Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I Did It!

Yes, I can finally park the minivan in the garage. And there's still room to maneuver. Heck, I could probably fit another car, albiet a Mini Cooper, in there to boot. It may not seem like much. But it was a chore that took me the better part of the weekend to complete. The good news is that now I can park the car in the garage. And the even better news is that we can get off to school in the morning without having to scrape ice off of the windows or sit in a chilly car. Yippee!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


My beauties

What can I say? They take my breath away. I bought these dresses for them when I was in Munich in May of 2005. They look prettier than the edelweiss.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Car Review - Ford 500. Note to self, this is NOT the Brickyard!

For those of you not in the know, the "Brickyard" is a nickname for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy500.

I had the pleasure of "representin' for my peeps", Quest Software, in Nashville, Tulsa, and Indy over the past couple weeks. I spoke at big user group seminars in each city and was pleased to see big crowds there. I also had the pleasure of meeting in person a number of Quest people who I'd only ever spoken to on the phone.

This is a picture of me and Danielle Mann ===>. Danielle is Quests manager for field marketing. I've worked with Danielle since at least late spring of this year, but I'd only met her on this expedition. The surprising thing about Danielle is that she has a deep, basso, commanding voice but, as you can see, she's about 5'2" and 95 lbs. She's also a huge Buckeyes fan, but we can forgive her of that. Roll Tide!

I was able to enjoy a nearly brand new fully loaded Ford 500 as my rental car. It was a very plush ride with lots of very thoughtful accessories, such as a moon roof, special little lights to illuminate the keyholes at night, radio controls on the steering wheel so that I never had to lift my hand to change a channel (which I do incessantly), auto managing headlights, auto managing rear-view mirror, and so forth.

<=== I can also attest to the excellent crash-worthiness and effective crumple zones on the car. It was late, raining, and cold. I was lost. I pulled a U'ee and got nailed. Totally my fault. Dang it all!!! I was banged up. I knew that I was hit pretty hard because my cell phone holster disintegrated and I hurt. However, it wasn't until I got home the next day that my kids told me I had bruises all over my left side. My color-blind eyes simply could not see the bruises. (I can only see strongly colored purple or green bruises. If they're light, my eyes don't even see them.) It was also a really emotional wreck for me (or maybe I should say that -->I<-- was an emotional wreck) because I just sat there in the rain without a clue who to call. Yeah, ok. I remembered to call 911 after a few seconds (that seemed like days). That always used to be such an easy question to answer and the answer was always so comfortable and comforting. But now that the kids' mom and I are split up, well...

It took me only a day or two to get over the bruises. I was back up and active immediately. But it took me several more days to get my emotional ship righted and back on course. I guess, in a way, it was good for me to have a mini-crisis. It's extremely painful but I can see that I do experience a certain amount of emotional and spiritual growth and healing from these experiences. I wish at times that there was some magical way around these problems, but I know deep in my heart that you just have to barrel on through them.

Move along. There's nothin' to see here. Keep moving...


Sunday, October 22, 2006


Thith ith my applianthe

Anna Lynn does not have the good fortune to have naturally straight teeth like her mom and I. It's a painful and expensive process to get those pearly whites to come in straight. Since she's young, our orthodontist recommended that we install an "appliance" before going into braces. It's been uncomfortable for Anna, but she's finally gotten used to it - except for the really cute lisp. :^)

You can see her bottom appliance in the picture. She has something very similar in the roof of her mouth. You can also see a little of the crookedness of her teeth. The teeth between her incisors and bicuspids were the ones that were most crooked. Now that they're out. She should have enough room for the teeth to move around and straighten out. Oh joy!



Saturday, October 21, 2006


Frish Fry

We've had a lot of health issues this week. BothKatie Jo and Anna Lynn had strep. This is tough in and of itself. But to make matters worse, we were expecting guests.

When Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Chuck finally made it off of the airplane on October 5th, it turns out that Grandpa Chuck was really sick with a terrible stomach flu. On top of that, I was showing Grandma Shirley around the property over the weekend when I stepped on a big, ol' rusty nail that pierced my right foot about 1/2". Yeouch! Then I got the obligatory tetanus shot. Double yeouch!

We did manage to get out and have some fun, though. On Saturday, we went to a fish fry at church and had a good time eating lots of fried catfish. Just try saying "Fish Fry" five times fast. It always comes out as "frish fry" for me.

It took quite a while for Grandpa Chuck to feel better. However, he did start to feel better after a couple of days after arriving. It's worth noting though, when he was seen by the doctor, that they just totally marvelled over how extraordinary it was for a 70-yr old man to come into their office taking no medication. I can certainly understand their amazement. After all, I'm only 40 and I take at least 2 maintenance medications. So here's a toast to Grandpa Chuck's health - here's to many more years of the same.

We mostly hung out since many of us we feeling icky. In addition, the ol' foot was keeping me from being adventurous and work requirements kept my nose to the grindstone. The thing I was most happy about, however, was just getting to see my folks and my kids spend some time together. It's a rare opportunity when you live 2,400 miles apart to spend a lot of time together. So I'm very happy that everyone got to spend some time together.

After the kids went to their mom's on Friday afternoon, Grandma Shirley, Grandpa Chuck, and I were able to get out and see the city a little bit. It would've been nice to spend every night one the town, listening to music and seeing the sites. As it turned out, we only had the one Friday evening since both they and I were flying out on Saturday morning. Bleck!

That night, we headed downtown and prowled for something fun to do. Second Avenue was hopping that night and there were lots of people on the street all the way up to Printer's Alley (and beyond). We scoped out a lot of bars and juke joints, but wound up settling on a slightly quieter venue - Mulligan's Irish Pub. They had a Irish folk treo in the house that night playing lots of drinking songs and the like.

It was sad to see them go. But it was great to have them here with us in our new house. And we know we'll do it again!



Friday, October 20, 2006


North Korea in action

Please read this and tell me what you think:,,2089-2393599,00.html.

Now answer me this... Iraq didn't do a fraction of the actions that North Korea has done towards the development of nuclear weapons (a.k.a. WMDs). Iraq never openly had a nuclear reactor, testified to the existence of 8-12 rods of plutonium, threatened to reactive their breeder reactors, tested ballistic missles capable of reaching US cities, nor did they actually conduct tests of nuclear weapons. And yet Bush and Rumsfeld rushed us into Iraq... Yet, here we have a viscious dictator who is equally if not more abusive of his own people who has also publicly taken every step possible to show that he does indeed have WMDs, and yet this administration won't even sit down to talk one-on-one with this country.

Either you stick by your principles of opposing, through force if need be, forces attempting to create and spread WMDs or you don't. What's it going to be?


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Politics: Values in a Nutshell

I've been getting more political lately, mostly because I believe we've got some of the worst political leadership of all time running the show. A recent editorial by Krugman contains a nugget of wisdom about holding the "values-party" accountable.

It is this: The current Congress has shown no inclination to investigate the Bush administration. Last year The Boston Globe offered an illuminating comparison: when Bill Clinton was president, the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether Mr. Clinton had used the White House Christmas list to identify possible Democratic donors. That's 1-4-0 hours! More than three business weeks of time! But in 2004 and 2005, a House committee took only 12 hours of testimony on the abuses at Abu Ghraib. That's barely a day and a half spent on one of the most damaging hits to US prestige in the international sphere, as well as direct hit on America's ethics and moral high ground.

Clearly, we're looking at an organization (the Republican party) that is not acting upon values or principles. That's because values and principls require an individual or group of adherants to behave the same way in the face of abuses by any individual or group of individuals. Instead, it's simply partisan politics dressed up in values.

Just my two cents...


