Friday, January 30, 2009

iphone update

I have added several new applications on my phone, but the best so far is that I now have the complete NIV Bible on my phone. It is a breeze to use and is always handy. C00l!
Example shown is actual size.

2-fer on Friday

Today, I celebrated the end of a lousy week. I got very little accomplished this week. A strange cross of having cabin fever and wanting snow days but feeling too guilty to enjoy the slow down. My mind just hasn't been there! So I recharged. Today at 4pm I went to see "Taken". For you that went to "Gran Torino" thinking it was a revenge tale, "Taken" fulfills your need. Think of it as Liam Neeson as an old Jason Bourne. I was a ride with adrenaline rush, tension, and downright mean guy with nothing to loose. Yeah, it is one of those. I liked it. It does show a big part of the evil world that we would rather not consider, but it moves so fast, you can't consider long. For me it was ***star.

Then we went home let the dog out a little and headed back to see "New in Town" , the Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. movie. Remember my rant about critics. Here is the opening paragraph of USA Today's review of this movie in today's edition:

"To say that New in Town is the worst movie of this fledgling year is to damn it to faint praise. It may be one of the worst movies of any year. Not content to be merely inane and predictable, it is downright insulting, humorously deriding those who choose to live in rural America, labor in factories or have a strong Christian faith" They gave it *star out of four.

Wow! Who would want to see that movie? Not me. But that was not the one I saw. If you have seen the preview, you know exactly what it is about. As far as inane and predictable, isn't that what we do when we watch American Idol, Lost, The Office , or the news. Most things are predictable and in a pattern that doesn't take a wise man to figure out. It is a romantic comedy! It has been done with "One Fine Day", Bridget Jones Diary, etc. etc. (Renee again). Old Harry even did it once already with "Hope Floats". So what. I knew what kind of movie, it would be and I knew it would end happily. We can use some for sure happy endings now and then.

When I go to a concert, I guess it would be more memorable if the lead singer is shot for a encore, but that's not why I go. New in Town is good fun and does not deride anyone. It does use the typical Hollywood approach to small town folk, but I got over that about 20 years ago.
I won't rate it but I liked it. Comedy's are hard to rate anyhow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

State of Things

Snow Day

This week has be called off! My how times have changed.

Back Yard shot this morning and how it looks from my desk window at night. Of Course, we have the Japanese Maple covered with lights. It stays that way year around on a timer. It keeps the neighbors guessing!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Critical Thinking

After watching "The Wrestler" one of the "Critically acclaimed movies of the year". It reminded me of a few observations. I started noticing a few years ago that the buildings by Architects that were awarded notice by the "critics" were the shocking, the different, the edgy, etc. Same goes for movies, morals, etc. The rule of the day: "Show me something that I have not seen! If I have seen anything(story, lyric, image) like it before, then you are not original and therefore of lessor rating." Isn't that sort of the reason for pornography. One sees something as regular and seeks something more exotic and then more and then more. "The Wrestler" was certainly something that I had never seen. Done it. I want to do it again with the same regularity as a colonoscopy. Come to think of it, that's what most critics need!

This is not new of course. The Apostle Paul saw in in Athens when it was written in Acts. he went to a meeting at the Areopagus where they said to him, " May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting. You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears and we want to know what they mean. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas)"

Its still going on, isn't it Matt?

Mike gets pinned at the Movies

I am slowly going through my check list of movies I needed to see before the Academy Awards. Call it a hobby. Friday was supposed to be one of them but the film messed up. Today we went to see "The Wrestler" and we were out of luck again (The film failed to break!). Mickey Rourke is up for best actor and Marisa Tomei is up for best supporting actress. Had they been nominated for actors with the most "GUTS", actors who apparently have nothing to loose, actors that don't care period! Okay.
Test: Think of the most depressing movie you ever saw. Got it. Well that was a zany comedy! Mickey plays an over-the-hill pro wrestler and Marisa plays an over-the -hill stripper. Actually, they play the same role. Dreary lives, surviving day to day, little hope, cesspool existence. Sorry, I'm giving away the fun part.

Warning: Hard R, Nudity from both and more than you want to see. I'm not talking Kate Winslet kind of nudity (The Reader) either. There is violence and on purpose torture, sickness and much profanity. No Sunday School material here!

Mike's rating: ****stars for guts, *** stars, **stars for acting, *star for the theater. As for enjoyment it is just ahead of the birthing videos, I was forced to see 35 year ago. I walked out on those!

