Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled." ~ Red Skelton


Good morning and welcome to where we will be observing Wednesday, at least until one second after midnight on this September 28, 2016. Clowns have always been the subject of vastly different opinions. Some think of a funny and loving Bozo or Ronald McDonald. Others see this macabre image of the Joker or some other demonic inspired figure. Frank Sinatra had a hit entitled 'Send In the Clowns' in 1973. The song, written by the prolific Stephen Sondheim, became his most popular tune. Judy Collins charted with it in 1975 and 1977. The lyrics give us this: "But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns, Well, maybe next year." I think perhaps we have found them. Recently, throughout our land, there has been a rash of reported sightings of menacing clowns. They have been frightening children of all ages. It may make for a good marketing tool for the upcoming Halloween celebration but it also has had a chilling effect on the good clown business. I heard on the evening news last night that happy clowns typically booked for birthday parties and other special celebrations have seen a dramatic drop in bookings. I know a number of professional Santa Clauses who work full time in the entertainment market. Many of them do magic and also perform as clowns. They too are lamenting the fall off in the clowning part of their business. I suppose they want us all to know that from a happy clown perspective, Clown Lives Matter too.

I didn't have my Facebook or Twitter in front of me during the debate. However, when I reviewed the postings on both of them on Tuesday morning, it was very interesting to see what those in my circle were saying. I think it is safe to say that most of the folks closest to me would be in the Never Hillary camp. Their comments on social media indicated that it was through that prism they evaluated all that she had to say. I did see some pro-Hillary comments in my feeds, but, they were few and far between. The debate did not change my opinion. I cannot see myself, under any circumstances, being able to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. That I am sure of. Yet, what to do in response to that is still the dilemma I am facing. I know. To many if not most, that should be easy. There's only one alternative. I really do wish I could see it with that type of black or white clarity. I did hear one pundit say that he believes there is a sizeable block of voters who are still conflicted about what to do. He believes this to be good news for The Donald because he thinks that come election day these folks will hold their nose and pull the lever for the Republican nominee. I may have worn out all of my clothespins from using them on my nose during the past several election cycles. Not being negative, just giving it to you straight. For what it is worth. Adjusted for inflation, of course. Did I post anything? I did on my twitter feed. "Message from the debate: You are so ugly you make onions cry."

I know what many of you are thinking. If politics went away I would have to shut down my blog the next day. I get that. I'm not sure it is accurate but I do know we live in a world where government at all levels is, unfortunately, becoming more and more entangled in the 24 hour living out of each day. The other day I was watching RFDTV and they showed the results of a huge rain storm in one of the farming regions. No doubt many of the crops were harmed by the flooding they experienced. A comment caught my attention. The local farm bureau was already working with elected officials at the local, state, and national level to see what relief in terms of monetary recovery could be made available. While that might be a reasonable expectation under some catastrophic circumstances, it bothers me when the kneejerk makes it the first action sought. A huge technical training institute was recently shut down because of fraudulent operations. Congress wants to make sure the students do not suffer financially because of the failure of the institution. That may sound good but think about it. When big brother becomes the mom, dad, and every other supporting influence of record in the living out of the individual in everyday life, we will have reached a type of soft totalitarianism. (Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.) I was being optimistic by using the word 'soft'. Okay. Enough of my view of Civics 101 for today. I observe, report, inflate, conflate, and maybe even irritate, but, at the end of the day, you decide for yourself. As God leads, of course. Take care and may He bless us, one and all. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Influence Peddling: "The practice of using one's influence with persons in authority to obtain favors or preferential treatment for another, usually in return for payment." (www.yourdictionary.com)

