So, I got a Speeding Ticket

22 Jan

The title alone will grip most of you, especially those who have braved a trip or two in a car with me.  As far back as high school, a friend created a nickname for the handles in the car I drove, as he always felt the need to hold them.  Especially when on trips, I find the need to go faster as it cuts down on travel time and allows me to get to the hotel where I can order a pizza quicker!

 So, while I am admitting guilt in general, the frustrating thing about this ticket was that I was not guilty on this one occasion.  And, unfortunately, I feel like the person giving me the ticket knew I wasn’t speeding.  I feel like this was a case of someone knowing that he could get away with giving me a ticket.  So, how did I come to this conclusion?  Well, here is the rest of the story.

I was traveling to a Bible Quiz event in Athens, Georgia.  I had my older two children in the car, and I departed from my home around noon.  Because of reasons I cannot pinpoint, I got in the car and started heading to Greenville, SC (most of my quiz trips in the car are headed that way, but it really is an excuse-less crime).  I was past Daytona (over an hour drive from the genesis of my trip) before I realized that I had completely dropped the ball.

At this point, I called my wife and asked her to look on the computer and see if it was faster to turn around and drive that extra hour plus or to cut over from I-95 westward sometime later in the journey.  Her quick research told me that it was faster to cut over on I-16 and then head up GA-19 to US 441.  So, that became our new plan, and my daughter (who was taking a road trip on her birthdayisn’t she a glutton for punishment) would have to wait longer before using her birthday present (a tablet) at a hotel to watch children’s movies.

So, travelling interstates is pretty standard and not worthy of extra care, so I am confident I sped a fair percentage of the time on them, but once I got off of I-16, I had to trek on a two to four lane road with which I was not familiar. Therefore, I was driving extra slowly.  Much of the road had a 65 MPH speed limit, which I adapted to by setting cruise control at 69 MPH.  (So, I am admitting to speeding a little).  There was a sign that said reduce speed ahead and intersection.  As soon as I saw that sign, I hit the breaks, not because I am a law abiding citizen, but because I did not want to get lost in a place I did not know, running low on gas, with two pre-pubescent children in the back seat, who are likely to fight if the situation turns negative.

Within a half mile, the speed limit reduced to 55 MPH.  I was heading up a hill, so while I do not know precisely how fast I was going at each instant, I am aware that I was gradually slowing down and I know that after the hill was a sign that said 45 MPH.  When I passed the sign I looked at the speedometer, which read 43 MPH (don’t you love digital displays?) at the moment I crossed into the slower zone.  About a mile ahead was a stop light, next to which was a police officer.  As I traveled seven tenths of a mile, I pulled up to the stoplight, where I came to a complete stop and the police office pulled up right behind me.

As I sat there for what seemed like forever (the clock ticked off 4 minutes, and nary a car was anywhere in sight), the light eventually turned green again.  I took off, careful not to exceed the 45 MPH.  I got about a half mile down the road, when the officer turned on his lights.  I knew I had not sped since he was behind me and it had been greater than seven minutes since I had even been speeding the 4 MPH I knew about.  So, I am thinking of witty rebuttals and what I should say, and then began freaking out, as I had no idea where the rental paperwork had been put by my wife, when she packed my kids’ things.

Officer Terns Fadley (or something close to that, which I cannot read off the ticket) came up and said “Give me your license.”  My first thought was this guy is not a police officer, as I’ve been pulled over before (again, I speed with some frequency) and never had the guy not asked me what I had done or told me what I did.  However, with children, I didn’t want to alert him that I would not cooperate.  Then, as he left with my license, I began to think that he just wanted to verify that I was a legitimate driver, as I was in the middle of nowhere with Florida plates.

However, fifteen minutes later, I began to wonder what was going on.  Some twenty seven minutes later, he came back, took 10 seconds explaining the ticket to me, dropped it off, and went back to his car.  Somewhere in that explanation I hear “seventy five.”  I look at my ticket and he says I was going 75 in a 55.  Now, first, assuming that his radar equipment is able to check for speeds on the other sides of hills, I have no idea how he knows whether I was going that speed in the 55 or 65 MPH zone.  Second, why did he sit behind me for four minutes at the light and let me take off before pulling me over?  Third, why did he not show or tell me how he got me?  Finally, why did he say I was driving 75 MPH, when I never was on that road?

The problems with this are I cannot prove anything (I would love to see the video, as I am quite certain that he did not do what he was supposed to do, even if I had been guilty), I never go through this area (and, after this, I’ll make sure it never happens again) and the cost to go defend it (even if I were guaranteed a win) would probably be greater than paying the stupid ticket.  So, why do I even talk about this?  Well, first of all, this is the first time in my life where I felt I was targeted.  I’ve lived a pretty good life, free of feeling like I was unduly targeted, but honestly, that is my feeling in this.  As I have sat on this for three weeks, I have only become more convinced of this fact.

