Thursday, July 31, 2003


The Good:
I'm employed for at least another 12 weeks. Ratings are out and for the first time in ages both WOAI and KJ-97 had good books.

The Bad:
I noticed as I was filling my caffeine-freak-sized thermal coffee mug with chewable coffee this morning that the coffee pot seemed to be fuller than I expected. I didn't think too much of it until I was about 4 miles down the highway. I believe a good bit of yesterday's coffee was still in the "fresh" pot I made. Ugh.

Did I drink it? Set your alarm for 1:45 a.m. and answer that question.

The Ugly:
Perhaps you saw this "Reuters" story the other day....

PALESTINE, West Va. (Reuters) - Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of U.S. heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming on Tuesday in a rural West Virginia community bristling with flags, yellow ribbons and TV news trucks.

But when the 20-year-old supply clerk arrives by Blackhawk helicopter to the embrace of family and friends, media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by U.S. government propaganda and credulous reporters.

It was attributed to a reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail named Deanna Wrenn...only one problem, that's not the story she wrote. This was her lead:

ELIZABETH--In this small county seat with just 995 residents, the girl everyone calls Jessi is a true heroine--even if reports vary about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her ordeal in Iraq.
"I think there's a lot of false information about her story," said Amber Spencer, a clerk at the town's convenience store.

Palestine resident J.T. O'Rock was hanging an American flag and yellow ribbon on his storefront in Elizabeth in preparation for Lynch's return.

Like many residents here, he considers Lynch a heroine, even if newspaper and TV reports say her story wasn't the same one that originally attracted movie and book deals

A Reuters editor in England apparently changed the story, but left Wrenn's byline. You can read her account of what happened here.

I don't believe in media conspiracies...but I do believe in media bias. Someone should be fired, but they didn't do us the courtesy of giving us their name.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Looking up...

They buried Eddie Cantu today. He's in Heaven, there is no doubt.
Looking down...

I have something in common with Winnie the Pooh.

Too many of my shirts fit like this....

I'm vowing to get my bicycle back in shape to ride. Presumably that will mean I'll ride it.

Looking desperate...

Really? With all the negative press President Bush receives, the economy still struggling, and more than a year before the election- this is the opposition's answer?

Please no kissing, and lose the beard.
Looking for something new...

I like this site. 60 seconds to express yourself, no thinking, just writing. Only a few folks slip into immediate profanity. Electronic graffiti with a theme.
Looking silly...

I was dismayed by ABC's coverage of the Inglewood, California court assault case involving a white police officer accused of beating up a black kid. You didn't hear about it? Good. You shouldn't have. It was an assault case! Why is this national news? I'll tell you why, because ABC hoped it would result in rioting. It was very dramatic...except there was no drama. No one rioted. An ethical news operation would have dropped coverage. ABC Radio offered special reports.

My shirts may not fit, but it's only my belly hanging out...ABC reminds me of favorite quote from Eeyore, "It's not much of a tail, but I'm sort of attached to it"


The "hit counter" has hit 1000. Of course I'm fairly certain 800 of those hits are 'spiders' crawling for email addresses and 150 are me logging in from the office, but why dwell on it?

Just to keep a balance, I put an 'anti-counter' on this page also. It generates a random number any time someone logs in.

Yes, I'm easily amused.

Okay...back to work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


I added another letter to my Ignatius file today. I call it that in deference to Ignatius Reilly, the main character in the alarmingly humorous, and somewhat offensive, Pulitzer prize winning novel, "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.

The character of Ignatius is too complex to outline here, but suffice it to say he's over schooled, and believes he is underrated.

I put a broad spectrum of stuff in my Ignatius file,( I just noticed the business card from the Bulletin Man) but it's mostly letters. There is a standing order in the newsroom that if a letter comes in from a "wacko" I get it. I enjoy trying to decipher these mass mailings of mania. I try to glean what the catalyst was that put these scribes on their slightly wobbly paths, convinced that a littering of media mailboxes would somehow right their lives. These are always mass mailings, although many have after thoughts scrawled in the margins or on the outside of envelopes.
They all complain about some perceived injustice...USUALLY IN ALL CAPS. Many contain copies of related correspondence, corroborating evidence or simply xeroxes of the various indictments bearing their names.
Most are addressed nebulously to "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN" or "DEAR SIR", but some are more's for example was addressed to: "THE ONES RESPONSIBLE...WHO KNOW WHO THEY ARE."

