Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Apples and Oranges

I have been traveling more the last two years and have more trips scheduled. Being lazy, I have grown tired of lugging my laptop through airports and on planes. I went to the big box stores and looked at the new "net books". These are small computers with screens from 8 to 10 inches (about like a portable DVD player). They weigh about 2 1/2 lbs and seemed like a good deal. On closer inspection they hold about 16 gigs (same as my iphone). They get email and Internet (same as my iphone). They do not take cds or dvds (neither does my iphone). I now have a "net book" (It is called my iphone!).

Actually, the other part of the story is about my trips to Staples, Best Buy, and Office Depot. Every time I would ask a sales associate about a net book, they would say, "You really don't want one of these, you need this." This is always a slightly larger lap top. I finally saw a 13" super little Dell that had everything I wanted. I priced it and decided to wait. At Best Buy there is a Apple stand! Actually a table. I looked longingly at the Air (no dvd or cd port). It is super cool! I looked at the "macbooks" and saw what I needed for the same price as the Dell, but the Associates were not in the mode for someone like me so I was ignored.

I called my "I.T. guy" who does our office computers and asked what he thought of "imacs". he says no way (because he doesn't service them) and says it won't match up to my office pcs. I say, "Thats ok, it's for me!"

At the super slick Apple Store with it's hip staff, I ask a "sales associate" for assistance. I say that I want an "imac". I ask, "If I buy one, can I transfer all of my itunes from my PC to the imac? She says, "We will even do that for you." I'm good to go. She gets one for me and points me to the back of the store. If you have been to one of these stores, you will see no check out. Each person has a hand held scanner to swipe your card, etc. The problem is getting their attention. There are about four groups of Apple staff. Each group has a different color t-shirt and a different function. They all prefer to wait on younger more hip people than I. This IS a hip young store selling hip young products. And so they did (ignor me).

Someone finally saw me and graciously took my money. They did not tell me much about my purchase and I did not know enough to ask, until I got home.

Their computers are so efficient, that my iPhone starts getting emails before I leave the mall. #1 Thank You. #2 Verifying your appointment on Tuesday for the itunes transfer. #3 a Survey!

When I get home, I play with my new toy and then answer the survey. Under comments: I wrote: "It seems that your sales staff would rather wait on people their own age than with older people. I'm 61. But I have money!" Tacky, but fun!

Today, I was at the Apple store for my appointment and my phone rang. A pleasant voice said they were calling from the Apple Store and had some questions "concerning my recent visit". I said, "How ironic! I'm here now. The phone went dead!

PS: Great purchase. I have my apple harvest.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

old school reading, new school thoughts

I am actually reading a book with pages and everything. It was too big for the CD player so I'm going "old school"! The book however is extremely challenging. It is, "the Blue Parakeet" or subtitle, "Rethinking How You Read the Bible" by Scot McKnight. Here is how he challenged me in the opening chapter:

"Many of my fine Christian friends, pastors, and teachers routinely made the claim that they were Bible-believing Christians, and they were committed to the whole Bible and that - and this is one of my favorite lines-- "God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me!" They were saying two things and I add my response(which expresses my disturbance):

One: We believe everything the Bible says, therefore....

Two: We practice whatever the Bible says.

Three: Hogwash! "

He then talks about how we all (no matter what group) picks and chooses which part of the Bible to practice. Right out of the box he picks several quick examples of things the Bible speaks of but that most do not practice: Most of James 1:26-27 (look it up); the Sabbath, Tithing, Foot Washing, Charismatic Gifts, Surrendering Possessions and Contentious Issues. This book also tackles the role of women in the Church.

This book deals with: How are we to live out the Bible today?

By the way the Blue Parakeet is a foundational story in the introduction.

This is a great challenge for me. Might be one for you too!

