Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Generation Has Ruined Facebook


I first joined Facebook, believe it or not, at the insistence of my kids who thought it would be a great way for me to stay in touch with the youth group kids who had gone off to college. That was maybe eight years ago, and I am here to tell you that we have ruined Facebook for everyone else.

Facebook used to be this crazy, exciting, borderline profane place for college students to have this huge conversation about crazy, exciting and borderline profane things. Now, we grown-ups have turned it into a den of lies and posing through the practice of “Facebragging”. You know exactly what I’m referring to, don’t you? There’s that mother of three angels who treats us to this status or something close to it every morning…”My adorable husband got up early today to fix me a homemade croissant and I’m eating it out by the pool along with my freshly brewed cappachino with the soft wind blowing through my hair as I read my favorite devotional. God is so good!” This status hangs heavy with the clear implication that “…and in my case, he has reason to be!!” Or there’s that middle aged man in denial who posts something like this, “Just got back from my 10 mile morning run in 73 minutes, A NEW RECORD! Now I’m hopping into the shower, then heading to work where I think I’m going to win Agent-of-the-Month…again! Why does God love me so much?!!”

If you’re wondering why Facebook is now losing members and its share price is in the tank, you need look no further than your newsfeed. Gone are the inappropriate pictures of drunken sophomores, gone are the to the death arguments over who was a better band, Pearl Jam or Nirvana. Now we have 50 year olds posting idyllic Instagram photos of their new puppies, old ladies posting political conspiracy theories about Obama being from Mars, and a plethora of those insipidly cutsie Hallmark formulations like, “My Sister, My Friend…share this if you love your sister, ignore if you don’t”

So, kids, let me be the first to apologize for screwing up your perfectly fine social website. In the interest of honesty and in an attempt to inject a little realty back into the medium, how’s this for a status:

In the last 24 hours I have dealt with a severely painful degenerative shoulder, the humiliating purchase of a CPAP machine, and a violent bout of diarrhea. My 55th year is off to a blazing start!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Molly Update II


Everywhere I go people ask me how Molly is doing. It’s very gratifying to hear how concerned my friends are about her, and it also demonstrates the incredible emotional power that animals have in our lives. So many people have told me their own stories about a beloved pet that had to be put down and how horrible a thing it was to do. And yet, somehow in the telling, they are transported back into great memories of their time together, and soon the stories begin, stories of humor and tenderness, that make the pain of loss somehow worth it in the end.

Molly has good days and bad. This past Thursday was a bad day. She had no appetite, was listless, and showed no interest in even being patted. Every now and then she would let out a soft groan where she lay on the floor, as if in pain. I began to think that the decision that I haven’t wanted to even think about was at hand. But then Friday morning she began to rally. Her appetite returned along with some of the old perkiness and enthusiasm for snuggling. Before the end of the day and ever since, she has been something approaching her old self.

I gave Molly her weekly bath Saturday, and was reminded that she indeed is sick. As I ran my hands across her back and sides I could feel her ribs and the hard edge of her backbone, something I have never been able to do before. I had to take extra gentle care, since at times she stiffened at my touch. This was particularly sad since she has always loved bath time. Now, it seems a labor.

But, she still eats, goes to the bathroom and seems happy and engaged, so I suppose that the round- about answer to the question, “How is Molly”, is Molly is doing alright. For me, the hard part is the waiting. I so wish that I could look into her eyes and ask her how she’s feeling and once, just one time, she could answer me in English, “I feel like crap, Dad. Its time.” or “I feel perfectly fine! Don’t worry about me. You’re doing a great job.” But she doesn’t speak my language. She speaks a dog language full of feeling and intuition, packed with raised eyebrows, cold nose nudges and heavy sighs. I must pay close attention, or I’ll miss something.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

42. Go See It!


Went to see 42 last night. As a baseball fan, I had been waiting for this film for quite a while. The story of Jackie Robinson is the best and worst of baseball living together in the same story. It took two very special men to pull off the intergration of Major League baseball in 1947, and this film did a nice job of telling the story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey.

Harrison Ford was sensational as Rickey, the Methodist, cigar-chewing old codger, and owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Chadwick Boseman, who I have never seen in anything before, played Robinson with athletic if not dramatic skill. Although the movie was a bit slow in places and entirely too long, I thoroughly enjoyed it, because it remained true to the history.

As we were leaving, I asked Pam what she thought. My wife isn’t exactly the world’s most rabid sports fan, to say the least. But, she liked the movie a lot, except she said something that is both very true and profound at the same time. She said, “I liked it, but it had a Hallmark feel, like a made for TV movie. But, come to think of it, most baseball movies are that way.”

It’s so true! Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, A League of Their Own, Pride of the Yankees were all that way. The reason is simple. At its heart, baseball is a romantic thing. Football is about testosterone and violence, basketball is about urban machismo…baseball is different. Baseball has a rhythm, it has a season. It’s about streaks and statistics. Baseball lends itself to conversation. One can attend a baseball game and talk about life at the same time. People fill out their score sheets, eat popcorn and talk about their kids between innings. In the seventh inning, everyone sings. Romance. Baseball has its share of violence. There are, after all, bean balls, bench-clearing brawls, plays at the plate, that sort of thing. But baseball has never been ABOUT the violence. We fall in love with the players who demonstrate the most grace on the field. That outfielder whose long strides make his diving catches look effortless, the left-handed hitter with that silky Ted Williams swing, that amazing rookie who runs the bases like his cleats are on fire.

Sadly, baseball no longer has the appeal it once had; it no longer holds the entire nation in sway every summer. We are a nation who very much likes its violence, and prefers its grace in small doses at church. But for me, baseball is still king. I prefer its unhurried pace, the absence of clocks. Must everything be timed? And I suppose I will always be a sucker for baseball movies, despite the Hallmark qualities.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Five Presidents


The dedication of the George W. Bush presidential Library yesterday was an amazing thing to behold. There, on one stage were the five living Presidents. All of them gave short speeches, and with a few exceptions their remarks were full of grace and class, and appropriate dignity. Watching the thing made me realize that there must be something wrong with me, because for the life of me I couldn’t help liking all five of them. Partisans on both sides of our political divide are always disgusted by these sorts of events. Their views of history and politics are so heated and passionate, that giving kudos to the other side for any reason and at any time seems traitorous. But what I saw were five basically good men united by love of country and a mutual acknowledgement of how monumentally difficult is the job of President.

There was George Bush the elder, 88 years old, feeble yet universally respected. A man who defied his wealthy Dad and ran off to serve his country in World War II as a pilot even though his wealthy background could have guaranteed him a less dangerous place of service.

