Saturday, December 17, 2005

Potty Training II

So, this is sort of interesting:

Tyler made it through the 7th day and decided he did not want his prize until he got 7 in a row on the same week. So, he is going to wait until he makes it through today until he plays with the little people McDonalds, meaning he had to do 9 days in a row rather than 7.

I'm not complaining. But, what a Strange kid.

Sheppy's Blog: Potty Training

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Potty Training

I am not sure what the criteria for applying the official title "Potty Trained".

If my 3-year-old boy makes it through today, he will have been clean and dry for 7 days in a row. This will be his second 7-day in a row streak. This month he has been clean and dry 11 days (today will be 12 I am pretty confident) and had accidents only 3 days.

Is that potty trained? My initial response is no, because he still does not stay clean and dry every single day. But, when people ask I give them a long explanation rather than answering yes or no, because if I think about it, he is trained. He has gone in the potty a long time. He even goes in the potty way more than he goes in his pants.

Does anyone know the exact criteria?

Tyler will get a little prize today (he'll actually probably get it tomorrow) for making it 7 days in a row. He gets a "Little People" McDonalds that used to be Tracy's toy. This was from the good-old days when "Little People" were still small enough to choke on. I'm not sure why getting to play with Mom's old toys seems to be Tyler's greatest motivation, but for some reason it is. His fist 7-day streak was rewarded with Tracy's old "Little People" villiage. Weird kid.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I, of course, have been ridiculously blessed and am very thankful for everything I have, but perhaps I am not as thankful as I should be. I think this is pretty typical in today's world. In fact, it has probably always been the case that people in general are not as thankful for the things they have as they should be.

Number one on my list of things of which to be thankful, is my wonderful family. My wife is much better than I deserve and my kids are the most wonderful in the world.

Tyler, my 3-year old, got me thinking when he came into my room Thursday morning. I was not quite ready to get up, but he was ready for me to be up, and he was there to help me get up.

Trying to buy time, I told him, "Tyler, it is Thanksgiving. Do you know what you are thankful for?"

"Everything," he said matter-of-factly. This was a very fine answer, but he did not leave it at that. He gave me examples of things he is thankful for. A lot of examples.

He started with the easy ones, "I'm thankful for Mommy, Daddy, Connor, the Lord God." This was a great answer as far as I am concerned. Those of you who read the bible might want to point out that the Lord God should be number one, but I don't think he was ranking, and the Lord God is still somewhat an abstract idea for a 3-year-old. He had answered correctly.

But that is not all... oh no, that is not all. He did not miss a beat and went on with extended family. "Grammy, Papa Lou, Grandma and Grandpa Shepard, Cody and Logan and Tera and Scott and Shean and Caden and Corey and Carey and Grandpa Dale." Very nice, so far it was pretty much a text-book answer.

Of course, I was not expecting much of a comprehensive list, but getting the unexpected is something I should be used to with a 3-year-old. He went on with things like "Our House, my school, my toys." He did not actually say my toys, he basically listed all of his toys. He is thankful for his trains, his little people farm, his castle, his cars, his books, his (this went on forever).

Then it was pretty much of free-for-all. He covered wonders of nature: "I am thankful for mountains, and the sun, and the trees, and the grass, and the leaves. I am thankful for flowers. I am thankful for the sun and the rain and the moon and the clouds. I am thankful for the stars." He covered friends he has: "Miles and Ryan and .... and .... and ....". He is thankful for his bike and his bed and dogs and cats. He is thankful for Colorado and Illinois and Nevada. He is thankful for Church and School and AHa school (which is basically Sunday school). He is thankful for several kinds of foods, including fruits and vegetables as well as candy and ice cream. He is thankful for museums and playgrounds and downtown (Denver).

Here I am lying in bed, not quite ready to join the world, and here my 3-year old was talking on and on over one topic: things he is thankful for. It was not hours, but it sure seemed like it. He repeated some things a few times, but really not as much as you would think. In short, this kid is thankful for everything.

So, that is great. I have a kid who is grateful for what he has. Unfortunately, listening to his list made me realize that I am not always (probably not ever) as thankful as I should be. As I wrote above, I am just ridiculously blessed with everything wonderful I could ever wish for, and several things that I certainly don't need. I am in the wealthiest country in the world with a collective standard of living that is probably the highest of all time. I have a wonderful family and a great job and live exactly where I want to live. I don't have all the material things I sometimes want, but much more than I need, and I have the ability to give some of my stuff away to less fortunate people.

But, sometimes, not only do I forget to be thankful for what I have, sometimes I even find myself complaining about it. My house isn't big enough. My job doesn't pay enough. I don't get enough vacation. You get the idea. My guess is that you probably do the same thing.

And when was the last time you said something like, "I am thankful for mountains, and the sun, and the trees, and the grass, and the leaves"?

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Today, Tyler brought home a spider named Theodore from school. Theodore is a big black, furry tarantula that the class has adopted. The class members take turns taking him home and record his adventures in a journal. Several of the entries include pictures. Apparently, Theo has had some interesting adventures. He seems to be a Broncos fan. I didn't know spiders were much interested in football, but now I do know.

For an arachnid, Theodore is pretty nice, although I was a little hurt when he didn't eat the crickets and beetles that I made him for supper. He wasn't real hungry and politely declined, so I guess I can't complain much. I guess I should have asked before starting to prepare supper. Luckily, Tyler's Spider Man likes to eat bugs and so they did not go to waste. And, I was pleasantly surprised that even when Tyler got his piece of Halloween candy for dessert, Theo didn't all of a sudden become hungry for candy.

After supper, we all played baseball in the living room. Well, actually Spider Man decided to sit out and watch, so we didn't all play. Theodore played catcher while I pitched. Tyler hit and Connor played outfield. Theo isn't much of an athlete, but he didn't let that stop him from having fun. It was a pretty good game even if Tyler and I did most of the work for all teams.

