Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Celebrating Discipline

My church men's group will commence a new study built around Richard J. Foster's Celebration of Discipline, first published in 1978. It has been about that long since I read it. I have to ask what I would be like now, 30 years later, had I applied the disciplines Foster describes to my life.

But that was then, and this is now.

On page 5 of the edition I'm reading, Foster writes of "will worship," the worship of the will. He quotes from Col. 2:20-23, the KJV, which reads:

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.[My bold].

My mind went straight to David Allen! If I can just get my life arranged in a certain way; just force myself to do the weekly survey; manage my tickler file; sort through that in-box and make the decisions that must be made: then life will calm down, and I will be happy (that is, blessed). It's "will-worship!" Plainly!

So, here we go with the Disciplines. One word of caution from Foster that I would note: "to know the mechanics does not mean we are practicing the Disciplines."

It would be fine for my kith and kin to pray that in 2009 the Spiritual Disciplines would become for me, as Foster writes, "an inward and spiritual reality . . . the inner attitude of the heart [that] is far more crucial than the mechanics for coming into the reality of the spiritual life."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Walter's Family at Christmas

We were in Austin for Christmas, and this photo was taken in the sanctuary at West Lake Hills PC just after the Christmas Eve Children's Service. Pictured are Walter, Morgan and their children, Felicity and Nautica, Morgan's parents, Mike and Mickey, Carol, Mary and Yours Truly. (Macon's family was under the weather and not able to attend.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beets

Richer than spinach in iron and other minerals. The greens are helpful in cases of anemia, tuberculosis, constipation, poor appetite, obesity, tumors, gout, pimples and helpful in the elimination of irritating drug poisons. Beets are one of the best foods to relieve constipation and they are also good for obesity. Mmmm!!

No Place for Schadenfreude

In Saturday's WSJ, the lead article is "The World of Madoff and His Clients." Adjacent to it is an article about Burt Ross, a former stockbroker, commercial real estate operator, former mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., husband and father. Mr. Ross is one year younger than I, has lived in the same house for 33 years where he raised his family, and lost his $5 million savings to Madoff. The article shows him to be a thoroughly decent man, someone whose sense of decency led him to submit to interviews by the WSJ that must have been painful and embarrassing for him but nevertheless provide an important lesson for the rest of us. I hope you can read the entire article, but here are some important or poignant excerpts:

Mr. Ross says he remembers being puzzled about how Mr. Madoff was able to show positive returns, even in months when the stocks Mr. Madoff's fund owned were down. . . . He pushed such thoughts aside, "I thought, 'Who am I to question?'" Mr. Ross says. "This guy has a formula involving computerized trading . . It's like Coke. We're not supposed to know the formula."

* * *

[Mr. Ross] says he cried when his 24-year-old daughter offered him reassuring words. On Thursday, he explained to his 22-year-old son, who had just completed his last college exam, that much of his inheritance was gone, and his son also comforted him.

* * *

Mr. Ross's wife, Joan, says she had always been nervous about whether their money was safe with Mr. Madoff. "We would revisit the issue from time to time," she recalls. "He was concerned about growth. When the market looked shaky, my concern was to preserve what we have until things settled down." She urged him to consider a safe alternative, such as Treasurys.


This morning, my readings were in 1 Timothy. There were rich men in the church in Ephesus, where Timothy was ministering. Paul writes this to Timothy at the end of the fifth chapter:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Wish

Abby to FSU

We last posted on Abby Carr in February. The Herald today reports that Abby Carr has committed to play soccer at FSU.

FSU is one of the top six or eight schools in women's soccer in the country. I'm glad she will be in-state, because we may have more opportunities to see her play.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"The Madoff Inheritance"

This opinion column in today's WSJ by Daniel Henninger is well worth a read.

Also, take a look at the video interview of Henninger.

PC to Apple

My Christmas present from Carol will be a MacBook White. On the very day we ordered it, my HP Laptop died. Goodbye, then, to all that. (Except when I'm at the office.)

I will soon become a real nuisance to Mary Ann, Macon, Walter, and Mary, as I enter this brave new world. (Not that I am not already a nuisance, especially to the children. But that's called "rough justice.")

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Maybe a Little Too Smug

In my post yesterday about Bernie Madoff I said that investors should have known better. This morning a Jewish friend of mine told me about her 80 year old aunt who had everything she had with Madoff and had lost everything. The aunt has no other financial resources and lives in a retirement home. Others in my friend's wide network of family and friends, largely middle class, Jewish people, had lost very substantial sums. I had in mind the Mort Zuckermans of the world, who had lost money with Madoff, not aged widows. Time to recalibrate.

But May a Christian be Cranky?

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

-Ephesians 1:1-3.

Oops.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas as Peace, Hope, and Love

From a "Christmas" Card that a vendor sent us here at the firm:

Rejoice in the spirit of Christmas which is Peace

Rejoice in the miracle of Christmas which is Hope

Rejoice in the heart of Christmas which is Love


I suppose I am to give the vendor a pass because he actually used the word "Christmas." But I don't. I would have preferred he use "Holiday" or "Season" rather than attempt to define Christmas in such saccharine terms.

The vendor sent me a nice tape measure. I'm thinking of sending it back to him. Am I just being cranky?

"Trust but Verify"

This quote is attributed to Ronald Reagan, and the context of his statement was foreign policy. But it can be applied in many contexts, and the latest notorious circumstance where the parties failed to exercise such discipline involves the investment manager Bernard L. Madoff. The context, of course, was the investment of one's money. What characterizes this scandal appears to be not only the scale of the fraud. What distinctly characterizes it is that that the people whom Madoff defrauded were those who, one would think, should have known better.

It reminds me of a scuba diving class that Walter and I attended when he was in Scouts and both of us were getting certified. It was the final classroom meeting before we went out on our culminating dive off of Islamarada. The instructors were first rate, and the handout that night was a chart that listed all of the things that could go wrong on a dive and kill you. I put up my hand and asked the main instructor how often beginners like us would find ourselves in such deadly situations.

She said very rarely. Most of the people who were killed, she said, were experienced divers who knew better than to make the mistakes described on the chart. She said that experienced divers often felt they could bend the rules and get away with it. Inexperienced, but well trained divers, she said, were usually very attentive to the rules. Furthermore, they would be on the dive and remind us.

What I think happened to the Medoff investors, people who knew the rules, was that they thought both Medoff and themselves were exceptional people, exceptional in their experience, in their intelligence, and in their social and professional standings. The red-flags of consistent investment performance above the norms, year after year, as if they and they alone lived in some alternate universe, were not for them. Those red flags were for the rest of us.

There is a Despair poster (I can't recall the name of it) that presents a sort of truth (something I call a "Despair-truth") which suggests that some people make huge mistakes as a lesson to the rest of us. So it is with those who are simply too smart, too fine, and too successful to be bothered with verification.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

May God Forgive Us.

We are pre-occupied by a foul-mouthed governor and by failed corporate/labor syndicates that build cars no one much wants. And this is happening. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for spotting this.)

