Thursday, July 31, 2008

Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them!

Those wacky Germans are at it again. Last week, they welcomed presidential-hopeful Obama, with a great welcome. Now, some fine citizens of Berlin are in the news. It seems that two police officers who responded to complaints about a raucous weekend party in western Germany were mistaken for male strippers by the female guests.

Police spokesman Bernd Hoffmann said neighbors called police around 12.45 a.m. Sunday to complain about noise from a birthday party in their building.

A round of applause from the apartment resident—who had just turned 30—and her friends greeted two officers who went to investigate. Hoffmann said that “they thought the policemen were dressed like that because they were strippers. It took them a while to realize they were real police officers.” Hoffmann said the women had not ordered strippers but thought someone had sent them as a birthday surprise.

The incident resulted in no arrests.

I don’t really remember my 30th birthday. I’m not even sure I had a 30th birthday party. But, if I had, I can guarantee you that if police officers had shown up for the party, I would have known they were there because some law was being violated and not that they were strippers sent by some friends!

I didn’t and I still don’t have friends like that. That’s good.

I remember my parents teaching me as a child that you are known by the company you keep. Obviously, the 30 year-old birthday girl has friends who would send strippers to her party. Maybe she herself has or would send strippers to someone’s party. I don’t mean to be judgmental, but those aren’t the kinds of friends I want to have or that I want any one in my family to have.

Today is my baby brother’s birthday (well, he’s the only brother I have and I am older than him, so that does make him my baby birthday). And no bro, you won’t be seeing any strippers sent from me. If you are lucky, you’ll receive a Hallmark card from me. Just remember, if police show up, I’d take seriously whatever they tell you. They’ll be the real thing!

Life = Risk

Well said!

How many risks have you taken lately? How many risks are you willing to take?

Are you willing "to think outside the box?" To dream the impossible dream?

Do you really have a God-sized dream?

If not, why not? What's stopping you?

Are you afraid?

Fearful that you will fail?

Scared of the risk?

So! Get over it already!

Trust God! Let Him do it through you!

He will!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Assurance for All

I’ve mentioned on here before that I once served as a chaplain and a firefighter for a small volunteer fire department. Of all the work I’ve ever done, either professionally or as a volunteer, this service was probably the most meaningful for me.

Prior to me joining the fire department, a member of my church was an officer in the fire department—even though we were small, we still had organization! Tim was a captain in the department, I believe. And, Tim was a great man. He was a strong believer in Jesus Christ, was an active member of the church, and genuinely was loved by everyone he came in contact with. Tim also had a great sense of humor. And, oh, Tim also was a diabetic.

While in his mid-40s the diabetes began taking a toll on Tim’s health. Nothing seemed to work and he couldn’t seem to get a handle on the problems that went along with the disease. After many months of fighting, Tim entered the hospital and his foot was amputated. The doctors really believed that would solve most of the problem.

Unfortunately, it didn’t. Months later, Tim was back in the hospital again. The infection had spread up his leg. This time, after a great fight, the doctors had to amputate his leg, above his knee.

Things were fine for a while, but soon the problems were back again, this time in his other leg. Months more of fighting, only to become a losing battle. Back in the hospital and another leg amputated.

Tim maintained a wonderful attitude during all of this. His witness was as great as ever. He was still in church and still went to the fire station as often as he could get a ride there.

Everyone thought his problems were behind him. But, they were not. The infection and his body’s lack of fighting it off continued. This time, it spread to his hand and arm. Again, back in the hospital. Again, amputation. This time of his arm, up to his shoulder.

In a moment of talking with the firemen, Tim said, as a witness to his eternal home and to his love of humor, “I always knew I would go to heaven when I died. I just didn’t know I’d go limb-by-limb.”

What do you do when someone says something like that? You laugh! Of course! Tim did. He loved life. He loved humor. But, he loved knowing that when he died, he would be whole again, in heaven, with his Heavenly Father!

Some months later, Tim lost his battle with diabetes. And, for the first time in many, many years, Tim was whole again, with all of his limbs, walking the streets of gold.

As only firemen can do, even in a small community, Tim was given a mighty send off! The fire department has an old 1930s or 1940s fire truck. It runs. And, when it is polished up, it looks great! We used the truck for parades mostly and when we did our yearly open house. Kids loved climbing on the truck and sounding the siren.

Tim got one more ride with the fire department. His flag draped casket was hoisted onto that old fire truck and made its way from the fire department to the church for his funeral service and then to the graveside for his burial.

Tim was buried with less than a full physical body. But, he didn’t care. Because the moment Tim breathed his last breath on earth, he immediately was made new by his Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you have that same assurance?

The Naked Truth

The following news story may be the funniest one I have read in a long time!

At least, it is certainly one of the most ironic ones I have seen!

Here’s the story. New York City’s famous (or is that infamous) Naked Cowboy was scheduled to be in a San Francisco court earlier this week after being arrested last week while singing in his underwear.

Robert Burck, better known as the Naked Cowboy, was clad only in skin-tight underpants, cowboy boots, and a hat, when he was busted on a sidewalk just outside of Union Square for performing his act in a restricted area.

Burck, Mr. Naked, said the West Coast cops didn't immediately recognize him as Times Square’s most famous street performer—and mocked his familiar ensemble when they got him back to the station. “It was nonstop. They’re laughing hysterically because there’s this guy in his underwear,” Naked told a newspaper.

The arresting officer claimed Burck violated rules posted in Union Square against soliciting and playing an instrument. He was given a citation for “violating a posted sign.”

The question I have for the San Francisco police department is this: Have you seen the annual gay pride day parade that goes through your city? Have you seen the daily obscene and vile acts that take place in your city? Or, did you simply turn your head and look the other way when those things were going on?

I certainly don’t condone the Naked Cowboy’s routine. I think anyone who sings on the street corner, in his underwear (in 100 degree weather or 20 degree weather) is a few fries short of a happy meal anyway! I can’t sing a lick, maybe Naked can’t either. And, his Naked Cowboy routine us just a good way to hide that fact! But, standing in public, with your boots, hats, and underwear, day-in-and-day-out, something just ain’t right about it! Ain’t right!

Do you find the actions of the SFPD to be just a little ironic?

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'll Handle It Tomorrow

Last Friday night, a motorcyclist was killed in Meadville, Pennsylvania, when his motorcycle crashed into an Amish buggy.

Police say a group of Amish people were fishing at Pymatuning State Park and had tied up their horse. Unfortunately, the horse broke loose and pulled the buggy onto Route 6. The article’s writer said the following, “The unlighted buggy collided with a motorcycle operated by 42-year-old Duane Forsythe of Beaver Falls.”

Forsythe was killed. His passenger, 44-year-old Catherine Fosnaught, also of Beaver Falls, was injured. The writer also proudly told us, "The horse wasn’t hurt."

I love how these stories are written, don’t you? I’ve been to Amish country many times and admired the beauty of their farms, their lovely quilts, and the simple lifestyle. I admire their lifestyle, but have no desire to live their lifestyle. None whatsoever.

But, in reading the story, you get the idea that the horse and buggy pulled onto the highway, got up to speed, and overtook the motorcycle, forcing it off the road.

More than likely, since the buggy was unlighted, don’t you think it was the motorcycle that crashed into the buggy and not the other way around.

And, oh, aren’t you glad that writer made a point of telling us that the horse wasn’t injured. I am so glad.

This story reminds me of one of the most important verses in the New Testament. In James 4:14, James wrote these words: “Life is but a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away.”

Never have truer words been written. Life is so short, no matter how long we actually walk upon the earth. What’s 100 years compared to the time since creation took place? Nothing. What’s 50 years compared to how long ago Jesus walked around telling us about the kingdom of God? Again, nothing.

Some would say that since life is so short, we should eat, drink, and be merry all the time (Jesus also had a few words about that, I’ll save those for a later post). But, what Jesus would remind us is to live life to its fullest, to serve Him every day, and to love those around us.

Who knows how long any of us has on earth. I don’t know. I don’t think I really want to know either. I think what God requires of me is not to know how long I have but how well I have served during those allotted days.

How well are you serving Him? Or, are you planning on handling it tomorrow?

Just Like Carol and Ed

It seems that the American public is about to be subjected to another dose of Rosie O’Donnell. Apparently, Rosie’s previous show and time on The View wasn’t enough. Now, Ms. O’Donnell is talking about creating a new show for NBC, to begin in 2009. Network executives are saying that Rosie’s show will be the 2009 version of “The Carol Burnett Show” or the 2009 version of “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Are you kidding me?

