In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Friday, February 29, 2008

My New Favorite Web Site

I suggest everyone go to visit Improv Everywhere. It is awesome. I would love to participate in something like this.

My favorite is the Grand Central Freeze.

I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Other fun words...

Usually they are state names:


There are some funny pronunciations out there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What I Like...

Do you know what I like?

I like hearing someone who used to live in Texas (or perhaps other areas in the south) pronounce the word "environment".

It makes me smile.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What I'm Studying Now

I'm beginning a new MBA class this week. It's called Strategic Technology. I'm wasn't quite sure what the class is about, just by looking at the title. At first, I thought it was questioning whether your computer should be on the right side or the left side of your desk.

However, it turns out that this is going to be a pretty full and demanding class. There is a lot of reading (that I'm working on this weekend).

One of the things that I sometimes get uncomfortable with in our MBA classes is the capitalism focus. I'm trying to take what I'm learning to apply a missional or theological lens for understanding how non-profits and churches can better engage.

However, I am clearly the only one in my class who things the way I do. There was a revelation a few classes ago that perhaps values might be more important than money. Students were stunned to realize this. I just felt dirty.

Anyway, if you want to get a sampler of what I'm looking at for the next 7 weeks, take a look at this:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Don't Get Flabby!

One of the things that we planned to do when we gave our dog up was to have an exercise routine. We have been trying to exercise for about 30 minutes first thing in the morning (from 6:00-6:30). When we had Alfred, that was difficult, because those 30 minutes would be dedicated to taking him for a walk.

You may be saying to yourself that walking the dog is exercise, and, normally, I would agree with you. However, our dog was incredibly slow. He stopped a lot to sniff trees. He walked very slowly. There was no exercise.

So, we planned a new routine. You may have seen my grandmother's note that I should exercise so I "don't get flabby." I had to laugh, because that was part of the plan.

So, we've been exercising for a week now. Every morning. I was sore for quite a while. I've not been a regular "work out" type person, so this is taking a little getting used to.

Who knows, maybe soon I'll start...running.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Alfred Update

I don't have time to write a lot, but I wanted to thank folks for their thoughts. I never thought that giving up a pet would be this difficult.

Today, I learned that Alfred was adopted by another family. I hope and pray that they are a good family for him and he has a better life with them than he has with us.

The house seems empty, but cleaner.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One of the Hardest Things I've Had To Do

Today was a day I was not looking forward to. Today was the day we gave our dog, Alfred, back to the shelter where we got him.

We decided several months ago that our lifestyles was not good for a dog. Richard used to work from home, but now had a job outside the house. The MBA program was happening right after work. Our roommates who were willing to walk and care for the dog had moved out. The dog was suffering from a lack of care and attention. He was getting a walk at 6:30 in the morning, and another one at 5:30 at night. Even when we were home, we were distracted with other things (various jobs). He was being neglected.

On top of that, we were looking at our futures. It's possible that within a few years, I'll start a PhD program. If so, we will move to an even bigger city with no space for a dog at all.

All that led to the decision to give the dog away. We talked to some family members, but no one else was in a place where they could take him. We also have an agreement that we will give him back to the shelter where we got him (like Ellen).

We decided that we would wait until after Christmas to return him. In January, we called the shelter, and they asked us to hold him for a few more weeks while they were undergoing a renovation project. All this lasted until today.

Today, we had to drive him to the shelter and drop him and all his stuff off. It was not easy to do. There were tears on our part (I'm not sure what Alfred was thinking). We had to bring him into a kennel and keep him in there. When Richard and I went in to say goodbye, all the dogs were going nuts, and Alfred was distracted by them. Both of us cried (yes, emotion-less me cried).

Instead of going home to an empty house, we went to a friends. It was probably beneficial to not wallow in our guilt and pain. However, both of us miss him very much.

I think we both feel guilty, even though we know that this really is for the best. We're trying to process it together.

I'll leave with some images of our dog, Alfred.

We miss you already.

