Wednesday, September 27, 2006

crossed fingers, prayers, chants

Okay people, let's all work together here for the common good. Whatever it is you do - pray, cross your fingers, chant, wish, send energy, whatever - do it. Because there are big events on the horizon and I need your help.

1. A&M plays texas tech this weekend. (Have I mentioned that yet on this blog?) A&M needs this win like a 12 year-old-boy needs deodorant. It's a must.

2. The Yanks are in a race with the Detroit Tigers for homefield advantage in AL and for the overall best record in the MLB. The Yanks need us New Yorkers! (By the way, for all you haters who said the Yanks didn't even have a shot at the playoffs a couple of months ago, take that!)

3. Finally, it's the start of flu/RSV season. Ira can't get sick. He just can't. It was the RSV that took Ira behind the shed this past Christmas that ended up being a four month PICU stay. We'll all get the flu shots and Ira will also get a series of shots called synagis that will attempt to protect him from RSV.

So, squeeze tight, army! (An Aggie saying.) Cross your fingers tightly! Pray! Chant! Wish upon a star, the first star you see tonight. (Unless of course you live in the city...sigh.) Send your positive yoga energy our direction. We are in need of huge quantities, people. Get busy!


Monday, September 25, 2006

Clinton Interviewed on Fox News Sunday

Holy Cow! Did you see this folks? It's worth watching.

This is the first 20 minutes of Bill Clinton’s interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. In this clip, Wallace asks Clinton why he didn’t do more to capture or kill Osama bin Laden while he was in office. Clinton clearly feels like he has been set up and doesn’t hold back in telling Wallace just how he feels.

First of all, it's amazing that Clinton would even go on Fox News but he's all about crossing lines as a former president so maybe I shouldn't be that surprised. Second of all, he unleashes a Jon Stewart like assault on Chris Wallace. Finally, did I say "Holy Cow!" yet?

Depending on who you watch, listen to and/or read Clinton either A) lost his cool and made an idiot of himself or B) spoke the truth and owned Wallace and Fox. What's your take?

And oh yeah, Clinton isn't the only one getting all heated when confronted. Check out our current pres when Lauer pushed him a bit on torture:


Sunday, September 24, 2006


This is the week leading up to my trip to Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Someone over at the New York Times must have heard about my trip because this past Friday they did a piece in their travel section on what one should do in College Station if given 36 hours. (It's a regular Friday piece in the Times. For example, "36 HOURS: Chicago" or "36 HOURS: Jackson, Wyo.") They would, of course, point out that College Station has more drinking establishments per capita than anywhere else in the US. Mom, Dad: I promise I didn't darken the doors of these *establishments* while in college. (wink)

The trip will be ridiculously fast as I'll fly into D/FW on Friday night (that's still four hours away from Aggieland) and leave D/FW on Sunday morning but I'm looking forward to the game, good food and catching up with faithful friends. The NYTimes piece is interesting and all that but I'll let you know what my 36 hours (or less) looked like upon return.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

surprise, surprise

The Manhattan Church of Christ sponsors the work I do in Brooklyn. Laura and I attended the Manhattan Church until we got the Brooklyn church up and running. Rarely do I get a chance to attend services at Manhattan Church of Christ but when I do I'm always reminded of how many visitors it attracts.

For those of you not familiar with the church landscape, the Church of Christ is a small, mostly southern denomination. It's a theologically conservative church. It's members (or parishioners) are so devoted that when on vacation - say, to New York City - they'll take time out of their sightseeing to attend a Sunday morning service. And so it's very common to encounter visitors at the Manhattan Church of Christ.

Problem is, Manhattan Church of Christ doesn't exactly wear the "theologically conservative" label that most Churches of Christ do. For example, the Manhattan Church of Christ allows full participation of both men and women in its worship service. In other words, you might see a women pop up from a pew and read scripture, lead a prayer, share a testimony and - while it's only happened on a couple of occasions - preach.

For those visiting from our southern sister Churches of Christ, this can be quite alarming. It's not unusual for our guests to get up and walk out in the middle of the service. And even more common is for our guests to write a formal condemnation of our actions on the back of an attendance card. (It's amazing how much can be crammed on the back of those small cards!)

