Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Smoking Fun

The Quipper News Service (QNS) has again snagged an exclusive, just for you. Yes, that's right; an exclusive. That means no one else has it. You can only see it here, exclusively, courtesy of QNS.

We have intercepted THE CORRESPONDENCE from a member of the Ohio voting public that caused Senator Voinovich to change his vote on the so-called Immigration Bill. Many people believe that it was his performance on Sean Hannity's radio program that caused him to change his tune. However, QNS has exclusive access to a Senate staffer in Voinovich's office that has confirmed, exclusively, that this correspondence is what finally did him in.

Page 1 of 3

Page 2 of 3

(That should have been, "cause our federal deficit TO rise". EXCLUSIVE!)

Page 3 of 3

There you have it. Exclusively, from QNS. The actual letter that convinced Senator George Voinovich to vote against the illegal immigrant amnesty, don't enforce the current laws bill. (Oops, we mean the Immigration Bill. Don't want to sound partisan, now.)


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Senator is an Idiot

A bigger idiot cannot be found in the Senate than George Voinovich.

Unless you talk about Harry Reid.
Or Lindsay Graham.
Or Ted Kennedy.

Okay, okay, I get it. Practically all of them are idiots. I'm disgusted with this guy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Guitar Slingin' Pastors Scare Me

Not only do guitar slingin' pastors scare me, but so do hip-hoppin' pastors...and salsa dancin' pastors...and comedian pastors.

Yeah, they do, and it has nothing to do with their theology...okay, it does have something to do with their theology, but that's not the point of this post. It has to do with them.

What's my problem, you ask?

After giving it up for eighteen years, I've been gigging again for over a year now. It's a blast, a great release on the weekends without interfering too much with family life. The little side income helps, too. I have learned a lot so far, like:

  • "Kids" of all ages can give you undue adulation. I had one tamborine-playing chick tell me she wanted to be a rock star like me. Hah! It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.
  • People can tend to go crazy when you do well on stage. They like you, they try to flirt with you, they want to get your attention.
  • And, if you're not careful, the attention and fanfare can really swell your ego.
I firmly believe that a lot of the contemporary movements of church growth have more to do with these three points than they do with any theology. We live in a needy society where everyone is compelled to make a difference and needs to see the fruits of their efforts. When Pastor Six String puts on that gee-tar and starts playing with the band, he is no longer a pastor (yes, small "p"), he is a superstar. He is a pop idol. He is loved, adored, admired because he is cool. People can relate to him, would like one day to be as fun and influential as he is, and tell him so. He gets exactly what he's looking for. Everyone gives him the thumbs up or the high-five, but he gives them nothing substantive.

I am thankful that my church's Pastors recognize their roles as called and ordained servants of the Word, and do not try to make themselves the main attraction. They preach the word and administer the sacraments, and don't get everyone all caught up in the emotional willy-nilly. They fulfill their vocations, as they should.

If these other pastors want to become rock stars or comedians, they are free to move on to another career, but they should leave it out of the pulpit.

Heard You Missed Me, I'm Back

Yeah, I know, I haven't posting all that consistently lately. Lots of good stuff going on at home, work and for the band. These things haven't necessarily consumed me, but haven't left much mental time for posts. Here is a status update, book review, blah, blah, blah.

General Stuff

  • Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers out there. You know who you are. :-)
  • I have never really cared for birthdays, which I why I missed my first year blogaversary late last week. I knew it was mid-June but didn't care to make a big deal out of it.
  • Oh, yeah, the the guys didn't make their best showing in the Finals, and their key weakness was exposed. Yes, that's singular, not plural. Until they get some consistent shooters - yes, that includes you, LeBron - you can't tell if the coaching is bad or not. As a caller to a local radio station said, "Whoever said 'defense wins championships' obviously assumed that your offense was at least adequate'". How true.
Band Stuff

Our House of Blues gig last weekend (June 8) was tremendous. It was everything we expected and more! The HOB sound crew was awesome, and made us sound like a million bucks! The stage was roomy, allowing me to wireless my way around the stage to interact with all the band members. Our foot is already in the door to play other special events there; now I just gotta finish the promo pack and get it to them.

We'd like to thank Columbia Chemical for asking us to be their event entertainment. For our band, this gig was hopefully only the first in a long line of gigs at HOB.

Books of Note

I recently read three books - okay, I listened to one on tape, and read the other two - that were very interesting.
  1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (courtesy of Scribbit). This book talks about how social epidemics are not caused by one event; they are caused by a number of factors, but one seemingly minor factor pushes them over the edge. Very interesting, especially considering the success/failure of the church growth movement and gaining back the importance of doctrine. Which leads me to...
  2. The Market Driven Church by Udo W. Middlemann (courtesy of Dana at Principled Discovery). The author believes that objective truth exists, and that it can be known (hmm, seems I've heard my Pastors say that before). He is not Lutheran, but shows how current society and "faith" - or "fayeth" as he calls it - are helping to deterioriate the state of doctrine and the Christian Church in America.
  3. ABC of Allergies Asthma & Lupus by Dr. Fereydoon Batamanghelidj, M.D. (courtesy of Lotzastitches via Marie). I didn't realize that not drinking enough water could cause so many problems, or that a little salt works as an antihistamine. My breathing measurements have increased since I started working with "Dr. Batman's" recommendations, and I haven't taken my inhalers nearly as much. We are hoping the Engineer continues to benefit from the practices as well, because he has the same symptoms as me.
See, even though my Blogger profile says I don't read any more, I guess I still do. :-)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Selective Defense

I have recently read articles and heard news stories about cities deciding whether they are pro-military or anti-military. Some city councils have voted their dissent of the Iraqi war - as if that's within their jurisdiction or something. Colleges have indicated that the armed forces could not recruit on campus (hello, Berkeley).

