Friday, March 31, 2006

Around the Horn

Trying to cover all the bases, here's what's going on at some other blog friends' houses:

Doug hasn't written a post in about a month -- how very Ken-like -- but his last one was good.

b's got a post on persecution that reminds me how easy we have it here and how we should think about how perilous is the plight of Christians living or working in other countries

codepoke's put out two posts, this one and this one, since we highlighted his awesome post on Jesus's statement "I thirst"

Thinklings had an interesting post on teenagers not sleeping enough

I loved imonk's Jesus = Salvation post and comments

And Todd R. at Beauty Out of Ugly Things has yet another great post, this one on Lent

I might add a couple more if and as I come across them, but all these are good ones if you're interested, so be interested!!!

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Wrecked Up

Yesterday afternoon as I went to pick my kids up from school, I was stopped waiting on a two lane road to turn left into the school's drve-thru. In my rearview mirror, I saw a white car slowing down behind me, and then I looked back at the two cars passing from the opposite direction.

Behind me, I heard THUD!

Looked into my rearview and saw the guy behind me sort of flop and his vehicle being plowed by a green car foward toward mine. I didn't have time to accelerate to avoid the accident before another BUMP -- a crash right into me. I have a pretty darned sturdy SUV, so the damage wasn't too bad on my vehicle. Both other cars had to be towed away. Everyone was alright, I should add.

The long and short of it was that a little sixteen year old kid who had just gotten his license two days ago -- at least from his words -- had his music playing too loud and wasn't paying attention. Later on, he mentioned something about his brakes not working too well, but mainly, the poor kid had his thoughts elsewhere, and we're all lucky no one was hurt too badly. In fact, with his airbags popping on, his bloody nose seemed to be the worst of it. The guy in the white car behind me said he blacked out for a second when first hit, but he was okay after that.

I called my wife, and after all the "Are you okays", "How did it happens?", and "Was it your faults?", she gave me the standard lines of not saying anything... all the stuff you're supposed to do at an accident for insurance purposes. And for the most part, I followed the advice.

But it occurs to me that all of that is hardly Christlike. I actually thought about that at the accident. And I was sort of torn. I told both guys that I was sure glad nobody was hurt, and then I let the kid borrow my cell phone to make a call or two. But anyone there would have hardly mixed me up with being Christ to the other guys. I was too wrapped up in what I should do for insurance purposes, the hassle that this wreck was going to cause, to make sure I pleased my wife with my actions, thinking about getting my kids before their school closed, and with my own introversion. I think I failed in this instance (as I do in most, maybe almost all, I guess), because I was pretty far from being like my Lord to the others involved.

Of course, I'm not altogether sure what exactly I should have done, but I know I could have shown more care than the aloofness I exhibited.

And all this comes on the heels of another member of The Realm -- I won't mention any names -- being involved in his own el accidente. But it's not my place to say anything about that. However, if bad things really do come in threes, then we've got one more on the way.

I wonder what it could be?

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dear, Dear You

Although a post like the one two below merits no more than a passing glance, after a cursory review, I've decided to draft a relatively brief response for the benefit of our dozen or so audience members.

Ultimately, and I think you'll agree, what makes a successful mutli-person blog are continuous, high-quality posts. By "continuous," I mean daily -- or every other day at the very least -- and hopefully more often than that. Perhaps it helps if they are published at regular intervals during the day, but the jury is still out on that. Then, by "high quality," I mean posts with substantive value. Sure, a few "social" or "activity-driven" posts can be tossed into the mix to engage the audience, but in the end, the majority of posts need to have explicit or implicit value (of some type or another) to the readership or else the blog is a virtual windbag.

On the count of "Successful Blogging," then, for whatever reasons, we are failing. Dissimilar to our novel and short story writing where we truly collaborate, our posts are written individually. Therefore, our audience receives my more prolific drivel on a continuous basis to attempt to keep a pulse beating in The Realm, while they experience your quality only when inspiration and free time align, which remains about as often as the planets aligning. So despite my attempts to resuscitate The Realm with literary hot air, the blog flatlines due to your frequent hiatuses. Because, let's face it, despite my Ken is not a nose-picker post attempting to draw attention to your absence, I'm fairly certain no one else actually noticed anything out of the ordinary for this blog. Obviously, no one mentioned it. You can peruse every comment for yourself. You'll find no, "Hey, where's Ken been?" or "I sure do miss Ken and so does this blog" comments anywhere under any post. And I'd have to reason that the cause of this disattention is that no one thought you were actually gone at all. They just figured you'd post your infrequent yet genius posts when you regularly do, which is to say, irregularly.

I'm not sure what's to be done about any of this, but I will say it's good to have you back. I guess I'll see you in a couple of weeks or a month from now when you post again.

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Opening Day Is Coming

September 7, 2006


May the cuter logo win!!!

Oh, did you think I was talking about baseball from the title?

Hey, waittaminnit, was that a Ken post below? Couldn't have been.

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Dear, Dear Me

I was going to start out with Mark Twain’s quote about his exaggerated demise, as it appears that this is the Standard Operating Procedure for returning bloggers after a lengthy hiatus as a lead-in to their plethora of excuses.

But after reviewing the recent history of the Realm, I decided that rather than apologize for my absence, I must instead take this opportunity to apologize for Rich’s presence. For the Realm has become a very depressing place, it seems. And I was dismayed to see that the polluted air caused by the smoldering fields of dead grass had already blotted out the sun.

While some of the somber mood can be attributed to the natural emotional letdown undoubtedly experienced by many of you who had grown accustomed to my poignancy and sterling wit, I’m afraid that the bulk of the blame must be laid squarely at the feet of Mr. Pearce. Or should I say, Mr. Gloomy Gus.

I am sure that many of you have been planning an Internet intervention. I only wish that things had not been allowed to deteriorate to this point. However, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not pointing fingers at you, the loyal readers. Heaven forbid. No, I poke the accusatory index digit with fervent repetition into the pasty puss of my well-intentioned, but clearly overwhelmed, fellow moderator.

For the leaves should not be responsible for making the wind blow. The echo should not be forced to begin the yodel. And though it only takes a spark to get the fire going, Kum-ba-yah is a different song entirely.

This is all to say… I’m sorry. Not for anything that I’ve done or not done, but sorry that a man with so very little to say, a man very much like Rich, has foisted his cry-for-help, his incessant nothingness, his diet web flatulence and self-loathings unchecked upon a readership that quite frankly deserves a tad bit better.

And I’ll make you this money-back guarantee. It may take time, lots of time, in fact you may not see tangible results in your lifetime, but my promise to you is unswerving. And I’ll see it through to the end. You have my word on this.

It’s good to be back.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

One of Four

Just pick your favorite or one you like out of each of the list of fours below and put your choices in the comments --

Go Gos songs: 1) We Got the Beat; 2) Our Lips Are Sealed; 3) Vacation; 4) Head Over Heels

Gospels: 1) Matthew; 2) Mark; 3) Luke; 4) John

Season: 1) Spring; 2) Summer; 3) Autumn; 4) Winter

Teen Titan sans Robin: 1) Starfire; 2) Beast Boy; 3) Cyborg; 4) Raven

Old West Outlaw: 1) Jessie James; 2) Billy the Kid; 3) Doc Holliday; 4) Butch Cassidy

Old West Hero: 1) Wyatt Earp; 2) Davy Crockett; 3) Buffalo Bill Cody; 4) Will Bill Hickcock

Classic Rock Frontman: 1) Mick Jagger; 2) Roger Daltrey; 3) Robert Plant; 4) Ray Davies

Biblical Name Starting w/ "J" Not Jesus: 1) James; 2) Jeremiah; 3) John; 4) Joseph

Active Non-English Language: 1) Spanish; 2) French; 3) German; 4) Russian

Popular Modern U.S. Presidents: 1) FDR; 2) JFK; 3) RWR; 4) WJC

Popular Foundation U.S. Presidents: 1) Washington; 2) Jefferson; 3) Jackson; 4) Lincoln

Explorers: 1) Marco Polo; 2) Magellan; 3) Columbus; 4) Cabot

Middle Earth Beings: 1) Dwarves; 2) Elves; 3) Ents; 4) Wizards (Istari)

Action Heroes: 1) Arnold; 2) Bruce Willis; 3) Sean Connery; 4) Van Damme

Grisham Books to Movies: 1) A Time to Kill; 2) The Firm; 3) The Pelican Brief; 4) The Client

Food/Candy Rockers: 1) Red Hot Chili Peppers; 2) Lemonheads; 3) Goo Goo Dolls; 4) Smashing Pumpkins

Sci Fi Monsters: 1) Predator; 2) Species; 3) Alien; 4) Martians (from WOTW)

Bible Version Read Most: 1) KJV; 2) NIV; 3) NASV; 4) Paraphrased

Discount Shopping: 1) Sears; 2) JC Penneys; 3) Wal-Mart; 4) Target

Final Four: 1) LSU; 2) UCLA; 3) George Mason; 4) Florida

I'll put my picks in the comments. You do the same!

