Getting Into Shape

There are few things in life that I hate more than getting into shape.

Being in shape is great, but getting into shape is terrible.

I’m running in a 5K this weekend in Rogers with Caroline, my brother, and some men from church, and because I tend to be somewhat competitive, I’m trying to get into some sort of shape so I don’t get dominated by a bunch of middle-aged men.

Over the last 10 months, I’ve done a shameful job of staying in shape. That’s due to a combination of several factors: I severely sprained by left ankle last August, which prevented me from running for about a month, my work schedule isn’t always conducive to the types of athletic activities that are available to me, I’m somewhat lazy and I also probably eat more now than I did in my bachelor days due to the fact that my wife cooks a lot better than I did/do.

But the biggest reason of all is the change in my lifestyle. When I was in college (not quite as much in my last year, when I was incredibly busy), I was constantly active. I played ultimate 3-5 times per week, played in 8-10 tournaments every school year, participated in club sports, played pick-up basketball a couple times a week, lifted weights every now and then, and some semesters, ran three times a week.

Now that I’m away from college, I don’t have nearly as many opportunities to be active. In fact, for most of the year, the only real opportunity for being active that I have is running by myself, which is something I absolutely hate.

Which leads me to where I am now, struggling to get into shape for this weekend.

Last Saturday I played in a Savage 7 (which means you play without subs) ultimate tournament and Sunday evening I played ultimate with my youth group, which was good for me, but also hard on me to the extent that all my runs this week (I took Monday off and then ran Tuesday evening, yesterday afternoon and this morning) have been awful.

Tonight I have summer league ultimate, and then I’ll take tomorrow off in hopes that by Saturday, my legs will be fresh again and that I’ll have somewhat of a spring in my step for the first time in months.

Basically, what it comes down to I guess is this: if you’re in good shape, congratulations. Stay that way. Because falling out of shape and then frantically trying to get back to where you were is atrocious.

UPDATE: In case I needed more evidence of how out of shape I am, I got burnt deep on game point tonight at summer league. That never used to happen.


Conflicting Natures

I read a children’s version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was about 10 years old, and it is a story that has fascinated me ever since.

Robert Louis Stevenson, of Treasure Island fame, penned the novella in 1885. Stevenson’s body of work was criticized and largely dismissed by modern writers because it was so popular (and therefore perceived to be too commonplace), but in recent years, critics have begun to appreciate him as a man of prodigious artistic talent.

That talent is never more evident than in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which features impressive character development despite being a novella, clever framing, and most importantly, an insightful investigation of the dualistic nature of man.

In the story, Dr. Jekyll is a respected and talented medical doctor who wants to live a good and pure life but is plagued by his own evil desires.

Jekyll’s problem is experienced by all of us to some degree, and is one which the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 7.18-21:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.”

In Stevenson’s story, Jekyll recognizes the good and evil natures warring within himself, and, by means of a chemical potion, decides to separate those natures with the hope of purging himself of his evil desires and the guilt that accompanies them.

Jekyll’s potion leads to the creation of Hyde, his despicable and wholly evil alter ego, who ultimately brings about his downfall.

Continuing in Romans 7.24-25 and 8.1-2, Paul points out a different solution to the problem of sin:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

Sin is dangerous and seductive, and has the power to enslave us. No chemical potion or medical doctor can loosen the bonds of that slavery; only The Great Physician can set us free.

The 1895 photograph above pictures Richard Mansfield, an American actor who was best known for playing the dual roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Bound for the Hall

Forty-year-old John Smoltz pitched seven shutout innings tonight to give the Braves a 2-1 victory over the Mets, bringing Atlanta within a game and a half of the New York in the NL East.

The win was Smoltz’s seventh of the season, which leads the National League, but more importantly, was the 200th of his illustrious career.

Smoltz became the 106th pitcher in Major League history to reach the 200 win mark, but is the first pitcher ever to get 200 wins and save at least 150 games.

Although milestones probably shouldn’t be such a big deal statistically, they are a big deal in the minds of Hall of Fame voters, and Smoltz almost certainly cemented his place in the Hall with his victory tonight.

I’ve always been a Smoltz fan, partially because he’s the only player who has been around for Atlanta’s entire run of 14 division titles but also because he is one of the nicest players in the game, and I’m glad that he is getting the recognition and acclaim that he deserves.


