Friday, July 29, 2005

New music cavalcade

...well, at least to me.

As a service to my musically challenged friends, I'm going to give a quick review to some of the 12 new CD's I acquired (Yes, I'm streaky. I do things in bunches). Some are up to 4 years old, but they're new to me...and that's all that matters. In celebration of the upcoming football season albums will be rated on a scale from one to five helmets. Remember, most I've only listened through one time. Multiple listenings could affect rating.

Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005) This guy can write some songs. Voice? Ehh.... But well worth it. Rating:

Shaun Groves - White Flag (2005) It's okay. I'm not sure it has the same number of songs that I really like (2 or 3) as his previous albums, but a solid offering of a concept album (Beatitudes). Rating:

The Thrills - Let's Bottle Bohemia (2004) Ehh...buddy. The word that comes to mind is jangly. Like they're trying to be a witty version of the Jayhawks. I've heard their earlier offering is better, so stay tuned. Rating:

Striving for Success

Over the years, I’m sure I’ve disappointed others for a variety of reasons. I would guess I’ve been disappointed in myself for an equally robust collection of reasons. Recently at least, I think I’ve shortened the list. I fear that my main failure as a human is that I really don’t care about being a success. At least as the culture currently defines it. I’ve had discussions/arguments with friends/girlfriends/acquaintances/family members/strangers about the relative merits of such life goals. I am a man without goals. Yes, I know, it’s detestable. Honestly, I wouldn’t care as much as I do (very little) were it not for the fact that I fear God has some great work plotted out for me and I’m to busy not climbing the proper ladder to get there. Yesterday, I read this. It made me feel a little better about my views on life (and even politics). But I’m sure Oswald could be just as wrong as me (less likely, but possible).

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see "Him walking on the sea" with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see "Him walking on the sea" ( Mark 6:49 ). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.
God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.
God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.

I guess that could scare some people. “You mean God doesn’t care that I’m a C.E.O.?” “God doesn’t care that I a graduated from medical school?” I don’t think he does, but that could just be because I don’t care if you did. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but very little in this world can be evaluated by the end result. It’s all about the process. We never know if a game was played fairly by the final score. We never know if a person’s life was a success by the size of their tombstone. We never know if a judge was unbiased by his verdict. It’s all about the process. Not if you can get from A to B, but how. I just pray that I’m doing the “how” right. I think I should set a goal to have a better “how” by the end of the year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I am a soccer hooligan

The tickets were purchased. The trip is pretty much finalized. On September 3rd I will be in Columbus, Ohio to watch the U.S. National team play Mexico in a World Cup Qualifier. We will be driving. Probably not the best idea, but what else do I have to do? This will be my third time to see U.S. vs. Mexico, but my first where it actually counts.

The last time was at the Cotton Bowl. Shockingly, 4/5 of the fans were not rooting for the home team. It was almost scary. I learned that day, that unlike the normal American fan, international soccer fans show up early and begin cheering and chanting even before they get to their seat. It was already deafening 20 minutes before kickoff. Though the U.S. dominated throughout, the first (and only) goal was not scored until very late in the game. Luckily, it was by the red, white and blue. There’s something very satisfying about watching your team disappoint over 30,000 people.

Another difference I learned that day is that Mexicans don’t quit cheering when the final whistle blows even if their team lost. Dancing, chanting, drums and horns. None of it abated. This was reason one that my hooliganism began to brew. As we attempted to exit—me and my ten gringo friends and 35,000 Mexicans—it became apparent that there was a problem. For reasons I can’t fully explain, the main thoroughfare from the south end of the Cotton Bowl to the main parking area was blocked. Thus smashing us all together and forcing us to actually re-enter the stadium to cut across to the other side. This was reason two.

The main reason (#3 for those scoring at home) was the Mexican fan about five feet from me who whistled repeatedly for the entire time (about 20-30 minutes). This grated seriously on my nerves. This was no normal whistle. It was loud. It was piercing. I was literally getting a headache. I gave the guy dirty looks, which he definitely saw, but no effect. Then my friends and I tried vocally encouraging him to stop. Nothing vulgar, no profanity, just "DUDE, STOP IT." When finally I had had enough, I resorted to "scoreboard" tactics. In between each of his whistle blasts I would chant, "Un a cero." That’s "one to zero" in Spanish (yes, I know my linguistic skills are impressive, try to focus) and also the score of the game we had all just witnessed. This, unfortunately, had little effect. Well, actually the whistles might have picked up a bit. So, I was forced to go to the nuclear option.

