Sunday, October 31, 2004

Hope In Hiding

I'm in hiding...and I feel like a weenie.

I'm hiding from the Halloweenies - the trick or treaters.

They're prowling around outside, going door to door, in a ritual involving disguise and tooth decay.

I have nothing against Halloween, I mean spiritually. If some folks want to think it's evil that's fine, but I don't equate Halloween with devil worship...depending on how you define sugar...but I know some people do see Halloween as something Satanic. That's their choice...who am I to judge?

Personally I see Satan's influence in much different ways. I only wish his deceit were so obvious.

These days I think Halloween is, at worst, a way for kids to learn that you can be a more successful beggar if you're cute.

I took part in Halloween when I was a kid.

That's a UNICEF box in my hand, I don't know if kids still collect for UNICEF or not...I remember it was mandatory at our house. That sounds pretty noble, yet I also remember my most frequent Halloween costume was a "Hobo."

You don't see parents dressing their children up as the "homeless" much these days.

I've given out candy to kids on Halloween before, but not tonight. Tonight I'm hiding because I have three dogs that will go insane every time the doorbell rings, plus I have to wake up really early.

Okay and I don't have any candy.

All the outdoor lights are off, and most of the indoor lights are out as well.

I'm typing by the flicker of the computer monitor. The dogs are sleeping soundly, and I'm fairly certain no neighborhood children are going to go to bed hungry because I didn't give them a fistful of "smarties" (hey, if I buy the candy I get the stuff I like).

I'll turn on the lights at some point during the night when I'm certain the kids have finished their rounds and it's safe to let the dogs out.

In truth I think Amy and I will remain in hiding another way. Amy is still hospitalized, but her recovery is going well. She has a minor infection, but nothing that can't be addressed. I sat down to speak with her surgeon today (on a Sunday no less) and I couldn't help but see something I hadn't seen in a long expression of optimism on his face. It had been masked...for years.

At this point, no one is ready to pronounce Amy "cured," but I must admit there is this growing feeling prowling around the edges of our awareness, that maybe...just maybe, this latest surgery has done the trick. Amy is still in pain, but that's normal for folks filleted only five days ago. Her mood is improving. Her spiritual health is better too.

It may have been because I spent 4 hours behind a lawnmower, but I slept better last night than I have in 18 months.

We're going to stay in hiding a little while longer though.

Yet I must admit I'm feeling a lot more anxious to flip on that light switch and face the glare of our future...
I think it's going to be a real treat.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Great Conversation

If there's anything I can do just ask.

"Hahaha...that one always makes Me laugh."

Whoa...where'd You come from?

"What do you mean? I'm always here. I am The Ancient of Days....the Alpha and the Omega."

Well, I mean...uh...I know that...but we don't normally talk.

"We talk all the time loved one...listening, now that's the part you - and many others - seem not to have mastered."

Okay, I'll give You that.

"Thanks, how generous."

No, no disrespect intended...I uh...well I don't want to waste this moment when I'm obviously listening in the right way.

"I know what you meant...remember Alpha Omega...I have a sense of humor you know."

Really?...well um of course You do...look at the platypus...but we're getting off the subject. What do You mean that You laugh when I say "If there's anything I can do just ask?" I say that all the time to people in need.

"What do they need?"

Well, all sorts of things...a ride to the doctor, help with their kids, money, food.

"So why don't you give them food or drive them to the doctor?"

Well, they didn't really ask.

"So you only help people in need who ask, that's sort of hollow don't you think?"

Yeah, mean...well, You know what I mean! My intentions are good.

" 'Hell is paved with good intentions, not with bad ones. All men mean well.' I should have given that thought to one of My better got sort of wasted on George Bernard Shaw."

I don't think You're being fair. I do my best and I worship You.

"Really? How do you do your best?"

Well, I go to church on Sundays and I give money a lot of the time. I pray and read the Bible....sometimes.

"Yes, I'm aware of that...I see everything, even inside your heart....but let me get this straight - you go to church on Sundays to worship Me?"

Of course.

"How long does that take?"

Um...well, if I make it to Sunday school it's usually two hours.

"So your idea of worshipping the Creator of you and everything in the universe is to set aside two hours on Sunday?"

Well, some Sundays I'm too busy.

"HAHAHA. Thank you. I know you're saying that because you know I know...but I applaud your attempt at honesty. That about it though? A couple hours on most Sundays, a few prayers and you own a Bible?"

Well, that's not fair. I do more than that. I'm a leader in the church. I try to do things to help the church grow!


Huh? What do you mean, "Why?" so more people will worship You of course!

"So you ask people to come to church and sort of make them feel guilty for not being a church member?"

Well...they make themselves feel guilty...I might help them along a little, but sure...that's the Great Commission!

"Is it?"

Isn't it?

"I suppose I read it a little differently."

What would You do different?

"Well, for one I think I'd stop being so fixated on asking people why they don't come to church."

What? That goes against everything! I have to ask them to church...I have to get them to study the Bible, it's the only way they're going to commit their lives to You!

"Really? I'm not saying you're wrong, but have you ever considered any other way?"

The Great's written in the Bible, Matthew 28 something...I shouldn't have to quote it to You!

"No, you shouldn't...and that's good because it doesn't look like you could anyway, but that's beside the point. Why don't you try something else... we'll call it a new commission. "

Will it be great too? Will I get credit for it? OH MAN! Forget I said that!

"I don't forget anything, but I forgive. Actually I'm glad you said that. You're finding it easier to show your true nature. Maybe that will help you understand why you go to church."

I go to church to worship YOU!

"You've said that already...I have the listening thing down believe Me. Remember when you said, 'If there's anything you need just ask?' well this is what I really need.

Ask the people who are already in church why they are there. Call it the Great Commission - The Sequel."

I think you're making fun of me.

"I'd never mock you. I love you. I want you to love Me."

I do!

"Yeah I know, for two hours on most Sundays.
Listen to the words again, 'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'

Does that sound like something you're going to accomplish in church?"

Well, I mean I know there's more to it than that, but You're not saying don't go to church are You?

"I'm saying I love you and I want all of mankind to know and love Me. I've given you explicit directions and you've given Me 'two hours most Sundays.'

I think it's going to take more of Your time."

Well, I forgot about Wednesday nigh....uh forget it...I see where You're going I think.

You want me to make You the center of my life...every hour of every day and that way I'll be a living example of what You have commanded and people will learn of You by seeing me.

"That's it...if that's not too much to ask."

Anything I can do just ask...oh sorry.

"Hahaha! You're forgiven.


Friday, October 29, 2004

Friday Finally

I couldn't make it through work today...I thought I was sick, but I think now I was probably more worn out.

Amy continues to improve but we've got a few minor concerns about infection. Hopefully that will pan out to be something easily treatable, though I don't know why I should expect that in Amy's case any longer.

Anyway, I'm still tired...I'm thinking more about flopping down on the couch instead of a Naugahyde hospital chair. Writing isn't even on the radar.

Maybe after a 5 to 10 hour nap I'll feel more inspired.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I C B's

Things are going fairly well at the hospital. Amy is moving about a bit more and I've had really only one run in with any medical person about her care. That happened today. Amy was restless and in pain. She couldn't get comfortable. Finally after quite a while of trying, a little well placed medication, and making sure she was "tucked in tight" I got her settled down, and she fell asleep. Seconds later, a student nurse bopped in and cheerily announced, "I'm here to ask Mrs. Main some questions. She's one of two patients I've been assigned today."

Before I could grab her clipboard and smack her tush with it, she had already woken Amy. I quickly brought the Q&A session to an end and told the young woman as politely as possible that despite what it said on her clipboard she needed to consider the patient's needs before her own. Then I ushered her out the door.

I did take some satisfaction in realizing that Amy was for the most part unconscious and I have no idea what answers she gave the poor girl. I suspect her instructor is going to read her report and tell her she needs remedial help in "elevators"….the rubber rooms are one flight up from Amy's.
Although things are scattered this week... I've been trying to maintain something of a schedule. For the past two days I've taken my walking clothes and hand weights with me to the hospital. When Amy has fallen asleep I've managed to get in a walk. I got lost both times (the medical center area of San Antonio is far larger than you might suspect), but I found my way back...eventually. I get lost all the time…I am notorious for it.

No, I didn't stop and ask for directions. No, I didn't read street signs. I didn't memorize my path and retrace my steps…I didn't even fall back on my tried and true method of logically thinking which was the right direction to go and then taking off the other way knowing I'm almost always wrong - that works for me about 80 percent of the time by the way.

No, this time I simply looked up.

Oh please if you're thinking I was checking the position of the Sun so I could then determine my direction, get real.