There was Jimmy Carter, the sometimes stern and uninspiring man from Georgia with the awkward manner and in many ways disastrous Presidency, who nonetheless has managed to redeem his legacy by his amazing post-presidency works of charity. By all accounts, a decent man, without guile.

There was Bill Clinton, the lovable rogue from Arkansas who disgraced himself and his office by having sexual dalliances with a 21 year old intern. In other words, he made the mistake of committing adultery in the era of cable television. Certainly I am not excusing his behavior, just pointing out that previous Presidents guilty of the same offences had the advantage of a disinterested press and the relative anonymity of the pre-television era. Despite his failings as a husband, there was always something endearing about Bill. He was “Bubba”, and everybody from the south knew someone just like him, someone they kinda liked anyway. Clinton loved his country and still retains the optimism we so desperately need in our leaders.

There was President Obama, who except for the crass and untimely attempt to advance his immigration legislation, managed to give as graceful and magnanimous a speech as one could ever want from a sitting President at the Library dedication of his predecessor. Even though my views about Obama are widely known to readers of this blog, there are times when he rises to the occasion beautifully. He has it within him to make us think about noble things, bigger and grander things than mere politics, and when he chooses to, it’s an awesome and moving thing to behold.

Then, there was George W. His was a tragic presidency, born in controversy, and possessed and overcome by the events of 9/11. There was much for a libertarian like me to find objectionable. His was not the most fertile mind to ever occupy the oval office, but he also wasn’t the dullest. He seemed to revere the Presidency, as if he knew that he occupied it largely because of an accident of birth. His respect for the country and its traditions demonstrated how much he loved America. His ability for self-deprecating humor and his always optimistic, if sometimes na├»ve view of America’s place in the world was admirable. Most Americans could easily imagine having a beer with the guy, and for me that counts for something. I prefer approachable Presidents.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that these five men all pissed me off very many times as President, but I believe in my heart that each of them are good men, men who loved their country and tried to the best of their understanding and ability to make the country better. If that makes me insufficiently partisan then, so be it. God bless each of them.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

OUTRAGEOUS


I woke up this morning in a bad mood. I didn’t sleep well; I’m worried about Molly who didn’t have a very good day yesterday, my shoulder is killing me, etc. etc…

Then I read a story on Politico about “secret, high level talks” taking place in Washington between John Boehner and Harry Reid, the purpose of which is to find a way to exempt the 535 members of Congress and their staffs from the most egregious provisions of Obamacare. It seems that Boehner and Reid are concerned about the financial strain that will be placed on them by forcing them to purchase coverage from the insurance exchanges that Obamacare has set up for the rest of us. The financial hit that many of their aids will be forced to absorb might result in many of them pursuing job opportunities in the private sector. The resulting “brain drain” would cripple Congress’ ability to find competent staff.

After reading this article, my bad mood quickly escalated to Death-Com 5 rage. Is it even possible for Congress to suffer a brain drain? Don’t you have to already possess a brain before it can be drained? So, our brilliant elected officials, 18 months AFTER passing this 2000 page boondoggle, finally discover that one of its unintended consequences will result in employees changing their behavior to avoid its provisions? Imagine that. And, what about the rest of us not politically connected enough to apply for a waiver, what are we to do?

While I have no problem believing that Harry Reid and the Democrats would try to exempt themselves from Obamacare, if John Boehner goes along with it, then would the last person leaving the Republican Party please turn out the lights on your way out? My feeble, clinging to life, support for the GOP is about to disappear forever. I am sick and tired of politicians from both parties writing laws for the rest of us but conveniently exempting themselves. If Obamacare is good enough for us, it’s certainly good enough for the people who thrust it upon us. If it’s going to be a disaster, all of us need to share the pain, especially its authors.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sleep Apnea, and Darth Vader


Nothing is quite so boring and depressing than writing a blog about one’s health problems, which is why I usually don’t. But today I will make an exception because the cure for this particular health problem is something that I desperately need to openly mock. Perhaps by heaping upon it mounds of ridicule, snide remarks and sarcasm, I will be less repulsed by the thing. So, here goes.

About 15 years ago, my doctor became convinced that I had sleep apnea. He convinced me to go have a “sleep study”, which involved going to this office building at 10 o’clock at night, being hooked up to ten machines, with electrodes attached to every square inch of my chest, and the being told to relax and go to sleep. While doing so, I was filmed and observed by a guy in a lab coat in some other room down the hall. The next morning, I was given a thick printout and told to take it to my doctor for analysis. It was determined that I indeed had rather severe sleep apnea. Then, my doctor introduced me to the cure, a loud and beastly machine the size of a mail box that would sit at my bedside, to which I would be tethered by a six foot long unwieldy tube. This tube would snake and kink its way from this machine to a Darth Vader look-alike mask that covered my entire head. Pressurized air would somehow be shot through this tube into my nasal passages curing me of sleep apnea and insuring years and years of peaceful sleep. I took one look at this death star device and couldn’t stop laughing. Thanks, but no thanks.

15 years later, I suppose I still have sleep apnea and I’m still alive, so clearly all the doctors were idiots. Only problem is, every morning I wake up feeling as if I have just run a marathon. Pam woke up the other night from a dream and couldn’t get back to sleep and witnessed my feeble and desperate attempts at breathing and sleep at 3 am in the morning and became concerned. This time, my “sleep study” was performed in my home with just a couple of belts around my chest and no lab coated creeper lurking about down the hall. The results were unchanged. I still have sleep apnea, and a pretty serious case of it.

I will here clearly admit that the past 15 years has brought much technological advancement in this area of medicine. The bedside device is now the size of a clock radio. The masks are smaller, lighter and dare I say…more stylish? The air pressure pumping through the tube is quieter, the entire experience much less intrusive and cumbersome, or so I’m told by the slick salesmen at American Home Products, the “industry leader in sleep apnea devices”.

Still, the thought of being hooked up to a breathing machine every night isn’t exactly the stuff of sweet dreams. My brother in law has been a huge help since he has been using the very same machine for several years now and raves about the results ie…feels rested and energetic every morning, no longer snores etc.., doesn’t fall asleep in meetings anymore.

So, I suppose I will give this contraption a try, although there’s no law that says I have to like it. But the first time Pam says, “ssshshshshshshs, Luke, I’m your father. Sssshshshshshshs…”, that’s it, I’ll be done!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Difference Between Men and Women. # 116


It’s time for me to buy some clothes. For 95% of women reading this blog, that sentence probably sounds like a cause for wild celebration, for me, not so much. I like the clothes I have. I’ve become accustomed to them, I like the way they feel and fit, and I especially like the fact that I’ve already paid for them. But every couple of years, it begins to dawn on me that maybe that shirt I love so much with the frayed cuffs is starting to look a little ratty. Maybe those dress socks with the small holes on the heel need to be replaced. Maybe it’s time to make rags out of that really comfortable turtleneck that Pam despises.

