Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Magi Mainly

We've renewed our journey in earnest...

We still have a church home, but we feel an increasing calling to spend Advent not only waiting for Christ, but seeking Christ in new ways.

I began our wanderings checking out a church on-line, sort of a satellite church of a MEGA-church in San Antonio which a friend attends - the mega-church that is.

A mega-church is not ever going to be our home...at least I don't feel God leading us that way. In fact, I believe God is leading us to smaller gatherings than even the tiny church we currently call home.

I thought this particular fellowship was in a distant part of town which would in truth hinder us, but as it turns out, it's right around the corner and truly focused more on home churches or groups that gather weekly and then re-gather together on Sundays to worship together.

All we did today was wander...on the internet...then a few minutes on the phone...and eventually opting to "stop by" and talk with the worship leader who happened be the only guy in the place.

It felt right...at least for now.

They've got a coffee bar...I'm just saying...

One step in our journey. We'll see where it will lead, but it was comfortable in many ways.

So this Sunday that's where I suspect our journey will take us...we may decide it's not the right step...and most certainly that we need more time.

But the season of Advent is upon us and we are wandering and waiting...to be guided by God.

I'm certain the wise men of old took some steps they were unsure of too...

In the end, whether we turn around or race forward, I know this much...God won't steer us wrong.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Various Ramblings

Anyone have 125 toothbrushes they're not using?

There's a sentence you don't hear/read too often.

I've put up a revised schedule of our Moldova Mission along with a list of items we're planning on bringing and or buying in Moldova. If someone is interested in donating these items - we need to bring enough for every kid - please email me and we can discuss it.

I'm getting a little apprehensive about the trip and excited at the same time. I think my apprehension may be that I saw how long it took Amy to pack for a two day trip to Dallas...

I may start her packing for Moldova this afternoon.

Other ramblings...

Interesting statistic: On Sunday the U.S. was officially "at war" in Iraq longer than the U.S. participated in World War II.

Every day I start my day by writing at least one story about American casualties in Iraq...the total is heart-wrenching, some 2800 plus.

For the record, the U.S. lost 406,000 troops in WWII.

I'm not trying to minimize one life lost...but I do wonder what American resolve was like some 60 years ago. Maybe there wasn't some guy like me writing a story every day about every casualty...

Anyone in need of a priest? You can rent one you know.



Most of these priests are Catholic but not recognized by the Catholic church because they're married, but I suppose they fill a void. I have a friend who wants very badly to become a priest in the Catholic church, but can't because he's happily married with five wonderful daughters. Perhaps I'll suggest he join Rent-A-Priest.

It looks like the Playstation III market is booming, at least on eBay. It's amazing how many people are willing to pay so much when another shipment will arrive in a few weeks.

eBay saw sales of 14,675 PlayStation 3 consoles between the Nov. 17 launch and last Friday at an average price of $1,186, according to eBay Marketplace Research. Between Oct. 17 and last Friday a total of 28,233 PlayStation 3 consoles have been sold on eBay at an average of $1,370.

The PlayStation 3 is available in two versions, one costing around $499 and the other costing around $599.

We could buy a lot of toothbrushes for that...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Roots & The Road

We're home.

Even when we travel though, I realize we're never far from our roots.

On this trip, which took us to my Aunt's house in Dallas, we brought along the dogs. I believe this might mean we've fallen victim to "Stockholm syndrome." We've come to empathize with these little terrorists who haunt our lives on a daily basis so much that instead of blissfully leaving them at home so we could "sleep in," we instead brought them along so we could be awakened each day by Winston howling.

Although we only get to Dallas about once a year, my "roots" are there. My side of the "family" is there, although the eclectic bunch with which we try to gather each year is made up of a diverse group of folks most of whom I'm not related to at all, and none of whom constitutes an actual "blood relation."

However my Aunt Kathy, although not technically a "blood relative" has been my de-facto "Mom" for more years than either of us now wish to count, and she's the heart and soul of our Dallas "family."

It's at her house we all gather, sometimes a huge number, this year a smaller number.

No matter how many people are there, one thing never changes...we always have more than enough love to go around...and far too much food.

Amy managed to get in some cooking time, so she was happy...

I managed to get in more than my share of eating and football, so I was content.

The dogs stuck to their routine, waking everyone up far too early, and Winston even managed to find his roots, or at least his pattern of bizarre behavioral quirks.

Thanksgiving morning in a city several hundred miles from home as I walked him and his sister, Avery, on a deserted street...Winston started trying to rush ahead.

