Friday, January 30, 2009

$400 Million Investment

One of the things I hate most about sports stadiums is when companies buy the naming rights of the stadiums. Arizona has been particularly annoying with University of Phoenix Stadium for a professional football team, Arena, AWA becoming US Airways Centre, and BOB becoming Chase Field. It seems like such a sell-out. In New York the new baseball stadium for the Mets is going to be Citi Field (picture above). Citigroup is going to spend $400 million over twenty years for the naming rights. Not only is that an absurd amount of money for their name on a stadium but it also comes in light of Citigroup receiving financial backing from the US Government while cutting thousands of jobs of regular workers. I saw a brief blurb on this while looking through ESPN's articles online. I have to say I agree with Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Ted Poe, whom the article quotes. "At Citigroup, 50,000 people will lose their jobs. Yet in the boardroom of Citigroup, spending $400 million to put a name on stadium seems like a good idea," said Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat. "The Treasury Department, which forced Citigroup corporate executives to give up their private jet, should also demand that Citigroup cancel its $400 million advertisement at the Mets field and instead begin to repay their debt to the taxpayers." If the US Government is going to bail out these big corporations, then I believe they need to be held to strict accountability on their spending. Does any fan really enjoy their team's stadium being named something stupid anyway? Do us all a favor - stop naming our stadiums pointless names that are doomed to be changed anyhow & invest your money in more worthy things like jobs for workers and less goverment bailout money.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recommended Writer

So if you have never heard of or read anything by Rick Reilly you are missing out.

Here is a link to a collection of his stuff - he is an amazing writer.

Should your wife have guy-friends?

Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Are platonic relationships between men and women possible? That is was the subject of an article I read the other day on The article references one of the greatest movies of all time (When Harry Met Sally) - and of course focuses on Harry's disbelief that men and women can be friends. I would argue that it is possible, but then again I think it depends on what your definition of "friends" is. How close can a man and woman be before they do have feelings for each other? I say this because since getting married, I would say that my female friendships have all dropped to "acquaintance" status. That doesn't mean I don't like those people - but I'm not spending late nights on the phone talking with them or discussing my personal life with them either. The same is true for my wife - she isn't exactly investing into male friendships right now. Maybe it would be different if I were single, but even then I still think that if a guy and girl are investing serious time into their "friendship" - one or both probably has feelings that stretch beyond the friend status categroy. As the article quotes one woman, "When we first met, I wasn't attracted to him at all, but we had such a natural connection that we became really close," she says. "And then one day it hit me: I was in love." Anyway, the article was interesting and I wonder how other people feel on this particular topic.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Goodbye Governor Napolitano

So Janet Napolitano has left for Washington [the new US Secretary of Homeland Security] after roughly six years as governor of Arizona. I am not exactly sure how I feel about her. In 2002, I voted for Matt Salmon because at the time I was foolish enough to believe that voting anything but Republican was wrong. In 2006, I reversed my voting trends and voted for a Democrat for the first time in my life. I thought she had a done a great job in her first term, I didn't think Len Munsil was ready to be governor, and I desperately wanted to see someone serving who valued education. The economy of the state of Arizona is in the crapper right now, but then again that simply matches the economy of the rest of the United States. Can we blame that on Napolitano? She hasn't exactly cut any spending so chances are likely that some of the blame must fall on her shoulders. She never won over any conservatives with her abortion or illegal immigration stances, but you had to respect how much she did for education and social services. As new Secretary of State [of AZ] Ken Bennett said of Napolitano, "In general, I think she gave people a feeling of confidence and optimism and competence," he said. "In other areas, unfortunately, I think she's leaving the state worse off than she found it."

How do you evaluate a politican is the question then. As a historian (I will qualify myself as one since I will be graduating with my history degree this May) I recognize that time is needed to truly evaluate anyone. Looking back at Napolitano's leadership will deem whether or not it was effective. In reality that is what we are all left with. We must bust our tails in the present and hope that our legacy is that of leaving the future well-stocked and prepared for. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices now to prepare for the future. My hope is that the sacrifices we make now we don't do to appease a short term budget goal and therefore crush our future generations of Arizona. [HINT: Do not cut the education budget of this state Gov. Brewer!]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

