Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Priorities and Values

Matthew 16-20 (The Message)

Jesus replied, "You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That's what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that's neither here nor there."

I have finished Hezekiah and Malachi in my daily Bible reading.

I am reminded of just how important is freedom to worship.

I fear that many of our time do not recognize the importance and it is a freedom that may be lost.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There I Fixed It

A friend sent me pictures of various handyman repairs the other day.

All the images were stamped with the name of a web site which I had to check out on my own of course.

So if you need a good laugh or some good ideas about how to fix stuff check out:

There I Fixed It

Lot's of uses of duct tape.

Fact stranger than fiction.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ezra Trusting God

In my daily Bible reading the other day I was in Ezra 8 and found the passage beginning at verse 21 to be very interesting:
I proclaimed a fast there beside the Ahava Canal, a fast to humble ourselves before our God and pray for wise guidance for our journey—all our people and possessions. I was embarrassed to ask the king for a cavalry bodyguard to protect us from bandits on the road. We had just told the king, "Our God lovingly looks after all those who seek him, but turns away in disgust from those who leave him."

So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened.
Ezra was preparing to journey to Jerusalem with quite a group of people and items for rebuilding the temple. Ezra was not without reason to be concerned about theft because later we learn that he was carrying "25 tons of silver, 100 vessels of silver valued at three and three-quarter tons of gold, 20 gold bowls weighing eighteen and a half pounds, 2 vessels of bright red copper, as valuable as gold."

One might desire a small army to guard that much stuff nowadays as well as protecting a rather large group of people.

At first when I read this I thought Ezra had actually asked the King for help so I had to read it a few times.

Does remind me of discussions I've had in my life when I've expressed my faith that the Lord would take care of me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Those Who Debate

Over the last decade or so I've read a lot of postings from various email lists, forums, web sites, blogs and so on.

In so doing I've noticed that there are different kinds of people who participate.

Of course there are the moderators who comprise the forum police force. Sometimes this is the same as the forum owner or operator but frequently not.

There are trolls who post in order to start a fight of some kind.

There are lurkers who read and don't post much.

There are frequent posters who have an opinion on everything and post on everything.

But I've become interested in those who like to debate on forums. There is the proponent who takes the affirmative and argues forcefully. There is the opponent who does the same but against the proposition.

Both the proponent and opponent types fall into two major types. On the one hand is the person who argues the issues. On the other is the one who immediately brings personal attack and derision to the argument.

There is also the undecided. These seem to be particularly despised on so many forums.

There is also the person who is often a lurker but who occasionally posts an opinion and then simply retreats back into lurkdom.

I suspect in many ways these forums do mirror to some extent how we act as a people.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What Did I Learn From College?

I graduated from the University of Oklahoma more than 39 years ago now.

Someone asked me the other day what I learned in college. I told them that I was considering a blog post about that subject because I thought I had enough perspective now to address it.

My friend laughed. I was serious. He's old enough to understand what I said. So I laughed, too.

That very morning I was privileged to meet some young college students and listen to them talk about their experiences. One was a first year student and the other a junior I think. They both talked about how fearful they were about going to college and how the decision of where and what and how loomed so large in their minds.

To myself I thought I could tell them there would be plenty of other opportunities to screw up their lives other than which college to attend and that on balance the decision of where to go for college would not prove so important in the long term.

But I decided there was no point in letting them know that at this stage in their lives since it is something they will soon find out on their own. No point in unsettling a perfectly good day.

I read a quote the other day that I liked: "As you go through life you are going to have many opportunities to keep your mouth shut. Take advantage of all of them." I don't know the attribution but it's pretty good advice.

My own choice of colleges was pretty easily made actually. The University of Oklahoma was just a few miles away and I could drive there every day before work. That made it the least expensive choice and, therefore, the correct one.

But what did I learn there?

Well, of course, I learned what I studied although honestly there is not very much I remember of any of it.

I think the question though really addresses the "life lessons."

I learned a lot of things actually and some in surprising ways. For instance there is that History of Science course that I took because of some requirement. I didn't want to take it. But really it proved to be one of the best courses because it helped me understand there was a human side to science that my then idealism failed to appreciate.

There were other courses that were forced upon me that I never would have voluntarily pursued. They contributed to one life lesson which I think is that doing some work not of our own choosing is a good thing.