You need to know that Winston is not the type of dog who "runs," he usually is dragging up the rear, sniffing at the ground, or stopping cold in his tracks to give you a stare that seems to say, "You are taking us toward food right?"

But Thanksgiving morning he was suddenly pulling at his leash trying fervently to get to something up the street. Then I realized what it was...a pair of socks.

Giant bright red socks.

Winston's sock fetish has been well documented here before and who knows, maybe it was Santa Claus, but someone dropped a pair of socks in the middle of the street...the street the one dog on the planet who will turn down food for socks (okay that might be a stretch) happened to be walking down...what are the odds?

He snatched those socks and proudly carried them back to the house where they became the source of great entertainment.

Besides a looming car repair bill (some type of gasket blew as we arrived in San Antonio - thank God it didn't happen on one of the tiny back roads we frequent in our attempts to avoid holiday traffic) we didn't really spend much money. We bought a few gifts/trinkets/junk at a little gift/trinket/junk shop in one small town...and not much else.

We always stick to back roads and small towns, it's a much more peaceful drive, and Amy and I enjoy the scenery from the fall leaves to the "holiday" lights in Marble Falls...albeit my photography skills don't do the lights justice.

As I was trying to get a photo of the lights in Marble Falls...Amy was busy too...trying to get a decent wireless connection for her laptop...from atop the car.

No, we're never far from our roots...

And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Time Of Thanks

We're falling into the trap...rushing to get a bunch of things done before we go out of town for a day or two. It seems we always set goals that invariably result in us a: Failing b: Being irritable for the first half of our trip.

I'm on vacation and I haven't worked this hard simply trying to get basic stuff done in a long while.

So we're going to wave the white flag.

Not all the laundry will be done, our house won't be clean, my computer won't be fixed, and maybe we'll be able to rest and enjoy ourselves.

I am so thankful for many things this year that I think it's time to step back for a second and say, "Whoa!"

Let's not play the game.

We'll get out of town, when we get out of town. We don't have to pack for a month, we could get by with a toothbrush and a change of underwear considering how long we'll be gone.

It's my fault. I start making "lists" and then the items on them become GIGANTIC.

So we're stopping. I tossed a couple of pairs of jeans, underwear and a few t-shirts/sweaters/socks in a bag and I'm done.

Amy and I were rushing until rush hour trying to get her some new glasses from some "$39.95, You don't mind squinting do you?" store which made them in an hour.

She still wanted to cook a "family" dinner tonight for Shell, whose wisely declined our offer to experience our traveling mania, her beau and Cindy, our dear friend from Austin whose been staying with us this week.

However, after a stressful afternoon we've nixed that plan too, in favor of a peaceful meal where we can focus on those things that are truly important.


I may blog from the road, I don't know. If not, let me say Amy and I feel very blessed by the friendships we've established in the "blogosphere." We have an exciting few months ahead of us, including our semi-mad mission to Moldova.

Amy is getting stronger every day, and soon it will be two years since she spent any extended time in the hospital. Reading back through the archives, that alone is something for which I feel compelled to fall to my knees and thank God.

In fact I do...quite often.

We've had some rocky times over the past year, some seemingly lost times, and some real God time. I'm thankful for all of it.

We have grown.

Certainly there has been some pain, but pain is a necessary thing...find someone who lacks the ability to feel pain and you'll likely find someone in a constant state of fear and panic. Pain is a blessing in many ways.

So I'm thankful...for all of you who wade through my mental meanderings. For our family and friends, who understand our imperfections and with whom we can honestly journey.

I'm thankful for time.

Time to reflect. Time to pray. Time to spend on things of substance, most of which aren't "things" at all.

Amy and I have more time together than most couples and I am indeed thankful for that...I couldn't make it without her patience and persistence.

I'm thankful for the time to come as well. A future that has some grey areas, but in which I also see a shining light of possibilities...of melting horizons replaced by new horizons.

Most of all I'm thankful for a gracious and forgiving God...who redeems time and is timeless at the same time. Only God would let me get away with a sentence like that one.

God puts it all in perspective.

May God bless you and keep you in this time.

Be thankful for all you have, and know Amy and I are thankful that we have all of you.

Grace & Peace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Michael & Amy

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Trucks & Big Foot?

I think I saw Bigfoot last night...and he's cleaned up his act...sort of.

