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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why is the United Nations always wrong?

As usual, the United Nations is dead wrong. Yes, civilians were killed when an Israeli attempt to take out a missile launcher in Lebanon took out a building in a civilian neighborhood. But...

1) The Israelis warned of an impending strike so non-combatants could flee.
2) Hezbollah consistently fires rockets from civilian neighborhoods in order to use civilians as either a shield or a built-in political football when casualties occur.
3) Hezbollan consistently fires rockets at civilian targets on purpose, but their accuracy is such that the rockets often land in relatively empty fields.

How can the UN condemn the Israelis for this conflict when they are the ones who have been attacked first and are under a continual bombardment of missiles? Why is there no world-wide condemnation of terrorists who force civilians to remain near their emplacements so they may try to hide behind them? Why no condemnation of the continual lobbing of rockets with only civilian targets into Israel? Why?

I heard a commentator on the news say, "Kofi doesn't know his Anan from his elbow!"

Liberal moonbats, surrender-monkee rags like the New York Times, the United Nations, wimpy defeatist countries like France and political opportunists like Iran will all take the side of the terrorists.

Which side are you on?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lady in the Water - Plot down the drain

Dumfounded...

M. Night Shyamalan is a writer/director I admire. My whole family looks forward to his new movies, although we wait a few days to avoid the crowds. So it was only now that I ventured out with my wife and two of my kids to see the movie Lady In The Water, which looked like a horror/mystery/ story with a twist, perhaps like The Village. Perhaps it would be a Sci-Fi overlay for a deeper, powerful subplot, like Signs. He had produced the instant classics Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.

I was worried when the movie started with stick-figure drawings while a narrator explained the movie before it began. It is NEVER a good sign when a movie begins with a long narration or explanation, although some movies like Star Wars managed to come out all right anyway. But as I said, not a good sign...

Nevertheless, the immediate appearance of Paul Giamatti was a good omen, an actor I really love. He was amazing in Sideways! It was obvious that he would carry this movie. He now has a bad back. Not that there weren't other good acting jobs in this film, for there was a lot of real talent in this cast. Let's just say that Lady isn't exactly plot-driven. The plot is dragged along behind like a lame foot.

There is a treasure trove of oddball characters in this movie, a movie so lost that it needs a map and a GPS locator. There were many places where I believe we were perhaps expected to either clap or cry, but I was stifling laughter. It was like in the circus when a bunch of clown cars crash and the clowns all stagger out. It is weird and whimsical and funny but, yes, incredibly and majestically off-center. This is M. Night's "Plan 9 From Outer Space".

I suppose M. Night needs someone who can put a hand on his shoulder, look him in the eye, and say "No. Please, no!" But maybe I am wrong, maybe he wanted to make a movie so remarkably absurd that it was in some way allegorical of life as he sees it? Or did he find himself laughing so hard his sides would split thinking of all the people coming to be scared or mystified only to wind up stupified? If so, I got the joke I think - I whispered to my wife that I didn't know that he directed comedies (!) shortly before the climactic scene.

Lady really says nothing about nothing in a madcap and goofy way, so earnestly oddball that there will be critics who label it a masterpiece and a crowning achievement. They will be falling all over themselves to "get" the ungettable, which would be the point. There is no point.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Anal-O-Scope leads Friday Images!!!



There is an unbelievably bad name for a machine...








There is this very bad movie, Plan 9 From Outer Space.....



There was a proposed name for a new car: Pastelogram



There is a strange, weird and wonderful website known as Pastelogram aka plan59.com!
How can you not go see what is found there???






Will wonders never cease?!



~~~~~~~




While this wacky website listed above looks back and the 40's, 50's and very early 60's, there are also some images that apply to today's times. Michelle Malkin supplies the next two for us:





























Then there is how Alexandra sees Howard Dean...And Lebanese President Lahoud

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Red Friday

Below is the text of an email message I received from the mother of two soldiers:

RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority". We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions.

Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that.. Every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar will wear something red

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family. It will not be long before the USA is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is...We need your support and your prayers. Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear some thing red every Friday.

IF YOU AGREE -- THEN SEND THIS ON

IF YOU COULDN'T CARE LESS THEN HIT THE DELETE BUTTON --- IT IS YOUR CHOICE. WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, ONLY BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.

THEIR BLOOD RUNS RED---- SO WEAR RED --- MAY GOD HELP AMERICA TO BECOME ONE NATION, UNDER GOD.

HAVE A GREAT DAY!


The two soldiers are young men who I have known since they were small boys. They were both like auxiliary sons who spent vast amounts of time playing and hanging out with my sons. Often I would play sports with them or go places with them, sometimes with their dad along as well. They grew into fine young men and both chose, like my oldest son Rob, to join the military.

You may know that my son (Sergeant) Robert served in a combat zone in Afghanistan and while still in the military, is now stationed stateside.

Of the two young men previously mentioned, one of them (Specialist Four) Charles served in Iraq and is now back stateside. He is in the National Guard. The other, (First Lieutenant) Cecil, is preparing to go overseas to Iraq. Military and military-familiar folks call it "The Sandbox". The entire country is a combat zone so anyone deployed there is risking his life and limb for the sake of the rest of us.

I tend to dislike forwarding emails like the one above. Yet I am doing more than forwarding, I am publishing this one out of respect to the children and parents of those who serve their country. In an all-volunteer military force, those who serve are doing so by choice and not by force. They deserve to be acknowledged and honored. So I will find something red to wear on Friday. It is a small thing for me to do, is it not?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Edsel, Japanese automakers and the lessons of history

Time to get back to living...

I've put whatever energy I have had into the important things: work, family, etc. The blog has had to suffer. I believe I have it in me to begin again.

~~~~~~~

The Edsel

I have one of those flip calendars that sit on your desk. This particular one is "Cars of the '50's". Today's car, and I kid you not, is a 1958 Edsel Bermuda. Here is the description:

"Just 1,456 six-passenger Bermuda station wagons were built. Chalk Pink and Frost White two-tone paint ensured that this one wouldn't get lost in the parking lot."

They don't mention the two-tone wood trim along the side, the fat whitewall tires or the orange-yellow license plate.

Edsel was an abject failure for Ford and was at one time considered a symbol of the company's slide behind Chevrolet as the most popular car in America. It was a medium-priced car with oddball styling and an awkward name that never resonated with customers. Ford decided it would give customers something that customers didn't want. It took them awhile to figure out that Edsel was a failure, three years in fact. The 1958 Edsel was followed by the 1959 and then the 1960! Perhaps they didn't give up easily since the car had been so many years in the planning stages? It was back in 1948 that Henry Ford II called on his planning committee to begin work on a car that would be the Ford version of the Buick. Nine years later production would begin.

I have culled a small portion of the timeline from the Edsel.com website which, in retrospect, sheds some light on the planning of all cars. But this was particularly humorous to me...

October 19, 1955: After having problems determining a suitable name for the E-car, renowned poet Marianne Moore was approached to submit inspirational names.

