Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just Let It Unfold

The other day I blogged about a book I had read by Dean Koontz and how I had appreciated it more since I finished it than when I was reading it. In that book the hero needs a new heart.

His girlfriend is an aspiring author who discusses the concept of subtext with him. She begs him to "just let it unfold" when he signs up on the heart transplant list. But he is very rich and begins to lose confidence in the system and decides to change to a new doctor. His old doctor is a true friend but the new doctor is one who promises results.

The new doctor does get results, too. But it turns out that the heart for the hero has been purchased and results in the death of an innocent young woman.

I have a friend right now that needs a new liver. Not too many years ago another friend needed a new heart. Regularly I read about someone who has given a kidney to someone else.

And we all know about the hope of stem cells being used to grow new organs and the resulting debate that is ongoing about the ethical implications of such technology.

At any rate the situation in that book about someone needing a new heart is all too plausible. That someone rich enough could simply buy what is needed is all too plausible as well. We know this because from time to time we read stories about an entire black market for organs.

In the case of organ transplantation there is a system in place that is meant to protect the innocent while assisting those in need.

In the book it is the man's fear that drives him to seek out a heart at all costs. His fear of death was just so great that he could not keep his promise to his girlfriend. He gained his life but lost everything else.

Jesus said something similar in Matthew 10:38-39 (The Message):
If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
Fear is mostly what keeps us from faith. A lot of people would argue that it is unbelief but that's just what the absence of faith is -- not what keeps us from believing.

Many of us want to live our lives in the freedom of faith. But we just cannot make ourselves let go of whatever security we think we have. We are just too scared to let go.

In Luke 18:18 there is this story about a "rich young ruler" who comes to Jesus and says that he's followed all the commandments but wants to know what he has to do to deserve eternal life. Jesus tells him he only needs to sell everything he has and give it to the poor and then follow Jesus. The young ruler couldn't do it.

I was thinking about examples in the Bible where people decided to help God out rather than just let what God had promised unfold. There are plenty of examples.

For instance God promises Abraham and Sarah a child. But when she fails to become pregnant Sarah decides God needs a bit of assistance. And she has the power to effect something the consequences of which remain with us to this day.

Or another time Abraham says that Sarah is his sister instead of his wife because he's afraid the truth will get them all killed.

Eventually though Abraham gets it right when he takes Isaac up to the mountain to offer the sacrifice.

Yesterday my Bible reading was in Psalm 119. Verse 1:
You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
Often it is the most difficult test of faith to wait on the Lord.

Stay the course.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Book: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Cazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
by Francis Chan

Francis and Lisa Chan founded Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA in 1994. He writes some about his biography in the book but otherwise I did not find a lot about him from the web.

There is a web site for the book, too:

Chan talks about how many Christians become so without really having a clear understanding of God's character and the resulting, "crazy" love that He displays towards us.

Moreover he says that if we really grasp God's character and love that there is really only one valid response on our part. That is our unrestrained, "crazy" love for God.

He goes on to discuss this idea in several different ways. The chapters are relatively short and easy to read and appreciate. He uses a good many Scripture references and intersperses them clearly and artfully. On my Kindle the default font size was rather large but easily changed.

There were for me several notable and memorable places in the book.

One chapter discusses the parable of the soils and Chan writes "Don't assume you are good soil." I smiled when I read that for several reasons. We do often find it easier to associate ourselves with the hero than the villain.

Another chapter discusses what it means to be lukewarm and Chan declares that a lukewarm Christian is simply an oxymoron -- not possible.

Yet another place he says that a Christian life really should not make sense to non-believers. I smiled again.

I think I most enjoyed the little examples of actual people who have sold out entirely to the Lord. I think Chan does those particularly well.

In thinking about the book now that I have finished I realize that I did not really enjoy it as much as I had expected before I began reading. Partly I think that's because of high expectations.

I do agree with so much of what Chan says though and much of what he does is well done I think.

When I read something like this though I always worry that some might feel a need for greater human works than greater faith. Chan does not say this by any stretch. But I do worry about it.

It is a worthwhile read I think.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book: Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz

Your Heart Belongs to Me: A Novel
by Dean Koontz

I've read several books by Dean Koontz but I cannot say I am a really big fan of his work.

His books that I've read have been fast paced and interesting and surprising and suspenseful and most all the things I like. But I guess they are just a little too weird for me.

But I hadn't read one of his in a while and I was needing some new stuff and this one was available for my Kindle and I clicked the button and there it was.

I read the first couple of chapters a while back and they didn't seem very "koontz-like and they didn't interest me terribly much either. So I got busy with something else and read several other titles.

But over Memorial Day weekend I decided I needed to catch up and finish reading several of my underway titles and this one was included. I can't say I was terribly happy about reading it for quite a while but I persevered through the end.

