Sean Tells Himself Jokes

So my son was watching the Disney channel the other day, and he saw this clip where two actors appear to be four people.  He thought the idea of “copying” himself would be “so cool.”  I made the mistake of saying it was actually pretty easy to do.  So he made me prove it.  This is the result.

Not bad for 15 minutes shooting and 15 minutes editing.  Another 15 minutes to render it out and upload to YouTube, and Sean learned just how quickly you could make a copy of yourself.  I actually think he’s somewhat disappointed that he didn’t have a real clone of himself to play with.  But he still thought the result was cool.

Vestigial Appendages.

It would seem that the doctors disagree.

I find doctoral politics amusing.  I’ve watched two unfriendly cardiologists differ strongly in opinion over a patient, to the point of ignoring each other’s good points just to stick to the diagnosis they feel is correct.  I’ve watched my sister-in-law go through the pain of medical school, and can easily see how someone who survives that could get a god complex.  Not that I think that’s the case today.  But I’m putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

At the Emergency Room, we were given a diagnosis of viral infection.  The treatment for such for my boy’s swollen right testicle (a phrase I’ve yet to tire of saying) is, well, nothing.  Oh there are the usual…  get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluid…  But really, no magical medical cure.  Being a virus, we don’t have much to combat with.  It hasn’t caused untoward symptoms, other than the obvious swelling of places best not swelled.  No fever, no sickness, no milky discharge (another fun phrase).

So with the diagnosis of infection, the treatment is restricted movement and time.

Today, the urologist gave us an entirely different diagnosis.  Torsion of an appendix.  Not the one on the intestine that we are so familiar with, and I am currently doing without since an appendectomy in 1983.  But like the appendix of the intestine that caused me great pain in 6th grade, this appendix is inside the scrotum and can also become infected.  Additionally, it can undergo torsion, getting wrapped up by the various tubes and such found in the scrotum, and lose its blood supply.

In the past, this was a surgery.  Today, it is left alone… left to die and heal without invasive procedures.  It seems the body can heal itself, at least in this case, faster than the body heals from surgery.  A few days discomfort as opposed to a few weeks.  So,with this new diagnosis, what is the treatment?

Restricted movement and time.

So I don’t really care what the doctors diagnose.  The treatment, and in fact the timeframe, are identical.  Do nothing, keep a six year old boy still, and let time heal.  Now, how I’m supposed to keep a six year old boy still for 7-10 days…  they had no answer.

But we’ll do the best we can.  Just like with the infection, the torsion means that with the swelling comes a slightly elevated risk of testicular torsion, which is quite serious and does require surgery.  So while keeping the boy still, I also have to make sure that any pain he may feel is not testicular torsion.  Any doubt, and we rush back to the hospital.

So yea…  I get to sit on the boy for a while.  It’s about driven me insane tonight.  I’m quite at my wits end with this “treatment.”  But we checked again tonight, and the swelling is going down, even as the redness increases.  The localized fever seems to be decreasing as well.  So, time is healing, I suppose.

I do want to say this.  The boy has had his privates on display for various pokes and prods for 5 days now.  He’s not gotten upset over it yet.  I’m not saying he liked it, but that he has dealt with it… with as much grace as a 6 year old boy can.  No tears, no screams, just a “please be gentle” and a few uncomfortable winces.  I’m proud of him for his stoic nature.

Trying Something New

I think we all need to try something new every now and again.  I’m a fan of it, aren’t you?

So in the spirit of trying something new, I’m looking around for a new path.  A new career perhaps?  A new way of getting things done.  And I’m not sure where this new search is headed.

I’m looking at going back to school.  Need to solidify that this next week, but it is a real possibility.  And if I get all the paperwork done correctly, I’ll be going back to school to learn something completely unrelated to anything I’ve ever done in the past.

Something entirely new.

I’m looking at jobs I never thought I’d look at.  Desperation?  Perhaps.  But perhaps it is time to look under a new leaf.

I had a friend who up and quit a decent job to try something new.  His new path has been rocky and unsure, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen him happier.  He quit lots of things he was really really good at to go off and do something he really really wanted.

He’s one of my heroes for that.  He chose it, I’ve had it forced off onto me.  But we have to play the cards life gives us, because leaving the table isn’t an option.

