I always have to explain why we consider it a treat to go to the actual sea when we live so close to the beach, but here it is again. Our beach is on essentially a shipping channel. The water is good and relatively clean (sand and seaweed being common contaminants) but it's not the same as the open water beaches.
Usually we go down south to the Black Sea but yesterday we went north to the Sea of Azov. I'd never been to Azov and am kicking myself for not doing it until now. We went with the whole staff and volunteer team. Some pictures.
We were on a cape with a beach that spanned a long linear distance and I think we literally doubled the size of the crowd with our arrival... that's a long way of saying it was empty.
We never did get confirmation either way whether this whole was designed to be a toilet by the previous occupants. Poor Jenya.
This is... not what it looks like. Russian tradition. This a wood burning tea-maker with a small furnace down the center with a water tank on the outside.
Sarah with Cam. I didn't purposely make sure that Cam's huge melon was strategically blocking Sarry's slowly expanding baby bump.
Lately we've been working with Campbell on his talents in the area of the visual arts - specifically photography. He shows real promise with an eye for a good shot but he still struggles with a few of the basics. Here are some examples...
I know this one is his right away due to the telltale finger shaped shadow across the upper left. Too bad, it was well aimed.
This one on the other hand has pretty good lighting (ie. no finger) but he both struggles with the aim and the traditional concept of other people's personal space.
From an artistic standpoint this one is interesting as he utilized the flash to wash out the subject for effect but unfortunately he succeeded in annoying his father and lost his camera privileges for a few minutes.
Honestly this is a cool picture and made even more so in the fact that he actually asked the ceiling fan to hold that pose. This shows excellent vision and foresight.
On a different subject Cam has been working on his bike-riding skills and with the children of many employees and volunteers around, this is vital. Unfortunately there are only 4 kids bikes (a 2-wheeler, a medium trike and 2 little trikes) and they get filled up pretty fast. Cam seems to have the hang of the adult bike mainly because his low center of gravity makes it more stable for him than everyone else. You wouldn't think it would be that easy to flip a 3 wheeled bike but it happens all the time. Here's a clip of it.
I have yet another post from Slick to recycle - this one concerning the same WSD debate that garnered 35+ comments when I posted on it. If you're just checking in for the first time in while skip this one and go to Sarah's post (next one down). It's original and much more important.
Pride Cometh Before A Fall: "On Friday, the top U.S. soccer radio show and podcast, World Soccer Daily, shockingly announced that its broadcast that day would be its last. As a regular listener (and occasional emailer) to the show over the last several years, I was severely disappointed at the news.
For those of you who haven't listened to the show, it was clearly the best show of its kind in the U.S. and in many parts of the world. The show would broadcast for 2 hours everyday about the sport, offering news, opinions, taking calls, and in general, educating people in this country about the sport. The show had world-class guests and talked almost on a daily basis to leading members of the global media, international star players, first team managers from European teams, and even referees. The show was one of the most downloaded sports podcasts on iTunes. In short, this was no amateur show. It was the authority in this country and largely responsible for growing the game in the U.S. after 7-odd years on the air.
About five months ago, the founder and host, Steven Cohen, made some very controversial and in some cases, incorrect statements about the Hillsborough Disaster on or around the time of its 20th anniversary. For those of you who don't know, the Hillsborough Disaster happened in 1989 and resulted in 96 people being crushed to death (from compressive asphyxia)...all Liverpool fans. However, although he half-heartedly recanted his incorrect statements, as a life-long Chelsea fan (and despiser of Liverpool) he still maintained the simple point that 'he feels that anytime - not just at Hillsborough - when people are crushed to death by their fellow man, those who were part of the crowd must accept some measure of responsibility' (taken from Matt's summary of his stance on his blog). Matt has crafted a wonderful post on this topic, and I'd suggest you read his blog if you'd like even more information on this controversy. Even though an investigation (The Taylor Report) into this tragedy concluded that 'failure of Police control' was the primary cause, I completely agree with Steven's simple point or opinion. In fact, I don't see how any reasonable person could disagree with that statement - it's common sense and fairly obvious.
