Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Recipe for Taco Soup

This is my favorite "stew" to make during winter -- even more than chili. It has all the flavor of a taco in soup form. Enjoy!


• 1-lb. of Ground Beef
• 1 onion
• 2 cans "Ranch Style" Beans

That's an actual brand of beans. Look for it at the grocery store. I'm not sure what type of bean it is, but it's thicker and rounder than a kidney bean.

• 2 cans Diced Tomatoes
• 1 can Ro-Tel
• 1 small can Green Chillies
• 1 can Corn
• 1 can of Water

Just take the empty can of corn, fill it up with tap water, and pour it in

• 1 Package of Taco Seasoning
• 1 Package of Ranch Dressing Seasoning

Optional Toppings

• Grated Cheese
• Sour Cream
• Frito's Scoops Corn Chips


Cut up your onion & saute it while browning your ground beef. I usually add salt & pepper. Drain the browned ground beef & onion. Then add ground beef & onion to the other ingredients in a large stock pot. Cover & cook on medium heat for 30 minutes to an hour.

What you do next is up to you. As for me, I get a bowl of soup & plop a dollop of sour cream on top of the soup. Then I scoop my Frito's chips into the soup -- scooping a bit of sour cream into each chip scoop -- and I slowly eat and enjoy. Others prefer to plop their dollop & proceed to stir it into the soup itself. Still others prefer grated cheese as a topping, and to slurp it using a spoon like a normal person. Whatever way you choose, it's bound to be delicious.

Monday, February 16, 2009


This really has nothing to do with anything. Nothing really witty or profound here. Just an expression of how much I love playing a good game of spades. It is one of my natural highs.

I came to know the game my first year of college. I was a freshman at the University of Florida, my girlfriend had just broken up with me, and I was a lonely soldier. I had made some good friends in the campus ministry there, and thankfully they surrounded me with love. One of the ways they did this was with our Monday night hang-out time. About a half dozen of us had this ritual -- every Monday -- where we'd come together & first watch "Monday Night Raw." We were WWF wrestling fans. The Rock. Chris Jericho. We loved it. As soon as the show went off at 11 PM, we'd break out the cards, the goldfish crackers, and the store-brand Mountain Dew, and we'd play spades for hours. Sometimes to 3 or 4 in the morning. Those nights are some of my richest memories of college at UF.

(Also, however, they left me sleep-deprived. You could imagine how, when I transferred to Harding, I was excited to have a curfew. My first thought was, "They're giving me a bed time! Yes!")

I love everything about the game. You have a partner. Your chemistry with that partner is vital to your success. You bid your hand, but as a team you have to work with whatever is in your partner's hand also. Inevitably there will be moments in the game where you squirm trying to play to your partner's strength though inadequate in the sense that you can't know what is in your partner's hand.

I love the table smack talk. I love the laughing that it induces. I love spades.

I especially love playing when there is nil hand in the game. When I go nil, I love the excitement of trying to slough off high-valued face cards when you're not allowed to win a trick. I love the challenge of trying to cover a partner who goes nil, and protecting them from winning with those high-value face cards. But I especially love setting a nil hand. My friends in my UF days used to tease me because in my euphoria of setting someone else's nil they said my face would look like it was going into a little trance.

Last night up at the church building a few of us stayed late to play a couple games of spades. I had a blast. We may have to make this a more regular event. Because I love spades -- for me it is a natural high.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why do I like this commercial?

I think it's because it is narrative in nature. And the fact that the story itself is extraordinary.

For some reason it resonates with me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Don't Get Lent

I just don't get it. For forty days, believers attempt to do without something (that probably shouldn't be a part of their lives anyway) as a demonstration of their devotion to Christ in the season leading up to Easter Sunday.

Here's one explanation I found:

Several years ago I followed a fast through the forty days of Lent and found that it changed my view of Easter, and that it changed me. Fasting and meditating on my weaknesses helped me grasp the intense significance of the crucifixion, and gave me a deep and powerful longing for the resurrection, which then became joy on Easter Sunday. I was helped on this journey by materials from churches more Eastern and more traditional than my own.

I practiced Lent once. I gave up evening dinner. Everyone says that it's the most superfluous meal of the day, so I gave it up for Lent. And then I had a big BBQ bash on Easter Sunday evening where I invited friends over & we celebrated my freedom to eat evening dinner again. It felt like more of a dare to me, though. I was daring myself about whether or not I could go through with it. And I didn't meditate so much on my "weakness longing for resurrection liberation;" it was more about my ability to go without food at the time of day I most often ate my largest meal.

I think I've always kinda liked New Year's Resolutions better. You focus on your entire life, what's good & what's bad, and you make an attempt to improve yourself. And a year later you look back to see how far you've come. And you do it again & again, perpetually bearing fruit and becoming a better person.

Maybe there are some Lent practitioners who could enlighten me. It just doesn't resonate with me like making resolutions does. So perhaps someone could sell me on it...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Busyness...

An old HS buddy of mine has some good reflections on being in ministry & constantly being "busy." Ultimately, this line is a defense mechanism that has consequences we may not want if we think it through.

Take a moment and invest some time in these brief reflections:

The Myth of Busyness (Part 1)
The Myth of Busyness (Part 2)

Monday, February 09, 2009

'Who do you think I am? Nostradamus?'

I imagine those might be the words that Peter Lorie might utter today.

I've been selling all of my Mom's old books on Half.com, and tonight I stumbled across a book called "Nostradamus, The Millennium & Beyond: Prophecies to 2016" by Peter Lorie. It was published in 1993.

So, how'd they do? Here's some predictions that were woefully wrong...

• 1999: A new religion emerges
• 2004: A woman President in the U.S.
• 2002: Communism dies in China
• from pg. 123: "It seems that America will be in for a relatively calm period for 15 years from 1998..."
• 1996: A new French Pope, who will form a bond with Communist China.
Clearly they believed he wouldn't be reading this book that said they'd be having a major government paradigm shift in 6 years...
• Fires & earthquakes cause the Earth to shift it's axis of rotation in the early 21st century.

And finally, "Talking Dolphins." Well, there are still the 7 years between now and 2016...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Three Levels Updated

Back in June I wrote an entry about The Three Levels of MLB Druggies. Today's news bumps A-Rod all the way to level one from level three.

BTW, chalk up another one on the board for the sleezeball known as Jose Canseco. When he points the finger, it seems he gets it right. Though, it could be a case that it doesn't matter who he points the finger at. Like playing Russian Roulette with a fully-loaded pistol.

Who else needs to be added to these lists?

Level 1: "You juiced; I'm saying it; sue me if you don't like it. I'm not accusing them -- I'm saying it as a matter of FACT!"

Barry Bonds
Mark McGwire
Jose Canseco
Sammy Sosa
Rafael Palmeiro
Chuck Knoblauch
Bret Boone
Roger Clemens
Jason Giambi
Eric Gagne
Alex Rodriguez

Level 2: "I'm not saying as matter of fact that they did it, but I am saying that I'd like to play prosecutor in a case against them."

Lots of red flags around these guys, including radical weight changes, radical statistical changes, ridiculously amazing statistics, total career turn-arounds, and the like.

Ivan Rodriguez
Manny Ramirez
Miguel Tejada
Pete Rose
Nomar Garciaparra
(Career went downhill with a wrist injury -- something about a split tendon & damage to the tendon sheath.)

David Ortiz
(Just hit the DL with a split tendon sheath in his wrist. Did they have this injury back in the 1960's?)

Mike Piazza
(Freakish numbers for a guy who played a rigorous position in pitcher's parks, and was originally drafted in like the 60th round of the MLB draft.)

Travis Hafner
(Great numbers one year, falls off the map the next year)

Level 3: Not saying they did it as a matter of fact, and not sure one could prove it in a court of law

Pedro Martinez
(Had an awfully amazing fastball to come from such a scrawny body. And originally had a hard time getting MLB scouts to notice him.)

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Charm of the Unowned

What is it with the seduction of the unowned?

I know I'm not the only person to recognize this. Maybe it's the skill of marketers plying their trade. Maybe it's an innate craving always for "just a little bit more." Or maybe it's that the item on the shelf actually IS better than the item already in possession at home. Whatever the case, there is a strong attraction to have more even when we're in plenty.

Just the other night, I'm driving home from Bible Study at church on a cold Wednesday night when the craving for a sweet treat hits. Starbucks is right on the way home, and their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is SO good. I resisted, though, because I knew I had milk & hot chocolate mix at home -- I didn't need to blow an extra $4 on that Starbucks hot chocolate.

THEN I began to think about Chick-Fil-A's Vanilla Milkshake. So good. There's nothing else like it. It didn't matter that it was 35 degrees outside -- it still sounded good to me. It didn't need to make sense -- it just felt right!

Thus began the tug-of-war with myself. The sensible me began to lecture myself about not wasting money, and already having hot chocolate mix at home, and how that made more sense on a cold night anyway. It was a battle. My truck could have easily steered it's way home or to Chick-Fil-A.

Why?! Why is the Chick-Fil-A milkshake so much more attractive than the hot chocolate at home? If I could whip a similar milkshake up in my kitchen in 2 minutes, I doubt it would have the same appeal as the one they hand me out of the drive-thru window at Chick-Fil-A. Why am I so seduced by what I don't already have?

It's like going to the bookstore and seeing (and smelling) all of those fresh, new books. And I forget about those "other books" that I used to be excited about, too. You know -- the ones that seduced me on the shelf, before I purchased them, marched home with them triumphantly, and then sat them on my shelf at home to display as a trophy (to what, I don't know... to my knowledge base? To my personal pride? To my taste in book covers?... there's no telling...), only never to be opened again. What is with that? That's pathological!

Thankfully, my car maneuvered it's way home where I made myself a hot chocolate. And I tried to talk my heart into believing that it was satisfying & fulfilling. But there still wasn't that thrill -- that RUSH -- of gathering something new.

I wish I could get my heart & my mind to sync up on this issue. And on several other issues, as well.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

When There's No Filter from Brain to Lips...

...sometimes funny things are said.

My Mom used to say about certain people that it was like they had "no filter for their internal monologue" (I credit her for challenging me to have a more extensive vocabulary): "that their stream of consciousness came right out of their mouth."

That's what I thought of when I watched this hilarious clip:

Monday, February 02, 2009

Seinfeld Stories: The Keith Hernandez Magic Loogie

Love the story-telling in this clip, especially when they whip out the Zapruder Film-like production. Classic.