Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My new Palm m515

Several days ago I wrote about how I was going back to using my old Palm PDA. Well Kimberly's Aunt Lisa upgraded her PDA to a cell phone combo thing and gave me her old PDA rather than throwing it away. So now I've got a Palm m515...a serious upgrade from my Palm m100. It actually has a color screen, tons more memory, an extention card, and a docking cradle. Life is getting busier so I needed the help. Thanks Lisa.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Christian...or Christianist?

Andrew Sullivan of Time magazine has written an excellent essay about how many Christians feel their religion has been hijacked by the radical right and Christian fundamentalists. He uses the term Christianist to differentiate between those who are Christian and those who have allowed Christianity to become corrupted by politics, greed and intolerance (i.e. Pat Robertson, Tom Delay, Jerry Falwell and yes, unfortunately, James Dobson who I believe was a great Christian counselor who was corrupted by his far-reaching influence).

I don't agree with all that is in the essay. I don't feel comfortable using Christ's name to describe people who act in ways anti-thetical to His teachings. I would prefer the term pharisee. But the essay brings up interesting points...many of which I do agree with.

Here's the essay...

Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Overheard: In Class

This was overheard from a student discussing the movie The Notebook.

"Love killed them at the exact same time." - Lacy D.

Whoa...that 80's hair band Nazareth was right, Love Hurts!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Last Day of School

Today is the last day of school!

When I was in school the last day of the school year was a time of awesome celebration. The bell would ring, papers would go flying everywhere, a stampede would tear out the doors as fast as possible. That final bell was the ringing announcement of the climax of a long year of work.

What a feeling of pure exhiliration! And I actually liked school for the most part.

I thought I would feel the same way as a teacher. That it would be such an exciting moment when the long busy year finally gave way to summer vacation with the tone of a dismissal bell.

But the way our schedules are arranged these days...the year ends with an anti-climatic whimper. Sure, it's still a great day when you can drive off with 12 weeks of vacation ahead of you...but it no longer begins with that great moment of exhaltation. Now the year ends with a long slow sigh.

The last two days are early release days. The students spend those days taking exams. However; if they passed TAKS, were never suspended and are passing your class they can exempt your exam. I only have eight students out of over 100 taking my exams. Now that can be a good thing since I have less tests to grade. Many students skip those last several review days so the last chance I have to say goodbye to my full classes was a week ago.

They have an orderly locker clean out several days before the last day so there is no paper to throw gloriously into the air on the final day. If you don't have an exam you are required to immediately leave campus. So instead of a stampede on that last have a tepid trickle.

Now all those things are good things. I hated being on duty that last day when students peeled out of the parking lot hurling water balloons and spraying silly stream. I also felt sorry for those janitors who had to clean up the knee deep paper trail.

But admittedly a part of me misses that last explosion of joy as school was out for summer.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Runnin' the Bases

I've been a baseball fan all of my life. Growing up, my family and I often got to sit nine rows behind the hometeam dugout at Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium due to the fact that my Mom was able to get tix from her office who had season tickets.

Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry threw me a ball once, I was able to get lots of autographs, but I never actually got to go on the field...until a couple of weeks ago.

After a Texas Rangers game the crowd was invited to run the bases after the game. So we waited in line and actually ran the bases of the Ballpark in Arlington (forget Ameriquest Field). Sure, the experience would have been even greater had we'd been on the turf of the Kansas City Royals. But I'm not complaining. What an experience. To actually run the bases on a real major league diamond.

They actually made you we took these pictures while on the move. What a day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Crap

Christians who simply dismiss The Da Vinci Code as mere fiction are deluding themselves. There is a subtle, yet important, difference between a fiction and a lie.

Fiction is simply something that did not happen. Webster's Dictionary defines fiction as "something made up."

A lie as defined by Webster's is... "to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive. To create a false impression. A deliberate telling of an untruth."

Lies are malicious. And that is what the DaVinci Code is. A malicious deception. The DaVinci Code in book form is libel. The DaVinci Code on screen is slander.

