Sunday, August 31, 2003


Home from church. Off to see friends this afternoon. Thinking of a power nap in betweeen..

I write as a daily discipline but today I'm being a slacker.
Spotted a tiny butterfly as I walked some trash to the dumpster at church.
In some warped way I'm claiming the butterfly's freedom as my own today.

I'm dashing out these few words...and flying.

Saturday, August 30, 2003


Taste the joy, that springs from labor- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I stopped by the hospital this week to see Lexie and Madeline, the maternity ward bedside discussion took the inevitable turn toward the actual birthing process.
I have never been present in the delivery room for the birth of a child, but I've had a few of these discussions. Most are usually along the lines of, "Men don't know anything about pain, you should try squeezing a watermelon out of something the size of a quarter."

My kids are my stepchildren so I missed out on the joys of labor, and I might add the diaper years. In retrospect, and in all honesty, that seems like a fair trade off to me.

Anyway, Lexie's labor was easy. NOTE: easy is the word Lexie used not me. I'm probably breaching confidence by even mentioning it since we both agreed that if she brought up the ease of Madeline's delivery with someone who had actually given birth it would provoke a horror story along the lines of, "I was in labor for 67 hours, the hospital air conditioning was out, and the anesthesiologist became a practicing member of NarcAnon the same morning I was admitted."

Lexie's experience, and this being Labor day weekend, started me thinking about labor pains I have experienced.

The torment of laboring under self delusion and the punishing pangs of trying to keep that realization buried beneath denial.
The searing misery of failure brought about by pride, and my own refusal to truly work, at my first marriage.
The distress of laboring to spare your kids the pains you've endured, but then having to acknowledge that some lessons everyone must learn for themselves.
I've also, of course, had the more common aches, strains, and one hernia resulting from attempts to shoulder more physical labor than my increasingly saggy physical specimen will allow.

This week, however, was a good one for labor pains. Lexie's were minimal, and mine were few.

Our church property has a prosperousness of potential, but truthfully, we lack people willing to do much of the work. We have an abundance of "idea" people, but not as many "let's sweat" people. My close friend, Ben, has reminded me often that this is one of God's many ways of teaching me patience.

On Wednesday, I drove up to the church to find one of our members, Charles, putting plants around our church sign. We've had the sign since the church was built and the rock work around it was designed to hold plants, but we've never put any there. Charles took it upon himself to make the sign his project. He went into great detail about how he had chosen the plants so that they might survive not only the punishing South Texas heat, but also our congregation's penchant for neglect. It was wonderful to hear his plans and see his enthusiasm. It was even more joyous to see him actually acting upon his vision.

I have had my labor for my travail; ill-thought-on of her, and ill-thought-on of you; gone between and between, but small thanks for my labor.
- William Shakespeare

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy working on the church property, even if I'm working alone, but that hasn't always been the case. I've stumbled into the trap of resentfulness, when there have been large tasks to do with few or no volunteers. Some time ago though I found a place of peace. I recognized that to me such work is a form of a worship. Why would I resent someone for not worshiping God the way I do? Would I want to be held to their standard of worship? I could no more force my perceptions upon someone else, than I could force them to pray.

I should make clear my ascent to this self professed lofty plateau is hardly noble. It is wrought in part out of necessity (I've been down the road of denial remember?). It's still my philosophy that if you can't work joyfully or at least diligently for God than you haven't had enough crappy bosses in your life. I've apparently already had the required quota.

This morning, however, was also wonderful. I went to the church as part of the ongoing and somewhat futile war of the weeds and found my friend Jerry already there unloading his riding lawnmower (there's a lesson in coveting here I'm just going to skip), and then my friend Sam drove up with his weed-eater. They were anxious to labor, and we got it done.

In the process, we enjoyed each other's company, we worshiped...and we served God.

Works for me.

Ecclesiastes 5:12
The sleep of a laborer is sweet

Friday, August 29, 2003


It didn't take long for Arnold Schwartzenegger to start acting like a politician.

When confronted with the insipid, raunchy, hormone-driven remarks from a 1977 interview Arnold came up with this brilliant piece of spin:

"I have no memory of any of the articles I did 20 or 30 years ago."

If it's any consolation, I hear he's already fired his Director of Public Relations:

Maybe I'm weird, but I have never thought less of someone for telling me the truth.

Arnold was 29 in 1977. A jock. Being interviewed by a porn magazine.

If I were his Director of Public Relations I would have let him say much the same thing, I would only have added a few words.

" I wish I had no memory of any articles I did 20 or 30 years ago, but I do remember making those stupid remarks. Thank God for the wisdom that comes with age. I ask for forgiveness for being young and stupid. I assure you I am no longer either."

I met Miss Madeline today and she waved.

Okay, maybe she was actually waving me off while screaming, "Get him out of here!" Who knows? She's one day old and I don't speak baby.

She cried as soon as I stuck my face into her reality...the sad truth is she's not the first woman to do that...although she does get the award for being the quickest study. So far.

Thursday, August 28, 2003


I came into work this morning and was greeted by chaos. That's not too unusual, but normally it's the chaos of society at large, not the calamity of confusion within our own newsroom. Our I.T. department (what does I.T. stand for anyway? Incompetent & Traumatic? Inept but Trying? Inaccessible & Tragic?) had notified me a few weeks ago that they would be making a system change "which would take the computers down for a few minutes." We agreed to schedule it for eight o'clock last night, and I forgot about it.

When will I learn?

All modesty aside, I completed my end of the bargain. I scheduled the work for a time when it would be the least inconvenient. There were no problems.

Until I came to work.

Then I realized no one could actually print anything, which is disconcerting...when you're in the business of writing stuff.

The computer that records network audio wasn't working, which is also somewhat annoying when you're in the business of broadcasting.

And, of course, it's three in the morning. I know this is obvious, but there aren't a bunch of cheerful folks anywhere on earth at 3 a.m., much less in my building.