Carol Burnett show? Ed Sullivan?

Can you imagine Ed Sullivan approving of Rosie O’Donnell and her vulgar language and lifestyle? Wasn’t it Ed Sullivan who ordered that Elvis Presley be shown only from waist up because of his “obscene” movements from waist down? What would Ed say about Rosie?

It seems that Rosie would like to do her show live, as in not on tape, from a Broadway theater, possibly on Sunday night.

Of course, let’s put her show and all of its media hype on Sunday night, the most important day in the week for believers. That’s right, let’s bring out the Hollywood freaks, the variant lifestyles, and no-morality actors and actresses and parade them in front of the American public on this special night.

At least she hasn’t (yet) claimed that her show will be like the Wonderful World of Disney or even the Sunday Night at the Movies that ran for so many years!

I won’t be boycotting the sponsors of her show. I won’t even be calling them or writing to them. I’ve got the best method to express my displeasure—I’ll just not be watching it, no matter how much press it receives—and oh, while it is showing, I’ll be spending time with God and my family.

Hopefully, many others will ignore Ms. Rosie O’Donnell’s latest outing…

I know I will!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

Police in Minnesota are on the hunt for a suspect in a first-degree armed burglary case after losing the man in a multi-state chase—despite reaching him by cell phone.

Burnsville, Minnesota, detectives went to arrest Grayson Clevenger on a burglary charge, only to see someone matching his description drive away in a stolen Dodge Durango.

The detectives tried calling Clevenger (not sure how they got his cell phone number). He answered his phone by saying: “Dude, I can’t talk, I’m being chased by the police” He then hung up!

The suspect then drove briefly into Wisconsin and back to Minnesota, where he eventually abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. As of last report, he was still at large.

So many questions come to mind!

How did the police get the cell phone number for the man?

If you are being chased by the police, would you answer your phone?

And, if you did answer your phone, would you admit to the caller that you were being chased by the police?

If you were being chased by the police and fled from the state where they were chasing you, would you go back to the same state?

No one said thieves were smart! I think this is just another example of how true that is!

A Little Political Commentary

The other day, as I was driving home from work, I stopped behind a car at the red light. As I looked down at the car's back bumper, I saw the following bumper sticker:

What do you think about the bumper sticker's commentary?

I try not to discuss politics on here, but this bumper sticker was simply too good to pass up.

Share your thoughts! I'd be interested in what you think of the bumper sticker, and oh yes, the upcoming election.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Two Blogger Friends

Not long after I started blogging, I came across Bill the Cycleguy. (Take a little bit of time to check out his Web site--he always has great ideas and observations! Just don't forget to come back to my site!). We've had some good bantering back and forth, disagreeing over our favorite sports' teams. However, one thing (among many) that we share is our love for the Lord Jesus Christ! He has forgiven our sins! And, He has loved us, even though neither of us really deserve it. We also both love our brides more than words can express.

Not too long ago, Bill and I had the opportunity to get together for the day. The picture above shows us very early in the morning, before we've had our first diet, decaf Dr. Pepper.

I wish I could say that the photos from later in the day looked better, but, this is about as good as it gets! So, I'll spare you those pixs.

Caption This Photo, Part Two

Let's play the game one more time.

Be nice!

What caption would you give to this photo?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Perception vs. Reality on the Car Lot of Life

A recent comment on my blog made me think about a childhood experience. I guess I was 8 or 9 years old at the time.

My family lived in Greenville, Alabama, which is about 35 miles or so away from Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama. It might as well have been 3,000 miles away. My hometown was and is still very small, with a population of about 7,500–8,000 or so. Everybody knows everybody in my hometown, or at least it seems that way. Every time I got in trouble as a kid, it seemed the entire town knew about it…or they were the ones who told on me!

Growing up in Greenville was simplistic, at best. We played in the yard all year long. That’s about all there was to do. Our backyard would go from being a baseball diamond in the spring and summer to a football field in the fall and winter to a basketball court in the winter and spring. We rode our bicycles for hours and hours during the summer. We raised a garden in the back yard, one that my father always swore “Won’t be that big next year!” But, it was always as big, if not bigger the next year.

There was a small movie theater in town, and we often saw movies, not current releases, but the old favorites of bygone eras. There was a small skating rink and that rink provided many hours of going round in circles and dusting the floor with the seat of my Wrangler jeans.

There was no McDonalds or Wal-Mart or Kroger’s or Target or Starbucks (that’s for you Kevin). We did have an A & P grocery store and a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. We even had a Ben Franklin 5 & 10 store for much of my growing up days.

However, for the real excitement and fun, we had to go to Montgomery. Montgomery was where the Montgomery Mall was! It was huge—or so it seemed at the time. It probably only had 35–40 stores in it, and of course, we didn’t have anything like that in Greenville, heck, we didn’t even have 40 stores in all of Greenville!

I’ll never forget a trip that my mother, brother, and I took to the Montgomery Mall. We arrived early to shop. We parked our car up front and hurried inside to shop. We spent several hours shopping and exited the mall to find our car. As we walked out the door, my mother realized that the car was gone! It was no where to be found! We walked and walked and could not find the car! Finally, in desperation and tears, we went inside to the security stand and reported our stolen car to the police officer working the booth. He listened as my frantic mother told of our plight. He didn’t get frazzled in the least.

After my mother told him the entire story, he calmly asked, “Ma’am, what letter did you park under?” Letter? What letter was he talking about? My mother was clueless as to what he was talking about and said so. The very kind officer said, “Ma’am, our parking lot is very big and there are several exits out of our building. So, we’ve lettered the sections of the parking lot so people can remember easier where they parked.

Needless to say, we didn’t notice the letters when we parked our car. In Greenville, you parked your car, went in one door and out the same door! Who took into consideration multiple doors! Not us. Not the rednecks from south Alabama! Not my mother. Not my brother. Not me.

A few minutes later, with the help of the kind police officer, we found our car. Of course, it was right where we left it. Under the letter “M” by the way.

On the way home, no one was really talking too much. We were all still shaken by having our car “stolen.” About halfway home, my mother did speak. She said, “Don’t you dare tell your father about this!”

To this day, we still haven’t told him! And, you’d best not either!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is This Where Worship is Heading?

I recently found this video on YouTube. As you have time, watch it and then let me know what you think. Are they on to something? Or are they taking humor too far? Or, is there no humor in it whatsoever? Is it okay to laugh at ourselves?

Don't Forget the Condiments

A few years ago, I served on a volunteer fire department. I was the chaplain (supposedly) and fireman (more times than I could count). In a rural area, the only people left in the community during the day are retired people and preachers. Well, I wasn’t retired. So, during the day, I was actually needed to respond to emergency calls.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I was poorly trained to serve on the fire department. At no point during high school, college, or seminary did I ever receive proper training to respond to an emergency fire call, or car accident, for that matter. So, I watched the other firemen, read all I could, and attended our training times each week.

Even though we were a small fire department, we had our fair share of calls. In any given year, we could have 100 or so calls. I realize that if you compare those numbers to a large city or a paid fire department, those numbers are almost insignificant, yet, those calls kept us very busy.

One call I’ll always remember. The call came in about midnight. I jumped into my clothes, hurried to the fire station, and off we went. Unfortunately, the house was fully engulfed in flames. We did our best, fighting the fire for nearly an hour. However, even with our best efforts, the house was a total loss. After an hour, the fire was out and our work was done. We loaded up our equipment and headed back to the station.

I was back in bed by 1:45 AM. I finally dosed off around 2:15 or so. Around 2:30, my pager activated again, we were being dispatched to a fire call. When I arrived at the station, we were told that it was to the same house we had left earlier. Apparently, the house flamed up again. So, for the next thirty minutes, we doused the house with water. Back to the station we went again, more tired than the first time.

Around 4:00 AM, my pager again activated. Same story, third verse. The same house. Flamed up again. Thirty minutes of pouring water. Back to the station.

At 5:15, back to the same house, for the fourth time. By now, we were exhausted and aggravated. To say we didn’t care, well, might be a little strong, but not too strong. Thirty minutes. More water. Fire out. Again.

Then, 6:15 AM. Pager again. Same house again. This time, the firemen were much slower in returning the station. Finally, the gang was mostly there, all but one guy. In a second, he pulled up to the station and made his way to the trucks. He was holding something in his hand. He lifted up the bag, with a huge smile on his face, and said, “Heck, if we are going back to the same fire, we might as well have some marshmallows to roast!”

