Sunday, July 31, 2005

I Worshipped At Wal-Mart

I didn't make it...

I made it through the door. I cooed at a baby - our newest church member. I wrote my name on an empty list promising to pray each day at two a.m. for the friends going to Moldova. I spoke with one of them - he wanted to know about Amy...then he asked about me...

I dropped a check in the offering plate and scurried to Wal-Mart for milk.

I don't do church well without Amy.

I don't seem to be doing a lot of things well lately with or without Amy.

I walked the aisles of Wal-Mart and wondered if God will accept a man who worships Him only by cleaning the toilets and mowing the grass at the church and leaves the rest of church to someone else.

Tomorrow I have a Deacon's meeting and decisions I think.

One For The Road

I spent a good portion of Saturday mowing and weeding eating at the church and it felt like it had been too long - I know it had been too long because some areas had become a jungle - but also too long since I had been in a routine of normalcy...of worshipping God through service.

This week several members of my church family will leave to go to Moldova to work with children in orphanages. Children whose parents abandoned them because there are no jobs in Moldova and it costs too much to take the children to another country while you search work.

Some days my friends’ only goal may be to keep these children - who live in the harshest of circumstances - smiling. It will change their lives...the children and the church members.

I will pledge to set aside part of each day to pray for them.

A youth group from Tulsa, including my youngest niece, crashed last night in our Sunday school building on their way to Mexico where they will build homes for of which you and I probably wouldn't think too highly. Yet those homes too will change lives.

Today's local paper has another big spread on Lakewood church....America's biggest church and briefly mentions the 95 million dollars they've spent to renovate the Compaq Center. Lakewood has changed lives.

Amy is taking a "sleeping in Sunday" to hopefully get some of her strength back, but I feel called to be at our little church today - although being there without Amy is hard for me and sometimes I can't promise to make it through the service without her - I need my church family today.

I have been changed by them.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Size Matters

Is God big enough to love me if I see Him differently than you?
Is God big enough to forgive me...and then forgive me again?
Is God big enough to heal anything?
Is God big enough that I can bring Him any problem?
Is God big enough to solve those problems no matter how big or small they may be?
Is God big enough to love me?
Is God big enough to inspire me to service so as to make it easier for others to worship Him?
Is God big enough to accept those people who don't serve or worship Him at all?
Is God big enough to accept people with lifestyles I consider sinful?
Is God big enough to accept people who refer to Him as "Her?"
Is God big enough to forgive people who profit off His name?
Is God big enough to accept churches where people only sing hymns?
Is God big enough to accept churches where people sing no hymns at all?
Is God big enough to accept people who don't accept churches?
Is God big enough to forgive me for judging others?
Is God big enough to love people who worship him differently than I do?
Is God big enough to love people who believe only the King James Bible is the true word of the Lord?
Is God big enough to accept people who sometimes express doubts...even doubts about Him?
Is God big enough to change me?
Is God big enough to forgive me for doubting how big He is?
Is God big enough to love sinners?
Is God big enough to accept homosexuals in church without question?
Is God big enough to share my pain?
Is God big enough to accept my anger?
Is God big enough to love the unbeliever?
Is God big enough to love people who drag Him into political debates?
Is God big enough to forgive the believer who can't forgive?
Is God big enough to forgive the believer who can't forgive God?
Is God big enough to accept people who curse?
Is God big enough to love politicians?
Is God big enough to allow people who curse to be saved?
Is God big enough to accept the mentally ill?
Is God big enough to forgive killers?
Is God big enough to change the entire world?
Is God big enough to use methods I may not understand to reach the unreached?
Is God big enough that I can bring Him any problem?
Is God big enough to understand when I don't understand?
Is God big enough to forgive me for my disbelief?

Am I so small as to think God isn't big enough to do all those things?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Time Waster

You should be working...don't blame me for this...

Click here

You can keep things moving with your does require shockwave. back to work.

A Good Sleep

I don't sleep well. I sleep worse when Amy is hospitalized.

I brought her home yesterday...and following a few errands to get her situated I celebrated. I had a glass of good wine - I've decided to forgo wine - except for special occasions or maybe "date nights" - so I cracked the last bottle of good stuff in the house. Then we slept...all day...all night. Amy may have woken up more than me, but I think I only got up to feed the dogs and then went back to bed. 14 hours later here I am.

Amy's home. I feel rested for the first time in a long time.

Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Never Could Juggle

I never could juggle.

I always sort of wanted to; it seemed like a neat ability with which to be blessed.

