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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?

EPILOGUE
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.

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!

A Christmas on Fifth Avenue

25 Dec

This is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. I have written about how many people are willing to accept the birth of a baby, but many people are unwilling to accept that the very reason that He came to earth was to die. That is certainly, in my mind at least, the reality of the American culture today. The reality of the manger is that the cross is its intended completion.

While those theological thoughts are always present in my celebration, the practical celebration of the day took me to a set of movies that I happened upon a few years ago. The one that grasped my interest this year was It Happened on Fifth Avenue. This movie presented me with a wonderful thought about the reason why Christmas is such a fine celebration.

SPOILER ALERT

The story is about a wealthy man’s house that lies vacant for months each year. A group of otherwise unrelated squatters move into the house and take ownership of it. These vagrants are able to live in all the splendor of this house, with all the benefits of the house, and with most of the rights of the ownership thereof. At one point, the owner of the house moves in with them and lives among them, though he is relegated to the servant’s quarters.

The greatest part about this is that the owner lives among them, a fact unknown to most of them, and allows them to continue their arrangement for various reasons. That’s really where the similarities end, but I could not help but think that God takes those of us who are spiritual interlopers and allows us to participate in all the benefits, rights, and splendor of the life which Christ lived. Just as the people in this movie get the benefits of a multi-million dollar mansion, so do we get the benefits of a perfect life lived for us.

It is wonderful to remember that the baby Who was born two thousand years ago, and Whose birth we celebrate today, began what become the imputed life we have. And that is a magnificent thing. For us it doesn’t necessarily happen on a mansion on Fifth Avenue, but it is still a tremendous gift we have been bestowed.

There are many wise lines from this movie, including when the head of the house of misfits says, “Any house is only what the residents make it.” If you find yourself feeling a little ashamed of your financial position in this world, it is great to know that even a servant’s quarters can be the place that turns your life around. If you are a little down about your spiritual position in this world, it is great to know that even a miserable life of merely “filthy rags” is enough through the imputation of the One who came to earth for the express purpose of giving us new life!

Is it the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

10 Dec

This was original written for my business website.

Clearly, the mindset of Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But how does it effect us in a business sense? This is an important question, as there are clearly some industries where December is a huge part of the business (e.g. anything retail) and some industries where the Christmas season is almost a throw away (e.g. anything education). Where in that spectrum does purchasing real estate fall?

I assert that real estate buyers should NEVER be more active than in December. Because people don’t generally prefer moving around Christmas time, there is a hesitancy for most people to buy in that time. Because of that, every December becomes more of a buyer’s market. Many people are under the impression, whether correct or incorrect, that selling in the given calendar year will have tax benefits. This also helps buyers.

In today’s marketplace there are a large number of short sales and REO/Bank Owned properties, which further cements this principle, as the banks are always benefited by taking non-liquid assets off their books, but even more so when heading into a new calendar year. There are several things that make a quick sale beneficial, but few things that incentivize sellers to hold on to the property into the new year. Even those sellers not handcuffed by bank reaction feel most benevolent during the Christmas season.

With this in mind, every buyer should go crazy. Knowing that competition (i.e. other buyers) will increase as soon as Christmas passes. Knowing that people will be less inclined to sell when the new year hits. Knowing that the general feeling of benevolence and the outside pinch for money (gift buying) will only work in your favor for a limited time. Every potential buying dollar should be put forth to buy as many properties as possible during the month of December.

Because everyone’s tax situation is different, it can not be stated that it is always a good tax move to purchase a home, but if you are going to purchase an investment of any sort, it is almost universally better to purchase a year in advance. The only situations where it would behoove the investor to wait to make a purchase until the next calendar year would be where something else has happened in the forthcoming year, which can’t be known before the year begins. Therefore, it is almost always better for you to purchase something in the preceding calendar year.

All these things dictate that now is the time to be buying. If you ever want to purchase real estate, now is the time. So, anyone need help?