So long...For now

I have a few minutes to spare before a team meeting and thought I should pre-explain why I am not going to be posting for a few weeks. I suppose it would be helpful to explain with which team I am preparing to meet.

On Wednesday morning I am joining the 5 other Colorado Springs members of our Ukraine Camp team for the early morning ride to DIA. From there we will go to Chicago to meet the other member and hop the pond. We will be in Kerch, Crimea, Ukraine for 2 weeks running a camp for disadvantaged/orphaned children. I've never been to Europe and I wish that I could savor the time leading up to our departure. Unfortunately, as the coordinator for all the other international teams from our organization, I have been trying to get 3 weeks ahead. This leaves little time for enjoying my preparation time. I have been assured by more experienced team leaders that the kids are nothing but delightful and I can't wait to play a little soccer (probably with the youngsters as the older teenagers would wipe the pitch with me). It will be long, yet exceedingly fulfilling days of trying to see God's children as he sees them.

Please pray for us.


My Father's Day/Anniversary Tie-in

I know I was remiss in not blogging about my wife for our recent 4th anniversary, but sometimes a heart full of love doesn't translate to a mind full of text. Due to last Friday's (my actual anniversary) 12-hour stomach bug, we celebrated our 4th and Father's Day on back-to-back days over the weekend.
This made for an interesting anniversary dynamic; a day of being babied while vomiting, a day of trying to be vaguely romantic and then a day of being honored as a Father. Despite this, I was able to reflect on my life as a husband and a daddy. I came to the conclusion - as I always do - that even with the frustrations and quirks of daily living, I wouldn't dream of changing a thing. When I get home from a tough day and my boy says "dada" in the way only he can followed by his slobbery imitation of the sound of my truck and my beautiful bride asks how my day was - even if my only answer is "fine" - I know God's blessed me far beyond what I deserve.
Thanks for loving me guys!


Karma hates hunters

I'm not trying to be grotesque, but this picture needed to be seen.

This is the deer that my boss hit with his car this afternoon; an event which, other than the inconvenience, was not a big deal. Once I found out that Lars was OK and that the deer didn't suffer very long, my mind and blogger's imagination began to wander. Here is the strange irony of this situation.

I'm a hunter...I've spent countless hours in the past 4 years sleeping on the cold ground, sneaking through the woods, hauling heavy loads over miles at a time and generally working hard to be good at my chosen pass time...I can eat a ridiculous volume of wild game meat...I saved money and Visa rewards for 18 months to buy a quality deer/elk rifle...I sacrificed other things that I wanted to obtain my cammies, boots and other apparel...and yet I only have a small 4-point buck and a single turkey to my credit.

Lars is a nearly retired foreign national who cannot even own a gun...his health precludes him from nearly all athletic activities short of moderate walking...he eats cultured meals at nice restaurants...and he plows a burgeoning 8-10 point buck (as the picture shows, the buck is still in velvet and his rack is not fully formed for the season) with his Buick - a car he was just about to get rid of - on a city street next to a Carl's Jr.

Where is the justice?


Podcast Superstar

I just finished listening to the most recent Ryan Dobson podcast for Kor Ministries. It was State of the Man Thursday (a little late due to Ryan's bout with food poisoning) and his special guest was none other that my great friend Marshall. I have known him for a long time and have always known him as a witty, charming and funny guy. That said, I hadn't really noticed how great of a voice he has. Check out this podcast and listen to how well his voice and presentation comes across. Also, if you get a chance, stop by his blog for information about supporting he and Lindsay at OC International.

Update: I completely forgot to mention that Ryan's podcasts are also available on my audio player on the right tool bar. It will alwasy play his most recent, which is currently Marshall's show.


Futbolito is the term that the Spanish speakers with whom I did landscaping used for any small field or indoor soccer - literally meaning "little soccer." It is also the most accurate description of what transpired at last night's game. There was a lot of futbolito played - the futbol by the other team while we supplied the -ito. We had 5 players (1 short of a full side) so we played a man down with no subs. For the second time in 3 games they stopped counting our opponent's goals at 15. On paper I did OK, with 2 goals and 2 assists, but overall I was very dissatisfied with the performance. I must have had 10 horrible passes where I plain missed my target completely. Slicky had some truly inspired runs, (I haven't checked with Stacy but I think he also has 2 goals/2 assists) but I could tell his heart wasn't in it at all. I really don't blame him as he has experienced much more legitimate competition than we were able to muster. Their numbers and general talent advantage made the game into an odd-man shooting drill for their strikers.

