Friday, June 29, 2012

Tracking Jayhawks

The NBA draft was last night and two Jayhawks were selected.  Thomas Robinson went #5 overall to Sacramento, a team that's bad enough defensively to need him right away.  Robinson was the 10th Jayhawk lottery pick since 2000.  Tyshawn Taylor went in the second round (41st overall) to the Brooklyn Nets, now just 10 miles from Taylor's hometown, with lots of roster space to afford Taylor a chance to make the roster.

Just as I had worried, only 29 of the of the 47 players who left college early got drafted.  18 players have forfeited a free college education to go pro and have likely missed on their NBA dreams entirely.  Little comfort comes knowing that a few of those guys weren't going back to school anyway because of legal or academic problems.

Congratulations and good luck, TRob and Tyshawn!

Now on to the new guys:
In addition to sophomores Jamari Traylor (6-8 forward) and Ben McLemore (6-5 guard), who were both on the team last year but suspended from play, there are a bunch of new faces to learn.

Perry Ellis (national high school player of the year, 6-8 from Wichita and a 4.0 student and valedictorian!) and Andrew White (6-6) are four-star, top-10-at-their-position players, who play power forward and small forward, respectively.

The other three commitments are from Zach Peters, Anrio Adams, and Landon Lucas (a forward, guard, and center from Texas, Seattle, and Portland).  Peters committed to Kansas in his sophomore year, almost two and half years ago.  Each of these guys could be a surprise talent that rises to the top (like Thomas Robinson) or they could be the next redshirt or transfer.  Time will tell.

Then it gets fuzzy.  Though he's not listed on most websites, the team announced a few weeks ago that Milton Doyle (a 6-4 point guard from Chicago) has joined the team after de-committing from Flordia International and Milt has already played in an alumni scrimmage event on campus.  Add to that two walk-on coaches' sons Tyler Self and Evan Manning, who are already with the team.  And still more recruits' names are floating around like Nino Jackson, Karviar Shepherd, and Jordan Trebutt along with potential transfers to KU from other schools.

The problem becomes roster space.  By my count, that's 18 players counting the walk-ons but a college hoops team only gets 13 scholarships.  I don't think walk-ons count since they pay for school out of their own pocket, but even if Self, Manning, and Niko Roberts pay to play, KU must still redshirt at least two players.  KU has four players who have already been redshirted including Justin Wesley, Keith Langford's little brother, who can't redshirt again but he could give up his scholarship and walk-on like he did his first year when Langford paid his tuition.  Though surely he won't be asked to that.

Finally, there's been some coaching changes too.  Assistant coach Danny Manning left and was replaced by Niko Roberts' dad, Norm Roberts.  Roberts has coached on Bill Self's staff at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois, and Self's first year at Kansas and is back again after an eight year absence.  Director of Basketball Operations Barry Hinson left and was replaced by former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler.

Those are all my notes since April.  We'll see who gets redshirted, injured, arrested, or offended that they are twelve or thirteen spots down the roster for the first time in their life.  KU plays a few exhibition games in Europe this summer and then the season starts in November.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hello Socialism, Goodbye Obama

It is better to determine the direction of this country by elections and legislation than by courts' decisions.  Therefore, we have a chance to do this better in November by putting conservatives in the Senate and the White House.  It's too bad Obama-Care didn't get struck down on a technicality today.  It's especially too bad that the swing-vote was the supposedly-conservative chief justice.  But this progressive victory might actually be bad news for President Obama.

Now November's election is about both the ailing economy and increasing big-government socialism.  We are now watching European countries going bankrupt because of big-government programs like Obama-care; this is an undeniably bad law that very likely will have bad consequences for our economy.  This decision today will light a fire under conservatives, who otherwise might have rested on their laurels saying, "my vote doesn't matter; the Supreme Court will stop Obama."  Now, only this election stands in the way of our country following Europe over a cliff.

So, are you registered to vote?  Check today.