The story is about this rich "dotcom" guy that is in love with this wonderful girl who also loves him but rejects his marriage proposal. Then it turns out the rich guy needs a heart transplant. His girlfriend begs him to just let the process unfold naturally without trying to manage everything himself. He, of course, says he will but later cannot resist his need to control everything and changes doctors.

Soon afterwards he is flown out of country on his own jet with accompanying surgeon and staff to receive the heart that has conveniently beome available.

But in doing so he loses his girlfriend who finds out he couldn't keep from micromanaging.

And at this point in the book I thought ot myself that it was a good thing he had involved himself because otherwise it wasn't looking so good to actually get a heart.

There's a place in the book where this lady private ey tells the rich guy that the roots of violence are lust, envy, anger, avarice, and vengenance. At the time I thought it was about someone that was trying to do the rich guy in and he did, too.

It seems that he is having all these strange things happen not the least of which is this woman he keeps seeing from time to time. He has the private investigators find out who donated his heart and the woman is a spitting image of the donor.

I'm giving the ending away now -- so if you don't want to know what happens -- stop here.

Turns out the woman is the sister of the donor. The donor wasn't a volunteer either. And that new doctor wasn't exactly a great humanitarian since he basically bought the heart.

So it turns out that the rich guy's micromanaging of his situation set in motion a string of events that claimed an innocent life.

At the time I finished the book I still didn't much care for the book.

But in the few days since I finished I've been thinking about it and I've changed my mind. I really like this story now.

I like the lesson of this story and find a good deal of truth in it.

I'm one of those who has often succumbed to the temptation to try to control things myself. For one thing I hate to lose and for another I hate to give up. So I go all out usually.

Sometimes my zealousness has produced a variety and a number of unintended consequences that were apparent.

I wonde what the ones were that were not so obvious.

A very thought provoking book from Mr. Koontz.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The $9.99 Kindle Boycott Forum

A few days ago I was about to purchase a new title for my Kindle when I noticed that the price for the Kindle version was nearly the same as the price for a hardback copy of the book. This fact irritated me.

My irritation resulted in noticing the Amazon tags for the title in question and also noticing the Amazon discussion forum.

Tags are a very useful feature. Several tags for this particular title concerned a "boycott" of offerings costing more than $9.99 for the Kindle.

On the discussion forum there was a lengthy topic concerning the same subject.

Finding new things I like and jumping right in are things I do far too frequently and is not virtuous.

So for the last couple of days I've received email messages every time there is a new post on the boycott topic.

Good grief!

Discussion boards are not good places for me.

I must learn to leave them alone.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

It was originally called "Decoration Day" and instituted not long after the end of the Civil War for the purpose of memorializing the "Union" soldiers who fought and died in that conflict.

The Civil War claimed at least 620,000 soldiers' lives in addition to untold numbers of civilian casualties.

It is good I think that we should remember those who have given their lives in service to their country.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kindle - $9.99 Boycott - Revisited

Just a few days ago I blogged about the so called "Kindle Boycott" of titles costing more than $9.99 by Kindle users. That blog was titled A Chink in the Kindle - $9.99 boycott.

I was on the verge of purchasing John Sandford's new book, Wicked Prey, when I noticed the price for a Kindle version was only $1.40 less than the price of a hardback edition.

So yesterday (May 21, 2009) the price was reduced to $9.99. I bought it and it was delivered in a few minutes to my Kindle. I haven't started reading it yet but I will probably read it over the weekend.

The "boycott" is a pretty loose term I think for what is happening over at Amazon. I think a lot of us that have expressed our disappointment over the Kindle pricing are not much into boycotting stuff. I am certainly not.

But in one of the discussion forum topics about the $9.99 price issue there are more than 360 participants and more than 2500 posts. I remember one time someone telling me that less than 1% of the people would respond to a survey but that 1% would reflect the same sentiment of a much larger group. If that's true that means there could be tens of thousands of people who feel that the Kindle pricing is out of line.

I seriously doubt the "boycott" had any real bearing on Putnam reducing the price of the book I wanted to buy. It might have but really I have no way of knowing for sure one way or another.

More likely I suspect is that a whole bunch of us made similar individual decisions about buying. At the same time I think publishers and authors are struggling with complex issues about how to address this new digital age in which we all find ourselves living.

Regardless the reason I am happy the price was reduced on a title I wanted and I am happy I was able to buy it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Price of oil

Thanks to Wiki for the image.

It is a bottle of oil in case you can't figure it out. My brother has a bottle of oil like this but I didn't have an image of that one so I thought I'd use this one from Wiki since it was reasonably easy to get.

I came to live with my Mom and Dad in November, 1998 even though I did not know then that I had moved.

Funny that sometimes we've moved on and don't even realize it until later.

