Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Random Conference Thoughts, Day 3, Part 2

  • I got to where I was feeling better by late morning. Whew, glad that's over!
  • I think I saw the majority of my old professors. Some of them recognized me, others didn't, but that's okay. It's easy to become envious of guys my age that are well known and might be teaching at a college or preaching at conventions, but I'm also convinced that God uses the anonymous little guy to do great things also, to "shame the wise" as it says in scripture. I don't need to be famous or well known, just faithful.
  • We traveled through a tremendous thunder storm on the way home. The lightning was so frequent that it was almost like a strobe light. We even had to pull over because of the rain and hail.
  • I didn't get to see Joshua F. or Andrew S. or any other student I might have known during our stay. I know they're really busy, so next time I'll call and let them know I'll be there in advance if I want to see them. I was also disappointed that there weren't more people there my age. There were some, maybe more folks about five years older than I would have expected, but almost no twenty-somethings. It also seemed like baby-boomers were also underrepresented. In contrast, class reunions for people about 35-40 and 65-70 would have been packed. I wonder why that is?
  • I did get a couple of Ozark Christian College t-shirts, but not the nice shirt I was looking at. They had several XXXL shirts (too big) of this variety and several that were smalls (a bit tight for me) but nothing remaining in between. It looks like I came too late.
  • We grabbed dinner with the Anderson's at our favorite Chinese place. We sat and talked for over an hour. We also played some foosball and pool at the new Student Center (ask Jay-rod how I took him to billiards school and beat him). We love the Anderson's so much; I can't imagine how the trip could have been as fun without them.
  • We left a bit early tonight; we were really eager to get home. I didn't really want to miss anything but at the same time our cups were full and running over. We heard great preaching, went to great workshops, saw a few old friends, and were encouraged to fight the good fight. What a treat!

Random Conference Thoughts, Day 3

I'm still sick to my stomach. We're planning to go to the main session here in a few minutes but I feel as sick as I did last night but without the headache. Queasy doesn't even begin to cover it. What's the deal?!

We're packing everything up, including the computer, so I probably won't be able to blog until tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll have lots more to tell about the convention.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Random Conference Thoughts, Day 2

  • I'm so spending my clothing allowance in the bookstore here. I need some Ozark Christian College stuff to show my school spirit!
  • We heard one of the best sermons at lunch today. The speaker was one of my favorites, David Erickson. Two Erickson sermons in 24 hours; what a treat! I also got to hear Rusty George, a former classmate of my sister's. He spoke this morning and then taught a workshop this afternoon on preaching to non-followers of Christ.
  • It was nearly 70º today and blue skies. How beautiful!
  • We're missing our boys something awful.
  • I got a horrible sick headache late this afternoon. By dinner time I was in bad shape. This was rotten luck because tonight was our night to go to Jim Bob's, a local steak house. I didn't eat – I couldn't – and frankly that was a little upsetting. Oh well. Shannon took me back to the motel room where I curled up in a ball for a couple of hours. It's after 10pm now, and I'm just okay enough now to look at the computer screen.
  • Shannon and I went to a workshop on professional writing this morning. It was informative and encouraging. I feel this blog will eventually evolve into a ministry of writing. I have several ideas for books and articles I'd like to write.
  • I was able to explore campus a little bit more today and interact with some current students and a few of my old professors (we sat next to the college President at lunch). OCC does such a great job here on every level. I can't imagine another school I'd rather have graduated from or would rather send my own children to.

Breaking New Ground

Elijah (almost 3) usually prays the following prayer at bedtime: "Dear Dodd, me, Dad, amen." It's nice to be included, but I asked him the other night if he could maybe include his mother this time. You know, to break the monotony.

He clasps his fat little fingers together and prays, "Dear Dodd, tanks me, Mommy, Daddy… and Bren, and Tan, and baby… and Mommy… and Mr. Joe… and Daddy no spank me anymoe… and Mommy, amen."

You ask and you shall receive, say good bye to the old routine and hello to the mind of a three year old.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Random Conference Thoughts, Day 1

  • Shannon and I had a beautiful drive down memory lane, or rather to Joplin. What a pleasant afternoon! We chatted about our first years of marriage and college life in general, like entry level jobs and friends dating each other. We are so endeared toward Joplin but we're convinced that Kansas City is the place to be. KCK is home and we like it that way. I'd like to visit Joplin more often (like when I have sons attending OCC) but visiting will do.
  • The campus has changed so much since our last visit (when did Bryan C. get married?) We love the new student center and bookstore and the cafeteria is so much better (but is the food?) than when we were students here in the late '90s.
  • We saw Diana R., the mail lady, in her new campus post office. What an improvement over when I worked for her. I'm so happy for her; most people have no idea what a valuable part of the college she is.
  • We saw several people here from back home including a guy that went to my home church that I've not seen in at least 10 years. Weird! I'm keeping a list of people that we've run into. "Mom" Sampson asked how old our "boy" was and we responded, "Which one? We have four!" She curled a lip and said, "You haven't been gone [from Rushville] that long."
  • I'm really hoping to see Joshua F. and his wife while we're down here. He used to be in my youth group and now he's a student here. He's another one I think pretty highly of.
  • The preaching and the worship has been everything we'd hoped for. I've got say though that's pretty awesome to go to a cutting edge, all-star, best of the best convention and walk away saying, "that worship experience is just like back home."
  • We came back to the motel and watched KU beat Oklahoma and played a party game with the Anderson's called Apples to Apples. We're only a few doors down from our good friends, what a treat to be able to share this experience with them. We feel close to a lot of people but the bond of shared ministry (the good and the bad) creates a camaraderie that's hard to describe.

