Sunday, August 29, 2010

Random thoughts...this is a blog, right?

Today was such a Saturday. I woke up and shared the kitchen with three other guys as we sleepily staggered around bumping into cabinets and fumbling through drawers looking for ever-elusive forks, making breakfast, and figuring out what was happening on our respective schedules for the day. It reminded me how thankful I am to live with four good friends, and how richly God has blessed my life.
The morning turned into a warm afternoon, and the search online for a new washer/dryer continued.
"What about this one that's four hundred?"
"That's really more than I wanted to put in towards one, even if it was quite a bit nicer."
"I know, but this one is more green."
"Look, if you want green let's go with the two-hundred dollar one and I'll buy a five dollar can of paint and make it green."
"Did you get an email back yet?"
"No, that means it's probably gone right?"
"Yep. I bought it and I'll put it downstairs and none of you can use it."
"You're a jerk."
"You wanted a green one."

And so on. It wasn't that much different than the banter I heard from the five little girls I babysat for a housechurch meeting that evening.
"Okay, in this one then you're a bear."
"And then since you're the bear we all have to run around and you chase us."
"And then since you're a bear, we can escape by hiding under the blanket, and that means we stand in the middle."
"So we're all running, and you're chasing us."
"And then that's a safe base right there."

The beautiful slow ending of summer, a warm evening and home-made dinner of sausage gumbo and rice. Jason, Andy, Ryan and I spent several hours talking about Da Vinci and what a brilliant man he was, stood around the computer and "oohed" and "aahed" over his artwork, and speculated about how AWESOME the weapons he had imagined and drawn out for us to get excited about.

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
      -Leonardo Da Vinci

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I went belly up.

That's right, I've officially given in.
I tweet.
It's not like that's what'll do me in or anything though. I'm sure the sinus arrhythmia will get me first.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Featured Article

I read an article in the magazine "Time" today that listed their rather disappointing list of top ten things "kids these days will never experience." Here is what they listed.

Camera Film
Landline Phones
Real Books
Being Lost
Music Videos on MTV
The Glory Days of Nick at Nite
Tan M&M's
Arnold Schwarzeneggar, the Terminator

Now if you're anything like me (i.e. human) you looked at the above list and thought "huh?" And while an editorial piece that starts with "the top ten things" is just that, a perspective or opinion...COME ON. Really? Tan M&M's? YOU CAN'T TASTE THE COLORS. And why did Arnold Shwartzy make the list with his Terminator movie? This is a list for kids! Oh, and that's right, I went there. That doesn't stop the brown M&M's from being the least best, but that also is a matter of perspective.

I bring you with no further ado, the Authoritative List. The list that should've been but wasn't. The top ten list of (loud booming voice) NO CONTENTION!


The Top Ten Things Kids These Days Missed Out On Unless You're Willing to Bring It Back
Calvin and Hobbes. Rebellious, sarcastic, insightful, brilliant, and very much 6, this cartoon strip is the epitome of greatness in picture publishing hilarity and just all around a riotous good time.

Winding the cassette tape back in with a pencil while hoping the whole time that the music wasn't ruined, which it never was. If you haven't had to do this then..I don't really know. I don't know why this is significant or important, but it's definitely important for some reason. Maybe so your Donut Man songs could be played and danced to over and over again.

Barney. Love him or hate him, this disgusting and vile contemptible influence of feigned innocence is nonetheless one of the most famed characters of all time to be subjected to fake or pre-meditated killings. Every child knew how they would kill Barney.

Sesame Street. Not Elmo's World. The real show, the one that portrayed adult personalities like all-around angry individuals that were green and hairy, elephant-sized downers, clueless birds that walked around all the time doing not much in particular, aggressively happy small red people, always hungry individuals that were ruled by their sweet tooth, two men who lived together as just friends and sang together often, and interracial informational musicals that obviously pre-dated Dr. Laura's comments.

