Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Well, I've found a way to help Amy cope with me being a raving lunatic while watching the Spurs...surround her with 19, 216 other raving lunatics.

I look fairly normal.

Great time at the Spurs game last night. Amy suffered through my insanity, the loud clapping guy in the "unabomber seat" (I'll have to explain that some other time) and the onset of some viral crud she has contracted.

The things we do for love...and free tickets.
Some things we do for money...The ratings are out. They're up. I'm employed...for another 12 weeks.
Norman Mailer's wisdom from the New York Times today:
We went to war just to boost the white male ego
"With their dominance in sport, at work and at home eroded, Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in..."

He gets paid to write stuff like that....I do this for free. You're getting a bargain.

Anyone interested in reading the rest of his piece go to the Times online....if you want something more meaningful in your life than Norman Mailer click this website.
Surviving "Armageddon"

In 1996 or '97 I was in a book store in Dayton, Ohio looking for something to read during our annual trek to Lake Erie. I was perusing the Christian fiction area which, as it is in most book stores, was about the same size as the trunk of a rear-ended Yugo. My stepson Joey was with me and suggested I look for a book called "Left Behind". I remember at the time he said, "I think there are two books in the series actually". Having such a vast selection to scan, I found "Left Behind" and its sequel and bought them both giving no thought to the fact that the remaining contents of the Christian fiction section could now fit in that Yugo's glove box...with room for gloves.

"Hi, my name is Michael...I am a Left Behinder"

It's 2003...I am still reading these books, the latest being "Armageddon" which I think is number 663 in the series. Now ( with apologies to my niece Sarah who is in need of a "Left Behind" series intervention ) I must say these are not well written books. I breezed through the first couple because they moved very swiftly. With each subsequent book I have increasingly felt like I was reading them out of a sense of obligation more than desire. Every triple spaced page seems to drag a bit more than the last. The latest book crawls at a pace only rivaled by that old woman in front of you in the grocery store check out line at four minutes before kickoff on Superbowl Sunday who forgot her glasses and is looking for correct change to pay for the anal suppositories you've been trying desperately to avoid seeing.

The "Left Behind" books are based on the 'pre-trib' theology. God is going to call some of us home before the "Tribulation". Prior to reading these books I didn't really know if I was a "pre-tribber" "mid-tribber" or "post-tribber". Now that has changed. I'm definately a Premie. This attitude wasn't adopted because of the case made in the Left Behind series. I have latched onto it out of necessity. Even though the latest book is entitled "Armageddon", it's quite obvious there are still more to come.

I pray for "The Rapture" fervently now.

"Father God, I beseech Thee. Take me away...before I have to read the next one."

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I don't seem to suffer from writer's's something different. I have these spurts where I could write for hours on end. Yesterday was one of those days. I probably thought of 30 things to blog about it....lucky for you I got over it, though I don't seem to be able to control it.

There must be a name for this type of outbreak of creativity. Writer's herpes?

This morning though I'm suffering from a distinct lack of energy ...Perhaps I had the wrong breakfast.
Anticipation is in the are in my pocket. Snagged seats to tonight's Spurs game. Maybe if I scream my sage advice from a closer venue they'll win.
Anticipating ratings too...screaming doesn't help.
I've been watching brick throwers...not the figurative type who toss up verbal bricks to stir up trouble...the literal type. I'm sure they have another name, maybe Masonry apprentice. Anyway, I see them as I walk through my neighborhood where quick-constructed homes are being snapped together. The "brick thrower" works with the guy who actually positions and mortars in the bricks on these homes. The brick-thrower works below him, often on scaffolding, tossing up bricks as the wall work and wall worker climbs ever higher.

There is a system to this work. You can only throw so many bricks at one time without wearing yourself out. Also if you throw too many at once they won't stay together in the air long enough for the co-worker to catch them. That could obviously have some painful repercussions. Brickthrowers therefore have a pretty clear mission and instant yet lasting reminders when that mission fails.

It seems four bricks is the standard. The brick-thrower picks up four bricks at a time and tosses them. They hold together in flight...everytime. And everytime his co-worker catches them.

A system of efficiency...but also a system of trust.

A lot of relationships are built that way...sometimes only one brick at a time though...and that's fine. I don't need to slap together my relationships quickly like a cheap house.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Radio is a wonderful career....12 weeks at a time. Unlike many jobs, in mine I get a graphic performance evaluation every three months...the ratings. The phrase, "live by the book, die by the book" is common in radio. It means if you let it, the ratings book will rule you.

When the ratings go up, the temptation is to declare victory, remind everyone what an important component you are in the station's success and generally preen.
Of course ratings will eventually go down, they always do. When that happens those folks who spent their "ratings high" prancing about in all their ego glory usually go to ground, hoping no one's memory is long enough to recall their bravado of only 12 weeks prior.

