Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2nd Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song con Erik Estrada

For those that remember the one semester of spanish spanish love song, here is the sequel.

You can find the first one here.

Dinner and a Movie?

I think I will take Diane to see this film.

Aren't I romantic?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Once Again....

Yesterday, we attended the funeral of the son of a young lady that attended the Church where I was a Pastor in Safford. I think she was 12 or 13 when we met her and was one of the charter members of the youth group we got going.

Her son was born early and died last week at the age of nine days. It was one of the saddest things to see the tiny casket being carried by his Dad and being lowered into the ground. It had to be placed on a longer board to be lowered, since it wouldn't fit in the usual lowering apparatus.

It was good to reconnect with and be able to help support the family. Her older sister and her new husband of ten years were there. She was maybe 15 when we met her. The youngest, drove down from Chandler. We also got to talk with her parents, Grandma and Grandpa, who were some of closest friends in Safford.

The funeral service was at the same cemetery where Diane's Grandpa was just buried. It seems that we are going to too many of these things lately.

May you rest in peace, little man.

Friday, July 24, 2009

He Got Weed!

As I am sure you have heard, Harvard Scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. was recently arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Apparently, he was locked out of his house and trying to force his way in. When the neighbors saw this, they called the cops and told them someone was trying to break into his house. Cops arrived, asked him who he was and he was upset that they would do that simply because he was a "black man in America" and continued to accuse the police of being racially biased. Black leaders, including our President have touted this as an example of how profiling and prejudice still exist in America.

Policemen everywhere should keep this in mind. If they are called to a possible break-in and the suspects are black, they should only question white people in the area and not any black people. In fact, if the suspects are reported to be of any race, ethnic background, skin color, etc., they really should only question white people. Preferably Protestant Christians.

In the meantime, Henry Gates should check out this video.

It has a bunch of bad words, so if you are not Henry Gates, do not watch it!!!!

Really, I almost didn't post it. Bad, bad words!!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


One of the guys I work with was involved in a lawsuit recently regarding a shooting he was involved in. Apparently, if you happen to get shot by the cops, the thing for you (or your family, if you don't survive) to do is to sue. Many people don't seem to understand that there are consequences to your actions. It is simply easier to blame someone else than to admit they, or their dearly departed, did something really stupid.

If, for instance, you place your body under a moving steamroller, you are going to get crushed. If you try to hurt someone when a cop is around, you are going to get hurt. Or if you try to kill the cop. It is simply the consequences of what you have done.

It really does make a good picture for our lives. When something goes wrong because of something stupid we have done, do we automatically look for someone else to blame. Or do we accept it, try to do better and move on?

Fortunately for my colleague, the jury realized this too. After deliberating for all of 20 minutes, they decided the police were not responsible, but merely doing their jobs and the shootee should not have been doing what he was doing. Maybe we do still have a sense that there are consequences for the things we do.


Schools are very important and universities are vital in increasing the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities of our country.

Businesses make our economy work, and without them, we would be without jobs and stuff.

Government makes sure we don't go around killing each other and that we can drive and it enables other functions to run smoothly and fairly.

There are many non-profit organizations in our country that do great work for people, both here and around the world. Without them, the world would be even worse.

But, I still believe that the Church is the greatest and most important organization in the world.

More to follow....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Not the Isolation Ward

We now have our house back to ourselves. We enjoy having guests come to stay with us and this time we had a long run of it.

Diane's nephew came and stayed at our house for about a week and a half. Then, he was about to head back home when Diane's grandfather passed. So, we still took him and Emily to the rendezvous point to go to San Diego, but his brother than stayed with us for a few nights. T.J. and his wife and the baby flew out from Hawaii and stayed in our guest house, while Diane's sister and her family came and stayed in the rest of the house.

The sisters family had to leave after just a short stay, while T.J. et al stayed until we took them to Phoenix on Friday so they could catch their flight back to Hawaii.

So, yesterday, we were able to relax in the quiet, grab some coffee with some friends and watch a movie by ourselves.

But, we still enjoy having guests coming to stay with us. If you have some friends or family or yourselves that are coming into town, we would be happy to put them up in our guest house if it is available. While no-one would say that I have the spiritual gift of hospitality, we do still make our guests feel welcome.

Amenities Include:
Air Conditioning
Private Bathroom with Shower
Diane Usually makes something for breakfast, especially when we have guests.
Centrally located
Kitchen privileges
We are excellent conversationalists and typically have some wildly entertaining stories to share.

Amenities that we hope to get soon:
A small kitchenette in the guesthouse. Then you cold avoid us altogether, if you wanted.
A small refrigerator in the guesthouse. This will probably come before the above item, and will serve the same purpose.
A small pool behind the guesthouse. We have a great spot for it. Please consider making a very large donation to help us get this one. I hear they are quite expensive.