November 7, 1955: Marianne Moore began to offer her list of names, which included such notables as "Resilient Bullet", "Ford Silver Sword", "Mongoose Civique", "Varsity Stroke", "Pastelogram" and "Andante con Moto".

December 8, 1955: Miss Moore submitted her last candidate: "Utopian Turtletop".


Here is an excerpt from an eyewitness account of the delivery of the first Edsels to a new dealership:

The first cars shipped came to the Ford Plant on Grand Avenue in Dallas. One morning about 3:00 A.M., I received a phone call from our Service Manager, Bill Showalter, urging me to get dressed and rush down to the Ford Plant. What I saw was unbelievable. Some of the car doors were roped closed. Some bumpers were roped up. Many of the cars equipped with the air bag shocks were practically on the ground. The "gear shift" was in the center of the steering wheel and if you used reverse, the trunk lid would open. Unbelievable. We then learned the dealers were receiving cars in the same condition. We were then instructed to contact all of our dealers and ask them if they preferred to receive their allotment with these kinds of cars, or take half their allotment with the cars in standard condition. Many of our dealers were former new car dealers who had canceled their franchises thirty to sixty days earlier and had no new cars to sell for some time. By far the majority replied to ship their allotment and they would fix them. Unfortunately many could not be fixed. The condition of the cars could not be kept quiet and competition had a "field day". It cost a fortune to get the cars corrected.


~~~~~~~

The end of an era

Edsel is a famous flop. It was symptomatic of what was going wrong in US Automobile manufacturing. Long used to having the fat-cat status of being the top dogs in the industry, US automakers became lazy. Union contracts were given out that were far too lucrative and that enabled a large percentage of the employees to spend time loafing rather than working. New cars were designed to be just a little different than the previous model year to encourage sales to those who had to have what is new. Yet technology was not emphasized as much as design. Quality controls were ineffective and the result was a product that was increasingly unsatisfactory.

The American consumer learned the words "designed obsolescence" because of the US auto industry. It seemed the cars were made to rust out and fail after about seven years of use. Disgruntled consumers looked to find better quality and choices in their cars. Some automakers paid the ultimate price within ten years of the advent of the Edsel, with Studebaker perhaps the classic example. Labor problems and shoddy manufacturing controls were key to the demise of the famous automaker and great improvements in these areas later on couldn't make up for the damage done during the late 40's and early 50's, when customers would find broken bottles left inside their car doors or curse words painted on the inside trunk lid.

I worked in the auto industry for just short of 18 years and I was there to see the end of an era. In the early 1980's Japanese automakers began to make inroads against the impression of the public that they made inferior cars. They utilized advanced quality control methods that ensured a better product. They worked hard at the technology needed to produce more efficient cars. Meanwhile, Detroit was content with business as usual. I think that perhaps the 1980's output from Detroit includes some of the worst cars ever made. It seems that the American consumer agreed.

As Toyota and Nissan and others made headway in the US and sales of the standard US automobiles dropped, Detroit began to wake up. They began to demand better quality control in their factories and in the factories of their suppliers. They put more money into R & D, they began looking to scale back wages and benefits. But it was too late.

Canny Japanese companies moved here, built factories here, and with the days of high-end wages for automobile workers at an end, they could get the highly productive American worker for less money that Detroit was paying, locked into contracts with labor unions first negotiated in the days of milk and honey.

In truth, both Toyota and Ford, like most automakers, are multi-national corporations. They have factories and subdivisions and other holdings scattered around the world. All money made by Toyota is not going to Japan nor is all Ford money staying here in the USA. There is still a huge pie to slice up, this demand for automobiles, and Ford is not going to go belly-up. Still, they once were the most popular automobile on the planet. They once were the most innovative and the one company more than any other that understood the marketplace. The Edsel epitomizes the end of an era in Detroit and was the harbinger for harder times to come.

~~~~~~~

There is only one letter's difference between "car" and "war."

Can we not learn from history? Change is inevitable in every endeavor. Cars had to change. Toyota saw this well before Ford did. Therefore, Toyota became the more successful corporation and Ford lagged behind.

The tactics of World War III have changed and we need to understand this, lest we become the Ford or perhaps even the Studebaker and Islam the Toyota. Allow me to explain:

Sure, the liberal side of the political coin during the 1920's and 30's could see the growing dangers of totalitarianism in the world but refused to think of doing anything to deal with the problems beyond talk. Communism in Russia, Fascism in Germany and Italy, Imperialism in Japan - Totalitarian governments that began to bully their neighbors, then swallow them whole. Negotiations with governments intent upon world conquest are foolish and meaningless. Hitler would promise to be good, then he would go conquer Poland.

Wiser heads prevailed as the dangers to freedom around the globe became apparent. The United States of America held back as other countries began fighting World War II, for we were not directly involved. December 7th, 1941 changed all of that. Pearl Harbor was a slap in the face that awoke America to the worldwide dangers. Hitler added to the sting by declaring war on the United States four days later.

Japan believed that the US was ill-prepared to fight a war on multiple fronts and would not try to stop Japanese advances in Asia and the Pacific if they wiped out our Pacific Fleet. The opposite happened. We got mad, and got going, and we threw ourselves into the building of the mightiest war machine mankind had ever known.

World War II was in fact a fight for free governments versus totalitarian governments as we look in retrospect. Hitler unwisely attacked the Soviets, desirous of their resources, and thereby made one of the totalitarian forces his enemy. We accepted their help and yet the Soviets would wind up winning, in part, the spoils that Hitler himself had sought. They greatly expanded their holdings in Europe and would be our primary enemy for the next four-plus decades. Ronald Reagan recognized their economic weaknesses, their philosophical weaknesses, and played off of that by challenging them militarily in a technological arms race that they could not win nor afford. His policies were the push that toppled regimes that had already begun teetering on their unstable foundations. He beat them, to an extent, at their own game.

As totalitarian governments were the threat in the 1920's and 30's, as they became the scourge of the 1940's, those who love peace at any price resisted armed conflict. They were wrong. We had to fight for our freedoms or lose them. Today, it is totalitarian governments and Islamofascists who are the threat. They have prepared for war and loosed it upon us.

Have we forgotten 9/11?


There are plenty of people who flatly stated that 9/11 was the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century. How soon we forget! War is different than it was for our grandparents. The enemy is not encased in fighter planes, in large ships, in lines of troops digging trenches. He is crouched within civilian living quarters, pressing the button on a remote-controlled IED. He is lobbing largely-unguided missiles across the border into Israel. He is strapping explosives to his chest and trying to take 40 other people into the afterlife along with him. Things have changed.

Israel is engaged in warfare that includes tanks and planes and yet it is primarily a war against terrorism, against people who hide among civilians, eschew uniforms and laugh at the Geneva Convention. It isn't pretty. But do we not understand that they are fighting our war, against our enemies? We find ourselves in Iraq, in Afghanistan, fighting terrorists rather than armies and yet while brave young military personnel risk everything to fight for us, there are so many at home who cry for peace at any price! They decry Israel and call for two idiocies at once - cease-fire and negotiations.

