Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006 Hello 2007

Celebrating the end of one year while ushering in yet another gives us all a chance to take inventory, a chance to redirect our efforts to achieve goals, to repair damages and get on with life. Our hymnbook has a somber selection that we close the year with; although instructed to be sung “fervently”, perhaps “funereal” would better describe the mood.

I’d like to take a moment to wish all my friends a Happy New Year, one that will enlighten their minds, touch their souls and lead them toward an improved version of their eternal spirit. Find the time to express your love to those around you in such a way as to imprint their heart with lasting moments, enough to help take them past any challenges that are placed before them.

Learn to appreciate the tender mercies that are furnished by the Lord, as Elder Bednar so beautifully explained, “. . . as you and I face challenges and tests in our lives, the gift of faith and an appropriate sense of personal confidence that reaches beyond our own capacity are two examples of the
tender mercies of the Lord. Repentance and forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience are examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. And the persistence and the fortitude that enable us to press forward with cheerfulness through physical limitations and spiritual difficulties are examples of the tender mercies of the Lord”.

Ring Out, Wild Bells ( Hymnbook version linked via title bar )

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Special thanks to Esther Anna Lombardi for having posted this poem and making it more accessible on the internet. I found this quote from James Baldwin on Esther’s page, ”You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world...” Perhaps that explains why most of us blog when we could be sitting down watching television. I look forward to reading, to learning and to improving as 2007 presents new challenges. Have a safe and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It’s the End of the World! Again / Still

In the morning news I was reading Rob Gillies’ AP article, “Ancient ice shelf breaks loose” (linked via title bar). “A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of the North Pole, scientists said Thursday, citing climate change as a "major" reason for the event.”

I glanced over the satellite image supplied and came up with multiple possibilities; other than, “A satellite image of the Ayles Ice Shelf in 2005 shows the collapse in the center. Scientists believe climate changes caused the shelf to break and form a new ice island in the Canadian Arctic”. The article failed to mention that NASA was on a tax payer funded mission to discover Santa’s toy factory to prove the “fat man” was in violation of child labor laws through repeated use of sweat shops filled with underage slave labor.

The easy way out would be to accept that the photo actually is a picture of some godforsaken wasteland that could have been used to film Star Wars. That lent itself to the next option; instead of it being a satellite image taken from space, it’s actually a picture of an Empire Storm Troopers helmet left out in the snow years after the filming of Star Wars. Lastly, and consistent with the Star Wars theme; it’s the charred remains of Darth Vader’s head piece. “Luke, you …already… h.. .a. . .v . . . . .e.”; gasping for a last breath before his eyes rolled up in what remained of his head.

Who do they think they’re fooling? Come on guys, next you’ll be telling us that Al Gore’s making another movie, “Unhappy Feet”; all about a bunch of penguins who got their funny looking feet covered with spilled crude oil that destroyed the environment when the pipe line sprung a leak, washed up on their beaches, after all the ice melted, while they were ordering Pina Coladas with those funny looking paper umbrellas hanging over the edge of the glass. May the farce be with you.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

If you aint Texan you aint sheet

Big White Hat posted an article “Above and Beyond” (linked via title bar) where he mentioned the fact that Texans tend to show their pride abundantly, more so than most. I have friend who has fun with the language, transforming simple words like “sheet” into challenges that can only be completed by stepin’ out back; if you get my drift.

My daughter had the bathroom in her apartment saturated with Texas; the floor mat, the shower curtain and even the little hooks that hold the shower curtain on the rod. It was awesome; made me remember ‘bout the feller moved to Texas from Oklahoma. “Okay, so I wern’t born in Texas; but I got here quick as I could.” You don’t hear folks up in New Jersey sayin’ things like that; heck, most folks in New Jersey are lookin’ fer a way to get out of there; no disrespect intended, just facts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Come Fly With Me

What kind of grandparent would I be if I didn’t post pictures? JJ was a perfect gentleman as he made sure to thank everyone who gave him a gift, showing jubilation and excitement with each tear of the wrapping paper. The only pictures of JJ were blurred as he bolted back and forth in the middle of the action. Jocelyne was in awe of the proceedings, not sure what was going on; at least until dinner time. I shared my plate with her and we enjoyed turkey, ham, yams, green beans, dressing, olives, raspberry jelly with pineapple chunks and a roll.

Bonnie taught Jocelyne how to pretend fly, putting on a show for everyone. Lucy’s sister Pat, the “Grand P-Nanner”, called from Hawaii where they were wrapping up a vacation. Jocelyne asked the flight attendant if the new ruling permitting the use of cell phones had gone into effect and then had a brief conversation while in flight.

“Come fly with me, let’s fly let’s fly away. . .

Let’s float down to Peru…

Let’s take off in the blue…

We’ll just fly starry eyed…

Weather wise it’s such a lovely day…

Once I get you up there where the air is rarified…

You may hear Angles cheer ‘cause we’re together…

Let’s fly, pack up let’s fly away.”

Fill in the blanks, change the order and use Frank Sinatra’s voice.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Almost Christmas 2006

It’s almost Christmas, only a couple of hours to go. I spent the evening reviewing articles I’d posted previously and decided to link with them rather than write something new tonight. May the gifts you give be received well, may gratitude surpass greed as opportunities present themselves.

"For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". John 3:16 If this is the one gift you ever receive you have all you need. Merry Christmas!

The Broken Nutcracker Ornament

The Night Before Christmas, GOA

The Truth About Santa Claus
(author unknown)

Two Babes In A Manger
(Author Unknown)

Zuzu’s Flower! Well, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Faux Fur Not Faux

Shoppers were shocked to find that Cuddles, “The Stinky Dog of China”, as it has been advertised, may not be the perfect Christmas gift after all as the rush for unusual gift items reaches its peak. US law leaves loopholes for importing many items made in China and other barbarian nations. Apparently some animals are protected while human beings, which are property of the State, are not. Imported clothing items claiming to be ornamented in faux fur are in fact made from raccoons or dogs that have the appearance of raccoons ( link via title bar ). Chinese clothing manufacturers have recently been exposed for the inhumane manner in which animals are destroyed to obtain their skins.

A watchdog agency tested Cuddles and found that the toy pet’s skin, which officials claimed to be made from the intestines of tortured political prisoners, was in fact made from the entrails of whimpering sniveling humanitarian watchdogs. There have been reports that watchdog members, those who complain about inhumane treatment to animals, disappear and are never heard from again; that is until now. Chinese government officials refused to comment and calls left at the local embassy were not returned.

The hairless mongrel has been sold successfully, primarily in cities where Pit Bulls have been outlawed. A survey of paroled convicted felons established that professional burglars avoided breaking into homes that smelled like they might have a Pit Bull and targeted other unsuspecting homes. Cuddles skin has a slimy feel accompanied by the odor of spoiled hamburger meat left out of the refrigerator too long. Those purchasing the product claim that Cuddles is the perfect pet because it never needs feeding, it’s hairless body never sheds and is easy to find in a cluttered apartment since, as advertisers claim, “Cuddles smells like a Mongolian clogged sewer system”.

