Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Family Update

Ahh the end of the school year. Kt is done in two days and Ike is done in a week and half. Unlike the common reaction of summer vacation for parents, I cannot wait for summer vacation to start. First of all I get to start riding my bike back and forth to work. Since Ike is a wussy and won’t bike with me the 9 miles each way to St. Marcus during the school year I have to wait for the summer to be able to ride. As it is, Ike has summer school for 5 weeks as well and he just may find himself riding bike after all. I consider it football cardio training. It is just nice that the kids can be off doing their own things and I usually get a lot of work done at work because I have total flexibility. Ike is getting comfortable with the bus concept as well. Ahhhhh.

Kt goes to Florida in a week. She will be there 10 days visiting her boy, Phil, and her brother too I suppose. She is very excited. She has enough excitement that if you were lacking some...she has some to spare. It would appear that in July Phil will be flying up to visit for a day or two and then taking Kt to meet his family in Washington. I'm guessing Kt will be excited... After that Phil will get his permanent duty station as an Air Traffic Controller. He could end up who knows where at some Marine Air base. I'm guessing Kt will hope for a base in the lower 48 as frequent trips to Hawaii or Okinawa are not in her budget. I'm sure eventully he'll get a deployment to Afghanistan and be an ATC at some remote air strip. A challenging relationship to maintain to say the least as really any military relationship is. We'll see how it goes and I will wish them luck. Tucker (as marines do not go by their first names!!) seems like a really nice guy. He is chivalrous, old fashioned, and is a gentleman. He seems to put Kt 1st in his life and has been darn right dedicated. All good things...and since it has been a long time since a guy has been that honorable with Kt I am happy about it. So far its all been through the phone too except for a couple of short visits during Easter. Something they will need to get real comfortable with.
Have a great week all!!

"Advanced" Education

Karen will be gone for a bit here at the beginning of June. Karen is going to Lafayette, IA for a week of classes at Upper Iowa. The class was going to be Ethics but not enough people signed up so she is taking Critical Thinking. I told her if she comes home spewing all this crap about tolerance, personal relevance, truth is relative, humanism and post-modernist thinking that she will need to go through a few sessions of de-brainwashing before being allowed back in the house.

Lately I have run across too many people who adapt to this style of thinking in college and particularly advanced degrees. I’m beginning to think that advanced degrees are a recipe for disaster. Why do all the people I know who get them become all humanistic and self-centered? I’ve now seen three marriages ruined by this kind of thinking.”I’ve got my degree, so now it’s all about me!! See ya later honey!!" It just scares me how pervasive it is and it has been sad to see people I thought could not be "turned to the dark side" become self-centered humanistic fools.

Then there is the issue of the egos of those people who get advanced degrees. It becomes rare to find a humble Phd out there. There is a lot of self love and power trips going on. I remember once at a family gathering an article written by an ex relative who had obtained an advanced degree got passed around. She has a hearing disability and was working for a hard of hearing advocacy group at the time. The article was about the ”Elephant in the Room”. So many of my relatives were touched and drippy by this relative's drippy story about her struggle with her hearing loss always being the “elephant in the room”. I’m sorry but my wife and I just thought, “What are you talking about?? You weren’t an elephant in the room…the problem was you were a mesquito in the room.” I can’t remember the last time I remembered she was deaf. It was sad to think that she thought the problem was nobody wanted to talk about her deafness or acknowledge it because we were afraid, or it was taboo when really it was more about nobody realized she was deaf, didn't care, or just didn’t think it was any kind of big deal.

This humanist assumption that it would naturally be all about me so if people aren’t talking to me about it they must be avoiding the issue is a funny one. Of course that’s pretty depressing I suppose. Who wants to admit that the reason no one acknowledges their particular concerns is because they are simply ignorant of it, indifferent, or their concerns simply elicit no concern by others. It would make one feel small and unimportant. This is not cool for a humanist. I find this situation a lot with my daughter. She has some sort of self-centered melt-down and I find myself struggling to be empathetic because my reaction for the most part is, “I understand your upset however you’re being very self-absorbed so therefore it seems to be your own problem. I’m sure you’ll understand as I go in the other room and not care about this selfish episode.” You’d be surprised at how this is not helpful for her and does not score me Father of the Year awards. However it is a right of passage for most teens so it's nothing to get worked up about.