I feared somewhat that the other Mexican fans might turn on me if I tried it, but I was now in a fight and I’m a man dammit. I had to win. So a slight modification to my previous chant was made and the result was "Dos a cero." Yes, that’s right "two to nothing." I hoped my friends had my back, but since they didn’t join in on my previous chant, I wasn’t so sure. For those with the question marks forming above their heads, 2-0 was the score of U.S. defeat of Mexico in the 2002 world cup. "But," you might be saying, "That was in 2002 and the game you were at took place last year, 2004, what does that matter?" Well, I not completely sure, but as best I can tell, this was a particularly painful loss for them. Your most hated rival on the world stage in the world’s most important tournament that only occurs once every four years. Ok, maybe I do sorta understand. I guess it would be like some sorry San Francisco fan bringing up "The Catch". Bastards.

So anyway. I said it. "Dos a Cero". Actually, I kinda sung it. Well, at the first sound of this the whistling Mexican switched up his MO a bit, too. His response was to flip me the bird, and better yet, to punctuate the breaks in my chant with "F*** YOU!". After a couple a more rounds, I stopped and so did he. But more importantly, no whistling. The way I see it, the U.S. had two victories that day.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tour de France...Tour de Lance...Tour de Force

Well, well, well. That was easy enough. I’m sure that’s what a lot of people think. Lance Armstrong won his 7th Tour De France yesterday. It was never really all that close. But that should not take away for the utter unbelievability of the accomplishment.

All he did was come back from cancer. A cancer that no doctor thought he had a chance to defeat. And after seeing the other side of cancer, he goes out and wins one of the most grueling physical competitions the world has ever seen. Then he wins it again... and again...and again...and again... and again...and again. As a comparison, Tiger Woods just won his 10 major tournament as he chases Jack Nicholas’s record of 18. I’ll probably ruffle some diehard cycling fans by saying that in their sport there’s only one major but the Tour de France is the only one the world stops down for. So, the way I see it, Lance’s 7 is the same as Tiger winning his 25th major. Exactly.

FYI, going up a 16,000-ft mountain on a bike is not easy. Doing it when 100 other guys are plotting your defeat is probably tougher. I don’t know, I’m just guessing. It’s been said that Lance is physically predisposed to process oxygen better than the average human. The same thing has been said about Jan Ullrich. The deference was probably evident Saturday during the time trial when Armstrong wanted to win. He hadn’t won a race all year. This was essentially his last chance to do so. He didn’t need to. But he wanted to…a lot more than any one else. That’s what made him the champion he became. His willingness to punish his body to be the best he could be. Not always true for others (see Ullrich).

It’s always fun to have the guy for which you’re rooting dominate. It’s also fun to have that guy let his competitors know that, in the end, they don’t have enough to beat him, and then back it up. He never let us see him fail. He knew the expectations and met them. I’m guessing part of that is because his own expectations dwarfed them. I could go on, but I'll end the slobbering here...Viva la Lance!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I wish it weren't so TRUE.COM


Ok, I thought I had seen it all, or at least all of them. The adverts for and their dating service. You remeber that story, don't you? With the pictures? Ok, good. Well anyway, I ran across a new one today. I was dumfounded. It features an attractive young lass (SHOCKING) wearing nothing but a pair of jeans lying (or is it laying? No, it's definitely lying) in the grass. She also features a very welcoming smile (SHOCKING). It should be at the bottom of the page with the rest of them but you can see the banner ad only here. The best part is the text or as they say in the biz, "the copy". "Discover what true love feels like." Uh-huh. For some reason I get the notion that the "feels like" has nothing to do with emotion as it relates to this ad.

