Monday, October 31, 2005

Congratulations… Part 2

We're having another boy. That's number four!

Our due date was also moved; turns out he's a month younger than we thought. The new due date is April 20, just a few days after my Dad's birthday.

We're pretty much settled on his name: Graham Ryker Altic. His middle name, Ryker, is Dutch for Richard, my Dad's name.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Congratulations, You're Having a…

We find out tomorrow (Monday morning) whether Altic baby 4.0 is a boy or girl. I'll blog about it tomorrow, about Noon (CT) give or take a few hours.

For those of you scoring at home, here's our "version history," with major product releases about every two years (sorry, Macintosh only).

Altic Baby 4.0
- release date: due in March 2006
- working titles: "Annaliese Sophia" or "Graham Ryker"

Altic Baby 3.1
- fixed output error on startup

Altic Baby 3.0
- released 28 April, 2004
- titled "Elijah Jude"
- new feature: brown hair, hazel eyes

Altic Baby 2.0
- released 18 December, 2001
- titled "Tanner Riley"
- first Jayhawker version (initial release in Kansas)

Altic Baby 1.0
- released 26 September, 2000
- titled "Brennan Conner"
- first version

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rock Chalk

Go Jayhawks! I think that's three years in a row now that Kansas has beat Missouri in Football. That's right… Football! You probably didn't even know that KU had a football team! Actually the KU-Missouri football rivalry is the oldest and longest running matchup west of the Mississippi -- 114 years straight. They've been playing in what's called the Border Wars every year since 1891.

But Basketball starts in few weeks and that's where it's really at. That being said this may be an off year for both KU and MU. KU has a young team -- no Juniors and only one of three seniors started last year (Christian Moody, who'll be a better doctor someday than he is a ball player). MU… well, they've just got problems. And I'm trying to be kind.

Hopefully Kansas' young players will surprise us before they leave for the NBA or something, but I know that it'll likely be an up and down year.

But any year is a good year if we beat Mizzou a few times.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Between You and Me

Shannon has been making batches of homemade cinnamon rolls the last few weeks like my grandmother used to make. She does everything short of going to India and rolling her own cinnamon bark off the tree. About everything else is made from scratch, even the icing – and it's awesome! The rolls just melt in your mouth. It's hard to put into words how good these things are fresh out of the oven.

But we need to keep this under wraps so that Shannon won't be asked to make them for every family and church function in the next few years. So let's keep this hush hush. Ok?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Minister's Luncheon

We had a minister's luncheon yesterday at our church. It was our second monthly meeting, mostly consisting of ministers from Topeka to Kansas City to northwest Missouri (a lot of us know each other from church camp). We gather to share a meal, worship and pray. The fellowship alone means a lot to everyone there.

But that's just the point. I find the meetings pretty encouraging but, like most things, it only helps if you avail yourself to it. There are a couple of ministers that seem to really need the encouragement right now. Isolation and other demoralizing factors leave these guys adrift and depressed. If only they would come fellowship with us and know that they're not alone!

I worry about ministers because I know what kind of stress they go through. But it's the self-inflicted isolation that makes things so much worse. And just as bad is when two ministers do get together and the talk turns negative. We need to spur one another on toward good deeds not breed cynicism and promote pessimism. Ministers especially need to subscribe to a Christian idealism that sees God's blessings and opportunities in life. Ministry may be tough but there's nothing in the world more rewarding and nothing I'd rather do.

I just wish I knew how to communicate that to those ministers whose tanks were on "e."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Random Thoughts 10/24/05

