Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rosie & Illegal Aliens

I do not know who makes me want to puke more: Rosie O'Donnell or the Mexican illegal immigrants demanding their rights. I have tried to avoid expressing my opinion on these two publicly mainly because I feel like I do not have all the facts required to form an intelligent opinion. I still do not have all the facts and one still may not think my opinion is intelligent but I cannot be quiet any more. As outspoken as these two are, I have to speak back.

I thank God that I live in a country where we can speak our mind. I realize that not all peoples have this right and it makes me proud to be an American and yet, as with any right, there comes responsibility. Without responsibility, rights are abused. The first amendment to our Constitution guarantees free speach but common sense has to be used in civilized society. The old adage about shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater is an example. There are a number of factors to consider with free speach including context, audience, and credibility and it adds up to a right that can easily be abused especially in this day where common sense has been thrown out the window to make room for political correctness.

Let me start with Miss Rosie O'Donnell and I first have to say that I sincerely appreciate what Rosie does with her charity work that usually involves kids. Since 1997, Rosie's For All Kids Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in Early Childhood Care and Education program grants to over 900 nonprofit organizations that provide important opportunities for thousands of America’s kids in need. That is really incredible and I will gladly give her a hand for that. I wish more people cared about kids that much. She is also a multi award-winning talk show host and overall entrepreneur with magazine, television, and movie work all under her rather large belt. You might remember her from some of these favorites:
Oh, there are some classics in there! In fact, it is somewhat of a tradition at our house around Christmas to break out our well-worn copy of "Car 54, Where Are You?" and spend some quality time. Nothing says "family fun" like overweight lesbians in B-Movies!

Okay, okay, I"ll stop! But I just cannot take it anymore! First, Rosie, who also has stand-up comedy experience, is the least funny person on the planet. Second, even with all that camera time, she is still a poor actress and performer. Third, she is hideous to look at. She makes Pauly Shore look funny and Rush Limbaugh look attractive. AIDS-infected orphans in Africa feel sorry for her. Okay, I did not stop and maybe not all of that is fact but the sad part is that those things are not the real reason for the problems I have with Rosie. There are plenty of no-talent hacks in this world. The problem I have with Rosie is her mouth or, more specifically, the trash that comes out of it.

Let me let Rosie speak for herself. At different times, "The Queen of Nice" has said,
-"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America."
"Don't fear the terrorists. They’re mothers and fathers."
“This President invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN. He is basically a war criminal. Honestly. He should be tried at The Hague. This man lied to the American public about the reasons for invading a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. And as a Democrat, as a member of this democracy...I feel I have a responsibility to speak out, as does every other person who disagrees with this administration. And it’s scary in a country that you can say something against the President and then worry about your career. That Dan Rather gets taken off CBS News for writing, for saying a report that essentially was true, that George Bush did not show up-”
-"The NRA is buying votes with blood money!"
-"I am not the kind of actress who gets parts based on my physical appearance."

Well, she was right about one of them! I also agree with the right she has to let such idiocy come out of her mouth. The problem is that she has no common sense! She has no credibility and she obviously is in way over her oversized head in matters other than "Where's the best buffet?" Rosie, please keep your mouth shut on things about which you have no knowledge!

As much as I dislike Rosie and the words that she speaks, I have to admit that she, while being a sad commentary on what Americans consider entertainment, is considerably less of a threat to national security than our illegal immigration problem. Just so that we are crystal clear on this subject, the illegal immigration of which I infer is the crossing of the Mexico-U.S. border without the legal right that comes with citizenship with the intent to stay and work and/or raise a family. One understands that my definition is limited and purposefully so. One must also understand that my intent is never to offend anyone (okay, maybe Rosie) but I want to be very specific. The title "Mexican" is used for citizens of Mexico just as "American" is used for citizens of America. I do not feel obligated to use "North American". Hispanics come from Spain. Latinos are from Latin America. Is everybody offended now? I hope not. For the subject today, those will be the titles.

There are some things that I understand about this problem and there are some things that I do not understand. I understand the desire to want to better oneself and have a better job with higher wages and more opportunity. I understand wanting to get away from a corrupt government, wasteful spending, poverty and crime. The United States may not be anywhere close to perfect but it is still the greatest nation on the planet. Not only is our government less corrupt and less wasteful than Mexico's but we are a nation that has always encouraged diversity. We started out as a melting pot and will continue. The problem seems to be that some immigrants do not want to "melt".

The parts that I do not understand include the reasons why immigrants do not want to legally apply for citizenship and when they come into our country illegally they want to assume the rights of legal citizens. Surely I am missing something here! When you break the law, you forfeit rights. Remember? Without resposibility, rights are abused. When you abuse a right it is only fair that you lose that right. The very definition of an illegal alien implies a loss of rights. I am absolutely not against immigration. If a person makes the effort required to legally become a citizen then I will look forward to them being here. Understand, though, that rapists forfeit their rights are and are not allowed to be natural citizens. Bank robbers forfeit their rights. Drug sellers forfeit their rights. People who kill kittens will forfeit at least some of their rights and rightfully so. What I seem to be hearing from the Mexicans is that because there are so many of them that they should be exempt from having to immigrate legally.

I understand that part of the blame for this huge problem falls on the shoulders of the United States lawmakers who are more concerned about getting votes than doing the right thing. I understand that the Mexican presence is incredibly large and getting larger in America and that business owners can make more money by hiring lower wage-earning Mexicans who are undocumented. This is a problem that is actually hurting everyone involved and will, sooner or later, implode on itself as fewer people are paying taxes to subsidize an increasing number of recipients. Please, my Mexican friends, have some common sense and take some responsibility. Our country was built on it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lesson learned

Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people? Have you thought about why sometimes good people have bad things happen while awful people sometimes seem to breeze through life? Sure you have. We all have. I can tell you right now that I am not the guy with all the answers by a long shot but I learned something recently that gave me a little bit of insight into the matter. This will by no means explain everything and I make no claim as to the mind of God but I learned recently a valuable lesson that brought me a new realization of the omniscience of our Creator.

