Sunday, November 30, 2014

A few thoughts from Ferguson

Since my blog tag line claims to intersect with community and culture, I feel compelled to touch on one of the events that has been foremost in our awareness as a culture and has brought our nation together in the opportunity and desire to share our uninformed and angry opinions with one another; The events in Ferguson.

Here are my thoughts:

I  am very tired of  people who have never been involved in a violent encounter commenting on how one should behave in and react to such an encounter.

I  am very tired of people who have no idea about common investigation best practices and procedures commenting on the investigation of the shooting.

I  am very tired of  people who have no understanding of or experience with the prosecutorial process commenting on the "unfairness" of this one.

And, I suppose those who have had first hand experience with discrimination based on race, or some other physically or cultural trait, are tired of those who have not experienced this commenting on racial or cultural relations.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ashley Brings the 411

Back in the glory days, we used to get together fairly regularly at Jason and Nichole's house for "Game Night". We would play the latest games, eat the worst tastiest food, argue over rules, sing songs and generally have a good time.

Now, when we are hanging out with friends, we whip out the smart phone whenever we need the answers to any obscure pop culture trivia from the 80's, the third line of our favorite song from when we were nine, or what music videos looked like 'back then'. But, This was back in the day before our cell phones could pull up IMDB or youtube in just a couple of seconds.

And we were stuck.

Just what was the lyrics to the opening song on "Family Ties"?

I'm not sure why anyone cared, but we had to know. Finally, I did the only sensible thing. I called 411 for information.

Ashley, the male, took our call. He knew the lyrics, and happily provided them to us. He wouldn't sing it, but we were able to get that going ourselves.

The next time we had a similar question, I called again. I also found out that they don't like you to call and ask for specific operators when you call for information.

Here's the theme song of Family Ties for you, in case you were wondering:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I just keep reading things

Here are a few I have read recently. Maybe some of them will interest you. Take a look:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Not getting along

I recently heard that 90% of our problems and inability to succeed in the workplace come from not getting along with others. With that in mind, let me know how far you think this guy will get:

I was recently visiting and office downtown and, as I was waiting, a few of the ladies brought a birthday cake over to another young lady in a cubicle and sang her Happy Birthday.It seemed like a nice gesture for someone that was working on their birthday.

A few minutes later, another worker came to the area where I was waiting and starting complaining to the cube dwellers in that area.

"How can anyone get any work done with all that singing going on? I come here to work, not to eat birthday cake and celebrate birthdays!"

I asked him if someone had their birthday forgotten this year. Instead of leading him to brokenheartedly confess that he really just wanted to know he was special too, he instead said that he never told anyone about HIS birthday and he sure didn't want to spend valuable work time singing about it.

Yes, I am sure he is a dedicated employee and looking out for the institutions best interest, but I am concerned about his ability to get ahead.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Hallowed Halloween Tradition

"I dont think I should be compelled to spend a small fortune on candy for children I don't even know when I don't even give my own children candy...Do I!"

The preceding is a direct quote from my wife, Diane, when I told her I was going to post about our Halloween tradition.

We have, for years, had traditions revolving around our family celebrations of Christmas, Thanksgiving...all the big ones, really. It has only been in the past few years that we have begun to develop a solid Halloween tradition.

It all started with the feeling that Diane expressed in the above quote. So, we started turning out the lights and hiding from the few children that braved our cul-de-sac. Apparently the lights out on the porch code means that kids can expect nothing from the grumpy people in this house. And, the tradition has evolved into what we have done the past few years.

This year, Diane's parents, Shevannah and Ivan and Rebekah came over, and we also had all the kids except Emily. They all clandestinely slipped into the backyard with us just before dark and we doused the lights to show those hoodlums that we would not be participating in their pagan rituals and processed sugar fests.

Diane made up some delicious Chili and puts together some spiced apple cider for us to sip while we watch a movie. She started off the evening by letting us know that she was the Halloween Grinch and, again, she doesn't want to give out candy and compromise the immune systems of complete strangers, then we dove in to our evening,

This time, we took in an old family favorite, Arsenic and Old Lace. The best part of that is, it all happens on Halloween.

After the show, we lit up a fire and everyone hung out and chatted for a good bit, because its not as much fun if you don't get to talk about what's what.

As it turns out, I was the only one in costume, but we still enjoyed. Maybe you can come join us sometime as we boycott a holiday and make a fun tradition.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Giver

Got to hang out with the kids tonight at the cheap theater, where we caught a showing of The Giver.

