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Archive for September, 2006

Consistency

September 17th, 2006 No comments

That’s not a very exciting word, is it? Who takes a glance at someone and says, “Wow, they are consistent!”? Consistency isn’t a trait that will entertain an audience or will, at first glance, be anything special. Really, it seems kind of dull, bland. Not anything too exciting. Not the type of thing that’s going to draw people.

But… boy. The very thing that makes consistency thing seem kind of mundane is, in my opinion, the very thing that makes it such a valuable trait to possess is the fact that it’s not flashy, it’s not sensational.

Personally, I just want to strive to be as consistent and reliable as possible — as a friend, as a brother, as a son, as a businessman — whatever. I realize that I may be a little bit different than your average Joe, but I very much value reliability in the little things — being punctual, returning phone calls, responding to e-mails — things like that.

Since that means so much to me, the least I could do is to extend that courtesy to other people. The tough thing is it’s really easy to justify it in my mind if I don’t follow through on something — maybe I’m too busy, I’m tired, or something else has popped up. Lots of times I might have a perfectly valid reason, but I think the old adage is very true that says that we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.

And that’s very true! Imagine this: Say you called me and left me a voice mail last week. I told you I received it and that I would get back to you as soon as possible, yet it’s been over a week and you haven’t heard back. Now, the case could be that I’m having phone problems, or that I’m out of town and I have no reception, or that I’m extremely busy. In any one of those three scenarios, I could probably in my mind justify that I hadn’t gotten back to you. Heck, I would know that I have a very good reason, and that is because such-and-such happened or came up.

But the bottom line would still remain, that I never returned your phone call. I may have had every intention to get back to you just as soon as possible, but still… I haven’t. And you wouldn’t know that. For all you knew, I was just slacking off or didn’t take you seriously.

Maybe one reason I’m sensitive to this is because I’ve had plenty of experiences in the past several years where it seemed like something had fallen into a “black hole” of sorts. From everything to eBay buyers or sellers who seem to just fall off the map, or friends who just don’t return an e-mail, to businesses who, for whatever reason, can’t return a phone call. It can get really frustrating!

I make this mistake a lot, too, and there are plenty of times where I will honestly have every intention to make good on my plans to get back to a person, but something will come up that will postpone or prohibit those plans. Sometimes it might be my doing; other times it may be completely out of my hands. But the fact remains that, my fault or not, I’m not being as faithful as I would like to be.

So I guess I’m working on a couple of solutions. For one, I try to not commit to too much, to not bite off more than I can chew. If it’s not realistic that I’m going to be able to follow through on something, I shouldn’t commit to it in the first place. Secondly — and this is the biggest thing for me — is I try to communicate with people. Delays are inevitable, they really are. Things come up. Many times, we just can’t control them!

So if I am supposed to be dropping something in the mail, let’s say, and I just keep getting delayed, what I want to do in that situation is to keep you posted. Sometimes it will be embarrassing, if the only reason it’s being delayed is due to me procrastinating or me being disorganized. But still, you deserve to know.

In my experiences, things go over so much smoother when somebody just goes to a little bit of an effort to keep me updated on something. If I bought something online, I paid for it, and two weeks later I still haven’t received anything, something as simple as an e-mail or a phone call saying, “I’m sorry. Such-and-such happened, but we will mail this out tomorrow” — that can make such a huge difference to me. I stop worrying that my order just got delivered to a black hole or something. :-)

So anyway, again, what I try to do (in bold because I’m not successful nearly as often as I would like to be :-|) is keep people updated. If I “owe” you something — a phone call, an e-mail, a package, a job (as in a deposition or any type of work-related thing), I really, really want to keep you informed as to how things are going and that, simply, I haven’t forgotten about you. If I’m extremely busy, way too busy to follow through like I had hoped, I normally should have enough time to just dash out a two-line e-mail to let you know that, hey, I’m working on it. :-)

Okay, well, this has been all over the place, for sure, and so I’m going to just leave it at that. Bottom line — I love communication. I love clarity. Conversely, it bugs me to just have something never be returned with no explanation. I make mistakes, and I realize other people do, too. I try not to get too caught up in any one given thing because I have to realize that, hey, as I make mistakes, so too will other people. As I let people down, so too will people accidentally let me down. After all, each of us is a work in progress, so I think it’s helpful for me to remember that, that even the well-meaning people are bound to fail sometimes.