The Death Spiral
'It's not what you say, it's how you say it'. In my opinion, the show would still be on the air if not for what happened next. Instead of sincerely apologizing for his factual misstatements and dropping the issue, Steven, the host, continued to add fuel to the fire. He was insensitive, he went on rants, he published emails and disparaged those who disagreed with him on the air...so much so that I stopped listening for a few weeks when it all happened. However, Steven isn't the only one to blame. More often then not it was in response to angry calls or emails to the show from people that were wound too tightly. At first, it was in response to his original comments but it quickly got out of control to a point where people were arguing about the previous argument and not really about the point at hand. My point is, both sides continued the debate until it escalated into a dangerous, irrelevant, 'pissing contest' involving the FBI (threats to people's safety) and many people boycotting the show. There were a few groups that went after the show's sponsors, but in the end the show stopped airing due to Steven's concerns for his and his family's safety.
Although I'm not really going to offer up my opinion on who I think was right and who was wrong (because both sides were both right and wrong at the same time), I'll offer up my one observation. This weekend I had a lot of time to think about this issue while painting my fence and ultimately I concluded it was a classic example of the following:
- Sometimes it's better to do the right thing rather then to be right
As many people have experienced, I feel that both sides in this argument were blinded by their desire to be right at the expense of doing the right thing. Neither side took the high road. If, at any point, either side would have chosen to do the right thing in the way they handled this situation, it would never have gotten this far. In addition, there were many cases where people on both sides of the debate thought they were doing they right thing but lost sight of the bigger, more important picture. As a result, one side was victorious but everyone (both sides, the listeners, the sport, the sport in this country) ended up losing. How neither side could see that coming can only be attributed to one factor: pride.
While searching for Proverbs 16:18 at the start of this post, I stumbled across a blog called 'Sheri's Thoughts On God'. In June of this year she made a post about a sermon given on the topic of pride. Quite frankly, the story she tells is eerily similar to this one. Her pastor 'reminded us that much of the world is in conflict, and for one single reason: pride. Peace, he said, requires humility. But pride demands justice - or what we individually decide is justice.' I couldn't help but be reminded of Jesus' silence from the time he was captured in the garden to his crucifixion.
It's funny...in the end what struck me is not who was right or wrong, who won, or whether or not the show is still on the air. What I'll take away from the situation is a profound lesson learned by observing other people's (thankfully) mistakes. Or, to put it more simply, a reminder of the old saying 'pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall' (Proverbs 16:18).
I've decided to venture back into the blogosphere, this time more as a therapeutic means for myself. It is so much easier to keep the hard lessons of life and the harsh realities of life private, but then again there is something to purging it once in a while. I also know that we have some prayer warriors out there and knowing that our concerns could be covered in prayer is also reassuring.
Many of you already know, but others do not, that Matt and I are expecting to have another pip squeak enter into our home the end of February. We've been hoping to expand our family, but were unsuccessful earlier in the year as I had a miscarriage in the springtime. Knowing how difficult this was for us and how painful (yet cleansing) it was to talk about it, we've held off on our news of this little one.
It has been a trying few months for us - a roller coaster of emotions as complications have visited us once again. Thankfully our little one is doing well, heart is very strong and is already practicing dance moves, but I've developed an unwelcome visitor, a pooling of blood that seems to be getting bigger and threatening to detach the cozy little sac that junior is in. I of course am getting conflicting advice from the doctors here and the doctors back home as to what should be done. The doctors at home are saying that it's a waiting game and that there is no medicine that they would prescribe.
If there is one reoccurring theme God has been teaching me this year it's been living out faith and trusting in Him. These phrases get tossed around so much in our Christian culture that I forgot what it meant to actually live it. He has put me in positions of complete helplessness forcing me to grow in these areas. It's not fun. It's painful. It's scary. There are times of hopelessness. And then, there are times of reassurance.
