Thursday, September 27, 2007

Engaging God's Perspective

My life has been out of balance lately.

Actually I had started writing some quasi-introspective thoughts about having too many things on my mental plate between my career job, Amy's health, our future plans, and the possibility of adding a couple more people (and maybe a kitten and puppy) to our "Upper Room" ministry.

As I was writing I started thinking (yes, those two things do not always occur simultaneously) that maybe I needed a little time "in the desert." Not really the desert, but away from everything and everyone. Just me and the Lord...hombre al Dios.

I had picked up the phone to see if I might be able to make a last minute reservation at a little retreat house for tomorrow night and Saturday to get away from everything and spend a day or two in prayer and fasting. Before I could leave a message, Amy asked if I could hang up so she could tie me in on a three-way call.

It seemed sort of ironic to me...I'm too busy to plan for prayer.

However it was an important call from Joey, our son. Not that I got a word in, but I was able to at least glean that he was telling us he had proposed to his longtime girlfriend Sarah and for reasons still somewhat of a mystery to me she said,"Yes."

Amy is still talking...I think she's already given them several complete plans for the wedding...and is now picking out names for grandchildren. I'm sure Joey and Sarah's eyes are glazing over and that magical marital ESP thing is already starting...I'll wager both are thinking the same thing by now, "ELOPE!"

I'm being facetious....or maybe semi-facetious. Truthfully, if Amy, Sarah, and Joey were all to be put in a police-like line up at this exact moment and a stranger on the other side of the glass was asked to pick out the person who was the most ecstatic, my money would be on Amy. She's over the moon and may be in orbit long after her cell phone battery goes dead.

Still, it was perfect timing.

I don't have too much on my plate, the things on my plate are simply out of proper perspective...or at least they were...until Amy's phone rang.

I don't think I need to get away to spend more time with God.

I only need to listen more closely...I mean apparently He has us on speed dial.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's Time To Kill The Blog

Gosh, I hate using teaser titles like that...although it's true...in a way.

Last May, I decided it was sort of silly to have MichaelMain.com which was for the most part stagnant, and have my blog at michaelmain.com/blog.htm. So I moved the blog to the main page - pardon the pun.

I also redirected the old site to this one so folks could make the transition. I just assumed they eventually would.

That move alone cut the blog's readership by about 50 percent...at least I'm hoping it was that and not my extended period of whining.

Let's not debate that point okay, I'm in kind of a pissy mood already :)

I'm really not concerned about web hits, I'm not a stat freak. As selfish as it sounds, I've always said I write this for me...not you...although I'm glad those of you who aren't staring at blinking words come along for the ride. I don't know what I'd do without the support and fellowship of the blog community.

I am a little stunned you read some of this stuff...but there's no accounting for taste.

I also sort of assumed that people...even really procrastinating people...would eventually get annoyed by being redirected and would make that "transition." You know, change their bookmarks, blogrolls, etc...

Um...to put this delicately, some a lot of you are really lazy. When I started this little rant I thought I'd just call out one or two folks by name **fake sneeze Gordon** however after running down "my blogroll" and checking the links of folks who link to me...there actually are more people who still have the old address listed on their sites than have the new one.

It has been more than four months...I'm just sayin'.

So anyway, today I stopped the redirection which means presumably a lot of you won't read this anyway, instead you get to stare at a really annoying page that blinks.

I'm going to give that a week or two...and then I'm going to delete it entirely. Yes, sometime in October the "old blog" dies.

This is really not entirely because people are still linked to it, but also because of an archive issue which is rooted in the way I originally set up the blog. For some reason Blogger won't direct permalinks to some of my really old posts to go anywhere except to those really old posts, which don't have the proper extension - yeah I know this is geeky stuff...and I don't really think a lot of folks go back into the archives anyway. But I do...and it's annoying. Just FYI if you do go to a permalink and it comes up looking like a bunch of code all you have to do is type .htm at the end of the address that comes up in your browser's address bar and it will work.

I've tried lots of things to fix the permalink deal...wasted enormous amounts of time.

I've deleted all the archives, republished them with proper extensions. I've deleted the entire blog (you weren't looking...maybe you were staring at the blinky thing) and then republished only the files I wanted...no luck. I'm fairly certain I'll have to go through each post and manually edit them. I've found a way to do that fairly quickly, but it's still a pain.

