Sunday, December 16, 2007

Good Times to Be Bad

My favorite baseball team, the Kansas City Royals, have been a laughingstock for some time now. But if there is a silver lining behind the black cloud that has been the Royal's performance these past ten years is that they picked the best time in baseball history to have a horrible slump. They have no legacy sullied by the Mitchell Report. They have no records worth putting an asterek by during the steroid era. They have nothing to defend despite the fact that some of their players (Hal Morris and Wally Joyner) were listed in the report.

All signs in Kansas City point to improvement under GM Dayton Moore. Unfortunately they did just sign Jose Guillen, a notorious malcontent and HGH/Steroid user. But if you're going to have gone through the worst ten years of your franchise's history...the steroid era was the time to do it. The Yanks, Mets, Astros, etc...all have besmirched records their diehards will have to justify with pathetic and doomed-to-lose arguments. The Royals have nothing to justify during this time span.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Do You Believe your Truth or Not?

Huckabee has gotten some negative attention for asking during a New York Times interview if Mormons believe Satan and Jesus are brothers. First of all, I can't believe the question was entirely "innocent" as Huckabee described it. Huckabee's too smart for that and was certainly trying to raise doubts about Mormonism in the minds of voters. I have no problem with someone's religious beliefs being part of the public discussion of a candidate's background. However, why did Huckabee have to apologize?

If that's what Mormons really believe...what are they afraid of? Why do their beliefs have to remain secret? If Mormons truly believe that Satan and Christ were among several sons of God...then why keep that a secret? Why not stand by your convictions? No Mormon or religious expert has said the Huckabee was wrong. So what's the issue?

The issue obviously is that Mormonism is a cult founded by a convicted fraud that miraculously receives convenient new revelations for political expediency (i.e. renouncing polygamy to gain statehood and being a theologically rasicst institution until 1978). Hey...I respect your right to belong to a cult...but don't hide the facts of your faith and pretend to be something your not.

I won't hide the facts of my Christian faith...and there are some who categorize Christianity (incorrectly in my opinion) as a cult or as an archaic mythology. But I'm not hiding anything and I stand by my beliefs. My faith should be transparent. I know many great Mormons who are among the finest people I know. Some of my top students are Mormon. But Mormonism's repeated attempts to keep their doctrine and practices secret only proves the cultlike nature of their "religion." There may be a lot of criticisms of Christianity...but a lack of transparency cannot be one of them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Magazine Cover of the Year

Time magazine ranked this magazine cover as one of the ten best of the year. Rarely does a magazine cover make me laugh out loud...this one did.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First Christmas Tree

Here's Jackson seeing our Christmas tree for the first time...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Help from Grandpa

Here's a clip of Grandpa Reinking helping Jackson develop his walking skills during Thanksgiving weekend in Tulsa.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Walk This Way!!!

Here's a clip of Jackson practicing his walking skills. It won't be long now...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Homecoming 07

Enjoyed going back to Southern Nazarene University for homecoming this past weekend. It was Kimberly's ten-year reunion and it's always good to meet up with friends and family. Big shout out to my cousin Allison who did an excellent job watching our son Jackson during the reunion luncheon. He didn't cry or fuss once for her.

I love my university but I am sad to see the change in campus culture due to the increasing presence of athletics. Adding football and baseball has really transformed the dynamic of the campus community. The transformation has been for the most part a negative one.

The problem does not come from sporting events that involve smaller numbers of students...such as basketball, tennis, golf, track & field, etc... The problems arise from sports like football, soccer, baseball and softball where large numbers of athletes are involved. The recruitment of large numbers of athletes often allows some to slip in who are not the most positive members of Christian society. You always hate to see academics sacrificed for big time athletics...and I believe our society in general will not be judged positively by future generations for our obsession with such activities.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Microcredit and

This past May I blogged about how I had participated in providing a microloan to an entreprenuer in Zacatecas, Mexico through Well, Alicia Pinales Najar has repaid her loan in full and I have taken that same $25 to help finance a microloan to Zipporah Wangari Kihika in Kenya. Zipporah sells eggs in a market within a slum in Mombasa, Kenya. Her husband sells potatoes at the local market. Her microloan will allow her to expand her business and purchase more inventory to help support her family. You can read more of her story here.

I encourage you to take a look at The website is safe and secure and has been profiled in the NY Times, PBS Frontline/World, Oprah and is mentioned in Bill Clinton's new book. It's fast and easy. You can loan as little as $25. As soon as the loan is paid back you can either withdraw the money or cycle it into another loan. Microcredit is an ingenious way to act locally across the globe. The $25 I gave was given to me as a birthday gift. Now that gift can literally keep giving for as long as I keep cycling it through Kiva's microcredit program.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Parade

Jackson participated in his Daycare's Halloween Parade this morning in Kaufman, Texas. Here is a short video. Jackson is the little monkey sitting on Pop's (Tom) lap.

More pictures from this festive event can be found at my flickr site HERE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Overheard in Class

Overhead in class while students were debating the following ancient conundrum...What came first...the chicken or the egg?...