Amy and I had the opportunity to attend a concert for "free," and it dovetailed nicely into the fact that I'm on vacation. Yes, I got these particular tickets for "free," but so did everyone else in the audience. It was the wrap up of Toby Keith's latest tour, sponsored - heavily - by Ford, and the concert was for "Ford truck owners." Anyone who believes that because I'm in radio that I get free concert tickets all the time doesn't realize where I am in the food chain.

I'm not a Ford truck owner, I have been, but after Amy and I were married and the kids started to grow, I realized cramming three kids into my little pickup was not going to fly unless we stopped feeding them. That didn't appear to be an option, so we ended up getting rid of my pick-up and getting a van.

I once had a friend who remarked that when you buy a mini-van, "it sucks the cool right out of you."

That's probably true...it's not the last time that pragmatism won out over pride...but that's another rabbit trail.

Anyway, a public relations person offered me tickets to this show which was Ford's first attempt to stage a concert exclusively for buyers of its trucks, as sort of a reward.

San Antonio is apparently the staging ground for the great pickup truck war. Last week Toyota opened its huge new truck making facility here and the battle is on for the hearts and long term low interest debt of pickup truck buyers.

It was a wonderful concert/extended Ford commercial. We had good seats, there was no charge for parking, and we managed to stay up past 8 p.m. on a Sunday, which is a feat in itself.

Toby Keith put on a raucous patriotic show and a good time was had by all.

However, I was intrigued by the opening act. I must admit, I never could hear the band's name, and I couldn't find their name on the web either.

Okay, I didn't waste a lot of time looking...

I was struck by how much they looked like a band of rock 'n rollers from my haze days. Country music has come a long way from the suit and tie days of Tom T. Hall.

The lead singer had hair down to his waist, and did not appear to all that fond of soap and water. And then there was this guy:

He was tall, not including the odd stovepipe hat he was wearing...but he wasn't that tall. However his feet...they were huge!

They looked stretched out.

Amy said maybe he was wearing over-sized shoes to "match his outfit."

This guy didn't hit me as a fashion trendsetter by any means and wearing silver shoes makes a statement in and of itself in my mind, but I've also tried on shoes that were too big and it's not easy to get around in them. You end up stubbing your toe, or what would be your toe if your shoes fit, and tripping quite easily. I can't envision hopping about on stage with a bass in giant clown shoes.

No, I think those are his real feet. They had to be size 17 or 18.

So I think I've found Bigfoot. He's shaved, put on a hat, and is playing bass for Toby Keith's opening act.

Then again...I could be mistaken...maybe he was someone else entirely.

I'm probably just chasin' rabbits.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

At One With One

Looks like I'm going to church alone. Amy had a sleepless night, and we have a "date" this evening which I'm giving equal importance to, plus a friend is coming in this afternoon to spend a few days with us, so Amy needs some rest.

I was tempted to stay home too, but that's not a healthy plan..although I do need to stop "furbling" at the computer, and go shower, shave, etc...so it's not quite as obvious I'm in vacation mode.

I'm not big on going to church alone, I used to never do it, but then I decided if I was committed to Christ, I needed to be in church even if the kids were sick, or Amy was sick, or the Cowboy's played an early game.

In truth, I need to spend time with God and I'm never alone when I do that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Week That Was

Thank God.

That phrase should really follow the title of the post, but it's probably not a bad way to start every thing I write.

Let's see, we're still in a little church limbo, it's tough to feel in community when you feel like there's an elephant in the room, and I have to be someplace where I can worship God freely.

A dear friend has asked me to go with him to a church he wants to check out, something less GIANT than the church he currently attends and I'm sure HUGE compared to Covenant. I haven't decided on that, the kids are performing the service at Covenant this weekend, so I'd like to be there. Some of those "kids" are not too far from college, and I taught them Sunday school when we were all trying to find our path to God...I suppose somethings never change.

My company, the media giant who shall remain nameless so I won't violate any corporate policies, announced it was "going private," which sent a few nerves a tingling. Amy was, quite frankly, hoping some benevolent soul would buy the firm, fire everybody and give everyone a years salary for every year they've been there - I've been there 21 years - I don't make a fortune but that type of money would rechart our course rather quickly.

I know that's what she's been praying...she prays very loud sometimes...at least I can hear her.

That didn't happen - God knows what's best - however it appears the folks I wanted to "win" the bidding war have won, and they're doing the things I had hoped they'd do which will free me from ever having to say the word "synergy" again. Plus, if things play out as I hope, I will keep my various duties, and make a few fast bucks that were supposed to be long term shekels. I'm not banking on that, but I'm employed and seemingly going to stay that way for a while longer. That's a relief.

