Monday, December 17, 2007

The Virgin Birth ...

I had a thought as I drove to work this morning.

… that happens every once in awhile, but it’s usually only one thought because it’s a real short distance from my driveway to the office – just over two blocks.

As biblical scholars continue to study and pore over manuscripts and bits and pieces of ancient documents, comparing them to those already known and in existence, they continue to develop new theories, thought and pictures of Jesus and the Bible.

One such developing theory surrounds the question of whether or not Jesus was truly born of a virgin. Some scholars are saying that the original Greek word used to describe Mary in Isaiah as well as the gospels simply means a “good, virtuous woman” or something along those lines. Therefore the conclusion they draw, although they have no real evidence to back this up, is that Jesus therefore was not born of a virgin and that this “miracle” occurred within natural law. However, it is still outside the confines of Mary’s marriage to Joseph.

Fine … say what you want to say. Will it destroy my faith if Jesus was not born of a virgin? Not really. I don’t think Jesus' identitity and what He did and accomplished is based on whether or not His mother was a virgin.

However, the thought that hit me driving to work this morning is this: If Jesus were not born of a virgin wouldn’t that in essence mean that God condoned an act of sinful nature and used it as His vehicle by which He delivered the message and means to save all mankind?

The 10 commandments came about long before the birth of Jesus and commandment seven clearly states “you shall not commit adultery.” I may be wrong, but isn’t sex outside of marriage considered adultery? Don’t both the Old and New Testaments teach that sex is meant for the confines of marriage? If this is so, why would God, who is intent on His followers trying to live a life free from sin, use an act of sin as His vehicle for the salvation of mankind? Would this not give credence to those who say that having sex whenever and wherever they want is OK because God condoned the act of Mary?

Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. And I would especially like to hear Little David’s thought on the matter since he holds a master of divinity (or should I say divination) degree and a Ph.D. from theological seminary. And Little David, if your answer is too long for the comment box, please feel free to email me and I will post it as post in and of itself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I scuffed myself

I rearranged my office today.

Stole a desk from another office.

Got everything neatly organizaed and in its place.

Suddenly remembered why I've spent the last five years using a desk with no middle drawer. ... It's a short world

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Here's lookin' at you

Well, our little city, in the words of one local businessman, has “finally repealed prohibition” and ushered in a new era of sin and debauchery. An era in which the sin and debauchery is legal as opposed to the illegal sin and debauchery that we are currently experiencing. Tuesday’s election in our town included a referendum for the package sale of alcohol. It’s been a big deal in this town and pretty much caused a split right down the middle. The referendum passed by a mere 36 votes with an additional 57 provisional ballots yet to be approved and counted.

What does this all mean?

The proponents say it will bring new business, increased opportunity and convenience to our town.

The opponents say it will bring new business, increased opportunity and convenience to our town.

With a split like that can you believe that both sides actually say they are doing what’s best for the youth of our town?

Crazy, isn’t it?

Personally, I voted against it. I’m just fundamentally opposed to supporting any type of business that has the potential to destroy and ruin lives that are already in pretty poor shape to begin with if people are turning to alcohol for the answers. Does this mean I am completely against drinking and think that everyone who imbibes is in the express lane to Hell? No. If you want to drink a glass of wine with your dinner or have a beer after work that is completely up to you. I have no problem with that. I don’t do it because I know it would be wrong for me to take part in such activities but I’m not going to condemn other people for such an act. Many people will be responsible with their consumption of alcohol and it will never cause them a problem. But many more won’t. What I do have a problem with are the irresponsible people who don’t know when to stop. Therefore, I don’t want to support any business or organization that feeds their habit, making the procurement of alcohol easier and more convenient.

I think, however, the opposition to the amendment failed to win any additional support once they took the stance that, “We are doing this to protect our youth.” The group officially named themselves The Coalition to Protect the Youth. I felt at that moment that all money spent to fight the movement would be money lost because, in my humble opinion, once you exploit anyone or anything for personal gain, you are doomed to fail. But what do I know? I’ve just worked in newspaper and public relations for the last 12 years. I don’t really have a feel for how people publicly react to certain situations. Of course, no one asked my opinion. They seldom do and even more seldom do they listen to my opinion when I offer it, so I basically have learned keep my mouth shut … sort of.

One side said we have to protect our youth from the evils of alcohol. The other said we must increase tax revenue in order to provide them with more opportunity in our small town. Alas, silly me, I thought we should have left the youth out of it since they are neither old enough to vote nor drink. Perhaps it would have been more effective to ask people to “Vote No” simply on principle. Once you start throwing out statistics, everything you say can and will be rebutted by your opposition.

But it’s too late now. So I sit here in my office on our college campus, listening to the supporters clink their champagne flutes in celebration of their victory and the impending wealth that alcohol will inevitably bring to our community. With their hope and vision and promise for the future completely laid out and tied into the completely reputable alcohol industry I fully expect our enrollment to double within the next three years.

Monday, November 05, 2007

... Any Other Name ...

This is yet another entry in the “What’s In a Name” category, but many times the name is all you need to see the humor in a situation. Around here, we have one particular name that stands out above all the rest.

Our school has a long and storied history when it comes to women’s basketball. We were at the forefront of bringing women’s basketball to mainstream America. It was our team that played the Russians, traveled to Mexico City for international tournaments and our coach pushed to change the rules of the women’s game to a full-court, 5-on-5 contest. Granted, we haven’t done much in the last 20 years, but with everyone else, including major state universities, picking up the women’s game, it has been a little difficult for our small, private school on the dusty plains of Texas to compete in the recruiting game. Our team has had only three losing seasons in its history. Unfortunately, two of those have been the last two seasons.

Still, our women’s program holds the collegiate record for the longest win streak (131 consecutive games) and our program has more wins (1,425 including Saturday’s season opener) than any women’s collegiate basketball program at any level. That’s more wins than Tennessee, University of Connecticut, Duke, North Carolina or any of the teams mentioned among the best in women’s basketball. The only potential drawback, however, is that the team is named the Flying Queens.

Yes, it’s an easy nickname to make fun of and it has been on several national lists as one of the worst nicknames in college sports. But there is a good reason for the name. In the late 1940s, the team was sponsored by the Harvest Queen Mill which still operates in our fair city. With their sponsorship, the school decided to name the team the Harvest Queens. This sponsorship was key as the team began to build to its historic status. A few years later, a local businessman, Claude Hutcherson, began flying the team to all its games in his fleet of Beechcraft Bonanza airplanes. Thanks to his sponsorship, the team became famous world-wide, and the name was changed to the Flying Queens.

