Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sale O The Century

Today was one of those days...we spent yesterday hauling furniture and other items out of a friend's old house to help her sell this weekend at a garage sale at our house along with the junk crap gently used items we have piled crammed neatly stacked in our home.

As a result I slept the day away and it seems senseless to go back to sleep now so I'm probably going to spend a little time with Amy and go to work early.

Actually Erin our personal organizer (Erin's organizing skills can be purchased by the way - blatant plug) has set aside stuff into piles which should make putting the piles out on the lawn and slapping "for sale" signs on them easier.

Erin went out of town for a couple of days and so our primary goal is to get all the crap junk gently used items which we crammed stuffed neatly placed in the garage out of there before she comes home to see how quickly we've disorganized what she organized. Of course if we were to sell some things in the process that would be nice too.

The other issue we're dealing with is something of a moral dilemma - almost all of the items we are selling for our friend are far nicer than the crap junk gently used items we have in our home so I suspect this is going to turn into something of an internal swap meet: we take her table and put it in our living room and then toss our table out in the yard to sell...we take her chairs and put them in our house and then put our crumbling crappy gently used chairs up for sale. In the end our friend will get about 6 bucks out of the sale and we'll get new furniture.

I see only one real flaw in this plan - we can never let our friend in our house again lest she notice that she's furnished our home.

We haven't figured out that part of the plan yet....but the night is young.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Picture Perefct

"Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" - Gold Hat in "Treasure Of Sierra Madre."

The company has issued new identification badges to get in our building. Which means the most commonly heard phrase at my office today was, "My picture looks terrible!"

I was among those uttering that phrase. I have lost weight but the camera is supposed to add ten pounds, this shot looks like it took off about 30. I feel like I should post this photo with the message, "for as little as 52 cents a day you could feed this man."

I showed it to Amy and she shrieked...she says I look like a P.O.W..

Personally I think I look like I'm about 80 and it also subjects my gender to some debate.

Mercifully I am not required to actually wear my badge, I only need it to get in the door, so it is already entrenched in my wallet where it won't scare any children...or me.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to an American icon...

The Twinkie is turning 75 years old.

By the way Hostess says they don't last 75 years. The company claims Twinkies have a shelf life of 25 days.

Of course they probably live on in your arteries for decades.

As to the origins of the Twinkies, again according to Hostess:
Twinkies were invented by Jimmy Dewar, manager of the Schiller Park bakery near Chicago, in 1930. He wanted to make better use of the shortcake pans that were used only during strawberry season, so he made spongy yellow cakes and injected them with banana cream. He came up with the name Twinkie when he saw a sign for "Twinkle Toe" shoes in St. Louis, Mo. Cream filling replaced the banana filling when there was a banana shortage during World War II.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Best Part Of Waking Up

Amy is on cloud nine...she's landed her dream job - bussing tables and schmoozing with people at Starbucks.

Admittedly this is not the job that's going to right our financial ship, but it's a big step for Amy. She feels healthy enough to work at least part time and quite honestly she loves Starbucks, not simply the coffee, but the culture.

She worked there very briefly several years ago until she was offered a job more in line with her talents. She loved Starbucks and didn't want to leave, but it didn't seem to make sense - primarily to me - to turn down a more "button down" job to be a "Barista."

I was wrong. The job she took may have carried more prestige, but it didn't pay all that well and certainly didn't pay enough to justify the emotional and physical strain she endured.

Now of course there are other issues which make Starbucks seem like a God send. Amy needs a flexible schedule since we're a one car family...she can at times have some short term memory problems and was a little worried about having to remember drink orders from the crazed and caffeine deprived. She won't have to mess with making drinks or working the cash register. She'll be able to work hours that fit her schedule that won't hopefully drain her physically much less emotionally. Amy is still healing and no job is worth putting a stumbling block in front of that process.

