Thursday, September 28, 2006

Royals update.

Well, my Royals avoided the 100-loss mark with a win on Wednesday night... just a few games left in the season...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A horrible baseball team.

In just a few hours, my Kansas City Royals have the opportunity to lose their 100th game of the season. If they hit this illustrious mark, it will be their third straight season of losing at least 100 games, and apparently they will become the 11th team in Major League history to have three-straight games with at least 100 losses.

Do I cheer my team to history? Do I congratulate them on their successfully horrid season?

Or do I sit in the corner and cry for my team?

Or do I change teams?


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Busy weekend.

Well, it's just past 9PM here on Sunday night, and I'm about ready to go home in a few minutes. Today was our fall ministry faire -- we call it Liftoff Sunday -- and then we had our annual church business meeting tonight. What a day.

Our team did a great job with our display: We made a cube from PVC pipe and then used some material around the edges. Then we hung pics, quotes, verses, explanations, and all kinds of other good stuff for people to learn more about Route 1 Student Ministries. Our other ministries did a sweet job, too, and we had lots of energy and activity between our morning services as people visited the booths.

Tonight we pulled off a 90-minute business meeting. My apologies if your church's go much longer than that. For us, the coolest part of the night came when the membership approved restructuring our long-term debt in a way that will allow us to do some capital improvements on our church facilities.

Big news for us: Our youth warehouse is one of the higher-priority items on the list! That means instead of freezing in the winter and baking in the summer, we'll have CLIMATE CONTROL and maybe some CARPET on the floor. So sweet. We have a cool warehouse for the youth, but it's basically just a metal structure with NO insulation or HVAC. In the winter, you can see your breath. In the summer, it can get past 100 inside the building. So tonight's decision is a definite blessing for our students!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fire away.

Hi all, I've changed my settings in response to some emails from friends. ANYONE can now post comments; you don't have to be a blogger. If you are "anonymous" in your posts, I simply ask that you include your name in your post somewhere. Danke.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Free your hands.

Ahh, the beauty of California. Because none of us out here are smart enough to think for ourselves and make logical decisions on sensible items, our wonderful legislators have stepped in to help us make wise choices.

    Drivers in California will need an ear piece or speaker to use their cell phones in the car under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Motorists could face fines of up to $50 if they violate the law, which makes it an infraction to hold a cell phone while driving. It takes effect July 1, 2008, and is similar to laws in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington D.C.

    A first offense will be punishable by a $20 fine, while subsequent violations will carry $50 fines. Calls made to emergency-service providers are exempt.

    "The simple fact is, it's dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving," Schwarzenegger said during a bill-signing ceremony at an Oakland hotel, citing highway accident figures. "So getting people's hands off their phones and onto their steering wheels is going to make a big difference in road safety."

    Cell-phone use is the top cause of accidents triggered by distracted drivers, according to California Highway Patrol statistics dating to 2001.

    A Harvard University study released in 2002 estimated that about 5 percent of U.S. traffic accidents are caused by a driver talking on a cell phone.
I find that I get just as distracted talking with a hands-free device in my car, as when I'm driving without one. The main difference, of course, is that it's really, really tough to drive a stick-shift when you're holding on to the phone, or cradling it against your shoulder.

Silly law, perhaps, but I can understand the rationale behind it. Still, I wonder if it's the most important thing for cops to be doing: pulling over drivers who violate the law.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My struggle with stuff.

I know I'm not alone in this battle. You face it, too. Maybe you're better at defeating it, or holding it at bay. Maybe you learned some hard lessons years ago, and it's no longer a struggle for you. Or maybe you find yourself tempted just as I get tempted on a regular basis.

I like stuff.

You know what I'm talking about. Things. Toys. Gadgets. DVDs. Books. Souvenirs. Stuff. I have way too much stuff. I have too much stuff in my office. I have too much stuff in my bedroom. I have too much stuff in my storage unit (which I rent, of course, because I can't fit all my stuff into my apartment).

My latest temptation in the War Against Stuff comes from my friends at Apple. They released new iPods this week, and for the first time in a long time, I'm tempted to buy a new iPod. Granted, my iPod works fine. It's white, it has a B&W screen, and it "only" holds 20GB of stuff. I have more music on my computer than it can hold, so routinely I have to shuffle things around to make room for a new CD or new tracks I bought on iTunes.

Now they have an 80GB iPod. That IS the size of my hard drive. AND they have an itty-bitty iPod shuffle that looks like it could be swallowed by a young child if you're not careful.

Do I actually NEED either of these iPods? Of course not. But that's the point, isn't it? So much of our stuff is driven by things other than needs -- or our stuff is sold to us by people who've convinced us that we have a perceived need. I need a new house. I need a new car. I need a better computer. I need new clothes. I need a new cell. Need. Need. Need.

    "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.
    "And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!
    "So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
    "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
    Matthew 6:25-34

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm a Survivor.

So, the season premiere of "Survivor" is less than 24 hours away, and everyone seems to be abuzz with activity about this thing. I've already made comments on my own blog about this, and I was involved in a lovely back-and-forth on YS Marko's blog around the same time.

