Monday, May 31, 2004

Just Say Huh?

One of the interesting things about the new blogger templates is the profile section which keeps running stats. It says since I started writing this blog I've written 138,229 words.

That's the equivalent of a couple of fairly good sized novels....or the forward to a Tom Clancy book.
Has anyone else had it with the TV commercials for drugs that don't tell you what ailment they're used to treat? There's a reason for that. If the commercial mentions an actual disease, disorder, or dysfunction, the ads must also tell you the side effects. The ads that don't tell you what the drug is for are not required to tell you that it might result in cloven hoof syndrome or whatever. They can simply show you pretty pictures of happy people running through fields of daisies while the announcer urges you to"ask your doctor if profitmarginalis is for you."
Gee now I'm up to 138, 399 words.


Sorry I wanted to round it off...ack, now I blew that. This could be addictive.

I wonder if there's drug for this form of inanity.

If so, do you suppose there are side effects?

I Hear Lakeside Calling...

The official countdown has started. I realized it this morning as I got in my daily walk when the temperature was 80 and the humidity was at 94 was 8 a.m.

I'm ready for vacation.

In 30 days or so we'll pack up for a little time on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. Today the high temperature in Lakeside is 75 degrees.

Let us pray.

Time Is For The Birds

Our annual ritual of spring/summer is about to complete its first cycle...the first batch of barn swallow nestlings are about to crowd themselves out of their home and into independence.

It always amazes me how quickly these birds mature. Only a week or so ago, Amy and I were remarking on how we noticed the eggs had hatched.

Time week I expect these little birds to do the same.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Don't Blog Over Spilt Tea

As our kids grew up I attended innumerable events in which they were featured - band concerts, plays, half time shows, awards ceremonies, graduations, etc. For many years I took our video camera to every one of those events and spent the evening watching everything that transpired through the lens of the camera.

It took far too many years before I realized I rarely, if ever, went back and watched those video tapes. Once I had that revelation, I stopped bringing the video camera to events. I opted instead to cherish those happenings as they occurred. I held onto memories instead of Memorex.

My friend John and I had the discussion recently, and in fact it ended up on his blog, that one of the hazards of writing every day is that you can find yourself constantly on the lookout for blog fodder, stuff to write about.

Comparing blog fodder to those video moments is perhaps unfair. When it comes to blog material, the incident, event, or oddity has already been experienced. The decision is whether you write about it, or as is the case when you have several fellow bloggers experiencing it together, who is going to write about it first.

That's been a recurring theme between myself and Gordon, our Pastor and dear friend. Since until recently Gordon's blog identity was secret it became something of an unwritten rule that should we share an experience worthy of our blogs, one of us would have to choose. It's only happened a time or two where something notable, humorous, or bizarre occurred and one of us has turned to the other and said, "Are you going to blog about this or am I?"

Today something similar happened, with a slightly different twist.

Our church service today was meaningful, and moving. I don't want that to get lost in this story. Our community of believers held each other tight, and shared our struggles.

The beginning of our service in particular was very hard.

Our friend, Barbara, is dying. Gordon announced that Barbara is now hospitalized. The sudden and rapid decline of her health has been very difficult on our entire congregation. It's been especially rough for Amy who feels that, due to her own health problems, she has not had an opportunity to be there for Barbara.

Today we prayed for peace for Barbara and for God to somehow grant us the ability to accept His apparent will.

Amy wept.

I asked for prayers of strength and healing for Amy and our good friend Cynthia held Amy close.

I shut my eyes holding back tears.

Gordon prayed aloud and walked over to where Amy and I sat to lay his hands upon us.

Unfortunately my giant mug of sweet tea was in the aisle at my feet and when Gordon came to us, his foot hit the mug and a measure of tea reminiscent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill gurgled out onto the floor of the sanctuary.

It was no big deal, most of the church members didn't notice, and those who did didn't care.

Our small community of faith is quite used to messy church...personally I think that's how church is supposed to be.

To his credit, Gordon didn't miss a beat. He kept reaching toward Amy and prepared to deliver more deep and heartfelt words of prayer.

However, he did take one brief moment to give me a quick glance and jokingly whisper, "Don't blog about this."

It made me smile and despite her tears I saw a slight smirk from Amy.

Honestly, I'm not sure I could have asked for a more immediate answer to prayer.

Today is Pentecost Sunday.

Gordon's sermon message was clear: We don't have to have all the answers. In fact, maybe the answer is that we shouldn't expect to have the answers at all. Instead we should be open to the Holy Spirit, and trust in the mysterious ways and works of God.

I certainly don't have the answers, but today I believe God worked through a shared smile and spilt tea.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people
- Acts 2:17

The Heat is On

I've been unbending in my pledge to walk every day, which I started on Ash Wednesday. For much of that time, I have been blessed by weather atypical for South Texas. I think we've hit 90 degrees only once or twice so far this season and temperatures were moderate all Spring.

The good times are over now.

The heat, and what's worse, the humidity, have set in. I'm still going walking this morning ....presumably as soon as I stop trying to bolster my enthusiasm by writing here...

Okay...okay...I'm going.

Stop nagging.

Sorry sometimes I talk to myself.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

A Ball with Dad

I was never much of a baseball player....for that matter I never really excelled at any sport. This was, I suppose, a little disappointing to my father who like many fathers had that thought in the back of his mind of his son becoming really great at some competitive game. My middle brother was good at sports, but I wasn't...ever. It was a reality that I think became apparent to me before my father finally acknowledged it.

I did play little league baseball for a couple of years, but I was terrible. I didn't care who won. I found the game slow and boring. Worse yet, I was afraid of the ball. I never got past the idea that there was the potential to get hit with a really hard object whether you were at bat, or on the field.

I was almost always relegated to "left out" when it came to assigning positions, and I could usually think of other things I'd rather be doing. Often those thoughts came to me as I stood in the outfield kicking at the blades grass with my KEDS high top sneakers at about the same time as a fly ball was passing over my head.

I remember my father yelling from the grandstands urging me not necessarily to catch the ball....he only wanted me to see the ball. We both had rather limited expectations.

During my last year in little league, my father had a brainstorm. He told me every time I got on base he would take me to Carvel. They don't have Carvel ice cream in South Texas, but in New York in the 1960's it was a big thing. It was, to my knowledge, the only place that served soft ice cream.

To my Dad this seemed like a brilliant plan. It certainly inspired me immediately. I now had a reason to play. I still didn't care about the score, or the game...but I sure did love Carvel ice cream.

Although I really didn't care about baseball, I understood it. I also understood that Little League was not exactly baseball at its finest. The pitchers couldn't pitch, and the home plate umpire was usually some other kids dad.

The problem was that despite the lure of Carvel ice cream, I was still frightened by the prospect of getting beaned by some 9 year old throwing a hard object directly at me. My usual approach was to swing away, often with my eyes closed, and strike out quickly. Then I would trudge to the bench dejectedly and wait to be sent back to left field oblivion.

However after my Dad made his offer I realized striking out was against my best interests. I also knew getting an actual hit was highly unlikely.

I sure did love Carvel ice cream though, so in my mind this left only one option: get a walk.

Since I knew the pitchers couldn't actually pitch, I decided to force them to try. If they were going to strike me out, it was going to be without any help from me. I didn't swing my bat....ever. If an umpire appeared to be calling strikes, I would crowd the plate and, with great flair, jerk away at the last second as if I were convinced the ball was about to hit me. Then I would stare at the umpire to let him know how close I had come to death right in front him.

It worked.

It worked a lot.