Whew! It's Tuesday morning, September 27, 2016, and we woke up, pinched ourselves, and figured out that we had survived what had been termed the debate of the century. My reading coming out of this debate confirms what we have known all along. This particular presidential contest has mostly been a race to the bottom since the get go, therefore, I'm not sure we should feel good about much that happens on the campaign trail. The coach at LSU doesn't have to wait to find out about his job. He, along with his offensive coordinator, were unceremoniously fired after starting the season 2-2. I mention this because I had read an article at the end of last season that pulled back the curtain on the role of money and politics in college football. There were a number of prominent LSU alumni who wanted Les Miles fired last year. How much did they want him to be fired? They pledged $10 million dollars of their own money to buy out his contract. It wouldn't have cost the school any out of pocket dollars. I'm going to make a leap here. This is how money and power works. In something as inconsequential as having a winning college football team, folks are willing to open their pocketbooks and use their influence to get their way. Take that as a microcosm of how influence is exercised throughout the workings of our day by day way of life. Think about the power of government in our modern society where trillions of dollars and how they are spent is at stake. Ten million dollars to get what you want would be less than a penny when one thinks of those vying to get a share at the United States feeding trough. Race to the bottom, unpopular candidates, and all of the above, however, the old saying still applies: Follow the money!

I know some of you are waiting with bated breath to hear my personal endorsement as to who I believe should be elected President. If the Lord tarries, I do know this. There are only 41 days left before we stand at that electronic voting device to cast our ballot. It's interesting to listen to the so-called prominent evangelical voices who dominate Christian media. At the start of this cycle, many stood on principle in stating their objections based on biblical grounds to the now current Republican nominee. Some, a much smaller number, continue to voice their opposition, while, the majority have moved to support him based on the alternative, that being, a President Hillary Clinton. They have gone to great lengths in stressing how that we are not electing a pastor, only a President. Before, many of them had what they considered to be strong biblical grounds for not supporting him. They somehow have been able to put those behind as they see compromise as the way forward. I can only tell you about the nagging conflict I still have in trying to make up my mind about what God would have me to do regarding the privilege we have. Yes. I did end up voting for Mitt Romney even though I stood then and continue to stand in opposition to his religious identity within an organization that claims to be Christian but their teachings prove they are not. In the end, I could not bring myself to vote for another term for the incumbent. Just so you know, I am still in the wait and see, praying phase. (A Christian cult is defined as a group, church or organization whose central teachings and/or practices are claimed to be biblical or representative of biblical Christianity, but which are in fact unbiblical and not Christian in nature. http://www.apologeticsindex.org)

That's enough of that for today. Most likely, for any day. I was looking for some more lighthearted things to share and I found a few quotes that appealed to me. They are not guffaw-worthy or even laugh out loud material but they did cause me to pause and smile. Maybe one will do the same for you. "The Pentagon announced that its fight against ISIS will be called Operation Inherent Resolve. They came up with that name using Operation Random Thesaurus." Jimmy Fallon, late night talk show host ~ The star of Cake Boss was arrested for DWI. Police interrogated him for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Comedian Joe Toplyn ~ Never be in a hurry to terminate a marriage. You may need this person to finish a sentence. Erma Bombeck ~ If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one? Abraham Lincoln ~ Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, “On the one hand …on the other.” Harry Truman ~ A sign outside read “The Great Debates Program, ‘Is American Politics Broken?’ has been relocated due to Government Shutdown.” ~  Okay. Now it is time for us all to get out there and see if we can make a differene for good in someone's life. God has promised to help us to do that very thing if we will be willing to make the effort. Take care. And, may God bless us all along with this nation we all love. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, September 26, 2016