I admittedly never tried very hard to master the art, but I never tried to master the piano either...there are some things which are obviously beyond my skills.

I've been trying to juggle a lot lately - not so much by choice but as a result of necessity - and in all honesty I'm not doing it very well. There have been times when I've had to cheat to keep up the illusion.

I'm not sure how it's going to end...but things are falling...they're out of my control.

I've come to that point again where it seems the only way to keep everything from smashing to the ground is to fall.

Onto my knees.

So far I'm not convinced I'm doing that real well either.

I never could juggle.

News Afoot!

Some days there's nothing you can do in the news business except try to stay a step ahead and other days you can only point...

To stories like this one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I'll Think To That

The doctors "think" they know what's causing Amy's sudden pain onset, but they want to keep her in the hospital under "observation." I'm not sure for how long...I'm not sure they're sure. No one could tell me why, although I didn't press the case.

Amy had a little mishap today which only added to my general frustration with hospitals. Her central IV line came out...unintentionally - she tripped over it. Although I wondered aloud why she needed it any longer anyway, her doctor ordered it replaced (it was put in to give her fluids because she was dehydrated and to administer a couple of medications which she could now take orally). The order for the new line came in before 10 a.m.... by 4 p.m. it still hadn't been accomplished. In the interim she wasn't allowed to eat or have fluids...

She needs fluids to avoid getting dehydrated, but no one seemed to make this connection and Amy didn't want me to start storming around screaming about the radiology department again (they may have a restraining order against me there by now anyway).

I suppose it's simply one of those days where things don't make sense.

Side note: Amy just called. She had the new line put in but wasn't sedated for the process, so there was really no reason for her to have been denied food and water all day. See? Utterly senseless.

On the way home I heard some dentist on the radio advertising his services saying he could "fix your smile" and "finally make you feel good about yourself." I wondered if the dentist was that shallow and if he thought everyone else was too.

Actually I had a brief mental image of an old "Kung Fu" episode...

"Master...I have climbed mountains, walked through hot coals of fire, looked deep inside my soul to find the key to happiness...please enlighten me!"

"Grasshopper, only when your teeth are white like pearls...."

Maybe that makes didn't to me.

I flipped around the radio dial although no one really has a dial on their radio anymore...or on their phones or TV's and I wondered why that word was still in our vocabulary before realizing I was thinking sensibly so I quickly stopped.

I landed on a station where there was some guy ranting about "Camp Quest" which is a camp in Ohio for the children of atheists and other "irreligious parents." I think atheist parents have as much right to send their kids far away for the summer as anyone else and personally I think it would probably be the best thing for them - the kids that is - I only wondered why they named it Camp Quest.

The Camp Quest website says they want to encourage "critical thinking."

"Master...where can I find the answers to life and more importantly the critical questions?"

"Grasshopper...first surround yourself with people who think exactly like you..."

It's been one of those days, when the world doesn't make sense.

Tomorrow will be better though...tomorrow will make sense...I "think."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Working It....With God

There's little to report today. The usual hospital frustrations of nurses countermanding orders from doctors...doctors countermanding orders from themselves....Amy getting getting frustrated. I'm not going to write too much about all that, if you want to read my whining simply pick a day from last year's archives and go to town.

I did want to mention the two highlights of the day though.

One occurred when I came home, I was still very frustrated...I'm not sure what we're accomplishing and my schedule doesn't mesh with the people whom I'm assuming do know what we're accomplishing - okay that's all the whining I promise.
I opened my email to find a note from a woman who reads my blog. She was thanking me for writing the other day about the knitted chicken Viking hat.

She and her husband were experiencing health related frustrations too and she said that silly post helped her put things in perspective.

Her email helped me put my frustrations in perspective.

Sometimes God works that way I think.

The other highlight was when the hospital's "Financial Counselor" came into Amy's room. I was preparing to leave, but Amy had undergone a procedure earlier in the day which required she be knocked out. Of course only a few minutes before that procedure took place her nurse gave her a healthy dose of pain medication, and that resulted in Amy being well into a trip to La La land. It was obvious it was going to be a while before she was booked on a return flight.

The Financial Counselor was nice enough...we've met often although she always pretends she's never seen me before - I suspect she's confusing me with my checks which she hasn't caught sight of very frequently. Anyway, I was right in the middle of trying unsuccessfully to roust Amy when the Financial Counselor - I love that title, "Financial Counselor", it's much nicer sounding than the name the mafia uses for the same occupation - anyway the Financial Counselor paid no attention to my jumping about, shouting Amy's name, flapping my arms, etc. and quietly said she thought right then would be the best time to "settle our account." She said she didn't want Amy to "have to worry about it" amid the hustle and bustle that accompanies being released.

