Monday, January 29, 2007

Back home.

Hey all, I'm back from a few days of R&R. Spent most of the time up in Yosemite, after spending a little time at my mom's house in Turlock. This was one of those "unexpected" trips to Yosemite. The trip was planned, but the weather wasn't what I wanted. Here's what I mean.

Last year I planned a trip to Yosemite National Park in early spring, the last weekend of March. I expected pleasant weather, so I rented a canvas tent with no heat.

It snowed on me. And rained. And was cold.

This year, I decided to actually GO when it was cold, so I booked a cabin (real cabin not canvas, and with heat) because it would probably be snowy or snow-covered.

The highs this weekend were in the 50s.

I just can't get this weather timing right for my trips. But it was still relaxing and refreshing. Think I got about 4 books either read or mostly read, so that was good. Did a little walking but no major hikes.

Now I just keep my eyes fixed on the weather reports. Once a real snowfall arrives, I'm headed that way for a day in the snow. So cool.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gone for a few days.

Sorry for the long silence of late. I haven't given up on blogging, but it doesn't quite capture my imagination and excitement the way it once did. Oh well.

I'm leaving town for a few days, a wintertime spiritual R&R. I'll be in Yosemite for most of the weekend, and I'm leaving the laptop at home. Taking some books that need to be read, some music that needs to be enjoyed, and some scripture that needs to be devoured. Only wish it was snowy in Yosemite. Pray that it snows this weekend; it snowed last spring when I was there, so maybe it will happen again this trip! I'll probably be back in blogging world on Monday or Tuesday.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The pains of pro athletes.

Fascinating article today on the SF Chronicle's website about the physical pain, injuries and limitations of retired NFL players. They went back and interviewed 30 of the players from the 49ers team that won the Super Bowl 25 years ago. Turns out most of them have major, life-long injuries now because of being in the NFL.
    Wednesday marks the 25th anniversary of San Francisco's 26-21 victory over Cincinnati in Pontiac, Mich., a watershed achievement in many ways. It launched a dynasty in which the 49ers won five titles in 14 seasons, and it connected them to local sports fans more deeply than any other team in the Bay Area.

    But glory came with a steep price, as many players on the '81 team have learned since they carried coach Bill Walsh off the field at the Silverdome. Professional football's primitive core -- enormous men running swiftly and colliding violently -- can exact a lifelong physical toll.

    The Chronicle interviewed 30 players from the 1981 team in recent months, ranging in age from 47 to 59. Twenty of those players cope with significant physical issues today, from arthritis to chronic back pain to joint replacements. Two (including [Joe] Montana) have had spinal fusion surgery, two have had knee replacements and one has had a shoulder replacement.

Are Americans idiots?

Two years from today, a new president will take the oath of office. We know it won't be Dick Cheney, so the field is wide open for both Republicans and Democrats. I'm not even going to bother reciting the names of all the "top" candidates because we're so far away from the election.

Today, Hillary Clinton joined the party. She, of course, would be the first female president and the first spouse of a former president. Gee, that's really cool. Or I could vote for a candidate who would be the first Hispanic president. Or the first black president. Or the first Mormon president. Or all kinds of other reasons that really shouldn't affect my vote in the first place.

I've never met Hillary, but that still doesn't stop me from not really liking her. But if you need some other reason NOT to support/vote for her, consider this: Since 1989 (following the 1988 election), our commander-in-chief has either been a Bush or Clinton. If she's elected president, that pattern continues.
1989-1993: George H.W. Bush
1993-2001: Bill Clinton
2001-2009: George W. Bush
2009-2013 or 2017: Hillary Clinton

Come on, folks. Isn't that a bit absurd? We live in a democratic republic, and we can only elect people with the last name of Bush or Clinton? Look at the political landscape, and maybe Hillary Clinton would be followed by Jeb Bush after her one or two terms is over. That's ridiculous!

Vote for ANYONE who doesn't have the last name of Bush or Clinton in 2008. The last 16 years (eventually 18 years under the B's and C's) have been bad enough. Let's get someone else in there.

EDITED: Sorry, folks, my math was a little off. At the end of George W. Bush's second term, we will have had 20 years of a Bush or Clinton as president, not 18.

Hell and handbaskets.

In case you missed it, Hillary's gonna run for president.

Got a handbasket?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire.

Not really. Just the wood inside my fireplace. One of my roommates took the initiative and fixed a crack inside the fireplace, so now we have fire! Tonight was the first fire in the fireplace. Quite cool.

In my house growing up (still my mom's home in Turlock), we had a gas control that allowed us to cheat when starting a fire. Not here. It has to happen the old-fashioned way. Skills are needed. Too bad I skipped that whole Boy Scouts stage of life.

They took my blood.

Gave blood today. Always enjoy having a needle in my arm like that. Such fun. My dad always gave blood when I was growing up, and I just finally got around to making my first donation some months back, when our church held a blood drive on campus. It was much easier than I thought, and much less painful. If you've never given, go for it. My advice for the day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lessons from water-drinking contest.

