Friday, April 30, 2004


Through many dangers, toils and snares...we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...and Grace will lead us home.

The barn swallows are back on our front porch. It's something we can count on, but not necessarily revel in, sort of like my annual appointment with the urologist. Last year I knocked down the swallow's nest - after they had left for the season - thinking I'd at least make it more difficult for them to set up housekeeping, or perhaps they might choose a spot not directly above our front entryway. No such luck. They have rebuilt, smack dab in the middle of the entrance to our front porch. I know this because they don't have indoor plumbing.

Still I admire these birds. They are small, but they are feisty. Oftentimes I'll see them chasing larger birds away, occasionally they dive-bomb me and squawk when I leave or come home.

Sometimes they tolerate me...but watch my every move.

I believe God shows us in nature that we need an element of defiance in our lives.

For example, there is perhaps no more pernicious plant life in South Texas than the prickly pear cactus, although some might argue the mountain cedar or juniper gives it a run for its money. The prickly pear is almost impossible to eradicate.

I used to walk in a park where groundskeepers had cleared the cacti out of the way by tossing it to the side of the pathway they created. Everywhere it landed it grew, including up in trees. That's persistence.

Our church property is covered in spots with prickly pear. I've had my own battles with it, stories for another day or perhaps someone else's blog, yet I also have marveled at the wonder of this creation of God. The cactus defies heat, cold, drought, uprooting and, take my word for it, flames.

Still, every year around this time, it also defies your expectations.

This hardened, unremitting beast of a plant also produces the beauty of the cactus rose.

So I will study the swallows and observe the prickly pear.

There are lessons to learn from both.

Amy and I have been tried and tested and I know there is likely more to come.

Yet, we will dig deep, stand tall, and we will fight back.

For this is the defiant nature of God, so blessedly bestowed within us too.

The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. - James 1:3-4


Today I woke up laughing...I don't remember why.

It was a pleasant feeling though.

I felt like a man possessed walking this afternoon and initially sat down hoping for a streaming spout of wisdom, but I am now consumed by the prospect of a nap.

If I'm lucky I'll awake laughing again.

That would be nice.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


A month or two ago we cut our cable service back to the cheapest level known to man as part of the Main Family slash and burn plan to avoid financial ruin. However, after returning all the high tech equipment to the cable empire we noticed we still received a lot of channels, including some we didn't even get before.

Personally, I was willing to let this situation ride. We had done our part; I figured the cable company would get around to doing theirs eventually.

Alas, Amy didn't think they were billing us right still, and she was correct, so she called the cable company last night.

They've credited our bill and also admitted they overlooked us. There now is no question about the level of cable service that is to be provided.

So far though, the channels we're not paying for are still coming in.

It's sort of a mixed blessing. I feel guilt free, but we also have this looming fear of the cable guy showing up at any time and clipping our mindless video wings.

Would it be wrong to pray that we slip through the cracks of the cable bureaucracy a little longer, like until the NBA playoffs are over?

That was rhetorical...I know the answer.

I don't like the answer, but I know the answer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


We've circled the medical wagons. Amy's surgeon has agreed with our prognosis that more opinions are unnecessary. It was a very long day...a 3 p.m. doctors appointment didn't start until close to 6. I'm too tired to write.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004


I woke up from my nap intending to go work on the church property. Then I figured I'd do that tomorrow, and instead take a walk before splurging with Amy on a trip to the high priced coffee shop.

We'll be somewhat frugal. I'll bring along my big glass of sweet tea - one of the nice things about Starbucks is they don't care if you drink their coffee, they'll still let you sit there - but I'll let Amy have a latte and we'll do a crossword puzzle or two.

So far the plan is working out fine, except I haven't walked.

I have posted meaningless stuff like this on the blog, and read a bunch of other folk's writings.

I'll walk after Starbucks....that sounds like a good new plan.

Admittedly some might interpret it as avoidance too, but in truth, everything is a matter of perspective.

I think it probably wasn't until five years after I was divorced from my first wife (the beta wife 1.0) that I realized how the loss of my marriage had really affected me.

I haven't spoken to her in close to 20 years. We made a clean break and I know, thanks in large part to God's grace, I am a far different person now. I'm certain she is as well.

If I were to speak with her it would be to apologize for being too young, too self absorbed and for not really trying. That very brief marriage and my callous disregard for the vows I made to hold onto it, still ranks as the most agonizing failure in my life.

That being said, I pray this embittered ex-husband featured on E-Bay will one day be able to get over his anger.

And his embarrassment.

Okay, it's weird. After writing endlessly about squirrels yesterday, I log onto Going Jesus today and find a link to The Evangelist Squirrel.

You have to have macromedia flash and don't fall for the "email this to your friends" thing, I'm sure that will simply get your friends a bunch of spam.

However it is funny.

Monday, April 26, 2004


I've been cultivating a new relationship. It started a week or so ago when I mentioned to Amy that despite my restricted diet and daily power walks I thought my weight loss might have reached a plateau.

She replied, "Walk further."

I think wives, and perhaps drill sergeants, are genetically bestowed with a talent for easily giving blunt advice in tandem with painful truths.

I decided to extend my walk by zipping down a few extra streets each day, and that's where my new relationship bloomed...with a dog. He's a lab mix who heretofore apparently had unchallenged reign of his particular roadway. Although he wanders a few yards in either direction, he's one of those dogs who is smart enough to stay in his own front yard all day long.

The first time he saw me strutting by, he barked fiercely and followed about 150 feet behind me until I was safely out of his domain. Each day since then our relationship has developed a bit more. He barks occasionally, and still keeps his distance, but now sometimes he tauntingly races me for a few yards on the opposite side of the street until he comes to the rather easy conclusion that I am no match for his speed and therefore I am no real fun. At that point he'll usually turn around and go back to his yard.

Today was different. Today he was on the same side of the street as me when he darted out from a yard. He stopped before me and gave me a slightly threatening stare. I wasn't so much frightened as slightly disgusted. He had a dead squirrel in his mouth. He was obviously possessive of it, but soon he recognized me as the walking guy - the guy he could easily outrun - he wagged his tail, and strutted proudly back toward his own yard carrying his dead prey.

I don't think our relationship is going to be quite the same from now on.

I spent my early childhood years in New York where there is not an abundance of wildlife, at least not visible wildlife. Most animals that share space with humans in the urban areas of New York work as hard at staying out of sight as the human residents work to avoid seeing them. In other words, there are lots of rats, and roaches. Pigeons are an exception. They are sort of like gang members...stupid, relatively bold as long as they're surrounded by their own kind, and they leave their mark seemingly everywhere.

Squirrels on the other hand have achieved a certain hierarchy in the animal kingdom in New York. People treat them like communal pets. Presumably this is because they're sort of cute; certainly not as creepy as rats, and they're brighter than pigeons, which isn't saying much, but it's something.

My father kept a large bag of unshelled peanuts in his office on the second floor of our home in New York next to his desk - the same walnut newspaper man's desk my computer sits on today actually. I used to love sitting on the window sill as my father worked while trying to coax the squirrels ever closer with those peanuts.