So, I’ll head out to Men’s Warehouse or Khols or someplace like that and wander around the store for awhile feeling vain. Then I’ll see a couple of nice casual shirts, flip over the price tag and see $78.99 and remember how much I hate shopping for clothes. The tag will say, “Made in China, Thailand, Mexico, India”, anywhere but here. Then the nagging question will enter my mind, I wonder what 12 year old girl working 12 hours a day for 5 bucks a week sewed this baby together? But I will not be overcome with guilt or indecision because I am on a mission, a fashion renewal mission, and I will not be deterred.

When my wife goes clothes shopping, more often than not it ends in bouts of tears and self-loathing. She can’t find the right color. When she does, she can’t find a size that fits her. When she finally finds the right color and size, some piece of the thing won’t “lay right” and looks stupid. Twelve hours, eleven stores and four miles of walking later she comes home with one cami and an empty giant sized milk shake cup from Chick-fil-a. But what Pam hates even more than one of her clothes-shopping ordeals, is the results of one of mine.

Once I overcome the guilt of reaping the benefits of cheap Asian child labor, I get down to business. I find me the gayest looking sales guy at Men’s Warehouse and we become best buds. Before I know it he’s laid out a week’s worth of clothes on a display table. He explains how each of the shirts is perfect for my “skin tone”. He picks out perfect ties to match the dress shirts that he assures me are the very latest thing for the conservative businessman. I try everything on and everything fits because “Gustav” has measured my every body part with his handy tape measure. This procedure takes a bit too long and he seems to be having way too much fun, but he’s the pro, and it must be done. I look in the three way mirror, hoping nobody I know walks in and I must admit that Gustav is right. I really do look “fabulous”. Before I realize what’s happening, everything is piled up at the cash register. Gustav is thrilled, and I just spent $500. The entire experience takes 45 minutes.

I come home, show Pam all of the new threads and she says that I look great. Then she looks me straight in the eye and says, “I hate you.”    

Monday, April 22, 2013

Best Fully-Clothed Love Scene EVER

http://www.youtube.com/embed/pYlPKnNnhaw" (Watch AFTER reading the following blog)

Pam and I were watching Skyfall last night on demand, and there was a great scene where Eve Moneypenny was shaving 007. It lead to a conversation about how pervasive nudity has become in films and how so much of it adds nothing and in many cases detracts from a film's value. This particular scene was an excellent example of how unnecessary nudity is to the sensual mood being conveyed.

Then I started thinking about all of the incredibly sensual scenes from movies made in the Forties which had no nudity...EVER. I thought about the electricity between Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca, the simmering sexuality yet amazing sweetness between George and Mary in It's a Wonderful Life when Mary is on the phone to her "boyfriend" in New York with George listening in on that old hand held receiver phone. Not a word is spoken as they listen in just inches apart. The scene goes on for what seems like forever as the two of them come under so romantic a spell that it makes the viewer want to scream out, "KISS HER ALREADY!!".

What got me thinking about this was a movie that Pam and I saw not long ago with Denzel Washington called "Flying". We both love Denzel so we figured with him in it, it was probably pretty good, so I paid the $5.99 and rented it. Terrible. Washington's character was about as horrible a human being as could be imagined and no one else in the picture was much better. But what made it even worse was the amazing amount of totally gratuitous nudity. Now, don't misunderstand me, I love the feminine form as much as the next guy, but I also think that the human body is a sacred, special and intensely private thing that shouldn't be paraded around and gawked at for entertainment purposes. I'm just tired of it, the objectification of woman AND men has reached ridiculous proportions in film. If this makes me an old fuddy-duddy then, so be it.

Lest you think that fully clothed, intensely powerful and sexual scenes are impossible and went out of style in the Forties, I submit for your consideration the link I have provided at the top of this blog post. It comes from a fair but not great movie made in 1996 called "Phenomenon". This scene features Kyra Sedgwick and John Travolta. I consider it one of the most tender, evocative love scenes ever filmed. Both actors remain fully clothed throughout. There is no vile language, or double entendres to gum up the works. It's simply beautiful and uplifting to watch.

More of this, Hollywood. More of this.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Molly Update


It’s been 5 days since we received Molly’s terrible diagnosis from the Vet. This is unchartered territory for us. We were told to keep her comfortable and that we would know when it was “time”, and that her days were numbered in weeks not months. It is a strange thing to live with the immediate expectation of death, but that’s the only way I know to describe it. Every morning I walk down the steps not knowing what I might find. Will she be swollen up, wracked with pain and in misery? When instead she greets me with a goofy smile, tail wagging away, I breathe a sigh of relief… such a strange way to exist.

Pam has devised a sort of “bucket list” for Molly. Leave it to my wife to turn to organization and planning to deal with this. She has come up with a list of Molly’s favorite things to do and is busily checking them off. Yesterday she went to Deep Run Park for a walk. This was the park that was Molly’s great hangout back when she was a rambunctious and out of control puppy. She would run and sniff and flirt with everyone she saw. There would be no running yesterday, but she had a grand time anyway.

So far Molly still has her appetite and her bathroom skills are still fully functioning. She still begs for food at the dinner table, still lays at Pam’s feet in the kitchen when she’s preparing meals hoping for a mistake, and still shadows our every move. In other words, Molly is still Molly. Half the time we wonder whether it’s all just a mistake, a misunderstanding, and Molly has cashed in a misdiagnosis by turning it into an opportunity for even greater attention than she normally gets. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. I can imagine her thinking, “Man-o-man, my folks sure are getting soft in their old age! First, Mom has bought me two chew toys in the last three days, and now I’m getting steak right from the grill?? Wow!”

We obsess over every limp, even the smallest swelling in her legs. But so far, so good.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chapter 20 of my unnamed novel...

This is the latest chapter of the book I've been writing. Just thought I would post it here to get your comments and feedback. The story is not about dogs, but one is introduced into the story here. I guess since Molly has been so much on my mind, it would inevitably come out in the writing. Hope you like it!
 

 

 

                                                            20.

 

 

It was a beautiful night, one of those mid April Spring evenings before the pollen had come, before the winds had cast a dewy yellow film over the earth. Percy had found some khaki shorts knotted up in his chest of drawers along with a UVA tee shirt. He dug out the flip flops from the back of his closet, and within minutes had a steak cooking on the grill on the back deck.  He poured himself a beer and listened to the sizzle of the meat on the low gas flame. There was a bird, loud and rhythmic singing from the top of one of the huge pines in the back yard.