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Wednesday, October 18th

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

-Edna St.Vincent Millay

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


A Father's Love

A few years ago, there was a series of severe earthquake in Turkey. You might remember them because it wasn't that long ago - tens of thousands died. Many buildings and homes were leveled, mostly because the strict anti-earthquake building codes had been flaunted by developers looking to make a quick buck.

Among the thousands of casualties, a 6-year-old boy named Armand was missing. Armand's father, knowing his son was at school the time the earthquake hit, raced to the collapsed structure. Climbing to the top of the pile, Armand's father began to pull off the shattered mud bricks. The sharp corners of the bricks sliced up his hands as he carried them down the pile and tossed them aside. He continued to offload the bricks without pause.

Every time people would try to stop him and tell him it's useless, he'd reply: "Join me or leave me alone! Join me or leave me alone!" Well after forty-seven hours of continuous digging he heard a voice: "Daddy, is that you?" Armand's father burst out with joy as he found his son (along with his classmates) huddled together under collapsed walls. Armand kept telling his school companions: "I told you my daddy would come! I told you my daddy would come!" And indeed he came - a father's unfaltering love.

I'm both delighted and saddened by this story. As you can guess, I count myself among the men who are like Armand's father - absolutely and unfalteringly dedicated to my children not out of duty, but out of true love. I know I'll come through for my kids as long as there's any spark of life left in me. I'll come through for them in dire emergency, like this earthquake, but also in mundane daily living. There's a certain dignity and beauty in that too.

But I'm also saddened when I think of the converse of this situation. I know so many people, adult friends and little kids alike, who have been deeply wounded by a father who's love and presence faltered or disappeared altogether. These friends of mine, even as they go forward through life with a bright smile on their face, hide a deep and intense hurt inside them that impacts everything they do and every relationship they have. My heart goes out to them...


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


A Late Birthday Party

Katie Jo has a mid-summer birthday, July 26th. We had a little party for her at the time, but we asked if she'd like to have just a few friends during the summer or a bigger party later in the fall. She chose the fall so that she could enjoy lotsa friends.

So Kelly planned a lil shindig for her at the picturesque Cedar Creek Rec Center right on Old Hickory Lake. The weather was perfect for early October - sunny, warm, and very little wind. The water was way too cold for my taste, but it didn't slow down the kids at all.

The Rec Center also has a really nice playgrounds and some really nice pavilions with barbeques, park benches, picnic tables, etc. I have to tell ya - these itty bitty girls can run your tail off. They were bouncing between the beach, the playground, the pavilions, and everywhere in between. I tried to both keep up and to chaperone, but I was so tired by the time the cake and hamburgers were ready that I could've just dropped right there. The good news about the days when the girls go crazy all day long and play their hearts out is that the nights are oh-so-restful!

At long last, the birthday girl konks out! ======>

Monday, October 09, 2006


Discussions with Infidelis Maximus - Responses to the May 2006 Archive

Whew! There are many and long postings in this archive that has given my many interesting elements to comment on. I'll endeaver to do so here, but I'm sure that I'll miss an important point or two.

My Beliefs response

I'm going to skip on commenting on your beliefs (entry entitled "My Beliefs") because I believe/hope that each of the significant elements of your discussion will come up at other points and we can discuss them each in turn giving them the proper attention they deserve.

It was good enough for Paul and Silas... response

Despite the preeminent place given the gospels, Paul’s writings are the oldest of the New Testament books.... They present a very different Christ than the one portrayed in the gospels.

WRT the Pauline epistles and their disagreement with the gospels about Christ. I agree that there is some discord. I've heard more than one bible scholar say that the worst thing to happen to the theology of Christianity was Paul. Of course, in nearly the same breath, they also describe Paul as saving Christianity from the same fate as other obscure Jewish sects like the Essenes. Oh, and in your list of major elements of the faith that are never mentioned, don't forget that the early gospels (particularly Mark) do NOT agree about the resurrection. Mark doesn't even have a resurrection story. Ironic since it is the earliest (i.e. most accurate and/or closest to the time of actual events?) of the all of the canonical gospels. However, I have a different point of view about Paul's writings.