Apparently Starbucks has never hired anyone for this position ever...anywhere. It's for someone to keep all the tables tidy, supplies stocked and most importantly - at least to Amy - to "mingle" with customers at one of Starbucks busiest locations (which happens to be only a couple miles from our home). Evidently at every other Starbucks in the world those duties are divided up among the staff, but the folks at this particular store convinced the company they were so busy there was a need for someone to do this job and only this job during their peak hours.

The company took a chance creating the position and I gather that the people in charge of the store have been praying they would find someone to make it prove to the company they were right.

The people who hired Amy were quite obviously dismayed someone with Amy's résumé and skills - not to mention previous salary history - would want the job.

Amy was equally dismayed. She can't believe anyone would turn down such a position. She loves people, loves coffee, and doesn't want to stand behind a counter shouting out drink orders. She interviewed yesterday...they hired her today.

The folks at Starbucks are overjoyed - they've got someone who's not a bashful 17 year old mingling with customers, who knows everything about coffee and who understands what customer service really means. They've also hired someone who is not simply looking for a "summer job."

I wasn't there, but I'm certain as soon as Amy walked out of the interview the interviewers were high-fiving each other.

So Amy will get out of the house a few hours a week and go to Starbucks...and they'll pay her!

She'll get a free pound of coffee a week (okay, I have my ulterior motives too) and the money she earns we can keep outside our "budget" in a completely separate bank account to hopefully use for small spur-of-the-moment purchases and to augment our "date" fund.

Amy still has other sideline jobs that pay a little here and a little there, fixing computers, doing some web work but this is her first steady job "outside" the house in a long while. It's a big step.

It's also a big lesson...for me.

In the past couple of years like many folks we've felt the pressures of finances and fate. We wrestled with worry and tangled with trauma. We've done without and come to grips with forgoing desires.

We've come to know fear and confront confusion.

But in the process we've discovered some wondrous things, not the least of which is the true value of money.

We've come to recognize those things in life of real worth.

Invariably there are no dollar signs on them.

Healthy days. Content and independent children. Time together. True friendships.

The fulfillment of a job enjoyed.

And occasionally a truly good cup of overpriced coffee.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. - Psalm 126:3

Monday, April 25, 2005

Off Play

Ah...the NBA playoffs are here.

I spent last night at Gordon's home - Gordon has cable - with my father-in-law watching the Spurs perform miserably. They couldn't do me the favor of playing lousy from the outset...they had to grind it out to the end. Hence I am awake a couple hours later...ready to head into work knowing I could have spent that time sleeping.

It was an enjoyable evening.

This morning, on the other hand, is distinctly lacking in beneficial qualities.

There may be only one saving grace.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Happy B-Day Joseph!

My step-son Joey turns 22 today.

He's an artist. Although this is another artist's rendition of him.

He's also become a blogger.

Knowing Joey...this is only the beginning.

You are greatly gifted, and a great gift in my life.

Happy Birthday.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Out Of My Ivy League

It was an odd sensation this morning...besides the fact my alarm went off at four a.m. on a Saturday. I had to drive our oldest child, Tiffany, to the airport. She flew out at 6 a.m. bound for Logan International in Boston and then into the bowels of Beantown - the subway system that will take her to Harvard.

She's checking out the school for a few days before starting her Master's program there in the fall.

She had everything planned out with maps showing which subways to take. She knows where she will be staying, who she needs to talk to about financial aid, and what classes she wants to sit in on before she comes back.

She's got it all handled.

She is completely independent.

I hugged her and sent her on her way. I groggily drove home thanking God she still at least needed someone...if only to drive her to the airport.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sweet Dreams

I'm about to call it a night. Amy and I will crawl into our king sized bed.

Tonight I may find the mattress a bit uncomfortable though.

We spent a portion of this evening listening to a young woman who is tirelessly devoting a portion of her life to sleep - not her own - the sleep of orphans in the nation of Moldova.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. The average income is 30 dollars a month. It's so poor many parents leave the country seeking work elsewhere. In the process they routinely leave their children too. Some promise to come back...most never do.

I lost my parents when I was a was hard, but there were relatives to fill the gap...there was always a bed for me.

That's not the case in Moldova.