Yesterday, May 20, 2009, the price of oil at about 11 a.m. central time according to CNBC was nearly $62 per barrel.

I've read various predictions about the future price of oil. Some prognosticators wrote that it would fall to $25 per barrel or maybe lower. Some think it will go back above $100 per barrel and maybe even $200 or higher.

Anyone want to guess what it was in December, 1998?

I'll tell you: $8.64 per barrel.

That's according to this site.

If you distrust that then here's a link to the Energy Information Administration of the United States page: Weekly United States Spot Price FOB Weighted by Estimated Import Volume (Dollars per Barrel). The number is a little different but close enough I guess.

What's the point of this post?

Well, recently there's been a lot of concern over our local economy in the event the price of oil plummets downward. When I heard the concern I thought I remembered that oil was at a really low price when I returned to Oklahoma but I had to look it up.

I guess it is one of those perspective things.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This is Bucky.

He drives me absolutely nuts.

For one thing he tries to bite me a lot. He did bite my hand once. Didn't really hurt me but made me move my hand for sure. In fairness he bites other things besides me including horses, people and inanimate objects. I have no idea why.

Then he picks on the younger mare. This irritates me. When I reprimand him for doing this he ignores me.

He just gets into stuff, too. Like yesterday we noticed that he had caught part of his mane in something and actually pulled a hunk of it off. He looked like he had a Mohawk haircut or something.

But the thing he does that most aggravates me is the way he eats.

He takes his head and pulls his chin into his body in a kind of sweeping motion inside the feed trough. Naturally this scatters oats and pellets and sweet feed all over ground under his trough.

I don't know why this makes me so angry. It is wasteful but my emotion seems a little beyond what that warrants.

And, no, the other horses do not do this. Only Bucky.

If I am standing over there I yell at him "Bucky, stop that!" He looks up at me usually and judges whether or not I might be able to do anything to him. And usually I cannot get him so he kind of gives me a look like "catch me if you can dude!"

Another thing he does regarding eating is that he will leave his trough and come over to the girls' trough to see if they have something better. They don't of course but while he is over there he will eat some of it. Often when he does this I will be standing there and I will say to him "Bucky! Get back over to your feeder." If I say it loudly enough and forceful enough then he will look at me and turn around and go back over to his feeder.

So you see he knows what I'm telling him.

I've tried talking to him about quadratic equations and philosophy and stuff like that but I don't think he cares.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

It was March 28, 2008 when I first blogged about reading this book on my Kindle. At the time I reported that the hardcover book was 944 pages and weighed in at 2.4 lbs. according to the information from Amazon's site. On Kindle it was under 5 Mb.

I actually purchased and downloaded it on March 22, 2008. And just for the record I paid $9.99 and I don't know what the hardcover price was then. It was published in December, 2006 though; so, it had been out awhile.

Really I did not expect it to take more an a year to read the book. And the book was interesting. The writing was fine although not exactly of "page turner" style. In terms of style and format I would have really appreciated shorter chapters and there are so many details and characters presented that it is easy to become bogged down in them and distracted from the story.

But the story itself is so interesting and intriguing that this really is a wonderful read. About 1/'3 of it is notes and references and so on including a photo section -- all in the back. This is not history you learn in school. Really it is neither dry nor uninteresting. Many of all those details I just complained about help provide a decent human understanding of both the people and times.

This book made more real for me the horror of the civil war and the sacrifice of so many men and women who ultimately waged it in all too bloody terms a great moral struggle.

At the end the pages that describe the assassination and the near term aftermath are so poignant. If I had read nothing else I think that alone would make the entire book worthwhile.

Lincoln is the central character as one might expect and by the end of the book his already giant standing in my mind had grown by several orders of magnitude.

Slavery is so strange to contemplate as such an everyday, casual part of life. Then the fact that it took a terrible war with horrible losses on both sides to resolve the issue is even more amazing to me.

As horrible as war is, and that one was, it is even more horrible to think that the evil of slavery be allowed to survive even a short time longer.

I wonder how things would have been different if Lincoln had survived and been able to lead the nation during the subsequent reuniting of the country.

I thought at one point during my reading that one high mark of leadership was simply staying the course.

I am certain I am going to be thinking about this work for a good while. I am glad it is over but I am so glad I've read it.

I really recommend this book if you have the time and patience.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Pop

My dad's father was my "pop" and dad was "pop" to my kids and I am "pop" to theirs. So I guess I come from a long line of "pops."

Somewhere out there in this picture is my oldest granddaughter.

I don't know exactly what the event was called but at her school they were having the kids compete in all sorts of athletic contests before the end of school that is coming up this next week.

My son and I were together at a lunch with some business associates and he got a text from his wife that his daughter was in a big relay race. We had time so we drove to school to watch. First thing I noticed was that it was hot and steamy and I wasn't dressed very good for it.

