Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Reason for Hope

I may live in a state that believes that taxation is something that everyone is entitled to, whose budget has been ridden into the ground by a string of Democratic governors, and that was dumb enough to be conned into voting Johnny Boy Edwards in as our Senator, but we've still got a couple of really great things going for us: 1) We have overwhelmingly supported every Republican presidential candidate since Reagan at least (that's as long as I can remember) and 2) today we told an activist judge that he could stick his reforms in his ear. These two items give me much hope!

District Judge James M. Honeycutt decided that he would take it upon himself to change courtroom procedures. According to the article,

The high court ordered Honeycutt to stop using a revised oath missing the phrase "so help you God," and administer the witness oath as spelled out in state law. The court also ordered the judge to allow bailiffs to begin court sessions with a proclamation that includes "God save the state and this honorable court."

The article went on to say that "Honeycutt had threatened to hold several bailiffs in contempt of court if they continued to use the phrase."

Fortunately this little Brown Shirt in a black robe's term will be expiring in 2006. I am going to make it a personal goal to try to prevent his re-election.

Apparently, quite a few court clerks and bailiffs refused to obey der Furher's orders. This left the judge to swear in his own witnesses. I'm sure that really instilled confidence! It's too bad this sort of resistance doesn't happen more often. However, it is exactly this type of resistance that gives me hope. Just like when Val Prieto writes about dissident activities in his native Cuba, there is something about American people finding their backbone that just excites me.

So, it is with hope that I view North Carolina's voting record (for President anyway) and resistance to the court's fascism. Of course, my hope will grow by leaps and bounds if we put a Republican in the Governor's mansion, a second Republican in the Senate, and follow our usual course and support President Bush in November.

A Dynastic Marriage of Ambitious Swine

Impressive wingspan on an Arkansas Icon

Paul Johnson (a British Journalist) described Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage in a Newsmax Article today saying, "Let's not forget: The Clinton's marriage is a dynastic marriage of ambitious swine." Pure eloquence! Leave it to a Brit! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Too Little Fun Working Tonight

It has been one of those days. Not that anything went terribly; on the contrary, everything went great today. I got to visit with an old client and we had a great time. I got to get to know some new clients, and I really like them. I had a couple of great meals and got to simultaneously watch about 3 baseball games while I was eating supper. The only real negative is that I have just been at it for a long time today and I'm tired and haven't gotten to play much. I guess the main problem is that I have more to do than I have hours to do it today! Oh well, I guess that is life. I really value my "me" time. And I find that blogging is so much more fun than real work! Today I didn't get to do much of that (blogging), and by now I am tired and ready to go home and get comfortable for a little while before heading to bed. So, I hope that I don't disappoint, or for that matter, please anyone too much by only posting this wee blog entry tonight.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Too Much Fun Blogging Tonight

Alas, I have spent too much time playing tonight and not enough time printing. So, while I'm waiting for pages and pages of real estate listings to print, I'll write a little more!

My long time friend WB has decided to join the blog world. He has been running a company blog documenting his progress on an emergency response project, but he generally needs to temper the content on that blogsite due to the scope of what it is trying to accomplish. This new blog will allow him to use a more no-holds-barred approach. You should check it out. Granted, he may be crude, rude, and socially unacceptable at times, but I can guarantee that it will prove to be an entertaining read... if I can get him to keep writing. If you see anything there that you like please make sure to comment to him.

Hopefully I will be able to get down to town hall tomorrow sometime and pay them to put a meter box in front of my house so that I can hook up to city water.

I love my parents, and it is fun visiting them, but the guest bed isn't like mine. I'm looking forward to getting back to my place. One neat thing about sleeping in a strange bed, though: I don't sleep as soundly and consequently I remember my dreams alot better. Last night I dreamed I was a spy. It was COOL!

Another nice thing about my parents' home is that it is so quiet that I can hear the sounds of crickets and tree frogs. It is much better than the sounds I usually hear at night, and it has made me start thinking about preparing to make a change in my housing situation. Of course, I don't anticipate this change happening anytime in the too near future, but it is good to get me to start preparing for the change. Maybe something out in the country where I can hear those sounds and actually see the stars!

I have to congratulate on its help screen. I was trying to figure out how to put a picture on my profile and in desperation clicked help. The instructions made it dead easy. Very impressive!

Well, my mountain of documents has finished printing, so I'll call it a night. Until tomorrow!

My "O" Award Of the Day Goes To...

Dan Rather of CBS News.

The US-led Coalition governors turned over sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government today 48 hours ahead of schedule.

I find it amusing how so many of the mainline media outlets assured us that we wouldn't be ready to turn over sovereignty by the 30th. Surprise! We did it 2 days early!

Therefore, today's "O" Award goes to Dan Rather who demonstrated his ability as a spin-doctor on this morning's news. Against staggering odds he was able to take a major success in the Iraqi campaign and turn it into an opportunity to cause people to view this achievement in a negative light. Instead of praising the President and the coalition for keeping their word and handing over control of Iraq's government he (with a look of "sincere concern" upon his face) commenced the hand wringing. "Oh my! They turned over sovereignty early! They must have been afraid that there would be problems!" Not content to simply question the readiness of the Iraqi government's ability to govern its people, Mr. Rather continued by insinuating that the move was not sincere and that Mr. Allawi is merely a puppet of the Americans.

Dan, is that the most subtlety you can manage? That was about as slick as Al Gore posing as Ronald Reagan in the Presidential debates with George Bush.

President Bush might just be the coolest President that we have ever had. Just think of all the terrorist plans that this surprise move disrupted. I bet Dubya got a good belly laugh over that one too. It is kind of like getting invited to a black tie party, but being told that it is a masquerade. I am sure that there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over that one in the enemy's camp!

Think what you like, lefties, President Bush is ALOT sharper than you have given him credit for. You guys also might want to consider that the President is doing something else that probably chafes you pretty well: he has once again done what he said that he would do.

Now, as for the intelligence of the American people as a whole, the jury is still out. I guess the truth will be seen in whether they can see through liars like Dan Rather and Michael Moore.

Mad As A March Hare

Al Gore has been busy proving that there is a God and that He must still love America (at least a little bit.)

Most failed Presidential hopefuls fade off into the sunset, causing very little stir politically ever again. In fact, alot of times we find that we actually like them better once they aren't in politics anymore. Take for example former Senator Bob Dole (whose wife is currently serving as my Senator.) While he was in office and during his campaign for President, Bob was a cranky-looking fellow who didn't look like he could be trusted to pet kittens, let alone run the country. Later, we figured out what the problem had been when he started doing ads for Viagra! Ever since then, Bob has been in a rather jovial mood. I dare say he'd stand a pretty good chance if he ever decided to go for office again.

Al Gore has been completely different. He has refused to go away, consigned to the fact that his political career is OVER. I think that the man has lost his mind. No, SERIOUSLY! I'm not talking about the garden variety "you're out of your mind" sort of crazy that you assign to people with whom you disagree, but about the kind where you should be locked away in the padded room because you are a danger to yourself and others. Steve H. wrote a hilarious blog post on Friday where he discussed a speech that Gore made describing President Bush and his supporters as "Brown Shirts." I think my favorite was a comment that defended Gore's actions, saying that he was getting ready for his new career as a WWF wrestler!

It is pretty amazing looking back at the progression that Al has taken since losing the election. He was already acting unstable during the campaign. Like Steve I remember being outraged that Gore would actually go so far as to imitate President Reagan to try to win the election. That was pretty scary. Then there was the recount fiasco in Florida. President Bush calmly went back to his ranch in Texas, while Al Gore worked himself into a froth refusing to accept that after 6 recounts the result was still going to be the same. (Thank God the Supreme Court finally stepped in and said enough is enough.) Since then Al has become more and more venomous in his attacks on the President and more and more unhinged. His past two speeches have made the Howard Dean screech seem tame by comparison.

What I want to know is who actually goes and listens to someone who has clearly lost his grip on reality? Are they going for the carnival effect of seeing a freak in action, or even scarier, do they actually think that he is making sense? It is telling that even the Democratic Party is beginning to distance itself from this fruitcake. Can you blame them? I'm guessing that the next election he'll be running in place of Ralph Nader, but that is just a guess. Ralph may not be willing to step aside.

