Sunday, March 30, 2008

LA Scene: Dudamel, Bruins, Dodgers

Friday Evening

Got the chance to see Dudamel in action.

The body language of the conductor and orchestra said they are having fun out there!

The evening started with Salonen's Insomnia. As the name suggests, it was a spooky sounding piece that captured the rat running in a maze feeling one feels late at night when one can't sleep.

The piano soloist Simon Trpceski joined the philharmonic on stage and played the demanding Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1! His fingers were moving along the keys with frantic speed. How do piano players do that? Just amazing!

Upon completion, the audience roared and applauded its praise. Trpceski treated us to a rare encore. He played a beautiful and delicate solo piano piece by Debussy.

The night was closed out with Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

It was a night of music that makes you sit up and take notice. Dudamel energy made the audience sit up and take notice and he is clearly on his way to seizing the adoration of the LA Phil fans.

In a rare move, he had the Philharmonic take a bow facing us in the cheap seats in the Orchestra View section located behind the orchestra. We applauded and cheered at the gesture!

UPDATE: Mark Swed of the LA Times has his report of the Friday night concert.

Saturday Afternoon

UCLA 76 Xavier 57!

Followed along with radio (570 KLAC) and television CBS channel 2.

A good team effort with 4 players scoring in double digits. Go Bruins!

Saturday Evening



Click here for the LA Times coverage of the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers in Los Angeles.



Read a story about the exhibition game at the LA Coliseum. I was in Section 26 Row 56! It was a tad chilly and the strange configuration of the field was a sight to behold. It was more of an event and celebration than a baseball game but it was all for a good cause with funds going to "Think Cure" which is the Dodgers charity for cancer research.



The box score of the game. Red Sox 7 Dodgers 4.

Next up ... opening day at Dodger's Stadium on Monday afternoon!

Photos to come but for now, check out Plaschke's column describing the opening ceremony.

UPDATE: Photos below!



McCourt meeting the fans and the workers in the Left Field Pavilion.



People carrying out the flag.



Its huge!



The B-1 flyby!

As a fan of the Dodgers growing up in LA in the 70s, it brought chills to see players from those days. As someone who gobbled up Jane Leavy's biography on Sandy Koufax in a matter of days, I recognized some of the other names who came out onto the field from that era.

As player after player walked onto the field like Field of Dreams, I wondered, Koufax has been so private all these years, will he make an appearance?

The players standing at their old positions began to walk toward to mound. Lasorda trotted out from the left field bullpen and the crowd roared. Lasorda reached the mound and the crowd exploded as Koufax came out from the dugout to join the living history of the Dodgers!

Erskine, Newcombe and Koufax threw out the opening pitches!



Friday, March 28, 2008

Sports: Xavier vs. UCLA, Saturday



Against A&M, it was the Collison and Love show. Against WKY, it was the Keefe and Love show.

UCLA will need a third key player to show up big to even have a chance at beating Xavier.

I'm hopeful that Howland will come up with a game plan but in the end, the guys have to execute on the court.

GO BRUINS!

Culture: Merchants of Cool

As part of youth group planning meeting we saw a clip from the documentary Merchants of Cool.

From the short clip we saw, the emphasis in the television show was about the business side of life for teenagers. As such I think the definition of cool might have one definition in the context of commerce and another in the context of personalities. In the context of business the "cool" would be the "early adopters," "opinion shapers" and "trend setters."

Following the 80-20 rule, these would be the 20% that leads the way for the other 80%. These trend setters would be considered cool. I suppose cool is about creating a certain persona in one's social tribe.

In another context (i.e. Jesus is cool) that definition would be different. In this setting, what we're looking for is somebody who seems to hear "a higher voice" than what is commonly heard. Instead of hearing the "zeitgeist," this type of individual would follow that higher voice even if it to their disadvantage to do so. They would follow it even if they are viewed as a minority position.

However, if we don't hate this person, we respect that person for following that higher voice.

Thus, cool within the context of business and in the context of dynamic personalities might not be (and probably is not?) the same person? Cool, in the context of consumer products, would be someone who has bought into the idea that our life is in our possessions and our things. Cool, in the context of somebody was has heard that higher voice, would be someone who has recognized that our being entails reputation and character and that life goes beyond and transcends the material and the obvious.

As I see it, the challenge, for us as Jesus followers personally and those trying to encourage young people, is to seek to see beyond the material, the visual and transient acceptance of peers through externals. But rather that we should seek for the pleasure of God (that higher voice) and that that invisible thing in fact would have more impact on our happiness and have a more lasting impact on our lives than any material things and attendant acceptance from peers because of externals.

This seeking after God will impact our relationships with others who are drawn to the cool of commerce. They may think we are nuts. But some might see in our lives, if we live that way for the higher voice, that there is something more valuable, that there is joy and peace which mere externals promise but do not deliver.