In other words...she was hoping we'd pay her this time.

I was at the peak of my frustration for the day and I nearly lashed out at her...but then it came to me...the answer.

I said, "Well, I'm so grateful you took the time to come all the way up to see Amy, but I can't answer your question...Amy handles all our finances." This was in fact slightly was a bold face lie, but right then it seemed like the right thing to say. I'll make amends with God later...hopefully He'll be merciful when that time comes and not check my credit rating.

The "Financial Counselor" then finally looked up from her stack of medical bills and actually took a look at Amy who appeared to be doing her best pre-rehab Robert Downey Jr impersonation. All I heard was her mumbling something to the effect of "Well, maybe I should come back later" as she scurried from the room.

Sometimes I think God works that way too.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Snoozer Sunday

Spent the morning at the hospital....Amy slept...I slept.

Came home...paid bills and read blogs.

I went through vacation photos.

I deleted the truly awful ones and made Amy's hair look less wind blown in others.

In other words...this has been an extremely boring Sunday.

I've also gathered up the stuff Amy requested I bring her tomorrow at the hospital. The doctors will run more tests tomorrow...there's nothing new to report.

Except something is still missing...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

To Sleep to sleep....

We're embarking on a well traveled road at 4 leads to the hospital. Amy has been experiencing pain again which we've been hoping to treat via medication. However in recent weeks the pain has surged in intensity and the doctors involved in her case now want her at the hospital. When I say "now" I

Amy is of course "furbling" (a family word for finding all sorts of unrelated things to do when we should be in the car driving) and assuming she's going to get admitted to the hospital, so she's preparing music for Sunday's worship service as I consider whether coffee beans can be chewed.

I realize this probably makes little sense but in a nutshell I think I'm asking folks to pray. A simple prayer will do,

"Please God be with Amy...ease her pain."

I have to go now....and unplug her computer...which is a known cure...not for her pain, but for her furbling.

Hospital I come...I know you well.

Silly Me

I started writing tonight about growth and transformation...but I decided to chuck that idea and instead post something silly.

I don't know how to knit but I want one of these:

Yes, that is exactly what it appears to be...a knitted chicken Viking helmet. It's actually for kids but I think I'm going to find someone who knits to make one for me...anytime I need to feel silly I'd have it handy.

The actual knitting instructions - and it appears pretty complicated - are at this website, but be forewarned there's some other stuff on the site which could easily be deemed offensive so keep your focus on the knitted chicken Viking helmet...don't be led astray to some place strange....okay stranger.

It's been a far too serious week, so I'm glad to be able to find some silliness to counter balance things.

If a knitted chicken leg Viking cap isn't strange enough for you...take heart...there's always this guy....who molded himself a giant gummy bear...13 pounds of silliness.

I feel better...don't you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So Long Ago...So Far Away...

I'll bet you didn't even think about it today.

I know I didn't mention it on the news at all. I suppose that's okay, it's not really's history.

This is a picture of what I call our "antique room" - a room I have tried to claim for old furniture and my future dreams.

Click to enlarge

It's a constant battle since we don't use the room much...the piano where Erin practices is in there and I turned a china cabinet some friends gave us into my Spurs shrine. It's a little crowded and because we're not in that room often it's easy to let stuff pile up in there and forget about it.

Here's a little closer picture of our old librarian's table by the way...

Click to enlarge

My 1938 Zenith radio is also in that room. It still works and one day I have dreams of fixing it up a little bit...not too much though...replacing the cloth with something closer to the original fabric...patching the veneer a tad. I probably should put a new cord on it too...I suspect that should be done at least every 70 years or so.

Yes, those are old newspapers on the library table. If you haven't clicked on that second photo to enlarge probably ought to do that now.

Go ahead...I'll wait.

If you still can't read the date here's a closer shot.

Click to enlarge

People collect old newspapers from important dates in history. 36 years ago today was such a day. That newspaper is a copy of the New York Times from the day after man first landed on the moon. Today is the actual anniversary of the event...but I bet you didn't even think about it.

There's not much of a market for old newspapers...we bought those on the library table along with a couple of others for five dollars only a week or two ago at an estate sale in Ohio.

Yes, one day I'm going to clear out some of the stuff from that room and turn it into a place where a man can sit and think...and remember.

