12.29.2008

Real life conversation

(as Lifesong by Casting Crowns plays in background, our worship pastor reviews plans for upcoming service with various members of the tech crew. Lifesong ends and another Casting Crowns song plays over the house speakers.)

Light Tech: Is the offertory a live song?

Worship Pastor: No. It's a song called
Fire Rain Down.

LT: I know what it's called. Is it a LIVE song.

WP:
(sheepish) Yes.*





* I have the utmost respect for our pastoral staff. However, they occasionally make me laugh, and they frequently show their humanity. In this Lifesong/Live song confusion, our worship pastor was able to laugh at his mistake. I suppose it is better to say stuff like that backstage than on stage.

12.26.2008

PCSD: Post Christmas Stress Disorder

This year started with nothing out of the ordinary. Open stockings, family breakfast, the in-laws come over, open presents, Christian watched a movie while dinner was cooking, the girls took a nap, eat dinner. Nothing unusual.

After dinner, Bekah's dad went home. The kids played in the family room. And I disappeared upstairs for a little while to play my guitar. I anticipated Bekah and her mom to spend that time after dinner chatting. Well, they did chat... but Bekah also used that time to assemble the kid toys that the girls recieved for Christmas.

When I emerged from my room and peered down the stairs... it looked like Barbie barfed all over our living room.

12.20.2008

Christmas music for the bah-humbug crowd

For some people, Christmas music has the tendency to spark that corner of the mind that triggers a mild form of temporary adult onset Tourette syndrome: excessive blinking, uncontrollable twitches, and random bouts of profanity. It is these people who fear the first sound of sleigh bells and “ho ho ho.” There are those like Marcus Kellis at the UI Argonaut who complains that Christmas music is nothing more than “the same songs year after year from the same performers.” Many true music fans (and I do consider myself a true fan of music) despise Christmas music; they believe that the soundtrack to the holidays is nothing short of atrocious.

I can empathize with them. During my days working at Old Navy, I dreaded the holiday shopping season. It wasn’t just the savage shoppers, slogging through tables of sweaters and rugby polos like Hurricane Santa. It was the awful Christmas music - think Bing Crosby meets the Macarena.

However, aside from the holiday music torture offered by stores like Old Navy, I typically enjoy Christmas music. Now, those of you that know me personally might find that to be a bit out of character – a hip-hop fan who grew up in a Seattle suburb at the height of grunge’s heyday. And I’m not a big holiday person. However, if it wasn’t for Christmas music, I don’t think I’d be able to cope with the Christmas season.

So, in an attempt of a small Christmas miracle, I am composing a list of those Christmas songs not often heard. Those kinds of songs that could make the hardest hearts grow three sizes, the music that I use to prepare me for what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. If you are a Scrooge (or Grinch) this list is for you.

12/23/95
Eager and hopeful yet melancholic. Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World's vocalist) admits his mistakes, but still wishes a merry Christmas to the girl he's wronged.

2000 Miles
Originally by the Pretenders and recently remade (with slightly altered lyrics) by Coldplay is about missing a loved one at Christmas. It is also an example of overstating the obvious in song: "2000 miles is very far through the snow. " Thank you Captain Obvious. I would have never figured that one out on my own. Aside from that statement, 2000 Miles is still a lovely song.

Blue Christmas
One of the most recognizable song on this list, Blue Christmas is also one of my favorite Christmas songs. It's been recorded by several different artists, but these three have the best versions: The King of rock & roll Elvis, bluesy rocker Sheryl Crow (who's recorded two different versions), and DIY indie rocker Bright Eyes

(Christmas Is) The Saddest Day Of The Year
Another song that blends loneliness and yuletide. For Jill Sobule, Christmas is filled reminders of a missing loved one.

Christmas Song
Most of us idealize the nativity with a cherubic baby Jesus with a halo above his head - the most peaceful baby in all recorded history. Dave Matthews (and frequent collaborator Tim Reynolds) sing what I think is more of an honest telling of the Christ child - "One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy" who "Kept his mother Mary worried." Dave's song continues past the manger scene to tell the full story, a story filled with "Gamblers and Robbers, Drinkers and Jokers, all soul searchers like you and me." Like Dave's song, Jesus' birth is only the beginning of the story.

Happy Christmas (War is Over)
Another recognizable song. Although I think the only reason anyone knows this song is because of the singer who penned the lyrics: John Lennon. Since then Lennon's demise, many artists have re-sung "So this is Christmas, what have you done." Some versions work well (like the covers by Sense Field, Thrice, and Sarah McLachlan.), but most sound a bit pretentious.

Have It All
Isn't that every kid's Christmas wish - to have it all. And if not every kid's wish, then it is at least the wish of every true capitalist. Here, Ace Troubleshooter mocks that materialistic aspect of modern Christmases, "Squalor, impulse, crowding, 'tis the season." Yet what our culture has made profane still remains holy, and Ace Troubleshooter focuses there - "Though it's brazen and defiant, please be born in my heart."

Holiday Song (Happy Holidays)
One of my favorite songs on this list. Jason Martin (Starflier 59) begs a significant other to stay for the holidays in his trademarked brand of shoegazing blues-rock.

I Hate Christmas Parties
Matthew Thiessen says it all in the chorus of this anti-festive ballad: "I look under the tree, but there’s nothing to see, 'cause it’s a broken heart that you’re giving me."

If We Make It Through December
This is classic country, and classic pessimism. However, with today's economy, this 25 year old Merle Haggard song is more timely than any other on this list. While the songwriter asks "why my little girl don't understand why daddy can't afford no Christmas here" he believes that everything will be fine " If we make it through December."

In Like a Lion (Always Winter)
Relient K borrows some inspiration for this song from the Chronicles of Narnia - a place where it's always winter but never Christmas. C.S. Lewis would be proud.

In The Bleak Midwinter
Easily the oldest song on this list (written prior to 1872 and published in 1904). This is also the only hymn on the bah-humbug list. However, this beautiful hymn asks a simple (yet stunningly complex) question - "What can I give him, poor as I am." Both Jars of Clay & Sarah McLachlan have recorded a phenomenal version of this song.

Joey Had A Smoke
I always wondered what that conversation between Mary and Joseph was like after Mary was told by the angel that she was pregnant. My guess is that that conversations was slightly awkward. That's what Meg & Dia's song is about. And they do it from the perspective of a couple of modern day teenagers in an empty apartment.

Let Me Sleep
One of Pearl Jam's first fan club singles, Let Me Sleep is another of my favorite Christmas tunes. The chorus explains it all: "Oh when I was a kid, how magic it seemed, please let me sleep it's Christmas time."

My December
This song from Linkin Park really isn't a Christmas song, but I can't make it through the holidays with out hearing it at least once. Winter is my favorite season, and this song fits in with my preference for colder weather (not to mention the waist deep snow we have outside right now).

No Smiles on Christmas
Bleed the Dream's song seems true for too many people - Christmas doesn't hold any good memories. It' is kinda hard to look forward to Christmas when looking back is dismal.

Of Two Bearded Men
The two bearded men in this song are Jesus and Santa. This song by pop-punkers Number One Gun looks at what these two might think of the other.

Old Borego
Switchfoot is modern rock with a touch of intellect. Many of their lyrics would seem abstract without a basic understanding of classic liturature. In Old Borego, Switchfull describes their Christmas on the road as a Charles Dicken's poem.

