somewhere else. It doesn't always work out so well and I think he may have since modified his methodology.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Preservation of Favoured Races..........

When we lived in Safford, our daughter Emily was born. The ladies of the church made their obligatory pilgrimage to our house to view the Pastor's new baby.

One lady who came held her and then commented on how she just loved her light and wispy hair. It was so beautiful, she told us, with an adoring smile on her face.

Her features then contorted to what, in my memory, appeared almost demonic and she snarled, "Not like those Mexican babies, with all their hair."

Apparently, it was not quite right, in her opinion, to be either a mexican baby or to have mexican baby hair. Where do these people come from?

Darwin certainly did his part in naming his famous work "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection", subtitling it "The Preservation of Favoured Races In the Struggle For Life". Even though the people of the Church didn't believe in Darwinian Evolution, there are still some who thought the idea of Favoured Races wasn't so far off. Not what one should be learning, or even pretending to believe, at church at all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the other hand.....of God

My good friend Troy, who endured countless lectures and discussions with me at school, took a position as Pastor at a small Church in a very small town in Kansas. Since the town was in a farming community the Church actually had a larger population than the town. Troy told me how this Church, a member of the American Baptist denomination, came to be the Church in town.

Some years ago, some time after the turn of the century, the town had three Churches. One unfortunate year, two of the three Churches were destroyed by tornados, leaving only the Baptist church standing. The hardworking folks of the area joined together and rebuilt both of the razed structures. The following year, the same two Churches were wrecked when yet another tornado swept across the prairies and blew them down.

The people of the town, not only known for being hardworking, but also renowned for the common sense that all mid westerners so readily display, decided that God was trying to tell them something. After these portentous events, the whole lot of them became baptists.

Now, I am not one to immediately label all changes in the weather as some sort of an attempt of God to communicate with us. On the other hand, when faced like something like this, do you really want to keep building your buildings?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What will we do...?

In years past we have, ran out of candy for trick or treaters and gathered up more by trick or treating ourselves, gone to a "haunted mansion", put on an annual "Harvest Fest" at our Church, gone with friends to alternative celebrations at their church and just turned out the lights and hid in our house.

Our Halloween Alternative Celebration this year:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Fair is That?

Are you familiar with the Fair Trade idea in buying certain commodities? The idea is, many of the world's farm workers are exploited and under paid and much of this is due to the fact that the price paid for the commodities they produce is unfair.

There are, however, some inherent problems with this Fair Trade movement, which has been most highly publicized with coffee. For one, only those farms that have a cooperative ownership are eligible for the "Fair Trade" appellation. So, if Mr. Valdez saved up his money and bought his own farm, out of a desire to improve his life or to make the best coffee ever or whatever, he could not get the designation.

The idea of paying a fixed price for a pound of coffee also does nothing to make sure that the quality is consistent. Coffee connoisuers will tell us that not all coffee beans are the same. When the farmers realize this, the temptation must be strong to cut costs, selling a cheaper
product for the same price. Is it really that fair to have t pay the same cost regardless of quality?

And what if the price of coffee goes up? Commodities, and especially coffee, are highly volitile in their prices due to a variety of circumstances. The farmers have agreed to sell their coffee at what has been pre-determined to be a fair price. However, why would they want to sell it for
these prices if the market is asking for a much higher price?

Believe it or not, a free market system is still the best one that anyone has found for promoting fairness in pricing, purchasing and paying of employees.

Monday, October 12, 2009


In my tenure as a boss and leader, I had to fire three people.

Person #1 was fired for not doing the assigned job.

Person #2 was fired for primarily ethical reasons.

Person #3 was fired due to a lack of funding for the position.

Person #1 was mostly not really wanting to do the assigned job, having an interest in other pursuits. It probably would have been much better for our organization and them if I had been somehow more clear about expectations sooner (maybe). They were probably as pleased as I was when I finally let them go.

Person #2 should have been let go way sooner. Sometimes, as a boss, you think that they couldn't possibly be the way you think they are and you keep giving them chances to show they are not. But, when they continually do the same things in spite of coaching, correction and whatever else, you really should let them go. Sooner rather than later.

Person #3 was someone I was sad to see go. I may have been able to keep them longer if I had let person #2 go sooner. I may have not had to consider letting them go if I had someone altogether different for person #2. Sometimes, you do have to make cuts for the good of the organization.

The point of this is to say, don't be afraid to let people go. Usually the ones that need to are kept way longer than they should be and it ends up not helping them, your organization or your emotional well being. Don't be a headhunter, but if you are in charge of personnel, don't be afraid to do your job too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Visions Of Nobel Peace

The Nobel Peace people have awarded our President the Nobel Peace Prize for, in their words, "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." The nominations and selection came about in February, just after his inauguration. I am not sure what he did by then, but it must have been good.