Random Supreme Court decision thoughts:
  • If chief justice Roberts had voted the other way, the entire law would have been struck down, not just the mandate.
  • Great selection there with Chief Roberts, President Bush, great pick.  Why do Republicans keep nominating judges that vote like liberal activists?
  • Free market principles, buying across state-lines, would have worked much better to reduce the costs of health care.
  • Romney should bang this drum like it's going out of style.
  • People don't want health insurance.  They want health subsidization, i.e. they want to sign up and have someone else pay 80-100% of their over-inflated health costs for pre-existing conditions.  That's not insurance
  • How do people not look at socialist countries and cringe?  Lines, waiting, bureaucracy, non-doctors making decisions about whether you deserve to be allocated resources.
  • I wonder what country our rich people will fly to when it otherwise takes six months to get an MRI or your grandmother is given a painkiller instead of life-extending surgery.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/26/12

  • VBS is going great this week. Good job, Chris!
  • I mowed our yard today (completely) for the first time since May.  And half of it wasn't necessary.  We need more rain.
  • I love that I can hand the weed-eater to my son and he can actually do a pretty good job and not complain about doing it. 
  • Speaking of Brennan and VBS… next year he'll be too old to attend our own program.  Wow.
  • Great video here (and funny too) on how to pronounce Uranus.  The whole time I was thinking: in Greek it would be something like oo-RON-ohs, so the very end of the video made me quite happy.
  • Has anyone noticed there's a full-on war going on in Syria?
  • Here's an awesome video comparing Microsoft's new tablet announcement to the iPad announcement a few years back.  I thought something seemed familiar…
  • The NBA draft is Thursday night.  Perhaps as many as a couple dozen players who left college early because they were told they would make millions will NOT get drafted.  About 50 underclassmen declared for the 60 draft spots that must be shared with seniors and foreign players and, based on last year's draft, only about 25-30 will get drafted.  But we'll see.  Maybe not everyone's shot at a free education will be ruined for nothing.
  • Has anyone read any of the Walt Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/21/12

  • Shannon and I are almost ready for Day Camp this Saturday at Mission Lake, which is church camp for 1st and 2nd graders that we are in charge of again this year.  We'll introduce them to camp, teach them a Bible lesson, memorize a Bible verse, do a craft, play lots of games and have lots of fun.  This year, Graham is our first-grader-to-be.  That's hard to believe!
  • I am a "thoughtful guy."
  • The BCS is changing (thankfully) and there are several scenarios that could put a team like Notre Dame in the Big 12.  Hmmm.
  • Hey media, you forgot to wring your hands in manufactured outrage and anguish over the milestone of 2,000 American deaths in Afghanistan.  Back in 2005, everyone on TV went apoplectic over the senseless tragedy that was Iraq when we passed 2,000 deaths there.  But it went completely unheralded last week now that President Obama is commander in chief.  Did they stop caring about soldiers?  Do they no longer blame politicians for our military actions?  Where's the outrage?
  • Other than weed-eating, I don't think we've mowed (or needed to) in almost a month.  We just keep knocking off the tops of the weeds and waiting another week.  But it rained buckets here last night, so now the grass will probably start growing again.
  • Here's a funny list of the 21 worst things in the world.  I'm on aboard with almost of all of them.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter = dumbest thing I've ever heard.  I know the book was a popular bit of re-imagined history but c'mon. 
  • Yay.  The Heat won.  I'm… thrilled… I guess.  Woot?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/19/12

