Nov 17, 2008

Truth - Independent from Ideas

I have much to write about concerning issues observed during our recent election. Mostly, I an troubled with how unconcerned we are about what is actually true, and how reality governs what actually happens. I recently made this statement in an email conversation with a similarly concerned person in my church:
"With the decline of investigative journalism, the politics of scientific funding, and the corruption in the education system, “truth” is left to be revealed only by consequence rather than wisdom and aforethought. Sadly, the Church has not risen above the culture in these matters, and the truth remains hidden until it wreaks havoc with people and the nation."
I'll write more on this, particularly on the role of the Church in society at a later date (read: as soon as I have time to get my thoughts together on this.) Below is a video someone sent me that illustrates this point to some degree. Looks like Peter Schiff took a lot of heat for being right.

Truth - "conformity with fact, or reality."

Reality - "something that exists independently of ideas concerning it."


Nov 4, 2008

Election Predictions 2008

[Please note: This is not an endorsement of any candidate and does not necessarily indicate how I have personally voted or what I think about issues. This is simply a prediction from a retired political hack, based on polling data, personal contacts, and a really big guess.]

Well, a lot of pressure this year, as some of you know, this political hack got all 50 states correct in 2004. This year, its much harder to tell. Too many wildly varying polls, too many undecided voters, and too many unknowns. But, most simply, incumbent parties lose in difficult economic times. Any Democrat would likely beat any Republican for that reason alone this year. Obama’s get out the vote efforts are well funded and likely better this year than McCain’s, and that will make the difference in close states, and perhaps turn some unexpected states blue such as Georgia. Because of overwhelming victories in highly populated states, such as California, Obama will win the popular vote, regardless of whether or not he wins the Electoral College and the Presidency.

Early signs that I am way off: If McCain wins Virginia and North Carolina, then be ready for a closer election than my guess here. If McCain wins New Hampshire, then we could be seeing a Dewey Defeats Truman moment.

We could also see a tie. There are several scenarios in this election where a tie is possible, especially if John McCain wins New Hampshire.

Whever there is no majority winner in the Electoral College (270 votes needed to win), the election decided in congress, with the house voting for the President and the Senate for VP. Lots of great scenarios there, including realistic possibility of the House voting for Obama for President, and the Senate voting for Palin as Vice President, creating an Obama/Palin Administration.

Before the financial crisis that has given Obama the huge advantage, I was actually set to predict this situation with a tie, 269-269.  There has never been a tie, and there hasn't been an election decided by the congress since 1824.

Ignore exit polls, early Pennsylvania and Florida returns, and anything at all reported on MSNBC.


Electoral Votes (EV)
Obama – 379 McCain – 159

Popular Vote:
Obama 54.2% McCain 45.6%

MAP: Click here to see my predictions on a map.

State Numbers:

State - Winner - Electoral Votes - Popular Vote Margin

AL – McCain EV: 9 - +19%
AK – McCain EV: 3 - +21%
AZ – McCain EV: 10 - +8%
AR – McCain EV: 6 + 5%
CA – Obama - EV: 55 +18%
CO – Obama - EV: 9 +7%
CT – Obama - EV: 7 +15%
DE – Obama - EV: 3 +28%
DC – Obama – EV: 3 +28%
FL - Obama - EV: 27 +2%
GA – Obama - EV: 15 +2%
HI – Obama - EV: 4 +39%
ID – McCain - EV: 4 +38%
IL – Obama - EV: 21 +20%
IN – McCain - EV: 11 +4%
IA – Obama - EV: 7 +9%
KS – McCain - EV: 6 +18%
KY – McCain - EV: 8 + 14%
LA – McCain - EV: 9 + 10%
ME – Obama - EV: 4 +12%
MD – Obama - EV: 10 + 22%
MA – Obama - EV: 12 +19%
MI – Obama - EV: 17 + 9%
MN – Obama - EV: 10 +8%
MS – McCain - EV: 6 +14%
MO – Obama - EV: 11 +3%
MT - McCain - EV: 3 + 6%
NE – McCain - EV: 5 +21%
NV – Obama - EV: 5 +4%
NH - Obama - EV: 4 + 5%
NJ – Obama - EV: 15 +14%
NM – Obama - EV: 5 +7%
NY – Obama - EV: 31 +22%
NC – Obama - EV: 15 + 1%
ND – McCain - EV: 3 + 5%
OH – Obama - EV: 20 +3%
OK – McCain - EV: 7 +22%
OR – Obama - EV: 7 +17%
PA - Obama - EV: 21 +4%
RI – Obama - EV: 4 +21%
SC - McCain - EV: 8 + 5%
SD – McCain - EV: 3 + 6%
TN – McCain - EV: 11 +21%
TX – McCain - EV: 34 + 7%
UT – McCain - EV: 5 +23%
VA – Obama - EV: 13 +7%
VT – Obama - EV: 3 + 19%
WA – Obama - EV: 11 +14%
WV – McCain - EV: 5 +11%
WI – Obama - EV: 10 +11%
WY - McCain - EV: 3 +22%


Oct 14, 2008

Dodgers Cubs Dillemma Follow Up

So, people keep asking me, did I feel bad for the Cubs that they were swept by the Dodgers? (See post below)



Go Dodgers!


Oct 2, 2008

Dodgers and Cubs - My Blue Dilemma

I have a dilemma.

It will be totally resolved in a few days, but it burdens me now.

You see, when I am cut, I bleed Dodger Blue. The voice of Vin Scully is soothing, like the ocean waves or the wind blowing through a gently swaying palm. A grilled Dodger Dog tastes like fillet mignon, it's aroma alone puts other stadium vendors out of business. The sound of 56,000 cheering fans at Dodger Stadium raises and emotional excitement that never fully leaves your psyche. It is a wonderful noise.

But for we faithful, we haven't had much to cheer about for 20 years. It was exactly two decades ago that Kirk Gibson played Robert Redford. I still can't believe what I saw. In a year that was so improbable, the impossible happened.

Since then, there have been some good moments to cheer, but no champions. Wednesday night was only the 2nd playoff game the Dodgers have won since 1988.

I should take a moment here to address my San Diego Padre fan friends, who may have a difficult time understanding some of these things. After all, the Dodgers only retire uniform numbers of Hall of Famers who go into the Hall as Dodgers. The Padres retire numbers of former Dodgers who give the Padres a good highlight.

