Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Jubilee

In biblical times, every 50 years marked the "Jubilee" - debts were forgiven, slaves were freed, and land was returned to its original owners. Jubilee years also required that farmers "rest" their land allowing nature time to replenish it.

Although this is our traditional summer trek to Ohio which Amy and I have made for 11 or 12 years, this year is a bit different as we're also using it to acknowledge a special milestone - no not my birthday we observed that by flying on planes occupied by people with small bladders - we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of Amy's parent's - Bernie and Priscilla

A half century of love and patience...not necessarily always in that order I suspect...which is a remarkable feat by anyone's standards - certainly mine.

Unlike biblical times, there won't be any slaves freed or land returned but we've made arrangements to get all of the children and grandchildren together in one place - something that grows increasingly difficult as the kids get older - for at least a few days.

It won't be anything too will be family.

But perhaps - like the rules regarding the lands of old - this small effort on our parts will serve to nourish and replenish two wondrous hearts - hearts that have blessed so many.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Walking To Ohio

We had a fairly uneventful one questioned our carry-on bag of meat or the baggies of spices Amy stashed in our luggage.

We flew from Austin to Minneapolis, being as this is the most inconvenient route conceivable to get to Ohio and therefore makes sense to the airline industry. From there we took a 50-seat jet to Cincinnati...although the airport is actually in Kentucky - again if you let logic creep into your thoughts you're going to strain something so go with it.

Amy and I had the last seats in the tiny jet next to the one and only bathroom. It was an hour-and-a-half flight, and I swear at least 30 people - Amy thinks it was everyone except the pilot - used the restroom during that time. After a while, we started wondering if there was something we should have known about the Minneapolis/St.Paul airport before we left, like everyone who used the numerous and spacious bathrooms there came down with Ebola. I have never seen so many people use a restroom on an aircraft. It gave new meaning to the term "non-stop flight."

They did take away our meat on the puddle jumper... not because it was meat, but because all carry-on luggage over the size of a cracker jack box was being checked due to the aircraft's diminutive size. Presumably, if they had allowed room on the plane for carry-on luggage, they would have had to sacrifice something else, like the restroom, and believe me that might have had catastrophic consequences.

Upon arriving in Cincinnati, we deplaned directly onto the tarmac. It was like a scene out of Casablanca except there was a carry-on bag full of meat waiting for us which would be hard to incorporate into any movie plot that didn't include members of the Donner party.

Then our real journey began.

I'm under the impression the Cincinnati airport is in Kentucky but it could actually be in Indiana or Oklahoma.

We left the tarmac and entered the terminal building whereupon we walked about 2 miles to reach a moving sidewalk. That allowed us to walk and glide for another few miles all the way following signs promising "baggage claim area ahead." Then the moving sidewalks disappeared and we started hoofing it again thinking it couldn't be much further...we were wrong...apparently that's simply where they ran out of moving sidewalk. After a mile or two, we finally reached the end of the line...or at least that terminal building. The baggage claim area was no where in sight. Instead we found what appeared to be a bus terminal.

I'm not kidding.

There was a woman standing there directing us to board a bus which then took us across miles and miles of concrete to yet another building. I'm not sure if we went through any time zones along the way, although I'm certain we didn't leave the continental United States since no one asked for a passport.

Upon exiting the bus, we were greeted by a sign reading "baggage claim area ahead."

And so we walked...then there were stairs...then an escalator...then another mile or two of corridors and an occasional sign reading "baggage claim area ahead." I became convinced these signs were strategically placed along the way after consultation with members of the psychiatric community at spots where it was deemed folks were most likely to simply give up and either pitch camp, start homesteading or commit suicide.

Some 30 minutes after we exited our plane, we finally reached "baggage claim"- I now have an idea of what the feeling will be when I reach the actual "promised land."

The only thing I could think of was, "Man, if I had known we were going to have to hike 32 miles I would have used the restroom on the plane before we left."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Happy Birthday!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO... AILEEN QUINN 34 (Played Annie in "Annie," the 1982 film featuring the cartoon strip character.)

DANIELLE BRISEBOIS 36 (Played Stephanie Mills on "Archie Bunker's Place" and "All in the Family." Brisebois later joined the musical group The New Radicals, which had a UK hit "You Get What You Give.")

JOHN CUSACK 39 (Cusack claims he only became popular in high school after he started appearing in films with gorgeous actresses. Cusack flicks: "Must Love Dogs" (2005), "I.D." (2003), "The Runaway Jury" (2003), "Hoffman" (2002), "Adaptation" (2002), "Cosmic Banditos" (2002), "Adaptation" (2001), "Serendipity" (2001), "America's Sweethearts" (2001), "High Fidelity" (2000), "Being John Malkovich" (1999), "Cradle Will Rock" (1999), "Grosse Pointe Blank" (1997), "Con Air" (1997), "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997), "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994), "Sixteen Candles" (1984).)

MARY STUART MASTERSON 39 (Actress. "The Sisters" (2005), "Leopold Bloom" (2003), "Benny & Joon" (1993), "Some Kind Of Wonderful" (1987))

JESSICA HECHT 40 (Actress. "Friends," "The Single Guy.")

JOHN ELWAY 45 (Former Denver Broncos quarterback. In 1981, before he became a pro football player, the New York Yankees baseball club signed Elway to a one-year minor league contract. In his previous college baseball season, Elway, an outfielder, had a .316 batting average.)

KATHY BATES 57 (Actress. "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (2004), "Around the World in 80 Days" (2003), "The Tulse Luper Suitcases: The Moab Story" (2003), "Who Shot Victor Fox" (2002), "About Schmidt" (2002), "Dragonfly" (2002), "Primary Colors" (1998), "A Home of Our Own" (1993). Best Actress Oscar for her role in 1990's "Misery.")

LEON PANETTA 67 (Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff.)

PAT MORITA 73 (The actor's real first name is Noriyuki. Played Arnold Takahashi on "Happy Days." "The Karate Kid movies" (1984-94) Mr. Morita states he was born June 28, 1932, not on August 28 or in 1930 or 1933 as reported by some sources. Other Morita Movies: "Down and Derby" (2005), "The Biggest Fan" (2002), "BombShell" (2002), "The Stoneman" (2002), "Unleashed" (2002).)

MEL BROOKS 79 (The actor and director's real name is Melvin Kaminsky. Brooks is the co-creator of the 1960s-era TV series, "Get Smart," and is responsible for Maxwell Smart's famous shoe phone. The idea was born after Brooks picked up everything in sight and answered, "Hello." Brooks films: "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993), "Spaceballs" (1987), "History of the World-Part I" (1981), "High Anxiety" (1977), "Young Frankenstein" (1974), "Blazing Saddles" (1973).) Comedienne

GILDA RADNER would have been 59 today. (She appeared on "Saturday Night Live" for five years from 1975 to 1980. Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989. Her husband, Gene Wilder, was at her bedside when she passed away.)

MICHAEL D. MAIN 48...(No movie credits, but I once had my picture taken with Danny Kaye).

I'm on vacation!
See ya when I see ya!!

P.S. Amy just informed me we're traveling with "meat." Once again our carry-on could be mistaken for is a wonderful adventure.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Connecting With The Light

I am a man of faith - I have faith that the light will return soon.

It will not appear with a great blinding optical crescendo, but rather unobtrusively...a gentle flickering glimmer at first which will then steady itself into a constant unassuming glow.

I have seen the light before and I know it shall return.

It will be green.

Please don't confuse me with folks in Roswell whose faith relies upon the appearance - or reappearance depending on their level of indoctrination - of little green men. Likewise please don't associate me with people in Berkeley or the beaches of the west coast whose enlightenment requires certain deep breathing exercises involving greenery...sometimes aided by crystals, flames and or a bong.

Nay, I am not one of those believers.

No my friends, mistake me not either for those whose faith revels in the greed of green tinted paper which falsely portends happiness.

Those are fleeting faiths...mine is time tested.

I am a believer in the resurrection and the light.

Actually the resurrection of the light.

The little freakin' green light on my cable modem which signals that I have a connection to the outside world.

Right now it's dark...vacant...hollow - and it's really ticking me off.