Then, Tyler and Theodore decided that they wanted to play hide-and-seek. Connor and I had no objections and even Spider Man said he would like to play, so we went ahead and played. Tyler hid with Spider Man and Theodore every time, leaving Connor and me to seek. To be honest, my three year old is not very good at hiding. Whenever the seeker(s) gets close, he just cracks up giggling. It probably didn't help that he had two friends to hide with this time. It was a fun game, just not all that challenging.

When we finished hide-and-seek, we went up to put Tyler in his PJ's and an amazing thing happened! Tyler disappeared and Super Man showed up! Yes, Super Man. The Super Man. So, not only did Theodore have the distinct honor of spending quality time with my two kids, but also got to fly around the house with Super Man.

Tyler, Theo, and I wrote in Theodore's journal while Mommy ate dinner (Mommy had to work late talking to people about insurance and garbage like that.) We wrote from Theodore's perspective which is completely different than everyone else has done so far. Ours is also a bit longer than most.

Mommy put everyone to bed. It was my turn, but she stole it from me. I'm not sure why, but my place is to do as I am told... not question decisions made by my superiors.

Anyway, I think Theo had a nice time visiting us. I know Tyler and Connor enjoyed having Theo over. Even Mommy seemed to like the tarantula, which sort of surprised me since even crickets freak her out and Theo is a BIG spider. I hope he comes back to visit sometime when we have more than a night to play with him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Smacking Tyler

Every once and awhile, my little boy, Tyler gets on my nerves and I "smack" him.

Here is an example of how it comes to be that I need to smack him: Last night, it was time to get Tyler in his pajamas, and Tyler was just not interested. He was running around, jumping on the bed and "hiding" from me and basically just not listening to me when I told him to "come here so I can put your pajamas on."

Then, I got frustrated. "Do you want me to Smack you?"

"Yes" he giggled.

Well, I can't threaten the boy without following through. I came up to him, aimed at his face and ... "Smack!! Smack!! Smack!!". Tyler just giggled.

I "smack" Tyler with my lips. I kiss him on the face and neck while smacking my lips as loud as I can.

I am wondering if this is a good idea. I do this, because I am frustrated with the way he is behaving, but his behavior is not bad enough to spank him or even give him a time-out. So, the kiss refocuses my frustration and it also gives me a chance to get him to stop what he is doing. All this is probably ok.

But, I guess I am wondering what will happen to me if someday Tyler is talking to one of his little friends and says "My dad smacked me last night. He smacks me all the time," while a teacher or another parent is listening. Explaining that my smack is a lip smacking may not fly in today's world. Plus, is it a good idea to make a game out of behavior that frustrates me? Like I said, it is the sort of behavior that isn't really bad enough to punish, but I am not sure rewarding him is a good idea.

Well... this sure isn't one of my biggest problems in the world. I'll probably keep doing this. It is certainly better than yelling at or hitting the kid ..... right?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Jeremy Shepard

On September 5, 2001, my brother, Jeremy, died when he was 15 years old. He collapsed after running the mile in Gym class, and his heart stopped.

He was born when I was a sophomore in high school. He was born with heart defects which had to be corrected surgically soon after he was born. He spent much of his first year in the hospital. After the surgery, we thought there was no reason that he wouldn't have a normal life without problems. And he did have a normal life (as normal a life you could have in my family) until his sophomore year in high-school. His death came as a complete surprise and shock to everyone.

For some reason, the day of Jeremy's death is stuck in my mind, but the year is something I have to think about. In fact, I cannot recall the birth dates of my children (March 10th and April 5th) as automatically as Jeremy's death date. 0905 is stuck in my mind. 2001 isn't. When I have to remember the year, I can by reminding myself it was the year before Tyler, my oldest son, was born. Why I have such a hard time remembering the year (without a brief reminder) is a mystery to me. You would think that September 2001 would be especially easy to remember (September 11, 2001 was in a few days), but for me, it isn't.

Tracy was home alone when my dad called on the afternoon of the 5th. I was riding my bike home from work and unavailable, so I didn't know until I walked in to find my wife crying. She told me to call my dad. "Some thing's wrong," she sobbed to me. Apparently he didn't tell her what exactly was wrong ... just to have me call immediately.

I was devastated when my dad told me Jeremy was dead. It was just something that I could not believe. 15 year old kids don't drop dead from over-exerting themselves, especially athletic ones like my little brother. I swear I was just sitting there waiting for the punch-line; it was just so unbelievable that Jeremy was gone. I don't remember much about the rest of that day. There is no doubt that I was in shock... sort of a painful, gloomy, lose-all-hope sort of fog. In fact, I was in that same fog for weeks or months after the death.

I don't think I ever felt angry over Jeremy's death. I didn't try to blame God or the high-school or doctors. I was never angry, but I was certainly confused. And of course I was just utterly heartbroken. I did beat myself up a little bit for not being closer to my little brother. I started remembering every time I wasn't as patient as I should be with him as a little boy, and thinking about how seldom we talked after I graduated high-school, and even more-so after I graduated college.

I don't remember much about the couple of days after Jeremy's death. I had to make arrangements to get back to Beach Park, Illinois for Jeremy's funeral on the 10th. I had to tell people at work that I would not be around for a few days. Neither of these things were much fun to take care of. I think I cried more those two days than I ever have in my life.

Somehow, I ended back in Illinois with my pregnant wife for the wake. One thing I do remember about the wake was that Tracy had a big bag of glop (trail mix) because pregnant women need snacks every few minutes. Luckily, she was willing to share the food, because I think ended up needing it almost as much as she did.