All I can say is that I thank God that Looney Al wasn't in office when we were attacked on 9/11/01. I can't even imagine what he would have done, but I am quite sure that he wasn't competent to run this country. So, Virginia, if you need proof that there is a God, just look to the results of the 2000 election!

MOSES... (Revisited)

So there I was... my well isn't working and it looks like it is going to cost over $1,000 to get it fixed. I decided to give the Moses thing a shot, so I went out in my back yard, found a stick and whacked my well house. That didn't really produce the results that I was looking for; so then I spoke to it and commanded water to come forth - still less than dazzling results. I was going to try to do the tree thing, but couldn't figure out how to get a great big tree into a 2 1/2 inch pipe. I figured that I could perhaps use acorns and that may be as efficacious, but I noticed the neighbors peeking out their windows at me as if I were Al Gore on an anti-Bush tirade (Speaking of Al, I'll write more on him later.) Now you may be thinking that I got no water out of the well. That would be inaccurate. I did get some, but it was there before I used the stick, etc.! I suppose that my faith just wasn't strong enough! We'll have to work on that! Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 26, 2004


I finally got to see Hidalgo this afternoon at the cinema. I was afraid that I'd miss it on the big screen, and I'm glad that I didn't. It was as good as I had hoped that it would be. The only negative that I saw was that the term "Christian" was applied to a woman that very clearly was not. Perhaps that was the intent of the writer or director or whomever was responsible for it. I get the feeling that it was supposed to be a bit of a joke. Anyway, the Christians watching the movie found it ironic. Of course, most of the Arabs were portrayed as either murderous fiends or as arrogant and prejudiced. So, I guess that made it all fair. I thought that the movie did a really good job of capturing at least some aspects of the American mindset. I don't really want to take the time to write about all of that right now. I want to think on it a bit more, and then I can do the movie justice in my analysis! Have a good weekend!

My alma mater. Cool, now I can include pictures! Posted by Hello

Friday, June 25, 2004

Found an Interesting Quote Today...

Was trolling Moxie's blog and found a really great quote today. One fellow was commenting that the essence of Big Government is its false promise to insulate the governed from risk. He included the following:

But insurance against risk is an infinite goal that government does not know how to accomplish. Worse, if government could somehow render our lives care-free by caring for all our needs, its success would put an end to our freedom and virtue by leaving us with nothing to do. Even blundering attempts to minimize risk endanger freedom and virtue by first raising expectations and then producing cynicism when life’s unhappy surprises remain. In short, the worst failing of big government is the way it has harmed the working and reputation of our self-government. This is what the party of government, the Democrats, has done.
--Harvey C. Mansfield (Harvard University)

I'm quite sure that I don't believe that any government on this planet can fulfill a promise of insurance against risk. God doesn't even do that!

To me, though, this seems to be a pretty good interpolation of the natural consequence of trusting the government to insure me from all harm even if they theoretically could. Being American I am not excited at all about anyone in government promising to do something that they can't do, and then interfering with my ability to do what I can do to mitigate my personal loss, and then defending their failure to protect me as if it were somehow my fault that my loss occurred in the first place! Being Southern further exacerbates my impatience with this sort of asinine nonsense.

One great example that I can think of that illustrates this point has to do with a suit that was brought against a local police department. The person who brought the suit charged that it was the police's responsibility to protect him or her from harm. They didn't protect the plaintiff and he or she ended up being assaulted. The police countered (and won) saying that they can't be everywhere at once and that while it was certainly unfortunate that John or Jane Doe was injured in this assault, it wasn't the police's fault that it happened.

But at the same time anti-gun politicians tell people that it is the police's job to keep them safe from harm; therefore, there is no need for common citizen proles to own firearms. See? On one hand the police can't be everywhere at once, but there are many who would prefer that you not be able to defend yourself! It's Orwellian logic at its best.

Reagan was right: smaller government is better government. Governments are just like puppies. They're cute, cuddly, and friendly when they are small, but then they grow up, hog the bed, start to smell, and leave larger and larger presents in your yard to step on. And if you don't watch them, they just might bite you in the butt.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

What This Thirty-Something Is Looking For

Today I have been in a running email discussion with a female friend of mine about what guys are looking for in a mate, and we were generally discussing this in terms of the specifics of age and what the consequences of these age preferences may be. I thought it sounded like something that might be fun to address on the blog, so here it goes.

One of the comments that she made was that guys around 30 are generally looking for a woman in her early 20's basically so that they can look like the worldly-wise know-it-all. I'd say that she about has it nailed, but I am not sure that she has it nailed for all of the right reasons. I'm guessing that there are a few different reasons that a 30-year-old guy would want to be with someone in or fresh out of college.

The first that I can think of has to do with the sudden realization that he has hit an age that implies that he should be grown up and well on his way toward all of those outward marks that indicate that he is a man. The sad fact is that alot of guys aren't quite ready to give up their 20s. I mean, the 20s are a pretty good decade for alot of guys. Thus, they look for a way to stay there. By dating a woman in her early 20s he gets to hang around with her other friends, who, more than likely, are in their 20s. He gets to stay in that unbelievably great college atmosphere - even if it is for only a few hours each week.

The second reason that I can imagine is that he is still trying to prove that he "still has it." I have NEVER had "it," whatever "it" is, but for the fellows that did, the prospect of losing "it" must be scary. Face it, 30 is the first of the birthdays where sick, twisted people start thinking that giving you black balloons and over-the-hill gifts is a fun and appropriate thing to do.

The third reason is more of a motivation for the reason that my friend gave. These guys want to look like a know-it-all because, as I mentioned in my first point, by your third decade you are expected to have gained some wisdom and be well on your way to being a man. Frankly, alot of guys, NEVER feel like they have achieved that state. John Eldredge wrote in Wild At Heart that most men feel like posers, and go to great lengths to hide that fact and to try to prove to themselves that they are not. It rarely works.

My friend said that she thought that a person approaching their mid-30s would be looking for a partner in their early 30s. I can hardly speak for all guys in my age range, but I find myself torn in this whole age category thing.

See, I have this sense that the runway (for me) is getting shorter and shorter, and that if I am going to marry and have kids, it probably had best be happening sooner rather than later. The main reason for this feeling is that I hope to still be physically able to play with my children when they come along! ...And I'd also like to not have to use a walker at their graduations!

Now, I realize that the runway for a man is actually much longer than it is for a woman. Conventional medical wisdom teaches that the danger for a woman to bear children through her 30s grows at a somewhat exponential rate. Granted, Sarah was in her 90s when Isaac was born, but that is the exception rather than the rule! So, my age preferences for a wife are at least somewhat influenced by my desire to have children.

The great thing, though, about marrying someone who is close in age to you is that you have alot in common culturally. You grew up at about the same time, so you are familiar with alot of the things that were popular when you were younger. You know the same music, movies, fashion, etc. That creates a major disconnect with someone from a different generation. Someone who is closer in age to you should also be more mature, wiser, and generally have a wider base of experience than younger potential mates. They should also have a pretty good idea of what they are wanting from life and have had a chance to live a little.

Sadly, one of the major downsides to someone in their 30s is that they have probably been severely battered and bruised by life and love. That can create a set of issues and baggage that can be daunting to take up. I've learned that "projects" rarely ever get finished, and can't be finished by me anyway - it’s a God job.

The 20-somethings have a couple of things going for them. They are likely to be at least a little less battered by life and love. They are younger, so kids (and keeping up with them) probably wouldn't be a major problem. However, they generally don't have the same experience or wisdom that the older ladies have, and they often want to go out and do some stuff before they settle down to kids and family life. Even if they don't initially realize that they want to run around experiencing life without these encumbrances, at some point they usually do, leading to all sorts of problems if these weights have already been acquired.

I must say that I have been surprised that I find some of the signs of aging on the ladies my age quite attractive. There is just something kind of sexy about a woman whose eyes are beginning to show the beginnings of the lines that they spend so much money on cosmetics to hide! At my 10th high school reunion I was able to spend some time with a classmate that was beginning to get the hints of lines around her eyes. I was totally enthralled by that. (OK, she is gorgeous too, but I remember being struck by that detail.)