Jesus called his first followers to leave their nets and follow him. Thus, are we, today, to call people to leave their Abercrombie clothes and X-Box to follow Jesus?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sports: WKU vs. UCLA on Thursday

As a Bruin fan, have been scouring the internets for analysis on the upcoming game!

Bruin fans can swing by some fan sites for items. If you are a fan be sure to bookmark, Bruinsnation.com and BruinBasketballReport.com.

Lunardi on WKU:



Lunardi on UCLA:



UCLA has been tempting fate with lots of close games in the last few weeks.

Hopefully, Lunardi is right that the Bruins pour it on!

Here is Gene Wojciechowski's profile on UCLA Coach Howland. I'm sure Howland is working on a game plan to corral the WKU star guard and up tempo style.

After Texas A&M and so many close games this season, this Bruin fan is hopeful but nervous!

In any case, GO BRUINS!!!

UPDATE: UCLA wins 88-78 but way too much drama!!!

Audio clip highlights.

Video highlights.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sports: How did the NIT selection committee do?

The NIT is down to the final 8.

Who made it?
By seeding: 1,1,1,1,2,2,2,3.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sports: Mad Marchness!

Got to give the NCAA selection committee credit as the seedings by and large held true.

Let's do the numbers:
East region: 1, 2, 3 and 4 advance.
South region: 1, 2, 3 and 5 advance.
West region: 1, 3, 7 and 12 advance.
Midwest region: 1, 3, 10 and 12 advance.

11 of the 16 were "supposed" to advance and a five seed getting to the round sixteen is as much of an "upset" as a 9 beating an 8.

Duke and GTown going down were clearly shockers. You just don't expect 2 seeds to get bounced. UConn, a 4 seed was defeated because a key player was injured early in their first round game paving the way for an upset. Vandy, the other 4 seed ousted, was in the eyes of many commentators over-rated. Pittsburgh, the other 4 seed that lost, was beated by 5th seeded MSU which at most would be considered a minor upset.

Conference breakdowns in the sweet 16:
Pac10 - 3 teams (UCLA, Stanford, WSU)
Big East - 3 teams (Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville)
Big 10 - 2 teams (Wisconsin, Michigan State)
Big 12 - 2 teams (Kansas, Texas)
SEC - 1 team (Tennessee)
ACC - 1 team (UNC)
A10 - 1 team (Xavier)
CUSA - 1 team (Memphis)
Southern - 1 team (Davidson)
Sun Belt - 1 team (W. Kentucky)

Sports: UCLA 51 Texas A&M 49

Was at the Pond yesterday!

Game one was high drama with Stanford winning it on a late shot in OT 82-81 over Marquette.

As a Pac10 partisan, was rooting for Stanford. After that game, the UCLA fans in our section were all thinking, okay, a little less drama please for our beloved Bruins!

Well, you guessed it, Texas A&M came out and punched UCLA in mouth with physical play and just wanting it more en route to building a 10 point lead by the mid-second half.

But, like all year long, the Bruins just seem to find a way to fight back and won 53-49 as Collison and Love simply refused to lose on offense and the whole team playing strangling defense in the last half of the 2nd half.



UPDATE: The final basket by Westbrook came after the buzzer. The official score has been corrected to 51-49.

Links to video highlights.

UPDATE: Play log of the game. Check this out:
10:09 Donald Sloan made Two Point Jumper. TxAM 44 UCLA 36.
4:14 Derrick Roland made Free Throw. TxAM 45 UCLA 43.
UCLA's defense held them scoreless almost SIX minutes!

UPDATE: There has been some criticism here , here and here, that the refs swallowed the whistle on the final drive by Sloan. Certainly, in the still photos, it looked like a foul. In full speed live action from the upper bowl (i.e. very far away!) in the Honda Center, it didn't seem like a foul. Nonetheless, I can understand the angst over the no call.

It is one of those dreadful "what ifs?" Would Sloan have made the 2 foul shots to send it into OT? Who would have won in another 5 minutes of bruising basketball? We will never know because the ref either missed it or didn't feel the contact was enough to make the call?

However, it has to be said, in both games the fans in our section were scratching our heads repeatedly at the inconsistency of the calls. Sometimes very obvious "muggings" weren't called and other times ticky tack calls were made. Any number of calls were probably missed that could have added or subtracted points and you hope the "boo-boos" balance out. But on a highly visible final play, it is hard to be satisfied with that explanation of the limitations and realities of sports officiating.

IN any case, GO BRUINS!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Devotional Thoughts: 7 sayings of Jesus on the Cross, meditations inspired by art

One common way to commemorate Good Friday is to reflect on the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross. This evening I went to All Saints Episcopal Church of Beverly Hills. There was a collection of artwork connected with the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross. At each station there was also an essay which I was told by one of the ushers was prepared independently of the artwork.