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It Could Be a Lot Worse - SQOTW

Another excellent series of lines in yet another cool song from the Vigilantes of Love.

faith she's a whistling train
running hard in the dark
and hope is like a thing untamed
gonna lay to waste your heart
love's a little bit of God

there for all to know
love's the everlasting arms
that never do let go

this is dangerous terrain
we're attempting to traverse
it's a crying shame
but it could be a lot worse

-- It Could Be a Lot Worse, VOL from the Live at the 40 Watt CD

I love the metaphors (and simile) that go with the Big 3 from the Love Chapter in 1st Corinthians. They're so fitting. We live in a world of darkness where there's only so much you can hold on to that's real and that will last.

Come and get it, here in the good ol' U.S. of A., we gotcher dressed for success, anything to achieve, ambition and greed that'll win you all yer lusts and make you ferget yer vanities at least until the next one comes rollin' down the pike and all fer the low, low price of yer single heart. That's right. You look good, then you feel good, and you play hard or work hard, take yer choice. It can all be yer's.

It is dangerous terrain. If it's not getting sucked into the culture until the proverbial point of no return, there's a world of depression that can leave you in grief for merely a lifetime. The old adage "misery loves company" isn't far from the truth, especially if you're the demon called Misery. And yeah, the sun shines and the sky is blue but you're fooling yourself if you don't think the darkness is all around and usually no more than a wrong step away.

What do we do then? We hold onto Christ with a faith that rumbles over and through those hard times, with that Headlight that leads us through the night. Trials and the pitfalls of life are going to come. We'll all experience death and loss, failure, sickness, unfairness, temptation and sin. And whether we stand or fall, faith carries us through and keeps us going. We keep believing in Him and believing in Him. Through the questions. Through the grief. Through the high times and the low. Holding on. Running hard in the dark.

Then, there's hope. Always looking for better with the confidence that what's wished for will come. Sometimes those hopes fail us and bring us to the end of our ropes. It really can lay our hearts to waste. Then, we hope some more. Our hope, hand-in-hand with our faith, tells us there's something better at the end of the track. Hope squints its eyes in the looking, but re-opens them quickly so it doesn't miss the good that's nearby, either.We hope for the small things and the great with the Eternal Hope within our hearts. And one day...

Lastly, there's love. A little bit of God there for all to know. What a beautiful sentiment! Although love is not God, God is love. What a privilege that we can know and share that love. And how comforting that even when our hope and our faith fail us (or when they don't), God still loves us. HE LOVES US!!! With a love that's so unyielding, loyal, and steadfast that nothing can change or move it. Not even our unworthy selves. Everlasting arms that NEVER... do... let... go.

With our sin and our selfishness and our idolatry, it is a crying shame. Each of us can honestly say that we made it necessary for Christ to go to the Cross. For blame, we can look no farther than our own skin. My own skin. I guess it can be argued, but from my way of thinking, God didn't have to send His son. By the virtuelessness of our sin, we don't deserve the love. Or the hope. Which would mean there'd be no use for the faith. But God did love us. So much He sent himself to be clothed in human skin, to live a life of total Godly obedience, and then to die unjustly on a Cross to take on all the holy wrath that was stored for the children of sin. Yeah, it's a crying shame, but it could be a whole, whole lot worse. Thank God that it's not.

For God so loved the world...

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Long Overdue

While I've mentioned codepoke's blog in a couple of our posts, I've never highlighted it, I don't believe. Well, here's a belated first in remedying that ill. Go and read some of his posts. Always thought out. He's more than courteous with all his commenters. Just a pleasure to read.

codepoke writes:
I have been given the opportunity to share 5 minutes on Jesus' 6th word from the cross, "I thirst."

For me to try and rewrite all the jewels in his post, I just have to copy the whole thing. He interweaves Scripture and his thoughts so well. So PLEASE go to the blog (The Familyhood Church) and read, "My Good Friday Assignment - I Thirst" for yourself.

Then, you'll be doing yourself a favor if you scroll down and read a lot of his other posts. Or drift into his archives. It's all good.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

From Despair, Inc.

I caught these demotivators from a post at the BHT and thought they were great. Hat tip to Rachel over there. They're calendar fronts, I believe. Hilarious. Some of my favs (but you really have to see the pics that go with them - so click on the link):

Consulting: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

Delusions: There is no greater joy than soaring high on the wings of your dreams, except maybe the joy of watching a dreamer who has nowhere to land but in the ocean of reality.

Discovery: A company that will go to the ends of the Earth for its people will find it can hire them for about 10% of the cost of Americans.

Doubt: In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.

Dysfunction: The only consistent feature in all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.

Incompetence: When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do.

Indifference: It takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile, but it doesn't take any to just sit there with a dumb look on your face.

Regret: It hurts to admit when you make mistakes - but when they're big enough, the pain only lasts a second.

Wishes: When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

Profound pessimism at its best. What are some of your favorites?

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Three Flicks, Two Pics

Over the last couple of weekends, my wife and I have seen these three movies: Walk the Line, Flightplan, and Pride & Prejudice. That's right! I finally saw P&P. Brief thoughts:

Walk the Line: Good movie. I'm still amazed that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon did all their own singing in the movie, and both lead actor and actress did fabulous jobs. Also, since I wasn't aware of a lot the Cash music history, it was fun to see Elvis and The Killer alive and doing well in the movie. Would have been nice to see a bit more of God's influence in Johnny's turnaround, which I think is accurate, but I still really liked the movie. The big bonus is now I can walk around the house and annoy my wife and kids rasping in my best bass voice, "Hi. I'm Johnny Cash." So that's priceless.

Flightplan: I didn't go into this movie expecting very much except a good performance from Jodie Foster, but I was pleasantly surprised. While I thought there were a few plot quirks, the movie had enough to keep you going -- and another plus for the movie was, really, I can't remember much bad language or anything gratuitous, just a couple of semi-violent scenes with Foster throwing punches around. I have no idea what it was rated, but I'd be surprised if it was over PG. My wife and I both gave it a thumb's up, for what it's worth.

Pride & Prejudice: We've had some discussion on this blog before regarding this movie, so I'll tread with caution. Nah, just kidding. I enjoyed the movie a lot, although it seemed to wrap up a little quicker than the A&E version I watched some years ago. I guess I wish it would have drawn out a bit longer. If nothing else, Keira Knightly was fantastic as Elizabeth Bennett. I've pretty much enjoyed all the Jane Austen movies that have come to the cinematic theater: Sense & Sensibility and Emma, and this one fell in line with the quality of those. I've gotta say, though, after about half the movie, I'd had enough of the mother's cackling. I know that's one of the points of the movie, but man oh man. Also, I thought Donald Sutherland did a fine job as Mr. Bennett. Not too sure on the casting of Darcy and Bingley, but they were adequate. Also, I'm ignorant, I know, but what the heck is 5,000 a year and 10,000 a year? I've always heard you don't get rich by your income, it's usually by investments, saving, etc., but apparently, 10,000 a year gets your ceiling painted like the Sistine Chapel, gives you a museum of Bernini and Michaelangelo-like sculptures, and a castle that competes with Arthur's Camelot. Can somebody please translate 10,000 a year to American dollars for me? Thanks.