In Central Park, in the heart of New York City, you will find squirrels that have evolved with the surroundings, oftentimes better than the people who share the same space. The park squirrels are brazen, completely unafraid of people and almost everything else. They've really developed a stereotypical New York attitude. Were you to picnic in Central Park you might expect to feel a tap on your shoulder and turn to see a squirrel giving you a look that unmistakably said, "You gonna eat all those chips?"

When I moved to Texas I had a hard time indoctrinating myself to the idea that squirrels were not community pets. They were wild game; the abject lesson came when I was in college.

I lived in a rental hovel common in college towns and behind me was an even worse tenement leased by a young man named Curt. Curt was a full blooded Indian from Oklahoma. We were both very poor. I was living by and large on oatmeal. I could get 30 rib sticking meals of gruel out of an 80 cent box.

Curt was more innovative in his approach to food, which I discovered one morning when I heard a fervent pounding at my door. At that point in my life I was not an early riser, and I vividly remember staggering to the door wondering who on earth would be intruding on my weekend at 9 a.m.

I opened the door to see Curt, smiling broadly. He was obviously very proud of something and eager to share. It was then I noticed he held a rifle in one hand while his other hand was concealing something behind his back. I knew Curt well enough not to be fearful, yet in truth I don't know anyone even today whom I am comfortable seeing at my front door rifle in hand.

In an instant, Curt swung his hidden arm around and dangled three dead squirrels about 18 inches from my face.

He cheerfully announced he had spent the morning hunting along the Red River and as the squirrel carcasses swayed in front of my still bleary eyes, he offered the still unforgettable invitation, "Wanna eat breakfast?"

Much like my budding relationship with the lab mix down the road, my friendship with Curt was never quite the same after that.

I passed on breakfast.

I never did thank him though for helping me rediscover new pleasures in oatmeal.

Sunday, April 25, 2004


If there is an advantage to having a wife who can't eat, it is perhaps that it makes it a lot easier to stick to your own dietary restrictions.

Back in October I wrote about "Jack 36", my pastor's father-in-law, who has given me a number of pairs of pants that have a size 36 waist. I was bemoaning the fact that although Jack still saw me as relatively thin, at that time I couldn't squeeze my fat fanny into a size 36 even if aided by a shoehorn and an industrial size can of Crisco.

Today at church I wore a pair of slacks, with a size 36 waist, that Jack gave me several years ago. Only last week I couldn't fit into them. Admittedly today they were still a tad bit tight, but I wore them with no real discomfort.

Although I embarked on this dietary and exercise regime at the start of Lent for spiritual more than physical reasons I'm now fairly determined to keep after it. My goal is to be able to donate Jack's pants to someone else in a month or two, because they'll be too big for me.

Obviously dropping a few pounds, eating better, and exercising are all good things, but the true benefit of all this is that it's distracted my focus a little from Amy.

Don't take that wrong. Make no mistake; Amy is of paramount importance to me. She is, in fact, the most important thing in my life.

Yet, with God's help, I've realized that by concentrating a little of my time on me, I am better equipped to give my best to her.

Love should never be a tight squeeze.

Saturday, April 24, 2004


Any time you start feeling like you have no life, remember this story.

There are actually people who 20 years later seek out the Colorado house that was used as the exterior shot for the old Mork & Mindy sitcom.

It's been a while since I've been to Colorado, but I seem to recall there were plenty of other things to see.

I suspect most of those things are still there.

Not sure where I saw this first.

Those are painted hands.

Check out more at this site.

Very cool.

It happened so fast. One moment he was this little kid. The top of his head barely reached my belt buckle. He had a wry sense of humor, and an extra measure of self esteem that seemed uncommon for one so young. I watched as he consistently surprised me with talents I didn't know he had much less that he had been cultivating and improving upon.

I remember the day Amy and I were sitting on the couch downstairs and Joey came down from his room and handed us probably 150 pages of writings. He said, "I've written a book. What publisher do I send it to?"

It was the first we ever heard he was writing anything.

I remember him demanding to know why the local newspaper wouldn't print his comics which he deemed far better than what they were publishing. I remember him calling the newspaper editor and asking the same question. He ended up getting a personal tour of the paper. I think he was about 12.

I'll always have those memories....and new ones I'm sure, but today one stark reality is staring me in the face.

My beloved stepson, Joey, is 21.

He's a full fledged adult, no longer only in his own mind, but in the eyes of the law.

Happy Birthday Joey.

You have always made me proud, and I am blessed to have played a small role in your life.



I'll admit that before Amy and I went into a financial bunker mentality, we treated ourselves regularly to high priced coffee. I read this article this morning and realized there is a level of coffee snob that we could never hope to reach.

Please God...never.

Friday, April 23, 2004


Earlier this month I wrote about the seemingly ludicrous signs at the office of one of Amy's doctors. Today we went back to that doctor and I decided to get some better shots.
It's not that I felt obligated to prove how silly it all's more like we were there anyway and I had my camera so why not?

So, here's the sign directing us from the waiting room to the subwaiting room.

And here's a still not perfect shot of the sign telling us to be there 15 minutes before our appointment and then immediately below warning us not to be there more than 15 minutes before our appointment. It's still a little blurry, but there was a nurse standing right behind it and I felt a little awkward taking the picture.

Later I noticed those signs are all over the the waiting room, the subwaiting room, etc. I can't believe I'm the only person who finds their contradictory nature so laughable, but no one else seemed to take note of them.

The good news is this particular doctor, a blood specialist, looked at all of the tests he had ordered and said Amy's blood work was normal enough that he could live without seeing her. He does wants faxes of future blood work sent to him so he can keep tabs on her, but he doesn't think more visits to his office (timed at exactly 15 minutes prior to the time they are scheduled) are necessary.

It's nice when doctors look for ways to make our lives easier. It hasn't happened a lot lately.

The pain specialist Amy visited earlier this week actually said something similar. Unlike the previous pain doc, Amy says this guy was very kind, but he was also fairly blunt, telling her that her pain is of such a nature that there really isn't any way to treat it, beyond what's already being done. He doesn't believe we need to add him to the mix.

Amy was a little disappointed at first, we were hoping I suppose for some miracle treatment.

However I'm thankful for his candor and also for his understanding that having a pain specialist added to Amy's medical entourage who would prescribe the same treatment she is already receiving only means more doctor visits and more co-payments.

After all these months it's refreshing to finally have doctors realize that the more the merrier bit is becoming more of a hindrance than a help.

Scheduling appointments, filling out forms, explaining medical histories, driving all over town at all times of the day to meet with doctors...all of these things have only added to Amy's general burden. I think now it's obvious that everyone who truly needs to be involved in Amy's care already is involved.

Next week, we'll visit with the surgeon who has been quarterbacking this game plan and hopefully be able to convince him of that.

If so, we can put our focus back on patience and prayer.

I think that will be a sign of real progress.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


I tried very hard last night to get close enough to a cardinal in our church parking lot to get a picture, but I was unsuccessful. He kept dashing away from me every time I got near.

By cardinal I mean the red bird kind, not the religious kind, we don't have cardinals in our church, although I hear in churches that do some are also occasionally hard to approach.

This particular bird is a fighter. He ruffles his feathers and charges his enemy. He is repelled every time, but each time he is undaunted, and goes back for more.

It really would be quite inspiring, except the enemy bird he repeatedly challenges for dominance is equally defiant.

