Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Dirty Shebra

We were at the zoo a few weeks ago and I had Brennan and Tanner with me as we waited for everyone else to catch up. So we sat down on a bench opposite of an okapi. The okapi was facing away from us and the boys hadn't noticed it yet.

Tanner looked up and said, "Look, Daddy, a shebra! [zebra]" Just then the animal turned to reveal that it was mostly brown and only its hindquarters were striped. Tanner cocked an eyebrow and grinned, "Daddy…" (He said this in a tone as if he'd caught me redhanded) "da Shebra's dirty! He got mud on him."

"No, son, that's not a zebra, that's an okapi, God made him that way."

"No, he rode in da mud. He's dirty."

"Ok, Tanner. The shebra's dirty."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Nickel Tour

I was giving a tour of the church building the other day to a minister from out of town. I was explaining what the various rooms were used for and how they were each created by the devoted craftsmanship of our church members.

Though I'm sure it was impressive, the response I heard was, "Your walls look awful bare."

Well, yeah, I guess they are. I felt more than a little defensive and shot back, "Well, we exhausted our resources finishing this project without any debt."

But the truth is we do need to decorate a little. If anyone out there would like to adopt a room, or a hall, or whatever let me know. Here's the conditions:
  • We need to run anything major past the Deacons.
  • Please consult the ministers if you question whether something is ok.
  • Remember the goal is to look inviting and warm, not rich and stuffy. Our building is a tool that our church uses, not a monument to God or ourselves or anything else.
I've heard some good suggestions: One church had themes for its various restrooms: sunflowers, fishing tackle, etc. We would like to see a number of bulletin boards, each dedicated to a particular missionary or ministry of our church. We also have some teaching aids (maps, posters, etc) that could go up, including a large map of Israel that's probably 8' by 3' and would need to be laminated.

A lot of these are little projects that one or two people could work on on the side. Anyone interested?

Sedition is a Crime

Believe it or not, this is actually on the books. Why aren't more people arrested?

18 USC 115 Section 2388 states:
Whoever, when the United States is at war, willfully makes or conveys false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies; or

Whoever, when the United States is at war, willfully causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or willfully obstructs the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or the United States, or attempts to do so—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fantasy Football

My fantasy football league had its draft yesterday afternoon.

24 hours later, I feel pretty good about how I did. Maybe the best I've ever felt after a draft. However, considering that I usually do well with players I don't like, shouldn't I be more concerned?

[For you football geeks out there, we have 20 teams in two conferences with seperate drafts. It's a basic yardage league, no defense, no negative points. We play for a trophy, no cash awards. I got Edgerrin James, Kevin Jones, Randy Moss, and Torry Holt with my first four picks. I've not had a draft that rich since I played in an 8 team league, way back in the day.]

We have a clear ulterior motive in doing this hobby. Our purpose is to create common ground for men (or women, we have two) in church, whether new to church or not. It provides an opportunity for a guy to talk to other people at church and build relationships in an environment they might otherwise find intimidating. In the 9 or 10 years I've been running a church-based fantasy league, I've seen wonderful results. It's hard to measure, but most spiritual (and relational) things are.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Well That Explains A Lot

We've been terribly concerned about Shannon's health the last couple of months -- some kind of hormone disorder, we thought. Well the doctor figured things out for us… she's pregnant.

You'd think we'd recognize the signs by now.

Considering that my fear was Thyroid cancer, this news is beyond welcome. We were not planning on trying for a fourth child until September (when our insurance kicks in) but we're not going to send this one back either. Altic baby 4.0 is due late March or early April.

And yes, we're fine if it's another boy.

Big News

I'll be on later to blog about some exciting news I heard. So check back tonight or early tomorrow.

God bless.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I think it all starts when, moving in together for the first time, the newlywed wife says, "I want to do the living room with a faux [blah blah blah] and [blah blah] accents with nice little coordinating [blah blahs]. The husband looks at her and says, "uh, yeah… sure."

He then wakes up years later with a frilly bed and antique stuff hanging everywhere and he realizes he's become a big sissy. Do I recommend trying to change? NO! It's too late. You can learn to live with your condition or make things much worse than they already are (Prov 21:9). All you can really do is accept the progressive nature of being sissified and resign yourself to it.

I've fallen deeper into the abyss just this week. I've now officially transitioned from bar soap to a luffa. I've never felt so exfoliated.

Thank goodness football season is about to start. Returning to the gridiron, the field of battle, will restore a sense of primal order, a militaristic emphasis on beating other men to the ground, and the establishment of male dominance in a black-and-white world of violence and conflict.

It will also give me time to learn to crochet.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Like Cordwood, Part 2

Here's another shot of the new bunk-beds. The first night Brennan slept on top, while Tanner switched about half a dozen times.

