Thursday, September 30, 2010
Well...these are not exactly space shots, but they are wonderful pictures by my friend Mike Carpenter at the annual Prosser, WA balloon rally. We had the opportunity to go assist with one of the balloons one year and it was a blast. However, I did come to a stark conclusion -- when the balloon we were chasing was trying to come down in a field and was going to miss it, I tried to slow it down by grabbing on to a drag cable -- ha ha! I ended up getting dragged alright...for about 30 yards, and the funny, memorable experience provided a few scrapes and bruises, but it was great fun. We did end up getting it down in a field a few hundred yards away. Anyway...a couple of pics to appreciate...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
It was a game they had to win. It is hard to believe that the Dallas Cowboys were staring at some serious trouble (potential to go 0-3) in week 3, but that is preceisely where they were coming into their game against the Houston Texans. Yet, their defense was ready for the task and played as they were supposed to play...they shut down the Texans excellent offense to win 27-13. It didn't hurt that Marion Barber and the running game showed up for the first time this year, either. We'll see if this is the real Cowboys team or if week three was a one hit wonder. I believe that the former will prove to be true.
What is up with the NFC West? It was supposed to be a baaad division...and it is. :-) But, who would have thought the 49ers and Cardinals would be the teams that would be downtrodden and that the Seahawks and Rams would be showing some promise. Seattle beat San Diego, who was supposed to be a strong contender this year and the Rams thumped the Redskins. It will be interesting to see if it holds...we will find out more about Seattle and St. Louis as they face off this week for the first of their two division games. A special note of wonder and appreciation for Leon Washington of the Seahawks. He blew out his knee with the Jets last year, but Sunday ran back two 100 yard kickoff returns. I guess Mr Washington is back...good for him. Meanwhile, this was supposed to be the year that Mike Singletary's crew would rise up and seize this hapless division, but they appear to be the same team of turmoil that they have been for over a decade now.
Whodathunk the Chiefs would be undefeated and on top of the AFC West...or the same for the Bears in the NFC North. But, the real surprise to me is...hold on to your hat...that the Steelers are undefeated and on top of the AFC North(?). We knew the Steelers were going to be their fearsome defensive selves with Polamalu back...but they have won with a different starting QB every week, I believe. This is amazing! What will happen when Big (Formerly Bad) Ben comes back? It could be a big year for the Steel crew.
Speaking of formerly bad...the NFL story of the year and player of the year to this point has to be Michael Vick. He has energized the Eagles (2-1) with amazing play (unfortunately for a Cowboy fan), so I have to tip my hat to him. It also puts off the opportunity for Stephenville resident, Kevin Kolb, to take over the QB helm of Andy Reid's team. He has been a good, supportive trooper for Vick and the team, so hats off to him as well. However, I won't mind if the Eagles lose both of their games to Wade's bunch. :-)
Monday, September 27, 2010
Some thoughts from “Learning from Living.”
If a child lives with criticism…he learns to condemn;
If a child lives with hostility…he learns to fight;
If a child lives with ridicule…he learns to be shy;
If a child lives with shame…he learns to feel guilty;
If a child lives with forbearance…he learns to be patient;
If a child lives with praise…he learns to appreciate;
If a child lives with security…he learns to have faith;
If a child lives with approval…he learns to like himself;
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship…he learns to find love in the world.