I don’t really know what it is exactly that I am looking for. I have figured out that I can’t figure out what I need in a spouse. I am really trusting that God does and is somehow able to help someone as clueless as me find a really great match! He does have His work cut out for Himself. The churches around here aren’t exactly filled to capacity with marriageable ladies, I don’t do bars, I’m too stubborn to use an online dating service, and I think that I have forgotten how to even ask someone on a date. I don’t even know how to tell if someone likes me! They say that even a blind squirrel finds the occasional acorn. We’ll see!

I guess one benefit to being single at 34 is that I have had a chance to think about and refine the characteristics that are really important to me in a spouse. I’ve found that if these aren’t present it is pretty much a deal breaker. We can still be friends, but I’ll probably not let it go any further than that. Here’s the top 10.

1) Loves God and is a Christian
2) Loves me
3) Is attractive to me (I don’t care what anyone else thinks!)
4) Wants a family
5) Has never been arrested or institutionalized
6) Is politically conservative
7) Believes the Bible
8) Is college educated
9) Fun
10) Smart

Of course, there are other things that I'd love to have in a wife, and there are the things that are a pretty quick turnoff too, but I won’t bore you with those details today. It is getting late here.

I guess what I am saying is that I've got some guidelines, but I have found that some of the things that I thought would be great in a spouse turned out to be something that ended up annoying me to no end. I have always had a sense of destiny, so I know that the selection of my spouse is vitally important. I know that I am not wise enough to figure this out on my own, so I'm really trusting God to direct me to the right place. I always end up falling on God's grace. It is a pretty good place to fall.


The Lord has spoken to me about my busted well! I'm supposed to take a stick and whack my well house and the water will start flowing again. Or was I supposed to speak to it? Now that I think about it I can't remember!... Or was I supposed to cut down a tree and throw it into the well? I'm scared to try all three! You never know WHAT might happen!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A Real Estate (And History) Lesson

I don't know if this is a true story or not, and I'm too lazy to check it out on I've seen it floating around ever since I started working in real estate. For those not familiar with what an abstract of title is, this is the documentation of a search done by a real estate attorney to demonstrate that the person selling a piece of property has a clear title (in other words, the seller has full right to sell the property to whomever they choose without someone else laying claim to it). I've always been impressed by the attorney's creativity and wit in response to the incompetent bureaucratic nit!

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down.

After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply (actual letter):

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows (actual letter):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application.

For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus' expedition.

Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope you at the FHA find God's original claim to be satisfactory.

Now, may we have our loan?"

The loan was approved.

He's Dead, Jim.

Well, it's official. My poor little well has perished. The well guy was out there this morning to take a look at it but there was nothing he could do. It seems that my well was over 40 years old. (I'm guessing 43 +/- 1 year.) But 40 just sounds too young to die! Back then they only used a 2 1/2 inch pipe and the pump and motor were affixed right at ground level. Now they use a 6-inch pipe, and there aren't any motors out there that are going to match. I'm very sad about all of this. It is very likely that I'll end up having to connect to the city's water, and I'm just not excited about it.

I suppose that it is possible that I could end up digging another well (IF the town of China Grove will let me.) If they will, I guess what I end up doing will all depend on how much it will cost to put in a new well versus connecting to the town's water supply. I'm guessing that connecting to the town is going to be the more cost-effective route. It's enough to make me want to move out in the country! Too bad I don't have enough equity to do that yet!

The family of the deceased has requested that no flowers be sent, but memorials will be accepted.

Que lastima!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

No Water

I returned to my home yesterday evening with my sister's two kids (one's 8 and the other is 3.) We were getting all set for an evening of fun and meaningful interaction when I went to turn on the water in my kitchen. Nothing. Not even a drop.

I am in the (usually) fortunate position of being able to use a well inside of the town limits. I hate city water. I don't like the way that it tastes, and something inside me just rebels at having to pay for water out of the tap. I guess it has something to do with growing up with a well. ...It may also have something to do with a general distrust that I have towards any governmental body charging me money!

Most of the time having a well is a great advantage to me. The water tastes much better and you don't have to pay for it every month. However, there are moments when having a well is a disadvantage. For instance, power outages mean (at least here) no water. (That includes toilet flushing too.) It can be a problem too when there are natural contaminants like lead or sulfur too, but I've never had to endure those sorts of hardships before.

So I talked to a well guy today. He seems to think that the motor to my pump has gone out. I don't like the sound of that. At least I have the comfort of knowing that I'm dealing with probably the best well man in the county - maybe even the state. Still, it doesn't comfort me at all to think of the money that I could soon be spending.

If I think of some great spiritual lesson that I'm supposed to be learning here, I'll let you know tomorrow!

Help Please!

I need a little help with this blog.

See, I'm still pretty new to the program and haven't figured out where to go to do some of the stuff I have seen on other blogs. (Maybe it can't be done here.)

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to allow anyone to post comments, but still force them to provide basic information like an alias, a real name, and an email address before allowing them to post. Can that be done?

If it can't, I would really appreciate it if folks that aren't on would create their own alias (or some other way of identifying to whom I'm responding) when posting anonymously.

Any suggestions (related to these issues) would be welcome. Thanks for your help!

Where's the Outrage?

The cowards have struck again. This time they decapitated a South Korean. Where is the international outrage at this atrocity? I mean, when it was Americans, I wasn't too surprised that everyone expressed mild disgust but didn't get too worked up over it. We're used to that. Obviously it isn't just about America or Israel. That thought in and of itself ought to be enough to scare the "Oh crap!" out of alot of people. Still, I'm just so amazed that people aren't getting worked up about this. I wonder how many more we will have to be subjected to before they do?

Top 10 Foods

I found an article on Newsmax ( ) that was written by a lady named Marge Perry that lists a bunch of different foods that are actually supposed to be good for you. Not too surprisingly, I like most of the stuff on the list. Of course, I guess you negate most of that goodness if you cook it up in heavy cream, butter, or sugar! I'm sure that Michelle will be glad to see chocolate made it (although her son may not be too happy about the green leafy vegetables and legumes!) Here is a link to the article.,0,1404166.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines.

They had lots of other good foods that didn’t make the top 10 list.

Here are some of the best disease-fighting, health-promoting foods that came up on our nutritionists' Top 10 lists:

1. BLUEBERRIES. Blueberries are a particular favorite among researchers because they have more antioxidant power than any other fruit. Kathy McManus, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, explains: "The blue color comes from the presence of anthocyanin, a flavonoid which has been found to retard the effects of aging in animal studies. We're talking about motor and cognitive function."

There is also strong evidence that blueberries help fight heart disease and cancer. And blueberries may help improve night vision and slow macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness in the elderly).

McManus, who runs a weight loss clinic and research center, points out that blueberries are also low in calories -- just 60 in three-quarters of a cup.

2. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES. Some green vegetables, like kale and spinach, are particularly good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help prevent macular degeneration. And lutein, especially when consumed with the lycopene found in tomatoes, may slow the growth of prostate cancer cells, studies show.

Leafy greens are a good source of folate, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease and blood clots; magnesium, which helps maintain blood pressure; beta carotene to fight cancer; and some, like collards, are an excellent nondairy source of calcium.

Leafy greens are also high in fiber and very low in calories. The darker the leaf, the higher the concentration of beta carotene. Field green lettuces and mesclun mixes available in many supermarkets offer a good variety.

3. NUTS. "A nut is the seed for a new plant. When you eat a nut, you're getting a compacted source of all the nutrients that plant is going to need in order to grow," said Christine Pelkman, assistant professor of nutrition at the State University at Buffalo. Nuts contain healthy monounsaturated fats, protein, fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, selenium and magnesium. Every nut has its own particular nutritional strengths; walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and Brazil nuts are one of the best dietary sources of selenium, for example.

"It is very clear that those who eat five or more servings of nuts per week reduce their risk of heart disease by 32 percent and their risk of type 2 diabetes by 27 percent," McManus said.

4. FATTY FISH. While some nutritionists put all fish on their Top 10 list, most emphasize fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and tuna, which are highest in omega-3s. "The benefits are humongous," said Ayoob. "Fish high in omega-3s can reduce heart disease by up to 30 percent."