  • I'm still watching classic movies when I get a chance. Last night I stayed up to watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (James Stewart, Doris Day, 1956). It was better than I suspected, except that the movie ran a few minutes longer than it was scheduled, so my TiVo didn't get the last few minutes -- NOT good when your watching a suspenseful movie. I'll have to TiVo it again (plus 15 minutes) to see the ending. Fortunately it's on again soon.
  • As a preacher, I find it intriguing that some stories are more interesting than others. More specifically, I'm intrigued that some stories are told better than others. Some people I really respect have said that it must be some kind of sin to make the Bible boring. Well, there must be a lot of ministers that need to repent. I believe that there's a lot you can learn about narrative storytelling that can be applied to preaching the Bible. But not only is this a lot of work, it's an artform – one which some folks will appreciate while others don't at all.
  • Have you ever been enthralled by a video game, a favorite song, or a hobby of some sort? You can't get enough of it; you spend every second thinking about it, then suddenly, like a switch was flipped, you just don't care anymore? I found an article that talks about that sudden end that comes when you're briefly obsessed with something. I've had it happen with video games several times: one day I'm staying up until 3 in the morning to play just one more level, the next day I quit cold turkey and don't even miss it. I've had Dustin's PlayStation 2 at my house for months but I didn't play it after the second week. Go figure.
  • If you stand in a hurricane and report that the wind is blowing really hard, is that news? I'm just saying.
  • Shannon gave Pellet a bath last week. Pellet is a stuffed toy hamster (and a cute, fat one too) that Tanner (almost 4) has latched on to for as long as we can recall. For countless months, Pellet has gone everywhere Tanner has gone, day or night, and it was beginning to show. Reluctantly, Tanner conceded that Pellet was getting pretty grungy looking and a little stinky too, so into the washing machine he went. He emerged from the dryer, and returned to Tanner's hands, the brightest and best smelling toy in the house. If there is one toy we would pack away as a keepsake, it's the ubiquitous Pellet.
  • I have a minister's meeting that we're hosting tomorrow at Wyandotte. It's just a luncheon for prayer and fellowship. No big deal. That being said, I look forward to it being over! I'm a little stressed over it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Gaggles of Googles

I'm a googler. Are you? I'm hoping that if you're reading this, then you have already discovered how to use google. But I know many novice users that aren't using all of the google tools available to them.

Besides searching for websites, my favorite tool is Google Local. Type in what you're looking for and you get a map, directions, phone number, and addresses of every location within a reasonable distance. I've not picked up a yellow pages in like two years! I also use Google News, I find sattellite images on Google Maps, and I shop online using Froogle. If you need to know something or find something, just google. There's just not many questions that google can't answer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I get countless email forwards containing humorous or devotional material. Here's one I received recently that, though it's not necessarily new, was amusing anyway. It was attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, but I'm guessing he's either not the author, or the jokes have been modified for a Kansan audience. Nevertheless, enjoy.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Kansas.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in Kansas.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Kansas.

If "Vacation" means going east or west on I-70 for the weekend, you live in Kansas.

If you measure distance in hours, you might live in Kansas.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you might live in Kansas.

If you see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings), you might live in Kansas.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you might live in Kansas.

If your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce, you might live in Kansas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pitchin' a Fit

Elijah (18 months) woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. He had a screaming, kicking, beat-the-floor-with-your-fists fit for about an hour or so this morning. Shannon immediately implemented our tried and true method: win this battle no matter how long it takes.

We usually ignore them at first; fit throwing won't gain you anything, in fact you immediately lose Mom and Dad's attention. I make a point of stepping right over them when they do that. When you calm yourself down you earn my attention again. If you refuse to concede defeat after a few moments, we put you in isolation. In this case, back in the crib you go! Once you're done, I mean not even a whimper, and we've established who's really in the driver's seat, then, and only then, do you get your freedom back. Learn to cope kid, because pitchin' a fit won't get you anywhere.

A long, tough hour later… Elijah was back to his sweet, adorable self. It's like he screamed the bad right out of himself.

The isn't the easy road, it's just the one that works. The key is the will to win, no matter what else is going on. As parents we often give in because we're busy or tired or it's otherwise inconvenient. We console ourselves with the most misused maxim in parenting: "You have to pick your battles." But God put you in charge of this child's training. What kind of coach picks his battles over whether his players will run sprints or not? You will always win. You must win, no matter what. But by "win," I don't mean that you get your way; not at all. I mean that the right thing gets done over and above everyone's desires. Here's the priorities for a parent as I see it.
1. God's will (development of character, health, discipline, integrity, etc.)
2. the child's will (if it doesn't conflict with #1)
3. my will (if it doesn't conflict with #1)

The reason my will is last is because part of #1 is modeling selflessness. Part of the training would be the child putting his needs behind others as well. Besides, if you're a hypocrite your child will learn that trait too. Inconsistency is your enemy.

