Friday, November 28, 2014

Mystery of Sports Teams Affliations

I work at one of the best known collegiate sports schools in the USA.  U of Alabama fans are rabid over football, and more recently over gymnastics. Those of you who come to UA tailgates before football games know of what I speak.  Football fans spends thousands of dollars coming to games in these ways:
  • There are scores of expensive campers that show up the day before games, and I suspect these get little other use.
  • Allegedly many people rent apartments and buy condos- strictly for football games.
  • People and companies spends lots of money on skyboxes, etc.
  • After the game you could hear scores of small, private planes exiting town over our house (we are about 3-4miles East of the Tuscaloosa airport which chiefly services private aircraft).
  • Tickets to the game, parking, and soda pops are amazingly expensive.
There's more examples, but you get the picture, and this is just for home games, away games involve more expense.

Why do people do this?  Honestly I have no idea, but that never stops me from speculating.

I am guessing that people want the "heroism by association".  People want to be associated with success and winning.  People want to be associated with public figures, and the UA football team is clearly public.


Jesus the Christ is another opportunity to be associated with a famous public figure.  Jesus defeated death forevermore.  Jesus has not a single negative mark associated with his actions and teaching.

And yet most are ashamed to be associated with Him.

Go figure.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Blatant Theft

A friend, Heather Holleman, shared in her blog some questions asked by a student at Penn State.  The questions are pretty interesting, so I stole them.  What would you say in response to these:

1. What was your biggest regret from college?
2. If I only read one book in college, which one book would you recommend I read?
3. What is your definition of a great student?
4. How do you define success?

These are some good questions to consider.

Whether are not you went to college, the last two Qs are especially useful.  Whether we are in school are not, we are students.  We may be bad students, but we are students.  It is good to recognize a good student, so that we might become one.  I have taught a lot of students, have been a student most of my life, and think about this.  Here's my answer to #3:
  • Interested,
  • Attentive,
  • Inquisitive,
  • Engaged,
  • Alert,
  • Thoughtful,
  • Challenging, and
  • Application-oriented.
So what kind of student am I?  What kind of student are you?
So, how do you define success?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Ph.D.s ought to know... but seem not to know

It was many years ago that I earned a doctorate at the U of GA.  I graduated thinking I knew a lot about the very small area of exercise physiology, in fact, knowing a lot about a very small area of gender differences and body composition. As a prof, I get paid to study, so I have learned much more in the ensuing 31 years.  About 15 years or a few more, I learned a valuable lesson.

I was speaking in a Spanish language country about NASA and space physiology.  I gave my spiel and near the end I offered a small Christian/theistic apology.  Afterwards a bright young man came up, and in excellent English, said to me,

"Let me tell you about god."

Always eager to learn, I encouraged him to teach away.

"In the old days, we knew little, and so attributed lots of things to god.  We thought the weather came from god, the lightening, etc.  Now that we know the natural bases for all these things, there's not very much left for god to do."

"Interesting" I replied.  "I do science for a living.  I go into the laboratory with one research question, and in the course of answering that one question, I come up with two or three more questions.  There's a lot more for G^d to do than there was when I first started studying!"

And that is true, and good, for all of science.  Each discovery raises new questions, and that is good, because it ensures our future employ and that of thousands of others scientists around the world.  And that observation brings me to this point,

We who are highly educated ought to be the MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE of our ignorance!

Not only do I not know lots about my own specialty area, I am aware, somewhat, of what I don't know about:
  • Particle physics
  • Astrophysics
  • English lit
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Mathematics (beyond differential equations)
  • Any kind of engineering
  • Education
  • Qualitative Research methods.

The list goes on, but you get the point.

If I am so ignorant after a lifetime of study, then why would I think I am smart?

How smart are you?

  Three guys with doctorates...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Trees, Beautiful Trees

As I have mentioned before, I love trees.  My half-week in WA was perfectly timed to see their trees at the height of color.  I was impressed by the color.  Photos cannot capture the depth of beauty, but here's a try:

Nice color, eh?  Why such beauty? G^d's grace, is my only explanation.  G^d made the trees, and He made them beautiful in spring, summer, fall, and winter. 

G^d's grace.  G^d's grace displayed in a tree. 

Thanks be to G^d.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Things that go BUMP in the night

Most all of humanity has innate fear.  As babies we may be scared by loud noises, or feeling insecure.  As youngsters, we fear the night, goblins, and such.  As adults our fears expand and become more complex.  Try these out for fear:
  • Ebola
  • Crashing stock market
  • Economic disaster of one kind or another
  • Domestic terrorism
  • Our health will fail
  • Our mind will fail
  • Our children will suffer from ______
Some of these are legitimate threats, other much less so, but most of them are evoking fear in some readers just reviewing this list.  We combat this fear several ways:
  • Insurance against____ (lots of things can fill this blank),
  • Planning against (though it is impossible to plan for every contingency)
  • Exercise and healthy eating
  • Investigating ways to avoid the next great disaster...