I am a Padre fan also. I love the Padres and root for them all year long. This is also difficult for my Padre fan friends to accept because Padre fans are supposed to hate the Dodgers. But the Padres/Dodgers "rivalry" is one way only. The Padres have invented a "rivalry" with the Dodgers because it helps sell tickets. That is understandable. Baseball is a business after all.

The Dodgers and Dodger fans have no beef with the Padres; there is no rivalry from a Dodger fan's perspective. This is why its easy for me to be a fan of the Dodgers AND the Padres at the same time. The closest thing to a Padres-Dodgers rivalry may have been back in the days of Padre Kurt Bevacqua, who once accused Tommy Lasorda of ordering Dodger pitchers to deliberately hit Padre batters. Lasorda responded that he has never in his career as a pitcher or as a manager deliberately thrown at a hitter, but that if he ever did, he certainly wouldn't waste time throwing at a batter like Bevacqua, who couldn't hit water if he fell out a boat. I can't put that in quotes because the actual quote included several colorful metaphors added between those words. But you get the idea.

Bottomline is, I am a Dodger fan, but also a Padre fan. The real Dodger rivalry is with the Giants, and it goes both ways and there is no love. Its a real rivalry, dangerous and passionate. The Padres are simply another team to play in order to get to the playoffs.

And Steve Garvey will always be a Dodger.

Back to the my dilemma.

The dilemma I have is that while I am a true blue Dodger fan, I am also a baseball fan. I love baseball. Baseball is poetry. Those that don't like baseball don't understand that most of the action is happening between pitches. They also don't understand how vitally important baseball has been to our country, from Babe Ruth's Yankees, to Jackie Robinson's Dodgers, to all of baseball after 9-11. From the sandlot to the neighborhood parks, baseball is timeless and distinctly American.
“In our sundown perambulations of late through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing ‘base,’ a certain game of ball ... Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms...the game of ball is glorious.” - Walt Whitman

It is a glorious game, poetry and all, which leads me to my point. The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series for exactly 100 years this year. A century without a championship. The Red Sox have won 6 times since then. Would it not be poetic for the Cubs to win after 100 years, to end The Curse of the Billy Goat? One hundred years is a good round number, fitting of a Hollywood scripted feel good moment. It seems like it would be good for baseball for the Cubs to win the 2008 World Series. Maybe even good for America, as baseball is always timely in this way, reminding us that there is always hope, always time for a new beginning, always a chance for victory and renewal.

I think God loves baseball. I don't actually believe in these baseball superstitions, but as a baseball fan, the Red Sox ending the "Curse of the Bambino" by beating the Yankees in The House that Ruth Built after being down 0-3 in the ALCS seemed magical. That was the way it had to happen, as if it were ordained to be done so. Yankee Stadium is being torn down this year, and maybe that's okay now that the Curse is reversed.

Wrigley Field, Home of the Chicago Cubs, is now the oldest ballpark in the National League. It has only seen one World Series in 1945, and no championships. It should never be torn down, at least not until it has seen a World Series Champion.

So, can I root for the Cubs against the Dodgers this week in the National League Playoffs? I don't know. It is a dilemma, two teams with equal shades of blue, steeped in history and importance. I suppose I'll have to see how my heart reacts when its over.

Either way, I'm rooting for the winner of this series to win it all starting next week.

I love baseball.


Sep 15, 2008

The Chinese Oikos and the Garage Door

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at the Chinese Bible Church here in San Diego. I took French in high school and college, which, once again, was not valuable. But who takes Chinese anyway? Fortunately, I had an interpreter.

Whenever I am asked to speak somewhere, whether it be a church or other kind of community organization, it tends to be on one of just a couple of topics. Most often, I introduce audiences to the idea of their "oikos." I plan on writing more extensively about oikos in the next week or two. Most people reading this probably have some idea of the concept and how it works. But, in short, it goes like this:

Oikos is the Greek word meaning "household." In terms of ancient Greek society and in modern sociology, this "household" is not simply your spouse and 2.5 kids that live with you in your domicile. It refers to the people who surround you in your relational world, your circle of influence. One sociologist says your oikos is the group of people you spend an hour or more with or around every day. So for most people, their oikos consists of the people who do live in thier domicile, and also their family or roommates or strangers who move in to your house when you are away for Christmas (subject of another experience I should blog about.) It also consists of coworkers you were most closely with, classmates you see every day, the people who live next door to you. The average person has between 8-15 people in their oikos. For me, about 8 of them are Starbuck's baristas.

Oikos is vital to any society's survival. When people pay attention to their oikos, and work to meet each others needs, society works very well. When people ignore the needs of the people around them, society begins to crumble. Its all about the oikos.

So, to any audience, the concept is received well. Its basically a practical and tangible way to love your neighbor. I have now taught the concept in 3 languages and to people of all ages and backgrounds. It is a great equalizer. You don't get to choose your oikos (maybe your spouse, but that's it.) Therefore, everyone has an oikos and everyone is in someone else's oikos. Its unavoidable.

One person from the Chinese congregation shared with me afterward that he thought the oikos idea would work well in the Chinese community here. He said they basically practice this as a culture anyway and that to actually list our your 8-15 people will just make it even more practical. He was very appreciative.

But then he said something interesting. He asked me how the oikos philosophy is working in my church, since "westerners don't tend to do this very well." It is indeed harder for westerners in many respects because we love our walls.

How many of us really know the people who live next door or across the street or in the neighboring apartment? You may remember that in the terrorist manuals that were found after 9/11, the terrorists were advised to not be too concerned about their American neighbors since typically the neighbors aren't paying any attention and will hardly take the time to get to know you. They should expect to make their plans and build their bombs without much interference from the neighbors. It was a sad commentary.

I read one study that blamed automatic garage door openers for this phenomenon in American culture. It suggested that many years ago, people got to know their neighbors because they were often outside watering the grass with a hose and sitting on the porch to cool off becuase there was no air conditioning in the house. And when people got home from work, they had to get out of their car, and actually go open the garage door by hand. All of that out door time presented opportunity to say hello to neighbors, strike up conversations, invite them over for a bar-b-que etc.

Today, for most Americans, we get to our house, while staying in the car, we click the clicker, drive in the garage, then click the clicker again and get out of the car in our private garage with the door down and go into the house. Our built in sprinklers water the grass automatically, and the air is cleaner and more comfortable in our house. Safe. Away from pesky neighbors that we are suspicious of because they never talk to us.