We're Off to See the Wizard

We getting ready to leave for the Preaching and Teaching Convention in Joplin. We're really excited to see our old stomping grounds again and I'll try to do a little "conference blogging" while I'm there. I know that I'll have internet access at the motel but I'm not sure about at the college. One of my favorite preachers, David Erickson (of Council Bluffs, IA), is speaking tonight. I'll let you know how it goes if I can.

We'll meet up with the Anderson's and hopefully see some other folks that we know. Even though I joke about not knowing anyone, there are several people I'd be really eager to at least say "hi" to. This isn't my year for a class reunion but I'm certain I'll see some of the folks from my six years at college.

It's also weird getting ready to go down 71 highway. We made the trip between KC and Joplin every weekend for five years. Now it's been about that long since we last made the trip at all. Highlights of the trip include: the Grandview Triangle (now new and improved), the Flying J in Peculiar (isn't that… strange), the really boring part north of Nevada (don't fall asleep), the "almost home" exit at Carthage, and the (really big) Praying Hands in Webb City.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

On the Floor

Here's a couple shots of the boys (three strawberry blonds and one brunet):

Brennan (center) has become quite a reader and Tanner and Eli love to let him read to them. Technically Brennan is in kindergarten but I remember not reading that well when I was in first grade.

And here's our preemie, Graham; in a few weeks he'll be one year old! Can you believe it? He's not walking yet but he likes to pull up on stuff. He's also weaning (note the bottle of milk in his lap). The boy's practically all grow'd up!

These precious boogers will be staying home next week when Mom and Dad are gone for about two days… assuming we can stay away that long!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Getting Away

Our plans changed at the last minute and Shannon and I get to go to a convention next week! We're supposed to go to a professional conference every year but that's hard to do when you have little kids and you don't want to spend any extra church money if you don't have to.

But, here at the last second, things have worked out. The Preaching and Teaching Convention is the annual conference at Ozark Christian College, where I went to school. Shannon and I are really eager to see how Joplin and the school have changed. We lived there for six years and it's strange to think that we've been gone for almost that long.

We'll be gone from Monday afternoon through Wednesday night. It'll be hard to be away from the kids but I look forward to the worship and preaching; it should be really refreshing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A World Without America

Here's a video made some brave Brits recognizing America's contributions in the last 50 years or so. I'm betting that this doesn't get them invited to too many parties. In fact, this may not get them invited to very many parties in this country. The source through which I found this video was critical of it, with an eye-rolling, you've-got-to-be-kidding, kind of tone. Let all the ignorant, anti-semitic, self-loathing socialists mock it, I like this video.

Rush Limbaugh once made a point that America is not what's wrong with this world. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time America was blatantly Imperialistic was in 1898 – over 100 years ago – and ever since then, our troops have been fighting and dying for the freedom of other people. We feed the world and drive its economy. We don't horde wealth (as we're so often accused), we create it. Or rather it's a result of our political, economic, and religious freedoms.

Snaggle Tooth

Brennan lost his first tooth today. It's been dangling by a thread for over a week and could almost lay down in two directions, but his teeth are so small it was hard to get a hold of anything.

This morning he was showing it to me and I just reached in and popped it right out! He didn't cry, even when he saw all of the blood (which was more than either of us were expecting). I'm really proud of him, as he's usually so easily upset; he handled this well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Smart Alec

I've been lifting weights the last few months and I can tell that my arms are significantly stronger than they've been in a long time. They seem a lot bigger, at least to me anyway.

Today I was sitting in the driver's seat of the van and stretched out to yawn. With my right arm still outstretched I flexed it, stretching the fabric of my shirt. I looked over my shoulder at Brennan and said, "Daddy's got muscles!"

Brennan gave me a bored look and, mustering all of the sarcastic apathy that he could, said, "Where?"


Here's a video of Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) talking about his experience as a POW for 7 years in Vietnam and hearing about the American Congress defunding the war then. It's amazing and powerful and worth watching.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hunter Exam

I just finished that listening to that interview with Duncan Hunter at Pundit Review.

He's an optimistic, pro-life, support the troops and the mission, protect-the-borders, church-going, social conservative, Vietnam veteran with a son in Iraq, Reagan Republican. It's easy for me to like him.

I'll be eager to learn more about him.

You can listen to the interview (about 30 minutes) by going here. See his recent voting record here and his overall record on major items here.

Catching Up

I've not been wanting to blog much the last few days – I'm still steaming over the House's vote of defeatism last week. I was so cross eyed with frustration the last few days I just didn't want to blog. Though I did read a ton of stuff, including lots of good news that failed to get picked up by the main stream media – they were already told that this was a disaster by the Defeatocrats.

