Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Worn out language (September 30, 2009 edition) "No question"

This worn out language catch phrase has a limited scope, but it's a doozy. Sports talking heads get so passionate sometimes about a topic that they lose their ability to work with the English language. Granted, the talking heads are a step above grunting, which is a layman sporting fan's response of choice.

I am amazed how a quickly a sporting catch phrase explodes in usage, then turns into droning. This happened a few years ago with the term "thrown under the bus," a phrase referencing that a sin of disloyalty had been committed. The phrase quickly became the hyperbole of choice in sports talk, which is also prone to happen in any testosterone-driven verbal exchange. Watching the movie "Patton" with my Dad as a child was my first encounter with this kind of conversation. The great thing about the screenwriters for Patton was that George C. Scott was given a variety of testosterone-driven hyperbole that was enjoyable. Sports talking heads just drive phrases into the ground until intolerable.

Such is the case with the phrase "no question." This is a testosteronic method of declaring a statement of fact or opinion that should be considered on a higher level of truth--such a high level of truth that it can't be debated. Sometimes that level of affirmation about a theory is warranted, but the talking heads can't be selective with this high level of truth. Their analysis hit the airwaves, and immediately vaults itself to a higher level of truth.

"Brett Favre looks good in a Vikings' jersey. I think purple is his color."
"Hey, pass the cheese curds."

I hope the over use of the term gets called to account by sports broadcasting leadership soon. I'm sure they don't care that I'm turning off my radio or skipping the podcast.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Worshiping at the Cathode Cathedral: House 9/28/09

Whereas Desperate Housewives is on a writing slide, House is going in a better direction.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that House's relationship with his therapist from the season premier would continue and that the show would not merely be a medical drama, but also about the relationships with just enough snark and twists to be true to some of the original House concepts. I enjoyed House's little foray into cooking that tapped into a lingering romantic involvement with Cuddy while dissecting his battles as an addictive personality--also this guy can do almost anything, but has some major personality flaws. Foreman and Thirteen also have some chemistry while they balance relationship and professional issues.

My dear wife and I have figured out how to balance relational and professional issues--we won't serve in the same congregation. We can then admire each of our gifts from both up close and from afar.

For all you Mariner fans out there...this is fun

I know Dave Niehaus is not at the same level as in earlier days, but this call is a reminder of why Dave is so awesome. I want Kevin Calabro in the booth eventually, but this is vintage Dave, and I don't want him to go. He's a Pacific Northwest classic and a baseball legend.

The barfing has subsided, but we took a trip to the ER anyway

Daughter #2 gave my mother and father a barfing show yet to be matched in her short lifetime--my dear wife and I managed to avoid it (though not intentionally), we were working. With lethargy, a low grade fever, and crankiness still present, we were concerned about H1N1 or flu in general. I tried comforting the little squirt, but she frowned at me and said, "Stop being nice to me, Daddy."

Off to the ER--I had flashbacks of my last trip there with her--we were there around 7 hours. I wasn't in the mood to relive that episode and wanted to hold out for the pediatrician. My dear wife persuaded me that it was the right thing to go in last evening. For an ER visit, we had an expedited process. Great nurses, great doctor--the anti-nausea medicine and the intravenous fluids did the trick. She wasn't jumping for joy when she got home--but that 3 hour ER visit was a good investment. We even had more TV channels available, and the hospital was a lot cleaner this time. It doesn't look like influenza of any strain, but we still need to be vigilant.

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for being on the front lines this weekend. Wow.

Worshiping at the Cathode Cathedral: Family Guy

Note: The title of this blog series is based on a professor who said he spent entirely too much time watching television. This is a brilliant man--said he would get his book projects, journal articles, and research done in a more timely fashion if he didn't spend so much time "worshiping at the cathode cathedral." It gave me hope that a brilliant man could be a television watcher. Especially when I know other brilliant people who don't even have a television in their house.

It's hard to watch Family Guy in my household these days. My daughters are adept at repeating catch phrases and actions, and Family Guy is laden with material I don't want them to repeat. I'm sure there's nothing like a pastor's kid repeating lines from Family Guy in choice situations. I usually catch Family Guy on Hulu when the kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied.

Maybe it's a bit premature, but I think the season premier of Family Guy was one of the best episodes ever. I'm much more interested in what is formulated in Stewie's mind than Peter's lower than sophomoric humor. The episode progressed well for anyone with the attention span of a gnat, and some of the pop culture references were brilliantly nuanced at a level rarely seen in any episode. The Disney alternate universe was hilarious. I let out several hearty guffaws during the entire episode.