That year I got more walks than any other player on our team or for that matter in our league. My Dad lost count of how many trips to Carvel he owed me, and so did I. The ice cream didn't matter any more. The story was far more flavorful. My father never signed me up for Little League again, but he enjoyed telling his friends about my last season when I got on base more than anyone else.

That story came back to me today after hearing about the wonderful events that unfolded yesterday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It's a tale that you've got to love, even if you're like me, and don't really love baseball.

In the bottom of the ninth inning of their game against the Chicago Cubs, the Pirates and Cubbies were tied at 5. Rob Mackowiak came to the plate with bases loaded and hit a grand slam. Pirates win 9 to 5.

That was the first game of a double header.

In the nightcap, again in the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates were losing 3 to 1. Mackowiak, who had hit 8 home runs this season prior to last night, stepped to the plate and hit a two run homer. That tied the game and forced it into extra innings. In the tenth, the Pirates won.

That in itself is a good story, but what makes it better is that at around 11 o'clock yesterday morning, Jennifer Mackowiak, gave birth to Gareth Matthew Mackowiak - Rob Mackowiak's first child....a son.

Whether Gareth becomes a great ball player is anybody's guess, but I know he and his Dad are going to have a great story to tell.

Who knows, maybe they'll share it over ice cream.

Purple Flutterby

One of my nieces in Oklahoma, and my most dedicated reader, has caught the bug.

Sarai has started her own blog The Purple Flutterby

See what happens when you run out of Left Behind books to read?

You're going to do great Sarai....see you soon!!!

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Book of Jack

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. - Mark 10:25

I don't know Jack, but I keep tabs on him....Jack Whittaker that is.

You might not remember him, but you probably have heard of Jack Whittaker. Jack is from West Virginia and on Christmas day 2002 he won the largest single lottery jackpot in U.S. history - a Powerball jackpot worth 315 million dollars. He actually took home about a third of that amount, roughly 113 million dollars.

When he won, Jack immediately said 10 percent of the money was going to three preachers. He's lived up to that pledge and more. To his credit, he set up a nonprofit organization to help West Virginians find jobs, buy food and pay education costs. He funded it with 14 million dollars. His money is being used to build at least two churches as well as housing for senior citizens.

That's part of what makes Jack so interesting to me. He has this obvious sense that he needs to give back - to give thanks for his good fortune.

Jack also gives a good chunk of his vast wad of cash to lawyers, thieves, racehorses, and strippers.

He nearly lost about half million dollars when someone stole a briefcase from his car outside the "Pink Pony" strip bar in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. Eventually the briefcase, with the half million dollars in cash still inside, was recovered. A couple of bar employees are accused of drugging his drinks and trying to rip him off when they realized he had all that his car. Lesser temptations have brought down bigger men I suppose.

Jack has actually been robbed at least three times since he got lucky and struck it rich. He's also been busted for drunk driving and he's been arrested for threatening to kill the manager of a bar - not the "Pink Pony".

This month he was sued by a couple of guys who claim they were injured when they were tossed out of yet another bar and landed on their rumps in the parking lot. The suit claims Jack, who I'm guessing was probably the only multi-millionaire in that particular West Virginia bar that night and quite possibly the only multi-millionaire in any West Virginia bar, had ordered them thrown out.

Last January, Jack used his foundation to team up with Wal-Mart, and Feed the Children. They started giving food and clothes to poor kids...$64,000 worth of food and clothing...a month.

In March of last year Jack was sued by a woman who works at a horse racing track. She claims he tried to force her head into what some might consider a sexual position while pinching another woman's rear and snapping a third woman's bra strap.

Ironically, the first name of the woman who filed that suit is Charity.

You have to admit that the story of Jack Whittaker reads like a modern day parable. I must also admit that I see myself in his story more than I would like.

How often have I dreamed of winning the lottery or thought that everything uncomfortable in my life could be eradicated with enough money?

Worse yet, how often have I prayed along those lines?

I don't know Jack.

Thank God I know grace.

You cannot serve both God and money. - Luke 16:13

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Technically Nonsense

My friend Harlan sent me this article.

I love the term "surfer's voice". I've had those conversations, occasionally with folks who didn't even have Internet access....they surf unplugged in a sea of gray matter all their own...mercifully.

Anyway, the article got me thinking about when we reach our individual technological limits, not in understanding technology, but in needing it.

For instance, my company provides me with a mobile phone. It's a very cool phone. It has two way radio capabilities which I find handy at times. It also has Internet access. I'm tied to the Internet more than most folks, but for the life of me I can't see any reason why I need to be able to surf the web on my phone. Not only is it incredibly slow, but it's a tiny little screen. It's technology I don't need.

I'm the same with instant messaging. Our kids love it...I hate it. Maybe it's a generational thing.

Personally, I can't help but think of the guy who invented instant messaging rushing in to tell his bosses about it, "Look! I've find a new way to interrupt people!"

Recently, Microsoft sent me one of their new Spot (Smart Personal Object Technology) watches to try. It's a Dick Tracy watch from Fossil.

This is not a toy. It's a 200 dollar watch....with Dick Tracy's image all over it. Really. Dick Tracy...a name virtually synonymous with cutting edge technology...or at least it was in 1956.

The idea behind Spot watches is that information is beamed to your wrist. You subscribe to various MSN channels which provide limited news and sports items, along with delayed stock quotes and stuff you really can't live without, like your horoscope and lotto numbers. In other words, information that is virtually impossible to find unless you're lucky enough to live in a country where TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet are available.

The real plus of the Spot watch though is the fashion statement it makes. Wearing what is quite possibly the biggest, most uncomfortable watch in the world - with Dick Tracy's face on it - opens doors to conversations heretofore unimagined. Most begin with probing questions like, "Is that a Yugo on your wrist or an AMC Pacer?" Or "Wouldn't having GEEK tattooed on your forehead be cheaper?"

Seriously, I really, really want to like this watch. It has everything I look for in a new was free and no one else has one.

But there's nothing to like. The information is not real time. The coverage area is extremely limited, and it's literally comical to wear.

I've worn it for almost two weeks now and I think the only thing I've really gained from it is a slightly larger bicep.

If I keep wearing it I'm going to look like Popeye...with a Dick Tracy watch.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Well, Your Children Teach

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well...*

Apparently our world was destined to be turned upside down today.

First, my quiet little corner of blogdom experienced an influx of collateral curiosity, and then we were given the chance to cherish a child from a new perspective.

The excitement of my friend unburdening himself of his Real Live Preacher pseudonym today is wonderful, but in truth the most exhilarating event of the day happened in a tiny eighth grade math classroom in Kerrville.

To watch my stepdaughter teach - to caringly cajole - to command respect...that was a watershed moment.

Amy and I sat quietly in the hardwood sadist designed classroom desk chairs which claim to inspire concentration, but we repeatedly traded glances betraying our mutual amazement.


Our child is a Real Live Teacher.....and we both still don't understand algebra.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well...

* Teach Your Children- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Pepe and the Preacher

I knew this day was coming, but I didn't know it would be today. Unfortunately, my bride and I are traveling up the road in a moment to see one of the kids so I don't have much time to write.

One of my dearest friends is a soon-to-be-published author, and also a rather well known blogger. He is coincidentally my Pastor.

I stumbled across his blog shortly after starting mine, but since he was writing anonymously I've kept from acknowledging his wisdom here.

Now, his book is about to be published and he's casting aside that cloak of concealment.

This means some folks are finding my blog through his today.

I have only time to bid you welcome. I hope you visit often.

