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Archive for the ‘Time Capsule’ Category

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The Basin Improvement Committee of 1890: it sounds like an exciting group to be a part of, don’t you think? Nestled on the heart of Main Street in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this marker commemorates the intentional efforts of a small group to make things better and to improve life within the community.

If asked, I would likely say that a basin is a small container of water. According to Dictionary.com, it is that, and more…

noun
1. a circular container with a greater width than depth, becoming smaller toward the bottom, used chiefly to hold water or other liquid, especially for washing.
2. any container of similar shape, as the pan of a balance.
3. the quantity held by such a container: We need another basin of water to dilute the mixture.
4. a natural or artificial hollow place containing water.
5. a partially enclosed, sheltered area along a shore, often partly man-made or dredged to a greater depth, where boats may be moored: a yacht basin.

I must admit, definition number 5 is my favorite. You see, I have a basin of my own, and the improvement committee has been meeting the past two days to make it even stronger. “A partially enclosed, sheltered area along a shore, often partly man-made or dredged to a greater depth…“: it’s called marriage, and yes, it is only partly man made.

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To coin a phrase, I might say “those who go away together stay close”. Little Frau and I first visited Eureka Springs in the Summer of 1991. Yes, for those of you young ‘ens keeping score at home, it was indeed last century. The Frau and I had been married all of about two years, maybe a little less. We were young. We were in love. We were broke. Truth be told, we weren’t really broke, we just didn’t have much money to spend, so everything was carefully allocated to make sure we could do the trip and make it home.

The pinnacle of the trip was supposed to be a day at Silver Dollar City in Branson. Like I said, we were young, and traipsing around an amusement park in the heat seemed like the be all and end all of a good time. As we almost ran toward the ticket booth together, hand in hand, a man called out to me. It seems that he and his bride of 20+ years had gone to Silver Dollar City on their honeymoon, and returned each year as season pass holders. With the purchase of their season passes came one pair of single day tickets each year, and each year on their anniversary day visit, they would seek out a young couple to take in with them for free.

Almost in shock (remember, I was the ripe old age of 24), I asked the man if we could repay them, buy them lunch, or something else. His answer? “Do something nice for your wife with the money, and that will be just what I wanted“. We thought about that couple and their request all day. We looked at kitschy souvenirs. We thought about going to a show. Ultimately, we decided to use the money to spend a night in a Bed and Breakfast here in Eureka.

It’s not that spending a week sleeping on the ground in a $19.99 pup tent from Wal Mart isn’t romantic, but we were beginning to feel the trip growing on us. An indoor shower, air conditioner, and a bed turned out to be a pretty nice break in the trip.

A few years have come and gone since that trip. Life and kids have placed a few demands on the days and the dollars. Little Frau and I don’t get away as much anymore, at least for just the two of us. But, courtesy of kids at camp and a mid week July 4th calendar, the stars aligned for a brief 2 day excursion back to Eureka. We were not so adventurous as to desire a day in the amusement park this go round. It seems this Basin Improvement Committee of two finds catching up with old friends, casual dining, a small bit of kitschy souvenir shopping, reading, and napping more the order of the day. And it has all happened at a little Bed and Breakfast just a few doors down and 21 years removed from the last Eureka meeting of our little group.

I think we may not wait so long to reconvene the next time…

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Remember the 70’s? Television was still in it’s adolescence. We did not have VCR’s, DVR’s, or Direct TV. We had 3 to 5 channels, and the TV Guide. When you had a show you really wanted to watch, the anticipation was almost palpable. Then, those fateful words would be heard: “We are temporarily experiencing technical difficulties-please stand by”. Minutes turned to hours, and, you get the picture. Actually, you didn’t get any picture, and therein was the problem.

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I wrote the other day about the value of a good clipboard, especially in the hands of a digital refugee. What about in the presence of a digital Chernobyl?

Little Frau had another doctor appointment last week, this time
with a new specialist. The anticipation
was almost palpable. Then, those fateful words: “I can’t get the computer to connect to the server. The doctor can’t see you till it does.”. Minutes turned to hours, and, you get the picture. Actually, you didn’t get any picture, at least, the doctor didn’t, and therein was the problem.

Anybody got a clipboard we can borrow?

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You can tell a lot about a hotel by how it is “equipped”. How was my lodging on this trip? Pretty nice, to be honest. The place my colleagues and I stayed was a small Inn located in a quaint Silicon Valley hamlet not far from our “secret” meeting locale. Aside from there being no coffee in the room, I can’t complain.

I found it interesting, however, to find the restroom equipped with an
ultra modern push button phone right next to the toilet. Ultra modern, maybe, when it was installed in 1985, that is. I wonder when the last time was that this phone set was used.

And it got me to thinking. (sorry to spoil the fun)

This visit to sunny CA was all about educational delivery systems, transformation versus substitution, pedagogy, and such. Our university has long prided itself on being a leader and innovator in putting technology to use in promoting student learning.

