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12 + 7 = New Wineskins

Have you ever overlooked something really obvious?  Something everyone else seemed to get, but you didn’t?  I mean it was right there in plain view, but you couldn’t see it? You know the type of situation I’m talking about don’t you?

Like finding the button for “Yes” on the debit card reader at the grocery store.

Isn’t it about time that we finally adopt a standardized button layout on those things?  You know where the button is on the machine at Safeway, but go into Albertsons and you need Tommy Lee Jones doing a hard target search of every henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in the county to find it.

Sometimes the button says, “enter”, but other times it says “accept”, or “yes”.   Occasionally it doesn’t say anything at all because it’s been rubbed off. Sometimes the words are displayed on the screen by the button you’re supposed to push, but sometimes you have to tap the screen.  Sometimes tapping the screen only works if you are using that little stick.

If you’re lucky the button is green, but sometimes it’s blue.

You stand there paralyzed, staring at the PIN pad, while a woman trapped behind you, with kids in her cart, desperate to escape the gum aisle, is clearing her throat and pointing.

You finally see it.

In the moment of clarity that inevitably precedes public humiliation you reach out really fast to press it.  Your feeble attempt to make up for all of the time you’ve just cost the people behind you backfires because in your haste your man sized finger misses and mashes down the “pay with food stamps” button.

Or maybe that’s just me.

My point is this: Whenever you overlook the obvious, it’s generally because you are looking for something else.

The New Testament is full of scenarios where the people closest to Jesus, had no idea what he was talking about.  In Mark 8, Jesus disciples clearly didn’t get it.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (more…)

Riding Out The Summer…

By my reckoning, today August 12, 2011, is the day that my town broke the Summer vacation barrier. I don’t say this because we’ve finally arrived at a consistent weather pattern that includes sun (this is Portland after all) I’m saying this because I don’t think that longsuffering moms can take much more Summer break.

I spent the morning in places that moms do, Grocery stores and Target. It was utterly macabre.

During the school year, a Friday morning at Target is usually a collection of the chipper and hipper moms prepping for the ubiquitous weekend soccer games and dinner parties.

By mid-August those days are long gone.

A mid-August trip to Target on a Friday morning is a disconcerting blend of aggressively solicitous children tended by the walking exhausted, desperately seeking some quality “alone time.”

By mid-August the family trips have been completed, the grandparently visits are finished, and every church but the Amish have completed their Vacation Bible School programming. Without a sports camp or a school carnival in sight, the exhausted mothers are left to wrangle the final two weeks of Summer without an ally or respite.

Women who formerly spent their mornings in productive, if not life giving, activites like laundry, tax preparation, and scheduling, have discovered that their lives have now faded to a listing meander.

It’s like watching a Spanish galleon, stilled by an arid doldrum, get boarded by miniature pirates.

Addition By Subtraction

Charles Barkley is one of the greatest basketball players ever. He’s also hilarious. His one liners (Sam Cassel looks like Gollum!) are rivalled only by Shaq for their ability to be simultaneously offensive and endearing.

Sir Charles is charming in a way that makes you take notice of his positive attributes while ignoring his less than savory characteristics which include, but are not limited to, a painfully bad golf swing, massive gambling addiction, and eyebrows that look like Little Richard’s mustache.

Charles Barkley made headlines  on Wednesday by revealing that he hasn’t spoken with his good buddy Tiger Woods since that ill-fated Thanksgiving weekend in 2009.

“You think you’re friends with a guy. You talk to him once a week for 15 years. You’re like, this dude is my friend, we do things, we have fun together… I haven’t talked to him in two years and I’m wondering what the hell is going on.”

Charles denies any knowledge or involvement in Tiger’s nearly 10 year binge with women and prescription drugs, even though he maintains that the two were close. He can’t fathom why Tiger isn’t interested in hanging out with him and other celebrated gambling womanizers like Michael Jordan.

While there are many possible reasons for the lack of communication between the two, something obvious should be jumping off the page to Barkley. (more…)

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