Yesterday, we decided to go to church even though it wasn't Christmas or Easter. (A whole other topic I won't go into on this one) Since I only can gather a fraction of what is being said and my attention span of a church service is a maximum of an hour and a half vs. three hours, I started to just read my Bible. I was thankful God honored this and he began filling me with peace with lots of verses from Psalms. One that stuck out to me particularly was Psalm 112:7 "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Some may take this as God rescuing us from bad situations - if only we will trust in Him. That if bad things happen then we must not have had the right amount of faith. But God spoke to me differently. In my own paraphrasing (because I've yet to actually hear God in a loud voice) he told me "Sarah, you have much fear that bad news is coming. If you would trust in all that I am... that I am all that you need... that I alone will satisfy your every desire, then you will have no fear of bad news. No matter the outcome, you will be filled in every way."
Do I have this kind of trust and faith? Absolutely not. So where is the peace? In knowing that my God is able and wanting to get me to that point.
Our time here in Ukraine is coming to an end. Many have asked what will be next, and quite honestly we haven't a clue. Once again we find ourselves in our helpless state of living in trust. Due to the economic hardships that many organizations have encountered, Matt will not be returning to a position with Global Action. The realities of a monthly mortgage and other bills and needed doctors visits will be coming quickly.
So why do I feel the need to post something so uplifting? It is definitely not to make you feel sorry for us or especially not to ask for any financial help. In fact, those are two reasons why we tend to keep these hard times to ourselves. Maybe it's pride... call it what you may. But God has really been speaking to me lately about taking that step of faith that first requires becoming vulnerable. If I truly believe that He is going to do something through all of this, and hopefully most of that will be changing my mindset and heart, I need to first let you know what He has to start with. I don't want to hold back glory given to God through any of these circumstances, so here I am being vulnerable. We love you all enough that we want you to be a part of the bad as well as the good. Please lift us up with your prayers as we are more human than we want to be.
****Note: This post is rife with links which will only work if you are on the page itself (ie. not a blog reader)
I decided to wait a few hours before I posted on this subject for the sake of trying to gain perspective. Even if you are not a football fan please read this as it is more about free speech and culture than sports.
Yesterday was the last broadcast of the World Soccer Daily radio show/podcast, a program I have listened to for a few years and about which I have posted several times over that period. Host Steven Cohen announced that the decision was based upon threats to himself, his staff and his family by Liverpool fans.
He got crosswise with several official LFC supporters groups over a period of years in which he said some pretty controversial things about the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 people were crushed to death by their fellow fans. His opinions were in part based on his impression of Liverpool fan's involvement in football hooliganism during the 70's and 80's and also the Heysel Stadium deaths which also involved LFC fans. These were the origins of the rift between Steven and LFC but in the past few months it has gotten much larger than that.
Liverpool supporters groups began a boycott about 5 months ago after Steven made some demonstrably false statements that he was forced to retract. It involved people contacting WSD's sponsors and asking them to either support what Cohen was saying (and thus be the subject of a boycott) or pull their sponsorship from his show. It was largely effective and many major sponsors did withdraw their support.
Since then the boycott has turned to getting Cohen off the air completely - which was achieved this week. So that's the situation and here are my thoughts....
Whatever off the cuff statements he may have made, Steven has been consistently clear on several points about Hillsborough:
- He has always expressed sympathy for the victims and their families
- He acknowledges that Hillsborough justice groups are right in their suggestions that both Hillsborough stadium officials and the Sheffield Police bear most of the responsibility for the tragedy
- He doesn't believe that the fans whose desire to get into the stadium eventually led to their compatriots' deaths acted maliciously and purposely caused the tragedy
- He does feel that anytime - not just at Hillsborough - people are crushed to death by their fellow man, those who were part of the crowd must accept some measure of responsibility
Over the past few years on WSD these have been consistent points in all discussions about the topic. His claims may not be true or substantiated by the facts but they are, in reality, only his opinions.