There is a note of caution with fish. Farmed salmon has higher levels of PCBs (a chemical contaminate) than wild, but wild salmon is seasonal and far more costly. McManus therefore advises patients to limit consumption of farmed fish. Large fish, such as tuna, tilefish, shark and swordfish, should also be consumed in limited quantities because they contain higher levels of mercury than smaller fish.

Most nutritionists interviewed agree that the health benefits outweigh the risks and that eating a variety of fish minimizes the risk.

5. AVOCADOS. Avocados got a bad reputation because they have more calories and fat than many vegetables. But most of the fat in this fruit (yes, fruit) is monounsaturated, and avocados are packed with nutrients. Ounce for ounce, avocados contain about 60 percent more potassium than bananas and contain more vitamin E (which helps prevent muscle damage and reduce inflammation) than most other commonly eaten fruits.

6. WHOLE GRAINS. Highly refined carbohydrates such as white bread, cookies, sweetened and highly processed cereals can pack on the pounds and cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar. But these refined carbohydrates should not be confused with whole-grain carbohydrates, which are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin B, folate and fiber.

The powerhouse vitamins and minerals and the hundreds of phytochemicals in whole grains may help prevent cancer, heart disease and birth defects. And fiber, which according to the American Heart Association is greatly underconsumed (Americans average 15 grams per day rather than the recommended 25-35 grams), helps lower cholesterol, may protect against certain cancers (including gastrointestinal), aids bowel function and decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

7. LEGUMES, INCLUDING SOY. Legumes and beans are an underutilized, inexpensive, near-complete nutrient package. "They have protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals," said Ayoob. "And diabetics need to know they won't tend to raise blood sugar."

Legumes contain a range of plant nutrients that few animal proteins deliver, along with fiber and very little fat.

Soybeans are higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrates than other legumes. There is conflicting evidence about soy's role in cancer protection, but it is clear that soy belongs in a heart-healthy diet.

8. LOW-FAT DAIRY (MILK AND YOGURT). Yogurt contains probiotics -- a "good" bacteria for the stomach that helps prevent infections and gastrointestinal distress. McManus especially values yogurt's "good balance of protein, carbohydrates and calcium," and recommends natural yogurts with active cultures and no added sugar.

Calcium, like fiber, is sadly lacking in American diets. Low-fat dairy is an easy way to increase calcium consumption, and milk also has vitamin D added. Vitamin D, which enables the body to absorb the calcium, comes from exposure to sunlight.

9. EGGS. Often referred to as one of nature's "perfect foods," an egg offers complete protein in a low-calorie package. It's quick, easy and inexpensive and rich in many vitamins (including vitamin E), minerals and micronutrients, like lecithin and lutein, that may protect against eye disease and certain cancers.

The American Heart Association removed restrictions on the number of egg yolks healthy individuals can consume. While yolks are high in dietary cholesterol, the AHA and many scientists agree that the saturated fat and trans-fats in the diet have a greater impact on blood cholesterol than the cholesterol in the diet. The AHA continues to recommend that people with heart disease limit their egg yolk consumption to two per week.

10. DARK CHOCOLATE. Yep, that's right, chocolate. Justify it nutritionally: dark (unsweetened chocolate) has compounds similar to red wine that benefit heart health. The flavonoids (an antioxidant-like chemical in plant foods) in dark chocolate fight free radicals and help blood vessels dilate, which improves blood flow. It doesn't take a nutritionist, though, to say that chocolate makes people feel warm- hearted.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Soul Music

Bluegrass music is an amazing thing. Of all the music forms out there, bluegrass music is the only one that I have found that can consistently overcome a bad mood (for me). I can be contemplating the general rottenness of mankind after reading the daily news and be ready to take the place of Divine Avenger, and listen to some bluegrass music, and (for a while anyway) all is right with the world.

I am perplexed as to why this is. The lyrics to some of my favorite bluegrass songs are just plain tragic - I mean listen to Hank Williams music, drink yourself silly, and step out in front of a bus tragic - but somehow the overall effect is (to me) instead positive. This simply doesn't make sense to me. Other people would say that the twanginess of the singers ought to contribute to a general desire to leave this present life as quickly as possible, but it just doesn't work this way for me.

I have a couple of possible hypotheses as to why this is. One possibility is that there is something with the instrumentation or mode of the music that jangles the happy places in my psyche. Plato wrote about a discussion that Sophocles led regarding various modes of music. Perhaps he was on to something. This would explain why Pink Floyd's music (even some of their more upbeat, positive lyrical content) could take a good mood and throw me into a depressed tailspin. There is just something inherently joyful sounding about a mandolin and a banjo. There is something about the sound of a doghouse bass that resonates in my heart.

Another possibility is that I associate the music with a place that I love dearly - the Appalachian Mountains. (And I don't care how they say it where you come from! Around here we say it "Ap-puh-latch-an," and we are right so don't even try to convince me otherwise!) The mountains around Boone are the closest thing that I have found to Heaven on Earth and are the home to most of my fondest childhood memories. (We may be getting at something there.)

I must say, however, that there is another kind of music that really takes care of my soul. It isn't too surprising, though, that this form of music would have this effect, because the music of which I am speaking is hymns. Now, granted, I have seen people take a perfectly good hymn and kill it deader than a hammer. I'm not talking about that, but I can't tell you how many times I have taken an old hymnbook and flipped through the pages singing those songs to the Lord. I may cry. I may be encouraged. I may be strengthened. I may be emboldened. Whatever the emotional response, it is always the right one. Thank God for our hymn writers. I hope that it is a musical form that never ceases to grow and mature.

I think that it is sad that so many churches that are on fire and trying to seek God want to throw the hymns out. That is about as drastic as the destruction of some of the Christian architectural treasures during the Protestant Reformation. As I have grown older and seen different worship styles, I am beginning to discover that all of these forms can have life in them and shouldn’t be discarded as useless. I have experienced the presence of God in worship choruses, responsive reading, read prayers, hymns, liturgy, and a host of other practices throughout Christendom.

I think that a lot of people are going to be surprised when we all get to Heaven. There are going to be people there that we never expected to see, and we’ll do things that we never thought we would do. I look forward to experiencing that. How cool will it be to see the various traditions throughout the church melded together into a beautiful, unified body?! I can hardly wait!

The Search for Significance

I heard a pastor on Saturday saying that there is nothing sadder than seeing someone who is middle-aged who still can't figure out what they want to be when they grow up. I kind of wanted to smack him. (And he is probably one of my favorite pastors in the whole world.) It was like he was insinuating that there isn't any excuse for not knowing what you want to be or do.

I have been wrestling with that question for years and years and years. It isn't like I haven't been seeking God to figure out what I'm supposed to do. I have begged God many times to show me what I was supposed to become, but have never been given a clear-cut direction. At times I thought my destiny was ministry - maybe even world missions - but every attempt to follow that path has brought me up short. At (almost) 35 years old, the runway isn't as long as it used to be, and I'd really love to be doing the thing that I was created to do.

I guess it all comes down to a question of significance. When I leave this world I want to be able to say that I have made an impact. It is hard to see any impact or any prospect of one when it seems like I am constantly starting over from zero every 5 years or so. Yeah, you build up a good bit of wisdom through all of the experiences, but how do you make an impact?

I look at Ronald Reagan and think of how he transformed this world and wonder if I will ever be able to make that kind of a difference. Then again, whose measuring stick am I using? Does my definition of significance match God's? All I can hope for is that somehow He is going to get me from point A to point B and somehow get me to accomplish everything that He has planned for me to do in the process. God help me!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Happy Fathers' Day

On Fathers' Day I just want to pay tribute to my dad. It is so easy to take parents for granted. They are always there, they are always the same, and so it is easy to get accustomed to the way that they are. I never really realized how good I had it until I went away to college. There I met so many people who came from broken homes or came from homes where the father (or mother) weren't the most supportive of their children. I actually had one fraternity brother whose parents threw him out of the house because he believed in speaking in tongues. Unbelievable.