Sure, Family Guy is vulgar. But Seth McFarlane is one of the most comically nimble minds out there. I'm not sure if The Cleveland Show will pass the test--love the name of the youngest kid, Rallo. Hitting the Sanford and Son reference was nice. But the jury is still out on the show. I may give it a chance.

Worshiping at the Cathode Cathedral: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives has been a roller coaster ride for me. Sometimes I have hated it, other times I marvel at the high quality writing--the dialog can rank up there with Sex and The City. I still think it's a better than average show, with some very high peaks of enjoyment and good story telling.

DH is one of the shows that I watch only because of the conversations I share with my wife. Another factor is that after a full Sunday at church I don't have much energy to do anything else besides watch television. I have heard or read that this is the last season of DH, and if the season premier was an indicator of what is to come, then DH can leave my watching with a whimper. The story lines I enjoy feel tepid and the disappointments have potential for highly annoying.

+ Lynette's (Felicity Huffman is by far the best acting talent on this show) fear that she won't love her new twins.
+ Gabby (I still don't get the fascination with Eva Longoria Parker) is learning to be a mature parent/adult as the guardian of Carlos' niece.

- I am so sick of the Susan and Mike drama, I would flip the channel when they come on if I could get away with it. Very tired storyline. Even if Katharine is going to go all psycho on them this season.
- I think the idea of the "evil person/family moves to Wisteria Lane" theme each season is now officially boring.
- Orson hasn't been an interesting character in a long time, and Bree's affair doesn't make Orson any more interesting.

I will probably continue to watch DH because my wife is much more faithful to particular shows than me, and I like to continue the conversation with her. DH has not quite jumped the shark, but I hope the story telling this season gets better.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Washington Huskies and reality

I still haven't come down from Washington taking down USC last week. Though television technology has taken sports to a new level, a live event still offers a unique shared experience.

The rebuilding project will still take some time for the UDub--and Stanford looked like a pretty good team. I tire of the bromides about being a physical football team, but Stanford brought an extraordinary level of toughness that the Huskies couldn't match last evening. The Pac-10 is going to be a blood bath this season, and 6-6 or 7-5 or 5-7 looks about right for the Dawgs. Maybe they'll do better (still hoping). The play of the Huskies yesterday reminded me of the volatile psyche and performance of my days as a late teen/early adult years. It's even tough to learn as an older adult about preparing for solid, consistent performances in the midst of adrenaline rush. I applied that wisdom last week as I almost stopped cheering in the 3rd quarter so I would have a voice left and be able to do my job with integrity on Sunday morning. Some student athletes are wise beyond their years and can accomplish this--which is why I appreciate my lessons as a student-athlete that much more.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beck may be "arguing with idiots," but doesn't exactly encourage intelligence

I don't waste a lot of time reading or watching Glenn Beck. I don't understand why a public event protected by free speech needs to be stopped.

Thousands will gather today in Seattle and Mount Vernon to hear and meet a man who is puzzling in his vitriol at best and maniacally foolish at his worst. I don't understand the petition to cancel his appearance in Mount Vernon. People are free to protest his appearance, but seeking cancellation? I suppose Beck is broadly adept at attracting foolishness--which means I should never write about him again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More barf, with a bonus gift

Usually I get home to meet Daughter #1 at the bus with anywhere from 0-25 minutes to spare, depending on traffic in Tacoma. Today it was closer to 25 minutes, so I stopped to pick up a snack. Daughter #2 is in the back seat--I have my snack and she starts crying, for no apparent reason.

Then I realize what is wrong. More barf. No projectile vomiting, but it's bad enough, covering her body and of course, the car seat. One small benefit, taking the seat out to clean it took the smell out of the car. Here I have my child screaming, "Daddy, I barfed again! I'm sad!" Figuring out what I'm going to do and realizing I have less than 10 minutes to fix the issue, I get home, leave the child in the car and pull out our worst beach towels so I can wrap the child and clean her up in time to either: a) give her a bath or b) wipe her down well enough to get her into the stroller and pick up Daughter #1. I didn't think I could pick up Daughter #1 given the circumstances because I thought I could end up with a Stand By Me style "barf o rama." While I went up stairs to triage clean, I discovered that the dog pooped all over the upstairs spare bedroom.

What a bonus gift.

I managed to get Daughter #2 cleaned up and the upstairs bedroom and we made it to the bus with zero time to spare to pick up Daughter #1. Adrenaline can work really well in a tight situation.

Post Script: After all that trauma, Daughter #2 asked me if she could have macaroni and cheese for supper...


