Archive for March, 2014

Help the Homeless

This year has had a theme of working with the homeless.   We’ve been making mats for the homeless that are made out of plastic bags.   We’ve served food to the homeless on the Plaza as well as serving at Synergy’s Teen Resiliency Center.  Plus, we’re also putting together kits of hygiene and other items to give to the homeless.

We wanted to give the youth some context for all of these projects.  So, on Sunday, Harold Foster was a guest speaker at our Youth Group meeting and he shared about his 15 years working with the homeless.  In closing, he issued a great challenge:  read Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Chapter 1 and in verses 9 through 12, wherever it say “you” insert your own name.

Our selection for book club this month has been The Glass Castle as the author reflects back on life moving frequently from one home to another.  After she had moved out on her own, her parents were even homeless for a few years.  One particular exchange (between the author and her mother) stood out to me:

“Things usually work out in the end.”
“What if they don’t?”
“That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”

Seeing the challenges faced by others put my own challenges in a different light.  Even more so, it’s been eye-opening to see the impact on our community of the death of a 9-year-old boy in a tragic accident.

How can you help the homeless?

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AUMC celebrates 100 Years of existence with 100 smiles at the NKC Snake Saturday Parade

Yesterday, I re-posted Jonathan’s advance blog about our church’s participation in the Snake Saturday parade; here’s the report on how things went as we had 100 Smiles representing Avondale United Methodist Church as we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our church. I’m very grateful to see Jonathan’s blog since (as our designated volunteer) I wasn’t able to participate in or even see our float.

Be Swift, Be Precise


Avondale United Methodist Church made its goal: 100 people for 100 smiles celebrating 100 years of the church as it marched Saturday in the North Kansas City Snake Saturday Parade. That number was made up of the church attendees and representatives of the various scouting group that the church sponsors and supports.


Elizabeth Boman finally figured out how to do a headcount. She gave everyone a number, and if she came back and they already had a number, then she knew not to count them again. She went around once, giving Carly 16, me 17 and Nathan 19. By the time she came around Betsy was back from walking Rocky up and down the street to get 93. Elizabeth went on to complete her second circuit.  Then I turned around and started talking to people until I found Laura McDaniels and child — they didn’t have numbers.  So I found…

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Snake Saturday Parade — mini-preview

Tomorrow is the Snake Saturday Parade – do any of my readers have suggestions for songs related to Irish or smiles? If so, please share TODAY since the parade is in the morning and I’m needing to send suggestions to Jonathan.

Be Swift, Be Precise

Miles and Miles of Irish Smiles is the theme for this year’s Snake Saturday Parade. As we have for the last several years, my family will be marching in the parade, with a float from Avondale United Methodist Church.

This is the church’s 100th birthday, and we want to have 100 smiles marching and singing with our float and banners and signs.

It is the singing part that I am responsible for.

“Just find some Irish songs about smiles that we can sing.” Sounds simple.  Isn’t.

Okay, “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” is a good song, the chorus anyway.  Try to have a group of people sing verses and chorus while marching, and it is liable to fall apart.

And for other “smile” songs.  I did web searches and found several.  But I didn’t know any of them, and most of them weren’t exactly singable range for the average group…

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Observations on the Conference Season: A Short Guide for the Uninitiated

Since I’m getting ready to travel to Denver for a convention/conference next week, it seemed only fitting that I should repost this.

Chronicle of a Dangerous World

Flights are filled these days with workers heading to industry conferences. As a public service to you first-time conference-goers, and as a refresher for those who have been unable to attend in recent years, what follows is a rundown of what you are likely to encounter.

Brainiac Futurist. Typically a keynote speaker, the Brainiac Futurist (or BF), proclaims that “everything has changed.” He or she is a high priest of the digerati. Their holy book is a small device of silicon and metal, encased in plastic. All that emanates from the holy book is revealed truth. The world is flat—or “horizontal”—and you need to “get it.” Some in the audience will be hypnotized by this astounding insight and become practicing disciples of the new creed. Though the BF is an industry intellectual, the smartest person in the grand ballroom, BF is incapable of recognizing the mental straightjacket of…

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Favorite Quotations

What’s your favorite quotation?

My friend & mentor Duane Hallock had so many favorites, he created a page on his blog: and actually a comment he made on Facebook is what prompted this blog.

My brother has a bulletin board with a collection of different quotations.

One of my favorite quotations (which I had on my college dormroom door) is from the Rush song “Free Will” and it says “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

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Annoyed, Busted, Changed ?

Through the years, I’ve developed a stubborn dislike for certain shows or actors … something without any valid reason.