The Worst Team Ever

Because I am a fairly opinionated person, and because I generally consider my opinions to be pretty much on-target, I’ve decided to start a semi-regular series of blog posts entitled Best and Worst.

Every week/month/undetermined random period of time, I’ll crank out one of these little jewels which will describe the best or worst of all time in a given category.

The first post in the series centers on one of my favorite topics of baseball history: the Worst Team Ever, the 1962 New York Mets.

A brand new team in 1962, the New York roster was a perfect storm of inexperienced and untalented youth, incompetent utility players and over-the-hill stars who united to amass an appalling record of 40-120, the worst in Major League history.

Just how bad was this team?

Sit back and enjoy.

Starting catcher Harry Chiti was acquired from Cleveland in a trade for a player to be named later. Chiti proved so inept at handling pitchers and a baseball bat (he hit only .195) that he was sent back to Cleveland after 30 days—the first player in Major League history to be traded for himself.

Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman served as Chiti’s replacement at catcher, and while he proved to be a marginal offensive improvement (Choo Choo hit .250 in 1962), he also struggled behind the plate, and according to baseball writer Roger Angell handled outside curves “like a man fighting bees.”

The manager was Hall of Famer Casey Stengel, but by 1962, Stengel was in his 70s and routinely fell asleep on the bench during games.

Outfielder Richie Ashburn was a bright spot; he led the team with a .306 average. Unfortunately, he was also 35 and retired at season’s end.

The Mets’ top three starters combined for a 26-63 record.

But of all the Mets’ players, perhaps no story better illustrates their hapless plight than that of shortstop Elio Chacón. An eager 25-year old from Venezuela, Chacón kept running into the outfield and knocking down center fielder Richie Ashburn as he was about to catch a fly ball.

Chacón didn’t speak any English, so fellow outfielder Joe Christopher explained to Ashburn that if he was going to catch a fly ball and saw Chacón coming out to get it, all he had to say was “¡Yo la tengo!” (“I’ve got it!”), and Chacón would pull up.

So Ashburn practiced the phrase and memorized it, and a game came along where a shallow fly ball was hit towards him. As Chacón came sprinting out, Ashburn shouted “¡Yo la tengo, yo la tengo!” and put his hands up to catch the ball—and was bowled over by Frank Thomas, his left fielder.

Stengel summed it all up this way, “Come and see my amazin’ Mets. I been in this game a hundred years, but I see new ways to lose I never knew existed before.”

Honorable Mention: The 1994-95 Happy Hollow Tomahawk 6th grade basketball team went 0-9 with two losses of at least 40 points. We had a chance at victory in the last game of the season, but I missed a layup as time expired. Oops.

Sources for this post include Baseball-Reference and Ken Burns’ Baseball.


FIVE Strikeouts? In ONE Game?

Andruw Jones is going to be a free agent at the end of the season. The good news is that he is doing everything possible to drive down his market price.

Through today’s game, Andruw was hitting .212 in 43 games and had been dropped from his usual clean-up spot in the lineup to sixth.

The above picture of Andruw Jones was from last season. How can I tell? Well, mainly because he’s hitting the ball. That’s something he hasn’t done as much this year. After today, Jones had 51 strikeouts in 43 games, which puts him at an average of nearly 1.2 strikeouts per game, and on pace to amass a whopping 187 during the course of the season (both career worst figures). He struck out a staggering five times in today’s game alone.

I dunno, with such a pronounced inability to make contact when he swings, maybe he should be called “Fan-druw.”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m actually a big Andruw Jones fan and always have been.

He has been the greatest defensive outfielder of his generation by far, and even though the 9-time Gold Glover Winner has lost a step over the years, he is still clearly the best outfielder in the game today and (barring injury) will likely break the career record for putouts currently held by Willie Mays.

And as frustrating as he can be at the plate with his wild swings and insistence on trying to pull every pitch he sees, every season he’ll go on a 3-week tear where he turns into Babe Ruth and salvages his season.

Really, when you think about it, it’s hard to argue against a guy who hits 35-40 home runs and drives in 110 runs a year (Andruw’s averages over the past seven season) and is primarily known as a defensive player.

Hopefully, at the end of the year, the Braves will be able to come up with the cash to sign Andruw to another long-term contract.

I’m just hoping that his early season impotence will make him a little bit more affordable.


Things Could Be Worse…

I generally try not to complain about gas prices, and have even blogged about not doing so before. That being said, I was a little annoyed when I got gas about a week ago for $2.99 per gallon. I was a little more annoyed yesterday when I filled up at the same station for $3.29 per gallon.

