Friday, March 31, 2006

Random Thoughts 3/31/06

  • Brennan stepped on a rusty nail early Thursday, which means he got a tetanus shot Thursday afternoon. He didn't handle the bleeding toe very well and getting the shot in his thigh went over like a lead balloon. But Friday evening his thigh began to really swell, from hip to knee it was half as big again as the other leg and feverish to the touch at the site of his injection. We called the doctor and we'll be watching it closely for the next day or so.
  • We had a family get-together Friday evening to celebrate Graham's homecoming. Grandparents and cousins and all the usual suspects filled the house and enjoyed Shannon's cooking. She fixed her amazing rolls, BBQ beef, and some incredible cheese dip. Our friend Dana, the awesome cake lady, made a "Welcome Home" cake. Both the cake and the evening were awesome!
  • My anonymous friend is back on the blog, forcing me to delete some comments that contained explicit profanity. I really try to give people like that enough rope to hang themselves but I have to draw the line somewhere. No big deal over all, just a lot of blathering that shows they don't really know me at all; kind of sad really. And it only takes two clicks to make a profane comment disappear forever.
  • The vote to spend $800 million on the old stadiums here in KC is next Tuesday and only the voters in Jackson County, Missouri can vote. Dustin is seriously thinking of going down to protest; I just hope it doesn't pass. For $800 million, couldn't you build new stadiums? I'd go for that.

I Will Survive, Episode 7

**Spoiler Warning**
Do not read this post if you haven't yet seen this week's episode of Survivor.

…you've been warned!

The destruction of La Mina continues. Yet another member of the former La Mina tribe, Nick, is gone and that tribe has almost ceased to exist, while Casaya has dominated. This is remarkable, since most observers (including many of the actual contestants) thought it would be the other way around.

Yet the former Casaya tribe's success seems to be inevitable and unstoppable. I want it to stop but there's nothing I can do. There were a couple of things that could have been done though, one might still happen and the other was a longshot.

First, the La Mina remnant could've sown seeds of discontent, making any and every inroad possible, fracturing the dysfunctional Casaya Six. The previews hint that this may yet happen, though it seems too late for La Mina as a unit. Second, Terry could have lost the immunity challenge on purpose, tempting the others to vote him off, thus using his immunity idol and throwing the balance of power. Like I said, it was a long shot and Terry probably wasn't thinking that abstractly while hanging upside down from a beam.

At this point, I'm thinking that Aras and Danielle may be favorites to win unless Terry takes one of them down with his immunity idol. But Cirie, Bruce, and Shane don't seem likely to survive the top four or five and Courtney just doesn't seem stable. I haven't completely written off Terry and Austin but who knows?

Random Observations:
  • Where's the medical emergency? They have been showing video of someone being removed by stretcher for almost a month, but it hasn't happened yet. So much for truth in advertising.
  • Sally didn't immediately defect after the merge, hmmm. And Casaya was completely unified! Go figure.
  • Alas, poor Nick, we barely knew ye. Some people just don't get the screen time that others do.
  • Is it to Terry's advantage to tell everyone that he has the Idol? Does the threat of inadvertantly knocking yourself out of the game keep you from voting for him at all? Otherwise you have to vote for him twice and sacrifice one of your own and who's going to fall on the sword just to get rid of Terry?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Can't Go Home Again

I made the mistake of driving past the place where I grew up a few days ago. I was in the area on business and couldn't resist driving down the same old familiar road. I could have driven down that road and pulled in to that driveway with my eyes closed.

Having my eyes closed would have helped.

Growing up we had a nice place. It was large house on high ground with beautiful, well-groomed trees and big yard. It was neat and clean and cared for. It was vibrant and welcoming.

Now… not so much.

It's so sad how things have changed. Now it's desolate. Everything is gray and unpainted, broken and buried under junk metal and trash. The yard has deep ruts scarring it in several places (we generally avoided driving in the yard). The outbuildings are in disrepair and whole property is littered with debris of every kind. There's a whole swath of trees that have died and are gone now. The other trees and bushes have grown wild and look horrible. The ditches haven't been mowed since we left nor the hedge trimmed. I was half surprised they bothered to change the name on the mailbox.

I almost had the nerve to go knock on the door and complain. Why don't you take care of your stuff?! How can you let this look so awful?! Aren't you embarrassed?!

In the movie Gone With the Wind, Scarlett is told, "Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that Tara, that land, doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts."

Sorry but no. The land does not define our family and it never will. That property belongs to other people now and it's no use being upset about what happens to hedges and outbuildings. All of the trees and structures were destined to fall down someday. In this case, someday is now.

But our family and faith goes ever on…

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Of Snips and Snails and Puppy Dogs' Tails

As a father of four, you'd think I'd be more qualified to answer this, but…

Do you think it is easier to raise boys or girls? And why?

I've heard families with all girls say that a boy would be an impossible terror to live with. Likewise, I've heard parents of boys shudder with fear at the thought of managing a girl day to day. What do you think?

Oh, and one more question…

Would you rather have your children spaced close together (less than 3 years between) or spread out (more than 3 years between)?

Again, I'm not in a position to know; I had my four children in five and a half years.

The Disturbed in Hollywood

I have a few thoughts on the Oscars before it disappears completely in the rearview mirrow.

First, we watched Capote last night and I completely understand why Philip Seymour Hoffman won. Hoffman didn't win for having a lisp or acting flamboyantly. For Hoffman, it was just the opposite – he played the subtle nuances that led you to the conclusion by the end of the movie that Truman Capote may have been more deeply disturbed than the two vicious killers he was researching.

Of course it also helped that he played an eccentric person from real life. says,
Biographies of remarkable, real-life individuals (military figures or soldiers, law-and-order enforcers, historical figures) and portrayals of the mentally ill are heavily represented among male Oscar winners, particularly in the acting awards. It helps an actor's chances of winning an Oscar if the character dies a tragic death during the movie, or is slightly eccentric (or genius). An overwhelming number of actors have won the top acting (and supporting) awards for portraying characters with physical or mental disabilities or diseases (handicaps, tics, etc.).
There's more interesting analysis and trivia about the best actor award here.

Oh, and just in case you've been swept off your feet by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, here's a short aricle by Ben Stein to snap you back to reality. It's worth a quick read.

A Rare Moment

Like a shooting star, a hole-in-one, and clean diapers, here's a rare opportunity to see Graham with his eyes open.

Graham has been sleeping pretty much all of the time. We're sure that won't last long.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Written Off

In the Army when a vehicle is damaged and retrieved from the battlefield a decision must be made: Is it better to repair this vehicle or replace it? In many cases if the repairs cost more than a replacement, the vehicle is just written off. It's not worth fixing.

The Church suffers from the many people who see their brokenness and are paralyzed by it. Haunted by what they've done or what's been done to them, they assess the damage and say, "Nah, it's not worth fixing."

But God looks at them and says, "Yeah, I can do something with that."

The Church certainly has folks who are wounded and broken but don't know it or won't admit it and they bleed all over the place for everyone to see. They can do a lot more damage if they're not pulled off the line and there are special ways to help them. But I think those folks are relatively rare. Much more common are those who are overly conscious of their sinfulness and forgetful of God's grace.