The Only Gift That I Need
Dashboard Confessional seems to be the poster child for wearing you heart on your sleeve, and that tradition continues as Chris Carrabba sings of unrequited love as he has to wait till spring to get the only gift he needs. (hint: it's a girl)

Someday at Christmas
Stevie Wonder sings in his classic R&B style, Pearl Jam stays true to the original but adds a bit of distortion, and Remy Zero does their best U2 imitation. All singing a song (much like Lennon's War is Over) that longs for a utopian Christmas.

Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas (Sometimes)
For a few years (between graduating high school and when Bekah and I got married) I had a tradition of going to the theater on Christmas day - after dinner of course. [Funny story, the year Tommy Steve and I went to see LOTR, a Boise news crew was out interviewing people coming in and out of the theater. I saw them coming for me, their cameras and microphones aimed at me like medieval weapons. I didn't feel like being on the evening news so I faked a cell phone conversation to avoid being interviewed.] Well, I spent six Christmases at the movies never thinking of the cineplex's employees - stuck working on Christmas. And that's what Harvey Danger's song is about - sung from the perspective of one of those poor souls who have to work on Christmas... in the theater. "The restaurants are closed. So are the record shops, the banks, and bars, and Bartel Drugs. And so's the half price bookstore. But the movies are always open."

What A Year For A New Year
More of a New Year's song than a Christmas song, Dan Wilson (of Semisonic) looks at the holiday season the same way we all should... a fresh start.

What We Call Christmas
When a song starts with the lyrics "Did they talk about your mom," no one expects a holiday message. However, Bleach pulls it off with a song about how hard Christmas can be for kids in broken homes and the parents (and step-parents) that try to make it all work.

What’s This
Some might consider Disney's Nightmare Before Christmas to be sacrilegious, others consider it classic. I'm in the latter group, and the music supplied by Danny Elfman is some of the most creative ever contributed to a Disney movie. In recent years, the Nightmare soundtrack has been remade twice with modern artists reinterpreting Danny Elfman's original songs. Out of the remakes, Fall Out Boy contributed my favorite version of What's This, a song sung from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about Christmas (but everything about Halloween) seeing the Advent festivities for the first time.

While You Were Sleeping
Casting Crowns is one of my favorites in the world of modern worship music. Time and time again their music not only draws you into worship, but also causes introspection. Definitely not worship music for the sheeple. Here they compare America to the Bethlehem and Jerusalem of Jesus' day.

Yule Be Sorry
Aaron Gillespie (UnderOath & The Almost) and Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line) pair up for this song, which has a theme similar similar to the first song on this list. "Here I've made you a card, Not from the shelf, But straight from the heart, And here's what it says, I made some mistakes." Nobody's perfect, especially at Christmas.




That wraps it up. (Get it? Wrap? I know, I'm a nerd.) 26 songs roughly about 80 minutes worth of music sure to offset the absurd cheeriness of songs like Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer. And if you're still feeling like a grinch, you should also check out Sixpence None the Richer's version of Thurl Racenscroft's You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

12.17.2008

Songs of cheer in inconvenient times

As I walked out of my office this afternoon, our receptionist was gazing out the basement window watching the snow accumulate. She turned away and walked toward me. When she saw me she shrugged, frowned, and shook her head in resignations. I could tell she was dreading her commute home.

I've been stuck teaching inside all day, and I've been eager to get outside and play. My melancholic tenancies + distaste for all things summer = I love snow. So our receptionist comes to say "hi" with a look of sadness on her face, and I'm on my way out the door excited to go home. I can't help but try to brighten her day.

"It's the most - Wonderful time... Of the year..." I began to sing. She rolled her eyes, but at least she smiled.




And suddenly I was reminded of another time when song sung in defiance of weather conditions brightened an otherwise dreary day. After graduating high school, I (along with a few of my friends) worked at a record store in Lake Stevens. During an evening shift, a strong wind storm slammed the Puget Sound area - knocking out power in many area homes. (I still have yet to understand why, but several people in the store to rent a video had no power at home.) But our store had power! So, with it cold outside, gusting winds, and no power for neighboring residents, our store was busier than normal.

Suddenly, at dusk, the store lost power. I was the lone cashier, a coworker was helping customers, and my best friend Jeff (also the assistant manager) was in the back room doing paperwork. The setting sun and windows across the front of the store barely lit the register area. The sales floor was darkening even quicker, and the windowless backroom was pitch black.

Poor Jeff had to blindly feel his way out of the backroom search for the exit, and fumble his way out to to store area. As he approached the cash registers, he began to sing. "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor..."

We closed the store early.

12.13.2008

Tidbits: Oklahoma City edition

As we were getting ready this morning, Christian made a joke. And a funny one. And he's only four. When listing off who was in the room with him, he counted mommy and daddy, his sister Zuzu, his two cousins, and aunt... but he saved my brother till last. "And him," he said - pointing at Aaron, "He's my friend and he's BIG!"

Many of the eateries around Oklahoma City are (by outward appearance) scary, but none more frightening than a restaurant a few blocks away from our hotel. It's called Shorty Smalls. Aside from the redundant name, the outer decor was decidedly vaudevillian. The face adorning the Shorty Smalls sign looked like Danny DeVito in Big Fish. And (as if it couldn't get any worse) there was slogan painted in circus-themed font on the wall facing the main street: "We don't serve women, you have to bring your own."

This weekend, I have endured one of the worst hotel stays I can remember. There's a brief synopsis on HBO's wild card thread last night, but I will post the full story later.

I got to see three of my cousins whom I haven't seen in years (two I haven't seen since graduating in '97, the third I haven't seen in 15 years). The first time I met them, I spent a month visiting them in Kansas City. Their dad was a pastor at a small church and the four of us cousins buried a time capsule at their church. The Idea was that we would one day unearth it and see what we were like. I remember digging the hole, and burying the box, but I do not remember what we put in the box. That was sixteen years ago. Since then, they've gone over seas with their parents as missionaries, returned home, went to college, and became engaged and/or married to begin their own lives. I asked my cousin Al if they ever dug that box back up. He hasn't thought about that box in sixteen years but the moment I asked his face lit up. He knows EXACTLY where that box is buried. However, he doesn't remember what we stowed away in our time capsule.

The whole purpose of this trip was to help celebrate my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary. These two people have left an incredible legacy for us grandkids to follow - one of selflessness, serving, sacrifice, kindness, generosity, and hospitality. Their love for each other continues to have a youthful vibrance that I find to be nothing short of inspiring. I have much more to say about these two wonderful people. I could probably write a book about them. But in the interest of time, I will say this: she reads this blog. When she first saw me yesterday, she told me she loves it. She's a fan, but I know she's a fan of all her grandkids. She is immensely proud of what we are all doing in our very different lives. She says she's amazed by us, but I am continually amazed by her.

12.11.2008

Familiar faces

The other night, I picked up dinner at Taco Bell for Bekah. It was to-go (I generally try to avoid the drive through), and the kid at the cash register looked familiar. Since I didn't grow up around here, the only places where I could know a recognizable face are work and church. When he took my order, he confirmed my memory.

"Hey, did you used to work at...?" he asked.

I nodded my head.

"Still there?"

I nodded again. And I knew why his face looked familiar. He is one of those students you never forget.



In October/November of '05, I was teaching a night class that had several high school kids - this Taco Bell employee was one of those kids. It was a difficult class; it was split between school kids who were there because they had to have a job and adults who needed/wanted to work.

The future Taco Bell employee was in the class with two of his best friends. Individually, they were decent kids, but together they were tyrants - disruptive and rude during class, disrespectful of their coworkers. I had to give them corrective actions for their misbehavior and attitude. The worst came during a lunch break the last week of class.

