Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hillary Has Lost Her Marbles

Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton has another feel good policy, this one only proves that she has lost all her marbles. This latest in a long line of fuzzy thinking, if thinking is even involved would fit better in the television series, The Outer Limits. “Do not attempt to adjust your television…We are in control…”

“"I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on their first home," she said.”

Why stop there; go for it all. It would be a great idea if every child born had a silver spoon in its mouth; congress should demand that every child born be given a lap top computer, a new condo in Manhattan, round trip airline tickets to fly anywhere anytime forever so he/she can visit friends all over the world, a new house with a two car garage and free health care from day one all the way to the grave.

My guess is every policy which Hillary presents comes from:
1. A book of fairy tales where money grows on trees
2. A goose lays a golden egg every fifteen minutes
3. The undeserving rich pay for everything with money their parents stole to begin with and should be returned to those who need it the most.

I could be mistaken, but where in the name of common sense does she expect to find the funding for such an insane proposal? Maybe with the surplus left over from her Health Care funds? Oh, I left off one; maybe the Tooth Fairy could deliver the Five Thousand Dollars through incremental stages each time a child looses a tooth and puts it under the pillow.

“Hey Mom, look what the Tooth Fairy left me!” Yea, that’s a sound financial program that will work; at least half the congress would go along with it; only those hate mongers of the conservative right, those mean Republicans would try to block such a wonderful and helpful piece of legislation.

That’s Hillary’s version of the “American Dream”, never mind the part where individuals are responsible for obtaining the American Dream, that’s what the village is for. Never mind the fact that this is simply another case of class envy where the government robs Peter to pay Paul. Hillary is depending on Paul to vote her into the oval office and as long as Peter has to pay all the bills Paul isn’t going to complain.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Falling Asleep in the CT Scanner

I read a short article on the Fox News website, “A cancer patient who was left alone in a CT scanner for hours after a technician apparently forget about her finally crawled out of the device, only to find herself locked in the closed clinic.”


“A physician who works at the practice and knew of the incident said it’s not the first time such a thing has happened.”

“People have been left in the office after hours, when something like that happens — it’s the same sort of thing,” said Dr. Steven Ketchel. “My guess is she was lying on the table, waiting and waiting and nobody told her she could go home.”

I’ve been inside CT and MRI scanners a couple of times; earlier this year I had the benefit of being under the influence of morphine and fell asleep easily right in the middle of the scanning process, that’s when they found out I had a gall bladder problem, not a heart attack. I’d have to wonder about the technician leaving since they are responsible for managing each phase of the scan, even with the recorded instructions built into the CT unit.

Several years ago I was at the chiropractor’s office and was on the table with the TENS unit buzzing away on my sore back with the lights off prior to receiving an adjustment. There was a built in timer to turn off the TENS unit and I was enjoying the quiet. A patient came in for some emergency help, having been involved in an automobile accident. The entire staff dropped everything to assist the poor fellow who was in considerable pain.

About an hour later one of the technicians remembered that I’d been left in there all that time awaiting my turn for an adjustment. The doctor performed her magic and didn’t charge me for the visit, embarrassed that a patient could have been ignored for such a long time; not bad for an hour of peace and quiet.

Yesterday I was working on three old “beaters”, change that to “fine automobiles” where it must have been a hundred and forty degrees or so inside while making ignition keys so these units could go to the auction. The used car manager’s desk was busy when I went to turn in my paperwork and hand over the keys so I got distracted, placing the tagged keys in my shirt pocket while making a duplicate key for one of the salesmen. I got my purchase orders from a secretary who was helping divert folks away from the manager’s desk and was glad to be finished.

I drove to my next job, several miles away, and made a door key for a fellow who showed me, pointing through the passenger side window where it had fallen off the key ring and landed on the floor just as the door closed and locked. I “read” the cuts on the key that was resting on the floor mat so I could generate one just like it to open the door, a really neat locksmith trick that impresses folks no end since they’re expecting a “Slim Jim” or other car opening tool. I reached into my pocket to write down the information, spaces and depths for each cut, prior to cutting the key; that’s when I snapped to the fact that I’d driven off the last job without turning over the keys I’d made for those three fine automobiles.