God can fix what is broken in us and make it useful for His purposes. In fact, some niches can only be filled by those who are "refurbished." Just think of what the Church could accomplish if we had the full resources of all of those mended people.

We Live There Too

A college kid named Skyler decided to do an experiment: Can you actually live at Wal-Mart? Skyler Bartels roamed the aisles of Wal-Mart for forty-one hours, eating, sleeping, getting his hair washed at the salon, even straightening the shelves for hours on end. Read more about what he did and who he met at Wal-Mart here.

I don't see what the big deal is. We've been living at Wal-Mart for years.

Random Sports Thoughts 3/27/06

  • If there are no one-seeds that make the final four but you do you have a two, a three, a four, and an eleven-seed in the finals, didn't the selection committee just not seed them very well?
  • Joey Harrington, the failed Detroit Lions QB, is asking for $4.5 million to be Trent Green's backup with the Chiefs. A former first round pick, Harrington has struggled mightily and the Lions are done with him. Yet his agent wants the same money in a new contract that Harrington was going to earn in his old one. Personally, I'd like to see Harrington join the Chiefs because I think he could be our QB for the future. But so far, he's shown nothing that demands big money.
  • We may not want to expect much from the Chiefs' defense again this year. Kansas City isn't doing a thing on the Free Agent market and now Coach Herm Edwards says he is ready and willing to play and even start rookies this year. Uh… coach, did you just commit to starting players you haven't even met yet? In my estimation, the Chiefs lack of free agent acquisitions (and Ron "I've-never-heard-of-me-either" Edwards doesn't count) shows that they may be in the rebuilding mode and that means two things: First, we may not be winning a lot games in the near future. Second, players considering retirement may as well do so.
  • Only eight more days until voters give the Chiefs and Royals an unseemly amount of money to do embarrasingly little in a poorly conceived plan for an overly hyped cause. Save our stadiums – puh-leeze! Hundreds of millions for a makeover is criminal and these teams aren't leaving. If you're in Jackson County, vote NO!
  • Your Kansas City Brigade Arena Football Team is now 1-8 and 0-5 in its division. Yikes! And they're getting a new stadium too (but that's different).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Graham is Home

Graham is home and doing well (6 lbs 14 oz now). He has a clean bill of health from the doctor and has surprisingly few restrictions. We can even go out in public with him but we're naturally pretty hesitant. We are planning on being very careful, so please no visitors for a few days.

The boys are acting out a bit, especially Elijah. He'd been very kind to Graham until Graham had been home for about five or ten minutes. Then Elijah began to object, "Bye, bye, baby, bye, bye. My mama, [growling under his breath] ba-beee, my mama."

Hmmm, we may want to keep an eye on that.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Random Thoughts 3/24/06

  • Do the computer geeks in Silicon Valley call the San Francisco 49ers the 110001-ers?
  • Public opinion is slowly turning against abortion. A new Zogby survey revealed that Americans are trending toward the sanctity of human life. The survey asked for opinions on the following: abortion ends a human life (59% agree, 29% disagree); abortion because of the sex of the fetus (86% agree should be illegal, 10% disagree should be illegal); when life begins (50% believe it begins at conception, 19% believe life begins at birth); a 24-hour waiting period (56% agree with waiting period, 37% disagree); laws that charge a person who kills a pregnant woman with two murders (64% agree with such laws, 23% disagree).
  • Bob Huggins was confirmed as K-State's new basketball coach Thursday. *Insert snide remark about Aggieville bars and intoxicated driving here* Actually, I hope a coach as talented as Huggins will be able to draw better recruits to the "Little Apple" of Manhattan, Kansas. Something tells me that kids playing in New York or Los Angeles, who've never heard of the other Manhattan, might just recognize the name "Bob Huggins."
  • Are you as offended as me by the three peace activists that claimed to be "released" when as a matter of fact they were rescued by commandos who raided the house and untied them? And the religious organization they belong to and the families involved are still calling the rescuers "illegal occupiers" and still showing sympathies toward the terrorists who murdered one of their group. They say they blame American troops for causing the terrorists to take them captive. I guess I just don't understand.
  • The BBC took a survey (in the UK of course) showing that 1 in 4 parents had an adult child living at home and that 1 in 7 have re-mortgaged or taken out a loan to support them. I moved out at 18, went to college, and got married (and have a great relationship with my folks, thanks) – so chalk this up as another phenomenon I don't understand.
  • We haven't gotten the bill yet for Graham, but we've been told it will be significantly larger than our mortgage. This should be interesting.

Graham Update 3/24/06

Graham is doing great. He has to finish his antibiotics and then we expect him home tomorrow. He's eating well and breathing well and was able to leave the nursery for the first time this morning. We couldn't be more thankful! We're doing well also; good news is a tremendous analeptic.

Graham's hair seems to be blond or at least it has blond highlights. He reminds us most of Brennan at this point but babies change fast.

Please understand that we may not be passing him around to be held by everyone for awhile. In fact, when we do venture out, we'd ask that he not be touched or held by anyone but Mom until he's a bit further along. We hope you understand.

Misunderstanding of Scripture

You gotta love it when politicians attempt to connect with religious folk by referencing Biblical imagery. My cynical side imagines that every politician, regardless of personal conviction, has a some "religious talk" up their sleeve, ready to be used at a moment's notice. Just drop God into your speeches now and then and you'll appear religious! Ugh…

The latest offender is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. And, God bless her, it was more than a little amusing. She had a press conference to denounce tougher legislation against illegal aliens, specifically the part where helping illegal aliens would be criminalized. She said, "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."

What? Um, what exactly is your understanding of scripture, Senator? The helper in the story was actually the foreigner, not the citizen, and illegal immigration wasn't an issue. And does the Senator think that Jesus violated civil laws or perhaps sanctioned law breaking? I'm not seeing the Biblical connection here. This looks like a shallow appeal to the many devout Catholics who also oppose this bill.

In fact, if Hillary would look a little closer, there is quite a bit in the Bible about helping the foreigners among us. But you're still not going to find support for breaking a law and that is probably the key issue here.

But the biggest misunderstanding of scripture here is actually the position that President Bush champions and I cringe everytime I hear it. He says that we should allow illegals to work here because they'll do jobs Americans won't do. Actually, one study said that 20% of illegals work in construction while only 4% are believed to work in agriculture. Nevertheless, cheap (slave?) labor is very good for business owners and brings low prices to American consumers. But is that just ok? Maybe the President should read scriptures like the following:

James 5:4 "For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty."

Micah 3:5 "At that time I will put you on trial. I will be a ready witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty."

Mr. President, one question please; is it moral to profit from the labor of people whom you admit we as a nation are underpaying?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

You Might Be a Church Kid

I read this list at Church last week and got a few giggles, so I thought I'd share it here. Some of these are not original with me.