Yes, he had brought marshmallows. To a fire. To roast. To be used by our fireman.

We would never do that! Well, not on the first, second, third, or even fourth call. But, on the fifth call to the same house…let’s just say they were good!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Smallest Brave

Many of you have commented about my son's photo slideshow that runs on this blog. If you can't tell, my wife and I are just a little obsessed with taking pictures of him and posting them on his personal blog.

Blogs are great for many things. One thing they are wonderful for is helping grandparents who live a long distance away to see the going and coming of their grandson! So, if for no other reason, we enjoy posting those photos of him.

A couple of regular commenters (Bill and Phil) commented about the Braves jersey my son is wearing. It seems that Bill is a huge Pirates fan--probably the only one; and Phil is a supporter of the Chicago Cubs--not sure why!

Anyway, these two men have given me grief about Evan wearing this particular jersey. As with most things in life, there's a story behind the jersey he has on. Warning, if you don't like a cute story, just skip reading today's blog.

Shortly after Evan was born, we started finalizing his birth announcement that we wanted to send to family and friends. You know what birth announcements are? Those are the things you send to people who already know you have a new baby, but you want one more way to brag about the addition to your family!

Anyway, we wanted to dress Evan up appropriately for his big photo shoot. However, most of the clothes we had for him were simply too big! At birth, he was rather skinny and the clothes just looked huge on him. We really wanted to dress him in some sports outfit, since I am such a huge baseball and sports fan. Well, his University of Alabama outfit didn't fit great, it was too big, and he had already worn it in the photo taken of him at the hospital. So that was out.

We fretted and fretted over what to put him in for the picture. Finally, in a moment of genius or insanity, I went upstairs and found the perfect outfit for him! At Christmas, before Evan was born, I gave my wife a teddy bear for Christmas--it was for her to keep until Evan arrived. I had gone to Build-A-Bear Workshop and bought the bear and dressed him in an Atlanta Braves uniform (jersey, pants, and even stocking socks!). Well, I pulled the clothes off the bear and placed them on Evan! Believe it or not, they were the perfect size for him!

So, pictures were taken of Evan in his Atlanta Braves uniform, and then the uniform was returned to its original location--back on the teddy bear.

Hopefully, one day, Evan will appreciate the humor of this story! I know my wife and I will always treasure it!

And, if he ever makes it to the Big Leagues, I've got the original rookie card--hundreds of them--that should be worth something on eBay!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Warning: Preaching Can Be Dangerous to Your Health

Warning: Your next sermon could prove hazardous to your health! At least, that’s what Jeff Harlow is probably thinking today. Jeff is a pastor in Kokomo, Indiana. This past Sunday, he brought out a dirt bike during a church service to demonstrate the concept of unity.

Now he’s demonstrating the concept of healing.

Jeff is the senior pastor at Crossroads Community Church. Unfortunately, he broke his wrist when he lost control of the motorcycle at the start of Sunday’s second service, driving off a 5-foot platform and into the vacant first row of seats (another good reason why no one ever sits on the front row!)

He underwent surgery on the wrist Monday. Becky, his wife, said, “Jeff has already laughed a lot, so he’s OK. I think his pride was bruised.” She continued by saying that “He had this idea that he would bring this bike out onstage and show people how the rider would become one with the bike. He was going to just sit on it and drive it out. He was just walking the dirt bike out onstage and somehow it got away from him. It was not intended.”

Jeff had performed the demonstration at earlier services Saturday night and Sunday morning without incident.

Okay, that’s a powerful demonstration, if I have ever heard of one! Now, I’m wondering, did he finish the sermon? How did he tie the wreck into his message? Or, did the congregation (in unity) come to his rescue? Should Pastor Jeff sue the maker of the dirt bike for obvious defects in the product, plus his humiliation for the accident?

So, what’s the worse illustration you have ever used? Which one backfired on you the worse? Did you have something go wrong in one of your illustrations? Tell the world so that we can all enjoy in your misery, I mean story.

Paging Doctor Smith

I think it is now safe to tell this story. Many of the major players in the story are now dead, most of the others don't read my blog!

After graduating from seminary, I served as pastor of a small, rural church in L.A. (Lower Alabama, for those who don't know). The church was your typical small church, with 4 or 5 families that made up the church's membership. I lived next door to the church, in what we called a pastorium. The pastorium matched the church in appearance--white cinder block, with a matching black roof. If the house had only had a steeple...

My neighbor across the street was a member of the church and a member of the largest family group in our church.

And, he liked to know my business. He liked knowing what I did, when I did it, where I went, who I visited, what time I ate lunch, etc. I would often see him sitting on his front porch, almost 24 hours a day, just watching the goings-on at the preacher's house and at the church.

Let me tell you a little about my neighbor. Everyone in the church called him "Doc." Well, he didn't really seem like the "Doc" type, so one day, I asked him about the name. You will love the explanation about his name as much as I did!

It seems that when Doc was born, his family didn't really have much money to pay the doctor for his delivery. So, his parents asked the doctor if they could provide him with some vegatables or chickens or something like that. The doctor was gracious and said that was not necessary.

However, the family kept insisting that they do something for the doctor. Finally, the doctor relented and said, "Well, I've never had a family name a new baby after me. That would be a great payment!"

The family loved the idea and decided to name their new son after the doctor, using the doctor's first name for their son. The doctor's first name? Well, I don't know for sure and neither did Doc's family. For the family, the only first name they knew for the doctor was "Doctor." So, they named their son "Doctor" Gaston Smith. For the rest of his life, Gaston Smith was simply known by his first name, the name of his doctor, "Doc."

I guess it could have been worse. The person who delivered him could have been a preacher, a nurse, a fireman, or even a judge.

Oh, just so you know, I did find a way to keep Doc from knowing all of my goings and comings. Many mornings, even though my house was next door to the church, I would drive my car over to the church and park it so Doc could see it. Then, if I had to run home for something, I would use the back door of the church and go into my house's back door. The angle of the church and my house prevented him from seeing my trips home. Once home, I could take our other vehicle and go do what needed to be done.

I've often wondered what Doc thought I was doing for those many hours at the church!

If I had been him, I would have worried far less about what the preacher was up to and would have spent my time thinking: "What in the world were my parents thinking when they named me Doc!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's in Your Pringles Can?

The New Mr Pringle

Remember the old Almond Joy commercial, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Almond Joy’s got nuts, Mounds don’t.”

Snappy jingle. Whoever created that marketing strategy did a good job because that little commercial has stuck with me for years.

But now, I’ve got to learn a new jingle or better yet, to better classify a certain product. I know you are familiar with Pringles. They are chips. Funny, kind of u-shaped chips that come in a can, rather than in a bag.

How would you classify Pringles? What food group do they belong to?

Well, before answering (this is a trick question, after all), I’d better tell you what a court in London has decided. Britain’s High Court has ruled that Pringles are not a potato snack. The court ruling now means that Procter & Gamble Co., the makers of Pringles, will not be subject to a value-added tax, and will save the company millions in tax dollars in England.

The decision said that Pringles should be subject to a 17.5% tax because it met the definition of “potato crisps, potato sticks, potato puffs and similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour, or from potato starch.”

The judge found that Pringles were only 42% potato, and thus exempt.

Dare I even ask, what’s the other 58%?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Be Careful What You Leave Behind

You’ve heard the old joke about fireman and their suspenders:

Question: Why does a fireman wear suspenders?
Answer: To hold his pants up!

Well, a story out of Stockholm, Sweden, gives a new meaning to a fireman’s suspenders and pants. It seems that three firemen from Gavle, in central Sweden, had stopped by a local swimming pool for a dip. When they returned to the pool locker room, they discovered that someone had made off with their uniforms. Their commander said that when they returned, everything was gone except for their underwear and their shoes.

So, what could the firemen do? Well they drove back in the fire engine wearing only their underwear and shoes! One of the firemen, Posa Serenius, was quoted as saying, “People stared a bit, but I guess it went well.”

Do you think people stared? Almost naked fireman going back to their fire station, in nearly nothing? I would suspect so!

Many years ago, I served as a volunteer fireman. Well, in truth, I was the chaplain for the fire department, but since we were a fairly small fire department, I also had the opportunity to do double duty, as a chaplain and fireman.