 

He was alone, and trying to come to grips with being alone. Although he no longer longed for her, he still missed Beth, missed the friend that she had become, missed having someone to care for. He had taken the time to reconnect with some friends from the church that he had been a member of for most of his life. It was more accurate to say that it was his parent’s church, but it was also his, if in a less consuming way. He had stopped going when he was married to accommodate Beth, and honestly hadn’t missed it much, although it had cost him some friendships, friendships that he had started to rebuild by going every other Sunday or so, and playing on the softball team. It was strangely uncomfortable at first, but after a while it actually felt nice to be a part of something again, the softball team more so than the church. Pastor Riggs looked 100 years old. He had stood in that same pulpit practically every Sunday for 40 years, and as Percy sat and listened to his first sermon in over a decade it occurred to him how difficult it must be to come up with something interesting to say after 1800 sermons. For Pastor Riggs it had turned out to be impossible. It was as if Percy had never left, like Riggs just started up where he had left off when Percy had walked away, with some boring story about the children of Israel being disobedient about some such thing and God sending down thunderous judgment upon them. But Riggs was a good man, a kind and loving man, and in the end, that’s what the members of Fairview Baptist wanted. They wanted a man who would care for them, who would marry them, bury them, and visit them when they were sick, a man without spiritual ambitions. When Percy lay in the hospital after trying to kill himself, Riggs had been there… for his parents. The first words that he had spoken to Percy after he had regained consciousness had been to say how he had missed seeing him in church on Sundays. It was what the world was about for Albert Riggs; it was about who was there and who wasn’t there, and it was his job to keep score.

 

The steak was delicious, tasted like the outdoors. After dinner it began to get dark, and Percy sat on the sliding swing looking out over the expansive yard. The clothesline was still strung tightly between two rusted metal T-shaped poles that Gilbert had pounded into the ground with a ten pound hammer a hundred years ago. There were the mammoth pine trees, at least four feet in diameter that rimmed the property line in the back, the wild, out of control forsythia bushes blazing in bright yellow that separated Gilbert’s yard from the neighbors. Soon the crickets would start to sing, and if Percy closed his eyes it would be like he was seventeen again.

 

He saw him limp out from the forsythias, favoring his left front paw. He didn’t recognize the dog from the neighborhood. He looked thin and rough the way dogs do when they spend all of their time outdoors roaming around. The dog held his head high, the smell of meat in the air, then saw Percy on the deck. He cocked his head to one side as if to get a better look then began trotting painfully towards the deck. Percy smiled and walked down the steps to get a closer look himself. He looked like some sort of mix, probably some lab in him. His coat was blond, short haired and filthy. No leash, something wrong with one of its ears, like he might have lost part of it in a fight. But despite his pitiful condition, the dog was not afraid or shy, and limped straight up to Percy with bright eyes and what looked like a delirious smile, and laid down right at his feet.

 

“Well, hello.” Percy knelt down and looked more closely to make sure the dog didn’t have mange. “What’s your name boy?” The dog sat up and extended his wounded left paw to Percy. “Paw giving you trouble boy? Got something stuck in there? Let’s take a look.” A dime sized burr had lodged itself into his paw pad. When he tried to remove it, he pricked his own thumb and blood bubbled up quickly. “Damn! No wonder you’re limping boy.” Percy ran into the house, found some pliers and a couple of dish rags that he soaked under some warm water from the faucet. When he returned to the deck, the dog had jumped up somehow onto the sliding swing and had his left paw extended out, waiting patiently. One firm tug with the pliers removed the burr, and the dog had let out a small yelp, but then had jumped down from the swing and walked over towards the grill, nose high and sniffing.

 

“You look like you could use a meal, boy, but let’s clean you up first.”

 

Percy spent the rest of the night reclaiming the dog from neglect. There were scratches all over his legs, his coat infested with ticks. Percy went to the tool shed and found a metal wash tub, filled it with warm water from the kitchen and gave the dog a bath with his Old Spice body wash. The dog didn’t fight the attention, and seemed to be overjoyed with the suds. At some point during the bath Percy found himself calling the dog “Sam”. It seemed right, seemed to fit the irrepressible spirit of this abused animal. After spraying him off and toweling him down, Percy noticed how thin he was, his ribs tracing curved arches along his sides. “You hungry, Sam?”

 

Sam raced up on the deck and stood looking through the screen door, tail wagging, at Percy scrounging through the refrigerator looking for something that would serve as dog food. Percy looked back over his shoulder at the dog’s grateful face, then reached for the remaining New York Strip. He placed it on the cutting board and sliced it carefully into small squares, then placed them on a plate and sprinkled some grated cheddar cheese on top. He ran some cold water into a large cereal bowl, and returned to the deck.

 

“Sam, I’m not sure if this is the best thing to be feeding a starving dog, but it’s either this or frozen pizza.”

 

Percy placed the food and water on the ground in front of Sam, then sat down on the swing expecting a vociferous display of bad eating manners, but Sam looked down at the food, backed up a step and looked back at Percy as if in disbelief. The dog had just been presented with a meal fit for a King, and he had hesitated, taken the time to stare at Percy with eyes wet with what looked like gratitude. “Go ahead and eat Sam. It’s for you boy.”

 

Sam then lunged at the plate and devoured every morsel, licked all the bloody juice clean, and drank the bowl dry. He then gave his new clean body a mighty shake and walked over to the swing and laid down, resting his head on Percy’s feet. Percy reached down and scratched the top of his head. “You’re a good boy, aren’t you Sam?”

 

Percy would have to ask around the neighborhood tomorrow, see if anyone knew the dog’s owner. But for tonight, he would sit on the deck and let this dog warm his toes against the cool breeze. They sat together for the better part of an hour, until it began to get chilly. Percy went inside and found an old blanket in the top of the linen closet, folded it into a three foot square then placed it beside the screen door under the green and white striped awning. “You can sleep here tonight Sam. That way if it rains, you’ll stay dry. Tomorrow, maybe we’ll see about getting you a collar and some real dog food, ok buddy?” Percy had already decided that Sam was his now. If he had a previous owner, he couldn’t be much of one to allow the dog to reach such a state. All night Percy lay in bed thinking of things to do for Sam. He would build him a dog house, or maybe even let him sleep inside. He would have to find a Vet, and get him checked out, of course. It had been years since Percy had had a dog, since high school. He would have to read up on the best dog foods, buy him some toys to play with. Maybe he would have to build a fence to keep him from running off; roaming around free might prove a hard habit to break. He had finally fallen asleep some time after midnight.

 

The next morning, his eyes opened and for a few minutes he lay awake feeling a strange expectation, an excited brightness, a surprising gratefulness for the day. It was Saturday, or maybe Sunday, whatever, he was going to spend it taking care of his dog, getting to know this amazing gift that had limped into his back yard, with the power to infuse his life with an almost electric sense of purpose. Percy bounded out of bed, skipped past the coffee maker to the screen door of the deck and threw it open. Sam was gone.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Meet The New Terrorists.