When Jesus wanted to describe to His disciples those who would enter into the kingdom of heaven, He brought some little children into His midst. Those who would enter the kingdom should become innocent as little children are innocent (Matthew 18:1-6). Just a short time later, Jesus is still with the disciples and again some children are brought into Jesus’ midst in order that He would pray for them (Matthew 19:13-15). Yet, the disciples rebuke those who brought the children, as if to say -- Jesus is too busy and important for such trivial things. The disciples obviously did not learn from the earlier situation concerning the importance of children and what it is to be innocent. Jesus reaffirms that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. I believe that this is one of the most critical of spiritual realities -- innocence. And this is not to be naïve or gullible, but to be fully and completely submitted to God’s will as His child! As we learn and grow, we learn to invest in love, submission, grace and maturity. We are never going to be sinless people, but we must be humble people…and if we are, then we can and will be blameless, because we are living according to God’s will. If we have truly been made right in our relationship with our Father, through the blood of our brother, His Son, then we can and will be innocent like the little children that Jesus called to Himself...for the kingdom of God is for such as these!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I hear a lot of emotions from Cowboys fans from apathy to concern to panic. I am not ready to throw in the towel on 2010 just yet, even though they are 0-2, but...the road doesn't get any easier after they were picked apart by Jay Cut-it-out-ler and the Bears offense in week 2. Now, they are going up against Matt Schaub and the Texans...whose offense has made the Bears look like some minor league offering. So...to say this is a test for Wade's gang is a significant understatement. If the Cowboys were to fall to 0-3, with a bye week in week four, it may be time to panic...especially with the rumors of a coaching staff house-cleaning. (I wish Jerry would just drop the facade and come down to the sideline and do what he's been doing for 20 years anyway -- coach the team...actually, a little facetiousness there). If Jones does clean house at 0-3, it would truly get interesting then...who would take over? Who knows...but, this is not exactly how the 'Boys envisioned their road to a home Super Bowl.
Texas' other team, the Texans, needed a big comeback and overtime to beat the Washington Shanahans. This could be construed as a good sign or a bad sign...but, if your team goes from a 200+ yard performance from your lead RB one week to a near 500 yard throwing day the next week, the Texans may need to find a better offensive balance. (A little disclaimer here -- Matt Schaub is my fantasy football QB, so from a personal standpoint, I really can't complain about the 497 passing yards and 3 touchdowns :-).
Another big story from week two has to be the quarterback changes by several teams. The Oakland Raiders have apparently already bailed on prize recruit, Jason Campbell, whom Al Davis said was going to be "the second coming of Jim Plunkett." They pulled an ineffective Campbell out of their game against the lowly Rams last week and inserted enthusiastic Bruce Gradkowski, whom last year...and apparently this year...has been able to light a fire under the Raiders hapless offense. We'll see if Gradkowski lasts, as last year he proved to be fragile and was knocked out with an injury. The Browns went with Seneca Wallace who played decent, but he was reportedly in for starter Jake Delhomme because of injury. We'll see if Wallace plays well enough to keep the job. This is apparently, precisely, what has happened in Philadelphia, as coach Andy Reid has chosen to go with Mike Vick as his starter, even though Kevin Kolb (who was anointed starter at the beginniing of the year) is back from a concussion and reasonably healthy. Vick is one of the top five rated QBs in the NFL so far this season, so it has created some QB controversy. The adage used to be that a starter could not lose his job because of an injury, but in the past few years, this philosophy has gone by the wayside. There is just too much money and there are too many other competitive issues for this to take place anymore. Jeff Fisher and the Titans annual benching of Vince Young didn't take long, but hopefully it will be brief for Tennessee's sake, as they really are a better team with Young, rather than Kerry Collins. C'mon, Vince...get your head back in the game again. Finally, it would appear that the Jimmy Clausen era in Carolina is ready to begin. Clausen came in for an ineffective Mat Moore in week 2, and it appears that Clausen is going to get the nod...not that it appears that the Panthers are going to do much this year. We'll see...
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I have "stumbled" (pun somewhat intended :-) upon an interesting analogy concerning life. In a time when I was much younger, for my junior and senior high school years, I was involved in track and field as a sprinter. I enjoyed running the 100 and 200 meter dashes as well as the 400 meter relay. There was nothing much more enjoyable than taking a baton handoff from a teammate and racing for the good of the four man relay team, particularly, and the greater team, in general. It was especially sweet if I was running the anchor leg and had the opportunity for my chest to hit the ribbon at the finish line. There was nothing like the wind flowing through my hair, both literally and figuratively...now, that doesn't happen so much -- literally or figuratively. lol My personality as a young 'un was much like that of a sprinter...I was more impatient, took more risks, "crashed" more, and could go go go for short periods of time...but, then be wiped out.