Needless to say, the plan to divide contestants by race is designed to attact viewers. I'd be comfortable guessing that tomorrow's episode will be the strongest first-night episode the show has seen in many seasons, maybe ever. It's a TV program. They pander to our most basic instincts in the hope that we'll sit there, glued to the idiot box for 60 minutes (44 per episode if you wait until it comes out on DVD).

Tonight, I was scrolling through the SF Chronicle's website, one of my usual haunts, when I come across yet another commentary on the show. Consider these words from columnist CW Nevius:

    In short, it has become this week's hot TV topic. And that's exactly, critics say, what "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett and the CBS network were hoping for.

    Linda Holmes, a Minnesota attorney who writes "Survivor" critiques for the popular Web site Television Without Pity, said this is the cultural equivalent of watching contestants eat bugs. (A common challenge on the show.)

    "Look," Holmes added, "Burnett is a guy that specializes in making people uncomfortable. And this is a topic that will make people uncomfortable."

    Maybe so, others say, but what's the point? "Survivor" host Jeff Probst has been trying to make this year's show sound as educational as possible. In interviews, he's even suggested that this is a "social experiment."

    "You mean like segregation was a social experiment?" asks Lisa Navarrete, a vice president with the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. "We tried that social experiment. It doesn't work."

    Oh, c'mon, you say. Lighten up. Even Navarrete admits that "it's not the end of the world; it's just a TV show." So what are we getting so upset about?

    Actually, most experts agree, the issue isn't race. It is stereotyping. ...
Wow. Stereotyping on a "reality" TV program. Please forgive me for a moment, because I'm about ready to type some stuff in all caps AND bold (!), in an attempt to communicate my frustration with the stupidity of all this.


OK, I'll step off my soap box for a moment. I'm just annoyed by people who think a show like "Survivor" should dish out something more than entertainment. That's like expecting deep social commentary from "Desperate Housewives" or a solution to world hunger on "The Office." Come on, folks, it's entertainment.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sept 11 thought.

I may blog more extensively late tonight on the Sept 11 anniversary arriving tomorrow. I may not. Just not sure if I want to attempt to say something meaningful about an event that lacked meaning. How anyone could cause such pain and suffering to families and cities and nations -- it's completely beyond me. I cried a lot that night after the attacks, but I don't know if I ever had a truly cathartic experience. I was working in newspapers back then, and we had daily deadlines, hourly updates, new turns, new twists. Not sure if I ever took the time I should have to let it all really, really sink it -- and not sure if I want to take the time to do it 5 years later.

Anyway, here's my simple thought, which will offend some, but I hope it causes you to think. Has our current administration made our country safer since that day? Well, regardless of your answer, here's one argument I reject: The evidence that our efforts have been worthwhile can be found in the fact that the U.S. hasn't been directly attacked since that day.

Why do I reject that argument? Simple: It was 8 years between the first attack on the World Trade Center and the one that ultimately brought them down. We all know NOW that the seeming quiet of 8 years meant we were any safer. Just a thought.

Long silence.

Hey all, sorry for the long period of silence! Last week was a busy week around the church, and then I went to a friend's wedding on Friday night. Moderately acceptable excuses, I realize, but I offer them nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Observant. Very observant.

Overheard Monday evening inside Seattle's Best Coffee in a local Border's:
"Did Starbucks start the market?" one employee to a colleague.

Where were you when you heard?

So, last night I'm sitting around with my roommates, and we get talking about Steve Irwin's demise. We wondered: Will this be a defining moment for today's kids? Will it be their Pearl Harbor, their JFK, their MLK Jr, their Nixon resigns, their Challenger, their 9-11? Will it be seared into their collective mindset? Share your thoughts.

And share your thoughts on whether we should all get to watch the video where Steve Irwin is fatally stabbed by a stingray.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Some camping tales.

One of the most interesting people I met last week in Yosemite was a bus driver. He was working in Yosemite Valley for the summer, and during the rest of the year he's a veteran bus driver (10 years) for the L.A. Unified School District. Needless to say, spending time on a hybrid-powered bus in Yosemite surrounded by families and hikers was a nice change of pace for the guy!

Unlike some of the flight attendants for Southwest Airlines, this guy was funny. His funniest bit was the fact that we were riding around on his bus at night, in the dark -- and he's originally from Transylvania. Entertaining, light-hearted guy. He speaks several languages and really seems to enjoy being around people.

But still, that Transylvania thing got a little weird -- especially because he didn't turn on the bus' interior lights whenever he made a stop. The other drivers did, but not the guy from Transylvania. Hmmm.


WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON JOURNAL ENTRY: "There must be an unwritten (or written) law that ppl should exchange pleasantries while hiking. It must be somewhere in Hammurabi's Law or the Magna Carta. But apparently, we don't have to be pleasant to each other once we're back in camp."


WED NIGHT ENTRY: "Just had a guy, total stranger, walk through my campsite on his way to the restrooms. Probably doesn't greet ppl on trails."


Deer count: 8. (Seen, not hit by my car.)


