September 17, 2010

  • Suspicious Vehicle


    Is it me, or does the lack of license plates (front and back) and any registration or inspection stickers on a vehicle a cause for concern?

    There has been a white Range Rover (late model, fairly spankin’ new) parked in our visitors parking area for the last 1.5 weeks. It comes in very late at night (probably past 11 or 12 at night because I generally don’t see it earlier than that time) and leaves fairly early in the mornings (by 7:30 or so). I know because it’s not there any time I’ve looked out the window at nights, but is there early in the mornings when I wake up.

    The vehicle has no front license plate and has no registration or inspection stickers on the windshield. Even brand new cars (with a temporary paper license stuck to the rear windshield) has the dealer inspection sticker on the front windshield.

    In the “heightened” nature of our post-9/11 era, I would have thought that my local P.D. would be interested in such a vehicle. But when I called, they seemed to be more interested in a “ticketable offsense,” meaning if there is no violation to be ticketed, they will not come out to look at it and/or investigate. In the officer’s words: “since it’s on private property [the condo parking lot], there must be someone who will want to sign a ticket against [the vehicle], and then we’ll come out to take a look at it.”

    Are you kidding me? Doesn’t this vehicle remotely sound suspicious?!?!?! Even just a little?

    Am I being paranoid?

August 26, 2010

  • Changes


    Things happened when I was away last week, on vacation with the family. Things in the office. Things which seemed not to amount to much (supposedly) to my superiors, but to the day-to-day “working” folks—in the trenches—amounts to a tremendous lot. They have no idea.

    We are squeezed beyond measure, and that was before the latest restructure. Yes, the dreaded “R” word. A word that speaks volumes above and beyond the concrete actions and physical effects. A colleague and I were promoted…with apparently very little thought or planning. Things are still being worked out. Despite having worked many, many hours over the last 3+ years, I now have even more responsibilities. I didn’t think that was possible.

    So, even though I feel like the guy on the left in the photo above, I find myself this morning at peace. Surprising, I know.

August 8, 2010

  • Frustrations

    Photo: Kevin Law

    An extremely trying week when—amidst the frustrations of not having enough time to even put through my expenses from a June UK business trip—my boss seemed to intimate that I shouldn’t be taking my planned vacation coming up. This, after seemingly encouraging me to take some time off when I first scheduled the vacation time; after all, I had not taken a vacation since October 2007. 2007!

    After another working summer Friday “off” which was more frustrating than productive, ferocious thunderstorms crackled through my mind filled with dark, evil clouds and strong malicious flashes of lightning followed by even angrier thunder. And, in no small ways, I think I let all who were in contact with me that day know just how pissed-off I was.

    There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
    Proverbs 12:18

    What happened, though, when I rounded out my week with the next reading in my One Year Bible reading? Proverbs 12:18. I could not have needed that reminder at a better time. Now, the hard part is, trying for the new me.

    PS: I found the above photo by searching “frustrations” on Flickr. It reminds me of Eddie.

July 27, 2010

  • Doctor, Doctor


    After my last few experiences with doctors, I have a burning question: is this the state of healthcare these days?

    In an attempt to get into better shape—not to mention, paying attention to my health overall—I had an annual physical this past Saturday to see where my body was. Since the last two doctors were both underwhelming—doctor 1 saw me for a physical for 20 minutes and sent the Qwest Diagnostic test results with his diagnosis and recommendation (“less carbs”) in the mail while doctor 2 (a D.O.) recommended a list of suppressants for my headaches within 5 minutes of meeting me—I decided to try the practice where my wife’s primary care physician works.

    On a not-particularly busy morning, the nurse saw me 15 minutes after I arrived, took my temperature, height, weight, urine and checked my eyesight. She deposited me in the exam room, where I waited for 20 minutes. When he came in, the doctor took the regular measurements and asked the typical first-time questions. Without blood-work results (I’m not even scheduled for the tests until Friday), he said that I was heading towards heart and high-blood pressure issues and that I needed to change my diet.

    Within 10 minutes, my physical was done. It was when I inquired further about chronic headaches—exercise-induced headaches I’ve had for the last 15 years (any kind of exertion) and also regular intense headaches which do not go away until after a full-night’s sleep—that the visit really shocked me.

    I don’t know [how heart medication, beta-blockers reduce instances of headaches]…no one knows…but they do. So, I can start you on Propranolol now…if there are no other questions…?

    He said “well, it doesn’t help to just take stronger pain-killers, we need to stop the cause of your headaches. There is a whole lot of drugs I can prescribe to you that will work to prevent you from getting headaches: they’re blood-pressure medications, heart medications, blood-thinners, beta blockers, inhibitors…many different kinds. They happen to be known to prevent headaches.” When I asked how exactly these other medications work to prevent headaches, he said “I don’t know…no one knows…but they do. So, I can start you on Propranolol now…if there are no other questions…?” I stopped him there and said “Um…I’d like to think about this a little first.”

