Friday, October 31, 2008

The Message Bible by Eugene H. Peterson

I started reading through the entire Bible again a few weeks ago.

The version I chose to read was The Message: The Bible In Contemporary Language by Eugen H. Peterson.

Peterson retired in 1991 from pastoring for 29 years. But then he served at Regent College, Vancouver, BC for the next 15. The Message was published in 2002.

This is the first time I've read large sections of Scripture in The Message. Before I had used it for reference. But this time I'm just reading it.

It truly is a thrilling and enjoyable experience. Peterson effort in authoring this paraphrase of the Bible is nothing short of magnificent in my opinion.

I think the work is a wonderful resource to use in researching and trying to understand various passages but it is in the continuous reading that I think it truly shines.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Me On A Horse

I think I must be about 1 or 2 in this photo.

It was found during the process of cleaning out the house.

So, apparently, I was an early horseman after all.

Also, found Dad's old saddle which will come to live in the new house.

The old house is a very sad place right now. The men are in there tearing stuff up and making piles of things.

We've found uses for a number of things like some of the kitchen appliances and the furnaces and the air conditioner units. I've decided to keep and store most of the tables and wood furniture pieces. We're renting a large storage building not too far away.

Later, once I build a warehouse and office for us over here on the farm somewhere, I will move the stuff back.

So there is a large stack of stuff to throw away and a large stack of stuff we will keep for some unknown reason and a large stack of stuff that we will donate.

All in all, it is as melancholy a process as I've ever experienced. Almost like another death.

My brother is over there going through things as well. Every single item has some kind of memory and story and recalled experience for the two of us. If my son and daughter are there then some things have four different stories. Some things are mysterious and some things are easily remembered and everything is precious in its own way.

Dad had a collection of obituaries that he cut from the paper. I did not know that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Week Before Election Day 2008

Just one week and we likely will know who will serve us as President of the United States for the next four years.

The polls have Senator Obama ahead by several points according to what I read. The news media reports seem overwhelmingly to favor an Obama win from what I hear anyway. Nearly all pundits seem to think it will be an Obama victory.

There does appear to be a substantial undecided vote and there is that pesky margin of error reported by the polls.

It does seem to me that Democratic candidates in general should have the advantage this year given the war in Iraq and the present economic issues facing the world.

On top of that many traditionally conservative voters are not terribly happy with Senator McCain as their default candidate.

So given those facts I am surprised that Democratic candidates in general and Mr. Obama in particular are not farther ahead than it appears they are.

My guess, and it is only that and I claim no more, is that it will be a close election. I suspect it may be closer than the polls are indicating.

This will be the 16th Presidential election held during my lifetime and the 14th I actually remember something about. I find that rather amazing in itself.

I've made up my mind. I'll vote, Lord permitting, for Senator McCain.

I believe he is qualified and has actually mounted a rather remarkable political campaign. I believe his well documented behavior during the Vietnam war testifies both to his character and his patriotism. I believe his record of service in government is impressive and mostly in line with my view of political philosophy.

I am particularly impressed with Senator's McCain record of bipartisanship.

I am not concerned about his age.

Senator Obama is also qualified and has run an impressive campaign. His philosophy of government is at odds with mine in nearly every particular. I find him terribly partisan although politically astute in presentation.

I am not in the" absolutely no abortion under any circumstance" camp; but, I am not in Senator Obama's camp on this issue either. I find abortion to be absolutely appalling and especially heinous is the homicide technique known as partial birth abortion. The name itself should be chilling. Does anyone really doubt what partial birth means? Have people not seen the images? What is killed is not a dog or a cat and if it were there would be far more outcry than there is for a helpless human child.

I do not believe in the redistribution of wealth by taxation. It is just another name for stealing. The idea of just taxing the rich is a subterfuge because the definition of rich is rather easily changed. Rich after all is entirely a relative term. I am amazed at the number of people who think they should have part or all of what someone else already has just because the someone else has more. That's not a slippery slope. That's a cliff.

I do not believe in appeasement of our enemies. I do believe we have enemies and I do believe they will attempt to destroy us and our way of life. I do not understand the Democratic penchant for pleasing people who despise us and have said so.

I do not believe in a flexible constitution and I do not support judges who make it mean anything they want depending upon the culture at the moment.

I am not a "citizen of the world" advocate and I do not trust the "new order" thinking.

I do not trust government in general while I am very mindful that the human heart has unlimited capacity for violence and greed.

Regardless who wins it seems unlikely to me that the country will become more united. Rather I suspect we will continue to become more divided.

I think I am about as prepared as possible to vote. I know our state questions and have decided how I will vote on each one. I've studied nearly all of the other races for which I will have an opportunity to vote and I've decided my preferences. There are a couple of judges that are on the ballot and I think they are most difficult to research.

I have my new voter registration card and I know where my polling place is located. I have my driver's license and it has my photo and my address. So I can prove I am me.

Strangely enough I cannot prove I am not someone else, however.

What if my candidate loses? Well, I have had that happen before more than once. I was disappointed but, looking back, the results are not nearly as bad now as I had thought they would be at the time.

What if my candidate wins? I have had that happen as well. I will be happier. I can't say about the results over time.

In the meantime I am carrying on. One thing I am doing is getting Dad's house cleared out room by room so I can have the guys start taking it apart. We did find out that we can call Habitat for Humanity about using some of the parts of the house. Another thing I'm doing is still working on our Target development. It is far less certain now than it was a few weeks ago. Then there is my new house that needs finishing. And the horse and an ill mother-in-law and a few other things.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ghouls Gone Wild 2008 Parade

We had a parade in Oklahoma City on Saturday evening the 25th.

It is called Ghouls Gone Wild. There is a web site fittingly called This is apparently the 2nd year for the parade which is sponsored by a local newspaper.