When we found my granddaughter she and her group had just completed the egg toss contest. This is where the boys and girls in the group pair up across from each other with each partner standing on a yard line marker of the football field. Then one partner tosses a raw egg at the other. If the egg is caught then the partner moves back 10 yards and tosses it back. The game continues until the egg breaks which usually makes a pretty big mess of the receiver's clothes.

So not only did my granddaughter want to hug me but several other girls wanted to hug me as well even though I did not know them. You get the idea I am certain that they didn't really want to hug me as much as they wanted to smear a little raw egg stuff on me.

There were all sorts of other contests. One group was shooting these water balloons with a big rubber sling shot like thing. Another was having a tug-of-war with a rope. Another was performing the song YMCA with appropriate choreography. Upon completion each group rotated then.

Everyone was having a pretty good time made even better by the occasional Popsicle break.

I had a lot of fun, too.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My new favorite place to sit

Last night we used the gas grill for the first time on the patio at the "new" house - which isn't very new even to us anymore.

I cleaned up one of the really old, white, springy chairs from Dad's house and I sat in it while cooking the chicken breasts and hamburger patties.

This is one of two chairs I kept from the porch of the old house. This is one I used to sit in next to Dad while he sat in his recliner. And before Mom died we all three would sit together but that was still my chair.

I couldn't help but think that it would have been rather nice for them to be sitting there next to me.

On Thursday the technician from the sound place finally got the Proficient M6 whole house sound deal mostly working. (Mostly is the key word as it still is not 100%. One must wonder about the company's name because they certainly have not proven proficient thus far.) I clicked on the FM tuner button on the patio control and listened to classical music thanks to KCSC 90.1 FM which is a great station for classical I might add.

We wanted baked potatoes but we always forget you have to plan ahead to bake a potato. Not to worry though because the new microwave has a "speed cook" feature. Except I didn't know what that meant. But as I've reported ignorance has never stopped me. Fortunately the microwave anticipated my ignorance and told me what to do.

It flashed on the screen to put in the black pan. We had to find the black pan and rinse it off. I wasn't aware that our microwave came with a black pan but it did. So I put it inside and this put 2 large potatoes on it. I continued following directions (from the microwave - can you believe that?) and 17 minutes later we had baked potatoes.

There is this lamp thing that comes on every so often and apparently helps cook the potatoes. The skins are a little crinkly and the insides were perfect for my taste anyway.

Actually I thought they were better than baked in a conventional oven. Maybe not quite as good as wrapped in foil and buried in coals but, hey, you sometimes have to compromised. I would post a picture but I ate the potato.

Then we enjoyed more storms and rain coming through our town. The storms continued past my bedtime so I am not sure when they stopped.

Life cannot be much better than this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Would I Introduce Jesus?

The other day I received an email that had a video of a Steve Harvey performance wherein he did an Introduction of Christ to a room full of people. I found it on Youtube.

I find it interesting that some people like Steve Harvey can get up on stage before a big crowd and do such a great job of leading the entire group.

That's not one of my gifts. You wouldn't really want me to be introducing anyone to a big crowd like that. And I wouldn't want to either so it kind of works out I guess.

Somehow I suspect that "needs no introduction" part is the most significant. That's how it was for me anyway when I met actually did meet Jesus. Wasn't any doubt in my mind who He was. You hear that a lot about needs no introduction but there are whole bunch of folks that I have no idea who they are or why I should know them. But Jesus truly does need no introduction.

I've heard people say when they get to heaven the first thing they're going to do is run up and ask God why something or other happened or throw their arms around Him or some other very familiar kind of thing.

But I bet it will be more like when I first saw the ocean or the Grand Canyon or my newborn babies. I stood there in awe and reverence trying to make my mind grasp some little sliver of the reality of it all.

Except that being in His presence will be so much beyond any experience I can imagine.

But Steve Harvey surely did a great job and surely did make me think.

No matter who tries to introduce you though you still have to go to Him yourself. Amazing how that works.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek at the Warren Theater

Wednesday was one stressful day. The stress is from something I cannot blog about which does not make it particularly less stressful.

That stress began in the morning and continued past lunch.

Then I had to replace an air conditioner compressor at home and the unit at the office quit. Funny how that works.

But I bought tickets for my stepson and me for the Star Trek movie at the Moore Warren Theater for the 6:20 pm showing in the balcony. I bought the tickets at noon and they had 8 seats left. So we met at 6 and ordered our food which was quite good. The Warren is just a great experience. Even a mediocre film would be good there I think.

But Star Trek for me was way above mediocre. I thought it was great. I notice on Yahoo that the critics gave it a B+ and the movie goers gave it an A. I'd be more in the "A" group because I really enjoyed myself.

