Sunday, December 17, 2006
To my Sunday school class, thank you for the insights that have made the class a highlight of my week. Our exploration of the Bible and search for truth have been such blessings to me. The frank discussions of Christ, God, the Bible, and our experiences in so many different walks of life have made for a rich and fertile environment in which to grow in our understanding of, and walk with, Jesus.
Thank you also for the friendships that have grown from our fellowship. Getting to know, and love, one another is one of the highest callings we have as Christians.
Thank you to the "doers" who make things happen, like the potluck dinner today. Thank you to the encouragers, who take the time to listen and understand when others have things we need to say. Thank you to the mature Christians, who have walked with Christ for many seasons, and help keep us younger Christians on track in our search for the truth.
Thank you to my family, both nuclear and extended, for being the wonderful people they are. The kindness and acceptance I've experienced over my lifetime is an unrepayable gift I've been given. I'm blessed beyond anything I deserve.
Most of all, though, I give glory and thanks to God, who, in his infinite wisdom, because of His love, grace, and mercy, saw fit to intervene in history, and present Himself to us as a little baby. He trusted that those who loved Him would care for that baby, and raise that child up to be a man; that through the man Jesus, his death and resurrection, God would provide for me a plan for being reconciled to Him.
A plan for being made whole.
A plan for being healed and renewed.
A plan for being made new.
A plan for true eternal life.
It's not just Jesus' birth that is the reason for the season. It's who Jesus was that makes the season special.
God incarnate, The Word made real, and the LORD of my life. May we remember this together, celebrating the joy and peace and love brought by Jesus, and then freely given to us as a gift from God.
John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world so that He might condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Here, a young 2-pointer with barely any antlers scratches his back.
This fawn belongs to that buck. The buck wandered away and left the fawn alone with momma to face me, the menacing human.
A little closer down by the river I found this doe and her fawn, watching me intently. All told I think I saw 4 fawns.
The doe was keeping a watchful eye on me, while a small group of wild turkeys walked by and perched up on an old log.
A little closer to the river's edge, these two deer were eating quietly in a clearing.
I'm told on a good morning one can see even more wildlife, but I didn't have all that much time. It sure was a neet change from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Considering this wildlife area is in the middle of town, that's a nice thing.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Church of England Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, speaks very clearly to the current anger and resentment between religions, especially in England.
Now, I find TNT is showing all sappy love movies all day long. I just finished watching Sweet November, and now Save The Last Dance is on.
I have to admit, as manly as I like to pretend I am, I DO love a good chick flick.
The weather is so gorgeous, I think after the movie I'll go out and enjoy a drive.
So, off to enjoy a day off.
Oh, and this should put the hilarious but now somewhat annoying Zelda video off the front page, and do away with that freakin' music every time the page loads up!
Friday, September 15, 2006
The offending snippet from the Pope's speech is as follows:
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He (the emperor) said (to the Persian man), I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"
Now, from my admittedly limited understanding of Islam (although I have read a bit and studied the commentary of many scholars on just what Islam does teach), I honestly don't see where the Pope was wrong.
Mind you, I'm no fan of the Pope or the catholic church in general. I'm a protestant, evangelical Christian who believes Jesus died for my sins, and I need no moderator between God and myself other than Jesus Christ. No amount of good works or Hail Mary's will cleanse my soul, or set me right. Grace through faith in Jesus, and forgiveness of sins through repentance in my heart is the only saving grace given by God.
The Pope does not speak for me, nor does he for the world's millions of protestant Christians. But he does, often, speak for the cause of Christ in this world, and is a positive force for good, which I believe should be defended and supported when the need arises.
To this point, though, let's look at the reaction to the Pope's comments in the Muslim world, and contrast that with the Christian response to similar instances when Christ and the Christian faith is attacked, and let you judge for yourself the attitude and heart of Islam.
Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader in the Turkish Prime Minister's political party says, " (Pope) Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words. He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as (Adolf) Hitler and (Benito) Mussolini."
The same category as Hitler and Mussolini? Hmmmm...
Hmmm... Describing Islam as intolerant encourages violence? Why would tolerant Muslims be violent? If Islam is a tolerant religion, shouldn't Muslims me... uhm... tolerant? Sounds like a bit of a paradox to me.
Ignite wrath? That sounds awfully tolerant. Very peaceful. Non-threatening.
I could go on and on and on.
For example, Muslim reaction to the cartoons of Muhammad last year in European newspapers was what?
Riots, demonstrations, and threats of homicide to those that continued to publish the cartoons. I believe an embassy or two was attacked, and I know there were some fires set in some cities. Very tolerant.
What was Muslim reaction to 9/11 and the destruction of the WTC?
In many parts of the Muslim world,
What about the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa (death sentence) against Salman Rushdie, encouragingMuslimss to kill him and claim a multi-million dollar reward so many years ago, just for writing a book critical of Kohmahni and the Quran?
Tolerance? Doesn't look that way to me.
Anyway, let's look at the Christian response to similar instances.
Let's see.... Pope John Paul II was shot in the 1980's by Muslim man.
