Ruby Tuesday

Posted on: 12/30/07 2:28 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m easily impressed.

I’m a food connoisseur, but not like you would think. I’m an aficionado of simple foods. Where some people are impressed with obscure little French restaurants with five star reviews… I’m a fan of a large bacon burger at Chili’s.

Call me shallow, but I love ribs, burgers, Chicago style pizza and Costco hot dog meals.

But does my blue collar taste for food exclude me from being a fan of good food? I hope not. I just spend a lot less money than most people on my dinners out! When some of my friends dine out at Ruth’s Chris, for the price of one of those people I take my whole family out to Outback.  🙂

Today I passed a Ruby Tuesday.

Some might scoff at this restaurant, a mere Chili’s or Marie Calendars to many. But it holds a high regard in my book.

Our city didn’t have one so I discovered it on the road years ago. I was impressed with the salad bar and the burgers. But then I accidentally stumbled into something wonderful- the ribs! I’m a big fan of good ribs. But I rarely find them the way I like them. Ruby Tuesdays makes a fine rack of ribs, let me tell you.

My friend Tom King will vouch for me. Tom is a food snob (he knows it). He watches way to much Emeril and cooks better than most chefs. When the two of us were in Knoxville, TN a couple years ago I told him about Ruby Tuesday’s ribs. He laughed. I told him, “You just wait until you taste them.” First we went to an authentic TN restaurant and had their ribs. They were very mediocre. Then we had Ruby Tuesday’s ribs. Tom was pleasantly surprised. Far better than the TN rib place, that’s for sure.

So I indulged in ribs and hot wings at Ruby Tuesday’s again today. I called my son Alec just to rub it in. He told me he was going to hang up on me.

If you haven’t tried them… give em’ a try. You’ll be surprised.

Oh… but believe it or not, one opened by my house (in Folsom) and it was really bad. I was so disappointed. Finally a Ruby Tuesday’s close to my house, and it was way below par.

I guess you can’t win em’ all.

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Mall of America

Posted on: 12/29/07 8:33 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow! I never realized how big this thing actually was.

I’m in Minneapolis, MN right now speaking at a youth conferance about a block from the largest mall in America. you probably have heard of it- it’s called the Mall of America. I had heard that it was big… but DANG!

I was trying to explain it to my wife. I told her, “You know Sunrise Mall back at home? Take three of those and stack them on top of each other. Now take four of those ‘three story’ stacks and make them a square with a huge arena in the middle. Now fill the arena with an amusement park. There you have it!”

I called home from the mall and Ashley wanted to talk to me. I began describing the mall to her (not omitting any details about the amusement park)… and she began wimpering. LOL.

It’s amazing. I walked around for a few hours and didn’t even scratch the surface. They had my wife’s favorite clothes store New York and Company so I had to browse through there and check the sale racks (I’m a bargain shopper). Great stuff on the $5.99 racks! Plus, no tax on clothes here. Not bad.

But seeing those stores just made me miss her, so I had to bail.

I actually ended up in the movie theatre watching the newest Coen brothers  flick (they are directors), No Country for Old Men, with Tommy Lee Jones. (Good film, but so bizarre that it treaded on the obsurcity- I think I just made up that word- of David Lynch)

Such was my experience at The Mall of America.

