"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


PYROMANIACS by Centurion

You know: deaths by medical error outnumber firearm fatalities by a factor of 17:1; deaths by medical error outnumber auto fatalities by a factor of 5:1.  You think you're safe in the hospital, but I would suggest that you're in one of the most dangerous places in the world for two reasons: both you and the care providers are, in all real respect for their years of hard work and real intention to be doing no harm, overconfident.

My point is not to minimize the death of these children, or make you fear the hospital: it is to open your eyes to the fact that the natural state of the world is not safe and secure.  The natural state of the world -- the way it really is all around us every day and we simply overlook it -- is that it is a deadly and dangerous place.   

See: the natural state of things is that people die all the time due to no direct fault of their own.  Families are left fatherless or motherless -- or both.  The oldest child, or only child, is safe on the rainy night driving home from work and is killed the next night when she went to the convenience store for milk and a drunk ignored the red light.  The fellow in the locker next to you at work doesn't realize the safety on the overhead crane is broken, and you have to explain it to the OSHA investigator because you pulled him out from under it, too late. 

But here's the thing: this does not spoil Christmas.  It in no way denigrates Christmas, or makes Christmas a joke.  This fact makes Christmas necessary.

[We have always, and we continue to need a transcendent God who can save us from ourselves.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


November 20th, 2012

Hi Quinn, you'll not be reading this for a few years but I just want to tell you something.  I was upstairs crying when they were struggling to bring you into the world on November 19, 2012.  It was touch and go there for a couple of hours and I was pretty scared.  But you had good doctors, nurses and a loving God who was determined you were going to make it; and make it you did.

Today is the second day of your life; they're weaning you off the oxygen and your Mom is starting to feel a little better  prepared to take you home in the next couple of days.  Besides your Mom and Dad, you've got Grandpa and Grandma Wolfer and Grandma Brown up there with you.  You don't know it but you have a ton of family who has been praying for you for the last few months but particularly in the last few hours.  You are most fortunate Quinn, not everybody comes into this world with all the love and prayers you have been bathed with.

Quinn, I've waited along time to be a grandfather and you have made it come true.  You'll be my favorite oldest granddaughter for ever.  I've got your name on my heart and that won't change.
I think you're going to like life.young lady and you're definitely going to flourish and prosper;  All the Wolfer/Brown grandchildren do ( a little humor; you are, so far, the only Wolfer/Brown grandchild).

I hope to come see you in a couple of months; take lots of pictures and hold serious talks about your future.  I'll take the pictures of course, you can do some of the talking.  It'll be great.  I'll show you how to hold my finger in your little fist.  What fun that will be.  And if you're lucky I'll play the "So-do-we" game where I bounce you up and down on my lap then pretend to let you slip to the floor.  I loved that game when I was your age and I'm going to teach you how to play it.  (Don't worry, I'll do all the hard work, you just squeal with laughter.)

I promise to continue to pray for you Quinn as long as I have breath - which might be a very, very long time. You never know.  I might not get to see you too much in person but we're gonna SKYPE like crazy; yes siree.  I'll do my part while you thoroughly enjoy being Quinn in a loving family, that's your part.

Well bye for now Quinn; I'll see you in a couple of months, "The Lord willing and the creek don't rise."

I love you Quinnie - Grandpa JB
April 13, 2013

Well Quinn, instead of me coming up to Medicine Hat to see you, we decided to fly you and your Mom down to Florida to see  all us.   Instead of only getting to you see you 3 or 4 days, I'm getting to see you 2 weeks plus.  It has been so much fun holding you, playing with you and talking with you.  You've held my fingers, we've played "So-DO-We" and I have played  " This Little Piggy" with your toes.  It's been all fun and you have enjoyed yourself immensely.

This is my favorite picture of us ( and we've taken a ton of pictures ).

You've just finished your bath and your Mom has handed you to me to hold and dry while she cleans up.   It's so much fun.

August 2013 -
Your Dad, Grandma Wolfer and other family members took a trip to Europe so you and your Mom came down to spend a month with us.  You were 9 months old and we had a wonderful time.  We took a lot of pictures and one day we went to the beach.  This is my favorite Grandpa/Quinnie picture.

Grandpa's are born to take their Granddaughters to the beach.  It was so much fun and I love this picture of you and me.

Nov. 1, 2014 - Hi Quinn, you're almost two and you have been staying in Jacksonville with "Gaga" and "Papa" for the last 20 days.  You came down with your Dad and Mom.  Dad had to return after a few days but you and your Mom have been here enjoying your grandparents and the city.  Actually, the joy is all ours.  As Uncle Tom said on one of his Facebook posts, while you were a handful you were still "adorbs."  I agree with his assessment.
You talk wonderfully, you run all over the place.  You're still putting random things in your mouth if we don't watch you like a hawk but you bring smiles to our faces every single day.  You've gone to the Zoo, you've gone to the beach seveeral times.  You got your first haircut AND you went Trick or Treating on Halloween dressed in your tiger outfit.  You were cute.  Sadly for Gaga and Papa, you'll be going back home in two days.  We are going to SOOOOoo miss you.  I'm just glad we can see you and talk to you on SKYPE everyday.  So we still get to see you growing up.
Me 'n Gaga love you to pieces Quinn.  We love watching you grow up.    Papa

Monday, November 12, 2012


As I mentioned in a previous post, I tend to be a little wacko about living efficiently.  Today was no exception.