Tomorrow is ratings day...

Live by the book, die by the book

When I started writing this blog I made a commitment to myself to write daily. Daily journaling is a challenge I have always wanted to attempt and I'm glad I've followed through with it. Today I'm actually sitting down to write twice, mostly because I dashed out a few thoughts before work and now I wanted to give it a bit more contemplation. I am not going to make that a habit though. I could easily see where blogging could change from a "release" to a "requirement". I have to set boundaries to prevent that.

Live by the book, die by the book

Part of the attraction of blogging is that I can simply write whatever is on my mind with little or no concern about anyone else reading it. However I have set some standards for myself about what's appropriate and what's not. One thing that I've learned by writing news for a living is that whatever you write can and will come back to haunt you.

Live by the book, die by the book

I don't want to become compulsive about this blog. The addition of a "hit counter" seemed like a fun idea when I installed it. Now I suspect I will get rid of it . Although I consider this a personal journal, like many bloggers, I suppose there is a part of me that secretly hopes my pontifications will be considered "wisdom" or "witty" and attract a following. According to the counter, for whatever reason, this blog is getting some regular visitors...besides my wife. I have no problem with that, but keeping track of how many is beginning to feel like "the ratings".

Live by the book, die by the book

Living by the book can, of course, be a good some cases. I like to think I live by "The Good Book" as much as possible, but I'm sensible enough to realize you can't be a literalist with the Bible at all times. That too can become obsessive.
I think if my Pastor pulled out a 60 foot scroll to start explaining the prophecies of the Bible to me, I might be tempted to shoot him. Knowing my Pastor, if he went that far over the edge, he would forgive would be a mercy killing on both our parts.

Live by the book, die by the book

As they say in the news business, "in a related story"... I like this idea. Steel plated Bibles. But is it a testament to faith, or to doubt? Presumably it's hoped the Bible will protect this officer. It's small enough to fit inside a shirt pocket, so obviously there is great faith of any bullet being well targeted. Yet it's got a steel cover. Does our faith end at the binding? It's like hedging a bet. "God's word will protect you, but it needs a cast iron cover".

Live by the book, die by the book

I haven' t forgotten about the Spurs loss last night, although I am still rather proud of my relatively upbeat attitude this morning. I'm refusing to credit that to sleep deprivation delirium.

Today Spurs coach Greg Popovich will be given the NBA Coach of the Year Award. I guess he's deserving, he's certainly built a great team of fine men. However, if I were Coach of the Year last night with 8.2 seconds left in the game, and my opponents were down by 2 points plus I had the knowledge that their star player, Stephon Marbury, had a crippled arm, I would have told my team, "Foul the one-armed man!! Make the one-armed man make his free throws!" If he made both, we'd still have the ball and more time on the clock. I guess the Popovich playbook says with 8.2 seconds left and the lead, you rely on your defense to make a stop.

The playbook probably never accounted for the possibility of playing a "one-armed man".

Live by the book, die by the book
If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps, don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing, and...

Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the bright side of life

Okay, so I rearranged my life...essentially gave up my Sunday afternoon, so I could stay up to watch the Spurs last nite...and they lose. The upside? I had a wonderful walk last night before the game, around 8:30, something I'm never able to do normally because of my work schedule. The downside? Besides the loss of course, is that there are two more games this week, and I won't be able to watch the game Thursday night due to a previous committment. I'll get over it.

A close friend attended a funeral the other day and didn't realize until he was walking out of the service that the jacket he wore was still covered in confetti from "cascarones" that were busted over his head on Easter. I wonder if anyone thought the confetti was from the funeral?
I think I'll establish the ground rule now that confetti will be welcome at my going away party.
For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin.
Give the audience a grin.
Enjoy it. It's your last chance, anyhow.

Always look on the bright side of death,
Just before you draw your terminal breath.

Maybe the Grim Reaper could carry pom poms?
One cup of coffee down and out of time....Off to work

Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the bright side of life

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Little sleep last night, which makes me introspective, and later today I'm sure cranky.

Spurs play a 9:30 tonite and I have at to be at work at 3 a.m. on Monday. I will watch the game and go to work...somehow it will work out. Most likely with a great deal of coffee. I noticed this story, and although I'm not Catholic, with my lack of sleep and dependence on caffeine, I believe if anyone deserves to be granted Sainthood THIS GUY does.
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap"

Things don't always work out as we expect.
I have a friend working in China, which is a scary prospect at anytime, but these day's it's scarier...She went there with so much energy but because of SARS the gameplan has changed, and it isn't turning out as she expected. I pray for her health and sanity in what has to be a crazy world.
While tossing and turning last nite I finally got up and thought I'd write. I had planned out a "blog" posting in my head, and wrote part of it, but I opted to delete it. From my blog, not my head.