A police officer stopped by my desk looking for one of my agents. The officers had completed a building wide search for the kid and could not find him. As his supervisor, I should know where he was at. I told them that the class was at lunch - the kid was probably off site. They let me know it was urgent that they talked to the kid - he had made a threat of bodily harm to himself or someone else - if he returned to class, I needed to call them immediately.

He returned from lunch an hour late. I called the officer, and all was OK; they found him and had a chance to talk things through. However, the kid didn't show up for work the next day. Another employee (also a high school student) told me that the kid had been arrested during school earlier that day.

Considering his performance, attitude problems, and his incarceration induced attendance issues, he terminated him. His friends finished class; one quit within a couple weeks and the other cleaned up his act and turned out to be a good employee.



Part of me is always curious about what happens to some of the employees after we let them go. For this agent, I assumed he would carry a little bitterness and anger toward me because I fired him. Surprisingly, I was wrong. Three years later, not only did this kid recognize me, but he remembered my name. When I answered his questions about my employment, he smiled.

"How are things going? Are you keeping busy?" He had a dozen questions. Then he gave me the back story that I normally don't get for former employees. He's back in school now - going to college for computer repair. He was upbeat, eager, and optimistic - a completely different person than I remembered.

I always hate firing people - it is my least favorite part of my job. Even in circumstances like this kid's where there is no good reason to maintain their employment, on some level I always feel bad for them.

This visit to Taco Bell was the highlight of my week. That kid's tenure in my class was a rough time in his life. It was good for me to know that what I knew to be a negative experience did not end up as dire as I imagined. All is well. Maybe I could learn a lesson from him.

12.07.2008

All things change

Welcome to my new layout. The old one was starting to drive me crazy. Internet Explorer was being difficult (burying my profile, links, and archives at the bottom of the page) and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. Other than that, the all-black thing was getting old. Yeah, well you know, grey is my favorite color (I just felt so symbolic).

All things change, including my blogs. It's the same old random thoughts with a shiny new skin. I've also be rearranging one of my other blogs, What's Inside. (recently updated with a new post)

Keep checking back as the changes are still a work in progress. My own personal links are here, but I'm still working on the blogroll (feel free to drop a note if you have a site you'd like me to include). The spaces below my traffic counters (on the left and currently filled with gibberish) will be used, so be watching for that. Also - a big kudos to whoever noticed the shameless pop culture reference in this post.

12.03.2008

guest-posting & technorati

My post today is really a guest contribution on my sister-in-law's blog. It's a splendid story from my hometown... And while you're there, dig through some of Miriam's older posts. She's a wonderfully quirky writer.



In other news, I've recently discovered that (according to technorati) my blog has a rank of 885,701. Not that it's really noteworthy, or something to feel special about. All I learned is that there are 885,700 blogs deemed (by technorati) more important than mine. Hooray!

12.01.2008

The holiday diet

Weight loss plan, Day 1: 186 pounds.

Am I crazy for wanting to start losing weight during the holidays?

11.30.2008

Shoulda Hadda V8

Does any body remember those old V8 commercials where people were walking around with their entire body tilted at an angle, all except for the one person who drank a V8 that morning?

I saw someone walk into church like that this morning.

11.27.2008

10 things I'm thankful for today.

10. I am thankful that my son joyously ate carrots and cucumbers, two things I would not have eaten when I was his age. (or begrudgingly if I did indeed eat them)

9. I am thankful that Starbucks was open this morning.

8. I am thankful for my father-in-law, who not only discovered #9, but also delivered my white chocolate mocha.

7. I am thankful that I found my MP3 player while cleaning this week. I now have something to listen to when I go for a walk.

6. I am thankful for my wife's apple pie. I don't like apple pie... but dang she makes good apple pie.

5. I am thankful that the Seahawks won today. Just kidding on that last one. They lost... horribly. In fact, both of my favorite teams lost today. What I am thankful for is underdogs. I am one. I like rooting for them... even when they have no hope to win.

4. I am thankful that my brother-in-law won at Monopoly. Granted, he cheated several times... but if it helps him feel better about himself, I'm all for it.

3. I am thankful that the girls slept in today.

2. I am thankful for snow. No, it didn't snow today. Not really. But it's coming. Soon.

1. And finally, I am thankful for my wife who puts up with all of my failures, shortcomings, and idiosyncrasies. I am thankful that she doesn't let let me settle for lowered expectations. She has made me a better man.

11.22.2008

Back in Time

If I had been born ten years earlier, I would have been the biggest Bon Jovi fan ever.

11.17.2008

Heavenly

Tonight, I indulged in a delicacy I haven't had since... Well? Probably haven't had since junior high or high school.

A Grilled Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Sandwich. Mmmmmmm.

Ooh, and Eggnog. Indeed, the holidays have begun. Grilled PB&M + Eggnog = me a happy man.

11.16.2008

Why is the modern church so afraid of socialism?

And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; and they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord's Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people.

Acts 2:44-47a (Amp)

11.14.2008

Human blunder

I am continually amazed at how stupid people can be. Why does God even bother with us?

Oh yeah. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish..."

My bad. Carry on.

11.12.2008

Does anyone know how...

An anonymous commenter has been leaving repeated comments on my abortion post. For a while I humored them. While I radically disagree with their point of view, I do respect their opinion. While they used their christian "right to admonish" by throwing in holier-than-thou attacks on me (in their words "you should be very ashamed of yourselves"), my little sister in Dallas and my dad in Cheyenne both came to my defense. Now, I must make a point here, both my dad and Sarah were McCain supporters. Well, here is how it went.

Anon: It was the Evangelical vote that put Obama over the top. So, thank you Casey family for helping usher in darker times.
As Christians you should be very ashamed of yourselves, as all Christians who chose "change" over Christ's teaching.
Love one another, yes. But God would have us stand on what He taught rather than sooth over people's feelings.
Obama is not going to change this country for the better, no matter how much you "believe" in him.
If the Evangelicals (the ones who say they are and the ones who are) would vote into office Godly men, yes abortion could be ENDED! IF we voted in Godly men our schools could once again teach Christ and the next generation would love, instead of hate.
But, as you can see, your pocket book won out, just like so many of those who say they love Jesus.

Sarah: Who are YOU to judge Mr.Casey's faith? Who are YOU to judge how Christian he is? From what I understand through everything I have studied in the Bible, we are NOT to judge. I am pleading that you spend some time catching up on 1Peter.
Why should he and other Christians who voted for president-elect Obama be "ashamed of themselves"? It is judgmental and unkind things, like you have posted yourself, that hurt our greater mission as bridge builders to help bring the community to a relationship with Christ. Christianity is INCLUSIVE and not exclusive....God loves everyone no matter who they choose to vote for and Mr.Casey DOES love God. Infact he helped lead me to God and I will be forever grateful. So please prayerfully consider what to post before you hurt the greater mission Jesus set us out to accomplish. Thank you.

Anon: AS a Christian brother and you as a sister, I have the right to admonish you for going agianst ALL that God teaches.
Reaching out is just fine, but acting like the sinner, to win them over is not. Jesus did not act like the people he reached out to, he told them they were wrong,(the people he drove out of the temple ring a bell?)
The people we are reaching for want love and support, but as much as they want that, the need to know right and wrong.
I do not appologize for stating the truth.
There is a big difference between judging someone, and showing them they are doing something wrong.