The book makes the unfounded accusation that Jesus Christ had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene. This is not only's blasphemy. Any Christian who has any respect for Christ will not pay money to support this movie or book and thus support this heresy.

The book also claims certain things as fact (example: that it is fact that a group called the Priory of Scion exists)...none of which are true. The author deliberately fuzzes the line between fact and fiction. He is intentionally trying to mislead those ignorant of the Gospels and Christian history. And any Christian who pays to see this movie or read this book perpetuates the deception. This is not mere entertainment.

This book, claiming certain elements of its fictional story as fact, lies about Christ, The Council of Nicea, Opus Dei and the Roman Catholic Church. It contains shoddy scholarship and deliberate falsehoods.

And I'm sorry, but any Christian who supports the cause of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, supports something that is anti-Christian.

Fortunately the message of Christ can withstand any and all attacks. But I urge all Christians who read this to not allow themselves to be used by something that is meant to attack that which they believe.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

Using God to Predict the Weather

I couldn't resist this one. Pat Robertson is announcing that God has told him that there
will be major storms, including a possible tsunami, in the U.S. this year. Glad to know that ole Pat is getting weather info from God. Now if he can only tell us where and when these storms are actually going to that would be useful. What's next? Traffic reports?

Thursday, May 18, 2006


F.C. Barcelona are the Champions League Champions! Barca beat Arsenal of London 2-1 to win their second European Championship last night. Barcelona had lost in four previous finals...especially humiliating in the light of arch-rivals Real Madrid collecting nine of the Euro trophies in the past 50 years. I'm sure there are a lot of Catalans who won't be getting any sleep in the upcoming days. Forca Barca!

NOTE: I am more than glad to post comments that disagree with my opinions. However, I will follow the journalistic norm of NOT posting anonymous comments. You have something to say...sign your name to your opinion. Don't be afraid to stand by what you believe!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How to Tick Off Everybody, Part Two

Bush's approval ratings are continuing to plummet. At this rate he'll be noted as one of the worst presidents in American history. Even the conservatives are turning on him. Here's an article from the New York Times about conservative discontent with our man in the White House. Just remember...I told you to vote Nader!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Places to Visit - San Francisco

Thought I'd write every once in awhile about places I've been. That way if you could check some of these places out.

Two years ago Kim and I celebrated our anniversary in San Francisco. I found the town fascinating and magical. There's this palpable feeling of eerie depravity right below the surface.

My favorite experience was hanging off the side of a trolley car as it defied gravity by going straight up a massive hill. It felt as though I was floating in the midst of the everyday life of San Francisco. You're right in the middle of all that humanity...yet not of it as you continue to slowly drift along the center of the road. Don't ride inside the car. Ride on the back platform or hang off the side.

I have to admit I enjoyed the Alcatraz trip. I enjoyed cruising in the bay and I enjoyed seeing the remnants of the Indian occupation of the island. Alcatraz has these strange birds that will attack you if you get too close to their young.

We stayed at the Sheraton down at Fisherman's Wharf. When we opened up our hotel room upon arriving their was this jet-lagged Fillipino family unpacking their bags. One guy was rolling around the bed as if in the midst of an ulcer attack. I said "sorry" and quickly closed the door. Turning around we saw the hotel manager running toward us gasping that he had made a mistake. I asked if there would be an upgrade and he said, "but of course."

Worth seeing: the Japanese Tea Garden, the seals at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Downtown, The San Francisco's Giant's baseball stadium, The cable cars/trolleys, Jack Kerouac Blvd, Coit Tower, Mission Delores and definately Alcatraz.

I really enjoyed seeing many of the landmarks in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Get in shape...those hills are steep. I would also pick a hotel near the Wharf. And bring a jacket if you go in June or July. As Mark Twain said "the coldest winter I ever saw was summer in San Francisco." It's not that bad, but you will want a jacket. But SF was definately worth the visit.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Contradiction of Che

This image is one of the most famous photographs ever taken. It has become a symbol of resistance and rebellion the world over. Che Guevara, a Marxist guerilla fighter in Castro's army that took over Cuba in 1959, has become an iconic figure. Sartre called him "the most complete human being of our age." College students have placed posters of his image on their dorm room walls for decades. Revolutionaries still place his image on banners as they protest government repression.