Walkie-talkies. Their inherent joy is entirely lost on a generation of cell phone users that are in on a family package that includes their own data plan and smart phone beginning at age 7. "But we want to know where our little Craig Bumblebutt is all the time, and this way I can reach him!" Nice. Hence the dead, lifeless stare when I explain "look Craig! Now you can go across the street into the neighbors' yard that has the pitbull and I can stay here in the living room and we can talk to each other! That's what these are for!"

Roller Blades. I'm not exactly sure where they went, when they disappeared, or how come they still aren't one of the most awesome ideas on the planet. They even work really well. Was it the seven minutes they took to put on or take off? Or was it the exponentially worse feet smell you assaulted the world with then they finally came off? Did too many people die in roller blades? Were they finally banned from being used in public by the United States government? We don't know. But they're gone. And the nineties hair styles are coming back without the footwear to accompany them, and it sucks.

Legos. While you may argue pointlessly that "they are still very popular" or that kids these days "DO PLAY WITH LEGOS" you are very, very wrong. While still very much present, they are only alive in spirit. Legos themselves are dead. The Lego sets you buy in the store are what I affectionately call the "Michael Eisner" version of the toy. The core pieces are still barely present, but the prices are more expensive somehow. Whole Star Wars sets of battleships and speeder bikes now come with a grand total of about...twelve pieces. There are so many different kinds of lego pieces now it's difficult to find blocks and squares i.e. "I need a six-long, I'll trade you for my four-long or a chair, which is really rare" is very much dead. Here's to you real Legos. Kids don't realize how much MORE fun it was back in the day. And if you don't know who Michael Eisner is, you're probably not agreeing with or understanding any part of this list.

Easy-Bake Ovens. The only thing easy about them was that they were easily the worst idea ever concieved. Complicated, dangerous, expensive and poorly marketed, these violations of all children's rights in America were around for a long time...AND YOU CAN STILL BUY THEM. Why. Why? WHY? They have made the top ten list because thankfully today's children don't know what they are, but please keep it that way. It's a good thing kids today missed out and continue to miss out on them.
Blisters on Your Left Thumb. Unless you somehow have preserved a Nintendo 64 for the last eight hundred years, it's very, very difficult to get a blister on your left thumb any other way than the hours of laughter and joy that the gameplay provided.  

Pogs. Because playing for keeps when you're not allowed to isn't as fun with anything else on earth