As the Beltway Gathers the Means

Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life that can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means also determines which ends are to be served, which values are to be rated higher and which lower - in short, what men should believe and strive for.

-Friedrich Hayek, as quoted in Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball's column "Notes and Comments" under the subheading Freedom Imperilled in the December issue of The New Criterion.

That column also quotes from an article entitled The Loss of Individual Liberty in last month's Forbes. The Forbes article chronicles the ongoing nationalization of our economic life during the Bush Administration, what is happening at this moment, and what we can expect during Obama's reign.

But the ultimate economic truth is reflected in Psalms 50:10, and I take comfort in it:

[F]or every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sen. Bill Nelson on the Big 3 Bail-Out Issue

I send Bill Nelson, one of our Florida US Senators, emails about various issues. He is a Democrat, well-meaning and I have never read of any corrupt aspect of his service.

As readers have noticed from my posts, I'm ready to let the Big 3 go into Chapter 11. Sen. Nelson disagrees. Here is his response to my email:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the proposed bailout of the auto industry .

In my judgment, the Big Three automakers have arrived at this point through their own poor management. The fact that so many American manufacturing jobs are at risk is the only reason these companies deserve any taxpayer assistance. In order to avoid digging ourselves into a deeper economic hole, we must take action. But we cannot simply have another bailout. Any assistance from the government must come in the form of a loan with significant strings attached to force these companies to restructure the way they do business.

First, we must insist that the Big Three increase their average fuel economy to 50 miles per gallon by 2020. Automakers must also increase production of flex-fuel, electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Foreign car companies have been building fuel-efficient cars for years, and now in this era of volatile gas prices, the American manufacturers find themselves at a disadvantage.

We also must ensure that no taxpayer money goes to reward the people who got us in this situation in the first place. Shareholders in these companies should not receive dividends until the companies return to financial health. We must place limits on executive compensation and eliminate golden parachutes. Finally, we must insist that these companies replace their senior management. We need new leadership and fresh ideas to get us out of this mess.

I appreciate the time you've taken to contact me about this important issue. I am committed to keeping America on the leading edge of manufacturing and technological innovation. Please do not hesitate to share your views with me in the future.


Intervention by Congress, then, is the answer, and not the market-place. What a sorry pass we have come to in this country when the national political system chooses the winners and losers among US corporations.

One of the remarkably naive statements Sen. Nelson makes is "Shareholders in these companies should not receive dividends until the companies return to financial health." Only healthy companies pay dividends. They do not pay dividends unless there are earnings and profits. That is dictated by the market and by law. If the companies went in to Chapter 11, we can be assured that shareholders will be treated appropriately. The appropriate treatment will probably be that, when the smoke clears, the present shareholders will own little or nothing of the emerging companies, and they certainly will not receive dividends in the meanwhile.

More on Tebow from SI

Here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tim Tebow and UF's Win over 'Bama

My friend, Sam, a sold-out Gator, sent me the following. It is an email of a post somewhere, circulating among Gator fans and written by a 'Bama fan.

"What I saw in Atlanta"

I saw the third quarter. I saw Tebow get sacked. I saw Florida go 3 and out. I saw the Tide go 91 yards in workman like fashion. I saw a helpless UF defense. I saw Bama tie the game. I saw UF respond by missing their only FG of the season. I saw Bama march again. I saw a UF team that was beat. I saw a defense with hands on hips gasping for breath getting absolutely trucked. I saw an Alabama team rolling downhill through Gator players. I saw the UF players give all that they had left to keep Bama out of the end zone. I saw the Tide take the lead heading into the 4th quarter. I saw the end of a championship dream.

No way could the UF defense recover from the extended pounding they had just endured. With two DTs out there was simply no reserve left to call upon to stem the Tide. All that had been claimed pregame by the Crimson and White faithful about how their lines would wear UF down and control the game had come true. There was no hope.

And then things changed. I saw Tebow rally his offensive teammates and take them down the field. Run after run after run after run after run and they had Bama on their heels at their own 27. A throw a run and a throw and Tim has UF on the doorstep. Two more runs and Demps is leaping in the endzone. Florida has wrested the lead away and hope is reborn, dreams live again.

But this was not enough. Tebow leads this team, this university, not just its offense. He comes down the sideline toward the end zone where the Gator fans are thickest and exhorts them to cheer, to roar, to believe. He turns and runs to the special team players huddled for the upcoming kick. He slams into their huddle like a bowling ball knocking aside so many pins. He urged them to make the stop, to finish the play. And they did. He turns to the bench and gets in the face of his defensive teammates and makes his will theirs. He inspires them, he challenges them, he leads them. They face the same Bama players who had owned them in the third quarter, who had worn them down and controlled them. They faced those same Bama players and they stuffed them. Julio Jones who had tormented the Gators all afternoon saw a pass come his way only to have Joe Haden drill him so that the ball fell harmlessly to the ground. Julio would never see another pass. They held the line and stopped Coffee for a short gain. They crushed the line that had moved them at will and finally sacked Wilson. With the game on the line they had stuffed Bama for a 3 and out.

Then Tim Tebow went out to win himself and the University of Florida a championship. Two runs and it was 3rd and short. Tebow keeps it, meets Mount Cody in the hole and carries all 360 pounds of him for the first down. Tebow throws for 33, Tebow throws for 15, Tebow runs for 5. Bama is done. Tebow throws the last five yards to Riley Cooper on a pass that had no room for imprecision resulting in the TD that made dreams into reality. I have never seen a single player so impose his will on both his teammates, his opponents and the crowd as Tim Tebow did in that fourth quarter. I am in awe. His teammates understand. Carl Moore: "You knew he was going to lead us to victory," Louis Murphy: "I have never doubted him. He's our quarterback." Jeff Demps: "That's Tim Tebow. That's what he does, He's been putting us on his shoulders ever since the Ole Miss game, but I've never seen him like he was today." His opponents understand too. Rashad Johnson: "He kept those guys motivated. He kept them in the game when they had the opportunity to give up and wouldn't let them." Terrence Cody: "You give him a chance, and he's going to beat you,"

He's not Superman. He's not unbeatable. But he will never give less than everything he has and he will never shy away from a challenge. He is the best team leader I have ever seen in college sports. He willed a victory for UF, not on his own, but by giving his teammates the strength to believe and an example to follow. And that they did.

Posted on 12/8 4:34 PM | IP: Logged


Sam, who is not a Christian but a member of a reformed Jewish Synagogue, has been coming to our Friday morning Bible Study/Breakfasts for quite some time. He knows that Tebow is a Christian. He observed this morning that Tebow is the third great quarterback at Florida who was the son of a Presbyterian minister. Sam knows that Tebow's facepaint on game-day has a scripture reference: Philippians 4:13. I read him that scripture this morning.

Sam mentioned the movie Hoosiers and the scene where, before the state championship game, one of the members of the team is kneeling in prayer, and the coach is trying to get him up and onto the court. The young man, whose father is a minister, finally gets up, with a big smile on his face. He tells the coach, according to Sam's recollection, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." Sam said that he could not explain what happened to Tebow in the fourth quarter of the game with Alabama except to say that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Tebow, and Sam wanted Russ and me (there were only three of us there this morning) to explain what that meant.