And there's always the possibility the "old blog" is re-archiving that stuff....so, that gives me another reason to want it dead.

I'll likely still be frustrated...but at least I'll have killed something which I'm thinking may give me some type of primitive satisfaction.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The DNA Of Doubt

I have this memory from when I was a child. Considering the things I did to my mind during later years that in itself is something of a miracle.

I was at Jones beach in New York with my best buddy at the time, Todd Thomas, and his family. We were probably 10 years old or so, although that's a guess. Todd and I were walking along a fairly isolated area of the beach...which makes me think it had to have been in the fall or winter, because Jones beach was always crowded.

We were doing the typical stuff kids do when they can't swim because the water is too cold, we were throwing things in the water, looking for junk and dead things on the beach and at one point we started writing stuff in the sand.

I vividly remember writing out in BIG letters, presumably so the message could be seen by its intended recipient, "IF GOD IS ALIVE LET HIM SPEAK!"

I'm pretty sure Todd punched me in the arm and said something like, "Why the heck did you write that?"

Honestly, I don't know. I wasn't religious as a kid. I have this vague memory that there was some type of TV commercial or Public Service Announcement or something that was airing around that time which essentially said the same thing, even spelling it out in the sands of a beach. I don't remember the intent of the commercial - presumably it wasn't sponsored by an atheist group - and I've tried searching the Internet to see if I could find a reference to it without any luck. I tend to doubt though that my ten-year old brain was suddenly struck by this notion to write a message to God all on its own so I'm fairly certain I plagiarized the entire scenario from somewhere and since I was parked in front of the TV most days that seems the logical place.

Where I stole the idea from really doesn't matter - I'm not giving open permission to plagiarize, I'm just saying it doesn't matter when it comes to the point I'm eventually hoping to make...although I'm beginning to have doubts about that prospect.

I remembered that boyhood incident recently while mulling over this concept of "doubt" when it comes to matters of "faith."

I know lots of people who have doubted the existence or who still do doubt the existence of God. I meet lots of non-believers, however I meet very few true committed atheists. I meet a lot of people who say they are "spiritual" or "believe in a Higher Power," but I've only met one or two fervent atheists...in my entire life.

Lots of folks don't believe in "church." Some folks don't believe the Bible is the "literal word of God." Plus I've certainly met, and shared my home with, people who practice faiths other than mine. Personally, all this is above my pay grade. I willingly invite anyone I can to come to church or to conversation and when I see an opportunity to tell "my story" about becoming a Christian I do. The rest, I leave up to God.

This concept of doubt however has been rushing through my mind a lot recently due to the newly published book about Mother Teresa, which is being hawked by highlighting "shocking revelations" that Mother Teresa at times had "doubts" about God's existence. It's a good way to sell a book about Mother Teresa, it's not like people are snatching those up at every opportunity anyway. The author and the publicity folks found a "hook" and latched onto it. I applaud them for not stooping to "nude pictures" of the woman.

Okay, I'll give you a moment to get that image out of your mind.

In any case, their approach worked I suppose, in that it sold more books.

It's also prompted a handful of letters to the editor in newspapers I read from self-professed atheists essentially saying, "Nah, nah I told you so! If Mother Teresa doubted God it PROVES God is a creation of man...blah blah blah.."

I know a lot of Christians...committed Christians...faithful, devoted, church-going Christians. I know a number of very devout folks of the Jewish faith as well. I know very few who never in their "spiritual lives" experienced nights or even seasons of darkness, times of doubt, fears that all they have put their faith in is fantasy.




So what?

That doesn't diminish their faith or God's existence at all to me. Why? Because of one word: human.

That's an important word - especially if you're going to try to continue following my logic...hey, no one dragged you into my head, I at least have the excuse of having no choice.

How about we all take a moment and say that word,"Human" out loud?

Think of it as a way of honoring Marcel Marceau - it does seem kind of silly to honor a mime with a moment of silence after all.

Alright...all together now! "HUMAN."


"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"

Those are the final words of Jesus Christ said out loud which we translate: "My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?