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McKee Christmas Activities

Posted on: 12/28/07 12:51 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Christmas was very memorable this year. Every Christmas our family (me, Lori and the kids) get together with my parents, my Grandma McKee, and my brother’s family. We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. These days are usually filled with just a few activities, mostly meals (Christmas Eve at my parents, Christmas Day at our house- only half a mile from theirs). This year we decided to each choose an activity to do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. My brother’s family couldn’t connect until later, so it was just our family and my parents that chose activities (Grandma just wanted to watch).
Each person was to choose one simple activity. No rules… nothing extravagant… here’s what everyone chose to do:
My Dad: He wanted us all to watch the movie The Nativity together. After attending a Christmas Eve service where he preached, we all went home for dinner and then watched the movie. It was a great glimpse of the perspective of Mary and Joseph through this pivotal yet humble historic event.
My Mom: She wanted to go on a family walk. Our little town is uniquely funny. It’s a little “redneck” burb about 15 miles East of Sacramento. On many a street you’ll find a little house that looks like a shack with chickens walking around the yard. On the same street you’ll find a million dollar home (ours is neither- I might add). On one of the streets we walked up we passed several of these “shacks” and then walked through a new neighborhood being built including a home for 1.9 million. Not too shabby. My dog Jethro was enjoying running all over their property (2.4 acres is a large property in my world).
Me: I wanted to do some sort of service project or feeding the homeless. So we came up with our own solution. Everyone donated toward McDonald’s gift certificates (because we didn’t want to give away cash). We purchased a pile of $5 gift certificates and went to the downtown to give them away. We walked up the K-street Mall (an open air mall downtown that is usually populated with quite a few homeless people) and gave a way a bunch of them. Then we hit a nearby park by the capital and gave away some more. One guy offered us a sip of his “40” to “warm up.” It was a fun experience.
Lori: She purchased two gingerbread houses and we had a contest, guys against girls- who could design the best house. Both teams grew quickly frustrated with the frosting- not a great adhesive. But we both constructed cute homes that were judged by my Grandma as an even “tie.” In all honesty, the girl’s house was better, but our yard kicked butt!
Alec: Being the artist that he is, he wanted to do a Santa Drawing contest. My dad had two easels from his training workshops, so we set them up side by side and drew two at a time. Ashley and Alyssa battled. Lori and Grandma McKee battled. My mom and dad battled and finally, Alec and I battled. Alec and I each took too long (I know this because everyone was yelling, “Hurry up! That’s enough!!!”) And despite the time spent, I think little Alyssa beat us all.
Alyssa: She wanted to do a white elephant gift exchange. We all drew numbers and then began opening $5 presents we had each purchased for the activity. Alec had the last number, therefore receiving the pick of the litter. It was a fun game and almost everyone ended up with what they wanted. My dad and mom ended up giving their prizes into the kids stockings later on in the night.
Ashley: Ashley also wanted to do a white elephant gift exchange, but when she lost out on that to Alyssa, she chose for us all to do a puzzle. We did a 500 piece puzzle with a bunch of breeds of dogs. It was really fun, but it was one of the last activities of the evenings so we were pretty tired during the last few paws and tails.
That’s it. What a great time of celebrating God’s greatest gift to us, celebrating giving, and celebrating family.

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Ashley missing polical correctness

Posted on: 12/19/07 6:46 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… I just wrote about Ashley… but as you might know (especially those of you who have read about her on my bio page), she is a continual source of laughter.

Ashley has to write a daily journal for her 5th grade class. Lori and I love reading this diary of a 10 year old. It’s hilarious enough to hear the perspective of the world through the eyes of a 10 year old, it’s even funnier when it’s Ashley.

Today Ashley’s assignment was to talk about her family traditions (each day she is given a journal prompt assigning something for her to write about) for “the holidays.” Yes, not Christmas, but the holidays. Gotta be P.C. today. So this “prompt” asked her what she does for Christmas or Hanauka and asks her to provide details.

So Ashley brings me her first draft.

I say “first draft” because, even though Ashley would love for these entries to be just one draft, she has an author for a father who often makes her rewrite her entry (thank goodness her teacher requires a parent signature on the journal entry each night). This rewrite is often necessitated not by gramatical errors or sentence structure, but by the fact that she doesn’t hesitate to talk about the dog’s bowel movements, or other inappropriate subject matter. Then she’ll randomly throw in the word “CHEESE!” because she loves to tell people that she loves cheese. (Yes, in her speech to campaign for vice president at her school this year, her opening line was, “Hi, I’m Ashley and I like cheese!) Again… this is Ashley we’re talking about here… not your normal 10 year old.