I found this image on a forum called OKCTALK. If you follow the link you can see more images and read what people said about the parade. This image was posted (and taken) by a forum member known as so1rfan who has a place on deviant art. I think his images are just remarkable so if you get a chance take a look at his gallery.

We were attending a party right along the parade route but we didn't see any of the festivities. I was told that someone wearing a costume had been at our party but I never saw him or her or it.

Just thought it was interesting and decided to blog about it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How We Spent Our Anniversary

Or the interesting life of someone who is now helping with some horses.

Well our sick horse stepped on something and jammed whatever it was up inside the soft part of his foot. Which foot you ask? Why, the very same foot that was previously hurt but had pretty much healed.

So the veterinarian came out and examined the foot and wrapped it up in some bandages after applying some pine tar stuff to the injured place. I took a photo of the wrapped foot but really it doesn't show much.

He also prescribed a neoprene pad held on by a horse shoe. So that required another visit from the farrier and that happened yesterday. And yesterday was also our anniversary and it was also one of the most beautiful days I've enjoyed.

Now the foot is already sore. Horse shoes are applied to the foot with nails driven up through the hoof from the underside. The horse is about 1200 or maybe 1300 pounds. He was not happy about having nails driven up through his hoof. And I thought to myself that I would not be happy about that either while I was saying things like "good horse" and "good job" and "easy boy" and "you're a good boy" and whatever the heck else I could think of to say over and over in my most soothing and gentle and calm voice.

We had already given orally some stuff called "bute" to Jet to try to make the process easier on all of us.

Our combined efforts ("bute", me, horse, and farrier) pretty much came to naught. At the very first nail Jet reared up and in the process kicked me and the farrier with his front leg. He didn't intend to kick us of course but our bodies simply were in the path of his leg. If he had intended I probably would not be blogging this.

We had him outside the corral and his companion horses (apparently human companions were not high on his list at the moment) had decided to move about as far away from the activity as possible. So Jet couldn't see his buds and he moved over to the gate with me trying to hold him by the halter and lead rope to little avail. He let out the most plaintive, long whinny I think I've heard. It was loud and high and just so desperate.

Finally I led him to a spot where he could see the other horses and that placated him some but not nearly enough. After some discussion we all decided for everyone's safety we needed some additional sedation so the farrier gave him a shot of something.

While we were waiting for the sedation I took another glancing blow to my "private" area shall we say. You will notice in the first image that I am standing a bit sideways as I did not really want to enjoy another similar blow.

At the time of the first photo the sedation was very much in evidence as the horse was definitely leaning on me with his head on my shoulder.

Here's another closer image of Jet with his head on my shoulder.

This was after the shoe had been nailed on. The horse is very mellow. He does not particularly care much about anything right now in this photo.

The farrier has this little anvil that he has mounted on his truck. The shoes are preformed and generally the right size. But after some sizing measurements the blank shoe has to be beaten on the anvil to make it a better fit for the specific animal.

In the old days the blacksmith would actually forge the shoes from a bar of iron. In fact there are still some places where that is done today. If you do it that way it can take and entire day to do just one horse.

In our case the farrier also had to fit and cut a piece of neoprene to the foot. He can buy blanks of neoprene pads, too. I found that truly interesting.

But you have to remember that I am truly a neophyte when it comes to horses.

When the shoe is nailed to the foot the nails come out on the top side of the hoof. So the farrier then has to cut off the tips of the nails and bend the remaining nail over to help keep the shoe on the horse. I asked how long it would last and he said it should be good for at least 8 weeks or so.

I hope we don't have to do this again because I am sore all over.

I led and pulled Jet back into his corral after it was all done. He was still too drugged to be joyous apparently as he just kind of meandered off. Later we checked on him and he was doing okay.

Later still we dressed up and went to this fancy dinner celebration. It was at an old downtown hotel that's been totally renovated and restored. Really it is a treat just to get to enjoy the hotel. There was some kind of Halloween parade that was going on downtown so we parked in a garage and walked over to the hotel.

The invitation said business attire. I put on my Sunday clothes which is slacks and shirt and tie and sport coat. I don't usually wear that to work.

So when we arrived I was talking to this other fellow and his wife was talking to mine about the attire. I don't think we men would have initiated a conversation about clothes had our wives not already done it.

Anyway he said that he wore jeans to work and no tie and that was his normal business attire and most of the people he knew wore something to similar to work. I said that's pretty much what I wear, too. His wife is a potter and she said if she wore her business attire she would have on an apron and have mud all over her.

When I think about it the only ones I see dressing up anymore during the week are bankers and insurance guys. Given the state of banking and insurance I wonder if they will continue to dress up?

The food was absolutely wonderful at this party. We had little cards at each place setting that told us what the food was. Because I wouldn't have known what it was without referring to the card. You know you are in a good restaurant when you have to have a card to tell you what it is you are eating.

The first course was some kind of butternut squash soup with some lobster in it. Oh my was it good. The soup part was really thick and there was hardly any of it in the rather large, shallow bowl but it was so good.

The main course was a small piece of bison that had a crust of pumpkin seed according to the card. It was wonderful but accompanied by some sea bass that was just as wonderful. There was stuff beside these two that was called "piped Peruvian Blue and Sweet Potatoes." Piped apparently means they kind of extruded the stuff out onto the plate because that's what it looked like. Boy it was good, too!

Dessert was this tiny amount of sauce stuff that had this little chocolate rod on it. There was some other stuff that someone said was Creme Brulée that was served in this ceramic spoon kind of dish. I don't know what Crème Brulée is and my little card didn't have that on it anywhere so I don't know. However, I did know about Crème Brulée because of High School Musical but really that is another blog I guess. It was good whatever it was. Then there was this really thin cracker deal that had some kind of grape halves or something like that on top of it with some kind of cheese. It was also yummy.

I don't know where people come up with these ideas for meals like this. Really it is an art form all its own. These plates were so beautiful I felt kind of bad about eating them. I should also mention our servers. I have had some good service before but I would have to rate these servers among the best I've ever experienced.

