Monday, March 31, 2014

Stuff I'm Sick Of

I’m tired of rain and the low, dark clouds and sodden earth that come with it. I’m tired of those swiveled brown leaves that cling to the bottom branches of oak trees even while the higher branches are sprouting new ones. I’m tired of watching green mildew paint itself over every wooden surface in my back yard. I’m tired of that breathless smell of compost that rushes into the garage every time I raise the door after another soggy night.

I feel like taking every piece of furniture in my house to Key West and spreading them out on the lawn of the Casa Marina Hotel in the bright sunshine for a week to burn off the dross of winter. If it were only warm enough I would go outside and scrub that milky-white film of salt and snow melting chemicals off of my cars with my bare hands.

If I have been reduced to this by the unrelenting gloominess of this interminable season, I can only imagine how my Dad must feel. Day after day he sits in his chair, covered with blankets in his hot house watching the news. His exposure to the weather is limited to a glance out of the window and our complaints. I’m taking him to one of his doctors tomorrow. I hope it’s sunny and warm. I want him to feel the sun on his face. I want to feel the sun on my face.

There has to be a reason for winter, if nothing else than to make us appreciate spring, to create in us an expectation of something better. April is nearly here. It will be better, warmer and it will bring life.

We need it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Stephen Colbert Kerfuffle

I have a nit to pick. It concerns the misuse of language, and comedian Stephen Colbert.

So, Mr. Colbert finds himself in hot water, hoisted on his own petard, as it were. The faithfully liberal star of the Colbert Report, a late night show in which he plays a blowhard conservative, is famous for parodying political conservatives as racist, homophobic, cave men. Everyone yuks it up when the victims of the jokes are the Koch brothers, but when the punch line hits the wrong target, all hell breaks loose on the plantation. While targeting Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins (the right target) for his insensitivity to Native Americans for refusing to change the team name, the show’s Twitter account posted this:

“I am willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching Chong, Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,”(the wrong target).

Soon the twitter-sphere was hot with talk of boycotts. Someone named Suey Park, described in news accounts as a “writer and activist” fired back:

“#CancelColbert because white liberals are just as complicit in making Asian-Americans into punchlines and we aren’t amused.”

Here’s where my nitpick comes in. Of course Mr. Colbert, like any good liberal was horrified to find himself accused of racism, I mean, it’s literally impossible, the very definition of an oxymoron. So, he quickly fired up his own Twitter response:

“I just saw this comment and I share your rage.

I call barnyard manure.

Words have meaning. Some words are inappropriate modifiers in certain situations. For example, you wouldn’t describe a skinned knee as a “bloodbath.” To reply to negative twitter criticism of his unfunny joke with “I share your rage” is chicken feces of the highest order. First of all, nobody upset about the joke is enraged, and secondly, he no more shares this nonexistent rage than I share Brad Pitt’s good looks. No, this was false outrage designed to shore up his liberal white guilt credentials, and remind everyone that he is faithfully down with the struggle. Rage, my ass!

It is entertaining to see establishment liberals get a little bit of their own medicine, I must admit. A little schadenfreude is good for the soul. Let a conservative Republican call Barack Obama the “first clean African American candidate” and guys like Stephen Colbert would have material for a month of shows. But, a liberal Democrat who says it gets to become Vice-President.

So, have fun Stephen. Have fun stewing in your own juice.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lunch With a Wise Man

I had lunch the other day with a friend. He’s also a client. He’s in his 80’s but maintains the appearance of someone not a day over 65. We chit-chatted about family and the weather for a while but then the conversation veered off into more serious topics about which he has much more expertise and experience. I had sent him an e-mail several weeks ago asking for his guidance, and now I was getting it.

The guidance I was seeking was in the arena of theology, a topic rife with trip wires and land mines. Who better to ask than an octogenarian pastor with 60 years of ministry experience? If I would have recorded our hour and a half conversation, I could have made a million bucks!

He started out this way, “Doug, the first thing I should say is that I’m not going to be able to provide answers to all of your questions, because they have also been my questions throughout most of my life.” From a man who scaled the heights of his profession, who is widely respected for his intelligence and accomplishments, the first thing I get from him is…humility.