In the end, I'd probably put P&P and Walk the Line as equals and a notch above Flightplan, but I would have thought going in that it wouldn't have been close to the other two. However, no matter what else I've said, it was really a pretty darned good movie watching week at the Pearce household.

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Just in Case...

...people are thinking Ken's picking his nose rather than posting to the blog, I can attest to the fact that it is not true.

First of all, you might remember one of my posts a while back on being time-crunched. Well, Ken has run into a nearly identical crunch, but his comes with even more stress. Fortuantely or unfortunately for our reading audience (you can be your own judge there), Ken is a little more discreet about his personal matters and doesn't blab them out over a blog that potentially the whole computerized world could read (but doesn't). Similarly, he probably doesn't feel the need to apologize for his absence as it cannot be helped. He'll post when he can, and those posts will be what make up the backbone of The Realm of Possibility.

Then, in my experience with Ken, I haven't found him to be much of a nose-picker at all. Granted, Ken can certainly do a great many things that bug the stew out of me (although that number certainly pales in the number of things that I can do that annoy Ken -- this post no doubt being a prime example), but nose-picking wasn't atop that list. I'm sure there are those that read this blog that can confirm or deny this statement, but the point is -- Ken is not picking his nose to get out of blogging. He's just not.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Classic Video Game Rank 'Em

Best to worst or worst to best, you rank these games. And if I left some favs out, just slide 'em into your rankings. I purposely left out some similar ones (i.e Space Invaders and Galaxians which are a lot like Galaga and Pacman which is like Ms. Pacman) and included the one I thought was the best of like games. You don't have to do all of them; just rank the ones you know.

Ms. Pacman
Donkey Kong
Missile Command
Dig Dug
Wizard of Wor

Do your best and have a BLAST!!! :)

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I Got the Beat

Last night, just for the fun of it, I bought a couple of discounted greatest hits CDs. A couple blasts from the past. Electric Light Orchestra and The Go Gos. Now, every once in a while (geek that I am), I'm closing the door and doing a little jig here in the office. I needed to do something to help with all the depressing things that have been going on around here lately.

Which means, if any of you step outside and hear a reeeeeeeeeeally bad voice crooning Can't Get it Out of My Head or Our Lips Are Sealed, it's not a dying cow. It's coming from Huntsville, Alabama, and it's me.

All apologies, but I probably ain't stoppin'.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Winning, Sportsmanship, Losing - In That Order

In days gone by, I played in some very competitive basketball leagues, and I'd play pick-up in places where you lose you may as well go home because the wait wasn't worth it and neither was the hazing you took on the bench. Some of these places, it wasn't out of the question that some guy might come back with a gun after he felt cheated. In the past few years, I've toned it down, and my ankles and my game have sort of dwindled to a shell of its former "glory." Now, I'm at the point where it's okay for me to just go play at the Christian Life Center amongst guys with whom I go to church.

Nonetheless, I still can't get the its "win-or-nothing" feeling out of my system. I know that's not a Christian sentiment. I have generally tried to reflect God through honesty and sportsmanship on the court - not always, mind you, but I do most of the time when I go out to play - however, I never have and can't see the day that I will go out to play just to play. Some people probably will feel sorry for me with an attitude like that, but I'd prefer you to keep your sympathy.

I remember so many guys in the past that have made statements while we're playing like "we're just out here to get a sweat going" or "I'm just playing for fun" or "you and me, we're just trying to get in shape." Speak for yourself, fellas. Maybe they'd target me because I was the only other white guy out there. I don't know. But whenever someone says that kind of stuff, I'm thinking, "I sure hope you're playing on a different team from me" or, really, "why don't you take your act to the B-Court down the road?" I've really never walked onto a court thinking I'm going to lose, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary (i.e. the multitude of losses I've sustained throughout my playing days). And I've never just played for "fun," "getting in shape," or to take pounds off by sweating. No. They keep score. So I play to win.

Now, in all of this, I don't think I'm necessarily right. The weird thing is, as a coach and parent for my kids, I really don't care that much at all if they win or lose. At their ages (7 and 5), I worry much more about my boys'/teams' development than I do about what the score is. The kids are a little different, and that's fine. They want to win, and I don't begrudge them that, because as a player, I'm just like them. But for my kids, I try to explain and explain that it's about giving your best and leaving it all on the field. And deep down, I really believe that. For them.

Because, oh hypocrite that I am, if I give my best and I lose in a basketball game, it's not alright. It's not even close to alright. I know that I know that I could have done something else, something different, even if not better, to help my team win.

It may please you to hear, I am working on my attitude, though, in other areas than basketball. If I'm playing Taboo or Pictionary or even Life, I don't HAVE to win anymore to enjoy the game. I haven't played the non-sport that is softball in a long while, but I'd imagine that I wouldn't HAVE to win at that to have a good time with they guys anymore.

But that's the way it's been for me -- win first, then sportsmanship, and if you lose, it's crapola -- since I've been, oh, about eleven. Can anyone empathize, or am I just waaaaaaay out there with American culture and "the World" with this one?

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Yesterday, Tuesday the 21st, a really good friend here at work got called to the hospital. Her husband had been feeling a little weak, so he had gone in for a doctor's appointment. They took some blood tests, and his - I'm not sure if it was white or red - blood cell count was down. They admitted him in the hospital for tests and gave him platelets. Tests came back, and the doctors are 95% sure it's leukemia. He's in his mid-forties, is a really great guy (is a high school P.E. teacher, popular in the community, and has been the head basketball coach of the HS), and his family is awesome.

It's amazing to me how Monday, everything was fun here at work. We joke around here all the time. Yeah, we've got deadlines (a huge one today as a matter of fact), but the people that work at my company are pretty resilient. So Monday was great, and Tuesday started off the same way. By Tuesday afternoon, things were grim. And who knew? I guess we never know what's going on inside our bodies.

Reminds me of a story another of my co-workers related to me less than a year ago. One of his good friends was the picture of health. Big volleyball player. Loved sports. Ran. Was always active. One day she just didn't feel right, so she went into the doctor. Turns out, she was in Stage 4 - what's the word? - ovicular? - anyway Stage 4 cancer of the ovaries. The point at which the doctors saw her, anything they could do was too late. Within a month, she had died.

Stuff like this just riddles me.

I know two posts ago, I wondered and am still wondering about all the prayer requests that I get. It also makes me think about those I ask people to pray for. I'll just say, for anyone who might, please pray for my friend's husband. He's starting chemo almost immediately and will be in the hospital for at least 30 days - probably since his cell count is down, that's to keep him away from any internal infections that his body may not be able to fight off very well. So he's beginning a new journey, hopefully one of recovery and renewal. I'll pray for that.

Anyways, next post, I'll try to bring the spirits up here a bit. Seems like The Realm hasn't been so light-hearted and fun lately. Guess we're in that valley of life's rollercoaster, but it's gonna go back up, I just know it.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hat in Hand - SQOTW

Limited time once again, but I'll write what I can. Despite the lack of "commenting" interest I get on my Bill Mallonee song quotes of the week posts, somehow I really do feel you guys/gals brimming with internal reverence with each one (wink, wink). So I trudge onward with lyrics from this little baby:

run fast after everything
and that's just what you'll miss
live your life opened armed
or with a clenched fist
dirt lot kids doing dirt lot deeds

way too much living in the minor key
burn all these sins in a Love so grand
shuffle forward your hat in hand

-- Hat in Hand, Vigilantes of Love from the Electromeo EP

For me, the "dirt lot kids doing dirt lot deeds" line reminds me in many ways of the Ants Marching picture I get from the once-popular Dave Matthews tune. It's a topside view of the human race basically doing what we do, most of it not being so good - and I mean that from an original intent point of view.

What happens in the dirt lot? Well, there's a lot of seeking for self and fighting for your own. Each of us have our own models of what will make us successful, so dun-dun-dun-dun CHARGE!!! We go after it all, which reminds me of a lyric from another song from yet a different band - the 77s The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life: "I'll go to any length, sacrifice all that I have and all that I might get, just to get something more that I don't need... and Lord, please don't ask me what for." So that's what we do - we run after everything. In doing so, we miss all the things that are really important. To bring up one last song, it's The Cat's in the Cradle syndrome. And more than just the times we're negligent as parents like in that song, how many times do we miss Christ when He's asking for a drink of water? i don't know about you, but for me, it's probably countless.

