Thursday, December 27, 2007

"On the Mend"

"On the Mend"
Foo Fighters

One more day that I've survived
Another night alone
Pay no mind I'm doing fine
I'm breathing on my own

I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend

Wake me when the hour arrives
Wake me with my name
See you somewhere down the line
We're tethered once again

I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend

Was it you?
Who said hello
Here we go

Close your eyes and stay a while
But take me where you go
Single file we walk the mile wandering back home

I'm here
And I'm on the mend
I'm here
And I'm on the mend my friend

Was it you?
Who said hello
Here we go...

Monday, December 24, 2007

"The Beetle is Back" III - Now What?

It's now about 4PM and the tow truck driver gets us to the dealership service building.

Now, I don't know much about South Charleston, but it doesn't seem like the nicest area of town. The service buiding itself seems nice enough - from the outside - which is all we will be seeing today.

When we pulled off the highway I saw that there was as Marriot and I got on the phone and talked to a nice girl that said she had some rooms. I then asked here if they had a courtesy van that could come and pick us up. She checked and found the guy that drives the van and I told her were we were. We were at the the end of "D Street" at the dealership and I could see their sign from where I was. She said she knew where we were and that she would send the van immediately.

The tow truck driver unloaded the car in front of the service door and waited until I was off the phone. He asked me if he could take us somewhere and I told him that we had someone coming to get us - besides all of our stuff wouldn't fit in the back of his tow truck. He gave me his card and told me to call if I needed anything and left us at the empty service center at the corner of D Street and 10th.

We unpacked the car and gathered our stuff up so we would be ready when the van got there to pick us up - at any time. About 4:30 I realized that something was wrong - it had been at least 1/2 an hour since the nice girl at the Marriot had told me that they would be "right there". Wherever "here" was... Since I was hoping to use my HiltonHonors points for our hotel stay anyway I went ahead and called them and found us a Hampton Inn & Suites down the road. The next thing I knew I was talking with the manager there and she had a van headed our way in 10 minutes.

I called the Marriot...she informed me that the van driver couldn't find us! I told her a) that how could that be since she knew were we were and that I could see the sign from where I was standing and b) nevermind I had already found another hotel.

Meanwhile the clock is ticking. Now, we really have nowhere to be until tomorrow morning, but it's winter and the sun is setting. Everything is actually pretty cool - Josh is having a blast on his skateboard (he'd been in the backseat of the beetle all day and ready to burn some energy). Shawn and I are just hanging out wondering what is taking so long.

Now it's after 5PM and no van. I call the Hampton and she said that he's on his way and should be there any time. OK, so we wait and we watch. We are basically in a fenced in lot on the edge of no where and the sun is still going down. The nice cool air is getting a little colder.

I get a phone call from the guy driving the van - he doesn't have a cell phone and has stopped somewhere to use a phone to find out where we are (hey - atleast he didn't just give up on us like the Marriot). He keeps asking us if we can see "Suzy's" - we can't but we can see a couple other stores and SO CAN HE. At the other end of "D Street" (the way we expect him to come) is a big hill with a little park on the top of it. It looks man made. He asks me if I can see that I say, yeah! Now he knows where we you'd think.

Another 20 minutes go by and nothing. To make a long story short, he spent tha last 45 minutes driving around on the OTHER SIDE of the burm at the end of the street. He got there about 5:30. He was nice enough and apologetic about taking so long to get us.

We got to the hotel quickly and they set us up very nicely (it pays to be a HH Silver Member). They upgraded our room, there was a full breakfast (included) in the morning and each room had a flat screen TV. Also, there were plenty of restaurants in the same parking lot.

We were eating at Panera Bread by 6:30.

God provided - we were safe, warm, and well fed. Things could have certainly been much worse. We enjoyed our evening... Our adventure was in full stride, with plenty left.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"The Beetle is Back" II - Hurry Up and Wait

It's now 1:30pm on the 25th and the three of us are sitting on the side of I-77, literally 50 yards from the toll booth. The good news is that I have a cell signal - if this had happened 5 miles in either direction that might not have been the case.

After opening the hood and scratching my head I looked in my glove box and found the number for the VW roadside assistance and called them. The nice woman on the phone informed me that my roadside assistance coverage had expired just a few months ago. However, she could get me to the closest VW dealership.

OK, we're getting somewhere now. So, let's get me to Beckley...right? No - the closest place that can work on the car is Charleston WV - we just passed Charleston - it's 45 minutes BEHIND us. She tells me that it will cost me $191 to get it towed to the VW dealership in South Charleston WV. I ask - isn't there something closer to NC? She starts listing off other places that are farther away - IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. Of course, it also costs more to get them there. I finally just tell her to send the truck and get us to South Charleston -they take Visa or MC...

How long will it be? About an hour and a half...

So, me and the boys sit tight on the side of the road and wait.

About 30 minutes later I get an automated message telling me that the truck will be there in about an hour. 30 minutes after that someone calls me and tells me he's on his way - just confirming where I am - pretty hard to miss us.

So, somewhere just short of 3pm the tow truck shows up. HE CAME FROM BECKLEY WV. When I figured this out I asked him if there wasn't some place he could take this in Beckley and he tells me that there isn't any place in Beckley that can work on a VW. Wow - the 8th largest city in WV, so named "The City of Champions", over 77,000 in population doesn't have any VWs. Go figure...

So, it's about 3pm and we are in a tow truck based in Beckley, traveling AWAY from home about 45 minutes north to South Charleston which, by the way, is WEST of Charleston. I asked the driver if we passed the airport on the way and he said that the airport was south of Charleson and that we wouldn't pass it to get to SOUTH CHARLESTON because it's on the other side of town. The driver is "pretty sure" he knows where this place is and asks me if I do. Wow, I'm impressed.

I already know that we going to end up somewhere that no one will be to greet us because it's Sunday and no one is home at the dealership on Sunday (or Saturday for that matter, but more on that later). I also know that even though this is 2nd the biggest "metropolitan area" we pass during our trips to and from Michigan (the biggest being Toledo) we can't usually even find a place to eat here except Hardees (they are everywhere).

We get to the dealership area about 4pm...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"The Beetle is Back" Part I

I would like to share a story with you - this story is true - some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent (some have not been changed to complain about the not-so-innocent).

It all started when my two sons and I went to Michigan for Thanksgiving. We had a great time. We took my beetle because we just thought it would be fun - even though we used every ounce of space to pack 3 guys and all their stuff (including TWO guitars and a skateboard). Everything went smoothly until...

We were heading back on Sunday morning the 25th and making great time. It takes anywhere from 9 1/2 hours to 11 hours to make this trip depending on weather, traffic, pit stops and all sorts of stuff. We were on schedule to make it home in record time. Everything was going great and then within the span of about 10 minutes it went from great, to not-so-great, to bad, to...

We were on I-77 heading south smack in the middle of West Virginia. This part of I-77 through WV is a toll road and we were getting close to the 2nd of 3. When we started to hear a weird noise coming from the car. It was clicking very fast.

We pulled over immediately and checked the engine - it wasn't hot it was just making this noise. So we got back in and drove to the next exit which was a rest stop. Me - being a complete dunce when it comes to cars - opened the hood and listened. The rest area was full of people heading home from the holiday and another guy walked up and told me it sounded like we had bad gas (no pun intended). So our plan was to get to the next town and get this taken care of. The next "major" town was Beckley and only about 20 miles away.

We got within about 15 miles (just past Pax, WV). When I slowed down to pay the 2nd toll the car just stalled and would not start back up. It sounded like it was trying to turn over but it wasn't moving. My oldest son and I quickly got out and pushed the car to the shoulder of the toll plaza...