Gas prices are hitting record highs all across the U.S., but as bad as we have it here, it could be worse. According to this article, gas prices have topped $6.50 per gallon in Britain and are approaching $7.00 in Hong Kong. In light of those figures, $3.29 doesn’t seem quite so bad.

On the other hand, if you lived in Kuwait, you could fill up for about $0.82 per gallon.

Of course, the downside of that is that you’d be living in Kuwait.

I think I’ll just pay the $3.29 and keep my mouth shut.


Enter Jeeves

I’ve been a little tardy in announcing it, but I got a new car last week to take the place of Kermit, who was prematurely hastened to automobile heaven a couple of weeks ago.

Caroline and I shopped around online and were fortunate enough to find a car in Fayetteville that we liked: a gray 2005 Hyundai Sonata.

The car came pretty loaded—V6, sun roof, seat warmers, functional power windows—and only had 39,000 miles on it.

Plus, we were able to get a great deal on it, extend the warranty for a reasonable price, and we got a free 5-day, 4-night cruise from because of a promotion going on at the dealership. All in all, we were very happy.

I thought the new car looked quite dignified, so I named it “Jeeves,” which only seemed fitting. Jeeves is quite a nice ride, and is an upgrade from Kermit, and certainly a big step up from the PT Cruiser.


My Skin is Yellow

During my last year at Harding, while I was taking graduate classes, playing ultimate and waiting for my wife-to-be to graduate, I also worked at Sidney Deener Elementary as an ESL Teacher.

With ESL (English as a Second Language), the emphasis is on getting non-native speakers to learn English, so technically, you don’t really need to be able to speak the native language of the students you work with. But it does help to be able to understand their language, and since most of the ESL students were from Spanish backgrounds and I was a former Spanish major, they offered me the job.

I did have one student who did not speak Spanish. His name was Phong, and he was a second grader from Vietnam. Phong was very smart—he was a math whiz and excelled at all kinds of logic puzzles, but when I met him, he had an English vocabulary of about 20 words. Needless to say, he was my most challenging student.

I worked with Phong every day for the next six months or so, and although I enjoyed all of my students (with Searcy not exactly being a multi-cultural mecca, I only had seven students in all), he quickly became my favorite. Getting to know him better and witnessing how much progress he made in learning English was easily one of the more rewarding experiences of my life, and it gave me some insight as to why teachers like to teach.

But Phong gave me some insight into other things too.

Like any other elementary student, Phong had a spelling list each week, and every week we would do various activities to help him understand the meanings of the words he was learning to spell and incorporate them into his working vocabulary. Towards the end of my time with him, he was capable enough with English that I would have him demonstrate his understanding of the meaning of each spelling word by using it in a sentence.

That’s what we were doing one morning when Phong came to the word “yellow.” He paused and looked around for a minute, and then smiled and exclaimed:

“Yellow. My arm is yellow.”

I remember being a little taken aback. After all, we’re not supposed to refer to people in colors, right? Describing someone as “black” inconsistently draws disapproving looks, glorifying someone for being “red” generally leads to a school having to change the name of a mascot, and everyone knows that referring to an Asian as “yellow” is offensive.

In this culturally-sensitive frame of mind, I was on the verge of correcting Phong when I realized: if he said his arm was yellow, who was I to tell him it wasn’t? I mean, it was his arm, and his skin was yellowish in a way, just as mine was whitish.

It didn’t bother him in the least to say that his skin was yellow or to realize that mine was white; he knew that we were different, but he also knew that the difference didn’t matter.

It seems to me that over the years, people generally have one of two reactions to the issue of race: either that racial differences are supremely important and even insurmountable, or that there are no differences at all.

I think Phong’s approach is more correct than either of these: we are different, but those differences don’t matter with respect to our value or worth as human beings.

This is also in line with the view that the Apostle Paul put forth Galatians 3.26-29:

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, their is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wasn’t saying that there were no differences between Jews and Gentiles; he was saying that those differences are nothing when compared to the unity we share in Christ.

If we could come to the understanding of Phong, and of Paul, I think the world would be much better off.


Well, my blog makeover is officially complete.

Besides a new title and header and some other major cosmetic changes, I also included a couple of new pages in the sidebar that give a little background on myself and this blog.

I hope you like the new look, and I really hope that I got everything put back together right.

If you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, or if the RSS feed is broken or something, let me know.