There was some scrambling, some phone calling, some fingerpointing, a little denial and a lot of improvising. There were also a few suppressed urges which might have led to felony convictions.

In the end, we survived.

It took all morning, but by the time I left the office we finally had at least discovered all the issues from being "down a few minutes" and resolved most of them.

It was a draining morning.

I drove home planning to stop by the book store, but realized I left my wallet at the house. I drove more cautiously after that discovery, figuring the way the day had been going, the odds were fairly good I would get pulled over for something and hauled away.

I made it home unmolested or arrested and got in the door. Then the phone started ringing.

A couple of eager creditors who obviously know tomorrow is pay day. I'm glad tomorrow is pay day... I'm disappointed our creditors are aware of it though.
I dealt with them in my usual up front fashion...I pushed them off on Amy.

Then I sat down at the computer and began thinking about blogging.

I stared at the screen.



"Oh, great who else do we owe money to?"

"Michael, it's John. As of about 15 minutes ago, Lexie and I have a new baby!"

Welcome to the world Madeline Rae!

You made my day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Bet you can't eat just one!

That used to be the slogan for Lays potato chips.

I guess they abandoned that pitch around the same time as the label on the back of the bag revealed if you ate 10 chips you had consumed enough fat to feed Indonesia for a week.

As I was leaving work today, I received a copy of a congratulatory email from various corporate higher ups praising the radio station's latest rating's trend. In larger market radio we are constantly measured for audience numbers and each month we recieve the trend report. All of the numbers can be scrutinized, fractionalized, marginalized and/or rationalized depending on who needs to be impressed by them.

In reality, my pay stays the same whether ratings go up or go down. I seem to stay employed also, which probably means I work too cheap.

I don't measure my success by the ratings. If I do my job well, I know it.

I have friends in the clergy who at various times in their lives have been encouraged to win souls. Some have even had quotas of sorts. I've always found this idea scary, in part because I'm an introvert by nature and evangelism means you have to actually talk to people, but also because it conjures up images of an end game of judgment.

"I'm sorry according to the latest're trending downward."

"Didn't make it."

I wouldn't want to face ratings like that.

Mercifully, thanks to grace, I don't believe I will. Still I do feel compelled to be a better witness.

Perhaps a slogan?

"Bet you can't reach just one!"

Nah...I don't think slogans would work for me either..

Moments ago workers in Montgomery, Alabama moved that controverial 5-thousand pound monument to the 10 commandments. Protestors outside the Judicial building were peaceful, but they're still hanging around. There is no truth to rumors that officials are considering chasing them off by painting the monument gold and carving it to resemble a calf.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

REVELATION 23, 24 and 25

Walter Cronkite has come to the stunning conclusion that he's a liberal.

Louis: I'm shocked - shocked - to find gambling is going on in here!
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Louis: Oh, thank you very much.

I wonder how long it will take him to realize he's irrelevant?

SpongeBob SquarePants is not gay.

Det. Lennie Briscoe:
If I was kiddin' you, I'd be wearin' a fez and no pants

As long as he keeps his squarepants on, I don't really care.

Sprint has figured out the pretty flower on the cover of some phone books they distributed in parts of Florida is the same flower used to make heroin.

Miss Dorothy: Operator, you have obviously never been trapped in a Chinese opium den!

Called directory assistance lately? This is explains the service.

It's days like today when I know the end of the world isn't that near. God is having too much fun.


10 points for Sarah.


It worked!

My shameless attempt to exploit McDonald's has at least temporarily given me THRONE status at Google if you search for "McGriddle Recipe".

If you actually came here looking for the recipe here it is:

Take an egg McMuffin...pour syrup on it.

Monday, August 25, 2003


I drove home from work a few moments ago and was briefly followed on the highway by someone driving a Hummer.

From the perspective of my rear view mirror it looked large and somewhat menacing and my thought was, "Please don't squish me." I have no problem with folks who drive big SUV's, but I do admit to feeling a bit less inclined to linger in the fast lane when they're behind me.

Especially today.

I reported on a murder this morning in which a jealous wife killed her husband by running him over with her SUV. It was your sadly typical tale of violence. The wife saw her husband come out of a bar at 2 a.m. with another woman. By the way, for future reference, if you leave a bar before closing time your chance of dying violently diminishes significantly. Anyway, the wife, laying in wait, rammed her SUV head-on into her husband's car once he and the other woman got inside of it. The husband then made another mistake. He got out to survey the damage to his car. Police say his enraged wife then ran him over, dragging him some 30 feet along a fence line. He died on route to the hospital.

It was tragic. It was stupid. I talked to the cops, a TV photographer I know, and the medical examiner before I wrote the story. I've written lots of tragic, stupid stories like this over the years. The weapons differ, but the ingredients of these demented cocktails are for the most part the same. One part jealousy, two jiggers of rage, a dash of opportunity and nine or ten too may drinks consumed by all the participants.

Right before I left the office, the police department faxed me the official report on the incident. I read it to make sure I had not made any errors in the story I had reported. My facts were correct, but there was one bit of new information. The wife had been caught close to the scene and as she was being questioned at police headquarters she was informed that her husband had died. She was in the middle of giving police a statement about the incident, but then abruptly halted. She told the interrogating officer that her husband had always told her that if she got into trouble and was asked to make a statement to police, she should refuse. She decided she should follow her husband's advice.

The advice of the man she ran over and killed about an hour earlier.

I couldn't help but wonder how this story might have been different if her husband had been more specific. If only he had prefaced his advice with, "First off honey, DON'T KILL ME!!!! Second, if you're ever questioned by police.... etc..."

I have loved. I have hated. I have been drunk. I have been jealous. I have been angry and I have been stupid.

In many ways, this is a world so close to mine, yet it is so foreign.

Thank God.

Sunday, August 24, 2003


There was someone peering in on today's church service through a window.

This little spider, okay she's not so little, spun a huge and intricate web. She proved quite an attraction for our church kids. Most didn't shriek or run away. They stared with amazement. Some tried to feed her little bugs. Only a few children kept their distance.