One of the first lessons I learned as a fireman was to wear comfortable clothing under the turnout gear! (As a matter of fact, a fireman should always wears socks! Especially if he doesn’t want to get blisters on every part of his foot!) In South Alabama, in July, the temperature can easily reach 95–100 degrees on any given day. It always seemed that it was on those days that we would be called out.

If you don’t know, turnout gear is heavy, made to withstand the heat of a fire. But, because of its weight, and the way it fastens, it also keeps your body heat inside the gear! So, if it is 95 degrees outside, it can easily be 120 degrees inside your gear! Good for a winter day, but not a hot Alabama summer day!

I can understand the firemen going for a swim! No doubt, it was to cool off after a call. However, one suggestion I would make to them—about using the gym’s locker room—buy a $3 lock! It works wonders on protecting your stuff!

Maybe their commander will add that to their next training session: lock up your gear before swimming! Good advice! Not only for firemen, but anyone who goes to the gym regularly!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Aunt Bee Goes to Jail

Okay, do I have your attention now? Not that Aunt Bee, of the famed “Andy Griffin Show” from the 1960s (and still in reruns around the world today).

The more I think about it, it really is too bad that Barney Fife wasn’t around to “nip this one in the bud.”

It seems that Jeff Carstensen, from Charlotte, North Carolina, got spooked when he learned his grandmother planned to buy him a $100,000 life insurance policy—and name herself the beneficiary. As he and everyone else who came into Betty Neumar’s world have learned, he apparently had good reason to get spooked and to run as fast away from her as he could!

The 76-year-old Georgia woman sits today in a North Carolina jail on a $500,000 bond, accused of hiring a hit man to kill fourth husband Harold Gentry. Authorities are re-examining the deaths of her first child and four of the five men she married, including Gentry.

To date, no motive for these deaths has been discussed, but records and interviews with relatives and police officials paint Neumar as a domineering matriarch consumed by money. Al Gentry, who pressed North Carolina authorities for 22 years to reopen their investigation of his brother’s death said: “You can’t trust her. You can’t believe a word she says.”

It seems that Neumar collected at least $20,000 in 1986 when Harold Gentry was shot to death in his home. A year earlier, she had collected $10,000 in life insurance when her son died. She also had a life insurance policy on husband No. 5, John Neumar, who died in October. The official cause of death was listed as sepsis, but authorities are investigating whether he was poisoned.

To the outside world, family members said, she was Bee—a friendly woman who operated beauty shops, attended church and raised money for charity. But Carstensen saw another side: fist fights at family functions, use of obscenities and belittling of relatives, how she would act “one way in public—especially church—and another behind closed doors.”

I am always amazed at how people act in public (church included) and then how they act at home, behind closed doors.

As a child, my mother and father often groaned to my brother and me, “Why can’t you act as good at home as you do at church?”

Know anyone like Neumar? Good in public, terrible behind closed doors?

What do you say to such a person? What Scripture helps in situations like this?

How would you rather people act around you? With their "church-face" on? Or their "home-face on? Why?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Value of One

And who said a penny doesn’t go far today?

Well, don’t tell the people of Fort Scott, Kansas, that! Last Tuesday evening, volunteers began placing pennies on the ground and before they finished on Friday night, the parking lot of the Fort Scott Middle School was covered in a 40-mile-long chain of pennies! You read that right—40 miles of pennies!

Their line of pennies is the longest line of pennies ever assembled (according to the Guinness Book of World Records), eclipsing the old mark by more than five miles. The previous record was 34.57 miles, set in Malaysia in 1995.

The penny program was part of an effort to raise money for improvements at Fort Scott’s Ellis Park. So, how much is a 40-mile line of pennies? Well, it comes to $33,790 to be exact. And, all of that money will go toward $4 million in projects planned for the park.

Have you ever tried a fundraising campaign like that? Did it work? How well?

I’ll never forget what happened in a Vacation Bible School in the church I once attended. The children were challenged to bring their coins to Bible School and told to drop them in a blue bucket (for the boys) and a pink bucket (for the girls). I’ll never forget the excitement of watching the children bring rolls of pennies, standing over their chosen bucket, opening the rolls up, and dropping the loose change into the bucket.

Oh, how their sacrifice touched my heart—that is, until I realized that I had just witnessed them unrolling the pennies and dropping them in by the hundreds—and knowing that I would be the one who had to count all the loose change!

Still did my heart good! And oh, it really thrilled the bank tellers as well!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eat Fresh! Hold the Knives!

A New York man claims that he was nearly cut when he found a knife baked into the bun of a cold-cut 12-inch sandwich he bought at a Subway in New York City.

John Agnesini says he knew his lunch didn’t taste right.

The 27-year-old said he was horrified to find a 7-inch serrated blade in the bread. He said it was protruding into the half of the sandwich he was about to start eating and that it “could’ve slashed” the side of his mouth. Instead, he said he fell ill with “severe stomach issues” for hours after eating. He attributes it to food poisoning from the embedded blade.

Subway restaurants spokesman Kevin Kane said food safety and customer comments are taken “very seriously” and that the company is “investigating the facts.”

Two thoughts:

1) Can you say, “Lawsuit!” (See yesterday's post!)
2) That’s why I only order six-inch subs from Subway! Those pesky seven-inch knifes don’t get in the way when I do that!

And, if my good blogger friend reads this, I'm sure he would add a #3 to the list (he likes lists):

3) That's another great reason not to eat at Subway...

What's in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

In the Bible, names meant something. “Peter” meant “rock.” “Penuel” meant “face of God.” “Jabez” meant “he causes sorrow.” Some people translate “Jabez” to mean “pain.”

But, when you read a name in the Bible, just know it has some significance—and to understand the Bible better, it really does help to take the time to understand the meaning of people’s names, countries, and cities.

Well, an Orlando, Florida boy will have some ‘plaining to do when it comes to his name. the boy’s name, all 24-letters of it, will be Dixon and Willoughby Partin—before you question my ability to count, you have to include the “and” in his name!

Why the strange name? Simple. A hundred bucks worth of gasoline.

An Orlando radio station offered $100 worth of free gasoline to the listener with the most interesting item to trade. David Partin of Orlando offered the right to name his unborn son to a local radio station. Radio hosts Richard Dixon and J. Willoughby took Partin’s deal.

So, when the baby is born later this winter, he will be named “Dixon and Willoughby Partin.” When asked, David Partin’s girlfriend, Samantha Bailey, told the Orlando Sentinel that at least he will have an interesting story about how he got his name.

The two radio hosts are a little concerned that this will actually happen, so they don’t plan to hand over the card until they see the birth certificate.

Hmmm…giving the naming rights over to a couple of radio personalities? How dangerous is that? At least it wasn’t Howard Stern!

I’ve seen people willing to have companies’ names tattooed onto their forehead. When you watch a NASCAR event, you see company names all over the cars and uniforms of the drivers, and if you listen to them talk for more than ten seconds, you hear every sponsor’s name they can get in in those seconds.

But, to have your child named after a radio show? How ridiculous is that!

Choosing names is complicated and can take hours and hours to decide. There are family considerations to keep in mind. There are spelling implications and abbreviations to worry about. There are the “top 10” names to avoid. There are the names of former girlfriends and boyfriends to avoid.

I just wonder, will David and Samantha allow the radio station to pick their wedding date to happen before or after their baby is born? Careful Steve, you’re getting a little too judgmental here. Who said you have to be married to have a baby? No one, I suppose. Then again, who said the proud husband and wife should be the one to choose their baby’s name?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Wacky World of Lawsuits

Two recent lawsuits have made me stop and think a little. The first one comes from New Jersey. It seems that a New Jersey woman has sued her orthopedic surgeon after awakening from surgery to find a temporary tattoo below her panty line.

Elizabeth Mateo, of Camden County, New Jersey, filed her lawsuit Tuesday saying she found “a temporary tattoo of a red rose” below her panty line the morning after her surgery for a herniated disc, her attorney, Gregg A. Shivers, said.

Her surgeon, Steven Kirshner, does not deny he placed a tattoo on Mateo. His lawyer, Robert Agre, told the local paper that the doctor has left washable marks on patients before to improve their spirits as they heal. “What’s offensive about this complaint is that it suggests something he did was intended to be prurient, and nothing could be further from the truth,” Agre told the paper. “It was intended just to make the patient feel better.”

