Friday, September 30, 2016

End of an Amazing Run

It was bittersweet last night hearing the Royals had been eliminated from playing in the post-season. 

It's been an amazing run. Two World Series appearances and a World Championship. After years of futility it was thrilling to see the Royals make it back to the top of the baseball world. 

But I was a little sad because the Kansas City Royals helped serve as a nice distraction during a really hard time. My Dad was also a Royals fan. It was something we shared. He saw their run to the 2014 pennant. He passed away a month before they won the 2015 Championship. 

My son and I drove up to Kansas City to attend Game Two. The Royals won 7-1. It was the last home game of the season since KC would win the title on the road in New York. 

That was the trip of a lifetime. My son had never been to my hometown before. He saw my old house, school and got to tour my old church. He had KC BBQ for the first time at my Dad's favorite BBQ joint, Johnny's. My son saw his first game at Kauffman Stadium. And it was the World Series!

My Dad was in our thoughts the whole time. That trip helped begin the healing process during an extraordinarily rough time. Amazing how a dumb game can really bring healing to a hurting soul. 

Well, the Royals just had some bad luck this year. Injuries and one bad month. And they still almost made it back. Next year, they'll have the same core that won a series. They'll give it a good run. They will be back. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Historical Record

I have been holding back. I really don't like getting political on this blog. But this is a strange presidential election. And I want to go on record. I want the historical record clear on where I stood on the 2016 presidential election. I want there to be no doubt. In ten or twenty years, when my son asks me who I voted for, I will not be embarrassed by my vote.

There is no way I could ever in a million years ever vote for Donald Trump.

He is not a real Republican. He is not a true conservative. He is destroying the party of my Dad.

He is a racist, misogynist bigot.

He is a terrible businessman who has declared bankruptcy six times. More of his business ventures have failed than succeeded. He inherited $250 million from his father. He earned nothing on his own. If he had put that inheritance in a simple index fund he would be worth $12 billion today...without lifting a finger. But Forbes has placed his worth at $4 billion. And that is funny money. He's actually in great debt. He can't even pay his campaign staff. He is a horrible con artist of a businessman. He ruins lives. He doesn't pay his bills.

He has been married three times. He is a notorious philanderer and womanizer. All these things are well documented. He even proudly admits to his indiscretions.

His policies are ridiculous. A wall? He's going to make Mexico pay for it? That stupid idea alone should be enough disqualify him from office.

He is a hypocrite. Make America Great Again? Bring jobs back? I actually own two neckties and a dress shirt made with the Donald J. Trump label. The two ties were made in Vietnam. The shirt...China. 

He will soon be under indictment for bribery in Florida for trying to pay off Florida's Attorney General.

Why won't he release his tax returns? Because it will show how little he has given to charity and how little he is actually worth. It will also probably show his business dealings with Putin's Russia. 

He lies and lies. When confronted with his lies he double-downs on his lies. He has no shame. He just doesn't care.

He is the most prominent of the birthers, one of the dumbest conspiracy theories in history.

He became pro-life only a few years ago for political expediency.

I could go on and on and on. Any decent human being, especially those who call themselves Christian, should stand up against such a brazenly racist candidate.

I know you may not like Hillary. I'm not a huge fan either. I don't agree with much of her world view. Honestly, this is not an endorsement of Hillary. But the truth is, she is the most scrutinized woman in the history of the United States. The Republicans have paid the best lawyers and investigators in the world to find dirt on her...and they have found nothing of substance beyond mere conspiracy theories. They even had a special prosecutor who's sole job was to find dirt on the Clintons. Kenneth Starr and his full time staff could not find anything on Hillary, not regarding Whitewater or anything. They had to fall back on the President lying about marital infidelities in the White House.

The private email server scandal is a joke. Colin Powell used a private server. Condeleeza Rice had one. This is a manufactured scandal.

Benghazi? The House Republicans have held six hearings and sent out dozens of investigators to find dirt. And they have found nothing. Nothing! A waste of taxpayer money.

The fact is, after twenty years and millions spent in trying to find skeletons, nothing substantial has been found. She may be shady...but she is no shadier than any other major political figure in Washington. She would not be my first choice. But I'm not going to waste my vote on a third-party candidate like I did with Ralph Nader, who I respect immensely.

The stakes are too high. Hillary may be an imperfect candidate, who is perfect? But she will be competent in the job. She has the respect of world leaders. She has the respect of anyone who has worked closely with her, Republicans and Democrats.