Our day had just changed dramatically and the course of events from here were completely different than I could have (or would have) imagined. It was 1:30pm on the 25th and our adventure was just beginning. We were about to meet new people, experience adventure, frustration, joy, deceit and many other things...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Safe Computing I - EMail

I am going to assume that you do not have any third-party virus proctection software installed (like McAffee or Norton) - if you do then get rid of it and then come back to this point. I will probably come back to how to do this later...

EMail is one of those things that is abused, misused, misunderstood, underestimated, overestimated and overlooked. It can be a very useful tool and and a very big pain the neck at the same time. However, over the years (I wrote an "email application" back in the early 90's using tools that were not much more than "rocks and sticks", but it worked) I have come up with a way to effectively use email without worrying about spam and other junk.

General Email Guidelines:

  • NEVER send junk mail to your friends. I know that the term "junk mail" is very ambiguous, but think twice before sending that funny or sappy story to 50 of your friends. There are small percentage of people in this world that really want that stuff.

  • When someone gives you their email address accept it with responsibility - you wouldn't mail out 100 postcards to everyone you knew with the your new friend's name and address unless you had thier permission....would you?

  • CHECK YOUR EMAIL. If you give out your email address then there is an implication that if the person you give it to sends something to that address you will look it. It's very frustrating to say for the 100th time at a meeting for a group (at Church or something) "I sent an email about it!" (after hearing the immortal words..."I didn't know about that!"). So, check your email once a day (just like your "snail mail") or not at all - don't even give it out...

  • If you don't check your email then DON'T GIVE IT OUT. If you owned a barn in the country 3 states away that had an address you wouldn't give that address to anyone that you actually wanted to correspond with. An email account that is never (or very irregularly) checked is no more useful than a mailbox stuffed with letters that no one ever empties.

  • NEVER open attachments UNLESS a) you are expecting it AND b) you already know what it is. Almost all emails (in and of themselves) are harmless, but the attachments can be devastating. The only exception to this rule is if you REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING - in that case you probably don't need this article in the first place.

At any given time I have at least 4 different email accounts that I use. For some, that may seem like a lot (I actually have more like 6), but it's really not. There are lots of free email sites to help you get three.

My MAIN e-mail account: This is the one I guard with my life. I only give it out to people that I trust. This is usually the one that I am paying for (in some way). If I have given you this email address consider yourself a close, trusted friend.

  • CHECK this account every day that you would check your "snail mail" in your mailbox (or P.O. Box) at home.

  • NEVER use it for registration purposes - EVER.

  • NEVER forward messages sent to groups of people. If you want to forward a message sent to a large group of people to one or two people then click FORWARD, but then delete all of the addresses from the address line and then add the ones you want.

  • NEVER send spoofs, chain mail or junk mail to friends, family or others from this account.

  • SET every email you receive in this account that you don't want to get there as SPAM. Just about every email program has a "Mark as SPAM" option. Be diligent about this and over time your SPAM will decrease.

  • DELETE the Junk Folder about once a week at least - taking a quick check to make sure that nothing important was sent there by mistake.

  • Don't be afraid to "Mark As SPAM" any friend that only sends you mail.

MY "DIRTY" ACCOUNT: By "dirty" I mean the same way that you get dirty while you do dirty work (like cleaning or yard work). This can be a purchased account or a free one - a purchased one works better. The idea here is to reduce the amount of spam you get as much as possible, but to use it for things that you MIGHT want from time to time.

For example, I might use this account to register at a website that I trust or that I use a lot. I also, use this for email for my bank account and entities that I make payments to.

  • CHECK this account about every other day or about 2-3 times a week, or when you are expecting something in it.

  • MARK as many SPAM emails as you can, but don't kill yourself just delete the ones you don't want.

  • DELETE (AND/OR) READ the emails you get directly from places you registered but don't make them as SPAM.

MY SPAM ACCOUNT: When I get mail from the mailbox at home that is OBVIOUSLY junk I just throw it right in the garbage - I don't even open it. I give it the respect it deserves... This is how you should look at this account. Just about anything that comes here is junk. It's a big electronic trash can.

Why even have one? How many times have you went to a website that wouldn't give you the time of day without registering and they have to have an email address? Another thing I've seen many times is this same situation, but they want you to VERIFY your email address by opening the email they send you and doing something with it. Use this account for that.

I actually have two of these - both of them are free.

  • About ONCE A MONTH just go in and delete everything.

  • DON'T spend one extra moment of time managing this account.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Safe Computing - Prologue

I often find myself "cleaning up" the computers of my friends and family because "my system is too slow - it used to be fast, but now it's just too slow to use". It's a job that is actually getting easier partially because the tools to do so are better and partially because I have done it so often. Invariably I get asked the same question by all -

"Which virus checker do you use?"

My answer shocks them...

"I don't..."

They often look at me like I'm from Mars or something and then I have to start explaining. My answer is simple - just like life if you practice "Safe Computing" you'll stay out of trouble except those times when someone is bound and determined to get you into trouble. In those cases even if you had virus detection software you'd still get in "trouble".

Virus protection software, in a word, stinks (I'd like to say something a bit more direct...but...). It is the most invasive piece of software you will ever install on your machine (Lime Wire and other file sharing software gives it a run for it's money, but more about that later). It takes your nice, fast computer and brings it to it's knees because EVERYTHING you do on your computer - even the things you are CERTAIN are safe - are first considered by it to be unsafe and scrutinized before you can use them. It considers everything (including yourself) is bad and tries to protect you by being an overzealous watchdog.

For the typical computer user - even if they realize that everything worked great until they installed "X" virus protector - they can't DE-install it. Why can't they DE-install it? Because the virus protector considers this an unsafe act and says "you don't know what you are doing, so I'm not going to let you do it". You now have a program in your system dictating to you what you can and cannot do on your computer - most people just give up.

So, my recommendation (and it's worked for many years) is to practice "Safe Computing". My kids have grown up understanding this and they do it without thinking about it now. It's not hard, it's not magic, it's liberating and it's very safe.

The other day I decided that I would write all of the things that I do to keep my computers safe without using the watchdog so that maybe people (at least those that will listen) can start using their computers again.

Part One coming up...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Random thoughts from Thanksgiving 2007

Some things I learned, heard or just experienced over the last week...(in no particular order)
  • There are always new things to learn about everyone...just listen.
  • My cousin is a great musician.
  • My car gets about 4 miles a gallon less in the mountains than it does when it's not.
  • My new favorite "radio station" is XM salellite station called "The System" - all techno, no commercials. It's like one big mix.
  • One of my new favorite movies is "LOTR: Return of the King - Extended Edition" - it's so good it's like a different movie, but quite an investment in time at 4 hours and 10 minutes.
  • A 24 pound turkey takes more than 5 hours to cook.
  • Michigan roads are as bad as I remember them (maybe even worse).
  • Just because you live somewhere doesn't mean you know how to drive around there.
  • I no longer like Circuit City. Years ago I didn't like them and then warmed up to them. After a really bad experience on "Black Friday" with them I've lost my respect for them.
  • Some people will do anything to save a few bucks on a big screen TV.
  • How to make my own pickles that taste better than anything I can make at the store.
  • The world is not COMPLETELY wireless...yet.
  • Guilt stinks...
  • There are FIVE actors in the LOTR trilogy that have been in OTHER huge blockbusting trilogies...can you name them? This is really amazing considering that these 5 actors in the same trilogy represent a stake in 14 of the top 100 best selling movies of all time and 18 of the top 200... That says a lot about the LOTR trilogy.

