Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Basketball

The season has started now. Nevada has played three games, 1 at home, 2 on the road. We're curently3-0, but without any truly dominating wins. I have to remind myself that our greatness last year was not in winning by 25 or 30 points, but by controlling the clock, playing tight defense, and playing smart. UNLV was a tough fight - I don't think either team ever had a double-digit lead. And they managed to knock off Hawaii, who has gotten a few votes in the Top 25 polls since beating Michigan State.

Tomorrow we go to Kansas. How weird is it that when Kansas first came to Reno (a 14-point upset win by Nevada), they were ranked and we, of course were not. Who would have thought that just two years later, Nevada would be ranked #20 by the AP (an unofficial #28 by ESPN - just 1 point shy of a tie for 26 and 8 shy of #25... so close!), and Kansas would be unranked in both polls?

Who'd have thought that Nevada, a school whose name is STILL mispronounced by the ESPN anchors as the highlights from the football team's upset of Fresno State (WOOOOO!!!!!!) demonstrate, a school who nobody had heard of in the major sports world (at the 2003/4 NCAA Tournament, a cabbie picked up some Nevada fans and mistakenly said "Go Rebels," thinking back to UNLV of the 90's) would be the more highly-regarded team when playing in Kansas?

Who'd have thought that CBS Sports 4 weeks into the season would rank Nevada #13, that they would approximate a #6 RPI, or that would rank Nevada #14? Or that sports writers would have anything to say about Nevada, not as a NCAA Cinderella story, but as a team worth following?

Hype is, however, a double-edged sword. There is no surprising a big-name team. There is only a target on your back, and all the more reason to strive to excel.

---Football News---
Evidently Chris Berman chose Nevada's Ron Hubbard taking a knee at the 1-yard line instead of running the ball in for a touchdown against Fresno State with less than a minute to play as his top play of the week. I missed the story (no cable), but think that sportsmanship like that ought to be heralded. He had broken clear from the 15-25 yard line, had no one around to even touch him, but went to the ground instead of running up the score or pushing for another touchdown.

That's class.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Amusing Quotes

From tonight's episode of The Simpsons:
Homer, after starting a fight with the Easter Egg Hunt Referee, Hugs Bunny:
"Silly wabbit, kicks are for ribs!"
Milhouse, after receiving a much-coveted kiss on the cheek from Lisa:
Milhouse: "I'm the luckiest guy in the world!"
Nelson: "Don't fall in love, stupid" [punches Milhouse in stomach, who then crumples to the ground.]


There is an episode of Seinfeld where the topic of giving a charitable donation in someone's name as a gift it discussed. It is decided to be a shallow thing, more selfish than selfless. I think I agree, to an extent. It could be taken as trying to assume the moral high ground ("You gave me this materialistic thing, but I fed the hungry."). It might feel unreciprocated - you get stuff, but they get a card. So I think it may be presumptuous.

Therefore, I'll be direct. I don't want any gifts. I have enough stuff. Would I like things? Sure, but need would be a great exaggeration. If anyone feels inclined to spend money with me in mind during this season, I'd be most satisfied with someone making a charitable donation. Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International, the American Red Cross, and World Vision are good places to start. I prefer nonpartisan organizations (Amnesty International therefore is not so high on my list).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Picked Last

There is, I have discovered, an aura around every person. Evidently, everyone can see it but me. This aura tells people to pick me last for any form of sporting event. At a rough guess, I would say that 50-75% of the time I am picked last whenever there is a competitive physical activity where teams are being picked. I am convinced that if I played basketball and no one was more than 5 feet tall, I would be picked last. Maybe people just think I'm good-natured enough not to take offense. Mostly I don't. But I noticed that the really good players went, then the girls went, then the wild card "how will they play" people went, then me.

Technically, I didn't even get picked this morning. Everyone else got picked, I just went to the last team in the order. It was only flag football, and this sport definitely favors the fleet-footed, which I am not. And I didn't know most of the people there, so they may just have not wanted a stranger.