"Well dinosaurs had eggs." - Kalee N.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In Rainbows

Last week I joined the online frenzy and downloaded the new Radiohead album "In Rainbows." I didn't get up at 1:45 am like the hardcore fans. I actually waited until the next day.

The whole thing is marketing genius. Name your own price? I paid 2.90 pounds...little over $5.00. Bypassing labels and keeping all the profits...and creating anticipation...Radiohead's making a killing.

Plus the album is really good. Not O.K. Computer or Kid A good...but still really good. It only took me about ten minutes to get the whole thing bought, downloaded and zapped to my iPod. Don't think there are too many other bands that can get away with bypassing the whole record label deal. Radiohead has always forged their own path.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Forney Cribs

The Little Man showing off his crib...or showing off that now he can pull up to a stand anywhere he wants.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Boomer Sooner!


World's Worst City

One of my favorite bands, Brazzaville, named themselves after the capital city of the Republic of opposed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) across the river. The band named themselves after the former French colonial capital for two, a bandmember had lived there for a short time, and two, Brazzaville for years had held the dubious distinction of being the worst major city in the world for quality of life. They thought that fact would reflect the world-weary nature of their music.

But to the great joy of the Brazzavillians they are no longer residents of the world's worst city. That title has been passed to the once majestic city of Baghdad.
photo: The Band Brazzaville in their adopted home city of Barcelona, Catalunya

Friday, October 05, 2007

Anything Better to Do?

Just this past week I criticized my Republican Senator for wasting time by bringing to the floor a vote condemning for their ad criticizing General Petreaus.

Now the Democrats are joining in. Harry Reid actually wasted time circulating a letter around the senate condemning Rush Limbaugh for saying "phony soldiers" in regards to troops who criticize the war.

Don't these fools, Democratic or Republican, have anything better to do than attack websites and radio hosts...liberal or conservative...for simply stating their opinion?

No wonder dictators around the world can get away with murder. No wonder poverty spreads and health care costs explode. No wonder AIDS runs rampant in Africa and gas prices rise. No wonder carbon emissions increase and etc...etc...etc...

Our "representatives" are too busy posturing and indulging in worthless attacks to actually lead.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Puppet Masters

I love teaching Chinese history and culture. I would love to visit someday to see the Wall, the Qin Dynasty terra cotta warriors and much more. But let's not fool ourselves. Just because China is not ruled by an overtly evil man like Mao Zedong does not mean that the current regime is any less evil.

For years the idea was that the more we engaged China through capitalism the more likely we could affect positive change. The communist government, however, has shown that it can make money through free enterprise yet still destroy the humanity of its citizens and the defenseless around the world. Military options of course should be off the table...but China can be hurt in other ways.

China desperately wants to be respected as a modern 21st Century superpower. They especially want to show off the "new China" in 2008. It's time for the international community to gird up and propose a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China buys most of Sudan's oil. China is financially supporting the regimes in Burma, North Korea and Cuba.

The Chinese always vetoes UN Security Council mandates that seek to sanction totalitarian regimes. China's vetoes in the past have assisted Milosevic in Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran along with countless other tyrants. Christians are imprisoned and executed on a daily basis. All dissent is forcibly quelled. China is still a totalitarian regime which supports evil around the world. It's time for the international community to speak out. China is often the puppet master behind the crazed despots making headlines today. It's time they're called out.

Of course money talks and the West makes too much money off China (and sees even greater market inroads there in the future) for anyone to speak the truth in ways that carry any real weight.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Free Who?

My fundamental problem with the recent events in Jena, Louisiana is that the central figures in the case (the African-American teenagers who assaulted a white classmate) are not heroes by any stretch of the word. Victims of heinous judicial (and perhaps prejudicial) injustice...yes, but they are not heroic victims.

There are not many heroes in the Jena case. The white students responsible for hanging nooses should have been expelled and punished much more severely. The African-American students who beat up one of those white students should have been tried as juveniles for their crime of assault and battery. And it was a crime. Let's not forget that. There are no innocents here.

There are serious issues of racism in Jena. That obviously needs to be dealt with. Those African-American teenagers should not have been tried as adults for attempted murder. However, Jesse Jackson and Sharpton are acting like these African-American young men are heroes for a new 21st Century civil rights movement. If that's the case, that movement is in serious trouble.

The movement loses its moral authority if these boys become the symbols used in its cause. Martin Luther King, Jr., the greatest of the civil rights leaders, would have never supported violent means to affect change. Non-violent protest was his mantra and his life work. King would never endorse these young men as the ones to pity or lift up onto a pillar of reverence.

As a Christian I believe injustice should never be met with violence. The most successful and morally legitmate battles against tyranny have been peaceful. These young men should have been guided to follow the model of Christ, Gandhi, Mandela, The Nepalese in 2005, and the Burmese monks of today on how to conquer an immoral system of racism or totalitarianism or other travesties against mankind.

Jena should be a rallying cause for those wishing to continue the fight against the horrible plague of racism. But that cause should not include lionizing people who perpetrated violence against a fellow (albeit dispicable) human being. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stand up man!