Snow Monsters

Today was the first snow of Spring, so I decided not to mow the yard. We, instead, went to see "Monsters vs. Aliens". Yes, you should see it too. Yes, it's a cartoon. It is like Shrek and Ice Age. The kids like the visuals. The adults get the humor. This is a funny movie. It is also full of references to other movies and current events. See if you find the Gore joke. The actors are a who's who of current film culture: Steven Colbert is the President. Keifer Sutherland is General W.R. Monger. The boyfriend is Paul Rudd. But the cast of Monsters and Aliens is Reece Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie (House), Will Arnett, and Rainn Wilson. This is a treat for any human. ****1/2 stars out of five

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life's a messy business

I have been eagerly waiting the movie, "Sunshine Cleaners". It opened today and we went to T-Town to see it. The previews had portrayed this film as more of a comedy than it turned out to be but I was not disappointed. Call it Comedy/Drama in the same vane as "Juno" but not as funny or witty. The similarity is watching average peoples lives unfold in such a rich fashion. Amy Adams plays a 30s single mom who once was the head cheerleader and dating the football captain is now cleaning the homes of her classmates. She gets the idea of becoming a "cleaner" (someone who goes in to crime scenes and suicides and cleans up the mess after the police are through). Her sister (Emily Blunt) helps while her dad (Alan Arkin) takes care of her son. This is a very realistic movie and a movie with a heart. Drama mixed with humor. Just like my life.
Note: The death scenes only show blood. No bodies or gruesome scenes. There is some profanity but not pervasive.
I liked it a lot. ****stars

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I am entering the age when I go to more funerals than I like. Especially lately.

Last year one of my school classmates died suddenly. We were best friends from elementary thru high school. He was devout Catholic and I went to his Mass. If I was better educated, I would have gone to his wake the night before, but being uninformed i didn't find out about it until the funeral. His funeral, as you may know, was actually Holy Communion in Latin. The event had very little to do with him and every thing to do with the Clergy. Lasting 2 hours, I felt that Mike Nesser finally got back at me for high school. Back when he couldn't eat meat on Friday, he would buy a hamburger at Murphy's Dairy Mart after the football game and then hold it until midnight. He would keep asking what time it was, and I normally lied to him and told him it was midnight when it was about 11:45!

Today, I went to a funeral at a Episcopal Church for a great guy who was my insurance agent.
This is also "High Church" with many recitals and audience responses. The prayers are written in the program and nothing is spontaneous. It was a nice service though. And ranks ahead of Catholic masses in my list of best funerals. It also is ahead of a couple of Baptist and Assembly of God funerals that I attended in the last couple of years. these are the ones where about four "friends" get up to tell stories about the decease, but are really about themselves. The message is usually, "See I was the better friend." It is another case of "Private jokes in public places."

Of course these funerals are better than when the pastor takes over and decides to convert every last person in the audience, complete with altar call.

I like the funerals where the person's life is actually celebrated. Where it brings out the best memories of the person.

I know that when mine comes around, I want people to be talking about it for days. "Almost like I wish he had gone sooner, that was cool!" I'm talking about a quick slide show of the buildings I have done (The last power point) not long, maybe while people are being seated. Then some live music (with instruments!). Then a little talk. Then a slide show of my life with music from the Beach Boys to Beatles to Willie to whatever. Then it turns to family for most of the time slides and James Taylor, Vince Gill and Brad Paisley. The preacher can talk about heaven only if Brad Paisley is played. Give the 23rd psalm. Everybody gets a Pepsi or Diet Pepsi and one of Carol's chocolate chip cookies. Burnt Ribs for the family meal. See- they don't have to be so stuffy!

The best thing about funerals is that those in the place of honor aren't there! They are having fun.

