Saturday, December 14, 2013

First and Amistad

I've spent over twenty-five years trying to understand the ways of God in a fallen world.  Why does God act as He does...and, perhaps more pertinent, why does He not act in certain cases?

Often, it has to do with the problem of pain.  Trying to accept that we live in a world with free will, tempted and hurting souls, and random events with tragic outcomes (from a car wreck on a Thanksgiving night seven years a earthquake that shook a nation and still is being felt)

Addiction.  A lot more complicated than just the Pauline lament of Romans 7.  Lives cut short - whether directly or indirectly.  Families rocked, shattered by the scars and ripple effects that extend far beyond oneself.

And as I look at the end of the road...
what did it cost us...
would he still be here...
how different would it have been...
and now it's too late...

"Damn addiction.  Damn the devil.  And damn God for not doing something about it."

Saturdays are overrated

It's very hard to keep up a blogging regimen...
when you're working two jobs.
when you're picking up extra hours.
when everyone's getting ready for the holidays.

I've tried daily-neardaily blogging...
I just don't have that much to say on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Super Bowl IV, January 11, 1970, New Orleans, LA
Game 7, 1985 World Series, October 27, 1985, Kansas City, MO
MLS Cup 2000, October 15, 2000, Washington, DC

And, possibly...

MLS Cup 2013, December 7, 2013, Kansas City, KS

  • Although it's sold out, it'll be in the bottom 4 for attendance at an MLS Cup (3 other MLS Cups have been held in front of less than 22,000 fans.)
  • This is the latest that MLS Cup has been held, and only the second time that the championship game has been held in December (last year, 12/1)
  • There is no playoff history between Kansas City and Salt Lake City.  Not in NBA (Kings, 1975-1985) or MLS.  
  • This is the first major league championship game to be held in the state of Kansas.  Ever.
  • So glad we got LIVEstrong off of the stadium name before this.

Advent II

So far, the big thing about the Christmas season for me...has been the music.
Finally, it's Christmas.
Finally, it brings me into the holiday spirit.
Especially hearing it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  ;)

The one song..."Where are you, Christmas"...not really how I feel anymore.  I'm not grinchy/December25 like I used to be...

Of all the Christmas songs...the one I still (over 20 years later) think of is a song, "He's Everything to Me."

I will celebrate nativity
for it has a place in history
sure, he came to set His people free...
...what is that to me?

It's everything.

Merry Christmas.

Remember the Maine

Someday, Pearl Harbor will be forgotten.  Relegated to the same forgotten history as the Maine, the Lusitania, and Fort Sumter.  Events noted in historical trivia once a year, but not...commemorated as it was.

Pearl Harbor was NOT the start of WWII.  Ask the Brits.  Ask the Germans.  Ask the Poles.  Ask the Russians.

What are the lessons of Pearl Harbor?  Eternal Vigilance?  The danger of Imperial overreach?  Life is short?

There are things that cannot be said in polite company about war.  I'll stick with the statement of General Sherman..."War is hell."

I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers ... 'tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation. - General W. T. Sherman

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Radix Malorum est Cupiditas

Four times, I flew west across the Pacific, spending ten to twenty days each time in Seoul.  My business trips usually involved me working the night shift, so I had the opportunity to explore downtown Seoul.  
I visited the Korean War Museum (finding my grandmother's first husband's name on a memorial wall), the Korean National Museum, the 63 Building (once the tallest building in Asia), N Seoul Tower, and the rebuilding of the Nandaemun Gate.

But, I'd decided that, while in Seoul, I would visit Yoido Full Gospel Church, the famous megachurch with over 700,000 members.  I sat in the foreigner's section of the balcony, listening to the multi-lingual headset listening to Pastor Cho's sermon interpreted by an interpreter named Isaac. I took pictures of the church...I even went to their bookstore and bought a book for a friend of mine.  (St. Augustine's Korean)

Last week, while looking over the news, I saw that there were allegations of embezzlement at the church.  The elders of the church had announced that, in addition to the $10 million that is being investigated in relation to a stock purchase...

Quoting a Korean newspaper, "In total, the elders are accusing the Chos of embezzling as much as US$500 million or more in church money."  (Article from

My God.

It's mindboggling.

It's at least twice the annual income of YFGC - at it's peak in '08.

And...I'm left wondering...
Anomaly?  Symptom?  Pattern?

We ask to be judged on our intentions and our best days.
We are judged on our actions and our worst days.

We ask to not be judged based on the actions of a few.
But we sometimes judge a group by the actions of a few who disgrace the group, assuming that they represent the whole.

I've heard of preachers who make their money off their books.
I've heard of preachers who put everything from their books back into their ministry.
I've heard of preachers being called on the carpet about their finances.

And I'm left thinking back to a simpler day, when the church I attended would keep the members up-to-date on the business of the church on a monthly basis.  (3rd Wednesday, as I recall)

So...what is a church supposed to spend their income on?
  • Evangelization
  • Care for the poor
  • Staff salaries
  • Property upkeep & utilities
  • ?? ?? ??

By the way, why did the itinerant Jesus and his apostles require a treasurer?

Advent I

Tomorrow is the 1st Sunday of Advent.

Yesterday, while working for a major retailer, I realized something.

This season, I will be joining millions of Christians in celebrating Advent, the season before Christmas.

This is a very comforting thought, that we approach the incarnation, the birth of Christ, with a holy anticipation.

Well, that was easy...Too easy...

Pressure turns coal into diamonds, is that it?
Well, that’s a physical fact, MacGyver.
It can also crush it to dust.

-- MacGyver, Hell Week, S3 Ep 9, 11/23/1987

I've lived a charmed life.  An American, middle-class life.  My kids are well-educated, there's food in my cabinet, and heat & a/c in my residence.  I've never had to bury a sibling or child;  I have only been hospitalized one night since as far back as I can remember.  And I grew up a whiz kid.

I've had it easy.

Then why...why...why does life seem so difficult?  Why do the #firstworldproblems I face (and, even the serious ones - like the times my only vehicle had a major mechanical problem, or the stresses involved with the move earlier this year) make me turn turtle, look for a quiet spot in the woods miles away from anyone...

In my moments of honesty I realize that I am weak.  Untested.

It's not that I fear apocalypse, or ruin, or loss.

It's that I know that...or maybe I don't know...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No more road games this year

Today, Sporting KC plays Houston Dynamo in the 2nd leg of the Eastern Conference Championship.

What's at stake?  (sarc)  Not much (/sarc)
  • A Sporting KC win brings MLS Cup to Sporting Park on Saturday, December 6.  This would be the first major-sports title match in Kansas City since game 7 of the 1985 World Series
  • A Sporting KC win puts SKC in the 2014-2015 CCL.
    (Correction, SKC needs to win MLS Cup, or have Portland win MLS Cup to get in)
  • A Sporting KC win gets the can't-beat-Houston-jinx off our backs.
This is the 6th time Kansas City's MLS team has reached this step - one match away from the MLS Cup Final.  So far, we're 2-3, having beaten LA in 2000 and 2004 to advance to MLS Cup; and losing to San Jose in 2003, and Houston in 2007 and 2011.  (And, Houston is actually - conspiratorial glance - the old SJ team that beat us... kinda like the Browns/Ravens thing.)

On November 9, SKC and Houston played to a scoreless draw.  This time, there will be a winner.  If not in 90 minutes, then in 30 minutes of overtime.  If not in 120 minutes, then in penalty kicks.




Traditional reading of the Bible concludes that Jesus was 33 years old at the time of his death and resurrection.

A glance at my birth certificate or drivers' license concludes that I'm 33 today.