I'm told this is an innocuous variety of spider. Our Pastor asked us to resist the temptation to knock down its web or kill it. Nature will decide its fate.

That spider is not the only creature living outside our church, but most of the others never venture as close as the windows. I wish they would.

Today we took communion.

We could have fed them, strengthened them...and they would see that we are harmless too.
Job 8:14b-15

They are leaning on a spiderweb. They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last. They try to hold it fast, but it will not endure.

Wow...I have all this leisure time this morning. Amy is meeting someone after church to practice singing, so she already left. I'm driving my own car which means I don't have to be at church until everyone else shows up. Lisa has moved out and into her dorm at Baylor. Today Tiffany turns 22, but we've already had our "celebration" so presumably she'll be marking the occasion in Kerrville. Joey is back at college in Ohio.

It's just me and the three dogs here on a Sunday morning, and the dogs are asleep.

So this is what an empty nest feels like.

This is going to take some time to adjust to...

Okay. I've adjusted.

Saturday, August 23, 2003


"There's nothing wrong with Southern Baptists...I just wish they'd hold them under water a little longer"- Kinky Friedman

I'm about to go to a Baptism service. It's for two little girls in our church. I was briefly the Sunday school teacher for one of them, Chloe.

Chloe is hard to describe. She is nine years old and has never met a stranger. She fears no one. In a church of introverts, Chloe stands out. It's not uncommon to find her dancing about in the church parking lot, or encouraging other kids to dash among the unkempt and unruly wildflowers.

Chloe is often the first person to greet church visitors, grabbing their hands and dragging them into the sanctuary, showing them the things she believes are most important, like the donuts we serve before service.

A few weeks ago I had to draw the line and ask her not to roller skate inside the church. She smiled and skated outside...then skated back in, only to be reminded again.

Chloe is a handful.

A few times she's come to church without her Mom and has sat with me while Amy leads music. Chloe will wiggle and squirm. She will do all sorts of things to try to get my attention. She'll tug on my sleeve and point out something she's drawn on the order of worship. She'll reach in my pockets to see if there's anything of interest (she didn't understand it when she found my nasal spray mid-sermon and I never did find an appropriate time to explain my Afrin addiction).

She exudes love and truly hopes to be the center of the universe. Chloe can drive some of our older, more staid, church members crazy.

Every week during our prayer concerns Chloe raises her hand and asks for, "prayers for the Gypsy people" and our missionaries working to spread the gospel to them.

Today was a long day which I spent much of working in the heat. I am tired and tempted to skip tonight's service.

But it's Chloe.

I couldn't miss this.

This little girl who upsets our old folks, grabs our newcomers, shoves her love on everyone even before they come through the church doors. This child who is distracted and distracting is also dismaying and disarming. Annoying and anointing.

Chloe is committing her life to Christ...our Savior. Whom many might describe in much the same way....though probably never on roller skates.

Friday, August 22, 2003


First off, is there no picture of Arnold Schwartzenegger where he doesn't look like a stand-in at Maddame Tussaud's Wax Museum? This is only picture I ever see in the media.

I guess folks in California are more used to plastic surgery but he looks like a rubberized vampire wannabe to me.

I notice that some of the Hollywood contingent are starting to stoop a little lower. Weren't these the same folks who chanted the mantra of "character doesn't count" a few years ago? Maybe I was dreaming.

I am waiting for the next reality TV show: "California". How long can it before some network genius places live cameras all around California to let those of us living in the land of the semi-sane gaze and giggle in wonderment.

Please Lord, let them elect someone they truly deserve...think of the ratings

Thursday, August 21, 2003


Our dog, Winston, has a thing for my socks. Whenever he's running around in the house he'll look to see if our bedroom door is open and, if it is, he'll make a mad dash inside. He knows with certainty that this will get my attention and he's also learned he'll usually find at least one pair of my dirty socks somewhere on the floor. This is a wondrous thing for Winston. He will grab them and run like a bandit in possession of the King's Visa card.

He covets my socks. When I corner him and grab the socks he will fight me to retain least for a while.

I have tried to ignore Winston's behavior, hoping he would realize that old dirty socks are really of no value, but that's only resulted in my finding sock shreds adorning the house and yard. He doesn't get it. To Winston, having the socks is more important than the socks themselves.

Today I'm thinking Winston's sensibilities are not too far afield from some of my fellow Christians who are squabbling over a big rock in Alabama.

I don't get it. This isn't a dogfight over ideology, no matter how we truss it up. It's a battle over a boulder. Make no mistake, I believe the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of our judicial system. You try to take that away...I'll fight you. But as far as I'm concerned carving God's law into a rock is not as important as etching it into our beings.

If you want to tussle over a piece of granite, you rock...I'll roll.

And I'll pray it's only my socks I find in shreds when we're all through.

EXODUS 20:1-4
And God spoke all these words:
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
"You shall have no other gods before me.
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below"

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


There are some quirky little (McGriddle) oddities to having a website. I received an unsolicited offer from American Express this week for a business credit card...not that unusual, except( McGriddle) it was addressed to Obviously the exclusivity once associated with American Express has long since expired.
There are a variety of statistics available (McGriddle) on our web server. Most, if not all, are meaningless to me and like most statistics can be used to show any number of things I suppose, McGriddle. I don't look at them very often, but there is one stat I find fascinating. It shows the phrases or words people have used on certain search engines which(McGriddle )brought them to my website.

You know what I've gotten the most "hits" for?

McGriddle sandwiches.

Last June, I made passing mention that I thought the world really didn't need to add syrup to an Egg McMuffin and every month since then I get "hits" for people seeking more information about McGriddle's.

I've never eaten a McGriddle. But it's become a constant in my life. Something I can count on.

If I were the jaded type I could increase the number of visits to my website, McGriddle, through some blatant exploitation of this curiosity.

McGriddle recipe
Secret to McGriddle sandwich
Click here to find out how to make a McGriddle.