Barf is a new favorite word for Daughter #2. Our 12-yr old chocolate lab occasionally has a hard time keeping food down. One time I announced that "the dog barfed again!" She picked up on that word and its connection, so she's become a barf detective. She has an instinct to follow the dog around when he starts making a noise that could produce barf, the she will call out that the dog has barfed again, and that I need to clean it up.

At about 3 am this morning, we heard a cry from her bedroom. Apparently, she joined the dog in the barf club and barfed on her pillow and sheets. I think it was technically an acid reflux, but in the midst of her discomfort, she was a little bit pleased that she shared a bond with her barfing dog. She spoke for about 20 minutes regarding the details of the barfing episode.

This is probably more than you ever wanted to read about barf today (or any day).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Worshiping at the Cathode Cathedral: House

Last year I was drawn into the medical drama "House" courtesy of my Confirmation students in South Dakota ranch country. I was amazed that it was the most mentioned show when I unscientifically polled them on their favorites. I don't just go looking for shows via channel surfing, I find a few diamond in the rough recommendations and give them a try.

During the long, dark, snowy winter in South Dakota, I looked forward to carrying a load of House DVD's or getting a few episodes on Hulu. I ended up watching 4 complete seasons in about 3 months. What drew me to the show was an intelligent man's quest for meaning under the guise of nihilism. It helps that House has an unused verbal filter and is often funny in bypassing the filter. I've always hoped that someone with a more intelligent faith could challenge House, but that has yet to happen. I believe he's met with a teenage quack faith healer, and an overly pious and naive nun--but that's about it. One of the doctors had attended seminary, but had is own crisis of faith. He ends up being the religious apologist when the ladies aren't staring into his dreamy eyes.

The House season premiere reminded me of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," though it wasn't quite as good. My favorite interaction involved House and his psychiatrist--meeting his match in the category of insanely intelligent, yet a bit relationally immature. It was also good that the writing ventured off the medical mystery track for just a bit so we could connect with House beyond his cantankerous shell. He also developed a romantic connection with a visitor to the ward that eventually broke off. What I appreciated about the contrast of characters is that the brain, though resilient, can be very fragile--and that we are all a step or two away from mental illness. The characters who came to the mental illness institution were an interesting mix of everyday and extraordinary people: a world-renowned doctor, a concert cellist, a man who suffered from massive delusions after witnessing his wife's sudden death all overseen by a psychiatrist with his own relational brokenness. What I appreciated about the episode over and against "Cuckoo's Nest" was that the mental illness in House was not mere caricature as it tended to be in "Cuckoo's Nest."

In recent years I have found a passive interest in faith, relationships and the brain. Pete Steinke first got me interested in brain research, and he plugged me in to many resources. I saw Dr. Daniel Amen speak several years ago and found his work intriguing in terms of how the brain affects congregational dynamics. Some are skeptical of Amen's work. The neo-atheist Sam Harris and his contributions to The Reason Project move into brain research to show how the brain is related to faith and religion. I deeply appreciate the complexity of the brain and amazed how often it is taken for granted in human interaction. The season premiere of House revealed something of this complexity, which is why I enjoyed it's diversion from the typical medical drama path.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seattle Mariners, Washington Huskies and Elation (part 1)


I'm with Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer and UDub Football Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. Wow.

After attending the Mariners-Yankees game Friday night and the Huskies-USC game Saturday afternoon, I think my legs are still shaking. Our group of 4 on Friday was looking more for a good night together to see the Yankee juggernaut and entourage--always baseball history in the making. We were looking for a good hanging out activity.

This year the Mariners have their own history in the making with arguably the best pitcher in baseball (Felix Hernandez) and two future Hall of Famers (the still productive Ichiro and the larger than life Ken Griffey, Jr.). The Mariners are still a compelling storyline despite their exit from playoff contention about 6 weeks ago. No one really saw (except for my brother) Ichiro winning the game off of the rarely beaten Darth Vader of relief pitchers Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th with two outs. I still have chills when I think of watching it live and seeing them all celebrate.

What was also fun was that our group of four sat behind a cohort of Yankee fans. I am not a Yankee hater, though I like them less and less as the years pass. I can't hate them because one of my baseball heroes was a Yankee--Don Mattingly. I modeled my own game and preparation after his. I even celebrated his birthday as a high school athlete (April 20, BTW). The Yankee fans were a bit obnoxious (must have been that they sucked down copious amounts of beer and passed around a flask). But they were popping off to the Mariner fans around them--a game 10 year old boy sitting in front of them took the best approach and just cheered louder for the Mariners. I basically ignored them for most of the game (actually, didn't respond to them). I took note of some of their ramblings, but this joke typifies their banter:

Q: What's the difference between a Mariner hot dog and a Yankee hot dog?
A: You can eat a Yankee hot dog in October!