That said, there's still plenty going on:

  • Shannon and I got a new bed (the old one sold today). It was such a great deal and now we finally have a King-sized bed – though we're both collectively smaller than at any other time in the last several years.
  • Shannon and her mom took the boys to IHOP today for pancakes. It was a late lunch and I ran over there to join them. It's the first real syrup I've had since October '06 at least. I didn't know what I was missing, but alas, no more. All of the boys were having a great time and you can't beat feeding seven people for $3 (not counting a tip and a donation to the Children's Miracle Network).
  • I'm listening right now to an interview over the internet with Duncan Hunter, a congressman from San Diego that's running for President, and I'm impressed on several issues! That said, I've been thrown for a tailspin with these guys. I've been impressed recently by Rudy Giuliani and sorely disappointed with hometown guy Sam Brownback. So who knows? I'm sure I'll blog in the future about presidential candidates and how I rate them on international, domestic, and moral issues.
  • There was a new baby boy born into the congregation Tuesday afternoon – 9 pounds, 12 ounces! Mom and baby (number three for that family) are doing great. It's really exciting to see new children born into our church family and we all congratulate them on the wonderful addition. My brood of four is probably complete but I sure wouldn't balk if God wanted us to have more. Having larger families (more than two or three) isn't impossible it just calls for a different allocation of your resources. And the blessings that come from many children in a safe, Godly home are more than can be described. I'll don't think we're maxed out yet (but five sure would be close).
  • Jay-rod and I went to play basketball this afternoon in Bonner Springs. We met several men from the area and I think this is going to be a great thing for our physical health and our ministry in the community. But last week I had a bad experience trying to play at my YMCA in town, I was the only adult there, came late, and all the high school kids basically wouldn't let me in the game as they rotated kids in and out. I kept asking, but I waited for "my turn" for 35 minutes as everyone else got on the court two or three times. They wanted me to go away and, frankly, my feelings were hurt. In a way I don't blame them: here's this 30-year-old white guy that's trying to push his way into their game amongst friends. But at the same time I sure wish someone would have offered an invitation to a stranger. I never did get on the court that night, but it's interesting to experience that kind of blatant exclusion just because you're different.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Big Bargains!

I just bought my wife a new $2500 king-size bed. Partly because it's almost her birthday, partly just because I love her. But mostly because it was 90% off. The guy was selling it new for $600 but because we knew he needed to move it, we waited him out until he came down to $300 and I talked him down another $50 using techniques I learned in our financial class. Thank you Dave Ramsey!

Patience, common sense, and knowing basic negotiating techniques – it's all you need to get a great bargain.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What We'll Know that We Don't Seem to Know Now

Many years from now the History Channel will air a show about the cause of the Iraq War and WMD. Most people will be shocked and say to ourselves, "I thought it was just the opposite! Everyone said so."

Well not quite, but here's a sneak peek:

The CIA's "Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD" by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), also known as the "Duelfer Report", was the authority commonly cited to debunk the threat of WMD as an excuse to invade Iraq in 2003.

Yet the following statements can be found in the Duelfer Report:

  • "we cannot express a firm view on the possibility that WMD elements were relocated out of Iraq prior to the war"
  • "ISG technical experts fully evaluated less than one quarter of one percent of the over 10,000 weapons caches throughout Iraq"
  • "Iraq could have re-established an elementary BW [biological warfare] program within a few weeks to a few months of a decision to do so"
The potential for a hostile regime to build WMD was one of the primary reasons to invade, but not the only reason. Additionally, coalition forces have located and destroyed over 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003. Most of these were 10-15 years old and in varying states of deterioration. Putting aside what may have been smuggled out of the country, my guess is that we haven't come close to locating what is hidden and forgotten in Iraq and won't for decades to come. Consider this clipping from an article in a Japanese newspaper just yesterday:

"Abandoned chemical weapons in China: Japan should provide China with a full and complete update about specific steps that are being taken to ameliorate this continuing problem. This is both a health as well as an environmental concern and Japan must be forthcoming about what progress is being made."

That's right, China is still finding Japan's WMD in their own country from World War 2 (62 years ago)! I found this in a Chinese newspaper from last week:

A 1997 international convention requires Japan to remove thousands of chemical weapons it abandoned in China by 2007, but Tokyo has asked for a five-year extension. Japan has removed 37,000 chemical weapons, but an estimated 660,000 are still believed to remain in China.

Japan launched its first excavation in Guangzhou in 2005, after three Chinese people were sickened in the city by inhaling poison gas from what were believed to be chemical weapons abandoned by the former Japanese military in June 2005…

Needless to say, the shrill declarations that the WMD episode was just a big lie ("Bush lied - people died") is both ignorant of the available documentation and historically naive.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Our Worst Enemy

I'm infuriated. Why? Because people I know and care about are in harm's way and the politicians in Washington are playing politics, encouraging the enemy!

This afternoon, Congress voted for and passed a non-binding resolution against the President's troop surge. The surge that is already working by the way. The Iraqi PM said today that the surge has already been an indescribable success. The Baghdad morgues saw an 80% drop in civilian deaths this week. The militias are being fractured and their leadership arrested, killed, or driven from the country. We have a new and gifted leadership (which this same Legislature approved of unanimously – explain that to me) and new tactics and rules of engagement to make a difference in that country.

Besides that, we're doing the only thing we can do without betraying millions of Iraqis and setting the stage for larger Middle East Sectarian War. Saudi Arabia and Syria have already said they would "protect their interests" in Iraq if we leave.

