Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Quote for 6/29/05

"A petting zoo is no place for an alligator pit."
M+

In reference to a news story that one of my co-workers asked about during lunch. You had to be there.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Quote for 6/28/05

"I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
Stephen Grellet

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Quote for 6/27/05

"My inner-geek keeps getting beat up by my inner-child!"
M+

The fact that we're all geeks came up at tonights Men's Bible Study. That's where this came from.

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Just so you know

I've decided to move my Bullet Awards to a separate blog. Especially after I was about to give myself another self-inflicted one this weekend, but that's another story.
So, I expect to start moving the existing posts over to the new site one at a time until they're finally all there. And of course, I'll start to post more awards on a more regular basis then. And all without continuing to take up space on my sidebar here.
Just thought some of you might like to know that.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Interesting

Found this story on "The Entitlement Generation", and couldn't help reflecting on some of my own experiences with some of the twentysomethings of this generation, without trying to make any generalizations.
I've known a few of these twentysomethings who did act as if the world owes them something. I've seen some of the temps where I work that didn't last a single day. All because they felt that the work that they had been assigned to do was 'beneath' them. Unfortunately for them, they have no way of knowing just what kind of opportunity they passed up when they walked out. But that's OK, because there are usually others who are willing to take the job. And, truthfully, I'd prefer to work with the people who come in willing to do whatever they're assigned to do. Rather than have to worry about some whiner who thinks his/her current status as an Education Major gives him/her some kind of magical "earning power". To be completely honest, they'd go a lot further with some sort of Electro-mechanical Technician or Engineering Major. But they'd still have to start at the bottom. That's just how it is.
Another observation that I've made about these current twentysomethings. They have their own sense of cultural identity. Which is not to say that none of their predecessors had their own sense of who they were. But unlike the twentysomethings of a decade ago, who didn't want anything to do with anyone elses traditions, they seem to respect a lot of the traditional ideas of the generations which preceded them. Still, they don't want to be tied down to those things. Especially when it comes to things like religion and politics. They want to find their own way, with as little guidance as possible. They seem to believe that they can change the world, but they're not quite sure how. Mainly because they aren't quite sure which aspects of their predecessors ideologies they should accept, and which ones they should reject. But, in any event, they don't want to be told by anyone else but themselves.
I think I can respect that. Especially since I've met a lot more who don't have the entitlement mentality, than those who do.

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A decent enough night

Had the opportunity to get out for a few hours tonight/last night with JT and his friend, Loren.
I finally made it to Red Robin. I had The Monster, and was it ever one awesome burger. After dinner, it was off to the South Side for some libations.
We went to a bar called Dee's Cafe. It's a dive, but it has a good atmosphere - and one helluva jukebox. Not to mention, quite a few pretty girls. Even one that actually talked to me. She was impressed by the fact that I'm going through a divorce, but that I'm not as bitter as I could be. Of course, she's never read my blog.
I have to admit, for me not being much of a 'bar' person, it was a decent night out. In part, because JT and Loren have some really great 'bar' stories that they shared, but also because I get out so rarely. This was something that I really needed.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Quote for 6/24/05

"Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny."
Edmund Burke

Lest we forget that bad interpretations of laws are akin to bad laws themselves!

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Unacceptable!

The Supreme Court's ruling on private property rights and the 4th & 5th Ammendments is not only unbelieveable, but completely unacceptable!
It isn't bad enough that I already have to pay rent, in the form of property taxes, to my local and county governments. Now, in their 'infinite wisdom', the Supreme Court has decided that I can be evicted - from my own home - at the whim of those same authorities.
And what's worse, they don't even need a good reason! As long as there's a buyer with enough 'potential tax revenue'. They can take it from me for a fraction of it's real value, and turn around and sell it to the highest bidding developer for much more than it's already worth. And certainly for more than they'd be giving me for it.
But here's the real twist. The judges who handed down the majority opinion are supposed to be liberals. Liberals are supposed to be for the working man, the downtrodden, and the powerless. Yet, in this decision, these judges have sided with the corporate giants, wealthy developers, and the most powerful members of any community. Can you say "hypocrisy" - again?
I am not the kind of person who condones violence, except in extreme circumstances. But I will say this. Rulings such as these are the reason for the 2nd Ammendment.
God forbid that any government agency should ever decided to seize my home. I'll give fair warning right now. When they send the workers, they'd better be wearing Kevlar vests!

