Friday, September 30, 2005

A new season begins

For the last 12 or 13 years I've been playing indoor soccer in the winter time. Last night was the first night of the new session.

It should be noted right up front that I am not now nor was I ever an athlete. Like many American males this hasn't kept me from playing sports. As a soccer player I have limited ball skills, limited speed and at my age limited endurance. What I bring to my team is perserverance, a pretty good knowledge of position play and enthusiasm.

None of which helped last night when we lost 5-1. The game was actually much closer than that. We had a slack period when we ran out of gas a bit and the other team put up three quick goals. For a first night back we didn't look out of place in a mid level recreational league.

As for your humble correspondent, I played defense all night, was only on the floor for two of the goals and managed to put virtually every pass I tried right on the button. I didn't do anything stupid and almost avoided hurting myself. About 6 minutes before the end I tangled myself up with another player and turned my ankle slightly. It's only a tiny bit stiff this morning so I think it's probably no big deal. I should be ready to go for next Thursday.

Go Team Orange!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

And so it begins

The Anglican Church in Nigeria has chosen to eliminate all references to the "mother church" of Anglicanism, represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury (link to article in title). This is the saddest news I've heard as an Anglican in my lifetime.

Archbishop Peter Akinola has been the vocal leader of conservative factions in the Anglican Communion, especially in the southern hemisphere. He is also looked to as a leader by some of the traditionalist churches in the northern hemisphere as well. While I respectful the views of the tradtionalists I must admit that some of the comments of the Archbishop have disturbed me. Within the last year he has referred to homosexuals as "dogs" a statement for which I can find no Christian theological basis.

It was only a few months ago that ++Akinola assured everyone that there was not a split in Anglicanism coming. Yet surely this move, which the Nigerian church acknowledges allows them to "set up missions outside Nigeria", something that would be against the unwritten rules of the Communion. It appears that this "new" Anglican church will be very different from the worldwide Communion it seems to want to replace.
These are my expectations of that new church (and mine alone):
1: Greater central authority - expect to see some version of an Anglican 'pope' with power to mandate dogma and doctrine.
2: Ongoing disputes on what that dogma and doctrine may look like. U.S. bishops who may support female clergy but oppose same sex marriage may find their stay in this new church uncomfortable at best.
3: That further dividing of the anglican tradition churches will continue as more litmus tests are advanced by differing groups.

I'll be honest and say that personally I am angered by what appears to my eyes to be a power grab. The effort put into trying to find a way forward together seems to be for appearances sake only. That anger could easily lead me to say things that I would regret later so I'll return to my initial thought.

This is the saddest news I've ever heard as an Anglican.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Real Live Pirates!

I swore I wouldn't do a lot of these but this is from a page created by some of the readers of Real Live Preacher (If you're not a regular reader, what the heck's the matter with you? See the link on the right!) I have no idea why they went the pirate route but as a fan of RLP's and the Pittsburgh Pirates how could I resist? Chekc the link in the title.

My pirate name is:

Captain Sam Flint

Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from


Friday, September 23, 2005

Seems I spoke too soon

I thought that all my adventures were behind me for this trip. Check the link connected to the title of this entry for the after effects of the tornadoes that swept through this area two days ago. Winds hit 80+ mph in a straight line, more than a hundred thousand people have been without power for the last 36 hours. The hotel staff moved us out of the dining room Weds night and took us to the basement because the tornado was less than 4 miles away from us. It was quite a storm.

And I still love travelling!


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More travel tales

So I've just decided to give up an give in and accept that weird things happen to me when I travel. This time I didn't even get out of my home airport! I was scheduled to leave from Gate 21. Now there are only about 26 gates at the airport so I just boogied to the far end. Let's see - gate 20, 22 and 24 on this side. Even Odd so that's easy. I turn around and see gates 23, 25, 27.

Ummmmmm. Hello?

So I check again, nope not on this side. Nope, not on that side. No gate 21 anywhere.

Well, poop.

So I ask a friendly passing airport worker. He takes me back down the concourse! Yes it turns out that gate 21 is BEFORE you get to gate 19. No clue why.

Fortunately the rest of the trip went well.

It's just one long adventure for me.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Waiting for wailing

I'm waiting for the cry to go up.

"We're turning away from God"

I'm waiting for the anger.

"Liberal judges are destroying our nation"

All because of two words.