There were several kinds of wine with the meal and champagne beforehand. The hosts wore tuxedos by the way. Oh, and there was live music provided by a group from one of our universities. There were 4 musicians playing. I think 3 violins and 1 cello.

After we finally made it home it took me a couple of hours to wind down enough to go to sleep.

This morning I am trying to get over being sore and to get over staying up well past my usual bed time. I am also enjoying remembering and savoring all yesterday's experiences.

And that's how we spent our anniversary. If future anniversaries turn out half as good as this one I'll be really happy because I had a wonderful time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

We had a wonderful time.

I bought the tickets for the adult balcony the day before. The seats are pricey but they are spectacular! The seats are grouped in pairs and the shared arm rest can be moved to allow close seating if a couple is so inclined. There is a little table between and just in front of the two seats. On the arm rests on the left seat and the right seat there is a little red button you push to summon your waiter. There is a little LED flashlight on a string attached by Velcro to the table. There is also another smaller table area with a cup holder on those chair arms. The chairs are very comfortable and there is an enormous amount of room in front of them -- sufficient for someone to walk in front with no problem.

I ordered a glass of Berringer white zinfandel, a small popcorn, and a bottle of water. Judy had an ice tea. The people next to us ordered a meal that was served when the movie started. About 10 or 15 minutes before the end of movie the waiter unobtrusively places the bill on your table and returns a few minutes later to collect. Very classy!

No children in the balcony - adult only. I have to do this more often.

I really enjoyed by Berringer. It was chilled to exactly the temperature I enjoy. I hadn't had any in a while and that made it all the nicer.

The screen in this theater - called the Grand Auditorium - is huge. The sound is spectacular. The seats are great. The parking is amazingly convenient and the theater is easy to get to. The service was excellent. The whole thing is carpeted. Everything is spotless including the parking lot. The bathrooms are plush. There is an honest-to-goodness curtain that opens and closes. The decor is reminiscient of old style theaters. The only thing I can think of that I would change about the facilty is the ceiling. They were typical commercial drop ceiling panels. I thought to myself that ornate plaster celings would be perfect for this venue.

The movie is about the senior year of the kids from the other two movies. The cast is much the same except the charaters have definitely aged. If you like the other movies then you'll like this one. On the other hand if you didn't care for the first two then you will not like this one either.

Actually this movie reminds me a lot of Star Trek. If you recall Star Trek was notable among other things for having a diverse, integrated crew. High School Musical is a lot like that to me except that the diversity is of groups of high school kids like jocks and braniacs and so on.

Now this does not occur in real high schools as anyone who has ever attended one well knows. But it is a cool idea. In real high school not everyone can dance and sing and stuff either.

This one is more adult though as it should be. There is more sadness. The kids are growing up and they are going to leave and go off into the bigger world and begin to find their own lives and dream their own dreams.

I remember that time in my life. One the one hand there was the anticipation and excitement and adventure and fear of the future. On the other was the sadness at leaving the familiar and the known and friends.

Maybe that's why the audience was divided into two main groups. One was people my age. The other was pre high school kids accompanied by a few parents - mostly mothers - but a few fathers.

Probably kids in high school are too much involved in the reality of the moment to be impressed with the idealism of the movie.

But I was thinking about how we all have senior year moments a lot during our lives. New jobs or new spouses or new friends or new places or new anything - all are like senior year.

We had a wonderful time. I'm already scheming about going back, too.

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary, too.

Friday, October 24, 2008


One of my first jobs was answering the telephone at my dad's company.

The phones were like the one in the image to the left. I found this image on Old Telephones web site. There were 6 buttons of which one was for HOLD and the others were phone numbers. I still remember the main number. It was JA (Jackson) 4-8401. That was back when we had rather quaint prefix names rather than just numbers. Well, they were numbers of course, but we referred to them as names. I liked that better I think.

Our first home number was in the NEWTON exchange but I don't remember the prefix. One of my friend's phone number was in the SHADY SIDE 5 exchange. I thought that was a really cool name for some reason.

My first job was during a hail storm and Dad's company was a roofing company. It was called Standard Roofing and Material Company and went by SRAMCO. They ran some billboard, radio and TV commercials where there was this little dog standing by his dog house. On the billboard there was a little cloud above the dog's head with the words "Roof, Roof for SRAMCO!" On the radio and TV commercials the dog actually barked the same words but kind of like a dog barking. I loved those commercials but the other guys at the company hated them. I remember them talking about how customers would see them at various places and they would say "roof, roof" to our guys.

Roofing companies are rather busy places after big hail storms in Oklahoma at least. So the phone was ringing constantly. And my job was to answer every call and do something with it. Either I transferred it to someone else or I took a message. If the caller was wanting someone to come estimate how much it would cost to replace his roof then I took the information down on a special pad.

At first I was terrified. It was the year I turned 14 after all and that birthday was after I began working there so I was 13. I got in trouble the first day because people kept calling the boss (not my dad) and I kept giving him the calls and he was really busy. Finally he took me aside and told me how to politely tell people that he couldn't talk right then and if they would give me a number I'd have him call them back. Scared the daylights out of me but I learned how to do it.

I found out I was really good at it. No one called it multitasking then though. I don't remember when I first heard that term but not too long ago I think.

Now I don't multitask as efficiently as I did when I was 13. Maybe it is because I don't want to multitask. Sometimes I don't even want to single task.

The other day I remember to change my voter registration to my new address. I wanted to be able to vote after all. I did this at the tag agency which is also where you get your driver's license here.

I was pretty proud of myself until my wife asked me if I had also changed my address on my driver's license. Strange that I didn't think of it.

So today I went to the tag agency to change my address. I guess I will do one document at a time.

I completed the form and paid my money and the lady told me to sit down. There was another fellow on the bench and I sat by him. The lady called his name and he acknowledged. Then she said "young man come over here for your photo."