Individuals who came into the service were invited to enter the sanctuary and to view the stations in any order they wished. I decided to reflect on the sayings and artwork and but not read the written essays. I jotted initial thoughts in my journal and I'm expanding on those ideas in this blog post.

The first station, "Woman behold your son..." (John 19:26) appeared to be a Mary statue with a video iPod on it. The iPod flashed pictures of various people. Contemplating this reminded me of how Jesus always thought about other people. Thus, while even dying on the cross, he was thinking about his mother Mary and providing for her future by asking the disciple whom he loved to take care of her.

The second station I saw was "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me," the saying of Jesus found in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. At the station, there was a painting of a torn cloak. This exclamation by Jesus showed the separation between a holy God and the consequences of sin that he bore on the cross. Jesus who had never been separated from God was torn away from God at that moment. How that worked theologically I have no idea. The artist showed this trauma very simply by showing a cloak on the ground that was torn into two pieces: a larger piece and a lonely smaller piece.

The third station, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34) was a statue of a tree with fruit hanging from its branches. Some of the fruit were split in half and on the inner face of the fruit were line drawings of human faces. There were two fruit that were not open. What did that mean? In my mind, a tree with fruit symbolized the Genesis story of man's fall. The tree of the fall was overcome by the tree of Calvary, of Jesus on the Cross. As for the split open fruit, I felt that the artist might be trying to show that humanity is fractured because of sin. And each split fruit had a picture of a human face making personal the fall. The fall isn't just an abstract theological concept but the reality of individuals. Perhaps the unopened fruit symbolized some people's ignorance of their fallen state?

The fourth station I saw bore the title, "Father into thy hands I commit my spirit" drawn from Luke 23:46. There were seven engraving prints on the floor that looked identical. Each had a classic image of Jesus on the cross on a hill. I suppose the choice of seven (the symbolic number of completeness and perfection) such prints was the artist way of communicating that Jesus' mission was completed by his death on the cross. The other part of the station were three somewhat abstract drawings that appeared to be pencil on glass. Three images could be a reference to the Trinity but perhaps it was incidental to the visual parable. One of the drawings appeared to be a shaft of light coming from above though there were some crosshatching marks suggesting other light sources coming from other directions but the vertical shaft was dominant. The second image had lines going in various directions but the obvious object appeared to be kind of a rectangular structure at the bottom suggestive of an altar where sacrifices would be placed. The third image again was a series of lines with the most notable being tight lines on the right-hand side perhaps forming a wall. Taken together these might be symbols of where things stand because of Jesus: he is the light of the world, he is the effectual sacrifice and until we receive him, the wall between a holy God and broken and sinful humanity remains.

The fifth station was entitled, "I thirst," from John 19:28. There was an uprooted tree hanging above a pot. The tree had no leaves. Next to the tree were two seated people reading various verses about the suffering savior. As I reflected on the scene, I thought about the isolation of Jesus on the cross. I am grateful for the benefit of what Jesus did for me on the cross. I'm moved and humbled by the tremendous cost. Death on the cross was the one of the most brutal. But in addition to that kind of death was Jesus living amongst us. Him who knew the full freedom of divinity confined himself to frail flesh. He who could still the raging waters reduced to saying, I thirst.

The sixth station was called, "It is finished," (John 19:30) and was a series of five paintings. I didn't sense there was a progression from painting to painting. They appeared to be black ink on vellum. Each design has a circular portion on the top part. Attached to the bottom of the circle was a roughly rectangular shaped area. The bottom rectangular shaped area had fairly frightening images of dragons, of anguished faces and other odd shapes that evoke a sense of discomfort. Connected to these were the circular portions which had more pleasant images. The images didn't have any obvious symbolic meanings to me but they were of shapes that didn't cause discomfort like the bottom images. Perhaps, the artist had in mind that through Jesus incarnation, the bridging of the Divine and the good with sinful humanity was taking place?

The seventh station I contemplated was entitled, "Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise" from Luke 23: 43. The station had a chair covered in a white sheet placed in front of a panel of candles and incense. At the center of this altar piece was a cross that had candles. Additionally, there was a string of blinking Christmas lights. Behind and above this altar area was a screen where projected images of clouds and light patterns danced. The final element was the soft playing of soothing classical music. The firelight from the candles, the choice of soft white Christmas lights as opposed to bright gaudy colors combined with the video projections of clouds and light and the calming classical music created an environment of rest and peace. To the thief who repented, his hearing from Jesus that he would be welcome to paradise would be indeed a soothing thing. For me today, stained by sin, beaten up by difficulties and wearied by busyness, the Cross brings me to paradise in part with the fulness of it to be experienced upon my meeting Jesus.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life: Why men shouldn't get action figures



Got the above jpg in an email this morning with the tag line, "Why men shouldn't get action figures ..."