My father is a good man who loves Jesus Christ very much and has done his best to train me to follow the Lord. I'm glad that he was successful in that pursuit! He has also taught me so much more than that. He has taught me about integrity and about what it means to be a good employee. I'd have to say that most of my business ethics I developed as a direct result of watching and learning from him. He has taught me about hard work and diligence and responsibility. There were lots of times that it would have been easier for him to check out when I was growing up, but he stayed put.

Over the past year and a half I have had the honor of working with my dad in his business. I have heard so many horror stories about that kind of arrangement, but I have to say that our partnership has been wonderful. Of course we rub each other the wrong way sometimes - mostly over failure to communicate well with each other - but the love and respect that we have for each other always seems to overcome that.

One of the neat things that I have been able to learn about my dad while working with him is that he has a "steel" side. I never saw so much of that growing up, because most of the time he was very gentle with my siblings and me, but I have absolutely no doubt that this man has a spine! Seeing this trait in him has helped me to strengthen my own.

I appreciate my dad for not being afraid to discipline me in love too. I don't care what the psychologists say out there; physical discipline is indispensable in character development. He is also not afraid to correct me when I'm wrong even now. Granted, I am hardly EVER wrong! ;-)

One lesson that I'll never forget regarded fidelity. My dad was in a discussion with someone about a marriage that had broken up and the question of fidelity came up. The other person commented that one could hardly blame the husband if he had been unfaithful due to some of the personality flaws in the wife. My dad instantly (and forcefully) said, "There is never an excuse for infidelity." I'll never forget that.

It is a lesson that he has lived out for nearly 40 years, and I really appreciate that too. When I see how many people don't have parents that have stayed married it makes me really appreciate my parents for working through the rough spots. It helps me to have faith that marriage can still work.

So here’s to my dad for all the many things that he has done for me and for the many lessons that he has taught me. I’m so very grateful to have you for my father and for my friend.

Friday, June 18, 2004

I Am Just So Incredibly Angry

It is like a mosquito that flies around your head all night long...

That's the way these terrorists are. They never really manage to do anything to defeat you; they just wear at you until you are ready to kill everyone over there. They like to pretend that they are brave warriors doing the will of allah (Mind you, allah is NOT God and never will be.) but the cowards chant their idiotic propaganda from behind a balaclava just before sawing off the head of another unarmed, bound, blindfolded American. Where is the courage in that? If you are so brave, take the masks off! Show the world who you are. Then, if you are arrested and executed for your crime (What are the chances of that in the Middle East?), you can really be a martyr. Hey, without the mask you could even hurry it along and get to your "virgins" faster. If you are so courageous, untie the man's hands and give him a weapon too!

I don't care what ANYONE says, Islam is an evil religion straight from satan's bottom. There is NOTHING peaceful about it and there is NOTHING good about it. It is a religion that has taken the people that are under its dominion and returned them to the dark ages.

Islam is a religion of death. Seriously! Do you see any Christians or Jews (or for that matter atheists) strapping a bunch of C-4 to their bodies and hopping onto a crowded school bus to detonate it? When was the last time you heard about a convention for Christian or Jewish suicide bombers? It will never happen! However, last week Iran hosted one for muslims.

Is there any morality in them? Give me a break! Most (if not all) of the 9/11 terrorists spent their last night on this earth with strippers and prostitutes. Is there any holiness in that? Where is the goodness in that? Why would anyone think that a just God would overlook an evil lifestyle just because of the way that he chose to commit suicide?

The really sad thing is this: these idiots are going to go to their deaths thinking that they have done a good thing only to come face to face with the REAL GOD of the universe and realize that He is VERY VERY unhappy with what they have been doing. It will be too late then.

You know, God doesn't take any delight in the deaths of the wicked. That is hard for me to fathom. I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I know that God has a much better perspective than I do on things. He must realize just how awful the eternal punishment is going to be.

That's the crazy part! God Himself endured life as a mortal and took our punishment in the most incredibly painful way imaginable because He loves us! I can't even comprehend that. Why? Why would He do that for me or for anyone else? Why would He do that to Himself? There must be depths of love that I have never plumbed.

The good news is that God actually likes us. He loves us - even those who would decapitate a man in the name of god and those of us who would hate them for doing it. My, my, my.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Sleep Deprivation: The New Martini

For some reason I've had difficulty sleeping over the past few nights. I really can't say why. I'm mostly comfortable but it has been taking me over an hour to fall asleep all week, and if I slept last night, I couldn't prove it. I saw every hour pass from 12-4. At a quarter to five I had had enough of the nonsense and decided I might as well get up or I would be more or less useless for the entire day.

One neat side effect to my insomnia is that I have discovered that sleep deprivation has roughly the same effect on me as a couple of stiff drinks, with an added twist that I will discuss in just a moment. Granted, I am having to go from memory on most of this. I have never been a big drinker.

Like many people, I got drunk a couple of times as a Freshman in college, but pretty well decided that drunkenness wasn't something that I enjoyed enough to continue. Back when I used to drink more, I only enjoyed being drunk for about 15-30 minutes and then I was ready to be sober again. The only problem was that I was still drunk. I found this very negative effect to be sufficient reason to help me to curtail my consumption of alcoholic beverages - at least until I was of legal age. While I still have an occasional drink, I never push it past the "loose in the hips" stage of intoxication. Thus my liver and brain cells have been granted a reprieve and are very grateful to me.

Generally speaking, a drunk falls into one of a few categories (in addition to falling down on the ground):

1) Your Friendly Drunk
2) Your Mean Drunk
3) Your Mellow Drunk
4) Your Talkative Drunk
5) Your Sleepy Drunk
6) Your Sad Drunk
7) Your Fun Drunk

Now it is pretty unusual for a drunk to cross the lines into more than one of these groups, but I have found that sleep deprivation allows me to enjoy all of these alter egos simultaneously.

Another neat similarity that I have noticed between sleep deprivation and inebriation is the fact that you really shouldn't be operating power tools or heavy equipment. You are definitely not the most stable nor are you very capable of coherent thought... at least not anything that involves things more complicated than monosyllabic musings. You can absolutely forget multitasking! When I'm extremely tired any question more involved than "What is your name?" is enough to set me pondering what the inquisitor's definition of the word "is" is.

The final similarity between getting schknockered and staying up all night is you get this cool sense of euphoria. It is like you are on this different plane. I am sure this is why people think that they drive better drunk. You feel kind of indestructible - at least until some dingle berry pulls out in front of you in traffic making you go through stages 2 and 4 at something approaching the speed of sound (using lots of very short words with some hand gestures thrown in for good measure). Problem is, when you're in that state, the fine tune controls for motor movement are totally shot and you end up wrapped around a telephone pole, at which point, if you are still alive, you go straight to drunk personality #6.

I just thought of one more similarity between sleep deprivation and inebriation: the cure - SLEEP! Here’s wishing you (and especially me) 8 hours of good solid REM! Cheers!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hard to See Through All This Smoke...

"What is truth?" Pontius Pilate's words seem to echo loud this evening. Truth is a commodity that is very scarce in the public forum anymore. I look at the mainstream media, and it is full of Os blatantly trying to influence America to turn away from support of President Bush and away from the mores that have defined America for over 200 years.

According to them, President Bush's days in the White House are numbered because against all reason John Kerry's support is surging. (Never mind that article yesterday about the VERY unscientific nature of some of these polls that are being reported as "fact" by various media outlets around the country.) What is even scarier is that it is difficult to get a clear picture of what is going on in America's psyche even from conservative news outlets like Newsmax or the Drudge Report. I find myself questioning just how divided America is, despairing that we have fallen too far.

It's in moments like this that I miss President Reagan's optimism and gift of communication. I know that President Bush believes that the future is bright, but I miss the way that President Reagan communicated that to us. I hope that the President will learn from his example and bring that message of hope to the forefront of his message in the closing months of this election.

Anyway, that is neither here nor there for the purposes of this discussion. I am curious whether there still exists a corporate American identity. It is so hard to tell for all of the smoke out there. For me (I was born a patriot) it is fairly easy to identify what America is supposed to be all about. America represents freedom; not license. (There is a huge difference. Freedom knows where the boundaries of one individual’s freedom end and another’s begin. License cares about nothing but its own satisfaction.) It is about mercy in strength and honor in victory.