I'm getting ready to turn into a gas station to fill up when a lady driving a similar sized vehicle pulls in first (she broke no laws doing so, she just didn't let me go first).  Well I'm irritated and I mutter to myself, "Lady you might have pulled in first but I'm betting you'll pull out last because I am deadly efficient when it comes to pumping gas.

Even as I'm pulling up to my pump and braking, I'm reaching down to pull on the little gas lever lid release then immediately grabbing my wallet out of the door pocket all in one continuous movement.  I turn off the engine but leave the keys in the ignition so I won't have to search my pockets for the keys when I'm ready to drive off.  Even as I step out of the car, I'm opening my wallet for the I.D. card allowing the  I.D. reader to search it and give me the green light.  While waiting for the green okay, I'm grabbing the credit card with my other hand, flipping it to the right position to push and pull it out of the credit card reader once I get the okay.  Still holding the wallet open, I stick both cards back into their proper places while waiting to hit the "credit" versus "debit" button when it appears.  At the first sign of my zip code address request, I'm typing away with one hand while reaching behind me with the other to unscrew the gas lid.  It's all going like clockwork.

The gas pump computer whirs for a few second then tells me to grab the gas pump gun and chose the octane.  In a flash I've got the gun in the tank, push the 87 octane button and begin pumping away.  Somewhere around the 40 dollars mark, I'm done.  Rapidly I return the gun to the pump, spins the gas cap into place (making sure I hear those little clicks), slam the little gas lid close, step into the car while simultaneously slipping the wallet back into the door.  Put on the seat-belt, start the ignition and begin driving out.

Ah HAH!  The lady is STILL in the process of pumping gas while I'm driving away.  OBVIOUSLY an inefficient gas pumper.

I guess I showed her.  EFFICIENCY RULES!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

DAVID PETRAEUS; his adultery goes public

1) I do hope Mrs. Petraeus has wonderful friends, a good support system and a strong faith.  How would it be to wake up one day and find your marital issues spread all over the nations news?  I have no idea what she is like but I'm thinking she's not too happy and truly caught on the proverbial Horns of a Dilemma.  She and David have been married many years, have a lifetime of memories and now it's all up for grabs.  What should she do, which way should she go.

My rabbinical counsel to Mrs. P;  DON'T MAKE ANY MAJOR DECISIONS THIS YEAR.

Either she can live with the adultery or she can't; but it simply takes time to sort it out and you cannot really rush the process.  Take your time Mrs. P.  Don't let anybody rush you into a life changing decision.

2) David, I hope you are actually a good guy.  Your sins are acknowledged, you've already done the "wrong thing," now it's time to do the next "right thing."  If you're actually a "good guy," you will.

Two famous people who have actually set good examples after their betrayals of their spouse are Chris Evert and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Chris left her husband of 18 years, Andy Mills, for the Australian golfer Greg Norman, and within 18 months rapidly found out it was a mistake.  She later said her husband, Andy, did not deserve this.  And then she fell apart.

Arnold's background is one of extensive promiscuity.  High profile marriage, had at least one, if not more affairs, and when this one went public, his wife Maria Shriver divorced him.  He has said publically and privately "He screwed up."  After a separation, Maria has divorced him though he indicates he'd like to get back with her.

My rabbinical counsel to Gen. P:  DO EVERYTHING WITHIN YOUR POWER TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE.  You're gonna have to be patient but you can rebuild if she'll let you.

Finally Gen. P.  There is a great and forgiving God; I'd encourage you to seek after Him with all your heart.  He is the one who takes lemons and makes lemonade. He'll be your anchor thru the storm if you'll let Him.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trying to avoid the Old-Fart-Syndrome

I have felt, for a number of years, extraordinarily blessed because I have never suffered chronic pains.  I'm well into my "mature years" and finally some chronic old age pain has surfaced.  It's nothing terrible, just a knee that is approaching the bone-on-bone stage of existence where the meniscus or pad that keeps the bones from rubbing against each other has warn down and now allows the inside edges of my leg bones to begin grinding against each other.  In the future all of the pad will cease to do it's job and I will creak as I walk.
The pain itself is nothing intense; on a scale of 1 to 10 it never goes above a 4 and I can generally walk it down to a one. The problem is the nighttime when any little pain can so easily disturb sleep.  Now I am limited to only a couple of sleeping positions where it doesn't cause me too much discomfort and I can fall asleep.  4 months ago I was sleeping soundly, now I'm not.  Bummer.
So I have now begun to take, Cosamine ( over the counter) and Aleve at my orthopedist' suggestion.  It seems to be helping but I hate having to take any pills/meds on a daily basis and have avoided it until now.
All of this is a "heads up" pointing towards a future with more limitations.  The modern surgical solution is a knee replacement, some friends of mine have certainly experienced great benefit from knee/hip replacements but I hope to avoid that option as long as I can.
So I continue to ride the bike as long and hard as I can.  Surprisingly the riding motion seems not to bother the knee though I'm careful to refrain from hard accelerations which could lead to ligament strains or tears.  My friends assure me that when the time comes to give up the racing bike I'll look just fine on a 3 wheeler with a metal basket on the front to hold the groceries.  (Yes, those are the kinds of friends I have - dryly.)
But I have recently joined a gym (not yet open) and am going to try lap swimming plus other things to keep me invigorated and young.

I am grateful, I can still work ( I have a job that requires no physical labor ) and my pains are minimal.  But in the far distance I can sense the final horizon.