The drive back to the car dealership to hand them the keys I’d made earlier was humbling; recognizing that we all make mistakes is a reminder not to judge others too harshly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

“Delivery Trucks Made Frequent Stops”

I read in the morning Houston Chronicle, “Raid on steroid ‘factory’ nabs two, Pearland couple among 124 caught in nationwide DEA crackdown”. The article went on to explain about how the steroids had been packaged to present a professional appearance, as if dispensed through a reputable pharmaceutical outlet and there appeared to be a link with China for the steroid materials.

“Neighbor Addie Killian said the couple had lived there for about two years and were good neighbors.”

“She was always out working in the yard with her two small children," she said of Zamora. She recalled how last winter Zamora helped her clear tree limbs that fell during a storm.”

“Killian noted that UPS, FedEx and other delivery trucks made frequent stops at the residence.”

That last line brought a smile to my face; often times wondering what the UPS delivery fellow thinks about some of the items delivered to my house. Last year Lucy found a good deal on one burner butane stoves, something which would be a benefit to anyone without power after a hurricane or some other natural disaster; 420 stoves were delivered and stored in our garage over a period of a couple of weeks, all bought by members of our church throughout the general metropolitan and suburban areas of Houston.

Lucy didn’t make any profit on the sale; just part of her “calling” as Preparedness Leader. The second time the UPS fellow showed up to deliver a couple of hundred stoves he was surprised to find the first batch were no longer in the middle of my garage.

There was another order, around 500 self charging flashlights that required only a few “shakes” to create a beam regardless of the self contained battery being charged. In the Fall Lucy has a connection with Hershey’s Chocolate and hundreds of pounds of chocolate are dropped off at out door.

Then there’s the San Francisco Herb order, which should be just around the corner so the ladies can have all the neat stuff for the holiday baking season. “Hey Lady, are you sure that was Oregano in those boxes?” the DEA would have the dogs sniffing our next order.

Years ago, in the old house, Lucy and several of the ladies from church went in together on a wheat order from Montana. They got a good deal if they bought enough to fill an 18 wheeler; no shipping charges and bulk rates. I’ll never forget the look on the driver’s face when he pulled up in front of my house. He just knew he’d gotten the address wrong, maybe the wrong city or something as I assured him that he could start off loading onto my driveway. My neighbors must have had some thoughts as well, “Always heard those Mormons kept a good stock of food on hand; but this is ridiculous!”

Lucy had all the ladies come by and pick up their wheat and by ten that night it was all gone; again the neighbors had to be scratching their heads wondering if we had put in a cellar or maybe a space ship had beamed it up.

Who’s to say that having a book shelf with thirty bottles of Tunguska instead of books is odd? I almost forgot, this past month Lucy finagled a deal on 16 brand new in the box Ham radio sets, all sold at cost to folks who she lined up to be “block captains” in her Emergency Preparedness job at church. She had them all take and pass the Ham test just in case all the phone lines are down, the cell phones networks crash and folks need to stay in touch.

Thank goodness the frozen berry order gets dropped off over by the church; now that gets a little hectic getting folks to pick up cases of Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) strawberries before they start to thaw. My freezer has enough frozen blackberries to last another year on top of my Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. That’s not an advertisement, just an explanation of how I like to use the berries.

I heard another black ops helicopter fly over and I think my phone’s been tapped. Did I mention that my locksmith supplies are dropped off by UPS?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Locksmith Ethics Class

I finished off my eight hours of State of Texas mandated continuing education locksmith classes; one block of instruction was on Ethics. This was, for all practical purposes, the same class information that was given two years ago; even taught by the same person.

We were broken down into smaller groups and situational problems were handed out in order to talk about and come up with acceptable or ethical solutions. One group of locksmiths were told that a large industrial account wanted to install new locks that would make it more difficult for their employees to duplicate keys. The locks that were being replaced were high quality and almost new.

The ethics question involved whether to simply install the new locks and, after removing the hardware that was like new, keep those locks for later resale. If you kept the locks and resold them would you sell them as new or as used.

Several answers were given which indicated proper ethics; mention to the person who authorized the job that the old hardware technically belonged to the company and did they wish to keep the old locks or did it matter, giving them a chance to approve your taking the profitable items as free inventory. If given permission to take the locks and eventually resell them to make sure they were sold as used; but since their quality was that of new to include a full warranty of parts and labor.

