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Monthly Archives: December 2006

Today, I ‘interrogated’ my daughter’s second boyfriend at a local St. Louis mall.  I am glad this is only her second boyfriend (today she turns 18 years old).  Men who have daughters understand this last statement (maybe).  Interviewing boyfriends can be stressful and awkward.  Why?  Because I was once a 18 year old male.  I ran the first boyfriend away but he came back (part 1).  However,  my daughter ran him away the second time.  He fooled me.  I posed several general and specific father-to-boyfriend type questions to this second boyfriend.  He answered my questions quite well.  He even answered ‘yes, sir.’  Dang, I didn’t expect this at all.  He had good manners.  His pants did not sag.  He plays high school football.  He was quite the gentleman.  He understood the routine; and he understood why I was interrogating him.  We (my wife and I) have invested much in our daughter.  It is hard to explain.  I went expecting to find a real loser I think but I know my daughter well enough that this would not be the case.  I left feeling mixed and relieved.  I left feeling ‘cautiously optimistic.’  On the surface, he seemed ‘ok’ but I also know he is me (a broken male).  I left hopeful but also I departed being realistic.

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Ahhhhh, the holidays.  During the holidays we pause and rest (some of us do at least).  During the holidays we see friends, family, and generally we consume lots of food.  Well, some of us do.  Food is a good!  Lots of food translates to leftovers.  Leftovers are good too.  Some leftovers are good.  Contrary to my wife’s assessment of me, I love leftovers.  Some leftovers seem to be better the second time around.  Collard greens seem to be better the next day.  Chili is another dish that is better on the second day.  Ham tastes better on the second day.  Leftovers are a clear reminder to me how blessed I am.  Leftovers are like a surplus; like an abundance.  To have more than you need is indeed a blessing!  To have leftovers prompts me to be thankful!

My kids and I saw the movie The Pursuit of Happynesstoday.  I can see why critics have said that Will Smith has put in a great performance because his acting was so convincing.  (Will’s son did an excellent job too.) I remember Jay Leno interviewing Will Smith recently and Jay said, “this movie is not about race.”  I think Jay and Will are right but the movie is about class; specifically, it is about the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’  among other things.  Other themes include determination, persistence, hard work, ambition, a father’s love for his son, fear, anger, frustration, and humiliation.  It raises other questions like is happiness really related to money or having stuff?  What does happiness mean?  What is a person willing to do to make ends meet?  What did Jefferson really mean when he wrote ‘…and the pursuit of happiness”?  The movie raises questions about marriage – especially the vows which say, “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, to death till you part.”  This movie made me cry like a baby.  This movie ranks among those that will indelibly mark my heart and mind for a long time. 

Maybe I have missed this in “Blogging 101” but I often see posted on blogs, “I am sorry for not posting sooner or more frequently.”  What’s up with this?  Why apologize for something in which you have not done nothing wrong?  Is there an expectation that bloggers have imposed upon themselves?  Is there a blogging rule that I am unaware of?

Athletes like Magic, Steve McNair, Albert Pujols, Steve Young, Peyton Manning, and Michael Jordan have the ‘it factor.’  Others from other industries have the ‘it factor.’  I believe Katie Couric has the ‘it factor.’  Jay Leno has the ‘it’ factor.  The ‘it factor’ is hard to explain.  But there are some world citizens who have that ‘special something’ that makes them larger than life; that elevates their abilities to a category of almost ‘superhuman.’  My 12 year old son (I am pretty sure) has the ‘it factor.’  It is hard to explain but others have noticed this ‘it factor’ in my son before I did.  I’ve said this ‘tongue and cheek’ before but I believe it more and more: “my son could become the first black president of the United States of America.’  Because he has that ‘it’ thing!

benjamin-tour-guide-at-robbins.jpgIn July 2005 I had the great honor of going to Cape Town, South Africa to give talks, lecture, and preach.  On a national holiday called “Women’s Day” (analgous to our Mother’s Day), our team took a ferry to Robben Island.  This island among other things housed lepers, a school, and it housed prison inmates.  This is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.  In fact, I stood in his cell. In this prison system, guards separated prisoners like Mandela (called a political prisoner) from other ‘common’ inmates.  It was feared that inmates like Mandela could influence other less informed inmates with ideas.  And because ‘ideas’ are powerful, this might lead to an insurrection.  (This notion of an idea being powerful is portrayed powerfully in the movie, V for Vendetta.)