The wake exhausted me. The line to view the casket snaked around outside for a couple of blocks. There were literally hundreds of people saying how sorry they were and how they just didn't know what to say. I told most of them, "That's OK... I don't really know what I want to hear." In my head I kept saying, "just tell me that it is just a bad dream and that I will wake up soon with my brother alive again." I was struck by how many people told me what a wonderful, kind person my brother was. He had lots more friends than I ever had in high-school, and they all had stories about what an energetic, kind, joyous, funny person he always was. I bet I didn't actually talk to 20% of the people who showed up ... and I felt like I was talking all night.

A bunch of my college friends also showed up. Some of them drove a couple of hours to help comfort me for a few minutes. I was actually a little bit surprised that so many of my friends made such an effort. It shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

There was more food at my parents' house than we had room for. And people kept telling us that they had something for us. We had to turn a bunch of food away.

I am definitely an introvert, so interacting with all these people drained me over the few days before Jeremy's funeral. It was nice to hear the nice things they said about him, and I am glad that there were so many people trying to comfort us, but still they drained me.

The funeral was Monday the 10th. The church was packed. Many of Jeremy's high-school friends were excused from classes and came. I remember looking at my Mom who just looked miserable (understandably). I tried to fight back tears, and amazingly, I succeeded for the most part. From what I remember, the service was fine, but I had agreed to be a pall-bearer and for some reason, I dreaded that. The walk down the isle was difficult carrying my dead brother, but I think the most difficult thing I've ever done was to help lift his box into the back of the hearse. I feel like I froze there forever, but I doubt it was more than a second or two. No one else noticed my hesitation. I was the first person on the left side of the coffin, so if I had actually frozen, it probably would have been obvious.

I don't remember the rest of the day, except we watched part of the Broncos and Giants on Monday Night Football. I didn't see the Broncos win and I didn't see Ed McCaffery break his leg, but I heard about both those things the next morning.

And of course, everyone knows what happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It was the day after my brother's funeral. I'm not sure if my shock was greater or less because of the closeness to my brother's death. While we were watching the towers burn on TV, my wife suddenly realized that her brother Tim sometimes worked down in that part of town and ran off sobbing. It turned out that he was no where near the Towers that day, but that was certainly scary to think.

I didn't lose anybody on September 11. Thank God. I'm not sure how I would have handled that on top of Jeremy's death. Whenever anybody mentions September 11th, I associate it more with the death of my brother 6 days before than I do the terrorism attacks. It is sort of weird what perspective we have on such things. For the most part, I would say my life is back to normal. Neither event affects my day-to-day life the way I would have thought 4 years ago.

There are all kinds of references on the internet to the terrorism attacks of September 11th. I can find almost nothing of the death of my brother by googling it. For awhile, one of our neighbors was trying to get a park named after Jeremy Shepard. I don't think anything came of it other than a record of it in the Beach Park Village Board minutes: . I believe my old high-school did a Jeremy Shepard memorial soccer tournament for at least a couple of years, and I am able to find his name on old 2002 and 2003 soccer schedules.

Anyway, here it is 4 years later and I am still thinking about him, but not with as much sorrow as I did 3 years ago or even last year. My oldest son's middle name is Jeremy. Quite often, especially when Tyler was a baby, but still as a pre-schooler, I see some of Jeremy's facial expressions in Tyler. I'm not sure if there is actually something there, or just my imagination. As he gets older, I'll probably see less and less if for no other reason, it is getting harder and harder to remember the details of how Jeremy looked and acted. And of course, after I went away to College, I did not see as much of my brother as I did when we lived together.

Friday, September 02, 2005

10 Years

I have now been married 10 years.

I still lust for my wife. Tracy gets sexier and sexier. Every time I see her, I want to rip her clothes off and do X-Rated things to her body.

Personally, I think she could have married better. I know her mom and dad both think so too, although they are too kind to say so. I think my mom, dad, and sister also think so, although they would never even admit it to themselves let alone tell me about it. But, for some reason, Tracy picked me and has decided to stick with that decision.

It turned out pretty well for her, because we have the two most wonderful boys in the world. Tyler likes to tell us "This is the best family ever." And, Connor just can not stop smiling and laughing, telling us in his cute 3,4, and now 5 - month old sort of way, that he also thinks it is a great family. Both just have a knack for making their parents extremely happy. We could not ask for better kids.

I met Tracy at a Bradley University fraternity party late in 1990. Neither of us were ever high on pay-for-friends institutions like Fraternities or Sororities, but neither of us had much of a problem drinking free Fraternity beer. Surprisingly, she seemed interested in me (I attribute that to the free Fraternity beer impairing her judgment), and we started seeing each other quite a bit. Obviously, I tried to keep her drunk enough that she wouldn't come to her senses, and it seemed to work. I even left the next semester for a co-op assignment in Evanston, Illinois about 200 miles from Bradley. I guess you could say she waited for me. I came down most weekends to spend time with her, and she was the kind of college student who actually studied Monday thru Friday, so in a way, she might not have even noticed I was gone.

We quickly became Shep&Tracy and stayed that way until we became Mr. and Mrs. Shepard about 5 years after we met. No one really had much doubt during that time that we would end up married. After college, Tracy got a job in Normal Illinois working as a co-manager for a Kroger supermarket. I stayed in the area to be near her and got a job at LR Nelson in Peoria. I lived in Morton which was about half-way between my job and Tracy's apartment. We were far enough away to keep her parents happy but close enough that we could see each other on days off.

Things went well, and we got married in 1995. Tracy quit her Kroger job and we moved into an apartment minutes from LR Nelson.

Eventually, we decided to get the heck out of Illinois. After a little discussion (not much because we both agreed) we decided to quit our jobs and move out to Colorado. In October of 1998 we took a "vacation" to Colorado. I spent most of it interviewing and got a job offer in Denver, which I accepted. So, I came back to LR Nelson and gave a few weeks notice. We packed up a little u-haul truck and drove out to Englewood, Colorado in December 1998.