Site Maintenance

As you may have noticed, my blog is undergoing a little maintenance with a new name, different color scheme, etc.

Since computer code and myself have a barely nodding acquaintance with one another, this little overhaul has been a somewhat arduous process, and I am not finished just yet.

Hopefully I’ll get it all figured out in a couple of days and will then resume regular posting.

In the meantime, thanks for your patience.


So Long, Kermit

For those of you distressed by the name in the title and the picture to the right, don’t worry: as far as I know, Kermit the Frog is as healthy as ever.

No, it’s Kermit the Saturn, my first automobile, that I am referring to.

As readers of this blog know, I was in a car wreck Sunday evening, which left Kermit in critical condition, and then Wednesday afternoon I got the news that he had been deemed “totaled.”

For most of the time I’ve had Kermit, I haven’t really been a big fan; I had to replace the engine within a month of buying him, and have had to deal with almost constant problems ever since.

Here is a (partial) list of former repairs and current problems that I’ve experienced with my car:

Former Problems/Repairs:

  • Replace Engine
  • Replace Alternator
  • Replace Brakes
  • Repair Passenger Side Electric Window
  • Repair Rear Driver Side Electric Window
  • Replace Serpentine Belt
  • Tire Blow-out
  • Repair Fuel Pump
Current Problems (Prior to the Accident):
  • Coolant Leak
  • Malfunctioning Driver Side Windshield Wiper
  • Overheating in Idle
  • 3 of 4 Air Conditioning Vents Broken
  • Missing 3 of 4 Original Floor Mats
  • Leaking Spare (Donut)
  • Cracker Passenger Side Inner-fender
  • Scratched Paint
  • Dented Hood
  • Broken Tape Player
  • Broken Handle/Clothes-Hanger
  • Cracked Reverse Light Cover
  • Cracked Driver Side View Mirror

For a long time, the myriad of problems was a source of constant frustration for me, but recently, I started to appreciate how reliable Kermit was despite all of his problems.

It kind of reminds me of an athlete who has constant nagging injuries but still plays hard every day anyway. That’s the way I was as an ultimate player, so maybe it’s fitting that that is the kind of car I had.

That, and the fact that I bought Kermit used, in 2002, for $4,000, and I’ll be receiving $4,039 for him from the insurance company have helped me to better appreciate how good of a deal I originally got.

I went to the collision shop yesterday to clean out the car and say good-bye, and Kermit left me with a parting gift: $21.07 in change, collected from various places throughout the car.

When I got Kermit, a 1999 Saturn SL-2, he already had 85,000 miles on him. Later this month would’ve made five years, and in that time, I’ve raised the odometer to 126,000.

Those 41,000 miles over the last five years haven’t been perfect. In fact, they’ve generally been slower, louder and hotter than I would’ve liked, but all in all, they’ve been good miles.

Kermit, you were a good friend, and you will be missed.



You would probably expect that a person who normally drives a Saturn wouldn't be too picky about what kind of rental car he was given.

You would generally be right.

But then yesterday, Enterprise gave me a "free upgrade" and I got stuck with a PT Cruiser.

I mean, even I have my limits.



For the second time in just five years, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves mourning the loss of one of their own.

Josh Hancock, a 29 year-old right-handed reliever who was in his second year with the Cardinals, was killed instantly early Sunday morning when his SUV struck a stationary tow truck on Interstate 64. All of the details surrounding the wreck have yet to be sorted out, but Hancock’s untimely passing brings back memories of another Cardinals’ hurler who died too young.

Darryl Kile died unexpectedly during the night of June 21, 2002 due to a coronary disease. The death came as a shock to the baseball community because Kile was just 33 years old, and seemingly in the prime of life. He was married with three kids, a three-time All-Star, two years removed from a 20-win season, and making millions of dollars a year.

The idea that death is the great equalizer is not a new one; from Ecclesiastes to Shakespeare, it is a point that has been well-made many times over.

But maybe the point is never driven home quite as hard as it is when someone like Josh Hancock or Darryl Kile dies unexpectedly. It’s at these times that we are reminded that death comes for each of us, whether in the form of a car accident, or heart attack, or old age, and that neither wealth, nor fame, nor physical ability can save us from it.

During times like these I’m also reminded of the words of Jesus in John 9.4:

“We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.”

Daylight is fading for each of us, and none of us knows for sure when night will fall on our lives. Make the most of the daylight.

The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

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