We've entered a whole new ballgame folks...the little man is pulling to a stand without help from us.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Aggie Tirades

Well, I guess all Oklahomans are weighing in on Mike Gundy's postgame meltdown over Jenni Carlson's column questioning QB Bobby Reid's attitude. No secret I'm a Sooner fan so I'm not exactly impartial. All I have to say is that Carlson is a sportswriter who's written dumb things for years. But I don't think her column was that far out of line. Poorly conceived, as all her columns are, perhaps...but not worthy of such a performance from Gundy. And Mike Gundy (who I always liked in the past) is acting like an idiot ("A mother of children!!!"). But hey...the whole thing's been fun to watch...even if you're not a sports fan it's worth taking a look at the Gundy explosion on youtube.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rocket Boy

Here is a video of Jackson as an astronaut.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Move On To Something Important

I'm so glad to see my senator, John Cornyn, spending his time drafting and introducing a Senate censure of a website. Why spend time trying to solve immigration issues, epidemic foreclosures, spiraling housing markets, rising gas prices, endemic poverty, third world Texas colonias, lack of health care, political corruption, campaign finance reform, unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear ambitions in Iran, genocide in Darfur, earthquakes in Indonesia, and whatever and so forth...

Yes, I'm glad to see my honorable senator from Texas and all the other yokels in D.C. spending time censuring a website that now has even more attention because our highest legislative assembly dignified it with an official rebuke from the United States of America. Way to go...That's the way to show 'em!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

College Life

Notes from my Moleskine during a UIL Competition Conference (Saturday 9-15-07):

Sitting in the student union at the University of North Texas in front of a 'Mean Green for Obama' poster reading "The Dharma Bums" while listening to Coltrane on the iPod feeling a bit like a college student...but those days were long ago.

Now I'm outside because inside can be so stifling and its beautiful outside. I'm sitting on a bench under trees facing a gazebo with a fountain splishing and splashing nearby. I'm next to the Independence Hall looking admin building and the trees have been planted in rows like that scene in 'House of Flying Daggers' where a cool fight takes place. The benches are all lined up like the Central Park ones where George Peppard sat on in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" when he confronted the Barnaby Jones Bev Hillbilly guy. (turned out he was Holly Golighty's husband).

It's nice until three of my students spot me and want to gab but they let me use a cell phone to check on the fam in Forney and all's well. I get rid of them by convincing them to splash around in the fountain. They're relunctant at first but I appeal to their inner 'Rage Against the Machine' Zen lunatics. So they're gone now and it's so quiet that when I sneeze (one time!) a butch coed feminazi soldier a few benches up whirls around and gives me a if looks could kill glare. I just smile and say " bout a God or whatever you believe in Bless You?" She's not amused.

I saw two guys, one faintly south Asian with a digital camera, taking action pics of a pasty white dude with a taliban beard carrying a black furry stuffed monkey as he walked up the hill with the massive screaming eagle statue.

Others doing Tai Chi or somesuch in unison on a mean green lawn. I love college campuses cause weird stuff's normal and on campus weird is not's normal. I also love college book stores but I need to stay out of them because I can't afford anything.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now I drink green tea just about every day. I've even blogged about green tea in the past. But I'm not sure I would go far as Jack Kerouac when he writes in The Dharma Bums...

"The first sip is joy, the second is gladness, the third is serenity, the fourth is madness, the fifth ecstasy." Maybe he was putting something in his green tea besides honey.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hurricane Jackson

Here's a short video clip of Jackson being destructive and attacking the paparazzi.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Beatific Paths

Today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac's literary masterpiece, On The Road. I couldn't let today go by without comment. Kerouac is one of my favorite authors and I have read On the Road at least seven or eight times. I read a variety of stuff in a year but I always save time for at least a couple of Kerouac reads. There is something tragically poignant in Kerouac's search for meaning and joy. As a fan of jazz music I appreciate his free form improvisational style and frequent mentions of Bird and Dex. And I look forward to traveling to Austin when the original Kerouac teletype scroll of On The Road goes on display at the University of Texas in March.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The White Man Crawleth

Yes, Jackson's crawling now. Here's video to prove it. Unfortunately we are still using our analog camcorder. So any video I download to the computer comes from my digital photo camera. So it's a bit primitive. Yes, Jackson is chasing Ringo and Simba. No, there has been no injury in the pursuit of the cats. He is everywhere now. We are now in the mobile Jackson phase.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Houston, we have lift off...

So yeah, haven't blogged much in the past couple of weeks. School started this week and it's been superbusy...but my classes seem great this year. Would like a bit more participation from my Euro class...but my reg World History classes seem as well behaved as I ever seen. My AP Worlds also seem ready for some intellectual discourse. Better to be a maverick than a lemming.

The weekend before school started we headed down Houston way for my buddy Lance's wedding which was great...except for the part where us groomsmen walked into the sanctuary to the UT song "The Eyes of Texas." Nice suprise Ringnald.

Lake Jackson (the site of the wedding) is an hour south of Houston down in bayou hurricaneland...right off the gulf. We ran into the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin on the way down...nasty big drops. We were made nervous by all the hurricane warning signs flashing throughout Houston due to Hurricane Dean...which fortunately ran south toward Old Mexico. Unfortunately Lance had to change his Cancun honeymoon plans. Not sure yet where Hurricane Lance eventually landed.