Stick with me...I really do have a point to this besides somehow squeezing in a reference to Marcel Marceau.

Did Jesus doubt God?

I've actually used that passage of scripture to defend Christian friends who have openly expressed uncertainty about God, their faith, and in some instances, the entirety of their lives.

When the Mother Teresa stuff started flying I suppose I had a sort of "come to Jesus" party in my head (yeah, sometimes it can get crowded in there) about using that example.

My conclusion? It stinks.

At least it stinks without further explanation.

I'm not saying people of faith are somehow diminished in their beliefs because of occasional or even lingering feelings of doubt. I'm saying using Jesus to justify their doubt, at least without driving home a very specific and critical point is poor judgment on my part.

I hope I can state this in a way that makes sense other than inside my crowded head, forgive me if I fail, but I'm going to try.

Travel back with me if you will to that time when Christ was beaten, berated, spat upon and then nailed and hoisted upon a cross. There He was left...to be mocked and scorned...left to die.

And in His final moments He said aloud," My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

That sure sounds like doubt.

In fact I believe it was doubt.

It's what Jesus was doubting that needs further explanation...at least I need to explain it further and this is my dang blog so I can do what I want. I mean all you have to do is hit a mouse button and my ramblings can be replaced with the latest news on Britney Spears.

Sorry, I'm not providing a link, that would make it too easy.

I do not believe Jesus was doubting God...doubting God's existence, doubting God's faithfulness, or doubting He was the very Son of God.


"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"

What are these words then?

These are words that need to be kept in context...like any other words.

We have to remember that Jesus Christ was dying...for our sin. Note that's not "sins" that's "sin." Christ was dying to erase the core of that which separates us from God...the soupy glop which spawns ALL sins. The molecular, atomic particles - however you want to think of it - the root, the very seed of sin.

Was He doubting God? Was He doubting His ability to overcome death?

I don't think so.

At least not if I remember something important.

It's the word we all said aloud a moment ago - you participated right? I mean you may hate mimes but it's not Marcel Marceau's fault there were so many copy-cats, who knew?

So I do believe Jesus was expressing doubt in that moment, it's what He was expressing uncertainty about that I feel compelled to clarify.

That's why that word I wanted to stress is so important.

Remember Christ came to live among us not as a God, but as a person...a baby, then a boy, then a man, and a prophet. He lived the life of a regular person, albeit a sinless life.

So what doubt is Christ expressing?

I believe He was doubting He could die for our SIN...as a HUMAN.

Can you blame Him?

In that context these words make so much more sense to me...

"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"



Also all this bunk about Mother Teresa's faith is put in a proper perspective.

Perhaps none of this makes any sense to you...maybe my logic doesn't add up. If so, sorry for wasting your time.

Maybe I didn't express it clearly.

Forgive me.

I am after all only human, thank God.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track
. - Proverbs 3:5-7 (MSG)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Spiritual Steps, Spit and No Nose Wayne

I've been mulling over this concept of "doubt" recently and have something formulating I want to write however I'm going to hold off a day or so primarily because I think that needs to stand alone and not intermingled with assorted other stuff like the story of "No Nose Wayne."

Hold your horses, I'll get to "No Nose" in a moment and in truth you really shouldn't be in a rush because odds are you're going to wish you never heard the story. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I've got some other blog flotsam I wanted to clear out of my mental inbox too.

A co-worker pointed me to an interesting blog undertaking the other day called "LiveGentle." A writer named Matthew J. Dowd, the author of a book I found very interesting called "Applebee's America" is off on a spiritual trek...literally. Over a several week period he is traveling through Israel, India, Nepal, Turkey and elsewhere to, in his words, "walk in the paths of the major spiritual movements." He's blogging along the way. At this writing I don't think he's achieved enlightenment but he's only just begun.

I think it'll be interesting to follow him along his way.

There's some other spiritual fodder which I've neglected to mention lately like the "Healing tree" in Rio Grande City, Texas.


PHOTO CREDIT: Delcia Lopez

In short, a 92 year old woman died recently in that deep South Texas town and shortly thereafter some "ice like" stuff formed in the branches of an acacia tree in her yard. It drips what appears to be water and some folks think it's a sign from God.