But I think the biggie thing I learned was just how big the world really is. And that there are a lot of people. And all those people are the same but different and there is so much to learn and do and think about.

At the same time though I learned that the specialties were so fabulously complex that the more you learned the more questions were found. One of those bigger on the inside things than the outside. Your degree just means you've managed to open the door.

Life is like that, too. The older you get the more you see but the more you see just makes you understand there is that much more out there to explore.

So that's what I learned from college.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Future Blog Entries

I'm working on a few: What I learned in college, The Process of Thinking, reviews.

Read Esther in my daily Bible reading yesterday and today. Used Peterson's Message Bible. Really excellent and surprised me in a few particulars.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prairie School Style

I've had to learn all sorts of stuff about residential architectural styles recently.

The picture is the Robie House in Chicago which is a very well known example of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School style.

Turns out I like this style very much. Also turns out I am not alone.

Then I ran across one of those quizzes about what is your house style so I answered the questions as best I could. Couldn't really answer them because they were multiple choice and on several there were no choices that I would have chosen but I had to in order to proceed. For instance on choosing my favorite color there was no choice for white which is my favorite color so I chose blue because that's probably my next favorite. I almost chose gray but blue won out.

Anyway that test said I was definitely a ranch style house kind of guy. And I really can't much argue with that because I really do like ranch style homes. But the quiz didn't include prairie style.

What I like about the prairie style is the emphasis of the horizontal, the low sloped hip roofs, the windows and details, the wonderfully huge overhang, and the natural exteriors. I was interested to learn that inside the homes are open and flowing. That was a big deal at the time because so many houses were comprised of little rooms.

Wright believed that the inside of the house defined the outside as I understand it. The prairie style name comes from a plan by Wright that appeared in the 1901 Ladies Home Journal titled "A Home In A Prairie Town."

He wanted the houses to blend in with the flatness of the prairie terrain. That definitely fits our land.

Now what I do not like is the McMansion style which is also known as the Neoeclectic style. Another form of Neoeclectic is the Dallas style which is so common now around our area.

The photo is from Wikipedia and is actually kind of a moderate example compared to some I've seen in real life.

I really dislike all those steep, gable roofs. And I dislike the mixing of the different styles of facade material as well as the mixing of architectural styles.

In 1936 Wright developed another style that was called Usonian in the 1950's. It grew out of the Prairie style. I was interested in this and think I may have posted something before about it because my Dad actually built several houses of that style right after he returned from World War II. The Usonian style also was very horizontal but was designed to be very affordable.

Have to decide now what I am doing with all this information.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

World Alzheimer's Day

World Alzheimer's Day

Yesterday, September 21, I am told was World Alzheimer's Day.

I didn't really know about it beforehand. Thought it was interesting though that it coincided with the 2nd anniversary of my dad's death. I don't know that I would have done anything differently had I known.

We are now told that more than 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer's or some other dementia worldwide and that number is about 10% greater than what was predicted a few years earlier.

By 2030 the number is estimated to nearly double and by 2050 a staggering 115 million persons are projected to have the disease.

After two years I find I have very little confidence in The Alzheimer's Association or any government or even any medical practitioner. That's not really a change in my confidence level from my caregiving days mind you. Actually I had zero confidence then and I still have zero confidence.

It is like those commercials for depression drugs that warn you that one of the side affects of the drug is depression. Then you learn that people that are depressed that are taking the drugs are still depressed. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

On the other hand I am skeptical of these projected numbers, too.

There is an entire industry that grows up around diseases. I receive various kinds of advertisements for M D Anderson as well as one of our local hospitals and Cancer Centers of America. I like the latter because there is this one "doctor" that tells a "patient" that she has no "expiration notice."

Alzheimer's well on it way. It takes a lot of specialized people and facilities and so on and it is a disease that makes us all fearful.

Maybe I'm turning into an old cynic.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two Year Anniversary

There are two family birthdays that share this date and now they are in the forefront.

As others have written about their own experiences, that time two years ago for me and, indeed, even the entire 9 preceding years of caregiving, slides further into the fog of history.

Yet, I do remember. In my own way I experience and handle the emotions of those memories.

The are many emotions: the lingering grief and sadness mixed with relief that I had managed to reach the end; the sorrow that I did not do better; the loss of my father and partner and friend; the loss of my identity -- again; the fear and excitement of the future unknown including the finding of my new "self."