The best answer came from a fellow against the back wall, “Charge them a dispersal fee for hauling the old locks off just like they do when you buy a new set of tires or a new battery”. Most of the room began a healthy belly laugh that rolled around the room; I was taking notes.

I can see myself carefully removing pieces of a broken ignition switch, one the thieves destroyed while attempting to steal the vehicle. I’d take a brand new switch out of the box, code the switch to the customer’s key, put everything where it’s supposed to go and lastly, put the broken ignition in the box to be tossed later on.

“Sir, your bill comes to $170; that breaks down to $25 travel charge, $50 to extract the broken ignition switch, $35 to match the new switch with your existing key so one key fits all the locks, $45 for new ignition switch parts and $15 dispersal fee on the old ignition switch.” I might do that some day down the road, as a joke and only with a customer with a really good sense of humor, and then only when I’m sure he’s not armed.

Jury Duty Scam Alert

Most of us take summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced. I received this alert from through my email from the Retired Houston Police Officer’s Association.

The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant.

Give out any of this information and bingo; your identity just got stolen. The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois, and Colorado.

This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they're with the court system.

NEVER give personal information over the telephone

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Call If You Need Help

Teflonman posted a video clip from the Leno Show, a kid calling 911 for help with his math. It reminded me of a similar story that I’d shared back in December of 2005, one that my friend Richard Sutton sent to me. I posted it under the title “The Wooden Box Telephone on the Wall”; but I think it was originally called. “Information Please!” (Author Unknown)

This beats the garbage; scratch that, this beats the vein popping, anger riddled article I was about to post, another rant about how much I despise the mandatory continuing education classes that I have to take in order to obtain a renewal of my locksmith license. Each time I’m forced to take these classes my blood pressure goes off the scale and I start venting. Thanks to Teflonman for providing a means of escape.

I still have Saturday and my Ethics class, put on by the State of Texas, to deal with. A friend of mine told me via the comment section that it’s a little like McDonalds teaching a class on nutrition; that about said what needs to be said, all the same it would be a shame to waste what I wrote this afternoon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

When We Were Fab

Saturday I posted about my visit to the Houston Police Academy and my desire to obtain a copy of a photograph of my graduating class. I’d attempted to obtain a copy via the curator of the police museum but was unable to contact him so I took my camera with me today and dropped by just long enough to take some pictures. Click on the images to enlarge them.

The top photograph is Class #8; “Really Old Heads”; notice the “suicide straps” still being worn as part of the uniform.

The next photograph is Class #52, “Old Guys” ( my class ) I’m on the second row, forth from the left.

The third photograph is the last class to graduate, I think they’re around 191; but they changed the numbering system, “Rookies”

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The "Ladder" Day Saints

Every now and then my sense of humor takes over at odd times; this morning’s Ward Council Meeting was another in a long line of muffled laughter. Once a month the leaders of our auxiliaries meet to coordinate our efforts; Sunday School, Young Women, Young Men, Missionary leaders all sitting in the Bishop’s office.

We found out that one of our members had injured himself by falling off a ladder and that he needed several stitches ( actually they used staples ) to close the wound on top of his head. He also had severe bruises on his arms and legs which might require additional x-rays to determine if he broke any bones.

“We never owned a ladder until this week when Todd decided to do some home repairs.” She went on to explain how he was up on the extension ladder without anyone down below to steady it, that he was on the second floor deck using a power washer which made the wooden deck slippery. The ladder slid out from under him and he came down on it; becoming a Ladder Day Saint. ( slight modification of original wording ) lol

We went through the agenda items, planning for the Primary presentation in November, Youth activities, the Christmas party; hard to imagine that Christmas is just around the corner.

“I still have the Santa suit!” Ron Keller chimed in letting the Bishop know that he had already served in that capacity and was more than willing to permit someone else the honor.

Later in the meeting we learned that our Ward had volunteered for a service project, something which needed “semi-skilled” labor; painting, grout repair, minor carpentry and things like that. Apparently this was a city wide project which required quit a bit of planning and was to take place in the middle of October.