THE Concert

Last night we went to see The Brad Paisley Concert. I am a huge Brad fan and was not disappointed.

The opening acts, Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish) and Dierks Bentley were good. But for me the Brad part of the concert was the single best live show that I have seen. Brad is into video and animation (which he creates). Therefore, his shows have three stage levels with the face of each platform faced with video screens. The back drop of the set is a 25' by 60' video screen that can be segmented into multiple screens. There are the normal two screens that all concerts have for close-ups, but in Brad's shows you may be watching 15 screens at once. The stage and the ramps that come out into the audience are covered by computer synced LED lights. The outline of the arena floor is lined with spots and the rest of the light show can change into almost anything. When he performs a song that was a duet, the partner is there by video. he did "Whisky Lullaby" with Alyson Kraus and she appeared to come out on stage in a spot light and sing with him. The entire experience was as flawless as any production I have witnessed. Oh, yes. The music was good too!

I am hoping the 2009 tour which only started last week will swing back close by say Kansas City or Dallas. I would go in a heart beat.
PS: I did find one element fascinating and humorous (to me). As you know Country music has its share of Redneck Fans. When Darius Rucker came out on stage, there had to be many "Blzing Saddles" moments happening all over the arena! he won them over in about 20 seconds.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rachel Getting Married, Maybe, Maybe Not

We close our office at 4:00pm on Fridays. Today Carol and I slipped a little early to see one of the academy award nominated movies, just noe arriving in our town. The movie is "Rachel Getting Married" starring Anne Hathaway (Nominated for Best Actress in a Lead) as one just getting out of drug rehab in time for her sister, Rachel, to get married. It is drama with dark comedy.

The movie started at 4 and we got there about 4:05. We were first in the Theater and the movie had not started. After waiting a few minutes, I went out and asked them to start the show. They abliged, and while I was out the audience doubled in size. The first commercial started up and the projector shut off. They had left the booth, so I went out and told them to get it going. They played with it and then told us they would start it in 10 minutes. It started. then stopped. Then in a couple of minutes started again. It was now 4:30. We watched the previews and the movie started with the sound low. I, again, went out and said hey. Movie going all is well. The movie is a mix of regular camera and handheld which gives it a home movie feel.

At first it was like watching somone's videos. the movie was slowly setting up and we came to the scene of the rehearsal dinner where every one was giving a toast. It was building up to the speech by Miss Hathaway's character and the movie suddenly went upside down. Not only that, but the sound was garbled. Movie stopped. The attendant shrugged is shoulders. All four of us filed out. We never made the wedding.

We did get an apology from the manager and free passes.

Hope Rachel made it! As for Anne the actress, her role was light years apart from Devil Does Prada.

Runaway Games 2

Remember when I posted about the runaway Football game in Florida. Here is another of the sort. Two private Christian Schools in Dallas played a varsity girls game recently. Dallas Academy has not won a game in 4 years. So the outcome was never in doubt. Dallas Academy specializes in students with ADD and Dyslexia. Covenant School was leading 59-0 at half. The game ended 100-0! It was only when they neared 100 that Covenant stopped "a full court press" and three point shots. To their credit Covenant only scored 12 points in the 4th quarter.

After the game produced much press, Covenant then offered to forfeit the game and apologized for the lack of Christian attitude and honor.

The Dallas Academy kids were praised for finishing the game and Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks invited the team to set in his private box for an NBA game.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Presentation 2

Tonight, I conducted a public hearing for the business owners in downtown Fort Gibson. We are preparing the replace their sidewalks and lamp posts in a four block area. We had a good crowd in the council chambers, and someone brought their 8 year old daughter who naturally sat on the front row by herself. For every question asked by one of the stake holders, the cute little girl asked one as well. Her first question was ok, "How will we walk if the sidewalks are gone?" I smiled. The audience smiled. I answered. Moving along, someone asked a question. I answered. The precious little girl asked, "Will we get new sidewalks at my school?" I smiled and looked over the audience wanting the parent to speak up. No luck. I again answered her question. Someone else asked a question. I answer. This darling little angel of a girl asked, "Can we get a new flag?" I smile. The audience smiled. No one even nodded. It went on!
She even came up after the meeting and interrupted my conversation with the Mayor. Maybe she is on the Town Council?

Dear Abby: Well ,never mind. She may be yours!


