Monday, January 30, 2006

Thy Word

The word came in this morning in the form of a sobbing phone call at the office from Amy which I could barely understand, "It's malignant."

Klondike is dying.

There's no other way to put it. There are no realistic alternatives beyond keeping him content, pain free, and spoiling him like crazy (these by the way are also my final wishes should my care come down to that).

Amy is not taking it well. Amy really has a hard time conceptualizing death much less encapsulating it. I suppose those of us cursed or blessed with death's face earlier in life have learned to adjust a bit more. That's not to say I won't blubber like a baby when I have to say goodbye to Klondike, but I also won't let one of these last days go by without having a bit more appreciation of our time together either

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.

When I feel afraid,
And think I've lost my way.
Still, you're there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear
As long as you are near;
Please be near me to the end.

Oh Goodness

From the Associated Press

Reading, PA. (AP) Bail bondsman Paul Sewell doesn't think he's God -- even though he signs his name G-O-D. Election officials in Berks county, Pennsylvania, say Sewell will have to explain why he signed his name ``God'' on his registration form if he wants to vote in the next election. Sewell says ``God'' is his legal mark, like the ``x'' used by people who are illiterate. He says he's signed a credit card and his driver's license with ``God.'' He claims it's legal. But why God? Sewell says whenever he arrests a bail jumper they say, ``Oh, God, give me another chance. Oh, God, let me go.''

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Danger Of Ego-Surfing

Okay, so I typed in my name in Google to see where I came blog ranked at the top which is bizarrely fulfilling, I really have no idea why.
Then I scrolled down to find the entry "Remembering Michael Main."

Okay, that's eerie enough...but what makes it a little creepier is that Michael Main the forester who died last year...died on my birthday.

I think I'll stop ego-surfing now...and in peace.

Waiting For Dog Go

We're still awaiting test results on our old dog Klondike. They'll either reveal he has a fungal infection in his lungs which is massive or he has lung cancer. The second is the more likely prospect.

Klondike never smoked, never hung around bars, avoided asbestos and coal mining...but that's how life plays out sometimes. He has some other issues, bladder stones being the one that make me wince the most and he's got a bazillion of them - the x-rays look like he swallowed a bag of rocks. However he doesn't seem to be bothered by them. He's not rushing to get outside or experiencing any difficulty killing our few remaining plants by choosing them as his target.

We're told though that the bladder stones could dislodge and then become "stuck" - anyone else wincing now? If so, he'll have to have immediate surgery to provide "relief" in the literal sense of the word.

He's also got arthritis and stuff you'd expect in an old dog, diseases which can be treated if you're willing to shell out 2+ dollars a day for pills.

Our main worry is the very real possibility of cancer. If that's the diagnosis then our only options are to love him, keep him comfortable and well fed, and generally make his life as pleasant as possible.

In truth, that's the same treatment plan we've been following since he was a puppy.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Sweet & Bitter

This is a bitter sweet all senses of the phrase.

Our old dog Klondike, mentioned in the previous post, is at the vet as I write and the docs have called to tell us they found a number of problems which may mean his days with us are short. We don't have definitive word yet but it's apparent - and although it's no surprise it still is painful - that Klondike is on the decline...perhaps rapidly so.

Klondike has lived a long, happy, well cared for life...but we're not ready to say goodbye. I'm praying today that God will at least grant him a small pain-free portion of additional time for us to spend together and to prepare each other to say good-bye.

There is good news too. We've been able to arrange for the Gomez family to take a big step toward independence. Some papers have to be signed and I suspect it took the mastery of words from a certain preacher to an apartment complex manager, but in a month or two the Gomezes will likely be moving into their own place. It's down the road...close enough for us to still provide for them...and far enough away where they can begin to feel like they are really providing for themselves.

It's a good thing...independence, but Amy and I are also a bit sad.

We hope to celebrate tonight...both our time together and their future without us...

Yes, today is bitter sweet.

Bad Guy Boycott

You'd be surprised whose putting spyware on your computer...but now you can know in advance. A bunch of the big boys have launched listing software that contains malicious or intrusive stuff that results in annoying pop-up ads and the like.

Plus they're naming names.

It probably won't stop 'em, but at least they're putting up a fight.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Random Test

I am blogging for only a second to test this new blog editor for Firefox which has the weird name "performancing."

My only real curiousity is how it handles images. won't let me upload an image, that's unfortunate.

Here's a random image anyway..