“Todd has a ladder!”, Marci blurted out, half way smirking at the thought of her husband home recuperating from his injuries while shaking her head. “I’m sticking with my claim that the ladder was made in China too…”

Here’s hoping that Todd gets to feeling better soon and that he finished power spraying the house before the "defective" ladder from China went out from under him. Todd’s a big guy, maybe he can use the Santa suit that Ron has.

The picture has little if anything to do with anything except the image was used on the front of our Sunday program last week. It’s the front page of a bible from 1772 with some personal hand written notes along the top edge.

I thought it was worth having so I asked Brother Conners, the fellow who prepared the program, to send it to my email address. It arrived in a format which my computer didn’t recognize so I had to download a conversion fix so that my Window’s XP version of Word could make it work.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

An "Old Guy"

When I was a young police officer we used to call them Old Heads; but it still translates the same. The other day when I went to the Houston Police Department’s pistol range to update my concealed handgun card, located next to the police academy, I showed up a almost an hour early for the next “shoot”. The range officer advised that I could either wait at one of the picnic tables or I could wander over to the academy where there were vending machines and air conditioning.

It was a tough choice, sit around and drip sweat in the heat of the day or spend some time in the air conditioning of the academy. When I walked up to the main entrance to the academy one of the cadet classes was on the move and on the way out the door I was about to enter. I got a very formal, “Good Afternoon, Sir” from each and every cadet, just short of a salute and I wasn’t even in uniform. Just think how that must sound to some poor schnook not familiar with a semi-military environment, almost as stunning as the toilet seats that snapped to attention in the movie, No Time for Sergeants; well maybe not that extreme.

I enjoyed a walk down memory lane as the halls are lined with photographs of all the police academy classes. The changes in uniforms from different times was interesting, the old “suicide straps” that at one time were standard issue so many years ago, the different uniforms and combinations to indicate each bygone era.

I found the photograph of Class 52, my group; noticing that it was much closer to the front of the long hall than to the end; was it that long ago? I studied the faces of my fellow academy members and tried to recall their names without looking down to the listing below the picture. While momentarily distanced from the present I heard a voice from upstairs behind the railing directed towards me.

“Which class were you in? I turned to see who was asking; an instructor, as set apart by the familiar red staff t-shirt. He appeared to be about my age, maybe a little younger as he had a little salt and pepper on each side around the hair line.

“Fifty Two,” pointing to the photograph. “How about the young fellow there on the third row?”, where a fellow resembling my formerly youthful image was captured in time.

“When did you retire?”, an assumption since neither us knew each other.

“A little over fifteen years ago.” I don’t think he would have guessed that much time could have elapsed as I don’t look all that old, at least I don’t think so.

“Wow, you really are an Old Guy. I have fifteen years to go until retirement.” I looked at him again, putting the conversation into context and appreciating the fact that we each travel our paths at our appointed times.

I didn’t have my good digital camera with me; only the one that is included with my cell phone. I took a couple of snap shots and wondered if the quality of the image would justify sending it to the My Album section of my telephone account; I’ve yet to waste any money sending pictures from my phone to that account. I think I’ll return later in the month with my good camera and take a picture worth posting; until then you’ll have to take my word on it, I was young once upon a time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pistol Qualification Time

Here in Texas we can have a concealed weapon as long as we can show a proficiency with the weapon and a background check doesn’t turn up any skeletons in the closet. If you happen to be a retired police officer the process is a little easier; just show up at the police pistol range with your favorite pistol and put some holes in the target. They even supply a box of ammunition; how easy can they make it?

I just had to update my driver’s license and noticed my concealed weapons card was due. Yesterday I had a locksmith job over by the police academy so I decided to take advantage and kill to birds with one stone, or is that kill a silhouette with fifty rounds of lead, not much difference as long as it dies a slow and painful death.

I had my Star M40S&W in the center console of my truck; but had never fired it at the police range, at least not as a retired officer qualifying for a permit. All the other times I’d used my duty revolver, the one I carried on the street. I filled out a form and the range officer entered the information into the computer while asking me if this were the only weapon I was going to shoot. I explained how I normally would have shot the 357; but this would have to do since it was in the truck and it was convenient since I was already there.

