Friday, January 29, 2010

Cosmic Peekaboo


The photo might appear to be Mercury coming around a filtered photo of the Sun. Rather, it is a shot of one of Saturn's smaller moons, Tethys, coming out from behind Saturn's largest moon, Titan. If Titan appears hazy to you, it is because it is -- it is the only moon or satellite in the solar system to have a dense atmosphere. I thought it was a cool shot of a "rocky" moon juxtaposed against the "hazy" moon. Blessings,


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kinzi's a Cool Cat


It's just a bit surreal for me tonight watching our young friend, Kinzi Poteet, from Grandview, WA playing basketball for Boise State on ESPNU. It just takes me back (to what seems like yesterday) when we moved to Grandview in '98 and she was a feisty little second grader who wouldn't take any of my guff. She would pick right back at me...just as she did last summer when I saw her, so some things never change. :-) I just wanted to write this to give her a shout out to say that I am proud of her accomplishments as a Freshman and hope that she has a wonderful four year career for the Broncos. Go Kinzi! Blessings,


Monday, January 25, 2010

Archie's Dilemma


Well...the suspense is over. We now know that it is going to be the Saints and Colts in the upcoming Super Bowl XLIV (44 if you're like me...I prefer Greek, not Roman :-). Personally, I believe the two teams that should be there...are there. I don't think anyone expected the Cardinals to get to last year's Super Bowl, and it is hard not to want to root for the underdog (which I did). This year's version would have been the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets...except they had the misfortune of running into the hottest QB in the NFL at this point in time -- Archie's kid. Peyton Manning seems to be on a mission, and he could very well accomplish it...most people seem to believe he will. I am thankful that the two regular season favorites will be battling it out. We could only hope for a game as close as the NFC Championship.

Yet, all of this makes me think about Peyton's dad, Archie Manning, the man who paved the way for gutsy, scrambling quarterbacks. Archie was Brett Favre and Fran Tarkenton rolled onto one. He played on perpetually awful teams in New Orleans in the late 60s and 70s. He would routinely get knocked Favre did yesterday at the hands of the Saints biosterous defense. But, Archie was the Saints. He owned Louisiana...and, in many ways, he still does as perhaps the state's greatest icon and spokesman. I would like to get into Archie's head right now. I am sure that I will have the opportunity, as nearly every sports talking head is going to be talking to him over the next two weeks, wanting to know what he is thinking. Archie is in a unique position in that his son's team is playing his team. This has to be creating some sort of conflict inside of him. For the first time in their history, his team, the Saints have finally made it to the Super Bowl. They were one of five teams not ever to have played in a Super Bowl, the others being the Lions, Browns, Titans and Jaguars. So, I am sure a part of him is pulling for the Saints. But...he has to be rooting for his son. I am certain that he wants to see his son win another Super bowl. So...what are the odds, though -- 51-49% for Peyton vs Saints? 60-40? We'll probably never know. But, we do know one thing for certain -- Archie is going to be a winner. Blessings,


Friday, January 22, 2010

The Lord's Prayer...Revisited


An interesting, satirical perspective...

Blessings, Don


Our Father, who art in Heaven. Yes? Don't interrupt me...I'm praying. But you called Me. Called you? I didn't call you. I'm praying -- Our Father who art in Heaven. There, you did it again. Did what? You called Me. You said, "Our Father who art in Heaven… " Here I am. What's on your mind? But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like getting my duty done. Okay…go on.

Hallowed be thy name. Hold it. What do you mean by that? By what? By… "Hallowed be thy name." It means....good grief, I don't know what it means. How should I know? It's just part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean? It means "honored," "Holy," "Wonderful." Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what "Hallowed" meant before.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Do you really mean that? Sure, why not? What are you going to do about it? Do? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be neat if you got control of everything down here like you have up there. Have I got control of you? Well, I go to church. That isn't what I asked you. What about that habit of lust you have? And your bad temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money...all on yourself. And what about the kinds of books you read? Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those phonies at the church. Excuse me...I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it -- like you, for example. Oh, all right! I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others. I haven't thought about it until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I'd like to, you know, be really free. Good, now we're getting somewhere. We'll work and I can have some victories that can truly be won. I'm proud of you.