Here's some impressions:

I enjoyed Rooster Cogburn in the main role. Mainly cause I kept thinking of Rooster Cogburn, and Tron and Tucker and The Dude.

It seemed to have elements that reminded me greatly of  Equilibrium , Logan's Run and Divergent.

I do enjoy those sort of movies, but I wonder if I would have been just as entertained if I watched them again. By the way, if you haven't seen those, maybe they should be your choice.

That being said, The Giver was suspenseful, thought provoking and entertaining, so I didn't have a bad experience at all. Plus, my kids are fun!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Believe it or not, I'm walking on air...

Does anyone remember the old tv show, "Greatest American Hero"? In it, the hero has newfound powers that he is determined to use for good. He can fly, has superhuman strength and numerous other powers, some of which seem to pop up as the series continued.

The problem was, since the powers were all quite new to him, he was terrible at using them. His flying was awkward, his landings were more like crashes. He ended up breaking things when he didn't mean to and generally bungled many of the things he tried to apply his new found skills too. But, his learning curve was steep, and, through practice, he brought multiple baddies to justice.

I think I too have discovered my "super skills", the stuff I pretty good at. But just like The Greatest American Hero, it takes a lot of practice to get those skills to be effective. And even with practice, things don't always go quite right.


I went and caught the movie "Fury" the other night with the oldest son.

So, here are some random quick thoughts on the movie:

- Those who have studied WWII a little bit know that the war was winding down by April of 1945. What we sometimes forget is that the youth and old men that defended the last vestiges of Nazi Germany were often fanatic fighters and several major battles happened during this period, that involved desperate house to house fighting and grim tank battles. These are well depicted in this movie.

- T his movie is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it showed numerous gory and brutal scenes.

-I appreciated the tactical/technical aspects it displayed. War movies often overlook that war is a game of hard work and tiring tactics. But, tried and effective tactics were used by WWII soldiers and tankers and they were effective.

- The movie worked hard to portray the 'heroes" as realistic, flawed and gritty real life people. But, I think that they went over the top with just how flawed they portrayed these men. I consider our soldiers from this era as honorable heroic men that, yes, sometimes did flawed things. This movie shows them as flawed, dirty barbarians that sometimes did heroic or honorable things.
But then, I suppose that is what art does, exaggerate things to make a point.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Those who tell the stories rule society.”


The Remedy, or, Dread Diseases are No Fun!
Where have I been?

Well, with all the hullabaloo about our pending plague, I have read up a little on one of our previous infectious nemesis. This dread disease, labeled with the title that conjures more romantic connotations, consumption, was an incurable scourge for centuries.

Here's a list of Famous Victms of Tuberculosis

This book had interest to me, as it traced the disease, the attempts to discover its causes and cures, and the parallel life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and how Sherlock Holmes helped lead to a more scientific approach to medicine in general and epidemiology in particular.

For a few more words about this book, head on over here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014



   "Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication"
Leonardo Da Vinci

Sometimes it feels like we do things for circular reasons?
 For instance, have you ever felt like you keep your job that you may not want so you can keep a house that you may not want so you can stay in a place you may not want to be and maintain a lifestyle that you really aren't thrilled about?

Or have you ever felt like you were just spinning your wheels and not really living the life you should be living.

We are examining some of these things in our family now and looking at what it might take to embrace some more simplicity. 

I will let you know how that goes for us.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Identical

I recently attended a pre-screening of the new movie, The Identical. Since it is released tonight and they were kind enough to let me come out and watch it early, I wanna let you know about it.

The basic gist is that a very Elvis like character has an identical twin that grows up in the 50's not knowing who he is, but finally finding his place as a first class impersonator of his superstar twin.

It is a fun movie, with some catchy original tunes, has a great cast, including Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta in major roles and it deals with a them that many of us struggle with, the idea of "what is my purpose and calling in life".

It won't be the supersplash hit of the year, but I think you will enjoy it and maybe even be a little challenged by the message> Maybe you will even be inspired to be a rockstar!

Check out The Identical

Look it in the eye

Look It In the Eye

I am looking for a pack of warriors to run with
that are ready to swing their swords
Train hard and have fun

Those that aren't afraid to stand up to the world, look it in the eye and say
"This is not how you should be!
And I can't fix everything, but I mean to leave a mark."

