Sunday, November 27, 2005

Back in Town

Julia and I are back from a short, but fun trip to our friends, Tim and Glenna, who live in Syracuse, KS. Syracuse is a very small town, but we had an extremely restful and relaxing time. Wednesday and Thursday, Thanksgiving, we did nothing. I mean, we did something, but that something, was wonderfully refreshing. Sure we ate, but mainly we chatted and watched television, or read. Friday we drove over to Pueblo, Co for a bit of shopping on what folks now call "Black Friday." We did not get up and stand in line at the Wal-Mart or wherever at 4 in the morning. But we did go to a mall for the first time in about 2 years. Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Amos Lee

As soon as Julia and I heard his performance on Austin City Limits last night, I knew I'd be downloading the album from Rhapsody this morning. While Amos Lee must be holed up in the genre folk, this singer-songwriter cannot be ignored as at least to some degree as a new voice in Blues as well. He's touted such influences as John Prine, James Taylor, and Neil Young (who I saw at Chicagos Globe Ampitheatre with Crazy Horse in 1996 or 1997, he headlined while Dave Mathews Band opened). When I listen closely to tunes like "Seen It All Before" and "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" I hear Taj Mahal and Ben Harper. There's a sort of Bluesy/Funk undertoe sweeping through Lee's slow folky cadence. His voice is still original with hints of South Carolina inflections at the ends of each word. Lee graduated an English major from the University fo South Carolina, though he is a Philidelphia native. His first and self titled album is now available.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Well after day two of not being able to utter anything above a whisper I went to the doctor. Like Evan last week, I ended up with a shot in the behind, but I'm supposed to be feeling better very soon. I'd already lost my voice for a couple days earlier this year, but just from straining it and not being used to talking for 6 hours straight. The students acutally tend to listen better when it's like this. I find it difficult to communicate everything I want to say though. I felt pretty powerless a few times today because I couldn't assert myself.

And I keep wanting to call my mom and talk to her about it, but she wouldn't be able to hear me. Mom - if you're there, you can e-mail me!

I'll be taking tomorrow off so I won't have to fight a losing battle to recover my voice. Friday is their test. Hopefully I won't have to do a lot of talking. :)

Until then, here's to hot tea, hot soup, humidifiers and Vicks Vapor-Rub.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Our Cat Vegas

I would never have thought we'd have a cat. In fact, Julia and I historically are anti-cat. That is to say, we would never deny their existence as one of God's created creatures, but we also wouldn't go out of our way to be around one. I've personally always seen a cat's demeanor as stuck-up constructs of their owner's personalities. Cat's have always been animals for the more elitist pet owner. Until, of course, that pet owner accumulates more than 2 and 1/2 cats at which time the elitist pet owner becomes . . . well, creepy! Anyway, this summer, my wife and I discovered that we actually like a cat. His name is Vegas. It keeps in the current theme of pet names (our greyhound's name is Chance). And I like Las Vegas. He is a particularly friendly cat. All this to say that even the most set-against folk can change. You just have to find a cat they can bet on.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Don Cuttill

Henri Nouwen (McNeill and Morrison too) wrote in Compassion, “When do we receive real comfort and consolation? Is it when someone teaches us how to think or act? Is it when we receive advice about where to go or what to do? Is it when we hear words of reassurance and hope? Sometimes, perhaps. But what really counts is that in moments of pain and suffering someone stays with us. More important than any particular action or word of advice is the simple presence of someone who cares. . . . These reflections offer only a glimpse of what we mean when we say that God is a God-with-us, a God who came to share our lives in solidarity. It does not mean that God solves our problems, shows us the way out of our confusion, or offers answers for our many questions. He might do all of that, but his solidarity consists in the fact that he is willing to enter with us into our problems, confusions, and questions.”

My brother inlaw’s birthday is today. Don Cuttill died on 29 September 2005. He would be 46 years old. Late August-early September Don went to the doctor for a check up and was immediately rushed to the hospital. Doctors removed 8 inches of his colon. He was fine, though he still needed chemotherapy. Two weeks later doctors put in the port for the chemo. A week after the port the first dose of chemo came. It was a heavy dose, and made him ill. He recovered quickly. A week later the second and lighter dose came. He went home from work, tired and complaining of some pain. He fell out of bed that evening, stopped breathing, and the responders and doctors couldn’t revive him. He died. My sister, Chad, and Chandler live on. They are incredible people and this can be attributed to a great deal to the kind of person Don was. He too was amazing.

He taught me how to treat my wife. Once when my brother, Marc, was a teenager and was being particularly mean and inconsiderate to my sister (I think he punched her in the arm or something) Don grabbed Marc, threw him up against the wall, and told him that he was never to touch his [Don’s] wife again. At that moment Marsha was not Marc’s sister, she was Don’s wife. Now, when someone takes an unkindly tone with my wife (though it rarely happens) I simply remind them that they are to speak to her with more respect.