I thought to myself that usually no one ever calls you "young man" if you are a young man. It's only when you get to be an old man that someone calls you "young man."

I guess my bench mate didn't know that because he said "Young man! I'm not a young man. I'm 54. I'm older than you are." That was while he was making his way over to the photograph machine. He wasn't in very good shape and was kind of crippled. I thought to myself "wow, he's 6 years younger than I am."

Eventually it was my turn and I now have a new driver's license with correct address to match my voter registration card.

When I returned to the office I started working on credit cards - one by one of course.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hidden Stuff

The workers who are building the Chick-Fil-A keep finding buried things.

The other day the big telephone cable was cut and several businesses lost telephone service. I was at Starbucks right after it was cut. They gave me my coffee since they couldn't use their computers. Really I didn't have anything to do with the cable being cut but last Saturday the manager complained about it and about a skunk family living near the dumpster enclosure. I really don't have much say about skunk families either.

The gas company came this week to lower an existing gas line. It is 4 inches and that seems pretty big to me. It has to be lowered 4 feet so this driveway can go over it. In the process of uncovering it the workers found 3 more lines that apparently were unknown to engineers and those people who come around and mark lines.

There was a big hullabaloo about it and 5 or 6 of those little trucks of the marker people were out there. There was another group of men standing around the hole. Some of them were talking on cell phones. I thought to myself that's never a good sign really to see a big group of men all standing around looking down into a big hole.

Two of the lines belong to the telephone company. One is bigger around than my arm. The other one is smaller. No one seems to know exactly where they go or why they are not marked on any of our plans. So we are waiting on the phone company to tell us what to do about theirs.

The other one is steel and I asked what it was and no one knew. I asked what I should do about it and one guy suggested calling the City. I guess I will.

All this made me think about other hidden things.

Hidden things don't really hurt anything much unless you have to unearth them. Probably if we hadn't been working on the Chick-Fil-A they would have remained hidden until many years from now when some long future archeologist would find them. She'd probably think they were some kind of artifact used in a bizarre religious ceremony or some such thing.

There's hidden things in life, too. You don't know about them until you are moving stuff around and they surface, sometimes unexpectedly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rich Lessons

I was struck by James 5 in my Bible reading last week especially given the financial turmoil that is occurring all across the world right now. I quote from The Message Bible:

1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgment.

4-6All the workers you've exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You've looted the earth and lived it up. But all you'll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you've done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.
What struck me most about the passage I think was the description of the "rich" as being those whose greatest treasure is material wealth and how everything else is diminished in its favor. In order to gain just a bit more wealth the "rich" withhold pay from those who rightfully earned it.

This was written nearly two thousand years ago in a markedly different culture and time. Yet we see from recent events that it is just as valid now as it was when it was first penned.

And there are buckets of tears right now.

This passage is followed by several exhortations to the followers of Christ. One in particular again struck a chord with me:
That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

12And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don't add words like "I swear to God" to your own words. Don't show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can't be used against you.
In the context it seems to me that this is an exhortation for us to remember our limitations when it comes to our future plans. Surely there are things we do control in our lives. But as we've seen in recent days we do not control very much at all really. It does not mean we should not plan nor does it mean we should not commit to do things.

I like to plan and make spreadsheets and try to anticipate different future scenarios. And when I do I like to have fallback positions for my plans.

Really though there is only one fallback position that makes sense.

That is faith in Christ.

I once read somewhere the statement: "I do not know the future but I know the One Who holds it."

That's more than enough.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Daddy Long Legs

Daddy Long Legs spider that is or at least that's what I've always heard them called.

But she (probably) is not a spider. Another common name is Harvestmen. They are arachnids but not spiders.

Imagine that.

We were down feeding the little kitties (only 2 remain out of 5) the other evening and this wonderful creature was walking around in the same area. Their legs are so thin that you can barely see them. There's not much to the rest of them either.

The official name is Opiliones.

You might ask what's the difference between these guys and a spider. Even if you don't ask I'm going to tell you anyway. Spiders have two parts to their bodies. These guys have one part.

Actually they only have 2 eyes and spiders have 8. It is hard to count eyes when you can't really see the Harestman in the first place. I only knew she was there because of movement.

I read that every 10 days or so they molt. They split open their exoskeleton and a new spider appears. Takes about 20 minutes to get those legs out. I've never seen that nor did I know it happened. Amazing.

Another amazing thing is that there are people who study Harvestmen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Remember the Milk

Remember the milk is the task list program I am using on my new iPhone. It is also known as RTM.

CORRECTION: the price was $299 not $399. Sorry.

My phone is truly my personal digital assistant more than any other tool I use. It has my Bible for instance as well as my contacts and my email and my calendars and several other services that are important to me. One of those things is my "to do list." I have always made such lists although not always with great consistency.

I keep my Google calendar and contact list synchronized with my iPhone and RTM gives me the same ability. There is also a Firefox extension that lets me see my to do list in the same tab as my Google mail and my Google calendar.

That's why I chose it in fact.

So I am using Firefox, Google, and iPhone and various iPhone programs.

I signed up for the developer resources for iPhone. I am not sure if I really want to do any programming again but I would not mind writing a little application for the iPhone. I would have to buy an Apple computer. I haven't owned one since 1984 when I bought a Mac 512k.

Another "I think I might try" to add to my future list of things to do on RTM!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My New IPhone

I've posted before about my cell phones.

My last one was a Treo 650 of which I have owned 2 units. It has been a good tool. It is more than a cell phone of course as I used it for my e-mail, text messaging, calendar, contact manager, password keeper, mobile web browser and a few other things besides.

Sometime last week though it developed a problem of rebooting itself repeatedly. If I used it less often then the rebooting happened less often. Really a solution involving not using something is not a very good solution.