But for all these times we miss the mark because we so loved ourselves, God still provided. He went to the Cross for each one of us. When Bill sings the "burn all these sins, in a LOVE so grand," I get chill bumps almost every time I listen (if I'm really listening). Because I am a dirt lot kid, and I do dirt lot deeds. Yet, Jesus still loved me. He still died for me. Open-armed, on the cross. If He did that for me, I need to do my level-best to live open-armed for Him and for others.

When I think that's a lot to ask from me, I need to remember how much it was for the living God to ask of Himself.

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Legitimate Non-Biblical Question # 1

For those out there that pray, how do you deal with prayer requests?
Here's what I mean: I'm sure we all have requests of God regarding ourselves. We also pray for our immediate families (spouses, children, parents), and then, too, our extended families. Then, you have prayer requests from close friends and sometimes not-so-close friends that you pray for. Of course, we're to pray for our churches, our Sunday Schools, our missionaries, our country, our leaders, etc. And that's all before you go to church and your big group class has a dozen more requests, your small group has requests, your Sunday night Bible Study has requests, and if you go on Wednesdays or other days, you hear more requests there. Our church, which is relatively large, also has a Christian sympathy list so we can pray for people in our church whose loved ones die. Also, our Adult 1, 2, and 3 e-mails are all hooked so that we receive prayer requests during the week. Wheeeeeeeew.

I know I sound like an ingrate, but truly, just in my church and Sunday School class(es), there's more requests than for what I can consistently pray. Some of the answers to this that I've encountered --

1) Our Sunday School in Adult 1 had a prayer book, where our class would write down requests and add to them each week. Every Sunday, a couple would take home that book and pray over each request in it all seven days of the week (if they could but that was the responsibility for accepting it).

2) Shoot a mini-prayer up for every request you hear

3) According to John Ortberg in his book, The Life You've Always Wanted, he tended to advocate a prayer list that I thought was reasonable, which was, at least at first, pray only for those requests near to your heart. Basically, pray about the ones you really care about. I may be missing that a little as it's been a while since I've read it, but I think that's close.

4) Keep lists and supplicate by those lists

For me, and I know everyone is different, all of these are worthy and noble if you can manage, but I'll be honest. I have a hard time even managing any one of these. At our church, a lot of people throw around the term "prayer warriors" and probably justifiably so for a lot of people in our church. I'm not one. Most of the time, if somebody asks me directly to pray for someone else, I will. And most of the time, if I say I'll pray for someone I do. The rest of the time I'm a liar, which isn't a good thing but it's my thing. But I'll readily admit, prayer isn't the easiest thing for me to be disciplined about. I do have that somewhat constant walking and talking to the Lord as I'm going through the day, which doesn't really start or end, but what I'm really talking about here is prayer where you're sacrificing your time to pray for others about specific requests.

My question is pretty basic, and I asked it at the top. How do you handle all the prayer requests you hear? Do you try to pray for them all? The portion of them that really move you because of emotional attachments? It's always interesting and enlightening to discover how other people overcome the problems I have.

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Monday, March 20, 2006


Oh by the way, I've been married to Brenda 13 years as of today. Lucky 13? Unlucky 13? Bah! Neither. Tonight when we go out to celebrate (as I miss "24" although we'll tape it just the same), I'll drink to 13 more better than these last, and 13 years from now, I'm toasting to 26 more years better than the first 26.

Happy Anniversary To Us!!!

Anything else of note happening today or has happened in history on March 20th?

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Just wondering what other people who visit our site like to read over the Net. If you're so inclined -- and for the benefit of others here who might like to know some other good blogs -- what are some other worthy blogs (or web sites) out there that you either really like to read or else you think would be worth it for other people to at least visit. You don't have to be a commenter at the site you enjoy to list it (although you would have to comment here for us to know). You just have to think it's worthy of attention. As always, please feel free (or not) to tell us why.

Obviously, we have several linked over on our side bar and there are a couple I've linked to in posts before, but there are definitely a few others I enjoy. I'll list mine in the comments like anyone else who wants to plug another blog. And, of course, you're free to plug your own.

If you know of some great blogs, don't hide 'em under a lamp shade, shine their light so we all can know!!!

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Know Your Shakespeare #3

'Tis once again time to get your Shakespeare on.

Name the Shakespearian play which this scene comes from.

Bonus points will also be added to your Realm account for correctly identifying the name of the character at the front of the line.

Answers on Tuesday. And, as always, please no wagering.

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Livin' In a Fantasy

The Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball League I'm in, held their annual draft the other day. It was a serpentine draft, and I think I did pretty well. I focused on positional scarcity, picked up a few studs, and then waited until the later rounds for my sleepers. I participated in a couple of mocks this year, and I believe that helped me manage to limit myself to light sleepers. They've done away with the hold category this year, and in a head-to-head league that's for the best, though we still need to get closer to 5x5. This is my third year to participate, and the commisioner has done a better job each year, but I still wish we had keepers.

If you don't know what I just said in the paragraph above (or don't care), then apparently you're not obsessed with the difference between OPS and Total Bases, who's on the closer hot seat, and whether Lyle Overbay has a hangnail either. And that probably means you aren't a fantasy baseball owner. But did you know that you are quickly becoming a minority?

Of course, if baseball is not your thing, a quick trip to the fantasy league pages around the web at Yahoo!, the Sporting News, CBS Sportsline, ESPN, or any of the myriad periphery advice and insiderpages like RotoTimes, you'll quickly find that there is always football, basketball, hockey, golf, and even... GASP!... auto racing.

You can also visit your local bookstore and find no less than a dozen different fantasy preview/advice magazines at $7-8 apiece to get you started on your way.

But I'm not a sports fan, you say. Well, it seems from testimonials that it really doesn't matter. It's more about maneuvering inside the fantasy world, knowing something the other guy doesn't know that makes you smarter, and the addictive need to win. There have even been articles written on fantasy etiquette. What to do when someone ticks you off inside the fantasy world, how to handle fantasy situations with grace, etc.

I could write more about the mentality that drives grown people to participate in a pretend game over the internet with other people that they've never met... but maybe you other bloggers already understand this thought process. :)

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

All-time Skating Rink Songs

I'm 38 years old. If anyone's close to that age, especially in colder weather climates (I lived in Colorado when I was 9-17 years old), maybe you did what we did when I was young. It was snowy and cold outside, so if we weren't shoveling snow, having snowball fights, or sledding then we were doing something indoors. Roller skating was Youth Activity # 1. I was never more than an okay skater but good enough to pass for competent. I was at least good enough that when the "Snow Ball" came -- where a slow song would play, and all the girls would line up on one end and the guys on the other, and then the guys (usually the guys) would skate across and ask a girl to skate with him -- I wasn't apt to be hit with a liability suit for helping a girl crash, cartwheel, and somersault landing wrong and breaking her neck. I could generally skate around the rink without falling, even holding a girl's hand. Yea me, right?

At the skating rink, songs that might have been cheesy elsewhere were really the fashion. If memory serves me correct, they weren't only the fashion, but they were cool.

The top five skating rink songs of my era, at least to me, were:

5) (tie) Waiting for a Girl Like You (Foreigner) / Whip It (Devo)
4) Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)
3) Angel Is a Centerfold (J. Geils Band)
2) YMCA (Village People)
1) Hot Blooded (Foreigner)

Some honorable mentions: Everybody's Working for the Weekend (Loverboy), Another One Bites the Dust (Queen), and No One Is to Blame (Howard Jones). Oh! And I shouldn't leave out (Peaches & Herb's) Reunited.

Nowadays, I've been with my kids and I suppose the only song I really remember is Avril Lavigne's Skater Boy. Maybe you guys can help me out with the modern songs since I'm clueless there.

So! What are your favorite skating rink songs? And what am I missing?

