Friday, February 27, 2009


If you ever decide to go postal and go up against the SWAT team, don't. You will lose.

Tuesday night, I got to play cops and robbers with the Kansas City SWAT team. They do training exercises and I got to participate by role playing the bad guy. I got a pistol with simulation bullets that had paint in them rather than lead. (this helps in maintaining the general health of the participants) The SWAT team had varying weapons including pistols and assault rifles, along with a defensive shield. We were all wearing bullet proof vests along with helmets to further assist in protective gear.

The scenario simulated was that someone had gone on a rampage and was holed up and negotiations had been unsuccessful. I hid in an apartment on a floor of an abandoned apartment complex. The SWAT team then cleared the adjacent apartment to simulate what they would do in a real scenario to prevent errant bullets from striking innocent people.

They then entered the one I was in and cleared the first part of the apartment before finding me. I was hidden in a closet and we had a verbal altercation but I ended up giving up that time. The 2nd scenario, I hid in a different apartment and was behind a kitchen counter. When they found me and said show me your hands, I did but came up firing with the SIM gun. They proceeded to pepper me with rounds of their own. My gun ended up jamming and I resorted to wrestling/grappling with them. Of course 6 well trained SWAT officers put me down in short order.

We then role played a couple hostage scenarios where I held one of them and used him as a body shield. I didn't think there would be any way they could hit just me and not the hostage but they popped me a couple times on the side of the head.

The whole adrenaline, accelerated heart rate, antsiness of waiting for them to find you, and tense muscles gave a good perspective on how a real scenario might go down. It was very cool all around. They are very good at what they do.

Photo by Granada America

Friday, February 20, 2009

When March Went Mad

When March Went Mad by Seth Davis

Seth Davis has written an in depth account of the breakout 1979 NCAA championship basketball game centered around the 2 superstars: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The book follows the very different but parallel stories of Bird and Johnson throughout their childhood into high school their high profile recruitment, college careers, the climactic championship game, and then a small portion of their NBA careers.

Johnson was the gregarious extrovert, Bird the quiet and at times reclusive introvert but both were outstanding on the basketball court. Johnson grew up in Lansing, Michigan the same city as Michigan State while bird grew up in French Lick, Indiana. Bird's sometimes rough around the edges persona resulted in the moniker "The Hick From French Lick." Johnson earned his nick name "Magic" from a newspaper reporter during high school.

While Michigan State was a relatively major basketball program, Indiana State, where Bird played, did not compete with the same caliber programs and was comparatively little known as a basketball power. Each of these athletes led their teams to success throughout their college sports careers. Academically, Bird actually completed his degree in education prior to going to the NBA while Johnson left school after his sophomore season to join the pros.

The book is not limited to Bird and Johnson but also delves into the players' college coaches Jud Heathcoate for Johnson and Bob King then Bill Hodges for Bird. Discussion of the coaches' styles is explored with Heathcoate being extremely intense and at times inflammatory and Hodges with a focused but quieter and at times shy style.

Interestingly, Bird was recruited by Bobby Knight at Indiana University first but after enrolling there became overwhelmed by the college atmosphere and dropped out before eventually enrolling in Indiana State.

Prior to reading the book, I did not realize that Johnson played point guard during college. He is 6 foot 8 so was a very tall point guard.

There is also discussion in the book of how NBC helped promote and make the NCAA tournament a big time sporting event. Prior to that time, there was some interest in collegiate basketball but nothing on the scale of what it is today. ESPN was just an idea at that point and broke into its infancy the following year. CBS was also a player that Davis discussed in the television market.

Davis, performed a great deal of research and interviews in writing the book and the resulting detail is excellent. It is both a biographical account of the 2 main characters as well as the season leading up to the landmark game and the supporting cast of coaches, teammates, and media. The thesis is how this championship game helped launch college basketball into the big time and though more time could be devoted to this discussion Davis is convincing in presenting it, at a minimum, as a component in the resulting success and popularity of the sport.

