Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Movie About the Holocaust?

In the forward to the book, "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans", by Nehema Tec, Filmaker Edward Zwick said "Not another holocaust movie!". "What was to be accomplished," he wondered, "In telling yet another story of familiar and unspeakable horror...".

Perhaps you are inclined to feel this way to when you see the previews or hear about the movie Defiance.

But, the story told in Defiance is anything but a tired retelling of how hard is was to face those times. It is a compelling and moving story about some Jewish brothers that save around 1200 people from the certain death in the forests of Belarus, during which time they are constantly hunted by the Nazis, hounded by the local police, in a tenuous alliance of sorts with the Russian Partisans and trying to carve life and humanity in spite of enemies like the freezing cold and the ugly face of human depravity.

Diane has often lamented that some of the historically based movies that have come out in later years have been about fictional people. She has wondered why the movies, swimming around well known historical events, couldn't feature real people's real stories. Why couldn't Titanic, for instance, center around the struggles of some real participants in that page of history? Or why couldn't Pearl Harbor have picked any of a thousand love stories of real life soldiers, airmen or seamen?

Defiance, to me, is even more moving because it is the true story of the
Bielski brothers, and other brave Jewish partisans facing one of the worst chapters in human history. At 2 hours and 20 minutes it might be a bit long for some, but I found it engaging throughout and was glad I saw it.

I am going to try to find a copy of the book next. It is supposed to be even better.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good times!

The Church I was the Planting Pastor from 1999-2004 has a new website. Since I like this one much better than the last one they did, I thought I would share it with you, so check it out here. It is still under construction.

They are also moving into their new facilities.

It is interesting to look at the site and see how much of the stuff they do is the same....and how they have made changes there.

We are still praying and rooting for you Southport!

Oh, the controversy

Here are a couple of guys from our Unit in the local news and here is the overly long article in which they are highlighted.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Publicity for the Little Guys

Earlier this week, our former Governess and the current Secretary of Homeland Security talked about the violence along the border (the southern border) that could be spilling over the border.

According to this article, she said “This issue requires immediate action. We are guided by two very clear objectives. First, we are going to do everything we can to prevent the violence in Mexico from spilling over across the border. And second, we will do all in our power to help President Calderón crack down on these drug cartels in Mexico.”

As a result of this, our little unit is garnering more media attention. The other day, reporters from the Arizona Daily Star and Globo Internacional, a Brazilian Television Station, came and rode with us. I played host to Rodrigo the Reporter and Sergio the Cameraman that didn't speak English. It was fun, but we didn't get into any shootouts or chases, which is what those guys were hoping for. They said they got the footage they needed, between some people being smuggled in a car, the piles of burlap (used to backpack bundles of marijuana and left to rot with clothes, water bottles and other miscellany marring the wilderness) and our guns and equipment.

Let me know if any of you happen to see me. If so, I am curious if they dubbed my voice into Portugese.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I found the constitution for the religious organization that I was a part of many moons ago:
The Best Ever Religious Association To Ever Develop.

Actually, my friend Howard and I were both Pastors of two separate but equally small Churches at the time and he put this group together as a way to poke fun at the organizational/institutional mentality that some people in our respective Churches had developed. here are some salient points:

Article III - Purpose and Mission

The purpose and mission of this association shall be to gather information, generate ideas, and exchange great thoughts concerning why the organizations of the individual members of this associations are not fulfilling their purpose and mission.

Article IV

d. we believe in the Holy Spirit who convicts, comforts and empowers - although, as evidenced by our respective organizations, He tend mostly to comfort and rarely convicts or empowers.

Article VI - Government

This association, as the name suggests, is "berated" - usually by organizational government. there fore, there shall be no government for this association.

Article VIII - Association Property

This association shall claim for it's own any place at which the association might meet for any purpose, because wherever you go, there we are. Otherwise, we shall not own, purchase, or sell, any property of any kind without the prior written consent of the current Pope, to whom we are willing to submit for a decision on these matters.

And those are just some of my favorite parts.