There will always be room for additional wanderers in this unique community.

Baby I'm Amazed

I'm always amazed when I see really large families. Invariably the kids seem well behaved, there is a sense of order often not present in other families, and oftentimes the kids are home schooled by their moms.

This story
is another example.

15 kids, and Mom is under 40. There's a lesson in the power of familial love here. A lesson more us might ought to study up on.

If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Eyes Have It

My stepson Joey is an artist. He is talented in many forms of art, but for the past few years while he goes deep into debt at a fancy art school, he's been making his rent and rattin' around money drawing caricatures. He drew the caricature of me in my profile section. He is quite good at it.

When Joey decides to, he can see people with different eyes than the rest of us. Sometimes he sees their flaws; sometimes he sees features that blare beauty, sometimes he seems to be able see people's inner beings and desires.

He is blessed with the eyes of an artist.

I had lunch with my brother Stan this week. Although I love him dearly we differ in many of our viewpoints of the world. Stan is a vehement unapologetic liberal and that's probably understating it. I referred to him as a socialist the other day and he said he was probably closer to a communist. I think he was only half kidding.

Stan sees the world far differently than I do. He sometimes sees a lot of organized cruelty and greed. He has a huge heart and sees great unfulfilled needs but he also sees a lot of people to blame.

Perhaps his are the eyes of an idealist.

Amy's brother Mike loves to delve into the inner workings of almost everything. He seeks understanding and knowledge. He has curious, inquisitive eyes.

His might be described occasionally as the eyes of pragmatist.

My friend Gordon can look at the sky for hours on end. He will marvel at the great wonders of creation, yet occasionally his vision is consumed by what he can't see.

These are the eyes of a stargazer.

I, on the other hand, often see the world in black and white. I rarely see conspiracies. I don't look to the stars very often or try to see the inner workings of things. I do at times consider myself observant and rational.

I suppose I have the eyes of a realist.

It would be easy to take these varied perspectives and paint thick impenetrable boundaries around them -lines of demarcation -dividing us from each other.

But that's not the case. I need only to remember to gaze through the eyes of another artist.

From the viewpoint of Christ the differences in our outlooks are relatively minor.

A vista void of distortion.

For he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens - Job 28:24

On a Roll

At 2 a.m. pictures like this make my day...

Photo credit: Joe Skymba - Kerrville Daily Times.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Speed Blogging

No real time to write today. I am taking Amy to meet with her surgeon for our every couple of week, "Hey my wife is still in pain and you're still rich....this doesn't seem fair" appointment. Amy says she feels worse than she did for our last appointment, and that one landed her in the hospital, but I'm going to stay positive.

I woke up late thanks to setting my alarms 12 hours ahead, or behind depending on whether your a glass half full or glass half empty type. It almost threw off my morning but I managed to work around it until the corporate Internet system went down. As of this writing it's still down. If it stays that way, tomorrow morning will be a challenge...but what reason do I have to believe our corporate I.T. guys won't rise to the occasion? Don't answer that....I'm trying to keep my glass half full.

On a totally different subject, I've been thinking a lot lately about how we often allow little things to create vast differences among us. I plan to write about that as soon as I can sort it out in my mind - yeah, don't hold your breath. The thoughts were sparked by an unexpected email from the sister of another blogger, and from a blogger who -gasp- asked me a theological question.

I feel almost obligated to write on the subject if someone has gotten so far down on their list that they've stooped to asking me theological questions...I mean who would she ask next?

Don't answer that either... remember the glass.

Anyway, I need to write fast and get going. We have a couple of stops to make before the surgeon's office, one of which is the bank to deposit the check from the guy who ran into my car. I'm not going to get my car fixed. I'm going to enjoy looking at that dent, especially for the next couple of months. It's going to remind me of our upcoming vacation, because that guy's check is going to pay for it.

I'm a far cry from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm but I'm sticking with this looking at the bright side thing for a it half glass thinking.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Blessings of a Curse

I remember it vividly. Amy and I had been married about a year and we decided we had to buy a home. Living in the rental hovel was fine when I was single, but with four new family members, three of whom were actually growing as evidenced by the fact that I was running out to buy new shoes every few weeks, a two bedroom one bath house wasn't going to cut it.

One night, we were driving around looking at houses crammed into Amy's horrible smelling, smoke belching, tiny red Mitsubishi Précis which was actually a Hyundai - oh, that wacky Korean sense of humor. The kids were small, and all three were squeezed into the area we laughably referred to as the back seat. As usual they were paying no attention whatsoever to what Amy and I were saying, much less to what we were doing. They were talking, laughing, squirming amongst themselves, oblivious to anything else although they occasionally commented on how bad the car smelled.

I had known our children for about two years, and had accepted the fact they were going to ignore me. In truth, they started tuning me out almost as soon as they met me - even as little boogers they were bright.

I didn't take it personally; I figured I'd grow on them eventually...sort of like mold.

Anyway, Amy decided she wanted a diet coke; as she is want to do 3 to 8 minutes into any car trip even if we have a full cooler of drinks in the car. She wanted a fountain drink with the right type of ice, so I pulled into a convenience store/gas station. As we drove through the parking lot though, I noticed a commotion of some sort going on inside the store.

That's when it happened.

I said to Amy, "What the Hell is going on here?"

To this day, I don't know the answer to that question.

That's because it was met with a stark sudden silence usually reserved to follow statements like, "I saw you, you know" or " Would you like to rethink that answer before I call the state's other witness?"

The noisy atmosphere of the car was sucked away instantly. It happened so fast, it quite literally scared me. I thought I had missed a gunshot or a sudden display of nudity. I started looking around in confusion, only to be met by six very wide eyes and three small, yet gaping mouths in the back seat.

Then it dawned on me.

The kids had heard me say, "Hell."

At this point I should mention that until I met Amy and the kids I cussed like a banshee and never gave it a second thought. I work among people who can easily compete with any sailor when it comes to spewing profanity and I could probably have held my own with the best of them. However I also am cognizant of the fact that there are times when such language is ill advised. When I realized I was going to be a stepfather I worked very hard to shield the children from that side of my vocabulary. I didn't simply hide it; I fought to break myself of the habit. For the most part I succeeded. I didn't cuss at home or at work....although admittedly I did a bit of backsliding amid the traffic jams in between....still do.

I ended up quickly apologizing to the kids, explaining that I didn't normally talk that way, and being the wonderful children they were then - and despite my influence they remain to this day - they quickly forgave me and went back to doing what they do best...ignoring me.

But I'll never forget that night. It was momentous.

It was wonderful.

On a scale of one to ten, "hell" is maybe a one in terms of curse words. In truth, even though they were still very young, all of the kids had heard such language before either in school, in movies, or on TV.

The difference that night was they heard the word coming out of my mouth.

And that's why I'll always cherish the moment.

It was then I knew they held me to a different standard...the higher standard of a parent.

Hell, I was in Heaven.

Friday, May 21, 2004


I have an idea for spending our tax dollars. Hey, they spend our money on all sorts of silliness already why shouldn't I get to contribute a suggestion or two?

I propose the city build "Nap stations" at points along the freeway. I'm not talking about highway rest stops populated by idling diesel rigs and people who aren't bothered by the term "unsanitary". I want spots where, on sunny days, you could pull over your car, crawl onto a soft spot of ground and take a nap.