A number of groups and individuals are working to build and operate orphanages for thousands of these kids. Their futures are not bright. Many have lived their lives in institutions and are not prepared for the harsh realities they will face at an all too early age. Many will confront those realities alone and the cycle of poverty will continue.

People like the young woman we spoke with tonight are hoping that some of those kids will at least come to know they have God to lean upon in the years ahead. She's also hoping the kids will have beds to sleep in.

Simple beds. Beds you and I would probably complain about or reject as completely inadequate.

I will crawl into bed tonight and realize what a soft life I live.

The young woman we spoke with tonight quit her job - a rather prominent position - because she heard about the Moldova orphans and in the process heard the call of God asking her to help these abandoned children sleep.

She put together a very simple program where the kids themselves build bed frames. They're outfitted with mattresses of foam rubber.

The program is called Sweet Sleep.

I had to mention it here otherwise I don't think I could have slept tonight. on it.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. - Proverbs 3:24

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mrs. Main & Mr. Communication

Well, Amy apparently thought I was going to come home and take a nap and then call her. I thought I was going to come home and simply wait for her call.

Finally I gave up and called.

She's getting sprung.

Back to hospital I go.

Okay, maybe not so fast. I was in the car racing to the hospital when Amy called and told me to turn around. Apparently the hospital is all jammed up and the paperwork is all jammed up, so Amy's release will be delayed an hour or two....thus insuring we'll be all jammed up on the freeway coming home. In the interim she doesn't want me hanging around the hospital being all grumpy.

She knows me so well it's sickening at times.

Life is grand...

I am overjoyed that my wife is being released and I am grateful to God, to the doctors, and to the morass of medical bureaucracy.

"But God...I really could have lived without yet another lesson in patience don't You think?

I suppose You know me all too well too."

Where's Mary?

Does this look like the Virgin Mary to you?

That's not an etching on the walls of St. Peter's Basilica, it's a stain of some sort under a freeway overpass in Chicago. Yes, people are lining up to see it. No one can figure out how to sell it on Ebay least not yet.

I Owe The Pope

I was sleeping as comfortably as one can sleep on naughahyde when Amy woke me with the words, "We have a new Pope!"

I'm not Catholic...neither is Amy, but I suppose I owe Pope Benedict something already...he got me off the naughahyde chair/couch/torture device at the hospital.

Amy has two doctors caring for her now so we're still waiting to get a consensus from them on when she'll come home. We're both hoping for today, but one doctor makes his rounds early in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Even if we can get them to both agree we might not be able to get the release forms signed by both of them until tomorrow.

She's got to be sprung tomorrow. Her folks come into town on Thursday and the doctors and nurses don't want to be around Amy if they prevent her from enjoying that visit. There are not enough narcotics on the planet to make that a pleasant experience.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Nothing Much To Speak Of...

I slept the afternoon away. My schedule is out of whack and now it's even more so.

Amy will hopefully come home tomorrow...that should right many things.

She's frustrated in the hospital. Poor communication...that's almost always the culprit.
Speaking of rights....I don't know if Michael Jackson is a pedophile or not, I know he's creepy, but this family suing him seems pretty creepy too. I'd have reasonable doubt.

Lucky for Jackson he's being tried in Texas if you look that're doing time.

Of course he probably wouldn't want to stand trial in Arizona either.

Speaking of marching around...there's no Pope yet but plenty of ceremony. I think the most interesting thing about choosing a Pope is seeing how this ancient process holds up to the crush of modern media attention.

Am I alone in fearing the media is going to be all over the new Pope digging for dirt?

It's a new world...are we entering the age of the Pope smear?
Speaking of smears...did you see this?

Anyone think the guy who was hired to paint those yellow lines might have stopped off at the pub first?
Speaking of drunks....this guy has quite a fish story, "I was soooo drunk I defected."

Maybe Michael Jackson isn't so weird after all....