I sit detached from the world - unable to send an email, check in at the office, make adjustments to our bank balance, or publish this bit of wisdom - okay so maybe there's one upside, but cut me some slack my cable modem is out.

In 12 hours or so we will hop in a car and travel north to Austin. We will then board a plane that will take an incomprehensible and indirect route - wasting vast amounts of fuel - before eventually depositing us in Ohio - the reasoning behind this flight pattern is beyond my level of enlightenment although I suspect the people who dream up these cheap airline fares are required to adhere to standards of confusion....perhaps they have stock in Exxon...or friends in Berkeley...or both.

The point is I have things to do before we leave and those things require that I get on the Internet.

Yet I am dead in the digital water.

I know what must be done. I have checked the connections. Unplugged and re-plugged the power supply. There is no sensible explanation for this disruption, the service was working only moments ago and I have not altered my position in this chair much less anything else.

Pathetically I must capitulate for I have no choice. I must call on those who claim a higher power - customer support. I dread is a betrayal of all that I know to be true...the tenets of common sense.

I know from the outset that there will be no "support"...there will be only heretics, put in place merely to placate me, to divert my attention from my convictions with silly questions and requests that I perform rituals spelled out in their dogma...their doctrine...their "customer support manuals."

Yet lacking all semblance of a spine I will comply with their apostasy, first to pacify the "national" help desk and then to placate the cable cultist I will be connected to "in my area." He will convince me to repeat everything I have already performed, duplicate the same mindless rites...knowing full well they will produce the same outcome. I will have no choice, but to appease him...this digital demon.

And then he will say these words, "It's not working."

Despite being armed with this knowledge I will subject myself to this nonsense because I have no other choice. I will let them pretend they can actually come between me and the light...all the while knowing my path will remain dark.


So I made the went exactly as I said and eventually I was told there were only two options: "We can schedule a technician to come out to your home or you can take your cable modem to one of our convenient offices."

Alas, these are not options...I am being misled by false prophets. We will be long gone on vacation before any member of this cable coven appears and I am not empowered to embark on a trek anywhere, I need to get some work done and some sleep, not stand in line to swap out a cable modem.

The technical Pharisee offers no sympathy and no other option.

I hang up in disgust.

And then I see it.

The subtle flicker...which grows into a steady glow.

Why did I allow doubt to enter the equation?

I have been faithless and yet you have been forgiving.

Patience in all things.

I have seen the light...and it is green.

Start Your Day With A Sunset

A nice picture of sunset....on Mars.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sleep With Me

I woke up this morning startled...made all the worse since it was 4:30 and Amy and I had decided we could stretch our Sunday sleep schedule to almost 8 a.m. - a luxury of sorts brought about by the fact we had both showered enough to pass for "cleansed" at church, and most of Amy's pre-church prep work was in the bag.

I'm not sure what woke me but I knew as soon as I opened my eyes there was no sense trying to fall back asleep - not that I didn't try - and knowing Amy was so exhausted I didn't want to risk tossing and turning too much so I got out of bed, grabbed a book and went out to the couch. I still woke Amy but she managed to forgive me or forget me or both and slip back into slumber.

Admittedly my sleep schedule is about as out of whack as it's ever been, but I had stayed up long after Amy drifted away last night watching "84 Charing Cross Road " to the point where I turned off the T.V. knowing I was getting too involved in the film - which we've watch innumerable times - and I didn't want to cede any more moments to its charms which could instead be surrendered to slumber.

Nonetheless, some four hours later I was awake, and I'm still uncertain as to why.

However I'm going to assign a reason to it for closure's sake - the reason is I need prayer.

Actually I don't need prayer for me; I need prayer for friends and relations and okay maybe a tiny bit for me.

My eldest niece Sarah is sick. She returned from a mission's trip to Venezuela the other day and came down with something upon her return. It's probably nothing, but it was Venezuela and I only get one or two chances a year to see Sarah, the most extensive of which is our family vacation and I want her healthy. My motives are purely selfish, Sarah laughs at all my attempts at humor no matter how lame they may be and I don't want to risk some doctor curing her of that particular mental illness accidentally while treating her for whatever Venezuelan virus with which she managed to clear customs.

On perhaps a more serious note I am asking you to stop and pray for my friend Matt...who sometimes leaves comments here and elsewhere as "Mr. J."

Matt is in New Jersey - we've never met - but his faith and upbeat attitude astound and inspire me. His story is one you should read for yourself, but right now suffice it to say he's sick and that's a very serious thing which could have a profound effect on some young lives that have had more than their share of profound realities.

So I ask that you spend one or two moments asking God to touch Sarah and Matt, guide their doctors and boldly ask for healing.

These aren't the things that startled me out of sleep, but they are the matters that weighed heavy on me today.

I am tired now and will sleep soon.

I will sleep better though knowing I'm not praying alone.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

This Is Going To Be A Trip

When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained. ~ Mark Twain

Each year when we are coming home from our annual vacation/family reunion in Ohio I vow that the next year we will pack light. In truth I could get by with a toothbrush, a razor, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, underwear, socks, sandals, a few tee shirts and tennis a shirt without any slogan on it for church. Heck, I could probably pack everything I need into a WalMart bag.

I can guarantee though that we will lug more stuff with us onto the airplane than I knew we owned, sometimes we even take empty suitcases knowing we'll not be able to fit everything we brought with us back into the luggage we've crammed full for the trip there.

It's not like we're going camping...everywhere we go in Ohio there will be modern conveniences, including washing machines and dryers...but we will over-pack. We'll pack for warm weather, for cold weather, for wet weather, and for the Rapture - you can't be too careful.

This lunacy is something I've learned to accept, if not embrace.

Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.
~ George Orwell

I'm as guilty as Amy, although Amy is the only one who insists on packing food - she does a lot of cooking while we're on vacation and "you can't get real food" in Ohio. We once took a "carry-on" bag full of frozen meat on our trip - you know you're a redneck if your carry-on luggage is a cooler full of fajita meat. That carry-on luggage didn't fit in any carry-on compartments by the way so we had to beg and cajole various flight attendants along the way into stashing our meat in secret places they apparently have on aircraft for people who travel with mini-refrigerators. I felt certain someone was going to double check to make sure our last name wasn't Dahmer, but no one batted an eyelash or even asked if my middle name was Wayne...apparently traveling with frozen meat is not the most absurd thing airline personnel have seen. Yes, that disturbs me too but I'd rather not dwell on it.

We leave for Ohio very early on Tuesday and Amy is now starting to throttle up into panic mode. There are lists being made, piles of clothes are appearing, luggage is being dragged out from closets and the garage amid periodic tearful outbursts that we need to clean the house before we leave - something that would be a lot easier if we didn't spend these next few days tearing apart the house packing. That, by the way, is something I have learned only to think, not say aloud.

The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad ~ Salvador Dali

We're making plans to pay bills, avoid paying bills, get a fist full of traveler's checks and doing our mental best to reach that state of bliss where the economics of taking a vacation are no longer a factor - some folks think of this as denial...I prefer not to think about it at all.

It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane ~ Phillip K. Dick

Soon one of my favorite parts of the ordeal will begin - Amy will start putting spices into baggies. I'm not really certain as to why - but presumably they don't sell "real spices" in Ohio either. Amy will stuff baggies with white powders as well as green leafy substances and then cram the baggies into our luggage - no doubt mine. This will, of course, provoke some sleepless moments for me as I envision being pulled aside by gruff airport security officers who will soon introduce me and every one of my body cavities to a drug sniffing dog named Bruno. Amy packs food, I leave space for paranoia.

This year will be easier though...we don't have to kennel the dogs, or stop the mail because Erin is staying at the house. Amy tried to coax her into coming with us, but somehow the thought of spending a week or two with 18 or more complete strangers who have relatives who pack meat in their luggage didn't appeal to her as much as having a nice big house to herself and three smelly dogs - washing the dogs before we go is on a list somewhere I'm sure - there's no accounting for common sense.

Insanity doesn't run in my family. It gallops. ~ Cary Grant

Since Amy is working today and tomorrow and I'm working right up until the moment we have to leave for the airport at 4 a.m. Tuesday the frazzle of preparing for flight should intensify exponentially in the next 72 hours or so.

