8.20.2009

Working Hard?

"the size of your pay packet may be important, but so is its purchasing power. helpfully, a UBS report published this week offers a handy guide to how long it takes a worker on the average net wage to earn the price of a big mac in 73 cities. fast-food junkies are best off in chicago, toronto and tokyo, where it takes a mere 12 minutes at work to afford a big mac. by contrast, employees must toil for over two hours to earn enough for a burger fix in mexico city, jakarta and nairobi."

so, how hard are you working for your food? if you had to spend over two hours hard at work in order to afford the "special sauced" sandwich, might you think twice before pulling up in the drive-thru line? how different might your waist line look? your wardrobe? your social life? what is you definition of 'fortunate'?

source: economist.com

8.18.2009

How He Loves

i know, two youtube clips in a row…pretty lame. but i just wanted to share this song…How He Loves. i’ve heard several versions lately (thanks to david crowder band for introducing me to this beautiful hymn), but this one just might be my favorite. there’s something about a song being cut back to the bare essentials that seems to hit a deeper meaning for me. “and my heart turns violently inside of my chest”

8.15.2009

O Praise Him

stumbled upon this video tonight and had to share it. please watch. how many of us would be right with this guy at around the 4:00 mark!? a beautiful sign of praise....enjoy.

8.14.2009

What Excites You?

i received an email today from a friend. the message was short and the intent was purposeful and clear. one of the questions he posed to me was, “what excites you?”

here was my response.

"what excites me?
- those little moments when i can sit alone and be still. i know that sounds silly, but those are few and far between.

- silence is exciting.

- breathing is exciting.

- community is exciting.

- running further than i planned, feeling healthy,

- being disappointed by the taste of fast food,

- looking back and seeing real change in my life,

- knowing that im going to look back in a few years and laugh at the person i was when i was 30,
- going to africa,

- seeing people living up to their talents and potential, that excites me.

- being 30 excites me,

- playing golf and walking 18 holes, sweating profusely, and feeling my body completely exhausted afterwards excites me.

- seeing my dogs face at the front window ever day when i get home,

- hearing katy laugh,

- the beauty and destructive powers of nature,

- the lack of cable tv,

- salvation and pursuit,

- the mystery as to how and why all of this came to be, that excites me."

so, my question to you is, “what excites you?”

8.13.2009

Re-Edit

"ferris bueller's day off" is the best movie ever made, and that is a scientific fact. i will not argue about this.

i stumbled upon some 're-edited' movie trailers today and wanted to share them. funny how the movie could take a completely different perspective depending on how a selected few clips are presented. enjoy....and remember, best. movie. ever.

the touching, sensitive trailer



requiem for a day off trailer



the psycho thriller trailer



the other psycho thriller trailer



the "i'm not gay" trailer



the "stand tall" trailer


source: chris higgins, mental floss

8.12.2009

The Moment of (un)Change

do you ever look back over a period of time in your life and realize just how much you have changed? if not, go ahead, take a moment…i’ll wait...

……

okay, so you’ve changed some. no real revelation there, right?

isn’t it funny how things just seem to change though, often without us even noticing? take for example (lame example) something as generic as a tip after a haircut. what use to be an automatic $2 suddenly turned into $4. (typical men’s haircut tip. women’s tips must to be calculated by nasa.) when did this happen? you have no idea right…it just did. odds are, you don’t remember the moment that you decided that $2 was no longer enough for the 7 minute hair trimming process that you just received. it just happened without you realizing it. it was a process.

aren’t our lives just like this? or at least, shouldn’t they be?

suddenly…

…laziness ends…

…daydreams turn into reality…

…we no longer ‘need’ the lifestyle built on money and possessions, because we have come to realize that those things are just that…’things’…and they will fail…

...we finally layed our pride aside and asked someone how to fill the emptiness within us...

…something is in process…

we are all in process.

8.11.2009

An HIV-Positive Muppet

"in 2002, sesame workshop released a statement saying that they would be introducing an hiv-positive muppet to sesame street. what most people in the u.s. missed was that kami, the muppet in question, would not be appearing on the domestic version of sesame street, but the south african version, which is called takalani sesame. the producers of takalani sesame agreed that an hiv-positive muppet would be beneficial because south africa has the highest percentage of aids-infected people in the world, many of which are children. people became outraged that pbs would allow a children’s show to feature an hiv-positive character, and news sources and pundits went to town on the story. kami never appeared on the american sesame street, though she has proven to be a very successful character on takalani sesame."

is that too real for people?


-source: mental floss

8.10.2009

Your Attention, Please

when something bad happens in your life, how often does your initial reaction turn to praising God for the circumstances that have just unfolded? is that ever your first thought?

i’m guessing i’m not alone in saying that i don’t always see the glory and beauty in The Creator when troubles hit…but why not? isn’t everything that happens part of His magnificent plan? isn’t it our duty to praise Him in the wilderness? after all, God works all things to His glory, right?

are you seeking Him in all things? are you waiting patiently for the darkness to lift? is God trying to get your attention?

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” – Romans 12:12

7.26.2009

18:25

in a hot, glaring parking lot, our paths cross...but only for a moment. undoubtedly, she never notices me...

she's too enthralled in a conversation with her father. they walk by, hand in hand in the crosswalk, a smile on her face. immediately, my senses awaken, just as they have done thousands of times before. my ears begin to search for clues, signs, just a brief glimpse of current conditions. my eyes focus on dingy clothing, outdated hair styles, physical appearance, and the other typical artifacts of judgement. stereotypes begin to jockey for position in my mind. "remember the neighborhood, the surroundings," my thoughts drift to, "what must they drive, i wonder how small and sad their living conditions must be". the battle ensues...


what will rule my mind, judgement or grace? the eternal question runs ramped again. who's the poor? who's the unfortunate? who should be pitied? those with less, or those who are unsure of what they even have? are we the blessed, or the cursed?


why must i look past the smile on her face? when's the last time i saw a camel pass through the eye of a needle?


in a hot, glaring parking lot, our paths cross...but only for a moment. undoubtedly, she never notices me...

