Monday, March 31, 2008

Mystery Substance

In intro chemistry labs, it is typical for the instructor to give the students "mystery" substances . The students conduct various tests to identify the the substances. They might check the pH, burn the sample, or see how the sample reacts with various reagents.

I'm going to share some clues now and you can guess the mystery substance.

1. This substance is very popular in some circles. The content of this bowl was consumed in approximately 5.38 minutes.

2. It is a heterogeneous mixture.

3. The color is green-brown. (Maybe more green than brown.)

4. The consistency and appearance of this mixture reminds me a lot of baby food peas. I'm not sure if this is quite accurate b/c it has been awhile since I've eaten baby food peas.

5. The main component of this mixture is readily available in the Dominican Republic. (I know this first-hand because I ate quite a bit of this while in the D.R.)

6. I once heard a story about how a person was eating this in a restaurant and was startled to see it moving in the bowl. (Worms.)

7. Adding lemon juice to this mixture helps to delay browning. This can also be accomplished by pressing plastic wrap into the mixture until serving time.

8. This is my favorite mixture to make. Okay, my food repertoire is not that extensive, but it is still my favorite thing to make.

Okay, I have run out of ideas for clues right now. Go ahead. Take a risk and make a guess or, better yet, offer some other clues. If you have had any interesting experiences with this substance, feel free to share those as well.



Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Buster and Mosaic Generations

A few days ago, I ended an entry with the question "Why?". I'm not going to dive too far into details today but want to keep true to the title of this blog, "Keeping It Real." Part of the answer to this question is that I have a deep, sometimes paralyzing, struggle with understanding my purpose and experiencing fulfillment. Sometimes, it feels like my insides are being shredded into little pieces.

This is reality.

I'm reading this fascinating book, unChristian, by David Kinnaman. (See the new bookshelf on the right side of the page.) This book explores the negative perceptions of Christianity among younger people. The gist of it is that outsiders - particularly younger folks - perceive Christians as being unChristian - hypocritical, sheltered, too political, and judgemental. (These are just some of the endearing characteristics.)

This is reality.

Kinnaman shares some interesting statistics on the Buster and Mosaic Generations in the Sheltered chapter (Chapter 6, pgs 126-128). The Buster Generation includes those born between 1965 and 1983. The Mosaic Generation includes those born between 1984 and 2002. (I'm limiting the following stats to the Busters to keep this short. Check out the book for the whole story.)

25% are unfilled in life
12% are lonely
14% deal with addictions
33% describe themselves as overweight
17% are in serious debt
25% who have been married have already been divorced
50% have used expletives in public in the last month
50% are stressed out
25% have consumed enough alcohol in the last month to be considered drunk

I can relate/empathize with many of these stats.

This is reality.

Kinnaman goes onto to share an excerpt from an interview with a twenty-eight-year-old, "So many Christians are caught up in the Christian subculture and are completely closed off from the world. We go to church on Wednesdays, Sundays, and sometimes on Saturdays. We attend small group on Tuesday night and serve on the Sunday school advisory board, the financial committee, and the welcoming committee. We go to barbeques with our Christian friends and plan group outings. We are closed off from the world."

This is reality.

It is relatively easy to put together stats, to identify problems, to offer critiques. However, we are left with a question:

What do we do?

Check out Trent's recent post, Get Real!, for another look into these types of issues.

As the month of March draws to a close, I just want to say, "Thanks," to those of you who have stumbled upon this lowly blog in its inaugural month. There have been some awesome "off-line" conversations. You folks rock my world. You break my "bubble." Have a great week!


Last week, Joe joined his brother Frank as a resident of the T-abode. (See previous post for further explanation.) Joe is 8 inches of green springing forth from a great brown pot. Frank and Joe are the Hearty Bamboo brothers. (Those Hardy Boy books always were the best.) The brothers are eagerly awaiting Nancy Drew to join them in their next super mystery.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Two nights ago, I woke up at 1:00 AM - not by choice - after two great hours of sleep. I was in one of those wired states. No pun intended, but I am in the wire business. Anyway, I picked up the April 2008 edition of the highly academic, Reader's Digest, that had found its way to the pile of books that shares the other half of my bed. Usually, I reserve this wonderful little magazine for another venue... Never mind, I'll spare you the details. (Reminder to self. Focus. Stay on track.) As I gazed groggily at the cover, I was startled to see in all capital letters:


(The color choice was a bit curious. Is there something patriotic about sleeping better? Actually, it seems that we as Americans keep pushing ourselves to sleep less.) I thought, "Wow, this is my lucky night." Eagerly, I turned to page 140 and dove into the article.

Under the category entitled, Work and Life, I read, "All this rumination and agitation ignites stress hormones that keep us in a state of perpetual arousal. That's why we should make a serious attempt to simplify our lives..." (143-144).

Simplify our lives.