I still want to see Wolverine, Soloist, Monsters vs. Aliens, the new Terminator, and Angels and Demons. Somehow I think I probably will not make all of these.

We left the theater just in time to enjoy the subsequent thunder storms with hail and tornadoes. No stress from that of course.

All in all just a really interesting day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Chink in the Kindle - $9.99 boycott

Tuesday I noticed that one of my favorite authors had a new book out. John Sandford's 2009 novel, Wicked Prey, was available from Amazon.

So I went first thing to buy it for my Kindle.

And there I was reading the 2 reviews about the book and wondering how the reviewers read it so quickly and then got their reviews posted. And that's when I noticed the price: $15.37.

Now most of you who have been reading my blogs for a while know that I would not let that price deter me from purchasing the product based on cost alone. I've shared too much for anyone to have that idea of me.

When I bought the Kindle though most of the books were $9.99 or less. In fact, that was a selling point about the Kindle. You buy a digital version and save some money. Some people think it might be environmentally friendly, too; but, I haven't really researched that aspect.

Excuse me but $15.37 is considerably above $9.99. So I checked the price for the hardback from Amazon: $16.77. Then I checked Barnes and Noble: $18.16 or $16.34 depending upon membership status. The latter is with free shipping, too. Amazon is free shipping for me as well.

I am not going to drive the 10 miles to check out the price in the actual Barnes and Noble store. Sorry Barnes and Noble.

So I can get the digital copy of the book for $1.40 less than the cost of the hardback book

I am not buying the book period!!

I've really enjoyed the Prey series by Sandford. I've purchased all of the previous 18 titles and a good many in hardback versions. I've purchased a second copy a few times. I had no idea the last one I read might be the last one ever.

I am not blaming Amazon by the way because Amazon does not set the price nor does the author. The price is established by the publisher. In this case that is Putnam which is part of Penguin apparently.

So I am not buying this book in any version. I am not buying anymore Putnam books and I'm going to try to avoid Penguin. And I am joining the $9.99 boycott for Kindle titles.

I didn't know about it until I became upset over this title but it turns out that quite a few publishers are trying to charge more than $9.99 for Kindle titles and quite a few users have begun tagging such books with "9.99boycott" to alert others.

If it means reading less or reading different authors then so be it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Alzheimer's Project

I've been watching the HBO Alzheimer's Project films all morning. It is Monday as I write this, the day after Mother's Day.

It is raining now and has been nearly all night. When I went out to Judy's farm this morning the pasture road was really muddy. Even slow going threw mud all over the side of the car. It is funny to me that the mud is black for a while but the more rain we get the redder the mud becomes.

It is not funny that the weather mirrors my mood as I watch these videos. The longer I watch the more I feel like I am suffocating from the memories of my own time caregiving for my parents.

Every video, every person, every situation, every place all conspire to raise old memories long since buried but not very deeply it turns out. Mostly I would just as soon those memories stay forgotten I guess. I am surprised I feel this way and did not expect it.

Yesterday morning I was already melancholy for a while. I avoided church. Not because I did not want to worship but because I really did not want to be around other people. I didn't want to be reminded that my parents are gone and I am still here. I drove over to the cemetery and stood there in the plot that has 6 of us already. Didn't do anything - just stood there - and thought about each one of them. Maybe I gave a bit more thought to the women in honor of Mother's Day.

Mom has been gone 8 years this year and my grandma will be 21 and my aunt who was like a mother 22. I walked over to my other grandparents' graves and realized she's already been gone 24 years. Then I went to find my ex mother-in-law's grave because she also was a mother to me. I didn't put out flowers. It was raining anyway. But I counted how many I need to buy for Memorial Day and I will put them out then.

Then last night I watched an older X-Men movie on TV. I followed that by watching the HBO video about Caregivers. I chose that one first for some reason. I could not help but think about how like the X-men are both those of us with dementia and those who try to care for them. Irony?

This morning I began again by watching The Memory Loss Tapes. My blogger friend, Annie from Maple Corners, is in that one. I wish I could say it was good to see her and her mom but it would be a lie. I recognized her instantly of course and her mom. It was painful for me to watch though. But I made myself watch all of it.

I have to stop watching right now. I am not sure I can watch more. I want to. I wanted to write about how great it is that these videos exist and I wanted to like them just as everyone else has commented about them. Maybe I will like them later but I don't right now.

I want to go throw up right now.

My son is in the next office. He can hear the audio though. I just told him I thought I was going to puke. He said he thought he might, too. He said he wasn't sure he could watch these.

One thing I can tell you is that a few minutes of video footage does not and maybe cannot communicate what it is like when the minutes turn into hours and the hours become days and the days fall into weeks and the weeks grow into months and the months accumulate into years.

I don't know if I will post this.