I'm fine with this, on one condition: If these cities have decided that they won't support the military, then the military should be under no mandate to defend them.

I'd love to see a city like San Francisco get rid of all military presence, cut police staff, etc., then have a problem and get no help. You make the bed you lie in; these cities should be held accountable for their irresponsible, self-centered choices.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Just a Bassist In a Rock And Roll Band

Today's the day! We're geeked, we're pumped, we're psyched!

Our August 14th gig at House of Blues was moved up to tonight. We're ready and rarin' to go.

Big night, hope we do well. It could lead to other H.O.B. gigs and corporate events. And we won't look like we are in a boxing ring...

Or in a tavern aisle.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Crazy Circles

I was going to write a post on child discipline, responsibility, and setting and observing boundaries. Things came up, but the idea stayed in my head. They lingered for so long, that additional stuff based on recent work experiences came to mind. So, the post now focuses on...


Why circles? Because they explain boundaries, discipline, and responsibility (for children and adults) so well. And, no, I'm not getting all loopy on you. Heh, heh.

Assigning responsibility
When it comes to assigning responsibility or setting boundaries, there are typically two philosophies that people consider. They are:

1. Inherently trust - in this philosophy, trust is granted before any proof is given for it. Boundaries are set out at a distance, and people are given freedom to do what they need to do. But, watch out! If the person who is to work within those boundaries fails regularly, then the boundaries start to restrict. "X" marks the spot, and the concentric circles mark increasing - or, in this case, decreasing - levels of trust and responsibility.2. Inherently distrust - in this philosophy, trust is earned. Boundaries are set tight, but those boundaries are loosened, and other responsibilities accumulated, when the person proves themself worthy. Again, "X" marks the spot.So, what is the best way to raise children? What is the best way to set expectations with employees? Those are difficult questions, and may vary by family and by personality.

In the Quipper household, we tend to use both methods; inherently distrust, but also pull back if we see backtracking for any reason. We give them assignments and other ways to prove that they are trustworthy given their age (i.e. physical and intellectual capabilities). If they pass the tests, then the boundaries expand. This expansion may be in the form of new freedoms or increased responsibility. If the children repeatedly prove that they can't handle existing responsibilities, even though they had succeeded before, we may pull back.

I have watched parents who inherently trust, and never pull back. This frustrates me because it looks more often as being done out of laziness than out of any plan on the part of the parents. With some parents, I never see an attempt to explain failure or disappointment to their kids, or to pull back (i.e. discipline) when repeated failure occurs.

At the office, though, an even different type of responsibility change can occur. Some core responsbilities may no longer fall into the expectations of an employee's current role. It looks something like this, where beginning responsibilities are replaced by newer responsibilities:I have seen this happen when senior programmers actually no longer do programming; instead, "programmer" is just part of the title, but the employee has different responsibilities. These responsibilities may include mentoring less accomplished programmers, reviewing their work, or designing new computer systems.

In the "job" of life, however, there are some responsibilities, or core values, that should never leave a child's or adult's area of responsibility. At least, I would hope not.

Taking care of business

The same two philosophies apply at the office, too. Recently, a new computer programmer was assigned to one of my projects. I am not his supervisor, but have to give him some direction relative to the tasks assigned to him. I quickly came to realize that his boss inherently trusted him on many fronts, and I found that the programmer was not as accomplished as was first thought.

I normally set expectations and grant trust first, but this scenario is making me rethink my position. Things aren't always as they appear, and it's better to play it safe than sorry. It's not that the "kid" is incapable; we expected too much of him, yet he hadn't been put in a position to prove himself. I have seen this in the past, and have even caused the situation a number of times. I've concluded that I'd rather put someone in a position to prove themself than set them up to fail.

Growing up and job promotions

How does this all apply to children that have been granted some freedoms and responsibilities, and to employees who believe they are ready to "move on" to a better job position? There are similarities here again, but there are also differences.

Promotions are a little more difficult to work with. Again, there are two philsophies: you promote someone into a position they've already proven they can do, or you promote into a position because there is nothing else for the person to prove in their current position. Trust me, they are not the same. Just because someone hits the ceiling in their current position does not mean they can handle things at the next level.

Promotions usually look like this:
You typically retain some of your current duties, but gain a whole new set of responsibilities. You also dispose of some of your prior responsibilities, as shown by the greyed and blacked out circles.

With our children, I don't see a "promotion" per se. As I mentioned earlier, there are some core responsibilities that never leave the child once they start growing up and earning more freedoms and responsibilities. So, with our children, I see more concentric circles emanating from the core, and not a situation where the center circle shifts.

I have learned valuable lessons in fatherhood, and recently during this employee situation. For me, at least, it is better for me to set solid expectations with my employees, start them on easily manageable responsibilities, and let them work up to more difficult responsibilities and greater freedoms. I expend more effort on a daily basis, but resolve problems quicker and give my staff a chance to succeed. At home, I start with tight boundaries, but expand them as my children pass those little tests that prove they are ready for more freedom and responsibility.