It seems like every day on the way home from work I am at my sleepiest and if I weren't driving I could get in a really good of those, "Oh man, THAT was a great nap!" naps. You know, like when you unintentionally slip off to slumber on the couch and wake up energized and refreshed. I can feel a nap like that coming on in the warmth of my car almost every day, but I of course have to resist the urge since if I dozed off while driving it would slow down traffic and the maniacs on the freeway would panic, honk, and assail me with various hand gestures...even more than they usually do. Invariably by the time I get home each day, the nap urge fades...I'm no longer in the zone

If we had public nap stations though, I wouldn't have to miss out on those perfect mid morning nap opportunities when the sun is ideal, and the day has not yet warmed into a level of discomfort.

It seems like a plausible idea to me.

I think I'll sleep on it.

Oh Baby!

Cute kid.

BIG kid

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Dulled Senses

I put a new blade on our lawnmower a week or two ago. That may not seem like much of a feat for the average human, but anytime I attempt a home repair project and actually succeed I believe it should be noted, if not celebrated.

The old blade had become worn and battered from my frequent use of it on our church property which grows rocks at a slightly faster rate than it grows grass. I still used the mower even though it was highly inefficient. I only gave in and bought a new blade when I realized that I actually had to pull the mower backwards to get it to cut grass because pushing it forward was useless.

I'll admit the simple job of replacing the blade stumped me for a while, which speaks volumes as to my mechanical skills. Yet, I did eventually complete the process without having to call someone "handy" or use an inordinate amount of profanity.

Overwhelmed by my success, I immediately began to mow our yard and was stunned at how well the mower worked.

I'm fairly diligent about tending to the church property yet working in my own lawn provokes a certain sense of laggardness to say the least. We've lost dogs in our back yard.

The grass had grown tall and thick. It was still wet with dew when, emboldened by my mower blade replacement victory, I marched out into the yard and fired up the machinery.

It was amazing. I had forgotten what it felt like to use a piece of equipment that actually functions properly. The mower didn't sputter or stall, it steamed through the thick wet grass like Marlon Brando at a Las Vegas buffet.

It performed perfectly....and it also reminded me of my own imperfections.

How silly had I been? A new mower blade costs about 8 bucks and I'd proven that even I am capable of replacing one. Yet I had spent weeks and weeks forcing that mower along, going over the same ground repeatedly because it invariably left some grass uncut, and all the while I complained about how poorly the mower worked. I never gave a thought to how lazy I was being.

I wish I could say it was only the lawnmower that drove home that point, but alas that's not the case.

Another glaring example of this character flaw was brought to my attention this afternoon, ironically by our vacuum cleaner.

I was doing some house cleaning and got out the vacuum. As I was sucking up enough dog hair to weave a poodle I pushed the vacuum over a small piece of string. The string didn't budge. I tried again - no luck. I tried once more, then another time...then again and again....

I'm ashamed to think how many times I tried to vacuum up that tiny piece of string before I finally bent down and picked it up by hand.

Appliances and lawn equipment not included, how often do I do this exact same thing in other areas of my life?

I've certainly allowed some relationships to become dulled or damaged simply due to a lack of effort on my part, and I'm equally guilty of putting too much effort into inconsequential things out of sense of stubbornness.

I hope I remember this lesson.

I want to come away from this with more than grass clippings and dog hair.

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. - Proverbs 9:9

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A Long Walk for a Short Post

I came home from work today with every intention of going out and walking while it was still cool, or at least before it became too hot.

Then I fell asleep.

I got up from my nap with every intention of going out walking....then I started reading peoples blog postings and some very pleasant emails.

I was about to get up from the computer and go walking moments I'm writing about it.

Yeah...this is procrastination.

Okay....I'm getting off my lazy rear now.


Any second now....

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Reflective Perspective

On the cluttered bulletin board above my desk at work is a weathered cartoon which I cut out from The Funny Times 10 or 11 years ago. It shows a little chicken walking by muttering, "The sky is not falling...the sky is not falling". The caption reads: "Chicken Little when he remembers to take his medication."

At the time I cut out that comic, I was working with a man who was struggling with mental illness. I was concerned for him, and concerned by him. Some days he was the best newsman I've ever known, other days he was manic, obsessive, oft times mean, and occasionally incoherent. He banged between the extremes, never finding a comfortable resting place in his own mind.

I was thinking about that cartoon today as I kicked around the idea of perspective.

I'm actually pretty good at keeping things in perspective. Long ago I adopted Main's primary rule for mental health- Don't make the minor monumental.

That's it. I believe in short rules, they're easier to remember.

The national average price for gasoline this week topped two dollars per gallon...for the cheap stuff, not the special high grade gasoline which I've personally always suspected was the same as the other grades, but I'll save that thought for when I write about suspicion and conspiracy theories.

Certainly, at first blush, such prices are outrageous. I have literally seen people fuming as they fill up their giant SUV's. By the way, did you know many gas pumps turn off when you reach the 50 dollar mark? You have to do two transactions to fill some of those giant gas tanks these days. That'll make folks fume even more.

In 1950, long before I was born, the average price for gasoline was 27 cents a gallon.

I remember when I drove an old clunker car as a teenager in the 1970's, as opposed to the old clunker car I drive today, a neighbor spotted me chugging up a hill with the car in obvious distress. She shouted, "Put another nickel in!" I had to stop and ask her what she meant, and she told me that was a popular saying way back when, a reference to putting in five cents worth of gasoline. Five cents worth of gas wouldn't go far today....unless you put it in perspective.

I checked with the math experts on this, so you don't have to take my word for it, but when you factor in inflation, 27 cents in 1950 dollars equals about $2.07 in 2004 dollars. So, in essence, we are paying the same for gasoline today in our country as we did 54 years ago.

In fact, in 1980 when this country was in the midst of its first real gas crisis, prices rose to a national average of $1.25 a gallon. We were outraged but we survived.

Factor in inflation...$1.25 in 1980 would be about $2.80 today.

Perspective...sometimes it helps keep the minor from becoming monumental.

Of course if that doesn't work for you...there's always medication.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Keeping Cynicism In Check

"The check is in the mail."
They say that is one of most oft repeated lies.

The guy we collided with the other day called this afternoon. Since I was blissfully wrestling Morpheus at the time, he initially spoke with Amy. She told him I would call when I woke up but told me he was very polite with her.

That put me at ease when I called, and I was further relieved by his extremely gentle and apologetic demeanor during our conversation. Gone completely was the somewhat antagonist tone from the other day. Although he was still mystified about the accident, he no longer was disputing any aspect of what happened. He wasn't denying anything or fumbling for excuses.

He agreed without hesitation to pay all charges associated with repairing our car. In fact, he's paying a little more than the lowest estimate I received.

I have to admit, I was anticipating the worst. I envisioned him being dissatisfied with my choice of repair shops, the seemingly high cost of the repairs, etc...

That wasn't the case. He did admit to being a little stunned by the price, but he didn't dispute it at all.

He also went out of his way to apologize if he seemed gruff or rude at the time of the accident. I accepted his apology readily. I certainly understand how everyone is a little on edge at times such as that.

I am so thankful that this is not something that is going to linger and that we won't have to spend time pursuing payment. No one wants to add stress to their lives, and I'm foremost among them.

Getting this situation resolved without conflict and with expediency is wonderful, but I'm perhaps more appreciative of the life lesson in all this - I am too often ready to expect the worst from people.

I need to be more willing to see the's certainly as readily apparent.

Our conversation ended with him literally saying, "The check is in the mail" and I have no reason to doubt him.

The psalmist says it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Certainly that is true, but it's also nice to be reminded that there are still men you can trust too.