LOL!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Youth: What we don't know ... maybe I don't really want to know?

Came across this item the other day at YS Marko, a blog about working with youth in a church.

I'm not up on the phenomena, but apparently, some web pages allow people to post their secrets anonymously.

In the blog post, YS Marko points to such a web page and clipped a few excerpts of what some teen girls wrote about.

I was with the youth group on Tuesday night and they all seem to be happy well adjusted kids.

What would they post if given that opportunity?

Would they share such things with anyone?

And I have to ask myself this question: would I really want to hear it?

What would I do if I heard such a secret?

Its one thing to read about such things in the abstract, its quite another to connect such gut kicking secrets with a person you know.

I want to believe that I would be able to respond with love and acceptance and not shock and rejection.

I want to believe I would have the wisdom to know what to say if something needed to be said or to say nothing but just give a hug or a pat on the back.

At a YS conference I went to a couple of years ago, I remember one speaker said, there is no such thing as a "typical youth volunteer" because we get all kinds of kids in a youth program so we need all kinds of youth volunteers.

I'm probably as far from a "typical youth volunteer" as there is and so that statement comes back to my recall periodically when I think it is time to call it quits.

I can engage in a little navel gazing here but I have to remember it is about Jesus and helping our students connect with Jesus.

Devotional Thoughts: Easter and a Pipe as a Metaphor

Was checking this out this morning.

Part I:



Part II:



Lord, you are the living water. Help me be connected to you. Clear out the kinks and junk in me so that that water flows out to give life to, nourishes and refreshes all I meet. Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Non-profit of the month: March 2008 - Search Dog Foundation

On the right hand column, I have two button/ad sized links to non-profits. One of them is to the Search Dog Foundation.

I came to know about the Search Dog Foundation because of Hurricane Katrina.

Their mission, straight from their home page:

The mission of the Search Dog Foundation is to produce the most highly trained canine disaster search teams in the nation. The job of these teams is to find people buried alive in the wreckage of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Check out their FAQ to learn more about what they do and what it takes to train a search dog. Here are some excerpts:

SDF recruits dogs from across the country that are rescued from abuse or abandonment. Typically these dogs demonstrate high energy, tenacity and boldness, making them ideal for search and rescue, but unsuitable for a family pet. After passing stringent screening and testing criteria, the dogs are then trained to harness that high energy, drive and tenacity into life-saving skills.
.........
When the dogs are ready (and not before), they receive six months of professional training before being teamed with a handler. Since the dog comes to the handler completely trained, the time it takes for the handler/dog search team to attain FEMA Advanced Certification is significantly reduced. A process that often took two or more years now takes 11 to 14 months.

How long does it take to train a dog?
The initial cost to create one canine-firefighter team is $10,000 for the following.

Canine Recruitment and Prep Home Stay for evaluation and socialization (1 to 2 months);
Canine Boot Camp (6 to 8 months);
Handler’ Course (14 days);
First Year Training toward Certification (1-2 years);
Ongoing Training to maintain top deployment readiness (8 years);
Lifetime Care in a loving home upon retirement.
The firefighters can’t do this without their dogs, and we can’t do this without your help. Your tax-deductible gift, small or large, will help fuel the hope that people count on in time of need.
If you can, please support these unsung heroes who train up dogs to serve this vital role in search and rescue operations.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Technology: MacSpeech Dictate

Speech recognition software such as Dragon Speaking is very popular on the Windows platforms. However for many years, the Mac lagged behind in this area. Recently, MacSpeech Dictate came out. I am using it right now to dictate this blog post. So far it's pretty accurate. As a blogger, sometimes it's easier to compose by typing at the keyboard. However, if I have a lot of thoughts on my mind, it might be easier to talk to the computer and then clean it up later. So if you see some really long blog posts, it might be the result of my talking to my MacSpeech Dictate. Good night for now.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sports: 2008 NIT Bracketology

UPDATE: NIT bracket has been released!

First off, want to say I love the passion of the various fans who have visited this site! Have been getting 150-300 visitors a day this past week, with 9000+ hits today! A thank you to the handful who decided to say what's on their mind even if it is to tell me I don't know what I'm blogging about! 8-) And thank you that thus far, I have not had to delete anyone's comments as I try to run a family friendly blog here.

For the record, 27 of the 32 teams I predicted got into the NIT.