The Pope's response? John Paul forgave the man, and the assassin later apologized and tearfully thanked the Pope from his prison cell for that forgiveness.
What about mischaractarizations of the Christianan faith, cartoons lampooning Jesus, books decrying the false-hood and fallacy of Christianity, of which there are literally too many to count?
How many Christians rioted in the streets, burned businesses, threatened to burn embassies, or promised to overthrow governments? Hmmmm.... lemme think.... zero!
See, both sides, Muslim and Christian, can claim tolerance and compassion, but one has to put tolerance into action, and see the results in life, if one is to be believed.
Islam claims to be a tolerant, peace-loving religion, but I just don't see the evidence.
The basic tenant of Islam is that Allah is all powerful, and Allah demands to be worshipped by all people. On this point there is no argument from Muslims. You don't have a choice. Allah must be worshipped. And yes, the Quran DOES INDEED teach that use of the sword, to fight and kill those who physically oppose Islam, is not only right but demanded as obedience to Allah.
In the Quran, Allah demands that the the muslim do all that he or she can to bring others to belief in Allah, and to establish Allah's word as LAW in the land where they live. This is the concept of sharia, where the Quran is the law of the land. It is a condition of Islam, and the way of life in most of the Islamic world. The religion is the government, and the government is the religion.
That is why so many Muslims around the world have a difficult time understanding that the USA, although it's citizens claim to be predominantly Christian, is not a "Christian nation", and why so many Muslims simply hate George Bush, because they see him as an outspoken "Christian" leader. I believe GWB is Christian in his heart, but he is the secular leader of a nation, as well. The Muslim can not separate those two things in his mind. They are inseparable to him.
On the other hand, the Christian God, Jehovah, does not demand all people worship Him. Each of us are freely given a choice to believe or not. No Christian will demand that, either you believe or you must be killed as an infidel. In fact, Jesus himself didn't chase after anyone, demanding they believe in him. He simply stated the facts, and let people think what they wanted. Some followed, others didn't. Jesus told his disciple Peter to put his sword away, when Peter lashed out and cut off the ear of one of the guards who were coming to arrest Jesus. Jesus demonstrated that physical resistance, the sword, is simply not the Christian way.
Ok, go ahead, bring up the Crusades. I'll say in once, and once only - the Crusades were NOT Christian. Christ would not have headed up any Crusade. They were power struggles fueled by evil, greedy men, fighting for land, power, and influence in the world. The Crusades had NOTHING to do with Jesus, his mission to preach the Good News to the world, or anything even resembling Jesus' ministry here on earth. They were evil, and NO WHERE in the Bible do you find justification for them.
That being said,
That being said,both religions do believe in the final judgment of mankind, after we die, but again, there are differences, with compassion coming down hard on the side of Jehovah. To the Christian, Jesus died, giving his own life freely, then rose from the grave to new life, so that anyone who wants to have faith in Christ can have eternal life - entrance into Heaven, or as the Muslim thinks of it, Paradise.
Jehovah gives the promise to the Christian that, by faith, we can enter Heaven when we die, because our sins have been forgiven. The Quran teaches that Allah judges as he will, and does not promise the Muslim any entrance into heaven, no matter how hard he works. The Muslim has to hope that his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds in life; thus the Islamic emphasis on good deeds. Even then, the Muslim is promised nothing by Allah.
In fact, the ONLY promised way in Islam to get into paradise is by dying in jihad - holy war. What is holy war? The literal war to bring the Islamic faith to the entire world. Hence, suicide or homicide bombers, giving their lives in a cause, thinking they are going to Paradise.
Does that sound like compassion and tolerance to you? Literally killing those that don't believe as you do, as commanded by your God? Blowing yourself up in a marketplace, killing innocent people, in the name of your God - does that sound like compassion? Like peace?
So, I ask you, where is the Pope wrong?
I don't believe he is. As some very few scholars have done, I tend to give the Pope respect for speaking the hard truth. I hope he sticks to his principles and stands hard by the faith he professes.
Oh, by the way, did you catch Rosie O'Donnell on The View, with her take on Christianity and Islam?
ABC's Rosie O'Donnell told a nationwide audience this week that "radical Christians" are the same as radical Muslims who piloted hijacked jetliners into
"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like
Oy-vey. She sounds like a Muslim, unable to distinguish between Christians in
And, again, I implore you: in order to see the HUGE differences between the two faiths, watch the Christian reaction to Rosie's comments.
They will certainly protest, and even ask for an apology (as is right), but there will be no riots; no burnings; no mass protests with threats to kill infidels. Rosie is free to say what she wants, without fear of anything other than a few unkind words.
See if she could pull that off Muslim muslim world.
I think not.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
".......the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different futureIn that same address, CNN notes President Clinton also stated that, while other countries also had weapons of mass destruction, Hussein is in a different category because he has used such weapons against his own people and against his neighbors.
for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime
in Baghdad now offers.
Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are:
The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member.
This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.
The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments
that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire
freedom like everyone else.
The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into
a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.
My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application
of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes
will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.
In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council's efforts to keep the
current regime's behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the
Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi
community that could lead to a popularly supported government."