A Little Ding Will Do Ya

I went and got estimates today on the damage to my car caused by the gentleman in denial last week. The totals were a lot higher than I expected, around a thousand dollars. It will be interesting to see his reaction. I don't think I'll start spending the money yet.

I emailed him today. I'm expecting I'll have to follow up with a phone call tomorrow.

We'll see how the story unfolds.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Seasoned Reasoning

Sigh...the Spurs couldn't hit a shot and so ends their season. My little community of Spurs fanatics has already come to the rationalization that the team did better than we should probably have expected after adding so many new players.

In truth there is only one thing that can be said...."How bout 'dem Cowboys!"

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Nature has been producing thunderstorms recently in our little neck of the woods. On several mornings in the past week I drove to work in the middle of storms and I noticed lightning flashes.

On the highways, entrenched in the glare of the city, these flashes are dulled. They are intriguing but not necessarily illuminating.

It's on the smaller roads, before I get to the main thoroughfares that these startling bursts of energy seem to briefly reveal a different world - a sudden unexpected viewpoint. Sometimes the imagery lingers even after my eyes have readjusted but most of the time I give those visions of the world a passing thought and nothing more.

Occasionally something similar happens with people. In unguarded moments I see someone from a different vantage point. Often this is wondrous and I revel in the recognition of heretofore unnoticed qualities and try to appreciate them.

There are occasions however when such flashes appear to reveal people's true motives or character. On those occasions I often turn away, close my eyes, and hope to forget.

I wish I was always able to succeed at that...sometimes I fail.

I mention this only because it's on my mind, and this is where stuff that's on my mind spills out.

We have some friends with whom we've shared some very hard times. During Amy's health struggles she has reached out to these folks only to be ignored. We found it curious but remained persistent. Last week we finally made contact.

During the course of a fairly superficial conversation it slipped out that these friends were angry about a business deal. The deal didn't really involve us, except that we knew the other party. Yet, I suddenly realized it was because of that business relationship that these friends chose to ignore Amy, when Amy needed them most.

When the conversation was over, I held my tongue, but soon I realized Amy had made the connection too.

It was like a lightning flash. We both saw it.

We can't help but see these friends in a new light, and it's not flattering.

It will take a while, but we will work to forgive them...and eventually we will.

Thank God we've seen that light too.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Life Could Be Worse

The Spurs may have lost a heartbreaker last night, but then I wake up to this story and am reminded that life could always be worse.


Apparently the story link was removed. Here's the piece from a newspaper in Utah:

MIDVALE, Utah — After a lot of red tape, Briana Lane has her skull back in one piece. The 22-year-old woman was injured in an auto accident in January, and doctors temporarily removed nearly half her skull to save her life.

But for nearly four months afterward, the piece of bone lay in a hospital freezer across town — and Lane had to wear a plastic street hockey helmet — because of a standoff with Medicaid and the hospital over who would cover the surgery to make her whole again.

The surgery finally came through after an excruciating wait, during which she suffered extreme pain just bending down and would wake up in the morning to find that her brain had shifted to one side during the night.

"When you think of weird things happening to people you don't think of that," Lane said. "It's like taking out someone's heart — you need that!"

Sonya Schwartz, a health policy analyst for Families USA, a consumer health care group, said insurance horror stories happen every day. But "this particular story is outlandish."

On Jan. 10, Lane's car rolled over on an icy canyon road above Salt Lake City. Lane, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown through the windshield. (She was later charged with driving under the influence and not having a driver's license.)

Doctors at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City removed the left side of her skull to treat bleeding on her brain. Lane's doctor originally scheduled the replacement surgery for mid-March, a month after her release from the hospital, said her mother, Margaret McKinney, a nurse who works in another division of the medical center.

But the operation was canceled the night before because the hospital was waiting to see whether Medicaid would cover it — a process that can take at least 90 days.

Lane, a waitress with no insurance, was sent home from the hospital with a big dent in her head where the bone had been removed but the scalp had been sewn back into place. She stayed at home, able to walk around but not go to work, and had to wear the helmet during the day.

During the wait for a decision from Medicaid, the hospital could have declared an emergency, moved ahead with the surgery, and figured out afterward who would pay — the hospital, Medicaid, or the patient. But the hospital did not do so.

Lane's mother said that she argued with the hospital: "We just want what you've taken away. Can you just give us back the skull and we'll go on with our lives?"

After months of delay, Lane contacted a local TV station, a move she believes hastened the surgery. "All of a sudden — top of the list!" she said. The operation took place April 30.

Exactly what broke the impasse is unclear.

The operation took place after Lane's mother's insurance decided to cover the surgery, as well as her nearly $200,000 in medical bills.

But hospital spokeswoman Anne Brillinger, while refusing to comment on certain specifics of Lane's case because of federal privacy rules, said the medical center decided to go forward with the surgery before it learned the insurance would pay.

Utah's Medicaid program has yet to decide whether Lane qualifies.

Robert Knudson, director of eligibility services at the Utah Health Department, which oversees Medicaid, said the agency has not yet seen enough evidence to decide whether her injuries entitle her to benefits under the law.

He would not comment on whether her four-month wait was unreasonable. But he said the decision over how fast Lane should have gotten treatment was up to the doctors, not Medicaid. "We only pay the bills," he said.

A neurosurgeon at Indianapolis' St. Vincent Hospital, Ronald Young, said such surgery would not be considered an emergency, but is typically performed within three to four weeks — the swelling has to go down first — because the risks to the patient are high.

"There's no reason not to replace that as soon as you can," Young said. "I don't like to have people who are walking not have their skull."

He added: "For a person who is walking, who is ambulatory, to not have their skull is a problem because you get a lot of brain shift. A simple fall, hitting her head or something could be horrendous."

Today, Lane's close-cropped hair barely covers the long curved scar on her scalp. The blackouts and dizziness are happening less often, and simple tasks are no longer excruciatingly painful.

But she said the experience has left her a little more cynical about the health care system.

"Just because they don't have money doesn't mean they should be treated differently from anyone else," she said. "I'm a good person. I just happen to be not as rich as some of them."


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Fear Ye Fear Ye!

Fear is a tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack, more potent than the snake.- Edgar Wallace

Fear is such an interesting thing. Recently, Amy has developed a real fear of driving. She knows it's irrational, but she can't help it. For whatever reason, she is hyper aware of the traffic around us and every car ride is somewhat frightening for her.

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow. - Swedish proverb

In recent weeks I've repeatedly tried to reassure her by asking, "In all the time I've known you have I ever been in an accident with you in the car?" She and I both know the answer - no.

That changed this afternoon.

Lisa and I picked up Amy from the hospital and being acutely aware that Amy's fear of driving is very real, not to mention that it was raining, I was as cautious as I could possibly be. As we headed down a crowded roadway, a guy driving a huge SUV apparently decided he didn't want to be in the line of traffic so he pulled in front of our car as we approached less than 20 feet away. I hit the brakes but there was no hope. I clipped him, while mercifully avoiding another vehicle in the turn lane to our left.

No one was hurt. We pulled into a parking lot and I expected it would be a relatively routine exchange of information. There was no doubt the other driver was at least so I thought.

This guy had the audacity to deny even being in an accident! He said he pulled over only because he thought I had hit another car!

I stared at him wordlessly.

Then he said, "You must have been flying down the road!"
I not so gently informed him that he was indeed in an accident and my car doesn't fly. I pointed to my now quivering wife still bandaged from her hospital stay, and said, "We left the hospital 2 minutes ago, and we are in no hurry to go back there believe me."

Then he said, "Well, I was clearly established in the lane, so it's not my fault."