You see, the bird our church cardinal "throws down" with is his reflection.

Yes, it's a regular sight to see this cardinal duking it out with his own image in the side mirror of various cars in our church parking lot.

It's amusing, but in a way it's also a little sad to see this creature confused by that which he will never understand.

I also find it a good reminder.

In truth, some of the most painful and some of the most futile battles I've endured in my life have occurred when I've failed to recognize that I was working against myself.

As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man - Proverbs 27:19

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Maybe I'm getting old and cranky, but I did it again...I fired another medical professional.

I went to the dentist yesterday to finally have a crown put on after the first attempt failed due to his poor workmanship. For this one crown I have spent possibly 4 and a half hours at the dentist's office, most of it waiting.

As soon as I entered the office, signed in and sat down, the business manager poked her head through a small window, much like a scene from the Wizard of Oz, and literally bellowed my name. My previous experience told me I wasn't being quickly seen by the dentist so I walked back over to the window only to have this woman shove a sheet of paper at me while loudly proclaiming, "Mr. Main, some of your bill still hasn't been paid!"

There were perhaps 3 other people in the waiting room and 4 or 5 office workers ensconced behind the glass with the business manager as she started chastising me very publicly about a relatively small sum of money. I stood there as she said, "This seven dollars is for the crown you're having put on today...there's 6 dollars due from when Tiffany was here...there's 8 dollars that insurance didn't cover on Lisa's last visit..." In all I think out of the five family members who had perhaps had $2500.00 worth of work done by this dentist, the outstanding balance was about 120 bucks.

Normally I would have paid it on the spot or at least a good portion of it, but some of that bill is in dispute, plus I was stunned that this woman decided the best approach to collect was to call me up like an errant schoolboy and publicly flog me with my financial failings.

I muttered something along the lines of, "Well, I'll see what I can do" to which she replied, "You better because we'll turn it over to the C.P.A.!"

Personally, out of all the nightmares I have conjured up in my life, none has ever featured an accountant in the role of the boogie man.

I suppressed a laugh, shook my head and went back to my seat to wait for another 20 minutes until I was called in by the dentist.

As a dental assistant tried in vain to make light banter, I decided on my course of action. As soon as my crown was completed I marched up to the desk, this time on the insider's area of the glass enclosure and wrote a check for one fifth of the outstanding bill. Then, very loudly, I announced I was firing the dentist and his staff.

I was pleased that several staff members were present, and a few patients were well within earshot. They all looked at me incredulously.

Amazingly the dentist, who barely had 5 minutes to work on my teeth, came zipping around the corner almost instantly. He asked what was wrong so I told him, again making sure everyone could hear. I said his business manager had decided to embarrass me in front of his other patients and his staff members about the 100 bucks I owed him. In return I decided I was firing him.

He gently tried to coax me into another area to discuss the situation. I refused.

I said, "No, your business manager -that woman (thank you God for placing her office in the immediate vicinity so I could point at her for emphasis) thought it best to make a show of this debt, so I want to make a show of my firing you."

Perhaps I should add this small disclaimer: Some folks might debate this, but I'm not usually insane. Really.

The business manager, who was visibly stunned to be singled out, turned red and then stammered out, "I never did any such thing."

At that point some of her co-workers noticeably dropped their heads and started trying to look busy.

I laughed and said, "You certainly did...and now you know what it feels like."

The dentist tried again to get me to some other area of the office where people couldn't hear me, but by this point I was having far too much fun.

Finally he gave a look to his business manager, as well as a look of resignation to me and walked away. He obviously realized the longer he stayed the more times I was going to declare that I was firing him and he opted to cut his losses.

I smiled as I walked out into the waiting room to see several patients staring at the office area after obviously hearing the entire exchange.

I'll eventually pay the bill, although I'm considering 2 dollar a month payments - the dentist shouldn't mind waiting, he didn't mind it when I waited.

I don't feel the least bit guilty about that, or embarrassed by my actions.

Besides, I learned long ago you can't get anything accomplished at the dentist's office if you keep your mouth shut.


In Dr. Doolittle there was a 2 headed llama named "Push me Pull You" . Near Dallas there is a calf with three eyes and two mouths. I think I'd name it "This away That away".

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


I was on the phone with my sis-in-law Terry last night and we spoke briefly about my growing fear of boozed up drivers trying to negotiate the same space on highways which I use in my I drive into work. For those of you who aren't paying rapt attention to my life, in other words everyone reading this, I have been driving in about 30 minutes earlier than in the past in order to have more time to squeeze in some of my new duties. This means I'm hitting the highways at 2 a.m. which, for those of you who lead sheltered lives, is also known as closing time to a surprising number of people whose existence allows them to linger at bars until the wee hours of the morning. These folks are universally referred to by the official term: drunks.

My policy of self-preservation requires that I consider everyone on the road with me at 2 a.m. to be a member in good standing of that particular club.

Oddly enough, as I was driving in this morning I remarked to myself -there's no one else to talk to at that hour- that there weren't as many cars on the highway as I had been contending with recently. I chalked it up the Spurs playing fairly early last night and figured most of the boozehounds had probably faded before the final bell.

Upon arriving safely at work, I walked into the newsroom only to be bombarded with the screeching chaos of unusually frantic scanner chatter. Police, fire and EMS workers were all talking at once about a major problem which had occurred moments earlier on one of the highways. I soon figured out that a car had rolled over, several people had stopped to help that driver when an 18 wheeler had barreled into all of them. It was horrible. Three people were dead, several others were injured. The big rig was not only on fire, but blocking the freeway creating the potential to exponentially compound the tragedy.

I then pinpointed when and where the wreck was took place. It had happened at 2:30 on I-35 about 3 miles from our home. The same freeway I had been marveling about the lack of traffic upon only minutes prior. The exact same location where I would have been had I not adopted a new routine for the first time in 19 years and begun driving in to work earlier.

I'm not saying I would have been involved in that accident, but at the very least I certainly would have been uncomfortably close to being a participant.

It does give one pause.

I'm still concerned about the increased number of drunks on the highway at 2 a.m. and I'm still considering a number of options to try to delay my morning commute, but the irony of today's situation is not lost on me.

We choose the paths we take in life, for this I am grateful. Today though I'm reminded again how blessed I am to have chosen not to travel those roads alone.

Psalm 48:14

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Monday, April 19, 2004


I read this story about the world's tallest man with interest. According to the link he considers his height "God's punishment", but the article doesn't say why he thinks God is punishing him.

If he truly believes that, I'd suggest it might not be prudent to go the papers with his complaint. Going to his knees would seem a better would certainly provide a different perspective.

I'm sure Prince William is a fine young man.

But a speedo, is always a speedo.

Even with the swim cap, it's painfully obvious he has his father's ears.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


"What are you looking for?" he demanded. "I know where everything is and can find it quicker than you!"

His remarks carried an undisguised air of disdain peppered with a distinct lack of patience. They were enhanced by a resonant throaty growling, the disconcerting trademark of a longtime smoker.

A tall man, perhaps in his late 60's, with slicked back hair harking back to another era, he looked like he could play the walking dead in a horror movie. He glared at me with dark sunken eyes ringed by sagging, jaundiced bags of skin offset by the grayish hue of his overall complexion. He was gaunt, but I'm certain in his youth many would have considered him burly. I wondered if his current waxy appearance was due to his chosen profession or if he was suffering from a disease that discolored his skin.