It was built upon the very outspoken faith of dozens of men and women throughout our history. These individuals knew that the only sure foundation for our country’s success was the Word of God. Here's the amazing paradox, though. That faith was not threatened by other faiths (or even lack thereof.) We actually granted American citizens the right to worship any way that they saw fit (within reason.)

America is brave and willing to fight for her freedoms and for the freedoms of others. We are about free enterprise and allowing an individual the right to reap the benefits of hard work. Americans are creative and hard working. We believe in justice and fairness even for the guilty. These traits have drawn people from the ends of the earth and have made us the greatest nation on the earth.

Reading the daily headlines, it is very difficult for even an optimistic idealist like me to believe that we haven’t departed from this identity. Life is very different today than it was when I was a kid back in the 70s – VERY DIFFERENT. Regardless, there is a hope inside of me that throughout this country there is a (currently) silent mass of people that are eventually going to stand up and say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”

I think that the coming election will show us more clearly where we are on the whole continuum. If President Bush wins in a landslide, my faith will be somewhat restored. I certainly hope that I will get that clear an indication of where we are as a people. I just hope that it isn’t a massive tilt in the other direction. What do you do then? I don’t think that I can survive another Clintonesque era. The very thought of it makes a Mexican prison sound pleasant.

It seems evident to me that America is headed for a showdown as surely as we were in the 50 years leading up to the Civil War. There are two distinct elements in our society, and they are quickly coming to a head. My hope is that we will not abandon our heritage and the God that has defended us for the past 228 years.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Safe, for now, I think...

Today the Supreme Court dismissed the case brought by the California (where else?) atheist who wanted to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. While I am glad that 8 justices decided to dismiss the case, I wish that they had not left us open for the sequel at some point in the future.

Apparently, the issue that brought about the dismissal had more to do with the plaintiff's parental standing than it did with the phrase's appropriateness in the pledge.

The court said atheist Michael New-dow could not sue to ban the pledge from his daughter's school and others because he did not have legal authority to speak for her.
New-dow is in a protracted custody fight with the girl's mother. He does not have sufficient custody of the child to qualify as her legal representative, the court said

It is notable that 3 of the justices consider the Pledge constitutional as it stands right now.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist agreed with the outcome of the case, but still wrote separately to say that the Pledge as recited by schoolchildren does not violate the Constitution. Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

I find it interesting that there are at least 5 other justices who weren't willing to go that far. It seems to me that this silence will leave the door open for others to try to have the words removed.

The good news for now is that the Supreme Court overturned the space cadets from California who ruled the pledge unconstitutional in the first place.
The high court's lengthy opinion overturns a ruling two years ago that the teacher-led pledge was unconstitutional in public schools. That appeals court decision set off a national uproar and would have stripped the reference to God from the version of the pledge said by about 9.6 million schoolchildren in California and other western states.

I wonder how many of the Democrats who roared in disbelief and outrage that the Pledge of Allegiance was declared unconstitutional will remember that outrage if it happens again at a time when the nation is not in the patriotic fervor that existed when the California ruling was made. It would have been political suicide for them to agree with the ruling at that time.

I for one am glad that "under God" is still in our Pledge. It absolutely belongs there. It is God who has protected our country since its founding. Still it is evident that the Os are out there chipping away at the foundations. They have won major judicial victories with the recent lower court decisions regarding homosexual marriage (an oxymoron if ever there were one.) I pray that the Supreme Court will have the wisdom and the balls to protect the institution of marriage when these decisions are challenged in their forum. God help us.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I Wish They Would Boycott All 50

"Skin me if you like, Br'er Fox, but whatever you do PLEEEEASE don't throw me into that briar patch!"

Gay activists are urging a boycott of Virginia because of a new ban on civil unions and other marriage-like arrangements for same-sex couples.

The state's Affirmation of Marriage Act (search), which prohibits gay marriage, was amended this year to also ban civil unions and arrangements "purporting to bestow the privileges of marriage."

I surely hope that the Commonwealth of Virginia sticks to its guns. Maybe the other 50 states will pass similar bills and they can all be boycotted too.

Is it just me, or is anyone else sick and tired of being pushed around by a handful of moral reprobates? I'm not just talking about homosexuals here either. I'm talking about homosexuals, abortionists, euthanists, revisionists, etc. I am absolutely sick of being controlled by a very vocal minority who is doing everything in their power to destroy the very foundations on which this country was founded.

These people kick up a lot of dust and the media always obliges them, promoting their unrest, making it look as if every thinking, rational person believes what these people do. If anyone ever does resist them, they are painted as being ignorant hicks or religious zealots.

If these degenerates had the public support that they purport to have, they wouldn't need to manipulate the judiciary to legislate their version of morality. Proverbs nailed it pretty well when it said "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." I, for one, am ready to start defending this house and giving the fool his (or her) due. (Pr 26:3)

The boycott Web site also targets companies that have contributed Marshall's (the bill's sponsor, Republican delegate Robert Marshall) campaign, including Altria Group Inc., parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris.

The funny thing is that some of the very companies that they are targeting are gay friendly. Keep tearing at those pillars, honey. They're about to come down on your own head.

Long Live The King

Usually with the passing of a famous person I can get the essence of what that individual accomplished from 3 or 4 articles. Not so with President Ronald Reagan. The number of articles and the amount of information about President Reagan this week have been staggering. Just keeping up with the photographs and coverage of the ceremonies has taken an incredible amount of time. Even now that he is buried and the official tributes are over, the outpouring from the hearts of those who loved the President continues.

Over the course of this week I have heard various people criticizing the extravagance of a week of mourning for the President. By any account both the response to the President's death and the amount of activity surrounding the event have been overwhelming: lying in repose in his California library, followed by the funeral procession to the Capitol building, then lying in state in the Capitol, followed by the state funeral and concluded with the private funeral. Many are criticizing this response as somehow inappropriate.

I beg to differ with this assessment. The ceremony was entirely fitting, considering the greatness of his life, and I believe that we will see that a week of mourning for President Reagan will not nearly be enough.

There is certainly precedent for extended periods of national mourning. Jacob, the patriarch of the nation Israel, was mourned by his descendants and the Egyptians for an amazing 77 days. Moses was mourned for 30 days and, depending on the account, President Lincoln was mourned from 20 to 24 days.

I am not suggesting that there should be more ceremony surrounding the President’s passing. I am sure that everyone is ready for all of the public ceremonies to come to an end. There is something exhausting and overwhelming about the scale of what is happening. However, the private mourning for this great leader will continue. It really says something about the man. Hundreds of thousands of people are mourning his passing as if he were a close relative. That in and of itself is an amazing tribute. It is astounding that so many people could love someone that they never met so dearly.

I think that outpouring is a direct result of the realness of President Reagan. There was never the feeling that he was pretending to be something that he wasn't. Numerous articles and interviews that I have seen indicate that he was the same in private that he was in public, and I believe that people pick up on that. President Reagan was also very down to earth and approachable. He was like a member of the family.

I must admit, that I have felt the grief of his loss very deeply, and, to a point, it doesn't seem logical. I never personally knew him. In fact, I never even had the pleasure of meeting him. I suppose that in a way he represented a very happy era in my life - a time that it was easy to be proud to be an American. It was an era where America was safe from her enemies, largely because he was at the helm. But I am sad too, because an icon of what it means to be an American has departed. He was a man of great vision driven by principle. He was a man of compassion. He was a man of humor. He was a man of strength. He was a man of faith. And he was a man of kindness.

I hope that when he is finally gone, President George W. Bush will be similarly honored. I hope that time will have proven by then that he is right. He has within him so much of the strength of character that made President Reagan great. My greatest hope is that our country will continue to produce men like Presidents Reagan and Bush. The world will be a much better place if it does. God bless Ronald Reagan and bring comfort to all of us who are sad to see him go.

Friday, June 11, 2004

So much material...

I feel like a mosquito that has tapped in to a major artery. I am having a hard time deciding what to write about this evening. So much has been in the news over the past couple of days that it is hard to decide where to start. In fact, there is really just too much for me to try to do this justice tonight.