During those precious few hours we'll make a mad rush to the grocery store to buy food to snack on during our flight - this actually isn't crazy since airlines now offer you a microscopic bag of miniature pretzels as sustenance if you're not traveling completely around the first class - as well as food for Erin, food for the dogs, and of course the "real food" that they don't sell in tortillas, refried beans, enchilada sauce and meat.

Eventually we'll start cramming stuff into suitcases with mad abandon, the idea of folding clothes and packing sensibly will fall by the wayside faster than a statement of fidelity from Bill Clinton. Somewhere in the process I will be asked to sit on a suitcase to make it close - if the situation becomes dire enough it may actually be a request to sit next to Amy on the suitcase while we both jump up and down while saying silent prayers that white powder and green leafy stuff doesn't start spewing out the sides.

I'll pack enough books, magazines and crossword puzzles to keep us and the entire population of Delaware entertained. I've never been to Delaware by the way...I don't have enough luggage for a trip that far.

And then, sooner than we can believe, Tuesday morning will arrive. Lacking all confidence in our sense of over-preparedness we will throw caution to the wind and leave. The dogs will no doubt still smell, the house will probably be in shambles, and Erin will be giving serious consideration to changing the locks while we're gone.

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. ~ Robin Williams

Thank you God...I can't wait. I really do love this time of year.

Well Now I'm Famous

The aforementioned article on my Real Live Preacher came out in our local daily newspaper today. The newspaper gets religion one day a week, on Saturday. It's actually a very nice article. My contribution was edited to I think four or five words, which no doubt improved its quality substantially.

It was good to see an article thats primary focus was not on the fact that occasionally uses "salty" language, although the author did manage to slip it in twice.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Oh Me Of Little Faith

We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3

One of my favorite passages.

Nothing of value is gained without some suffering. God seems to teach me that in many ways.

Go Spurs Go!

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Today is delegated to moving a pile of debris out of the backyard and to the dump, squeezing in some sleep, and yes...subjecting myself to the torture of game seven of the NBA finals. So barring some change I'm not posting anything else.

I did want to mention that if anyone is looking for a very cool distraction...this certainly fits the bill (dial up users don't even attempt it).

Go Spurs Go!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Could The Day Get Any Better?

I dragged my sorry rear to work around midnight only to be met by a flurry of fires, shootings, fatal car accidents and of course the general malaise of a city whose championship quality basketball team was spanked to the point the phones lines were lighting up at Child Protective Services.

It was non stop phone calls and writing and clarifying and explaining to people over the phone that I didn't know if it was their sister who was drunk and driving the wrong way on a freeway at 2 a.m. resulting in her death and an hours long traffic tie up...I have a personal policy not to confirm family member's deaths to people over the phone unless I can avoid it - sometimes I've done it inadvertently and believe me it is not a fun.

Anyway, had I not gone into work early I'd probably still be there, simply writing spot news. I've come to the conclusion that when the Spurs win a championship San Antonio behaves, but when the city expects them to and they don''s like a full moon night at the Rubber Ramada.

The highlight of the morning was finding a story...and audio...of our Governor referring to a reporter with a less than flattering term. People who think George W. Bush is clueless have no idea the choices Texas voters have when it comes to Governor....

I ran the heck out of that story.

I managed to struggle through the day, make it home and crash and then had to immediately get up and go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. My driver's license expires in less than a week, the same day we fly out of Texas, and I am certain had I not renewed it I'd be corralled by the T.S.A. and forced to undergo a body cavity search or something more demeaning - like being locked in a room and made to watch re-runs of game six of the NBA finals - until I confessed to something.

I have not been to the DMV in years. Texas has become very progressive, you can do a lot of stuff on line - including renew your license - but every once in a while they want to actually see you...this was my year to be "seen." I sort of thought something might have changed at the DMV in ten years or so, but I was wrong. Nothing has changed. Not the paint, not the people, not the grainy TV set on the Home Shopping Network with a sign reading, "Please don't change the channel" slapped on the front ...absolutely everything was exactly as I remembered it.

It was a dingy, crowded bureaucratic cattle barn.

I had all my paperwork, my check written, all I needed was to renew my license. I was given a number...number 2...and told to sit and wait as they called number 48.

The DMV is a place that is perfect for people watching. There are all types. I spent 30 or 40 minutes sitting with a mother and her 15 year old daughter both of whom appeared to be in competition for careers as Paris Hilton impersonators.

A State Trooper came in five times yelling for the owner of, "the little red BMW" who had parked illegally in a handicapped spot. He became more furious each time he marched into the room and no one responded. Finally he came back with a name - it's the DMV they can look up the driver's name in their only took about 30 minutes for the trooper to figure that out...there's Gubernatorial material waiting to be mined there - and upon hearing her name bellowed a woman whom I swear was intoxicated stood up thinking it was her turn to get in line.

She was number 38 and the owner of the BMW. She managed to escape arrest and left to go move her car as the crowd of folks let out a collective sigh of discontent realizing now the most entertaining thing in the room was once again some woman selling a 99 dollar sewing kit on the grainy TV channel no one was allowed to touch.

Finally....two hours after I arrived my number came up. In two hours they processed 54 people. It only took about 45 seconds to complete my renewal...I have no idea what the previous 54 people were doing there.

I left the charming DMV offices trying not to think of the contagions I had probably been exposed to during my stay and got in my car. As I pulled out I had to laugh. There was the lady in the little red BMW circling around the parking lot. As I pulled out, she whipped into my now empty parking spot but in my rear view mirror I could read her lips....

I might have inadvertently met the next Governor...who knows?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


"We aren't the champions...we aren't the champions..."

Come on sing-a-long....

I wanted the Spurs to win tonight for many reasons but I'm beginning to think the primary ones are that I'm so sick of listening to Hubie Brown say, "I like what the _________ are doing tonight" not to mention every word that comes out of Bill Walton's mouth...

On to game seven...I may simply set my alarm for the fourth quarter for that's time to wrestle back control of my schedule from the Spurs and caffeine.

Time To Go...Spurs Go!

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future...

120 minutes and counting...

Tonight is the night the Spurs could do it...reset my internal clock. Oh yeah, they could win the title tonight too.

That would be nice.

Of course it dawned on me today that even if the Spurs win and I can try to adapt to some type of regular sleep schedule again...I go on vacation in a week which will only throw everything back out of whack.

I surrender. I suppose I should do that with more things.

Oh well, time to go for a walk...and clear my head before I turn into a raving superstitious lunatic screaming at the TV.

I can't wait.

Go Spurs Go!

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Team

There's a lot of talk in San Antonio today and as you might expect it is all on centered on one subject: The Spurs.

I'll have to admit despite a severe case of sleep deprivation, I'm reveling in last night's victory and feeling pretty confident that San Antonio will capture the NBA crown again. One of the questions being asked by fans, sports talk hosts and newspaper writers is who should be the series MVP? It's a good question, no matter which team wins.

These are two teams in the true sense of the word. Certainly they both have remarkable players, but unlike the Jordan, Shaq, Kobe dominated teams, both the Spurs and the Pistons tend to spread around the work...and the glory.

In the first two games certainly Manu Ginobilli would have to be considered for the MVP, in the next two my vote would probably go to Ben Wallace, and in last night's game there's little question that Robert Horry would be the top vote getter for MVP. Yet in all the games other players have performed admirably, although perhaps not always in such obvious ways as scoring. Bruce Bowen's defense for example has been critical and deserves a lot of credit.

The point I think I'm making is that these guys function better when they stop focusing on individual statistics, count on each other's strengths and at times cover each other's weaknesses.

Isn't that also the key to true spiritual growth?

Certainly you could study the Bible from cover to cover, memorize every verse and become an "expert" in what the Bible least the words. I think we've all met folks who can quote the Bible backwards and forwards and although I do admire their devotion and determination I wouldn't necessarily consider them the most spiritual people I know.

I think to really understand the Bible's wisdom and implications - to grow in Christ - I absolutely must be in the company of others, not necessarily in lockstep with them but sharing my hunger, seeking their wisdom, which means I must be open and willing to listen to varying viewpoints if for no other reason than to help learn tolerance.

