Friday, May 30, 2008

stare decisis Part II

Last night, I wrote a bit about stare decisis. The thing about this doctrine is that there a precedents and future decisions are made based on these precedents. This gives stability. I tend to want stability. I want to know that an action will lead to a predictable consequence. I'd like to think that what I'm doing now will somehow influence where I am in 5, 25, 0r 50 years.

Last night, I opened up my devotional and, of course, there is another side of the story. Stare decisis deals with the tangible evidence, the things that we can see.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, "We live by faith, not by sight" (5:7).

Tiegreen writes, "But when the eyes of faith are open to the greater reality of God's Kingdom, the label of 'unstable' or even 'crazy' comes quickly."

Abandoning the stable for the unstable, the predictable for the unpredictable - now that's some scary stuff.

Imagine how the Supreme Court justices felt when they departed from precedent in Brown v. Board of Education. In Brown, the Supreme Court concluded that separate educational facilities for whites and blacks were inherently unequal. This decision departed from precedents that had existed and were reinforced for over 50 years!

I wonder what it would look like to live a revolutionay life... a life so filled with faith that others would consider me unstable or crazy.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

stare decisis

I really had the urge to take a few minutes to write. It has been one of those weeks. Taking a few minutes to write really helps me to think about what is going on around me. However, tonight, I sat down and stared at the screen - unable to come up with anything. Then, I looked down and one of my assignments from Fundamentals of Business Law was right in front of me. The phrase stare decisis jumped out from the page. Okay, I'll be honest, the only reason it jumped out from the page is because it is in italics. However, here is a quick intro into precedents and the doctrine of stare decisis.

A precedent is a decision that provides an example or authority for deciding subsequent, similar cases. This practice forms the doctrine of stare decisis. In a cases, a court determines that a principle applies to a certain set of facts. All future decisions by that court and courts of lower rank adhere to and apply that principle to cases having similar fact patterns. This doctrine provides stability and predictability to the legal process.

I don't know about you, but I have certain principles that I try to live by. These have evolved over time, but I try to apply them to situations - I try to learn from situations. Unlike law, however, the process rarely ends up being stable and predictable. Indeed, it almost seems like the more I try to predict what will happen or force a sense of stability, the crazier things get. Hmm, I'm not sure if this is a legitimate comparison, but it certainly is something I'll think about.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Follow-Up to the Not-Forgotten Boat

Two Sundays ago, I wrote about going with my buddy, Rusty, to look for mushrooms. Of course, after looking for one hour, we didn't find any and I ended up writing about the Not-Forgotten Boat. Earlier that day, my uncle and brother also looked for mushrooms - to no avail.

This past Sunday, I had headed out to the farm for lunch. As I opened the door, I was pleasantly surprised by the smell of mushrooms in the frying pan. Dad was preparing those delightful little morsels to accompany grilled pork chops. Of course, I asked, "Geez, when did you start finding the mushrooms?" Dad replied, with that sheepish grin, "Well, I found fifteen last Sunday." Fifteen! I couldn't believe it. After four other people looked for mushrooms and found zero, Dad ventured back and found fifteen.

Dad clearly, over time, has learned where to find the mushrooms. It was kind of goofy of us to expect to find mushrooms without paying any attention to Dad's instructions when we were younger. We didn't put in the effort in the past to reap the harvest now.

Dad, great job finding those mushrooms. You deserved it. By the way, thanks for sharing. They tasted great!

Monday, May 26, 2008

At The Parade

I forgot my camera or else there would be a picture of what I'm about to share. (Although, I have been told that my photography isn't very good, so maybe it is good that I forgot the camera!)

Today, I ventured out to a local Memorial Day Parade. (This was quite a feat because, for some reason, I just couldn't get going this morning. Do you ever just get to the point where you've gone, gone gone, and you just can't quite get motivated to go, go, go anymore? I passed the point of no return today and it was quite apparent in my poor reaction to a situation that occurred at Walgreens. Mom, I'm sorry, again. Okay, let's get back to the parade.) I was sitting with my cousins along the side of the road. We stood and clapped for the veterans. We watched firetrucks, cars, and and antique tractors drive by. We listened to the marching bands. Then, I saw something coming down the road. I did a double-take because it looked like a tower. My eyes were not deceiving me. One of the floats was a tower. As the tower approached, I saw four crosses protruding up from the corners of the tower and stained glass windows on the sides of the tower. I felt a little uneasy about this. There is no question that this church is an extremely beautiful structure. Indeed, each time I pass by this church, I admire its stately appearance. However, I wondered about what this particular float was honoring. Was it promoting a living, breathing body or a building?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's a beautiful morning

This morning, I awoke after a pleasant respite, ready to relax for a few hours - to enjoy the morning.