To the terrorists, a cease-fire enables them to gather more ammunition so they may begin again. To specifically terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, the idea of negotiations must be humorous indeed! They have vowed to destroy Israel and wipe out the Jews. There is nothing to negotiate.

In today's world, Midway is now Afghanistan. The beaches of Normandy are Iraq. Israel in South Jordan is Corregidor. Can you not see it? Do you not understand?

Those who tell you that cease-fires and negotiations and, God help us, the United Nations(!) will save the day are trying to sell you an Edsel.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

War and Frisbee Golf and Evolution/Creation confessions

War, Huh!
What is it good for?

Did we ask that during WWII? During WWI? Is all war bad?

Yes, all war is bad, but sometimes war is necessary. It is getting into a fight. It may be bad, yet if someone is continually slapping you in the face you may have to punch them in the nose to get them to quit. If someone is trying to rape your wife, you get them in a stranglehold until they pass out or cease resistance.

When someone is intent upon your destruction and war stops them from destroying you, then it is good for something.

~~~~~~~

Israel - fighting for existence since 1948.

There are very few among us who are happy that people are dying in Israel, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip right now. War has broken out in that region again. This is no surprise, since groups like Hamas and Hezbollah exist to wipe out Israel and Jews and have no other real purpose. Therefore they will always look to kidnap and kill and terrorize at every opportunity.

Therefore, this war had to happen, for Israel was bound to be pushed beyond reason and retaliate. In order for Israel to survive they must stop the ability of the enemy to freely lob rockets onto their lands and in order to ensure the end of kidnappings Israel must be steadfast and not give in to terrorist demands. The only wise course of action is to keep bombing the locations from which missles are fired and to cut off supply routes to Hezbollah in hopes of isolating them and destroying a large part of them.

I would think anyone who took Political Science and passed the course would see that Israel has no choice but to fight. The UN always fails to resolve this kind of situation, they are a useless organization in almost every way. A cease-fire simply allows the terrorists to regroup, resupply and start all over again. But the UN is hardly an neutral organization. Racism in the form of Jew-hating is apparently acceptable within the UN.

Israel was established as a nation by Britain and the United Nations almost 60 years ago. Non-Jewish Palestinians were encouraged to remain in the country and be part of the building of a new nation. But those who sought to do so were threatened by Jew-haters of their own kind and told to leave the country before the coming war to annihilate Israel would begin. The attempt to destroy Israel failed then, and every subsequent attempt has failed as well.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Establishment of the State


In 1947, following increasing levels of violence together with unsuccessful efforts to reconcile the Jewish and Arab populations, the British government decided to withdraw from the Palestine Mandate. The UN General Assembly approved the 1947 UN Partition Plan dividing the territory into two states, with the Jewish area consisting of roughly 55% of the land, and the Arab area roughly 45%. Jerusalem was planned to be an international region administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status.

Immediately following the adoption of the Partition Plan by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947, David Ben-Gurion tentatively accepted the partition, while the Arab League rejected it. Attacks on civilians chiefly by Arabs but also by Israelis soon turned into widespread fighting between Arabs and Jews, this civil war being the first "phase" of the 1948 War of Independence.

The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, one day before the expiry of the Palestine Mandate.

War of Independence and migration

Following the State of Israel's establishment, the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq joined the fighting and began the second phase of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. From the north, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, were all but stopped relatively close to the borders. Jordanian forces, invading from the east, captured East Jerusalem and laid siege on the city's west. However, forces of the Haganah successfully stopped most invading forces, and Irgun forces halted Egyptian encroachment from the south. At the beginning of June, the UN declared a one-month cease fire during which the Israel Defense Forces were officially formed. After numerous months of war, a cease fire was declared in 1949 and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were instituted. Israel had gained an additional 26% of the Mandate territory west of the Jordan River. Jordan, for its part, held the large mountainous areas of Judea and Samaria, which became known as the West Bank. Egypt took control of a small strip of land along the coast, which became known as the Gaza Strip.

During and after the war, then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion set about establishing order by dismantling the Palmach and underground organizations like the Irgun and Lehi. Those two groups were classified as terror organizations after the murder of a Swedish diplomat.

Large numbers of the Arab population fled or were driven out of the newly-created Jewish State. (Estimates of the final refugee count range from 600,000 to 900,000 with the official United Nations count at 711,000.[7]) The continuing conflict between Israel and the Arab world resulted in a lasting displacement that persists to this day.

Immigration of Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees from Arab lands doubled Israel's population within a year of independence. Over the following decade approximately 600,000 Mizrahi Jews, who fled or were expelled from surrounding Arab countries and Iran, migrated to Israel."



The nation of Israel has been far too kind in its dealings with its enemies, always ceding land back to them after conquering territories won during warfare started by those same enemies. The time may have come for them to change tactics and become more aggressive in dealing with an enemy that will not compromise. Let non-Jewish Palestinians live within Israel in peace, or move to Jordan or Syria. But the Israelis ought to just take over the Gaza strip and kill off the terrorists while booting their sympathizers out. They should occupy Southern Lebanon until Hezbollah is no longer a political force in Lebanon.

I'm not a Jew. But I do have a dog in this fight. Many of the same wingnut psychos who seek to kill Americans are part of the plot to wipe out Israel. Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, etc....they are all Islamofascists of the same stripe. They are all, as organizations, the equivalent of sociopathic serial killers. You cannot reason with them, you cannot compromise with them, you can only incarcerate or kill them. Otherwise they will continue their bloody ways.

The Jewish nation was established by the world via Britain to give them a place of refuge. Russian pogroms killed and displaced them, Hitler would burn them, all throughout Europe they were being harrassed and killed. The area given over to the Jews was an arid, infertile area that they by dint of hard work and wisdom managed to convert into fertile arable land. You could probably write one hundred thousand novels about the settler's efforts to transform the barren landscape into a land of plenty while always keeping one hand upon a rifle.

"When Jews began resettling their historic homeland in the late 19th century, their first efforts were directed towards reclaiming the mostly semi-arid land, much of which was rendered untillable by deforestation, soil erosion and neglect. Rocky fields were cleared and terraces built in the hilly regions; swampland was drained, and systematic reforestation begun; soil erosion was counteracted, and salty land washed to reduce soil salinity.

Since Israel attained its independence in 1948, the total area under cultivation has increased from 165,000 ha. to some 420,000 ha., and the number of agricultural communities has grown from 400 to 900 (including 136 Arab villages). During the same period, agricultural production has grown sevenfold, keeping ahead of the population, which grew by a factor of six.

Israel's varied climatic, topographical and soil conditions (from sub-tropical to arid, from 400 meters below sea level to 1000 meters above and from sand dunes to heavy alluvial soils) made it possible to grow a wide range of agricultural produce. The success of the country's agriculture stems from the determination and ingenuity of farmers and scientists who have dedicated themselves to developing a flourishing agriculture in a country which is more than half desert, thus demonstrating that the real value of land is a function of how it is used."
From Focus on Israel

Go Israel! Wimpy liberal pundits cry out for cease-fires and negotiations and compromise. Ignore them. Do what it takes to secure your borders and protect your people from barrages of unguided missiles! Trust me, if Canada was lobbing missiles into Washington and Utah, the United States wouldn't just sit there and call for negotiations. If Canada had been doing things like that for decades, the US might well just go in and take over the entire country! We are hypocrites if we criticize Israel for doing the very same thing we would do in a similar situation.

(PS - I don't expect Canada to lob any missiles at us, this was just a hypothetical situation...)

