Monday, August 31, 2009

Probably worth the read.


During the decade plus I spent as a Church Leader*, I spent much of my reading energy devoted to reading about leadership and Church issues. While some of the best leaders in the world are Church Leaders (it takes some serious leadership skill to drive all volunteer organizations wholly based on one of life's taboo topics, religion), certainly not all the leaders and books worth reading are involved with the Church. Now that I am out of the game, as it were, for a time, I have tried to broaden my reading to take in some some other fields.

One of the latest I have finished is Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike". In this autobiographical work, Lance traces his career, from his start as a biking prodigy as a teen to his phenomenal rise to the top of his game. This provides a stark and jolting contrast to his diagnosis with cancer and his battle to beat it.

When I first picked up this older read (it was written in 2000, when I didn't have too much time for books of this nature), I thought it would be a Lance liked to race, Lance got cancer, Lance is really tough and beat cancer sort of work. It did have some elements of that, but the book tried hard to underscore the frustration and difficulty a very human man found in realizing how vulnerable and mortal he really was and his efforts to fight through the disease and ultimately to return to racing in spite of numerous set backs both physically and in his chosen field.

Ultimately, it was an inspiring and rewarding read.

I think I will buy a bike.




* aka clergy, clericals, ministry, priesthood, presbytery, the cloth, the desk., clergyman, divine, ecclesiastic, churchman, priest, presbyter, hierophant, pastor, shepherd, minister; father, father in Christ; padre, abbe, cure; patriarch; reverend; black coat; confessor., dignitaries of the church; ecclesiarch, hierarch; ebdomarius; eminence, reverence, elder, primate, metropolitan, archbishop, bishop, prelate, diocesan, suffragan, dean, subdean, archdeacon, prebendary, canon, rural dean, rector, parson, vicar, perpetual curate, residentiary, beneficiary, incumbent, chaplain, curate; deacon, deaconess; preacher, reader, lecturer; capitular; missionary, propagandist, Jesuit, revivalist, field preacher., churchwarden, sidesman; clerk, precentor, choir; almoner, suisse, verger, beadle, sexton, sacristan; acolyth, acolothyst, acolyte; chorister., [Roman Catholic priesthood] Pope, Papa, pontiff, high priest, cardinal; ancient flamen, flamen; confessor, penitentiary; spiritual director., cenobite, conventual, abbot, prior, monk, friar, lay brother, beadsman, mendicant, pilgrim, palmer; canon regular, canon secular; Franciscan, Friars minor, Minorites; Observant, Capuchin, Dominican, Carmelite; Augustinian; Gilbertine; Austin Friars, Black Friars, White Friars, Gray Friars, Crossed Friars, Crutched Friars; Bonhomme, Carthusian, Benedictine, Cistercian, Trappist, Cluniac, Premonstatensian, Maturine; Templar, Hospitaler; Bernardine, Lorettine, pillarist, stylite., religieuse,, postulant., [Under the Jewish dispensation] prophet, priest, high priest, Levite; Rabbi, Rabbin; scribe., [Mohammedan] mullah, muezzin; ulema, imaum, sheik; sufi; kahin, kassis; mufti, hadji, dervish; fakir, faquir; brahmin, guru, kaziaskier, poonghie, sanyasi; druid, bonze, santon, abdal, Lama, talapoin, caloyer.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm no anarchist

Being an employee on a local government and something of a realist, I realize government has important functions. However, it can be frustrating to see government, local, state and federal, continue to spend more and more of our money on things that often seem silly.

So, here is a little comic relief from one of my favorite comedians:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Town Hall Tirades Tapping Out???



Last week, the town hall meetings showcasing angry citizens was all the rage all over the news. People are understandably passionate about the proposed and possibly impending takeover of another 20% of the economy by the federal government(one of my favorite arguments for it is saying that it will foster competition just like the post office has spurred on UPS and FED-Ex. Essentially that argument says when people see how inefficient this stuff is and how much money it costs us, someone in the private sector will eventually make a company that is way better).

Democratic leaders are convinced that those showing up at these meetings represent a small percentage of us who are crazy or organized by thugs or something like that.