OK, here they are - easy ones first:

  1. Hugo Weaving (Elrond) LOTR & The Matrix (Mr. Smith)
  2. Orlando Bloom (Legolas) LOTR & Pirates of the Carribean (Will Turner)
  3. Ian McKellan (Gandalf) LOTR & X-Men (Eric Lehnsherr / Magneto)
  4. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and Treebeard) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Sallah) ** He didn't appear in "The Temple of Doom"
  5. Christopher Lee (Saruman) LOTR & Star Wars (Count Duki / Darth Tyranus) *** Star Wars II & III (I consider them 2 separate trilogies) - check LOTR:Return of the King EXTENDED version (to consider him in all 3)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Good Day...

When life is crazy - when nothing seems the same - a good day can be hard to find.

Yesterday was a good day, like when I was growing up in Michigan and it had been cold all winter. Weeks and weeks would go by and it was so cold that you didn't want to go outside - being outside was a means to an get where you were going. You didn't linger.

Inevitably, near the end of February or early March we would get a day that gave us a glimpse of the spring to come. Everyone was outside - no one stayed inside. In college kids skipped class... It was a good day, warm and sunny.

Yesterday was warm and sunny and, just like those shots of spring in winter, it put a spring in my step...

Thanks truly are awesome.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


"Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD" Psalm 4:6
"The LORD is my light and my salvation" Psalm 27:1
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14,15

Our God, Jehovah, is the light in a world of darkness.

There are so many times in God's word where the light and darkness are contrasted, where God or His son, Jesus is referred to as light - bright light. Paul "...saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun..." (Acts 26:13) that blinded him when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus.

God is light...and we are His reflectors.

In the bible we read of accounts where God showed himself and it was always brilliant. Other than those times when God came down and showed us a bit of Himself (just enough so that we could handle it) His light is reflected to the world through us. All of those that wear His son's name - Christians - reflect His light to a dark world.

I've known this all of my life. In fact it's one of the first things you are taught as a child about God. Don't believe me? Ask a child to sing a couple bible songs and after "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Love the Little Children", you will probably hear "This Little Light of Mine". We are taught as children that it's our mission in life (OK, so the kids don't understand that it's a mission - but it is) to let our light shine "all around the neighborhood" (which is a child's understanding of the world). So, I get the light thing - I've understood it all of my life - or have I?

When you think about that song you envision a candle because if you also go through the motions you make a candle with your finger. That's a great illustration - for a child.

However, a candle radiates light from it's own source of power, and one candle is not really all that bright. My point here is not to poke holes at the idea of a light or a lantern....

It occurred to me yesterday that we are actually reflectors of God's light. If you take a mirror, a shiny piece of metal or any other object that reflects light and put it in a dark room what do you get? A dark room. However, just take a light source (like a flashlight or the sun) and point it at the reflector it can cast light around the room. If you have ever seen the movie "The Mummy", Evelyn Carnahan (the librarian looking for the mummy) showed how the Egyptians used mirrors to illuminate dark rooms. I don't have any idea if this is based on any reality, but it looked really cool in the movie.

The source of the light that we shine to the world is from God, it is His light and the only way the world will see it is through us. Here comes the part that hit me yesterday...

Every "reflector" is different. Every Christian that reflects God's light reflects it in a different way. There is no way to take God's perfect light and transfer it through us - imperfect - and it not look a bit different. It's just not possible. Every bit of God's light on this earth is reflected through imperfect people. There was only one exception and that was when God sent His perfect son, Jesus to walk among us and reflect His light - perfectly.

When I first thought about this I thought I must be missing something. Am I saying that God's light on earth is not perfect? No. His light is perfect, but He designed it to be shown (reflected from) through us - imperfect children of His. Does that really make sense?

Of course it does!

Different light catches different When God's light reflects off of one person it looks a little different than when it reflects off another - but it's still His light. The beauty of this - one more evidence of His perfect design - is that it brings more people to Him! Each child of His that walks this earth reflects His light in different ways because each person on this earth is different - individual reflections bring INDIVIDUALS to HIM.

More on this later....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Growing Up...Reluctantly

My friends that really know me know that I'm not intending on acting my age...ever. My body may age, but I don't intend on allowing a one-to-one relationship between body age and spirit age.

You're only as old as you feel...

However, maturing is not the same as aging. I've known kids that are mature beyond their years and I've also known adults that are not mature. Maturity comes from experience and not all experience is fun.

We talk about being an adult and doing adult things... As we get older we get to experience things that we couldn't before - it's exciting...most of the time.

For me, it's easy to talk about the right thing to do. I can talk through all the possible scenarios, debate the best way to do things, talk about ethics, morals, attitudes and being Christ-like. What I'm learning now is that sometimes the hardest thing to do is the right thing.

Sometimes the right thing is simply being your best in a bad situation.

Making a decision to do something after thoughtful and prayerful consideration also means that you have to decide to be OK with that choice. If it's the right choice, made out of love and compassion then a grown up decides to free themselves of the decision once it's made and move on.

I guess "growing up" isn't quite what I thought it would be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What if I say that I'll never surrender?

"The Pretender"
Foo Fighters

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began

Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in... again
The need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep are ever ready
Are you ready?
I'm finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance
That whole defense

Spinning infinity, boy
The wheel is spinning me
It's never-ending, never-ending
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

In time or so i'm told
I'm just another soul for sale... oh, well
The page is out of print
We are not permanent
We're temporary, temporary
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

I'm the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I'm what's left, I'm what's right
I'm the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare

I'm the enemy
I'm the hand that will take you down
Bring you to your knees

So who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
(Keep you in the dark)
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
(You know they all... pretend)
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

So who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

World Series Who?

It occured to me a couple days ago that I might miss the whole World Series... Why?

a) BoSox remind me so much of the Yankees that I forgot they were from Boston.
b) Did the Rockies really have a chance?
c) No time to watch baseball during football season. (It stinks that there was no MNF because of the World Series).

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Ok, break's over..."

That's a line from the song "Saint Augustine in Hell" by Sting. No real significance to anything, it's just one of those lines that sticks with you.

Sometimes you lament because life is uninteresting and stale - other times you pray that life will just give you some "normalcy". I think I can say with conviction that life as I know it is over. Most of the time when you say that you infer that life is over. That's not what the line really means, it just means that things are different and they probably won't be "the same" any more.

The hollywood version of this line is "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore". The newly recruited Apostles must have said something similar to each other when they saw Jesus drive out an evil spirit at Capernaum.

Life as they knew it was over...or just beginning.

The difference is hard to identify, except in retrospect. How many times have we looked back on hard times, painful times, stressful times and realized that even though it was hard things were different from then on. Looking back on it, you realize that you are still here and that the experience changed you.

Peter was simple fisherman, hot-headed, stubborn...strong. We think of Peter as the "leader" of the apostles, a strong, brave man. He spoke at Pentecost, when we were first called Christians. He is someone we look up to and read about - we study what he did, what he didn't do we learn from his mistakes.

I think it's safe to say that at some point after he dropped his nets and followed Christ he said to himself..."life as I know it, is over...".

Praise God for that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

House of Mirrors

I checked out.

I haven't posted in what has seemed like ages. Not because I haven't had anything to say, but because I don't think you would want to crawl inside my head as of late.

It's very confusing...

My dreams of late, have been like walking through a house of mirrors.

Emotions are mulitplied like when you look in to a reflection of yourself from a mirror behind you.

Things are twisted like the funny mirror that makes you look thin as a nail one moment, big as a house the next and distorts the sizes of your body disproportionally.

Have you ever been turned around in a house of mirrors? Remember, when you were a kid and you ran off into the middle of the house and for a moment...maybe even feels like get turned around. Which way did I come in? How do I get out of here?