Kristy and I have been making an effort to actually get to know our neighbors. They are in our oikos and we are committed to getting to know those people. Interestingly, the two families we are actually getting to know are the only two families who spend time outside their home.

Across the street, they water their yard with a hose and they sit in lawn chairs to get out of their hot house since they don't have A/C. The other family has a game room and bar in their garage and are often out there. For the most part, we have been unable to get to know our other neighbors simply because we never ever see them. We are planning to invite them over for dinner. They may call the cops on us, but we'll see.

More on oikos later. But its an interesting experience that has me thinking much more today about how important it is that we are concerned about our own oikos. As a Christ Follower, I think its not an option.

I encourage you this way - do you know who your oikos is?


Sep 11, 2008

Random Thoughts On September 11

Some random thoughts about 9/11, seven years later:

I pay as much attention as I can to the memorials and events commemorating 9/11. Starting at 6:00 am this morning, I watched a rebroadcast of the news events as they happened. It's riveting. I remember exactly what I was doing around my house during each of the events on the timeline. Being on the west coast, it began from the moment I woke up. I clicked on the TV just after the 2nd plane hit the towers. "Something very bad is happening" I said to Kristy. "We're going to have a big war."

Some people today don't think we should show the more graphic events of that day. I know people have very different sensitivities to these things and I respect that. I for one think we should show it more often. Judging by the number of Britney Spears references in our current presidential campaign, I think we need as much reality as possible.

A young man in my ministry in September 2001 made an appointment with me to discuss his distress over the realization that evil actually does exist. Why is this even a question? Reason #2 to show the footage more often.

I spent time contemplating the notion of today being a "solemn day." Solemn. A strange word. Why is the "n" there? Maybe its because I watched all that this morning, but solemn it is indeed. I was emotional a few times today as I prayed for our country.

I spent the rest of this morning comforting a deal lady who is dying of cancer. We are making funeral plans and getting her affairs in order. All of us have such affairs. 9-11 did not increase death. One out of every one person dies.

It is shocking to me that we don't have terrorist attacks in our country on a regular basis. I think there are hundreds of heros we will never know or acknowledge.

I want to visit the new memorial at the Pentagon.

I think if I were a family member of someone lost at the World Trade Center, I would be frustrated that there is still no memorial.

The best part about this day is that I think we all go back and care more for each other. People seem to drive better, smile more. Perhaps I'm just more sensitive to it, but it seems like a day where people are more at peace with each other. History has shown that society works better when people take care of people. Everyone has an "oikos," a "household" that consists of the people in your sphere of influence, relational world. 9/11 made each person pay more attention to their oikos, even if for just a few days.

Today is a good day for a renewed perspective on citizenship and the world we live in.


Sep 2, 2008

The Need for Urgent Care

So, my last post, the one where I promised to blog more, was in May.  This year, at least.

I've learned that its hard to keep a blog going when you are, let's say, a bit wordy.  I have several half written posts that never got posted because I was so verbose that I never got to the point I had in mind to begin with and I would have to stop because I had other work to do.

Other work.

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago as I had some kind of cold or flu or something like that going on. My wife went out of town to help her mom and dad with some things and I promised her I would see a doctor if I didn't get well in a couple of days.

I don't like going to doctors generally, but I especially don't like to go when I think I probably just have a cold.  Usually, you can't get an appointment with your regular doctor when you are sick all of a sudden, so you need to go to one of those clinics, often labeled "Urgent Care," where you get well acquainted with your wristwatch.  Be careful not to confuse "Urgent Care" with "Emergency Care," where the long wait is instead measured by a calendar.

The humiliation of going to Urgent Care with merely a cold begins upon arrival.  It starts with the smirk from the nurse receptionist, who considers you just one more in the line of hypochondriacs, and asks you for the reason for the visit.  This time, I responded with a lot of words to try to explain that while perhaps I am simply some kind of blockhead with a cold, there is the possibility that it may be a tumor or some kind of kidney disease, so I just want to do the smart thing and get it checked out.

After the long wait with the others in the post-nasal drip orchestra, extended by boredom due to the lack of up to date news magazines, they finally called my name.  I'm not sure why I have to weigh myself, but after that humiliation, they put me in the little room to wait again.  I always have a dilemma at that point as to whether or not to sit on that medical cushion top table thing with the butcher paper, or to just sit in the chair that is really there for your mom.  This time, I chose the chair.

As I waited for the doctor to come in, I read all the posters on the wall in the exam room.  Much to my shame, in this particular room, they all had a particular message for the patient.  I learned that there's nothing they can do about a cold, and once they determine that you have come to their office for nothing, they will educate you about why you won't be getting any antibiotics or pain killers and that everything you need is at the Rite-Aid right next to your house.  There is no urgency and there will be no care.  They will however make sure to thank you for bringing your germs into the waiting room and ask you for your full copay.

I also noticed this chart called Duration of Cold Symptoms:

I sat there on day 4.  Great.  I hope they don't have a pointer as they point that out to me on the chart.

Finally, the doctor, who is younger than I am, came in and instructed me to get out of the mom chair and up onto the butcher paper.   She took out her instruments and quickly looked in my ears, up my nose and down my throat. She quickly stood back and looked at me, but with a different smirk than the receptionist.

"So, what do you do for a living?" She said rather sternly.

"I'm a pastor" I said with a painful, scratchy throat.

She then took her pointer finger and pointed at my chest and said "You have a profession with no boundaries.  You need to go home and go to bed.  You have a sinus and an ear infection in both ears."

Initially, this was wonderful news!  I would not be the target of medical poster art; I am actually sick!

But what she said to me was truly profound and well, true. In 2007, I never took most of my vacation days.  I was already behind in 2008 and it had been a stressful year.  Its very hard for me to take real time off.  Thanks to my smart phone and wireless Internet, I'm never that far away from my responsibilities. And she was right.  I was sick because I wasn't doing what is right. Instead of treating my body like a temple, I could barely even say I was treating it like a relatively well managed presbyterian youth center.  A spiritual conviction came to me from a doctor who sees too many sick pastors.

I meant this blog to only be a couple of paragraphs, a re-entry into the blogosphere. All this wordiness is to say that this summer, I took some time off.  I had great times with my wife, my parents, and a nephew. I decided to not get around to blogging.