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Reading Between The Floors

There are technically seven floors in the hospital where Amy has become something of a fixture. One floor is not readily accessible to the public; it's a mezzanine which only shows up if you take the wrong elevator or the stairs. Several floors cater to patients with specific needs: transplant patients...oncology patients...psych patients. Amy is almost always housed on the 5th floor which specializes in surgical recovery because the doctor who admits her is a surgeon and many of the nurses on that floor are familiar with Amy.

I have ridden that elevator more times than I want to all hours. I've found myself with all sorts of people in the elevator. Rich people, poor people, occasionally a few doctors or staff members, but most of the time the occupants are family members of patients.

Many times there are no pleasantries exchanged beyond "What floor?" as one of us pushes buttons for the rest, but quite often there is a wordless sharing of emotion.

This morning I was at the hospital early and an older woman joined me on the elevator. She was carrying several bags and I instantly knew the drill...two bags full of stuff for her loved bag full of stuff for her. I knew what was inside - things to keep her occupied as she waited at a bedside.

Things to keep her mind from going places she didn't wish to go.

Each bag bore the name of some fancy store or high dollar product. All were seemingly brand new.

I was carrying the tattered leather computer bag I haul everywhere stuffed with magazines, books, crumpled crossword puzzles, my PDA, phone and snacks. In my hands I held coffee and the Sunday paper.

The woman looked at me, leaned back against the elevator wall and sighed.

I smiled and nodded. She got off the elevator a couple of floors before me - Oncology.

This afternoon, as I was leaving, the elevator doors opened on the first floor and there she was again. She still looked tired and worried. I understood but said nothing. I held the elevator door open for her as I got out. She smiled and nodded...then she sighed once more.

No more had to be said.

Suffering and elevators are great equalizers.

A.M. With Amy

I'm out the door in a moment. I will spend my Sunday normal time of worship sitting in a naughahide chair drinking coffee with my wife. Periodically someone will come in the door to poke and prod her.

We'll make plans for when she's out of the hospital, much of that will be dictated by her.

There will be no songs and fellowship. No sermon or communion.

There will be prayer though...I suppose that's all that really matters.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Test & Time

Amy's had some tests run...on her body and her patience. Looks like she'll be in the hospital for at least a couple of days. We are generally hoping to get her pain under control and then let her body get itself under control without intervention.

I'll blog when I can but now I have a naughahide chair calling my name in Amy's room. That may be my next shopping for room 523.


Happy Birthday Sarai!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Haven't We Done This Before?

Prayers please.

Amy has been experiencing some renewed pain, beyond that which she has grown accustomed. For the past few days we've been hoping/praying that it might remedy itself. After speaking with her doctor however he does not think waiting it out is the best approach, so...hi ho hi's off to the E-R we go.

We're expecting an afternoon/night of tests and I'm sure they'll probably admit her as a precaution.

Prayers would be appreciated for strength, patience and maybe a few answers.

Mayberry Not

I have been a drunk.

In fact I'm certain there was a time in my life when many people described me as "a drunk." It was an accurate description. I'm fond of saying I think most people are entitled to an Olympic sized swimming pool worth of alcohol over the course of their lives and I had mine...and probably a few gulps of yours.

Twelve or thirteen years ago I quit drinking for ten years. I didn't drink a drop. In recent years I have cautiously allowed myself a modest amount of wine. I seem to be able to control it now, although I don't recommend folks who've conquered the demon of booze to follow my example.

I credit having God and Amy to lean on.

I'm sure there are people from my past who have no idea that I ever sobered up and if they think of me the first word that comes to mind is "drunk."

Remember Otis from Mayberry?

Back when The Andy Griffith Show was on TV it was sort of cute to have a town drunk. Being a raging alcoholic is not quite as charming these days

Evidence Henry Earl of Lexington, Kentucky.

Maybe I'm the last one to know about Henry. He's apparently an Internet phenom with dozens of websites devoted to keeping tabs on him, some of them are quite cruel and I warn you some of the sites are flat out racist.

Henry Earl has been arrested more than 800 times, mostly for public intoxication. He's currently in jail after being arrested a day or two ago.

Don't believe me? You can keep tabs on him and check out his various mug shots and arrests at this website. Scroll down the is a stunning record.