Sarah: When you said: "As Christians you should be very ashamed of yourselves, as all Christians who chose "change" over Christ's teaching. " AND "as you can see, your pocket book won out, just like so many of those who say they love Jesus."
You crossed the line from your own spiritual discernment to being judgmental. Keep in mind while I am not an Obama supporter I did not for a second judge or question Mr. Casey's Christianity. Marlin did not question Mr. Casey's faith either.
The definition of "admonish"- to counsel or warn in a good-natured manner.
That was not a warning or a reminder...nor was it in a good nature.
We as Christians should NEVER play the "holier than thou" card which you did when you QUESTIONED Mr. Casey's faith. As Christians we must stop trying to out-Christian each other. Christians have NO ROOM to act or feel superior.

Dad: Dear anon person: As the father of the author of this blog, allow me to share some reactions to your writings. While I know nothing about your life experiences, I know that Nic has experienced some of life's happenings that no one should ever deserve. Have you, sir, spent the night trying to sleep in a hospital chair praying that your wife and unborn child make it to see sunlight of another day? That was a conscious choice they made in taking that risk rather than taking the baby to insure the mother lived. And it was a significant risk they took. To imply that Nic does not understand the role of fighting abortion is very personal to him. With some humor, that decision then to protect life also is the source of daily discipline he has to administer. Additionally, if one grandmother of his had chosen to have the result of a rape aborted, then he nor I would be present. Abortion in (as you put it)the Casey family is an oft-considered/talked about issue. I respectfully agree with Sarah about the attitude of your admonishment seemingly slightly harsher than necessary. Nowhere do I see that the assignment of "shame" that you indicate Nic and his like-thinkers should have as necessary. Personally, I think you were wishing that all Christians, regardless of how they view life or whatever circumstances they have experienced, thought and reacted and voted identical to yourself. Sorry, Christians, like individuals in regular society, are not designed to be cookie cutter images of each other, or like one particular person. My next point is your use of "ALL" in refering to what God teaches. Frankly, that made me belch some bad gas. It also reminded me of the fact that Jesus didn't act out that kind of attitude with individuals. Respectfully, as we were raising our kids, we allowed them to come to different solutions, different processes, and encouraged them to think through tough questions without them being expected to replicate our exact thinking. They have each successfully learned that process (images of Is. 1:16)and the freedom to arrive at their choices. That means that his mom and I also entrusted God to reprimand, mold, protect, and guide each of them in their decisions. It seems that God has a historical past of being far more trustworthy in delivering guidance than any of us parents. My same thinking applies to this election. Alot of people I know and have incredible confidence voted opposite of me. In fact, our family (kids and us) split our votes with 2 couples on each side of the ticket. I also know each of their reasons, and NONE of them represent blind duplicate populist voting patterns. That alone earns my respect. Specifically, I know and respect Nic's faith. He has experienced more in a few years of marriage in making difficult decisions than most of us encounter in an entire lifetime. Perhaps each of us would be better to experience a desire to understand and walk a mile in their shoes first than to simply wag a pointed finger and go tsk, tsk. Sir anon, I wish you well. Probably, your value of a pro-life stance and mine match extremely close. However, "love one another" sometimes is painful and never is it automatically implanted that it would be convenient---if with a fellow Christian.

Anon: My point with this subject is that Christians who voted for this man that claims to be a Christian, did not look at the truth of the matter. They did not search out what what best for all concerned.
I may not think exactly like you or the Casey family, but as "Christains" we should be like minded. Knowing that this man is going to sign into law the "Freedom of Choice Act" the minute he gets in office was enough to make ANY person who believes shiver and weep. By voting this man into office, you have initaily signed the death warrent to millions more who don't have voices.
I commend Nic and his wife for keeping their son. He is a beautiful image of God. But sir, how many are now going to die because the Christain right did not get off their behinds and defeat this man?
That is where I was going with this post.
Yes, Nic is very capable to vote like he wants to, but when it brings this kind of horror, I say shame, shame, shame.
The people of Jeremiah's time didn't like his message either, but God sent it anyway.
I love my brothers and sisters, but can say very seriously that they did not do God's will when it came to voting for that person.

Now at this point, Sarah sent me a myspace message apologizing for fighting with this person on my blog. Personally, I found it amusing. (Call me shallow, but enjoy seeing the know-it-all personalities confronted.) But after three comments (filled with spite that I find damaging to the message of the gospels) I had enough. So, I told Sarah I would delete any future comments from Anonymous and left a final comment.

Me: Mr/Ms Anonymous, if I have any shame, I am ashamed that there are thousands of Christians (like yourself) preaching a message of fire, brimstone, condemnation, and wrath - a message that chases away those who may be desperately searching for God (and possibly searching for an alternative to abortion).
The "abortion is murder" message (while true) has never convinced anyone out of an abortion. Lovingly offering alternatives has. Your ban-abortion crusade, while noble, accomplishes nothing. It does nothing but turn hearts cold against the true hope we have in Christ.
While I appreciate (and commend) Christians who ardently oppose abortion. I believe there is a better way. We will more effectively save one child at at time than trying (and failing) to save them all.
But you can keep preaching shame if you want. We'll see how well that works for you.


But of course, Anonymous has to have the last word (I thought I was being nice). How dare there be any autonomy with in the body of Christ. How dare anyone disagree with her. Naturally (keeping my promise to Sarah) I deleted that comment. Anonymous posted yet another comment "Sad, Nic... Sad." I deleted that one as well. But, now (in their eyes) not only am I a pagan for voting for Obama, but now I have comitted the evil sin of censorship. She left on final comment (and by final, I promise I WILL delete any more comments regardless of content) : "Nic, I thought you believed in freedom of expresion? I guess not."

Get your own blog. How's that for freedom of expression.



Now that the exchange is over, I have a dilemma. In the first comment I deleted, Anonymous posted her belief that a message of love misrepresents the gospel and that the gospel message is one of fire and brimstone (according to John 3:16). I wholeheartedly believe that is the worst possible interpretation of that passage, and that she fails to understand that "gospel" means "good news" and not "go to Hell." It's probably a good thing that I deleted that comment, but part of me wishes I hadn't, just so others can see how gloriously wrong that point of view is.

I didn't permanently delete the comment (like I usually do). Does anyone know if it is possible to undelete a non-permanently deleted comment?

11.08.2008

Best song you've never heard

From one of the greatest artists you've never heard: Steve Taylor. (This gem is a concert video from 1983... which might explain the sport coat)





As a side note... those of you who may have been critical of my faith and/or political views over the last couple of weeks might want to google the lyrics to this song. It's called "I Want to be a Clone." Read it. Might do you some good. And for the record, I refuse to do something because it's the "Christian" thing to do. I care more about making my will match God's than making His will match mine.

11.07.2008

The joys of magnetic poetry (finally a non-political post)

Dear Bubba,

Uncle stole truck because single tractor fetch big woman.
Mama busted the toilet over here, Why else Granny wear red britches?
American redneck possum don’t bite family, but they do love your fried goat manure.
My fish ain’t dang chicken meat, Tape up your belch duct!

Sincerely,

Junior

11.06.2008

Idaho turning blue?

Up until election eve, Bekah was more or less undecided. She didn't like either of the primary candidates, and nothing either has said over the last couple of months has impressed her. Four years ago, Bekah's older sister voted for Nader - not because she though Nader was a good candidate, or because she thought he had a shot at winning. No, that vote for Nader was her protest of the two party system. On Monday night, as Bekah and I discussed how we were planning to vote (the who and why of everything), Bekah came to the conclusion that she would join in her sister's partisan protest.

