Thursday, October 30, 2008


I know this post is probably going to raise a few hackles, but I just couldn't sit quiet anymore.

On the Christian Pipe Smokers forum I'm a member of, there is an active thread discussing the issue of abortion in the current election. As many of you know, anti-abortion is something Ell and I greatly support not only with words but by being a volunteer and a board member, respectively, for a local Crisis Pregnancy center. We firmly believe that life begins at conception, and that abortion is wrong.

That said, I've had just about all I can take during this election year with people saying that abortion, and abortion only, is their electoral-ruler. I'm not offended that people have ideals, I'm offended that barely anyone puts their actions, beliefs, and yes, money, where their mouth is. If you have the audacity to say that you are willing to hinge your entire country's future -- social issues, health care, the war, the economy, taxes, GTMO, whatever -- on this one thing, and you sit back and do absolutely nothing for the cause, you've lost my respect.

Here's what I wrote on the topic on CPS...

Completely aside from any selfish motive, I say as the treasurer for an Abortion Alternative organization, that we rarely if ever get any support from the local churches. What a slap in the face for us actually doing something and so shameful for these good "Christians" who are ranting and raving about abortion and Obama but have never given a dime to support the cause. Maybe I'm speaking from too close of an emotional tie, but I am saddened by any one of you who mention abortion as your election ruler but don't support the people who are in the trenches trying to talk these girls out of it and save lives. If that applies to you, you disgust me.

This was a response by another member to what I said...
Nicely stated. I think what needs to be faced is that abortion is not going to be outlawed or seriously restricted until it has been marginalized. That will happen by working for & funding crisis pregnancy centers, and it will happen by evangelism and mercy ministries. Don't believe me? Ask yourself when it became possible for the government to seriously regulate - and begin banning - smoking. Back when everybody smoked, or after the majority had quit for other reasons?

My mum used to sit on the board of Precious Life here in Altoona. As the director of that agency (a family friend) could tell you, their work is making real differences every day. I would go so far as to say that the combined efforts of crisis pregnancy centers around the country do more in a single year than all the evangelical chest-thumping and political pandering has done in 35 years, in terms of really preventing abortions. Hat's off to I-D (that's me) for pointing to the elephant in the room. Your pro-life vote is nothing but an emotional binky, if you aren't backing it up with real measures.

The fact that abortion is legal in this country is a horror and an abomination to myself and many I know. And it is one of the only issues that could actually be changed if people cared enough to act. I have a couple dear friends who have had abortions, and I'm sad they chose that option. But what if there had been a group of people who were willing to listen and advise in a caring, compassionate way to help them? Could the outcome possibly have been different?

That can't happen without people willing to get involved and others willing to support them. If you don't fall into one of those categories, I don't think I'll ever again be bothered to hear what you have to say on the topic. Not because I don't care, but because you obviously don't. And don't lie to me that your vote is based on one issue you believe strongly about. That's a cop-out and lazy. You don't show support and belief and honor one day every four years, it should be a way of life every day you get to breath while knowing the unborn never will.

Don't vote Pro-Life, live Pro-Life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

highs & lows, all superficial

I'm not even sure why I watch football. Both of the teams I follow with decreasing loyalty lost over the weekend. Not just lose though, 'cause football teams lose, and win for that matter, all the time. But rather, they lost games they were winning and controlling. And they just so happened to do it on two of the days I was able to watch.

I used to watch NFL football all the time. Then I got married and found that sex on Sunday afternoons is way way better than watching a bunch of fat guys bump into each other. But I still held onto Saturday's spectrum of college football. A game without paid athletes; games worth watching. Ell always worked Saturday's, so I had the TV to myself. I would cut wood in the morning and come into a toasty house and kick my feet up in the lay-z-boy. Good times.

This season I've been working every weekend on the house so I've only watched two or three games, of either type. Usually my Wolverines never make it onto my local channels but Saturday they did. And the game was a huge in-state rivalry with Michigan State. They were winning, and then they lost. And I got to watch it. Sunday was no different as I watched (as Guy calls them) the Tampa Bay Chokes live up to their name. So really, why do I even bother?

OK, enough of the lows, now for the highs. I have a standing joke in my yard. Well, four of them actually. Two that say Obama and two that say McCain. Spaced and alternated evenly. Just the thought of people driving by wondering why both signs are in my yard, and the knowledge that it surely brings laughter to some families, is quite enjoyable to me.

We smoked a turkey Sunday. It's been a long time since I've been a part of that activity and it was loads of fun. As was the dinner that followed. Good friends, good bird, good ale, good conversation. Good, good, good.