The break came during testing when pieces of an ACLU membership card were found in the seams of one toy. Urine from the card was matched to an ACLU attorney’s urine sample left on the Constitution during a recent attempt to subpoena documents that had been shared with terrorist groups, documents that had been classified as Top Secret.

Friday, December 22, 2006

How to deal with telemarketers

A tip of the hat to my friend Andy Ricker for sharing this one.

Turn on your sound and laugh along. Now, click on this link:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hey, Look Up!

Ha, ha; made you look; and anyway, hay is for horses. I can remember pulling pranks like that as a kid. When I was working as a vendor at the Astrodome we would point to an imaginary object on the roof just to see how many folks would stop and fall for the gag.

“Hey, Look Up!” would never work were it not for the remote possibility that something might actually be worth looking at. You might hear the music of Peter and the Wolf playing in your mind; a cautionary reminder never to cry “Wolf” unless there really is one.

Mom used to get us ready for school early in the morning in order to facilitate her getting out the door and on the road to be at work on time. We would postpone and drag our feet while trying to make those last few minutes of comfort under the covers last. One morning in particular she was excited to the point of bursting over as she rustled and jostled us awake. It was even earlier than normal, the skies still dark outside as I reluctantly obeyed the voice jabbering away, something about meteors in the back yard.

It took a while to rub the sleep from my eyes; but I put on some jeans and shoes so I could go outside and “look up”. The sky was unusually clear for Houston and it became obvious why mom wanted to share the experience with us. Meteors were cascading, not dropping here and there, cascading from the sky, not one or two every hour; but so many at a time that it was hard to believe. I’d heard that a good meteor shower would make it appear as if they were falling off an invisible umbrella; that about covers what I was seeing.

I brought that memory forward, having been prompted by my daughter. I get interesting calls from Bonnie every once in a while; this was one of them. “Dad, what year did you see all those meteors; was it November of 1966?” I had to think for a few moments, 40 years having gone by. I’d shared my recollections of the event on more than one occasion, Bonnie having a keen interest in such things.

“That’s about right, why do you ask?” Bonnie went on to explain that she met a fellow who’d taken pictures of “The Great Leonid Meteor Shower of November 17, 1966”. He told her how extraordinary that meteor shower had been; recording 10-15 meteors per second on average and as many as 40 per second at its peak. That’s a phenomenal number when you consider how excited most folks get if they see a single shooting star streak across the night sky.

I took the time to Google ( link via title bar ) that date and read several articles which confirmed my memories as having been note worthy. One article mentioned the Tempel-Tuttle comet that had everyone looking up as it impacted on Jupiter. Telescopes around the world aimed and focused to capture the event, a spectacular splash of color as celestial objects collided for all to see. I suppose it’s not so foolish after all, looking up.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

JJ Has a Credit Card

Justin, my son in law, bought a new wallet and gave the old wallet to JJ. The first thing JJ needed was a credit card so he set about obtaining one. I guess it must be a joint account for his computer game friends Mario and Luigi.

A few weeks ago I helped out by picking JJ up at school where he’s in kindergarten. I’d met his teachers on Grandparent’s Day and they had been told I was authorized. The children were not in their classroom; instead having been on the playground around back. I mentioned that I was there to pick up JJ and the teacher jumped in, “You mean Mario, Luigi or JJ?” as she smiled, knowing how much JJ was enjoying the computer game.

When I was JJ’s age a penny, maybe a nickel or a dime would have been fine. I can see that the world has changed just a bit; five year olds know about credit cards. I better not show him any folding money; he’s pretty good at drawing and the Fed has rules about things like that. I can see the arrest blotter, JJ, counterfeiting, AKA Mario, AKA Luigi. JJ knows his numbers and would be all smiles when they took his mug shot.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Movie Critic Corner

When I was supposed to be growing up, something I've avoided over all these years, my mom would have us help clean the house on Saturday. Depending on which multiple personality displayed for our benefit, we either listened to great music from the old masters or watched poorly done Sci-fi movies while dusting, putting things away and washing dishes. Mom was a big fan of Godzilla and all the funky characters that made up the whole mutated Japanese film genre, a constant reminder of how the world would never be the same after having unleashed the horrors of atomic weaponry. Somewhere between Grieg and Godzilla a movie begs to be made.

This morning I found a movie that mom would have watched while cleaning the house. I joked with Lucy that we might have found somebody’s Master Thesis, “How to make a really bad Sci-fi movie for under a thousand dollars”. The movie’s name, “Out There”, in case you have a friend who owes you money and you want to inflict some extra damage as a warning to other dead beats.

I started watching while eating a bowl of cereal, trying to figure out why the main character looked familiar. It was the same fellow who’d played the lead role in “The Rocketeer”, and so I dismissed the terrible beginning of the movie expecting a turn for the better; I was wrong, it only went down hill from there.

This is the fun part, having invested 15-20 minutes in a bad movie; do you quickly find another, remembering that Saturday programming is marginal at best, or do you stick it out ‘till the end? I hadn’t noticed any swearing, excessive violence or naked bodies that would offend my sensitivities and it would be terrible to wonder how the plot turned out; giving quite a bit of latitude to the definition of “plot”. We watched as big screen actor’s names appeared in odd cameo spots; Rod Steiger, Jill St. John and even June Lockhart, as if Lost in Space hadn’t damaged her enough.

I don’t want to spoil it for die hard Sci-fi movie fans, those who may want to endure 98 minutes of toss salad scripting and plot development; but you might want to have some polka music playing to help get you through this one. As a side note, there are 8 used copies for sale on ( link via title bar ), and the movie was rated with 4 ½ stars by the two folks who took the time to rate the movie. I was afraid to read the comments, lest I see my mom’s name attached, “Great movie to watch while doing the wash” or something close.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Meme

I saw this on the Tigersue’s Jungle ( link in title bar ) and I thought I would do it! Please enjoy it.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate, but I won't turn down eggnog either!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Wraps them absolutely!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? If I ever find it, yes.

5. When do you put your decorations up? About the first or second week of December; but, when I was a kid we bought our tree on Christmas Eve and Santa decorated it after we all went to bed.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Turkey!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Getting a brand new bicycle.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I can still hear my bell ring.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With Old fashioned style glass ornaments mostly. Right now as many unbreakable at the bottom of the tree!

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I love to see the Snow, it happens about once every 10 years here in Houston.

12. Do you ice skate? No.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I wrote a special journal to give each of my grown children that took several months to compile and then have printed and bound.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Being with my family, and the MUSIC!

