#98. Tie Tuesday

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Three weeks ago I jumped on a bandwagon being driven by one of my coworkers. We call this growing wagon party “Tie Tuesday”. We work in an office dominated by engineers and their army of Polos and open collared dress shirts. Our small band of neck flourished brothers is wading against this naked neck trend, and I am happy to report the tide is beginning to wish it would turn if it could. Today we had new compatriot sporting a fashionable nape noose. So next week dust off one of those old ties in the back of your closet, slip on your favorite argyle socks, and join us in celebrating Tie Tuesday!

As a side note there are some grumblings about marrying Thai Tuesdays with Tie Tuesdays and calling it Thai Tie Tuesdays. May it never be! Thai people are wonderful, but their food is horrendous. These musings must be silenced.

Do you Tie Tuesday?

 

#97. Reluctant Rivalry

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Here in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex there has been a lot of discussion recently on the local sports radio stations regarding a budding rivalry between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder. This debate of course bled into our office discussions resulting in minor emotional scarring as well as unintended surfacing of ignorance.

Proponents for labeling said matchup a rivalry like to use a lot of touchy feely verbiage to muddle and confuse the issue. “The players bring added intensity to these games.” “Things get extra heated and downright chippy.” “There is developing hatred between fans and players.”

Blah, blah, blah, blah…

Definition time.

Rivalry: Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.

Facts:

Until the most recent matchup, the Mavericks had won seven of the last ten contests. The Thunder achieved only one victory in a five game playoff series against the Mavs this past year.

So the “experts” on the radio and some of my more delusional co-workers believe that due to frequency of meetings and geographical proximity of the two clubs as well as the aforementioned distaste for each other, a rivalry has developed.

Does any of this fluff sound like a competition for superiority to you? It sounds like pre-eminence has been definitively secured by the Mavericks to me.

When I was eight and my brother was five, we would play and wrestle. It would undoubtedly escalate, but it was never a rivalry. He would push a little too far; thinking he was bigger than he was, then I would impose my will and make him cry. That’s not competition. That’s domination. Fast forward eight to ten years, and my brother was now equal in size or slightly bigger than me. 

 

Now we had a competition on our hands. Either of us might win, and we would both certainly end up exhausted. At some point I came home from college one weekend and picked the usually fight. I had vastly underestimated how much bigger and stronger “little” brother had gotten. We don’t wrestle anymore if I can help it.

Maybe I’ll concede this is a one-sided rivalry where one party thinks they are on the verge of truly accomplishing something (and maybe they are). But big brother is still capable of squashing little brother like an insignificant insect, completely unaware of the impending storm that is most assuredly brewing.

Final thought:

This past Wednesday these two “rivals” clashed at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Mavericks ultimately lost, but the game was tied with two minutes left, and here’s the kicker: Dirk Nowitski, the Mavs all-time leading scorer, coming off a week of rest and battling back from knee pain, only had eight points on a dismal two of fifteen shooting. On top of that, Hall of Fame starting point guard Jason Kidd was not playing due to injury. Starting center Brendan Haywood was out with back soreness, and last year’s Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom was sick and didn’t play.

So yeah, maybe this is a rivalry, and maybe next year Merriam-Webster will alter the definition of the word to better suit people’s skewed perspectives.

Does this sound like a rivalry to you? How do you define rivalry?

 

#96. Mondays with Murphy

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I often enjoy speaking for my dog. Not on behalf of him, but as if I truly know what is in his mind at a given moment. I usually think it’s hilarious. My wife: not so much. I took this picture today right after saying his name and wondered, “What is he thinking?” Here’s some not so funny things he might have been thinking.

1. My name is Murphy.
2. Can I help you with something?
3. I was in the middle of a great nap, dreaming about a tasty rawhide pig ear.
4. What’s that thing your sticking in my face?
5. Are you leaving?
6. Is it time to get in my kennel?
7. I love sitting on the couch.
8. Please don’t leave!
9. Thanks for lunch & the walk outside.
10. Hurry home!