“Government does not solve problems. It subsidizes them.” ― Ronald Reagan

Happy Monday and welcome to September 26, 2016. Before I broach a particular subject, let me give you some insight into my dated but still relevant experience. I understand a little about how our national government works. I have worked as a civil service employee for the United States Air Force, the Veterans Administration, and the United States Army. During my four-year tenure, I saw plenty of costly bureaucratic mishaps and mishandles. An Inspector General's report led to this most recent confession by Homeland Security. Some 858 immigrants scheduled for deportation proceedings were mistakenly granted US citizenship. These individuals had been flagged because of them being deemed a security risk, or some had previously been involved in immigration fraud. Homeland Security gets something north of $40 billion a year to accomplish its mission. The Secretary issued this new mission statement this past May: "With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values." I think we all know this is a difficult task, however, there are a few things worth pointing out. This department along with the President wants the American people to stay calm and to have confidence in these agencies who are charged with protecting our homeland. I consider this report to reflect a colossal failure, but, just like when I worked for the government, no one really ever is held accountable. Homeland Security did not pursue a remedy in these cases because the Justice Department had not agreed to prosecute. What could happen? We do not have to guess. The Inspector General actually revealed this failure from an audit and added this fact as a cautionary note: "At least three of the immigrants-turned-citizens were able to acquire aviation or transportation worker credentials, granting them access to secure areas in airports or maritime facilities and vessels. Their credentials were revoked after they were identified as having been granted citizenship improperly." Let me ask the pregnant question here: How in the world could anyone look at this as an example of how this department functions and end up concluding we are safe?

I feel for those die hard fans who wanted so much to believe in this year's Houston Texans football team. I am not a naysayer. I do want all local teams to do well. However, I always find it somewhat amusing how people jump from two early but less than impressive wins to start the season and as a result, they think they should go ahead and get in line for a Superbowl ticket. I get it. That's part of being a fan. I suppose I've reached that age where I am more reserved and to some degree, more objective about it all. The first two wins did give everyone a good feeling. The third game was played in New England against the Patriots, well, that was like a bucket of ice cold water thrown directly into an unsuspecting face. They lost that third game last Thursday evening, 27 to zero. New England was playing with a third string quarterback. It doesn't get too much more humiliating than that. Don't get me wrong. I hope they win their division. I hope they make it into the playoffs. But, I look at their play and see a decent team, certainly not a great team, and we all know that going deep into the playoffs requires them to be able to beat New England. That, obviously, will take more work. Just a smidgen of reality for us local gridiron fans to help get our Monday up and going. On a positive note, the Texans players themselves were very forthcoming in their assessments, essentially agreeing they had played terribly and the other team played well. That's a good place to start.

I've been known to have a blind spot or two when emotional attachment is involved. Take my recently retired NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon, as an example. Even my wife would tell me that I mostly always made excuses when Jeff didn't do well. That's how most of us roll. I most likely can see obvious flaws better in others than in my own neighborhood. You know. We, you, all of us, can testify. "Wow! Looks like they could do something with the rest of the marching band, our kid is the only one marching in step." Jesus gave an outrageously funny illustration concerning this out of proportion examination of others. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5) I suppose I have some logging work to see to, therefore, have yourself a good rest of the day, and may God add His blessings to it. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, September 23, 2016

“We have deemed all these words necessary in order to explain that we have been traveling more slowly than was predicted, concision is not a definitive virtue, on occasion one loses out by talking too much, it is true, but how much has also been gained by saying more than was strictly necessary.” ― José Saramago, The Stone Raft

Now it's on to number 2401 and we're off and running once again. Today is Friday, September 23, 2016. I do need to set the record straight about the Star Trek emphasis yesterday. I was/am a casual observer and/or fan of the Star Trek franchise. I couldn't make any claims whatsoever on being even a Trekkie with training wheels. The references I used yesterday were associated with the franchise but I believe not all of them came directly from the TV series. One or more may have come from one of the movies. What was relevant was the anniversary, therefore, that's why I used it as a hook, albeit, a somewhat tenuous one. Speaking of space, I thought one of the responses to this week's bombings by the mayor of New York City was about as spaced out as they come. He essentially said that in the wake of these attacks what the City needed to do was to seek more Muslim immigrants to make New York their home. Maybe he meant it to be a way of saying we will not shrink back in the face of threats. Maybe he meant it as a way of promoting the resilience of his constituents. I had my own thoughts about what he said. I don't think I've ever heard anything as stupid as that. I know. I'm not sophisticated and in-the-know like him and the other elites might be. But, I mentioned it to a co-worker here and he had an almost identical response as I had. Us deplorables just can't seem to get our heads screwed on right. (The use of the word deplorables does not indicate my support for any current presidential candidate. I was using it to associate myself with those described by then Candidate Obama's comment in 2008: "And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.")

