Thursday, September 15, 2016

"I got overwhelmed by the magnitude of the celebrity culture in America. My background is as a news journalist, and newsrooms in the US are shrinking - investigation teams are being terminated or shrunk on newspapers all around the country. The one aspect that's expanded is coverage of celebrity culture." ~ Carl Hiaasen, American journalist

I try to always look at the calendar to make sure I have the right date. I would look at my watch but its calendar has been off for some time now. Yes. I am aware that I could calculate the correct date based on the wrong date on my watch, plus or minus. My phone is typically correct. At any rate, I have every reason in the world to believe that it is Thursday, September 15, 2016. I do have a Twitter account. I typically post a quote of some kind on it each day. I have a total of 22 followers. A well-known celebrity is now closing in on 93 million followers. The President has nearly 78 million. The NFL has just over 20 million. I follow some 55 Twitter accounts. Nearly all of them are news or sports sources. I've never asked anyone to follow me. Looking at the list of the top 100 reinforces how we live in a celebrity-saturated world. This preoccupation with fame is not new. Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer, (1759-1797), made this astute observation, "How can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?" I don't think too many of us can say we are totally immune to this form of vicarious association. (Maybe not music, TV, or movies, but what about sports stars?) It is a part of the societal programming that exists in our world. Suzy Kassem, Author of the book, 'Rise Up and Salute the Sun', gave her thoughts from this excerpt,"Let's face it. We live in a command-based system, where we have been programmed since our earliest school years to become followers, not individuals. We have been conditioned to embrace teams, the herd, the masses, popular opinion -- and to reject what is different, eccentric or stands alone. We are so programmed that all it takes for any business or authority to condition our minds to follow or buy something is to simply repeat a statement more than three or four times until we repeat it ourselves and follow it as truth or the best trendiest thing. This is called "programming" -- the frequent repetition of words to condition us how to think, what to like or dislike, and who to follow." Sobering stuff to think about for a Thursday.

While this was a problem, it was Ike's 18 inches of rain that came into our house that really did us in.
Speaking of sobering stuff, this week is being recognized as the 8th anniversary of when Hurricane Ike came calling. That storm made a huge impact on the wife and me as it mostly ended up demolishing our home. It was a very trying time. Our rebuilding became almost secondary as we stopped everything to try and aid the wife's brother as he suffered a debilitating heart attack. He had come to help in the reconstruction. Many would later say God knew all about it and He put Bro. Milton in a place that had access to the very best medical response available. The storm itself made mincemeat out of our normal routines. The rebuilding effort was very taxing. However, we look back at it all, 8 years later, and we can only echo the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as reflected in this sentiment from Psalm 124:2, "if the LORD had not been on our side...." From September 2008 - February 2009 we had to do a lot of living by faith and not by sight. However, there are enough testimonies to last a long time contained in that dash between those two dates. Testimonies of how God used people, situations, progress, setbacks, challenges, and help from places we never even thought about, to help us make it through. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Yesterday morning a beautiful red fox ran across my path on my way to the workplace. It's not that often around these parts that you actually see a red one. It reminded me of an old timer who used to visit us here at the Company from time to time. He would tell how that he has lived out in this rural area for many years and he remembers when it was known for the huge number of red foxes. Things have changed. Progress has been made. Houses now dot the roadway. There were houses on both sides of the road where the fox crossed. He did look like he was in a hurry. I don't know if the folks that live in those houses own chickens but I bet Mr. Fox does. Many years ago as a consultant, I evaluated a large information technology environment. They asked me to review the organization and its effectiveness and then write a report. I did. One of my opening comments was to state there was an obvious lack of oversight that was detrimental to their success. I told them they were operating much like the proverbial fox guarding the hen house. One of their executives took that metaphor and ran with it. They reorganized and refocused their program. Everyone lived happily ever after. Except for the handful who were demoted or transferred. But, that would be a story for another day. I suppose I should give a shout out to Mr. Fox for his well-earned reputation. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless one and all. Amen. ....More later.

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