As of 6:35 am on Friday April the 19th, we know that the Boston Marathon bombings are the work of two Chechen brothers. The eldest was killed by Boston police in the wee hours this morning, with the youngest, one Dzhokhar Tsarnaez, 19 still at large. We know little if anything about their motivation. We know nothing about whether this was meant as some political statement, or just the work of two homesick kids longing to recreate life back in their beloved Chechnya. You remember Chechnya, right? That troubled district of the old Soviet Union which fought and won a bloody war with Moscow in the early 90’s for independence, then fought and lost another war ten years later. The Chechens were known for their ruthless tactics and seemingly self-destructive tendencies, willing to take ten blows in order to deliver one. Oh, and the population of Chechnya is 90% Sunni Muslim, so there’s that.

So, other than the fact that his name would make one heck of play in Words With Friends, we know nothing about this boy. But knowing nothing is very different than saying nothing. The one thing that the Boston tragedy has taught me is that modern journalism means never having to say you’re sorry. A news network can now make any claim they wish, and no matter how spectacularly wrong they turn out to be, nobody loses their job. Fog of war and all I suppose. In this they are assisted mightily by the internet, which in the first ten minutes after the first explosion had already posited a thousand theories about the motivation of the bombers since it was obviously the work of redneck Tea Party militia groups pissed off about tax day. Or maybe it was illegal Mexican immigrants who had flooded over our porous southern border, taking a break from becoming registered Democrats, or perhaps just your garden variety Islamic terrorist trying to bring back the glory days of the 5th century. No matter what the truth turned out to be, the narrative had already been written and published.

But, I never saw the prediction that it would end up being a couple of Chechen brothers, which just goes to show you that life is full of surprises. There will always be an aggrieved group somewhere flying under the radar waiting for their big chance to inflict carnage on free people. So, now we can expect a series of editorials from the New York Times…”The Chechens. Why Do They Hate Us?”  Our policemen will be warned not to engage in Chechen profiling. Incidents of violence against Chechen-Americans will become epidemic. Some Congressman will call for a boycott of all imported Chechen products only to discover that Chechnya exports nothing…but Chechens. Noam Chomsky will publish a pamphlet entitled, “America’s Shameful History of Chechnya-Hatred”.

Meet the new threat. Same as the old threat.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bad News About Molly


Pam and I got the bad news yesterday that Molly has a rather advanced malignant carcinoma. We were told to keep her comfortable as long as we can, but that at some point very soon, we will have to make the decision to put her down.

I have thought of little else since. For the most part, Molly has been able to keep her condition from us, showing few outward signs of distress. In hindsight it does explain some things. We just thought that her refusal to climb stairs, and her occasional bathroom accidents were just because she was getting old. Now we know just how sick she has been. Despite the cancer, she still eats well, still wags her tail with delight at the slightest morsel of attention she gets from us, still looks at us with those wet brown eyes full of love and loyalty. It’s hard to believe that she is dying.

So, we will watch her carefully, and cherish each day she has left. Thirteen years ago on Christmas Eve, I laid on the floor at Gayton Animal Hospital and held my first Golden Retriever, Murphy, as the vet put him to sleep. He had been with us 14 years. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. Molly will be different. I don’t know that I have ever loved an animal more than I love Molly. Although in 11 years she has never once uttered a word to me, we have communicated in a thousand other ways. She has a powerful intuition about all of us, she senses when we are upset, knows when something isn’t right and instinctively comes to our rescue with a nudge of her cold wet nose, or with a ball in her mouth. It’s the sort of presence that can’t be replaced.

God knows how hard our lives can be on this earth, he knows that there will be periods of depression and hopelessness for all of us. So, he allows us the privilege of a dog. When we experience their unconditional love and devotion we are reminded that things will get better. When I look at Molly I sincerely hope to become half as good a man as she thinks I am.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston


Like everyone else, I was glued to the television yesterday around 5 in the afternoon. I had gotten home from work when I noticed the voice of Brian Williams of NBC news from the corner of my family room. The screen was filled with chaotic, screaming people running around through thick plumes of white smoke. It took five minutes or so to piece together what had happened, that someone had set off two bombs within yards of the finish line of the Boston marathon, right across the street from the Westin Hotel at Copley Place where I had stayed the last time I was in that city, two years ago. There was an aerial shot of the sidewalk covered in blood; there was footage of bleeding victims being whisked about in wheel chairs. Literally before the blood on the sidewalk had even dried there was a former Congressman from Boston telling us that this tragedy was evidence of why we need a robust and fully funded government saying, “No tax cut could ever help us recover from this.” Nicholas Kristof, a columnist from the New York Times took the opportunity to blame Republicans for not approving President Obama’s nominee for Director of the ATF. More than one MSNBC talking head made the observation that this was April 15, tax day, and also Patriot’s Day, very important days for “militia groups” around the country. You know, just sayin’.

We live in a time where everything is politicized. I have no doubt that if those responsible prove to be from Iran, Republicans will use that fact to push us to embark on yet another Middle Eastern misadventure. If the bombers end up being from some environmentalist, or Occupy Wall Street affiliated group, conservatives will rail against the administration for being “soft on liberal hate groups”. If, on the other hand, the guilty parties end up being from some Tea Party, or anti-government militia group or even worse, a white-supremacist group, the left in this country, along with 90% of the media will eagerly pile on, blaming Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, etc…

I have no idea who was responsible for placing two bombs in two trash cans loaded with ball bearings designed to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible. In fact, I don’t even need to know WHO did it, to know that it was evil and reprehensible.  No political cause can justify it; there exist no extenuating circumstances that can condone it. It is simply the act of a deranged and despicable mind. To attempt as some have to score political points, or to use this nightmare to advance a political agenda, is as predictable as it is infuriating. But for the good of the country, my hope is that the murderer is one of us. My biggest fear is that if it turns out to be some Al Qieda nutjob, we will get drawn in to another whack-a-mole war somewhere in the vast wasteland that is the Middle East. Enough already.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What...ME Worry??


One of the many benefits of keeping a journal is that it serves as a history book. Although, history books written by those who lived through it aren’t the most reliable accounts, since they are inherently biased, they are useful in other ways. For one, it allows you to realize how cyclical are the vicissitudes of life, and how wise and true are the words from Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

I was wondering recently how this blog would read ten years from now. Would I laugh to read how upset and worried I was about some news item from 2013 that ended up being nothing at all to worry about? Would I shake my head in astonishment at how much I fretted about inconsequential things? Would I wonder why I never mentioned other things that ended up being much more critical? As an experiment, I dug through my old journals and found entries from 2003, and 1993. Here’s what I found.