In my first of two responses during the contest, I pointed out to the Yankee fan that one could eat a Mariner hot dog in October this season, because with the World Baseball Classic being held this spring, the final Mariner home stand of the season took place in October. One could buy a Mariner hot dog then. And technically, one can buy a Mariner hot dog at any Costco in Western Washington, as one can buy the Mariner Dog brand there and serve them at home. I told him that if you really want to create an accurate joke, he could say that a Yankee hot dog can be eaten in November, since the recent advent of the opening round of the playoffs now is a best of 7 series, the World Series can fall on the first week of November. But that would also be inaccurate, since the dawn of the expanded playoff series, the Yankees have either been inept in the playoffs or the regular season. Therefore, he can't really tell a joke, and he was just popping off.

My second response was delayed after he said the game was over after the Mariano Rivera entrance. I can't say I held out too much hope for a response. But I did openly call for Mike Sweeney to pinch hit in the 9th, since he's been swinging such a hot bat in the past few months and would be one of the least likely to be intimidated by Rivera. My friend who flew in from Kansas City, part of the hapless KC Royals fan base, was at least happy to see someone with Royals connections do well. With Sweeney's double in the gap, and Ichiro coming to the plate, all things were possible to tie the game. I thought he would double in the gap to tie the game. My brother declared Ichiro was ending it and going yard.

My brother was right--and we went berserk. Pandemonium. Pure elation. My dad and I each shared that our legs were shaking. Such a calm evening turned into a gigantic celebration. No one wanted to go home. We soaked in the moment and gave thanks we didn't have to run around like Jim Valvano looking for someone to hug. We had our troupe right there. We were the re-incarnation of the High Five'n White Guys.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Washington Huskies vs. USC Trojans, 9/19/09 & hope

Listening to an abundance of local sport pundits cannot be good for mental health, but sometimes taking in sports hope has an addictive quality. I think sports hope trumps political hope or even spiritual hope in the euphoric rush factor (at least in this life)--though I'm not sure why. I know the other hopes have more meaning, but sports hope is more fun.

A tangible belief is brewing in Western Washington that the UW Husky football team can beat the University of Southern California Trojans. Steve Sarkisian and his staff have worked, planned and produced a team where the effort, execution, intelligence and passion inspire hope. As a fan produced from a family tree of a UW alumni--that is what a Husky supporter expects and takes pride. I am attending my first live game at UW in over 20 years with family and friends--I HOPE I will see more of what I have seen in the first two weeks. I don't know if all of this sports hope will be accompanied by a win for the Huskies, but hope hasn't been completely eclipsed by iron-clad expectation for a football dynasty.

The fun for all college football fans should be magnified in the UW-USC game tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Driving Miss Daughter #2

About half of my commuting days to work involve daughter #2. She seems to like music (though she doesn't like to hear me sing) and talk with me about what she sees. She may talk a lot, but she has a narrow focus of topics:

1. "Hey Daddy. That's broken. You need to fix it." Usually this means she sees a construction site or a decaying urban structure.

2. "Hey Daddy. That's dirty. You need to clean it up." This means she has seen anything involving dirt--from a large dirt pile, to anything that looks disorderly.

3. "Hey Daddy. There's the Tamoma Dome. It's a castle." She refused to believe that the Tacoma Dome wasn't a castle, but I eventually convinced her it's a dome that hosts music, basketball and football games. This now sounds plausible to her.

She will also point out airplanes and the many cars on the road.

After our commute, I drop her off at the preschool/child care facility. She is generally excited upon arrival, but she's shy when she gets in there. The teacher says it takes my little girl about 30 minutes to warm up to everyone. She's back to taking an afternoon nap, which is probably a relief to the teachers--they need some peace, too. She's learning letters A and B these days and the accompanying sign language.

Listening...(September 16, 2009 edition)

Landslide--Dixie Chicks
Ready To Run--Dixie Chicks
Stone Inside My Shoe--Animal Logic
Love Is Dead--The Lovemakers

In preparation to sell off the last of my CDs, I found a few Dixie Chicks CD's and realized their enduring qualities. My dear wife went through a long stage of newer country music in the 1990's, and since she did most of the driving, any car trip involved YOUNG COUNTRY, or HOT COUNTRY HITS! I latched on to a few artists on that type of radio station, but discovered the songs lacked any staying power, like Shania Twain or Alan Jackson. These aren't bad artists (some would argue with me on that), but their songs lack endurance. I may have enjoyed a song like "Chattahoochee" for a couple of weeks or months, but I'm not going to pay a dollar for it to store on my iPod. I may even turn the station if I hear that song on the radio. I like the whole idea of musical endurance and how it occurs.

