Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiday Entertainment

This year, I had the blessing of spending some extra time with the family during the holiday season. One of the things we did together was to enjoy some screenings of some Christmas themed films at the 6th Street Casa.

Here are the ones we took in:

It's a Wonderful Life - Operating under the assumption that attitude is one of the most important parts of life, we make a point of taking this one in every year. This year was no exception. Christmas Eve found us with some treats, a warm fire and watching George Bailey discover that his attitude about life trumps his circumstances. Especially at Christmas.

The Three Godfathers
-this is a 1948 movie about three outlaws that come across a dying women and her baby while on the run in a very fake Arizona landscape at Christmas time. They movie highlights their efforts to keep a promise to her to care for the baby, despite having to survive for days from the water of three small barrel cactus and having to cross some desert. It is cheesy, campy and very improbably, but what is Christmas-time without a John Wayne movie? And it manages to throw in a Christmas theme.

Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas - The children claim they hate this one, but somehow I got them to sit through this forty some minute of some poverty stricken puppet things that enter a talent show. I saw this on HBO when I was growing up and feel compelled to watch it at the holidays. Maybe it is like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory with his compulsion to buy The Catcher in the Rye whenever he sees it.

The Muppet's Christmas Carol -this is a fun retelling of the Classic Tale with a major theme about how changing your attitude can change your life, and your legacy. We decided to go with this version instead of the newer version with Jim Carrey because it is more fun. And, that weird "performance capture" animation stuff is creepy. And, the two heckling judges play the ghost(s) of Marley(s). That almost made the whole movie.

We are open for suggestions for next years round of holiday entertainment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Losing it

I am usually not one to get all wrapped up in trends or to be swept along by societal norms, but I think I am stuck in one now.

Recently, I decided that it would be a healthy thing for me to lose some weight and get into better shape. with both my Dad and his Dad dying at heart disease at the age of 64, it may pay off to take care of myself.

So, like millions of others, I strapped on my running shoes, counted a few calories and cut back on all sorts of delicious foods. Not all foods that are delicious, mind you. Just some of the over processed ones that are so prevalent in our diets today.

Actually, like it is with many things, the rewards have outweighed the work. I am more energetic, I feel better about the way I look, I feel better about being a steward of what I was given and I can run faster than you.

One of my concerns has been losing strength. What if I am not strong enough to wrestle my little brother to the floor? That is an important consideration. So, I have been working hard to maintain muscle while I lose pounds. I can now actually do pullups again. Maybe it is because I am lighter.

But, it I am not strong enough to wrestle my little brother to the floor, I know that I can at least outrun him.

Let me know if you are on a similar journey. I'd be glad to throw some encouragement your way.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Retention, and a lack of it.

Ethan, our youngest, recently had a bout with some sort of a stomach thing.

The bacteria/virus/bad food/24 hour flu/insert whatever else you think it might have been kept him up for most of the night emptying the contents of his stomach in a loud and dramatic fashion. Not only was this dramatic, but he managed quite a bit of his own drama as well.

But, even as the pain and discomfort overwhelmed his normal coping mechanisms and the flip - flopping of his stomach threw him into similar emotional spasms, he retained the information about anatomy that was recently pumped into his head.

"Now all that is coming out is the Yellow Bile!", He exclaimed.

Now my only concern is that he will start trying to balance all his bodily humors, like some a medieval doctor.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Greater Things

I have recently been chewing through Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, which is about James Garfield, his would be assasin, Charles Giteau and the events prior to and surrounding this historical episode.

One thing that struck me was some similar, but widely divergent views the two men held.

When Garfield was 16 years old, he wanted to be at sea and took a job on a boat on the Erie canal, the closest he could come to a seafaring life. On one occasion, he plunged into the canal and faced certain death, had it not been for a rope that was hanging over the side of the boat, which he used to painstakingly haul himself to safety. When he reached the top, he discovered the rope was attached to....nothing. It should have plunged into the water when he grabbed it. Instead, a knot had temporarily hung up on something and allowed him to pull himself to safety.

Believing this event was a providential sign that he was meant for bigger and better things, he left the waterborne life and went to school. Plunging himself into his studies, he became renowned as a scholar. he also served with distinction and gathered some fame for his service in the Civil war, and was elected to congress. After years of diligent service and hard work, he won the Republican nomination in 1880 and became the 20th President.