  • I could not feel more blessed by my church family.  Sometimes things are tough – and I definitely get down sometimes – but inevitably someone comes along and reminds me how this church loves my wife and kids and appreciates our ministry here.  Thank you.
  • Oh, look.  Microsoft made an iPad.  Remember, it's just like an iPad, not a tablet-shaped Zune.  What could possibly go wrong?
  • And don't get me wrong… I would love to see Microsoft or somebody produce a viable tablet computer that actually challenges Apple to push the iPad to even greater heights.  Competition is good and right now there isn't any.
  • When is it going to rain?  We keep getting forecasts for rain (about once every ten days), and we get a great front row seat to the neighboring towns getting rained on… but it's pretty dry here at home.
  • The church is beginning to look like… VBS!
  • In Germany you can now get a credit card decorated with the face of Karl Marx.  Seriously. German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz held an online competition and they picked the guy that invented communism to put on a MasterCard.  Wow.
  • Great little article by the clever Mark Steyn here about our celebrity president here.
  • For the life of me I can't keep track of all the new faces on KU's basketball team.  There are guys who didn't play much last year including two that were suspended and didn't play at all, two new walk-ons that are coaches' sons (Self and Manning), and about half dozen incoming freshmen on scholarship.  By my count, about three-quarters of the team will be new (or relatively new) faces, and that includes some guys that will see significant playing time.  If I can find an updated roster, I'll blog it and get these new faces sorted out.
  • I barely watch the NBA but I sure do wish Oklahoma City would beat Miami.  Go Thunder!  Please.
  • Hmm.  The BBC's "Sherlock" won best mini-series and best actor (Benedict Cumberbatch) from the Critic's Choice Television Awards.  I wish I'd seen the un-clipped version instead of the chopped down mess that PBS aired here in America.
  • Adidas announced today that they canceled the "shackle shoe."  I still think it was a PR stunt.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/18/12

  • My kids are have been away at church camp (without us!) and we don't know what to do with ourselves.  Brennan was gone last week and now Tanner and Eli are gone this week.  It is so weird with only three kids in the house.
  • Here are pics of 17 dogs that are having more fun than you.
  • How on earth does Adidas think that basketball shoes with prison-orange leg shackles attached is a good idea?  Everybody has been buzzing about how racist that seems, assuming these shoes are actual products and not some bizarre PR stunt.  Just wait until people find out that the "Adi" in Adidas is short for Adolf (true story).
  • Here's an interesting chart showing the color distribution of movie posters since 1914.  Overall, the trend shows that posters are darker and bluer than one hundred years ago when they were largely hand-drawn.  The chart was made from samples of 35,000 posters.
  • We watched the second season opener of TNT's sci-fi show "Falling Skies."  Wow, did it have that stilted B-movie campiness last season?  Ugh.
  • I think the ridiculous amount of golf our President has played (100 rounds while running the country) is going to haunt him in November.  That and the similarly crazy number of fundraisers at celebrity's houses.  I'm just surprised he isn't more readily labeled "elitist" and "out of touch."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/12/12

  • The Crown Center Square fountain will be closed to children playing in the water.  Our kids have loved going there and splashing around.  But now it's not "safe" so the old tradition will be prohibited.
  • I'm surprised, but over the last thirty years, Americans views of creation haven't really changed.  In 1982, 44% of Americans believed God created humans with another 38% saying God guided evolution.  In 2012, the number are almost identical with 46% who believe God created man.
  • Go Oklahoma City Thunder!
  • Yeah, kittens have it rough.  Sleeping, biting each other, sleeping some more.
  • New KU basketball player, Perry Ellis, averaged almost 26 points per game and had a 4.0 grade point average.  He's already easy to like!  KU is going to have so many new faces this fall that we'll all need a media guide to know who's who.
  • Pacquiao was robbed.  This is why boxing has slipped into meaninglessness.
  • Apple had another one of their famous keynote addresses.  It lasted almost two hours but you can watch it in 90 seconds here.  All of our computers and i-devices are about to get a lot cooler.
  • Nice little things about Apple's announcements:  the iPad will finally get a native clock app, the iPad smart cover now comes with a back shell and is called the "smart case," turn-by-turn GPS directions for the iPhone, Siri for iPads, more emoji emoticons for you texters, dictation for desktops, Siri now knows sports and movies and more, laptops are more incredible than ever, maps brought to you by TomTom, and much more.
  • What Apple didn't announce yesterday: a new iPhone design, redesigned desktop macs, a new Apple TV, the purchase of facebook or Twitter or Google, a native weather app for iPad, or a new 17-inch laptop.

