Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Seeing Beyond Black & Silver

I noticed that this season I've hardly written about the Spurs at all - well at least compared to years past. That may be due to the fact that we're down to the pure minimum of cable and I haven't watched as many games, also I'm going into work earlier than prior years which prevented me from watching every game possible.

I'm not a superstitious type - okay one year I wore the same underwear every time the Spurs played a playoff game...I washed 'em...usually. When they lost a game the underwear no longer became "game day gear mandatory" and also they lost the chance to make it onto our Spurs shrine...much to Amy's relief.

The shrine sits a top the piano in our "antique room" well out of view of anyone entering the house...we prefer not to let folks know we're idol worshippers until we've gotten to know them better.

It's interesting living in a town with a championship quality team. I lived in the Dallas area for a number of years, and my loyalties still are with the Cowboys - why I don't really know. Yet the Cowboys are somewhat faceless. Sure they had a few marquee players and coaches, but they have always been foremost an "organization." The Spurs are "our team" - virtually any person in town can name the starting five players or more and the citizenry gobbles up every tidbit of information about the players' health, beliefs, the team strategy, trade rumors, etc...

I'm somewhat convinced San Antonio could become the largest city in the nation without a daily newspaper if not for the Spurs...the sports section is the only hot commodity coming off that cold out dated press.

It's also hard to find someone in San Antonio who doesn't consider the Spurs underrated - ignored by the national media and short changed for their achievements. It's not simply the two national titles and the possibility of a third, but the fact that the Spurs team has been built with an emphasis on character.

The value of that to this city may be the Spurs most important contribution - the players, the team and the management philosophy have literally changed lives. Kids here have real role models who are more than basketball players. Players have invested their time, their money and their image in San Antonio and it's taken root. These are educated, contributing members of the community.

So, the Spurs lost last night giving Phoenix the hope of rising from the ashes.

I still believe the Spurs will reach the NBA finals and likely win it all, but even should they fall...they'll never fail....not in my eyes at least.

Monday, May 30, 2005

It's A Holiday

Yes, I worked this morning...my alarm went off and I had to go to the office, but the workload was so light they had to nudge me occasionally to remind me I was on the payroll - presumably being productive.

I'm not exactly winning the battle of the chest infection, it's more like a standoff. Hopefully that will improve.

I have no plans to write today.

I did see a mention of an interesting blog today. A guy who is traveling to 1000 bars in a year.

There was a time in my life when I did that.... of course it was the same bar, but when you've been in one.....

I suppose I lacked ambition back then...along with morals, standards, a reason for existence... okay, I'm going to stop writing now.

It's a holiday.

Go Spurs!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

It's The Little Things

I sat down to write an email to a church member - which I did quickly - and then I thought I would try to modify blogger's comment function a little to make it stand out a bit more. That wasn't too difficult.

Then I simply wanted to make the copyright symbol black instead of gray on each post.

I now realize I have wasted 2 hours or more doing these tiny tasks.

I'm going to pick Amy up from work in an hour so we can attempt to watch "The Aviator."

We started out to watch it yesterday until I pulled it out of the sleeve and saw it was nearly 3 hours long. At that point we stopped dead in our tracks.

Wouldn't it be easier if everything in life came with a time stamp?

Had I been blessed with a little preview sheet for my planned blogger manipulations which read "this will take you two hours," I'd be downstairs well into a nap by now and no one would be the wiser.

Little things often have big appetites when it comes to my time.

God & Country

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It's late...storms are pounding the city. Amy and I are both awake. At midnight Amy is choosing music for tomorrow's worship service, hymns appropriate for this particular weekend, apparently last minute changes are in order.

The thunderclaps and flashes of lightning have me thinking this Memorial day weekend of wars fought - battles won and lives lost. My mind is consumed with the images of men and women who sacrificed so much for me.

I'm also realizing the common thread weaved between my freedom and my faith.

Bloodshed...blood shed for me.

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many" - Mark 14:24

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Surfing With Lizzy

I took a lizard for a ride. I was driving Amy to work when she noticed a small lizard on the windshield. I had my pocket digital camera with me, it didn't have batteries in it, but for the record I did have it with me.

Anyway the lizard looked something like this except it was perched on a well dented 1997 Oldsmobile:

When I started to get out of the car at a stop sign to rescue the lizard, my wife - who is known to go into mourning over rigorized dead animals on the side of the road - gave me a nudge that could not be misinterpreted especially since it was punctuated with the words, "keep going we're late!"

So much for human kindness.

In Amy's defense, such little lizards or chameleons are everywhere in South Texas this time of year. One of our dogs makes them a regular staple of her diet, much to our disgust. It's also not uncommon to be sitting in what you would normally consider a "private area" of the house and suddenly notice that you're being watched by tiny little eyes from a creature that came in or under the door.

If you try to catch them, you invariably end up pulling off their tails which for all involved is a disappointing ending.

Anyway, I dropped Amy off and ran a few other errands and was headed back to the house when the lizard poked his head down from the roof of the car.

He disappeared out of my view moments later. I don't know if he ducked into some other spot on the car or flew off but I'm going to assume he stayed on for the full ride.

Perhaps I'm extrapolating too much of my life into the existence of a lizard, but it seems once you've committed yourself to the challenge - as insane as it might be - there really is no sense letting go.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Alive And well...