Charles Giteau claimed that in 1873, he was on the ill-fated Steam Boat Narragansett as it collided with another vessel, caught fire and sank. Although his name was not on the list of passengers, he claimed that this brush with death left him with the distinct understanding that God had something great in mind for him.

When great things did not materialize, Giteau grew frustrated and delusional. This led to his anger being directed at the President, Garfield. He considered Garfield's victory due to s speech he gave and believed he deserved to be an ambassador, When this did not materialize, he eventually decided (or was commanded by God) to shoot the president, which he did.

The views of these two men after incidents where they believed they were clearly saved by providence struck me.

One decided that he was destined for greater things and worked hard to prepare himself, to move in that direction and to be ready for, what turned out to be a life of scholarship and service, which eventually led to the Presidency

The other, believing better things were in store for him, waited for them to happen and grew bitter when "great" opportunities did not arise and when circumstances did not happen in his favor.

Perhaps we are destined for greater things. Are we preparing for them, in spite of circumstances and setbacks, or are we waiting for them and growing angry when they do not come quick enough?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Mighty Joint

Submitted purely for your reading pleasure:

I don't like to call the police on my neighbors. It seems a little ridiculous to be reporting them for this and that all the time. The only time I have really thought about has been after several nights in a row of parties starting after the bars close several nights in a row. And the other neighbors beat me to the punch, so I didn't have to call.

But, I actually did call on some neighbors the other day.

I know smoking a joint is considered a "victimless" crime, and I wouldn't generally do a thing if I smelled ganja smoke wafting in the breeze.

But, when you live with your open carport facing the park and whenever people (like me) run by on the little path around the park you decide to look all angry at them when they smell your weed blasting into the park, you might expect that the people running by might call the cops. After all, their are children playing around there.

So, I actually called them up. Yes, I called the cops on a bunch of teens sitting around smoking weed. The call taker let me know that someone would be right out. Yeah, sure. I didn't think anyone would, but just in case, it would be nice to at least chase the pot heads back inside.

A few hours later, I got a call from the department.

Did I think the guys were still out toking it up right next to the park?

Only if their joint was something like The Mighty Joint from History of the World Part 1.

Don't worry, after they had a few more hits, I am sure they were no longer angry with me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tactical Timeout

I spent most of the week doing a bit of tactical training.

One of the tecniques we practiced heavily was known as bounding. When I explained this to Diane, her image of us bounding out in the fields was a bit more like the picture above.

Just to be clear, we were bounding, not frolicking. I think the technical term is Bounding Overwatch.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Tis the season

I know the retailers, and many of us, keep gearing up earlier and earlier for Christmas. But, let's not forget Thanksgiving.

I like it because it reminds me to be thankful. When I am thankful, I am in a much better mood than when I am pissed off.

Selfish reason, I know, but everyone around me seems to prefer it when I am in a good mood too. those around you probably like it better as well.

So, take some time to be thankful during this season.

If my reasons aren't good enough, here is a link to the 100 times the word "Thanks" is found in the Holy Bible.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kicked out and fired

Just for fun, I thought I would fill you in on some of the places I have been kicked out of. Each one has a story of it's own, and maybe I will fill you in on them sometime. But for now, here they are:

- The grounds of the California State Capitol. Actually, it was from the very place depicted in the photo.

- The top of the tallest building in Tucson.

- The Stage coach at Old Tucson. That was more a kicked off of. Well, I guess we were kicked out of the inside.

- The Hinky Dinky grocery store in McCook, Nebraska.

- The Freshman play, "You Can't Take it With You".

That's all I can think of right now. Surely there are more.

The only job I have have been fired from was a Church job. At the Church, I told my boss I was resigning the night before. He told me not to be hasty and to think about it. Then, the next day, he told me I was being let go from the job. But, they asked me to stick around and do the same things I was doing. It was a little weird.

Oh, I think I was fired from Walmart. But only after I told them I was going on a trip. They told me I needed to find a replacement or that I should not bother coming back. I didn't find a replacement, so I never went back.

I wonder if any of you have been kicked out of anywhere good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two recent tomes

Just wanted to let you in on a couple of recent reads that we enjoyed.