Life is a series of events, with the occasional calendar-based offset.  For example, only a small group of people have April 9, 2051 circled on their calendar.  Or April 12, 2018.  Or September 16, 2013.

(50th anniversary, daughter's 18th birthday, day of my father's passing.)

But today is my 33rd birthday.

And I *feel* like it should matter.


I always feel like I should *feel* something.  For example, on Good Friday, I find myself searching for some connection to the spiritual, the religious, the sacrifice, the events of the Passion.

For some reason, I'm convinced that the occasion of finishing 33 years around the sun is an occasion to consider God.  My faith (which honestly still hasn't recovered from a disappointment and a funeral five years ago; to say anything of the highwater mark of my four semesters at Western).  My role as a father, especially in guiding my children in the way they should go.
  1. What I believe
  2. Why I believe it
  3. How I will live my faith

Hold me to this.

God have mercy on me.  Kyrie Eleison.

The boys of fall

Bounce, bounce, nothin's gonna keep me down
Bounce, bounce, stand up, shout it out
--Bounce, Bon Jovi

USA def MEX 2-1, @ Ft Lauderdale, 1980-11-23

"1980 was a good year.  Reagan was elected, the US beat the Soviets, and Pratt Bros.™ 2000 were born."

A few people asked me, what's it like being a twin?  I found someone's response...what's it like not being a twin?

...and a brother is born for adversity... Proverbs 17:17b

When only the best will'd better call two.

There are no problems, only solutions.

Happy Birthday, Robert & Lincoln!  (And, Happy Birthday, me.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Out of gas

Yeah, life's caught up with me...or at least my blogging.

I've run out of stuff to blog about for now.

I'm not done yet...but...

I'll be back.

I promise.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kick it!

MLS Soccer comes towards it's regular season conclusion.  (And now I get to a place where I can get to watch my Sporting KC on the telly...agh!)

  • US Open Cup:  Sporting KC won the 2012 US Open Cup at "LiveStrong" Sporting Park.  Since then, the stadium's name has changed, Kei Kamara has got loaned, then transfered to a team in the UK, and Sporting KC got eliminated from the 2013 US Open Cup.
    In a Wigan-like run, DC United pulled more wins in Cup competition than in league play to this point.  Their chance for hardware would come at Rio Tinto Park, visiting Real Salt Lake.  (How'd they decide where to play?  Good question.)  And , like Wigan, DC ended up the winner, making a end-of-first-half goal stick.  This is their 3rd Cup win, to go with four Shield wins and four MLS Cup wins.  When counting Cup, Shield, and MLS Cup, DC now leads the league with 11, ahead of LA Galaxy's 10 and Chicago Fire's 6.
  • CONCACAF Champions League.  Sporting KC needs a home result (draw or win) to advance to the final eight in the CONCACAF Champions League.  Potentially, all four of the US-based MLS teams could advance to the final eight, and, potentially, all four of the Mexican teams could advance to the final eight.  (The way they're grouped, it can be an all US&MEX final eight).  We'd have to wait for March to see these teams try to make it through up to six games to claim glory.  (Wow, sounds like March Madness).  
  • Sporting KC is in prime position to make the playoff, but probably won't claim the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the team that finishes with the best regular season position (and, of course, a trip to next year's CCL).  As of right now, Seattle looks in best position to finish at the top of the table.

Top 100

I've made a list of the 100 most important moments in my life (so far.)
  • Ok, so far I'm only at 92.
  • And 26 of them are births
  • And five of them are before my own birth
  • 1999 and 2000 each have six moments, tied for 2nd
  • 2013 currently leads with seven moments
It's a semi-private list.  Unranked, and a work in progress.
And, as happens occasionally, a month has two of these moments*.  Like September 2013.

Some things don't change (even when you lose sight of them). 

I am Steven, son of William, son of James, son of John;
father of Molly, Noah, Olivia, and Zechariah

Family is damn important, and often it's all I've got.

And, the 3rd Wiberg Law:

Pain hurts.

*Including, but not limited to 11/1980; 04/1999; 02/2003; 04/2008; and 04/2011

Ward Cleaver

In how much of human history did we have the luxury of a family making it on a single 40-hour/week income? 

The following blog entry is mainly a question of maintaining work-life-family balance.  Nothing in this blog entry is meant to say anything negative about my current employers, nor should it be construed to reflect negatively on my current employers.

To a degree, I can arrange my schedule.  Over the last couple months, I successfully traded shifts such that my weekdays were clear after 4PM.  However, because I needed more hours, I picked up an extra shift on Saturday morning.  (Yes, my posts automatically post, because at 8:37 AM, I'm usually working.)

So I've got Thursday afternoon off, so I can watch my daughter's volleyball game.  But I don't have Saturday evening off, so I can't make my son's football game. 

My kids ask "are your hours in the shadow?" - a term I coined for hours during the time they're at school.  They understand I need to pick up hours where possible, especially with the major changes this autumn. 

But, at the same time, I remember that my father had to work two jobs (and overtime on one of them) for most of my growing-up years...and I know that things would've been different if it he'd been home more.  I know that if my Dad had only worked 40 hours a week...certain changes would've been required...

I love my kids.  And, I know how important I am to them.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The boys of summer

Tomorrow, September 29 is the last day of the MLB Regular Season. 

The wild card games are scheduled for Tuesday the 1st (NL) and Wednesday the 2nd (AL.)

NL wild card winner plays top NL division winner; AL wild card winner plays top AL division winner.

As of first thing this morning, here's who's in, who's out, and who needs to get the pine tar on the bat...

BOS 97, AL East
OAK 95, AL West
DET 93, AL Central

TB 90
CLE 90
TEX 89

ATL 95, NL East
STL 95, NL Central
LA 92, NL West

PIT 92, NL Wild Card
CIN 90, NL Wild Card

The Royals made a run of it, but couldn't get into the wild card this year.  For the first time since 2003, they're above .500

This will be their second-best season since the WS win in '85.

'89 92 wins

'13 85+Saturday+Sunday

'88 84 wins
'93 84 wins

'87 83 wins
'03 83 wins

'91 82 wins


The October Surprise of the 2012 Presidential Campaign occured in the middle of September, when remarks made by Republican candidate Mitt Romney at a fundraiser were released.  Governor Romney, in the recorded remarks, conceded the 47% of Americans who don't pay income tax as votes for the Democratic Party. 

An American's tax burden is seen in more places than just the 1040 form.  An American pays taxes when he makes purchases - sales tax.  When he receives his paycheck - the withholdings.  When he owns property - the property tax. 

But, just to make life simple, I borrowed an online tax calculator and did some plug-and-play.  For a family of 6, how much would I have to make to owe $1 in federal income tax.

With all the deductions, child tax credit, etc. .. I would have to make $67,167 to owe any federal income tax.

I may be part of Romney's "47%", but I didn't vote for President Obama...or Governor Romney.

the Internet is forever

Someday I'll understand that I'm just not that interesting.
@Romans_837, Aug 6 2013

Phineas: Enjoy it while it lasts, Candace. Fame is fleeting.
Ferb: But the Internet is forever.
Lights, Candace, Action

Honestly, it's an irrational fear.  I know how insanely low my hit-counter is.  I know that almost nobody reads my blogs.  But I self-censor.  I don't say everything.  I'm vague about half the stuff I go through, and 15% of it will never never make the blog.

