Life Archives

A Corner Turned

I’ve been light on the blogging this week (mostly copying and pasting) because my eldest is graduating from high school this evening.  We’re turning a corner as a family; the first one to leave the nest on her way to college, and the changes in both her life and the lives of those, well, left behind. 

It’s one of those events that is very happy and yet in a way sad.  My mother-in-law said that she felt a sadness recently and didn’t know why.  Today she realized it; she’s grieving.  Our daughter is taking the first step to leaving our home, after having spent almost her whole life with us, and the absence will be definitely felt.  Our in-laws live about 15 minutes away, and they see us quite regularly, once a week at church if not more often, so they’ll feel the same sense as well. 

Yes, it is sad, but the joy in this time will overshadow it.  The pride in watching our daughter graduate with honors (something her old man could never do) will push that aside.  Having family and friends come together and celebrate this time will overcome any sorrow that the day brings.

I’ll miss my little girl as she hits the road and turns a corner to discover the next era of her life, in college.  Yes, it is sad, but I’m excited for her.  I remember this time in my own life, and it was thrilling. 

Tonight, we all turn the corner, and we can’t wait to see what’s there.

"Paul Harvey…Good Day!"

Paul Harvey died today at the age of 90.  I’ve been listening to Paul Harvey on and off since high school.  Here was a guy who was entertaining to listen to, even while he was telling me the news.  He made it interesting.  His broadcasts were "visits" rather than "programs", and Saturday was all about human interest stories.

And you gotta’ hand it to him; he at least had the intellectual honesty to call his program "Paul Harvey News and Comment".  These days, comment is passed off as news.  Would that today’s broadcasters held to that same standard and had that same transparency.

My favorite recurring line of his was "Self-government without self-discipline is self-defeating."  This would be the lead-in to some story about a government somewhere either behaving badly or reaping the consequences thereof.  These days, the government of the Palestinians seems to be a daily confirmation of that line, but perhaps the United States today, throwing out fiscal discipline, will also find that to be self-defeating.

I absolutely loved his "The Rest of the Story" feature, even if some of the items were, indeed, urban legends.  Most were not, and they gave us a look at the people and events of the news in a different light, and they always ended with, "And now you know the rest of the story".  In college, during my show on the radio station, I’d read from one of his books that had collections of them.  I even wrote a "Rest of the Story" story of my own.  Once, I recorded a number of his segments off the radio and made my own cassette tape full of them.  And to give you an idea of his tenure, I also did that years later, recording off the Internet and making a CD.  Sometime I read books to my kids, but before the evening’s chapter, I’ll pick up one of those collections and read something from there first.  That is how my children knew Paul Harvey, and why even my thirteen-year-old was a little saddened when he heard of his passing.

My dad introduced me to this fine broadcaster, and my kids knew something of him.  Thus was the staying power of the man, who ended every broadcast with, "Paul Harvey…Good day!"

And now we know the end of the story.

25 Random Things About Me

This is a meme that blazing through Facebook; you write 25 random things about you and tag 25 other people to do it themselves.  Usually these are short, 1-sentence items, but, hey, I blog; I can’t just do a quick list.

For your information, here’s what I wrote:

Personal note: This is probably longer than the usual response to this meme. I’m like that (and it’s one of the 25 items below).

I’m a Christian, I love Jesus, and I don’t apologize for it. I won’t beat you over the head with it, but I certainly won’t hide it, either. If you ask, I’ll answer.

The way I met my wife Susan is one of those small-world stories. While working at a summer camp after my senior year of high school, I met her sister, Joy, who was also a counselor. She was going to be a senior at the same college I would be a freshman at; Asbury College. So I got to know her to find out more about Asbury. Then, my senior year, as I was bringing my sister to the school (her freshman year) I saw Susan and though, “I either know her, or someone related to her.” They looked very much alike. Separately, I got to know a guy named Kevin who was also a freshman and was taking computer classes (as was I). Turned out that Susan and he went to the same missionary boarding school in Malaysia (Dalat International School).

My first car was a 1976 Dodge Coronet Crestwood station wagon, which was already rather old by the time I purchased it in 1983 from Zikakus Chevrolet (Ithaca, NY). It was so big, I named it the Battlestar Galactica. Its size came in handy, from carting a carload for camp staff breaks, to hauling all the luggage back to school after a van accident at an Asbury College SASF retreat, to hauling everything I owned in the world to my first job in Atlanta, GA. Sometimes, in order to start it, I had to take the air filter cover off, put something in the “butterfly” flap to keep it open (like a stick), and then it would crank up. Susan and I went on our honeymoon in it because the Ford Escort I had purchased in Atlanta was stolen shortly before the wedding. More and more started going out on it (power steering pump, radiator) that, in 1987, I finally gave it to the auto mechanic who’d worked on it for so long so he could scrap it for parts.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Considering that blogging will be light-to-non-existent while I’m on vacation, I thought I’d wish this to you now. 