I took a small break from writing the past day or so because everytime I sat down to write I started detailing how lousy I felt - I didn't want to read it, why should anyone else. In truth I've spent much of the past two days - when I wasn't working - in bed. Tonight I feel substantially better, probably due in large part to large doses of caffeine thanks to my wife the Starbucks employee.

Amy is working for another hour or so, so I'm dashing out a fast note before going up to meet her...maybe she'll have the energy to do a crossword puzzle or something before we head back home and collapse.

Well check that...Amy just called with a "urinal emergency" at Starbucks, asking that I come right away.

No...I'm not going to fix it, folks who read this blog know how ridiculous that concept is, but we do have several plumber's tools which might aid Amy in her plight.

They sell coffee...so there is a certain sense of urgency.

I'll have to let my thoughts clog up in my mind in favor of possibly providing some relief to the latte drinkers crossing their legs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wine & Dandy

The good news is the drugs are kicking in, the bad news is that means I have no excuse not to go to work in the morning. I'm trying to minimize the use of my voice since although the searing pain has subsided, the occasional croaking has not. I suspect by my final newscast tomorrow I'll be sounding something like Barry White...before he died.

To add to the pleasantries, Amy has many of the same symptoms and is not feeling real well either, but we've volunteered tonight to act as liaisons between a vintner from Ohio we know - yeah we know a vintner...pretty classy eh? - and a bunch of local lawyers oenophiles high class drunks with whom we are acquainted.

Since Amy and I are both on antibiotics and since I have to be at work early, our hope is to get everyone settled in, let the wine sampling begin and then duck out. I'm not certain how well that will work. I know we'll be on time, but lawyers, even sober ones, tend to have a different perspective on time - which probably explains how they can bill you for 26 hours of work in one day, but that's another matter.

Anyway, our friend's small winery is not in Ohio, which should make those of you who drink wine breathe a sigh of relief. The operation is in Spain. He's also a retired-for-the-moment urologist which is how he paid to live out his dream of becoming a vintner - I'm certain there's a metaphor there, but I'm not going to probe around to find it.

Suffice it to say he produces a number of very lovely wines sold in this country under the name Veleta.

Right now they are somewhat hard to find, but with recent changes in the the laws regarding the shipment of wines across state lines, he's hoping to expand his market and actually break even, if not make money, which would make his dream slightly more fulfilling I suspect.

However, after having dinner with him and his wife the other night, I realized that he is not in it for the money as much as the pleasure of watching the fruits of his labors develop. It's not a bad gig...he gets to spend a lot of time in Spain and he has a lot of wine to enjoy.

More importantly he has a lovely wife and a soon to be two year old daughter.

Any winemaker can tell you that there are many things in life which are worth waiting for in order to savor their full potential.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Inside The Blogway Stuff

I'm not sure anyone really cares, but I've switched over to "Blogger's" commenting system. I loved Haloscan -I even paid to use it - but now I'm simply confused by it. All I really want is to be notified when someone comments...Blogger can now do that but Haloscan seems to have a lot of new "issues."

Unfortunately that means all the comments from previous posts are lost.

Thoughts posted on the wind, hopefully I'll provoke others in the future.

Deep Throat, Broken Pipes And The Banana Rebellion

It started with a phone call from Erin last week while we were in Ohio. One of our neighbors had pointed out that we had a rather significant water leak in our yard. (hic) This is not an unknown phenomena, we've had issues with water pipes - apparently put in on the cheap by the original builder - since we moved into this house 10 years ago. It was however an issue that I couldn't do much about while in Ohio so I did what I do best in such circumstances, I tried to forget about it and thought maybe it would go away by itself.


Yesterday the woman who lives in the house next to ours banged on the door, waking me from a heavily medicated sleep - to be explained shortly - to inform me she was worried the water was getting so high in her yard that it would soon flood her living room.

I suspect she was being overly dramatic, but I assured her that we were taking action. (hic) In other words I had left it up to Amy. Amy thought perhaps our homeowner's warranty might cover it and she used the warranty service to schedule a plumber to come out this morning.

As fate would have it, I was home this morning, not at work, because my throat felt like shards of molten glass were embedded in it - which by the way is my explanation for the major Nyquil snooze attempt yesterday which fell victim to nappus interuptus thanks to the next door neighbor lady's knocking.

The plumber sent by the warranty firm appeared right on schedule. He also appeared to be intimately familiar with methamphetamine. He could easily have been mistaken for Keith Richards' sickly older brother. (hic) He did however quickly diagnose the problem: we had a water leak. After insisting I write him a 45 dollar check for a "service call" he then divulged that our home warranty wouldn't cover the repair because the leak was several feet away from our home not "in" or "under" our home.

I take some comfort at least in the knowledge that our 45 bucks by now has most certainly wormed its way into the murky muddy bowels of the plumbing drug culture - into the hands of those who sell plumber's crack. (hic)

Anyway we sent the scary plumber on his way and Amy contacted a nearby plumbing firm which we trust and for whom Amy does occasional computer work.

They dispatched a plumber immediately, a guy who appeared to not only be chemical free but competent to boot.

It was while I was waiting for his arrival however that I noticed "the banana rebellion."

Erin had apparently bought a bunch of bananas and hung them on the little hook where we hang bananas for reasons that I don't really understand, but which I've done my best at inquiry avoidance.