Had a great time down there. The trees (palms and spanish moss) are surreal, the humidity thick and the mosquitoes as big as hummingbirds down in Clute/L.J.. Wish Lance and Sarah the best...despite the Longhorn cuff links.
photo: Ted (and picture of his two boys), me and a sleeping Jackson and Q and Jud at the Stallberg reception.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Grassy Knoll Theory

Diane (my mother-in-law) in all the years she's lived near Dallas had never been to the Sixth Floor Museum in the old Texas Book Depository Building. This is of course the place from where Oswald shot JFK. So we took her there on her birthday. The whole Dealy Plaza area is a bit spooky because so many people still come and discuss in whispered tones all the conspiracies that float around the Kennedy assassination. Over 40 years later and people are still debating these whacked out theories. Unfortunately the old Conspiracy Book Store across the street, which added to the weird aura of the place, lost their lease and went out of business a few years back.

Another weird note...the website of the Sixth Floor Museum runs a web cam from Oswald's vantage point. Bit gruesome to me. Worse yet, they (some enterprising capitalist, not the museum) used to have 1963 convertable limos you could take a ride in from the starting point of JFK's route to Parkland Hospital where he was pronounced dead. I haven't seen those limos the last few trips to Dealy Plaza...but they used to lurk right outside the Depository. Out of taste for sure...but this whole place is weird. And this time I parked the truck right behind the wooden picket fence on the grassy knoll where supposedly someone saw gun smoke and heard shots.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Seattle in Texas

This has been the rainiest summer in the ten years I have lived south of the Red River. But the Texas sun is back with a fury. Reached 100 degrees for the first time today (as opposed to last summer when we had already had 40 days above the century mark). Usually I begin watering my grass and foundation in late April. This year...I watered for the first time yesterday...August 8th. Wow. Our water bill has been fantastic this year. And I hear that TXU's profits are down 76% this quarter partly due to the cooler weather. I have to admit I'm not shedding many tears for little ole TXU.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Jackson on the Move

Jackson is getting closer and closer to crawling. He really wants to real bad. He gets on all fours and rocks...then lunges six inches or so. He gets frustrated because when he really wants to move forward he usually shoves himself backwards instead. Then gets mad. Moving seems very important to him so it reminded me of the quote by Jack Kerouac...

"We all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move."

So I better get in shape...soon there will be no more of this setting JDW down in the middle of the living room and running to the kitchen knowing he'll be in the same place when I get back. Soon he'll be performing the noble human function of moving...all over the place.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Interesting statistics from the Energy Information Administration...a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is expected to contain a mean average of 10.3 billion barrels of oil (compared to 246 billion barrels located in Saudi Arabia). That would, according to the U.S. Government, sustain the equivalent of two years of American oil current consumption rates.

If used at the same rate as the Prudhoe Bay Field the ANWR reserves would be virtually tapped out in 20 years. The U.S. Government predicts that over that twenty year time period Americans can expect to save $0.1 per gallon of gas during that time period.

The two major groups that would profit from oil drilling in ANWR would be the oil companies (which produced the largest profit margins in American business history last year) and the citizens of the state of Alaska (who are exempt from sales tax and received an $1100 dividend per taxpayer last year from oil receipts.).

If you don't trust me...find these figures out yourself by accessing the U.S. Government's own website and type in ANWR.

It begs the much is it really worth to the average American to drill for oil in ANWR? According to the U.S. penny per gallon of gas savings for twenty years for two years worth of American gas consumption.

Is the potential damage, no matter how small, to the coastal plain of Northern Alaska worth that amount of savings?

That's up to you to figure out.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Double Dave Dilemma

So tonight Kim, Jackson and I ate at the new Double Dave's Pizza in Forney with some friends of ours. Good pizza...but that was not the first topic of conversation. The topic that provided great enjoyment to my friends at my expense was the fact that I turned down free pizza for life and perhaps $1000 in cash for giving up my phone number to Double Dave's when they first came into town.

You see, a few months ago, Double Dave's made the offer because our phone number ends with the numbers that spell out DAVE. I didn't want to give it up because we have had that number for five years and I didn't want to have to contact everybody in my life to notify them of the change. Plus, I really like my phone number.

Well the pizza was pretty good tonight. So maybe I should have made the deal after all...unfortunately they had already found someone with the DAVE numbers who took the deal without hesitation.

But hey...I still have my phone number.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Teaching Conversation

This year I'm diving headfirst in teaching my European History class as a seminar course. Last year I waded into the shallow end and it went well. The seminar course is taught in a conversational way that requires students to actively participate in a classroom dialogue. My lectures have never really been one-sided anyway...I've always engaged the class in discussion. But now I'm going to dive in even deeper. It requires much more work on the student's part because they have to be ready and prepared for that day's discussion. They can't fake the reading and research. The teacher also has to work harder to be read up on the subject and have stimulii ready for potential lulls and red herrings. The teacher also has to know the subject backwards and forwards so they can be flexible enough to discuss the topic from whatever direction the disscussion heads.

