Friday, November 30, 2007

It's Friday

There was an informative article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, focusing on the monks in Belgium who support their monastery through sales of a highly sought after beer. I recommend indulging in the both the article and a cold brew:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cultural Observations

Below is a nice little article from

"The" way vs "a" way (Japan v China dept)
27 Nov 2007 02:40 am

This is not a scientific comparison, but when i saw one scene I remembered another.

This is the recent scene: yesterday afternoon, Naha airport, Okinawa, Japan. Line crew gassing up a Cirrus SR22:

Details to notice below: crew identically dressed in company uniform; complete safety gear -- hardhats, reflective chest straps with procedural checklist clipped on, puffy protective cuff to shield the plane's wing from damage. It's hard to see in the picture, but even the boots are part of the uniform: black, with red laces, and company logos on the back. Impossible to see in the picture: the coordinated shout and semi-bow toward the plane when the fueling was done.

Now, the scene I remembered and mentioned last year: Refueling the same kind of plane in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, China.

With usual caveats against sweeping generalization, what this made me think was: Japan is all about the way of doing things. Practice, ritual, perfectionism, as much fanatical attention to the process as to the result. China is all about finding a way to do things. Improvisation, little interest in rules, putting up with whatever is necessary to attain the result.

(Yeah yeah yeah, there are exceptions: perfectionist operations in China, loosey-goosey ones in Japan. Still.)

At the moment, I am feeling positive toward both approaches. The emphasis on the right way of doing things is re-surprising on each encounter with Japan. And the determination to do things in China, no matter what, commands respect, despite the obvious complications and problems it creates.

But when it comes to refueling the plane....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Rallies Christians?

My question is: What issues bring a concerted response from Christians here in the U.S.?

Based on two emails I've received the past week, it appears that movies with an anti-God message (The Golden Compass) and large retailers who offer health benefits to the spouses of homosexual employees (Target) are two areas that Christians will get worked up about. This bums me out. Obviously, I don't mean to indict all believers of Jesus here in the U.S.--that would be overboard. But why do Christians get all whipped into a frenzy (and fire out forwarded emails) about a movie and a corporate decision about homosexuality? I'm developing my rant about "The Golden Compass" - that's for another time.

For now, my rant focuses on this: There are a TON of issues out there that demand Biblical wisdom, why would Christians "circle the wagons" around a movie and retailer? Why don't we fire out an email/article/blog/book/whatever demanding that true followers of Jesus do something about this:

"DETROIT - In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics....Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland.

The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.; and Sugar Land, Texas."

While I have no basis for this, I am quite confident there is a greater percentage of Christians(as a percentage of population) in places like Mission Viejo, CA and Sugar Land, TX than there is in Detroit, Camden NJ, or Memphis. Let's get a Christian presence IN the city that rivals the presence of Christians that live OUTSIDE the city. My guess is the city-adverse Christian culture isn't just here in the U.S, it may be a global problem...sigh...

OK, enough on that rant, but it will most likely show up again. On a lighter note, if you can get your hands on the Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," do yourself a favor and take it in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Few More Thoughts

I want to be mindful not to fall into a predictable template for blog postings, however I am going once again with the "random list of thoughts" post. I do have another post brewing for the next couple of days, but for now I am returning to the random list:

1. I now have greater insight as to why some hide their kids' names on their blog (see comments to my previous post).

I am catching grief from my wife, because she wants to be called "A." She thinks it's more mysterious.

2. People have been harassing me to watch the Marky Mark Eagles movie about Vince Papale's life. A very thoughtful friend bought us the DVD before our move, and we watched it over the weekend. The movie is solidly mediocre. Amy enjoyed it a bit more than I because she didn't know the story beforehand (and she likes Marky Mark). As for Philly-based movies, I still keep Rocky in my top 5 movies of all time (maybe top 2).

3. It is often said that there is no such thing as a "moral victory," I say that is crap. Our team did pretty good last night, even in light of the close defeat:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day After Thanksgiving

It is now officially post-Thanksgiving and we are all granted permission to listen to Christmas music. I used to work with a dude who listened to Christmas music all year round-I found it troubling. However, I didn't find it as troubling as the Josh Grobin CD that my Mom just bought and listens to in the office. She loves him. I am not as fond of him as she is.

Anyway, a few more random thoughts for your Holiday enjoyment:

1. We've watched Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving each of the past two days. My boy J finds the scene with the fight between Snoopy and the chair to be somewhat scary. He also finds Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Train to be spooky at times as well. He has a low tolerance for scary-ness in videos. He is tough as nails, though, when we play tackle football.

2. Had a good holiday with my cousins at my aunt's, and it is always good to see all of them. My other son, B (I'm not sure why I can't post their full names, but I find that other bloggers just put the first letter) loves to eat pickles. He will eat pickles at any time, and with great vigor. Therefore, he loves Thanksgiving. He pulled up a chair to the obligatory plate of pickles, and proceeded to knock down several plates of them. He also loads black olives onto each of his fingers and eats them. He repeated this activity, often.