Brennan has become quite photogenic of late. In fact, he'll hold a smile for a ridiculously long time if he thinks you'll take a picture. Tanner, however, tends to shy away unless he's just in a picture-taking mood, but even then we have a hundred shots of him avoiding eye contact with a forced half-grin. He's awefully self-conscious sometimes. Elijah is still oblivious. I present to you "Exibit A," labeled "caught in butterfly net."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Like Cordwood

We changed the boys over from two single beds to bunk-beds. They were a hand-me-down from Shannon's mom and we put them together just a little while ago. Brennan and Tanner will now be leaving dirty handprints on the ceiling and parachuting from the top bunk. The boys are thrilled with the new arrangement of their room; it is pretty cool. I also have fewer qualms about the amount of space they have. There's an abundance now.

Tanner and Elijah play on the bottom bunk.

God is really good to us. At times it seems like everything we own or wear is hand-me-downs or garage sale finds but we feel rich. His blessings are poured out like rain.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Omaha Zoo

Here's a quick pic of us in the jungle at the zoo (it's not the best but I had it handy):

Friday, August 19, 2005

New Sprint Center

Kansas City unveiled its new arena today, the Sprint Center. It's hoped that it will bring the NBA, NHL, more college basketball and concerts to Kansas City. It should open in 2007. I can't help but think I wouldn't want to work across the street from something that's going to reflect the afternoon sun into my window year around. Oh, well.

UPDATE: Good news! It turns out lots of people were asking about the sun's reflection off the new disco ball we're planning to build but the designers assure us that it is "not mirrored or reflective." Hmmm… Then why did you draw it that way? Is that not the REFLECTION of the KC skyline I see?

It turns out… no. It's actually supposed to be transparent. You can see right through it. Here's some more pics. These show that it looks more like glass cream-filled donut than a disco ball. Hmmm… donuts…

Actually I'm concerned about that much glass. What happens during a college basketball game in the afternoon? Are you going to get that monster glare like you get from the windows in Allen Field House and other windowed arenas? Might you be watching an afternoon game, feeling like you're being baked in a greenhouse, wishing you were sitting in the shade? Hopefully not. Surely the best architects in the world can account for these things and more.

And besides, it should look really cool at night.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Worn Slick

My dutiful wife has a new email address. You can now click to send a message to her. This is her first individual account so she wanted something that accurately reflected the harried lifestyle of a homeschooling, ministering, working mother of three boys.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

To the Zoo

We awoke at 4:30am, packed the kids, and joined Grandma and Papa on the way to Omaha. Arriving about 9:30 we found the Henry Doorly Zoo to be awesome, as always. The jungle, the desert, the caves, the aquarium, the gorilla valley, the petting zoo, the aviary, the cat house, etc. etc. This zoo impresses no matter how many times you've been. It's worth the drive and our boys loved it. I can't imagine that we wouldn't go back every couple of years.

I'll try to include some pictures soon.

We ate dinner at Spaghetti Works in downtown Omaha and got home about 10:30 or so. Quite a day I'd think.

It May Be Over for Over There

One thing that's true of me is that I have an insatiable appetite for things historical, especially military history. So I tend to gravitate toward military fiction and drama. The problem is I'm usually disappointed. The real stories are almost always better than anything that can be made up. And most stuff that's made up is so full of factual errors that it drives me to distraction.

Enter FX's "edgy" drama Over There which portrays American soldiers in Iraq. Besides the fact that it is as obscene as any of dreck on basic cable or network tv these days, it's a long ways from accurately representing reality. It's so bad in its portrayal of modern American soldiers as to be laughable and for those few who are still watching it has been made a game of "counting the errors."

Here's an article that shows some of the problems (from -- Thanks!):

When television meets reality, strange things happen. A recent example of that is a new television show, Over There. The show tries to portray the experiences of American troops in contemporary Iraq. But the show also tries to deal with the demands of television dramas. This means, well, that accurate "reality" is apparently out of reach.

Over There is not just unique in that it is dealing with ongoing events, but the people actually involved in those events are able to see the show. Illegal copies of the show have made their way to the troops (either via video captures sent via CD, or those same files snagged online via Bittorrent). The troops are not impressed. Some are appalled, although rather saltier language is used to express their reactions.

What bothered the troops the most was how poorly the actors dealt with very important things like combat and security. There are several hundred thousand Americans who have been to Iraq, gotten the combat training needed to survive there, and could have advised the shows creators on how things are actually done. Many troops winced as they watched the actors make one fatal mistake after another. It would be funny, it it weren’t for the memories of friends who made those same mistakes and got killed or injured because of it.