Today we had a lighting salesman come to our office for a lunch presentation. I had a Rotary meeting at noon so I only made the first 20 minutes of his talk. He had stacks of new catalogs and several new light fixtures spread around and even brought pizza. The first 15 minutes of his presentation centered on him. All his previous jobs and how each ended with him being laid off and how he had gained insight along his road. He then told us how he would approach projects when he was designing lighting (like we are now). I never heard his product talk and was happy to leave. All through Rotary I thought of him and the mistake he was making. Having his card, I committed to emailing him my thoughts.

To my surprise, my return to our office found him still in the conference room. Meeting over he was finishing the pizza.

I went in and asked if I could give him some advice. He affirmed. I said, "I don't mean to tell you your business, but I think you need to know what the other side of the table heard today. You started by telling us all the jobs that you were dismissed from. It is not a great way to instill confidence. I give a lot of presentations and I don't believe I would start by listing my failures."

He stopped me and and started a defense saying, "I think it is important for people to know my background and why I am now doing this!"

I said, "It may be important to you, but we have limited time and want to know about products. I for one thought you need a therapist."

I probably need to polish my "beside manner" but I hope he listens or his days in this new job are very short.

Dear Ann Landers: Was I too harsh?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How's work?

Life as a Banker 2

Carol and I just completed another round of "kiva loans". I blogged about it last year. This is the idea of making micro loans in a bundle with others to people in underdeveloped countries. We get e-mail up-dates and as a loan is being paid down the money we have loaned becomes available for new loans. We have 2 paid off Afiwa in Togo (money for a food production business) and a construction loan to Maricela in Mexico. Today we made two loans to Cheab in Cambodia for a grocery store and Tang also in Cambodia to buy a taxi. We have 4 different loans to people in Tajkistan, one in Uganda (group loan) and one in Pakistan (group loan). I tell of this so that you may consider the fun of helping others. There are 150 people in the Oklahoma Chapter which is the second largest in the U.S. Remember the loans are in increments of $25.00. we are not breaking the bank here. many of our loans are for the minimum and some are $50 or $75.

As I stated previously this was my response to reading "3 Cups of Tea" and Clinton's book "Giving" where kiva was explained.

The following are some of our "Clients".
The group is in Pakistan.
Cheab is at the sewing machine, new Cambodia store loan.
Guliniso, (Tajkistan) has repaid 83%. Maricela of Mexico (standing in the courtyard) has fully repaid her construction loan.

Tuesday Escape

Went to see "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" last night. It was not as tense as "7 Pounds" or as intriguing as "Benjamin Buttons" or as compelling as "Doubt", but it was amusing and a good reason to eat popcorn in the dark. Good rental or for someone not wanting to think.
FYI: It is the Number 1 movie this week in the U.S. I think a lot of folks want to escape!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The ceremonial pitch has been thrown.

Play Ball!

Monday, January 19, 2009

1-20-09 What goes round......

History does indeed repeat itself.

Several years ago when Nixon lied to us, his achievements went unnoticed because of Watergate. The country wanted someone WE could trust so WE elected Carter. He was a fine Christian man who wore sweaters and talked softly. The economy tanked and Iran held Americans as captives. Inflation was about 18%. We had made a mistake. It did not make sense though, because the Senate and the House were controlled by Democrats (same as Carter)! As a result of that experience WE took a chance and elected Reagan who had no world experience but gave great speeches. He was a great president.

A few years ago when Clinton lied to us, his achievements went unnoticed because of Monica. The Country wanted someone WE could trust so we elected George W Bush. he was a fine Christian man who wore jeans and talked like us. The economy tanked and Iraq has held us hostage. Recession has set in. We made a mistake. It did not make sense though because the Senate and the House were controlled by Republicans (same as Bush)! As a result of that experience WE took a chance and elected Obama who had no world experience but gave great speeches.

Here is hoping that he is a great president.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Our 2 year old Master Builder

This weekend we kept the grandsons. It was their first trip to our house since the holidays. During that time the garage was so full of decoration boxes, etc. that the cars stayed outside. Today I opened the garage door as we loaded the truck to take the boys back. Addison was standing by me in the garage with his hands in his pocket. He surveying the room with a sweeping motion and bobed his head to the positive as he said, "PaPa yous did a good job cleaning the garage."

Carol told me that Saturday morning he helped her sweep the back porch and said he can handle a broom as good as an adult.
Nate brought them that morning and got up on the roof and helped us replace a shingle that had worked loose. The rest of the weekend, Addison wanted to play roof repair. When we went to the playground he insisted that he bring his toy hammer so that he could climb the slide stair to fix the platform (his roof). By the time he is ten I predict he will build a tree house or something.
He has an eye for how things are made.
We let the boys buy a toy at Wally-World. Avery bought a monster truck, Addison wanted a Caterpillar Bulldozer.
That's him climbing!