The first:

Everything I want to do is illegal

by Joel Salatin

If have seen the movie "Food, Inc", perhaps you will recall the organic farm, Polyface Farms, highlighted in the movie.

The owner/operator of the farm wrote this book to bring to light his struggles with the bureaucracy of the food establishment and some of the reasons why locally grown natural food can be so expensive and difficult to get.

Some of his stories are downright absurd examples that, if someone has not dealt with government bureaucracy, they would have a hard time believing these things go on. Included in the stories of his struggles is how, even though his methods have been consistently shown to be more sanitary, he has been repeatedly harangued for not having the "proper" facilities.

If you are at all interested in what you eat, check out some of his material. We are now diving into his latest book, Folks, this ain't normal.

A little lighter reading Dude Perfect's Cory Cotton wrote Go Big.

Go big is the story of Dude Perfect and the steps to take your passions and dreams to the next level.

If you don't know about Dude Perfect, they are some college guys that shot some trick basketball shots in their yard, filmed it, put it on youtube and turned it into a dream job. The book talks about that journey and how you too can do some, well...BIG.

Take the time to find out more about them, put their game app on your iphone.....or just watch some of their shots. Here is their original video:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy Our Thoughts

For those of you with sympathies towards the occupy movement, I understand your feelings. It is difficult to look at one group of people who hold the majority of the wealth and seem to be unwilling to help out those with obvious needs.

While one group suffers, the wealthier group has plenty of food, quality education, homes filled with modern conveniences and luxuries and enough free time to take trips and enough disposable income for life's little pleasures.

However, it is my contention that those of us with this kind of wealth (see below to find out which category you and most of the protestors in the occupy movement fit into) should not be complaining that we don't have as much as another guy or about how our spending choices have made things difficult for us. Those of us with the top 2% of income in the world should be considering, not how we can get more, but how we can help those with less than us.

To help you figure out if you are on the wealthy list, check out this link:

I'm the 59,029,289 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

Friday, October 28, 2011

The gunfight

This week marks the 130th anniversary of the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" in Tombstone.

By way of celebration (seems like the wrong word), I recently read The Last Gunfight, by Jeff Gunn.

I won't take the time to review it, but Field and Stream does a decent job of reviewing it here: Book Review: The Last Gunfight.

Mostly, I like this review because it has the sentence, "Let’s start with the title. It wasn’t the last gunfight in the Old West, and it didn’t take place at the O.K. Corral, and it didn’t change anything, but it probably is the real story of this infamous and deadly 30 seconds, or at least as close as anyone’s ever going to get to it."

I did skip a few chapters in the book so I could get to the gunfight, but it does have some interesting information about the gunfight and the lives of those involved in the years after the gunfight.

For those of us in Southern Arizona, an easier way to commemorate this relatively minor bit of gunplay that has become so famous would be to take a trip to Tombstone, billed as the Town To Tough To Die.

In Tombstone, you can see regular reenactments of varying and fanciful versions of THE gunfight, as well as see some excellent museums, and my personal favorite, the Boot Hill Cemetery, which includes a guide to the cause of death of many of it's occupants.

Unfortunately, as the reviewer said, it was far from the last gunfight out here in the west.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taste of the Harvest Festival

On Saturday, November 5th, I believe we will head to the Tucson Village Farm around 10:00 am for the second annual Taste of the Harvest Festival.

The farm is a program of the Pima County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona that is designed to teach urban kids about where food comes from and, as their website says, reconnect young people to a healthy food system, teach them how to grow and prepare fresh food, and empower them to make healthy life choices.

Here is the info about the Festival:

05 November · 10:00 - 14:00

Tucson Village Farm
4210 N. Campbell Ave.

Join us for a free event at the Tucson Village Farm, featuring live cooking demos, free food samples, farm fresh produce for purchase, gardening tips, games and activities, raffle and a petting zoo!

Anyone want to meet us there in the morning? We already have important other plans in the afternoon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This week

One of our instructors for this week plays the cop in the clip below. Just thought you would like to know.

* has a naughty word in the clip. Do not watch if you are easily offended by the naughty word used in this video clip.*

Friday, October 14, 2011


I have discovered that the myth of losing your man-card at marriage is just that, a myth. You still have one. However, it is now a punch card, so you need to be much more careful about how often you utilize your manly rights.