I looked up and noticed something that I have not noticed in our 8653 previous trips to the medical center area….on top of almost every building there are signs with the names of the buildings in HUGE letters.

That meant if I simply stopped, looked up in each direction I would eventually see "Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital." That's what happened.

When I can actually see the building, even I have a hard time getting lost finding it again.
Last night our oldest child Tiffany stopped by the hospital on her way back to Kerrville. She had been to the dentist and that probably was the best part of her day. As soon as I heard her voice on the phone I knew she was troubled. When she arrived at the hospital (after getting lost on the freeway - hey, don't blame me she's my stepdaughter someone else passed along the no sense of direction gene) it was even more apparent.

Within moments she was in tears. She was upset about work, frustrated at the futility of teaching kids who don't seem to care, and by the educational bureaucratic morass which only made things worse. There were some personal issues that had wormed their way into the emotional hodgepodge as well. She cried and told me all about it and I tried to console her as best as I could knowing full well I had no answers.

Soon I sent her home sensing one thing - she certainly needed more sleep.

I sent her an email when I got home - still containing no sage wisdom, and called her this morning to leave a word of encouragement on her voicemail.

Although she was miserable, Tiffany was comfortable enough with me last night to unload her heartbreak and anger. We were close enough to share each other's pain. Honestly and openly. She may have had a horrible day, but part of it was a wonderful thing for me.

I hope that young student nurse thinks about my brief conversation with her today. In truth it might be a far more important lesson than she'll ever receive by carrying around a clipboard.

Tiffany's frustrations and fears were painful for me too, but they also were something I celebrated…not that she was hurting; but that we have grown close enough to have more than a parental relationship…we share the good stuff and the hard stuff.

It's not that unlike my complete inability to find my own way without getting lost.

Sometimes I have to stop amid all the confusion and chaos; turn in each direction and stare skyward.

Like those signs atop that maze of buildings, God's blessings are there.... occasionally I have to look for them.

Boast In Show

I often tell people at my office, "If we don't brag about ourselves, who's going to brag about us?"

Therefore I have to sheepishly mention that Ganns at Superblessed has named this blog "The Most Humorous Blog in the 2004 Superblessed Christian Blog Awards."

Considering I've spent much of the year whining I think that probably means there are a heckuvalot of grumpy Christians out there.

Honestly, thank you Ganns.

This blogosphere is a wondrous place and it's nice to know my feeble attempts at humor carry over seas even to the Philippines...I hope God's message is entwined within my humble offerings as's one of the many ways God seems to have shown me how to convey it.

I will donate the prize money to a worthy cause, as I did last year. Come to think of it Ganns you might want to run a tracer on last year's check....

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Story Is Still Being Written...Except The Ending.

I took time to write something important tonight, an email to my eldest child...but it's between us...not blog fodder.

Still, I have promised to maintain a discipline of writing every day here, even when days and nights become crazily fused...even when minutes and moments are mangled.

These days it's hard to keep track of it all. In fact, Amy and I often must rely on our contact managers to remember basic stuff: doctor's appointments, church events, bills to pay.

Often I put the information in my database and then "invite" Amy so she'll receive an email and can simply click on it to have the information put into her contact manager too.

The other day when we had her surgery scheduled I sent her two "invitations." The first was a reminder of the time she needed to be at the hospital and the surgery schedule.

The second was a little vaguer but a lot more important.

I simply sent her a reminder to include in her post surgery schedule which read; "Live happily ever after."

She accepted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

In Step Beyond

Amy's surgery was uneventful, although as you would expect she is in a great deal of pain.

From a purely selfish point of view however, my most manic moments are behind us. Kissing your wife as strangers wheel her away on a gurney to places where knives and blood and miracles mix is a sensation I no longer wish to experience.

We now embark on the next phase of this season of faith and it too will cover some difficult ground.

We will experience that journey though together.

Fast update

I know people are watching this blog for info. The surgery was delayed by 2 1/2 it will be this evening before there is real news.

Thanks for the continued prayers.


We Go

We're about to leave and there is an air of uncertainty.

But that is true of everyday...

Today we also know we are blanketed in prayer.

God bless you all for that...sometime this evening I will stop home and try to at least post what I'm sure will be uneventful news.

We feel your prayers and thoughts of goodwill more than you realize.

We have put our burdens upon You Father, but You work in wondrous ways...and through wonderful people. Thank You for providing us with such friends and such love.

Monday, October 25, 2004


It's easy to distract ourselves in times like these. The flickering light of the TV....the babbling of political blather. Thoughts of house cleaning and chores left undone.

Work, worries, wonderment...

Point me in any direction and I can divert my outward attention for at least a little while.

I can write, walk, and wrestle with the checkbook. Amy can crochet, or at least cuss at crocheting. We both can complain about dogs with dementia, and concentrate on crosswords.

Today we spent distracting each well as leaving each other to our own distractions. That was fine. Time moves too slow when there are so many unknowns.

Since Amy will be severely reduced on food intake after tomorrow's surgery, actually after midnight tonight, she's been eating ice cream sandwiches like George Foreman devours...well probably everything in sight. Enough pain medication and she can eat and she's not skimping on the pain meds at this point.

We had hoped to go eat horribly greasy barbecue at a restaurant where Amy had her "last supper" with family four years ago when she originally underwent her first major gastric surgery, it would have been painful but worth it...but we discovered they close early on Mondays.

That was okay...there was a Wal-Mart nearby....they sell ice cream sandwiches. We didn't skimp...I'll walk them off later.

We haven't skimped on prayer either....but we also haven't shortchanged praise.

Tomorrow there will fears but there will also be faith and friendship. There will strong prayers spoken aloud and silent pleas murmured amid tears.

And there will be recognition.

We are blessed. This long ordeal has made us stronger.

It has steeled us spiritually, tested us emotionally, and come close to ruining us financially...but we still marvel at the mystery of it...we have unmasked emotions and unburdened ourselves from delusions.

Pain, challenge, struggles and fear...those are all distractions too...from the revelation that we are not in control.

Tonight Amy and I will hold each other close, facing our God and say in all honesty, " We are powerless without You."

There is no distracting us from the power within that truth.

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. - Psalm 59:17

Determining The Lie With A Compass

I made passing mention the other day that I believed Compass bank was the worst bank on earth, I didn't explain further because I really fear I'm getting this on-line reputation of a grumpy old man who complains a lot.

I really would feel bad if I took that title away from more deserving grumpy old men

I'm only kidding Clarence...and by the way happy birthday.

This is a long story but I'll try to simplify it.

Amy has had a small bank account at Compass Bank she was lured into establishing by their marketing ploys. She used it for her very small business to keep tax monies separate, etc. We eventually decided it was unnecessary and that the lures Compass Bank enticed Amy into opening the account with were somewhat bogus, so we were going to close the account.

However, the last time Amy was in the hospital she needed some cash and decided to take out the remaining 40 dollars the ATM showed she had as her balance. To make a long story short, she didn't have 40 dollars in the account; she had 3 dollars, even though the ATM said she had 40.

Nine days later I received a notice saying the account was over drawn and had been charged a 35 dollar overdraft fee. It said if I didn't pay the outstanding balance in 8 days from the date of the notice (9 days previous) we would be charged again. I stormed over to the bank and was greeted with shrugs and incompetence. I grudgingly paid 107 dollars...70 dollars in fees, plus the 37 dollars Amy withdrew over the 3 dollars she actually had in the account.

I was furious, Amy was furious...but we had more pressing matters to deal with so we took the account down to zero and said we'd deal with it later. Amy eventually convinced a rather snide person on the phone to waive one of the 35 dollar fees.

Anyway, we've been by the bank 3 times since then trying to close the account and each time we've had to sign our names on a list and wait. Each time after about 15 to 30 minutes we left. Today we decided to wait them out.
Eventually a very pleasant young lady handled our issues. She smiled, talked a lot about unrelated matters, and then refused to waive any fees. She did manage to close the account.

In the process I asked her how it was possible that an ATM could allow you to withdraw more money than you had in your account. She told me, and this is the truth, "Well, these things are calculated using certain dynamics such as the possibility that you might have direct deposit."

We didn't have direct deposit on that account....we had 3 dollars.

So I posed it again hypothetically...I said, "If I came in here and opened an account with 20 dollars, could the next day I go to an ATM and take out 300?"

I swear to you she told me, "Well, this is all based on a matrix of factors most of which are spelled out in your disclosure statement."

Huh? I gave up on that one and instead asked how it was possible that I could mail items to people in India and the Persian gulf and they receive them in 6 days, but that two notices telling us our account was overdrawn took exactly 9 days each to reach us; exactly one day late for me to avoid being charged a 35 dollar over draft fee?