I am reading a book right now by Richard Sellars on the history of the National Parks in the United States. It is actually pretty interesting, and right off the bat it looks in depth at the creation of the National Parks and what exactly was the goal in creating them. It is easy to think of the creation of National Park as conservation, but in reality they were primarily created with a strong push from railroad companies for the development of the west and economic tourism. That being said, what I find interested is the bill that President Wilson signed. I find it interesting because I wonder throughout history how its been interpreted. What exactly does "conserve the scenery" mean? What does it mean to "provide for the enjoyment" or "leave them unimpaired." The reason to me this is so fascinating is it is yet another example of something being said and then allowing for various interpretations. I had a work meeting the other day, and within a short while it became obvious that everyone around the table was on a different wave length. We might have all heard the same things - but we were interpreting them in vastly different ways. Therefore the intention of what we said could have been completely lost - in much the same way I think the intention of the bill that President Wilson signed was lost through time. National Parks have been destroyed and severely damaged by what Edward Abbey calls "industrial tourism" and yet all of that damage has been done in the name of that very bill that Wilson signed. Its all in how you interpret what you hear. I saw that in a very tangible way in my team meeting the other day. I see it every day in conversations with my wife. I see it blasted all over the news & media. People spend very little time trying to actually understand the intent, purpose, and meaning of what others say and instead focus all their energy on interpreting however they feel. Its sad because not only does communication break down, but we don't accomplish any of the things we actually want to accomplish. The worst part is that if we stopped being selfish for 2 seconds we might actually be able to stop this. Unfortunately, too often we are too wrapped up in our view to help ourselves. My goal? To start listening - and avoid the problems of interpretive hearing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

That's 3 Straight!

While their 53-47 victory over the Mildcats was not pretty last night, it was the third straight victory for ASU over UofA basketball. Go Sun Devils! James Harden continues to be an absolute stud on the court. We have to enjoy him now because the lure of being a top ten pick to the NBA will surely sweep him away. As for now, I'll take our 16-3 record while at the same time enjoy UofA suffering in an 11-8 start to their season.

I Love Lost!

"He is my friend. He's also got a crazy double life where he does ninja moves and spy stuff."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

About Time

A truly significant day in history. Whether he will be a good President or a poor President has yet to be seen, but no matter what it is truly awesome to see that after celebrating the life and actions that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and did we finally see our first minority in the Oval Office. The United States has a long way to go in the relationships between the different ethnicities of her people, but this is a great step. Congratulations President Obama - here's one guy hoping that you and Michelle do well during your tenure of office.

Workers For The Harvest

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

I completely understand this passage of Scripture. Right now for my Junior High small group program I am desperately short of adults to help disciple students. Parents seem to have no problem dropping their kid off but seemingly don't want any part of helping make sure their student and others students get discipled. Since when did ministry become a babysitting program? Is there something wrong with people in the church that they do not want to serve? Am I such a poor leader that I cannot attract people to serve? Is the JH program off-base in that people don't serve because they don't see it as important enough? I am so lost and confused as a leader right now. I feel like a failure and hurt so deeply for my students. I don't know what to do next. What happens next? Do I need to re-tool the program? Do I need to just give up? Do I start begging? I don't know. Is the church relevant to people anymore? Do people actually care about what Christ says or do they just like the idea of being a Christian? I am so thankful for my leaders that do serve, but it just seems that there is never enough.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Simply Amazing

419 yards in three games that the "worst playoff team in NFL history" were suppose to lose? 3 first half touchdowns to give the Cardinals the start they absolutely had to have against the Eagles? Catch after catch after catch in the clutch? Is Larry Fitzgerald Superman??

Thank God for Heroes

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Friday, January 16, 2009

"It should be the last thing we do."

The state of Arizona is in a serious hole right now financially. We have not done well as a state at balancing our budget and have put ourselves into a pickle that we must deal with now before it spirals completely out of whack. It is inevitable that cuts to the budget must happen. Without cuts, there is no hope for stability. Unfortunately, the plan put forth by John Kavanagh & Russell Pearce takes aim at education in the state first. You can read the article, but the highlight of it is this: In the GOP options plan, education is targeted for the biggest cuts over the next year and a half. The K-12 system is penciled in for a nearly $1 billion cut for this year and next. "That's $1,000 a kid in Arizona over 17 months," said Rep. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa. He predicted that the proposed deep cuts to education won't win enough votes to pass. Education advocates were quick to cry foul. "Cutting from the budget in a slash-and-burn manner and balancing the budget on the backs of students is the wrong way to go," said Rep. Rae Waters, D-Phoenix. I just do not think it is a wise idea to attack education first when figuring out what to cut from the budget. Arizona consistently ranks near the bottom for education in the United States. It makes complete sense why when you see that education is always in the crosshairs for the GOP dominated legislature. I worry about raising my kids in an environment where education is not considered a priority. When the budget is out of control, there will always be cuts that are unpopular. Everyone has to suffer with cuts. However, it is beyond wrong when education and then healthcare are the first things to get cut. I hope that these draconian proposals of slash & burn on our state's education budget are not approved - for the sake of not only today but the future of the state of Arizona.

