Because life is a series of edits

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Big Push

In Books, Education, Health, Holidays, Internet on March 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Despite the title, this post has nothing do with kidney stones (and no, as of this afternoon the stones have yet to "pass" – such a gentle term for what I hear is a very painful process), but thanks for asking. Rest assured, I'll post a victory announcement of some sort, complete with play-by-play and pictures (er, maybe not so much the pictures), if I survive. But I digress…

No, this week begins the last big push – 8+ weeks – before school's out for summer. Four of these days are for final exams, so we're essentially talking 40 days in the educational wilderness before vacation. At this point, it seems doable, but we'll see how the kids feel coming back tomorrow from spring break.

I've appreciated the comments and emails from several of you in response to my plan to shut things down here come April. While I've appreciated the sentiments of support and explanations of your personal blog-reading habits, I'm still planning to take a blogging sabbatical for an indefinite amount of time soon. Again, I don't feel the blog has quite yet jumped the shark, but I do feel it necessary to focus my efforts on book writing now so as to gear up for the most productive of writing summers starting in June.

I also am realizing that it's going to take all I can give in the next month to finish well my seminary classes this semester. Unlike my teaching at Westminster, which ends at the end of May, my studies at Covenant are done May 9th, with graduation being May 14th – not a lot of time to finish what I need to finish, especially in light of all that didn't happen academically the past ten days. It's going to be tight, but it can be done if I make proper adjustments now.

All that to say, faithful readers, my remaining few posts this spring may not come to the grandest of finales, but that's okay. Keep me on your subscription list or check in periodically to pick up some Fresh Linkage (I'll probably keep that going regardless), and we'll talk again soon. In the meantime, I'd appreciate your prayers on my behalf (especially for these next 40 days), and am glad to hear from you for need of the same.

PS: For some actual content this past week, Megan has been writing a series of posts on our church experience(s) of the past twelve years. It's been interesting reliving things through her eyes, so check out her posts if you haven't already: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
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This, Too, Shall Pass (Lord God, I Hope So)

In Family, Health on March 27, 2009 at 9:00 am
In the future, I'm thinking about boycotting the last week of March. Let's review:
  • End of March 2007: My bout with gout (ouch).
  • End of March 2008: The Fall of the House of Half-Pints (a sad day).
  • End of March 2009: A hybrid of the world's worst ceiling renovation/indoor dust storm combined with two (count 'em: two) kidney stones soon to make their big (Lord, I hope not) entrance.
Spring Break week started off innocently enough: Megan and the girls headed to Oklahoma to visit her folks and I got some time to relax over the weekend before starting on the big living room project. I worked a full day at the bookstore on Monday, and then began demolition late Tuesday morning:

Things went smoothly (I'm much better at demolition than construction), and I got to this point in the progress by mid-afternoon:

From here, I finished pulling down the rest of the ceiling and put the finishing touches on an unbelievable house-permeating layer of lathe, plaster, and dry wall dust despite my best (but apparently inadequate) tape and plastic job. Coated in this same filth and muck and longing for a shower, I decided to call it a day, saving the clean-up for the next morning before my friend and general contractor, Dave, showed up to start hanging the new stuff. Besides, I was beat and was ready for an early bedtime.

That plan worked until about 1 a.m., when I woke up with a terribly acute ache in my lower left back. Embarrassed by how much a simple day's worth of physical labor seemed to affect me, I fought it for about an hour before finally getting up and applying some ointment to deal with what I assumed must be a pulled muscle. Two hours, three Tylenol, a hot bath, and 60 unsuccessful sleeping positions later, I determined that something else must be wrong and called my doctor. It was 4:30 a.m.

After taking four ibuprofen and getting in a few hours of sleep, I emailed Megan and told her I was probably in need of her returning from Tulsa, then called Dave to tell him that I probably wouldn't be available until the afternoon. Once the doctor's office opened, I made an appointment and went in, first seeing the doctor, who then me on for some lab work and a CT scan. Sure enough, I was the proud owner of not one but two kidney stones – the smaller one measuring 2×2 millimeters and still in the kidney; the larger one measuring 2×7 millimeters and making its way to my urinary tract.

Yeah, that's what I thought/said, too.