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

That Light at the End of the Tunnel That I Was Running Toward

Turned out to be a steam engine that pancaked me. I have to say: my job is taking its toll -- not that I'd want to work elsewhere, but I'm just not getting much of a break for blogging. Nights are: t-ball practice on Monday, Tuesday machine pitch baseball which I help coach (and I play basketball afterward), Wednesday is soccer practice, Thursday is baseball again, and Friday are soccer games. We also have batting practice on Saturday, and that's when t-ball games will be. Once baseball games start, those will be weekdays as well (practices will decrease then, thankfully). Sunday School, church, Bible study and AWANAs on Sunday. Throw in housecleaning, lawn and outdoor care, bill paying, grocery shopping, any family time, and walks -- and the busy-ness just doesn't seem to end. Can somebody throw me a rope here? I'm looking for a rescue... or a noose.

The excuses, however, must be wearing thin, so I'll try to stop making them after this and just post when I can. Even when you can't seem to see much, you find time. For me, that's time for God, writing, blogging, basketball, and mental health. But the other thing you need, generally, to write good posts (or novel/short story writing) is focus, and that's hard with the time crunch. Usually, I resort to wimpy or content-less posts, which I figure are better than nothing... but probably only slightly. They do seem to keep you in touch with people out there in the blogsphere to a degree. So every once in a while, you can expect a "What's Your Favorite Dessert" kind of post that I'm notorious for.

Fortunately, Ken's posts have pretty good content most of the time, so you can always look forward to those. Additionally, they come out fairly routinely, although probably not as often as either of us would like. However, that also gives him time to add something with content so that people actually enjoy coming to our blog. Which, in the end, is what it's for. Well, that and for us to enjoy as well.

Penultimately, there are also some personal issues to overcome, and I'd appreciate any generic "prayer for Rich" that you might send up to the Lord. He knows. Thanks in advance. And I also wanted to say to all you other bloggers out there that come around ours -- THANKS!!! -- I enjoy reading your blogs, and if I haven't got to them yet, I bet I will at some point.

And the last thing: rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Break in the Action to Say This:

Is this the man to lead my favorite football team?

I think not.

Oh, Nick Saban, what hast thou done?

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Offer - SQOTW

If I had to list a Top Ten Favorites of Bill Mallonee, this song would be in it. No question, it's one of my favorite songs of all time by any artist. I just love the lyrics despite the cliches that abound within (which I know makes some people hate it, but not me), and the pop tempo and beat mixed with a little Americana rolls the tune right down my alley for a strike. The song's title is Offer, and it's from the Vigilantes of Love Blister Soul CD. It's also on the Live From the 40 Watt CD.

The first verse:
they were making available the dreams of the past
for a limited time while the supply lasts
i got in line and i gave the man my cash
yeah i was buying fake diamonds,
buying fools gold
and i keep them in a sack shot full of holes
in this land of plenty with an empty soul

The buying fake diamonds and fools gold and keeping 'em in a sack shot full of holes... well, that just seems like what a lot of my life has been like. From childhood until the present, how many times over and over do I go through little fads of things I want that I think will make me happy? So, so many. Worse, I feel like I won't be satisfied without them. And I'm not just talking about materialistic trinkets, collectables, clothes, games, or whatnot, but I've gone through phases where politics, sports, music and good times have been my household idols as well. It's ridiculous, really, when I think about all the useless junk that I use to occupy so much of my time because I think that will make me happy or important or better or contented. The world wraps its little treasures in pretty bows and sell it to me on TV, on billboards, in movies, people talk about them at work, it's on the Net, it's everywhere, and I grab for it all and let it slip like sand through my fingers because it only lasts a short, short time. Woe to me until I can see what's real.

The next verse starts the turnaround:

from parting shots to parting the seas
from stabs in the back to turning the cheek
opening cells and throwing away the key

Here, we go from where I was to Biblical proclamations. Instead of returning evil for evil, there's a cheek to be turned. And the freedom found only in Christ. The chorus rings out with the grace of God and states that there is nothing that is too much for Him to overcome. Nothing He's made, and nothing inside you.

no mountain too high, there's no ocean too deep
no castle too strong, there's no lock that'll keep
no river too wide, there's no desert too broad
no stone you can't break, no heart that's too hard

The climax of the song is the beautiful last verse that expresses just who Jesus is so well and his "offer".

you're the judge and you're the law
the criminal in place of us all
father and mother sister and brother and friend
you say give me your sickness give me your pain

your empty cup and i'll fill it again
why on earth are you digging your own grave?

I think I'll take it.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

From Madness to Sagedom

Behold! What you most likely cannot read above is the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship bracket. I'm sure many of you will be playing in your own office pools - for entertainment purposes only, I'm quite aware - but it's not like these games won't be being played within the Realm, now is it?

Yet here, alas, we may only pick for bragging rights. HOWEVER, we can still play, and the winner shall aptly be referred to as the REALM SAGE.

It's too much, probably, to ask to fill out a whole bracket, but how about noting your Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, Championship Game pairing, and ultimate Champion in the comments. You'll probably have to get an actual readable bracket off the Net or in a news rag.

For scoring, each team you name that has reached the Sweet 16, you get a point. Two points for those in the Elite 8, four points for each correct Final Four participant you name, eight points for any of the two you pick in the Championship and twelve points for the Champion.

All entries, of course, will have to be in prior to Thursday before the first games (besides the play-in game tomorrow) tip off. And just so you know, and you probably do realize, I'm laying my own title on the line here as the REALM SAGE. Of course, I don't think I'm in any danger of losing it as I'm sure I'll have the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and the rest of them picked perfectly.

As always, trash talking is welcome... to a degree. Good luck in your -- for entertainment purposes only -- bracket contests outside of the Realm as well (unless you're in one of the same pools, er, I mean contests, that I am).

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Alien Zombie War World

This weekend, which was so excellent - in the 70s, breezy, shorts weather - that I could have just camped outside the whole two days and three nights long, I took the time on Saturday to play with my younger son (who turned five years old March 6, btw) at his level. My older son was playing, too, but if he'd had his druthers we'd have been playing some sport or contest. I think I've mentioned several times, my younger loves his imaginary worlds, usually pirates and Peter Pan. In the same breath, I've probably written that it's hard for me to just play in those imaginary worlds for hours at a time.

Anyway, Saturday it was Alien Zombie War World. My older son had arranged the way this world was working. Aliens had attacked our world and they had some mechanism to bring themselves back to life once dead, and after that, they could only be killed in one way - to take them to the Earth's core. Meanwhile, the aliens were wreaking havoc with their undead counterparts all over the world, and we were part of the last vestiges of the former world trying to save what was left. At first, my sons wanted to be robots, but when I joined in, I told them I wanted to be part of humanity. All of a sudden, my younger, "Agent 2" wanted to be a cyborg. "Agent 1," my older son just wanted to be in charge. That was cool with me.

I told him, okay, if you're in charge, then I want to be the toughest guy. Waaaaay-eeeeellllll, that started a fight. He wanted to be the toughest. I said, okay, then, I'm in charge. That was fine with him. Agent 2, meanwhile, got to be the special ops agent who was our "stealth" man. All that was great... until we started playing.

But before we did, I named myself, the leader, Bork. I called Agent 1: Hamilton and Agent 2 (the cyborg): Schaeff (short for Schaeffer). It was time for a mission. Before they went, however, we all armed ourselves with pirate swords, naturally, as pirate swords are the most effective weapon against alien zombies. Then, I sent Hamilton (who informed me that he was the only one who could take the alien zombies to the core) and Schaeff to the alien stronghold to steal their maindrive computer disk. They'd bring it back, we'd plant it with a virus, and then they'd go on Mission 2 to reinstall it and therefore corrupt the main computers of the aliens, thereby rendering them effectually without communication.

They started out on the mission, but I wanted them to report back. That little detail irked Hamilton, who wanted no part of me, Bork, being in charge. I had empowered him, and now he was the leader. Since I'm about as mature as my two kids, I argued, with an explanation that he was like the quarterback, and I was the coach. I still called the plays; he just ran them. He ended up stomping the ground and shouting, "BUT THIS ISN'T FOOTBALL!!!" For him, it was worth making it a knock-down drag-out that ended up with him pouting in the playhouse alone. So Schaeff ran the mission by himself. And guess what? Even without Hamilton, we completed the mission about thirty minutes later.