"Under God"

A federal judge on the west coast has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance as it stands today is unconstitutional because it infringes on the rights of school children to be " from a coercive requirement to affirm God." The ruling at the moment affects only a couple of school districts out there. When it is appealed, if it is upheld, it will affect only nine western states. At which point it will go to the Supreme Court of the United States. All of which is a ways away.

So here are my thoughts on the subject:

The front man for this is Dr. Michael Newdow, an atheist, who attempted to do the exact same thing last year on behalf of his daughter. The Supreme Court would not consider the case since Newdow doesn't have custody of the girl and therefore has no legal right to speak for her. Now he's back representing three families from the Sacramento area. While I respect his right to object to the two words (more on that in a second) I get a strong feeling that he's grandstanding. He's a hard guy to get warm fuzzy feelings about for me. Of course that doesn't mean he's wrong.

At a surface reading it would appear that he's got this one absolutely right. The separation of church and state is fundamentally about government not establishing a national religion. These two words, which do NOT appear in the original pledge, was inserted by an official act of government. It was passed in 1954 by Congress as a bulwark against "Godless Communism". A fairly idiotic idea in its own right but that's another topic. The government has inserted into a pledge a two word statement that clearly indicates the government believes in God. That pledge is taught to children at a very early age by schools(basically another governmental agency). Children still pretty much do what their teachers tell them to do so the concept that some elementary school child is going to stand up and refuse is pretty remote. The idea that there's not a coercive element to having that child "simply not say it" while EVERY OTHER CHILD IN THE ROOM does is fairly silly.

But whatever the legal arguments my real irritation is with my fellow children of God. This ruling and the following appeals process is going to bring on an absolute storm of hoo-haw. I will restrain myself from voicing more cynical and sarcastic thoughts and stick to this:

If our children, our nation and our faith are actually balanced on the infinite thinness of whether or not they say "Under God" while pledging allegiance to our nation's flag then we're a sad and pitiful bunch. The pledge is a civic act, it is an act of patriotism. When we confuse God and Country we're headed into a very bad place. The pledge is an act of the citizenry re-affirming our commitment to our way of life. A way of life that includes believers and un-believers and attempts to put them on equal footing. Except that all too often when we come to issues like this the truth comes out:
As long as you're well behaved and quiet, as long as you don't expect us to really take you seriously (or your beliefs) we'll let you play along. But don't cross us. We're the majority and we will force you to do things our way.

My child will survive without those words, words quite honestly she probably stopped thinking about and maybe even saying years ago. Her faith life has nothing to do with whether those words are there or not.

My nation will survive without those words. It survived between 1892 (when the pledge was written by a Baptist minister) and 1954 when it was changed by Congress. For all the "value" of those two little words there seems to be plenty of room for spiritual improvement in our national life so I doubt they've made that big a positive influence. Or are we really going to argue that those two words are the last defense that have held back an even worse spiritual condition for our nation?

My church (the church universal) will survive without those words. All the church needs is God. And last I knew God did very well without the assistance of our pledge of allegiance.

If parents and churches are doing their jobs properly then our children are getting all the spiritual guidance, influence and reinforcement they need. If the best we can do is two words in a morning pledge we should be ashamed of ourselves. If the only reason we want those words included is so everyone knows we believe then we're just as guilty of grandstanding as I believe Dr. Newdow is.

But wait for it, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth is coming. I can hear it already.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Another silly thing

Something silly. My family is a big fan of the show. And yes I'm surprised. I expected to be BJ while hoping I'd be Hawkeye.

Click here to take the M*A*S*H quiz!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Another quick story

I want to get all these out of my head before they disappear forever. Another story from my travels this summer.

I always remember as my planes prepare for take off the story in Jim Bouton's book "Ball Four" of the player who went through all kinds of gyrations, flipping switches, talking into a cup et cetera prior to take off. His explanation was that flying made him nervous and it made him feel better if he "flew" the plane himself.

What brought it to mind this time was flying on a plane with headsets that offered the cockpit radio chatter as one of the channels. I'm fascinated by how things work so I plugged right in to hear what went on (you get the pilots talking with the control tower and both sides of the conversation). Well I'm not sure that this is the kind of stuff they wanted us to hear! The conversation went something like this:

Pilot - United 2087 on runway 9 left prepared for take off
Tower - Uuuuuunited 20-87, you're headed for...where today?
P - destination is Denver today.
T - Really?
P - Yep got clearance and everything
T - Oh I'm sure you do, I just can't seem to find your paperwork anywhere
P - That so?
T - I'm sure it's here somewhere but I can't...Wait...OK! Now we're set United 20-87 you are cleared for runway 9 left, and you have a great day in Denver
P - United 20-87, thank you very much

I'm sure the folks around me were wondering what I was listening to that was making me smile and laugh so much. The conversation was all very casual and matter of fact. The pilot wasn't concerned and the tower was just a bit puzzled.

