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 page...now 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 participate...you 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 well...no 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.