Monday, December 31, 2007

Phil Hartman

I know this isn't the type of happy, feel good message that would be typical of a New Year's Day post. I was watching a 90s retrospective on Saturday Night Live this evening and they talked about the deaths of Chris Farley and Phil Hartman. The former was tragic in that it was self-induced and the latter was tragic in that it was at the hands of his drug-altered wife. While it is often true that television isn't the greatest source for improving one's mind, it has provided me with much needed laughter and smiles over the years.

Phil Hartman was amazing. The man could play any part, do any voice, deliver any line. Those who knew him loved him as a person and as an entertainer. I don't know if he knew Christ as His Savior. But I do know the world was a better place with him in it and I still miss him.

I share a lot of the things that make me laugh. This clip of his castmates on Newsradio is something that always brings a tear to my eye...as it should. It shows just how much he meant to them and to all of those who felt they were his friend just from watching him on their TV screen.

Quick Follow Up

Bill Keller's devotional from 12/30 did a good job of spelling out the church's responsibilities and it is certainly worth repeating here:

The church's greatest responsibility is to bring the lost to faith in Jesus Christ. I realize the church is to spiritually feed its members, to equip the saints for service, to be a place where Believers can find fellowship with other Believers, and where most followers of Christ serve Him. However, without question the most important job of the church is to reach out to the lost and hurting and to help lead people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of their sins, and God's free gift of everlasting life through faith in His Son!

Thank you Lord for our time together this evening. May Your Name be glorified throughout this broken world and in my life in 2008. Amen!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Joel Osteen and Ourselves

I remember when I first came upon one of Joel's televised sermons on late night TV from his Lakewood Church. I actually thought it was pretty good. He held up the Bible at the beginning and had the congregation say with him that the Bible is the inerrant and irrepressible Word of God. His sermon included Bible passages and he seemed passionate about what he was saying. So I tuned in for a few weeks in a row until I started to realize that what Joel was preaching was not in line with what God's Word is really all about. Joel was preaching a self-help version of Christianity in which you can make your life better by making smarter decisions and being a positive thinker. Somehow my optimism in life can have a greater impact than God's strength and purposes. There was also an underlying prosperity gospel message but it took a backseat to the simple idea of happiness.

I then read about his recent comments from his interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace. In this interview, Osteen actually told Wallace, "But just, you know, as a pastor, I'm not trying to get everybody saved, that's not my main calling, like Billy Graham's." When asked about why he won't talk about sin and deal with the hard issues of the day, Osteen responded, "Sometimes when you take strong stands, if you're not called to do it, you're dividing the audience you're trying to reach." Sadly, he was asked about Mitt Romney and if a Mormon is a Christian. " Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are."

That is shocking stuff...especially when you consider the size of the audience that Osteen reaches through his church, his TV time and his books. You are not trying to get everyone saved? That isn't your calling? I can guarantee that your calling is not reaching #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List. And he doesn't feel called to take strong stands? We are all called to do that. Jesus even tells us we will likely be persecuted for it but we will be blessed because of it. Of course, you don't want to take a strong stand when your popularity has become more important than God's truth.

But isn't that a reality for all of us? We should be deeply concerned about Joel's message and the fact that he is leading people on a path that has much more to do with themselves than with God. However, the more personal lesson is that we have all, at one time or another, chosen popularity over the sometimes divisive truth of the Bible. Joel should serve as a sober reminder to each of us that we must strive to give everyone we meet a clear presentation of the Gospel through our words and actions. We must love everyone but not be afraid to offer them God's truth. Love is not sparing the feelings of another so they will keep liking you. Love is offering them hope and truth in spite of the risk that they may not like you.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pastor-rick-henderson/osteen-meyer-prosperity-gospel_b_3790384.html

http://sukofamily.org/5-ways-the-prosperity-gospel-short-circuits-your-spiritual-growth/

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry and Blessed Christmas Everyone

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David... to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:68,74)

Random Thoughts

The weekend before Christmas. A time to start to unwind from a busy month. A time to reassert my gaze on Christ and the incredible miracle of His birth. This month has seemed busier than past Decembers but it was a good busy. Looking forward to a steak dinner tonight and seeing the family tomorrow. Thank you Lord.

So, due in part to the busyness, I feel like I am behind on a number of things I have been thinking about writing down. So this will be a quick overview and I may expand on things in later posts.

Do you wonder why you have heard less about Iraq in recent months? Well, that is because we are having success there and it just doesn't seem to be worth reporting as much as when we are facing escalating casualties and violence. The surge is working and we will soon start seeing some of our troops come home or be deployed elsewhere. Iraqi forces have formally taken security control of half the country. Military success is a function of persistence and courage...two qualities that many Americans no longer possess.

Archaeologists found the quarry that provided King Herod the stones he used to renovate the biblical Second Temple compound. Just more science backing up the Bible as fact unlike other "religious books"...right Joseph Smith?

77% of Americans support schools providing birth control. I guess in a society that no longer has a moral foundation this isn't surprising. I understand the safety aspect if kids are going to have sex anyway but I also can't shake the feeling that it is implicit encouragement to engage in whatever activities make them feel good regardless of physical, emotional or spiritual consequence.

Gunmen slaughtered 11 relatives, including 7 children, of an Iraqi journalist who was operating an electronic news Web site. Two thoughts: Evil is quite real and Americans are not the terrorists.

How far left has the Episcopal Church gone? So far left that an entire California diocese with more than 9,000 members was thinking of seceding over gay issues. When you get too liberal for California you should really begin to question the path you have taken. Still, out of 7,600 Episcopalian congregations, only 32 have left and another 23 have voted to leave. To those remaining...when your "church" no longer believes and follows the inerrant Word of God you are no longer going to church. You can't stay out of comfort or habit. Either be an agent of change on behalf of Christ or get the heck outta there asap.

Romney had a nice speech telling America that he believes Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind. Sounds good, right? Sounds like a Christian to most who were listening. Hey Mitt...do you believe in the virgin birth? Didn't think so. There goes the Bible and God's plan of salvation. Also, to be clear, faith in their version of Christ is not the determining factor for Mormons when it comes to salvation. It is only a necessary prerequisite, not the whole enchilada in stark contast to John 3:16.

I have nothing against Mormons. I have a burden on my heart for them and for anyone who is missing faith in the true Jesus Christ and is following doctrine that does not come from the one true God. So, speaking of Mormons, I was watching Glenn Beck a few months ago and he had a very interesting piece on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (I copied and pasted the name) and his belief in the Mahdi, which is the prophesied redeemer of Islam. It is roughly the Christian equivalent of Christ as they believe the Mahdi will come back to restore peace and order and just Islamic society ahead of the Day of the Resurrection. The exact nature of Mahdi varies among Sunni and Shi'a Muslims but Mahmoud believes very strongly that the time of his arrival is near. In fact, when Mahmoud took over as president of Iran, he publicly stated that he thought the Mahdi would return in 2-3 years. Well, we are there now. In fact, Mahmoud has traditionally ended his speeches with a plea for the return of Mahdi but at his talk at Columbia University he began his speech with a prayer for Mahdi to return. That is significant. The worst part is that he believes that he can quicken the return of Mahdi if the world is in chaos and turmoil. I think this offers trememdous insight into the thinking and actions of this man. He doesn't just talk about wiping Israel off the face of the map or prohibiting an Israeli/Palestinian treaty because he hates Jews. He is also motivated by his spiritual beliefs. Iranian soldiers and IEDs don't end up in Iraq just because he hates Americans but because he is trying to continually sow the seeds of death and discord. Keep all that in mind as we wait to see what he does next.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kinda Interesting...

"Money" magazine highlighted the individual salaries, investments and sources of income for several of the 2008 presidential candidates. Here is a snippet:

John Edwards -- the most “populist” of all the candidates is worth about $55 million. Edwards made some nice coin suing doctors and hospitals before he entered politics, and then he launched a creepy alliance with Fortress Investment Group. It pays him about half a million a year to serve as a part-time consultant and manage about $20 million of his money.