Eventually, Hamilton came back out and led the alien zombies to the Earth's core, but then he mutinied, and we all ended up fighting each other.

We did all this while I was watching my daughter, who crawled around outside on a sleeping bag and played with toys the whole time. Aside from arguing with my older boy over and over, it ended up being a really good time and special for my younger boy.

In fact, the next day, he wanted to play it all over again. Sunday after church when we went outside again, he excitedly asked, "Dad, can we play that game again with the aliens, and where your name is Dork?"

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

One Potato, Two Potato…

Ran across this article about a recent “Rock, Paper, Scissors” game. (‘Course we called it Paper, Rock, Scissors), and it got me thinking, which is always a dangerous proposition.

In our neighborhood growing up, all us kids spent as much time as possible roaming around in the great outdoors. There were seldom any pre-arrangements by phone, few organized play dates, and besides Little League, no formal, adult-led activities. We just played.

"Hey, Mom. I’m going out to play!!"

No destination given, no time estimate, and no description of our intended pastime. Times were simpler then. But truth is, we didn’t know, anyway. You might find us in any backyard, frontyard, vacant lot, street, or the woods that ran behind the neighborhood houses.

If you could find any of the other guys, and generally you could with the shrill, shriek-like signal (which sounded something like a strangled rooster who’d been sucking helium out of a balloon) that we used, you played until it was too dark to see anymore.

And the games? Well, there was no shortage of Nerf football, baseball variations with tennis balls, wiffle balls, paper and tape balls, etc, driveway basketball, and even street hockey. But when nobody was in the mood for any of these more traditional games, it fell to me as the oldest (or maybe I just took over) to suggest some less familiar activity or invent something entirely new.

Some of these games never had names. Some of them had obtuse names like Piggy, Pickle, and 32. And some of them were just descriptions like "one guy gets a Frisbee and the other guy gets a basketball and we count to three and then throw them over the house at the same time and the first guy who catches three in a row…" Well, you get the point.

But coming up with games could be a lot of pressure, too. And so, through word of mouth, school library research, and the occasional TV program like Vic’s Vacant Lot, I attempted to collect a bag of games to have at the ready.

I hadn’t thought of many of these in quite some time, but found many listed at Games Kids Play. I’m sure many of you were kids once and have similar remembrances of classic games like kickball, dodgeball, Red Rover, Pitch-Up and Smear (sometimes known by other names), and others described at the link.

But just in case I get called upon once again to entertain the neighborhood kids with a new game, let me have the rules to your favorites, especially if they were unique to your old gang.

BTW, me and a few guys are thinking about getting up a kickball league. And we’re doing away with the maddening boy-girl-boy-girl rule that Mrs. Orme made us play by in P.E. class. Let me know if you’re interested in playing.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Now This Guy Was Trying

I'm sure most of you have heard the quote, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't trying." It's a sports adage that's filtered into some of our other vernacular. With the baseball steroid mess with Barry Bonds shooting for Aaron's record, the phrase will probably get a bit more mileage in the upcoming days with the new book Game of Shadows coming out about Bonds choosing to use steroids and human growth hormones, as well as the Balco scandal. Baseball has it's history rich in cheaters, though, so steroid abusers are just jumping on an already large pile. The White Sox scandal of 1919, spitballers, corked bats, Pete Rose betting perhaps against his own team, dadadadadada. Football, especially pro, has its own problems with steroids allegations, and collegiate football has recruiting rules violations that most people agree "everybody does, just not everybody gets away with it." Same with NCAA hoops. But here's one I didn't see coming. This one beats them all.

Here's the story.

Apparently, Christophe Fauviau... who has a son and daughter playing seriously competitive tennis in France, had "spiked" the water bottles of 6 boy opponents of his son and 21 female opponents of his daughter, 9 of the total being minors. He used Temesta, a drug that is supposed to induce drowziness in its takers. Several of his children's (Maxime and Valentine) opponents pulled out of ongoing matches with them due to dizziness, fatigue, burning, etc. I love to win just like the next guy, but a guy has really had to have lost it to be drugging his childrens' tennis foes' water. Or is that what they do in tennis? Codepoke? I'm sure you could answer this one.

From what Mrs. Fauviau alleges, neither she nor her children knew any of Mr. Fauviau's shennanigans. Hmm... Seems like after so many people keep pulling out of matches with your children, with your brother/sister, or with yourself, sooner or later you have to start wondering about something being wrong. But who am I to question someone else's integrity? Especially the French. (Just kidding there - bonjour).

Well, tragedy finally struck after one of the matches. Alexandre Lagardere pulled out of a match with Maxime, complaining that he was tired and ill. While driving home after the match, Lagardere fell asleep at the wheel, his car crashed, and he was killed. An autopsy revealed traces of Temesta. Eventually, the investigation fell upon Mr. Fauviau, who admitted to his crimes.

Eight years. That is his prison sentence. He killed a man. He gets eight years. What is that in France? A year and a half after good behavior?

Well, whenever I get hung up enough on my sons' soccer games to put some fake drug seeds in the halftime orange slices of the other team, I better be doing it in France. Any bank I end up robbing is going to be on the Champs-Elysees because if you only get 8 years for knocking off one of your son's tennis opponents, you probably only get 6 months for a mere armed robbery.

Of course I jest, but this is galling. Added woe is that Valentine Fauviau is supposedly pretty good, and may one day be on the pro circuit. Can you imagine her bio when NBC plays a five minute segment at the French Open? How would the Roland Garros crowds treat her?And what about upcoming opponents? If you're playing either Maxime or Valentine, I bet you're watching your water bottle REALLY closely. Their dad has done something they'll probably never be able to totally live down, at least not while playing tennis. Such a shame. However, I have to admit, they chalked up a lot of wins along the way.

So I guess I better get to work on finding a way to put weights in the shoe soles of the next basketball team my son plays. Or when football starts, lacing the other squad's team meal with some funky iocane powder might do the trick. My son's teams will never lose when the other teams keel over like Vizzini on the first third down of the game. Genius!

Here's to Christophe Fauviau, then, breaking the barrier one step farther of how far we need to go to win at all costs. If you can't beat 'em, kill 'em! Seriously though, hopefully, in the next eight years, Christophe might learn something worthwhile. The eight just should be a lot longer.

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Wanna Go Parking?

I have a friend who applied to become a Disney imagineer. He didn’t get the job, but I admired his passion for their mission.

One day, I want to build the theme park of the future. I want to step outside the model that we now know and design a place where people are not only entertained, but interconnected. So that you leave with a full heart not just an empty wallet. Using the same creative process it takes to be an imagineer (or to write a novel for that matter) but taking it one step farther.

To do this, I’ll need to find the answer to the question "What were you looking for when you decided to go to a theme park?" I’m sure there will be some different answers. Thrills. Relaxation. Adventure. But you can get thrills driving down the highway really fast, relaxation by taking a nap, and adventure getting lost in the woods. All by yourself. And yet, most folks head to the theme park with a group or a special someone.

I think what people may really be interested in is having a shared experience outside the humdrum of everyday life without worrying for their safety. And for the promise of satisfying this desire, they’ll endure long drives, queue lines, hot sun, enormous crowds, and huge expense.

It must be a pretty important need.

And unfortunately things seem to often break down as soon as you burst through the turnstiles, grab a park map, and learn that everybody in your party has a different idea about which attractions will best meet this need. So, you’re left either heading your separate ways or choosing to ignore the whining.

I'm probably a snob about this, but there are some parks that have at least gotten part of the formula right. And I appreciate them for it. My three favorite (existing) theme parks so far, and we’ve visited quite a few, are:

Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL
Fantastic park theming. To me this is one of the pillars of a great park. I want to forget I’m in a park, forget I’ve got to go back to work in a few days, and immerse myself in the themed environment. From Seuss Landing to Marvel Superhero Island to the fabulous newspaper comic strip-themed Toon Lagoon, Islands of Adventure does a great job. The sights, sounds, and smells all cooperate to provide the atmosphere. Disney’s resorts do a great job of this, too, but they aren’t a park per se.