I went with six close church friends to New Orleans for a couple of days last week. We went to help do some work on a church that had been badly damaged by the hurricane but quickly realized that was not the main reason that we had been sent there. Our first day we worked on the church some but then got word that a church member and her husband needed our help as well. Their house had extensive water damage and needed to have the interior walls completely torn down. We were glad we could help but somewhat taken aback by the man of the house. This man, Bill, was not a member of the church like his wife but claimed to be an Atheist. He made several other claims that make me believe that Bill does not know what to believe.

After being at his house for just a few minutes, I knew we were in the right place. Bill was an older man, probably seventy pounds overweight, a chain smoker and a very loud, obnoxious man who seemed to want to scare off the "religious" guys by using at least one curse word in every sentence. He would not listen to anything anybody said about much of anything and made it clear that he did not want to hear about God or church. He said God killed his son and he was mad at God. Yes, the God that did not exist was a murderer! Bill said several times that it was his anger that kept him going and he was not going to give it up.

I have to admit that I looked at Bill as a target. I was bound and determined that I was going to tell Bill about Jesus even if I had to fight him! I knew the chances of me having another opportunity with him would be slim and so while most of the others kept working I got Bill in my sights and just went for it! I found Bill in the trailer in which they were staying in the front yard and went in to cram Jesus down his throat but I didn't get the chance.

My friend Scott had already found Bill and was sitting there talking about sports when I walked in the trailer. Bill was loudly telling Scott everything he knew about everything and and as soon as he paused to take a breath I tried to change the subject to more divine matters. The problem was that Bill just talked over me loudly and persistently. He said he was angry. He admitted that his anger was not necessarily directed at anything. He was just angry. He was mainly angry because his twenty-six year old son had died five years ago and as much as I tried to tell him that Jesus understood and cared for him and wanted to have a relationship with him, Bill just tuned me out frustrating both of us.

That was when Scott started telling Bill about his own son, Ryan, who had died about the same time that Bill lost his son. Ryan was in high school when cancer took his life and, as one can understand, tore a hole in Scott's very being. Bill listened as Scott went on to tell how it seemed unfair at the time that Ryan would be taken in the prime of his life when they all had such lofty goals for him. Bill, who had complained earlier that nobody understood his pain, loudly expressed his gratefulness that, finally, somebody understood! Finally, somebody could relate to him! I remember his words: "You understand! You understand!", he said, pointing his finger at Scott.

I knew right then that God was telling me to shut up and start praying. I sat there praying for both Scott and Bill as they "compared notes" on their sons' deaths and bonded through that in a way that I could never have known. Scott told Bill in a way that only God could lead that one of Scott's reasons for getting up in the morning is the fact that he knows that he will see Ryan again in Heaven one day. You could almost see that thought sinking in to Bill's mind and I could barely contain myself as I witnessed the Holy Spirit of our loving and forgiving God work on Bill's heart and mind.

We left Bill's trailer that day without Bill coming to have a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ but Scott left his card and the promise that we would all be praying for him. This was not an empty promise and I know for a fact that most all of us that were on that trip have been and will continue to be praying for Bill. I am burdened for Bill and cannot wait to hear back from New Orleans about him. If nothing else though I realized that, as the Bible says, the rain falls on the just and the unjust and that sometimes God allows us to go through hard times so that we can be that light in the darkness for which a blind world is desperately looking. Again, I do not have any claim to the mind of God but I appreciate the lesson He taught me through this.

How to save time and energy while deer hunting

Something I learned last week that will save you time, energy, money, and possibly a friendship.

Step 1) Ask your hunting buddy over to your house.
Step 2) Print out a copy of this picture of the woods.
Step 3) Both of you go stand in front of the open freezer door.
Step 4) Stand there staring intently at the picture for hours and hours.
Step 5) Slam freezer door, throw away picture and thank your buddy for coming over.

If I had done that last week I would have been better off!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Good idea Sen. Kennedy!

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, yesterday said his priority during the new Congressional session next year will be to require employers to boost the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, and to increase the minimum levels of service required to earn such a wage.

“In exchange for higher pay,” said Sen. Kennedy, D-MA, “my bill would require that minimum-wage workers increase their service to their employers and customers to some federally-mandated minimum levels.”

Although precise service standards are still under development, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions distributed the following working draft of proposed minimum service levels for the retail industry.

In retail establishments, to avoid a federal prison sentence, a minimum-wage worker shall…

– offer the customer a sincere, cheerful greeting, rather than a surly grunt, head jerk, or annoyed glance,
– hang up the cell phone immediately upon encountering the customer,
– look the customer in the eye, say “Thank You” and “You’re welcome”, instead of “Uh-huh”,
– enunciate consonants to help the customer distinguish individual words from the verbal flow,
– learn English well enough to comprehend customer questions, and intelligibly answer them,
– pull trousers up over hipbones and wear belt, suspenders or other garment securing device,
– conceal all employee undergarments from customer view,
– wear clean, pressed shirt, tucked in and buttoned up,
– find out what you sell, what it can do, how to use it and how to answer questions about it,
– remove extraneous metal objects that dangle from pierced lips, tongues and eyebrows,
– before shift, groom hair using comb or brush [Note: pillow is not a hair-grooming implement],
– secure hair, including purchased or rented hair, to prevent food contamination,
– cover tattoos rated PG-13 or higher,
– smoke behind the store, near the Dumpster, instead of by the front door,
– clean up and stock the restroom each time after using it,
– stop ogling the customer’s teenage children,
– scan products at least as fast as the customer places them on the conveyor belt,
– learn the physical properties and tolerance standards of plastic bags and avoid violating them,
– stop talking about when your shift is over.