A place where I can make myself a present of the past.

A sidebar to these thoughts...literally. I wanted to seperate this but I believe it is interesting and worth pointing out.

One of the newspapers Amy and I bought in Ohio that day was a copy of the NY Times from July 20th, 1969 - the actual day of the moon landing. In fact it sits on top of that old Zenith radio.

Please excuse the grainy pictures but I took these in a hurry. I need to stop writing and start sleeping.


Obviously, the banner headline that day was that men were about to land on the moon, 36 years ago today. However there was another story that got its first mention that same the same paper...on the front page "above the fold."

Anyone care to guess before clicking on the picture below?


Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account
- Ecclesiastes 3:15

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jesus Shoes

My father-in-law...the very wise and dignified Bernie DeLong, is an eclectic guy. He's well versed on a wide variety of subjects and slightly opinionated about a few of them. He's a veteran, a father, a grandfather, a salesman, a husband, a heckuva a crossword enthusiast and a good Christian - not necessarily in that order.

Bernie has a lot of "sayings" which have been passed down to his children and grandchildren over the years. One of his favorites is, "I landed there once" - did I mention he's a pilot? Another is "'s the most under rated beverage in the world"- okay, so he's not necessarily Aristotle, but there is a lot of wisdom in much of what he says.

I could go on and on...but that really would only take us off the beaten path and I want to walk with you in a different direction today. One other phrase that Bernie says occasionally refers to his sandals...he calls them his "Jesus shoes."

I thought about that today when I ran across this website that sells sandals...sandals intended to spread the gospel.

Maybe a photograph will help clarify that idea for you.

Click to enlarge.

If you still don't quite see it...the name "Jesus" is carved into the sole of one sandal and the words "loves you" are carved into the other. The idea is that when you walk in the sand, or the mud or any soft surface you will leave behind that simple message.


A lot of folks buy them - they've sold more than 20 thousand pairs of sandals or other footwear with the same message carved into the soles.

My father-in-law is a good Christian man who has spread the word of Christ for much of his life. He didn't do it by carving a message in his sandals (although I'd bet he'd like a pair)...he did it by walking the walk - although admittedly an occasional swift kick from his loving bride Priscilla may have helped keep him on the right road once or twice.

Bernie's are some pretty big shoes to fill.

Jesus loves you is etched into his soul.

Click to enlarge.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Big Bird, The Death Star & The Mega Church

I had to put "Death Star" in the title since Chuck's friend Lucas mentioned the other day that Chuck's daughter refers to a mega-church in the Dallas area as "the Death Star Church." I don't really think that has anything to do with the rest of this post which initially I began as a comment...but then I started rambling and couldn't seem to stop.

My mother hated Sesame Street.

Maybe hate is too strong a word, but when Sesame Street rolled out nationally in 1969 my mother certainly had disdain for it and she willingly expressed her opinion to anyone who'd listen. Since I was 12 at the time, I had no choice...I was her captive audience.

Mom died in 1972, and to the best of my knowledge her opinion of Sesame Street hadn't changed but perhaps it would have in the decades since.

My mother was a school librarian. When I was in elementary school she was "my" school librarian.

I know her thoughts on Sesame Street might seem odd considering the TV program teaches kids how to read, do basic math and a variety of other very worthwhile things, but my mother disliked the entire concept. Giant bird puppets, songs, cartoons...they're all very effective in helping pre-schoolers learn...but Mom saw something else - pre-schoolers who grew into regular school kids. She saw them come to school and wonder why there were no cartoons except for some crummy film strips. She noticed their dismay at finding out that their teacher wasn't a big yellow bird. Mom watched their little hearts sink when they were told no one sang except in music class or in the choir...and sometimes music class was hard.

The cookie monster was no where to be found, although some of the cafeteria ladies were a little spooky.

My mother saw Sesame Street as a threat to education because she believed, rightly or wrongly, that it confused children into thinking education was "entertainment."

Whether that belief had any validity, I don't know. Obviously a lot of people reading this grew up watching Sesame Street and presumably you're okay...I only know that's what Mom thought.

I mention that today in light of the comments about my earlier post regarding Lakewood Church. As I said in the original post, I have nothing in particular against mega-churches...but I know they aren't for me. I wonder how I would get a sense of "community" in a crowd of 16 thousand...I think building meaningful relationships with fellow believers would be tough for me there...but mostly I think that such a giant church - with light shows, American flags hanging from the rafters and huge choirs - might "distract" me as I struggle to grow in my relationship with God. Again, that's only me. I know people who go to mega-churches and they are very loving Christians. God uses many tools to reach people; I'm certainly not going to say mega-churches are not part of God's arsenal.

