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."