A little over a year after moving into an apartment in Englewood, we got ourselves a house in Littleton. A couple more years and "we" decided to have our first child. Tracy actually made that decision, but I didn't object, even though the prospect of being in charge of a child completely frightened me.

That turned out well. Tyler is a wonderful child.

Another couple of years, "we" decided to have our second child. Again, Tracy actually made the decision; again I didn't object. The prospect of having two children utterly dependant on me still completely frightens me, but I have learned to live with the fear.

That turned out even better than the first one. Connor is also a wonderful child, and Tyler is now a great big brother.

Not a minute goes by that I don't feel completely blessed with my wife and children. I am a lucky guy. Tracy could have done better, but it is too late now. She's stuck for better or worse. Luckily, it keeps getting better and better (especially for me, but I guess for her too).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Eat Pig

Why are Christians allowed to eat pig? This is something that bothers me a little bit. I've never really heard or read an explanation that completely satisfies me, although I have to say I love grilled ham and cheese, so for the most part, I ignore the issue. The fact that I enjoy eating pig should justify the fact that I do eat it, right? (that last sentence was sarcastic)

The Old Testament says:
Leviticus 11:7 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.
Deuteronomy 14:8 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

So, at the point in the history of the world where Moses was wandering around the wilderness with the tribes of Israel, it was really important to God that people not eat pig. God even doesn't want his people to touch the carcasses of pigs.

But, I am quite certain that many (most?) Christians eat ham. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if ham is the most common Easter meal, and I am pretty sure that ham is taken from pigs. Of course, the Old testament does not carry as much weight as the New testament with Christians, but for the most part, Christians are not taught it is acceptable to ignore the Old testament. This is more or less the same time that God told us, "Don't kill" and "Don't commit adultery". We, as Christians, take the 10 commandments as law, but for the most part we ignore the "Don't eat unclean animals" part of God's commandments.

I have come across the following New testament Bible verses that people use to justify eating pig (and other unclean foods as well):

None of these clearly say to me that the coming of Jesus allows us to ignore Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8. However, let's assume that some or all of these do say that Jesus condones abolition of the food laws. Here is what actually bothers me: if this is true, why did the Old Testament God make the special effort to tell Moses "Don't eat pig" ?

I have heard talk of "the Old Testament God" and the "New Testament God" as if they are two different Gods. The Old Testament God is described as angry and vengeful whereas the New Testament God is always kind, loving, and forgiving. But, although described as two separate types of Gods, there is only one God. Part of Jesus's mission was to re-connect humans and God, but God did not change between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. The separation was on the part of humanity. So, we cannot say that the "Old Testament God" condemns pork whereas the newer, kinder God of the New Testament says "that is ok, guys, eat whatever you want."

I suppose it is possible that when it came to the food laws, God was intending his words for the newly freed Israelites only. It would make sense that God was protecting his people from the many diseases that eating pig can cause. These are diseases that today are recognized and controlled well enough that we no longer need God's warning. That seems it could be a reasonable explanation, but it just doesn't seem quite right, does it? Shouldn't the Word of God be timeless?

It is also possible that Jesus came to help explain the intension of God's Laws, and in cases where people misunderstood the Old Testament, he came to set us straight. Maybe, in this case, God's people simply did not understand the commandment. This is hard for me to swallow, if for no other reason, Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8 both seem exceedingly clear. I just don't see where the misunderstanding would come in.

Practically speaking, following all of God's food laws would be exceeding difficult in today's world. My guess is that even those who claim to follow them are unable to do so at all times. Technically speaking, anything that touches an unclean food is itself unclean and should be destroyed. So, if I get a steak that was grilled on the same surface on which a pork-chop was grilled, I am breaking the law.

So, I am hopeful that at some point someone can explain this contradiction to me. I do eat ham. Usually I don't even think about it, but obviously I have enough doubts about God's intension that I spent the time to blog it. Maybe eventually I'll have to come to the simplest conclusion: God doesn't want me eating pig. I should stop. I hope not, because like I wrote at the beginning: I love those grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Jerry's Blog: The Homeless -- I read this and it hit home for me (pun intended ... a little bit) . Just about everyday I walk up or down the 16th Street Mall in Lodo (Denver) to and from the light rail station. Everyday I see people who are homeless. Quite a few of them are asking for hand-outs. Usually I try to navigate 16th Street so that I am on the opposite side of the street as the panhandler when I pass, but most days I am unable to completely go through the day without being asked for spare change (anything will help).

Usually, my response is to dig through my pockets and say, "I'm sorry, man. I don't have any change." (this is actually true ... I usually don't have any change). Sometimes, if I do have some change, I give him (it is usually a him ... very rarely a her) a few cents. Sometimes, I simply pretend that I don't hear him. Every once and awhile I just say "No" and walk on.

No matter what I do, I feel guilty. It eats me inside to see people living on the street, and it makes me feel guilty to purposely refrain from helping out. It makes me feel bad to ignore these people. It even makes me feel guilty when I give one of them something, because I don't know if the change is just going to become some sort of drug or liquor. Luckily I give them so little, that the amount of damage my money will inflict in drug or alcohol form is not likely to be very much.

Just like Jerry, I give money to organizations who help these people. For me, it is the Denver Rescue Mission and my church (different church than Jerry's). This makes me feel a little better. But, as Jerry points out... giving money is a way of replacing action with transference. I am paying someone else to "shine" for me. To be fair, these organizations need people like Jerry and me, because they certainly need money. But, if they had unlimited budget with thousands of people paying to help out... but no one to do the actual ministry, all that money would be worthless.

So, even filtering my money to hard-working organizations who are doing God's will, makes me feel somewhat guilty. Am I doing enough? Am I doing what God intends for me to do?

