Monthly Archives: September 2006

Of the Byrds and Bees – err, I mean Bible

It is a gorgeous fall day. I usualy tell myself I love winter best, but days like today make think twice. It’s just too perfect.

When I think of the seasons, I can’t help but hum Turn Turn Turn by the Byrds and its foundation, lines from the third chapter of Ecclesastes (or, as a clever 9th grade public schol teacher once called, it Hebrew poetry).

As is often the case*, the “remake” pales when held up next to the original.

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven :
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to a time to embrace and time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and time to throw away;
a time to tear and time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

The only thing I might add is “a time for lunch.”

*Except for Ocean’s 11 and The Italian Job. The originals are star-studded Hell-bound train wrecks .


If I could put time in a bottle…

In March, a tornado blew through Monroe City, Mo. and pretty much tore First Baptist Church up from its foundation. The pastor and several members were in the basement at the time.

After the skies had cleared the pastor told me he was stumbling through what was left of the 106-year-old building and he happened across a small, copper box poking out from under the cornerstone of what used to be the auditorium. It was a time capsule.

Six months later, with an insurance check in the bank and meeting temporarily in nearby school, the church opened the time capsule. Inside was:

  • A whole Bible (King James, of course)
  • A New Testament
  • A listing of church membership in 1899
  • A copy of the church constitution (possibly the original)
  • Three newspapers from the era, one describing a fire that destroyed the church (thus the rebuilding of the auditorium and the opportunity to “hide” the time capsule). The box had been soldered shut and because it was sealed and hidden from the elements, the newspapers are still “plyable,” not brittle or yellowed.
  • A nail (presumably from construction)
  • An 1899 penny

Isn’t that amazing?

The pastor told me that once they begin construction, they will reseal the box with its contents and will make a new time capsule of artifacts from 2006.

I know this sounds like a sixth-grade social studies project, but what would you put in a time capsule? What represents you? What represents your time?

Incidently, here are the lyrics from Jim Croce’s classic, Time in a Bottle. Does anyone else remember the classic Muppet version of this?

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with
If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

Amen, Glory and Hallelujah!

Today, the esteemed head honcho here at work issued a decree, the repercussions of which are still reverberating joyously across the fruited plain.


“In our last Exec Team meeting, the ‘guys’ brought up the issue of dress code for the staff. The team voted to change our dress code to allow wearing of golf/polo type shirts. We checked an ‘etiquette’ website to determine the definition of business casual. That site included three button polo/golf type shirts. So we are now adjusting the dress code to permit this.”

It’s hard to explain what a happy day this truly is.

Minnesota Nights: The Ballad of Ricky-Brian.

OK, so this isn’t so much a ballad as it is a few reflections of my time in Minnesota, specifically Minneapolis-St. Paul. Too bad though. I enjoy ballads.

Minneapolis is a contraction of the Dakota Indian word “minne” meaning “lake” and the Greek “polis” which of course means “city.” Thus, City of Lakes. Indeed, I saw many lakes. Though I haven’t doen extensive research, I’m going to guess St. Paul is named after St. Paul.

St. Paul is home to Bethel University, which hosted the journalism conference that cost my employer a grand total of $910.34. Bethel is affiliated with the Swedish Baptists (in ACT language, OBU:BGCO::Bethel:Swedish Baptists).

It was strange to hear Minneapolitans (rhymes with Neapolitan) refer to themselves as midwesterners, although I suppose they are if you want to get picky about it.

The Twin Cities have “stoplights” on the entrance ramps leanding onto their highways. If traffic is really bad, the light turns red and you have to stop at the end of the onramp and can’t merge onto the highway. When the system “senses” an upcoming break in traffic, it turns green just long enough for one car to enter the highway then turns red again. It flashes yellow, you just drive normally and merge like you would anywhere else. In theory, it keeps traffic flowing and saves time across the board, but it confused the heck out of me. I had to ask my waitress the first night what was up.

The world’s largest mall, the Mall of America, calls Minneapolis its home. I’m not one of those guys who absolutley abhors shopping but it’s not something I normally think of as a recreational activity. Therefor, I feel I am ideally suited to judge the Mall of America as a tourist attraction.

First of all, it’s big. Not really that neat, not really that impressive, just big. It’s four stories tall, houses 570 stores, four different Starbucks, an aquarium and a small, Snoopy-themed amusement park. And a University of Minnesota satelite campus. I kid you not. Only in America can you shop at Macy’s during your breaks between class.

I embraced my inner nerdiness and thoroughly enjoyed my stop at the Prairie Home Companion store in the MoA. It’s kind of fun being the only person under the age of 55 who knows who Garrison Keillor is. I would have loved to see a live broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul, but tickets were $65.

Some random thoughts on air travel.

I hate Chicago’s O’Hare airport. It’s absurdly huge and signage and maps are in woefully short supply. Of the 20 or so airports I’ve passed through in the past two years, this is by far the least “traveler friendly.” I’m by no means an expert, but I have considerably more flying experience than the average traveler and I was confused for a good twenty minutes. Example: in St. Louis, my flight left from gate B7. Terminal B, gate 7. Easy-peasy, Japanesey. My flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul, which leaves in 35 minutes, is is doing so from Terminal 2, Concourse B, Gate 13, Subgate A. That’s right: 2B13A. I wouldn’t have been surprised to “catch a niner in there somewhere.” Chicago’s Midway airport, the hub I used this March went I came to see Queen is infinitely more navigable.