4.30.2009

And On That Note...

and on that note, i believe it's time for me to step away for a while. thanks for reading (if you still are after my last few video adds) and i hope you enjoyed, or at least thought about some of the things mentioned, vented upon, and single-handidly discussed on this small little megaphone of a voice. i don't really have a time frame in place for the length of my digital departure...could be back next week, could be gone for good...not really sure. but i assume i'll find something eventually that i haven't already posted about...in the mean time, please enjoy this video...and when you think of me, think of me well. thanks!

4.24.2009

The Longest Way

remember in the movie forrest gump, when the lead character played by tom hanks decides to just start running...and ends up running clear across the united states? well, as crazy and difficult as that may sound, it's not really that unbelievable. many people have decided to do this all over the world at one time or another, for one reason or another. some to raise political awareness, some to raise money for a charity or noteworthy cause, and still others (like forrest) simply because they could.

well, i stumbled upon a story (see video below) about a young man who did something very similar, simply because he could. his name is christoph rehage, a 28 year old from hanover, germany. his goal was to walk from beijing to germany. now, while he may not have been treking across america, and he may have been keeping track of his distance traveled with the often confusing kilometer, he did grow a pretty sweet beard. click here for his website.

4.16.2009

Overpass

a crazy thing happened on my way to work today.

see, it started off as any other day. get up, shower, get dressed, feed dog, kiss wife goodbye, get in car, drive to work, etc. only, on that drive to work, something happened. i was driving along as i do every other day, listening to the radio, navigating moderate workday traffic, thinking about what meetings, projects and goals i had to accomplish, etc. when suddenly, something was different. i spotted someone walking toward my car. sounds fairly common, i know, except for the fact that i wasn't driving down a normal city street...i was on the highway...and an overpass at that.

i had reached the summit of a very large interchange and was driving along when suddenly i saw a person, a young man, walking up the overpass from the direction i was traveling towards...and i immediately felt uncomfortable about that. why would someone be walking up a large, traffic-filled overpass? out of gas was the only sane explanation that popped into my head, but that was quickly washed away because there are no gas stations on the top of an overpass ramp.

the alternative option kept flashing in my head, but i didn't want to think about that outcome...i did everything i could not to look back and not to ponder. i turned the radio up, in an attempt to drown out my own thoughts. i distracted myself as best i could with radio programs and music all the way to the office. once at work, i sought other distractions to divert my conscience from what i had most likely been a part of. a coworker arriving a few minutes later confirmed my sorrowful thoughts...the young man who had just minutes before walked past my moving car was no more. my coworker said "did you hear that someone jumped from..." that's all he had to say... i knew... it was a long way down.

4.08.2009

Stumble

isn’t it funny how we can just ‘stumble’ upon things now in this information age? for example, thanks to clustrmaps and sitemeter, i know that my blog has been visited 7,931 times in the past year and has 14,490 page views…i can only assume that a few of those are thanks to people ‘stumbling’ upon it (thanks google). how else would it explain hits from such countries as: serbia, ecuador, and the united republic of tanzania? i mean, the united states, canada, the united kingdom, even australia i could see, but the falkland islands, really? i don't even know where that is!
regardless, that's a lot of people reading (or at least glancing as they quickly click out) the words that i have written. i better make sure my words don't cause me to stumble in the process...that's a lot of people who could get a bad first (and perhaps only) impression of who i am.

that being said, how often do we 'stumble' upon people in our lives who give us a wrong impression? how often are we the ones caught in the middle of a stumble, causing others to perhaps judge us prematurely? how many times can you stumble before that trait becomes who you are?

i think back to a story i heard a couple years ago by a man named mike, a great man after God's heart. he was telling a group of us one day about a time he fell short...and the simple recollection of that instance all this time later brought this man to tears. his story was taken in as an everyday occurence by some, but i'd like to think that his words had a great impact on me (it must of if i'm still recalling it). see, he had a short lapse in judgement, a momentary glitch in his love and grace meter while being frustrated in traffic...and he allowed those frustrations to get the best of him. he yelled from the safety of his air conditioned car and motioned at the driver who had just cut him off, and he told us that at that moment he knew that he could no longer share the Gospel with this individual...he had blown any chance he may have had.

now, of course that is only some what true. i mean sure, he could have followed the man home (hoping not to appear like a stalker and have the cops called on him, of course), and explain that he had messed up, that he was sorry for his anger, etc. and through that action shared the love of Jesus, but i think you understand what i'm trying to say. the point is, sometimes we don't get a second chance, we don't get a redo...when we stumble, people see. of course, we all do it. (i do it all the time...which my wife can most certainly attest to.)

here's where i'm going with this: are you aware of your stumbles, even before they happen? are you stumbling without remorse? are you seeking accountability for the things that you fall over time and time again? are you truly aware of what's at stake?


"selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
-oscar wilde

4.07.2009

Work vs. Internet - Part II

in keeping with yesterday's theme of giving yourself a little down time at work, here is a 4 minute video that i am sure will truly inspire you to be more productive in the workplace. (sorry to those who can't watch youtube videos at work...have you shown your boss yesterdays research yet!)



note: check out the lady's reaction at the 1:20 mark. from her expression you'd think she was being forced to watch an assult and battery or sir mix a lot's baby got back video. old people are awesome!