My Sister

My sister Chelsea is one of my favorite people in the world. I got the opportunity to hang out with her and her husband Nathan last night since they were in town from Colorado. It was such a blessing for me to see them and spend some time chatting. We had some great fights growing up. I think sometimes we fought simply because we were so similar it pissed us off. She has always been one of my best friends. I love laughing at stupid things with her. I love her stubborn opinions. I love how she is never afraid to say what is on her mind. I love that she is a nurse taking care of babies who desperately need her incredible intelligence and warm loving heart. I love that she took my wonderful dog Tazo when it became apparent that our house was too small for him and he needed more room to run. I love that she picked such a solid guy in Nathan for a husband. I love that I still call her Chelbs to this day. I love that she is passionate about Jesus but not your typical churchy person. I love that my boys both love seeing her and Nathan when they can. I love that she chose to get married at the zoo. I love that she is an ASU grad. I love that I can share anything with her and she will always defend me - even when she probably knows I am wrong. I love that when we get together (though it doesn't happen nearly enough) we have the greatest of times like we did last night. I have not always been the best of brothers to her, but she truly is the greatest sister in the world. She loves life and strives each day to live to its fullest. The world is a better place because of my sister.

I love you Chelbs. Thanks for all of the memories - looking forward to the many yet to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


So in Acts 16, Paul has Timothy be circumcised "because of the Jews" who lived in the area. So in essence, Paul has Timothy go through a heck of a lot of pain simply to appease the legalists. Am I reading this wrong? Why does it seem that legalism always gets the final word. I know that Paul's heart was to not be a hindrance to anyone so that if it meant getting Timothy chopped then so be it, but I just have a hard time with this. I guess this is like any situation where you conform to surrounding culture in ways that aren't harmful to your relationship with Jesus in order to help in your ministry to that culture. I guess its just weird to me because on one hand it appears that Paul appeases the legalist culture but then later on in Galatia he speaks out so much against circumcision and makes a mockery of why don't you chop everything off if that is the way to holiness. Paul is a weird character. He seems like the type of guy who would have a beer with the bar crowd and then turn around and speak of the abomination of alcohol with the super conservatives. Is this the idea of being all things to all people that he writes about in Corinthians? At what point do you stop? Should a person ever have customs or practices? Or are we called to be willing to be whatever to whomever? Coming full circle, I guess its just weird to me that Timothy had to go through circumcision. No wonder he felt timid in his ministry - to get in he had to cut off part of his manhood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trust & Leadership

I truly believe leadership hinges on trust. If above all else leadership is influence, it seems that the greatest impact influence could have would be through a trusting relationship. In other words, if I fully trust in someone leading me - their influence is going to be stronger in and on my life. The problem is that trust is not something that just happens. It cannot be gained in a short amount of time and it is constantly tested. As a leader, you cannot assume you can walk into a situation and immediately command/demand trust from your subordinates. You might wear the boss hat, you might have all the power, but that doesn't equate into trust from those people below you. Trust also isn't something cookie-cutter from the book of how to lead that you can just spit out verbally and expect it to be there. You can tell a person how much they should trust you and how much you have their back, but ultimately it does not matter if you don't live that out or if in the very same breath you communicate a thousand different reasons to not trust you at all. As the old saying goes, "it takes many years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it." With all that said, I find it intriguing that time-after-time I see all sorts of leaders walk into situations and immediately enforce their power and command while putting their subordinates into their place yet trying in the very same breath to pretend to give a rip about the people they are leading. Why should those people follow? Why should they trust? Why should they allow any influence upon their lives?

There have been many leaders in my life. The ones that I trusted showed that they were worthy of my trust, even when they had to make difficult decisions that upset me in the moment. There have been plenty of poor leaders who even though they had the power, their only influence over me was that I learned I never wanted to lead like that. My hope is that in studying my own personal feelings, emotions, and thoughts from those leading me that I will be able to learn how to lead and gather trust better in my own leadership moments.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dot vs. Canvas

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

I wonder about the words that Mordecai delievered to Esther in regards to her standing up to the king. It seems as if there was a very specific task, time, position, and place for Esther to be in. God's will seemed so specific and precise for her. Does that apply to everyone - or did it just happen to work out that way with her?

I have a friend who told me that the will of God is like a paint canvas. He can and will use the whole canvas - not just a specific dot on the canvas. He encourages me to think above specificity when it comes to God's will. In other words, not to get hung up on having to be in a specific location, job, task in order to be in the will of God. God is bigger than a dot. If things were that narrow than it would seem that God's will would hardly ever get done right. And yet I study my life and wonder where do I fit? Does God truly have "one" thing for me - I have to be doing x @ x location @ x time or I am in violation of His will (ie "the dot" theory) OR does God not really care about such specifics and is able/willing to work with the path I choose (ie "the canvas" theory)? I lean towards the canvas, but then again that might be because I like the idea of having more freedom and choice.

This has been what I have been chewing on in 2009 thus far.