Monday, January 23, 2006

The View From Yet To Be

The Mains are from Mars...and the Gomez Actually my nephew and his wife live in Mars, Pennsylvania or close to it but that really has nothing to do with anything...I was only trying to justify that lead sentence. Since that failed, we might as well move on...shall we?

The Gomez and Main families get a long fine for the most part but our views of the world are skewed by our distinctly varied perspectives. As a result, it's been very difficult lately for me to sit down to write because I don't want to sound judgmental yet the relationship between our two families dominates almost every waking moment in our household and certainly a great many of my thoughts.

Suffice it to say a lot of things are at play and we are praying they work out, but Amy and I fear a harsh reality could set in soon.

We're trying to get the Gomez's into their own place but their viewpoint is so different from ours that we're trying to stay out of most of the decision making and refrain from saying anything that might shatter their hopes.

Lee has gone so far as to yesterday start buying furniture for their "yet to be" apartment - a small entertainment center, a desk, another television stand, etc.- nothing extravagant but, to be honest, we felt it might be a bit premature, yet perhaps we're simply pessimists.

Shortly afterward I picked up Ana from work and thought maybe I could feel her out about her thoughts. Indeed, maybe her view wasn't as warped as mine and I thought she could enlighten me - she wouldn't be the first to set my thinking on the right course. So I delicately waltzed the conversation to a very cursory level interrogation about whether she considered that her Mom might be acting a bit impetuously by focusing on furniture at this juncture or at least not on more practical, for instance, beds. I didn't even consider bringing up my concern that the family is going to have an extremely hard time qualifying for an apartment even with a small but steady financial stipend coming their way from loving Christians.

Ana listened to what I said and then looked at me with that expression all young people seem to master far too early in life which keeps older folks humble. Then she said, "Well Mr. Michael, we don't really need to buy long as we get cable TV."

Houston...we have a problem...but thank God we have a sense of humor.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Boundaries & Beyond

Amy and I have decided we have to set some boundaries for the Gomez family members.. I started with John by limiting some of his privileges and requiring that he treat everyone with respect in order to be treated with respect. This has actually worked out quite well. I think John was looking for structure and he's been pleasant (as pleasant as a 14 year old can be) and respectful.

We also had to set boundaries for me and Amy. We've let the needs of the Gomez family usurp our needs so we're both trying not to get too involved in the minutiae of their lives and instead fulfill the promise we made to God, that we would shelter this family and provide transportation as needed.

That means Lee has to find a tutor for her math homework. Ana and John have to let us know their schedules in advance and can't expect us to drop everything when they decide to alter their routine.

Sometimes this means we have to say, "No."

I think that this too is working. It's pushing us in the direction of realizing that maybe the most help we can provide for the Gomez family is to gently force them to help themselves. We need to convince them they can make it on their own and so we're working in that direction.

We're never going to abandon them but I think we're closer to finding them an apartment, and helping them live within a budget. We'll have to help them along the way, but we're prepared for whatever sacrifice is necessary.

You see boundaries don't necessarily have to confine you...sometimes they allow you to finally envision your goals.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ergo Egos

"Ego stands for edging God out" - Anonymous

You know you've done it...while no one else was looking. We've all been guilty of it...our little secret Internet activity - egosurfing.

Come on...fess up. In the privacy of your little corner of cyberspace you've typed your name into Google or some other search engine to see what if anything comes up. To find out where you rank among the great digital you stack up against the stats? Or at least be reassured in the knowledge that some knowledge about you exists.

There's no shame in fact now you can boldly cast your embarassment aside. Egosurfing is out of the closet and being celebrated. Heck, if gay cowboys no longer warrant a second glance what's a little self cyber love?

Not only can you see where you rank in Google but with other search engines as well thanks to

It'll even give you a "score" which like most things that are entirely for the benefit of your own ego is essentially worthless, but it's sort of fun.

Of course I'm speaking from the position of someone who hautily scoffs at you from the lofty level of a score of 1960.

Yeah, I have no idea if that's good or bad...but presumably it's better than being a zero.

If it's not, don't tell me. My ego is rather fragile.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Personally I find it hard to believe that anyone is still fiddling around with Rubik's cubes...but what is really difficult for me to swallow in this story is the kid's name.

Leyan Lo?

"Once Leyan Lo - Now Famous!"

Parents can be so cruel sometimes.

I posted that blurb and then surfed over to the BBC and saw this story...suddenly Leyon Lo doesn't sound so bad.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Solid Ground

Our home's foundation is crumbling.