Pictured is Benjamin, our tour guide and a professed atheist (of which I am not surprised).  He described how inhumane the conditions were for prisoners.  Men released themselves in a bucket (number 1 and 2).  Men slept on a concrete floor in chilly weather with thin covering.  Men were electrocuted as a form of discipline.  Benjamin knew so much about the conditions because he was once an inmate on Robben Island.  I was chopping at the bits to ask Benjamin a question.  I raised my hand and asked him, “How could you work for such a place like this after being treated so inhumanely?”  After a short pause he answered in a calm voice, “I needed a job.”  Wow – a blank stare (from me)!  The reality of the urgent is the reason why we should ‘never say never.’  Never say what you will never do because life might have you eat those words!

One weekend I was driving to Kansas City (Missouri) to attend my sister’s college graduation.  I never made it because of a horrible traffic delay; I later discovered that a portion of a bridge had collapsed so traffic patrolmen were diverting traffic.  (This was several years ago now.)  But while stuck in traffic, I thought about this question: why do men and women look at the backside of the opposite sex?  Is this simply a learned behavior?  Or is something really being communicated by someone’s backside?

My wife and daughter often hear me asking “is that her real hair?”  One or both of them will respond, “Of course not, can’t you tell?”  Nope, that’s why I asked in the first place!  We live in a culture where people:

  • fake their identities (i.e., identity theft);
  • fake their hair length;
  • fake their appearance  (e.g., enhanced body parts);
  • fake their age (in dress and/or behavior); and
  • fake their social-economic standing (some people live way above their means or income level just to impress, for image building or to keep up with the image of the ‘Jones’).  

Some doctors have been known to fake their credentials.  Some men give fake lines or fake credentials to pick up girls.  Some ladies wear fake eyelashes and fake nails.  Some high school and college students fake (or cheat) their way through school.  Many people are dissatisfied with their image in our an image driven society.   Several industries are making a mint because of our discontent.  Will the real you please stand up!

img_0349.jpgIt was my turn to walk Minnie.   Minnie gets so excited when she sees her pink leash.  She actually dances on all fours.  It’s a funny sight.  Minnie is a beagle mix.  As we walked or rather as Minnie pulled me along, she stopped to do a ‘number 2.’  After she took care of business, she kicked her hind legs in an attempt to cover her droppings or her mess.  Nothing was kicked up however.  No grass, no leaves flew.  Minnie got an A for effort.  It was a bit funny seeing Minnie kick those hind legs in succession; I must admit.   Yet she taught me that I should clean up my messes too.  The second lesson Minnie taught me was to get excited about things I like to do.  Thanks Professor Minnie! (You have heard the line, ‘she is not beautiful but she has a nice personality.’  A friend said this about Minnie…ouch!)

duct-tape-works.jpgShrek, once he saw his princess, said, “I am a believer.”  Duct tape is tacky; sticky.  My carpet was quite wet in my home office which is located in our basement.  I found the source: a tiny hole in our concrete wall allowed water to squirt in (so much rain has saturated the lawn this water had to go somewhere).  Once I found the hole, I put my finger over it to stop the water.  I thought about it; I could not stand there all night with my finger over the hole, however.  Duct tape!  I put duct tape over the spot and it actually substantially reduced the amount of water coming in.  The duct tape actually stuck to the concrete wall.  Forget about the jokes about gray duct tape; it works.  A good chunk of my carpet and padding is ruin but I marvel over the effectiveness of the duct tape. Despite all the jokes duct tape users get, I am a believer!  Hail to the inventors of ‘duct tape.’ (In the picture, the duct tape is on the left of this main water shut off.)