I was hoping to wait until T-Mobile's Android was available and I nearly made it. But I could not get it for a month or more from my date. That just did not work for me.

So I bought an iPhone.

It is only offered through AT&T.

I was with T-Mobile.

The iPhone 3G is great and so is AT&T.

There are a couple of drawbacks. One is price which is about $400. Another is that you have to go for 2 years with AT&T. And yet another is tha this thing definitely does drain the battery. That may be the worst problem actually.

Another thing I thought would be a problem is the virtual keyboard. But I kind of like it now.

AT&T is also great.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Perseverance - Until the Whistle Blows

The other day my daughter emailed a devotion piece she had read by a lady named Glynnis Whitwer. The title was Until the Whistle Blows and it appears in full on her web site.

The subject of the devotion is prayer, specifically the verse where Jesus says we should pray and not give up - Luke 18:1.

I liked her illustration a lot and it reminded me of my post the other day about Perseverance.

She writes that while watching her son's football practices she noticed that the offensive linemen would often stop blocking the defensive players before the whistle was blown calling the play dead. Then the coaches would tell the players to "block until the whistle blows." That reminded her of the Lord's admonition to keep praying.

We, and I surely include myself in the group, do often give up too early on lots of things I think. We work and work at something and sometimes it seems the harder we work the more difficult the task becomes. Others see our situation from a different perspective and realize we are inches away from our prize. But all we see is the pain and suffering and work and difficulty that remains. So we quit.

Anyway I really liked the illustration and thought I'd share my appreciation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur

Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur

The sub-title is "How the Master shaped His disciples for greatness, and what He wants to do with you!"

I thought it was fitting to report on this title since I had just finished the Gospels in my daily Bible reading program.

John MacArthur is the long time pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He is a well known and well respected expositor and leader. He has authored many books and hosts a popular radio program.

He mentions that the series of sermons he has given on the twelve apostles are among the most highly desired of his entire body of work and that fact gave rise to the book itself.

As the title suggests he finds the men called by the Lord to be rather ordinary but the calling to be extraordinary. By ordinary he means that these men were not highly educated nor were they wealthy or of high social position or even of notable physical appearance. They were, in general, not greatly spiritual or religious or even political. Individually they had special interests of course but they do not appear to have been of particularly prominent stature even in their vocations.

He notes four different stages of their calling. First they were all called to belief in the Lord Jesus. Secondly they were called to ministry. In those two stages they are so very similar to all believers because we all experience that very same thing. It is instructive though to look at how each one was called.

But these men were also called to apostleship and martyrdom.

The training period itself lasted about 18 months or perhaps a little more or a little less. It was a kind of internship training.

It certainly could be argued that they would not have been chosen today by most of our great churches and Christian denominations. I thought once about going into some kind of chaplain or pastoral care ministry. I felt the Lord was calling me to some kind of caring work but I thought it was religious. So I applied to a seminary and was turned down because I was too old they thought. They said they had too many applicants and felt it was a better use of resources to train younger men who could server longer. I was only 50 then so I guess I would really be too old for them now. The Lord did of course have a caring ministry for me but it was certainly not the one I had imagined for myself. Thankfully I was not too old for His purposes.

MacArthur notices that the names of the twelve are usually found in three groups. The first is that of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. The second is Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, and Thomas. And the third is James, Thaddeus, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot. I found that interesting and had not really studied it myself.

He then describes in some detail each individual giving as much as can be determined from Scripture about each one. I found each portrait to be fascinating and very instructive.

For instance MacArthur notes that Andrew several times noticed small details. And that Phillip was very much a "bean counter."

I found the portrait of Judas Iscariot to be particularly interesting. MacArthur discusses Judas Iscariot's disillusionment with the Lord. I thought that was interesting because Judas Iscariot seems to have believed Jesus. The problem for him seems to be that Jesus wasn't the Lord he wanted. I bet that happens still.

I enjoyed the book and endorse it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unusual Breakfast

A while back I started reading through the Scriptures again. I am following a little guide my Sunday School teacher gave us. The schedule makes me read quite a bit each day. I don't really like that because it makes me feel I am hurrying and I often find interesting things that I think I should consider more thoroughly. But the schedule pulls me on and keeping the schedule has its own benefits.

I guess it must have been Friday or Saturday when I finished the Gospels. The schedule so far is in book order so I read Matthew and then Mark and Luke and, finally, John. The Gospels always remind me of a saying my paternal grandfather taught me more than 50 years ago now. It was a little memory device for the names of the Gospels: "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; saddle a mule and I'll get on; give me a stick and I'll be gone." Just writing that now makes me smile and remember the image my mind still retains of my Pop.

So I was thinking about the Gospels and the writers and how they are similar but also different. I am fond of each but for different reasons. If I had to choose a favorite it would be John I think. That's because when I first came to believe in The Lord Jesus it was John that I read first. It is a wonderfully eloquent work. It also soars into Theological heights I am unable to conceive much less scale. It opens with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That's an amazing concept just in itself.

But for the first time I noticed in this reading that John ends in an interesting way. It concludes with The Lord fixing and eating breakfast with His disciples. A fire is even described.

The entire passage reminded me of The Shack and that cabin on the lake.

I love this passage more now than I ever have before. It is just such a wonderful image of The Lord preparing the fire and the food and then cooking it and then dining with His followers. It is wonderfully comforting and familiar and feels like family to me.

I can't decide if this is more lofty Theology that is just so far above my intellect that I am unable to apprehend it; or, if it is meeting me on a raw, emotional level; or, if it is His Spirit meeting my own; or, all three perhaps.

Regardless it is an image that comforts me more than I can say and for that I am ever so grateful.

Sunday was my mother's birthday. My brother remembered and sent me an email. I liked that.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I want to be irrationally exuberant again

That was a bumper sticker reportedly seen in Silicon Valley following the stock market collapse of 2000.