Obama's Party in the Park

If you get a chance, watch the HBO special of the Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. It was one of the best outdoor concerts ever with good sound, good timing, great performances by everyone from U2 and Bruce Springsteen to Beyonce and Garth Brooks. I was proud of old Garth. They let him do 3 songs and it seems no one is any better at involving a crowd. At the end Pete Seeger and Bruce led everyone in Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land". It is always great to see a little bit of Okie shine on the big stage.

Last Chance Harvey

After we returned our grandsons to their rightful owners today, we went to the movies and saw, "Last Chance Harvey" starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. It is good to see Dustin in a movie that is perfect for him. Of course any movie is perfect for Emma Thompson! This movie is PG30. No one under thirty should go. It is about adults and they dialogue. There is not an F word, fight, or car chase. It is about a guy who goes to London for his daughter's wedding, only to find that his daughter wants her "Step Dad" to give her away and when he calls back to his office in New York, he learns he has been fired! All in the first day. That is just the start.

I liked it. ***1/2 stars.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quotes of George W

As King George II is about to walk into the sunset (or move to Dallas), two quotes remain from my desk calendar:

"I'll be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain. I've heard about it. I hope you go-- you know--I hope you go back to the ranch and the farm is what I'm about to say."

Manhattan, Kansas, January 2006

And the last quote:

"I hope you leave here and walk out and say, 'What did he say?' "

Beaverton, Oregon, 2004

It can only get better!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Double Header

I have survived a busy and stressful week. Very important presentation Monday Night in Morris, followed by a kick off of a big project in Poteau Tuesday morning, then the first night of a new class Wednesday night at church and then an important interview Thursday night in Tahlequah, nothing slow is happening at the moment. With this kind of momentum it seemed like the thing to do Friday is watch someone else perform.

First, we went to the afternoon matinee to see Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino". Everyone expects this to be a good revenge movie or as one review said, Dirty Harry combined with Archie Bunker. There is all of that but much, much more. If you wanted to catch up on disparaging epithets of about every race on the earth, this is a refresher. There is much humor mixed with good drama. The story spans all generations (and most forms of profanity as well).

As is my practice, I will not reveal the story, but will say it the Movie is much greater than the Ford that provided the name. I give it **** stars.

Note: This movie has much harsh language, but it is important to the story. It is a hard "R".
It is a Gran movie. Another Note: Stay for the credits, the song playing was written by Eastwood and may be up for an Academy Award.

Second, after a pit stop at home, we went to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame forZach and Colton, the Colton Brother's CD release concert. It was great fun and great music. These guys will make Oklahoma proud. The band that they assembled includes Reba's former drummer and the fiddle player from Vinita that has toured in Alan Jackson's band. Our to local side men, Jermaine Mondaine and Ron Boren can stand with any. Jermain plays a great sax!

As we say: A good time was had........... and the week drifted away.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chili Bowl

Sounds good this time of year. Tuesday, Nate and I made our annual trip to the Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. I am always amazed at the conversion of the building from an exhibit hall for boat shows and home shows to the best indoor racing facility in the U.S. The lower level becomes a dirt track with seating for 15,000 people and the upper level contains the pit area and a large trade show similar to midway at a NASCAR event. There are Midgets (race cars) from 30 states and several foreign countries entered and several NARCAR drivers, Drag Racers, Sprint Car drivers, etc. It is what you do in the winter if you are a race fan. Every night is sold out! It is the largest race event in Oklahoma. Though it is a small track, I witnessed 8 cars flip last night. They go fast.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Suffering along the slow road.

Wednesday, I will lead the first of a series of classes about "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God". In the sessions I will show video lessons given by people who understand suffering first hand. As one speaker says, " The definition of suffering is expectation divided by experience."
Let that sink in. I guess that is why I have a little understanding of it but no expertise. In a ten year span (1979 to 1989), Carol and I experienced the loss of our daughter, foreclosure (twice), forced bankruptcy, death of our dads, almost total loss of income, marriage problems (well you get the idea). The thing is: we made it with God's help. I learned to remind myself that at any given time, I am one week from working the drive-thru at McDonald's or being a greeter at WalMart.