If any of the above you truly, truly miss, don't worry. They're not completely gone. Montana still thinks most of the above is so great and has caches and volumes upon volumes of everything that used to be awesome.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It's a beautiful day here in Colorado. Just exactly the kind of day that makes you wish you were outside hiking in the mountains with several close friends, admiring the view occasionally, but mostly watching where you step to make sure you don't trip on a squirrel or tourist. Colorado hosts a unique culture, one fraught with differences and smoothed over with a healthy layer of tolerance frosting.
Content to silently disagree with most of it's residents, the State will likely be a "swing state" for many years to come. It matters here what you think, it matters that you vote, and it matters if you think you don't need to stop at a stop sign. This isn't California, you can't get away with that very much here. Once, sure. Twice, probably. Three times, no surprise. But into the four's, five's and're tossing the dice in Vegas.
If you live in Colorado you know all about but don't actually go to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, therefore it's novelty is preserved. The gourmet, classy, creative and original candy shoppe is to tell family about and take them there when they visit. Along the way you can point out to them any one of our hundreds of Cannabis "Pharmacies", Colorado's "little grass shacks" that dot the landscape conveniently, springing up like...mushrooms after a rain. Hm...ironic.
Jean shorts will never go out of fashion, nor will khaki cargo shorts or pants with zips at the knees. They are no longer in style, but never did nor will go out of style, if you can wrap your mind around that concept. A paradox, yes, but it works. If you wear glasses you wear black, plastic rimmed ones, and you ride your bike to-and-from college with a book bag that you wear across your chest and to the side. The city of Castle Rock essentially doesn't exist unless you're traveling there that day, then when you get home it fades from memory again. Sitting uncomfortably in the middle, Denver in the North and Colorado Springs in the South do everything better than Castle Rock, and that's where mostly everyone lives.
We are passionate about our current events, but are open to most other opinions. We argue politics gently and listen well, smiling a lot. It doesn't necessarily mean you're right, but we're definitely not California. Or New York, for that matter. We want you to be able to afford to live here, so there is a house in your price range in an area you prefer. Every time. Every band comes to our state so New Mexico, Phoenix, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Nevada don't have to host as often. Nebraska can and does host all their own bands though. If you don't or haven't lived in Colorado you have either very close family friends or relatives that live here. Currently. We love our Broncos, but just as many people turn out to support the Red Sox as they do the Rockies when we play each other here at home. If you like another football team and live in Colorado, that's fine. You still have to love John Elway though, that's non-negotiable.
If you have a college degree but aren't using it or don't know what to do with it, come to Colorado. Our Starbucks will hire you, as will our Home Depot, mega churches, hotels and grocery stores. You can live with the other students from your school you know that live here and have a house together, and if you like you can go back to school pretty easily. During the summer it rains, during the fall it freezes over, during the spring it gets chilly and during the winter, summer peeks through randomly to keep that bicycle close to your front door. Our October 31st through early April is when it snows, and our weather is kindly tempered by warm days, our snow leaves just as quickly as it came, not turning to poop colored debris for more than a week at the longest. We're not New York.
Come any day of the year close to or far from election time and you'll still be offered a petition by equaling numbers of left and right "ists." Sign which ever one you want, but don't scream at them. Don't worry about a drive-by shooting. We don't say "hella" here. Our traffic doesn't really ever stop, although it does slow often. We get angry and flip birds but don't carry shotguns under our seats. We have hundreds of parks, overall good customer service and almost no lakes. Our desert is far away, which is how we prefer it, and the smog is kept to a minimum. We have no ocean, we have mountains. Get a jeep instead of a boat, they're cheaper.
We'll give you directions to where you need to go and Colorado people love the outdoors.
We're not California.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

To my younger sister.