What is missing, however, is virtually the entirety of the gospel account of who Jesus was and what he said and did.

Paul not mentioning the miracles of Christ can be explained several ways. My explanation probably wouldn't sit well with a fundamentalist, but of course, neither would any of this discussion. Let me also state for the record that I am a practicing Christian who considers himself to be devout. Anyway, I prefer to focus on the fact that Paul was in a constant, long-running battle with Peter for authority and credibility in the church. If Paul were to focus his epistles on miracles that he never personally witnessed, then he would actually be ceding credibility and authority to his foremost competitor, Peter, who was with Jesus every step of the way. Every time Paul where to mention a miracle in one of his epistles would be to put the finger at Peter and say "And I got this on his authority!" Not very good for Paul's rivalry with Peter. So, in my own imaginings (which of course can be neither validated nore invalidated), Paul not mentioning the miracles of Christ and other important details about Christ is a sort of social Darwinism that contributed to his own theological arguments and strengths without bolstering that of his main rival, Peter.

In my view, writing about these things, in Paul's case, would have been extraneous effort to what he was trying to achieve - a "Hellenification" of the church (i.e. turning it into a more open and Greek organization). You also point out Paul's earnest and heartfelt oppression of early Christians and that he neither supports nor refutes any of the miracles of Christ or the early saints. My thought there is that he probably devoted little, if any attention to this topic, because it was undertaken by his close friend and protege Luke.

And it was Luke, in fact, who corroborates (sp?) the story of Paul's conversion in the story of Stephen's martyrdom in the Book of Acts. Of course, there were many years separating the works of Paul and Luke. Nevertheless, I have to believe that sitting on a boat in the Mediterrainean somewhere, Luke probably said, "Don't worry, Paul. I'm collecting all of these stories and I'll get it on paper eventually."

The mythos around Christ’s teachings and miracles had not yet evolved.

Yes, I am in complete agreement here. But not so much because of a gap between Paul's epistles and the synoptic gospels but because of the mindbendingly huge philosophical and theological leap between the synoptic gospels and the Logos gospel of John. They are from entirely different planets.

That they are absent from Paul but present in the gospels tells us something about the veracity of the gospels and about the real person behind the Christ they present.

To a point... It does make me wonder whether the religion just needed time to 'ferment' and smooth out all of the theological rough spots or whether that was actually how events happened. Evolved, as you put it, is a very good term but one that is entirely unacceptable to many Christians. I accept and embrace the term 'evolved', but it doesn't exactly fit with the term 'inspired by God' does it? So, the rational person has to conclude for the former option and not the latter.

There were actually many distinct early forms of Christianity, and we don't know which one was first or preeminent.

This fact is gallingly unknown to almost all fundamentalists and evangelical Christians that I know. I still have friends who think that Jesus spoke in chapters and verses.
As for the Docetists, Ebionites, Gnostics, and the like, you might enjoy "The Encyclopedia of Heresies". This is a very interesting read, especially when cataloging all of the multitude of different beliefs in the early church before "orthodoxy" was established by Ireneus.
I especially enjoy waving this in the face of certain denomenations that rail against the lack of uniformity in the modern church and that their denomenation is the only "right" one. For some reason, these denomenations seem to think that the church has always been uniform instead of manifold.

There are many who would equate “true” Christianity with “early” Christianity. I would posit that the true Christianity is what Christ actually taught and that this has been mostly lost to the ages and may have even been unknown to the early church. To know true Christianity, we must first determine, as best we can, what Christ actually taught and be prepared to distinguish it from the Christianity practiced by the early church.