The ban on liquids and gels (and Chapstick!) is not being enforced very well, at least not in St. Louis or here at O’Hare. They announce that you aren’t allowed to carry them on board, but I easily could’ve smuggled on that disgusting green Powerade I bought out of desperation (Note: the slogan for Powerade is “Liquid Hydration.” Duh.) Once on board, they hand out bottled water, juices, etc. Sure, a very sharp flight attendant could notice my bottled water label didn’t match, but I’m pretty sure I could get away with it.

About 20 minutes from landing, the pilot (first mate, stewardess extraordinaire, whoever) announces that I should be turning off my electronic devices now. Unfortunately, I and the other 80 people listening to their iPods can’t here the announcement.

Do you remember that voice in the movie “Airplane” that says “The white zone is for loading and unloading only?” Well, here at O’Hare he’s saying “The Transportation Safety Administration has raised the security level to ORANGE.” What does this mean? Is this “has raised” meaning today? Is there a new threat I missed out on as I left for the airport at 4:25 this morning? Is this in reference to the liquid ban? And once we figure this out, what the hell does ORANGE mean?

Great, now I’m kinda hungry for an orange. Maybe they’ll serve non-exploding orange juice on the plane.

There’s a plastic owl sitting on top of the jetway just outside this window. I presume it’s to scare away birds. How dumb are birds if there are frightened by a stationary, plastic owl (in daylight no less) but not by the dozens of 100-ton screaming hunks of metal that are taking off or landing during any given minute?

I’m a pretty anti-social air traveler. I’m not into making “single serving friends” as our man Jack would say. I’ll smile and be polite to my fellow seat mates and apologize if I should happen to fall asleep and start snoring, but I’m just not into talking to strangers. I think we should all just shut up and read our complimentary copy of the in-flight magazine.

A corollary to this is that I really don’t like people that talk loudly on their Blackberry’s (no one has just cell phones anymore) while the plane is at the gate. There was an executive for (I think it’s funny one can be employed by trying to get other people employed) four rows ahead of me on my first flight and I’m pretty sure I know several important trade secrets.

This is beginning to get out of hand.

I’ll admit that I was screaming bloody murder and, were I the owner of my house instead of a merely a tenant, would have put my fist through the wall when I saw the replays that showed Oregon shouldn’t have had the opportunity to blow by OU in the closing minutes of Saturday’s game.

But now that the PAC-10 has offered an apology, (and quite frankly, I think we should be thrilled to get that much) can’t we all just say “Oh well” and get over it? Hell, the fact that gas is now below $2 a gallon is enough to make this Norman-born lad say, “O Who?”

Apparently, no, we can’t get over it. We never have, and we never will. Not that I’m proud of that. We look like a bunch of screaming, hayseed, whiner-bag idiots.

University of Oklahoma president (and former governor of Oklahoma and former U.S. senator), David Boren is demanding the game be stricken from the record books and as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, rednecks the likes of which are rarely seen this side of Stillwater are issuing death threats against the replay official.

It’s no wonder people outside the Midwest think Oklahomans all wear cowboy hats and have to worry about “injun” raids on their daily commute via horse. We’ve gone past the point of passionate fan and even advocate for athletic justice. Now we’re just proving once again how insecure we are as a state.

In 1945, Oklahoma wasn’t exactly the most cosmopolitan state in the Union. We were still reeling from the Dust Bowl and the Depression. In short, while the rest of the country was rebounding from the WWII economic boom, Okies were largely left behind and we got indignant about it. Don’t even get me started on our inferiority complex as it relates to the State of Texas.

So, then-OU president, George Cross, decided to give the state something to be proud of. He lobbied the state legislature for funding for the school, and specifically for the football team. “I would like to build a university which the football team can be proud of,” he said. They said yes and he, amazingly accomplished his goal.

Within the next 10 years, OU football was transformed from mediocre at best to powerhouse. They won two national championship (1955 and ’56) and posted the longest winning streak in football (highschool, college or pro), 47, a record that still stands today.

Oklahomans finally had something other than dirt farming to be proud of and we were thrilled. Too thrilled. One of my esteemed history professors taught, and I beleive, that from 1945 to today, we’ve had only one source of state pride and hope and it’s cost us both economically and socially from the Panhandle down to Little Dixie.

When we fall, it hurts more than say, when Southern Cal falls because the good people of Los Angeles have something positive to fall back on (like cheap, illegal labor!). Back here, nothing else matters because our projected season is tainted with a “1” under the L column.

So maybe Oklahomans can be forgiven for being put on suicide watch when OU loses this early in the season. For better or worse, we’re depressed and we’re not likely to change anytime soon.

But for the love of Bud Wilkinson, folks, death threats? We may not be above taking cheap shots at Texans, but surely we can cut a retired guy from Portland making a measley $400 a game some slack when he messes up once in his 20-year career. The nation, which was at least sympathetic up until Monday night, is now laughing at us as we beat the war drum and call for the scalp of The Zebra.

It’ll be OK, people. Now go back to worrying about those “injun” raids. I hear drums in the distance.

Having said all that, let me state for the record that I am Sooner born, Sooner bred, and when I die I’ll be Sooner dead. I was born within pooping distance* of Memorial Stadium. I LOVE Oklahoma, am EXTREMELY proud to be from the state and MISS it very much. I just think we should just be more proud of our people, red dirt, the fact that we colonized Bolivia and our official state meal, chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes than a sports team that is largely made up of expatriated Texans who have seen the light and crossed the Red River. Chicken-fried steak can never lose to Oregon, no matter who the ref is.

*Totally new phrase. Give me credit when you use it.