Rudy Giuliani is worth over $52 million. Rudy collects several six-seven-figure salaries… one from a lobbying and security consulting company he launched in 2003, another from a Houston law firm, more from book deals and a healthy share from the 124 speeches he delivered in 2006, at $200,000 a pop.

Hillary Clinton’s total net worth: $35 million, mostly from book deals, law firm days and her husband’s outlandish speaking fees.

Mitt Romney has some to $250 million to play with! The humble Mormon candidate founded Bain Capital, a hedge fund.

McCain has about $40 million in the bank.

Obama, the “poorest” of the bunch, is still worth over a million bucks.

What, if anything, do these people know about the average American household, whose median income is about $48,000? Makes me want to vote for Obama. OK...not really. But it does remind me of an age old question: What does someone with power most want?

More power.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Today's Thought

The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. - Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Well done CNN

One note about the Republican debate Wednesday: Don't ask, don't tell was the rule. CNN managed to slip in numerous questions from faux Republicans and outright Demo activists, including a question from Keith Kerr, a homosexual former Army colonel. Kerr demanded via video, "I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians." As it turns out, while Kerr claims to be a "Log Cabin Republican," he is actually a member of a homosexual steering committee for Hillary Clinton's campaign. CNN's moderator Anderson Cooper contends that CNN didn't know about that, though Kerr's "question" was somehow selected from the 5,000 submitted. Sounds almost... Clintonesque.

When the Democrat debate was hosted by CNN those candidates were mostly given softball questions. No bias there, right? Just ridiculous. Hard to trust many media outlets these days. I don't think the Founding Fathers would be amused.

Jim Gaffigan on Christmas and Easter

Some seasonal humor for you. Plus I finally learned how to embed YouTube videos in my blog. Hello 21st century.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving

So I hear there was no turkey at the first Thanksgiving. That's alright...I ain't changing now. Family, food and football - that's a pretty good combination. I was back in lovely Altoona, Iowa last week to celebrate the holiday at my parent's house. It was a great time as always. My sister said she was thankful for the fact that our family gets along well together and can do things together and I couldn't agree more. It would be very disheartening to gather together simply for the act of gathering together when your heart and soul weren't really into it. That would defeat the purpose for which the holiday is named. I do have to thank my parents, and my Mom in particular for her cooking, for creating an atmosphere that promotes a God-centered celebration. I have a lot of wonderful memories from all the holidays we have spent together over the years and that is a very special thing. I give my parents a hard time for being ultra-clean and always putting everything in its place with alarming speed. But it does take a great deal of planning and organization to make a celebration go so smoothly. Much like a really great athlete - they just know how to make it look easy.

I won't go into everything I am thankful for because I simply don't have that much time. I was out to dinner last night with a neighbor who was treating me to a meal. He said to me, "Get whatever you want." So after visions of steak and lobster danced through my head (I got the salmon) those words stuck with me. "Whatever I want"...quite a statement. Doesn't that seem too good to be true when you think about it? Should I even be allowed to get whatever I want? It seems so greedy compared to the hunger and suffering endured by hundreds of millions around the world. I can get in my car and within 5 minutes of driving I could eat at a dozen different restaurants. Absolutely crazy. It is an incredible blessing and one that is meant to be shared with others and not overindulged.

At the Thanksgiving service at my parent's church the pastor asked for people to name what they were thankful for. Someone said they were thankful for second chances. That was my answer as well. I still can't really understand the depth of God's love for me - the eternal and unconditional nature of it. I can get a glimmer of understanding of forgiveness when I think about why God created us and the incredible desire He has for a deep personal relationship with each one of us. But what really blows me away is this idea that God wants to continue to use me to help advance His kingdom and display His glory. I am so deeply flawed and fail so profoundly and consistently that it would really make more sense for God to forgive me but then also say, "If you could just step out of My way for awhile so I can actually get something done here that would be great." But that just isn't the case. Why does God have so much faith in someone who has let Him down so often? I suppose it centers on His love for me and my reason for being here. Otherwise, I am just taking up space - a clanging gong as it were. It's an amazing truth that I know I will never fully comprehend. Thank you God for second chances.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Ray of Light

For a case with such enormous implications, Tuesday's ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court has received relatively little media attention. The Rocky Mountain region is poised to take an enormous step in the movement to defend and define the personhood of the unborn. By a unanimous 7-0 decision, the high court gave its approval to language for a ballot initiative that pro-lifers hope to put before voters in November 2008.

If successful, the campaign would make Colorado the first state to vote on the question of when life begins. Even more importantly, it would give voters the opportunity to establish a human life in the womb as a "person" under state law. As such, even the smallest unborn child would receive the constitutional protections of "inalienable rights, justice, and due process." A victory would strike at the very heart of Roe v. Wade and have far-reaching significance in addressing the legality of abortion. While social conservatives have a momentous task before them--collecting 76,047 signatures in the next six months to secure the amendment's place on next year's ballot--they believe the momentum is building in their favor.

Hard to believe this can come from a state with the San Francisco-like Boulder in it. I guess God really CAN do anything.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Irony

John Edwards has offically called on his party to show some backbone. This from a guy who said the War on Terror was nothing more than a bumper sticker slogan. Good one Johnny. You've got about as much backbone as a jellyfish. The number one function of government is to keep its people...ALIVE. You might want to work on that one first.

On a completely unrelated note...I think someone is stealing my butter. I keep buying new tubs and hardly ever use any and I am always running out.

Very strange...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Congress

Just wanted to post a quick note on the latest shenanigans coming out of this country's legislative body. I am primarly referring to various Democrat leaders taking to the House floor to denounce Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldier" comment. This is sickening on so many levels. First, when did it become the business of Congress to go after talk show radio hosts? Aren't they supposed to be working on passing legislation to better the lives of Americans? Or is that too antiquated of a notion? Second, it's not like they just publicly condemned the comment...oh no...not these pillars of society. Tom Harkin decided to turn it into a personal attack and wondered aloud whether or not Rush was on drugs again. Well done Tom. The majority of potheads vote for your party so you might want to be careful not to alienate your constituency.

Of course, the comments of Harkin and Majority Leader Reid are even more deplorable because they have no basis in fact. Rush was referring to Jesse Macbeth when he issued his "phony soldier" comment. It was in no way an overriding indictment of the US military that so many Democrats claimed it was. Jesse Macbeth claimed to be an Army Ranger and to have witnessed many atrocities in Iraq at the hands of the American military. The leftists trotted him out as the latest example of how evil our country is. One small problem. Jesse wasn't an Army Ranger and he was never in Iraq. He is a liar, a fake, a charlatan, a...what was the word?...oh yes...PHONY.

I think Reid and Harkin probably knew the truth but they don't care about truth. They will simply lie to further their cause and the cause of those who dump millions into their coffers. That group would include George Soros and two of the worst purveyors of this kind of crap - MoveOn.org and Media Matters. The latter claims to be out to expose misinformation sown by conservatives but instead it makes its living off of distortions and fabrications. They are trying to take down every conservative commentator in this country. They've even gone after one of their liberal friends, Juan Williams, when he vouched for Bill O'Reilly in their latest witch hunt.

Many politicians have been bought in this country's history - both Democrats and Republicans. Neither party has been a beacon of truth. However, Democrats have reached a new level of absolute depravity. If you can't win the war of ideas and debate legitimately then simply try to eliminate the other side altogether.

Absolutely pathetic. No accountability. No honor. No shame.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Misery Loves...Misery?

"I simply want to thank you for telling the truth. I'm a missionary who just struggled through 2 years of depression brought on by physical problems. I don't think I'd ever been depressed a day in my life before, and had no idea how to deal with the negative thoughts and temptations that accompanied those dark days. Many days, your devotional was my lifeline. Some days it was an encouragement to me and some days it was a wake up call to keep me from sin. I thank God for walking me through this difficult time. I have a new love and understanding for those who lose their foothold. And I have a new awareness of the hand of God that reaches to the lowest valley."