As we drove away from the polls on Tuesday, she admitted to voting for anyone who had the party "IND" next to their name... with one exception.

"I voted for Obama." She has her reasons. I think she voted democrat just to see how close Idaho could come to turning blue.

11.03.2008

Abortion: AKA Why This Pro-Lifer is Voting for Pro-Choice Obama

Over the weekend, a good friend of mine berated me for my presidential choice, listing off several predictable (and easily debunked) conservative talking points about the evils of Barack Obama. He flat out said that he can not support someone who is in favor of full-term/partial-birth abortions & post-abortion infanticide. I would agree with him, except the belief that Obama is in favor of those things is speculative... if not plain silly. In another conversation this weekend, one of my best friend’s mother stated that it is sinful to vote for Obama. She continued to deny Oboma’s claim to Christianity because of his views on abortion. (something along the lines that he is a liar, and true Christian will recognize that)

Does Obama have a pro-choice stance? Yes. Does that mean he wants to kill a bunch of babies? No. To believe that he does is foolish. So, what is Obama’s stance on abortion? He wants pro-life and pro-choice advocates to work together to reduce the number of abortions. That sounds like a good plan… right? Doesn’t logic demand that a reduction in abortions performed in the US satisfy both camps? Pro-choicers maintain their goal of freedom for women to choose, and pro-lifers preserve the sanctity of life.

Please, understand that I am not taking a pro-choice stance. I am still against abortions. I have heard from several women who have admitted that getting an abortion was the worst mistake they’ve ever made. But, I’ve also heard from other women that have no regrets from a past abortions. I do not agree that an abortion is the best answer for an unwanted baby. But the law is what it is – for better or worse Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. As a Christian voter, I have come to believe Roe v. Wade will never be annulled. It is time that Christians re-think how we approach abortion.

Several years ago, a friend of mine in Boise went to an abortion presentation set up in her church’s basement. The presentation was a walk-through (almost museum like) display showing pictures of aborted babies, horror stories of botched abortions, and lists of why abortion is evil. The display was filled with reasons not to get an abortion, but no alternatives; it was filled with condemnation and accusations of murder, but no attempt at forgiveness or reconciliation. She walked away heartbroken and in tears - what none of us knew (until then) is that she had an abortion and never told a soul. She never went back to that church. In his song What It’s Like, Everlast sings about the stereotypical religious righteous indignation many pro-lifers are known for: “Then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin' through the doors. They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore.”

Rather than condemning the act of abortion, we should be more proactive in offering alternatives. Instead of shaming women who have had an abortion, we should be offering support. Rather than calling women who have had an abortion “whores” we should be offering post-abortion counseling to women who need it. And instead of wasting our efforts trying to repeal a law that will never be overturned, we should be focusing (like Obama) on reducing the occurrences of abortions.

I will never morally agree with abortion. But, I believe that we can work to end abortions with out banning the practice. I believe that we can preserve and value the life of the unborn with out endless political fighting. As long as our government leaders focus on legally ending abortion, we will never see an end to abortion. If Barack Obama can reduce how often abortions are performed in America, then he has a better plan to meet my pro-life interests.

10.30.2008

Happy Halloween!

Enjoy these scarrrrrry videos. (Warning, the following videos contain some sarcasm, mild obscenities, and more racist idiots than I can tolerate.)

How is Sarah Palin dressing up for Halloween? Check her receipts from Sacs 5th Avenue. (hint: it might have something to do with Michael Jackson...)
Project Beltway

This is what it's like in a "real American" town.
Understanding Real America in Wasilla

This is how "real Americans" behave. If these are what Palin/McCain refer to as "real Americans" from "real small-town America" I will gladly call myself unAmerican.


Please get out and vote on Tuesday.

10.22.2008

Going the opposite of "green"

n the days of going green in an eco-conscious culture... and in the days of cutting costs in a fragile economy… One might think Albertsons might do something to shorten their receipts.

For a purchase of a croissant and a Rock Star energy drink, I’m handed a receipt the length of a standard computer keyboard.

10.17.2008

Other side of the bathroom wall

Am I the only one creeped out when a low strained voice from the occupant of a neighboring bathroom stall says "Oh, yeah"...

Or when the same voice a minute later starts singing opera?

10.07.2008

Where the heck have I been?

Good question.

Since returning from vacation, it's been a bit hectic. Trying to get caught up with and finish the class I'm teaching (and left behind so I could go to Boise)... A trip down to wine country (Walla Walla - not Napa Valley)... And we're moving this weekend.

All things considered... I haven't had much time to blog. I know that's a poor excuse. But Bekah has banned me from the internet until we are in the new house so that I can help pack. (I cheating now... she's asleep)

Speaking of moving... Give me a call if you're free on Saturday.

9.28.2008

Boise

I have a love/hate relationship with Boise. Every time I visit the City of Trees, I simultaneously wish I could move back and remember all of the reasons I moved away. I miss the people and the culture, but I despise the climate and scenery. We visit, and Bekah says we should move back down there... but then she says her sister should move back up here. To sum it up: Boise is simultaneously the best and worst place to vacation.

On the plus side...

*This is the first real vacation we've had in a long time. We usually use our vacation to be camp councilors, but that's more work than it is R&R.
* I've continued reading through Velvet Elvis, and the book has continued to challenge my perspectives.
* Yesterday morning Christian randomly said, "a triangle has three sides and three angles, and when you add four that equals seven." He knows has known his shapes as long as he's known how to talk, but the arithmetic is a new thing. I'm amazed that he can do simple math, but can't yet button his own pants.
* Our trip to the zoo was one of the best zoo experiences we've ever had. It was sunny, the kids behaved, most of the animals we out (they often hide), and I took some good pictures. Over all, I'm pleased. (BTW, if bears could ride buses, the sloth bear would ride the short bus.)
* Christian's souvenir from the zoo was a stuffed monkey. He named it Moo.
* I texted a co-worker on Friday to see how my class went without me. In reference to the trainer that was covering for me: "She hasn't said it went badly."
* We had Flying Pie for Dinner last night. Oh how I wish there was a Flying Pie in Coeur d'Alene. (On an odd note: Flying Pie has a 310 pound ball of tin foil in their waiting area. I know some Cd'A locals who could put that tin foil to good use.) If you are visiting Boise - I highly recommend getting some Flying Pie.

On the downside...

*I know I may be the only one who sees this as a downside, but it is hot here.

We're waiting on the day to cool off before doing anything today. Maybe head back to Kathrine Albertsons Park, or head downtown, or keep loafing around with Bekah's older sister.

9.23.2008

Mountain Dew has made me bipolar

At the beginning of class yesterday afternoon, I placed my half-consumed Mountain Dew on my desk. Sometime during the next half hour, I misplaced my Mountain Dew. I looked in my office, in my classroom, the breakroom, our operations floor... couldn't find it anywhere. That made me sad.

Two of the students in my class felt bad for me. During our lunch break, they bought me a new Mountain Dew. That made me happy. It really doesn't take much to make me happy; I'm really a simple creature.

9.22.2008

Music Catalogs

I have undertaken the immense task of organizing my MP3 collection. Key words: immense and collection. I'm going alphabetically by artist - sorting the stuff I like into playlists/deleting the crap I don't like - and it is going to take a while. I started in July; currently I am only part way through the B's. Any guesses when I'll be done?