4.06.2009

Work vs. Internet

according to a recent study by the universtity of melborne (click here), it actually pays to surf the internet at work. this study concludes that employees who use office time to goof off online for a total of less than 20% of their average work day actually increase productivity by 9%. now, i'm no mathematician, but if you spend an entire 8-hour day knocking off online, that should increase your work productivity by a whopping 45%! wait...that's probably not right.

regardless, enjoy some web browsing on office time. and if your boss questions your work productivity, tell him that updating your fantasy baseball team and checking your latest bids for stun guns, italian soccer jerseys and mortuary supplies on ebay is actually good for the company. and if that works, let me know if your office is hiring!

3.31.2009

Leadership

i read something in my texas society of architects annual report about leadership that i found interesting. this was from the forward by the tsa president, and he quoted a san antonio pastor as saying that leadership "equals influence" and the pastor followed that proposition by stating that a good working definition of leadership is "disturbing people. but at a rate they can absorb it."

i found the part saying that it equals influence pretty much right on. that really seemed like a no-brainer to me. but the idea that it is about disturbing people made me smile. i had never thought of it in that way...but perhaps it was right on as well. if you're not pressing people to do something better; regardless of what field it may be in; then what (or who) are you really leading?

who are you disturbing? who's disturbing you?

3.30.2009

Participant or Observer?

below are some random, jumbled thoughts flying around in my allergy infested, politically incorrect, case of the monday’s head. thoughts that have been stumbling through my mind for a while…some for a couple days, some for a couple years. not sure what it all means, but i felt like they should be written down…if nothing else, at least they’re out of my head. these are questions i find myself pondering occasionally (but not nearly often enough).

: how many times have you felt led to do something…only to think; “i know, i know, i know” over and over again?

: is your life bearing fruit?

: how many times do you make excuses as to why you don’t do something? that you keep telling yourself, “once this is fixed, then…” do you ever think that you’ll never really be ready, that you’ll keep finding something to use as an excuse, so perhaps it’s time to stop making excuses and just do it?

: are you a participant, or are you simply an observer?

: what is your holy discontent and what are you going to do about it?

: "all our good deed are but filthy rags.” why do i do the things i do…for my glory, or for His?

3.20.2009

Entitlement

i had a great talk with my grandfather yesterday. he sat down next to me and began to reminisce. he started talking about what life was like back when he was growing up. how during the depression, very few people had a job…how he would be sent by his mother to buy a pound of ground beef and a loaf of bread for $0.20. how he and his brothers only had 1 pair of good shoes, so they’d have to go to church at different times, so they could all wear the shoes. how people would sleep on their porches during the summer, because there was no air conditioning and the heat inside the house was commonly too unbearable.

then, he began to discuss how life was during world war II. how you couldn’t buy butter anymore. how gas was rationed and you had to have stamps in order to even purchase it. when your stamps ran out, so did your gas. tires were nearly impossible to come by also. if you got a flat, that was it…there was no store around the corner where you could purchase another one.

that got me to thinking…how would we deal with that today? what would the crime and suicide rates look like if suddenly we were thrown back to those harder times? how would we deal? would we?

why do we have this sense now in our culture that we are entitled to certain things? that we no longer have to ‘suffer’ for anything…that they should just be a given. a new computer, a car on our 16th birthday, unlimited text messaging…

how will this look in the future? what will we have ‘suffered’ for that future generations feel are just owed to them? life before internet, playing outside, cars with manual door locks and windows…

what will you tell your grandchildren someday?

3.18.2009

Path, Robert Frost, Proverbs

i have a thought or two on the idea of path, robert frost and "the road not taken", our journey and Proverbs. this is from my weekly post on phlebotomic. click here to read my thoughts and let me know yours.

3.13.2009

Sex, Lies and Photoshop

curious? want to read more? then click here.

the man who put this post together is really, really intelligent and i hear all the ladies saying that he is quite attractive. i even overheard a young boy tell his father that he wanted to grow up to be just like this guy...i would love to meet him one day, just so i could shake his hand and tell the everyone i know about that moment...

sorry about that, too much coffee and taco grease this morning. enjoy the post and happy friday!

3.11.2009

Beauty: One Step Closer

the following is from my post on phlebotomic


beauty is a feeling, an emotion
when all is as it seems, as it should be
when competing forces are at peace
when breaths are caught, when shoulders are relaxed

beauty is a tingling sensation, the goose bumps
a moment to be captured, stored in your memory
a thought not soon to be forgotten
an image of heart, a counterpart of love

beauty is all around, constantly overlooked
it lives on city highways, it’s found in suburban shopping malls
it’s one step closer to reality
what we all possess, what keeps us going

3.10.2009

Facebook Is Brain Porn

did the title grab your attention? have an idea where this one is going?now, while i didn't actually write the following blog, i must say i agree with much of what the writer (roy bragg, san antonio express news) has to say. i myself have been on a facebook semi-hiatus for the past week and a half (i've signed on to facebook only a couple times, and only long enough to check inbox messages and ministry updates from certain individuals), and i have to admit, i haven't missed the constant parousing of friends status updates one bit. my facebook craving was getting to the point of full-fledged addiction...i was craving the facebook brain porn. and as i wrote recently, those expectations were going greatly unmet.

anyway, click here to see the blog written by roy bragg, and feel free to let me know your thoughts.

