Saturday, April 28, 2007

Miracles, Or Maybe Just Me

I've been thinking about miracles lately.

The other night during our small church group meeting, we got on the subject of miracles and some members talked about how they had witnessed a true miracle, while other folks...okay maybe just me, mentioned seeing miracles in almost everything.

I suppose it depends on your definition of miracle.

For example, last week I was having a long overdue lunch with my friend Gordon spending most of the time catching up on each other's families, but also some time talking about where we both were with God and church.

Since Amy and I are attending a "campus" of what is essentially a mega-church, I was explaining how I've changed some of my attitudes about huge churches, while still being wary of the potential for a loss of intimacy. I was starting to cite some specific examples of what I consider really horrifying mega-churches, when Gordon pointed out several people were being seated right next to us. Among them was the Pastor of perhaps the largest mega-church in San Antonio, who was certainly about to come up in our conversation.

It wasn't like we were eating at the most popular place in town, it was a Mexican restaurant I had never heard of, pretty much off the beaten path. The odds that this Pastor would be eating there at the exact time Gordon and I were, and while I was spouting off about churches like his...well, it was hard to chalk it up to coincidence. I didn't dwell on it, but I think it might have prompted me to lower my voice and shove some extra chips and salsa in my mouth.

Anyway, I've been sort of kicking around this idea of how we define miracles and I'm sure much to your amazement you'll be startled to realize I haven't come to any profound universal conclusions.

I do wonder though if perhaps we are guilty of overlooking an awful lot of miracles because we're sort of conditioned to equate the term "miracle" with big "gee whiz" kind of stuff. You know, parting the Red Sea, raising Lazarus from the dead, the cable guy showing up when promised...

I personally believe we miss an abundance of miracles every day as a result.

For example, I recently stumbled across a mention in something I was reading about the ductus arteriosus.

Yeah, I know that sounds like some type of painful disorder the details of which you hope anyone who suffers from will keep to themselves...but actually it's not an ailment at's a body part, which disappears.

Yes, that's also something I believe most of us hope doesn't happen. I'm with you on that one, I'd like to think I'll hang onto as many of my body parts as possible for as long as possible, but for almost all of us our "ductus arteriosus" ceases to function within hours or days of our being born.

No, it's not cut off by baby doctors or as part of any religious goes away naturally.

I'm not an expert by any means but essentially the ductus arteriosus is a little flap or bypass vessel in unborn babies. Its sole purpose, to my understanding, is to block blood from the baby's mother from going to her unborn child's lungs. Unborn children's lungs are already filled with fluid and they get their oxygen from their mom while they're in the womb.

When a baby is born, the dynamic obviously changes. Now the kid must start to use its lungs to get oxygen into the blood.

With me so far?

For almost all of us that little ductus arteriosus starts to shrink when we take our first breath. There are all sorts of things at play in this process, you can go all Wikipedia on me if you want a more precise explanation, but the gist as I glean it is that with that first breath, your ductus arteriosus gets whapped by another muscle that stops it from doing the one job it has been doing for the past nine months or so. Not only does your ductus arteriosus begin to seal itself off, but that one little muscle whose apparent only job is to slap your ductus arteriosus into going into hiding, disintegrates. Your body absorbs it..its purpose in your life is fulfilled.

Again, I was lucky to pass high school biology and I'm not certain to this day I have all the basics of anatomy figured out, so this is way over simplified I'm sure.

Still, that's pretty amazing right?

I'm not alone in thinking how that process is precisely perfect am I?

I mean if that one little action of ductus ateriosus interruptus (okay, I made that up) didn't occur none of us would be able to survive for very long after birth without surgical intervention.

Sometimes that does happen - you learn that when you Google ductus arteriosus - but for almost all of us no doctor has to get involved beyond perhaps giving us a slap on our newborn fannies.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I mean the whole birth thing is a miracle from start to finish in my book, so looking for miracles within miracles might be sort of like staring into a fire for too long...

Still, whether it's a mega-church Pastor sitting down next to you while you're about to start ranting about mega-churches -which has only happened once in my lifetime, or some little thing that happens every day, thousands of times all over the world in almost everyone's lifetime...I wonder if I'm not guilty of too often trying to see the "holy" and overlooking the "humble."

Image from "The God Interviews" by Natalie d'Arbeloff

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Praises & Plugs

Hey, this is a blatant plug.

