Thursday, August 31, 2006

Random thoughts

  • My favorite coffee mug is dead. I dropped a coffee mug I won 12 years ago at a software class. The instructor was playing intro music and said he would give a mug to anyone who could name the artist. I quickly replied "The Dixie Dregs" and he was astonished. Evidently, he had played the same song for years at many similar demonstrations, and no one had ever answered correctly. I was very proud of my mug.
  • I think he'll be okay. Andy came down and we went to the VT/UNC game down here in NC. Oue passing game was horrid, but the defense looks as good as it's looked since 1999, and Brandon Ore is the man. He made plenty of 4,5,6 yard runs with no blocking. I can't remember a run the the left side, so the defense knew what was coming and they still couldn't stop him. He was also the leading receiver for the game. The game was a return to classic Hokie football: defense, special teams, run the ball, leave the opponent wondering how they lost the game so badly. Hokies win, 35-10.
  • Greatest Hits. I bought a CD last week of the greatest hits of a band that I saw, probably 8-10 years ago, and there were only 15 people there. Weird. Great band in my mind, but how do you ahve a greatest hits album if only 20 people like you? And what's so great about barrier reef?
  • I'm not good at poker. Twice, I've come in last in the World Tour of Nazarene Poker. I'm losing to a bunch of guys who grew up in a denomination where playing cards is not allowed. Maybe they're just better at lying.
  • Leadership. I spent two days this week at the second module of my company's leadership development course. This year, as last, I come away with a clearer picture of who I am capable of being. I was also able to combat my fear of heights on the high ropes course (although that was not the point). It is clear to me that I was able to do this because of the culture of support we create in the class in the first couple of hours (which was part of the point). One of our assignments was to deliver a motivational speech, which I did on the first day. I got a lot of positive feedback from the class, so I will post the text here later.
  • Love. Later this month we will attend the wedding of two of our favorite people I don't know if there is a single couple I've known that are so obviously best friends and obviously committed to each other. They asked us this week to be readers at the wedding (in Bryson City, NC in the mountains). We are obviously honored and excited. I'm even willing to skip a football game for this one.
  • Hope. Coming up in a few weeks, my favorite band is playing with a ton of other bands I like at the Carolina Hope Festival for a great cause. We may not make it, because we will be driving back from the wedding, but it looks like a great time.

What a week! Thoughts on how to deal...

Both Debbie and I have had a really rough week this week. I had a longtime friend tell me I wasn't a very good friend, we've both had difficulties with coworkers, and we've both had just busy workweeks. Monday, she made a point of getting up early to make it to work early. I left for work at 7:15, and she called me shortly their after. I didn't hear the cellphone ring, but saw she called and called back around 7:45. She was frantically looking for her keys (we only have one set for the Honda). I looked at my pocket and said "I'll call you back in a minute". Yep, they were in my pocket. I had to drive back home to give them back, but there was a wreck on the interstate, so I had to cut through RTP, which took some time. I had appointment to drop my car off at the body shop (one of the IT guys at work bumped into me in the parking lot week before last), so I called them to tell them I would be late. When I got there, they siad they didn't have an appointment scheduled so they didn't have the parts they needed. I left there and finally got to work at 9:20, over 2 hours after I left for work.

In both our weeks, people have doubted our motives. I can't think of a nicer, more genuine person than my wife, and I certainly try to be a good person. I got an e-mail from a co-worker in Denmark (of course it is someone whose motives I've doubted before), and his e-mail signature was a quote from Mother Teresa that helped put it in perspective (I mean, Jeez, who ever doubted Mother Teresa's motives):

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.
Give the world your best anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quick Summer Trip

Last week, Debbie and I were visited by her brother Tim, who lives in Seattle. We spent a few days on a quick summer trip while he was here. Wednesday, we travelled to Williamsburg, Va and spent the day at Bush Gardens. We had a good time, hitting up all the roller coasters despite long lines. At least the weather was pretty good, as it got cooler as the day progressed versus the upper 90s it had been the previous week or so. Thursday and Friday we spent at the Outer Banks, staying in Kill Devil Hills and visiting three light houses (Currituck Beach, Boide Island, Hatteras), Jockey's Ridge State Park, the Wright Brothers Memorial, and of course the beach. The highlight for me was being able to fly the kite that my neice and nephew bought me 6-7 years ago. I had tried several times, but had good success with the high winds at the outer banks. Other highlights included introducing my brother-in-law to the glorious expanse of Wings and the unmatched efficiency of Brew-Thru.

Jeff Tweedy at the NC Museum of Art

Sometime soon on this blog, I will write a series on albums that changed my life. There will be two albums featuring the talents of Jeff Tweedy, one by his previous band Uncle Tupelo and one by his current band Wilco, so last night was a treat for me. Mr. Tweedy played at the outdoor ampitheatre at the NC Museum of art, which is one of the nicest venues in the area (plus free parking and reasonably priced beer). It was a beautiful night to be outdoors, with a great bunch of guys in our crew (4 wives had tickets, but none made it) and the performance was great. He played a diverse set of mostly newer Wilco songs (heavy from "A Ghost is Born" and "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot") with a few Uncle Tupelo songs thrown in ("New Madrid" and "Acuff Rose" were highlights for me) and handled the hecklers in the crowd with grace and humor. He also performed quite a few songs I just didn't know, perhaps not recorded or from one of his other side bands (Loose Fur, Golden Smog, etc.) that I just don't have time to follow. Tweedy gave a shouout to NC native blues-woman Elizabeth Cotton and played a few bars from one of her songs. Overall, his part of the show was about an hour and a half. Jennifer O'Connor was the opening act.
As much as I like Wilco (which is a whole lot), sometimes their music is a little too "dense" for me. Seeing Tweedy perform these songs solo, his vocals accompanied only by his own guitar playing, makes the songs more accessible. I can then go back and listen to the layered, textured, sampled Wilco recordings and appreciate them much more. Tweedy's intensely personal songwriting, raw vocals, and able guitar playing is the americana/roots rock base on which increasingly progressive Wilco is built upon.
(Note: I stole this picture from someone else's website. I took the obligatory blurry picture with my new cellphone, but can't figure out how to get the pictures from the camera to my computer.)