I can smell the aroma. The wafting memory. That perfectly brewed tankard of coffee. I ground the beans myself.
Just the right amount of sweetener, milk.
All the ingredients to make starting my day at 1:45 a.m. somewhat more tolerable.
This daily joy of java.

Why did I leave it on the kitchen counter?

I wonder if it misses me. I miss it


Tuesday, August 19, 2003


I arranged my day around plans to rid the front of the church property of a large pile of brush. We've had to make a few adjustments but it looks like we'll get it done today.

We're moving the brush as part of the process of erecting a new classroom building which is moving very swiftly. Our roofer, Chris, will begin work soon. Chris and his family have come to our church many times. They have had a tough life for such young people. They have struggled with things that would have strangled me had I been saddled with them at such an early age. Chris is persevering though, trying hard to support his wife and two young children. Working hard. Very hard.

Today I'll be helped moving the brush by my friend John who is graciously lending the aid of his equipment. John is successful in his air conditioning business but has been struggling lately too with other aspects of his life. John is also working to help us find a cost effective way to air condition the new facility. Our little church has a little budget and this is really a fairly big project for us to undertake.

When it's done we'll have four new classrooms. Room to grow.

The best thing that may come out of this new building though may be that Chris and John have been involved in the process. Neither are technically members of the church, but soon they may have the most invested in the expansion of our dreams.

We are constructing a building, but we are growing the body of Christ.

Thank God we have roofers, and air conditioning experts....and a carpenter.

Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.

Monday, August 18, 2003


I don't know Latin, but I think the title of this reads something like patience falling headlong. Apologies to any Romans out there if I've been misled and it's really some Latin obscenity...have patience with me.
For some unknown reason I've been thinking about Latin lately. I suspect it's probably due to a deep seated desire to share my general befuddlement with life, and since everyone else seems to be less confused than I, I am resorting to Latin which confuses most everyone.

I was looking for a photo of something in Latin to accompany this literary folly, but the only picture I found was this:

Well, I also found original woodcuts of the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases described in Latin, but you don't want to see them.

I'm still trying to shake the image of some poor woodcutter saying, "Okay, just hold that pose."

I'm getting more lessons in patience. The car had warning lights, squeals, and leaks as I drove into the office today. Lest ye faithful readers think these are related to my previous car woes which I opined upon recently, allow me to reassure you. These are new problems...of course. Luckily a friend spotted me as I was hoofing it home from my mechanic, who now calls me by the initials "G.E" for Grandkids Endowment, and he gave me a ride home.

As I am writing this my mechanic used his platinum and jewel encrusted phone to call and give me the diagnosis. I'm getting out for under 200 dollars. I figure that's like winning the lotto when it comes to car repairs.

Before General Motors gave me more tangible reminders, I was actually already thinking about patience today. I saw this story. This woman spent 13 hours a day for 45 days setting up 303-thousand dominoes. That's about 9 miles worth of dominoes.

It took 4 minutes for them to fall.

There are lessons there...lessons in patience...lessons in folly.

I'm not going to decide which is's all Greek to me.

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Sunday, August 17, 2003


She's not so little anymore.

Lisa leaves for college on Thursday, but today was my last time to see her before she goes. Our goodbyes were too clinical...too grown up. Too soon.

She's not so little anymore.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Shadows, Light and Sisters In Prayer

One of my sisters-in-law growls at shadows and chases light trails.

Actually she's not really my sister in law, she's Amy's parents dog, Kasha.

Amy's real sister, Lisa, calls Kasha her sister, because Kasha is sometimes treated to the spoiling pleasures often bestowed upon a surprise child couples have after their first batch of children are fully grown. My in-laws have found love to share with her, and Kasha returns it...most of the time.

Anyway, if Kasha sees a light beam moving across the floor, she will chase it. She stalks them with all the ferocity a Westie can muster. It's quirky behavior. One of those unexpected discoveries about your pet, which you at first exploit for amusement, then try to stop...then ignore or tolerate. Nowadays my in-laws often don't notice Kasha stealthily pursuing light beams, it's simply accepted behavior.

I'm glad shine stalking is part of Kasha's personality. She reminds me that it's okay to pursue sunbeams.

I think we should encourage each other to do that more often, there is light to be seen even in shadows.

Ecclesiastes 8:15
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

Kelley's mom passed away last night. Gail's death was not unexpected, she had cancer.

We have prayed every Sunday in church for Gail and for Kelley. I pray for them daily including them in my prayers for my sister-in-law Mary Kay who also has cancer. I spoke with Mary Kay today, she's doing well...sounding upbeat. She's completed chemo and radiation. There is more surgery ahead, and then she will wait for no news...and she will continue to pray.

I know Kelley prayed long and hard for a miracle. When Kelley first learned of her mother's prognosis she was devastated and withdrawn, but she prayed. She prayed her mother would be cured. She prayed the cancer wouldn't spread. She prayed her mother would have more time. She prayed a lot of prayers, and her mom died.

In the past months, Kelley has devoted herself to her mother, driving hundreds of miles every weekend, taking time off work during the week. Charting her medications, changing her clothes, feeding her, dealing hands-on with the unpleasantries of helplessness, as well as coping with an onslaught of well meaning friends and relations.

She knew her mom's death was inevitable but she still asked for prayer.

Her mom was 57.

Today I'm thinking about prayer. The nature of it. The disappointment of it.

Why didn't God cure Kelley's mom? I don't know. Were all those prayers worthless? No, they weren't.

Pretty bold fella, care to back that up?

I say those prayers had value and meaning with brazen assuredness.

A couple of weeks ago Kelley and I talked and she said, "You know sometimes I come out of my mother's room after having cared for her, seeing her wasting away and I think, ' How did I get through that?'. I do things I never thought I was capable of doing. I handle situations that, when I think about them, make me break down in tears. I wondered for a while about where the strength was coming from to deal with all this, and then I remembered...prayer."