It seems strange to me but the solitary time yesterday spent with shovel and wheelbarrow and the four horses was part of that process for me. It took more than 2 hours and I was worn out at the end.

Push the scoop beneath the poop until it was full and lift it to the wheelbarrow. Bucky first, then Jet in turn, had to bite one handle of the wheelbarrow and turned it over in the doing. Curious horses but so fearful of even the tiniest thing. Then push the wheelbarrow through the wet but drying lot out to the corral pasture. And do it again and again and again and finally the concrete pad is evident.

Someone asked me why I did not hire someone to do that hard and not particularly pleasant work for me. I replied that I wanted to do it myself.

But I think I did it because it would have been something my Dad would have enjoyed doing. I could imagine the two of us doing that together although it was not part of my imagining yesterday. In retrospect though I think that's a large part of why I did it.

I remember as a child how much I enjoyed working with my Dad on the farm. At the time I never would have believed that those experiences would be remembered instead of other things.

Then later when we were business partners and I relished every day seeing him and being with him. Now it is my own son that I see daily -- and relish seeing, too.

And I think of where I am myself on the curve of time.

And I think of all those others who have traveled much the same path before me.

And I think of those friends who share this time with me and I wish them all the best.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I haven't had much desire to read or write lately.

This is not particularly new as I have now observed the same thing occur more than a few times in my life. I think I've mentioned before that there is an amazingly useful value in perspective. It is just that for some things there is no way to achieve it without experience.

In my reading life I have several books underway and they are all interesting so the blame yet lies with me. Unfortunately you still have to read in order to understand, too. Maybe Apple or Amazon or Microsoft will make something that you plug in your ear (painlessly please) and a few nanoseconds later you've uploaded and understand the digital content.

On writing I haven't had much to say. It happens.

In my business life we are working on two actual contracts for land. Our Target deal is dead for now at least which is the way of current retail.

So I am spending an enormous amount of time on planning -- master planning it is called. It means we are attempting to actually plan the use for the entire 130 acres remaining of our old farm.

I find the process to be both exceedingly engaging and extremely difficult.

For one thing the process requires me and my associates and family to all individually think about what we like and want and hope. What kind of buildings do we like and what do we hate? What makes us proud and what disappoints?

Then there are all these practical considerations of engineering drainage and traffic and what might sell and what can we finance and what can we actually do.

There are details -- a myriad of details.

I've been driving around looking at all sorts of residential developments and office parks and apartments and retail centers. So many, in fact, that they have begun to blur together in my mind. Then I've been reading everything I can about "new urbanism" and creating enjoyable public spaces and so on.

It seems to me that all projects begin with a feeling of being overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the thing. That is followed by the chaos of synthesis of so many different and divergent ideas.

Then at some point there is this moment of clarity when the chaos dissolves into a set of principles that lead to differentiation of tasks and processes.

I'm not there yet but I feel it drawing near.

In the meantime I am off to shovel horse poop.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Year 2012

December 21, 2012 is the day that the world ends according to some.

There are all sorts of web sites about it. An example is

Even WiseGEEK has a page.

There is, according to some, an astronomical object named Nibiru approaching Earth which will arrive on that date. Among the more interesting claims in my opinion is that the Vatican has built two telescopes on Earth and is launching a satellite for the explicit purpose of tracking Nibiru. There does seem to be some disagreement about Nibiru though including its name.

Apparently though it is Nibiru that is causing the magnetic pole of the earth to shift and that shift will continue to increase with some dramatic even on December 21, 2012. The dramatic event is a collision or near miss. As you might guess not everyone agrees.

There is a Survive 2012 site if anyone is interested in surviving.

There is an article on NASA about a new planet.

That's dated 7.29.2005 and the image is from October 21, 2003.

Thought that was interesting.

A good part of the 2012 stuff comes from Mayan calendar information. Some of it was popularized in the Indiana Jones film about crystal skulls.

Some of the phenomenon predicted include total shift of magnetic pole, big change in weather, big change in oceans, melting ice caps, earthquakes, volcanoes, Sun spots, shortages in food and water, economic disruptions because of shortages, wars because of shortages, and so on.

Oh and God and Jesus will be revealed to have been ancient astronauts and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have all been covering this up for millennia.

I may have left out some stuff but I suppose you get the idea.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Surprise Gifts

It was the day after my birthday this year.

I really needed a haircut and had been putting it off. I don't know why I do that but it seems I usually do now.