Former prize winner Lech Walesa (Anybody remember that guy? He really did earn his prize.) said, "Well, there's hasn't been any contribution to peace yet. He's proposing things, he's initiating things, but he is yet to deliver....".

The President joins former President Jimmy Carter and PLO leader Yasser Arafat in having won the prize for solving all the middle east problems and bringing about peace in our time. Oh, and Al Gore. Hard to mention world peace without bringing up his name. Thanks Al.

I think I too should get the Nobel Peace Prize for some of my visions of peace. Ask me about them sometime.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Did I not say... a narrative of the nettled neurosurgeon?

I did mention that I would tell the story about my daughter's neurosurgeon, did I not? I will begin now. We'll see how far I get.

Our younger daughter was born with Myelomeningocele, commonly referred to as Spina Bifida. One of the results of this is that she has a shunt in her head which helps drain the cerebrspinal fluid into her abdominal cavity.

When she was about a year old, she began to demonstrate some of the signs and symptoms that had been described to us that might indicate her shunt was failing. A shunt failure means that it is not properly draining the fluid and can cause severe problems, including death, similar to the effects of brain swelling after a traumatic head injury. So, we took her to the U.C. Davis ER in Sacramento.

Since she has a pressure sensitive shunt, she was ushered into the back immediately after triage and was soon seen by the staff. They decided that she did not have a shunt problem, but instead had a UTI, which led to a fever and the other symptoms she was showing. So, they prescribed whatever they did and sent us all home.

The following day, she was not improving, so we decided to bring her back. Upon arriving, they were astonished that she had been discharged the previous day, as kids that little with UTI's were supposed to be kept and watched. So, they admitted her and we spent the night in the pediatric wing.

In the morning, she was feeling much better. Her fever was gone, she was playing around and had no other visible issues except one. She had developed some swelling on her neck along the track of the shunt, which seemed to indicate that it had leaked some along her neck. So, someone contacted the on-duty neurosurgery resident, Dr. Torres.

I think the neurosurgeons must be paid on some sort of commission. Dr. Torres brusquely informed us that he needed to operate as soon as possible. When we told him we didn't know if we should do that, he insisted and said the Operating Room(O.R.) would probably be available the following day, but they would let us know when it would be before he operated, and he left the room.

Diane and I began to think, based on our daughter's condition, that his plan was ridiculous, so we resolved to ask for a second opinion. Soon after, a nurse came in and told me that they had the O.R. ready and they would be taking our daughter off to the surgery. I told her no, I didn't want them to do that. She looked shocked and told me that she would let the Dr. know, but that he would not be too happy.

Apparently arranging these O.R.'s is kind of degrading for these Doctors anyway, and then after doing so, to be told that the patient isn't cooperating is downright infuriating. At least, he was was infuriated. He called and screamed in my ear and told me he would discharge her against medical advice and that we couldn't just say "no" to him.

I told him that he had said that he would get back with us before he scheduled any operation, which he did not do and that we wanted someone else's opinion, preferably a pediatric neurosurgeon. Dr. Torres informed me that their was no such thing as a pediatric neurosurgeon and threatened again to discharge us against medical advice. I told him that I didn't care if he discharged us against medical advice, which made him more angry.

I was hoping he would come discuss the matter in person, but fortunately for him and my current career choice, he did not. The nurses did come in and congratulate me for talking to him like that. Apparently they did not particularly like him either.

I stood guard over her for several hours, but no-one ever came to try and take her away. I was half expecting the burly guys in the white coats or the cops or something to come and wrestle her away, but they didn't show. Some time later, Dr. Muizelaar, the Chair of Neurological Surgery at the hospital, came and looked at her. He agreed that the swelling appeared to be incidental and surgery was one option that could be exercised, but so was waiting and observing.

She was fine, and we were soon assigned to Dr. Boggan, who is known to be an expert in Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Our daughter did eventually have three shunt repair surgeries, two with Dr. Boggan (pronounced like Bow-Gun), and one with Dr. Kim. She also had a couple of urological surgeries with Dr. Kurzrock. On all of these occasions, we were convinced that the decisions that these doctors made was based on them making the best decision they could with the best information available.

I am sure there is some lesson about something somewhere in this story, you decide what it might be.

Only a Few Are Left

This week, over 100 veterans of the Battle of the Bulge gathered in Tucson for ceremonies and sightseeing.

The Bulge was the large winter time battle that took place after the allies had the Germans on the run after the Normandy invasion. The Germans threw everything they had at the "Bulge" and nearly broke through. It was also known for the units of Germans that posed as GI's, the massacre at Malmedy and Gen. McAuliffe telling the Germans "Nuts!" when they asked him to surrender the Belgium city of Bastogne.

