Have there ever been times more dire than these?  Has an election never been more important, for ourselves and our children?  Take a look around, America:

  • We are enmeshed in an increasingly unpopular war.  Our soldiers are doing the best they can halfway around the world.  Sometimes, they seem as if they have the upper hand, yet, there seems to be no end in sight to the fighting.  Certainly they must wonder if they’ve been forgotten about back home.  In this election year, one side vows to “finish” the conflict, while the other has an eye toward bringing our soldiers home.  Most people now agree that the war was a mistake, but overall the country is still divided.
  • Oil supplies are getting tighter and tighter, driving the price of crude oil ever higher.  This, along with spending on the war has started inflationary pressure.  The price of everything seems to be going up.
  • We are either in a recession, or on the verge of a deep one, caused by oil prices and inflation.  Unemployment is climbing.  Home foreclosures are up.  There is a general economic unease that permeates the mood of the populous.  Regardless of the turmoil of the last couple of decades, everyone has to admit that overall, the economy had been pretty good.  Now, it seems like we are entering a more permanent era of bad economic times.
  • The environment is under threat. Although industry and government give lip service to being good environmental stewards, the problems keep getting worse.  There is an ever growing movement of scientists and activists that is attempting to get governments to clean things up, and they are gaining more and more public support.
  • Our morality seems to have disappeared.  EVERYONE agrees, but for different reasons.  The left can point to our lack of compassion as a society, the right can point to an increasingly vulgar popular culture.
  • For all the strides we’ve made in race relations, many times it looks like we’ve made no progress at all.  Many times, conversations are on pins and needles.  Racial injustices, both personal and institutional, still abound.
  • The space program, once a source of national pride, has become old hat, and many consider it a boondoggle that has outlives its usefulness in these tumultuous times.
  • The Olympics, once an international spectacle of purist amateur sport, has become politicized, professionalized, and extremely expensive – especially with the safeguards necessary to prevent terrorist attack.  Although the US is sending a swimmer who may get more medals than anyone in history, the Olympics seem to have lost their luster. 
  • Even if we get out of our unpopular war, the world is still a dangerous place.  The Russians, the Chinese, the ever-present threat of terrorism – these are all huge challenges faced by whichever candidate wins the election.
  • A good half of the country thinks the president is a criminal – both domestic and international.  Even those on the right wonder if their president hasn’t fallen to corruption.  Whispers of “impeachment” are now being spoken in broad daylight.

Certainly, these issues are world-altering. Surely, our children will never forgive us if we make the wrong choice.

To be continued…

Storms A-Comin’

But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’

“And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? ” – Matthew 16:2-3 (NASB)

I have an 11 year old boy and a 10 year old girl.  At our house, there is change coming.  You can feel it in the air.

Subtle changes are occurring in our kids’ bodies.  Parts growing, other parts, er, sprouting (or so I’ve been told).  My little girl just got over her first bout with acne.  A friend took a long look at her the other day and said, “Her face is changing; it’s becoming less child-like”.

But there’s one thing that tells Lintilla and I we’re in for a bumpy ride.

The moodiness.  Oh, the moodiness!

Last night, we had sulking, we had tears, we had fights, we had screaming, we had the silent treatment.  And this was just at church.  Both of our children, up till now so well behaved and intelligent, seem to have gone insane literally overnight.

Our house suddenly has a tension in the air I’ve never felt before.  They are good kids, but one can’t help but feel we are on the edge of a blowup or a meltdown, or both.

Oh, and we’re dealing with the emotional swings of menopause at the same time.

I’m told that the fun part hasn’t even started yet.  Oh, goodie.  It’s a tough way to live, this highly emotional state, all the time.  I now understand the impulse to get the doctor to give the kids a pill to make all of this stop.  It’s pretty tiring.

But, this is normal.  I was talking with Ford and his wife the other day; they have teens, and they believe that God arranges things so that when it’s time for the kids to leave the house, everybody in that house is eager to see it happen.

We aren’t there yet, but there are signs on the horizon.

Hoping and Praying

Lintilla’s been complaining of pain lately, a lot of pain.  She went to her doctor today, and now they think they might have found “something of concern” and they are throwing around terms that end in “oscopy”.  I’m not really sure what to make of it all.

We’re too young for this, I keep thinking.

I’m trying to keep up a good front, but I’m quite concerned.  I’ll keep you posted.  Please pray for her, if it’s your thang.

It Would Make A Great Movie

My wife has a patient who normally is quite a handful.  He’s a rather large man, and he has Alzheimer’s.  Most of the time, her’s very uncooperative.  The staff his nursing home doesn’t quite know what to do with him.

Well, it’s funny.  He always calls Lintilla “sir”.  Just like Marcie and Peppermint Pattie.  He virtually ends every sentence with “sir”.  It maybe nonsense, but it’s “nonsense, Sir!”. 