Friday, February 15, 2008

All I Want to Accomplish

This weekend, I'm not going anywhere. There is nothing major happening. But, for some reason, the weekend seems fuller than ever.

There are a lot of medium-sized tasks that have to happen. I'm coming into work for a couple of hours on Saturday for an event. There's also a task that neither Richard or I are looking forward to doing. I'll write more about that later.

I'm not sure how sabbath this weekend is going to be. I'm hoping to take a little time to rest, but it's getting crammed up more and more. This evening is going to be a fun evening. We are going to a party at the Walker Art Center. It's nothing we HAVE to do, but something that we will enjoy. We may also go to an athletic event at my college this weekend. Even though they are fun things, they take time away from just being.

Of course, even without all the running around, there would still be a ton of stuff to do. I'm behind on my work for Hearts on Fire. I'm behind on TNP stuff. There are house projects that are happening.

Maybe I'm more aware of it now because I feel like I'm on the edge of my health. I want rest time just to make myself feel better. I'm amazed that I recovered from my illness so quickly, mainly because I didn't do much to take care of myself. I don't want to fall back into illness.

Anyway, I'm hoping that this weekend can be salvaged (at least a little).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

1 Week Down, 5 Weeks to Go

So, how was your first week of Lent? Was it lenty? Did you practice lenting go?

Lent is Funny!

My Lent took me from an Ash Wednesday worship at the college where I work to an extravagant event in southern California. It's a strange transition from penitence to party.

Of course, I also had the sickness. Still do, in fact. It's lingering with me. Most of the symptoms have gone away, but I can tell it's still there. It's just waiting for the right moment to jump out of its little hiding place and lay me flat on my back.

It's already one week after Ash Wednesday. Maybe it's the travel, but I feel like I've missed something. Where does the time go? Easter will be here before you know it.

A while ago, I posted words to a song that I wrote, so I'll end with this one (just the refrain):

It's Lent, and I am very happy.
Today we learn about suffering and loss.
It's Lent and I am very happy.
We learn about death and Jesus on the cross.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


An excellent Extravaganza experience was marred for me by the presence of flu-like symptoms that appeared as soon as I left the house to get to the airplane.

Thursday morning, as I was about to leave, I thought, "Hmmmm....I have a little tickle in my throat." By the time my plane landed at LAX, I was miserable. I hadn't eaten since 6:30 that morning, so my stomach was empty, I was sweating (but still cold), my head hurt.

I pushed through the illness to try to do much of what I intended. Another highlight was at the car rental. A long time ago, I signed up for the Avis Preferred membership. It doesn't cost anything, and you can bypass the lines most of the time. However you also get called out as an elitist in front of the rest of your fellow renters. When the shuttle bus pulled into the lot, the drive announced, "The first stop is for preferred customers only. All regular reservations will be the next stop. Mr. InLayTerms, your car is in B1...It's a silver Mustang."

I was the only preferred customer, and my luggage ended up at the bottom of the pile, so I made a huge production getting off the shuttle to my silver mustang. I could feel the glare of the other passengers.

Now to the Extravaganza agenda is often to make a list of people with whom I want to connect. That's what I did this weekend. I got some face time with folks that I can only see once per year. I made some connections for TNP, Lutherans Concerned, and for my college. I also got to hang out with old friends. I went to workshops, which is new for me. In the past, I've led workshops, but I don't often attend any. This time, there were some workshops that I wanted to attend, just so I could get some face-time with the leaders. In all cases, it paid off. I also got some good information.

I got off site a few times, which was refreshing. Hotels are so expensive and the quality of your experience is so sterile, that sometimes you forget that there is a real world out there. I had at least one dinner and breakfast off site. Both of those were very helpful.

I'm home today, trying to get healthy again. I hope I can go back to feeling full again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What's that Buzzing?

It's me buzzing around.

Tomorrow, I leave for Anaheim for the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza. It's a conference for folks (professional and volunteer) who work with young people and happen to be Lutheran.

I like the event as a networking tool. I get to see and hang out with folks who I only see once per year. I make good contacts for The Naming Project. I see friends who I went to college or worked at camp with. It's just an all-around good time.