My Euro class is much smaller than my world classes and usually features the best and brightest of our social science students. They can handle the seminar. If I had more room in my classroom I would buy an oval table and try out the Harkness Method seen in America's most prestigious prep schools. I am pumped and ready to get talking and getting students engaged in critical thinking.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My MySpace is No More

Well after four weeks I have terminated my MySpace account. I never used it once and e-mail worked just as well to stay in contact with my college pals. The lurid nature of the advertisements and phishing was distasteful to me. I don't judge anyone for making use of MySpace for positive reasons. It just wasn't my cup of tea. So this wary luddite in a 2.0 world has signed his analog self out of that particular corner of the digital universe. I leave it to all the Millenials who have never seen Star Wars and don't remember and wouldn't believe how the Kansas City Royals once ruled the American League.

photo: Me and the Blues Brothers at Chicago's Midway Airport in 2005. Many may not know that I was an unofficial member of the Blues Brothers from 1986 through 1989.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blowup in Big D

The big news in Dallas yesterday was a huge explosion of a truck carrying hundreds of gas canisters at an industrial plant adjacent to downtown. The explosion took place right next to the intersection of I-35 and I-30 (aka, the Mixmaster) across the freeway from Reunion Tower. Amazingly only three people were injured in the blast and there were no fatalities. Traffic was shut down on both of these major freeways all day which as you can imagine created massive gridlock for the downtown canyon. Fortunately I didn't have plans to be in the canyon yesterday and could only watch the tower of toxic smoke from a safe distance in Forney.

The explosion was quite impressive and even pre-empted daytime television. I was also impressed by the quick response of local advertisers to catch on to the spirit of the event...this was heard today on 100.3 Jack F.M....

"Are you tired of dodging flaming canisters of gas flying over I-35? Tired of driving through plumes of toxic smoke? Then be sure to turn into Jack F.M.'s new traffic reports every weekday from 4-7 pm!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tour de Disgrace

I used to follow the Tour de France every July. But now I couldn't care less. After Floyd Landis I really lost interest. Now I read today that tour leader and expected winner Michael Rasmussen was kicked out for evading drug testing. The tour has become a joke and it's really too bad. I used to really look up the physical and mental stamina of the tour athletes. Now they're all pretty much lying cheaters.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Good Times for MLS Soccer

With Beckham mania sweeping America I have to say this is a pretty good time for MLS soccer. The crowds are growing. Ownership is more stable than at any other time. There are more and more soccer only stadiums in the MLS. The ignorant and intolerant anti-soccer sports columnists are retiring and are being replaced with open-minded and educated soccer aficianadoes. Don't count out the power of sports journalists to help boost a sport's popularity with the masses. Soccer stories used to be relegated to the back they routinely get front page treatment even for stories other than Posh and Becks.

The NFL is reeling from player's trashy behavior (ala Vick and Pacman). MLB is reeling from steroid abuse. The NBA is reeling from gambling allegations. The NHL has become irrelevant after a season long lock out and television purgatory on a cable station no one has heard of (Versus? C'mon!). The MLS could very well gain a lot from all these messes.

Remember the generation that first caught soccer fire from Pele and the New York Cosmos (or for me, the NASL Tulsa Roughnecks) in the late 70's is now taking over the wheel both in the stands and in the pressbox. Generation X is taking over and that's a good thing for America in general and soccer in particular (also for the state of the American church...but that's for another blog.).

So I was very happy when I read today that MLS's leading scorer and Kansas City Wizard forward Eddie Johnson turned down a multi-million dollar offer from an English Premier team to stay in the states. Soccer is the future baby so jump on the pitch and start rollin' with the jugadors.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Scooter and Rich

I like to think I'm up on things...but I just recently found out that "Scooter" Libby was Marc Rich's attorney from 1985 to 2000 and fought for him to be pardoned by then President Clinton. I don't know about you...but I find that kinda weird. Don't know if there's any significance to that little fact...but it is kind of weird. Maybe ironic is a better word. Maybe those whacked out conspiracy theorists are right...maybe its BOTH dems and republicans behind the curtain in Oz.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Lion Lamb Fellowship

I'm excited about the direction the small devotional group I facilitate at Dallas Central Church of the Nazarene is going. We picked a name that we modifed from other sources...especially inspired by a sermon I heard at Bethany (OK) First Church of the Nazarene...The Lion Lamb Fellowship.

We seek to be a place where people of differing personalities, socio-economic backgrounds, education etc... can come together and worship the Lord without fear of judgement. We seek to be a hospital where those who are sick can come and seek healing through Christ. We believe in the primacy of scripture and that our main goal as emergent Nazarenes is to model the life of Christ everyday through our words and deeds. We believe in Christian humility and the power of the Holy Spirit to effect change in our lives and in the world. We believe in Lion personalities and Lamb personalities coming together without fear in love to worship Christ.

We want to serve others as Christ served others during his earthly ministry. We believe earthly and spiritual poverty can be eradicated. We believe Christ can end both spiritual and physical hunger. We believe that God doesn't look at your clothes but your heart on Sunday mornings. We believe we are called to be peacemakers. We believe we are stewards of the environment God created for us. We believe in the doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene yet believe Democrats and Republicans, Marxists and Captialists, all ethnicities, and even Sooners and Longhorns can come together and worship God freely in a fellowship of believers.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ode to the Blowhards

I met a lot of great people at this past Euro Conference and as I said, our presenter was fantastic. But by the end of the week you do begin to tire of the blowhards who have no self-awareness and always have to throw in their special knowledge. There was a guy recording everything into a cassette and I was really tempted to say inappropriate words just to make it onto his recording. Ah...but I didn't...but I did write a poem and a couple of Haikus to release my frustration. The moral...let others don't have to prove how smart you are all the time.