After that, the commonalities wane.

I have a marvelous letter from a man named Verdie Head who claims to have been an employee of the Bureau of Engraving. He says he was fired nearly 40 years ago and believes the government has been conspiring against him ever since, which is why young women, especially librarians, have been "enticing" him for the past 20 years.

I have a 16 page letter on newsprint from Bobby Graham of Tom, Oklahoma. He's a little hard to translate, but I think he believes there's a connection between the letters he mails, the eruption of Mount St. Helens, and a number of bombings, most notably the Oklahoma City bombing. He included a copy of the analysis of his urine sample, which he points out shows he's been exposed to arsenic.

One of my all time favorite letter writers is a gentleman by the name of Don Caton. He's convinced that someone broke into his car and installed a listening device which is somehow hooked into all the radio stations in San Antonio. He knows it's true because whenever he's in his car talking to himself, it seems like the disc jockey on the radio is talking back to him. He's certain it's a well organized attempt to convince him that he's mentally ill.

I don't save these letters to mock these people. I keep these letters to remind myself that life should be lived not analyzed. These ranting writers help me remember to be thankful, life could be much harder. These people I've never met, and have no plans to meet no matter how well medicated they may be in the future, help me keep the minor from becoming monumental.

And sometimes, they remind me, that it's okay to complain...

Someone's always listening...

Psalm 10:17

You hear, O Lord , the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry

Monday, July 28, 2003


"Guess whose dead?" Yeah, you're right. *

It's amazing to think of the changes Bob Hope saw in his lifetime.

The year Bob Hope was born only 14 percent of US households had a bathtub. Alabama had more people than California, so did Iowa, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The population of Las Vegas was 30.

The average life expectancy was 47. The third leading cause of death in the United States was diarrhea.

In 1903, most women only washed their hair once a month, usually using egg yolks or borax for shampoo. Canned beer hadn't been invented. There were only 144 miles of paved road in the United States and only eight-thousand cars. **

Thanks for the memories.

*twisted reference family members will understand
** statistics from the "Information Systems Advisory Body of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors" (is a blabs?)
Speaking of inspirational people...don't you know this guy is glad his Dad didn't carry home a refrigerator?
We said goodbye to our friend Heather yesterday. She's moving to Kentucky. I'm betting she turns around when she finds out this is the standard license plate there.

No kidding. That's really it.

How embarassing.

Sunday, July 27, 2003


We just got back from Kerrville and I've been kicking myself for not taking a picture of the wrinkled old man I saw there as we were leaving. He was all decked out with doodads, trinkets, and beads riding a motorcycle about 8 times his size which was adorned with equally kitschy clutter. If I had that picture I could blog about living life to the fullest and make a snide remark about Kerrville being the proud Hill Country Retirement Community for the legally insane....but I didn't take the picture. You'll have to take my word for it.
I'm not going to post the photos of the dead sons of Saddam, but for anyone who hasn't seen what they looked like....this is close.

To many folks in Texas that's an even more horrifying site. Jerry Jones is now lurking around San Antonio. It's at least somewhat comforting to know we've banished his plastic surgeon to Iraq.
It rained yet again today. Just enough to increase the humidity to 99.9% and make the grass grow some more.

It's been a mild summer...everyone keeps telling me that, but I've been absolutely miserable. My standard reply now is, "Yes, but it's a wet heat."

Saturday, July 26, 2003


When I sat down to write I received word that Eddie Cantu has died of sudden stroke. He was the Pastor of the little congregation that uses our sanctuary for their church on Saturday nights. A spirited man with a devotion to God. I had only spoken with him on a few occasions but I know he was devout...I know he leaves behind many people who love him.

Tonight the "Father's Love" congregation will worship again, but Eddie will be with God. He was 48.
The death of others always makes us confront our own mortality. That's a natural response.

I don't fear death.

It's not something I'm seeking mind you, but I'm not quaking in dread that death may come upon me.

I fear lingering.

God, if You're taking requests on this, I'd prefer that I go suddenly. I would rather not have the end of my life consume the lives of the people around me. While we're at it, could I request my death be painless?

We knew Eddie would likely pass away after learning of the severity of the stroke on Friday. Last night, Amy turned to me before we went to sleep and said, "I don't ever want a day to go by where I haven't told you I love you."

God, let me emphasize, I'm only making my wishes known in advance. I'd like to enjoy this life for as long as possible.