Hmmm…I wonder about this. How about you? Seems a little strange to me. Why not place the mark, if one has to be done, on her arm, or hand even. Why not write, “I hope you feel better!” on her bandage. Seems a little strange. A rose? The location?

The second lawsuit comes from Omaha, Nebraska. A hearing-impaired woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a local McDonald’s, saying workers there refused to let her order food at the drive-thru window.

Karen Tumeh of Lincoln says they insisted she either order at the electronic speaker along the drive-thru lane or come inside to order. Tumeh wears a hearing aid but still cannot hear while using the drive-thru ordering box at fast-food restaurants, according to the lawsuit.

At least three times since September 2007, workers at a Lincoln McDonald’s refused to let her place her order at the drive-thru window, Tumeh said. In denying her service, McDonald’s violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, she said. Tumeh’s lawsuit seeks to force McDonald’s to make accommodations for hearing-impaired people to order food in restaurant drive-thrus.

Tumeh is physically capable of walking inside to order, but that’s not the point, her attorney, Shirley Ann Mora James, said Tuesday. “She has children who are autistic, and if they’re having difficulties, it would make it problematic for her,” Mora James said.
“It’s not appropriate for a hearing-impaired person to be forced to go inside because of their disability, when ... other drive-thru, fast-food restaurants have a policy to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing people to order at the drive-thru window.”

Other McDonald’s restaurants in Lincoln have accommodated Tumeh, Mora James said.
“We have attempted to resolve this on many occasions and have unfortunately been unable to resolve this,” Mora James said. “So we were forced into litigation.”

Again, so many questions. However, I’ll focus only on the last statement, made by her attorney: “So we were forced into litigation.” Who forced them? Why was there force involved at all? Other McDonald’s served her, other fast-food places served her.

You know, many times in my life, I’ve gotten bad service at a restaurant or drive-thru. Not once did I ever think about suing! Not once. I did complain to the manager. I’ve even complained to their corporate headquarters. But suing? Nope. I just take my business and money elsewhere!

What do you think about these two suits? Thoughts? Comments?

When Is It Okay to Break the Law?

When I lived in Virginia, I first became familiar with the cameras that record if a person has run a red light. These cameras are positioned throughout Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

The principle on how they work is simple: the camera activates if you run the red light, takes a picture of your front tag and the driver, and sends a ticket directly to your home.

Well, a 44-year-old Arizona man has allegedly tried to fool the photo radars in his state that record a car’s speed. And, it actually worked for a while—until the police caught up with him.

Timothy Welsh allegedly used a permanent marker to change both the 3 and the 9 on his license plate to an 8. So, when his vehicle was nabbed for speeding, the ticket that was intended for him was actually sent to someone else.

Fox News reported that at first, Scottsdale Sgt. Jim Butera thought it was a mistake when a Phoenix man called him complaining he had gotten two speeding tickets mailed to him, but he wasn’t the one speeding.

However, when Butera looked at the photo and saw the man making an obscene gesture at the camera he thought, “[we] need to do some more investigating.” “He didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” Butera told the station. “But he admitted to everything that we accused him of.”

Welsh allegedly was going 14 mph over the speed limit and would have had to pay a $175 fine, but now, he’s facing a $1,500 fine and up to a year in jail.

These cameras and the ones I am familiar with in the Virginia area, seem to do a good job of reducing speed or people running stop signs or red lights. I guess it was only a matter of time before someone figured out a way to buck the system, or at least buck the system for a little while.

Do you think Mr. Welsh’s sentence is too harsh? Or, it is not harsh enough? If you lived in an area that had these cameras, would you be tempted to find a way around the system?

Before you think that question to be wrong in and of itself, think for a moment. Don’t people have radar detectors in their car for the same purpose—to break the law by speeding without getting caught? What’s the difference in a radar detector and changing the numbers on your license plate? Is there really a difference?

Isn’t breaking the law breaking the law, no matter how it is done? Or, if we speed down the interstate, with or without a radar detector, aren’t we just as guilty as Mr. Welsh?

Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where's My Sign?

Yesterday, I posted about the instructions I recently found on the Georgia Aquarium's Web site. The instructions were simple: No fishing poles are allowed inside the aquarium. Duh!

After posting, several comments were shared about additional signs--look back and see Karma and Tony's comments--they are so funny!

Those comments started me thinking about Bill Engvall and his famous comedy bit about "Here's your sign."

A couple of my favorites of his include:

"It's like before my wife and I moved from Texas to California our house was full of boxes and there was a u-Haul truck in our driveway. My friend comes over and says, 'Hey, You moving?' 'Nope. We just pack our stuff up once or twice a week. Just to see how many boxes it takes. Here's your sign."


"A couple of months ago I went fishing with a buddy of mine, we pulled his boat into the dock, I lifted up this big 'ol stringer of bass this idiot on the dock goes, 'Hey, yall catch all them fish?' Nope. 'Talked 'em into giving up.' Here's your sign."

Tell me about your favorite sign. No fishing at the aquarium has been taken, so pick another one.

Upon this Lego, I Build My Church

It appears that many leaders in the church have gone about building their church in the wrong way. Or, at least that's what this Lutheran pastor seems to think.

What do you think? Going to change how you build your church?

Monday, July 14, 2008

No Fishing Allowed

I was recently looking online at the Georgia Aquarium, one of the premier aquariums in America. As I was reading their FAQs, I came across one interesting tip for people visiting their place. The tip, and I kid you not was, “All guests must go through security checkpoints before entering the Aquarium. No guns, knives, lighters, matches, chewing gum, or fishing poles are permitted inside.”

Okay, I understand the guns and knives point. I can see why lighters and matches would be a problem. Not too sure about the chewing gum—unless some kids have been feeding it to the fish. But, that last part, the not bringing fishing poles in, that part concerns me.

That’s where the questions started in my mind:

1) Have they had a problem with fishing poles?
2) Did someone try to buy a fishing license at their front desk and they realized they had a problem?
3) Have they had fish missing and found on video that people were fishing?
4) Have people been setting off the medal detectors with their fishing poles?
5) Do you think they now need to add another line about "jugging"? If you aren't from the South, that reference may mean nothing to you!

When I read this, I literally had to stop what I was doing and laugh!

The Georgia Aquarium—no fishing allowed! Who would have ever thunk it!

What Happens in Vegas...

In almost every story, there is a good illustration just waiting to come out. I came across a good story, not sure how it would fit into a sermon illustration or as a speaking point somewhere, but I know one is just lurking around there somewhere. Maybe you can help me out with that!

It seems that a Las Vegas man may have lost his shirt at a casino. Well, that’s not really new news is it? But, apparently, this man may have also lost his pants, socks, underwear, and shoes as well.

Police in Las Vegas say they arrested a naked man who stole a beer and then hijacked a city bus several miles northeast of the Las Vegas Strip.

Police said the man fled from a convenience store when an officer arrived to investigate a report of a shoplifter. The man allegedly punched in a back window of a city bus, climbed aboard, forced the driver off, drove the bus about 200 yards, and then jumped off the moving vehicle. A police officer climbed aboard the bus and stopped the vehicle.

Police say the man was arrested on felony charges and given clothes and a mental evaluation.

I’m glad the man was arrested, I really am. I glad they gave him some new clothes too. But, I am really, really, really glad they gave him a mental evaluation. Sounds to me like he may have needed that most of all!

Okay, all of you readers out there. What observations can you draw from this story? Any applications that are fit to be printed here? Remember, keep it clean!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

One Question: Why?

I try not to bring controversy to my blog site. What I try to do is make us think a little bit, have some fun, and laugh at some of the crazy things we human beings do. However, every once in a while a news story comes around that literally makes my blood pressure go through the roof.

This news story did that to me.

It seems that a Kansas church plans a “gospel picket” at the funeral of 23-year-old Army Spc. Megan L. Touma, of Cold Spring, Kentucky. Police Sgt. John Somerindyke said that Westboro Baptist Church is seeking a city permit for July 16 to picket at her funeral.

If you aren’t familiar with Westboro Baptist Church, they are well-known for picketing and harassing mourners at funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They claim that war casualties are divine revenge for America tolerating gays and lesbians.

A fellow blogger friend interviewed a member of the church a few years ago. Click here to see the interview (be forewarned, the person being interviewed is extremely crude).

After reading the article about their permit request and seeing Kevin’s interview, I come away with many questions, but the one that stands out most in my mind is “Why?”

Why protest at the funeral of fallen American heroes?