#95. Ranting Against Raving

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Apple Uses Chinese Child Labor to Build iPhone

A friend recently tweeted the link to the following article. I’m not sure whether it was merely an observation on his part or if he falls on either side of the issue, but the subsequent thoughts were my initial reaction. This is an issue I can definitely see both sides of, so opposing views are certainly welcome.

Story about Child Labor in China

This is the global economy at work. Living standards won’t increase everywhere overnight, but our grandparents & great-grandparents often began working long hours in their early teens, and $75/week would have been good money. It’s laughable and naive to think you can apply the same fair labor practices of one of the wealthiest nations on earth to developing countries. If everyone in the world is going to be treated exactly the same, we will all end up a lot closer to 70 cents/day than the luxurious “poverty” level in the U.S. that still affords smart phones, big screen TV’s w/ cable & the convenience of fast food. You can survive on beans & rice. You won’t die without running water. And believe it or not the human race survived for thousands of years without air conditioning. Having the discipline to choose needs over wants is what makes a competent adult instead of a petulant child. It’s not cruel to go without some of these things. Wisdom is living within your means and thanking God for the things you do have.

As an entirely much too lengthy side note, the author of this article thinks it’s “disconcerting” that the workers making iPhones and iPads aren’t capable of owning them. Hello!!! These are luxury items even in the United States! There are probably also many workers who help manufacture yachts and Gulfstream jets that don’t own the product they produce. Go figure. So let’s say you buy an iPhone outright with no incentivized carrier plan for $600. (This is pricey, but it’s about the cheapest you can get even with the current available Chinese labor rates.) But if you want all of those laborers, currently making one dollar per day to be able to afford one, the price must inherently go up. So proportionally let’s assume a person should be making well above $30,000 per year to comfortably afford said iPhone. That translates to $15 per hour (vacation and eight hour work day included). Proportionally this would mean paying $9,000 for an iPhone here in the U.S. Obviously no one would own an iPhone then.

To sum up… China is still a developing country. They are going through the same industrialization pains we went through 100 years ago. Time will progress; conditions will improve. Just like us, the workers will begin to demand government imposed regulations, and eventually if China is lucky, they will become just like the United States where sloth, greed and entitlement reign supreme.

What say you? How much are you offended by the work conditions your Apple products are creating? Enough to boycott the gadgets you love, or just enough to spew some self-righteous indignation?

 

#94. When God Talks Back

Faith

FaithVillage recently asked the question, “What experience recently moved your faith? How did it change you?

FAITH is defined as having confidence or trust in something or someone. As Christians we put our hope and trust in Jesus Christ, believing he is who he said he is, the Son of God and savior from our sins and consequential eternal judgment.

The amount of FAITH I have is in constant flux, and if I’m honest with myself, diminishing more often than I care to admit. We are promised we can do great things, if our FAITH is only the size of a mustard seed. At times even a mustard seed can seem unattainable.

But we are called to press on. So I try to surround myself with kindling for the fire. I obey out of a grateful heart, not to merely check a box but because He first loved me. I place myself under Gospel-centered teaching and leadership. I set up camp within Gospel-centered community. I strive for diligence in consuming His Word and persistence in prayer.

So how has my FAITH recently moved?

Our church began this year with a sharp focus on prayer: ardent, bold, expectant prayer. Prayer corporately for racial reconciliation, the nations and sanctity of life. And prayer personally for our families, communities and individually as we desire to remove the prejudices we have toward anyone that is “different” from us.

Over these past several weeks, I have realized my prayers are often lazy, weak and lacking conviction, if not entirely nonexistent. In light of these realizations, I have begun praying as if God truly has the sovereignty I frequently give lip service to. Just as importantly I am remembering what I have prayed for. My prayer life has often been nebulous and easily forgotten, but praying for very specific circumstances results in God receiving credit for resolved situations rather than just happenstance.