Two Sundays ago I preached at the Manhattan Church of Christ. Before the service I met four visitors from Texas. I wondered how they would react to the woman leading us in worship that morning. I then wondered how they would respond when, in my sermon on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, I used my brother-in-law's lines:
We associate God's blessing with power. We associate God's blessing
with success. We associate it with strength. To which of these
Beatitudes do our politicians of both parties refer when they repeatedly
insist that God Blesses America? To none of these. Because in
the world we live in we most certainly do not equate blessing with meekness
or starvation, or poverty. Our national creed is of confidence,
abundance, and wealth. And it is in the service of such aspirations that we
invite and assume the blessing of God.

I was sure they would be repelled by the woman leading singing and if that didn't do it, then surely I would lose them when I mocked our politicians in wrongly assuming God's blessing upon America.

But they sat there. They sang and they prayed and they read scripture with the rest of us. And when the service ended, one of them approached me. Surely this chosen one was going to chew me out.

But she didn't. She handed me an envelop, said, "thank you," and walked away. Inside was a $100 bill and a note that read, "for the work in Brooklyn." No name and no address.


Monday, September 18, 2006

life and death

This weekend was, well, it's hard to describe this past weekend. I was betwixt and between this weekend. It was both dark and light, sadness and happiness. It was a time of mourning and a time of celebration. I went from one extreme to another - a place where there were no smiles to a place full of them. Let me explain.

On Saturday morning I went to an eleven-year-old's funeral. This girl was part of the Manhattan Church that supports the work I do in Brooklyn. But my family got to know this girl and her family in the PICU of Children's Hospital. This girl had a heart transplant this summer but her body never fully accepted the heart. Last week she was on ECMO - the machine Ira was on for the first eight days of his life. She didn't make it. The funeral was hard to attend. The sorrow was heavy.

On Sunday, the NICU of Children's Hospital had its annual reunion. This time last year Ira was in the NICU and so this was our first reunion to attend. It was magical. To see nurses and doctors who took care of Ira, to see other mothers and fathers, to witness the growth of other children - it was inspiring. We weren't the only ones carrying around tanks of oxygen and the like. There were others. And on the faces of those parents was a shared look of exhaustion coupled with a look of "we've made it this far!" The neonatologists shared the same sentiment - this day is by far their favorite day of the year. And to see nurses in street clothes who came to the hospital for just this event spoke volumes. Joy was in the air.

I'm still reeling from the emotional roller coaster this Monday morning. I'm still trying to sort out the events and the emotions and the thoughts but one thing I was reminded of as I walked away from both the funeral and the reunion - this life we're living is fragile. There are no guarantees concerning today, tomorrow, next week or next year. What I have is this moment. I've got right now. So what am I gonna do with it?


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dinner Out

Laura here. We took Ira to his first restaurant this past Saturday night. We found a place in DUMBO that is not only kid friendly (something you have to worry about in NYC) but also double- stroller friendly. It has wide isles, a little play area with toys, and a ramp so we don't have to deal with any stairs. The food is so-so but we're willing to sacrifice a gourmet meal for some time out together as a family. Makes my heart happy.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Top Ten

So I was browsing through our iTunes and decided to see what songs get the most play. According to "play count" our top ten are:

1. Winter by Joshua Radin
2. Jesus Walks by Kanye West
3. Pavement Cracks by Annie Lennox
4. Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddy
5. Light & Day by The Polyphonic Spree
6. Seasons of Love by the Rent cast
7. My Jesus, I Love Thee by Amy Grant
8. Where Is the Love? by Black Eyed Peas
9. Hey, Hey by The Elms
10. Killing Me Softly with His Song by The Fugees

Go ahead, do your psycho-whatever analysis and tell me what you think this list reveals...besides, of course, a questionable taste in music.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Advantage: Harvard

Good. Job. Harvard. Other state and private universities, time to follow suit.


Monday, September 11, 2006

blessed are the peacemakers? yeah...right.

Laura and I moved here in Aug of 2003. A month later I was at *Ground Zero* witnessing the memorial service there. (Go here to read my account of the 2003 memorial service. You'll need to scroll down a bit.) On that day in 2003, I stood in reverent silence with thousands of others as we listened to the names of those who lost their lives on that day. I did it again in 2004 and 2005. Today's remembrance service is the first one I've missed upon moving here.

Things in the city get a little quieter on 9.11. People are still in a hurry but everyone is a little more courteous and a little bit more patient on 9.11. It is a serene environment.

The Beatitudes found in Matthew chapter five describe a strange world in which peacemakers are blessed and called children of God. These days, peacemakers are called naive or better yet, cowards.