The fascinating analogy for me now is that I have allowed a friend of mine to talk me into running a 5K in a couple of months. Whereas, when I was younger, this would completely go against my grain...not only as a sprinter, but of my "sprinter's personality"...now, it is not only more acceptable to go the 5k distance, it is also more pleasing to me personally. What I have learned as I have moved into middle age is to pace myself. Whereas I used to be inconsistent and variable as the sprinter, I believe that my life has become more consistent and steady like that of the distance runner. Don't get me wrong, there are still times when I like to kick up a good sprint while running...but, personally, I have learned the value of Paul's anaology concerning running the race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Some of the lessons I have learned as the distance runner -- there are fewer opportunities to be disqualified from the race for the distance runner than for the sprinter. This would appear to be so on the track, as well as in life. There is great value for us if, like the distance runner, we learn to pace ourselves in life...to become better balanced. Not only this, we cannot be on and off like the sprinter...spiritually, but we must spiritually run the race, consistently, with eternity in view. As we learn in Revelation (2:10), the Lord says to those who are in the church at Ephesus -- "Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life." If we plan for the long haul, practically and spiritually, we will reap great benefits.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Some friends, my son and I had the opportunity to attend a football game last evening matching the #1 5A football team in the nation, Abilene High Eagles, and the #2 ranked Plant (FL) Panthers. One of my buddies graduated from Abilene High and thought it would be fun to go take in this nationally televised game (on ESPNU). I am happy to say that the game was worth every cent. Abilene was down 17-7 with a couple of minutes left in the first half, but after a long kickoff return, were able to score in one 5 tackle-breaking play by one strong wide receiver. The Eagles simply controlled the ball the second half and came from behind for a 27-17 win. An couple of interesting side notes -- Plant had won 18 games in a row, including rolling through the playoffs to the FL 5A state championship last season...but, lightning quick Eagles QB, Ronnell Sims, stole the show with 161 yards on 11 carries to put an end to that winning streak. He practically, single-handedly controlled the game...and he was fun to watch. On the Panthers side was James Wilder Jr...yes, he of that James Wilder, the former running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions in the 1980s. Needless to say, the 6'2", 220 lb bruiser's talent was apparent...and he is slated to go play running back at the University of Georgia. There are probably not going to be too many opportunities to watch that kind of high school talent, but it was fun to go for this one time. It was just a glorious day and sporting event...and I would do it again in a moment. :-)
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
There are a few matters that stand out for me from the first week of the NFL season. First, the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets, have been clamoring for attention for the past several months in the media and via their coach Rex Ryan. This seems to be a case of "be careful what you ask for," as the Jets were terrible last night against the Ravens. So...now they are having the same media bite them back, as the media tends to do. Many Super Bowl predictions and other bravado is going to need to be upheld on the field of play. There were a number of significant injuries this past weekend, among them...Ryan Grant, the Packers star RB, appears to be out for the year, as well as Kris Jenkins, the Jets great NT. I feel particularly bad for Jenkins, as he was knocked out for the 2009 season with a torn ACL in his left knee in week six...and now, he just had a tear in the same knee. It is going to be tough for Jenkins, a nine year veteran, to come back again...although, I am pulling for him.
I actually had the Chiefs upsetting the Chargers last night on my picks, as I believe they have some good talent that is starting to mature...not to mention the "Patriots West" coordinators, Charlie Weis for the offense and Romeo Crennel for the defense. The Chargers, on the other hand, would do well to get star receiver, Vincent Jackson back with the team. The Chiefs double and triple teamed All Pro TE Antonio Gates, and there really was no other "go to guy" for the Chargers passing game. The Houston Texans finally got the monkey off of their back by beating Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 34-24...only their second win against the Colts in their seventeen game history against them. Hopefully, this will be a confidence boost that will parlay into a big season for Gary Kubiak's crew...we'll see. Texas' other team, the Dallas Cowboys...deserving of their second place mention, here...were awful against division rival Washington. The Cowboys did not play with much confidence in week one, following a lackluster pre-season. One can only hope that all of the talk and pressure about them potentially being the first team to have a home Super Bowl is not getting to them. From the "who are you and what have you done with" category...we find the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. This game was a reversal of what everyone thought it would be, except Pete Carroll and his crew apparently. The Niners were supposed to win their weak division (NFC West) with ease...and Seattle was supposed to be a big question mark. At least for this week, the 'Hawks are an exclamation point...and the question mark falls to Mike Singletary's team.