This is not news to us. Seven years ago I managed to pull off a financial sleight of hand and pay to have the exterior walls of our home shored up. Amy and I breathed easier until the past six months or so when we noticed new cracks in the walls...cock-eyed doors and creaking floors. Having been down this road, and living in an area where the last measurable rainfall was recorded in November of 2004 we knew what we were likely up against. A call to our foundation company confirmed it - our house is sinking from the interior and will require another facelift of sorts...slightly less expensive than the original and more expensive than breast implants in Mexico.

Sorry, for some reason that was the only uplifting parallel that came to mind.

God provides and having forseen this possibility I've managed to keep creditors at bay and still be prepared for this other words, we won't be putting these repairs on a credit card, but our dream vacation to visit Tiffany at Harvard is likely only that...a dream. We've postponed dreams before...we'll survive.

It will be worth it to have our house shored up...solid...on a firm foundation. So in April, crews will come and literally dig holes through the floor of our living and bedrooms. Amy and I will get away...not to Harvard, maybe to the Riverwalk or Corpus Christi. The Gomez family will be able to stay here in the upstairs rooms but Amy and I will have to evacuate.

We don't wan't to witness jackhammers and shovels digging tunnels in our living room...

At first this may seem unrelated, but lately we've been at loggerheads with John. I've often said that I believe when kids are 14 they are at their most obstinate...John is a case in point. He is moody, rude, and downright insulting at times - primarily to Amy. I have cut him a lot of slack having been 14 and having had my world turned upside down and inside out at the same age. However this week I drew the line. John yelled at Amy and I brought the hammer down.

I said nothing.

I simply cut him off from computers, t.v. and told his mother - his parent - that either he show respect to everyone in the house or he'll learn how it feels to be disrespected. Nothing more...I don't believe in idle threats. I can't be John's father even if his father refuses to be one. I can be an adult...with rules.

Last night he came to Amy on his own and apologized. This morning he helped me with some grunt work around the house without was a good beginning.

In a few minutes I'm taking him with me to the Spurs game - thanks to last minute tickets dropped in my lap.

I'm hoping we've begun to turn a corner. Parent or no, I'm determined John have a solid foundation upon which to build.

A house is just a house. John's future is far more important.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Don't Jump To Conclusions

Wanna get away?

I'm sure this picture is being emailed all have to admit it's kind of funny...and I have a blonde daughter.

I love the expressions on the girls on the end.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This Will Make You Scratch Your Head

It's always nice when I don't have to think...when blog fodder is dropped in my lap.

My "old friend Harlan" - by the way if you type in "old friend Harlan" in quotes in Google it brings up my blog as the fourth listing - who gently corrects my numerous grammatical errors on my blog, sent me a couple of photographs which I find hysterical. They are shots of a brownstone in Washington D.C. .

That looks very pretty right? It's not too dissimilar to the Asian jasmine we have outside our church. However upon closer inspection there is a distinct difference.

Nature lovers can probably see what I'm getting at, but for those of you - like me - who are not well-versed in flora allow me to refresh your memory with the childhood rhyme: "Leaves of three, let it be." (Thanks, Chris).

That's right, that's poison ivy!

My old friend Harlan put it best I think when he called it, "passive aggressive landscaping."

We're far less subtle in Texas. We have pitbulls, shotguns, barbed wire...

Them city folk...ain't they somethin'?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Splash & Gulp

When Amy and I were in Ohio last summer we stopped by an estate sale, which was sad like all estate sales seem to be. We didn't buy anything of real significance except for a couple of old newspapers which I've used to decorate our "antique" room...the only room in the house we don't really use.

That same newspaper announcing man's landing on the moon also had another story of significance on the front page.

I must admit that was the first thing that crossed my mind this morning when I read the story about Ted Kennedy penning a children's book. As is apparently the fashion in Washington D.C. he wrote the book as if his dog was the author.

His dog named "Splash."


Sorry, but I see a tinge of irony there no matter your political persuasion.

Anyway, I was sitting on the couch dashing out these few thoughts when I noticed a cricket crawling along the carpet. Normally I have no problem squishing bugs, spraying bugs, etc.. I've even been emotionally distant as I've watched a moth or June bug fly into the house and head for one of our halogen lamps. However I've got a thing about crickets. Maybe it's because the Chinese consider them lucky or maybe it's Walt Disney's fault.

Whatever the case, I don't kill crickets.