Coming home, I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my prescribed pain medication, called Dave and cancelled for the day, and then called Megan, who had gotten my email and was already heading back to St. Louis with the ladies. I slept the afternoon and rejoiced at my wife and children walking in the door. By that time I was feeling a little better, so because the dust-covered house looked like something out of an archaeological dig, we grabbed some sandwiches at Jimmy John's and went to the park for a picnic before coming home, watched a movie (all six of us) in our bedroom, and finally turned in for the night.

Both Megan and I slept great and I was feeling pretty good Thursday morning, so we picked up the work site just in time for Dave to show up to start hanging 2x4s from which to hang the drywall. As he didn't need my help, I went back upstairs to lay down and ended up spending the rest of the morning there, as I had thrown up while trying to "push fluids" and felt weak again. Megan took the girls to the library so I could rest. By the time Dave was ready for me in the early afternoon, I was ready to work, and we made good progress all afternoon, getting to this point:

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And then to this point: 

100_1628.JPG 

The good news: the worst (and messiest) part of the ceiling renovation is over; the other news: because of my illness and the fact that the ceiling needs a few more rounds of tape and mud before it's officially "done," it's doubtful we're going to get anything painted before school starts on Monday. This unfortunate reality mimics life in many ways: sometimes it takes so much effort just to maintain things that the time and energy required to actually improve them seems out of reach, and that's not even counting all the filth – dust in our house; sin in real life – that accumulates along the way (I won't even try to metaphorically figure out where kidney stones fit in…).

So, that's been my week – some progress, some pain, but little really to show for it (though if I successfully give birth to the stones before school starts, that will be a real accomplishment, especially if I live to tell about it). The encouraging thing for me in all this is I haven't really lost my temper, nor played the "woe is me" card (though one could argue I've been saving it up for this blog post), nor felt tempted to "curse God and die" as Job's wife suggested in the midst of his pain.

No, if anything (believe it or not), I've prayed more and tried to make the best of some unfortunate circumstances. In the midst of my struggles (minimal as they are in the larger scope of the world's problems), I've somehow been almost grateful for them and for what God has taught me through them. I've felt like I've learned some things about praying through pain and dealing with physical suffering – things I haven't really had to do much of in my life, but will probably have to do more of as I and others around me get older – and that encourages me.

In the words of my mother, "This, too, shall pass." With regard to my kidney stones, Lord God, I hope so.

Bring on April.

All Must Be Well

In Calling, Church, Family, Friends, Humanity, Marriage, Places & Spaces, Thought on March 22, 2009 at 5:43 pm

My mom and I had lunch Saturday, as she was in town for a Mary Kay conference at the St. Louis Convention Center. I took her to Tigin, an Irish pub Megan and I had discovered as part of a mystery shop date a few months ago – cool place. I can't remember the last time I had a meal with my mom that didn't include Dad, Megan, or any combination of children, so we had a novel time catching up.

The conversation went a variety of directions, but one topic that came up was all the debt America is accruing and the impact of that on multiple generations. I've never known Mom to get upset by too many things political, but she had obviously spent some time thinking about the consequences for her children and grandchildren. She was concerned, she said, and spoke of how, the older she gets, the more realistic she's trying to be in adding to – rather than spending – our inheritance.

Thanking her for her thoughtfulness and honesty, I shared a little of my perspective (semi-transcribed versions here and here if you're interested) on the mess the government is making of the financial sector, as well as a little about the moral dilemmas (here, here, here, here, and here just to link a few) that will impact our nation's future in ways as significant as any financial crisis. The conversation could have turned into a real bummer had not we ended up agreeing there's really little hope for things apart from the grace of God. Simply put, it was a good and meaningful time.

Finishing lunch and dropping Mom off at the Convention Center for the rest of her conference, I made my way to Clayton for a wedding. My friend and teaching colleague, Abby Doriani, was due to get married at 2:00, but I underestimated the hassle the I-64 repair shutdown from Kingshighway to Hanley would be and realized I was going to be late. I finally made it to Clayton, found a parking place, and ran up to the church, figuring I missed Abby's procession, but would at least make it for the remainder of the ceremony and reception.