If I said it all, it would look like this.
* I was lucky.  I had [blank].  My kids...not so much.
* The noodle incident.  I don't forget.
* I want more [blank] and less [blank].
* I used to give [blank] to [blank] every [blank] because [blank] said so. 
When [blank] is over, [blank] won't happen until hell freezes over.  Or at least Election Day '16.
* I wonder if [blank] ever knew how bad it was.
* What happened in [blank] - the [blank] - should've happened years ago.  It would've been reasonable back then.
* May God bless and keep [blank] ... far away from us!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

William R. Pratt

William “Bill” Pratt 57, the world’s foremost authority on grilling and holiday dinners, died on September 16, 2013. He passed away in his sleep at home in Lenexa, after surviving world travels as an army brat, reckless sled rides in Fort Leavenworth, canoe trips down the Current River, twenty-five years of service at Lansing Correctional Facility, and raising ten children.

A Leavenworth High School graduate, he is survived by sisters Marilynn Helm of Hays, Nancy Bruhn of Chico, California, brothers Jim Pratt of California and John Pratt of Nevada, by his children Steven and Ivy Pratt of Severance, Robert and Stephanie Pratt of Lenexa, Bethany Pratt of Beaverton, Oregon, Richard and Leah Pratt of Lansing, and Jonathan, Melinda, Wyatt, Kimberly, Lincoln, and Olivia Pratt of Lansing, and grandchildren Molly, Noah, Zach, Olivia D., Karen, and Daniel. Bill is preceded in death by his parents Lt. Colonel James R. Pratt and Ruby Pratt, and his brother Bobby. An army brat, Bill travelled all over the world as a child, and chose to stay in Leavenworth with his parents after they retired. Bill worked 25 years at the Lansing Correctional Facility and 10 years with Food4Less. Thru the years, he also provided for his family as a co-owner of Veteran’s Cab, and working security at Cushing Hospital and Lakeview Village in Lenexa.

His kids will continue his traditions of sledding on post, Yorkshire pudding on holidays, mushroom hunting on government property, and camping in the Ozarks. His children and six grandchildren will miss being the recipients of his wisdom and culinary genius.

In no particular order
  • "Yes, the Navy Yard shooting was a tragedy, but I've got a death of my own to deal with." - member of my family.
  • By distance, I am officially the 9th closest child of my father. 
  • Due to my father's passing, I moved most blog posts ahead a week.  A particularly downer post, typed before 9/16, got moved several months ahead.  I don't want to cause more concern to my readers (who I can count on one hand).  I did move Constitution Day to 9/17 because, this Saturday, again, there will only be one post.
  • The death of a relative gives one a meaningful opportunity to contemplate life.  Including your own life expectancy, family relationships, end-of-life questions, etc.
  • Dad loved us.  I'm going to miss him.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
--Article V, US Constitution

Various groups, usually interested in limiting the power of the federal government, have looked towards Article V of the US Constitution, specifically the part in which 34 states can theoretically force Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution.

Over the decades, they've sought various remedy, various amendment.  From the popular election of Senators, to term limits, to a balanced federal budget.  In over 200 years, there hasn't been a convention called yet, although it sounds like the drums are beating just a little louder for something.

Can you get 34 states to call for one, in a single voice, in an unignorable voice?  I doubt it.  I don't see a reason strong enough to get 34 states - 67 or 68 state legislative bodies (depending on whether Nebraska gets in on the fun) to call for an Article V, at the same time, in the same voice, with the same resolute demand that would be required to get Congress to listen.  War?  Nope.  Corporate power?  Nope.  Income inequality?  Nope.  Moral issues?  Nope.  Feds spying on my e-mail?  Nope.  Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act?  Nope.  Marijuana?  Nope. 

And...even if you did.  Even if you got 34 states to, in a single voice, in a near simultaneous show of fraternity, demand an Article V Convention...I see a different set of problems.  1) Getting the conventioneers to agree on amendments to submit to the states.  2) Getting anyone to give a damn.  All we need is one celebrity with her hypno-butt, and even Fox News will be all over the shaking rear, instead of Philadelphia II.  Besides, no one watches C-SPAN.

Finally, if an amendment made it out, you'd need 38 states to ratify it.  HA!  You don't have 38 states that agree on weed, presidential candidate, or even same-sex marriage. 

IF an amendment that comes from an Article V convention is ratified by 38 states before my 40th birthday, I'll print out this blog entry, put ketchup on it, eat it, and post it on Youtube.

Happy Constitution Day. (9/17)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

For You are with me

I don't claim to understand everything about the faith I cling to.  About the God I worship.  About the Jesus who I read about and believe in.

But one thing I understand.
And one thing I don't understand.

I've recently used the phrase "Life is treating me like a dog treats his chew-toy."
I'm not ok.  Things are not going well.
Doghouse, this is Beagle, and I feel like I'm facing the trials of Job. all of this, God is still there.
I can feel the comfort.  I can almost feel Him there.
And He has not forsaken me.

I understand...and I don't understand...but...I know. 

Psa 37:23-24)  The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.
{24} Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.
Rom 8:37-39)  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. {38} For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, {39} nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hey, devil...
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me. - Micah 7:8

Chalkboards in Agenstein

That last year at Western, there were two chalkboards I wish I could've gotten a picture of.

In Computer Graphics, either fall '99 or spring '00, my brother had a corner seat.  Chalkboards on three sides (front, side farthest from door, back.)  After about a week or two of the teacher using a particular catchphrase, Robert decided that he was going to keep a tally of it.  So, each time Mr. Pickett said "Now here's the deal", I heard the sound (because I was listening for it) of my brother marking a tally mark on the chalkboard by his seat.  No one in the other classes disturbed it, and by the end of the semester, there were quite a few tallies.  To anyone who cares, it was the same classroom that we discussed the finer points of baked and broiled possums in statistics.  Would've loved to get a picture of those tally marks.

The other chalkboard was in concurrent programming, last semester (Spring 2000).  My brother and I were two of about students in the advanced computer science class, and one of our classmates had taken time to draw a detailed (fictional diagram) about the way the brains of the Pratt Bros.™ worked.  I don't remember the finer points of it, but it did reasonably correctly mention how quickly we could come up with an answer...and how long it took for us to explain it in non-hyper-genius-Pratt-ese.  My wife's brother still jokes that my wife has to "interpretate" for me.

Ab Uno Disce Omnes

I think.

I don't know, but I think.

I think our national news is too person-oriented.

Sixteen thousand murdered in a year, and we hear about (maybe) five cases.  Is it because they were famous? Or because they were in Florida, where you can get cameras in the courtroom?  Or because they were young?  Perhaps it makes good television, but...

Our reaction to the death of Trayvon should be different if he is one of a thousand 'self-defense-gone-wrong white kills black' vs if he is the only one.  But I'm not the one to say who the greatest threat to the American black male.
* Although Moynihan was right.

The President keeps using Aurora, Sandy Hook, etc. to argue for gun control.  Why?  Because they made the news?  Because it got the news for weeks?  What about the other homicides on those days?  What about the other folks shot dead on a busy news day?  And what about the inconvenient fact that for every two homicides, we have five suicides? 

At time of writing, we're hearing of a celebrity's bizarre behavior.  (By now, we're probably on to another celebrity.)  What makes it so newsworthy?  Is it because we're such a quiet world that we need five minutes per hour in a 24 hour news cycle to discuss it?  Like the media, news makes news.

I risk the danger of the three types of lies, but I don't believe in the anecdotal as much as I believe in the statistic.  And, although "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics." ... National news, and world news should be about the bigger picture.

Another thing...forgetting for a minute the bold headlines.  And, going against everything Han Solo said...
for my sister, how dangerous would (a trip to India) / (service in US military) / (time in college) / boring life in suburbia ?