I’ve had a few friends, some quite close, decide to leave the table.  I don’t think it worked they way they intended.  It is messy, it doesn’t ever work the way you intended.  Or at least I hope not.  I’d hate to think my friends intended to leave the mess they did.

So I’m looking down a new path, and right now it has lots of twists and turns.  I’m still not sure where it is taking me, nor am I sure where I’ll end up.  But do we ever?

More eyewitness testimony

Seems my gator hunting antics have brought commentors out of the woodwork and I’m getting more eyewitness accounts of Alligators here in the North Alabama area.

The first was from Matthew who responded to my post, Gator Hunting in North Alabama.   Here’s what he had to share:

Somewhere around 2001 or 02 I caught one while fishing in Limestone bay at night. It was a farily small one about 2 feet at the most. I hear about some others but that it the only one that I have actually seen personally. Blackwell Swamp is also said to have some but I have yet to see one there even after a lot of hours canoeing over the years there.

I’ve been in both Blackwell Swamp and Limestone Bay hunting, thus far with no success.  But its good to get more conformation that I’ve been looking in the right places.  I’ll keep looking in Limestone Bay, as I’ve gotten the most reports of gators in that area.

Maegan had this to say in a comment to the same post:

I know for a fact there are aligators in north alabama. My family and i have been camped out in Mallard Creek camp ground and saw a gator. The manager of the camp ground warned us about feeding the ducks because he had spoted a gator between 10 to 12 foot long. Try the areas around mallard creek and fox creek in Lawrence and Morgan county

I’m not familiar with Mallard Creek or Fox Creek, but you can be sure I will become so.  I’m getting more and more willing to go farther and farther afield in my search.  I’ve been a somewhat lazy kayak/canoe person, having mostly confined myself to about a 20 minute radius of my house.  I’ve certainly expanded that this summer.

Not a comment to the website, but I’ve been given a clue as to where a few nests might be.  On Sunday I got caught out on the Tennessee River during a thunderstorm.  (This is the great story I alluded to in this post, and I’ll post more about it as soon as I get the pictures off the camera.)  As a result, I ended up taking shelter in a cave just off the river.  I hid out in this cave with a few locals who were also out and about in a kayak and a canoe.  They had just found what they believed where two alligator nests near that same cave.  I got a good description of how to get to the area, but couldn’t investigate this past Sunday because of the weather.

Friends and family have also been talking up my crazy idea of Alligators in the area, and I get more reports from people I know.  It is clear that the majority of the reports are in the Wheeler area.  (I suspect that Mallard and Fox Creeks are too.)

So thanks to everyone reporting in on their gator sightings and sharing your gator stories.  I hope this trend continues!  And for those of you who canoe or kayak, let me know!  If you’re in the area, maybe we can paddle together!

The Politics of Theology

A friend of mine recently told me that she homechurches.  It was a tongue and cheek response to a complaint I twittered during the latest church business meeting I attended. She also pointed out that being a homechurcher makes her statistically holier than thou. Also we can wear lingerie to mass.

That aside, she brings up an important point.  People experience both Church and God in different way.  It’s very hard to say that someones actions aren’t “Christian” or aren’t “holy” when what you’re really saying is “your view of theology differs from mine.”

Ultimately “Church” is an attempt to convince people that theology you practice is the “right” one.  Clearly we’ve been unsuccessful at it since we haven’t been able to create one “true” church.  So instead we find a church that suits our theology or is persuasive enough to overcome our disagreements.

Finding such a church proved increasingly difficult for my family at the turn of the century.  I didn’t feel a connection to the church I grew up in.  At the same time, I learned I didn’t make a good Methodist, and left the church I’d found a comfortable theology with after the Bishop moved the pastor that attracted us to the church. I intellectually understand the concept of changing the pastors to prevent a cult of personality, but ultimately it is the personality of a church that makes me want to attend.

Ultimately one woman showed my family where we connected the most, and that connection came about because of our similar theology and life situations.  While I no longer attended my home church, I did attend a special Christmas service every year.  It was at one of those services that a new pastor at the church grabbed me and my wife and basically talked us into giving the church another chance.  She managed to do this by connecting with us in a way that no pastor had since my childhood.

That woman is Jana Williams.  She understood the basic anger my wife and I had with God over our inability to conceive a child.  Jana had gone through the same issues and ended up adopting a wonderful girl prior to her arrival at the church.  She’s currently well along in adopting another child.  In that time my wife and I have adopted two children of our own, and so we have much in common personally and thankfully theologically with Jana.