At least you were warned.

My friend, Glenn Dodson, has put together a new "Worship" of his longtime dreams.

He's not a big time music guy.

He's a guy in my church, and he bankrolled this puppy on faith, not intending to make a buck, but he is still intending for his kids to be able to eat.

You may have already noticed the link on the sidebar.

Moments ago, I realized - oddly enough before we were supposed to head over to Glenn's home for our Wednesday night group meeting (a plan that derailed at the last minute) - that he now has a way for you to sample the music, and download individual songs or the entire CD - legally - for a very modest fee.

You can click on the CD cover on the sidebar, or this link to get you there.

The CD - "Jesus be glorified" - is really intended, and I may be putting words in Glenn's mouth, I think for "Worship Leaders" to consider for their congregations.

However, it's well worth a listen for anyone, and I love plugging our friend's various enterprises, especially those who feel that God has led them in such creative directions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake...Oh No! Don't!

You don't see this every day...even with the best eye sight.

Yeah, that's a cake.

Course you'll need something to wash it down with...

Yeah...cake too.

Lots more very amazing cakes at this blog although I take no responsibility for the comments you may read.

At least some of them start with the word, "Holy."


P.S. Happy Birthday, Joey! We were going to send you a cake...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shouldn't You Be President?

I've never really understood why anyone would actually "seek" the job of President of the United States, especially in modern times.
The press scrutiny, the constant criticism, the daily polls supposedly reflecting your popularity, or lack thereof...and it's not like the job pays that well compared to private sector corporate big wigs with stock options, golden parachutes and the like. I mean the pay isn't bad, and sure there are plenty of perks...but really, there are lots of other jobs that pay better which you don't have to spend a ton a money to get, and every decision you make isn't second guessed in public.

Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in the concept of service. I believe finding a place of service is a fundamental key to personal growth. I simply don't quite comprehend how someone decides they should be the person to serve as President of the United States. Of course there are lots of things I don't comprehend.

I'm really not very political, so rest assured I'm not running.

However you can.

Unfortunately, time is running out. is a website I only came across today when I saw that a guy from San Antonio was "running for President." That's really only a small step on his agenda, he actually aspires to be "King." I thought it would be a funny thing to write about him until I looked him up and well, he isn't so funny as much as creepy.

In any case, the website does let folks - every day folks - run for President every year. You can post your policies, your outlandish ideas...whatever.

However, you have to do it now.

Right now.

I mean immediately.

The deadline to register and enter the primaries is today, April 23rd - sorry for the short notice.

At first I thought that time line was so unreasonable there was no sense even writing about it. Then I realized how silly I was being.

After all, so many people seem to spend so much of their time ranting and raving about how this should be done or that should be done, whether it's the war, or immigration, or gay rights, or income taxes, or flag burning, or whatever. So many folks seem to have all the answers. Surely they shouldn't have any problem slapping together their platform at a moments notice.

So go ahead, run. Right now.

What's it going to hurt?

I mean it's not like your decisions or positions will be taken seriously anyway.

People may mock you, label you, blame you and even spit on your heartfelt desire to serve...but it's not like you'll require Secret Service protection or anything. The most you'll possibly suffer is a little humiliation at best.

Almost like the real thing...and doesn't it sound like fun?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Google Meet God. God....Google

I'm not feeling well...don't you love posts that start out with someone whining?

I could elaborate, but I suppose I really only need to mention that as justification for saying I haven't felt like writing, actually I haven't really felt like sitting up.

However, I did have to answer some emails, and pay some bills and that of course prompted me to try to find something else to think I looked around at some of the search phrases that brought people to this blog.

There are the usual ones...that breakfast sandwich which shall remain nameless lest I further cement my place in Google's hierarchy as the only person on earth Google believes has the recipe for it.

I've had a lot of folks, actually quite a few emails too, visit here during Lent because they were seeking information about the so called "Daniel diet." For a number of years I followed a modified version of that diet during Lent and at one time I put up a list of what was included. Much like the ingredients for that never to be mentioned again breakfast sandwich, I got my list from someone else on the Internet and forgot I posted it. However someone at some church found it, and suddenly this year I was their "expert." Apparently a good portion of the congregation was going to try the diet for at least 10 days.

That's fine, I got some very nice emails and replied to all of them with essentially the same message, "I'll try to help answer as many questions as possible, but in truth I believe you've mistaken me for someone with an actual intellect."