The last few weekends have been devoted to sorting through artist's entire catalogs. Two weeks ago it was The Beatles. Last weekend was Beck. This weekend was Ben Folds. Who will it be next weekend?

NO ONE! That's because we'll be on vacation in Boise. My project will continue upon return. Next on my list is Ben Harper.

Worse comes to worst, you can blame my infrequent postings on my music obsessions.

9.15.2008

Genius in practice

Now THIS is how you mow a lawn!


(That's B-wack from David Crowder band. I wish I was cool enough to play Wii Tennis while mowing my lawn.)

9.13.2008

Tougher in leather

Three posts in four weeks. Is that a good pace for bloggers? That's what I've got going on my newest blog. I don't know if it's a good pace or not, but I feel like I'm off to a good start. That being said, check out that third post. (and see a picture of me in leather pants!)

And while I'm feeling lazy - substituting links to my other blog in lieu of actual content on this blog... allow me to direct you to a recent post on yet another one of my blogs. Enjoy.

9.10.2008

Five finger discounts

While teaching my class about some of our promotions, I say - "That will give our customers a five dollar discount."

One of the girls in the class asks - "Isn't that stealing?"

9.07.2008

Not who I want for a vice president

While digging around on Snopes, I found a letter written (and confirmed true by Snopes) written by a Wasilla, Alaska resident. The more I know about Sarah Palin, the less I like her.

one of the choicest tidbits was this gem: "She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million."

The rest of her letter outlines Sarah's abuse of power, lack of experience, petty and retaliatory political actions, and how little she resembles the social and fiscal conservative the McCain team is trying to make her.

You can read the full letter here. (The first bit sounds like praising support of a wonderful candidate, but then it goes downhill.) While the author of this letter may sound bitter, it brings up a reoccurring theme in Palin's potential to be second in command to the most powerful nation on earth.

Is this the person you want pulling the strings from the Oval Office if John McCain's old age catches up with him?




***And a note for those that claim she's the only candidate with true executive experience and therefore the most qualified candidate to be president (even more so than McCain) just remember that both Bush Jr and Clinton were governors before they became president... that didn't really work out so good for us now, did it?

8.31.2008

FOX News' moving target

Has any one noticed that Geraldo Rivera is always in the path of impending doom?

Anytime a destructive hurricane threatens impact with the Gulf Coast, who does FOX News send for on-the-scene reporting to where the storm makes landfall? Geraldo Rivera. A giant tsunami is on a collision course with Santa Monica, who will FOX send to be the man-on-the-beach? Geraldo Rivera. A new breed of man-eating crocodile is discovered in the sewers of New York City, who will FOX send creature hunting in the effluent deep? Geraldo Rivera. Rouge packs of Yellowstone grizzlies ingested a bunch of meth, who will FOX send to go dancing with a bunch of bears desperate for another fix? You guessed it - Geraldo Rivera.

Does the man have a death wish? Or is he really that annoying that FOX News is trying to get rid of him. Firing him takes too much paperwork, and the severance package too costly – eh, just place him in harms way. Statistically speaking, he's bound to get blown away in one eye-of-the-storm or another.


I hope that man's life insurance is paid up.

8.27.2008

Real life conversation

An agent in my class had some errands to run during class time, and wanted to know if she could be gone for a couple of hours. I was feeling a bit ornery. Here's how the conversation went.

Her: Nic, what are we doing tomorrow.
Me: I can't tell you.
Her: (Raises eyebrow)
Me: But I can tell you it involves squirrels.
Her: What? (confused look)
Me: Squirrels. We will be playing with squirrels.
Her: (Tilts head to side like a baffled puppy, looks at another agent in the class)
What?
Other agent: He said we're working with squirrels.
Me: (Unable to maintain my blank expression, begin laughing) I was just kidding.
Her: Oh.
Me: Are you going to be gone tomorrow?
Her: No, I just need to leave about 8:30... and be gone for about an hour - hour and a half.
Me: ¿Por qué?
Her: I have some stuff to take care of.
Me: (Tilts head to side like a baffled puppy)
Her: I Just wanted to know what I was going to miss.
Me: OK. Well, we'll be reviewing the final test, going over your scores, practicing special order types, going on a nature walk...
Her: WHAT?!?
Me: A nature walk, we're going on a nature walk.
Her: (Looks at other agent)
Other agent: (Shrugs)
Me: (Poker face increasingly difficult to keep, begin laughing... again) I wasn't serious about that last part.
Her: Oh. (Awkward pause) So, will I be in trouble if I'm gone for a little bit tomorrow.
Me: Absolutely.
Her: Really? Are you serious?
Me: Only as much as I was about the squirrels.

My life in music

Post #2 is up. Check it out.

8.16.2008

Two for the post of One

1. I am relaunching one of my given-up-on blogs. It's first incarnation was designed in hopes to shine a light on the things that kept me entertained. After a few posts, I stopped. Well, it's revived... with a few tweaks. I'll be digging up old family photos, telling old stories, and talking about the music that has molded me. (Warning, I walk to the beat of a very different drum.) You can find my first post HERE. Hopefully, I keep this one going.


2. It is not often that I get to pimp a friend's blog... and even more rare that I pimp a blog from a member of my family. My sister-in-law in Boise recently started three blogs (and I thought I was crazy). Check out her main blog, Dancing with Dragons; she's got links to her other two blogs there. And she posts a lot... I'm so excited!

8.11.2008

Random thought of the day

If dandelions could breed like animals, ... they'd be doing it like bunnies.

8.09.2008

Perfect Protest

The Olympics have begun. Over the last few months, several have urged a boycott. And we've seen many protests during the last few weeks.

Is there reason to protest? Sure. But I do not believe the Chinese government will be swayed by any protest or boycott. So, while noble in intent, protests like the recent demonstration by Brandi Swindell in Tiananmen Square and her urges for boycotts accomplish nothing.

The US (and other nations) should not boycott the Olympics; it would be foolish for any nation to not participate. There is no good reason for fans at home to avoid watching any of the events or ceremonies.

I should clarify one thing. We should protest... but not with "Free Tibet" signs, or boycotts, or chanting, or handing out pamphlets listing the atrocities committed by the Chinese. We should protest through athletic competition.

The best way we could protest China's human rights violations is by going to the games, competing, and kicking China's ass.*




* (please excuse my language... I really couldn't think of a more appropriate expression)

7.17.2008

Seriously?!?

The old man across the street mows his lawn every other day. That's 3 - 4 times a week! He doesn't break it up into sections, doing a little each day. No, he mows all of it. Each time. I can imagine him in his yard with a ruler every morning "Honey, the grass is an eighth of an inch taller than it was yesterday... time to mow again." Of course he's British, so it'd be more "Honey, the grass is three millimeters taller than it was yesterday... time to mow again."

It's good for him, because he's retired. He has the free time and probably needs the exercise. But I work 40+ hours a week, go to school full time, and have an active toddler that needs near constant attention/supervision/entertainment. How, in the name of all that is good an holy, am I supposed to keep up with frequent-mower man? It shouldn't be a big deal. Except, he's in charge of our Home Owner's Association. And he's complaining about how our yard has clover in it.

I hate HOAs. Especially the HOAs that are controlled by retirees with nothing better to do than spy on their neighbors or find things to complain about. Are all HOAs like that, or just ours?

7.14.2008

Unsolved mysteries

The bathroom in our office has bugs. Actually, make that bug – as in singular. I’ve never seen more than one of those tiny little flying things in that bathroom. What kind of bug is it? I have no idea. It’s too small to be a fly or a tick. A flea maybe? Or a gnat? I don’t know. My biggest concern is that there is only one. And if you kill it, another one appears.