Let's consider some of the headlines from the past few days:

President Reagan's State Funeral Today

Political Cartoonist (I use the term loosely) Goes on Anti-Reagan Tirade

6-Year-Old Boy Saves Drowning Playmate Only to Imperil His Own Life

Paris Decides That the Real Enemy is SUVs

Two-Faced Kerry Calls the Reagan Years "Moral Darkness" at the 1988 Democratic Convention

Iran Convenes A World Conference for Suicide Bomber Candidates

Cuba Attacks Reagan's Legacy and then Retracts Its Attack

NY Teacher Gets Suspended for Washing Out Mouth of Profane Student

And the biggest shocker yet: UN Says Saddam Shipped WMD Off to Other Countries Prior to and During the Gulf War

This is enough material for me to write on for a week! Since it has been a long day, I'm going to spare you sub-par writing tonight. I'm going to get some rest and come back and tackle this properly tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Can Someone Get Clinton a Kleenex?

Breaking news!

According to Matt Drudge , Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have been excluded from the speaker list at President Reagan's funeral. According to him,

Former President Bill Clinton has privately expressed anger he has apparently been left off the speakers list of Friday's Reagan State Funeral

He's angry and disappointed neither he nor President Carter have been asked to speak, as of yet.

The top source says Clinton has been critical that both Bush presidents will address the crowd gathered at National Cathedral.

Can someone look around and see if they can find the ex-president a Kleenex and a ladder so MAYBE HE CAN GET OVER IT?!!

All I have to say is, "THANK GOD!

The absolute last thing that I want to see when I watch President Reagan's funeral is that "man" sitting there spouting lies about how much he respected President Reagan and his policies etc, while looking sad and biting his lower lip. I am sure that he would have used the event to say something inappropriate too.

I am absolutely sick of ex-president Clinton taking advantage of America to stroke his hemispheric ego. He did it for eight VERY LONG years and I, for one, would rather not see his face again until some future Republican President is delivering a very short eulogy over him (short, because ex-president Clinton never accomplished one thing for America in 8 long years). Sadly, I'll still probably end up having to endure visions of the lip-biter regardless of whether I am spared to hear him run his whiny little mouth.

Drudge's report goes on to say,

Clinton's inner circle is convinced Nancy Reagan has personally shut out Clinton from any high-profile participation.

Well that would hardly be a shock. Good for her (and us)! Nancy was always good at smelling a rat. This one comes with his own cheese.

Apparently Billy whined,

President Clinton really held out all hope the funeral would be a nonpartisan event
Give me a freaking break! Any time a Democrat doesn't get his way he whines, "Partisanship! Partisanship!" Of course I'd love for them to explain to me what they would call their stonewalling on the confirmation President Bush's judicial appointees. Sometimes it just makes me want to lock and load!

It is the height of selfishness, over-indulged ego, and backwoods tackiness to pitch a fit over not being invited to speak at President Reagan's funeral like a spoiled child. Some of the President's dearest friends weren't invited to speak either, but oddly enough, they aren't throwing temper tantrums.

Funny thing about funerals, outsiders don't usually get a say in the way they are put together. That is the job of family and friends. I dare say Clinton was never a friend - at least not the type of friend that you trust to hold your ice cream cone. Billy Boy should have been President Reagan's dearest friend, though. It was President Reagan's economic policy that generated the wave of prosperity that Clinton rode into the ground after 8 years.

Funny how President Bush has already gotten the horse turned back around in the right direction. The economy has grown under his watch even faster than it did under President Reagan. I guess "Ronnie" taught "Dubya" well.

I'm sure it is going to gall me to have to see ol' Backwoods Bill at the funeral. Maybe he won't scratch and spit. It's a good thing that I'm not President. I'd give him a reason to be mad: I'd bar him from the ceremony.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Navy is Off the Hook

I got some information on my friend Kevin. Remember that he was the fellow that hadn’t gotten his room and board situation squared away and his family was concerned that they were going to have to miss a rent payment. Well, I got some good news today. The Navy got him situated and everything has been taken care of. Thanks for your prayers and concern. Kevin has shipped out to 29 Palms in California and will be training for deployment in August. I’ll try to remember to post mailing information for him here tomorrow.

Well SOMEBODY's Gouging!

Have you ever noticed that when there is a news article about the price of oil going up or if there is a fresh outbreak of middle eastern violence that within 30 minutes the price of gasoline goes up? I mean the guys are out there changing the signs with the little suction cup things! If you ask them why the prices are going up they always reply along the lines of the headlines that you just read not an hour earlier.

Have you also ever noticed conversely that when the news is the opposite, for instance, as it was last week - that OPEC is going to be producing 8% more oil than its current quota - the price doesn't move for weeks or months - until the next tightening of supplies?!

I dare someone to prove to me that someone along the way isn't stoking up the prices. I absolutely defy someone to prove it. I sincerely believe that it cannot be done.

I offer for proof a trip that I took last night to the armpit of North Carolina - Durham. Here where I live, the lowest price that I have seen for regular unleaded gasoline is $1.89. I have seen it as high as $1.95 locally. Last night, as I was driving through the Mebane area (you'll need two hands, a map, and a flashlight to find that one) I saw four gas stations selling gasoline for $1.79. That is 10-16 cents cheaper per gallon not 80 miles away from where I live! We're not talking about another state; we're talking about 4 counties away! Someone is gouging prices. PERIOD. And we're not talking about some towel head over in the Middle East either. Some scum-sucking-son-of-a-so-and-so is taking advantage of his neighbors by selling a necessary commodity at a higher rate of return than is customary.

When confronted by newspapers and other news media you always hear the same sad story, "We're not gouging! We're barely breaking even on our gas sales." Baloney! Now, I guess it is remotely possible that the individual stations are not the guilty ones, but I dare say that it doesn't go far back up the chain. The next likely perps are the distributors. Whoever is responsible needs to quit it.

I know, I know, someone is out there saying, it's just 10 cents a gallon. It's a free market! It's the capitalist way! Well that's fine if you are talking about coloring books, Thighmasters, or Mexican jumping beans, but we are talking about gasoline. America doesn't have widespread access to acceptable public transportation. We depend on our cars, and our cars depend on gasoline. If you are unfortunate enough to live in one of the areas where the gougers are, (kind of reminds me of that children's book Where the Wild Things Are) you are pretty well out of luck.

And for any of you in the "it's only a dollar more per fill up" crew, if I had two gas dispensers side by side and one charged you $1.90 per gallon and another charged you $2.00 per gallon which one are you going to choose? If you say $2.00, you are not very smart.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The King is Dead

President Ronald Reagan passed away today after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93.

I remember when President Reagan Defeated Jimmy Carter for the presidency back in 1980. I was in 6th Grade. At the time, I had no idea of the difference between conservatism and liberalism. It was the middle of the Cold War. Inflation was rampant, as was unemployment. Iran had kicked out its ruler the Shah and ushered in one of the first Islamic regimes. We were subjected to images of American flags being burned in the streets by crowds of wild Arabs and to images of the 66 Americans that were taken hostage when the Muslim extremists stormed the American embassy. An American rescue attempt failed with all of the troops who were involved being killed. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan.

The greatest concern of the smarter kids in my class was that President Reagan was going to get us into a nuclear war. We were only spouting what we had heard in the news and in the political ads that were being played at the time. It was all Left-Wing hype, but we were too young to know.

Then Ronald Reagan took office. He said what was on his mind. He did what he believed was best for America. And he fulfilled everything he promised to do. America shook off the shame of the withdrawal from Vietnam, the Nixon debacle, and the Carter years, and began to assert itself once again as the leader of the world. The economy made an about face and began booming (a boom that President Clinton later rode to his benefit). Taxes were cut. The list goes on and on.

I am so very glad that I was alive to live through the Reagan years. Within 4 years, I had come to realize that Government is supposed to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people," that it wasn't supposed to exist for its own sake. I bought in to the Reagan Doctrine - a plan that said the best deterrent to external attack is a strong defense and the idea that the government should only be big enough to do what it needed to do. By the time that I graduated from high school, I was a dyed in the wool conservative Republican - all because of President Reagan.

I always loved the way that he just seemed to be himself. He would joke around sometimes, and other times he was dead serious. He was real - alot like President Bush is today.

I remember when the Iran-Contra scandal broke. I was disappointed, and tempted to become jaded, but was so proud of Colonel North's testimony before the Congress. Still, that incident put a bit of a damper on my opinion of the President, and that made me sad.