Maybe its for dramatic effect that the show depicts a single hummer out in the middle of nowhere, with no one paying much attention to local security. SOP in Iraq is two vehicles, minimum, when you go outside the wire (leave a base camp), and careful security measures whenever you stop. You can get away with the lone rider motif in most parts of the world, but not in Iraq.

Another hilarious bit, to troops who have been (or are still) there, is the depiction of senior officers (like colonels) wandering around without a security detail. CanĂ‚’t understand how they would miss this. TV and movies loves to show security details. And the ones in Iraq are well trained and all business. Oh, and colonels shooting hummers to prevent troops from doing something? Doesn’t happen. The military has their own colorful ways to deal with disputes and disagreements, but blasting a hummer says that the trigger-happy officer has problems with his command presence. If the writers had spent some time talking to troops who have been to Iraq, they could have gotten some entertaining, and much more realistic ways to handle that.

And then there was the episode where the bad guys had some Stinger missiles. Where were the reality consultants for the show when this got written? The bad guys in Iraq have access to thousands of Russian made portable anti-aircraft missiles. Getting their hands on Stingers would involve a major victory over American troops, something not likely to happen, or go unnoticed. Stinger missiles are very well looked after, and their probably aren’t many in Iraq anyway.

Scenes involving the interrogation of prisoners come off, to the troops who have been involved with actual interrogations, as some kind of parody of a parody. What are the shows writers using for source material? Again, the great tragedy here is that the reality of these interrogations is lot more entertaining than the parody portrayed in "Over There."

Along those lines, the troops get really upset at the way G.I.s are portrayed in combat. American troops are taught, again and again (until the get it right), the proper moves to use in a firefight, or when threatened with attack. The show’s writers could have just referred to video taken by embeds during the 2003 invasion. Those vids showed how it is done, but bear no resemblance to the tactical travesties portrayed in Over There.

Hollywood makes a big deal of sending their actors to a brief “boot camp” before they shoot a war movie. Perhaps, for shows like “Over There,” they should have sent the writers and directors. Bu what’s really annoying to a lot of the troops is that many family and friends will believe “Over There” is an accurate portrayal of operations in Iraq. The troops will have to spend lots of time and effort repairing that damage. Oh, and the show hardly bothers to portray the troops using email (which is a major morale item for those serving over there), or playing video games (a major recreational activity when off duty.)

It’s uncertain what the target audience for “Over There” was, but ratings have been plummeting since it first premiered last month. They defiantly lost the military audience, and many civilians as well. Perhaps it will soon be over for “Over There.”

I Can Remember That

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Kick Off

We had our Wednesday Family Night kickoff this week. It seems to have gone really well. We had about 80-85 people and everyone had fun. We had a dunk tank, which didn't seem to work as advertised but it was good enough. It's interesting that each person dunked was first dunked by his wife… Jared, Jarod, Dustin, Joe… hmmm…

We cooked out, played games, did facepainting, and the kids who stayed late got to ride a horse. It was good!

Thanks to everyone who helped pull it together. I appreciate you so much!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Setting up the eMac

We received our eMac today and this is my first post from that machine. I've been spending the evening setting things up and configuring all of our little nitpicky things we want. Shannon's big request was a pinball game, so I uploaded some demos for her to try out. We're also figuring out our new printer/scanner/copier thingy. We had both a $50 and $70 rebate for that printer so it worked out pretty well.

The kids are a little too interested in my opinion. I'm praying that we don't get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the CD tray someday. This is meant to be the computer that our kids will use and learn on for the next few years, but they seem awful young right now.


Hey… maybe Shannon will actually read my blog now! Hmmm…

Well, back to work.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

2000 Hits

Wow, I guess I flew right past 2000 hits. I never even noticed.

Congrats to me!

Since I'm so popular (?) I'll have to redouble my efforts to post more often.

New Computer Tomorrow?

We're supposed to get our new computer tomorrow. UPS tracked it from Memphis to Lenexa to KCK. It should go out for delivery in the morning! I'm pretty excited!

More to come…

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Take a Breather

Things (and by things I mean both good and bad) have been keeping me really busy lately. I've just got to get through to next Tuesday and I can take a breather.

Some of the stress:

We ordered a computer last night, it should be here by the end of the week, But DSL is not an option at home for another 1 to 6 months (nice range, huh?). We installed a new network (with high speed internet) at the church, but now I can't send email for some reason. Yay.

3 words: "Fall Kick Off." I need to go to Rushville tomorrow to get the dunk tank but haven't figured that out yet.

Everyone wants the church to do more but wants to be personally involved less (too busy don't you know). The British Navy had an easier time getting volunteers than us (of course they kidnapped people from bars… hmmm [rubs chin and contemplates]…). And I was just raked over the coals by some guy I've never met that was asking for cash. Apparently I'm supposed to feel like a bad Christian for NOT handing out blank checks to total strangers.