~~~~~~~

Being continually tired all the time, the first physical activity I have tried is walking. I am tired after a couple of blocks! Being a lover of sports, this means I cannot do anything........but Frisbee Golf!

Yes, I was yoinked into playing Frisbee Golf with my son and a friend. I took a break after almost every hole, sitting on whatever bench or stump was available, and made it through 16 holes. It is a start.

You use specially made discs, which are smaller and thicker than a standard throwing model. Most players throw underhanded, but some throw sidearm and some overhand, or the "tomahawk". I have found I can throw the tomahawk both far and straight, so I had learned to use that when I learned the game last year.

This time, rusty, I bogied or double-bogied each of the first five holes. The local course has "rough" that consists of uncut prairie/forest foliage including bushes with thorns. There are all sorts of trees. You have to throw over, under or between all sorts of trees to get anywhere on the course, it is pretty hard.

I can tell you that it is a thing of beauty to see a properly thrown tomahawk, beginning perpendicular to the ground, adjusting to horizontal, bending to the right, to the left, and then heading down to a landing and sometimes getting a bit of a roll when it does.

My son Dave throws underhanded, taking about a three step and a hop approach and throwing his body into the throw. I can get a lot of distance but I am inconsistent doing it that way, so if I throw underhand I often go way off into the rough. He has it grooved, though.

I was 9 over par after 5 holes. Wes was 8 over and Dave was 1 over. Trust me, to be under par on this course is a real feat!

After each hole, I would sit for a minute and the boys (20 and 21 year olds, young men, really) would look for discs that other had lost. I believe they found two lost discs during the round. On one hole, as they looked for an errant disc thrown by Wes, I sat near the beginning of the next hole, surrounded by trees. A fawn not much bigger than a dog quietly emerged from the brush and walked to within eight feet of me as I sat unmoving. Then it noticed me, ears standing at attention, and gallumped behind some brush. I could still see its outline through the brush. Then boys approached and it disappeared into the forest.

I began to get grooved on my shot and just missed a birdie on one hole by making a long approach directly over some tall trees. The disc just missed landing in the basket and sat three feet away when we finally got there after our shots.

A Frisbee Golf basket stands about five feet high or so. It is mounted on a metal post, with a basket all around the post around three feet off the ground, with chains hanging down from the top of the post that help catch and stop the disc when thrown. It can be tough to putt when the disc can clang off the basket, bounce off of the chains or just rim out. Anything longer than six feet seems hard to me but I made every putt from twelve feet on in but one after the first five holes. I realized I was having fun! After months of sickness and increasing weariness this was a very cool thing.

Dave continued to play well, but now I was matching him shot-for-shot. Yes, I saw a couple of good-looking drives bonk off a tree, but every time I made a good second shot and saved the day. Wes seemed to begin to play more like I did at the start as his drives began to fail him. We came around the turn and Wes bogied again and I was now second to Dave. I finished 11 over for the day and Dave was 3 over, which means from the 6th hole on Dave and I tied. Wes, I think, finished at 15 over. Therefore I am looking forward to playing again this afternoon, since I can be competitive even in my present state.

It turned out the boys didn't mind waiting with me at each hole. They took time to talk, look for discs and look around at nature. The course, as you may have figured out, runs through a forest. Regular golfers may play at a course that has a few wooded areas. This course is a woods that has some FG holes carved out of it. Big difference! We were checking out butterflies, herons, deer (as mentioned), cardinals, and even a falcon. The falcon swooped down over a fairway that tilted sharply downhill and then made another pass the other way. We waited for it to finish before we threw - you don't want to bonk a falcon, well, you don't want a falcon to bonk your disc and ruin your shot either. Would a falcon try to nab a Frisbee disc mid-flight? I don't want to find out.

My main disc weighs 170 grams, kind of heavy for a falcon to deal with but possible. Believe it or not, if you don't throw smoothly with your entire body you will have a very sore arm/shoulder after a day of FG. You learn to use your lower body to help power the throw.

Anybody else out there try this game????

~~~~~~~

Creation/evolution aside:

(I first want to offer my apologies to commenters like scohen/IAMB/creeper and Dan S. I became so very ill that I lost track of what we were doing in the realm of probabilities. There are still about 150 emails I have not yet read and I am sure that some of them are on that subject. I may get around to finishing them on Sunday, if not, then next weekend. Anyway......I have to have hope that I will get healthy again and back to normal, it just isn't now.)

1) I give up on doing the "Horse" probabilities on my own. The audio tape from which I first sketched the odds cannot be found. I am going to post some links from others instead, for my basic continual weariness hinders my thinking processes and I am saving myself for the possibilities of actually working. Math makes me work too hard...

2) The means I am not going to be part of schohen's probability project. I nevertheless will publish any output he comes up with.

3) I have to acknowledge that there are some who believe that this Universe is one of an infinite amount of possible Universes and that basically all possible outcomes have/will happened in one or more of them. It is a bit squirrelly, this idea, yet it destroys all probability conversations immediately.

More to come as I recover.....cheers!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

carnival of part-time poets

Corset

I've awaited this book of poems for years, and now it's finally published! Shannon Borg's first published book of poetry, Corset (Cincinnati: Cherry Grove, 2006), is now available and as soon as I learned it had been published, I eagerly requested a review copy from the publisher.

This book contains 43 collected poems, some from the author's dissertation and others that were originally published in a variety of poetry journals, and these poems are divided fairly evenly between three separate parts in the book. Despite the wide variety of topics explored in these poems, they all focus on the one immutable aspect of life; everything is subject to change.

All of Shannon Borg's poems are wistful, humorous and audacious by turns, and all of them speak beautifully, eloquently, of family and life and love; of their prerequisite constraints and entanglements, and their enduring promise. For example, in the title poem, "Corset", she tells of seduction's familiar (and amusing) dance; "He moves close, says hello, you remind / me of someone, can't quite place. Your face, your / look, don't quite know. Drinks and scents float / between, across, amongst."

The author's poems are acutely sensitive to several worlds. One of my favorite poems is a stream-of-consciousness piece, "In the Old Peculiar Near the End of the Century" (p. 86-87), where the author ponders the constraints of friendship, of gender, of social expectations while lingering over beer with her friends. In "During the War", she carefully reveals her parents' parallel lives prior to their marriage; he, an overseas soldier while she buried soldiers at home. Another poem describes the juxtaposition between her father's open heart surgery and herself as she was driving through the crowded streets of a large city a thousand miles away; "I see the surgeon's red hands while I steady / the steering wheel's ring. My father moves through / the post-op dreams they told him would come, followers / of pain. He wonders if he should keep his eyes closed / and I wonder why I want to give the moon a soul / like mine. Why this desire to gaze down on myself / at night, navigating streets between skyscrapers / or red desert streams? The freeway speeds / away beneath my car. The drive home promises / to be long - the roads are full, empty, full." [from "On a Table Under a Round White Light" (p. 47)]


Grrlscientist presents the full review of Shannon Borg's book here.