Some Dixie Chicks songs are aging like a fine wine--I have admired the musical complexity of these songs repeatedly over the past few days. I will find myself searching for some deeper Dixie Chicks songs--to save some time I will consult my Dixie Chicks aficionado friend in Pennsylvania.

I was on an Animal Logic kick late in college and early in seminary on the recommendation of a good friend who was a Stewart Copeland (Police percussionist) fanatic. I think this band only put out 2 albums after The Police took off to do their own projects. I find the lyrics uneven at times--lines that appear to be throwaways in the middle of a good poetic thought. The bass (Stanley Clarke) and percussion are excellent, and vocalist Deborah Holland is a musical cousin of personal favorite Mary Fahl, but not nearly as haunting or tone rich.

The Lovemakers appear this week as the free track on iTunes. The review compares it to 80's synth-pop, but it's a lot more refined. The harmonies are far better than most 80's synth-pop--it sounds like a combination of Roxette if they were actually any good, with a touch of Hugh Grant singing with his faux band Pop! in the film Music & Lyrics, with a touch of 70's arena rock with a current lyrical sensibility. I'm not sure the song has any enduring quality, but they're interesting, and I think I find 4 decades of music in their art.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Favorite show this summer: Design Star

My dear wife and I tend to cut ourselves off from the world for a period of time on Sunday afternoon. Preaching and connecting with the crowd is draining for me, the early morning is draining for her. Sunday afternoon or evening becomes our biggest veg out day, next to Thursday evening.

We didn't miss a week of HGTV's Design Star, airing Sunday nights at 10pm. I liked the new ideas and the personalities. I admire the creative class and how they are able to weave ideas into beauty and function. I admire their work even more because congregations seem to have a problem with pulling this off. I'm not sure where the problem is rooted--maybe it has something to the Protestant ethic and frugality. Someone I knew years ago would talk about this topic in terms of Truth and beauty. Protestant churches didn't embrace that cross section, while Roman Catholics employed these ideas in partnership. If God created a beautiful world, beauty cannot be synonymous with poor stewardship.

Antonio Balatori was the season 4 winner. I pulled for him most of the season. When it came down to it, he may not have been the BEST designer, but he was the most interesting. The other finalist, Dan, looked too much like the other men who host shows on HGTV, a perfectly unshaven pretty man. Antonio will always be interesting, and I'll probably give his new show a try--though I know I'll get overruled by Desperate Housewives in a few weeks. I know, we should get a DVR or TiVo, but we're still adjusting to the plunge of digital cable. And TV isn't all that important.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I'm learning about thematic preaching

It's Friday, and I can't blame any struggles with sermon preparation on the Revised Common Lectionary. I would never complain about the RCL during a sermon, but the RCL gave me a great excuse to gripe or grumble on a Friday or will my weekends change?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thanks, Jeff Galloway (and my youngest brother)

Though my first half-marathon at the Super Jock n' Jill On Labor Day was no display of speed or endurance, maybe I am getting a little wiser as well as older. By following Galloway's program of walking and running, after three days I have completely recovered from the race. I am injury free, and ready to run again.

When I woke up this morning, I still felt a slight soreness from the race in my quads, but I knew I was ready for a run. I didn't feel like actually doing it, but I got out there for about 3.5 miles. To my surprise, I felt even a slight spring in my step, like I gained some strength from the race.

Thanks also to my youngest brother, who offered encouragement in training, but also bought me the Galloway Book On Running for Christmas about three years ago. I don't think I'd still be running without it--because I probably would have done something stupid and suffered an injury or given up because I would try to pile on mileage without a plan. Even though I did hit a wall, the race was enjoyable and challenging.

I'm going to look for another race at

Enjoying Google Chrome

In office exile I have been relegated to using a PC again, to which I end up having to ask questions of the resident computer expert to get basic things figured out. Forget intuition and learning things on my own, I am stuck with this computer.

My oasis has involved installing Google Chrome as my default web browser. This is the first time on a PC I've felt like I have a Mac-like interface with intuitive movement on the computer. It's interesting working with Microsoft products that sputter, lock and frustrate. This is not to say that I am never frustrated with my Mac, but we are able to resolve our issues together 95 percent of the time. With Microsoft, I usually need a mediator.

I am a Mac, and I believe in direct communication.

Thank you, Google for making a fine browser for me to survive the PC world.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This Show Stinks: Mr. Tony is back on the radio, boys and girls!