I think about the WWJD (What would Jesus Do) movement from a few years back( ). Maybe this is still big, but I have not heard it quite as much lately. But if I ask myself, "What would Jesus do?", it would certainly not be to cross the street to avoid homeless people. It would not be to dig through his pockets and say "I'm sorry, I don't have any change." It probably wouldn't be to give the poor guy some change or even to give thousands of dollars to other people to help handle the problem. It may actually be closer to what Jerry did when he walked with the man to the coffee shop and talked to him... although I sort of doubt Jerry did it as well as Jesus would have (no offense, Jerry).

The thing about Jesus was that he always seemed to know the right thing to say. He always seemed to know the right thing to do. Probably being the only son of God helps when it comes to knowing what will help the most.

So, here, maybe is my problem: I don't know exactly how to help the man on the street. Heck, I don't even know if he really needs my help. I would venture that if he is asking for money from me, he needs some sort of help, but chances are he needs more than I know how to give. He needs motivation or he needs a job or he needs professional counseling or he needs God. Maybe he needs all of these. And personally, I am not sure I am qualified to help him with any of this.

So, maybe, it isn't all that bad that I am giving money to an organization that knows how to help homeless people. Maybe, in this case, leaving it to the professionals may be the best that I can do. I know I am ill-equipped to interact on a meaningful, helpful, follower-of-Christ sort of way. If I were to interact in an attempt to truly make their lives better, it is entirely likely.... maybe even probable that I would do more harm than good.

But that is basically saying "there is nothing more I can do", and that is a cop-out.

Well, of course, Denver Rescue Mission has a web page of "Ways to Help". They even have a list of greatest needs. On the most needed items page, there are a number of items they need, but they also need people to help: "Mentor Teams for Family Rescue Ministry ", "Tutors for Children and Men", "Male mentors", and "Christian Outreach Volunteers". Those are great opportunities to shine.

Of course, obviously, they do need money. Or, at least, they need the things that money can buy. And, of course, it isn't just the Denver Rescue Mission or City Union Mission who are helping homeless and who Do a google search of "Denver Homeless" "Donate" and you get pages and pages of results, so there are lots of organizations out there trying to help and they all need money.

The Denver Rescue Mission's donation page has radio buttons with monetary amounts listed like this:

  • $27.60 to help 15 hungry, hurting, homeless people
  • $46.00 to help 25 hungry, hurting, homeless people
  • $64.40 to help 35 hungry, hurting, homeless people
  • $82.80 to help 45 hungry, hurting, homeless people

I hardly miss $27.60, but it helps 15 people. In fact, in the 6 years I've lived in Denver, if I follow out those ratios, I've given enough money (to various charities) to help thousands of people, and I don't really miss that either.

But, is it enough? Should I give my time and energy and heart as well? The answer is "Yes".

Will I? I'm going to have to think about that.

By the way, right after I posted this blog, I went to Jerry's and added a comment to his. There was an Anonymous comment there from someone advertising an 800 # to connect with "Real Singles from your local area". In other words, his Blog got spammed! This just blew me away (although I guess it shouldn't have surprised me at all). What is this world coming to? Anyway, I just thought this was weird. Is this a common thing? (Blog Spammers?)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Bierstadt & Evans

This past weekend, I did it. I climbed to the top of Mt. Bierstadt and then Mt. Evans. While not an easy hike, and while several times I felt like I would not make it, the climb was very rewarding. My legs were extremely sore the next day and the day after and even a little bit today.

Now, I am daydreaming about doing Long's Peak. Derry, the guy I was planning on hiking / climbing with, does not have the same open dates to do it as I do, so it is looking like we might not get to do it this year. But, I am thinking about just doing it without him. I might ask Brannan (the guy who went with me up Bierstadt & Evans), or I might even try to do it on my own. I might back-pack up to the Goblin Forest back-country sites (which is about 1.5 miles up the Long's Peak trail-head) on Friday and then take off early Saturday morning.

Maybe this can be both my climb up Long's Peak and my solo-Backpacking trip (see Time Flies). Of course, climbing Long's Peak may not be real smart. Anyway, in case I decide I want to do this, here are some pages that might help:

Backcountry camping guide:

Backcountry Trip Planning Worksheet:

Designated Backcountry camp-sites in RMNP:

Just a miscellaneous Denver Post article about Long's Peak:

Note... the fact that my legs got so tired (and started to cramp) on the sawtooth between Bierstadt and Evans scares me a bit. I also came much closer to running out of water than I am comfortable with. So, here are some changes I think I need to make:

  1. More Water... I always bring a lot, but I am thinking I need more. Also, just in case, I think I am going to get some water-purification pills. If I back-pack up to Goblin Forest, I'll have my water filter anyway. The thing is, though, there is not a lot of water to be gotten up above tree - line. By the time I get back down to the water, I'm close enough to the end, that I might not need it.
  2. Polyester shirt as my lower layer (instead of cotton).
  3. Banana chips as part of my food (my King Soopers did not have any for this last trip... I usually bring some).
  4. Take Calcium / Magnesium / Vitamin E / Potassium supplements the days before the hike (I have read recently that this will help with leg cramps).
  5. Work out harder. Weights in the back pack on the tread-mill. Higher resistance on the cross - trainer. I hope to carry Tyler in the Kelty carrier a few times before the Long's Peak hike. Should I weight train my legs?
Now, if I can just plan a weekend to do this.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Time Flies

"This thing devours all things: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal: Slays kings, ruins towns, and beats high mountains down." -- Gollum in The Hobbit

Bilbo eventually, quite accidentally, but certainly fortunately, answers "Time".

As Gollum's riddle implies, time flies. As a parent, the truth of this idiom becomes more and more evident every time I look at my 3 year old who just "yesterday" was watching the Colorado Avalanche with me in the hospital room where his mother was recovering from his birth, and every time I look at my 3 month old who just "yesterday" was watching the Denver Pioneers Hockey Team with me in the hospital room where his mother was recovering from his birth.

Its truth also hits me when I realize that my 10th wedding anniversary is coming up this year (in September) or when I realize that I am closer to 40 in age than I am to 20.