I really had no response to that, it was such a nonsensical statement. First off, had he actually been in the lane...he would have been moving since that lane was clear. At worst I would have rear ended his vehicle, and it was quite evident I hadn't done that.

Then he contended that there was no damage to his car and he didn't see any damage on mine.

I wondered how far we would go with this game of denial. I told Amy to call the police, as I pointed to my dented fender and cracked headlight casing.

The driver who had been in the turn lane also had stopped. She gave us her contact information and also confirmed my story of what had happened.

As I started taking down his license plate number, the guy got back in his car. Amy called the police while searching for my insurance info (I think the same demon who steals socks from the dryer takes those proof of insurance things out of glove boxes, but that's another story). Then the guy rolled down his window and said, "Hey, it's raining, get in my sense getting all wet."

I crawled into the lush leather backseat of his luxury SUV and saw his newborn baby - in a car seat thank God. I also noticed his wife, who hadn't said a word to me. Soon though I suspected she had said several words to him before I got in. He handed me his driver's license and insurance info. I gave him my business card and as I was handing him my license he said, "I don't need that. Just get two estimates when you get a chance and I'll write you a check."

When a police officer arrived, I told him no report would be necessary since our insurance companies weren't going to be involved.

Presumably that will be the end of it.

The guy who pulled in front of us works for a big financial company in their tax division. From all appearances he is doing well for himself monetarily.

As I thought more about his reaction to the accident I realized at the heart of it was fear. It was almost instinctual for him to deny wrongdoing. Yet, it was completely irrational. In his panic at facing the fear of his own wrongdoing, he pulled excuses out of thin air so rapidly that I was mesmerized. He's probably a great tax guy, I'm sure he can find deductions of which most folks never dream.

Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be. - Lactantius

When we arrived home and all was calm again, I logged onto our family website and saw a picture of my sister-in-law Terry.


Apparently Terry's youngest son, my nephew Sam, decided he would skydive for his 18th birthday, and at the last minute Terry decided to do it too.

To my knowledge, Terry has never before displayed symptoms of insanity, but you can only be in this family for so long I suppose before some of it rubs off.

Again I thought about fear. I suspect that Terry had some fears about skydiving. However knowing her I'll bet it was probably much more frightening for her to see her son jumping out of a plane.

In any case, she conquered both of those fears. I was greatly pleased at the timing.

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness. - James Thurber

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Pain Truth

I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me. - Psalm 69:29

She stood before her Daddy crying - the tears of a frightened child in pain. She held up her tiny finger as evidence of her need for him. Her tender index finger was bleeding.

Tonight at church, the youngest daughter of my Pastor cut her finger. She was eating with one of her friends and opened a soft drink can. As they giggled and talked she poked her finger into the can opening and the predictable happened.

The hurt was instant with the blood not far behind. The tears and fears quickly trailed.

This little girl, a seven year old, knew immediately that she needed her Dad's loving attention.

She was right. Her father gently washed the wound and comforted her.

Moments later, she smiled at him as he placed a Band-Aid on her finger and she said, "I learned a hard lesson huh?"

"She wanted me to tell you that she is no longer asking for prayers for healing, she simply wants us to pray that she can cope with her pain."

Those words greeted me as soon as I entered the church tonight. My friend Helen approached me with news about Barbara, a woman we love dearly. Barbara's cancer returned recently. Her prognosis is also unfortunately predictable.

I know where I must go to help her.

I run to you Father and hold up my sorrow. I cry out and confess my need.

One of Your precious children, a seventy year old woman, is frightened and hurting. Her pain is deep and unceasing.

I pray You comfort her.

This is still a hard lesson to learn.

I missed my nap for that?

Quick! Someone drive a stake through its heart!
The Spurs have created a monster.

The Rasho Nesduncanvich!

Talk about ugly!

I'm glad the Spurs don't have a team of hotdoggers and egos, but it would be nice if all our players actually had a pulse.

Tomorrow is another least for those of us who breathe.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Resistance is futile

Okay, a couple of emails, one bordering on winsome poetry, and a comment or two from other folks saying they missed the picture of the rustic shed on the blog convinced me to return it. I still don't really like its placement and I may consult with more web savvy folks about incorporating it into the new blog template.

The bonus is I get to put my stepson's drawing of me in the profile section. I get a kick out of that, so it's a fair trade. I'm really not certain I'm going to keep the profile section anyway. If you want to know more about me you really need a hobby, but you can always go to my homepage.

I do appreciate the feedback I've gotten from everyone; I always do...even my self appointed grammarians.

Anyway, I'm wolfing down a late night dinner after a late night walk. Then it's a quick shower and off to watch the Spurs beat the Lakers with some friends.

They sure better win...otherwise going to work almost as soon as the game ends is going to make me feel even more insane...take my word for it, that's hard to do.

Congratulations HPPAV

I don't know who visits from the east coast domain that comes up as "HPPAV" in my registry, but you're the 15,000th visitor to this blog!

You can read the footer at the bottom of the blog to see what you won!

New look, old crows and guinea pigs

Famous last words but I think I worked out all the bugs with the new blog template. I've swore to myself I won't waste any more time on it this afternoon. I want to get in a walk despite the looming threat of thunderstorms and I'm still debating whether to sleep the day away and then go watch the Spurs and Lakers tonight at the home of a friend. The evil cable guy finally came by and cut off my access to the only station I watch during playoff season.

The game doesn't even start until 9:30 which means if I follow through on my ludicrous scheme, I'll watch it and then come home for an hour or so before going to work. Ugh.

I visited Amy in the hospital on my way home. She's bored as you'd imagine since she's really only waiting until Thursday for them to put in a new central line. As I was walking out I did see several black birds all staring at the Emergency room sign. I'm not sure why that struck me as odd. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Yes, you guessed it. This post was really intended only to see if the changes I implemented worked.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Deer me

I was greeted at the church tonight by a rather brave deer and then a very strong thunderstorm. Both didn't seem to care if I was there or not.

Sometimes a little humbling is good for the soul.

A new look

I only have a moment to post. I've got a Deacons meeting to attend. I decided to take the plunge and change the look of The Main Point.

I wanted something cleaner and since Blogger has re-launched with some new templates I figured this would be as good of time as any. I am probably going to play around with it a bit more tonight to see if I can make some subtle changes to make it a bit less standardized.

We'll see.

Every once in a while a new coat of paint is nice.

I'm still using my previous commenting feature instead of the new one offered by Blogger. That way I haven't lost the insight provided in the past.

So what do you think?

Change is gonna get ya!

Blogger has made some changes, and I am playing with the various templates this afternoon. If you log on and the blog looks completely different, it may be a momentary thing. If I can modify some of the new templates enough though I might keep it...who knows?

See what happens when Amy is in the hospital and I have time on my hands?

Sunday, May 09, 2004


My mom died when I was 14. She was killed by a drunk driver. She was younger than I am now and a recent widow. She's buried with my father at a veteran's cemetery in New York, which I've only been to for their funerals.

It's interesting what I recall about my mother. I remember her adopted East coast liberal leanings - both culturally and politically - being in constant conflict with her East Texas Methodist roots. I remember her anger at the injustice in the world, both close to home and far away. I know she struggled with the restrictive imagery of God sewn into her childhood. I know she wanted to know more about her own mother who died when Mom was three. I know she didn't relate particularly well with her step-mom, and other members of her family. Those are the surface things I remember, and I don't think of them often.

In truth I don't think of my mother often enough. When I do those aren't the things that come to mind.