My neighbors on the next hill over put up a wind turbine. My spirits were actually lifted as I saw it whirl to life giving back a little energy instead of spending. In that first moment I saw it released into the wind, all my usual Gen-X scepticism about cost of materials versus cost of coal, and all the other stuff I try to find answers to when I should just be accepting, flitted away as fast as the wind blew. It was so refreshing to my spirit to see those blades turning and giving the hope of an alternative. Praise God we have options.

I'm one weird dude sometimes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some things to ponder

I lifted these from HERE for no other reason than to make people think. The last one confuses me, so I have some thinking (and research) to do as well. Here's to good thoughts...

There are a hundred other topics I need (and want) to write about -
  • the housing crisis (which has not stopped being a crisis, even though the stock market and credit crunch has vastly overshadowed it)
  • the credit crunch - and how it may finally bring about the death of conspicuous consumption (albeit too late to really help anyone)
  • how we are going to teach an entire generation (or two) the difference between "needs" and "wants" - and if it will take an honest-to-God Great Depression to make it stick
  • why an awful lot of people of deep-and-abiding faith continue to ditch The Institutional Church; and
  • living between Death and Resurrection - and why most churches don't recognize Easter Saturday when it happens in October.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


As many of you know, my father has been struggling with his health for some time. I shared back in August about his worsening condition and many of you sent prayers and good thoughts to him. That downhill slump came to a head the past couple weeks in a roller coaster of tests, results, and emotions. In the fog created by the over-prescribed medication, my Dad was just getting worse and worse. Finally he quit taking some of his medications and gradually returned to the Dad I knew. Of course this pissed off some of his doctors, but the result of his decision was obvious and spoke for itself.

Just as my Dad started to feel a little more normal and healthy, a new (or maybe pill-masked) problem showed up. The result was my Dad being admitted into the hospital yesterday and is supposed to be there for the week. My Mom has more details on her blog, here.

A bit selfishly, I'm saddened once again that I'm so physically far away from my Dad. I wish I could be with him every day, and pissed off there are people who think I don't care. If I could I'd be by his side every day, whether he was healthy or sick. He's a good man, and I miss him.

Once again, prayers and good vibes solicited if you care to send them. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Sweetest Day memory

For those of you not from NE Ohio, Sweetest Day is the third Saturday in October. The holiday was invented early in the 20th Century in Cleveland, Ohio. It was sponsored by the top ten candy makers of the time, and yes, was a holiday meant to sell cards and sweets. While I usually don't participate or even remember the date, one time I did and the date that accompanied it remains to this day one of my best memories.

The date was October 21st, 1995: Sweetest Day. Two weeks previous I had asked Ell out and seven days later we enjoyed our first date. I charmed her into going out on a second date which just happened to fall on Sweetest Day. I didn't know the protocol for gifts so early in a dating relationship, but I was certain if I purchased one I could show off my thoughtfulness. While the local florist was wrapping up a nice flower bouquet, I perused the card section and found an ideal card. On the front was an eccentric looking couple in some pretty crazy clothes. The inside of the card read something like, "As crazy looking as we are, we must be meant for each other." Not sure if I have the wording right, but you get the idea.

I had planned a pretty amazing itinerary for the evening. I'd made reservations at a nice restaurant which I planned to follow up by taking Ell to an animated Christmas display. Both were in Pennsylvania, about an hour away from her house. We had talked earlier in the week and I had told her to wear nice evening attire because the restaurant was very swank.

Ell met me at the door of her parent's house where I presented her with the flowers. She thanked me and invited me in to meet the folks while she put the flowers in water. After a few awkward exchanges we headed into the local town where I filled up my beater car with gasoline. As I drove down the two lane road towards the highway, a horribly strong scent of gas almost overwhelmed us. I felt like a fool because I was certain I'd spilled gas on my dress pants. That thought quickly gave way to a new horror as in my rear-view mirror I saw my Thunderbird leaving a wide swath of gasoline all over the road as I drove.

I quickly pulled into a fast food restaurant and jumped out to inspect the car. The fill tube that connects the gas tank to the outside of the car was rusted through and floating freely inside the fender. I turned to look at this fine redhead, certain she was going to end the date right there in fear for her life. (Or disgust at the poor guy with the crappy car; yeah, that was my fear.) She laughed as I apologized and assured me we didn't need to go through with the nicely planned date. I checked and double-checked to see if she was making fun of me, and upon seeing her sincerity, asked her if she minded a date a little more impromptu and closer to home. She agreed.