I have to disagree with you there. To know a true single malt whiskey, you have to know the distilled and aged one. To know a true wine, you have to know its vintage. Similarly, to know "true" Christianity, we must first determine the most atomic and elementary tenets of what Christian faith is. These elementary tenets took a while to bubble to the surface. Going back to the earliest written records of what Christians believed leaves with something that is, following the analogy, icky tasking and half-baked stuff. It it were left to me to answer off of the cuff (which is, of course, exactly what I'm doing now), I'd suggest that the most elementary tenets of Christianity is that we should love God (meaning of God still TBD for purposes of this discussion) and other humans selflessly as described in Matthew 22:34-40. The themes of the New Testament constantly point back to these most simple tenets. So for me, they represent the most fundamental and "truest" Christianity.

For me, peeling back all the layers of mythology surrounding Christ, the bogus accounts of his life and death, the interpolations, errors, and alterations made over the centuries and getting down to the essence of what we can reasonably believe he taught is the only effective way to begin to explore “real” Christianity.

I wondered if you might mention Q and/or other texts such as the Gospel of Thomas. I agree that gaining a greater understanding of the experience of members of the early church. But I am not sure of how much that would affect my opinions about the faith overall. By analogy, if I watch a football game (which I love to do) I can still be satisfied with the outcome despite some terrible calls by the refs. Why? Because the fundamental substance of the game was good and met my expectations. In the end, it didn't matter that every element of the game was good and without blemish. The game itself was good. But again - that's just me.

How does this brand of Christianity differ from today’s Christianity? It differs substantially – in fact, it presents a completely different spiritual philosophy. In it, Jesus’ teachings are more about enlightenment, love, and tolerance than about Original Sin, forgiveness, or adherence to a particular creed. They’re about leading a life on earth that is both fulfilling and examined rather than merely laying up treasures in heaven. They’re about the quest for truth and the desire to find answers to the great questions of life.

Uh oh! That's exactly what my personal faith is focused on!

You see a belief system that is more about acceptance, love, and goodwill toward others than about rigid adherence to any particular set of rules. It is about the brotherhood of man and sharing the goodness that can be found in each of us.

That is certainly one of the two major tenets in my personal faith. The other major tenet is that God (in some form) exists and desires closeness and reconciliation with each of us on an individual level. More on that later...

Essential Theism... response

In a nutshell, I believe that a true relgion or philosophy doesn’t need to be propped up by falsehood. In other words, if Christianity was ever based on any sort of truth, it did not require then, and does not need now, lies to protect it. No "true" philosophy does.

Ironically, I believe the counter. I believe that any good religion or philosophy will have a lot of bumps, rough edges, and incongruities that can only made sensible by lieing, contorting, or otherwise warping some realities of the physical world to give it any working sense. It's kind'a like the difference between designing an academically "pure" computer system, for those of us who are computer people. You can create a database design that's in 5th normal form (i.e. a "truest" system definition), but it simply work work in a real world scenario because it will break under load. The more inflexible the philosophy/religion is to the realities of its adherants, the more likely it is to fail. Go ask the Heaven's Gate team about adhering to the deepest truths of their religion. They didn't flex and they exterminated themselves in very short order.

A just God ... (snip) ... would never punish anyone for not believing in him, and would never create a place like Hell for anyone, let alone for creatures who simply misinterpreted the evidence he left and mistakenly believed he didn’t exist.

I have to agree with you here. I cannot believe that the God of the New Testament would create hundreds of millions, even billions of human beings, knowing that they'd eventually become nothing but fodder for the ovens of Hell. On the other hand, I'm not sure what the explanation is.

If he is somehow responsible for our being here, I believe that he left a piece of himself in each of us and that it manifests itself in our curiosity, our ability to reason, our creativity, and our compassion for our fellow creatures.

This is a similar and reasonable kernel of faith from which the rest of my personal belief system hangs.

Why we care about who wrote the gospels ... response

We care about whether Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the gospels because the church claims they did, and whether or not they actually did tells us something about the reliability of what the church tells us. A great deal of Christian doctrine is based wholly or in part on church traditions that have no direct scriptural support.