My computer is running at home but it's in shambles...okay, most of our house is in shambles, but the computer is more of a mess.

Okay, I've tried repeatedly to get blogger to post this photo and it won't so, I'll have do it manually, an appropriate way to end a frustrating week.

Yes, that's a fan, blowing on my hard drives, which are perched between an interior fan trying to keep them from frying. The only advantage to this arrangement is that it does keep the dust and dog hair in a constant swirl which is occasionally amusing, albeit I'm easily amused.

Okay, it took longer to get that photo uploaded than I had planned and I can smell the computer - that's not a good thing, so I should probably assume I'm on borrowed time.

Anyway, we survived the week...things don't look too bleak after all, and there's still a lot of uncertainty in our lives. So what else is new? When has it ever been different?

Truthfully, we all lead lives of uncertainty and I'm sort of glad about that; I wouldn't want to always know what to expect next.

My computer is full of dust, God is full of surprises.

Oh...and I'm on vacation...looking forward to the week that will be.

Surprise me, God...You always do.


My home computer has died...or is dying...

However I noticed an update this morning to the "Toys For Tots" story...The Marine Reserves have decided they can accept the "Talkin' Jesus" dolls. A victory for Jesus...or for a toy maker who managed to manipulate the press and essentially blackmail a charity.

From the AP:

The Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program has decided to accept a donation of Bible-quoting Jesus dolls, reversing course after saying earlier this week that it couldn't take them.

"The talking Jesus doll issue has been resolved," the organization announced on its Web site Wednesday. "Toys for Tots has found appropriate places for these items. We have notified the donor of our willingness to handle this transaction."

The short note on the Web site did not explain what it would do with the dolls.

Earlier this week, the program declined a suburban Los Angeles company's offer to donate 4,000 of the foot-tall talking dolls. The battery-powered Jesus is one of several Bible-based dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co.

In explaining the initial decision, Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Va., had said the program didn't want to take the risk of offending a Jewish or Muslim family if they received a Jesus doll.

Toys for Tots distributed 18 million stuffed animals, games, toy trucks and other gifts to children based on financial need in 2005.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Talkin' Jesus

"The media" is oft times like lemmings...someone does a "story" and the rest of the pack jump on. This often makes what was not really a story to begin with seem huge, and it really makes me wonder how easy it is to manipulate reporters.

I was thinking of how Bobby Knight's "slap" of a Texas Tech player was going to be played up as I listened to a sports talk station on my way into work this morning. I watched the "slap"...over...and over...over...on ESPN. I know Bobby Knight is a hothead, but does anyone really think that was abusive? "Hey! Kid! You! The one getting the free ride at college! Can you look at me when I talk to you?"

I thought it looked more like Bobby Knight on thorzine compared to his past antics...but I suppose it's his past that's really the story.

Then I came upon this silly "controversy" involving the wonderful, well-intentioned charity - Toys For Tots. If you missed it, apparently a company that makes talking religious dolls, offered to donate a bunch of "Talkin' Jesus" dolls to the Marine Reserves to give away.

These are dolls that look like what a lot of folks imagine Jesus looked like, which talk when you pull a string. They sell 'em for about 25 bucks a throw.

The company started out in Beverly Hills making expensive Teddy bears...they've also made plush dolls of Shrek, Precious Moments, and a variety of other dolls. They know the doll business...they know the advertising business...

The Marine Reserves refused the offer saying essentially they don't know every kid's religion and they didn't want to offend anyone. Plus, and these are my words, I'm sure it would be more of a hassle than a help to try to get these dolls - which no doubt are a delightful way to teach your child about Christ if you so choose - to the right families. That's a pretty valid argument to me.

I've been involved for a number of years with an all volunteer charitable group in San Antonio that distributes toys to kids every Christmas, and the logistics of simply finding people to deliver the toys is a nightmare. They go to great lengths to find out how old the children are in the house (and that's not always easy) so they can give them "age appropriate" toys. They also try to find out if they are little boys or little girls....no little boy wants to wake up on Christmas and get a Barbie.

Okay, some might but we really don't need to go there do we?

Simply trying to find current addresses for some of these families is hard...I couldn't imagine trying to also determine their religions.

The company makes a variety of talking religious dolls by the way, they didn't offer any talking "Talkin' Moses" dolls or even "Talkin' David" dolls, which would at least have given the Marines a few options.

Just "Talkin' Jesus" - take Him or leave Him.

