Don't vote

Please don't vote. Its not your responsibility.

I lied a few weeks ago on Facebook when said i haven't voted in an election since i was 18. I voted in the Presidential election 1996 as well. Here's why: i didn't take time to educate myself about the issues or the candidates. I am a little against the grain when it comes to voting. I really believe that you shouldn't vote unless you've taken time to understand who or what you're voting for. In both of the elections that i cast my ballot, i refrained from voting for most of the measures or candidates on the ballots. I didn't know what they were or what they stood for. If we continue to encourage everyone to just vote without understanding what they're voting for, we're idiots. We're abusing a system that could work wonderfully. If you don't take the time to understand what you're voting for, stay home on the first Tuesday of November. Please. You are messing it up for those who take the time to understand; you dilute the votes of those who do care.

Elections shouldn't be competitions.
Political parties aren't helping at all. They just want to win. If they could get you to promise to vote a straight political ticket and promise not to read any literature from them or the other side, they would see that as a win. I understand we're Americans and part of being an American is that we want to win. Win big. In voting or politics, i would rather be right than win. Too often, those who win aren't the ones who are right.

It's the little things... that piss me off

Three things I chose to do today that should be relaxing- 1) get my hair cut 2) eat at Whitecastle and 3) get a cup of coffee at Starbucks while I blog something witty about hispanic Jehovah's Witnesses not wanting to witness to me but asking if I knew of any hispanics in the apartment complex.

I did those three things, but each is more frustrating than I thought possible.

1) Getting a haircut is something I don't do often enough, but always enjoy when I go somewhere where my personality matches up with the one cutting my hair. Its a relationship built on making good assumptions, asking the right questions and then shutting up and cutting my hair. I won't get into personal attacks about the fidgety, spaztic woman who cut my hair while making sure to tell me and everyone else about how righteous she lives. I've learned to be specific about how I want my hair. Its not hard. "Medium Skin Fade and take about 1/2" off the top." Simple. She started cutting and coughing and grabbed a blow dryer and aimed it at my head with one hand while using the clippers with the other. Turns out that hair gives her hives. "Or maybe I'm allergic to people, I don't know. People or hair, I'm allergic to something. And I get these big scabs on my feet..." I should have stood up and walked out with my hair half cut. I would have saved myself 40 minutes.
After about 5 minutes of cutting she stopped and said, "Wait, how do you want it cut?"
I said, "Medium skin fade and take about 1/2" off the top."
Her: Do you know what that means?
Me (blood pressure): Yeah. Skin about half-way up, then fade it the rest of the way up.
Her: Ok. Most people say things like that but have no idea what they're asking for. I just wanted to make sure.

She then proceeded to give me a High and Tight. Not once did she turn me toward the mirror to look at it. When she finally finished she said, "Is that better?" I said, "I hope so, but I'll tell you when I turn around and see it." She looked confused. I saw what she had done, paid her and left.

2) I left the barber shop that I won't return to and drove a block or two down the street to White Castle. I was in the mood for something greasy and bad for me. I had never actually been inside White Castle before. Its nothing to write to mom about. Fortunately I was able to support them on what I can only assume is their "Brainless Americans Can Cook Hamburgers Day". Too many details. 20 minutes to get 4 small burgers. I was literally shaking with frustration.

3) thank goodness Starbucks is right across the street. 98% of the time I order a drink from Starbucks I say the exact same thing: "Grande Drip. (room for cream?) No thank you. (have a nice day) Thank you, you too." But no. Not today. Today... i can't even think of a way to convey the interaction with the nice young lady behind the counter. Obviously she will start her training next week. I'll start where it went wrong:

I walked up to the counter.
She welcomed me like all good Starbuckians do. She asked what she can get started for me.

Me: Grande Drip
She stares at the computer and pushes buttons.
Her: I don't really know how to ring that up.
Blood runs from my ears.
Her: Um. you want a triple shot iced what?
Me: No. I just want a grande drip coffee.
Her: Ohhh. OK. Sorry. Wait- what do you want?
Me (motioning politely to the coffee makers 4 feet from me): Just a Grande brewed coffee.
Her (looking at me like I just changed my order and asked for a pulled pork sandwich): Oh- well thats a lot easier to ring up. Do you want room for cream?
Me: Nope :) just the coffee

I know I may have a little bit of a pet peeve about poor service or people not knowing their job or something. But- WOW!- I am surprised about the amount of frustration I have felt over all of this.