I think about the woman who encouraged my creativity. Who relished the opportunity to immerse her sons in the sophisticated culture of New York, something she certainly never could imagine as a child growing up in the piney woods of East Texas.

I remember a woman who loved books and birds. She was strong, independent and determined, yet she often couldn't conceal her frailties. In fact sometimes she went out of her way to share them with her youngest son.

It's been 32 years since she died and in some ways I become more like her every day.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Saturday, May 08, 2004


The world in which I work is populated by cynics and I'm certainly included among them. News people tend to be skeptical at best, and radio people in all forms are usually not members of Optimist clubs.

I came into work the other day and noticed my top local boss had started having motivational signs put up around the building. They all have a similar message along the lines of "Do your someone's day...etc." We also found bowls of communal goldfish snacks in the break room. We were later informed the goldfish treats were to remind employees to have fun, not to help spread disease by everyone reaching in with their unwashed hands.

I have to admit it did make me laugh, primarily when the fun memo was followed by another saying "Please don't steal the goldfish bowls when they're empty."


Do these tactics really work? I mean are there companies where disgruntled workers trudge into the office carrying the burdens of the world on their shoulders, feeling underpaid, overworked, and under appreciated, and then they see a poster reading, "Do your best, because good is no longer good enough!" and instantly they are transformed?

This particular boss -I have a lot of bosses- is a wonderful guy, but he really has no clue as to what I do, or what most of the people on the programming side of radio do. Not too long ago I was in his office when the press liaison from the local FBI office came by. This boss introduced me to the agent with a job title that isn't mine, and he mispronounced my last name - yes, that is tough to do. As it happens, I have spoken with this particular FBI agent on numerous occasions, but we had never met in person. He smiled politely as I handed him my business card to reassure him that he hadn't been calling me by the wrong name all these years.

If bosses truly want motivated employees there are better methods than platitudes and goldfish.

Knowing who your workers are and what they do is a good first step.

It's amazing how much respect you can earn, when you give it too.

*posters from

Since Amy was released from the hospital in late January she's been for the most part relegated to the couch, which we've dubbed "Camp Amy".

Monday Amy will be readmitted to the hospital to have her central line removed. That's the line she uses to give herself various medicines as well as what she hooks up to the ever popular feedbag. Her body has been fighting this line, which has been in for a number of months, and so a new one will be put in on Thursday. That means she'll be spending all of next week in the hospital.

This is all a minor procedure and is really designed to get the infection under control so hopefully we won't have to be dealing with that when we go on our vacation this summer. She could probably have the line removed at home, but since we've already maxed out the deductible on our health insurance it's not going to cost us anything more to have her hospitalized. There's no sense taking chances.

On Monday we break camp.

I work in radio news, but in reality I miss a lot of news stories because they are of a visual nature. I saw this story and picture on the Dappled Things blog.

I didn't want anyone else to miss it.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


We can't afford to go on vacation this year. That's the honest truth.

Each year we go to Ohio for almost two weeks to spend time with family. We cram ourselves for a week into a house on Lake, in-laws, nieces, nephews, et al. It's cramped and the love is unconditional.

We have a family website with a counter on it that literally counts down the minutes until we all meet again. It is the highlight of our year and has been every year since Amy and I got married.

This year, it's not in our budget.

It reminds me of the story I heard once of a small impoverished farming family. Every year they struggled to survive. Every year they made sacrifices simply to have enough to eat. They had virtually nothing besides the farm, the family cow, and each other.

It's not like there were a lot of things to spend money on anyway. The biggest thing that ever happened was the State Fair, and no one in the family had never been...they couldn't afford wouldn't be sensible.

Today, Amy booked our flights and we will fly to Ohio in July for nearly 2 weeks. We have plenty excuses not to, but none are good enough.

We have airline vouchers that are going to cover most of our costs to actually get there and back. We have our tax refund and still have hopes of selling Amy's van. Most of all we have faith that the rest will work itself out.

Admittedly, some creditors are going to have to be put on hold a little longer. It won't kill them to learn a little patience. God constantly drives home that lesson for me, I think I have almost a biblical obligation to share it.

Certainly the sensible and frugal thing to do would be for us to use the small stash of money we have tucked away to prepare for more rainy days which are inevitably ahead, but sensible and frugal only go so far.

Sometimes you have to sell the family cow. Sometimes you have to go to the Fair.

See you at Lakeside!

Okay, so my prediction for the score of the Lakers-Spurs game wasn't dead on. I said 87 to was 95 to 85. I said Hedo Turkoglu would have to step up. He ended up only making two shots, but one of them was possibly the most important shot of the game.

I said I'd be groggy this morning...that prediction was dead on.

The Spurs won...that's what really matters.

Bring on game three!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Tipoff is about 90 minutes away. I will be groggy in the morning (what else is new?) but I plan to watch as much of the game as possible tonight.

My bet is that the referees will be a determining factor tonight. There's a little professional wrestling in the NBA and considering the huge ratings for game one of this series, the little bit of conspiracy theorist in me wouldn't be surprised if the NBA encouraged calls that might lead to a seven game series.

Keys to the game: Hedo has to remember he's a basketball player. Kobe has to keep forgetting he has other players on his team. Gary Payton must keep pretending he can keep up with Tony Parker.

Prediction: Spurs 87 Lakers 81

Of course remember, if I were psychic I'd be in Vegas.

It's an anniversary and we almost forgot to celebrate.

It struck me the other night how something was absent from our lives these days. Besides money and sanity - Amy and I have arguably been lacking those for our entire married life.

It's something that until the other night I hadn't even realized was happening.

Here it is late spring and Amy and I have haven't been to one school concert, graduation related event, awards ceremony, or banquet. We haven't had to deal with a sudden crisis involving prom dates or a prom dress. No one in the house has been flipping through magazines looking for ways to glue their hair into some unnatural arrangement for a night. We've actually been able to watch the end of season television shows we wanted to see on the nights they aired, instead of taping them.

The Spurs are making their playoff run and I haven't had one night where I've pretended to be paying attention to someone giving a speech while wishing I was watching the game.

Uncomfortable chairs, looking at my watch while listening to someone stutter thru a poorly written speech, and using a plastic "spork" to try to dissect information about the true nature of the food in front of me despite being told repeatedly that even though it's unrecognizable it truly is chicken...we're missing out on all these things for the first time in 11 or 12 years.

There's got to be a bottle of champagne somewhere in the house...

I've worked for the largest out of home media company on earth since 1985. Of course back then it wasn't the largest anything. It wasn't until recent years, more specifically since the last presidential election that the company began being called "The Great Satan". I'm not sure who had that title before then but evidently it's sort of like the Miss America crown, it rotates.

I know the company I work for, I know the people who make up the company and I know that most of the company's critics have their own agendas. Suffice it to say I wouldn't work for Satan, even if he paid me well. Now, if you want to argue that Clear Channel should pay its grunts more, then I might jump on your bandwagon.

However, I don't really use this space to talk about work. This is my place to talk about important things like memories, and love, and green beans. Topics like the Spurs, dogs and God. You know, stuff that matters.

I will say there is a good article in the Washington Times today which debunks much of the blabbering about Clear Channel. If you have an interest in that topic I would direct you there as well as the April 2004 edition of Texas Monthly magazine which had a very balanced article called "The Voice of America." I'd link to the article on line but Texas Monthly requires a subscription...dang capitalists.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


I have been a shark.

Not bloodthirsty and ravenous, but thick skinned and isolated.

I have driven myself into deeper waters seeking peace.

I have felt the need to keep moving to survive.

Those times have been rare but not necessarily unhealthy.