I reached down and gently cupped the little cricket in my hand and carried it to the back door. I slid the door open and tossed the insect into the wind. It floated ever so delicately to the pavement.

Then a mockingbird swept down and ate it.

It's a day for irony I suppose.

Sorry Jiminey...sorry Mary Jo.

Whew! I Thought I Was Seeing Double

Here's another example of how so often we overlook things that are right in front of us...give or take 2 billion miles.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have photographed a dwarf star two billion miles away from the North Star.

The star had eluded direct detection until now because it's so close to the North Star, formally known as Polaris.

It's also relatively faint.

The North Star is more than 2,000 times brighter than the sun.

Astronomers have known about another stellar companion to the North Star for quite awhile. Polaris B was spotted in 1780 and can easily be seen with a smaller telescope.

The newly discovered star is called Polaris Ab.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Not A Legacy To Stand On

I don't want to lose my name because that's how I know myself. There is a legacy here. - Moon Zappa

I'm hesitant to even write these words, knowing they will open the door to a flurry of activity but I have's the only way.

McGriddle Recipe.

There, I've said it...well, actually I typed it.

The McGriddle recipe thing is a long story, but back in 2003, I posted something about McGriddles and suddenly started getting hits from all over. It was the number one search term that led people to this blog. For the record, I've still never eaten a McGriddle.

In any case, I also became the number one site listed by Google if you type in McGriddle recipe. That is no longer the case. I have been dethroned. In fact I don't think I'm even among the top 10 or 20 any more. I'm okay with it.

I mention that because it's always a little odd to find what terms do bring people here. Last month, 60 percent of the folks who arrived at my blog via a search engine typed in the term "Daniel fast." Two years ago, I went on a modified version of that fast and I still get regular emails from people who assume I am some expert. I'm no expert, I did a search for Daniel Fast on the internet and I wrote about what I found there, and I think I actually put the information on a page on my website somewhere, but I'm not certain. People still write and I try to be polite and answer their questions.

The other day I got an email from a doctor. I don't know if he's a medical doctor, that's not what was important. He had a much more urgent matter to discuss: "pillow spinning." Seriously, he wanted to tell me that he "too" is a pillow spinner!

I'm not kidding. Here's the bulk of his email:

I saw your thing about pillow spinning! I spin pillows on my foot! I even have a video!

I didn't ask for a copy of the video.

That all started because for years at our church's annual talent contest I have spun pillows.'s exciting stuff.

So I did a Google search for "pillow spinning"


That got me thinking about what other obscure things or behaviors I have mentioned which might get me in the top 2 or 3 listings in Google. Hmm...well there was that time in December of 2003 when I mentioned that I have another pseudo-talent...I can blow bubbles off my tongue. Surely that wouldn't make it onto Google right?


Suddenly I'm getting this vision of the world in like 2000 years. Archaeologists are combing through the remnants of a long dead technology called the "Internet" trying to piece together an image of what people were like back in 2006. Daniel Fast...Pillow Spinnning...Bubble blowing...McGriddle eater.

My digital's not going be pretty.

Friday, January 06, 2006


When Tiffany, our eldest child, who's currently getting her Master's in an accelerated program at Harvard - sorry but I have to throw in that last fact any time I mention her - was much younger she had a habit of not always announcing when she didn't understand something. Then sometimes days...or weeks after the conversation that befuddled her took place, we'd be driving down the road and hear a shriek and a giggle from the back seat. We'd all turn around somewhat startled and Tiffany would announce, "Oh I get it now!" We began to call these moments - which happened quite regularly - Etiffanys.

I mention that only because today is the Epiphany on many church calendars.

I should also probably mention as an aside that I'm a human being again. I think for nearly two weeks I could be best described as a somewhat manic throwback to the prehistoric days. Unable to sleep without ingesting massive amounts of benedryl, and then when I awoke - usually after about 3 hours - I was in a complete fog, my head felt like it was stuffed with cheese and my tongue felt like...Elvis Presley's post-mortem liver, thick and swollen.

There really was no rhyme or reason to it. Amy had insomnia, which we later deduced was due to her doubling up - accidentally - on her thyroid medication. I don't know if mine was caused initially out of sympathy for Amy - if Momma don't sleep nobody sleeps - or as a result of various worries that I normally am able to keep in perspective suddenly taking on unnecessary irrational proportion. It's more likely the case that with everyone's schedule in our house shifting about over the holidays, the kids coming and going, the Gomez family members out of school/work, and my sleep schedule being rather fragile to begin with that my internal time keeper simply said, "This job doesn't pay enough! I'm checking out."