Being a drunk is one thing...being a drunk who gets arrested for being drunk every other day for more than a decade is quite another.

The town drunk has morphed into the world's drunk thanks to the Internet.

I know from personal experience that you can't force a drunk to sober up, but surely we can do better.

Or am I'm still living in Mayberry?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why They Only Teach 3 R's

I'm not certain when the Holy Ghost got a makeover in America.

I do know most folks I meet these days are more inclined to say, "The Holy Spirit" so I suppose there was some point where many churches/religions gave up the Ghost so to speak.

My Real Live Pastor tells me that neither term is actually very accurate. In Greek the term k'numah is used while in Hebrew the word used when speaking about the Holy Spirit is ruah - both words translate to the wind or the very breath of God.

Apparently the push is on to spirit out the Holy Ghost in parts of England these days, at least according to a story which I read today from the "Press Association" - England's equivalent of the Associated Press. This was the opening line:

"Education bosses delayed plans to introduce new guidelines for religious education teachers which include warnings against using terms such as Holy Ghost - deemed too "trivial and spooky" for children."

The thought of "education bosses" sitting around making up rules for the study of religion does conjure up a rather unsightly image in my mind which was validated by the next line in the story:

"Under the guidelines, schools will also be advised to take school trips to churches only when they are full - as the sight of the empty buildings may make pupils believe Christianity is irrelevant."

Some of the other guidelines under consideration, according to a longer BBC version of the story I found include advising teachers to avoid terms such as the "body of Christ" and the "blood of Jesus" because Christians are not actually eating flesh and blood. Also when teaching kids about Judaism it's suggested teachers not refer to the first 39 books of the Bible as the Old Testament because that "suggests the books are out-of-date."

I'm torn by this story I suppose because they're actually teaching religion in schools in England which I think can be a good thing, but I also envision these committees trying to make things more palatable and or politically correct and I fear the inevitable homogenized result.

I'm no professional educator but it would seem to me that these concerns about impressionable kids not grasping why churches are empty on Tuesday afternoon or having their little noggins in a knot because people are not drinking actual blood could be alleviated rather easily.

How about we get a committee together to write a report advising teachers to explain to the kids why things are this

But maybe that's too spooky of a concept.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Talkin' Jesus

Oh stop by the news sites before I walk away from the computer and what pops up?

Talking Jesus and Moses dolls.

It's true.

CNN wouldn't lie. Okay, well let's not debate that point. But it's not a gag. It's a real news story.

I know these folks intentions are good...but I'm not sure I have room in my theology for Teddy Bear Jesus and G.I. Moses...

Believe It Or Nap

"Seeing is not believing; believing is seeing! You see things, not as they are, but as you are." - Eric Butterworth

My internal clock is still out of whack, so I'm doing a hard reset and avoiding my normal nap. That makes for a good night's sleep but I suspect it will also result in some semi coherent stream of consciousness ramblings. Of course that any of my ramblings are done in a coherent state may be hard to believe for many folks. I'd prefer not to dwell on that, instead I wanted to talk about license plates, tomb raiders, and faith.

We received new license plates for our car today. Besides our brief walk together exploring new houses down the road, that was the highlight of the day. Some days it's hard to believe the exciting lives we lead.

Actually the license plates look very nice...far nicer than our car which is dented and dirty and has dead electric windows. The car is paid for though, which kicks up its appearance quite a bit from my viewpoint.

I wasn't expecting the license plates. I renewed the car's registration on line and assumed I'd get a new window sticker, but apparently the state believes if you've paid registration fees on the same car for 7 or 8 years you should get something more substantive in return...preferably something shiny.

This is not our license plate by the way...

According to the New York Post that is the plate from an SUV belonging to a guy named Curtis Plunkett who -as you might have already discerned - is a born again Christian. He's also barely alive, having crashed his vehicle head on into a wrong way driver on a freeway a week or so back.

The other driver died and although Plunkett was seriously injured he credits his faith in God for the fact that he's not in Heaven.

