Monday, August 28, 2006

I've been yelling at the TV again

(By Erik)

Why aren’t commercials for the Olive Garden even remotely funny? Why is every “joke” they tell completely devoid of humor?

Seriously, next time you see an Olive Garden commercial, please tell me if you think it’s funny. Please limit your responses to 200 words or less.

For some true commercial hilarity, enjoy It’s a Web site featuring TJ and that other guy on the Sonic commercials. It’s really fun. See if you can guess TJ’s favorite drink.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Petition to promote Jerry Lamb to "planet"

(By Erik, with assistance from Jerry Lamb)

As most of you know, the International Astronomical Union yesterday downgraded Pluto to the status of “dwarf planet.”

This diminutive (and, in my opinion, pejorative) classification no longer entitles Pluto to be recognized as a planet, putting it on the level of a glorified asteroid.

No longer can it get 20 percent off of its order at “Planet Sub,” nor will it be eligible for free parking at Planet Hollywood. And John Gray has been forced to rename his bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, But Nobody’s From Pluto Because It’s Not Even A Planet.

We also understand that during this weekend’s Emmy Awards’ after-party Pluto has been “downgraded” from the table with Garry Shandling to the table with Gary Busey.

In light of these developments, we’d like to petition the IAU to upgrade the status of Christian Chronicle advertising manager Jerry Lamb from “non-planet” to “planet.”

(This is Jerry's actual work ID photo — and further proof that he deserves to be his own planet.)

On top of being a world-renowned “swell guy,” we feel that Jerry meets all of the criteria for being a planet.

According to the IAU, a planet is a celestial body that:

1. … is in orbit around the Sun

No problem. Jerry claims that, with few exceptions, he’s been revolving around the sun for years.

2. … has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape.

Jerry has dedicated much of his life to overcoming rigid body forces — the very forces that force most of us to take actions deemed “societally appropriate.” Jerry said that he also had his hydrostatic equilibrium checked recently, and it’s well within “round” parameters. (Although his cholesterol is trending high.)

3. … has cleared its orbital path

Jerry’s done a great job of this. There are plenty of people who refuse to go anywhere near him. He once ran a fellow motorist off the road for incorrectly using her turn signal. Jerry, who is consulting with me as I type this, added, “Yeah, I’ve got a ‘clear orbital path’ — thanks to fiber.” That’s precisely the type of comment that demonstrates why other potential planets steer clear of him.

Please take a few moments to sign this petition by leaving your name (and blood type — optional) in the comment section of this post. Let’s all show our support for Jerry so that he might finally attain the “planet-sized” recognition he so richly deserves.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shoehorns and yak cheese

(By Erik)

I love reporting international news. Here are a couple of snippets from the BBC with links to the full stories:

Yaks say cheese in rural China

Villagers in Langdu, western China, are taking advantage of improved infrastructure and help from NGOs to develop a sustainable yak cheese industry, Simon Montlake reports. …

The village of Langdu is starting to feel the impact. It is a community of ethnic Tibetan yak herders who live in an isolated fir-lined valley not far from the border with the restricted Tibetan Autonomous Region.

EU tunnel crossing ends in farce

Two Egyptian men are awaiting trial in Russia after several attempts to burrow their way under various European borders using nothing but shoehorns.

The men - both believed to be in their 20s - started in Belarus and dug a tunnel under the border with Poland.

But once in Poland, they lost their way, ending up where they started - in front of barbed wire.

Thinking they were now looking across the German border, the pair did the trick again.

But instead of getting to Germany, they ended up back in Belarus.

Minutes later, the two men were arrested by Belarussian border guards and later sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

From the home office ...

(By Erik)

I've been with The Christian Chronicle for five years and I've received numerous blessings from it.

And now I have a great office, too.

I'm in Bobby Ross' former office (which more formerly was Lindy Adams' office). Lindy and I agree that it's one of the nicest spaces on campus. Bobby's moved next door to Bailey's former office and Tamie Ross is in my old office.

Jeanie helped me pick out the wall color ("Sahara Sand") and the border. The couch is from Savannah, Ga., and is the last remnant of my bachelorhood. Jeanie was happy to get it out of the house.