The only other item worth mentioning was wide receiver Calvin Johnson's (non) game winning catch for the Lions against the Bears. It is true that he did not hold the ball all the way through until the very end of the play, even though he caught the ball in the end zone and had possession for a significant amount of time. This may very well be a dumb rule, but it is the rule, nonetheless. Once again, in a situation like this (as with Jim Joyce's blown umpiring call on Gallaraga's near perfect game) it is important to get it truly right, and not just legally right. Rules and instant replay need to give us a picture of what should actually be right, and not end up being a matter that may very well be "legally" right, but "morally" or "practically" wrong. Such matters are no different in the spiritual realm, but we have discussed this before...and will probably discuss it some more at another time. :-)
Thursday, September 9, 2010
This appears to be a great pic of some distant double star...except for the lack of twinkle. This can only mean that it is a planet. And indeed it is -- a shot of Earth and the moon from a probe near Mercury...pretty interesting.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
There were a whole lot of folks watching the marquee matchup on ESPN last night between the Boise State Broncos and Virginia Tech Hokies. This game seemed to be a set up from the beginning to get quarterback Kellen Moore, particularly, and the Boise State team, in general, some important national exposure. The whole feel is that the sports nation wants an underdog to win the National Championship, and so, they would have to knock off a top team in prime time in order to begin the process of winning all twelve of their games and be able to get the invite to the Big Game. And...they did knock off the #10 ranked Hokies 33-30 in an exciting last minute finish.
Now, it may sound like I am rooting against such talk and hope, but...not so. I am a big fan of Moore and Boise State, but...I would prefer that they would be able to get all of the above accomplished without all of the hype, but this is just the way the system works (or doesn't work, depending upon your perspective). Some of the difficulties that the Broncos are going to face is the discussion about their weaker WAC schedule...and there is going to be a recurring rant against them by some of the sports talking heads throughout the Fall. Another issue is...if there happen to be three undefeated teams at the end of the twelve game season, the two teams from more prominent conferences are going to get the invite, and Boise State is likely going to be left out...even if they are #2, (much like Penn State has been disrespected in the past...for whatever reason). So, all of this could very quickly turn into a pro-NCAA playoff message (which, as I have blogged before, I am in favor of), but I am going to refrain from going that direction.
I believe that Boise State is going to have a more challenging schedule than people think. Oregon state just lost to Boise State rival TCU, but the Beavers are still going to be a difficult team to beat. Also, they will play Fresno State later in the season, and they are not going to be a cupcake -- they just beat Cincinnati last week, a team that won 12 games last year. The Broncos do transition to the Mountain West Conference for 2011, which has more prestige and respect, so this will help their cause, nationally. At the same time, they will have to face regular nemesis TCU, among other good teams in the MWC. So, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out for them. I will root for them...unless they run up against Texas, Texas A & M, or Washington. :-)
Friday, September 3, 2010
Here is a cool NASA shot of hurricane Earl as captured by a satellite...
P.S. Lots of "space stuff" of late, including Stephen Hawking's declaration that "God could not have created the universe," but that is for another time...
Thursday, September 2, 2010
An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of religious service when she was startled by an intruder. As she caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables, she yelled, 'Stop -Acts 2:38!' (...repent of your sin...). The burglar stopped dead in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, 'Why did you just stand there? All she did was yell a scripture to you.' 'Scripture?' replied the burglar, 'She said she had an AXE and two 38's!'