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Even more hypocrisy from the left!

That's right! More hypocrisy from liberals.
Karl Rove, a senior advisor to President Bush made the following remarks during a speech at a conservative dinner:

"But perhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban; in the wake of 9/11, liberals believed it was time to... submit a petition."

Now the leadership of the Democratic party are having a hissy-fit over these remarks. What's the problem!? Truth hurts!?
On the other hand, Senator DICK Durbin made the following remarks in the Well of the US Senate:

"On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. ... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have happened by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Where was all of their outrage when one of their own was calling our troops Nazi's? Truth still hurts!?
The strange silence of the liberals on DICK Durbin's unfounded opinions, while blasting Rove's honest observations is more telling of their true ideology than any of their comments.
Besides, who are these people to lecture anyone on 'over-the-top' rhetoric and inflamatory speeches. Howard Dean, Mr. "I Hate Republicans"-"the white Christian party"-"never worked an honest day in their lives", himself, is the DNC Chairman for crying out loud!
So when am I supposed to start taking these people seriously? Maybe if I send them all a quarter they'll be able to buy themselves a clue.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quote for 6/23/05

"It hath been often said, that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible."
Henry Fielding

I guess that I can comment to that being true. Being dead wasn't so bad (what I can not remember of it), but getting there really sucked.

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Best 3 bucks I've ever spent

Picked up 3 squirt guns at the Dollar Tree on Sunday. They're the cheapy/imitation Super Soaker kind. We (the kids and I) used them briefly on Sunday, just to try them out.
But today was the real deal. Bobby and I just finished a really great water battle in the yard. We were soaked from head to toe. And that felt really great today.
I suspect we'll be doing this quite often through the summer. In fact, I should probably go get a few more. Just in case anybody else wants to join in. After all, they are only a buck!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Quote for 6/22/05

"Skill comes so slow, and life so fast doth fly, we learn so little and forget so much."
Sir John Davies

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Communication

I mentioned, in one of my posts regarding mine and JT's trip to NY, our newly developed form of communication. I refer to it as "Punchline-ese". Because it would seem that, rather than just speaking to each other, we attempt to express our ideas through either one-liners, punchlines from familiar jokes, or familiar quotes from literature, music, film, TV, or cartoons.
I highly recommend trying this form of communication with your friends. You'll begin to realize just how much you have in common with those people who understand. Not to mention, you'll begin to fully appreciate the people who reply in the same manner.
Believe me, I do this with a few of my co-workers. Some of them get it, others don't. And the ones who don't always look at those of us who do, as if we're crazy. Which is quite possibly true. But we don't have to admit to that.

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Slacking off

Let's see...
10 days without a "Quote..."
19 days without updating my "Quotes..." sidebar
15 days without updating my template
and nowhere near enough Bullet Awards being passed out. Not to mention, I really haven't touched on any of the periferal stuff from last weekends trip that I wanted to post about.
Yeah, I'm slacking off here. But, then again, it's been a rough week. Hopefully, I'll get to some of it soon.

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Quotes from 5/2005

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Quote for 6/19/05

"Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness."
fortune from my fortune cookie today.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Unintended consequences

Missing Sheba today.
Came to the conclusion that there are a few unintended consequences from not having her around any more.
1) We now have to pick up any food that we drop
2) I no longer have to keep my "beware of dog" signs posted
3) I have no idea what I'm going to do with the 8 pounds of Purina Senior 7+ dog food that I still have here
4) I guess I could give the canned food to Jo, for her puppy
5) We no longer have to worry about sliding our chairs over Sheba's paws or tail
Other than that, there are a few empty places in the house where she isn't just laying there asleep or looking at us to see what we're up to.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

I must be a Sith!

Saw a bumper sticker on a car today:

"Only a Sith uses absolutes." accompanied by a picture of George W. Bush in a hooded Sith cloak.

I get it! A political statement! Bush is evil!
Then so am I. Especially since I went ahead to try to use my Sith-like powers on that car. I waved my hand and said "Fall back in traffic.". And lo-and-behold the car fell back into a line of traffic. I'm so good!
No! Wait! I'm so bad! Yeah, that's it! I'm sooooo bad!