And we did. We discussed what the prophet Joel wrote about the Spirit being promised to God's people, about Pentecost being the fulfillment of that prophesy, after Jesus having been crucified, raised from the dead, and ascending to heaven, and how Peter discussed the matter of the Spirit in the second chapter of Acts, making reference to Joel's prophesy, we in every case reading from Scripture. We also read the account of Paul's conversion in Acts and of what the rabbi Gamaliel (with whom Sam is familiar) said to the Sanhedrin that had brought Peter and John before it: that if the Way was not of God, it would collapse of itself, but if it was of God, there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

At the risk of sounding foolish, I believe the Spirit of the Lord was on Tebow for such a time as this. Sam believes it, and that may be the key to his heart.

SunTrust International Center Christmas Party



Some of the folks from our office. Front row, left to right: Susana, Maria, Cynthia, Carrol. Back row: Paris (my secretary), Carol, Yours Truly, Sandy, Kanaan.

This was in the big lobby of our building last evening.

WWJD - The Bailout(s)

Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

-Matthew 21:19

Not Too Excited About "The Day the Earth Stood Still"

"Everything will be explained," a government goon tells Jennifer Connelly's exobiologist, Dr. Helen Benson, in "The Day the Earth Stood Still." A space ship has landed and Helen is urgently needed to make nice with the occupants. What's never explained is why anyone would do such a dumb remake of Robert Wise's 1951 sci-fi classic, which starred Patricia Neal as a touchingly plain mother and Michael Rennie as Klaatu, the Christ-like visitor carrying a message of peace (or else). Where the original film was unpretentious, this version, with Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, is insufferably full of itself, an "X-Files" episode pumped up to pseudo-cosmic proportions. Where the first one had the warmth of confident artistry, this sorry second is as cold and blank as the expression on Mr. Reeves's face. Instead of Sam Jaffe doing Albert Einstein, John Cleese soldiers through a silly cameo as a Nobel laureate who studies biological altruism. In the spirit of critical altruism, I say stay home and watch the real thing on DVD.

-Joe Morgenstern's review in today's WSJ.

Government Too Big to Fail?

I'm reading about Bank of America laying off huge numbers and the Big 3 automakers possibly going into Chapter 11, because that's where the union (and upper management) death-grip on that industry can be broken. But the crisis in state and local governments brought on by the economic downturn? I'm hearing very little about laying off government employees and getting rid of upper management there. Is government the real "protected industry" that will bring us all down? What an irony that will be.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Haiti's Medical Services Hell

This article appeared yesterday in the Miami Herald. It concerns conditions at a maternity hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. The article requires one to read it completely to see that a signficant contributor to the problem is the failure of government because of corruption and strikes.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cool

It's started already...the desire to be cool. The longing for things that are cool.

I bought Aidan some new shoes recently and had them shipped to our house since they didn't have his size at the store. I should have waited until the morning when he was not so very tired, but he saw the box and wanted to see them, so I showed him.
And I quote:
"I don' like them, Mommy. They don't look cool. and, I only like things that are cool."

Seriously?!! He's only 4!!! Not to mention the fact, that they are indeed cool. They light up for goodness sakes. And, they were only $30. Stride Rite shoes usually cost between $40 and $60 per pair! I'm not taking 'em back. I sure hope he likes them better in the morning.

sigh...

I could write about how I really hoped that he would like them, and how disappointed I am that he doesn't. I could write about how shocked I was at how the "coolness" factor has already kicked in. I could write about how I really want to raise him to know that he is precious and wonderful no matter how cool what he wears is or is not. but really, "sigh..." seems to express it best. So, I say again,

sigh...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A No-Touch Surgeon

At the other end of the spectrum from the Colombian nurse is the cardiac surgeon who does not touch his patient, Sudhir Srivastava, of the University of Chicago Medical School. There is a fascinating article about him in the current U of Chicago Magazine. He uses a robot to do a sort of microsurgery.

The article exhibits not only the genius of the surgeon and the remarkable technology, it also shows the specialization required of the other members of the surgical team. No generalists here.

The webpage where the article begins also has a video of a "single vessel TECAB." (You know what a TECAB is, right? You will. It's a Totally Endoscopic Coronary Artery Bypass.)

A Nurse Who Does Everything

On Friday, I saw Dr. Feinberg, my oncologist, for the six-month check up. Part of the visit to the office that houses his oncology group includes having blood drawn from a vein for evaluation in the lab there. Dr. Feinberg does not do the blood drawing. Instead, there is a unit of phlebotomists, technicians who specialize in finding the right vein (or artery, now and then: ugh!).

I had a new phlebotomist on Friday, a lady from Colombia. She had her own style, as each of the phlebotomists there does, and hers was minimalist. I sit down in the chair, lay my right arm out, elbow down and open on the special pad which is part of the arm of the chair. The chair is next to a small table where she sits, facing in my direction, and holds various small bottles and things to stick with.

Now and then (not often) I get a tube tied around my upper arm like a tourniquet and something to squeeze in my fist. Then the technician starts looking for a good vein, sometimes commenting on their being deep or "there's a good one" or "did you drink a lot of water today?" Sometimes, though rarely, they will want to look at both arms. When they finally do the stick, it is not painful. The phlebotomists there are really good (I've been going there for I think 15 years.) But there seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of chatter I hear from them, as they articulate their search-and-stick process, and how easy the procedure that day turns out to be.

The Colombian lady is friendly and says very little, really, that has anything to do with her work. She simply dabs a spot with alcohol on the inside of my elbow and sticks the needle in, and I feel virtually nothing: no tourniquet, no ball to squeeze, no looking around for veins, maybe a tap or two with her finger on the one she seems instantly to find, absolutely no fuss. I like this lady.

As we are sitting there waiting for the blood to come out and as she otherwise finishes, I ask her whether the doctors know how to do what she does. She says that not even the nurses "in this country [USA]" can do what she does, especially when it comes to a deep blood vessel. She states that in Colombia, nurses who are "registered" are people who mainly handle paper. She was not such a registered nurse, she said, and she did everything, from drawing blood to emptying bed-pans to changing the sheets. She commented on how one gets to know the patient that way and that how that aspect of care, getting to know the patient, had a higher value there than here in the US. I couldn't tell whether she meant that the physicians had that higher value there or whether it was limited to the sort of nursing she practices, a nursing where the nurse "does everything."

She said that doctors who know how to draw blood as she does are those who, during their own training, make it a point to learn, as if a medical student would not ordinarily pick up that skill if he or she did not decide that she was going to learn it. It made me wonder about missionary doctor preparation. Can (and should) a medical student preparing for that life equip himself or herself with the skills of a Colombian nurse who is not registered but who "does everything"?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend at Highlands Hammock State Park

Thanksgiving morning we hooked up the pop-top and got on US 27 for Sebring, a town in Highlands County, once famous for its speedway and about three hours north of us. Near Sebring is Highlands Hammock State Park, our family favorite for all time, and there we spent the weekend.