Ab Uno Disce Omnes, from one learn all.  Specific incident, general truth.

I dissent.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Under the hood

My wife complains about the open panel on the dekstop computer.  She says it looks...messy.  Maybe it does.  But I've concluded that I need it open to maintain a suitable temperature.

If my pc goes over 105°C, it will shutdown immediately.  Usually that happens when Ivy or I are playing Candy Crush or Angry Birds.  Or when I'm playing Age of Empires & cranking Spotify.  Or if I'm running a dosbox w/QBasic simulating hundreds of runs of a sports league. 

So, I've got a number in my system tray.  Right next to the outside temp in °F (according to the Weather Channel) is the core temp.  Popup warning at 90°C or 95°C. 

That's one of the reasons I'm thinking about upgrading the desktop next year.  Of course, I have to make sure that it'll run certain apps, needs to be PC, 1 GHz, 1GB Ram, and capable of booting on a Linux CD.  (Probably about 95% of PCs in the computer store qualify...if anyone's selling desktops anymore - all I see anymore are all-in-ones, tablets, and laptops.)

Montana, Moon, Astrodome

January 16, 1994.
Days after Kerrigan's knee became front page news.
Months before (perhaps) the most famous strike in sports.
And the last time the Chiefs won a playoff game.

Nineteen seasons have passed since the Chiefs won in Houston, advancing to the AFC Championship game.  It's ugly.
Lost @ WC game (Joe Montana's last game, at Miami)
Lost hosting 2nd Round Game (Lin Elliott)
Missed Playoffs
Lost hosting 2nd Round Game (losing to eventual SB winners Denver)
Missed Playoffs x 5!
Lost hosting 2nd Round Game (When Indy doesn't punt...they don't lose)

In the ten years from 1994 to 2003, the Chiefs went 94-66, ranging from 6 to 13 wins, but lost 4 playoff games.
Then the wheels fell off.

Missed Playoffs x 2
Lost @ WC Game (Another loss to Indy, a game my dad and two brothers went to)
Missed Playoffs x 3
Lost hosting WC Game (Baltimore beats the stuffing out of Kansas City)
Missed Playoffs x 2

In the last nine years, the Chiefs have been 55-89, ranging from 2 to 10 wins.

In the last few years, teams that have sucked this badly (2 or fewer wins) typically rebound and end up going 6-10.  Which would be about average for the Chiefs (2004-2012).

So, because I don't feel confident enough to try a fantasy football league this year, I'm in a survivor league (pick 1 winner a week, can't pick the same team twice in a season, one strike you're out.)

Here's my tentative picks for the first eight! weeks of the season.  (Thanks Jeff Sagarin)

Week 1    WASH def PHI
Week 2    NE def NYJ
Week 3    DEN def OAK
Week 4    NYG def KC
Week 5    ATL def NYJ
Week 6    SEA def TEN
Week 7    SF def TEN
Week 8    CIN def NYJ

The name's the thing

As a twin, I got used to being called the wrong name.  Part of the territory.  It stopped happening after '01, when I got married, moved 40 miles north, and began collecting a different set of friends acquaintances, in-laws, and co-workers.  However, I still joke "Steve or Steven, just don't call me late for dinner."

When my twin was a toddler, my mother decided she didn't like his birth name, and so de facto changed his name to Tristan.  By the time I was old enough to care, just about everyone called him Tristan (I think one of the aunts would occasionally call him Robert.)  This lasted until we started going to college.  Something about college forms being sticklers for legal names.  And so, Mom sat us down and told us that when we went to college, he would be Robert, sharing a name with my dad's brother who died too soon.  So, outside of Leavenworth, he was Robert.  At the community college.  At Western.  Honestly, by the time we started at Western 3 years later, only folks from the church and the occasional throwback at home would call him Tristan.  He's on my phone as Robert, and when I e-mail him, I type "RJ" - the first letters of his e-mail address and his first and middle initial.

Every year, we have the school musical.  (Two of them, actually, the winter and the spring.)  And, after the first time, it's a ritual.  Collect the program, and see if Molly is listed as Molly Pratt, Molly (birth name), or Molly (birth name misspelled).  So far, it's been a random draw on it. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

In God's Image ?

"There's nothing wrong with loving who you are"
She said, "'Cause he made you perfect, babe"
"So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
Listen to me when I say"
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way

-- Lady Gaga
Was that the sound of hell freezing over?

Did Steven just post a melody on a Saturday

Did Steven just post Lady Gaga? 

    (Doubt it, yup, yup.)

For years, I have wrestled with my depression.  Some days better than others. 
And God knows I have two great questions.  Why and how. 
  • Why am I afflicted with this dark cloud?  (Not so much a "Why would you, oh God, let this / inflict this on me", as a "what factors have conspired against me")
    Is it genetic - a predisposition that could be found on my DNA?  Is it merely a chemical inbalance in the brain?  Is it a result of environment, the way I was raised or what I was taught?  Is it something I'm more inclined to because...I'm smarter than the average bear?  Did something happen to me to affect me so severely?  Or is it merely a rational reaction to stress and/or isolation in my life?
  • do I break these clouds?  What must I do to be delivered?  Is it nothing more than a point of view that can be defeated with the right argument?  Can I think myself happy?  Or do I need to find the right preacher to pray for me, lay hands on me, etc?  Or is this my 'thorn in the flesh'?  Is it a right mix of pharmaceuticals with damnable side effects - or some concoction of vitamins, herbs (legal ones), and/or minerals?  Or do I just need to make sure I don't go too long without meat?
People have debated for decades whether various mental abnormalities are born or bred.  Damned if I know.  Maybe some birth defects aren't physical. This is not a perfect world. 

I've always wanted to host a game where I'd give a Carnac-like clue, and the answer would be the name of a #1 single.  So, if the answer is "born this way", the clue would be "naked, screaming, and a lot shorter"

A point in space and time

In an episode of "The Big Bang Theory", one of the characters refers to "If my life were expressed as a function on a four-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, that spot, at the moment I first sat on it, would be (0,0,0,0)."

And so, because it's just interesting enough to make my blog...I wonder what my location and time would be.
  • The hospital I was born at / the day I was born
  • My grandmother's house in Leavenworth / not sure what date I'd call 0 date
  • The dorm room I called home for four semesters / first day I was there
  • The church I attended for ten years, met and married Ivy there / first day I was there
  • The house I've lived at for almost ten years / day I moved there.

I believe...

Once upon a time, the church made a bigger deal of the Sabbath.  Or usury.  Or the Lord's Supper (specifically, the definition of "This is my body / This is my blood".)  Or whether it was acceptable to go to the movie theater.  Or the significance of the bodily resurrection of Christ.  Or the wrath of God.  (Oh, wait, we're still discussing that.)  Or drinking. (Hi EYS.Ners!)

I desire a timeless faith.  And I desire a guide to properly understand both the Word Made Flesh and the Word as revealed in Scripture.  To understand how I should live in the light of the red letters, the advice of the apostles, and the blessed hope.  To know, how then should we live, specifically as a man who seeks to follow Christ living in the US in the 21st century.

And, for the love of God, a way to balance my heart and my mind; to be able to identify the voice of God as opposed to my own mental or emotional stirrings (whether divinely, savagely, or neutrally inspired). 

What does it mean to say, as my brothers in Christ through the centuries, that Jesus is Lord?

Random theological thoughts.
1.  John 21:15-17 reads much differently if you realize that Jesus said "agape" in 15 and 16, while every other mention of love reads as "phileo".
2.  I wish I knew which of the statements of Christ only referred to the siege and sack of Jerusalem in AD 66-70.
3.  I think we can agree that if Christ tarries to AD 2100, there will be a lot of people who look back at some of the interpretation of prophecy in the late 20th century...and laugh.  For example, the idiots who thought Gorbachev was the antichrist.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The best sports in town...