As you the seconds add up, your heart starts beating faster. Motions around you become exacerbated, your senses are start revving up and the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention.

Eventually, you find your way out, but for a time, the mirrors get to you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Something To Do

A man needs someone to love.
If he can't have that then he needs something to hope for.
If he can't have either of those, then he just needs something to do...

paraphrase from a scene in "Flight of the Phoenix"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

We're Not In Kansas Anymore II

I've been learning guitar for the last 8-10 months, regularly for the last 4 or 5. I've been playing guitar during lunch time at work and since then I have met lots of people. One being Chris - he has been playing guitar for over 20 years and his is really good. He brings his guitar about once a week and plays with me - he usually stops by and teaches me a new song or helps me out.

Chris is a "flat picker" - if you don't know what that means it is a term used in bluegrass to describe the kind of guitar playing usually used in it. He plays in a band called "The Grasshoppers" and they played at Meadowlark Landing in Wilkesboro tonight. I told him weeks ago that I wanted to go see him play there and about two weeks ago, when we were talking about it he said - "bring your guitar"... Naturally, my next question was "why?" He went on to tell me that he would call me up and have me play something. I thought he was joking at first...he wasn't.

My youngest son and I went to see them tonight, and I brought my guitar AND I found myself playing a "Nine Pound Hammer" for about 40 people on stage during a break. It didn't go so well, but it's one more under my belt (that makes two). After the performance I got to play R.G.'s Burchette - (a "Grand Soloist") what a guitar! They just about had to pry it from my hands...

All night I couldn't help thinking how I ended up where I was - in the Carolina foothills, at a genuine bluegrass performance - watching people just get up and start dancing. It was great stuff, fun to watch and me and my son had a great time.

But, I certainly wasn't in Kansas anymore...

Monday, July 23, 2007


Sunday our preacher talked about etiquette at Chruch (and in our lives). Being who I am it made me think about how often I "rudeness" or inexperience gets get in the way of "tech-nirvana". Since I have been working in I.T. for over 20 years, I think I'm more than qualified to give some advice on "Tech-etiquette".

Here goes:

  • When you TYPE YOUR EMAILS OR POSTS IN ALL CAPS you are yelling!! It conveys anger... Unless you mean to yell or you are just using it for emphasis, keep the cap-lock off.
  • If you have an email address and you give it out you need to check it EVERY DAY. Do you check your "snail-mail" box everyday? Check your email at least once a day or just tell your friends you don't have it.
  • Here's a biggie. One way to irritate your friends on the net is to send them emails touting the latest email hoax (yes, almost all of them are). No, I don't want to send 10 of my friends the email about starving kids in Topeka, nor do I want the latest urban legend story (you know the one that YOU have never heard and are conviced is brand new - but it's probably not). Just remember, less is better. I do get some interesting things from some of my friends, but the best ones are the friends who only send one every few months because it really is cool.
  • Never give your friend's email address to someone else unless they say it's OK. NEVER, ever, ever. Just say no... By the way, when you email that funny urban legend to everyone you know at one time, you just gave my email address to everyone you know.
  • Your I.T. friends prefer that if you don't know how to do something you just say so, don't pretend that you do. Also, don't just nod when we talk about stuff over your head, just say either - "Never mind, I don't understand that..." or "Now what does SQL mean?"
  • We really don't like being called geeks (although we can call each other that). We don't even call ourselves "wizards" so do even go there (leave that for the D&D guys). As for the word "guru", we don't mind that so much - however you should know that it really only means something coming from another I.T. person. Also, being a "nerd" and knowing how to use a computer are two completely UNRELATED things. I know lots of nerds, but not all of them are techies and I know lots of techies and many of them are not nerds.
  • Just because someone you know is an I.T. person does not necessarily mean that he or she can fix your daughter's laptop. You wouldn't ask a dentist advice about your upcoming surgery...
  • Unless you are a 12-year old kid, grammar, spelling and punctuation is important in emails and posts. Chatting during IM is different and so is text messaging, but if you are going to take the time to email, go ahead and write correctly - emails tend to hand around longer than other stuff... Which leads me to...
  • Re-read your emails before you send them, once it's gone, it's gone and whoever gets it can save it FOREVER. So, that email you wrote while you were agry is there to read and re-read. Also...
  • If you are answering a question to the person that asked it in an email sent to many people DO NOT PUSH THE "Reply to All" BUTTON. We don't all want to know that you can't make the company picnic because you are getting your bunyons removed that day.
  • If you have a cell phone and give out the number, carry it with you and leave it on. All of us who use them just ignore the signs about turning them off and just silence them (read the manual) when needed. Having a cell phone and never answering it is REALLY annoying.

I think that's enough for now.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Manna From Heaven

God is good and he is good all the time.

Wikipedia calls Manna " miraculously produced for the Israelites in the desert in the book of Exodus."

Bryanepedia calls it "God's showering of blessing from places you never expected when you least expected it."

God is mysterious and his greatness is beyond our grasp. Face it, you're never going to completely figure Him out. That isn't to say that He is not completely approachable, loving and caring - however it's best to bow to his ultimate wisdom and let Him bless you in His own time and in His own way and stop trying to figure out why He does what He does and when He does it.

It's amazing to me how God can just blow me away when I least expect it. Everytime it happens I am overwhelmed by His love and wisdom. Last night he sent another blessing - just a simple phone call that was supposed to just be about normal business stuff turned into 2 hours of soul launching...yes my soul was launched, not lifted straight up. I was very tired, but I just didn't want it to end. My body was exhausted, but my soul was sky high...and still is.

God almost literally dropped manna from heaven in the form of a friend on the phone last night. He knows I'm in the wilderness and he provided - just like he always does.

God, you are good and you are good all the time...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Things I've Learned on Tour Part 2

Ok, tour is over now... Here's the rest of the list. This time I'm not falling asleep while writing them.

  • Everyone has spells of "self-preservation" - don't take it personally.
  • It is possible to present too much information,
  • Control is not always worth the price you pay for it...and often not available at any price.
  • You shouldn't judge a Church by it's cover.
  • Roller coasters are awesome...simply awesome. Did I say they were awesome?
  • Some things just won't make sense...maybe you just don't have all the information of maybe it just doesn't make sense - either way don't spend valuable time trying to figure it out.
  • I love meeting new people.
  • If you treat people like friends - that's what they become.
  • The term "Contemporary Service" is as descriptive as "As Soon As Possible (ASAP)".

Friday, June 29, 2007

Things I've Learned on Tour

  • I might actually enjoy taking a group entirely made up of middle school kids on tour more than a group of just high school kids.
  • Even in a crowd of people you can still feel alone.
  • Sometimes people you don't expect are the ones that make your day...
  • Go ahead, be silly and let the chips fall where they'll have more fun.
  • There is beauty in everyone.
  • Roll with whatever comes your way, leave the worrying for God...things will work out...often better than you expected in the first place ( or than you planned).
  • If you want something done the right way, have a back up prepared to step in and take over.
  • Sometimes good people make bad decisions.
  • Learn to acknowledge and appreciate those that have a desire to help and give them the chance to do so.
  • Kids love simple things.
  • Sometimes the last person you expected is the one that touches you the most.
  • Make an concerted effort to remember who you are and who is in control.
  • Live to serve.
  • Serve to Live.
  • Kids appreciate it (even if they are not good at communicating it) when you care for them. Never stop, even when you don't think you are getting through.
  • Don't be afraid to give complements and tell those around you that you simply are "happy that they are here".
  • Give out more compliments that you accept.
  • Listen to others.
  • Talk to God much as you can.
  • Don't be afraid to fact great leaders are experts at it.
  • Realize that things happen and to be flexible and enjoy the spice of that flexibility.
  • Remind teenagers that memorial sites are just that, and to be aware of those around that may be using their time there to reflect or connect with those past.
  • Reserve quiet time for yourself...make the's important
  • Embrace those that are different from yourself.
  • When you write blog entries while you are falling asleep at the end of a long day of touring there's no telling what you are going to say...