Despite the curiousness of it all, his countenance was still intimidating, and it was obvious my inquisitive stares weren't appreciated.

"You gonna buy something?"

He wanted me to buy cheese.

Welcome to Cheese Haven, the largest cheese shop in Ohio.

Although it promotes itself as something of a tourist attraction, Cheese Haven is rather dingy and, as I was finding out, disquieting too. It's a block long building sitting on the edge of Lake Erie, stuffed from floor to ceiling with cheeses, smoked meats, candies and an assortment of other edibles or things that purported to be edible in decades gone by.

I determined there were three employees. The Bela Lugosi look-alike who was barking at me, a woman manning the meat counter I presumed to be the bride of Bela, and a younger woman near the candies. I guessed she was their daughter - heiress to the Cheese Haven Empire.

"I'm not sure what I'm looking for", I responded cautiously, "I've seen the signs for miles and they sparked my interest."

That was true. There aren't a lot of tourist attractions in Port Clinton, Ohio. On New Year's Eve they have a walleye drop to compete with the giant ball drop in New York's Times Square. I had seen the road signs promoting Cheese Haven. They reminded me of road trips with my family as a child when each little town boasted its own unique oddities. Today, most towns provided little when it came to the unexpected. Wal-Marts and McDonalds now chew up the landscapes, digesting small town individuality in the process.

"Try this!" He ordered, pointing me toward a plate littered with unidentified cheese cubes, "We age all our own cheeses."

I had already noticed the samples of cheese scattered on plates about the store, but had also taken note of the dust. It appeared everything in the store was being aged, not only the cheeses.

Although hygiene questions lingered loudly in the back of my mind, when Bela the cheese vampire barked, I felt I had no choice. I tried not to tremble as I picked up a cheese cube. I also made the effort not to dwell on the fact there were no toothpicks provided which meant any number of people had shakily fondled the same food I was now reluctantly putting in my mouth.

"You like that? How many pounds you want?"

I was quickly looking for an out...the sample was tasty, but I wasn't prepared to deal with high pressure cheese sales.

"You sell meats too?" I asked. I knew as soon as the question left my possibly poisoned lips, it would be met with a rolling eyed response of disbelief.

"Everything in the counters that isn't cheese is meat. Go down there" he said, pointing to the area where his wife was stationed, "tell her what you want, and how much, but I better see you trying the horseradish cheddar spread on the way...we're famous for it!"

Bela turned away, seemingly in disgust. I stepped out of view thankful to escape the cheese interrogation while feeling a small amount of shame for seeking refuge in hard salami.

As directed, I did pause to sample the horseradish spread. My eyes welled up almost immediately as my sinuses went into instant rebellion. This stuff was not for the meek, but I was learning fast that Cheese Haven itself seemed designed in part to cull the less stout members from the human herd.

Beads of horseradish fragranced sweat were still forming on my upper lip as I stopped in front of the extensive meat counter only to hear the bark of Bela's bride, "Try this!" she said, shoving a tray of jumbled meat cubes in my direction.

Still gasping for air, wondering if it was possible for horseradish to literally burn someone's nostril hairs and convinced I wouldn't be able to taste anything for several months, I timidly responded, "Looks delicious...what is it?"

"Our famous beef link. Two pounds for 12-95. You can keep one and give one to a friend."

I wondered what friends I was close enough to, or perhaps distanced enough from, that I could gift them with a foot long link of meat when the Bride of Bela saw fit to add, "It's 100 percent beef!"

The broad context of that definition didn't reassure me, but I smiled...and swallowed.

"So how many you want?" she asked, order pad in hand.

I now knew that although I had escaped the cheese ghoul, I had not eluded Cheese Haven's strong arm sales tactics.

I muttered something about not being able to make up my mind and wandered quickly toward the candy section, the aroma of horseradish trailing behind me.

To my surprise the Cheese Haven Empress manning the candy station didn't exert any pressure on me at all. Perhaps she hadn't been fully indoctrinated. I was grateful for the momentary sanctuary.

Then I saw them.

The hard candies. Not the stuff you see everywhere. Not the stuff you see anywhere these days, unless you're really searching.

Horehound drops, and hard candy root beer barrels. The tooth rotting pure sugar pleasures of my early childhood. Even the packaging was the same, little bags which children knew could be fished out of the pockets of their fathers and grandfathers with well timed good behavior or a loving glance of innocence.

My heart pounded. I could taste those long forgotten delights already...memories powerful enough to neutralize even the lingering stench of horseradish.

I'll admit to having passing fears that perhaps these small candy treasures were available only because they'd been sitting in those same bins unsold for decades. I wondered if generations of people blessed with common sense had passed them by.

However I had already braved manhandled cheese chunks and steroid infused horseradish spread....I was a new man, even if I was reaching back into my past.

I gleefully snatched up several bags.

"Is that all for you today?" Miss Cheese Haven asked as I set my finds before her on the counter.

"Um, this and some of that horseradish spread please" - I looked over my shoulder and it appeared that Bela the cheese vampire gave a slight nod of approval as he said, "So you found everything you wanted on your own huh?"

I laughed, "I didn't know what I needed until I got here."

I opened that bag of root beer barrel candy as soon I drove away, the flavor carried me blissfully past the Wal-Mart and McDonald's across the street.

*This story is for the most part fiction. Cheesehaven exists and they sell many fine products. Tonight I had the urge to write something a little different and took many liberties along the way. Cheese Haven does sell horehound and root beer barrel candies like I remember from my youth. There's no such thing as a Cheese vampire, as far as I know.

I fired Amy's pain doctor. I went by her office Friday morning and simply returned the prescription as well as the doctor shopping contract she had ordered Amy to sign. I was very polite. I told the receptionist that after consulting with Amy's surgeon and another physician we decided that the pain doctor lacked compassion, and had handled Amy in a manner that would not advance her progress. I did specifically say, "Please tell the doctor that she's been fired."

I left my business card in case she had any questions, but I didn't really expect to hear from her ever again.

I was wrong.

The doctor called last night, which was impressive since she had emphasized to Amy during her appointment that she only took calls on certain days, and only filled prescriptions on certain days, and never to call on other days. Since it took six weeks to get into see her, I thought a phone call within a few hours of being fired was an extremely prompt reaction.

It was apparent during our conversation that the doctor was mystified. She said she thought she had treated Amy very well, and that no one had ever told her she lacked compassion. I tried to be as nice as possible, I told her how Amy reacted to the appointment. In response the doctor kept referring to her notes - reading them back to me as if I wasn't familiar with Amy's diagnosis, "Chronic pain from multiple surgeries...various medications currently prescribed....etc".

As we talked, I wondered if the doctor really remembered treating Amy. I was tempted to ask her what Amy looked like, but I didn't want to press the issue. We talked for probably 6 or 7 minutes and I simply kept restating the obvious - Amy came away from their appointment with a completely different reaction than the doctor did. Amy was uncomfortable with the doctor's bedside manner, or lack thereof, and she felt the doctor seemed more concerned with her own rules and preventing drug seekers from getting an upper hand. It was apparent to us at least this relationship wasn't a good fit.