I am nothing if not consistent.

Normally the bananas hang there until we pluck them off one by one, but this morning all of the bananas had fallen. I don't mean the bunch had dropped from the hook...each individual banana fell on its own. A small portion of each peel had given way and the bananas had plummeted to the counter in single file fashion.

I had visions of each banana independently deciding to make a break for it in the middle of the night...the great banana split. (hic)

I'm running a fever I'm certain.

Anyway, I studied the banana peculiarity for a moment and then decided to ignore it, although I did eat one of the bananas to show the others who is boss and keep them in their place.

So the plumber shows up - a healthy looking guy who had no apparent desire to use pipes for any purpose other than for those functions normally associated with plumbing. He spent most of the day digging in the muck that is now our front yard.

As he worked, I took the unconventional approach of calling my doctor since my usual tactic in dealing with illness - ignoring the symptoms and hoping they would go away - was failing. I was painfully reminded of this each time I took a sip of coffee and experienced a searing agony heretofore known only to carnival sideshow sword swallowers with delirium tremors. (hic)

In other words, I felt about as crappy as I have felt in many years. My throat felt even worse this morning than yesterday, my head was throbbing, I was sweating, green foreign objects were attempting to expel themselves from my body in a variety of unpleasant ways, and what was left of my voice sounded like a bad impersonation of Darth Vader with end stage emphysema.

Leaving the plumber muttering dirty words in the mud I went to the doctor who gave me a quick once over and pronounced that I "looked like crap."

I was preparing to write him a 45 dollar check since this seemed to be the established protocol of the day, but unlike the suspected speed-freak plumber, the doctor had an actual diagnosis and a plan. He told me I had a respiratory infection and gave me a variety of medications including steroids which have thus far guaranteed that I am unable to sleep and have given me periodic spells of the hiccups. (hic)

My throat is still sore, I'm continuing to sweat, and green aliens are still escaping from various orifices sometimes with little or no fanfare or announcement.


I have taken my usual approach toward the hiccup issue.


Anyway, shortly after I got back from visiting the doctor and the pharmacy - where they dispense drugs legally in case any plumbers are reading this - the plumber working in our mud hole completed a "temporary" fix of our leak. He told us that the ground needed to dry out before a more permanent solution could be attempted.

This at least means we have running water in the house and have ceased dispensing our water supply unsolicited to our neighbors.

Additionally, Amy tells me the owner of the plumbing company has offered to work with her - trading out computer services to help pay for the repairs, something I was unsure how we were going to accomplish beyond my usual strategy for confronting such matters...closing my eyes and hoping they would all go away.

Oddly enough, despite the steroids I nearly dozed off while doing that...unfortunately the hiccups rousted me from that brief moment of slumber.

That's a shame too because I think I was beginning to reach a point of englightment where I would have understood why the bananas were trying to escape.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Erin And The Three Tenots

Amy has occasionally accused me of being able to sing. I chalk this up to the realization that the more time people spend with each other the more they become like each other.

Amy can sing. I on the other hand am occasionally insane. I have not acquired any of Amy's musical acumen...but I believe some of my insanity may have finally spread her way.

Sunday our little church did something it needs to do more often I think - it looked outside itself. It didn't look overseas or into the barrio, it gazed less than a mile down the road to an "assisted living" center.

When our normal service ended, four of us went to that center for a short worship service with some of the elderly folks who live there.

Erin played the piano - choosing hymns she felt would resonate with the residents. The other three members of our "missionary team" were Gordon, myself, and Ben.

It was a small crowd and a short service, both of which may be further proof of God's mercy.

At our church there are a number of people with beautiful voices and a talent for singing.
Gordon, Ben and I are not among them. Yet, we three stood before this small crowd of people and sang.

We sang Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross and a couple of others.

It was a performance worthy of the blooper reel from American Idol.

But some folks who normally wouldn't have had a church service Sunday were able to worship God.
We laid hands upon them and prayed.

And yes, Ben, Gordon and I attempted to sing hymns.

When we finished singing, there wasn't a thundering ovation of applause - I swear during our "performance" I saw one woman reaching for her hearing aid battery...I'm fairly certain she wasn't turning the volume up.

Over the course of my life God has delighted in putting me in awkward, uncomfortable positions...I have learned from all of them.

This is yet one more to cherish.

If nothing else we've reminded some folks of God's grace...and His sense of humor is occasionally off key.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Hands Off I'm Cranky

We're home. We're tired. Amy feels like she has the crud....and my mind is scattered.

A couple of passing thoughts....

I'm glad to be out of airports.

When did it become too difficult to turn on a faucet or flush a toilet or snag a paper towel out of a rack? Now airport restrooms don't let you touch anything. Part of me appreciates this considering the volume of people who travel...yet part of me fears what the future holds should this trend continue.

I think I'll keep my hands off that topic.
The Spurs have advanced to the Western Conference Finals!

That's going to be a tough series. Steve Nash is a freak of nature...and a heck of a ball player. Tony Parker is going to have to show up for this one.

The Sonics put up a good fight...until the end.

The Sonic fans who cheered when Tim Duncan went down with an injured foot should be ashamed. You wonder why sports figures have degenerated into thugs and drug abusers? Why shouldn't they....fans cheer injuries?