I opened with this because my computer has been down for a week. Hence the extended silence on here. Not only is it inconvenient, but it makes me feel deprived of my manly freedoms. Yes, I still have access to a computer, but it is Diane's and it is in the living room.

So, when I use it, I have to compete with four other people that want to be on it at the same time. When I finally tell them that it is my turn, everyone wants to see what I am doing, make noise, etc. etc. No, I do not have it that bad, but it is inconvenient and feels less manly than when my own computer is up and running.

So, to salve my feelings, I am remembering another activity I was involved in that others might consider unmanly:

I was in the High School Choir

(In my defense, I also played football, was in wrestling one year, ran track one year, played baseball and had a bike)

Yes, from the 9th to the 12th grade, I was in the choir. And I liked it. And here are some random references to that class -

- In the 9th and 10th grade, Mr. Philo was our teacher. Mr. Philo used to get very frustrated with us and his face would turn red. Once I remember him yelling "GOD......." and then, not wanting to swear in front of us, adding a ".....BLESS YOU ALL." But, he did a great job of introducing us to different styles of music and challenging us in our singing.

- The band teacher taught the class for one year. I liked him, but I am still not sure how that happened.

- The teacher who started during my senior year used to coach rock vocalists so they could do their thing without ruining their voices. I am not that grand of a singer, but I can still boom out some noise and not hurt my voice.

- For our senior holiday concert thingy, the teacher had some guy names Jeff Sack sing with us. I next saw him in Tucson touring with Rich Mullins, a popular "christian" recording artist at the time. I reminded him that I sang with him in McCook, but he didn't ask me on stage.

- We went to State competitions with our choir. Who even knew there was such a thing.

Diane is out shopping now, so hopefully my using this thing to make this post doesn't result in another hole punched in my man card. I will leave you with the lyrics to one of the songs we did at state (with only the males) when the band guy was the teacher:

Soldiers’ Chorus (from Faust)

Glory and love to the men of old,
Their sons may copy their virtues bold,
Courage in heart and a sword in hand,
Yes, ready to fight or ready to die for Fatherland.

Who needs bidding to dare by a trumpet blown?
Who lacks pity to spare, when the field is won?
Who would fly from a foe, if alone or last?
And boast he was true, as coward might do, when peril is past?
Glory and love to the men of old, their sons may copy their virtues bold.

Courage in heart and sword in hand,
Ready to fight for Fatherland.
Now home again, we come, the long and fiery strife of battle over.
Rest i pleasant after toil, as hard as ours beneath a stranger sun.
Many a maiden fair is waiting here to greet her truant soldier lover,
And many a heart will fail, and brow grow pale to hear the tale of peril he has seen.
We are at home

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Bling Bling

I first became familiar with the work of Open Doors when I read the book "God's Smuggler" by a man named Brother Andrew. Brother Andrew used to smuggle Bibles into the former Soviet Union and then founded the organization Open Doors, which serves those persecuted for their beliefs worldwide.

I learned more about them when I was invited to join them on a trip to India to teach Church Leaders in several areas in that country. We went shortly after a pastor and his family were burned to death in their car by those that were unimpressed with the Pastor's belief system and the fact that he shared it with others.

Many of the men I met had stories of attacks on their families and fellow believers by those that were opposed to anyone freely believing what they choose to believe.

The organization has now started the One With Them initiative, to coincide with this years International Day Of Prayer. As they point out, 70% of the world lives where religious freedom is not an option. The One With Them initiative is an opportunity to show your solidarity with these people.

They are also offering, for free, the wristband pictured above. If you want to make the statement that you are One With those who share your faith, but not your freedom, you can order one up here: Get Your Wristband

You can show your solidarity with men like Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran. Originally sentenced to death in Iran for converting from Islam to Christianity, international outcry has caused Iran to rethink this verdict. Their rethinking has caused them to say that, "No, he was never sentenced to death." followed by them deciding that he was to be sentenced to death for extortion, rape and running a brothel, in spite of court records that clearly show that this was never mentioned until recently. Obviously, they want this guy dead for his beliefs. (read more about Pastor Youcef here and here).

So, I am proudly wearing my new bling bling, and you can too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Debt That All Men Pay

The sad fact is, one day, all of us will leave this world and the life we have in it. I recently came across an interesting way to be ushered out.