That reminds me of the last group, the Frisbiterians: They believe that when they die, their soul goes up on the roof and can't get down.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Future March Madness

I just finished reading a story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about a person by the name of Allonzo Trier of Seattle. You may not have heard of him now but in a few years, we will be talking about him. He is a basketball player - a rather dedicated player. For the past four years he has followed the following training regimen seven days a week: Hour one: dribbling with two balls at the same time (a Pete Maravich idea from the past). Then for the next 90 minutes he makes 450 shots. Not shoots- he makes them. he makes 3,000 shots a week! If he misses two in a row, he deducts one of his shots! these are from all over the court. Twice a week he has private lessons from a coach leading to among other things to his ability to make 95 out of 100 free throws. Then he goes to team practice for a couple of hours. He plays for his school. He plays for a couple of AAU teams and plays in games around the USA on any given weekend. He is picked up on a private jet and taken to places like New York City, Houston, new Jersey, Virginia, LA, etc. He also has his own clothing line! To say that college coaches are interested is an understatement.

But then he is only 13 years old. He and his mother live in Section 8 Public Housing. He is on the 7th grade at a private school (scholarship). He also has a private tutor, but the 5'-5" star has his career ahead, doesn't he? By the way the story tells that there are others around the country that travel like he does. Keep his name in mind.

Ah yes, amateur athletics! Look up the article on line: Just google his name

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Welcome to my World!

Blogger's Note: I don't want to be seen as one who does not take his clients seriously. I take them very seriously. I depend on them. I possibly have a client or two that may read this blog. I say this because of the following story that is true and I hope shows a willingness to go the extra mile. It does, however, show that I may not no when to quit (like the cartoon)!

About three years ago a potential client (a small public school) called. This is a former client of ours for whom we remodeled a school media center about three years before. The new superintendent stated that they needed a new administration building, a new parking lot, and some remodel and that they needed to get started with construction as soon as possible. Money was in hand! I hurried over and within a month had a design in place to do these things. I had submitted a contract and he said that he was waiting for the Board to sign it. One Friday he calls and says that they are having a school board meeting prior to the Friday night football game and could I come? I reluctantly give up the night and head to the meeting. At the meeting I find that #1 The money was not there. and #2 The Board did not know about this and was not sold on the idea! OOPS!

I leave thinking this is a crazy group of people. During the meeting, as I listened, I was convinced that these people superintendent and board had no common sense much less the skills to make the decisions.

Another year passes and I have washed my hands of this client. The superintendent calls and apologizes for the past events. He says he understands if i don't want to work with him, but he is impressed with our firm and asked for time to do a small remodel project for him. He said what I wanted to hear so once again I travel to meet with him. The job is a re-roof of the school gym. i call my school construction manager friend to get involved and we get the project ready to bid.

About two days before the project is to start, a front page story is in the local paper stating that the FBI has gone to the school and confiscated the administration computers! The School does not return calls. NO project! Note to Self: Never work with this client!

Two weeks ago a grant writer calls me. He works for about 60 schools in eastern Oklahoma and he has a client that is one of only FOUR schools in Oklahoma that qualifies for an "Emergency Construction Grant" form the Feds. They qualify for a new elementary school! Great! Guess who? Yes, that school. We meet with the grant writer. We provide information for the grant. This time of course i have someone that I can trust. Right?

Yesterday, I pick up an area newspaper and there on the front page is a story that states that a certain school superintendent and a certain school board has filed suit against each other. the board is trying to fire the super. He has 2 years on his contract. The Board has not handled the issue lawfully and at the least they hate each other's guts. H-m-m-m. Wonder if I have a project?

click on cartoon to enlarge!

Book Preview

There is just too much bad news, the economy, OSU loosing in the NCAAs (Actually I was proud of the boys. They gave it their all. ), and such. So-- I searched out the books at B&N the other day. I am in the process of "reading", Night Over Water" by Ken Follet. It is an older novel that I had missed, and it is a good one. But like most of his, a long read. After my find at the store I temporarily set aside the big book for a fun little new book that is just what I was needing. the book is "I'd Rather We Got Casinos (and other Black Thoughts)" by Larry Wilmore. You might recognize him by his photo because he is the "Senior Black Correspondent" on Jon Stuart's Daily Show. This is a fun read where he muses and reflects on such topics as "why black weathermen make him happy; why brothas don't see UFOs; why the term "African-American" should be replaced by "Chocolate", how to be a "Black" leader and his statement we we should do away with Black History Month! "After all, can 28 days of trivia really make up for centuries of oppression? In Whitmore's words, "I'd rather we got casinos!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Common Cold

I got one, and I thought I was past getting illnesses from the kids!