In the past two weeks I have been able to acknowledge God’s direct answers to prayer that may seem small to other people but were huge to me. My FAITH was given a boost simply because I had eyes to see. The opportunity to see an unequivocal correlation between petitioning God, and in these instances, an almost immediate response, has snowballed into an even greater confidence. My wife and I are spending time each night in repeated prayer for a friend’s healing. This friend is facing uncertainty, and we are praying for comfort. We are praying these things with complete assurance that God will ultimately be glorified.

God is not glorified in our begrudging submission. He is glorified in our joy and worship of Him, and how can we not find joy in actively communicating with the God of the universe? How can we not find greater FAITH in an omnipotent being that hears and responds to someone like me?

My FAITH is still in flux, but the net gain is most assuredly positive. He is faithful to complete what he has started. And that is a promise that is sure to move you.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

FaithVillage is a one stop shop for Christian blog content. FaithVillage encompasses everything from Christian Living to Faith & Culture to tips and resources for Church Leadership. Check them out here.

 

#93. Undercover Boss

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Theological Thursday is back!

Philippians 2:3-8

3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than your selves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

I was reading this passage in Philippians this week, when I realized for the first time: Jesus was the original Undercover Boss. No one has ever given up so much for so little. The God of the entire universe gave up his place in heaven to save sinners: humans, when at our very best are like filthy rags. Incredible!

God’s perfect plan to bring himself infinite glory hinges on becoming a servant and savior to people who have no understanding of our complete and utter worthlessness and instead elevate ourselves to a position of preeminence. How amazing is God’s grace that he would love those who blaspheme, belittle and spit in his face?

I love reading my Bible and seeing things I’ve heard and read dozens of times before in fresh new ways!

Have you ever thought of Jesus as the ultimate undercover boss?

 

#92. Welcome Back! Welcome Back! Welcome Back!

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That’s right, Song of Sloman is back! It’s been almost four months since SOS went off the air. There were a few times that my fingers could simply not be silenced resulting in two or three posts that hopefully found their way to you. But this is a new beginning. At least for a season (and there is really no telling how long the season may be) we are going to focus a little less on quantity and a little more on quality. Obviously I can only guarantee that the quantity will be less; you can be the judge of the quality. The goal will be two or three posts each week. There are sure to still be some Theological Thursdays as well as Philosophical Fridays. we’ll even try to capture some of the extremely elusive Whatchamacallit Weekends.

So let’s get to it. I was gonna jump right back in with a massive tirade about an article I saw concerning Chinese labor practices used in production of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, but I’ll save that for a Friday. Instead, I’d like to kick things off with both feet and talk about argyle or more pretentiously argyll. Specifically argyll socks.

Argyll socks are the pinnacle of undergarment fashion footwear. No other stocking can achieve the complex tapestry of overlapping motifs quite like the signature pattern of the argyll slipper. Argyll allows wearer to seamlessly pull together an expansive pallet of colors into a singular uniform. Varying shades of a single color or diametrically contrasted pigments can all coexist in the argyll sock. The perfect buffer between trouser and shoe: the plain colored sock is forced to simply match the pant, but the argyll can play off the shirt, tie or both.

So I know what you’re asking. “Where can I get some argyle socks? I’m sold, and I need them desperately.” Of course this response is completely valid and natural. I would point you toward my go-to supplier for all my argyle foot-covering needs. Banana Republic. All of these styles come in multiple colors, and you are unlikely to go wrong with any of them. If you are a little tentative, you don’t have to dive right in, just dip your toes. Ask for a pair for Christmas or give a pair as a gift, and watch your friends and family rave about their own experiences. Living vicariously through someone else’s argyle isn’t ideal, but it’s better than living without argyle at all.

Do you wear boring socks, or are you a pioneer on the Argyll Band Wagon?

 

#91. Give Thanks

Thankful-script

Last weekend my Home Group co-leader challenged us to make a list of 100 things we are thankful for. If you spread it out over a week, it’s less than 15 items per day. That might be the easier way to do it if you are a disciplined person, but I knew I would procrastinate, so in an effort at a preemptive strike, I sat down for an hour last Monday and hammered out about 90 items. Ashamedly, I admit hitting a wall a couple times and feeling like I couldn’t think of anything else. It was eye-opening to me to see how much I take for granted and the selfishness that reveals.

