Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sophie the Beagle, 2007-2013

We had to put down our beagle today.

Sophie was suffering from what might have been canine spinal calcification.  If we had done spinal surgery, which we would never have spent the money on, there was only a chance she would get better.  The vet thought she could end up paralyzed and likely be incontinent for the rest of her life.  They agreed to put her down this evening, the day before Thanksgiving.

Sophie in 2007
We got Sophie as tiny pup from Bart Hinz's in-laws in the summer of 2007.  Brennan, our oldest, wasn't quite seven years old yet and our fourth, Graham, was only one.  I named her Sophie, from the Greek for wisdom, and five-year-old Tanner gave her the middle name Rose.  From the very beginning she was the breed standard, absolutely perfect in form and appearance.  She was a beautiful animal.

She was also a nutcase.  Sophie proved to always be hyper-anxious.  House guests drove her berserk with excitement, mere eye contact meant she might wet herself.  Her two favorite people in the world, for whom she could never control her blubbering enthusiasm, were my dad and Mike Boczek.  Though she was never allowed on the furniture, it was all we could do to keep her from climbing up in their laps and beyond.  She couldn't get enough of Dad and Mike.

Sophie with Eli, c. 2008
She was also ridiculously submissive, to a fault… to the point of when you called for her, she might lie down and whimper as soon as come running.  Smaller, younger dogs like Maury and Angus would regularly kowtow her, though in the weeks before her death we saw a few signs of her pushing Angus around.

Sophie, for all her qualities was as dumb as a box of rocks.  She had just enough brain power to smell and bark and held nothing in reserve.  She amused us constantly with her inability to perceive basic things that most dogs would figure out in a moment.  I often called her "dum-dum" as a term of endearment and affectionately said she was dimwitted.  But no matter how dense, she was always just as sweet and loyal as a dog could be.

Sophie with Tanner.
Sophie went to church camp with our family a few times.  Inevitably she would get away from my kids and end up walking down the aisle mid-sermon.  She was popular with the campers, though not well-suited to life at camp.  We were a young family and didn't have any other option than to bring her with us.

In her final weeks, we noticed her moving gingerly and there were several signs she was in pain.  As the pain increased we took her to the vet and found our options were limited.  As much as we loved her, we were not going to spend the children's Christmas money on surgeries and procedures that might not improve her quality of life.

The vet agreed that she was in terrible pain.  Whatever caused the degeneration in her back, it was probably only going to worsen with time.  The pain medicine we were giving her barely made a difference.  I've read that beagles can get degenerative disks as young as two years old.  That hardly seems fair; a beagle ought to live 10-15 years.  She could have been injured at some point, but most of her days involved laying around with the kids and basking in the yard, so it's hard to imagine how.

Sophie with Brennan, as much as anyone, she was his dog.
In the end, we thank God for the six and half years we had with this silly dog.  It breaks my heart that she passed as young as she did and I'm devastated that my kids have to endure this.

But before you ask… No.  We don't want another dog.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

One and Done Too Soon

As someone who rarely watches NBA games, I hate to see these "one-and-done" players come and go in only about five months' time.  This benefits the NBA, with tons of free promotion of their new players.  But this system is hurting college basketball, especially if you're not one of the few teams who get these elite but temporary players.

In football, you have to be three years out of high school to be eligible for the NFL draft.  In baseball, if you go to college, you have to be 21 or have completed your junior year.  Baseball also allows high school students to be drafted after graduation if they haven't attended college.

If basketball players had to commit to two or three college seasons, it would spread the wealth of talent and college basketball would see an immediate improvement.  Right now, top schools like Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas can string together a series of similar recruits, one per year, over and over again.  Kansas recruit Kelly Oubre reportedly said he picked Kansas for 2014 so he could replace current freshman Andrew Wiggins.  That's great for Kansas but Oubre would likely have gone elsewhere if Wiggins was required to stay for two years.  Then two schools would have had a great player for two years, instead of one school getting two players for one year each.

This year, 9 of the top 12 recruits (according to were divided between just three schools and it's shaping up the same way for next year (with three to Duke, two to Kansas, two to Kentucky, etc.).  Only a very small fraction of college basketball is benefiting from this talent as things are organized now.

And the NBA doesn't really benefit immediately either.  Last year, 10 one-and-done freshmen declared for the draft.  Only 8 got drafted, only 6 have played so far this season, and only two have started a game.  It's widely discussed that most NBA teams seem to draft for potential rather than developed skill.  For every NBA star that came right out of high school or one year of college, there are countless dozens who would have benefitted from staying at the college level another year or two.

Bottom line, this guy [see below] should still be playing at Kansas.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Something Better Than the Sinner's Prayer

I've long argued against the sinner's prayer as inconsistent with our theology and a poor tool to use in ministry.  Though I can't imagine someone converting to Christianity without some form of prayer  or cry to God involved, the sinner's prayer, as we use it, has very little Biblical basis.  By that I mean it's NOT in the Bible.

In this video Paul Washer makes an excellent case against its use.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Random Thoughts 11/19/13

Whew!  I've been busy the last few weeks.  Here's a bit of what's been on my mind:

  • My family and I really enjoyed the International Conference on Missions (ICOM) which was in Kansas City last weekend.  We met a several missionaries, heard great preaching and teaching, and reunited with several old friends.  I generally don't travel to conventions and conferences so it's a shame they all aren't in KC!
  • Here are a few Snopes urban legends for you:  it turns out the McDonald's cocaine spoon was real and so was the Aldi horse meat scandal, but it didn't happen in the United States.  In contrast, there is no such thing as Muslim prayer "curtain" and President Obama did not decorate the White House with one.
  • Kansas basketball signed two top-10 recruits this last week.  Everyone assumes we'll lose at least two guys this year (starters Tarik Black to graduation and Andrew Wiggins to the NBA).  The two new talented recruits, forward Cliff Alexander and wing Kelly Oubre, are expected to be able to step right in to those roles as freshmen.  What if more players leave early?  First of all Kansas's roster is deeper than it's been in years.  Second, there are still great top-talent, unsigned recruits, that might consider Kansas if more scholarships open up.
  • So that amazing shrinking unemployment number that magically dropped below 8% just in time for the President's reelection, turned out to be false.  I'm completely shocked that bureaucrats would fudge numbers to help out the pro-big-government candidate.  Who would have thought?  It turns out that more people are out of work than ever before and the only reason that the bad numbers could be viewed as anything less than sky high is because the job force is shrinking as people give up looking for work.  *sigh*
  • Our beagle, Sophie, seems to be pretty sick.  We're not entirely sure what is wrong with her, we've deduced that worms may be a possibility, but she's been in fragile shape for several days now and doesn't seem to be getting better.  As of this writing, Shannon is taking her to the vet to get diagnosed.
  • Christmas gets complicated as your kids get older.  When they're little, relatively cheap and simple toys had huge impact on Christmas morning.  As they reach their teenage years, their tastes and preferences get significantly more expensive; there is not a lot of five dollar Walmart toys to give to a 13-year-old.  The problem is that with five kids, the Christmas budget just doesn't allow for a lot of wish fulfillment.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013