I lead a semi-charmed kind of life (thank-you Third Eye Blind for that descriptive phrase) and every day, my life gets better and better. I'm happier with a 3-year old child and 3 month old child than I was at 15, 22, or even 33. I'll be happier tomorrow than I am today. So, time flying away doesn't bother me that much.

So far, I have not reached the birthday that depresses me with the realization that I'm old. I know for some people, it comes at 30 or at 35 (I've passed both these) or 40 or 50 or 60 (I have not reached these yet). I don't think my age ever will depress me. As I said, my life keeps getting better and better and as far as I can tell it always will. I can not look into the future, so someday, my age may hit me hard, but as I said, I don't think so.

But this summer has flown by.... and I don't know how that happened. It is now almost August, and I have more summer weekend things to do than I have weekends. Here are the things I want to accomplish yet this summer:

As I write this, I have 2 August weekends unplanned, and I have 3 unscheduled activities in the list above that I have to do before the summer is over. I guess it is not an absolute necessity that Tyler and I do another "Me and my dad" camping trip this year ... we have already done one this year and we are going camping with Mommy and Connor, which is almost as good. Both my previous "Sheppy Quests" have been in September, so that can get moved to September. So, I am not yet at a panic stage for my summer leisure goals. But, I really have no time to waste.

Where did the time fly away to?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Falling Pennies

I was on the Royal Gorge Bridge a couple weeks ago. I heard a child ask his dad if he could drop a penny off the Bridge. The dad answered (correctly), "No."

I told a co-worker about that, and he said that he thought it was a myth that a penny dropped from up high (like the empire state building or the Royal Gorge Bridge) could kill someone, because it could never get going fast enough. Apparently he was under the impression that gravity will speed an object up to a certain velocity and then the penny would never go faster than that. I tried to explain that Gravity has a universal constant acceleration. Dropped from real high, the penny would accelerate at 9.8 meters/second2 until acted by another force... Like crashing into the head of a rafter. I told him that we could do the calculation to figure it out, but dropping it from high enough would cause the penny to go as fast as a bullet (and I did not know what height it would be).

He had it stuck in his head that there is a maximum speed a falling object can go at. Maybe he was thinking of the "acceleration of gravity". Acceleration and speed are not the same thing, but I am sure for people who don't think about it or never took physics probably could think of them as the same thing.

The fact is, of course, that acceleration is the rate at which velocity (speed) increases over time. So, if an object has a constant acceleration, by definition, it goes faster and faster. In fact, any object with a constant mass (like a penny) acted upon by a constant force (like gravity) will accelerate (go faster and faster).

You see, as Newton told us, Force = Mass * Acceleration , so Acceleration = Force / Mass

It has been calculated based on experimentation that the acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 meters/second2. This is a constant for all objects regardless of mass.

So, simple physics tells us that

Velocity = Acceleration * Time


Distance = Acceleration * Time2 /2

We happen to know the height of the bridge because I was just there and saw a sign that told us it was 1053 feet high. This is 321 meters.

Since we know the distance (321 meters) and the Acceleration (9.8 meters/second) , we can easily calculate the Time it takes for a penny to drop from the Bridge.

Time2 = 2 * Distance /Acceleration

Time = sqrt(2*321 / 9.8) = 8.09 Seconds.

Velocity = 9.8 * 8.09 = 79 meters / second

This is about 177 miles per hour.

incidentally, The average speed of a bullet on is about 950 m/s . It ranges anywhere from 180 to 1500 m/s. So, the penny is not going nearly as fast as a bullet. It would have to dropped from much higher to achieve even the slowest of the bullet speeds listed.

So, how much damage can a penny do at 79 meters / second?

Well, with some more simple physics, we can calculate the potential energy of a penny 321 meters in the air. We need its mass, but I was able to find on the internet that a penny's mass is 2.5 grams ( = .0025 kg

Energy = Force * distance = Mass * Acceleration * distance

Energy = .0025 kg * 321 meters * 9.8 meters/second2 = 7.8645 kg-meters 2 / second2 (kg-meters 2 / second2 is also known as a Joule)

So, at the point in time right before the speeding penny hits the ground, we know it has 7.8645 Joules of energy.

But how does that translate to damage?

Momentum = mass * velocity = .0025 kg * 79 meters / second = .198 kg meters / second

There is a conservation of Momentum, so if a speeding object with x Momentum crashes into an object with 0 momentum, the resulting sums of the objects' momentum after the crash will be x.

So let's assume that the penny's momentum is transferred to someone my size. I am about 108 kg.

.198 kg meters / second = 108 kg * Velocity.

My resulting Velocity could be .0018 meters / second = 1.8 mm / second.

Of course, I would not be pushed down. My head would absorbed part of the Momentum and the rest would end up in the penny bouncing off my head.

I've already spent too much time on this particular blog, so I will leave it at this:

My guess is that the Momentum contained in the falling penny would not be enough to seriously hurt at .198 kg meters / second. I looked at several "ask the physicist" sites and all agree this is not enough to seriously hurt someone.

And, of course, I am ignoring what is probably the most pertinent part of the discussion.
Air resistance on the penny, never allows the penny to get going faster than its terminal velocity. I won't do the calculations here, but if you want to see what they are, check out the site:

According to this is about
11 meters / second.

If everyone agrees that meters / second is not enough to do serious damage, we can certainly say that 11 meters / second would cause even less damage.

So I guess, in a way my co-worker was more correct than I was. Well, I guess you would have to say that he was completely correct and I was basically wrong, although I would have been correct on a planet the size of Earth with no atmosphere.

Maybe the dad should have told his son "Yes, go ahead".

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tyler Cowboy

I got home from work yesterday.

Tyler came up to me and said "Hi, Daddy. I'm going to be a cowboy today because it's Halloween."