The stakes are too high. Trump is the worst political candidate my generation has ever seen.

I am sickened by how evangelical Christians have rallied to Trump. Listen, as a Christian you may not like Hillary. I get it. But to endorse Trump? Your conscience will have to answer for that.

 I know this post is harsher than most found on my blog. But I will not remain silent during such an important moment. I simply wanted to go on record. We may have to agree to disagree. This post is not meant to sway you or change your mind. This post is about me. It's about me wanting to be clear where I stand. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


An ode to my NASA mug...

NASA mug, oh NASA mug.
You are mug amazing. 
Although made in China,
You represent America. American
hopes and dreams of a future fantastic. 

When I drink of thee I pretend I'm 
an engineer building rocket-ships to
the stars even though I had to take college algebra twice and still use my fingers to count. 

When holding thee I feel like a controller at Mission Control 
or a specialist at the Jet Propulsion Lab. For just an instant. 

For then my green tea is finished and 
I am teaching history again. But NASA 
mug, for just a moment...a brief shining moment, I was among the exploding stars and nebulae. 

Thank you NASA mug. 

Monday, September 19, 2016


Yesterday the Little Man served as an acolyte in church for the first time. 

I love the tradition of acolytes in the Methodist Church. I wasn't aware of the tradition, growing up as I did in a less liturgical tradition. 

Two candles are lit by kids at the beginning of the service to represent the presence of Christ in the service. There are two lights to remind that Jesus was both God and man. 

At the end of the service the acolyte recaptures the light with their candlelighter and then follows the pastor out of the sanctuary to represent the light of Christ going out into the world where believers are called to serve. 

Symbols are powerful. I feel an added poignancy to the service with the entrance and exit of the acolytes. I feel a sense of the spiritual mystery of Christ's divinity and as a Christian mystic this tradition appeals to me greatly. 

Jackson did a great job on very short notice! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

New Cans

Last week I finally ponied up for some nice headphones. I wanted a nice high-end pair but I didn't want to go too crazy on price. The same cans kept popping up in all the tech and audiophile sites...the 
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. MSRP is around $200 but Amazon had them for less than $150. For years I had read that suckers by Beats, audiophiles buy the AT's. The Audio-Technicas had a reputation for much better sound quality than Beats but for a lot lower price. Beats, all the sites repeated, sold based on hype and marketing. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x were the phones you found in studios used by professionals. 

So after casually browsing reviews for a couple of years and seeing the AT's mentioned time and time again I decided to take the plunge. And I was nervous. I know there are $600 sets out there but $150 is still a good-sized investment for me. 

But my gosh, they deliver. They are the real deal. UPS had them on my porch last Saturday. I carefully opened them. I first decided to listen to Blue Train by John Coltrane on my current pair of $75 Sonys which I had been using for several years. Then I plugged in the Audio-Technicas. 


I mean WOW. 

The hype was real. The bass is powerful but not dominating. I heard riffs I had never heard before in a song I've heard a million times. These headphones are designed to play the music as intended by the artist. They don't add unnecessary mixing. Nothing is obscured by mix-happy sound engineers. You get the music as it was meant to be heard. Or as close as possible. 

I always thought my Sony noise cancellation headphones were decent. They are dozens times better than ear buds. But they sounded hollow and cheap in comparison to the AT's. I couldn't believe the difference. With the AT's I felt as if I was standing in the middle of Coltrane's quintet as they were playing. 

So I tried out different genres and styles. I listened to Beethoven and Radiohead. I gave Weezer and the Beatles a spin. I listened to Thievery Corporation and M Ward. I switched between my old Sonys and the AT's and was continuously astounded by the brilliance of the sound in my new Audio-Technicas. 

It was almost like hearing music for the first time. I am not exaggerating. Well, maybe a tiny bit. But they are unbelievably great. 

The new ATH-M50x's feature three detachable cords (two straight and one curly) of varying lengths. I don't plan on using these a whole lot on the go. They are big but comfortable. I will mostly use them at home and maybe for long trips on a plane or car. For everyday trips to Walmart or wherever I will still use my measly Apple earbuds. They also come with an adapter to plug into your home system and a nice leather bag. 

So I don't care whether or not the new iPhones have headphones jacks or not. These new headphones will make the phone adapter worth it.