I guess this means that my hypothesis is that as those who get advanced degrees become more self-centered they become more like teenagers. Ahh the wisdom of this world….so much to take your focus off of Christ and put it on ourselves.

Memorial Day Memorials

I know this is after Memorial day but I have some memorials to make. This last week and weekend has certainly been filled with a number of tragedies. First there was the death of two students from MLC. They were driving up by Two Rivers and the driver lost control on a curve and went into the ditch. There was mention of a high rate of speed but I don't know if that's true. Both these kids were from my high school alma mater, Lakeside Lutheran, and graduated last May.

Next on Friday, a 17 year old kid from Kt's class at Wisconsin Lutheran got his recently purchased car over 100 mph on highway 45 and hit a median, rolled 4 times and him and his two passengers were ejected from the car. The driver BJ Webb died. The other two had serious injuries but are alive.

Lastly I heard about Pastor Paul Schmeling, a WELS pastor who died this last weekend when he fell out of a tree. He was pruning the branches in the tree and fell and landed on his head.

I have had many thoughts. One of my first was anger that a certain child of mine has on numerous occasions stressed the limits of my BMW or his RX7 as if the manufacturer's might have been mistaken when they said the top speeds were 125 or so. One wrong move and ....lights out. I am not prepared to have to deal with my children's stupidity in this way. I would not be opposed to placing said crumpled vehicles right at a prominent corner of the school as a testimony to what can happen in one moment of misjudgement.

The deaths of these young kids and an esteemed called worker however unusual in their concentration still mark that the Lord is in control and he numbers our days. Everything happens according to his good purpose. Perhaps other kids will live this "graduation season" because they paid special attention to the recent tragedies. Heck, I also am a seatbelt slacker and I have now been remembering to buckle up.

Lastly I do want to salute all those who have died in the defense of our freedom. It is certainly more poignant now that I have one in the Marines and (hopefully) one more on the cusp of enlisting. However, my first appreciation for the service our fallen soldiers gave struck me the most when I was a caretaker in a couple of cemetaries while in college. It was the least I could do to make sure to fix any broken flag holders and to make sure no weeds grew around their graves. The most striking things of course were the funerals. In the small town I grew up in the American Legion would often provide a 3 gun salute for veterans. I think this is a thing of the past, but I do remember that I would always turn off my mower and note that those shots ring right to your core. I hope I never hear them in relation to any of my own children.

Friday, May 15, 2009

St. Marcus and a lesson in Humility

Yesterday was an interesting day. I took the day off from work to take my rag tag band of the St. Marcus track team to the Wisco Grade school meet. I believe there were about 22 teams there. I only had 5 guys and 9 girls because 70% of the team went on the Washington DC, Discover America Trip for two weeks. My team's performance was admirable considering our low numbers.

I decided to take my rambunctious team to Gille's afterwards and get burgers and ice cream etc. I thought that would be a good end of season celebration. It did not occur to me how that would be received and it was interesting. The kids were just amazed that I would pay for their lunch. Over and over again they would thank me and ask how much they could order and thought it was going to cost a fortune. A couple kids, asked me point blank, "Are you rich?" I assured them that I am not rich...on the inside I was thinking about how rich I was to have worked 20 years to achieve my 1000 sq ft house in a working class neighborhood of Milwaukee with a morgage greater than the value of the home and my 4 older cars totaling 655,000 miles on them...etc etc. Boy am I rich alright... :-/

Coming from coaching in the suburban schools I did not think it too weird to spring for Dairy Queen for the kids or have a pizza party or I would bring donut's nearly every morning for the CC team. However clearly these kids did not have this kind of thing done for them...I'll have to assume hardly ever, since the looks on their faces were incredulous. The bill was hardly more than the bill for my family of 4 to eat at Outback. It brought a little more focus to the comments of Ike's friend from STM who came to our house last Friday for the evening. He was amazed at all the food we had and had himself a feast. Anyone who knows how little food we keep in our fridge (like every single friend of our children would confirm) would find that statement a bit odd.