My father-in-law picked this particular decoration out for me at a garage sale. GO DAWGS!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The world at our dorm steps

(By Erik)

This year we’ve got some new students at Oklahoma Christian University from the nation of Rwanda. Most of them arrived on campus recently. They’re here through a scholarship program that was announced when the Rwandan president visited OC earlier this year.

The students who got here earlier in the day were treated to a lunch of chicken and steak fajitas in the student center.

Here’s Allen Thompson, on the right (not the baby), talking to one of the Rwandan students. Allen is from Ethiopia and is actively involved in the missions organizations on campus. Allen’s got a great story, too. You can read some of it in this story about the film “Invisible Children.” Allen is mentioned near the end of the story.

Dan Hays, our men’s basketball coach, was one of the first people to greet the new students. He kept asking them how tall they were and if they knew what a “free throw” was. (Just kidding!)

I love this photo. Mike O’Neal, OC’s president, introduces one of the new students to his grandson.

Here’s Michael Cady, the controller for the school, with a couple of the students. Michael and his entire family (brother, sister, their spouses and kids, plus his dad and mom) were in Belize earlier this year as part of the mission team I joined, coordinated by Windle and Barbara Kee. You can read more about that here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Summer Vacation (or some semblance thereof)

(By Jeanie)

OK, my husband is hounding me to write something that he could post on the blog, so here goes …

The life of a resident is interesting. When you combine the lifestyle of a resident with that of a roving international reporter you sometimes end up with what I will call organized chaos (some would say it is more like mass chaos).

Well, I guess my summer vacation actually started in April when Erik’s family came out to Oklahoma. We went to the zoo, the arts festival and generally showed them around OKC. With residency you get three weeks of vacation, this was my second week.

In May I took my third week. Erik had been in Zimbabwe, so he could not take too much time off of work. We did get to go to Dallas and see the School Book Depository. Following Dallas we spent the weekend seeing most of my family.

Then there was June. I was back on the wards. I won’t go into too many details, but it was a rough month. It was very busy. You get four days off and are on call six days of the month.

Then comes the magical transformation. In July I became an “upper level.” I started on an elective in Hematology/Oncology (kids with cancer and blood problems). This was not my first choice, but I won’t go into that either right now.

I was in my good friend Karen’s wedding the first weekend of July, and at the end of the month I got to go to Diabetes Camp (Camp Endres). I had a great time. I went trying to decide if diabetes was something that I was interested in pursuing as a profession. (Endocrinology is the field — and they really do take care of more than just diabetes.)

My cabin was a group of 15 12- and 13-year-old boys. These guys were amazing. They really tried to manage their disease. I was there to teach them, help them adjust their insulin and monitor their blood sugars. It was very hot and my good friend from residency Katherine and I went together. I wished that I could have stayed all week. I really missed the kids after I came back. It did make me feel like I had a summer.

Now it is August, and the real work has set in. I am in the nursery right now, which is probably the hardest rotation for me. You never know what to expect. We also have to carry this phone that rings until you answer it. It could be a nurse asking if a baby can go home, but it also could be the OB’s saying they have a 25-weeker (or worse, twins — or triplets) that are on their way.

Well that wraps up my summer vacation. Hope this is interesting to someone!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Not so Burkina Faso, mister!

(By Erik)

Jeanie just got back a few days ago from diabetes camp. She spent the better part of a week counseling and testing kids with diabetes — and she loved it.

I’m VERY proud of her, by the way. I don’t get to say it much here, but what she does constantly amazes me. I lucked out in the spouse department.

(Several of you have felt compelled to remind me of that.)

Anyway, while she was gone I actually turned to housecleaning as a means of occupying myself. I finally sorted through some boxes full of stuff my parents brought when they visited us last November. It’s all stuff they had to box up when they moved from Macon, Ga., to Spring Hill, Tenn.

I found a bunch of small flags in one of the boxes. I collected them when I was in high school. I went to a bunch of “model United Nations” events (since the football team was full). If you never had the great pleasure of going to a model U.N., you basically pretend you’re an ambassador and you represent your country on various committees, etc.

Yeah, it’s a thrill a minute. I know that’s what you’re thinking. But back in high school I couldn’t get enough of it. It gave me an appreciation of foreign countries — and a collection of small flags.