Dear Sister,

So you've decided to pursue a career in the medical career. I chose the word "career" for several reasons. First of all, the word "job" implies that you simply do that position to earn an income to support yourself and/or a family. The word "career" suggests much more commitment often involving much more schooling or education to achieve your goals, and generally tends to mean you aren't setting yourself up to get to a specific position. A "job" tends to have a set definition, whereas a "career" means more of a field of experience and expertise you will work in. As a PA, when someone asks you someday what that means you do, you'll smile and more than likely start listing various services you provide. Not because that's all you do. Far from it. You will say that because its easiest to understand, and it will encourage the other person to decide whether or not they want to converse further or just leave it at that. In fact ironically, as a PA your job will be pretty much the opposite as you explain to people, but culturally its the most appropriate response to a question so simply put and direct as you will so often get. I say its the opposite because you are simply saying you do those things to help them understand those are the tasks you most often complete, but that is not what a PA a does. As I'm sure you've seen with Mr. Tery, being a PA changes. Often. It is not a safe or secure job. Tery does not wake up prepared for the events that will occur and the patients he'll see each day, he instead wakes up mentally prepared to use the education, experiences and past knowledge he's received from training and reading to deal with whatever situations or patients he sees. There is no preparation, whether in a clinic or hospital. There is preparation for procedures, education preparation for your patients and what they can possibly expect, but not preparation for your day.
More often than not Dianne, your career as a PA will not be exciting. It is however, challenging. Instead of prepared, Mr. Tery is several very important things. He is comfortable, honest, educated, cautious, intuitive, sensitive, empathetic and wise.
Wise is last because it is acquired, not obtained. He had to work hard for years to become wise. Comfortable is first because as a PA his patients decide in the first three seconds of meeting him whether or not they are safe with him. In three seconds every person chooses to trust him or not, so he must be comfortable with them at all times, whether or not he is.
Next he is honest because after his patients have spent any amount of time with him, they know he is. Some PA's are more talented at this than others, use humor or identifying with their patients, but that bears no effect on whether or not they are honest. Comfortable or not, patients must know you're being honest. Tery has received not only the required education he needs, but so far beyond that it can't be measured. The varying degrees he has prove on paper he has completed the necessary classes and testing to be recognized for those positions, but they are only that. As he will earnestly tell you, he's "always learning." The hundreds of thousands of hours he has spent in surgery listening intently to the other nurses and surgeons, listening to conferences, attending classes, reading, looking at images, questioning his own conclusions and attentively listening to his patients cannot be measured. The best PA's in any setting are cautious. Not tentative, not reserved, not any similar word. They are cautious. Waiting in and of itself is only occasionally valuable. It is the protective and intentional aspects of waiting that carry the highest percentage of worth. Often time is inconsequential as a PA Dianne. It's inconsequential because you simply don't HAVE it. Time is working against you, you've got none left, or it is worsening your choices as the seconds pass. But caution, doing the most important things first, always keeping your patient's life, health, and comfort (in order) prioritized, doing what may mean hours of more work, dozens of pages of documentation or what is less than ideal, is what's needed. Your choices, wrong or right, will eventually one way or another disappear. If your patient lives they will always remember and wear your decisions, so doing what is best for them is what is most important.
Intuition follows after caution and always should. As a PA your choices should be affirmed by your intuition because you have the knowledge and experience to know instinctively what's right before you think about it, not the other way around. The knowledge and experience come first, before that they're just guesses that might or might not be right, and a patient should never trust that. Nor should you.
And Tery stands head and shoulders above each of those who wear his title in his field of expertise or peer group because he is empathetic. Not only are his patients almost always comfortable and trust him regardless of what he tells them, the procedures he performs, or how much pain they experience; with each one he chooses to leave his place of safety and identify with what they're going through, their insecurities and fears, and help hold them up. Dianne, empathizing is one of the most taxing, tiring and draining things a person can do. At the end of the day you alone have in a way gone through the same things they have. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. You come home and have to take all of it off, and learn how to process through each thing while lumping it all together. It sounds weird, but for PA's who choose to empathize with their patients, that's what they have to do.
So at this point I'm sure your head is spinning. It's a lot, I know! Some of this you'll learn in PA school. The majority of it you do naturally, which is one of the most exciting things about watching you move forward in this direction, and the last let's say...34% is why I wrote this letter to you. It's both the most difficult aspects of being a PA you'll ever experience and the part that makes Tery Hursch stand out as the best PA I've ever met. His ability to choose daily to serve others at cost to himself has come from a lifetime of tough decision-making. To figure out what it takes to invest your life into what you're passionate about while still keeping it your passion each morning will never be easy. Life, what you do itself, coworkers, the difficulties of education and learning...everything tears at your passion.
Family, a loving husband, friends...are nothing compared to what happens when you realize your passion means sometimes watching someone you took care of die. Or participating in an abortion to save a Mother's life. Or having to be the one to walk into a room and tell a shaking, trembling seventy year-old man that his cancer results when he's still so in love with the tear-stained little bent-over woman who clings to his arm. There is no need to keep going because the experiences others have had do not define you. You and how you decide to handle your experiences define you. You can learn about all the drugs in the world and what they do, but until you meet your first patient who has used cocaine the entire time their husband was deployed overseas, it won't mean anything.
This is where I have several really, really important thing I want you to think about Dianne. Who do you want to come home to if you drive home crying? There are an unlimited number of nice men in this world, but to find a man who knows how to listen to your body language, set himself and all others aside to come alongside you every time, and a man who chooses to love you in a way that only loving God passionately could create, that is a man worth Dianne. One I might not kill. Is he willing to admit he was wrong? Be attentive to your needs and try to learn when you need space, how to handle when you yell in frustration or don't want to go to bed because tomorrow will be so tough? Those are things that will affect your effectiveness. Life is a challenge.
What about this whole passions thing? What really is a passion? I could look it up, but instead how about you figure out what your passion means. What it means to be passionate about people who don't want you to tell them what you have to. What being passionate means when you have to take a class you're terrified you can't pass. What your passion means when it hurts your family because you can't be with them. What your passion means when you watch a newborn baby take its first lungful of air on this planet. What your passion means when someone brings their beautiful three year-old son back to say a shy thank you, and there's tears in his Mother's eyes. What your passion means when you watch a person walk out with both limbs when you thought they'd never walk again.
No matter what you figure out, what you see, what you learn about your passion Dianne, some things will never change.
The light in your eyes when you get to serve someone is literally a picture of Jesus' face to those of us watching. The special gift you have of being sensitive to who you're helping is something God gave you to bring glory to Him. The sweet spirit you choose to have infects other people's lives in a way that makes MRSA jealous. The potential you have to brighten a room with your beautiful, sincere smile is unlike anything most people have ever seen. And your heart--passionate, fragile and delicate--is made strong through the unlimited, matchless love of Jesus alone.