What to Read…

I read a lot.  I read everyday, sometimes for hours, mostly for work, but also for pleasure (which is still mostly for work).

I'm always looking for good reading lists and recommendations and I want to pass them along to others.  So here's a few lists to look at.

If your trouble is decision making, here's a fantastic flow chart that can guide you to every obscure corner of the book store.  I'd heartily recommend about 75% of the suggestions here; two of the books are ones I'm actively reading on my iPhone right now.  The chart includes a lot of classics and only a few objectionable books that I wouldn't bother with.  And frankly, if you worked your way through this entire chart, you'd be pretty well read.

Wired's Geek Dad had a list of 67 Books Every Geek should Read to their Kids before age 10.  Most of these are alright but I'm not sure that I'd read Ender's Game or even the Lord of the Rings to a nine-year old.  But the list includes greats like Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and one of my personal favorites, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  Almost all of these books should be on a list for 8-12 year olds (and their parents; I really enjoyed Winnie-the-Pooh last year).

Thanks to facebook, I asked my fifth-grade teacher what books we read back then and got some wonderful suggestions.  But my next step is reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my six and eight-year olds, who missed out when I read the series to my older two boys.

This is little further out there, but here's a list of sci-fi for people who don't read sci-fi.  I'd add Ayn Rand's Anthem, which is often free as an e-book, and Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers (nothing like the movies at all).

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Best Commencement Speech Ever

Check out this short commencement speech, which is almost like the speech I've had bouncing around inside my head for years now.  I just hate it when the speaker shamelessly panders to the graduates, slathering them in compliments and cliches and tells them they're the best-est ever and all their dreams will come true.  This guy, in contrast, gives a great speech full of humor and straight talk that cuts out the pandering nonsense.  Bravo!

Love it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/7/12

  • We had a wonderful day at Omaha's zoo yesterday with Grandma and Grandpa.  The weather was beautiful, the Henry Doorly Zoo is one of the best zoo's in the country, and the kids loved being there with my folks.  It was fantastic, all around.
  • After going to the zoo, and not napping one wink in the car going or coming, three-year-old Anneliese slept thirteen hours straight last night.
  • I was disappointed by PBS's showing of the second season (or "series" in British parlance) of BBC's "Sherlock."  Several minutes were cut from each of the three episodes to make it fit neatly into 90 minutes and leave room for the opening and closing advertisements.  It's not that the second season itself was that bad, parts of it were actually really good, but I suspect that all of those cuts threw the show's pacing off stride.  It made the show a bit underwhelming over all in my opinion.  A third season will air next year.
  • The Kansas City Zoo has made tremendous strides in the last few years but Omaha is still quite a bit superior.  But that gap is closing.
  • New Hobbit production video blog.
  • Here's a nice little article about the TWA museum, located in TWA's old headquarters, here in Kansas City.

Thursday Devotion

I wrote a couple of devotions for church camp this year.  The following is the devotion the campers will be reading today at Sr. High camp.

"God is Greater Than our Past, Present, and Future"
by Jared Altic

One of my favorite television shows is "American Pickers."  These two guys travel all over America, digging thru barns and backyards looking for junk to re-sell.  It's ridiculous what they think is valuable, a rusted-out bicycle frame, a 50-year-old broken toy, a rusty motorcycle engine. They snatch it up, paying hundreds of dollars for what had just been sitting uselessly in someone's yard.  But they're experts.  They know that some junk isn't really junk.  Where other people see rusty trash, those experts see what they call "rusty gold."

God is an expert in the subject of you.  And he sees "rusty gold."

He knows your real value, even if you've been left rusting in someone's backyard for years.  He knows how badly you deserve to be appreciated and loved, not ignored or mistreated.  God knows that you should belong to him, now and forever.

