Monday, December 31, 2007
I'm talking about the movies. The only other place (other than a sporting event) where you have the privilege of paying $12.00 for a popcorn that cost 50 cents to produce. But, it's not about price at the movies. It never has been. It's about the people...
I no longer want to go to a theater that invariably has people that couldn't care less about anyone else in the place. Whether it's the couple that bring their baby - and that baby proceeds to cry during the movie. Or, perhaps its the teens that are there for every other reason than to watch the movie. Or the others that just want to have a conversation instead of enjoy the show. And, my biggest peeve, the people that cannot possibly miss a call or text and are using their cell phones the entire time. Those phones give off a lot of light and are very distracting.
The movie studios and the theater operators have been lamenting the state of their business for many years. The claim DVDs, production costs, and piracy as the problems they face. They are totally wrong. The problem is that the theater operators don't police their theaters and the entire experience suffers for it. When in-home entertainment rooms are the rage, why would anyone go to the movies to battle that crap? I know I no longer will.
Before you tell me that I sound like some cantankerous old man, even Angie said she was really distracted when we went to see "I Am Legend" last week. The teens next to us got up at least 10 times during the movie...sometimes returning to their seat so quickly that they could not have possible gone to the bathroom. There was a group of people having their own conversation the entire movie. And worst of all, the teen next to us kept checking her phone every five minutes. I don't know what she does for a living that she couldn't afford to miss something, but I know that I am on the clock 24x7, and I still managed to put my phone on vibrate and not check it the entire time.
I think I am going to take all of the money I save by not going to the movies and invest in a recliner for the living room. With the surround sound and the 54 inch TV, I don't think I'll ever miss the theater again.
Too bad microwave popcorn just doesn't taste as good as the theater stuff.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Combine my very real need to get into shape with a very strong sibling rivalry that my brother, sister and I share (even though we may not see each other or even talk to each other often), and you may have the motivation needed to finally get it done.
You see, my sister Michele, my brother Marc, and I all are big. So, one of us geniuses came up with the idea that we should have a weight loss competition in the spirit of The Biggest Loser. Here's the deal. Every week, starting on January 2nd, I will update our progress on the blog. The first one of us to lose 20% of our body weight will be the winner - or, the Littlest Lessard.
This is what we are playing for:
1) If I win, Marc and Michele have to fly me to New York and take me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants - Gasho of Japan in Hauppauge.
2) If either one of them win, I have to fly them both down to Dallas for a dinner at Pappasitos.
That's it. We'll post pics, weight, weight loss, percentage lost, and probably talk a lot of smack in the comments. It won't matter, though. They'll lose.
My overwhelming desire not to lose to either of them will ensure that...because the trip and the dinner be damned, it's all about the bragging rights.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Did you know that we exchange presents as a symbol for the ultimate present that God has given us in Jesus Christ? I didn't until tonight. It made me wonder about the entire nativity scene and the amazing God we have. How easy it would be to discuss the coming of a savior in the grandeur and splendor that was due to him. Who could have blamed God for wanting to spoil is child, who left the perfection of heaven to take human for among us? He could have been born in the finest hospital to the best doctors...instead, he was born among the livestock in a manger. Thinking about the entire life and ministry of Jesus, it just begs the question, "why?"
Why would our God, who created all things, place his only Son in squalor, to an unmarried virgin woman who would become the object of doubt by her betrothed and gossip to her town? Why would our God send his Son, His PERFECT SINLESS Son, to Earth to take on our sin and to die like the worst criminal of His time?
The answer is as easy to understand as it is to accept: Because He loves us, and because it is the only way He could bring us to Him. Had He done it any other way, the story would have lost something and perhaps the focus would have been moved away from His grace and love for us to something else. It is just amazing that He loves us so much. One of my favorite songs has the line, "You know the depths of my heart, yet You love me just the same". Meditate on that. God knows the ugliest, most depraved depths of our hearts, and loves us anyway. That is awesome to think about.
Whether you get what was on your Christmas list, or not - remember, we've already been given the greatest gift of all.