A friend recently game me this 6-cup expresso stove top coffee maker. She brought it back from the Dominican Republic. I put the coffee and water into the coffee maker and placed it onto the stove with the burner on high. In a few minutes, as the coffee maker began to percolate, the aroma began to waft through the kitchen - eventually permeating the room with the delicious smell of coffee. The aroma intermingled with the acrid odor of smoke - from last night's fire - still clinging to my skin and hair.

I grabbed a mug and filled it half-way with warmed milk. When steam ceased to emanate from the coffee maker, I filled the remainder of the mug with expresso - the white and black blending into a pleasant, chocolate-brown color - and proceeded to the front porch. As I sat down with my coffee and book, I was overwhelmed by the radiance of the sun beaming down on me - warming me even as the cool breeze grazed my bare arms and legs. The leaves rustled in the trees. Perhaps, wrestled is a better description as they frolicked in the wind - their friendly banter flooding my ears.

I sipped my coffee and read. I thought about life - actions, consequences, friends, foes, work, community, fears, failures, love, God, the past, and the future.

I felt a stirring of my soul.

Last night's fire

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It was windy again

So I bought this fire pit (see picture). (Actually, I made a comment to a good friend about wanting a fire pit. She did some great research and sent an email with some options. Conveniently, my brothers went to pick out a tux for my youngest brother to wear to prom. The tux place was right next to a Target. The fire pit was at Target. After a cell phone conversation, the fire pit somehow ended up at my doorstep. It is great how things work out sometimes.) Okay, back to the main story. My driveway extends from the street, through the carport, and all the way back to the alley. When I started to entertain the possibility of purchasing a fire pit, my immediate plan was to place the fire pit between the carport and the alley. Why? Well, the driveway is flat between the carport and the alley and it is furthest from the street. It really seemed like a great place for a fire pit. Last night, I lit the the fire early and then sat by the fire and read. It was quite windy. Of course, the smoke from the fire blew right through the door into the kitchen. When, I went into grab a cup of water, I was taken aback by the smell of smoke in the house. Okay, so this probably isn't the greatest place to have the fire pit. When Rusty arrived, we carried it down to the portion of the driveway between the street and carport. This part of the driveway is not flat. Instead, it slopes up to the carport. Also, it is closer to the street. It certainly didn't seem like the ideal place for a fire pit. Well, I quickly learned that this was the right place to be. People stopped by to hang out at the fire. We waved and said hi to people who were walking by. Neighbor kids stopped by to play. It was great. You see, part of this was a positioning thing. We could have kept the fire back away from the road, away from the action. Instead, we carried the fire right out to the front-lines. By the way, how did that guy end up in the tree? Why do ice cream truck seem like magnets?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesdays@2 Update

Today was the second installment of Tuesdays @ 2. The topic was electrolysis in industrial applications. We discussed electrolytic degreasing and electroplating. I was really blown away by the questions that my colleagues asked.

For example,

1. What is actually in the solution?
2. How does the current stay in the tank?
3. How many passes does the wire make through the bath?
4. What happens when you slow down or speed up the line?
5. How many micro-inches are on light-micron tin?

I am really excited about the enthusiasm that my colleagues have had for the first two of these seminars. Their enthusiasm is contagious. I'm starting to wonder what it would look like if the enthusiasm spreads. That might be scary.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Not-Forgotten Boat

I remember hiking through our family's woods with my dad. When I was younger, I remember thinking that the trees just seemed so tall. We would hunt for mushrooms or work on building our fort, Camp Threestones. The camp, of course, was named after the three large rocks that comprised the footprint of the camp.

Right in the center of the woods, there is a little pond. One day, Dad said that we could make a boat and take it back to the woods. I remember the boat. It was made up of two 55 gallons drums welded together and placed on their sides. We had a platform with a railing on top of the drums. One day, Dad said that we could take the boat back to the pond in the woods. I was so excited to have my very own boat. We put the boat in the bucket of our loader tractor and proceeded to take back the lane to the woods. At the woods, we entered onto the largest trail and started back towards the pond. We had to move some fallen limbs from the trail. Finally, we reached the pond.