The above paragraph was part of the praise reports that Bill Keller receives and occasionally shares with his readers. Pretty powerful, huh? I think I like this part the best..."I have a new love and understanding for those who lose their foothold." What a wonderful insight. I wonder if he was thinking that way in the midst of his depression. It was most likely a truth that was only clear after he had come through his ordeal and was once again viewing life through a healthy prism.

But what if we were able to grab a hold of that kind of thought in the middle of a crisis...whether it is emotional, financial, physical, relational or something else? When we feel like our world is caving in around us and our hope for the future is dimming...what if we had the foresight and wisdom to discern that God is allowing these circumstances to ultimately grant us better understanding of not only ourselves but those around us? I think it could offer quite a lift to our soul as our perspective would be widened to those around us instead of suffering from the myopia that can be so severe during those times.

I didn't have many moments of that type of clarity during my depression. I was more consumed with my own plight. I don't beat myself up for that. I think that is a natural part of what I was going through. However, I want to be prepared for the next time I deal with something of that nature. I want to be cognizant of the fact that God works for the good of those who love Him...even when He feels a million miles away...that maybe I am being refined by fire to be better able to serve Him and others. When I view it in that light, maybe some misery isn't so bad after all. Can we truly be happy if we have never been sad? Can we understand joy if we have never experienced sadness? It took utter loneliness and desperation for the prodigal son to realize what he was really missing. I have a feeling his life was much more fulfilling and meaningful after that horrific experience.

I pray that mine will be as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tonight's Thought

Good care group tonight. My first question of the night is always, "What's new in your life?" as we get caught up with each other and no one answered. So I told them that we need to recruit at least one extrovert so someone will answer my questions. They seemed to get the hint after that and talked more tonight than usual.

So, anyway, onto my subject header. Eldredge was talking about our inclination to use God as a means to our end rather than an end in and of Himself. Or to put it another way...Am I asking God to bless the path that I have decided to take or am I asking God to show me the path He wants me to take? I am afraid I do way too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Are You Finished With That?

Have you seen the recent commercials from Dominoe's Pizza and Pizza Hut? Where they are apparently competing to see who can offer the most calories to their customers? Dominoe's is now offering a chocolately Oreo dessert pizza or some such monstrosity. The goal of this dessert is to apparently shove it into your mouth with such ferocity that the remnants form a gooey moustache on your face, or better yet, the coveted full beard. Then there is Pizza Hut which is now offering it's pizza in strips so you can dunk them into one of three sauces. Are there a lot of people out there who feel the urge to submerge their pepperoni pizza into a vat of ranch dressing? These are apparently the same people who like to pour melted cheese onto their string cheese.

I am a huge proponent of taking responsibility for your own actions. I don't have a lot of sympathy for you if you injure yourself by being a moron. So if you are obese and have been shoving too much of the wrong kind of food in your face for the past several years then you have come to the result you should have expected all along. However, I am also starting to believe that there needs to be some sense of responsibility on the part of restaurants, particularly those that provide easy access to food...meaning drive-thru windows or home delivery. Wouldn't it be wrong for someone to continue to place an open bottle of beer under the nose of an alcoholic and saying, "You really shouldn't have this but it's here just in case you want it."?

Just because some segment of the population wants to drown their Supreme Pan Pizza in garlic sauce doesn't mean you HAVE to create the menu option. Let them go to the store and complete the ensemble on their own if that is what they really crave. Yes, this is America and I do believe that if you want to eat until your arteries close shop than you should be able to...but that doesn't mean American business has to be an accessory to the process.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

"It gives me great pleasure to pay tribute to the working men and women of America on Labor Day. This occasion brings deserved attention to those who have toiled to build our nation and shape a prosperous life out of the dreams of early immigrants. Today we recognize the honor and value of all work and the great distinction that flows from a job well done. From those who first carved a nation out of the wilderness to those who helped cross, settle and build this country, the working people have made immeasurable contributions to the advancement of our way of life. Through their spirit, minds, and muscles, America's workers have created a modern industrial giant. They have sustained the traditional values of family, work, and neighborhood while serving as the bulwark of American democracy and lending support to the fundamental tenets of our free enterprise system." - Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Well, I've Got Gonorrhea!

Breathe Mom...that's a line from a Seinfeld episode. At least it gave my brother a chuckle.

Everyone miss me? Hello? Anyone? Bueller?

My bro was wondering if my lack of postings was due to the proverbial well running dry. Not so fast. This noodle is always working. However, I often feel like my existence is tethered to a computer and the blogging is one facet of my life that can be put on hold to offer some break from the world of cathode ray tubes.

So anyway, I will try to be back more often now. Let's play a little catch up (pronounced ketchup).

Before I forget, I bought two bananas and ate them both before they turned black. It's a big day in my world.

Had care group tonight. Good discussions. We focused on what happens when we no longer truly know who we are and the repurcussions of that. God created us with specific intent and incredible detail and attention. We were made to fulfill a certain purpose...to do those good works prepared for us in advance. Why are we then so willing to create our own little world with our own mission statement and our own sources of validation? Do we really think our way is better or did something happen to us along the way that made us no longer believe we were good enough or strong enough to handle the responsibilities that come along with being an ambassador for Christ? It's pretty incredible how God continues to believe in us when we are so reluctant to believe in ourselves. He must see something we don't...and that is very encouraging.

So I bought a new scale a couple weeks ago. It's got all the readings...body fat, hydration, etc. Only focusing on the weight aspect at this point. That was a frightening figure. I think it has finally scared me into action. It's not that I eat unhealthy. It's more of a function of a daily soda and weekly beer and lack of exercise. The shin splints have put a real crimp in my workout routine so I will just have to find other avenues. But something has to happen. I can't make fun of fat people anymore if I am going to be one myself.

You will love this. Still doing the eharmony thing. Here is the question that a woman asked me yesterday..."If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be?" Oy vey. You gotta be kidding me. And people wonder why I am single? I don't know what kind of cookie I would be but I am willing to bet that she would be a cookie that is quite nutty.

Getting ready to head to Chicago for a fantasy football weekend. We have the draft Friday night at the house of one of the guys in the league and then head out Saturday to watch Iowa play Northern Illinois at Soldier Field. Never been there before so looking forward to that. Then it will be on to Carmine's (great Italian place) and Rush Street until the bars close or we go to jail. Maybe both if it's a really fun night.

That's all for now. Gotta watch the USA basketball team finish their Puerto Rico beatdown. Great to be back.

Peace out.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

This is How Congress Works

Congressional Democrats are demanding greater oversight in virtually every facet of government and the private sector, but they are pulling the leash tight on the government watchdog when it comes to unions. In a none-too-subtle nod to their faithful friends in labor, House Democrats have proposed to cut 20 percent from the budget of the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), the Labor Department agency tasked with reviewing union-fund disclosures. Congress has added close to $1 billion to the president's 2008 budget request for the Labor Department as a whole. Every other Labor Department enforcement agency is due for an increase, but OLMS is losing $11 million. It's not for lack of effort; the office has aided in the convictions of 775 corrupt union officials in the past six years. By reducing its budget, the House hopes to lighten the scrutiny OLMS exercises over how unions spend their members' dues, which often go into the campaign coffers of Demo candidates nationwide.

No wonder the latest Zogby poll has the Congressional approval rating at 14%.

Anyone up for a third party? I think I am becoming a Libertarian.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I miss these guys...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu_cajjDbNc

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Top 10 Elevator Pet Peeves

As some of you may know, I work on the 19th floor of an office building. Therefore, I get to take a few elevator rides each day and am forced to witness some infuriating behaviors along the way. Since I am not allowed to berate random passengers as a practicing Christian, I have decided to vent a bit on my blog. Enjoy.