So, Lintilla asked around, and sure enough, he is a Marine (there is no such thing as an ex-Marine, as any Marine will tell you).

So, during a recent attempt to bathe the man, in which he was not being very cooperative at all, Lintilla tried something.  Having grown up the daughter of a WWII SeaBee, she had seen every war movie ever made, especially after AMC came along.  She employed this knowledge, and used the tone of voice used by commanding officers in all those movies.

She called him “sir” as well, but nevertheless, her tone touched something deep within the man, no matter what else about his life he had forgotten.  The nursing home staff looked on in amazement as the old Marine did everything Lintilla asked him to do.

It’s corny, and it’s sweet, in a “last scene of Driving Miss Daisy” kind of way.

She is an amazing woman.


And I don’t mean Kleinheider.  Trillian took a candid photo of me Saturday night, which I am going to delete ASAP.  Low light, with flash, from a child’s view.  It’s for the most part, a great photo.  But…

My. Hair.  What the hell happened?

I’m 42.  I can live with a few well-placed, distinguished white streaks.  But that’s not what I have.

Both sides, the entire sides, are turning white.  This will not do, for a couple of reasons:

One, I cannot bear the thought right now.  I’m almost in the best shape of my life, and my hair decides it wants to make me look like Lesley Nielsen?  Not right now, thank you.

And the strange pattern it’s taking makes me look like an idiot.  I look like a reverse skunk.  White on the sides, dark on top.

Time to get Clairol Natural Natural Instincts #28, Nutmeg Dark Brown .  That Good Night can kiss my butt, I ain’t going gently.

The Sun Is Shining

I’ve been seeing a lot of bitterness and weariness from bloggers on both sides of the aisle lately, simply because these people have not found the proper perspective about where politics should fit in the grand scheme of things in their lives.  For these people, I have a story:

I started to head down to the workout room today; I went outside to wait for the shuttle to take me to the proper building here at the corporate campus of SCC.  I do this almost every day; I watch CNN while on the treadmill so I can find out what’s going on in the world.  I usually end up mad, or scared or upset in some way.

Well, I’m outside waiting for the shuttle, and the sun is shining so bright it reaches into the depths of my soul.  The air is so clear, the sky so blue, it touches me in a place that almost makes me weep.  A slight breeze beckons seductively; will I come away?

I went back inside, changed into my running clothes, and did my three miles in Centennial Park instead of the treadmill room.  The beauty I saw and felt was almost surreal; it swept through me like a gentle breeze.  Rounding lake Watauga, even my iPod was playing along: Jackson Browne’s Rock Me On The Water, Elton John’s Take Me To The Pilot, Rush’s La Villa Strangiato .  I felt an indescribable joy;  I was actually tempted to whoop and holler.

The old hackberry near the art center has finally recovered from the April freeze.  They’ve just put a fresh coat of paint on the shelter near Hog Heaven.  Children still flock to the playground near the old retirement home.  There are some new joggers joining me out on the track.  I think I witnessed a proposal, or at least a declaration of love.  A homeless man sat on a bench, enjoying this gift from God as much a I did, because God’s love shines on all of us equally.

Y’know what?  I missed CNN, but nevertheless, I got in touch with what’s really going on in the world.

Won’t you join me in the sun?  “The struggle” will still be there when you get back.

Still Processing This

Y’all bear with me here.  I’m working a few things out “aloud”

We now know who the shooter at Virginia Tech was

The gunman who killed 30 people at Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall before turning the gun on himself was student Cho Seung-Hui, university police Chief Wendell Flinchum said Tuesday.

He was an English Major.

There’s so much that comes to my mind.  For instance, most Americans have no idea how much emphasis is placed on education in South Korean culture.  Education, not money, looks, or fame, determines social status.  Kids are under enormous pressure there, but it’s different from the Japanese pressure to succeed.  It’s all about social status.  It’s everything.

And then there’s this.  Yesterday, when I could no longer hide the news from my children, my son heard the reports for the first time that the shooter was Asian.  The very first words out of his mouth were, “Maybe he’s North Korean”.

This was such a loaded statement.  We’ve had conversations before, when tensions between North Korea and the US were high, in which I explained that, although the North Korean people were “good”, the North Korean government was “bad”.  North Korea as a country, is one of the “bad” countries because of its government.  So, one one level, I understood why Zaphod said what he said.

But, it seemed to me that when he heard the shooter was Asian, he very quickly tried to disassociate himself from him.  It’s hard to quantify, it’s just a feeling I got when he said the words, but it amazed me that he felt the need to defend himself and his birth country.

I’m not exactly sure how to deal with this.  I’m not sure I should ‘deal’ with it at all.  Maybe I’m overreacting.  It was just a side of my son I’ve never seen before.