This is a big grey area for me. On the one hand, the church cares a lot that this-and-such book is written by Luke or that-n-such book is written by John. But at the end of the day, what people really want is a sense of confidence in the material. Conversely, anyone's who's studied the history of the canon knows that almost none of the canon was written directly by the person attributed with authorship. At a minimum, they all used professional scribes to write for them, as evidenced by Paul in Galatians chapter 6, where he notes how unusual it should be for the reader to see blocky and crude lettering that he penned himself. So there is, in the body of believers, a certain acceptance that the author and the writer of a given book are not the same person. By extrapolation, there is also a certain degree of acceptance to the concept that a book might've been written by someone who collected the first-hand accounts and recounts them second-hand, as evidenced by Luke's preamble in chapter 1:1-4.

In this preamble, Luke writes:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

So Luke answers for us in a nutshell why it is that we should care about the authorship of the very books whose authorship we today question. We care because we wish to know "the certainty of the things you have been taught". And from Luke's preamble, we can also ascertain that there were many accounts that were disorderly in some form or another. So we can see that the very issue that wracks your conscience was also on the mind of Luke just 50-80 years after Christ.

Still, a key concept that differentiates Christianity from, say, Islam is that the bible is considered by Christians to be "inspired by God to Man". Whereas in Islam, the Koran was given literally from the mouth of Allah to the angel Gabriel and from Gabriel to Mohammed. Thus, in Islam, Allah literally speaks Arabic. If you don't speak Arabic, you don't speak the true language of God. This, to me, seems even less tenable then the Christian concept that God, a spirit without a physical body nor a physical mouth to speak, put words into the minds of men to be written out with a sense of divine purpose and higher authority. Inspired by God, but not literally spoken by God to Man. This is one, of many, reasons why it it much harder to find a good translation of the Koran compared to the bible. In Islam, Man come to God. In other words, to be a truly good Muslim, you should learn to speak Arabic. In Christianity, God comes to Man. You need not speak any language other than your own.

The doctrine of the trinity, for example, is based mostly on church tradition – there is no direct reference to it in the Bible, nor was it a tenet of either ancient Judaism or the first century church.

If the church is wrong about something so fundamental as who wrote the scriptures, perhaps it is wrong about a great many things. Again, we apply this rationale when evaluating other historical sources – why should it be any different with the church?

Don't get me started on church traditions. The failure of church traditions to uphold the "right way" is one of the primary reasons that Martin Luther took a hammer and nails to the Wittenburg Gate, as you probably know. So your rational, IMO, is possible and even probable. Heck, I'll give you a good example from a Jewish friend of mine. In his Hebrew bible, the Jewish 10 Commandments read differently than our Christian 10 Commandments. All of my life, as a conservative, Southern Christian, I was taught that you could never say "Jesus!" when you hit your thumb with a hammer. Nor could you use the dreaded "GD!" (see, I can't even say it now) because you were breaking the commandment in Exodus and Deuteronomy of using the Lord's "name in vain". My Jewish friend tells me that the Hebrew bible says simple that you must not use the Lord's name for false oaths. There's a BIG difference between using in vain and using for false oaths IMO.

In my next post, I'll respond to Infidelis Maximus' "Myths and Reasonings Regarding Christianity"...

More to come,



Infidels, anyone?

Today is the start of an interesting sidebar for me. I'm going to respond to a friend's anti-thesis of Christian faith at

The author of Infidelis Maximus is a friend and someone whom I believe can really enjoy a good rational discussion about all things related to Christian faith or the disavowel thereof.

So if you're interested in any of these sorts of religions discussions, you may also wish to look at Infidelis Maximus. But please do remember to keep any postings or comments there rational and discoursive, ok?

In the meanwhile, I'd be interested in knowing if you have any blogs related to the Christian faith that you find to be a strong reinforcement to your faith? Inquiring minds want to know!