Whatever the reason, since very close to Christmas, I have been miserable.

The only upside is that it did give me a lot of time to wallow in self reflection, which I suppose is one of the goals, less the wallowing, of the Epiphany Season. For those unfamiliar with liturgical church calendars allow me to explain that for many Christians, Epiphany season runs from Christmas to what is commonly called "The Epiphany" or in Europe, "Three Kings Day," which depending on the calendar to which you adhere, is either today or tomorrow. The Epiphany or Feast of Epiphany traditionally marks the end of the Christmas season for many Christians, and loosely coincides with the story of the Magi visiting Baby Jesus.

I mention this for a couple of reasons. I came into work this morning and found one of our reporters had enterprised a cute little story talking to folks in various neighborhoods who were mildly perturbed that their neighbors still haven't taken down their Christmas decorations. I winced a bit, knowing that we'd likely be fielding a few calls from Christians all of whom would feel compelled to explain the season of Epiphany. I should have re-written the story (actually I eventually did) but I let it slide for a while to prove a point.

You see my boss and I have been involved in an ongoing discussion about the need to seek out news stories on religious topics - you can probably imagine where I weigh in on this matter. Religion and spirituality after all are a large part of people's lives. However I will readily admit that it's not an easy thing to do. Virtually any time we mention something of a religious nature, our phones invariably light up with calls from self-professed experts wanting to drag the conversation into areas like, "Well you know if you had studied the original Greek or Aramaic you'd know that...blah blah blah." My boss had become disturbed at this trend and rarely a week goes by when he doesn't turn to me and say somewhat indignantly, "You see this is why I don't write a lot of religious stories...because these 'fanatics' immediately call up and argue with me over the most minor of points. Then they wonder why the media doesn't cover religion and bemoan the fact that Christmas has been secularized by the evil 'mainstream media!'"

His point is valid...from the blowhard would-be Christian "experts" to those folks perhaps more comfortable with defending Christianity than actually living it, it doesn't take much to strike a nerve. Some of them can be very, very rude which of course only reinforces the mistaken image of Christians being "all" hypocrites and wackos. It also results in my boss muttering to himself and anyone else who will listen that, "I'm going to let Main answer the calls from these 'nuts' from now on."

And I do.

Many of them are nuts. People who seemingly are poised ready to pounce to "DEFEND THE FAITH!" Often they do this by blurting out everything they know about religion and causing my eyes to glaze over trying to remember how we got on this train.

Today however they were right.

Today was a true example of why the mainstream media doesn't cover religious issues...because most media members are not religious. When I explained what the Epiphany Season was, I got the same look my boss gives those callers...a glazed over, slightly defensive posture, and a few mutterings.

And then I said, "Have you ever considered you were wrong?"


"You know, that you were wrong? That our reporter was wrong for not doing any cursory fact checking. This particular reporter - for that matter most of our news staff - is not a religious person by nature. If she had done a quick Google search of the term 'end of Christmas season' it would have pointed her to various websites explaining Epiphany and giving the date."

At that point - not used to me disagreeing with him - He walked away to find someone else more atune to hearing his tirade without challenging it.

And I went home...hoping perhaps tonight....or tomorrow...or maybe next week...maybe he'll have an ETiffany.

Merry Christmas my friends and Happy New Year. It's good to be back among the living.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mind Racers

Random thoughts of an insomniac...

It shouldn't be 81 degrees in January.

Am I the only person who saw Jack Abramoff's picture and immediately thought I knew him from somewhere?

Maybe it's only me.

Do you speak with an accent? Whales do.

This won't go down as one of the finest days in journalism history.

Any math problem I can't figure out with a pencil and paper makes my brain hurt.

When you can't sleep...benedryl and blogging are a good combination.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006

Huh? What?


Be very very quiet...the Mains are trying to sleep.

There's more truth to that than I wish.

For whatever reason, Amy and I have both been beset with a bout of insomnia that has extended for what seems like a month now but has at least consumed our entire holiday weekend. Amy started it and I'm apparently having sympathy sleeplessness which is now overriding all rational thought and causing a lot of tossing and turning.

At least today is a short day at the office and I'm bailing out in a few minutes.

I haven't meant to ignore you folks but babbling about not being able to sleep is seemingly the only thing I'm capable of doing.

Thanks for your New Years thoughts and prayers.

This too shall pass...hopefully.