We've all heard it a million times; "Sex sells." I wish that weren't the case. Or I guess, more to the point, I wish it wasn't so effective on yours truly. In a sense it wasn't effective (I am making fun of the ads) for I would never consider using such a service. Knowing that... and understanding the obvious intent of the ads... and knowing that this is just a model... and knowing that no such girl exists just waiting for a spare like me to come calling, my initial gut reaction to the ad was, "Click on it! CLICK ON IT NOW!" And I consider myself of sufficient intelligence and willpower. I might be fooling myself, but my guess is that lots of guys are getting fooled.

When the page loaded -- with this small banner ad at the bottom-- my eyes were immediately drawn there. And before I could even figure out at what exactly I was looking and what its purpose was, lust made an appearance. I'm not proud of it, but what's a guy supposed to do. I was just trying to check my email, next thing I know I've got a hot, topless girl smiling at me. (And of course, her head is sorta sideways so you have to rotate your head to try to get a good feel for what she actually looks like...FYI still hot.) Is this just a malady suffered by the male of the species? I almost think, to some degree, it is. I rarely ever see an ad for a product used primarily by females featuring hunky guys. If that's the case, I guess I should be on the verge of hating myself...except that I thank God every day I'm not a girl.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I know how smart I am...

...because God tells me so.
I was recently informed via my pastor's daily e-mail devotional that "Forty-four times God's word calls us sheep. In fact... "sheep" is the most common metaphor for human beings in all of Scripture." Ah, yes. This is how God sees us. That little fact made this news story all the more amusing and insightful.
Hundreds of sheep followed their leader off a cliff in eastern Turkey, plunging to their deaths this week while shepherds looked on in dismay.

Four hundred sheep fell 15 yards to their deaths in a ravine in Van province near Iran but broke the fall of another 1,100 animals who survived, newspaper reports said Friday.

That's right. These animals are so with it that over 1500 of them went over a cliff for the sole reason that the one in front of them was doing the same. Only 450 died because there were already enough at the bottom to cushion the fall. That's what God thinks of us... the independent thinkers we are. Like Dr. Denison said, "God is not trying to increase our self-esteem when he calls us sheep." True dat, Doc, true dat...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

See how healthy I am

I recently decided to switch up my workout. This time, instead of haphazardly creating my own routine, I bought a book. Along with all the other helpful hints and weight lifting regimens the author suggested, lo, implored that I (reader) drink copious amounts of water. So Monday (yesterday), I arrived at work with the goal to do just that.
Water is already my drink of choice. Odds are if I'm drinking, it's water. So I have my trusty 32 oz. drinking cup memorializing Pudge Rodriguez's 1999 MVP and 2000 All-Star game appearance (timely sports tie-in) at the ready. I typically make it through about 3 cups in a given day, but today (Monday) I had a loftier pursuit in mind. Each cup full equals 1 quart. My goal? Two gallons. Eight Pudge Tumblers of wet, liquid, life giving goodness. So for you, dear reader(s), I kept a log. A log of when I completely downed a quart and, of course, I also logged to answer the question you all really have. "How many times did you go to the bathroom?"

I arrive at work a little before 7:30 a.m. My first Pudge Memorial Water Cup Full (PMWCF) was completed at 8:40 a.m. Twenty minutes later, my first Toilet Excretory Transaction (TE-T) took place. At 9:45, TE-T number two occurred. And yes, I saw
him. Yes, it was awkward. I was able to finish off PMWCF #2 before 10:00 a.m. The rest of the day went like this.

8:40 a.m.9:00 a.m.
9:51 a.m.9:45 a.m.
11:04 a.m.10:15 a.m.
11:40 a.m.10:35 a.m.
11:08 a.m.
12:58 p.m.12:08 p.m.
2:29 p.m.12:40 p.m.
3:16 p.m.2:28 p.m.
4:03 p.m.3:06 p.m.
3:48 p.m.
4:10 p.m.