The doctor read me her notes some more, said she never thought Amy was a drug seeker and then added, "But you returned only one prescription, not the second one I prescribed."

I reminded the doctor that she actually didn't prescribe anything else, because Amy said she didn't need it. I asked her to check her notes again, and she said, "Oh, I see...yes."

At that point the conversation came to a quick end. The doctor offered an apology of sorts, "If Amy got the wrong impression."

I said, "Goodbye."

In truth the doctor could have talked to me all night and not made any difference in my opinion of see at no time during our conversation did the doctor ever ask to speak with Amy....the patient.

I honestly don't think it ever crossed her mind.

I've done it. My kids have done it. My wife has done it. Heck, my Pastor has done it.

We've all downloaded music off the Internet without paying for it. I've rationalized it all sorts of ways: most of the music I've downloaded I actually own on CD, I work in radio so technically licensing fees have been paid by my company for music use, it's not stealing when recording companies have ripped off consumers for so long by charging excessive amounts for CDs - yeah, I don't really buy those arguments either.

I'm sure many of you have found a way to justify the practice. I'm neither condemning nor condoning it.

I stopped downloading music some time ago, not really because of all the threats of lawsuits, and not really because I felt convicted about it. I stopped because I was tired of dealing with all the spyware that gets implanted on your computer if you use song swapping software.

This news story is out today...I edited portions:

- Universal Music Group will raise the suggested retail price of its CDs by $1 to improve profit margins for merchants after many balked at the company's push to slash prices, a source familiar with the plan said Friday. The move could leave consumers paying about $11 for a popular CD.

Universal's new suggested retail price will be $13.98, but most retailers typically charge less than that amount.

Its move comes just three months after the company cut wholesale prices and reduced its suggested retail price from $18.98 to $12.98.

Universal expected merchants would pass the discounts on to consumers, thereby stimulating sales that had been down for three years industrywide.

UMG had given retailers until Jan. 1 to sell off existing inventories before making that pricing scheme official, but many were slow or never adopted the changes, the source said.

Universal's competition also did not follow suit with lowered prices

This story is also in the papers today:

Christian teens are stealing Jesus music.

They're doing it through Internet downloads and CD burnings at nearly the same rate as secular music is being pirated by non-Christians, according to a new study done for the Gospel Music Association.

The findings were a jolt to many in the evangelical music industry, who expected churchgoing teens to be mindful of the Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal."

"I'm surprised and disappointed that the behavior isn't that ardently different between Christians and non-Christians," said John Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association, the leading trade group for evangelical music.

But not everybody thinks the pirating is a bad thing. After all, some church leaders say, isn't getting the Gospel out more important than getting paid? How can it be wrong if it saves souls?

"That's convoluted logic," said Barry Landis, president of Word Records, a major Christian label. "You would never steal Bibles to give them away. You shouldn't steal Christian music to give away either."

I don't have any great insight into this debate. It does seem somewhat amazing that in an area which really is black and white, so many of us are able see...and hear gray. I also find it ironic that the people making the music and the people illegally downloading the music are really guilty of the same thing: greed.

Friday, April 16, 2004


Some days its simply not good enough to order need a chicken to order around.

Presenting: The Subservient Chicken!

Type in commands and try not to think that what you're doing is unbelievably silly.

She was only 6 when I met her. That may be why she accepted me into the family so readily...she wasn't old enough to know better.

Sarah....or Sarai "Wayne" as she is sometimes known, is my oldest niece.

She may not read this today...she may be re-reading "The Glorious Appearing" for the 8th time, but she'll read it soon.

Sarah and her sister Emily...or Emma Wayne, were the first people I told about this blog.

Today Sarah turns 16 years old.

What a wonderful thing.

What a frightening thing.

Sarah, I am truly blessed that God let me intrude into your life with silly jokes, crazy passwords, and offers to visit The New Braunfels Snake Farm or CheeseHaven.

Have a wonderful birthday!


Uncle M

Thursday, April 15, 2004


I think we made a little progress with Amy's medical team yesterday.

First, we got a wink and a nod from the doc to give Amy a break from her "feedbag". We're not going off it completely for a number of reasons, but I think we all agreed that perhaps being tethered to that thing for 14 hours a day might be taking a toll on her mental health, and that can't be good for her physical health.

After only one day of freedom Amy's mood has improved.

Second, I get to fire someone.

I am not really in a position at work where I have to fire people, I'm thankful for that...sort of the same reason I'm thankful I'm not into guns. I fear if I had a gun I'd find too many tempting targets.

I'm not against people having guns, but I shouldn't be one of them. I usually shouldn't have the authority to fire people either.

I'm a firm believer though that judicious firing has a place in this world. Tomorrow, or perhaps Monday, I'm going to visit the office of the pain specialist Amy went to see last week. I wasn't with Amy for that appointment but she came home feeling like she had been beaten up. The doctor made a variety of comments making it clear she really had not bothered to find out about Amy's case (although the surgeon assures me he called her personally); she treated Amy with a distinct lack of respect and a high degree of condescension. Basically, this specialist has lost all sense of compassion. I suppose dealing with people who are in chronic pain will tend to make you jaded, but it was not what Amy needed at all. Amy was extremely upset; I was furious. We had to wait nearly 6 weeks for that appointment.

After talking with Amy, the surgeon, and a physicians assistant we all agreed that doctor was not right for Amy. The surgeon has already pulled some strings to get Amy into see another doctor next week whom he describes as caring. I remember when I thought all doctors had that quality.

We could simply tear up the prescription the other doctor wrote and never call her back, but I don't think that sends the right message. I think too many people in positions of authority forget who their bosses are...I want to remind this woman, or at least her office staff that even though she may be a doctor, her bosses are her patients.

I plan to go in and politely return the prescription, ask for a receipt, and then ask that the doctor be informed that, "Mrs. Amy Main has decided that the doctor should be fired. We will no longer be in need of her services." I might even add, "But we wish her well in her future endeavors."

I'll probably only make the office staff giggle; perhaps the message will never get to the snooty doctor, but it'll make me feel seems to do wonders for Donald Trump.


Reasons I love my church.

1. Our little building is surrounded by mountain laurels, and not by folks like this.

2. All the wildlife on our church property is usually kept outside of the sanctuary.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Well, after whining about not having time to blog, I find myself for the past two afternoons having all this time. Instead of writing, I've been reading other blogs and commenting all over the place. I might as well write here.

In a few minutes, I'm taking Amy across town for blood tests and another visit with her surgeon. That's likely to be an eventful meeting since Amy will be praying very hard I don't become irate about the continued poor communication and missteps in her care. Luckily I got in a good nap today, so maybe I won't be cranky. I must admit I'm hoping to be cranky enough to get a few points across though.

Today was the first day since I started doing news for 8 stations at once that I actually felt like I had a handle on it. Every day prior to today I felt like I was cutting a corner in one area to complete work in another. Hopefully this means I'm getting into a routine.

I still am considering some changes though. I'm now leaving for work at 2 a.m. which means I'm on the road when the hard core drunks are leaving the bars. I've noticed a lot more traffic than when I drove in at 2:40. Today I called 911 for the second time since I started this schedule because I witnessed a car wreck on my way least 4 cars smashed into each other right behind me (no, I didn't cause it - one car hit a construction barrel and then it was every man for himself).