It was Friday at the movies. Yea! We went to see "Duplicity" which stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen and with great supporting cast of Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti. This is a spy movie, a corporate spy movie. It is about stealing company secrets. Great movie for thinking adults and those that don't mind past/present flashbacks. I enjoyed it and was surprised by the ending. About two times in the movie, I had resolved all the issues and begin to think they were dragging things out. Then I found that things may not be what I thought. This is an action movie for the mind. Much dialog so this is PG30. I give it *** stars.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness

I have my brackets filled out. I'm ready. TV at the office. Have a download on my iphone that lets me watch any of the games that are on live! On our TV at home the OU game is on. On my iphone, I am watching the Duke game! How cool is that! We can't solve any of the world's problems but on my phone, I get instant statistics of every game, I can scroll the brackets, and I can watch any current game. I did go overboard and downloaded about 4 different March Madness aps. One even shows highlights of last year? Why? Because they can. But we still can't cure the common cold, which I believe is coming my way. I was with 2 sick family members this weekend and I think I caught something! Madness.

Charles Barkley was being interviewed on ESPN today about the tournament and he refused to give his picks to win. When pressed he said, "Look, there is only one expert and that's GOD. The rest of us are just guys with opinions!"

Back in the Saddle

Went to a movie tonight and saw "Race to Witch Mountain" starring Dwayne Johnson (the actor formerly known as "the Rock". Another sci-fi movie but this time you actually like the characters. All that I need to say about this is if you saw the preview of this movie and thought you might like it, you will. If you thought you wouldn't, you won't.

Disney Movie and another version of E.T. **1/2 stars (It isn't E.T.!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

spring break

My blogging suffers. I am on spring break with the family. We went to the Fort Worth Zoo and then we had a feast at Pappadeaux (Cajun). We are talking oysters, crawfish, grilled tilipia topped with shrimp & lump crab! Yea, I'm bragging. More later, this is from my phone.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

State of Things 4

Have you seen the commercials that they are showing on TV in the Sooner State. It shows school kids telling how the proceeds from the lottery, etc. is benefiting state education. It is a neat story. However, I was talking to a member of the state school board association yesterday and he told me that the great Oklahoma legislature routinely reduces the education appropriation by the amount of these gambling proceeds! Huh! We were told that this new money would help fix our education funding! If I am wrong someone correct me.

Now here is the next crazy thing. Public educators are already hearing that the Oklahoma's part of the education STIMULUS, will also be deducted from the appropriations! No wonder we can not get ahead!

I am hoping this is wrong!

Monday, March 9, 2009

State of Things 3

I just can't let these two items pass.

Remember my rant about people who are intolerant about those who like Obama?

In Saturday's Tulsa World there was a story about a Hunter Safety Class (adult/child) in Broken Arrow. When all the attendees had assembled, the instructor asked if any of the students had voted for Obama. A few raised their hands. He told them to leave stating that he would not teach liberals! One of those was an Marine who had brought his son. One was a grandpa who brought his grandson. When they protested, the teacher threatened to cancel the class. The 15 year instructor lost his job the next day (he was a volunteer).

Sunday in the two state newspapers and today in the Muskogee paper, was an article about Senator Coburn's friendship with Obama. When Coburn was seen hugging Obama at his speech before Congress, 50 of Coburn's supporters contacted him to protest!