While living in Ohio, I caught a commercial promoting an upcoming episode of the show X-Files.  Awhile later, I saw another promo and either it was for the same episode or something remarkably similar.  Based on this limited experience, I decided that I had no interest in ever watching the show because it was completely unoriginal.  I stubbornly stuck to my guns even though everything about the show sounds like the type of show I’d normally like.  My then-roommate (Dave Sakymster) and my now-roommate (and wife) Liz both made fun of me for this stubbornness but I stuck to my guns and don’t believe I’ve ever watched the show.

Another show met a different fate.  I’d heard lots of people talk about Big Bang Theory but I just didn’t see the appeal.  However, this time, I tried giving it a chance and watched a few episodes which just confirmed my previous prejudice that Sheldon is annoying.  So, obviously, this confirmed my earlier judgement about X-Files and that made me feel pretty good about myself and my wonderful judgment.   Then, a few weeks ago, I was in zone-out mode where I just left the TV on without changing the channel (even though I’m normally only watching shows on the DVR so I can skip commercials) and I saw an episode of Big Bang Theory which actually made my laugh.  I then watched another episode and had the same reaction.  This wasn’t enough for me to add it to my list of shows to record and watch later but it’s made me second-guess my across-the-board rejection of the show.  Surely this doesn’t mean that I’d need to reconsider my rejection of X-Files, does it?   Say it ain’t so!

Switching from TV shows to actors, I can’t stand Adam Sandler – I guess I can see why some find him amusing but I just don’t get it.  Actually, he falls under the Saturday Night Live curse … if an actor makes it big on Saturday Night Live, the rest of his career tends to be a disappointment.  There are exceptions to this: John Belushi is amazing in Animal House and even better in Blues Brothers, Bill Murray has had a brilliant career, and Eddie Murphy had a couple classics amongst a bunch of lousy movies.  However, recent stars of Saturday Night fall into the same trap as Adam Sandler – what makes a somewhat amusing sketch during a few minutes on TV just doesn’t translate into a 90-minute movie.   However, I have this annoying habit that once I start watching something, I want to see how it ends.  So, a few years back, the house was watching “50 First Dates” (despite my protests) and I sat in the living room complaining about how untalented he was (leaving the room would’ve been far too simple) but then it was time for me to leave for a meeting when the movie was almost over.  So, a few days later, I’m at home alone and notice that the same movie is on and almost over.  Wondering how it ended, I turned it on and was watching the end when someone walked in … busted!  I had chosen to watch an Adam Sandler movie.   I still can’t stand him but I had to know how it ended.

Finally, I don’t like the Baldwin brothers … any of them.  I went to a movie several years back (don’t remember the name of it) on what turned out to my last date with the last person I dated before my now wife.  The only positive thing I can remember about the movie was that the character played by one of the Baldwin brothers gets beat up.  I just don’t like the whole family.  However, I’m a big fan of the Jack Ryan books and movies and think The Hunt for Red October is a classic.  I justify this with the fact that the movie really stars Sean Connery even though he plays the Russian while Jack Ryan is played by a Baldwin.   Yet, what’s my explanation for being a fan of the sales strategy classic “Glengary Glen Ross” which also stars one of the brothers? I saw it while working on my MBA and it’s a classic for anyone involved in sales (and as one of my marketing research mentors once said … if you’re not in sales, you better support someone who does) and it is definitely not approved for young ears.  Another classic is Backdraft but once again, I like it despite the Baldwin brother.  Finally, one of my favorite movies of all time is The Usual Suspects but when I looked it up, I realized that it also has a Baldwin brother in it. By the way, I have no idea which of the Baldwin brothers is in any of these movies but they’re making it more difficult to say that I don’t like any of them when they keep appearing in great movies.

So, the lesson here is that sometimes the sum is greater than the parts.  Or that maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.  But is the “old dog learning new tricks” the actor or is it me the viewer?

Like the Book, Detest the Protagonist?

In the blog below, I’m the one that said it was my favorite book from our church’s book club. As Jonathan described, this was a great book club discussion and I enjoyed seeing people really get into debating different topics this morning.

Be Swift, Be Precise

Can you like a book, yet really detest the main character?

Perhaps that isn’t a fair question to ask, especially when the book in question is a non-fiction book.

The Avondale United Methodist Church book club just met this morning to discuss Mountains Beyond Mountains about the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti and around the world through Partners in Health .

One member of the book club commented on Facebook about it being the favorite book he has read for book club of all the books we have read in the clubs existence over the past few years.

To which Betsy, my wife, made the comment this past week, that the more she read the book, the more she realized she disliked Farmer, and resented the space he took up in her head as she gamely plowed ahead to actually finish the book.

I kept encouraging her to…

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