Look, Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does -- Give us this day our daily bread. You need to cut down on the bread're overweight as it is. Hey, wait a minute! What is this, "Criticize Me Day?" Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden, You break in and remind me of all my hang-ups. Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know. That's what I'm trying to get across to you. You called me, and here I am. It's too late to stop now. Keep on praying. I'm interested in the next part of your prayer. Well…go on.

I'm afraid to. Afraid? Of what? I know what you'll say. Try Me and see. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. What about Sally? See I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why she's told lies about me…cheated me out of money. She never paid back that debt she owes me. I've sworn to get even. But your prayer...what about your prayer? I didn't mean it. Well, at least you're honest. But it's not much fun carrying the load of bitterness around inside is it? No, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even. You won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. Think of how unhappy you are already. But I can change all that. You can? How? Forgive Sally…then I'll forgive you. Then the hate and sin will be Sally's problem and not yours. You may lose the money, but you will settle your heart. But Lord, I can't forgive Sally. Then I can't forgive you. Oh, you're right! You are always right. And more than I want revenge on Sally, I want to be right with You. All right! I forgive her.

You're not through with your prayer…go on. Oh, all right -- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Good...good. I'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you can be tempted. What do you mean by that? Quit hanging around the wrong places, watching inappropriate movies and television, listening to sinful conversations; getting into compromising situations. Change some of your friendships. Some of your so-called friends are beginning to get to you. They'll have you completely involved in wrong things before long. Don't be fooled. They advertise they're having fun, but for you it would be ruin. Don't use me for an escape hatch. I don't understand. Sure you do. You've done it lots of times. You get caught in a bad situation, you get into trouble and then you come running to me. "Lord, help me out of this mess, and I promise you I'll never do it again." You remember some of those bargains you tried to make with me? Yes, and I'm ashamed, Lord…I really am. Up until now I thought if I just prayed the Lord's Prayer everyday, then I could do what I liked. I didn't expect anything to happen like it did.

Go ahead…finish your prayer. Oh yes -- For Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever and forever. Amen. Do you know what would bring me glory...what would make me really happy? No, but I'd like to know. I want to please You. I can see what a mess I've made out of my life, and I can see how great it would be to really be one of Your followers. You just answered the question. I did? Yes, the one thing that would bring me glory is to have people like you truly love me. And I can see that happening between us. Now that some of these old sins are exposed and out of the way, well, there's no telling what we can do together. Lord, let's see what we can make of me, ok? Yes, let's see...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lift off!


A cool picture of the space shuttle, Atlantis, lifting off and heading for the International Space Station about 9 years ago...

Blessings, Don

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beware of the Visitors


Not talking the sci-fi series, here, but NFL divisional playoffs. This is always one of the best weekends of football every year...even if it occurs mid-January, instead of mid-December as when I was a young 'un. I really like the visiting teams this weekend for a variety of reasons. I am not saying that they are all going to win, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if they did.

I will start with the Jets -- even though I think they have the least chance of moving on...they have been on a roll, thanks in part to the Colts and Bengals over the past few weeks. As they say, anytime you can run the ball and play defense, you have a chance...and the Jets do both of these as well as anyone. Plus, they have Mr. Confidence coaching them, Rex Ryan. I love Rex's friendly bravado...wish there were more coaches like him. Not only has he told his team to prepare for a Super Bowl parade...he has them believing in his message. I think that they would have an even better chance if the Chargers had taken off weeks 16, 17 of the season, but the Chargers, unlike the Colts, thought there was too much to lose. Sure, they rested a little at the end of the season, and had this past week off, but the Jets are going to give the team with an eleven game winning streak all they can handle, even though the Chargers will likely win.