The Marines politely refused the offer of some 4000 "Talkin' Jesus" dolls.

Anyone doubt the Marines were polite about it?

Didn't think so.

So then how did it become a news story? It's possible, I suppose, that some devout person working for Toys For Tots was offended and called a newspaper.

That's possible...but again, I've worked with like-minded charities and believe me they're awful busy trying to get stuff done that needs to be done. I've never met anyone involved in such a charity who would do ANYTHING to hurt that charity.

Then again...a disgruntled, impolite, Christian Marine could be the source.

On the other hand...we do have this company...this for profit company...that makes "Talkin' Jesus" dolls...

Could they have a motive? I'm just saying...

Their website, which I was going to link to but then decided I didn't want to give them even that, says "their mission" is "to see that 10 million children are effectively taught 50 Bible stories by the end of year 2007."

I want to teach kids about Jesus too, but I'd have a hard time stepping on the Marines to do it.

I counted 240 news stories on this today.

Looking for a gift for your kid this Christmas? How about a G.I. Joe...in Marine uniform...and a Bible.

Tell your children about Jesus...from your heart. They'll listen, and no one will have to pull any strings.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quiet, Numbskulls, I'm Broadcasting!

Ah the classics... I came across "Grouper.com" this morning. One of the numerous sites that feature video where you can waste hours and hours. I wanted to give it a test.

Make sure you click "off" the "autoplay" function...otherwise it will play as soon as anyone hits your site, which - to me at least - is annoying. Also it adds a bunch of stuff like adding video comments to your post, something I'd prefer not to have, so we'll see if it works if I remove that code.

If it does, then that's all for now...I need to get back to real work...or broadcasting.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hits, Stats, Stacks & Wives

I've been cleaning clutter from my blog template for two reasons:

1. It allows me to avoid cleaning the house, primarily folding laundry, which is what I really should be doing.

2. I think since I'm now "Philosopher King" of a web hosting/web design business I'm going to put a few ads or links on the blog to other sites I want to promote or that pay me money.

However as I was getting rid of things I put up long ago and long ago forgot my passwords on how to even access them, I saw the "SiteMeter."

The little thingy at the very bottom of this page finally rolled over to 200,000 on Friday.

This, I suppose, is something to celebrate, but I don't put much stock in its accuracy.

I have numerous other ways to determine web traffic...one is Google Analytics, which I like because it shows me pie charts and maps and it has lots of little "clicky" things I can play with, none of which make sense to me.

Being the Philosopher King of The Aspen Group, I also have other magical ways, unavailable to the great unwashed, to look at statistics. They show up like this:

There's only one problem with all these gizmos...they all provide different results. According to that last one, the blog had over 240,000 hits in October. Sitemeter says in four years or so, I haven't come close to reaching that total, Google Analytics goes up and down and honestly I usually play with the area that shows where visitors are from, "Hello! Whoever it was who stopped by here from Hong Kong yesterday!"

None of this really makes any difference to me. I long ago stopped really worrying about site traffic, as evidenced by the fact that several other site "stat" things I have now deleted from the bottom of the page, I had forgot existed.

I also don't think this post makes much of a difference to anyone, but it's 6 a.m. and Amy is sleeping. There are stacks of laundry I need to fold and this was the only thing that came to mind to get out of it.

As I left my sleeping wife,
I came upon a time of strife.
Stacks of laundry piled quite high,
if they're to be folded, I'm the guy.
Instead I played with web design,
and stats and hits took form of rhyme.
But now it seems the rhyme is done,
so I'm off to fold with the rising Sun.

What? You expected good poetry at 6 a.m.?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dogs, Squirrels & McGriddle Amends II

I have no idea where I'm going with this...which, to tell you the truth, is how I usually write.

My dogs are nuts.

And I'm still the Google King of McGriddle recipes.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Confused? We've only begun.

We've been blessed with tremendous weather lately, actual rainfall on occasion, cooler temperatures finally...okay it's 82 degrees today but that's cool in South Texas, and for reasons best left unwritten I had the opportunity to once again see where I was in the almighty McGriddle recipe standings with Google.

For those of you who haven't paid rapt attention...okay, for everyone...a couple of years ago, I made a mocking comment about how to make a McGriddle...and then I noticed an amazing upswing in "hits" to this website, along with an occasional hate mail, when folks realized I basically said, "pour syrup on a McMuffin."