However, it’s the latest team sponsorship that has given me cause to chuckle. It’s not a major sponsorship. This group isn’t shelling out thousands of dollars to have their name on the team warm-ups, but it is enough of a sponsorship to pay for schedule posters and things like that. And in so doing, the sponsorship name appears on the posters. It may not be a big deal to many people, but its not every day your athletics team is sponsored by Kornerstone Funeral Directors. …

Friday, October 26, 2007

Note to PR flacks

When writing a script for your university president to be used while recording a video segment for the upcoming capital campaign and describing the campaign's focus, one should stay away from the phrase ... "growing our endowment."

Monday, October 22, 2007

No more taxes

I went from no fortune in the fortune cookie to this ... I'm starting to worry.


How will I die?
Your Result: You will be murdered.
 

This doesn't guarantee pain and suffering, but it will be at the hands of another. Perhaps the vile deeds of a past life will attribute to this horrific demise. Do not fear murder. There is a rare epiphany that comes from this type of death. You will see it in the last moments.

You will die while having sex.
 
You will die while saving someone's life.
 
You will die in a nuclear holocaust.
 
You will die in your sleep.
 
You will die in a car accident.
 
You will die of boredom.
 
You will die from a terminal illness.
 
How will I die?
Create a Quiz

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fortunes

Went to lunch ...
Ate Chinese ...
My fortune cookie had no fortune ...
I'm a little disturbed by that!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Four Things

I was tagged by Rach to do this. So, here goes:

Four jobs I’ve held (other than my current position).
Grocery store flunky (Same as Rach)
Radio personality
Music minister
Sports editor

Four films I could watch over and over.
Pale Rider
Star Wars trilogy (original)
The Incredibles
The Dream Team

Four TV shows I watch.
Flip this House
Sportscenter
Seinfeld
My Name is Earl

Four places I’ve lived.
Whitehall, Montana
Roby, Texas
Antlers, Oklahoma
Hobbs, New Mexico

Four favorite foods.
Fried okra
Corn bread
Chicken fried steak
Egg rolls

Four Web sites I visit Daily.
www.wbu.edu (I kind of have to)
various blogs
That’s about it, really. I don’t do much Web surfing

Four favorite colors.
Dark Blue
Dark Green
Sage green or mint color
Grey

Four places I would love to be right now.
Golf course
Scotland
Ireland
Living in the White House

Four names you love but could/would not use for your children.
Maximus
Briana
Jupiter Moon
Wrigley

Now I guess I have to tag a few people so I choose: SmilyMama, Splineguy, Janie, and Patti

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What the ...

I saw an interesting sign the other day.

I was in Andrews, helping out with the parents and decided I wanted a Dr. Pepper. I went to the local convenience store and as I walked in I saw a big sign on the door featuring the convenience store’s logo and a picture of a guy in a shirt and tie with his head literally buried in a pile of paper work.

The wording on the sign said “Need a better job? Apply with us.”

Where, in the name of all creation, do you have to be working in order to consider a job at a convenience store as a step up?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Formidable Sense of Doom is Closing in

Help!!! My baby is growing up!!!

I’ve told several expectant fathers over the last few years that your worldview completely changes when you have a daughter. I don’t know what it’s like when you have a boy because we only have one child. It popped out as a girl and has stayed that way ever since.

Young men growing up in the world are expected have a certain lack of sensibilities when dealing with members of the opposite sex. There’s the locker room humor, and the … well … things never really get past the locker room humor stage. Let’s face it, guys are fairly one dimensional and are happy living in that one dimension. But once you have a daughter, all those jokes suddenly aren’t so funny anymore. After all, someday some stupid, ignorant, jerk is going to be saying those things about your daughter. Wouldn’t you like to get hold of him some evening in a dark alley with some super glue and a roll of duct tape?

It’s not that all guys are bad … then again, maybe it is. After all, I have female acquaintances in their college years whom I’ve told will never find a guy that is good enough for them. How do you think I will feel about my own daughter?

As I was sitting on the couch Saturday evening, the brilliant 7-year-old blonde walked up beside me.

“Da-da,” she said, because that is what she calls me. “I have a crush on Corbin.”

The little man inside my head reacted immediately, ripping at handfuls of hair while running madly around the room and planting himself face first into the padded walls, only to get up and commence screaming and running around the room again, and again, and again …

“Oh really?” I said in a calm, cool voice. “Why do you have a crush on Corbin?”

“He’s soooo cuuuute!”

My left eye began to twitch.

… as it turns out, she is not in the same second-grade class as Corbin, which is a good thing, but she has resorted to stealing his shoe at recess. … This is serious.

Her Pa-Pa and I are at a loss. After all, how do you sufficiently put the fear of God into a second grader in terms that he will understand for the next 20 years? I guess we could shave all the fuzz off his teddy bear, then hold it over his head just out of reach until he crumples into a huddled mass of hysteria. Or we could just take away his cookies at lunch.

… I’ll have to think on that one for a while.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Questions for scotte

Sorry that I’ve been away for a bit. Things have been quite busy around here. But scotte asked for some interview questions, so here we go:

1. I see through your profile and your blog that you live and work in the Oil Patch. In your informed opinion, are we paying too much at the pump?

2. Are we in danger of using up all of our natural resources, and should we put more of an emphasis on alternative fuels?

3. In your dealings in the field, have you ever run across Dewaine White who sales for Key Energy out of Midland?

4. What is your religious background and do you have any current feelings toward organized religion?

5. Who is going to win the Super Bowl this year, and why?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Interview Questions

I picked these up over at Paul's place. I've had them for about a week (or longer) and I'm just now getting around to answering them. These are five questions Paul asked of me.

1. Just imagine. You’ve won a prize and you can select one of these free options: a) a parachute jump, b) a hot air balloon flight, c) a guided deep sea dive. Tell us about your choice...
Probably a guided deep sea dive. As much as I’m afraid of drowning, I would feel more comfortable and in control of my situation knowing that there was a guide and that I had equipment that would keep me safe. I don’t like flying, and heights tend to make me a little uneasy, so the hot air balloon is out. Furthermore, to jump out of a plane for no apparent reason is just insane.

2. What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you? Please expand on it.
I don’t really know. I’ve never been one to bookmark certain times in my life. I guess, although this is not very profound, the one thing I remember was a college professor telling us as students that when looking for a job, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. You don’t expect that coming from a college professor, but he said if you know someone who can help you get a certain job, then use them. As things stand, with the exception of my first job out of college, every job I have held since then has come through connections I have made throughout my life.

3. Please comment on this statement: ‘Atheists are living in denial.’
I think in order to truly deny something exists, you have to at least question its existence first. Therefore, my answer is kind of wishy-washy. I think some atheists/agnostics truly don’t think there is a God. In my opinion these people would be fairly indifferent to any conversation concerning the matter, and just blow it off as the mindless ramblings of the confused. Others, however, just claim to be atheists/agnostics in order to accommodate their personal agendas. In my opinion they would be more adamant and abrasive in defense of their position, and would strive to prove their point at all cost.