God has wonderful ways of keeping me humble.

Since I changed a few photos around the other day to discourage "hot-linking" I've discovered that the most sought after photo - even more prized than the picture of the birthday cake in a urinal - is the picture of Matt Robison, the young man in Ottawa who set a record for having his body pierced. I wrote a flippant piece about him a year or so ago, only to be rightly chastised by his Dad, which prompted me to write another post about rushing to judgment. It also sparked some nice on-line conversations with the Robison family.

A lot of folks are still hitting that old photo link and getting a picture of a woman drinking out a toilet. I have no idea what they're thinking when that happens...hopefully they don't think that's the latest incarnation of Matt.

Anyway, I didn't see anything in the search terms that justified me staying vertical much longer until I clicked on one more visitor arriving via Google.

This is what I found:

(click to enlarge)

They searched for: Main reason Texas is famous.

This blog came up first? Huh?

Ahead of the Alamo? Sam Houston? Austin? Heck, ahead of cows? How on earth could that happen?

I'm either sicker than I thought and am now hallucinating, or Google and God have some talking to do...they're quite obviously not on the same page about this humility thing.
P.S. Happy Birthday Kathy, we love you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Christ In Action

I really have little to say about this...

This is one of several "Jesus Action Figures" which are supposedly going on sale "soon."

The others depict Jesus in a variety of settings.

(click photo to enlarge)

I do find it interesting the "Quarterback Jesus" appears to be wearing a Cowboys jersey...although I doubt anyone would confuse the Dallas quarterbacks who've worn that number for the team's savior, much less their own.

There are all sorts of Jesus action figures and really the site is very nice, in seemingly good taste...well as much as you could expect from a site hawking a skateboarding Christ.

(click photo to enlarge)

They sure have Jesus doing all sorts of stuff, although they don't have Jesus holding a rod and reel.

I mention that only because of the web site's name:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Questions And Comfort

There will be plenty of people with answers.....

I'll be sorting through their theories tomorrow...well before dawn.

There will be pundits who will blame guns, psychiatrists who will blame childhood traumas, groups that will cast blame on video games, religious groups who will cast indictments toward pharmaceutical companies, novices and know-it-alls who will say it was the fault of inattentive parents, school policies, military mentalities, peer pressure... you name it, the list will go on and on.

We are a society that demands answers, that needs answers. We can't function without finality.

Of course even if we had real answers they wouldn't help the parents and friends of the dozens of people killed today at Virginia Tech.

News writers like me will try to avoid answers, we'll focus on asking questions and I will concentrate on composing stories by stating sadistic facts - someone with guns, ammunition and internal outrage of some form exploded...the result: horror and heartbreak.

Eventually, there will also be the inevitable questions, " Where was God? How could God allow this nightmare to unfold?"

I can not fathom the gaping spiritual wounds the numerous victims of this senseless rampage must be enduring and will continue to bear. I can not envision the scars to their sanity that will savage their souls for days and years and lifetimes.

The sadness, the anger, and the pain will be pronounced and prolonged...and it will only be made worse because there will never be an answer deemed adequate.

These events are beyond our explanation and I believe beyond our least for me. I am certainly incapable of finding words of comfort, much less answers.

I will pray though. I will pray because I believe God is wading within the core of those in crisis. I believe He is trying to console the Virginia Tech victims, their families, the students and friends whose groans of grief echo so loudly around the earth this evening. I will pray that somehow they find a way to go recognize that God is among them and that His purpose will steady them...and all of us.

The last thing I will do tonight will be to read the words I spent this afternoon tracking down, knowing they might bring me some peace by reminding me of He who sustains me.

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?"

-C.K. Chesterton

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Clearing Clutter

Saturdays are good days for clearing clutter. Of course, I could actually be physically doing that, as in cleaning our house, however it obviously takes less effort to instead clear up and update a few things which have cluttered my thoughts and this blog over the past weeks, and in some cases years.

So let us begin...

Yes, I do officially have sleep apnea. I have been ordered to use a CPAP machine, which I picked up Thursday.

I've been warned it may take some getting used to, which is an understatement. I actually had no problem initially, but now I find myself spending so much time hooking up this gizmo and trying to make it fit so I'll be comfortable that by the time I get it positioned correctly I'm too frustrated to sleep. I'm not giving up by any means, but I will admit that I'm going to have master this thing...losing sleep because I'm so preoccupied by "preparing" to go to sleep seems somewhat senseless.