I need community to keep me on track...not only a community of people but a community of ideas and questions as well as answers.

We are the body of Christ... and what a team we make when we realize it.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
- Psalm 85:10

Now THAT'S What I'm Talkin' About!

Too sweet tonight.

One of the best NBA games I've ever watched....especially the ending.

Bring it on home to San Antonio guys...we're waiting to win it all.

Go Spurs Go!

Digging Thru My Mental Archives

I've been going through my blog archives a lot in the past few days for multiple reasons. At first I was prompted to start rummaging around in the digitized dust because my friend Chuck asked me to be a guest blogger on his blog and I opted for the easy way out - I found something I wrote a couple of years ago which I had been reminded of by a recent post and I updated it slightly and zipped it off to Chuck. I'm lazy, what can I say?

Also - as I have mentioned repeatedly - I have been tinkering with the inner workings of the blog which has required me to go through some months post by post to restore old comments or to make the archived posts work properly with Firefox. I didn't know my very old entries didn't show up right in Firefox until Chuck made his request of me so again I can blame him for my recent wallowing in tedium. This by the way could prove to be a growing movement: when in doubt....blame Chuck. It's a short enough credo to fit on a bumper sticker or tee shirt which seems to be a necessity for many a belief system these days.

Okay, I'm starting to ramble...personally I think that's probably Chuck's fault too.

None of this has much to do with much of anything, except this is Father's day and Amy not so subtly reminded me to keep my phone nearby, presuming our children will call me. Whether they call or not is not really a critical thing to me, I have a pretty healthy confidence in my relationship with our kids, so much so I'll likely take a nap soon and turn off the phone.

I wasn't always confident in my relationships with the kids though (I don't blame Chuck for that only because I didn't know him then). That is what got me thinking about something I wrote nearly 5 years ago, before I had a blog.

A few moments ago I reread it and I decided to post it here today as a reminder - primarily to me - of how perspective changes with time. Some of the thoughts I had when I originally wrote this piece are hard for me to even imagine today...some of them are a little painful and embarrassing. Yet they were honest feelings of mine at the time and writing them down proved helpful. It took a long time after I wrote it for me to include the piece in the writings section of my main web site.

My relationship with my kids - okay my stepchildren - has shifted and grown, ebbed and flowed, bubbled and blossomed in all sorts of ways since I put those thoughts into writing. Many of those changes were dictated by circumstance - their Mom went through a series of health crises as did our budget - some were simply the result of the inevitable and relentless rampage of time.

Our children are all now adults...obviously we deal with them at a different level.

Anyway this is what I wrote back then - caveats included - again I wrote this nearly five years ago, but back then I called it:

Step Lightly Stepdad

I hesitated posting this. I wrote the first part of this a couple of years ago in a fit of self pity. I'm glad I eventually came back to it with the wisdom God gives us through the passage of time. I look at it now as simply another step in being a stepfather.

The ongoing saga of a stepfather without a clue.

I touched my 16-year old stepdaughter's butt yesterday. It was a harmless gesture, nothing sexual about it, but it prompted a response from her you might expect, and it triggered a reaction in me I didnt really anticipate.

My wife, Amy, my stepdaughter Lisa and I were in line at the movie theatre, waiting to buy tickets when, as I stared up at the marquee of 16 avenues of theatrical escape, I reached down and gave the posterior in front of me a pat. It was a gentle double-tap and it was meant to call my wife's attention to the fact that the line had moved and we should be like the cinema seeking cattle we were and move ahead. Unfortunately the tookus in front of me was not my wife's, it was my stepdaughter's. My gentle pat was met with a look of horror perfected by 16 year olds everywhere that said," Are you nuts?" and an audible response laden with the same attitude of "EXCUSE ME???"

I, of course, apologized immediately and said it was a case of mistaken identity. Posterior confusion. Gluteus embarassus. Amy was also quick to fervently put forth the same defense there amid the crowd of dozens of eager reality escapists and add to it with the exculpation, "Its not like your stepfather is touching you all the time!" A few seconds of that type of awkward, at times mortifying and yet oddly amusing, banter took place before Lisa pronounced rather forcefully, "I dont want to talk about this any more-EVER! I think I may be sick."

In fact, what I recognized at that moment is that I dont touch my stepdaughters at all. We dont have that type of relationship. I'm not talking about weird, evil stepfather type touching referred to in sordid gossip, on psychologist couches, or all too often in courtrooms. I'm talking about simple affection. We don't hug. We keep our distance physically and emotionally. I am to blame.
My stepchildren have a close relationship with their father, stepmother, and their mom and so simply by the order of the draw I'm going to be low man on the list of parents. This is not the kid's fault, it's a position that I have fostered more than fought.

I lost my parents when I was a teenager and moved in with my Aunt and Uncle. I never established much of a relationship with them during those years in part I think because I for some reason felt they were trying to be my parents. I had parents...they died, but I had them. I always wanted my stepkids to know their Dad is their only Dad, and that I am another resource for them. I love them, but I tried to be careful, especially when they were much younger, to never steal away those once in a lifetime childhood moments meant for fathers and their children. I've always thought it was a pretty noble attitude, but admittedly it also allowed me to remain distant.

I grew up in an odd familial setting; I felt at the time that I was having a family forced upon me. I know what that feels like and I decided early on in our marriage that my relationship with my kids would come naturally; I wouldn't try to win them over or compete with their other parents. I would play the role God laid out for me, as best I could, even if it meant minimal involvement. That was the path of least resistance - now I know it's also the path of least returns.

My oldest stepdaughter, Tiffany, was the first to endure my parental experimentation. Tiffany had a hard time with her parent's break-up. She can at times seem aloof, though I don't think that's purposeful, I think it's more a result of her inherent independence and self-reflection. Tiffany has always been intelligent beyond her years and not one to be smooth talked, coddled, or conned. She's introspective and logical by nature, and I think that makes her quick to sum up others. When we first met she eyed me with the trust deserving of a door-to-door snake oil salesman, and I'm not fully convinced there isn't an inkling of that disdain still lingering back there. Some of it probably deserved. I decided right off, I wouldn't try to win her over, I wouldn't bribe her, con her, push my love on her, I'd let her come to me when she was ready. Surely, some day she would need me. Now that she is nearly 21 our relationship has improved greatly though I don't know if we'll ever be as close as I would have hoped. I don't think she feels she needs me still.

We laugh together much more often than in the early years. I doubt she'd admit it, but I think we share a similar sense of humor. I gave her, her first driving lessons. I played the silent chauffeur for her junior prom out of worry about her safety, and conversations between us come much more easily these days. However there is still a distance that is tangible, and telling. Once, 6 or so years ago, when we were in church, the family was sitting in a row and I put my arm around Amy and stretched my other arm out the other way, around Tiffany. It wasn't really meant as a sign of affection. Honestly I felt cramped and needed to stretch, but Tiffany quickly asked me to move my arm. She did it with all politeness and no over-reaction. There were explanations; it was crowded, she couldn't lean back comfortably; but I saw, or at least felt, a bit of that repel the snake-oil salesman attitude and I knew in my heart that stretching my arm around my stepdaughter symbolized a relationship we didn't have, or worse that I never earned.

Until recent years, with the exception of poses for family pictures, I could literally count the times Tiffany and I have hugged. Three times when she was at our home with her first real boyfriend and leaving to go back to college Tiffany hugged me. She was hugging everyone, and I was in the room. Each time she hugged me too. The first time it happened, it probably meant nothing to her, to me it was enormous. We had conquered that small bit of physical space. The fourth time was in July of 2001, the family was about to drive off on our annual trip to Ohio, and that year for the first time, Tiffany wasn't coming along. Before we drove away, I walked up to her and hugged her. I am ashamed to say that was the first time I initiated a hug of my eldest stepdaughter.

Now, it comes easier, but it's still associated with leaving or arriving....We don't hug spontaneously; something that I suppose is the culmination of my hands off strategy early on and my inherent defense mechanism of not allowing people too close to me, for fear they'll leave me.