But I did, in fact, finish the list before our meeting this past Sunday night. The following list is what I came up with. I was fairly liberal with the slash mark, especially for items that I thought belong in the same group or for things that pehaps didn’t warrant a line all to itself. Much of this was stream of consciousness, and I have been reminded of many things that I did not include that would rank much higher than many of these items, but you can only be so thankful, right?… Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy.

1. God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit – Love, Grace, mercy & salvation

2. Dani

3. Parents

4. Brother

5. Grandparents

6. Aunts, Uncles & Cousins

7. In-Laws

8. Our home

9. Bed

10. Pillows

11. Clothes/Compression shorts/Feetures socks

12. Electricity

13. Heating/Air conditioning

14. Running/hot water

15. GPS/Garmin watch

16. Bible

17. Blue ink Zebra F-301 ball point pen

18. Citizen wrist watch

19. iPhone 

20. Laptop/Desktop/Portable hard drive/Flash drive/wireless mouse

21. Friends/Home group

22. Food/Mexican/chips & Queso/Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich/

Grandma’s Strawberry pie & Texas sheet cake/Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip ice cream/Tagalongs/Filet Steak/Mashed potatoes & gravy/corn pudding/broccoli casserole/

salmon/meat loaf/fettuccini alfredo/pizza/big mac/french fries/sweet potato fries/caesar salad/cheesecake factory cheesecake/chick fil a chicken minis/chocolate chip cookies/Oreos/salsa/

wheat thins/cream cheese/strawberries/peanut butter & jelly/

sun chips/fresh picked corn on the cob/chicken fried steak/blueberries/honey nut Cheerios/

pulled pork/slim fast/brisket/

23. Sweet tea

24. Cherry coke

25. Water

26. Refrigerator

27. Microwave

28. Stove/oven

29. Dishwasher

30. Cars/’05 Grand Prix/’93 Mazda 626

31. Job

32. Money

33. Debit card

34. Internet

35. Health

36. My fitness pal

37. Alarm clock

38. Murphy

39. The Village Church/Pastors/Staff

40. Sight

41. Sound

42. Smell

43. Taste

44. Touch

45. Excel

46. Music

47. ESPN radio

48. 46″ Samsung LCD TV

49. DVD/Blu-ray/Surround sound

50. DVR

51. Furniture

52. Toilets

53. Washer/dryer

54. Camera/video camera/pictures/video

55. Crockpot

56. Dyson vacuum

57. Dyson DustBuster

58. Glasses/contacts

59. Soap/deodorant

60. Toothbrush/Toothpaste

61. Razor/shaving cream

62. Toilet paper

63. Kleenex

64. Medicine

65. Dishes/silverware/cookware

66. Paper towels

67. Tape/glue/butterfly clips/scissors/stapler

68. Mail/package delivery services

69. Sun/grass/trees/mountains/lakes/rivers/oceans/moon/stars

70. Rain/snow/wind

71. Margaritas

72. Long island ice tea

73. Milk

74. College education/degree

75. Sports/baseball/basketball/football/ultimate frisbee

76. Not soccer

77. Not hockey

78. Stores

79. Dry erase board & markers

80. Bicycle

81. Sunglasses

82. Locks & keys

83. Springfield XD 9mm pistol

84. Being born & living in the USA

85. Remote controls

86. Unique people & places & the opportunities to meet & visit them

87. Intelligence/knowledge/learning

88. Faith & wisdom – the little I have

89. Freedom: Spiritual/Religious/political

90. Holidays/Vacation Days/PTO

91. Google Calendar

92. Coozies

93. My Takamine guitar

94. Airplanes

95. Sex

96. Sleep/naps

97. Books

98. Art

99. Movies

100. Lists

 

I also want to thank the United States military as well as law enforcement and fire protection services and the brave men and women who perform these duties.

 

What are you thankful for?