During my caregiver life I made regular appointments because I had so little time free to do things and the time cost me because of paying for aides. Now I act like time doesn't cost me anything and that it belongs entirely to me. I should be more cautious about how I spend time though because really nothing has changed in fact. Rather it is the perception.

But that's a different subject and I need to return to this one.

So I called Mike who has now cut my hair for a long while. He also came to the house to cut Dad's hair. That was a very great service to me and I still remember it. I paid him for doing it of course but I remain grateful for his help.

Surprisingly he had an opening that afternoon for me.

Now it just was absolutely coincidental that my son had an appointment with Mike that day but preceding mine. My son was in the 8th grade when Mike began cutting his hair.

I arrived on time for my appointment and Mike and I had a nice chat as he cut my hair. Really he's a stylist but I am not exactly the "style" kind of guy. That's really not his fault but just the fact that I am more "style-less" than most. I think I blogged about this once.

He removed the apron and I stood up and reached for my wallet so I could pay him.

Mike said "No charge today. Your son paid for your haircut as a surprise gift for your birthday."

I was truly surprised, too. In fact I was nearly speechless. I felt a big smile on my face.

I've thought about that event many times since. Each time I again relish the pleasure of it. The last time we both had appointments on the same day I was earlier and again it was coincidental. So I paid for his appointment that time. And he was surprised. I know because he called me and thanked me.

I don't know which event gave me more pleasure: giving or receiving. Both were wonderful.

I've thought a good deal about how similarly I am surprised quite often by The Lord. Usually I am not expecting anything. Then I'm surprised by something I know the Lord gave me as a surprise. No, I can't prove it. But I know it all the same.

It makes me want to surprise Him, too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Texas Holiness Association

Ran across this photo in stuff from my parent's home.

Texas Holiness Association merged into the Church of the Nazarene in 1910.

It is my understanding that my maternal grandfather was actually licensed initially in The Texas Holiness Association.

Perhaps he is in the group somewhere. I did look at it under a magnifying glass but saw no one that I thought might have been him.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

World Names Profiler

I thought this was a particularly interesting web site:

Mostly my surname, Fritts, is in The United States. Tennessee is the state where we are the most numerous followed by Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming, Washington, and Alaska.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Smile and Give 'em Heaven

Last Saturday, August 29, 2009, I attended another funeral for a high school classmate.

My brother read the obituary in the Friday paper and sent me a text message because he recognized the name and thought he remembered me being in school with Ron.

I've gone to several funerals of my school mates and teachers the last few years. I don't know exactly why I go. It's not as though I've maintained friendships with many of my classmates over the years. Even those few of us that were very close in school have strayed apart.

But there's something about being children together that survives long periods of separation. I notice I now even look much more kindly upon the remembrances of classmates I actually disliked at the time or in some cases considered enemies. Perhaps it is the perspective of time or, more improbably, the onset of some gain in wisdom.

This time it was the funeral for Ron Taylor. I think he and his family arrived at our school when I was beginning high school which then was the 9th grade. He was 2 grades below me but his sister, Verna, was in my class. His father was an assistant principal if memory serves as well as being the drivers' education teacher. I don't remember knowing others in the family and didn't know there were any until the funeral.

They lived south of us about 2 miles and seems to me that we rode the same bus together at least some.

Like several friends of my approximate age Ron had been stricken with polio as a young child. I learned at the funeral that it was when he was 4 in 1953. If the poliovirus could have waited a couple of years, Ron would have undoubtedly benefited from the Salk vaccine.

But polio was not the thing that defined Ron Taylor. Even as a junior high student Ron had a big spirit and an equally big smile. Neither of those have dimmed in my memory even after 46 years or more.

Ron was 59 when he died. It was sudden and unexpected. He was a coach most of his adult life and I had heard about a couple of his assignments. When I knew him he was one strong football player.

When I knew him I was an atheist. Back then I neither knew nor cared what his faith was if any.

I was pleased to learn that he was a devout disciple of Christ and had been for a long time.

Besides me there were about 500 or maybe 600 more people there to pay Ron respect and to try and help his family's grief as much as we could by our mere presence.

I'm not the only one to write something about Ron:
The comments are worth reading as much as the articles.

It was in the service that I learned that Ron nearly always ended his conversations with others with a resounding "Smile and Give 'em Heaven!"

I like that.