Joey, my stepson, has always been a different story. Joey and I hit it off pretty well immediately and it was with him that I had the hardest time making sure I wasn't robbing his true father of moments. There were times when I failed at that. I selfishly allowed myself to play the hero, do the cool stuff; say, "Yes" when I should have said, "No." Joey is the only one of our kids to break the hug barrier. Before Amy and I were married, but when we were engaged, Joey would come to my house and at one point he suddenly decided he would hug me each time he arrived or left. I'm not sure what prompted it and I admit I was a little befuddled by it. Each time he did it, his sisters gave him a look probably seen before by war time traitors, but it never deterred him. Since those early days I've become used to Joey befuddling me.

Joey is creative, and unconfined by societal dictates. Unlike most kids, he doesn't embarrass easily, he has a tremendous sense of self-esteem, a sense of humor that won't quit, and a hoard of sarcasm that I guiltily admit contributing towards. Mercifully it's not steeped in cynicism, a trait I am forever thankful he somehow rejected from me. He has great talents and is blessed with little self-doubt. I've come to a position where I simply watch him with wonder thinking how far can he go and I thank God I resisted the temptation to try to douse his many dreams in hopes of saving him from future pain. He's achieving his dreams, unfettered by my needlessly cautious nature. Joey doesn't hug me anymore, but not many 19 year old boys hug and opportunities for closeness are few and far between with him away in college. I have no problem putting my arm around him and we can talk openly about most things and the list of topics is growing daily. Whether he listens....who knows.

With Lisa it started out differently, she is the youngest and at first seemed to adjust to oddities of parents and stepparents with a certain amount of ease. As the years went by Lisa's loyalties shifted some and she seemed to waiver. Lisa is the most social of all our children, which can be misrepresented as being self absorbed at times. I don't think that's the case. I think Lisa is just being a normal girl. She's concerned about clothes, being stylish, not being embarrassed and all that usual stuff. I'm so thankful for that. She's a normal kid, despite a broken home as they say.

Lisa and I had a fun relationship when she was little; we'd take walks with the dogs, I'd teach her how to play poker, or other games. As she grew a bit older, she distanced herself from me. I remember how hurt I felt when she asked Amy to, "tell Michael not to swat me when I walk by." Swatting her gently as she passed by my recliner had been a game between only us since we first met. Oftentimes she'd approach, give me that look and then giggle as she tried to sidestep by me. Then one day, she said "enough!" Tiffany was there, adding to the drama with the intensity of a defense lawyer saying something like, "Yeah, he's always trying to touch us!" It cut to the bone and sounded evil and once again Amy said, in what in my mind back then was an almost questioning manner, "Well he's not touching you in a bad way.....right?"

That day I felt like I had no relationship with the girls at all. I was a weird stranger that they didn't trust, or really even like to be around and part of me wondered if they literally feared I was some creepy guy.

I didn't touch the girls in any way, not a hug, or a pat for years after that. I made a purposeful decision not to. I had lost all confidence in our relationship. I obviously thought I was something more in their minds than I was, and I didn't want to risk making it worse.

That was the hardest day of being a step dad...I thought no matter what I did, no matter how many years I spent with these kids, I was not family. I would never really have a relationship with them where they even trusted me completely, much less loved me. These days I'm certain I was wrong about that, but boy that day I accidentally touched a tush brought it all rushing back.

Today I don't think my relationship with the girls has ever been better. I love them like my own daughters. I accept that there is only so much room in their lives for me. Now, however, it's a comfy room.

I still hope one day they'll give some thought to my role in their lives. They will see my failings and flaws, but hopefully they'll also see a man of honor and faith who loves them deeply and only wants what is best for them.

I also hope one day I'll be able to tell them that.

Back to today: In a couple of weeks all of the kids will join us at our favorite summer retreat in Ohio and it will be wonderful. I've posted this picture at least three times on this blog, but it seems appropriate to post it once more. In a few weeks I'll have a new picture with which to replace it...that's how family life is welcome the new experiences but appreciate them all the more because of the old ones.

Click to enlarge

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Father's Gift Redux

It's a funny thing about memories...sometimes I forget what I've already remembered.

I sat here this evening thinking about what I would write about my Dad for Father's day. It came to me quickly so I knocked out several paragraphs thinking I would likely finish it in the morning when suddenly it all seemed extremely familiar. So much so that I stopped and did a search of my blog - that "search my blog" thing on the sidebar is very handy by the way.

As it turns out there was a reason it seemed familiar - I had written almost the exact same thing only last year. I had used identical phrasing, and I was certainly heading on a course to make the same point.

I had even pulled out a scrapbook of photos and scanned one of the same photographs.

Memories are fragile things, and I like to think I wrapped this one up gently and kept it safe in a place in the shelter of my mind where I knew no harm could come to it.

That is certainly better than thinking senility is already setting in, which by the way is not something I'm putting up for public input.

Anyway, I figure if I barely remember writing it, you'll forgive me for reposting it this Father's Day with only a few editorial adjustments.

I forgot the post not the message.

I'll never forget you Dad.

A Father's Gift

I never got to know my father well...he was 35 years old when I was born, his third son.

I know he was a World War II veteran, serving from 1942 to 1946. He wanted very much to be a pilot, but because he was color blind, he instead joined the Army and worked in communications. To my knowledge he never went into battle.

I know he met my mother on a train as they both traveled to Austin where they were marginal students at the University of Texas.

My father was a newspaper man, as was his father. During his career he managed production areas of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Newsday. However at the end of his life he was commuting from our home on Long Island to Rochester, New York where he worked as a typesetter. It was a job for which he was highly overqualified, but it was the only work he could get. His career had spiraled downward - in part because he couldn't beat the demon of drink.

My father had a wry sense of humor and would go to great lengths to demonstrate it...if only for his own amusement.

For a very brief time in college he drew a comic strip for the University of Texas newspaper, The Daily Texan. The strip featured a character whose lisp resulted in him pronouncing the letter S as "th". Apparently my Dad started the strip with the sole intent of getting one cartoon published and he succeeded. That cartoon featured the lisping character complaining about his algebra class and saying, "I don't know ma'ath from a hole in the ground". At the time, that was pretty risqué stuff. It got by the faculty editor and into print. It also ended my father's career as a cartoonist.

My father loved photography, which was both a blessing and a curse. My brothers and I have a lot of photographs from our childhood, but not many featuring Dad...because he was usually the one taking the pictures.

On the night of February 22nd, 1972 my father was leaving work when he suffered a massive heart attack. In a cold parking lot in the dead of winter hundreds of miles from his family, he died. I was 14. He was 49... two years one year older younger than I am today.

I remember my mother waking me to break the news.

I also remember that my father had already prepared me for that moment.

It was in January of 1971. I was standing in the driveway of our home crying as I repeatedly tossed a rubber ball against our garage door. It was a senseless lonely game but it made as much sense to me as anything else that day. My father came out to the driveway, and pulled me into his arms. He told me he was leaving the next morning to bury his father, but that I shouldn't cry. He said his father had lived a long and productive life, and death was inevitable for us all. Then he passed along the lesson I will always cherish. He told me crying was okay, but that I should also celebrate the lives of people I loved. "That way" he said, "they will always live on within you."

Thanks Dad.

That lesson is one I'm glad I didn't miss.

Floyd Harold Main

Time & Tedium

I was going to sit and write tonight since Amy is at work and it seemed like a good opportunity, but I got caught up in more blog tedium (hey, for those who care I am gradually restoring the old comments from when I used Haloscan and Amy did indeed figure out how to fix my archive quagmire).

However now I don't have time to write if I also wish to get in a walk before I go pick up Amy.

Perhaps I'll get up early and write.

Tomorrow is Father's day

It would be nice to spend a few quiet moments writing and remembering my dad before we go to worship our Father.

A walk may wake some memories... no matter what, the tedium can wait.

Nitpicky Stuff

I noticed a little quirky thing on my blog which I have, of course, been obsessing over. So if you're a Bloglines subscriber you may get all these notices of new posts and then find they ain't new. It's an issue dealing with reading some of my archived posts with Firefox...and it matters to no one but me - at least no one has ever said anything to me about it. Still I want it fixed.

