Friday, November 28, 2008

Snow vs. Snow

Hmm, I was checking out some online "live" cams of Yosemite today, and I realized there really is a difference between a fresh snowfall and snow that fell a day or two earlier. Check out these differences:

The top photo was from today; I think it snowed in the mountains earlier this week. And the second photo was from earlier in the month, on the day of a snowfall. Remarkably difference.

I'm in Iowa this week. It hasn't snowed, but it might this weekend. We'll see...

Music at the airport.

When I left Sacramento on Monday morning, there was a musician in the B concourse, adding musical cheer to the atmosphere. I was tired and a little cranky, so I didn't have a full appreciation of his contribution.

Apparently, this may be a holiday trend at airports this year:
    It was an odd sight, to be sure: a rock show amid a tempest of luggage carts, weary airline crews and rushed passengers. But this is the exact reaction the airport's marketing and communication manager, Jane Sullivan, was hoping for when she tapped local musician Marc Capelle to curate a series of concerts at SFO [San Francisco International Airport], billed as You Are Hear.

    The intent was to give travelers and the 30,000 employees at the airport a bit of entertainment during the hectic holiday season, and maybe make the whole travel routine a little less stressful for everyone involved.

    "People keep telling me it's an unexpected delight, which is a phrase you don't normally hear at the airport," Sullivan said.

Check out the full story here, on the SF Chronicle's website.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Voting for President: Part Two

OK, so here it goes.

I voted for Barack Obama, but I'm not an Obama supporter.

Let me explain.

Yes, I voted for the Democrat this time around, but it wasn't out of some passionate, enthusiastic, messianic motivation. But it also wasn't a protest vote against John McCain as an individual candidate or leader.

I've had a peculiarly high interest from friends (especially on Facebook) on my voting plans this year. Maybe some people really care. I think others are just bored or bizarrely curious. I've held off from writing about it because I don't really feel it's appropriate to share that kind of info when serving on a church staff. It's too easy for people to confuse Rob the Voter with Rob the Pastor (who are both different from Joe the Plumber).

In any case, I know that I won't affect anyone's vote by discussing how I voted for president. And if it does, well, you probably need to do more research and analysis on your own, instead of using me as a guide.

These are some of the main reasons I made my decision for president. I will not attempt to pre-battle any of my more conservative friends, some of whom will berate me for my choice. But here are the highlights:

George W. Bush has been a horrible president. Our international reputation and influence have been diminished, largely because of military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Going into Iraq was a mistake, even if Bush will never admit it. When it comes to domestic issues, Bush has failed to live out his self-described "compassionate conservative" agenda. I'm no historian, and I don't even pretend to play one on TV, but I doubt Bush will be viewed too highly down the road. And I don't buy the argument that John McCain is such a maverick that he won't continue many of the Bush failures. So this area shifted me toward Obama.

I needed to watch this event on TV because I wanted to hear what Obama said in the areas of faith. Yes, I know his answers didn't appease all evangelicals (especially when talking about abortion), but I was impressed. McCain offered a bunch of sound bites and lines that were targeted to evangelicals. Obama proved that he had actually thought through his ideas and opinions. In other words, I'd like a president who demonstrates intellectual capability (more than our current one) and the willingness to speak in nuances and thought-filled sentences (unlike what I heard from McCain).

This is easy. Sarah Palin is not qualified to be vice president (or president) of the United States. Plain and simple. And anyone who'd pick her as a running mate wouldn't get my vote. Joe Biden was a safe choice for Obama, but it wasn't a dumb one.

McCAIN OF 2000 VS McCAIN OF 2008
I liked McCain back in 2000. He was more independent and less bound to the GOP power base -- which is why he lost in the primaries, of course. This year's McCain has sounded too much like a GOP boombox.

Sorry, folks, I'm not going to vote for McCain just because of the fear or threat or danger of what might happen under a President Obama. That just strikes me as a small-minded approach to choosing a president.

I think it's time for some change in the White House. I don't think Obama is the Messiah and I don't agree with him on every issue. But I just couldn't bring myself to vote for McCain or a third-party candidate. This was not a choice of the "lesser of two evils," but it certainly wasn't a choice of two perfect candidates. Still, I'm willing to take a chance on someone new at 1600 Pennsylvania for the next four years. And I know that many of my friends will disagree, but life will go on for all of us.

And if you'd like a nice biblical view on the election as a whole, without an endorsement or a slam, I'd encourage you to hop over to Mark Miller's website and read what he wrote earlier today.

Voting for President: Part One

So, tomorrow is Election Day but I've already voted, thanks to my permanent absentee voter status. It's a great option here in California. My absentee ballot was in the mail last week, and I presume it's waiting to be opened tomorrow.

This will be the fifth time I've voted for president (fifth election, not fifth time this year -- I don't subscribe to the "vote early, vote often" mantra of Chicago politics). I've never been particular proud of any of my choices. In 1992, I voted for Ross Perot as a protest vote. I didn't believe George H.W. Bush deserved a second term, but I didn't like what Bill Clinton offered. Four years later, I voted for Bob Dole because I couldn't bring myself to vote for another Clinton term.

In 2000 and 2004, I struggled with my choices. I was never a fan of Al Gore, but I considered voting for him. Because I was going to be in Greece at the time of the election, I had to vote early (in September), and I ended up going for George W. Bush. Looking back, I'm not sure I would have voted the same way. I went through the same struggle four years later, and ended up casting a reluctant vote for Bush again, because John Kerry just seemed, well, just seemed like a bad alternative to a bad president.

I've never been excited to vote for a president. I've never encountered a candidate who stirred me up to believe that we could make things different and better for our nation. I've never been given the option of voting for someone who can truly be a "great" president.

And here in 2008? I don't have that option either.


Snow in Yosemite

This was a very nice sight to see online this morning, from Tioga Pass (around 9,900 feet) in Yosemite National Park. It's likely there will be snow at much lower levels after today's storm. Sacramento got over 1.5 inches of rain for our all-day rainfest Saturday. We need it!

My final day: What's next?

Today was my last day on staff at Antelope Christian Center. I've been working at the church since June 2003, so I have a long list of highlights and memories and moments that have brought lots of emotions to the surface in the last few days.

I had the privilege of preaching in both of our services this morning, and I wasn't able to fully keep my emotions under wraps. But I didn't completely fall apart, so I guess it was all OK. And then tonight I finished cleaning out my office.

So, what's next? I don't have another full-time job lined up, but I do have freelance editing and writing opportunities. Honestly, that's really what I want to do; it's a great way to blend my editing and writing background with my ministry experience. Certainly there are some risks, but there are also some great rewards and lots of flexibility in my schedule.

Time to begin this new chapter of life!