~~~~~~~

The Forces of You

When she weeps,
the curtains rebel,
incensed, they foment,
they crease,
they flutter without a breeze,
even the damn blinds split open,
each lip trembling
crackling and popping,
like leaves at unease;

and when she turns away in sorrow,
her face to the wall,
the celibate AC,
celebrates the moment,
in excitement, in vigor,
it revves up, becomes enticed,
beleagured it lets tumble
shooting forth from the wall,
all its spiced electric juices,
chilled but chaste,
they rush to the sighs,
she has sung into the dawn;

when she wails,
the pale white paint,
chips crackles and rips
breaking like branches
off the tree of ceiling:
the dampness to which they peel,
is from the humidity of her tears;
even though I like to believe
that water-stains brought their demise,
secretely I’ve known their pain.
The paint is skinned and flayed,
because it reacts to her exclaims;

when her silence hangs heavy,
the dreary house fears infinity,
cold invisible wraiths rumble,
and silent electric snakes
whisper, slithering uninvited;
and death falls like dew,
and breath becomes a recluse,
and fear reigns in the stillness,
and all this
leaving the TV
no choice but to scream
out loud
intense
extreme,
until volume loses it voice,
and its throat goes hoarse,
it becomes white noise,
and black and white splotches of snow,
pleading for her to bring back life,
for her to once again please,
speak
please.


Copyright: Ali Eteraz

~~~~~~~

My Muse, My Poetry, My Life


"Dey Call her Cowgirl"

wearing black
fragile red
tumbling thoughts
through her head
canter hard
against the tide
can she ever
be a bride.
warrior lass
so she sings
many choices
for a ring
friend and foe
cannot see
her soul branches
like a tree.
seize the moment
when you know
all that fate
will bestow
love is kind
it stays true
there is someone
just for you.

Thanks cowgirl


Brian has several poems listed at this site.

~~~~~~~

Placate the masses

Be they as cows, moping in the fields
unaware of all but their plight
Leave them be, mooing happily
while we prepare for the fight

Get a strangle hold on what is right!

Our time is now
to change the world our way
Our time is now
this is the day!

Get a grip on the importance of today!


From Ceremonial Soup

~~~~~~~

Nothing

Lets go back where I began
From the moon
From the stars
From the nothing

Lets go to where there's most pain
To my heart
To my soul
To the nothing

Lets go to where everything is
In cold
In the dark
In the nothing

Lets go where tears aren't afraid
From love
From hope
From nothing

Lets go to where it all ends
In the beginning
In the clouds
In the nothing


From Saphire Intrigue

~~~~~~~

Trashing a Monet


They will trash Monet
They will steal beauty

Why do we pave paradise?
Turn it to Concrete,
Green places beautiful,
To my heart sweet,
I hear the business man wants,
A place like that,
Near where I was a student,
I lived in a flat,
I was taken by the place,
I went to walk there for the quiet,
I escaped the city pace,
Flew my soul as a kite,
It was beautifully England,
Down by Ribble river,
In its morning mists,
I enjoyed the Winter!
Now the song of its birds,
Will be run over,
By a blind man,
In a bulldozer.

Busy City at my back,
I walked across the bridges,
Into the silence,
In the nature so rich,
That It could be painted,
by the Impressionist,
Also tainted,
By the industrialist,
And found as I walked,
In the green so kind,
It was time to take,
The sadness off my mind,
We all need open space,
To ease the heart pain,
The Ribble was beautiful,
In November rains,
The money mad world,
My soul drains,
To watch the Ribble hurl,
I felt my soul regain.

This situation
Is the microcosm
Of the Earth’s peril
We must save her.

In this life we have a choice,
To turn away the head,
Or use the strong voice,
To say something said,
About a place so sweet,
For Ribble-Land
They will drown it in concrete,
They will pave paradise,
To the green tree tunnel
It will be 'Au revoir'
To be left with the housing scar,
All will be left with,
Is memories,
You sad where you live,
I sad overseas,
So I am rousing,
People in my song,
To say the new housing,
By the Ribble it is wrong,

Please don't touch, businessman,
Don't come again,
Any day,
You take beauty,
Throw it away,
Like trashing,
A Monet!


This, and pictures and more at Save The Ribble

~~~~~~~

the snapshot of yourself
hung
now falling from the wall
the song about yourself
you wrote
fading into static

and you're standing in the
back-door hangouts of
your junkie dreams

you wake up to
a nightmare
petty responsibilities
your lost ambition
making noises in the attic

you go out without your jacket

waiting
waiting for the rain
that never came
love
waiting
waiting for the rain

Kimbal Ross all rights reserved

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What Is T REX Doing?????




A) He's trying to figure out how far down he has to dig to be part of the root of this here tree!

B) He's trying to figure out which one of those crunchy, tasty bird dudes to eat.

C) He's trying to figure out which leg to raise before he.....well, you know.

D) Insert your own line here

~~~~~~~

THE CARNIVAL OF THE PART-TIME POETS IS ON THE WAY - STAY TUNED TO THIS BLOG CHANNEL

Birdtree picture from the Flickr collection of birdologist as seen on the post by Grrlscientist in the Carnival posting below.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Darwin is Dead Carnival - July Edition

Grrlscientist has the first entry - The Rise of The Feathered Dragons

In 1984, a paper was published in China (in Chinese) that described a new bird species from the early Cretaceous period, based on part of a fossilized left foot bone that had been discovered in northwestern China by a team of paleoichthyologists in 1981. This bone was determined to be part of an ancient tern-sized bird, later named Gansus yumenensis (for the Chinese province of Gansu, and Yumen, the nearest somewhat large town to where the fossil was found). This fossil bird appeared to be more closely related to modern (neornithean) birds than even its famous cousin, Archaeopteryx. Even though this bone gave paleontologists a tantalizing glimpse at an early neornithean bird, this fossil was too fragmentary to provide much more information than that.

Yet, despite this and several other exciting discoveries, these remote fossil beds were difficult to access so they remained virtually untouched for 20 years. Until recently, that is. Several years ago, an international team of Chinese and American scientists organized an expedition to the Xiagou Formation near Changma, in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, to search for more bird fossils, and their efforts were well-rewarded...