It's possible, though unlikely, that you haven't heard about this news item. A woman here in the Sacramento area died Friday after participating in a water-drinking contest sponsored by a local radio station. The prize was a Nintendo Wii for whichever contestant could drink the most water without going to the bathroom. (Check out this Associated Press story for the full details.)

The whole episode got me thinking about some of the games played in our youth ministries. I used to play Chubby Bunny with our students at least twice a year. I've always viewed it as a disgusting but harmless game that involves stuffing your mouth with marshmallows. Lots of fun; we played it when I was in high school. But one of my adult leaders made a big deal about the potential risks of the game, so we stopped playing.

I can see a youth pastor playing a game like "drink as much water without going pee" and thinking it's all in good fun. Honestly, I doubt I would have researched the risks before doing a game like that, if I and my leaders were convinced it was fun.

It seems to me there are a few youth ministry-related lessons to learn from the water-drinking contest death, and some have absolutely nothing to do with silly, fun competitions.

1. Always think about the risks of any game, activity, stunt. Yeah, this seems obvious but sometimes we're guilty of solely thinking about how much fun a game or activity will be, forgetting that it's a real kid involved.

2. Don't fly solo on generating ideas. I'd hope that increasing the number of leaders that create and analyze game ideas would minimize the risks of things going wrong. It's not a guarantee, of course, but it would help.

3. Cut down on big sodas when traveling. OK this may sound silly, but think about all the long drives you've taken with students who are loaded with big bottles of water, 64-ounce containers of soda, and lots of drive time ahead. Each summer we take a missions trip to Mexico. The organization we work with reminds us leaders to keep the students from drinking large amounts of stuff on the trip across the border to our destination, because there are few safe places to stop for breaks. Telling a kid to "hold it" might, in fact, be unwise. Leading us to...

4. Plan the pit stops. Yea, some kids DO need to learn how to hold it while traveling. But strategic pit stops along the way can help. Just make sure the students don't load up on more big sodas at the break!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A cleaning mood, perhaps?

Forgot this important detail. In addition to getting rid of the mohawk, beard, goatee and moustache yesterday, I also threw out the Christmas tree. Its day had ended. It lasted nearly six weeks, which seems pretty good for a live tree.

RIP: 2006 Christmas Tree, December 2, 2006 - January 15, 2007

The mo' is no mo'.

Sorry, folks. The mohawk is gone. It might return next year, if our students can hit the goal we've set for giving to our missions program. If they hit the goal, I'll keep a mohawk for at least six months. If they surpass it at a certain level, I'll keep it for the whole year of 2008, and if they go to an even higher level, I'll add some color.

And no, you can't send them large checks just because you want to see me keep a mohawk for a whole year.

Well, OK. Maybe you can...

Oh, and for kicks, I shaved off my beard today, too. And my moustache. And my goatee. Just left a little soul patch, which is kinda silly because my facial hair isn't very dark and you almost can't even tell I have any left. I kept the sideburns, but they're kinda light right now.

No. No personal crises at all. Honestly.

Wow, they nuked Valencia.

Watched the two-night premiere for '24' on Sunday and Monday. Found it to be quite addictive, just like the last few seasons have been. I had read some reviews of the premiere that offered mixed judgment. For me, I've already drunk the Kool-Aid, so it doesn't really matter how unrealistic some of the plot elements are. It's fun, escapist TV and I appreciate it for that.

Still, it was impossible to avoid the political undertones of these first 4 hours of the show. Terrorist attacks are happening all over the U.S., and the government is rounding up "suspicious" people and place them in detention centers. The president is surrounded by advisers debating whether it's OK to ignore civil liberties because of a national emergency.

Fiction? Hmmm...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My house. In the middle of my town. Sorta.

Hey, in case you haven't been to my new house yet (that would include most of you who don't live near me, I guess, unless you've been stalking me and I didn't catch you on video and give the footage to the cops so they can track you down and place you behind bars, which is where you belong if you're into that kinda stuff), then here are some pics. Enjoy.

I'm on MySpace now.

Sorry folks, I finally gave in and joined the evil cult of MySpace. Hmm, this happens in the same year when I adopted a mohawk hairstyle. There must be something seriously wrong with me, huh?

In case you want to visit myspace in MySpace, just go here and you'll find me.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A tale of two Macs.

Mac 1: Mark McGwire. Rejected by the Baseball Hall of Fame. Deservedly so.

Mac 2: The new iPhone. OK, it's technically not a Macintosh, and its parent company just dropped the word "computer" from its name. But it's a classy product and it makes me want to get a divorce from my current phone. I love my Treo 700P, but man, this new phone sure looks fun.

And it all happened on the same day. Hmmm.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back in the saddle.

Wow, the holidays are over. It wasn't a particularly hard Christmas and New Year's, but it was a very busy time of year. There was a streak in December when I had something every single night...a church event, a Christmas party, a hangout with friends, an evening with family. Busy but fun. And now I find myself trying to get back into the swing of things. Preached this Sunday in both AM services, and that went well, but I find myself quite tired right now. Sorry for the long pause on the blog, but I should be back on track again soon.