Thanks to the time off however, I'm more focused, with more clear priorities than before, and more ready to be productive. I started this blog as a new year's resolution to be a great ministry tool and personal outlet, along with a resolution to take regular  Sabbaths.  God used that doctor to give me the spiritual "urgent care" I needed to get back on track.

So, I've been back to sabbaths and now, back to blogging.  Looking forward to some much shorter and more regular posts.

And Lost begins in less than 5 months. Just thought I'd mention that...


May 12, 2008

El Salvador Pictures and More Promises to Blog More

This year, I pledged to become a regular blogger. I have much to blog about, but making the time to get this done has still not become routine. But, along with some more silly observations, there are very important blogs to post.

I will spend more time on this, but I earlier pledged to give some more photos and info from my El Salvador trip. I have delayed posting them, thinking it was a time consuming project. But fortunately, I was able to upload them to my Facebook account in one shot, and now you can view them here. They don't give the philosophical story, but it will give you a visual context for the upcoming more detailed blog.

Don't hold your breath, but really, its on the way.

As far as the blogging goes, I've got a few coming soon, including some insights on Lost and especially its fascinating John Locke character. For those of you who can't wait until Thursday, or for those looking for a new cool You Tube video, here is an oldie but a goodie from an amazing computer artist.

Here's the link to my El Salvador pics:


Apr 15, 2008

This Moron Got His Taxes Done Early This Year

I got my taxes done very early this year. About 22 hours early, in fact, about 2 a.m. this morning, the morning of April 15th. I can't remember the last time I had my taxes done so soon.

"Early" is a relative term in my house. To me, getting the taxes done early means that I didn't have to file an extension, and that my return was filed before midnight on April 15th. For example, a couple of years ago, I filed my taxes electronically and the time stamp on my filing was April 15th, 11:57 p.m. As I see it, my taxes were done 3 minutes early.

My wife doesn't see it that way. For her, "early" would mean filing the return on February 1, the same day that the last 1099 statement arrives in the mail. We have no agreement on either the meaning of this term "early," or on the appropriate level of urgency that ought to be sensed by the legal "head of household" when it comes to tax season. Tension mounts. Admittedly, my level of stress increases greatly as the Ides of April approaches; I know she's more right than I am.

The closer we get to April 15th, this stress I feel weighs heavily. By the 14th, my cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis happening in my personality. But this didn't happen this year, I got done early. One of my co-workers noted that he was surprised to see me in the office today, looking well. Not as surprised as I am. Or my wife for that matter.

However, I have to say that I am a bit sad that I will be missing one of the most enjoyable rituals and cultural phenomenons that happens between 11-12 p.m. each April 15th at a city's main post office. I've participated a few times before. This is an annual gathering of people with similar definitions of the word "early." This congregation of the pale and stressed-out arrives under pressure and strain, but leaves rejuvenated and hopeful. These are the people who know that the post office remains open until midnight, just for them, on this one special day.

You see, its not just a few people who are there to run in and drop off their returns in time for the April 15 postmark. Its thousands and thousands of people arriving all evening long. The post office in fact will take over an entire block just to handle the crowds. If you have your item stamped already, you don't even need to leave your car. Here in San Diego, for example, Postal employees have set up booths in every lane of Midway Blvd. going both ways to accommodate the streams of traffic. Its bigger than any sporting event. Some smart entrepreneurs are even selling bottled water, hot dogs, glow sticks, you name it. It's federally fun and festive!

This year, I am going to miss the camaraderie, the feeling of connectedness with my fellow early tax filers. If you've never seen this, you should go and just observe. Or sell pizza slices or something. It's truly and American experience.

Of course, the truth is, I know I should get my taxes done sooner. And I have far too much experience with just giving up and going down to the post office at midnight to mail off the Tax Extension form so that I can wait until midnight on October 15th to finish up.

These days, you can get an automatic six month extension for any reason, no questions asked (you still have to pay whatever you guess you might eventually owe on April 15th or suffer penalties and interest.) A few years ago, however, you would only get an automatic four month extension. If you wanted an additional two months, you had to send in another form by August 15th. On that form, you were required to give a good reason why you can't file your return. The IRS clearly stated that "I didn't get around to it" was not acceptable and would not qualify you for this extension, and your returns would be deemed officially "late."

One year, on August 15th, I didn't get around to it. What could I write in that blank?

Reason for requesting an additional two month extension:

I had nothing legitimate to write. So I wrote:

Reason for requesting an additional two month extension:
"I am a moron, and have been unable to complete my return."

The IRS granted my request for the extension. No penalties.

I suppose this taxpayer is now legally considered to be a "moron." I also think some agent at the IRS has my Extension form on the wall of his cubicle just for fun.

Hope you get your taxes done early this year!


Apr 7, 2008

Me and Chuck, George and Abraham

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet and introduce Charlton Heston to a crowd of political donors who paid to hear from him and have some fancy hors d'oeuvres. During that time of my life, I had the opportunity to meet many people of his cultural stature, but he was certainly one of the most interesting and the most genuine of those I met during that time. His death this weekend reminds me of something I thought about after that experience.

Chuck and me. I seem to look much older in this pre-contact lens picture.

After meeting him, I called my parents to let them know I had gotten to spend some time with one of their movie star heroes. They were quite tickled about this, being that Chuck Heston really was a huge star in their youth, and always remained a huge star. He was of course Moses, Ben Hur, and of course, who can forget his stirring portrayal of George Taylor.

How odd it must have been for them to consider that their kid would one day meet someone who was a big deal to them in their childhood. At least, this concept seemed interesting to me at the time. This idea, that generations can interact with the same historical figures at different times and with different meanings fascinates me. I picture my mom and dad as teenagers in theaters watching Ben Hur, not even considering that they would have a son who would later chat with the movie's actor about that chariot scene that must have been incredibly thrilling for them. Small world. I love connections like that. Be fascinated and keep reading.

It occurred to me that while sometimes history seems to be quite distant, it really isn't as far off as we think. For example, consider this interesting observation. It is possible that a person could have personally known Abraham Lincoln and later in that person's life, they could have personally known George W. Bush. Its true. Do the math. Perhaps even more profound, someone as a young boy could have personally known Thomas Jefferson, and as an old man, could have also personally known Ronald Reagan. I think that person might in fact be Bob Dole.