The "irrationally exuberant" part came from a speech by Alan Greenspan in 1996.

I like exuberance. It is not something really that would be attributed to me by those who know me but I like it all the same.

One definition I read was "joyously unrestrained." I like that even more. Another was "extreme abundance."

I guess now we must be in a period of irrational despair.

Friday, October 10, 2008


On Friday the stock market was really amazing.

Nothing much "real" had changed overnight except investors' attitudes. Attitudes are really real alright.

When I first noticed the first big sell off I thought to myself "this has all the characteristics of a panic." It was not past events or even the immediate present that was provoking such anxiety and fear in so many. At first I supposed it was just fear of the future.

Funny how that works. One day I can be so up and optimistic and eagerly anticipating the future and all the good things I foresee. The next day comes and I can be down and out and think things are just never going to be better.

So that happens to everyone. But this seems different. So I wondered if it was a sudden mass realization of just how ingrained was the human capacity for greed and selfishness and bad behavior and the consequences of so many doing so much the same thing all at once. I had that realization once.

The first big plunge was followed by a rally and then another sell off and that cycle pretty much repeated over and over during the course of the day.

During the day I was thinking about what was happening. If you have a cell phone or a TV or an Internet connection or go anywhere at all it is hard to avoid some news so I knew about what was happening. I had other things to do as did a lot of other people so we weren't really glued to the tube so to speak.

Still I had plenty of time to reflect about what was happening. I think I realized something interesting that I had not thought of before.

Use to I would have said that calm was the opposite of panic or maybe euphoria. But this stock market event has helped me develop the thought more clearly.

I think now that perseverance is the opposite of panic. Usually perseverance is defined as persistent determination or the act of continuing. I think these definitions lack something though and that's adversity. It isn't hard to persevere if there is no adversity.

If you are standing in the lot and one of the horses is running away from you it is easy to remain standing there. But if the horse is running directly at you and seems a bit upset then standing there becomes considerably more difficult. I think that's perseverance.

You can feel the panic at such times well up from down deep inside you somewhere. It is more than fear. All at the same time there is terror and anxiety and shame and fear of moral failure and probably some more emotions I can't quite remember.

And what you want to do is run like the wind to get away from whatever the threat may be. But if you stand fast then that's perseverance.

At lunch Friday I became reacquainted with someone who had been a boy when I saw him last about 20 or more years ago. He's all grown up now and is an FBI agent. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was doing well and as it had turned out that his job was pretty much recession proof.

We all laughed.

But then I thought it was really true. People are not committing fewer crimes. He's probably in a growth business. He was transferred here from a much larger city. He told us about some of the cases he'd investigated dealing with mortgage fraud. I do not consider myself naive but I was shocked to hear about some of the details.

In past days I've visited some of my friends who are in the financial investing business. I left them alone on Friday because I thought they probably had more important stuff going on what with the news of the market and all.

But they've told me before how difficult it is to stick with a certain discipline when things are going the wrong way. That's perseverance.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


We all make them every day.

There's a saying that "hindsight is 20/20" that is usually stated after some choice has turned out not so well or it becomes apparent that another choice would have been much better. It means that if we had known everything we know now back when we made the choice we would have made another one -- a better one.

Maybe that's true sometimes but I think it is not always true. I also notice that the time that's passed when looking back makes a difference.

I don't want to use a real example so I'll make one up. Let's say we bought some Target stock on December 31, 2007. The price was about $50 per share then.

Then at the end of January we took a look at our investment and we would have noticed a price of about $55 per share. We would have patted ourselves on our backs.

If we looked at it October 6th about 2:45 pm though the price was down to $38. We would have not been nearly so happy. If we looked again at 4 pm it was $42.

There are decisions I've made in the past that I sometimes revisit in my mind. Sometimes I think I could have made a different choice. Then I try to trace that different choice from then to now. A lot of times it is just too complex to figure out. Sometimes though I can easily see that new choice would have been better or worse. But then I think I still don't now how it will turn out in the more distant future.

But I don't spend too much time worrying about past decisions. Because there's no way to change the past.

Sometimes it is just that the choices are not very good ones.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Term Limits

Politics is a strange profession alright.

But it is a profession just like others. There are plenty of strange ones, too. To be sure the degree of strangeness is logarithmically proportionate to the perspective of the viewer. I suppose that is another way of saying we are all strange, or individuals anyway.

Just like any other profession the longer you do it the better you get at it or you should at least. I was thinking the other day about various things I've done in my life. Sometimes I read about other people that have done all sorts of adventurous things and I think my own path has been pretty straight and boring. I said that to someone not long ago who thought I was out of my mind and rehearsed for me a lot of the stuff I've gotten to do thus far. Apparently I am not quite done. Or at least I am not quite as done as I had thought anyway.

I grew up on a farm and did farming and ranching things. I went to college and studied math and physics when it wasn't so popular. I was there at the beginning of so many things. TV, Israel, computers, Internet, hand held phones, and space exploration to name only a few.

Surely the work I've done that's been the "most" in nearly every category (most difficult, most different, most rewarding, and so on) is caregiving.

Anyway I was not so good at any of these various things when I started as when I ended. That's just the way work is. I've noticed before that a lot of things require a little knowledge and lot of practice. Granted some natural skill is useful because so many things are as much or more art than technology.

Anyway I figure politics is the same way.

I remember one time when I was a grade school student we went on some kind of field trip. Our school was small enough then that field trips could still happen. When a school gets too big though it is hard to do field trips I've noticed. But this particular field trip was to the State of Oklahoma Capitol building where we watched a legislative session from a balcony and met several officials although the details escape me right now.

This was arranged by one of my classmate's fathers who was a politician we were told. That's the first time I recall knowing that someone could be one. He wasn't an elected politician but one of those people who work in and for government.

I have no idea now what he did or even his name or which one of my fellow students claimed him. But I still remember that trip and watching the legislators do their jobs and being awed by the grandeur of the building and being just amazed at the process.