Disarmed Mumbai

At about 9:45 p.m., two gunmen, slender and in their mid-20s, ran up the circular driveway at the entrance to the Trident. They shot the security guard and two bellhops. The hotel had metal detectors, but none of its security personnel carried weapons because of the difficulties in obtaining gun permits from the Indian government, according to the hotel company's chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi. The gunmen raced through the marble-floored lobby, past the grand piano into the adjoining Verandah restaurant, firing at the guests and shattering the windows.

-From the WSJ and today's excellent front page article on the attacks on Mumbai. (Even many of the police were armed simply with bamboo sticks, known as lathis, according to the article.)

UPDATE: Carol mentioned to me that Glen Reynolds referred, in part, to the self-defense issue yesterday here.

Gurkhas involved in some of the rescues.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Christmas Tree is UP!

Aidan helped me to decorate the tree this year and Honor spent a LOT of time just standing and staring. She seemed caught up in the wonder of it all. Then, she moved quickly into the joy of seeing how quickly she could pull on every ornament within reach!


Thankfully, she seems to have moved past that particular fascination, at least for today. Here's hoping that I don't have to spend every day retraining her to stop freeing all of the ornaments from their evergreen boughs.

Not so much fun...


On Monday of this past week, Aidan and I took a trip to the allergist's office. After a panel of scratch tests on his back, we discovered that Aidan is allergic to cats...yes, cats! I can't believe he isn't allergic to more things (like ragweed, cedar or dust mites). This is a wonderful thing! I am so glad that his allergies are so few thus far. Now, if I could only figure out why his nose is constantly running and why he coughs so much at night....

the allergist thinks that Aidan is like me: gets colds often and is prone to sinus infections. Ah, well, you can't win 'em all.

;-)

I seriously am SO very glad that Aidan is only allergic to cats. With Cedar season coming up, it is a relief to know that it is not going to be as difficult for him as it is for his father to survive the pollen.

Some Thanksgiving moments...


Honor has discovered the joy of throwing rocks into the pond...ploop!

Man! Where does she get those curls!!!

Aidan tries to pull his older cousin...there was no movement...whatsoever. (Noah weighs twice as much as Aidan and is almost twice as old! Seems like Aidan enjoys a challenge as he found this event quite delightful!

The day after Thanksgiving, PaPa and SueSue took us to see the lights in Marble Falls, TX. Here is the entrance. It was the kids' first time to ever see Christmas lights as they are both usually in bed so very early. What a treat!

A recent visit to PBK, or as my son call it, "The Pretend Kitchen"...

While my son was banging away on the awesome drum set in the store, as seen below:

my daughter was on the other side of the store embracing all things girly:

. . . and on the phone no less...is this an image of things to come???

;-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stokes Kith and Kin Community Blog 61% Manly

Is that OK? Maybe if we were PCA we would score higher. Or maybe it was all those diaper posts.

Sean got a 75% rating. (Go, Sean!)

Thank goodness we have Walter posting his Cross-Fit results from time to time. Where would we be without that?

(Thanks, Glenn.)

(And thanks, Honor, for standing up to that girly, girly daffodil outfit. I know we got some points for that.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Da Man!





Crossfit Winners

we had a competition at the gym today - and our team won.

Straw in the Wind? (UPDATED)

Several days ago we had meetings with investment advisors in connection with a client matter. One of the professionals said that his firm saw no turn-around in the stock market until the real estate market "bottomed out." Only then, I suppose, would investors and lenders have some comfort afforded by whatever real estate secures or is related to the investment or debt.

Last night Carol and I attended a dinner party where a number of tax and real estate lawyers from around the state were in attendance. A lawyer on the west coast of Florida, around Brooksville, said that the market there continued to be just awful. A lawyer on the east coast of Florida, around Ft. Pierce, said that prices there had stabilized. He said that the Fort Pierce area historically led the state in terms of the real estate market. He said that it was apparent much earlier than the rest of the state that they were over-building; he therefore would expect the local market to improve ahead of the rest of the state. I take that as an encouraging sign for Florida's economy, and maybe the rest of the country.

UPDATE: Guess not. I had forgotten that these things are now up to the federal government. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Never Say Die

I've been listening to a podcast called "Hardcore History". It's produced by Dan Carlin, and I'm in the middle of his series on the Punic Wars. (The wars between Rome and Carthage.)

Carlin describes the Romans as folks whose greatest asset was their refusal to surrender. They would simply not admit defeat, even when they'd been beaten on the field of battle, and would just keep going until they wore down their enemy.

He quotes a historian who describes it:
Victory through Superior Determination.

Thinking through his soccer career, business career, CrossFit career, and other general moments of his life,

I thought that sounded like a good description of Walter, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Catholics and Bible Study (Updated)

[A] funny thing happened on the way to modernity: The Catholic Church opened itself to the Word in a way it hadn't done before. In the process, it fostered a balanced culture of biblical exegesis and devotions (at least among most scholars and clerics) that many in sola scriptura Protestantism might envy. Especially in light of trends in mainline denominations that fostered a radical desconstruction of biblical texts on the one hand, or, on the other hand, a blinkered literalism that appeals to many conservative pew-sitters.

David Gibson in Saturday's Houses of Worship Column in the WSJ.

Would all the blinkered literalists please raise their hands? Thank you. Now, all the conservative pew-sitters remaining (yes, those of you who just sit there in your pews) would you kindly raise yours? Thank you. Now please, all of you, walk on out to the outer darkness, sit there, and be forever quiet.

And to you, David, our deepest thanks for dealing with those annoying people.

So, then, Catholic scholars and clerics, please proceed.

UPDATE: Carol points out that my point is rather obscure here. What I meant to do was take issue with the article, especially the glib paragraph that I quote, with its cheap shots. I don't think that Protestants break down into the three groups that Gibson identifies, i.e. those who deconstruct the scripture into meaninglessness, those who read the Bible "literally," whatever exactly that means, and those who are do-nothing, conservative bench warmers. I also do not believe that "[Catholic] scholars and clerics" defines the class that exclusively deals with scripture appropriately.

Our personal experience with Roman Catholics (those who attend our Bible studies) is that they are largely unacquainted with Scripture. They are eager students. On the other hand, for the first time in our memory, the local Catholic Church has a "Bible Study" going; I would very much like to see what that looks like over there. Juan tells me that he attends a men's breakfast Bible study in the Gables and there are a couple of Roman Catholic men who attend. Mary is in a Bible study with some other students in her program at Bryn Mawr, and that study has at least one (maybe two) Roman Catholics. I think these are wonderful developments.

I just get set on edge by the sort of condescension that is reflected in the WSJ article. Of course there are "blinkered literalists" and passive "conservatives" on the Protestant side. But David Gibson should take a trip to Kijabe and take a look at Protestants who are faithful to scripture and working hard for others, sacrificing careers, say, in national journalism, and putting their children at serious risk, that is, in the hands of God. He should look at the folks running the Miami Rescue Mission here in Miami. Or in the medical mission in north Philadelphia that is underwritten by the Tenth Presbyterian Church in that city. There are, surely, a lot of lay Protestant Bible readers behind those efforts.