3.09.2009

Tributary

stream of consciousness, envelop me
wrap me up and comfort me
plug into me and straighten out the jumbled mess,
the birds nest of rambled thoughts intertwined within my head
make sense for me, unpack for me
the thoughts that are too tangled to see

past memories, penned and pushed
what was real and what was simply wished
who was i then, who am i now
what does the future hold and can i trust that it is true

sometimes wishing for a jolt, a sudden shock
to awake me from the this straight line
how will this knowledge be used…will it be used
or will it be thrown by the wayside
making way for something new, something unseen

past and present
work and play
all flow together, get mixed together
outcome anticipated
currently a tributary

3.06.2009

Childhood Memories

lately i've been catching myself thinking back to my childhood (perhaps a sign of old age setting in) and recalling random, but pleasant memories. i'm not sure the reasoning behind these recollections, but it seems that in almost all of these 'flashbacks', my senses of smell and sound come through in full force.

for example, last week i visited my old elementary school for a work project, and besides the fact that everything looked much smaller than i remembered it (i haven't been there in about 16 years), the distinct scents of the main office, hallways and classrooms came rolling back in full force. at that moment, it felt welcoming...it felt as if i had never left...and those scents had not changed in my mind at all over all these years.

as far as sounds go...there are so many that came to mind over this past week or so. the scent of my great-grandmothers house; which had a very unique aroma to it; but i assume smells just like that of everyone's great-grandmothers house. a pleasant and cooling thunderstorm that hit while on a campout in the middle of a blistering summer evening in middle school. the carnival type repetitive music playing in the background, a gentle grinding of the metal amusement rides as they move along their tracks, the landscape pebbles playfully crunching beneath the feet of dozens of little kids running from ride to ride at the kiddie park while attending multiple, multiple birthday parties. those are just a few of the sounds that seem to have made a permanent home within my head.

isn't it funny how we are able to remember such random and all to often useless little tid-bits of our lives, but we seem to fail to recall with any detail whatsoever things that we might actually classify as 'save until i delete' in our mental tivo. we are indeed strange and unique creatures. so, what are some of your pleasant childhood memories that are engrained in detail in your memory?

3.05.2009

If You Are In Oregon...

if you are in oregon and drive a 1990's green ford escort...be careful.

3.04.2009

Midweek Therapy Session

i came upon the following and i just felt the need to share. (note: there might be a dash of sarcasm to the list below.) i know i've experienced pretty much all of these at some point at my office. (many seem to be fairly constant). you know you're in the same boat. please, feel free to share some stories in the comments section below. "this is a safe place. a place where we can feel free to share our feelings. think of this (space) as a nest in a tree of trust and understanding. we can say anything here." remember, there's safety in numbers!

1. never give me work in the morning. always wait until 4:00 and then bring it to me. the challenge of a deadline is refreshing.

2. if it's really a rush job, run in and interrupt me every 10 minutes to inquire how it's going. that helps. or even better, hover behind me, advising me at every keystroke.

3. always leave without telling anyone where you're going. it gives me a chance to be creative when someone asks where you are.

4. if my arms are full of papers, boxes, books, or supplies, don't open the door for me. i need to learn how to function as a paraplegic and opening doors with no arms is good training in case i should ever be injured and lose all use of my limbs.

5. if you give me more than one job to do, don't tell me which is priority. i am psychic.

6. do your best to keep me late. i adore this office and really have nowhere to go or anything to do. i have no life beyond work.

7. if a job i do pleases you, keep it a secret. if word gets out, it could mean a promotion.

8. if you don't like my work, tell everyone. i like my name to be popular in conversation. i was born to be whipped.

9. if you have special instructions for a job, no need to relay that to me at first. in fact, save them until the job is almost done. no use confusing me with useful information.

10. never introduce me to the people you're with. i have no right to know anything. in the corporate food chain, i am plankton. when you refer to them later, my shrewd deductions will identify them.

11. be nice to me only when the job i'm doing for you could really change your life and send you straight to manager's hell.

12. tell me all your little problems. no one else has any and it's nice to know someone is less fortunate. i especially like the story about having to pay so much taxes on the bonus check you received for being such a good manager.

13. wait until my yearly review and then tell me what my goals should have been. give me a mediocre performance rating with a cost of living increase only. i'm not here for the money anyway.


can you relate to any of these?

3.03.2009

Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200

go to jail. go directly to jail. do not pass go. do not collect $200. do you remember those words from the family game, monopoly? click here to read more from my post on phlebotomic.

3.01.2009

Missing: Communication

when does something good turn into something bad?

i will be the first to tell you that technology is a wonderful thing. it has made all of our lives amazingly easier than they were even 5 or 10 years ago. i love the fact that i don't have to go inside a gas station anymore to prepay for gas, i can just swipe a card. and when i get home, i don't have to worry how much money i have, i can just look at my bank account balance in real-time on my wireless laptop. pretty cool stuff, so don't get me wrong, but the question remains, when does something good turn into something bad?

with that being asked, here's my two cents. i feel that, as a society, we have lost the ability to communicate. we have turned into a culture of instant messages and meaningless facebook updates... of nonstop text messages and constant tweets (a tweet is a instant mass message from twitter.com, just wait, it might just drive you crazy very, very soon!) now, while all of these forms of 'communication' may be great in a certain context, i feel that we have; or will soon (see tweets above) constantly crossed the line from 'necessity' into laziness and convenience.

i will use myself as a perfect example. lately, i have found myself constantly clicking over to facebook to see who has changed their status...as if any of it is going to make any difference to me. i go back constantly, only to be disappointed everytime, because no ones status is fulfilling to me. please don't be offended, i mean, that's great that you're going to the movies later, or are very tired, or are studying. good for you, but i don't think that me knowing these things has any bearing on my life whatsoever...so, why do i keep going back? perhaps because i am human, and i enjoy personal communication. personal communication, through a message on a computer, i must be on drugs!

i know of other people who are in dating relationships, and they 'communicate' more through text messages than actual phone or personal conversations on a daily basis. what is that? is there substance to those phone buttons? can you read tone through those digital letters on the screen? something has been lost. we spend less and less time personally communicating with one another and more and more time wondering why we don't get along..asking why they are mad at you...wondering why they are ignoring the last text you just sent.

when was the last time you had a real, personal, face-to-face, looking square in the eye, meaningful conversation with someone?

as for me, i have decided to put facebook on the shelf for a while, and see how it's loss in my life really effects me. i know that this blog really isn't a personal conversation, per se, but i also feel that it opens the line of personal reflection and potential real, purpose driven conversation. what do you thing about that? do you think that technology has led to a loss of intimate, purposeful dialogue in your life? hit me up with a text message or tweet! ttyl...