When I visited Washington, D.C. the first time I remember feeling a similar sense of awe that I was standing in actual, real places where events had occurred that I had read about. In a way that trip made me realize that the people who filled the history I had learned really were just people and just like me. Realizing that increased my awe and amazement all the more. Also made me realize that people including me can do a lot.

We have some really good officials in our little town which is not so little anymore. The mayor has been there a really long time now and I think he's done a remarkably good job. I attended a council meeting Monday night is what made me think of this.

Our developer was there and spoke and the City Council passed approval of our plat and an incentive package necessary for the project to move forward. I kept my mouth shut and so had no problems with being blunt. The turmoil in the financial markets did not help our cause any. One thing about though is that there is not much more I can do to and when you reach that point you might as well rest.

But, being at the council meeting caused me to think. I was thinking that if there had been a term limit for our mayor that we would have likely been the worse for it. On the other hand there were some who came before him that we'd have been the better for having a limit and a short one at that.

So terms limits that force out individuals when they have just begun to get the hang of something is a pretty negative thing I think. Especially if it is an elected office because it is possible to defeat someone for those offices at the next election.

But it isn't always easy because individuals and groups do gain some power and develop a kind of inertia just by being in office for a while.

When my caregiving ended it was time for me to do something else.

So I see both sides.

Sometimes when I think of term limits I have this funny mental image of a person with one of those "use before" stamps on their forehead.

But I guess we all have one of those stamps anyway.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blunt and Direct Unwelcome

I read this article the other day in The Wall Street Journal online version.

It must be free because I don't have a subscription.

The title is Paulson's Stature Takes a Beating Among Lawmakers.

I guess it was the title that caught my attention and then the article itself was interesting enough to hold it.

I was particularly interested in a portion of the article which I quote as follows including my own emphasis in bold:

Interviews with lawmakers suggest the uphill battle is partly of Mr. Paulson's own making. A former chief executive of investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Mr. Paulson is blunt and direct, an attitude that doesn't play as well before Congress.
There you have it.

Blunt is an interesting word. In this context it means "without subtlety or evasion"; "candid"; "forthright"; "devoid of any qualifications or disguise or adornment"; or, "crude, unadorned".
If anyone is interested I have decided to adopt my own style for using commas and semi-colons outside of quotes when in a list. Sorry if this offends anyone. Since we live in a day when language is quickly evolving I have decided to exercise my own liberty.
Actually I think Paulson could have been a lot more direct but I suppose that would have created panic which was one of the things the politicians were trying to avoid.

Not that it was a secret for sure. Anyone that was paying attention to the bank borrowing from the Federal Reserve would have understood that there was nearly complete paralysis in the lending markets. The implication of that is hard to avoid. But not many people pay attention to bank borrowing from the Federal Reserve apparently.

I do think it is true that we do not prefer blunt politicians on a national scale at least. We like our national pols to be sophisticated, worldly, subtle, loquacious -- anything except blunt. We like them to tickle our ears and resemble some imaginary ideal that exists in our collective, national subconscious. We like them to fit perfectly in sound bites and video clips.

Maybe I will dig out Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and watch it again sometime to soothe my inner idealist.

Monday evening I have to attend a city council meeting. I wonder how blunt I should be? Probably not very if I keep in mind what is good for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Journey North

Remember my post about monarchs?

Well, I found another site that I thought was interesting and worthy of note:

Journey North: A Global Study of Wildlife Migration and Seasonal Change
On that site you can find out a lot more about Monarchs than you probably want to know.

The most recent news is that a cold front on the 2nd of October contributed to many more Monarchs traveling through my area.

Friday and Saturday I saw quite a few Monarchs but not to the "fill-the-sky" extent I described in that previous post. I would still like to see that again.

In other personal news our Jet appears much better and is a little upset with us that he cannot rejoin his comrades. But he has a few more days of medicine and there is still some alfalfa hay out there in the big corral. I want to wait until all of it is gone which will not be much longer. I think he is allergic.

Our cat seems to be ill now though, or maybe she's hurt. I think a male cat attacked her.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Inching Closer to a Chick-Fil-A

Updated this post at 7:20 AM

We filed our final plat on Friday with the county. It is quite a process.

Once the infrastructure work was completed the surveyor returned to prepare a final "as-built" survey. Before that the city ran a TV camera on wheels down the new sanitary sewer line just to make sure everything was as it was supposed to be. That's an interesting thing to watch done in its own right.

The surveyor then prepares the final plat drawing and prints it on "Mylar" which is a kind of plastic sheet. On the right hand side is a whole bunch of places for various signatures and corresponding notary public seals. You have to use a special pen to write on the Mylar. And the notary stamp is special, too. The City had the most places to sign so they got it first and circulated to all the various officials. Then we had to take it to an abstract office for another signature. Then I had to sign and my signature had to be notarized. Then it had to be taken to the County for a signature. Next it had to go back to the surveyor who made a whole bunch of copies - but they are not called copies but originals. (Interesting that you can have multiple originals.) After that it was another trip back to the County (from which we had just come) where we gave them the required copies (er originals) for filing along with a check, of course.

After that we had to take the City a bunch of copies - some of which I guess are originals. It is confusing. Somewhere in there we had to pay taxes, too. I forgot that step - think it was another trip to the County.

Now at the same time all that's going on we had to sign and have notarized a total of 8 different documents which had been previously negotiated and agreed. Some had to be notarized. Some had to have my brother's signature.

Then we drove back (again) to the surveyor's office with the completed and filed Mylar so it could be scanned and stored and turned into a PDF.

Our final stop was the UPS office where we bundled up a bunch of stuff to send to the title company. All those documents are scheduled to be delivered on Monday morning.

Sometime on Monday we have some more documents to sign and pass around back and forth between various lawyers and other assorted names of people I've never met for the most part.