After cleaning and preparing the fossils, the scientists realized they had discovered five new partial skeletons of Gansus, which collectively include bones from every part of the bird's body except the skull and the first few neck vertebrae. Further, the team were surprised to find that this nearly complete composite skeleton of Gansus revealed a very modern-looking bird...


Click this link to read the entire article and view the many color illustrations from Grrlscientist's very stylish blog. The official title of the blog is Living The Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

~~~~~~~

The second entry is also from the above blogger.

Another Origin of Species

Speciation typically occurs after one lineage splits into two separate and isolated breeding populations. But it is has been hypothesized that two "parental" species with overlapping ranges could hybridize, thereby giving rise to one new but reproductively isolated "daughter species" in the same area. However, this phenomenon has rarely been observed in animals, even though it is known that such "hybrid species" do occur in plants.

But recently, a group of scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama revealed that it took them only a few months in the lab to recreate the wing pattern color of the wild butterfly species, Heliconius heurippa (pictured, top), by hybridizing two closely related species, H. cydno and H. melpomene, that are found in the same area.

These butterflies all have wings that are primarily black, but the specific markings differ between each: H. cydno (left, above) has a pale yellow wing bar; H. melpomene (right, above) has reddish orange wing bar; and the hybrid daughter species, H. heurippa, has both reddish orange and pale yellow wing bars (middle, above).

A co-author of the study, Mauricio Linares from the University of the Andes in Colombia, suspected that H. heurippa was a hybrid daughter species of H. cydno and H. melpomene because H. heurippa's wing pattern is intermediate between these two species and because it naturally occurs where these other two species have overlapping ranges in northern South America (see map, right; blue lines; H. cydno; red lines, H. melpomene; green blob, H. heurippa. Click for larger view in separate window).

To test this hybrid daughter species hypothesis, wild specimens of H. cydno and H. melpomene were captured and crossbred in the lab. The wing color markings on the lab-created hybrid (pictured, right) are nearly identical to those of wild H. heurippa (compare to wild specimen at top...


Okay, you really can't get the feel for this unless you actually go to the article and read it along with the illustrations.

Thanks to the "Grrl" for the entries and kudos for the stylish, well-done blog!

~~~~~~~

The Institute for Creation Research sent me a few articles. One is quite appropriate as a counterpoint to the Grrl's entry:

A “100 Million Year Old Bird” Is Still a Bird

Birds are incredible flying (and occasionally non-flying) machines. The Creator has designed these creatures with specialized flight apparatus, an amazing respiratory system, not to mention unbelievable migration and navigation abilities. Creationists see these creatures as having been designed and created as 100% birds, while evolutionists are forever in heated debates regarding bird origin:

However, recent fossil discoveries have complicated the picture of bird origins and renewed the debate over which amniote [applied to a type (nontaxonomic) of development regarding extraembryonic membranes and a shelled egg] lineage was ancestral to birds (Hickman, Roberts & Larson 1997).

Another Bird Fossil
The secular scientific community has announced the recent discovery by American and Chinese paleontologists of an alleged “100 million year old” missing avian link, possibly with soft tissue. Despite claims that Gansus yumenensis is “the missing link on the evolution of birds,” all indications show it is in fact just a bird.

Creation Scientists are Ecstatic
Creation scientists are even more excited than their secular counterparts about recent bird fossils uncovered in the Xiagou Formation 1,200 miles west of Beijing. For not only are these fossils revealing 100% bird traits, but the tissue from some of these fossils is possibly still soft. Both of these physical manifestations are clearly within the creation model.

A recent CNN.com story says “the new fossils demonstrate that Gansus clearly is a bird . . . . the oldest example of the nearly modern birds, . . . .similar to loons or diving ducks” (CNN.com 2006). With such repeated graphic descriptions, there seems to be no reason to claim this bird is a “missing link.” National Geographic.com crows that Gansus “is strikingly similar to today's birds, considering that it lived alongside dinosaurs” (Norris 2006). Indeed, a majority of evolutionists maintain birds evolved from dinosaurs and today, are dinosaurs: "So, in fact, birds are not some separate biological entity, distinct and apart from 'reptiles.' Birds are dinosaurs" (Fastovsky & Weishample 1996)...


Click here to read the entire article by Frank Sherwin.

~~~~~~~

Don Batten posts as follows: Haldane’s dilemma has not been solved

The famous evolutionary geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892–1964) was one of the three founders of the field of study known as population genetics. Haldane articulated a serious problem for evolutionary theory in a seminal paper in 1957—the ‘cost of substitution’.1 When a beneficial mutation occurs in a population, it has to increase in the number of copies for the population to progress evolutionarily (if the mutation remained in one individual, then evolution cannot proceed; this is fairly obvious). In other words, it has to substitute for the non-mutated genes in the population. But the rate at which this can happen is limited. A major factor limiting the rate of substitution is the reproduction rate of the species. For a human-like creature with a generation time of about 20 years and low reproduction rate per individual, the rate of growth in numbers of a mutation in a population will be exceedingly slow. This is basically the ‘cost of substitution’.

… the evolutionary origin of organisms with low reproduction rates and long generation times is impossible, even given the usual millions of years …
Imagine a population of 100,000 apes, the putative progenitors of humans. Suppose that a male and a female both received a mutation so beneficial that they out-survived everyone else; all the rest of the population died out—all 99,998 of them. And then the surviving pair had enough offspring to replenish the population in one generation. And this repeated every generation (every 20 years) for 10 million years, more than the supposed time since the last common ancestor of humans and apes. That would mean that 500,000 beneficial mutations could be added to the population (i.e., 10,000,000/20). Even with this completely unrealistic scenario, which maximizes evolutionary progress, only about 0.02% of the human genome could be generated. Considering that the difference between the DNA of a human and a chimp, our supposed closest living relative, is greater than 5%,2 evolution has an obvious problem in explaining the origin of the genetic information in a creature such as a human.

However, with more realistic rates of fitness/selection and population replenishment, the number of beneficial mutations that can be accounted for plummets. Haldane calculated that no more than 1,667 beneficial substitutions could have occurred in the supposed 10 million years since the last common ancestor of apes and humans. This is a mere one substitution per 300 generations, on average. The origin of all that makes us uniquely human has to be explained within this limit...


The entire article is found here.

~~~~~~~

Challenging the Religious Right on Pollution

I want to challenge the religious right on pollution. Bare with me, here, as I play devil's advocate; I had an interesting thought/question/argument about the topic where I've seen the scientific community defend its ideas and explain them, but the right hasn't risen to my challenge.

A little while ago, I asked why it appeared that scientists and the left were standing up for conservationism when this seemed to go contrary to Darwin, whom they endorse so strongly. On the other hand, I also challenged the religious right as to how they can support hugely polluting corporations which contribute to evolution and disproving their support for intelligent design. Not to mention it isn't exactly loving your neighbour when you dump toxic chemcicals in his back yard.