I will continue to pray for my sister-in-law Mary Kay. I will pray for healing and strength.
I will pray for Kelley and her family, that they may grieve and go on living.

I don't expect God to change reality, I expect Him to change me.

You see, I will remember my sister-in-law Kasha too.

I will not curse the darkness and shadows, I will chase the light.

Friday, August 15, 2003


My friend, Erin, is serving God in China. She's been pretty isolated in the small village where she's teaching thanks to proximity, SARS, and her duties. However over the past few weeks she's been able to explore a bit more of the seemingly infinite intricacies of this ancient land she's committed to calling home for three years.

She has seen the big

       And the small.

Hard to tell which had the most impact.

Erin is young, only a few years older than Tiffany. She is quiet and gentle but has a wonderfully adventuresome spirit. It's a joy to get her emails.

Thank you Lord for Erin. She reminded me today of the power in Your tender breath.

Psalm 107:29

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

I'm trying to shake myself free of corporate malaise.
I'm caught in this Dilbert-like world where people use words like "paradigm" and "line extension" and suddenly find myself a drafted member of something called a "Synergy Content Team".

They want to have meetings. Color me rebellious but I'd rather actually take action instead of talk about ways to take action.

Does anyone in this "the process is more important than the outcome" mindset ever schedule a doing instead of a meeting?

Maybe doings don't even have to be scheduled. Perhaps we could just do them!

Thanks for letting me vent...It could have been worse.

Thursday, August 14, 2003


I seem to have written a lot about death in recent months. Bill, Pastor Eddie, and little E.J.

These were all grievous life gripping events snarled in a shared sudden chaos.

Now someone else whom I loved has died. Her name was Mabel. She was the sister of Silvey Harris, who also went to be with God this year.

This picture does not do Mabel justice, but it's all I have handy. Make no mistake, she was old and frail...but in many ways she was hearty and stout.

Mabel always caught me, and many others, off guard. She was ever nimble in her wit. She knew it, and she knew many people didn't expect her to be so quick, so funny, so full of life.

It always surprised me. She was so small, so feisty.

Mabel lived and Mabel laughed.

And she also served.

Mabel never married. She spent most of her prime years of life caring for her elderly parents until they died. Then Mabel needed something to do, so she started caring for another elderly couple until they passed away. It made no sense to point out to her that the people she was caring for were actually younger than she was.

Mabel died last night. She was 99.

99 years of laughter and service. Such an honorable life.

I will miss Mabel, but I will not mourn.

Father God, enjoy Mabel...we certainly did.

"Tears are sometimes an inappropriate response to death. When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death's perfect punctuation mark is a smile."

-Julie Burchill

I guess I shouldn't be too cavalier in referencing Amy's spider bite here. I've gotten some very sweet comments of concern from folks in the trackless blogiverse.

Yes, the brown recluse is an especially nasty spider, but it's my understanding that's partially because people tend to ignore the bite initially and then the situation can get very bad. As I mentioned, despite my flippant counsel urging Amy not to pay attention to her symptoms, she went to a doctor fairly soon. She's on antibiotics and the doc seems to think she'll feel lousy for a while, but she's in no serious danger.

Right now, the bite is manifesting itself in the form of a cool looking mark resembling a hurricane on a radar image, and a fairly steady fever. The fever spikes at times resulting in Amy spiralling, but unlike a hurricane, the movement is downward. We have faith that like most things, this will pass in time.

Disappointingly, the doctor also told her she wouldn't get any superpowers. A wife who could spin webs and swing around skyscrapers does have a certain attraction to me, but it's probably best I not explore that fantasy.

Although it's not quite as exotic as having a superheroine wife, there is an upside to this....each morning I'm in the habit of giving Amy a kiss. It's not an Al and Tipper moment or anything, simply a quick touch of our lips to let her know I love her as I leave for the office. She's usually half asleep if not comatose when this occurs since it's always at an hour when no sane person is awake, but it's meaningful to both of us.

Now, I kiss her lips, but also her forehead. Sure I'm checking for fever, but I'm also doubling up on the love.

I was caught in Amy's web long ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur.

Amy is still fighting against the venom of her brown recluse spider bite. It's frightening to observe as her body wrestles against the poison. She's getting better but there are bad moments. Amazing how the little things often humble us most.

I wrote recently about my memories of the State Fair of Texas but now I see the definition of Freak Show is changing.

What's next? Sushi frito pies?

Spent today in a meeting with my counterparts from the television side of our operation. It's always a challenge, first to stay awake since no one schedules meetings around my work hours, and second not to strangle anyone.

I kept my hands off the necks within reach, kept my eyes open and suppressed powerpoint presentation inspired yawns. I subsequently managed to get through the meeting and even found new ways to restate the same things I've said during the past 11 months of meetings. Of course I received multiple assurances that my ideas were substantive, brilliant and imminently implementable.

I didn't receive assurance that they would be implemented, but one can't aim too high.

I pray one day for the collective revelation that most of our issues could be resolved by holding fewer day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003


I'm communing with Paul Harvey's trademark sign off.

This is a good day.

First, Amy appears to be feeling better after being bitten by a brown recluse spider.

I also feel better knowing that my initial comments of "stop looking up spider bites on the Internet and you'll be fine" didn't result in her dying or having her leg amputated.

Luckily Amy has learned a lot during the course of our marriage... primarily to ignore me.

Our doctor confirmed her Internet diagnosis and she's properly medicated.

There remains cause for concern...I'm still wandering around unrestrained.

Second, compared to the past few weeks it's relatively cool in San Antonio, we may get pounded by thunderstorms this afternoon but right now it's breezy and nice.

Third, I stumbled across the knowledge that a new Tom Clancy book is out, so I'll be scrunched up reading shortly. By the way, that link is to but it's cheaper at Sam's...16 bucks.

Fourth, I found this story.

Whose butt would Jesus Kick?

I love this approach to ministry actually. Too often I think we Christians cloister ourselves in the name of piety but in reality we're barricading ourselves from opportunity.