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Charlotte Rouse

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? We used to write our letters to Santa and place them on a plate with some cookies and milk. The next morning, after Santa had read our wish list, the paper was burnt by Santa’s magic gloves and curled in the middle of the plate.

17. What tops your tree? A star on the small tree and an angel on the big tree.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I think I enjoy giving more now, watching in anticipation as the gifts are received.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Mary
Did You Know ( Donnie Osmond )

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yum, but I don't eat them much anymore.

Now I would love to see what others of you say! Let me know!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Terrorism Closer to Home

I got this video ( linked via title bar ) from my friend Bricks. I consider it a must see for all planning to fly during the holidays; things to be on the watch for at the airport.

Taste Rike Chicken

I read an AP article ( linked via title bar ) where scientists searching for a rare Yangtze River dolphin ended Wednesday without a single sighting have concluded, "We have to accept the fact, that the Baiji is functionally extinct. We lost the race," Pfluger said in a statement released by the expedition. "It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world. We are all incredibly sad."

Interviews with villagers may shed light on the subject, living primarily on a diet of rice grown locally and seafood obtained from the Yangtze. Apparently the White Dolphin, called Baiji, and the Finless Porpoise have been a common meal for years. “They taste rike chicken”, one man responded tongue in cheek but declined to be photographed.

"The situation of the finless porpoise is just like that of the baiji 20 years ago," Wang, the Chinese scientist, said in the statement. "Their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. If we do not act soon they will become a second baiji."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh Rob!

It seems that fiction and reality mimic each other once again; taking note of a story about Prime Minister Blair’s wife having posed for a nude painting at one time. (link in title bar) The news is what they make of it, grin and bare it.

I remember an old Dick Van Dyke Show where Laura had posed for a picture. The artist took considerable liberties as I recall; painting her in the nude, as he’d imagined she might look were she to have posed in the buff. The painting ended up in a gallery around the corner from Rob’s office and there was no mistaking the face that went with the rest of the body. That episode was aired many years ago and the details of the comedy skit are shadows at best; all the same, it made for some interesting television at the time.

I wonder how Eve feels, glancing down from the other side of the veil, with all the renditions, some rather embarrassing, hanging in museums around the world covered only by a fig leaf or totally exposed in the artist’s imagination. Adam thinks for a few moments and tries to console her, “At least this one by Michelangelo’s up on a ceiling where nobody will ever look at it.”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tough Being Peapaw

Here’s a glimpse of what I have to put up with as a grandparent.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Permanent Entitlement Status

Somebody smarter than I am must have the answer to why a Federal Judge has ordered FEMA to continue paying rent for some 11,000 Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees. Mike Snyder of The Houston Chronicle wrote:

“U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington denied FEMA's request for a stay of his Nov. 29 order. He instructed lawyers for FEMA and for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which sued the federal agency, to answer a series of questions and attend a conference in his courtroom Wednesday to discuss compliance plans.”

The problem with imposing mandates such as Judge Leon’s is it creates permanent entitlement status, or at least an open window of opportunity to drain the account of FEMA until it can no longer provide assistance to anyone. It now has becomes possible for those requesting assistance or aid to elevate that request into demands from those offering the assistance.

Were this an individual begging on the street it could be compared to a vagrant standing on the corner holding a sign, “Wil Werk 4 Fod” becoming dissatisfied and walking over to the fellow who just handed him a dollar out of kindness or generosity and putting a knife to his throat, “Hand me your wallet”. Am I wrong or is my brief comparison on the money? (link provided in title bar)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Earn This

Saving Private Ryan was on cable this evening, running through surround sound so it sounded like WWII in the den. I don’t believe in coincidence; instead accepting that those things which I experience have been placed or arranged in order that I might better understand life and all that is associated and pertinent to my eternal progression.

David Fraser was buried this afternoon ( link via title bar ); did we earn the terrible price he paid, the grief his family is going through? Should we as a nation consider how we live our lives and strive to balance the price that has been paid with righteous efforts each day?

In the movie there is a letter read aloud by a compassionate general, the letter was originally written by Abraham Lincoln to console a family for the loss of a son. If you have a chance to listen, those words are as relevant today as they attempt to explain the cost of life and liberty. Private Ryan returned to his family while they grieved for the other brothers killed in combat. I could not help but wonder how the scales of liberty and justice must be weighed at such a heavy cost as David was laid to rest.

I avoided watching a good portion of Saving Private Ryan; the extreme end of realism that they were able to accomplish with modern movie making methods. That having been said; the movie presented those scenes with a purpose that justified having to endure the graphic trials of combat. I made sure to watch the last part where Private Ryan observed the mortally wounded Captain struggle to get his attention, leaning close to hear his dying words, “Earn this”.

The next scene is fifty years later as Ryan visits the grave yard and stands there in humility for the sacrifice of so many making his life possible. I’d written on this a while back; contemplating Ryan’s question, “Am I a good man?” and extending that to my own life. ( I can't hide a link when it is to one of my own blog articles; go figure )

Christ was born on Christmas Day to take up the sins of the world, to become our mediator with the Father. As we celebrate His birth, His life and His death; may we have the conviction of character to understand all that has been done for us.

There are many who would have us believe that because Jesus died for us that all we need to do is leave the loose ends up to Him, that by Grace we will be redeemed and return to our Father in Heaven. While it is true, that not one of us is without sin and that the Grace supplied will bridge the gap between us and God; there is no reason to believe that we should not keep that gap to a minimum. I’m of the opinion that if we listened, really listened, up close to our savior as he hung there bleeding, close enough where we could feel his breath on our ears, we might hear, “Earn this”.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism was in the news recently; the results of several years of study and conclusions based on those studies. I watched an hour long special several months ago which sparked my interest; photographs and x-rays that attempted to pinpoint the intended purpose for such an intricate mechanical device created over 2000 years ago and found at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Greece. I’ve included a link via the title bar.

There must be some ancient maritime code regarding ship wrecks; a standard operating procedure intended to put those ships near interestingly spelled locations. Have you ever heard of a ship wreck found near Fred’s Inlet or Bob’s Peninsula; never, they always go under near a place that only can be pronounced by some guy with a heavy European accent working for PBS network television. He stands in front of the camera holding a piece of barnacle encrusted rust wearing his Gloucester woolen sweater pondering and postulating for a few minutes, wondering what might have happened prior to the catastrophe.

“Captain, the main mast is shattered and it’s only a matter time before all is lost. What say we beach her over there on Smith’s Island?”

“No, that won’t do at all. I’ve checked the charts and with any luck we can be lost for time and all eternity near Antikythera.”

“Antikythera, isn’t that the same place those sailors picked up some plague?”

“I don’t think so, that was Diphtheria off the coast of Syphilis.”

Diptheria, Antikythera; what’s the difference, we’re all gonna’ drown? Maybe if we lighten the load a bit we can make it into port. How about that game boy box you’re playing with?”