...from Scrappleface

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving thanks

As I sit here stuffed full of Thanksgiving turkey and dressing and having some quiet time after family time, I have started thinking about for what I am truly thankful. There are alot of things on the list and I'm sure that most who read this would say similar things for which they are thankful. My family comes to mind first. My wife, kids, dogs and extended family are somewhere at the top of the list. (After this week, karaoke will never be the same!) As I sit in my living room surrounded by all my "stuff", I think about how God has blessed me with material things. We are not wealthy by some's standards but we, as most in the United States, lack for very little. God has also given me and all of my family good health and good friends. Most of our friends, but not all, come from our church and are something I do not take for granted. They are up high on my thankful list.

I have also been blessed to travel to some other countries. In trips to Mexico, Israel and Germany I have gotten the chance to see how differently some people live and what is interesting is how the amount of "stuff" one has is not in proportion to one's happiness. We all pray for God's blessings on our lives but what does that really mean? When we pray for God's blessings are we praying for"stuff"? I wonder what would happen if we prayed for contentment? That could be a dangerous prayer! That might result in losing some of our "stuff"! I say that because some of the most contented people I have ever met always had the least amount of "stuff". Some of the happiest people on the planet are living in houses made out of spare pallets with tin and tarps for roofs in the interior of Mexico. I cannot wait to go back to visit some friends in Reynosa. I learned so much from them about what it really means to be happy.

I hear what you are saying. "Money can't buy happiness but I'd like to try it for awhile!" I know what you mean and sometimes I feel the same way but if I were to be completely honest I know deep down that money and "stuff" can just get in the way of true happiness and contentment. So, am I saying that if you have money you can't be happy? Absolutely not. Nor is there anything wrong in any way with having money or even having alot of money. It is just not the source of one's happiness.

I remember being in Mexico and seeing the incredible poverty there and thinking to myself, "Why not me?". Why did God choose to put me in a time and place that I have everything that I have? Why was I not put in the condition of being utterly destitute as some have been? As you can imagine I do not have answers to those questions. What mortal man could have any claim to the sovereignty of God? The Bible says rightly that His ways are higher than our ways and I know I will not completely understand until I see Him in Heaven but I cannot help but wonder.

This has been a great Thanksgiving for me. Mama cooked another incredible feast and the karoake machine is smoking. Lots of football was watched and we even worked in the yard some. As I grow older, family becomes more and more important to me and I am very thankful today for all that I have but especially for the people around me. About a month from now I get to go with my daughter to Nicaragua on a mission trip and I am so excited. I am excited for several reasons but mainly so that she and I both can be reminded about what it means to be truly happy and contented, even joyful! I look forward to meeting some new friends and being able to share some of the material blessings that God has allowed us to have but also to be able to share the Good News about Jesus Christ! I expect it to be a great trip for all involved. Hmmm...I wonder if that might be at least part of the reason why God has put me here...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day

I was talking to the school vice-principal last night and he said something that was disturbing to me. He has been in school adminstration for twenty-five years and he said he has noticed in the last few years a serious increase in apathy among students and parents. It has been his experience that neither kids nor parents seem to care about much of anything including getting in trouble or having bad grades. While he did not say it in so many words, I feel like his outlook for the future is not as bright as it used to be. It is a sad commentary on this generation that the only things that concern us have to affect us directly and immediately with no thought for the future or for other people.

I thought about this sad state of affairs and, of course, wondered what could be done about it and also what separates this generation from what critics call "The Greatest Generation" of World War II era. As I researched this I came across a fascinating and hope-giving article about Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham. Corporal Dunham did not live in "The Greatest Generation" nor is he currently in any school history books. You can read his story here but to summarize Corporal Dunham sacrificed the greatest sacrifice in April of 2004 when he was attacked in Iraq with his patrol near the Syrian border. Corporal Dunham received this country's greatest honor, the Medal of Honor, postumously for his bravery and sacrifice and for saving the lives of many other Marines when he hurled himself on top of a hand grenade, using his helmet to try to blunt the force of the blast. He was killed with that last, unselfish act but many were saved and I can tell you that at least one man was extremely grateful for Corporal Dunham's service and duty and sacrifice and not only am I grateful to him, it gives me renewed hope about this generation as a whole.

I have several questions that come to mind as I think about this. Is heroism like Corporal Dunham showed something that is only instilled by the military or can civilians show that kind of bravery as well? Also, how often does something similar happen and we never hear about it because someone was "just doing his duty"? I would love to meet the parents of Corporal Dunham. What did they give him in his youth that made him such an honorable soldier and human being and how can I take those same qualities for myself and disperse them to the ones over whom I have influence? I would love to be able to personally give my heart-felt condolences but also my admiration for them and their son as I know they also sacrificed in a way no parent should have to experience.

I am quite sure that it is not just military men and women who show such bravery. One often hears about people making sacrifices and showing great courage. I also know that there is something special about the men and women in uniform for our country. There is something different about the mindset of soldiers that I can only wish I had. I regret not joining that elite group when I had the chance so that I, too, could serve this great nation but I will always be grateful to the ones who do. Not only in this generation but in generations past I find heroes. My friend Bud served in World War II and his wife will tell amazing stories of his bravery since he is too modest to tell them himself. I have family members and friends who have served and faced death in foreign countries so that I can live in peace and freedom.

