From a first time blogger, thoughts about life from an American missionary now living in the US after years in Russia and doing a lot of back and forth. Family stuff, Christian content, sports innuendo and lots of quotes from good books.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Russia is (unfortunately) catching on

Didn't this happen in the U.S. a few years back?  I think the bill in the U.S. was $2 million though.  Still...

Coffee Burn Woman Seeks Compensation from McDonalds

A Moscow woman is seeking 120,000 rubles (over $4000) in compensation from the McDonalds corporation after burning herself with a hot beverage she had bought in a McDonalds restaurants, the Gazeta daily reported on Friday...The woman claims that she had to spend 3 weeks on sick leave after the incident.

After she got better, she forwarded a claim to the McDonalds Closed Joint-Stock Company (the Russian branch of the fast food corporation) demanding compensation for the damages to her health and 60,000 rubles (over $2000) in moral damages.

However, McDonalds say they do not agree with the claim. “In the middle of the paper cup for hot beverages there is a warning statement in Russian, reading ’Careful, hot!’ in blue font and with a picture of the cup,” reads the company’s official reply. Thus, McDonalds fulfills the demands of the Russian Law on Consumers, it reads.To this, Kuznetsova’s lawyer says that the incident was caused by the tight door spring of which the customer had not been properly warned. A court will consider the lawsuit in the nearest future, the newspaper writes.

Russia is catching on to the ways of the West.  Where do the lines of responsibility and rights intersect exactly?

Dems and A "New" Language

Just watched John Kerry's acceptance speech.  I heard Bible, faith and God mentioned by a party that I don't normally associate with those things.  Better yet, I heard an enthusiastic response from the delegates when those things were said.  Sure some of it is an effort to reach marginalized Republicans but still it was said at a National Democratic Convention.  That was refreshing.

Less and less, I put faith in our political system though I believe it to be the best one out there.  While not apolitical, I just don't think the Kingdom of God will advance that way.  Through power?  Yes.   Through politics?  No.

Living in Russia and knowing just a little of the people's history and make up here makes me realize that we can never expect the government to lead us where only God can.  Waiting for the government to come around to God's desires is a long wait indeed, not only here in Russia, but in America and every other land as well.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Good, Hard, Uncomfortable, Necessary Read

Just finished The Heavenly Man (how do I underline that in this blogging world?) about Chinese Brother Yun's life and ministry in China.  Wow.  Not a comfortable book to read.  Western affluency will always hinder our truly sympathizing with Christians in China.  One paragraph sums it up best:

"In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state.  They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up and walk in Jesus' name.  In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there is nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord."

We should not feel guilty in the West for our abundance.  We should though see it as a responsibility more than a right. 

I'm always ready to speak of a book worth reading.  Add this one to your list.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Back in the Saddle!

Having computer problems.  Locked out of my own blog.  Frustrations reveal shallowness. 

Lance won!  Lance won!  Lance won!  Boy did he.

Check out Mike Cope's blog at  He's a writer.  I'm a mumbler.

The thing (at this moment anyway) I'll miss most about Russia one day:  $1.20 speeding tickets (not that I speed...)


Thursday, July 22, 2004

More Lance...

It is a nightly routine now for me to watch the final hour or two of the Tour de France.  I just can't ignore Lance Armstrong and his clear domination of this race.  Not living the U.S. right now, I don't know if it is shown on TV there or not.  If not, shame!  It is the most riveting sports I've seen since Jordan's run in the 90's. 

The Tour ends on Sunday in Paris.  He'll coast the last km with a glass of champagne in hand.  He's that far ahead.

My Schwinn calls...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

To Pet or Not To Pet?

From Dave Berry:

"I was excited about having a pet, and I'd give the turtle a fun pet name like Scooter. But my excitement was not shared by Scooter, who, despite residing in a tropical paradise, never did anything except mope around. Actually, he didn't even mope "around." He moped in one place for days on end, displaying basically the same vital signs as an ashtray. Eventually I would realize - it wasn't easy to tell - that Scooter had passed on to that Big Pond in the Sky, and I'd bury him in the garden, where he'd decompose and become food for the zucchini, which in turn would be eaten by my dad, who would in turn go to New York City, where, compelled by powerful instincts that even he did not understand, he would buy me another moping death turtle. And so the cycle of life would repeat." 

With Mr. Berry, it was a turtle.  With me it was a guinea pig.  Shockey was the name.  Brought home on Tuesday in a wave of enthusiasm, taken home on Friday in a sea of anguish.  His death was Circle of Life 101 for me. 

As with what they can learn from sports, I now think about my kids and the responsibility of having a pet.  I know who'll walk it, feed it, wash it and train it.  Believe me, I know!  I also know who will love it, play with it, identify with it, draw pictures of it, call it their best friend and learn much from it. 
Should I go big time with a dog and secure the All Time Greatest Dad Award or cop out and introduce them to "Fuzzy - The Low Maintenance Chia Pet".  Tough call.
As my father and grandmother deal with life ending illnesses, I am thankful for lessons learned with Shockey...and Windy...and Sooner...Snoopy...Butterscotch...Lady.  They taught me much about beginnings, middles and endings.  In some way, I think I am even better equipped to walk the difficult paths ahead with my family as a result of the lessons I learned with my pets. 
So, to pet or not to pet?  Hmmm...
I suppose - start slow (Chia Pet/Goldfish/Turtle/Pet Rock), build up (Dog, Rabbit, Guinea Pig.....notice there has not been and will never be mentioned here a cat)  but don't deprive kids of having a pet and learning that death is indeed part of life.


I just read, in one sitting, John Grisham's recanting of a high school football team's coming together over the impending death of their coach.  All the memories, good and bad, came to the surface as they reminiced about what it meant to belong to that school, that community and that tradition.