So this was unsettling for me a bit. Even though my kid goes to an inner city school I don't actually get a good glimpse of the lives of these kids as individuals. I noticed in the season hardly any kids had proper running shoes. My legs ached just seeing them run in flats, and docksides, dress shoes, converse tennies, and even just socks. As much as I like the ...well.. uniformity of uniforms and its intended effect, to some degree the masking of one's financial condition makes someone like inner city noob...not realize the individual stories behind each kid. I was contemplating this revelation as I drove a few members of the track team back down to St. Marcus for pick-up and end of day activities.

Back at St. Marcus, I was talking with Principal Boche about the day's events and such and he went off to attend to some parent's needs. While that was happening, the remaining track students were coming in from another vehicle and an elderly woman of about 68 or so very slowly followed them into the school. Being the only adult around for a moment, the kids were nodding for me to help the woman.

She was definitely worn by the years. Her lips had sores. She did not appear transient but by appearances seemed close to it. She seemed disoriented and I'm not sure whether it was a mental issue, alzheimers or just stress and despair. She was crying and said she needed help. I asked how I coulp help her. She said, "I can't live where I'm living now...I need help. I need help." The tears were just falling from underneath her glasses. Then she said..."I just need someone to pray for me, not on Sunday, not tomorrow, I need someone to pray with me right now!!" At this point Jon Boche came up and rescued me. I felt at a complete loss. I know that St. Marcus folk are pretty experienced in handling these things and referring people and finding help for people. If he had not showed up I would have done at least two things. I was about to get her outside as Jon did, but then all I could think to do is pray for her and with her. As I got into my car I did pray for her. I have prayed for her at least 4-5 times more last night and today. I pray that she can find relief from her troubled life in Jesus' salvation.

Yet the thoughts of the day have been in my mind. I thought about the life those kids lived to have not experienced a simple gift of a cheeseburger and a shake and how those lives will go forward. Then only an hour later to see a woman on the other end of life...who just needed help in probably every physical way...but really her biggest need expressed at that moment by herself was to have someone pray for her. I thought about how this must have been like so many of the people who sought out Jesus in his day to just touch his robe or hear his voice pronounce forgiveness.

Truly it was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had and I will thank God for putting me in the situation to experience it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family Update

It's been awhile since I posted a family update so I guess I better get to it. I guess we just have those times where we are on cruise control and there is nothing really to update you on.

I have been coaching track at St. Marcus. In about the 3rd practice I tore my achilles slightly while sprinting against an 8th grader. It has been healing slowly. I am slightly less gimpy each day. My family does not tease me less each day. I do what I can to give them a reason to laugh. I'd have to say that this group of kids for track is like herding cats.

However their performance at this last track meet was impressive. The boys truly dominated. 1st in nearly every event and often a 1st and a 2nd. Ike personally got 3 1st places for sprints, a 2nd place for Triple Jump, and a 3rd place for Running Long Jump. The only people he placed behind in the jumping were his own teamates and they were all within inches. I look forward to the WISCO meet tomorrow. There will be a few more schools there and could be some sleeper athletes from other schools we don't know about. Should be more competitive.

Katie, Ike, and I have a 5k road Run on Saturday in Franklin as part of "Team Victory" I will be jogging along at a very slow pace as the ankle really won't be up for it but we'll "git r done" I'm guessing Ike and Kt could win their divisions.

Karen is plowing through her Statistics class and in a couple of weeks will be doing her Ethics class actually on campus in Lafayette, IA for a week. Kt will be going to Florida that week to visit her new love...or not so new by now. It will just be Ike and I living the bachelor life. I predict Pizza will dominate the menu for that week. Since it the first week of ike's summer vacation I also predict he will not be around either. I cannot believe how fast this school year has flown by. It makes my head spin. Probably a good week to do web things.