Anyways... I believe in absolutes. Moral Absolutes, Absolute Truth, and even Absolute Zero. So how does this make someone "evil"? Because I put forth a standard of conduct, I'm being evil somehow? Even though I often fail to uphold that standard of behavior in my own life does not mean I shouldn't always see it as my goal to strive for. So what is the problem with that?
Perhaps the people who object to Absolutes do so out of a selfish desire to not even try to reach for a high standard of conduct. Maybe they feel threatened by the idea that there are those of us out here who are willing to make certain sacrifices in our own lives to uphold a sense of right and wrong in our society.
I can't say any of it surprises me though. Jesus warned His disciples to expect such things (Matthew 5:11, John 15:18-19). Paul also warns us about these people (2 Timothy 3:1-5), and their attitudes towards a higher standard.
I find it pitiful that in order to soothe ones own conscience someone has to make people like me seem intolerant, bigotted, uncompassionate, hypocritical or down-right evil. Yet, those of you who know me, would never accuse me of such things. Even when you disagree with my positions on things.
The funny thing is, any time someone like me points out that higher standard, we're said to be judgemental. But who's really being judgemental in this situation? The person who sets up the standard and admits to frequent failures, or the person who calls that person an intolerant, bigotted, uncompassionate hypocrite?

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Senatorial Bullet Award

Heard and read about this story, and couldn't believe that the comparison came from one of our nations elected officials. Actually, that's not true. I've heard a great deal of venom being spewed out of the mouths of the democrats over the last year and a half, but what Senator DICK Durbin had to say was beyond contemptible.
Could somebody please explain to me the similarities between an air conditioned cell in Guantanamo Bay and the ovens at Auschwitz - or the Gulag in Siberia. How does the temporary (though possibly prolonged) discomfort of suspected terrorists come anywhere near the intentional murder of millions of Jews or political dissidents? Anyone who can find some sort of moral equivalence between these two situations is void of any true sense of morality. Anyone who can find a way to associate the words "air conditioner" with "Nazi Death Camps", "Russian Gulag" or "Khmer Rouge" is seriously lacking in their capacity to reason. And to make such a comparison of our military personnel to these tyrannical, murderous regimes is even more pathetic.
Senator DICK Durbin,
Here's your Bullet...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The deed is done

I hated having to do it, but I had Sheba put to sleep yesterday. It sucked, and I feel really crappy about it. Yes, it was unavoidable. After all, she was almost 16 years old. Still, I wish there was something I could've done.
Unfortunately, I couldn't even tell her goodbye since she's been deaf for the last 3 or 4 months. And they wouldn't let me stay with her while they gave her the shots, so she had to be wondering where I was.
But she was pretty smart. I suspect that she already knew she was dying. Especially since she kept trying to find a quiet corner to sleep in for the last couple of weeks. We could tell that she wanted to be left alone for the most part.
And the worst part of it all for me: waking up this morning and starting to fill her food and water bowls.

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Sheba

Sheba during better days. You can't see it, but her big fluffy tail was flapping wildly when I took this picture. Posted by Hello

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Start here!

I'm going to be rehashing the weekend adventures of M+ and JT. Start by reading from the top postings on down. That way you'll be able to follow our tales and misadventures in their proper chronological order.
Also, in the following posts I make mention of some things that I'll be discussing in later posts. Unfortunately, some of them may take several days to get to. I have much going on right now and don't have the time to do them tonight or tomorrow, and maybe not Wednesday either. But we'll see. And you'll understand why as you read through my posts.
Later.

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Preparing for the trip

Thursday night:
I was fairly well packed, and ready to go, early on, with the exception of a little bit of laundry to fold and pack. Then I got a phone call from JT asking if we had enough room for...
a) his daughter Liz. and
b) some sound/media equipment from the church
which was not a problem, in either case. Especially since they were spending the night here to make our departure run smoothly.
It would seem that our Teen Representative to the Synod Council was unable to attend. So, we needed to find another nominee. P.Dave thought that either one of JT's kids, or one of mine, might be willing to take the position. Mine were unavailable because this was their mother's weekend to have them. So JT asked Liz to join us.
As for the sound/media equipment. Nobody realized that there was no sound/media equipment available at the place where all of the meetings were being held. Thus, P.Dave wondered if we couldn't bring it with us.
Soon enough, JT showed up with both. Fortunately, JT's sister brought all along so I wouldn't have to back-track to the church before leaving. And everything fit nicely into my trunk, which is always a plus.
So we were packed and ready to go by 9:00 PM. Nothing left to do but hang out and watch a few DVDs until we decided to hit the sack.