Why hold crude and vulgar signs at funerals or anywhere for that matter?

Why be this kind of church?

Why scream such hatred?

Why be so vocal against anyone who disagrees with them?

Folks, I have a few answers, but I’d love to hear what you have to say. Got any answers?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Undercover Tattoos

This story originates in Des Moines, Iowa (you know, I never quite understood the pronunciation of that city! Maybe that is my southern redneck grammar kicking in, I don’t know for sure). But, I certainly did understand the story.

It seems that many of Des Moines’ finest will soon have to go undercover after the police department adopted a policy restricting body art (for my fellow rednecks, that basically means tattoos). The new policy says that any tattoos, branding and intentional scarring on the face, head, neck, hands, or exposed arms and legs are prohibited. The employees who already have tattoos are exempt from the new policy but they must provide photographs of their existing tattoos—I guess at some point, a new photo will have to be taken to ensure they haven’t added more tattoos, thereby breaking the department’s rules. (Maybe the department will need to set up a tattoo/branding/scarring investigative department to ensure compliance!)

Of course, you would know that the police union has spoken out against the policy. The union president (a Mr. Barnes) said the policy is unreasonable and he has filed a grievance.

Also, as no surprise, the policy chief, Judy Bradshaw, has defended the new policy. She says that tattoos distract from a professional image.

I love the last statement made by the Des Moines police union president. He said that his tattoos sometimes help with his job by providing a common ground with young people.

Oh, where do I start with this one? I guess a disclaimer is in order here. I don’t have any tattoos. I probably would, but I’m allergic to needles! Well, that’s not quite true, I’m more allergic to pain! I cannot for the life of me envision willingly having someone inject dye through a needle into my body over and over again! I just can’t see that happening!

I also don’t like the idea of thinking about what the tattoos will look like in 10 years or 20 years. You’ve seen older people with tattoos, right? The eagle they once proudly flew on their arm now looks more like a sickly or dead vulture! Or what about the people who have their husband or wife’s name tattooed on their body, only to divorce that person later! How would you like to be the NEXT spouse to have to see that tattoo every day for the rest of your life?

The police union president’s comment about the new policy really struck me. He said that it provided him with common ground to talk with the young people. Well, if that’s the case, is Mr. Barnes going to start wearing baggy pants to work every day? Is he going to proudly let everyone see his boxer shorts as his pants hang low? Is he going to get a nose piercing or lip piercing or worse?

At one time, police officers and fire personnel were people to look up to and admire—they rarely wanted to be seen like everyone else. They took pride in their appearance and demeanor. Apparently, some in Des Moines have a problem with that.

What do you think? Am I being too hard on Mr. Barnes? Am I being unfair to people with tattoos? Do you have a tat that you’d like to tell the world about?

As you have time, let me hear from you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Honey, How Was Work Today?

Sometimes, it is just best not to ask!

I don't know whether or not this video is for real, but it does depict how many people feel about halfway through the day!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Show Me the Money!

Why doesn’t anything like this happen to me?

Last week, a jailer in the St. Louis County (Missouri) jail made a surprise find in the bathroom of the St. Louis County facility’s intake center. The correctional officer found $55,000 stuffed behind a toilet paper dispenser!

Police Chief Thomas Byrne says the bundle of money was in $100 and $50 bills.

And, for the surprise of the day, none of the inmates who were interviewed knew anything about it. Can’t you hear the replies now:

Question: “Sir, is that your money?” Answer: “What money?”
Question: “Sir, is that your money?” Answer: “I don’t know nothing about no money.”
Question: “Sir, is that your money?” Answer: “I’m innocent!”
Question: “Sir, is that your money?” Answer: I didn’t steal no $100 or $50 bills!”

The police chief has indicated that the money has been placed in a special bank account until the rightful owner is determined.

Does anyone know the phone number to the St. Louis County Jail? I think I left a package there as I visited last week!

So, here' s the question for you, how will you answer it: "Sir/Ma'am, is that your money?"

Pet Owners Of America, Unite!

(Peanut Heartsill--Our Dog)

Well, I now know who I am voting for in the November General Election. Or, should I say that my vote has been decided for me. You see, there’s a new poll out (and we know that politicians—both the Republican and Democratic kind—live, and yes, die by polls). So, my vote has been determined for me.

The new poll says that if the presidential election goes to the dogs, John McCain is looking like best in show. Apparently, and I have no first-hand knowledge of whether or not this is true, but apparently Barack Obama does not own a pet, while John McCain owns more than a dozen pets.

The AP-Yahoo News poll found that pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain’s corner.

Need more proof of McCain’s landslide in November? Here are some personal testimonies that will really tug at your heart:

“I think a person who owns a pet is a more compassionate person—caring, giving, trustworthy. I like pet owners,” said Janet Taylor of Plymouth, Massachusetts, who owns two cats.

Richard Powell, 79, of Spokane, Washington, whose dog passed away late last year, said that if a person owns a pet, that “tells you that they’re responsible at least for something, for the care of something.”

Well, if voters identify with a guy who owns pets, it’s easy to see why they’d like the Arizona senator. McCain has a veritable menagerie, including Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black and white cat, a ferret, three parakeets and a bunch of saltwater fish.

The poll continued by finding that among people who don’t have pets, Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 34 percent. But, before you get all excited about that news, you have to remember that even that news leaves McCain looking strong, since the majority of American homes have a pet.

I doubt you will be surprised by this next bit of information: even though Obama doesn’t currently own a pet, he has reportedly promised his daughters a dog once the campaign is over. Smart move Mr. Obama! You might want to go ahead and get one now to ride with you on your chartered bus and plane.

There you have it. The campaign is over! The politicking can end today. Pet owners of America have spoken loud and clear! McCain for President!

Now, before you think I have gone off the deep-end and endorsed one candidate over the other, please re-read the post, this time with your sense of humor back in tact! Please! I have no idea who will win in November, well, that’s not true. I know that either Obama or McCain will win. It’s really up to you and me to decide that—and not some silly poll of pet owners!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The End of the Internet is Near!

The end of the Internet is near! As a matter of fact, according to one agency (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) the Internet will end in less than three years!

Are you ready for that? Who knew the end was so close? Maybe we need to get signs and stand on the street corner and proclaim “the Internet gospel” to all who will listen. Ready to form a group like that? Ready to take to the streets to warn about the death of the Internet?

Just why is the Internet dying—even though I didn’t know it was sick? Well, more than 85% of the available addresses have already been allocated and the OECD predicts we will have run out completely by early 2011.

They are not talking about the normal web addresses you type into your browser’s window (like What they are talking about are the numerical Internet protocol addresses that denote individual devices connected to the internet. These form the foundation for all online communications, from email and web pages to voice chat and streaming video.

When the current IP address system was first introduced in 1981, there were fewer than 500 computers connected to the Internet—so I think we can forgive the Internet founders (that was Al Gore, right?) for thinking that allowing for a potential four billion would last forever. However, less than 30 years later, the Internet is rapidly running out. Every day thousands of new devices ranging from massive web servers down to individual mobile phones go online and gobble up more combinations and permutations.

As addresses run dry we will all feel the pinch: Internet speeds will drop and new connections and services will either be expensive or simply impossible to obtain. The solution to the IP address shortage is an upgrade to new addresses that can accommodate our hunger for online connectivity. Such a system, called IPv6, was agreed upon more than a decade ago, providing enough addresses for billions upon billions of devices as well as improving Internet phone and video calls, and possibly even helping to end email spam.

So, put your thinking cap on with me. If you had to free up extra Internet space, what would be the first addresses you’d like to see let go? (And, if you say that mine should be the first, I might just have to hit the delete button on your comment! :) )

Give it a shot. How would you free up those billion or so Internet addresses that we will need if the Internet is to live? Time’s running out!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This Ain't No Bull!

I grew up in rural LA. Honest. I did! For those who didn’t know LA had a rural area, it does, when LA stands for Lower Alabama!

We lived about six miles outside of town, a very small town of about 8,000 people. On one side of our house was woods, on another side was an area where our neighbor grew corn, and behind my house was a pasture—where cows grazed. Oh, and there was one bull!

We loved going into the pasture. Most of the time, the cows and bull didn’t bother us. I think they were as scared of us as we were of them. However, I remember one day in particular, when the bull took exception to us being in “his” pasture.” Out of nowhere, the bull decided to charge my brother and me. As he did, we took off running. It quickly became clear that we could not outrun the bull. So, we began to look for a nearby tree to climb. All of the trees were too high and there were no branches low enough to reach.

