age | e

in front of you in line alphabetically since 2006

Friday, December 05, 2008

good news

So I got an email this morning. I'll be doing my student teaching at Placer, just like I'd been hoping. Bravo for walking to work, teaching at my alma mater, and already knowing where all the bathrooms are.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

quotes of the week

Regarding the need for a receipt when you take back your own Christmas tree you cut down yourself from the forest:

"One year the Forest Service set up a blockade. They caught a lot of Hmong people, too. You know what they found? Squirrels! They had killed all the squirrels and were taking them back with them!"

- The old lady who sold us our Christmas tree last Saturday

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Regarding the Hmong people's apparent affinity for squirrel meat:

"At least they don't waste them."

- Christmas tree lady

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To Dr. James, a regular early morning drive-thru customer at my Starbucks store:

"Will you tell me if this sounds like bronchitis? [Pause for inhale] *COUGH!*"

- one of my fellow baristas, who has been recovering from a cold

Dr. James went on to give her a quick diagnosis from his car. We owe him a free drink.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

field trip

Before the past two months, I think the last field trip I went on was to the Pilsner Urquell brewery with thirty 17 year-olds. It was another of those odd cross-culture experiences, where you stand by and watch your underage students throw back free samples of cold, yeasty beer, where you stand by as one of your students drinks a cold one right after you told him not to, where you get assaulted by a cranky old tour guide. It's a good story. Ask me some time.

It's good to be on the student side of field trips again. Especially this weekend, when Chrissy joined me and my ESL strategies class on a field trip to San Francisco. I really like this professor's philosophy: we can read all about multicultural teaching strategies that are basically tried and true and recommended by every other course anyway, or we can visit the places that our multicultural students might call home. So last Saturday we schlepped around the Mission District and Chinatown, taking pictures, seeing sites I never would have made the effort to check out otherwise, and eating foods muy deliciosos.

My favorite part of the trip was the murals in the Mission. The next time you get to wander around in The City, consider doing it up and down 24th street and up and down the side alleys. Take your camera.

And (yes, this sounds like bad advice, but...) look in the windows! I saw this huge paper airplane hanging from somebody's ceiling!

Monday, November 10, 2008


One weekend last summer Chrissy and I were wasting the day away drooling over furniture that we couldn't afford (turns out they don't appreciate wiping your saliva off the ottomans, even if they are microfiber) when we saw this incredible line of people stretching out the front door of some enormous pizza place.

"It must be new," I supposed.

"It must have quite the reputation, " Chrissy guessed. "With the ladies...." I added (in my mind).

"It must be incredible," we both agreed.

How right we were.

This weekend we queue-jumped that incredibly long line as part of a junior high group reservation to eat at John's Incredible Pizza, and let me tell you (if you haven't already figured it out): it was incredible.

Sure, the tickets-tokens-and-games arcade section is basically an upgrade on your old Chuck E. Cheese concept, but the all you can eat pizza, pasta, salad and dessert buffet was quite simply an early Thanksgiving. I myself ate 11 slices, and in a group that included mostly 12 year old boys, that was bush league.

Sure, it helped that we youth group volunteers ate for free and smorgasbords of coke and carbs puts anybody in a good mood, but I swear I would go to this place even if it weren't ministry.

I feel like that last word should be in quotes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

election day, finally

  • Surprise, surprise, Barack Obama was not elected president by a statistically significant margin a month ago, even though the polls said so. And Sarah Palin hadn't won the Evangelical vote, either, nor did John McCain carry or lose his home state of Arizona. Prop 8 didn't pass in September, but oh, the state budget did (about 3 months late, remember, but that's a different conversation). Election Day is here, and after 3 years of their campaigning, barring a repeat of the 2000 Florida fun-fest, later tonight we'll probably know who our next president will be.
  • Starbucks was crazy busy today. A free cup of coffee for voters had people lined up in our lobby and the drive-thru all morning long, from absentee voters who mailed their ballots in weeks ago to people stopping for some coffee on the way to the polls. This campaign has been heavy on Joe---Biden, Six Pack, The Plumber---why not add one more? Because it's illegal, for one thing.
  • And some people were ungrateful! Do you have a right to complain about high quality, cheerfully-served coffee given to you free of charge, all to affirm the public good? Apparently, yes. God Bless America.
  • I don't know about you, but I've been getting at least two calls a week from computers or volunteers for the past two months. This week it's been two per day. I even got one two minutes after walking out of my polling place. Chrissy, however, has received zero calls. I doubt that it's because my vote is more desirable than hers, but I will suggest that word of my sultry, sexy voice has gotten around on the robo- and volunteer call lists. Feel free to call me and ask my opinion about something if you want to hear for yourself ;-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