This one time of small persecution is not even worthy to be compared with what many others have suffered, but I now feel that I have a greater appreciation with those who have suffered at the hands of institutional targeting, persecution, or harassment.  Maybe that is the lesson that I need to learn from this, though I am sure God also wants me to slow down regularly.


Why My Christmas may Look Different than Yours!

21 Dec

In the past, I have written posts about how my philosophy and thoughts about Christmas are “weird.“ Clearly, I am not in the majority of how people live and think about the Christmas holiday. I am comfortable with that. Here is the crux of my thoughts. I believe that any time you give children presents, the focus of the day (or season, even) becomes, for them, the presents. I like presents. I like giving my children presents (Matthew 7:11).

On the other hand, I don’t want to ever do anything to encourage my children to think that some earthly good is ever comparable with The Gift of Christ. In my (perhaps flawed) mind, juxtaposing presents with Christmas (whether on the day or shortly before) will naturally shift their focus. My desire for them is to use the entire holiday season as a celebration that culminates in the worship of our Lord on Christmas Day.

In my experience, items that are created merely for the purpose of accenting presents (like a Christmas tree) are things I do not include in my house. I love looking at Christmas trees, and we go to a Christmas tree farm every year. But we do not put one in our house to draw attention to the myriad of gifts our children receive.

Because I want to give presents to my children, and our culture does this around Christmas (or Chanukah), I like a compromise. This compromise would be the giving of gifts on New Year’s Day. New Year’s is a fun holiday that does not have a deeper meaning than the passage of time. Starting a year with a new thing would be cool; a resolution and a gift seem appropriate.

So, if you see me, you don’t need to avoid talking about Christmas. I love Christmas, and if you talk to me about it at any length, I’ll go on about how wonderful it is that the God of the universe decided to put on skin, live among us perfectly, and take our punishment. I’ll even share joy with you about the great things you do for your friends and family. However, I would like to kindly request that gifts to my family and children be given at New Years. I know it isn’t normal. I also know that I am required to answer to God for how my conscience is pricked in the rearing of my children.

While strange, I don’t feel like this is a struggle unique to me and my family. As I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I see them struggling with the meaning of Christmas. (Yes, we watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas songs). I believe that the byproduct reality of a culture mesmerized by a system of deceiving people into a belief that a fictional character delivers presents, especially when juxtaposed with a capitalistic, materialistic culture, is that the focus will be on the presents.

My children might prefer to get their gifts a week earlier. They might be cursing me under their breath and behind my back. However, one thing that is certain is that they know that the meaning of Christmas is not about receiving some worldly good that they will hopefully appreciate for a while. And they don’t just give lip-service to the birth of Christ being the reason, but they really know that in our household that is the way it is. And while I am sure many parents are able to do that in a variety of ways, the way I have chosen is to push back presents and do away with the things that point to them.

What Would You Do?

2 Jul

This week, I have been going through the inordinate displeasure of moving my office. Since the place into which I am moving will not technically be ready to go for another week, the problem is exacerbated. So, I hired a company to have four movers show up shortly after 7 AM yesterday at a rate of $189/hour. I had arranged to meet with the new owner at my current building yesterday afternoon after the stuff was removed, return the keys, and make everything work. I also arranged with the current owner at my new building. He was able to meet us yesterday to allow us to move into our new building (we still couldn’t use the stuff for a week, but it would at least be stored in its permanent place).

So, why is this story of any interest? Well, the moving company first called yesterday to say they’d be in at noon, then 2 PM, then 4 PM, then eventually they would not come at all until today. This also means that I had to gradually reschedule my meeting with the new landlord at my current building and the current owner at my new building, creating frustration for both of them. The new building operator is unable to meet us at any time today and the operator of the old building is understandably miffed that we are not out at the contractually agreed upon time.

When the owner of the moving company called yesterday for the last time, he was apologetic. However, this morning, his crew showed up with only three movers at a rate of $169/hour. For those good at math, you realize that will probably increase the rate we will be charged. When my intern called this morning to point out this frustrating tidbit, the owner of the moving company told him to do something that is anatomically impossible.

Further, I now have to rent a storage facility to store the materials for a week or so and then I need to get movers to move it again next week. If I hire a different moving company, I will now have the fact that both will claim it is the other company who damaged my stuff. If I hire the same company, I am getting a company who apparently cannot show up when they claim and then gets snarly about it.