I shot five rounds from the 25 yard line and they all hit the middle of the target. I think the purpose of going back each year isn’t so much to see if I can hit the middle of the target; it’s more to see if I still know how to aim it down range so as not to shoot myself, one way or the other I managed to convince the range officer I still had my faculties and might not be a danger to the public were he to sign off on my card.

The rest of the box was spent, mostly by the range officer trying to figure out why it was jamming up now and then; but I think he mostly wanted to just shoot my pistol. He had a good grouping slightly high and to the right of dead center, even when he was in rapid fire mode.

I went home with the idea that the jam ups were caused either by a worn slide return spring or by a worn out magazine. I got on the internet and discovered that it would be difficult to obtain parts for the M40; but that there was a place I could order a replacement magazine, it will be shipped out and I will have it in a couple of day.

Later in the week, maybe today if I get a job close to the pistol range, I’ll take my revolver and shoot some rounds into the target and have another piece of paper faxed over to the Houston Police Department’s Personnel Division. I’m supposed to fill out another form and send it off to the State of Texas, same as last but with this year's date. Unlike a few gun enthusiasts; shoot, I reckon the next time I have to take my pistol out will be when my card requires another update.

I had a conversation with a friend from church and was telling him about my having “qualified”, a loose interpretation if ever there was one, and how I keep my concealed handgun permit up to date. He told me that if someone wanted his car he’d let them take it rather than risk his life or have to take the life of another. I figure if the criminals are less sure of who might be “packin”, adding to their risk of being shot while in the commission of their special crime, it might make things safer for the general public.

I’m glad I’m retired; all the same I feel a certain responsibility to remain armed for that unlikely day when my skills might be needed. It would be a sin and a shame to sit back and let the bad guys get away simply because I didn’t bother to keep my card up to date or keep my pistol ready and close. I’d feel even worse if my family was harmed; no, I think I’ll keep the powder dry and the rest of the gun well oiled.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

I’m not at all sure that a good portion of the real world understands that war has been declared on Western Civilization by Islamic warriors. Somehow 9/11 has taken on a meaning, something surreal, as if it never really happened; not only was war declared on the United States, it was declared on all of Western Civilization and has effectively been that way for quite a while, we only noticed we were at war when the skyline changed dramatically. For some, the image has faded and so we must not be at war any more; isn’t that curious?

I suppose we should forget that the World Trade Center was attacked several years before they were brought down by a couple of hijacked airplanes. Just because the building didn’t topple to the ground when a bomb was exploded in the basement, a bomb that was intended to topple the building to the ground, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. The US Cole was attacked; but it didn’t sink and so that didn’t happen either. A train was bombed in Spain killing dozens of folks; but that was just a prank so it had nothing to do with a world wide declared war on Western Civilization; nothing at all. Rockets routinely fall on Israel; but who cares about them, just a bunch of folks who don’t fit in anywhere.

We must not be at war, at least not a global war because that’s what the folks in big media are pushing, that’s what is telling everyone and that’s what the left if pushing. I guess I don’t need the reminder of three thousand people who were killed on September 11th, the twin towers in flames, folks jumping to their death to escape those flames just before the entire structure collapsed covering half of Manhattan in dust and debris; no, it was all a figment of my imperfect conservative memory.

Those in positions of leadership who would pretend that we are not at war should pull their heads out of the sand (or some orifice where the sun doesn’t shine). War has been declared on us and to ignore the reality of that war is to surrender to our enemies; enemies who have continually expressed their intentions to destroy us. But it’s so easy to simply call the President a liar, his top general is nothing but a puppet and so he must be a liar too.

I listened to the partisan questioning of General Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq yesterday. It would seem that quite a few folks would rather believe our enemies than believe anyone invested in the defense of our nation. How this can be is beyond me; a simple minded armchair observer like myself. I can’t use the “simple country lawyer” line; too bad, that’s a good one.

I wonder why I still remember the second airplane crashing into the World Trade Center towers; you know, that war that was never declared on us. I wonder why I have to submit to a search prior to boarding an aircraft if we have nothing to worry about, that the terrorist’s words mean nothing. I suppose the threat of Iran having the capability of attacking with nuclear weapons is all just a hoax, an attempt to keep our military forces in the Middle East. Like I said, I’m just a simple minded armchair observer; the sun is out and there’s no chance of rain, at least not today.