We jumped back in the fire hazard I called my car and started driving. I knew long distances were out of the question in case the leaking tank got worse, so we drove to a local restaurant for dinner. We ate at a place that later in our relationship would become our favorite restaurant. I then took her to a local coffee shop I used to frequent with my friends when I was young and single. Much to my dismay, the place had changed dramatically from a hip singles hangout to a high-class establishment. Ell taught me the glorious game of backgammon as we laughed at the irony of our fancy duds and how our clothes fit the place but our personalities did not.

After that we headed to the new Barnes & Noble bookstore where we discovered our mutual love for all things literary. We closed the place down -- we were literally the last to leave -- and headed towards Ell's home. As we got into town we noticed the white-trash bowling alley was still open so we went in for a couple rounds. It must have been a funny site to see two hippies in nice dress clothes bowling. I know we were laughing.

As we walked to the car I realized in all the craziness of the evening I'd forgot the Sweetest Day card I'd bought Ell. I reached in the back seat and handed her the pink envelope. When I picked her up earlier in the evening I hadn't noticed it, but she had bought a card for me too. As we sat on the hood of the car and opened the cards together, we laughed that both envelopes were pink and neither one of us liked that color. But that laughter was nothing compared to the laughter that erupted when we realized we'd bought each other the exact same card. Yes, of all the hundreds and hundreds of Sweetest Day cards in all the stores, we'd picked the exact card for each other.

In that moment, I realized this was the kind of girl I'd been waiting for my whole life. I'd always bragged to my friends that I had three criteria for a wife. 1) a redhead (shallow, I know) 2) someone I didn't know before dating 3) someone who liked to have fun. This girl sitting on the hood of my junky car fit all three. And to top it off she had the same sense of humor I had. I knew right then I would marry her. Two years later I did and in September we celebrated our 11th anniversary.

Happy early Sweetest Day to my best friend. You still make me happy, you still make me laugh, and you are still the perfect person God could have ever given me. I love you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One done, one postponed

The list is getting shorter; the, "Projects to complete before listing" list that is. The majority of the list involves work to the outside of the house, and after spending most of the last three days outside, I can proudly say the house is complete. I may be a little biased, but it looks amazing. Ell took some before, during, and after pictures and it's shocking how much difference the work we did makes. It looks so good.

I do have some uncomfortable after-effects from the work, though. Saturday I worked on the spring shed and some of the landscaping. There must have been some poison ivy in those places because now I have it all over my face. When I worked at the nursery I got it every summer working in the fields, etc., but in all of those cases, I never got it on my face. I'm not even sure how it could get to places like the inner side of my nose, both sides of my forehead but not in the middle, across the top of my cheek, or the tip of my nose. Thank goodness I can ignore itches, or this would be pretty miserable. Besides that, my knees and feet are a bit achy from being on ladders for three days and I have scrapes and cuts all over from who knows where. (Geez, this guy sure is a whiner, huh?) But through all that, the house is done.

I don't like talking about problems with my body. Hard to believe, I know, after that last paragraph, but it's true. I don't like hearing about others aches and pains so I'm certain the same is true of others. This infuriates Ell because she'd like to know so she can help. Maybe it's just a guy thing, or maybe my Mom emotionally scarred me as a child whenever I got hurt. (Just kidding, Mom.) Whatever it is, I just don't feel like bothering others with my problems.

One of those unmentioned problems was a broken tooth. It was broken probably six months before I told Ell, and only then because it had started hurting really bad. She immediately inspected it and set an appointment for me to have it pulled. Something about it being black and dead, I don't know. Anyway, we drove to Salem yesterday afternoon for the appointment only to get there and find out the doctor had to leave. They'd tried to call us but had old contact information. What a bummer. I was all amped up for the pain and now I have to think about it for a few more days. BTW, this will be my 24th tooth I've had pulled. But that's a story for another day.

I'll post pictures of the house in a couple days. Anyone wanna buy an old log house?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Funny

Here's a new take on an old joke, and another short one for some extra funny.
If you had purchased $1000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49 today. If you had purchased $1000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have $33 today. If you purchased $1000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0 today.

But if you had purchased $1000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling refund, you would have $214 today.

Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily and recycle.

A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year.

That means that, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon. Makes you proud to be an American.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Job update

I got a nasty scolding (all in good fun..... I hope) that I'm not being very forthcoming with what's going on in with my job situation. I guess I've dropped a couple hints and not followed up with details, and for that I'm sorry. I'm sure I should still be careful not to reveal exact details but basic information can't hurt.

Some months back, I was sitting with one of the guys in my Bible study when he mentioned an opportunity that had been presented to him and his wife. It was a joint job offer/interview that would take them away from Ohio if it came to fruition. I casually mentioned I'd like to have his wife's job if they left. It was a joke more than anything, but it planted a seed in my brain.

