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Archive for the ‘Personal’ category


Thoughts on Proselytizers after the game

For those of you who went to the football game on Saturday and exited the stadium to the north, you were greeted by signs and guys shouting something about Jesus. (and the lead guy even had the odd Jeez-zusss pronunciation to top off the stereotype.)

And as I averted my eyes and quickly walked past them, just like everyone else, I had a moment of self reflection. Why didn’t I rejoice in them “bringing the message of Christ” to the people of the stadium?

I mean, I’m as dedicated a Catholic as they come. I do my best to live out the faith, trying my hardest to following all the guidance of Christ and the wisdom of the Church (yes, even the tough and unpopular ones that result in scorn). I’m willing to take on just about all of the community at California Golden Blogs in a someone legendary all-day discussion on a DBD a handful of years back, so I don’t slouch from confrontation. Plus, I’m at my local parish 4+ times a week, teaching multiple classes, many of which are focused specifically on bringing people to Christ’s Church.

So why did I avert my eyes to signs that ask people to repent and believe in Jesus?

And the answer I came to after some reflection was because those people are making a mockery of the faith. I was reluctant to brand them with such a harsh judgment at first, not wanting to criticize people for using a “different strategy” for bringing Christ to people.

But I eventually rejected the notion that it was just a matter of strategy and one thing made it perfectly clear: He was YELLING AT the people.

The realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

I wanted to go back to him and say “Why are you yelling at these people? What have they done wrong?”

His tone was one of anger and aggression. It was one assuming the worst of the people coming out of the stadium. I don’t know where they came from, but my gut says it was from somewhere where it is assumed that all people in Berkeley (or the Bay Area, or Northern California, or “San Francisco”…) were heathens and needed to be told of their condemnation. That their anger over some slight must be taken out on those evil ones in Berkeley (or SF or…).

Is that a message of love?

Make no mistake, anyone who preaches a message of anything but love is not preaching with Christ at his back.

Now, in fairness, love is an abused word that somehow has in many ways lost its meaning. Many get accused of not acting in love when what they really are saying is that they’re not acting in permissiveness. That is complete BS. A father who disciples his child so that he grows into a good man is acting in love. Love does not mean ignoring sin and error out of “niceness”.

Nevertheless, love is doing something out of a genuine concern for the best interests of the other, particularly when done selflessly.

So, I ask you who witnessed those guys yelling at us as we left the stadium: even with the most charitable interpretation of the motivations of those people, were they acting with love?

No. Not in any way.

Which means they do not speak for Christ.

Christ calls all of us to a wonderful, life-giving, live-altering covenant, one that was sealed by his sacrificial act of dying on the cross for our sins, an act done out of love for us, that he would take the penalty for our sins.

God wants all of us to respond to his call, not because it is easy or convenient, but because it is what is best for us, because he loves us. For anyone out there who reads this blog and was turned off by the yelling of those bozos, please don’t let it dissuade you from answering God’s call in your life.

They don’t speak for Him.

Sunday Morning Demons

Every die-hard fan has their way of coping with the heart-breaking losses, yet they also have the dark place/time that is hardest for them to avoid. For many, that dark place is immediately after the game. For others it’s later after the adrenaline has worn off. For me, and I’m sure for others, it’s Sunday morning.

I’m too busy after the game to get into a truly deep funk. Getting the family home, helping make sure everyone gets dinner and the kinds are in bed, etc… all of these things help me to forget.

But Sunday mornings, when I wake up before everyone else, I’m left alone with my demons. Why do I invest so much time and effort and money into this team? What a waste of a day! Is there any hope for the future?

And then inevitably, a door will open, signaling one of the kids is awake. Or a cry will come from the nursery letting me know the baby is awake. And I go to them to say good morning.

And then the future is bright again, and I remember that it’s just a game.

RIP Neil Armstrong

It was with great sadness that I heard of Neil Armstrong’s passing at the age of 82. I grew up in a time when the most exciting thing for a young boy was space exploration and Neil Armstrong was of course the icon of that time.

I was always amazed at how little he was in the public eye and always treasured the few interviews I got to see with him. I understand that was what he wanted, and I admire him for having the fortitude to eschew the siren call of cashing in on his fame. Frankly, I feel a little sad for him in that he was perhaps trapped in a persona that may not have entirely been him. Of all the interviews I saw of various astronauts his always had the feel of “I have to act as the representative of NASA and can’t be fully myself”. Every statement was carefully guarded to ensure there was no controversy and it had the full cheer-leading for NASA affect it was expected to have.

However, one can’t feel too sorry for Neil Armstrong. Both his physical and mental gifts have been well documented, and how lucky was it to be in the right place and time that those gifts could net him an experience and life unlikely any other. What a gifted life he led!

Now he gets the rest of being with his maker, and I wish him peace. Thank you for inspiring millions of little boys such as myself, Mr. Armstrong!

Where have all the BT headsets gone?

Remember when every 3rd idiot was walking around with one of those stubby bluetooth headsets in their ear all day long? It occurred to me yesterday as I was leaving work, that trend is officially over and has been for some time.

Not that people don’t use BT headsets anymore, I have one and use it when on an extended call, but the trend of permanently leaving it in ones ear is no more.