It is Monday afternoon now. I am home from feeding the horses and checking on Judy's mom. She reminds me so much of one of the women in the memory video.

The videos are very honest and very real. They are well produced with very high production values. But they are raw, too. RAW is the right word I think.

I did not know I was still so raw myself but apparently I am. I really thought I was more healed. I really thought these stories would not bother me so much.

I decided to post as you can see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Second Touch

In the early 1980's when I came to know the Lord I read this book by Keith Miller titled "A Second Touch." It had to do with the Lord's healing the blind man of Bethsaida. The incident is recorded in Mark 8:22-26.

First the Lord spits on the man's eyes and then lays His hands on the man. The Lord asks the man if he can see and the man says he can see men but they are like trees walking around. Next the Lord touched the man again and the man began seeing clearly.

Miller draws on this story to reflect on how we often see people that are in our life as mere objects and not real people. It is the second touch by the Lord that enables us to see people as real human beings rather than just objects.

Our modern, urban life doesn't help us very much either. When we place our order at a drive through speaker we are talking to a disembodied voice that may or may not be very understandable. Calling any company often lets you talk to a computer first and sometimes only.

In the country we used to wave at each other when we passed and often we knew each other. In the city there are too many cars and we're pretty lucky if we know who lives on either side of us.

We see someone at an intersection holding a sign painted with the words "work for food" and we think not much more about it than if the man were a light pole.

If we are watching TV and we learn someone is a liberal or a Republican or some other label then we immediately stop listening because we think we know what those labels mean. And the same can be said all too frequently about race and size and accent and sex and a bunch of other stuff.

I've remembered that book by Miller and that story about the blind man of Bethsaida for a long while now.

Lord I pray You touch me again and again until those people I see are more than trees walking about.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day 2009

This is the Mother's Day card I bought for my mother-in-law.

Mainly I bought it because it has the picture of the Chihuahua on it in the lower right corner and one up from the bottom. She has a dog like that and loves it. And then she has other dogs she loves, too.

It's a big card and when you open it up "Shout" begins playing. It is very annoying to me but I think she will like the cover.

You just can't always get everything you want on a card. So I compromised.

I bet no one else gets her a card like this.

Last year we were in Omaha at my wife's daughter's house and we enjoyed a Mother's Day lunch at P. F. Chang's.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Friday Friends

I've come to think of Fridays as friends day.

My first stop was the cleaners. I began going there a few years ago because my then future wife patronized it. I didn't have much cleaning back then because that was in the middle of my caregiving. My "uniform" then was pretty minimal and surely did not require a cleaners.

Over the years I've come to know the people who work at the cleaners. I go there 2 or 3 times a week. I don't take many clothes at a time. They know me now. When I walk in they write my name on the tickets without me having to tell them. They know I want my shirts without starch and I like my jeans to be dry cleaned instead of washed. We greet each other like old friends. If there's a problem they fix it and I don't hold it against them. I wouldn't really think of going somewhere else.

I drove over to Starbucks next. On my iPhone there is this little notes application. That's where I write down the names of the baristas. But usually the morning crew is the same and we all know each other. They know stuff about me and I know stuff about them - not big, important things but little, unimportant things. They know my drink and they fix it for me without me having to tell them.

There's about 8 guys over at one end of the room. They are members of one family and they all sit together every Friday. So I see them nearly every Friday and we joke around some with each other. When I walked over to see them this Friday one of them said that I had increased their average IQ by joining them. Everyone laughed. Another time before someone asked me if I had any good words and I didn't and he said he'd give me some and so he said "above ground." It took me a while to figure that out but when I did I laughed out loud.

Pretty soon my brother came in and we sat at a table and talked and just sat with each other. We waited a while on my son because he was going to join us. But he was delayed and so finally we left together.

Another friend and I had a lunch appointment. He and his son were over at Home Depot picking up some stuff. My son and I went to pick him up and then his son later joined us. We went to this quaint little place called Two Olives. It is an old school building that was built in 1928.

I had classes in the old building when I was in grade school and junior high. The friend we were meeting there and his partner bought the old building a few years ago and began remodeling. The first floor is done now and its really nice. Two Olives is a great place to eat.

Our friend joined us and we all sat there together and enjoyed the food but more the conversation. I noticed our little group spanned three decades in age. We talked about all sorts of things but nothing really of earth saving importance I suppose.

After lunch we all returned to our respective lives.

Later I was thinking about the great blessing of what I had experienced this day. No great discoveries were made and no big deals negotiated and nothing really important at all happened. But I think it is this kind of day that I will remember and savor and appreciate for a long while.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Feeding the Animals

I feed 4 horses and 1 cat daily.

They are always happy to see me. Now really it is not me in particular they care about but the guy that feeds them. And it is food that interests them. I know that.