A great deal of his life is shrouded in mystery and myth. But one thing is quite clear...Che was a cold blooded murderer.

I am reading the most authoritative biography ever written about Che authorized by his family, widow, and the Cuban government. It is far from hagiography. It exposes Che's darker side along with his more "heroic" attributes.

It's Che's paradox that makes him an intriguing figure. Here is a man, a graduate of medical school, who gave up a comfortable upper-class lifestyle to fight in the horrid conditions of the jungle...battling severe asthma the entire time. Once successful in his Cuban revolution Che gave up his position of power to go back to the jungles of Africa and later Bolivia to fight for revolution. He gave up material comforts and power time and time again to live a life of sacrifice and hardship.

Along the way he used his medical expertise to treat enemy prisoners and save the lives of thousands of peasants. He tirelessly fought for the rights of the poor and displaced.

But he also was Castro's personal executioner. He personally shot traitors in the head with his own pistol. He executed, without trial, thousands who opposed Castro's new regime. He believed that the freedom of press was ridiculous and dangerous. He murdered and rampaged as a bloody butcher.

But he also wrote poetry and verse and showed great sensitivity toward the downtrodden. He also had a voracious sexual appetite who often took advantage of the peasant servants in his parent's employ while he was a teenager.

Such contradictions are fascinating...and frustrating. Che cannot be looked to as a hero in my opinion. I can never admire someone who resorted to violence and quashed personal freedoms in the way that he did. The only thing to possibly admire is that he was a man who actually lived his convictions which was to free the masses. Even that can be questioned. But I agree with Camus when he said "an end that requires unjust means is an unjust end."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spiritual Disciplines

Following any religious path requires discipline and regular devotion. My walk with God is the most important pursuit in life. Everything in my life stems from that relationship. Many people are under the mistaken impression that once you become a Christian then your walk should just progress naturally. A great deal of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, discuss and set forth spiritual disciplines essential for the Christian walk. The particulars should be adapted to the personality of each individual. Here's what works best for me...

Morning: Read daily passage from "My Utmost for His Highest." by Oswald Chambers.

Lunch: Read one chapter from the New Testament (NKJV) - progressing from Matthew through Revelation and then repeating. I'm currenly in I John. Then I pray or meditate using the following ACTS method...


Evening: Read one chapter from the Old Testament (NIV) - progressing from Genesis through Malachi and then repeating. I'm currently in Ezekiel.

Bedtime: Kim and I read a chapter from The Message - progressing from Genesis through Revelation. We are currenly in Exodus. Then we pray together.

I would like to add more prayer time to my day. And I do intersperse prayers throughout the day. However, I would like to commit more time to Christian meditation and doing devotions with my wife. Discipline is essential for staying on the right path. And when I stray is because I have neglected my spiritual habits.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Stand by Your Team!

CNN/SI is reporting that a disgruntled Kansas City Royals fan sold his team loyalty on e-bay. Frustrated by years of incompetence and ineptitude Chad Carroll decided to pledge his loyalty to another team and before doing so first sold his long-standing loyalty for the Royals to the highest bidder...along with some Royal momentos from the Royal's glorious past.

Click HERE for the story of a pathetic excuse for a fan. I probably shouldn't even give this guy any attention at all.

What unadulterated treachery! The problem with Royals fans is that they were spoiled by success early. Yes the Royals are terrible now. But direct your wrath toward the management...not the theoretical concept of the team. That's the problem with American sports fans loyalty.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Clinton Presidential Library

We drive through Little Rock, Arkansas on our way to visit Kimberly's grandparents in Indiana. This past Spring Break we decided to stop and visit the Clinton Library since we pass right by it a couple of times a year.We're not big Clinton fans but we thought since it was on our way...

Well, we were disappointed. I had been to the Eisenhower and Truman Libraries and Kimberly had been to LBJ and George H.W. Bush's libraries. Clinton's Library paled in comparison. To be fair, it did live up to it's name as being a library. There was lots and lots of is an actual library of records.But I was expecting more. I wanted to see a Presidential musueum. There was very little in the way of displays and artifacts. There was a Presidential limo and a mock-up of the oval office. I guess I was disappointed not to see Monica's dress.