From a Fox News article:

"Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin, who said organized protesters were prepared to take over the town halls and "shout and shove" their way to the podium, called the public meetings a waste of his time.

"The people who are showing up at these town meetings are not looking for dialogue. They're looking for diatribe," Durbin said. "I don't think that's a productive use of my time.""

It seems passionate disagreement is not what they wanted at these meetings, so they are now slowing them way down. It seemed like a bad idea anyway: Lets open up a public forum so everyone can see how much everyone disagrees with us.

Whatever your opinion, perhaps the apostle Paul was on to something when he said, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

A group of people showing up at these meetings simply to pray for the meeting, our leaders and for the nation. I think that would be terribly disconcerting to some of those on the left.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It could have it's uses.

For those of you that have heard that the appendix is a vestigal organ, an organ left over from our evolutionary past that used to have some function but no longer does, new research suggests otherwise.

Researchers, as recorded in this article by Livescience.com, have found that it does hold useful purposes relating to our health, ability to fight disease and store healthy bacteria.

Perhaps our bodies were designed, rather than randomly assembled over time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Pirates of the Pursuit Pad

As I mentioned, I was away for two weeks in Northern Arizona completing a Tactical Driving Instructor School. I am now certified by the state to teach that topic to Peace officers.

It was actually a bit more difficult than I had pictured in my head. How hard could it be to do a bunch of fast driving and squealing of tires. But, they actually made us work hard during the entire two weeks.

The most challenging part of the course was the fact that we had to continually qualify on different driving skills and knowledge assessments. The first week, we had to qualify at the "student" level on everything from multiple backing courses to reverse 180 "j-turns" to the pursuit track to doing evasive and breaking exercises. Most everything had time requirements and many required us to perform several consecutive exercises. This was fine, until you did three in a row of something, then blew it on your third time. Back to square one, with only a limited number of attempts to qualify. Since I haven't driven a standard patrol car for nearly two years and hadn't been exposed to some of the concepts they were teaching since the academy, it was interesting getting back behind the wheel.


The following week, we did the same exercises, having to qualify at "instructor" level. This meant that we had decrease our times, shorten our reaction times and be able to explain the concepts and reasons for the techniques we were taught and expected to teach. They threw plenty of stress on by letting us know that we wouldn't pass the course if we didn't meet all the times and do all the activities as prescribed. But, it turns out that by the second week, all the driving skills were much easier and the concerns I had were in vain.

I suppose the best part was getting to know some of the other guys taking the class. We had a retired Green Beret that is a cop up north, some tribal police, a sex crimes detective, a former gun store owner that is a cop in the Phoenix area, some former marines, a man nicknamed "gator" because of a previous run in with a gator that took two of his fingers, some state patrol guys, a few heavy drinkers, a guy just back from a year long tour in Iraq and other random characters. It was kind of like being on a pirate ship.

In all, it was a good class. Let me know if anyone wants to learn how to do a J-turn. You provide the car.
video

Sunday, August 9, 2009

On Hiatus

I hate to deprive all you good people, but I will be spending the next two weeks in Northern Arizona taking a Driver Instructor Class to be certified as a Driving Instructor for Law Enforcement people in the state of Arizona.

As I recall, the driving week was about the only fun one at the academy, so I think this class will be a good time.

Unfortunately, I will be away from the computer most of the next two weeks, so I won't be able to share my insights on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Sorry.

I will be back at it after the 22nd of August, Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I guess I will have to turn myself in.


From the White House Web Page Briefing Room Blog,

"If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov."

I guess this way they can keep track of who is naughty and who is nice.

Since I recently posted a blog that was somewhat critical of the healthcare plans, I suppose I should turn myself in. Or maybe I should get my kids to do it. Since we are going to start turning people in for criticizing the government, lets just do it up right.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The All Nighter





































I was working the midnight shift this week, so while I was sitting around watching for bad guys, I told my co-worker Jeremy this story:

We used to own a vanity that looked nothing like the nice one pictured here. It was turquoise in color and had been drawn on by Emily with a permanent marker one time when she was bored. A picture of funny looking girls in black dresses, drawn the way a three year old draws, only somewhat better in perspective, as she has always been very artistic and observant(This last part was added by Emily after she read this).