My NIT picks were put to bed on Saturday night so I didn't take into account the results of the last few tournament games Sunday nor the release of the NCAA bracket. Thus, I didn't anticipate that Ohio State and Illinois State would fall out of the NCAA into the NIT so I got those wrong. Their fall into the NIT would have pushed Charlotte and Miami-Ohio out of my selections. I had Villanova in the NIT but they wound up in the NCAA which would have brought Charlotte back into the NIT on my list. Thus, I had three outright misses in the case of SDSU, Maryland and Cleveland State who were on the top half of my "just out" group. Thus, they were on my radar as potential NIT candidates but the NIT selection committee felt their resumes were better than I thought.

As far as seeding forecasts, I was either correct or off by one. I've marked below the three cases where I was off by 2 of more.

If all goes well, NIT Bracketology will return in 2009!

Until then, enjoy the Madness!


Be sure to check out NIT-ology which is the first NIT Bracketology web site I found a couple years back. Just recently discovered another very fine site, The Bracket Project - NIT.

So for insatiable fans, here is an additional 2008 NIT Bracketology to chew on!

Boldfaced teams are in the NIT by auto bid.

Out of NCAA into NIT (could sneak into NCAA)

1) Syracuse
2) New Mexico (they are a 5 seed)
3) Mississippi
4) Creighton

Solid NIT (self-explanatory)
5) Villanova (went up to NCAA)
6) Va Tech
7) Dayton
8) Arizona St (I don't know. If the NCAA takes AZ, they kind of have to take Oregon and ASU because those two teams have better Pac10 records than the Wildcats and beat AZ twice each! But ASU RPI is poor.)
9) U Mass
10) VCU, Colonial regular season champions, lost in semi-finals to W&M, George Mason goes to the NCAA
11) Florida State
12) Florida
13) G. Tech (outright miss)
14) Southern Illinois
15) UAB
16) Oklahoma State
17) Nebraska (they are a 3 seed)
18) California
19) IUPUI (outright miss)
20) Rhode Island
21) Minnesota (they are a 4 seed)
22) Texas Tech (outright miss)
23) Akron

Can be bumped out of NIT from teams bumped from NCAA
If Illinois beats Wisconsin, a bubble bursts in the NCAA sending someone to the NIT. Likewise if Georgia beats Arkansas.
24) Charlotte
25) Miami-Ohio (bumped by an NCAA bubble burst)

Automatic bid to NIT for regular season champs
26) UCSB, Big West regular season champs, lost to my Anteaters!
27) Utah State, regular season champs, lost in WAC semi-final
28) Stephan Austin, Southland regular season champs lost in semi-final
29) Robert Morris, Northeast regular season champs lost in post-season tournament
30) UNC Ashville, Big South regular season champs lost to Winthrop
who goes to NCAA
31) Morgan State, MEAC regular season champs, lost in finals)
32) Alabama State, regular season champs, lost in Southwest semi-final

Just out (self-explanatory)
Maryland (in NIT)
Cleveland State (in NIT)
Houston
SDSU (in NIT)
Wake Forrest
Illinois
Wash
Cal State Fullerton (they win Big west they go to NCAA!)

UPDATE: CBI bracket announced.

One-bid conferences

NCAA at-large or on NCAA Bubble:
SUNBELT (South Alabama, regular season champs, lost in tournament, W. Kentucky gets auto bid to NCAA)
UPDATE: They got into the NCAA as a 10-seed.

Going to the NCAA:
AMERICA EAST (UMBC, regular season champs, won tournament)
ATLANTIC SUN (Belmont, regular season champs, won tournament)
BIG SKY (Portland State, regular season champs, won tournament)
HORIZON (Butler, regular season champs, won tournament)
IVY (Cornell, regular season champs, no tournament)
METRO ATLANTIC (Siena, regular season champs, won tournament)
MID AMERICAN (Kent State, regular season champ, won tournament)
OHIO VALLEY (Austin Peay, regular season champs, won tournament)
PATRIOT (American, regular season champs, won tournament)
SOUTHERN (Davidson, regular season champs, won tournament)
SUMMIT (Oral Roberts, regular season champs, won tournament)

To keep track of the conference tournaments go to Championship Week Page at ESPN and for commentary on the mid-majors visit Kyle Whelliston's Mid Majority.

UPDATE: Welcome St. Joe Hawk fans! Have a good A10 tourney run! A win over Xavier could get your guys into the NCAA! Beat Temple and you get the AUTO bid to the NCAA! Wow!

UPDATE: If I start a CBI bracketology an intervention will be required! Some probably think an intervention is already necessary as it is? If you can't get enough brackets, visit the gaggle of NCAA brackets at The Bracket Project's Bracket Matrix!