I'm not one to argue. God has been less subtle in my life, but there's no telling how many more gentle things He attempted before giving me a swift kick. I would note that tree and bug "experts" scoff at the whole thing saying it's probably a "spittlebug" nest.

Yes, I had to find out about spittlebugs, although I had a pretty good idea how they got that name.

Apparently there are more than 20,000 types of spittlebugs, and most are real tiny.


PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Mayer

And yes, they get their name because of the glop they excrete to make their nests which...well, it looks like spit.

PHOTO CREDIT: Hilton Pond

If spittlebug spirituality leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you do have some other options which made the news lately, most notably the "Mother Mary Lemon."



PHOTO CREDIT: Ian McVea - Fort Worth Star Telegram

Yeah, I don't really see it either, but apparently a pool hall owner and his son in the North Texas town of Watauga were slicing lemons and his son saw that red spot and thought it looked like the Virgin Mary. Again, who am I to judge? It wouldn't be the first time God's message was delivered with a twist.

The Fort Worth newspaper's article on the lemon does have a precious quote from the pool hall proprietor, a Methodist married to a Baptist, who was asked what he might do with this possible fruit of the spirit, "Some people sell that stuff on eBay," he said. "It's a lemon slice, for God's sake."

Last I heard he stuck it in his freezer which I suppose might prove to be a good move should it actually be a message from God and he opted to ignore it. A frozen lemon slice might provide some momentary relief should God decide to seek retribution...and if Hell has its own form of eBay then I would think a frozen lemon slice of any form could really fetch a bundle.

Oh my, this is rambling on and I promised myself that I would take Amy out tonight so I better wrap this up.

Oops.

Yeah, I don't want to leave you hanging in regards to "No Nose" Wayne, although remember I warned you it might not be pleasant.

First off, if you aren't familiar with my "Wayne Axiom" - note this used to be the "Wayne Theory" but I was convinced by my eldest child that axiom was a more appropriate term - you'll have to use the search function on the sidebar, but in a nutshell, I believe "most" people named Wayne are predestined to become criminals...usually serial killers. Again, I said "most" - there is an exception to every rule and or axiom - and if you want to know more use the search tool, I've got a "date."

So, in Lake Elsinore, California this week several men were arrested on charges that last month they kidnapped and beat up a woman before dumping her in Mexico. It's a story that is worthy of a very bad b-movie. The gist of it is that this woman's boyfriend, Donald Darcy Turk - really, I couldn't make this up if I tried - apparently got sick of dealing with her so he and his buddies came up with this plan to ditch her in Mexico. The scheme apparently wasn't fleshed out real well, but all the guys agreed at least on one point, the woman was a nag.

There's some dispute if she was actually kidnapped or if they all simply went to Mexico and got drunk and then the guys decided they'd leave her there. She says she was abducted and dumped, then convinced the police to drive her to the U.S. border and convinced a cab driver to take her home where she confronted Turk. He then left for a birthday party but not before writing a check to the cabbie.

One of the three guys has already confessed, but Turk and his other "buddy" are fighting the charges. Yes, the other buddy is "No Nose Wayne."

Actually his nickname is "No Nose." His real name is Robert "Wayne" Gardner.

How'd he get the nickname?

You really shouldn't have asked that...apparently R. Wayne Gardner had a run-in with someone else some time back who took great offense...and shot him.

And, um...after that the nickname was sort of inevitable.


PHOTO CREDIT: No one wanted to claim it

Hey, I warned you!

It's not like I didn't give you plenty of opportunities to avoid seeing him!

Heck, you could have taken off on a spiritual trek long ago. Instead you waded through spit and lemons to get here.

It's okay, we're all a bit nosy at times...sticking our noses where they don't belong...next time we'll nose better.

I'll stop now...I promise.

Have I ever given you a reason to doubt me?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Puppets In The Shadows

We have a number of dear friends in "crisis" at the moment. I've found myself the past few days trying to find ways to help them, and vowing to be more faithful to my vow to be a better steward of friendships.


I've also spent a lot of time counting my blessings.

I should be asleep, but a new friend just sent me this video...it's too wonderful not to pass along...and it was a perfect way to end a long day considering all those things.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Flexing Muscles



Yeah, that freaked me out too.