Here's what my simplification looked like this week.

This is the week that I sent in a registration to take a class in a possible MBA program.

This is the same week that I sent out an application to a local community college to do adjunct teaching.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"If you're not first, you're last!"

I have watched more movies in the last three months than I probably watched in the three previous years. After completing my masters degree, there seemed to be more time - particularly on weekends - to sit back and watch movies. One movie has stood out from all of the rest. It has left the competition in the dust. You guessed it: Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This movie is destined to become an American classic. (Okay, probably not, but it is hilarious.) I have never been one to remember lines from movies but several from this movie, at least in a paraphrased sense, remain in my mind.

"Shake 'n bake!"
"Dear 8 lb, 6 oz, little baby Jesus."
"I [urinate] excellence."
"Ricky boo-bby, two first names."
"If you're not first, you're last!"

If you're not first, you're last?

I am very performance-oriented person. In school an A just wasn't good enough. I had to be first, number one, numero uno. Somehow an A+ was better than an A; 105% was better than 100%. Even after four years, adapting to the manufacturing climate continues to be a significant challenge because it can become so difficult to walk away at the end of the day and turn the work mode off. After all, there are always more improvements to make, more dollars to save, more pounds to produce, more problems to solve. It just doesn't end and it feels like I'm in last place because it is impossible to be first. However, I have slowly started to learn that there is something between being first and last.

Jesus adds some interesting perspective:
"But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first" (Matthew 19:3o, NIV).
"This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first" (The Message).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Keeping Vigil

Last night, I joined four other people for the 9-11 Easter Vigil shift. This was a great time of fellowship, prayer, and worship. These folks rocked my world with their enthusiasm for the Vigil and the sincerity of their hearts. We prayed for our community, church, other churches, others, and ourselves. We made a joyful noise (i.e., we sang) to Jesus. The time passed by much too fast, but this is something that will stick with me for quite awhile. Keep the fire burning!

(We were also pleasantly surprised to see some cookies appear through the smoke. Remarkably, they were warm!)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today, as I was thinking about the crucifixion of Jesus, I was reminded of a slim volume, Night, by Elie Wiesel. It is not possible to adequately describe the content of this book in mere words. The memoir is a poignant and powerful look into Nazi death camp terror.

Wiesel writes, "One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows" (61). One of the victims was a young boy, "the little servant, the sad-eyed angel" (61). As the child hung from the gallows, dying, Wiesel heard a man asking, "Where is God now?" (62).

If you have not read this book, find some time to read it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This Weekend

See Horizon's website for a schedule of events for the upcoming Easter weekend! In addition to our "Saturdays @ 6" Easter Vigil Service, we will be having a campfire and keep vigil all night in two hour shifts. We will be praying, contemplating the death and resurrection of Jesus, and keeping the fire going! On Sunday at 9:30 AM, we will be joining Grace United Methodist Church in an Easter Celebration Service. Pastor Jim shared these comments in today's Horizon ENews: "This Easter Sunday is a God-given chance for Horizonites to extend themselves to another community of faith, saying, 'We're with you. It is our honor and privilege to go shoulder-to-shoulder with you in worship on this great day.' " Classy. Very classy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Re: Link Love

This post comes in response to a recent post

Trent (a.k.a., Trentsky,Trenton) is the worship band leader at Horizon. He has a great sense of humor and really appreciates that God probably has sense of humor, too. (Have you ever heard anyone talk about being the phalanges of Christ?) He is one of the coolest guys I know and I learn a lot from him. In the above picture, Trent is demonstrating his Wii prowess at the 1st Annual Indoor Lawnsports National Championships. Check out his blog at Check out the worship band at Saturdays at 6 (

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You have reached your destination

A few weeks ago, one of my apartment-mates from college asked me if I would like to come to the Palm Sunday service at his church. ( This guy is an extremely talented musician and is director of music at the church. He has a heart for God and a sense of purpose in his life. He is a great friend.) He explained that soloists and the choir would be performing the Passion in chant form as written by Fr. Heiman. I fondly recalled singing bass in this same Passion at our college and immediately made note of this in my infallible (yeah right, sorry about Friday night) mental calendar.

So this morning, the alarm goes off at 7:30 AM. Hearing the alarm go off is always a painful event, but it was particularly painful this morning because it would have been wonderful to sleep for a few more hours after an intense week. I pulled out my wonderful GPS and entered the address for the Parish of St. Joseph. The GPS is great; I enter the address and trust that somehow it will get me from home to the destination and back. I picked up my pocket Bible, cell phone, camera, and headed out the door.

As I backed out of the drive way, this electronic female voice says, " Turn left in 600 ft."

Of course, I obediently turned left and eagerly anticipated the next direction.

"Continue straight."

Somehow, the car turns left.

Obedience just took a back-seat to my supreme skills with directions.