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Rolling out

Friday:
We were on the road by 7:00 AM, after getting some snacks for the road and filling up my gas tank, that is.
It was a decent drive. JT and I have discovered that we speak a new language, which I'll discuss in a different post, but, suffice it to say, we figured out that we have a new form of communication that we've simply labaled "Punchline-ese". You'll understand it better later.
Moving on. We took 22 to 220 then to I-80. We hit a lot of traffic on I-80. Construction Sucks! In fact, where we first got onto the Interstate we were entering a construction zone. JT pondered aloud that with our Mapquest directions stating that we had 103 miles to go on 80, it couldn't all be construction. I replied "No. It'll be broken up by about a half a mile stretch of no construction every so often.". We would've laughed if we hadn't suspected it to be the truth. Unfortunately it seemed to be the truth.
Stopped for a bite, at about 10:00 AM, at this place called The Twilight Diner. I have no idea what part of the state we were in, but we figured it was close to our halfway point for the trip. It was just this rinky-dink little diner that sits pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. JT and Liz each had something light and breakfast-y. I went for the fish sandwich with fries and cole slaw. And, yes, I did put the fries and slaw on the sandwich. Because every Pittsburgher knows that that's the only way to eat a fish sandwich.
We got back on the road by 10:30, and just kept on rolling. We made it to our hotel by 1:45, and couldn't believe that we were staying in this dump. P.Dave booked it through Travelocity, but it was nowhere near the description that was listed. It was probably a nice enough place at one time. And probably not too long ago either, but now it was crap.
To complicate matters, they tried to stick all of us into the room that P.Dave booked for himself for the previous night (P.Dave had to be there the previous night for other meetings, etc...). That's when we pulled out the confirmation sheets and showed them that there were supposed to be 2 rooms booked, not just one. Especially since P.Dave was charged for 2 rooms. It took a few moments, but they managed to find us another room.
The original plans had been for me and JT to share one room while P.Dave was going to share his room with our Teen Rep. But with our original Teen Rep falling through, that had to change. So I bunked with P.Dave, while JT and Liz got the other room.
We didn't have any time to settle in. We had to register for the Assembly and set up the equipment that we brought. And we were pressed for time since there was a service scheduled to kick things off at 4:00. Still, we made it with time to spare.
The service itself was very interesting since it was all done in Slovak. I couldn't understand any of it, but it was all very intriguing. All but the sermon, that is. The sermon was in English.
Afterwards there was a dinner at the hall where the rest of the Assembly was going to be held. The hall itself belongs to the church where the service was held. It's called The Lutheran Club. And I believe that it's a club in the same sense as Italian Clubs and Slovak Clubs and any number of other clubs as such, because there was a bar in this hall. But it wasn't open for us.
Anyways, after dinner there was some business conducted, which I'll spare you the boring details of. But after that there was a bit of time for us to all just mull around and meet one another. Then it was back to the hotel.
At the hotel we all gathered in mine and P.Dave's room to watch Blazing Saddles. P.Dave hadn't seen it in years, and Liz never had, so they enjoyed it thoroughly. We all had a few good laughs and then it was off to bed.