But have no fear, Islamic fascists, anarchists, and jihadists, our own politicians will do what you can't! The American Congress will pull the plug on our troops, at the risk of their lives, and pull the plug on free people across the middle east, dooming them to political, sectarian, and religious oppression.

Women's rights in the Middle East? Gone. Lifting an ink-stained finger for democracy? Gone. Protection from genocide? Advancement out of the Dark Ages? Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Religion? Gone, gone, gone, and gone!

Way to go Democrats. Way to go white-flag Republicans. Way to go cowards. Don't persevere when you can still take the path of least resistance.

And by all means, go ahead and claim to support the troops and then actively jeopardize them, as the Wall Street Journal said, "[with] a resolution that does nothing to remove American troops from harm’s way in Iraq but that will do substantial damage to their morale and that of their Iraqi allies while emboldening the enemy."

Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) has said, “For the Senate to take up a symbolic vote of no confidence on the eve of a decisive battle is unprecedented, but it is not inconsequential. It is an act which, I fear, will discourage our troops, hearten our enemies, and showcase our disunity.”

If there is one historical truth in fighting the United States, it's this: It takes the American Congress to defeat the American military.

How did our victory in 1968's Tet Offensive become the death knell of defeat in Vietnam? How did we lose that war without losing a single battle? Because the American Congress, fueled by a disaffected people and driven by a seditious media, made it so. Mistakes on the battlefield and in the war room could be dealt with, but not the Congress pulling the plug. When our soldiers left, the Viet Cong insurgency was essentially defeated. South Vietnam fell because North Vietnam invaded the country with conventional infantry, tank, and artillery divisions after we were already gone and after the American Congress cut funding to South Vietnam.

So here we go again. The surge in Iraq can be a huge victory and we might still abandon the fight because of politics.

I'm so sick about this and now the Senate is holding a special Saturday session tomorrow to pass a similar resolution! Why would they do this? Because many politicians on both sides of the aisle have licked their crooked fingers and stuck them in the air and, behold, the political winds are blowing against persevering in Iraq.

The sirens call, "This way to political power and popularity." And our ship is steered toward the rocks. Again.

Our Favorite Corpsman

A young man from our church is in Iraq with the Marines as a corpsman (think medic, but the Navy/Marines have funny names for almost everything). He's actually in the Navy, which supplies medical personnel to the Marine Corps, again because the Navy/Marines like things to be unnecessarily convoluted. For instance…

The troops in the Marine Corps are always called "Marines" and never soldiers, which you find in the Army. A corpsman with the Marines is always referred to as a "sailor" even though he dresses like and lives and fights with the Marines.

One of the basic units is the battalion, which is a group composed of several hundred Marines. Each battalion is numbered and belongs to a parent unit called a regiment, which is also numbered. Regiments are quirky in that they are always referred to as the #th Marines (plural and capitalized), i.e. the 7th Marines or 24th Marines. So when you want to note the 2nd battalion of the 7th regiment of the Marine Corps, you call it the 2/7 Marines.

Anyway, here's an article from Marine Corps News last November. Folks from our church will want to read this carefully:

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (Nov. 2, 2006) -- Marines and sailors in the line of fire face a hostile enemy every day. Improvised explosive devices, snipers and suicide bombers are a common threat to American military members in today’s war zones.

With an abundance of new Marines, some may think Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, could be seriously unprepared for the dangers they will see in Iraq, but the 2/7 Marines and sailors think differently.

"The guys are so well trained," said Company F executive officer Lt. John T. Meixner, as the company neared the end of Mojave Viper recently. "It’s a good feeling finishing up this training."

The company finished the month-long exercise Nov. 2. It tested their team skills, as well as the individual Marines’ abilities and decisiveness.

"It’s pretty robust training, with an emphasis on the individual Marines and their unity of thought and action," said the Nooksack, Va., native. "It’s building the Pfc’s ability to make decisions in a complicated environment. It’s building a system of judgment."

With 70 percent of Company F having never deployed, many of its platoons dealt with training new Marines, along with the difficulties of Mojave Viper.

Only four Marines have deployed twice out of Cpl. Sam Tumanuvao’s platoon. Most of them have never deployed at all.

"A lot of guys who are in my platoon are brand new," said Tumanuvao, a 2/7 assaultman. "It made me worry at first, but we’re on our boys all the time. I just want to train them. They still need a lot of work, but I’m pretty comfortable with them right now. They’ve learned a lot already, I can tell."

The company’s training emphasizes many aspects of desert and urban combat environments. And the Marines and sailors find out quickly when they make mistakes. Several times Marines were turned into simulated casualties for the rest of the platoon to deal with.

"They’re having fun with it, but they’re learning," said Lance Cpl. Brandon Forrester, a 2/7 mortarman from East St. Louis, Ill.

"If they get the little card that tells them they got their arm blown off, then their like ‘Man, I really messed up on that one.’ It teaches them a lesson,” he said.

Even the training for corpsman was in depth. Lt. Mark Lund, 2/7’s medical officer, trained corpsman to handle emergency medical situations in a combat zone.

"There are corpsman Coyotes out here," said Seaman Bryan Benkert, a 2/7 corpsman from Kansas City, about the Marines from Tactical Training Exercise Control Group who conduct Mojave Viper. "We respond to medical evacuations. So there’s good training for the corpsman, like the mass casualty house."