I'm in no hurry...

Friday, July 25, 2003


When I lived in the Dallas area in the 70's we would get a day off from school each Fall to go to the "State Fair." In 1973, I was brand new to Texas. A "city boy" compared to my friends. I had never been to any "fair" much less one as grand as the "State Fair of Texas." At age 16, I went to experience "The Fair" for the first time, wide eyed with anticipation.

The State Fair of Texas is held at Fair Park. It's not a very pleasant area. Back then Fair Park was dirty and smelly...a combination that wasn't beneficially enhanced by the seasoning of thousands of people shuffling past "Big Tex" following the aromatic allure of cotton candy and corn dogs.

"The Fair" featured what you might expect: overpriced food items, livestock, rides and sideshows. There were even a few thinly veiled gambling operations. I remember putting down a quarter on the "orange" segment of a color wheel and losing my money because a live rat ran into the "blue" hole.
If the rat had scrambled for safety into the orange hole I would have made a dollar.

That part of "The Fair" was still relatively tame. You had to wander a bit to find fuller adventures. Away from midway music and flashing lights we found them.

The Freak Shows.

This part of "The Fair" was not disguised in any illusion of amusement. It was a place to gawk, giggle, and gasp.

It was sad and sick.

I remember paying a quarter to see a naked fat man lying on a table inside a plexiglass trailer. He had to be naked otherwise we might not have believed he was real. Mercifully he was lying face down, spread out like a pancake. His rear end was covered by a towel. They said he weighed 900 pounds. I remember it well...I wish I didn't.

My most vivid memory is of "Popeye." He wasn't a sailor and he didn't eat spinach.

Popeye was an older black man whose hard life was betrayed by his appearance. Toothless and leathery.

Popeye made a living by popping out his eyeball.

My friends and I dutifully paid the 50 cent rate to be escorted into an area out of public view to see Popeye perform.

There was little fan fare. He looked at us..looked around to make sure no one was getting a free peak at this ocular oddity, then he cupped his nicotine tainted fingers under his eye and "boink"! His eyeball fell into his hand.

In an instant it popped back into his eye socket.

It was sudden and startling.

I'm still not really certain what I saw that day. At the time I was sure it wasn't a glass eye. My friends and I swore we saw tendons and "goo" dragging out behind the slightly jaundiced unblinking globe, but I was 16.

Now I'm 46, but I'm not certain what I'm seeing today either.

This "fair" memory came back as I was looking at the plethora of pictures taken of the dead sons of Saddam Hussein. Our government is trying to convince the Iraqi people that the demise of these demons is not an illusion. To that end someone, presumably not a carnival mastermind, ordered that their bullet riddled remains be made "life like." Mortician magicians have transformed these corpses into something eerie and odd. Waxy and frightening.


I'm not sad these beasts are dead, but I want to look away...and I think I want my 50 cents back.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


I'm thinking about angels today.

My friend Roy was supposed to help me clean the church today. I called him this morning to remind him, but he didn't show up. That worried me.

Roy is one of the older members of our church family. He's had heart problems, and heart surgeries.

I was wrapping up the cleaning work and preparing to call Roy to check on him when he drove up. Turns out the alternator in Roy's truck gave out as he was driving to the church. He didn't have a cell phone so he walked about a quarter mile in the August heat of Texas to a Catholic cemetery where he told me, "he has a good friend."

His friend hooked him up with two guys who went and got him an alternator and installed it in his truck on the side of the road. The entire process of breaking down, walking to find help, going to get the parts, and repairing his truck took about an hour.

I'm thinking about angels today.

The Pentagon published the pictures of the dead sons of Saddam today. They died in the home of a man named, Nawaf al-Zaidan. It's widely believed that their host was also the man who tipped off the military to their whereabouts. Nawaf al-Zaidan's resume lists only one job: Saddam glommer.

He has apparently survived for years by sucking up to Saddam and now he will receive 30 million dollars for betraying him.

I'm thinking about angels today.

About nine miles from our home is where the Century 21 real estate office is located where an employee with no known problems went on a rampage yesterday, killing two women and leaving another on life support.
Last night, Amy was on the phone with a friend who told her that the ex-wife of the man she's dating works at that office...but had called in sick yesterday.
This morning, my co-worker Stan told me his friend had an appointment to close on a house at that office at 2 yesterday afternoon, but got tied up and had to reschedule at the last minute.
This afternoon I received an email from my friend Cathy which said her neighbor works in that office. In the same room as the gunman. When the phone rang at 3 p.m. Cathy's friend left her desk to answer it, and immediately heard gunshots. The gunman soon was pointing the gun at her, but didn't pull the trigger. Instead he walked out the door...only to squeeze that trigger and end his own life two hours later.