The Birth of Jesus 1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Angie has really wanted a smaller dog that would play with the kids. We'll she's found one. Higgins has a really sweet personality and, at a year old, really loves to play. Tipsy has never played with the kids - she tolerates me and Angie, but you can tell, she isn't a lover of children.
Tipsy and Higgins sniffed and did the doggie greeting out on the porch. No issues. Tipsy is somewhat submissive and so is Higgins. It's been her house, but Higgins has her in the energy department. Tipsy has bared her teeth at Higgins a couple of times - she is defensive about her food and her kennel. She'll nip at Higgins before things are settled, I'm sure, but that just might be the end of the question as to who is in charge.
The truth be told, Higgins is VERY sweet and playful. He has a very nice personality. I'm just not too keen on walking a dog again (we let Tipsy out in our unfenced backyard, she always comes back). Higgins won't, so he needs a walk on a leash. Ultimately, as things get settled, I think he'll work out.
At least until the kids get bored and I get stuck with the responsibility.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I love this anti-Political Correctness stuff. The only danger is that when we don't care about HOW we give the message, we could be turning off those TO the message - and that would be wrong. We need to deliver it in a way that gives the best chance to be heard.
What I hate are the people involved with the game. All you have to do is look at Alex Rodriguez opting out of a $25M a year contract to get $27M a year. Now, he has since said that he is embarrassed by his behavior and that he's made a significant mistake - but I don't think he's giving the money back either.
Unless you've been living under a rock, than you are aware that the Mitchell Report was released last week. I've downloaded it, and have read some of it (it's over 400 pages). Additionally, I've listed to the several hours of press conferences from former Senator George Mitchell, the report author; Bud Selig, the Commissioner of baseball; and Donald Fehr, the President of the MLBPA (players union). My reaction, what a bunch of jerks.
The main issue of the report is that the players, baseball, the media, etc. are all complicit in the Steroid/Performance Enhancing Drug problem AND that the problem was widespread. My problem to this is that it doesn't tell us anything we don't know. Baseball has spent an estimated $60M on this report, and this is the result??? What a joke.
Then you have baseball, represented by Bud Selig. His reaction to the report is not personal ownership, but how this report is a step towards maintaining the "integrity of the game". My issue here is that baseball didn't seem to care about the integrity of the game when attendance was down in the 90's and everyone was talking about the ball being "juiced". I remember the conversations we had...more home runs were being hit because expansion diluted the quality of pitching and because manufacturing methods for the balls had changed (the ball was juiced). It seems, in retrospect, that the ball wasn't juiced, the players were. However, the result of this offensive outburst was fans and interest returning to the game that had been decimated by yet another work stoppage and players strike. The highlight of this interest was the Mark McGuire/Sammy Sosa chase of 61 home runs record. What a sham.
Then you have the players themselves (represented by the greasiest human being on the planet, Donald Fehr). His complaint in the report was that the union didn't have an opportunity to review the report prior to release. What he doesn't tell you is that the ONLY player who actually responded to a request for interview for the report was Jason Giambi, and the reason he did it was because he was being threatened with suspension if he didn't. It seems like Fehr was trying to position the players for the next collection bargaining session. What an ass.
Ultimately, I still love the game - I just hate the players even more. Imagine getting paid millions to play a game that I've paid a lot of money to play, myself. They should be thankful for the opportunity. However, it's those millions that help convince someone to cheat. I can almost understand a player cheating (taking Steroids) to make those millions. It's in that context that baseball's history needs to be taking into account. As long as there is winning and losing, there is cheating. Whether a spitball, corked bat, stolen signs, or a hypodermic full of testosterone, people will try to get an advantage.
Bob Costas has recently put it best...he stated that the record book should contain the provision stating that baseball records are very much continuous, but that they still need to be put into historical context; whether due to segregation, day/night games, expansion, or performance enhancement drugs, the game has always been changing and the records of the game need to be reviewed in light of these changes.
I'll keep rooting for the Mets, and keep looking for those players that exhibit true sportsmanship. Fortunately, there are still a few players out there.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It's snowing in the valley here in Salt Lake City, and it is absolutely beautiful. It started this afternoon and is still going. I drove home in it, but the roads were fine. Something about how people that get a lot of snow know how to live in a lot of snow. Apparently, the valley here has gotten about three feet over the last week. The mountains have received more.