Since I gave up on my childhood church the entire staff had changed.  None of the pastors of my youth still lead the church.  In fact, one of my youth group members is now on staff at the church as a minister.  So I’m happy to find that with the change of staff my old home has become my new church home.

I’ve gone into this detail for a reason.  It’s important to realize that I did search for a home.  While I may be in my childhood home, it isn’t out of habit or comfort.  Many of the same disconnect issues are there, but I ignore them because the theology and the people mean more to me.  And Jana and her husband, who is also a minister at the church, mean more to me.

As a rule, I don’t like politics.  I used to think politics was everything, but now I loath it.  Personally I think all politicians are crooked and worthless and I don’t care if they are elephants or asses.  This dislike extends all the way to church politics, a topic I’ve ignored for years.  Until recently.

I’d heard rumblings of dislike surrounding the politics of my church for a couple of years.  I didn’t pay much attention because I didn’t want to know.  I don’t know or care what cliques are present in the church.  I attend for the theology and the opportunity for my children to be exposed to what I think is a good and healthy view of church and Christ. But now I’m thinking I’m going to have to rethink my self imposed ignorance.

One of the ways I serve my church is to participate in duties as one of the sound techs for the services.  It’s a skill I have, so using it for the good of the church is easy.  This past week was my week for duty, and normally that is no problem.  Except that this Wednesday night was a business meeting.  Church business.  Which is really just another way of saying Church Politics.

Since I was not up to speed on the political maneuvers of the church, I wasn’t really prepared for the onslaught of new “policies” from the “personnel committee.”  I’m still unclear as to what prompted the four proposals for policy changes that were introduced.  At least one of them seemed to be specifically aimed at hurting the people who mean so much to me at the church.  The Williams.

I’m not going to pretend to understand exactly how the decisions of the personnel committee came to be.  What disturbs me is that they don’t seem to match what I view the church’s theology and tradition to be.

Jana had a brilliant and exciting study idea, and requested a study leave to pursue it.  I was to help her with it and had gotten quite excited about it and bombarded her with emails and suggestions on how to go about studying it.  Then she stopped asking me questions and stopped talking about it.  I just thought I’d come on to strong so I didn’t ask any questions, but it turned out the Personnel committee had denied her study leave.

They did, however, approve her husband’s leave.  Seems some on the committee didn’t like the idea that two pastors would take study leave at the same time.  Never mind that they are married.  Never mind that NOT taking the leave together increased the burden and difficulty of the leave and never mind that the study plan of one of them would really impact the church.  No, they just couldn’t possibly take leave at the same time, even though they planned the leave for the time when it would impact the church the least.

Whatever the reasoning behind this, I can not believe it is coincidental that the committee chose to propose a change to the leave policy of the church immediately following their denial of Jana’s study leave.  In the past the policy was at the discretion of the senior pastor.  But now, the personnel committee wanted to be involved in any decision regarding leave that would make two ministers have overlapping leave of more than a week.

This would mean any time Jana and her husband decided to take a vacation of more than a week they would have to justify and explain their plans to the approval of the personnel committee.  A cruise, to visit family, to go drink margaritas on the beach had to have the explicit approval of this committee.  (I’m not suggesting that Jana drinks.  She is a baptist preacher after all)

And I’m supposed to believe that they didn’t attempt to institute this policy immediatly following the denial of Jana’s request to take two months leave with her husband?

Now how fair would it be to you if you had to justify your leave request with your HR department every single time you wanted to leave?  Your supervisor would no longer be allowed to approve accrued leave that you had already earned, but instead had to pass on your request to the HR department.  Most of us would be quite upset with that kind of arrangement, but that is exactly what happened here.

Personally I found it a slap in the face to the senior pastor and an unfair burden to our only married staff members.  It was almost a vote of no confidence by the committee in our senior pastors ability to manage his staff.  Either that, or a slap in the face of the only married staffers.  Either way, it isn’t a nice way to run your business.  Your church business.

Thankfully the policy as written didn’t pass.  Instead, the policy was amended at the meeting to allow the senior pastor the authority to approve leave for up to three weeks of overlapping leave.  I’d rather have had the entire policy done away with, but at least it was significantly weakened prior to passing.