When in doubt, keep your mouth shut...and listen.

I give that advice occasionally at my job where we are sometimes given, or stumble upon, "information" that some people consider "news".

"News" is a broad term, that is often over applied. Just because we know something doesn't make it news. It makes it knowledge. Knowing the best way to use knowledge is a lot like playing poker, sometimes it's better to hold your cards.

Sometimes our "knowledge" is skewed by our emotions. I watched two people I have been working with in recent months lose their jobs because what they thought was news, wasn't. What they thought were facts, weren't. Bad, inexcusable decisions, were made as a result.

That too will work out ...perhaps for the best in the long run, but it will be a costly lesson.
Today's sermon is about "Doubting Thomas". I know that in advance because Amy and Gordon talk about the sermon topic to help her coordinate music. I have doubted many things. It's the nature of the beast when you're something of a paid cynic. At times I doubted myself, my God, and even my reality. It took love, faith, and, for about a year, some prescribed pharmaceuticals to help me conquer, or at least control, some of those demons. I still doubt...there's no doubt about that... but I trust in the all works the interim, I hope I can keep my mouth shut and just listen.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

More naked or close to naked people in the news. These aren't peace protestors or members of PETA. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but could this be some slow moving airborne virus that is gradually infecting the people of the world with a compulsion to disrobe? We have the SARS virus..

Maybe this is SNARS...Stripping for No Apparent Reason Syndrome.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea
Anyone else think we're taking this directive a little too far in this case?
Amy has set up the beginnings of a family tree on our "My Family" website...which has me scrambling to find records to fill in some blanks...also has me thinking of how little I know and or remember of my parents and grandparents. My parents died more than 30 years ago. That's hard to fathom. My Dad was only 3 years older than I am now. I'll definately get out and walk today.

I'll have to contact my brother Stan, I know he ventured down this family tree trail some years ago. I have two brothers, no sisters....much like EVERYONE in this family.
Completely off topic: My wife has only one known "flaw" (at least that I can find and it's only because she tells me about it when she eats hot sauce sometimes). She has what she calls "geographic tongue". Wanting to know Amy as well as possible, and lacking anything else amusing to write about, I decided I should research this more. This is an actual condition (I'll spare you the pictures I found with a Google search).
Here's the basic definition: "A fairly-common tongue condition of unknown cause manifesting as multiple, flat, irregular, red lesions of the tongue dorsum; after proper diagnosis, no treatment is necessary."
The most disturbing aspect of that is that it's "fairly-common"...I guess that means Amy will never be included on this guy's website.
JOY JOY JOY! The Spurs won last night!
I occasionally catch myself saying short prayers while watching the Spurs play. You know, "God, please let Tim make that free throw". I used to think it was somewhat unseemly to pray for sporting events, but considering some of the other things I say during the game, I now believe prayer might balance it out a bit.
The day is young. The weather is great. Saturday is off to a good start. Amy and I have almost nothing on the agenda. I may even put on some clothes.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Sometimes real life is too IRONIC for words. Accounting students cheat on exam they were allowed to take home so they could go to a presentation from an Enron whistleblower?? It's like a country song written by a math major.
Speaking of math majors..Tiffany is making graduation plans. Two and a half weeks and she's a college grad. I'm sure she can count down the days without a calculator.
Speaking of counting...suddenly I'm getting "hits" on the web counter. That's a little frightening, yet I'm fairly certain no one is venturing here looking for profundity...My apologies if you are.
Speaking of apologies...The Dixie Chicks Apology tour went on ABC last night...didn't see it though I saw the transcript and listened to some audio cuts. I didn't really hear an apology and I'm not sure what they're apologizing for anyway. They have all the right in the world to speak their minds, but they don't get a guarantee that when they say something stupid people won't react.
Speaking of stupid...did you see The Dixie Chicks latest approach? Sorry, I still don't understand this concept of taking off your clothes off to make a point. The peace folks seem big on it. It says something pretty obvious to me if you have to show your rear end to speak your mind.
Speaking of rear ends. On Monday, "Nude Dancing" becomes illegal in San Antonio. One of our reporters actually talked to a guy at a strip bar last night who said, "Beautiful naked women is (sic) God's gift to his sons...and we're all God's sons here". Nice try.. how drunk do you have to be to confuse a topless bar with the Garden of Eden? We had our bite at that apple long ago..

the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

Speaking of Genesis...Amy seems to remember it differently:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Then he created man. Then he created woman. Then man created sports. Then woman created shopping. And it was good.
Speaking of good sports. Go Spurs!

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Happy Birthday Joey!