President Bill Clinton, October 31, 1998, in signing the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998."
"Saddam (Hussein) must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas
or biological weapons."
President Bill Clinton, in an Oval Office address to the nation, December 16, 1998, detailing his reasons for
ordering a missle strike on Iraq.
Further quoting from that same address, "Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors."
WMD's? I thought WMD's were a lie, made up by President Bush.After all, Iraq was just sitting over there quietly minding their own business for all the President Clinton years, right?
Seems pretty clear to me that the Clinton Administration was pretty sure Iraq had WMD's. Also pretty sure that "regime change" was needed in Iraq. Uninamous, in fact, I believe the story read.
But wasn't overthrowing Saddam Hussein was all President Bush's idea? Some sort of vendetta for trying to assassinate his dad?
Oh, you silly liberal wackos. How quickly we forget.
Friday, August 11, 2006
This morning I went downtown to see my parents. Having been on vacation these past 2 weeks, my schedule has been a bit off, and I moved my usual Monday morning breakfast with my dad to Friday.
When I got to my parent's house about 9am, I found my dad sitting in his easy chair, looking a little tired, and my mom sitting in the chair next to his taking his blood pressure. Now, this is not all that uncommon (he is 80 years old, and has had a heart by-pass, after all), and he'd spent the last three days doing mentoring duty with the local blind society.
But, upon talking to my mom, I come to find out mom called 911 last night and had an ambulance take my dad to the hospital because his blood pressure last night had become perilously low. They were at the hospital for about 3 hours, after which my dad's BP stabilized, and they came home.
Did my mom call anyone? Any of my brothers or sisters in town?
No. She didn't seem to think it was all that important. Sometimes she astounds me.
Anyway, neither of them were worried about it, so I didn't want to add my worries to theirs. Dad was tired, but still up for the task of drinking coffee and eating breakfast, so off the Denny's we went.
Ya, Denny's. I dunno about your neck of the woods, but Denny's around here as improved their game immensely! The Denny's restaurants around Sacramento are pretty darn good restaurants, and I have yet to be disappointed by a breakfast meal there.
So, we ate and drank and talked, then went over to Radio Shack where dad picked up a digital-recorder (so he can leave himself voice notes - can't read the notebook anymore, ya know), and the hardware store for a light-socket switch. I got him home about 11:30am, after which I needed to sit down at my mom's computer and figure out why her Outlook Express suddenly stopped sending e-mail through her sbcglobal.net account.
It took me a few hours, but I found a forum online that gave me an alternate "outgoing port" (instead of 25, I used 537, and it worked just fine - for those of you that don't do techno, just know I was very happy!). I let out a whoop of joy when I sent an e-mail and told mom is was fixed.
After that, I went and picked up my daughter Lindsey and took her to the DMV for a 2:30pm appointment to get her California ID card, and her learner's permit. I also had to pay the registration on my car (which was, of course, late and I had a few parking tickets) to the tune of a whopping $454. After choking out the check for that, Lindsey sweated through her learner's permit test, missed 7 of the allowed 8, and passed on the first try! She was so happy.
Flush with newfound permission (the way she put it was, "I now have the permission of a faceless and souless bureaucracy to drive legally on the streets with an adult hovering next to the wheel"), we went to the back parkinglot of the high school where she proceeded to drive my car around in circles for about 15 minutes, getting the feel of the ol' girl. Then I told Lindsey to take her out on the street.
Yeah, the public street. Lindsey looked at me, swallowed, sat up a little straighter, and off we went.
Never passing the 25mph barrier, Lindsey tooled us through the neighborhood with ease, stopping at all the appropriate stop signs, and turning at all the required turns. After about 40 minutes we went back to the high school where she, with much bolstered confidence, told me this driving thing is kinda fun.
I dropped Lindsey back off at her mom's about 5pm, got home at 5:30, where I picked up Cameron (who'd been home at my apartment alone all day and was BORED to tears), and took her out for a quick bite of dinner before heading over to church for worship team rehearsal, which ran until a little past 9pm.
So, home now, and having watched my required Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, I find myself taking a moment to recount my day to you, the intrepid reader. I think this is the longest I've sat in one place all day.
Well, aside from meals.
And the seat of my car.
And the Stargate fest.
Wonder what I'd be doing if I wasn't on VACATION!
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Hezbollah still using civilian cover in villages for their rocket attacks.
Hezbollah rockets actually being fired from inside the garage of a house, just before Israeli bombs destroy it.
And you'll love this: Hot Air.com with lots of links to downright fraudulent reporting.
Amazing stuff folks. None of which I have seen in mainstream media.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Left & Right has a good blog detailing the photo-shop work done on a picture of a smoky Beruit skyline, in an effort to make it look worse then the reality.
The Jawa Report details fake smoke trails and fake "bombs" added for dramatic effect to detail missiles being fired from an Israeli F-16.
The kicker on this last one is that the caption run by Reuters on the doctored photo read
"An Israeli F-16 warplane fires missiles during an air strike on Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon, August 2, 2006. (LEBANON)".