Well, the bull continued to gain on us and we continued to run. We finally saw a tree that had branches too high to reach, but we ran toward the tree anyway. I think we were still trying to decide what to do. Well, believe it or not, we both jumped and landed on the first branch, just out of the reach of that angry bull. He stayed around for a few minutes before finally leaving us alone. I think he knew he had made his point!

Needless to say, we were much more careful the next time we strolled through the pasture! And, when we saw the bull coming, we went the other direction. Fast!

That’s what makes the annual story out of Pamplona, Spain, so crazy. Yesterday, crazy daredevils kicked off the running of the bulls through the streets of Pamplona. Yesterday alone, nine people suffered bumps and bruises. Fortunately, no one was gored.

The entire run takes about four minutes to complete. Monday’s run was the first of eight scheduled runs. Since record-keeping began in 1924, 14 runners have died, the last was an American, in 1995.

I’ll never be in the number of people who are trampled, bruised, or gored during that run. I will never be in the crowd of people to watch in person the running of the bulls—after all, all it takes is for one bull to lose his sense of direction and go after the crowd instead of the runners!

So, I’ll stay home, I think, and to be honest, not even watch the action on TV. Heck, once you’ve seen a person gored, do you really want to see another person gored? Not me! There’s already enough “gory” TV on! Sorry about that, that was just too easy of a pun to let it go.

So, does running with the bulls interest you? Would you ever try it?

Monday, July 7, 2008

When a Kiss is More Than a Kiss

Okay. This news story is just too good to pass up! Really it is!

Michael McCarty is a 20-year-old Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Georgia) student. He claims that he met his dream girl, a fellow college student, online five years ago.

Now, Michael is preparing to meet his online girlfriend for the first time. And, Michael is worried that he doesn’t know how to kiss her. So, doing what any modern male would do, Michael has turned to the Internet for help.

McCarty placed an ad on Craigslist asking for “a girl to please teach me to kiss.” He says in the ad that his online girlfriend “tells me it’s a big turn-off if a guy doesn’t know how to kiss, and she even dumped her last boyfriend because of this.”

McCarty continued by saying, “I want to make a good first impression, but I’ve never kissed before!”

Then, in what may be the biggest understatement of the century, McCarty admitted: “I guess I’ve been on the computer too much playing video games and not going out and meeting people as much as I’d like to.”

Do you think Michael!

Oh, there are so many angles to this story. Where do I even begin? Well, a good blogger friend of mine (Bill the Cycle Guy) likes to make lists. So, in honor of Bill, here’s my lists of questions:

1) Michael is planning too far ahead! He’s already certain that he’s going to kiss his online girlfriend the first time they meet? Oh Michael, never make that assumption with a girl/woman!

2) You’ve been “dating” someone online for five years? Michael, there is a real world out there, with real people, and with real lives. Get out more!

3) Michael said, “I guess I’ve been on the computer too much playing video games and not going out and meeting people as much as I’d like to.” Anyone out there disagree with that assessment?

4) Your online girlfriend dumped her last boyfriend because he couldn’t kiss? How long ago was that Michael? You’ve been “dating” her for five years. Has she been dating anyone else during these last few years. Maybe she’s out of practice herself and won’t know the difference! And, if she has been dating someone during these past few years, you’ve got bigger problems than knowing how to kiss her.

5) What ever happened to romance? You meet someone. Hang out together at church or the mall or McDonald’s. Maybe hold her hand or put your arm around her waist or shoulders. Going straight for the kiss sure bypasses much of that “formality” I suppose. Maybe I am just showing my age.

Okay, blogger friends. Jump in here. Tell me your thoughts about Michael? Any words of wisdom for him?

Go to Church, Or the Devil Will Get You

(Click on photo to enlarge)

This past Saturday, my wife, son, and I went to visit my parents. It was a good visit and Evan (our son) seemed to have a great time. Why wouldn't you, if you have four people instead of just the normal two people, doting on you every minute you are awake.

On our way home, we passed a famous (at least in our parts of the world) sign. The sign, or a variation of it has been on the side of I-65 for years. The sign (shown above) is on private property, between the interstate and a beautiful lake (oh, how I would love to fish in that lake!)

Anyway, when a person first passes the sign, they may or may not fully grasp what the sign says. Look at the picture again. The sign's words are these: "Go to church or the devil will get you." On the sign, you see the devil (all red with horns, holding his pitch fork). Yes, all of the sterotypes of the devil you've ever seen all on one sign.

I've seen that sign hundreds of times. I passed it hundreds of times while I was in college, driving back from Birmingham to my hometown. I've passed it hundreds of other times as I have gone back to visit my parents.

Now, here's the question for you: Is the sign accurate? If we don't go to church, will the devil really get us? How are church attendance and the devil related? Are they related?

Well, in my many journeys down Interstate 65, and as I've passed that sign hundreds and hundreds of times, I've come to the conclusion that the sign is 100% incorrect! Church attendance doesn't lead to salvation nor does forsaking it lead to damnation in hell. In other words, you can go to church and the devil can still get you or you can stay away from church and not be "gotten" by the devil. Church attendance does not insure our right standing with God.

Still with me? Think I am being unspiritual or evil in my theology? Well, I hope you are still with me and I really hope you don't think I am being unspiritual or evil.

Let's think about what that sign portrays. The sign is negative in its message. Basically, the sign's owner "preaches" a message that paints an incorrect message about what it takes to avoid hell and satan and eternal damnation. His viewpoint is that going to church provides escape or salvation from hell.

That simply isn't true. Church does not save us. Church does not bring us into a correct relationship with God. Church doesn't even keep us from the devil.

How can I know for certain? Well, two ways. Let me start with a personal illustration. Until I reached 15 years old, I was living a life away from Christ. There was not a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Oh, I was fairly good. I attended church regularly. As a matter of fact, I received an award for not missing Bible Study for over four years! Four years, I never missed church. But, at no point in those four years did I have a personal relationship with Jesus.

In Baptist circles, we would describe that as being lost! However, on March 4, 1976, as I sat in church, I heard basically the same message I had always heard, but on that day, it made sense. I got it! I knew I was lost and that I needed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. On that winter morning, I committed my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

And guess what? From that moment to this, my salvation has been in Jesus Christ. Again, to use a Baptist term, I'm saved! I'm redeemed! I'm forgiven of my sins! Other than being in church that day, church had nothing to do with my salvation experience--my salvation experience happened because of Jesus Christ and my acceptance of Him! In that regard, church did not bring salvation. Jesus Christ brought salvation!

That's the personal illustration, now let me turn to what the Bible says, this part matters far more than what I said anyway. In John 3:16, Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but receive eternal life." Did you notice? Church isn't mentioned anywhere in there! How do we escape the snares of satan? Simple: believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

One more verse. In John14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but through Me." How do we reach heaven? How do we receive eternal life? Again, simple: a relationship with Jesus Christ!

So, friend, the next time you are driving on I-65, near Prattville, Alabama, slow up just a little. If you are driving South, the sign will be on your left. (So, obviously, if you are driving North, the sign will be on your right :) ). Notice the sign. And as you do, remember, the sign is 100% incorrect! Period! Wrong. Incorrect. Inaccurate. False! No where close to being true.

Church, going or not, will not lead you to or away from the devil and hell. Only Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life. Only Jesus!

Now, once you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, church is a pretty good place to be! After all, satan really hates it when we worship God, sing His praises, pray to our Heavenly Father, and give our tithes and offerings. Oh, how he hates that!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Making A Difficult Decision

I've got a difficult decision to make.

And, I really don't want to make a decision in this case. I really don't!

I suppose the details of the decision might make a difference as I seek help or guidance. But, then again, I'm not really sure the details make a difference in this case. In general terms, decisions are decisions, right? The details are insignificant, right?

How do you settle such difficult decisions? How do you decide which choice is best, or if either choice is right?

In this situation, various people are involved and the decision will have long-term ramifications. I don't want to hurt someone's feelings over my decision, but a decision is needing to be made and it needs to be made quickly. And, as those decisions are made, people will object to the choices, no matter what choice is made.

I know the value of prayer and I've prayed. I know the value of talking out these types of decisions with people who know you best. I've done that.

Still, there's no resolution to the problem. And, from where I sit, there doesn't seem to be a quick resolution to this issue. Nor easy resolution. Or even a reasonable resolution.

