Bridge To Doubletalk

I saw this report on CNN last night, (no, not on Fox News), and thought it was something everyone should know. You just can’t blindly believe all the rhetoric…on either side.

http://www.cnn.com/video/savp/evp/?loc=dom&vid=/video/politics/2008/09/23/griffin.biden.earmarks.cnn

My Day At The ‘Stick

Yesterday, I had the fortune of attending my first San Francisco 49ers game since January 7, 1995. As a fan whose 49er roots go back to my childhood, that’s almost too embarrassing to admit. My grandfather used to actually work at both Candlestick Park and the Cow Palace, so I went to events at each venue throughout my childhood. Since the Giants final season at Candlestick in 1999, I hadn’t stepped foot in The ‘Stick.

On the drive to the game, I could clearly recall my Candlestick memories I had from my childhood. I remember my increased heart rate as we would drive to the parking lot and just look at the outside of the stadium. Then the increased enthusiasm as we passed through the turnstiles. Then, the overwhelming anticipation of walking through the concourse knowing of the splendor held on the other side of the walls.

Unlike today’s modern stadiums where you can still see the action on the field while waiting in line for concessions, that is impossible at Candlestick. In fact, there are rather large doors you have to open to go from the concourse to the stands. I could clearly remember the thrill it was when those doors opened and I got my first glimpse of the sun-drenched greenness of the field of play. My heart would practically leap out of my chest. I got that thrill every single time I went to that ballpark.

Including yesterday.

It was a spectacular day. The temperature was perfect. Very little wind inside the stadium. And when a gust would come by, it actually felt good. The game was very good as the 49ers, a far cry from their glory days of the 80s and 90s, played a very good game against a woeful opponent. I honestly didn’t care who they played. I just enjoyed looking around the stadium and remembering going there as a child with my dad and/or my grandfather.

Special thanks to my longtime friend (notice I avoided the word “old”) Megan. I’ve known Megan since college days, and we have served together in ministry in years past. She now lives about 30 minutes from me, and she generously treated me to one of her family’s tickets. Her family has been season ticket holders for about 25 years. Even though the 49ers of this generation are a far cry from their heyday, those tickets are a prize commodity, often passed down from generation to generation.

It was a perfect day. The 49ers won 31-13, the seats were awesome. I wasn’t about to leave mine for anything until it was time to go home.

Below is a link to the pictures I took at the game, followed by another link to pictures I took of Megan’s new puppies and their mother.

Game pix
Puppy pix

18 Days, 11 Pounds

Today is the 18th, and as I weighed myself this morning, I’m officially down exactly 11 pounds from when I started on the 1st. Clothes are feeling looser and more comfortable, and I’m enjoying the momentum. I’m not missing too much that I’m not allowed to eat at this time, but it would be nice to have some fries or a nice big pile of mashed potatoes. My plan is to hit it hard this month, and maybe treat myself to a big juicy burger or plate of pasta on October 1, then hit it hard again through October.

It feels good to improve upon this area of my life. Just one of several which need a makeover.

A New Season

My internal calendar is a bit out of whack. We all know about internal clocks which help us wake up on Saturdays at the same time we wake up Monday through Friday. However, I’m talking about the internal calendar which tells us that this time of year calls for a certain schedule.

In accord with my past 8 years or so, this past Saturday would have been week number 2 of the Upward Basketball season at Bethel Church in San Jose. This year, it was simply Saturday.

There were many challenges in running this program. But right now, I honestly can’t remember any of them. The memory which plays over and over in my mind is summarized in the photo above.

The kids.

I miss the kids. I miss the energy and enthusiasm which brought the Life Center gym to life. I would arrive at the gym about 7:30-8:00 AM on game days. The gym was dark and quiet. But roll around 8:40 AM, kids and their parents would begin to trickle in. By the 9:00 tip-off of the opening games, the place was buzzing. I miss the parents with their cameras doing their best to balance the dual instincts to capture the memories while cheering for their kids and their teammates. I can only imagine the countless home videos which, in order to watch without getting motion sickness, would require a double dosage of Dramamine.

Two years ago, I felt like my time in running Upward Basketball was coming to a close. I stuck around for two more years because I just didn’t feel completely released to walk away. Last November, I submitted my letter of resignation. I simply felt I had taken it as far as I could. Little did I know that by the time the summer basketball camp would have been going on, and as the planning for the upcoming season would have been in motion, I would be packing my belongings to move to a new community.

I miss those kids. I miss the cheering. I miss those moments where a child who has little athletic ability gets their moment in the sun when they make a basket. I always made it a priority to my coaches to make sure that every child scored a basket during the season. I’ve even seen coaches lift up a small child, hold them up to the basket while they drop the ball through for 2 points! The cheering throughout the gym would be deafening. The smiles…unforgettable.

I don’t know if they will remember me years from now, but I’ll never forget them.

Jesus = Community Organizer?

The latest high profile individual that I know of has come out and used the “Jesus was a Community Organizer, Pilate was a Governor” angle was Susan Sarandon. Stay tuned, I’m sure more are to come.