I should take a moment to look on the bright side:
- I don't have any more gray hair.
- My head has never been smoother on the sides (she asked at one point if I wanted her to shave it with the straight razor)
- I found out that eating a White Castle makes me feel dirty- a lesson I won't have to re-learn.
- I know without a doubt that the closest Kingdom Hall is not interested in my soul. Seriously- what if I went door to door asking which houses the white people lived in?!?!?
- I was able to provide a training oportunity to someone who is new at Starbucks.
- And right now my wife is saying, "I would love to have the opportunity to have bad service at Starbucks and then sit there and blog about it." I love you Janey.

Sunday Notes

Notes I took at church on Sunday. There were thoughts that happened before that formed each of these notes, but these notes are the ones that got to the paper.

Emotions during worship?
- There's no standard for emotional involvement during worship (no baseline of how a person should show emotions)
- BUT- worship is between you and the Spirit of God.
- You have to open up somehow to the Spirit. Something has to give.
- Be a little raw
- Let the Spirit move you (is that a song?)
- Just because some people raise their hands/ cry/ or are very active in worship doesn't mean they're being fake
- and some may be faking it
- understand this: If you're noticing them and wondering about their worship- whether its real or fake- you're missing it. You're not worshipping at all. You're wasting your time judging others
- Worship is between you and God; and ONLY between you and God.
- Knowing that its just between you and God- Get over yourself. Reveal (unveil?) your soul to God as he's revealed himself to you.

Define: Worship
How does God receive our worship?
What are the different ways to worship?
How does our environment affect how we worship?
How do our circumstances affect how we worship?
How do our circumstances affect our somberness or energy level as we worship?
Why do new/ young Christians embarress us when they show their worship loudly and/ or energetically?

Now- onto the notes from the sermon?

Would seeing God make a difference to your faith or belief?
- Momentarily- yes.
- Long term? Probably not.
We're unfaithful to ones we love. We see these people here on earth.
- We're still selfish beings.
- we're no different than the Israelites or anyone who saw Jesus face to face.
- We still doubt. we still forget. We still turn to ourselves eventually.
John 20:29- Jesus to Thomas: B/c you have seen me you've believed... Blesses are those who have not seen and still believe.

Why Faith is important:
- Hebrews 11:1,6 "Faith is... No one can please God without faith"

If belief in God is such a big deal- why doesn't God make himself more obvious?
Job 1:9

The goal of the gospel message is not belief- it is the transformation of the soul (James 2:19- even the demons believe in God)
This thought/ fact accounts for the unchanging nature of humanness- the unchanging human nature.

2000 Years of smart people arguing for and against the existence of God. He doesn't want to be argued into existence. Job 29:13-14- You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.

Unchanging Human Nature:
- We react the same way Adam and Eve did (Have we evolved? Has human nature changed?)
- We are the same. Human Nature is the same.
Human Nature hasn't changedat all.
- We're Selfish
- We doubt
- We forget about God

Job's Faith:

Job 19:25-27 (New International Version)

25 I know that my Redeemer [a] lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. [b]
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

Phil 2:3-8
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit. Don't be concerned about your own interests...

What if instead of trying to see God- we start trying to let people see God through us?
What if instead of prayers for ourslves, we prayed for others' well-being?
What is instead of working for our own good, we worked for the well-being of others?

Why don't people want to believe???

-It requires a change in your lifestyle?
- I'll have to swallow my own pride- Ps 10:4

Lego Mania

So I discovered that 4H sponsors programs in more than livestock. Here are pictures of the Lego displays sponsored by the Lebanon, Indiana 4H club.

This one is called "The Black and Yellow Intelligence Command"


The Responsibility of the Survivor

Because I'm a guy and I don't talk about girly things like emotions, dresses, and musicals, I've been confused about my feelings on Veteran's and Memorial Days.

On Veteran's Day, I call and thank my Dad for his service during the Vietnam era. I think about my Grandfather during WWII and the Korean War (conflict). I send Facebook messages and emails to my friends still serving. But I don't want people to tell me thanks. I did it because I wanted to. But I appreciate it when they say it. But Memorial Day is different.