Any military expert can tell you the smoke trails in the photo don't come from missiles, but from defensive flares being popped out of the airplane in an effort to confuse Hezbollah heat seeking SAM's.
So, not only did Reuters not catch the very basic problem with the facts of the story that the photographer provided,(missiles vs. flares) but they didn't catch the fact that the photos were doctored until the blogosphere ignited and began screaming bloody murder!
The news agency was either complicit in the conspiracy to lie to it's readers, or duped by Pallywood reporters and photographers with an agenda to sell. My bet is on being duped, because (everyone say it together) the photos are more compelling and sensational than the truth because they have been doctored to be such, and Reuters wants to (let's all say it again) sell papers and footage to make money.
Finally, after hearing the masses demanding honesty, Reuters fires a Lebanese freelance journalist for providing photo-shopped pictures.
This was Reuters, folks, not some little small town newspaper. Reuters is one of the worlds leading new agencies, with a reputation for accuracy and integrity. They have fact checkers, vetters, and copy editors all over the world, and they missed these very important, widely publicized photos.
How many more get through? How often is the media selling you and I a bag of lies? This is scary stuff folks, and just the tip of the iceberg.
They can't even agree on the facts. Forbes.com says in their story that "Since the fighting began, at least 689 people have died on the Lebanese side of the conflict. The Israeli toll stood at 100 killed - 36 civilians and 65 soldiers. "
But the Independent Online says "....Israel's war with Hezbollah fighters that has cost around 1,000 Lebanese and 101 Israeli lives in four weeks."
ABC.NET says "At least 961 people have been killed in Lebanon in the conflict, with dozens more still missing and presumed dead. 98 Israelis have been killed since Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 touched off the war."
(Even that last paragraph is incomplete in it's reporting. Don't forget that Hezbollah captured the two Israeli soldiers after attacking their small convoy unprovoked, killing 8 Israeli soldiers in the fighting, THEN captured the two that they KIDNAPPED.)
So who's telling the truth?
You'll notice the Israeli death totals are very consistent, +/- 3 in the stories, while the Lebanese count ranges +/- over 300 or so. Is Israel being more truthful? Is information harder to get out of Lebanon since that's where the fighting is going on? Does Hezbollah or the Israelis have an agenda to sell to the west? Are reporters willing to take the most dramatic numbers available and run with, since it sounds more... hmmm... sensational?
Who's telling the truth?
I don't know, I can certainly tell you some people are lying to us, and it plain makes me sick.
Ok, back to my 5-hours of Star Trek and Deep Space Nine on SpikeTV in the afternoons. I need to keep my blood pressure down.
Monday, August 07, 2006
I try hard not to keep myself inundated by our Media, mainly because none of them tell us the truth. It's so hard to know what to believe, what's truthful, what's spin, and what's outright lying.
Don't trust any of the news coming out of the Middle East that you see on TV. We are being played so badly it's sickening. Watch this video that can be found on YouTube.com (and a dozen other places), then do a search for Pallywood, and see just how badly you are being lied to, and how the Western Media is feeding you pablum and lies every single day.
Remember, the Western Media thrives and survives on what's sensational. Houses burn down every day in American, but good lord, catch one on video, and it'll be national news. If there are no images, no video, no emotion tied to the story, then its NOT a story.
If you don't believe there's more staging and media spin going on in the Middle East than you are being told, read up a bit.
And that's just for starters.
I'm gonna go back into my little hidey-hole, stick my head in the sand, build by 14' X 14' shack in the wilderness and husband weapons now.
Just don't take what the media is feeding you at face value. We're being lied to folks. Acknowledge that, and you're on the way to some true news.
Friday, August 04, 2006
We rolled into the park around 6pm or so. We camped in the campground on the wooded east side of Coastal Hwy One this time. The west side campground, which is on a hill right above the ocean, is often very windy. I didn't feel like doing wind this time. The east side campgrounds turned out to be surprisingly well protected, and even on Monday when the coast was very windy in places, there was but a very light breeze in camp.
Emily wanted to do some walking with her dog and look at beaches at the coast. Now, my idea of camping is sitting like a lump in the campground, drinking coffee, reading, and listening to the radio, but because I love my daughter (and she had a good idea, truth be told) we started out at Stump Beach, which is a short drive north of the main campground. The beach is a short hike from the parking lot to a bluff, then down a long set of makeshift stairs to a small beach. The far rock wall is home to a small colony of Brandt's Cormorants who nest on the sheer cliffs, safe from predators.
This view of the cove from the far right end of the beach shows the sheer cliff walls, and the complex geology of the region. We spent some time here at low tide, exploring the rocks and pools.
Next we headed further north up Hwy 1 to the Sea Ranch community. Sea Ranch is a private community of about 5,000 acres perched along the coast, with gorgeous but unobtrusive homes and small enclaves all along the bluffs. Several years ago, after much discussion, several public accesses were created for beach access (since the beaches themselves are not private property, just the land you have to walk across to get to them). We stopped at Shell Beach (I think), and walked the 1/2 mile to the bluff, then down this staircase built into the cliff face, down to the beach.