I am determined, I WILL be thankful to the Living God who has with great patience granted me much grace over the years.  So let the aging process continue; tomorrow I start searching Craigslist for a 3 wheeler with an aerodynamic basket in which to store the groceries.

It's all good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mister Ed

Curiously enough, "Mister Ed's" real name was Bamboo Harvester and he died a somewhat untimely death in 1970 from kidney disease.  A different horse, thought to be Mister Ed died it 1979 but it was not the real Bamboo Harvester.

GETTING MISTER ED TO TALK:  (Wikipedia) It is often said the crew was able to get Mister Ed to move his mouth by applying peanut butter to his gums in order for him to try to remove it by moving his lips. However, Alan Young said in 2004 that he had started the story himself.[5] In another interview, Young said, "Al Simon and Arthur Lubin, the producers, suggested we keep the method a secret because they thought kids would be disappointed if they found out the technical details of how it was done, so I made up the peanut butter story, and everyone bought it. It was initially done by putting a piece of nylon thread in his mouth. But Ed actually learned to move his lips on cue when the trainer touched his hoof. In fact, he soon learned to do it when I stopped talking during a scene! Ed was very smart."[6]

Young also states in the AAT interview that after the first season, Ed did not need the nylon – Alan and trainer Les were out riding one day and Les started laughing, telling Alan to look at Ed, who was moving his lips every time they stopped talking, as if attempting to join in the conversation. This difference is visible when comparing first season episodes to later ones, as it is clear that early on he is working the irritating string out, sometimes working his tongue in the attempt too, and later on he tends to only move his upper lip, and appears to watch Alan Young closely, waiting for him to finish his lines before twitching his lip.

Young added in the Archive interview that Ed saw the trainer as the disciplinarian, or father figure, and when scolded for missing a cue, would go to Alan for comfort, like a mother figure, which Les said was a good thing.[7]

It's been a few years since the show was produced (from 1961-1966) but it is still on cable; still pretty funny if you ask me.

"Mr. Ed., I toast you with a raised bowl of oats."

Monday, September 17, 2012


I don't watch a lot of TV but I admit to thoroughly enjoying PERSON OF INTEREST. Beyond the acting and all that it entails is the underlying premise;   a computer program that has been written to access all databases and make projections that something is about to happen to a particular individual (Person of Interest).  At that point our protagonists insert themselves into the picture and attempt to prevent an unforeseen tragedy or death..  The various protagonists interventions are okay but not the fascinating part.

Let us assume that INDEED, elements of our government wish they did have a computer tapped into all kinds of databases to prevent possible attacks.  Certainly the Patriot Act was the beginning.of an attempt to do just that.  So the underlying premise, a desire for a computer program that can predict future events, is a very real desire and we continue to see it in our government.   Can you begin to feel a little paranoia?  I can.

While I don't think the government yet has an effective program able to do what the program is able to do on Person of Interest,  I certainly believe that the government is working on EXACTLY that type of program.

Are there people in the government that would use a computer like that for selfish purposes?  ABSOLUTELY!.  Can safeguards be put into place that would guarantee it would not be misused?
ABSOLUTELY NOT.   That is the problem.  There is No Way to build a computer program with access to incredible amounts of details about everybody's lives that would never be used for evil.

The problem is this:
  The programmers are not beyond evil
  The architects of the plan are not beyond evil.
  The users of the program are not beyond evil.
  The administrators, assistants, aides, and clerks are not beyond evil.
Any number of people would be tempted to use the program to enhance their lives at the expense of others and NONE of us are beyond evil.

What this computer program is ultimately about is providing to it's users an UNBELIEVABLE TEMPTATION to have god-like power, to decide life and death, sickness or health, poverty or riches.

There would be no fail-safe device that could ultimately prevent this program from actually doing the exact opposite of what is was designed;  instead of doing great good, it would INEVITABLY do the exact opposite; great evil.  That is the history of human behavior; great evil done in the name of the greater good.

As the ancient Scriptures say, "the heart of man is desperately wicked; who can know it?"

So at this point, I look forward to the next season of Person of Interest.  Already the plot has acknowledged the potential for great abuse and what the writers of the show will come up with should be interesting.

Finally, our ultimate protection against a machine like this is actually the fallibility of human nature.  Our lack of integrity,  overwhelming pride, greed,  and desire for power  means the engineers, programmers and builders will continually be sabotaging each other in their attempt to attain pre-eminence over others thereby mutually thwarting their own selfish ends.

A successful conspiracy requires truly righteous people.  But righteous people do not engage in conspiracy.
Therefore all conspiracies are doomed to fail because of the inherent fallibility of pagan men.

Theoretically, the machine could be built; realistically, it won't.

The  New Tower of Babel will not be built.  I don't think God will let it.

Monday, September 10, 2012


"Ned," has some dementia but is self grooming, gets around with his cane and appears to be basically intact.  For reasons unknown to me, he has been placed in the nursing home, his status doesn't appear that serious.  I think he'd do fine in assisted living but nobody asked me.
 His wife comes to visit and she has power of attorney and is the only decision maker as to his activities; such as attending a church locally.  She has to allow it otherwise it can't happen.
She's physically healthy but she appears to have some dementia and doesn't want to make decisions.
Ned got upset with the facility the other day and went out the front door and headed down the street.  Police were called, they escorted him back to the facility but refused to do a 3 day commitment.  Staff put him 1-to-1 with a male nurse because they didn't know what to do.
Sunday rolls around, Ned gets dressed, ready for his pastor to pick him up and take him to church.  The wife is called, told she needs to come in and decide if he can go to church.  She comes, but doesn't know what to do.  She insists the nurses make the decision, they tell her that only she can make the decisions.  She is in a dither, continue to argue that the nurses must make the decisions and she'll go along with it.  The head nurse say, "No, you are the only one who can make the decision."  They go back and forth for a good 1/2 hour in this same vain.  She is sooo upset, looking for guidance but it is her decision alone.  She never makes it but the nurse finally intuits her acceptance of his going off to church with his pastor.