Sunday, October 08, 2006


Funny car tricks

Ok, these two posts are worth the 5 or 10 minutes it takes to watch them.

... and ...



Friday, October 06, 2006


100 Years of Advancement

I got this note from my uncle about how the much the USA has changed in 100 years. The changes are quite extraordinary. It also illustrates to me how important "cultural receptivity" is to change.

The USA has a culture that is among the most accommodating to change ever in the history of the world. (Renaissance Italy is probably the other society that comes to mind.) And yet many of these changes (listed below) caused powerful ripples throughout our society and culture. For example, women have only been able to vote since 1920 and, even in my childhood in the 1960's and 1970's, I recall women being depicted primarily as flibberty-gibbets like Edith Bunker. Depictions like that in popular media today are for comedic affect only because it's odd to think of a woman as just naturally stupid. Back then, it was the norm. Imagine how hard some of these changes might be to ingrain into other cultures of the world, such as an Islamic culture, where the inferiority of women is a fundamental part of the mindset. For this very reason, I think that some of the actions in the Middle East of the current administration is naive at best and blindingly foolhardy at worst.

So here's the email:

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine! The year is 1906. One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes! Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the Year 1906:


The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.

With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at HOME.

Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

Women had no right to vote. Wyoming gave women the right to vote in state elections several years before the rest of the nation because it was a frontier state with many men but few women. State legislaters hoped to attract more women to the state.

Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza (The 1918 Influenza epidemic, called the "Spanish Flu" killed tens of millions worldwide.)
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars - Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,
regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 -reported- murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


A Couple Movie Reviews

I took Dylan & Emily to see "Jackass 2" last week. We arrived at the theaters on a Monday evening while it was still light out. But as we walked in, I noticed a dark and furry blotch on the wall. It was a bat. Even though it was about 8' off the ground, we all took turns looking at it up close because we were able to climb the wall. It was such a cute little thing! Here's a pic of the cute little critter.

Ok, now for the movie. Like most of the Jackass skits from MTV and the first Jackass movie, this movie is totally juvenile. It also had a few scenes that caused me to laugh so hard that I cried. On the other hand, it had twice as many scenes that nearly made me toss my cookies. The nausea-provoking scenes were so gross that they still haunt me a week later. I wish I could get those freakin' images out of my mind! Ugh! My advice - don't see it unless you love a complete and total barf-o-rama.

Just a couple days ago, on Monday, I took Anna & Katie to see "Open Season". This movie is the new Sony Entertainment animated movie featuring the voice talents of Ashton Kutcher as Elliot the deer and Martin Lawrence as Boog the bear.

I took the girls to Shoe Carnival before hand in search of some new Mary Janes. We found some great ones as well as a couple pair of flipflops on clearance. Notice our extremely helpful sales associate in the background?

While I didn't leave the theater wanting to rush to a toilet or trash can to wretch, I wasn't exactly thrilled either. A good animated film leaves the kids satisfied, but gives the adults a lot to grin about with double-entendre and jokes that go right over the heads of the little ones. The best recent example of this sort of film is 'Shrek'. My rating for this film is 2.5 out of 5. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't much fun for me. In fact, I wouldn't even recommend renting this film unless the kids (and not you) were the only ones going to watch the film.



Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Why I don't like the Moral Majority...

Have you heard what Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell said in the aftermath of 9/11? While a guest on Robertson's show, The 700 Club, two days after 9/11 the two had this conversation:

Falwell - "What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."

Robertson - "Well, Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror, we haven't begun to see what they can do to the major population."

Falwell - "The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this. And I know I'll hear from them for this, but throwing God...successfully with the help of the federal court system...throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen."

Robertson - "I totally concur, and the problem is we've adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system."