Kick a little butt for for me.

Off topic: I considered writing about patience today...but right now I'm anxious to begin reading my Clancy novel so that will have to wait.

"Good day".

Monday, August 11, 2003

This isn't a joke

The George W. Bush action figure...the only thing that comes to mind is how thankful I am they didn't put one of these out for Bill Clinton.

Then again maybe they did...just in different toy stores.


Anyone still doubting the validity of "The Wayne Axiom?"

One Wayne, Two Waynes, Three Waynes, Four.

You'll feel safer without a Wayne next door.

I sat down Saturday night to watch the Cowboy's first pre-season game. I have to admit that miniscule blob of cells in the far back of my brain which has managed to cling to a fragment of optimism about Dallas was hopeful that I might see some spark, some iota of ability.
Just a tidbit of talent.

Then it all came back.

A ballet of buffoonery.

When does Spurs season start?

This guy probably makes the Cowboys smell good.

For some reason I started thinking about white wall tires yesterday. I got it in my head to count the number of cars with whitewall tires I saw on the way to church. There were two. Both were big old clunkers. Both were parked and appeared not to have been driven. When did whitewall tires fall out of fashion? Why were they in fashion in the first place?

I know this is a weird thing to suddenly start wondering about, but at least now you're going to wonder about it too.


Sorry if it drives you crazy.

Lunacy loves company.

Sunday, August 10, 2003


Well, so much for my predictions of a slightly more disorganized worship service. Everything went well today, even though the turnout was down substantially. To me the head count was of no matter. It only mattered that four people were there: Bill, our conscripted Pastor, as well as John, Denise and their son.

Bill's sermon touched on a subtle difference in translations from John 14 . The NIV version of John 14:3 reads:"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

The King James says:"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

John, Denise and Garrett sat on the front row and heard every word. I have to believe that Bill's addressing of the translation subtleties went a long way toward explaining the inexplicable, comforting the inconsolable, answering the unanswerable.

It will not right their outrage and anger. The feelings of resentment they still harbor towards God because of the loss of two children will not disappear, but I think God used Bill today to nudge the door to healing open a small bit further. Hopefully that will make it easier for them to one day walk through that door and be received.

I read this story with interest:

NBC's Maria Shriver has requested a leave of absence from her post as an occasional anchor and correspondent on ''Dateline,'' saying she wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest following the decision by her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to run for California governor in the Oct. 7 recall election.

Praise God! Maybe now the woman will have to make the rubber chicken banquet circuit and eat something!

Everytime I see her on TV I wait for flies to land on her face and an 800 number to flash on the screen saying for only 50 cents a day I could feed her.

So take some butter Maria..spread it with your knife
Say, "I'll have seconds sir." Gotta start a new life

(Sung to the tune of "Take a letter Maria")

Saturday, August 09, 2003


It's pretty much guaranteed that our Sunday service will be a little confusing and disorganized. Our Pastor has a much deserved day off and since we're a small congregation that means we'll be scrambling a bit to get things done. Church won't flow "smoothly."

Even when everyone is present and accounted for our church never operates like a well oiled machine. Kids make noise, sometimes the music team volunteers can't all be there, so not every song is perfect, once in a while we forget an announcement.

Thank God we do that.

I don't want processed Christianity. I don't want Velveeta worship.

Shouldn't being a Christian be a little disheveling...a little crazy?

Matthew 3:4
John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey

Sometimes churcheology goes so far overboard it blows my mind. Could you imagine taking communion but first removing from the cup a little label that reads sanitized for your protection?

Our church service tomorrow will be a little out of kilter. There will be slips and spills. It will be untidy. And we will love each other in our unsanitary insanity.

God does.

This is grace.

We have air conditioning!

The poor guy who came to install our new unit earned his money. We were hot, bothered and loaded for bear when he arrived five hours late. We immediately started protesting the charges his company wanted up front. The repairman was a sensible guy. He said, "Call my office, I don't get paid to fight these battles."
Amy was sensible too...she kept me off the phone.

We still ended up paying 100 dollars for a "permit", but Amy had them knock off 200 dollars in other charges.
Cleaned up and personalized the look of the blog. The guestbook is gone (no one ever signed it), so is the feature to notify folks in email if the blog changes (here's a hint, I write everyday so if you need a reminder just slap a sticky note on your monitor).

It's amazing how much time I can waste when I have time to waste.
Actually did a "home improvement" project today without any major screw up. Finished lining my home made wine cabinet with wine labels. It actually looks pretty good. I did a pseudo-decoupage thing. If nothing else it proves I learned something teaching Sunday school to cover stuff in glue.

Friday, August 08, 2003


Attended the funeral for my friend, Bill, today. Bill worked hard. He died young.

   Note to family: When I die don't mourn my passing too long...celebrate my ascension. Remember my life. I enjoyed every minute of it. Largely because of you.

All funerals are sad I suppose. Bill's was too. Not only in its dark somber overtone, but also because it had such a disconnected feel.

   Note to my family: No open casket. I don't really want folks standing 18 inches from me staring at my face right now and I'm alive. I'm going to work on the assumption that death won't improve my appearance.

Bill was raised Catholic and never formally joined our church. His wife joined, and they both attended church regularly for about two years. For whatever reason, some months ago they both drifted away. We reached out repeatedly to no avail and I had hoped that perhaps they had found another church home, but today as I listened to the standardized words of comfort and prayer from a priest who admittedly had never met Bill or his family, it became apparent that in the last year of his life Bill was without a contingent of fellow faithful wanderers.

   Note to my church family: Thank you. I would be aimless without your hands to hold.

The funeral was held in a mortuary chapel. The first 5 rows were reserved for family but the immediate family opted to stay in an alcove so we could not observe and share in their grief. I respect their choice, but I don't understand it.

   Note to my family: Share your grief, cling to each other and to our friends. There is no shame in sadness. Mourn so that you can move on.

I left Bill's funeral today wishing I could do more for his wife, daughter and grandchild. I will try in the weeks and months ahead.