Growing up in the Church, though I wouldn't trade it for anything, does bring out some idiosyncracies in a person. So with all apologies to Rabbi Foxworthy…

You might be a Church Kid if…
  • you've never seen the kickoff of a Sunday Noon football game.
  • you thought the term "Frozen Chosen" described your parents when you were young but it doesn't describe you now.
  • you think "sword drills" are for children.
  • you know what "sword drills" are.
  • you paid for college with scholarships from Bible Bowl and Church Camp.
  • you think that any church with more than 200 people is just "a big social club."
  • you've seriously considered stoning a sibling.
  • you think of James Dobson as extended family.
  • you've never sung the 3rd verse of any hymn.
  • when you hear the word "fellowship," you immediately think "dinner."
  • you've owned more khaki pants than a clerk at the GAP.
  • you can only picture Jesus as a paper cut-out on a flannelgraph.
  • you know what a flannelgraph is.
  • you're against adultery because it might lead to dancing.

The Will to Win

What happens if we give up on Iraq? According to this Opinion Journal article, it's the following:

  • The U.S. loses all credibility on weapons proliferation
  • Broader Mideast instability
  • The U.S. loses all credibility with Muslim reformers
  • The U.S. invites more terrorist attacks on American soil
It concludes, "We still believe victory in Iraq is possible, indeed likely, notwithstanding its costs and difficulties. But the desire among so many of our political elites to repudiate Mr. Bush and his foreign policy is creating a dangerous public pessimism that could yet lead to defeat--a defeat whose price would be paid by all Americans, and for years to come."

A person without mettle will back down in the face of resistance; he sheepishly forfeits his position not because he's wrong but because he is opposed. This is not a foreign policy, it's a character flaw.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Graham Doing Well

Graham has been both breathing and eating well today. Shannon has been able to nurse him without any problems and Graham will probably lose his feeding tube tomorrow.

We're hoping the photogenic little rascal will be ready to come home by Saturday when he finishes his anti-biotics. Please continue to pray for us.

10000 Hits

We arrived at 10,000 hits this morning (actually I logged on at 9999 and refreshed once).

Thank you so much for reading. I'll have more updates soon on Graham, the Sweet 16, and about a dozen other things I work on in my spare time. God bless.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Graham Update 3/21/06

Graham is gradually improving. He's still under the oxygen hood but that may soon be a thing of the past. He's being fed through a tube right now but we're hoping he'll be able to nurse sometime in the next day or two. Keep praying – he's steadily moving in the right direction.

UPDATE: Graham is attempting to go without the oxygen hood right now (4:30pm). We'll see how that goes. Please pray for him.

UPDATE: Graham has been off the oxygen supply for several hours now (11:00pm) and doing well. They have removed the line in his umbilical and are weaning him from the IV. He has been fed today (via the tube to his stomach) and we're expecting him to nurse tomorrow. If he continues to do well, we may see him home in just a few days.


I fully support our President, our Troops, and their Mission to liberate people from tyranny and Islamic fascism. But our Commander in Chief, God bless him, is probably one of the worst communicators in Presidential history. He can take the simplest statement and make it awkward and unwieldy. But President Bush's values and convictions, if combined with former President Clinton's charisma and ability to connect, would elevate a Chief Executive to the level of Lincoln and Washington (and Reagan?).

That said, the seething hatred I hear reserved for President Bush reminds me most of how the press treated Lincoln – unreserved disgust and condescension with slanderous accusations of warmongering and the second-guessing of every decision. The parallels are remarkable (starting with Helen Thomas). Along the same vein, some of the Presidents who were most popular during their actual terms were men with serious and ongoing moral problems (Clinton? Kennedy? Roosevelt?).

Personal magnetism and personal integrity seem to be rare traits to find in the same person.

Anyway, I saw this bumper sticker and had to giggle a little. I think it's pro-Bush.

Does Oprah Make You Stupid?

According to a recent scientific study of older women, those with a preference for daytime talk shows and soap operas had lower scores on memory, attention, and other cognitive skills. Women in the study who preferred news programs scored higher.

I've suspected this for years. The few times I've sat down and watched an episode of Oprah (I try to catch one per decade just to keep up), I could feel the brain cells dying. Most television shows have similar results; after the mindless dribble and emoting is finished, you may actually know less about the subject at hand. It's been said that you have more brain activity while asleep than while watching tv and I can believe it – daytime tv doesn't generally promote critical thinking.

The question about this study, however, is whether the tv shows are the cause or the effect. Does the passive reception of emotional dreck cause the loss of cognitive skill? Or does the loss of cognitive skill draw listless people to shows of no consequence?

I'm not against occasional fruitless entertainment (I'm watching Survivor, aren't I?) but we have to recognize what large doses of mindlessness might do to you – you could end up, well… mindless. So go watch the news or a documentary, read a book or work a crossword puzzle. Learn more about the history of world affairs than the history of celebrity affairs. You'll find yourself better equipped to discern the truth if you do.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Good News for Graham

As of Monday night (day 5) Graham is seeing some decent progress. Dr. Yu believes he'll be done with the oxygen hood by tomorrow and can begin feeding then as well (he's been fasting for a couple of days). Once his oxygen needs are under control and his feeding is established, we're home free!

They expect Graham to be home by early next week at the latest.

Brennan, Elijah, and Tanner are coping as best they can.

Throwing Money Away

Here's what I wrote before:

Will the Royals and Chiefs get their old stadiums renovated? At a mere BILLION dollars, it'll be the most expensive renovation ever… anywhere… for anything. We could build new, better, and more attractive stadiums for that kind of money. I'd like to see them build a downtown baseball stadium, implode Kaufman, and build a new and improved Arrowhead stadium with a retractable roof at Truman Sports Complex. Will the teams leave? No, that's an empty threat. Would you lose the chance to host a SuperBowl? No, not if the new stadium is ready by 2015. And if we do lose it, that's ok. Kansas City in February is not the kind of city that would make money on a Super Bowl anyway. And what happens if the voters pass this corporate welfare? We don't get new stadiums in our lifetime, we go to ballgames amidst a construction zone for several years, and we end up with a big, ugly, quonset hut-ish, bi-state eyesore – which we'll see in all it's televised glory as we watch the Super Bowl at home just like every other year. Look at it here at the website for those who actually want this thing. It's a big hideous hangar!

The main argument for funding renovations seems to be emotional – civic pride, fear of the Chiefs and Royals leaving town, etc. – and emotional arguments should always be suspect. Kansas City can do a lot better than this plan. In fact, this is about as bad a plan as you could come up with and it takes advantage of the fact that the average voter doesn't understand basic economics.

There's a lot of information out there if the voters really wanted to look for it. Here's one from Reader's Digest six months ago about sports owners taking advantage of fans. Here's a recent article out of Philadelphia where they paid $394 million for new stadiums a few years ago and it's still not making money. The conclusion here is that taking a financial loss is worth it to keep your ball teams. You may feel that way, but KC is talking about spending twice as much money on the old stadiums. As I stated above, I'd rather see them spend less money on something newer (with the owners kicking in a little more too).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Graham Update 3/19/06

It looks like we are finally getting some good news. Graham has gradually improved this afternoon. We really feel that this is the beginning of the end to all of Grahams trials – see how He answers prayers!