So yes, I did indeed drink 2 gallons of water in an 8-hour period. And yes, I did wear out a path to the little boy's room.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Sometimes you think the public at large might be stupid. Sometimes you even start to believe it. Then, there are those times when they go ahead and shock you with overwhelming proof. Saturday night, Kenny Rogers made his first start at home since the incident. Saturday night, Kenny Rogers got a standing ovation from the fans. Huh? Fans cheer Kenny Rogers (lower right) as he warms up in the bullpen. Excuse me? The same guy who attacked two cameramen without provocation and then took a week to decide an apology was appropriate. That Kenny Rogers? Indeed. Vomit, vomit, vomit. See that lady giving the thumbs up? Idiot. The one next to her clapping? Idiot. The one next to her cheering and waving a scarf? Idiot. Anyone who stood and cheered. Idiots.
It would be one thing had Kenny's attack been provoked. It would have been another if Kenny had been speaking to the press in good faith (he hasn't all year) and then been treated unfairly. I would have even changed the situation had he chosen to throw himself at the mercy of the league and the fans the day after. None of these things occurred. Instead, he lost his mind and attacked two guys that had nothing to do with his perceived suffering. They did not suggest he was using his hand as an excuse not to pitch, members of the Rangers organization did. They had no say as to Kenny's new contract...or how he's botched past negotiations. They did not ram his hand into a cooler. But they learned their lesson anyway.

Kenny Rogers hands a ball to a young fan before Saturday night's game against Toronto.What sickens me is that Kenny did not. The fans? Well here's what Kenny said after his reception on Saturday, "It was very moving for me. I didn't give the fans enough credit for what they know and understand. They've seen me play the game for 20 years. They know what I'm all about. I should have never addressed the other stuff that was put out there." I join him in not giving the fans much credit. Apparently, they bought this...

And now...NOW...Kenny's going to play in the All-Star game. Hopefully, someone there will have enough sense to boo him. Vomit...

Friday, July 01, 2005

My Party Leader is smarter than your Party Leader

Our President, George W. Bush, has often been characterized as less than mentally razor sharp. His issues with the English language are well documented. Despite that, I still think he's smarter than most give him credit. If for no other reason than he knew to keep Karl Rove within earshot.

There is a politician, however, who should finally take heed of one of my favorite axioms..."‘Tis better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it." Well, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D - 8th Dist., CA), the house Democratic Leader, opened hers and absolutely nothing came out. Of substance, that is. She is a complete moron, plain and simple.

Recently, the Supreme Court issued its Kelo decision, which, as I understand it, allows legislative bodies to exercise eminent domain to seize private land for purchase by another private entity, as long as it considers the transfer beneficial to the public good. (HT - Captains Quarters) From what I gather, the ruling does nothing to impede those same legislative bodies from enacting laws to limit when eminent domain can be exercised above that very low standard. Sen. John Cornyn (R - Tex) has introduced legislation to do just that. Mrs. Pelosi was asked her opinion on the subject, and what follows his a tidal wave of ignorance and confusion. Below is a brief interaction between a reporter and the House Minority Leader during her weekly press conference. Notice how the reporter repeats the question because her first answer wasn't even close to on target. Notice Mrs. Pelosi continue to reissue it and then grab a shovel and start digging deeper.
Q: Later this morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along with John Cornyn from the Senate, are holding a news conference on eminent domain, the decision of the Supreme Court the other day, and they are going to offer legislation that would restrict it, prohibiting federal funds from being used in such a manner. Two questions: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision on this topic, and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?

Ms. Pelosi: As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court, and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions, it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we're going to withhold funds for the Court because we don't like a decision.

Q: Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases that wouldn't involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question poorly. It wouldn't be withholding federal funds from the Court, but withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not just involved in public good.

Ms. Pelosi: Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church -- powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression.

So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I'm not saying that I'm opposed to this decision, I'm just saying in general.

Q: Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi: It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q: Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi: The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

Above and beyond the fact that Pelosi doesn't understand the SCOTUS decision, Cornyn's proposed legislation, or the English language, is the startling admission that she equates a ruling by the Supreme Court as unalterable as the word of God. This is about 5 seconds after she had just mentioned "separation of powers." It's like a praise chorus that just throws in churchy words, she just makes some vague allusion to the Constitution to remind everyone her job involves it...somehow...she thinks. More importantly, what does she think? Does she even realize that she, along with her fellow congressmen, has the power to overrule the Supreme Court? And that the Supreme Court can enforce nothing without the help of the other branches? Hello? Poli-Sci? Heard of it?

I must now go fume.