Steven has claimed that the success of this boycott is a victory for censorship and a defeat for freedom of expression.
I cannot agree with this assessment. Steven Cohen was free to share his beliefs about Hillsborough and in the same way LFC supporters groups are free to share their displeasure in the form of a boycott and contacting sponsors. WSD has been condemned by some of the biggest names in the football world including Liverpool FC itself, Chelsea FC, Heineken (main Champion's League sponsor), 4-4-2 Magazine and others. It's hard to gauge the importance of this but it certainly gives credibility to the boycott side of the debate. That said, when it comes to actual freedom of expression, neither the government nor any other regulatory institution was involved (or asked to be involved) in any way.
If this situation had ended as a battle between two instances of free expression then so be it, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Steven and Kenny [Hassan, Steven's co-host] have made the claim that threats of violence have been made against them and their families. From the other side I have read that those on the Liverpool supporters' side have faced similar threats from WSD loyalists. Steven and Kenny have read out hateful and anti-Semitic emails purported to come from LFC supporters. "Tony from New Mexico," a former regular caller to the show, says that he has an FBI case number as proof of the threats he has received based on an on-air falling out with the hosts.
These things are unacceptable but I have no way of substantiating any of these claims. Thus, while the claims of threats are relevant to the truth behind the situation, it doesn't really do anything for the discussion.
After all of that, here is what I think....
Based on years of listening I suspect (though I've never met him) that Steven can be a snarky and unpleasant kind of person if you get on his bad side. Once the LFC contingent did so in trying to get a retraction, it turned into a tit for tat conflict that spiraled down to where we find ourselves today.
I think that Steven's opinion on Hillsborough is a bit muddled and intermixed with a life long dislike of Liverpool as a place and football team. He makes some valid points but he is also prone to making outlandish statements which are not designed to be constructive.
I hate the idea that this involved actual anti-Semitism or intentional and blatant attacks on the memory of 96 innocents who died but I also think that people need to get thicker skin. Just because you dislike what a person says doesn't mean it needs to turn into a 'campaign' or claim that your ethnicity is under assault.
I also think that LFCNY and all those involved in this campaign have done themselves and all of us US footy fans a great disservice. This is the only show of its type. Even in the UK I don't know of another daily show, let alone one that could get the quality of guests that were regulars on WSD.
I relied on it for much of my football education - not just of the current game but also the history and tradition. They have robbed many ardent fans of an outlet and a forum. It seems to me that because these types of supporters groups have been able to silence dissent so effectively in the UK, it was inconceivable that someone might break the code of silence in the US.
I'm not crying about their demise - Steven made his bed and he has to sleep in in - but I enjoyed their program and will miss it. That's moderation. I'm not going nuts on either side and isn't that where most of us usually stand on things?
Tammi and Slicky, you are free to vent here about LFC supporters and the situation.
I just sat down at the computer a bit ago and laughed when I saw this....
Not seeing the humor yet? Because I'm a kind and generous soul (who wants you all to stand in awe of the comic gold I supply occasionally), here's a close-up of the particular section:
Really?!? We're saved! The sale of existing homes in the US has jumped all the way to two! What a relief. I was starting to get a bit concerned about how I might find employment in the current economy but apparently I have nothing to fear. Plus, even if we were to encounter financial trouble, I'm sure our house could be one of the two sold off nationwide per month.
Warning: The following is a test of Blogger's new feature which allows me to read something online and then immediately (in 3 clicks or less) transfer it to my blog - right down to the font type and size - to pass it off as my own content. In retrospect I should have started with a post that isn't quite so obviously written by someone with a different name than my own.
I actually don't know how this will work but this is good post; worthy of being re-posted.