As is usually the case, I've fiddled with distracted while reading some blogger help files when I found another thing I thought I could do (bring up my old Haloscan comments and keep my new Blogger comments - that didn't work by the way, at least not yet) and then Amy told me she thought she could do what I originally wanted another way so I've turned that project over to her.

Soon we'll both quit and go spend our time together on this lazy Saturday doing something more meaningful...sitting around doing nothing.

A Saturday morning to waste together...shouldn't be wasted.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Nightmare On Main Street

Is it only me or is every other commercial during the NBA finals promoting an intensely dark demonical apocalyptic movie or television program?

I'm beginning to think when the real apocalypse occurs a lot of folks might say, "Is that it God?"

Really...I have this mental image of folks wandering about disoriented as the world is erupting around them but they aren't dismayed and frightened...they're looking for a theater exit door because they're disappointed with the special effects.

Have I mentioned I've had no sleep? I should probably mention that.

We watched the Spurs game at the home of some friends last night and had actually planned to simply stay there, I'd catch an hour or two of sleep and then go to the office and then pick up Amy on my way home from work. However after the Spurs performance which was followed by a pretty serious and prayerful conversation with our friends about some issues they're facing, Amy and I soon realized neither of us was going to sleep. We ended up driving home at 12:30 and then I simply turned around drove back to work.

I really didn't feel like a zombie probably because I saw what true zombies looked like last night...they look like this:

The Spurs are either auditioning for cameo appearances in some of those end of the world movies or else they have been demonically possessed by a minion of satan in Michigan. My best guess is Michael Moore and he's cursed them with his athletic abilities.

The game was I of course watched every last minute of it.

If you missed it...don't worry there are other zombies to choose from...Gordon sent me a link to Michael Jackson's website.

I hesitate to even put up the link, but I guess I will...only because otherwise you wouldn't believe me when I told you he compares his acquittal on charges of fondling a young boy to the freeing of Nelson Mandela, the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. and the fall of the Berlin wall.

Click here if you're brave enough.

I'm going to sleep now...but I'm leaving the lights on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Shift In Time

I'm in a different time zone...C.D.S.T. or Central Daylight Spurs Time. In order to watch the Spurs in the NBA Finals I have to turn my somewhat sensitive body clock upside down, shake it a few times and roll it across the floor like a bowling ball hoping it wobbles along in something akin to a straight line. In other words, I'm not used to watching games that start at close to 8:30 p.m. and then having to be at work around 2 a.m..

It's resulted in me sleeping away the day, if I'm lucky, and if I'm not lucky it's resulted in me being a pseudo zombie at the office - a pseudo zombie who’s a bit cranky when the Spurs lose.

Last night, when it was evident the Spurs were going to tank I tried to go sleep, unsuccessfully. I got home from work today, fell into bed and woke up about 15 minutes ago.

In another 15 minutes or so I leave for church to break bread with friends, my community of faith. We'll say a short prayer, share a simple meal, probably even talk about the Spurs and then go our different ways...holding onto those moments.

My sense of time is topsy turvy and even though the Spurs lost last night...those moments and that small meal will right me.

Community expands beyond time...oftentimes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I don't watch a lot of daytime TV. Primarily I nap or write during the day plus there doesn't appear to anything of value on the basic cable channels for which we pay 13 bucks a month. Today I was killing some other words eating...and looking for something to watch during the 5-7 minutes it took to wolf down the remaining enchiladas Amy had made a couple of days ago. I swear in that small amount of time I watched 10 seconds of about 20 different commercials for various "Career Schools" while flipping channels.

There was a medical technician school, some Hollywood glamour school, court reporter school, schools for computer technicians, truck went on and on and on and on. They were the only commercials on TV. Mid-morning is obviously prime time for the unemployed.

Then I stopped on a couple of shows where these ads run.

"Cheaters" a show where people, usually people living together without the benefit of marriage but with the benefit of children, suspect their beloved is cheating on them so private detectives go out and prove it for them on national TV and then they confront the cheater and the man/woman with whom the cheater cheats. All this is done with the crying cheated upon person - who presumably called this show's 800 number instead of paying attention to the commercials for a career in body hair removal - leading the way while accompanied by various body guards who are there to protect the host as well as assorted sound men and camera technicians. Then there is yelling, and crying and bleeped out obscenities. Occasionally someone throws a punch. Later there's a follow up where the audience is astonished to learn this blessed union has fallen apart.

Here's a clue...if you are calling the TV show "Cheaters"....your relationship has already fallen apart.

Jerry Springer is still on the air....I couldn't watch long enough to figure out what his exact topic was, but it seemed to be similar. Scantily dressed people screamed words that were bleeped, occasionally their clothing fell off to the point the camera shot had to be blurred - all parties involved were obviously angry with each other. There were body guards to keep people from hitting guests and members of the audience. Sometimes they weren't quick enough to control the rage. Jerry kept his distance.

I turned the TV off and tried to go to sleep but I admit I also said a small prayer that I never need a medical technician or court reporter or truck driver or laser hair removal or...

Monday, June 13, 2005

On The Other Side Of Words

I'm sitting here waiting for the phone to ring. It's sort of an odd feeling - a reporter is going to call. He's the religion writer (take note there's only one) for our major metropolitan newspaper. Not to worry, he doesn't want to know about me, he's apparently writing about Real Live Preacher and wants my "spin" as a member of the church which Gordon pastors.

I'm not sure if this writer knows I work in broadcast journalism which might make the conversation quite brief when he finds out, although I suppose I could always hand the phone off to Erin or Amy...they read Gordon's blog too and are not tainted as "members of the media."

I've always been reluctant to have reporters interview other reporters, there's something sort of weird about that, but I suppose in this instance I don't have my reporter hat on...

I don't really have a reporter hat by the way, or a trench coat. I don't even have press credentials that are valid for anything. I used to collect all the press credentials I was issued, until it became silly. I think the last one I was issued was to cover the "bones of St. Therese" which made a tour stop in San Antonio some years ago. There were thousands of people who came out to pay homage to the portion of her remains and media credentials were necessary to cut in line. That's pretty much all press credentials are good for, to get through crowds - which is probably another reason people think so highly of the media.

Anyway I'm rambling...waiting for the phone to ring because I have nothing else to do until it does. The real problem I'm having is I'm anticipating what the reporter is going to ask. I certainly don't want to sound like I have rehearsed answers...but I don't want to sound stupid either. Odds are that my contribution to this article - which will no doubt be relegated to the virtually unread religion section of the least read paper of the week, the Saturday edition - will be so fractional that there's no sense in thinking about it. I'll be reduced to a quote, and that's only if I say something remotely quotable.

So I'm killing time and taking my mind off it all by blogging...except I'm blogging about thinking about it.

Obviously this isn't working.

I'm going to do a crossword puzzle.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Go Spurs!

Slept all day after church to prepare to watch the game tonight so there really isn't much to be least at halftime. Except for Go Spurs!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

No Meme No More

"The only way to win is not to play."

I think that's actually a quote from the movie "War Games" but I say it all the time in a variety of circumstances. It comes to mind today because I've been "tagged" again to take part in another "meme." I got tagged once before and initially resisted and then capitulated, but I'm now going on record as saying I won't play in future memestry, memestronics, or whatever you want to call it...that is after this one last meme.

I feel compelled to participate this last time because it was Amber who tagged me and I tagged her last time when she was stressing out in the middle of finals.

However take note all memics, memees, enthusiasts - I hereby serve notice I won't play in the future...even if I've tagged you in the past. I can easily see the meme trend getting out of hand and plus I feel a little guilty about tagging I should add that I'm not going to tag anyone with this one...if you want to participate feel free to consider yourself tagged - self meme so to speak.

Okay, enough with the disclaimer and on with the meme which deals with my bookshelf, books I am reading, have read and the like...

Number of books I own: I have no idea, we have hundreds of books and we recently culled a bunch and sold all of them at a garage sale - some lady came by one day and bought a handful and then came by the next and said she wanted all of the books. Still I have two big bookshelves, several small ones, books lined up on my dresser, a pile next to my bed, and a few scattered here and there.