As I opened the front door to sneak in, I almost ran over Abby's dad, Dr. Dan Doriani, who was leading Abby and the bridesmaids up the stairs into the foyer before proceeding into the sanctuary. As I had Dr. Doriani for several classes at Covenant, I smiled and shook his hand, trying to be mindful of the fact that he probably had a lot on his mind and now might not be the best time for small talk. I waved to Abby, who looked beautiful in her wedding gown, and then I headed up the stairs to the sanctuary to find a seat.

At the top of the stairs, I saw Abby's mother, Debbie, and gave her a hug. Far from being a dreaded mother-of-the-bride, Debbie was all smiles, asked how I was, thanked me for coming to the wedding, and reassured me there were plenty of seats left, but I would have to go in after Abby and her dad did as the seating of grandparents had already started. She gave me a quick wave, then took her place at the door to the sanctuary and was escorted in by one of the ushers, followed by Abby's first two bridesmaids.

This left Abby, her dad, her two younger sisters (each of whom was a matron/maid of honor), and me standing in the foyer. Abby noticed me trying to blend into the wall so as not to intrude on the family moment, but as it obviously wasn't working, she humorously asked how I was enjoying my behind-the-scenes experience of her wedding. I laughed and said I was just taking notes. Her sisters each gave her a kiss and went in, and then it was Abby's turn to walk arm-in-arm with her dad through the doors to get married.

More than most, the wedding ceremony was a very warm reminder of how the God-given institution of marriage is (and is to be) a reflection of Christ's relationship with his bride, the Church. In his charge to the couple, Dr. Doriani spoke of the differences between romantic and divine love, but stressed the need for both in marriage. Vows were taken, the community affirmed them, and everyone rejoiced in the fact that two were becoming one before their very eyes. It was a beautiful thing, and afterward, we all went downstairs for cake and punch (another beautiful thing).

For me, the afternoon was an insightful one: in light of the good but sobering discussion with Mom at lunch, I needed the reassurance of Christ's relationship with his Church that a marriage ceremony can provide; despite the pressures of the day, I saw parents who didn't make their daughter's marriage all about them (or even about her), but about Christ's relationship with his Church; and, strangely for the first time, I imagined my own daughters getting married – each with her three sisters as bridesmaids – and prayed that their weddings would reflect Christ's relationship with his Church as well…even if there's little money to pay for them…or even less morality left in our culture to care.

This morning at church, we sang the following verse:

"We expect a bright tomorrow, all will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, all is well
On our Father's love relying, Jesus every need supplying
Yes, in living or in dying, all must be well"

Because of Christ's relationship with his Church, all must be well…both in the now and the not yet. I needed that reminder, and I'm grateful to God for it this Lord's Day.

The Contentment Equation

In Friends, Health, Humanity, Science, Westminster on March 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I had a tough discussion with a student this week – tough not because of the student, but because of the student's family situation. Details aren't important for my purposes here, so I'll refrain from sharing any; suffice it to say, I wanted to help a lot more than I could. Leaving school, I prayed for the student, asking God to grant strength and maturity in handling parents who are both behaving badly.

As I was praying, I wondered when the last time the student had ever felt real and extended contentment in life. Was it within the past year? Doubtful – we've been processing the situation together since at least November. Any time during the teenage years? Possibly, but most of what the student is dealing with has been years in the making, and teenagers pick up on that stuff. When my student was in elementary school? I hope not (that would be a while ago). Even before then? Man.

I think about stuff like this a lot – not just with kids, but adults as well. My theory (and I'm just throwing it out here) is that the further a person has to go back to find real and extended contentment, the older they feel and seem to others. Granted, this idea may not be rocket science (and I'll grant that my definitions of "real" and "extended" are more than a bit fuzzy), but I wonder if a math-type could put together an equation to qualitatively test my hypothesis; all I've got is a gut feeling it's true.

As any good teacher asks a student for an answer to his own question, I tried to answer mine. When was the last period of real and extended contentment for me? When was the first? How many have there been in between? Most importantly (I think), how young (or old) does the accumulation or absence of these make me seem to others? I'll be honest: I feel (and have felt) pretty content for much of the past year, but has that been contentment or just happiness? What really marks a difference between the two?