10. Pressing a button that is already lit. This could be a floor button, or more commonly, the up or down button in the lobby. Hey Sherlock, your pressing it again does not suddenly accelerate the inner workings of the elevator system.

9. The Conversation Sandwich. This is where I am already on the elevator and two people get on and decide to get on either side of me and then continue their enthralling discussion on how much they dislike Susie or the fact that Subway was out of wheat bread at lunch. These are usually the times I wish I was deaf.

8. This is a derivative of #9 and happens often. I'll be in the elevator, facing the doors, and someone will get on, usually a guy, who decides to stand sideways so he is staring at me while I continue to look at the doors. This can be a precursor to his poor attempt at starting a conversation, but more often it simply creates an awkward ambience that no amount of wishing will erase.

7. The Front and Center Guy. He is so eager to get off the elevator (who can really blame him) that he will shuffle toward the front and stand with his nose two inches from the doors as he awaits his floor. This one is actually more funny than annoying but it is awkward watching him breathe into the metal as he hopes the door opens before he actually walks straight into it.

6. The Lunch Inquiry. I usually get my lunch at the cafeteria on the second floor or occasionally leave the building to grab it at a nearby eatery. I greatly dislike someone eyeing my lunch as I bring it back to my office like they are a cheetah stalking an injured gazelle. Just eyeing it wouldn't be so bad...it's the comments I can do without. "Ohhh...Subway...that is good." Thanks Betty for approving of my lunch choice. I wasn't sure I was actually going to eat it until I got your seal of approval.

5. The Smokers. There is a smoking lobby on the second floor and I often get to ride back up with these lovelies. It's like Pigpen from the Peanuts cartoons...on come the physical specimens with their personal cloud of smoke. That's enjoyable in a confined area.

4. The Snails. These tend to be the heavier and older elements of the population but it can also apply to people who simply move at their own pace regardless of how it affects others. So, as I am waiting for the herd to exit the elevator, the doors will start to close just as the last one limps out and by the time I get through the crowd the doors shut and I have missed my ride.

3. The Holders. I am riding down and the elevator stops on the 14th Floor. One person gets on and then bars the door open with their meaty hook as they yell down the hall, "Hey Frank! Hurry up!" Frank is apparently engaged in some other activity that takes precedence over getting to the elevator in a timely manner but that doesn't dissuade his co-worker from waiting longer. Not until the elevator makes a sickly buzzing sound and the doors start to close on their arm does this experience come to a merciful end.

2. The Phone Guy. Usually a guy with the Wi-Fi earpiece who feels like he is Mr. Business and needs to be yapping 24/7. Of course he gets louder once he gets in the elevator because the cell phone reception isn't very good. He is oblivious to everyone but the invisible person yelling in his ear. The only saving grace here is the fact that sometimes his phone will simply drop the call. Those are the kind of moments I live for.

And the number 1 Elevator Pet Peeve...The Budger. These are the people who start to get on the elevator before everyone has gotten off which usually leads to some sort of mass confusion and crowd control issue that is completely unnecessary. They apparently can't wait 3 seconds to get their favorite place in the back left corner. This is the best example of simply not caring at all about the people around you and that is why it lands at number 1.

I hope you have enjoyed. Good night and God bless.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Planned Parenthood"

Yes, I've been gone for awhile. Missed me? Thought so. I'll be catching up on a few thoughts over the next week or so but wanted to get this out as I am tired of seeing it sit in my inbox.

Democrat committee members recently voted to raise Title X "family planning services" spending from $283 million to $311 million. One of the biggest recipients of these funds is Planned Parenthood, which has to be the most misleading name in the history of this country as it's only goal is to help you plan how NOT to incur the dreaded disease of parenthood. PP already has assets of $840 million and does not need government subsidies, i.e. our tax money, to continue killing babies.

The 2005-2006 Planned Parenthood Annual Report shows that they performed a record 264,943 abortions in 2005. Anyone want to guess how many adoption referrals were recorded? That's right - zero, zilch, nada. They are not in the business of helping women. They are in the business of making money through legalized murder.

Monday, May 21, 2007

From the "Do as I say, not as I do" file

“After the political and media fallout following New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's multiple-lawbreaking April car wreck (he was hurtling seat belt-less at 91 mph), one might suppose lawmakers would start paying a bit more attention to their comportment behind the wheel...

“Evidently not. According to the Vallejo Times Herald, California State Sen. Carole Migden plowed her taxpayer-bought Toyota Highlander SUV (the hybrid version, of course) into the back of a Honda sedan with enough force to send it slamming into a third vehicle at a Solano County stoplight, hospitalizing the Honda's driver. The cause of the three-car crash: Migden had been in the act of fumbling to answer her cell phone.

“This is noteworthy because…? Migden just voted for a new law which takes effect in 2008 that fines drivers for talking on cell phones without the aid of hands-free technology...”

Well done Midge.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Random Thoughts

Zach Johnson wins another golf tournament. Perhaps Iowa is the new Mecca for golf prodigies. I know I am holding up my end of the bargain. I was playing with a guy last week whose daughter just graduated from Drake University. Apparently Zach is slated to give the commencement address. See how I tie it all together with a pretty yellow bow?

I've run into the word "insouciance" twice today in my readings. Still not exactly sure what it means.

The Gene Simmons reality show is darn good TV.

Now begins the long summer season with no new Office episodes. It won't be easy.

2 more weeks until a little vacation. I need it. Badly.

My boss is in Disneyworld with his family. I recently heard that Walt Disney first look at Missouri to build his theme park. He was supposedly going to start here and then have one on each coast. Anheuser Busch was going to help finance the project but when Walt said beer sales wouldn't be allowed the deal fell through.

You know that Coke commercial where the old guy says, "The capital of Djibouti is Djibouti"? Turns out that is a real country over in the Middle East.

Weekends go way too fast.

Why do I buy bananas? I only eat about 40% of them.

The Cardinals won't win the World Series this year.

I'm tired. Goodnight Gracie.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dumb and Dumber

Another title with copyright infringement potential. Get used to it...I'm not that creative.

Jerry Falwell recently passed away. It's been interesting to hear the various comments to get an idea of what kind of legacy he left. He certainly wasn't perfect and said some things early and late in his life that perhaps mitigated his Christian witness. However, he did a lot of good as well. He did stand for Biblical truth although I don't think he always approached it from a loving viewpoint. That is the difficulty in trying to get across absolute truth through a medium like television or print. People who don't agree with your position will immediately feel like you are condemning them which is an understandable reaction. This is why witnessing is most effective when you have established a relationship with someone and can take the time to convey the fact that Christianity is not ultimately an attack on their behavior but rather a plea for their heart. I have read some of the left wing sites and their comments on Falwell's death are more heartless than I imagined. The darkness out there will indeed take your breath away.

So, Imus lost his job and Akon lost his Verizon sponsor and now Opie and Anthony are suspended for giving radio time to the subject of raping the First Lady. Does anyone else find the fact that all these things are happening in quick succession kinda interesting? After 20 or so years (starting with Howard Stern) of letting media celebrities say and do whatever they want there seems to be some pent up backlash being released. Perhaps there is a rethinking of allowing free speech no matter what. After all, isn't there some level of decency and responsibility that goes along with free speech? Sure, you can say whatever you want but you don't live in a vaccuum...particularly if you work for a larger corporation whose ultimate goal is to make a buck. If your corporate boss feels you are endangering the product by alienating advertisers and listeners than your free speech will be quickly curtailed.