Ned wants to live at home, wife doesn't want him to.  Ned has some dementia; wife has some dementia.  Children are not in view.  Wife empowered to make all decisons but doesn't want to make any.  The nursing home is stuck in the middle with an obligation to go EXACTLY by the law lest they be sued.

Ned's unhappy, his wife is unhappy, the nursing home is unhappy but at the moment "it is what it is" and  I watch with great sadness the situation of Ned and his wife.  One wishes for an easy solution but as in real life; there doesn't appear to be one.

God helps us all.

Friday, August 31, 2012


BOBBY came by the nursing home today to visit with his wife for awhile.  I'm not sure of Bobby's age but he appears to be in good enough shape.  His wife, on the other hand, is destined to spend the rest of her life in a nursing home.  Sometime he pushes her down the hall in her wheelchair, sometimes she just remains in bed but she looks forward to seeing him.

BOBBY is one of the good guys.  He's been coming to visit his wife day after day for several years now. The nurses like him; he rarely raises a fuss.  I suspect Bobby and his wife  been married at least 50 years, maybe longer.  I'm not sure what he does with the rest of the day but he does not ever neglect visiting his wife.  Outside of the nursing home, BOBBY is for all intents and purposes a widower.  I don't know how he does it, I just know he comes to check on his wife Every Single Day.  Nobody has ever heard him complain. He always shows up.

BOBBY is one of the good guys.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dummy with a Smart Phone

I've had a cell phone since 1995, in fact I still have the same phone number 17 years later.  But I've been feeling left behind with all the new Smart Phones that have been out a few years now.  Even my wife has one and of course my kids do too.
So a friend of mine just bought himself the latest iPhone.  I asked him what happened to the old one.  He said it was sitting in a desk drawer at home.  I asked what was wrong with it; apparently it has some difficulties with "the cloud."  I have no idea what "the cloud" is but my 10 year old Nokia never complained about it.
Anyhow, we made a deal; I'd buy him  a "Loop 'n Cheddar" at a local burger spot and I'd get the Iphone.
Quite the deal if you ask me.  He gave me the phone ( without a charger, without a connector, etc.) and I started trying to find out what company I could use it with; AT&T was the answer.  I didn't particularly like that answer after viewing their monthly plan.  The young clerk then told me there was a store in town that could "unlock" the iPhone pretty cheaply.  Wasn't sure what that was but headed down to the store where they told me they could, indeed, unlock the phone enabling me to use it on any network I chose.
One day and 50 buckazoids later, the phone was unlocked and I signed up with "Simple-Mobile" (cheap, generic version of T-Mobile) - non contract, 1 month at a time, everything for $45 bucks.  We'll see how it goes.  If I don't like the new phone company I can always change.
I feel like a new man but at this point in time my iPhone do anything but make and receive calls, just like my 10 year old Nokia.  More precisely; I don't know how to do anything but make and receive calls.  I did download Skype and Kik; hopefully I'll be able to use them with my daughter living out of the country.

Now I'm a dummy with a smart phone.  We'll see how this works.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My 7th grade core teacher was Mr. Bill Spratling.  ( It should be obvious, we didn't call him Bill.  Maybe nowadays the kids might; but not back then.)  He was in his second year of teaching.  Before he achieved his college degree he had been in the Army; even showed us a couple of pictures.  I recall him being fair but not inclined to put up with much foolishness from his junior highers.

 His favorite punishment for a student acting inappropriately was to have them stand next to the pencil sharpener.  He would take the little catch barrel, pour out the pencil shaving and tell the poor student to start counting.  It was tedious and embarrassing.  The class is sitting at their desks, you're standing up front trying to count innumerable pencil shavings.  Mr. Spratling has assured you he knows EXACTLY how many there are.  In 7th grade you believe him so you count very faithfully. I think I did this twice.  The second time was no better than the first.

I matriculated on to 8th grade and from then on had very little contact with Mr. Spratling.  Seventeen years later, long gone from the community,  I was back in town for some business and happened to swing by my Junior High one afternoon at 4:30.  Kids had been dismissed at 4 but the building were still open.  Being a rabid nostalgist, I wondered down into the basement of the old main building where Mr. Spratling had held class.  The door was open, the light was on so I walked in.  There, much to my surprise, was Mr. Spratling.
I introduced myself; told him I had been in his class those many years ago.  He looked at me carefully and said he remembered me.  He then pointed to a desk where he said I sat.  I pointed to a different desk and said I had sat over there but talking with him it was evident he remembered me.  Later on that evening I remembered that he had CORRECTLY pointed out the desk I sat in the first semester, I had pointed to the desk I sat in the second.  Seventeen years later Mr. Spratling could correctly place me in his classroom.

I wasn't the smartest, nor the dumbest.  I wasn't the most obnoxious, certainly not the nicest.  I wasn't the funniest, wasn't the quietest.  I was pretty much a middle-of-the-road kid. Seventeen years later Mr. Spratling remembered me.