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Prayer

God, I need you.

That's no news to you, I ALWAYS need you...and you ALWAYS provide. You are good and you are good all the time.

Satan is relentless...he waits...he is always looking for a way in...a way to get at me. He disguises himself, he uses misdirection, trickery, illusion, boredom...fear. I am yours and because of that I call myself a Christian - taking on the name of your son. Over the years I have built defenses that you support...that are powered by your Spirit and your strength.

It's like a soldier's shield. He makes his shield to be strong, and to cover the areas that are most succeptible to attack. He doesn't have a shield that goes all the way around because he has other soldiers behind and around him to that will protect the back. Over time, he get's used to that situation...he uses it to his advantage. He makes his foe come straight at him and work to his strength. His foe has to come through his shield to get to him, and he doesn't "worry" about the back - some else has it.

Father, I've had to spread my shield all the way around me. Its like stretching fabric around an object that is too big for the fabric - you may be able to force the ends to meet at the back, but the fabric rips and stretches until it is thin - it tears here and there. The strong, thick shield is now thin and has holes. Over time I hope to shore up those holes and work on the overall thickness of the shield. But right now it's thin and has holes in it.

Satan want's to exploit this. He is jabbing at me through the holes in an attempt to weaken me. My attention is spread out because now I have to be aware of things all around.

Father, I need you to fill the holes. No, not just fill the holes, but to put your shield around me, to stand behind me and beside me...and in front of me. All the while filling in the holes and thickening my shield. It's a lot to ask, but you have told me that to "ask and it will be given to you" (Luke 11:9), so I ask. I am at your mercy.

And I know you will be faithful to me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Far Cry

One day I feel at the top of the world
and the next it's falling in on me.

One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel
and the next it's rolling over me.

One day I fly through a crack in the sky
and the next it's falling in on me.

"Far Cry"

Thursday, June 07, 2007


WANTED: Person of any age or ethnicity, can be male or female who loves God and wants to serve Him. The person will be flawed and need God to help them through each day. This person will enjoy talking about nothing at all or something very important and anything in between. This person will feel an urgent and burning need to share their greatest hopes, deepest sorrows, loftiest dreams, dreariest days and highest highs. He or she will not need an invitation to spend time with me or vice-versa. The person will ask for and accept help when needed and not keep track of such help. He or she will enjoy me because of who am I and not what I will be or the value I can add. This person will understand that I am human and I will make mistakes and also allow themselves to make those same mistakes. This person must be willing to make a lifetime commitment, even though time may change who we are and where we are.

WANTED - a true friend. No application necessary, just drop by - let's talk.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Granny's Porch

Consciousness starts growing in me as the sun starts to fill the room.

The birds have been up for hours...they have filled my dreams for the last few hours, but now I start hearing them. There are so many of them, yet I can pick out just about every one of them. They are talking to each other...I wonder what they are saying? It could just be a way of letting each other know "I'm here". God gave them a special gift - their songs are so soothing and the best alarm clock ever made.

My eyes are still closed...I don't want this feeling to end...I don't want to wake up - just yet.

I start to feel the cool air of a July morning in Arkansas - we are deep in the Arkansas country-side at Granny and Granddaddy's house. Just a few miles outside of Mountain Home (long before it became a tourist city).

Granny's porch is a simple screened in room attached to the house. My brother and I spend weeks at a time here with Granny and Granddaddy during the summer. I don't know it now, but it's some of the best times of my life.

Granny is making breakfast and I can smell the cooking from where I am. It doesn't really matter what she's making, it could be biscuits with chocolate gravy or eggs and doesn't really matter. It's the smell of granny's house in the morning. It's the smell of love.

Actually, I'm awake now, but I don't want this part of the day to end. Later it will be hot and humid. Later we may make a trip into town to the local grocery store. Later we will go fishing in the White River for rainbow trout where the river is so cold that it makes your legs numb when you stand in it. But for now, it's me, the breeze, the birds and granny's porch.

When you fish with Granddaddy you never come back without fish - he just knows where they are and when to catch them. Later my brother and I will explore down the rural road and into the woods. But for now, it's cool and calm. The day is just beginning and my covers are warm and soft.

I'm on granny's porch and life is good. I'm safe and loved and happy... Not a care in the world. For an 11-year old boy from the city, this is heaven...and now as a man of 40-something I go there often when the day is hectic, when I can't concentrate and I just need a little love and safety...

Reluctant Glorification?

Is it possible to take something that was crafted to be used in a way that was not for God's glory and use it for His Glory? In other words, is it possible to use something that goes against God's teaching and use it as if it doesn't?

I guess the question is does it matter to God if I use something that is messed up in regards to His commandments and teachings in my worship to Him? Or, is God only interested in my heart while I am worshipping Him?

When you put the question that way it almost seems silly to ask it. God IS concerned about my heart when I worship Him. Jesus told us through the gospel of Matthew that we have to come to Him without resentment in our heart

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember
that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23,24

However, he also said in John 4:24 "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." So now I wonder since He wants me to worship Him with my spirit and to come to him in truth then does that mean that if I know I use something that was originally conceived in error can I use it to worship Him?

This debate in my mind came while I was listening to one of my favorite CD's - "Exodus" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Much of his music speaks of God, Jesus, Zion, and "Jah". I just started listening to the words a bit closer and I this makes sense! So I did a bit of research and it turns out that "Zion" is not the Zion I know of and that "Jah" is not a different name for Jehovah. (if you want to find out about what they mean look up "Rastafari Movement")

But if I speak these words and use them to refer to my God and for His glory does it diminish my worship to Him (even though I know where they came from)? If the earthly "audience" doesn't know that they were originally used in error does it matter?

I don't know.

P.S. Now I'm even more confused, since the Christian group Acappella did a song some years ago called "Talk to Jah" and grouped that name in with Jehovah. Yep, color me confused...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Some Old Qualities...

"...Is there a cure among us
From this processed sanity?
I weaken with each voice that sings
Now, in this world of purchase
I’m going to buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities
Have I got a long way to run
Yeah, I run..."

"Run", Collective Soul

Ephesians 4

Friday, May 11, 2007

Snakes & Arrows

Life is Good.

Rush released a new CD.

Life is Good.

For those of you that might have thought that melodic, hard driving rock was dead need look no further than Rush and their new CD "Snakes & Arrows". This is their 18th major album release (NOT including compilations) - 30 years of creating some of the best music ever heard. This CD debuted #3 on Billboard's Hot 200 - the highest debut for Rush - ever.

Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. Three guys on the top of the food chain when it comes to musical talent and they just keep getting better. How can this be? Geddy's vocals are better than ever, I am conviced that his vocal cords are made of some alien material that just starts breaking in after about 50 years. For the first time in many years, Alex steps a bit to the front. In a group of three virtuosos he often gets overlooked - that's a tragedy considering he is on the short list for best rock guitarists of all time.

Then there's Neil - what can you say about him. Ask any drummer to name the best 3 drummers ever and I would bet that almost all of them would list Peart in their list. Then, there is the cherry on top of the ice cream - he once again delivers lyrics that pierce your soul, expand your mind and make you wonder what is going on inside his head.