Another question that comes up is how to show my appreciation. My flag will continue to wave outside my house on this and every day and its presence is a constant reminder of my freedom and what it took to acquire and keep that freedom. I will be honored to buy a soldier's meal at a restaurant or his groceries at the supermarket. I also felt like it was part of my duty as a grateful American to tell this story but I believe the best way I could show my appreciation is in prayer. James 5:16 says that prayer is powerful and effective and I promise to ask for God's power and blessings on all men and women in the military and their families. Thank you all for what you have done and continue to do for me and all Americans. Your service is not taken for granted!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Repent Halloween!

I have a confession to make. I am sorry. I will never do it again! The confession is: I dressed up for Halloween and went trick-or-treating. I realize that Halloween is a pagan religious festival and that I, as a Christian, should not partake of such festivities. I don't know what I was thinking. I just gave in when my pastor asked me to his house to join him and his family and some other friends to go trick-or-treating in his neighborhood. I caved to the peer pressure even though I know that this was started by the Celts of Ireland in the 19th century to celebrate the dead revisiting the mortal world and that even today there are some people who practice witchcraft on Halloween!

I have to admit it won't be easy giving up Halloween. I am pretty addicted to it. I am sure I will have to have some therapy to get off of it cold turkey. A couple of two day follow-ups and I should be fine. You see, I have been on halloween since I was a little kid. My mother even encouraged it! She, not knowing any better, would dress me up as a monster or a pirate or even a ghost. I know how horrible it sounds but what is the wife of a pastor supposed to know? She even enabled my Halloween habit as I got older by buying me costumes and I even got into her stash a couple of times. I hit rock bottom the night I won $1000 in a costume contest wearing some of my mother's makeup. It is hard to admit this and I would appreciate your patience as I and my family struggle through this difficult time.

I don't want to stop with just Halloween, though. I want to completely rid my system of all evil celebrations including Thanksgiving which is obviously a celebration of the horrible act of stealing the land away from the Native Americans who were here before us. Christmas, also, has become so commercial and pagan that I will not be celebrating it. I refuse to worship any more Christmas trees or snow men! And don't get me started on Easter with it's evil bunnies and cholesterol-spiking eggs! Enough is enough! Just say no, kids, just say no!

Halloween '06

Sunday, November 05, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I told Tipper it had to a bin that global warmin what burned up the a/c in tha dubble-wide!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pure joy

If I could write a letter to the entire world, I wonder what I might say. If I had the opportunity to write something that generations of people all over the world would read, what would be my topic? How would I even start? James had that opportunity when he wrote his book in the Bible. He may have not realized at the time that his letter to some friends would be read by every generation that came after him but with the help of the Spirit of God he wrote some of the most powerful words ever written.

Consider how he starts his book: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." That passage is found in James 1, verses two and three. Pure joy in trials? What kind of crack was he on? How do you find joy when things are going wrong?

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that there is a big difference between joy and happiness. Happiness comes with happy situations. You cannot be truly happy when your life is falling apart and crashing in on you but you can be truly joyful. I would love to tell you how I am truly joyful at all times and how my perseverence is finished and now I am mature and complete. I would love to say that but I would be lying. I'm not quite there yet. In fact, I doubt that my wife would use "mature" anywhere in a description of me! In fact, it is only after all these years that I am letting it sink in that joy is possible and that the knowledge of that is coming with the "trials of many kinds".

As every person who has ever had the title of "Parent" will tell you, it is a difficult job. Trials of many kinds come every day and I know that my job is no harder than any other parent on the planet. Like so many others I have the prefix "Step" in front of my title and that adds a funky twist to being a parent. Sometimes the rules get kind of blurry and the job description can be vague. Add to the mix a biological father and his wife who is now a step-mom and the relationships we all have with each other and my head starts to swim! Sometimes I forget to whom I am related!

Being a parent has taught me alot of things. I have come to appreciate my own parents more as I realize how much I put them through. A couple of years ago, my daughter told me one evening that she had a major project due the next day. She had known about it for awhile but waited until the last minute to say anything. So, with my wallet and a really bad attitude, I took off for the drugstore to buy poster board and markers for this project. What should have been my bedtime turned into a late-night visit to some place open twenty-four hours. As I drove to the store thinking up ways to express my displeasure without Child Protective Services finding out, my cellphone rings. My Dad asks me what I'm doing out so late and when I tell him he starts laughing like a maniac! "What's so funny?", I asked. He said, "Don't you remember how many times you did that to me?" It even made me laugh thinking about being bitten by that piece of irony!

Parenting is an humbling job as well. It has made me realize how selfish I am and how impatient I can be. Maybe that is part of what James is talking about when he says we can be "mature and complete, not lacking anything". If I keep facing these trials then my perseverence will make me more mature and complete and as that happens, James then says in verse twelve that "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial..." The Bible says that God will bless us if we persevere and I believe it. He has already given me so many blessings that I don't deserve including a wonderful wife who is a "good and perfect gift from above" as James also says in verse seventeen.

So I will continue to persevere knowing that when trials come it is an opportunity to be blessed if I respond appropriately. While I still can't say that I look forward to hard times I have a better attitude when they do come. It may not be "pure joy" yet but I'm working on it. I'm going to go say goodnight now to my daughter "Pure" and my son "Joy" and then I will thank God for them! I pray that God will bless me with another day to be there for them. I also hope that when they have kids that they wind up trying to find a twenty-four hour place too!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Commercial crazy

I hate commercials. I'm not talking about disliking commercials. I don't mean I would prefer not to see or hear commercials. I mean I have the kind of white hot passionate hate for commercials normally reserved for bigots against minorities or widows who just saw their favorite cat get run over by a drunk driver! Even a good commercial makes me want to gouge out my eyes or eardrums! The problem with commercials is that they interrupt what I want to hear with something about which I could not care less with annoying announcers and poor acting. This is usually done right at the most interesting parts of the show and usually offend even my limited intelligence with wild claims about saving me money or making me more beautiful. If I wanted to try your product or service, I would find you. I have never seen a commercial and immediately felt it was in my best interest to go buy what you are selling.