Regardless of the difficulty of the training, they enjoyed returning to the field and preparing for Iraq.

"It felt good to go back out and do something," said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Kunst, a 2/7 rifleman from Chicago. "I enjoy my mission."

Now they return for a block of leave and the Marine Corps Birthday Ball before shipping out to Iraq.

"I can’t wait to go back to Iraq," said Lance Cpl. Scott Huse, a 2/7 rifleman from Pendleton, Ind. "We’re freeing their country from oppression … we’re saving thousands in the future."

The new Marines and sailors of 2/7 enjoyed Mojave Viper and learned a lot from each other. It built a foundation of trust in their leaders and in their training. The senior Marines said the company will be ready when they land in Iraq.

30,000 Hits


The blog hit 30,000 yesterday. I actually checked in on 29,999 and refreshed for the milestone hit of which I then took a screenshot.

Then I immediately jumped over to the website of my cousin and her husband who's a missionary pilot in Ecuador. And wouldn't you know it, I just happened to be the 11,000th hit on their blog, only seconds after passing a round number on mine. Cool!

I just think it's neat that two blogs that read mostly by friends, family, and people associated with our ministries get so many hits. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Can't Get a Date from a Calendar

If an airplane is beautiful it's only because it has to be. For the most part form follows function in aircraft design. The laws of aerodynamics, or stealth technology, require it. They set out to be fast or fuel efficient or stealthy and end up being strikingly beautiful. The 747, P-51, SR-71, and F-16 are beautiful planes. It's easy to add the F-86, F-22, 777, and many others to the list of aesthetically pleasing planes as well.

Other aircraft however fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, like the A380 (pictured below). It's an exciting new airliner that is the largest commercial plane ever built, but it's also really ugly. Can an airplane look a little slow (and I don't mean airspeed)?

It's okay to be ugly. The B-52, A-10, F-4, and many others are so ugly their reflection looks away. Yet ugly planes can be important, useful, and historic, which brings an affection all its own.

But until it proves otherwise, the pudgy A380 is going to have to get by with a nice personality.

Valentine's Hearts

Yesterday was a busy day. Besides work and a missionary presentation at church, a lot of other things were going on:

Shannon hasn't been sleeping well and I offered (since it was Valentine's Day) to let her sleep in. I figured she might sleep until 7:3o or 8:00. At 10:30 she staggered into the light. And I wondered how Elijah was able to sleep for twelve hours at a shot!

The boys went sledding for the first time. I took Brennan, Tanner, and Elijah up to the church where we have a pretty good sledding hill. It was only 18º and the wind was blowing but the kids loved it. I could fit all three of them on the toboggan at the same time and if I pushed they went really fast. They had blast.

We let our friends know last night that we wouldn't be hosting the usual card game since it was Valentine's Day, a good day to spend as much time as possible with your spouse. Or so I thought. We received a surprising amount of grief over the cancellation, even from the married guys! C'mon now, it was Valentine's Day. Of course we're not playing cards! Good grief.

Do you remember the little candy hearts that have messages written on them? Elijah (almost three) was eating them when asked, "What does that candy heart say on it?" It probably said "LUV YOU" or "BE MINE" but Eli insisted otherwise. He held it in his fingers for all to see and growled, "TAKE A NAP!!!" I wonder where he hears that?

Finally, KU won their game handily over Colorado last night. It's the sixteenth time in 17 years that the Jayhawks have swept the Buffaloes. Mom and Dad were able to go the game with our relatives out there. It's easier (and maybe cheaper) to get a ticket for a road game than a home game in Lawrence.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Random Right Wing Rantings

Why? Because I live in a world where I hear the other side all day long and I know this stuff will really stick in the craw of some people. It's just good fun to lump all of this together and watch folks have conniption fits. Enjoy.

  • The House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality had to cancel a hearing entitled “Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet?” Why was it canceled? Washington DC was struck by an ice storm. You can't make this stuff up.
  • I'm currently reading Michael Crichton's book against global warming, State of Fear. I've just started but it's already more interesting than the Da Vinci Code, though both books do start with a college geek-type guy and a French chick in France. The difference is that Crichton knew to kill off the geek in the first chapter. If only…
  • Do you remember the Sacajawea dollar coin? How about the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar? Neither do I. And I would be all for a dollar coin since, according to the General Accounting Office, the annual savings of replacing the $1 banknote with a $1 coin would be $747 million. Per year! So I was pleased to hear that this year the US Mint will release new versions of the dollar coin with the faces of the presidents, in order, starting with George Washington. Four new presidential dollars will be released each year, kind of like the 50-states quarters. These coins also have a rare feature - inscriptions on the outside edge. Now if only the Treasury Department would stop printing five billion $1 bills each year, we could start saving some money.
  • What does it say about you if you stand to gain from a Chosin Reservoir or Tet Offensive kind of American loss? It's scary that so many US politicians are eager for some sign of failure in Iraq. Most bothersome is that the clearest sign of failure in the minds of most Americans is the death of American troops. This leaves anti-Iraq, Bush-bashing, second-guessing political hacks in the position to benefit from American soldiers dying, and the more the better. If we had a catastrophic loss of hundreds or even thousands of people in our military, it would guarantee the election of a certain type of candidate and doom anyone who has ever supported the war. I'll don't think I could live with myself if I knew that I stand to gain from hundreds and hundreds of flag-draped coffins.
  • On the other hand, if we do turn the corner in Iraq and the American people are able to wrap their minds around it, there's only a handful of presidential candidates that could survive that kind of good news: Hillary Clinton (perhaps the only Democrat currently running that fits this category), Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and only a couple of conservative dark horses.
  • Did you catch this new show on Fox News Channel from the creators of 24? It's kind of the conservative version of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
  • Since everyone is chomping at the bit to get out of Iraq, I demand that we bring the troops home from South Korea, Germany, Japan, and Cuba. We've occupied these nations for 287 years collectively and I say enough is enough! Oh, wait, those are places where we won (or at least broke even) and it has been in our strategic interest to stay there. In a case like Japan, the nation's disposition changed radically and has become one of our closest allies. So never mind, and sorry about the mistake. The next time I call for the "troops to come home," I'll stop thinking in the here and now, check my facts first, and ponder how things might be 10, 20 or 50 years down the road.
  • Czech president Vaclav Klaus came out and said that Global Warming is nonsense. He said, "Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate. Sadly, it has nothing to do with social sciences either. Still, it is becoming fashionable and this fact scares me." Along with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, Klaus just made my (very short) list of world leaders I can really respect. Keep trying there Ahmadinejad!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Anthem of a Generation