Not that Joey reads this...actually I don't think any of the kids know this blog exists (or for that matter my website), but I still think I should take note of birthdays and such. Joey is 20. I remember when he was 10...He's changed a lot and then again he hasn't. Joey pictures .

I've been having weird encounters with Winston, one of our three dogs. We recently decided to put the dog's "crates" upstairs in hopes they would settle down a little easier and more specifically that Winston (the dog we lovingly refer to as "autistic") would be less inclined to "howl" for no apparent reason. He's no longer howling as much...but he does seem more confused. He sometimes stands at the top of the stairs and just barks at me while wagging his tail like he's saying, "How did I get up here again?"

I guess he'll adjust. It was either move him upstairs or find him some other place to live.

This is actually the same basic reasoning we used when buying this house, the kids rooms were upstairs. Out of sight, out of mind.
Had an interesting discussion today about a wide range of topics and somehow got on the area of religion and someone mentioned how "most folks like to keep their religious beliefs private". I sort of took that remark at face value for a while. I guess I adhere to that somewhat. I certainly don't want to question people about their beliefs, nor do I want to be one of "those people" who are considered religious nuts. However the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. Why do we consider our beliefs "private"? Shouldn't we be declaring them at every opportunity?

Of course that's probably how many wars get started... Still I don't want to keep God standing out of sight at the top of the stairs saying, "How did I get up here again?"

I think I should just let the Lord howl....

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

It's early to be blogging... I just finished writing a couple of stories about Juan Rodriguez Chavez. He was called the "Thrill Killer" for killing five people in the Dallas area in one night in 1995. He probably killed more than a dozen people in a five month period. Some he shot, robbed, stole their cars and then ran over their heads for "fun".
While in prison Chavez found God...I know, a lot of people find God behind bars it seems, and I have no way of knowing if his "prison conversion" was real or not. I do know he prayed before he died. He apologized to the families of his victims. He admitted what he had done and he said he was a different man, but he also said, "That does not change the fact of the bad things I have committed.''
I go round and round on capital punishment. My friend, and Pastor's, thoughts are that we should give everyone every opportunity to find God, so executing them prevents that...Chavez found God. Then we executed him. He appears to have been a changed man when he died...but he still was a killer. He said last night he hoped God could give the families of his victims the same peace he had.

I hope God gives us all peace.
Watched a program with Amy last night on Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He's a guy who has had good timing. Sold "" for a fortune and is living his dream. He says he's the luckiest man alive and has all the toys that seemingly go with that title. Before we watched that show we spent a short time visiting some close friends. They've been married for a long time. Their love for each other and for their family is so strong and vibrant it radiates.

That type of wealth is something I am much more comfortable seeking, and thanks to Amy, am much more likely to attain.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Made it thru the Spurs game with my marriage in tact...and the Spurs won, which is also a plus.

The Spurs did alright, especially for not having David Robinson and Kevin Willis. They also are missing someone else, but I'm hoping they find him before Friday night. In order to accelerate the search for that missing component, I hear the Spurs may take lessons from the Pentagon's 'most wanted' playing card strategy.

Actually I like Tony Parker (heck Amy wants him for a son-in-law although I haven't checked if that still applies considering his playoff performance). I think he's right for the Spurs. This guy would be a good Spur too, if he played basketball.


Speaking of Christians. I got this mailer at the office from an outfit called "Priority Associates". It's inviting me to a presentation on " Does GOD Really Exist? Weigh the evidence and decide for yourself".
No where in it does it state an affiliation with a church. At first I thought it was some weird "EST" thing where they would let me in the door and then not let me use the bathroom, but after some extensive research (okay, I typed the name in Google) I've determined that this is one of several evangelical Christian groups targeting young business professionals.

I'm still wary of this type of outreach, not exactly sure why. I'm going to pass. First off, I think I may skew the line for "young" and "professional" is a somewhat debatable adjective when it comes to describing me. Second I know the answer to the presentation's topic already. Third I don't need a free lunch. God's already fed me.

Monday, April 21, 2003

It's crunch time...the rubber meets the road...push comes to shove...someone has to step up... Okay, you can put in any other sports cliche here, but I'm not talking about the Spurs versus Suns game tonight, at least not directly. I'm talking about whether I can abide by my vow to Amy not to be a madman watching the game so she'll stay in the same room or even the same house while the game is on. I searched the Internet today for tips on watching sports games with your wife....there are no websites devoted to this into that what you will. I suspect it means, like the Spurs, I have an uphill battle on my hands.
Speaking of push coming to shove. Emily Rebecca McGovern came into the world this morning. She's the newest member of our church family. Her parents, Jerry and Jennifer, came to our church at Amy's invitation. Jennifer was our "dog trainer", so I guess the dogs, Avery and Winston, get some credit for bringing them into the fold.
Evangelism=1 Basic Behavior= 0
Back to the Spurs...this could be painful tonight...not just because I could be murdered by my wife :) The Spurs are without David Robinson and Kevin Willis.
I have made contingency plans for a Spurs loss, not at home where I will be inconsolable, but at work where it's my job to think of things like this...We'll have a psychologist on in the morning to talk about how overwrought fans can cope with disappointment. I thought that would be more subtle than THIS.