Ode To An AP Euro Conference

A Sonnet of 14 Stanzas from the point of view of an obnoxious know-it-all...

We are the smartest people in the world.
Monday through Friday our genius swirled.
Carson was always wrong and we were always right.
Except for those bums Ty, Telford and David White.
All were wise and oh so smart
Into that guy's cassette I want to say "FART!"
You better not stumble or make a mistake
Or I will expose you as an AP Euro fake.
During all breaks I must talk and monopolize Carson.
Don't get between me and Eddie or I'll commit arson.
OOPS! You said 1588 and clearly it was 1589.
Yes, I said that, that comment was MINE!
That marxist Carson must be smoking grass.
Next year I'm going to apply to teach his class.

Haiku to the Blowhards

Many Blowhards here
Must prove Carson wrong a lot
They are super smart.

Another Haiku to the Blowhards

Let me answer that!
I love the sound of my voice.
AND I'm always right!

Friday, July 20, 2007

AP European History Conference

Finished up a week long Advanced Placement European History Conference at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas today. Our presenter, Eddie Carson was excellent. He has a lot more patience than I do. Teachers can be some of the hardest students because in these settings there's always a few who want to impress and prove their knowledge. Plus they will call you on every mistake you make. But Eddie handles it with great skill and aplomb and we had a great week of intellectual discourse. I hope to run into Eddie the next time I'm down Houston way. I made some new contacts and ran into some old ones. And it's always good to talk with people with similar interests in your field of study.

My hour long commute each day went extremely accidents that caused major back-ups the whole week. Me and the Mini Cooper were freeway flyers. TCU was a great site and Perotti's Pizza was, as always, very good.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Weird America

The United States of America can be wonderfully weird. Last Tuesday we took the most direct route...albeit maybe not the fastest route from French Lick, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri. We didn't take the interstate. We stayed on U.S. and state highways. The main reason was that Tom who was convoying with us wanted to see the famous white squirrels of Olney, Illinois...smack dab in the center of southern Illinois nowhere near an interstate highway.

Now I had never heard of the famous white squirrels of Olney...but as we drove into town there were signs and banners proclaiming Olney as the home of the famous white squirrels. You can see them in two places...the city park and the city lake. We chose the park because it was closer. However, the squirrels were pretty much out of sight due to rain and the county fair which was going on in the park.

But we did not leave disappointed because we did find one white squirrel hiding up in a tree out of the rain. Never thought I'd ever be in Olney, Illinois walking around like an idiot staring into the trees looking for white (not albino!) squirrels next to an exhibit of pigs in the rain.

Only in America.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

World's Largest McDonalds

Just got back from vacation visiting family in Oklahoma and Indiana. On the way back we stopped at the world's largest McDonalds. This was one of my favorite stops as a kid. It's not quite as glistening as when it first was reopened as a Mickey D's several years ago. But it's still a nice stop on the highway. Located on I-44 near Vinita between Tulsa and Joplin. Jackson thought it pretty cool.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Your other left

Construction sign seen on northbound U.S. 75 at Spring Creek Parkway in Plano.

I guess you shouldn't pay attention to the arrows. TXDOT meant your other left.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A wary Luddite in a 2.0 world

I hate to admit this...I really do. I have a MySpace account. It is set on only friends can see it and my address is not publicized. I don't update it much and am embarassed to have it. But I have it because it's a super easy way for me and some of my college buddies to keep up with one another. I just wish MySpace wasn't the forum. It seems so lurid and depraved. There's nothing wrong with it if you use it the right way. But so many people out there use it in ways that seem kind of find women and plan Roman-style fandangos. But even some churches and Sunday school classes are setting up MySpace it can be a positive force.

My MySpace tagline is..."A wary Luddite in a 2.0 world OR An analog man in a digital universe."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Texas Flood

A friend of mine once told me he wanted to move to Seattle because he likes rain and had heard it rains a lot there. This year he wouldn't have to move that far to see a lot of rain.

Rained again caught in the Wal*Mart parking lot in a downpour. Our yard is turning into the type of wetlands greedy wealthy industrialists love to eradicate.

I've been in Texas now for almost ten years and haven't seen this type of deluge. I haven't set out my sprinklers once this entire year. Usually by April I've been sprinkling several times a week. I learned once I moved here that you have to keep the foundations and the ground next to your house from becoming too parched or cracks will destroy your foundation. The Texas clay cracks easily.

Last year we were under drought restrictions. This year it's monsoons. Must be global warming. We can blame everything on global warming...or Dubya. Appropriate year for the movie Evan Almighty and the story of Noah.

Anyway...stay dry, my fellow Texans and Oklahomans.
photo: frog (or toad) in the backyard wetland.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Renaissance or Medieval Faire?