Writings on the Walls

I can work from home a few days a week, and I definitely enjoy doing that.  This morning was my birthday, but as I work up and started my morning ablutions (look it up) I found a couple of Post-It(tm) notes; one stuck to the door of the bathroom and one inside, wishing me a happy birthday.

That was just the beginning.

As I ventured through other places in the house — the hallway, the living room, the kitchen, down the stairs, at my desk — I found more and more of these, placed before I got out of bed this morning.  I’m up to 51 notes so far, and I’ve been informed that I have a few more left to find. 

Some of my favorites:

Hope you don’t go bald (a, no doubt, humorous attempt by my 13-year-old son to make light of my hair deficiency)

Be blessed (a more mature wish from my 8-year-old son)

You are totally awesome (high praise from my 16-year-old daughter)

Thanks for being the best foot-warmer in the world (from my wife; she’ll scoot her feet under me as we sit on the couch)

Thanks for all the times you’ve taken us to laser tag.  I’m going to beat you some time.  (from my 18-year-old daughter who, I’m pretty sure, has already hit that mark; the old man’s not as quick on the draw as he used to be)

Roses are red, violets are blue, something is wierd…, surely not you! (a reference to my odd sense of humor)

Best computer geek ever, but a nice one LOL ROFL

Thanks for all the games you’ve given us  (a reference to computer games, many of them free software, but we do have a good time with them)

You may not be a 900 year old Timelord, but I think you’ll do (Yeah, we’re Doctor Who fans)

Thanks for helping me with my math (a more practical one from the 8-year-old)

And of course many others, some with family inside jokes, but all of them got my day off to a fantastic start.  Just wanted to brag on my family a bit this morning. 

I Just Don’t Get "Twitter"

The following is something I wrote in a forum for a podcast network that I frequent (GSPN).  There was a post from one member who was getting off of Twitter because it was sucking up his time, as many things on the Internet can.  It prompted me to write something on the forum that I’d been thinking about for a while, and cross-post it here. 

(FYI, the status update to which I comment "Guess who this is?" is the update of the guy who runs GSPN, Cliff Ravenscraft, announcing the availability of new episodes of some of his podcasts.)

Personally, I never really "got" Twitter.  Seemed to me a nifty new technology looking for an application.  The elevating of the mundane ("I’m going to work", "I’m at work", "I’m leaving for home", "Going to see movie X") didn’t seem like it would be sustaining.  You can only read mundane messages for so long before it’s just, well, mundane.  The technology is snazzy, no doubt, but the application didn’t seem to click with me.

I’m on Facebook, and their status updates, Twitter-like as they are, don’t excite me much either.  I’m much more interested in two-way communication, so the messages you can send back and forth, or even the blog-like notes you can write, are much more interesting to me than "Going to lunch with my Senator".  OK, that’s cool and all, but write it up later on; *that* would be interesting (me being a political junkie). 

I do see applications for this, and in that space I can see how it can be useful.  Cliff posts Facebook (and I assume Twitter) updates when he releases new shows, and for those waiting on those shows that can be helpful.  (But it is any more helpful or timely than just checking new posts to the GSPN website via an RSS feed?  I mean, if you have to hear the next episode just as soon as humanly possible, all well and good, but most of us can wait until our podcatcher picks it up on its next run.)

I’ve heard of software development teams using it to keep their widely-scattered team up-to-date on what they’re working on.  Sounds great, and a blog would be overkill for something like this. 

But here’s my most recent Facebook status updates as an example.

(so-and-so) is preparing to really do some writing tomorrow after faffing about today and just reading.  [Nice, but writing about what, and what have you been reading.  Expounding on that is too much for a status update.]

(so-and-so) is getting ready for tomorrow and Saturday.  [Mundane]

(so-and-so) Released Almost Daily Devotional #70 & My Crazy Life #276. I very thankfully added our 142nd Plus Member. Looking forward to 143rd!  [Guess who’s this is?   ;)  See above.]

(so-and-so) will never "assume" again.  [Meaning?  This guy needs a blog.]

(so-and-so) is Reading a book called River of Mercy w/ Spiritual Journal.  [Informative, and invites those who have also read it to write to her.  Again, a blog would give this person a way to communicate to anyone who’s read it (and those who haven’t) all at once with their thoughts.]

And the next one down says it all:

(so-and-so) should be doing something other than facebook:-).

Heh heh.

Blogging is still a rather geeky thing, but I think Facebook can make this simpler for folks.  They don’t need to create a new account with Blogger or, they have a built-in audience of people they know, you write it once instead of a bunch of different e-mails/messages, and it’s far more interesting to read than one-liners that either don’t say anything or make the reader beg for details.