Working through the other AFC game, the Ravens are also on a roll after thumping the Patriots at their home last weekend. Like the Jets, the Ravens can run the ball and play good defense. This is important against the team that has Peyton Manning as its QB. You don't want the Colts on the field, and the best way to keep them off of it is to chew up the clock, so they will need to run, run, run Rice and McGahee. The Colts have been knocked out of the playoffs early the past two years by the Chargers. I don't think that resting players is a great idea, and it does not seem to have worked for the Colts, as with too much time off, they get rusty. In addition...Peyton, as great of a regular season QB that he has been, just has not been very good in the playoffs. The one exception is the one year that they won the Super Bowl, and he was really just marginal that year, as well. So, I will take the Ravens, here.

The Cardinals got a huge game from Kurt Warner last week against the Packers, one of the great playoff QBs of this generation. He just knows how to win, having taken the Cards to the Super Bowl last year. Remember, this was the team that no one gave a prayer to winning even one playoff game last year. In fact, the Cardinals had not done anything significant in their history until last year. The Saints ended the year in a slump, having lost three in a row. The two week break may have done more them to get banged up players healthy than any other team...and they are a very dangerous team, offensively. The big problem with the Saints was their defense the last half of the year. They lost a couple of key players, and this could be a problem. I believe that this is going to be a high scoring game...and I am going with the experienced QB -- Cardinals to move on.

Last, but certainly not least, the Cowboys come into the playoffs with perhaps the most momentum. They dispatched the once-mighty Eagles twice in the past two weeks. They were finally able to get the monkey off their back...having heard for way too long that they had not won a playoff game in over a dozen years. I am happy for Wade Phillips and Tony Romo who were able to silence many of their critics. This is the most intriguing game of the weekend to me, as the Vikings are going to be tough. Tough is the definition for their future hall of fame QB, Brett Favre. I don't know how one can bet against this guy after the year that he has had...all time bests in a number of categories -- not bad for a fellow who is 40 and doing things that no one else has done playing at his age. Favre has struggled in the playoffs in his career, as well. He is 0 for the playoffs against the Cowboys. I think that he is going to struggle against the Cowboys fearsome pass rush. Likewise, I think that Romo is going to have it tough against the Vikings "D". It will probably come down to who runs the ball better...and I trust the Cowboys trio here more than do A.P. So, we'll see, but I am taking the Cowboys. Happy watching. Blessings,



Addendum -
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha...nevermind this post. What kind of dingbat would go with the visitors? :-) The Jets will probably win just to spite me, so I would be 0-4...consistency is a good thing...

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Saturn Shot


Here is a picture of the planet Saturn. Below and to the right, the small moon Rhea travels across the face. The rings are very thin from this angle, taken by the Cassini spacecraft last Fall.

Blessings, Don

Thursday, January 7, 2010

So long Mr. Snappy


It is with some sadness, but great respect that I acknowledge the retirement of Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson from Major League Baseball. Johnson pitched for 22 years in the big leagues for the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants. He was well known, not only as one for the most feared pitchers in baseball history, but also for his frequently grumpy persona that contributed to his intimidation factor. Standing 6'10" tall, it was almost like Johnson was practically reaching out half-way to home plate. I cannot recall all of Johnson's stats, but among the most important -- he finished with 303 victories, a no-hitter, five Cy Young awards...second only to Roger Clemens' seven (which now is tainted)...and he was second all-time in strikeouts behind Nolan Ryan. He is seen as somewhere between the first to third best left-handed pitcher of all-time, and probably top-ten overall.