I swear her answer was, "These items are sent to Atlanta where they are transcribed and then a certain set of processes are used before the overdraft mailings are sent out."

Huh? Where do they hire people like this...manure factories?

For the benefit of those of you who might not speak the language...this is gibberish. In my opinion, it is in fact a lie. This young woman, nice as she may be, had no idea what the heck her company does and, in my opinion, Compass bank purposely finagles as many "fees" as possible and delays sending notices of overdrafts in order to double those charges.

I asked for copies of the "disclosure statements" which supposedly spelled all this out for us. The young woman didn't have the exact copies, but the pamphlet she gave me contained enough of the "bank speak" to give me the general idea....again, for your benefit I'll translate, "Compass bank can tell you anything, charge you anything, and change the rules and rates of its charges at any time without notifying you, unless there's some law somewhere against it and you happen to find it."

Dynamic Transcribed Matrix.

If this were algebra that would work out to an equation something like this: D+T+M= BS

We have accounts at 2 other banks, I've had accounts at perhaps 15 banks in my lifetime, and never have I heard such unadulterated monetary malarkey.

There's more....the way they lured Amy into setting up an account was with the promise that they never charge "ATM" fees, plus they reimburse fees charged by other banks if you used their ATM's. That sounds pretty good. Until you read the disclosure statement which states you must save every ATM withdrawal slip and mail it to Compass with a request for reimbursement. Then they'll reimburse you, unless they change their minds and the "disclosure statement" says they can change their policy at any time without any notice.

I have felt betrayed by Citibank for charging exorbitant interest rates, but at least they were honest about being greedy slime. I have felt dismayed by Chase for outsourcing their customer service to India and being unwilling to treat us like human beings, but Compass my the worst bank on earth.

I'm done being grumpy now....I think I'll go back and look at the pictures in the previous post.

Kids Are A Trip

I walked out of the church kitchen yesterday and almost stepped on a cute little bug.

Click to enlarge

I gently suggested her spot in the doorway might not be the best place for a nap.

She ignored me...something I've grown accustomed to women doing...of course she's too young to understand what I was saying to her, but I still think it's really a woman thing.

Click to enlarge

A few minutes later I noticed she had chosen a new location.

Click to enlarge

I pray our children always feel so comfortable at church.

Headline Of The Day

From a little newspaper in the town of Seguin today:

Alleged fight turns violent

By Jamie Mobley
Seguin Gazette

Oh well, loyal readers will remember that Seguin is still home to the world's largest Pecan

A Word To The Wise

Geek Alert!

From the Associated Press this morning-

Internet users at home are not nearly as safe online as they believe, according to a nationwide inspection by researchers. They found most consumers have no firewall protection, outdated antivirus software and dozens of spyware programs secretly running on their computers.

One beleaguered home user in the government-backed study had more than 1,000 spyware programs running on his sluggish computer when researchers examined it

You need anti virus software (Panda is very good, and less of a target for hackers than Norton and other more well known brands). You need a firewall - Zone Alarm - is free. Although if you're running Windows XP and have installed the new SP2, the firewall it provides is adequate. You do NOT want to run two firewalls.

You should have two programs on your computer to block and detect spyware...both are free.
Spybot Search and Destroy and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware.
I also run SpyBlaster. It's also free.

This ends today's Geek Alert!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Going Once

I'm such a computer geek it's surprising I haven't gotten more involved in stuff like this before, but I've never really dealt with Ebay.

I've bought a couple of Ebay items over the years, but really I had Amy buy them for me. They were inexpensive little things, a case for a cell phone, a portable keyboard for my palm pilot, and for my Pocket PC. That's been the extent of it.

Recently a store opened near us called "I Sold It On Ebay", and I thought, "Why not?" We took a few items over there (actually Amy and I were the very first customers at that store) and sold them.

There were a bunch of comic books which Gordon had given my stepson Joey years ago. Joey had thrown them in the trash when I ordered asked him to clean out his room on one of his last visits, and I rescued them. They'd been sitting in the garage and were likely going to get tossed in the trash again the next time we clean the garage (target date: sense setting unreasonable goals).

I put them in plastic bags and took them over to the store. I figured if they brought in a fortune I'd split the money with Gordon as a nice surprise. The entire lot sold for 5 bucks and the buyer is talking about backing out, so Gordon if they sell I'll buy you a diet coke or something. I Sold It On Ebay also takes a 30 percent cut.

We also brought them the Dick Tracy watch Microsoft sent me which was simply too silly to own.

I have ethical objections to "selling" stuff I'm sent by companies to "review". I've never done's not illegal or anything, I simply don't like the idea of it. In the past I've donated any usable items to charity or given them away to people who could use or enjoy them. The items are mine to keep, not selling them is simply a rule I made up for myself. It's also a rule I established when our bank balance hovered above the "zero" mark less often.

I certainly wouldn't solicit an item to "review" and then turn around and sell it, but I've decided to modify the rule a little.

First if it's an item a company sends me unsolicited and is inappropriate for charity, it's a possibility for Ebay.

Second, as with the case of the Dick Tracy watch, if it's something that ended up actually costing me money I am not going to feel guilty about selling it.

It still ticks me off that I had to pay money to write a review for Microsoft's product. They immediately began charging me for their monthly MSN mobile service amid assurances I wouldn't be charged. I had to cancel the service, never did get a response from Microsoft or their P.R. agency, and I was out ten bucks.

Paying Microsoft money to give them free publicity???? ethical objections fell by the wayside on that one and time ran out for Dick. The gumshoe Smart Watch went on the block.


112 bucks! Less, 30 percent, plus Paypal and Ebay fees....still we should pocket 70 or 80 bucks on the deal and someone who actually wants the silliest watch on Earth now owns one.

Moreover I've gotten even with Microsoft in some small way, although the buyer will now subscribe to their service so they're getting a profit they didn't expect too.

So now I have the Ebay bug...and have decided I can do it without a middle man.

I'm testing my skills with the sale of Mad Magazine's CD-Rom collection of every magazine edition they put out from 1952 to 1998. It was a product I received years ago when I did a computer show on the radio. I looked at it a couple of times. It brought back memories...then it took up shelf space. Soon it ended up in a box gathering dust.

It can't be donated; it's actually made for computer operating systems that are out of date, so really only a collector would want it.

At a garage sale it would sell for a buck or two...I figured on Ebay it'll sell for more.

So far bidding is up to around 15 bucks.

I'm not going to get rich, but I have to admit I'm now eying everything in the house thinking, "hmmm...I wonder what I could get for that on Ebay?" The dogs are starting to act nervous.

Amy's beanie baby collection.....? We have a Furby in the box that was never many suckers are there in the world?

That's a rhetorical question asked by someone who is the current owner of a Furby in the box.

I'm going to continue to donate "new software" I receive at the office to my favorite local charity, but stuff I've had in my closet for years that is for all intents and purposes junk..."hello Ebay!"

The record collection is probably next on the list. I gave away most of my LP's years ago, but hung onto some for old time's sake. They sit on a shelf...gathering dust. I don't even own a turntable.

Ashes to ashes...dust to dust, but before that happens I'm thinking I might should dabble in turning a little dust into cash.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


"Everything difficult indicates something more than our theory of life yet embraces, checks some tendency to abandon the straight path, leaving open only the way ahead. But there is a reality of being in which all things are easy and plain - oneness, that is, with the Lord of Life; to pray for this is the first thing; and to the point of this prayer every difficulty hedges and directs us." - George MacDonald

I have been consumed by this devotion this week. A friend handed me an anthology of readings of George MacDonald. MacDonald was a Scotsman whom C.S. Lewis said influenced everything he wrote.

This week this man, who died in 1905, is influencing me.

I thank God for that.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Message- From Amy

I haven't been blogging because for one thing, it's too dang hot up here and I can't come up with stuff as easily as Michael or Gordon (RLP). Maybe after the first of the year. Michael says my comments on his blog are too long, so I'm toying with the idea of doing some sort of "He Said/She Said" where I can comment on his blog or give my point of view. Anyway, I've asked Michael to post this for me.

First of all, thank you all for keeping us in your prayers. I'm amazed and humbled by your willingness to pray for someone you have never met and may never meet. I feel like I know all of you just from reading your comments.

I'm having another surgery on Tuesday... I'm sure Michael will keep you updated. So this Sunday is the last Sunday that I will be leading the musical portion of our worship service for quite a while. Our singing isn't our "worship time"... the whole service is worship, and when we sing we are worshiping God with songs of praise.

A good portion of our music team is going to be gone this Sunday. This means one of two things... we either find songs for which I have sheet music or we sing just hymns. As I sat in front of the computer screen trying to decide which songs to pick, I leaned back in the chair with some praise music softly playing and my feet on the desk. I closed my eyes and my mind started wandering.