But these media giants are creatures of a declining culture. They were built because people liked the provocative and controversial things they were saying. The dumbest members of America flocked to them to get their fill of the basest humor around and now we wonder why so many of these blowhards exist? Don't blame the Howards of the world. Sure, there should be some personal accountability on their parts but they have jobs because the mindless drones in this country bought what they were selling...and asked for more. Now, we blame guys like Imus for their racist and sexist remarks. How could he say that? These are just young women who have overcome great obstacles in their life to get where they are. Well guess what? You created the monster. Don't pretend you have a conscience now. For some reason you now feel guilty enough that you desire scapegoats to make yourself feel morally whole again. So fire them and suspend them. Let the pendulum swing back toward the destination of decency and morality again...if even for a short while.

My guess is that it won't swing that way for long. Here is a recent stat to back up the dumbing down of America. 35% of Democrats...15% of Republicans...and 22% of the overall voting electorate believe that George Bush had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks before they occurred. Which effectively means that they believe George Bush allowed almost 3,000 civilians to die that day without lifting a finger to stop it.

Need I say more? The dumb are only getting dumber.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Is ethanol really the answer?

Researchers at Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley have proved that it takes 29% more fossil energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount of fuel the process produces.

Perhaps not.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Weekend Update

Don't sue me SNL.

Ahhh...the weekend. Why only two days? Seems unfair.

Lots to catch up on. Rosie is leaving "The View". Shocking. She is either clinically insane or knew she didn't want to stay and figured she had nothing to lose by being as controversial as possible. Now we know it is the latter but let's also not rule out the former. I do think her comment that radical Christianity is as dangerous as radical Islam does offer us a glimpse of the path that Christian persecution in this nation will take.

Time came out with their "100 Most Influential People" list. As I am sure Bill Keller will point out, Jesus was left off the list again. But the biggest omission according to Sean Hannity was George Bush. He spent a good 15 minutes on this show whining about that and asking how others (including Rosie) could make the list and not Bush. Gimme a break. Is Bush really influential anymore? Powerful, sure. But who is really looking to GW for their cues on anything? He has left his Christian constituency hanging, handled the war effort (and especially the communication part of it) quite poorly and doesn't seem to be in a hurry to push forth any type of agenda whatsoever. The truth is that Rosie is way more influential than Bush and that why it is worth our time to hear what comes out of her mouth. I think Hannity is becoming less of a quality conservative voice.

The Cardinals middle reliever, Josh Hancock, was killed in a single-vehicle accident on I-40 as he ran his SUV into the back of a tow truck that was parked along the side of the road with its lights flashing. Hancock was shown to have been drunk at twice the legal limit and talking on his cell phone at the same time. Maybe some good can come from his death if kids see the dangers that can even happen to a major leaguer. I drove by where he crashed only about 4 hours earlier on my way back from a charity golf event. This incident reminds me of why you don't need to be out driving past midnight unless it's absolutely necessary. Even if you are completely sober, those around you may be quite impaired.

Great matchup tonight between de la Hoya and Mayweather. Probably best fight in well over a decade. I would love to watch it but $55 on PPV is a bit steep. I'll have to catch the replay in a week at the boss' house on HBO.

Won a 27-man poker tournament a week ago. Now that was good fun. I certainly got the right cards at the right times. Poker is a lot like trading. You have to know when to be aggressive and when to step back from risk. You have to understand money management and always know the upside and downside potential of each decision. It also helps to understand human psychology in both professions.

Definitely watching some golf this weekend. Tiger is tied for 1st after the second round. I just love watching this guy compete and everyone trying to raise their mental and physical games so they can beat him. It's fun watching everyone go at it like that.

I would mention the market but I am marketed out for now. Needless to say, I have hit a trading slump that is the worst in probably two years. A lot of that is due to the trading restrictions imposed on me by my bosses so I will just have to figure out a new way to be successful. By the looks of things so far, it ain't gonna be easy.

We are on our 5th straight day of rain. OK, we needed it I guess so thank you Lord. However, if this is what Seattle is like then I will pass.

Softball team is 2-0. I get the feeling we won't be playing Monday night as the field will likely be unplayable but it is once again proving to be a fun social diversion.

I think that's it for now. I was up way too early for a Saturday so it might be nap time soon. It's not like the sun is going to wake me up.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Good Questions

We’re asking the wrong questions. Most of us are asking, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Or, “God, why won’t you just ________” (fill in the blank—help me succeed, get my kids to straighten out, fix my marriage—you know what you’ve been whining about). But to enter into a journey of initiation with God requires a new set of questions: What are you trying to teach me here? What issues in my heart are you trying to raise through this? What is it you want me to see? What are you asking me to let go of ?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Long Week

This week started with the Virginia Tech shootings which continue to be dissected on television as I am writing. It brought back memories of my freshman year at Iowa when Gang Lu decided to kill five people, including himself, and put another student in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. I was heading to class that afternoon when I heard on local TV that someone had been shot and the killer was still on the loose. I obviously decided to stay put (the best reason I had for missing class in my four years there), especially since my class was held in the building where the shooting took place. It's kind of a weird feeling the first time something like that happens to you...you start thinking if I had been there 20 minutes earlier or the shooter had been there 20 minutes later...who knows what might have happened?

Of course, many of the VA Tech students weren't afforded the luxury of having that thought. Instead, their lives were either cut short by the acts of a madman or they have been left with memories that will never be erased. Our prayers during Bible Study the following night went out to the families of the victims and the shooter and those who were wounded and witnesses to the whole scene. You wish there was more you could do. But then again that kind of thinking isn't really proper since prayer may just be the MOST important thing you can do.

I find myself drawn to the coverage even though it is greatly distracting from the work and activities that need my attention. It's a human drama that is hard to escape since I myself am part of humanity. Much debate has occurred this week over the media's handling of the situation, particularly the airing of the photos and videos that NBC received from the shooter. I don't think there is any need to reward Cho for his actions and I would have preferred it if America didn't have to see the images of him holding his firearms. We can understand that an evil act took place without seeing the individual responsible for it.

And yes...it was evil. Evil does exist much to the dismay of those who believe that the concepts of good and evil are mere fabrications of the religiously dependent. I heard Billy Graham's son being interviewed on campus and he basically stated that Cho was demonically possessed at the time. I am not so sure I agree with that. Anything that is done outside of the will of God is inherently evil, which means all of us would be possessed every day. That isn't the case. Our own sinful nature will take care of most of that. This isn't to say that it is impossible that Cho was possessed by a demon but that's quite a leap to make.

So what do we make of all this? Do we take away everyone's guns now so things like this can't happen? No. That would only leave guns in the hands of criminals who will find ways to attain them regardless of the laws on the books. They are criminals people...they aren't big on obeying things. Certainly there needs to be more communication between the courts, authorities and colleges. Cho's roommates had no idea that a court had deemed him to be a danger to himself. Imagine that. Inexcusable.

I'm not really sure if there is some great lesson here. It does just seem utterly senseless. It also seems like these types of incidents are accelerating in this country. It's not a gun issue...guns have always been available. But it does seem like violence is on the rise, particularly in the youth of America. I suppose that if we feed our kids enough violence through music, movies, video games and the Internet that some level of desensitization will occur. I just don't think that a lot of kids today view themselves as part of humanity. Their thoughts and actions take place in a bubble. It's not that they feel they have a right to harm others. It's more as if they don't realize they have a responsibility NOT to harm others.

There will always be crazy people who do horriffic things. Nothing can stop that. But this should also cause us to question again which direction America is heading and if there is something we can do to stop the slide down the slippery slope of self destruction.

Perhaps the separation of church and state (which is NOT in the Constitution) wasn't the best idea. Maybe...just maybe...we need a little more God in our lives.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good Question

One of the keys to being a good trader is to understand the psychology behind making successful trades. I am a human being and come with all the inherent emotional and mental complexities. As much as I would like to believe that I can gain and lose money with no inner consequence that is never truly the case. I may be able to minimize such effects over time as experience teaches me that the less emotion I invoke into the process the better my results. Being a Christian should also be of some help if I can keep in mind on what is truly important.