Seattle has 8 free agents who may leave and they may lose their coach too....next year the only guy whose said he's staying with the Sonics is Danny Fortsen.

So long Seattle...you could have gone out with your heads held high. Remember that...when you're cheering Danny Fortsen.

Go Spurs.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Getting It In Gear

I spent a portion of this afternoon teaching Lisa how to drive the "little truck that might" which has carried Amy and I to our summer vacation destination the past couple or three years - although seemingly it's always been somewhat of a dicey proposition.

It's a little Chevy which belongs to Amy's Dad...I think it's a 1988. The maintenance of which is suspect, although I know the air filter has been changed at least once...because I watched the original air filter burn to a crisp on a rural roadway in Ohio a few years ago.

It's also a standard...and Lisa hadn't driven a standard before today. I taught her older sister how to drive a stick and Lisa took to my lesson plan much the same. My teaching philosophy is we drive around a parking lot in second gear and then we simply hit the road. We stalled a few times. We rolled backwards once or twice because the clutch was disengaged at a stop and no one's foot was on the brake...Lisa only took one turn where the passenger in "the death seat" - me - suppressed the urge to scream, "FLOOR IT!"

All and all it went rather well and I'm sure when we return in a month or so Lisa will be driving the truck with ease.

That's how so much of life is I suppose...we start out shaky, we grasp the basic concept but have a little trouble implementing it - eventually we figure it out although we frighten a few folks and occasionally ourselves along the way.

Being a "Step-Dad" there are not many father-daughter moments that I could grab as my own over the years. Now that the kids are all grown up there are even fewer. When the girls were little I was very cognizant - rightly or wrongly - that I might be taking away a "memorable moment" from their father and purposely shied away from some opportunities, although admittedly I also was unsure of my abilities so let's remove noble from the equation lest anyone get that idea.

I suppose being a stepfather has been a lot like my driving lesson technique. I started off pretty shaky although I understood the basic concept. I had some difficulties implementing my ideas, but eventually I think I figured it out.

Sometimes though I still get scared along the way...but I resist the urge to scream.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


I'm only spending a minute blogging this morning, I woke Amy up by whispering "Starbucks....latte...Starbucks...latte" into her ear and after suppressing the urge to strangle me she suddenly feels like going to Starbucks.

We're down to only two full days left in Ohio (although somewhere I lost a day I keep thinking today is Wednesday) and there have been some traditions which we -or at least I - have not as yet partaken.

Note to my nieces and their parents in Tulsa this next part may be difficult to read.

We have been here for five days and I have not eaten at Skyline once!

Yes...it's true! I have never been in Ohio for more than 24 hours without having partaken of Skyline at least once and sometimes three or four times! The world is out of balance.

When we have driven here, we've stopped at Skyline before going to see relatives or had our relations meet us there. Usually 4 or 5 days into a trip here I have a chili stains on every article clothing I've packed and have made several new friends acquaintences - people I've splattered during my feeding frenzies.

Today the madness stops. Starbucks in a few minutes.. Skyline as soon as they open the doors.

Again, I wonder if there is not something subliminal about this odd turn of events. Perhaps I am purposely avoiding Skyline because I know we'll be leaving Lisa behind in Ohio for the summer...and I subconsciously fear her flying solo.

Nah...that's silly.

First off, she's going to be fine in Ohio this summer with more family around her than ever.

Second, none of us ever truly fly solo.

But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
- John 16:32

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Flying High

Okay, Amy has both computer's set up so can I post a few photos from my flying adventure.

This is the actual plane.

Click to enlarge.

This is the actual pilot, my brother-in-law Mike...notice his confident demeanor.

Click to enlarge.

This is me in the actual plane...notice my fearless look...this is due to my complete confidence in the pilot and the aircraft and has nothing to do with wine or pharmaceuticals.

Click to enlarge.

This is the modern interior of the aircraft designed to allay all fears.

Click to enlarge

And we're off!

We landed too...flawlessly.

I hasten to add I came away from this experience with more than pictures.

I believe it also helped renew my sense of faith...in family...in friendship...and the knowledge that oftentimes the best way to face down my fears is to fly right over them.

Mad Michael Is In Flight...Take Cover

"Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest-
I would flee far away and stay in the desert."

I am not fond of flying. Actually it's landing and taking off that bother me more than flying itself, but I am one of those folks who tend to think of flying as something you should do "if necessary to get somewhere." Flying for fun is not a phrase that registers with my sensibilities, the few that I retain at least. Put that knowledge in your pocket for a moment because I'm going to drift a bit during this particular rambling.

One of the goals Amy and I have while in Ohio is bring her parents at least into the 90's technology-wise. I am coordinating the installation of some new home entertainment components while Amy is putting in a new computer, and ridding the household of Windows 3.1 forever.


As an aside: For those of you familiar with the practice of Google bombing which I have requested on occasion before I would like to ask that you consider Google bombing someone else. A company named H.H.Gregg. I would like it if at any time someone typed in phrase "slimy sales sharks" in Google that they would be directed to the website of H.H. Gregg. They're an electronics firm here in the Midwest who sell by commission. They sold my father-in-law a component which he really didn't need. Make no mistake, most of that was my father-in-law's doing, it was the slimy sale sharks we dealt with in trying to rectify the situation who ticked me off. They absolutely refused to make good on their promises, admit they might have misrepresented their product, and at one point told Amy, "Well your Dad is over 18, he can make decisions for himself."

