Blog Stew 9/27/2012

Hmm…Blog Stew…I think I’ll make that a new category for my random thought posts. Sounds tasty! Blog stew is great for those days when I don’t have the idea, time, or motivation to write a long, thoughtful post on a specific topic. Those do take a lot of work, and no matter the topic, it’s sure to only interest some of you. It’s much easier to throw a bunch of different things together in the old Crock Pot and let it simmer. I hope you will find a few interesting morsels.

  • Don’t get too excited yet since we haven’t played any big-time schools, but so far the nation’s top college quarterback in total offense per game attends a little school in Waco, Texas. Sic ’em, Nick Florence!
  • Today will be my final long run (13.1 miles) before the 25k in Tyler on October 13. This will only be the second time in my life I’ve ever attempted this distance, the other being the Cowtown half marathon back in February. But my legs feel great, and I’m excited to get out there this afternoon. Next week I’ll taper, or cut back on mileage to rest up for the race.
  • You Obama-haters can rejoice…briefly. I’m strongly leaning toward going Green with Dr. Jill Stein. I like many things about Obama and will be happy if he wins in November, but he’s also done some things I don’t like and broken some important promises (not closing Guantanamo Bay, not punishing the business execs who nearly destroyed our economy, keeping troops in Afghanistan when victory is impossible, etc.). I don’t agree with Stein on everything, but she and the Green Party seem to have the platform that the Democrats don’t have the guts to pursue, largely because the Greens don’t have corporate sponsors. Unfortunately, that also means they have very little chance of winning anything, much less the Presidency. Romney will carry Texas regardless of how I vote, and Obama will probably get reelected regardless of how I vote, so maybe I’ll just use my ballot to dream big.
  • The pilot-management standoff at American is interesting but sad to watch. I read a comment from one AA pilot that the slowdown isn’t exactly an organized, concerted effort to destroy the operation. It’s more a matter of being extra careful to protect their jobs. Until the judge tossed out their contract a couple of weeks ago, that contract backed them up in the event of an small deviation from the hundreds of company procedures they have to follow when flying the plane. The company can now fire them at will for any mistake they make. I’d be a little more careful, too. Is the pilot’s statement true? I’m not sure, but it made some sense to me. However, with so much anger over there, I’m sure that some of them don’t mind making their employer look bad. I hope both sides can work out a deal soon. And I’m still very grateful to work where I work.
  • You know my son Brenden doesn’t feel well when you have to drag him out of bed in the morning. He is definitely a morning person.
  • Jenny has been accepted at UTA and will start classes there in January. She did awesome on her nursing school entrance test as expected. The only question now is when she’ll be able to take her remaining UTA-specific nursing prerequisites. She meets with a nursing advisor next week who should be able to help.
  • I know it was unnecessary and expensive and irresponsible and all that, but my iPad is awesome. I use it more than my phone or laptop. Blogging on it is a bit more difficult compared to a laptop or desktop since it doesn’t have a separate keyboard or mouse, but it’s easier to carry around than the laptop and has a 4G Internet connection.

Thank you, come again.

Brenden’s Spring Programs – Then and Now

This week was Brenden’s spring program at school, his second big performance so far in his young career. His school, Colleyville Christian School. is full of wonderful teachers and students who worked really hard and put together a great show as expected. Brenden’s class performed “Behold, Behold” and “Awesome God”. We are so thankful that all four of his grandparents and two of his great-grandparents got to attend. We took up most of a row.

Before it began, his teacher gave us his “Me Book”, a compilation of projects, pictures, and other memories of Brenden from throughout the school year plus a really sweet, personalized note from his lead teacher. I wish I could post it here somehow, as it’s a wonderful book that we’ll keep for years to come. I can only imagine how much work it took for his teachers to assemble these books for every student in the class.

Naturally, I had to record his performance. Sorry about the shaky camera work. I’m not the most experienced video guy, but at least I work for cheap!

Spring Program 2012 (Age 3.75)

Spring Program 2011 (Age 2.75)

For comparison, here is Brenden’s performance from last year. Note how much more coordinated and attentive Brenden is now compared to a year ago.

2012 Pictures

Here are a few other pictures of Brenden with his family from this year’s program.

Next spring, both boys will be old enough to participate in the program. They didn’t want to attempt a performance with Jonathan’s one-year-olds class. 🙂

Random Facts About Me for May 2012

It’s been a while, so here are ten more random facts about me:

  1. I’m glad I went to Baylor (sic ’em!). There are many reasons I chose Baylor. One of the primary ones was its Christian atmosphere. My other top choice was Rice, a small liberal arts college with a secular and quirky culture. At the time I was deciding on schools, I debated (among other things) whether I wanted to be surrounded by Christians who I assumed would support my faith or surrounded by mostly nonChristian students and professors who would challenge my faith. It never occurred to me that Baylor would challenge my faith like it did or that Rice actually had quite a few Christians. I wonder what, if anything, would have been different if I’d spent those four years in Houston. Would my faith have emerged stronger or weaker? Would I have dated my high school girlfriend across hundreds of miles during college or broken up with her? Would I have chosen the same career path and gotten the job that I did?
  2. I love football, both college and pro, but I feel a bit guilty for supporting it due to the growing pile of evidence about football-related head injuries. As a fan, I’m part of the problem. However, with growing awareness comes growing support for changes to the game to make it safer for the players, so I have a bit of hope.
  3. Although as an Irving native, I’ve always supported the Dallas Cowboys, I will support the Redskins as long as RG3 is their quarterback. Yes, even head-to-head.
  4. I’ve tried a few burrito joints. I rank them thus: 1) Chipotle 2) Planet Burrito 3) Freebirds
  5. I still miss singing in a choir. I’m not a great soloist, but I seemed to do OK singing with lots of other people. Once the boys get older, I might look into rejoining a local community choir. Perhaps my old choir (The Irving Chorale) or my friend Randie’s choir (Schola Cantorum) might give me a break if they’re hard-up for baritone types. For singing purposes, my favorite styles are classical and gospel. Some musicals are great as well, such as Les Mis or Phantom. Just don’t make me try to dance and sing simultaneously. Something’s gotta give.
  6. At work we’ve been negotiating a new contract for about 2 1/2 years now. We seem to be nearing the end of the process, and speculation abounds that we’ll get a nice raise from the deal. If so, I won’t have to work day or afternoon shifts for overtime anymore, just midnights when I want to make some extra cash. That will make both Mrs. Box and me very happy.
  7. The contract negotiating process has given me a new appreciation for labor unions in general. There are always at least two sides to any discussion, and neither one is always right. Sometimes unions make bad choices. Sometimes management makes bad choices. Sometimes they work together and find a viable compromise.
  8. I am very proud of my wife. While she has her bachelor’s degree and could simply stay home with the kids until they are grown, she decided to go back to school to become a nurse. Just completing the nursing pre-reqs has taken a lot of work, but she’s cranking them out and maintaining a 4.0 while raising two active boys. After Monday, she’ll only have one more class to go (microbiology this fall) before she applies for nursing school for next fall.
  9. I get mad (internally, of course!) whenever I see a dog running around off-leash in my neighborhood or at a park. Two reasons: 1) I don’t know or trust the dog, and if he decides to attack me or my kids, the owner has no way to stop him. 2) Most cities around here have a leash law, and the owner is ignoring it.
  10. My all-time favorite musician is probably Sarah McLachlan. Jenny got me tickets to see her at AAC a few years back, and she put on a fantastic show. If she ever comes back to Dallas, I’ll probably go again.


Anderson, I want you to take a long, hard look at this cup of coffee. Now, I LOVE my coffee. It’s probably the only thing I cherish on this God-forsaken mud ball called Earth! What I’m trying to say, Anderson, is that most examiners rely on this clipboard. I don’t believe in that $%!*. What I do believe is in my cup of coffee. – License to Drive

My first cup of coffee occurred at age 17. While on a date with a girl from my church, she suggested we grab some coffee at the Barnes and Noble coffee shop. It sounded good to me, although coffee had always seemed like something adults did, so I didn’t really know how it worked or what to get. She suggested I get a mocha – nice and safe, chocolate with minimal coffee bitterness. And whipped cream on top, of course. Quite tasty. However, it was a bit humbling to realize that my 15-year-old, 100 lb date was more sophisticated than I was.

The idea of drinking coffee for the caffeine didn’t take hold until my freshman year at Baylor. My girlfriend at the time went to TCU, which meant I drove home every weekend and spent as much time with her and my family as possible before I drove back Sunday night. My parents wisely tried to convince me that driving back to school late at night wasn’t the smartest idea. But I can be a bit…stubborn at times. My solution? Coffee. Usually I stopped at some gas station and got a big cup of sugar-laden vanilla cappuccino. My 33-year-old pancreas would have hated me, but my 18-year-old pancreas manned up and handled it. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my body isn’t very sensitive to caffeine. Occasionally at Baylor, I would buy the same sugar-laden vanilla cappuccinos at the local gas station on nights that I needed to stay up and study, even though it never made much of a difference.

By sophomore year, coffee became a more important and frequent companion in my dorm room. I was taking a full load of classes with lots of reading and also working at an after-school care program 15-20 hours a week. The time had come to step up my coffee experience. I got my own coffee pot – small and cheap, maybe a 4-cup Hamilton Beech or similar. I knew nothing about brewing coffee except that my dad was always obsessed with using filtered water in his coffee instead of tap. I had no discerning palate and no filtered water, so I brewed up Folgers or Maxwell House with water straight from the bathroom faucet. Since my goal was to force my eyes open and my brain awake while I read Coriolanus or King Lear at midnight, I brewed a full pot and made it extra strong. To make it palatable, I added tons of sugar and creamer. Even they couldn’t make it pleasant.

That was a rough year.