Today I decided that although I'm not sure if it's a job or a curse, its definitely a responsibility. As someone who survived, my responsibility is to remember. Remember and read their names. Some guys are adrenaline junkies, but on Memorial Day, I find that I turn into an Emotion Junkie. I need to remember those who can't hear me say thanks. I want to remember the feeling when I heard of their death; the pain that I imagine their family must have felt and still feels. I am truly thankful for their willingness to go, to get on the plane, to wake up when it's 97 degrees and know that its the coolest the day will be, to leave the gate with "weapons red", and to do it again the next day.

To tear at my emotional scabs and make them feel again, I left work today at 10:30 and went to our city's Veteran's Memorial. I was happy to arrive and see that I would be walking through it mostly alone. They (someone) had placed flags all around it and the central flags were at half-staff. I walked around and stopped at each of the monuments for each war and read the names of each of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guardsmen that had died during that war. When I arrived at the last one, the Afghanistan/ Iraq monument, I read them all out loud. On a cloudy, windy day in Oregon, I stood alone at a monument and read aloud the names of the ones from here who can't hear me say thanks. It's all I could do to honor their memories and sacrifice. It was all I could do to see my way back to my truck through my tears. I'm sure it was my allergies.

That's why I fly my flag and read their names. For them. The ones who can't hear me say "Thank You".

The Baseball Bat

At some point in every man's life, if he lives long enough, he is hit with a baseball bat. Figuratively. Sometimes literally, but that's a different topic.

I'm still not sure what to call this bat. It could be 'getting old' or 'going bald' or 'reality' or... well, you'll see what I'm talking about.

There are three ways that men deal with this baseball bat.
1) Ignore it. "Nah. That wasn't a baseball bat that just hit me." Reacting this way doesn't make it hurt any less. It just guarantees they'll get hit again. And again. And again. Until they finally accept the fact they were just hit. Then the hits stop.
2) Over react (Google "Define: Midlife crisis").
3) Accept it. "Ouch! What the...? Why did I have to get hit with a baseball bat? Man! that hurts!" And then you move on.

Different ways I've been hit with the bat:
A- Me: "Hmmm. My pants are too tight. Musta dried them too long."
B- Me: "Ouch. My back hurts ... again. What did I do yesterday? Oh. Nothing."
C- Me: "Not really. I just want to go to sleep tonight."
D- Wife: "Hey, you know I was serious about your hair thinning out up there, right?"
E- Barber: "I can only do so much with what I have to work with."
F- Work Associate 15 years older than I: "James is too young to know about things like that. He's not old like us."
G- My kids: "Dad. You're Old."
H- Me to my wife: "Yeah, we were dating then, but we're more than twice as old as we were then."
I- Me: "When did looking at my ear hair become part of personal grooming?!?"

I guess in reality, I've been living the #1 reaction from above until the last two days. During the last 24 hour, examples D, E, F, and H all happened to me. And then, finally, I said, "Wow, that was a baseball bat that hit me."

The advantage for people who don't dive headfirst into an early midlife crisis is that we get to stay married, don't incur new debt for a car, and get to (and this is the most important) grow up. I know what you may be thinking, "Seth, you're 35, you have 4 kids, spent 10 years in the Army and have a career with a little bit of responsibility. Of course you're grown up." or may you're thinking, "Well, it's about time!" Either way the truth is that the way I see myself is never the way others see me. I look in the mirror and I still see the 17 year old captain of the wrestling team. I don't think anyone else has seen that when they look at me for the last 18 years.

I realized when I was whining about the fact that I don't want to have the beginnings of a bald spot that I'm not 17 anymore. Shocker, I know. But realizing that my body is getting a little... a lot older also frees me to finally see myself as something other than a kid. When you see yourself as a kid, you act like a kid. When you see yourself as a man, you act like a man.

So, because of that, I welcome the receding hairline, the very slight-only-my-wife-knows-its-there bald spot, the extra weight around my waist, and the hair where it wasn't before. Don't get me wrong. I have a razor and know how to use it. I'm not accepting the physical changes without a fight. But I am accepting the facts. I accept that I'm a man and am free to act as such.

Oh. one more thing. The grey hair. I accept that too. Begrudgingly.


When I was in the Army there were two kinds of field exercises... What I mean is there were two reasons we went out into a training area and slept overnight. 1- We were practicing and training for what we would do during a war; 2- we were facilitating the training for what others would do during a war. Normally when we were doing the second we would try to do as much as the first as possible. But sometimes it wasn't possible. When you aren't practicing for your real mission, it becomes very mundane and makes for a miserable time.