If you found this review helpful please let Amazon know at this link.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman and Scotty Smith

I really enjoyed Speechless.In this book, Steven Curtis Chapman and his pastor Scotty Smith walk us through the disruptive grace of God. Each chapter starts with the lyrics to one of Chapman's songs which helps to set the tone for the discussion. Chapman and Smith then delve into how God has moved in their personal lives and take us through their personal stories. This also provides more background as to where the songs came from and why they were written. Being a long time fan of Chapman's music, I was interested to learn more about his journey from childhood, to budding musician, to well known Christian artist.

Many times people in the ministry feel they must put on an act and their happy smiley face as if all is well with the world. Ministers have many of the same hurts and hangups as the average person. Both Chapman and Smith are honest about the need to let down the hair and be real at times. God worked in their lives to take them in different directions than they may have imagined. By disrupting their pre-conceived lives, God poured His grace into them and allowed them to experience Him in deeper and more meaningful ways.

I read the book a chapter at a time rather than going straight through it. While the book is not so deep that multiple chapters at a time are too difficult to take in, I felt that reading it over a period of time allowed more of the message to sink in. This book is an excellent encouragement to anyone in being real with God, especially anyone in the ministry.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cayman Islands

Last week, I went to the Cayman Islands for both work and play. While there I ran or walked on the beach at least once every day. The hotel was right next to 7 Mile Beach which is supposed to be one of the best beaches in the world. I had hoped to go to Stingray City to swim with stingrays but they did not go out on a trip due to weather that day.

Instead, I got to swim with some dophins which was a very cool experience. One of them pulled me while I held on to her dorsal fins then also pushed me from behind while I held on to a kick board. They are very powerful and I would estimate we went around 15 mph through the water.

I also went to a turtle farm where they raise turtles both for food as well as to release back into the wild. Since the 1980s they said they had released around 31,000 turtles into the wild. They also had some Riddley Kemp turtles which are one of the most endangered types in the world. When you pick the sea turtles up, they flap around trying to get away but if you rub under their neck they calm down. They had turtles all the way from about 5 months old to around 15 years old in tanks varying by age.

Also at the turtle farm, there was another section which had a tropical bird aviary as well as some iguanas both on display and roaming the park. They had a blue iguana which is indigenous to the island and is also endangered.

A unique spot I visited is called Hell. It is a limestone formation out in a field with scant vegetation, thus the name. They have a gift shop there and a guy running around in a devil costume saying "welcome to Hell." It's pretty funny. Interestingly, the Cayman Islands has a great deal of Christian influence and there was a church right down the street from it. I was reminded of the great C.T. Studd quote. "Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell." See below for a great juxtaposition picture of this.

The Cayman Islands are a British Territory but they govern themselves so I got a new passport stamp. They use their own currency which is tied to the US Dollar and equates to 1.25 US dollars per Caymanian dollar. There are actually more companies based in the Cayman Islands than there are residents with around 48,000 residents to 55,000 companies. This is based on the favorable tax treatment since they do not have any income tax. The main way that the government makes money is through tourism and fees charged for a company to set up business there. Each day there were tons of tourists who would come to shore from the cruise ships.

Being a British Territory, they also drive on the left side of the road so that was a bit of an adjustment for me. After about a day, I mostly had the hang of it. However, when I got back to my car at the airport, I had to mentally switch gears to reorient myself to the right side of the road.

If you got outside George Town, the main shopping district, the island has more of a small town feel to it. Going here during hurricane season is not recommended due to the Cayman Islands having more hurricane strikes than anywhere else in the world.

When it's not hurricane season, the weather is great. When I left Kansas City it was 24 degrees and upon arrival in the Caymans it was around 80 so that was a welcome change.

7 Mile Beach


Table at restaurant where we ate right at the water's edge. Very nice restaurant


Swimming with a dolphin

I decided not to swim with this fella

Blue igauna



Kemp Riddley turtle one of the most endangered in the world

Caiman (similar to an alligator but smaller)

Holding a baby sea turtle

Chickens, they roam the island and show up in random places

Waves that were crashing against the rocks

Palm tree

Hell, Grand Cayman Island

This seems like the perfect quote for this picture. "Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell." -- C.T. Studd

More chickens/rooster
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