Ironically, these two sound more like Osama Bin Laden than righteous Christians. Bin Laden says that it's justifiable to kill American citizens anywhere in the world because they’re "responsible for what the top people do." On top of that, Bin Laden has reviled the U.S. for a litany of reasons, the most important being (these are Bin Laden's descriptions, btw, not mine) - 1) American troops in Saudi Arabia near the holy sites of Islam, 2) American support of oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis, and 3) American support of the corrupt Saudi royal family. But Bin Laden has also ridiculed the USA and Europe as 'Christian' nations. So regardless of what the ACLU, feminists, and abortionists make Robertson and Falwell think of the Christian condition of this country, it is Robertson and Falwell's moral majority influence in America that has influenced Bin Laden's perception far more than the ultra-liberal groups in the USA.

Now add to these earlier words the more recent statements by Robertson with regards to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias:

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop… We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

In effect, he is telling us all of the reasons that we should break our own laws and customs, plus those of the international community. But not only that, he's telling us we should break the Lord's own laws. It was Christ's example in the garden of Gethsemene, after all, where Christ prevented Peter from defending him by force and, in fact, healed the one soldier sent to capture him that had been injured.

After having seen Robertson and Falwell do their thing for some time now, I actually believe that they are more of a danger to our American way of life than are the most of the outside forces that conspire against us.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Some favorite poetry & songs

There's something magical about music. A person could stand on a stage and say the exact same words as the lyric of a song and it'll do nothing to me. But add to those lyrics a melody and some music, and all of my defenses go out the window. I'm not sure if it's embarrassing to say this, but good songs more than just about any other thing can turn on my waterworks.

Here are two examples, one old and one new, that are evocative and powerful poems for me. And as I mentioned before, they poetry is one thing but hearing them sung takes me to an entirely different level altogether. I'm particularly vulnerable to songs about love torn asunder and star-crossed lovers because, well honestly, I think that I've been there. To hear a sample of the song, click the title.

Jimmy Whelan (traditional, sung by Karan Casey)

One evening of late as I went a walking
Watching the sunbeams as evening drew nigh
'Twas onwards I rambled and I spied a fair maiden
A weeping and a wailing with many's a sigh

For one who is gone and now lies lonely
Lonely for one no mortal can tell
Her deep roaming waters roll swiftly around him
And the grass it lies green over young Jimmy's grave

Oh Jimmy she cried now don't go and leave me
Don't go and leave me here for to mourn
Take me oh take along with you darling
Down to your grave and the cold silent tomb

My darling he said you are asking a favour
That no mortal on earth could grant onto thee
For death is the dagger that has torn us asunder
And wide is the grave love between you and me

For tis oft times you walk by the banks of the river
My spirit will watch you to guard and to keep
There will I hover and ever fly over
To protect my darling from the cold silent tomb

One fond embrace love and then I must leave you
One loving farewell and then we must part
Cold were the arms that encircled around her
And cold was the form she pressed to her heart

Then slowly he rose from the banks of the river
Up to the skies he then seem to go
Leaving this fair maid by the side of the water
A weeping and a wailing with many's a sigh

Oh Jimmy she cried now don't go and leave me
Don't go and leave me here for to mourn
Take me oh take along with you darling
Down to your grave and the cold silent tomb

I don't really know what the next song is about except for anguish and loss. But somehow, the last three lines are particularly powerful to me.

Worse than Pride (by Kieran Goss)

They were children playing games
Burnt their fingers in the flame
Flying high above the sky
Blinded by the vision in their eye
Too young to question why
Their destinies will coincide
She dressed in white just to be his bride
Love is worse than pride

Saw her fall down from the sky
And smile politely at the passers by
She knows it's too late to go home
Built a house, she's living on her own
It's hard to be alone
And in the embers of the flame
Dressed in black she's calling out his name
It isn't worth the pain
If destinies won't coincide
And you dress in black just to be his bride
Then love is worse than pride

I guess I don't think of most people, especially men, as enjoying poetry. But I sure do. What are your thoughts on it?



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