Young champion beard growing competitor.
I respect that it may get a little tiresome when I am always attempting to clarify my clarifications. Sorry. That too is a part of the package. I often go back and look at things I've written and published and I think about how it might have been better stated or illustrated in a more informative manner. I realize that we are all different. Thinking about the total world population of nearly 7.5 billion people, most of us do fit, in one way or another, a fairly narrow specialty within that huge number. I am a real bearded Santa Claus. Need I say more? I saw the bearded fellow's photo, above, in a UK newspaper. It depicts a champion beard grower. I would guess there's not that many who qualify themselves as being competitors in beard growing championships. The fellow in the photo reports that doing what he does is not without its challenges. He reports that it does get tiresome having to apologize each time he kisses his girlfriend. We all have our own set of problems, in our own sphere of life. When the Christian comedian and singer says God has to have a sense of humor, if you don't believe it, look at the platypus. I like that but I think if you want to see the most amazing diversity, just look at the people that breathe air on the planet.

The other day I wrote about the preeminence of celebrity in our culture. I typically track breaking news on my Twitter feed with over 50 news sources from all over the world posting updates in real time. Last Tuesday there were more crises going on from all over the globe than one could keep up with. The New York, New Jersey bombings were front and center. The stabbing in Minneapolis was developing. The Syrian conflict was hot and heavy. The President was at the United Nations making a speech. The continuing Clinton, Trump election saga with all of its twists and turns was being widely covered. Add to that mix the local news, accidents, road closures, weather, and things of that nature. Suddenly, something happened, all the news sources were taken over completely by an earth shattering event, so much so, it nearly shut down Twitter. What was this drop everything now story that interrupted reporting on every other event? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are divorcing. I'm not talking about tabloids or Hollywood gossip sites. I'm telling you that every major news source interrupted everything else and ran with this developing situation. I'm surprised they didn't interrupt the President's speech so that he could inform everyone at the UN as to this breaking news event. I'll let you try and figure out exactly what this means and I will only add my often stated conclusion, "I rest my case." Speaking of news, how about some good news? God is still God and He is in control. We have the opportunity to make that truth a part of our daily living. Amen. Have a great weekend and do your best to show up Sunday at the meeting place to learn more about and to offer up your worship of the Lord God of heaven. Amen.  ....More later.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I'm saying this for the umpteenth time, hold on, make that the 2400th time!


Today. Yes. Today. It's Thursday, September 22, 2016. A momentous day for me. One that will no doubt live in atrophy.  As far as I know, there will not be any fireworks, confetti, or champagne to mark the occasion. However, it does give me some sense of accomplishment in posting today's episode, the 2400th time that I have hit the publish button and sent it hurling to the regions beyond. Since this is the 50th anniversary year celebrating the TV Series Star Trek, maybe a few of its most recognizable quotes would be appropriate, ... "To boldly go where no man has gone before" ... "I'm 'givin' her all she's got, Captain!" ... "Set phasers to stun" ... "Highly illogical" ... "Beam me up, Scotty" ... and finally, "Live long and prosper". Those have become integrated into everyday conversations and they might well be metaphors for this traversing of the blogosphere that I have been engaged in since my initial launch back on May 9, 2007.