It also seemed that the whole thing was a giant propaganda machine. I've heard that at Nixon's Library there is a whole Watergate area. I've heard that the Reagan Library discusses the Iran-Contra affair. I've also heard the LBJ Library deals fairly with the Vietnam War. But the Clinton Library barely mentions the impeachment (only the second impeachment in American history). And the one or two sentences (hidden in the millions of sentences of Clinton history) dedicated to the subject blame it on political conspiracies.

The building itself was impressive. Seeing the building was the most interesting part of the experience. However, that was not enough to redeem the whole library visit. It wasn't a waste of time...but I wouldn't recommend stopping unless you happen to be a HUGE Clinton fan.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Overheard in Class - Architect Job Description

Overheard in my AP World History class...

One student talking to another...

"I can't see you being an architect because I can't see you in the dirt digging for fossils and artifacts."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Chains of Technology

About six years ago I bought this Palm m 100 PDA to keep myself organized. I used it religiously for several years. But about a year ago I began to feel constrained by this mini computer. It had got to the point where I felt enslaved by its presence. If I accidently left it at home I felt a tinge of panic that I wouldn't remember my agenda for the day or recall what items were on my to-do list. When these feelings began to surface I knew I had to cut the cords to this little black piece of crap that was running my life.

So, for about the past year or so I went PDA free. And my life didn't miss a beat. I still got things done and was able to keep track of my schedule. Ahhh...but my life is about to amp us in busy-ness. It is now time to dust off my trusty Palm m 100...which of course is considered obsolete and pathetically outdated. But it is still windows based and still does all I need. Yes, it's not a Blackberry and it's not Bluetooth capable. To be honest I don't even know what Bluetooth is.
But I'm going to compromise. I will only keep it in my trusty messenger bag. If I don't have my bag with me...oh well. And I will limit the times I refer to it during the day. I refuse to be a slave to a gadget. Technology is a tool...and I refuse to be enslaved to a mindless piece of equipment!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Things I would like to do more

I would like to help my wife more.

I would like to walk barefoot outside more often.

I would like to turn off the television more.

I would like to go outside more.

I would like to use my patio more.

I would like to play with Ringo and Simba more often.

I would like to listen to the birds more.

I would like to meditate more.

I would like to pray more.

I would like to listen more.

I would like to think more.

I would like to grill more.

I would like to landscape more.

I would like to garden more.

I would like to listen to silence more.

I would like to listen to classical music more.

I would like to lay in the grass more.

I would like to read the Bible more.

I would like to watch the goats across the field more.

I would like to write poetry again.

I would like to be more artistic.

I would like to write more real letters.

I would like to live more.

photo: Curt Luthye, Jason Lipscomb, and me contemplating Greek ruins in 1996 Sicily.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Day

Didn't see any immigration protests in Kaufman yesterday. All my Hispanic students were in class...they didn't want to lose their final exam exemptions.

I remember a May Day tradition growing up that no one in Texas seems to have heard of. When I was kid, in class we would make flower baskets as a class project. Then we were to leave the basket on a neighbors porch, knock or ring the doorbell, then run away so they didn't know who left the flowers.

Everyone did this in our neighborhood. It was a nice way to express appreciation without trying to receive recognition. But no one seems to have even heard of such things in Texas. Yes, people knock on doors and leave "gifts," (i.e. Billy Madison) but that's not what I'm really talking about. You could get shot in Texas for knocking on someone's door and running off.

In 1997, when I was in Europe on May Day, I was amazed at the large number of people who participated in May Day parades. Everyone was decked out in red and many businesses were closed for the May Day holiday. This was seven or eight years after the fall of communism and Spain was and is a democratic nation. So I was suprised by how large the red celebrations were. I don't think they were all communists...maybe just members of the working syndicates...but still interesting. I didn't hear anyone singing "the Internationale" but it was a real worker's holiday.

Anyway, hope you had a great May Day and no I didn't wear red.