You have 18 years to teach this lesson however-many-thousand times: "Do the right thing!" You just pray that you did it consistently enough for it to stick.

Throwing Stones, part 2

Here's a little more about the vote in Iraq last weekend. I keep trying to tell people that it's historic, but I can't find anyone who cares!

Here's a few notes from the article and other sources: Voter turn out in Iraq (63%) was up compared to last January's elections (58%). By way of comparison, our huge turnout for Bush-Kerry in 2004 was less than 60% and that was up a lot from 54% of eligible voters in 2000 for Bush-Gore. And no one is threatening to blow us up while we wait in line!

It's thrilling to see Iraqis wave their purple, ink-stained fingers with pride. My question is why don't we do that in this country to prevent fraud? Voter fraud would be seriously reduced, I'd think, and I'd like it better than those little "I voted" stickers.

Attacks on voting places in January numbered 347. This weekend there were only 13. Way to go!

Harold C. Hutchison says,
"The American strategy of bringing democracy to Iraq is succeeding. So are the tactics that are being used to implement it. While the results are unknown, just the fact that the elections were held and were mostly violence-free is a victory in and of itself. The fact remains that the United States is achieving its objectives, while al Qaeda is not – al Qaeda is even failing to prevent the American objectives from being met. By any objective standard, al Qaeda is losing the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only places they seem to be winning are in a number of newsrooms in the United States…"

Monday, October 17, 2005

Throwing Stones

I've been stymied trying to figure out why people are so negative toward Bush and what we're doing in Iraq.

Should we be "pro-war"? Well, of course not. But unless you subscribe to the strictest forms of pacifism, there are still some things worth fighting for. And the fight in Iraq lands squarely in that category.

Myth #1: We're fighting for a lie, or Bush lied, or the only single reason we ever had to even look cross-eyed at Iraq was WMD.

No, President Bush couldn't have lied. To say he lied means that he somehow knew what the CIA, British and Russian Intelligence, Clinton, and perhaps Saddam himself did not know -- that there were no deployed and working WMD in Iraq. The President would have to be clairvoyant to have been able to lie on this subject.

Instead Bush presented the WMD issue as one part of the overall threat a dictator like Saddam posed. Supporting terrorism (remember that Saddam was paying suicide bombers in Israel) with nearly unlimited financial resources was one of the main issues actually at play.

But if you're looking for a connection to the War on Terror consider the following:
  • To remove a terror supporting regime fits the overall goal of winning the War on Terror.
  • To draw terrorists to a battlefield there instead of here is a wise move in the War on Terror.
  • To sow democracy and liberty in that part of the world as a long term solution to undermine the roots of Islamic terrorism is fundamental to actually winning the War on Terror.

Myth #2: We're really there to steal the oil.

Ok, then we must officially be the most inept thieves in history because the last time I checked the lack of oil was putting gas prices well above two dollars a gallon.

Myth #3: Democracy can't work in the Middle East.

Is it going to be difficult? Yes. But to say it is impossible is simply racist. It took us years to establish a working democratic form of government in this country – it will take a while there also. That said, we're successfully moving along at a very rapid pace.

And what goal could possibly be more virtuous than to selflessly fight for the liberty of other people? American soldiers have been doing that for over a century. It's our greatest contribution to civilization since the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Myth #4: We've suddenly offended our Allies.

Oh, you mean the French? Read a history book – they've been offended by us to one degree or another for a very long time. We're an offensive bunch. But we also tend to save the world's collective behinds on a regular basis, so cut us some slack. Besides if you have someone mad at you, it probably means you've stood up for something once in your life. Leaders tend to draw criticism.