I wonder if I will have a kid who gets to meet Harrison Ford. I'm quite certain my kids will know who Han Solo and Indiana Jones are. I asked Heston about the Chariot race. He told me he was nervous about it until the race choreographer assured him that he would definitely win. I hope my kids ask Ford about being dragged from the back of a truck only holding on to that whip.

"I don't seem to have a 20th Century face." - Charlton Heston, 1924 - 2008.


Mar 9, 2008

Lose 10 Pounds in 7 Days - Ask Me How!

Well, plans for regular posting from El Salvador did not come to fruition. But there is much to post about and much to process.

The team came home on Saturday March 1st healthy. However, by Sunday evening March 2nd, that all changed. Each of us were carrying a microscopic stow-away.

In the past 7 days I've lost 10lbs. I lost 8 lbs during a 16 hour period Sunday - Monday last week.

Forget Aktins.

I call it the E-Coli diet. I'm thinking that this week I'll post some signs on telephone poles with my phone number. "Lose 10 lbs in 7 days - ASK ME HOW!" Perhaps I'll get some buttons made up. When people call, I'll invite them to El Salvador. It will change their life.

Joking aside, the trip was life changing. Its difficult to even begin to process or type all that God is doing in my life. I simply didn't have a chance to post while in El Salvador, and today is the first day I've had the energy to do anything.


Standing in the house our team built in the town of San Jose El Naranjo.

More about El Salvador soon. Fortunately I can say, I need to eat something right now.


Feb 22, 2008

Something to Post About

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to have the time to write. Like the typical new years resolution, it petered out well before the calendar turned to February. However, I am determined to keep working toward the goal of becoming a regular blogger.

There has been much to write about since my last post, including 2 interesting holidays, but those will come around again next year so I’ll save it. I’ve sprained my ankle pretty seriously too in the past couple of weeks. But ankle pain can’t be blamed for a lack of typing. And Lost is so fantastic! Matthew Abaddon deserves his own post. I’ll get to that eventually.

But now, there is something great to write about today. As I type this, I am somewhere over Central America, in heavy turbulence, hoping my relatively decent airplane coffee doesn’t bounce out onto my friends next to me. In a couple of hours, we’ll be landing in El Salvador.

I am travelling with 12 other people on a mission to the small village of San Jose El Naranjo. In the coming week, I plan to write and post more about this village and what we see there. More importantly, I’ll write about what God is teaching me this amazing and fun team of people who are in for a currently unrevealed spiritual life change. I don’t know what God will reveal to me during this trip, but I have to say I haven’t been as excited about what cannot be known of his providence for a long time.

On Saturday, February 22 (or “22 February” as they keep making me write it), we will begin by touring a water project that is bringing safe water to our village. This project is key to the overall mission with this village for the simple reason that without safe water, people die and can never escape poverty. Our church and others have contributed financially to this project through a ministry called Enlace. I’ll write more about this later, hopefully with some pictures.

Our team is carrying nearly a ton of baggage. Literally, almost a ton. The tonnage mostly consists of 400+ new school backpacks full of new, much needed school supplies. We’ll be giving those away later in the week. Because mosquitoes love me, malaria medicine also adds weight to the scales.

The day started out a bit rough and a long time ago in a different country. I went to sleep around midnight, enjoyed the sound of car alarms for a couple of hours and got up at 4 am to finish packing and some other work. Because it was raining in San Diego, it took us nearly an hour to get to the airport, normally about 20 minutes away. Drivers in San Diego put their vehicles into park on the freeways when we get just a little drizzle. Apparently, so do airline pilots in San Diego because we sat parked on the tarmac for two hours in the rain waiting to take off.

That delay created some anxiety for us because it became clear that we would likely miss our connecting flight in Houston. I was getting ready to call my Houston friend Robert and announce a surprise overnight visit. Oh and by the way, I’ll be bringing 12 of my friends and a ton of luggage. Really, almost a whole ton! Did I mention that?

But as the whole country seemed to be delayed today, our connecting flight was also delayed. Oh, as feared, our connecting flight was at the farthest possible gate from our arrival gate. We all had to run several miles through the massive stale popcorn smelling Bush airport and we barely made the connection – out of breath and sans a much desired Starbuck’s pickup.

I’ve completely messed up my customs form. With my contact lenses, I can’t read very small print.

I believe the hotel we stay at the first couple of nights in San Salvador has wireless Internet, so I anticipate being to post a couple of things. I would be more certain about that, but I took 8 years of French instead of Spanish and that makes it hard to read the hotel website. French – yeah, I have lived in Southern California my whole life, what language should I learn? French (see last sentence, two paragraphs up.) I’ve never known anyone personally who speaks French for a legitimate reason.

Anyway, if you are reading this by 22 February, or 23 February, it means I and my team have arrived safely, we have not been jailed for trafficking school supplies, and our hotel indeed has Internet service.

I look forward to telling you how things are going.


Jan 21, 2008

Martin Luther King and Leadership

One of my goals is to visit all of the Presidential Libraries. I may write more about them at a later time. When I visit, I also try to take in any significant historical sites that may be nearby.

In Atlanta, Georgia, nearby the Jimmy Carter Library, only a couple of miles away as the crow flies, is the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and Memorial Site. On my last trip to Atlanta, I led a leadership lesson comparing the leadership of Dr. King and President Carter. The purpose of the lesson was not to be critical of either, but to simply challenge growing leaders to consider what leadership qualities lead to accomplishment and positive change.

For the purposes of this lesson, we just considered the effectiveness of Carter's leadership as President as it compared to the leadership of Martin Luther King (MLK) as civil rights leader. It is important to point out that today, the Carter Center is one of the most effective organizations solving problems of poverty and disease in countries around the world. Carter's leadership as a former President, with respect to poverty, is an example to all former Presidents. Sadly, his contemporary political interjections continue to harm and overshadow the magnificent work of the Carter Center.

As for Carter, it is often said that his Presidency was the "unfinished presidency," which is a nice way of saying that he wasn't successful in what he set out to do as President. The Carter Library demonstrates this with exhibits of good ideas, many of which have still not been accomplished, i.e. a realistic energy policy and a containment of Islamic terrorism. You leave the presidential wing sensing this lack of accomplishment. Fortunately, a new exhibit demonstrating the work of the Carter Center with poverty and waterborne disease is uplifting and inspirational.