I’d give credit for the photo if I knew who took it. I stole it from David, who was linked through Probligo; in a way that’s credit.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Needed Rhapsody in Blue

I was going to watch the “Da Vinci Code” on the television; but got distracted and the next thing I knew Lucy had her favorites on, Flip This House, or some kind of show involving remodeling houses. Some day I might actually get to watch the Da Vinci Code from start to finish; having caught small portions of it here and there only to be interrupted.

I was catching up with my email, our internet service was interrupted for a couple of days and it took AT&T a while to set up a time for a repairman to find the trouble. It turned out a wire had come loose inside a box at the end of the street. While the fellow was checking all the other connections he rewired the way the cables brought service to our big screen television; how about that, we really do get HD and stereo the way it was supposed to be done when it was first installed.

I got birthday emails from my sister and my brother; I’m officially 57 years old, not 57 years of age. I’m so tired of hearing sports announcers explain how ball players are so many “years of age” instead of so many years old; why is that?

Bonnie gave me a birthday card with a picture of a cat that looked very much like our own Bubba Kitty; quite a bit fatter than Bubba. We showed the card to Jocelyne, our granddaughter who is two years old, not to be confused with two years of age. All night long when she saw the picture she would joyfully shout out, “Bub-bA”, placing extra emphasis on the last syllable.

While going through my email I had iTunes on so I could listen to my Greatest Opera Hits in order to hear Luciano Pavarotti singing Che Gelida Manina from Puccini’s, La Boheme once more; having read a couple of tribute blogs following his recent departure from mortality. With a voice such as his possibly his presence was more of a minor god than of a mortal; oye vey! ( small “lol” for those who know the words )

Lucy’s in there captivated by fancy granite counter top replacements and matching dishwasher, oven and stovetop burners so I decided to listen to some Gershwin; his Rhapsody in Blue to be more specific. I have several versions; full orchestral, small orchestra with piano solo and then for those who have to have it in its purest form I have George Gershwin playing it all by himself; a modern miracle of sorts as it was taken from old Player Piano rolls, fed through a fancy digital recorder and then replayed on a grand piano as if in concert. I’m not sure how all of that was accomplished, only that I enjoy that one the most.

I had a kid in one of my Sunday School classes a few years ago, a sharp kid with lots going in the right direction; but he’d never heard of George Gershwin or the Rhapsody in Blue. That thought bothered me to the point of visiting with his parents and pointing out that they'd neglected part of their duties by not exposing the boy to what I considered basic and mandatory music.

I handed them a CD with a good selection of original Gershwin music; An American in Paris, Rialto Ripples and Rhapsody in Blue among others. I’m not sure if they understood my sense of humor as they accepted the gift, or was it a homework assignment?

I can’t go too long without a Gershwin break, something about his music fills a void better than any other music. One of the first cassette tapes I ever owned was Rhapsody in Blue; still have it hidden away in a storage box somewhere. I used to play it on one of those portable players like most students had to record lectures and take notes, not even stereo as I recall.

When I was away at college I found a treasure on the “Dollar Sale Table”. It was an archived George Gershwin LP; several Player Piano roll pieces, Rhapsody in Blue included. How it got on the bargain table was a mystery and I walked away with my treasure, stolen for only a dollar from those too ignorant and who didn’t deserve to have it.

I kept it for many years, enjoying it once and again until one day a friend of Lucy’s was over the house visiting. The more I learned of his past, playing in jazz bands and his love of Gershwin; I knew that my bargain treasure was intended for his collection. He wept when I gave it to him, understanding how much Gershwin meant; he needed the Rhapsody in Blue more than I did.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Really Neat Stuff

I’m not sure what category to put this under; but it’s a little like the old Mr. Wizard show from the early days of black and white television. Turn the volume up a bit and watch what happens to ordinary table salt when it’s exposed to frequency changes. Oh, yea, put the dog outside during this demonstration.