The views of the beach, and the surrounding area, were just spectacular. The weather was beyond perfect, and we wound up coming back to this beach 3 times, and spending a great deal of time just sitting and enjoying the waves, the birds, and the sun.
At this beach there was an unremarkable large rock sitting in the middle of the surf. This photo shows it at high tide, but at low tide I wandered over to it for no reason in particular. Once there, I noticed it was covered with mussels. Then I noticed a starfish. Once my eyes "knew" what they were seeing, I noticed the rock was COVERED with starfish. Had to be well over a hundred, easy, all intertwined and camouflaged in the bed of mussels. Some of the were huge! The starfish all bunched together in the first following photo are at least 16"-18" across. The mussels ranged from very small, say the size of a quarter, all the way up to the size of a large potato, and some even bigger. Pretty amazing that this little oceanic gem hides in plain view in the middle of a lovely beach.
We staying at the coast till Wednesday morning, when we got up at 6am and raced back to Sacramento so that Emily could get to work by 11am. The drive along the coast down through Bodega Bay at that early hour was gorgeous, and we saw several deer and all kinds of raccoons still out. After getting home, I saw Emily off, showered, checked my mail, then turned around and headed back to the coast for one more night camping.
The weather remained good, the breeze stayed down, and I stayed up late with a roaring fire watching movies on my portable DVD player.
Yeah, yeah, I know, but what better place to relax and watch movies than in a quiet campground with a roaring fire?. Modern life is what it is, deal with it. LOL
I slept in till 10:30am (almost all day for a camper), after hearing raccoons rattling around the campsite at night. They left evidence of their sleuthing on my bag, but other than that, left no damage. The previous night I'd heard the raccoons climbing on the picnic table, so I stuck my head out of my tent, shined my flashlight on them, and the little suckers just stared at me! Didn't scare them a bit, and they didn't wander off till I actually started to get out of my tent, at which point they sauntered off. I could actually sense the attitude. Little thieves ain't afraid of people, that's for sure!
I came home Thursday, after packing up and leaving the campsite as clean as I found it. I could live over on the North California coast, if ever the opportunity presented itself. Till then, I'll enjoy the visits.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Current conditions as of 3:45 pm PDT
- Feels Like: 111° forecastst High: 117° Low: 76°
Tomorrow: Mainly sunny. Near record high temperatures. High 113F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.
Tomorrow night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 72F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph.
Tuesday: Sunny skies. Very hot. High 107F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Wednesday: Mainly sunny. Highs 104 to 108F and lows in the upper 60s.
Thursday: Sunny. Highs 107 to 111F and lows in the upper 60s.
And just to make my point, here's a photo of my dashboard thermometer at 8am this morning:
I feel for all you folks across Midwestwest who deal with this humidity and heat every summer. We normally get hot, but this is, like, Africa hot!
My heart goes out to the folks in places like St. Louis who have NO POWER and are suffering through even worse.
Hot is hot is hot!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
There's a story on the front page of the Sacramento Bee today (and probably similar stories in newspapers all across the country), "Families Feel Bite of Inflation".
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
This rustic, abandoned old house is on the road along the mouth of the Klamath River in Humboldt County. If you look at the upstairs bedroom windows, you can see a bedpost still sitting in a bedroom.
A couple of big Roosevelt Elk bucks, along the road in Patrick's Point State Park. The northern California coast is the last range for wild Roosevelt Elk in North America.
Crescent City seen from a vista point just south of the town. You can see the harbor, the long beach, and the pelican filled rocks at the far left tip of town. Pelican Bay state prison is just north of town, so named for the numerous pelicans in the area.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Let me tick off a list of things that has happened, and get things up to speed.
School is out.
My middle daughter graduated high school, 49th in her class. Not too shabby.
I took my two youngest on vacation, a few days camping on Bodega Bay, then a few days driving around the northern California coast, around Crescent City and Eureka.
July 4th came and went.
Ok, that about brings things up to speed.
You can see, there hasn't been all that much to blog about. ;-)
So, in the interest of easing back into blogging, let me leave this basic welfare-check with a photo of the majestic Mount Shasta as seen from the Vista Point on California's Interstate Highway 5.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Yup, my mom, who is in her 70's, has taken an interest to tackle the intricacies and mysteries of the interweb, the "double-you, double-you, double you, dot", the great super-highway of information dotted with prattfalls and dark holes.
She got her first e-mails and replied to a few today, and even made her way to a web page on the Atkins diet using Google.
Gotta love it. This is a huge step for her, I gotta tell ya. For years, the internet was a giant mystery, and she wanted nothing to do with it. I guess all us kids talking to her about sending e-mails back and forth, web-pages, blogs and journals, broke down the uncertainty and has brought her smack-dab into the 21st century.
She even has DSL!!!
So, mom, my hat's off to you for trying something new and mysterious!
Friday, April 21, 2006
Anyway, here's the tag:
Name ten of life's simple pleasures that you like most, then pick ten people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used.
That’s not too easy, but I'll try. These are in no particular order. I just went with the stream of conciousness thing.