I understand commercials are necessary. I understand the fact that shows are not produced by people not interested in making money. That is fine with me. I just don't want to be involved. Is that too much to ask? Probably. We recently bought a truck that came with Sirius Satellite Radio installed free for a year. I was so excited that finally I would not have to listen to commercials since this is a paid service. I just assumed that since one has to pay for Sirius that there would not be commercials like there are on terrestrial radio. I was wrong. So now, not only do I get poor quality reception and choices that include gay radio, but I also have to listen to people telling me that Honest Bob is stackin 'em deep and sellin 'em cheap! Makes me want to yank the wheel into a bridge embankment!!

OK, so what could possibly be worse than a commercial, you ask? I will tell you what is worse. I will tell you what makes me so mad I could spit. Worse than a commercial is any commercial from someone running for public office. I have had it up to here with would-be judges, governors, senators and congressmen telling me that if I vote for them they will be tough on crime or that they will protect my children. They say they want to shake up Washington or change Austin or provide leadership for my community. Regular commercials are bad enough but at least they tell me about their product. When politicians tell me they are tough grandmothers or that they are not part of the Washington elite, they tell me nothing!! What do you stand for? What is your platform? How will you protect our borders? How will you make sure every child has a chance? Tell me specifically or shut the heck up! I appreciate the fact that you were in the military or that you are supposedly active in your church or that you once met George Bush but what are you actually going to do if I vote you into office?

Every now and then I see a good commercial. Sometimes they are well done and tell me about their product in a way that amuses and provokes me. Even then I never spend money on them, though. But if a politician insults me personally by thinking I am too stupid to realize they are not being forthcoming with their beliefs and still wants me to cast my precious vote for them then I have bad news for them. If somehow I do hear your name and remember it (since I try to mute them) I promise to vote for the other guy. Republican, Democrat, Independent or space alien: it does not matter. Tell me specifically where you stand on immigration and I will vote for you. What is your specific plan for giving Iraqis back full control of Iraq? You have my vote and I will tell my friends. If you cannot tell me you are wasting my time and making my blood pressure go up. Now shut up and let me finish watching The Simpsons!

My name is Todd and I approved this blog.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Think Outside the Bull

Crime: October 10, 2006, young man leaves Taco Bell restaurant after eating lunch inside and leaves his car in the parking lot while he goes across the street for less than one hour.

Punishment: Car is towed eight miles to wrecker service lot.

Cost: $175.00

Enforcer: Joseph Guevara, Taco Bell Manager

The story is as follows: My son met two friends for lunch at the local Taco Bell recently. After eating their meal they all got into his friends' car and drove across the highway to run an errand. They returned within the hour to find my son's car missing. When they asked the store manager if he knew about it he told them he had called the wrecker service to have it towed. They immediately went to the wrecker service lot and picked up the car at the cost of $175.

As you can imagine, when I heard about this I immediately went to visit with that manager. The manager, Joseph Guevara, pointed out the sign in the parking lot that clearly reads, "All unattended cars will be towed at owner's expense." He also said he knows exactly which customers drive which cars and in his words, he calls the tow truck "alot". The problem, as I see it, is the definition of "unattended".

After one more visit with Mr. Guevera and a couple of phone calls to his superiors, I have now written letters of appeal to the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, all the local news stations and the Star-Telegram as well as a letter to Southern Multifoods Incorporated who own this Taco Bell. None of this may result in our receiving our money back but I worry about how often this happens. The tow truck driver confirmed to my son that he gets alot of business from this manager, and it makes me wonder if Mr. Guevara has made some sort of deal with the towing company.

In my conversations with company representatives, never once have I screamed, cussed, made a scene, or even exaggerated. In fact, neither I nor the company is disputing any of the facts in the situation. I am also not calling on a nationwide boycott of Taco Bell or it's sister companies owned by Southern Multifoods. I can tell you, though, it will be a long time before anyone in my family eats there. Any company that allows such poor customer service to be apart of their company policy will not receive my patronage. I realize that this company will not be financially affected by anything I say or do but I will not sit by and do nothing. If you would like to express your feelings on this subject I have a link here that will go to the Better Business Bureau web site where you can have a voice. Trust me, it'll make you feel better! And at least they don't still use that stupid little chihuahua to sell tacos!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pope travels to Iraq

(Vatican City) This just in: Pope Benedict XVOICU812 has announced he will be going to Iraq to view the war scene in person and to meet with top U.S. military there. Sources say he is worried about retaliation for his remarks that Muslims say disparaged Mohammed. Those sources tell this blog that the Pontiff will go in disguise. He took off his big hat, put on the beanie, put his fingers around his eyes and, sources say, said "How's this?"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A child's eyes

A friend relayed this story to me the other day. He was telling me about his daughter's first day of 1st grade. My friend walked his daughter to her class and while he was there he saw the class role posted on the door of the class. He noticed that there was another girl with the same first name as his daughter Lauren. He then met the teacher and several other parents and then he saw the other Lauren. She was a beautiful little black girl with long, curly hair. My friend and his wife, both of whom are white, picked up their beautiful, blond-haired Lauren after school and the first thing she wanted to talk about was her new friend who has the same name she does! She said, "You won't believe it! Not only does she have the same name as me, she also looks JUST LIKE ME!"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Proof that what happens in Vegas, gets put on the internet!

Leaving Las Vegas

Like most people who go to Las Vegas, I was amazed on my trip there last week. I went with two friends to visit another friend who was in the hospital there. We stayed right on the strip and had just enough time to do a little sightseeing. Gambling never has been much of a temptation for me. I have plenty of other temptations but gambling is pretty low on the list. I am obviously in the minority of people who go to Vegas.