Kudos to you Mr. Spratling.  I suspect hundreds of kids have good memories of 7th grade under your expert tutelage.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Will men attend a women led church


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Here is to ROBERT WESTERMAN.   He was not a close friend but we worked in the same business periodically crossing each other's path and sharing small tidbits of humor about the institutions we serviced.

He died in bed at the all too young age of 49.  It is still a shock.  He leaves a family behind to try and find their way with their Dad and Husband now gone.

Rob never offended anybody, was quite low-key in his interactions and did his job in a professional manner.

To his children I say;  Rob was a well respected member of the medical community.  You can be proud that he was your Dad.

Robert Westerman;  R.I.P.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grandma G; the Scrabble Nazi

One of the pleasures of childhood was being able to  spend  a week with my grandmas.  Nana lived at the beach, I loved visiting her; mostly because I spent my day at the beach and she just enjoyed having me around; either cooked something I liked or we went to COFFEE DAN'S in Redondo Beach; they had great vanilla malts.
But I loved Grandma G too; however she lived in a small house in the middle of L.A. on a small, extremely steep dead-end street.  There were no kids around so my week with her often had elements of boredom but I was happy enough to be there for a few days cause my Grandma G loved me.
She was forced to drop out of school in 8th grade and go to work, her father had deserted the family and life because extremely impoverished for her Mom and her siblings.
Grandma G was very motivated to get out of poverty and achieve education and she spent the rest of her life reading widely with an emphasis on the Bible; which she read to me every morning.
Her favorite game was SCRABBLE and with all her reading, she had a world class grasp of possible words made out of the Scrabble tiles.  She began to teach me Scrabble when I was 8 or 9.  Grand G was competitive and she loved to win; it didn't matter who she was playing or how good  ( or bad ) they were.
It didn't take me long to realize A) Grandma G was merciless and B) she wasn't above gloating when ever she cleaned her grandson's clock.
We'd be playing, I'd put down C A T and earn 3 or 4 points.  She'd put down quokka with the Q on triple points and earn 50 to 60 points and be absolutely gloating.  Early on, I thought Grandma might take my youth, education and lack of word knowledge into account and give me a break.  But as far as I can remember, her objective was to win big and crush her grandson in the process. I don't recall ever winning or even coming close.
In Little League baseball there's a mercy rule; if one team is up big then the game is shortened.  Well Grandma G had no interest in the mercy rule for Scrabble with her 9 year old grandson.  We played 'til all the tiles were gone.  Generally, I had about 20 points, she had about 300.
I remember one time spelling out J A N E with the J on triple points.  I was excited; then Grandma pushed the tiles back to me and said that wasn't an acceptable word.  "WHAT?"  I cried.  "I've been reading about Dick and Jane; Jane is too a real word."  Grandma then informed me it was a personal pronoun and totally unacceptable in the game of Scrabble.  Well I was vexed, but Grandma claimed to know the rules and I had never read them  ( probably couldn't at this stage) and ended up spelling  I H A T E U which Grandma also rejected.  (Actually I don't think I did that but that's what I was thinking, you betcha.)
There's always life lessons to be learned and I learned one in particular; DON'T PLAY SCRABBLE WITH GRANDMA.  From then on I became either quite clever or deviantly devious in avoiding Scrabble games after the first couple of years.  Even then I lacked the martyrdom gene and losing big to Grandma brought me no lasting pleasure so I created what ever diversion I could to avoid head-to-head competition in a game I couldn't win.  Grandma mourned my stubbornness but eventually quit forcing me to play.
I think Grandma G died in about 1974 and I mourned her passing; she was a fine grandmother even if she was a Scrabble Nazi.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rain and the Bike

Yesterday I wished to take a brief (14 mi.) bike ride.  About 3 miles down the road it looked like it was starting to rain and the clouds ahead were looking dark and gloomy.  So I pulled off the road and parked under an overpass.  Well the rain came hard and fast with thunder and lightening accompanying.  I kept waiting for it to clear; this is basically a tropical area where summer storms come and go often within a few minutes.
It continued to look gloomy so I called my wife to come get me if she could.  By the time she showed up the rains had actually stopped though it was still cloudy.  I accepted the ride and by the time we got home even the clouds were pretty much gone.
I've often thought; if you live in the Pacific Northwest you must ride in rain a lot.  But I don't live in those places and more often than not have sunny times in which to ride.
Maybe the guys/gals riding in Portland and Seattle have rain gear.  I don't.
Generally, it's enough to find an overpass or an overhang; sooner or later the summer storm will move on.
I'm not sure I could adapt if I moved to the Pacific Northwest and wanted to keep riding;  rain dribbling down the back of the shirts is just a wee frustrating - cold too if you're in the Northwest.

A few years ago, my buddy Ed and I were on a long bike ride in central Florida.  There's a bike trail that goes over the Swanee River, wonders down into Chiefland and heads back to Bell.  We're in the last 15 miles and we see and hear a storm coming up our of the west.  It's nasty; unrelenting thunder and lightning.  We're not near any facilities, kind of out in the country but there's a wooden kiosk ahead that's been built for people on the trail.  We race to get there arriving about the same time the storm does.  It is incredible.  We're holding our ears and sitting up on the backs of the wooden benches being careful to not have our feet down in the water or be touching our metal bikes.  We're terrified we're going to be the recipients of a direct strike and Ed is temporarily uninsured.  We think being under a wooden roof is relatively safe but wonder what will happen if our bikes take a direct hit. It pours and pounds for a good half hour than moves off.  I suggest to Ed we can leave be he's still worried about being uninsured.  We had to wait another 1/2 hour before I could convince uninsured Ed that it was time to head on home.