The first class is the first part of a speech by Joni Eareckson Tada (second part next week). It may be one of the most impactive videos that I have ever witnessed (and when it comes to that I have seen a lot!) I have watched it about 4 times in the past week and I do not grow tired of it.
I would encourage anyone who may happen upon this blog to witness it with me again Wednesday night (1-14-09) at 7 pm at the Muskogee Church of Christ. I will also show a companion clip from one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption. This WILL be a good use of your time.

"Get busy living or get busy dying."

Our new marketing approach in 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monster Jam 2009 BE THERE!

Saturday night I had yet another cultural event that only a NASCAR fan could relate to. Nate and I took the boys to the Monster Jam at the BOK Arena. Monster Trucks! Not the kind that pull up next to you driven by REDNECKS. We are talking 1,100 horsepower giants (that I might add are too big for BOK). We went the second night along with about 6,000 others (50% kids).

Why we go!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A past life revisited

Tonight we went to see "Frost/Nixon" in Tulsa. It is rated PG50. No one under 50 will understand this movie (unless they fast forward two years and watch it happen to George W!).
Frank Langella has my vote for best actor, if I had a vote. This movie by Ron Howard is based on a Broadway play that starred the same two actors. They have lived these roles for a while.
It is done documentary style and mix actual TV footage with reenactment. Langella does not look like Nixon (see photo comparison) but ten minutes into the movie "He is Nixon". I cannot rate this movie as superior to some of the recent movies but it is equal to the best in its own way. *****stars.

The movie brought my past back in the following ways:
1. He was the first President that I voted for. (twice).
2. He was the President that I got close to. When the Port of Catoosa was dedicated in 1970 something, my brother Tom and his daughter and I went to the event. Nixon walked down a chain link fence shaking hands. He came up to us and instead of shaking his hand, I took a picture of him shaking my niece's hand.
3. He left office on our daughter, Heather's second birthday.
4. Watergate was a strange to those that lived it as anything in Politics.

Nixon always was a sad story. He felt misunderstood by the public and misrepresented by the media. He mislead to the country and said it was for the greater good. Wait a minute that's Bush 2!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Momma Mia is a Righteous Kill

I was asked to least my least favorite movies since I listed my favorites. I wanted to list "Lions for Lambs" (Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep) and "88 Minutes" (Al Pacino). They are still rentals in the current movie aisles. They came out in 2007! That's how much I disliked them. They were fresh on my mind still. You may have liked these movies but here are my least favorites in 2008: "Righteous Kill" (Robert Deniro & Al Pacino) and "Momma Mia" (Meryl Streep). Both years feature the same actors (favorites of mine) that coast through the story. The actors in "Righteous Kill" should especially be ashamed because they have made some of the best Cop/Bad Guy movies ever. "Momma Mia" it is on my list because I actually slept through part of it (similar to walking out).

We did not walk out of any movies this year, because the type of movies that would cause such action are no longer on my to do list. We have more on our minds now. See below.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Blind Side, IRS Style

We got a Certified Letter from the IRS today. Not a pleasant looking piece of Junk Mail. Seems we owe them $25.25 from 2006! This was our first notice. AND This was listed as a FINAL notice with threat to seize our assets to get the money due them. Had we known, say last year, it probably would have cost about $5.00. As it is the certified mail, the computer time to create the notice and the faithful agent looking for such things cost about $200.00 to collect $25.

The Blind Side

I'm reading a fascinating book by Michael Lewis, called "The Blind Side" (Evolution of a Game). It starts out by telling the story of how pro football evolved to the point that the left tackle on Offensive is the second highest player on most teams. The left tackle protects the quarterback's "Blind Side" (assuming right handed quarterbacks). It tells how Lawrence Taylor of the Giants was so dominating that after he ended the Redskin quarterback's career (Joe Theismann) with a blind side tackle, that NFL quarterbacks needed reassurance.
After this intro, the book switches to the story of Michael Oher, a poor black Memphis kid with no home, a mother on drugs, and an IQ of 85. It tells how a wealthy white family took him in and raised him. It is a compelling story.

Oh yes, Michael, as a junior in High School, was 6'-6" and 345, could run the 40 in 5 seconds, could play basketball like a point guard and manhandle 250 lb. lineman like they were children. He had played NO sports before his junior year!

His transformation is a great story especially bringing his IQ from 85 to 115. When discovered he did not know what an ocean was, had no verbal skills, an knew nothing of the world.

I heard the story on XM Radio and bought the book before the Cotton Bowl. He was starting tackle for Ole Miss and one of the reasons that Texas Tech lost. He is projected to be one of the first taken in the NFL draft.

The book was first published in 2005 and is a great read whether you are a football fan or not.