[Thanks again, Dustin, I'd seen this before and forgotten about it.]

Repenting of Everything but Gluttony

National Pancake Day is next Tuesday, Feb 20. So get your free short stack at IHOP and, while you're there, donate to the Children's Miracle Network.

But National Pancake Day isn't just a gimmick; it's actually Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins (Ash Wednesday). What's ironic is that "shriving" means to hear confessions and "shrove" Tuesday is supposed to be a day of repentance. But because Lent is a time of material abstinence, there's a lot of extra food to get rid of, like fatty meat and eggs. So there would be a feast on Shrove Tuesday to use up the stuff that wouldn't last 40 days. These feasts led to the day being known as Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday) and Pancake Day.

Instead of a spiritually sober day of repentance and reflection, it became of a day of feasting and revelry. One last fling before the lock-down.

Good grief.

I can sympathize with the good intentions behind Lent, but instead of acting spiritually bipolar, why not act in moderation all of the time? Live a life of quiet satisfaction, neither starving nor gorging yourself. Repent everyday for each day's sins and be temperate and self-controlled. This sounds more like the Christian life that is described in Scripture than the yo-yo binge of concessions and demands that have marred much of Church history.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Our Favorite Aussie

Why do we need a politician from Australia to say what needs to be said?

John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, said that Barack Obama would be bad for Australia. Why? He would hand victory to the terrorists and a defeat to the US, which would negatively affect Australia, a close US ally.

Howard said, "I think [Obama's proposed March '08 withdrawal from Iraq] would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory."

"If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats."


Howard reaffirmed his steadfastness as an ally in the war against Islamic terrorists, saying that Australia needed to stand by America during its difficult struggle in Iraq, "[During difficult times] is precisely the time when friends should be available to stick by you."

[Thanks, Dustin, for the heads up.]

2 Year Anniversary

This month marks two years that I've been blogging. I've made 835 posts and received about 29,700 hits, mostly from friends and family.

I appreciate each of you that take time to read my eclectic thoughts and rants. But for all the different topics I touch on I hope that see the common threads that run through my blog.

Foremost is the contentment I have with where I am in life:
  • I love living in Kansas City and being identified with this part of the country. I wouldn't want to live somewhere else if I had the option.
  • I love being a preacher. There's no other calling that I could be happy with.
  • I love my family. I thank God for my wife and boys and I can't imagine it differently.

Also important on this blog is my thirst for righteousness. I don't mean personal piety, which is another topic entirely, but rather justice and wisdom and reason. I want to combat dishonesty, cowardice and selfishness in our culture and I want to take a stand for what's right, wherever I see it.

This is the kind of men I want my boys to become: contented and principled. Only their faith in Christ is more important to me.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Random Thoughts 2/10/07

  • Between now and March 5, you can vote on the next Missouri license plate. It's surprising really, the state of Mizzery already has an attractive plate and I don't personally think any of the three new options are an improvement. But I voted for the one with the pretty bluebird on it (versus the two plain white ones).
  • How many Iranian bombs and agents do we need to find in Iraq before we get upset? Aren't they making war against us? Why is that okay? Secretary of Defense Gates gave evidence this week of Iranian serial numbers on weapons and bombs found in Iraq, and we've known for years that Syria and Iran were exacerbating the problem. But I've got a sinking feeling that we'll just take it. We have a long history of willfully ignoring belligerent third parties. As long as we don't want to escalate a war, the bad guys get away with murder (literally) and we'll just take it.
  • KU plays MU this afternoon. It would Bill Self's 300th win. Go Jayhawks!
  • I heard someone make a grumbling comment about General Order Number 1, no alcohol (among other things) in a combat zone. As someone who doesn't drink at all, I guess I don't see it as that great a sacrifice. But putting it in perspective militarily, the Navy prohibiting alcohol aboard ship in 1914 – that's 93 years ago for those of you scoring at home.
  • Graham got his first haircut today. I'll see if I can get some pictures of that later.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Brennan's First Game

Brennan (6) played his first game of touch football yesterday. He and I were outside working in the garage (yes, you read that correctly) and I saw six or seven of the neighborhood kids playing football in the yard across the street.