So now I’m at a crossroads.  I can no longer be blind to the politics at the church, nor can I assume that they aren’t intended to hurt someone.  Or at least, if not intended to hurt, then not enough thought went into them about how they would really effect real people.  And something in MY theology says that’s not right.  So now I’m left to decide if this church and my theology really do mesh.

I was happier when I was ignorant.  Isn’t there a saying about that?

Death of a Building

I’m not sure if death is the right word, but it will do. I witnessed a building die this week. Normally I wouldn’t care. This is Huntsville, right? Buildings die all the time, ripped down to build the latest trendy drugstore or lawyer office. But in this case it was the building that I’d spent more time in than my own house for the past 7 years.

In April of 2000 I got hired on as a producer at one of the trendiest dot-com in town. Well, it is Huntsville after all, there wasn’t exactly a ton of dot-com companies in town. But thanks to the dot-com bubble, and a company run by engineers who couldn’t figure out how to market their product to teenagers, (Frankly, they couldn’t figure out how to market anything to anyone) on October 11, 2001 I lost my job. On November 11, 2001 I started up with a new company. A contractor for the Army… and again, if it wasn’t for the Army or NASA who would we work for in this town?

So I merged into the traffic of the Redstone Arsenal, way back in 2001. And I never left. At least, not yet. I got sucked into the money pit that contracting life gives you. It was easy to do, they pay well, not great but a month unemployed at it was enough to make me jump at the chance. And I’ve managed to get a penny or two more over the years. And from 2001 till May of 2008 I worked out of the same building. In Army talk, I worked in building 4489.

Now 4489 has a ton of history behind it. John Wayne, Werner Von Braun, Bob Hope and many others walked through the doors of 4489. For most of its existence, 4489 was the film studio for Redstone Arsenal while Redstone Arsenal was THE place we tried to go to the moon. (Until President Johnson screwed it up, but that’s another story.)

Today, 4489 is a bunch of rubble.  No, they’ve even cleaned up the rubble and it is nothing more than a scar on the ground.  It has been completely wiped from the face of the earth.

A part of me is sad.  A part of me is glad to be out of the rat infested cockroach haven.

Life Changing Technology

Technology can be lifechanging. In medicine new tech could be a matter of life or death. But forget all that heady stuff, here is my list of the most personal life changing tech of the past twenty some-odd years.

Everything from Apple:
Okay, this is a big topic. Apple computer has certainly changed my life over the past couple of decades. From there revolutionary computers (which Is why we all have mice in our hands) to the iPhone I’m using to write this blog, Apple impacts my life more than any other technology on the planet.

Before I am labeled a MacEvangelist, although I am, let me say this: I use PCs to and even like them. This isn’t about which is the better computer but which impacts my life the greatest. I use Final Cut Pro daily. I love my iPhone. My home has 20 Macs, with most of them working including a Mac 128, with the signatures in the case. (for the uninitiated, that’s a really old mac) Apple permiates my life in a way no other company does. If I was richer, it would be even more in my life. I want a big screen tv with an apple tv box.

Microsoft Office:
Love it our hate it, Office dominates much of what we do on a computer. Word has all but eliminated the idea of a secretary while powerpoint has addicted more executives than meth. I don’t think I go through a day without dealing with some sort of office document.

The digital video recorder has become the main way I watch television today. I would never have kept up with Michael and Fiona (Burn Notice, I love that show) without it. I watch very few shows with any regularity. All of them are watched through the DVR rather than “live.”

Cellular Telephones:
I know I’ve recently become enamored with my iPhone lately, but I’m talking cell phones in general. For nearly two years I have been a part of a growing number of Americans who have given up landlines in favor of going compleatly wireless. My first phone was a massive contraption in a bag back in 1988. Today it Is this tiny iPhone that can do things that bag phone couldn’t dream of. But it has the same phone number. That’s right. Twenty years this christmas.

Fingerprint scanners
Okay, I don’t really know if that technology I’d new or not. And frankly I hope I never need it again. I adopted both my kids and in Alabama you need a background check. Usually one goes to the local sheriff and gets one the old fashion ink and paper way. That gets sent off and scanned and a few weeks later you get a report. Only it didn’t work that way for us.

With a court date looming and my wife’s fingerprints rejected we needed drastic measures. So my wife drove to Montgomery and had her fingerprints scanned directly into the system. The result was a report on the judges desk in minutes. And a new baby in or home.

Now that is truly life changing.