 

#90. Conservative Christians are Racist

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I recently read an article on www.foxnews.com about a Muslim girl in Jr. ROTC being denied the privilege of being in a parade because she wanted to wear her head covering while in uniform. This of course is against military regulations. You can find and read the short article here, but what shocked me are many of the comments you can read here. This is exactly why Fox News and Conservative Christians get such a bad rap, because there really are bigoted racists among us that have no clue the damage they are afflicting upon their own cause. What’s worse is that these fringe idiots become a mouthpiece for the majority that adheres to completely dissimilar beliefs.

The following is a comment that I submitted:

Wow, so many bigoted comments that have no bearing on the core issue. No wonder conservatives get painted in such a terrible light. The real issue is that the military is not a place to “express yourself”. It is not a place to promote individualism. Rather, it is the very definition of dying to self and becoming a singularly focused unit bent on accomplishing a common goal. If you enter the military, I applaud you for serving and defending our country, but please understand that you are implicitly and explicitly giving up many of your personal rights and placing yourself under the authority of the government. If you don’t agree with everything that implies, then you should strongly consider not volunteering. We live in a great time during this country’s history, in which we are not obligated or forced to serve. This is a decision. Make an informed one.

I have since received three responses to my comment. Two of the responses I assume were from the conservative bigot supporters telling me to “Get a life.” and “Get over myself.” While the third response was from a Islamic supporter who opened with the intelligent and eloquent argument, “F*** you and your bigot statement.” and continued to inform me that I don’t have a clue about Islam and I misunderstand the over-arching ramifications.” Did these people even read the comment I wrote? I suppose if people on both sides are upset with my statement, I must have landed somewhere pretty close to the truth.

What do you think? Should this girl be allowed to wear her head covering? Is she being discriminated against? Is the title of this post sarcastic enough?

 

#89. Occupy Wall Street

 

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I am 28 years old.

My parents bought a used car for the family in 1996. I began driving that car at 16 and still do.

I decided to study engineering, a high demand field that interested me. Although my parents graciously helped me pay for school, I CHOSE to attend an out-of-state university and CHOSE to take out student loans resulting in over $40,000 of debt.

I’ve been married for two years, and although we could have easily bought a house, we instead CHOSE to stay in an apartment living off only my wife’s teaching salary allowing us to pay back the loans with my salary and become DEBT FREE.

We have recently revisited the idea of purchasing a home having saved a decent amount of money for a 10% down payment as well as enough to pay cash for a USED replacement of my aging car. After meeting with a loan officer and evaluating the options, it was clear we could swing the payments, but it would be extremely tight and probably not fiscally responsible. We are CHOOSING to stay in an apartment until we can afford a 20% down payment as well as live entirely on a single income. I was surprised how “encouraging” the loan officer was, constantly referencing how it is such a buyer’s market right now. There was no hesitation or thought of emergency funds or crisis management even though the current economic climate virtually guarantees unforeseen problems. A good investment opportunity can still be a bad investment, if you are not in a position to take advantage of it, and even minimal risk is still considered risk for a reason.

We are also CHOOSING to not have children until we set up that same long-term single income stability.

Life is about CHOICES. You CHOOSE your attitude. You CHOOSE your path. You CHOOSE how you respond to life’s circumstances.

Every single breath is a gift from God. All He promises is Himself, and He is enough.

I am the 99%, and I thank the 1% for their hard work and the opportunities they provide for the rest of us.

I am the 53%.

For those that are Occupying Wall Street: The banks didn’t put you in debt. You put yourself in debt. I agree that we shouldn’t bail out the banks, but one has nothing to do with the other. The banks’ inability to run a responsible and profitable business has no tie to you agreeing to enter into a legally binding contract for a predetermined interest rate. If you thought the rate was unfair, you were not forced to take the loan. The bank provided an opportunity you could otherwise not afford, so we should not only repay our debts, but we should do so gratefully. Get off Wall Street, and Get to Work. No job is “beneath” you. You are entitled to nothing.