I've mentioned perhaps too cryptically at times that I set a Lenten goal of repairing some lost relationships. In truth there is one relationship which has been my primary focus, my relationship with my eldest brother, Stan. It's a long story but Stan "disowned me" a couple of years ago and to my shame I let him. Anyway, I vowed that during Lent I would do my best to undo that damage...and I then proceeded to procrastinate for the entire 40 days. Stan's birthday was on Easter and I ended up attempting to email him the day before. I suspected he had my email blocked, but I got no indication that what I sent him was rejected. I also didn't get any response.

I chewed on that for this past week and then tracked down his current phone numbers. That's how bad it was, I mean we've been so 'estranged' that he moved out of state without telling me, evidently more than a year ago.

So anyway, today I mustered up the courage to call, and ended up leaving a message. Not long afterward, Stan called back. We got past the initial stuff that started this division as quickly as possible, and then got onto more substantial matters like catching up with each other's lives.

I know I feel a great deal better to have our "feud" set aside and I truly think Stan does as well. At least we have a line of communication open. I'll settle for that for now, and pray I won't let pride clog it again.

An update is long over due on the Gomez family who were displaced by hurricane Katrina and lived with us for 6 or so months.

They are all doing well.

Amy spoke with Lee the other day. They, like all families, have some issues to deal with - none of which I plan to publicize - but everyone is healthy, they're still living close by and they're still succeeding in their reassembled lives. Lee is an active member at our previous church, surrounded by loving people which is a very good thing. Ana is preparing to go into the Navy, once some issues are resolved which may take a while. John' is still in high school and apparently still a handful, but he's doing better academically and Lee's long time goal of having him graduate from a "good" high school seems within sight.

I'm very proud of Lee and how she's weathered all the storms in her family's life...not just Katrina.


As to my more recent "dream" of how I wished the Rutgers Women's basketball team would handle the controversy surrounding the racist remarks of Don Imus and the collateral hoopla. Apparently that wasn't too far-fetched of an idea after all.

In case you didn't get to read or hear the team's statement made by their coach the day after Imus met with them, it's posted below in its entirety.

"We, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights basketball team, accept Mr. Imus' apology, and we are now in the process of forgiving. We still find his statements unacceptable, and this experience is one that we will never forget.

"These comments are indicative of a greater ill in our culture. It is not just Mr. Imus, and we hope that this will serve as a catalyst for change. Let us continue to work hard together to make this world a better place. As adults we must be leaders in society. We must put children and morality above all else. And we must allow children to be children."

"The healing process must begin. As for the members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, their focus needs to return to their studies. We ask that you respect that. We would also like to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support throughout this very, very difficult time."


I suppose all this stuff could be considered unrelated blog clutter, but as I reflect upon it I'm not so certain.

I think I can look at these seemingly disconnected topics and realize they share a common thread, at least for me.

What I see is that I have to be willing to adapt to change even though it may be uncomfortable, and I remind myself more often to take my focus off the prevailing clutter in order to see the future...and perhaps God's will.

"We can not solve problems by using the same type of logic we used in creating them." - Albert Einstein

Friday, April 13, 2007

Idol Imus Musings

I'm not a "fan" of American Idol for a number of reasons so I don't watch it...usually. This season however I've been somewhat forced to view at least portions of it because a young woman from San Antonio was among the finalists.

I had to keep tabs on that San Antonio contestant and generate news stories about her progress, or her local fans, or any other angle I could dream up...for weeks on end.

That's over now...she was voted off last night and, although I'm saddened for her personally, I'll admit I'm somewhat thankful that I no longer have to write stories about people I don't "idolize"at all and can't really fathom why anyone would.

Which brings me to the great "Don Imus" controversy. I feel compelled to mention it since it has grown into such a huge story and I do work in the radio industry.

I've never been any more of a fan of Don Imus than I have of American Idol. I haven't listened to or watched him very often. His radio show is not carried in this market and I, like the vast majority of Americans, rarely watch MSNBC.