The result? In a game to 7 touchdowns, I threw for one, caught another, and made a more than proportional number of "tackles" for our team. We had no good chance containing one guy out there, but at least it wasn't just me.

Most amusing moment? First snap, we have the ball. I threw it to a girl on our team, about 5 yards down field. She turns to run, sees someone on the other team, and throws it at them. They catch it, and run it back for a touchdown. We then explained the rules a little more completely. It was funny, but the pounding headache I have from the unfortunate collision of my jaw with someone else's skull (a liability that comes with above-average height) is rendering me less than loquatious.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I'm the sort of person that really hates the idea of looking stupid. To myself, or others, I feel like I have to maintain an air of competence in all things. I once tried to rebuild a broken down picnic table. It came together... much worse than when I took it in. I still feel sheepish when I think about it.

At a point when I was more quick to believe things, I looked for divine signs to guide certain steps of my path. At least, that's how I framed it in my mind. What I really wanted were reasons to do what I was going to do anyway. The frustrations born of these experiences have, I hope, sobered me to reading too much into things.

But I cannot quench the looking for such things. When utterly lost and unsure where to go, looking for guidance is a natural result, right? So in my endless saga of frustration with women, there is a song that in recent times has improbably come up repeatedly with respect to the focal point of this frustration. Sometimes, through my actions it was made marginally more likely, but hardly to a point where I feel that I was "manufacturing" signs. The first time I heard the song, I was feeling very discouraged. I'd rate it #3 on my all time worst memories when it comes to women. I had never heard the song before, and the words spoke to me in a way that isn't very common. It is a song of promise, of hope, of things "not always being this way."

I chalk it up mostly to circumstance, but am willing to be grateful for the truth in the song. Later that evening, I hear the same form through a different medium, where it starts to play just as I am driving past something (on a multiple-hour drive, mind you) that threatens to plunge me back into the despair of earlier. Quite literally, the negative association with where I was driving formed in my mind, and the song began playing within 5 seconds. To top it off, a person in the car pointed out the fact that this song was playing, something not done before or since for the remainder of the trip.

Okay, I get the point. Things really won't always be this way. But two coincidences may in fact be just that. However, they did cement in my mind the association of this song with hope. Since then, there have been two improbable events occurring of the same nature (one which I would say happens once every six months, the other once a year or so), again, as this song is playing. There have also been several other more probable events that I could tie in, but then I feel like I am reaching.

What I don't think: I'm not going to take this song as a promise regarding a specific girl. Been there, done that. If everything in the world suddenly aligns such that unfulfilled and eviscerating longings turn into wildest dreams being fufilled, it will make a wonderful antecdote. But I do not want to impute what I want to come true to a promise from God that it will come true, because if it fails, I would use it to turn on God in anger. I want to believe things that are true of God, and I don't trust my judgment on such subjective things.

What I do think: I choose to regard this as what it is. An encouragement, divinely sent, that reminds me of the things I know are true of God. The He is faithful, near to the brokenhearted, one who knows the pain, the hurt, the loneliness and cares. That pain does go in time, and that faithfulness will be rewarded. That He sees the depths of my heart, and offers encouragement in my greatest weakness to show Himself faithful.

I cannot say if a girlfriend, much less a wife is in my future. But this song helps me remember that God is still good. God is still faithful. And God does still care. Of the potential meanings for these signs, this is probably the most valuable.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I, Pharisee

One of those wonderful things about her. I don't think I've ever known someone so quick to avoid any spotlight on what she does to serve others. She shuns, flees attention like no one else. I admire this... very much. This is, I suppose, in part because I see in myself the temptation to do the opposite. Personally, I can readily identify with this blog entry.


Would you walk away?

Talk is cheap. It is far too easy to wax eloquent (or so I have sometimes flattered myself) about the problems, injustices, pains, and toils of the world. The above link is a post on a site I stumbled across, and it cut me deep. Do you ever wonder about the starving children you see in photographs? Did the photographer do anything? Obviously he was right there, like the film crew in "reality shows," but unlike in those shows, likely not forbidden to intervene.