The books by my bed look like this:

One of our less cluttered bookshelves looks like this:

Last book I purchased: Monster by Frank Peretti - I was really hoping it would be a good page turner, mind escape of a book since he hadn't written anything for adults in a long time. I'm still slogging my way through it.

Last book I reread: Common Sense Christianity by Gerald Mann -This is a book I keep by my bedside. I bought a used copy 10 or 12 years ago. It has some wonderful wisdom which I respect. Dr. Mann has fallen a bit in my eyes, but the truths he espoused still touch me. I pick it up all the time and read at least parts of it.

Five books for a desert island:The Bible, by Gordon Atkinson, The World According to Chuck by Chuck Sigars - Hey, I'd want my friend's books with me if I couldn't have any friends with me - A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole - It would help me remember interesting people and maybe make up a few imaginary friends to pass the time, The Giving Tree - By Shel Silverstein - I like to carry a piece of my childhood with me wherever I go.

Book I'd thwack someone on the head with : Random House Unabridged Dictionary - If was going to thwack someone presumably I'd want to leave a lasting impression.

Book I'd like to burn : I couldn't burn a book. First off my mother was a librarian and she taught be better. Secondly I believe burning books serves no purpose unless you want to generate heat or maybe publicity. I don't believe you get people to think like you by denying them access to other's thoughts.

Book that is overrated : The Left Behind Series (forgive me Sarai).

Fun Classics:Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, The Best Short Stories Of O'Henry - By O'Henry, The Love Poems Of John Donne- by John Donne, Aesop's Fables - by Aesop, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Last Book I Read :
Well, I'm still trudging my way through Monster but the last book I finished was George MacDonald - An Anthology 365 Readings by George MacDonald and compiled by C.S. Lewis. I need to return that one, a dear friend loaned it to me...maybe after I flip through it once more.

Five people I tagged to answer these and take a photo of their bookcase :
See disclaimer above. If you want to take part...please consider yourself tagged. If you don't have a blog, feel free to write your answers on The Schwab Blog although you can't post pictures of your bookshelf.

Whew! I'm done.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Weird...You Want Weird?

A couple of readers have recently mentioned some of the odd photos, articles or websites I've referenced here. I do read a lot of newspapers on line and various sources looking for strange things that I might use for my job and that's where most of the stuff comes from..usually.

Believe me there are weirder things out there. Like the taxidermist/artist who sells these little conversation starters - stuffed squirrel lamps.

Please note the lamp shade is not included in the $295.00 price.

If that's not bizarre enough for you...than you really need to log off, go outside, clear your mind...because otherwise you might wander deeper into taxidermy site and find stuff like this -

Those are muskrat feet earrings...reasonably priced at $18.

If you're looking for that quirky little gift that says, "Be careful, my name is Wayne...."

At least it's a good bet the love of your life doesn't already own a pair...hopefully.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Clever Kid & Naked Golden Girls

I'm not big on awards. I suspect people in broadcast news - and for that matter print journalism - give out more awards than any other industry besides acting. I'll admit when I was younger and slightly less jaded it meant something to win an award. The news talk station I work for won a bunch of awards for years and years. We won local awards, state awards; big fancy national awards...all sorts of awards. I still have some of the plaques hanging in front the desk where I'm typing right now - it's not like there's any other place to put them.

At some point my boss realized that not only did all the awards we were winning not translate into pay raises, they in fact cost our department money because every submission required an entry fee. That meant the news department was spending more money which we figured actually lessened the chances of news department employees making more money. So we stopped entering award contests. As a result, we stopped getting plaques and gaudy statuettes. To the surprise of no one it did not result in us getting pay raises though.

Ganns at SuperBlessed gave out awards for Christian websites for a while...he may still, but he seems pretty busy these days with other things like making a living and feeding his family. I once won an award from him for most ludicrous Christian website or something like that which I considered very flattering...I still do. I didn't get a plaque or a statuette of a naked golden woman, but then again he didn't charge an entry fee either.

I'm not making that up by the way...some people give out statuettes of naked golden women. I've won several. The Press Club of Dallas hands them out every year to members of the media in Texas and I think several other states, who in turn pat each other on the back and write stories about themselves winning awards. The stories never mention the winners had to pay to enter the award contest and most fail to include photos of the actual awards because they are positively hideous and embarrassing...and "embarrass" might be considered a pun by some.

They are called "Katie Awards." I don't know who Katie is/was but the statuettes look like something straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

That's the front view of the "newer" awards. They were toned down a bit following complaints about the awards given out 10 or 15 years ago which were even worse - they didn't include the giant fig leaf and they made Barbie dolls look flat-chested. The rear view is also anatomically correct in addition to being the best description possible.

If you didn't know better you'd think the Katie awards were given to plastic surgeons or strippers.

Needless to say I don't keep any Katie awards at home...instead they gather dust in a closet at my office because no one wants to display them except the guys in the sports department whose motives are less than reverent.

Besides sports guys, the only person I've met who seemed covetous of a Katie award was a member of a construction crew remodeling our offices some years ago. He asked if I would mind if he "stole" one of the station's Katie awards. While I was at least pleased that he asked for permission to be a thief and I recognized that the awards were piled in a dusty heap in a walk in closet where no one could see them which could give the impression they had no value, I refused his request - primarily out of embarrassment for him.

He was disappointed with my decision. He thought a "Katie" would make for a perfect hood ornament for his classic Chevy.

One thing is certain: today's blog entry is not going to win any award because all I really meant to do when I sat down to type was mention the "Webby awards" which were handed out this week. The "Webby" is apparently the epitome of website awards - I think the winners might even receive cash instead of plaques or statuettes of a naked golden woman.

They hand 'em out in New York City at a fancy dinner and everything. I knew about the Webby awards, but as you might suspect by now I didn't really care about them. Today however I was reading about the Webby winner for "Personal Website." He's a 19 year old kid from Amarillo and his website is absolutely wondrous. It's simple; it's fun, and really quite brilliant. It's called and I guarantee you'll enjoy it. If not I'll give you your money back.

There are several things that make it unique, but primarily its charm is that it's made up completely of "writing" per se. In other words you can go to his website and not have to read an incredibly long diatribe about a relatively meaningless topic.

That being said, it also cements the reality in my mind that this blog would never be considered for a Webby, so you might as well click on his site.

But remember I've still got statuettes of naked golden women which I may make a fortune with one day...if I get into the hood ornament business. Plus I've probably increased by web traffic ten-fold today by writing the word "naked" so many times.

Frogs And A Princess

Ah....2 a.m. on Wednesday. Is there are a better time of day? That was rhetorical.

Let's see, San Antonio has a new mayor, a guy whose never been on the city council. We've had a little corruption problem with our city council so perhaps a new mayor will help shore up the image...if nothing else he's already rich so his vote will be more expensive to purchase.

The NBA Finals start tomorrow...that's feeling like a battle of good versus evil. The Spurs are the good guys lest their be any doubt.

My niece Emily is celebrating a birthday today...she's 30 or 40 I think.

And in Belgrade it's raining frogs.

And it's only 2 a.m.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mo' Motown

So it'll be the Pistons versus the Spurs in the NBA Finals. There are a lot of back stories to that series. I'm sure ABC isn't happy that Shaq won't be playing and that two teams known for their defense are going for the title.

A moment of silence for ABC...

Okay that's enough.

I remember when Larry Brown coached the Spurs. He did a daily radio show - the year before David Robinson arrived. The Spurs were bad and every morning we'd call Larry and ask him why the Spurs were so bad. It was "push a button any button to rid me of this" radio. I called it "Whine Time With Larry"....the next season, even though the Spurs did a complete turnaround I think we ditched the daily dose of Larry.

He may not be great radio but Larry Brown is a great coach, he is also the mentor of the Spurs current coach and the series is going to be a defensive war.

Then of course there are the Detroit fans...Oh yeah, this is going to be fun.

Monday, June 06, 2005

When A Bomb Bombs

I guess I'm going to have come up with a new name for "Google bombing" since my tactics don't work with Google. Last month I tried to associate the phrase slimy sales sharks with an electronic's company in Ohio that I felt was, to say the least, lacking in customer service skills.