And that's why license plates in Utah have the slogan, "Greatest Snow on Earth". It's a dry powder that has very little moisture. Makes for horrible snowballs, but GREAT skiing. If you haven't skied Utah snow, than you haven't skied.
It's been a perfect day to get me in the holiday spirit because dreaming of a white Christmas in Dallas is just too much to ask.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
1) Travel - I am soon to embark on week 3 of 4 for travel. I spent two weeks ago in Raleigh. Last week I was in silicon valley. This week is Salt Lake City, UT (can you say cold?). Next week I am in Orlando, FL (should be warmer). Work is very busy as we are in the midst of our vendor launch, but things are going very well.
2) Holidays - I have not been in the holiday spirit too much, probably because we have no money for it. We're trying to focus on what's important and church has been a blessing in that area. We had our annual holiday music service this last week, and the focus was on our work in Africa. The church hosted orphans from Worldhelp's International Children's Choir and they performed as part of the service. Really hit home about what Christmas really means.
3) Givedifferent and World Vision - if you are looking to also make a difference, check out GiveDifferent and WorldVision. GiveDifferent is our church's fundraising mechanism. The $60K we raise will go to digging wells and buying goats. WorldVision is a Christian charity that or church is partnered with to sponsor needy children. Our church has sponsored every child in the town of Katito, Kenya (over 500 children). Shameless plug: our small church is sponsoring more children in Africa than any other church in Texas and several other states in the south.
4) Kids - kids are doing well. Now seems to be a slow time, as there are no sports seasons going on. I think basketball starts soon, so the respite will be short-lived. Cassie is busy with scouts and has taken to school like a fish to water. She goes to school all day and then comes home and plays school. She becomes "Mrs. Blue" and is a real taskmaster. Marissa has acclimated to junior high school very well and is getting good grades. Dylan is getting very involved with the youth worship band at church (playing drums). Justin continues to do his thing at Pizza Hut and at community college. He awaits his Assistant Manager promotion.
5) Angie - Angie is doing well, even if she doesn't get to spend enough time with me. She is very busy with the Women's Events (WE) team at church and is busy help plan women's brunches and retreats. She completed her first semester at community college, taking a design class. She is very much thinking about returning to school to get a degree/certificate in Interior Design.
6) School - right now I am between semesters (the reason I am traveling so much). I got four A's this semester (three A's and an A+) and currently hold a 3.78 GPA. I've reconciled that my grades may suffer due to my travels, but that just didn't happen this semester. The fact is that I had four easy classes. The next two semesters won't be so easy, but I can finally start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I will complete 5 classes this semester (equivalent to full-time) and should only have a couple of more years left.
Monday, December 03, 2007
No, we aren't selling the house. We've gotten a smaller Christmas tree instead. Many of you understand that this is a monumental decision for me - and one that I wasn't convinced was the right decision - until last night.
For all but the first Christmases in the house, we've had a beautiful 12 foot tree up in the front room. Because we have an open ceiling in that room, the big tree always looked so beautiful. The problem with the big tree is that it is soooo big. I was stored in TWO large Christmas tree boxes and came in 5 parts. The real problem, though, was that it took at least a week for Angie and I to put it up. With 6000 tips to straighten it just took FOREVER. And, because it was so big and unwieldy, it caused considerable stress and the associated conflict when it was time to get it going.
Unfortunately, when it was up - it was beautiful. It had over 2000 lights and it was a really stunning tree that everyone commented on and one in which I took immense pride.
That pride is all gone as I look at our seven and a half footer. The good news - Angie and I put it up in less than two hours. Also, we can decorate it without a ladder. Most importantly, we bonded as we put it up. Both of us remember all the fighting that the other tree caused, and when we didn't fight with this one, we were greatful for it. The bad news - it looks pathetic.
Cassie saw it this morning and she said it looked great. If the other kids feel the same way, I'll have to let go of my pride. Besides, we are giving out big one to the church. At least I'll be able to enjoy it there.