Christians seem as worried as non-Christians, and as James said it in a different context, "My brethren, these things ought not so to be." James 3:10.  As I shared in a previous blog, we ought to obey Phil 4:6, "Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

Sooo, despite the potential for death and destruction around us, we Believers ought to be unreasonably HAPPY. 

Whereas that is easier said than done, our lost friends OUGHT to be fearful, and we ought NOT to be.   How do we achieve that?

Prayer and practice.  Prayer and practice.

Monday, November 10, 2014

West Coast!

I just returned yesterday morning from Washington State.  I was there to give some talks at Central Washington Univ in Ellensburg, WA.   It was beautiful, though it rained most of the time I was there.  The local folks couldn't recall a time period of more rain.
I was late getting in on Tuesday because of a closed runway in Detroit and bad weather there.  I was scheduled to speak Tuesday evening but at the time to start we were still about a half-hour from Ellensburg.  On well, that's the way it goes sometimes.  We did get in to town in time to hear the guy who originally invited me finish his talk. 

Afterwards I told him,  "It's just as well I was going to say the same thing you did".

That guy, Brian H, was a terrific guy who I certainly enjoyed meeting, as were a number of folks.  I found the students to be impressively warm and courteous.  They were very attentive when I spoke and many thanked me personally afterwards.

I'll write more about the campus and the surroundings and adventures later, but the outstanding thing, and my outstanding memory of this road trip were the people.  From Austin the student juggler, to my hosts, Rob and Kelly, and Mark and Kathy, to Vili who I met on the airport shuttle, these were some outstanding people.

And, though the scenery was magnificent, though the campus was remarkable, though the talks were fun, the outstanding thing were the wonderful people.  And, as need to be reminded, those mountains will crumble, as will the beautiful buildings, but the people are  immortal.

As Wes says, "relationships matter."   Amen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Different Kind of Tailgate

If you have never been to A U of Alabama pre-game football tailgate party, you have missed an experience.  It is like NOTHING I have ever seen in over 50 countries.  The preparation starts months in advance, but the visible prep starts on late Thurs PM.  By Friday the grounds are covered with yellow tape normally reserved for crime scenes.  Some of the large rectangles have little 8.5x11 laminated sheets declaring that these are "authorized" reserved spots.  I would guess these would be easily fabricated, as there isn't even a signature on them.

By early Saturday, the Quadrangle is covered in tents, as is most of the surrounding spaces within a half mile of the quad.  The circus has truly come to town!

Our local church congregation had a men's fellowship tailgate the weekend of an away game- U of Arkansas (the other UA, along with Arizona and Alaska).  Our tailgate was a little more low key.

It wasn't rowdy.  It wasn't raucous.  It wasn't rambunctious.  It was pretty quiet with good food and fellowship.  I was able to talk to a few men, with whom I seldom have the opportunity to chat.  Some of hte younger crowd played some games, and the men mostly chatted and watched Auburn on t.v. whilst awaiting the late start of the UA-UA game.

Most of life is like this.  It is pretty calm.  People may be desperate, but we distract ourselves with sports, with hobbies.  We may fellowship, but are we doing anything of substance?

Is our tailgate different from any of those on the Quad?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ole Miss Road Trip> Last Post

The highly popular Dallas preacher Tony Evans tells about being the team chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys professional football team.  Tony tells about being given access to the special places in Cowboy's Stadium, and how anyone with him, had the same access.

I experienced that very thing on this road trip.  I was on the sidelines for two hours prior to the kickoff.  The referees were right there.  The players were right there.  Every member of the support staff for UA was right there on the sidelines.

At one point as I moved around snapping pictures here and there, I was accosted by a paid security person.

"Where's your credentials?"

"I don't have any credentials.  I am a guest of the team."

"Everybody has to have credentials, I don't care who you are."

"Sure.  Talk to my sponsor.  Follow me."

I led him over to Jon Dever.  Jon didn't have credentials either, but for whatever reason, the security guy backed off and left us to our own devices.

Go figure.
 I could be on the sidelines, not because of any merit of my own, but by the grace of my sponsor.

When I get to heaven, I'm going to proudly point to the Christ, and say,
"I'm with Him!"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thanks for Reading

A few months back I wrote about blogging.  When you post a blog...nothing happens.  At least it appears that way.  There is a little app on the blog that lets you see how many visits your blog had on a day.  That number is seldom very big.  I don't advertise, so few people know this exists.  But I write it anyway.

Partly I write for you, and partly I write for me.  I write to remember.  I write to make a tangible record of what is happening in my life and in the world.  I write because I must, but the fact that a few people read this makes it even more special.

I hope that you are called to think about what you read.  I hope that you are entertained a bit.

Regardless... thanks for reading.