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A little bit of something to report

Saturday:
Started the day with breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. Our hotel was only providing cereal and the quart of milk in the fridge.
Aside from the fact that JT, Liz and I all bought Davey and Goliath Finger Puppets, there isn't a whole lot to say about Saturdays activities. Especially since they all revolved around a major nap-fest of secondary reports regarding our Synod's finances and other stuff.
However, I will say, we had a few opportunities to talk to some of the other people there. It's amazing how much interest our finger puppets generated. We were the life of the party.
Actually that's not completely true. One of the questions raised by another attendee was about getting your congregation to grow. JT responded by explaining the Transformational Ministries events that he and P.Dave have been a part of, and their positive effect on our congregation. Then he brought up our Small Groups plan which is starting small Bible study groups within the membership of the church and growing us from the outside in. Everybody showed an interest in how well these things seemed to be working. I suspect that we'll be hearing from some of these congregations asking for more info.
P.Dave had to leave after all of the business was concluded. He had another obligation to go to. A Group Workcamp that he's leading the worship services for during the weeklong camp. So, he was packed and ready to roll shortly after dinner.
After all of the other activities concluded we returned to the hotel for our next movie night. This time we brought back the Media Projector and watched The Big Lebowski on the wall of my room.
In case you're wondering why all of the movie watching is taking place in my room...
It's because the other room was a smoking room and I can't spend much time in a smokey room.
Thus ended our Saturday.

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Wrapping it all up

Sunday:
Got started a little bit early so we could pack and check out. Afterwards we had our breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, again. Then headed off to the church for the final session of our Assembly.
It stirkes me as odd that this short session would be the one in which we address the biggest issues that we are facing. Currently, the ELCA is facing the question of whether or not the church should bless same-sex unions.
I'm sure you all know where I stand on this issue. And yes, I made my views known during our Assmebly. And yes, I listened thoughtfully to what everyone else had to say. Both sides. But I'm not going to discuss this here. Instead, I just want to address my dismay that more time was not alotted to us to have a more thoughtful and engaging conversation. Especially since it was clear that the issue needed more time and discussion. This issue could've occupied our entire Saturday, instead it was given an hour before our closing service. Oh, well.
In any event, there were no clear lines drawn at the end. There are still many questions to be asked, many clarifications to be made. I think that a part of the problem is that nobody wants to make any waves. Everybody just wants to leave this issue hanging in the wind in the hopes that we never really have to deal with it. Unfortunately, I believe that we will have to deal with it. And very soon.
The service was enjoyable. All English this time. And that, too, was followed by a meal. Then came the real killer for me. The Assmebly Council Meeting.
It was a meeting of the elected officials of our Assembly. So, technically, I didn't have to stay. But, since Liz is one of our elected officials, and JT had to take P.Daves place in recording the minutes of the meeting, I had to stay. The meeting ran until 4:30. And here I was expecting to be on the road by 1:30, home by 8:00. Didn't happen.
We got moving by 4:45 and made some pretty decent time. Ended up using a slightly different route than the first time and couldn't shake the feeling that we were not using the right roads. But, eventually, we came back to some familiar sites and realized that it was just because of the way the highway separated at places.
I dropped JT and Liz off at JT's at about 11:15, and made it home by 11:40. Then, after a few brief greetings, it was off to bed.

Side note:
Today was the first anniversary of my father's passing. Excelsior!
I was hoping that JT and I could've stopped briefly at a bar on our way home. Just for a beer in his honor, but I decided that it would be most inappropriate - and not at all legal with Liz joining us - so that didn't happen as I would've liked either. maybe later this week we can arrange it.

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Depression

Monday:
If I had a pick-up truck, and it was repo-ed, my life would be an old-school country song. Why?
I mentioned what yesterday was in the previous post. You're all familiar with the fact that my wife has left me. But now, my dog is dying.
All joking aside, Sheba is not doing well. I won't get into the particulars. None of that matters anyway, it's just some gross stuff that comes along with an animal that's aging. I'll just say that she's lived a long and full life of nearly 16 years. I don't know if she'll last much longer, but I suspect that tomorrow I will have to take her to the Animal Rescue League to have her put to sleep. I'm not looking forward to this.
Today's only bright spot was our Mens Bible Study. It's always a good thing to have the support of friends at a time like this.
God please give me strength to get through all of this.

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Back again

Alright, JT and I, and his daughter Liz, all got back from our trip to NY last night. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after 11:30 PM. So, I decided to take today off to recover.
I'll post an update covering the weekends activities. But for the moment, I want to get caught up on a few things around here, and a bit on-line, first.
Later.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Last call...

For the weekend.
Going away 'til Sunday. JT and I are heading to Binghamton, NY as delegates for our church to the Slovak Zion Synod Assmebly of the ELCA. Isn't that a scary thought? JT and I represent our church to a national assembly. We'll behave, we promise.
So, don't be surprised if this is the last post you read here until Monday. I may be able to post a quote for tomorrow, but that all depends on what time I get up, and what time we leave.
Until next time...