Kt has been going to Physical Training (PT) on Thursdays and Poolie events on Saturdays with the same recruiter as Zachary. She really "enjoys" getting out there in the fresh air and doing their little excercises. She seems to be doing well considering she hasn't even enlisted yet. The Sergeant Major for the midwest recruiting district was there this last Saturday and was impressed by her because she came in 3 minutes before any other girl on her run and is actually able to do the physical activities.

It does seem to be a trend.. as often when Zach was doing the same conditioning he would comment about the girls who would complain about not being able to run or do certain activities and would sit out. As I always sat in the car waiting for Zach I often heard the girls as the recruiter would take them outside to listen to them whine(I admired the recruiter's patience as I would just want to smack them). Apparently the recruiter has said to Kt that she is the last girl he will actively try to recruit. He has had too many bad experiences. One got dishonorably discharged and others have had various issues (like doing drugs the night before shipping drug tolerance for the Marines and you have no are done permanently). All recruits stick with their recruiter for the entire time he is a recruiter. Meaning if your recruits do well all the way reflects well on your performance review...If they reflects on your performance review. So they have a vested interest in getting truly dedicated, morally responsible, and high quality candidates. It's another reason that the Marines at least will not make as many waivers for previous bad activities as say the Navy and Army.

Zach finishes his "Core Electronics" School today. He is finishing with a very high score (I believe it rates proficiency in the material) He will now be classing up to the Introductory classes for his Avionics training. This will be a standard day schedule with classes from 7-4 instead of the 2nd shift he is on now. He has two classes slated for 4 weeks total duration. After/during these intro courses they lock him in to his MOS. Depending on final assignment he has a minimum of 16 weeks in classes but could end up in the 27 week program if he does well and gets his choice of programs. So he could be in Pensacola until November 1st-ish or as late as February 1st-ish. Hopefully he will get his wish and be there until February.

Zach also has only one week left of wearing his orthopedic boot things for the stress fractures in his legs. Zach has always suffered while running and I guess there is good reason. The shin splints stepped it up to stress fractures. I don't know if that means he starts getting to run again right away but soon he will have to rejoin his group for PT runs. He also had half his big toe nail removed and it will be permanently gone. It was constantly getting ingrown and he had to have them keep slicing it off so he had it dealt with in a more permanent fashion. That is the same toe that was chopped in the lawn mower.

So that has got to cover everything I know for now. Have a great week!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Week 2 - Victory at Showtime

So week 2 at Showtime for Victory went pretty smooth. We worked out the sound issues for the most part. Another week or two and that should be very well adjusted. Until they unlock the cabinet with the powerstip for the TV, I cannot broadcast as WVIC. I'm pretty sure the viewing audience within a 1000 feet is disappointed but hopefully by this week we will have access to the lobby television.

Also this week I hope to put out the first video podcast. The audio podcasts are working pretty good and this week's sermon is out there. But it will be nice to get our sermons out as video podcasts as well.

I really like our new advertisement for Victory that will be playing in the advertisements before movies at Showtime. Our last ad has been there for over a year and a half and it is getting stale. Starting this week hopefully it will be changed over. You can go to our facebook page and see it if you like. Just look for the Showtime ad video. Click Here to go to the Facebook Page

Interesting Person

I was posting on another WELS related blog last week about the current Synod financial conditions and such and a blogger emerged out of the woodwork who is an interesting specimen. Apparently the topic of closing prep schools tripped his trigger.

I, yes..I, had to just stop posting because posting anything on a topic with him around is impossible. Something about his posts just has been hard to figure out and almost disturbing. It's not his point of view. That's easy enough to figure out. He went to a synod school, seems to have had a bad experience and it would appear related to not being in the "in" crowd. He decries everything the WELS stands for now. He is deeply entrenched in post modernist/humanistic reasoning, truth is relative, toleration, etc.. So much so that his very words could be the examples used in an illustration that said, "A post-modernist would typically say something like this...." The actual disturbing part is his paranoia, defensiveness, and perception. Everything is a threat and intimidation. Yet I'm not sure anyone can figure out what the threats have been yet but he seems to be threatened easily.