And now, a friend from back in my college days has jumped on the bandwagon. Hey, despite our disagreement in this area, I respect him very much. However, this rationale simply escapes me. It boggles my mind that anyone could repeat that phrase with a straight face.

So let’s ponder this for a moment. Those who are going with this rationale are also those who are passionately opposed to the so-called “religious right”. And now they are actually trying to compare their guy to most polarizing figure between church and state?

Huh?

But all this goes to prove, to the most discerning among us, that they are afraid. They’re rattled. They are spending so much time and energy trying to elevate themselves by minimizing the King of Kings, they’ve practically abandoned the fact that it’s actually Obama vs. McCain, not Palin. They’re insulting our intelligence.

Desperation reveals insecurity. Of which, there is no room in the Oval Office.

I do not believe all Democrats are like this. Nor do I believe all Republicans and/or Christians are good and correct.

I agree with my friend 100% on one thing. As Christians, we should aspire to be like Him. Where we part company is that I do not believe by minimizing Christ, my party’s ticket is more like Jesus than the other. Jesus was a carpenter. Does this make Bob Vila more like Christ than an auto mechanic? Not because of their professions or deeds, no.

So people, please. Enough of the nonsense. Vote your conscience. I’m less concerned with people voting the same as I do as much as I am about people voting intelligently and not in false hysteria or ignorance.


Do Not Adjust Your Monitor

While standing in line at the bank the other day, I was treated to this fashion-ey goodness. Oddly, my good friend Lisa declined my offer to give him her number. (click on the photos for the full size versions)




Let me tell you, sneaking these photos was not

as easy as one might think. But being a dedicated blogger for your knowledge and entertainment, I risked it all to do this for you. Despite the fact that I set my phone to vibrate, the shutter sound of the camera remains audible (note to self). As you can see in the first picture, if the gentleman had any kind of peripheral vision, he could have easily made me for paparazzi. So after I took the first picture, I looked at my phone as if I had just arrived to this country from some third world country where such devices had never been imagined. I then started snapping “diversionary” photos around the office as if I were testing this new fangled technology. Then, as he took his place at the teller window in front of me, I was able to covertly snap the picture to show you his choice of hosiery/footwear.


Yes friends, this intrepid blogger is always on the lookout for the best material for your reading and viewing pleasure.

I’m a giver.


Got Desperation?

It sure seems that Sarah Palin has the Democrats in a frenzy right now. I have been following a lot of internet chatter and radio talk shows of those who are for her, and those who literally fear her and her Christian beliefs. I know of some Christian friends who are supporting Obama for their own reasons, and I have seen them debate other Christians over party philosophies, primarily Roe v. Wade and other conservative hot topics. I have to think that things like this video below would have to cause a Christian Democrat to pause and consider their affiliation.


This is not simply one man’s opinion. This very same talking point was made by Donna Brazile, Campaign Manager for Al Gore’s run at the presidency in 2000. On CNN this past Sunday night, she said the following:

BLITZER: Let me bring Donna in on the whole issue of being a community organizer. Now we know a lot of those community organizers are in the big urban areas and there are some suggesting that when they — when the Republicans, whether Giuliani or Sarah Palin went after Obama for being a community organizer there was a racial overtone there. Do you believe that?

BRAZILE: First of all, I don’t think they understand the role of a community organizer, often to help people who are in distress, they’ve lost their jobs, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost their health care. And for many of us, it’s a time honored tradition to give back, especially those who have been rewarded with so much.

The Bible says to whom much is given much is required and it comes out of that tradition. So it was insulting to see both, you know, the governor as well as Mayor Giuliani criticize people. There’s some on the Internet now that Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor. And perhaps they should understand the role of a community organizer, do help people in distress.

Is it just me? Or are the Dems actually comparing Obama to Jesus, and Palin (and all governors, for that matter), to Pontius Pilate?

I remember the very famous exchange in the Vice Presidential debate of 1988 when Democratic candidate Lloyd Bentsen strongly rebuked Republican candidate Dan Quayle because he had the audacity of comparing his qualifications to those of John F. Kennedy. That was a pretty compelling moment. However, that’s nothing compared to the ammunition they just handed the Republicans by enabling them to say, “I serve Jesus Christ. I know Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jesus Christ.”

Jesus wasn’t a “community organizer”. He was and is the King of Kings. No man or woman who has or ever will live can compare.

Oops!

They say a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. As if Obama hasn’t been sweating through his shirts over his choice for running mate after the momentum shift to the other side, Joe Biden uses a political speech in front of a crowd and TV cameras for a little personal therapy session. This may just send Obama into therapy:

I’ve never taken a political science class or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a good strategy to tell the world that your would-be boss, a man seeking a position in which everyday he’ll have to make decisions which make this look like choosing a pizza topping, selected the wrong person when considering who could be “one heartbeat away” from the Oval Office.