Hope to see you soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


We did a swiftwater rescue orientation class yesterday. I suppose it is a good thing to have, because we get called on to respond to some of these types of calls, even though our squad is not a Search and Rescue Squad. We didn't actually get into swiftwater, but we did get into the pool and used the equipment and such.

Here are a few tidbits:

- Don't drive into a flooded wash or roadway. We get those regularly here in Pima County and now they charge you with a crime if you drive around barricades and you could get stuck and/or drown if you drive onto a flooded area.

- If you do get stuck, stay with your car. One of the last people to get swept away was walking in swiftwater that was about to his knees when something took his feet from under him. Your car will usually stay where it is, which is not what will happen to you.

- If you get swept away, go feet first, keep them up so they don't get snagged and keep your knees bent. It is easier said than done.

- Don't get caught in a snag...tree limbs, fences, etc. what they call a strainer. It will probably drown you.

- The water usually recedes around here after an hour or so, so wait it out if you can. Even if you are stuck.

- The equipment the rescue guys have is really not all that extensive. You are much better off not getting stuck.

Those are just a few, but they are worth remembering during the monsoon season.

The Legacy Link

Here is a link to some of the comments people made about Diane's Grandpa, who passed away last Tuesday at 101 years of age:

Legacy Link

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I own you.

The U.S. Government, which I think means, We the People, now own a controlling interest in the General Motors Car Company. I think this is great, because now the government can dictate what kind of cars they make.

It would probably be even better if we owned all the car companies that were allowed to sell cars in the United States. Then we could make cars and everyone that wanted a car would have to buy cars like the Soviet made Lade 2107, seen here. It was relatively cheap, easy on the gas mileage, relatively reliable and designed for easy repairs. And, it even came in red.

Fritz Henderson, the carmaker’s chief executive, recently let us in on the new idea that customers, cars and culture would be the company’s three priorities. I think he said, "As long as you customers buy these cars we will finally have a decent culture.".

I think now is the best time to get a Camry. Manufactured in Texas, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi by hardworking Americans who only expect to make money if they make and sell things that people are willing to buy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


On average, a surgeon will perform as many operations a summer as a typical third baseman will throw to first base. But, when a third basemen makes a rare mistake, he is booed y the crowd and does it better next time. When a surgeon makes a rare mistake, people are permanently damaged and he is sued for exhorbitant sums.

This is the paraphrase of an observation made in the book I recently took in,"Better" by Atul Gawande. In the book, he also asks, "What does it take to be good at something when failure is so easy?"

Gawande is a cancer surgeon who researched how medicine can and is improving, how medicine is improving to become...better and the impact of these innovations, improvements and lack thereof on all our lives.

Among other interesting and provocative topics, Gawande discusses how handwashing improvements (believe it or not, even recent ones) have greatly reduced infections, how medical practices, not advances, have saved lives in Iraq, dicusses the issue of malpractice and the irrational tort system in the U.S. and other innovative practices, both recent and possibly future, have and will save lives.

This book, althought written primarily about the medical system, is very readable, accessible and has valuable lessons for anyone looking to improve their performance, professional systems or personal ability to innovate. A great read for anyone who is at all interested in getting, well, "Better".

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Tonight,or actually tomorrow morning, is the one year anniversary of my Father's passing.

Since he had recently discovered that his mother was Jewish and was exploring his Jewish heritage, I am planning on lighting a Yahrzeit candle this evening in his memory. The lighting of the Yarzeit candle is customarily done at sundown on the eve of the deceased person's passing. I think my Dad would have liked to be remembered with this custom.

On the right side of this blog, you can still find links about my Father and his death last year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Marion Russell, Diane's Grandpa

My wife's Grandpa passed away on Tuesday at the age of 101. He had just joined us for hot dogs, etc. on the fourth and Diane and the kids got to hang out with him at his house some on Tuesday, before he was hospitalized and passed away.

Even though he was 101, we were all shocked to lose him so suddenly.

Here are some recent news articles about him. The first two are from this week, the second two are a bit older.

The local ABC news affiliate

KVOA news in Tucson

An article in the local paper from about two years ago

Article from the Customs and Border Protection Website from about two years ago

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ethical Decisions

At our Advanced Academy, the four week portion of our initial training that was specific to our department, since our initial academy was multi-agency, we had name cards that sat on our desks. The card had our name facing the instructor and on the back, facing the students, it had a statement that had the heading "Ethical Decisions", followed by some statements.

The first statement was "Am I acting out of anger, lust, greed or peer pressure?"