1. Breathing. Really. I’ve suffered allergies on and off my entire life, and when I go a stretch without major allergies bothering me, the simple pleasure of taking air into my nostrils without being congested or plugged is just wonderful.
2. Sitting on a high ridge somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, usually somewhere in Hope Valley on Hwy 88, on a clear, cool day, with a breathtaking vista below, and just watching. I can sit quietly for a long time, and just listen to the silence and watch the scenery unfold with pristine stillness. Sometimes I can actually hear that movie-like eagle screech in the distance.
3. I like to spend time with my kids. Granted, they are getting older (my eldest, of course, is already living in her own place), so they sort of have lives of their own, and they are busy doing things with friends; but just having them in the home, knowing they will be there, sleeping in their room, eating my food, flushing my toilets (hahah you get my point!) is a joy. I miss them when they are at their mom’s, as I’m sure she misses them when they are with me.
4. I love to sing. God blessed me with a pretty decent voice, and a fair sense of timing, and I like to use the gift every chance I get. I sing mainly at church, because I prefer to sing music that has meaning and passion behind. There is non-Christian music which I enjoy, don’t get me wrong, but the joy in singing for me is in praising God and ministering through music.
5. I love music. Now, this is different from #4 because #4 deals with the specific act of getting up in front of people and sharing my talent. #5 here deals with the fact that I can get lost in listening to music. I love all types, as long as it’s joyful, loving, kind, and uplifting. I love thundering rock anthems; screeching, speed-burning guitar solos; soaring orchestras and weeping concertos; silky R&B or smoky blues; I love it all, honest. The only caveat I have is that the music must be uplifting, meaningful, honest – in short, it must have a good attitude. That does eliminate a lot of music for me, but that’s ok, there’s plenty left on the “right” side to enjoy.
6. Reading a good book. I usually do my reading at night before I go to bed. I go curl up in bed, prop up the pillows, and read to my heart’s content, and often to my detriment, since I’m usually up far to late for my own good. I’m a sci-fi junkie, but very picky about my sci-fi. I’m currently going through all of Peter Hamilton’s books. I don’t like fantasy – yucko – but I prefer hard sci-fi, with spaceships and lasers and aliens set in a distant future. I also enjoy political thrillers and the occasional scary story, a la Dean Koontz or Steven King. Religious books are also a favorite, such as book I recently finished titled A Scandalous Freedom. Reading the different ideas about Christianity, how different people view it and put it into practice is usually good food for thought.
7. My parents. I try to go to breakfast with my dad once a week. He turns 80 at the end of this month. I get so much out of talking to him. We usually try to solve all the world’s problems over eggs and at least 2 pots of coffee at Denny’s. We’ve been doing breakfast pretty regular for about 5 years now. I know he looks forward to it, and so do I. The true beauty of seeing each other so often though is in knowing I’ve said everything to him that I’ve ever felt I needed to say. One day, in the not terribly distant future, my dad will pass away. I’ll have no regrets.
I’ve also gotten to know my mom much better. She’s also getting older, and the same concerns loom as for my father – in the not to distant future, she will pass away. But we’ve gotten to talk to so much, and told each other so many things that again, I’ll have no regrets. I’ll miss them terribly, of course, but I’ll be OK with it when it happens. They have both been the bedrocks and foundations of my life, and because of them I’ve always known the meaning of unconditional love.
8. This goes hand in hand with #2 – camping and fishing. Now, I’m not a “good” camper or fisherman yet. I’m still experimenting with tents and campgrounds and equipment, but I love getting outside and enjoying the semi-wilderness. I usually camp in developed campgrounds in the Sierras, or along the California coast. I love SLEEPING outside in my tent. My favorite part of the day while camping is crawling into bed, and (see #6 above) reading the book I always bring along, for as late as I want. Curling down in my sleeping bag, bundled up against the cold, I usually sleep like a baby. I haven’t gotten to GO camping in recent years as much as I’d like, but I plan to remedy that.
9. I used to take simple attendance at church for granted. Since for the last 4 years I had to work Sundays, I don’t take Sunday’s for granted anymore. The simple joy of sitting down and worshipping with fellow believers is a privilege I won’t ignore again.
10. Coffee. I love the smell of coffee brewing. I love coffee in just about all forms – as a drink, candy, ice cream, rolls, whatever. I just love my coffee. The best part of coffee, though, would be someone to wake up in the morning and share it with. The Good Lord will work on that in His time, but until then, I’ll keep the second cup clean and dry.
Hmmm.. .I had more to say on that than I thought!
Friday, April 14, 2006
Day 2 of the Every 15 Minutes event was highlighted by a school assembly in which all the "dead" students returned and assembled on the auditorium stage. A local media celebrity MC'd the assembly (aptly, she is the traffic reporter for a local morning TV news program) which consisted of a video of the previous day's events (the students being pronounced "dead", and the simulated car crash on the football field, along with video of the "victims" being worked on in the ER and at the morgue, all set to extremely emotional music), a keynote speech by a passionate MADD advocate who lost her own eldest daughter to a drunk driver, and "last letters" from the parents to the "dead" students, and vice-versa, read openly to the audience.