Things get crazier every day

Book report: The Shack

The crazy thing about this book is that I have avoided reading it. This is a book that's been out a couple of years and people at church that know I read a lot have come up to me and asked me if I've read "The Shack" yet. I had heard about it and read enough to know its subject. I first passed it off as Pop Christianity because most of "Christian fiction" is not very good. I then dismissed it because it deals with a father coming to grips with the death of his six year old daughter. I have lived that myself. Pass again. Recently I moderated a class at church dealing with human suffering and was surprised when two different people said to me, "You are teaching that class about "the Shack." No. Well, I was between books so I thought, what the heck.

I finished it today. I am supremely glad that I read it. The writer does capture many of the emotions of a parent who has faced such a loss. He goes much further and challenges me to rethink or at least examine EVERY facet of my beliefs. I am still dealing with it. Part of its beauty is the reminder that at the core our spiritual walk is simple. I make it complex with the things that I allow to cloud my life (both personally and in a church setting). There is a spot in the story when Jesus reminds the dad that many of the things we encounter at church are of our making and never mentioned by him. It gave me pause. Many times Jesus has to stand in line to get our attention while some of us busily try to make religion in our image. We question the preacher, the teachers, the leaders, and those that get to church late. We like to be the judge, but we don't want to be judged. When we suffer we like to dwell in our loss, sometimes without looking at who is waiting for us to look up. This probably doesn't make sense. I just say, "Read THE SHACK. Better still, listen to it on audio.

Also, there is an afterword at the end. After it is a message from the author about how the book came about. Don't pass over it.

PS; This is not a book for non-Christians. It will challenge life long Christians.

Also: When I googled to get the book cover, I ran across an article titled: "The thirteen herises of the Shack." Please! Remember this book does NOT replace the Bible and does not claim all truth. It should not challenge your basic beliefs just your commitment to them. It is fiction with a punch.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Savings Time

When I was growing up in Haskell, daylight savings time started when I was about junior high. At church whenever time was mentioned for an event, one of the local farmers would always ask, "Is that old time or new time?" They measured time by daylight or dark.

Today at church I noticed that the attendance was about 2/3 normal. It happens every spring. As my family likes to remind me, it won't happen to me. Back in about 1991, i got confused about, "spring forward....". We got to church two hours early! It took a while to live that down. I am still living with it!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Madea Goes To Jail

I saw the first Tyler Perry, Madea, movie a few years ago and have not seen one since. Of the Type, his movies are very good. "Madea Goes to Jail" was better than watching TV. What I mean is after "The Watchmen" I needed a fun movie not necessarily deep. This fit the bill. We have seen every good movie in our town or in Tulsa, so this was the best of what remained. His movies always have a good message mixed with the humor. If you have seen a Madea movie, you will like it. **1/2 stars

Friday, March 6, 2009

Who watches the Watchmen?

Young person alert! The following old guy movie review is one you won't like.

Who watches the Watchmen? Unfortunately I did! This is a PG50 movie. No one over 50 will like it and no one under 50 should. Unless: I figure anyone who sets around killing people on their video games will love it. People who want to see the next shocking movie (Kill Bill, etc.) People who love slasher movies with a little sex thrown in will love it. People who like hard R cussing, killing, big naked guys (full frontal much of the time), cities blowing up, and people laughing while others are killed movies will think they have seen "Gone with the Wind"

This movie is "Gone with Special Effects".

When Superman came out, I liked it and every Superman movie since. I grew up with Superman comics, TV and all. I like Batman comics. When the campy Batman TV show came out, I was at NSU. All the guys packed the dorm TV room (twice a week). I have liked most all of the Batman movies. Dark Night was very good. Comic Book Movies since have been with superhero's that I did not gro up with. I knew about Spiderman and Hulk (I liked TV Hulk).
When Spiderman movie came out, I enjoyed it. When Spidey 2, it was ok. #3 was too cheesy. Something must change before I will see #4! Hulk was mediocre at best. I did not know who Ironman was and that movie was a Rush! Great Fun.