OK, off my soapbox.   (…and onto my blog; I think this qualifies for a post on it)  ;D 


Lessons From a Trip Down Memory Lane

I’m currently on vacation in Ithaca, NY. My dad’s father, my dad, his 2 brothers, and a whole host of family in-laws and friends have purchases homes here and retired to the beautiful central New York region. Ithaca is home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, and over the years students from those schools essentially paid for the homes while they rented them during the school year. We would take our 3 weeks vacation here every year to mow the lawn (5 feet high by summer; students don’t typically mow lawns) and see our cousins. Because the brothers and their sister tried to coordinate vacations, we got to know our first cousins very well, as well as some second cousins and others of various once-removed or twice-removed situations.

Ithaca lives up to the stereotype of a very liberal college town, politically speaking. Obama will carry this town with greater than 95% of the vote. For a very long time, large, “big box” stores — Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Home Depot, for examples — were kept out of town so as not to ruin the local town charm. The problem was, suburbs just outside the town were quite accepting of these stores, and they saw their tax revenues jump as the stores came in, while Ithaca found itself in a bit of a crisis. Money came in to the town, but it flowed out to the mall just on the other side of the town line or in burgs 20-30 minutes away. In the end, the “CAVE” people (liberal folks who were labeled “Citizens Against Virtually Everything”) had to relent to the fiscal realities. Ithaca now has a thriving shopping area for those that want the big stores, and after 5 or so years it still has The Commons where you can stroll around to find that corner bookstore.

What the CAVE people were worried about didn’t really happen, or at least not nearly to the extent that they predicted. The Meadow Court and the Grayhaven motels, longtime residents of Ithaca, have survived the introduction of the Hampton Inn chain. The Grayhaven caters to dog owners, one of the ways they stay competitive; defining their market. The local Wicks Lumber, which has a small hardware store attached, is still in business, even with Home Depot less than 2 miles away. The “mom & pop” establishments are essentially still here. The free market didn’t kill them off, and the CAVE people have grudgingly accepted it. (Well, some were simply out-voted. Acceptance isn’t always a given.)

In the end, capitalism worked. People got more choices, and the existing businesses survived, either by defining their markets, trading on their nostalgic or hometown quality, or enjoying customer loyalty going back decades. In Ithaca, both kinds of consumers — for the large and small businesses — exist, and businesses of both types can exist, side-by-side, in a capitalist society.

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Short-term Mission Trip, Part 2

As I mentioned a month ago, my three eldest kid would be doing short-term missions trips this summer.  Two of them went to Waveland, Miss. earlier, helping with Katrina relief.  The third flew out yesterday to Costa Rica for a week.

They’ll be working with Pura Vida Missions, running Vacation Bible school classes held in parks and public places in neighborhoods with a mission group, and helping in an orphanage. 

Please pray for her safety and her witness, as well as for comfort at home.  :)  Costa Rica’s a long way away.  Thanks.

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Short-term Mission Trip, Part 1

My three eldest kids are going to each be doing a short-term missions/ministry trip this summer.  One is going to Costa Rica later in the summer, which will be the subject of "Part 2" later.  The other two are going to Waveland, Mississippi to work with the Christian Life Center, a relief ministry of our church, the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  The CLC’s focus is on the reconstruction of homes post-Katrina and development programs for the needy.  A joint effort by two nearby churches, the CLC was one of the first relief groups into Waveland after Katrina hit.  (Their history page is here.)

In addition to bringing clothing to donate to the CLC’s thrift store (and thus clearing out a bit of space in our garage), the kids from our youth group are going to be working for a week on service projects in the area and helping with gospel outreach as well. 

Please pray for their safety, their witness, their work and their personal spiritual lives.  Thanks.

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Bible Quizzing Weekend

3 of my kids, some more from our church, and a bunch more from homeschool classes that meet at our church, have formed 4 teams of Bible quizzers. These kids read and study the year’s text from which questions will be asked (this season it’s Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians), and compete with teams from other CMA churches in our zone in monthly quiz meets.

This weekend is the Southeast District Bible Quiz Invitational. It’ll be a great time for all the kids to really see what they know. The zone to our northeast, the Tri-State zone, has some really serious competition for us, and since many of the kids on our teams are new, this’ll be an eye opener. Some of those Tri-State kid can answer questions after little more than a burp from the Quizmaster.

Scripture memorization is a great way for kids (and adults) to get the Word in their hearts. My family has a number of passages we’ve memorized around the dinner table, but add a little friendly competition and some recognition, and the kids can really get motivated. (And really show up the adults.)

I’d recommend it if it’s available in your denomination. There are a number (Christian Missionary Alliance, Salvation Army, Nazarene to name a few) that offer it, so see if yours does. The Bible Quiz News website, sponsored by a quiz materials supplier Acme, is a good site for news and schedules.

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