It's the New York you may have a hard time believing the story. I couldn't confirm it elsewhere and I tend to question everything printed in the Post except the nasty stuff they say about the Knicks.

"I can't believe it." - Luke
"That is why you fail." - Yoda

Some stories are easier to believe than others. I would like to believe one story I read this morning wasn't true. It's a story about some kid in Vermont who police say dug up a corpse in a graveyard and stole a dead man's he could make it into a "bong" and smoke pot with it.

In truth I don't even want to think about how someone's head gets so twisted they decide to steal a dead head, but that story is evidently true.

Sometimes you have no choice but to believe I suppose.

That being said I believe I've probably said enough.

I'm sorry if you believed this was going somewhere, you put your faith in me and I let you down.

Believe me I won't do that least not tonight.

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it." - Andre Gide

Monday, April 11, 2005

Duck & Hover

It's too nice of a day to write. I haven't slept well and so Amy and I are going out...well, for coffee...but I'll probably have decaf.

Yeah...I'm ducking out of writing today....but I'll leave you with this website.

I want one...don't you?

This Dude Needs A Date

We should all go out of our way to help fellow bloggers...even the truly desperate ones.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Eying Hate

"Keep your friends close, your enemies closer" - Michael Coreleone in "The Godfather."*

I have had sitting on my desk in front of me for several weeks another mailing from Texe Marrs. He is based in Austin, Texas and publishes a news letter called "Power of Prophecy" which seems to focus on two things....selling other stuff he's written, and demonizing everyone from people of the Jewish faith to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He is in the business of selling conspiracy - the Illuminati, Satan worshippers, Lord Rothschild, etc. - but he labels his ramblings "prophecy" and implies his industry is actually "ministry." If you want to find out more you can do an easy enough Internet search for him, I don't want to link to his sites for obvious reasons.

He's someone I put in my "Ignatius file" primarily because he fits the main criteria...he is his own biggest and perhaps only fan.

Texe Marrs is relatively harmless. I'm sure there are people who buy his books, tapes, audio cassettes, DVDs, pamphlets, heck for all I know he'd probably come to your house for 20 bucks, but most of those folks were probably already on a road of twisted reality before they landed on Marrs.

Still I'm glad he sends his mailings to the radio station.
Roy Bragg, a local newspaper writer, has an excellent article out about Fred Phelps of Topeka Kansas. Phelps is a hatemonger, there's really no other way to put it. He's the guy who along with a rag tag bunch of fellow "believers"- mostly members of his family - decided it was a "ministry" to march about the country condemning homosexuality in the most offensive ways possible...and he is offensive no matter your beliefs regarding the issues surrounding homosexuality.

Phelps traveled to San Antonio a few years ago because a longtime Sheriff's deputy had a sex change, and was allowed to continue in her...position on the force. For a while, Phelps sent our radio station and every other media outlet in town semi-pornographic cartoons mocking the Sheriff which appeared to be drawn by someone with a 6th grader's skills and an 8th grader's hormones. Our radio station limited coverage of his "demonstrations" primarily because they were both the words he used and to our collective sensibilities. I must confess being in radio that was an easy call to make. For television Phelps' scrawlings on placards and his wild-eyed visage can be very attractive, but to television's credit his protests here for the most part went unnoticed.

That is apparently happening more often these days... much to Phelps' consternation. He is a one trick pony who has perhaps run his course.

I'm sure that makes Phelps mad although I'm not certain how that could possibly be determined.

I spent this morning worshipping God knowing I was imperfect. I will spend the last few hours of this evening thanking God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me.

Before then I will slip the latest diatribe from Texe Marrs into my "Ignatius" file and do my best get Fred Phelps out of my mind...but I don't want to ever completely forget about either of them.

People like Texe Marrs and Fred Phelps don't scare me. I think they are silly.

But ignoring them and others of their ilk seems far sillier.

Hate groups listed by the Southern Policy Law Center

*I know someone is going to tell me this quote is from Sun Tzu "The Art of War" but that is apparently a common misconception.