I'm not usually one who goes for costumes...but a few weeks ago Kimberly and I attended a wedding of a friend of hers at Scarborough Faire. Scareborough Faire is a "renaissance" festival held every year for a month in Waxahachie, south of Dallas. As a history teacher I was interested in going to the fair...but not in costume. However, costumes were strongly encouraged for the wedding and Kimberly wouldn't relent.

So when we got there we stopped at a costume rental place and I immediately decided upon being a monk because the outfit looked similar to a Jedi Knight's gear. Plus it was raining walruses and clams and a monk's cloak provided great rain protection. The whole fair was one muddy mess...but we had fun. I was amazed how many people came in costume to the fair...not just to the wedding. Some people take this costuming pretty seriously.

I will say...and Kim says I'm splitting hairs here...the faire was actually more medieval than renaissance. And most of the renaissance stuff was of the northern variety rather than the more famous and influential Italian strain. Hey, what can I's my job to notice these things. But we had fun and hopefully the next time we go it will bit drier.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Books read in 2007

My students are often interested in what I'm reading (believe it or not!). We're halfway through 2007 and here's what I've finished reading so far...

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Tritessa by Jack Kerouac

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Collapse by Jared Diamond

Dining with the Devil by Os Guiness

1776 by David McCullough

Satori in Paris by Jack Kerouac

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Candide by Voltaire

I'm currently engaged in reading "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

All the above books are good but the ones that really stood out to me were "The Songlines," "Midnight's Children," "1776," "Black Swan Green," and "The Road." But I would recommend all these books. It's been a good year reading so far.
Jackson recommends "Fire Engines"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Entering the Fastlane may have noticed that I hadn't blogged in a month. The reason...our dial-up connection had become intolerably slow. As of today...we're now on DSL and internet life at home is much less frustrating. And we're actually saving money since we could cancel our DFW metro line and just get the cheap local service and rely on our cell phone. So I get high speed internet and save $30 a month. No brainer!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Summer is Nigh!

Whew...Four more school days until summer vacation! Kimberly and I have almost made it through what has to qualify as one of the craziest school years in memory.

Three days before my school year started my principal was "re-assigned" or fired basically...which you can imagine threw our campus into waves of uncertainty. By Christmas our district's superintendent retired out of disgust for petty school board power politics and a new principal wasn't hired until February.

Then Jackson made his wondrous arrival into our lives in January and changed everything wonderfully. Kim was off from Christmas to Spring Break. I was off for the first two weeks of the second semester. I missed more days this year than all the previous years of my teaching career combined. That of course raises the level of insanity when you return to the classroom.

We of course quickly, yet wearily, adjusted to four or five hours of sleep and something must have worked because for the first time in my teaching career 100% of my students passed the statewide TAKS test. Even 100% of my regular (I hate that description) students passed. Thirty-one of my thirty-nine A.P. students achieved commended scores. Maybe I should be absent from the classroom more often! I'm not quite sure I like the conclusions that can be drawn from that fact.

I started an AP European History class this year at KHS and it went very well. Having three preps (AP World History, Euro, and World History) really wasn't that bad. Kimberly had a fantastic second year as a school counselor. Jackson entered daycare in the same building Kimberly works and adjusted marvelously.

Still...we're exhausted and can't wait for this summer to start. Mine is basically here. I only have four half-days left and only six of my students are taking my final exam due to exemptions they received for passing TAKS. Only students currently failing my course have to take my I'm basically done.

It's been a crazy eighth and Kimberly's tenth! Crazy in some wondrous ways (Jackson's arrival) and tumultous ways (administration upheaval). I haven't even had much time to blog...maybe I can catch up during the lazy hazy days of summer vacation. What a great job teaching is!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jackson Update

The Jackson Update: Four Months on May 8th.

Jackson is surprising us in new ways every day. He now laughs out loud. He loves his baths and really loves to make big splashes with his feet. He is now grabbing anything that gets within reach. He's rolling over from his belly to his back...he's found that's the easiest way to get out of the dreaded tummy time. His head control is great. The last three nights in a row he has slept eight hours at a time...much to the relief of Mom and Dad.

The coolest thing however is that he now is kissing people on the cheek...not the usual baby slobbering mush...he is really puckering and kissing people on the cheek. He's only four months old and he's kissing people! He really likes the ladies...he flirts with the daycare women, the nurses at his doctor's office and the doctor herself. He is really doing great and we are loving him more and more each day.

We celebrated Kimberly's first Mother's Day today and Jackson is the greatest gift a mother could ask for (according to Kimberly).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ending poverty is a bad thing?!?

My policy on my blog is that I do not publish anonymous comments. I'm not asking for anything more than a first name and the city where you live. I want people to stand by their comments and not hide behind anonymity.

Anyway, I received a comment that really surprised me regarding my post about my microloan to a ceramics maker in Mexico. Among several ridiculous notions mentioned was that I should have loaned to someone in another country other than Mexico so my dollar "could go further." I guess we should base our charity on exchange rates now rather than on the human equations.

They also expressed a great concern that by empowering the lowest classes they would soon constitute a large lower middle class. They thought this would greatly upset the class system and create unknown chaos. They pointed out that the poverty rate around the world has remained stable at around 15% and that this was a good thing because it created a sense of stability.