Halftime updateThe Spurs have the lead. Amy is still speaking to me.


Sunday, April 20, 2003

He is risen!

Easter 2003, which of course has deep spiritual meaning to me....but it also means I can eat bread and cheese again... Pizza anyone? Actually I don't think that site has anything to do with Pizza but it had the right name.
In reality, I really wasn't craving too much this morning besides the company of my church family...It was a wonderful Easter service...The children were priceless.
Gordon's sermon was great. Very inspiring. I'm struck by how each of us finds the word of God in our own way. This STORY illustrates that sometimes we all have to dig deep to find it.
Notice how I haven't mentioned the Spurs at all? There's a reason for that.
I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make it through the playoffs alive...Amy may kill me. She's already decided she won't watch another game with me. I tend to get a bit too involved. If you're not handing me food or the remote control, it's probably best just not to talk to me when I'm watching the Spurs...especially if they're playing poorly and need the sound advice only I can provide them by screaming at the TV screen from edge of my wingback chair.
The web counter works. Last count "11"....9 of those are me...Which means there's been roughly a 20 percent increase in readership to this blog. Stay in the media long enough you can put a positive spin on anything :)

God Bless and Happy Easter...both of you!

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Ah...what a glorious day... Easter is tomorrow...and the Spurs open their playoff series is good.
Went out to the church this morning to cut some of the grass. I thought I could get away with not doing that until I saw it last night...Too raggedly looking for Easter. It was a nice way to start the day until part of the lawnmower fell off. Not the blade or anything, the little plastic thing that holds part of the handle on disappeared along with the screw it holds in place. I found the screw, but I ended up on my own version of an Easter egg hunt, walking over every area that I had mowed looking for that little plastic part. Luckily I had about finished mowing the critical areas. I found it eventually, actually just as I was leaving, about 10 feet from where I first noticed it fell off... Didn't find any Easter eggs... but I harbor no ill will toward the Easter Bunny
EGO ALERT: Last night I discovered I had finally made it...onto Google. I admit I occasionally "egosurf", trying to find out if my name or web page will come up in search engines. Most of the time it doesn't. However last night a search for Michael Main radio produced an immediate hit for my website. Even this blog comes up in Google now, with a little effort.

After that happened I realized how quickly my head could swell knowing that I was now among the elite 560 billion websites listed by Google, so I quickly took steps to humble myself. This morning I installed a little "web counter" at the bottom of this blog. It's very reassuring to know that I''m still the only one who reads my prose.
While working this morning I listened to the hugely popular Darryl Worley song "Have you forgotten". It's aimed at folks who question the necessity of war and is very moving. However I was still thinking about last night's very moving Good Friday service. Amy sang, and the story of the night Jesus died was retold. We retell it because too many of us have forgotten that.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Today as I walked I thought about birds. For many years, when I chose to ignore the sound of God calling me I tried to convince myself God didn't exist, but birds got in the way. I could rationalize much of nature but never birds. Their vast varieties. Their seemingly nonsensical mix of colors.

Birds always seemed like deliberate creations, even when my eyes were most jaded by cynicism.

Today I thought about birds as I hurried to get in my Lent inspired walk before the Good Friday service at our little church. The thoughts were initially prompted by a grackle I saw perched on a rooftop. It seemed odd. Several blocks away there was another grackle, a black bird that could be mistaken for a crow, perched on the apex of another roof. Then just as Amy and I walked out of the house to head to tonight's service, there across the street at the peak of the neighbor's roof was yet another black grackle.

I couldn't help but think of the words I would hear tonight:.

Matthew 26:34
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

It's odd now that it seems so long ago that I started to open my heart to God because of what I saw in birds. I still see the majesty of God in those small creations, but I also see God in so many other creations...even people...their vast varieties and seemingly nonsensical mix.
I guess I can give God credit for using birds to reach certainly appears in some cases like THIS it's reciprocal.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I was stuffing Easter eggs last night at church...sampled too much candy along the way. I even ate a "peep". We've actually had a box of "peeps" sitting around our house for a year, they some how dodged last year's Easter baskets (yes, Easter baskets for grown kids...Easter includes some weird traditions in our home...including Easter Emus and Armadillos).
The year old peeps aren't the ones I ate, although I tend to think "peeps" have a pretty long shelf forever .
A new Pew research project concludes more than 40 percent of Americans say they don't use the Internet...and most of them don't think they will. Of course they'll be forever in the dark about "peephenge". Their loss.