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Quote for 6/9/05

"Yeah, "seventy times seven", but rot in Hell anyways."
Merry C. (from work)

This was a great summation of some of what I was feeling yesterday. Merry had it pegged.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A blessed day

I had another one of those days where I was stewing in my own juices over some crap that's going on between the soon-to-be-EX and myself. And it was really affecting my work, too.
Fortunately for me, one of my co-workers, Merry, noticed and asked what was up. And that enabled me to vent it a little bit. So things got better from there.
But that's not the best part of it. The conversation that we had was quite uplifting for us both. And we did agree that God has a way of putting just the right people in just the right places at just the right times to serve the purpose that He wants to bring about. It was something that I think we both needed to hear.
Oh, and incidentally, I'll be posting a quote from that conversation tomorrow. It's a little weird, but you may get a chuckle out of it.

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Quote for 6/8/05

"It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table."
C.S. Lewis (from Mere Christianity)

As I re-read this book, again... I find that I could probably post a quote from it every day for a year. But I won't.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Smoothing out some details

Last night's Bible Study went very well for us. Aside from the usual camaraderie that we enjoy, we managed to also help The Boy out with a few things.
Among our various discussions was the topic of sharing ones faith with others. And the idea that we will be held accountable for the people that we know that we either did or didn't tell about our belief in Christ.
Bobby seemed somewhat concerned about this. He was curious as to whether these people would be able to ask us why we didn't speak of these things to them. So JT and I explained to him the idea that if it were one of us, we would want to know why somebody didn't say anything, why they wouldn't want to help us to not be condemned to Hell. I also explained that when Judgement Day does finally come, everything will be known, anyways. It won't be a matter of them having to ask why they were never told, because our own thoughts, intentions and motives would be revealed to all. And we also pointed out that there are actually times when sharing ones faith is not appropriate for the circumstance. And God understands that, but we should be ready at all times to share our faith, or stand up for what we believe.
It was good to know that Bobby has these kinds of questions. And even better that he has people around him that can answer them for him. But I think I'm most impressed by the idea that he has had opportunity to tell others about what he believes. It gives me some comfort to know that he's trying.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

Tagged again... sorta

Amie had this posted at her blog, and I told her I'd respond. Even without being "officially" tagged to do so. So here goes:

Total number of books I own: No idea. I can count at least 30, but I know there are more. And it'd be a lot more than that if I had replaced all of the one's I lost in the fire.

Last book/books I bought: Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis and The Art Of War, by Sun Tsu (with commentaries).

Last book/books I read: See above.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
1) The Bible - even though it's actually 66 books
2) The Hobbit - It got me started on Tolkien
3) Mere Christianity - A must for any Christian who wishes to defend their faith
4) The Stand - One of Stephan Kings best stories
5) A Purpose Driven Life - What do I need to say about this one?

Anybody else who wishes to take this tag, feel free to do so.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

A matter of choice

Another political rant, but I'll try to make it brief.