A favorite passage on this topic is Paul's statement in Philippians 4:11-13:

"I have learned in whatever situation I am to be a content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

God's promise in verse 13 is every Christian's favorite – that is, until they discover that being content is what God promises to strengthen us for (instead of just winning sport events or passing tests). For hermeneutical reasons, I stopped applying this verse to non-contentment kinds of things a long time ago, but I'm not sure how recent it's been since I picked it up again to apply it in the right way. I'm not sure I'm that brave.

With regard to my schizophrenic inquiries above, I'm still thinking through my answers; however, I'm as interested in whether the questions are even the right ones as well. What do you think of my equation (try this for starters: PA (perceived age) = AA (actual age) – C (contentment) / T (time))? How accurate does it seem in measuring your own experience? And what does it take for you to feel as well as talk about being content in your own life?

The End of an Era (Take 2)

In Internet on March 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Including this one, I've got seven posts to write before I hit my 500th; after that, I'm going to shut things down here at Second Drafts (or at least take an early sabbatical until fall) so as to focus on getting the ThirtySomewhere book finished by then. Few seem to be reading here anymore, and even fewer comment, so it would seem a good time to embrace the inevitable, at least for now.

Other than switching from WordPress to TypePad, I honestly don't know what's changed, but something apparently has – my readership is down over 50%, and many folks who used to be regular commenters have seemingly dropped out of the blogosphere. I wrote a few months ago that I disagreed with the rumors I'd heard that personal blogs were dying, but apparently the rumors are true and I was wrong. I don't know if I've become either too general or too focused in what I write for people's tastes, but I'm not one to hold on to stuff that doesn't seem to be working; thus, after six more posts, I'm shutting it down.

With this in mind, I'd ask your help in making these last six posts count. Is there anything in particular you'd like for me to write (or not write) on? Is there something you'd actually consider commenting on if I wrote about it? I'd appreciate hearing your ideas, as mine don't seem to be too interesting to anyone but me (and that and a wooden nickel will get you a nice cup of Jack Squat).

If I write at my normal pace of about two posts a week, my plan should take me through the end of March, at which time I'll begin the final push to finish up my seminary studies, finish up the semester teaching, and prepare to focus solely on finishing the ThirtySomewhere book by the end of summer. Maybe I'll be ready to blog again by then; maybe I won't. Regardless, if these last few weeks are the end, I'd appreciate your help to make them the best they can be.

Six posts and counting…

Saturday Morning Summary

In Education, Family, Places, Places & Spaces, Sports on March 14, 2009 at 8:10 am
Here's the latest:
  • I finished up the third quarter of school at WCA on Wednesday by doing a six-hour grading blitz all day on Thursday, then meeting with dozens of parents Thursday night and Friday morning for parent/teacher conferences. Apart from the hassle of getting ready, I enjoy talking with parents – I get to be pastor, counselor, and friend during the time. Spring Break in one more week!
  • The girls and I had a really good bike ride yesterday afternoon, riding from Maplewood all the way to The Hill and back. Though a bit chilly, the girls did great, though I'm probably not going to take them out on a busy Friday afternoon again (too much traffic). I wish we had some trails around here (or a bike rack for one of our vehicles to be able to drive to some).
  • I'm working the bookstore all day today (that is, 9:30-2:30) – the first Saturday shift I've worked all year. I'm bringing two administrative assistants (a.k.a. "Frick and Frack") with me, so I'll at least have some entertainment if things are slow. 
  • Speaking of books, I'm reading too many right now (roughly eight). I'm also having problems staying awake between chapters. I hate when that happens.
  • Somehow, I've fallen behind in my online seminary studies again. I just don't have the time/really enjoy sitting and listening to recorded lectures from five years ago, especially on this particular topic. My teaching and learning class is going a little better, but I've got some work (read, write a case study, etc.) to do before class Tuesday night.
  • Last night, I watched part of the Mizzou/Oklahoma State game from the Big XII tournament. Mizzou apparently won (I went to bed), and looks to have a pretty easy path to winning the tournament against Baylor as Kansas and Oklahoma were upset earlier on. But don't count on them just yet: historically speaking (and I'm talking decades here), the better Mizzou's chances tend to be, the worst they do. And yes, you can quote me.
  • Speaking of sports, there's a great cover story on Albert Pujols in Sports Illustrated this week. Sounds like Albert got my email from a month ago…or not.
  • For those who haven't figured it out yet, the new Facebook design is actually Twitter with a blue paint job. I still don't get the fascination.
Have a good Saturday, folks.