Psalm 84:11
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

I am thankful to God today. I'm thankful everyday, but more aware of God's blessings on this day. A dear friend, a fellow Deacon at my church, underwent surgery this morning. It was a major operation and I don't think I have ever been as apprehensive about anyone's surgery besides Amy's.. JoAnn embodies that quiet peace of God's grace as does every member of her family. I know of no better witnesses for Christ. They make a statement for God by the way they live their lives.

Thank you God.

War Update: Anthony "Scottie" Miller was buried today in San Antonio. Full military honors. The first, and hopefully only, military casualty from San Antonio in Iraq. He graduated Jay High school and according to his mom, "Wanted to save lives". He was only 19.

Thank you Scottie.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Ahhh..the tranquility of "yellow". The "Orange Terror Alert" status has been lowered. I still feel silly saying, "Orange Alert" on the radio. It's like saying, "Watermelon Warning" or something. Orange Terror Alert sounds like a bad takeoff on an even worse MOVIE.

I think all warnings designed to inspire fear in us should use military jargon: "DEFCON 6!" Now that would make me sit up and pay attention. A "Yellow Alert" just doesn't do much for me....Yellow is not a color that invokes my defenses....

Just met one of the new neighbors. I had met her husband and her three sons, but not her... She seems very pleasant. She's determined to get their yard looking nice. That's always threatening. The neighbor on the other side of us has employees who maintain his yard and the guy across the street has already set a new standard for "lawn maintenance". If these new folks start making their yard look pristine, I'm in trouble.

That's something I should receive warnings about, "Your neighbors are going to highlight your shabby landscaping".

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Nappus Interuptus....some teen peddling something came "pounding" on the door and ringing the bell simultaneously this afternoon. I woke with a start, fearing the dogs were out or the house was on fire....I have actually been trained to sleep thru one ring of the doorbell in a pseudo haze as a result of reverse Pavlovian conditioning....I hear one ring of the bell and unlike Pavlov's dog, I don't react at all or at least try not to. The credit for this ability goes to the intensive post (high school) graduate work of "the UPS guy", who drops his packages on the porch, rings and leaves before I can even get to the door so I no longer try...
Perhaps I could qualify for some federal research grant to study Pavlovian Interrupted Sleep Syndromes. I know it sounds silly but THIS GUY gets grant money for heading the "Neuro Fuzzy Optical System Team". His name is Pavlov too.

Anyway if you bang on my door and ring the bell, I am going to get up...I'm not going to be nice. This kid was already starting round two of banging and ringing by the time I got some clothes on and made it to the door.... "Hello Sir, how are you today?"..... I'm half dressed, my hair is matted, I have remnants of drool and pillow wrinkles on my face, no glasses on, the dogs (completely unaware of Pavlov and presumably the Neuro Fuzzy Team) are barking/howling and I'm scowling.... We won't need a study to determine if this teen sales-whiz is psychic.

I communicated that I was not interested in purchasing anything at this time, though I don't believe I used that exact wording.
Speaking of dogs, my co-worker has shared a tale of his dog, Molly. Molly is an "outdoor" dog, meaning she is banished for life from ever setting foot inside their home. She has her own "dog house" and in the winter months she's allowed as close as she'll ever get to the Master's home, the garage. I'm not sure why people have "outdoor dogs", admittedly I've never had one, but it seems like owning a pet that you don't pet. "If you look out the window you can see our dog...see her....over there...we don't touch her, but isn't she pretty". I also have this creepy feeling about it, like it's some way to hang onto the "Plantation owner" stage of humanity, with the dog being banished to the slave quarters..

Anyway, while Molly was living the good life at her winter place, the garage, she made a friend. Someone, actually something, that also is not allowed in the Master's home...the lawnmower. Molly has developed an attachment to the family lawnmower. The bond is so strong that when it's cold, Molly takes her blankets and carefully wraps them each night around the lawnmower. It's gotten to the point where Molly is quite obviously unhappy when she and the lawnmower are separated so when Molly leaves the warm and loving surroundings of the garage and is put in her pen, the mower goes with her. The family can now look out the window to see their pet, and determine if it's been chilly that night by whether "Snapper the lawnmower" is wrapped in Molly's blankets. Molly does not sleep in her dog house....because the lawnmower won't fit inside with her.

I love this story....and I hope it's made into a movie, although I see the obvious title IS ALREADY TAKEN.

What I find most interesting in this tale is that my coworker is buying a new lawnmower because he can't handle taking Molly's friend away from her to mow the Plantation.

Wag the dog...Pavlov style.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Does not man have hard service on earth?
Are not his days like those of a hired man?