I want to do less talking, and more acting. Hypocrisy is a subtle trap and a WMD for my faith. Jesus showed boundless love for those who did not hide their faults in a mask of righteousness. He gave sharp warnings to those who care more about the outside than the inside. Whitewashed tombs: pretty on the outside, full of death, decay, and rot on the inside.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Intelligent Design

Is evolution true? Do species change from one form to another, even into other species? For me, the answer could be yes or no - it's not that big a deal. I think a God who guides the formation of life from primordial goo to human in His image is just as astounding as a God who simply calls into being fully-formed complex organisims.

I am astonded how often the designs we find in nature are so incredibly efficient. The idea that pure random chance somehow given enough time not only made intelligent (or so we flatter ourselves to think) beings, but ones that are so well designed that we can split an atom, but are hard pressed to equal a small fraction of the engineering marvels that allow us to play a game of catch.

Bones, muscles, nerves, the heart, blood, skin, the eye, joints, reflexes, hair, and the mind are amazing things. Who could build a pump that is self-regulating, runs for 70 years without missing a beat, is able to self-repair, respond to increased demand, and fufill its role so beautifully as this muscle in our chest that just does its job without a moment's conscious thought?

The Power of Google

Yes, I'm one of those strange people that googles their own name. Except that "David Schmidt" is such a common name that there are lots of results. Evidently, there's something like 10 million Dr. David Schmidts in the world (or so it seems). So I tried "'David Schmidt' Economist." How many Economists named David Schmidt could there be? At least one formerly worked for the Federal Reserve, but the most interesting thing I came across was this link: The Economics of Manure Management. Not only was it on there - it came in at #3!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Interesting Links of the Day

I saw this link while at work today. It was put together by a graduate department, giving interviewing advice to those seeking academic positions. I have not yet watched the videos, but they sound amusing.

Are "religious" people happier? Why? This article and the related links are a look at that question.

In an academic aside to my, shall we say, issues with singleness, this paper (PDF) is a look an attempt to quanitfy happiness in an economic sense. Among the conclusions: married people are happier than singles across the board. But widowed and divorced singles are unhappier than the rest. But getting a job makes the average Brit about 3.5 times happier than getting married. Interesting.


Things that make you feel like a not-a-person suck. We hate stereotypes applied to us because they are a hasty guess, may well be untrue, and it makes you feel like the person is unwilling to see "the real you," chosing instead a cheap out. To be "used" romantically is both insulting and humiliating - a person you cared about, maybe even loved, only led you along to get what they wanted. They were not concerned for how it would affect you, or if concerned, put their own wants enough in the forefront that no ammount of potential emotional damage to you would hinder them. When most of my friends didn't go to my college graduation, it hurt. The reason most gave is that "I've been to a lot of these. They're boring. They're all the same." But this one was different - it was different because it was mine. It was personal. For this aspect of it to not matter makes one feel like a nameless face in the crowd, a not-a-person, but just a face and a name.

I have read a similar warning when it comes to leadership, especially in the church. The temptation is there to see people as tools, as objects, as cogs you use to fill needed slots to make everything operate. This is deadly. This treats those bought with the blood of Christ as a hammer you get at Home Depot for $2.99. We must remember that these are real people, probably making real sacrifices to help. To treat them as a resource deprives them of dignity, of personhood. It is a temptation for me to reduce people to the utilitarian benefit I derive from them. I need to remember to appreciate them. Thank them. Let them know that they matter, not just for their schedules and availability to run sound, computers, or spotlights, but as friends, as colaborers, as people. To ask them how they are doing, and want a real answer. To share in their joys and griefs. To let them know that they are more than a tool, they are a person.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Blog

One might think that I don't have a unified enough theme, or frequent enough posts to have two blogs, and they'd be right. This blog is an attempt to have focused conversations about matters of Scripture. Things we've read, things we've thought about. I hope to have a cadre of people posting on it, commenting, and in varigated ways exploring common themes. But I'm patient. Sometimes. Except when I'm not.