If you go to Google today...two YEARS later...and type in "McGriddle Recipe," odds are, depending on Google's odd mood swings, this blog will still come up as the first choice...hence the hate mail...that keeps coming in. It's the only hate mail I've ever gotten from anything I've written, and this post coincidentally (according to Google) puts me over 1500 posts.

Every hate mail has been about McGriddles.

People like their McGriddles...and they don't like me for making fun of them for liking them. I apologize...blame Google...I only did it as a joke!

I actually tried to make amends to those people seeking McGriddles when McDonald's was closed (I didn't realize McDonald's did close but that's another rabbit trail and I'm already wondering how the heck I'm going to get back to my dogs being nuts) in a post a year or so ago where I listed the actual McGriddle recipe.

To make amends again to all of you strangers who wandered here looking for that recipe, first let me say it's for a "lo-cal" McGriddle, but I presume you can substitute all the fattening stuff for the lo-cal items and come off with a pretty good McGriddle knock-off. If you click HERE it will take you to that post, with the recipe. It's not mine...I STOLE it from a site called Recipe Circus. Recipe Circus should be getting all the hits from people seeking McGriddle Recipes...but, alas, I know that this post is going to doom that possibility...I'm sealing my own fate. So again, if you want the recipe click HERE!

Okay, now that I've cemented myself eternally in Google's McGriddle Recipe matrix, let's move on.

My dogs are nuts.

While I was doing my...I'm not going to put in the word again...research on that McDonald's product in relation to my blog, I remembered a comment someone left about how much they liked it when I wrote about our dogs.

So I thought I'd write about our dogs today.

Our dogs are nuts.

With the nicer weather, we spend a great deal of time on what we call our patio, which is really a cracked slab of dirty cement, detached from the house. I actually scoured it a few weeks ago...THEN we got rain.

Two years, no rain...I scrub the patio...deluge.

Anyway, that really has little to do with anything, except that I've noticed how crazy our two little West Highland White (grey in our case)terrorists...er terriers have become. They are obsessed little beasts...obsessed by a squirrel.

It's a tiny squirrel. A baby squirrel.

Oh, don't let it fool you...it's on its' game.

This squirrel harasses, teases, toys, and tinkers with the already somewhat addled minds of our dogs...especially Winston, our "special needs" dog, who sits in vigil for the squirrel to make a move.

And it makes the same moves...every day.

It jumps perilously from a tree in our yard, to the covering over our cracked, now dirty, and sinking patio, up another tree...down the top of our fence...onto the neighbor's roof, where it sits, giggles, and then shoots out of sight.

The dogs bark...they run...they try to climb trees...they chase it down the fence...they backtrack...and watch it go up the roof...giggle at them...and then they turn around and behave.

This happens ten times a day.

It would happen more, if we let the dogs out more often.

It's a game between a baby squirrel and two mixed up, or entertainment deprived, little dogs.

I might add that every time this happens, Amy or I both scream at the dogs to stop.

That never works.

Still we do it.

Every time.


I''ll admit it.

Maybe it's not our dogs that are nuts.

But you folks who are looking for a McGriddle recipe...you're not exactly sane either.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I don't care how you voted.

I'm not obsessed with elections or politics...I'm afraid I'm jaded in that regard.

I don't blog about politics, because too many people do it and they do it better.

I personally think politicians tend to muck things up, are too caught up in raising money and feathering their own nests and that the only way to play the game is to steal money from you and me and pretend to give it back to us.

But my opinion really doesn't matter.

The "news media" - and I am one - are quick to point out how the Democrats have sent a referendum to President Bush about the war, about the economy (anyone checked on that lately by the way?), about Congress, Donald Rumsfeld or Nancy Pelosi, or John Kerry or stem cell research...or whatever dunks your donut.

I think they're wrong.

Voter turnout is being hailed as "slightly higher" than most off year elections, an indication of voter dissatisfaction, voter determination, voter indigestion...you name it.

The fact is roughly 40 percent of the registered voters in the United States bothered to vote.

Let's all do the math together....100 minus 40 = 60.

Sixty percent of registered voters didn't go to the polls.

One could argue that 60 percent of Americans are too lazy to vote. I don't really believe that's true.

Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Green Party, Libertarian,Communist...whatever, I think most Americans think - dare I say it - believe that their vote never really matters.

The people we elect don't do what they promise. Why bother?

I don't blame you for not voting. In fact, I think in this election that's the issue that is being overlooked. Sixty percent of Americans who bothered to register to vote...didn't cast a ballot.
They voted with their feet...and their feet stood still.