The Day I Couldn’t Blink


Today marks the seventh anniversary of the attacks on our nation, known forever as simply “9/11”. I woke up that morning as I do every morning. I have the radio on for a little “white noise” while getting ready. I woke up just before 6 am, and the news guy on the radio talked of an accident at the World Trade Center in New York City. I quickly turned on Fox News, and within moments, I witnessed the second plane plow into the south tower.

I sat on the edge of my bed watching the events unfold for nearly an hour before I had to peel myself away to go to work. I ran to my car and turned on the radio. I drove to work, which was about 8 miles away. For those 8 miles, it was like looking through a pane of glass with images on it before seeing what was really in front of me on the road behind it. That pane of glass kept replaying what I had just witnessed. I no sooner got to work and got to my floor when I was greeted by my boss who simply told me to go home, be with my family. Today, there was no getting work done. We were under attack. Suddenly life had reminded us of our ultimate priorities.

I raced home and turned the TV on again. I flipped through every channel I could think of. I don’t think I blinked the whole day.

I’ll never forget that day, as I’m sure you won’t either.

None of us will.

Before the day ended, I picked up my journal and wrote a brief entry. I’ll share with you what I wrote on that darkest of days.

Today our nation was attacked by foreign terrorists. They have hijacked plans and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Lord, I pray for mercy upon our country and for those who are trapped and injured. Comfort those who need comfort. Be with the families of those who have been injured and killed.

These terrorists probably hope to bring our country to its knees.

Let that be so

For some time following the attacks, our country came together as one. Our churches were packed to the rafters. There were American flags draped from highway overpasses, overhanging traffic in both directions. We were proud to be Americans. We were indeed united.

Sadly, it didn’t last. I hope and pray it doesn’t take another 9/11 to remind us there is more which unites us than divides us, if only we wouldn’t obsess on the differences.

Created Equal, Not Equally

During election season, you will almost always hear the arguments between members of both political parties accusing the other of significant flaws in their philosophy of government. I watched Senator Obama’s speech at Invesco Field at the culmination of the Democratic National Convention. During his speech, he declared the Republicans have a “you’re on your own” philosophy. His words:

For over two decades — for over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy: Give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the “Ownership Society,” but what it really means is that you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you’re on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You’re on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You are on your own. Well, it’s time for them to own their failure.

This got me to thinking. Is that really the way I think? Am I that heartless? Is Obama right?

As I began to really analyze my beliefs, and those of the leaders for whom I tend to vote, a light turned on in my head. I remembered these words from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

You’ll notice that the founding fathers said that we are created equal, not equally. As Americans, we are afforded the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. But this also means that we have the right to fail and underachieve. It is not the responsibility of those who have achieved to carry those who have not. The fact is, there are churches and agencies all over our great country available to assist people in need. That is where this belongs, not in government. We are born with “certain unalienable rights”. From that point on, we’re the responsibility of our families or guardians until we’re adults. Then…it’s up to us.

Jesus shared a story of a man who was going on a journey. Before leaving, he left some money to his servants, “according to their ability“. His point in doing so was essentially a test to see what they’d do with it. You’ll notice in this story that none of the three men to whom he gave this money were given equal amounts. To one he gave five talents, another two talents, and to the other, one talent. When he returned to them, the men with the five and two talents, respectively, each doubled the amount they were given. The third man literally buried what was given to him, doing absolutely nothing with it. What he was originally given was then taken away and given to the man who now had ten.

Well that seems hardly fair, doesn’t it? I mean, that guy already has ten. How can you take away from the guy who only had one? Shouldn’t the guy with ten give up some of his to help the poor dude with only one?

Justice can be harsh.

Notice the reasoning given by the man who buried what was given to him. He blamed his master saying that he was harsh and cruel. He didn’t take personal responsibility. He was given free money, but did nothing with it because he had a knot in his boxers over his boss.

And you thought class warfare was something new.

With all this being said, I come to this conclusion. These three men had developed their own resumes. They had their own personal histories and reputations based on their own abilities and work ethic. Not based on their parents, where they were born, where they went to school or anything else. They were each servants of the same master. The first two men were given different amounts. They each doubled what was given to them. Their master’s response to them was identical. He was not more pleased with the man who now had ten than the one who now had four. He was pleased with their results and their integrity. And to them, he gave more.

When we’re “on our own”, what is in our hearts will be revealed. Had the third man doubled his money, though he would have had only two, he would have pleased his master equally. Heck, maybe he could have tripled it and changed the story completely!

But he did nothing with it.

I commend Barack Obama for coming as far as he has considering the famliy life and racial confusion he must have felt and endured while growing up. That’s very impressive and inspiring. However, I still subscribe to the ideal that we are on our own to pursue those unalienable rights described by our country’s founding fathers. I do not expect or want government to be my great equalizer. I do not have the same abilities as others. To whom much is given, much more is required. I have to look in the mirror when I consider my own personal predicaments.

There are many who are born with disabilities. For one reason or another, and to one degree or another, they are dependent upon others. Poverty, under privilege, lack of motivation or intelligence…these are not disabilities. These are obstacles, but not impassable.

God is my equalizer. In cooperation with Him, I can do “all things”. That is, as long as I don’t bury what HE has given me.