MSNBC's decision to "fire" Imus is interesting. MSNBC's total nationwide audience, if you exclude those tuning in for the Imus simulcast, is less than the number of people in San Antonio who listen to the morning news on WOAI radio. To cut Imus is going to cost MSNBC dearly...a lot of other folks are going to lose their jobs as a result...unmentioned collateral damage. However, at least MSNBC took a stand...for that I suppose the network deserves some credit.

I certainly am not going to defend the remarks made by Imus, nor am I going to get into the debate over how these misogynistic and racial slurs have become so common place in our culture, although I tend to doubt Don Imus originated them.

What I've been wondering is whether anyone can really come out a "winner" in this situation.

I know Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are getting their time in the spotlight. I expected no less. Yet I tend to doubt they'll really do much although I see they're already taking "credit" for getting Imus fired from his radio job. Maybe Al Sharpton will get the syndication deal he wants for his radio show.

Imus however has made a gazillion bucks. He makes Keith Richards look healthy which isn't easy. I wonder if Imus will really be all that upset to be "forced" from the microphone and simply allowed to live out his remaining days, or considering his skeletal pallor, his remaining hours, far from the scrutiny of the "pile on" media and the various other folks intent on using the corpse of his career as a stepping stone for their own agendas.

I see Imus has already met with the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team about whom he made his unseemly remarks. I'm glad, despite his firing(s) he still went through with that meeting.

No statements were issued, however I'm sure Imus offered an apology and asked them to forgive him...he's seemingly on his apology tour and it does seem fitting that he make a sincere, overt gesture to the people he actually denigrated...maybe even before he does the inevitable Barbara Walter's interview.

I must confess that I have this tiny fragment of hope that those young women at Rutgers eventually will issue a statement and say something that would empower them more than any other response. I dream they will seize upon this chance to look beyond their pain and emotions, and in turn force Americans to examine themselves, their country, and their media.

I would love it if those young women would say something that would not only reinforce the reality that Don Imus is irrelevant, but that would awaken our country to a call for self-examination.

Here's how I envision it in my dreams...

Each member of the team would stand before all those cameras and microphones united and then they'd say something akin to this: "We have met with Mr. Imus. He has apologized and asked us to forgive him. We detest what he said about us. We despise such prejudicial misanthropic mind states that give rise to ill informed and ignorant comments such as his, and we are amazed that anyone could think such hateful words could ever be perceived as 'entertainment.'

However we also believe that the best thing we can do for ourselves, our nation, and Mr. Imus is to do exactly what he has asked...forgive him...completely.

Mr. Imus can not hurt us. We are bigger than words. Our dreams are larger than any person's thoughts and we believe we are not alone in such thinking. In fact, we believe most Americans share our values.

Our mutual and unanimous conviction is that the best way to demonstrate the true character of America is to follow an unwavering moral compass, and in doing so perhaps set an example that will give pause to any others who may still harbor ill-will towards other races, or who think stereotypes in any form can ever be tolerated much less capitalized upon.

Many people have jumped on this incident in an attempt to further divide us.

We do believe this is indeed a 'black and white' issue, but we do not believe it has anything to with race.

We are instead certain that at the core of this episode is our collective character and our national conscience.

We believe this nation, America, is far better than what is hyped in the headlines, bellowed by broadcasters, or prophesied by pundits. The Rutgers women standing before you refuse to lower ourselves to the standards of those who think otherwise or seek to profit by propagating such nonsense.

We will rise above the slurs and the slander, and we're calling on our countrymen and women to do the same.

So Mr. Imus be assured we will not forget your words, but we will indeed forgive them...and we will pray that our words resonate far louder and longer."

Yes, that's my fantasy...a dream that the women of Rutgers will be bold and seize upon this opportunity to challenge all of us to a higher code of ethics, to a deeper standard of decency.

If they would do that imagine how far it might go to truly silence the slurs.

Imagine how it would redefine the term "American Idol."

Original 4/12 post updated on 4/13 to reflect new developments

Monday, April 09, 2007

Me & Glue

They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it.
They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.
- Jeremiah 50:5

I take glue.

I have's not a weird fetish or something - although I'm seriously resisting the urge to Google whether that is an actual fetish.

I bathe in glue to hold it all together.

There are some very fragile things, delicate things, which I love and for which I dutifully care.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to shatter them.

One moment they'll be fine, pristine and glowing and then "BAM!" in an instant they're in pieces.

I stocked up on glue long ago.

I know how to put the pieces back together. It's often a slow, tedious process.

It can be a lonely process too.