I will say however that every one of the people whom I personally know who has opted to go to a mega-church...was already attending another church some place else. They left their churches to go to the big shiny church where they were dazzled by lights and stage productions, famous preachers and star athletes who stood on big stages backed by giant colorful choirs and orchestras.

Maybe God led them there...and not the klieg lights, but I worry that in order for churches like Lakewood to thrive...some little houses of worship will die. Small communities of believers will disband. Friends on a journey of fellowship and faith will part ways.

I suppose it's not a big problem for God but to me it's a real concern.

Our little church is struggling financially right now...ironically one of the primary reasons is that we tried to become "too big too fast." We overspent on our Sunday school building - construction material costs went up and we went over 30 thousand dollars.

30 thousand dollars. It wiped out all of our savings and will literally take us years to get the church back on its feet. We may fail. There is a real danger our little church may not make it. I will be heartbroken if that happens.

I won't blame mega-churches though. I won't blame anyone...but I will wonder about God's plan.

I must admit there are times when I worry we're screwing up God's call to us by trying to put on a big show.

We've had "The Star Attraction" all along.

Is Jesus really that tough a sell?

I suppose the "Death Star" fits the title a little better than I expected.

Welcome To Church

Come on's warm and cozy...the newest church building in Houston.*

I'm not opposed to mega-churches...admittedly they're not for me...but this one I find unimaginable. It's Lakewood Church which I believe now constitutes the largest church in America. The congregation has "bought" the Compaq Center, where the Houston Rockets used to play and converted it into a church. They plan to pack it with multiple services each weekend since it can only hold 16-thousand people at a time.

I watched some of the initial services on TV - the church opened its doors on Saturday. I tuned out when Pastor Joel Osteen told the throng it was time to pass the plate...I wasn't sure how long that would take.

He did mention that it cost the congregation some 90-95 million dollars for the building and renovations. They still had 60 million dollars in construction loans to repay.

60 million dollars.

God does indeed work in mysterious ways.

*photographs from the Houston Chronicle

Sunday, July 17, 2005


So I spent more than half the weekend fighting ad-ware on my computer....I finally got that taken care of I think - although I'm still getting a weird start up screen but I can live with that for now.

Since I was diddlin' about with the computer, I took the opportunity to make some changes to my blog as well.

I even wrote a little composition about the changes which I thought was quite was also quite lengthy. It lacked only a little spelling and grammar checking.

It hasn't rained in San Antonio in 43 days...until yesterday and today. As I write we're getting thunderstorms, and two minutes ago lightning obviously hit nearby.

And there went all I had written.


Remind me another day to write about my vast profits with Google Adsense and the new things I'm trying on the blog...but for now those thoughts have been flicked into the electronic an unwanted booger.

I'd edit the preceding sentence since I realize most boogers are least I hope that's the case, but I'm certain the power is going to go out again at any moment...and then I'd be twice flicked...

So I'm shutting down the computer while I have the chance.

"Life now is sweet and my joy is complete, For I’m Saved, saved, saved!”

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Devil And Mr. Bill

I didn't have time to write yesterday...when I sat down at the computer I became embroiled in a battle with the spawn of Satan...and the battle still rages on.

Some pernicious spyware keeps sending giant pop up ads before me from something called "Aurora - a better Internet."

I'm a fairly tech-savvy guy - although Amy will occasionally mock my efforts - at least when it comes to software irregularities. I also run most of the conventional and some less conventional anti-virus, pop-up blocker, firewall type stuff - I'd refer to that stuff in more geeky terms to prove my technical prowess but I don't want to go over the heads of any readers (ahem).

Anyway, I don't know when this particular obnoxious entity got on my computer but it must have activated when I turned my computer on after shutting down due to a thunderstorm yesterday - yes, we actually got rain in South Texas! It's raining now too for the first time in many months...which is perfect considering Amy is the Matron of Honor in an outdoor wedding later today.

Today's rain...tomorrow's blog fodder.

I tried removing Aurora with the usual tools - Spybot and Ad-Aware. I even ran a full virus scan. No kept coming back. I mean every 10 seconds another giant ad appears.