Now that I’ve been able to travel outside the country to cover international church news, I have a separate collection of little flags of the countries I’ve been to, and I sort of have this rule that I can’t buy a flag until I’ve been to the country that flag represents.

So now I have this whole host of nations I feel oddly compelled to visit to “earn” the flags I purchased back in high school. Just for fun (and because Jeanie’s asleep and I’m again trying to occupy myself) here’s a list of the places I need to go:

Burkina Faso — “Where?” is usually the response I get when I mention this landlocked country in western Africa, bordering on Ghana. I “represented” Burkina in a model U.N. in Washington in 11th grade. I was in the International Monetary Fund meeting. Each country got a number of votes based on how much money it put into the fund. The United States got 6,771 votes (or some number like that). I got one. We got to visit the Burkina Faso embassy and talk to an ambassador. She spoke French.

I really do plan to visit Burkina someday. Jeanie’s friends Andy and Melissa are missionaries there. I’ve gotten to know Andy, mostly through e-mails. Great guy.

Denmark — I collected all the Scandinavian flags at some point. I’d love to experience Copenhagen (the city, not the tobacco product).

Germany — I took two years (zwei jahre) of German in college, but have never set foot in the country. I have been to Austria, though.

Greece — There’s tons of stuff I’d love to see here. Greece is the word.

Holy See Papal State — Yeah, I actually represented the Vatican at some sort of model U.N. I kept trying to tell the other Catholic countries to do what I said. They didn’t listen.

The Vatican actually has its own government, situated in downtown Rome. Not sure if you have to show your passport to get in or not.

When we did our Missions Sunday at church I think Neil Arter carried this flag. It was listed as one of the “unreached countries.” I’m guessing it would be pretty hard to plant a Church of Christ in the Holy See.

Iceland — We had some friends in Macon from Iceland. They went to visit and came back with T-shirts that said “Hard Rock Café: Reykjavik.” I’ve wanted to go ever since.

Israel — Maybe not the safest place at the moment, but I would love to go there and visit the Churches of Christ in Nazareth and Jerusalem.

Latvia — I have no idea how I got this flag. And I was SO CLOSE back in 2002. I went to a conference in Estonia, which is next door. Along with Lithuania, these countries are the Baltic states, formerly part of the Soviet Union. Estonia was great, by the way.

Malawi — I’ve been hearing about this little African country since I was 5. Our church in Macon supports Jimmy Judd, a longtime missionary here. I think this country also has the highest concentrations of Churches of Christ in all of Africa. I definitely want to see it for myself.

Norway — This is my hands-down, number-one, gotta’ go there country. My great-grandfather came over in 1910, and I think it would be really cool to lead a contingent of Tryggestads back in 2010. Maybe we can even find the little farming village we’re named after. We’ll see.

Sweden — Norway’s next-door neighbor. They kind of view Norwegians like Georgians view Alabamians.

Yemen — This would no doubt be the hardest flag to "earn." Not the easiest country to get into (or out of)!

I represented Yemen (next to Oman and Saudi Arabia) in a model U.N. in Macon, just a few months after the first Gulf War ended. The other countries on my committee were trying to pass a resolution punishing Iraq and demanding reparation payments.

Representing Yemen, I was the only voice of opposition to this. I kept trying to tell the other countries that if they came down too hard on Iraq, it would only lead to a second Gulf War. That's not exactly what ended up happening in real life, but still ...

I think I also told the representaive of Burkina Faso that he was being a dink. (He was another kid from my school. And he was.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Shifting gears in our careers

(By Erik and Jeanie)

We would like to take this opportunity to announce that, effective tomorrow, we will be resigning our jobs at the Christian Chronicle and OU Medical Center to enter the exciting world of automotive sales.

We’ll be working for Big Red Sports and Imports in scenic Norman, Okla. After doing the math, we’ve discovered that they pay their employees a minimum of $69 per hour.

If we both put in 40-hour weeks, our combined income for the next fiscal year will be about $291,000.

Plus, they've got dental.

Though neither of us have a lot of experience selling cars, it is our understanding that Big Red has a pretty liberal policy on such matters.

So come on down and see us, friends. That’s Big Red Sports and Imports, I-35 … NORMAN!

(Special thanks to Tamie for the link to the photo!)