Assuming all that is completed correctly we will have a closing on Monday or maybe Tuesday or sometime. (I hope.) At some point money is supposed to hit our account and at the same time the deed and other assorted documents are to be given to the buyer which is Chick-Fil-A.

It that happens on Monday we'll be just shy of 34 months from the first contact ever made by Chick-Fil-A to us. That was when we had to tell them we had nothing for sale but we might consider a lease. That was because of our promise to Dad. They said they didn't do anything but buy. Then we didn't hear from them for several months - maybe nearly a year.

Then they contacted us again and we began working on a lease deal. After that we eventually worked out a deal so they could buy after Dad's death.

In about 16 more weeks a new Chick-Fil-A will open for business right next to my porch.

There are already people talking about standing out in line all night before the opening because the first so many people apparently get free sandwiches or something for a period of time or some such.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Another blogger I read mentioned this the other day. She posted only a single photo on that Wednesday as her blog post for the day in honor of Wordless Wednesday she said and I quote not.

So I had to look up Wordless Wednesday. Turns out to be a blog.

It has a heck of a lot of words for something with wordless in the title. I "think" you're supposed to only comment with a single link. Also a "heck" of a lot of blogs that have posted about Wordless Wednesday. The Internet is an amazing thing. I almost typed "place" but stopped myself because it obviously is not a place.

This "wordless" concept is interesting and Wednesday does make it a nice alliteration if one likes alliterations that is. I guess if I did something like this I would just post a photo. I was thinking about having just a photo post once in a while. No explanation - just a photo - except maybe a title I guess - because I don't like empty fields.

There's a cool idea "empty fields" - wonder if there is one? Sure enough: - but under construction it says. But the singular is already built.

So next Wednesday I'm starting a wordless post.

We'll see how long I can do it.

I've already posted more stuff than I ever thought possible. This will be stretching my blogging.

(I watched a deal about Tom Hanks on BIO last night and was kind of laughing to myself about how actors are always talking about stretching themselves by playing different parts and so on. And I like Tom Hanks so don't send me nasty comments.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What Does It Mean?

A friend asked me "What is regs?" I replied that I thought it meant regulations. But my friend explained that this "regs" was used in the context of phone text messaging by a teenager and it didn't seem to mean regulations.

I said "Oh. In that case I will do a little Internet research."

I turned to where I typed in "REGS" and clicked the search button.

Uh oh. I found three definitions all of which had to do with marijuana, namely 'regular' or low grade marijuana.

That was not good news for my friend but it was also what had been feared.

I was fascinated with the 3rd definition and the use of the word in a sentence which I herewith quote: "man you got dem regs to roll a fatty bo batty?"

At first I laughed at myself. I thought to myself "I have no idea what that means." The sentence that should have helped actually made my understanding worse.

So then I had to look up fatty bo batty. Actually I found hyphenated fatty-bo-batty. The resulting definition was "big ass blunt."

I thought I was pretty certain what "big ass" meant because, after all, I did blog about big ass fans once.

So then I had to look up "blunt" which gave me:

Cigar hollowed out and filled with marijuana, can be smoked in public (somewhat) inconspicuously.

Montel was sittin' on the porch all day, sippin' his 40 and smokin' blunts.
Nearly as I can tell a fatty bo batty is a big cigar that has been hollowed out and the tobacco replaced with marijuana of the regular or low grade type.

Then I searched "fatty-bo-batty" on the Internet and obviously it is a generic term with an assortment of meanings too numerous for me to figure out.

This exercise definitely made me feel old and over the hill.

It also made me really, really happy that I am not raising teenagers right now.

Then it made me really scared for my kids who are raising their own children.

I would have to take a course in this language if I were raising children.

I always laugh when I see those Internet ads directed at men about barely legal teenage girls. Because I think to myself that I once had a teenage girl in my home and I was awfully glad when she finally outgrew that time of life. She says she was glad, too.

I never ever tried marijuana or any other drug for that matter. I volunteered once at college for an experimental program with LSD. That was in the days when it was considered mind expanding and hey, I wanted mine expanded. The program turned me down though. I suppose that says something about my mind -- not sure what though.

That must sound very quaint. Maybe not as quaint as President Clinton's explanation but quaint all the same. Although someone else told me that he well understood about not inhaling because he had found it no so intuitive to inhale as some might think.

I remember a friend once who decided to smoke a cigarette and couldn"t figure out how to inhale it. He was sitting in my car at the Big W drive-in located on Broadway of our little town. He kept trying to light the cigarette while holding it in his hand. It was funny but I guess you had to be there.

There's lots more popular culture stuff I don't understand. For instance, pants that are worn way low. I don't understand that one bit. It looks awfully uncomfortable to me. What does it mean? Or the use of the word "like" for that matter. Or "absolutely." Or girls wearing pants that reveal a female "plumbers butt." I see that a lot now in various stores -- since I go to stores now. My pharmacist today had some kind of Chinese letters tattooed on her arm with a kind of spiky hairdo in hair dyed a brilliant red. I thought "cool" which I suppose must be really old school now. But I wondered what does it mean? What does it mean to her? What is it supposed to mean to me?

What does it mean?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This is a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1929 through today.

That big dip right at the beginning is the 1929 crash.

I was thinking about how thinking in terms of shorter and longer terms changes my attitude about things.

And I don't mean just the stock market either. Because when you view the DOW over 80 years it is pretty apparent that even the rather drastic losses of the last few weeks is not such a big thing in terms of overall market performance.

But I was thinking, too, about my first ancestor to come to the shores of the United States. He did not come as a tourist for fun and sun. Rather he felt he had to leave his home to find a better life for himself and his family. Did he think about me and other future generations? Probably very unlikely. But his decision did not affect just him but also me and my children and my grandchildren and others I cannot even imagine.

Likewise things I do today, or don't do as the case may be, also will have far reaching implications I cannot guess.