But there is not, and will never be, a Jimmy Carter Holiday. Today is Martin Luther King's birthday, so I thought I would post a bit on his leadership.

Coretta Scott King who died in 2006, is now laid next to Dr. King at the King Center

When visiting the King Center, it is interesting to note that the events most known in his life occurred 100 years after the Civil War. Last fall, I included some Atlanta Civil War sites in my tour.
Atlanta was burned to the ground by General Sherman during the War and there are markers all around relating to that battle. Not far from the King Center is the Oakland Cemetery, which contains one of the largest Confederate Soldier burial grounds, pictured here.

I sat for a while, pondering the loss of life in that war. Among many thoughts going through my head was - was it worth it? Meaning, was it really worth laying down your life to basically protect an economic system that relied so heavily on slavery? Its a bit disturbing that even today there are some who feel like it was. I considered the great destruction and pain and suffering and it seemed like such a waste. The love of money is the root of this evil, the root of many evils that lead to the Civil War.

One hundred years later, many of those evils still presided over the law, leading to the Civil Rights Movement and the necessary leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lessons are often learned terribly slow.

It is an interesting comparison, Jimmy Carter, a US President, and MLK, a citizen leader. Who was the more capable leader? One had the office of the Presidency, a world stage and unlimited funds (while he was the POTUS.) The other, a baptist preacher with no legal office and no money.

A pictorial wall of the major events of MLK's life.

A trip through both museums reveals much about each leader. MLK was a leader of great accomplishment, whose legacy is still inspiring others to learn and to allow and make progress. Bus after bus pulled up to the museum, unloading passengers from different backgrounds and ethnicities. The King Museum is not fancy and relatively small; a bit run down I thought. But in just a couple of small rooms, his story and legacy are well told.

This is the key to the hotel room MLK was staying in when he was assassinated.

MLK's personal Bible

MLK's church, Ebeneezer Baptist Church stands next to his memorial.

One leaves the MLK Center quiet, in deep thought and retrospection... and inspired about what can be accomplished with sacrifice and a wise approach to leadership.

Leadership can be defined as "influence, nothing more nothing less." MLK had incredible influence. He was a great leader because he influenced change in a positive and long lasting way. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he refused to run for political office and he led his followers in non-violent approach which forced the country to take notice.

Great leaders are often considered great because they hold to a basic principle to accomplish their goals. I believe that if MLK had not approached these issues with a non-violent philosophy, or had he been elected to some public office, he would not be celebrated today with a holiday or a monument or a museum. He would likely be buried in Oakland Cemetery with a fancy tombstone and be just another spot on the tour map.

And no-one would have today off.

While there is much more progress to be made in the area of civil rights and social justice, MLK's accomplishments do not stand as unfinished or unsuccessful. His life completed with a solid legacy and clear purpose.

My favorite MLK speech is the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. While the content is important, this speech moves me because of its context in MLK's life. The speech would be the final speech ever given by King. With a careful read and a historical perspective, I can't help but wonder if he somehow sensed that his life or influence would soon come to an end. It is the perfect final address. The speech itself summarizes his accomplishments and gives a time-line of the movement up to that point. He also gives warnings and guidance for those who would continue on, and he gives reminders of the importance of the non-violent approach. He ends the speech with these words:

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

He said those words on April 3, 1968 in Memphis. He was assassinated the very next day, April 4, 1968. These are the words of a great leader who finished well.

You can read or listen to this speech here:


Jan 17, 2008

Oceanic Airlines TV and Billboard Ads

I haven't had the time to blog for some days now. Since I won't blog on Fridays, thought I'd post something fun.

Well, fun if you get it.

This is a television commercial for Oceanic Airlines. This ad is showing during regular programming on the ABC television network. There are also billboards in certain cities all around the globe advertising Oceanic's current routes. Below the video are some interesting billboards for Oceanic appearing in strategic cities around the world.

Sydney, Australia

Los Angeles, California

Ames Iowa (Big Ben shows a time of 8:15)

Miami, Florida

Knoxville, Tennessee

Portland, Oregon

New York, New York (Times Square)

Seoul, South Korea

Tustin, California

Shortly after these billboards were posted, there were each vandalized with the words "". Here are a couple of samples from Knoxville and Miami (all of them were done, I don't feel the need to post them all.

Something interesting is afoot. Something viral, something challenging, something Lost fans need to get caught up on...

Before January 31.


Jan 12, 2008

Stuffing the Ballot Box

A got a little bit of enjoyment from today's San Diego Union Tribune poll results in today's Family section:

Tell Us About It
January 12, 2008

Last week, we asked for your predictions about who would win the Republican primary in New Hampshire. Could there have been some ballot-stuffing going on for one long-shot candidate? Take a look.

78% Ron Paul
8% John McCain
6% Mike Huckabee
5% Mitt Romney
2% Rudy Giuliani
1% Fred Thompson


For some reason, reading this article made me laugh. I love it that someone (or a room full of someones) decided to own this reader poll for their candidate. Interestingly, the actual New Hampshire polling data wasn't much better was it?

I once had a role in a presidential campaign. No, I wasn't the candidate, 2008 is actually the first year I would be eligible to run. Thanks for wondering though.

One of my duties was to set up what were called "Debate Parties." The purpose of these parties was to get a whole bunch of people together in a room full of pizza and phone lines. As soon as the Presidential debate was over, everyone was to drop the pizza and start dialing.

In front of each person was a phone and a list of television and radio talk shows and the call-in number. Larry King, C-SPAN, local and national radio programs, etc. The party goer's job was to call those numbers, get on the air live, and say that our candidate clearly won the debate and that they were the most "presidential." It really didn't matter whether or not they had even watched the debate; it didn't matter if our candidate was utterly destroyed by his opponent. The point was to flood the airwaves with positive spin in order to influence the unsuspecting electorate.

Across town, another debate party for our opponent was also in full swing with the same phone numbers. These debate parties are held all over the country on debate nights. I'm sorry to report that many, if not most of the callers you hear after a debate on these shows, are campaign volunteers and not your random average American.

When I watch campaign coverage today, I like to guess which callers to these shows are actually legit, and how many are just pizza freeloaders who are playing the game. Its much easier to tell if the host of the program decides to get them to elaborate on their opinion. They are immediately stumped. Truth is, they probably have more nuggets of sausage in front of them than nuggets of debate insight.