I use this as a preface to an article that I recently encountered on one of the biggest dangers of trading - particularly trading for a living. If I take the past 10 years or so, I would have to say that my cumulative track record has been impressive. I don't know what my compounded annual return has been but suffice to say it is well above the market's return. For that I do feel a sense of accomplishment because I know the amount of work and perseverance it has taken - and of course I am thankful that God has given me the ability and opportunity.

However, in the midst of that was my attempt at trading for a living during the 2002-2004 period - give or take. It really couldn't have been less successful. There were moments of triumph - months when I met my own expectations - but they were in the minority. I have tried to go back in time and dissect exactly what happened. Why the change in performance simply because I was sitting at home instead of in an office? I believe there are many answers to that question - some more important than others. But answers, nonetheless. Now I think that I have found the key answer in the aforementioned article.

Trading became my primary source of self-esteem. After an amazingly successful period in 1999-2001 I really felt like I had become good enough at my craft to support myself. Yet, unbeknownst to me at the time, I had also wrapped up a good chunk of my validation in that pursuit. It's how I began to measure my worth. It was my reason for getting up in the morning and consumed a lot of my energies.

Trading is hard enough - 90% who attempt it for a living don't succeed. Try basing who you are on whether or not you are successful. There is no way to eliminate emotion from that equation. In fact, emotion is only exaggerated in such a case. In this respect I don't think there is any way I could have avoided failure. The immense pressure - both from internal and external sources - could only have one resolution. I could have climbed the mountain successfully for awhile but any prolonged string of miscues was going to have a snowball effect that could not be stopped.

So what happens when a person's primary source of validation becomes their primary source of frustration and disappointment? Clearly, depression is a natural byproduct. Validation is tied ever so closely to hope...and with your primary source of hope removed you are in a world of hurt. I didn't have that kind of perspective in the middle of it all. I wish I had. If you can have some sense...any sense...of self-awareness and insight in that kind of turmoil, I believe the chances for a better ending are much improved.

It's easy to talk about God needing to be your primary source of validation. There is no question it is Biblical and God wants to be the One to whom you go to find peace and rest and fulfillment. But how hard is that? I'm not even sure what that looks like. I have moments of validation from God...primarily when I am engaged in direct ministry...but those moments are few and far between. I have bosses to answer to and family and friends to support and encourage. I have friends who want my time and help in a variety of ways. I have guys to disciple. And at the end of the day I have my own goals and ambitions and hopes and dreams. I like to think they are godly pursuits and I do my best to make sure that God gets the glory in it all although I know I fail at that constantly. So there all these sources of validation running around. I feel like I am more diversified in those sources than I was a few years ago which means the odds of depression returning have been greatly reduced but it doesn't answer the bigger question...Where is God on my validation list?

Still working on that one.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

And we're back...

Scott will appreciate that one.

Been almost a month since the last post...a nice sabbatical. I would like to say that I have spent that time traveling the world but it has been mostly spent just being busy with the day-to-day activities that comprise my life. Along with the rebirth of nature that accompanies spring I have been trying to take new steps forward spiritually, physically and in my personal life while continuing the momentum that exists in my professional pursuit.

I noted in my last post that I needed more national exposure...and lo and hehold CNBC came calling. So perhaps this blog is blessed and something of a wishing well which I will now try to capitalize on yet again.

I could really use a million dollars.

Oh...and peace on Earth.

Fred Thompson is suddenly the conservative poster boy for the 2008 presidential race even though he is not yet making any promises that he will actually run. Dobson came out last week to say that Fred wasn't a Christian. Kind of interesting in that I'm not sure how much DD really knows about Fred. Perhaps the good doctor has a different candidate he would like to see in the White House.

Memo to Sean Hannity...Mitt Romney is a Mormon and Mormons don't believe that Jesus is divine. That means no forgiveness of sins and no salvation. Quit calling him a Christian.

Geoergetown lost today which killed my chances of winning the office pool. Easy come, easy go.

The stock market has rebounded strongly after the beatings it took at the end of February and in early March. That makes me nervous. Most people are chalking it up to just a temporary blip on the bullish radar. I don't like it when people are so quick to say that everything is fine again. Makes me worry about complacency and rougher waters ahead.

I think that's all for now. The repeat of Rainn Wilson hosting SNL is about to be on and I think I will watch some of that. Yes, I am obsessed with most things and people related to The Office. Now leave me alone.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Holy Schnikes!

That is a Tommy Boy reference for the uninitiated. You know who you are.

Wait...you mean owning stocks involves risk? Yes. Surprise, surprise. The Shanghai market fell apart to the tune of 9% Tuesday which had ripple effects around the globe including the good ole US of A. Let's have some perspective though...the Chinese market had risen 13% in the prior two weeks and was up 120% last year so that isn't exactly a disaster. The word is that Chinese officials are considering measures to stamp out excess speculation and easy some of the "easy money" policies that are overheating the local economy. Nothing tangible is really known and officials have denied plans to institute a capital gains tax there that would certainly induce additional selling.

The US market had enjoyed a very long streak with no daily losses of 2% so we were certainly due. Whether you want to blame China or Greenspan uttering the R word or the fiasco that is occurring in the subprime mortgage market - it doesn't really matter. We have been due for a correction and we are getting it now. Quite quickly. The question now is whether this is just a normal correction within a bull market (defined as a decline of 10% from the highs) or the start of something more sinister - i.e. a bear market (defined as a decline of at least 20% from the highs).

Impossible to say at this point but defense is the name of the game until we know more. I took my hits last week along with everyone else. I suppose I am fortunate to be up 5% for the year still versus the Nasdaq being down 2%. But it is going to be challenging to keep my lead if things don't ease up a bit. As I write this, overnight futures are suggesting a weak open Monday morning. My hope is we open down big and then bounce as more weak hands are shaken out. That would be the best scenario - which means it probably won't happen.

Going to be challenging. Hmmm...there's that word again.

Oh...and the CNBC contest starts tomorrow. Just in time. I need more national exposure. ;)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sign of the Times

Charles Rust-Tierney, the former President of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU, is arrested for possession of very graphic and disturbing child pornography.

He is a very prominent figure in the Washington D.C. area. Where does the story appear? Page B05 of the Washington Post in the Virginia Briefing section as a two paragraph arrest notice. On the front page is a story about victims of priest molestation..."

Perhaps this is to be expected from an organization that consistently supports NAMBLA while consistently opposing the Boy Scouts.

If this had been a former president of a conservative organization it would have made national headlines.

What left wing bias?

Congrats to Al Gore for his big win at the Oscars. He was less likely to lose than Hugo Chavez running for "El Presidente of Venezuela".

I will provide some thoughts on yesterday's market meltdown this weekend when my head stops spinning.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Funny Line of the Day

Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Love This

WASHINGTON - The rival presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama traded accusations of nasty politics Wednesday over Hollywood donor David Geffen, who once backed Bill Clinton but now supports his wife's top rival.

The Clinton campaign demanded that Obama denounce comments made by the DreamWorks movie studio founder, who told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in Wednesday's editions that while "everybody in politics lies," the former president and his wife "do it with such ease, it's troubling."

The Clinton camp also called on Obama to give back Geffen's $2,300 contribution.

Campaigning in Iowa, Obama refused. "It's not clear to me why I'd be apologizing for someone else's remark," the Illinois senator said.

Pretty funny stuff. Hillary is in a dogfight and isn't really sure what to do with her top Democrat contender. She is the tired sequel and he is the new box office smash and she is getting concerned that she won't be filling the seats. Perhaps there will be some redeeming entertainment value to this whole fiasco.