We got home from a nice morning at church - excellent sermon on parenting...actually it had more to do with how where we place our values will influence where our children place their values.

So it gave cause for reflection and - admittedly - for a lot of "if only" thinking.

It was also nice because a former member of our former church joined us with her young son whom I hadn't seen in a while (I had seen her but not her son) and he's thriving in an obvious atmosphere of love. His story, and that of his parents, is one of great faith and great patience in God. It was nice to be reminded of it today seeing him so happy, and so loved.

Anyway, upon arriving home following a semi-brief post-church "brunch" with our friend and her son and a 30-minute, "We just need one or two things from WalMart" stop, I found an email waiting from our old friend, Kim. She wanted to turn me on to a blog called "Letter's from Kamp Krusty" which I really enjoyed (it's a little edgy in spots be forewarned). I've added it to my Blogroll. Plus, it's always nice to get a note from Kim and see pictures of how big her kids are...her little kids...she has big kids who have their own little kids, but that's another story for another time.

Kim, Amy and I share a love of dogs, so Kim knew that picture would get my attention...heck it would get anyone's attention. That's a "whippet" by the way. Some of you older folks may remember "Ashley Whippet" the world's first really renowned "Frisbee catching" dog who mesmerized people at football games and various other events. Whippets are normally fairly small, sleek, very fast dogs. That dog in the photo has a genetic disorder that essentially makes it have double muscles.

I saw that picture and had to pass it along even though it's from an article a month or so old.

It also reminded me of the time - years ago before I began blogging - I wrote about Kim's family moving from San Antonio - at that time they were going to Oklahoma, now they're actually in Illinois or some other bizarre state that has "seasons" and weird things like that.

What was odd is that what I wrote back then was really about a little family (not any of Kim's) who had recently had a baby and discovered their little boy was born with severe muscular problems. He essentially had no muscles in his upper body. Now here's this dog with too many muscles - double the muscles it needs.

I don't know what happened to that little boy from years ago. I don't why there is a whippet running around who would prompt yet another steroid scandal were it not for the fact that he's thankfully running around in another country and not playing any professional sport (at least I'm assuming he's not).

I do know why a little boy who joined me at church today is happy and healthy...and today, quite honestly, that's all I need to know.

Thank you, Father.


The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. - Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sorry About That

I was demonstrating today how easy it "should" be to post a YouTube video on a website, and how difficult it was to do it on a website which is operated by some folks with whom I spend a lot of time...yeah, I'm being quasi- cryptic...so I posted the video here.

Um... I like the My Name Is Earl TV show, but I really hadn't watched that video. It's funny, and if you watch the show you'll get the gags but when I got home...um...from where I spend a lot of time...I watched enough of the video to realize I didn't think it was exactly appropriate for this site.

So if you saw it and were offended, sorry. If you saw it and wanted to see it again, sorry...go to YouTube or NBC.com.

Besides, it's a commercial. If I'm going to run commercials I want to get paid for it :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Too Many Masters Of None

I'm trying to suppress my cynicism today. That's not an easy task on my best days, and today ain't one.

I've spent decades doing what I do "for a living" and far too often I'm called into meetings with people who have edicts from on high for me to implement, but whenever I suggest that a message be passed back from the grunts on the ground to those "on high" I am met with half-witted platitudes, " We have to work with the tools we have.....We know it's not perfect but it's better than nothing... I understand your concerns and feel your frustration... I like to think of the glass as being 'half-full', blah, de blah da blah."

It's been far too long since I've dealt with one of these folks who actually cares about anything but their jobs.

Sorry, today is one of those days.

I've lost faith. Not in God, in common sense, in there being people at least slightly concerned with integrity, in thinking that sooner or later I will meet someone from "on high" who has the...character...to stop covering their behind and start challenging short range thinking...maybe even be able to consider doing what's right over what's most expediently profitable.

This type of ranting is so much easier now that I've imposed the label of "whiner" on myself. Honestly though, I am weary.

There are decisions to be made - some may be made for me for all I know - which are going to impact every aspect of our lives.

So I'm going to do what I should do, let the toadies take their shots and rest in the knowledge that I have only one "Master" and it is in Him where I will put my faith. It is to Him I will listen always.