My questions for him concerned theological doubts that I have been struggling with, largely centered on the unanswerable questions of eternity and the complexity inherent in competing truth claims, etc.. I won’t go into the details here because they aren’t important. As I listened to him, I realized that my doubts have plagued much greater minds than mine. That, in and of itself, was comforting. Then he hit me with a series of amazing insights. I will paraphrase them:

“You know Doug, for years I used to get up every morning and repeat that great verse from Psalms, this is the day that the Lord hath made, let us be glad and rejoice in it. But I don’t do that as often as I used to. Now I find myself repeating another verse, this one from 2 Corinthians 10 that says: “..casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” You see Doug; there are some things that I’m never going to fully comprehend this side of eternity. It’s not anti-intellectualism to admit the limits of human understanding. So, every morning, along with all of my other problems, I hand over my doubts to God too.”

This from a man who has suffered great, crushing loss of those nearest and dearest to him, a man who along with great accomplishment, has also known great disappointment. Despite it all, he sits across the table from me confident, triumphant, and full of love for God and zest for life.

No, he didn’t answer all of my questions, partly because he doesn’t have the requisite ego and arrogance to assume that he could. But he did provide powerful insights that I hadn’t considered, insights forged through years of diligent study and observation. I came away thinking that there is room in Christianity for a quirky, over-thinking skeptic like me.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Vander Warner Jr.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Great Day to be an American!!

Yesterday brought the shocking news that the firm March 31st deadline for enrolling in Obamacare was being extended for anyone who could qualify for a hardship exemption. What qualifies as a hardship, enquiring minds might reasonably ask? Once again, breaking new ground in the brave new world of evolving legislation, administration officials say that simply checking a box will do. No confirming evidence of actual hardship is required. Everyone will be on the “honor system.” Is this a great country, or what?

I, for one, am ecstatic at this news. Not only has Obamacare forever transformed the meaning of the word “deadline”, this latest extension being the ninth of its kind, but we have now entered a new era that will go a long way in changing the relationship between citizen and government for the better. Thanks to President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, Americans have now been relieved of the onerous burden of proof!

I can hardly wait to fire my accountant. I’ve already called and left a message, but unsurprisingly, he hasn’t returned my call. This is the best I have felt about my government since they did away with the draft. Imagine how different April 15th will feel this year. All I’ll need to do is check a box attesting to the hardship I have endured trying to organize all of those receipts. Hell, now I won’t even need receipts. Now I can just fill out the EZ1040 form and estimate stuff. Seriously, this is the greatest day for taxpayers since the Boston Tea Party.

 Hold on a minute, my accountant is on line 2! Wait, er, what? You say that this deadline extension and honor system business doesn’t apply to the IRS??
Imagine that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Baseball. A Defense.

Despite the ridiculous weather that finds my local forecast for this Wednesday March the 26th calling for wind chills in the 20’s all day, baseball’s opening day is right around the corner. Yes, I am aware that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have already played two games in Australia, and no, I refuse to count that as opening day. Bud Selig is an octogenarian idiot.

This time of year always produces within me a desire to defend baseball from all of its distracters, since it has so many. Honestly, this blog isn’t written to persuade any of you, just to get a few things off my chest. What follows are the most popular complaints about my favorite sport and my pithy retorts:

  1. Baseball is too slow. Compared to what? The length of a baseball game is like a snowflake, no two are exactly the same. A 1-0 pitcher’s duel might be over in 2 hours, while a 9-8 slugfest might take 4, and don’t get me started on extra innings! The point is that baseball is a game played outside of time. There is no clock. Outside of the distances between the bases and the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, there aren’t even any uniform dimensions in baseball, making baseball the most individualized sport in history. Do some games take too long? Yes. Are some players annoyingly deliberate? Yes. But that just means that they are more fun to boo! Baseball is a game where you can actually relax while watching, have a casual beer and talk about life with a friend. Why is everybody in such a hurry to get back to the stresses of their lives? Chill out.
  2. Baseball has lost its popularity. True, so have marital fidelity, manners and the Protestant work ethic, so baseball is in good company. I freely admit that baseball is no longer the National pastime, having long ago lost that honor to reality television. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and I still hate it. Besides, popularity is fleeting. In 50 years, after the NFL has been sued into oblivion by all of its former players for turning them all into drooling paraplegics, baseball will still be here to pick up the pieces.
  3. Baseball doesn’t attract the best athletes. True. Dustin Pedroia looks like some guy who should be bagging groceries at Walmart. What is he, 5’7” 160 soaking wet? He would have to put on 30 pounds just to get a job as a water boy in football. But, so what? He’s a terrific second baseman and hits .300 every year. It bothers me not at all that Usain Bolt would lap him in the 100 meter dash. It’s baseball, not the freaking decathlon.
  4. Baseball doesn’t have enough black players. Yeah, well…we have a ton of Latin players. When was the last time you saw an All-Dominican backfield in the NFL? How come nobody complains about the relative lack of Hispanic players in the NFL? Yes, I’m aware that any list of the finest baseball players in history would have many, many African American players on it. And honestly, I think it is a shame that for whatever reason blacks seem to have abandoned baseball for basketball and football. But, there is no such thing as affirmative action in sports, no requirement that a roster reflect the racial diversity of the community. If there were such a thing, we would have to insist on more white guys in basketball, and who wants that??
  5. The baseball season is too long. Compared to what? A Presidential election campaign? 162 games is a long season, but baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a game that rewards long term consistency. The grind of the season exposes teams that are only good in spurts. The best teams in baseball lose 40% of their games. It takes awhile to separate the wheat from the chaff.

So, there you have it. Both America and baseball have gotten slow, lost popularity and have a problem with minorities.

Play ball!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The story appeared in London’s Telegraph newspaper. It has been discovered that over 15,500 “fetal remains” have been incinerated as clinical waste, some even used to heat hospitals in the Department of Health’s waste to energy plan. A Department spokesman, Dan Poulter, called the discovery, “totally unacceptable.”


For years now abortion advocates have struggled mightily to change the terms of the debate away from the child and onto the mother. We have been told that the debate is all about the mother’s rights. Any discussion of the child has been cleaned of all humanity references. The baby has been reduced first to fetus, and then to fetal tissue, even in debates on the floor of the United States Senate. We have been asked to view the miracle of the womb as no more than a medical condition over which only one person has any jurisdiction. So, once again I ask, why is the incineration of 15,000 aborted or miscarried babies in England, “totally unacceptable?”

Every week in every hospital around the world, clinical waste is produced. Everything from removed tumors, to amputated arms and legs, has to be disposed of somehow. I have always assumed that hospitals use some sort of incinerating device for this purpose. What makes fetal tissue so special?

I was born in 1958, the last of the four children of Emmett and Betty Dunnevant. When my mother announced to her friends that she was pregnant with me, many of them were incredulous. Mom and Dad were in a rough spot financially back then, having a difficult enough time feeding three kids. One particular lady told Mom that I made no “economic sense.” Sometimes when I discuss monetary policy, some of you think I still make no economic sense!

Lucky for me, in 1958 people didn’t view a gestating child with such clinically neutral ambivalence. There was less moral ambiguity about my value. While I might have been an unplanned accident, my parents thought of me as a divine gift. Fifty-five years later, when confronted with a story like this one in the Telegraph, pro-choice advocates are forced to explain why the incineration of 15,500 aborted and miscarried babies is such a bad thing.

Why, Mr. Poulter is this so “totally unacceptable?” I’ll tell you why. Because despite the sanitized, dehumanized arguments, despite all the talk of rights and reproductive justice, we all know in our hearts that every life is a gift, and that unborn child contains a spark of the divine. When we discover that they have been thrown in a “waste to energy” incinerator along with cancerous colons and gangrenous legs…it shames us. Still, it shames us.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I sat across from him watching him eat his breakfast. His hair was wild and disheveled. Pam had made him a ham and cheese omelet with a bowl of fresh fruit on the side. For the first time in a long while, I watched him finish everything on his plate. With great difficulty, I got him back in his recliner. We sat together for another half hour or so. I read him the Grove church bulletin, and a few of my recent blogs. He smiled a few times but said very little until I was about to leave when he told me how good his breakfast was and reminded me to give his compliments to the chef. I drove away feeling that familiar heaviness, that sense of loss, the great weight of decay.

