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: