Saturday, November 29, 2008

War's Over...

So yesterday I'm flying home to CA. after a week of Thanksgiving in Farmington, NM. It was a great time with Celeste's family and way too much food was consumed. We had cool temps with some rain and it was nice to feel a little bit of winter - though also nice to get back to California weather and scenery. I've never flown out of Farmington before - it's a small municipal airport serving commuter flights with puddle jumpers - a twin prop big enough to get you to Denver, Phoenix or Albuquerque without too much risk. But this time I had to fly back early to get home for church so off to Farmington I go. The beauty of a small town airport is the ability to give good service and not get caught up in all the procedures and distractions that come with the bigger ones. So I get up at 5am to get dressed and get to the airport for my 7:30 flight. As I walk in I notice there's only one little x-ray machine and it's locked up behind a glass door so I sense that something's awry already. I find someone at the ticket desk who proceeds to tell me the flight has been moved to 9:03 - seems the crew didn't get in until late the night before and are required to get their rest. That's fine - I get it - but there's only me and 5 other people on the flight. Thinking it's not too hard to get word out to those of us up and moving by 5am to go ahead and grab a cup of coffee and bagel on the way in (since there's none such at the airport - or in flight) - or maybe even a little more sleep - cause we're gonna be little late. Even the big guys communicate when there's a delay - there's only 6 people and you've known since last night. It's OK - I'm just not a morning person so am a little perturbed to begin with. The bigger deal is that I will miss my flight in Phoenix which is on Southwest. Well of course - Great Lakes Air (the puddle jumper) can't get into Southwest's system to accommodate a reschedule - so it's back to Celeste's family's house I go. I get online - make the arrangements - send an email to my ride in CA. - and back to Farmington Municipal.

This time I walk in and see that the machine is up and running - my 5 co-passengers are moving through the line - and the plane is sitting outside with the gas truck pulled up next to it. Things should be quick and easy now. But no - this is actually the part that threw me the most. I get the whole x-ray thing. It's our bureaucratic idea of how to fight terrorism. Whatever. It's a bit inconvenient but just play along - it makes us all feel better. So my shampoos, after shaves, lotions, etc. are all in their clear 3oz. bottles secured within a see through plastic bag. This all proves that I'm no terrorist. But there are still a few things in my bag that I'm concerned may cause alarm - because they could indeed inflict serious damage should I be so inclined. Well - sure enough - there was an item in question that got me pulled aside and properly dealt with. I'll give you a quick quiz and see if you can identify the illegal item in question.

1) A pair of scissors?

No - seems scissors are fine. We have no problem with you carrying on scissors.

2) How about Tweezers?

Nope - can't imagine any harm in tweezers on board.

3) Ahh - a Gillete Fusion 5 blade razor with extra blades - right?

Bring it on - no problem there.

4) OK - Cologne? Could be used as mace I suppose...

uh - uh... it's fine.

5) Toothbrush? Maybe if jabbed in an eye or an ear?

Nope - all good.

6) OK - laptop power chord - it could strangle...

Cables are OK.

But Wait! There is one item in here that's of great concern. That you would even consider boarding a plane with such an unquestionably dangerous item in tow certainly calls your very  patriotism into account. Just what do you think you're trying to pull off with this young man?!

That's right. I'm guilty as charged for trying to smuggle on a tube of Colgate Total toothpaste. I should've known that scissors, razors, tweezers, etc. were enough and should have never attempted to slide by with the likes of toothpaste. What was I thinking? Fortunately I wasn't arrested - but simply watched as the agent tossed my tube of toothpaste in the trash can and then boarded the plane with my much less dangerous items.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I'm not sure that the war on terror is actually over - but I am afraid that we've already lost!

(I lovingly dedicate this post to my good friend Bob Tone who served and fought hard for much better than this!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Guitar Hero...

So this week I go to lunch with a guy who just moved to LA and has since found our church. He's a musician, as is his wife, so we meet for lunch and get to know each other a bit. He's just out of college from the midwest and has moved here to take his first "real" job. And this is what has me most intrigued - as he's told me he moved here to work for Guitar Hero. At the time I'm not even sure what it entails but am pretty certain it's the coolest job ever. Turns out it is. His gig is to show up every day to his desk/studio/ workstation - pick up his guitar - hit play on the playlist - and begin figuring out guitar parts to every song imaginable. Then he determines what would make this guitar part an "easy", "medium", "hard", or "expert" part to play - reduces it down to the five keys available on the game's guitar - and plays it into the computer to write the program for the game. Oh yeah - he also gets to program the lighting moves and pyro explosions for his songs. I don't know what his second "real" job will be - but after this one it's gonna suck!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rock-N-Roll Fantasy...

Everybody has one. It's what Karaoke and American Idol are made of - not to mention Guitar Hero. So I'm in Ventura at an elder's retreat - already sounds great doesn't it? We've spent the last two days in deep discussions about visions and values and strategies and bylaws blah blah blah..... Great stuff really lest I sound unenthused. But regardless - at some point enough is enough and it's time to let your hair down so to speak. At dinner last night Dave and I realize that several elders have never seen or heard of Guitar Hero - scarey I know. So we determine that tonight following our long day of church stewarding - and a great dinner - that needs to change. This isn't a group that tends to play too hard. It's typically business when we're at these things. And we're talking several lawyers, financial advisors, engineers, etc.... and mostly 50 plus - though that's not as old as it used to be. So Dave makes a run home to grab his x-box and one ups Guitar Hero with Rock Band instead. We have a projector and a large screen in the conference room - we're just missing audio. So I run to Target to buy the biggest jam box Sony makes - with full intention of exercising their return policy tomorrow - and we get it all set up. A group of very reluctant elders entered the conference room after dinner to a rock and roll stage and dimmed lights. After several minutes of uninterested comments and threats of early bedtime - little by little one would dare to take a guitar in their hand and try a few notes. Before long there was a willing bass player and slowly Dave and I would surrender our instruments to their curiosity. The first half hour or so went without vocals until finally someone stepped up to the mic to give Eye Of The Tiger a shot. By now more guys were beginning to want in and you could see the sparks of boyhood dreams ignite. For a solid two hours we had standing room only, wait your turn, School Of Rock, let me try drums, guitar, vocals, 50 plus chairman and elder board members rocking Nirvana, Talking Heads, Billy Idol, Bon Jovi, Journey, Metallica and more. It was awesome to watch the dream come alive. To hear these guys screaming monotone lyrics two octaves too low and playing what seemed more whack-a-mole than drums - but living the dream nonetheless- if only for a moment in a hotel conference room in Ventura. Finally the gig was over and we packed our gear just like any lounge band - only I'll return the PA to Target - then off to the rooms for a good night's sleep. There will be many great rock and roll dreams tonight - but none greater than the one Dave and I lived as we watched it all unfold. I think we've reached a whole new level - next time there will be video.