I felt shocked because Halloween had really snuck up on me this year. Who knew that it could come up on July 13? I think it was the 90+ degree heat that I had just driven home in that threw me off. The weather is usually pretty cold around Halloween in Denver.

My little boy continued: "And you're Daddy Cowboy and Mommy is Mommy Cowboy and Connor is baby Cowboy."

Unfortunately, I don't own a cowboy hat, so being Daddy Cowboy might be a little hard, but I started to answer "Sweet, Tyler...."

He interrupted "No... my name is 'Cowboy'."

"Oh, ok ... Sweet, Cowboy, where is your hat?"

He ran off to get his cowboy hat before I could add that I did not know where my hat was either. 3 year olds don't walk to get their hats; they run. Or at least when they want to get their hats, they run.

While he was doing that, I climbed into the kitchen and went over to kiss my wife, saying "Hello, Mommy Cowboy."

My fast little boy was already back with his hat and said "No! That's not Mommy Cowboy! That's the Horse. And you're the Cow; And Connor is the Pig." Things change fast in my household.

Living with a 3-year-old has prepared me for such quick life-changing events, so my wife being a horse and my youngest son being a pig did not even phase me. I didn't really want to be a cow, but I've been worse. Besides, chances were pretty strong that I would improve my situation sometime before the day was over.

I leaned down to Connor ("Pig") who was in his pig bouncy chair. If you did not know that pigs could fit in bouncy chairs, you've probably never had a 3 year old and a baby at the same time. Or at least you've never had two boys like mine. "Hello Pig," I said. "Did you have a nice day?"

Pig answered "Grunt grunt grunt". I have such a smart little boy. He is only 3 months old and yet, he didn't lose a beat to play the part his brother had just bestowed upon him only seconds before.

"Daddy," said the little Cowboy, "go upstairs and take off your shoes and change your clothes." That sounded like a good idea to me, so I did that.

Tyler came upstairs with me and I asked if he wanted to go potty on his Cowboy Potty.

"Yes," he said, "because .. because ... Cowboys go PeePee on Cowboy Potties."

He went PeePee on his Cowboy Potty. I changed my clothes, and we both went back downstairs. Apparently, Cowboys are unable to walk down the last 3 steps, because he had to jump them. Cowboys like to jump... they are sort of like Tiggers in that way. He landed, and rolled, looking like a professional stunt man (a stunt man playing a Cowboy). His hat fell off, and he told me "My hat fell off, you silly horse."

I knew my situation would probably improve. I had been promoted to horse. Hurray!

"I'm a horse now?"


"Then I'm going to kiss the Mommy Horse."

"No no no!! She's not a horse, she's a Cow." Poor Mommy had been demoted... oh well ... better her than me. I kissed her anyway. I'm not sure if horses and cows should kiss, but Cowboy didn't seem to mind too much, and he is the expert.

For the rest of the day, Cowboy rode Horse; we all had Cowboy dinner; we played Cowboy trains; we read Cowboy books; the Cow fed the Pig; we went Cowboy potty; we changed into Cowboy jammies; we brushed Cowboy teeth; drank from Sider Man cup(we don't have a Cowboy cup... that was almost a disaster); and did just about every other Cowboy activity you could ever imagine. For the most part, I remained Horse; Mommy remained Cow; and Connor remained Pig.

When it was time for Cowboy bed, I asked Cowboy if he wanted a Cowboy kiss.

"I'm not Cowboy," he told me, "I'm Tyler."

Things change fast in my house.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Is anger a sin?

Jerry's Blog: Is anger a sin?

  1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate.
  2. Theology: Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God or A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.
  3. Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.

The famous (infamous) Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. While not biblical, this list is listed in paragraph 1866 of Catechism of the Catholic Church . So, Catholics believe (and how can 1.07 billion Catholics be wrong?) that anger is a sin.

I am not Catholic. I should not pretend to understand Catholic doctrine, so I guess I should say that my understanding is that Catholicism considers anger a sin.

Different translations replace the word "anger" with the word "wrath". Are "wrath" and "anger" the same? I don't know if Jerry's Blog would or would not consider them the same, but for my discussion I am going to say "yes". The dictionary defines wrath as forceful, often vindictive anger. Wrath is a high degree of anger, and still within the scope of our discussion.

So I say again, Catholicism teaches that Anger is a Sin. Not only would a Catholic say that Anger a sin, but that it is a Deadly Sin (Capital Sin... Unforgivable Sin... Mortal Sin). As a non-Catholic, calling anger a Deadly Sin seems pretty harsh to me considering, as Jerry accurately points out, that Jesus demonstrates anger at least twice. Jesus lived a blameless life... a life without sin. If Jesus got angry and Jesus did not sin, clearly anger is not a sin.

However, Jesus, in his sermon on the Mount (blessed are the poor in spirit ... Etc), also tells us "But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire." - Matthew 5:22

"Liable to the hell of fire" sounds pretty Deadly to me. I'm not sure how to reconcile this particular passage ("every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment") with Jesus (our model of morality) violently overturning carts and wrathfully confronting merchants, but I have to say that I agree with Jerry (and disagree with the Catholic assertion that anger is a Deadly Sin).

Clearly anger is not a sin (Jesus got angry).
Some actions that result as manifestations of anger are clearly sins, but I don't see how we can say the anger itself or even justified actions resulting from anger are sins (Jesus justly attacked people to get his point across)

So, why is anger widely considered a Deadly Sin? There are many examples of destructive anger, but it is important to separate the anger from the resulting action. Or is it?

Anger is a choice we make about a given situation. When my little boy dumps water out of the tub, my initial reaction is anger. I want to yell at him. But, if my heart were truly at peace with God's love, I could react to the situation with humor or kindness or understanding. I don't have to be angry. I am angry because I do not like what Tyler did, and I feel superior enough to him that I am able to pass some sort of judgment on his actions. It is my job to patiently steer him along the path of right and wrong, but that does not have to be done in the spirit of anger.