After listening to Tony Kornheiser on the B.S. Report podcast last week, I learned that after leaving Monday Night Football and the Washington Post, Mr. Tony is back on the radio. I am glad for this. I have completely gorged myself on local sports radio this summer. And though I generally like the local radio personalities, especially Kevin Calabro, Mike Salk and Brock Huard, with a smattering of the KJR personalities if I can't stand what's going on with the other guys. I can't say that I feel more intelligent after I listen to my local sports pundits, but they provide the background conversation to some chores where I need to concentrate--and I love the daily rhythm of baseball in the summertime for which the radio is a great companion.

Kornheiser is different than most sports pundits. Like Colin Cowherd and Keith Law, I feel a little smarter after partaking of his material. He doesn't confine himself to game breakdown or emotionally fanatic rants about a particular team--he brings in his own cultural niche. Cowherd appeals to his target demographic in a smart way with cultural features other than sports. Keith Law also comments on books and food/cooking/restaurants. Mr. Tony hits politics, relationships, movies, news, a little pop culture, a little feature called "Old Guy Radio," and sports, in no particular order.

The show announced that the iTunes link is not quite working yet, so here is a link to listen to Mr. Tony. I'm looking forward to listening to this on my commute or in the office when I'm doing the more mindless section of work as a pastor.

If you don't know anything about Tony Kornheiser on the radio, just know this: THIS SHOW STINKS. It stinks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fall TV

My television habits have evolved since my family finally joined the 20th century and subscribed to cable TV. I watch way more TLC and HGTV than I imagined, and they are great conversation pieces for me and my wife--especially as we think more about a household for our children and as we move into new seasons of our vocational lives.

I'm still looking forward to new fall television. We don't watch something every evening. Last night we each did a little work, played Husker Du (the game, not the band) and Perfection, and completed some chores. We don't often just turn on the TV to see what is on--though that sometimes happens after a particularly hard day at work or just about any Sunday afternoon. My dear wife and I don't necessarily like the exact same shows but we share a few for the sake of community. Habits will also change because I can imagine watching more shows online because 10pm is sometimes too late for me to watch a show. Here's the list for the fall.

Won't miss/community shows
Desperate Housewives
Grey's Anatomy

I Won't Miss
Friday Night Lights

Looking to try
Mad Men

Enjoy if I have the time, no big deal if I miss
Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
Family Guy
Daily Show/Colbert Report (not new fall seasons, but something I enjoy and don't feel dumber after I watch it)

Popular shows I tried, but just can't get into
Any Law and Order
The Office
My Name Is Earl
Brothers and Sisters
Private Practice

I am glad the ER juggernaut is finally over. Sometimes I wish that Boston Legal was still on, but I think some of the story lines were deteriorating quickly, so it's probably better that it's done.

One of my brothers is a Mad Men fan, and Bill Simmons from ESPN is a huge fan. He definitely didn't steer me wrong with Friday Night Lights. So that may be my next TV show DVD rental. Once FNL starts again I will write about that, and all the buzz about Mad Men will probably lead to some reflection on that storyline.

Memories from first half-marathon

Race day is a top ten adrenaline rush experience. The anticipation and nerves, athletic ability of competitors and challenge, and the variation in people watching for me is fascinating. The running crowd is not like the usual crowds I see. I am not part of a running club, and church isn't exactly a fitness haven, though my dear wife and I have noticed that Northwest pastors are a much more fit bunch than Midwest pastors.

Memories from the Super Jock and Jill Half-Marathon (run and walk) and 4-mile run:

* I ran across a female runner nursing her baby before she ran the half-marathon.

* The atmosphere produced varying degrees of rain for about 3/5 of the race. I found it refreshing most of the time, though the accompanying humidity kept me plenty soaked.

* This was a large half-marathon--I think they said it was the 33rd annual race. It takes quite an effort to pull off something like that. I think I saw at least 20 police officers directing traffic on the course that traveled through Woodinville and Bothell. When I had the energy, I said thank you to the police officers and volunteers sharing a cool cup of water. One police officer said I was doing a good job. I gave him a thumbs up and said thanks. He said "keep it up. You're doing what I can't do." He smiled his encouragement was one of the many things that kept me going.

* I hit a wall about mile 10. I was by no means going fast during the first 10 miles. But the last three miles about all I could manage was jogging 200 yards and walking 100. I think what zapped me was that I was a little dehydrated--I hit all the water stations, but I could have used a few more sips. I lost 7 pounds during the race, and after my recovery I'm still down 4 pounds. I didn't do any hill training for the race and I could have used some. The course hit the hilly UW-Bothell campus--I didn't attack the hills, and I only ran about 2/5 of them, but I need to do a few more hill workouts for my next race.