WED NIGHT ENTRY: "Sometimes 'tampering' is bad, and sometimes it's good. I just 'tampered' with my fire, and it's doubled in size."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Crocodile Hunter, we hardly knew ye.

Remarkable. All the bookies in Vegas were sure Steve Irwin would die at the hands, er, teeth, of a crocodile. Alas, the fearless wonder "was killed Monday by a stingray during a diving expedition":
    Irwin was filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Queensland state when the accident occurred, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its Web site.

    The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Irwin was diving near Low Isles Reef near the resort town of Port Douglas, about 1,260 miles north of the state capital of Brisbane. ...

    Irwin is famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchcry "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter," which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 and has aired around the world on the Discovery channel.

    He rode his image into a feature film, and developed the Australia Zoo as a tourist attraction.

    Irwin had received some negative publicity in recent years. In January 2004, he stunned onlookers at the Australia Zoo reptile park by carrying his 1-year-old son into a crocodile pen during a wildlife show. He tucked the infant under one arm while tossing the 13-foot reptile a piece of meat with the other.

    Authorities declined to charge Irwin for violating safety regulations.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gotta love English.

Overheard Friday evening at a local Borders, an exchange between a father and his young son:

"OK, Daddy, we're running into the bookstore."
"No, no running inside."
"OK, we're not running."

Such a subtle language, eh?


our lives are like waves crashing on a beach
always flowing
never ending
constant ongoing incessant unceasing
some waves impact
many lives
other waves impact
fewer lives
yet all make an impact
until they wash back home
into the lake of life all
at the hand and timing of the

You just can't escape Saddleback.

So I'm up at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, and someone's talking about a camping area in the High Country. They referred to it as Saddleback Lake or Pass or Something Like That. So I'm thinking that, a la Doug Fields, I've got my OWN stalker (probably Josh Griffin, or maybe Andy Brazleton on his mountain bike). I mean, come on, is there NOWHERE we can go without hearing about Saddleback Church?

Well, OK, it turns out I either misheard them or they didn't know the right name of the place. Turns out it's SaddleBAG Lake. Saddleback, Saddlebag. No, I'm really not going deaf in my 30s. Seriously.

Deerly beloved.

Growing up, my brother Rick and I had our own name for this kind of sign: "Deer dancing like idiots by the side of the road" sign. Come to think of it, that's still what I call it.

Ugly gas prices.

Get a load of this. True story. Seven people, picked to live in a house... never mind...

OK, so I kinda lied. I didn't pay that price for gas. But it's a legit sign from Lee Vining, Calif., which I drove through during my trek to Yosemite. Here is what gas actually is around the Sacramento area these days. SoCal friends, view it and weep.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New friends.

So, this is the first of many posts that will come out of my trip to Yosemite National Park. I had a lot of fun interactions with people and great visits to cool places up in the mountains.

First up: Mike and Janet Paden, a retired couple I met on Monday while visiting Glacier Point. This locale offers some of the most spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, including a "side shot" of Half Dome that you miss if you never leave the Valley floor.

Anyway, I got talking with Mike and Janet about their adventure as they're traveling across the country. I later learned that they've been on the road since April -- wow! -- and their trek has taken them from Illinois all the way to Florida and now way out west. From Yosemite, they (and their two dogs) planned to head north to Lake Tahoe, British Columbia, and maybe as far north as Calgary. It was fun talking about places they've visited and their planned sites along the way.

Remarkably, I ran into the Padens a day later while up in the High Country. I had decided to make a trek over to the east side of the mountains. There's a wonderfully steep route for Highway 120, and it leaders to Lee Vining and Mono Lake. After driving around a little while, I stopped by the "south shore" of Mono Lake and checked out the south tufa formations.

On the way back into Yosemite, I pulled off to get a nice view of Ellery Lake, and after snapping a couple of photos (with my PDA; I didn't bring a "real" camera on this trip), I saw a couple waving at me -- and I realized it was Mike and Janet! We talked for a few minutes about their plans to head to Route 395 and go up to Lake Tahoe for the next leg of their trip.

So, I promised them an email (to be sent in a few minutes) and I decided they should get the first "real" post from my Yosemite trip. I'm looking forward to hearing about their continuing adventures as they head north and then east.

And for the rest of you folks, I promise more posts about mountains and gas prices and deer signs and Saddleback and people from other countries and books I read while up in Yosemite and hikes I took and all kinds of other fun stuff. Enjoy.

Final thoughts on Star Wars.

1. I will wait a long time until I spend 13+ hours watching all the movies.
2. If I watch them all with students again, I will make sure no one steals my chairs.
3. If people steal my chairs, I will make sure the chairs don't get broken.
4. I will commission a leader to make a late-night McDonald's run.
5. I will reinlist a friend to bring food again from Olive Garden.
6. I will do less commentary during Episode I.
7. I will do more commentary during the rest of the movies.
8. If I need to fall asleep during Empire Strikes Back, I will do it.
9. I will remind students that it's not a date night, so cut the PDA.
10. I will plan another vacation right after an all-night event because it took me several days to recover from this one.