Goodbye, Primary Care

Forty-nine percent -- of the more than 150,000 practicing [primary care] doctors -- say during the next three years they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely.

Why.

I guess the extent of this impending crisis will depend, at least in part, on the number of new primary care physicians entering the market place during the next three years. I'm not sure we can be optimistic about how large that number will be.

Just Say No to . . .

Detroit.

And certain States.

Is there no end to this?

(By the way, our church is looking at a deficit at the end of the year. Do you suppose . . . ?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cutest Things lately. . .

Honor calling spiders, "itsy bitsy."
Aidan saying "vanilla why-fers" instead of Vanilla wafers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hell Hath No Fury

I am reading Mark Bostridge's biography Florence Nightingale: the Making of an Icon. I got onto this new bio via a review in the WSJ, and it's my first serious exposure to Nightingale.

Bostridge is not an easy author to read - none of the elegance and focus of David McCullough. But I have persisted with Bostridge's book because Nightingale is a fascinating woman.

She is about 22 years of age where I am right now, and struggling with a call she believes she hears from God to do something about the nursing situation in England, a call which, if pursued, would defy convention. Beginning on page 85, Bostridge writes of Nightingale seeking the counsel of Samuel Gridley Howe, who, with his new bride Julia Ward Howe, visited Nightingale while the couple were in England for their honeymoon.

Bostridge writes that Samuel Gridley Howe was "well known" in Britain for his work in Massachusetts teaching blind deaf-mutes. Nightingale had read "the annual reports of the Perkins Institution and State School for the Blind, of which Howe was Director."

Nightingale wrote Howe after his visit, asking him whether it would be "unsuitable and unbecoming for a young Englishwoman to devote herself to works of charity in hospitals and elsewhere as Catholic sisters do? Do you think it would be a dreadful thing?"

Howe replies, encouraging her to follow her vocation: "Act up to your inspiration, and you will find that there is nothing unbecoming or unladylike in doing your duty for the good others . . ."

Apparently, most of the biographies of Nightingale stop right there, but Bostridge writes that Howe's encouragement of Nightingale became a "festering" issue between Howe and his wife, Julia Ward Howe. Finally, after 20 years of marriage, Julia Ward Howe

rebuked Samuel Howe for having encouraged Florence Nightingale, a woman of similar age herself, to pursue a career, when he would not even allow his wife to publish a book of poems. . . [H]e responded by saying that "if he had been engaged to Florence Nightingale, and had loved her ever so dearly, he would have given her up as soon as she commenced her career as a public woman."

Julia wrote a series of poems in tribute to Nightingale, including these lines in one entitled "Florence Nightingale and Her Praisers":

If you debase the sex to elevate
One of like soul and temper with the rest,
You do but wrong a thousand fervent hearts,
To pay full tribute to one generous breast.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Freezer

So, here is where I spent my morning.


BRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!! 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes, Zero. Not 32 or some decent number below freezing, but ZERO degrees. Even with gloves on my fingers were little tiny bricks of ice every time I came back out. I had on a very nice coat (Macon's) that kept my body very warm, but grabbing frozen casseroles, soups and pies and loading them into sacks has a way of getting those little phalanges very very cold!

allowing multiple train wrecks

I've seen studies around lately that suggest that multi-tasking is less efficient than not multi-tasking. I wonder if they consider the benefit of moving several projects forward in tandem, that there might be a benefit in everything moving forward together and at once, even if each could reach the goal faster if given individual focus.

I haven't really read any of these studies. Tried reading some with my left eye while I typed this to my right, but I just got dizzy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Child Slavery in the Sudan

From Frontpagemag.com:

[P]erhaps no where is child slavery more prevalent in Africa than in the Sudan. A Ugandan parliamentary committee heard last week that as many as 30,000 children abducted in Uganda over nearly two decades by the savage, anti-government Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for use in its operations had been sold in Sudan’s Darfur region. The LRA has been fighting the Ugandan government for years with Sudanese government support. After their sale in Darfur, the children were employed as child soldiers and laborers, while others were “sold as sex slaves to the Sudanese.”

Read the rest of the article by Stephen Brown here.

A copy of this article was forwarded to me by Audrey Walters-Moore and Kimberly Smith of MakeWay Partners.

This makes me think of a lot of things, among them what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 -"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Read the entire chapter.)

It also makes me think of this lyric:

My chains are gone, I've been set free!
My God, My Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns.
Unending love, Amazing Grace!


(This is from the Chris Tomlin version of Amazing Grace, which was the sound-track for the movie of the same name.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So much fun to play in the rain

Today we were outside when it began to sprinkle a little bit. The kids refused to come inside and I gave in. So, we stayed outside, the sprinkles passed and afterwards it was just gorgeous. Here's some pics of the lovely morning.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Photo and Computer Back-up Strategy


Great post on the Photoshop Insider here by Scott Kelby. (Please put the Epson P-2000 on the list. Thank you.)

Good Internet Vendors

Interstate Batteries. They have all kinds of batteries. I had two obscure (to me, at least), very dead, button-type batteries in two different pedometers. I had no idea that the little button batteries were "watch batteries" in the trade. So I searched the number on the back of the first dead battery, and found the replacement. The service was prompt and the pedometers are firing.

CD RV Parts Center.
We have been getting our camper ready for our first camping trip in literally years. In the interim, we bought a new car for towing and were having trouble with the "pigtail" that connects electrical system of the camper with that of the towing vehicle: it was too short. I thought, "I wonder if you can get an extension for those things?" I ran "RV equipment" on Google, and this was number one on the listing. Like the battery vendor, the key issue was whether I could find the item in the vendor's inventory. I didn't know that "pigtail" was a key word. But "extension" and "electrical" worked. I was a little concerned that the vendor was located in California, with me in Miami. But it was here in good order within a week with UPS ground. It was exactly what I needed.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick or Treat!


Somebody was High King Peter (from The Chronicles of Narnia) this year and somebody else was supposed to be a daffodil. High King Peter was very excited to get dressed up and head out to play with his friends: the Knight and the Butterfly Princess.


However, while Daffodil was very happy to put on her headband and diaper,



she was NOT very excited to put on her Daffodil dress.


After we pulled her arms out of the top half of the dress and put on a more comfortable t-shirt, Daffodil was very happy to get to see her friends: Dragon, Bee and Univ. Texas Cheerleader.
And, since I don't have a good photo of the four of them, here's yet another photo of High King Peter running forth to save the day!

Just some more pics from Halloween







"The Financial Sector Subtracts Value from the Society"

So says one of my personal heroes, John Boggle, on NPR this morning. He's just published a book called Enough. Let me say, Christmas being around the corner, this would be a nice book to read.

Between big government and "the financial sector", the two of which having just recently merged, it will be a wonder that anything will be left over for the rest of us.

During the interview, Boggle also offers a quote from Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

You don't suppose AE was referring to the billable hour, do you?

Queston about Facebook

Why would someone propose being a "friend" on Facebook, someone with whom one is not acquainted and with whom there are no common "friends," unless they are up to no good? This seems to happen a couple of times a week.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Only Half a Million?