But I use the opportunity to pet the horses a little. Sometimes I think they enjoy it but mostly they just tolerate it because they know eventually I am going to get the feed for them. Judy is a different story though. They like her and they like her to pet them, food or not.

Now the cat is different. I think she actually enjoys seeing me. The other day it was raining and she actually came out in the rain to greet me. She usually comes out to see me but in the rain is above and beyond.

So I get quite a bit of positive reinforcement from these animals.

I always talk to them. I ask the cat if she's hungry and if she wants something to eat. She looks up at me and meows except that's not really what her speech sounds like. When I go in the house to get her food the door closer holds it open a second or two. The cat takes that opportunity to run in with me. She thinks that if she comes in with me that she will get her food faster I suppose.

Then when we go out the door she runs underneath my feet almost always making me nearly fall over her. This used to irritate the daylights out of me but I've become accustomed to it now.

When I leave I tell her goodbye but she usually is too busy eating to acknowledge my departure.

The horses know my car so when they see it they begin moving towards the feeders. If they are out in the pasture they will run. If the wind is blowing hard and gusty or if the weather is changing or just about anything really they get a little upset and act rowdy. Have to watch them if you're in there with them.

The old mare is always the hungriest. She whinnies at me and gets right up against the fence and strains her neck over it towards me. I have a strange respect for the old mare. She's in her late 20's now and had several foals. I always think of us being in the same age range even though she is a lot younger.

The younger mare I suppose is my favorite although I really don't know why. I just like her. She's kind of dainty in a horsey way.

The sorrel gelding's name is Bucky. That's not his real name but his descriptive name and apparently well earned. He irritates me no end. For one thing he uses his head and mouth to scoop out oats from the feeder onto the ground. I hate this and I usually tell him about it. But he ignores me. He prefers the sweet feed to the oats I guess. He is also the "biter" of the group. He will bite me if I am not careful. He'll bite just about anything.

When I finish I tell them all goodbye and that I'll see them tomorrow. They don't even look up from the feeders. But it seems rude not to tell them I'm leaving.

Even if you feed some humans they aren't really glad to see you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Side Effects

So now that my medical "inspections" are over I am taking drugs in an effort to alleviate symptoms.

There are six possible drugs. Four of them are alpha blockers. Two of them are enzyme inhibitors. I've tried both the latter and two of the former.

The alpha blockers were both really bad for me. They made me light headed, dizzy on standing to the point of nearly fainting, blurry vision, tired, and lethargic. And worst was I felt like I couldn't get a full breath.

One of the alpha blockers I tried a few years ago. My doctor gave me samples of a newer drug in that class that is supposed to have fewer symptoms.

It didn't have fewer for me so I stopped taking it after 3 miserable days. Astute huh?

So then today I tried a newer drug of the enzyme inhibitor class. After about 2 or 3 hours I started having the shortness of breath symptom. But that was about the only symptom and I was thinking positively. Crazy when you think maybe you could live with shortness of breath. Another couple of hours though and I had an episode of awful, gut wrenching, black hole sucking depression.

Wow. That was unexpected. Because I had read all the reported side effects of all these drugs and depression was not listed.

But I know what depression is and I know I experienced it and I know the only thing I took was this drug. So it may not be double blind scientific but I am attributing the depression to the drug.

And I am not taking it anymore and I don't care what anyone says.

So that leaves one drug I've taken that had minimal side effects for me. It is also in the enzyme inhibitor group. For some reason as yet unexplained my doctor seems averse to giving me this particular drug.

I think it is time for a little heart-to-heart.

This reminds me of experimenting with drugs for my dad. I felt like he was the guinea pig back then. And of course he could never tell me how he felt and I had to guess.

It isnt' much easier when I know how I feel.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

My HP Netbook

I bought this from Best Buy the other day.

It is an HP Min 1000 - 1030 NR - $349.99

10.1" screen. Weighs about 2.4 lbs. No disk drive - just a 16 Gb solid state drive. No DVD or CD either. But it has a camera. The keyboard is about 85% and fits me just fine.

I am typing this blog entry on it in fact.

I tried several before I selected this one. It isn't the latest model from HP but I liked it best.

Everyone here is laughing at me because I keep going smaller. My main laptop is just a 12" screen.

But it is so convenient to carry around. I get about 3 hours on the battery.

It works great for web and email and stuff like that. I put an extra gig of memory in it but it is still a little slow but not that bad.

Just a great little Netbook.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Amazon Kindle iPhone App

I had another doctor appointment on Friday. It was another endoscopy at the urologist's office. I won't go into detail about the procedure itself in the interest of propriety and modesty -- not mine -- yours.

But it isn't very hard to guess what it might be.