I drove past the old parsonage where I lived for 12 years. It was old when I lived there, now it seemed ancient; the beautiful maple tree in the front yard with a gaping wound sliced through its heart by the power company to make room for the lines, the dogwood trees in the front yard all gone. All of the houses along the way that I remember from my childhood seem molded and worn, shrunken by forty seasons. I pulled up to the stop sign at 33 where the old beer joint, the Holly Inn, used to be. Now there’s a place where you can buy potted plants and wind chimes. It is on these drives home from my Dad’s when I feel most alone.

As I continue on I have an epiphany of sorts, although to even use such a word feels pretentious. It is a thought that I’m sure has occurred to at least a couple of hundred-million people throughout the ages, so there will be no Nobel Prize in my future for realizing that everything around me in the physical world is in decay. I glance down at my fingertips to stare at the newly arrived tiny lines that have sprouted up virtually overnight. I look into the rear view mirror and notice the deepening lines around my eyes and the new flecks of gray. Decay. I think about the car I’m driving and how spotless it was when I drove it home for the first time. Now, it carries the marks of use, a few dings, a white smudge of paint on one of the bumpers, and recently I’ve begun to notice several new squeaks and groans. My house, so proud and new when we had it built 15 years ago now begins to sprout cracks in the drywall. Decay.

I remind myself that ageing is often a good thing. With age comes experience, even wisdom. Some things actually improve with age, like cheese and wine. Some things get more valuable with age, like a coin collection or a vintage automobile. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, I suppose.

But as I pulled into the church parking lot, the thought came to me that the entire world, all of creation since the fall is in a rebellious state of decay. When I read a newspaper I see the brokenness everywhere, not a single corner of the globe is exempt. We are doing the best we can to fashion a fulfilling life out of a world gone to seed by our selfishness and inattention. We all battle against the decay, as we should, but the thought brings clarity to me, that in the battle between good and evil, right and wrong, we will always fight against powerful headwinds, this side of eternity.

I find my seat in the balcony. I listen to a stirring instrumental, the clear notes of a violin. I take the Lord’s Supper. I think about the stunning amount of hypocrisy in the church, including me. Then another thought rushes in, despite the manifold shortcomings of the church, where would the world be without it? What level of decay would exist if Christ had never come, if his teachings had never entered into the mind of man? Perhaps it is our feeble attempts to be our brother’s keeper that have so far spared us all the dystopian nightmare we fear is coming.

I drive away from the church and head for home. Once again I think of Dad and the decay that has wracked his mind and body. A dear friend I had just seen at church had asked about him. She told me that she had been out to see him a week or so ago and had really noticed his decline. Then she said, “Doug, I wonder sometimes why God leaves us here so long. It can’t be to teach Emmett anything, so it must be to teach us something.”

Maybe it’s this…there isn’t an infinite amount of goodness, kindness and holiness in the world; they are valuable and rare commodities and on this decaying planet we need all of them we can get.

So, Dad lives.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Life in the Country??

My son came home yesterday for a quick couple of days at the end of his Spring break. He had spent the first part of it in Nashville visiting Belmont friends. Last night we had dinner together, all four of us around the table, just like when they were kids. Then afterwards, despite all of the Master’s Degrees in the house, we all ended up sitting on the sofa watching funny dog videos on YouTube. Today, Pam is taking the day off to spend with the boy. At some point, shopping will be involved. Then tonight she is planning a “Dinner With the Dudes” meal for Patrick and his cousin Ryan, before they have to both get back to school. My wife is a dynamo.

 Yesterday afternoon was beautiful and sunny, so we opened up the windows. We love our house and have been very happy in our neighborhood in suburbia. However, it is not without its irritations. One of them is that most unnerving of sounds that always accompany good weather…the fingernails across a blackboard, wild banshee screams that proceed out of the mouths of the 16 rug rats who all decide to play right across the fence of my back yard. Yes, nothing says, “quiet evening on the deck” like a couple of eight year olds arguing over whose turn it is to beat the dog over the head with the whiffle bat. “GAAAAAAKKKKK!!! Give me that!!”