Dad lowered the bucket and placed the boat in the pond. At this point, it was difficult to contain my excitement. I jumped up on the boat and started to row with an improvised oar. I immediately realized something was wrong.

The boat did not move.

It stayed right where it was.

You see, the pond was not deep enough to accommodate the boat.

Today, my buddy, Rusty, and I went to look for mushrooms in the woods. We approached the pond and saw the boat.

It has never moved.

The platform and the railing that once seemed so cool have rotted away.

The drums are discolored with rust.

My boat.

By the way, Camp Threestones has also rotted away. I wasn't even sure of the location anymore.

Okay, I'm crying right now as write this. I'm not exactly sure why, but the tears are dripping done my face and my nose is stuffy.

I wonder if this is how the writer of Ecclesiastes felt when he wrote:

"Then I took a good look at everything I'd done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it.

Nothing." (2:11, The Message)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Dreaded Hymn

Trent shared some insights with FCS today. He talked about needing to be the church - to take the church to others. We certainly tend to flip this around and expect (how bold of us?) people to come to church. I liked how Trent said it. "We need to go over and meet people instead of saying come over to us... We need to get out of our comfort zones."

A hymn has been stuck in my head for about two weeks now. I really don't know why because I haven't sung it in probably 5-6 years. In fact, I really don't like the song. We used to sing it practically every Sunday at the church I attended while in college. I always used to think that I disliked the tune. However, since it has been stuck in my head so long, I actually starting thinking about the words. I finally realized the true reason why I hate this song.

If you happen to have a United Methodist Hymnal nearby, please turn to page 558 and join in singing...

"I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together."

Now hold on one minute.

I don't see anything in this refrain about church buildings, altars, pulpits, or pastors. I don't see anything in this refrain about steeples, billboards with goofy phrases, church programming, multi-media productions, or great songs.

It doesn't get much better as we continue singing the verses.

See vs 1: "the church is not a resting place"

What? If it is not a resting place, does it mean that we have to work?

See vs 3: "sometimes it's [the church] bravely burning"

BRAVELY BURNING? Is this some kind of sick joke? You mean this could be dangerous business?

See vs 4: "there's laughing and there's crying"

Crying? Isn't church supposed to be all about making people happy? Well, let's face it... making me happy?

It doesn't get much better in verse 5. Check it out if you have a chance.

And of course the song rounds out with one more rousing refrain:

"I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together!"

I sure didn't have a clue when I sang this over and over again back during the college years.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Plan Bs

I read something last night that really shocked me. In fact, I don't know exactly what it means yet - haven't unpacked it yet.

Tiegreen writes, in Walk with God, "We are to give up our own strategies and ambitions, to relinquish all "Plan Bs," to recklessly, irrevocably cast ourselves completely into his arms."

I have always striven to have Plan Bs, back-ups plans, Todd plans. In fact, I probably take pride in having back-up plans.

What does it mean to give up Plan Bs?

What does it mean to recklessly cast ourselves completely into his arms?

What does it mean to trust God with reckless abandon?

What does all this mean in our day-to-day lives?

I'm not totally sure, but it sure sounds great!

Tuesdays @ 2

Do you ever have an idea that you are so excited about that you can't stop thinking about it?

Last Friday, at about 11:oo AM, an idea started percolating up through the fog of the morning. Ironically, I was almost on my way out the door because I was taking a half-day. By 11:15 AM, the idea had pretty much developed into something tangible: Tuesdays @ 2.

Tuesdays @ 2 is a pilot program. I have set up several mini-courses on various topic in the wire fabricating process. My initial thought was to keep attendance narrowed to the three individuals that I was planning on training. However, it occurred to me that others in the organization might be interested in attending as well.

So on Friday, I debated with myself for about 10 minutes before deciding to give it a shot and then sent an email out to a few of the higher-ups in our organization. I was out the door by 11:30 AM and had a nice afternoon.

Today, we had the kick-off course and their were ten people in attendance! Feedback was very positive and I'm looking forward to next week's demonstration of electrolysis in industrial applications.