The remaining journey was a constant battle between the electronic female voice (now with volume turned down) and those aforementioned directional skills.

Are you kidding me, I'm not taking the toll-road.

Oh, I'm sure I can continue on this road into Illinois.

Hmm, this looks familiar, I'll keep going this way...

my way.

Two hours, 48 oz of coffee, and an orange juice later, I pulled up to the Parish of St Joseph.

"You have reached your destination."

(A side-bar: I arrived in the the city a little early and stopped at Caribou Coffee for some orange juice and to eliminate the 48 oz of coffee. As I was taking care of business at the urination station, I was startled to see some artwork hanging right in front of me. It was a painting of an outhouse with the name, Camp Todd. Funny and weird.)

Back to the church:
I looked up and saw...

the cross.

Wow, it is pretty amazing that despite the twisted route, my journey ended up at the foot of the cross. Despite my stubborn "I-know-the-way" mentality, the wrong turns, U-turns, pot-holes, stoplights, detours, exits, and speed changes, somehow, my journey ended at the foot of the cross.

Coming this week: some link love - this dude can incorporate boogers and phalanges into prayers - and a trip to the cemetery goes deep.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some Quotes

Here are some quotes that Dan Miller references in his book No More Mondays.

He who rejects change is architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. - Harold Wilson

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. -Henry Ford

The real act of discovery is not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes. -Marcel Proust

Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure. -Thomas Edison

The quote from Proust reminds me of my glasses. Sometimes, I wish that my glasses could have windshield wipers because they always seem to get so smeary. I'm always walking around in a fog. However, when I clean them, everything always seem to look a little brighter. Kind of goofy, but these smudgy glasses certainly are a subtle reminder that how we view our surroundings depends on the lenses through which we gaze.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tell People that They Matter

Horizon has Impact on Wednesday nights. It is our student ministry for teenagers. Tonight, we talked about popularity, identity, and purpose.

During an animated and open conversation about living out God's purpose, one of the students made this comment.

Tell people that they matter.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I have a temper.

When things get
Out of my control,
I get angry.
I swear.
I get ugly.
(Are you tracking with me?)
I got angry.
I apologized.
I asked
"Are you
There once was this dude named John, John the Baptist. He was an interesting character. He prepared the Way. Check out these verses from the Message. "John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action." (Matthew 3:4-5)
Hear and see
In action.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

I recently spent a pleasant afternoon with extended family. It had been several weeks since the family had met together. Consequently, conversations were quite animated and diverse. However, one topic always seems to come up in these gatherings. Pets. More specifically, kitties. Everyone in my family has a pet. Most have cats.

Okay, I have a confession to make. Actually, if you know me at all, this is not really a confession.

I'm not crazy about pets. For those of you who have pets, please do not take offense. This is not a condemnation of pets or pet owners, it is merely a personal preference. In fact, I get along quite nicely with pets - particularly cats. Cats seem to enjoy air-petting. (1)

My kitty, Frank

Grandma loved cats.

I can still hear her shouting, "Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty," at feeding time. Perhaps shouting is not an appropriate word. She spoke with authority - as if she expected the kitties to come running to the feeding pans each day.

Grandma had farm cats.(2) I remember some names of their names, Yellow Ears, Yellow Tail, Yellow Eyes.

Grandma loved her cats. She welcomed them all. She cared for the lost, sick, old, and young cats. She fed the yellow, black, striped, grey, and white cats. She cooked for the cats. She named the cats. She was sad and concerned if a cat did not show up for dinner. When they came running, her lips broke into the most wonderful smile. Her eyes sparkled.

I think Jesus' eyes sparkle when we respond to his call.

Here, Toddy, Toddy, Toddy.

Here, Sally, Sally, Sally.

Here, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby.




He calls the sick, the lame, the lonely, the lost. He calls the tax collectors and the prostitutes.

He calls


He calls

(1) Air-pet; Function: verb; inflected form(s): air-petted, air-petting; date: 2004; (a) to treat as a pet, (b) to stroke in a gentle or loving way while maintaining four or more feet of free air space between self and pet; (c) specifically in reference to cats, to softly croon "precious kitty" while stroking as in (b)

(2) Farm cat; Function: noun; (a) any of a family of cats residing in or around barns, (b) any of a family of cats abandoned by others on the side of the road that wander to nearest barn and claim it as a new home, (c) any of a family of cats residing on farms and susceptible to mange, bad eyes, or injury related to farm equipment

P.S. Thanks Grandma. I love you.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Getting Started

Well, a friend of mine recently asked if I was interested in blogging. This is something that I have been interested in doing but just never took the dive. For now, the title of the blog is Keeping it Real. I'm not exactly sure why or what that even means. Maybe we'll find out. Stay tuned for thoughts, ideas, or perhaps a rant from time to time. I have included some great books and some interesting links. Try out the link. It is probably not what you are expecting.