    Knowing me for only 20-30 minutes, and without knowledge garnered from blood-tests, a medical-school trained physician was going to prescribe to me heart medication or high-blood pressure medication for headaches. Tell me there’s nothing wrong with that?!?!?!

    A friend—a collector of all things peculiar, especially in print—showed me the above advert he’d found tucked away in a book. The incident with my doctor reminded me of the really creepy catch-phrase in this ad: “it can turn complainers into compliers.” Creepy indeed.

July 1, 2010

  • Parenting by God’s Standards


    A Story: Sharing—Akiva and Yehuda

    We were at the local park Memorial Day morning. Isabelle had just gone to the top of the massive playground set, and she was beginning to play with the match-this puzzle (one of the many discovery installations on the set). A boy and his father had been making their way through the set a few “stations” behind us. When they caught up, the boy did not hesitate and immediately started playing the match-this puzzle. Though he didn’t touch her—and with both Simone just inches away and I a few feet away—Isabelle was startled and pulled away, haltingly.

    The father of this boy immediately corrected him, saying, “Akiva, share!” When he did not move away, his father repeated, “Akiva! Remember, share! Let her finish playing first before you play.” When he still did not move, Yehuda, the father, began to pull the boy back a little, but we protested, saying, “it’s okay, they can both play together.” Together, we continued to encourage both Isabelle and Akiva to share the match-this puzzle. As both children continued to hesitate, we resorted to the tried-and-true form of initiating communication: the high-five. It worked!

    And eventually, they learned that they had to share this common space, that the playground was a place where you played with others and continued to learn the meaning of sharing. Even if they’ve not learned it wholly, repeated instruction such as this reinforces the notion, the behavior—but most importantly, the principle.

    A Parental Exhortation

    Simone and I have been teaching Isabelle to share whenever she is in a social context: sharing what she is playing with. But, when it comes to reacting to either children who are the opposite and/or parents to don’t discipline or teach their children (see “Possessed”), we’re woefully unprepared. Just as we’ve encountered children and parents such as Akiva and Yehuda, we’ve equally encountered children who just ramble past and through everything in front of them without stopping to say “sorry” or sharing their space and parents who—seemingly, without instruction otherwise—either approve or are either completely oblivious to the behavior or do not understand how to instruct their children or don’t even think of instruction.

         • Shouldn’t we be instructing our children, even as they are young (especially)?
         • What happens when you encounter these moments?
         • How actively is a parent supposed to “protect” their children in these moments?
         • Do you pro-actively teach your children to be kind, to share, to help others?
         • If you don’t, why not?

    [EDIT: the questions above aren’t rhetorical. Feel free to answer in your comments: no Xanga log-in required.]

    In our present day and age—America, in particular—it is common to believe that it’s no one else’s business how we instruct or not instruct/teach our children. I’ll give you that if you are an atheist or agnostic, you won’t have God-driven principles or directives. But you still have your own morals or convictions to live—and teach—by.

    But if you are a Christian, then it is God’s command that you teach your young not only from the Bible, but that you instruct him/her through your own actions, living out the Bible to them. It is my prayer that as Christian parents, we shed the world’s view that each of us can parent in our own way as we see fit. While legally that is true—our freedom of almost everything, in fact, guarantees that—how quickly we have forgotten God’s commands just as we became parents and have subsequently become apparently inundated with “all that is parenthood.” It is as if we feel these burdens and “busyness” allow us to shirk not only our responsibilities as Christian brothers and sisters, but often forget what it means to be Christian. It is my prayer that we can encourage and exhort each other to follow in His commands, to honor and obey Him.

June 20, 2010

  • Father’s Day

    Roses on Plantation Road, Oxford

    Today, I spent my second (out of my first 2) Father’s Day 3,000+ miles away from my family. Once again in Oxford for business, I contemplated this celebration of fathers around the world, an exercise made more unique because I was so far removed from those very people who make me a “father.” And that is the most important distinction of what Father’s Day means to me.

    For, how can one be a father without first being a husband? How can one be a father without a wife and then a child? Without either, I am just a man. It is my wife who makes me a husband (without her love, support, companionship and love of God, my husbandry is even lower). And it is my daughter who makes me a father, and whose very existence reminds me of God’s grace, mercy and love and for whom I would want to know Scripture so that I can teach her well.

