March 31, 2003
Separation of church and sport...

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In-vo-ca-tion (n).
1. The act or an instance of invoking, especially an appeal to a higher power for assistance.

2. A prayer or other formula used in invoking, as at the opening of a religious service.

It's no secret. I'm a closet NASCAR fan. No, I'm not a redneck. I don't listen to country music and I don't drink beer that comes from a can. Have I've sufficiently smashed the stereotype?

Being a fan of racing, I've noticed something odd and even pleasing. Before each race, there is the usual pomp and circumstance that precedes most sporting events - player (driver) introductions, followed by the National Anthem. But NASCAR adds something I've never seen in any other sport. An invocation. I'm not talking about some politically correct prayer to a general concept of God that offends no one. I'm talking about a Christian blessing prayed in the name of Jesus Christ each and every week before every race.

It's subtle, yet says a lot and I think it's cool.

Posted by todd at 10:39 AM
March 29, 2003
Final Four Baby!

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To quote a saying from 1988, "Who says Jayhawks can't fly?"

Posted by todd at 11:51 PM
March 27, 2003
Two words...

Rock - Chalk

You Know the rest...

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Posted by todd at 11:06 PM
March 24, 2003
I've got a Jones for news...

It's 11:30 in the AM and I'm feeling pretty good because I've successfully kept the news of the war out of my life since, well, since 9:30 this morning. I've been wonderfully distracted by the CD Cathedral of Sound. If you were at church last night, you heard track four - Free at last - during the guided meditation. A lot of people have asked about the music. You can thank Tim Keel for bringing the CD back from the Emergent conference in San Diego this past Feb.

I guess some work should start distracting me soon.

Posted by todd at 11:49 AM
March 23, 2003
Speaking of Dan Rather...

Check out my friend Brent's take on basketball, war and things in between.

http://shepcat.blogspot.com/

No more war - Talk, that is.

Many times over the past few days I've started to blog about the war in Iraq. I've agonized over my thoughts, which have gone from ambivalence to "shock and awe". I've now progressed to sickness, as in I'm sick of hearing about it. It's not that I'm disinterested in what's going on, it's just that the constant bombardment of information, or lack thereof, has added a level of stress in my life that I wasn't aware of until yesterday. Deanne and I had a party last night and discussed this morning whether or not we enjoyed ourselves. I did enjoy being surrounded by friends and I mean surrounded, at one point there were 15 people crammed in the living room watching KU Basketball and later The Bourne Identity. If you're not familiar with our living room, that was pretty tight quarters. I was uncomfortable, not physically, but emotionally. Several times during the basketball game, Dan Rather interrupted with news from the war. Each time, the normal roar of party conversation was silenced as we listened intently for new morsels of information. Soon after, the conversation would return to thoughts on basketball, beer and music. Problem was, I had a very hard time enjoying any of the fellowship. I had this nagging level of stress about the war. There was this thing out there that we were all doing our best to ignore, but it was still there. The proverbial elephant in the living room.

Chris Jehle spoke a couple of weeks ago about how he used to be a pretty joyful guy, but in the face of so much pain, hatred and emptiness in the inner city, the joy seemed to be sucked out of his life. I understand a little of what he meant. Constant news of the war has seemed to suck the joy out of my life and, from what I can tell, a lot of people around me. It just doesn't feel right enjoying things like a KU basketball victory. It's more like a momentary distraction from the news of the world.

I'm going to do my best to distract myself this week. Some might call it shallow. Some might call it denial. I call it a prescription for preventing an ulcer. So, I'm not going to blog about the war. I'm going to keep on trying to live my life with the awareness that the only thing I can do is pray. Pray for strength to live a life filled with peace, love, joy and compassion. I pray the same for all of you.

Posted by todd at 01:07 PM
March 19, 2003
Girls need to eat more what?

Because nobody understands teenage girls quite like a cattle rancher...

The National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. launched www.cool-2b-real.com, a site designed to "steer" young girls away from vegetarianism. The site features enlightening articles and insightful quizzes like "What type of beef do you most like to eat with your friends?"

This site actually placed ninth on a list of 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.

I'm speechless. Completely speechless.

Posted by todd at 11:55 AM
March 12, 2003
I did it...

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After a trip to the auto show last weekend, see Deanne's take here, I finally decided to call for an appointment to test drive a MINI. First of all, how pretentious does that sound? Usually you just try to drop by a car dealer and take the salesman by suprise. You know, the I'm just looking, but let's take a test drive anyway. But shopping for a MINI is a completely different experience. As the old addage goes - these things sell themselves.

Anyway, we arrived at Baron BMW/MINI and met Andy Tyrell, a true British gentleman from Essex. Andy's the head of Baron's MINI division and the most easy going car salesman I've ever encountered. We exchanged info, he walked Deanne and I out to a shiny new Indigo Blue MINI Cooper, handed over the keys and said enjoy the test drive. We put it through it's paces up I-35 and through the empty parking lot at the Merriam Cinemark theatre. We tried out every lever and switch, two of which controlled the heated front seats. I thought I wanted heated seats, but after experiencing them, not so much. We drove back to the dealer prepared to go in and place an order for a Red Cooper with a sunroof. We got out of the car and there sat an S model that pulled me toward it like a tractor beam. Deanne said, "Maybe you should drive the S. Otherwise, you'll always wonder if you made the right decesion."

She didn't have to tell me twice. Andy happily tossed me the key to his car, the S. After giving me the primer on the six speed Getrag transmission, we were off. I didn't need more than 100 feet to know I was sunk. As soon as we hit the highway and I was doing 80 in third gear, I knew I'd be opening up my checkbook a little farther for the S model.

We returned to the dealer and I placed my order today for a new MINI Cooper S (pictured above). Don't ask for a test drive anytime soon. It's not scheduled to arrive in the States from the Oxford, England factory until early July. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by todd at 11:03 PM
March 11, 2003
Waxing Nostalgic near my Birthday

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Recently, this picture was unearthed in my parents basement. It was taken in my grandmother's kitchen by my uncle David, who was well on his way to being the professional photographer he is today. I must have been all of three years old. I loved going to my Grandmother's house and "learning to cook." Her specialty, if you can call it that, was angelfood cake. You know, the kind that grandmas used to make with that putty-like icing it takes a chainsaw to cut through after it sets. I'm sure that's what I was mixing up in this photo.

Many years later I look back on that picture and see a time when things seemed more simple. I don't mean to sound cliche, but it didn't take much to make you happy back then. The X-Box, HDTV and e-mail were the stuff of science fiction. All it took to make me happy was the loving hands of my grandmother lifting me up on a chair to watch the electric mixer blades go round and round. After a few minutes, I'd tell my grandma that I thought it was ready to bake and I'd help her pour the batter in to the donut shaped pan. Grandma would slide the cake into the oven and turn on the light so I could watch the progress through the tiny smudged window. I'd check back about every two to three minutes with amazement as this wonderous creation progressed into a golden topped mound that I imagined looked like the surface of a far away planet. When the cake was finished baking, my grandma would take it out of the oven and balance it precariously on an empty Coke bottle which fit nicely in the center hole of the pan. I guess it cooled better that way. After it was cool, grandma would slice off the rough top edge to make it level. We ate the small slivers as she planed it to a perfect flatness to flip over onto a giant plate. Grandma would then mix up her magic icing and I would help her ice the cake. By the time we were done, I'd have icing from elbow to fingertip and be the happiest kid on the planet.

I guess my whole point here is that, while I very much enjoy my high speed internet, my X-Box and my HDTV, nothing beats a little time with a loved one, doing something simple like baking a cake.

Posted by todd at 11:41 AM