Welcome Welcome Sabbath Morning

Zane over at Big White Hat wrote, “On the 7th”, a reminder that the Sabbath is reserved for a day of rest. In many ways his observations are on the mark, “America does not know how to take the day off. When we are off work, we work at home. The grass has to be cut. The house has to be cleaned. The errands have to be run. No day of rest. We don’t even know how.”

One of the first comments left to his article hit the nail on the head, “Having that day off gives us a needed perspective on things. Most importantly it allows us to maintain our connection with God.”

I was immediately reminded of a hymn, linked via the title bar, a gentle reminder that the Sabbath is reserved and dedicated as a day of rest. We are instructed in the ways of the Lord and given an opportunity to show our gratitude for all the many blessings, not forgetting the many trials and challenges which mold our character and test our determination to adhere to the commandments.

We had a lesson on this not too long ago and it was interesting to hear the many varied thoughts, interpretations of how to properly observe our day of rest. After a while I got the impression that I was listening to modern day equivalent of the Pharisees, quoting the Bible dictionary, “the tendency of their teaching was to reduce religion to the observance of a multiplicity of ceremonial rules, and to encourage self-sufficiency and spiritual pride.”

I heard one explanation that naps were permitted on Sunday; but that these should not extend beyond one hour, as if some rule of law might be invoked for those terrible sinners with a soft bed. There were issues brought up about whether or not it was okay to go on a picnic and enjoy nature’s abundance, watch sporting events, go out to dinner at a restaurant and the list went on and on until, if observed as offered, about the only things permitted were going to church meetings, singing hymns, reading the scriptures or writing in your journal.

I figured it would be better to have an authoritative response as to what the Sabbath is meant for rather than rely on all the invented limitations that were popping out of the woodwork; I once again referred to the Bible dictionary. Here is the meat of the information; there being many scriptural references given, this should suffice.

“The importance of a sacred day for man to rest from his temporal labors, contemplate the world of the Lord, and assemble for public worship is a major item in person’s spiritual development. Furthermore, decay in the national religious life always follows any tendency toward carelessness in the matter of Sabbath observance. The existence of a weekly holy day is a most important safeguard; it leaves a constant reminder to the individual of his need for spiritual sustenance and his duty before God, and serves as a witness to the world that there is such a thing as revealed religion.”

I tend to go along with the idea that the Sabbath was made for man rather than looking upon the Sabbath as a strict and unyielding task master over man. I think the Lord would be pleased with my efforts to be grateful for a chance to rest from my regular labors, to take a nap, enjoy a special dinner with my family around the table in my house as we share our love for each other; and even enjoy an Astros game on the television, regardless of their chances to return for a post season run.

“And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”
Mark 2: 27

Don’t get me wrong, I find great enjoyment when going to my Sunday meetings, reading the scriptures and writing in my journal (blogging). I hope that the meaning of the Sabbath will overtake our natural lives and cause us to place a proper emphasis on our relationship with God, to acknowledge His hand in our lives and to live in such a way as to one day return to His presence.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Displaced Astros Fan

A couple of months ago Lucy and I went to an Astros game at Minute Maid Park. The first 10,000 ticket holders to arrive were given an Astros blanket, more like a small throw cover for when you might be on the sofa to cover your lower extremities. We noticed the line was long and wondered if there would be enough for when we passed through; there were just enough and we took two of the last ones being handed out.

I sent one blanket off to my dad in Florida, knowing that he’d enjoy having it to go along with his Astros ball cap. I got word from my mom that his old Astros cap was about due for a replacement, going through the wash didn’t help and he insisted on wearing it anyway. I delivered him a new one for his birthday last month and sat with him on the sofa to watch as many games together as would be possible on a short visit.

I should explain that my dad’s version of watching sporting events on television might drive most people to drink. Dad holds the remote in hand waiting for each pitch to be delivered; as soon as the ball passes into the catcher’s glove and it becomes evident that there will be at least a fifteen second delay before the next pitch; he clicks to a different event already in progress. If there are two baseball games and a golf tournament it gets rather interesting as the screen scrambles to keep up with the action.

“Tiger Woods approach shot lands within two feet of the pin. . .”, “There’s a line drive into the Wigginton’s glove ending the threat. . . “Ramada Inn where. . .”, never stopping for a commercial, “Pujols got under that one just a bit and if ever comes down the center fielder will have out number two. . .”, “Woods taps in for another Birdie…”, and that is only the first forty five seconds. I’m glad my dad never figured our how to use the split screen function on his television, assuming it even has it.