4. Is there a material thing that you’ve lost and really want to retrieve / repossess? If so, tell us about it. If you can’t think of anything, please tell us what material thing you would like to lose or which annoying habit you would like to get rid of.
I don’t really lose too many things. I’m rather anal about making sure things that could be easily lost, especially those that are important to me, are returned to their proper places. As far as something I would like to lose … my wife has a little decorative, blue, glass purse that she likes to have sitting out. I think it is ugly, breakable and doesn’t go with any of our other d├ęcor.

5. What is your personal dream and what is stopping you from realizing it?
My personal dream is to write a book. The only thing stopping me is me. I just refuse to sit down and get started. I keep telling myself I don’t have any ideas that are good enough, or I won’t know what to do with it when I finish it, so why bother. Those are pretty lame excuses, really.
I also want to build a castle, or at least travel to Scotland and Ireland and visit all of theirs.

As per my part in this interview process, I agreed to send five interview questions to anyone else who might be interested. Just do the following:
1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is it Ironic?

In my morning Bible reading today, I ran across a verse that instantly became one of my favorites, Proverbs 10:13 -- "Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding. " (NKJ) or "Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgement." (NIV)

A few hours later as I attended a reception for a U.S. Senator, in my attempt to shoot pictures over the crowd I and my camera strap promptly swatted the back of the head of a former Texas Speaker of the House. Irony?

(I will point out, however, that I like the former speaker and think he did a good job.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I had nothing better to do

Click to view my Personality Profile page

No surprises here. Of course, I have the same personality type as two of my fictional heroes: Bruce Wayne and Darth Vader.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What do we do now?

We officially wrap up our softball season tonight with our season-ending pizza party. We will hand out certificates and medals and a few goodies from the university at which I work. … It’s never too early to start recruiting.

Our season ended last week amidst controversy. The tournament, originally scheduled as a double-elimination tournament, dropped to single elimination after thunderstorms disrupted things for two nights. However, certain people made a stink and needless to say, the girls in the various leagues got a good taste of poor sportsmanship from their parents who taught them how to act like complete idiots within the confines of a public forum.

That’s a whole other soap box that I want dive into right now, but you should realize that once the police get involved, things have gone too far.

Our girls, who managed only four wins during the regular season, somehow won two of our three tournament games, losing the championship by only one run. We were quite proud of them. They really improved throughout the year.

I must admit that I am kind of sad to see them go. Not because of the softball, but because some of them need something positive in their life. They have problems that could be solved or at least dealt with properly if they had the right role models and support structure in place. But our pathetic social norms don't give them the opportunities they need to succeed.

One of our girls, Pinky, has a problem with ADD. I generally don’t buy into the ADD myth. I think it is an excuse and copout for parents who don’t want to deal with their children. Occasionally, however, you will find a child with a legitimate problem. This was the case with Pinky. You could see her fight it and knew that there were other forces at work when she was off her medication.

At our final game, this girl’s mother and older brother were there. I think she wants nothing more in this world than to impress her brother. She has said several things throughout the course of the season that makes me think this. It’s obvious that these children come from broken homes and when he is around, she wants him to accept her and be impressed by what she has accomplished.

That did not help the situation.

Each time Pinky stepped into bat, you could tell she was struggling with the voices in her head. The ADD was taking control. Her brother was telling her that she had to hit the ball. The opposing players were yelling at her unmercifully, trying to get her to swing at bad pitches … and she obliged. She tried not to. You could see her try to hold her bat, but when everyone yelled “swing” she would.

It became too much to handle in her final at bat. Pinky swung at a bad pitch and then turned, rubbing her forehead with a pained look on her face.

“Are you alright?” I asked her. She assured me that she was so I barked a few words of encouragement to her, and then she stepped back in. Another bad pitch … another bad swing … and she stepped out again.

It was too much.

“Are you OK?” I asked again.

Pinky burst into tears.

I knelt beside her as she cried. The game was waiting for her and all the parents and players were staring. Fortunately the umpire gave me a little extra time. I tried to comfort her, but what can you say.

“I’m trying …” she sobbed … “but … everybody … is … yelling at me … and I … just can’t stop…”

This little, 8-year-old girl was battling not only the demons of ADD, but personal demons as well. What happens to kids like her? What role do we play in her development? Where does she go from here?

I asked someone who has been coaching kids longer than I have what she does in situations like this. Her reply was that all you can do is pray for them, support them and be a good role model for them when you are around them. She coaches basketball and said there have been times when she has kept kids with her between tournament games because she knew if they went with their parents, all they would hear was griping and yelling about how bad they played or what they need to do differently.

What are we teaching these kids? Why are parents so stupid? We treat them like trash then wonder why they are trash when they grow up.

Another girl on our team is a brilliant child. She is very smart and analyzes everything. She makes contingency plans for how we should handle on-field situations should they arise. She is a cute kid with a bright smile. But she comes from a broken family and she is starved for affirmation from a strong male role model.

I don’t know her family and don’t know the dynamics of her situation. But I do know that she craves positive attention from me or the other coach. When standing in a group talking, she will always stand as closely as she can to one of us and just wait for us to put our hand on her shoulder or pat her on the back and tell her she is doing a good job. She’ll hang around after the game and help us clean up just to hear us say, “Thank you.”

She has so much going for her but you wonder if she will throw it all away by getting mixed up with the wrong people and doing things she shouldn’t do just to feel accepted by some boy.

What’s going to happen to her? Will she become a productive member of society or just another statistic?

I asked my friend if we were allowed to shoot the parents.

… she didn’t answer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Keeping up with cable TV

My back hurts.

It’s not a bad hurt, just kind of a dull ache that will eventually stretch itself out. It’s the kind of hurt that comes along after a few hours of strenuous exercise in a manner of which one is not accustomed.

In other words, I had an eventful weekend.

You see, the wife and child were out of town this weekend and I needed something to occupy my time. A lot of guys with a free weekend will stock up on their beverage of choice and call all their buddies. Not me! No, sir! First of all I’m not an overly social animal, so I don’t have a lot of buddies that I would openly invite to my house. Secondly, I would rather do something moderately constructive or destructive as the case may be. So when I have a free weekend, I don’t take out the beverages, I take out the carpet.

And now my back hurts.

The ambitious idea behind the project was spawned by any number of home improvement shows which fill the airwaves on cable television. In every show you always hear the “home improvers” talk about putting in hardwood floors which increase the sales value of the house. Therefore, it stands to reason, that if my house has hardwood floors, its value will rise as well. I figured that out all by myself.

My house was built in the 1950s when ever structure was pier and beam and the only decent flooring material was wood. However, over the years, everybody wanted to cover up the wood with carpet. The carpet that was in my house was not original by any means, but I’m betting it had been there for a good 20 years. Some brilliant architect had even decided that putting ceramic tile on top of the wood in the entry way was a good idea.