Needless to say emotions were running very high. I don't think I've ever seen more high school aged kids willing to cry and be emotional about anything.
I was one of the parents that got to read my "last letter" to Camie, which I posted for you previously. Camie had no idea I was picked, and as I got to reunite with her up on stage, I picked her up in a big bear hug and twirled her around a few times before putting her down. It really was kind of like getting my dead daughter back. The simulation be damned, it was still emotional.
After the assembly, the participants were invited to a luncheon where we got to share with other parents and students about the event.
Gidget asked me, what was Camie's reaction to it all?
She was pretty OK with the whole thing. She and I are apart often, since she spends part of her time at her mom's house, so the "out of contact" thing wasn't all that unique. What really surprised her was how many students knew her, and how wide the circle of people was that would be effected by her absence. After it was all over, there were friends and acquaintances from all over the school coming up to her, and hugging her, and telling her they were glad she's back! I got several hugs from the kids, too, since I know several of them, and again, the circle of the affected is wider than either Camie or I thought.
In fact, a case in point: my next door neighbor here in the apartment complex is a good friend. She works in law-enforcement, and knows what a policeman and chaplain going to someone's door usually means, which is usually bad news. Well, long about 3pm on the first day, after the death notification, she knocks on my front door. My older daughter answered, and I could hear my neighbor asking, "Is your dad OK?"
I walked to the door, all smiling, glad to see my neighbor, but the look of concern on her face was unmistakable. She had seen the chaplain and police that morning, and had been worried all day that something was wrong. She'd been waiting to see me walking in the parking lot (since we often talk out there), but couldn't stand the wait and finally came to see if I was OK. The look of relief at the fact it was just a simulation was clear, but the incident really illustrated to me, again, the circle is wider than I thought.
Camie and I have been much closer since the event. We always make sure to say "I love you" to each other, give hugs, and I give her a kiss on the forehead before she leaves.
So, I don't think it was anything earthshaking for Camie, but it was definitely thought provoking and sobering.
And sobering is what this event was all about.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I happen to think its quite fortuitous, since my first day back to church as a regular attender will be Easter Sunday.
Which has gotten me to thinking a little bit about Easter, and some of the silliness we contend with each year at this time.
For instance, you've probably heard about the St. Paul, Minn. city council that decided to take down the Easter decorations from the lobby of the city council offices.
Not city sanctioned decorations, but a very small set of decorations brought in by the staff secretary. An Easter bunny, a few pastel Easter eggs in a basket, and a small "Happy Easter" sign by her desk, visible from public view. This secretary has been doing these same type of small decorations at various holidays (Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, and Valentine's Day) for at least 10 years. No one has ever objected.
The reason cited: these decorations might offend non-Christian citizens who come to the council office on business.
And my first thought is..... what??
Yes, I feel consternation at the ridiculous PCness of the council for removing such innocuous items from the lobby. I think we are going way to far in our effort to "de-offend" America. The right to "not be offended" does not exist. I think the PC folks should at least be genuine and admit the entire movement isn't about their compassion for other people's feelings, but more about how other people feel about THEM and their efforts to maintain a good standing in the eyes of others by "looking out for them".
The PC movement is the most disingenuous thing to hit America in years. But that's a WHOLE other post, and I digress.....
What struck me is the council's nonsensical contention that the Easter bunny and pastel eggs would somehow offend non-Christians? Since when are the Easter bunny and eggs CHRISTIAN symbols?
I don't know about you, but the last time I read my Bible, I don't believe the Easter bunny died on the cross, or laid any eggs (much less bright pink and purple ones) at the resurrection. The disciples might have EATEN a bunny at a meal sometime or other (I'm sure the local hunters bagged a bunny on occasion), and probably benefited from the nourishment, but I don't think they deified, worshiped, or in any other way glorified the bunny.
That was reserved for The Guy that died for the sins of the world and was resurrected proving His victory over sin and death, securing for all mankind the gift of eternal life and a relationship with The Creator, if we'd just believe and repent our sins
Wait, let me re-read that last paragraph. Hmmm hmmm.... yes.... hmmmm.. Ok, nothing about an Easter Bunny.
In fact, I'm pretty sure The Bunny isn't mentioned in the Bible at all. Don't quote me on that, though... do your own research.
The Christian message is pretty clear. I don't understand how people bright enough to be elected to city council seats, and moreover the Human Rights Director for the City of St. Paul, Minnesota (who wrote the opinion that the decorations should be taken down), could mistake pastel eggs and a bunny for Jesus Christ, and the Almighty God, Creator Of All That Is.
I don't think there's even a passing similarity. When Moses tried to view God, he nearly went mad at trying to understand the scope and glory of God. But then, I go mad trying to figure out how The Bunny lays eggs.
And all this PCedness to try not to offend non-Christians, comes from the city council in charge of a city named for, arguably, the greatest missionary Christianity has ever know: St. Paul.
Boggles my mind, and the irony is just so deliciously rich.
Let's ponder the real reason for this Easter, folks.