Don't ever, ever stop fighting to be who God has called you Dianne. Find people who will encourage you to be more like Jesus. Choose every single day who you want to be. And if your oldest brother ever has kids, pay their way through college.
Proverbs 31:29-31
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Love you Dianne.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

A Spectator

This afternoon I finished my last summer session final, stepped outside, put in my headphones and walked to the light rail. I ended up taking a phone call and couldn't hear very well with all the stop announcements, so I just hopped off at 16th Street downtown and figured I'd walk to 18th and catch the next one there.
It was gorgeous, the perfect day for that. My middle sister's infectious cheery and bright voice melted the recent all-nighter and load of information over the past few days off into the limitless blue sky, and when she said goodbye, hanging up, my phone gently switched to resuming the music I was listening to earlier.
When I walked up to the station at 18th, I glanced around, surprised that most people around me were dressed in suits and ties or formal clothing of some kind. Then I remembered. t
I was in the really expensive part of the district where the buildings weren't just tall, they were new, and where the government court houses had decided to park permanently their broad-shouldered masses covering entire blocks. I smiled politely at the twelve or so people standing around waiting for the F to take them away from downtown, away from work, and home to their beautiful houses.
I ride the D. No one in a suit rides the D line light rail.
As I stood listening to the lead singer croon in my ear lyrics he'd written that doubtlessly meant the world to him, I watched as the city passed by in front of me. Then the city approached me.
"Excuse me" he said quietly, and pushed past me, opening the lid of the trash can I was leaning lightly on absentmindedly. He was in his early thirties and heavily tattooed, although most of them were indistinguishable they were so faded. Filthy blond hair that grew unkempt and ragged mirrored the condition of his clothes, but none of them hid or detracted from the brightness of his piercing, hard blue eyes. Entirely focused and intent on retrieving something salvagable for a meal, he completely ignored the disgust and embarassed faces of the middle-class group standing around him, watching. Just watching.
I will never forget what I saw in them.
It was enraging, I was furious. The moment I became angry at them I realized I was as guilty as they. Quietly I put down my stone that in my mind I was ready to hurl at every one of them. The man who fought for every meal and didn't ask a group of people with a lot of money for a single thing continued to lift pizza boxes, foam containers, plastic bags and empty soda cans out of the way to see if anything might be palatable.
The music in my ears slowly faded away as my mind roared, and before I knew it I was getting off at 25th and Welton. What good were a few poptarts? He'd inherited what I happened to not have eaten for breakfast. If I had gotten hungry this morning, he would've gotten nothing.
I would have been like every one of them, just standing, watching. Would I have put my hand on his shoulder as I walked onto the light rail if I hadn't just given him something? I don't know.
I wasn't wearing a suit and don't ride the F line home, but are we really that different?
There will always be the poor...but God I don't want to be someone who just stands there and watches such blatant hunger.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Convenient, affordable shopping