bright spots

  • We helped Todd and Tammy paint the outside of their house this Saturday. Sure, we just loved slowly around the walls and moved our arms a lot, but we were pretty wiped out at the end of the day.
  • Our friend Tim also showed up for the painting party. As the keeper of the sprayer, he walked away after clean up with a green head. He looked like the Incredible Hulk, if Bruce Banner had been a red head. He was the Irish Hulk. You definitely don't like him when he's angry.
  • This little article about Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama poking fun at themselves at a New York charity dinner reassured me in my conviction that most successful politicians only get so far by being generally likable people.
  • Chrissy saw Anchorman for the first time last night. I think I definitely found it funnier than she did, but she did laugh pretty hard at the news team brawling scene. I don't know if I can accurately call this "broadening her horizons," but well, you know.
  • The new Andrew Peterson CD, Resurrection Letters: Volume II, that I'd pre-ordered arrived a week earlier than I'd expected. I haven't got to listen to it much, but AP never disappoints.

Monday, October 13, 2008

reading, lately

One of the biggest stings of leaving the "Greater Prague Area" community was losing touch with my deep and fruitful pool of interesting readers. Thankfully, there are interesting readers all over the world, including little Auburn, California. Here's some of the books they've given me lately.

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf
I tried to read this without an Aaron Williams or a resistant C.A. team to keep me on track and gave up quickly. Somehow I found three other guys who wanted to pick this one up and are good filters. This is a very difficult read, but is has lived up to the acclaim so far.

Watchmen by Alan Moore
So it was the chance to hear a lecture about this well-regarded graphic novel (by the graphic novelist who wrote V for Vendetta) at a L'Abri conference that got me interested, and then seeing this movie trailer sealed the deal. This is a comic book for the literati and for people who think books need more pictures, and it's a more interesting way to see how the fall of modernism and the postmodern connundrum can be discussed than from reading wikipedia. Plus, the blue guy is naked all the time.

The Shack by William P. Young
I don't really get the controversy on this one. Again, this novel is a more entertaining distillation of a broad swath of theological meditations. Some of the metaphors are initially surprising, but a few turns of the pages lets us know that surprise is a critical part of our encounter with God. This book is not the Bible, but not since Rick Joyner's The Final Quest has a work of theologically-driven fiction struck a deeper chord in my heart. I already understand why people have been grateful for this one.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Long after its fifteen minutes of fame have passed, I finally read Life of Pi. If you haven't read it, read it for the first section---when he's growing up in India---which is one delightful scene after another. The ocean crossing is the heart of the story, but becomes tedious towards the end. And---spolier!---the epiphany at the end both satisfied and disappointed me. While I fully agree that telling the story of life is "a better story" when God is behind and at the center of everything, by the end of Pi's interview we are left to believe that the incredible story of a boy and a tiger is just an aesthetically superior interpretation of very different events. That, according to Pi, faith may be compelling and satisfying, but it is a leap from reality.

catching up in broad strokes

This week I wrap up my third session as a teaching credential student at Chapman. This was probably the easiest part of the program. Three months until the great student teaching juggle show begins. It's all uphill from here.

We started volunteering on a more committed basis at our church's junior high group at the end of last August. We're still really enjoying our time with the students. We feel like our main "ministries" there are (1) the ministry of attendance, (2) the ministry of sympathetic looks exchanged and post-meeting debriefings shared between the other leaders, (3) the ministry of purposeful silliness, and (4) the ministry of liking people.

Chana High School has its ups and downs, but Chrissy seems to be progressively blooming on this rocky hillside. The faculty at Chana has been much more welcoming than at Chrissy's previous teaching job, and Chrissy already feels much more a part of a team and a community, if I'm to summarize what she's been telling me over the past few weeks. It's still the Chana continuation school that I always heard about growing up in Auburn, but unencumbered by such prejudices, Chrissy has done well there and done a lot of good so far.