One day, we arranged a yard sale with the Mendozas who lived across the street. We decided that we would sell the vanity. It was cheap, a really bad color (turquoise, did I mention that) and we wanted to make some space. So, Diane slapped a $25 tag on it and away it went.

At the sale, someone approached her, wanting to buy it for $10 dollars. The lady was kind of not so nicey, and told her she would have to refinish it, the mirror was cracked and she wold only pay $15 when Diane said no to $10. At this point, I was also talking with someone else about it, unbeknownst to Diane. So, the meany lady said, "Fine!", and doled out the $25, carting away the turquoise vanity.

Something we enjoy as a family is going to those antique mall sort of things. The kids can always find gadgetry, toys and junk, Diane can check out the cool old furnishings and items for home decor and I can look at the books or militaria or what have you. And, we could do our own version of Antiques Road Show and see what the prices were of items similar to ones we already own. We found an enormous antique mall in Sacramento that had rows and rows of stuff. It was good for a couple of hours at least. One day, a couple of months after the sale, we were dispersed throughout the mall when T.J. runs over and tells us about his latest discovery.

He was excited to have found a vanity just like the one we had recently sold at the yard sale, only it was white. The kicker was they were selling it for $225. So, we went over to look at it. It was an almost exact replica of the vanity we had sold except that it was, as I mentioned, white. The white was kind of poorly done, with a greenish blue sort of sheen underneath. It looked like it needed refinished, but was instead merely painted white over a stronger under color.

Upon closer inspection, we discovered that this vanity didn't have a mirror, but it did have a picture of funny looking girls in black dresses, drawn the way a three year old draws, only somewhat better in perspective.

Diane was furious when she discovered this, wanting to scratch a message into the surface, letting everyone know it wasn't worth $225. I suggested we just write a note explaining the situation and sticking it in the drawer. I think the final outcome was that we left a little less trusting, a little wiser and with what I think is a darn good story that still makes Diane mad from time to time...like when I mentioned it to her tonight.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In-N-Out? Why?


I usually don't do reviews of any sort of books I haven't read, so I won't make an exception in this case. Diane is finishing up this book and has given me some tidbits from it, so I will merely share that she read the book and maybe a couple of those tidbits.

The book is, as billed, a behind the counter look at In-N-Out. It primarily looks at the companies business model and how it has done it's thing for the past 60 years, to include the families triumphs and struggles. She says it was very interesting. There, that is all I have on the book.


Now, I have heard many people wonder what is so good about In-N-Out. It is just a burger, their fries taste funny and well, it is just so regular. Why all the hype?

For starters, it is just a burger. In other words, it is made from fresh meat and fresh lettuce and fresh tomatoes delivered to each store on a daily basis. No frozen meats pumped with preservatives culled from "downer" stock. The fries are made from potatoes and salt....without the chemically enhanced flavor that so many have grown to love from McDonalds and other similar places.

Another reason In-N-Out has grown so popular has been it's commitment to quality and cleanliness from the start. It is not the quickest at pumping out round after round of burgers, but it is probably the most consistent and definitely the cleanest. People seem to like clean in their eating establishments.

And, how can you overlook the fun of the Secret Menu that everyone knows about and the Bible References printed on the packaging?

Besides, it tastes good. I think I will go there for lunch today.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

5 freedoms you'd lose in health care reform

Here is a synopsis of the freedoms in our healthcare that we will give up if the so called "Obamacare" bill (which, although he is stumping for it, I don't think he or his administration drafted any of it) passes. Since I have an HSA, I would most immediately be affected by number three. The rest would affect me soon enough.

In any case, here are the five freedoms we would sacrifice, followed by a link to the article I lifted these from in Fortune magazine.

1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

And you can find the article here.

Really, it all just means more taxes for us all if it passes. No real improvements in health care and no more treatment will be available for any poor soul than they can already get now.