It's not like we live on a fault line or in a war zone with bombs going off all around us. No, these fragile things are shattered by other stuff, often seemingly innocent stuff...that turns out not to be so innocent and leaves lasting repercussions.

A disrespectful phone call from a child, a condescending email from a friend, the realization of a goal unmet...the list could go on and on were I to dwell on it, so I don't.

Sometimes the damage is done by things less apparent, like the shock of unexpectedly rubbing too close to a suddenly hardened heart, or discovering a long held deception concealed by calloused morals.

Of course there are lots of things that cause shards to fly or maybe pieces to simply shift ever so slightly, yet enough to leave everything a tad bit askew.

I've gotten used to it...I bathe in glue.

What's hard for me is having to piece together the shattered dreams, hopes, and realities of those I love. So often they are blindsided and the damage is done while the source of the havoc has scurried away, blissfully unaware or unconcerned about the wreckage left by retreat.

Of course, they're just people too...and often times I suspect they're barely holding themselves together...and maybe we're only collateral damage...hit by the shrapnel of their personal implosions.

My friend Matt wrote me the other day saying, "Hurt people, hurt people" and I understood.

For the record, when that happens you can't use just any glue.

Elmer's won't cut it...even "Super-Glue" or those special epoxy glues that have to be mixed immediately prior to use are not strong enough to make these type of repairs.

No, there's only one glue that I've found that really works...and even with it, I find I often I have to use great globs over and over again...

Big healthy doses of glue...never worry about leaving any to spare, always focus on the immediate fix.

Thank God that it's really sticky stuff...

Plus there always seems to be plenty more go to around...if you look for it.

"Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue." ~ Eugene O'Neill

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Silly Wabbit

Happy Easter!

Today was good. Our sunrise service was very intimate, and were it not for the warm hearts surrounding us, it might have been very cold. However, we bundled up sufficiently, actually made it to the service on time despite its 7 a.m. start, and enjoyed it immensely.

Afterwards we dallied about for a while dropping some little Easter eggs around the park to hopefully surprise some youngsters...or oldsters as they traverse the various trails.

Last night I sort of did the same thing...albeit in a somewhat twisted way.

Recently I've noticed an abundance of people linked to this blog and wondered why. I've check out their blogs or websites and some of them are in foreign languages, some were very nasty, and one was blatantly anti-Christian.

Then I realized they weren't really linking to me, they were "hot-linking" to images on my blog. For the non-technical amongst you, "hot-linking" is a practice where folks find an image on someone else's site and instead of simply downloading the image and publishing it to their own computer, they put the image on their site by linking to the source site. This means every time someone logs onto their site, it reaches out to that other site, in this case my blog, to retrieve the image.

It is not only considered bad web etiquette, it's also really a poorly thought out approach to posting pictures since you're relying on a bunch of other sites for images on your site to load. It not only substantially slows down your site, it also needlessly uses all those other sites bandwidth.

It's not exactly a high crime or anything, but I did see it being done a lot and...well, I had time on my hands. You know what they say about idle hands...

So, I changed the names of several pictures I found were popular for hot-linking, and replaced them so another image comes up.

I didn't want to be too offensive and believe me when I searched for "bandwidth thief" images I found some folks get really testy about this type of thing. So I decided to take a photo I already had and modify it slightly. Then I changed its name so it would load on those other sites.

This is what they see now:

I hope that's not too mean.

Who said the Easter Bunny can't take part in April Fool's day too?

That's all folks!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I'm Cold...Worse Yet....Old

It's cold and wet and getting colder...

It's April in San Antonio...tomorrow is Easter! It's going to be in the 30's tonight.
I received an invitation to join the AARP yesterday. Actually it was a "special offer." To qualify for the "special offer" I have to join before May 17th.

You have to be 50 years old to join the AARP.

I'm not 50...yet. I won't be 50 in May either. I tossed the "special offer" in the trash.
Our church has a Sunrise service planned outside at a nearby park Easter morning. I've been looking forward to it.

But it's going to be very cold...and probably wet.

I still want to go...although I may be the only one there.

I want to greet the day and the Risen Lord first thing. I want to celebrate new beginnings and a promising future even if I can't actually see the sun rise because of the clouds and rain.

Of course I'll need long underwear, gloves, a hat, wool socks, boots, a huge cup of hot coffee and will need to get up even earlier to work the kinks out of my bones brought on by the chill...