Do you have any idea how much sand paper it takes to grind your way through a quarter-inch tile? … Me either. I would suggest taking the tile up before you start sanding. However, working your way through the adhesive material underneath the tile is quite a taxing experience. My wood in that area is still a little green, but I'm hoping a nice, dark stain will hide the other discoloration.

Needless to say, it took a day or so to prep the floor for sanding. I had to remove the carpet and padding, take up all the carpet tack strips lining the edges of the rooms, then remove all the staples that were used to hold the padding in place. I had to take out the tile and chisel out as much of the underlying material as I could without damaging the wood. I had roughly 550 square feet to cover once the floor sander was ready to go. I started sanding at about 9 o’clock in the morning and didn’t finish until around 3 p.m. And God forbid that any type of power equipment be built to fit people that are more than 6 feet tall. Spending six hours in a slight stoop is not easy.

Thus … my back hurts. But I now have really cool hardwood floors. I just need to find the time to stain and polyurethane them. That ought to kill a few more brain cells.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just Another Office Outing

I could be wrong, but I’ve always felt that it’s important to remain fully clothed when on public display. Especially when they public involves your mother’s co-workers.

Every summer for the last four years, our small development department has run off for a few days to hold a work retreat at which time we brain storm and plan for the upcoming year. Our group is kind of in charge of raising money for the university, so if any of you feel to urge to make a charitable donation to a small faith-based institution, please let me know.

The first few years, we went to a small town where we stayed at a hunting lodge and ate at the only eating establishment in town, a small restaurant named “Crackers.” For the last two years, however, we have headed off to Ruidoso, N.M., for a few days in the mountains. This is a welcomed change from the lodge that encourages hunters to clean their game outdoors, not in the bathtub, but it still provides some interesting moments.

This year, the retreat provided an enlightened study of human nature and social customs of adolescent females. Our supervisor brought her youngest daughter with her for the weekend and the daughter brought a friend along. Both girls are 14 years old. We quickly discovered that the way to make two 14-year-old girls completely shut up is forced social interaction with a group of people over the age of 30. They probably didn’t say more than 2 words to any particular person the entire weekend. I’m not sure they even talked to each other. Combined, the two girls had all the personality of a fence post.

It didn’t help matters that our supervisor was stricken with altitude sickness upon reaching Ruidoso and did not get out of bed for three days. She was in no situation to supervise the youngsters.

I’m not sure how these two girls function among their peers, but among us, they sat motionless, watching movies on the cabin’s DVD player. They occasionally played a game of cards, but we never heard them so much as speak to each other. We could hear the TV and the shuffle of the cards, but nary a peep from the chicks. Occasionally someone would make a direct comment to them which was met only with a mono-syllabic response.

Yet, while these girls were so appalled to be around us, they didn’t mind one bit walking around, or sitting around the cabin in their bikinis. Yes, that’s right, their tiny little, two-piece swim wear. They were too uncomfortable to utter a sound, but comfortable enough to display their udders. I found this moderately disturbing.

First of all, when I was 14-years-old, I don’t remember girls having boobs. Of course, they may have had them but were more discrete and just didn’t go around showing them off to all creation.

Apparently things have changed in the last 20 years, and certain female attributes are making their appearance earlier in the life cycle. While one of them, the supervisor’s daughter, is on her way to a “mature” body, she still needs a little more time to grow. She at least had the decency to occasionally wrap a towel around her as she moved around the cabin. The other one, however, is fairly developed and she knows it and she doesn’t mind showing it off to a bunch of people she doesn’t even know. I’m just glad the president of our university, who was there for some of our meetings, wasn’t around during the times that the youngsters were disrobed.

During these moments, I remember thinking to myself, if my daughter, who is now 7, ever does something like that when she is 14, she is going to have one very irritated father.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking good. There is nothing wrong with dressing in a way that makes you look good, as long as it is done tastefully. But at some point a person must stop and realize, “Gee, I should probably wear some clothes.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Five things I dig about Jesus

I was tagged by Patti, so here's five of what could be a long list.

1. He was a rebel without being “rebellious.”
2. He was a man without being “human.”
3. He loved while being hated.
4. He was a poet.
5. He is awesome!

Now to explain myself.
1. Jesus was a rebel. He bucked the system and fought the establishment. But He did it without the intent to harm, tear down or destroy. He was here to teach, inspire and save.

2. Jesus was wholly human and wholly divine. Yet in his humanity, he didn’t fall into the traps that so easily ensnare the rest of us.

3. I would say the ability to love your enemies is the most Godly thing any of us can strive to achieve. It ain’t easy, yet He did it unconditionally.

4. No one can turn a phrase like Jesus. His words and teaching are filled with multiple meanings and are so powerful. There is a poster that hangs in my office that quotes John 8:58, “I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was, I am.”

5. As you read through your New Testament, look at all the instances where mortal men simply would have folded and tried to shrink away into the background. John chapter 18 tells about the betrayal of Jesus and how Judas led the Roman soldiers to Jesus. When they first saw Jesus, they didn’t know they were talking to, but when Jesus “revealed” himself to them, they “drew back and fell to the ground.” Jesus was in control of every situation and his presence was awe inspiring. These men had come to take Jesus by force, but when they saw Him, they knew immediately who He was.


I am also supposed to "tag" five people, but I think everyone I know has already been tagged. Except maybe Spookyrach. So, you're it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dealings in the Dugout

It was the bottom of the third and we were down by one run. I’d like to say it was the bottom of the ninth, but this is youth-league softball and we only get to play a certain time limit and time was quickly running out.

We were sitting at 0-2 in the young season and desperately in search of a win to boost our confidence. It had been a closely contested game with both teams questioning calls and umpire’s interpretations of the rules. I, of course, am totally opposed to youth-league coaches and parents getting too involved and too competitive, but I am just an assistant coach on one team and can’t control the actions of others. I am also very competitive and like to make sure the correct calls are made and that our girls have every opportunity to win.

After our first two games it was painfully obvious that our girls could not hit the ball. Every time a pitch came near the plate, they were ducking for cover. If one of them decided to actually swing the bat, she was generally looking out at left field instead of watching the ball. It’s very difficult to make contact when you can’t even see what you are swinging at.

Needless to say, we spent the better part of two hours the day before the game working on nothing but hitting the ball. And it paid off.

Trailing by a run our team needed to score more runs in that half inning than we had scored total in the previous two games. It was a daunting task for our young warriors, but we had managed so far to keep the team's morale and energy level high and they seemed to be having a good time.

“We just need a couple of hits,” I told them before getting ready for the inning. “If we get a couple of hits, we win the game.”

“But what if we don’t hit it?” asked our intellectual child.

“That’s fine,” I replied. “A walk is as good as a hit.”