2.27.2009

2.26.2009

Man In The Mirror

the following video was found while doing a spontaneous youtube search after seeing this song performed (rather poorly in my very untalented opinion) on american idol. i think it takes a lot to carry such a powerful song.

"if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change"...


some of us are still looking for our niche, our way to make the permanent change in this world. so often we see something (such as a youtube video) and get inspired...but is that real, lasting inspiration, is it holy discontent, or is it just a temporary awe of images? "no message could have been any clearer"... i pray that clarity will show it's face soon.

click here for the link to phlebotomic

2.25.2009

Drought (A Conversation) Part II

Click here for part I of this conversation.

jeff – 1:15 pm
: so, is it safe to say that for some reason, Americans think we are 'owed' something? that if we are without, it's someone else's job to provide for us? this could be the case today in respect to the american economy. people think that since money is scarce (relatively speaking) that they deserve someone else to help them out.

the following thought always makes me feel like an old man wearing suspenders and velco shoes, but here it goes anyway. i often think that americans as a whole have forgotten what working hard for something is like (myself definately included). i can think back to when i was younger and playing a team sport or even younger and constructing some sort of mess in the dirt and leaves in the back yard...it was hard work...but i always assumed that i was going to do it. i very rarely complained about it, and never asked for help back then. i saw a goal and focused on it... i dont think i am the only person who feels this way...so what happened? what changed when i (we) stopped digging in the dirt and starting click buttons for a living?

as to your question as to why do we revert...i think in some silly, psychological, infantile manner, those things are comfort. the change is only temporary, and temporary 'change' doesn't really breed change at all, it breeds a temporary diversion.

on the subject of drought as it relates to water...i drive home everyday, and i see an untouched landscape near my home. it is covered with cedar and mesquite trees, brush and rock. then i pull into the neighborhood, and what do i see? none of that. i see half dead grass and the occassional oak tree in the front yards of people. i see water run off from sprinkler systems that just recently sprouted to life and the colorful blooms of flowers better designed for the climates of new england than south texas. needless to say, i think we missed it. we move out to the middle of the sticks, only to plow down the sticks and plant the same trees as those planted years ago in inner-city neighborhoods 75 years ago. its comfort. i look out in the distance in our back yard (which we rent, not own) and i see brush-lined hilltops in the distance. i focus closer, right over our 6-foot high wood fence and what do i see, a fenced-in retention pond filled with concrete barriers and a dirt lined floor. its comfort.

kyle – 1:26 pm: the detention pond outside of your backyard is a good example of our current mindset.

somewhere along the way, folks realized that adding impervious cover to the fabric of a city worsened flooding. less water soaks into the ground, more runs through parking lots and into swollen creeks.

rather than slowing the rate at which we pave paradise to put up more parking lots, it just meant that now we would sprawl a little further out because every development needed extra acreage for their detention pond. the added sprawl then exacerbates flooding by taking the impervious world further into the territory that once served as natural flood control. in placing a band-aid on one issue, we opened the wound larger on another.

for the sake of our suburban independence and western-determinism (i will live wherever i want to – everyone else be damned…), we ended up creating more problems that now look for solutions. but at least we don’t live in the city with the poor people.

jeff – 3:33 pm: as katy said humorously (but rather perfectly) after seeing a deer get demolished by a large truck while trying to cross a highway of an until recently rural area, "we're taking over their land!" it is very much a western mindset that we take the old adage "if we put our minds to it, we can accomplish anything" and add our own twist to it, never really caring what the cost will be, only the narrow minded end result.

a few years ago i got to take a trip to las vegas. during that time, we took a day tour of the hoover dam. i must admit, that was a very impressive and daunting structure, and we enjoyed the dam tour very much. one thing that humored me though was seeing the declining water level against the rock from lake mead above the dam. a major reason for the construction of this massive slab of concrete was to create electricity for a huge chunk of california, and in the process, a lake was formed. this lake has continued to provide water to the entire las vegas valley for years. the city was virtually born thanks to a construction project. now (or at least until last year) the city is growing at record numbers, and the lake level is quickly and steadily declining. they are increasing the population of a city so much, that a million plus people may someday be without a drinking source. an oasis in the desert...or a mirage? and the list of these instances goes on, i'm sure. if memory serves me correctly, i seem to remember hearing that el paso is running out of water as well.

and hey, katy and i are poor...we hope to be living in the city by august! do you know of any gated communities in the area?

kyle – 3:46 pm
: well, we are known consumers. if we live up to that moniker, then i suppose we should be depleting all of our resources. self-fulfilling prophecy.

the metaphor translates spiritually, by the way. if we are simply consumers of spirituality, we end up thirsty and wandering lost in our self-made desert.

what we need, both culturally and spiritually, is an identity shift. instead of being consumers, we need to be stewards. we need to be responsible keepers of the place we inhabit and of the legacy we claim.

jeff – 4:25 pm
: yes, we are known consumers. funny, i was thinking earlier that i really want to build and maintain a garden...be a producer. i would like to bear fruit, but alas, i'm a renter! perhaps that tangible illustration is a look deeper into the spiritual fruit that is being produced.

i've always loved the parable of the sower, and i've often wondered which seed i would be. i know which one i'd like to be, but liking and actually being can be two different stories.

luke 8: 14-15 reads: "the seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

am i choked by life's worries and riches, or do i retain the word and bear fruit? but in order to bear fruit, one requires water, for a drought would most certainly kill off most any form of life.

perhaps a drought is never desired, but sometimes it's necessary in order to show what is necessity. the trick is cutting off that which is not required, in order to focus more attention on that which produces, that which is intrinsically good.

final thougths?

kyle – 4:35 pm: drought reveals. conflict clarifies.

jeff – 4:53 pm: conversation leads to clarity, openness and trust. performance will surely follow.