Anyway, out of the blue Pam says, “I think I’m ready to move out into the country. We can build a house with a first floor master bedroom so when we get old and feeble we won’t have to climb stairs, and we can build a basement apartment just in case Mom and Dad have to move in with us at some point or for when the kids come to visit, they can have a place for all of our grandchildren.”

I looked at her, not quite believing what I had just heard. She wasn’t kidding, and I am now absolutely convinced that I truly don’t understand women. In thirty years of marriage, the one thing that has been constant is the fact that Pam has never had any desire to live in the country. She is a neighborhood kind of gal who prizes shopping convenience above nearly everything else. Of course, I have always wished to live further away from the maddening crowds, with lots of land and wide open spaces. But, I have always firmly adhered to the life principle at the center of every successful marriage, “happy wife, happy life.” So, for all of our time together, we have lived in the bowels of Short Pump, the poster child of suburban convenience. We have enjoyed great schools, we hardly ever lose power in a storm, and we can literally walk to the nearest grocery store.

But now, after thirty years, the traffic is annoying, we’re growing weary of, “Mom!!!!! Billy is playing with a snake and Bobby won’t let me play with the butcher knife!!!” Plus, since our kids are grown, great schools have lost their charm.

Maybe she was just making an offhand throwaway comment that she won’t even remember if I bring it up again. On the other hand, maybe she was serious. Could it be? Just think of it! I could wake up every morning, walk outside and shoot squirrels with an actual rifle, and nobody would care. I could buy an old beat up pickup truck and park it out back without having to endure disapproving glances from the neighbors, especially since the closest neighbor would have to be using binoculars to see it! My next Golden Retriever would be able to run wild and free outside anytime he wanted. I would build a pool in the backyard and go skinny dipping anytime I felt like it. I’m telling you, the possibilities are endless.

No, she’s probably just messing with me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Dunnevant Method

While a 777 Malaysian jet is still unaccounted for, and Ukraine teeters on the edge of the abyss, this morning I turn my attention to the most pressing issue of this day, March 19, 2014. Yes, it’s time to fill out my NCAA bracket for the office pool. ‘Merica.

Each year, I mostly ignore college basketball except for the occasional contest between the University of Richmond and VCU. It’s strange really how this came to be since I used to follow the sport religiously 20 years ago. But somewhere along the line the sound of sneakers on hardwood started to get on my nerves, and I lost interest. Nevertheless, like all red-blooded men I am expected to fork over my fifteen bucks and fill out a bracket. So, here I am staring at this thing wondering when in the world did North Dakota State start playing basketball?

My process and strategy, such as it is, is to look at each match-up for no more than ten seconds before making my pick. Just like putting, the longer I take, the worse I tend to do. Don’t think too much Dunnevant, just go with your gut. But what happens when because of inattention all year, you have no gut feeling about say, San Diego State vs. New Mexico State? Well, I then look at the seed. San Diego is a 4 seed and New Mexico a 14, so clearly the powers that be think that San Diego is the much better team. However, this is the NCAA basketball tournament. Upsets are what makes this thing what it is, the Cinderella story, the underdog. So, then I look at their records. San Diego was 29-4 while New Mexico was 26-9, begging the question, how in the world did New Mexico State entice 17 schools to travel all the way to Las Crusas to play them?? Still lacking clear guidance, I ask myself, “Which one of these places would I prefer to live in if I had to choose between them?” San Diego State it is!

The serious basketball fan will scoff at this technique, but I won my office pool three years ago using this exact same method. Remember that they call this event March Madness, not March Method. There is madness to my method, I freely admit. So, what were the results of the Dunnevant Method, you might ask?

I’ve got Florida, Iowa State, Arizona and Louisville in the final four, with the Gators beating the Wildcats in the title game.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

These Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

Obama on bike.png             

Obama on bike.pngputin on horse.pngFormer Community Organizer




putin on horse.png

Former KGB Agent


Hmmm…I sure hope the Ukrainians have a Plan B.*




Obama on bike.pngputin on horse.png 




*These photographs were used solely for the purposes of humor and irony and should not be considered an endorsement of a Communist bully over the duly elected, Mom-jeans wearing, President of the United States, but rather a hope that our President’s feckless leadership style just might keep us out of an unnecessary war!