UPDATE: NITology made a good point about the new CBI and its potential impact on the NIT: (3/13/08) Providence, Washington and Seton Hall played themselves out of the NIT with losses in the first rounds of their conference tournaments. Of course, these teams may prefer to host a bunch of CBI games anyway. Should be very interesting (and, unfortunately for me, impossible to predict) whether some of the larger schools that would not receive NIT home games will defect to the CBI. If teams like Wake and California show up there it'll be pretty clear that's what happened so I won't beat myself up for misses like that.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sports: UCLA vs. Stanford, Cal State Fullerton vs. UC Irvine

UCLA 67 Stanford 64.

I don't know how they win. 3 games in 3 days and it showed with poor free throw shooting. No Luc Richard. Kevin Love with back spasms. Horrible shooting percentage. Yet, somehow the gutty little Bruins hang in there and find a way to win.

Looking at the stats as ugly as the offense number were, the effort and defense numbers showed the extent to which Howland has got this team believing. Rebounds 39 for UCLA 34 for Stanford. But the shocking number is 18 offensive boards compared to 5! The other number is 6 steals versus 2. UCLA also played under control with only 4 turnovers.

How far can this team go?

GO BRUINS!

Later on, down the Interstate 5, CSUF vs. UCI. Fullerton is favored to win as the #3 seed compared to UCI, the #5 seed. Fullerton beat the Anteaters twice in conference play. Fullerton had an easy win in the semi-finals over Northridge and no trouble with UC Riverside in the quarters. Irvine is playing their fourth game in four days of which the previous two were hard fought down to the last possession wins over Pacific and UCSB.

At the half, UCI is down 10, 37-27. UCI is getting beat in every facet of the game according to the reporting at KUCI streaming audio.

Rip 'em Eaters, zot, zot, zot!

Its in the refrigerator for the Titans. We shall see if they can pull off an upset in the NCAAs. It is their first time in 30 years. They are up 16 with just a few minutes left. By the sound of it, UCI is simply out of gas. It was a good run in the second half of the season and quite an accomplishment to get to the Big West finals.

Its a final CSUF 81 UCI 66.

Will be checking back with Anteater basketball next season.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sports: UCI vs. UCSB, UCLA vs. USC

Can they hang on?!

UCI 52 UCSB 50, 28 seconds left. UCI ball!

Meanwhile, at Staples Center UCLA and USC go at it again! UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is out with an injury! Mata-Real, Keefe and Aboya are going to have to come up big.

UCI 55 UCSB 50, 3.5 seconds left!

Its a final. UCI goes to the Big West Finals with the NCAA bid on the line. Rip Em Eaters, ZOT, ZOT, ZOT!!!!!!!!!!!

UCLA 57 USC 54.... whew! UCLA advances to the Pac-10 Finals! Hope LRMAM will be healed up by tournament time!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sports: 2008 March Madness - Championship Week

Bruins beat the Bears, 88-66.

USC is next up. USC has the speed and athletes that cause trouble.

Can the Anteaters beat the Tigers?

Am catching the game via KUCI on streaming audio!

It is nervous time! Can they hang on?

UCI 53 UOP 43, 5:06 left!

Argh, shot clock violation by Irvine and now UOP is at the foul line!

[snip]

UCI proceeds to self destruct!

[snip]

UCI time out!

15 seconds left.

Turn over. 6 seconds left. UOP time out!

This is it. UOP inbounding the ball. UOP miss! Attempted put back. Was the blocked shot a goal tending? No, rule the refs.

UCI 57-56!

UCI takes on UCSB on Friday!

Business: Dave the Cobbler

Want to give a shout out to Dave Page, Cobbler!

I have an old pair of hiking boots I bought in 1997. Love 'em. Very comfortable. But the soles fell apart recently. Went to the REI page and found a page on Hiking Boot Care with info to Dave Page for repairs.

Contacted them and mailed the boots in and got them back!

Hiking anyone?

Culture: March Madness 2008

Its that time of the year for college B-ball fans!

#5 seeded UC Irvine took care of business by dispatching Long Beach 77-63. UOP is next for the Anteaters. Rip 'em 'Eaters, zot, zot, zot!

Meanwhile, I'll be following my beloved Bruins. Da Bears feel they was robbed at Pauley last Saturday and will be out to prove something. UCLA's gaudy record of 28 wins hides the fact the team has significant deficiencies. On the offense end, they don't hit the outside shot well so teams collapse on Kevin Love and dare the shooters to make them pay. On the defense end, UCLA has the big guys to get rebounds but that means they are a bit slow and teams that spread them out and take advantage of speed and nifty passing can shred UCLA's pressure defense. Usually, the pressure defense forces teams into mistakes but an athletic team with good passing and a cool head will be trouble.

Nonetheless, GO BRUINS!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Devotional Thoughts: Job as a Jesus figure?

Job 30 from Eugene Peterson's The Message ...

