Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Surprise peak

It's 10:30 at might and the fam is asleep. I'm in the garage putting the finishing touches on elizabeth's 30th birthday present. Wait- it's not the 30th present she's getting this year- that would be crazy (crazy awesome, that is.) Rather, tomorrow is her 30th birthday. Here's a peek:



It's a tri-fold privacy screen to go in front of the bathroom window, and I made it. Booyah. Happy birthday to mrs becksbytes!

Blog 101

No, this isn't a community college course title. It's just the 101st post I've made. If I'd known that #100 was coming up, I wouldn't have wasted it on a stupid Ke$ha reference. Rats.

What this post is however is a tip of the hat to Oklahoma State Health Department officials who are trying to make this state a more healthy one. They are launching the "5320" project, which is a new health initiative aimed at saving an estimated 5320 lives of Oklahomans in a year.



It's a plan that was ((gasp!)) recommended by the state legislature, the same folks who want to make our state more dangerous by allowing open-carry guns (with no license), now want to make sure we are fit enough to run away from a crazed gun wielding maniac us healthier. Health is a good thing, and some of the plans for 5320 are actually pretty solid. They're working towards fighting childhood obesity by improving school lunch nutrition, and working to reduce tobacco use by informing the public about the risks of tobacco use, not only for the user but also for others. (Shout-out to my dad who quit smoking when I was a kid because of the dangers to his family)

This all comes from the fact that OK ranked 46th in the nation in a health survey. Not good. And this on the heels of a program by OKC Sportscaster turned Mayor Mick Cornett, who announced a few years back that "this city is going on a diet" and urged people to eat at Taco Bell as a way to cut calories. Uh, ok Mick. No wonder we're 46th on the list - the state's largest populated area has been chowing on cheesy chalupas and gordita's for 2 years. You know that "gordita" translates to "little fat one", right?

(UPDATE: Now it seems that SUBWAY is a sponsor of TCIGOAD, instead of Taco Bell. Well played Mr. Mayor.)
 
Here's to hoping that 5320 "works out" much better!

So head over to www.shapeyourfutureok.com and see what's shaping shaking up Oklahoma!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When did I write about blue lipstick?

Was it a Sarah Palin reference?

Stumbling through blog stats I found that in the last month someone was directed to the 'Bytes after googling some rather strange search terms:

Oh wait, now I remember. Curse you Ke$ha!

Lent 2011

The following is an article I wrote for the Midwest City Christian, the weekly newsletter for the church I serve.

The season of Lent is upon us, and a common traditional practice is to give something up as a showing of sacrifice for the 46 days of the season. Too often that effort can lack meaningful spiritual depth, or is targeted towards a personal goal rather than spiritual maturity. The idea of humbling oneself in sackcloth and ashes on Ash Wednesday means making the practice of sacrifice a way of life, rather than a temporary lifestyle change. The call of Christ to pick up our cross and follow him is a call to humility and peacemaking, sacrificing our own desires for the opportunity to serve our neighbors in love.
Lent draws us together in meekness, that we might recognize the Lordship of Christ above our own wishes. And the journey to the cross is one we all take alongside Jesus. May these next weeks be for you a migration in faith and understanding, that our practice of sacrifice be more than self gratification or an attempt to restart a New Year's resolution. May our sacrifice bring us closer to the Christ of the cross, and to an understanding of living a life as authentic as that of Jesus.

In the past I have given up things for Lent. The normal (or typical) things like soda, caffeine, chocolate etc. Mostly it's been luxuries of life, and things that I have been able to life quite easily and happily without. One year our youth group did a "media fast" during Lent, where each week the group fasted fro one form of media - music, TV, internet, movies etc. That may have been the most challenging Lenten season for me.

This year, I'm doing the normal soda/caffeine thing for sure. But I'm also making time each day to reflect on the teaching of Jesus, his life, what he really  said and did and how those things change me. What I'm learning I'll share with you periodically. Hopefully what is revealed is more about us and how we treat each other, and less about affirming any preconceived ideas about Jesus.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Oklahoma Rising" then - falling now.

What goes up must come down.

The year was 2007 and Oklahoma was in full-on centennial mode. Everyone was getting in on the excitement. Even good ol' country folk like Okie boy Vince Gill paid tribute to the state who was "rising up to be the best":

A few short years later, and a massive tsunami of conservative politicians moving into both houses and the Gov. mansion, The Sooner State is now on the verge of falling. Not falling like pretty snowflakes or feathers or even a slow, controlled decent like an airplane landing.

No, Oklahoma is teetering on the edge of an epic fall, like the kind seen in car chase movies where the bad guys drive into the Grand Canyon and the car rolls over 50 times and the hood and doors fly off and then it explodes in mid air and crashes into the canyon floor. And explodes again. And the sheriff pulls his cigar out of his mouth and says, "Oh. My. God."

A recent tax credit bill that that got overwhelming approval in the Republican controlled state Senate had an amendment proposed by Democratic Tulsa Senator Tom Adelson. His amendment called for the abolishment of the State personal and corporate Income Tax, cutting a third of the states' revenue. His claim is that he wants the republicans to be forced to keep their campaign promises of cutting taxes and reforming government.

The problem here of course, is that Oklahoma is facing a 17 billion dollar debt, and a budget deficit for FY 2011 in the 400 million dollar range. Cutting taxes as it has been proven over and over again during the last 30 years, just doesn't do a good job of providing a balance to budget deficit or state/national debt.

"Trickle Down" doesn't work because the farthest down the money makes it is the bottom of a fat cat's pocket.

So of course it's in everyone's best interest that the state senate passed a bill to lower taxes, even with a sarcastic amendment killing the income taxes. Who is calling whose bluff here? What is this, a game to them? With this vote including Sen. Adelson's amendment, Republicans have essentially notified the citizens of Oklahoma that they are willing to let the state crumble at the cause of their political ideology.

Or, the political/religious blog "Ethics Daily" puts it this way:
Oklahoma Republicans are not bluffing when they say they [agree with Grover Norquist's] desire to reduce government until it can be drowned in a bathtub.
Let's be very real about this. If the state house passes this bill unchanged, and if Governor Fallin signs it into law, then Oklahoma will become even more of a corporate state. Some of the employees in the Dept. of Ed. are already being paid by corporate foundations anyway (campaign contributors of the newly elected state superintendent).

Oklahoma has some of the lowest personal and corporate taxes in the country, and we celebrate that with some of the lowest education standards and scores and highest rates of school drop out and teenage pregnancy. We sport some of the highest incarceration rates of women, and lowest scores for personal health and access to necessary resources for the poor, elderly, minority, and intellectually challenged persons (basically everyone who isn't a white, suit-wearing, flag waving evangelical male).

So, the congress is advancing a bill that cuts the tax rate for the most wealthy in the state from 5.5% to 5.25% (noting that there is a cap on taxable income already, which in itself is a tax break) while the shrinking middle class and the growing lower class are left to keep it all together. Nice.

Stay classy, Oklahoma.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting All "Science-y"



Celery and 2 colors. He's drawing his observations. What a cool kid!