Graham has a number of goals he has to meet, including feeding normally, so we are still looking at more days in the hospital. But his improvement shows that it's not something more mysterious that's causing his problems.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Graham Update 3/18/06, part 2

Graham took a turn for the worse this evening and they had to insert a line to his heart by way of his umbilical cord. That said, more tests revealed his condition to not be as bad as we'd feared and there's a good chance that this is a "darkest before the dawn" sort of thing.

But if Graham doesn't start breathing well on his own, our hospital will have to start consulting with the specialists at Children's Mercy Hospital and there's a chance he'd need to be transferred there.

I can't begin to fully explain all of the scenarios the doctors are looking at. Graham was born pre-term but his lungs may or may not be premature – he may have just aspirated amniotic fluid. He's big for his age (by a couple of pounds), which is good, but that does have some drawbacks as well. There's a small chance that all of this could be something more serious (hence the need to consult the specialists) but everybody seems optimistic that he'll soon recover as most babies in his situation do.

As soon as he can breathe on his own in a normal crib and eat normally and meet a few other basic goals he can come home. Whether that is in the next few days or the next few weeks, nobody knows.

Please keep praying and thank you for your encouragement. Since Shannon has been dismissed, one or both of us will be home most of the time, so please call here first. Even if we're both at the hospital, whoever is watching the boys probably has the most up to date info.

My prayers for Graham tend to run along these lines right now.
  • Prayer for improvement before Sunday night, preventing a transfer to Children's Mercy and clarifying his situation.
  • Wisdom for the doctors. This isn't the kind of thing that a simple test reveals. Some things they just can't know for certain until after he recovers (or fails to recover).
  • Steady improvement so that he can come home in the next week.
  • Prevention/healing of any long term problems.

Graham Update 3/18/06

Graham is still under the oxygen hood. They are going to insert a feeding tube this morning but they're hopeful he may be able to nurse normally later today or tomorrow. In spite of everything, he's really doing well for a premature baby, though he did take the KU loss rather hard.

Shannon gets dismissed today but should be able to stay at the hospital to be near Graham.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Graham Ryker Altic

Graham Ryker Altic was born at 4:22pm, March 16, 2006, after a brief 30 hour delay. Though a bit premature (c. 35 weeks), he weighed in at a stout 6 lbs. 13 oz and was 20 inches long.
They put him on oxygen and an intravenous line because he's too early and is having trouble breathing. Because of this he may be in the hospital for a week or more, but we're hoping his size works in his favor.

Shannon delivered naturally – no meds and no doctor! The medication part was on purpose, the doctor part was on accident. After waiting a day and half with contractions every two minutes, you'd think they would be ready! But four nurses rushed in at the last minute to take care of things, though Graham shot out onto the bed with no one there to catch him. Poor guy. I cut the cord and was standing there with a dumb smile on my face and bloody scissors in my hand when the doctor came rushing in.

Graham gets his middle name from my father, Richard. Ryker is a Dutch variation of the name. My middle name is also Richard. He's also picking up a number of pet names and terms of endearment, including: Graham Cracker, Grammy, Golden Graham, Milligram, and Grambo.

We'll accept visitors starting tomorrow but you may not be able to see Graham up close for a few more days.

The Long Haul

Shannon has progressed very little as of 11:00am Thursday. She's caught in limbo right now – too far (5 cm, 70%) to be sent home or have her labor stopped artificially but not far enough along (36 weeks) to induce her.

I'm home just for a pit stop. Thanks to both Grandmas and my family and the Dilley's for getting us through the last 24 hours. Hopefully, we'll have little Graham in the next 24 hours.

Oh, and please no visitors. We're absolutely drained and exhausted. We've walked miles in the hallways of the hospital and have slept hardly at all; Shannon hasn't eaten since breakfast Wednesday. When we finally have this baby, we'll need some rest, first and foremost.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Beware the Ides of March

Shannon is in the hospital right now at 4 cm and 50% and progressing. This is a little early for Graham to be here but he's kind of big too. We'll see. Please pray for us.

UPDATE: 9:30pm – Nothing has happened in several hours; it looks like it may be an all-nighter. The Ides of March is supposed to be a bad omen and today has been a long, miserable day, especially for Shannon. Keep praying for us.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Soul Sleeping Thru Theology 101

I recently heard of a minister who took the opportunity of the funeral sermon to tell the bereaved that their dearly-departed was NOT in the presence of the Lord. Did he imply that the deceased loved-one was in Hell? No, but he stated that they were sleeping until the Lord returned. You see, this is the problem with mail order theology degrees! I only know of two groups that teach soul-sleep, the Christadelphians and the Seventh-Day Adventists, and both are a few Baptists short of a potluck dinner, if you know what I mean.

Soul sleep is a concept that has been rejected throughout most of church history. The idea of the soul sleeping (along with the body in the grave) until the resurrection is a shaky idea and your support rests in a few lines of Old Testament poetry and the literal understanding (and/or misapplication) of euphemisms. As a rule, poetry and euphemisms are not a good sources for doctrinal positions.

We may often speak of death as a type of sleep and in fact the Bible does do this. But the soul, independent of the body, is not unconscious or obliterated upon death. When someone dies they are in "an intermediate state between death and resurrection and, apparently, [in] a disembodied state; but it is not a limbo of oblivion, for the believer who has died is at home with his Lord, and that is preferable to our present life in the body" (NIV Study Bible notes).

Along with Jesus' words to the thief on the cross and his story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, note the following passages written by the Apostle Paul:
  • "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." 2Cor. 5:8
  • "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" Phil. 1:23
As a rule, always use the clear passages to help you understand the obscure passages. The texts supporting a conscious soul that waits in the presence of the Lord are clear and definitive. The texts supporting an unconscious soul tied to the body are obscure and figurative. It's not even a very good debate with clear teaching on one side and vague implications on the other.

When you assume room temp, as a believer, you'll go to be with the Lord. You're not a ghost and you're not an angel; you're with Jesus. How are you affected by time? I don't know. It may (or may not) seem like mere moments until the final bodily resurrection, but then it happens. Your old body is made new and you rise to rejoin the Lord in both body and spirit to be with him forever in a real, physical eternity. With minor adjustments here and there, this is the standard Christian understanding based on scripture.

Happy Birthday Jayrod

Today is Jay-rod's birthday. I hope you have a good one! God bless!

UPDATE: I let him beat me in Mancala a few times, you know, just to help him feel better about getting old.

March Madness

It's almost time for the NCAA tourney to begin and people everywhere are filling out their brackets.

If you'd like to do something a little different, try the "Sweet 16" game we play each year. Instead of just filling out a bracket, we pick the best sixteen teams in the tournament and rank them best to worst. The best team will get 16 points for each win, the second team will get 15 points and so on until you get to the 16th team which gets one point per win.

If you put them in the correct order, your maximum score would be 477 points. Last year I had 364 points (Thanks for nothing KU and Syracuse – both lost in the first round). The only reason I did that well was because I ranked North Carolina first and they won. That's sixteen points for each of six wins!

If you want to play along, just post your list of of sixteen, in order, in the comments section and I'll keep a running tally as we go along. The cutoff is Thursday morning.