Being teachers, New Year's Day for us actually happens sometime around the end of August. So this past August we started our second year back in the states since returning from Prague in July 2007. God has blessed us here in Auburn
  • with more good friends than we were hoping for when we were packing our lives into four suitcases at the flat in Červený Vrch
  • with a comfortable place to live
  • with jobs that we mostly enjoy
  • with hope and hopeful directions to walk in
  • with a church community we're loving more all the time
  • with beauty from the ashes from my mom's unexpected death almost a year ago

Saturday, October 11, 2008

baby shower with a twist

Our friends Kyle and Colette, who...
  • are cool
  • have a last name that is fun to say
  • are having a baby girl in a few weeks
...had a baby shower this afternoon at Kyle's parents' house (two of three of the above items also apply to them). The "twist" to this baby shower was that it was a co-ed baby shower. This is simultaneously "as" and "not as" fun as it may sound.

The "as fun as it sounds" part was that having guys there doubled the size of the party and tripled the hilarity, I'm sure. Kyle is a charmer of women to be sure, but his comedic talents shine amongst his male brethren of the masculine gender. For the "not as fun" aspect, I leave you to a Google search of "co-ed," and recommend that safe search is "on" and the Bible is "open right next to you." Actually, just take my word on it.

For pictures and the rest of the story, I'm sure that there'll be a post on the booterblog sometime this weekend. Just know that it was fun, it was cute, and it was windy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

people in process

Any time we meet someone we're encountering them at only one point on a line. That point---such as Sunday, October 5th at 9:55pm or Thanksgiving 2007 or the day they took up the clarinet---is just that: one moment in the whole span of his/her life. He/she is a person who is growing, or at least a person who is becoming the person who he/she will eventually become. As much as it is useful to remember that our living, thinking, speaking and acting happens only in the present, we would do well to be mindful that we are all persons in process.

This would give us
  • humility to accept that we all must grow
  • patience not to stamp and fret upon the pace of that growth
  • space to let the Spirit be the quiet power that compels our growth
  • safety to speak the thoughts of our minds and work out the movements of our hearts
  • freedom to speak correction and disagreement without being dogmatic
  • freedom to listen to our brother and to be thankful for God's gifts to him
  • freedom to receive our sister and not to make our thoughts of her only worries
  • a fresh call to prayer every day

Saturday, October 04, 2008

because you have to start again somewhere

Writing in a journal (you know, the paper kind?) threw us off track here on le blog. Facebook compounded the problem. And excuses like dust in an abandoned back room layered up until I never even visited blogger anymore. So here's a little dusting.

An angry woman got her frappuccino later than she'd have preferred, and she let three or four of us know. I wasn't one of them, thankfully, and not getting yelled at let me place where I'd seen her before: oh yeah, she was the one at Chrissy's Back to School Night who was offering anger management sessions at an affordable price.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

one down!

This evening I finished my first session at Chapman University. Hurray!

With the sudden drop off in work I suddenly perceive that I am awash in free time (odd that I didn't notice this free time before I started back to school...). That combined with a heart that still beats with ambition and momentum, I feel ready to
  • re-take-up Spanish, and this time learn those 500,000+ palabras I missed the first time
  • read at least nine books
  • catch up with all of my friends around the world whose emails I have been putting little stars next to but not answering
  • update all of our address/phone book
  • write in my journal every day
  • write poetry
  • think about starting to run again but then reconsider
  • order next session's textbooks and complain about how expensive they are
  • memorize the Sermon on the Mount
  • plan a surprise birthday party for Chrissy and then spoil it by mentioning it on this blog
  • make lots and lots of frappuccinos
  • write a long and completely self-indulgent list like this one
Tomorrow I begin my reading holiday, Lord willing. And I shall read what I wish to read and nary a textbook shall oppose these eyes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Yesterday evening I (Chrissy) received an award from Placer School for Adults, the "Newcomer of the Year" award, for taking on a challenging new distance learning program and helping to expand the program. My mom flew up from Costa Mesa yesterday and surprised me with a visit. She came to see me get the award, bought me flowers, and then we went to dinner. Today I played hookie from work and went shopping with my mom before taking her to the airport.
I have a wonderful mom.
Love you, mom.