There are 21 metro areas in the USA that have 3 or more major league sports teams. 
Anaheim-LA, the NYC area, the "Bay Area", and the DC-Baltimore area.
Also, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas
Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Minneapolis
Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa.

So, for each city in this list
    for each sports club in the metro area
        for each of the last five metro seasons
            award points based on finish
            10 for a league title
            6 for runner up
            3 for making conference finals
            1 for making final 8.
Then, for each city, find out which club has the highest score, and declare them "King of the City."

The clubs that can say that they're the kings:
NFL: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens*, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers*.
MLB:  New York Yankees*, Philadelphia Phillies*, SF Giants**, St. Louis Cardinals*, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers.
NBA: Miami Heat**, Lebron James in Cleveland.
NHL: Boston Bruins*, Chicago Blackhawks**, Detroit Red Wings.
MLS: Colorado Rapids*, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy**, Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC.

* marks number of titles in the last five years. 
(The Cavaliers only saw playoff appearances with Lebron, and with his departure, the Cavaliers fell back to standard Cleveland heart-breaker levels)

Last one out, turn out the lights.

Once upon a time, there was a social network called Xanga.  (Ok, it's still there.)
And for a brief moment, over 100 of my fellow church members were on a Xanga Webring. Currently, there's 86 names on the webring, only three of which updated their Xanga this year.
I tried to be somebody there.  I posted on all the "ish" sites (except one), trying to become a Xangalebrity. 
Didn't work.  

Once upon a time, there was a social network called Foursquare.  (Ok, it's still there.)
And, back in its heyday, I didn't have a phone that could check in.
But, now I do, and I've got a fine functional vehicle...
And I'm the mayor of seven different locations.  (As of 8/23, subject to change)
  1. Home.  (Yeah, I made a foursquare spot for the house.)
  2. City Hall.  (See above.  I may not be mayor of Severance, but I'm the mayor of the City Hall.)
  3. Gas Station near Ivy's job.  (They also sell pizza.)
  4. Nearest WalMart.
  5. Nearest McDonald's.
  6. One of the McDonald's in St. Joseph (the one on South Belt)
  7. The church I currently attend.  (They're relocating next month.)
  8. The DAV thrift store in St. Joseph
Conclusion:  foursquare is dead.


Once upon a time, a dear friend pointed out the teachings of a very-well-known preacher, currently still alive.  This preacher has made certain claims about events later this decade.

Fine.  Because of my close relationship with my dear friend, I will make no comment against this preacher.  I will bite my tongue about the questions I have about the preacher's claims.

But, fine, let him be weighed by the outcome.  Let us reach the end of the decade, and go back and say, "this preacher said thus and thus would happen this decade, in these years."  And, if it came to pass, maybe I'll start watching him every Sunday.  And if not, let his interpretations of prophecy be ignored, along with the other fools who have brought disrepute upon Christ and His return.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Donne was wrong

During one of my blogging breaks, I wrote down some thoughts.

The big man.  I've always wanted to be the big man.  I had it at college.  In classes, at least.
But not in the dorms, the clubs.  Not at work.  At home.  In town.  On Xanga.  Or at church.  The one recognized.  The one admired.  The one loved.  The person people wanted to hang out with. 

I used to say that "If I went off-grid, I'd be forgotten in 90 days."  But I was wrong.

I've already been forgotten.

It's Password...It's Super Password!

At any given moment, I'm running on no fewer than twelve different passwords.

There's the work assigned passwords for the various applications (HR / paystub / job-related app / survey review / work social network / training /  another job-related app / another job-related app)

Then there's the various ones for my twitter, my e-mail, my blogs, the city's twitter and website...

Has to be *this* long, has to have *special characters* / *no special characters*. 

Honestly, it's not helping my computer-related headaches (and I thought that was only because I was nearsighted in my right eye.)

Unique? Maybe not.

Reposted from a pair of posts on Autisable, June/July 2009

When people look at my life, there are a few pieces that seemed almost irrelevant growing up...but hint at something.

Although most of my good friends know I was homeschooled, I actually went to public school for two years.  During those two years, in addition to music, recess, and gym, I had a few other things on my first-and-second-grade schedule.  Speech therapy.  Occupational therapy.  A fourth-grade math book.  Being in the 'gifted' group.  Being moved from one classroom to another in my first week of first grade.  (For the longest time, I was told that the two teachers both wanted to have my twin and I in the same class.  Found out much later that they wanted neither one of us.)

During my college days (or slightly thereafter), my mom commented that she thought I was borderline Aspergers.

I've looked it up since then.  The jury (of one) is still undecided.

Social interaction issues?  Not that I recall.
Restricted interests?  No.
Speech issues?  Some.
Some of the minor ones (motor skills - took months to learn how to ride a bike; childhood sleep issues - it always took me a long time to go to sleep)

Was this the tradeoff for my smarts?  (high school grad at 15, bachelor's at 19, above-average ACT/SAT scores.)

A friend of ours is an occupational therapist...I think she wants to see both me and...well, that's another story.

Do I want to know?  Yes.
Does it really matter?  I don't know.


I'm not normal.  I know that.  My intellectual abilities.  My schooling history.  My religious journey.  What happened less than four minutes after I was born.  My family. 

But there were a few things (see prior post) in my past (needing speech therapy, occupational therapy, above-average brains, etc.) that make me wonder if I'm somewhere in the spectrum.  I want to say, "no, no, no."  But...I know I'm different.  When I originally posted (late May), I wasn't fully convinced that I was somewhere on the spectrum.

I'm still not.  But, a few things...maybe I'm going crazy.
Maybe I'm just an autism-spectrum-hypochondriac.
Maybe I'm trying to figure out why the gears in my head spin the other way?
(When the only tool is a hammer, every problem is a nail.  When the only all-encompassing theory is 'autism spectrum', every quirk gets held up to that light.)

I mean, I'm looking over (what in my mind is) the stupidest little things. 

I get a to-do list.  For heavens' sake, write it down, I can't remember all that...
I talk to myself.  A lot.  (Maybe it's just the hour-each-way commute.)
I go to the ball game at a minor-league park.  And I really really want one of those foul balls.  And frankly, with the open grassy hill area on the side of the 3rd base line, I've got a shot (not a great shot, but a shot) at grabbing one.  Is it just a baseball fan's obsession or a AS-quirk?
Then, there's the whole adventure of watching Rain Man.  *I'm nothing like that*  *am I?*

Finally - To my one're so quick to remind me about whats-his-name - that I need to understand him.  (You say he's autistic.  Is he?  Is it ADD?  What's your proof?).  But in the same breath, you ask me "are you a retard?"  
(Do you know how mad that makes me?)

If life ever calms down...
...maybe I need to find out.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Near Death Experiences - Does it mean anything?

Reposted from a post I had posted on Revelife (a Xanga "ish" site), November 4, 2009.

I've heard several people say, "They should have died when they went through some event," whether it be a car wreck, a tricky childbirth, or a near-fatal illness. "I'm convinced that their survival is proof that God has great plans for them." I heard it this weekend and I started thinking about it.

Logically, the statement is...

Surviving a close brush with death is proof of a strong call of God on one's life.

Does that mean...

    If I've never been 'this close' to the reaper's scythe God has no great plan for my life?
    God had no great plan for my friend who died relatively young, leaving behind three children?
    Anyone, saint or sinner, who beats the odds - has the hand of God on their life?