Don liked music. I remember whenever he’d take me anywhere, the radio was on the classic rock station and Led Zeppelin would start playing “Stairway to Heaven” Don would turn it up and say, “A little Led for the head.” That always makes me smile. He wasn’t limited to the classics, though. He liked Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Cold Play, Eric Clapton, Government Mule, The Doobie Brothers, and more. He really liked B. B. King. And who can blame him for that. Don played the guitar himself, but not just any guitar, he played a Martin. He also had great taste in movies: Caddyshack, Ground Hog Day, Fletch, Stripes. And who can forget Jerry Lewis.

We had the best time last year when Marsh, Don, Chad and Chandler as well as Marc and his family visited us in Kansas City. We went to Oceans of Fun and just got toasted by the sun. I’m glad we did that.

Don was a model of the Love of Christ to his family and everyone else around him. People loved to be around him. When Don laughed, it was as though the world stopped, took notice, and laughed with him. Sometimes it is hard to laugh now. We all love him and miss him. May we always remember the blessing he will continue to be in our lives. He is truly a gift.

Here’s to God's solidarity and here’s to Don Cuttill. His life is blessing!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Evan asked me if I was going to blog . . . what to say? . . . I think it's probably time to get internet at home again, since the state of Evan's desk does not help my creative writing processes.

Today I did 5 lab stations demonstrating Newton's first two laws of motion . . . the law of inertia and the Force = mass x acceleration equation. If I threaten the kids within an inch of their life, they do pretty well, particularly in such a cramped space as my room. I think the students are beginning to actually retain more and hopefully connect what we've been talking about all year.

I'll have had four observations in my class in the past two weeks by tomorrow. I really enjoy the actual teaching part of what I'm doing, so I don't really think about it much. But it also seems like a lot of the problems I was dealing with earlier are more 'tolerable' now. Maybe I'm just getting meaner. :) I think the kids are more concerned about them than I am. Although yesterday I got so mad in seventh hour my ears were actually hot. That doesn't happen very often.

I think a real disadvantage to public schools is the disconnect between all the subjects. Not just math with science, but math with literature or history with music, etc. How many times have I heard a student exclaim, "This is just math?!?" No, it's not just math -- it's math in your hands, concrete and comprehensible. The great thinkers of history are ones who could comprehend the broad scope of knowledge and integrate that into a particular field or break new ground with old concepts. I can see the wisdom of some teachers today teaching their textbooks 'backwards' by beginning with the bigger picture and working into the details. My deductive mind has to think through this approach very slowly and carefully, but I defintely see the potential. And this is the beauty of a liberal arts education. We focus so much on knowledge retention but very little on the skills to deal with it. But this is also very dangerous and I'm not sure the goverment should telling me how to think anyway.

Well, that's enough for now. Wednesday night means fast food supper and home late to work on tomorrows lesson. I'm getting hungry.


Prestigitator of Prestigitators

I just read an article in the June 2004 issue of Smithsonian magazine entitled "The Wizard of Odd" about the incredibly intelligent and often ellusive Ricky Jay. I'm sorry that I only found the article recently. It has renewed my own interest in the conjurer. I remember first seeing him in 1993 on an episode of The X-Files entitled "The Amazing Maleeni." He struck me then as a bit more haughty than most magicians I'd seen. In the television show, he set up his routine around a history lesson which immediately drew me in. Now that I've read this article, I am even more amazed at his illustrative prowess. He made a comment about Houdini in the article I am inclined to believe. "He [Houdini] was never a good magician," Jay says. "He was one of the most amazing exponents of bombast in the world, a shameless self-promoter. He did some real inquiry into the history of magic and unusual entertainers, which I find very appealing. But he treated other magicians very badly. He is not my hero." If anyone knows of any upcoming shows, I would like to know about them.

Anyway, it's a cold blustery day here. This is a bit of a let down considering yesterday it was almost 80 degrees. I have a bit of a cold or something.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A New Day

It is dawning. I don't know what that means, but we'll find out together. We've decided to start a blog. Hopefully the bogs will not be few and far between. We would like to share our life (sic) with our friends and relatives. Sometimes I might share, sometimes Julia, and sometimes you'll hear from both of us. We will be sharing about our lives, the church, theology, philosophy, ethics, books (hard boiled and otherwise), movies (there'll be a lot of this), current events, and whatever is moving us currently. Please, stay tuned as we'll probably be doing this a lot! Oooh, feel free to comment on any or all of our posts.

By the way, it's 79 degrees here in Guymon today. Mmmm, warm weather (sound of me smacking my lips)! Oh, yeah, did I mention we're huge Simpsons fans? Well, now I've done it!

The picture above is me escaping from a straight jacket at an outdoor show. I thought I'd share it.