However it sort of back fired. If you type in slimy sales sharks in Google it will invariably bring up my blog not the web page of the firm which, in my opinion, is populated by slimy sales sharks. Google is obviously wise to my ways.

However MSN Search is another story. Their search engine appears to be easily manipulated by such silly shenanigans. Thus if anyone should go to MSN Search and type in the phrase slimy sales sharks the number one website that comes up happens to be that of an electronic's firm in the midwest of which I have a rather low opinion.

I do hate to take advantage of Microsoft this way....really I do.


Complain, Reclaim, & Proclaim

Some Sundays I complain.

I complain we have to get to church earlier than everyone else, we always seem rushed, oftentimes we stay afterward for one thing or another and before I know it, it's 3 p.m. and Sunday is virtually gone for someone who has to wake up at 1a.m. on Monday.

Lately, I don't know if it's been because I've been sick on and off, out of sync on and off, or under siege - but what had seemed like discipleship sometimes seemed like duty, what had been a form of worship became in my mind something akin to work, what seemed like Sunday didn't feel like the Sabbath.

Today was reclamation day.

Church was messy and chaotic - which is not unusual - we're pretty much masters at messy church. Gordon had the weekend off to spend much needed time with his family giving even more fertile ground for our usual communication confusion to flourish. Despite my slight bouts of panic, the service went it always does.

Afterwards we were committed to another service at a local nursing home or "assisted living center." On our first visit to this facility a couple of weeks ago, there were only four of us - Erin, who played piano as loud as possible in hopes of drowning out the singing of me, Gordon and Ben. This time we had a full contingent - including kids, a new visiting family, and various folks who could carry a tune and knew the words - plus we even had a little extra time for planning.

The highlight of the previous visit, if you can call it a highlight, was watching Erin try to keep from laughing as our makeshift men's choir - what I've dubbed "The Three Tenots" - tried to find a key....any key. This amid a handful of assisted living center residents who quite obviously were trying to determine if this was a church service or a medication mix up.

The last time we also arrived as the residents were wrapping up lunch so many simply rambled over to our set up in the shared living room of the facility. This time we thought we'd be smart and let them finish lunch, so we arrived 15 minutes or so later. That was a mistake.

Believe it not a lot of old folks like to take a nap after Sunday lunch and once they've gotten back to their rooms, you can't pry them out with free bus rides to the bingo hall, much less a rag tag bunch of Baptists with a reputation for bad singing. So we had 10 or 12 members of our congregation, several songs planned, even a printed up order of worship in LARGE print, about 20 hymnals and lots of motivation...we simply lacked anyone who wanted to attend. Well, that's not entirely true. One elderly gent who had lingered late at lunch grudgingly said he'd stay nearby "to see if he liked it" but never actually entered the living room. Our only other attendee was an elderly woman in a wheelchair whom I'm not completely convinced had any idea where she was or who we were.

None the less we sang some hymns, prayed, and tried our best - we sent wide eyed smiling children on this mission - to convince a few folks who had retreated to the front porch to join us...they said they'd rather sit in the 90+ degree heat and 80 percent humidity. It was that type of day.

Apparently The Three Tenots left a more lasting impression than I thought, don't fool yourself into thinking old folks have short memories.

Despite our lack of an audience we sang, we prayed, our conscripted Pastor (who was performing his third service of the day) gave a short message and we left. I felt a little disappointed, but Amy seemed upbeat and unfazed. She was glad we went, we spent some extra fellowship time with longtime church members and a new family plus a couple of old folks listened - the crotchety old guy didn't come into the living room but he didn't flee either.

It was then I realized that lately I had been letting things slip away. It was time to reclaim them.

Amy had to pull a 2 to 6 shift at Starbucks so we quickly drove home and I changed into some work clothes while Amy got ready for her job. I dropped Amy off and went back to the church.

I could have gone back home, kicked back and done nothing - technically I guess that might even be interpreted as keeping the Sabbath holy, but I wanted to work...for God.

That in itself is not lunacy...working from 2-6 p.m. in the 90+ degree heat could possibly be interpreted otherwise but I brought along plenty of water and tried to stick to the shade when possible. I revved up the lawnmower and charged over the landscape into areas that had been ignored too long. I fired up the weed eater, and even got out the blower to clean up. It's an impossible job to keep our church property "manicured" and in truth no one really wants our church to look that way, we like the feel of a church in the woods. Yet there are areas we have tamed, but if left alone for a fraction of nature's time those areas will be snatch back with gusto, cactus and briar.

So today I redrew the boundaries with purpose and sweat...but I think I may have reclaimed more than an unruly parcel of land.

I believe I may have been true to the commandment to keep the Sabbath Holy perhaps more than ever before.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


On the downside of things, whatever crud I seem to have caught is playing hide and seek...One day I start to feel fine, and the next I have chills and sweats and occasionally feel like someone doing a bad malaria victim impersonation - although I doubt if there are any malaria impersonators out there so determining a "bad" one would certainly be a judgement call.

On the upside, which had offered a Netflix-like service for like 13 bucks a month went out of business as soon as we joined and gave us NetFlix for a year at the Walmart price which means Amy and I are now watching West Wing's third season in 4 episode increments.

I can attest that without DVDs or video tapes there is nothing on TV in the middle of the day on Saturday if you have el cheapo cable. I cracked open my eyes briefly and scanned the channels to realize my "best" choice was a WNBA game. Maybe I'm not sick...maybe the world around me is simply making me feel that way.

Anyway, I'm shivering - no one else seems to think running the air conditioning when it's 95 degrees out is unnecessary - I still feel lousy, my nose is running (I thought it was sweat but it's not - that's funny if you say it fast and take enough Nyquil).

Amy is baking bread.

The Schwab Blog is getting some life to it, so I think I'll make it a habit to issue creative challenges to post over there....The Schwab Blog Smackdown.

I'm rambling.

I could be watching The West Wing.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Two hours sleep never felt so good.

Congratulations to Phoenix. They have a classy team with a foundation of quality players who never gave up. I fear next season they will be even tougher....but I do love the taste of victory in the morning.

Sorry MMM.

Go Spurs!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Limemerick Schwab Day

Hold off Spelling Police! I know limerick is misspelled in the title. It's of those clever ideas that come to mind at 2 in the morning.

The Schwab Blog while noble in intent has become at best a haven for the semi-suicidal it seems and needs some serious lightening up or I'm going to blow it up. Hey, I created it - I can tear it'd be my own Howard Roarke-like moment. If you don't get that you need to watch old Gary Cooper movies or read Ayn Rand or ask Chuck Sigars.

For those who aren’t aware, in other words most likely everyone, the Schwab Blog is an open-source blog experiment where anyone can post...the only real rule is keep it clean. I was hoping it might become a place for inspired Internet graffiti. It hasn't. I think there are only about a dozen posts. Some are very nice but much of the stuff is pretty gloomy. I think it's where blog writers go when they're depressed - sort of like an online dive bar.

So, I thought I'd try and provoke a "meme" of sorts and challenge readers of this blog to post an off the cuff, self-written limerick (see the clever title's meaning now? Oh be quiet, it's clever at 2 a.m. a.m. take my word for it) on the Schwab Blog.

This idea was inspired by the limerick my friend Harlan posted in response to one of my ramblings from a few days ago, and then a challenge to him by SteelCityGirl to write a limerick about a black widow spider under a tarp and the fear it inspired.

Anyway, I suppose to be a "meme" the limericks should be of the same general topic, but I'll give you several to choose from:

The Black Widow spider under the tarp.

The sticky seats at the Schwab blog counter.

Watergate's Deep Throat being revealed (remember the keep it clean rule...I will eradicate).

I saw God today.

And just in case only the depressed respond...the final topic: The end times.

Again anyone can post on the Schwab blog. You log into with the username: schwabwriter and the password: freedom and then hit the "new post" button. Then the rest is up to your creativity, boredom, and or suicidal tendencies.

I'll participate at some point...I promise, but this is as clever as I have time to be at 2 a.m.

Oh give it's clever I tell simply lack the coherency that blooms at 2 a.m. to realize it.