I remember reading a book, Confessions of a Caffeinated Christian, and in one chapter the author tells his story of a near-death experience (at his birth) to somebody else. The other person said..."you know what that means?  It (just) means that God wanted you to live."

It's just one of those cliches that Christians say that I really can't agree with.

What is your stance on near death experiences? Proof of God's plan for you or was God just feeling merciful?

Where's the nearest abandoned barn?

I freak out.  I run.  I hide.  And I can't say that it's something that I did as a child, or even a teenager. 
But certain events come to mind.  A frustrating day with a dead van.  Election Day '11.  The day before Ivy got her job at the nursing home.  Mother's Day a couple years ago.  (Yikes, that was a bad month.)
The famous captain of the Enterprise didn't believe in the no-win scenario.  I don't take failure well.  (Not so much the result as the weight of how it affects everyone). 
I'm just tired of disappointing everyone.  Tired of not being able to bring home the straight A's and the relatively huge paycheck.

tweet from 7/10/10
Ever worry that people pushing 'anger mgt' / anti-depressants are just trying to make you forget that you're getting screwed?

The Bridge on the River Kwai

In an episode of Monk, the titular detective, playing Charades, nails a six-word movie title before the gesturer can even start describing the first word. 

I'm not that good, but I've blurted out enough "Wheel" answers that I've been told to...stop blurting them out.

I'm not that good at chess, but since I'm better than the rest of the chess set is gathering dust. 

May 13, 2000.  I get my Bachelor's Degree, and I move from a universe in which knowledge is king, to a universe where common sense is king.  The game just changed from gin rummy.
And then...

I said to myself, "I have reached greatness, and am smarter than all before me in Leavenworth.  I have understood great wisdom and knowledge."  And I set to now wisdom, madness, and folly.  What a waste of time.  For in much wisdom is grief, and the know-it-all ends up lonely.
    Ecclesiastes 1:16-18, paraphrased.

3/6/10 tweet: There are times I feel cursed with my intelligence...I don't have all the answers...and I'm more than a walking encyclopedia...right??

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Three Volleys

    It's been ten years. 
    Husband. Father. Grandfather. Great-grandfather. Officer. Soldier.
    Survived by five children, fifteen grandchildren, and (at the time), four great-grandchildren.  Preceded in death by his wife, one son, and (IIRC) two brothers.
    Fishing trips to Fort Leavenworth.
    Two trips to San Diego, one trip to Truman Lake.
    The lawn, the tree, the truck. 
    A place to watch KU on Big Monday, a lawn to mow for a nice price, and always a 24 pack of Diet Pepsi.  (If it's empty, it was mine.)
    I miss you, Grandpa.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Demoted from Royals to Nobles...

Between 2000 and 2012, the Royals have had exactly one winning season.  In the big scheme of things, how bad are the Boys in Blue?  TL;DR:  yeah, it's that bad.

128 American major league sports teams that existed between 2000 and current. 
30 MLB, 9 MLS, 29 NBA, 31 NFL, 29 NHL

Here's the top 8 teams in American sports since Y2K.
1. San Antonio Spurs (13 winning seasons)
2. NY Yankees (13 winning seasons)
3. Dallas Mavericks (12 winning seasons, 1 tied season)
4. Detroit Red Wings (12 winning seasons)
5. New England Patriots (12 winning seasons)
6. LA Lakers (12 winning seasons)
7. St. Louis Cardinals (12 winning seasons)  (see why the I-70 matchup means so much?)
8. Boston Red Sox (12 winning seasons)

Bottom 8
121.    Detroit Lions (2 winning seasons) (and a 0-16 season, to boot)
122.    Cleveland Browns (2 winning seasons)
123.    Buffalo Bills (1 winning season, 2 .500 seasons)
124.    Baltimore Orioles (1 winning season)
125.    KC Royals (1 winning season)
126.    Columbus Blue Jackets (1 .500 season)
127.    Florida Panthers (1 .500 season)
128.    Pittsburgh Pirates (13 losing seasons) (wow, there's a team worse than the Royals?)

Top and bottom, By Sport
MLB Top    NYY, STL, BOS (12 or more)
MLB Bottom    BAL, KCR, PIT (1 or 0)
MLS Top   LA, CHI, NY (8 winning seasons)
MLS Bottom    COL (4 winning seasons)
NBA Top   SA, DAL, LAL (12 or more winning seasons)
NBA Bottom    MIL, WAS, TOR, LAC, GSW (3 winning seasons)
NFL  Top  NE, IND, PIT, GB, BAL (10 or more winning seasons)
NFL  Bottom    AZ, DET, CLE, BUF (2 or 1 winning seasons)
NHL Top   DET, SJ, VAN (11+ winning seasons)
NHL Bottom    CLM, FLA (0 winning seasons)

Sporting KC: 50th/128, 4th/9 in MLS.
KC Chiefs: 103rd/128, 23rd/31 in NFL
KC Royals: 125th/128, 29th/30 in MLB.

See why KC roots for their soccer team?

Disclaimers:  Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Earthquakes not listed.
Tiebreakers on the top 8/bottom 8 include how long it's been since a non-winning season, number of tied seasons, and that San Antonio has won 3 titles since Y2K to New York Yankees 2.

The Honorable

"I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman — my dear wife — as I begin this very difficult job" - President Ford

Six years ago, Todd Smith (my neighbor around-the-block) said he was going to run for mayor.  My wife and I cast votes for him, and he won by three votes.  He anticipated a mass exodus from the council, and I told him, "If you run out of better folk to fill the vacancies, you can give me a call."

A year later - in March 2008, he did give me that call, and in April 2008, I took the oath of office, filling a seat on the Severance City Council.  We talked politics, tried to do things differently...and in the end both of us saw the darker side of politics.  Both of us handed in our resignations (for different reasons), and took a back seat.

Todd and I had a few other conversations - I had the privilege of telling him that he'd been written in to the mayor's seat for his third term in 2011.  But, our friendship was strained by the politics...he was tired of it all.  And, having little in common besides politics, we haven't spoken much since.

He did wish me well in the 2013 election, "make sure you draw the right straw".

It's unlikely, but I've made it clear that if I ever become mayor, and if I then have to fill a vacancy on the council, my first call will be to Todd.  A favor I might never be able to repay...but I wish I could.

The style and etiquette manuals state that the mayor of a city is entitled to the title "The Honorable."   And although some people use that term derisively, I respect the men who have taken on the heavy responsibility of leading our town.  

Here's to the Honorable Todd Smith, thrice elected to the mayor's chair in Severance, KS.

Don't post about that one atheist, please!

I had this post written, nice and neat, ready to post.  Then, I posted a comment on Facebook....
So i had to do a little rearranging, and add a postscript to the end of the post.

Everybody knows* that you can only balance an egg on its end on the equinox.  I'm the idiot who actually balanced an egg on its end one of the other 363 days of the year, cementing my position as a pompass know-it-all. 

I see those urban legends on facebook...the quote mashup that combines interviews from different people and an incorrect claim about a famous psychiatrist.  The amber alert for a kid kidnapped three years ago, and safely rescued one day later.  A comparison of two sports champions expressing two different emotions and making a moral conclusion.

It's like scratching a chalkboard.  And with the experience I've had on listservs, online forums, and various blogs...there's no solving it.  There's almost no changing people's perspective.
Ask me about the drinking argument.  The cover two argument.  Any argument I have with my wife.  Just about any facebook post.  If I disagree with you, I come off as an argumentative jerk.