I've actually shared that very first blog several times during this now into my ten-year journey, so I've decided not to copy and paste that first blog in today's edition. However, I did write a thank you when I hit 2000 blogs and having read it again, I thought it was exactly what I wanted to share. I have updated the stats mentioned to reflect the current numbers. Here it is: "I've met some really neat people along the way via their comments. I do have a loyal reader community and I appreciate each and everyone for your patronage and your encouragement. I've never added any advertising or connecting websites, yet, my little blog, spinning out there somewhere on the worldwide web has had nearly 177,000 web views since we started. I sure hope some of what I have shared about the Lord may have ended up in fertile ground because we know that's how He is able to bring forth a harvest. Thanks again for showing up each day and join me in thanking God that we have had this time together. We will see where it all goes from here but know in advance, regardless, I commend us all to God and His love, mercy, and grace. Until next time, may He bless us all. Amen." One last summarized mangled metaphor that might fit this daily effort going forward, "The Blogosphere: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the View From Here. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new stuff, to seek out new things to talk about and new words to communicate, to boldly go where no one has gone before." Or something like that. ...More later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

“The truth has become an insult.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, recognized Nigerian novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer.

Good morning and welcome. We meet up again here at our little coffee shop blip of space in the vast blogosphere and we do so on this particular Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Drag up a chair and enjoy a hot cup of Community as we do our best to get this day started. I agree with the need for calm as our nation deals with the threats against our way of life, but, I cannot argue with those who show great concern in how we are dealing with them. The online Merriam-Webster gives this simple definition of politically correct: "agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people." Today we live in a nation who is in tip-toe mode in nearly every facet of life. Our school system, our government, our police, our military, even our religious institutions, along with our workplaces are in a state of paralysis as we collectively attempt to never offend anyone at anytime for any reason. This is being force-fed into the very fabric of our existence under the guise of tolerance. I don't think people should be slandered or made fun of because of their religion, their ethnicity, or the color of their skin. That intrinsic value is also a tenant of the respect we should have one for another. However, for those who would plot and plan to kill, maim, and do their best to destroy the freedoms we hold dear, they do not, in my opinion, deserve any shred of protection, neither in our response nor in our description of their identity. While I'm at it, I can't help but mention the only consistent exception to this malaise being wrought on us all by the thought and speech police seems to be those who follow the Christian faith. Christians are not included in this broad politically correct umbrella of protection. Check it out. I see it every single day. I hope you do too. Yep. It's a last days scenario. How do I know that? The Bible tells me so! Amen. (A quote I saw after I had written this paragraph: "Political incorrectness is our great problem." – Former CIA Director James Woolsey)

Three of my all time favorites, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra
I didn't mean to start out the day by making everyone feel down, but, most of you already know that my opinions make up a lot of the keystrokes that end up on my blogs. While there's some debate about the origin of this colloquialism, it does in large part reflect on what I do here each day, "I calls 'em as I sees 'em." Like I say, there's not broad agreement about the origin of this little ditty but here's my favorite guess at where it might have come from. ~ The correct answer comes from the great Casey Stengel when he charged home plate in a series game when he managed the Yankees. Stengel's batter, with 2 out and having a full count, did not swing on pitch number 7. The home plate umpire yelled "Strike 3!" Casey was furious, as were most of the Yankee fans. He charged the umpire and got in his face, screaming as only Casey could do. The umpire responded in a clearly Brooklyn accent of the period: "I calls 'em as I sees 'em." It was loud enough for a NY sports reporter to hear the words and write them down. Remember in those days before security, reporters, VIPs and such sat to the side of home plate or just a row or two up. The ump had to yell loud enough to drown out Casey. ~ This was submitted to an etymology message board. I could have said what you see is what you get but then I would have had to try and explain that one as well. I'll stick with the first one.

No. I am not going to tell the story about how I used to sleep with my Al Kaline baseball glove. I'm tempted but I think I will save it for another time, especially since I've likely shared it more than once in the past. Telling the same stories over and over is now more acceptable, for me. I say that because something significant took place when I crossed that threshold designated by a 70-year-old marker. Jokes become easier, like this one, "Three signs of old age: The first is memory loss ... I can't remember the other four." One fellow said he had no trouble with memory storage. But retrieval, now that is a problem. I heard this one the other evening on a rerun of the Marty Stuart show on RFDTV. Leroy Troy told the joke about the fellow who was told by the doctor he had only six months to live. The old fellow responded by saying he wasn't sure he would be able to pay his medical bill with only that time remaining. The doctor thought about it and gave him another six months. Everyone on stage and in the audience cracked up. They couldn't stop laughing. Really? I've heard that one for years, but, I think I laughed anyway, especially at how much laughing they were doing. I may not have remembered that exactly how it happened, but that was it, to the best of my recollection. To the 'best of my recollection' may become my theme moving forward. We will see. Take care, and may God bless each one, and may He intervene once again on behalf of our nation. Amen. ...More later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” - Aesop