When "Vapor Trails" came out a few years ago I though it might have been their best work since "Moving Pictures" (arguably the best Rock album of the 80's). "Snakes & Arrows" IS their best work since "Moving Pictures" - in fact, I would stand it up against MP and maybe call it the "Moving Pictures of this Generation". There are 3 instrumentals on this CD and "The Main Monkey Business" is absolutely amazing. My son and I decided that we would call it "MMB" because we think it's the "YYZ" of this generation.

Now tell me do three of the best, most experience muscians have the guts to call on a relative "new-comer" to help them produce their work. Neil talked about Nick Raskulinecz in an article he wrote back in December about the then upcoming album. Nick pushed them beyond their abiilities - how do you do that?

The Mighty Booujze [a nick name for Nick] came into his own there, coaxing, coaching, and inspiring me into ever more outrageous drum parts and fills. “Bloppida-bloppida-batu-batu-whirrrrr-blop—booujze.” Sweaty and sore, I would come into the control room to listen to a playback, and hear myself thrashing away at the very edge of my abilities, just barely pulling it off (or not), and I would have to laugh out loud at the audacity—and the excitement, if it worked.

Geddy was listening, too, and he shook his head slowly and smiled, saying, “Now that’s comedy!”

In turn, Booujze also urged Geddy’s bass playing into uncharted areas, playing along with him on “air bass” as he described his ideas. Geddy and I soon decided we were “the world’s funniest rhythm section,” and thought we ought to call the album Don’t Try This at Home.

Pretty awesome stuff.

Life is Good.

Rush is still around doing what they do best...

"Like a stone in the river
Against the floods of spring
I will quietly resist."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The High Price of Gas

How do you know when a friend...a close friend is no longer...your friend?

What does it take to drive that final nail into the fence being built between you?

How long do you wait to finally close the book on a friendship? One that brought you joy at one time, but now is just empty.

I've waited much longer than I should have and the cost is higher than I expected...

It's a sad situation to find yourself in a place where the people you used to call friends don't like who you are anymore. When you realize that - to them- you are just another name in their address book. They think that you retreated, but they fool themselves...

The last nail is's when they treat you like a gas station.

You'll buy gas from whoever is selling it for less today. You spend no time agonizing about going to one gas station over the next because it doesn't matter. Gas is gas is gas is...gas. It's all the same and who ever is selling it for less is who you like today. No loyalties with gas stations. If the place that you normally go to is selling it for a cent more than they guy across the street you go across the street and save 15 cents. Hey, 15 cents is...15 cents when there are no loyalties. No fences.

Goodbye old friend. I'm sure I'll see you again...when my price is lower than the guy across the street...or when you are just bored enough to stop in.

By the way, I'll probably be busy...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The old man down the street

I grew up in a big neighborhood with lots of houses close together. On the street that we lived we pretty much knew everyone on the street - at least a little. There are lots of streets like this across America and on every one of these streets there is the guy that no one likes.

You know, the guy that whenever you see him he looks like you just woke him from a deep sleep. He yells at the kids and tells them to be quiet and stay away from his house. He's always poking his nose in everyone else's business - he sits on his porch or hangs around in his back yard and he catches everything. He seems to always be looking your direction when you are in a situation that you would rather not anyone see you. He was just the guy that bugged you enough that you don't really like him. He's also the guy that tells your parents - weekly - about all the things you were getting into while they weren't looking (and he was) and you get into trouble.


Every once in a while you stop by and he's in a better mood and you talk about pleasant things. His children or your baseball team, he may give you a wink when he's in a good mood. Just every once in a while...but most of the time he's a pain in the neck. But he's a comfortable pain in the neck. He's part of your life.

One day you find out he died. His death goes quietly and for the most part with a fair bit of relief. Eventually, a young couple with other kids moves into the house he lived in and you make new friends and those friends become a great part of your life and they enrich your life.

However, even though you know you are better off without him and much better off with your new friends, you occasionally miss the old guy. You mourn his passing and on second thought you wonder if through his passing you are missing part of yourself...

He was bad for you, but even miss him...and without him your life will never be quite the same.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Reinvention III


The very term suggests that it's a renewal, not something that is "tried and true" or "comfortable". I can only imagine a snake shedding his skin as he grows. The growing is good and the growing means that he is living and thriving, but for a snake, the skin is scaly and stiff - providing him protection from the elements.

As he grows he has to shed that skin so that new, softer skin can emerge and serve him protection as he continues to grow. The new skin is softer, shinier The old skin comes off along with all of the cuts and abrasions that the snake suffered since the last time he shed. The new skin does not look completely different than the old skin once did...neither does it look the same. Same snake...different stage in life.

I can only imagine that the process of shedding your skin is not comfortable, especially at first when it's just itchy. It must feel really weird to watch this shell that you have been living in and carrying around for some time separate from you and then you just leave it behind - using your new skin. The old one served you well, and the new one will too.

It's the process of

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Tonight I saw "300" in IMAX... I've decided that all theatres should be in IMAX format. It's just that simple, I mean why not? Wow.

By the way, do you realize how many words you can make with the word "Theatre"?

4/16 - OK, since no one else wanted to take a shot at it...I count 36.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Librarian of My Brain

Imagine for a moment that my brain has a head librarian. My librarian wouldn't be like other librarians, his name is "Scooter" (why? because it sounds cool). Scooter is a trained librarian, he went to librarian school and graduated in the middle of his class - not the best but not the worst either.

After working filling shelves in other brains, he got his first break a few years later as the head librarian's assistant in another brain where he worked for about 2 years doing fairly well having some successes and trying learn from his mistakes. Finally, he got his break, there was an opening in a new baby's brain for a head librarian's job, he applied for the position and it came down to him and a woman named Xena (another cool name). Anyway, for reasons not clear to anyone he got the job.

Scooter does a great job as my brain's librarian taking all sorts of information that comes into my brain and categorizing it. "Hey, Bryan just learned about Mongolian Fruit Bats, put that in the avarian section next to the piece on Egyptian Fruit Bats..." The next time I need that information about the Mongolian Fruit Bat I find it right where I expect it, with the other "bat" information. His assistants and the "shelvers" like him and he stays out of their hair...for the most part.

However, Scooter has a bit of a quirk. Sometimes he gets confused and distracted while doing his work. He gets some new information and just puts it in the wrong on Robert Oppenheimer (physicist that worked on the Manhattan Project) and he puts it in the area with Astrology (something that I don't think too much about). Another time he takes a new word Mammatus (a cloud formation) and puts that word in with the "J's". Other times he literally takes a word that I know well, like thesaurus and re-shelves it with the "W's".

What happens is I am talking to someone and I am thinking about a thesaurus, but when I get to the word in converstion I look it up in the place that it's supposed to be and IT'S NOT THERE!!!! My mind goes into overdrive, Scooter gets alerted..."where did I put that word?", he get's his assistants searching for it. "It's around here somewhere, I know it is...I may have filed it with the dinoaurs, next to "Stegasaurus"..."

Sometimes they get lucky and find it hiding next to "Watermelon" and other times they just don't find it until later. Usually, once it's found it's re-shelved in it's rightful place, but occasionally Scooter finds it, sends it to me and then just sticks it somewhere else. That's really annoying.

What it sounds like from the outside is..."uh, um, you know...that thing that you use like a dictionary..."

Introducing "Scooter"...the librarian of my brain. He wears a worn out "Foghat" T-Shirt, faded and distressed Levi's jeans and a pair of old white Nike's with a red swoosh that have seen better days. His hair is perpetually (he had to hunt down that word) messy and long, and he lives on Mountain Dew and Taco Bell. He's married and loves his wife dearly.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sign of the times

I told my son this weekend that the world must be ending. He said, "How do you know?". I said, "Because, I just bought...of my own free first country CD". Yes, time stood still, the earth stopped rotating...Bryan bought a country CD... Not for someone else, not as gift, not as some strange project, because I wanted to.