But no longer. Now I'm the butt of their jokes - young ruffians! whippersnappers!
Why, I considered their fathers
mere inexperienced pups.
But they are worse than dogs - good for nothing,
stray, mangy animals,
Half-starved, scavenging the back alleys,
howling at the moon;
Homeless guttersnipes
chewing on old bones and licking old tin cans;
Outcasts from the community,
cursed as dangerous delinquents.
Nobody would put up with them;
they were driven from the neighborhood.
You could hear them out there at the edge of town,
yelping and barking, huddled in junkyards,
A gang of beggars and no-names,
thrown out on their ears.

In the last part of Job 29, Job described what his life was once like. Once highly respected, his suffering now has diminished him in the eyes of others. Job is clearly frustrated and essential calls his critics worse than dogs. He seems them like people picking over the garbage! He feels they are picking at him like he has become garbage ...

But now I'm the one they're after,
mistreating me, taunting and mocking.
They abhor me, they abuse me.
How dare those scoundrels - they spit in my face!
Now that God has undone me and left me in a heap,
they hold nothing back. Anything goes.
They come at me from my blind side,
trip me up, then jump on me while I'm down.
They throw every kind of obstacle in my path,
determined to ruin me -
and no one lifts a finger to help me!
They violate my broken body,
trample through the rubble of my ruined life.
Terrors assault me -
my dignity in shreds,
salvation up in smoke.

What I wonder is whether Job is blasting the 3 friends who have been with him in this drama? Or if Job referring to other passer by peoples?

We have to remember, the book of Job itself is a stylized drama of the thoughts and feelings around one man's suffering and what people close to him would say in response.

In real life, there would be Job, the close friends and other more distant observers of the scene. I do wonder if this part is giving voice to how when the mighty (Job) have encountered tragedy people discard their relationship to him because they no longer benefit from that relationship?

And now my life drains out,
as suffering seizes and grips me hard.
Night gnaws at my bones;
the pain never lets up.
I am tied hand and foot, my neck in a noose.
I twist and turn.
Thrown facedown in the muck,
I'm a muddy mess, inside and out.
What Did I Do to Deserve This?

Haven't we all been in this place? And of course, Job far more beaten down than anything I have experienced!

I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer!
I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare!
You've turned into my tormenter -
you slap me around, knock me about.
You raised me up so I was riding high
and then dropped me, and I crashed.
I know you're determined to kill me,
to put me six feet under.

Harsh words from Job about God.

What did I do to deserve this?
Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help?
Haven't I wept for those who live a hard life,
been heartsick over the lot of the poor?
But where did it get me?
I expected good but evil showed up.
I looked for light but darkness fell.
My stomach's in a constant churning, never settles down.
Each day confronts me with more suffering.
I walk under a black cloud. The sun is gone.
I stand in the congregation and protest.
I howl with the jackals,
I hoot with the owls.
I'm black-and-blue all over,
burning up with fever.
My fiddle plays nothing but the blues;
my mouth harp wails laments.

This passage in Job is about as bleak as it gets!

As I meditate on this passage this Wednesday morning, this reminds me: Jesus knows.

Job said, "Homeless guttersnipes chewing on old bones and licking old tin cans."

Jesus in John 19:23-24: Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be"; this was to fulfill the Scripture: "THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS."

Job said, "But now I'm the one they're after, mistreating me, taunting and mocking."

Jesus in Mark 15:19-20: They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.

Job said, "And now my life drains out, as suffering seizes and grips me hard. Night gnaws at my bones; the pain never lets up."

Jesus in Matthew 26:36-38: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

Job said, "I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer!"

Jesus in Matthew 27:46: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

Job said, "What did I do to deserve this? Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help?"

Jesus in Luke 23:39-41: One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."

A Job as Jesus figure parallel can be advanced to some degree?

Job one man under fire with suffering. Jesus the one who came to suffer to redeem us.

Job one man under fire with suffering awaited vindication. Jesus the one who came to suffer to redeem us went through the bleakness of Good Friday.

Job one man under fire with suffering awaited vindication and in the end, God visits him and restored him. Jesus the one who came to suffer to redeem us went through the bleakness of Good Friday to gain victory and vindication on Easter Sunday.

Job 30 on its own is bleak.

But at Tony Campolo said, Its Friday but Sunday is coming!

Lord, as the Easter season is here, I can't help but think about the connection between Job and Jesus. All that Job went through Jesus went through and even more. Thank you that you sought me even when I was afar off. Amen!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sports: Tempting fate

UCLA 81 Cal 80!

On one hand, you want a team to be able to pull off the improbable come from behind win and have the feeling that they are never out of a game.

On the other hand, they really shouldn't be in these situations.

It is so much easier on the nerves if you just blow people out!

Go Bruins!

Politics: Youtube dot com campaign

Not an official ad for Clinton but making the rounds ...



Jack Nicholson did work on it and has endorsed Clinton.