Friday, April 08, 2005

A Tale Of Two Siblings

An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. - Proverbs 18:19

Two members of my family were born on this date. One I've known for only a handful of years, the other I've been acquainted with since birth.

My niece-in-law Danielle is the relative with the shortest track record, she's also I think now officially my shortest relative, but that's beside the point. Although we've seen each other in the past few years for only for a few days here or a week there, we communicate fairly regularly through our family website, email, and the like. She even reads this blog on occasion...there's no accounting for taste.

Danielle is going to school to get her doctorate in check ups from the neck up. I think she took one look at our family and decided she'd never lack for test subjects.

Here she is with her husband Ben - my nephew and an all around good guy for a Preacher's kid, who became a Preacher.

Happy Birthday Danielle...I'm so glad you're in our lives. You are a blessing to this family.


The other birthday celebrant today is my eldest brother Stan. For more than 30 years on this day I've called Stan and mocked him a bit about his age. He's three years older than me.

For the past two weeks or more though I've been struggling with how I would handle today.

Stan has asked that I not be part of his life. "Asked" is putting it politely.

Stan and I have a lot in common. We've both worked in the same industry, albeit in different areas, our entire adult lives. We've shared great hardship and we've battled similar demons - conquered them too.

Stan's a little taller, more of an extrovert, has much more charisma and is better looking but we're not too dissimilar in appearance these days.

Stan Me

What we don't share are values. Stan's passion is politics and he's become somewhat anti-religious, equating almost all spiritual people with the "religious right." I really am not that political but my leanings and Stan's certainly don't line up in lockstep. There is no need to go into great detail but suffice it to say placing his picture on the left hand side of the page was deliberate and if he were to read this blog, which he doesn't, he'd probably ask that it be pushed further to the left.

Despite those differences we have managed to co-exist without too much difficulty on a superficial level for nearly 48 years and I thought only a year or so ago we were actually making great strides in finally finding true relationship. I thought we might truly get to "know" each other.

Then last November Stan made what were actually wrong assumptions about my core beliefs, stirred them into his election passions, and produced a Molotov cocktail of emotion in his mind that ignited on the eve of the Presidential election.

Some rather silly emails were exchanged which I mistakenly thought were a joke and then Stan told me never to speak to him again.

I tried apologizing. I tried forgiving.

It didn't work and in fact it seemed to make things worse.

Amy was extremely sick at the time and there was only so much in my emotional arsenal so I eventually waved the white flag and in the process waved goodbye to the thinly tethered relationship I had with Stan.

I woke up this morning and sat on the edge of our bed. I prayed for Stan...and for me.

I prayed one day we'll be able to see past our differences and truly see each other.

And I prayed he has a happy birthday too.

Well Now I Have An Excuse

I didn't write yesterday because I was doing "manly" stuff...trying to hire some real man to do repairs to our patio awning and asking Amy to price out the materials.

I was going to write earlier and actually knocked out some drivel, but Blogger seems unable to publish and I've learned that I can waste a lot of time waiting for Blogger to right itself, so I deleted that and took a nap instead.

That was a good decision since I see Blogger still isn't publishing what I write - computers with editorial judgment now there's a nightmare - so I suppose I'll take a walk on this glorious day instead of trying to sit here and come up with profundity.

Okay, profundity would probably set a new high-water mark for my musings, but you know what I mean.

It'll publish when it'll publish...I'm off for a walk.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Chicken, Cheese and Michelle Pfeiffer

I really should be asleep, but Amy and I got all wound up doing a mad dash cooking binge for our Wednesday night church fellowship. Fellowship is probably a more fanciful word for it than it deserves....basically we eat a lot and talk a lot.

Anyway, Amy was cooking and midway through her barbecue chicken plans she decided we'd be better off cooking at the church instead of at home. We have a massive barbecue grill at place to baptize anyone, but a really big grill.

We eat a lot at our church...we call it fellowship.

We baptize folks at people's homes...and we bring food.

Anyway this really has nothing to with anything except that food was on my mind as I re-read my post of yesterday.