If you have ever faced the death of a loved one, you know that many of the expenses involved can be shocking and ridiculous.

A group of Trappist Monks from the New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque, Iowa, came to the realization that they could help with this and help meet their values of engaging in manual labor and supporting themselves financially. In 1999, they began the Trappist Caskets Company, providing elegant handmade caskets at wholesale prices.

Much of the wood they use is from their sustainable 1200 acre forest and they also manage a fund to help families that lose a child purchase a casket.

The model I like is the premium shaped oak casket, pictured above, priced at $2500. Diane, who is much more frugal than I, and has always wondered why no-one is ever offered a simple pine box, was pleased to see the simple pine rectangular casket pictured below. Price, $1000.

I know it seems a bit morbid to pre-select a casket and I do not plan on dying anytime soon, but I am convinced that the death thing is not something anyone can put off forever. Oh, and If I end up in a different casket than the one I mentioned above, I really won't mind. I do have strong opinions about where I am buried, but I will tell you about that later.

Trappist Caskets

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Courageous Review (Re-post)

Here is a re-post of the review I did in June of the upcoming movie Courageous. It is in theaters this Friday.

On Thursday, Diane and I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the new Sherwood Pictures movie, "Courageous".

This movie, set to be released in September of this year, is from the creators of the movies "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants". For those of you unfamiliar with these movies, they are produced by a Church in Georgia that believed they could reach the world from where they were. The result of this idea was Sherwood Pictures.

The last film, 'Fireproof" starred Kirk Cameron and focused on a firefighter trying to "fireproof" his failing marriage. This movie focused on cops and being a "courageous" father.

I enjoyed this movie, thought it was great that I got to be in on a special pre-screening and I thought the message was powerful and effectively presented. And, as a special treat, one of the main actors from the movie, Robert Amaya, joined us for the screening.

Since this is a review, I will throw out some criticisms of the movie first, since I am sure everyone wants to know what they are. Here ya go.

Cop Stuff
Since I am a Law Enforcement Officer, it is probably a little easier for me to be bothered by the cop stuff than other people might be. But there were a few things that rubbed me wrong. You will be happy to know that I decided to set them aside and enjoy the show, so I might have missed some things that would bug other cops. But here are a few:

-The officers decided to barge into a house while looking for two guys with warrants. This was questionable and quite possibly a fourth amendment violation, since it was unclear whose house they were entering.

-One of the deputies had his finger on the trigger at one point when they were clearing the house. this is a big no no, because it lends itself to what is called a sympathetic response. When the other hand squeezes a door knob or a loud noise is heard, the trigger finger can, unconsciously, squeeze off a round. The other cop was very good about having his finger indexed along the side of the gun.

- While they are clearing the house, another "rookie" deputy stands around like a dolt that doesn't realize they re looking for dangerous felons and is subsequently taken by surprise.

- None of these guys wear vests. I know (all too well) that it is hotter and you don't look as good on film, but if these guys really want to be good dads,they would have a better chance of being one if they weren't lung punched in a shootout.

- I did learn a new technique, called the "slingshot". When you are chasing someone on foot in your car, and then it is time for the passenger to jump out and start running after the guy you are chasing, you yell, "Slingshot!" If your partner is a veteran, he will know that when you put your car into a side-slide, he should jump out and use the momentum of the slide to help "slingshot" him into the bad guy. Even though I am a driving instructor, I have never learned this cool move. Maybe if I was a driving/foot chasing instructor.

Other Stuff
- The movie had a plethora of heavy themes. At times it seemed a bit much. The themes included Gangs, Drugs, Death of a Child, Job loss, Spending time with kids, Ethical and Moral failure, Making up for past mistakes, the Need for salvation and more.

-It was also very emotional. Dealing with the themes above all came with a very high emotional price. I know that many will say it was powerful, and it was. But, it was a little hard to keep facing one deep emotional issue after the next. If you don't usually cry at movies, or weddings, or graduations, or sporting events, or funerals, be ready to find yourself shedding a few tears. If you are a crier already, you will be done.

Ok, that is enough of the criticism. Here is some things that I liked, and maybe you will too.

The Good Stuff
- I appreciate that they are not afraid to release a major motion picture that portrays believers in a positive light, and shows them having major issues, and major mistakes, to deal with.