Legal Trouble: "This email went out at work today in connection with the news that the NCAA has revoked all wins associated with Memphis' Final Four run in the 2008 NCAA tournament. The university and I plan on appealing the ruling. I'll keep you posted. Otherwise, no comment.
It has come to our attention that the winner, Aaron Sudduth, unethically achieved a victory.
Aaron’s suspected involvement in allowing another student to take Derrick Rose’s ACT test for him, allowed the Memphis Tigers to reach the Final Game of the 2008 NCAA Championships earning Aaron an illegitimate 31 points. After stripping these 31 points from Aaron, the official winner of the 2008 NCAA FOF Finance Basketball Title is Kevin Angell.
It is with great sadness that we come before you with this announcement but we felt in light of the egregious actions taken by Aaron, that the record must be set straight. Aaron’s role as NCAA Office Pool Commissioner is under review and details to his future involvement will be revealed as decisions are made.
Aaron has chosen at this time to issue no statement and we request that you honor his right to privacy concerning this issue.
Never afraid to be behind the curve on something, I'm going to be the 3rd person on my blogroll to post about Twitter in 24 hours.
In short, I realized that what used to be my 'short, funny, incidents-type posts' have now been largely transfered to Twitter. It's a stupid name but the concept of "micro blogging" is interesting and I like to use it for certain things (especially easier posting of pictures). If you are used to reading my blog only for the main text posts, you might think about visiting occasionally to check out the Twitter stream in the right column.
You can click through to see all my recent thoughts.
Here they are as far as my sub-par IQ can calculate them.
- Manchester United
- Aston Villa
- Manchester City
- West Ham
- Stoke City
- Blackburn Rovers
- Hull City
- Birmingham City
This would mean that the same 4 teams will go to the Champions League again, that Everton and Aston Villa will once again be the leading contenders for the Europa League and that Wigan, Wolves and Birmingham will be back down in the Championship (second tier football).
Not a very bold or interesting prediction other than that I think the Mankers will fall from grace a bit with the departure of Christiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. They will not be claiming their 4th straight title which is small consolation if indeed Liverpool make it 2 full decades without a league title.
What do you guys think?
For this last camp of the summer we have a lot of folks from England (London and Cambridge) and a brave soul from amongst them is blogging on their behalf. Catherine Rogers has been writing daily updates and has emailed them to me. Here is exactly what she has to say... unchecked or edited by me...
I hope that gives you all some idea of how the team is doing. Please pray for us.
If there's one thing I've grown to hate about blogs, it's a long drawn out explanation for not posting, so.... sorry. Moving on...
The English football season starts in roughly 24 hours and 42 minutes from right now... and counting. That means you might have to endure another 10 months of posts about football and Liverpool. Or - as I have clearly demonstrated recently - maybe not.
Either way, as soon as I finish this post I am going to type up my predictions for this year's season. My goal is to best my performance last year, which was somewhere around an average of 3 places off, depending on how you calculate it. I think I should be able to do it but this season the league appears to be packed with absolutely dreadful clubs just waiting to be stomped by mid-table teams and beat Liverpool at home (see Stoke City 2008-09).
The next post will hit as close to the kick-off of the first match (Chelsea v. Hull City) as Blogger can possibly make it. Anyone who would like to put in their guess for the season (I think that is probably limited to about a half-dozen of you at best) feel free to post it yourself or comment it on this or the following post.
PS - Anyone who wants to join in on the fun online game called I Know the Score can sign up here and we can keep track of how well we actually do know that score.
What I used to think
- End of Summer at the Sea
- Cam's antics
- Redux: Pride Cometh Before A Fall
- The Rawness of Living out Faith
- Moderation over polemics
- The end of a recession
- Legal Trouble
- Almost farewell
- The Twitter Effect
- Team 4 update #3
- Camp team 4 update #2
- 2009-10 Premier League Predictions
- British Team Update
- Early warning
- ▼ August (14)
- ► 2008 (355)