Because of the moving company not coming through on the agreement, I now have significant lost goodwill with the owner at my current place of business. I have the additional cost of a second move. I have the day I spent yesterday sitting in a packed (e.g., no up and running computer) office where I literally wasn’t able to do work. I have the owner at the new building frustrated that he spent a day sort of on hold. I have an intern who was yelled at and treated miserably.

That intern believes that we should sue for damages. The owner at the new building feels that there is some yelling that needs to take place. Another friend has suggested that I go to the media. I just want this nightmare to end and for me to get a functioning office. So, I ask, what would you do?

Around 12:30 today, they finished unloading my stuff into a storage unit. At this point, They billed me $1,300. Now, if you do the simple math of $169 per hour times 4.5 hours, that would come to $760.50. I also gave a $50 deposit, which should have been credited. It also rained for about 45 minutes where they were unable to work. OK, when I called, I was sworn at by the manager, who then yelled at me. As I was not remaining calm at all, I said that I might need to sue him, when he then told me he would tell his guys to leave with my stuff. The police needed to come, but it was a less than ideal situation, to be sure.

Whom do You Wanna be Like When you Grow Up?

28 May

When professional sports playoffs occur, teams play each other between four and seven times to determine who the best team is, and because of that, the teams begin to know each other. The ebb and flow of a series allows for adjustments and then for people to complain about factors that people are against them in an attempt to adjust the outcome in the future. The teams can no longer surprise the other and, usually, the best team wins the game. This is one reason I like professional sports. They reward excellence. I get to see teams (particularly teams of approximately equal skill) go head-to-head in different environments with different circumstances as many as seven times, and upsets are usually because we over-estimated or under-estimated a team and not usually because of a lucky play or two.

The NBA Playoffs have been fascinating this year, setting many records for close games and close series. And just when you think home court did not play a role, home teams are winning almost every game in the conference finals. At any rate, these series are happening at a time in my personal life when I am bemoaning the wussification of society in general. I’m teaching a children’s Sunday School class and coaching a Bible Quiz team, and I sit in awe at the things that parents complain about and the things that parents allow their children to complain about. I detest it when people are always blame-shifting and not “manning up” and taking accountability for their own junk.

Against that backdrop, I come into sports watching them very differently than I did ten years ago. I watch them with my children (well, mostly my son and whichever of my daughters feels she can weasel her way into a later bedtime if she agrees) and hope to find teachable moments. I love it when people take personal accountability for how they perform. David DuPree says, “You have to respect the referees, and can’t blame other people for your actions. If you make mistakes it’s either on me or on you.”

So, with apologies to my Pacer fan friends, I must say that I have a new-found appreciation of the Heat. After Game 4 in which Miami led from tip to buzzer and never really felt in danger of not winning the game, Paul George blamed the refs. Roy Hibbert blamed the coach. Several players said Lance Stephenson had put them in a bad position, and overall, they just didn’t take blame. After Game 5, where LeBron James played less than half the game because of foul trouble, when at least four of the fouls look fishy to me, LeBron did not blame the refs. He said he wanted to play more, but praised his teammates for giving him a chance to win.

I will not comment on the potential benefits of complaining about the refs at this point. Instead I will say, that I want to keep a copy of that LeBron interview. I want to show it to my son. I want to tell him that this is how you act like a man and take responsibility. This is how you act. This is what I want you to do when you feel like you’ve been wronged. It’s the first step in peace making and it is a huge step in maturity. I personally believe you can learn a lot about a man by whom he blames when things go wrong. LeBron took the blame and did not complain. This is the way to behave in a world of finger pointing and blame shifting.

Sticks and Stones

15 Mar

It seems that the NFL is attempting to outlaw the use of a particular ‘n’ word. This seems to have created a little bit of a discussion on the word. People who look like me seem to be powerless to participate in the discussion, and for pretty good reason. Before you dismiss this as just another white guy telling black guys how to talk, I urge you to read the entire post and then criticize.

The only reason for this discussion is because of the imagery and history associated with the word. There are good reasons to stop using the word. It represents a time period (or more correctly, an aspect of a time period) in this country that is dark and not redeeming. Understandably, there is a reason to want to do away with this memory entirely. Of course, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

By the same token, those who have taken that which is atrocious and turned it into a word of kinship, friendship, and camaraderie do not (understandably so) want to have their vocabulary stripped. I’m sure David Howard understands this also. To have words which represent a greater meaning stripped from usability can be a cruel thing.