I’m not sure how many sports channels are available in his area, six or seven if you count the two ESPN’s, WGN, TBS, FSN and the chance that CBS, NBC or ABC might have something on. Is it any wonder my mom spends much of her time watching television from the comfort of her bed in the other room.

Dad’s eighty one year old knees are going to be worked on sometime in October, that translates to “during the World Series” in sports talk. I can see him in the hospital during his recuperative period holding the channel selector that’s hooked up to the bed; every now and again pushing the wrong button while trying to find something, anything else going on in between innings. The nurse will wonder why the little light keeps summoning her to his room.

Dad’s going to have both knees repaired; staggered within a week to let the first start to heal before working on the other. I remember a tune from a bygone age, a line that went, “…and don’t mess with Mr. In Between”. Pay attention, Doc, “Don’t mess with Mr. In Between!”

Monday, September 03, 2007

John Edwards 'You Can't Choose Not to Go' Has No Clue

One of the important aspects of being an American has to do with the freedoms we are afforded, our right to choose. I read on the Fox News website where presidential hopeful John Edwards would make his Universal Health Care mandatory for every man, woman and child.

“It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.” (emphasis added)


"The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death," he said."

Did I just wake up from a hundred year nap; maybe I missed out on the meeting where American citizens gave up their decision making agency and turned it over to the government. From what I gathered in two simple paragraphs, about the only requirement I see is that we keep an eye on John Edwards and make sure he never gets elected and never has a chance to impose his socialism on the American people. Now, is there anyone else pushing the Universal Health Care package, anyone else we need to keep from destroying America’s most basic rights under the guise of protecting us from ourselves?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

An Attitude of Fasting

I’m quite certain the reason we are given multiple opportunities to learn the lessons we need in order to grow is because we are slow learners. I heard it explained that it takes six times of being told a single thought before hearing it once and, in similar progression, it takes having done a specific task fifteen times to have garnered it as a skill. I add to the list of slow learning processes the attitude of fasting.

I’ve been a member of the Church for quite a while and the first Sunday of each month is set aside for fasting; I’ve known this all the while. I’ve heard plenty of talks on fasting, read articles about fasting by members of the First Presidency and over the years thought I understood a little more; enough to get past the first Sunday without missing a couple of meals.

I’m working on twenty nine years of membership and it might be a while longer before I understand the meaning of the fast; but I’m making progress, slow as I might be. Every now and again I catch a glimpse of the spiritual, the true meaning of the fast.

Last night Lucy and I went to the Outback Steakhouse for our “date night” and during the meal we reminded each other, “tomorrow is Fast Sunday”; all the while enjoying steaks cooked to near perfection along with a baked potato that I consider equal to any desert offered on the menu. I had not really entered into the “attitude of fasting” as we continued our date at the shopping mall.

This morning instead of eating my bowl of oatmeal, a required ritual more than a culinary event, I was reading very personal articles on the internet, blog articles which touched my spirit. One posting in particular touched me to the center of my soul as the writer, a friend only through the invention of the internet, expressed the advent of an anniversary, one which marked the death of her children in a car crash. I recognized my desire to take some of her pain and anguish and have that pain or anguish replaced with peace as can only be obtained when it is given away. This is the purpose of the Gospel, to learn how to move on, not without memories of such events; but to let go of the pain and anguish associated with them and to be at peace within.

It occurred to me, “It’s been all morning and I haven’t eaten”, I was without thought regarding my normal ingestion of substance; instead I was listening to the Spirit instruct me on more important issues. I could do this more often, next month I’ll be more prepared and listen more intently for the promptings of the Spirit.

I had the thought; I do that once in a great while, the thought of how neat it would be to go through an entire Sunday in the attitude of fasting, not just a few minutes or an hour. What would it be like to be surrounded spiritually the entire day, taking in the feelings associated with that higher plain as an open conduit touched my soul? I hope to enjoy such a day; Lucy’s baking a batch of brownies and, as much as that feeling of spirituality is important, the aroma of brownies in the oven has overtaken the spirit.