I went digging on the Internet and found some highly complex "fixes" which spooked me a bit, but I even ran a couple of those. At first, I'd think I'd won the battle - I'd reboot and get an error message indicating Windows couldn't find "nail.exe" which I've determined is a component at least partially responsible for this "better Internet" crap. Moments later though another ad would pop up.

Then I pulled out the big guns...I did a system restore, rolling my computer back a month or so, only to find that "Aurora - a better Internet" apparently transcends hard drive space and time. Have I mentioned I started this battle at around eight Friday night and it was now around midnight?

The Romans referred to the goddess of dawn as "Aurora”, which suddenly became ironic since I became aware I would be battling this demon until the daylight hours and beyond.

I was desperate...when in a battle with Satan sometimes there is only one entity you can call person so entrenched in the forces of darkness that invoking his name alone provokes a response...yes, I bowed my head and decided to go into allegiance with...Bill Gates.

I downloaded Microsoft's Beta spyware removal tool. I decided to let it run overnight and come to deal with the issue this morning...this also allowed me to spend the rest of the evening in devout prayer seeking forgiveness for becoming Microsoft dependent.

So far Microsoft has found and eradicated "Aurora" at least eight times...each requiring a reboot of the system...and each time I think I've won...up it pops again.

I've set the anti spyware program to run repeatedly today and am simply going to abandon the computer for now.

Instead I'm going to enjoy the rain...besides I've got a wedding to prepare for...where's my umbrella?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Lag Time

Yes, we made it home safely although we experienced a bit of jet lag...more specifically airport lag. I suppose I haven't flown very much compared to a lot of folks, but I remember when DFW airport was considered big. Perhaps it still is. I haven't been there in years since Dallas is north of here, and we always travel north so airlines take us in other directions in order to save money. I do know the airports in Cincinnati Kentucky and Minneapolis - which I suspect is really covering most of Minnesota as well as a good portion of Canada - are ridiculous in size, prices, and layout...unless you are fortunate enough to have the key to adopting the proper attitude.

In order to avoid going insane in these monstrous places - which by the way is frowned upon a great deal more these days - I suggest you think of airport adventures as vacations in and of themselves to a wondrous place called: "Airport World" - if this were on the radio, I'd make the words "Airport World" reverberate but you'll simply have to use your imagination and settle for a fuchsia font instead. I don't really know if that's fuchsia or not. Does anybody really know what fuchsia is and if they do should they be people you trust?

I digress.

To enjoy the pleasures of "Airport World" skip the urge to go to Six Flags, Disney Land or the local asylum and book a flight to one of these major airports instead. Obviously, you'll have to make your destination someplace in the opposite direction in order to get a cheap fare but once you've taken that first step into insanity you really need only to hang on. There are plenty of rides, an abundance of outrageously priced food items and meaningless souvenirs. Who buys a hat that says "Minnesota" and why? Plus you'll certainly do as much walking as you would at any amusement park.

The cheap air fares are probably less expensive than the cost of admission and parking at Disney World and you get to ride on moving sidewalks, escalators, elevators, trams, buses, trains and, if you don't tire out before reaching your gate or keel over from the fumes when everyone is required to take off their shoes, you might actually get on a plane too. All that's missing are people dressed up like giant rats in pants and the distant sound of "It's a Small Small World" playing repeatedly.

But that's not all folks! I haven't even mentioned the bonus of "Airport World" - the bathrooms.

Every possible function in airport restrooms is now completely automated. This is a true pleasure...sort of like the airport version of the carnival funhouse. Inside the restrooms, which are conveniently spaced every few miles, you get to watch grown men (and presumably women) dance around in front of automatic paper towel dispensers, robotic sinks, spontaneous soap dispensers and instinctual toilets to get the silly things to provide them with towels, water, or waste disposal services. Presumably this is easier than simply pulling down a towel from a roll or turning a faucet handle which as we all know is a major chore and something that should be avoided so you can save your strength for walking. The airport potty's all the rage and much like the carnival midway you occasionally win a fragment of a paper towel, soap or the pleasure of watching someone else's bowel movement actually move - the remnants of potty dance slackers who gave up on trying to win a flush.

Anyway, although we were off work yesterday, Amy and I were exhausted from walking, escalating, tramming, and dancing, so we got nothing accomplished except to view a few episodes of West Wing and watch our luggage explode in the bedroom.

To top it off, my internal clock resembles our bedroom so I am not sure when I'm sleeping or if I'm sleeping yet.

I have at least found one small pleasure of being back home...I can flush our toilet without having to do the potty dance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lucy We're Home!

A pile of mail...welcoming tails of dogs who know they missed us.