Amy tells me the Starbucks trainers remind employees that people who receive good customer service will tell one person, but people who receive poor customer service will tell five.

"Hello H.H. Gregg...welcome to the Internet." You are a bunch of slimy sale sharks and I will tell more than five people!

For those of you who don't know how Google bomb or embed a link, the code would look like this: >a href="http://www.hhgregg.com" target="_blank"< slimy sales sharks>/a< except all of the arrows (<) would be reversed.


Anyway, back to my story which Blogger keeps editing and it's really ticking me off...

My brother-in-law Mike (oddly enough all of my brothers-in-law are named Mike but that's another story) either sensing I was about to "Go Wayne" on the electronics or recognizing it was far too beautiful a day to waste, convinced me to go flying with him.

Mind you Mike and my father-in-law do not fly a fancy Cessna or other cushy aircraft...they fly a Luscombe. It looks something like this:

It's an all metal, tail dragging, stick driven aircraft built sometime not long after man invented fire. The primary question that was asked when I finally agreed to go up for a flight was, "Do you think he'll fit?" Followed by, "Is he sober?"

Suffice it to say it's not a large plane and it makes the middle seat of a Northwest Airlines flight feel luxurious.

Anyway, the flight was wonderful. Mike is a great pilot and a very meticulous person so I knew I was in good hands...plus I had a large glass of wine before we left which Mike, being the forgiving Pastor that he is, tried his best to ignore.

There were no loops...no attempts were made to get me to vomit and the weather was simply gorgeous. I would do it again in a heartbeat...probably without the wine...probably.

I took a number of pictures along the way, some of which I will post, but at the moment I can't because this new computer Amy's folks bought from Sam's -not from some slimy sale sharks - doesn't have a floppy drive. My digital camera takes pictures on floppies. Once we Amy gets the computers networked I'll be able to post photos of Mad Michael in flight...until then I have an entertainment center to wrestle...up up and away!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Missed Moments To Come

I am finding it difficult to write while visiting in Ohio. I suppose I'm outside my comfort zone...not that I don't feel completely comfortable here - I love it...the weather is fabulous, our accommodations are wonderful, we have loving family all around, lots of food, zero responsibilities, and if truth be told I could probably pick and choose "blog fodder" from any number of familial circumstances.

I could write my observations about my brother-in-law preaching with authority about the supernatural power of community and what church truly should be...I could probably come up with a few wry lines about seeing my step-daughter Lisa devour strawberries with near guiltless abandon and joy.

Maybe I'll be able to flesh out those topics another day, but not today.

Today I'll barely skim the top layer and let that suffice.

I could blame it on not being at my computer and say I am more at home writing at home.

I'm certainly not going to over analyze it - I'm on vacation and the pace of my life is such that I don't feel a sense of urgency to share some self perceived wisdom or insight.

Face it - in truth the only thing I really wanted to get posted on the blog today was that picture of Lisa.

I love it.

At the end of this week, Amy and I will board a plane home but we will leave Lisa here. I suspect that thought wants to crawl out from the safe place I've stored it - well out of view. I don't want to think about another child hundreds of miles from home.

It's silly. Lisa has been away at college all year, it's not like we've seen her all that frequently anyway. To top it off we'll be back in less than two months. We'll probably see her more this summer than we have for a couple of years.

Still the more I ramble the more I conclude it's not that I'm not at home writing here, it's that I'm not yet comfortable with the knowledge that we'll soon be leaving part of our home behind...

She'll be well cared for and loved. She'll flourish without us...far too easily.

And inevitably there will be strawberry moments missed...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Two Down One To Go

Another kid graduated college today.

The family tradition continues.

Through out it all, one thing remains a constant...a mother's love.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

No Kidding

Odds are I'll have plenty of time to blog over the next week, but I will be gone and there is the question of motivation.

We're off to Ohio for a week. Our son is graduating college on Saturday and our youngest child is moving to Ohio for the summer to knock out some courses at a less expensive school. Two years at Baylor and she's learned math.

We're running out of kids... they're all grown up.

We fly out Friday afternoon and the graduation is the next day. That means we'll have the entire week following graduation to simply hang out with family. That's going to be very cool. I've already got a book or two to read and have circled the times of the Spurs games I'll actually be able to watch.

No agenda...no big events...this could be the best vacation yet.

See ya from the other time zone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The End Is Rear

This is a family website...meaning members of my family read it. Surprisingly that doesn't really limit me too much, I don't have any great desire to spout profanity or sexual innuendo, which is probably a polite way of saying for the most part I'm fairly boring.

On occasion I've mentioned the blog Going Jesus here usually with the caveat that the content can be a little coarse at times and it's certainly not for everyone. However Sara, the author - who by the way is a serious Christian - does have a wonderful knack for one thing in particular: finding the most extreme in Christian kitsch. If it is theologically tacky, it's a good bet it's been mentioned on her blog.

Today I noticed she's put up a link to a site which left me speechless. Okay, that's not true...I wasn't speechless - I know this because I kept mentioning stuff I found to Amy and she kept telling me to be quiet.

The site is MissPoppy.com and I believe it is the ultimate web store for all things religiously kitsch and a great many things blasphemous, depending of course on your sense of humor and whether you think there's a place in the art world for black velvet and or dogs playing poker.