As the blog title says...This oughta be good.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fighting Back

Been a challenging month in the old trading account. I often use the word challenging to reflect issues in my life or a tough day...at least I try to look at it in those terms instead of, "My day sucked" or "Nothing is going right". Those kinds of statements are self defeating and imply that the difficulties (a relative term of course) in this world are gaining the upper hand on you. Granted, there are moments where I don't really feel like fighting back but hopefully those are few and far in between. But if I say something is "challenging" then it conveys the idea that even though I may be struggling I believe it is a battle that I can win...which then becomes a battle that will be won. It is quite true that life is often defined by how you view it. Obviously, the fact that we have God on our side should trump any feeling of despair, even over the little annoyances that come our way, but we are human and it is seemingly impossible to live in that victory 24/7. So, this is just one method I use to get me through.

Reminds me of the old Kirstie Alley line from Cheers..."I knew that positive thinking crap wouldn't work and sure enough, it didn't."

So anyway, the personal trading has been challenging this month. The goal of 10% per month is looking like a stretch for February. There are 6 trading days left this month and it is going to have to go perfectly to hit my bogey. The good news is that I am back to even for the month after being down almost 10% a few days ago thanks to a few bad breaks and not believing this market could make another leg higher. So when the market took off last week on Bernanke's comments that the economy was strong and inflation was under control I wasn't positioned properly. Nothing like seeing lots of green on the screen...except in my account. At the same time you want to be prudent and not chase so I ended up in no man's land. Things worked much better today as I have repositioned a bit. Hopefully, this will be the start of a nice little run. Only time will tell but one thing remains certain...I will keep battling the challenges.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tolerance

Oy vey, am I getting sick of this. Former San Francisco Mayor Brown was on TV the other night talking about how wonderful the city is because of its tolerance for all kinds of people from all walks of life. Translation: the city allows you to do whatever you want to do and rewards you for it. The city has no moral code and neither does its mayor Gavin Newsom who recently had an affair with his campaign manager's wife. Nice.

We all know San Francisco is a mecca for the homosexual community. It also legalized medicinal marijuana which quickly led to hundreds of shops opening up within city limits under the guise of selling pot only to the medically needy but in reality selling to anyone with cash. Of course, the city police are left to try and get this under control now. We also have the homeless being paid $400 a month for being...well...homeless. This is the world's definition of tolerance. Make no judgments about anyone, let them live their lives whatever way they want even if it involves zero self-responsibility and actually reward them for it. That is not a recipe for helping someone...it is simply a way to destroy them.

This is where the idea of Christian intolerance comes in. I must hate gays because I believe their lifestyle is sinful. I apparently hate women who want to get an abortion because I don't want my tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood or I want a pro-life justice on the Supreme Court. I really must hate left-wing bloggers from the John Edwards campaign because I want them fired after the way they disparaged the faith I hold sacred and blasphemed my Lord and Savior in the most profane way imaginable. So I guess I am judging each of them because I believe in right and wrong and I put their ACTIONS in the latter category. Ah...there is the distinction...and we need to remember it. This is the "hate the sin and not the sinner" clause that the anti-Christian establishment will do their best to ignore every single time. They will claim that because you deem someone's actions to be wrong that you are immediately marginalizing the individual as well.

We need to be adept at communicating the simple yet profound message that an unwillingness to endorse one's actions and unconditional love for the person committing the actions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go together perfectly. For example, if a friend of mine is on drugs and I do nothing to intervene, which would mean that I would be judging his behavior, do I really love my friend? Would he be better off if I kept my opinions to myself and left him to his own devices? Far from it. Brotherly admonishment is not only a Biblical teaching but a very sound worldly lesson if allowed to exist.

This then leads to the next question from a liberal...Who made you God? Who are you to decide what is right and wrong? At least you have a witnessing opportunity now...one that says I am certainly not God nor would I ever pretend to be because I am just a sinner like everyone else and no better than anyone else. You can make a clear presentation of the Gospel and at least show them that your motives are genuine and humble and not derived from pride and the desire to make life difficult for others. Quite the opposite.

Was Jesus tolerant? Certainly not in the way that the world defines the word. He always confronted sin and evil head on. He could have a quiet and sincere conversation with the woman at the well and leave her with the words, "Go and sin no more." Or he can overturn the tables of the money changers in the Temple and in righteous anger declare to them that they have turned a house of prayer into a den of thieves. He can antagonize and challenge the religious leaders of the day without a moment of hesitation. Where is the tolerance there? Shouldn't Jesus have just let them believe and do whatever they wanted even if it was wrong? It's their life right? I don't think so...especially when others were being led astray from a relationship with God thanks to their teachings. Not much point in coming to Earth if Jesus had taken the path of least resistance.

Yet, in the way Jesus defined tolerance, He was the perfect example. He had dinner with prostitutes and tax collectors. He not only told the Parable of the Good Samaritan but lived it in loving and healing people of different backgrounds. He loved people and because He loved them He met them where they were at - but never left them there. May we strive to do the same. Our persecution may be one of the results as those who scream about our intolerance turn out to be the most intolerant of all. But that's alright...God has promised we will be blessed for being persecuted for His sake. Certainly the Son reigning at the right hand of His Father is proof of that.

If people call you intolerant make sure it is for the right reasons. Be careful that pride doesn't become the source of your interactions with others. If you are being called intolerant because you love each and every person you come in contact with and want to see them in a love relationship with their Savior than rejoice for their supposed insult is truly a divine blessing.

Romans 13:8,10 Galatians 5:13-18

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Today's Deep Thought

We long to be known, and we fear it like nothing else. Most people live with a subtle dread that one day they will be discovered for who they really are and the world will be appalled.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Great Question Mr. Keller

"Why are those who protest the loss of life in the war, the same people who support the slaughter of over 4,000 innocent babies A DAY?!"

I guess Christians don't have a corner on the hypocrisy market.

At least those in the military made a choice to be there and risk their life. I don't remember anyone asking the unborn if they would prefer to die.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

1 Down, 11 To Go

Very glad that January is over. Cold, depressing and cold. I'm emptying hair spray bottles outside every day trying to encourage global warming but the near-term results have been disappointing. Thanks Al. Nobel Peace Prize candidate? Gimme a break. Isn't this guy part of the team that did nothing while various regimes built up their nuclear weapon capabilities? Right.

I set more specific quantitative goals for my trading this year. So far it seems to be working. Up 10.1% in the first month versus 2% on the Nasdaq. It was a challenging month in many respects so I am happy with the end result. February is starting just as challenging.

One of the things I like about trading is the immediate feedback. You generally know right away if you are right or wrong and that is the way I like it. The other good thing is that results are directly correlated over time with the amount of work you put in. You might not experience the correlation right away but sweat equity is real.

New Office episode tonight. Good times.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Just got back from seeing this movie...one that I've wanted to see since it hit theaters. I'm not really an opening weekend kinda guy though so this seemed like good timing.

It was good as I expected it to be. True stories of people overcoming incredible obstacles to grab hold of their dream are always worth learning. Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a man who has found himself at financial insolvency with a 5-year old son to care for. Toward the beginning of the movie his son is dribbling a basketball and taking the occasional shot and Chris tells him not to get his hopes up too high because he was never really any good at basketball and he probably passed down his average sports genes to his son. This promptly causes an angry and frustrated response in which the boy begins packing up his basketball. The father recognizes his mistake and tells his son, "Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something...not even me. If you have a dream...protect it. People that can't do something themselves are the ones who will tell you that you can't do it either."

OK, I'm paraphrasing toward the end there but you get the point. The human spirit was not meant to be limited or diminished for the very simple reason that it comes from God. This film comes at that from a natural, not spiritual, viewpoint but the conclusion is the same. In the words of the late Jim Valvano, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Why? Because they have given up on their dreams. They have tried and failed and decided that was enough. Maybe life handed them some bad circumstances and they can't even see a path that will let them try again. Or maybe the biggest tragedy of all...they never tried in the first place.