Black Eyed Peas and other pop icons and Obama ...

Non-profit of the month: February, 2008 - 168 Hour Film Project

Am a little behind on my updates spotlighting non-profits...

So in this early March, here is the non-profit of the month for February, 2008: 168 Hour Film Project.

Moving pictures are one of the most popular forms of entertainment these days and there is no such thing as "value-free" entertainment. Every movie and television show of long or short variety contain some world-view whether subtle or straightforward.

The 168 Hour Project is an opportunity for film-makers learning or breaking into the business to rub shoulders with some who are further along and uses the Christian Scriptures as the starting point for story telling.

In the last several years, I've had the chance to see a few of the short films produced and to hear stories about the process of growth of the film makers.

So check out the web page and if you are in the area for the film festival be sure to check it out.

April 11, 2008
United Community Auditorium
333. E. Colorado Blvd. Glendale, CA 91205

April 12, 2008
Alex Theatre
216 N. Brand Blvd. Glendale, CA 91203

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sports: Thursday night sports report

Huge night for sports in the LA area!

Down south at the Bren Events Center, the Anteaters beat UC Davis, 79-62 for their 4th win in a row!

Over at the Galen Center, the Bears got a double digit lead but then USC fought back in the second half to get a double digit lead only to give it all back sending it into OVERTIME! USC finally prevailed 93-89 over Cal.

Across town at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA somehow came back from the brink to send it to OT with tying free throws with 3 seconds left and then put away Stanford in overtime 77-67 to claim their third Pac-10 crown in three years.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Devotional Thoughts: That I May Know Him

A mini video devotional ...

Simplistic I know but it is what's on my mind and I just thought the title of the music used was an apt metaphor.

Click here to see it (length: 1 minute 12 seconds, 2767KB).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sports: UCI beats CSUN!

Woo hoo!

Devotional Thoughts: he lit up the way before me

Job 29 ...

Job continued speaking:
I long for the years gone by
when God took care of me,
when he lit up the way before me
and I walked safely through the darkness.
When I was in my prime,
God’s friendship was felt in my home.

Job looked back on his earlier life when things were better. And indeed, as one reads on, Job lived a life that if I could say those things in my old age, I would feel I've had a good life.

What are the things most of us care about in life?

The Almighty was still with me,
and my children were around me.

Family ...

My cows produced milk in abundance,
and my groves poured out streams of olive oil.

Material benefits to meet our needs and in Job's case he had more than enough ...

Those were the days when I went to the city gate
and took my place among the honored leaders.
The young stepped aside when they saw me,
and even the aged rose in respect at my coming.
The princes stood in silence
and put their hands over their mouths.
The highest officials of the city stood quietly,
holding their tongues in respect.
All who heard me praised me.
All who saw me spoke well of me.

Respect and a good reputation for good character ...

For I assisted the poor in their need
and the orphans who required help.
I helped those without hope, and they blessed me.
And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy.

Compassion ...

Everything I did was honest.
Righteousness covered me like a robe,
and I wore justice like a turban.

Integrity ...

I served as eyes for the blind
and feet for the lame.
I was a father to the poor
and assisted strangers who needed help.

Kindness ...

I broke the jaws of godless oppressors
and plucked their victims from their teeth.

Justice ... a real man blends gentle compassion with a fierceness for justice! I just love this word picture!

And so indeed Job has had a life well lived. And he had hopes for his sunset years...

I thought, "Surely I will die surrounded by my family
after a long, good life.

He then gives a metaphor that looks a lot like Psalm 1 ...

For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water,
whose branches are refreshed with the dew.

He continued on reflecting on his life ...

New honors are constantly bestowed on me,
and my strength is continually renewed."
Everyone listened to my advice.
They were silent as they waited for me to speak.
And after I spoke, they had nothing to add,
for my counsel satisfied them.
They longed for me to speak as people long for rain.
They drank my words like a refreshing spring rain.
When they were discouraged, I smiled at them.
My look of approval was precious to them.
Like a chief, I told them what to do.
I lived like a king among his troops
and comforted those who mourned.

In his suffering, he looked back on his life. Sure he is battered and burdened by what has happened. Imagine how much more pain he would have felt if he had not lived a good life?

In short, to live is to suffer. And if I have lived a wretched life and suffering befalls me, I would have deserved it. But if I have strived to live rightly and suffering befalls me, I would have the knowledge that I had done rightly and there are those who had benefitted. And of course, I'd have the knowledge that in the eyes of God, I would see his pleasure and he would welcome me into his presence with the commendation, well done, good and faithful servant.

Lord, help me to live the kind of life that Job is talking about here. When I speak to people in real life or when I blog broadcast to whomever is out there, let it be said, "They drank my words like a refreshing spring rain." Amen.