I received an email this week from Despair, announcing that the catalog is in the mail. The announcement states that the document is "Now arriving in the mailboxes of a half-million depressed people."

Where do they get that number? Is that the number on their mailing list? Is it only the men in their sixties in the families to whom the catalog is sent? (Just kidding. I am not depressed. I am not.) If it's only the half-million on their mailing list, then Despair is definitely a growth company.

If the number is based on a sample of, say, 25 people randomly chosen in the Austin area, then I hope their counters are the same people who are doing the Presidential polls.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Macon Crocker on Lookout Mountain?



This photo was sent me by a gentleman from Swannanoa, NC, who found our post about Carol's father. He comments on the post and said he had a photo of a "Macon Crocker", and invited us to send an email, which we did.

Back came the photo. The back of the photo has the name "Macon Crocker" written on it. The gentleman said that the photo is among several others that were among the effects left by the gentleman's mother, for whose estate he is serving as executor.

The gentleman's family, he said, were "Montreaters." Years ago, part of the Crocker family had a house in Montreat too. We think that Macon may have been visiting and that this photo may have been of him on Lookout Mountain. The climb to the rocky crest of Lookout Mountain was a feature of our summer visits to the Christian Life Conference at Montreat.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Charging Batteries

What you need to know about chargeable batteries and, perhaps more importantly, the right kind of charger.

Biden's Bishop on Abortion

There is a "way of life" and a "way of death" and abortion is a part of the way of death. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church ever since [the beginning].

Read the entirety of Bishop Malooly's letter to the editor of the [Delaware]News Journal here. (Thanks, Drudge.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Putting the Incentives in all the wrong places

From a Harvard Economic Professors Blog:

Here is a question that you may have been thinking about: How do the different candidates' tax plans affect Greg Mankiw's incentive to work?

[snip]

If there were no taxes, so t1=t2=t3=t4=0, then $1 earned today would yield my kids $28. That is simply the miracle of compounding.

Under the McCain plan, t1=.35, t2=.25, t3=.15, and t4=.15. In this case, a dollar earned today yields my kids $4.81. That is, even under the low-tax McCain plan, my incentive to work is cut by 83 percent compared to the situation without taxes.

Under the Obama plan, t1=.43, t2=.35, t3=.2, and t4=.45. In this case, a dollar earned today yields my kids $1.85. That is, Obama's proposed tax hikes reduce my incentive to work by 62 percent compared to the McCain plan and by 93 percent compared to the no-tax scenario. In a sense, putting the various pieces of the tax system together, I would be facing a marginal tax rate of 93 percent.

The bottom line: If you are one of those people out there trying to induce me to do some work for you, there is a good chance I will turn you down. And the likelihood will go up after President Obama puts his tax plan in place. I expect to spend more time playing with my kids. They will be poorer when they grow up, but perhaps they will have a few more happy memories.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What Happened to the Abortion Issue?

Am I to understand that it is all settled now? Many Christians I know are supporting Obama, without even a nod at his views at the extreme end of the abortion continuum. Have we, then, "moved-on" from "single issue" politics. Perhaps I would, if the pro-life candidate had a minister who preached "God Damn America!" But that's not what we have here.

"Give or take a Jesus . . ."

This morning I was at the Savannah Airport early, waiting for the plane back to Miami. It appears to be a newly built airport, and it was pleasant except for the television monitors blaring everywhere. There is simply no getting away from network/cable news, at least at airports. And CNN was the newsfeed of choice.

But an author interview got my attention, this of Benyamin Cohen, who has just published a book called My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith. Although the CNN reporter interviewing Cohen was most interested in Cohen's visits to black Baptist mega-churches (I presume in Atlanta), we finally learn at the end of the interview that Cohen visited all kinds of churches, Roman Catholic, Methodist, White, etc., during his year in the Bible Belt.

At the very end, Cohen said that his own faith had been strengthened by his experience and that he learned that the Christian churches were quite similar to his own Jewish temple "give or take a Jesus."

Well, yes. That's always been the difference, hasn't it. That pesky Jesus.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nickled and Dimed

I flew to Savannah last night for an ACTEC meeting. The flight from Miami was on an American Airlines Express prop-jet. It's cruising altitude was 18,000 feet, and it was fine.

I decided to check my main bag, a roll-on, and carry my brief case with the computer in it. The charge was $15 to check the first bag, just like they say in the Southwest Airlines ads. I noticed as we boarded the small plane that many of the other passengers dragged their roll-ons and had their smaller bag as well. When we got to the plane, an attendant took the roll-ons and stowed them. No charge.

I'm staying on the waterfront in Savannah, at the Hyatt Regency, a monument of local graft, I'm sure, because it is entirely out of place here in the historic district - an architectural insult to the city. (I'm staying because it is the over-flow hotel for my meetings.)

To use the internet, one must buy one-day passes from T-Mobil at $10 per day.

But those little soap bars are still included, as far as I can tell.

Diana and Obama

In the The (Washington, D.C.) Examiner.

But, ahem, you heard it here first.

Thanks, Carol. (Thanks, Glenn.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Amazon Rocks

I posted a day or two ago on the Livescribe gadget, which I think is known as "the Pulse." I decided to get one and went to their web's "store"; went through all the steps of opening an account; hit "buy" or whatever; and nothing absolutely nothing happens. I am afraid to hit "buy" again, but after awhile I do. Nothing happens again.

This is in the evening, and I call their customer service number. They only answer during business hours.

Today I got back to the matter, and called and got someone at customer service. I hoped to be able to determine (a) whether they had a record of my having bought a Pulse, or maybe two of them, and, if not (b) may I order one over the phone? As to the latter question, No, they do not take orders over the phone. As to the former, they have no record of an order or of my even visiting. I finally said that I would try ordering again from their store, and the gentleman said to call him back if I was not successful.

Then he asked me to rate on a 1 to 5 scale, obviously reading from something, how satisfying was the experience of dealing with him! I said that, within the limitations management imposes on you, I would give you a 5. "You've been great," I said. But overall, I told him, I would have to say a 1 or less as to the "experience."

He said thank you, and to call him back if necessary. Just as I was about to hang up he mentioned, "You might try Amazon. They sell the pen too."

Zowie! Five minutes later (or less), it's ordered and will be here on Monday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can't Wait to Vote!

Early voting breaking records in South Florida. This is going to be one interesting election!

Elephants Texting

From Kenya, of course. (It must be the proximity to RVA that makes them so smart. But how do they handle the tiny keyboard?)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Livescribe" - Have you seen this??!!

The Livescribe pen is one of Popular Mechanic Magazine's Top 10 Best Gadgets of 2008. Here is the website for the device. The introductory video on the main page is a little lame. I would suggest you look at the videos they have deeper in the website.

My thinking is that Mary might find this useful in her classes. But I'm wondering whether this might be a great way to capture my client conferences without having the laptop there.