Knowing that Brennan doesn't really know anything about football but loves to be around other kids, I asked if he wanted to play. He said yes but looked mortified at the notion of approaching them. So I interrupted the game and asked if Brennan could play. The kids, Brennan's age and a little older, said sure and Brennan jumped right in.

His first play they handed the ball to him and yelled "Run!" Brennan ran to the sideline and threw the ball five yards down field, incomplete. Anticlimactic sure, but that's okay. He beamed with excitement as he rushed the quarterback and chased the kick returner. It's just a big game of tag, really, and he loved it.

Unfortunately it was getting dark and at 20º too cold to play for long. Between plays he would wave to me with a big smile yet complain about how cold he was, but he complained more when it was time to leave.

Brennan still doesn't know what the quarterback is or how to catch the ball. Which is funny, considering what a football geek I am.

But I thought he played great.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Random Thoughts 2/8/07

  • A Bears fan, formerly known as Scott Wiese, lost a bet and now has to legally change his name… to "Peyton Manning." He's reportedly going through with it, though probably not permanently. After all of the embarrassment, I'll wager he stops betting on sports.
  • The Airbus A380 had its first media flight yesterday, hoping to impress potential customers. It's the world's largest passenger plane, double decker all the way. It's also an over-sized headache. Because of delays and other problems, many customers have canceled their orders and gone with trustworthy Boeing 747s instead. Boeing has also made a killing by predicting where the market was actually going, selling ultra-modern and efficient medium sized aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner instead of super-jumbo jets. Ultimately it's better for both companies to be successful but it's hard not to root for the Americans, especially when they're on a roll.
  • We're having a movie night at the church tomorrow. After all of the guff about Super Bowl parties being "illegal" if the screen was over 55 inches, you have to wonder if this is okay either. Fortunately a church can get licensed to show movies just like we are to play copyrighted music.
  • I just watched a news piece on name brand fur coats, such as Tommy Hilfiger, that was not synthetic "faux fur" as advertised but instead was real dog hair from China. Hmmm. That's disgusting.
  • Arena Football starts in March. The Kansas City Brigade have added some new players including former Saints TE Boo Williams, former K-State QB Michael Bishop, and former Chiefs backup QB Jonathan Quinn. I got to go to one game last year and I'd gladly go again if the opportunity presented itself. It's a lot of fun. I especially can't wait for the Sprint Center to open up.
  • Our Sunday School classes are collecting vitamins to send to Belize. A guy I went to Bible College with is now a student at KU Med and they intend to send tens of thousands of vitamin bottles to the Central American country. They want multi-vitamins, children's chewables, pre-natal vitamins, etc. before the first of March.
  • Our church took an offering for the soup kitchens in Kansas City last Sunday. The total was $1002 dollars, which goes entirely to those ministries.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Winter Wonders

It sure seems that in the last 25 years here in Kansas City we've had a lot of mild winters with more ice than snow. But we've had two winters in a row now with lots of snow and cold weather.

My boys are the primary beneficiaries of a good, long-lasting snow fall. It's all Tanner can do not to eat the stuff and all three of the older boys like making snow angels. Brennan knows how to make snowmen and snow forts and they all think that throwing snowballs is greatest thing since sliced bread.

We had a good snow after dark about a month ago and I bundled the boys up and went out and played in the front yard.

Here's Elijah traipsing through the snow.

Brennan can hardly contain himself. He loves the snow!

Don't do it, Tanner. Resist the temptation!

Poor Graham just watches the snow from a distance. Don't worry, son, you'll soon get snow down your back and snot down your front like the rest of them.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Random Super Bowl Commercial Thoughts

I thought this year's Super Bowl ads were better than average. There were several laughs in the first half of the night and my kids really liked a few of them.

  • I'm worn out of the dalmatians and clydesdales. That was 1998 when we saw the two dalmatians that were separated at birth, a commercial to which this year's commercial was really similar. Dalmatians are great but let's take a break for awhile. Maybe we can bring the frogs out of retirement.
  • The crabs worshiping the ice chest was this year's highest rated commercial. My kids didn't get it and I thought it was just kind of funny.
  • The three funniest ads in my opinion were: Blockbuster's rabbit abusing the mouse (Brennan and Tanner's favorite); Bud Light's slapping replacing fist bumping; and Bud Light's rock, paper, scissors. There were several that came close to these three, but slapstick humor had me from the word go.
  • The best ad overall? Coke's parody of the video game Grand Theft Auto in which the main character goes around town doing good. That was as clever as anything I'd seen all night and it was visually appealing. It was really done.
  • The best "Aha" moment of the night, when the message of the ad was communicated in a memorable way, was the GM commercial about the robot that dreams he gets fired from his job. It was funny, it made sense, and it sent a clear message about the company's commitment to quality. But then so does the Chevy minivan sitting in my driveway.
  • The Revlon commercial with Sheryl Crow was the second lowest rated commercial. I was surprised at the time, questioning if this was the ideal audience for Revlon to drop $2.6 million.
  • Go Daddy also had one of the lowest rated commercials and they deserved it for the gutter smut they dredged up. Thankfully my kids had stepped out of the room for a moment.
  • I recognized Charles Barkley and needed help with the other guy. And that goes for Robert Goulet too; how many football fans can recognize Robert Goulet?!
  • I lost my appetite after seeing Snickers' mechanics commercial. By the time the Doritos' check out girl came along was I was done.
  • And finally, I have not and don't intend to ever drink Sierra Mist. Let it go, Pepsi, just let it go.
See and read about the ads here at USAToday.