Myth #5: We're losing the war in Iraq.

We are? How many times do the Iraqis have to meet deadlines and accomplish historic feats to convince people that this is working. No war of this type has done this much with so little bloodshed. Never have troops been so well protected and cared for. Never has so much been dramatically changed with so little upheaval to the civilian population. Again, we need some historic perspective. The history books a generation from now will marvel at what has been done here. All we can seem to do now is gripe about the inconveniences.


Again, I'm not for war. But as a history buff, I feel like people are turning a blind eye to reality simply because they don't personally like the President.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Snobbery of Connoisseurs

There are plenty of things in which I have preferences. I like my newspaper previously unread and untouched and the spines of my books uncreased. But it only goes so far. I'll still read the paper if it's been torn apart and folded backwards. I'll still keep a book that's falling apart.

But some folks make me laugh with their prissiness. They have drawn lines in the sand that they just cannot bring themselves to cross. They are incarcerated in self-imposed prisons by pride and snobbery and peer pressure. I've seen people go without basic necessities because they wouldn't be caught dead in a certain store or wearing a certain brand of clothes.

I figure beggers can't be choosers. We have some pretty nice stuff because we've compromised in other areas. Most of our clothes fall into three categories: gifts, goodwill, and garage sales. Our kids are dressed nice but it's mostly used. Instead of twenty-five dollars for a shirt, Shannon will find the same thing, nearly new, for a dollar, literally. That adds up fast.

There are precious few things in which nitpicking adds virtue. Are you nitpicking over truth and integrity? That's worth it. But if you're nitpicking about Lexus verses Honda or Gucci verses Reebok? Well, you'll end up paying for that in more ways than one.

Materialism has a spiritual cost. You have to give up a bit of yourself to invest in a "thing." And it rarely gives back anything of value. In contrast to that if you invest selflessly, say in the life of another person or in strengthening a relationship, then the return can be enormous.

The next time you think you need something, consider what it actually costs.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Random Thoughts 10/13/05

  • Several men from the church are going to a men's retreat at church camp this weekend. I'm looking forward to it but not real eager to be away from home overnight. I'll miss prayer time with the boys and evenings with my bride. I'll especially miss Elijah going to bed. He tottles over to me and gives me a big wet kiss and then stubles upstairs and attempts to climb into his crib. Words don't do justice to express how cute it is.
  • I saw a few t-shirts online with pictures of communist revolutionary Che Guevara. They had captions that read, "Communism killed 100 million people and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." "This t-shirt brought to you by capitalism." and "Commies aren't cool." Made me giggle.
  • 3500 posts! I've got friends (really, I do!) and family reading this in mulitple states (countries?). Thanks for reading my blog.
  • One of the funnier things I've seen lately has been the "Cpt Wedley: Bn Diciplinator" video from last year (that's "Captain Wedley: Battalion Disciplinator" for the uninformed). Pretty funny stuff. You can find it at this site but only if you have Windows Media Player installed, which didn't work very well for me even on a cable connection. Go figure, it's windows; good luck with that. Still, it's worth the effort if you need a good laugh.
  • The chain has been broken! The associate minister here at our church has been telling everyone the good news: they're expecting a girl! Among the three ministers that have been at Wyandotte, we've had seven boys and no girls, so this is welcome news. Shannon and I still have to wait a few more weeks to find out about Altic baby 4.0.
  • Speaking of babies, I listened to a radio interview this morning with the proud parents of 16 children. And get this, they're planning number 17… [squints and rubs temples] …uh, yeah… that's reasonable. But with people like that, the rest of can have four or five without anyone batting an eye, right? Realistically, we're going to use our God-given, Spirit-led DISCERNMENT to determine if we ever go beyond the four we have now. And no, letting nature take it's course with zero application of wisdom is NOT necessarily "letting God decide." Using that logic, you could let God decide the length of your hair and see what happens. God must be anti-short-hair and every haircut must be a sinful defiance of God's Will for your follicles. Don't get me wrong, I'm for big families, but 17?! Let's be responsible stewards here. I'd bet that very few couples are truly called to go that far.
  • And one more thing: look at what actually happened in the largest families of the Bible – almost nothing but bad news. So don't bite off more than you can chew! If there are so many children that Mom and Dad can't do the training they're called by God to do and instead you have siblings doing the parenting, then you ought to reconsider the wisdom of what's going on. </soapbox>
  • Elijah is into scolding. He's can't really talk, but he'll wag his finger and give the cat a stern talking to in baby talk. Today he got onto another little kid whose mother lightly rebuked him for hitting her. Well, Eli goes over and sticks his fat little finger in this kid's face and begins dressing him down in gibberish. And he won't stop either; he's determined to talk you to death. I wonder where he gets that?
  • I had a door-to-door Bible salesman visit me tonight at home. I told him he was preaching to the choir and sent him packing. Go bother the pagans next door. God bless!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

