Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Religion and Foreign Policy

Wow. Different topic this time!

I went to a lecture by Jack Miles, a Pulitzer Prize winning author of "God, A Biography". He was hosted by ASU's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at the Old Main building this afternoon. Several hundred people in attendance as he spoke about some of the situations we are in globally and how some of our foreign policy leaders have no insight to some of the basic religious differences that exist in countries where we are trying to have an influence; in particular, the lack of basic historical knowledge and lack of understanding differences within the Islamic community (why are Shites and Sunni different) was astounding.

The biggest takeaway that I had was related to how we counter the growing fundamentalist threat (Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Jewish) is through openness not confrontation.

The author espoused the theory that relationships between countries that support freedom of religion will be resistant to warefare brought about by Al Qaeda type organizations. My analogy to this is how our current United States National Security policy is economic security (see: and that strong economic relationships with free market economies define a network of connected nations that will be resistant to warfare amongst themselves.

Throughout this country and many others, organizations are springing up with the sole intent of providing openness and a forum for discussion about religion and conflict. We've proven that conflict only yields eye for an eye. Maybe we should try this light and openness thing ...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Matt and a 23 year old picture

I was just going through some photos and came across one that I love. Both our kids have great pictures and memories of when they were younger but this one is in our front hallway and I can't but get a chuckle out of it every time I walk by.

23 years ago this month Matt was nine months old. What a fun kid he has been since the day he was born!

This picture captures Matt's personality to a T. Persisent: he walked from his mom's side around the whole room holding onto furniture to get to his Uncle Mark taking the picture. Inquisitive: he loved to find out what was going on every where. Fun Loving: he always loved to have fun and would curl into a little ball when tickled.

Now he is a big guy, 6 foot four, and living on the East Coast making a living and going to school. We are so proud of him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

20K South Mountain Classic - Oct 15, 2006

A beautiful day for a run. Lots of fun last Sunday helping the Arizona Road Racers set up the race ... OK I only helped with the registration and then running.

My hamstrings were a little tight from over working them the prior week but they behaved long enough to let me finish. I had a time of 1:45 ... slower than I would have liked but it was a nice steady pace and was actually the longest competitive run I've done since the Springtime.

SACistan: A Crucible Of Swimming?

A thought that has recently piqued my interest is related to the masters swimming team that I have belonged to since the Spring of 2001. Not so much the swimming part of it ... the great friendships, and not even the social network we have developed, but more around how does a swim team come into existance ... and grow, evolve and thrive over 20+ years?

On one level, the long term survival of a swim team is about reproduction. Kind of like evolutionary biology, where organisms that survive long enough to reproduce create the next generation. Those that don't tend to fade away. So if the swim program keeps attracting new swimmers ... and they stay, the swim program can continuously regenerate itself, and evolve.

But I suppose where my real question is related to is the patterns of evolution of a swim team. There are many public and private pools in Phoenix capable of sustaining a swim team, but why do some pools have teams and some pools don't? And the pools that have swim teams ... why are some teams bigger, or more competitive, or more social than others? Why do some teams come into existance only to fade away after a few years? Why do some teams last for decades even after most of (or all) the original members have long since left?

And OK I got it ... you need a pool to have swim team, but ... there are evolutionary pattern theorists that talk about time and those that talk about space. Maybe their thoughts can be extended to swim teams ...

  • Time: Do swim teams form and evolve in a smooth and gradual manner over time or through a series of bursts of change interspersed with periods of stability?
  • Space: Are there conditions that exist at some pools that essentially become better crucibles for swim team formation and are more nuturing than others?

OK, that's enough. Too many questions. I'll write more when I talk with Steve Bo.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Julie is back in Spain

Julie was home for the week and just returned to her school in Spain. She is making what was a daunting trip on the first time in August seem routine. Fran and I brought her to the airport last night, she gave us an email update from London this morning, and then a safe arrival note when she arrived at her hosts home.

When she first told us she wanted to come home for a few days after six weeks of taking classes I was worried she would not want to go back. But she was really feeling bad, really homesick, missing her family and her boyfriend Tim. It was really great to see her though, she is so open to discussion, so interested in exploring thoughts and feelings. If that's what six weeks abroad will do I am all for it!

She is now recharged and knows that we love her so much and fully support her no matter what she chooses. OK, I'll be upset if she came home before the end of the semester, but really this is about experiences and decisions. And these are her experiences and her decisions. Like any of our decisions she will be proud of what she has done or if not she will use the decisions she makes as a learning experience.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Vote for Sparky Prelude

ASU Homecoming Weekend: Current students turn out and alumni return in droves for; parties, a big football game, and a fun parade.

I'm part of the Arizona state University Parents Association. A group of parents 6,000+ at last count who have chosen to identify themselves as a member of an association that has at it's mission core to do good things for the students, the teachers and administration, and the university. There are a few philanthropic things that we do during the course of the academic year but throughout the year have a little fun along the way. One of our more outgoing moments is around the time of "Homecoming Weekend" where current students turn out and alumni return to campus in droves. There are parties, a big football game, and a parade!

The fun part is that the Parents Association enters a float in the parade and a team of parents and student scholarship winners build the float and walk with it down the parade route. This year's parade theme is "Maroon and Gold, Catch the Spirit"! Our float is built along the theme of movie "Napolean Dynamite" where we will have parents and students dressed in character ... the only twist being that instead of the infamous "Vote for Pedro" expression from the movie we will be promoting our ASU mascot by wearing T-Shirts that say "Vote for Sparky". Hopefully, Sparky will be voted in as Homecoming King!

Anyway, today we did all the float preparations, and are now ready for next week and our parade down University Boulevard!

See our link for more info:

Monday, October 09, 2006

Julie is Home for the Week!

Well, we have mixed emotions, but in the end are overjoyed to see our daughter Julie. She is studying abroad this Fall semester and has been out of country for six weeks. We thought she would be gone until mid-December but she has a really bad case of "I miss my boyfriend". Not "I miss my parents" but alas we have to take what we can get I guess.

She will be home for a week (I checked, she has a return ticket) and then will stay with her host until her planned departure date 9 weeks from now. Having been overseas in multiple cities I realize how absolutely isolating the experience can be and I support her need to come home and 'touch base' so to speak. Coming from a background in the U.S. where choice, freedom and autonomy are rooted in her personal makeup to suddenly be living in a different part of the world must be quite a challenge. Not only is the language different but the different social obligations (e.g. living with a host family), sense of uprootedness, and not wanting to submit to local practices can create an overwhelming sense of lack of control. Scary, challenging, ... yes but this must be an incredible learning experience for her as well!


Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Night at Streets of New York

Another Friday night in Phoenix. Fran and I went to Streets of New York for dinner. There are so many restaurants to choose from around here ... sometimes it just seems hard to decide. We ended up going to SNY not because the service is good, but the food is inexpensive, there is no wait, and it is a nice relaxing time to be alone. No different tonight, we left the busy restaurants of Desert Ridge behind and spent a nice relaxing time at SNY.

Hey but who did we see ... Steve Pohle! What a nice surprise. Steve was out with his family and saw us sitting there and came over to say hi. Always a pleasure to see "6:12" aka Steve-Bo from my Scottsdale swim club.

Julie is home safe. She arrived this evening from Spain and is home for the week. Tim picked her up and will drive her to Flagstaff tomorrow to see a rugby match he is in with NAU.