“I waited in line for twelve hours to buy this at Homer’s Mart, nobody’s gonna’ Ptolemy to toss it overboard.”


“Bless you.”

“Suit yourself, you’re the Captain; second moon of Mars coming into view, good move! Now all you need is a Solar Eclipse and a planetary alignment to win.”

“Oenoe, in all this excitement I tore a hole in my trousers.”

“Euripides, where?

“Here, right here; Eumenides?”

What’s that line Arlo Guthrie used in his Thanksgiving Day classic, Alice's Restaurant Massacree; “I could sing it for another twenty five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.” One thing’s for sure; in the slimmest of chances that I ever go on a cruise ship vacation, and that’s not high on my list of things I plan on doing, you can bet I will check all the ports of call for odd sounding names prior to boarding.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I Love To See The Temple

This time of year it’s fun to drive through the neighborhood and enjoy the efforts of those who have placed colored lights among the bushes and along the edges of their houses; a Christmas celebration in lights. The childlike state of mind that returns is hard to explain; not quite as spectacular perhaps as the star above a stable so many years ago when wise men came to see a babe born to Mary and Joseph and angels filled the heavens with song, worthy of comparison all the same.

Liberal Common Sense has a post today showing a favorite place she likes to visit, a special moment of reflection awaits each time a candle is lighted there. I noticed she had a link to something called “Grab the Scavenger Hunt Code”; a fun way to share a thread among bloggers. Today’s theme has to do with lights.

Each Wednesday I have a chance to visit the Houston Temple as an ordinance worker. There’s an opportunity for me to appreciate the beauty, both inside and out as lights showcase the structure each night when I leave, having performed some small service for the Lord. Those who enter the House of the Lord learn how important it is to serve one another, to extend the blessings that we may receive, ordinances that improve our lives here and into the eternities and to provide those same ordinances vicariously to our kindred dead. Is it any wonder that we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints place such a high priority to finding who our ancestors are, to appreciate the eternal links we have with them? May the light of Christ shine within each of us as the spirit of service to others becomes more important than our individual desires during this Christmas Season is my humble prayer, in the name of Jesus Chris, Amen.

I’ve included a link (via the title bar) to a Primary song, a simple thought set to music. I recommend listening to it by clicking the option of “words and music” as children teach basic truths of the Gospel.
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 01, 2006

Signs of Getting Older

I’m always breaking unwritten rules of society, talking to strangers while in line at the grocery store and things like that. The other day I was picking up a check for work done at one of my regular car dealerships talking to the young lady in the office. I mentioned that if she ever wanted to get adopted into a family I knew just the one. Her eyes and the shape of her face reminded me of a fellow; old enough to be her father, who just happen to own a different car dealership up in Spring. We had a good laugh as I suggested that she could do a number on him by showing up and calling him Dad.

I happened by that other car dealership this afternoon and mentioned that he might have a daughter running around that he was unaware of; catching him off guard with such a off the wall comment. I explained where she worked and with the close knit family of the car business he knew who she was right off.

On a similar vein, I was shopping at a clothing store a few years back and noticed the young lady ringing up our purchases had a resemblance to a fellow at our church. “If you ever want to get adopted into a family I know just the one. You could easily fit in with the Murphy’s.”

“I am a Murphy!” She looked at me a little bewildered; turns out she was his oldest daughter home from college and working for the holidays. I’d never met her before so it made for an interesting introduction. Every now and again I get lucky.

Last week I was at Subway Sandwich shop for lunch as the young lady put my selection together; the roast beef followed by the Swiss Cheese on whole wheat. She then pointed to something and asked, “Do you want that toasted, Sir?”; but that’s not what my half deaf ears heard as I did a double take and started to laugh.

“Do I want a Soul Sister? What is this; a revisit to the 60’s?” I knew she had to have asked something else as I inquired; still laughing and noticing that the fellow down at the cash register couldn’t contain his laughter either.

The young lady pointed to the toaster oven and made it a point to speak clearly and enunciate each word, “ Do…you…want… your…sandwich…toasted…Sir?” Hearing aids can only do so much; makes for some interesting conversations that never happened.

Lucy and I were at Fry’s Electronics last Saturday and happened to see the movie, Grand Prix, on DVD. The movie came out in 1966 and instantly became one of my favorites. I had wanted to add it to my collection for quite some time; but for years had only been available in VHS format, so when I saw it on DVD on the way to the cash registers I couldn’t resist.

There should be some kind of warning affixed to the movie, “Caution, Do Not Operate Any Motor Vehicles Within Two Hours After Having Watched This Movie!” or some such advice. The 16 year old adolescent rises to the surface and automatically wants to emulate the adrenaline junkies shifting gears and hurling themselves into hairpin turns at breakneck speeds.

We put the movie on and thrilled to excessive noise as all the special effects exploded into our den; the advantage of having a large HD home entertainment center with surround sound stereo. Try as we might, we couldn’t stay awake through the end of the movie; nine o’clock and we were both up past our bedtime, geeze-a-louisa! No wonder my kids make fun of us getting old, hair thinning, can’t see without my Varilux lenses and I think I’ve already mentioned that I can’t hear; even with my hearing aids. The following day we made sure to watch it as a matinee; even taking advantage of the additional special extras included on the 2 disk set.

Last on my list of mind wanderings is a short story that will get this holiday season off properly. Thanks and a tip of the hat to Richard Sutton for sending this to me via email.

A man went to his dentist because he felt something wrong in his mouth. The dentist examines him and says, "That new upper plate I put in for you six months ago is eroding. What have you been eating?"

The man replies, "All I can think of is that about four months ago my wife made some asparagus and put some stuff on it that was delicious...Hollandaise sauce. I loved it so much I now put it on everything --- meat, toast, fish, vegetables, everything."

"Well," says the dentist, "that's probably the problem. Hollandaise sauce is made with lots of lemon juice, which is highly corrosive. It's eaten away your upper plate. I'll make you a new plate, and this time use chrome."

"Why chrome?" asks the patient.

To which the dentist replies, "It's simple. Everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

David Fraser Died in Iraq Sunday

Sometimes the news from Iraq gets too close to home. The Houston Chronicle reported:

“First Lt. David M. Fraser, 25, died from injuries he suffered when the bomb went off near his military vehicle in Baghdad on Sunday. The military didn't provide a hometown for Fraser, who was identified as a Texan.”

That doesn’t say very much so I will fill in some of the blanks. David’s family lives in my neighborhood and he played baseball with my son William. In 1992 David and William played on the Cardinals together, (front row third from the left with hand on his knee on the team photo), a team I sponsored and took to the Dairy Queen for ice cream after some of their games. David went to Westfield High School and was a member of the Big Red Band. I know his parents; not directly related to my grandfather as they are from a different branch of the Fraser clan. I’d sit and talk with them during ball games as we’d vent our frustrations; we’d second guess each play from the stands. My heart grieves for their loss.