For reasons unknown there was a delay and I ran out of things to do pretty quickly. I didn't have my Kindle 2 but thought it would be nice if I did. Then I remembered the iPhone app.

I downloaded it and within a few seconds was reading one of my books on my iPhone.

I thought it really worked well. The screen is not bad at all for reading and you just change pages with a flip action of your finger on the iPhone screen. My delay was about 90 minutes so I was really glad to have it and I enjoyed reading a new Jonathan Kellerman book, True Detectives.

The nurse apologized profusely when she finally called me back. Apparently they "forgot" me somehow. Maybe it was me subconsciously hoping they would forget me forever and not perform the procedure. I was already wondering if my mind had exaggerated my symptoms and maybe I just needed to cancel this whole deal.

I wasn't looking forward to this but I needed to know the problem and this was how to find out. When I told my brother I was having it he said to run the other way or at least to try to get them to put me under. He had the same thing a couple of years ago. But the doctor had assured me it wasn't that bad.

It is a little embarrassing I suppose for some men, especially with a female nurse. My caregiving career seems to have permanently altered my sense of modesty as in I apparently haven't any left. When I have to wait I fall into caregiving waiting mode, too.

When the doctor came in he was so very apologetic. I told him caregiving had taught me that I did not control the world. I think he may still harbor the opposite idea. Maybe as a doctor he does but apparently with significant limitation in my case.

I got all ready for the procedure in the exam room. The nurse applied some deadening gel. The doctor was rather "far along" when he said that the machine was broken and he couldn't tell anything.

So then we moved to another room and did everything over -- from the beginning -- and I do mean everything.

The results were conclusive though and he gave me some medicine to try for a few days.

I don't think I can take this medicine though because I have every side affect listed on the patient information sheet. I plan to persevere at least through Sunday though.

In the meantime I am happy to report the Amazon Kindle iPhone application is 5 star in my opinion.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Reading the Unlikely Disciple book has made me think a lot about betrayal.

Loyalty and friendship and family and faithfulness are really important elements of my personal and family morality. I am certain they have been handed down for generations upon generations in our family. They are too strong I think to be explained solely by the older generation teaching the younger. I suspect there is a kind of spiritual heredity that is akin to DNA except it is not physical. I don't know what it is nor can I prove it but I suspect it exists.

I am a traducian because I do believe the soul and spirit originate coincidentally with the body. Some people believe the soul is specially created by God sometime before birth and others believe the soul preexists the body. But that's a different subject.

But for me and others in my family there is little more sacred than loyalty to family and friends and self. Perhaps self should be first because you have to be true to your core values above all else.

Kevin Roose first encounters the issue with his family and friends. They are concerned that he will be corrupted by his experience at Liberty. He is sometimes afraid of that himself as the story unfolds. He secures approval for his venture by giving his assurance that he is only interested in observing and writing.

At Liberty though he begins to develop relationships with other students. He does not tell them that he is only there to study them and to try to make some sense of their culture.

Relationships often begin on a less-than-honest basis though. It is not unusual to present oneself in the best light when meeting new people. That's especially true when the relationships involve romantic attraction. I think Roose did nothing more sinister than that when he enters Liberty.

In the writing of the book he apparently protects individual identities. In my mind his treatment of the university itself and the culture is neither malicious nor dishonest.

I have no way of knowing how those he does write about feel about his treatment.

One time I had this friend and I thought I understood his opinion about a particular subject. It was a complex subject. In a meeting I stated that my friend believed such and such about the subject. Not long after my friend and I met and he was so angry with me. Someone had told him I had said something about his opinion. It actually wasn't what I said but I had said something. My friend felt I had betrayed him and our relationship. Our relationship was never the same because of that experience. I have never forgotten.

The thing about betrayal is that it is often one sided. I did not intend to betray my friend. In fact I did not think I had betrayed him. But he thought I had. That was all it took.

I have felt betrayed, too. I remember one such time when my friend told me "that it had nothing to do with me." I am certain my friend believed that and probably never understood why I felt as I did.

There are few things worse that I have experienced than the emotion of feeling betrayed. Those feelings for me have been physically jolting as well as emotionally wrenching. Those feelings have been so terrible for me that I desperately want to avoid doing that to someone else. And I sometimes worry about things I did 30 or 40 years ago that I now think were awful.

A couple of times I have actually apologized to some old friend about something that looms so large in my memory. In one particular case I was astonished that my old friend had no memory of the event at all.

I was very surprised to begin to worry about something that happened so long ago that I had not given the least thought about.

As much as I enjoyed reading Roose's book there is no doubt in my mind that had I been one of his friends that I would have felt betrayed. He knew that, too, because he remarks about how gracious and forgiving were his Liberty friends (or more truthfully specimens).

I wonder if he will have regrets in 40 years.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Kind of surprising Oklahoma bird at my lawyer's office.