I'm thinking about angels today.

I don't understand them, but I'm thinking about angels.

Can you blame me?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


It's only p.u.

The aroma controversy is over at the office. I finally had to send an email to the office manager asking if she happened to notice that everyone on the second floor smelled like they'd been visiting an opium den and she "spoke" to the newly indoctrinated aroma therapy convert responsible. He apparently took offense when she said someone referred to the reek as "industrial vanilla."

She quoted me his response today, "It's only a fragrance...and besides it's cinnamon!"

What do I know?

In any case he agreed to take his candle and aroma beads home "where they would be appreciated."

I appreciate that.

It's only money

Ever buy a pair of flip flops? You know those cheap rubbery sandals with the thing that fits between your toes that takes 3 weeks to get used to and breaks after 4 weeks? What did you pay for them?

You obviously got a bargain.

It's only what?

You know what I hate about the Kobe Bryant story (besides the fact that I have to filter out the innuendo, speculation, spin, and rumor from the "news" everyday)? I hate the fact that I keep hearing people say, "I hope it's only adultery."

Psalm 106:36

They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.

And it's only Wednesday.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


So Saddam Hussein's sons are dead. I wonder how long it will be before we see video of them from Arab TV and then commentary from Dan Rather saying "there's no way to determine when this video was shot but it could disprove U.S. claims that they were killed on July 22nd."


Speaking of inexact science, may I present: "Star counting".

I love this story. First off, I didn't know there was a number "sextillion" (it sounds more like the title of a cheesy b-movie involving scantily clad women and lizards), but what really intrigued me was the final part of the story where this astronomer unabashedly says this is only an estimate of the stars we can see: "The real number could be much, much larger still -- some people think it is infinite," he said.

SAN ANTONIO (ANS) -- A South Texas homeowner claimed Tuesday to have completed the most accurate calculation ever of how many blades of grass are visible in his own back yard.....

I like news stories like this because they glaringly point out how we fall far short of being "all knowing", especially when it comes to the intricacy and immensity of the universe.

I knew that...but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.
Don't lose your head when you read this story. If you have a weak stomach or a high level of disbelief you may not want to read it at all
P.S. If you don't read Scrappleface you are missing out on some of the most timely and witty satire on the web.

Monday, July 21, 2003


I just slipped my wedding ring on. I took the ring off on Saturday.

I somehow banged my ring finger while doing something manly...okay I think I did it while culling some of my clothes from our closet. In any case the finger started to hurt, then swell and I had to remove the ring in order to avoid the prospect of having both the ring and my finger surgically removed.

It wasn't easy. It hurt to pull that ring off.

It would hurt even if my finger weren't swollen....I'm glad of that.

Ruth 1:16
Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Sunday, July 20, 2003


Our two West Highland Terrorists are instinctively possessive. They will both go out of their way to try to 'stash' food. Usually this constitutes covering up their food bowls with sticks, leaves and other debris. They'll often go so far as to push their bowls across the patio to places they presumably deem as secret and safe. When Winston, our special needs dog, becomes greedy in this way he is often betrayed by the nose on his face..

This morning I observed this ritual of avarice and thought how I have been similarly guilty. The end result has been the same.

I have sullied myself coveting the mundane.

The true treasures in my life gain value only when shared.

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Saturday, July 19, 2003


Saturday...exciting event of the day: culling the closet (hey, it could be worse...I could be reading someone's blog about closet cleaning).

I got rid of the suit I bought more than 20 years ago. I also realized what XL means. It's on clothing I can wear and still exhale.

Side note: I put in a new comment function. The other system had some problems and this one is much nicer. That means all previously posted comments are gone however, including the only comment I ever received from someone I didn't know....It was a watershed moment and Chuck (whoever you are), "I love ya man".

Although the comments feature will prompt you for an email address it's not mandatory and I wouldn't put one in if I were you.

Friday, July 18, 2003


"Where are You?"

I need to be reminded to breathe.

My body goes through the motions. Inhale. Exhale. Oxygenate the blood. The respiratory rote of system maintenance.

I need to be reminded to breathe.