You can spend waste a lot of time at Miss Poppy's looking at everything from the dropped wallet trick tract to the Jesus soap on a rope.

I must confess I even glanced at the "Christian panties" section...albeit only in brief.

It was this pair that caught my eye - but I also believe that's a mannequin's rump which has to mean I haven't completely bottomed out in terms of redemption.

Remember how Mom always told you to wear clean underwear in case you had to go the hospital? What if you were wearing those at the time of the Rapture?

Then again...maybe you'd be prepared in advance with your End Times Tribulation Gift Helmet.

I don't have any real problem with Miss Poppy's site, but I think I've had my fill.

I suppose a lot of relationships are like that...they are fun for a while, but they don't hold up in the end.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Slick Folly

I write a lot of stories, but I'm not usually the subject of them. I mean there are plenty of people with stories about me (by the way God, thank you allowing most of my youth's stupidity to occur before the advent of the digital camera) but up to this point - with the exception of a local newspaper columnist who years ago made a passing mention of my gullibility and a LIFE magazine article when I was 6 or 7 years old that dealt with an experimental reading program in my 2nd grade class - has a writer ever peddled successfully published a story that featured me.

Now however I'm famous renowned mentioned in passing in something that's actually within the pages of a real magazine with a shiny cover and everything, Christian Century.

That I'm mentioned in that particular magazine is strange enough, but that I'm actually referred to in a somewhat favorable light instead of what I'm sure many well reasoned readers imagined might be an article about slack-jawed backsliders and how to avoid them is nothing short of miraculous.

Actually it's a story that's been published on the web already by Gordon - my Real Live Preacher - but in the web based version Gordon didn't use my real name....not my real first name that is....he had no problem using my last name as an adjective for the word "folly." I don't think I'll plumb that thought much further.

As many of you know Gordon writes regularly for Christian Century now but only a few of his essays make it to the print version of the magazine. The story of "Main's Folly" did, in the May 3rd edition. They used my real name and everything...I have a copy right here to prove it.

They even "tease" the story on the magazine's cover above the masthead with the words, "Congregational follies."

Mom would have been so proud.

I'm sure many of you will be rushing out to the newsstand to buy your copies before they're all gone.

Okay, some of you may find a newsstand that actually sells "Christian Century" and if you do I'll make this generous offer...I'll autograph it for you. Heck, I'll even get Gordon to autograph it....we both have wretched handwriting so you won't be able to read our scrawls anyway. I won't even charge you to glom onto my fame, and since Gordon already got paid I have no problem offering his autograph gratis as well.

I'm sure the mailman will soon be cursing my name due to the increased burden I am placing upon by him with this ludicrously egomaniacal humble offer.

No need to rush. I'll be here...waiting patiently...crayon in hand.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Week That Was Will Be

It's Monday...but it's a good Monday, because it means in a week I'll be on vacation.

Oh...I can already tell how productive I'm going to be.

Go Spurs!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day

That's my Mom...when she was a teenager. I suppose it's a tradition I post that picture on Mother's day each year. My mother died many, many years ago.

I missed saying Happy Mother's Day, but with the miracle of blogger I can actually make it appear as if I didn't.

Technically I did "say" it to Amy... those were the first words out of my mouth on Sunday after, "We need to get up" but I didn't write about it here.

One of the kids called Amy last night and asked if I had taken Amy out or bought her a card.

I overheard Amy's side of the conversation. It went like this:


"Because I'm not his mother...I'm his wife."

Sadly, I think that's symptomatic of how much we've grown to be like each other, I swear that used to be my line on Mother's day.

In any case, two years ago Amy spent Mother's day watching our eldest child graduate college. Next week, we'll travel to Ohio to watch our son cross the stage with his college diploma.

Last night, as I was at Gordon's cheering on the Spurs, Amy was calling my Aunt Kathy, the woman who took me into her home for a few years after my mother died in 1972 and tolerated me ever since. I don't know exactly what Amy said, but I'm fairly certain she thanked Kathy for being a Saint.

Happy Mother's Day Kathy...I love you for all you've done.

And Amy, as usual you're right. You are not my mother...but I'm so blessed you are my wife with whom I am well pleased.

I love you.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Deep Within The Silver Minds

There are people I know whom I sometimes wish I could strap into a chair and force to tell me their stories.

My father-in-law is one. We have a good relationship and I have heard some of his adventures and certainly plenty of his opinions. Make no mistake I cherish them, but there have been other - less frequent - occasions when our conversation has slipped slightly beyond the comfortably familiar to the more personally insightful. It's then I realize that he has many untold tales, and perhaps not all are pretty stories.

I desire more.

My friends Roy and Charles are on my inquisition list too. So is my relatively new friend Chuck.

All these men are in their 70's - active and relatively healthy. Perhaps they'll all out live me, but even were that to prove true, without more purposeful effort on my part I would still be shortchanged their wisdom.

Chuck and I have known each other for shortest period of time, but our conversations have been deep and meaningful. We talk often about God.

I suppose this is due in part to the fact that Chuck is entering a new season of life and with it has come a renewed desire for spiritual sustenance. Chuck knows a great many people, but I don't know how many of them are people with whom he can be candid about his faith, or forthcoming with his fears. I'm not sure I've reached that level with him yet either, but I hope we're at least heading in that direction.