With all the spin and political gaming going on, accuracy is often lacking. I am concerned that the candidates may be more distracted with playing and winning the game rather than giving a solid vision for our country. Someone once remarked that Washington is just like Hollywood, except that what happens in Washington is real.

And it has real consequences.

Its already an interesting year.


Jan 10, 2008

Forgiving the Unfriendly Town

Today I had to drive to a meeting that was normally about a 90 minute trip away from my office. Much of the trip takes me through some smaller, more rural communities in our fine county.

Once such community I came to has several shops and stores along a strip that is really the only main road through the town. Because of the proliferation of Indian Casinos (Native American Economic Entertainment Resorts) in that region, there was a major road widening project underway. This is causing significant traffic delays, but it is necessary so that the roads could handle the increasing casino traffic cruising through this small town all through the day and night.

I had already been in two meetings, starting at seven o'clock in the morning, plus another meeting of sorts on the phone while on the drive. In the three meetings, I had much coffee. In the car, I had much coffee. During my phone meeting, it became clear to me that I would need a biological pit stop.

First I stopped at a gas station. To my great surprise, I learned that I would not be given the gas station restroom key. I thought that perhaps they would prefer that I buy something and "pay the rent" so to speak, so I offered to buy a pack of gum. Rudely, the attendant told me the restrooms are not for the public. I offered to buy gas at $3.63 a gallon but even that wouldn't get me into the restroom.

Flabbergasted and increasingly more biologically concerned, I got back in my car, waited for the flagman to allow me back into traffic, and went next door to a quaint local restaurant. But on the front door was a very large sign that said "Restrooms are for paying customers who eat a meal only." I definitely had no time for a meal and quickly discerned that I didn't have time to discuss policy with the manager.

Next door was an auto-parts store, a rather large one. Surely these guys would understand. But they were the most adamant "Absolutely not, you can absolutely not use our restroom. We in no way have a public restroom." He then added, "and no one on this whole strip is going to allow you to use their restroom, so you might as well be on your way."

Discouraged in my mission, I inquired as to whether or not he could direct me to some appropriate shrubbery. At this, he gruffly said "Not on my property!" I left... and he and three other employees followed. They watched me all the way to my car until I got in and drove away.

Eventually, in another town farther away than I thought possible, my mission was completed. There were no further complications of any kind.

I spent the rest of the day pondering this experience. What an unfriendly town! I kept saying to myself. It was clear that they had some kind of town meeting where they collectively agreed on this policy. I was surprised that even buying something would not earn me some hospitality or even pity. This mean town angered me throughout the day.

But by this evening, driving back through (I had been very careful to take care of all biological business before leaving my meeting) I was reminded of a great rule of thumb to remember whenever people are rude or hurtful: "Hurting people hurt others and are easily hurt by them." I teach that all the time, its one of my favorites. I got this rule from John Maxwell. He said I could steal it. The purpose of this rule is to help us learn to respond well when people hurt us.

How should we respond when people are rude, condescending, inconsiderate or mean to us? Should we be rude back? I don't think retaliation is part of spiritual maturity. It seems to me that a mature response is to understand that when people behave oddly or hurtful, there is something behind it, something that if I fully understood, I would have compassion rather than take it personally.

I wondered about what would precede a community-wide no-public restroom policy, one that would even drive away business, one that would not be customer-friendly.

I realized that the local casinos, four of them that I am aware of within just a few short miles, could be having a negative effect. Certainly, the traffic in the small town was not helping their businesses. It was a mess outside: construction mess, hundreds of cars, most of which were not local and not carrying potential patrons. The smoke, noise and traffic cones must make shop owners grumpy.

I also figured that a large number of people leaving casinos may not be taking care of their own biological business before leaving. Passers-by with too much to eat and too much to drink probably increases the number of drop-ins these businesses receive. And since these drop-ins have no money left, they aren't buying anything either.

Could it be that there is a necessary reason for the no-restroom policy?

Is it understandable that these shop-owners would be rude considering they are likely deluged with over fed and over watered people who have no intention of patronizing their establishment and take the parking spaces of those who do?

Are these people hurting financially because of the issues? and personally as their small town is carved up and polluted by casino traffic?

Are these people hurting?

With those thoughts, my anger turned to compassion. And in my heart, forgiveness.

I guess I don't actually know if my speculations are correct, but nonetheless, the unfriendly people there deserve my consideration of their situation. And my patience.

Next time I go through that town, I think I just go in these stores and smile. And buy something.


Jan 7, 2008

Oceanic Airlines Resumes Flight Schedule

There aren't too many TV shows that I follow closely. I've hardly event noticed the writers strike.

This is because my favorite show isn't set to begin its new season until January 31st.


Eight shows are done, eight more are expected but may get postponed if the strike is still going much longer.

Why do I like the show? Many reasons.

On the deeper levels, the writers have definitely been to Sunday school at some point. There are significant themes about good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, science vs. faith. There are characters with Biblical names - Jacob, Ruth and Naomi for example. There are also characters with names of philosophers - John Locke, Rousseau, Hawking and more. These character names are not red herrings and add to the richness of the conflicts that are being played out by the characters.

If you haven't watched the show, it would take a while to catch on to what is going on. Knowing what the Biblical characters and the philosophers represent adds a layer into the show that is very fascinating. But it will be hard to watch if you haven't caught up on the previous three seasons.

I'm not sure how the show will end up - I'm not optimistic that it will present a world view that I would agree with. But, its been fun and educational up to this point.

The writing is superb (less Nikki and Paulo) and I say pay the writers whatever, everyone knows they have a valid gripe, and let's get on with it!

I'm sure to comment more on Lost in time, but too many people reading this have not caught up on the show yet and I don't want to spoil anything. But for now, this post is really just to give a special announcement relevant to anyone who follows the show:

The picture below is a real ad appearing now in Time Square in New York City. It is promoting flights from New York to London on Oceanic Airlines.

Oceanic Airlines has announced that it has resumed operations as of December 31, 2007. As you may know, Oceanic Airlines ceased operations after the loss of Oceanic flight 815 on September 22, 2004.

Click below for a link to the press release from Oceanic Air:


Jan 6, 2008

A Great Man.... Sort Of...

I told someone recently that a great man once said, "For everything, there is a first time." I was proud of that encouragement.

Later, I realized that it wasn't a man who said it, actually, it was a Vulcan.