So when the trailer for "The Watchmen" started playing, I guess I was hoping for a edgy movie but like Ironman. WRONG! The time setting for this movie is 1985 and Nixon has just been elected for the 5th time. That is all I'm telling. I have stopped reading fiction where some mass murderer is on the loose killing people in more shocking ways than before. I don't want to see it at the movies either. You have several superheroes some retired some not, some you like, some you hate. You even have one that the show as actually killing Kennedy! I guess I am too old.

Consider this as taking one for the team. If you like this one or see this one, I fear you are in one of the previous categories. Not a good one for teens. I give it * star, maybe.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The trouble with Skittles

About 1989 we lived in Bixby, Oklahoma. Our son, Nate, was in the seventh grade. One evening I am setting in my favorite chair reading the paper and Carol tells Nate to take me a Sudafed. (Allergy problems) He comes to me and offers me this large green pill and says, "I brought you a Skittles." Without giving it a thought, I bite down and start chewing! When I screamed from the intense bitter taste, Nate left the house in a hurry. It took a long, long time to get that taste to leave. Nate (now older and less fearful) likes to remind me of that tale.

On the recent trip to Vegas I bought an actual bag of Skittles (by the way Sour Skittles are my fav.) to take to the races. I had part of the bag when we returned and set it on the console of my truck. After turns and starts and stops, I looked down and saw that the contents had spread out over the bottom of the tray and as I drove to Morris today, I would reach down by feel and grab a couple of the candies. On the way back, I once again reached down for 2 or three, and among them to my shock was another bitter, bitter pill! I stopped the truck and examined the console and found 4 more small red pills among the skittles. Carol has spilled some meds the other day and failed to get them all picked up. Yuk!

Skittles and pills don't mix well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Race Day

Yes, we did go for the race. It was the Shelby 427. The sponsor, Shelby Racing, had a large display of their Cobras, Mustangs, and GTs. Yep, that's me next to the Pace Car.

If you look close at the track photo, you can see one of the Flying Elvis parachute team dropping in.

The track has the mountains as a backdrop. the Air Force base is next to the track. The Thunderbirds did the flyover and put on a show.

Below is Jeff Gordon with the microphone doing an interview before the race at the stage on the "midway". Best I could do with about 2,000 Gordon fans trying to jockey for a view. Out west Gordon is actually as popular as Dale Earnhart Jr.


Only in Vegas does the grand opening for a new complex happen at 10:00pm on a Sunday Night!
The casino is so exclusive that it only needs one letter, "M". The casino is ten miles south of the strip but the strip is growing toward it. We went out on Monday to see it and took a few photos.

Las Vegas: The architect's trip

The new media center at the SpeedwayWhat recession? New hotel going up North of Wynn casino

City Center is a 12 building complex with high rises everywhere and some pretty wild entry buildings

We were last here two years ago and nothing shown here existed. The Wynn casino below had just opened now there is a sister building next to this one that is identical called "Encore."

The building that looks like it has melted (under construction) is a new "Brain Clinic" medical center.

A new casino that opened while we were there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The State of Things 2

Ok, where is Rush Limbo to explain things for me? All the Republican Congress Squad (Representatives and Senators) blasted the Stimulus as wasteful, too big, full of earmarks, etc. They all vote NO WAY! After all it was full of pork with not enough tax cuts. It was reported Monday in the Tulsa World that the group Taxpayers for Common Sense examined the bill and found that this same group (EXCEPT COBURN) added 66,000,000 in earmarks to the bill before voting no. I guess you can have it both ways: Claim the high road and then add pork because they knew it would pass! At least Coburn has credibility. He and Boren both did what they said they would do. Coburn: No Boren: Yes

Inhofe was quoted as saying: "Spending in Washington is out of control. However, I have and will continue to ensure that Oklahoma gets what it is entitled ..." Huh?

I don't always agree with Coburn but he stands on his beliefs.
Inhofe just stands.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The State of Things: Stimulus and Recession Fears 1

At Jimmy Buffett's store I bought this hat which sums up how I feel about the current situation.