I tend to ignore what's going on in the general sessions. My agenda is to bring a list of people who I want to connect with and try to work my way through the list. That's why it's called "the Network".

What I don't like is the day before I leave. Today, I'm trying to get a ton of stuff done. I still need to pack. I need to send off emails. I need to rest. But somehow, I'll find myself on that plane tomorrow and whatever I got done will be accomplished, and what I didn't get done will just have to wait.

I'll have fun at the Extravaganza, no matter what. However, I do have some special goals for myself this weekend. I want to sleep well (not up too late). I want to do a little morning stretching (I have a hotel room to myself, so this is easier to do when no one is watching me). I want to connect with various people (list to be determined). I also NEED to do some of my MBA homework (in the hotel room).

I'm off to LA!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


OK - the next installment of my political weekend just happened.

Yesterday, I learned that Hillary Clinton was going to be speaking at the college where I work today, so I decided that I should go and check her out.

After our experience yesterday in the skyway, we decided that we could show up a little later. When we got there, we stood in another line outside (wrapping around the athletic dome). The line moved rather quickly (we weren't in one place for very long). Eventually, we got in.

The rally was held in our gymnasium, which is the biggest space that we have, but even the gym isn't that big. By the time we got in, all the bleacher seats were taken, so we stood on the floor. I realized that by standing on the floor, we were going to be incredibly close to the stage. This would be a much better view than we had for Obama (we only watched him on a jumbo-tron and through binoculars). Even when we saw Bill Clinton this fall, we weren't as close, even though we were in the 7th row. We were standing six people away from the stage (with no buffer space).

I think that my excitement to see my college hosting this event eclipsed my excitement at seeing a former first lady (and maybe a future president). Our Jazz Band played while we waited for her to get in. It was filled with our students, faculty, and staff. Our event services were splendid! Our college president gave a welcome at the very beginning of the string of speeches. He walked a fine line between promoting a healthy democracy and stopping short of endorsing Hillary. I don't think that an endorsement would have gone over well with everyone at our college (most...but not all).

When I heard that she was coming to our college, I called Event Services to find out the details. Apparently, they were trying to decide between our college and the Excel Energy Center. Since it is the Super Bowl and whatnot, they decided that she could either have a not-full Excel Center or a packed college gym. They opted for the college. Good for us. I'm glad that we have high-profile events!

As when we saw Bill Clinton, there were a string of "opening act" speakers. These are all great people, but when you are waiting to hear from the main speaker, you tend to get a little short with these people. And to top it off, Hillary was running late (from Missouri, I heard). So, we were standing for a long time as speakers were stretching out the agenda.

At one point, our Jazz Band began to play (to keep the crowd excited). They were great. I think after a while, they were just jamming. At least, I didn't hear a clear melody. Then we heard a voice say "check, check, 1,2,3". That stopped the band, because they thought that Hillary was entering. She wasn't. Someone was trying to tell the band director to keep playing. By the time the message got to him, someone just started playing the canned music. I was disappointed that our band didn't get to keep playing.

Finally, Hillary got out there. She entered with three people, former Vice President (and Minnesotan) Walter Mondale, the president of the U of MN College Democrats and the president of the College Democrats at my college! And my student (she has worked for me in the past), was the one who controlled the introductions! Yea! College pride!

Then Hillary spoke. There was a lot of excitement for her...just like Obama. She called for universal health care...just like Obama. She promised to withdraw troops from Iraq...just like Obama. At some point, I realized that their positions are so close together that they were indistinguishable from listening to them speak. Now, I know that there are differences. However, they were not accentuated in the speech.

We also noticed that soon after Hillary took the stage, there were two new people standing right in front of us. Two men. Wearing dark suits. With wires going into their ears. Yup, we got to stand right behind two Secret Service Agents. Normally, I wouldn't be too distracted by Secret Service or security or anything. However, they aren't watching the stage like we all are. They are scanning the crowd. That meant that they would turn around and we would be face to face. It's hard to avoid eye contact when someone is that close and looking in your direction.

