On Starting the Holiday Season

For me, the start of the holiday season is not about the day after Thanksgiving. It’s not about hearing holiday music on the radio. (We in Cincinnati have access to the first station in the nation to convert to an all-holiday format on November 1st).

No, it’s also not when stores quickly replace their Halloween displays with Christmas decoration items. Nor is it about being flooded with TV commercials and newspaper ads and flyers. It’s not about the latest Trans Siberian Orchestra music or the host of holiday television specials. It’s not about seeing the lights in the neighborhood or developing a gift list.

Thanks to the vast repertoire at YouTube, I can now see what serves as the official start of my holiday season because there’s nothing better than Santa on a Norelco.

On Thanksgiving 2009

Since I haven’t had a chance to post regularly, today is a good day to give thanks. Since there are so many good things present in my life, this is a meager start.

Although it takes me away from writing for myself, I give thanks to having a long-term project for employment – yet I pray for those looking for work.

Although the project has taken me away from some of my learning passions, I give thanks for all learning opportunities that exist in life and the ability to participate – yet I pray for those who haven’t found the joy of learning.

Although my work has taken me away from the cyber-friends in my life, I give thanks for all the good people I’ve encountered in my years, especially those new to my life. There are so many people throughout the world sharing so much goodness, yet I only encounter a fraction – yet I pray for those with hardened hearts who don’t see human kindness as important.

Although I sit at a desk and spend most of the day either inside a building or driving a car, I give thanks for all the beauty nature offers us each day. No matter if the sky is clear or stormy, land flat or mountainous, water calm or turbulent, trees displaying color or barren branches, the natural world is an infinite resource of gifts – yet I pray for those who don’t take time to see and appreciate all that has been given to them.

Although we are currently without a pet, I give thanks to all pets, especially those with the knack for providing us joy and comfort; who unconditionally greet us each time after returning home from a difficult day – yet I pray for the animals without home or tender care.

Although I don’t do nearly enough, I give thanks to everyone who serves the needy – yet I pray for those in needing food, space, clothing, care, heart, mind, love, and dignity with homes that more of us with step forward to share and give.

Although we are separate by miles and space, I give thanks for my wife and family for the love, concern, and support – yet I pray for those without surrounding love.

Although this is only a small list, I thank God for my gift of life so I can enjoy the endless list of gifts I’ve encountered in my thousands of days.

Although I’ve only experienced a small slice of worldly human culture, I give thanks to a tiny slice – the world of music and its many forms that I have found and those I have yet to discover. With that, Simple Gifts on handbells by a very good group (the Pikes Peak Ringers).

A blessed and safe Thanksgiving to everyone!

They’ve Earned It Rankings Week 11 ’09

Houston’s Cinderella slipper is captured by a Knight. Iowa’s bounce-back attempt didn’t make it out of the Horseshoe, yet the Buckeyes showed that they shouldn’t be forgotten. TCU unveils new uniforms and a stunning result while most of the top teams predictably held serve.

As I look ahead to next week, attention getters are few and far between. As far as I’m concerned, Alabama scheduling a non-D1 game at this point of the season is grounds for firing the AD. That’s pathetic!

Up- TCU, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Pitt
Down- Texas
Out- Houston, Iowa
In: Ohio State, Pitt

They’ve Earned It Top 10

  1. Alabama (10-0) Next: Tenn-Chattanooga
  2. Florida (10-0) Next: @ Florida International
  3. Georgia Tech (10-1) Next: Georgia
  4. TCU (10-0) Next: @Wyoming
  5. Cincinnati (10-0) Next: Bye
  6. Texas (10-0) Next: Kansas
  7. Ohio State (9-2) Next: @ Michigan
  8. Pitt (9-1) Next: Bye
  9. Boise (10-0) Next: @ Utah State
  10. Oregon (8-2) Next: @Arizona

Besides games involving the top 10 teams, here are the potential ranking-impact games.

  • Minnesota @ Iowa
  • LSU @ Mississippi
  • Cal @ Stanford

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 43

On Additional Walls
Monday’s post honored the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall and attempt to stimulate thinking, along with providing a wonderful 2-minute NPR segment. Here are some additional thoughts about walls.

A conversation with one of my pastors produced this analogy: One aspect of Christianity is to turn walls into tables. Now that’s worth thinking about.

Secondly, I continue to see letters to the editor in the Cincinnati paper pointing to President Reagan’s 1987 “Tear down that wall” speech as a single historic moment regarding the wall. Historic? Yes. Significant? Yes. The key event? No. Let’s us not forget World War II and Winston Churchill’s iron curtain speech – “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” – as a line was drawn and the many events to come; including, but not solely, President Reagan. Here’s an interesting column from San Antonio’s Jonathan Gurwitz.

On Jobs and War
NY Times columnist Bob Hebert wrote an interesting column this week focusing on what would he tell President Obama about jobs, the economy, and the war in Afghanistan. Although it’s not about independent moderates, to me he hit the nail on the head about why nonpartisan independents are discouraged. To me his words weren’t based on a party or an ideology, but on a nonpartisan reality. Here’s the column.

On Moderates and Fiscal Policy
One thing Republicans don’t understand about independent moderates is that we tend to be more sensitive to social programs, including health care insurance. One thing that Democrats don’t understand about independent moderates is that we tend to be fiscally sensitive. Although I don’t always agree with George Will, I do appreciate his columns – including this one about fiscal concerns.

On Interesting Football Stat
Cincinnati Bearcat QB Tony Pike guided the team to a 4-0 start before suffering an injury in game 5. Sophomore QB Zach Collaros has started 3 games and produced these unconscious numbers:

  • Record: 3-0
  • Rushing: 33 attempts, 172 yards, 2 TDs
  • Passing: 66-82, 0 INT, 8 TDs

Tonight the Bearcats host West Virginia at Nippert Stadium, one of the great old, on-campus sporting venues. (Here’s a prior post about the stadium.) I’ll be there so watch for me as I’ll be wearing red.

On the BCS
Since I mentioned college football, for those who haven’t seen the latest edition of the BCS Committee meeting from the Global Sports Fraternity, enjoy!

On a Retrospective to Veteran’s Day 2009

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and since my work location was closed, I had the opportunity to watch more cable news. Sure the day is filled with parades, speeches, and moments of silence, but it is a day that should cause each of us to reflect.

I thought about Vietnam. Although I didn’t serve, I lived the times. Years later when the Vietnam Memorial design was proposed, I recall the outcry against it. Then again, I also recall visiting it and the special feeling I got walking down the ramp into the memorial. Wow – I guess the design was right after all.

I thought about my dad who served in WW II at age 18. He’s always kept in touch with his Army buddies, yet their numbers decrease each day. I heard a report today saying that there are over 2 million WW II veterans still alive today – yet I also read an estimated of 1200 of them die each day.

I thought about last year taking Dad to a reunion of a post-WW II group. Interestingly this group was made of a few who also served in WW II, but also some who where just getting started, thus eventually ending their military careers following Vietnam. The link to those two wars was right there in the room with me among them. I wrote about the reunion weekend last Veterans Day (here’s the link).

I watched President Obama’s speech at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a good speech that was full reflection – then again presidential speeches on this day are good for that, no matter who delivers it.

I also saw a report about Honor Flight – an organization that is funding trips so WW II veterans can visit the WW II Memorial in Washington. Very impressive, but I’m sorry that I was unable to find the online video version. In its place, please visit the Honor Flight site for more information about this noble cause, and here’s an ABC News video from 2007 about the person who started it.