The job she held (still holds) was Chief Financial Officer (though she doesn't call herself that) for a large non-profit. I'd known about, and at times been involved with, this non-profit for twenty years. It had grown leaps and bounds from the last time I'd been there, and a possible chance to work for them was interesting to me. I sent a letter (my resume with it) to the non-profit Interim Director and waited for a response.

A few weeks later he called and we met for an interview. The interview went amazing. It lasted over ninety minutes and I heard through the grapevine that he would have hired me that day if the decision was his. Skip ahead to three weeks ago (the day of the wedding.) I had an interview with the CFO, as she'd been authorized to pursue a replacement for her position. After another ninety minute interview, she informed me if the decision was hers she would hire me.

So that brings us to now. The board of directors needs to meet and decide if I'm the right guy for the job. This would be an amazing opportunity for me. Not so much in pay or position --in fact, I'd be taking a 33% pay decrease-- but in what the job means. This is a ministry, not a career. To borrow the CFO's words which reflect my life perfectly, 'For years my job has been to make rich people richer; to help people with money get more of it. The entire purpose of this organization is to help the exact opposite spectrum of society.' Pretty heavy stuff, and pretty exciting. I want this because it will stretch me as a person and in my faith, and at the same time allow me to use the leadership and money know-how I already have to help an organization I fully believe in.

I won't lie and say the decreased salary, loss of health benefits, somewhat different area of work, and rusty ignorance of their operating systems, doesn't scare me. But it also invigorates me with an excitement for work I haven't felt in almost a year. The selfish human benefits are also appealing. I'll get four to four and a half hours added to each day when comparing the bank to this job. That's huge! My gasoline bill will also drop from $80-$100 a week down to less than $20. That replaces a sizable chunk out of the salary decrease. Plus the stress reduction from the bank to this job (not saying there's no stress at the new job, just healthier) will probably add a few years to my life.

So there it is. Sorry to be somewhat vague, but I must respect the privacy of the non-profit as well as my own heiny here at the bank. (They're always watching, those dirty ba'ards.) Pray for me if you're of that persuasion, and I'll keep you updated as things progress.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's over

Last night it frosted. The first frost has always signaled the end of summer to me. Sure the calendar and temperatures have said it's been over for some time, but in my spirit I always held onto it until that first frost. Indian Summer may still appear, but it too is only a glimpse of what we lost.

I think summer is the best season. (No, Kimmy, this post isn't a joke aimed at you. I'm quite serious.) Summer is the season that makes our lives function and meld together. It's the one season that provides and restores and renews more than any other. Some of the reasons I think summer is best...

  • Without summer we would never get to enjoy the garden bounty such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, sunflowers, sweet corn, all of which wouldn't grow without the hot yellow sun of summer.
  • Summer is the season of our childhood. It's the season where all the happy activities we loved as children happened. (All the things we'd love to do now but are either too self-conscious to enjoy or not willing to make time for.)
  • Fall and Spring may be prettier seasons but are so because Summer makes them. A never ending Spring would turn everything into a swamp and those blossoms would never turn into the colors of Fall without the heat of summer producing the healthy leaves.
  • Two word's-- longer days.
  • Summer provides time and temperature for the majority of sports.
  • A beer never tastes as good as it does with friends during summertime.
  • Intense heat may be uncomfortable but intense cold is painful. (There are more cold-related deaths each year than heat-related. I think that says a lot.)

I could go on, but I'm sure everyone has their own special things they love that are encouraged by the season of summer. Like I said, this isn't a joke post or an attempt at spirited debate; I simply want to express my sadness that this season I love has gone away. It seemed so short. It's gonna be a contemplative day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Funny

I was on the roof until 9:00 last night scraping paint in preparation for tomorrow's fun. I came down and then left for the devil's store to get some things I'll need tonight to finish the prep work. When I got home I was too tired to think up an original funny, so this is borrowed from Cyndy again. Enjoy... (Warning: cover the chillen's eyes, some of these are spicy.)

Some comments made by NBC sports commentators during the Summer Olympics that they wish they could take back:

Dressage commentator: "This is really a lovely horse and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother."

Paul Hamm, Gymnast: "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father."

Boxing Analyst: "Sure there have been injuries, and even some deaths in boxing, but none of them really that serious."

Softball announcer: "If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again."

Basketball analyst: "He dribbles a lot and the opposition doesn't like it. In fact you can see it all over their faces."

Soccer commentator: "Julian Dicks is everywhere. It's like they've got eleven Dicks on the field."

Tennis commentator: "One of the reasons Andy is playing so well is that, before the final round, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them... Oh my goodness, what have I just said?"

Have a great weekend everyone.