KU Basketball

All of the sudden there's an abundance of information about KU hoops.

There's news of the renovation of Allen Field House: It supposedly looks the same but they have done several things including new windows, a new and improved floor (to reduce the risk of injuries), and new lights. This article talks about the noticeable difference:

"We've got more lights, brighter lights and updated fixtures. It's much brighter in there, so bright that most strobe lights will be unnecessary this year… The building was 45 footcandle last year and is going to 235 footcandle -- quite a difference."

The article also says that in the past, visiting teams would ask when the lights would be turned up. Not any more.

The same article also says a little about the incoming freshmen:

"Top class: on Monday rated KU's recruiting class of Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers and Micah Downs No. 1 in the country. Oklahoma State was No. 2."

I saw Wright, Chalmers, and Downs play in the McDonald's All-American game. Chalmers especially was impressive, handling the ball, scoring, passing, playing tough defense, etc. He would have been the game's MVP if his team had won. Chalmers, who hails from Alaska, also won the three point contest. Micah Downs, in contrast, reminds me more of the many BTWGs (big timid white guys) of KU's past, of which Nick Collison was the exception that proved the rule. Here's hoping the best for Micah.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Geaux Figure

The Saints will not be able to play in New Orleans this year. They were welcomed to their home-away-from-home with this sign:

When you realize that this isn't actually French (and that French spelling has no concept of phonics) then you'll get it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Random Thoughts 10/7/05

  • Today is my parents' wedding anniversary. They've been married about a gazillion years. Congrats! My wife pointed out that it's increasingly unusual to find people who've been married longer than you've been alive… including many parents.
  • Have I mentioned that I have a problem with quitters? It's one thing to drag your feet. It's problematic if you're doing everything wrong. But when you just throw up your hands and quit in the middle of something? Well, you better have a really, really, really, really, reeeeeeeealy good reason. Really.
  • Have you seen my kids lately? They're honkin' cute. Especially the short, fat one.

  • There are few things more interesting (to me) than the Ask a Rocket Scientist feature over at They only answer questions about once a week or so, but still, it's fascinating.
  • We're having a work day at the church tomorrow. There's all kinds of projects to do but the main attraction is working with the people that will be there.
  • Kansas City is getting an arena league football team to be named later. They should start next year in Kemper Arena and then move to the new Sprint Center when it opens. In the first 24 hours they had two thousand people put down deposits on season tickets. KC is definitely a football town.
  • Speaking of football, my fantasy team is 3-1 and tops in most statistical categories. Donovan McNabb and Torry Holt are keeping me going. Go Warhawks!

Of Mice and Men

Shannon called and said she wasn't feeling well. Headache, sick to her stomach, fatigued… I think she's come down with a severe case of pregnancy…

Speaking of blastocysts and embryonic stem cell research… I read some good articles over at Christianity Today. This one is a bit lengthy, but well worth it, especially if you're into the issues of bioethics. There's another, more accessible, article that is titled, "Live Patients & Dead Mice." It's by David A. Prentice and is definitely worth reading. But the link was broken when I blogged so just do a search for the title and author and enjoy.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Different Dichotomy

It seems that when we compare and contrast relationships, our kneejerk reaction is to divide them into two categories: those folks who are doing it right and those who are doing it wrong. You ask what kind of parent or spouse is this person? Are they getting along or causing problems? And we readily assign them to one group or the other.