To think, some people wonder what Pastors do the rest of the week, since they only work on Sundays.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fitting In

I have talked with a number of you who are looking for a Church home or are considering visiting a Church. Here are some tips on how to fit in at Church. Good Luck!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Culpable Mental State

One of my coworkers was arrested a few years back. No, it wasn't some scandal involving him embezzling from the county coffers, or an incident of him stomping on an already-in-custody arrestee. He was cited and released for a loose dog.

Here's what happened. He went out in the backyard and noticed his dog had gotten out. He immediately began to scour the neighborhood for the absconding canine. About the same time he caught up with his dog, the animal control guy slipped up and wrote him a citation for having a dog not on a leash. This is actually considered a criminal offense in our county. With only a fine of Twenty-five dollars, he had a criminal record.

The reason he could be charged with this, even though he had no intention of letting the dog out, is because of the culpable mental state that is required to violate this law. Culpable mental state (cms) is the state of mind you are in with regards to the offense you are committing.

The cms for the leash law must be the one defined as negligent. This cms simply reflects that we were not as careful as we should have been in order to prevent the offense from occurring.

Another cms in Arizona law is reckless. This is when you should have known that your actions could or would lead to the offense or injury. For instance, you are playing with a samurai sword at the mall, just for fun, and you accidentally slice off the head of some emo kid that was listening to strange music on his ipod. You should have known that this could happen so, under a law that looks for reckless as the cms, you are guilty.

A final cms is knowingly. In other words, you deliberately committed the offense and knew what the result would be. An example would be if you deliberately snuck into Billy's house and took his Call of Duty game and sold it at Bookman's for $3.00 in trade credit. You did it knowingly.

Some crimes don't require a cms at all in our fine state. If you are littering, it doesn't matter if you did it knowingly, recklessly, negligently, accidentally or any-ingly. You are guilty if you did it at all.

Sometimes I wonder what our Culpable Mental State is in our approach to life. Do we take a deliberate run at it, knowingly defining our purpose and choosing what we do based on that? Do we not put the care into it that we should and negligently let it slip away from us? Do we recklessly do stuff that we should know will make a mess for us, but do that stuff anyway? Or, do we not give it any thought at all and wonder why it ends up the way it does?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

For those still upset

Not to harp on the subject. I think it is silly that it is the only issue we all focus on. But, since so may people seem to be, here is a CNN news report confronting Chris Dodd about allowing the big bonuses at AIG and a Fox News report pointing to Chris Dodd as the architect of the bonus loopholes.

And here is a portion of a letter from Rob Jesmer, since I didn't want to take the time to explain it myself:

"Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, placed an amendment in the "stimulus" bill that allowed for banks bailed out with taxpayer money - including A.I.G. - to hand out huge bonuses without any government oversight or regulation, as long as those bonuses were issued before February 11.

A.I.G. did just that, paying out $165 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses, including more than $1 million each to 73 people, as well as $33.6 million for 52 people who had already LEFT the company. This came AFTER the company received almost $200 billion in taxpayer funds to stay afloat.

It is no wonder that Senator Dodd received more campaign contributions from A.I.G. than any other politician during the 2008 cycle, including President Obama. As FOX News put it yesterday, "A.I.G. must be feeling very grateful to Chris Dodd this morning."

As we watch these Washington politicians simmering with their new-found populist outrage, it is worth noting that some of them are responsible for the very acts they are now so loudly condemning.

Rob Jesmer"

I will stop blogging about this now. The next post will be more refreshing for us all.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outraged at AIG?

I have heard people at work complain about the news that AIG handed out 165 million in bonuses to the companies top executives.

That makes me wonder what people expect. If you take a business that is supposed to be failing and reward for it by paying them $12.9 billion, do you really think they are going to automatically begin to make sound business decisions? I think they are getting bonuses for the huge profit they got for doing nothing but sucker the government. I think that ought to be worth something to all the guys that helped make that happen.

Here is a nice little article from aol:

Fire AIG CEO, recoup bonuses, end banks' bailout - they will survive!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Richard Peck Says....

I went with Emily today to hear one of our favorite Author's, Richard Peck, talk today. We also got him to sign copies of two of his books, which are two of our favorite books.