As grandma Nettie said last night, "You can always use some time with your mom."

Friday, May 02, 2008

some light reading for courtney

I apologize for the long set up, but for those of you who have known me in the past four to six years, the end of the ramble may amuse you.

So while Chrissy took to the mountains this weekend for an action-packed weekend of free-range scrapbooking (or something like that), this evening I had dinner with an old high school teacher of mine. A missionary friend of their family from Guatemala is visiting, and the family had invited a few of us they thought would be interested in getting to know her better.

She's really quite a remarkable lady who has seen God and has been Christ in the flesh to so many people. I only got to hear a few of her stories, but these few were quite beautiful and (sadly) exotic to my own experience. Tracy says that the only difference between living "on the mission field" and living in your hometown is where you tend to set your expectations for how you'll see God work. I think she's right.

This really isn't my main point, but it's probably a more important one.

Anyway, another former high school teacher of mine was also among the guests, the one and only Mr. Schroeder. We caught up a bit, and in the course of our conversation he mentioned a name that took me back to my freshmen year at Placer High School.

Sometime that spring we had an assembly in the school's big, orange, theater-style auditorium. Our speaker was a guy in his early thirties, I imagine, who was an adventurer/jack-of-all-trades type. He had lots of stories for us, and I suppose the "educational justification" for him being there was that he kicked butt or something. At least I thought he did.

Anyway, he stuck around and was later a guest speaker in my drama class, where he talked about his experience being a professional actor. He talked about what it took to get cast in the parts you wanted and such, such as learning to ride a unicycle if that's what the script called for. He also said that in your résumé you needed to have something that set you apart, something that made you different. For him it was that he could sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" backwards, the last word to the first word.

As a freshman, I thought this was so cool in a quirky, novelty act kind of way. In fact, I remembered this act over the next four years, and when I was a freshman at Vanguard, I pulled it out of my memory, took four days learning how to do it myself (along with "Banner Spangled Star The"), and performed it during Vanguard's annual talent show, "The Big Big Show." It made the splash that I was looking for as a know-nobody freshman, and actually opened a few really amazing opportunities for me in that community.

And, if you've known me for any longer stretch of time in the past four, five, six or so years, then you've probably heard me sing one of these crazy songs once or twice. Once it comes up people won't let you get away without a quick performance.

Including tonight.

I had forgotten the guest speaker's name until tonight. His name is Willie Weir, and this is his blog, and this is his homepage. Hopefully this link will up his place in the Google line a bit ;-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

i met arnold schwarzenegger last night

So on the first night of my second class at grad school, the director of our local Chapman campus walked in and simply announced:

"Actually, the whole Tuesday night program has been invited to meet the governor."

As the Czechs would say: "Cože?"

Our professor---this was news to him, too---joked that we were going on a field trip and that we would all have to sign permission slips. We laughed. He said, no really, you have to sign permission slips.

We did. It was no hassle, but less funny than the first joke.

And last night we all filed into a conference room in the governor's office in the capitol in Sacramento, where we met some ordinary people who are doing amazing things. We were met by cabinet officials, the governor's chief of staff, his cabinet secretary, the former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and then the Governator himself. He chided most of us for not wearing any green on Earth Day.

Thankfully he did not pinch us. The man has huge hands. I couldn't take my eyes off of his huge hands.

To be honest, apart from the genuine coolness of his story and the honest celebrity appeal, his story was the least interesting, but I think only because I've heard his story before. It was a cool opportunity to get to hear from our state's most public public servant (although I sincerely imagine he feels the same way about us). It would be fascinating to pick his brain (no, not like in Total Recall) for more reflections on what he calls the best job he's ever had.

All in all it was the coolest Civics lesson I've ever been a part of. After the Q&A we were led onto the floor of the Assembly Chamber, where the professor who set this all up, who is also an sitting assemblymember, described her job to us right where she does it. It is far too dry and unfitting a comparison to say that it was like an "I'm just a bill on Capitol Hill" lecture, but in the end, all of her stories and discussion covered all the same material.

Oh, and Happy Earth Day, Mr. Governator, sir.