And yet I can't shut up.  I think half of my facebook comments are a cut-and-paste a snopes on a modern parable / urban legend / outdated Amber Alert. 

I'm a firm believer in the Proverb that one person presents his case and seems right...until the other guy brings up the other side...I know it's in the good book somewhere.

And, the other day, a modern-day parable that I couldn't verify.  (A pastor whose name doesn't google, a unnamed megachurch, and an anvil of an aesop that's predictable from a mile away).

I commented
"[citation needed] - my google search can't even find this guy, and one person says that the picture is a different homeless person."
And I got told that I was missing the point (spoiler alert: Matthew 24.).
You wanna tell a story like that, call it a modern parable.  Call it what it is, an urban legend, a modern parable...but when you post it like a fact...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What's left

The groups I've been in...when I leave, it's usually a complete break.  After I toss the cap and take off the gown, my college days become just a piece of paper, a lost yearbook, and one or two good friends.  When the online forum finally stops rolling up the hit-counter, I was already on the outside, already an awkward presence.  The cities I drive to - one of them was where I did everything, but I feel nothing for that town.  The other city, most of the folks I knew over the last fifteen years there, all we had in common was a timeclock.  I'm a stranger in my own town.

And as long as it's taken to learn, and as hard as I've resisted the cliche...
blood is thicker than water.

Family's pretty much all I've got left...pretty much all I've ever had.

Cost of Connection


Four years ago, I posted on one of the xanga ish sites (dollarish)

The Cost To Stay Connected To The World... Priceless

  • Landline with long distance: $55
  • High speed internet for the home computer:  $30
  • Cable or satellite TV: $95
  • Cell phone: $100
  • Cell phone for wife: $50
  • Cell phone for relative: $50
  • Unlimited text/internet for the three phones: $50
  • The add-on so you have enough minutes for the three phones: $30
  • Being connected...priceless.

Somewhere, somebody's laughing all the way to the bank.
How much are you spending on phones / internet / television per month?


Fast forward four years.

Landline + internet + TV bundled: 207 (+25)
Cell Phones: 310
Cell Phone: $85
Cell Phone for wife: $15
Cell Phone for kid: $15
Cell Phone for kid: $15
Unlimited text: $30
Phone Insurance: $30
XL Data Plans to prevent the XXL Data Charges: $120
AND The month somebody went nuts on a top-ten app: $55

I'm not sure what part of that bill steams me the most...

  • The fact that the company 15% discount only counted on one line, totaling $9
  • How little my kids actually use their phones
  • The month somebody went nuts on the app (the one with the commercials)
  • Or the fact that I've got my damn phone, and nobody calls me on it, only my wife texts me, etc.
    HELL, I did the obligatory "New Phone, New Number" post on Facebook, and no one asked me for my digits! (Proves that the five-to-ten people I actually texted were the only ones who cared)

Sorry, it's not bloggable.

There are still some unbloggable problems in my life.
I trust my friends.  My neighbors.  The folks at the church I attend.
But...putting anything about my deepest pain on this blog... (although I know I know almost nobody ever reads it.)
Besides, thinking about it, there's really only three or four people who need an update.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

80s and 90s

I'm getting old.  And I feel it.
I used to think that I was on top of the tech wave, or at least could see the top of it...
no I didn't.  I spent over a decade without setting foot in a Best Buy.  None of my televisions are flat-screen.  I used to program in a language with such a small niche...
I would've had to turn in my geek-card years ago.
THEN...I got a job as an at-home CSR for a major electronics retailer.  And my geek cred went into the negative.
I remember the releases...Halo, Assassin's Creed, and Call of Duty.  I mentioned to several interested customers that the last FPS I'd played with any regularity was Goldeneye for the N64.  Black Friday.  uhhh.  My wife picks up magazines from garage sales to try to get me up to date on the latest tech.  A nice gesture, but I know when I'm beat. 
Or when they talk about TVs that can't hook up to the internet (oh, they're supposed to do that?)  Or the magic word these days..."Sound bar."  I think I know what it is, but I couldn't recognize it at a party. 
And how in the hell am I supposed to be able to afford to stay on the edge of the tech wave?  How am I supposed to be able to afford a triple-digit collection of games for the latest console? 
Some days, I wish I was born Amish.

Our blessed hope, harps optional

Once upon a time, my maternal grandmother, an ordained A.G. minister, pointed out something to me. She pointed out that our faith teaches us that there's more to the afterlife than just heaven. Pointing out, among other things, Revelation 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." To a teen who grew up in church, hearing the usual preaching about our hope of heaven after we die, that blew my mind.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when the pastor at my church started following an older line of faith, emphasizing that we live a life on this earth, that God gave us physical bodies, that Jesus walked among us in a body. Our pastor basically picked up an old fight against gnosticism - a heresy fought by such folks as the Apostles Paul and John. And I ended up posting this on Facebook a few years ago.
Easter is misunderstood. We 'celebrate' the physical resurrection of Jesus, while we merely expect to be heaven-dwelling ghosts after death. Because Jesus beat death, we can look fwd to not only eternity with God, but life after 'life after death'. But that doesn't excite us. Why?
 A few weeks ago, I was asked, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident that you'll go to heaven when you die?"  I put down the only honest answer I could.  "10*".  My wife laughed when I wrote that down...ask her about "2 3 4" sometime.

I am fully persuaded that my Creator will resurrect me at the right time on His calendar.  I just understand that at the end, there is a new heaven, new earth, and a new body.  Harp optional.

Blame it on Rio

USA '94.  France '98.  Korea/Japan '02.  Germany '06.  South Africa '10.
Eight teams made it to all five of these FIFA World Cups.

Brazil '14.
But will they all make it to Brazil?

BrazilSince 1930Host - Qualified
GermanySince 1954Leading Group
ItalySince 1962Leading Group
ArgentinaSince 1974Leading Continent
SpainSince 1978Leading Group
South KoreaSince 1986Qualified
United StatesSince 1990Leading Continent
MexicoSince 19943rd Place, CONCACAF

Germany, Italy, and Spain lead in their European groups. If they hold their lead, they go to Brazil. If they finish 2nd, they advance to a two-legged playoff in which one European team advances, and one doesn't. (Four of them will join the nine group winners)

Argentina has clinched a top-five finish in South America. If they can clinch a top-four, they'll be the second South American team to clinch a berth in the World Cup (host always qualifies)

USA and Mexico are in the "Hex", the six teams in North & Central America (CONCACAF) who are fighting for 3.5 berths in World Cup '14. The USA leads, 2 points ahead of 2nd, and - more importantly, 6 points ahead of 4th. With four games to go, the USMNT should easily advance to Brazil.
Mexico...with three home draws and a total of 8 points, they're just one ahead of 4th place Honduras.  3rd place gets in automatically, 4th place has to go to a two-legged playoff, first at home, then finishing in New Zealand.

Next matches on August 14 in Europe

Saturday, July 6, 2013

All politics is local

I spent two years licking my wounds after an election ass-kicking.  In a city election in Severance, you can vote for up to five folks.  In 2011, 1st place got 28 votes, 5th place got 20 votes...and I got 10.

I stewed.  I watched city council meetings, watched the mayor's chair vacated 3 times, watched my name not get called as a possible replacement for council vacancies.  I figured I could do as good a job as mayor as any of the other gentlemen to sit at the head of the table.

And, as the calendar turned over to 2013, I had one major choice to make:  run for council for a 3rd time; or make a bold move and run for mayor.  Two events tipped the scales - a personal crisis, and a call from a neighbor who announced her intention to challenge the incumbent, asking if I'd be running for council.  OK, 3rd time for council.