In 1993 I had two children less than seven years old, I worked a lot harder, never worried about politics, and seemed much more spiritually minded. My journal entries were mostly about the difficulties of being a parent, the wild and capricious nature of my business, and the daily struggles of being a Christian. I was much more connected to the church then through a Sunday school class and various Bible Study fellowships. The entries were less sarcastic, with less jaded opinion and more charity to my fellow man.

By 2003, my children were teenagers, and my every spare moment seemed to be consumed by the latest happenings in the youth group at Grove. My comments about work and the world seemed more anxious. The daily gyrations of the stock market were a subject of frustrated fascination, and I seemed much less interested in “the church”, and much more interested in “the kids”.

One thing that was consistent in both of these random years was that there were always things to worry about, and probably 90% of the things I feared the most ended up never happening, or if they did, the consequences proved to be much less catastrophic than I had feared. The biggest difference between today and my writings from ten and twenty years ago seems to be the fact that back then, I worried almost exclusively about things that directly affected me or my children. Now I tend to worry about larger, philosophical things, existential things, and political things much more than I ever did before. Maybe that’s because I’m not as worried about how my kids are going to turn out, they seem to have turned out quite well after all, so I have to worry about something else. Maybe things are worse now in the world, or maybe I’m so bombarded with news of how worse the world is that it consumes me more than it did twenty years ago before the internet and cable news.

The lesson I take from this experiment is that no matter where I am in life, there will always be things to worry about and almost none of them will end up coming to pass. Maybe all of us need to lighten up, and enjoy the day in front of us since it’s the only one we’ve got.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Sick Dog


Before I begin today’s blog, can I just say how horribly tedious the internet can be? I just got finished reading a review of the newly released movie, “42”, the story of Jackie Robinson’s rookie year in the majors. I have been waiting for this film for what feels like years now. The story of Jackie Robinson is essentially the story of America coming to grips with the darkness of racism, and the dignified grace of a true trailblazer and one of this country’s finest athletes. The reviewer loved it and I can’t wait to see it. Then I noticed that there were 75 comments to follow. I made the mistake of wading in to this anonymous cess-pool of ignorance, and any good feelings I might have had from reading the review were destroyed by the idiotic, but totally predictable statements. Instead of a robust discussion of Jackie’s struggles, his friendship with Pee Wee Reese, or the complicated motivations of owner Branch Rickey, I was treated to a cat fight between those blaming all liberals for the destruction of the black family, to those blaming all conservatives for the slave trade( I kid you not!). You know what? How about I just stop reading comment threads?

My dog is sick, in fact, she’s a hot mess. We recently noticed some swelling in her back legs, along with some difficulty she is having urinating. Her appetite isn’t as voracious as usual, her eyes are itchy, and now her rear end has started to swell. So we got a rare Saturday appointment at the Vet. Molly was poked and prodded, blood samples were taken, and other tests were run. Through it all she was an angel, only barking whenever anyone entered the front door of the building making the doorbell ring! Like I said, she’s a mess. There are some troubling bumps under her armpits which the Vet suggested might be tick-born, a reaction to being on Prednisone all of her life or…cancer. We won’t know anything until Monday, when she goes back for a follow up. We have some new medicines to give her for the swelling and the pain that she must be in from the looks of it. When the bill came to “only” $235, I was thrilled, which should tell you something about how much money we have spent keeping this dog well all of these years. But if I had it to do all over again I would spend every penny…and more.

Molly has pried her way into the heart of my family since the very first day we brought her home as a puppy 11 years ago. It’s hard to imagine any dog who has had a cushier life, or any dog who has been so universally adored by everyone she meets. Her gentleness, and genuine love of people and their attentions is the stuff of legend. Hundreds of teenagers from Grove, college students from Cedarville and Belmont have fallen under her spell. As someone who has had a dog for nearly all of my 55 years, I can say without contradiction that Molly is both the most intelligent and most obedient dog I have ever owned, an extraordinarily rare combination.

I will do whatever I have to do to prolong her life as long as that life is pain free and she is happy. It will cost whatever it will cost. Some things are more important than money.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What To Make Of Gun Control


Four months after the Newtown shootings, the lions of the Senate have finally gotten down to a floor debate on “gun control” legislation. For four months we have been treated to one staged photo op after another, both sides trotting out their expert witnesses, grieving parents being manipulated, NRA warnings of black helicopters coming for our guns. So, what to make of it all?

A disclaimer: I do not own a fire arm, no shot gun, no rifle, no hand gun, although I do own a Daisy Powerline 35 BB gun which I use with deadly effect on the marauding band of squirrels that constantly harass my back yard. I do believe that the 2nd Amendment to our constitution means what it says, that citizens have a right to keep and bear arms. I also believe that our country has changed radically since that Amendment was conceived, and whether or not it is still applicable in a modern police state is a fair question.

As I understand the proposed legislation, high capacity magazines(more than 10 rounds) will be outlawed, and universal background checks will be required on all sales of guns, even at gun shows etc. Private sales between individuals would be exempt in a compromise deal reached between Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, the senators from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

First of all, if you believe that this proposal will do anything to prevent another Newtown, you are delusional. This law wouldn’t even have prevented…Newtown, much less the NEXT Newtown. Why do politicians do this to us, provoke the entire country into apoplectic rage over a law that will change NOTHING, and have zero impact on crime? Because, when something terrible happens, when the illusion of control evaporates, when we are all forced to stare evil in the face, the democratic response is always to “do something”. We must pass some law in the conceit that it will magically transform our character. In a nation with roughly 250,000,000 guns in circulation, the chances that one of them will wind up in the hands of some psychopath is virtually a sure thing. Any law that falls short of confiscating all privately owned firearms is tilting at windmills and every Senator in DC knows it, so why all the histrionics over background checks? Ahh yes, the slippery slope. Give an inch on background checks, and before you know it, there will be a national gun registry, and as sure as day follows night, some jack-booted fascist from the government will bash in my door and separate me from my Daisy Powerline 35. Well, they’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead fingers…no wait, maybe not; I still have that sling shot from high school.

In a sane world, no one would object to a background check before being allowed to purchase a gun. Jeeze, I have to sign a million forms to buy a car and nobody bats an eye. Most people would agree that there is a legitimate roll for government to play in this since guns have the power of life and death. The problem is that our trust and faith in government has been so eroded by their incompetence, and sheer stupidity that no one feels good about granting them the tools needed to get the job done. Frankly, the government has no one to blame but themselves in this regard.