I'm thinking I might try actually writing some of my stories for other markets at home and emailing it all into the office, then I could leave a little later. I'd still have to get up as early as always, but at least I'd be giving the drunks a head start.

Side note: I'm still adhering to the fast I started on Ash Wednesday...including the exercise regime. As of this afternoon I've lost 25 pounds.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


I still have time for time wasters.

Like Mr.


I'm not going away for good. I simply need a week or two to get into a better routine with work, exercise, being Amy's lackey, and occasionally sleeping.

Odds are I'll have to write sickening amounts of wisdom about the Spurs march toward the championship.

Monday, April 12, 2004


I'm having some trouble adjusting to schedules and to life lately. I've got this overwhelming feeling that something has to I'm going to take a blog break. It's the easiest thing to cut back on, since it doesn't pay or require me to feed it.

I'll be back.

Sunday, April 11, 2004


It's storming today in San Antonio. The rain is coming down in thick drops and the temperature has fallen significantly.
Yet, it's a glorious day.

The Son shines through the storms

He has risen!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 10, 2004


Lent is ending.

Tomorrow our small church will forego Sunday school and instead have a pot luck breakfast. There will be food aplenty.

In the past, I have reveled in piling my plate high on Easter Sunday. This year I think will be different. I plan to restrict myself to fruit and choose one small food item to savor as a reward for adhering to my Lenten pledge.

This Lenten season has been especially good for me, coming at a time when I needed to make more room in my life for God.

I still have room to spare.

I mentioned a few days ago that the author of the Jesus Tribe blog was soliciting testimonies from Christians for a testimony webpage he's developing.

One of the folks who stops in here on occasion has passed along his story. It is very powerful and very much worth reading.

Friday, April 09, 2004


Where are the moderate Muslims?

I receive regular emails from Muslim groups. Without fail they point out what they consider to be the unfair treatment of people of their faith. Oftentimes they are right, but invariably they also seem to minimize the brutal treatment of those who do not share their beliefs. Brutality often at the hands of other Muslims.

One such email arrived this afternoon.

In part, it was a reprint of a Boston Globe article.


You can follow the link for the full story, what I've listed below has been edited by me for the sake of brevity.

Muslims on Long Island signed a petition condemning
the American bombing of mosques in Iraq, while worshippers and clerics at
Friday prayers around the United States worried that the war is getting out
of control.

After their weekly service at the Islamic Center of Long Island, 200
worshippers signed a petition to President Bush. It not only condemned
military actions at mosques, but urged the president to "bring home our
boys and girls."

At the Islamic Center of America in northwest Detroit, Imam Hassan Qazwini
said that millions in Iraq and around the world were happy to see the
collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

But, he added, the situation there hasn't improved and "the coalition
forces are moving from one mistake to another."

"Yes, we condemn the killing of innocent people, and there is no
justification for this kind of massacre," he said, referring to the slaying
and mutilation of four American contractors in Fallujah.

"But there's no justification for killing women and innocent children,
there is no justification for attacking mosques...We have to respect the
Muslim community."

I agree with that last statement...we have to respect the Muslim community.

But is this the best they can do?-
"we condemn the killing of innocent people......but there's no justification for killing women and innocent children."

Until perhaps the early 1970's, the Ku Klux Klan was a force to be reckoned with in the South. Brave people of color stood up against their hatred for decades. It cost thousands of them their lives. People of the Jewish faith also were quick to denounce the KKK and their courage can not be understated.

Today the KKK is not really a threat to anyone, except perhaps themselves. I don't believe many people take them seriously. Klansmen are bigots who play dress up games and wallow in their mutual ignorance.

What brought the KKK down?

Please understand, I don't want to minimize the contributions and valor of the very people these bigots persecuted, but I think what truly made the Klan a group more to be giggled at than feared, was the decision by moderate Christians to stand up and be counted. Protestant leaders boldly saying, "These are not my people. This is wrong. We not only denounce their actions, we will fight them with every tool of justice possible." Christians who held fast to their beliefs and were willing to die for them.

The Klansmen were cowards.

I wouldn't begin to say I understand the Islamic faith, but I have seen their spokespeople.

I know this sounds harsh, but I can't name one who is a moderate.

The spokespeople I see for Islam are caught on camera mutilating Americans. They boast of blowing up Israelis. They rejoice in the deaths of innocents, and a rare few occasionally offer wishy washy statements with only passing caveats about "condemning killing of innocents" couched in messages bemoaning their own perceived injustices.

It's not enough for me.

I'm tired of it.

Where are the moderate Muslims - the ones who truly adhere to their faith and are willing to proclaim loudly their disassociation with all forms of violence?

Have you seen them?

I haven't.

Stand up and be counted if you're out there.

I understand your fear. You will pay a price.

It's a price that has been paid before by many, many others, but it's not without reward.

I came into work this morning to be greeted by the chaos of the night. A teen boy was dead - a victim of street racing. Witnesses say he was going very fast trying to outrun another car. Only a few miles from our home he lost the race...and his life.

He hit a curb, sailed through a wrought iron fence and into an oak tree, which toppled over from the force of the impact. He died in his daddy's red mustang. The other racer drove away.

Moments later a police source whispered to me over the phone that I might want to contact another officer as soon as possible. I called that officer, who was not ready for media inquiries, but he confirmed that a 17 year old gang member accused of running over another teenager was in custody. The boy had been the subject of an overnight manhunt.

It was a gruesome case. Witnesses say the victim was literally torn apart on the pavement as he was dragged for 900 feet under the suspect's car. He screamed most of the way.

The screams stopped when he lost the ability to breathe...when he lost his life.

It was a sad morning, but I have come to understand the mistakes of the young are too often fatal.

Another story that broke here this morning was somewhat different. It involved a fire at a convenience store. I knew when I heard the alarm it was the work of arsonist. Convenience stores don't usually catch fire, yet four in San Antonio have been torched in the past month.

All of the stores are owned by Muslims.

The fires prompted members of the Muslim community to demand action. They've been joined in their outrage by people of many faiths, and many colors. Rightly so.

In this incidence, a suspect was caught, so perhaps we can put this ugliness aside.

The community worked together to find out who was setting these fires, and catch him.

It seems like common sense doesn't it?

Thursday, April 08, 2004


I learned today a friend's cancer has returned.

Many months ago, when I asked for prayer for my cancer stricken sister-in-law, this woman, whom back then I had only recently met, quietly came to me. She held my hand firmly and looked into my eyes as she said, "I am a cancer survivor."

It's a message she has repeated to me on several occasions...occasions when she perceived I needed to hear it. She was right.

She has provided me with hope, inspiration and courage; and she has done so with placid dignity and determination.

Now however her cancer is back, and as is the nature of this insipid disease it has silently wormed its way into several areas of her body.

She will fight, but her odds are not good. She knows that.

My friend is a calm woman. She has never wanted recognition or attention and she doesn't want it now.

So I will pray in subdued silence...but I will pray a lot.

Mine will be prayers for mercy and healing, but also prayers of thanksgiving.

The cancer may rob my friend of her life but it will not ever steal her true strength.