Tomorrow's possibly another opportunity to ride in good enough weather.  If the rains come, I'll find another shelter in which to ride it out.

A bike ride? "It's all good."

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Meeting a cellist

My wife and I frequently attend our local symphony that is highly regarded among mid sized American cities.  Our first cellist is a young Russian of some world renown. Though I rarely sit in the front section, the way the orchestra is laid out, everybody can see the concertmaster (primo violinist) and also the first cellist who is always to the immediate right of the conductor as you look towards the stage.  Since the musicians are elevated on the stage it can be a little hard to assess their actual size. Our cellist is notable for very short hair and a cherubic look.
So I'm in this organic grocery store eating a sandwich when this young man walks to a table with his sandwich.  He's mid-sized, a cherubic face and has a short haircut.  However he's wearing knee length basketball shorts and a Tee shirt with sandals; pretty casually attired.   I keep looking, he reminds me our our symphony's cellist.  Hmm - Finally I work up the nerve walk over to catch his attention and ask him if he plays the cello.  He looks puzzled then responds, "Yes I do."   I tell him I have enjoyed his work in the symphony and he seems pleased.  I ask him how often he is recognized and he states, "all most never."
We have a brief discussion as to whether or not the concertmaster is more often recognized, Alexei responds; "of course, he's the boss."  But in the classical music world, it's possible Alexei is more famous.  He is superb.  It was fun chatting with him; seemed like a nice young man.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Excellent post.  There ARE real victims but declaring yourself a victim/survivor because you attended a church that you felt uncomfortable with, that's pretty pathetic "victimization."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Fascinating podcasts regarding modern tech stuff; Windows, Mac, Iphones/Droid phones, and all things deemable.  Deemable Tech; your chance to keep current with some funny guys.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

6 a.m.

It's early Sunday morning and I'm at my cubicle getting ready to start reviewing files.  The 3 story building is totally empty but it's secure and the quiet doesn't bother me.  I like working when it's quiet.  I do enjoy the people I work with but my focus is better when it's just me.  Since I'm a "contractor," I don't have set hours, I can work when I want as long as I can get into the building and the computerized system isn't down for repairs/upgrades/time-outs.  We'll see how much I get done this a.m. before I head off to church.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I've owned a number of racing bicycles over the years and even more racing bicycle seats. They LOOK uncomfortable and frankly they are to a greater or lesser degree. But it is the narrowness of the seat ( which is inherently uncomfortable ) that makes it possible to sit atop it for hours at a time without destroying the flesh of one's inner thigh.  They are far more comfortable than they used to be and a good expensive seat uses high tech materials to both give and hold shape conforming to the rider's buttocks.  If you find a comfortable seat, you'll hold on to it as long as you can.  But eventually they lose their elasticity, become ever more uncomfortable until you give up; go to the local bike store and plunk down a hundred or so samolians in the hopes of buying a little more comfort.  ( You can't buy a quality bike seat at Target or Walmart.  Ain't gonna happen.)

Over the years; you adapt.  I no longer know what a truly comfortable seat is like because on racing bikes, they don't exist.  You simply become accustomed to permanent discomfort and reach the place where you simply don't think about  the pain unless you're on a several hour ride.  Then you just live with it.

Two items that are immensely helpful are the black, spandex biking shorts with  an insert in the crotch.  A couple of decades back, the shorts were made of wool and had a real, honest-to-goodness chamois in the crotch.  You can still buy them but they are mega expensive. But now the spandex shorts come with just some synthetic fabric that is a figure 8 shaped pad of sorts.  ( No, you don't wear underwear under the shorts.  Underwear has hems, which can chafe you, and are  also likely to become creased, which can also chafe you. It's just you, the insert and the spandex.).  The pants make a HUGE difference in the comfort level of the ride.

A second helpful item for the long rides is something called "Butt-R."  It's a lubricant that theoretically keeps the pain down.  It works for awhile.  I always found the name quite clever.  "Butt-R" indeed.

So there you have a brief post on the seriously uncomfortable, but totally necessary, narrow bicycle seat.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bicycling thru Life

I lived on a little semi cul-de-sac in an L.A. suburb when I was growing up.  There were 13 boys within 5 years of my age on this one little street and we were always playing something.  Everything I learned about sports and arguing I learned on Helmer Dr.

My mother, wisely, thought that little boys with too much privacy might find trouble so her iron-clad rule with me was; you can't be in anybody's house and you can't be in their back yard.  Stay in the front yards or on the street and ask before you go up or down the street.  By the time I reached 14, I was absolutely sick of this rule.  I still had to ask Mom if I  wanted to go down the street.  Then my older cousin, Tom, gave me an old bicycle of his.
[It was actually a strange bike; it had the racing type frame and the narrower tires but it was a 1 speed.  Who ever heard of a one speed racing type bike?  But I digress.]