"the thing about performance is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities" -sydney smith, 18th century english essayist

--------------------------

so, there you have it, one topic, one days work. if you're still reading this, first off, thanks! but also, what are your thoughts on drought, or any of the subjects randomly addressed in these two posts?

2.24.2009

Drought (A Conversation) Part I

today, while listening to some people at work talk about their gardens, dead tress, and rain clouds (amongst many other nonsensical things), the topic of drought came up. that word got me to thinking...what are my thoughts about drought, both in the physical lack of rain sense, and other forms, such as being in a spiritual drought. i decided to pose the idea and my thoughts to kyle. below is part I of our emailed banter. enjoy!

jeff - 10:36 am: drought changes climates...it changes people’s way of thinking. just as when gas prices rose incredibly last year, it changed peoples mindset on suv's, mass transit, etc. i think that a couple year drought would be good for a mindshift, from low flow toilets, the re-thinking of chopping down acres of trees for urban sprawl, to xerioscaping. it will get people out of their comfort zone, which is typically a good thing.

kyle – 10:52 am: hardships are great drivers of efficiencies.

jeff – 11:11 am: first off, can i just say that i love the vagueness of your statements!

so, we are inefficient because we have no stimulant to realize the inefficiency? or we are aware of the inefficiency, but as long as there's a surpus of something, why bother to make a change?

i would say that drought brings about better awareness. we are without, we are lacking that which we need, desire, etc. to steal a song title line from the 80's hair metal band cinderalla, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

when does the risk outweigh the reward? or does it? just as some (we know who you are, matt) take joy in seeing the collapse of the global economy, stock market, housing and banking industry, etc., when does the joy end and fear begin? When does it becomes personal? when it finally takes a hold of you? when it comes to drought (of any kind: rain, spiritual, etc.), when does the risk outweigh anything else? what about the poor planners?

kyle – 11:42 am: we are inefficient because we can get away with it. we are aware, but unaffected by it.

let me use an example from my time living in south africa. most homes (including ALL new homes by government mandate) featured solar powered water heaters.

why? because in a country with frequent power shortages (and outages) people wanted to at least be able to take a warm shower or bathe their kids. so, in addition to complaining about the power problems (which is generally where americans stop), south africans began to take matters into their own hands to circumvent the power grid. they installed solar panels on their rooftops so that their bathwater would be warm. light a candle, add some bubbles, and enjoy the latest round of blackouts. the government then noticed and saw what a huge power savings and grid-relief that the solar panels provided and made the installation of such panels mandatory.

it is precisely because of the lack of dependable electricity that the south african people decided to become more efficient. they were affected. so they made change. they could care less about being green. they just wanted a hot shower.

to put it another way, paraphrasing a well-known saying: “necessity is the mother of all invention.”

the curious thing to me is why we (americans) tend to revert to old habits as soon as the bottleneck subsides. in san antonio, why don’t we have water rationing all the time. we live in a drought-sensitive area with blistering summers and a limited and somewhat mysterious water source. so, about every other year we have mandatory water rationing when the rains fail. why not just conserve all the time so we don’t have to freak out every july? this is one of the few places where government can help to regulate our stupidity and greed.

with gas prices back under $2, the same argument could play out over hybrid car sales (down), aversion to public transportation (up), sprawl (growing), and urban infrastructure (decaying).

so why do we revert? what in us abhors efficiency? is it our western-determinism? is it our abundance blinding us?

part II coming soon

2.23.2009

Obedience

lately, the word 'obedience' has been running through my head constantly. naturally, this really got me to wondering, am i being obedient to God? sure, i may give money to the church, charities or organizations, but is it given out of obligation or out of obidence. perhaps i go out of my way for someone, but again, is it due to outside pressure and forces, or due solely to my obidence to Him. why do i read the word everyday, because i'm suppose to, or because in doing so i am being obedient?

i was doing some google searching earlier on several different topics and i stumbled upon what is written below. do you agree with what it says...and if so, are you doing your best to adhere to it?

"how important is obedience to God in my daily walk?

obedience to God is very important in your Christian growth. no one in this life will ever become sufficiently sanctified to the point where they are always obeying the law, but we can honor and maintain obedience to God by pondering on, or meditating on, the words of Jesus. the term "to ponder" means to weigh in the mind, to think or reflect, especially quietly and deeply. to ponder on something is like meditation which implies a definite focusing of one's thoughts on something in order to understand it deeply. the author of Proverbs 14:15 makes a good point: "a simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps."

the greatest commandment is to love God by keeping His commandments. matthew 22:36-38 says, "'teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?' Jesus replied: 'love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' this is the first and greatest commandment.'"

you ask, "how important is obedience to God?" in the gospel of john, obedience to God is underscored time and time again. john 14:15 says, "if you love me, you will obey what i command."

the great commandments are reiterated in matthew 22:36-40 which says, "'teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?' Jesus replied: '"love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." this is the first and greatest commandment. and the second is like it: "love your neighbor as yourself." all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.'"

jesus is very concerned about us and He wants us to do more than participate in good works, He wants us to believe in Him. He wants us to come up higher and be "like" Him. when we are being obedient to God, we are doing just that: knowing Him, loving Him, and having a personal, intimate relationship with Him. to do this, we must be attentive to God's laws. this is not an option, because you can't have an intimate relationship with Jesus and trample on the words He taught. being obedient to God is not the same as sticking to the speed limit because you get a fine if you disobey. obedience to God is living God's word because you want to and enjoy being filled with the love of Jesus.

we must believe in Jesus, we must have faith in Him, and we must trust Him! calling ourselves a Christian on its own won't do. following the commandments step wise won't do. reading the Bible diligently won't do. we have to take the word into our hearts. when we make the transition from calling ourselves a good Christian to being someone who is having a deep personal and intimate relationship with the Lord, then we can have the highest of joys, the deepest of peace, and receive the fullest measure of God's love and power each and every day of our lives.

we need to enter into God's rest and be less concerned with worrying about what else we could do to make Jesus love us more. hebrews 4:10 says, "for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his." it would be invaluable if you were to spend time reading God's Word and ponder on one aspect as you walk. step into the scene, imagine what it might have been like to be there, create Jesus in your mind, feel the love, and experience a deep intimate relationship with the Lord.

that is the essence of obedience to God.