The AARP will send me another invite in June right?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Saving DisGrace

I have a "saved email" folder.

That's probably the most boring opening line of a post I've ever written - please don't take that as a challenge to find something more boring.

Anyway, I put a lot of stuff in that folder, emails telling me my passwords for various things, or business related stuff, some personal emails of encouragement and then there are the emails that I saved because I wanted to take my time in responding to them.

Normally these are emails which are harsh, or hurtful or that just ticked me off for one reason or another. It's not like there are an abundance of them...please don't get the impression I get a lot of hate mail. However, there are a few, mostly from folks I'm very close to, or have been close to in the past and I generally try to stop myself from instantly responding in anger, so I put them in my "saved mail" folder.

This can be a good thing. Quite frankly I usually simply forget about the nasty emails and never respond...that's actually almost always the case. Email is a crappy way to communicate if you have real issues with people. So I either let those type of messages languish unanswered or pick up the phone and try to talk to the people who sent them and try to find a way to resolve whatever issue it was that provoked the email in the first place.

However, there's a downside too. I don't go into that "saved mail" folder very often, and when I do it's usually to look up some password, or registration or to find an email that I stashed away for some other innocuous reason. That's all well and good, but when I do that I invariably have to scroll through some of those old "painful" emails...the ones I wanted to respond to in anger, but didn't after I calmed down...and I realized recently that when I do that I tend to let those old messages get to me again...

It's not a rehash of the emotions I felt when I originally received them, but it's a "twinge," a somewhat painful twinge.

Okay, you're not the only genius on the block...yes, I've realized I should just go through the "saved mail" folder and delete those emails from the past, and that's what I'm doing.

However it got me thinking about whether I have one of those folders somewhere else...not on any computer, but in my heart, or mind...or who knows? Maybe my prostate.

Okay, I'm going off on a tangent here, but I do recall reading a Dave Barry column once describing what organ of the body actually most resembles what we term "heart shaped."

<-------Prostate Heart------->

Yeah, I never could look the same at one of those stickers again either...

Anyway the idea I'm trying to convey is that somewhere within me I believe I still have a little storage's cluttered with all sorts of stuff, including some painful gunk.

And every once in a while, when I'm meandering around my mess of memories...or perhaps my prostate...looking for something completely innocent I stumble across that lump of hurt...or anger...or guilt...or whatever...and I feel a twinge.

So, in addition to hitting "delete" on some of those old musty messages in my saved mail folder, I'm going to work on trying to rid myself of some that old emotional clutter stashed within me too no matter where it's residing.

Obviously it won't be as easy as simply hitting a delete key, but I think it'll be worth it.

If nothing else, it might serve as a reminder to get my prostate checked.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Post Removed

After several email exchanges with a very polite gentleman from who wrote that he discovered my dissatisfaction with their service by reading my blog post from yesterday, it appears this little skirmish is over.

My dispute with has apparently been resolved, they are pledging to refund my money and I have asked my credit card company to remove my charge dispute if that's still possible.

In any case, I have taken down my previous post - keeping it in my "drafts" folder as a precaution- assuming that and I are both in agreement that it's not worth any more of our time bickering over $9.99.

It may not be music to any one's ears...but sometimes being a bit of a squeaky wheel seems to hit the right chord.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Some Facts Omitted

"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

That's sort of a running gag among journalists, I've heard a lot people say it, and more than I care to admit practice it.

As I've explained previously, I don't write much about my career here, because a large part of it involves writing things I have to write so I want to use this little space for what I want to write. Also writing about my job could get me fired, something I try to avoid.

However in general terms one of the duties I'm tasked with at my office is to "coach" people on their writing.

***Note to Amy and Harlan: I do not teach grammar, spelling or punctuation, so stop panicking.***

We have had a lot of folks come through the newsroom, especially in recent years, who never took classes in journalism, some never went to college...and a whole bunch of them have been "home grown" - kids who started at the radio station any way they could and worked their way into the News department. There are also folks who have bad writing habits, or outdated styles - some correctable...some, well I try to remember all the grace bestowed upon me throughout my life.

Okay, I re-write their stuff daily, but that's another story for another day.

Anyway, every so often one of the folks I work with will ask me to critique their writing, something I am eager to's not that often people actually seek my "wisdom"...something I'd prefer not to dwell upon.