It’s Friday afternoon. There are about a dozen people coming over to your home for your child’s birthday party. You have most of the things you need, but you’re out of paper plates, plastic cups, you could use a few more sodas and you’d like to pick up one more little something for your son. He’s turning three today, and he’s just now taking on that “little man” side, on his way out the door from his little toddler world whether he knows it or not. Your other two daughters are nine and seven, and are full of personality, lots of their Mother’s side, and argue about sharing a room and play together in decidedly equal portions.
The Costco you usually shop at is about thirty minutes away, and they usually only offer one or two items of any given kind that you might be looking for, and if you find it, inevitably it will be in packages the come by the dozens. By far the best option is a “Super Walmart” that is just about two miles from your home. You hop in your vehicle and drive the short distance in several minutes, park, and go inside. You find your plates, cups, and pick out a brightly colorful Nerf football for your son. It’s time. He needs to start learning to throw.

On your way to go pay, you carefully avoid the black-walled, cordoned off section of the store titled “Adult Services.” You have read that in this area of the store are advertisements, pictures, and contact information for hiring an “escort” service that ranges from $50 for a half hour, to $450 for an hour.  Any gender, race, age or size is available to choose from. The supermarket is able to offer you much cheaper prices on your plates, cups and Nerf ball, due to offering the “thinly disguised advertising for prostitutes” in their “Adult Services” section which brings in a sum total of 30% of their profit annually (1).

When you get home you will find out that the police are attempting to crack down on the amount of child prostitution that occurs in the black walls, but it’s difficult as their ability to filter what happens behind them is limited. The store’s stance is seemingly firm. They require anyone using the “Adult Services” section to immediately report suspicious advertising inside to a national tip-line run by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They have also released statements explaining that they filter out and manually screen any “Adult Services” ads and will reject any that make it “look and sound” as if you’re selling sex (2). But this is not the case. You have also read commentaries, blogs, and critics reviews saying that it is simply not true, and they’re right.
Today, in your town, where you live, are posted pictures of barely clothed women with only their faces obscured, and the words advertising their services state
“I still have my CHEERLEADER outfit - w4m” The end of her ad clearly states “no freebies!” meaning you will have to pay to enjoy the benefits of her and her outfit.
“UNBELIEVABLE time, UNBELIEVABLE beauty -w4m” Her ad clearly states that she costs $150 per hour, or $110 for a half-hour. (3)

“For 2010, its ‘adult services’ revenue will be three times the revenue it generated in that category in 2009.” is in the statement released by the Classified Intelligence Report on April 30th, 2010. Your plates, cups, Dr. Pepper and Nerf football in the back seat of your mini-van that gets 26 miles per gallon, you head home. You’re a Christian with an accountability partner, someone you’re completely honest with that helps encourage you in your walk with Christ and keep you faithful to your wife, two beautiful daughters, and son. You didn’t go into that section of the store, you didn’t look at any of their advertisements. You love your family and wouldn’t do that to them. But it’s definitely the best place to find the groceries and basic family life-upkeep items you’re looking for quickly and cheaply. Besides, with that small, black section of the store indiscreetly pushed to the back and all the way on the left side, there’s no way you could “accidentally” go in there, so you’re not worried about it.

In my town, from July 27th to August 3rd--a period of seven days--there were 456 ads posted in that section of my store. Often called the online “Supermarket” of sex, during the forty-five minutes it took me to write this article Craigslist posted two more ads in their Adult Services “w4m” section, advertising unquestionably, two women who were once in their life two daughters, nine and seven. Tonight men who once turned three and learned how to throw a football will call, text, email or visit them. 
Never forget that behind each link on Craigslist that says "Adult", whether or not you click on it, are hundreds of advertisements for used PEOPLE behind them. A network in every city across America.

3. Denver Craigslist 3 August 2010, 4:39pm