This placard was staring at us as we were taught the nuances of the TASER and were told that no-one had to be tasered in order to be Taser certified. No, we could choose not to take the ride on the rails of electricity and, for the rest of our career we would be remembered as the one person that didn't go through what everyone else went through. We could be "that guy".

So, I guess the answer to the question, "Am I acting out of ...peer pressure?", in this case would be, "Why yes I am.".

And just for fun, watch this again. The best part of this video is that John Kerry is still talking in the background while all this is going on.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

That'll Wake You Up in the Morning

I have always enjoyed getting to know a bit about other cultures. Learning bits and pieces of their language, finding out about their customs and sampling some of their food.

Since we live in a place and are in a period of our lives where we seem to be landlocked, a good way to sample other cultures is to hit the restaurants.

Last night, we went with some friends to the Shishkebab House here in town. It was actually quite good. We took in some Fatoush and Oozie...which were both tasty and the portions were enough to feed both Diane and I with some left for our friends. The experience also included the belly dancer thrusting herself at us as we tried to order our dinner.

After dinner, I ordered some coffee and was sipping away at it and enjoying the conversation, while our friends, who arrived after we did, ate their dinner. The owner came by, to make sure all was well at our table. When he noticed that I was drinking coffee, he asked if I was drinking regular coffee or arabic coffee. I told him that I was just drinking whatever they brought me when I ordered coffee. He let me know that he would bring by some arabic coffee, on him.

He had a mug brought out; inside was a concotion that was a coarse conglomeration of equal parts coffee grounds, cardamom and caffiene. Wow was it strong...and bitter.....and made me feel like "yikes".

As a result of this, I won all the card and dice games we played later on...amazing how caffiene intensifies your ability to focus, roll dice and get all the good cards.

I also felt like I had been in a shootout when I woke up this morning. So, for those adrenalin junkies out there, if you can't find any thrills to binge on and want to feel a similar crash the following day, head over to the Shishkebab House for some arabic coffee. Tell them I sent you...or better yet, tell them Sayid or Farnesh or Ali sent you. Maybe then you will get your whole meal for free.

Friday, July 3, 2009


A favorite pastime of some of the guys at work is to stop bicyclists that have no lights on them. According to state law, a rider must have a light when they are riding after sunset. Many of them that do not have lights are also the guys that don't have driver's licenses and might also have a wad of crystal methamphetamines in a plastic bag in their sock.

Some of these guys might have gotten their bikes from BICAS.

BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Action & Salvage) is a non-profit that helps people with their need for bikes. As you walk into the dungeony sort of underground warehouse they are housed in, your vision is assailed with the sight of numerous people working on broken bikes, homeless guys wandering around with a myriad of bike parts and rows of forlorn looking bikes in bicycle "purgatory" awaiting a new home.

Ethan and I took some of our old bikes and parts that were cluttering up our yard and braved the landscape at BICAS. It is always a great feeling to get rid of some stuff you no longer use that is cluttering up your yard, hang out with the kid and help some poor homeless guy at the same time. They were especially impressed with the scooter, complete with pegs for freestyle tricks. And here I wondered if they would even take it.

So, if you need a refurbished bike, or have some old ones crowding your life...think about BICAS. Oh, but don't go on Sunday afternoon unless you are a woman or transgender. It is Women and Transgender Only Day. And from the sound of that, I wouldn't take the kids on Sundays either.

Funny Guy....maybe the funniest ever

Thursday, July 2, 2009

You've probably been there.

In my current profession, it seems the standard for teaching, presenting and addressing is to create a PowerPoint presentation with everything you could possibly want to say, then reading it to everyone as everyone reads along with you.

If you are really good, you put a cool picture or video in every now and then and then jump back to reading the slide show aloud to the troops. Presumably because people can not retain this information if they read it themselves, or because people do not understand anything unless you drone it out to them or I guess just because that is the way everyone does everything.

I think it is not so different than the training you might have received in group settings or the presentations to which you may have been exposed. I've even sat through a sermon that was completely read off of PowerPoint slides. I could have read it faster myself and gotten to the potluck much quicker.

In the professions I have been involved in, I have been exposed to some very good speakers. In fact, some of them are known to be among the best in the world. I have also been exposed to some very bad speakers. Guess which ones were more likely to use the PowerPoint method of presenting?

Realizing this, I was intrigued when I found the book "Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint" by Christopher Witt with Dale Fetherling. Far from being a blast against PowerPoint, it reveals many of the techniques and methods that good speakers use to make powerful, memorable and meaningful presentations.

One reviewer put it like this, "“Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint” is intended to get leaders to return to making their thoughts, convictions, vision and character manifest themselves in what they say, and stop trusting PowerPoint to make their points."

While it is written specifically for leaders of all stripes, anyone that engages in teaching, presenting or public speaking will find some help, or at least some reminders, as they build and deliver better presentations.