I avoided the Secret Service men pretty well until a women who was sort of behind me started feeling dizzy. By then, it was late in the speech. We had stood for 2 hours in a pretty warm gym. I also realized this woman had a cast on, so she was probably standing on one foot. She leaned on me and the woman next to me. I suggested that she should sit down where she was. We helped lower her to the ground. One of the Secret Service agents turned and started taking off her jacket. The other one asked me if she was with me. The one who was talking with her offered to walk her out of the crowd to sit down. She said, "No, you have more important things to do." He insisted. He helped her get up and walk out. The other guy talked on his little radio to tell someone that his counterpart was taking a women who might need medical attention.

It's funny, because I was wondering what Secret Service do if there is another issue that comes up. Do they only care about their "assignment" or do they help others out? I wondered if having this woman sitting on the floor was some breach of security, or if they really did want to help her out. It seemed like they were helping her for her own good.

Because of this, I missed a section of the speech. When it was over, people rushed up to shake hands with Hillary and my other half said, "Do you want to go?" I said yes, and we walked back to the car.

I'm no closer to deciding between the two. I think I lean toward Obama, but I don't feel like I have good enough reasons to do so. It's more about "let's work on this together" than "I can fix things."

As you can see, Richard (my other half just granted permission to use his name) took some great photos during the event. I hope they help to "tell the story".

Saturday, February 02, 2008

To Caucus or Not to Caucus

I don't usually dip into politics here, mainly because I tend to sound dumb whenever I try. However, Super-Duper Amazing Tuesday is quickly approaching, and I'm not sure what I want to do.

I listen to NPR (or MPR, as it's known in Minnesota), so I should be well informed enough to make a decision. But I'm not. I'm torn between Hillary and Obama. What's amazing is, I'm not torn about the Republican race. I think our best chance is with McCain as president. I just don't trust/like the other guys enough.

But I'm not a Republican. I don't really want McCain to be our next president.

I also remember my last caucus experience. Let me just say, I wasn't impressed. It was scattered and unorganized. There was a guy trying to lead things up front, and an older lady who remembered how this used to work. My caucus experience makes me want to be in a state that has a primary. If we are here to nominate a candidate for president and senate (as we do this year), then maybe we should just deal with that. Yeah, yeah, I get the idea that we are building a platform, but I see more conversation about the process than about the issues.

Anyway, yesterday at work, we had a gospel singer in chapel. She's a regular guest at our chapel, and she often brings at least one of her children with her. Her kids are all these amazing gospel singers (like the backup singer to the late Luther Vandross). Anyway, the daughter makes a comment about going to see Obama the next day. I tell her that I'm impressed, because MPR said that his rally at the Target Center sold out in within 24 hours. Apparently, she thought that I was really disappointed, because she got me two tickets.

So today, we went to see Obama! All the publicity told us that it would start at 1:30, then we got word that the doors would open at 1:30. So, we decided that we would get there at 1:30 and take whatever bad seats we get. We stood in a line for about an hour and 15 minutes before we moved. I'm very glad that I convinced us to stand in the skyway and not outside. Even after the line moved, it still took a while to get in. We got in a little after 3:00 and found some seats. Then, we waited until 4:00 to hear Obama speak.

I need to back up, because as we were running errands this morning, I heard a news clip that said that Hillary would be speaking at the college where I work tomorrow. So, we got in to see her tomorrow in our gymnasium (which will be a lot smaller than the Target Center). I'm excited to be able to compare the two candidates in person for myself.

Obama was good. I can see his charisma. I like how he talks about hope and how we really move forward in this country. He didn't get into policy as much as I would have liked. I guess that's what debates are for.

Tomorrow, Hillary will talk about the economy. I'm guessing that will be more policy-oriented than the rally today. It may not be a direct comparison, but at least I can figure out who I should support.

On top of all that, the other realization I made is that I have a class on Tuesday night, and I can't attend the caucus anyway.

All this comparison is for not.