Anybody on the religious right care to explain this to me?


Centrerion Canadian Politics has this entire post right here.

~~~~~~~

The last entry is The Real "Missing Link": Evolution "Theory" vs. Scientific "Law"

Earlier this month, I saw an article in Time Magazine about how fish crept on land (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12168265). To qualify my perspective, you should know that I am a Christian and believe that God created the world. You should also know that I have an open mind and will freely admit to evolution when I see irrefutable evidence of one species becoming an entirely new species. With our expertise in genetic engineering, I am SHOCKED that we haven't been able to demonstrate this phenomena with even the smallest organism.

When evaluating new claims about finding a "missing link" in the "Theory" of Evolution, I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Maslow:

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. [Some] choose to work as best they can with important problems rather than restricting themselves to doing only that which they can do elegantly with the techniques already available. " Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science (Harper and Row, New York), 1966

Of course, since the people interested in new fossil discoveries are Paleontologists, it's not surprising that every new fossil fits into the "Theory" of Evolution. What's interesting to me is that popular science uses the cafeteria method when pushing forward theories. For example, did you know that Darwin also believed that man was actually the more "evolved" form of the species?


The rest of this post is located at My Bubble Life.



Here's hoping that you read the entirety of all the articles, in order to get all the information, to see the illustrations and view the listed references. Thanks to all contributors and.......enjoy!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Carnival last chance!!!

I will be posting the first Carnival posts tomorrow. Anything received after around dinner time tomorrow will be relegated to the next Carnival!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Marijuana, Foxglove and the statute of limitations

Thank God for the statute of limitations! I am able to relate some experiences from my past without being in fear of legal repercussions. This is a good thing, in part because I am a different guy now and don't get involved in drug deals. It also allows me to speak freely.

The Foxglove is a flowering plant that is native to Europe but is often found in North American gardens and grows wild in the Pacific Northwest.

"Many of the common names of this plant pertain to its toxic nature (Witches' glove, Dead Man's Bells, Bloody Fingers). Foxglove belongs to the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) and the whole plant is toxic. It contains various cardiac glycosides. Symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, irregular heart beat, and delerium or halucinations.

Digitonin is a Digitalis drug derived from D. purpurea. It is used in modern medicine to increase the force of the systolic contractions and prolong duration of the diastolic phase in congestive heart failure. Digitalis drugs lower venous pressure in hypersensetive heart ailments, elevate blood pressure in a weak heart act as a diuretic, and reduce edema. However, the theraputic dose is dangerously close to the lethal dose. Historically, Foxglove was employed by herbalists for a variety of purposes, fom an ointment used for cleansing wounds and reducing swelling to boiling it and using it as an expectorant."
(see above link)

Foxglove can obviously be dangerous and yet it has its uses. In the case of one of my daughters, it helped save her life. She had to take a pediatric form of Digitalis, Lanoxin, in order to live as a little baby and took the medication until the age of four years. Even though Foxglove is poisonous, the extract is a lifesaver for some.

Pot

Marijuana has been promoted as a medicinal herb in treating cancer patients, HIV patients, those with migraines, nerve ailments and other possible uses as well. A fairly recent study, Marijuana and Medicine concluded that clinical trials could be beneficial in certain cases, leading to the common use of marijuana in such cases. There are many organizations devoted to the legalization of marijuana and some of them concentrate solely on the use of marijuana as medicine (most want it legalized, period).

CNN.COM has additional information. Included is this list:

Possible hazardous effects of marijuana

* Reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination such as driving a car

* Increased heart rate

* Bloodshot eyes

* Dry mouth and throat

* Altered motivation and cognition, making the acquisition of new information difficult

* Impairments in learning and memory, perception, and judgment - difficulty speaking, listening effectively, thinking, retaining knowledge, problem solving, and forming concepts

* Intense anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia

* Breathing problems

* Long-term use can result in smoking-related problems such as bronchitis and asthma

* Heavy use of marijuana can affect both male and female hormones.

Animal studies have found that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) can damage the cells and tissues that help protect people from disease.

* Extended use increases risk to the lungs and reproductive system, as well as suppression of the immune system.



60% of children who smoke marijuana before age 15 move on to cocaine!

Me and my Marijane

My own experience does tend to add to the accusation that marijuana is a "gateway drug". I was offered the stuff often enough as a kid but finally tried it when I broke up with my first serious girlfriend. A drug dealer and his buddy threw me a party to "celebrate" breaking up with Kathy and after a couple of beers I tried some pot. I fell asleep. But they convinced me to try again later and I liked the sensations I felt. Soon I was a regular pot smoker. It seemed to add a bit of absurdity to life and flavored all my impressions of the world around me. It made me giddy. I felt more artistic. It made me horny. It gave me the munchies.

Now I'm not so sure that marijuana led me to try anything else anymore than beer made me susceptible to marijuana usage. The practical aspect here is the legality of the drug. Since it was illegal, I had to deal with crooks in order to obtain it. These guys were drug dealers and naturally most of them dealt other drugs, too. I began trying "angel dust" (which can be several things) and uppers like white cross and pink hearts. Later I got into hashish and LSD (and some other hallucinogens) and cocaine and cystal meth. I also found that my friends would ask me to obtain drugs for them, since I had connnections. I segued into becoming a dealer. I eventually became part of a drug gang that manufactured meth as big business, and I became a needle user. Drugs were destroying my life and my health and I just missed finding myself in prison. I certainly found myself in the gutter. I had to change.

Marijuana can free you from inhibitions and color your perceptions. Unfortunately, it is likely more dangerous to your health to smoke pot than it is cigarettes. It is certain that in many individuals the use of marijuana causes them to "blow off" important aspects of their lives and they will lose jobs and families as a result.

I know a guy whose life was ruined or nearly ruined by illegal drugs? No way, man, I know dozens of them! Heck, I'm one of them.

NEVERTHELESS

There is somewhat of a hysterical viewpoint held by many that marijuana must not be legalized for medicinal purposes. Now that, to me, is foolishness! That extract of Foxglove that saved my daughter's life? OD on that and you may well die! OD on marijuana and you pass out and/or get a massive case of munchies.

If marijuana can help a cancer patient keep food down, or alleviate a migraine headache in someone, etc, then what right has the government to keep doctors from treating their patients simply because there are forces out there who are afraid of any kind of legalization whatever.

Therefore this reformed pothead, who will never toke again, is in favor of the medicinal use of marijuana as prescribed by doctors, just as doctors may prescribe tylenol with codeine or a patient may be treated with morphine during and after surgery.

On the other hand, I am adamantly opposed to legalizing such a substance for recreational use. There are already enough legal ways to kill yourself slowly without adding to the list. There are already enough ways to ruin young lives, cause automobile crashes, and so on. I've seen so many people who have had lives ruined by alcohol abuse. As a society, we owe it to ourselves to avoid making another way to disaster legally obtainable.