I guess everyone who did it realized that instead of making them look like someone cool and important who could be receiving a critical call at any moment, what they really looked like was a techno-dork who thought way too much of themselves.

Hilarious Olympic sailing commentary

For those who don’t know, my other hobby is sailing. It’s a much misunderstood sport and thus it doesn’t make very good television. Well, there’s lots of reasons it doesn’t make good television, but it doesn’t help that people don’t much understand it.

Enter Francis Higgins, who decided to do some spoof commentary of the s Olympic coverage of sailing (yes, there is sailing in the Olympics). It’s rare you’ll see me link to NSFW (the commentary has some crude language) video, but it’s too funny not to post:

http://gawker.com/5932302/the-best-olympic-commentary-ever-is-too-good-for-television

My gut as a sailor is that Mr. Higgins knows more about sailing than he leads on and part of the humor is making fun of Olympic commentators who are pressed into service covering sports they know little about.

Ode to my ’97 Jetta

I suffered a tragic loss on May 19th. I was driving down to the Bay Area to pick up some solar film for my telescope for the eclipse on the 20th, when I hit traffic on I-80 coming into Richmond. Apparently the idiot two cars back didn’t see all the brake lights because he plowed pretty hard into the car behind me, sending him flying into me, turning me 90 degrees to the left and into the median. The airbags deployed. 2 of the 3 bikes on the trailer hitch mounted bike rack went flying, which was to their benefit, as the lone bike that remained got crushed between the two cars. All of my sailing gear in the trunk was “redistributed” and much of it damaged.

But bikes and sailing gear are not the loss that trouble me.

My ’97 Jetta was my first self-purchased car. I bought it used from a friend of the family in December of 1998 when I graduated from college. I promptly proceeded to abuse that car in every way imaginable. I put a trailer hitch on it to tow small sailboats, growing up to towing a power boat that weighed as much as it did. I’d take it to home depot and load it up with stuff in ways no one would imagine. I would literally get people who would stop and watch me load up the Jetta wondering how (and I think secretly hoping I would fail so they could laugh) I was going to get all that stuff in there. My Jetta never failed me.

Then there was the incident where I brought home a 10′ tall Christmas tree in the trunk with the seat down. Only about 3′ was hanging out the back because I got the bottom of the trunk about 7′ inside the car. When my neighbor saw me pull it out of the car, he fell to his knees laughing asking what kind of clown car that was. He said the tree looked bigger than the car once it was out of the trunk.

The car was so versatile and so abuse-able that in 2006 I wrote a post on my personal blog lauding it while complaining about my 2002 Accord.

But just as important were the road-trips it took. This is the car I used while I was working for Rivals to both get to Berkeley and to go to the road games. It’s been to 6 of the 10 Pac-10 stadiums (Arizona, ASU, UCLA, USC, Stanford and Cal). Although I’ve driven to both Oregon and OSU, interestingly the Jetta was never taken for those trips.

It made countless trips to Berkeley to go to mid-week practices. In the early years it took me to every game. As the family grew, the Accord and later the Odyssey took over those duties, but it still came to multiple games each year when the whole family wasn’t coming to the game. It’s most recent trip was to the Spring game at Edwards field. Sadly that was it’s last trip to Berkeley.

Somewhere around 3/4ths of the OTRH podcasts and just about all of the Rivals podcasts, minus the few I flew to the games, were recorded from within it’s cabin.

A handful of those road trips included suicide missions/side-trips as both me and the Jetta were always a glutton for punishment. Some of you may remember my ASU/Grand Canyon write-up.

Over the years, the Jetta showed it’s wear. Unbeknownst to me, it had become an icon both with my coworkers and my Church friends. After the crash, I heard it referred to as “legendary”, “unflappable” and “the trooper”. It’s a running joke that I had left the windshield cracked for the last 7 or 8 years, because the last time I fixed it, not three weeks later it got another crack from an errant rock from a truck. “God likes to keep me humble” I would jovially answer when people asked me when I was going to get that fixed.

It had been my plan to drive that car into the ground until it would no longer run. It had run for 188k miles without significant mechanical problems (I think a new starter motor was the largest repair it needed). I have another 7 years before my eldest son is old enough to drive. I fully expected that car to make it that long.

But now that dream is over.

No, the Jetta was not going to go softly into the night. I think it was destined for a tragic death, where its last act was a sacrificial one, keeping safe its 3 passengers (me and my two eldest sons) during the crash that would send it to its grave. After 14 1/2 faithful years of service, it wasn’t going to let me down in its final moments.

I now own a 2012 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab. It’s very nice. It’s got some neat features in the cab that my Jetta never had. It tows easier. It hauls a lot more. It’s very comfortable.

And as nice as it is, it’s not my beloved Jetta and I fear it will never be. The days of 30 mpg are long gone even though I got the small engine, the 2×4 instead of the 4×4, and the non off-road suspension. It’s basically the most fuel efficient 5-seater truck on the market and yet I’ll be lucky to get 25 mpg.

And it doesn’t have the memories. Perhaps in 15 years I’ll be exclaiming the greatness of my Tacoma, but it’s got a very high bar to clear to be as beloved as my Jetta, this new truck of mine.

Goodbye my faithful servant, my ’97 Jetta!

“For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day.”

2nd Timothy 4:6-8