“But what if we don’t get on base?” she asked again.

It’s tough arguing with a 10-year-old. Especially one who is probably as smart as anyone on the field but still one comment away from a complete emotional breakdown. Not having time to get into a deep philosophical discussion about the probabilities of another 10-year-old throwing three out of seven pitches over the plate in the strike zone while facing the pressure of winning or losing the game with screaming parents and noisy coaches yelling throughout the entire process, I simply said the first thing that came to mind.

“You’re going to hit the ball because I’m the coach and you have to do what I tell you.”

Yup … that’s good coaching.

While it may not have been logical, it seemed to satisfy the youngsters who promptly went out and loaded the bases with only one out. The next batter, a girl who may not get a hit all season, was hit by a pitch. She was awarded first base, driving in the tying run and bringing up one of our heavier hitters. With the game on the line, this girl drilled a double to right field, eventually scoring two runs after some indecision on the base paths, to win the game.

We are now 1-2 and ready to make our run. Our next game is against the league’s best pitcher, but we know if you can ever rattle her, she will fall apart. We know this becuase last year she started crying on the mound when she hit a stretch where she couldn't throw a strike.

... Not that we would intentionally make a young girl cry ...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Coaching We Shall Go

It’s that time of year again … youth softball season. Once again, I let my brother-in-law rope me into helping him with an 8-10 year-old team. This is our second shot at this coaching gig. We did fairly well for being first-timers last season, but this season may be a little different.

I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is something different about this group. I want to say we have better fielders and a stronger defense all around, but our offense is seriously lacking. This could be a problem as we played great defense in our first game, but still lost 4-1.

Things will definitely be interesting, however, as we have a very eclectic group of young ladies. Our most boisterous player is experiencing softball for the first time and couldn’t understand why a runner is not allowed to run from second base to first base when the ball is hit. Throw in the fact that she just turned 10 years old but stands only 3-foot-2 and refers to me as Coach Paddie, which only vaguely resembles my real name, and there we have one of our more interesting players. And she really is only about 3-foot-2. My 7-year-old daughter is taller than she is.

Then we have our intellectual. She will be one of my favorites on the team because she analyzes everything. When she makes a mistake in the field, she can tell you exactly what that mistake was down to the minute detail and outlines a contingency plan for approaching the situation the next time it occurs. Then she stands in the field and corrects her teammates’ grammar as they yell at each other or opposing players … not simple stuff, but obscure grammatical rules that most high school students don’t understand. Of course, she is still a girl and gets emotional when things continually don’t go as she has planned.

We also have a pink child who reminds me somewhat of my daughter, except that she is in serious need of ADD medication. She will be a decent player in the field (can’t swing a bat, although she brings her personal pink bat with her to practice and the games), if we can just get her to focus long enough to … “look at the pretty butterflies!” I call her “Pinky” all the time, but I don’t think she knows why. Everything she has is pink. Our uniforms are navy blue, but she has pink cleats, pink wristbands, a pink bat and pink batter’s helmet.

Then, of course, there is the obligatory youngster who is in need of physical activity more than the rest of the team, yet doesn’t move during practice. This could explain the growing need for physical activity. She doesn’t take instruction well and doesn’t understand the need to actually act like she is a part of the team. When she is through with batting practice, she wants to go home and can’t figure out why we make her stay. She has a lazy attitude to go with her lazy metabolism which adds up to one thing – a youngster who the coaches try to hide in right field where nothing ever happens.

And like every team, we have the one girl who is just the nicest kid and tries hard to do everything you ask her to do, but “bless her heart,” she just doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body. (Have I ever explained that you are allowed to say anything about anybody as long as you preface it with “bless her heart?”). The poor girl is just slow … and weak … and scared of the ball … and she can’t catch … or throw ... or hit … but she is a nice kid and never gives us any problems.

Needless to say, our season should be quite interesting. Maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to put the right pieces in the right places and squeak out a win or two.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Adding to the clan

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I invested in a toy, mainly for me. You read about it a couple of posts ago – Shaggy/Mater, the family truck. Mater’s been good to us so far. He’s taken me where I needed to go and has hauled some light stuff that I just didn’t want to fit in the back of the Jeep. I’ve learned how to properly wake him up in the morning to make sure we can get out of the driveway without incident. If you wake him up too quickly, he tends to be cantankerous and shows it by shutting down in the middle of the intersection near the house. You’ve got to wake him up gingerly and scratch him behind the ears for a few minutes, then he’ll be ready to go for the rest of the day.

The only problem is that Mater is a gas hog. As you well know, gas prices have skyrocketed and hit an all-time high. This doesn’t mix well with a vehicle that tops out at 11 miles per gallon on the highway. I, of course, had to buy a truck that has the biggest engine Ford was putting in its commercial vehicles at the time. Fuel conservation apparently wasn’t such a big thing in 1986.

Suffice it to say, Mater is a good vehicle and we don’t plan on getting rid of him any time soon. We will still drive Mater quite a bit and use him to haul things around, but in an effort to do my part to conserve fuel and finances, meet ….. “Lightning.”

Lightning is a simple, stripped down, nothing fancy two-wheeled mode of transportation with a 1 human-power engine. Lightning goes 0-to-60 only in a 60-mile per hour wind on a downhill grade. Lightning probably tops out around 20 miles per hour, but averages closer to 10. Fuel economy, however, is unbeatable.

Of course, with the style of bicycle, I feel like I should be tooling around leisurely on a cobblestone path in a small European village. The handlebars are high enough that I can sit up straight and it is a simple, single-speed machine on a lightweight, aluminum frame. No frills. If I was still single and trying to pick up chicks, I wouldn’t be caught dead on a bicycle like this. But … I don’t have to impress anybody, so I’ll just hop on my silent hog and ride.

Not only is it fuel efficient, but it is good exercise and can be moderately therapeutic. I highly recommend it. Lightning and I made our first trip to the office together today where co-workers marveled at the shiny new vehicle parked in the breakroom. They kicked the wide, white-walled tires, buffed the paint and admired the ergonomically designed seat.

Yup, Lightning made quite and impression. It's safe to say he and I will be spending a lot of time together over the next few months as we traipse back and forth from home to work, to the post office, the store and maybe even out to eat every once in awhile.

Mater's a little jealous because Lightning actually gets to stay in the garage, but he'll get over it. Afterall, he knows that this is what's best for all of us involved. Mater will get to exercise his muscles on occasion and Lightning will become a valuable member of the family. Afterall, a little exercise might do me some good as well.

See you on the bike path.

... And with the wind at your back, may all your rides be downhill.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Other Duties as Assigned

We’ve all been there … reading the job description for a position we have applied for, or perusing our contracts from year-to-year before we sign them. Within these documents, there is always a list of job duties that one must perform, and at the end of every list there is always the disclaimer “other duties as assigned.”