I am looking for a pack of warriors to run with
and I am ready to swing my sword.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spiritual Gifts

The first book of Corinthians from the bible talks about some of the spiritual gifts that God gives to his people so they can love and serve one another and the world.

Sometimes, when I am in Church, it feels like the most important gifts include being quiet when someone else talks for a good 30-40 minutes straight. Or the gift of being able to actually sit still for that long.

Oh, and handshaking. I feel like I need a supernatural ability to shake hands sometimes. I suppose a big boost of super spiritual immunity is also important, after all that hand shaking. 

Please don't misunderstand. I love the Church. Sometimes, I just like to prod.

I Corinthians 12:21 "But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some of my best friends have been books.

The second grade was not a good year for me. We moved to Nebraska the year before and, although there were some great things going on and I learned to really enjoy it, I did have some issues adjusting.

One day, I wore my jean jacket with a 25th anniversary of Long Beach patch, and I was surrounded by a group of locals, ending up with a bloody lip and getting lectured by the teacher about why we don't choke people.

We also got in trouble for staging a large gang fight on the playground and my Cub Scout shirt was a long sleever, while everyone else had short sleeved ones. That, for some dumb reason, caused a great deal of consternation for me.

But, the worst thing I can remember came on the day of the book exchange.

I had grown to love the book, The Great Cheese Conspiracy, by Jean Van Leeuwen. It was my all time favorite book and I read it over and over. I thought it would be a great book to share with someone else at the book exchange.

When I tossed it in the pile and got my new book in return, I was so disappointed. I figured everyone else would step out with their best foot forward too and I would get some other great book. Perhaps a new world of friends in a book. Maybe even a new favorite book, that I could visit time and again.

What I got in return was some dumb picture book that someone had probably outgrown. Fortunately, being a weepy, bratty second grader, my ill planned exchange was undone. I held on to that thing for several years after.

We still have a copy of that book around. It is no longer one of my favorites, but I do remember what it is like to have a friend whisked away in a vain attempt to find another. And, I still understand all the effort that goes into planning a cheese burglary.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Perhaps you are like me and the differences seem very subtle and nuanced. But I have been informed that the gap between the two is really quite large.

My wife Diane has assured me that the difference between the two is very real and should be diligently observed.

She is teaching me that drawing attention to a person is much different than paying attention to a person. She tells me that she greatly prefers the latter and really doesn't care for the former at all.

And, sadly, the former may be exactly what I am doing with this post.

Standing at attention is, by the way, something completely different.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Recently I have had the unfortunate opportunity to deal regularly with a person who is perpetually unhappy and blames others for every problem they face in life. 

When I saw this old proverb, it seemed to click with this person's outlook on life:

All the days of the oppressed are miserable,
but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

I suppose it is difficult to be cheerful in the face of the difficulties we face in life, to be joyful in spite of all the problems others create for us, to have a cheerful heart at all. But, the rewards are great and the choice is stark. 

You can choose a cheerful heart, or you can give in to the oppressors. You can live life like it were a feast of experiences and adventures, or  you can live life like it is miserable...and you get the by product of not only feeling miserable, but of being miserable to deal with too.

I will choose a cheerful heart!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dad's Day

This date, July 11th, has been significant to me in the past. It is my buddy's birthday, it's the anniversary of the day I went into the Air Force and got out of the Air Force and, it is the date my Father passed away.

For those that don't know, we were in Denver visiting my parents when, in the middle of the night, my mom came in the room where we were sleeping and said my dad had fallen out of the bed and she was unable to wake him.

Having seen plenty of dead and dying, when I saw him, I thought he was gone. Of course, I tried resuscitation and the ambulance was not too far away. I asked them if they could transport in hopes that his transition from life to death would not seem so sudden for us, but they called him there.

And now, I remember this day as the day I lost my Father.