I have a lot of questions floating around in my head that aren't settled but I feel confident that peacemakers, as described and exemplified by Jesus, isn't one who takes up arms in any case - in an offensive posture or a defensive one.

I know this is problematic in many ways (I call myself a *pacifist with problems*) but we would do well to recognize and admit that Jesus' ways are not our ways.

For more thoughts on this issue, see this post.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Off the Charts!

Usually the phrase off the charts is indicative of something great. But when it refers to a 16-month-old's head circumference it's not so good. Ira had two MRIs while in the hospital. The first was done while in the NICU and the second while in the PICU. They both showed the same thing: extra fluid between his brain and skull and slightly oversized ventricles. According to one neurologist, it could mean something or nothing. Time would tell. But he insisted that we have a neurologist follow Ira. And so today, we went for the first time to see his neurologist.

Ira's head size keeps getting bigger and bigger. It measured 44 (cm?) last October and 54 today. While Ira is very sociable and is showing signs of good muscle tone and physical development, the doctor - understandably - was concerned. She, the doc, wants Ira to have another MRI done in October which means they will sedate him again...which means that he'll be introduced once more to those drugs he liked so much while in the PICU. In the meantime, the neurologist wants Ira to see an opthamologist so that s/he can check if there is pressure behind his eyes and a geneticist to see if his head size has anything to do with his original diagnosis (CDH). Great, add two more doctors into the mix. Why not?

Laura and I have avoided talking too much about what we think of Ira neurologically speaking. We've avoided it because one, there's no time to talk about that kind of thing and two, because it's hard to imagine that on top of all of these other complications Ira might not be neurologically typical (NT). But maybe there's another reason Laura and I haven't talked about it. Maybe we haven't gone there because it doesn't matter. Who cares that Ira might not be NT? Ira's alive, breathing, smiling, playing and enjoying his sister and dog. He loves the outdoors and gets crazy silly when Laura walks in the room and laughs hysterically when I tickle him. Yeah, I think this is a more likely possibility. It just won't matter, in the grand scheme of things, if Ira is not NT. I love my son right now.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Turn the TV On!

It's no secret that my children watch TV. (See my Nov 13, 2005 post.) So you'll understand how excited I was to read this article in the NYTimes today! The article states: "Academic research has shown that viewers ages 3 to 5 score better on tests of problem solving than those who haven’t watched the show."

Of course, it goes on to say that child-development experts confirm "the age-old wisdom that real-life interactions are best for babies [under three]. Parents can be assured, they say, that their presence trumps the tube."

At any rate, yippee for TV!

Speaking of TV, what shows are you excited about this fall season? Me? Lost and The Office. Am I missing out on anything else? Let me know.


Friday, September 01, 2006


It wouldn't be fair for me not to mention Razzano and Hingis but their match was totally and completely forgettable. Hingis was not into it and she got her *#@ handed to her in straight sets! Razzano looked like the #8 player in the world while Hingis looked like the #112 player in the world. I can't wait for Sophia to see women play sports at this kind of level. Empowering! But like I said, in the end, it was forgettable.

When Agassi came out of the tunnel, the crowd went crazy! The beer was flowing and so were the good spirits. It was a party from the get-go and it was evident that the match would bring out the best/worse of the crowd.

Agassi played smart tennis all the way around. You could tell that he was choosing his battles. There were shots he didn't even bother with allowing Baghdatis easy points. But he was conserving. Meanwhile, Baghdatis was all over the place. Result? Twenty-one year old Baghdatis cramped up during the fifth set while thirty-six year old Agassi remained somewhat refreshed. Amazing. Wise.

The post-game interview was classic. Baghdatis was kind, respectful and classy. The crowd immediately fell in love with him even though moments earlier we were booing him for his *injury*. McEnroe and Agassi soaked in the moment. McEnroe didn't want the interview to end and neither did Agassi and neither did we. It was amazing!

To say the least, we had a blast. Don't we look happy?

Final note: While the match was a classic I'm not sure what I enjoyed most, the match or when a camera found Bill O'Reilly and flashed his mug on the big screen. The reaction of the NYC crowd? We booed him unmercifully! Now that is classic!



It's 2:20 and Laura and I just walked in the door. The match between Agassi and Baghdatis was epic. I'm exhausted and I have no voice. Events like this are an occupational hazard for me! Definitely more to come. (And yes, Julie, you might have seen me because I showed up twice on the big screen in the stadium. Who knows?)