Though I pray death for none of my former coaches, that book could easily have been written about me as a GACS Spartan or Lipscomb University Bison.  So much of who I am today was forged on the basketball courts of Atlanta, GA, and Nashville, TN.  The best friends I have in the world are still the guys I ran, sweated, vomited, celebrated and lamented with for the many years I was a "real" basketball player on some very real basketball teams.

As a father now, I really don't know what the role of sports will be in my children's lives.  With a 5 year old and 2 year old son, and another unknown gender on the way, I have never coached them nor do I envision coaching them.  Doesn't mean I won't.  Just means I am not ordering my life around it.  If I don't, where will they learn to work together?  To win?  To lose?  To get up?  To fall down?  Those lessons can be learned of course void of team sports.  Many a band member, dancer, martial arts practioner and Cub Scout have learned the same lessons I learned dribbling, passing and shooting a basketball.  It does not have to be through sport that boys become men.  It's just that in my family, it was that way with me and my brother.

I'm not worried about it really.  I don't plan to lose any sleep over it now or later.  It will just be interesting to see what ties my children together with their friends long after their days of school or college are over with.  If not sport, then what? 

Honestly, I can't wait to find out...

Monday, July 19, 2004

Bad Writing But Good Laugh

Enjoy this and be sure that my blog will surely offer an entry one day:
SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- A California man claimed top honors Monday at the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest celebrating bad writing, likening the end of a love affair to "Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail."

Dave Zobel, 42, a Manhattan Beach software development director and author of "Dave Zobel's Bent Book of Boatspeak: How to Sound Like a Sailor and Know Just Enough to Be Dangerous," bested thousands of metaphor-mangling, simile-slaying writers from Hong Kong to Bolivia with this submission:

"She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight ... summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail ... though the term 'love affair' now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism ... not unlike 'sand vein,' which is after all an intestine, not a vein ... and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand ... and that brought her back to Ramon."

The competition pays mocking homage to the Victorian author whose 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" opened with this all-too-familiar phrase: "It was a dark and stormy night."
"I never won and wasn't expecting to this year, but to be honest I'm a little jealous of people who won dishonorable mentions because that title would look better on the resume," the father of two told The Associated Press. He won $250.

Runner-up was Pamela Patchet Hamilton, of Beaconsfield, Quebec, who described her style as "Dave Barry with a feminist twist." Patchet, who has written humor essays for The (Montreal) Gazette and other newspapers, impressed judges with this putrid passage:

"The notion that they would no longer be a couple dashed Helen's hopes and scrambled her thoughts not unlike the time her sleeve caught the edge of the open egg carton and the contents hit the floor like fragile things hitting cold tiles, more pitiable because they were the expensive organic brown eggs from free-range chickens, and one of them clearly had double yolks entwined in one sac just the way Helen and Richard used to be," she wrote.

Scott Rice, the San Jose State University professor who started the contest in 1982, said this year's entries were unusually witty. "Sometimes the entrants are more clever than the judges," he said. "Those people generally lose."

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Lance, the Brits and My Failed Nap

Watching sports is the default setting for my Saturdays whether in Russia or the U.S. or somewhere in between.  Falling asleep while watching sports on Saturdays is as good as it gets in my book.  Most Saturdays here in Russia, I get to enjoy Curling from Norway or the Strong Man Competition from Malaysia.  A nap is always just around the bend.  A special opportunity was mine yesterday though as EuroSport carried the Tour de France live (all 6+ hours of it) and NTV Plus Online had the British Open live as well.  With my pillow on the floor, remote control in hand, the kids tucked away for their nap and the wife doing the same, I set out to channel switch and fall asleep hoping to wake up in a few hours in that elusive pool of drool. 
A funny thing happened on the way to REM sleep though.  Lance Armstrong's march up the mountains of southern France demanded I stay awake.  I could not stop watching him.  200+ kilometers, most all of it up hill, in a little over 6 hours.  What a freak he is.  Meanwhile, at Royal Troon, Phil Mickelson continues to plug away at the myth of his legend as a perennial runner-up.  Slowly, methodically, in his own way, he just kept negotiating that pasture they call a golf course in Scotland.  He's now 2 shots back with 18 to play and in perfect position to build on what has been his best year on tour so far.
Both those athletes, for all of their more than obvious differences, shamed me a bit in the same ways.  When tired, I fade.  When frustrated, I wane.  When left out, I stay out.  Paul used the language of sport so many times in his writings.  Press on, finish the race, do not grow weary and on and on.  As a former athlete, I understand that language.  As a (very) former athlete, I know what he meant.  I have no excuse.  Still...
By the way, hearing golf announced in Russian is bizarre.  Imagine trying to announce a sport that is played by less than 1 half of 1 percent of your country, that has no words in its own language for par, green, fairway, driver, eagle, bogey or bunker and that has never, ever had one of its countrymen play in much less win a major or even minor golf tournament outside of their own country.  At the half way point of the broadcast, the announcers just stopped talking for about an hour.  It's like they knew no one was listening anyway.  Now if we could just get Stuart Scott to do the same!

Saturday, July 17, 2004

For what?

I'm trying real hard to not blog just for the sake of blogging.  What I have scoffed at for a few years now has now become a large part of my surfing.  I'm actually learning something...having my faith challenged...deepening my walk with God and others.  Can't complain there.  I always say (and mostly mean) that I have never had an original thought so I promise to keep that run in tact.  I will gladly pass along whatever pearls I read/hear/remember from others though.  Though it all, may Jesus shine in me/us.

Funny that's spellcheck does not recognize "blog" as a word.  We're off to an iffy start...