This just really makes me appreciate all of the reliable and consistent people I do know. :-)

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Close softball game

September 15th, 2006 No comments

Last night was pretty much the perfect night for softball. It was slightly cool, and you could very much tell that fall is going to be here soon.

We played at 8:30 against the Scrubs. Our offense got off to a quick start, as we put up six runs in the top of the first inning. They struck right back and put up six of their own in the bottom of the inning. It was a new game after the first.

In the top of the second, we put up two runs to take an 8-6 lead. In the bottom of the inning, they put up two runs. Tied again. We ended up taking a 9-8 lead later in the game, but they then came back and ended up taking the lead and holding on, winning the game 13-11. It was a very close game, and if we avoided just a few of a handful of costly errors, the game could have easily been ours. Either way, though, it was nice to make it so close and to be right in the game against another good team like that.

I ended up batting 4-4 with three singles and a triple. My knee has been doing a lot better recently, and I think I’m about as fast as I’ve ever been. It’s not 100 percent, though; last night, I slid to catch a shallow fly ball in the outfield, and I ended up flexing my right leg all the way in, and it really, really hurt. Normally it doesn’t hurt to flex your leg that much — you know, as if you’re kneeling or squatting — but that’s one part that hasn’t totally healed up yet. Oh, well! At least I’m able to play okay even though it’s not perfect. And I thank God that it has healed up this well already!

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Cardinals Care at Busch Stadium

September 12th, 2006 No comments

Late this morning, as I was working on a deposition on my computer, Dad buzzed me and told me that he received a phone call from one of the Cardinals front office staff, asking us if we (as “Cardinal Country”) would be able to cover a presentation that Cardinals Care, the charity run by the owners of the St. Louis Cardinals, was putting on at Busch Stadium before the evening’s game.

Dad, Mom, and I ended up driving over to Busch in order to cover the event, which took place actually on the visitors dugout and faced the seats. Al Hrabosky emceed the event, and Cardinals players Jeff Suppan, Chris Carpenter, and Jim Edmonds were present. At the end of the presentation, the owners unveiled a check for 10 million dollars, to represent the amount of money raised by Cardinals Care over the last decade.

Throughout the couple of hours that we were at Busch Stadium, we managed to get a few really good interviews with the front office staff. First, we chatted with Fred Hanser, then with Bill DeWitt, Jr. — both who, I believe, are part-owners of the team, and then later we talked with Tim Hanser, who is in charge of Cardinals Care operations, and we finally wrapped things up by talking with Marty Hendon, who has made a few appearances on “Cardinal Country” over the past several months, as he keeps the viewers posted on new events that Cardinals Care has coming up. It was a fruitful couple of hours!

In other news, we just finished watching “Gone With The Wind.” I’ve seen it a few times — the last time being a few years ago — and… it’s a very well-made film. It’s a great movie. It’s very sad at parts, but the movie is just so well done. All of the characters, from Scarlett, to Melanie, to Mammy, to Rhett, to Aunt Pittypatt — they do such a great job in their respective roles.

Since I last saw the movie, I have learned a lot more about the Civil War, so I was able to catch on to a lot more this time around. It’s a great movie. Long, but great. About a week ago, we watched a documentary on the making of the movie, and that was very, very interesting.

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Another tight softball game

September 11th, 2006 No comments

Today, we had a rematch against the Killer Beez, who beat us in an eight-inning game on Thursday evening. We had another close game against them, but we managed to win this one by a score of 6-5. Yet another low-scoring game! I did a little bit better this time around, though, as I batted 3-4 with two singles and a double. I still haven’t been hitting with as much power as I would like to, but as long as I’m getting hits I’m not going to complain. :-)

In other news, we had some serious problems with our server today, and that resulted in FamTeam.com being out pretty much all day. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that anything was lost as far as data goes, although I’m not quite sure what became of any e-mails that were sent to an @famteam.com address today. So with that, if you happened to have e-mailed me (or anyone else in the family) today, it might be a good idea to go ahead and resend it, in case the e-mail was lost with the server woes.

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Laser tag with the chubs… and September 11th

September 10th, 2006 No comments

This afternoon, Paul, John, James, and I took Seth, Jacob, Nathan, xMary, and Caleb over to Laser Rock in Belleville in order to play laser tag. Seth on down (through Caleb) has never played before, so we thought it would be a fun idea to take them along with us for a game.