He was a very passionate and articulate speaker, talking about the need to read.

Here are some tidbits of what he had to say:

"The only Front Porch left is a book" he said, talking about how he used to sit on a front porch and listen to the stories of adults.

"If I only wrote what I knew, I would have written an unpublished Haiku", talking about how a good author doesn't write from their own experiences, but the experiences of others.

"You learn the most from the experiences you would have avoided if you had the choice."

"Tho puberty is the death of childhood, it is not the birth of reason"

"When I began teaching, parents feared a phone call from the school, now the school fears a phone call from the parents."

"A book must be about the reader, not the writer."

"Nobody but a reader ever became a writer."

Good stuff from a great storyteller. Check out his books. They are well worth the read.

One Man's Trash....

Call me crazy, but I think this stuff looks kind of gross. It is a seaweed wrapped spam and fried rice food item.

Sort of like a spam sushi.

Apparently this sort of thing is popular in Hawaii.

No, I didn't even try it, so who am I to talk. I just took a picture of it at the grocery store in Mililani. It must have been kind of odd to see a man snapping photos of food items. Had it been an area frequented by the tourists, maybe it would have been perfectly normal. But, it wasn't.

Ah well, I am sure others don't like some of the things I do. And a $1.99 is not a bad price for lunch.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

He really is no angel.

I got to go see Jay Dobyns talk today. He is an ATF agent that went on a 22 month undercover assignment to infiltrate and help prosecute the Hell's Angels. I have previously read a book about him, but he now has his own book about his experiences.

He warned at his talk that the book is gritty and rough, much like the experiences and people he dealt with. In fact, he warned the audience, saying that "...many of you people look mild mannered and nice. Please don't read the book." I got the impression that he wasn't trying to hype it, he really didn't think nice people should be reading the book.

Of course, he seemed like a genuine nice guy. He told us that his biggest regret was the toll that his job took on his family and encouraged everyone to remember that, even though our work is important and we should be excellent at it, that it is not worth sacrificing your family for.

Other highlights included showing the shirt he was wearing in Dogpatch (an area where we work from time to time) when he was shot through the chest and explaining how he is dealing with the threats (and the recent arson of his home) since he was discovered to be an ATF agent by the Hell's Angels.

Be sure to check out this video page that has highlights from some of the programs that have featured his work.

Here is a recent article the Tucson Weekly did about him.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Top Dressed

I happen to like Ice Cream. I got some last night and had a bowlful, then I wanted to have some for breakfast. Diane thought that since we had just gone for a run, that it wouldn't be the best breakfast. I thought that since we had gone for a run, I deserved some ice cream. Besides, I am on Hawaii.

I had some multigrain cheerios instead.

When I was younger, we used to get ice cream that had a little window at the top that showed what was inside the carton. If it was chocolate chip, it had oodles of chocolate chips right there in the window. If it was butter pecan, you could see all these little butter pecan things, so many they almost wanted to climb right on out. If it was cherry, cherries, if it was strawberry, oodles of strawberries.

Once you opened the carton, it was a different story. Sure, you still had chocolate chips, but they were nowhere near the concentration that the window on top led you to believe. You see, if you read the small print, it said "Top Dressed". Top Dressed meant that all the good stuff was put up front where you can see it.

It can kind of irritate you, but we do the same sort of thing. When we enter relationships, sell stuff, talk about future plans or whatever, we put all the best stuff in the viewing window and forget to point out that we are "top dressed". Sure, some of this good stuff really is here, but mostly it is just plain old vanilla ice cream.

Maybe it would be better if we let people know our shortcomings up front, rather than just showing the dressed up window.

Besides, I like ice cream. Even the plain old vanilla.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What can I say.

We are in Hawaii.

I'll get you some pictures and all that soon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

On the Way Back

We are off on our trip to San Diego and Hawaii, so I won't be blogging too regularly for a week or so, but I wanted to let you know where we are headed when we return to town.