What does that mean? Are we occasionally supposed to bring a cup of coffee to our vice president? Are we supposed to help students with their homework? Are we supposed to vacuum our own offices after the Christmas party that got a little out of hand – you just can’t trust a bunch of Baptist with free will and a rum cake.

Today it meant that I got to play gardener. Not just go-out-and-pull-some-weeds-and-water-the-flowers gardener, but instead, go-out-and-trim-a-tree gardener.

There’s really no point to this story. But that is what I did this morning because I really have nothing else to work on. But, the tree is trimmed and I can now walk under it without having to duck.

So there …

Monday, May 07, 2007

Deleting post

Deleted the previous post. There are some people around who read my stuff and I don't want to get in trouble or cause any undue tention among people I know.

Monday, April 09, 2007

To ask, or not to ask

I should have known better than to question how to perform a sonogram on a horse.

Obviously it's not something you talk about every day. In fact, I don't think I have ever talked about it. I have definitely never seen someone perform a sonogram on a horse. I didn’t know how it was done and I was obviously talking to someone who did, so before I knew it, I was uncomfortably ensconced in a full-blown conversation about horse breeding.

A young student stopped by my office earlier today. She is a student worker for an office that works closely with ours, so she spends quite a bit of time in our building working on various projects. We all know her as the girl from Arizona who rode her horse to school.

She didn’t literally ride it, but as a high school student, she was looking for a small university where she might be able to board her horse so she could continue to train it and ride it. She looked at several other school nearer to her hometown, but they didn’t have any way for her to bring her horse with her. When she contacted our admissions office, somebody knew somebody who trains and breeds (apparently) horses in the area. They put her in contact with this family and the family agreed to let her board her horse at their place in exchange for some afternoon help with their other horses. It was a good deal for her and a good deal for us because she is basically a good kid and is fun to pick on.

Knowing, however, that she spends much of her spare time with horses, I always like to ask how her horse is doing. Apparently it’s breeding season in the world of horses. They just birthed a colt at the old stables and are expecting another one any day. She had pictures of the new critter of which she is quite proud. Then she told me that later in the afternoon she was going to have to perform a sonogram on a mare. This is where I made the mistake.

“That must be interesting,” I said.

“Yea,” she answered, “but it's kind of gross because the glove only goes up to here.” She pointed to her shoulder.

Now, I’ve watched enough television and heard enough stories to know that there are times when a human must stick their arm up an animal’s rear end to accomplish certain necessary functions. I was not aware that sonograms were such a function.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “How do you do a sonogram on a horse?”

And there it was -- the simple question that led to a discussion about horses and their mating habits.

Did you know that horses in captivity are artificially inseminated because they “go crazy” and are so rough that they could actually kill each other? Horses in the wild can apparently handle it, although there might be significant bruising.

She proceeded to tell me that she would much rather be the one who sticks her arm up the female as opposed to the one who has to deal with the male. At which point I just stared at here because I couldn’t quite imagine what that would entail. I mean, do they usher the male horse to a private room and give him a dirty magazine?

I didn’t really ask because I was moderately uncomfortable at this point, but she proceeded to tell me about the male horse and the dummy and how she would much rather work on the female than be the one on the other side of the dummy with the bag.

“With the bag?” I should have kept my mouth shut but the question was out before I could stop myself.

“Well, somebody has to catch it.”

Yeah … that’s what I thought, too. I’ll admit, however, that while the conversation was a bit disturbing, it was also enlightening in that I didn’t really know that much about breeding horses.

I pointed out to the young lady that she would have to forgive me if I failed shake her hand any time in the near future. To which she replied that shaking hands wasn’t so bad … “You should be the one who has to eat with them.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Time to Play

I got a new toy.

This was a completely unnecessary purchase on the part of my wife and I. I didn't really need a new toy, but living life as a male in West Texas meant that something was seriously lacking if I didn't own a truck.

I had a small truck a few years ago, but we outgrew Lao Che (the Isuzu) and traded it in for a more family friendly Jeep Liberty. Since then, the urge to own a truck has been ever present. This weekend we ran across a pretty good deal.


Meet, Shaggy! Shaggy is a 1986 Ford F150 XLT Supercab with a V8 and only 56,000 original miles (as verified by a mechanic who said there was no way this engine has 100,000 miles on it.) I bought it from a co-worker, who bought it from the original owner. For nearly 20 years this truck was just driven to work and back.
As with most of us over time, there are a few cosmetic issues that need to be ironed out. I had the motors for the electric windows replaced yesterday, and if you'll look closely at the windshield, you will see a piece of duct tape holding the bracket for the new rear view mirror in place. (Have I ever mentioned that you can do anything with duct tape?)

Shaggy didn't officially get named until Monday afternoon. We had the truck for three days and I thought we were going to call him Mater, a name which my daughter really liked, but after sleeping on it, the offspring decided we would be better off naming the newest family member Shaggy. Afterall, our other vehicles are named The Mystery Machine and Scooby. So ... Shaggy it is.
And now I can truly say that I am living the American Dream -- three automobiles in the garage and only two licensed drivers. What more could a guy ask for?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Random Thoughts

I sat in the doctor's office yesterday. Nothin' major, just a routine check up so he can tell me that I still have diabetes and that my cholesterol is still too high ... for someone with diabetes that is. Normal people would love to have my cholesterol level, but I guess I'm abnormal.

As I sat in the waiting room, I pulled out my textbook to catch up on some reading for my class later that day. I had to chuckle to myself. Unfortunately, I was all alone in the waiting room, but I was wondering how much fun it would be to sit in the waiting room of a doctor's office, reading a text book about death and dying and spouting off statistics to some poor old lady sitting beside you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Pink Room

I’m a guy.

That’s never really been in question. I enjoy backyard barbecues, playing sports and napping through Sunday afternoon golf tournaments. I take care of the lawn, pay the bills, do minor house repairs. I watch ESPN as I’m getting ready for work every morning. I enjoy action flicks and watching things blow up. … just guy stuff …

I’m secure in my manhood, so it doesn’t bother me to drive a minivan or let my daughter dress me up like a princess. But this weekend I did something that I’m not sure I would have considered doing in years past … I painted my daughter’s room.

This was no ordinary painting project. About five years ago, when my daughter was 2, we moved into this house. It’s a simple, good sized, two-bedroom facility. In our master bedroom, we have two closets, a king size bed, two bed-side tables, two full chests of drawers, a bookshelf, sofa, treadmill and a fireplace. And we still have plenty of room to maneuver. My daughter’s room isn’t much smaller.

The color schemes in our house are rather interesting. Our bedroom has grayish paneled walls with hunter green carpet. It doesn’t really match the beige carpet that is in the living area and small hallway leading to our bedroom. My daughter’s room has the same paneling, but it was painted an off-white color. On the floor, however, was break-out-the-shades electric blue carpet. When we first looked at the house, we walked into this room and my daughter immediately began running in circles and calling it the blue room.