1 Pet 5:8-11 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Our God sees the suffering you've endured, whether from your sins or the sins of someone else.  But when you choose to belong to Him, He will restore you.  He will make you valuable again.  Our God will make you strong.  He then can use that experience so that you can help others.

No matter what has happened in your past, God knows what your present and future can be in Him.

Pray:  How has God used broken people in the past? How am I like a lost valuable, covered in rust, that God can restore and use?  With God's strength, what can He do with me now and in my future?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Random Thoughts 6/4/12

  • I took my boys to VBS at a neighboring church today.  It's funny how things are so similar and so different at the same time from how we do vacation Bible school.  
  • Three of the incoming freshmen basketball players at Kansas moved into the dorms this weekend… the first weekend in June.  Why on earth are those kids already on campus for a sport that doesn't start until November?  Move-in day is June 3?
  • Ten Apple iPads are sold for every Samsung tablet sold.  iPads are dominating the tablet market, which speaks volumes for how well designed the iPad.  But better competition would probably drive the technology to improve faster.  I'm still waiting to see a tablet that can truly replace my laptop.
  • The next version of Nintendo's Wii video game console was unveiled yesterday.  We're Wii owners but I'm not sure if a $400 upgrade would be a good investment for our family.  Console gaming is in serious jeopardy of dying a slow and overpriced death.  A single Wii game costs $40.  A great iPad game costs $5 or less, usually 99¢, and I don't have to travel to a store to get it.  I've had a Nintendo console, of one sort or another, for most of the last thirty years, but I'm questioning whether I've already bought my last one.
  • I'll post the other church camp devotion I wrote Thursday morning.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs are getting back a lot of great players who were hurt last year.  They maybe just might be kinda good this year… maybe.
  • It's crazy how often the church phone rings and it's not a legit call.  I've had a dozen (no kidding) fax machine calls today.  Who's faxing us?  Everyday?  I get telemarketers constantly and have asked them to put the church on their no call lists, not that that seems to help.  I've refused online yellow pages ads a hundred times and every office supplies salesman in the country has our number on speed dial, though we've never ordered through them.  We get pre-recorded robo-calls from politicians and all kinds of surveys and solicitations thinking that the church number is a residential number.  I bet not one call in twenty (or fifty?!) is from an actual person wanting to reach the church for spiritual reasons.
  • The best way to reach me is to call or text my cell, day or night.

Monday Devotion

I wrote a couple of devotions for church camp this year.  The following is the devotion the campers will be reading today at Sr. High camp.

"God is Greater Than our Hearts"
by Jared Altic & Chris Coker

How many times have your heard someone say, "trust your gut," "go with what makes you happy," or "follow your heart"? 

What terrible advice!!

Our hearts change all the time.  What we like and how we feel depends on our moods, our situation, and who's watching.  We often flip-flop on what we want, even daily!  We can be completely fickle and undependable.  How can we trust our gut?  When people base their decisions on how they feel, they jump in and out of relationships with no regard to commitment.  When they do what makes them happy, they quit early and flake out on their friends.  In an effort to find happiness, they leave a trail of hurt and offended people.  When we do these things, our heart, which was tugging at us to act selfishly in the first place, now turns against us and causes feelings of guilt and shame.

How can we put our hearts at ease?  How can we know what to do so that our hearts are not restlessly aching with the pain of bad decisions?

Read 1John 3:11-24

What should be the motive guiding our decisions in regard to other people?  Look at verse 16.

What two things are we commanded to do by God?  Look at verse 23.

Pray:  How have I acted selfishly and not out of love?  In what ways can I lay down my life for my brothers every day?

Friday, June 01, 2012

16 Years

Today Shannon and I have been married for sixteen years (about 20 years since we began dating).

For those of you keeping score at home, that's 5,844 days, nine cars, eight cell phones, five homes, four sons, three dogs, two ministries, and one precious daughter (in a pear tree?).

My plan, Lord willing: love just that one woman for my entire life.  No exceptions, no wavering, total devotion.