Sometimes the timing on things just knocks my socks off. That's what I am thinking about this morning, here on this Tuesday, September 20, 2016. This past Sunday I was watching the NASCAR race and I was also flipping to the Texans game, trying to stay up to date. The NASCAR race was coming down to the wire. Literally. The young 20-year-old driver, Chase Elliot, who replaced my driver, Jeff Gordon, in the famed Number 24, was in the lead with five laps to go. I was cheering him on. Literally. We have a big screen TV but I was standing about 12 inches away from it, hollering at those who had no way of hearing me. Suddenly, a car fell apart on the track and a caution came out. My wife said she wasn't sure if the way I was acting was healthy or even in keeping with my Christian testimony. Then it happened. I was waiting for the race to restart. Bam! The power flickered. The satellite went out. The internet went down. The power came back on but the satellite and the internet had to go through a reset process. The wife hinted that maybe I had received a response to my behavior from up above. It finally came back on just as the race restarted. Chase was no longer in first which means he had to make a pit stop while we were away, stuck in no man's land. Bottom line, he didn't win his first race. He finished third. That's not bad for the first race of the playoffs but it sure had me stirred up. Literally. The Texans won. All and all a good day. As for the utility company, don't even get me started.

Just to set the record straight. I had no intention of becoming emotionally involved in the NASCAR race or the Texans game. Yes. I am aware of my grandfather's often used questioning admonition, "Well, what then, did you intend?" I suppose, based on my 70 plus years of hands-on experience, it should not have been a surprise. One of the early talk show hosts, Jack Paar, was well known for becoming emotional when dealing with stories and the people on his show. I suppose it is an outlet of sorts. I'm actually not nearly as entangled as I was many years ago. I well remember back in the day when I would have our main TV, one portable TV, and the radio, all going at the same time trying to keep up with the college bowl games. A few weeks ago when Tony Stewart finally won a race, even the wife was cheering. This is Tony's last year as a driver and we both were standing as he made the final pass on the final lap. See what I mean? It can happen to anyone. I do know there are tears when 'they' watch some of those Hallmark channel programs. Those shows are not played out live because they are not even real. Okay. You did remember. I think I said I cried as a kid when old Yeller died. I may have had a tear or two the first time I saw those people singing 'Nearer My God to Thee' as the Titanic went out of sight in the 1953 black and white movie. Oh well, I suppose I could do better. Maybe next time.

Some days it's harder to get the bones to quiet down long enough so they can be properly organized to march in step in a forward direction. I know it's hard to admit it, but there are days when I too would like to cover up my head with a pillow and do my best to continue the next episode of the dream sequence. There's a problem with that scenario. The thought alone, when it occurs, stirs up this powerful guilt response and it brings with it an echo effect. Instead of giving consideration to any other alternative, I have this loudspeaker compelling me to make sure I keep my schedule. Maybe that's why folks dream about a day when they have nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no longer any reason to be in a hurry. Until that time comes for me, I suppose I will be mostly like the White Rabbit from the 1951 movie 'Alice in Wonderland' where he sings, "I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say 'Hello, Goodbye'. / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late." You don't have that problem? Good for you. I'm not sure if it is a weakness or a strength but I do know it's my modus operandi. (It's a recognized manner of operating, called MO in the old detective radio programs.) I suppose I should hurry to finish. Therefore, in closing, I ask God to bless us all. See you next time. Lord willing. Amen. ....More later.