Here is his obituary: Horan Cares 

And here is my earlier reactions: When a loved one passes

For those of you that are want to read it, here is the Kadddish, said to remember the Lord's goodness in the face of those that have passed:

Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba (Cong: Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (`Cong: Amen.)
b'al'ma di v'ra khir'utei
in the world that He created as He willed.
v'yam'likh mal'khutei b'chayeikhon uv'yomeikhon
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
uv'chayei d'khol beit yis'ra'eil
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
ba'agala uviz'man kariv v'im'ru:
swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Amein. Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varakh l'alam ul'al'mei al'maya
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Yit'barakh v'yish'tabach v'yit'pa'ar v'yit'romam v'yit'nasei
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
v'yit'hadar v'yit'aleh v'yit'halal sh'mei d'kud'sha
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
(Mourners and Congregation:)
B'rikh hu.
Blessed is He.
l'eila min kol bir'khata v'shirata
beyond any blessing and song,
toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah, da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru:
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Y'hei sh'lama raba min sh'maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
v'chayim aleinu v'al kol yis'ra'eil v'im'ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Oseh shalom bim'romav hu ya'aseh shalom
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil v'im'ru
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Children At Risk!

It seems in vogue to talk about helping "Children at Risk". To give them the opportunities they may not otherwise have, to help them see a future they may not have been otherwise able to imagine, etc., etc.

I am, of course, in favor of this. Who wouldn't be?

But, I think we need to expand our idea of which children are at risk.

The first time I ever saw the rising popularity of heroin use was with kids in one of the affluent schools here in my city.

I have seen kids from all areas of town and all financial strata facing hopelessness, broken homes and a life without joy.

Keep touching the lives of those kids that have less, but remember that those that seem to have more are also at risk. At risk of growing up and not realizing what is truly important. At risk of not finding peace and love in their own homes. At risk of making choices that will negatively alter their entire lives.

When you think of helping "at risk" kids, don't forget that all kids are at risk.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Things not to do when you visit

We are out of town right now, so I am probably safe sharing this tale. In case you come to visit us, it will also help you know how you should not behave in certain parts of our city.

There is a movie set/tourist old west town that is near our town, and went I was first stationed here, I made a point to visit.

My buddy Dave and I went there and discovered that you could get Old West style cap guns in the gift shop. What could be more fun than running around an old west town shooting cap guns at one another?

We took them with us when we rode the stagecoach and when the train came around the bend, naturally, we opened fire. I guess the mules weren't used to gun fire, and they started to run. We thought it was just the most fun part of the ride, until the cowboy driving the thing got them stopped and started shouting at us.


- They really should train their mules to be more comfortable around gunfire.  Its Arizona. Everyone has guns.

- They seemed to have rethought the whole cap gun sales thing. It wasn't long thereafter that they could no longer be found at the gift shop.

- The stagecoach is more fun when it is going fast, but, according to the angry cowboy, it is not as safe.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Not all the mighty are warriors

I was looking for a picture of one of my friends that just passed away, and I was unable to find much in the way of pictures of her by herself. I was getting a little frustrated by that, then I realized that the reason for this was that people enjoyed her company.

I remember her from High School...well, she didn't go to our school, she lived a town or two over, but everyone came to visit our town. We were the grand mecca of the entire southwestern Nebraska.

She was the sort of girl that would also have a smile, always have something nice to say, would always welcome a visit and would always be glad to throw a scowl when you were being an idiot. In short, she was one of those people that made life seem a little better after you had spent some time with them.

I suppose I haven't seen her for right around 25 years. But she was still close friends with some of my friends and they said some of the same sorts of things about her that I remembered about her.

Here is a brief and wholly inadequate tribute, but I hope you understand what I am trying to express. She was a person the world needs, but now she is gone:

How the mighty have fallen
and the weapons of war have perished.
2 Samuel 1

Not all the mighty are warriors
Sometimes the most powerful thing a person can do, the most powerful weapon they have, is to bring a smile to someone else's face.

Not all the great feats are things that are done in the heat of battle
Sometimes the things that last the longest happen on a summer night when a few friends help each other get through some tough times.

Not everything that makes an impact for eternity is something that we can see.
Sometimes the things that last the longest are the way we cheered someone else, or boosted someone's confidence or maybe the most glorious thing we do is the way we welcome someone into our home.

Not all the mighty are warriors
Sometimes the mightiest people, those that make the most difference,
 are our friends

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Colors

We usually only put our flag out on special patriotic days. But I decided to put it up today.

 I know that many will point to our countries many flaws and mistakes and say that we should not celebrate this flag. I take a different view.

If not for the ideals that our flag represents, the constitution our founders created and the vision that our country holds close we may not even notice those flaws. Without the standard, we wouldn't have something to reach for, and something to compare ourselves to when we don't measure up.

And, without the sacrifices that so many have made on our behalf, we would not be able to fly our flag so freely.