3. I've got to go get a bit of work done, so I can leave early and go home and watch Friday afternoon college football. Yet another treat of this great holiday weekend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

we'll be watching

After a healthy dose of family visits and pre-Thanksgiving work, I am back. Just a few random thoughts to take up a little of your time:

1. I dig the day before Thanksgiving--it's like a little holiday of it's own. Wednesdays are rarely exciting, but this one has a nice little buzz to it.

2. I work with both of my parents, and it's 9:45 and they're not in the office yet. I wonder if this is a work holiday that I knew not of. Maybe I could implement the old college rule where the professor got 10-15 minutes to show up late, otherwise you could bust out of class?

3. Amy and I went to a concert last week, and it was outstanding. Dude's name is Will Hoge and go google him and check out his stuff. He's got a nice, simple southern blues/rock feel. And we feel like we know him because he carpooled to school with a good friend when they were kids.

4. Lastly, we'll be watching this tonight:

Is there anything better than when snoopy gets in a fight with the chair?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Man Pedro

Those of us who have lived overseas know the joy of watching some WorldSport on CNN International. Our main soccer man Pedro Pinto gets worked over here - watch to the end. Good times always follow anytime a reporter is headlocked and a microphone gets commandeered by hooligans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Quick Pic

As I mentioned in my previous post, the old hometown was highlighted quite a bit over the weekend. The 20/20 special was pretty compelling, but that home makeover show is barely watchable.

Anyway, above is a pic of my boy J that Amy took when they went to see the house revealed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Most Famous

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My hometown will be highlighted quite a bit this weekend. There is a bit on 20/20 tonight about Camden, NJ, it's a follow up report to a previous report on the downtrodden city.

However, the big buzz will be Sunday night on Extreme Makeover, as the family is from Camden. We watched the house go up over the summer, and Amy and J were at the unveiling.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Received this email from the church we attended in Boston, Park Street Church. Check this out:

The Protesters are Coming, the Protesters are Coming....

As most of you are aware from Gordon Hugenberger's sermon last Sunday, a protest is planned outside of our church from 8:00 - 8:30 am this Sunday November 4 by the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas. This group has traveled around the United States proclaiming God's judgment on the nation due to cultural and religious acceptance of homosexuality. Most recently they have been in the news because they have been held liable for $11.0 million for disrupting a funeral of a soldier who died in Iraq. One poster had written on it, "God loves dead soldiers." The church's website home page address is That gives you an idea where their heart is. They plan to go from Park Street to several other churches throughout the morning expressing their hatred against those with whom they disagree.

I followed up with a friend who attends Park Street, and it turns out that they didn't show. The entire email quoted above was extremely well written. Made us proud to be Park Streeters, as we are still members there until we start membership classes at our church here in Philly.

Monday, November 5, 2007

1 out of 2 Ain't Bad

Updates, friends, we have updates:

1. The drama of the lottery came down to the reality of 24 spots open with 109 applicants. As the 23rd name was called, I was bummed. However, the last spot went to my boy. I could only smile as one of the greatest struggles with our move to the city (schooling for our lads) was provided for against 1.17% odds. It's a good option, and we are so grateful that we can move forward with a good option "in the bag." What a blessing.

2. Apparantly, Dallas doesn't suck. They beat us like a rented mule and it was not pretty in the stands. I started a "Top 10 Inappropriate Things Yelled At Dallas Fans" list as I sat there, but it's much to salty to put here.
I did, however, very much enjoy the guy behind me who yelled "TASER HIM" every time security ran by to break up a scuffle.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Wanted to follow up on my endorsement of "My Name is Earl" in a previous post. It figures that last night's episode was the worst that the show has offered. I still enjoy the general premise of the show, that being a guy trying to right all of his previous wrongs, but last night was lousy. Sorry to point you toward a crappy product.

Big Weekend

Two significant events this weekend in our little world:

1. We are in the lottery. Big drawing tonight at 7pm. Many of our efforts these past weeks have been focused on school options for J, our four year old. He starts K-garten next fall. Well, we have applied to a good charter school here in Philly, and the lottery for entrance is tonight. There are 200+ applicants for about 5-10 spots. When I heard the odds, I could only draw on the immortal words of Harry from "Dumb and Dumber"--" you're saying I have a chance..."

There's actually a public lottery, sort of like the NFL or NBA draft. I'm thinking about wearing a gaudy suit. Or maybe I'll paint my chest and bring a big foam finger....

2. The second big event of the weekend is the Eagles - Dallas football game. I am going with my brother and two other friends. There should be some solid fights in the stands, and I only hope the Birds fight just as hard on the field. But if I am not here next week, it could be because I was involved in an unfortunate incident at Lincoln Financial Field.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Thursday is an OUTSTANDING day of the week. I believe one begins to sense this in high school, because you know the weekend is coming. This sense is furthered in college, when most students try to schedule all of their classes to end on Thursday. Thus, Thursday becomes one of the biggest party nights on a college campus.

I still enjoy Thursdays, because I highly value Fridays. I also enjoy Thursday night college football in the fall, and it doesn't hurt that Thursday also brings us "My Name is Earl" and "The Office"--the finest hour of TV out there. So Happy Thursday.