Monthly Archives: September 2008

Joe’s Rant

I got up at 6:00 this morning to see what Joe Scarborough (on MSNBC) had to say about the financial crisis. Glad I did. He was basically in rant mode, flinging blame in all directions. Incensed with the breakdown of government.

  • He blamed the President for not explaining the crisis well. Leadership is largely about communication.
  • He blamed Nancy Pilosi for her stupid partisan speech at a totally inappropriate time.
  • He blamed John McCain for his theatrical parachute drop last week.
  • He blamed House leaders on both sides for their inability to deliver votes.
  • He blamed the Treasury Secretary for his initial proposal.

It was fun to watch. But eventually, I decided I had to go to work.

I listened, some, to Olberman and Maddow last night on MSNBC. They were both blaming Republicans for basically everything wrong in world history, including the Crusades, the sinking of the Titanic, and New Coke. Meanwhile, on FOX News, the Democrats got blamed for everything. Only CNN, in my view, offered any balance. Maybe that’s because their programming focuses more on news than on punditry. Lou Dobbs, who I normally dislike, was taking a broad view.

Interesting time.

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Four Vacation Mystery Novels

4vacationbooks.jpg

I had mentioned the three books I hoped to read on vacation. I got them read, plus one more.

  • Die Trying (Lee Child). My second Jack Reacher book. Wow, what a great character! The ultimate tough guy (tougher than Spencer, I’m afraid, but not Hawk). Reacher lives off the grid, wandering around the country, coming to people’s rescue.
  • The Fifth Woman (Henning Mankell). My fifth Kurt Wallander mystery by Mankell, a Swedish writer. Superb, once again. Every Mankell book is a delight.
  • Cross (Richard Patterson). I savor every Alex Cross novel. Devoured this one in one day. Patterson never disappoints when he writes about Alex Cross.
  • Jar City (Arnaldur Indridason). A police mystery by an Icelander set in Reykjavik. A slow start, but couldn’t tear myself away toward the end. I always enjoy mysteries set in other countries. There are several excellent Swedish writers. Iceland makes a somewhat exotic setting.
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Sonrise Church at Aboite

Since we’re still on vacation, what church should we attend today?

We tried Sonrise Church, which is probably closer than any other church to our home. An evangelical United Methodist church of about 600 people. I’ve always heard good things about them.

First, the externals:

  • Went to the 11 am service (the third of the morning.
  • General attire was business casual. Only a few people wore bluejeans. I almost did. Glad I didn’t. Would have felt under-dressed.
  • Meet in a squarish multi-purpose room with plastic chairs. I expected a fancy sanctuary with pews. Good for them.
  • I love their logo.
  • Good, but not great, worship team. Outstanding trumpet player. I’m not a brass fan–more a traditional rock-and-roll-band kind of guy–but this guy was great. But couldn’t really hear the keyboard or lead guitarist (just the trumpet, drums, and bass). Need to adjust sound levels.
  • Got in and out with nobody saying a word to us. Always amazes me how that happens. Actually, during the everybody-greet-your-neighbor time, people did say these words to us: “Good morning,” “Hi,” “Hello.” I’m sure it’d be the same way at Anchor, if we had a greeting time. But I know nobody gets in the door without people talking to them.
  • People clapped a lot. Clapping at Anchor tends to die out fairly quick.

Now, let’s try to look at some of the heart of Sonrise.

  • They’re sending out 50 people to start a new church in Roanoke (10 miles west). I was part of a group like that. I’m excited for them, and commend their vision.
  • The pastor’s sermon was basically a 10-minute video based around the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. Pastor Stan Buck says they’ve partnered with the Rescue Mission for many years, and people from Sonrise volunteer there on a regular basis. Sonrise has a steady (not sporadic) heart for the underprivileged.
  • I was impressed that they are making do holding services in a multipurpose room with plastic chairs. Not bothering (at least yet) with a big, fancy sanctuary.
  • The service placed a big emphasis on missions. A Kenyan pastor was on hand, and the pastor interviewed him for probably 20 minutes. Nothing paternalistic about it.
  • Pastor Buck also gave time for the youth minister to talk about what they’re doing. The junior highers left before the message for their own service. Pam and I were amazed at how many there were. This church has quite a future.

It’s always great to visit other churches. You learn a lot, and often find things to appreciate. I’m glad Sonrise is located in my neck of the woods.

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Swampland

The only political blog I read religiously is Swampland, from Time Inc. It’s a group blog with a wonderful handful of writers, all respected journalists. Except for Mike Murphy, a recent addition I dislike because of his Republican connections (though he’s done okay lately).

Here’s one reason I like Swampland. Joe Klein began one post this way: “A new rule here: Rather than do the McCain campaign’s bidding by wasting space on Senator Honor’s daily lies and bilge–his constant attempts to divert attention from substantive issues–I’m going to assume that others will spend more than enough time on the sewage that Steve Schmidt is shoveling and, from now on, try to stick to the issues.”

I know, that sounds partisan. But actually, it was just journalistic frustration at the way the media has focused on trivial stuff (usually, at least to this point, initiated by the McCain campaign). On Swampland, the writers hit McCain and Obama equally, and objectively expose their lies and hypocrisies. It’s one of the few places I feel like I’m getting actual light.

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Thoughts on the Debate

The first presidential debate confirmed (to me) my sense that we have two good candidates. Very different candidates, indeed. But both would make good presidents. I can’t say that one person won and the other lost. Both did well.

Let’s make that three good candidates.

NBC talked to Joe Biden. But though they invited Sarah Palin to appear, the campaign said, “No, you can’t talk to her, but we’ll let you talk to Rudi Guiliani.” Hmmmm. Their confidence in Palin overwhelms me. They are hyper-protective and controlling of her. The Obama campaign has no such lack of confidence in Joe Biden. Will Palin turn out to have been just a…tactic?