Emily, Abigail and Ethan, my aspiring authors and artists, want to go to the Tucson Festival of Books. Ethan mainly because he found a coupon to get a free book. Some 200 authors will be invading the U of A campus, along with 25,00 or so of us simpler folk. Emily also has one of her stories entered in the writing contest.

Here are some of the visiting authors that I am especially interested in meeting:

Nina Burleigh - the author of four critically acclaimed nonfiction books. Her latest, Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land (Collins 2008), tells the story of the unraveling of a Bible relic forgery scheme in Israel, and the intriguing world of biblical archaeology and relic collectors.

Jay Dobyns - “Jaybird” Dobyns, is the author of No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels.

Gail Carson Levine Author of, among others, Ella Enchanted.

Richard Peck - an American novelist known for his prolific contributions to modern young adult literature. He is the author of a couple of my favorite books.

Miles Swarthout Miles Swarthout is a Hollywood screenwriter, journalist, and novelist and has adapted a number of his father's novels for the screen, including The Shootist (John Wayne's final film).

Stephanie Elizondo Griest - has mingled with the Russian Mafia, polished Chinese propaganda, and belly danced with Cuban rumba queens. She just seems kind of cool.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't try this at home.

Anybody remember the Tommy Tutone song from the early 80's "8675309"? According to this article by, this number has caused problems for numerous people who have actually been assigned the number, 867-5309.

A couple of years ago, I tried this number right here in Tucson. Apparently, the girl who had this number had received similar calls before. The message on the phone was a tirade about how she was not Jenny and idiots, like me, ought to stop calling and looking for her. I guess I am not all that original.

Anyways, I remembered this song because someone on Steven Furtick's creative team's blog was talking about the 555 number you always see in movies. Not only that, but my friend Jennifer let me know some good spots on Oahu to check out. She was the only Jenny I knew when this song was popular. I doubt she likes it very much and probably didn't appreciate guys like me singing to her either.

Her number was 345.....and I better not tell the rest.

Thanks for the tips Jennifer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This place was a little different

I grew up mostly in a small town. Small towns are a little different than your standard city. For one thing, the unusual people seem to stand out a bit more. I don't know if there is a higher percentage of unusual people, or if they just stand out more.

Here are some things about the town I grew up in:

The Mayor was Blank
The Doctor was Batty
The Sheriff was Short
The Police Chief was a Crook

My Dad was a cop there and their was always something strange going on. Like the lady who was tied up and lit on fire. That was ruled a suicide.
Another suicide. The guy who shot himself and left the rifle about one hundred feet from himself.
Or the woman who got up on the walking bridge over the railroad tracks, which is sadly gone now, and shot at her husband that was coming out of the doughnut shop with a hunting rifle.

I know these things go on in the City too. You just seem to notice them more in a small town.

McCook, Nebraska, if you must know. Here are some links to check out:

It really is a real place.

Oh, and Don Blank was the Mayor for a time. Doctor Batty used to do our School Athletic physicals. Sheriff Short was beat out in an election bid by Sheriff Mahon and Chief Crook was replaced by Chief Brunswick.

Monday, March 2, 2009

And now you know the rest of the story.

Did anyone else see that Paul Harvey died this week. I used to listen to him every day and looked forward to his " of the story" segment. I even had, or at least read, his book, "The Rest of the Story".

He also regularly paid tribute to people who had long time anniversaries.....some 50, 60, 70 years or more of marriage.

He died on Saturday, at the age of 90. He was a great story teller.

Here is the Paul Harvey website, which has several tributes to his life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Getting Ready to roll.

Since I am getting ready for a trip to Hawaii later this week, I changed the background on my blog. It is now the cutest blog on the block.

We are going to go spend a few days with T.J. and his family. Anyone know of some not to be missed spots out there? We would like to go hiking in Hawaii too, on the island where Honolulu is(Emily says it is Oahu. Unfortunately, she and her siblings do not get to go, but they do get to spend the week with Diane's sister in San Diego). So, if anyone has a clue, get in touch with us, or leave a comment, by Wednesday.

Oh, and thanks to Eileen, my one follower, for pointing out the cutest blog on the block. Now, if only it didn't say, cutest blog on the block.