I think I know which of these is more important.

My schedule is out of whack and Amy is complaining of new pain.

I come home and life returns to abnormal.

In 4 hours my alarm will ring....

Reality waits for no man.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I'm Packed!

Well I'm packed at least.

I think I've stuffed everything I can possibly shove into my suitcase and I've still got 2 hours to spare before we head to Cincinnati Kentucky and walk to Indiana or New Jersey - the airport I believe covers 6 to 8 states - where the aircraft that will take us on the most direct route to Austin - via Minnesota - will be parked. Then a mere 9 hours later we'll arrive in Texas for the hour long drive home (thanks Erin!).

Yes it would make more sense to fly from Cincinnati directly to San Antonio; it would be shorter, save fuel, time, etc...but it would also have cost us hundreds of dollars more. It is invariably cheaper for us to fly from Austin to anywhere and it's even less expensive if we take the longest route possible - both in time and distance - to get there.

The airlines complain they are losing money...if they'd like to hire me as a consultant I might have a few bits of wisdom for heck I'll give them this one for free: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Amy has yet to begin packing so the show is only starting...she is still out chatting with an old friend at Starbucks. I figure she'll have about one hour to fit everything we brought (except the meat) into three suitcases plus 5 bottles of wine and six or ten jars of pickles...the wine is from a winery on Lake Erie and pickles are from Oklahoma - smuggled in by Amy's sister. I'm fairly certain Amy waits until the last minute to pack to ensure that I am in a complete panic by the time we leave...we each have our own forms of entertainment.

I am anxious to get home, for a variety of reasons...seeing the dogs, visiting with Erin, church, even work, but certainly one of the most appealing reasons to be back home is that I'll get back to my normal email set up which filters out all the spam. I'm not sure how I got on the list of people needing sexual enhancement drugs and stock advice but I must get 200 such messages a day now which are filtered out at home. I'd be a little concerned except I know I'm too broke to buy stocks so I figure they've got me on the wrong list for drugs too.

I think I hear Amy coming in the the frenzy is about to begin. I shouldn't miss any of this so I suppose it's time to say, "Adios Ohio"

My next login will hopefully be from San Antonio, unless the airlines think they've found a shorter route via Puerto Rico.

One last picture featuring our daughters, my nieces, and the girlfriend of one of my nephews which I swiped off my step-daughter's blog.

We're leaving Ohio - assuming Amy gets packed in time - but we're taking the memories.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Final Chapter

Well, we finally got motivated enough to face the demons at HH Gregg. We marched in with the defective DVD Recorder/VCR in hand but we didn't have the receipt. Amy had her speech all ready and had spent a good part of the day getting the contraption to the point where it turned on flashing "loading loading loading" so that the customer service rep would not be able to dispute any of our claims.

I decided to keep my distance seeing that Amy was loaded for bear.

The customer service rep said, "Can I help you?"

Amy said, "My father bought this and it doesn't work when..."

The customer service rep stopped her and said, "Okay, we'll simply swap it out okay?"

Amy had a lot more speech prepared but she didn't have anything to say for that response.

Then the customer service rep said, "Um...they don't make this model any more" which is when my father-in-law chimed in,"How about you just give me store credit?"

The girl said, "Sure!"

That was that.

We directed my father-in-law to a DVD/VHS player...Toshiba...87 bucks. We advised him against buying the 24 dollar extended warranty since when the factory warranty runs out you'll probably be able to buy one for 24 bucks, and he left the store with the device and some 300 dollars in credit.

I am convinced had that customer service rep been there when we first came in last May I would not think of HH Gregg as a habitat for slimy sales sharks.

Amy asked if the store manager we had spoken with before was around and they acted like they had never heard of him.

I hope that's the case.

Anyway...I know it's a fascinating story but for those of you who follow my life like a soap opera I thought I'd at least include the final chapter.

The new device is already hooked up.

At least the day had a productive end.

Shortly Lisa will be home from work and her grandfather and I will take her out for pizza.

Some days get better...if you have enough patience.

Monday Was For The Birds

I don't seem to have accomplished anything of merit today.

I know that's the intended goal of "vacation" but today sort of slipped away without any evidence of productivity.

We never made it to H.H. Gregg - at least not as of this writing. I'm not overly confident we'll get that issue resolved because tomorrow will be consumed by the need to pack, get to the airport, etc.

As I write a yellow finch is engaged in a battle outside the window of my in-law's computer room.