Not with early voting, drive by voting, absentee balloting...not with virtually every conceivable way to make it easy to vote, almost two-thirds of Americans who registered to vote said, "Nah. Why bother?"

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we are that lazy. Maybe it's too easy to vote. Maybe the folks who didn't vote are too stupid and we should be glad they didn't vote because they don't pay enough attention.

Maybe...but I don't think so.

"The Independent Election Commission of Iraq (IECI) said its initial tally of 72% had been little more than a guess based on local estimates. The panel has since revised the estimated turnout at 60% to 75%." - That quote is from the most biased news source I could think of, and it took me a while, AlJazeera.com, talking about the election...in Iraq.

Something is wrong folks.

There's got to be a better way. I don't know what it is, but when nearly two-thirds of the REGISTERED voters in this country don't vote...I think the REAL referendum that's being sent to Washington is:"I don't care, you aren't listening to me anyway!"

I think 60 percent of registered American voters are saying, "I give up!"

And, blast it all, I don't think anyone is ever going to hear them because they're just muttering to themselves.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

From The eird orld

The Mayor of Diyarbakir, Turkey is being sued and could go to jail for six months for sending out greeting cards reading "Happy New Year." At issue is the letter "W"...really.

The Turkish alphabet doesn't have the letter W...but the Kurdish alphabet does. State agencies and other groups have been ordered to use the Turkish alphabet, so the mayor technically violated the "w law" by having the word "New" on his greeting card.

As a warning, keep in mind X and Q are also not allowed in Turkey...which make scrabble even more boring.

I Don't Care If It's Gonna Blow Up

A couple of years ago I wrote about the proliferation of balloon-like Christmas decorations and peppered that post with lyrics from a song I learned in junior high called "Plastic Jesus."

What actually startled me, was the number of folks who commented or emailed that they were completely unaware of the song. A lot of my friends were Catholic when I was a boy, so I suppose having a plastic Jesus on the dashboard was something they were more familiar with, and I simply assumed everyone knew that song.

Today I ran across a guy who's selling "Plastic Mohammeds"...or more precisely, bobblehead Mohammad dolls for your dashboard. BEWARE: The website is not polite and littered with profanity.

This guy is obviously playing with fire...but I think he lives in Hawaii so he doesn't fear a "Jihad." Still, it did get me wondering what the lyrics would be for a satirical song....

"I don't care if ______"

Any song writers out there?

Be nice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

He Lives

No, I haven't died.
Yes, I felt like I wanted to.

Something grabbed hold of me Friday and held on. I'll spare you the details, but to put it in terms internet addicts will understand, today's the first day I've checked email since Thursday.

I make a lousy sick person. I think I could best be described as a wounded bear. I want to be left alone, I growl a lot, and I tend not to smell very nice.

Poor Amy...to her credit she kept trying to get liquids in me (albeit they didn't stay in me long) and tried to encourage me to move...mostly toward the shower.

The only upside to the weekend was that I managed to sleep through both the Spurs loss Friday night and the Cowboys debacle on Sunday. I also think I lost about ten pounds.

However we missed church, missed a planned birthday event for a dear friend (which we've rescheduled for tomorrow), and I missed writing...eating...occasionally breathing. I didn't miss any sleep, I think I've slept about 80 hours over the past several days.

I'm being adventurous as I write this, stepping into the potentially dangerous world of coffee, and a granola bar...we'll see how that comes out...pardon the pun.

Anyway onto brighter subjects...

Before I departed this plane, I was off to our second "Team Moldova" meeting. It was inspiring, a little daunting and very encouraging. We've paid off our airfare costs in total and I learned I don't have pay the rest until mid December - that's a not so subtle hint that if anyone still feels an urge to contribute you can still do so via CERI or send a check made out to CERI to us.

I was a little optimistic when I said we had raised enough funds and to "hold all checks," in all honesty we have the money in our "emergency fund" to pay the freight if need be, but I wouldn't be opposed to lightening our load a little more. The email I received that inspired me to write that "hold all checks" line, was actually outlining the costs for airfare and visas, and what we have raised/contributed does total almost that exact amount.

However there's about $1500 dollars in other costs. I've already paid $600 of those, plus about $700 toward our air fare/visas....so if anyone still feels "led" the links on how to give are on the sidebar. I'm not going to belabor the point, but I might as well be truthful...I sort of goofed when I said we had raised every thing we needed. If not another dime comes in...we're still going, and to all those who have given...I still can not find the words to express our heartfelt thanks.