Last night I just had to read his posts to my family in the car on the way home from Madison. I wanted to get their opinions as to what might be wrong. My wife said it almost sounded like a personality disorder like maybe paranoid schizophrenia or maybe a brain injury. My daughter thought he was just nuts and used a lot of big words trying to sound smart, but didn't know how to write. I have been leaning towards the psychological issues. At first, I had been thinking maybe it was someone pretending to be 28ish but actually is 18 and has severe low self-esteem. Perhaps he heard something in freshman philosophy at the distinguished public university he is so fond of and was finding an outlet to argue for rationalism and reasoning instead of faith and the Bible.

So I don't know. How do you tactfully suggest to someone that he should perhaps pursue counselling because his writings seem to indicate a level of paranoia beyond the normal person? I'm pretty sure his defensiveness would not take the suggestion to heart. Or maybe I'm nuts and there are tons of people out there like that. I just have not run across someone like this before. Since he doesn't seem to hold to any of the beliefs of the WELS maybe he just came to the board to be a pin in the butt. I don't know, but all I can say is if he is legitimately experiencing the feelings and making the judgements he is writing about then I hope he gets some help soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Victory Service at Showtime Cinema

This last Sunday we had our first service at Showtime Cinema. Over 140 people attended and we had a record number of children in Bible Quest. Although the setup of the technology inside the theater was a bit stressful and we did have a snafu or two on the new sound equipment, the rest of church went pretty smooth. We had a lot of people on hand to make sure everything was set up and ready to go. I'm thinking by the end of the month we will be pretty smooth. We've got some awesome new happenings coming up in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

New Victory Technology

I have recently added some new technology to the Victory website. I had been trying to implement a new podcast generator for awhile but kept being stymied by errors. I finally resolved them by setting up an Apache webserver and running the podcast site from it. You can get to the site by going to . It is linked into the main site and should be relatively transparent that it runs on a different webserver. It is a great tool because it formats the podcast feed to be optimized for iTunes and includes tools to ping iTunes for an update. The last podcast tool I had was very very basic and not suitable for iTunes. Also I noticed that this tool streams the podcast much faster than the last one I used. Another feature that I have not played with yet is the ability to add video to the blog and have video blogs.

I am working on upgrading the wiki infrastructure of the Victory site as well. There is a new version that has some very desirable features. I think it will be the last key ingredient to being able to totally share the content management of the site.

In other technology excitement, I am greatly looking forward to setting up our wireless TV broadcast so that we can beam our service to the lobby TV or if we ever need to overflow into the other theater we can beam our service into the other theater. I'm going to call it WVIC...broadcasting church services within a 1000 feet of Showtime Cinema once a week....commercial free.

I bet you're all as excited as I am.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bionic Fence Eating Squirrels

Today was "Lawn Day". I officially got into summer mode by mowing, raking and weeding. I even put the snow shovels away although that might still be foolish. However what I noticed on my fence was astonishing. On the metal fasteners that keep the chainlink attached to the fence pipe, I saw that many of them had gashes and some were worn so far through they look like someone used a grinder or a metal file to file them down to thin strips or as if they were chewed through.

Talking to the neighbor, I found an astonishing answer as she told me what she had observed. Bionic fence eating squirrels were eating or filing their teeth on these metal bands. Nearly 15 fasteners had been gnawed by these squirrel warriors. I imagine by now their fangs would snap a leg in two in one chomp. I am on Dr. Moreau's island. Does the squirrel man know what he's created? I think not.

However, news from the front tells me that "Fatty" Squirrel, a corpulent general in the squirrel army took a header from same fence into the neighbor's kiddie pool. Fatty was found doing the dead man's float this morning. Some think it might have been suicide but I for one think there was foul play. Perhaps a jealous bunny.

The skunk's home under my garage was siezed by eminent domain and promptly filled packed and destroyed. Another skunk affected by "This Economy." Wait until he has to pay more taxes at the end of the year. He'll be taking a header into the pool too.