I've been pondering over a few issues lately, and I've come to this conclusion. Liberalism is hypocrisy!
On the issue of abortion, the liberals in the democratic party, as well as the media and even a few within the republican party, all proclaim their position to be that of protecting a womans right to choose. OK, fine, I'll allow you to take that position. But I'm going to come back to it later. The tag line for this position seems to be all about "choice".
Well, if these so-called "progressive" thinkers are actually in favor of "choice", why are they holding up Social Security reform, which would give everybody the "choice" to invest their retirement funds as they please? Especially in light of the overall performance of the Galveston Texas Municipal Employees Plan. A plan which had a fund growth rate that is more than four times the return of the Social Security system. And even better, the money would belong to each individual contributor. That way, when you finally pass away, whatever you've managed to save from your retirement becomes an inheiritance to your family.
Or how about School Voucher plans. Giving parents the opportunity to make a "choice" in where they send their kids to school, and what kind of education their kids get. I know that in the City of Pittsburgh School District the cost per student per year is somewhere between $12-15,000. And yet the school district is turning out functionally illiterate graduates. On the other hand, my sister-in-law is sending her 2 kids to a Catholic school for about $2400 per year. And they're two of the brightest kids I know. Yet, she still has to pay taxes to the local school district. Obviously, funding isn't the issue here. So why can't we get school vouchers and the "choice" of how we use the money that is being spent on our childrens education?
After all, it is our money. We are merely allowing the government to use it on our behalf. So there can't be any kind of separation of church and state issue here. Just because it's money from the government. It had to come from each individual taxpayer first. As is all money that the government uses.
So I don't think the abortion issue is about "choice" either. In all of the above situations, the issue is the abdication of personal responsibility to some other entity. On the issue of retirement, pensions, and Social security reform, it's about allowing the government to control your money until they're ready to give it to you. And even then, it's under their terms, not your own. In the case of education, it's allowing the schools to educate our children with as little interference from the parents as possible. And when your 18 year old is reading at a 6th grade level, they'll blame you for not being involved enough and demand more funding, more time, and more control of your most precious possessions. As for abortion, most of you know where I stand on that issue. It's an escape from personal responsibility or else it would have some restrictions on it to prevent it's use as a form of "retroactive birth control". Instead, we get the rhetoric about the hard cases - mothers health, rape, incest - which account for less than a quarter of all abortions. But does anyone ever consider the "choice" of the unborn child? Or what about the "choice" to not have sex if you're not ready to have a kid?
But enough of that. If you can't see the hypocrisy of the positions that liberals take on these issues, you just don't want to see it. And this is only skimming the surface of issues that I could've used in this essay.
Oh, and one more point. So much for the notion that liberals are for "the weakest memebers of our society".

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

May I TakeYour Bullet Award?

40 minutes is an unacceptable wait to get a drink at a wedding reception. To the waitress who not only didn't remember to place our orders, but didn't have the courage to come back to our table to ask us what we would like... again.
Here's your Bullet...

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Wedding day

Today was the Wedding day of two very dear friends of mine and JT's. And it was a beautiful day for it, too.
I've known them both for about 7 years, as long as I've been attending my church. They were the first church members to meet and accept me. And they were both easily won over. Kathy was impressed by my knowledge of the scriptures, even though she thought I looked like a stoner. I took her completely by surprise with a depth of understanding of eschatology - the study of End Times Theology. Rick was excited to learn that I was a hardcore conservative. And that's all it took for him.
Rick and Kathy, themselves, have been together for over 8 years. So, many of us in the church have been waiting to see this day for quite some time. Some of us thought it might never happen. It was good to see them finally taking this step.
Allow me to add this:
Inspite of the fact that the wedding did stir in me some unwanted emotions and memories. I've not allowed it to dampen my spirit. I'm very happy for my friends, and I was honored to share in their day with them.
May God grant them many years of joy together.

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Way to go Moe!

I woke up this morning just as Moe was getting in from work. And what to my surprise did he bring home with him? A webcam!
Seems the tech people at one of the places that he's been working security for - actually a competitor of the company I work for - had some unused equipment. They asked him if he could use it, and he said "Sure!". So now I have a webcam.
Give me some time to get used to it. Then I'll start posting some pics of me and the kids and whatnot. Perhaps I'll make a visual log of the progress of my diet. That might be cool.
OK, more later.

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Dealing with it

For some odd reason, yesterday was just not good for me. I don't know why, but the situation with my pending divorce just seemed to sneak up on me and dig it's claws and fangs into me. Typically, when I have such feelings, I can find something among my CD collection that will soothe me. Yesterday, however, everything just seemed to emphasize my "loss" even more. One song in paticular, one of my all-time favorites, by one of my all-time favorite bands, The Choir, just floored me. I'll let you read the lyrics so you can see why it was so rough on me:

Love Falls Down by The Choir.