There was one time where we were doing the second and it was miserably cold. We slept in a tent with no heat and it was around 0-5 degrees. About day 5 I woke up in my cot at 4:30 AM and said good morning to Ranger Rick who held down the cot beside me. I mumbled something about how cold it was and how I was getting worn out by the constant cold and would love a cup of coffee. Ranger Rick flipped his feet out of his cot, slipped on his boots, and walked in his long underwear to the next tent over where he poured two cups of coffee and brought one back to me. For some reason I have yet to put my finger on, that was one of the most memorable things anyone has done for me.

Yesterday at work something similar happened. It was about 3 O'Clock and I hadn't eaten lunch. One of the guys I worked with noticed and brought me a can of soup and a
couple slices of bread he had made. For the same mysterious reason it meant a lot to me.

Last night my wife asked why my oldest son was so happy. Lately we haven't seen eye to eye and have ended up butting heads a lot. Last night as I was sitting on the couch, he asked if he could snuggle with me. We lay on the couch for no more than 3 minutes before we had to get up and head to bed. But that little time made the difference in his night. Janey pointed out that I was 'speaking his love language'; I've never read the book, but I can see an advantage in knowing what you can do for people that means a lot to them. I think I need to take a couple minutes every day to give him a hug and see if that makes a difference. I know that cup of soup and coffee touched me deeply.

Football Coaches and Doing the Right Thing

15 years ago when I was @ UT. Ouch! I have trouble finishing that sentence. Let me begin again.

A few years ago when I was attending UT, I was 15 years younger than I am today. Ugggh. Let me try again.

When I was a college student at UT. (perfect). When I was a college student at UT, all I cared about was winning football games. Hmmm.. not true.

When I was a college student at UT, I had several interests. But when it came to football, my number one concern was that we won. When we didn't win at least 9 games in a year, I was furious. When we didn't get invited to a New Year's or later bowl game, again, furious. We had failed as a school and as a team. We should have done better. Four years without beating Florida? Inexcusable! Fortunately for me, I was on the Van Wilder plan so I was around long enough to see Tennessee beat Florida (1992- in the rain- at Neyland Stadium- Heath Shuler picked 'em apart! What an incredible game!)

Now- I'm older and arguably a little more mature. We have been criticized as Tennessee fans (and a college) for being upset that our .........former coach left after 14 months to take a job elsewhere.

I would like to explain my behavior over the last 14 months and the last 72 hours.

Last 14 months: Tennessee hired him (like Jonny Majors when he left tennessee, I won't say his name) and assumed risk when it did so. No matter how strange it felt to hire a 33 year old hot shot as a head coach, we gave him our loyalty and defended him when he broke the rules and did stupid things. We have become accustomed to having a coach for a few years (like 16 or 17 years each coach). I think what's happened with him is that we, who gave him our loyalty and defended his poor decisions, expected him to mature and our investment in him would pay off... over time. It was an investment. We knew, deep down where we didn't talk about at parties, that we wouldn't get the rate of return at first, but it would come over time.

Last 72 hours: someone stole our money and emptied out our 401K. We invested in him; he walked away.

The question remains, "What do we do now?" We start over and don't make the same mistake again. Invest in safer stock. Why? Because when I give my complete loyalty to Tennessee Football- that's a reflection of me. When I tell my kids that Tennessee Football is awesome, i don't want them to look at the news and see the poor decisions that the coaches or players are making. I want them to see morality, and upright citizens. Otherwise, I am telling my kids that Its ok to win by doing whatever it is that team is doing. I want a coah that I can be proud of. Not one whose actions I overlook when they get great results.

I live in Oregon. Mike Riley of the Oregon State University shows some of the characteristics that I want in a coach. He came back to OSU and said he is dedicated to coaching this team. He was offered the USC job and turned it down so he could stay in Corvallis, Oregon and raise his kids here.

Now- I am finally able to say. I'm glad he's gone. I hope we hire a stable, level-headed, morale leader for the kids he will recruit, coach, and lead. If we don't win an SEC Championship for the next 10 years, it will be ok. I'll still enjoy watching the football team play and screaming at the TV. As long as we have a coach I can be proud of.