It's been a hectic week and today I was fixated on the realization that next week will likely also be a struggle at the office. Too few people. Too many demands.

I need to be reminded to breathe.

This afternoon I was caught up in the hot dusty fumes of gas powered engines while mowing some of the church property. The heat bore down. I was sweating. It was unpleasant.

I need to be reminded to breathe.

The mower hit the lemon grass.

The lemon grass...a gentle redolent reminder.


The deep breaths.

The essence seizing lung filling breaths of appreciation and wonder.

"Ahhh...there You are..right where You've always been."

Job 33:4

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Thursday, July 17, 2003


My sinuses are in raging rebellion. At the office this morning, I started getting whiffs of something in the air. At first, I thought it was the lingering odor of cheap cologne left behind by some unknown overnight employee. Then it seemed to become somewhat more noticeable and reminiscent of my long gone long-haired days of incense. Soon it became overpowering. I quickly ruled out the obvious: that someone was interviewing a hooker on the rock station down the hall; and the obtuse: that the janitorial staff had shown up for the once a year urinal cake renewal.

I put my investigative nose on the case, following it down the hall. I tracked the sickening bouquet to the tiny corner office of our equally tiny Operations Director for the "Soft Rock" station. Apparently he has become a sudden convert to aroma therapy. I initially was going to confront him about the steroidal vanilla scent emanating in waves from candles on his desk, but it was too overpowering. My head was pounding and my throat was tightening as my reddening eyes filled with tears. I ran from the building gasping in desperation for the familiar funk of my moldy car seats (if all the windows of my car rolled up completely I would have no memory of Hurricane Claudette).

I'm sure someone else at the office will raise a stink about "the candleman"...if the O.D. doesn't O-D on his own fumes first.
It was the smell of money that sank Dan Morales. I have mentioned here before that Morales was the first San Antonio politician with whom I developed a relationship some 20 years ago. He became a shining star in the state Democratic party but now his star has burned out. He copped a plea today to tax evasion and mail fraud charges.

He will go to prison soon, corrupted by the flagrant fragrance of vast sums of money.

My nostrils are being assailed by acrid arrogance.

I am craving fresh air.

Psalm 115: 4-6
But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.
They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


Ah...a nap and some food...I'm better now. It occurred to me that I write very little here about my "job". I don't like to come home and fixate on what I did at work. I'm pretty good at leaving it at the office. I don't want to write news all day and then come and write about writing news.

Today however I am still thinking about this ABC story quoting U.S. soldiers in Iraq disparaging their role, and sounding very critical of the White House and the war.

I didn't run this story this morning on WOAI. I saw it. I had access to the audio, but I opted against airing it. It's an editor's prerogative, one I often use, but usually it's because I think a story is boring. I opted not to run this story today because it made vast generalizations. It said that members of the 3rd Infantry division in Iraq were disillusioned and morale was slipping. What it didn't say was how many members of the 3rd Infantry Division were adopting this woeful attitude. Instead the story, by Canadian reporter Jeffrey Kofman, was presented in a manner that implied ALL members of the 3rd infantry division had suddenly lost all faith in their leadership.

The 3rd Infantry Division deployed 16,500 troops to Iraq. To my knowledge, Kofman spoke to five soldiers.

Are soldiers who learned they're not going home as scheduled disappointed? Yes.
Is it fair to air a story implying U.S. troops are losing faith in their Commanders because of the remarks made by five soldiers? From an editorial viewpoint, I didn't think so.

But I'm not ABC.


The rain is coming down and I've been up for too long. The dogs are howling and I'm looking for some peace and quiet. Claudette is going away and the little birdies are back on the ledge.

Our reporters are asking our troops to complain about serving their country and Barry Diller wants Tom Brokaw to run for President.

The world is upside down.

I need a nap

Tuesday, July 15, 2003


The winds are kicking up. Claudette's fluttering her skirt fringes in San Antonio and I'm watching radar hoping she's full of bluster and little more. Either this is a freak storm or our weather forecasters are really just guessmen. I've never seen a storm change from its predicted course so often. At 3 this morning "the experts" were talking about Claudette making landfall "tonight". The eye of the storm hit before noon. We wait for this hurricane for days and now she's suddenly in a hurry.

One thing Claudette has accomplished is she's cleared the lingering swallow nestlings off our porch. The remaining trio bravely moved out their nest last night, but didn't venture much further. They were on the ledge when I left for work early today

Now they're gone...hopefully Claudette just gave them an indelicate nudge. Maybe the encroaching rains will wash away all the little birdie reminders splattered before our doorstep too.