Maybe it’s a zombie bug – an undead insect. There’s no way you could kill such a creature. But if it was a zombie bug, where all the other bugs? There’s no such thing as a lone zombie. If it was a zombie – there’d be a horde of them looking to infect others with their zombie virus.

What happened to all the other bugs? Maybe they’re cannibal bugs – eating their own kind. Like a microscopic king-of-the-hill game where the losers all become dinner. But that doesn’t explain why a new bug appears after one is killed. Or why only one reappears instead of several.

Maybe they’re zombie-cannibal bugs. That would solve both paradoxes. Then again, that explanation sounds like the title to a low-budget b-movie sci-fi flick. “ATTACK OF THE KILLER ZOMBIE-CANNIBAL INSECTS FROM OUTER SPACE” Heck, it might even be a bit more believable than some other movies I’ve seen.




I should move to Hollywood…

7.08.2008

OK, so I'm a little slow getting this up. Busy weekend... Overloaded from school and work... Naw, I'm just lazy. Well, better late than never. Enjoy the pics.

7.03.2008

Summer Reading

The books from Family Phil's contest finally arrived. I'll be busy reading for a while. I started with The Film Club last night in bed, intending to fall asleep after a couple of chapters. I finally stopped myself about halfway through the book. Insomnia - good fun.

Two of the books are going to my father, that leaves another nine, plus Velvet Elvis (which I just started last week) to keep me busy this summer.

6.23.2008

Today is the day that I ______.

I hit a milestone today, cause for (mild) celebration. I set a new record high for unique visitors (I passed my previous record for page views last week). So June '08 is officially my highest month for traffic - in page views, visits, and unique visits. And the month's not over yet. So, please forgive me if I coast for a few days.

6.20.2008

If video killed the radio star, what killed the video star?

It's funny how "firsts" can be so accurate in setting the tone of something new.

Like the first song ever broadcast on Seattle's 107.7 The End: REM's It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine). In essence they were saying "the world is ending, we're the End, so just be happy about it and listen to some music." Perfect.

Another trivial pop culture nugget, and eerie predictive first was on MTV. The first video ever played on MTV was Video Killed the Radio Star by Buggles. The song serves to bring back a certain happy sense of nostalgia, but it was weirdly true to my generation; many of my peers abandoned radio in devotion to this "new" medium. MTV set the standards for what was "cool" in music, and many of my friends couldn't wake up without watching an hour of music videos before school.

Now I can't help but wonder what went wrong in a world where "Music Television" hardly plays any music.

In it's heyday - video killing the radio was fairly true. But what if MTV was created today. I'm sure the first song they play would be something along the lines of Reality Killed the Video Star.

6.17.2008

In review: Viva La Vida

Coldplay is one of those bands that everyone likes, but few are willing to admit it. Their first single, Yellow, was one of the few memorable songs that created instant bewilderment and appreciation. I’ll admit it – I’m a fan, and I have been since they first hit American radio. Over the last few weeks, their newest single has been featured in Apple’s commercials as an iTunes exclusive. And every time I see that commercial, I’m humming “That was when I ruled the world” to myself for the next couple of hours. Those dang iPod commercials. However, Viva La Vida became the first album in… I can’t remember how long that I’ve been excited about, and Best Buy became a (regretfully) essential destination today.

The opening (mostly instrumental) track, Life in Technicolor, sets the tone of the album. Coldplay is trying to make a statement: they fully intend to be a great band. In any other (current) band, this type of aspiration may seem pretentious. Yet, Viva La Vida is genuine, musically ambitious, and filled with sonic dynamics as Chris Martin and crew guides the listener across an auditory play land that is equally familiar and foreign.

Much remains from previous Coldplay efforts. The band stays true to their formula of driving acoustic rhythms coupled with U2 styled electric guitar riffs. Chris has kept his bi-polar vocal styling – swinging back and forth from hauntingly lulling balladeer to leader of anthemic choruses and sing-a-longs. And yet again I (willingly) suffer a bit of musical whiplash as Coldplay exhibits their tendency to begin with a funeral dirge and finish with joyous momentum; as best displayed in the fourth track 42.

Lyrically, the band remains introspective while leaving the songs’ true meanings open for interpretation. Thematically, the album seems to tackle grief and mourning. Some one once told me that funerals and memorials have three purposes: to remember those we lost, to celebrate life, and to reflect our own mortality. Viva La Vida clearly explorers all three of those aspects of remembrance. From the title track (Spanish for Living Life) to the closing track Death and All His Friends, the lyrics balance between hope and lament.

The band stays faithful to their influences without mimicking their inspirations. They’ve borrowed from some of the greatest (U2, The Cure, Radiohead, The Who, The Beatles) and made a sound uniquely their own. Viva La Vida is purely authentic Coldplay, as they blend their addictive melodies and Britpop genius with tribal drumming and symphonic groove. With Viva La Vida, Coldpay is four for four in releasing great albums. This is a band that has yet to reach a sophomore slump and hopefully never will.

I highly recommend Viva La Vida for any fan of music – even the most jaded music snobs who believe they have the most superior tastes in music.

6.16.2008

Crummy Church Signs

For today's post, I'd like to direct your attention to someone else's blog. I am one of the contributers in today's post @ Crummy Church Signs. while you're there, enjoy a laugh and Joel's comentary on one of our local church's church sign.

6.13.2008

'lil man is an artist

Meet my son...he's going to be an artist when he grows up.


This, according to Christian... is an elephant.


I won't tell you what Christian said this was...but, to me, it looks like a sheep's head.
(If you want to know he called it, you'll have to ask me in private.)


Yes, I know...he's special.

6.11.2008

'lil man is a young thug

Not really, but he sure can look like one.

6.09.2008

getting here from Google

Search by "Nicholas Casey" - no link on the first page of results.
Search by "Nic Casey" - Third link on first page.
Search by "Ryan Jabaay" - #1 result! (out of about 12,300)

6.06.2008

to be young and dumb

When I was in high school, the Arby’s in Ellensburg Washington was a frequent stop for our youth group during our spring and fall road trips to NNU. A typical trip would start with us leaving Marysville on a Wednesday after school, travelling over the pass, stopping for dinner in Ellensburg (most of us chose Arby’s), then camping in the basement of our youth pastor’s old church in Pendleton Oregon. We would finish the drive into Nampa Thursday morning with a brief stop for breakfast at the Blue Moon Café in La Grande (not the best food but worth a visit to see the model railway that runs throughout the restaurant). The trip back to Marysville on Sunday was a full-day's drive with a quick lunch break in Pendleton.

So, two times a year we would eat at the Arby’s in Ellensburg. And two times a year we would get kicked out of the Arby’s in Ellensburg. Strangely, on each occasion, we were instructed to never return. Lucky for us, the attrition within Arby’s was high enough that the staff was completely new by the time we returned.

We weren’t really bad kids. Most of us grew up in the same church. And we usually tried to stay out of trouble. But for one weekend in October, and again in May, we were on a road trip without parental supervision. It was glorious.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t perfect angels. We were obnoxious. And every time we were kicked out, it was fully deserved.

But the way the seating area is laid out at that particular Arby’s is an invitation for disaster. There is a raised middle dining area with sunken seating areas on all three sides. The side areas are separated from the middle section by large planters. As further motivation for a bunch of mischievous teenagers, most of the dining area is obscured from the view of the registers.