* My last 3 miles put me in somewhat of a competition with a race walker. I didn't get a look if he was registered for the walk or the run. But I would go into my slow jog and pass him. Then I would walk and he would pass me. I wasn't totally dead by this time of the run, because I still managed to pass a few people in the final 3 miles.

* There was an odd free food offering at the end of the race. I picked up a hand-crafed chocolate raspberry doughnut. I couldn't bring myself to eat it, but someone in my family appreciated it.

* I missed my cheering section during this race. I didn't know the course all that well, nor did my dear wife--and with the rain, it seemed like it would be a wasted effort to have a cheering section. But my dear wife and daughters took the trip with me to Woodinville, sent me off with love and encouragement and welcomed me back. Daughter #1 really likes these races--I think I'll sign us up to volunteer sometime.

* My recovery is going well. I feel a little achy, which is helped by some ibuprofen and some short walks to keep out the stiffness. I must have been clinching my shoulders, because my trapezius ache a little. During the race all I could feel cramping was my hip flexors. I will be ready for a short run either tomorrow or Thursday. Thanks to .Jeff Galloway's training program I'm not going out of commission just because I ran a race. I'm spent, but I can function.

* I'm going to look for a 5k to run sometime around Thanksgiving. I want to do some longer cross training, so I definitely don't want to train for a longer race. I'm looking to go biking on Fridays with my new day off and pull along daughter #2 on the copious trails in the area.

I will compete in another half-marathon, I'm just not sure when or where it will happen.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

An enjoyable Saturday of chores, family and football

Though the outcomes to Saturday's games were not ideal, that was a relaxing and productive Saturday. I watched bits of several games:

Navy/Ohio State
Notre Dame/Nevada
Oklahoma St./Georgia

I washed, dried, folded and put away 7 loads of laundry, cleaned, put the finishing touches on my sermon and went for an outing to the park with a little puddle jumping nature walk. The girls, my dear wife and I had a nice early evening. We were fueled by a dinner of fish or chicken tacos with avocado, grilled veggies, Jack cheese and corn.

After a ghastly 0-12 season last year, the Huskies are on a much better trajectory now. They made good calls on offense, showing some flash and talent at the skill positions. Though the defense seems a bit under skilled, Nick Holt had good schemes and a plucky, hard-working attitude injected into the entire defense. I have tickets for the USC game on Sept. 19th with my Dad, brother and some friends--I don't know if they'll be able to offer the same effort against USC, especially when Pete Carroll knows Coach Sarkisian so well. I'm hoping for another good effort with a shot at the win in the 4th quarter.

I will always root against Notre Dame. That nemesis developed in college during the era of the Miami/Notre Dame rivalry known as the Catholics vs. The Convicts in the late 80's. I remember statements by Notre Dame fans that ND represented God and Miami represented Evil and Satan. Those kinds of statements lit my torch, and I could no longer be indifferent to the school from South Bend. I don't loathe them as much these days, but my favorite teams are still Washington, Tennessee, Central Michigan, and whichever team is playing Notre Dame. I have little tolerance for righteousness attached to a football team.

I watched the Minnesota and Navy games only because I could while folding laundry. The Navy game was more enjoyable. I admired Navy for their efficiency, getting the absolute most out of their resources and almost sticking to the boring football of the Big Ten power THE Ohio State University. If forced to pull for a Big Ten team (which I really don't have to do anymore in Pac-10 country) I go for the Badgers and the Gophers. Wisconsin, because the are the best football celebrators in the USA, and Minnesota, because there are alums in my dear wife's family, and they gave my daughter top-notch medical care.

Fall weekends are hard to beat--this was only the beginning. Easily my favorite season of the year.

Friday, September 04, 2009

College football viewing will be different

I remember the simpler days when I could roll out of bed on a Saturday morning of my youth and catch the early SEC Football game on Jefferson Pilot Sports. About 830 or 9am, that first game aired on the in the Pacific Time Zone, and I could watch football all day if I wanted to, highlighted by a big Washington Huskies game with my Dad and brothers. Three or four games per day began some football watching glory days.

I don't take over the television on Saturdays as an adult, though I have found ways to get a college football fix--Sirius was a big help or listening to games on the Web. I could do chores or errands and still get out a shout with my girls in the car, while I worked in the garage, folded laundry or gathered sermon materials. Rare are the days of total sports couch potato. I usually save a day like that for the NCAA Basketball Tournament in March. There's something about being outside on a crisp fall day, working in the yard, preparing for winter among the changing leaves.