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA
The theming is good here as well, but it’s their park engineering that wallops the competition. And that is my second pillar of a great park. Attraction ingress and egress, food and bathroom locations, plentiful shade, cleanliness, consideration of small children and those with special needs, park layout, etc, etc, etc. are top notch. And it’s amazing how the attitude of the visitors is so greatly improved.

Legoland, Carlsbad, CA
Thinking outside the box. My third pillar. Perhaps, it’s because of their foreign roots, but Legoland dared to step outside the traditional Disney or Six Flags park model. They have allowed their creativity to extend beyond what name to give the requisite log flume ride, tea cup rides, and bumper cars or what obscure record they can claim for their coaster. The attractions open the door to teamwork, interaction, and activity rather than wearing yourself out trekking across the park and standing in line and then collapsing into the passive attraction for a rest. There is something to be said for the familiar, but at theme park prices, I want something new and different.

Lastly, I will make a couple of admissions:

My favorite attraction is not located at any of these parks. It’s the combination coaster, dramatic dark ride, special effects extravaganza known as Revenge of the Mummy located at Universal Studios. I could do it a hundred times and come out grinning from ear to ear each time.

And it is definitely hard to top the romantic feeling of walking down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at 1 am when it’s barren and feels like Walt created his wonderful world just for you.

But enough about me, I want to hear about:

-- Your favorite park
-- Your favorite park attraction
-- Your worst park experience ever
-- What you look for in a theme park
-- Which park is most underrated in your opinion
-- Tips about little known parks or anything else theme park related.

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One Superhero

Alright, another question. If you could be one superhero, who would it be and why? Also, why would that superhero be cooler than any other that might get listed here?

Hopefully, a post like this drives theApache Chief (from The Challenge of the Superfriends) and the Electra Woman/Dyna Girl fans out of the woodwork. Of course, anyone listing either Zan or Jana (either of the Wonder Twins) shall be heckled in The Realm of Possibility forevermore.

Personally, Nova the Human Rocket is my guy. His name's Rich, too, so why not? Nova wasn't ever the toughest hero, he had a rough family life, but he was determined as all get out. He never, ever gave up, even when he was getting pounded into oblivion. I love that. Not to mention flight and being able to breathe in space because of the Nova helmet. Too cool. The Silver Surfer and Spider-Man tie for second.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

After All You've Done For Me - SQOTW

Missed the song quote yesterday, so I'll hit it today. Don't have a lot of time so I'll get right to it.

to live inside these ruins
where you move without a sound
oh to live inside this skin again
die outside your town
oh to break forth into sonnets
oh Lord keep me coming back
oh the stories that you tell your head
to keep your heart intact

you don't lose don't lose
no pieces will you ever lose
after all you've done for me
it's the least i could do for you

-- After All You've Done For Me, Bill Mallonee from the CD Fetal Position

These lyrics have a lot of different meanings thrown into them. Death -- and the "to die outside of your town" line definitely touches on Jesus' crucifixion on Golgotha outside of Jerusalem --and rebirth, praise and renewal, and faith highlight the verse. Personally, I love the "to break forth into sonnets, oh Lord, keep me coming back" because there are many times in my life when I want to just praise or thank God for something out of the blue, but those "many" don't make a whole lot of my life, truth to tell. I need the Holy Spirit to remind me to keep my mind on Christ, keep thinking about His goodness and His greatness. To return to Him again and again, in thanksgiving and praise, both in the good times and bad.

But the chorus really brings the song home for me. If you listen to all the lyrics, you'll hear about convictions getting overturned, doubt about yourself and about God, and about how nothing in this world can set you free. Then, there's that line: You don't lose, don't lose -- no pieces will you ever lose. John 10: 27-29 states: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. That's what I think this part of the chorus alludes to. Jesus isn't losing any pieces, the pieces being believers -- his sheep. And how awesome is that for the person who abides in Christ? Really, nothing could be better.

The rest of the chorus speaks to God's sacrifice and beyond for us, and our response.

Just another cool, cool song with excellent lyrics from Mallonee. But then, I could say that about most all of them, couldn't I? Or wouldn't I? One or the other.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tick Tock

I'm not exactly sure when things are going to slow down here. This week, workwise and personal wise, is going to be a bear. I'm going to try to get a few posts in here and there. I know Ken, who has a more demanding job than I do, is always struggling for time.

I will say that he's made good progress on our latest novel. But work, personal life, and our writing all come at the expense of the blog. To be truthful, that's the way it needs to be.

As soon as I get a break in my time, I'll shoot off a post or two. I'm sure I have something relevant and thought-provoking up my sleeve. Maybe even something better than a post on sweets. Yesterday was a buzzard of a day. Today, I've got a work deadline at noon, and then another one by the end of the day. I'm also supposed to pick up the trophies and gift certificates for our basketball banquet sometime in the middle of everything. Tomorrow looks little better as I have to go to the dentist for my permanent caps on two teeth (silver now, you should see me smile), my son's soccer practice, and we have our Children's Writers' Critique Group meeting, with work in between. My boss is also leaving on Wednesday, leaving me in charge -- scary thought, I know -- on Wed-Fri. Thursday I have an appointment at 1:00 p.m. and, well, you get the point.

I'm sure everyone else's life is like this, too. Well, others may have less wear and tear on their teeth or have better oral hygiene in general (meaning they aren't eating Oreos for breakfast like I am). I just prefer to complain about it. But the clock's always ticking, and I'll just have to find a way to get to it all.

On the plus side, last night I got some good sleep, so I may have some late nights for writing and blogging coming. We'll see. Anyway, all this to say, you can probably expect some inconsistent blogging this week out of me. You might get the regular out of Ken -- and I'm not sure what that says.

As always, anyone who takes the time to read our blog, we do thank and appreciate. And isn't there a saying that goes: appreciation is best shown by money? If so, go ahead and forward those invoices, and we'll do our best to pay up.

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Monday, March 06, 2006


Codepoke and Doug have mentioned having problems either loading or seeing the blog when they pull it up. I've spoken with Ken, and neither of us are having a problem. We wondered whether it could be a browser issue, but we'd like more info if you guys, or anyone else out there, are having problems.

For this problem or any problem you guys experience with the blog site, aside from poor content, that is, or lacking content or no content... let me rephrase, for any technical problems please let us know now and in the future under the comments of our "Please Excuse Our Dust" sidebar link.

For the current problem, you can comment under this post as well. We do apologize for any trouble you guys are having, and we'll do what we can to correct anything we can handle on our side as soon as possible.

Other than that, thanks for reading the blog, contributing when you feel like it - or not, and just being a part of The Realm of Possibility. Who knows, we may even post again within a day or so.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Mr. Originality

One morning, not so very long ago, a newborn baby, full of expectation, bounded into the world. He was the sixth baby born at Memorial Hospital that day, and he had his mother's eyes and his father's nose. His parents named him John, John Smith, but not out of a desire to protect his identity. He was simply named after his Grandpa John, his mother's father.

John grew to be a likeable boy. Never what one would call popular, but he always had friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. In truth, most of his playmates were really his older brother's friends, but Fillip always allowed John to tag along, and John admired him for it.

John was a better-than-average student, but never known for his brains. He was also a fair athlete and even made an all-star team once. The same team Fillip had made a couple of years before.

When John was eight, he joined the Scouts. And by the time he was sixteen, he wore the badge of an Eagle Scout, just like his dad. Everyone was very proud. His Aunt Hildie assured him that she wasn’t surprised for that sort of work ethic ran in the family.

Of course, it was this same work ethic that led John to toil in his father's hardware store each weekend while most other guys his age were off dating girls. “John’s a late bloomer," his mother proudly affirmed, "just like his Uncle Steve." For his efforts, John's dad decided to groom him to take over the family business one day. Fillip had obtained a scholarship to State to study architecture – he’d be the first in the family to make it to college.

John lived a relatively happy life, I suppose. I don't mean to give the impression that he didn't. He’d experienced no major tragedies in his young life. However, as he reached the end of his school days a little twinge of emptiness--barely discernable-- somewhere in the back of his mind, began to tug at him. At first, John didn't know what to make of it, but as he drove his white sedan to the hardware store after the graduation ceremonies, the feeling grew stronger, and forced John to reflect on it. Maybe that's normal. Maybe when you reach one of life's mile markers it’s what you're supposed to do... reflect.