Some other thoughts from the debate:

  • Jim: Obama and McCain really don’t want to talk directly to each other. Let it go.
  • Obama was overly defensive, wanting to correct McCain’s statements way too often. Chill, dude.
  • McCain’s demeanor turned me off.
  • Barack: Yes, we know about that speech you gave long ago opposing the war. It only shows that you got one right. Doesn’t mean you’ll get them all right.
  • Did either one ever actually answer a Jim Lehrer question?
  • I’m totally with Obama about talking to Iran and others. It’s the biblical approach: when you have problems with someone, go talk to them. McCain’s harping about preconditions seemed empty.
  • McCain’s experience came through strongly. Several times, he said, “I know how to…whatever,” and he does.
  • And yet, on a range of key issues, I prefer Obama’s view of things, even though it’s built on a foundation of relative inexperience.
  • David Gregory did great anchoring for MSNBC. Fair and balanced.
  • Watched a few minutes of Olberman’s “special.” Couldn’t take it.
  • Babylon 5 fans: Doesn’t Mike Murphy’s hair remind you of a M’nbari?
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Oklahoma Steakhouses

Two Missouri couples joined us Sunday morning at the bed & breakfast. During out breakfast conversation, I mentioned that we’d spent three days in Oklahoma City. I said there wasn’t much to do in OKC, but that the city had some great steakhouses.

“Oklahoma thinks they know how to do barbecue,” one of the guys said. “For real barbecue, you need to go to Kansas City.”

Aha, a rivalry. I guess Missourians have spent decades getting clobbered by Oklahoma football and basketball teams, so some resentment has built up. They’re obviously inferior to Sooners when it comes to sports, so they resort to claiming superiority in something more subjective.

But then, I’ve not had Kansas City BBQ. Maybe I would agree.

Here, for my own record, are the steakhouses we’ve eaten at during this vacation:

  • County Line BBQ in OKC. Terrell Sanders, head of MinistryCOM, took the workshop leaders, speakers, and sponsors here last Wednesday night. Terrell told me, “County Line is where Oklahomans go.” It was certainly excellent.
  • Longhorn Steakhouse. This place, near our hotel, had been open just two weeks. Amazing service, excellent food. Added a skewer of grilled shrimp, which was a good move.
  • Earl’s Rib Palace, in Bricktown (downtown OKC). Big ol’ juicy-tender ribs with lots of fat surrounding the meat. Supposedly the best ribs in OKC.
  • Shorty Small’s Steakhouse in Branson. What an amazing meal! Very meaty ribs. Definitely a place I’ll revisit during return trips to Branson.
  • Santa Fe Steakhouse. That’s where we just finished eating. Right across the street from our Hampton Inn. Tough, overdone ribs. But I got the ribs in combo with coconut shrimp, which came close to redeeming the meal. But overall, the weakest steakhouse we tried on this vacation.

Now it’s back to Indiana. Not a steakhouse wonderland.

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$3.17

That’s how much we just paid for gas. Three dollars and seventeen cents. Per gallon. Right down the road at the 7/11 here in Oklahoma City, a few minutes from the airport.

I don’t care if it was cheap, as in low-quality, gas. We were just filling up the rental car before returning it to Avis in the morning. I haven’t seen $3.17 gas in a long long time.

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Branson 2008

Pam and I have been in Branson, Missouri, since Saturday. Had a nice bed & breakfast overlooking the city lights. But no internet access. Cable, but no internet.

This was our fourth visit to Branson. So we kinda like the place.

But now, we’re back in Oklahoma City, ready to fly back to Fort Wayne early tomorrow morning.

So, what’s been going on?

  • On Sunday, took the Branson Belle Showboat cruise. Loved it.
  • The new Branson Landing–a mini city down by the river–is amazing and beautiful.
  • Saw “Six,” a new act (at least, since we were there last, which is probably four years ago). Six brothers. Actually, there were ten brothers (“Our parents REALLY wanted a daughter,” they explained), but only six were in the act. Really enjoyed them.
  • Ate at Shorty Small’s steakhouse. Superb ribs.
  • Beautiful weather the whole time.
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Friday Nite in OKC

MinistryCOM ended today. Tomorrow, Pam and I head to Branson for a few days. So what of our Friday night? We headed to Bricktown, a renovated area near downtown Oklahoma City with lots of restaurants, the Triple A baseball stadium, and other stuff.

  • Ate at Earls’ Rib Palace.
  • Walked around for a while.
  • Took a boat ride on the canal.
  • Got some ice cream at a Coldstone Creamery knock-off (good, but not as good as Coldstone).

Then we went to the Oklahoma City Memorial from the 1995 bombing of the FBI building. We’d been told that at night, it was lit up real neat. It was. An interesting memorial, but I desperately needed something to tell me what the various parts mean. I’m sure it’s on the internet somewhere.

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Respecting Our Military

Before 9/11, in airports, you could accompany someone to the gate even if you weren’t personally flying. A wife could wait with her husband until he actually boarded the plane.

Can’t do that now. But on Wednesday, as Pam and I waited to fly out of Fort Wayne’s airport, I noticed several serviceman, clad in their fatigues, waiting with spouses or kids. An exception had been made. Nice to see.

Last night, Pam and I ate supper at the County Line BBQ with other workshop leaders and sponsors of MinistryCOM. A fellow from Willow Creek sat at our table.

He told of being in an airport restaurant getting a bite to eat. Four military guys sat at a table. This guy thought he would buy their meal for them. Least he could do.

He motioned the waiter over. He pointed to the servicemen and said, “Will you give me their check?”

The waiter leaned down and said, “Get in line.”

How great is that?

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