2.20.2009

Energy: In Photos

here is my post for the week on our group blog: phlebotomic. this weeks topic was energy... click here for the link... hope you enjoy. please, leave your comments, thoughts, reasons you liked it, explainations for hating it, gratitude from the illiterates, etc.












hey, bernard madoff reads it...shouldn't you!?

2.18.2009

Semi-Permanent Thoughts (Of Semi-Consciousness and Potentially Broken Links)

* why is it that i can remember vivid stories and events that happened in my life regarding these songs: pearl jam - alive, gin blossoms - hey jealousy, r.e.m. - everybody hurts, and live - lightening crashes; all of which occured well over 10 years ago, but i can't recall if i remembered to turn off the coffee pot this morning?

* most frustrating thing: people who don't use their blinkers while driving

* and speaking of driving, am i the only person that gets nervous whenever i look in my rearview mirror and there is a cop driving directly behind me? do you think the nervousness could have anything to do with the unpaid speeding ticket i got in a nearby city over 8 years ago?

* why is it when the local news airs segments showing people having special charities and programs deliver toys to their homes for their children around Christmas time because they are too poor to afford gifts, or when a news reporter is interviewing a family looking for government bailout money to avoid foreclosure on their home, it never seems to fail that the families don't think to hide the 52" plasma screen tv and wii that the kids are playing before allowing the camera crews in? i don't have a 52" tv or wii, can i get some money too?

* if i was the owner of a tape measure manufacturing company, i'd allow my employees to change the increments on the tape dimensions once a year on april 1st. i think it would be funny if they were just a bit off, not enough to easily catch, but on a long measurement, it would be a significant difference. that wouldn't cause any serious construction problems, would it!?

* i have a new favorite song. it is by josh turner. the song is called 'the way he was raised'. click here for the lyrics. sorry, couldn't find a video.

* no random thoughts blog would be complete without a random link: click here for a link to catholic purgatory.

* and how about a random photo....enjoy!

2.16.2009

Jesus and The Mason Jar

i came across this blog the other day that i wanted to share it...yet another reason that God is a spurs fan! for those of you who have followed the san antonio spurs with any regularity over the past 10 years or so, you know that they have had a strong Christian presence, namely from avery johnson and david robinson. but i'm guessing you haven't heard much in the Jesus department since their retirements...well, wait no more. click here to read from a related blog 48 minutes of hell...and be sure to cheer on the mason jar, roger mason jr.

also, i tried adding a picture of the mason jar, but apparently blogger doesn't like me this morning...so if you're wondering what he looks like, click here.

2.14.2009

Valentine's - Revisited

i decided to repost a blog i wrote last year at this time. one that really reminds me of what true, selfless love is all about. so, as you're out running around, buying your $50 roses, boxes of overpriced chocolate and fighting for the last parking spot at every restaurant in town, i hope that you'll remember this story...which actually dates back to november 1st of 2007. click here to read the love...

2.13.2009

In The Ghetto

i know this may just be a song...and it was written/recorded/performed many, many years ago, but isn't the message still true today? "are we too blind to see, do we simply turn our heads and look the other way" is this true of us? is this true of me? it's funny what flipping through radio stations in the car during a lunch break can do to a person. one minute i'm daydreaming while listening to the eagles sing take it easy, the next i'm pondering all the frustrations i see and encounter in life, and i start to question what i'm actually doing to be the remedy. how am i being the helping hand? hey, i guess 50,000,000 elvis fans can't be wrong...



as the snow flies
on a cold and gray chicago mornin'
a poor little baby child is born
in the ghetto
and his mama cries
'cause if there's one thing that she don't need
it's another hungry mouth to feed
in the ghetto

people, don't you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way

well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
in the ghetto

and his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal and he learns how to fight
in the ghetto

then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
ee buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don't get far
and his mama cries

as a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
in the ghetto

as her young man dies,
on a cold and gray chicago mornin',
another little baby child is born
in the ghetto

2.12.2009

Cutest Dog Contest

i'm sure some of you are caught up in westminster kennel club dog show excitement that is happening this week... and how could you not be? odd looking dogs, slightly uncomfortable comments from the announcers, selfishly hoping that one of the dogs has to 'relieve itself' on the green carpet, etc.

well, check out the photo above...is that not the cutest dog you've ever seen!? yep, that's right, that's duncan...our dog! well, since i know you all agree with me, and you all think that duncan is in fact the cutest dog, then you'd love to click here and vote for him in the cutest dog contest on mysa.com! i believe his photo is on page 5...and you can vote once a day, so feel free to occupy 2 minutes of your time everyday as you're sitting at work waiting for lunch!

also, don't forget to check out the six-word memoirs: on love and heartbreak. click here.

Six-Word Memoirs: On Love and Heartbreak

seeing as it's almost valentine's day, i thought i'd at least throw out a spark of love, even if it is just spawned from commercialism at it's finest. i recently came across a magazine that was entirely dedicated to the idea of summing up your love life in six-word phrases. the concept sounded a bit difficult and far-fetched, until i read through some examples. below are a few that entertained my perhaps smaller than average adult male brain, along with one that i wrote (can you guess which one?). i was pleased to see that these phrases, or 'memoirs'; as their called, did not focus solely on love, but also the pain that it can cause. i think for so many of us, for all the great memories we may have, an equal amount of people may be able to recall a painful love at a moments notice. here are a few examples, and mine...enjoy!