I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD. - Psalm 31:6

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pain. Full Memories

(Re-posted, with some clarification, from 9/11/2003)
====================================================
I remember how it felt.

I was out of control. I was careening, and falling, and trying desperately to hang on as I rushed headlong toward disaster. Then there was blood and screams. There was pain and fear.

I was 11 years old.

I had taken a friend's minibike for a spin without being brave enough to admit I didn't know what I was doing. It was the first time I had ever driven anything motorized. I panicked. I goosed the gas thinking I was reaching for the brakes and I crashed. I tore a hole in my knee. It seemed so horrible, this gaping gash. I was marred forever. There was no concealing that.

My mother was called; she came quickly and rushed me to the hospital. I quivered in dread of the prodding doctors, needles, and stitches. I bellowed in agony as I imagined that the medical mending would be followed by my mother's even more pointed retribution.

My fears outweighed reality.

Today there is a barely discernible scar on my knee.

I healed.

=====
I remember how it felt.

I was on the air when I noticed a commotion behind me and turned to see the TV screen fill with announcements of a plane hitting one of the Towers. I tremulously ad-libbed into the newscast, "It appears an aircraft has hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. It happened moments ago. I'll have more details for you shortly." Then we went to commercial.

I remember how chaotic it was that day. Information and misinformation was coming in so quickly. I tried to digest and deflect it. I had to physically run into radio station studios to do live unscheduled updates instead of sitting in the comfortable safety of my booth down the hall waiting for my cue.

There was panic and pain.

I remember shaking and trying to keep my composure while recapping the events. Events which only moments earlier seemed unthinkable. I had to divert my eyes as I spoke because one of my co-workers sat directly in front of me staring incredulously...and crying unashamedly.

I remember thinking how our world had changed, how life would never be the same. How our children's lives would be so dramatically different from this point forward.

I remember leaving my office and going directly to my church where I bent down upon the same knee which so long ago was the focal point of all my fears. My knee was strong and stable that day, and I balanced upon it to pray.

=====

I remember this morning my alarm clocks went off and I thought how much I detest that sound.
I remember driving unimpeded to work, and doing my job, from my comfortable seat, in my familiar booth.

And now I'm home, in the same house I came home to two years ago as my mind raced and careened out of control with fears...and fears of fears to come.
=====

I remember that terrorists are part of our new reality.
I remember that in two years we've been in two wars.
I remember our brave members of the military remain in harm's way.

There are deep and painful scars and there will likely be more anguish and more scars ahead.

But we will carry them together.

And they will heal.

I must remember to remember that too.

PSALM 105:8
He remembers his covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations

Monday, September 10, 2007

Opposed To Supposed

I budgeted time this afternoon to write out at least a general outline for our small group Bible study later this week. That's what I'm "supposed" to be working on now.

It's advance planning on my part because tomorrow we're "supposed" to have our photo taken for the church directory - assuming Amy is satisfied that her make-up magic will hide her amazing "shiner" which changes colors, and locations almost hourly.

Someone I think asked Thao (our current upper room ministry house-guest) at a church gathering we sort of forced her to go to Sunday - I had to get there early and Amy wasn't on my schedule so she woke up Thao and begged for a ride with the offer of "there's food!" - if I ever "hit" Amy...lovely.

Blessedly Thao has come to know us well enough to laugh at that suggestion...I think.

I swear I'm going to get an affidavit made up and have Amy take it to like 40 people she's fallen down in front of - if I can narrow down that list to 40 - and have them sign it attesting to the fact my poor wife bruises easily, falls down too often, and I don't hit her.


In truth, I don't think I've actually hit anybody since sixth grade when I bravely challenged a kid named Jimmy Mercante to a "fight" after school. He was the smallest kid in our class. I don't remember what prompted our "dispute" but I do remember thinking, "How tough could this be? Jimmy is like 3 feet tall?"


Plus, I'd been beaten on by the best...I'm the youngest of three brothers.



I towered over Jimmy.

I learned a quick lesson that day...size doesn't matter.

Oh, settle down. I mean as an indicator of your boxing abilities.