But I believe it's almost always more complicated than that. First off, relationships are like batting averages and nobody is batting a thousand. Usually managing a relationship is a matter of accomplishing a percentage of what you should have done or limiting your mistakes and miscues to a bare minimum. But nobody does everything right. You strive to improve your performance by winning little victories over selfishness, pride, and sheer laziness. A lot of criticism of our loved ones is little more than shooting fish in a barrel. They make mistakes because they're human, not because they are especially flawed.

And that leads to a second element vital to human relationships: intent. The motive of the heart actually does count for something. In fact, it may count for more than the action itself. Jesus made a point about anger, lust, fidelity, honesty, and revenge in the Sermon on the Mount: if you don't have these things squared away in your heart, it's the same as if you'd actually committed the crime.

So are there still two categories of relationships? Yes, because you have those who are trying to do it their own way (this includes those who've stopped trying entirely), and you have those you are trying to do it God's way. God's way is patient, selfless, long-suffering, honest and forgiving. It's harder and takes more time and you'll never fully master it in this world, but it's the only way to make a relationship of any kind work.

Everyone experiences failure in relationships, probably on a daily basis. But are you determined to let God have control? Will you honor Him with your faithfulness and integrity? Will you treat others with the same grace that you've been given? The answers to these questions will sort our marriages and parenting and friendships into two piles, those that are unraveling and those that are being blessed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birthday Thoughts

Did I have a good day? Well, lets see:

  • Slept in.
  • Took a walk with the family.
  • Browsed a book store.
  • Had Red Lobster steak and shrimp for lunch. Mmmm, cheddar-biscuits.
  • Ate homemade enchiladas for dinner. I can barely move now.
  • Read a good book in my easy chair for about an hour, then watched a movie.
  • Taught Brennan and Tanner the version of the birthday song that ends, "you smell like a monkey and look like one too!" My apologies in advance to the parents of crying birthday boys and girls.
  • Spent time with my wife and kids, with virtually no interruptions.

Yeah, not bad. Not bad at all.

A Word From Mrs. Thumper

Hi I'm Shannon, Jared's wife. Today is my husband's 29th birthday. He writes so much about the boys and I, I just thought I would give you a little insight into the man we call Daddy. I met Jared when I was 15 and it was obvious to me then that I had found a rare treasure. A man at 16 who was wise beyond his years and had a faith greater than most adults. I am proud to say that he is my husband, my best friend, my minister, the spiritual leader of our home, and the best Daddy in the whole world. Our son Brennan is so in love with his daddy that he afraid to go to bed at night for fear he might "miss daddy." He insists that the only cure for this is sleeping with Jared. I wish you could see into our living room each night (not really that would be creepy) and watch Daddy wrestle with his three little boys. They abuse him, but he doesn't mind. Rolling, jumping, giggling. The boys are quite strategic in their attacks. I can't wait to see who our little men develop into. I am sure they will be strong men of God who have an amazing respect and love of the women in their lives. My boys tell me daily how much they love me, how pretty I am, and how good I smell. They watch as their daddy takes great responsibility for his family and great love for his wife. God has blessed us with Jared and I wanted to share a glimpse of him with you. Happy Birthday Jared. We love you.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Here's Looking At You

Shannon and I watched Casablanca last night. It's amazing how many quotes you get out of that show. Here's just a sampling.

Annina: Monsieur Rick, what kind of a man is Captain Renault?
Rick: Oh, he's just like any other man, only more so.
Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget.
Ilsa: No.
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.
Rick: I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.
Senor Ferrari: Might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles.
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!
Rick: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Ilsa: I wish I didn't love you so much.

Yes, Viriginia, There is a Blog

Sorry that I've not blogged in a few days. I try to blog every day and I have stuff to blog about more often than that, but sometimes you just can't find the time to sit down at the computer.