So, pass the law or not, it will change nothing on the ground, but no matter, a campaign issue will have been manufactured, and the fund raising letters will start to fly.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My April Fool's Scorecard For 2013


April Fool’s Day is the one day on the calendar each year where my natural personality characteristics are mainstreamed and magically become acceptable. For a world class practical joker it is a one day vacation, something close to what a nine year old child feels on Christmas morning. Last year was the great Year of Jubilee for my officmates since the 1st of April fell on the Lord’s Day. But this year, I was loaded for bear, courtesy of a care package that arrived from my sainted niece from California. I was actually away from the office on April the first, but everyone knows that there’s a seven day grace period since it’s actually April Fool’s Week if you take the time to study the ancient manuscripts in the original Greek and Hebrew.

In previous years my pranks have consisted of most of the old reliables, Vaseline on door knobs, toothpaste on white toilet seats, rigged showers of orange ping pong balls, cloves of garlic implanted in the mouthpieces of phones, that sort of thing. But life is about change, and with the explosion of technological advances, pranks need to be brought into the 21st century. So, this year I went high-tech.

Victim #: 1

There’s a guy in my office who is terrible on the computer. Frankly, none of us are very good with them, but this one guy really struggles. So, I slipped this cool device into one of the ports on the side of his laptop that plays amazing tricks on its victim at random times. Suddenly, the all caps feature engages, or random words start typing themselves, and then the mouse stops working all together. He was having a fit trying to get into his banking website, cursing his computer and basically going nuts. It was everything I could do to keep from busting out laughing. The next morning I broke the news to him that he would not be needed a new computer after all. Classic!

Victims #2&3:

I placed a small quarter-sized device with a magnetic back inside the credenza drawer of one of my colleagues’ desks. About every 3-4 minutes this device would whisper in a very creepy male voice, “Hey, can you hear me?” It helped tremendously that this particular colleague was a girl. She began tearing through her desks trying to find the voice but since it only whispered at random times several minutes apart it was hard to find. When she did find it she slammed it down on my desk and said in a very disrespectful tone of voice, “You are so juvenile!!”

Next I placed the same device in her sister’s desk with similar results except that this one couldn’t find it and begged me to remove it since it was freaking her out. Honestly, I couldn’t remember where I had stashed the thing, but I eventually found it. Next I replaced the creepy voice thing with one that emits small computerized-sounding, high pitched beeps at random and variously timed intervals. (why don’t these people lock their doors??). All in all, it was a great day.

Maybe it wasn’t up to my previous standards, like the year I hung everything that had been sitting on a desk or credenza in someone’s office from the ceiling on long ropes made out of duct tape. This lucky person was chosen for this honor since it was her first year in the business, and her first year around me on April Fool’s Day. Come to think of it, she was the one who accused me of being juvenile. The great thing about that particular gag was the fact that when she opened the door to her office she had her cousin with her and was giving him a tour of her office! The look on her face when the door flew open was priceless. Juvenile indeed!!

So, the year 2013 has brought April Fool’s Day antics into the digital age. The mind boggles at the possibilities for the future!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Christian Optimist?


I recently was reading a review of David Stockman’s book, The Great Deformation. The reviewer made a statement that jumped off the page and smacked me in the mouth. It was this, “Once you stop believing in the future, you probably should stop talking about politics.”

Pick up any newspaper in the country, any day of the week, and spend 15 minutes skimming its contents and it is extraordinarily easy to fall into despair, no matter which side of the political spectrum you come from. The intractability of our problems seems permanent, governments at all levels a comedy of errors. The rate at which we are murdering each other in our cities is staggering. The mountains of debt we incur every day with no end in sight make it difficult to view the glass as half full.

But the story of civilization does have an arc, a narrative of progress that is undeniable. Every generation tends to view the past as the “good old days”, each generation’s elders hold the young in contempt. However, mankind has advanced in almost every measurable way over the past 4000 years. Who among us would prefer to live in the Middle Ages where a bout of diarrhea would result in death? Who would prefer the life of a working class tradesman in the London of Charles Dickens?  Abundant and clean drinking water, indoor plumbing and the warmth and cooling brought by electricity have only been around universally for roughly 2% of recorded history. Aren’t you glad and eternally grateful that you live in such a time? Shouldn’t we be grateful that we live in an age where dysentery isn’t the number one cause of death, where the average man and the average woman lived to the ripe old age of 35?

Most of the things I complain about in life, things like taxes, incompetent government, declining morality and the designated hitter are all things that must be judged in the context of history. Until 250 years ago “taxes” were called “tribute” and were extracted from you at the point of a spear or sword by marauding bands of Huns. Talk about incompetent government; try Communist China on for size during the Cultural Revolution or the Soviet Union in the 1930’s under Stalin? At least we get a watered down chance to vote our incompetents out every so often. As far as declining morality goes, it’s hard to find a people more morally bankrupt that Nero’s Romans, or the conquering armies of Alexander the Great.

As a Christian, I have a worldview that views history and its many twists and turns as a product of the Fall. This view presupposes that man is born sinful, not pure. We as a people are naturally rebellious, in need of redemption, heirs of our sinful and rebellious forefathers. Any progress that we make away from barbarism then is a result of the work of regeneration brought on by faith. A good argument can be made that the fruits of our faith have paid handsome dividends on this planet since many of the most successful engines of human improvement have their origins in Christianity, such as education, hospitals, benevolent and philanthropic organizations. It is also unfortunately true that Christian faith has also produced its share of darkness and death throughout history. The Crusades and the Inquisition were not exactly Christianity’s finest hours.

Still, I'll take this moment in history over 98% of what has preceeded it...and you should too. Chin up.

But just because I view the world from a Christian perspective does not mean I can respond to evil in the world by chalking it up to Satan and sit around waiting for the Second Coming. In other words I can’t withdraw from the mess in frustration and stop believing in the future. For all we know there’s some kid in a garage in Buffalo right now putting the finishing touches on a perpetual motion machine or some new form of energy that will transform the future, and provide the revenues to balance our budgets and pay off our debt with ease. Don’t believe me? The horse and buggy big shots never counted on Henry Ford. The kerosene lamp tycoons never saw Thomas Edison coming. The typewriter kings were sipping margaritas in Tahiti about the time that Bill Gates was horsing around with his personal computer pipe dream.

So, here’s to that rarest of human qualities, here’s to optimism.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kim il-Jong-sung-un Kim II


After four days away from the world, it’s Friday, cold and rainy, and I’m headed into the office. The world is back. But what an amazing four days it was.

I notice that while I was away, North Korean strongman, Kim Jong-un, son of Kim Jong-il, heir of eternal leader Kim il-sung has ratcheted up the rhetoric. While before he was vowing to only “settle accounts” with us, now he promises to rain down nuclear missiles on that hot-bed of Anti-North Korean activity…Austin, Texas. Great. That’s just what we need, more fuel for the Texas ego! I can hear it now, “We’re so bad-ass even the Koreeuns are scared of us! Hook-em  horns!”