I remember a scene from a Full House episode where Uncle Jesse was trying to use a word (apprehensive) that Michelle didn’t understand and he had to go with scared. Now, that was done for comedic effect, but the reality is that the depth of meaning is not completely conveyed by scared, and often a single word can communicate more than we can with a dozen words not including it. This is why I think it can be tragic to eliminate words from one’s vocabulary.

So, here I am with ambivolent feelings about using this word. I begin to realize there are many words that I feel our community would be better without using. While even the most heinous of words can convey meaning, the reality is that some meanings are better left un-conveyed. Nevertheless, eliminating a word or two cannot make that desired effect.

Making someone convey a different message can only be accomplished by changing their heart. And language, much as I appreciate its depth, ability, and necessity is not the most important thing. The most proper speaker of English can convey things with tone, movement, and even proper words that are not redemptive. This is why I feel any rule, mandate, or anything else to eliminate language is not getting to the heart of the matter.

The Beauty of God’s Perseverance!

22 Feb

This post was originally written for my church’s blog.

One of my favorite things to teach over in the Reformed theology class is Perseverance of the Saints. If you haven’t joined a class, this week you can make a one-week cameo appearance in our class and I believe you’ll love it.

The reason I love this class so much is that more than anything else studied, this concept is something that is tremendously enlightening and exciting. You see, the fact that it is God who preserves our salvation is incredibly encouraging. Knowing that my identity being cemented forever as a child of the one true King is enough to excite even the most doldrummed observer of the Christian faith.

The problem I usually see if that most people reduce this tremendous promise of Perseverance of the Saints to merely Eternal Security. While it is true that it includes the promise that our eternal destination is secure, to say that is all that is included in this historical truth is like saying that the only benefit of eating is sustenance. It is an invaluable, and perhaps even the most important, part, but it fails to grasp the entirety of the gift God has given us.

Surely, as we study the historical truth of Reformed theology, we realize that God gets complete credit for our salvation. When we know this truth, we understand that it being sustained is also to his credit. However, there is another glorious truth contained within this concept. Perseverance is not limited to the act of continuing. It also involves the journey itself.

In this case, we learn that God’s perseverance of us does not just have to do with our eternal destination, but rather with the way we relate to him while still here. A former pastor of mine once said, “You were not elected you to go to Heaven. You were elected to live a righteous life to His honor and glory. Heaven is a by-product.”

Our perseverance allows us to live lives that honor Him. It allows us to reflect our God in this life here. And learning about that can bring honor to our God is so exciting, how can I help but be super-enthused about it? This is a class we’ll all enjoy!

Investing for the Future

5 Feb

As I was watching Friends recently, I learned what Ross Geller would do, if in fact, he won the lottery. Obviously, the comedic elements don’t necessitate an actual answer, but the reality is investing is an important part of life. I’ve previously stated that investment is important. As a real estate professional, I am incredibly biased, but I believe real estate is a tremendous place to invest one’s money.

Investing one’s money is such a complicated subject that there is no way I could get into every nuance, even if I knew them all. While it can be used to increase one’s current standard of living, I will address the concept of investing for one’s retirement. While I believe it is possible (and even common) for one to idolize the concept of retiring, it is a worthwhile venture to plan for when working, as much and as often as you currently do, is (or almost is) impossible. The government has allowed several different ways to invest for retirement with tax benefits, including an IRA and a Roth IRA.

My primary thought is that most people do not know how to invest this retirement money in anything other than stocks. Stocks can be a fantastic investment and one of the pastors at my church, Mike Graham, can tell you how if his grandparents had listened to his 12 year old brother, they would be the richest family in the USA. Obviously, a tremendous amount of wealth can be gained by investing properly in stocks. I guess my main beef is that I have an MBA, feel like I understand relatively well how stocks work, and I can’t name a single stock that I can (with any accuracy) predict what it will do in the future. This may be the primary way I display my ignorance, but it is where I live.

I believe the most under-used investment tool for IRA’s in investing in real estate. So you ask, “Can my IRA really invest in real estate?” The answer is USUALLY Yes! I say underused, because I believe if a 100 person survey (Family Feud Style) were taken on what is a better investment-stocks or real estate, a certain number of people would say real estate. Whatever that number is (you’ve got one in your head at this point), the answer is probably more than 1. If it is, the concept is underused, because less than 1% of the population uses its IRA money on real estate.

If you are in that portion of the population that feels real estate is the better investment, but never considered using it for your own retirement account, contact NuView and set up a self-directed IRA. Then, call or email our office, so we can guide you through the specifics of choosing good real estate investments. Then, when you retire, you can have a healthy amount in your retirement account to make it fun to do things like travel, visit grand-kids, or just give your favorite blogger nice gifts!