I kept looking at that picture of the grilled cheese Virgin Mary.

I still don't see the Virgin Mary...but truthfully in that particular shot of the Holy Toast I can sort of see an image that looks a heck of a lot like Michelle Pfeiffer with sort of a big ugly hand in front of her face.

I wonder what a Michelle Pfeiffer grilled cheese sandwich would sell for......

Okay, I need sleep.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tupperware Jesus & The Holy Toast

Do you see God?

Silly question right?

Of course you do.

Oh. You don't?

Sorry, I thought everyone did.

I see God in the eyes of people and in their actions too.
I see God in nature a lot.
I see God with my eyes closed my mind.

Admittedly there's a lot of clutter there but God is there too...I'm sure.

I hear God.

When children laugh.
When Amy sings.
When people tell me stories of kindness.

By now everyone has heard of that Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich that sold to some casino on Ebay.

I don't see the Virgin Mary there, but I see someone made some money. I hear the owner is now trying to hawk the skillet that made the Holy Toast. This is America.

I see God in America...although probably not as often as I would like.

Do you see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in this picture?

I don't.

That's a Tupperware lid, with a few decorations added. The decorations are appropriate I suppose since a woman in Corpus Christi has had it hanging on the wall of her home for the past three or four years. The woman, Alice Pulido, says she vividly sees the image of both Jesus and the Virgin Mary on that Tupperware lid and since she saw them her life has gotten much better. Her vision has improved and there is less pain in her life.

She prays in front of the lid and has no plans to sell it on Ebay.

She sees God in a Tupperware lid.

Now that I think about it, maybe I do too.

Monday, April 04, 2005

In The Pope's Rear View Mirror

I feel somewhat obligated to make at least passing mention of Pope John Paul, although I'm not really sure why...maybe it's because He passed me by once before.

Pope John Paul visited San Antonio in September of 1987 and I was working then at the same place I am working today. We covered his visit like a blanket...everyone had an assignment. Mine was to ride behind the Pope in the media truck as he caravanned across the city. In truth my assignment was to report from a moving vehicle on the crowds gathered along the route and be close to the Pope should something bad happen.

We didn't have cell phones back then and I don't remember if I was equipped with one of the roving gizmos we used to do live reports from the field, not that it would have worked from the back of a moving truck anyway.

As I recall there really wasn't much for me to do. There were people lining the streets all along the route waiting to get a glimpse of the Pope. He would pass by them and they would hold up signs and yell words of praise or worship...and then we'd lumber behind in the media truck. Our truck didn't stop so I couldn't interview the people...the only people I could interview were other members of the media stuck on the back of the truck with me.

There were more important stories that day.

It was a strange experience though.

I'm not a Catholic but I could certainly sense the love and devotion the people had for John Paul. We rode through some fairly rough areas of San Antonio and people would smile and wave at us...the media.

People were so excited and caught up in the day that everything seemed wondrous...even a collection of ragged reporters riding in the back of an old truck with a banner on the side reading "Media."

At one point I remember a woman yelling, "Look the media!"

Most times when you hear those words you duck for cover. They're often followed by threats or warnings to get off of someone's property. That day in September of 1987 people acted differently. Some people actually applauded as we went by.

It was then I knew what it was all about...I was riding in the wake of good will.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

My Clock & Back

My internal clock is out of whack...and so is my back.
I spent the morning working in the glorious weather getting rid of debris around the church property. It was satisifying work, but I'm in pain now.
I slept the afternoon away and now they're going to play with time again, stealing an hour from me.

So how am I spending what time I have? Whining.

It's time for bed.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Gags & Stats

I could actually use this:

The world's first alarm clock pill!

It's an April Fool's day gag from the guys at Last year they had an amusing one for the George Foreman had a USB port so you could upload recipes into it.

A word of caution to the easily and not so easily offended that some of the other "jokes" on the site this year for April Fools are a little risque.

Speaking of which...I was statistic snooping this morning and went to one of the stat trackers available on the blog and found this interesting division:

You'll have to click here to see it clearly.

The month is off to an interesting start.