"he sees the me i don't"
"for the children, i remain his"
"i finally threw away his toothbrush"
"our prison visitations were surprisingly romantic"
"red-eye. him window. me aisle. love"
"if i get chlamydia, blame myspace"
"will government ever let us marry"
"i dated wrong. i married right"
"not him again! said my mother"
"silently suffered his facial hair experiments"
"three marriages. two divorces. ba .333"
"what do you want for dinner"
"if only he wasn't a Republican"
"tried men. tried women. like cats"
"leap of faith. Sh*t, no parachute"
"inevitably, his obituary didn't mention me"
"we "I do" -ed. Then he didn't"
"two marriages. the wrong one died"
"best family ever. thank you, match.com"
"marriage, children, empty nest: Now what"

what's your six-word love/heartbreak memoir? come on, you know you can think of at least one! click on the comments section right below this and leave yours there. check back later to see what others had to write!

2.11.2009

Salt Marsh Diary

"at the bend in the river a flock of mallards is dozing in tall grass that is winter-bleached and battered by snow, by wind, by high water. worn thin, there is little cover in it but it is all the mallards have and must make do. in these river narrows, in the tie-downs of the straights and shallows, their only true refuge is day sleep. the pulse drops, the body stops except for the low breath and the least heat it needs to keep on living. even the sun is cold. and the mallards hold.

they are an average flock, these mallards. still as the ice grounded to the bank. closest are four drakes, laid up with their bills tucked to the crook at the back of their necks. positioned this way their heads are a virtual black so dark it is not a color but a gap. sensing my presence the drakes, in consort, look up. and a curious thing. that gap fills with an iridescence, so brilliant, reminiscent more of a scarab's shell than the soft hue of feathers.

it is the angle between the shafts. heads bent, the feathers spread. light falls straight in and vanishes. only when the drakes unfurl themselves do the feathers relax and close and the full green flash of plumage, bright as a lighthouse, beacons forth. the object of all this stands between them, a single hen, invisible as an afterthought. movement reveals her and (now that she is standing) so do her very orange feet. the color is a sign that breeding is imminent, though the choosing is not yet complete. it is for her the drakes risk themselves this way and hide as best they can when they sleep. for the need runs deep and the mallards stay.

i want to lie down beside them there on the spongy bank, nestle my face into the warm hollows of their wings and feel the pulse and listen to them breathe. but i must leave. not out of fear nor because i am riven by the frigid air and not because i want to. i am comforted here. as if i belong here. as i am sure we used to before we knew what we know and wish we did not."

this was written by mark seth lender, and i stumbled upon it yesterday evening while flipping radio stations. the first thing that struck me was the beauty with which it was written; and subsequently spoken; along with the detailed imagery and realistic language used. it really was a work of beauty…until the reader spoke the final line: “as i am sure we used to before we knew what we know and wish we did not.” that’s when the wheels started to spin in my head, and it became more than just a literary work. what do we know now? what do we wish we did not know? i’m sure we all have very different answers to that one…i know i can think of a few. what do you know now that you wish you did not?


transcript courtesy of living on earth on pri, public radio international.


2.09.2009

Graffiti: Illegal, or Art?

living in san antonio, i think most of us are used to seeing graffiti sprayed upon walls of old buildings, overpasses, street signs and fences. and i'm going to speak out of generalities right now and say that i assume most people would rather not have to look at it... most people see it as an eye-sore and a form of vandalism. but what about those cases when graffiti is allowed, when it's encouraged, when people get paid good money to display their artistic talents with the aid of an aersol can? what then? what changes?

take for instance, this example (click here). now, normally you wouldn't find 800 year old castles covered in spray painted images, but that's exactly what happened at kelburn castle in scotland. what are your thoughts now? art, or an abomination?

2.07.2009

Walkability

today, kyle and i walked from his house to the alamo, and back. it was 8.5 miles. it was fun. i'd do it again. below are a few photos from our adventure.

you know, it's funny how many things you see when you walk that you completely overlook when you're flying by in your car. everyone should walk more often and take a look around. in fact, there's even a web site dedicated to showing potential homebuyers the walkability of their future neighborhoods...how easily accessible the home is to certain things like grocery stores, restaurants, schools and parks. click here for the website. my house rates as a 31 out of 100...car-dependent. how nice would it be to live somewhere that was convinent, not car-dependent? i will know that joy soon enough, i hope. check out how walkable your home is, and enjoy the photos.

our first stop: shag the salon

for those of you wondering, you're in luck; yes, it is for rent! i bet the walkability of this place is off the charts!

oh yeah, our future's in good hands

gotta love the crane. where there's a crane, there's something going UP!

long legs, or short shins?

our meal fit for a king. gotta love gm steakhouse across from alamo plaza. how many places can you get a steak, baked potato, toast, salad and iced tea for $5.99? that's what i thought.

inside the men's restroom at gm steakhouse. what is it? a cigarette machine? a paper towel dispenser? a monument to efficiency?

why do you have to cross a barbed wire gate in order to take piano lessons?

kyle thought it would be funny to drop 1000 ping pong balls from this overpass during rush hour traffic. ladies and gentelmen, a church elder!

i'm not sure what's worse: this ladies matching blue suit / hat combo, or the fact that she took this 'professional' picture with her dog. i don't care what she's selling, i'll take 2!

nothing really clever to say here, i just like train tracks.

oh sweet, the newly designed 1974 peugeot 205 gti's are in!

isn't it great to see creatures in their natural habitat?!

cool crest...world's finest minature golf

donkey...with wagon

donkey...without wagon