This year I return to going to a college football game with one or both of my brothers and some friends. The gathering around a college football game is like no other event.

Though the Thursday night games were big this week (quite a skirmish between Boise State and Oregon), tomorrow marks the beginning of a great season, and I can taste the promise and joy of the cooler weather along with the drama of football and the close of baseball season.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thematic preaching topic: time

Sunday marks my first sermon as the new pastor at my new congregation. This is not a lectionary congregation, so I've been working on a sermon series that will cover 4 weeks in September and October. The problem is a preaching hole left by Labor Day weekend. This is not the Sunday to count on a critical mass. Though I'm certainly game for surprises.

I found a text because I had to meet the needs of the worship materials producers. I came to the topic of time because time intentionally marks the boundaries service as an interim pastor. I also came to the topic of time because I was digging for a text and found Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13 referenced in an interim ministry journal. Most pastors go into a congregation with an open end to their time boundaries. My time is not fixed in a congregation, but a definitive boundary is set: whenever the next pastor comes. Typically, in a Lutheran congregation, that takes about 1 year, give or take a few months.

Time drew me in because in every interim congregation, I face a similar statement uttered by congregational leaders. Whenever we talk about an opportunity for ministry, inevitably someone will say "we should wait to do X until the next pastor arrives." At one time, I thought this ministry holding pattern was a good idea. It got me off the hook for a lot of extra work--and why would I want to make things difficult for a colleague who comes and serves after me. However, I think if someone is going to try something new, maybe that time is appropriate. I like to wait as much as the next person, but in the presence of the provocation of the Holy Spirit, how is that not the time to pass on the grace of God in a creative way? Does a pastor have to make a seal of approval on everything that happens in the congregation? I can understand the sentiment that a person, group or congregation would like to have a sense of their new pastor's way of doing things, lest something new openly contradict a technique or philosophy of the new pastor.

Theologian Paul Tillich in his writing/sermon on the aforementioned Ecclesiastes text talks about how God's timing breaks into human timing. Ecclesiastes is a wisdom text that in chapter 3 shares a poem about the breadth of human existence and that it all comes down to timing. Tillich states that Jesus reveals the in-breaking of God's time when he says, "the kingdom of God is at hand," and eventually renders Ecclesiastes' words about human timing as something to reconsider in the light of Christ.

What is "white culture"?

Once before I have referenced the oddity that is Glenn Beck--not nearly as many times as Keith Olbermann--but I don't need to beat a dead horse in order to get people to watch my show. Olbermann beats up on Beck to help his ratings. Beck does the same kind of thing, but Beck sometimes adds tears.

Beck is on his way back to the Northwest, returning to a town of his youth. Beck was not a controversial figure in South Dakota because many people share his perspectives on the world. But in the Northwest, Beck will often be vilified, and some folks in Mount Vernon, Washington are angry about a Glenn Beck Day in Mount Vernon. One of his more recent controversies involves calling Barack Obama a racist and hold a desire to dismantle "white culture."

Regardless of whether someone believes Obama to be racist, or whether his leadership is detrimental to the country, my question is what is "white culture?" An who is white? Are Italians considered white? How about Greeks? Does one have to be completely white, like a native, but non-aboriginal Norwegian? If all of these aforementioned cultures are grouped as white, then what monolithic "white culture" do you have? If there is a white culture, I'm not sure how I participate or influence white culture. Please Mr. Beck, help me understand.

One of my favorite blogs is "Stuff White People Like." The Canadian author Christian Lander is not necessarily proclaiming a white culture per se, but identifies proclivities that are hard to deny. Race, culture and skin color aren't interchangeable words, and to call Obama a racist attempting to dismantle white culture is a poor choice of concepts to criticize Obama's body of work.

But hey, Beck gets the ratings.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First days in preschool for child #2

We've been talking for weeks with daughter #2 about going to school. She doesn't exactly know the scope of institution--but she wants to do the things her older sister does, yet she wants to be independent. She had to acquire "Skechers" just like her older sister--picking out her own style but the same brand at Fred Meyer. Before she started on Tuesday, every building we passed brought the inquiry: "Is that my school? Is that my school?"

After 2 days, her ebbed enthusiasm makes me wonder if this is the right course, but we're already traveling this road. I can't quit my job now, and hers is a natural reaction to a completely different social situation. It's only three days per week, and her days aren't always full. I also admire her skepticism about the whole socialization process, I can relate to looking at any crowd with apprehension.

I miss the small, regular interactions throughout the day, and I look forward to Friday when we can hang out together at home. I will be off doing my chores somewhere in the house and she will come find me and say "Hey, Daddy!" Then, all will be right with the world.