tag team training

This last week has been a great change of pace.

I have applied for and interviewed for a promotion. The position would be a great opportunity for me, but I'm 99% sure that it went to some one else. Nothing is set in stone and I likely won't know till mid week next week. If I had to place money on it I'd bet I didn't get it.

Most of my time this week has been devoted to the classroom. However, this current class is not mine, I've just been there to help out as needed. Usually that kind of situation stresses me out. Previously when I've combined classes with another trainer, one of the trainers sits in on my class, or I sit in on theirs it is awkward. There's nothing that will highlight differences in training styles than combining trainers.

About a year ago we planned on combining both of the day classes for three days of sales training. The other trainer was robotic, dominating, and somewhat tyrannical with a bad sense of humor. After the first day, my class was begging to not have to see or hear him ever again.

This week though has been great. I've never worked with another trainer whose style was so similar to mine. The agents think she's one of the best trainers ever and they like having me around. Sadly, it won't last forever, I've got my own class starting in a week.

Also in the training realm. For the last several months classes have been rough. While there are gems in each class, the general make up has been scraping the bottom of the gene pool. The classes that started this week has broken that trend, they are some of the most polite, professional, and put together new hires that I've seen in a long time. Even the skater and the rocker in this class are angels compared to my last couple of classes. I hope this trend continues.


sink vs. swim

Rules are easy. As long as you deal with absolutes. In matters of law... there's to much grey area. Not so easy.

Here's some interesting thoughts from Sphere of Hip-Hop in an article by Sintax the Terrific:
"Man can't know whether or not he is moral without the definition of what constitutes 'bad' and 'good' behavior, as provided in 'law.'... Christ, during His lifetime, explained dramatically, that the law is far more nuanced than we tend to perceive it. For example, laboring on the Sabbath. Christ made it clear that such a prohibition was nonsensical in application when it had the effect of denying assistance to a neighbor in need..."

The idea is that it is far to easy to look at the law and follow it strictly as to avoid the grey area, meanwhile we defeat the whole purpose of the law itself by failing to understand why the law even exists.

Sintax continues: "God's law is as much about conviction as it is about behavior... the rigors of 'Law' expose man's need for God because they are unattainable."

If the "law" is impossible to follow, how can I say that rules are easy? Sintax explains:
"Adherence to the strict letter of a rule, which dictates one behavior for all circumstance, is substantially easier than relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Godly wisdom to make a particularized application of a rule in varied situations... It is less difficult to refrain from drinking alcohol altogether than to drink sometimes but be accountable for assessing when you have consumed in excess or, even more subtle, when your drinking has negatively impacted another person.... It is less difficult to prohibit the purchase of guns than to teach people not to kill. It is less difficult to criminalize abortion than to teach people how to cherish life or to avoid unwanted pregnancy altogether."

Ooh, he mentioned the "A" word. Aside from my opinion that Roe vs. Wade was a horrible legal decision (a completely different conversation and one I'm probably not the most qualified to argue) and the moral differences between the pro-life and pro-choice philosophies, Sintax makes a statement I find intriguing. It's a thought I've never pondered - one worth consideration for those who oppose abortion.

"I have yearned for a reversal of Roe v. Wade/Casey v. Planned Parenthood, almost to the exclusion of all variety of other virtuous causes. I want a New Law to govern the issue. I want to require people not to have abortions. Unfortunately, I have been comparatively less interested in helping people choose not to have abortions or avoid having to choose in the first instance. It's simply been easier to hope for a ban of the activity altogether. I think my new dream is for Roe to remain. For the legal barriers to abortion to fall completely. For the doors of the clinics to be flung as wide as the hinge of law would allow. And, yet for the operating table to remain empty. And, for the clinics to stand quiet."

What would be easier? Outlaw abortion all together or let the law stand and devote our attention to teaching the value of life. What would be easier? To tell a woman that she can't have an abortion, or convince her why she shouldn't.

I think subconsciously, I have always understood this concept. During my classes, I teach all of the rules and regulations of our company and our business. I show all of the black and white of our products, services, and pricing. But once my classes graduate and start talking to customers, all of those rules turn to grey. I can't tell my students what to do except to use common sense and discretion.

What are we as Christians to do when life gives us grey? Search for Godly wisdom.

You can read Sintax the Terrific's article in its entirety @ New Law.


music news

Fresh from my yahoo headlines:

Deshaun Holton (rapper Proof of D-12) was shot and killed late last night/early this morning at a club in Detroit.

The older I get, the more and more I relate to hip hop, both music and culture. While I'm not a fan of Proof or of D-12, I do admit the amount of talent that will be missed.

Again it reminds me of what I want to do with my life, the dream that God has instilled in me. To see no more fallen heroes in music.

"I don't understand how a seed gets strangled in the heart of a man When the music covers like an evening mist like a watch still ticking on a dead man's wrist."
from Jim Morrison's Grave by Steve Taylor

Government Regulations

The following correspondence between the State of Michigan and some guy named Ryan DeVries is slightly amusing to some, and hilarious to others. At worst it is mildly entertaining. But for me what makes these letters so funny is that I could see my father doing something like this.

First, the letter from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:

SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Montcalm County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2005.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action. We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.


David L. Price,
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division

Then, Mr. DeVries actual response. (even if you think you know what he's going to say... keep reading):

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Montcalm County

Dear Mr. Price,

Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan. A couple of beavers are in the process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials "debris." I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity. My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or (2) do you require all beavers throughout this state to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

I have several concerns. My first concern is; aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2005? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!) Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.



For those of you that know my father... This is so like him.


two much cool for one day


Bekah and I periodically eat dinner at her parents place, and last night was one of those occasions.

If Italian food is being served and garlic bread is required, Bekah makes it. However last night Bekah and I were halfway to Spokane when the food was being prepared and Bekah's mom called for instructions: how do you make garlic bread?

Cut the bread lengthwise, in half. Melt a cube of butter, mix in granulated garlic and Italian seasoning. If you don't have Italian seasoning, use parsley and basil. Spoon the butter mixture onto the bread. Bake.

Dinner was wonderful, but the bread had no flavor. My father-in-law even lamented the lack of garlicishness. Mom's explanation was she used garlic but she must not have used enough. As dinner finished, Dad stood up to leave and noticed something out of place.

"Why are the sesame seeds out?" he asks. Apparently, the reason the garlic bread did not taste like garlic was caused by a liberal use of sesame seeds instead of granulated garlic.


One the way home Bekah and I encountered a rather bizarre accident. It was one of those sights that make you wish you had taken a picture because no one will believe you when you tell them what you saw.

The accident was most likely caused by someone who had drank a little too much. It was enough to require response from two police units, an EMT, fire truck, and two tow trucks for one car. All the commotion blocked the road to all southbound traffic on Ramsey, forcing us to take a detour to the freeway.

I didn't think it was possible but the car, a station wagon, had driven up the aerial drop of one of the utility lines. The car came to a stop at about a 70 degree angle, back bumper resting on the sidewalk, perfectly balanced on the cable. Who knew those phone wires were SO strong.

I don't know how it happened but I wish I was there to see it happen.

one more for good measure

We found an entertaining way to play Scategories. Instead of picking a list and everybody thinks up words from the same list, you pick a list and everyone thinks of words from a different lists... as long as it is not the list picked at the beginning of the round. When time runs out, everyone compares their wrong answers to the correct list and see who can come the closest to being coherent.

I apologize if that sounds confusing, but that is the best explanation I can think of right now. If you're like me and you suck at Scategories, give this version a try. It is an entertaining spin and who knows... you might fare better.