When I was asked to lead music at Covenant, I said, after much discussion, "OK... but can we evaluate this in six months or so? I may not like it, or the church may not like me." That was five years ago. So... back to the wandering mind. I was trying to figure out what it was I loved so much about leading music at Covenant. I don't get paid. We have a modest budget. And I can't play any musical instrument (except for the accordion). Don't ask.

Again, back to the wandering mind. I finally realized what it was that made me absolutely love what I do. I have the privilege of seeing everyone's faces while we're all singing. I see a few young women with their eyes closed and smiles on their faces as they sing. I see a 10-year-old girl singing an old hymn and she doesn't need the hymnal because she already knows all the words. I see a man who was broken and close to hitting rock bottom when he first came to Covenant last year. The first few weeks, he would stand up, but he didn't sing. He just stared at the floor. He still doesn't sing very often, but now I see him with his eyes closed as he ever so slightly rocks back and forth to the beat of the music, a hint of a smile on his face, and his head lifted up as if he were soaking up the sun's rays. I see a huge grin on the face of a woman when we sing one of her favorite hymns. And I see Michael... his hands in front of him, palms facing up, as if he were saying, "please sir, may I have some more?" That's what does it for me. That's why I do this.

Thank you, God, for giving me the gift of singing... please accept my singing as my gift to You.

- Amy


Sometimes I look for places to hide.
From the stress.
From the finances.
From the foolish flights of fancy.

Sometimes I look for place to cry.
To unburden my heart.
To lighten my pain.
To permit myself indulgent pity.

Sometimes I rage and regret.
I fail to understand and I am misunderstood.
I am tried and tormented.
I am hurting and unheard.

Thank God it's only sometimes.
Only sometimes that I forget.

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone,
Thou must save, and Thou alone

Father, I think I need more reminders...sometimes.

At Least It's Not The Yankees

I'm not really a baseball fan, but I jumped on the Astro's bandwagon a couple of months ago after I became a "one minute sports anchor" in Waco. It was fun watching the team come back from a major slump this season. I couldn't watch all of last night's game but I saw enough to see how it would likely end.

Congratulations to the Cardinals.

My parents lived in St. Louis before I was born. Although he denies it, I always heard my brother Stan was named for Stan Musiel. In any case, I suppose I should have some loyalty to the Cards.

I lived in New York for many years and went to some Yankee games in the days of Mickey Mantle but I was a Mets fan after 1969.

In San Antonio we have the Spurs...our baseball team, The Missions, is double A...we're not fervent about them.

Boston versus St. Louis in the World Series.

I think I could be happy with either of those teams winning...I would have been happier if the Astros had made it though.

So it goes, we'll always have the Cowboys. least it's Friday.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I Know Two Authors

Chuck's got his book I've got my plug up on the sidebar.

That was so easy, I think I'll take a nap.

Random Thoughts At 1:50 AM

As to Ginger Ale, the last time we flew the flight attendant told my oldest stepdaughter Tiffany that something like 40 percent of the soft drinks they sell are Ginger Ale, yet in grocery stores, convenience stores, etc..... Ginger Ale sales account for less than 10 percent of soft drink sales.

For some reason people drink Ginger Ale on airplanes.

Maybe it's to settle their stomachs.


I saw this picture in the Temple Daily Telegraph moments ago.

I occasionally am sent "songs" unsolicited from people who think I can actually get their songs on their radio. I don't know why.

This morning a Christian group called "" sent me this song.

Be warned it's least it seems really really long at 1:50 in the morning...if you're on dial up don't try it.

I'm not mocking their intent, I'm sure they have good hearts...I must admit I find it amusing at this hour when I'm half awake to think of Satan registering to vote though.
Remember the Schwab Blog!

It's open to all:
Username: schwabwriter
Password: freedom

Pull up a stool....buck tradition...order a Ginger Ale.

Tell everyone...but keep it clean. No one wants to visit a dirty lunch counter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Random Thoughts On The Run

I'm in errand running mode this afternoon and have no time to write. I have to get to the post office, then pick up a check from a client, then rush to get that check deposited into our credit union, before squeezing in a walk and shower before church.

That means I have only a few seconds to pass along some wisdom.

Okay...let's not fool's not wisdom.

It's two completely random thoughts.

First, Compass bank is the worst bank on the planet.

Second,the last time you ordered a ginger ale you were on an airplane.

If you think I'm right about either one, let me know.

Rockadile Tears

This is an interesting story from the Guardian newspaper in London.

Indian girl who weeps stones in plea for help
By Justin Huggler in Delhi

19 October 2004

The girl who wept stones: it sounds like something out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. But according to reports from Jharkhand state in eastern India it is all too real.

A 15-year-old girl called Savitri been admitted to hospital suffering from tiny stones that emerge from the corners of her eyes. Doctors say they have never seen anything like it, and they cannot explain it.

At the girl's village in Jharkhand, they have two explanations. Either she is possessed by an evil spirit, or she is an incarnation of a goddess. But for Savitri, the condition is anything but a blessing. Before the stones emerge, she suffers from excruciating pain in her head. Tiny stones emerge from her ears, nose and mouth as well.

"In some cases, stones have come out from the nose and the ear of some people," said Dr Ragho Saran, an ear, nose and throat specialist who has treated Savitri. "But this is the first time I have even heard of stones coming out of the eyes. Stones are formed due to the high level of calcium in the body. But they are generally found in the gall bladder and kidney."

Savitri and her family are desperate for a cure. Her bedside at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Science has been overrun by reporters, but the family say no one has been able to offer medical help.

And From Beyond The Grave....Spam

I've done a couple stories on similar sites to This one seems to have more legitimate purposes in mind, although paying 30 bucks a month until you're dead so you can tell people stuff you might forget to tell them when you're alive seems a little steep.

I have a feeling my final email from would be, "Sorry, I spent your inheritance on the 30 dollar payments to send you this email."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Score It: Eyelids - 1 Michael - 0

I slept the day away. One of the things about being a one car family and Amy being ill is that she'll often have little things she wants to get done during the day, errands or doctors appointments and more often than not I'm the assigned chauffeur.

That means I'll get home from work only to be greeted by a list of things "we" need to do.

I don't mind this, I especially want to be with her when she meets with doctors because I want to be certain I understand what's going on and I want to spend time with her because...well because I love her. However in truth over the past eight months or so my sleep schedule has not been altered, it's been annihilated. I've adjusted fairly well, but every once in a while there are days when I am a zombie as a result. Today was one of those days. Amy needed to run to the store for one item and I trudged along behind her like a creature from a Wes Craven film. As soon as we got home, I mumbled, "mprhrph Nap."

I vaguely recall her asking, "How long do you want to sleep for?"

I'm fairly certain my response was, "mphapmph until I wake up."

Bless her...she let me waste the day away.

Six hours later I am back.

Six hour naps are actually not good for my sleep schedule either, they throw things off even further, but so it goes. I'll try to get to sleep at a decent hour tonight. If I'm tired in the morning I'll remember I slept for six hours today and try to rationalize away the yawns.

I'm sleep walking through a lot of life these days...I suppose that's to be expected.

I take comfort in remembering I'm dreaming of better days ahead.

Of course, now that I look at this post, I'm not truly certain I'm fully awake anyway.

As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. - Ecclesiastes 5:3

It's Official

I think the post on unscientific link between constipation and rudeness has now resulted in more comments than any other post I've ever written...exceeding the post on folding the pages of books and my dream of Gordon and mullets.

I'm not sure what that says about this blog....or its readers.

Perhaps it portends as to our collective wisdom...we do seem quite full of it....wisdom that is.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Planning In Stead

We're in that planning stage...this is the easy part. We can be clinical and analytical to mask our discomfort and fear.

Tonight I am unable to think beyond this very moment.

Yet I know if I write I risk careening down paths of speculation and insecurity.

So writing is out of tonight's plan.

Perhaps I'll have made better preparations tomorrow.

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
-Psalm 20:4

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Fries That Bind

I felt moved to write this by something I read at about people turning downright mean when they thought they might be denied a flu shot.

Amy and I have been saying to each other for months now that it seems like people in general are getting ruder. These conversations admittedly are often prompted by some freeway driver who cuts us off, tailgates us, or who does some other dangerous maneuver that defies logic if not the standards of common decency. But there have also been incidents where we've been in a store and another customer acted in a manner that could be interpreted as rude and Amy or I will react by saying something lighthearted and hopefully humorous to try to break the tension. It's not uncommon for our attempts at humor to be met with an icy stare or ignored completely.

We've generally chalked up this behavior to people being in a hurry, or worse yet to the fact we're getting older.