We have always wanted to renovate her room, but we waited several years for her to get past the drawing-on-the-walls stage of life. She did a pretty good job of marking up her room. We didn’t say much, because as long as she wasn’t writing on the other walls in the house, we were happy. We knew we would be painting her room at some point. That point was last Saturday.

As always happens when I begin a project, it tends to grow exponentially and become a true beast. Not only did I end up painting the room, but we decided to pull out the electric blue carpet and re-finish the original hardwood that was underneath. Let me tell you right now that polyurethane is a mad-dog killer. A friend of mine once said in college that chemicals only kill the weak brain cells. I’m sure I lost a large portion of atrophied cells as well as some that I was using on a regular basis. My poor cats didn’t have much to work with in the first place, but survived the fumes fairly well after moderate freak-outs.

Once the floor was finished, it was time to paint. I know what you’re asking, ‘Why didn’t you paint before you did the floors?’ That was my original plan, but as I said before these projects tend to grow exponentially. As it turned out, in order to avoid paying a full weekend rental for the floor sander, I had to get it finished and returned on Friday. Therefore, the painting was pushed back to Saturday.

The true test of masculinity came in the form of painting. Being a father, I tend to spoil my child and give in to her wishes in matters that I don’t deem overly important in the greater scheme of life, such as which fast-food restaurant to eat at, which children's movie to rent and so on. This non argument centered around color. Her choice of color … pink!

Not just pink, but by-gosh, hide-the-women-and-children pink! Pink on steroids! A cotton candy machine with delusions of grandeur, trying to take over the world. Pink! Pink! Pink! With, of course, tasteful purple curtains selected to match her new butterfly themed pink and purple bedding. All-in-all, a $60 painting project turned into a $400 remodeling weekend. … And the room is now pink!

When the lights are off and just a little ambient light filters through the purple haze splashed across the windows, the room comes to life with an unearthly pinkish glow that escapes through the gaps below the doors. The unholy hue reaches out its tethered paw in an attempt to spread its aura to whatever comes within reach. The filtered pink and purple light against the dark wood floors has an almost black light affect on our solid white cat. He becomes a odd yellowish tinted fur ball that is just short of an ethereal glow. It's weird.

But while pink is not my first color of choice … in fact it is nowhere on my pallet … my daughter is happy and she is no longer sleeping on the couch in our room. Last night we returned to our normal bedtime routine of reading her a story (or two), having “mommy time,” saying a prayer then clicking off her pink bedside lamp and tucking her in while Billy Idol sings her to sleep.

… and all is well.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hoops Chapter Two

We are now three games into our intramural basketball season and us old guys are standing near the top of the heap. Last week we played two games in three days. Thank God we have had eight days to recover before tonight’s game.

Last week, we played the team that is favored to win the whole thing … and they might because there is a good chance most of us aren’t going to be able to perform at the top of our ability once the “playoffs” roll around. As for this night, however, we were victorious.

The game didn’t start until 10 p.m., well past the bedtime for most of us older fellows, and our young opponents had a definite game plan: They were going to run us and be physical. We, of course, were macho enough to try to keep up with them, regardless of our own personal wellbeing. Fortunately, we have two former collegiate All-Americans on our team.

Finally, in the second half as the teams were trading buckets, I yelled from my position on the sidelines that we should slow it down and put our big fella in the paint. We put the other All-American on the wing and let them play a two-man game. It worked. The rest of us played defense and rebounded while these two carried the offensive load.

But when it was all said and done, the other team failed to recognize our secret weapon: the theatre technical director. Trailing by a point with 11 seconds left, we brought the ball up the floor. Somehow the ball got loose and the technical director scooped it up and dropped in what we like to call a jump hook (although I’m using the term loosely) for the win. It was a huge victory for the ‘old guys.’

With the game over, we stood around looking at each other and comparing wounds: bruised knee, swollen knee, hyper-extended knee, bruised and bloodied ankle, and a complete inability to comfortably walk up the flight stairs in order to get out of the building. But other than that we were all good. The technical director was happy. His wife was at the game and he said he would probably get lucky after hitting the winning shot. Needless to say, he was the first one out of the gym. I just hope his knees aren’t too weak to play tonight.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hoops Chapter One

There we were, seven valiant warriors. The task laid out before us was daunting, but we faced it like men. Grown men. Unfortunately, that was the problem … we were grown men and standing in our way were kids. There must have been 20 of them …and they must have all been 6-foot-5, 230 pounds … big Germans … yeah, that’s it … the superior race, Arians … and they were snarling.

As we stood across the way, sizing up our opponents, realization came crashing down. This was it. It was time. Time for, intramural basketball.

Time is a funny thing. It is the ultimate life lesson in give-and-take. While time gives you experience, wisdom and hopefully a bigger bank account than you had when you were young, it takes from you your … well … youth. Gone are the days of competitive basketball when the coach would yell at the team to get the ball inside and you knew that meant it was coming to you. Gone are the days when you would annoy, hound and harass your opponent into making mistakes and capitalizing with easy scores. Gone are the days when shear energy and quickness could propel you past any opponent no matter their size or ability. Gone are the days when you could run circles around the other team and never get tired.

… Completely gone!

Yet, together, our small band forged on. We were shorthanded as four of our team members had other obligations. Yet we met our challenge. We proudly wore our badges as “The Over the Hill Gang.” Fortunately three of our teammates were still in their mid to late 20s and able to carry the load as far as superior conditioning is concerned. One member is right at 30 years old, a barrier that the rest of us had eclipsed by several years.

It was brutal. It was bloody. Three minutes in, some of us were screaming for oxygen. But we kept going. After all, what else could we do? We had signed up for this inhumane torture of our own free will. There was no turning back now.

It’s funny how I didn’t remember basketball being a physical game. I remembered the easy baskets. The 20-point, 10-rebound nights. I remembered lay-ups, jump shots, tipped balls and quick, decisive rebounds. I remembered picking and rolling and seeing nothing in your way when you were lucky enough to get the ball. I remembered posting up and going around bigger players or shooting over smaller ones.

But when those assets that once made you a fearsome competitor are gone, reality quickly settles in. It all came screaming back after taking that first solid shoulder in the paint … the bruises, the sore muscles, being shoved, hit and even picked up and slung around by a bigger player because it was the only chance he had at stopping you. I remember the three pair of sports goggled shattered and broken throughout the seasons and the blood streaming down your cheeks and soaking a jersey during a playoff game.