In other words, anger belongs to the righteous. (I stole that sentence from When I choose anger, I am choosing an emotion that presupposes that I am in some way able to judge others. Judging is not my job, it is God's job.

I am not righteous. I sin everyday. Everyone sins. Every Saint sinned. If you are a human being, you are a sinner. If this were not the case, God would not have sent his only Son to die for our sins. Jesus is righteous. He is God. He passes judgment as he sees fit and therefore is entitled to be angry when he finds merchants in his Father's house. To say I am allowed to be angry because Jesus was angry, isn't really a valid argument.

But what about when we see people hurting other people? I am extremely angry (and sad) when I see terrorist attacks on the news. Certainly, patience and understanding are not the proper response to such heinous crimes. What is wrong with being angry at people who murder or rape or hurt other people? Am I righteous enough to pass judgment on these acts but not righteous enough to pass judgment on a guys who cuts me off in traffic?

So, is anger a Sin? I don't know. I really don't. Reading this whole Blog without any kind of conclusion is enough to make you angry, isn't it?

Just a little side note that doesn't really add to the discussion:
Dante places the wrathful in Terrace 3 of Purgatory where they are punished by walking around in "thick acrid smoke that is darker than night". While unable to see with their eyes, they suffer hallucinatory visions in which they witness examples of meekness (the virtue opposite of anger) and then "see" examples of anger.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Good Day to Die

My MP3 player has been telling me lately that "everyday should be a good day to die". Dave Mathews blurts it out whenever he sings You Never Know. I really like the version I have from his live concert at The Gorge, and its songs have been in my recent play lists quite a bit. I've never been to the Gorge, but it looks just beautiful (I got the concert DVD from the library, so not only was I able to hear the song, but see it as well).

"Everyday should be a good day to die" makes me think of Klingons. Now there was a magnificent race of beings. In a lot of ways I think I would like to be a Klingon, but of course when it comes right down to it, I am probably too much of a wimp. I wonder if Dave Mathews is a Klingon.

So, of course I get to thinking... what have I done today that would make it a "good day to die"? In other words, if I died today, what did I do to spend it in such a way that would make me proud of my last day on Earth?

The answer is ... Predictably ... "not much". I hugged kissed my wife and kids and told them I love them (i love them more than anything). I went to work, and basically made it through the day. I went home, hugged and kissed my wife and kids again. I ate supper ... some very yummy pasta shrimp meal that my wife makes. I played with Tyler. I cuddled and "goooed" with Connor. I read both boys a book or two. I brushed Tyler's teeth and put his jammies on him. Then, I went to Balley's and worked out while listening to my MP3 player (including Dave Mathews) . I came home and blogged a bit. After this I am going to bed.

If I don't wake up tomorrow, will I be in heaven thinking ... "man, I should have made more of my last day on earth" ???

Well, as it turns out, I did make it through the night. I saved this blog as a draft, went to bed, read some, stared at the ceiling contemplating whether it had been "a good day to die".

So, here is the thing: I have a great life. I have a wife and children I love with all my heart. I have a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I am pretty healthy and live in Colorado ... I used to DREAM I would someday live in Colorado. My job is pretty good. Most weekends I spend quality time with my family ... quite often in the mountains. My life is wonderful, but still, most days I do not go to bed with the feeling that the day was worthy of the tag "a good day to die".

Of course, most of Monday through Friday, I spend most of the day getting ready for work, working, coming home from work, working at home, or thinking about what I am going to do at work the next day. I am far from a work-a-holic, at least when I compare myself to other people I know, but still, I spend far much too time in employment mode to consider most days spectacular. And, I don't love my job. I think I used to love it, and it is still very good as far as jobs go, but it is not the sort of job where I get up in the morning excited about going in. It is not the sort of job where I come home at night and think ... "that was fun today, I can't wait to do that again". It is a typical job where I hate Mondays and live for going home on Friday afternoons for the weekend.

That being said, my typical work day has 24 hours in it.
Let's pretend that I get 8 hours of sleep. This is laughable considering it is 4:30 in the morning, I've been up since 3:30 or so, and I probably won't go to back to bed tonight, but let's pretend. That leaves 16 hours in my day.
Now, on a typical day, it probably takes me about 2 hours to get ready for work and travel to / from work. 14 hours left in my day.
I usually spend about 10 hours working a day. Sometimes less, sometimes considerably more. But I think 10 hours is a good average.

That leaves 4 hours a day for myself and my family. Factor in a meal, playing with the kids, letting my wife know I still exist (and that I know she exists), the health club, and my day is pretty much gone. Luckily, quite often I don't sleep, so that gives me a little extra "me" time, but quite often that extra "me" time is spent working or worrying about work.

I am not complaining. I know people who spend more time working (just about everyone in my office) and less time with family. My point is just that, on a typical workday, I just don't have time to do anything extrodinary enough to say "today was a good day to die". It is sad, but unless I find a job that I completely and utterly love, or I become independantly wealthy, and don't have to work, it is just never going to be the kind of life where everyday was the kind of day that I would consider a great last day.

I wonder if anyone out there has that kind of life.

click to show song

Monday, June 27, 2005


Apparently, it is currently cool to Blog. I am not sure I understand the point, but if it is cool, I had probably better do it. Actually, it is completely possible that I missed the window where it was cool, and now it is just plain and blah.
So, what do I want to blog? Perhaps it would be good to put things I think on my blog.

Or maybe, pictures and stories of my kids. That would be cool I think. I do have the cutest kids I've ever met.

I live in Colorado and do hike and camp in some of the most beautiful country in the world, so maybe I should post photos and descriptions of my Colorado Journeys.

And why is the blog better than a web-site to do this?

I admit that the technology is really cool. The low-cost nature appeals to me (this is currently free). We will have to see what I come up with. I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities.

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