However it truly does seem to happen a lot more often these days...and suddenly I've formulated a theory as to why.

Unlike a lot of scientific theories, mine is rather brief and can be summarized in three words: people are constipated.

When I was a kid, and was being particularly, whiney, ornery, or obnoxious, my Mom was known to say, "Sounds like somebody needs a good bowel movement."

At the time, I didn't really know what that meant, although I remember it often left anyone within earshot giggling, which of course made me feel somewhat sheepish. I'm sure the net result was that I quieted down and stopped being a little snot for at least a little while, thus accomplishing my Mother's immediate goal.

Now I'm thinking perhaps Mom deserved more scientific credit for her erudite perception. It was in fact Ex-Laxian enlightenment.

Think about it. We've become a nation of fast food addicts. We shovel barely digestible concoctions into our gullets at a rate never before experienced by mankind. Moreover we order the "super sized" or "biggie" version more often than not and rarely are the words spoken, "oh, and please hold the cheese." If anything we ask for extra cheese.

Are we in fact a society that is angry because our bowels are blocked?

Thank goodness for sites such as

There you can learn that, "the most common cause of constipation is a diet low in fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and high in fats found in cheese, eggs, and meats."

Now I've literally spent minutes searching the Internet for concrete evidence that backed up bowels leads to moodiness, melancholy, if not outright madness. Alas, I have not found definitive proof.

However I'm sure there is anecdotal evidence out there, so let me be clear: I don't want to hear about it.

I think I've probably plumbed this subject far beyond the depths it deserves. Although I realize my theorizing has undoubtedly left few of you, if any, boweled over, at least I feel relieved.

And who knows, maybe I've given you something to sit and ponder.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Homing In On Renewal

Another habitat day....I actually hadn't planned on taking part, but we were behind and short of manpower. Now, I'm tired and taking the easy way out of my writing discipline with a few pictures of our progress.

Oh yes, that's Gordon on a roof again. The guy in the middle...I won't identify the other party simply because the shot it too open to captions.

This time Gordon's roof adventure was uneventful.

All of my day was spent painting...which is always rewarding.

A fresh coat of paint can give almost anything a new perspective.

I need to be reminded of that more I think.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Cool Tool

Geek Alert!

image swiped from

Google is beta testing a new tool, something I found myself using several times already today...a desktop search search for stuff on your computer, not the Internet.

It does a one time indexing of all the documents, mail, etc., on your computer and then you can type in a key word to find it using Google's speedy search technology.

It works great from what I can tell and is far faster than Microsoft's search function (of course that's not saying much)...I mean it's really really faster.

And it's free.

You can download it here.

This ends today's Geek Alert you may now resume your normal geek free lives.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Getting Discovered At Schwab's

I had a bizarre idea the other idea that was more bizarre than usual might be a better way to put it.

Anyway, I was reading Aelki's post about how recruiters are searching blogs to find talented people and I commented that it was sort of like the old Lana Turner legend where she was "discovered" while sitting at the soda fountain at Schwab's Pharmacy near Sunset and Vine. I jokingly said someone should start a "Schwab Blog" where folks could go to get discovered.

So I did.

I'm fairly certain this violates some of Blogger's rules, though I'm not sure why, but I decided to try to create something of an "open source" blog, where anyone could post. I've met a lot of folks who seem intrigued with the idea of blogging but don't want to actually do it...well, here's a chance to try it.

Perhaps you don't want the responsibility of having your own blog or maybe you're a one hit've got one good poem in you which you want to release but after that you're done, maybe you want to write anonymously and be certain there's no way what you write can be traced back to you...or perhaps you want to write great volumes of stuff in hopes of being "discovered", but you're too lazy to set up a blog.

Whatever the've now got a place. Pull up a stool and join the crowd at The Schwab Blog.

It's open to anyone who knows the user name and password, so here they are:



You simply have to go to "" and log in with that username and password.

You're welcome to pass them along. This may turn into a fun place with a bunch of interesting creative stuff on it....or it may sit empty...who knows? I've got this social engineering experiment thing going on lately.

Everything that's written there will be attributed to the "Schwab Writer" unless you sign your name, which you are certainly welcome to do...anonymity is not required. Really very little is required...I'm not going to make up a bunch of rules, nor do I plan to spend my days enforcing them, but I would say that the Schwab Blog won't allow profanity or porn. Everything else, political rants, poems, prayers, boring stuff about your life, pictures of your dog (I think you can post pictures, I'm not sure if blogspot allows that actually), whatever is okay...let's see what happens.

I will say that posts that are offensive will be deleted.

If you don't like that....go start your own blog, I think the name "Crude Blog" is still unclaimed, well...actually someone probably has claimed it, but I don't want to look to find out.

I really don't think that's going to be a problem...I'm hoping it's simply fun and will become another blog I check to see what interesting posts are there...if it should become something that has to be policed it'll go the way of the real Schwab's Pharmacy -

There is also the distinct possibility that Blogger will freak out...I don't really see the harm in trying this, but Blogger might. If so, it will give us an excuse to stomp around and scream about censorship. We'll have a cause and become brothers and sisters in lockstep fighting "the man." We can all wear berets and blame the Republicans or the Democrats or Ralph Nader.

Or we'll shrug and say, "Well so much for that idea...anyone wanna go get a soda?"

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Familiar Frustration With Fatigue, Feedings and Failure.

I am consumed with the "F" words today.

Amy and I spent the afternoon with her surgeon, asking questions to which we sadly already knew the answers.

It's apparent that our plan to diagnose Amy's long term pain hasn't worked. Today the surgeon agreed.

He removed the gastric tube which for months now has been a source of additional pain for Amy. It was amazing how quickly it came out...I wasn't even able to make a "Pop!" sound with my index finger and my cheek in time.

There's a lesson there I suppose... the root of many pains are often easily removed...once you find them.

Unfortunately, that was only the source of Amy's most recent pain....her long term agony has not subsided.

So now she will spend a few days healing, and then go back to being fed through a central line. The upside is that for a few days at least she will be completely unfettered from formula and feedbags.

There is a downside too.

This is a long road and it has now brought us face to face with the familiar and the frightening... the operating room.

Amy will undergo major gastric "revision" surgery within the next two weeks. This is not something that was entirely unexpected, although we had certainly hoped to avoid it.

It is risky...more risky than any surgery Amy has endured thus far, and we are both fatigued and frustrated. There is a sense of resignation as well.

But this is where the path has taken us...even when we've retraced our steps we have returned to this spot.

So we will cast the other "F" words aside and fall back on the one that has been stout and steadfast.

The one on which we have relied upon the most.

The one that has yet to fail us.

We will have faith.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


A friend of mine emailed me yesterday and mentioned that he Googled "Michael Main Blog" and my blog came up as the first listing. That's always cool.
I did have to confess to him that if you type in "McGriddle Recipe" in Google I also come up as the first entry.

One day I'll figure that out. was a frustrating day...I wasted too much of it on silly stuff... financial stuff, primarily caused by !Yahoo bill pay and the extremely frustrating way they do business (they don't have a phone number, you have to email them).

I thought of my frustrations...and McGriddles, and my friend and it led me to remember the art of Google bombing. For the uninitiated, that's the practice of associating two seemingly unrelated things on various web pages to the point where Google decides the two are associated. Thus, in some cyber sense of justice they become forever related.

It started out as a joke, now it's done on grand scales by people with political agendas, and the like.

I thought...why not?

I spent much of the past two days in frustrating conversations with Target over a minor late fee which, after detective work Colombo would envy, led me to the realization that !Yahoo Bill Pay sent our payment to an account that had been closed for 2 years. I don't know why !Yahoo Bill Pay did this since I couldn't get an answer from them. They don't have a phone number and after numerous attempts to convey my disappointment with their service via their "on line customer service" system, I decided that was a further waste of my time so I simply cancelled our affiliation. Our bill pay service now is run by our credit union...which has a telephone. People answer it...real people...answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

That's how I think things should be done if you're going to trust people with your money...since !Yahoo Bill Pay does not think that way I began to think of them as, well..untrustworthy.

Anyway...if you should have a blog, or a web page, or perhaps you comment a lot on other people's web pages, and would like to take part in a social cyber other words, if you're really really bored, you might consider humoring me since I've had a frustrating day and all - okay I'm easily amused - by periodically dropping in the term "untrustworthy" into whatever you are writing. If when you write the word "untrustworthy" you might also link it to !Yahoo Bill Pay,'d have the satisfaction of knowing that you have amused me..and, if I haven't mentioned it, I've had a frustrating day.