The Constitution says that all Americans should have the right to pursue happiness. The film made the point that Jefferson wasn't saying that happiness is a right, just the pursuit of it. I never really thought about that before. There are heroes in this world...men and women who continue to pursue excellence when the world has long given up on them and told them they have no chance. As incredible as those individuals and their respective stories are it was the opposite thought that has clung to me since the end of the movie. How awful it is for someone to be given every opportunity in the world and still fail...either naturally or spiritually...or perhaps both. Not because of bad breaks but because they did it to themselves through bad decisions, laziness or a sense of entitlement. That thought has been with me for a long time and I hope one day it won't be anymore.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Good Grief

This market has more mood swings than Anna Nicole Smith in a pharmacy.

Film at 11.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Monday

The title is in memory of The Mamas and The Papas who lost another member last week. I have always liked their music.

The markets picked up where they left off last week...with another beating. After being down fairly significantly early I staged a comeback and was almost even today. That is a win. But a tiring one at that. When the market gets ugly like this it becomes more of a mental weardown. 4 days to go though so I better suck it up. Texas Instruments is trading up after hours on their mid-quarter guidance report so perhaps there will be more green on my screen, particularly in tech land, when the markets open up tomorrow.

In other news...

Hillary Clinton announces she is running for president. Shocking. I haven't been that surprised at an announcement since Elton John told the world he was gay.

I can't believe we are starting this process already. Why can't we just wait until July of next year?

Good to see Peyton make his first Super Bowl. Should be interesting. Sorry to see the Saints lose but it has been a great season and story for the city of New Orleans, which desperately needed something positive to rally around. They will be back and even better next year.

Snow on the ground and clouds in the sky. Definitely feels like January now. And I can't wait for it to stop feeling that way.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Life of a Trader

Whew...what a week. The weekend is definitely a welcome reprieve. Technology stocks got hammered this week thanks to a number of companies missing their earnings estimates or providing weak guidance. Even companies with blowout quarters such as Apple saw their stocks get slammed. I'm sure that makes no sense to people unfamiliar with the market...and quite frankly, it often makes little sense to those of us in the trenches every single day. Basically, people had priced in perfection in some of these stocks and you got the "buy the rumor, sell the news" reaction that is often prevalent on Wall Street. The Nasdaq lost 50 points this week and that is a pretty good beating after how it well it has been performing.

I survived the initial selloff on Wednesday and was sitting pretty for the week after a good Tuesday. Then Thursday came along and I apparently couldn't walk between the raindrops anymore and gave the last two day's gains back in a matter of 6 and a half hours. That is frustrating. I don't care how long you have been trading...losing money isn't fun...particularly when you financially need to have a good week. No pressure there. It's an interesting thing when you can work as hard as possible and do everything you know how to do and still lose big. But it's just part of the equation.

The good news is that Friday was much better and I recovered all that was lost. After doing this for several years I know to approach every day with a positive attitude and a belief that I will make money. I may carry a bad day with me for awhile after the market closes but that feeling is gone when I wake up the next day. I know by now that I can and will beat the market...maybe not every day, week or month...but in due time. So, I press on and that persistence, as in so many other areas of life, has a way of paying off.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

United 93

I had ben thinking about seeing this movie for a long time now...ever since it hit theaters I suppose. I had heard it was very well done. It's been on pay-per-view for some time and I keep passing over it when looking for a movie to entertain me. I think a part of me just didn't want to relive that day. I will never forget being in the office and watching on my little TV as the events of that morning unfolded. The utter chaos as horrific reports filtered in across the news wires...some true, some not true...but all terrifying. I had been very blessed to have not known a time of war in my life. Vietnam was winding down as I was born and the Cold War, while quite scary on some level, never really amounted to more than tension and a general feeling of ill will. I knew the world wasn't a utopia but the Midwestern US was pretty darn close as bloodshed was concerned. I don't know that I was permanently changed that day or not. I have always been aware of my own mortality and am generally cognizant that any given day could be my last on this Earth (and yet I still waste time...maybe I don't REALLY get it). But 9/11 certainly did change me for awhile. I remember being glued to the TV for days, weeks even, after it happened. I recall slipping into a depression as my worldview changed. Things weren't as safe as I had once assumed, not even in the tranquil US. Wars weren't always going to be fought on some far off land only found on a globe. They could actually happen on our shores. And the prospect that there will be more is almost a certainty.

So with all that spinning around in my head I decided to finally watch the movie. I felt I owed it to those brave men and women on that flight who spared us further pain and death, both in a real physical sense and in a larger symbolic and psychological sense. Sure enough, I felt that lump in my throat when they showed the initial smoke coming out of the WTC. There were parts that were difficult to watch but I was really watching for the story of the people on United 93. As the movie unfolded, I wondered to myself if I would be that brave in that kind of situation. I suppose I would if I knew my life would be ending anyway. There isn't really anything to further risk at that point if death is imminent. The larger question of having bravery when there is everything to lose remains a murkier question. I also experienced my share of anger as the terrorists took over the plane and wanting to be there with the passengers as they attempted to regain control of the aircraft. I really just wanted to punch them in the head and return some of the pain they had inflicted on innocent civilians. It was a visceral reaction...primal perhaps...but very real. A Christian reaction? Given the circumstances of the plane being used to kill additional people besides those onboard? Sure, I don't think God would quarrel with that. Overall, it was a good movie that I felt did justice to those whose stories needed to be told. Surprisingly enough, I was able to sleep after watching it.

So that's where this Iraq situation started. Out of our grief and need for justice we decided to take it to the terrorists. Afghanistan was an easy target as the Taliban stood out with their training grounds and financing of the terrorists involved. Iraq was a more difficult sell. I'll save the WMD talk for another post but I think the initial idea was a good one...to meet the terrorists over there so we didn't have to do it here. So far that part has worked. You can't fight a war defensively or you will lose. Right France? There is no question things haven't gone well. But what war does? Not many that are worth fighting. Wars are ugly and dynamic and unpredictable. Battles may be lost but that does not mean the war follows the same outcome. I think our country has forgotten that. Too many would rather opt for the road of peace and diplomacy and sparing the lives of the brave souls in our military. We could do that. And that is the war we would lose.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Random Musings

Rosie and Donald...great publicity move and the media ate it up with a spoon. May not be the most charming individuals but they know how to get free advertising and generate ratings. Yes, Trump's new show debuted last week. What a coincidence.

Bush calling for more troops in Iraq. Hard to know if it's a good idea or not. Can any number of troops really stop a looming civil war? If no tangible results are generated by summer than we need to go another direction. Oh, and by the way, the troop increase was something being called for by Harry Reid just this past December. My what a short memory he has as he quickly shakes that off and joins his parroting comrades.

Tough loss for Iowa on the road tonight at Illinois. Those games are usually lost by the kind of young team we have. Impressive enough that we were leading at the half and only lost by 4 seeing as we haven't won there since 1999.

Nice day for the markets. Commodity prices falling and Apple's new phone putting dollars in the pockets of shareholders. Semiconductors acting well and oil dropping below $55 a barrel. If we can get to new highs on the year this market could really start to frustrate the bears.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

And we're off...

Almost accidentally typed in "and we're odd"...that would have been a strange beginning but perhaps just as truthful as the one I ended up typing.

So why create a blog? Because everyone else is doing it? Sure. Because I am narcissistic enough to believe peope will want to pour over every word I utter? Perhaps. Because I want people to see me use big words like narcissistic? Definitely.

I guess the primary reason is that it might be worthwhile to get thoughts out of my head and onto the screen to help clear my mind before trying to get some rest. Not to mention that it might be a good way to help keep family and friends more actively informed in the goings on in my life. This way they can all congregate to one spot...many birds, one stone. I also think it will help me think things through more by taking the time to spell them out here. Any measure of self introspection is worthwhile no matter the medium.

I won't promise that I will be posting daily or every other day or every fifth day for the matter. No expectations at this point. We'll see how it goes and if it can keep my attention longer than a "Frasier" rerun. Once I get a million people reading this thing I plan to start signing up advertisers and should be going public a couple years thereafter. Then I'll have the money to hire someone to write this thing so I can finally rest.