I have found solace in solitude. Peace in the deep and the darkness.

There is comfort in those places only because I know I must come up for air.

I recognize the breath of God will restore me.

I can't be a shark without also being a sheep.

"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great person is one who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a fascinating story. I wonder how much more many of us would be capable of if we didn't hold ourselves back.

Monday, May 03, 2004


"Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed"

I remembered a story today that I had long ago forgotten, or perhaps suppressed.

During the summer between high school and college, some buddies and I went to Austin. At that time, the mid 70's, Austin had a reputation as the coolest city in Texas. Some folks still consider that to be the case. Having lived there some years later, I am not one who shares that viewpoint, although it's certainly a lovely town and the scenery is splendid. You do have to be able to overlook the Sunday afternoon traffic jams, as well as a disproportionate number of vehement liberals, hookers and politicians. I realize that last sentence may contain some redundancies.

Anyway, the primary place my friends and I went during our road trip to Austin was the infamous Hippie Hollow which was at the time a pseudo-sanctioned nude beach on Lake Travis. Even back then in notoriously liberal Austin, getting naked in public was illegal; however when it came to Hippie Hollow local authorities looked the other least until election season. When the political campaigns cranked up, the Travis County sheriff would invariably launch well publicized crackdowns on the "nekkid heathens" for the betterment of mankind and to get his face on TV for free.

Some years later, the folks in Austin got tired of the silliness and simply made it legal to take off your clothes at Hippie Hollow. It's still the only nude beach in Texas. The word beach is somewhat of a misnomer. Hippie Hollow is essentially an area of rocky cliffs on the water. I personally think in order to qualify as a beach there should be some sand, but then again when your naked sand is not necessarily your friend.

I digress...

Being young men in our late teens with far more hormones than common sense, we had one goal for this great Austin adventure...we wanted to see naked women. We didn't admit that, but that was the unspoken mutual intent.

That was my first and last trip to Hippie Hollow so I'm sure things have changed a great deal in the decades since, but as I recall when we drove up you had to park a good distance away from the rocks or as they call rocks in Austin, the beach. We then had to wander through a thick morass of bushes and underbrush. It was amid this unfriendly foliage that I took note of the first aspect of Hippie Hollow which I hadn't considered: weirdoes. There seemed to be a lot of men standing behind bushes, with no apparent desire to go any further. In my naiveté, this struck me as odd, "Why would folks go to a lake and not go near the water?" Later I noticed some of the men had binoculars...I think a few even had cameras.

Undeterred, our little band of innocents marched merrily toward the lake and soon staked out a spot on the rocks. Then we saw them. Real live naked people.

In an instant, the scales fell from my eyes...and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't put them back.

My first realization was although there was an abundance of naked people at Hippie Hollow the vast majority of them were men...many of them rather old, weathered, tired and tattooed men. Men I certainly suspected were not getting offers to get naked anywhere else and if they were getting such offers I didn't want to think about it. Second, the few women who were naked made some of the bare butted men look attractive.

The most startling and fearsome revelation however was that my friends and I were in the minority of people at the water's edge who still had clothes on. Apparently there was something of an unwritten rule: you either got naked, or you drifted back amid the leaves and the lechers.

This is when I knew our road trip plan had a serious flaw. I will readily admit to a certain curiosity about seeing naked people in public, but I will also attest to the fact that I didn't then, nor do I now, have any desire to be one of them. Additionally even if I were to get naked in public, I didn't want to do it with three of my friends. We were close....but we weren't that close.

I was ready to leave almost instantly, but I wasn't ready to be the first to admit that. One of the guys I was with quickly became "one with nature" and looked at the rest of us as if he expected we would do the same. As I recall, one other friend may have eventually felt comfortable or pressured enough to join him.

My closest friend and I however opted for another approach. We dove into the water and swam away. We kept our shorts on and in the process kept what small amount of dignity we had left somewhat in tact, and various body parts properly concealed.

Despite driving a couple hundred miles to get there, we didn't stay long at Hippie Hollow. I seem to recall being berated a bit on the car ride back by the friends who found it easy to embrace nudism that day, but I really didn't care.

I had already seen a side of them I hadn't planned on and was still trying to erase that image from my brain.

What brought this recollection to mind today was this story about Hippie Hollow.

I had to laugh thinking about a bunch of foolish folks rushing to the side of a boat to see naked people only to be unceremoniously dumped in the water.

It reminded me of that road trip from long ago, and how some things truly are best left to the imagination.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


Amy led singing in church today. She's been able to do that for some time, but it's been very stressful and emotional for her in recent months. At times she's been shaky, and some weeks she's had to miss simply due to her weakened state of being. For whatever reason, it's suddenly become somewhat frightening for her.

Today Amy's voice was strong and I think her presence helped reinforce God's presence in our little house of worship.

Our friend Rhonda came to church today too.

It surprised me. Rhonda has had a lot of struggles in her life, and like many of us she has sought answers in a variety of ways, not all of them especially healthy or helpful. Amy has tried to get Rhonda to come to church for a long long time.

Since Amy's last surgery in January, Rhonda has been a steadying force which I must admit I wasn't expecting. In the past, we've often been the ones holding Rhonda's hand, but lately it's the other way around.

We have many friends and family who have cared for us, prayed for us, cried with us. I don't mean at all to minimize their invaluable contributions to Amy's recovery. However Rhonda has been that rare friend who has simply been there for Amy with no expectations whatsoever.

She'll call to say, "Hey let's go get coffee" but not be disappointed, or read something more into it, if Amy begs off.

She's volunteered to take Amy to doctor's appointments which sometimes can drag on for hours, and she's also been willing to simply come and sit on the couch, watch TV with Amy, and quietly pass the time.

Sometimes that's what Amy has needed advice, no questions, no sympathy, only a calm presence reminding her she's not alone.

I'll readily admit it's something I've needed too.

It was a huge step for Rhonda to come to church today. Like too many people, Rhonda has had bad church experiences. Today won't heal those wounds, but perhaps it will be the start of a process toward that end.

Rhonda was nervous and felt out of place, but she was there. She walked in the door alone.

I think she did it because she knows that she hasn't given God enough of a chance in her own life , but I know she also did it because she wants to support Amy in every way possible...even when that means doing things that make her highly uncomfortable.

Walking into a church alone when you haven't been a church-goer is a very brave thing for anyone, no matter the reason.

I think Amy has the voice of an angel when she sings. Today I listened to that angelic voice with another angel sitting beside me.

It was good.

The NBA playoffs move at the speed of a turtle riding a glacier. Finally round two begins today. Tony Parker and crew take on the evil Lakers.

I mention Tony Parker out of guilt. For some reason I get more hits to my blog for people searching for Tony Parker than anything else. I don't think I've written a word about him in a year or more. So now for all you folks in France who search for Tony Parker info, you can at least be satisfied in this small way.

Tony has reached an honor heretofore reserved for the McGriddle.

In any case, it's Sunday. The Spurs and Lakers play this afternoon. It's a glorious day.

Let's get to it!

Saturday, May 01, 2004


I walk a tightrope holding your hand.

I walk a tightrope in unsteady times.
I try to keep us in balance, moving forward.
I try to distract you from the lack of a discernible horizon.

I walk a tightrope holding out hope.
I try to keep our focus fixed, not looking back.
I try to block the wind because the slightest unintended breeze may topple you.

I walk a tightrope holding out faith.
I try to be an optimist, against my nature.
I try to assure you that losing faith in people is easy, but God is always faithful.

I walk a tightrope...but I walk it with you gladly.