What would you do if you were an Arby’s employee and you had a group of customers who:

* Started chanting “Tastes great!” and “Less filling!” from opposite sides of the restaurant
* Played an impromptu game of volleyball by spitting ice cubes over the planters
* Used the squirt bottles of ketchup, horsey sauce, and Arby’s sauce to create “art” on the tables
* Sat by themselves at various tables but carried on conversations as if they were sitting together
* Sang a loud (and off key) rendition of “99 bottles of beer”
* Excused the obnoxious behavior of a friend by saying he suffered from that disease that makes you age four times faster “he may look like he’s 16, but he’s really four!”

Yeah, I’d have kicked us out.

6.05.2008

Insomnia: Good News, Bad News

Bad news: I couldn’t sleep last night.

Good news: I watched the entire first season of The Office

And now that I've been up all night watching The Office, it's time for a day of work at the office.

6.04.2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday RR&RT

Oops, I breezed right through my third bloggiversary with out noticing. I new my first post was sometime in June of 2003, but I forgot that it was June 1st. Silly me.

Well, help me celebrate my blog's third birthday... even if it is a few days late. And, while it's nothing to brag about, you can read my first ever blog post HERE.

Boy, I've come a long ways in the last three years...

6.03.2008

In defense of a drunkard?

On the evening of Monday, May 26th, Ryan Jabaay sped through a red light at the intersection of 4th Street and I-90 in Coeur d’Alene. His truck hit a car carrying a mother and her two sons – killing the younger boy. Jabaay was drunk.

To further complicate the tragedy, Jabaay left the scene of the accident. I don’t know if he was running in fear, or if he was running for help. Either way, he will be facing charges for fleeing the scene as well as a DUI. And if this wasn’t enough, this accident was not Jabaay’s first DUI.

I first read about the accident when Dave Olivera posted the Police Department’s press release the next morning. You can read his post HERE, along with several comments. Those comments are quite provocative and are the reason I am writing. I’ll summarize the comments, but you can read through the thread yourself by clicking the link to Dave’s post.

I (like many others in our community) recognized the tragedy for what it is – heartbreak for a family who lost their son, and hopefully a wakeup call for the drunk driver. The first few comments on Dave’s blog were expected notes of sympathy and outrage. One commenter even called Jabaay a monster.

But then a funny thing happened. A week later, friends of Jabaay started posting comments in support of Jabaay – many of them mentioning that Jabaay is a really good guy and all of them saying something along the lines of “WE LOVE YOU RYAN.”

I don’t mind people showing support to a friend who made a mistake, but they appeared to be justifying (or at least excusing) his mistake of driving drunk. I am angered. Not at Ryan Jabaay for his blatant disregard for life when he decided to drive drunk, but at the dozens of comments that seem to shrug it off as if Ryan is the true victim.

Here’s a quick rundown of comments justifying/excusing Ryan’s descision.
· Alcoholism is a disease and he needs help
· He’s hard enough on himself, so he doesn’t need any one saying bad stuff about him
· Only God can judge him
· Drunk driving isn’t the only cause of fatal driving accidents (this person compared drunk driving to someone who isn’t aware that they have epilepsy and has a seizure while driving)
· Many people drive drunk and don’t get caught
· No one took the keys from Ryan because all of his friends live far away in a small town in Washington
· Those criticizing Ryan for driving drunk needs a lesson in humility
· Everyone makes mistakes – the only person that was ever perfect was Jesus
· This is only his second DUI, but his father had three (this person also said perhaps the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read: “and I also understand that most likely every person reading this has put lives in danger like him. But wait.. you're not wrong for doing that unless you actually injure or kill someone...RIGHT??”)

And my personal favorite…
· IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE

Seriously? I felt sickened after reading through all of the comments from Jabaay’s friends. I actually feel less sympathy for Jabaay now than I did when I first read about the accident. The following is my reply to all of them. (this part is cross-posted in the comments section on HBO)



To the friends of Ryan Jabaay

It is nice that you all want to show your support to Ryan – he is lucky to have friends like you. Although, I think it would be more productive to write letters directly to him in jail. One of you mentioned he’d probably never read this thread, don’t you think letters written to him personally would be far more meaningful than the random anonymous postings here? At least he’d be far more likely to read them.

But before you rallied up your troops in GI Joe gear to show him support or garner some measure of sympathy, you probably should have come up with a more cohesive strategy.

Most of you keep trying to explain what a good guy Ryan was, but I can’t wrap my brain around that description of him. If he really was a good guy he would not have gotten into his truck drunk. We have cab services all over Coeur d’Alene that could have driven him home.

And don’t try to use the “everybody’s driven drunk” excuse with me. It’s just not true. I’ve never been drunk behind the wheel. Never. Not once. I don’t buy that excuse, and neither would a court of law. Before I appeared before a judge for a speeding ticket nine years ago, the judge told the entire courtroom that he would not except “but other people were driving faster than me” as an adequate defense. If that defense doesn’t work for speeding, it won’t work for a DUI.

Speaking of strategies that won’t work in court… stop the “but he’s really a nice guy approach.” Face the facts. He drove drunk and killed a ten year old boy, and then he left the scene. There’s not a jury that will pity him just because he has a good heart.

One of you mentioned that he moved here in hopes to do positive things with his life. How is driving drunk a positive thing? And if he was moving here to start fresh, that tells me that he wasn’t doing positive things with his life there. That doesn’t jive with this good guy image you all want us to see.

And you are the company you keep. Many of you have admitted that you’ve driven after drinking. And if you are his closest friends – drunk driving sounds like his standard operating procedure. Since he all ready has one DUI, and driving while impaired seems to be normal for all of you, I’m having further doubts about how he could possibly be a good guy. I hope he learns from his mistake – but I hope all of you do as well.

Now, I’m not going to call him a bad man, or a monster. I do not know him, nor do I know what kind of person he is. But is human and as a man, he makes mistakes. We all make mistakes. But don’t expect me to feel sorry for him because we are all imperfect. I make mistakes every day. Mistakes come with consequences. I pay for my mistakes. Ryan needs to do the same. But what separates my mistakes from Ryan’s is that my mistakes have never resulted in the murder of an innocent stranger. And I will call it murder because it was not an accident. He made a choice that resulted in death. No one accidentally drives drunk. It just doesn’t happen.

And since you brought God into the argument, let’s take a look at how God views Ryan’s choices, his drunkenness, and the death he caused.
· You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)
· Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. (Exodus 21:12)
· Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21)
· It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones (children) to sin. (Luke 17:2)
· Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness (Romans 13:13)
· Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. (Ephesians 5:18)
I hope you get the point.

Finally, as a citizen, I am outraged at the loss of life caused by those who choose to drive drunk. This includes Ryan, but he is not the only one to cause such a tragic loss of life. Alcohol and vehicles don’t mix; I am sick and tired of people like Ryan who think otherwise.

But as a father who deeply knows the pain of losing a child, I am angered by the callous comments posted here by those of you who claim to be Ryan’s friends. To say we’re all as guilty as him is heartless and shows nothing but spite for the Frisbee family. To compare drunk driving to an epileptic seizure not only insults those who suffer from epilepsy, but is an affront on all who have lost a loved one to drunk driving. And Brittany’s comment that we all put lives in danger just like Ryan is more than simple naïveté, it is arrogant and pretentious.

Please show your support of your friend. But think before you write. And if you’re going to get drunk, don’t be an idiot – get a ride.