Saturday, January 26, 2008

3 Little Witches

Avery was a big fan of Halloween this year, and learned a great Halloween song in her Bear Cubs class at St. Francis. Back by popular demand; Avery the singer!

Ellie's Silly Christmas Song

I made the mistake of teaching Ellie and Avery a rather silly version of "We Three Kings" - which they immediately memorized and sung constantly over the holidays. Somehow, this version doesn't capture the somber nature of the original! Luckily their Grandma Marty taught them the real version too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Passage on my mind: Nehemiah 6:10-14 Search for a Bible passage in over 35 languages and 50 versions.
My Sunday school class has been studying Nehemiah for some time, which has been great. My old testament knowledge is even further behind than that of the New - which is nothing to write home about. Anyway, last week was an epiphany for me, and its been on my mind ever since. Here's the passage that has me buzzing:

10 One day I went to Shemaiah's house. He was the son of Delaiah. Delaiah was the son of Mehetabel. Shemaiah had shut himself up in his home. He said, "Let's go to God's house. Let's meet inside the temple. Let's close the temple doors. Some people want to kill you. They will come at night."
11 But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Should someone like me go into the temple just to save his life? No! I won't go!"
12 I realized that God hadn't sent Shemaiah. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. That's why he had prophesied lies about me. 13 They had hired him to scare me. They wanted me to commit a sin by doing what he said. That would give me a bad name in the community. People would find fault with me and my work.
14 You are my God. Remember what Tobiah and Sanballat have done. Also remember the prophet Noadiah. She and the rest of the prophets have been trying to scare me.

Here's the thing (because it's probably not obvious): Someone was trying to trick N into entering the temple - the holy of holies - to save himself from (nonexistent) assassins. For most people (including me) this would have been pretty tempting. In fact, I think that I would have been great at rationalizing it. "I am the governor of Jerusalem - and the people are in a delicate state. Our enemies are literally at the gates. If I were to fall now, all of our work would have been for nought. The people need me - more than God needs me to keep his commandments about the temple."

But N didn't even think about it. He obeyed first; knowing that once you've disobeyed once, it's too late to go back. And when you obey, God always shows you that there was some really good reason to do so.

So what's it mean to me? Put God first. Don't rationalize in order to be able to follow my own will or the expedient course. It takes courage to obey - and I have been praying for it every day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

When a health insurer says it won't pay | Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/13/2008

When a health insurer says it won't pay Philadelphia Inquirer 01/13/2008
This is a pretty nicely balanced article about the tragic case of Nataline Sarkisyan, the 17-year-old girl who died while waiting for an experimental liver transplant.
The ethics of this case are very tricky. We Americans are rightly emotional about children, and have a passion for against-the-odds rescues. There are some pretty intelligent suggestions in this article about new criteria that could be used by insurers and employers to evaluate this kind of situation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Christmas Angels

I thought that you might like to see these pictures of our Christmas angels. Also, if you're interested I have added a new feature to the blog. By entering your email address in the "Subscribe to Bluegrass Adventures" blog, you can get an email notification whenever I add a new post. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

President Bush in Palestine

NPR : Bush Offers Peacemaking Checklist
I heard about this piece on NPR this morning, and was pretty intrigued by some of the nuances. One of the things that is mentioned only briefly is a comment by the President referenced in the radio piece. President Bush said something like, "I now have a deeper understanding of why the Palestinian people are so frustrated by this situation."
It doesn't sound like much, but when a world leader makes a statement like that, it has diplomatic consequences. It tells me that the President is ready to throw the weight of the US behind a solution that will end illegal Israeli occupation. I am no fan of the President, but this seems very promising. I'm glad that we're finally taking real steps to address this crisis.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Transparency Hits Hotels

Reviews of vacations, hotels, resorts, vacation and travel packages - TripAdvisor tweaked me to this web site today . . . which includes over 10 million hotel reviews, most of which are provided in great, entertaining detail by users. I will never travel blind again.

This is one of many web portals that are truly putting the power in the hands of the consumer; any company that doesn't take this trend seriously does so at their own peril.

Indiana Struggles to its first Big 10 win

NCAA Basketball - Indiana Hoosiers/Iowa Hawkeyes Box Score Wednesday January 2, 2008 - Yahoo! Sports
This is just what I was afraid of . . . Indiana reverts to its Xavier form in beating a weak Iowa team. The game wasn't really as close as the score indicated, and I'm not worried about the late-game heroics displayed by Iowa's Justin Johnson, who went unconscious at just the right time.
But I am worried about a few things, in no particular order:
- Too often IU reverted to pure 1x1 play, forcing quick shots both inside and outside. We showed on occasion how we could break down the defense with good screens, penetration and dishing off. But too often Gordon, Ellis and Crawford forced the action unnecessarily.
- Sampson's substitution pattern was strange and disconcerting. We have DJ, Gordon and Ellis on the court for long, long stretches when things aren't working in the offense, and the defense is breaking down. I want to see more rapid substitutions, and think that Brandon McGee needs to be in the rotation from time to time.
- I don't understand what happened to Armon Bassett. Was he hurt? In the doghouse? On the bench, he didn't seem to be hurt or particularly chastised, so I am not sure why we didn't see more of him on a night when Crawford was spotty at best.
- DeAndre Thomas had some good opportunities, but was too tentative on some (forget the shot fake when you're inside 5 feet, Dre. Power up!) and too aggressive at others (backcourt foul on the defensive end - just silly). More playing time should help him to smooth out these aspects of his game.

On the plus side, Jamarcus Ellis kept us in this game late in the first half and early in the second half with clutch rebounds, baskets and defensive stands. DJ was dominant on the boards at times - including some key ones. And when Gordon really wants to score, he is pretty darn tough to stop.

It's good that we have weak sister Michigan next, although they showed some solid flashes against a very tough Wisconsin team tonight. Onward and upward!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

IU Rocks!

Amy and I had the good fortune (thanks to my parents and Lee and Helen Butler) to sit courtside as IU crushed Chicago State in Bloomington on December 29.

The Hoosiers are looking really good against the cupcakes. However, much as Kelvin Sampson might want to deny it, I think that this schedule is going to wind up hurting us. It's given us some practice in running an offense (as opposed to the constant 1x1 that we've seen against real teams) but I am worried about our first test on the road against a Big 10 contender.

Luckily, we get to start off at Iowa and Michigan; it couldn't get much easier (although it's NEVER easy on the Big 10 on the road!). I enjoyed watching Iowa struggle against Southeastern Louisiana; I predict that we will see a different Hawkeye team show up tomorrow.

Louisville's Top 10

Politics in Kentucky

This has been an incredible year for Louisville . . . a year when many things begun. As an "outsider" in the community, I often dwell on the bad stuff (no-fault insurance, double the income tax of Illinois, stupid educational requirements from uninformed state legislators), but most of that stuff is coming from Frankfort.
Louisville and its mayor, Jerry Abramson, have big dreams. See the linked list above, and the art here . . . the downtown arena and museum plaza are going to change the face of the city, quite literally. To see how these proposed landmarks will look in the context of Louisville's skyline, see the photo collage at the top of this blog . . . oh yeah, and happy new year!