My biggest amazement was not the lights and the sounds and the gaudiness of it all although it was pretty incredible. My biggest amazement was the sheer volume of people that were there on the strip. Over one million people live in Las Vegas and 35 million people a year visit. I felt like all 35 million were there last week. Everywhere you looked there were people of every nationality, color and style of dress (or lack of style).

I made several observations while I was there. When we weren't visiting at the hospital, we took time to walk through some the casinos and malls and we drove up and down the strip. Every one of the tourists we saw were having a great time. We saw lots of smiling and laughing and even heard some winning yells. I also noticed the availability of every possible vice a person could want anywhere, anytime. You could walk down the strip and get a cocktail, a slot machine and an "escort" on Sunday morning and put it all on your credit card while watching a mime juggle live squid in front of the Bellagio fountains! You know...if you're in to that.

I started thinking about why people throng to this place by the millions. What is it that people get out of this city in the middle of the desert? Is it just the gambling? I think not. Of all the places in the world, Vegas is the one place you can go to completely leave your daily routine and attending rules behind. It is a city built and sustained on wanting to "get away from it all". They even have the best slogan in the world to perpetuate that thinking: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". That's even better than the 60's slogan, "If it feels good, do it." The people taking your money want you to think that whatever you do in their city will not have any consequences. Obviously, millions of people are buying into that.

Is that all people want? Do people work all year long just to save up enough money to get away from the rules in their life? It's not supposed to be that way. There is more to life than work, home, tv, sleep, work, home, tv, sleep. Jesus said in John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly". Abundant life. That's what people want! The problem is that religion itself is just more rules. Religion is the quickest way one can feel like a failure. The good news is that there is a better way to have a fulfilled, abundant life. It's not about religion. It's not about being Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Muslim or a worshiper of squid! It's about Jesus! A friend of mine says and I believe that if Jesus were walking on earth today in physical form that he would hang out in Las Vegas. What better place to spread the good news that there is freedom and fulfillment, joy and peace, love and acceptance-all without the consequences that will surely follow a wild night in Vegas-found by a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Problem with Public Schools

Mark Twain once said "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." What a great quote! I was thinking about this the other day when I heard about a friend of mine I haven't seen in several years. I have alot in common with this guy. We went to High School together and played football from seventh grade on through graduation. We took most of the same classes and had many of the same interests. I don't know exactly what his grades were but I know we both struggled at times. We were both smart enough. It wasn't that we couldn't understand what we were being told. Maybe there were just too many distractions.

Being a member of the football team had it's distinct advantages. I don't know how many times we got to get out of school early because we had a game or practice or films or something "important". In fact, the whole school would let out for pep rallies on Fridays and we would be the stars of the show! Life was good at those times but it wasn't always that way. Football takes alot of work. Work takes alot of time. I didn't get a job until after high school because I didn't have time. I didn't have a big social life partly because I didn't have time. I didn't have a girlfriend because...well, nevermind why.

Like most schools we had golf, tennis, rodeo, band, and different clubs from which to choose. The problem was, I now realize, none of those other things made any money for the school. As football players we were told not to be in any of those other activities. In fact, when I decided to play golf, I had to run laps every day before they would let me go to the golf course. I know some guys would drop out of athletics all together because there was so much pressure to devote every waking moment to football.

I look back now at their methods and I can lose sleep over it to this day. What would be different in my life today if I had not been in athletics? Maybe not too much. Maybe alot. I wonder if the pressure to gain weight to be a bigger lineman might have skewed my eating habits. I wonder if I had not been lifting weights unsupervised in the weight room if I might have avoided a surgery. If nothing else my golf game might be better if I had been able to practice more on a sport I could still be playing, unlike football.

I was not the only one who was frustrated with this. This was something else I had in common with my friend that I spoke of earlier. I remember several instances of him getting punished for expressing his thoughts on this subject. He always said exactly what everybody else wanted to say. I respected him for that and I respect him even more today. You see, I hated school. I still hate school. I hated everything about it. Sure, I had some good teachers. I remember Mrs. Gallman and Mrs. Overman really wanting me to learn and made me feel important and special. My overall remembrances of school, though, are not pleasant and it made me want nothing more to do with it. My friend, though, was able to overcome his frustration. I got word the other day that he is now the superintendant of a school in the Texas panhandle and has even gotten his doctorate. I am ecstatic for him! I have no doubt that he will put the emphasis back where it should be at his school. I know his love of football will not cloud his wisdom on what is really important for his kids.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

For Dewey...

The question posed was: How did pirates keep from laughing when they said "poopdeck"? Very thought provoking. While I am not a pirate nor do I have any first-hand experience with pirates, I do have some thoughts on the subject.
First, maybe they did laugh when they said "poopdeck". I would imagine the life of a pirate would not be as glamorous as one might think and they may have made that word up just for a few grins in between swabbing the decks and battoning down the hatches. It’s safe to assume that life at sea was one great bore for pirates. A great contrast from land life: sailing meant weeks of boredom searching for prey, with only intermittent bursts of excitement as victims were sighted, boarded and then plundered. With nothing to occupy the attention of bloodthirsty pirates, they may have made up funny names for different parts of the boat as well as for each other.
Second, this term does not come from sailors hanging off the stern of the ship, relieving themselves. Rather, it is from the Latin puppis meaning stern. If something is stern then it is not funny and so maybe that is why they didn't laugh.
But, lastly, Dewey, I think that the reason that pirates didn't laugh when they said "poopdeck" is probably just because they were more mature than that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Planning my mid-life crisis