I learned this fact later but I'm telling you ahead of time, Jimmy's dad was named Arthur Mercante. If you were a boxing fan in premiere days of boxing...before Don King and pay-per-view. When a guy named Muhammed Ali, or really even when he was known as Cassius Clay was amazing the nation and the world, the name Arthur Mercante may still ring a bell.

It rung my bell I'll tell you that.

At that time, Arthur Mercante was perhaps the most respected boxing referee in the nation. Today he's a legend.


Oh yeah...you know how this fight ended, all you need to know is how long it lasted.

My one and only fist fight lasted about 6 seconds, and I think Jimmy landed about 40 punches during that time. He'd been around boxing rings since he was born.

Come to think of it, I don't recall ever actually hitting him.

Honestly, I may never have hit anyone in my life.

Jimmy and I became friends within minutes...once my bleeding stopped.

It was a good lesson. I learned new defense mechanisms real fast...like making jokes...and how to run.

I never challenged anyone to fight again.

So anyway, I am "supposed" to be planning a Bible study right about now, but I stopped.

Amy was out most of the afternoon and came home a little while ago. I think I'd rather sit on the porch with her and spend a little time making sure she knows I love her. I know she knows that but I don't think she always realizes that when I see her in pain...or even with a bruise...I feel the pain too...perhaps more than she does.

I don't "suppose" she'll complain if I put off the Bible study prep for a while.

Besides, if I have to, I've already got a story I can pull out at the last minute for the Bible study.

It's about when I was in sixth grade.

It's only about six seconds long, but I think I can flesh it out.

After all, I'm supposed to be leading our group in a study of David.

I think I'll start out the study like this...

Once upon a time, I thought I was Goliath...

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Curse & The Calling

I'm starting to believe I've discovered God's purpose for me in this life...to whine.

I mean I have used this space to whine about all sorts of bad customer service, bandwidth theft, and other stuff over the years.

The few of you who still read these ramblings (you'll have to figure out why God is punishing you in such a manner) saw a post the other day in which I railed on a "splog" called Objectsblog.com on which someone set up a "blog" which stole a post from me, without giving me credit...yeah, they must not be real picky.

Anyway, I tracked down the registrant for that site, not that specific blog, but the site Objectsblog.com and ranted on and on about the guy, Matthew Hockenberry, calling him names, being about as nasty as I can be without NBA referees being involved.

I should also mention that I didn't find that stolen blog post. My friend, Gordon, sent me a note saying he had found it.

Okay, so today I received an extremely apologetic email from Matthew explaining the site was only being hosted by him for a friend for a future project using the software WordPress MU. He was really upset, not with me calling him names, not with me at all. He was mortified the site was being used by sploggers and spammers and that I had been "ripped off." He removed the offending blog and eventually shut down the entire site.

He also was actually thankful that I was a whiner.

This is a portion of one our email exchanges...

"This is really frustrating. Wordpress MU seems like a really great piece of technology to get a community of people blogging together, but there doesn't seem to be a good way of controlling the spammers. I would have thought they would use the same anti spam service that comes with the regular version of Wordpress - but apparently not.

We really owe you for complaining about this, if you hadn't we wouldn't have known how bad the problem is and might even have used this technology someplace else."


So, I didn't feel bad about being a whiner, and I of course removed the post berating Matthew.

However then I also realized something else.

My friend Gordon who, as I mentioned, alerted me to the original post also told me he was working with an organization/company in San Antonio on a project potentially using Wordpress MU, so these problems of abuse were enlightening to him as well and may change his approach too.

Now, I'm making an assumption here...and Gordon if I'm wrong, just don't tell me because if so this whole diatribe won't work...but I suspect Gordon is working with the folks who run a faith based organization based in San Antonio.

The name of the organization...The High Calling.

Okay, so maybe my "calling" isn't so "high"....but who am I to argue?





" It's not much of a tail but I'm kind of attached to it" - Eeyore

Matthew Hockenberry Is a Nice Guy After All

I removed my previous rant about an alleged blogging site and the guy listed as its registrant after receiving a couple of very nice emails from that registrant, Matthew Hockenberry.

He was quite distressed, very apologetic...and that site no longer exists.

I'll elaborate more when I have time, but it's nice to see people taking responsibility, taking action and making no excuses.

Thanks Matt!