I feel bitterness when I contemplate the manner in which the military has been used as a political football while these courageous soldiers defend us from those who would do us harm. It may have started with the Korean War as our concept of winning went out the back door in favor of an honorable retreat. The Vietnam War took it to another level of unfathomable ugliness as a segment of our society decided that it would be patriotic to hope for defeat, to ridicule and deride those serving our country. Instead of an honorable retreat there was a feeling that we as a nation had tucked our tail between our legs and simply walked away.

The Iraq War is an interesting subject in that we went to war, not with the country so much as with the thugs who had used that country to establish tyranny and threatened the world with real or imagined weapons. Those thugs were removed from power; a victory of sorts, and ever since our military forces have been used in an attempt to stabilize the area while the Iraqis’ newly formed government emerges. I don’t see the police action as much different than how troops were used after the end of WWII; except that the enemy in those conflicts was easily identifiable and directly associated with the country which had been defeated, not so in Iraq. The insurgents, call them what you will, make no distinction between killing Iraqis or US soldiers in order to continue mayhem and destruction at any cost.

The means to defeat an enemy who neither wears an identifiable uniform nor represents any particular country has made conventional warfare obsolete. Terrorist units can be anything from a couple of individuals with a sincere hatred for the new government and those who represent the opposition to a well armed and trained underground insurgency maintained by neighboring nation states without the courage to declare outright hostilities. Our troops are in harms way without the ability to wage all out war because they must wait until the enemy has attacked prior to doing battle with them.

Our leaders in Washington have the backbone of a jelly fish and have no intention of taking the fight to the enemy, at least not in any way that might appear aggressive to the rest of the world. It would be terribly unfair for the only world super power to level a country so backward that their only hope of winning is if we walk away. Rather than breaking the enemy’s back and forcing them to surrender we have provided them with a promise that we will disappear as soon as the pacifists, those recently elected to office, calendar the event. In short, the United States of America has lost the will to win, it was lost so long ago that nobody knows what wining feels like.

That’s why I feel bitter and why it is so hard to accept the loss of one of my neighbor’s kids in battle. A fine young man died for those miserable pukes in Washington who can do nothing but pretend to lead, pretend to defend us and all the while they destroy a piece of our nation each time they call for us to cut and run. My jaw clinches as I hold back the words I normally would let fly. According to the scriptures I’m just as guilty for having thought such words; forgive my weakness and backsliding ways, bile does that to me.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Football Pools

One of my blogging buddies, Tony Iovino of A Red Mind in a Blue State, has an interesting proposition that I thought I’d share. I got it through my email and he called it Football Pool for the Troops; but I’ll get to that in a moment, first a little history.

In the early to mid 70’s I was working as a police officer downtown on evening shift directing rush hour traffic. One of my fellow officers drove by while I was in the middle of the street; the last major intersection, Bagby at Walker, that fed onto I-45 north. I always enjoyed that particular assignment because I could make life a little better for those going home as I put my skills to the test; it was fun. It wasn’t a good time to visit so when asked to hand over a couple of dollars I reached in my pocket and gave it to him.

I figured he needed lunch money. He was good for it since we’d known each other for years; anyway, I knew where he could be found. That was on a Friday and the following Monday he came by and handed me an envelope with fifty dollars in it. It turned out he didn’t need lunch money; the two bucks was for a football pool and I’d won a small portion when the score in my box matched, go figure.

Football Pool For the Troops

Bondi & Iovino is sponsoring a Football Pool For the Troops. We hope you'll join in for some fun, and help raise some money for three worthycharities helping our troops!

WHAT- We're keeping the rules fairly simple. Here's what you do: There aretwo NFL games scheduled for Christmas Day: The Philadelphia Eagles at theDallas Cowboys, and the NY Jets at the Miami Dolphins. Guess the totalnumber of points that will be scored by all 4 teams. You don't have to pickthe winners; you don't have to guess the scores of the games. Just tell usthe total number of points you think all 4 teams will score on ChristmasDay. The winner will be the person who is closest. As a tie breaker, choose the total number of points scored in the NBAChristmas Day game between the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat. Email your name, contact phone number and point totals for the NFL games andthe tie-breaker to or
snail-mail to: Bondi & Iovino, Suite 120, 190 Willis Avenue, Mineola, NY11501

or fax to 516 741-8598.

COST- Here's the best part: Your entrance fee is a donation of minimum of$25 to any one of the following three charities: The USO: The USO is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to providemorale, welfare and recreation-type services to our men and women inuniform. The original intent of Congress - and enduring style of USOdelivery - is to represent the American people by extending a touch of hometo the military. The USO currently operates 132 centers worldwide, includingten mobile canteens located in the continental United States and overseas.Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates,Japan, Qatar, Korea, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait. Service members andtheir families visit USO centers more than 5.6 million times each year.

or The American Red Cross Military Members & Families fund,1082,0_321_,00.html
Today's American Red Cross is keeping pace with the changing military. Usingthe latest in computer and telecommunications technology, the Red Crosssends communications on behalf of family members who are facing emergenciesor other important events to members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving allover the world. These communications are delivered around-the-clock, 7 daysa week, 365 days a year. While providing services to 1.4 million activeduty personnel and their families, the Red Cross also reaches out to morethan 800,000 members of the National Guard and the Reserves and theirfamilies who reside in nearly every community in America. Red Cross workersin hundreds of chapters and on military installations brief departingservice members and their families regarding available support services andexplain how the Red Cross may assist them during the deployment.

or Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is constructing a world-classstate-of-the-art advanced training skills facility at Brooke Army MedicalCenter in San Antonio, Texas. The center will serve military personnel whohave been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.The center will also serve military personnel and veterans severely injuredin other operations and in the normal performance of their duties, combatand non-combat related. You can send your check(s)to us, made payable to the charity(s) of yourchoice, at Bondi & Iovino, Suite 120, 190 Willis Avenue, Mineola, NY 11501,or you can donate online and email a copy of the receipt to

WHEN: Please have your entries in by Friday, December 22, 2006.

PRIZES: Grand prize is dinner for two at the reknown Mark Joseph Steakhouse,261 Water Street, NY NY. Additional gift certificate prizes will be given to runner-ups. (All prizes donated by Bondi & Iovino.) Any questions: Call Tony Iovino 516-741-8585 Enter as many times as you like and feel free to pass on this message to anyone you think might be interested!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Contact Number


Total points, both NFL games: ______

Tie breaker: Total Points, Lakers v. Heat: ____

Charity Donation: Enclosed____

Sent by email______

Will Send____

Bondi & Iovino
Suite 120190 Willis Avenue
Mineola, NY 11501516

fax 516 741-8598
Posted by Picasa

Air Force Test

This will drive you nuts!! Have fun! The object of the game is to move the red block around without getting hit by the blue blocks or touching the black walls. If you can go longer than 18 seconds you are phenomenal. It's been said that the US Air Force uses this for fighter pilots. They are expected to go for at least 2 minutes. Give it a try but be is addictive!!