One day I will hold her hand as I pray. I will look into her eyes and tell her, "You have been a tool of God in my life...I am better for knowing you."

It's been a tough week, and there's still work to be done. Alas, blogging must be sacrificed again today.

Maybe I'll have time this weekend to enjoy some quiet reflection.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


It was a beautiful day today, but I'm tired now and don't really have time to express my appreciation for all its aspects in writing. Perhaps tomorrow. I did receive an interesting email from the author of the Jesus Tribe blog who is embarking on an interesting project. He's dedicating a portion of his website to the collected testimonies of Christians. Somehow he found mine and asked to link to it. I think it's a wonderful idea, but he needs more Christians to write out the details of their individual journeys. Check it out at this site.

Spread the Word.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

I've learned no longer to be surprised by the insanity associated with the practice of medicine, yet some days it's hard to suppress my befuddlement.

This afternoon I took Amy to see a new doctor, a hematologist - a blood specialist - who was called in to give his opinion on Amy's relatively minor case of anemia.

The appointment was for 12:30.

I was preparing to wait in the waiting room, having brought crossword puzzles and a book, but soon after Amy was called back into the inner sanctum of the place, she poked her head out the door and asked me to join her. Little did I know I was entering the medical equivalent of a rabbit hole.

Amy escorted me from the waiting room to the "sub waiting room". Really...that's what it was called.

While sub-waiting I noticed a sign on the staff desk in front of us. I'm sorry I couldn't get a better picture of it - Amy has this aversion to me doing embarrassing things even when we're ensconced in the rubber Ramada.

I know that's too blurry to read, but this is what the sign says:


In order to shorten your wait time we ask you to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment....

Immediately below that, on the same sign it reads:


To accommodate all patients we ask that you arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before your scheduled time. If you are going to be late to an appointment, please notify staff in advance.

The way I read this, if your appointment is at 2, that really means 1:45...but if you show up at 1:43 you are in violation of the rules for being too early, if you are there 14 minutes before your appointment you are late.

There was actually another sign right next to this one that warned patients would be charged a 25 dollar fee if they failed to show up for a scheduled appointment without giving 24 hours notice.

I promise I checked to see if there was an entryway directly into the asylum from the sub-waiting room, but I couldn't find one.

We arrived for the 12:30 appointment at 12:30 (it was our first time; we didn't know that 12:30 really meant 12:15). We weren't fined or even scowled at to the best of my knowledge.

By the time we got through the waiting and sub-waiting rooms into an actual room where Amy was to be seen by a doctor it was about 1:30. When the doctor poked his head in, it was 1:50. That would be 1:35 hematologist time, and I believe 7pm in dog years.

I should mention before we arrived at the doctor's office Amy was required to fill out about 30 pages of information about her medical history, and she was asked to bring with her all of the drugs she is currently taking. I had the passing thought that perhaps there might be a bellboy available to help us carry those, but that was not to be. At least I didn't have to worry about tipping.

When the doctor finally entered the room, the one beyond the waiting and sub waiting rooms, he sat down and so help me the first thing he said was, "So why are you here anyway?"

Amy blinked. I suppressed conflicting urges to giggle and strangle him. I tried to be as polite as possible but I couldn't help but mention that I was under the impression he might at least have read Amy's chart or some of the 30 pages of information she had been required to fill out. I stopped myself from adding that even if he hadn't read it before our appointment; he had an extra 90 minutes to cram. I also resisted the urge to rummage around in Amy's suitcase full of drugs and look for something that might put me on an equal playing field.

With a straight face the doctor said, "Well it's probably all in the charts here, but why don't you just tell me."

So, we spent 15 or 20 minutes (or a split second in the land that time forgot) outlining Amy's entire medical history only to then have the doctor nod and condescendingly define anemia for us.

After about 20 minutes of analogies along the lines of "if this room were a red blood cell and the room next door was another red blood cell", the doctor finally mentioned that he thought he might run some actual blood tests. I smiled while gently nudging Amy to prevent her from snoring.

I suppose we accomplished something today. I'm not sure exactly what, but we did all agree to return for another appointment in two weeks, which by my calculations will actually be 11 days when you account for the difference in time zones between here and the land through the looking glass.

Monday, April 05, 2004


Random questions from a rambling mind....

Why do people rush like mad to get to work...and then complain about their jobs?
Why does anyone take up smoking anymore? I can sort of understand people who are in their 40's or older smoking. I still remember the Marlboro man, and still recall the jingle, "Winston tastes a cigarette should". I can blame Madison Avenue I suppose and justify folks from my age group and above being addicted.

For the life of me, it's a complete mystery why anyone in their 20's smokes. For their entire lives they have known of the proven dangers of smoking. That doesn't even take into the account the cost. When I was a kid cigarettes where 50 cents a pack; I smoked for many years before quitting in my late 20's. Even then I think I was paying less than a dollar a pack. Now the price for cigarettes has to be close to 3 dollars a pack. If you're a pack or two a day smoker there literally are drug habits that are cheaper.

It's expensive. It makes you smell bad. It turns your teeth yellow, and there's a good chance it will kill you.

Yet I still see young adults everywhere smoking.

Amy and I don't go to many bars, but I recall on one occasion being in a bar playing darts and noticing that every single person in the bar, including the waitress and the bartender, were smoking. We were the only non-smokers.

Maybe smoke clouds your brain.

Why do people wait endlessly to get into a parking space that is perhaps 30 feet closer to a store entrance than another spot down the row? I see this all the time. I'll drive into a parking lot and there will be someone patiently waiting for another driver to pull out. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes or more, but they'll wait. To the best of my discernment, these people are not handicapped in any way, and there are open spaces only a few yards away, but still there is something about getting the closest spot. What that is, I don't know.

I've given some people the benefit of the doubt, moms with a passel of young kids, older folks who perhaps don't qualify as handicapped but for whom walking is still a chore. I can even justify it if the weather is really bad, although if it's pouring rain, you're really going to be about as wet if you dash 20 feet to your parking space or 80. More often than not though, the weather is beautiful and I wonder why anyone wouldn't enjoy having a few extra moments in the sun before having to deal with the doldrums of shopping or the looming menace of traffic.

I don't get it, but every time I go to a store, there is always someone waiting...waiting for that special spot.

We all need our space I suppose.


Why do drivers in heavy traffic insist on getting around the car in front of them, when they can see full well that there are a bunch of other cars all packed together only a few yards ahead and this pattern repeats itself over and over and over again for miles?

I've been in a hurry plenty of times in my life...and certainly I've been frustrated in traffic, but this idea that somehow your situation will improve if you can only zip around the guy in front of you seems rather short sighted. These drivers must realize there is another pack of cars right up the road which they'll have to contend with, even if they succeed in bypassing the group that is seemingly frustrating them at the moment.

Maybe they're blind, in which case I suppose I should be happy to concede the right of way.

I'm not talking about getting around the guy who is doing 45 in the fast lane. I'm talking about people who will insist on getting by you, no matter how fast you drive.

I've conducted my own non-scientific studies.
I've driven the speed limit, 5 miles over the speed limit, 10 miles, 15 miles, even 20 miles over the speed limit, and still the car behind me will almost always try to get around me. Oftentimes when they succeed they'll realize how fast they're going and quickly slow down to something within the range of sanity, but not until they have removed the offending view my back bumper.