   Note to self: Talk is cheap

I left Bill's funeral today knowing I will do more for my wife, and children. I will do more to remind them that life is fun, God is good and when I'm gone that will still be true.

   Note to Bill: I'll miss you man.

"Don't drive angry" is one of the many funny lines in the movie "Groundhog day"...I'm wondering if "Don't blog angry" should also be a rule.

I meant to sit down and blog several times today, but got distracted. I use this time to reflect if at all possible...right now I'm sweating and I'm angry because we scheduled our day around the company that said they were going to replace our air conditioning unit today. It's 5pm on Friday...still no sign of them.

I can understand that to some extent, it's 102 degrees in San Antonio today and I'm sure they're getting a lot of calls. However we've been waiting for several days...and it's 102 degrees at our house too.

I'm most angry at the fact this company is trying to rip us off. Our home warranty firm is paying for the cost of replacing our condenser, but the firm they've hired has tacked on "fees" that are not covered. I can live with some of them, but I'm a reporter...I did some checking. They want to charge 100 dollars for the city permit. It's debatable if a permit is needed at all, but in any case the city permit costs $6.25. I'll even throw in the 22 dollar inspection fee. But a 200% markup seems a bit extreme.

I'm trying to maintain a Christian attitude...but it's difficult when the environment doesn't exactly remind you of Heaven...Did I mention it's 102 degrees?

Addendum: We negotiated a more reasonable fee.

Compromise is possible...but sometimes to get folks to bend, you have to bend a few ears.

And twist a few arms.

Thursday, August 07, 2003


Some stories don't get the national attention they deserve.

Did you miss this story?

Never doubt a mother's love.

I read this story with interest:

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Veteran black activist Al Sharpton contended Wednesday that the news media are dismissive of his presidential campaign because newsrooms are overwhelmingly white.

"I think when you look at the lack of diversity in the newsrooms, when you look at the lack of diversity from the editors and those in power, then you see them as automatically dismissive of anything that is not like them, which is white males," said Sharpton.

This from a man who has a made a living being a race activist and dismissing any honest dialogue over whether he's actually helping the people he claims to be representing.

"Hello Kettle? Pot calling."

I agree there's not enough diversity in newsrooms, not of the superficial nature that Mr. Sharpton alludes to...there's a distinct lack of diversity of thought and beliefs. How many conservative Christians do you think are on the staff of the New York Times? How about the Washington Post? Care to take a wild guess at the number on the staff of the L.A. Times?

"Tonight's lotto numbers are: 0,0,0....if you guessed those numbers you win."


Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to finally be able to convince the critics he can act. If he can get people to vote for a pro-abortion, pro-gun control candidate and still make them think they're voting for a Republican he deserves an Oscar.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003


This is so weird.

Yesterday I blogged about burdens and how my Urologist and dental Hygienist thought because of my work hours they couldn't fathom how anyone could do what I do.

So help me, someone else said something similar this morning. What's odd is she works pretty strange hours too, coming in at 8 or 9 pm. She's one of my news contacts, someone I call every morning first thing and today she laughed and said, "Man, every time you call I think 'how can he get up so early?'"

This woman's name is JoAnna.

She is a Bexar County Medical Examiner.

Her job entails going to the scene of every late night death that is linked to unusual circumstances. Examining the corpses. Then she supervises their removal and later takes part in cutting them open for autopsy. She's a great news source since every murder victim, car accident victim, etc. she has personally seen...and touched.

She ties on toe tags, and she thinks my job is tough.


Thank you God for making such a weird and entertaining world.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


I don't need no beast of burden
I need no fussing
I need no nursing
Never, never, never, never, never, never, never be *

Right now two of our dogs are behind me, blissfully content in relatively small cages, and the third is sleeping at my feet, comfortably consuming a great expanse of my carpet.

They are care free.


My life has had its burdens lately: car repairs, broken A/C units, busted pipes, battered bicycles and broken cameras-although apparently my camera can be put through the spin cycle and still work a little, who knew?

At the dentist's office this afternoon my hygienist asked me about my work hours. When I told her I get up at 1:45 in the morning, I got the usual reaction, shock and dismay, followed by something along the lines of, "I don't know how you do it...I could never do that!"

I got a similar response from my Urologist some months ago. He asked about my hours and then shook his head and woefully pronounced, "I could never work a job where I had to get up that early!"

My hygienist makes her living scraping tartar and scum off stranger's teeth, stuffing her fingers in their mouths, flossing them and wiping spittle from their chins. My Urologist spends a goodly portion of his day trying to reach up and grab men's tonsils through orifices that are not intended to connect to the tonsils.

When comparing job gripes with these folks, I don't even want to play. I wave the white flag. But they see my job as difficult and apparently enjoy what they do.

Webster's defines burden as something that is carried, oppressive or worrisome.

I guess we all learn ways to carry our burdens.

That's the four million dollar ring Kobe Bryant bought for his wife following his admission of adultery and his indictment for rape. They weigh diamonds by the karat but that one seems too heavy to bear by any scale.

A man who used to attend our church died this week. Our church family has tried to reach out to his wife without a great deal of success. No doubt she is having a hard time coping with this sudden loss. I can't blame her for feeling she is carrying all she can.

Sometimes even gratitude can be a burden.

How many of my burdens are of my own making?

Psalm 68:19
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah

*Rolling Stones

Monday, August 04, 2003


When my stepson Joey was much younger he was like a lot of kids in that he was very specific about what he would eat and how he would eat it. Specifically he would never let one food item touch another. The peas couldn't touch the potato. It would gross him out if the bread got some of the juice from the roast beef on it.
I'm glad he's grown up so he can enjoy the brave new world of foods coming our way. Anyone ready for a blueberry, turkey burger?

Weren't those the last words of the Wicked Witch of the West?