Scary Evangelicals

A question I want to hear answered: what do people think of evangelicals, or Christians at large? What might the average person on the street think if I said I consider myself an evangelical, raised in such a church. Knowing how different people approach the same issue can be beneficial to both.

An article by Philip Yancey on just such a question, which I would not have found without reading Philip Hartman's blog.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Name in Lights!

This is what I do for a living. I gave a 20-25 minute presentation on the unemployment fund for the state. It is, for me, more interesting that it probably sounds. I had lots of graphs, charts, and tables. This is good, because it means the internet broadcast of the event showed the tables, graphs, and charts, instead of me. It would have been more unnerving to look at the monitor just over the shoulders of the people I was addressing and see my own face looking back at me. It was weird enough hearing my voice over the in-house speakers.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Exciting Links of the Day

Michael Yon Online Magazine. I don't know the guy, and obviously can't vouch for him. The spin is that he is an independent journalist covering events in Iraq from his own perspective. Looks pretty authentic to me, but I am by nature suspicious of anything that plays so perfectly to how I would expect it to be.

Clark Kellogg discuses his preseason picks for the Sweet Sixteen. Am I excited for the upcoming basketball season? You bet!

More basketball news. I don't think Nevada ever made both major polls at once. This year, Nevada has made the preseason AP top 25 (#22), the ESPN/USA Today preseason top 25 (#25), the preseason top 25 (#24), and several other minor rankings. We have a preseason All-American in Nick Fazekas (sharing the honors with Illinois' Dee Brown, Duke's J.J. Redick, Boston College's Jared Dudley and Duke's Shelden Williams). I have seen two journalistic opinions (one in the local paper, one referenced above) that place Nevada in the Sweet Sixteen. And this with the team yet to play a regular season game. Hopefully the hype doesn't prove to be only that.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I had lunch with a friend today. It was good, we chatted, and I got to order Country Fried Steak from Chili's, which I really like (though I ended up not touching the steak... that came home as leftovers). At one point be brought up a girl I had asked him about before (as in, "do you think there's potential for a relationship here?") After bringing up the subject, he paused. I was expecting the response I had been expecting ever since I brought it up to him. The specifics were unknown, but the conclusion is always "don't go for it." Instead, what I thought he said was "[she's] interested." I was quite stunned. I think I lifted my eyebrows. I try very hard to not let people read me unless I let them (and these topics I play very close-to-the-vest in person), but the human brain is impressive as judged by the the sheer volume of distinct thoughts I had in the two-second pause in conversation. "Oh?" (I think I said). The remainder of the conversation bore out that what he probably really said was "[she's] interesting." As in, that's an interesting question. If I know anything, I'm not telling you, but it's never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. I do not think it was a translation of "she loathes the fact you exist" (not that I would really expect such a response), but it was hardly a hardy encouragment to go for it.

This reinforces the curious fact that between the physical stimulus of vibrating air molecules striking a taut bit of skin in your ear (or photons striking the strange cells at the back of your eye), there is a very important bit of translation that happens. Those vibrations are translated without conscious thought into an interpretation of the world around you. The more I think about it, the more impressive it is that misunderstandings are the exception, not the rule. The human body and mind are fascinating things.

Unfortunately for me, perception is not reality. If my confused hearing could somehow create reality, I'd be a much giddier blogger right now. As it is, I have roughly the same information I did before (though following a path that briefly soared above the clouds before plummeting back to earth right where it left).

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Lord of the Rings

Yes. I like Lord of the Rings. Until I saw The Fellowship of the Ring, Star Wars was my favorite trilogy. I have on two occasions attended all-day movie-fests to watch the three extended editions back-to-back-to-back. I appreciate the investment made by the movie company, financing the filming of all three movies at once. I appreciate the attention to detail by the art department. And I like the blending of traditional photograpic tricks as well as digital effects.

This is an article I read about ways of interpreting the world of Middle Earth. I hold to neither of them, but would rather make the basic argument that most dogmatic positions taken in life fall on either side of the truest representations of reality, so any book, song, or movie which strikes us as true on a deeper level will fall in the middle thereof.