We ended up playing with about 35 other people in the game, and it was a big battle between the red team (which featured me, Wizzy, Nathan, and James) and the blue team (which consited of Paul, John, Seth, Jacob, and Caleb). After the 15-minute battle, their team emerged on top, but I managed to grab the top spot overall. :-)

More importantly, the little guys had a blast. They had never gone to play laser tag before, and you could tell they just loved it. I was suprised by how much fun they had playing. It was obvious that they were just enjoying every minute of it. :-) After the game, we sat there and ate some pizza, so that was a nice bonus. I hope we can take them again sometime soon. It was really fun!

Well… it’s September 11th. I can’t believe it’s been five years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I still remember when I first heard about it. I was actually working on my computer that morning, and somebody instant-messaged me and told me to pray for the U.S. I didn’t know what was going on, and shortly after that Dad called us up to his office, and we watched Fox News in disbelief as the Twin Towers went up in smoke and eventually collapsed. What a shock.

I’ll tell you what — I am thankful to live in a free country. I’m thankful that we haven’t had more attacks. It’s amazing how a tragedy like 9/11 will bring a nation back to its roots, back to what’s important. Sadly, it’s easy to get complacent and to take things for granted. I’m going to try to use this to remember just how fragile life can be, how things can change so dramatically in the blink of an eye, and I’m going to just thank God for life, for family, for freedom.

There is so much that we really should be constantly thanking God for, and it’s such a shame if it takes a tragic event like September 11th to bring us back to the basics and remember what really matters.

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Be bold

September 10th, 2006 No comments

While this is fresh on my mind, I want to hurry post about it. I just want to encourage fellow Christians out there to be bold, unafraid, unapologetic in being an imitator of Jesus. It’s heartbreaking to see how lost and confused people are, how there is just so much stuff in the media that’s having a huge influence on people but is full of a distorted (or completely false) version of the truth.

So with that, as Christians, we cannot afford to be hesitant or apologetic about our faith. We need to be leaders, to be strong and solid. People can be so suggestible to good or bad, and in the world today we are in desperate need of people who will simply be faithful to God’s commands and will stick up for the truth. So do not be ashamed or embarrassed to stand up for the truth. We have people who are bold enough to encourage a twisted build-your-own package of morals and beliefs, so we need to do our part.

It can be discouraging to see all that is out there, what is considered mainstream as far as music, movies, TV shows, magazines, and the like. It’s almost sickening to see what is accepted as “normal” these days. It’s obvious that so many people are either oblivious or are very much blinded from the truth. Whatever the case, let’s not be hesitant to be as radical as possible. If you have the one and only truth, you owe it to share with people who, for whatever reason, haven’t yet caught on. Of course, we’re not making this up. God’s commands and God’s promises have not changed. We don’t come up with the rules; our job is to simply obey them.

On top of this all, of course, we need to love people and be compassionate. But I believe that it’s possibly to be rock-solid and unchanging but to also genuinely love people. God does that. He has the highest standards that we are constantly falling short of, but through it He loves us. While we are still sinners, He loves us. So let’s be unashamed and uncompromising in spreading the truth, but let’s also keep everything wrapped in love.

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Dinner at Ruby Tuesday

September 10th, 2006 No comments

This evening, Paul, John, and I went on a trip out to Fairview Heights, and we ate dinner at Ruby Tuesday. None of us had been there before, and we wanted to try something new so we decided to try it out. We had a good time! While we were in Fairview, we stopped at Best Buy, and I picked up a USB flash/jump drive. I had a 128-megabyte drive on my key ring, but it seems to have died out. I bought a new 512 MB one, so that should work as a nice replacement.

In other news, this evening Mark e-mailed a few photos from Glacier National Park in Montana. We saw some beauty on our trip out west a year ago, and I’ve got to say these photos rival everything that we saw last year! :-) I can’t wait to see some more. A year ago, Mark and I were with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Jane in Vernal, Utah. On September 11th, 2005, Aunt Jane flew out of Salt Lake City back home to St. Louis, and James flew from St. Louis out to Utah to join us for the second half of the trip. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago; I remember it so vividly.