- They do a good job of bringing to light the fact that many of the woes we have in society have a good deal to do with children growing up without Dad.

- The acting is not so bad. Those of you that did not like Fireproof because of the acting or their brand of humor may have the same issues with this one. But they are constantly improving in their craft and, while they might be a bit over the top at times, they do a good job of making the characters believable and natural.

- They have some genuinely funny scenes. You gotta love that.

- It is not populated by just a bunch of white people. While they don't go out of their way to make sure every ethnic group is properly and politically correctly represented, they do show that their really is diversity in the ethnicity of believers.

- The message for Fathers (And parents in general) is powerful and made an impact on me as a Father. This movie really will change lives.

- I like a movie that has cops as the heroes. Sure, everyone loves firemen. They have the best show muscles, they help out everyone and they have all that cool gear and equipment. They may not look as good in calendars, but I am partial to cops.

This movie hits the screen on September 30th. In spite of my criticisms, I would definitely recommend you grab a group of friends and check it out. It will challenge you to be a better Dad, better parent, better person in general. And this can have an incredible effect on your life and the life of those around you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Misery to Ministry

For people of faith, I heard from Steven Furtick today that God wants to use our misery to give us an opportunity to serve others.

What are some things that have made you miserable?

- Loss of a job
- Loss of Loved ones
- Seeing the Marriages of people you
care about crumble
- Seeing others starve
- Knowing that children are growing up
with no family

These things that make you miserable are the very areas where you can serve others.

What are some things that make me miserable?

When I think about it, many of them revolve around our decision to come here.

- The weather in the summer is harsh and miserable( ....;>]), so no-one ever seems to go outside.

- We left behind some of the best friends we have ever had and we have had difficulty making good friends here.

- I went from being the head of a successful organization that got to regularly spend time with the leaders of that organization and the leaders in the community to being the unknown low end of the organization I am with now.

- Our family no longer gets the support that comes from the position I had before, in terms of friendship, care and thoughts and prayers.

Perhaps in your eyes, our struggles seem petty. And maybe compared to yours, they are. But, they have been difficult for us.

Instead of being bitter, we are called to help others that are struggling in these areas.

To me, that has meant:
- Seeking to spend more time with my family, so they know that I am there for them, even when others are far away.
- Taking on the challenge of being a Chaplain to help others I work with with some of the unique challenges of the lifestyle our work demands.

And, I still need to discover where some of these other struggles will take me.

Where is it that you have been miserable? Can you embrace that misery and use it to bring some hope to someone else?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Old neighborhood

Photo guide for this post:

The First Picture: Bill's awesome trees, that provide shade (and leaves) for the neighborhood.

The Second Picture: Sal's Christmas Tree.

The Third Picture: Part of our former front porch

Last Monday, since we were in town to celebrate the anniversary of the Church, we stopped by the old neighborhood.

True to form, the neighbors came out to chat. It was almost as if we hadn't left. Almost.

The only one we didn't see, that we usually do, was Sal. Sadly, Sal's wife passed away this last year, so maybe he doesn't come out as much as he used to. I don't think I ever saw Sal's wife, but I heard she was made some excellent Italian dishes from Paul, who lives right next door.

We used to see Sal most every day, because he would come down to let us know that we needed to get rid of the Mulberry tree in our front yard and put in a "Christmas" Tree, like the one he had. Sal had lived in this neighborhood for at least 40 years and he was sick of raking up leaves from everyone else's trees. A "Christmas" tree is green all year long and never drops it's leaves into the neighbor's yard.

He especially doesn't like Bill's trees. Bill has two gorgeous gigantic Sycamore trees that always shaded the neighborhood from the hot afternoon sun. We loved them. They also tended to drop leaves all over the neighborhood. This drove Sal crazy.

Sal was so happy when we had a couple of guys chop down our Mulberry tree one day. His joy turned to sorrow when he caught us planting a Maple tree in the same spot. what we should have done, he told us, was put a Christmas tree, like he has, in our yard.

We miss the old neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Property taxes are out again. They are higher this year, since our values are going down.

In Celebration of this, I decided to re-post last years celebration of property taxes going up as our home values plummet.

Notice that last year they went down ever so slightly. this year, since our home values went down even more, the taxes went up.

Here is that post:

Yesterday we got our bill (or statement or whatever they call it) for our property taxes in the mail from the County Assessors office.