I had a birthday last week. Thirty nine. I don't know how it happened. Two years ago I was twenty-five! I don't really feel any older but it has made me think even more about something that has been at the back of my mind for awhile. I also had to go to a funeral this past week and I think the combination of the birthday and the funeral have really gotten me thinking. I am sure the stuff going through my mind is common. I am sure that it is normal to think about such things at some time in a man's life. I am not saying I am having a mid-life crisis, I am just saying I can feel one coming on and I want to be prepared for it!
We got a call last week that my Uncle Dewayne had suddenly died of a heart attack. His funeral was Saturday in Oklahoma. Nearly everyone in my family was there plus dozens of friends and church-members. Hearing people talk about how he affected them was amazing to hear! He was a Godly man and his love for the Lord and love for people was evident to everyone who ever met him. His funeral was a celebration not just of his life but of the fact that he is now getting face to face time with Jesus! A funeral like that will easily make a person wonder what people will say at their own funeral.
Is it vanity to want to leave behind a positive legacy? I don't think so. I know presidents are concerned with it. Clinton made that obvious with his last television interview. While we should be concerned with the memories we are going to leave behind, I believe we should be aware of the heritage that we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. The choices we make now and the life we live now will effect how our descendants live in years to come. I believe everyone is responsible for their own lives and the choices they make but you making wise choices now can give your kids an edge later in life.
Sounds like a lot of pressure to me. It makes me wonder if I am up to the challenge. Do I have what it takes to be the kind of man my family needs me to be? I have to admit I have weighed my options. I told my wife I was moving to Mexico. I told her I was going to go to the gap in the fence where everybody is going north and I was going to go south down to the beach. I said I was going to buy a jet ski and a burro and let the tourists decide if they wanted to go on the water or up the mountain. She didn't believe me. She knows me pretty well. I then decided if I wasn't going to run away then I would do my part to change this world by joining the Army. They will take you through your forty- first birthday. I know because I talked to a recruiter about it but there was no peace in that decision either.
Some men do some crazy things when they start thinking like this. When a man realizes that he is no longer a kid and that the choices he makes affect more than just himself now sometimes he tries to rebel against it and do things to prove that fact wrong. Factor in boredom, half a dozen "If only's" and the fact that his life is not where he thought it would be at this point and stand back! "Who's that blonde with Daddy and when did he get a Corvette?"
Many years ago I had a decision to make. Live my life for God or...not. I looked around at the men in my life and zeroed in on the ones I knew were the wisest. I wasn't looking for smart men. I needed wisdom. There is a difference. My Uncle Dewayne was easily in the top five wisest men I knew. I looked at his life then and this past week I looked at his life again. Uncle Dewayne enjoyed playing golf and fixing up and selling used yard equipment but he was known for his passion for leading people to know Jesus in a life-changing way. He knew what was important in this life and it is the one thing that is important in the life to come. The interesting thing about this passion for him was that it brought about those things that every man desires deep down. Over and over again people talked about how Uncle Dewayne lived life to the fullest and was full of joy. I can vouch for that!
So, as I feel this mid-life crisis growing inside of me, I have realized something. Joy, fulfillment, peace-these are the things that men like me (and you) want. I want my uncle to be proud of me and to say "Good job, Knothead!" when I see him again but more importantly I refuse to give an average life as an offering to God because it is in Him that I find everything I need. That is the legacy I want to leave and that is the choice that I have made!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quick note to T.O.

Dear Terrell Owens,
You are the richest bald-faced liar I know of. Please reign in your ego long enough to make news with your football abilities.
Thanks, Todd

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Good advice from Tyra Banks

Please take a moment to read and savor some words of wisdom from super-model- turned talk show host- turned theologian Tyra Banks. Evidently Banks has a syndicated morning talk show on television and so, of course, that makes her a role model. According to her website Banks is a "groundbreaking, international fashion icon" and "multi-faceted". I assume "multi-faceted" is the word that she uses instead of "Doctor" or "Counselor".
Today on Banks is asking the question 'What can we do to give teen females more self-esteem?". Great question, Tyra. Evidently she has some ideas on that subject that she is anxious to share with today's teens. It will probably go hand in hand with the other advice she gave today on her show. Her website worded it like this: "At the end of the show, Tyra said virginity was a special thing that shouldn't be rushed. She urged people to take their time before deciding to take the big step and when they did, she reminded them to be safe."
Counselor Banks makes a good point - considerably incomplete - but good. This great nugget of knowledge was passed on at the end of this morning's "Virginity" show. I guess Banks gave this advice to one of her guests named Anika who was a 24 year old virgin who Banks invited on the show to "lose it" on camera (which she did).
I also assume that Dr. Banks gave this advice to "be safe" to 39 year old Bobby just before she sent him to a nightclub with comedian Aries Spears (?) so he could be "successful with the ladies". You know, a prescription to hook a brotha up! All of this was of course recorded for today's show along with advice from Aries on being smooth with the ladies.
I am sure that Banks' doctoring instincts really came out with her next guest who had a physical abnormalty that made physical relations impossible. Dr. Banks quickly got her fixed up so she too could "lose it".
No where on her show or website that I can find is there anything about abstinence until marriage. Now I'm no doctor, counselor or talk show host and so I realize I don't know or understand everything. I'm also no angel. I have made alot of mistakes in my life and I'm not going to print them here but, believe me, I know the Bible is true when it talks about the benefits of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. The Bible is clear on this subject. You may call it "youthful indiscretion" or "what everybody else is doing" or even "natural" but God calls it Sin! All sin comes with a price. Maybe now, maybe later.
Jehova God is dripping with mercy and love for all of His creation but He is also a just God. Please don't let Tyra be your moral compass! Man, I sound like an old man! I sound like a guy who doesn't want people to have fun. "Kids didn't do that stuff in my day". Oh, yes, they did and you see the consequences in the divorce rate, the out-of-wedlock pregnancies and disease. I'm afraid that what we don't see are the emotional scars and the spiritual blessings missed.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I hate racism. I'm sure the vast majority of people on earth would say that same sentence. Everyone can cite the horrors of the sin of racism and yet I am concerned that it still raises its ugly head in our modern world. Sudanese men, women and children are still today being taken as slaves. The Ku Klux Klan still survives. Political scandals are common when someone says something they think no one will hear. These are obvious and usually well publicised. My concern is for racism in subtler forms.
Racism is a mental problem. It starts in your mind. It has alot in common with gossiping. The racist and the gossip both feel inadequate. They feel it necessary to bring another person lower so that they can feel better about themselves. This may stem from hundreds or even thousands of years of repression in word or deed or it may be something you heard in the elevator this morning.
The problem is that racism is a bucket of acid. The bucket starts out with a small hole in it. It needs more racism to fill it up but the racism is the acid that makes the hole bigger. Pretty soon a person is consumed with trying to fill that bucket but it's never enough. The more a person tries to make himself feel better by putting others down the worse he feels. He may not believe it or even realize it. It also starts out very shallow. Rarely does one set out to become a racist. A small feeling of inadequecy may reveal itself with a small amount of racism.
I hear you. "Why spoil a friendly blog with such talk?" Mainly because I don't want racism to spread like the cancer that it is to me or my family or my friends. If someone is racist to me I may be tempted to be racist to someone else. It may make me feel inadequate and I may wrongly choose to bring someone else lower than me so I could feel better about myself. Then I wind up with the bucket of acid.
The age-old question is, "What do we do about it?" I'm not here to give all the answers but I have a place to start. The place to start is to do nothing. Yes, nothing. When you hear someone say something slanderous about another race or religion the worst thing you can do is to publicize it. When you read about the drunken tirade of someone putting down another group of people just remember that person has an inadequecy he is trying to compensate for and that talking about that tirade is just going to make other people feel inadequate and will fuel the bitter fire of racism. When a public figure says or does something that is racist the best way to quench that fire is not to feed it!
Again, I do not have all the answers. Not publicizing racism is not going to make it go away. If you ignore something it very well could get larger. Drastic steps may need to be taken to combat racism in the near future and if I can be a warrior in that battle I will. For now, though, I'm going to empty my bucket.