Alas, like many things of true value the conversations I seek can't be forced or timed or demanded...the words must be gleaned in circumstances of comfort...in unchallenged times of quiet ease.

Such moments are not as easy to find as you might imagine.

But I think I am going to try harder.

I'm becoming increasingly aware that these efforts yield the building blocks of character.

I'm mining silver and finding pure gold.


Oh! Five, Seven, Five
The date that is - Haiku Day
For those who might care.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Pennsyvlania...Who Knew?

I have on my desk a letter sent to my office...destined for my Ignatius file - this one is from the Government...the Government of God.

I know you can't read that...and it's probably just as well. It doesn't make a great deal of sense. It's from Joseph A. Friscia - Governor of "The State."

In it he advises the Government of the U.S. and all Judeo Christian churches that effective today "I've removed my special protection and favored-nation status from the United States of America. You have been my servant, but the time and space allotted you has been taken up into the time and space of the heavenly dimension. It is now time for My Time. I establish a spiritual State on Earth. The seed will reside exclusively in the State of Pennsylvania until my Son's arrival."

The letter goes on to say that "effective today My Son's churches are decommissioned. Well done beautiful servant, but your message is now an old one. Beat your tithes into business shares and fill your purse."

There's a lot more...Governor Friscia,who seems to confuse himself sometimes with God points out that there is no other intelligent life in the universe. That "My Son's sign will mark the deliverance of the new covenant. The sign consists of an isosceles triangle denoting the new order of the age. Hovering above this will be the two great living lights which will beat and throb in unison."

Compared to a lot of religious pronouncements I receive this is actually quite sweet. He talks of joy, and how "all will be saved one day...even the silly Satan will be loved and saved! And all the universe will be transformed to perfection as it is interpenetrated by the eternal Negative Love of the God Family."

Okay, I'll admit some most of it is a little confusing...The only real requirement though seems to be we've got to be in Pennsylvania.

"Physical Pennsylvania , that is to say The House of Joseph, will be the only safe haven for My children. No one with the marks of heaven will be safe elsewhere."

I've never really spent any time in Pennsylvania, but my nephew and his wife live there. I'm traveling to Ohio in a week or so....maybe a quick a side trip....you know...just to be safe.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Jane And Prayer

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes - Ephesians 6:11

Many of us have prayed for her...some still do...many don't know her name, some of us never did.

Photo by:Bahram Mark Sobhani
Her name is Jane Swanson and she quoted that verse from Ephesians this morning as she stood bravely before a crowd of students, a TV camera and a microphone. She has stood bravely before...in front of a crazed gunman - a co-worker who then shot her point blank in the face.

"I truly believe the power of prayer from our local community and God's grace provided me with the opportunity to continue my life." That's what Jane Swanson said today.

The shooting took place in July of 2003 less than 10 miles from our home, even closer to our church. It had an impact on a lot of people I know. I mentioned it briefly back then.

It was a workplace shooting rampage, which sadly in this day requires little or no additional explanation. Jane Swanson - a devout Christian - was the person the gunman came to kill that day...the others got in the path of his wrath. All of the other victims died. The gunman killed himself. Every local media outlet and some from other cities covered the story. It was on the national newscasts. Workplace violence. Senseless. Merciless.

Jane's wounds were unthinkable...her prognosis quite poor. Hospital officials we spoke with shook their heads, and mentioned the very remote chance she had of surviving, and the lesser chance of a substantive quality of life. They also mentioned her family's strong faith and asked that we write about their request for prayer. I wrote those stories, but I admittedly expected the day to come when I would be called upon to write about her valiant fight for life failing. I prayed I would be wrong.

On this National Day of Prayer we wrote about Jane Swanson, standing before students and two reporters at a Christian school - physical and emotional scars still visible from a horror none of us are likely to ever understand - but she is alive and growing stronger. She is mentally alert.

Also still visible, perhaps more than ever before, is her faith.

She told the students that seconds after she was shot she began reciting that verse from Ephesians...and she believed. She believed one day she would stand before them.

She believed she would have the chance to tell them about the power of prayer.

The Morning Of Enlightenment

My cell phone rang at 1:30 yesterday...1:30 a.m.

For most folks that would be an annoyance...for me it was a signal of panic. It meant I had overslept somehow. The caller was only a few feet away upstairs...Erin. The power was out in the house and Erin wanted to make certain I was up.

I have two alarm clocks...both are supposed to have battery back ups (apparently you have to change those batteries by the way). It was no major crisis. Mercifully the one day the power failed was the day Erin was staying up because I was giving her a ride to the airport on my way to the office. So I stumbled around in the dark trying to get ready for work.

We have an emergency flashlight in the house, but not in the bedroom and I had already overslept. I figured I could shower and get dressed in the dark without too much difficulty. That proved harder than I imagined - I literally couldn't see anything. Then I remembered my cell phone. I kept punching buttons on the phone to get it to emit enough light to find my toothbrush, locate shoes, and be relatively certain I was wearing matching socks.

Evidently Erin packed by the light of tiny tea candles.

We made it out of the house without any additional problems and I dropped Erin at the airport before going into work.

As I write this morning (yes, I consider 1: 50 a.m morning) the house is comparatively ablaze in light. There are lights on in several rooms, something for which I'm grateful...I haven't banged my shins on anything yet today and I've been up for an hour.