Melonhead, Aisle 12

In Family, Places, Places & Spaces, Pop Culture on March 12, 2009 at 6:30 am

Last night, Megan sent me to our local Shop 'n Save Spend to pick up a few basic staples to hold us over until she can do it for real on Friday. I had maybe 7-8 items on my list, all of which took me 45 minutes to find.

Can someone please explain to me the philosophy of grocery store organization? I get why the milk is always in the back and why the cat litter's not in the produce aisle, but I'm not sure anything else made sense.

Bike Buddies

In Family, Health, Places & Spaces, Technology, Young Ones on March 8, 2009 at 5:34 pm
It's been a beautiful weekend here in St. Louis – blue skies, temps in the 70s. Despite all the grading I needed to get done (and still have to do), the girls and I spent a fair amount of time (translation: hours) riding bikes all around Maplewood and enjoying the weather. The ladies are all pretty good riders, so it was a fun thing to do together.

Bike Buddies

Last summer, a student gave us this Trail-A-Bike her family had outgrown, so I finally got it out and hooked it up. Once my five-year-old and I both got used to it (the pic above is our first attempt), I put on my helmet and some better footwear and we had a great time. She's quite the taskmaster ("Come on, Dad! Pedal!"), and has assumed the role of my own personal trainer/entertainer, breaking into a rousing chorus of "B-I-N-G-O" while flying down hills (which, of course, is supposed to be motivation for me to climb them).

Good times, good times.

U2: A Memoir

In Musicians on March 7, 2009 at 8:45 am

No Line on the Horizon I remember being sixteen in 1987 and standing in the middle of multiple four-foot-high stacks of black Joshua Tree LPs in a music store in Munich, Germany. People were going absolutely nuts to get their hands on the albums, but as I had not yet made the band's acquaintance, I just stood and watched for a while, wondering who these guys were and why they seemed to mean so much to my European counterparts. Finally touched by the madness, I bought a cassette and brought it back with me to the States.

That was all it took.

As I alluded in my earlier post this week, U2's music has played as a meaningful soundtrack to the second half of my life, especially the last 8-10 years. As is true for many fans, the albums through the 90's were not some of my favorites (though there were still some great songs, particularly on Achtung Baby), but when the band came back with All That You Can't Leave Behind in 2001, I remember feeling the way I did in Munich again. Who were these guys, and why did the music they made mean so much to me?

Much of my affection for U2 then had to do with where I was in life at the time. I'd just transitioned roles with The Navigators and was investigating a possible missionary opportunity in Uganda (the album served as the soundtrack for my first trip to Africa). Bono's lyrics to songs like "Walk On" were particularly motivating, as I wanted nothing more than to do what God wanted me to do long-term, but I just wasn't sure what exactly that was (though I was pretty sure it was along different lines than what I was doing then).

By the time the next album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, came out at the end of 2004, it was again the same feeling, both musically and in terms of ministry. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was right around this time that we decided to make the huge transition from Colorado Springs to St. Louis to begin seminary. Thankfully, Megan had come to love the band as well, and as we were moving to the Midwest in the spring and then to St. Louis that summer, we decided our last fling before I began Greek in June would be to see U2 in May in Chicago on the first leg of the Vertigo tour (which, by the way, got recorded as part of this).

Wow. We said it then and we still say it now: wow. Greatest concert ever.

Like every true U2 fan, we have all the albums and enjoy the "standards" from each, but the last two albums (along with Joshua Tree) hold the most meaning for me. I remember totaling my car in high school swatting at a fly while listening to "Where the Streets Have No Name" (consider the irony); I remember Megan and I deciding, after making up from yet another awful fight, that "With or Without You" was "our song" (in case you're wondering, it still is); I remember semi-seriously planning my funeral in my head in case I didn't make it back from Uganda the first time, wanting "Walk On" played for the benediction (thankfully, I safely returned); I remember standing alone in the middle of our seminary apartment that first summer listening to "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," literally weeping because of all the insecurity I was feeling (there was a lot of it).