Well, I'm off to go throw hay. Literally.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Get That Kid to a Zoo

We've been planning to go the zoo in Omaha for awhile, basically ever since we got home from our last visit there two years ago. But poor Tanner, now three and a half, doesn't remember it. Instead, he knows our Omaha-zoo-substitute: Cabela's.

Cabela's is a store where you buy hunting stuff and we have one near our home. So we take the kids to see the hundreds of stuffed and mounted deer and assorted big game. We joke that it's "the poor man's zoo where the animals don't move."

Back to Tanner…

We were explaining that we were going to go to the real zoo in Omaha soon and he looks at Shannon and asks, "Does da animals move dere?"

"Yes Tanner, they have real live moving animals."

Then he asks me, "Are dey smashed?"

"Smashed?! Uh, no honey, they're just fine."

We need to get this get kid to a zoo, stat!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mini Cooper or Minivan?

I have to take my three kids to pick up their grandmother at the airport this afternoon. I have two transportation choices: I can take my minivan (seats 7, plenty of headroom for 6'2" adults, lots of cargo space) or I could take my mother-in-law's car. But it's a little red mini-cooper.

A new mini cooper is driven off the assembly line at Santa's workshop.

That's right, my mother-in-law drives a British phone booth, tipped over, with go-cart wheels and a lawn mower engine. If you hit something, or another vehicle doesn't see and just runs you over, you'll find your coffin to be more spacious.

I won't even ride in the thing for the following reasons:
  • I won't fit.
  • I still have an ounce of self-respect and refuse to recreate the "clowns piling out of a tiny car" scene.
  • I'm unnerved to be outsized by Geo Metros and Ford Escorts.
It's a moot point anyway. The "two leprechauns and a small pot of gold" seating capacity rules out the mini cooper and leaves us with the minivan option.

Jungle Aviator

Here's the blog for my cousin and her husband (a missionary pilot in Central/South America). They are currently undergoing language training in Costa Rica, then it's on to Ecuador where Sean will do his flying, bringing supplies and missionaries, among other things, to the remote mountains.

We had Sean and Rebecca out to Kansas City last January and thoroughly enjoyed their company. Sean spoke at church and made a great impression on everyone. I hope we can have them visit again the next time they're back in the States.

Make sure you visit their blog; they are witty writers,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Scaring You Into Action

This is mildly warped. It's called and it calculates your date of death. If you're fit with a good attitude, like my wife, you'll live to a ripe old age (when I told her she's expected to live another 70+ years, she wasn't overly thrilled).

The rest of us are dying to get out of here.

Actually with a good attitude and some reasonable weight loss (down to 220), they had me living to 90 years old, which isn't as unrealistic as it first sounds. People in my generation will (undeservedly) outlive current life expectancies because of the steady advance of medical technology. Just as people born in the 1920's could never have expected MRI's, bypasses, and artificial joints to be commonplace, we should benefit as well from advances in medicine.

Or you could get hit by a car tomorrow. God bless!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Back to Work

I took a few days off this last week (three to be exact) and tried to relax a little. I borrowed my brothers playstation, watched some movies with my wife, and spent a bunch of time with my kids. I was kind of hoping it would be more refreshing than it was. But I couldn't help but stress about various things going on at church. Oh well.

When I returned this morning I started going through my mail. I was thumbing thru a local newsletter/magazine thing and, lo and behold, on the back cover is an article that I wrote! Cool. I was kind of taken aback but it was kind of flattering to be on a the back cover of anything!

One of the main reasons I blog is to discipline myself to write on a daily (almost) basis. Eventually I'd like to write professionally as an extension of my ministry.

Insulting Our Intelligence

I can't stand it when movie makers just assume that the audience is stupid. That they can cheat on the details and "no one will care." Uh, yes we will. It's a terrible sin for a storyteller to commit. It jars the audience out of the story and you might lose them right there.

A good [bad?] example of this is the upcoming movie Stealth. Even the trailers show multiple examples of ridiculous, eye-rolling absurdities. Eric Adams, of Popular Science, reviews this movie's glaring mistakes and I really like his assessment:
There are three reasons why filmmakers distort science and technology: 1) to make things look cooler, 2) to make a story work, and 3) because they have no clue what they’re talking about, and they’ve chosen to ignore the advice (or pleas) of the film’s consultants. Although Stealth, a hypersonically paced Top Gun update about an unmanned air combat vehicle (UCAV) gone amok, gets correct some of the futuristic air-combat technology it depicts, much of it is dead wrong, and the film commits all three of the aforementioned sins.
It a short but good read. Here the whole article.