As to giving "stuff" we can take with us for the orphans, now estimated to be around 125 kids, this is a little dicey. There are a couple of factors at play. First off, customs agents in Moldova apparently won't allow you to bring in a suitcase full of "stuff" so things have to be packed among all the team members to look like they're for personal use...even combs, toothbrushes, etc. That means if you go to the dollar store and buy 125 combs, we'll split them between bags of our team and another team that's going...but we've decided to not to try to buy a bunch of clothes for fear they'll get confiscated. Customs agents think anything being brought into the country in quantity is destined for the thriving black market. So, we'll probably end up buying stuff in Moldova, it won't be as high of quality, but we'll be able to bring gifts that the people on the ground there say they really need. Plus, we will be bringing or buying gifts for those workers...I still need more information on that.

Secondly, we want to make sure we are giving kids what they need. Toiletries are always good, but the same rules apply: first they have to be small enough that we can divvy them up in our luggage, and second there has to be enough for every kid.

These children have very little and it can be almost cutthroat if one kid feels another kid gets more. We've been warned to expect to see fist-fights on a regular basis. We don't want to contribute to that situation. Plus, and I say this in all kindness, it's not our intent to go into Moldova and "Americanize" these children by showering them with toys and gifts at Christmas. Greed runs rampant through Moldova, we hope to inspire these children in another direction.

In fact, that brings me to the "theme" of our mission: The true meaning of giving.

We'll start each day with a devotional among the team members and then one of us will lead a devotional each morning and each evening at the orphanage. I've already agreed to lead one such nighttime devotional, a reading....more likely a paraphrase of one of my favorite authors from my childhood and I suppose still, O.Henry. The story: "The Gift of the Magi."

Amy has been recruited to lead singing each morning and was pumped to learn that some of the kids know a number of familiar praise songs in Romanian. I would expect Amy to surprise some folks when we get there...but that's all I'm saying about that.

Anyway, this idea of spreading joy and perhaps spreading a small bit of wisdom about the nature of true giving seems so absolutely on target for a mission trip that I came away from our meeting truly feeling that we are in the midst of God's will.

Now that my insides are apparently out of the clutches of Satan (coffee and granola bar and staying down) I'm eager to get to work...

So now, I'm off to memorize The Gift of the Magi...and start figuring out a way to summarize it, so that I can hold 125 kids attention as my words are translated and still do justice to such a wonderful story.

Okay, suddenly my stomach isn't feeling so good...but I don't think it's the flu this time...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tonight's The Night

This is it...the start of the Spurs season!

Actually, I am rather excited about that, even though I'm going to miss (or at least tape) tonight's regular season opener.

Tonight, we have our "Moldova Team" meeting, which is bound to be eventful, although no one will be dunking or dribbling, unless someone brings donuts and coffee.

Today however may be an exercise in patience. Being ever prepared, Amy and I still have to fill out some forms, and get yet more dour photos for our Visas, which Moldova requires. Oddly enough they're going to stop requiring them on January 1st, but since we'll be arriving December 31st, we need to have and pay for the Visas. It's nice to know the bureaucracy is alive and well no matter where you are in the world.

I've also got to stop by the CERI office today. I'm actually killing some time at my office, since I know they won't be open too early. I've mentioned having a few communication problems with the CERI folks about donations and I have to have an exact total of what has been received by them tonight in order to write a check to cover the balance. Amy and I have always intended to pay a good chunk of the costs, and even with the amazing generosity of blog readers and family members, we'll still be contributing about a third of the costs, which is fine...I simply can't write a check for "about," I have to have an exact number.

Apparently the young woman, no doubt an overworked volunteer, who has been in charge of on-line contributions has recently gotten married and gone on her honeymoon. I'm working on the assumption she's returned and has been digging through the stuff piled on her desk, which includes about twelve unanswered emails from me...not to mention voice mails.

Anyway, with time running out, and since the CERI offices are on my way home, I figured I'd drop by and see if I can't get this worked out.

Wish me luck.

Surely, it won't be more difficult than getting Amy ready for another photograph for our Visas.

Why is the theme from "Man Of La Mancha" running through my head?

UPDATE: Wouldn't you know it? Just as I was closing out my email, the CERI volunteer I've been "spamming" replied to my email promising to have the information for me by 10 a.m.

No need to go visit (not sure she really would want to see me anyway)...guess I'll be able to squeeze in a nap today after all...and watch the Spurs replay.

Tonight's the night, but today is off to a good start too.