In the 60’s, we had a nationally recognized reel to reel tape dial up system where every student had a private assigned study carrell to use for accessing recordings of professors’ lectures. It was still in use during my freshmen year, and it seemed cool even then, although dated and old. That same year, we put the first computer lab on campus. They were Apple IIe computers, and my life was changed forever once I discovered the back room where they were set up.

Fast forward 26 years. My same university, where I am now a bleary eyed administrator instead of a wide eyed freshman, is using the latest Apple technology. But, much like the “Bat. Phone”, is it misplaced and unnecessary? iTunesU, anyone?

A laptop for every student; a chicken in every pot. Is that what the masses really need; is that what they are clamoring for? Is that what we need in order to transform?

They say the only things guaranteed in life are death, taxes, and change, and for many Republicans, only a partial subset of that list is necessary. (you choose)

To quote the past philosophers of Jefferson Starship/Airplane fame, “winds of change are blowing by”. We need to get on board that bird.

No matter the format, I have faith my colleagues and I will navigate the changing climate and find a way to step it up a notch.

If you have some thoughts on that, feel free to give me a call to discuss. During our call, please ignore if you hear water running in the background. In this modern era, there’s no telling where I might be when you call…

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I’m home sick today. Not fun, to say the least. You wake up, stumble around wondering how to go about your day, and then it happens. You hit your knees. Bowing, yes, but not in prayer. Offering sacrifices to the porcelain throne is more like it. Hours of sleep, sweating, and bad hair. The protein adorning the top of my head looks something like that belonging to a cheesy bad televangelist. Mr. Nasty, indeed.

So, aside from sleep, I do what every red-blooded American male does during a flat on your back illness. I watch movies on DVD. Not just any movies, mind you. Guy movies, like Jason Bourne, James Bond, John Wayne, and You’ve Got Mail. Yes, you read it correctly. The Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan Classic of the late 90’s is playing as this is written. It is a classic. Internet history, New York, imagery, great quotes, and a cute co-star all rolled into one flick.

“Do you ever feel you become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s Box of all the secret hateful parts — your arrogance, your spite, your condescension — has sprung open. Someone provokes you, and instead of just smiling and moving on, you zing them. Hello, it’s Mr. Nasty”. – Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You’ve Got Mail.

Great quote, and great acknowledgement of the bad stuff in life, and not just those thing we sacrifice when bowing before the great porcelain throne…

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1984: it was a book by author George Orwell, and as the 70’s raced toward the 80’s, everyone speculated on what the real 1984 would be like. And it was a book about an all seeing character called “Big Brother”, and BB was not a very nice person, apparently.

So what did actually happen in the real 1984? Please allow me to tell you. I was introduced to new friends. And then, they made me eat Quiche. (imagine Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow cadence and inflection here).

“Real men don’t eat quiche”. I had always heard that, and yet, I did not know what the stuff really was all about. Enter new friends/mentors Scot, Ted, and Bev. Three guys (including yours truly), a girl, and brunch at a “quiche place”. I will grant, it may be a stretch to have considered Ted and Bev as full fledged friends in 84 (as I hardly saw them again for almost 20 years), but time would tend to that, among other things.

Scot was my dad. He still is, in a manner of speaking. 1984: good “kid”, good mentor. 2011: good man, good mentor. Scot, 22 and free, adopted me as his 18 year old college kid at MRCC. A little laundry, a little football, and a little food was shared over the next year or two until Scot moved away.

But one instance, one moment of interaction, sticks in my brain, and that is sharing quiche with these three, Newly minted young adults and college grads, making their way as I tried to find mine in those first few weeks away from home.

As we drove back from the restaurant that day, I could not help but sit in awe in Scot’s shiny new blue 84 TBird. Here I was in the presence of people who I thought “had arrived”. A newly married couple, a couple of employed accountants, and all the “trappings” of those “not burdened by life or college”. As we drove back to drop me off at the OC campus that day and these men genteely explained to me the finer points of dressing for success (you wondered, “why that picture?”, I know you did), Scot almost wrecked the car at I-44 and Broadway while looking at my bad polyester tie and shiny patterned shirt.

Time, life, and goals took Ted and Bev to Brazil, Scot to Michigan/Dallas/Michigan and all points between, and me to Texas before we all somehow landed back in OKC. And when I was reintroduced to them many moons later, we all had changed, and that is the point where I believe I can begin to refer to them as friends, indeed (and in deed). You see, we have much more in common as 40 something’s than we ever did “back in the day”. Scot and his wife Dawn even share a reality of life with Sherry and I in the real world that is RA and autoimmune diease.

I’ve learned a lot from watching and listening to these guys the past few years. We even dress alike, although that may not be worth bragging about.