Controversial new show: Desperate Housedogs

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Our illegal dog...

A couple of months ago we bought a dog from a rescue service. This is a great way to get a dog. We went online and found the perfect little girl. This is Sara. A perfect princess in a house used to having princesses around. It was an otherwise ordinary adoption. We signed an agreement that as soon as possible we would have Sara neutered. We immediately called the vet and were told that we could bring her in in mid-October when she was old enough. With a female dog it is considered surgery and they have to be a certain age. Yesterday we received this email from the rescue service:
Greetings from All God's Creatures!!! I truly hope that you have enjoyed your new "family member" so far and graciously thank you again for opening up your hearts and homes to a homeless and rescued pet.

You are receiving this message because, according to our files, you are PAST DUE sending the proof of sterilization of your pet, according to paragraph 3 of our contract! We urgently need a copy of your veterinarian's statement/receipt of the spay/neuter of your pet.

We are legally bound by contract with our local city and animal control agency to provide proof of this within a limited period of time, or we are no longer able to continue rescuing and saving pets out of our local shelter.... which means we will not be able to save any more lives. So, you in turn are bound by a contract with us; more than likely because your pet was too young to be altered at the time of adoption.

We are, at this point, unable to save more lives from the shelter until we have proper documentation from you, so PLEASE get this to us ASAP!

You may send us the proof of sterilization to the address below or digitally scan and email a copy to this email address.

If, for any reason, you have not had the surgery done yet and need our assistance in any way, or need to find a low-cost veterinarian, please contact us immediately and we will be happy to help you in any way we can!

Please be aware that if we do not receive your proof of sterilization within ONE week, you will be receiving a letter from our attorney for "Breach of Contract." We definitely do not want it to come to legalities, but we will pursue it to the fullest extent if necessary.

THANK YOU for your immediate attention to this matter, and have a BLESSED day!

I appreciate where they are coming from and the position they are in. I don't have any problem with this note except for the sentence in bold letters. Letter from an attorney?! You have to be pretty low on the totem pole down at the attorney's office to be stuck sending illegal dog notices! Can't you just see me now in prison? "What ya in for?" says Bubba. "Illegal non-sterilization" says Todd. "Hope to get out by Christmas for good behaviour."
So, if I have to go to the Big House for this, please, somebody take care of my princesses while I'm away!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Celebrity power

George Clooney spoke to the United Nations on Thursday and Brad Pitt made national news recently saying he won't get married until everybody has the right to marry. My next door neighbor says windmills should be outlawed. Nobody is listening to my neighbor.

My thoughts on Madonna:

Pop singer Madonna on Thursday defended staging a mock crucifixion during her record-breaking "Confessions" world tour, saying it was not "anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous" -- but a plea for people to help one another. I don't know what would qualify as sacreligious to Madonna nor do I understand how her being perched on a glittery cross makes people want to help one another. I do know that I wish I could help her. I don't hate her even though I am highly offended by her at times. I wish she knew the Man she makes fun of! John 3:16 says that God gave His only Son so that even foul-mouthed Madonna could have eternal life. OK, obviously not an exact quote, but He said for the whole world. He loves Madonna that much! Thank you Lord for Your incredible grace that keeps Madonna and me alive!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bo the blogging dog

My mentor: Calvin Coolidge

Perhaps the most famous story about Coolidge's behavior concerns the enthusiastic female dinner companion who said to him; "You must talk to me, Mr. Coolidge. I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you." Coolidge replied: "You lose."

Thought for the day:

If every other country in the world hates the United States so bad why do all their citizens want to live here?

stuff that makes my mom cringe!