Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Everyday heroes

One of my Father's Day gifts last weekend was a date with my wife. That was a wonderful surprise! We went to see the new X-men movie and it was jam-packed with dozens and dozens of mutants with special powers. I realized that there must be many of these "level 1" mutants all around me, with subtle yet real abilities.

Here are a couple I've thought of so far. Feel free to let me know about others you've observed!

Ultra finger man

Every night when I leave my office, I get on the 8th floor elevator to go down to the lobby level and leave the building. I push the button for "1", the doors close, and usually someone else gets on around floor 5 or 6, which are busy office floors. Inevitably a man will get on the elevator, look at the buttons, see that the "1" is already lit up... and push it anyway. For years I have wondered: what are these people doing?

Now I know -- they're mutants. This is their special power. And a mighty impressive skill it is, I must say.

Future-view pilot

Houston is known for its traffic, so after years of daily commutes I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject. And in any slow traffic jam, there's at least one person constantly weaving from lane to lane, trying to get an edge on everyone else.

I'm convinced that these drivers have the ability to see into the future, albeit in a nearsighted fashion. One minute they're positive that the left lane is best... but then the future vision changes and they must move over two lanes to the right. Maybe they can only see the most probable future at any moment, and the constant shifts in traffic flow change the scenario of the most likely future.

What mutants do you see around you every day?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy BD, Jack!

Our son Jack (a.k.a. "Jackie-boy", "Jackie-poo" and "Jack-Jack") turned one year old on Wednesday just after 4pm. We didn't do much on that particular day, but will have a small celebration this weekend, including cake of course.

Here's a quick glimpse of Jack at 3 days, 3 months and 10 months. Pictures worth 1,000 words and all that...

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Friday, June 09, 2006

When it rains, it pours

So here are the final events of the day, a perfect ending to a totally chaotic week:

  • I got a speeding ticket on the way home. I've never gotten a ticket in 15 years of driving, and was trying to get home because Jack is still pretty sick. All day we had been contemplating another doctor's visit, and finally we decided to just stay home since he's already on antibiotics for the ear infection. Anyway, I tried to get home quickly and got busted.

  • Upon arriving home I helped Jack eat a couple of crackers, the first solid food he'd had since breakfast. Five minutes later he promptly spit them back up all over my shirt.

  • We finally reach bedtime, and Samantha decides she needs to go potty right before bed. Jamie, Jack and I are in Samantha's room playing and waiting when we hear a crashing sound and Samantha's crying. I rush to the bathroom to find her face down on the floor, booty high in the air and poo everywhere. It seems she was trying to "grab her ankles" to reach optimum wiping perspective, and took a header right off her stool. If you think Jamie and I got through the next five minutes without laughing hysterically then you overestimate us.

  • The poo is clear, the tears are dry, and it's really time for bed. Samantha gets to pick which stuffed animal to sleep with every night, and tonight she picks 'Cowhura". She has two nearly identical cows -- one is "Boo Boo Cow" because he was torn until Jamie sewed him up, and her other is "Cowhura". We have absolutely no idea where she got the name, but every time she says it I can't help but think of Lt. Uhura from Star Trek.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Heavy and light

First, an update on the heavy stuff:

1) Jamie got a nasty stomach virus Monday night and was out of commission for a while. She's feeling better but doesn't have all her strength back.

2) Jack is recovering from an ear infection, and he started with the stomach trouble today. Took him almost 12 months before he vomited, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

3) Samantha had been limping pretty badly since last Thursday, complaining of a sore left ankle. I took her to the doctor yesterday, he looked at her for 30 seconds and said she'd be fine. Today she hardly had a limp at all.

4) My job transition is going far more slowly than I would like. It will be at least a few more days before my job description and compensation are finalized.

"This too shall pass", right?

And now for the lighter stuff. Every few weeks I post something funny on the wall outside my office. Sometimes it's a list of quotes, sometimes short jokes, and I'm even thinking of putting epitaphs up soon. Right now it's a list of funny bumper stickers:

I brake for scholars, priests, and no apparent reason

Watch out for the idiot behind me!

Saw it, wanted it, threw a fit, Got It!!

Don't drink and park - accidents cause people.

Don't follow me I am LOST!!!

I don't drive fast; I fly low

I just filled up my car with gasoline. Now it's worth $50.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Spiritual quick hits

I'm going with a blurb-type format tonight so that I can cover several topics in a speedy fashion:

Recent Reading Material

A few weeks ago I finished "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" by Anne Rice, and now my wife is reading it too. What a fun and fascinating book! It's a fictional account of Jesus' life when he was about seven years old, and it's written from his perspective. I loved seeing his and his family's constant tension of child vs. god in this little boy, and never knowing which of Jesus' aspects will shine through at any moment. Sometimes he's small, naive and out of touch, but other times he shows incredible maturity and wisdom. It really rang true as a glimpse of what an amazing challenge it must have been to raise a boy who not only would become King, but has always been King.

It was also intriguing to see the Jewish culture of the time, and how they interacted with the Romans during a time of leadership change (Herod's death). Anne Rice did a ton of research to make this fictional account as historically accurate as possible, and it pays off. I can't believe the author of the Vampire Chronicles and soft pornography has written this beautiful tale, yet here it is. Her author's notes at the back of the book detail her last two decades as a gradual and persistent return to faith, with this book as the initial result. Hopefully there are more to come (Jesus the teenager, please?).

Does God care about my job?

The last few weeks at my job have been a steady transition out of my current role and into something new. Last week I gave a presentation to the entire Executive team, pitching them my idea to create and run a whole new division in the company. They gave me verbal approval and I'm scheduled to work out the job description and salary details tomorrow.

During this whole series of events I've been in almost constant prayer about it, and a few times I heard a little voice in my head say, "Do you really think God is involved in this?" I can say that when I look back at my previous company, where I had seven jobs for eight bosses in four years, God's hand was certainly on me in every transition, especially when I left the company only months before it was acquired and downsized. Yet Christians aren't guaranteed smooth careers just because they follow God, right? And there were probably some Christians caught by the layoffs I dodged... what could I say to them?

These are questions I can answer easily, but the answers always sound hollow to non-Christians. The fact of the matter is that I cannot prove that God has guided my career path, no more than an atheist can prove that he loves his wife. It is a matter of faith. My faith can't guarantee that God is actively working through my career, but I know this: he does care. That's all I need.

New church home

Yesterday we placed membership with a new church family! Here is their website -- the church building in only seven miles away from our house, which is right around the corner in Houston terms. We look foward to many years of service, worship, and community with the people there. We also hope to bring other people to the church and help introduce them to what it means to be in God's family.

Mini cool Bible fact

In Jonah 1:1-3, we have the familiar introduction to Jonah's story. He is told by God to go to Ninevah and preach warnings to them, but instead Jonah goes to nearby Joppa and hops on a ship to Tarshish.

Cool fact: From Joppa, Ninevah is about 500 miles East. That's where Jonah was supposed to go. Tarshish, his attempted escape route, was nearly 2,000 miles to the West! For comparison, imagine you live in Illinois and God commanded you to preach to New York City. Instead you ran to Seattle. That's what Jonah was doing.

You gotta give him credit -- if there was anywhere out of reach of God, it would have been Tarshish, the western end of the known world at that point in history. Too bad for Jonah that God's reach and eyes go just a little bit farther than 2,000 miles.