The topic of your writings need not deal whatsoever with !Yahoo bill pay, but if the adjective "untrustworthy" fits in any capacity into your thoughts, well..consider it fate or maybe it's the power of suggestion...or just admit you have a maniacal evil streak and this is certainly a better outlet for it than Jeffrey Dahmer or almost everyone name Wayne would choose...who knows?

For those of you who don't know how to embed a link, the code would look like this: >a href="" < untrustworthy >/a< except all the arrows (< ) would face the other direction.

I'm trusting that it won't take you long to master the ability to embed such a link for a simple word like untrustworthy.

It also shouldn't take long to see the results...probably in a week or two if you go to Google and type in untrustworthy you will see Yahoo Bill Pay as the first choice.

Of course, if you are not interested in such silliness, certainly do not feel compelled to take part. I won't consider you untrustworthy or anything. I'll understand completely. Not everyone has the time to waste on such endeavors and for all I know some of you might think my motives are...well...untrustworthy. That's certainly well within your rights and not unthinkable by any means.

For the record, there is no clear leader in Google currently if you search for "untrustworthy" so it's not like we'd be usurping someone from an honor they richly deserve.

Admittedly this is about the most worthless thing I've written in a long time...even less fulfilling than a McGriddle I suspect, although I still haven't eaten a McGriddle.

And no, I don't know the recipe.

Monday, October 11, 2004

See Who For Is The Three?

Amy and I are expecting a free copy of Gordon's book. We're cheap that way.

However the other day, while we had the money, I bought three copies for gifts.

One is for my Aunt, who helped raise me during a few of my many rebellious teen years. I think it will make a great Christmas gift. She doesn't read this blog; at least I don't think she does -Kathy if you do read, now you have the joy of anticipation if not surprise.

The second copy is for my sister-in-law Mary Kay, she doesn't read this blog either, but it's not a Christmas gift anyway. Mary Kay is getting a copy of the book because Gordon leads our church family each week in our prayer requests and each week for years now one of those prayer requests has been for Mary Kay. I think I've only mentioned it here once in passing that Mary Kay is recovering from breast cancer.

The other day, Cynthia and I were talking before church, as we often do since her husband is on the music team so we're both at church early while our respective spouses are practicing music, and she asked if I could send out a picture of Mary Kay, so she could visualize this person who had become part of her regular prayer life.

I thought that was such a cool thing to ask. I sent out the picture to the church family this evening.

That's Mary Kay on the right. My brother, who in this shot appears like someone who might be in the witness protection program, is flanking my niece Chelsea.

For the record, Mary Kay is doing well these days....realizing Chelsea is only 14 years old though is fostering a whole new round of prayer requests in my mind.

The third copy of the book? I've changed my mind a couple of times on who will receive that one.

I suspect whoever gets it is going to have to meet a couple of criteria...first they're not going to mind getting a slightly dog eared book since I keep picking it up to read, and occasionally I get a little weepy, so there may be some tear stains on it. After writing this, the other requirement seems rather obvious...the third recipient will likely have to be someone who doesn't read my blog.

That leaves it pretty wide open.


You have been calling me out of the corner of my eye for days now, and I have been ignoring you. Today, since I'm off work and therefore not completely reliant on a working computer I decided to answer bow to your wishes, to admit I am at your mercy.

Yes, Microsoft...I am installing "Service Pack 2" for Windows XP as I write this...and lo though I type through the valley of the shadow of computer chaos, I shall fear some computer glitch that will render me helpless, computer-less...dare I say

But I have no will continue to beseech me, flashing a little message saying "new updates are ready to install" to a point of annoyance, until I give in...I know you and me too well. There is no sense in delaying the inevitable.

I have done my best to prepare. I have backed up my registry, created a system restore point, removed a program I have been warned might cause conflicts...and now I simply fall before you and say, "Proceed."

Will I be changed for the better? Will it be painless?

I know not.

Will I be spending the next 3 days undoing the damage caused by this one seemingly simple choice? This I don't know either.

It is a gamble. I am stepping out of the boat...having it hurts simply to give name to it, but it is so....I am trusting...Microsoft.

"God, please help me...I fear I know exactly what I do."

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Targeting Your Fortune

Today was a day of rest...after staying up too late, and getting up too early, I fell asleep this afternoon. I should have stayed that way...I was greeted by a "late payment" fee notice from Target Visa in email (G'morning!")

After checking with my on line bank account and my on line bill paying service I called Target to say the bill had been paid 4 days in advance of its due date. Their answer, "No it wasn't."

I asked how the money could be removed from account, how my on line bill paying service could record the bill as paid and yet they couldn't.

Target's reply, "You should have used OUR on line payment system or phone payment system."


I went back to check with banks and bill pays, and send emails. I called Target again and asked them to waive the 35 dollar late fee (is there a credit card company that is NOT a crook?) and was told by some kid who answered the phone they'd waive 17 dollars.

I asked how he arrived at that amount and he said...and this is the truth, "I put in your request and that's the number that came back."

I had this vision of some financial 8-ball that they shake...."How much should we waive oh Swami of the 8-ball?"

Instead of the usual response of "Outlook not so good" or "It is decidedly so" I got "$17."

I had to laugh. I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz.

Anyway, I wasted the early evening on this non-sense...luckily I'm off work this next week, so I can spend hours and hours getting my fortune if I had a fortune.

I think instead of banks, bill payers, and eight balls I'll spend the rest of the night with my wife, and consider myself truly fortunate.

Side By Side

I stayed up too late reading other people's blogs. It's been a long day. Today our little team spent the entire day putting up siding at the Habitat house we're working on. It's rewarding to do a job where you can walk away from it at the end of the day and see what you've accomplished.

click to enlarge

I'm going to try to remember that in the morning when the "reward" may feel more like aches and pains.

Friday, October 08, 2004

God With A Capital D

When it comes to God I should get a D.

There have been times in my life when I have denied the existence of God, not only long ago, but recent times when I have been in the throws of pain or pity...sometimes both. I've also denied His love...and in turn denied Him mine.

I try to deny those times exist...but God knows. He can't be deceived.

There have been times I have tried to define God. I once took a sociology class where that was actually on a test: define God. I defined Him as a "universal sense of moral ambition personified for the purpose of worship." That was when I still thought God could be defined.

There were times when I debated God. I challenged all comers to prove Him to me...including God Himself.
I now think how delusional that was and how disingenuous.

Oh yes, when it comes to God I should get a D.

I have been distracted, detached, and distant from God during my life. I have been disillusioned, dismayed, and distraught.

Thank God I have also been delighted...and delivered.

Don't get me wrong, I've often felt defeated by God. I have fallen to my knees and cried, "You win...I am helpless without You."

I thought those were dark days. Now I deem them worthy of deep and ardent devotion. I wasn't defeated; I was finally defenseless...and mercifully no longer deaf to God's God's His grace.

There have been times when I have doubted God.
I've wondered aloud how He could allow suffering, why He didn't simply make everything perfect for everyone.

That was before I devoted a fraction of time to actually look for the answers. That particular one is easy to find by the way, it's in the first book of the Bible.

Ironically, I've even had times where I actually thought people who doubted God couldn't ever know God or that my faith was stronger than theirs.

That was before I met David and the other psalmists, before I read their cries of doubt, and damnation…before I listened to their determined dreams.
That was before my mind dwelled with the men who even in seeing God still asked for we now call disciples.

That was before I devoured the words - the dramatic dynamic words - "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"

When it comes to God I deserve a D.

One day I hope He deems me worthy.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Truly Scary

Now this picture is really scary

click photo to enlarge
The Habitat house is coming along. We were rained out last weekend. This weekend will be a lot of work. People are starting to look at me like I know what I'm doing, which is truly frightening.

I feel much better about my handyman skills today though after reading the latest adventures of my friend John.

Even I know how to fix a towel Amy.

The Fast And The Curious

Boy, that was fast. I decided recently to periodically change the profile picture on the blog...okay, I decided to do it because I still have this phone Sprint sent me to try (they want me to keep it another couple of weeks to try out a new service by the way).

I took a strange picture...altered it...posted it...published the blog and within seconds got an email from a friend saying, "that picture of you is freakin' me something about it!"

Modern communication you've got to love it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Lost & Found

It's one of those days to clear out the clutter in my blog fodder closet.

My friend, Harlan - who is getting too many mentions here lately - pointed me to Found Magazine some weeks back when I was fixated on all the stuff I was finding during my daily walks. It's a neat little site to peruse...I'm not sure what you call people into this type of thing...litter voyeurs?

I'd think I'd like it more if there were an area where you could make up stories around the stuff people find....might give a new meaning to the phrase "trashy novels." Litterature?

I found a story today about a guy running for President (don't worry I'm not going political again). Earl Dodge is running under the banner of the Prohibition party.