So today she brings me her “holiday traditions” journal. Draft 1 reads fine (although I laughed at her description of where we get our tree) until the last few lines. After telling us about her traditions and opening presents she simply writes:

Oh, and I’m not Jewish, so we DON’T celebrate Hanauka. We celebrate Christmas!!! (emphasis Ashley’s)

So I bring Ashley in and tell her, “Ashley, it’s okay that you celebrate Christmas, but you kind of make it sound like it’s a bad thing to be Jewish or to celebrate Hanauka. Maybe you should rewrite this last section.

So Ashley takes her journal and rewrites the ending. I leave you with her complete journal entry.

Every year during Christmas time, my family decorates the tree together. I’m always very happy whenever that happens. First we grab our tree out of it’s box. Then we put it together. And finally my dad plays christmas music and we decorate our tree together.

Another Christmas tradition that I do every year is go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas Eve. But then on Christmas day we stay and celebrate at my house. Sadly, I’m not Jewish, so I don’t celebrate Hanauka. So these are all of my Christmas celebrations.


-Ashley McKee

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Ashley’s Christmas List in One Word

Posted on: 12/17/07 5:29 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Ashley (my 10 year old) and I were hanging out today and she let me know about some of the items on her Christmas list… and they all have one thing in common: WEBKINS.
If you’re not a parent of young child right now, you might not be aware of these real cyber pets. Yes… they’re real. They are actual stuffed animals that you can snuggle with each night. And yes… they’re cyber. You can register them on the Webkins site and enter an “exciting online experience where your plush pet comes to life!” 
It’s brilliant marketing actually. When your kid brings home your Webkins toy, they log onto the site and enter the “secret code” that comes with the pet. They officially “adopt” the pet, naming them and deciding whether it’s a boy or girl. They then instantly receive “Kins cash” where they can decorate their “virtual room,” redecorate, buy clothes, etc.
Here’s the clever part. They keep kids coming to the site by providing “meters” that tell you how your pet is doing. There are three meters: happy, health and hunger. Playing and exercising your pet keeps these meters high. How do you do this? Online of course.
So yes, we as parents have to watch and limit our kids’ internet time so that our kids get some time ACTUALLY exercising outside (yeah, really outside… breathing real air!) instead of just “virtually” excercizing.
Ashley is our little dog lover, so lucky for us, she likes to take her real dog (Jethro) and play soccer with him in the back yard each day. He’s huge. He can grip a fully inflate soccer ball in his mouth (hilarious to watch!).
So, since she seems to be balancing the Webkins fad responsibly, I might just have to consider the new Webkins Penguin or German Shepherd for Ashley this year.  🙂

My Favorite Cousin

Posted on: 12/14/07 7:12 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wendy is my favorite cousin.

No insult to my other cousins, I love you all too. But Wendy (some of you might remember her story here) just overnighted me the key to my heart: Giordano’s Pizza from Chicago. Truly my favorite pizza… no… my favorite MEAL worldwide.

Yep. I’m a simple man. And Giordano’s stuffed crust pizza is about as good as it gets. Whenever I speak anywhere within two hours of Chicago, you can bet that I’ll be stopping at a Giordano’s and ordering a Giordano’s stuffed crust pizza. Last time I was there I ordered one with pepperoni and mushrooms. (Oh man… I can almost taste it just talking about it)

Well, my cool cousin from Ohio just sent me my Christmas present. Giordano’s can be overnighted anywhere in the U.S. (not cheap, let me tell you). She sent a Giordanos stuffed crust cheese pizza (an excellent choice since I’ll be sharing with the family). Of course, I’m just assuming it was Wendy. It didn’t even have a name on it. But this is something Wendy would do. I left her a voice mail… it had to be her.

We’re going to be eating very WELL today!