Johnson started out as a wild man who couldn't locate any of his pitches with any regularity. But, once he came to Seattle, he developed what he called "Mr Snappy"...a wicked slider that broke radically in and down on right-handed hitters and away from left-handed hitters. When he was "on," it was unhittable. This 85+mph pitch, along with an up to 100 mph fastball, and the menacing glare made Johnson the most feared pitcher for a generation. Johnson carried the Mariners pitching throughout the 90s, and he, along with Curt Schilling, led the D-backs to the 2001 World Series over the Yankees -- a terrific moment in baseball history. During that series, Johnson was 3-0, and pitched in relief in the decisive game 7. He finished last year with the Giants, but at age 46 (which is Methuselah for MLB pitchers), his back was wearing out, and he had other health concerns related to 22 years of pitching. His longevity was very impressive for a man so tall, and his toughness...some would say meanness...was legendary. I hope he enjoys his retirement, but there will probably not be another pitcher like him for a long time...if ever. Blessings,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brit's Faith


Brit Hume of Fox News spoke out recently in order to encourage Tiger Woods to seek Jesus, and that he would find answers for his life situation. This is true, certainly, in multiple respects. He also shared that Jesus would offer him something that Buddhism would not. I am not going offer comment on all that was said or not said or could have been said differently by Mr. Hume...the subject has been hashed and rehashed in the media. Two thoughts, though -- Brit Hume has been ripped by many in the media for what he has said, and this unfortunate, but not surprising. Once again, we can see that "the world" currently is tolerant of any religious views proposed or defended by certain individuals...except for Christianity, of course. The second thought is to offer praise to Mr. Hume for being willing to take a stand for the a public forum. He probably knew it would bring persecution, which it did, but I hope that this whole situation will help him continue to grow in his faith (see Matthew 5:11-12). He sets a good example for all who believe. Kudos to him, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and others who are not afraid to speak openly about their faith in Christ...something that was a regular occurrence just a few short decades ago, but now is taboo. Blessings,


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- 2009 NFL Week 17


Week 17 Update...
The Good: Cowboys ("D" has two shutouts in a row of division opponents...good time to be peaking); Chargers (11 wins in a row); Pats (No Welker is going to hurt in the playoffs); Vikings (Sliding Giants are good medicine); Packers (Whip the Cards in round 1...we'll see how they do in round 2 -- I say they will win again); Panthers (Tell me again...why wasn't Matt Moore the starting QB all year?); Texans (4 wins in a row to close...too little too late); Jamaal Charles (Runs all over the Donkeys); Amanda Banana Girl (FFL Champ)

The Bad: Eagles (Always love it when I can put them on the "bad list"...hope we can keep them here for one more game); Colts (Coasting into the playoffs -- will it work? Probably); Saints (Unlike the coasting Colts, the Saints are just plain struggling...need to get back to establishing the run); Bills (Benefit from the coasting Colts, but are looking for a new coach...again -- can Marv Levy come back?); Donkeys (Strong "D'" early in the season was leaky as a 40 year old roof...late); Seahawks (Too many injuries...)

The Ugly: J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets (The only reason they are here is for winning ugly...two games they probably would have lost under different circumstances -- great "D" and RB's however); Giants (Have earned a trip to "ugly" thanks to a non-existent "D"...funny, this was supposed to be the best "D" front of all time); Bengals (Rolled over like a opossum vs the Jets); Skinned (Looks like Shanny, presumably, will have his work cut out for him); Lambs (Say hello to Suh); Lions (Maybe Matt can play the whole season next year...and the Lions can double their wins to 4); "Commitment to Excellence" Team (A once proud is pathetic)

The Strange Development Award: Three back-to-backs in this week's playoffs -- Cowboys/Eagles, Packers/Cards, Jets/Bengals all play each other for the second week in a row

Super Bowl: Cowboys vs. Chargers
Stupor Bowl: Lambs vs. Rudders


Friday, January 1, 2010

Building a Palace


As we come to the beginning of a new year, here are some words to consider by the great writer C.S. Lewis...

I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted him to do, and we should be obliged if he would leave us alone. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what he intended us to be when he made us...

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of -- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but he is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (London: William Collins, 1970), 172.