Congrats Colts

Way to go, Indianapolis!

The Colts beat the Bears 29-17. The rain kept it from being the blowout I was anticipating and the Bears did score one lonely offensive TD.

I'm glad to see Peyton Manning get his ring, but he was already a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. I'm curious what this championship will do for the Hall of Fame potential of someone like Marvin Harrison.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super Bowl XLI

Okay, here's my Super Bowl prediction thought process:

  • On the one hand, I really believe in great defenses and special teams. They win championships. Point: Bears
  • On the other hand, Peyton Manning may be one of the finest quarterbacks of all time and if anyone can find a way to outwit and outplay the Bears' defense, he's the one. Point: Colts
  • I always root for the AFC. Point: Colts
  • There are lots of good guys to root for on both teams including Dungy, Smith, Manning, Harrison, Urlacher, etc. Draw
  • The Chiefs were knocked out of the playoffs by the Colts and it's always easier to say, "But they went on to win the whole thing!" Point: Colts
Conclusion: I predict (and desire) the Colts to win. So let's go with a blowout, Colts 34 - Bears 10, without the Bears scoring a single offensive TD.

What a Loser (14 weeks)

Though I'm still losing weight, I've definitely plateaued. I'm down about 30 pounds now, only losing a pound or so per week through January. But a lot of that time was spent indoors being sick and not exercising. I've got to get back to the YMCA!

I'm optimistic that I can still lose 45 pounds in the next four months, but I'll need to work a lot harder. Honestly the first 30 came off with no effort at all, just a little exercise and avoiding pizza and regular Mt. Dew. I bet that I'll actually have to try in order to reach my goal – it's only reasonable.

I have 17 weeks before my anniversary on June 1, so that's 2.6 pounds per week. I better get busy.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hillary or Hugo?

Everyone's favorite pick for the next President just did a Hugo Chavez impression, saying today that she was going to "take those profits" from American oil companies. Yikes!

Surely she doesn't mean that. She intends for the government to seize the assets of American companies? Um… Madam Senator, do you realize that's the kind of thing Fidel Castro and other socialists did? Do you realize that you could devastate our economy if you take money out of the hands of stockholders like that? Isn't profit the whole point of running a business and what those stockholders wanted? Watch out Bill Gates.

Good grief.

The next thing you know, she'll want the government to take over health care or something.

Watching with Horror

I just has a conversation about movies that show the Holocaust. I'd say that there are three movies that are essential viewing:

1. Schindler's List (1993) – I don't know if this is the best movie, but it's certainly the definitive movie about the Holocaust, winning seven Academy Awards.

2. Pianist (2002) – Here's another Oscar winner (three awards) that was a stunning movie, directed by Roman Polanski, who escaped the Jewish ghetto where his parents were killed.

3. Life is Beautiful: Vita è Bella (1997) – This is probably the most haunting movie to me as a husband and father. You can see this Oscar-winning (4) Italian movie in the original language with subtitles (recommended) or with English voice-overs (distracting).

Other movies to consider might include Grey Zone (2002), Band of Brothers: Why We Fight (2001); and Voyage of the Damned (1976).

Groundhog Day

Phil: Do you ever have deja vu Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don't think so, but I could check with the kitchen.

By the way, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early Spring this morning. A lot of good that does us here in KC, we're due for a week of highs in the teens and twenties. Brrrr… The high tomorrow is supposed to be 11º – where's that global warming Al promised me?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tokens of Appreciation

Every so often the church gets "fan mail." This usually comes in the form of beer bottles and beer cans thrown at our mailbox or in our yard. The mail box shows the consequences of being hit more than once and on one occasion our admirers left an empty six pack of bottles inside of our mailbox. That was cute.

This last week there were several Bud Light cans at the end of driveway, so I picked them up and brought them in the church, figuring that an aluminum beer can will recycle as well as a Diet Mt. Dew can (I keep a bag for crushed cans in my office).

I did get a reaction from a few people as I walked in the building with the cans and I'm curious what the cleaning people thought with those cans sitting on top of the pile, but I'm not too worried. I may be just about the last person on the planet to whom an accusation of drinking would stick.

Feeling the Heat

Chris Wallace tore apart a presidential candidate on Fox News last weekend, asking tough, well-prepared questions and pressing hard with no mercy (as a journalist probably should). There were no softball questions and Wallace had anticipated the candidate's responses and had tough follow up questions, sometimes using the candidate's own words and his own hometown newspapers against him.

The candidate seemed ill-prepared and over-whelmed, and was tripped up repeatedly. Exempting our current President, whose unease in front of the camera is legendary, this was the worst I've seen any politician present himself on television. Unfortunately the candidate under the gun was Sam Brownback. I couldn't have been more stunned and disappointed.

But if a conservative Republican can't survive a tough but fair interview on Fox News, how far is he going to get anywhere else?

Like I said, I was disappointed.