Yet as time ran out, we were still standing. I sat against the cold gymnasium wall resting an ice bag on my upper lip. The bleeding had finally stopped. As we took off our jersey smocks and changed our shoes, I looked at our small group. No, we did not win the game, losing by a narrow, 3-point margin, but what we won was of greater value. We proved that we could do it. We were still standing. We may be breathing hard, but we were still breathing.

Unlike our competitors, we will go home and take some pain medicine. We will flex our joints so they don’t get too stiff. We will try to get comfortable enough to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before getting up and going to work the next day. Our younger competitors don’t understand that just yet, but they will one day. And we, as grown men, will take our place in society. We will continue to work and uphold our responsibilities to our employers and our families. We will be cordial and professional to all those who walk through our office doors. We will hide our wounds and rest our sore muscles … and we’ll be back!

Oh yes! We'll be back!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Random thoughts

1. How can a state believe in capital punishment, but not spanking?

2. Does anyone besides me absolutely love those new "un pimp your auto" Volkswagon commercials? They make me want to be a fair-skinned, light-haired, blue-eyed, non-rapper who talks with a funny accent. Oh ... I guess I already have four of those criteria covered and people who aren't from around here might already think that I talk with a funny accent. I guess those commercials were made for people just like me.

3. Did y'all know that I can now ocassionally beat Little David in ping pong? I'm so proud.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Committee on Committees

I have been described as many things: crotchety, old, cantankerous, cranky, and that is just from my sister. Of course, I think she is just jealous because I spend my days hanging out with 18-22 year olds and am in essence way cooler and more up-to-date than she is. She, after all, hangs out with people who are one urine test away from the big house. I will admit, however, that I am not the type who enjoys social events. A friend of mine, who is very much a social animal, says that when he talks to his wife about going to an event, the first thing she asks is if there will be other people there. That’s kind of the way I feel. I’m much more comfortable in small groups where I feel in control of the situations.

So how did I end up on the “hospitality committee” at work? Another “friend” of mine decided it would be moderately humorous to nominate me for the committee. I know that in a job situation like this, we are all expected to serve on various committees, many of which never meet or do anything, but I’m not exactly known as the best party planner for social events. My standard phrase is, ‘I don’t like dealing with people,’ which explains perfectly how I ended up with a career in public relations.

It’s not that I don’t like the other people on the committee. They are all nice people and I get along with them very well, but I just don’t feel that party planning is one of my strengths.

However, as I sat through a meeting of the committee on Monday, I began to wonder how certain things would get done if I hadn’t been there. I went to the meeting expecting it to be a short affair concerning decorating for our winter employee banquet which was only five days away. That is how the meeting started as we sat around discussing things like tool, chargers and votives. I’m still not sure what a votive is or if I even spelled it correctly, but I was shocked when I discovered they were not talking about hardware.

It was during this course of discussion about decorations when someone broached the question: What are we doing for entertainment? Need I remind you we were only five short days from showtime. The reply to the question was even more interesting: Well, I was thinking we could ask Amy, one of our students, to sing.

Now, I am not a party planner, but I do work on deadlines and I understand the need to give people an appropriate amount of time to plan and prepare. This was apparently lost on all but one other member of the committee. We were meeting five days before the event and no one had planned the entertainment.

As we sat there, the group began making grand plans for how Amy could do this or do that at which point I, being the only person in the group who actually knows Amy, said, “Wait a minute. You can’t count on anything yet. This is extremely short notice and Amy might have other plans.”

The concept seemed lost and suddenly I realized why it makes me so angry when people ask me to produce and eight-page table piece and have it printed and ready to go by next Tuesday – they just don’t get it.

As it turns out Amy is free on Saturday. She is a gracious young lady and said she would be glad to perform and she will do a wonderful job. I won’t get to see or hear it, however, as I have somehow managed to double-book myself and I just can’t seem to get away to enjoy the social event of the year. Aww Shucks
!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned discipline? My wife is a school teacher in the public school system. It’s little more than a glorified day care and we wonder why our education system is in such a mess. Teachers really have little control over what goes on in the classroom. Unruly students and litigious parents drive the policy making. There’s just no such thing as good, old-fashioned discipline -- unless, of course, you happen to be a coach at a private institution of higher education where you are free to discipline your charges as you feel led.

Our women’s basketball team has been up and down this year which is a vast improvement over the constant state of 'down' to which these young women aspired last season. They are very talented, but at times seem to lack the drive and focus it takes to be competitive. I would say they have more raw talent than most of the teams in our conference, but have yet to actually believe in themselves.

Last Saturday, as an arctic ice storm blanketed our area of West Texas, our young ladies played the No. 2 ranked team in the nation. After falling behind by 18 points at the half, our team fought back and controlled the second half. We lost by six, but the second-half performance was one to remember and hopefully build on.

So how does our team respond to their strong performance? By showing up late for practice on Monday. Not all of them were late, just three. But when you only have eight players to begin with, that is a significant percentage of the team. As a result, the coach wasn’t in a good mood and decided to take it out on his players.

Each week, I make a point to stop by practice and watch for a little bit before interviewing our coaches in order to prepare a special PR related newspaper page for the local media. This day was no different, other than the fact that the coach had something special planned.

I arrived at practice just in time to hear him outline his discipline program, and it was not pretty. To get a better understanding of what the team was required to do, you need to understand our gymnasium. The court is a sunken court, so in essence our gymnasium has two levels with the majority of the seating on the upper level. Seating is on either side of the court and the gymnasium has the capacity to seat 3,000 people.

In his little exercise the coach required the players to sprint up to the second level, around a corner, then sprint up to the top of the upper level seating area. They would then walk across to the next isle, walk down the steps, sprint to the next isle, sprint up the steps, walk over to the next isle, walk down, then sprint all the way to the other end where they entered the seating area, sprint down the steps and run a lap around the court where they would stop and do 20 pushups. They were then required to repeat the process on the other side of the floor, this time doing 20 crunches upon completing the lap around the floor.

… And that was one circuit. The players who arrived on time had to complete five circuits. The players who were late … 27, one for each minute. I sat with the coach and watched as his team began the drill. About 30 minutes into it, the player who finished first, a great young lady with an excellent attitude and work ethic, you’ve met her before, finally completed her five circuits. As they ran, the coach sat there and contemplated the rest of the day. His original plan was to practice from 1-2:30 and give the players a chance to rest their legs after the weekend’s tough games. His new plan was a little more intense. The girls ran from 1-3 p.m., then had to return at 6 p.m. for practice. And after practice, “they are going to run some more,” he said.

While I sat there contemplating mortality and how a drill like this would easily send me to my grave several times over, I realized that the chances of any player showing up late for practice again were exceedingly slim. And if one were looking for a way to adjust someone’s behavioral patterns, this would probably do the trick.

It's a shame you can't do this to ignorant fourth-graders ... or better yet to the parents of ignorant fourth graders. After all, isn't adjusting someone's attitude what punishment is all about?