Oh, and what does the winner get? The satisfaction of a job well done.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Overheard At Home 3/12/06

UPDATED: 3/13/06

  • I could hear the boys fighting in the other room when Brennan came running to me crying. "What's wrong son? Why are you crying?" Between sobs, he spat out, "Because I don't want Tanner to tell on me!" Hmmm…
  • Shannon caught Tanner rapidly eating the sugar-substitute Splenda out of the sugar bowl. He was trying to get as much of it polished off as he could, pinching it with his fingers and stuffing it in his mouth. Not only is that gross, it was kind of expensive.
  • Brennan asked for his old curtains back the other day. Shannon had made new curtains, in part to block out the light during nap times. So Brennan and Tanner have long, heavy navy blue curtains. But Brennan wanted his old, flimsy, white curtains back. "Why?" Shannon asked, "Is it because you want to read after bed time?" Busted! Brennan just smiled, he had been pulling his flimsy curtains back and reading his dinosaur books by the light of the street lamp. But the new, heavy duty curtains have hindered his late night study time.
  • Elijah has been mooing when he sees a cow on tv. He also moos at giraffes and horses. I'm not real sure why.
  • Brennan told Shannon this evening, "Mommy you have silver hairs." I'm still trying to comfort her.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Divorced From Reason?

My sermon on divorce was well received I believe. I always think it's going to be worse than it really is. We have several folks who are divorced and they seemed receptive and patient in hearing my explanations. It also helps that I'm not a bigoted loon.

In fact, part of my sermon dealt with the assumptions about divorce that people make that don't actually hold any water. Some people say…

It's no big deal. Really? Try looking at some statistics. It's devastating like almost nothing else. Even a death is only bereaved for a season. But divorce can hang over a family, actively disturbing it for generations. Granted it's not the kind of thing that sends you off the deep end, but it tends to downgrade the lives of everyone involved in almost every way, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Women are almost always worse off and children are wounded for decades after a divorce regardless of age. No wonder God says he hates divorce. The best you can say is that it is less bad than some alternatives.

It leaves a divorced person in a perpetual state of sin. Wow, that's quite an accomplishment. If someone was a murderer, even though they can't undo it, they could repent and be forgiven. But divorced people can't receive this grace? I'm not sure if I can name a sin that carries that kind of stigma.

The divorced person must go back to their first spouse. You've got to be kidding. All of those people I know whose second marriage is a lasting union of two Christians – I should tell them to destroy that good marriage in order to go back to the dysfunction of the first? Why must we ignore the redemption the Lord has brought to their lives?

The divorced person cannot hold office in the church. I know why they say that; the qualifications for Elders include the need for him to be a "one-woman-man." But this seems better applied to mistresses, affairs, and polygamy than divorce. What if a man's first marriage ended before he was a believer? And should remarried widowers also be disqualified by this logic? Just like the previous misconceptions, it misses the point about Grace.

There are countless other facets to this topic – more than can be covered here. But it helps tremendously to understand the historical context in the Bible. Understanding the debates of the time, the chauvinism that existed, and Jesus' counter-cultural responses cause confusing texts to become much clearer.

Consistency also helps. Before you too quickly condemn someone (or dismiss it altogether), consider the whole counsel of scripture. Don't withhold mercy or sanction selfishness but instead speak the truth in love. There's not been a lot of that in some churches.

Hail Damaged

We had an incredible hail storm before church this morning. There were about 15 of us already at church when we got news of a tornado warning and the sky turned dark. The wind blew and and it rained just a little but then we heard loud sounds like gunshots.

At first we almost laughed at the sight of these hailstones hitting the ground. It was so loud and they hit so hard – like they were shot out of a cannon. And they were huge! A little larger than golfballs (racquetballs maybe?) they exploded when they hit the pavement and bounced on the grass. It was such an awesome sight as it intensified to the point you wouldn't dare stick your arm outside for fear of being hit. It was pouring hailstones and a hit looked like it might be lethal!

There were only six or eight cars in the parking lot but a new VW Bug had it's windshield broken in several places and the back window on my Honda was shattered into thousands of pieces. I had broken glass filling my backseat and even on my dashboard. All of our vehicles had serious hail damage.

When we got home after church even the siding on our house had been punctured in several places. Yikes!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Glutton for Punishment

I've felt like I've been in the shadow of the gallows all week.

You see I'm preaching about divorce from Matthew 5 Sunday. Thus I will probably be looking for gainful employment on Monday (just kidding… I hope). There's hardly a topic under the sun that can so quickly upset people like divorce can. People assume judgment and condemnation when it's not there and others provide it when it's not necessary. I can't wait to wade into that killing field.

Anyway… here's a couple of statistical notes that I found while doing research for the sermon.

Percentage of married people who reach their 5th, 10th, 15th, 25th, 35th, and 50th anniversaries:
5th: 82%
10th: 65%
15th: 52%
25th: 33%
35th: 20%
50th: 5%

[Shannon and I will have our 10th anniversary in a few months.]

The average first marriage that ends in divorce is almost eight years long.
The average wait before getting remarried is about three years.
The average second marriage that ends in divorce only lasts seven years.
Almost two-thirds of second marriages end in divorce.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Growth Spurt?

I guess that our due date has kinda changed again. We were almost certain of April 14, but…

Shannon had an appointment this morning and Graham has grown! The doctor says Graham has grown to where he measures 38 weeks and as much as 7 pounds already. Yet he's only about 35 weeks and change. Thankfully, he's reaching the point where it's safe for him to arrive a few weeks early, and he's certainly large enough, so our doctor won't stop labor if he comes any day now.

And if we make it to April? We're looking at a nine pound plus baby. Good luck with that Shannon!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I Will Survive, Week 6

**Spoiler Warning**
Do not read this post if you haven't yet seen this week's episode of Survivor.

…you've been warned!

NO! Say it ain't so! The Alliance is broken!

The guys are forced into voting off one of their own (Dan the Astronaut), leaving Terry, Nick & Austin at a huge disadvantage. Or at least they would be if the Casaya tribe wasn't a dysfunctional bunch of nuts. Casaya's issues are the only hope for the La Nina tribe.

But what a smart move Casaya made after their recent victory. If any member of Casaya makes it to the top four, it's because of this decision to grant Sally immunity and break up the La Nina male alliance.

With ten players left and Casaya ready and willing to fracture, the alliances will likely change if the merge happens soon. Aras and Shane, at least at first, would sooner line up with the La Nina guys than with Courtney and Danielle, who in turn should quickly pick up Sally. That's potentially 5 on 3 but surely the girls will see that and begin to do something about it. And what does Cirie do? She can heavily influence the game in this scenario.

Bruce doesn't seem to be with it at this stage. What's up with him? [see notes below]

The big winner for now seems to be Sally. Not only was she granted immunity by her friends in Casaya in the face of a certain departure, but she will probably survive to the merge and be able to reunite with the other young women. That said, swing voters like Cirie still control the fate of these mini-alliances.