According to however they decide property values, the value of our house went down about twenty nine thousand dollars from last year. This resulted in a reduction of our property taxes by about twenty nine dollars.

I would have to look at the numbers again to get the exact figures for this, but by extrapolating these numbers, I realized that if my house was condemned as a radioactive, zombie-infested pit that was completely destroyed and the Assessor decided the value was $0, I would still owe about $1,200 every year in property taxes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Warrior Faith

Next project concept:

A book about how warrior's can continue to survive and thrive in their spiritual lives in times of peace and war.

Including chapters on a philosophy of combat and killing, dealing with the aftermath of life and death situations, fitness and nutrition, finding focus in life, applying your warrior mindset to civilized society, finding spiritual support and strength and more.

Ok, it is in the concept phase (not the marketing phase where I actually make it sound like something you would want to read), but it sounds like fun.

In the meantime, I am enjoying cool river breezes, ocean waves and old friends in California.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Guys I am learning from these days.

I have been privileged in the past to get some of my post school Churchy type learning from some guys that I think are some of the world's best teachers. And no, none of them taught me to write phrases like post-school-churchy-type-learning.

Now, through the wonders of modern technology, I can continue learning from some of the same guys I have learned from face to face in the past.

Here are the ones I have been listening to lately, from their respective Churches:

Northcoast Church
I studied leadership and group stuff from Larry Osborne of this Church. Now, I prefer listening to Chris Brown, pictured above. He is a teaching Pastor at Northcoast with the same ministry/leadership philosophies. I just think he is more fun to listen to.

Newsong Church
This multi-site Church, with it's original campus in Irvine, is led by Dave Gibbons. When I first met him, he told the fascinating story of being one of the few Asian/Caucasian-American kids at an unusual college that told him he had to decide if he was going to date Asian girls or Caucasian girls. Ever since then, I have enjoyed his honest look at what it means to live a life of faith.

Book of Life Church

I hear they stick their services online, but with this one, the technology that allows me to listen in is my automobile that drives me to the services. The Pastor, Steve, has been a friend since I did an "internship" with him after I graduated from school and he is one of the best guys I know at exposing what the bible says in a way that is both interesting and practical.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Foundation of Food

The world we live in, although a beautiful place, is also a broken place. Beneath the beautiful facade, we see bits and pieces of evidence that show us that not all things are as they should be. We do what we can to keep the broken pieces from crushing us.

The more noble among us do what they can to help others from being crushed.

Our very good friends, Jason and Nichole, fall into this category.

At an very young age, their daughter was diagnosed with FPIES. Here is what that is:

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome
is a rare, severe food allergy of the gut. Classic symptoms to this allergy are delayed following food ingestion (~2hrs or more) and include profound vomiting (often to bile), diarrhea and dehydration. These symptoms can quickly lead to lethargy, change in body temperature and blood pressure, and in severe cases, sepsis-like shock. Immediate medical attention is needed for IV hydration and monitoring.

Since FPIES is very rare, and the medical community as a whole knows very little about it, is has been life changing and crushing for them to deal with watching their daughter nearly starve to death because every food was making her violently ill.

As they have navigated through it, they have also connected with other families that are walking the same road. Together, these families have determined to start a foundation to help others that are facing this issue.

Here is what Nichole has to say about why they are a part of this:
"The unknown can be crippling for parents, as well medical professionals. We were met repeatedly with 'we just don't know' and 'there are no studies'. After nearly watching my 18 month old starve to death, I resolved that no parent should experience the pain or fear of navigating FPIES alone. There is hope, there can be healing, and you are not alone."

Here is the link to their new foundation: The FPIES Foundation

Here is Nichole's retelling of her daughter Ellie's story: Ellie's Story (from birth to GAPS)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Farewell Friend

I first met my friend Andy when I was beating around Northern California. We had him play at our Church a few times then even retained him for a while as an "artist in residence."

At the time, he was the worship leader for Spirit West Coast (a Christian Music festival that also doubles as a place to wear all of your obnoxious Christian T-shirts) and an associate artist for World Vision (helping needy kids get sponsors).

When I moved out here, we were able to get him to show up a couple of times to play a couple of services at a couple of Churches. This all while he still lived in California.