What is this world coming to?

In case you are wondering what ended 43 years of chasm for me, the CD is "The Road to Here" by Little Big Town.

It's just one CD, don't expect me to be listening to Keith Urban, that would just be crazy...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

6 strings and 4 short fingers

Yesterday my first guitar came by way of UPS. I've been teaching myself and picking up as much as I can since about June of last year using my son's acoustic. The idea of someone buying a guitar doesn't sound crazy or earth shattering, but I've looked forward to this for a few months.

The more I learn on the guitar, the more I want to learn and the better I want to get. I've always loved long as I can remember, it's been a part of my life, but aside from playing the trumpet at school through my sophomore year in high school (that doesn't count) I've never learned to play an instrument. It just wasn't on my radar. It's too bad, because one of my best friends in High School was a practical virtuoso and could have taught me if I had just asked.

I don't remember what made me pick up my son's guitar and start learning in the first place, but it came a little faster than I would have expected. Once I figured that I could do something more than make noises with it I decided that I would try to learn a simple song to sing and play at the talent show during our choir retreat in September. With some help from a couple friends I was able to do that. It was really cool. BTW, the song was "Waiting (Reprise)" by George Michael, it was easy to learn and I really like the song.

So, my thought process was...hey, until I know what I want and if I'm going to really get good I'm going to buy a less expensive one to start off with. I narrowed it down to 3, then 2 then 1. The one I ended up with is an Ibanez AEL20ETBS AEL-20TBS Acoustic-Electric. It's awesome. Playing the guitar is very soothing and relaxing to me and that's exactly what I need right now in my life.

Pretty cool.

The first day...

Yesterday, someone said that this was "the first day of the rest of your life". Considering who he was and what we were doing, I don't believe he was just saying it off the top of his head.

I truly want to believe it, I do believe it. Once again, the road in front of me is unknown by me, but known to Him. God has walked the path that is in front of me...he laid it. I just need to stay on His path and hold to His hand tightly, keep talking to Him and listening to His calming, soothing empowering voice.

"...for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

Monday, March 12, 2007


I heard this today and man does it fit where I am right now... Is it my new "theme song"? Can I break the spell of the typical?

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body." 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

Come on, can I dream for one day?
There's nothing that can't be done
But how long should it take somebody
Before they can be someone

Cuz I know there's got to be another level
Somewhere closer to the other side
And I'm feelin' like it's now or never
Can I break the spell of the typical?

Now I've lived through my share of misfortune
And I've worked in the blazing sun
But how long should it take somebody
Before they can be someone

Cuz I know there's got to be another level
Somewhere closer to the other side
And I'm feelin' like it's now or never
Can I break the spell of the typical?

I'm the typical
I'm the typical
Can I break the spell of the typical?

Because it's draggin' me down
Oh, I'd like to know about when
When does it all turn around?

Yeah I know there's got to be another level
Somewhere closer to the other side
And I'm feelin' like it's now or never
Can I break the spell of the typical?

Break the spell (of the typical)
Break the spell (of the typical)
Can I break the spell of the typical?
"Typical", Mute Math

Can I break the spell of the typical?

Sunday, February 25, 2007


In the movie "The Replacements", the coach asks the team what they are afraid of. Falco, the quarterback - played by Keanu Reeves, says

"Quicksand...something bad happens. That bad event leads to
another, then another, soon the feeling of quicksand. The more you
try to get out, the more it feels like you are sinking even deeper. "

I'm familiar with the quicksand...I tend to step into it a lot. It especially happens when things are going well. I just start to get my footing on solid ground, my steps feeling more and more solid...feeling confident...and then I trip.

Sometimes I catch myself and keep going, but other times by trying to catch myself I make things worse. I reach for support around me and I miss or I reach for something that offers little or no support. Other times there is just nothing there to reach for, I look around, swinging my arms, pinwheeling hoping that I will find something. Then, crash!

I fall into the quicksand.

At first I am somewhat confident that I can step out, but the quicksand is thick and the harder I try to get out the more I lose my balance. I reach for the sides where there is solid ground, but I miss or I just get grass in my hands. Then I try to take a step out and then I sink deeper into the muck. Now I'm up to my armpits trying to get out, but now I can feel the pit sucking me down.

My attempts to get out make things worse. My actions get more and more exaggerated and then I start making bad decisions. My mind takes what started off as a small stumble and turns it into the "worst case scenario" and now I can't turn my mind off. It's going a mile a minute, feeding me with fear and hopelessness. It's worse when it's quiet. For most people, they want get away and think. For me, that's the worst thing, my mind is screaming at me and when I'm alone and it's quiet that's all I can hear...what I need is reassurance,

That's how it happens. The rest is always different, depending on the circumstances. I want to cover up the hole - fill it with concrete...for good.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Remember the story of Zacchaeus? I heard it again today during our worship service. It's one of those almost "forgettable" accounts in the Bible about a man touched by Jesus in Luke 19.

As a kid we sang "Zacchaeus was wee little man...", but Zacchaeus was not just short, but was also a person that was governed by the will of Satan. He wanted to meet Jesus and once that happened... Have you ever wondered what happened on Satan's end that day? That day, Satan lost and lost big. Imagine a large corporation just finding out that one of their biggest clients just broke off from them and went to their competitor. This was bad news, and hard to take.

Here's how it might have went when Satan heard the news from one of his assistants:

Assistant: "Sir, a problem."
Satan: "What's going on, can't you see I'm busy?"
Assistant: "We've lost Zacchaeus"
Satan: "What do you mean by 'LOST'? I just talked to him the other day and he was fine. A bit distracted, but nothing out of the ordinary."
Assistant: "We lost him"
Satan: "Nonsense, Zacchaeus is one of our best and oldest clients, have you tried calling him?"
Assistant: "He's not answering his phone, in fact, all we get is a recording saying that the line is been disconnected."
Satan: "Oh, this is no big deal, have you sent some agents to remind him of his past?"
Assistant: "Of course! We sent our best men and we thought we had him for a minute but he just told them to go away."
Satan: (Now pacing)"Watch your tone with me. What about taking things away from him? That usually works."
Assistant: "Forget it. He's already done it himself, he's given almost all of the stuff you gave him back to Jesus and others that he has taken from in the past."
Satan: "Ahh, we'll just wait him out, we have time. He'll come back after he sees how hard it is and the stuff he misses."
Assistant: "I hope you are right, if Jesus keeps this up he's going to put us out of business."
Satan: "Yeah, well at least we still have Saul of Tarsus..."

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Cops!

I think I may have mentioned well over a year ago that I cried the day I realized that I had purchased the last Police CD that there was. No more new Police material, I had heard everything they had made.

I can honestly still remember the day that I bought "Outlandos d'Amour" at Fairlaine Town Center. I rushed home and just about wore out the grooves in the vinyl (yes is was vinyl), I mean this was least 10 years before they started thinking bout CDs (I think I was 14). I can remember being shocked by "Be My Girl - Sally" and otherwise just realizing that I was listening to something completely different that I had never heard before. I was hooked.

Up until a couple weeks ago I just assumed we'd never hear from them as a group again. I mean it's one thing for the Eagles to get back together, but The Police?!? I mean they made if very clear that it wasn't ever going to happen.

Then here comes the 49th Grammys and then the rumors that they may be touring again. I have never "camped out" for concert tickets, but this just might get me there. Of course, the chance of them coming anywhere close to here are 1) SLIM and 2) NONE.

The next thing you know Van Halen will tour again with David Lee Roth...

If I really push my luck, The Talking Heads will have a reunion tour...