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A few things

September 7th, 2006 No comments

I want to start this off by asking for some ideas or feedback for FamTeam.com. Is there anything you would change/add/remove to it, if you had the chance? Content-wise — would more information be better? Less? More clarity? Style-wise — what do you think? Even if you like the current layout, do you have any ideas of what would make it better? Possibly different pictures? And as far as the functionality of the site — what kind of features do you like, would you like, or don’t you like? We have a simple menu and a simple account manager for Family Roomers.

Basically, I’m seeking any kind of suggestions as far as additions, subtractions, or modifications. Nothing is too small! Even if you already like the layout of the site or the navigation or whatnot, do you have any ideas on what could make it even better? Is something just a little cumbersome, a little hard to deal with? If you have any insights whatsoever, please just drop me an e-mail. Thank you. :-)

Today, Paul and I traveled to St. Charles, Missouri, in order to do some taping for “Cardinal Country.” In the early evening, we had a 6:30 softball game against the Killer Beez. It turned out to be a very close game at the end, and we managed to score five runs in the sixth inning and three in the seventh inning to tie it up and force extra innings. The Beez had a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth to win the game, but it was a really tight game. I didn’t bat so well; I was 0-2 with two walks. I haven’t been hitting as well the past couple of weeks, but hopefully I’ll turn things around on Monday.

Mark, Jude, and Philip are spending the night in Billings, Montana. Sounds like they’re starting to see a lot of beauty!

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Red Lobster, depo work, and softball

September 6th, 2006 No comments

Today was a really special day, because Mom and I had the chance to go out to lunch at Red Lobster in Fairview Heights. Mom loves the restaurant, and it was great to be able to sneak away with her and do lunch. :-) We’ve been keeping so busy for the past few weeks, so it was real nice to sit and talk a while.

In other news, so far we’ve managed to keep up with the deposition work pretty well. Dad, John, and I have been busily working on putting out transcripts, and over the past few days we’ve made a really big dent in the work. Mark and Jude have also been able to do some work while on the road, so that helps out big time. But anyway, it’s been a busy week, but so far so good. :-)

By the way, last night we started out fall softball league. We lost 10-4 or something, and we actually were without almost half of our regulars! Paul is still out with his fractured wrist, and Mark, Jude, and Philip are going to be gone for a few weeks as they are going west with Grandma and Grandpa. So that left us with five Arndts and five subs. :-) I was actually forced to play third base since we had such an abundance of outfielders. I didn’t mind, though; I like to play the infield whenever I get the chance.

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Labor Day

September 4th, 2006 No comments

It’s been a unique Labor Day. For starters, I left the house around 3:45 in the morning in order to make a trip over to St. Louis in order to drop off a few videotapes for our “Cardinal Country” show and the “Safe At Home” show. I ended up getting back home a little bit past 5:00, and I quickly went to bed.

I got up around 11:00 or 11:30 and began working on an examination under oath that we need to get out. I also helped Mark, Jude, and Philip as they packed to get ready for a three-and-a-half week RV trip they’re taking with Grandma and Grandpa Stock.

Late in the afternoon, I switched from transcribing work to video work, as I edited a videotaped deposition of a doctor. I put the finishing touches on that and copied it onto a DVD.

This evening, Paul, John, and I took a trip out to Fairview Heights, where we went to Best Buy and Circuit City in order to pick up a cheap video camera to be used as a VCR of sorts. It’s a crime to have to use our expensive video cameras as playback/record devices, because that puts wear and tear on the tape heads in the camera. After finding a cheap camera at Circuit City, the three of us went to Fazoli’s for supper.

On our way home, we met up with Mark, Jude, and Philip at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They’re spending the night in the RV since they plan to take off early in the morning. So we hung out with them for a little while in the RV before saying goodbye.

Since they’re going on this trip — which sounds like a blast, by the way — this means I’m going to be on my own in this room! It’s going to be strange, as I’ve always grown up with a roommate. It’ll be interesting. :-)

More practically, with those guys gone, it’s going to be a trick covering for them in regards to all of the deposition work and the different tasks around the house. For me personally, I’m going to try to shoulder a lot more of the load as far as scoping and printing depositions is concerned.

If you would, please keep those guys in your prayers, that they would have a safe — and fun — trip out to the northwest and west coast. And also, please pray for the rest of us back here, that we’ll be able to carry the load work-wise and not fall behind on our duties, and that God would just give us extra strength to be able to take on the additional work. Thanks so much! It sounds like those guys are going to have a pretty fun time out there. I look forward to seeing some pictures and video. :-)

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