In any case, the air conditioning repair crew is on the way. You know it's bad in your house when the dogs prefer to stay outside. Our home warranty will replace the unit if it can't be fixed, so Amy and I have been doing little chants and dances around the dead compressor hoping it's gone for good. It appears the voodoo may have worked since what we thought was condensation leaking from the unit is actually oil. We've struck oil! Yay!

Sunday, August 03, 2003


Saturday was not a good day. The air conditioning failed at the repairman until at least Monday. My car is still overheating because my mechanic now only works Saturdays "by appointment." I decided to take my bicycle in for an overhaul, the bike rack jettisoned it into the street on the way to the bike repair shop.
I'd show a picture of the significant damage to the bike, but my favorite digital camera

The camera I love so much because you can carry it anywhere and not notice you have it, is dead.

I didn't notice I still had it in my jeans when I threw them in the wash.

Midway through the day I went fetal as a result of the frustration, the heat, some possibly tainted hamburger meat, and a sense of self preservation.

In reality, the bike, the car and the camera can be fixed, replaced, or disgarded. My life will go on. We have a home warranty, so the air conditioning will eventually be repaired without a bank loan. The questionable goulash didn't kill me.

It's amazing how often when I am too focused on money and things,my life gets out of balance. When the things stop working (even as the result of my own stupidity) I realize how they have really acquired me.

Thanks for the reminder.

Today is going to be a good day.

PSALM 22:26

The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise Him. May your hearts live forever!

Saturday, August 02, 2003


My brother in law pointed out this article.

Why are so many killers and other criminals named Wayne?

Don't believe me? Here are links to various criminal or accused criminal "Waynes" that I found in 3 minutes searching google news for today.

A Wayne accused of murder-Victim stabbed, bitten and burned.
A Wayne accused of hugging and kissing young boys, not his young boys.
A Wayne convicted of fraud.
A Wayne accused of rape.
Another Wayne...another murder
Another Wayne...a multiple murder.

I've long held the belief that people named Wayne are predestined to evil deeds.

If your name is Wayne, I'm sure you are the exception.

I heard a theory once that a lot of men were named Wayne in the 50's, 60's, and 70's because their dads were big John Wayne fans. The theorist believed all those Waynes, saddled with an implied duty to live up their father's manly image of them, became disillusioned and turned to crime.

Of course, John Wayne was a good guy.

Then again, his real name was Marion Morrison and his middle name was Michael.

Took Lisa to go see "Seabiscuit" last night. Excellent movie, better book. It's an inspirational story. I thought about how this old horse came back so often as I embarked on a bicycle ride early today around the neighborhood. I'm out of shape and my bike is in worse shape than I thought.
The neighborhood still has too many hills (it's all coming back to me now).

If we stick with a horse metaphor, I'm no where near Seabiscuit...I'm probably closer to Alpo.

I'll have to get the bike worked on a bit before I can do any serious's still too hot to ride most days anyway.

Anyone in South Texas can sympathize with this guy

Friday, August 01, 2003


I vowed today I would get our bicycles ready to ride, which primarily meant scraping off the rust, wiping off the dust, and inflating the tires. Before I could take the bikes to a nearby gas station to put air in the tires though, I had to get our bike rack ready. Several months ago, when I was also toying with the idea of riding my bike, I started fiddling with the bike rack and a little nut fell off...scampering into that pit of debris we blithely refer to as our "garage." After crawling around the boxes and boxes of what I call "junk" and Amy calls "stuff someone will buy in a garage sale" looking for the little nut, I decided I was a little nuts and abandoned the entire idea of bike riding.

Now, I have no idea where to look for that little nut, and of course I don't have one in my little kit of "assorted nuts of all sizes except the one you need" that I purchased a Walmart, so I had to drive over to the hardware store to buy another nut. My car overheated on the way, but I made it back home, seven-cent nut in hand.

After struggling with the bike rack trying to remember where the various straps go, I decided that the convoluted way I attached it to my car was "good enough" and lifted the bikes aboard. Next stop: the gas station.

50 cents for air. I didn't have 50 cents. Next gas station - 75 cents for AIR??? I could buy seven nuts for that!!

I became determined not to "pay" for air.

Five gas stations later, engine temperature gauge and my frustration gauge both nearing "the red", I found an Exxon station that waived their 50 cent air fee "for customers", which is apparently the label given anyone who can read the sign on the air gadget and has the audacity to go inside and ask them to turn it on for free.

I fill the tires, get back home. The car didn't blow up, but one of the tires falls off Amy's bike as I unload it. Luckily this is a "quick release tire". Why we need quick release tires, I don't know, but I guess some people have sudden urges to strip their bikes of their front tires. Having a quick release tire must be handy for them. In any case, even I am able to put a quick release tire back on. It only took about 10 minutes.

I'm pretty sure it's secure. Guess we'll find out. Poor Amy.

It's 95 degrees during this process. I'm drenched in sweat, covered in dirt and grease, and I haven't even ridden the bike.

The bikes are ready though.

Maybe I will be...tomorrow.

Right now it all seems like an exercise in futility.

It's Friday.

I'm tempted to leave it at that...but of course I won't.
Woke up from my nap yesterday to the greeting from my lovely wife of, "We have a leak."

That's what I get for waking up.

220 dollars later the leak was fixed. Thank God for merciful plumbers. Of course now we have holes in two walls, but they're covered up fairly well by my radio.

I'm sure we'll get around to patching the day.
Car overheated bringing Lisa back from work, haven't ventured down that path yet, but I don't think my mechanic will be as lenient as the plumbers were.
They've torn up the street outside our house, for what reason no one seems to know, although I'm fairly convinced the monstrous asphalt eating machine they used to do it was responsible for the plumbing leak since our entire home shook from the rafters as the blacktop gobbling gargatuan's gaping maw churned through the neighborhood.
Our electric bill is now coming close to exceeding our mortgage payment...and August is only one day old.

But it's Friday.

After thought

Found an interesting site collecting photographs/images from various Christian bloggers to weave into a Digital Quilt. Each picture links to a blog. Very cool.