Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Underwater Fun

May I offer a thought?

I learned several years ago that schools for Down children are starting to take children with other syndromes since Down is becoming so rare. Now that tests can tell so early in pregnancy that a baby has Down, fewer people are choosing to have them.

My heart breaks when I think about what our lives would be like without our friend Molly.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Coming to the Aid of a Friend

Within the past hour, I have been asked to come to the aid of my college chum Julie. There is a serious crisis affecting her home, a trauma so severe it borders on the cataclysmic. The future peace and harmony of the Bogart family is in jeopardy.

And so, my considerable experience as an amateur family therapist has, once again, been summoned to the rescue of this fine Midwestern family. I also have experience as an amateur sushi chef, but more on that another time.

However, in this instance, my gut tells me that the drama in the Bogart family is far more serious than just family therapy.

Julie and Jon, I am quite concerned what you may have in your home is a demonic possession of Jacob's saxophone, and, more likely, his entire high school band. Pictured above is another unfortunate manifestation of this type of poltergeist. This is not the USC band, but is, in fact, the Smithfield Elementary School of Ottumwa, Iowa in 1997, shortly before the band was exercised of their demonic possession by a trained professional clergy person at the local shopping mall. This event has now become known as "The Iowa Redemption".

There is only way to solve this situation. Tough love, holy water, and heavy construction equipment. May I recommend the Hubbard Construction company for the necessary equipment. Pictured at left is the result of the "band instrument exorcism process".

Julie, I know this may be painful, but there is no other way. Bill Bright would agree. God help you.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

We Are All Connected

Arggg...Bible Fight!

Remember those felt board Bible stories in Kindergarten? Several summers ago, my wife and I taught Sunday School together. It was a blast, we had great group of kids.

Every Sunday, without fail, we would unload the plastic bag full of felt board Bible characters, and reenact Biblical history, right there in the classroom. Animals of all sorts, villagers, wise men, the Prophets - all floppying and felt covered. I wanted to add some realism, like bringing in the wet fire control standpipe hose into the classroom, and turn it on to relive the Great Flood. No luck. Fire code and safety violation. Darn rules, darn LAFD!

I have now found, through the unsolicited assistance of a pastor friend, who will remain
nameless, a great new teaching tool for kiddos.

Bible Fight, baby. Check it out. It rocks. Now all your favorite Bible characters can duke it out. Ever wonder if Moses could kick Satan's booty? Try this game and find out.
Before your eyes, I have just revolutionized elementary Sunday School everywhere. My modesty is only exceeded by my humility. That is all for now..

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Loosing the Bonds of Earth

Several weeks ago, British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking experienced a long sought-after freedom. Freedom from the wheelchair that has bound him for so many years. Freedom from the complete inability to move. Floating, free.

Mr. Hawking had long waited for the chance to float free with
Zero G -a commercial weightless flight company. The cost of a normal flight is $3,500, but this flight actually raised $144,000 for charity.

Mr. Hawking, who is arguably one of the greatest scientific minds of the century, is constricted by
ALS to a wheelchair, and is unable to communicate without the use of a computer.

After the flight, Mr. Hawking said, through his computer translator, "The zero G part was wonderful, and the high-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on. Space, here I come!"

I am not sure why this event seems so wonderful and poetic to me. I feel joy and frustration mixed together. Joy of watching a man, so long confined, finally able, if only for a moment, to loose the binds of earth and float free, unfettered. Frustration, in knowing that it will only last for a moment, and soon, Mr. Hawking must return to his still life in a wheelchair. And, I remember my friend Frank.

Why is life like this for this great man? Why is this man, with this amazing mind that has studied and helped to define the cosmos, so held back, so restricted here on earth? I have no idea.

But watching him loose the bonds of gravity is wonderful.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vodka, Hookers, and Grace

Julie Riggs is one of the people in this photo. I have no idea which one, and it really does not make any difference.

What does make a difference is what this college senior is choosing to do when she is not preparing to graduate from the University of Georgia.

Read about it here. Oh, and read about the Vodka, at the end.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Beautiful and Obscene

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the birthday party of a dear friend, who is turning a significant age marker, which will remain classified. Ok, its 50. A good man, indeed, someone I have known and loved for many years.

The party was held at the home of friends in Corona Del Mar, close to the beach, a lovely setting indeed.

But across the street was
this. The Portabello Estate, on the bluffs. For Sale. Yours for only $75 million dollars. Eight bedrooms, 10.5 baths. Bowling alley. Private theater. Pool complete with tube slide. 2,000 square foot master suite. In total, 20,000 square feet.