These surviving veterans are now in their 80s and 90s.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The End is here!

Friday night, we loaded up the children, Diane's sister and one of her kids, some lawn chairs, a cooler with ice cream, popcorn and some iced drinks and headed over to the DeAnza drive in for our last night at the Drive-In here in Tucson. We opted just to catch the first feature, although we could have, at no extra charge, stayed for the second or shot over to another screen to watch what those people over there were watching. It was our final night, since they are closing the theater after this weekend.

I know, drive-ins always seem a little trailer trashy, but I will miss it anyway. yes, sometimes, when the night is bright, it could be difficult to see night scenes on the screen, sometimes you could be gassed by someones old clunker or someone deciding to light up (once I even smelled a joint) and I always brought my gun with me, it was always a good time.

So, as I sat in my chair in the cool night air behind the van, listening to the movie in the surround sound created by the cars all tuned in to the same channel and looking at how much fun the kids, ours and others, were having watching a movie in the night air, I felt a little nostalgic for things that do not last.

Here are a couple of sites that list where you can stil experience the drive in:

If anyone knows of a drive-In theater for sale, let me know. I want one of my own.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Starbucks and the Chicago Olympics

Starbucks is rolling out it's new instant coffee, Starbucks Via.

This seems a bit ironic, since Starbucks started as the real coffee alternative to cheap instant coffee. Then again, I don't think Via is necessarily cheap.

To be fair to Via, it is 100% arabica coffee, which is the only palatable coffee on the planet. Other instant coffees are cut by unpalatable coffees because when it is cheap instant coffee, no one really notices. And, they are doing a taste test sort of thing to see if you can tell the difference. Head on in to Starbucks and give it a try.

In other news, the Olympic Committee snubbed the President and First Lady in Copenhagen as they attempted to woo the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. Chicago is also the city where Starbucks nearly fell on their face when they first tried to get into that market. Is there a connection?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wanna do something fun?

Tucson's Last Stand is coming October 10th to the Tucson Electric Park. I guess they need to use that place for something.

Speakers include Judge Andrew Napolitano, James T. Harris and Barry Goldwater Jr.

Local politicians will also be bringing themselves and their booths out for the event.

Their press says, "Hosted by the Tucson Tea Party, this event will offer nationally renowned speakers, local talk radio hosts, and political candidates who will engage the audience on important issues of the day, including unsustainable government spending, the role of government in the private sphere, the constitution, and local political issues.

Attendees will also be able to engage directly with City Council and Congressional candidates who are competing in upcoming elections."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is it really the "Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher"?

I am probably a bit behind the times with this one, but I just finished reading Rob Stennett's book, "The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher".

In the book, Ryan Fisher is a Real Estate Agent who realizes that their is about 80 million Christians in the U.S. and this is a great niche market for him to specialize in. So, he takes out an ad with the ichthys fish, starts attending Church and sees his business boom.

He starts to enjoy the christian community so much, he decides to become a Pastor. So, he and his wife up and move to a fictional Bartlesville Oklahoma to start a new church, first located in the local Chuck E Cheese, since they can't find anywhere else to meet.

The People's Church (no relation to Jim Jones' People's Church), struggles for a few weeks as Pastor Ryan and his wife try to figure out how to get people to come to Church. Their efforts include hiring Cowboy Jack (I think I saw him sing when I was in Showlow) from the local karaoke bar to lead worship. Cowboy Jack knows less about church than Pastor Ryan, but he makes up for this by "christianizing" the lyrics of popular songs.

For various reasons, the church soon begins to thrive and Pastor Ryan becomes famous nationwide, even though he does not believe in God.

This book is an interesting look at the Church. It chronicles some of the ideas that Ryan comes up with to get people to his church and to make it a place where people want to come to and stay at in a cynical and satirical way. Having formerly planted a Church (successful, but not nearly as successful as the People's Church), and having been around many Church Planters and new churches, it was funny and oddly fascinating to see all of the attempts that were made to get people in the door, from a petting zoo to emotional manipulation to his attempts to build teamwork and community.

It was, al in all, a fun and insightful read. If you are kind of angry at the church and "organized religion" anyway, maybe it is not a good idea to read this book. On the other hand, it does offer a bit of redemption, reconciliation and re-examination for those who are cynical, hurt and burnt. So, I guess you can read it. Go ahead, you have my permission...;>).

I now need to get his next volume, "The End is Now", all about the end times coming, but only to a small town in Kansas as a test market. Get it anywhere fine books are sold.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Patience is a virtue

For all those of you that are patiently waiting for us to return to Tucson, either because you can't wait to see us, if you are from Tucson, or if you like reading stuff on here but you are really tired of readind my last three posts over and over, hang on. The wait is almost over.