The first thing I invariably say is, "The hardest part of writing is knowing what to leave out." I know there's a standardized school of thought about writing news: who, what, when, where, why...but in truth, when people write like that, it gets very boring very fast. So I encourage, especially young reporters who may not really fully understand some subject matters they find themselves covering, to avoid getting caught up in the bureaucratic jargon, and the minutiae of meetings...find the meat and hit it hard...let the rest go.

Please don't jump on some high horse and tell me I'm "dumbing down the news." I'm only trying to get the real news on, in a way people can understand it.

You have to consider the medium. In radio news, story count is king. You quite often have very little time with your audience, so you need to find the facts that they'll relate to the most, understand quickly, and then move on to another story.

I mean think about it....the days of the family gathered around the radio hanging on every word are for the most part gone. These days when you turn on the radio you're probably only half-listening to begin're getting ready for work, telling the kids to settle down in the back seat of the car, screaming at some driver who just cut you off, or trying to remember if you took the drugs your shrink prescribed to help you cope with hearing the news to begin with...

There are some downsides, obviously...if people are only half-listening, they may "hear" something or as is more often the case "think they hear" something which they perceive as wrong, biased, racist, blasphemous, you name it. It's not unusual for me to get angry phone calls from people - it's amazing what they get ticked off about too, but that's another tangent - only to have me find the story they "heard," read the whole thing to them and have them say, " mind" or hang up in apparent embarrassment.

Usually though, leaving out some facts from a story makes it easier for the listener to understand; however it's often far harder for the reporter to write. I mean you do have to pick the right facts...separate the wheat from the chaff...boil down complicated blathering to what it really means to the folks who've given you their attention.

In truth, it's a discipline that has to be honed over time.

On this blog though, I follow different rules...or my rules of the moment...or sometimes no rules at all...except I don't use profanity in what I write - that's just my rule, please feel free to curse all you want. It's not a law or anything.

***Note to any fellow employees who've asked me for writing tips: that no profanity rule does apply to broadcast copy.*** I suddenly had a vision of getting fired over that...

Anyway, in this little virtually unnoticed crevice of virtual reality I usually write whatever I am feeling and quite often it is the emotion of the moment. It's not a news story, it's the stuff that's on my mind, or my heart...or stuff that Amy and I are experiencing, or something I find interesting... Heck, I don't have any real guidelines for what comes out here, that's why I have this I can take it where I want, or more often I let it take me. It's cathartic...

In essence, this is a very long way around to the only point I can glean from this diatribe which is: I don't take you guys along everywhere my mind or my life wanders. It's not like you'd want a seat on the Michael Main Brain Express anyway, trust me, sometimes I'd like to stop the bus. Plus, I don't exactly lead an adventurous life that would keep you on the edge of your seat...although several years ago I did run across a blogger who wrote about how she and her friend wouldn't "miss a day" of Amy and me. I'm not talking in a healthy, friendly, way...I'm talking about a somewhat obsessed, daily soap opera and sort of creepy way. Not sure what happened to those lone cult members, presumably I bored them off. Sigh, another rabbit trail...sorry.

Anyway, I alluded to this before but I suppose it bears repeating.

Even here, I still leave a lot of stuff out. Trust me, there are no secrets between me and Amy, and I write as honestly as I can here...but...sometimes I deliberately leave out some important facts.

There are any number of reasons for that - besides the slight fear that those lady bloggers who were sort of living vicariously through our lives might renew their interest. Most often the reason I leave out facts is that to do otherwise would hurt people or invade their privacy. I might add, I've had to hone that discipline too.

Why am I telling you this today? That's the funny part...well, at least to me.

I can't tell you why.

It might hurt people.

However if I ever write something that you think is about you, your faith, your job, or whatever, and you feel convicted, angry, or think I'm slamming you specifically...please know that probably wasn't my intent...I'm sorry you took it that way.

Also know this: you may not have all the facts, despite what you may think.

I once gave a testimony talking about my spiritual growth and mentioned a verse from John where Jesus told his disciples, "There's so much more I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now."

Believe me, no one is ever going to confuse me with Jesus...but every once in a while I try to remember His words. The end result sometimes is that I might not tell you all the facts...

And the fact is, I may be doing that because I'm following someone else's advice on how to write the story.

"...for true wisdom has two sides." - Job:11:6