A tip of the hat goes to my friend Richard Sutton for sending this to me. File this one under fun and frustration; best I could do was a little over 5 seconds, so much for the friendly skies.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Almost There

Most of the work in the dining and living rooms is completed; at least enough that we didn’t have to have our Thanksgiving on the front yard lawn. The large pieces of furniture are back where they belong with the exception of two small book cases that will remain in the garage until all the quarter round has been installed. The floor guy is supposed to come by Saturday to finish out all the little things and then buff the floor once more.

I spent some time in the garage cleaning out junk to surprise the garbage men on Monday. I can now put my car back where it belongs; a major accomplishment seeing as both my wife and I are pack rats. Once I was able to see the floor after having stored a goodly portion of the house during renovations I vacuumed the oriental rug I park the Beamer on. The fabric has quite a bit of damage, water rot and stains, too much to permit its use in the house; but makes for a classy floor mat under the Z. Roxie could care less as long as it doesn’t interfere with her catching a few Z’s.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

I’m not sure how it all came together but it did. I’ll see if I can back up a bit an look at the pieces. The house was hit by Tor’s Nado, Sue’s Nami and then just for fun we tossed in a few of Gren’s Nades.

Lucy had asked me to pick up some individual bottles of water to put in the ice chest as an alternative for those who might not want canned drinks. I was out and about and stopped at Sam’s where I got two cases of Ozarka; the smaller size for our guests and the 32 oz size that I keep in my work truck. While I was at it I bought a case of Sprite, a case of Root Beer, a case of Orange, a case of Mountain Dew and a case of the old fashioned small glass bottled Coke. I new we’d just bought several cases of Dr Pepper and that would give everyone a chance to find something to their liking. Lucy had a fit when she heard that I’d bought case lots instead of six packs; that’s the only way Sam’s Club sells things, they’ll eventually get used. If that’s the worst trouble I get into I’m not in all that much trouble.

I mowed, edged and swept the yard while William trimmed the hedges back into shape. He was in an awkward position clinging to a small outcropping of roof and bending down to clip the tops of some bushes when the trimmer ate the electric cord and blew the fuse box. Normally that’s not such a big deal; fix the extension cord, tape it up and reset the tripped fuse. My garage is full of all the furniture that used to be in the living and dining rooms with the fuse box on the other side against the back wall. William had to figure a way through the maze. I knew he’d done it when I heard the table saw kick back into action; a delay the floor guy had not anticipated either. The progress chart wasn’t exactly stellar at this point.

I washed all the cars and trucks just to have something to do. ( Making sure you’re paying attention ). I like to drive the little green Z3 when I pick my daughter up at the airport. I think it’s a misdemeanor to drive such a neat car in public dirty; folks should get a crick in their neck doing a double take as I zip past admiring the emerald jewel. I hope that police officer is okay; the one who was chasing me and lost it in that curve.

The hardwood floors were supposed to be completed last Saturday; yea, right. The last board was put down around 8:30 Wednesday night. They look great and once the base boards are painted we can tack down the quarter round. Most, not all, of the trim work has at least one coat of high gloss paint and the walls will need more work to cover the smudges and spots of glue the workmen left. We ended up putting a third coat in the living room, it being such a light color. The overall effect is hard to explain; but it starts with a smile forming in the corners of my mouth and takes over my entire face.

I picked Bonnie up at the other airport, Hobby, the one on the far side of town because there were no flights into IAH that would work with her narrow window of opportunity. The line of cars waiting on the arrival side was long and slow. Bonnie called just as I was within 5 minutes of the door; awesome timing. She was in the car with me by 10:20pm and we headed home via Taco Cabana where she picked up a late night snack.

This morning, around 5:00 Lucy started the baking; first the small ham and then the 21 lb turkey. Then she found a way to do a green bean casserole with French Fried onions on top, yams with miniature marshmallows and a sprinkle of brown sugar. I wandered out an hour later and started painting the base boards until my back told me to find something else to do. William helped me move all the furniture back from the various locations around the house and the garage. We’d purchased a bunch of felt pads to stick on the bottom of each piece, protecting the new floor from scratches and making it easier to slide them into position; that was pretty slick. One piece, a huge solid oak book case combination entertainment center and desk was too heavy and we enlisted the help of my Bishop and his son since they live just a few doors down the street.

Once most of the main items were moved back Bonnie helped me unhook the temporary office we’d set up in the kitchen nook so it could be placed back in the living room. The computer with all those wires and cables was taken down and then William and I moved the desk and book shelf, the fax machine and put everything back together in the living room. For some reason each time we hook the wireless modem up I have to show the computer the Lan Driver Disk or it refuses to acknowledge we have one; not a big deal and I had it ready as soon as the power came on. The speakers came to life and “Wa-ha” ( my only John Wayne impersonation; be glad for that, Pilgim. ) everything was working. I get a much better signal on the wireless since it’s directly below Bonnie’s bedroom; a good reason not to leave the office in the kitchen nook.

Lucy was in the kitchen all day as the clock ticked closer to 3:00, the time we had announced for diner. I suggested that she might want to jump in the shower and get dressed while she suggested I drive down to the local Stop and Rob to buy a couple of bags of ice for all that soda, the cases of soda that needed to chill down. William was carting off boxes of junk to be stored out of sight; putting them in the garage where there was now plenty of room. Some day I may get to put my little green Z back inside; hopefully before the next Thanksgiving diner.

We took our annual picture of the kids sitting together; a real trick as they all are grown and have lives that take them here there and beyond. They left the grand children with us so they could all enjoy a movie together; something of a tradition in and of itself. We have the Disney movie, Cars, playing for them while I write.

One last thought, not really associated with Thanksgiving. I enjoyed one of the small bottles of Coke yesterday; it having been naturally chilled by the night air, while doing the preparation work around the house. Instantly I was reminded of an old friend I would visit while working patrol, Joe Bicel. I think that’s how he spelled his last name; anyway, he owned a small liquor store and I would enjoy talking baseball with him. He knew all about Houston’s baseball history, the Buffs and the St. Luis connections went way back as he’d tell me about different ball players he knew or had played with. Joe had an old fashioned Coke refrigerator, the kind that you had to reach down into as the bottles were stacked horizontally under the sliding glass, similar to ice cream chests. He kept the temperature turned so cold that when the bottle cap was removed, the top third of the bottle instantly turned to a slushy ice. These replica bottles don’t have quite the same look, feel or taste; but that’s the first thought that came to me. Joe, thanks for the baseball stories and for the ice cold Cokes, thanks for making my patrol duties more enjoyable and, if you’re still walking around on this old earth, thanks for being my friend.
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Trip In Time

Here’s a tease, one chapter from something I’ve been working on. This is a little Sci-Fi piece based on the scriptures. What’s that generic disclaimer, the one they put at the end of every movie, “The characters found herein are fictional; any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental…” That might be true for most works of fiction, then again… Click on the title bar to link with The Blue Marble posted to Stern’s Stories.