So, here I sit. Waiting on God. Waiting on some sign. Waiting on some words of wisdom. Waiting.

I'm sorry, I'm not the most patient person. I will admit that. I like to determine what the problem is, study the options to solving the problem, and then take action. Sometimes, those actions come slowly, some times they come swiftly. But, I do like finding and implementing solutions.

But, in all honest, there are times solutions don't seem to come at all. Not at all.

What do you do?

How do you choose?

How do you know whether the choice is from God or from your own impatience?

At this point in time, I'm not sure there are answers or that I even need answers from others.

I'm just struggling to find some 1, 2, 3 solutions, I suppose.

Thanks for listening. Or, at Eeyore often said, "Thanks for noticing me!"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Build It and They Will Come

Fact or science fiction? Can it be both?

Well, an Italian architect said he wants to find out. And, we shouldn’t have long to wait to see whether it will happen or not. The architect is ready (or so he says) to start construction on a new skyscraper in Dubai that will be “the world’s first building in motion,” an 80-story tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape.

The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile cement core, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the Persian Gulf and the city’s futuristic skyline. A few penthouse villas would spin on command using a voice-activated computer. The motion of the rest of the building would be choreographed in patterns that could be altered over time.

Speaking recently at a news conference in New York City, the building’s designer, David Fisher, said that his tower will revolutionize the way skyscrapers are made.

Fisher acknowledged that he is not well known, has never built a skyscraper before and hasn’t practiced architecture regularly in decades. But he insisted his lack of experience wouldn’t stop him from completing the project, which has attracted top design talent, including Leslie E. Robertson, the structural engineer for the World Trade Center and the Shanghai World Financial Center.

Twisting floors are just one of several futuristic features in the building, the first of several Fisher hopes to build with a similar design. Giant wind turbines installed between every floor, he said, will generate enough electricity to power the entire building, and lifts will allow penthouse residents to park their cars in their apartments.

Fisher said each floor will be prefabricated in an Italian factory, then shipped to the site to be attached to the core. Assembling a building in this fashion, he said, will require only 80 technicians and take only 20 months, saving tens of millions of dollars, for a total cost of $700 million to build.

On its face, the project seems to pose a number of complicated engineering puzzles.
How would the plumbing hookups work in an apartment that is constantly moving? Fisher said the pipes will connect to the core via attachments similar to the ones used by military aircraft for in-flight refueling.

Wouldn’t people get dizzy? No, says Fisher. The rotations will be slow enough that no one will notice.

With so many moving parts, wouldn’t the building be a maintenance nightmare? Fisher said the building’s modular construction will allow easy access to parts that need to be replaced.

Fisher declined to say exactly where in Dubai the tower will be built or when site work might begin. He insisted, however, that factory production is set to start within weeks and that the tower, which will contain office space, a luxury hotel and apartments, will be complete by 2010. Sales of individual apartments will begin in September, with asking prices of around $3,000 per square foot. The smallest, at 1,330 square feet, would cost about $4 million and the largest, a 12,900-square-foot villa, $38.7 million.

Skeptics question Fisher’s credentials to pull off the job. In a biography he had been distributing for months, he said he graduated from the University of Florence in 1976, came to New York in the mid-1980s and later developed hotels and ran a company that specialized in stone and prefabricated construction materials. The biography also said he received an honorary doctorate from “The Prodeo Institute at Columbia University in New York.” No such institution exists, however, and Columbia said it had never awarded Fisher an honorary degree. Asked to explain the discrepancy, Fisher said, through his New York publicists, that he had been awarded the degree by the Catholic University of Rome during a ceremony in 1994 held at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, which is near Columbia’s campus.

Here are some general observations:

1) This man has never built skyscrapers but is planning a $700 million dollar, 80-story project? Wouldn’t you think it would be wise to start with a 5-story building, or maybe a 10-story building to make sure it would work?
2) Have the people of Dubai lost their mind? Or are their skulls simply filled with so much oil money that they can’t see straight?
3) How long will it be before Michael Jackson buys one of the suites?
4) If you could park your car in your apartment, would you do it?
5) I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my house going in circles! If I wanted my house to move, I’d move to California’s earthquake zone or closer to the Mississippi River!
6) If you can sucker enough people, I mean build enough support, you can build just about anything you want to build!
7) I will not be one of the original investors or purchase one of the apartments later. On my salary, I can’t even afford to travel to Dubai.

So, if money were no object, would you buy into this project? What interests you about it? Or what turns you off about it? Share your thoughts today.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm Going to Rip Them Apart!

Normally, I print a news item, public interest story, personal story from my own life, or even a video, and then share my comments or observations. Today, I’m breaking from that tradition and simply sharing the news story. No comment from me whatsoever. What do you think?

From Fox News:

“The father of a Florida girl abducted and buried alive in a trash bag by a sex offender has blasted a Massachusetts politician who said he’d have to torment young victims on the witness stand if mandatory sentences for offenders passed the state Legislature.

“Mark Lunsford, whose 9-year-old daughter died in 2005, told the Boston Herald that Rep. James Fagan, a defense attorney, should take the rights of victimized children seriously.

‘Why doesn’t he figure out a way to defend that child and put these kind of people away instead of trying to figure ways for defense attorneys to get around Jessica’s Law?’

“Lunsford told the paper. ‘These are very serious crimes that nobody wants to take serious. What about the rights of these children?’

‘Fagan came under fire last month for remarks he made about young victims during a debate in the Massachusetts House on the state adopting Jessica’s Law, which would require a mandatory 20-year sentence for the rape of a child under age 12.

“‘I’m gonna rip them apart,’ Fagan said of young victims. ‘I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.’

“Fagan said as a defense attorney it would be his duty to do that in order to keep his clients free from a ‘mandatory sentence of those draconian proportions.’ Those comments drew the ire of local activists.”

What do you think? Comments?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama

This is just wrong. It is wrong, wrong, wrong. Did I say how wrong it was?

There is no other way to describe what you are about to see. It is wrong!

The video below is of a Finnish rock band called: THE LENINGRAD COWBOYS performing the State Anthem of Alabama (or is that the National Anthem of Alabama) before a group of screaming RUSSIAN teenagers. As you watch the video, be sure to watch for the choir backing the group up. The choir is the former official SOVIET RED ARMY CHOIR now known simply as the RED ARMY CHOIR.

I want to send a protest statement somewhere, I just don't know where!

Any suggestions on who to write? Where to send the complaint letter? What do you think?

The Actions of A Child

What were you doing when you were three-years-old? Don’t remember? Well, neither do I. My first real memory comes from when I was four-years-old, but I don’t remember anything before that time.

My, how times have changed.

A Guthrie, Oklahoma, three-year-old recently saved her mother’s life, using something her mother had taught her. The little girl used a simple song lyric, “911 green”, to call 911 and get help after her pregnant mother fainted.

Jessica Eaves had taught her daughter, Madelyn, the song a week before she fainted due to a medical condition called vasovagal syncope.

When the 24-year-old and 3-months-pregnant Eaves fainted, Madelyn picked up her mother’s BlackBerry phone. She pressed 911 and the green button and was connected to a dispatcher. Just recently, the 911 call was made public. In that recording, you hear Madelyn being able to answer questions about her house and cars outside that led emergency workers to the home.

What may be even more amazing is that this wasn’t the first time Madelyn has used a phone to call for help for her mother. Eaves first learned of her condition a year ago and taught her daughter the lyrics “green, green, green.” When Eaves lost consciousness back then, Madelyn picked up a cell phone and pressed the green button which called the last person Eaves had called and that person called for help.

Wow! Am I impressed! Then again, I’m also depressed. In looking back at my preschool years, I never did anything significant like saving a parent’s life. I never rescued a friend from a burning home. I don’t think I even brought the dog inside when it was raining.

As a preschooler, I spent most of my time playing outside, playing games with my brother and friends, and just having a good time. Nothing serious. Nothing special. Just being a kid. A normal, healthy preschooler.

I am so impressed by Madelyn and her heroic acts of saving her mother. However, I would give a word of advice to her mother, if she asked for it. She might want to consider subscribing to one of those push-button services that calls for emergency personnel in the event of a crisis! At some point, Madelyn is going to be in the yard playing, or upstairs playing with her Barbie, and not be there to save her mother. So, my word of advice would be to prepare before the next fainting spell comes.

Madelyn, you are a smart little girl! I know your mother is proud. And, so am I!