As you might suspect the Prohibition Party wants to gradually ban alcohol, up the drinking age, and increase penalties for drunk driving. The party platform also includes statements against "the homosexual agenda," pornography and gambling.

This, of course, got me wondering what other parties were out there that I was missing.

I imagine Prohibition Party members would prefer not to hobnob with folks from the Monster Raving Loony Party who seem rather intent on consuming alcohol and appear to be a bit less rigid.

The candidate running under the NeoWhig party banner though seems like he could form a coalition government with the Raving Loonies.

His campaign slogans include "Four More Beers" and one of his press releases accuses John Kerry of toilet papering his house.

There are numerous others...the Get Pushy Party...the Scorched Earth Party... they both seem rather nasty so I'm not putting up links to them. Some are pretty scary...many are very weird. Some hark back to days of old, like the Christian Falangist Party, which says it's "dedicated to fighting the "Forces of Darkness" which seeks to destroy our Western Christian Civilization." Their symbol is the Crusader's Cross.

I think though if I were going to write in a third party candidate I'd vote for the nominee from this party...once they admit who it is...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

"Over Analyzing"

I mentioned I switched browsers to Firefox, which the more I use the more I love...there's this one niggling little thing that's been driving me nuts. It's something no one would notice but I've wasted about 30 minutes now and I'm stopping.

I added a different site meter (I know I don't believe in site meters) but I saw it on Katy's blog and thought it would be interesting to compare statistics from what my web server tells me with the hit counter I have had up as well as a third source. I don't remember why I thought that would be interesting, but I did it...that's how a lot of things are in my life...I sometimes forget the reasons I started doing them but once I've committed myself I don't look back...possibly out of fear of actually being committed.

For the record, they all give me three different numbers, but the new one from does seem to provide more information, what use I have for that information I have no idea - by the way people still come here looking for McGriddle sandwich recipes - but all of this is really beside the point.

There is a point...sort of. When I set up the template for the blog all my little icons for various services I subscribed to for reasons I don't remember now all lined up neatly in the bottom right hand corner of the page. At least they do when you view the page in Firefox...but when you look at it in Internet Explorer now a couple are of out of kilter.

I'm certain this is only a matter of a tinkering to get it to look right in both browsers, I'm also certain no one on the planet gives a hoot about this besides me (although my friend Harlan who gives me badly needed grammar instructions - which make no mistake I do truly appreciate - might branch out to HTML one day).

So I tinkered...but now Blogger is suddenly refusing to let me update my template anyway, so I've wasted 30 45 minutes.

I have to change the template back, because I won't remember what I changed when Blogger does start working right again - I've learned a few things from past experience - so in essence this episode has been a complete waste of time.

To top it all off, not only have I wasted time doing this...I've also actually written about wasting time which I think is the literary equivalent to putting a mirror in front of a mirror...

I'm straining at gnats.

image swiped from

If Dr. Freud were here I'm certain he'd say, "Ju are joost over anal I zink."

Admittedly, that may gain something in the translation.

Slap Happy For Jesus

Sometimes our political and religious difference seem to loom large.

And sometimes they seem more like the script from a Three Stooges episode.

Or in this case....the two stooges.

Monday, October 04, 2004

A Kiss Is But A Kiss

It was an odd feeling that came over me this morning at work...the thought I might have shared a kiss with a Nobel Prize winner.

My first real kiss was in the 7th grade under the stairwell of what we called "Junior High" in Garden City, New York with a girl named Linda Buck. I don't think I really even knew her, but as is often the case of young boys and young girls, it is the girls who are the aggressors in instigating relationships. That truth probably extends way beyond the teen years, although many men may not want to admit it.

Anyway, all I recall is that I learned Linda "liked" me and that was about all it took to convince me I liked her too. Soon we were under a stairwell and we kissed. I don't remember it being particularly wondrous, but I certainly have no bad memories associated with it. It was my first kiss. I believe Linda and I "went steady," whatever that meant back then, for a week or two. I may have even given her a hurriedly purchased I.D. bracelet to prove my devotion. We may also have gone to a dance together, but I'm not big on dancing now, so I'm certain I was even less keen on dancing then.

The relationship ended quickly, I know that much. I don't really remember how or why, probably due to lack of interest. If I were writing an autobiography that story might have proved to be good foreshadowing for my first lasted about as long and was only slightly deeper emotionally.

Any way, I thought of Linda Buck this morning while writing news when the reports came out of Stockholm that the Nobel Prize for medicine had been awarded. One of the winners was a woman named Linda Buck.

I knew it was a long shot, but my curiosity got the better of me so I went in search of more information.

First I found her picture.

Now, it was 34 or 35 years ago that I was in 7th grade. I have no idea what Linda Buck looked like then, much less now. For all I knew that could be her...the girl I kissed under the stairs could have actually won a Nobel prize for research on how people smell, well not how they smell, but how the process of smelling know what I mean.

I searched further. I found stories about the various other honors Linda Buck had won, and that too didn't dissuade me. After all, the first girl I kissed could have been brilliant.

Alright that's a stretch, but it's not completely inconceivable.

Then I found her bio....

She's not my Linda Buck. She's ten years my senior and although Linda under the stairs did seem a bit more practiced than I was in areas of ardor, I'm certain she wasn't a 23 year old seventh grader who went on to win one of the most prestigious prizes in science.

It doesn't take a Nobel scientist to realize that doesn't smell right.

Yet this morning's flight of fancy was fun while it lasted, much like that first kiss I suppose.

From The Other Side Of The Looking Glass

These are nothing more than a few shots of Gordon and crew as he chatted with folks from around the world today. What an interesting day, one I hope we will repeat in some form or fashion.

This is "Stan" the techno-wizard responsible for setting things up today. He's also Steven's dad. Anyone who sat at the terminal had to wear the hat.

I'm fairly certain that was to prevent blackmail.

Click to enlarge
This was one of the signs that didn't show up on the web cam...probably a good thing since I noticed the misspelling later.

I have no idea why Gordon and John posed like Superheroes.

Click to enlarge
For a picture taken with a phone camera, I love this shot. To me it captures that sense of isolation, joy and madness that I know I've felt at times while writing.

Talk Bubbles

It was like the chat room days of old today.

It brought back memories. There were some exciting moments.

I may write about it later...or maybe I'll write about the first girl I ever kissed and the Nobel prize for medicine.

Sometimes my mind is like a fish out of water.

Open To Ideas

Real Live Preacher is having a "virtual book signing" today. I really am thinking of stopping by on my way home from work and holding up small signs behind him as the web cam clicks away and people log on to chat.

Some that spring to mind are:
"Let's debate doctrine!"
"Buy 5 books and I'll show my bald spot!"
"Not wearing pants"

I'm soliciting ideas.

I probably won't go through with it...but Lyle the guy whose setting up the web cam might :)
I could print the signs before I leave work.

Suddenly I'm aspiring to become a human is so ironic.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Author

I've never been to a book signing before. I know there will never be one like today's again. It was intimate and heartfelt. There wasn't a crush of "fans" lining up at the door... but there was a throng of family sharing a major milestone with someone we all love.

Amy and I got there early and savored the time...we wore name tags reading "Evangelina" and "Pepe."

We were able to experience the laughter and the quiet.

There were a lot of good hugs...and an abundance of tasty tamales.

The crowd grew but the atmosphere didn't change, except when Gordon read one of his wondrous stories aloud.

Then the crowd grew quiet and I had to hold Amy close as she sobbed. It was a painful story with which we were too familiar.

I actually wrote about it once too, from my perspective and lacking Gordon's eloquence.

This is why I know there will never be another book signing like today's...because we shared tamales, and laughter. Pseudonyms and pain....and all of it was a celebration...of a man's achievements, and of God's many wonders.

One author signed our books today as another Author reminded us His story is etched upon our hearts.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

His Political Story

I'll never be a political blogger.

The only presidential candidate I ever campaigned for was John Anderson in 1980. I thought he was brilliant, until he realized what everyone already knew...that he wasn't going to win. So he sold his ideals for campaign donations. I'm certain that's when I stopped believing in what politicians said, and instead started watching what they did. I'm glad I learned the lesson early.

I've met a lot of politicians and elected officials over the years.

I met Gerald Ford in 1992. I was early for a press conference for a Republican candidate for Congress and found myself alone in a room full of food at a fancy hotel in downtown San Antonio. I was stuffing my face with donuts when I felt a tap on my shoulder. My first thought was, "Oh man, it's going to be some political flak telling me the food is for the campaign contributors."

I turned around and there was Gerald Ford. He reached out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Gerald Ford."

I shook his hand while looking around nervously. There was no one else in the room with us. No secret service, no entourage, only me...Gerald Ford and a plentiful supply of donuts.