A few years ago, I was pleased to hear that he was moving to Arizona. Even though we weren't able to see him and his awesome family as often as we liked, it was nice knowing that they weren't too far away. Because, besides enjoying his music, we enjoyed their company.

Recently, he announced that they are up and moving to Oceanside. Wow. Only a 7 hour or so drive, but it seems a world away.

So, Andy and Pam, we will miss you guys!

On the bright side, we do get out that way at least a few times a year (much more often than we dare to go to Phoenix), so maybe we will get to see you more often now that you are farther off.

If you are so inclined, please join me with prayers for their family.

Here is his website, if you want to know a bit more about him: Andy Allen

And here is a recent performance he did of the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Not political, just pondering

I recently received my primary election ballot in the mail and took the time to fill it out and send it in, since our elections this time around are strictly by mail.* Since I am in the city and I am a registered Republican, there was only one office that I was voting for in the primary, the office of the Mayor (or, Alcalde, as the ballot pointed out to non-English reading Spanish readers).

Since the only candidate the party is fielding is a write in candidate, the ballot was blank and I had to fill in the name of the write-in guy, making sure I spelled it correctly. Fortunately I was able to read either Spanish or English so I could do so. If I was an Amharic or French only reader, I would have been disenfranchised. Why the elections board does not consider that, I do not know.

I am curious why our party was only able to field a write-in candidate. Did the elections kind of sneak up on us? I am sure there is a good explanation. I just haven't heard it yet.

Of course, this is the same local party that disappointingly brought us the guy that thought we should all make a living as drug smugglers, as the party chairman.

He was in the military, has a pretty wife and and nice family.

I was in the military, I have a pretty wife and a nice family. Maybe I can be the chairman. Does it pay?

*Unless you, like everyone else, forgot to fill out your ballot and mail it in. They will still have seven different polling places around town where you can go vote. Take your ballot with you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just a few more and we should all be fine.

A case for increasing government regulations in every area of our lives.

"It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error."
-- U.S. Supreme Court in American Communications Association v. Douds.

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation."
President James Madison (1751-1836) speech, Virginia Convention, 1788

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."
Thomas Paine

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."
-- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wear it!

A word from the wise elder to the young warrior:

Make sure you always wear your vest.
Credit to Demetri Martin for inspiring this guy's video.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I walk the line

Those of us that have been to Sunday School have been told not to take the Lord's name in vain, and many have been whacked, scolded or lectured if they were heard to throw out an Oh My G--, J---- H. C----, or something like it.

It certainly borders on disrespect and a lack of reverence to throw around God's name. But here is what I think is a better definition of taking the Lord's name in vain.

It has been said that taking the Lord's name in vain is attributing something to him that he never said. An example might be God told me this or that, when God didn't really have anything to do with that particular statement.

Remember the crazy Irish guy from the movie Braveheart?

When we see him in different scenes in the movie, he is always taking a time out to talk with God. Here is a little dialog from the scene when we first meet him in the movie:

Stephen: [starts laughing] Him? That can't be William Wallace. I'm *prettier* than this man!
[to the sky]
Stephen: Alright, Father, I'll ask him.
[to William]
Stephen: If I risk my neck for you, will I get a chance to kill Englishmen?
Hamish: Is your father a ghost, or do you converse with the Almighty?
Stephen: In order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God.
[to the sky]
Stephen: Yes, Father!
[to Hamish]
Stephen: The Almighty says, "Don't change the subject, just answer the ... question."

I am afraid that sometimes those of us that are believers come across a bit like the crazy Irish guy. People wonder if we are nuts if we say God told us something. And if we say he told us something that he didn't, we probably are nuts.

But, I believe God really does speak to us.

As you can see, there seems to be a fine line between following God and nuts. and both sides of the line look surprisingly similar, if you look at some of the lives of people in the Bible.

How can you know if you are following and hearing God in your life, or if you have slipped across the line?

Here's a couple of ideas:

1) Don't go it alone.
In other words, have some other people you trust hear your thoughts, ideas, especially when you think they are from the Almighty. We can get very weird when we are alone.

2) Check it out
If we believe in God and his word, we can check and see if we are rolling towards crazy or if we are in line with what he has already said. of course, it is easy to twist things to fit our own view, so please reference #1 above.

I spent the day at church, so please excuse if you think I sound too preachy today...:>).