Been thinking about service and committment for several days. I enjoy service work, yet for some reason I become frustrated that I'm not joined by a throng of others sharing my enthusiasm. I consider such work worship yet some part of me wants to 'require' it of other people? How is that different from forced prayer? Maybe I should move to Iraq and let someone more sensible take my job...
I have to confess for many years off and on since high school I watched "All My Children". It was the only soap opera I ever followed. It's been a couple of years since I've seen a full episode, I read THIS STORY and I think I've not been missing much. I would love to believe the purpose of a show dealing with "teen lesbian love" is to further the cause of understanding in our world, but admittedly I have a cynical nature. The people I see truly doing the work of God rarely send out press releases to tout their generous work on behalf of humanity

On the desk in front of me is a rejected check from one of Amy's clients. Each time I sit here I see it. It's a significant amount of money, more than 500 bucks. We could use it no doubt and the fact that we counted on that money has cost us. The effort Amy has put in to collecting it has cost us too.
In college, my best friend and I shared a house with several guys and for several months I had to "carry" my friend on the rent. My buddy couldn't pay me- the money became an "issue" and it nearly cost me a friendship...Just before I let it consume me I realized what money was worth. Now, I don't remember if he ever did pay me back. I don't even remember how much money was involved. I don't care. I do know he's still my friend. I couldn't put a price on that.
Don't get me wrong. I'd like this headcase to pay Amy, but the pursuit of money often comes at too high a price for me. Learning that lesson early in life was priceless.

That attitude sounds noble, but it's probably what spawned the professional bill collection industry.
On the warfront: Newsweek has an article detailing some of our war tactics in Iraq. It's fascinating to realize that despite all our high tech weaponry -when push comes to shove, we really haven't advanced too far beyond the schoolyard days when it comes to war:

...young Arab toughs cannot tolerate insults to their manhood. So, as American armored columns pushed down the road to Baghdad, 400-watt loudspeakers mounted on Humvees would, from time to time, blare out in Arabic that Iraqi men are impotent. The Fedayeen, the fierce but undisciplined and untrained Iraqi irregulars, could not bear to be taunted. Whether they took the bait or saw an opportunity to attack, many Iraqis stormed out of their concealed or dug-in positions, pushing aside their human shields in some cases—to be—slaughtered by American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles..

If the war had gone on much longer we might have been forced to pull out the big guns and start yelling, "Your mother wears Army boots".

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Sleep schedule is screwy again....always happens as I try to adjust to daylight saving time, and fail. I've gotten better over the years of simply accepting that I will not be able to have the tight reign on my sleep patterns that I desire. That at least eliminates the anger that has followed many of those fitful nights of no sleep. .
On the war front: Our 7 known POW's have been found.. alive. That was a wonderful way to start the day.
This is really crude humor.
Holy week, which means the end of Lent is nearing. The bread and cheese fast resulted in a net weight loss of zero, which is okay and probably to be expected since I allowed "pasta" to fall into its own category (otherwise I'd starve or Amy would have strangled me trying to figure out what I was going to be able to eat). I think I've been faithful to my vow to walk for 40 minutes every day, although I still have to meet today's committment. I plan to keep walking after Lent. I must admit that I expected to have to walk in the rain a lot more over the past 7 weeks. It seemed until I made a vow to walk, rain or shine that it rained every other day . I can' t think of one day during this Lenten season that hasn't been simply wonderful weather for walking. Never really too hot...or soggy.

Like my sleep pattern, I had no control over that. When I let go of that desire to control- life still works out. I should remember that more.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

I am a loud mouth. It's a realization I have everytime I take part in a meeting or conversation where I have passionate opinions. It was brought home this morning at a "fireside chat" at our church. The chats are held every 3 or 4 months with Elders and Deacons. Today I came away feeling good, thinking I had been able to express some thoughts I'd been having, but as I reflected (remember I've been reflecting on reflection) I started thinking maybe I interrupted too much and didn't allow others to make their points. The more I thought about that the more I decided it was probably the case. I learn much more when I keep my mouth shut. I always vow I won't do that and then I do it. One day I'll learn..but at what PRICE?.
This has been a wonderful season for the Spurs. I've been to more games than ever, and been able to watch almost every game on TV. I can't remember seeing a team in any sport work so well as a "team". I still though have trouble fully "investing", vowing "The Spurs are going to win it all!". Part of me holds back, not wanting to be completely disappointed if the Spurs should stumble.

I may have been permanently scarred by the Cowboys :)
There are many wonderful things about the Internet, but perhaps the most wonderful is the fact that whenever I feel like I'm strange, out of touch, or just plain weird...I can reassure myself in mere seconds that there is someone more out of touch, stranger, and weirder than I. Like THESE FOLKS.