We are in Sante Fe today, checking out all the local stuff, but we will be back home tomorrow afternoon.

Next week, I will share some stuff about the trip, a story about the time I nearly threw our daughter's neurosurgeon out the window and....well, that is all I have planned so far.

Check back soon.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


When we were in Hawaii this spring, we took the recommendation of an old friend and hit the Grass Skirt Grill on the North Shore in Haleiwa. The Grass Skirt Grill is just a little hole in the wall place, but it had the most delicious shrimp dish that I think I have ever had.

Apparently a recommendation from her is a good thing.

I am in Denver now. Here in Denver is a restaurant I absolutely loved when I was a kid. Casa Bonita is a mexican restaurant known for it's cliff divers, torch jugglers, strolling mariachis, caverns to explore, Black Bart's Secret Hideout, a game room. This place has the works.

Only, it has the worst mexican food on the planet. Seriously, if you have ever eaten food, you will not like what they have there.

A few years ago we were here visiting my parents and I wanted to take the kids to Casa Bonita. All that fun at reasonable prices. what could be better. We recommended the place to my parents, inviting them to join in the fun. We couldn't understand why they opted out, until we ate there.

Apparently, a recommendation from my childhood is not always a good thing.

We are supposed to have dinner with some old friends tomorrow night. I wonder if they will want to go there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just in Case.

In case you don't hear from me for what seems like forever, I will be spending the rest of this week and most of next in Colorado. Heading out there to see my Mom, my two brothers and their families. Also looking forward to hanging a little with a friend from High School and a friend from the old days here in Tucson (referred to by my wife as "old girlfriends", as in, "we are going to see daddy's old girlfriends").

Don't rob my house, since will have my guns elsewhere. Don't even come in the house, since the dog will be loose in it.

If you have my number, you can still call or text or whatever. If not, well then........

Check in here, as I may have one or two good posts during the time I am gone.

Check back regularly after September 27th.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't try this at home, or the office, or......

When I was in the 7th Grade, I took a test for Duke University's Talent Identification Program, or TIP. Here is the point of the test, according to the website:

By taking advanced above level testing(at least two years above a student's current grade placement) through Duke TIP's talent search, gifted students and their families gain a far better understanding of where the student stands in relation to his/her gifted peers and what level of educational challenge is appropriate.

At the time I took the test, it looked at two distinct areas of academic achievement Reading/English skills and Mathematics. My math ability had been below average since about the third grade and I am not sure I was even up to average grade level in math at the time I took the test. I have always been well above average in my reading and English skills and I am usually a good test taker. Because of my language arts abilities, I scored exceptionally high on the language portion which gave me a high score on the test.

Unfortunately, our school only had one advanced class that they put everyone in that scored highly on the test. It was a mathematics class. So, for some God only knows why reason, I found myself in first year Algebra with all the smarty, nerdy kids when the previous year I was barely keeping up in math.

They passed me, and the next year, threw me into Geometry with the same kids. I have no idea why I passed that class when I could barely do a three step proof half way through the school year. By the end of the year, I was clever enough to figure out that I wasn't quite ready for higher math and convinced the Consumer Math teacher to let me slide into his class the following year.

Consumer math was the sort where they put all the "I am dumb and could care less about this math stuff" kids and taught them how to tie their shoes, mathematically speaking. We learned to do things like adding up prices at a fictional grocery store, balancing checkbooks and changing our grades in the teachers grade book when he wasn't looking. I shined like a star in the heavens in that class.

Math was the thorn in my flesh throughout High School. I was in all the English and A.P. English classes and Advanced Speech and Government and all the classes that I thought were fun, but in with the dummies and lower classmen trying to relearn the basics of Algebra as a Senior. I think I could have done alright and learned it much better if I had learned it at a pace that was more suited to my level.

Here is the "Don't try this at home, or the office, or......" part:

Too often, I have seen someone passed on to certain positions or promoted or given jobs based on their performance in areas that have nothing to do with the new position they are given. Granted, when people do well at a certain thing, they are probably the sort of people that will do their best to do well in any area. But, sometimes they just can't.

Just because someone is very good at certain aspects of their job, it does not mean they are ready to be a very good supervisor. Just because someone is very god at one job, it doesn't mean they will shine in a completely different job. Maybe they eventually will be ready, or maybe that are better off focusing on what they are good at and being the best in that area, as opposed to someone who merely squeaks by in an area where they are not good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Greeting Card Emergency

Here is what an old friend of mine has been creating for us all. Learn more at:

What do we call this day?

This will be the day that, for my generation, like the day of the Kennedy assasination for a previous generation, we will always remember where we were when we heard the towers were hit, that people were jumping and that the towers had fallen.

I also remember right where I was when I first saw an airliner flying after the restrictions were lifted.

Where were you?