He - I'm assuming it's a "he" since the behavior appears to be somewhat senseless - is fighting his reflection in the window.

This has been the highlight of my day...and perhaps a metaphor for it as well.

Sold A Load

H.H. Gregg revisited.

On our last visit to Ohio we tried to return an overpriced oversold overly complicated piece of electronics to a company called H.H. Gregg, which we found to be populated by slimy sales sharks. They refused all our efforts to compromise and we left highly discouraged not to mention dissatisfied.

We also went to Best Buy and Sam's and purchased a new computer, a new TV and a new receiver for my in-laws (with their money - don't get all silly on me). That money could have been spent at H.H. Gregg.

Anyway now that same overprice oversold overly complicated piece of electronics (a VCR and DVD recorder) is blinking the word "loading" in an eerie blue light over and over and over again. It won't play, much less record, a DVD...and so our last full day in Ohio is going to be spent going back to H.H. Gregg - home of the slimy sales sharks.

My father-in-law bought a three year warranty when he got this thing which I was informed during our last visit only applies to "mechanical problems."

The constantly blinking blue light I believe will fall into that category. We can't even turn the gizmo off without unplugging it and when you plug it back it the annoying light resumes blinking.

I'm going to try to stay out of it and simply unleash Amy on these guys...Hopefully she'll come away with store credit in the form of a gift card...if so - look for it on EBay because if at all possible I don't want to buy anything from these up-selling rip-off artists...but we'd be glad to sell someone else the opportunity.

For now though I'm going to try to focus my thoughts on more important things, our last full day for a while with our daughter Lisa, our last few hours with my nieces and their parents, and of


Lisa at Lakeside

Sunday, July 10, 2005

You Call This Civilization?

We're back in the land of many cars, lots of people and cable. After a grueling trip home in the little truck that might (pictures forthcoming) I answered the three personal emails I received while I was gone and deleted 380 spam emails most of which dealt with improving my sexual performance - oh Lord, what's that line going to produce on my Google Ad bar?

I took lots of pictures at Lake Erie but realized after I put Tiffany on a plane home that I didn't get a picture of our five immediate family members together...
I'll post more when we get home...and after Amy gives her approval since her hair is blowing in all sorts of directions in many of them.

Not this one:

I'm told CBS Sunday morning last week did a feature on Lakeside - our version of Mecca - no doubt ruining it for years to come. I'll have to see if anyone taped it.

Anyway, Amy is starting to twitch...which means only one thing...we need to go to Starbucks.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Off We Go...Sorta

I woke Amy 15 minutes ago. We have a lot to do this morning and then a four hour drive to Lake Erie...I reminded her of these things and she mumbled, "start the coffee."

In truth there is no timeline for the next week. There are somethings that HAVE to be done before we leave Dayton, but once those are done life becomes more fluid. We will take back roads and we will take our time. I will remark about interesting houses in small towns and Amy will consult the map wondering how I managed to get us into this small town and figure out a way to get us out.

Eventually we'll reach our destination.

Between here and there.....there will be moments.

Enjoy the moments.

See you in a week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Hard Hats Men!

"Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men, the other 999 follow women" ~ Groucho Marx

Tiffany flies into Columbus in a few hours...we leave for Lakeside tomorrow...Amy has a shopping list about 18 feet long as well as plans to cook some of the family meals for the next week ahead of time...print out invitations for the wedding of some friends...perform or assign various other tasks associated with her parent's anniversary at the family's favorite pizza restaurant...and worship briefly at the altar of Starbucks. In other words - this would be a great day for me to hide.

Unfortunately that won't be an option. Instead I will ride shotgun as our "pre-vacation" moves into "primary vacation-mode" and I will do my best to keep from getting nicked by the tiny shards of emotion-charged-shrapnel that have already begun skidding about within the family dynamic.

I'm not really of much use in this phase except as someone who has the ability to sign traveler's checks - a quality that should not be underestimated by any means. I also can drive where ordered and periodically repeat the words, "It's okay...we don't have to get it all done today" and make them sound somewhat believable.

I was lucky enough to find a good book by Anne Lamott that I plan to use as both a bunker and perhaps armor during some of the lulls amidst the inevitable skirmishes this day will provoke.

Amy is up now and already ordering me to another computer so I will cut this least Starbucks is the first stop.

Should we survive the day, I might try one final post before we hit the road tomorrow in the "little truck that might"...but once we've left these confines I'll be unable to write for a week or so...untempted by technology...unplugged.

Hopefully we'll also be able to unwind.