My parents began to let me ride around the city.  I STILL had to ask permission to go down the street but I was now able to get on my bike and ride all over the city without telling  Mom in advance where I was going; often I didn't know.  So with my cousin's bike, I discovered freedom and mobility.  My love affair with the bike had begun.
Now my Dad, raised under a less suspicious regime, had spent his boyhood riding all over Los Angeles with his cousin and best friend Bill Bailey. So when I showed an interest in riding around, he ultimately supported me against my more fearful and concerned Mom.  Then when I was 14, I talked them into letting me ride 30 miles to my grandma's house in Hermosa Beach one summer.  We are talking L.A. when there were NO bike lanes, No colorful spandex to warn others, NO arroyos to ride, only big cars and wacky drivers and life threatening smog.  Even now I'm astounded they let me do that.  I remember being rather frightened on the trip because I had only ridden to Grandma's sitting in the back seat of the family sedan so I was pioneering a new route to Grandmas not at all positive where I was at any one time.( I'm pretty sure I had a map but at 14, who knows how to read a map?)  I was quite relieved when I got there without getting lost.  (This pre-dated the cell phone age by several decades, I'm not sure I could have handled a public phone to even tell anybody I was lost.  I was  that sheltered.)

But I got to Grandma's spent the week body-surfing and then rode the bike back home feeling like I had outpointed Christopher Columbus in the conquest of the unknown and the exhibition of bravery and daring-do.

Many decades later, I'm still biking.  It's still an adventure, it's still fun.
More biking tales to come perhaps.

Monday, June 18, 2012



No Longer Quivering – Vyckie Garrison

Roadkill on the Information Superhighway – Calulu

Love, Joy, Feminism – Libby Anne

The Phoenix and the Olive Branch – Sierra

Wordgazer’s Words – Kristen Rosser

Incongruous Circumspection – Joe Sands

Permission to Live – Melissa

Baptist Taliban and Beyond – Cindy Foster

Past Tense Present Progressive – Latebloomer

Dispelled: One Girl’s Journey in a Homeschool Cult - Chandra Bernat

Hopewell Takes on Life!

The Way Forward – Bruce Gerencser

Quiver Full of Information

Rethinking Vision Forum

Wartburg Watch

Beaverton Survivors

SGM Survivors

SGM Refuge

And so many more.

These allegedly Christian blogs are always upset at somebody or something. There commentors constitute an Amen chorus of upset people who are "shocked" "sickened" "stunned" "troubled" "horrified" "furious" "shaking"  etc..

Reading the blogs one tends to think that the authors of the articles and authors of the comments just learned that mankind has a bent towards sin; even those in the church or ministry.

As for spiritual abuse; apparently it didn't exist until this century - at least that the impression you get if you're reading the blogs and their amen chorus.

Oh well, Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the son."  I suspected the people under his kingship
also were  "shocked" "sickened" "stunned" "troubled" "horrified" "furious" "shaking"  etc..  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday, late afternoon

It seems strange to have nothing on my agenda for the next several hours.  I taped last night's NBA final but since my team lost, I'm not going to watch it.  I like watching games where I already know the outcome and my team has won.  It relieves a lot of stress.  It's more efficient that way also.  You get to skip the commercials and the fouls and the quarter/half-time reports.  You can watch a 2 hour game in an hour.  That's a plus.  But as I noted; my team lost so I'll just erase those two hours.

Saturday, June 09, 2012


I hate it that Gerry Rafferty drank himself to death at the age of 63.  As I'm writing this I'm listening to his last single, LIFE GOES ON, released in 2009.  Obviously, at the end of his life,  he could still write music; beautiful music and great lyrics. The one battle he didn't win was with himself.
They say his father was an abusive alcoholic; Gerry had at least one child, Martha, and she maintains the official website and has only nice things to say about her Dad.  One thing of note, she says he had a serious work ethic; was always working on his music.  He slept during the day, did his music at night, perhaps it was in the dark lonely hours that he drank.  Apparently he hid his alcoholism quite successfully from people who knew him but it ultimately owned his soul.

I heard Gerry believed in Karma; which would fit in with his hit single, If You Get it Wrong You Get It Right Next Time.  But his funeral was in a church in Scotland, a rare sunshiny day.  He had friends, they mourned his passing.  Holy Writ says, "It is appointed unto man once to die; then judgment."  There is no "second chance" to redo one's life.  Life doesn't go on.

Gerry will never again give the world a tune to hum, a musical story to sing, a vision of love to believe in.

I hate it that Gerry Rafferty drank himself to death at the age of 63.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Obsessed with efficiency

I hate for people to have to wait for me to finish; be it paying at the check out counter, ordering my Egg McMuffin at the drive thru or getting gas at the pump.

May I also say, I hate waiting for inefficient people.

For instance:  when you're going thru the check-out line at the grocery store, sooner or later you'll have to settle the bill.  It seems to me that with just a modicum of foresight you could be ready with your credit card, or cash, or checkbook as the cashier finishes ringing up your items.  So, when I start getting rung up, I immediately step to the swiping device for the credit card and complete the swipe while the cashier is still ringing up the items.  I'm pretty much set to go before the cashier finishes.  And then there are the others who sometimes appear shocked that the last stage of the grocery buying experience is for them to pay.  All of a sudden they're checking their pant, looking thru their purse or fumbling with their wallet as the whole process comes to a dead halt.  Now is it just me or do you also get a little irritated when people seem ill-prepared to follow thru with their responsibilities.  It's not like they haven't done this before.   OK, I admit I'm a little over-the-top with the efficiency thing but puhleese people, can some of you just add a little anticipation to your routine.  It will make a number of us much happier.