"The Queen"

Carol and I saw this via Neflix DVD last night (We have decided to somewhat vary date night so that we alternate Publix with a DVD each week. We don't want to fall into a rut.) A film based on how Queen Elizabeth and Tony Blair dealt with the Princess Diana tragedy seemed an unlikely basis for an entertaining motion picture. But it was very well done and it raised some important questions about our celebrity culture.

As I watched the movie's depiction of the struggle that the Queen had in understanding the public affection that the British had for Diana and the risk to the monarchy that the Queen's virtual silence on the tragedy seemed to pose until she came around at Blair's insistence, my mind went to the Obama phenomenon. It's not a perfect analogy, of course, but what I see as a mostly unexamined enthusiasm for Barack Obama, based on his media-inflated charisma and the idea that his election offers some sort of redemption for the tragic side of American History, is similar in some respects to the Diana phenomenon, the "People's Princess" as Tony Blair anointed her. As the stodgy, clueless, remote, and adulterous monarchy ("adulterous" not including the Queen) provided the foil for the Princess, so the difficulties of the Bush Administration and the corruption exclusively assigned to his party by the media provide the foil for Obama.

Without minimizing the personal loss that Diana's death meant to her family and friends, one can say that the public convulsion in Britain over her death probably did no permanent damage. But the risks involved with an Obama regime will be significant and the change it will introduce could well be enduring.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dave Seivright, Lemon Peels, and Web Bible Resources

Dave Seivright is a missionary to professionals and business men, and works under the auspices of Campus Crusade. He is a PCA minister and "planted" Kendall Presbyterian Church. For many years since then he has conducted a ministry that targets lawyers, doctors and businessmen. He is involved not just in conversions but also very heavily in discipleship. He also has an important work in Germany. You can read more about him here.

My friend Austin is within Dave's orbit. On Dave's website, among the Miami photos, you can see a group picture with Austin cutting up. He's the only one in the entire group of mature men who is doing the lemon peel in the mouth gag. I'm glad that Dave is working with Austin. (You have just a hint of what we have to put up with at our Friday morning breakfasts.) (You can also tell from the photo that there are not a lot of Baptists at the table.)



I'm on Dave's email list, and a recent one linked to various internet Bible study websites. I am going to use this post to list them and to list others as well, as I come across them if they seem to be useful. So I will be coming back to this post from time to time, even if it has the lemon peel problem with it:

The Bible online. (This is BibleGateway, and I use this all the time, not only to check readings and do searches but also to print-out handouts of scripture readings for Bible discussion.)

Bible Study Tools. This is Crosswalk.com. I haven't used it, except to try it out just a little when I got Dave's email. I need to work with it further.

Audio Bible. This is another feature of BibleGateway.com. I haven't tried it out yet.

Bible in a Year: Listen or Read. This is a feature of Crosswalk.com. I have become a strong believer in reading through the Bible in a year.

Another read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year site. This one is at a site called OnePlace.com.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. This is still another feature of BibleGateway, which has numerous resources worth exploring.

Here begin my additions:

Don't forget the Net Bible site at Bible.org! Not only is the Net Bible available there, but also Bible studies, including at least one by Micki Maris, our friend and Morgan's mother! Micki helped edit the Net Bible. (See my earlier post on the Net Bible.)

Robert Austell's Blog. This is full of wisdom and resources. Just work the search feature. That site also links to Robert's sermons.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Running Skirt/Skort

You men out there, I just need to warn you that this entire post may fall under the category of "Too Much Information" or under the category of "chicks'-stuff-and-the-strange-things-we-as-men-have-never-even-thought-might-be-issues-for-women-when-running." If you do not desire to read more about things in these categories, then please feel free to skip this one. For all of the rest of you out there, may I bring to your attention, THE RUNNING SKIRT. Yes, SKIRT. (or skort, depending upon the whim of the marketing departments in the running world).

Ah, how I LOVE my running skorts! They look like a skirt, but have spandex compression shorts underneath. I used to run in shorts. I never particularly enjoyed my shorts, although some were cute to wear. I did particularly NOT enjoy how my shorts would start to ride-up as I ran, especially if I was going uphill. I spent several minutes of my runs just pulling the legs of my shorts back down, over, and over, and over. SO annoying! Then, several months ago, I read an article in one of Macon's "Runner's World" Magazines about running skirts. I think that it was written by Kristin Armstrong. Anyways, I had always thought that if I saw a woman in an athletic looking skirt, then she must be going to play tennis. Little did I know that there is an entire movement out there in the athletic world making skirts for running, cycling, golf, etc. After reading the article, I did a little web surfing and discovered a couple of skirts on sale at sierra trading post. I was able to get my first running skirt for $25 (instead of the normal $60 that this particular skirt usually sold for). It is the "Brooks Motion Skort". It is last season, so it is harder to find, but it ROCKS! This skirt continues to remain my favorite. It is just a bit longer, it has a pocket sewn into the leg of the compression shorts underneath where I can put my key, and a pocket in the skirt where I can put my phone/mp3 player.


The most wonderful part of running in this is that I don't have to pull my shorts down over and over and over again. I just run and since the compression shorts are not riding up all the time, I don't even think about them. Of course, it is also fun to wear something that is cute and a little bit feminine while I am getting so hot and sweaty. This skort idea strikes me as really great because it serves both form and function well.

Anyway, since I loved this skirt so much, I invested in some skirts from Hind (also found at sierra trading post). These were a little shorter, and although they are comfortable, I find that I miss having the pockets which my Brooks skort has.


On Saturday, Macon and I ran in the SkirtChasers5k. The skirt that I got for registering was a very very cute little number that even had little snaps on the waistband where you can hang your race number. No more need for safety pins at the race!

However, while it was a fabulous red, and while it was so very light that I almost forgot I had anything on, there were at least two drawbacks. The "boy shorts" underneath this skirt are not compression shorts and before I had even started running I was very aware of the tendency of these shorts to ride up and cause quite the "wedgie." Also, because the skirt is SO light, when you run it bounces up higher than my others and reveals the boy short wedgie underneath from time to time. Oh, and because the boy shorts do not stay down, there is the issue of leg chafage. OUCH. After three+ miles, your skin can cause itself some damage from the friction of your legs rubbing together. For those of you who have legs that do not rub together, congratulations! That's wonderful. For those of you, like me, who do have this issue, this skirt from "SkirtSports" may not be the one for you.

P.S. After washing the skorts a few times, the compression shorts may begin to have the tendency to ride up a bit, but the secret to fixing this is to sweat just a little and then pull them down to where you want them. The sweat will hold them in place for the remainder of the run/walk.
P.P.S. Several of the running skirts do not have compression shorts underneath, they merely have "spankies" or briefs. "Spankies" are similar to briefs. Sometimes they are the same as briefs, and sometimes they fit more loosely, it depends on the company making them. If you are someone with teeny tiny legs that do not rub together then spankies or briefs underneath may work great for you. If you are not, then I cannot recommend having spandex compression shorts underneath enough. Sometimes in order to find these, you have to search for "athletic" skirts or "motion" skirts (or skorts) instead of "Running" skirts/skorts.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Bike for Aidan

Aidan turns 4 on Tuesday, but today we had his party. Since he was going to be getting all his other presents in the afternoon, Kells and I decided to go ahead and have his bike ready for him when he woke up this morning.