That opinion didn't change until I read Peggy Noonan's book When Character Was King. I found my respect for the President was not only restored, but actually increased. If you haven't read the book you should; it is wonderful.

It was so sad when we found out the President had Alzheimer's disease. It is such a horrible disease and steals so much that people shouldn't have to lose in their waning years. I am glad that President Reagan was honored by America before he died. Flowers don't do much for you when you're dead.

President Reagan reminded me a bit of my mother's father, who passed away almost 2 years ago. They were both very pleasant people with big hearts. They even looked a little bit like each other.

So, with the news of President Reagan's death today, I am a bit melancholy. On the one hand, I am glad that his suffering is past, but on the other I feel like I have lost my grandfather all over again. I wish that I'd had the opportunity to meet President Reagan
when he was at his best. I guess the good news is that one day I'll get to.

Lucky Mud

I am often humbled by the heroics of those who have gone before me. When I read about the soldiers on both sides of the Mason Dixon line who marched across open fields into artillery and entrenched infantry to their certain deaths the magnitude of their bravery goes so far beyond my own comprehension. The same goes for those heroes who stormed Normandy 60 years ago.

Yesterday Peggy Noonan wrote the following words:

Television will be full of reports this weekend of the festivities surrounding the 60th anniversary of D-Day. This has me thinking of why we still talk about the invasion, why television news producers are certain we are interested, and why the programmers of movie channels believe we will want to see "The Longest Day" again, and "Saving Private Ryan."

The Normandy invasion was a great moment in history (brave men joining together to do the right thing) and a definitive moment (the Nazi hold on Europe was loosed; in less than a year Berlin would fall). These are reasons enough.

But there is this, too: We are human and love stories that show humanity as brave and selfless. It exalts us. We need to be exalted. It is hard to get up in the morning and pull on your socks and enter the day. It is hard to be a bus driver. But it is easier when you can think better of your passengers.

When you think man isn't much, when you think human beings are pretty low as beings go, it leaches love from you. It leaches love from your soul when you think we're all nothing much, we're dust in the wind, it's dog eat dog. When you can see us as more than that, it helps you enter each day. It helps you live. We think about D-Day, and Harry the King at Agincourt, and George Meade at Gettysburg, to help us live.

It is amazing that such fallen creatures are capable of anything good. Many who conquered at Omaha Beach were not Christian, just as many who fell there were; yet it is amazing to me that somehow that spark of the Divine that has been placed within us is never completely extinguished until we expire. (Now I’d have to admit that some people do a pretty good job of smothering it, though!)

I guess what I am getting at is “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4) I am staggered by the goodness of God. If only everyone could see this truth about Him. It would be a much better place if those that hated Him would simply give in to His love. (They'd end up in a much better place too!)

It Ain't Right

Greetings all!

A good friend of mine who is in the Navy Reserve was recently activated for service in Iraq. He is a Chaplain Aide and will be working with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines. He will be looking after the spiritual well being of our troops over in Iraq. Kevin is leaving a wife and 4 kids at home.

The other day I got an email describing a situation that my friend's family is facing:

Let's just say, that the Reserve Center in Houston, is NOT cooperating, financially! We just had to pay for his hotel room, AND his food, for the past 3+ weeks! It just put us WAY in the hole! And we're NOT sure if they're going to reimburse him! He's disgusted today, and ready to come home! LOL! (like he could do that!!!:)

Please pray that everything gets straightened out, TODAY, and that they DO reimburse him........if they don't, our rent won't get paid this month!

This is staggering to me on a couple of fronts. First of all, I am amazed that the Navy has called him up but not provided for his room and board. Hopefully, this has already been taken care of and is in the process of being rectified by the military, but I will be tracking this situation and reporting on it here.

On the other hand, I am amazed at the way this family is making such a huge sacrifice for this country and for the Kingdom of God. This is such a foreign concept in America anymore. There are few that are willing to make this kind of sacrifice. Every day we hear reports of the people who have no concept that we are at war. We see the media elite who thumb their noses at these sacrificers while taking advantage of the prosperity that their sacrifices are making possible. Sacrifices that are being made by people who sometimes have to go on food stamps to make ends meet.

Folks, I know it has almost become cliché to say that we need to honor those who are serving our country, but the next time you see someone in uniform, try to remember that many of them are:

with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, mutually pledging to each other their Lives, Fortunes and sacred Honor.

God bless them all.

I ain't blowin' kissies...

So, a little explanation about the title of this blog...

Basically the Xs and Os are like the ones used by a football coach to diagram a play. It's "us" against "them." Are we the Xs or the Os? I don't guess it really matters so much, but I would tend to put the Os on "them." I like to think of "them" as a bunch of zeros, losers, idiots, etc., thus a big-fat goose egg seems to be the appropriate moniker for "them."

So, who are "they?" "They" are the people who deny the truth about America: that it was a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles. "They" are the people who think that the murder of the unborn is an acceptable practice that should be sanctioned by our government. "They" are the people who want to pretend that if we just ignore our enemies that they will simply go away. "They" are the people who systematically seek to undermine all of the foundational pillars that prop up this country and have made it great. "They" are the ones who want to re-define God in their own image, to force private organizations like the Boy Scouts to accept their perverse views of morality, to disarm American citizens - and even the government, to tax the wealthy, to support the lazy, and to create an ever-burgeoning, socialistic, bureaucratic state. Worst of all, "they" are the ones who want to force "us" to do things their way while screaming bloody murder if we try to do the same to "them." In short, "they" are "no" people: no wisdom, no vision, no common sense, no morals, no knowledge. The scariest part of all is that "they" think that they are wise, intelligent, kind, and wonderful people who know alot more than the rest of us.

On the other hand, those in the "us" crowd have a pretty firm grip on reality. We know where our country has come from, and we are all too afraid of where we will end up if "they" have their way. We love America and what she stands for (or at least what she is supposed to stand for.) We support the troops. We like smaller government. We think that if you are able to work and you don't you shouldn't eat. We think that it is discriminatory to favor or penalize someone because of the color of their skin.

OK, I realize that these definitions really don't work 100% of the time. It is entirely likely that we won't agree on everything across the board, and that's OK. That's what America is about. We're a free society, and everyone is entitled to his opinion - even if that individual isn't mentally competent enough to chew gum and breathe at the same time.

What I would hope for is that even in disagreement, intelligent dialog could take place. I have only had a couple intelligent discussions with folks who leaned left of me (it is pretty hard to find someone from the left that can have an intelligent conversation), but I found them to be interesting conversations. I guess my point is that is remotely possible that it can happen.

So, with that said, expect a right leaning perspective from me, and if you keep it polite, so will I.

Friday, June 04, 2004

EEK! Another one!

The Blogsphere has been described as a dung heap. While I am sure that in many instances that must be true, I would liken it more to a compost heap. You get all kinds of interesting (OK, it would only be interesting if your idea of a good time is cleaning out college students' refrigerators) stuff in a compost heap. Over here you get a little overripe vegetable material, some dirt over there, some icebox science project to provide active cultures, fresh grass cuttings, Fido's - er - leftovers, all mixed together into a big festering heap. An environment like that can generate some pretty impressive new life forms... especially in a place like Discworld. Unfortunately, our planet doesn't usually create anything new and interesting out of cesspools and compost heaps... in spite of what "they" regularly tell us.

"In the days before the dawn of time the face of the earth was dark (except for the explosive volcanic eruptions that shook the earth and sent glowing streams of lava skulking along until they sizzled into the primordial sludge giving off great plumes of rancid, sulfurous steam). Lightning flashed across the sky and an immense bolt struck the surface of the deep, and lo, out of the sludge a simple virus burst into existence. Blah, blah, blah... and here we are"

So why would I, like some otherworldly evolutionary experiment decide to emerge into the blogworld? I don't really know; I guess I'll just do it for the money. (I thought that sounded better than admitting that I really don't have a life outside of work and that other bloggers seemed to be having so much fun.)

Anyway, this will give me the opportunity to run my, um, fingers, about whatever is on my mind on any given day. I can even pretend that it is important since it is on the internet. Ain't technology grand?!