I'm also thankful though to realize often times we can get by with a lot less than we suspect.

Additionally it's perhaps a good reminder that when we allow only a small sliver of our light to shine it can be quite illuminating.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Achoo! You're It!

Okay... I've been "tagged." Twice actually - by Bet at Dappled Things and Katy at Fallible.com

I wasn't going to play for a variety of reasons, but I fear I'm going to keep getting tagged and then I won't know who to tag in return because everyone will have already been tagged. I have a limited circle of blog friends who might participate in something such as this, and a large number who might retaliate.

Oh, sorry...you have no idea what I'm talking about do you?

Well this is what's called a "meme" which I had to look up but I gather it's sort of a self propagating societal reflection...something like digital snot. Okay, that might be a little graphic...a mental cold germ of sorts.

Anyway, here's the deal.

If you're tagged, you need to choose 5 (or more if you like) occupations from the list below and then finish the sentence for each that you've chosen.

You then tag three more people who must do the same. You can add more occupations to the list when you pass it on but you must choose your 5 from the list provided by the person who tagged you. You're also asked to trackback to the blogger who tagged you if you know how. Since I was "tagged" by two people I combined both of their lists into this list before adding my three

If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a service member...
If I could be a photographer...
If I could be a philanthropist...
If I could be a rap artist...
If I could be a child actor...
If I could be a secret agent...
If I could be a comedian/comedienne...
If I could be a priest...
If I could be a radio announcer...
If I could be a phlebotomist...
If I could be Paris Hilton's stylist...
If I could be the CEO of Microsoft..
If I could be a movie producer.
If I could be a laser hair removal specialist.
If I could be a dog groomer...
If I could be a bicycle repairman...
If I could be a member of the Royal Family...

Now my responses:

If I could be a child actor I'd have it in my contract I had to act like a child. I'm tired of watching kids on TV that we've made funny by robbing them of their innocence.

If I could be an inn keeper there would always be at least two rooms open at no cost....one for old friends...one for strangers who couldn't pay.

If I could be an athlete than I'd be fairly certain Armageddon was near.

If I could be a professor I'd teach common sense...anyone who was still in the class at the end of the semester would fail.

If I could be a llama-rider I'd be quite a sight and I'd ride my llama to places llama's don't get to go often...like Dairy Queen. The thought of being a llama rider in a Dairy Queen drive thru has a certain appeal to me.

Why do I have a feeling the next person tagged is going to add "If I could be a psychiatrist I'd ask Michael Main more about llama riding at Dairy Queen?"

Anyway, the folks I'm tagging are Matt because he needs diversions. Amber because she's doesn't have time for such things so that makes such things all the more important, and Captain Wow because I threw a digital dart at my blogroll and that's who it hit.

Tag! You're it!

Or Achoo! Depending on your viewpoint. Sorry...I'm sure that will wash out.

Did I Mention I Have A Birthday In June?

From ThinkGeek.com

Monday, May 02, 2005

Halftime Thoughts

I can't tell if I'm slipping into a dream state or not but does anyone else think George Karl looks like something out of Lord Of The Rings?

I should be sleeping.

Head West Young Weekend

I haven't blogged in four days. I think that's the longest I've gone without writing, with the exception of vacations, since I started this cozy corner of confusion.

Over the past four days I've really barely sat down at the computer. We had a garage sale Friday and Saturday which primarily constituted work for Amy but somehow I used that as an excuse. I did move a lot stuff and had some nice conversations with neighbors I didn't know we had. Admittedly there's something odd about talking to a couple whom Amy befriended earlier only to have the wife point to her husband and then say to me, "He's wearing your pants. We bought them for a dollar!"

Friday night Amy and I had a late dinner with friends...It was elegant and spiritual...I'm not sure where that relationship is leading us...I'm sure God wants us to explore it though.

I had a meeting of the church leadership Saturday morning where the pragmatic met the spiritual and each dipped their toes into the waters of wisdom and patience. I'm not sure where that will lead either but again I'm certain of our Guide.

Such deep thought of course led me back home to a period of profound reflection...in other words I napped most of the afternoon away before having to take much of the stuff we didn't sell at the garage sale - stuff other than my pants - to the Cancer Society.

Then there was a late night Spurs game which I was actually able to watch since it was on free TV.

Sunday afternoon Amy and spent almost entirely in bed watching "The West Wing" on DVD.

We've never watched the West Wing...there isn't room in our lives for another TV show and I think both of us didn't want to like the show to begin with because it deals with politics and we tire easily of politics....but we had caught a few shows while channel surfing and had decided to rent the early shows when Erin told us she owned the entire first season on DVD...whoosh....there went a weekend.

And we didn't even get halfway through season one.

What's worse...or better depending on your level of denial...Erin came back from visiting family with season two in hand.

I may be out of contact well into June.

Now it's 2 a.m. on Monday and I don't really have time to blog, but Amy works for an hour this afternoon and I swore I was going to use that time to clean out a closet downstairs (Erin's evil influence is at work again) so we can store all of Amy's bread baking supplies in there. Should I succeed we will have reclaimed our front room for things that have not been seen for some time...like furniture.

When Amy gets home from work I'm sure she'll want to relax...and I'll want to join her because we don't get to spend enough time together...

Plus if I don't join her, she might watch the next episode of The West Wing without me.