And in 2011, I think the real “Big Brother” is watching over us, but this one is much greater and gentler than that of Orwell’s imagination. His name is Jesus, and He is the author and perfecter of the faith of the imperfect. That’d be guys like us (but not Bev, Dawn, or Sherry. They are perfect, in practically every way).

In closing, maybe real men do eat quiche, or real men in the making. I hear it is high in protein.

So, gents, if you read this, let’s plan lunch soon. I’m buying. But this time, let’s go for some manly comfort food, 2011 style.

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Have you ever had one of those days?    If you will allow, let me tell you about part of mine.   I believe Albert Einstein was once quoted to say “God is subtle“.     That’s a little how today feels.

I opened the door this Sunday morning to find a new copy of “the Yellow Pages” sitting on the front porch.    Largely a seldom read, often irrelevant book that takes up space in the house, I brought it in and dutifully found it a place in the kitchen cabinet.    Shortly thereafter, Sherry and I were briefly discussing my recent preparatory workout for an upcoming half marathon that I’m going to do my best to survive, and she stated simply that she was “proud of me”.     It seems that this upcoming event has become a sort of bucket list item, something to do while I still can, and it comes with a mixture of embarrassment both in the doing and in the fact that I’ve never attempted something requiring such discipline and preparation before.

An hour or two later, we were sitting in our Bible class at church discussing the book of First John.   It was then that I noticed, really for the first time, that the pages of the Bible in my hands were beginning to turn yellow, as if it were some type of ancient document.    “How can this be”, I wondered, knowing full well that I had only owned this copy of the Bible since Junior High School.    

And that got me to thinking. (sorry to spoil the fun)     If the pages of this seemingly new copy (a mere 33 years young) of the Bible are beginning to show such wear, what do I look like to others?    Is the wear and the age showing to such a degree?      Does my face bear a strong resemblance to a weathered piece of heavy stock paper?    While admittedly being a little silly here, it does make me wonder if the living contents of my jar of clay are as true and correct as those words contained in the ageless Word of God contained in this deteriorating copy currently in my possession.

I remember the first time a student at the university where I work referred to me as “sir”.      You can’t call me sir, I thought, I’m not old enough to be a “sir”.    That being said, I’m not sure that any in my generation were ever quite as young as the students of today.     I guess it’s all in the perspective.    

The chronological clock for me rolls to 45 today.     I sometimes quote the great philosopher, Jon Bon Jovi, by saying “we’re halfway there, living on a prayer”.     More than halfway there, is probably more like it.    Although the women comprising the older generation of family I’ve known have lived to their mid 90’s, the men have not fared as well.     How long will I continue?    I guess that’s for the LORD to know and for me to find out.

God speaks to us, and we should listen.    And His testimony is true.    His testimony endures, even after the pages of my Bible and countless others have dried up and withered away.

In the meantime, as the tone and consistency of my physical pages begin/continue to change with time, I am left to ask if my testimony is enduring the test of time.    Is my testimony true?       Will it endure the ages, even after my “life’s daily pages” have stopped turning?

 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 
 (I John 1:7)   

Truer words were never spoken.

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There is a great scene, one of many, from the classic John Wayne 1960’s era movie, “The Alamo“; “The Raid for Cattle”. Historically inaccurate, to a degree only Hollywood can deliver, it made for good drama in the middle of an already great movie.

It seems our heros were running out of food in the mission, turned fortress, and decided to sneak out one night, under Davy Crockett’s leadership, and steal hundreds of cattle from right under the Mexican Army’s nose. Now why, you may ask, after enduring days of siege would a carefully planned raiding band go into the heart of the enemy camp just to steal a bunch of cattle, when they could have used said raid to inflict massive damage to the enemy and flee for safety in the dark of night, living to fight another day? You will have to ask the director that one. I guess they had a hankerin’ for a steak dinner.

As our heros were returning to their broken down fortress on the Texas plains, their bovine bounty in tow, a carefully orchestrated progression of defensive ramparts was presented by another of our heros, Col. Travis. As each defensive line would execute their shots, his orders repeatedly rang out “close Ranks; fall back”.

There’s a lesson here for us, amidst this Hollywood hoopla. Close Ranks – Take risks for one another when there’s a need; come to the aid of of one another when peril awaits; stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, when defending a position is necessary. And, lest we forget, don’t neglect the need to Fall Back, when the moment calls for it.

The oldest daughter came home tonight from college, the whole mile or so from that distant locale, to enjoy a couple of days of Fall Break R&R with the family. Time to fall back and close ranks.

Daylight savings time will be ending soon. We often question this annual right of passage, but I find value in making a point to “Fall Back” when the darkness is closing in. Mornings become brighter, and we all catch that small dose of “gaining another hour” in our hectic life, borrowed though it may be.

So, it’s time to be off to pack for a little time at the lake with said College escapee. I should remember to pack the Heinz 57: there may be a raid for cattle ahead…

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