Monday, July 14, 2003


There's another woman in my life today...Claudette. She can't make up her mind.

Claudette is a tropical storm, apparently bent on becoming a minimal hurricane. This morning (at least what I call morning although sane people call it the middle of the night) Claudette was taking aim at Brownsville, in deep deep South Texas and appeared to be nothing more than a passing nuisance to my world. Now she's bearing down north of Corpus Christi which means I must alter my course too. I must fixate on planning as we try to out-guess the storm, get people in position, and information on the air.

As of right now, the plan is in place, I'm all set to go, but now I must wait for Claudette to ready herself.

There's a certain familiarity to all this...the women in my life have trained me well.
Speaking of imperfect planning. Did you see this?

What if this is really a subtle terrorist plot?

Do you really trust your garden gnome?

Sunday, July 13, 2003


My friend Kelley is watching her mother die. Her mom, Gail, has had repeated bouts with cancer and now there is nothing more that can be done. Doctors say she will die within the next two weeks.

Kelley has gone her entire life without losing someone truly close to her so this is the first time she's had to confront the end of life from the front row. It's hard. Very hard. For the past year, Kelley has dealt with little else and now she will spend these next two weeks at her mother's side, waiting for the inevitable and trying to find some way to deny it.

Amy and I spent last night with our friends John and Denise. They have had to face the realities of death too often and are also struggling. John and Denise have quickly tried to get on with their lives following the death of their son less than two months ago but they acknowledge their facade of strength has many cracks.

They need more time. More patience. More prayers.

The Psalmist talks about being "entangled in the cords of death." That's what is happening to these friends of mine. They are not dying, but their lives are snarled in death's shadow.

There are no words capable of easing their heaving heartbreak so we will borrow from death's own gameplan to try to provide comfort. Amy and I will wrap ourselves around these friends who have been consumed by the deaths of others. We will embrace and embrangle them in the grip of God's love and hopefully, in time, extricate them from some small part of their pain.

Psalm 119:50
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

Saturday, July 12, 2003


It's fly away day at our house, or close to it. Our second batch of swallow nestlings are crowding each other out and their parents are now making it pretty clear it's time for them to get gone.

Adult swallows are much less subtle than human parents. We tend to be more gentle in coaxing kids to spread their wings, maybe we're more fearful of our children learning to live. The swallows don't mess around. They dive bomb the babies in the nest to drive home their point. Today it's a constant swirl of squawking as the parents conduct "fly-by beratings" of their offspring.

The game plan apparently is to annoy the baby birds to the point where they become suicidal. Thinking they'll at least no longer have to listen to their parents harping, the birds leap from the nest assuming they're going to plunge to their deaths, only to be surprised when they catch flight.

The wonders of nature.

Friday, July 11, 2003


I know I need to write today, but I just scooped out some ice cream (it's low fat and sugar free, but actually not bad), and it's calling my name. It's "Moose Tracks", the hands down favorite among family members during our vacation trek. Amy found this variety in San Antonio so I assume it will be a staple in our house from now on. I hope'll be nice to find a little taste of vacation stashed in the freezer on occasion.

Missed this event in San Antonio the other day. These shots were taken by different people of a phenomena that occurred during a pounding thunderstorm. Smoke rings in the sky.

I've always thought God was a Spurs I'm convinced. He was obviously enjoying His victory cigar.

No kidding! Jason Kidd has rejected the Spurs offer. Who could blame him..why would anyone want to leave New Jersey?

This free agency frenzy in the NBA is at least entertaining. The Lakers will have the "fab four": Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton. I hear they're eliminating the overhead luggage compartments in the team jet to make room for all the egos.

It's either continue to write and eat ice cream slurry, or sign off.

Brevity thy name is "Moose Tracks"

Thursday, July 10, 2003


I'm going to Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland

For the past two years we've taken airplanes, but our family used to drive to Ohio each summer. On those trips it became tradition to crank up Paul Simon's "Graceland" on tape or Cd as we crossed over the yawning Mississippi river from Arkansas into Memphis, Tennessee. We never actually went to Graceland. In fact, on several occasions we bypassed the more traveled interstate and the bulk of Memphis entirely by heading straight for Kentucky via State Highway 7. Highway 7 initially takes you through West Memphis, the ugly side of town. There are unheeded housing projects along with the blight of neglected and neglectful people. The deprived and the depraved sandwiched amid tattered billboards, empty storefronts, and businesses brazenly hawking the escape of liquor and the dreams of lotto from behind garish burglar bars.

Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

Once you leave West Memphis the burglar bars disappear. The towns you'll come to are little more than sparse specks as Highway 7 becomes a haven for roadside antique stores (I really liked an old radio I saw in Troy once), run down gas stations, and churches. There are dozens upon dozens of churches pockmarking the roadside and an equal number of signs staked by congregations making claims to the future. I'm sure there are churches in the inner city of West Memphis too. I guess they don't stand out as much...or more likely I was too fixated on the burglar bars, which seem to advertise fear, to notice the sanctuaries serving up salvation.

I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see

This is one of my favorite spots at our annual summer destination of Lakeside, Ohio. It's not easy to see from this photo, but behind the bell there is a bench where I enjoy sitting...and staring. The bench is a little off the main pathway, so not many people use it, and there's an unimpeded view of the Lake Erie expanse. It's the bench that attracts me, not the bell. I don't know the bell's history. Maybe it was used to ring in revivals in days gone by, or to greet passing boats. Maybe it's been damaged, or perhaps children wantonly rang it so often it became too annoying. In any case, now it sits, an idle curiosity, secured behind spiked ironed fencing and a locked gate. I've never heard it ring.

It reminds me how easily I put up barriers thinking they will protect me not realizing they silence my potential.

I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see

The entire community of Lakeside is gated. Make no mistake, that's part of the attraction of the place. Your kids can't wander too far away and people can't simply stroll in without at least paying a gate fee. For many years, one person who came in and out of the gates with impunity was the Bulletin Man. He has a home right outside the gates and I always assumed he had special dispensation to come and go as he pleased.

The Bulletin Man suffered a head injury some 40 years ago. Depending on your perspective, he either hasn't been quite the same or he's never changed at all since that tragic event. He rides an ancient bicycle and has some grooming and fashion challenges, but he goes out of his way to be pleasant. He will engage you in conversation if at all possible and the dialogue will eventually reach its crux; he will ask if you happen to have brought along a "church bulletin." If you don't miraculously have one handy, he'll request you mail him one...every week...presumably forever.

Two summers ago, I ran into the Bulletin Man at the "little store with giant prices" immediately outside the gates of Lakeside where summer travelers make daily pilgrimages for must have items like ice and tomato paste. He told me he was no longer allowed on the grounds of Lakeside "unless he had a purpose." He showed me a letter from the Lakeside Association saying that some people had "complained" about him. They were "uncomfortable" when he approached them.

The normally welcoming gates of Lakeside, my vacation sanctuary, took on new meaning that day.

Last summer, I didn't see the Bulletin Man at all during our Lakeside hiatus. I feared he had been unable to cope with the disruption of his cherished routine. I had no idea where someone like that would go, or if he had anyone to counsel and comfort him.

Then last week, I was playing shuffleboard when Amy shouted from across the court and hurriedly pointed toward the street behind me. I turned just in time to see the Bulletin Man smiling broadly as he pedaled past aboard his rickety old Schwinn.

Maybe that day he was only given passage because he had a "purpose", but I hope not. I'd like to believe that the folks in charge of Lakeside changed their policy. I hope they realized the error of their ways.

They had barred the way.

There are no gates to grace.

Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


We've returned home, poorer in the pocketbook, richer in our hearts.

It was a great vacation. The weather cooperated, the "little truck that might" got us to Lake Erie and back, there was no shortage of toilet paper, and the airline only treated me like a terrorist until I figured out if you remove your shoes while going through metal detectors you are not a threat to the nation.

My thoughts are calm today and for that I am thankful. That is not usually the case... my life is noisy. There is quite often a chaotic clamor of voices demanding or distracting my attention.

We returned late last night after spending nearly two weeks with our extended family. Oftentimes that too is noisy, but those voices speak to me in a different way...with a certain clarity. My mind is not muddled during this all too brief season of familial renewal. I hear God's voice more readily within this clatter.

I know this sense of tranquility won't last but I will cling to it with a jealous zeal. With God's help maybe I can stash some of its essence in my soul to filter out the tumult of tomorrow.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Like a bad habit...

We're back. Well, not back in Texas...but back in touch with technology. Lakeside thoughts, and hopefully a few pictures, to come in the days ahead.