I go to work early and some mornings I order an Egg McMuffin from the local Mickey Dees.  An Egg McMuffin is relatively healthy choice if your going to have a fast food breakfast.  At 5:30 a.m., you'd think there wouldn't be much traffic going thru McDonald's and you'd be right.  But by 5:30, any servers have long since lost the ability to focus and move efficiently and then people are still having trouble deciding what to order from the clown face.  More than once I've been the second car in line and waited 10 minutes for my Egg McMuffin.
If there are 3 cars in front of me, I just drive off; I don't even bother to order.  It's not going to be efficient.

My "funniest" McDonald's fast food incident happened about 3 months ago.  There were these two young adults of a more relaxed ethnicity ahead of me in a 25 year old Ford and they are jawing back and forth with the clown face trying to make up their minds.  Finally, their order is in, they pull around the corner up to the window.  I've ordered my E.M. and wait my turn.  Well the cashier is at the window, they're all talking, the two young men have obviously made an order change and I'm thinking this could be awhile.  Suddenly, around the corner a car screechs into a parking space, a youngish lady hops out and runs over to the order window yelling her car is on fire.  Well I see steam, not necessarily  smoke and certainly no flames.  The two young guys in front of me promptly turn of their engine,  jump out of their car  and run over to the other car to participate in the fun and festivities.   I'm yelling to myself, "NOOOoooo.  Move your CAR!"  Well, that wasn't happening, I actually just gave up and drove off leaving behind an Egg McMuffin.  I really hate to do that but I had no confidence at all that I could pay for and receive my order before the inevitable fire engine arrived 15 minutes later.    AWKWARD.


My family moved to a new city in 1982 and I made a bunch of friends the 8 years I worked for the school.  Last night I got to see a bunch of them.

Gene , Sandee, Jim , Ruth, Jarod and Tim.  My friend Nev , David , Jim  and Sandy.  Dennis and Joyce  and their son Danny.  Dave and Suzie and their daughter Ashley, Ron , Dave , Brad , Rusty , Tim, Sharon ,  Ben , Ron, and Hal .  It was nice to see Sherri  who brought order into my chaotic years when I traveled weekly to help out.  It was also a blessing to see the Sajjahs.

These wonderful people have enriched my life.  May God continue to bless them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Johnny Carson; a final sadness

PBS had a special on Johnny Carson's life in 2012.  They interviewed friends, other comedians who knew him and even one of his ex-wives.  It was a fair and fascinating glimpse of a man who was immensely famous but increasingly private.  He had 4 failed marriages (he and his last wife never divorced but they ended up apart), he was never close to his sons  (his middle son was killed in a car accident on the Southern California roads), and at the end of his life he had about 4 friends left.  He was a serial womanizer and he spent much of his last years sitting on his back porch in Malibu staring at the sea.  He really did become a hermit; probably a natural situation for a man who could never have  privacy any other way.
He battled alcohol through-out his adult years; turns out he was a) a mean drunk and b) had bigger problem than Ed McMahon.
Emphysema took him at age 79.  He chose not to fight  the ravages of the disease caused by a lifetime of smoking.
He was generous, gave many people or organizations monetary gifts; and left $156 million to be distributed; a sizable amount.
He died, rich, incredibly famous and pretty much alone.  It was a sad ending.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In honor of Edwin Heppner

My freshman year at a small Christian college did not go well.  I was invited to NOT RETURN by the Dean of Men predicated by my "D" plus average and my really sucky attitude.
The one bright spot of the year was being a part of the Chorale.  We sang some great music and we also performed at various churches all dressed up in our Tuxs etc.  I was a very average baritone.  Average was my specialty.
The director was Mr. Heppner, a small dapper guy with a great tenor voice and a very nice wife. I did think, and do think many years later, he was an excellent chorale director.  Periodically I tried to track him down but with no success.  Then last week I was thinking of the chorale and decided to use the internet - specifically whitepages.com.  There were 3 people listed with his specific name and two of them were too young, according to the WhitePages.  So I decided to take a chance, spend a dime and call the one who lived in Arizona.  BINGO, I got him.  His wife answered the phone, I asked if this was the Heppner residence and if Mr. Heppner ever lead a college choral group.  She said, "Yes indeed, let me put you on."
I spoke with Mr. Heppner for about 5 minutes.  I knew he had left the college but didn't know why.  It turned out he had a very bad back and was increasingly unable to stand and lead choirs so he retired from that profession and became a driving instructor.  He said he had a seat especially made for him and it had worked out fine.  ( He ended up having a couple of different back surgeries and was never the same. )

I told him who I was and that he would not remember me ( again, I was a very non-descript baritone).  He wanted to remember me but he couldn't. I told him how much I appreciated and enjoyed my year in his chorale.  He seemed both touched and appreciative.  He again asked what my name was and I told him.
He is now very old and sounded very frail but delighted to hear from an old student.
 I'm glad I called him; I'm glad I could find him thru the wonders of the internet.

I did not tell him that of the 40 members of the chorale, 39 got "As" each semester and one non-descript baritone received a "B."  I didn't tell him A) because I have gotten so much humorous mileage out of that true story and  B) I was afraid he might feel badly about it.  That would have been thoughtless on my part. [Back in the day, the professor posted your grades next to your name on his door for all the world to see.  That's how I knew I had the only Bs. ]

So Mr. Heppner, you were a good man, an excellent tenor and a fine choral director.  Kudos to you and may God bless your remaining years.