~~~

Thanks for the prayers and best wishes. I am weakly going forward!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pray for me

It has become apparent after my recent illness that I am not getting any better. I feel like a 90 year-old-man in terms of energy levels. My wife has convinced me to go in for further testing. For those of you who pray, I would appreciate your prayers. I need to be vigorous as I was previously, able to play tennis and volleyball with my kids and friends and live a semi-normal life. Right now I cannot walk a block without feeling worn out!

Stay tuned for the coming Carnival posts, and also I am ready to get into the creation/evolution discussions and etc. after the Carnival!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It came from another time.....

A thousand times the phone rings and it is a telemarketer or the friend you just spoke to last week or your teenaged daughter asking for a ride. Another thousand for your mom, the doctor confirming your appointment, your son-in-law inviting you to a cookout. Plus telemarketers. I wonder how many do-not-call lists there are in this world?????

Then comes one that is entirely different.

The voice sounded so familiar, and it told me that I could be having a visitor.....my younger (step) brother! I began to do the math: I hadn't seen him in twenty-five years! He had obtained my information from my (half) sister and was in the area on business! Did I want him to come by?

Twenty-five years ago my father died. He was fifty-three years old. Now I am fifty-three. Dad died in 1981, far too young, unable or unwilling to give up the cigarettes that helped kill him.

Marc was Californiafied by that time, although born in Michigan, and he had never left the San Jose area since arriving in the early 70's. I had thought that perhaps I would never see him again.

Amazingly, my directions enabled him to actually find the house. The thing that struck me first was his white head. Like me, Marc still has a full head of hair. But while I have the classic "graying at the temples", Marc is just white all over. I realized I was incredibly glad to see him and hugged him when he walked in the door.

It's funny what you remember. I am almost three years older, so some of the early memories I have he has lost. We found ourselves recounting a lot of things that got us in trouble with Dad and some of the things we got away with, too. He was glad to point out to my wife a few escapades I was involved in. He steadfastly refused to remember shooting an old lady in the butt with his BB gun when he was 12 (whereas I still remember it like yesterday). He couldn't remember hiding in our fort high up on the lake bluff and throwing dirt clods at passing teenagers. But he did remember having a "thing" for blowing up stuff with firecrackers and M80's. He certainly remembered the name of the girl who inspired our roadtrip of 1972, when we drove up to Grosse Point Woods to visit a couple of girls we had met at a vacation lodge in the UP (Yoopie = Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and then moved on to cruise through Canada in my 1965 (It was actually 1964 1/2 = one of the originals) Mustang convertible. Sue Williams. Heck, I can't remember a thing about the other girl. But he sure remembered that one.

On the way back, he bet me I couldn't, so I drove from Toledo to South Bend on the toll road without using my hands, just my knees. Looking back, I guess we were borderline juvies, taking great pleasure in throwing snowballs at passing cars or water balloons into convertibles and that kind of thing. If boys will be boys, we were classic examples of the genre.

Pretty soon, various kids began to filter in so that the room was full of people. Our kids seemed delighted to meet Marc. Dave's friend Wes came by. My buddy Mark stopped in. It had segued into party mode, complete with deep dish Aurelio's pizzas. We were laughing, the teenagers were cutting up, pictures being passed around.

He was here for several hours but it went so fast! I found out he had my grandpa's old 12-guage side-by-side shotgun in his possession and he promised to send it to me when he got back home. He said he came into the area 5-6 times a year on business and he'd call next time he had some spare time so we could get together again.

The rain was thundering down but he had a hotel room an hour away with all of his gear, so he was gone before midnight. So much for me making a blogpost last night!

I tried to look at me and my life through his eyes. We have a nice home and lots of great kids. I love my wife and she loves me. I have been through some tough times and am overweight with some injury problems that I must work to overcome. We are certainly not rich. But I a happy guy.

Marc is a world traveler. His sister (my step-sister) Sue has dated movie stars. Other than an occasional vacation, I have been anchored here in Indiana for the last thirty years. I guess my life might look a bit boring compared to his. But then I sleep next to my wife each night and Marc spends more time in airplanes and hotel rooms than he does with his family. Tomato/tomahto I guess.

It made me think about my Dad again, especially when Marc commented on our location. We are in a subdivision with only one entrance but the area is "boondocks" surrounded by protected marshlands and farms. My Dad and I thought alike, wanting to be close enough to the city to get there, but far enough away to avoid the crowds. He was like that his whole life, but his last decade he lived in a crowded Callifornia suburb where everyone has a privacy fence and the houses and stores just go on and on and on.....here you can walk two hundred yards and be in a woods, or walk six hundred yards and find the edge of a big marshy pond where wading birds and frogs seem unaware of nearby civilization. When Marc and I were kids, we would have walked through about every square inch of the woods and looked under every felled log and flat rock for critters, especially the kind with scales.

I think he'll be back.

Monday, July 10, 2006

At The Center of the Galaxy

Resume Speed

Hello-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o World!

My vacation was extended and then I found that not one, but two computers were buggy and due to my need to work and make a living, replacing/repairing the computers and restoring the data for work became my priority. I think I will have all back to normal on Tuesday and then I will need to wade through:

WORK

half a zillion emails
customer requests
renewal database
messages left for me while out

BLOG

Half a zillion comments (that might be an overestimate)
blogcentric emails
projects begun before the holidays

Not to mention

'Tis the season for picnics, open houses and family trips. We need to make a run up to the top of Wisconsin to fish (wife, while I read) and gaze at the Milky Way (can't really see it if anywhere near civilization) and watch the river otters play. Guess we will do that in August.

Someday I want to see the Whirlpool Galaxy, which is a mere 37,000,000 light years from earth.











"X" Structure at Core of Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)





Hubble Space Telescope provides a detailed look at the core of the giant spiral galaxy M51. These images, taken at different wavelengths of light, reveal complex structure and detail in the galaxy's core, which is thought to hide a massive black hole.

Check out the "X" on the bottom right picture – A NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the center of M51, taken in visible light with the Wide Field Planetary camera (in PC mode). This image provides the first direct view of what may be an immense ring of dust which fuels a massive black hole at the heart of M51. This "donut-ring" or torus appears as the darkest bar in the striking "X" silhouetted across the bright nucleus. The 'X" marks the exact position of the black hole. Because the giant ring is tilted edge-on as viewed from Earth, it hides the black hole from direct view. The second bar of the "X" could be second disk seen edge on, or possibly rotating gas and dust in M51 interacting with the jets and ionization cones. The image is 1100 light-years across.[bottom right]

CAN YOU IMAGINE what the image at the center of the Whirlpool Galaxy looks like to me? Far beyond early man's ability to perceive, we have flung the Hubble Telescope out into space to give us more information about the wonders that are beyond our mortal sight and here, inconceivably far from our world, is an image that looks to me for all the world to be.........Jesus Christ on the cross, taking upon Him the sins of the world. Wow.