“And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.” Ether 3:4
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Justin Tracy Has Talent

My son in law has another tune he’s recorded and wanted to share before putting together an album of his original work. Give it a listen and let him know how you feel about his efforts. I might be a little biased; but I think he’s got a pretty good sound. ( Click on the title bar ) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wood Flooring Going In

If a picture's worth a thousand words then this is a mouthful. Sometime Monday it should all be in. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

And he was an honourable man . . .

Jahn has an interesting political treatise that’s worth taking a look at, a chance to read between the lines as promises are voiced from those in power. ( linked via title bar ) It made me think of a similar passage written many years ago.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Caesar answer’d it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest – For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men-- Come I speak in Caesar’s funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Brutus says he was ambitious; and Brutus is an honourable man. He hath brought many captives home to Rome Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? When the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious: And Brutus is an honourable man. You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And, sure, he is an honourable man. I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause witholds you then, to mourn for him? O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me."

Some lessons are worth repeating; reading between the lines is an art worth knowing, thanks and a tip of the hat to Jahn.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Progress is being made

The bulk of the painting in the dining and living rooms has been done. The picture shows what it looks like as reflected in the mirror. The darker color on the reflection more accurately shows the deep burgundy color where as the flash of the camera on the near panels makes it look more like a standard red. The living room, what we use as our office normally, shows the light tan, almost a mustard color which replaced a dismal brown for way too long. We’ve been painting all the trim work which should be done sometime in 2012.

The floor guy started the leveling process today and will put a finish layer on before laying down the wood floor either late tomorrow or the next day. It should be a done deal by the weekend when we can move all the furniture back to where it belongs. This is starting to look the way we dreamed it could, awesome.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

Jocelyne Enjoying an Apple and Music

My granddaughter is visiting with us this afternoon, making the most of some apple slices and sitting in my favorite chair by the computer. Jocelyne likes iTunes with the never ending graphics picture show that accompany the music; can’t say as I blame her either.

The house is upside down at the moment while we are tearing out the carpet in the front two rooms prior to putting in hardwood floors, painting walls and new window coverings. With any luck it should be done (*) before Thanksgiving. ( see history of I-45 the Gulf Freeway 1960 - 2006 ) We put all the furniture around the rest of the house, a huge solid oak bookcase in the den now at the entrance to our bedroom; we moved the Lane Chest to the foot of our bed to make room for the bookcase. The computer desk and all that goes with it are in the kitchen nook along with some shelves I made for canned goods. The other book case/desk is in the den behind the love seat against the wall where the stairs lead up to the second floor. The antique desk, maple hutch and sewing cabinet are in the garage along with two more oak book cases. It’s almost as much fun as packing up for a move except we get to stay once all the remodeling work is done. That will make it worth while.

The fellow who’s putting in the flooring should be here anytime to double check our measurements so we can pay for all that fancy wood, Amendoim hardwood, that we set aside at the store. I think that’s how it’s spelled. This should help with allergies and make it easier to keep clean all at the same time.
Posted by Picasa

The Electoral Process

The Electoral Process
A Trial of Faith

Last week I wrote concerning my inability to understand why some folks chose not to participate in the electoral process. ( link via title bar ) I got plenty of email and comments explaining their positions, some of which might be valid. I would accept these were it not for my deep rooted belief that it is each individual’s solemn responsibility to figure out a way to make our form of government work. We have precious gifts from God which proclaim the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and we must have faith in ourselves, our neighbors and in our Father in Heaven in order to “preserve us a nation”.

I wrote an article back in May, Act As If Ye Had Faith, where I included the closing argument in front of the jury from the movie The Verdict. I continue to believe that those sentiments apply to nearly every aspect of the human condition.

“In my religion, they say, “Act as if you had faith; faith will be given to you.” If we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice.”

To quote from an email I received, “Unfortunately, for so many in this country the political antics of our “Congressional Leaders” have become a mockery of a great and honorable system. For many folks I know there is great confusion and concern for the big picture more than concern for the individual running for office. Many people truly feel their vote no longer counts. Regardless of who is elected and regardless of what they may promise, little is delivered.”

It is true, a goodly percentage of those in elected positions have no intention of serving those who put them in office; having fallen into the trap of elitism and glorying in the spotlight they presently command. My purpose in writing is to remind each individual of the vision, that difficult to define quality which lighted the fires of independence in our Forefathers, enough to risk everything they had in pursuit of their vision.

Borrowing from Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” exhortation, “. . .it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

In the Book of Mormon I am reminded of an important discourse on Faith:

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
5 And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:4-6

The war we are already engaged in does not come in ships to blockade our seaports or wear the King’s uniform as they march through our streets. Our enemy has been born from within, an insidious thief who steals our dreams through taxation that are used for wealth redistribution rather than for the common defense. These robbers diminish our hope and faith in the foundations established as our founding documents become flexible interpretations for an activist judiciary. Those elected by the governed follow a set of secret combinations to achieve permanent positions of power and depend on our lack of resolve to correct and remove them from office. We simply complain and go on with our mundane existences.

We cannot pretend that all the corruption that has tightened its grip on our government will go away or that it doesn’t matter since the problem is too big to fix. We are fighting for our way of life. “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The No Vote Cop Out

The No Vote Cop Out -or-
I’ve never been invisible before

I read about some folks who didn’t vote this last election; claiming some kind of new found freedom from within that transcends the injustices that might be imposed by the regime change. One person I know only as
kylben, wrote that he’d finally achieved some magic plateau of freedom and had removed himself from the fray by not voting. He was not sanctioning another person to run his life, having risen above that. ( link via title bar ).

This reminded me of a scene from the movie Little Big Man where the blind Grandfather, while under attack by the mounted soldiers, is led to the safety of the river; being told that since he didn’t see the soldiers in his visions it means he’s invisible.

“I’ve never been invisible before” the old Indian smiles and laughs as he walks gingerly to the river. The soldiers who are destroying everything and shooting everyone ignore him completely. “My heart soars like an eagle.” This works great in the movie; now let’s try to remember that movies and reality sometimes don’t make for a good fit.

There is a difference between standing on grand principles which govern individuals to lead lives that permit inner peace such as those taught by our Savior during his ministry and those responsibilities which are associated with good citizenship here in the United States of America. The freedom or peace which kylben claims to have found can be achieved anywhere and is not dependent upon any form of government. The collective success or failure of our country depends on the concerted efforts of each citizen to express his/her opinion regarding the running of the country at the polls.