And one passenger sat back feeling very much refreshed and relaxed.

Thanks guys.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tales from my trips

Lots of traveling this summer so here are some stories from my wanderings:

I was sure that the problem would be Denver. If you've been reading for a while you know that I seem to have a travel karma problem with Denver's airport. A couple years ago I nearly missed a plane when one of the youth I was traveling with had to go through a security bag check because of a zip lock bag filled with quarters. Earlier this year I was chosen at random (repeatedly!) for a more thorough security check, then got bumped from plane (which had been overbooked by 30 seats!). I only seem to have this problem in Denver.
So when I saw that my trip to visit my brother in California stopped in Denver I just anticipated the worst. And was pleasantly surprised. Despite having to puddle jump across the country (Buffalo to Chicago to Denver to Burbank to Reno - don't ask!) the trip was simple if very long. Only one flight was even delayed and that was only by 15 minutes.
The trouble was on the way home. Now I wasn't worried because I wasn't even going through Denver on the return trip (Burbank to San Francisco to Chicago to Buffalo). Got to the airport bright and early, quick flight to SF, then the longer trip with a good movie (Madagascar - very funny movie)and into Chicago a little ahead of schedule. Now when you're playing leap frog on airplanes you know that the first thing you have to do is verify what gate you next plane will be at. They have this nasty habit of changing while you're in the air so you can't trust what you may have been told at the start of the day. I hop off at Chicago (O'Hare), find the departure screen, scan down for Buffalo...


No,no,no,no,no. Double check, must be some OTHER flight to Buffalo. Wait, there is no OTHER flight to Buffalo.


A few years ago this would have really rattled me. Not any more. I've never had a flight cancelled before but the drill is easy. Find the customer service desk, smile and and be pleasant (these people have to deal with WAY too many morons. You'd be amazed how treating them nicely greases your way), get scheduled for the next flight (4 hours later), and call home to tell my lady wife of the schedule change.

Then try to stay amused for 4 hours at O'Hare. Not easy. But it really makes you appreciate being home.


Of course there was my little flap in Cleveland. I flew through there on my way to EYE. When I checked in at Buffalo I got all the details, flight numbers, gates etc (this trip was easy, only one change). As we arrived in Cleveland I check the airport map for gate numbers and realize that I have very little time to make a one end of the terminal to the other run for my plane. Great. Thank God for luggage with wheels (seriously, my wheelie bag has changed my life traveling. So much less stress, physical and mental. Thank you Brian Prior!) So I'm off to the races! I arrive at the other gate and it's loading a plane for someplace I'm not planning on going. Not good. Up to the desk, ask the question, "Oh they moved that to gate such and so". Which is at the other end of the terminal from where I am now! Lovely. So back to the races, to discover that the new gate is RIGHT NEXT TO THE ONE I'D GOTTEN OFF AT! The airline employee informs me that I'm the last person to get on the plane. So I explain that there had been a mix up on the gates. To which she responds:

"Oh No, this flight's always been at this gate"


Lady I have a piece of YOUR airlines paper IN MY HAND that says differently. And no less than two of your co-workers told me differently.

But it's not worth having the fight. I just get on the plane and fly away.

Yeah it's been an interesting summer.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back to Normal?

Feels kind of weird to be here in the office again. The last month especially I've been running around a lot. So now I guess it's back to "normal". That always seems funny to me since I have no clue what a normal day looks like in this job. Depends on time of year and status of various projects.

All of the following have become "normal" days in this gig:

Camp (in all its diverse glory)
Sitting in airports
Long hours in my car
Trying to find a church I've never been to before at 7:30AM Sunday
Sitting at meetings (so many meetings!)

Now what does my most common day look like? Pretty much like today. Come to the office, sort through e-mail, check various websites, sift through the pile of paper on my desk, remember several small (usually) projects that I've overlooked or gotten right up to the deadline on. Make phone calls, answer phone calls, write e-mails, respond to e-mails, try to figure out what needs to be done NOW, NEXT, AFTER THAT and later. There's a lot of keyboard work and not nearly enough getting my butt out of this chair work.

But that's what's up. I've got lots of stories to share from the last couple months but I just remember two things that need to be done NOW! So I gots to go.