The goals of Tuesdays @ 2 are:

1) To provide relevant opportunities for employee development
2) To open lines of communication between various disciplines within the organization
3) To encourage thinking "outside-of-the-box"
4) To encourage "iron sharpening of iron"

I have now idea how this pilot program will progress. However, it certainly is exciting to try something different.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ambassadors of Hope

At the 2008 Scholarship Dinner

Okay, so here's how it went down. Yesterday morning, after 3 hours of sleep, I woke up at 4:00 AM in a hotel room in Merrillville. This phrase, ambassadors of hope, was moving 100 mph around the racetrack of my mind. This phrase is by no means original to me and I have no idea where it finds its origins. However, I was just so overwhelmed by this phrase and filled with a sense of excitement and joy. You see, it occurred to me that I had been in the presence of so many ambassadors of hope during the previous night's event. I was also filled with a sense of anticipation about seeing other ambassadors in action throughout the remainder of the day and into the evening. Then, I started thinking about an email from Friday and, you guessed it, he's an ambassador of hope, too.

Who are these people?
  • A guy who voluntarily takes a bunch of 8th & 9th grade guys on a retreat to his parent's lake cabin. Note the italics on voluntarily. Some people might this this guy is crazy, but I bet those students would disagree.
  • Pumas who graciously offer scholarship money to students. Having been on the receiving end of this money only a few short years ago, I can personally attest to the hope that this assistance offers to students.
  • A community that is truly better together. When all the food was tallied, the 14th Annual Letter Carrier Food Drive broke the record for most lbs of food received.
  • A small group anticipating future trips to the Dominican Republic. The creative juices are flowing as this group contemplates spending time with friends, a medical clinic, an expansion, and future projects.

2008 Letter Carriers Food Drive

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Follow-up to btheremedy

Normally, I do not send out mass emails. However, Trent came up with some great graphics to send out in emails to promote One of the emails ended up in a co-worker's inbox. Today, she told me that her daughter was so excited about the food drive that she was raiding the cabinets. The daughter was so passionate about getting food that her dad finally said, "We might as well go buy some food." While this was quite inspiring, it is not the end of the story. In fact, this girl picked up the phone and called her grandma to make sure that she put out food, too. Wow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

New Books

I started reading Fundamental of Business Law over the weekend for a class that starts next week. I have to confess that it is actually pretty interesting. I really enjoyed the chapter on business ethics. We'll see about the rest of the book.

I was able to pick up this little red book today entitled, Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots and of our Church Practices. I am very excited to dive into this book. As I have been reading through parts of the New Testament, one of the questions that I have been asking lately is how does the contemporary church compare to the early church? I'm by no means an expert, but am not seeing any references to pews, pulpits, or steeples.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Conflicting Emotions

Wow, it sure was a beautiful day today. Spring is in the air! Holly and I went on a hike at Potato Creek State Park this morning. As we hiked further into the park, it was amazing to experience silence. The trees were starting to fill in with green. The wildflowers were coming into bloom. I also headed out on my bike this afternoon and had a wonderful ride. The weird thing is that, despite experiencing all of this beauty, I have these conflicting emotions...

Hope and despair

Joy and desolation

Peace and unrest

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hangin' out at Subway

This evening, I hopped on my bicycle and made the trek down to the local Subway. When making this journey, I prefer to take the side streets. The main street of this bustling community can be a little scary at certain times of the day. Anyway, I walked into Subway and was greeted with a "Hey Todd." (Is this a symptom of going to Subway too often? )

Caleb commented, "I'll get the letters for you a in a minute."

"The letters?" you ask.

(Have you ever wanted to change the letters on a road-side sign? You know, those signs with the letters that spell out the latest, greatest deal.)

A few minutes later, Caleb brought out the letters and I began piecing together a message to put up on the sign. Picking out a message was difficult. Why? Because, the message depends on the letters that are available. After exploring a few combinations of letters and adding some electrical tape in strategic locations, I had the message picked out.

Meanwhile, one of the employees from Copperfield stopped in to purchase a sandwich.

He asked, "Is this your second job?"

"Well, no," I replied, "just picking out some letters for a message."

During a brief lull in business (the 12-in sandwich for $5 is a hot item), Caleb stepped out to check on my progress of picking out a letters for the message.

"Do you want me to get the ladder?" he asked.

"Ladder?" I thought.

"Yeah, you can put up the letters."


They actually had a special ladder for putting up the letters. It attached right to the sign. So, I pulled up my shorts (forgot to put on a belt) and headed up the ladder with the letters.

After removing some letters, moving some letters, and adding some new letters, HAVE YOU TRIED OUR FLATBREAD transformed into LETTER CARRIER FOOD DRIVE MAY 10.

Thanks to my friends at Subway.

You guys rock!