**** Tuesday, 2/13

It's worse than I thought. Not only are they not coming anywhere CLOSE to here, it wouldn't matter anyway. The estimated RETAIL price of a ticket is going to be OVER $200!! The most I ever paid for a concert was to see Sting play at Ovens Auditorium (seats about 5,000) and that was $90 (that was a REAL splurge for me). At $225 that's a $1.50 a minute!

I'll just keep listening to my CDs...

Friday, February 09, 2007


It's amazing how God uses people and how he loves his children. I just read something that sent chills up my spine. You can spend your whole life studying the Bible, but there are so many layers to it that it can take many lifetimes to study them all. I read something today that peeled another layer back for me.

Methuselah was the oldest man in recorded history, he lived 969 years (almost 10 centuries!). He was the grandfather of Noah and ironically, he died just DAYS before the flood started.

10 centuries of life and he happens to die just before God wipes the slate clean? A coincidence? There is no such thing in the Bible, no reason to record such a thing. Besides, that would be SOME coincidence!

Then you add to that the meaning of his name, "when he dies, it shall be sent". 10 centuries before the flood, 849 years before God came to Noah, Enoch gave Methuselah this name. Wow.

Now all that makes sense, I have heard it in bits and pieces before, but think about this (I also read this too, not my idea). Maybe that's why Methuselah lived so long. God loves his children and he did not want them to perish, he wanted them to come back to Him so he gave them more time, and more time, and more time. And, since he had already setup Methuselah to be the precursor of this event, he lengthened his life.

Methuselah's long life was not a just freak of nature, but God kept him alive because he wanted his people to come back to him and if Methuselah died he would have to do what he did not want to do.

Wow. Sometimes I just have to be hit squarely in the head with something to see it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The (bottom of) Hole

For most of my adult life (not all of it) I have felt as though I've been on a mission to get out of the hole that I am in.

Most times, I am crawling up the side of the pit, getting mud in my fingernails as a try to reach the top of the hole. Other times, my strength weakens and I just can't keep up and I slide down some.

There have been a few times that I have reached the top of the pit and been able to look, briefly, back into it and even glimpse at the view of the grassy field outside of the pit. Each time this has happened, I have taken a wrong step and found myself back in the pit. Then, as I struggle to get back out, it just makes things worse and I fall deeper.

Lately, I have come to a terrible realization...this pit has a bottom. At the bottom is a swirling drain full of muddy water. It's a vortex that sucks all the stuff that falls to the bottom of the pit into...well I don't know where...I can't possibly think about where it goes.

The point is, for the first time in my life, I'm in the drain, I'm swirling around in this muddy water and I keep reaching for the sides of the wall so I can hang on to something. Occasionally, I find something to hold on to, but down here in the drain things are very fragile due to stress and struggle.

I hope that someone throws me a life preserver soon, I'm not sure I can keep paddling much longer.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

How Do Dreams Die?

I don't think dreams die like you see in the movies in a blaze of glory, with explosions and flashing lights.

They wear away like the rubber off your tires. When you buy new tires they look great, they have every ounce of rubber that came from the factory. They even have the little "knobbies" on them from when they are moulded. Over time they slowly wear away, no matter how diligent you are in rotating them. Yes, rotating them prolongs their life, but they will wear away eventually.

Some dreams are stronger than others, they are like rock. However, even rock erodes under the constant flow of water, wind and sand. Look at the Grand Canyon, it was once a mighty plateau, now it's a canyon, carved with water; soft, cleansing water.

I think dreams die the same way, slowly eroding until one night, when you are look at your dream and it's mis-shapen, etched or just gone. Your dream is a mystery to you; how did this happen?

When we are young, dreams fill our minds and warmed our hearts. Some dreams are fulfilled others are forgotten, still others stick around but are warn away by this world, turned into an empty hole that just reminds us of what was once there.

It's only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and...
Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness...
Like a heartbeat...
drives you mad...
In the stillness of remembering what you had...
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost

Dreams. Fleetwood Mac

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Movie Quotes

Some of my favorite movie quotes:

"You worried about saving your own skin?"
"Yeah, I am. It covers my body."

"Game over, man! Game over!"

"Asps. Very go first."
Raiders of the Lost Ark

"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

"If I were ever going to buy a desk set...twice, I would probably by this one...both times."
Dead Poets Society

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. "
The Princess Bride

"Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."

"Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs..."
Die Hard

"It's only an island if you look at it from the water."

"Now, I'm not asking you to believe in him, but he's your son, for God's sake, John. And I am askin' you to help him. If you don't I'll leave you.
I'll find work. I'll do whatever it takes to get away from here.

I'll live in a tree to get away from you. Don't you think I won't."

"Where would you go?"

"Myrtle Beach"
October Sky

Sunday, January 28, 2007


i dare you to tell me to walk through the fire
brand my soul and call me a liar
i dare you to tell me to walk through the fire
i dare you to tell me
i dare you to
"I Dare You", Shinedown

Go ahead...tell me to.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


What do you do when you can't find your way?

If you are on a trip in your car, you open the glove box and find a map or you may have a GPS system that just tells you where you are and helps guide you to where you want to go.

Years ago, sea captains used the stars and the sun to navigate, later as more of the earth was explored, they used charts created by others. Even later, we erected lighthouses to alert sailors of shallow areas with rocks that could damage or sink their ships.

In these cases, the path you end up taking has been taken by someone else before you. They share their experiences and give you valuable information that helps you to find your way.

Can you imagine the first ones to set out in uncharted land? Christopher Columbus? Louis and Clark? They had no idea what was in front of them because they didn't think anyone else had been where they were going. (it turns out that others had)

How do you get "un-lost"? How do you find your way when you feel alone, afraid and you don't know what's ahead of you? When you look around and the your surroundings look unfamiliar. You seek counsel, but even that counsel can't help you when you are alone.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bumper Sticker II

The other day I was driving down the road and saw another interesting bumper sticker.

On the surface, this bumper sticker seems completely harmless and even a bit good, but the more I thought about it the more it disturbed me.

It was one of those oval stickers that mimics the OBX stickers but gives support for something else other than the Outer Banks. This one, too, was just three letters...


For those of you that may not know, KJV stand for King James Version. It is a version of the Bible. Now I am not a fan of that version for a number of reasons, but I also have no real issues with the version itself. It has brought the gospel message to millions of people over the years.

What bothers me is the attitude that comes from putting "KJV" on the back of your car.

Yes, it's a harmless support for God's word, but if you wanted to share your support for God's word then why not just have these three letters? G, O, D, or only two... J, C, or put one of those fish symbols on your car (you know the one's that the early Christians used to identify each other by drawing them in the dirt...).

By putting KJV on your car you do the following, you confuse those that have no idea what KJV means, you exclaim to the world that the version of YOUR Bible is more important than the message in it and you condemn those that don't use KJV by choosing sides that were not meant to be drawn.

I grew up with King James, I read it in my youth
I read it in my Sunday school, It's how I learned the truth
Learning to decipher Elizabethan voice
Newer versions came along and now I have a choice!

Growin' up with King James
Learning "thees" and "thous"
Learning the unwritten rules that the church allows
Growin' up with King James
Hard to understand what the language means to me
Say who is this man? King James

Back when it was brand new the lingo it was prime
It's safe to say that century was way before my time
When it comes to versions, which is the one for me?
I can honestly declare, It's not the KJV!

No, we are not sayin' The KJV is bad
Countless souls came to the Lord
The only choice they had
If you're tryin' to tell me that's it's the only one
That would mean Jehovah God would be an Englishman

"Growin' Up With King James" - Keith Lancaster

"...Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me." 1 Corinthians 14:9-11

"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18