I may be invited by last night's opponent to join them for next season due almost completely to my fitness level and effort. It was a good confidence builder to be wanted but I have no intention of playing without Slick. Stay tune to see if we join them or transfer to a higher level house team for next season.


Who really cares about Mexico? I do

I have no intention of boring my few loyal readers with the specifics of the 300+ page immigration reform bill that is being debated in the Senate currently but I must expose an interesting dichotomy inherent in the issue.

Though I am fully aware that not all illegal immigrants are Mexican, it is a high enough percentage to use Mexico as an example to prove a general rule. I am also going to state up front – even though it will become very clear as I lay out my argument - that I am a fan of Latin America's culture, language and most of all its people. This is not a racial issue.

Most people who argue about immigration reform focus on its effect (both positive and negative) on the United States. It obviously makes more sense to develop American law with American interests in mind, but that isn’t the angle from which I am going to approach this post. US law aside, the argument usually divides “bleeding heart liberals” from “cold-hearted conservatives”; ie compassion vs. rule-of-law. I don’t think anyone whose read my blog would have any trouble guessing which side I tend toward, but I contend that rule-of-law is actually more compassionate as well. Here’s my rational:

There are somewhere between 12 and 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States as of today. Since we are using Mexico as an example for statistical purposes, let’s assume, based upon Pew Hispanic Center estimates, that roughly 60% of these are Mexican nationals. That gives us a minimum in the neighborhood of 7 million illegal Mexican citizens in the US.

Next number; estimates on remittances (foreign nationals sending money to their country of origin) to Mexico are as follows:

2003 - $12 billion
2006 - $23 billion

That is nearly a doubling of US dollars leaving the country in just 3 years. Obviously this figure also includes remittances by legal immigrants and naturalized citizens who send money to Mexico as well. Still, if the per capita remittance for the 7 million people is $2000/year (not a great number from my personal experience with the labor segment of the immigrant population), that’s $14 billion and more than half of the annual total for all Mexican immigrants.

Where does the compassion come in? Mexico is a nation of just under 110 million people with an average hourly manufacturing wage of $2.63 (barely 1/10 the US rate) despite being rich in oil, minerals, agriculture and having a potentially world-class tourist industry. Unfortunately, these natural resources have been managed by the elites in such a way that they only nominally benefit the common citizen. Many of the Mexicans not blessed with “noble birth,” but have motivation, work ethic and responsibilities that require an income, flee to the US where at worst they can make double the average wage available south of the border. They live frugally and join their 7 million compatriots sending $14 billion back to those they have promised to support.

How does this concern those of us here in the States who have compassion on these people whose primary motivation is an honorable one? The answer is this: the $23 billion that goes to Mexico has become that nation’s top source of income, thereby allowing the leadership in Mexico to continue ignoring the needs of their population. Which of the following is more compassionate?

1. Not close a porous yet treacherous border so that some 7 million desperate people can roll the dice, hoping to taste a shadow of the American dream.


2. Utilize the ingenuity of the American spirit to seal our southern border, deport those who are found to be foreign felons, revamp the criteria for legal immigration (to allow MORE hard working Mexicans to come legally) and put the burden on the Mexican elites to allow the riches of their nation to make life better for a much higher percentage of their population.

If we do not at least make an effort towards the latter we are, in effect, supporting the unjust disparity of wealth in a nation that is on the cusp of fulfilling the economic promise its wonderful people deserve. By not closing our border, we provide the method by which the ultra-wealthy of Mexico maintain the status quo.

UPDATE: Yesterday, soon after this posted, the Senate voted for cloture (ending debate and bringing the bill to a vote) and came up significantly short of the 60 votes needed. Public sentiment seems a bit schizophrenic in that a majority wants the borders closed and the law enforced while still favoring a regularization of the 12-20 million already here.

The bottom line is this: If the Senate would put a serious and irrevocable effort into closing the border to illegal entry, many of those on my side of the debate would look favorably upon being generous to those already here. What is unacceptable is the idea that we give blanket regularization to millions without any honest effort to stop the next 30 million. In 1986 amnesty was granted to 3 million with empty promises to close the border and that gave us the number we have today.