Somehow, though, it felt noble to be a struggling college student alone with great works of literature and a pot of nasty coffee, as if I’d joined a grand fraternity of hallowed martyrs of liberal arts. And then that rat bastard prof gave me a B in World Cultures III for my troubles. But I digress…

At some point, I learned that when properly brewed from quality ingredients, coffee could actually be quite delicious even without 500 grams of sugar dissolved within. If I had to guess, I’d give my grandfather the credit. He has the magic touch. Thanks to him, I discovered the heavenly combination of coffee and birthday cake. And the pleasure of a mid-afternoon cup of coffee with a snack. And even – gasp – coffee with breakfast like normal people enjoy. Thank you, Granddaddy, for opening my eyes to the truth.

So now I’m an adult (sort of). I brew my own coffee in a stainless steel Cuisinart 12-cup using filtered water and organic, fair-trade Honduran coffee with a mild roast. It’s so good that I usually drink it black with breakfast every afternoon (I work nights). My friends James and Alexis know about good coffee, too. At family gatherings, I know to ask which pot my sister made because she knows how to brew it right. Am I a coffee snob yet? Depends on your definition. I buy my coffee at Target and drink the commercial-brewer Folgers at work with a bit of doctoring, so I’m not a total snob. But I’ve brewed Jamaican Blue Mountain (love it, but not worth 3x the price) and occasionally buy my coffee at Central Market, so I guess you could say my standards have risen a bit since the ignorance of my college days. And THAT’S A GOOD THING, believe me.

So I salute you, noble coffee bean, and all my fellow coffee drinkers. May your coffee always be hot, your grounds fresh, and your cup reusable. Cheers!

Jonathan Starts School

Better late than never! As promised, I finally posted some pictures from Jonathan’s first day of school (Jan 3). He’s in the one-year-olds class with Miss Rose and seems to be having a great time. He eats so well that he finished his lunch during snacktime, so Miss Rose asked Jenny to pack him more. He’s on the other side of the school from Brenden, but they do see each other sometimes during the day. They started Jonathan off on a shortened schedule (9-11am) for the first few days so he could adjust, but he’s doing fine now and stays in school from 9-2:30p just like Brenden. Jenny is enjoying the time off, and we both are very glad the boys are doing so well and enjoying it so much.

Pics from Jonathan’s First Day

All I Want for Christmas is a Heisman

Brenden doing the Heisman

My first two years at Baylor, I think we went 1-18-1. We were one of the worst football teams in all of Division I football. The term “cellar-dweller” popped up frequently in any article about us. Things just didn’t work no matter what we did or how hard we tried. To illustrate how painful it was, in one of the few games I attended as a student, we were barely ahead at the end of the game against UNLV. We had the ball on their 5-yard-line or so with a few seconds left. To win, all we had to do was take a knee. But the students, players, and coaching staff were so unbelievably excited that we were about to actually win a game that the coach chose to try for one last touchdown. You can guess what happened.



Recovery by UNLV.

The longest, most heartbreaking, most shock-inducing runback for a game-winning touchdown in the history of college football.

I stood there with my mouth hanging open, surrounded by silence, unable to move, lump in my throat, unsure whether my heart was still beating. Our hope lay on the field like a popped green balloon.

Last season things improved significantly compared to those dark days ten years ago. At the beginning of this season, Baylor University started a Heisman campaign for its quarterback, a talented dual-threat player named Robert Griffin III (RG3 for short). I was already an RG3 fan from last season and had high hopes for this one, but the campaign seemed like a longshot. Yes, he could run. And throw. And think. And lead. And make you regret taking that break to grab a drink or hit the bathroom during his latest highlight-reel play. And he just seemed like a good guy – humble, team-oriented, very loyal to Baylor, smart enough to graduate in three years and enroll in grad school to maintain his eligibility, funny, articulate.

However, Heisman Trophy winners play for teams in BCS bowl games like Alabama and Texas. They don’t play for little old Baylor, the team that was thrilled last season to be bowl-eligible for the first time in the Big 12. But I Liked the Facebook page for his Heisman campaign anyway and followed the season. Jenny and I got to attend two games, the TCU game in Waco and the Texas Tech game in Arlington. Except for two blowout losses and a one-point loss in October, we won every game we played, a total of nine. We beat Texas for the second year in a row. We beat Tech for the first time. We beat mighty Oklahoma for the first time. And along the way, RG3 put up Heisman-quality numbers that finally got people to pay attention to little old Baylor, which had finally grown into a dangerous – and fun to watch – football team. We have a date with the Alamo Bowl as the favorite against Washington. Last Saturday night, RG3 won Baylor’s first Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding college football player in the country.


Commemorative Heisman Bear Shirt

Baylor Nation has been going crazy all season, especially this week in the wake of RG3’s achievement. The administration is working on plans for a much-needed, on-campus football stadium at the northeast corner of I-35 and the Brazos River. In addition to our football success, our women’s basketball team is #1 in the country, and the men are top 10 as well. I know athletics is a collection of games, not the true point of college, blah blah blah. I know our society makes a bigger deal of sports and athletes than they deserve. I know all that.

But man, it feels good to win.