We walked down to the tide pools with the kids right beside this house. After viewing the web site of this amazing home, I feel two things:

First, attraction. I mean, what a totally cool pad. Imagine the barbecue parties we could throw at this place. Imagine the youth group meetings. Think of all the people we could house at this place. The perfect entertainment house. Beautiful. Stunning. Not a bad pad, man.

The next feeling is one of repulsion. This is American excess at its apex. Too much, too many, too flashy, too expensive. And in a way, this house is obscene. Vulgar. Excessive. Greedy. Self absorbed.

Beauty and obscenity, all in one place.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bruins Make History

First National Championship - 1950

May 13, 2007 - UCLA Women's Water Polo won the 100th UCLA National Championship. Thirty of those championships were by women.

The most accomplished athletic program in the history of the NCAA. Bar non.

Jackie Robinson, John Wooden, Rafer Johnson, Dwight Stones, Evelyn Ashford, Florence Griffith Joyner, Bill Walton, Kareem, Anne Meyers, Karrie Strug, Lisa Fernandez....the list goes on, and on, and on.

Go Bruins!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Late Night Reflection

One night last week I awoke at 3:00 AM sharp. I have no idea why. I usually sleep through the night with little interruption; a Divine gift to my simple and naive soul, perhaps.

Our family had enjoyed Mexican food the evening before, and lying there in the dark, I realized I was thirsty. After thinking about getting up and heading downstairs for a drink for maybe five minutes, I got up and headed to the fridge, quiet and night all around me.

I am not sure why, but I sat down with my glass of water in the living room by the front window. The house was darkened, it was completely still outside. Only the street lights illuminating the street on this moonless night. All the hurry and rush and static of everyday life was gone. It was if time had frozen, as if this hurried life I lead had, for a moment, been put on hold. Still green trees out the window, soft street lights, and only the sound of my own breathing.

And then, there was another sound. Breathing, but not my own. The soft, rhythmic breathing of Heather, our 13 year old, in the bedroom close to the living room. Deep in REM sleep, lost in a dream place likely far from this quiet night time living room. And then, another soft sound. The soft rolling-over-rustling of her sister, Kelly, now 16, in the bedroom down the hall.

Albert Einstein once said, "A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

May I love well those nearest to me, and create a life that widens its circle of compassion.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Internet Friend

If you look a couple posts down, you will see that I have a new occasional reader of my blog. Greg Lang is an author who lives in Georgia who writes about the amazing bonds between, and importance of, Dads and Daughters. Anyone who has chosen a life of writing for this cause is, in my mind, a good guy!

Greg joins a significant list of regular readers of this blog, which include a genius home schooler, a USC sycophant, a dentist, a pastor who is the descendant of Italian immigrants and loves to make lattes, and about 6 guys in Italy who keep querying my blog about the "average attendance of a papal mass". I am awash in admirers. Greg, you are in good company.

Greg has enjoyed some of my posts about being a Dad of daughters, and might include a couple of my thoughts in his next book project. For more on his work, go see this.

More Cool Missional Stuff

Go here. This is very interesting. I am completely excited! Thanks to my good buddy KC for this tip!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Being 13 - To Do List

Its Saturday. Heather made a list. Here it is.

Click to enlarge. I love my daughter.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Funky Bunch

Being 48 years old and working at a desk job can sometimes be a bit dull. What to do? Since I cannot get a crewing job on the Time Bandit, I have another idea.

Remember the
Rat Pack? I have decided that I need my own personal Pat Pack, or posse, or entourage, also know as a Funky Bunch. The Funky Bunch would be by personal advance team, but also serve as a squad of advisers, confidants, and guys to hang with.

My Funky Bunch would be distinct, and somewhat eclectic; a unique blend of individuals that would hang with me, where ever I go. And so, presented below is a brief summary of those I would choose for my own personal Funky Bunch:

John Wooden: A man of great integrity, and the greatest basketball coach of all time. He would be our personal sports advisor, character and morals leader, and generally wise sage. At 96 years old, he adds need maturity to the Bunch.

Fred Rogers: A lover of children, man of caring and compassion, and ordained Presbyterian pastor. He would be a wonderful advisor, even for a guy with teenage daughters. Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood....what more can I say? I know he is not alive anymore, but I still admire him tremendously.

Eugune Peterson: pastor, theologian, and one of the few guys who has ever snubbed Bono. I think he could read the phone book, and translate it into something profound.

Frank Sinatra: with the Chairman of the Board in your Bunch, you will always have plenty of good tunes around you. And mixed drinks. And large Italian guys.

Mr T: Protection. With this man on board, I pity the foo that messes with us.

Emeril Lagasse: Joy. Enthusiasm in great measure, and great food. Always.

Oh, and one more thing. This would be the Steve Norris Funky Bunch theme song, played when ever we entered a room. Or exited, for that matter.

Where did I get all this from? Go
here to find out.

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