Random Observations:
  • It looks like someone is going home due to sickness or injury after all (according to the previews). Shane's comment this week about Bruce (and Bruce's behavior) makes me think it's him. But it could be the underfed Nick or Austin, who both seem to be having a rough time and are cursed by the La Mina bad luck.
  • So much for the "tribal council like never before." Basically, Dan knew he was going. That doesn't seem that ground breaking.
  • My wife, especially, is growing weary of the dysfunctional team winning and the optimistic, friendly guys getting decimated. Casaya is ready to sell each other down the river at the drop of a hat but they keep winning. Just like in real life, the good guys often lose.
  • If the young women form the stronger alliance (by turning the younger guys?) will they target Terry first? And then what happens when he reveals his immunity idol? Terry can single-handedly break up that alliance if he gets targeted. Nevertheless, Terry needs to win "hearts and minds" fast after the merge, if that's even possible.

Kansas Billionaires

The World's Billionaires list according to Forbe's includes some Kansans. Actually, I wasn't sure if these folks are Kansans or if they just live here but if you had a billion dollars why would you live in Kansas?

Anyway, here are the ones I found at a glance. I'm still searching for phone numbers…

[World rank, name, home, age, $, source]
33. (tied) Charles Koch, Wichita, 70, $12, oil, commodities
33. (tied) David Koch, Wichita, 65, $12, oil, commodities
428. Donald Hall, Mission Hills, 77, $1.8, Hallmark
486. Min Kao, Mission Hills, 57, $1.6, Garmin GPS receivers
606. Phillip Ruffin, Wichita, 70, $1.3, casinos, real estate
698. Gary Burrell, Stilwell, 68, $1.1, Garmin GPS receivers

[Shout out to Mindy for the help. Thanks!]

Hitched Again

I watched Dial M for Murder (1954) the other night, the last in a long line of Alfred Hitchcock films that I had TiVo'ed over the last year. It's been sitting on my menu of movies to watch for four or five months but, as it turns out, this one may be my new favorite!

Above all else it was an intelligent plot, a rare commodity in movies old or new. The main character plots the perfect murder but when his ingenious plot goes awry, his "Plan B" is still better than the plotting of most movie bad guys. It's also fun when the protagonist is the bad guy, leaving you to root against him instead of for him.

As I found out later, this movie was based on a play by the same name. Since the movie takes place almost entirely in one room with a cast of only five speaking parts, it felt a lot like a play; and I'd love to see this one performed live.

More Raptors

Here's one more gratuitous shot of some Raptors. These F-22A Raptors are the first planes of another new squadron that's being formed to replace the F-15C Eagle.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Legends in the Air

The F-22A Raptor and the P-51D Mustang – two of the most beautiful planes ever built.

The Mustang was the pinnacle of piston engine fighter aircraft while the Raptor may be the zenith of manned jet engine fighter aircraft. Though seperated by nearly 60 years, both planes have a beauty that's hard to put into words. Happily, the laws of aerodynamics tend to create aesthetically pleasing lines and appealing shapes. In other words, attractive planes usually fly well. Few people would call the P-51D Mustang ugly, and the F-22A Raptor, designed by computers to be the most aerodynamically efficient aircraft ever, is also rather easy on the eye.

Random Sports Thoughts 3/9/06

  • Which is more important – the regular season Big 12 championship or the Big 12 Tournament championship? Texas and Kansas share the former but Texas will be ranked first this week. Since the regular season determines the seeding for the Big 12 Tournament, giving advantage to the better teams, I feel the outcome of the tournament, which is on a neutral site, should be the final word on who's champion.
  • The grotesquely muscular Barry Bonds reportedly took an astronomical amount of steroids and performance enhancing drugs to increase his homerun hitting ability. A new book is out about him and Sports Illustrated is running an article on the issue. Yet he still claims his innocence. Good grief, does anyone even doubt it?
  • I've got a feeling that the NFL will finally work out its issues before 7:00 tonight. There's just too many negatives for the owners not to give in. But it still surprises me that the players union will come out on top. They're playing Russian Roulette here and if the deal does not get done tonight, the union has catestrophically failed the players they represented – as I said before, it's the average player who will suffer the most.
  • Did you catch the latest changes to the Royals' uniforms? Minor changes mostly, just variations on earlier themes. But you can see them here.
  • Will the Royals and Chiefs get their old stadiums renovated? At a mere BILLION dollars, it'll be the most expensive renovation ever… anywhere… for anything. We could build new, better, and more attractive stadiums for that kind of money. I'd like to see them build a downtown baseball stadium, implode Kaufman, and build a new and improved Arrowhead stadium with a retractable roof at Truman Sports Complex. Will the teams leave? No, that's an empty threat. Would you lose the chance to host a SuperBowl? No, not if the new stadium is ready by 2015. And if we do lose it, that's ok. Kansas City in February is not the kind of city that would make money on a Super Bowl anyway. And what happens if the voters pass this corporate welfare? We don't get new stadiums in our lifetime, we go to ballgames amidst a construction zone for several years, and we end up with a big, ugly, quonset hut-ish, bi-state eyesore – which we'll see in all it's televised glory as we watch the Super Bowl at home just like every other year. Look at it here at the website for those who actually want this thing. It's a big hideous hangar!

Dude Where's My Civil War?

Ralph Peters reports on the deficit of civil wars and good reporting in Iraq. Peters writes:

In place of the civil war that elements in our media declared, I saw full streets, open shops, traffic jams, donkey carts, Muslim holiday flags - and children everywhere, waving as our Humvees passed. Even the clouds of dust we stirred up didn't deter them. And the presence of children in the streets is the best possible indicator of a low threat level.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

9000 Hits

9000 hits! Thanks for reading. At this pace, we should hit 10,000 by the last week of March.

I especially appreciate your encouragements over the last week or two. We, uh… well… we've had some interesting comments made. But I feel it's important that I allow critics (and hecklers) to speak their peace. Often, letting them speak freely is the most effective rebuttal I could offer.

The great thing about a Christian worldview is that it stands up to criticism. It can be questioned and tested; it is rational and consistent. I hope "anonymous" comes back and engages in some dialog. I'm always ready.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Conservative Movies

The American Film Renaissance is a group that celebrates conservative themes in movies. According to the president and founder of AFR, "Our voters [choose] films that are not only of high aesthetic quality, but also have redeeming qualities that most Americans identify with."

AFR's website says, "AFR champions films that reflect the principles that made America great, such as free speech, free enterprise, freedom of religion, rugged individualism, and the triumph of the human spirit."

Here is the AFR Top 10 Movies of 2005:

10. King Kong
9. Capote
8. The World's Fastest Indian
7. Batman Begins*
6. Pride and Prejudice
5. Downfall
4. Crash*
3. Walk the Line*
2. The Chronicles of Narnia*
1. Cinderella Man*

The movies with an asterisk are the ones which I've seen. I'll probably see the others in the next month or two.
  • Batman Begins was significantly better than I thought it would be. I was stunned that it was so well done (Spider-Man 2 surprised me in the same way).
  • Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, needs a big WARNING. It's full of objectionable content. It does say some interesting things about racial tensions and people in general, but I don't necessarily recommend it.
  • We watched Walk the Line just the other night. I was very impressed, as it was probably the best movie of the year. So why didn't it win the Oscar? The Academy isn't likely to nominate a movie in which the main character becomes a Christian at the end of the movie (Ben Hur is the only one I can think of and that was 45 years ago).
  • The Chronicles of Narnia was the big Christian movie of the year. It was fantastic to behold but it pales in comparison to the books – most movies do. I still enjoyed it.
  • Cinderella Man was an excellent movie with one of the best portrayals of a father since Mel Gibson's Patriot. Like all the best boxing movies, it's not really about boxing.
AFR's documentary of the year was March of the Penguins. I thought it was interesting but it traumatized my kids. Be prepared for starved and frozen penguin babies and sea lions chomping on penguin moms!