Thank the Lord for the Kop!

I have be stewing about this all day but haven't had the time to post about it until now. Last night, the indoor soccer league where Slick and I play was witness to the greatest choke in sports history. After scoring at ridiculously frequent intervals during the first half and taking a 9-1 lead against the top team in our division, our CSSC Bullets house team gave up 10 unanswered and lost 13-10. It was the saddest display of soccer - even for Americans - I have ever even heard about. Slick had 4 goals and probably had a good chance at 2-3 more. I played OK in my new boots, which gave me much better traction on the uniquely squishy surface, but I re-tweaked whatever nerve in my leg is responsible for the functioning of my lower body. In the next few days I'll stretching like a yoga master to try to avoid this being a continuing issue.

To add insult to injury, our wives (and my son) were in attendance and were regaled with the jeering of the opposing teams fans. The only consolation was the song in my head. I just kept hearing "Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart. You'll never walk alone" as sung by a stadium full of Liverpudlians. This isn't due to my status as an instant super-fan, but rather that I had been screwing around with this song on my computer all day yesterday. If you would like a feel for what I was hearing, check the audio player on the right side bar and select matthewgaw's play list.

We are nearing the end of our season and are currently working like true managers to build a higher quality team that we can make into a challenger for next season.


To a Soccer Audience of One

It is relatively rare that I write a post explicitly for only one reader (that's what emails are for), but I think it is best that I make this public. To give background on this announcement, I mentioned previously that Slick has recently returned to C. Springs from places abroad and that I was excited to have a soccer fan in town with whom I can play and follow the sport. This weekend while watching a great English Premier League 2006-07 recap show, Aaron mentioned that he was going to have to make an official decision on "his team." I had not really thought about that previously, but it is a given fact that having a side to cheer for (and thus a few others to cheer against) adds a bit more passion and enjoyment of the sport. With that in mind, I am going to preempt him...

Slicky, I am formally and publicly announcing that I have selected my team and I have only one thing to say...

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm there's a golden sky
And the sweet, silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.
You'll never walk alone.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.
You'll ne-ever walk alone.

I know that it is a little cheesy to pick a team that has been at the top of the sport during recent years and become instantly passionate about it, but I have the following reasons for choosing Liverpool F.C.
  1. My Grandma and the rest of my extended family on that side are Liverpudlians. I would rather be thought a fool than cross my Grandmother who survived the Bombing of Britain in WWII as an independent teenager. I figure if I have to pick a sports franchise in a nation I've never visited, it may as well be in a city to which I have an ancestral relation(Don't ask about Everton F.C., also from Liverpool).
  2. Though I did enjoy watching Man U. play in the Champions League, that would really have been cheesy. I can still pull for EPL in international play.
  3. While a good team, LFC did place 3rd in the Premiership last season, making them suitably mediocre within the top tier.

Not exactly the greatest of reasons to pull for a team, but most sports fans who cheer for a non-local team do so based upon a vague childhood recollection or a fondness for the colors.

Update: I had seen this in the news, but had forgotten about it until I just heard it on World Soccer Daily (the greatest free podcast on the web). Liverpool's fans have just been named the "worst fans in the world" and I am apparently joining their thuggish ranks.


Late Hunting Congrats

I must apologize to the Sherman boys for not getting to this sooner...not that they read this blog regularly, but it's the principle of the thing.

As you can see above, all three harvested (yes, that's a hunting euphemism for killed) a bear while in Canada this past month. Though it's hard to tell by looking at the pictures, all three bears were taken by bow in the same week. Timmy (top) got his first and was elated to learn that his big 350 lb boar scored in the record books (determined by skull measurements). Next Big Mike (center) - otherwise known as Mr Sherman - showed Tim he definitely still has it(even after retirement) by sticking a 360 lb bear. While the head measured smaller, it was still a record book animal. As their hunting time wound down Mikey Pikey (bottom), not wanting to go home empty handed, got a smaller bear just ahead of the snow storm.

Nice work fellas!

Also, on the other side of the continent, 11 year old Jamison Stone showed some serious guts in shooting - with a pistol no less - what I believe is the largest wild boar taken in North America. Check this picture out and remember he is standing, not kneeling behind this thing.

It took 8 shots to finally bring down the big pig which tipped the scales at about 1050 lbs and was almost 10 ft long. Pretty amazing, huh?