I would post the actual comment but they hid their bizarre ideas behind the cloak of anonymity and I can actually see why. Why would anyone be in favor of people remaining in poverty? Not only is this notion callous, inhumane, immoral and classcist it is sheer evil. Poverty is an artificial creation. Bringing people out of poverty is not only humane but a moral peregotive we have as followers of Christ. To justify keeping people in poverty because of the unknown effects on the world economy if they were to improve their lot in life is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Microcredit Revolution

I first heard about microcredit when Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize this past year. I was captivated by his story and quickly read his book "Banker to the Poor." His concept to help alleviate world poverty is elegantly simple yet radically effective. Many suffering in poverty could work their way out of their horrible conditions with the help of a tiny loan...a loan that allows them to start a business or enhance an already existing business. The problem arises when they seek loans from their local third world bank or money lender which charge exhorbitant lending rates.

Microcredit allows an enterprising person to borrow a sum that is almost insignificant by first world standards with little or no percentage rates. They work with local NGO's to make sure worthy candidates are screened and enabled to pay the loan back in a timely manner. PBS and the New York Times a few months ago featured one of these microlending operations on Frontline: World. KIVA (meaning 'unity' in Swahili) allows people to loan as little as $25 to a recipient in a third world nation. Kiva also allows lenders to keep up with their loan recipient's progress. So far 100% of the loans have been repaid. recommends Kiva as one of the best microlenders to use.

I made my first loan today to a middle aged woman in Mexico who is trying to support her family through the sale of ceramics. You can check out her story at Even if I don't get my money back ($25) I'll just consider it a donation.

I went with someone in Mexico because people in Texas are always debating immigration. I believe in helping people where they are rather than just complaining about people moving here. If we can empower our neighbors they won't have to make the difficult decision to leave home in the first place. When she repays the loan...I'll reinvest in another loan. Besides, it's money I received for my birthday. This is a much more fulfilling way to spend my money. And it's not just a donation. Its money that's helping empower someone to help themselves lift themselves out of poverty and in turn make a positive difference in their community.

Check out They're safe and reputable and they're doing a wonderful thing. It doesn't take much to be an international micro-financier with great organizations like Kiva facilitating the process.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Stupid Media

I'll say this in as few words as possible and with no pictures.

Splashing his videos and manifestos all over the airwaves accomplishes exactly what the Virginia Tech killer wanted. Let's focus our attention, thoughts and prayers on the victims and survivors.

And let's focus our efforts on the prevention of possible future such tragedies.

Let's not glorify a crazed murderer any more than we already have.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What goes around...

I haven't read any mention of this...maybe it only interests me. I find the symmetry of Billy Gillispie beginning his head coaching career at UTEP and now ending at Kentucky fascinating. Remember, forty-one years ago, UTEP, then known by the much cooler name of Texas Western, beat the Kentucky Wildcats for the national title. The game was famous for an all black team defeating an all white Adolph Rupp team.And now the former UTEP coach heads to Lexington.

I also find it interesting that Bear Bryant left UK to coach at A&M...before ending up at Bama. Now an A&M coach is ditching College Station for the Bluegrass state. Maybe these little historical ironies are only fascinating to a trivial minded person like myself.

Monday, April 09, 2007

What to Expect from a Snake

I can understand why Kansas State fans are angry at Bob Huggins' departure after only one year in Manhattan. I feel for K-State...this is a school who won more Big Six/Seven/Eight titles than anyone else in their conference between World War II and 1990...more than even the hated Jayhawks. People forget that K-State was a basketball school long before Bill Snyder came around and turned the Little Apple into a football Mecca. But they fell into the abyss in the 1990's and got desperate for the good days. And desperate people make bad decisions. Hiring Huggins was a mistake before the ink dried on his contract.

And that's why the Wildcats cannot be too angry at Huggins. They should have known what they were getting when they brought that snake into town to resurrect the program. I've heard different variations of the old story but the story goes something like this...a turtle saves a snake's life by carrying it across a flooded river on it's back. Once on the other side the snake bites the turtle and the turtle asks "why did you just do that? I just saved you." And the snake responds, "what else did you expect. That's my nature...I'm a snake."

Kansas State should not be surprised today and they really shouldn't be angry. They should only be angry with themselves for bringing in the Riverboat con artist from Cincy in the first place. Huggins is a liar and a thief. He exploits people, using them for all their worth and then leaving them high and dry. Huggins' record was no secret. And now K-State in order to keep his ill-gotten recruiting class has hired one of his like-minded assistants as head coach...a man kicked out of the Florida High School Coach's Association for recruiting kids.

I hope things work out for the Wildcats. But as Dr. Phil says "past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior." I don't believe this will end pretty.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yoshimi in New York

Word is out that the Flaming Lips album 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' is being adapted as a Broadway musical. Aaron Sorkin, the creator of Sportsnight and The West Wing, will be the primary scriptwriter with several Tony winning producers crafting the musical adaptation.

Now that will be a show worth going to New York to see. Yoshimi has been one of my favorite albums since it came out. And props to the Oklahoma City based band for making the Great White Way.