The links in this post take you to Focus on the Family's Plugged-In. It's a great magazine and an excellent website if you want to know what your kids might be watching or listening to but you don't have time to preview it yourself. Every parent should have this website bookmarked.

Super Woman

My wife, nine months pregnant, decided this morning that she was going to take our boys to the park. Sure, why not? She's due in a few weeks and our three rowdy boys, ages 5, 4, and 2, are bouncing off the walls – why not load them up and chase them at the park?

And here's the kicker. She decides to call our friends and offer to take two more boys, ages 3 and 2, with her! So she loads up Brennan, Tanner, Ethan, Sean, and Elijah and shuffles out to the park.

She received several long stares and one woman approached her and said, "Please tell me you're babysitting!"

But Shannon didn't bat an eye. They played for an hour and half without a hitch and came home. No biggie.

She's incredible.

Mud I Can Do

If we'd had girls we would have never gone through things like this:

Tanner came to the back door today, proud to report on his contribution to fraternal harmony. "Mommy, I helpt 'Lijah! I made mud for him!"

"What?! How did you make mud?"

"I peed in his dirt!" Tanner reported with glee.

"Where's Elijah?"

"Playin' in his mud!"

And sure enough, there in the backyard is our two-year-old, covered head-to-toe in mud – mud made from his brother's urine.

And they were each so pleased that Tanner had discovered such a brilliant solution.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Random Thoughts 3/5/06

  • I'm actually watching the Oscars right now. It's always too long and there's always so much that I cringe at. I'm not particularly star struck and I don't have any favorite movies up for Best Picture. But who knows, some of this stuff may come up in a future Trivial Pursuit game!
  • As a matter of fact, writers and directors do fascinate me. They communicate ideas; they are the story tellers. I can appreciate that, even if I don't care for the particular stories.
  • I was down in the back this week for a few days. I walked home from work twice this week for the exercise and, by the end of the second trip, my poor state of physical conditioning was rearing its ugly head – I could barely move Friday. And with Mom nine months pregnant and Dad not making any sudden moves, the boys were nearly able to take over.
  • My folks took our boys to McDonald's today. They are brave, brave people.
  • The extension to iron out the NFL's problems didn't work as talks broke off late today. Most teams will now make major cuts. All players will lose benefits and some may lose their career prematurely. Parity between teams may be gone forever. This will get ugly. Why? Because of unadulterated selfishness, on both sides. UPDATE: They extended talks for another three days. The Apocalypse now begins Wednesday at midnight.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Two People In Love

Today we celebrated Shannon's birthday. Her mom came over and afforded us the opportunity to eat out and see a movie. So we went to Zona Rosa and ate at a nice Chinese restaurant there, Bo Lings. I asked our waiter what "Bo Lings" means; is it someone's name or a Chinese word? At a loss, he ran his fingers through his blond hair and said, "Uh, dude… I asked and, uh… I dunno know. I think it's the owner's name or something."


There wasn't much playing but we had a movie gift card burning a hole in our pocket, so we saw Nanny McPhee. It was a really nice movie but it made us miss our own mischievous children.

On the way home, we stopped by Pride of Kansas City where Shannon found a sign to hang in our house.

She said it's "sentimental and romantic." It would have been more romantic if she would have let me go back and get it on my own. Instead she literally pulled me back into the store to buy it on the spot.

Oh, the memories.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart

Tomorrow is Shannon's birthday. She turns 29 for the very first time!

I wish I could say her health is better but she's been sick most of the last month and is nearly immobilized because of the baby. We're expecting baby Graham in 3 to 5 weeks.

I Will Survive, Week 5

**Spoiler Warning**
Do not read this post if you haven't yet seen this week's episode of Survivor.

…you've been warned!

To flop or not to flop. That is the question – or at least it will be soon.

In Survivor, you eventually get down to one tribe of about 10 people. This is called the merge and it's likely just a few episodes away. The question is whether or not you'll "dance with the girl that brung ya." In other words do you stay with your previous alliance or do you flop to new alliances in order to survive?

Bobby swears (on Shane's son, no less) that he won't flop. Uh, yeah, right. His tribe doesn't believe it and they bump him off before he can do any damage. But who else might be Machiavellian floppers?

The most obvious choice on La Mina is Sally. I mean, does she really feel like one of the guys? Surely if she sees a chance to tip the scales, she'll betray the men on her tribe.

Who might flop on the Casaya tribe? How about everyone? Whatever they have, it's the opposite of esprit de corps. Most of dysfunctional Casaya would rather side with the La Mina men than their own tribemates. The only exception might be Courtney and Danielle, who would naturally gravitate toward Sally. But the three young women would need at least two or three others to avoid being in the minority after the merge.

After the merge, I think the La Mina men could draw in Cirie, Aras, or Bruce into their alliance, and if I were Terry, I would pursue them in that order. Anything could happen but I would be surprised if the three young women would be asked to join. Shane is such a wild card, I just don't know.

Random observations:
  • I called it about Bobby, they got rid of him for being lazy, rude, and untrustworthy. Go figure.
  • I was also right about Cirie latching on to Aras and Shane. Cirie is the best player in the game right now (Terry is a close second and my favorite to win).
  • As noted above, my gut says Terry should bring Cirie into his sphere of influence after the merge (and yes I think Cirie and Terry will make the merge – they're the two I'm really certain of – and maybe Aras).
  • How does someone not go home sick? At some point you'd think a few of these folks (Nick and Austin!) would throw in the towel. But maybe not.
  • What if next week's "tribal council like never before" is Casaya in a two or three way tie? I think Survivor has had ties before, but who knows how they will resolve it this time?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nacht der langen Messer

It has begun. ESPN reports:

The Chiefs started their salary cap purge Thursday by terminating the contracts of four veteran players: cornerbacks Eric Warfield and Dexter McCleon and linebackers Shawn Barber and Gary Stills.

The moves cleared out $6.3 million, but the Chiefs have more work to do to get under the $94.5 million salary cap. They started the day $18.1 million over the cap, so these moves leave them $11.9 million over.

The Chiefs are in the process of restructuring contracts and considering other releases of veteran players.

Other veterans who could fall under the salary cap knife are guard Will Shields and safeties Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley, but nothing is done at this time.

Hopefully, if Shields is cut he can be re-signed for less money (his family is established here in KC after all). And, though I never thought I'd be saying this, I'd like to see the Chiefs get Warfield back also. But teams like the Eagles and Cardinals will be looking to take advantage of this situation, so it's anybody's guess what your favorite team will look like next year.

And a big shiny nickel goes to whomever can tell me to what the title of this post refers and/or why I chose it.