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Tossing Stones at Willow

Posted on: 12/13/07 7:51 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Some of you have seen articles like this one taking cheap shots at Willow Creek while totally misrepresenting them. Not many people are speaking on their behalf right now… allow me.
On one side of a room sits a guy named Bob. Bob has been a Christian most of his life and has little tolerance for those who haven’t. Bob loves tradition and hates change. But Bob’s biggest downfall is… he’s a turd! Unbelievers are repelled from the guy because he comes off snooty in every situation.
Who would you rather look like… a Pharisee, or like Jesus?
On the other side of the room sits a guy named Bill. Bill grew up with a lot of guys like Bob. Bill saw a lot of his friends running from the church because they were scared of people like Bob. So Bill started a church that tried to reach out to people like his unbelieving friends. He preached the Word, but didn’t make people feel dumb in the process. Bill’s church grew very large, led thousands of people to Christ and influenced millions.
Bob grumbled, “This isn’t the way I’ve been taught to do it!” So he returned to his home so he could continue being a turd.
But then something happened.
Bill noticed that many of the people attending his church weren’t growing like they should. Bill realized that attendance didn’t necessarily reflect life change. So Bill did something very difficult. He admitted that he needed to change his model of ministry.
When Bill confessed this publicly, Bob showed up to throw stones. “I told you so!” Bob jeered.
Bob spread stories about Bill, claiming that Bill never cared about life change, only numbers. These convoluted stories were exaggerated and unfair. But Bill was an easy target. After all, he had confessed with his own mouth that his people weren’t growing spiritually as much as they should be.
The ironic thing… Bob’s church is having the exact same problem and he doesn’t even know it. As a matter of fact, the same study that revealed to Bill about the need in his church revealed that churches just like Bob’s are struggling with the same thing. But Bob was too busy tossing stones at Bill to even notice.
Thousands upon thousands of people’s lives have been truly transformed by Christ through Bill’s church. Bill could have let that go to his head. But he didn’t. He noticed a need for growth in churches across the nation, he admitted it and he’s taking strides to change, starting with his own church.
Bob, however… is still a turd.
Don’t be a Bob.
Jonathan wrote this blog in response to this article that feathered through the internet in the month of November. For a more accurate picture of what really is going on, watch this video to check out the research first hand, or this video to hear Bill’s heart on the matter, or read articles like this that summarize some of the facts for you.

Hello Pastor

Posted on: 12/6/07 8:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Anyone who is a pastor can relate to receiving that voice mail or phone message that just makes you go, “Hmmmmm.”

This is a classic. Make sure you listen to the “megamix” at the end of the message. Classic!

CLICK HERE (and wait a few seconds, it takes a few seconds to load on a high speed connection)


On the same site… 13 different gifts that you probably DON’T want to give to members of your church elder board this year. For example… Thongs of Praise!

CLICK HERE for the whole list.


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Is Facebook Too Popular?

Posted on: 12/3/07 4:46 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Sorry, my crystal ball isn’t working. But this is an interesting theory. This guys is basically saying that he thinks Facebook’s growth in popularity could be their downfall. Check it out yourself. WIRED reports this:
Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow has (a) theory. The crux is simple — the more people get involved in social networking, the more users are likely to encounter people they’d rather avoid. Doctorow goes on to theorize that the more often this happens, the more likely people are bound to abandon a site.
His argument may be simple, but it’s genuinely tapped in to how people communicate. “That’s why I don’t worry about Facebook taking over the net,” he explains. “As more users flock to it, the chances that the person who precipitates your exodus will find you increases. Once that happens, poof, away you go — and Facebook joins SixDegrees, Friendster and their pals on the scrapheap of net.history.”
I’m not convinced. But it’s interesting to hear people’s speculations.
Here’s what I do know. Fact: Facebook is growing by leaps and bounds in popularity. MySpace… it’s holding it’s own for now.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds. Right now it seems as though many of the teenagers that are tired of the “anonymity” and “pick up” atmosphere of MySpace are fleeing to Facebook. But some teenagers are enjoying the lack of responsibility that MySpace offers.
Plus… who’s going to switch their account when they have 867 “MySpace friends?” Starting over would be pretty depressing!
Time will tell…