Rhetoric aside, I find it hard to get worked up over threats from a country that just gave a State dinner to Dennis Rodman. How am I supposed to fear a country who releases a video of a “spontaneous demonstration” of a million of its citizens denouncing the United States, when all one million of them were spontaneously walking in perfect straight lines? And, all those Kim’s? How is one to keep up, especially since they all have the same tailor? At least Hitler had better uniforms, and that distinctive mustache.

Of course, with each new bellicose statement that flows from Kim’s mouth comes an equally ridiculous statement from some U.S. Senator’s mouth about how this all proves why we need some new 16 Trillion dollar weapons system, or how crucial it is for us to remain vigilant to threats from near and far. What it actually proves is how sand-poundingly stupid it is for 25,000 American soldiers to still be stationed in South Korea, 55 years after that war ended. South Korea is one of the richest most economically powerful nations on earth, yet they can’t afford to place their own soldiers on their own border? Since we’re still there, we become the targets of the latest Kim’s deranged rants instead of the nice South Korean government. No, the South Koreans are too busy making tons of money selling cars and refrigerators, since they don’t have to waste money defending their own borders. Come to think of it, we’re probably spending more money defending their border than we spend defending our own.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Missing Mom


Yesterday I woke up around 6 am on my birthday. I walked into the kitchen and made some coffee, then sat down at the computer. Pam and I had spent the previous two days here at Myrtle Beach having a marvelous time doing nothing, and I was looking forward to spending another fun day celebrating my birthday.

Then something strange happened. I saw my cell phone on the coffee table across the room. It occurred to me that Mom hadn’t called me yet, or maybe she had called and the phone was on silent and I didn’t hear it. Every year since I graduated from college and moved out, Mom has called me in the wee hours of the morning of my birthday. For a brief moment, I almost got up to check the phone to see if she had left a message. Then it dawned on me that Mom wouldn’t be calling today. This would be my first birthday without my Mom’s wake-up call in 34 years, and the first of many to come.

There will be many moments like this in the future I suppose, times when I realize that she is no longer here. Most days I don’t think about it. Life rolls on and obscures even the greatest of losses. Life doesn’t slow its pace to allow us to grieve in leisure. Bills still must be paid, appointments kept. But there will be days when her loss feels heavy and fresh, like on the mornings when the phone doesn’t ring.

I wonder how often Dad has moments like I had yesterday morning? How often does he expect a call? How often does he expect her to walk through the back door with a bag of groceries from Martin’s?

As Christians, we don’t grieve for the dead. My Mother is in a place of happiness and delight. We grieve for the living, for those left behind trying to fill the gaping hole left by the absence of one so beloved. With the passage of time, the pain of that absence will diminish, or so I’m told.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Birthday, and New Math


55 years old today. That’s 20075 days, or 481,800 hours. Since I’ve averaged roughly 7 hours of sleep a day, it’s actually only 341,275 hours, which means I’ve only been awake and fully conscious for 14,219 days. So, really, I’m only 39.

Then, you’ve got to consider the number of hours I have had to sit through business meetings. Can that really be considered, “living”? And what about the daydreaming I’ve done during boring sermons, chic-flicks, and women’s tennis? Oh, and what about all the power naps I’ve taken over the years? Although it’s impossible to affix an exact number to all of this, it is clear that upon deeper reflection, I am most likely still in my twenties.

On this special day it should be pointed out that despite what my personal calendar says, I am still younger than several people of note. I am 10 years younger than my older brother, Donnie. I am four years younger than Doug Greenwood, a year younger than Al Thomason. On the other hand, I will no doubt on this day be once again reminded that I am 10 years older than David Johnson, and many, many years older than all the boys I taught Sunday School back in the day.

It’s been a terrific couple of days down here in Myrtle Beach. Pam has been very sweet and considerate, remembering to speak a little louder so I can hear her, making sure I have my bran flakes for breakfast, that sort of thing. Just kidding,  although the other night when I ordered Jambalaya for dinner after 8 o’clock, she did ask if I had remembered to pack Pepcid. I didn’t, ordered it anyway, and slept serenely through the night…so there!

So far, on the “week of my birthday” celebration( a Dunnevant Tradition), I have gotten a Montecristo cigar, and a ride on the SlingShot Coney Tower at the boardwalk at Myrtle Beach. Click here to see the video.  It was about the coolest thing ever.

This morning it’s cloudy out with the forecast calling for partly cloudy skies and 61 degrees. I haven’t decided what I will do today, maybe some golf, maybe a lazy day of shopping, writing and eating. But since I’m with my sweetie it won’t matter what we do. Got a call a few minutes ago from one of my favorite boys from the Grove youth group days wishing me a happy birthday. Very nice.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Getaway 2013


First day of our spring getaway could not possibly have gone better. The weather was nice and sunny and the high temperature reached 72. Pam and I sat on the beach for a couple of hours. When the sun went behind the clouds it would get chilly, but just about the time you were getting uncomfortable, the sun would come back out and it would feel glorious again. Dinner was at T-Bonz over in Barefoot Landing. It was fine, nothing special. Filled up on fried pickles and it took my appetite away by the time the jambalaya was served. My bad.

It was so great watching baseball last night. It’s like all is once again right with the world when it’s opening day in America. All three of my teams won, the Red Sox, Nationals, and Braves. Some will scoff at the very idea that one could have “three” different teams in baseball. I make no apologies for my split allegiances. My oldest connection is with the Braves, the team that I have been with the longest. Their triple A farm team was in Richmond for 30 years so I naturally developed an interest in them. I go back to the teams with Hank Aaron, Dusty Baker, Phil Neikro, and Ralph Garr. Then I married a girl from Maine and got sucked in to the Red Sox orbit by my Father-in-law the year that Bill Buckner booted Mookie Wilson’s grounder in the World Series. Finally, when the Nationals moved from Montreal to DC, they became my “local” team. All of their games are broadcast locally so I’ve been able to see them develop from truly awful to spectacular over the last four or five years. I love their manager, their style of play, and many of their young talented players. Plus, unlike the Braves and the Red Sox, I actually get to go to see some of their games in person. Consequently, my enthusiasm for them has grown rather rapidly.

So, there you have it, I’m a Braves, Red Sox, and Nationals fan, and proud of it. How do I manage to watch a divisional matchup between the Braves and Nationals? It ain’t easy. What would I do if the Braves or Nationals end up in a World Series with the Red Sox? I would have the time of my life, THAT’S what.

So, today it’s 60, sunny, with little or no wind. We will laze around inside for the morning, then sit on the beach for a few hours, then clean up and head out to shop for a while before dinner. What a great idea this was. A huge shout out should go to my buddy Doug Greenwood for buying this adorable condo in the first place. That way, I get to enjoy it and he gets to pay the real estate taxes! It pays to be friends with a 1%er!