Killing the Golden Goose

The NFL is in the midst of a labor dispute. Both the Players Union and the owners would like to make more money, so naturally they're deadlocked. It gets complicated quick, but the owners are offering the players more than 56% of the total revenues. The players want more than 60% of the money.

The first step is that each team will have to get under the salary cap ($94 million) by midnight Thursday. The contracts are written in expectation of a salary cap in excess of $105 million, so lots of big names will get a pink slip in the next few hours. The Chiefs will likely lose Will Shields to start with and it goes downhill from there. We'll see how things pan out.

I can't help but think that the Players Union is hurting most players. Only a few guys are going to benefit from that extra 4%. Because of this impass, the players are getting hurt because:
  • The NFL will stop paying some benefits like the 401k the league had been matching 2-1. In effect this will be like a pay cut across the board. But the average guys who take home $300,000 will be hurt more than the star who takes home $3 million.
  • Older players or players with expensive contracts will get cut in droves. The older players may never play again, ending their career too early. The expensive players, even if re-signed, will be restricted by the rules from getting the same kind of money anywhere else.
  • Free agency will require six years, instead of four. Young players will be stuck with old teams and old contracts, with no way out.
  • Rookie contracts will be up in the air, even though some teams, like the Redskins, will need to be composed of almost a third new players. We might see mass rookie holdouts.
  • Average players in competitive positions are at risk if this leads to a strike in 2008. The replacement players may not be that much worse than some of the blue-collar guys who might find themselves on the outside looking in. This actually happened a little in the 1980's.
Ultimately, the players need the NFL worse then the League needs these specific players. Why? Because everytime an undrafted player becomes a starter (Priest Holmes for instance), or everytime a backup quarterback wins the Superbowl (Tom Brady), or everytime a team plugs different players into the same scheme and gets the same results (Broncos' running game), the Players Union is undermined. Even with 32 teams, there are more players out there than opportunities.

Advantage: Owners.

So You're Saying There's Chance

KU could still win the Big 12.

Texas lost last night at the buzzer, so both Kansas and Texas are 12-3 in the conference with one game left. KU plays K-State Saturday but Texas plays a very good OU team Sunday afternoon. If Texas loses and KU wins, KU comes out on top of the Big 12. Sure that's a big "if" but you never know.

Rest Easy Brave Warrior

I thought this picture was great (click to zoom):

What a fantastic photo! These soldiers, mostly Army (10th Mountain and 101st Airborne), are returning to Iraq from a two-week leave. What's so beautiful about it? It's so egalitarian. Captains are sitting next to Privates (I even spotted a Lieutenant Colonel wedged in there); mixed together you'll find men and women, old and young, white and black, soldiers and airmen, regular army and reserves… you can find almost anyone, right there together.

I'm reading another book by Victor Davis Hanson right now about Western culture and what makes our military unique and ultimately unbeatable. Here's a great article from Hanson about Iraq. If you don't have a moment to read it yourself, well, a picture is worth a thousand words.

These people represent what's best about our nation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Feeling the Love

Anonymous wrote:

The invitation is very tempting. Change my mind? About what? Only if you promise that when we are done I will want to vomit at the sight of homosexuals, make Pancake Day a National Holiday and decide that the best way to study human nature is to watch hours of mindless drivel.
Son, I think you are missing the point. Thanks to your rantings on here, I wouldn't trust you with the care of my house-plants, let alone my soul.
That is your choice, you absolutely have every right to say whatever you want on here, but just so you know, a lot of people think you are an idiot.

That's a fact, and that is the fact that I am bringing to the discussion.

Isn't that lovely? Oh, well. I don't have any ill will toward them at all. In fact, it's instructive to hear this kind of thing. On multiple levels.

And just so that nobody else takes my words out of context, I said that the act of sodomy disgusted me. And it still does. Think about it. I also think that smoking is disgusting. But I know people who do this and far worse things and I still love them. Why? Because I'm just a sinner too.

Therefore, I certainly won't treat them like I've been treated today, no matter how much they provoke me. Oh, well.

Whoever you are, I hope you write back (or just call me). You're visibly upset with me and trying to provoke me; I'd like to sit down and talk as friends.

Winning Friends and Influencing People

We had another hit and run today. "Anonymous" wrote:
Man, word is starting to get around about this here blog, and I didn't believe some of the things that were being said, so I decided to check it out.

It's not that I (or others) dislike you for our opinions, it's just that you are so BORING! Most preachers, revs, priests, whatevers that I have came across had at least a spark of charisma (including Dr. King, who you are not worthy of even mentioning). You are a fat couch potato, which I am sure bides fine by the portly Eastern Kansas folks.

Here is what you say the pupose of this blog is :

I want this blog to show why I'm so content with God and the life He's given me.

Apparently you are content with God because he gave you IHOPs and Television.

Don't try to posture as some kind of intellectual.. the Church has always hated those anyway....
Thanks for that. One of my friendly debate opponents fired back at them though…
Wow, that was below the belt and the ref is going to need to take a point away. I am getting sick of this battery on Jared. He will take the abuse and even show your side of the story. Yet, these anonymous posters come in and take shots and run away ANONYMOUSLY. At least Jared puts his name behind his comments like a man. He has the gall to stand up for his opinions unlike some who post here.
Like anonymous has never watched Television and eaten out. Besides, the main reason Jared has this blog is so that his children have the opportunity to see and hear what their father was feeling and doing on a daily basis after he is gone (hopefully this doesn't happen for a long time). So before you open your mouth and spout off make sure you have the facts and the courage to put your name at the end of your post.

Thanks Chad, and you're correct, there's a lot on my blog that is only going to be of interest to my four boys (or my mother). But they got several other things wrong also.

  • I have a leather recliner and thus rarely sit on the couch while watching television.
  • Most of the Kansans I know are not portly but rather are in excellent health, including my fit and trim, beautiful wife (now I'm trying to push their buttons). Kansans are often hard working, outdoors-y kind of folks.
  • I'm guessing they know little or nothing about MLK, or theology, or the ministry in general. If someone with a degree in theology and more than a decade in the located ministry has an honest assessment of the writings of another minister, it is by definition "worthy" (even if it's wrong).
  • I thank God more for McDonalds – they have a play area for my kids.
  • Blogs are a poor tool for determining if someone is interesting. It's my blog you find boring, not me, not my life, and not my ministry.
  • My posture is terrible, thank you. I'm just not very pretentious: no hair gel, no fake tan, no diploma-mill degrees on my wall, no fancy clothes, no disingenuous posturing. What you see is what you get.
  • And you're way off base with the Church and intellectuals. History proves that the Church practically invented the professional scholar. To say otherwise shows either your ignorance or your bigotry.
I've been getting a lot of feedback from folks about these conversations, but I'm not going to delete you or ban you or make you sign-in or anything of the sort. I would like you to identify yourself and give me a call on the telephone. Come visit our church and let's put your preconceived notions to the test. I keep a spare room for guests and my wife is a great cook. If you're traveling, I'll even pick you up at the airport. Let's sit down face to face and talk into the wee hours of the morning. I promise it will be worthwhile and won't cost you a thing (once you get here). The greatest danger to you is that I might change your mind.