My first words were, "Hi...I'm Michael President aren't there supposed to be people around guarding you from people like me?"

He laughed and said he didn't require that much attention and was staying at the hotel so he decided to come down to the banquet hall early. We exchanged small talk for a few moments before the political flaks and the candidate (who's now a congressman) arrived and quickly whisked Mr. Ford as far away from me as possible.

They let me stay by the donuts though.

I first met George W. Bush in 1991. It wasn't over donuts. He was at our radio station campaigning for his father's re-election. At that time, George W. had not held any office and he wasn't very good in dealing with the flurry of conservative talk radio callers who were critical of his father....that "read my lips" flip flop really ticked off those folks, as evidenced by how the 1992 election turned out. I suppose though, George W. was like any son, anxious to defend his dad, but he was obviously uncomfortable and unpolished.

The next time I had a chance to actually speak with him was in 1995 when he was Governor of Texas. It was at an event promoting changes in the state's adoption laws to make it easier for people to adopt, cut through the red tape, and find good homes for more kids in need. The event was held at another San Antonio hotel and it attracted only a handful of local reporters so it was fairly intimate. Mr. Bush was a completely different person from the guy I remembered. His wife was with him and he was charismatic and charming. It was obvious he was passionate about the issue of children and it was obvious as well that he was more comfortable with himself.

I liked that George W. Bush. I still like him, though I see the uncomfortable and unpolished parts of him still.

Bill Clements was governor when I worked in Austin. I never had an intimate conversation with him, but I covered a lot of his events and press conferences. He seemed to always be dressed in a brown polyester suit. Clements was an old school Texas oil man.

He leased an oil rig to the government of Mexico which blew out - dumping millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There were tar balls on beaches from Corpus Christi to the Bay of Campeche. When asked about it Clements said it was "much ado about nothing" and we should "pray for a hurricane."

Quotes like that are like manna from Heaven to a young radio reporter.

While his sense of propriety was non-existent, Clements' sense of humor was often overlooked.

When told that the very liberal Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower was learning to speak Spanish, Clements said, "Oh good. Now he'll be bi-ignorant."

Bill Clements was probably as good of a judge of ignorance as anyone.

When I met Ann Richards she was a County Judge. She was funny and passionate. She surrounded herself with people who were passionate too...but many of them were young and inexperienced. They ended up hurting her career and distorting her judgment. They convinced her that George W. Bush didn't stand a chance of defeating her.

Jim Mattox was the State Attorney General when I met him. He was blunt and offended a lot of people with his bullying ways. I got to know him when I covered his trial on commercial bribery charges. He was acquitted, but it tainted him with enough stink to derail his political future. He lost his bid to become Governor to Ann Richards. Some people say Jim Mattox, who abandoned plans to become a Baptist preacher to become a lawyer, was a crook. All I know is that the Jim Mattox I saw in front of the camera was the same guy I saw when the cameras went away.

John Sharp was the State Comptroller for many years - a powerful position in Texas. He was funny and charming, and always good for a clever sound bite. He appeared to work hard at saving taxpayers money, but when you really looked at what he did, he simply shuffled numbers from one column to was mostly slight of hand with a few press releases thrown in for good measure. He was only the second politician I've ever met who didn't hide his hypocrisy from the press. He'd give a wonderful caring speech to school kids, and then walk over to a group of reporters and tell the filthiest jokes I've ever heard. I learned new cuss words from John Sharp.

The only other politician I've met whose hypocrisy was so blatant was a County Commissioner in Montgomery County in East Texas, but I don't think he even realized he was a hypocrite. I won't name him, but he was a former professional boxer who milked his fame into a minor political career. I only met him once. I wanted to interview someone for a story I was doing about Cut and Shoot Texas. He met me at the Cut and Shoot post office for the interview and when we were done he mentioned he was thinking of running for statewide office...Texas Land Commissioner. He said he thought he could help out the people of Texas. I had no reason to doubt him until -as I stood there, microphone still in hand, tape recorder still running - he said to me without blinking, "I just have to figure out how to git the nigger vote."

I was so stunned, I don't think I even replied except to say that if he ever decided to run to please....please call me. He never ran...I never used that tape.

When I first came to San Antonio I grew close to an up and coming State Representative who I thought broke the mold. He was a Harvard graduate, a Texas democrat which meant he was fiscally conservative but more moderate on social issues. He hated the hypocrisy of politicking - glad handing and money raising - and told me as much when I first met him face to face. We had spoken often on the phone, but I didn't meet him in person until several years later. He was devoutly religious, and had abandoned plans to join the clergy to become a prosecutor. He was honest and humble and didn't seem to care about money. I actually considered going to work for him at one time, but something stopped me from giving it more serious thought...probably the memory of John Anderson.

He went on to become a State Senator and then a crusading Texas Attorney General. He even ran for Governor.

Today Dan Morales is a convicted felon. He's serving four years in prison for tax and mail fraud on a plea bargain stemming from his attempts to line his own pockets and the pockets of his friends with some of the 17 billion dollars he strong armed out of the tobacco industry for the state.

No...I'll never be a political blogger. There's too much personal history for me to give any type of objective opinion.

I do believe though that we should learn from history. That's why back in July I bookmarked something that Katy at wrote.

Maybe you'll think it's worth reading and remembering too.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Bombs Away

I never do it, but today I did. I dropped the media bomb.

It's tempting for me when dealing with obstinate folks on personal matters, especially financial matters, to casually mention that I'm a member of the media. I don't do it though.

Well, let's say I've almost never done it. I have shown up at the door when some repairman had been called to the house wearing a shirt which happened to have a radio station call letters on it. Once or twice I've left my business card out conspicuously when I've dropped my car off for repairs at an auto mechanic I didn't really trust, but if I'm in a dispute with someone over a bill I have a rule not to mention I'm a broadcaster or make implied threats that I could use my position to damage their reputation.

There are two reasons for, I have a smattering of ethics and secondly, I'm not really that powerful of a guy. I believe if you're going to threaten someone you better be able to back it up. It's not like I'm Mike Wallace, who cares what I think?

Today though, I made a small exception for the folks at Citi Card. I never do it, but today I did. I dropped the media bomb.

These are the people who were charging us 28.7% interest on a credit card until I moved every dime of it off. These are the folks who when I took over the family finances I called first since I had been a customer for 20 or more years and I thought they'd listen to me. These are the heartless money grubbers who wouldn't budge an inch. They didn't care at all about my circumstances, had no plans to change the interest rate, and in fact actually tried to sell me some type of insurance instead. I didn't have a lot of love for them, let's put it that way.

I paid them off, cancelled the account and that was that....until today.

Today I got a bill from Citi Card for 47 bucks which said it was some type of finance charge for the previous balance prior to my paying off the entire balance. It didn't make sense, so I called them. I asked how it was possible that I could be required to pay a finance charge on a card that I had paid off in full weeks ago. The guy I spoke with gave me the same line about it being a finance charge that wasn't included in my final payout total. Maybe I'm dim (no affirmation needed, please) but I still didn't get it.

That's when I dropped the bomb. I said I was a broadcaster and this had sparked my interest enough that I was considering a story on credit card fees and how they worked. I asked if he could send me their policy in writing, along with a written guarantee that my account had been closed and that I also wanted something in writing stating that if I paid the 47 dollars I would not accrue additional finance charges ever again.

I think I only mentioned broadcaster once. I know I never mentioned any radio station or my company. I may have mentioned the words "consumer finance story" but I'm certain that was it.


The next thing I knew I was talking to a very pleasant woman who worked in Public Relations. I was a little startled, but I explained the whole thing again to her. She was extremely polite and seemed genuinely distressed about my 47 dollars. She then promised "a President" would call me back.

I wasn't sure what that meant, but I waited by the phone. No President ever called...not President Bush, not Bill Clinton, not Jimmy Carter, not even Gerald Ford, and I've actually met Gerald Ford...we'd at least have something to talk about although I tend to doubt he'd be interested in my 47 dollars. Then again, he's not exactly in high demand these days.

After a few hours, most of which I spent firing off emails to members of Congress, the FTC, banking commissioners and the like, I decided to start the entire process over again this time vowing not to mention broadcasting at all.

I spoke with another very courteous woman; explained the entire story and began to repeat my request for written confirmation, etc when she stopped me mid-sentence. She said, "Mr. Main didn't anyone call you to tell you they were refunding the 47 dollars?"


She assured me that was the case and I would be receiving written confirmation that the account had been paid in full and closed permanently.

I'm pleased of course, but I'm also a little disturbed by it all.

It seemed too easy.

I suppose dropping bombs probably always seems too easy in retrospect…at least I sort of hope so.