You must be as much afraid
You say things you can't mean
I hide a dagger in my boot
To guard my fragile self-esteem
And Heaven knows the demons roar
When love falls down
Lions sing and Angels mourn
When love falls down like rain

Falls downlike rain
When love falls down
And taps against our window pane
When love falls down like rain

Once upon a sacred stone
we carved a holy vow
I'm still the boy I was before
But I need you more than ever now
Seraphs crawl and serpents dance
When love falls down
Jesus weeps and Satan laughs
When love falls down like rain

Falls downlike rain
When love falls down
And taps against our window pane
When love falls down like rain
Falls downlike rain
When love falls down
And drums against our tinted pane
When love falls down like rain

The Man of Sorrows recalls a crown of pain
When love comes crashing down down down
like bitter rain

Falls downlike rain
When love falls down
And taps against our window pane
When love falls down like rain
Falls downlike rain
When love falls down
And drums against our tinted pane
When love falls down like rain...

Like rain
Like rain
Like rain


It is a bad thing for me, indeed, to find no comfort in music. It is even worse when songs which I have loved for many years are now a part of the pain that I've wished to escape. My soon-to-be-EX has practically ruined music for me now. But I'll get over it... I'll deal with it. I don't have to like it, but I do have to get through it.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Christianity vs Churchianity

For those of you who didn't already know, I listen to a lot of talk radio. Every once in awhile I'll hear something that really catches my attention in a very profound way. The other day I heard something that did just that.
Our local talk-jock, Jim Quinn, had a guest on his show by the name of Stephan Mansfield. He authored a book titled The Faith Of The American Soldier. It's an exploration of the various faith convictions of countless soldiers whom the author has spoken with. One of the things that he pointed out was the notion that, predominantly, the religious convictions of the American soldier is Christianity. The author emphasized the point by saying "... as opposed to Churchianity.".
This really grabbed my attention. So, I thought I'd offer a few of my own thoughts on this.
I understand what Mr. Mansfield is trying to say about Churchianity. I think we've all experienced it at some point or another. Whether in ourselves or someone with whom we're having a conversation. It's that whole "I was born and raised as a... (fill in the blank with whatever denominational affiliation you prefer)" attitude that so often takes over an otherwise great conversation about faith. It's that relentless insistance that whatever a persons paticular church/denomination teaches is THE Truth, and that all others are lacking in some way. In the very least Churchianity, is the particular "style" (for lack of a better term) of Christianity, that the individual has embraced.
Christianity, should not be divisive, at least not among Christians. It is one thing for Jesus to tell us that "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34). The sense in which He was speaking was meant to be between believers and unbelievers, not amid the church. Christ commanded His disciples to "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34). Somehow, we're missing the mark... Big Time!
We argue and fight over minute differences in theology and wonder why our witness is ineffective in our culture. Why should anyone want to become a Christian if all it means is arguing, disagreeing and putting down other believers over their particular "style" of belief or worship.
The Church (the whole Church, not any single denomination) needs to set aside it's petty differences and embrace the truth about us all. We are all sinners in need of the grace of God. None of us has the exclusive rights on God's truth, and we all have our own faults and weaknesses. And rather than constantly bickering among ourselves over all of the "junk" that we've wrapped ourselves up in, we need to embrace each other and love one another the way we've been taught.
It's easy to understand why our soldiers have managed to get past these differences. When you have to trust someone to watch your back, you tend to look past such insignificant trivialities. Perhaps the rest of us need to learn how to trust our brothers and sisters in such a way. Maybe, if we could get past these matters, we might become more effective in reaching our culture with the truth of Christ.

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Time to buy a new scale

Maybe...
Alright, we've had this scale in our bathroom since Jo first had her gastric bypass surgery, about a year and a half ago. She wanted to be able to check on her own progress. I, however, have never had any use for it since I always suspected that it would only tell me bad news. Well, I was wrong.
Last night, just before I headed off to bed, I went ahead and stepped on the scale. I think I've lost another 12 pounds. Depending on how I stand on the scale, I'm either 270, or 266. WOOHOO!!!
It's only been a little over two weeks since my last doctor appointment. So now I'm averaging 5 pounds a week. That's pretty good, if you ask me. Another WOOHOO!!!
I'm doing really good on this diet thing. Although I know that it's not really a diet, but a life-style change. Still, I've come to the realization of just how horrible my former eating habits were. But I still use my weekends to splurge. I gotta have a little bit of room for "cheating", just so it isn't such a chore to maintain my new habits.
Of course, now I'm faced with the dilema of having to replace a good bit of my wardrobe soon. I've already got a couple of pairs of jeans that are ready to slide right off my butt when I wear them. Good thing I've got a belt.

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