These days I try to avoid the fast lane altogether because it's apparent you really can't ever go fast enough.

Maybe it's something instinctual - the mentality of the alpha dog in the pack.

I guess one day we all have to learn, no matter how hard you try to get around life, there will always be someone up ahead of you, sticking their tailpipe in your face.

Sunday, April 04, 2004


Thunderstorms are pushing through. Daylight saving time is about to wreak havoc on my already fragile sleep schedule. In addition to having new duties I'm still trying to work into my routine at the office, I have a co-worker taking Monday off, so I'll have to do part of his job. I probably shouldn't spend too much time writing tonight.

I figure that's enough excuses to simply post a couple of pictures of today's service.

Palm Sunday. Each year the littlest kids are given palm branches and prance around the congregation as we sing.

Simple traditions.

Saturday, April 03, 2004


Amy has a certain code phrase she uses on occasion. Actually it's not really code, it's a blunt statement: "Michael, if you do that I will divorce you."

It's not as harsh as it sounds. In fact I'm the one who told her to say it.

She has a standing order to repeat that phrase, at the top of her lungs if need be, anytime I attempt some household chore for which I am obviously unqualified. This means all plumbing jobs, carpentry, car repairs, anything involving power tools or open flames. In truth my household do-it-yourself skills are limited to changing light bulbs...and if the bulbs are halogen I still might require supervision.

Amy was having a rough day today. The home health care nurse came by twice to draw blood. The fatigue of being sick for so long, being hooked up to an IV antibiotic again, still being tethered to a feedbag, etc. had her emotions on edge. She dropped a teacup in the kitchen, shattering it on the floor. There was hot water everywhere, and tears in her eyes.

She decided to simply lie down and try to put this day behind her.

Being the thoughtful, loving husband I am, I decided this would be the perfect time to give myself a haircut.

Amy has cut my hair for the past year or two, usually under protest.

I'm not picky about how it's done. Amy uses the dog shears and lops it off. She does a good job of making it look even all the way around.

She may not like it, but I'm completely satisfied.

I've learned over the years that my hair comes back even faster than my bad habits.

Tonight though, I figured since Amy was feeling lousy, I'd do the hair cutting myself.

How hard could it be?

This plan had some merit when I was dealing with the front of my head. I trimmed a little with the scissors and then pulled out the shears. I cut it a little close on the sides, but I figured that was no big deal. My accuracy improved slightly towards the top of my head, but then the flaw in my thinking became all too apparent.

It didn't take many attempts before I had to admit I don't bend in a manner allowing me to cut the hair on the back of my head. Were this not true perhaps I might have a career in a carnival sideshow somewhere, but alas as I stared in the mirror I realized it was indisputable.

Leering back at me from the mirror was the visage of a man who could easily be mistaken for someone undergoing radiation treatments while still vainly attempting to grow a mullet.

It was frightening.

What's worse is I was forced to stick that same scary looking head out the door and plead for help from Amy who was half dozing on the couch, blissfully unaware of my antics.

Suffice it to say there were some disapproving looks. To put it mildly there were some comments of disbelief and chastisement.

There wasn't much I could do to blunt her criticism. It's not like there are any other potential barbers in the house.

Despite her obvious anger, Amy lopped off the rest of my hair.

As far as I'm concerned it turned out fine; Amy thinks I look like a death row inmate ready to be strapped down and fitted with electrodes.

I really don't think it's that bad, for the first haircut I've ever given myself.

And the last...if I want to avoid divorce court.

Conversation with Tiffany, my eldest stepdaughter, this evening.

Tiffany, "Aren't you thankful you missed out on the really early years with us. Dirty diapers, crying kids in the middle of the night, and all that?"

Me, "In all honesty, oftentimes yes. But truthfully, considering my parenting skills and the way I was back then, you should be just as thankful...if not more so."

Friday, April 02, 2004


Twice a day I give a pill to our special needs dog, Winston. It's an anti-depressant - the generic form of Elavil. We've had him on it for 3 and a half months - a couple of weeks ago, on the vet's advice, we doubled the dose. He's still a loony dog, but in all honesty, Winston does seem happier. He likes to be petted a little more. He doesn't sit still very often, but he will occasionally lie at my feet as I type - as long as I reach down quite often and rub his belly.

He wags his tail all the time, and challenges Amy and me not to smile at him as he hunches down and gives us his own unusual blend of part bark, part howl, tempered by an underlying baseline of something akin to a half hearted guttural growl.

Of course, he still howls at things only he sees and barks at the dark, but what can we expect from generic pharmaceuticals?

Whenever I prepare Winston's pills, Klondike - our aging dog who has the run of the house -saunters into the kitchen. I mean every time I touch that particular pill bottle.

It's literally a Pavlovian thing. Klondike has learned that when I give Winston his pill, I coat the pill in butter in order to avoid an unsightly struggle where I try to shove a pill down Winston's throat. It's a battle which invariably results in me thinking I've won only to spy a soggy pill sitting at Winston's paws as he looks up at me with a countenance of confusion. Then I try again...and again until I finally manage to cram the tiny pill down the tiny dog's pie hole or the pill dissolves in canine saliva and I give up.

I've found the butter approach is much easier and since medicated or not, Winston is a little dim, he thus far hasn't caught on to the devious nature of it. He'll almost always swallow the pill if I coat it in butter.

In Klondike's mind, these are not a medicinal moments. Pills and butter equal treat time! He knows our home adheres to a certain form of socialism when it comes to dog treats. All dogs get whatever the others get...sans the pill.

It's amazing how acute Klondike's sense of hearing is, he can distinguish when I've touched that one particular pill bottle. I don't lead that exciting of a life, so I've tested him repeatedly. During my Lenten fast I've thought it prudent to take several vitamins each morning - Klondike never budges when I touch those pill bottles. I've gone so far as to try to find pill bottles of Amy's that are similar in size and content to Winston's and shake them. Klondike doesn't even perk up an ear.

But as soon as I touch Winston's pill bottle, Klondike heads to the kitchen. He's even heard me from outside the house, and quickly come over to sliding glass doors to peer through the dog snot and scratch marks while knowingly wagging his tail in anticipation.

The pills may be intended to improve the functioning of Winston's pea sized brain, but Klondike wants to make sure I also remember to butter a finger for him..

I'm nearly deaf in one ear thanks to a repeatedly blown eardrum. Even without that small impairment, I could never hear as well as Klondike.

Whenever I go through this ritual with the dogs though I try to remember how important it is to keep my ears, my mind and my heart open - for when I do, I too receive treats...for my spirit ...for my soul.

Proverbs 23:19

Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.

Thursday, April 01, 2004


Being in radio, I've witnessed a number of attempts at broadcast April Fools day jokes. Most of the time, although some folks fell for them, I thought the jokes themselves were fairly lame.

None certainly compares with what I, and many others, consider to be the greatest broadcast April fools day joke of all time - The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.

It was done in 1957 (the year I was born, but we needn't dwell on that coincidence) by the BBC.

If you have Real Player on your computer you can actually watch the broadcast via this site.

P.S. Happy Birthday Lisa Davis! You've been a major blessing to your sister and to me...and that's no joke!