Have a great week!


Jan 5, 2008

No Friday Blogs And No Osteen Tickets

Its difficult for many people, including myself, to take a day off. A real day off. Its one of my goals this year. For me, Friday is the best possible day. So, no blogs on Fridays.

Last night, my wife and I did go out for dinner with her parents. One the way home, we got stuck in unusual traffic waiting to get into a show at Cox arena, at San Diego State University. Who was playing? Joel Osteen.

I didn't buy a ticket.

But 12,000 other people did.

I've never read his books and I've hardly watched him on TV so I'm not going to give much commentary. He has lots of critics and supporters, many of whom I suspect haven't read his books or watched him on TV either. People often criticize or endorse people or movements that they don't know much about simply to satisfy a need to have an opinion or a side. Its much the same way we pick US Presidents.

But it is interesting that thousands of people are coming to his church and road show, and not all of them consider themselves to be Christian or religious in any specific way.

Critics of Osteen worry that his message of "God has good things in store for you" that focuses on self-improvement neglects the deeper theological teachings on matters of sin and redemption. Someone was quoted in our local paper saying that by focusing on self-improvement, Osteen turns God into a "cosmic bellhop who is there to make sure Americans are having a good time."

Whether or not his teaching is incomplete is not my point here. Like I said, I really haven't paid that much attention. But seeing so much interest in that kind of message reminds me of a great quote by CS Lewis from the book The Weight of Glory:

"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." --C.S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"

We are far too easily pleased. Clearly, we often miss the wonderful things that God has in store for those who put their faith in him. Perhaps what we miss most is the deep joy of blessing others because we have been blessed.

Something to think more about...


Jan 3, 2008

What's an Iowa Caucus Anyway?

Since I will be unable to post today, I thought you may find this timely for your reading pleasure.

Most people don't know what a "caucus" is, as in, today's Iowa Caucus. Here's what it is according to the somewhat reliable Wikipedia:


Jan 2, 2008

Some Business in Ghana

Death - not what I figured I would post about on just the second day.

In the US, most people don’t spend a whole lot of time contemplating our common fate, unless we have good reason to believe it is coming soon or unless we have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. Other than life insurance, most people don’t really plan for it.

One business that will always be in business is the death business. One out of every one person dies. Wars and disease do not increase death, they only affect the time and circumstance of it. Everyone is a customer. You can even buy your coffin at Costco; however, you may have to buy the 2-pack.

A friend of mine is a missionary in Ghana. In every economy, some businesses thrive more than others. In Ghana, the funeral and casket making business is quite visible sadly, as the circumstances in this impoverished nation keep death and dying in the greater conscious of the typical person. He has recently been posting some local advertising for caskets. These photos struck me as a profound statement about our blessings and the opportunities we have to bless others.

Coffins as common as coffee tables.

"Time Will Tell" - a salesman with a sense of humor.

Wherever you go, some American has a business going.

If you can't read it, the ad on the right is for an undertaker, just in case you might need one while you are visiting this town.

For some with a little extra money, fancy caskets are all the rage.

Ghana is one of those poor countries that has one of the best chances to grow economically. It has relatively little violence compared to many of its neighbors, abundant natural resources, great people and a great location (coastal Africa) for business and trade. They even speak English. But the poverty level, especially in rural areas, is overwhelming. And people don't live very long.

Government corruption is one of the major problems, making it difficult for world governments to help and international aid is often squandered.

Who can help? I believe that ultimately, only the Church is free to help, without hindrance of bureaucracy or corrupt governments. People like my friend Stacey, who go and demonstrate and announce the message of Christ.

Praying for Ghana today.


Jan 1, 2008

New Year - New Blog

Happy New Year 2008!

New Year's Day.

It seems like the best day to try once again to become a regular blogger.

I've tried several times to make this a regular habit. I was once posting on three separate blogs at the same time. That was fun, but I never had the time for all that, so none of them became fruitful.

So today, I'll begin a new blog without some funny name or title and without a limited scope of content. Just a blog to express ideas, stories, thoughts, whatever, in a hope to find this medium useful for ministry and personal growth.

There are so many reasons that this is a good thing for me to do. I won't explain here as they will become evident in time in the event that this new blog remains current.

Where to start?

How about some resolutions for 2008?

These are in no particular order of importance or priority. Just a few things I'm thinking about on this New Year's Day...

Blog more: Thus, you are reading this...

Take a real vacation: Other than a couple of family visits, Kristy and I haven't taken a vacation for a long time. This is not to say that family trips are not vacation. We have decided that most of our vacation time should be spent with our families who live in other states. But a trip somewhere new, just the two of us, that's what I'm talking about here. Its been a long time.

We knew that 2007 would be an unusually busy year, but we thought we would have some chance to get out of town for a while. Didn't happen.

So, we are thinking of going to Ireland this year. We almost have enough Frequent Flyer Miles to go to the moon, so Ireland should be no problem. We have missionary friends there to visit and to mooch off of, so it will be a cheap trip. Except for the airport Starbuck's - they really stiff you for a regular tall coffee!

Its also the last year for the original Yankee Stadium and I think I should go take in a game (and also mark the FDR Presidential Library off my list.)

Remember the Sabbath: Pastors don't get Sundays off. Unbeknownst to some people, but knownst to most doctors, pastors work too much. My non-church-going doctor even pointed out to me that pastors are some of the most stressed out patients he sees. I've been helping him understand why.

This year, I must commit to a weekly day off, a true Sabbath. No work - just God and the family. Its going to be on Fridays. I need to do it before I can teach it well.

Go to the beach more: Its ridiculous to live in this town and not be at the beach more often. There may not be a better place to live on the planet and I hardly make it to the beach. I think that's where I should be most Fridays in 2008.

Lose weight: Well, I didn't gain any weight in 2007, that's the good news. But I'm at this crazy size where its hard to get clothes to fit. I'm an "extra-medium." I have yet to find a store that carries that size.

Stop smoking: I don't smoke now and I've never been a smoker. Its extremely unlikely that I will start smoking this year, so this will be an easy one to keep. Its good to have a few gimmes.

I have other resolutions, mostly they are between me and God and they will stay there. I'll probably think of some more later that could have been a part of this blog post but this will have to do.

The real purpose of this post has more to do with keeping the first resolution listed here anyway.

May God bless you tremendously in 2008!