Some 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus died horribly, tragically, but willingly, crucified on a cross, at the hands of Roman guards, a murder instigated and encouraged by the Jewish religious leaders of the day. Three days later Jesus, by the power of the Almighty God, was raised from death, resurrected to life, all for the promise that you and I could do the same, and be reconnected to The Almighty Creator by the Holy Spirit. We, each and every one of us, can live a new life, right here, right now, thanks to that sacrifice over 2000 years ago, and when we physically die, that resurrection promises us the same eternal life that The Almighty provided to Jesus.
Doesn't sound much like eggs and bunnies to me.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
The fire department was first on scene, and began working on the victims. Soon the police showed up, and the CHP helicopter came on scene and actually transported one of the victims to the hospital.
The drunk driver was arrested and actually taken to jail to be booked.
The dead passenger was actually zipped into a body-bag and transported to the morgue.
Pretty powerful stuff.
When the chaplain and the police came, I was cool, until they showed me Camie's obituary. I lost it. Actually started crying, even though I knew it an excersize. Felt freaking real.
Then, part of MY job as a parent is to sort out my feelings, and try to imagine how I WOULD feel if Camie had died, and write a last letter to her. Her obituary said she had died at the wheel of a car, killing three others with her, as a result of being high on weed. To my mind that's so unlike her, the but point of the excersize is, you just never know.
Here's my letter. This will go to Camie tomorrow at a luncheon. She's incommunicado, so there's no chance she'll read it till then.
"Dear god, Camie…. How can you be gone?
You left for school this morning so happy. Freshly showered, your hair still wet, pulled back in ponytails, still smelling like fresh soap and shampoo when I hugged you goodbye. I told you have a good day, you said, “I will. Bye, poppy”.
I cleaned up, showered, got ready for my day. Then came a knock at the door. Strangers were standing outside. The rest is a blur.
And now I find my trust was misplaced! You smoked dope and got behind the wheel of a car! Camie, dammit, how could you?
We’ll never go camping again, or drive to
I will remember wonderful things, Camie. I’ll remember laughing with you at stupid jokes. I’ll remember having serious talks with you about boys and feelings and life. I’ll remember going to movies, picking you and your friends up at the mall, having a house full of giggling kids all there because of you. I’ll remember being baptized with you.
I’ll remember the absolute and complete joy at watching you grow from an awkward child into a beautiful young woman that I loved and respected.
Camie, how can you be gone?
I have a hollow, empty place in life, now. I’ll have it forever. My baby daughter is dead. That makes no sense. Even seeing and hearing the words, they still make no sense to me. It shouldn’t be possible. When we’re young we live forever, right? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Camie, you were supposed to come home tonight, after school. But instead, I’m lost and adrift because something so valuable was so meaninglessly torn away from me. I suppose if your death had meaning, like if you died trying to help someone, or even if you had a simple accident which wasn’t your fault, I could cope better.
But you chose to smoke! You chose to be wreckless, and that’s just not like you! You chose to be dangerous, and you killed yourself and three others. Now, not only me, but three other families are going through what I’m going through. It’s just so senseless, Camie. So senseless.
Camie, I love you, and will always love you. I know the real you, and it wasn’t the real you that did this. That was someone else. The Camie I know, I will miss forever and ever.
Camie, how can you be gone?
All my love, Dad
(Mike Jones, for Camie Jones)"
I'm nervous, edgy, and a little worried about how I'll react. Will I cry? Will I feel anything? Will it seem real?
Oh, my daughter's not actually dead. She's just fine. She taking part at her high school in a program put on by the California Highway Patrol and the local police called "Every 15 Minutes". It's an anti-drinking & driving program, based on the fact that, back in the early 90's when the program was started, there was a US highway fatality caused by drunk driving occurred every 15 minutes. Hence the name of the program.
Camie was picked, along with a coupla dozen other students, to be one of the students today who are pulled out of class and declared "dead". They are taken by staff and some police officer chaperones, to a hotel for the evening, and held completely incommunicado - no phones, no pagers, no visits, nothing. They just have each other to talk to and share their thoughts and feeling with about being "dead".
How is you family feeling? How are you feeling? What impact has your "dying" had on family and friends?
And, as a part of that, I, as a parent, participate by going through the mock "death notification" just as if my daughter actually died in a crash. The chaplain and the police officer will come in and do their thing, just as if it were an actual event.
My lord, I'm getting a bit misty just typing this. I'm gonna fall apart when they actually get here.
A little later I'll go over to the high school and see the mock drunk driving accident they'll have set up on the football field. They'll have actual police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and even, if weather permits (which it looks like it won't) a life-flight helicopter to transport one of the "victims" to the hospital, where they will go through the entire process of being a trauma patient in a major trauma ward. At least one "victim" will be transported by ambulance, and one, who will "die" at the scene, will go with the coroner to the morgue.
All this will be video-taped and edited tonight into a presentation for the school at an assembly tomorrow.
The real beauty and gravity of this is that most of the student body knows nothing about this. It's going to be a complete surprise.
Well, I think they are here now. I'll write more later, or tomorrow, and let ya know how it goes.