Friday, April 11, 2003

I see where websites are popping up in tribute to the Iraqi information minister, "Baghdad Bob". T-shirt sales are booming. Sony has trademarked "Shock and Awe" for a computer game. Grab that money while you can, since that 15 minutes of fame is about up.
Here's a reminder that even winners can be losers.
Our friends are trying to come to terms with the reality that their tired old dog needs to be put to sleep. Amy says she and I should help them with the decision. I've anguished enough over that process...I think I'll let them go it alone and be there for them when they're ready....not that you're ever really ready.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

A gorgeous day in San Antonio. This is the hidden only lasts about 12 hours but it's nice.

Lisa has her final UIL concert today...I remember her first "concert" I attended. She played the violin then. The wincing pain of five children playing violins all at once for the first time in public is something few people could forget without medication. Now she's probably the top high school oboe player in Texas...I won't need earplugs for this one.

This story reminds me that even true love has its limits....I love the line about "concentrating on her hula hoop" act...Can you make a living with a hula hoop? Legally?
On the war front: My friend sent me this reminder

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Three weeks. That's how long it took for the war to reach its climax. So much for the arm chair generals spouting how our forces were bogged down, etc...Remember how they were talking that way um...last week? Now that it looks like the war with Iraq will wind down quickly I hope the country can return to debating more serious issues, like whether City Council members should be sanctioned for "smirking"
A day to remember. Baghdad falls and I had an appointment with the Urologist. I'm sure a more poetic writer could find a parallel there.
My Urologist, like everyone, always looks at me with incredulity when I explain the hours I work. I think a man who spends a good part of his day massaging prostates really wins any debate when it comes to the drawbacks of certain careers.
Anyway, the annual exam produced nothing new. I refuse to dwell on the idea that I can get "used to" such proceedures.
I am gradually adding pictures, writings, etc. to the web page. I don't want to become obsessed with it and I could easily see how that would be possible. I'm relatively convinced that no one reads or visits anyway, however I don't get depressed by that...I'm well aware there are far more meaningful things on the Internet to look at.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Another reminder of the fateful nature of the business I'm in...a fellow employee has been "wished well in his future endeavors", which means he's been fired. No word on why, although he was not the most likeable fellow. Working with someone who gets fired is kind of like knowing someone who's scary in part because it reminds me of my own mortality.
If the Optimist Club has a world wide award for the person who always looks on the bright side it has to go to the "Iraqi Information Minister"... This guy has been on TV with bombs bursting around him telling reporters that U.S. troops aren't near Baghdad and that the Iraqi's are just about to win the war. I've seen a lot of spin-masters...this guy is unbelievable. The only thing that gives him any credence is that he's the only Iraqi male without one of those bad porn star mustaches.
I've been reflecting on reflection. An interesting word in that it has almost opposite meanings: to think or look inward at something, and to shine back an image or impression. I've been reflecting on reflecting God's word. Am I reflecting enough either way?
Speaking of word meanings....have you checked out dictionary websites that "speak" words so you can know the pronounciation? Someone has found a very clever use for that
Beard update: Couldn't stand it anymore. Hair today...gone now. I'm too lazy to have a is that possible? In any case, I have officially wished my beard "well in its future endeavors".

Monday, April 07, 2003

Well, what profound thoughts can I pass on today?

An interesting phenomena regarding the "alleged beard". At church several folks made mention of the sprouts of hair I'm generously referring to as a beard. However at work today, my first day back since vacation, no one has said a word about it. Not sure how to take that...It could be that my co-workers see no reason in stating the obvious, "so you're growing a beard". Or perhaps it's not that obvious, which would be a bit embarassing since I've been growing it for nearly a week. Worse case scenario: They notice it, think it's so silly they figure it's best to say nothing.

My co-workers have never been known for mercy so that seems a bit of a stretch.


We've moved into Baghdad.... no gas attacks and the military is now indicating it doesn't expect any.

This WRITER could prepare us for them though.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Been a few days without blogging. Been at the coast with Amy, my nephew Matt and three of his buddies from Ohio. It was a very nice, albeit too short, stay. Everytime I'm near the water I think how I need to be around the ocean more. It's spiritually renewing. Perhaps it's the way it humbles me. To see the vast expanse of God's creation puts my world in perspective. I don't feel any less important to God, God just feels more important to me.

I'm attempting to grow some form of facial hair. I have never in my life had a mustache or beard. I figure sometime in my life I ought to have at least given a serious effort to growing one. Don't know if I'll give up this time...more likely Amy will lose her tolerance for my sudden nosedive into post pubescent vanity and I'll shave....If not perhaps we'll have a NAME THE BEARD contest.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

The invasion has nephew and three of his buddies have arrived. It should be a fun week. Gorgeous weather. It'll be nice to take a break from the war.

Speaking of the war....Think you could do better flying a helicopter? Try THIS.