Then, as the filing deadline approached and nobody filed for school board (3 seats in south district), I figured...ah, what the hell, someone's got to make sure the kids are being  taught right.  So I doubled down, and ended up spending $10 at the county courthouse to file for a seat on the city council; and a seat on the school board.

Even did an IAmA about it.

From multiple sources, I learned one thing.  The town, and the south half of the school district...think I'm nuts.  That certain people thought campaigning would make me look even more annoying.

I finished a distant 4th place for school board.  134, 132, 114, 17. 

And the 9 votes I received in the city council tied for 4th with two incumbent write-ins on the city council.  The tiebreaker was handled by the county commission, and my name was the one of the three not drawn.


I've learned many lessons from being a father...probably too many to mention...
But a few of those lessons I've learned...I've only learned because I was willing to accept Molly, the daughter of the woman I loved, and call her my own.

1.  Love is a choice.
When the doctors ask me about Molly's parents' medical history...I have to say - "Honey, what medical conditions did (ex-boyfriend / Molly's biological father) have?"  I know that she isn't my 'flesh and blood' - not only that her mother and I weren't together back then; but I've seen the DNA tests that were run for child support. But I love her.  I was blessed to be a part of Molly's life from when she was just a few days old.  And she will always be my girl.

2.  There's no perfect, and it's overrated anyhow.
I used to wonder..."Would I rather let other people think that my wife and I had a daughter together, almost a year before we got married; or would I rather let other people know that my wife had a relationship with some other guy and got pregnant."
The first couple years we were married, all of our friends knew the whole story...and really didn't care.  As the years went on, almost nobody asked. 
In fact, at my last job, I had co-workers who didn't know that Molly was my stepdaughter.
When people ask how my wife and I got together, I skip a lot of the stuff in the middle.  (We met in January 1999.  We started dating in September 2000, when Molly was 5 months old.)  She doesn't skip it.  To her, it's a good story, has a happy ending, and is worth telling.
I wanted things to look normal...not only to Molly (who, through no fault of her own, has a stepfather)...but to the rest of my world...

3.  Don't mess with Papa Bear.
The Mrs. and I have four children.  Molly has a younger brother, sister, and another brother.  When we were expecting Olivia, a friend of ours asked us, "So, what are you having?"  "A girl."  "That's nice.  Now Steven will have one of each." 
My wife, noticing my anger rising, quickly explained..."Steven would tell you that he already does, with Molly and Noah"  (If I'd managed to get my mouth open, it would've been a very angry comment, saying the same thing.)
A few months later, at a family gathering, one of my relatives tried to tell Molly that I wasn't her "real dad".  "Is too!" "Is not!" "Is too!"  Thankfully my brother got that relative - who was only 8 at the time - to zip his lip.  Ruined the whole day for me.  (When we explained to Molly that 'Mommy was with someone else before she was with Daddy, and someone else is your biological father', Molly said 'I knew that for years, Mom.')
I am Molly's dad.  I swat the spiders.  In a few years, I'll be trying to intimidate her boyfriend.  Someday, I'll walk her down the aisle.

4.  Don't mess with Mama Bear.
A friend of ours used to tell us that we were taking something away from Molly by not actively trying to cultivate a relationship between Molly and her biological father.  Being diplomatic, he had once asked why I hadn't already adopted her; and right now he's in another state.  As far as I know, he has as much contact with her as he wants...none.
The Mrs. has been insistent that I'm all the dad that Molly needs.  And, with her family history (a long story), it is a high compliment when she says that.

5.  Some stepfathers can be total jerks.
I read my paper...and time after time, I see it...stepfathers or mothers' boyfriends abusing the kids.  From the Precious Doe case in '01 (I still tear up when I read that) friends I's awful.  I hate it.  It makes me want to shun that label even more...
"I'm convinced that if one can't be a dad to a woman's young child(ren), he shouldn't marry her.  And if a single mother has found a man who would make a good husband but not a good father...she should keep looking."
"Let's just say I pray to God that there is a very very hot and painful corner of hell reserved for stepfathers / boyfriends of mothers who mistreat their one gives medals to stepdads who just treat their stepchildren like their own, who handle ex-issues with fairness and calmness, whether the child calls him 'Dad' or 'Neil'. "
Bring on Mike Brady and Saint Joseph of Nazareth.

6.  A few things you don't least around me.
"Beat them like a red-headed stepchild." 
"Real dad."

7.  I can live with her last name - she has her maternal grandmother's maiden name.  But I've still got her under "Molly Pratt" on my cell phone.

Reposted/amended from a post on Momaroo

the Horror of the shade

There are several poorly kept secrets in my house.  1.  Molly didn't get her brown eyes from me.  2.  Certain people prefer small weddings.  3.  The Noodle incident.  4.  The existence of my serious battle with depression.
To discuss my depression is to take a chance I rarely took on Xanga - not without my friend "protected posts."  I suppose it's comparable to a decision to come out of the closet.  This time...I'll say whatever I need to say and take my chances.  Besides, no one listens to me anyway.
And, yeah.  I'm admitting that my battles with depression aren't limited to mere attitude.  It's more serious than that.  The casualty list of depression is the Grim Reaper's teletype...having stolen better and/or more famous than me.  And that scares me.
Andrew Koenig.  Don Harman.  Junior Seau.  Matthew Warren.  Jonathan Hamilton.
I'm in pain.  And most days, I'll be damned if I let anyone see how bad I hurt.
   Why should the world be over-wise //  In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while // We wear the mask.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Introduction to Saturdays With Steve

Welcome to Saturdays with Steve. I'll be posting on Saturdays (not necessarily every Saturday) blog posts concerning any of seven different topics. This one serves as an introduction and a brief preview of coming attractions. Alphabetically,  

Depression. About two years ago, I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed with suicidal ideations. I've been fighting depression since my senior year at college. I often envy the Star Trek Vulcans, able to completely overcome emotion with logic.  

Family. I have a twin brother. I'm the oldest of ten siblings – five sons, five daughters. I'm married. I have a step-daughter, two sons, and a daughter. In 2013, my first niece and nephew were born (a 2nd nephew due later this year)

Genius. Graduated from Missouri Western at 19y 5m old, Bachelor's in Computer Science, graduated summa cum laude. Took SAT in fall 1995, got 660v 790m. Have some symptoms of Aspergers', but no conclusive or official test/diagnosis.

Politics. Appointed to fill a vacancy on a city council in April 2008. Re-elected in April 2009, with a 5th place finish. Unsuccessful runs for city council in 2011 and 2013 – finished 6th both times. Interested (and disgusted) with US politics at all levels. Cast a ballot in the 2012 general election voting for no Republicans (a first)  

Sports. I root for Sporting KC, Utah Jazz, KC Chiefs, KC Royals, and KU Basketball. I've pointed out that part of SKC's success and popularity involves the Royals' almost thirty years w/o a playoff appearance and the Chiefs' almost twenty years w/o a playoff win.  

Technology. Bachelor's in Computer Science, almost nine years as a computer programmer. Blogged on and off for years. A few random observations about 21st century technology and how it affects us.

Truth. When I was young, I thought I knew everything. I'm not old yet, but I'm already convinced that not only do I not know everything, I'm not sure if it's possible. I wonder which denomination got it right, the implications if Augustine screwed up NT canon, and how much our faith has changed over the centuries.

A lot of these are written ahead of time, because...otherwise, it's not "Saturdays With Steve."  And it puts a little less pressure on me to produce.  (Maybe)

This idea - blogging on up to seven different topics a week - might be stupid, might be interesting.

Saturday, June 22, 2013