I was spending a little time today listening to Mark Greenblatt talking about Valor. He recently wrote a book of that name to celebrate some of the unsung heroes from our recent wars. So many incredible sacrifices have been made in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Greenblatt wanted to highlight a few of them in order to represent the many.

Jump over here to quickly read a couple of extraordinary stories of some of those who have sacrificed for us. He even has a page where you can email some of these guys and thank them for what they have done.


Today, in honor of these heroes, and many like them, I will fly my flag.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Sons (and daughters) are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior 
are the sons (and daughters) born in one's youth.
Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them.
Such men will never be put to shame
when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.
Psalm 127

 Proud to be a Dad today!

I feel as if my impact in the world is multiplied through my children and I am happy. I wish I could be with them all today.

Here's who we got:

Thomas - A veteran of the war in Afghanistan and is currently serving in the Middle East again.

Emily - One a mission trip/leadership training program in the urban inner city of Quito, Ecuador.

Abigail - Here with us today, but ready to face the world.

Ethan - our warrior in training, ready to head to Church with us this morning.

Makai - Tom's son, who we are hosting for the summer.

They are so cool, they sound like the cast of characters from a movie or great novel. I can't wait to find out more of the story! I love you guys.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

D Day Viewing

It seems almost crass to commemorate such a hallowed day as the beginning of the allied invasion of Normandy with movie viewing, but since it is now the day after, I think we can start watching. None of these can do justice to the scope and intensity of the events on June 6th, 1944, but some of the movies about this day are a good reminder of what those men and women endured.. And some are not as good.

Here are a few:

This one is the quintessential classic star studded tribute to the invasion at Normandy. Everyone who was anyone was in it, and it is a must see. Not as graphic and much more glorifying than today's re-tellings, but it still records some of the actual events and reflects some of the enormity of the operation.

I haven't seen IKE yet, but I usually enjoy Tom Selleck and it looks interesting. I think they also show the famous scene where Ike is photographed talking to the paratroopers that are all bedecked in their was gear, Mohawk haircuts and bristling with weapons.

I used to love The Big Red One when I was in middle school. It tries hard to recreate the pathos and pain of serving in a rifle squad through North Africa, Normandy and to the liberating of a concentration camp in one running battle after the next.

I have seen it again more recently. Ummmmm.......

If you want PTSD from having been on Normandy Beach and having seen your buddy's die violent deaths, dim the lights, turn up the sound and you are there looking into the face of the German defenses as you jump off your landing craft. You've probably already seen this one, or decided you aren't quite ready for it, but it does tell a great story.

These guys were there. You can go watch them there. Through the whole thing, D-Day and after.

No one has actually ever seen this movie. From the descriptions of it, they should not. A love triangle about two officers heading off to their fate on D-Day and sharing stories about the girl they left behind...which happens to be, unwittingly, the same girl for both of them.

Not a strictly D Day movie, but it's related. And it has Clint Eastwood in it. Kind of a Guns Of Navarone in the snow sort of feel with a squad of special operations guys try to rescue a General that has the plans for the D Day invasion.

So, watch a few flicks. Keep the memory alive.

Its a sign, a very bad sign

I am convinced that one of the worst things a Church can do to help share the good news about all the wonderful things God has done for us and all the good news we have and all that is to invest in one of those changeable message board signs.

It's just my opinion, but nothing shows that world that maybe God really does have nothing to do with anything when people can drive by a worship facility and see a litany of messages about how hot hell is or how you shouldn't skip Sunday School or some bad puns that only a few insiders will get about how nails and and crosses and forgiveness and how hot hell is and bible school and some sort of rapturous experience all add up to "show up here Sunday at 10 am".

Aren't the bumper stickers bad enough?

I was reminded of my opinion when I saw this one a few days ago: Wear Your Religion Like Underwear.

When I read this aloud, our whole family laughed, with the exception of the 5 year old, who let out a loud, "Ewwwwwww! That's Nasty!".

Perhaps this sign means something to someone, other than "hide your religion from everyone", or "your religion should be something everyone laughs at or is grossed out by", but I think the majority of us will merely scratch our head and wonder who came up with that and what exactly they are trying to say.

So, if you are a Churchgoer and someone brings up the great idea to put up one of those signs that you can put messages and announcements on, throw up your hands and run out of the room screaming. If you don't have a Church you attend, you really should consider being a part of one. Just ignore the places that stick up signs like that.