As John sat in the parking lot... he looked back over his life and realized that none of his achievements, his special moments... or even his personality felt like they were his alone. They all seemed to belong to others more than they belonged to him. He had spent his first eighteen years as a follower, and this left him discontented.

Surely, he had been created for something more… something astonishing, something inspiring, something indelible, or, at the very least, noteworthy. There must be a trail left to blaze, a frontier left to explore, a niche left to carve, a legacy to leave, which could be distinctly his. But this was to be his silent, elusive passion.

John fell in love with Lisa, an attractive girl from his mother's hometown, only eleven miles away. After courting her briefly, he proposed marriage, and Lisa accepted, despite the fact that she had received an identical ring in a previous engagement. Thrilled, John raced home with his new fiancée only to find a celebration already underway for Fillip, who had become engaged earlier that same evening.

Lisa wished to be married in her hometown church where, of course, John's parents and grandparents had also been married. And naturally, the only date available on the church’s wedding calendar was, you guessed it, his parents' anniversary.

The years came and went, but John’s obsession remained. Always he felt like he was on the brink of something special, something uniquely his own, and he could taste it. Once, John had an idea for an invention, a timesaving yard implement, but then his father died, and John was boxed into assuming the entire responsibility for the hardware store. A year later, a farmer patented a similar tool and retired quite comfortably to a thousand-acre ranch in Texas, although John always refused to stock the tool in his store.

Lisa gave John two boys of his own (who, by the way, never worked a day in the hardware store). Inspired by his love for these boys, John wrote a fantastic children's story for them. Unfortunately, his manuscript never saw the light of day, because an eerily similar novel penned by a best-selling author found its way to bookshelves that very month.

The pattern continued. John would cast his soul into one endeavor or another only to find that someone else had just accomplished his goal. To use a cliche, John was always “a day late and a dollar short”. Snake-bitten, each time he came up short, a little piece of him died. However, please do not misunderstand me to say that John was a failure, far from it.

He was a devoted, faithful husband, a loving father, and a steadfast influence in his church and his community. And he never lost hope, but continued to reach for the brass ring, to grasp hold of that something, that amazing, spectacular something that would forever mark him as a man of note. Or as he saw it, a man period.

He is gone now. John Smith died with his mother's failing eyes and his father's crooked, fleshy nose. He lived to what many would call a “ripe-old age”. He wasn't snuffed out in the prime of his life, and he didn't live to see a hundred. Of course, many others have died at the same age, an age that I'm sure John would think quite ordinary. His body rests in the family cemetery next to Lisa's... and adjacent to the plots where his parents are buried.

This may seem like a story about a man who was born unremarkably, who lived unremarkably, who died unremarkably, and who never amounted to much. And in many ways, that’s all true. But I'm often struck by just how remarkable it was for John to live his whole life so unoriginally, without a single story to call his own… except this one.

Perhaps I'm not as objective as I could be, because John Smith was my dad. I'll always be sad for him, knowing how desperately he wanted something more from his life, but I believe he's now gone to a better place, a place where he is a genuine, bona fide original and cherished as such. And my bet is that there will never be another John Smith. Never be another so fabulously unoriginal as he... unless, of course, it is me.

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The Princess Bride! Is there anyone out there who doesn't like this movie? Seriously, I've never met anyone who has said, "Meh, The Princess Bride, I could take it or leave it" or "Yeesh. That Princess Bride movie sure was awful."The majority of people I know that have seen the movie have thought it was absolutely great, and most loved it, not just liked it.

I was a sophomore at Auburn University when I walked in with some friends to see the movie. My girlfriend and some of her friends decided they'd rather see Less Than Zero because it sounded better than some fantasy comedy. Well, guess who had the last laugh there? I was astounded watching The Princess Bride. From the opening scene with Peter Falk and Fred Savage, I knew I was going to love it. And the rest of the movie never disappointed. It just got better and better. Certain things on this earth seem to have a little spark of magic, and The Princess Bride is one of them.

My favorite parts center around the portion of the movie that Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) dominated. The Wesley vs. Inigo fencing duel and the battle of wits between Wesley and Vizzini were simply awesome. Of course, when Inigo meets Count Ruben and finishes him off, mm mm, that was too good as well. But this movie had cookies all the way through it. The casting was excellent. The apparel just right. A perfect movie-going experience.

How 'bout you? Favorite parts? Favorite lines of dialogue or exchanges? Why you liked it so much? If there's anyone who didn't like it or thought it was boring, let us know why. I promise I won't be overbearing like I was when Wanda said she had never watched an episode of Seinfeld. I learned my lesson. Also, is there anyone who just plain hasn't seen this movie?

Let me know. Or don't. As you wish.

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Lent: FBC-Styled

I got this e-mail from my church regarding Lent and some of the ways to observe it:

Dear Friends,

Is an awareness of the seasons of the church year of significance for you? If so, you will know that we are now in the season called “Lent.”

Lent is a 40-day period before Easter (not counting the Sundays). It begins with a day called “Ash Wednesday” which, for our present year, was this past Wednesday, March 1.

Lent calls us to a time of reflection and prayer. It is a time to consider our sins and to more deeply celebrate the Love that forgives our sins. Much as Advent prepares us to celebrate the Love of Christ’s birth, Lent prepares us to celebrate the Love of his resurrected life.

Lent is a very personal experience. It is traditionally marked by an individual’s focused time with God. It offers opportunities for self-examination and repentance. It is a time to consider anew who we are in God.

As we journey together through this Lenten season, acts you might consider are:

1. Commit to a quiet time with God each day during this 40-day period. Use this time to be still with God. Just listen to what He wants to say to you.

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

2. Put a cross in your home or workplace in a location that causes you to see it see it each day – in a way that you are not accustomed to seeing it. Putting it in a new place can help you to see it with new eyes.

3. Use this time to examine your spiritual growth. Have you grown spiritually since this time last year? Is there something you need to change in your life to help nurture your spiritual growth?

4. Commit to a daily devotional during these 40 days. The one I am experiencing, along with many others in the church, is found online at

5. If there are children in your home, know that our Childhood Ministries Office has provided a Devotional Guide to be used by families during the Lenten season. They are available for you on the table in the hallway outside the Childhood Ministry Office.

As you make this Lenten journey, I would love to hear from you about stirrings in your heart as you respond to God’s call on your life. Are there needs in your life we can help to meet? Are you being called to serve in some way? Let me know how through the church we can best support you in your service to Him.

As I've stated, we're a Baptist church, and observing Lent for us may not be like observing it for you or your church. However, I am interested to know what people are doing in observance of the forty days of Lent. Usually, to be frank, I do nothing different.

From my highly questionable listening and reading skills, some of the ways I've either heard or read what different people or different churches are doing (or usually do) are:

-- Giving up some "vice" (chocolate, TV, Internet, etc.)
-- Giving up something dietary other than sweets (usually meat)
-- Reading the Bible daily or having daily devotionals (and not missing any)
-- Refocusing on God's love and praying and praising more often
-- Fasting
-- Some sort of local mission work

I know my list is missing a whole lot, but maybe you can help me add to it. Are any of you out there doing something different for Lent than you regularly do? Does your church do something different? How does your church view and observe Lent, and are there rituals observed each year during the forty-day period?

For me, if anything this year, I'd like to be more reflective on Christ's life and sacrifice, which means spending time, which is definitely at a premium for me (in my dysfunctional mindset of my little world), dwelling on Him. Not just in my car riding or walking and trying to think about Him as I go through each day. Actually scraping out some time before my body is totally sleep-deprived and I'm nodding off at the computer, and just contemplating Christ. I don't do it close to enough. In fact, I don't do it that much at all. Maybe Lent would be a good way to redirect my mindset to something that hopefully will stick with me long after this Lent is over. I guess that might fall loosely under some of the items my church suggested.

I wish everyone a joyful and meaningful Lent and look forward to Easter morn, the day we celebrate the Resurrection, which for me, means everything.

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