The list could go on, but I won't bore you with my reminiscing. The good news is that we've got a new set of songs to play and play again – good songs with actual melodies we can sing and lyrics with real meaning we can take from and add to (in other words, what we've come to expect from and experience with U2 all these years).

The girls know and love U2's music and they all have their favorite tunes. One dream I have is to take them all to a first concert before they fly the coop. Will this album's tour be the one we all make? I don't know, but how cool for them if they could say, "My first concert was U2." Surely that experience would count for something when we're all sitting in family therapy ten years from now.

All that said, if you haven't picked up No Line on the Horizon, consider this a heartfelt recommendation – it's good and gets better with every listen. And, if you've got something to add from your own U2 experience, feel free to express yourself in the comments – always enjoy hearing the stories associated with this great band.

Who’s the Daddy?

In Church, Family, Humanity, Places, Places & Spaces on March 6, 2009 at 11:08 am

Well, the recession (when are we going to call it what it is: a depression?) has come to Westminster, but the news could be much worse. Our leadership has called for a salary freeze and put plans on hold regarding the new campus, but that's about it; no salary cuts, no lay-offs, and our enrollment numbers are still (somewhat surprisingly) strong.

I tend not to fret too much over things absolutely out of my control, so I didn't. However, I was glad to receive a teaching contract yesterday for next year (which I promptly signed and returned within five minutes of receiving). My joy is not so much in still having a job (though that's relieving), but more that the administration wants to keep me around another year (yes, I'm an affirmation junkie). Whew.

Megan, the girls, and I celebrated my newly-renewed employability with a rare trip to Hacienda (our favorite Mexican restaurant) last night. For reasons other than just the margarita, I was again reminded how good God is and has been to our family, and thanked him accordingly over chips and salsa. I want my girls to know that I am not the provider for our family; God the Father is.

I also prayed for those who have lost jobs or are trying to find them. It can't be easy right now, and my prayer is that even in the midst of uncertainty, God will meet needs through his sovereignty and his Church. I'm not sure if/when/how things are going to turn around (again, another thing completely out of my control), but God is neither surprised nor absent in the midst of our economic struggles. Pray with me for others, that they may see God's faithfulness in our world today as Old Testament Israel did then, as recorded in the Psalms:

"I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread."
Psalm 37:25
God is good…all the time.

Moved

In Thought on March 4, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I don’t know if you know, but if you don’t, I’m no longer blogging here at WordPress. Check out (and re-bookmark) me at http://dunhams.typepad.com/seconddrafts.

Approaching Normality?

In Books, Calling, Education, Family, Places & Spaces, Seminary, Westminster on March 2, 2009 at 11:39 am
"Normality: being within certain limits that define the range of normal functioning."

I've not been motivated to write much of late as 1) there's been so little interaction here on the site the past two months; and 2) I'm up to my eyeballs reading and writing. For those anticipating email from me for one reason or another, hang in there – it's coming.

As it's now March, I'm newly-stoked about the fact that, in roughly 2 1/2 months, I'll be on the backside of a seminary degree and another school year of teaching. This summer will mark our fifth year in St. Louis, which doesn't really seem possible. Time flies when you're in transition, I guess, and it's felt like we've been in transition most of that time.

Thankfully, it's beginning to feel less transitory, and I hope this trend continues as we expect getting a more "normal" summer under our belts. Currently, I have no plans to 1) take summer classes; 2) buy a house; nor 3) move. I do plan to go to South Dakota again with 25 WCA high schoolers in June, possibly make a trip to a beach in Florida with Megan and the girls in July, and finish (finally) writing the ThirtySomewhere book with Doug by mid-August, but that's about it (and that's enough).

Between now and then, I've got a downstairs at home to fix up and paint over Spring Break, six hours of course credit to finish at Covenant, and four commandments and half of the New Testament left to teach (not to mention all the grading that goes with that). I've also got plenty of husbanding and parenting to do, so that should keep me out of trouble.

In many ways, it feels like I'm coming to the end of a particular chapter of life. How do I know a new chapter might be beginning? Several reasons, but mostly because U2's got a new album coming out tomorrow, and that usually means something cosmically significant for us (more on that, perhaps, in a future post).