You may recall that Aidan has been riding and loving his Skuut for about a year now. Aidan and I have logged quite a few miles with him on the Skuut and me on my Cannondale. So Kells and I were quite interested to see if this would translate into anything noticeable on a bike with pedals.

On his wishlist, Aidan was quite specific in wanting a bike "with training wheels." I tried to talk him out of it, but Aidan really really wanted them to the point of starting to cry when I kept suggesting that he might not need them. So, hey, you wants the Training Wheels? You gets the Training Wheels and we are all happy.

Naturally, as soon as Aidan saw his bike this morning, he wanted to ride it. And, after the fastest change from pajamas to clothes ever seen in this household, he and I were out on the street (7:15AM). Since the bike had training wheels, I could carry my coffee in one hand and walk/run alongside him. We were out for about 45 minutes when it was time to come in to get ready for church, and Aidan said, "Dad, I don't think I need the wheels anymore." He and I decided that after church, we'd get the wrenches out and take them off.

And after a fast lunch, with him doing most of the wrench turning, the training wheels were retired with little fanfare.

Then, after four trips out and back with me running behind holding the seat, Aidan says, "I don't want you to hold the seat anymore." So I moved to lightly holding his back (which was much more fun for my back). And after two trips out and back he said, "I don't want you to hold my back again." After which, it seemed like a good idea to get the camera.



You can see that the pedals fit him fine, but the bike is just a bit too tall for him, so he has a bit of trouble keeping it up after stopping. But he regards that as a feature, since his second most favorite thing to do after riding the bike is to pretend to crash it. So usually he just lets the bike fall over and he goes over too, with much giggling.

In fact, we had to convince him to actually ride the bike "seriously" because when the camera came out, he would go for ten feet, then wobble his handlbars on purpose (saying "woah woah hee hee woah woah") and fall over. What a ham. But it's a testament to his comfort level with the bike.

Oh, and Aidan said today, "The Skuut is Honor's now, because I have a new bike."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hello, on Saturday (again)

What in the world happened to this week?! It flashed through so quickly! And here I am in the disorder of my office on Saturday morning again.

Is it over? I'm referring to the Presidential election. McCain has really not stood up well to the financial panic, because he is a man with not a lot of depth intellectually; he is someone who reacts instinctively, and his instincts are not tutored as, say, Reagan's were. And the Democrats, aided by their many sympathizers in the MSM, have done a good job of assigning blame to the Administration, both for creating the problem and now for not being able to solve it quickly. And it has been difficult for McCain to disassociate himself from Bush.

I don't watch TV or listen to the radio much anymore, but when I was near a TV or radio, I was apt to hear an Obama ad during the last two weeks. And the ads are all over the internet as well. He has been waiting to spend that cash hoard, and now he is doing it on advertising, and I would think that it is very effective.

One topic of several of the ads I've seen is an attack on the McCain health plan. If one knows anything about the topic, one can see that the ads, selecting fragments of truth, are false and misleading. But there is no answer to that attack coming from anywhere that people who are not well connected to the internet might hear. Health care is a tough and complex subject, and most people have no idea what the issues concern, except now the Obama ads tell us that McCain will tax us on the benefits provided in his plan and send the tax savings to the insurance companies. Is this just campaign puffing or is this how "information" will be managed during his administration?

There has been a messianic dimension of the Obama campaign all along. He didn't create it, necessarily, but he provided the platform for it by essentially having no history or, better put I think, denying any history. Thus he is an attractive blank slate upon which people write their fantasies of a political figure who will right what is wrong in their worlds. He enables us to act that way not only by disconnecting himself from any story line coming out of his past, but also by promising anything and everything in a broad, remarkably charismatic and pursuasive way. How will a man like this actually perform as President? I think people who have invested him with messiah like qualities will be greatly disappointed. It is one thing to be disappointed in George Bush, whom we knew or should have known to have significant weaknesses, but Obama followers are in a sort of denial about their man. What will they do when they come out of that fog?

Back to David Allen. Carol and my assistant Nancy came back from a seminar for office managers about 10 ten days ago. The speaker was Laura Stack, who bills herself as the "Productivity Pro." Nancy and Carol were greatly enthused, had some great tips about handling emails, and described Laura's "handling the in-box" method. Her approach is so similar to that of David Allen that I picked up Getting Things Done again. And I spent six hours last Saturday doing the sweep through my office, setting up the 43 folders in a new way, filling out single sheets of paper with "the next thing", filing them appropriately, and enjoying every minute of it. I didn't finish the job, but got a very good start. I'm encouraged that I will carry this through, and I will spend more time on the sweep and set-up project today.

One thing I have done is radically change the way I use my office. When we moved into this space about five years ago (five years ago??!!), I purchased some very nice furniture, including a stand-up desk arrangement for the first time, along with the standard sit-down desk, with desk chair, etc. As it turned out, I used the stand-up desk furniture simply as an extra credenza, and it became, most of the time, a place to pile things. The traditional desk remained the center of my work universe.

What I have done is to move my computer and telephone over to the stand-up desk, together with a personal laser printer. Most of the day, then, I am standing up, with the main exception being when I have meetings. But even the meetings are often with the participants standing up, especially when the meetings involve just me and one other person. Those meetings seem to be greatly facilitated by both of us facing one another and both of us able to spread out something on the stand-up desk and read it together, side-by-side, or both of us able to view my computer and it being easy for the other person, if helpful, to keyboard the computer, as I step back. Not having the big desk between us at these one-on-one meetings somehow improves the flow of ideas.

The stand up desk runs along one side of my office. It is 3.5 feet high, about 13 feet long and two feet deep. Propping up one end is a book case and the other end two sets of lateral file cabinets. One set of file cabinets is immediately at my right hand, and I can simply roll out the top drawer - and there are my 43 files. (I now maintian them, rather than my secretary.)

We are doing some office rearranging at the firm, and my big desk will be going to someone else's new office. To replace it, we will bring in a round conference table that we already own and seems to be just the right size.

When I get the office all set up, I will make a short video and post it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Update on the Adoption

I'm looking for something to do that doesn't involve reading Ulysses, so I thought I'd give an update on our adoption; since I don't know that I've done so since we began this process 13 months ago. -not sure what's going on in Ulysses. 450 pages so far. Think I read about a funeral, a news article, some advertising, Shakespeare and Hamlet, a bar, a kidney. I think I'd like some yogurt and honey-yogurtandhoney-honeyandyogurt. what is he talking about? adoption? who is ulysses? who gave him a login to post at kithandkin? I don't think this Joycereading has affected me overly.

Our paperwork made its way over to Ethiopia at the start of June. The word is that we might receive a referral in December or January, maybe. A referral means that we are matched with a child. Then it will probably be 2-3 months after the referral that we'll head over to Ethiopia to pick up the infant - so maybe March or April? It will be strange to drive to the airport with a baby seat in the car. Probably not as strange as driving home from the airport with a baby in the car. That will be pretty strange.