    In Simone, God has blessed me with an incredibly God-seeking wife (the first and most-important qualification any Christian man should look for in a spouse…it is equally important the other way around) and whose desire is to submit and please our Creator. In Isabelle—whose name means “consecrated to God,” “abundance of God,” among others and whose middle name means “grace”—has truly been a blessing to us since her birth. She is charming and generous to all (offering her playthings almost always and sharing what we feed her by giving some back to us). May we be able to continue teaching and raising her not to please ourselves or her, but to please God.

    On this—and all father’s days to come, I suspect—it is not material gifts which my head turns to, like mentally checking off a wish list.

    It is I who is honored and blessed to be a father. God is good!

    A happy father’s day, indeed!

May 25, 2010

  • Sportsmanship


    Only a handful of people will—and should care—about this. Two nights ago, the NY Mets defeated the NY Yankees in the third game of the first interleague match-up between the cross-town rivals this year. They’re not really rivals in the truest sense of the personal rivalry. Because they play in different leagues until they make it to the World Series—by which time, they are in the same “major” league—the teams could care less how the other is doing during the course of the 162 game season.

    The only rivalry is between the fans of the two teams, who like to boast about their own team, desecrate the other, and otherwise behave in the most unsportsmanlike way possible towards opposing players and fans. But for the artificially concocted inter-league series (2 sets of 3 games played in each others’ stadium) during the course of the season, fans would only be able to vent their cross-town anger on the airwaves (listen to local sports radio and you see how crazy these people get about something which they have no real, substantive part of).

    So, instead, we get the demonstration such as what we saw Sunday night. Mets outfielder Jason Bay—formerly of the Yankee-fan-base-hated Boston Red Sox—homered twice against Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia. When he came up for his third at-bat, this time against Sergio Mitre (the burly Yankee left-hander was lifted an inning earlier), Bay was hit in the square of his back with a 75mph curveball. Now, baseball purists will argue that if you’re going to hit someone, you’re not going to do it with a breaking ball. You want to hit someone, like the good-ole days? You hit him with a purposeful fastball. I don’t buy that with this instance: recent pitchers know that all too well, and they’re generally too chicken to make it that obvious…I think recent pitchers are much smarter than that. Do I think it was purposeful? Absolutely. Just look at the circumstances.

    But, what was most startling was the almost instant reaction by the white-jersey clad Yankee fan about 3 rows back on the left side of the frame above. Almost the instant after Bay is plunked, the fan stands up and emphatically claps, pointing his hands at Mitre. Nice. Really nice. How would you liked to be plunked by a ball thrown at 75mph.

May 24, 2010

  • Another Late Night: Gored Matador & Lost

    In absolutely morbid curiosity—and in an attempt to stay awake in yet another of my late-night/all-nighters doing work at home—I followed the links in a Yahoo header to one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen. Advance to 1:14 in the video to get a slow-mo of what happened.

    And finally…after seeing my Facebook feed light up with almost everyone confused about the ending of Lost, I leave you with this thought: For all those “still” Lost fans out there, I’m betting Col. Carter and Dr. Jackson would’ve figured it out in Season 1. But Flight 815 happened to be filled with such a group of emotionally unstable peeps…it took them 6 seasons to still not figure it out.


    Hahahahaha…but, I’m serious! By the way, in this photo, doesn’t Elizabeth Mitchell look like she’s been photoshop-ed into the photo?

May 21, 2010

  • Possessed

    Angry Little Girl by Lela Lee

    As my wife and daughter arrived at the park yesterday afternoon, they noticed a girl (about 5-7 yrs old) being scolded by her mom—apparently for doing something to her younger brother, who was crying.

    After they settled in and started to play, the little girl came over to them and started stalking them, following Isabelle closely (as close as less than a foot) and mimicking everything she was doing. She did not do this playfully, but stared at Isabelle with vengeance the entire time—okay, maybe the little child doesn’t know “vengeance,” but she certainly knew how to look the part of “determined anger.”

    The little girl’s mom was still tending to the brother the entire time; all the while, the little girl followed and mimicked Isabelle without a word, without a smile, without any joy (don’t most children her age seemingly yelp with joy when they play). No…this was not playing to this little angry menace.

    This terrified our little daughter, who clung to mommy, saying “scared, scared…” I wonder if, at the next trip to this park, she would be looking for this girl, or perhaps be tentative in playing there? I wonder if the little angry girl knew what she was doing? At this age, judging from my own experience with how much our little one mimics us, you know her parents had everything to do with the little girl’s behavior—where could she possibly have learned this behavior from?

    Talk about possessed by evil. Sad. And the mom was seemingly powerless to reign in—much less correct—this behavior.

May 18, 2010

  • Mmmm….coffee…


    With so many late- and all-nighters, it was with the utmost relief that we received our recent shipment of Peace Coffee beans. It is our favorite…[so far] the best whole beans we’ve found, which our trusty Capresso burr grinder coffee maker turns into a most delicious and hardened cup of morning joe.