I read where a concert pianist in communist China was incarcerated for many years as a political prisoner; his crime, playing music which was deemed unacceptable in that communist country, music that had its origins in Western culture. The time spent in his prison cell did not deprive him of his music as he pictured the floor as his personal piano keyboard, practicing each piece that was recorded in his mind until his eventual release.

The human spirit has the ability to rise above any and all challenges regardless of a particular religion. It is my belief that the Comforter or Spirit is a gift from God, a gift which will lead to an endless progression while in mortality and into the eternities; that “peace “mentioned in the scriptures.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

The responsibility to voice opinions and desires through the process of electing fellow citizens from among us is not to be taken lightly. We must decide the direction of our country one vote at a time; call it the “agency” of a nation. I have written on this subject previously, that our country was the Lord’s gift to provide a land where the government reflected the desires of the governed. With the acknowledgement of divine intervention in the affairs of men go some fairly straight forward warnings not to abuse or neglect the requirement to be a righteous people. There are many references in the Book of Mormon concerning this land as the land of promise and also the obligation of this people to live in accordance with God’s will.

“And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.” Mosiah 29:27

The voice of the people mentioned in that verse implies that those placed in positions of leadership are the result of having been voted into those positions; to esteem that responsibility with such little regard sends a message to our Father in Heaven, no different than turning away from his teachings to follow the commandments, a sin of omission, if you will, for not taking your stewardship of citizenry and magnifying that responsibility.

We are perilously close to a point in time where the voice of our country is evenly divided; the one side espousing a secular independence from God and all things holy while the other remains constant in obedience to the commandments mentioned in the scriptures. The idea that it doesn’t matter who is elected to represent us as a people, that the damage inflicted on the governed or good that can be accomplished while in positions of power is not only incorrect; but could be considered a statement of ingratitude to those who fought and sacrificed to establish this nation. In similar context, the decision to refrain from participating in basic civic duties, voting being central to that purpose, sends a message to our Creator that we no longer desire His blessing in support of our nation.

I cannot accept the false premise, “I’m above that, I’m already free and nothing they can do will in any way shape my destiny or my peace.” In case you missed my point and without stepping too far into the mire, “What a crock!”

Many years ago my wife and I tested the waters of multi-level marketing, with some small degree of success. It was important to invite others to become part of our operating base, either as retail customers or as independent distributors to increase our overall production. I’d invite folks to share a dream, something which would motivate them to spend additional time working, to build a business of their own. They would provide me with the “carrot” that would be held out in front, something to remind them that all the extra effort was worth it, that they were building on their dreams.

I had one fellow, a friend from church who seemed like a sharp and driven individual. I asked him what his dreams were; perhaps a nicer house, a new car in the driveway, vacations that didn’t require having to stay at a relative’s house in the spare bedroom and things like that. Instead I got a “crock” answer; “Whirled Peas”, I like that bumper sticker, something about wanting to share the Gospel with the rest of the world. The fact was he didn’t want to admit that he had material desires that might challenge his poorly thought out strategy for accomplishing worthy goals that would improve his financial edge and provide for his family. He gave me a smug “holier than thou” blow off and went his way. I have news for you; it’s a lot easier to help others if you have the ability to provide those materials necessary, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

I’m afraid the “I didn’t vote, I’m above that now” response to a clearly defined civic duty is nothing but a cop out. “I’m at peace with the world and all my efforts to help elevate them from the hole they are in”, requires that everyone wear washable brown shoes. We are responsible for thoughtfully preserving a structured society that will continue to bring down the blessings of our Father in Heaven, anything less leads to that deplorable state which removes those blessings. You have a responsibility to vote for those who will more closely follow the same high ideals that you have chosen for yourself, even when the choice may only be for the lesser of two evils, that choice must be made.

I failed to mention that I originally was led to kylben’s article via Old Whig’s Brain Dump. I send my thanks and apologies to Al for the oversight.

I’ve submitted this as my entry for the next Carnival of Liberty which supports independent ideas and philosophies.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Being Green

Kermit the Frog was proud of being green, an unpretentious pride that thoughtfully explained his acceptance of reality. Being green is another way of saying that your surroundings are new, that you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone and raised the stakes to another level. The scriptures refer to it as being teachable, as a child subordinates his/herself in order to grow.

I had the opportunity to hear from one of the newly called councilors of the Houston, Texas Temple over the weekend at our Stake Conference. I happen to know the man, John Price; having met him while working at the temple on my regular Wednesday evening shift. He mentioned that the new Temple Presidency was green; something that should be of comfort to new converts to the church, his membership going back quite a few years. He didn’t mind admitting that he needed to learn, to progress; a reminder that it doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you’ve been a member of the church, the learning process goes on forever.

I was reminded of the first time I was asked to talk in front of the congregation, a fairly new convert. I wondered to myself, as I prepared during that week, what I could say to anyone who’d been a member longer than I’d been, what scripture I might read that they hadn’t heard before. Back then there was something called a Two Minute Talk, just enough time to blurt out something, sit back down and recover your breathe and get the circulation back in your hands and feet.

While I was studying and preparing my daughter, Bonnie, was playing with one of my police shirts. She was a little over a year old at the time and the long sleeve blue shirt reached to the floor as she walked around sporting a smile for having found a treasure. She had fun placing the “PD’s” in various places; middle of the sleeve, front pocket or anywhere other than on the lapel where they were supposed to go. I took a picture, a fond memory that hasn’t faded.

I was listening to the Spirit as it guided my thoughts, what I should say in my prepared talk, although I wasn’t the one preparing the talk anymore. I was made aware of my need to learn, my ability to grow into my new found membership in the church; not much different than my daughter being wrapped in the oversized police shirt.

Things haven’t changed much over the years; that moment in time was captured in 1978. I continue to mark my progression, or lack thereof, with each passing day. Each calling in church brings with it challenges that cause me to wonder how I’ve made it this far, feelings of inadequacy remind me that I’m not so bright, not too sharp a pencil as I thought I was the day before.

Wednesday evenings I show up at the Temple to provide whatever service I’m asked. I look forward to the challenges, knowing that I struggle to remember the exact wording of each ordinance, trying to remember to breathe in and breathe out, to relax a little more so my knees don’t lock up on me. Maybe one day, hopefully not too far in the future, I’ll have done those ordinances enough times to where the exact wording is firmly engrained, a reflex beyond error. My guess is that’s the day I’ll be asked to learn something altogether new, another chance to step out of my comfort zone, to become teachable as a little child, willing to submit in order to progress through all generations of time and throughout all eternity.

It occurred to me that the steeple atop the temple is made of copper. The natural oxidation process causes the copper to turn green; how about that! The picture I’ve chosen was taken at dusk, about the same time I report on Wednesdays.

( Blogger was down earlier when attempting to post this via Picasa; hopefully it will only show up once)
Posted by Picasa