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The Chaotic Hammer

Updated: 2018-03-07T09:32:17.273-06:00


Two Kids in Love


I've been living long enough to know that there is a season for everything, and a time for every activity under the sun. There have been times in my life -- too many times -- when I was constantly busy, and my loved ones seemed like random strangers I occasionally stumbled across in my own house.

(image) But I woke up one morning not too long ago, and suddenly remembered vividly the cry of my heart, from a season of life long since passed. There I was, in the darkest and loneliest days of my life. Not just single, but brokenhearted and abandoned. Everywhere I turned, there was darkness and hopelessness. All I wanted was a friend -- someone to share it all with; someone to stand beside me in my hour of need. I cried out to the Lord, and still there was no one for me. In desperation my heart cried once again, "If I ever find love again, dear Jesus, I promise I'll cherish it, and pour all my heart and soul and mind and strength into making it grow, and giving myself fully to the one you give to me."

In time, the sadness passed, and the activities of life filled the empty spaces. When love did come, I wasn't even looking for it. I had resolved to spend my life alone, and to enjoy the freedom that gave me. But there was love, standing in front of me with long hair and mischievous eyes, so I walked through the doorway to a new life. (Walked quite slowly, says she. But walked nonetheless, says I.)

(image) It's been several years since the day we said our vows, in front of family and friends and God. Several very good years, by any measure. But on a day recently -- suddenly, mysteriously, without explanation -- I awoke and remembered with stark lucidity the cry of my heart from all those years ago. The time and season has seemed right to remember my promise to the Lord. And for wonderful reasons I may never understand, this wife of mine has been feeling the same way about the whole thing lately, at the same time as me.

And so here we are, living in the renewed dream that is our reality. Life is good. We're in love, and feeling like two teenagers who have borrowed my parents' car for the night, and don't have a curfew.

The night is young. Come away with me, my love.

A Call From Darrell Waltrip


I'm feeling sort of famous right now. NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip called me and left a personal message on my phone, thanking me for using the service department at his Honda dealership. He even gave me a number I can call back, in case I have any questions or comments about the service I received. Maybe I'll call it sometime, and ask to talk to Darrell, just so we can shoot the breeze about how much cooler motor sports were in the olden days, before they had stuff like restrictor plates and roof flaps.

(image) This is so cool, getting a call from Darrell Waltrip. It's even better than that time John Kerry called, asking me to vote for him. Plus I hear that Darrell Waltrip is a Christian, and has a bible study in Nashville. I'm not really surprised. Pretty much everyone in Nashville is a Christian, except for Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses, and those people who were cheering for the Baltimore Ravens.

Of course, in some ways, I'm jaded by all the exposure to famous celebrities that one gets when living in Nashville. Pretty much every songwriter/musician/waitress in Nashville can tell you a cool story about how a bona fide star came into their restaurant, and even got seated in their section. And how famous people can sometimes be really nice and friendly, in real life.

When I'm famous, I'm going to be really nice to people, too. You should always remember your roots, and where you came from. It's not polite to make fun of all the unimportant little people, because you used to be just like one of them, before you got famous.



I'm probably just afraid of how much of my time I would waste. I have enough "information overload" even without the antidote, thanks. about 1 minute ago from Blogger

Who knows? Maybe I could get into Twitter, if I could think of an actual use for it. about 3 minutes ago from Blogger

Yeah. And chocolate cake is the antidote to weight gain, too. Eat up! about 5 minutes ago from Blogger

Actual quote from the Twitter site: "Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload." about 7 minutes ago from Blogger

is scratching his elbow. about 11 minutes ago from Blogger

is aware I can link it to my Facebook status updates or whatever. But I don't use those either. about 12 minutes ago from Blogger

@dullroar Et tu, dude? Ack! I coulda sworn you were with me on this! about 16 minutes ago from Blogger in reply to dullroar

I'd rather have my eye poked out with a sharp stick than join in the Twitter mayhem. about 1 hour ago from Blogger

just went to the bathroom. about 1 hour ago from Blogger

No, the truth is my decision not to Twit or Tweet or whatever you call it is firm and not subject to change. about 2 hours ago from Blogger

OK, now it's official. I've finally done it. No, I didn't join Twitter. I wrote a blog post about Twitter, just like everyone else. You're reading it right now. about 2 hours ago from Blogger

You Were a Believer



Superlatives and Expletives


We live in a world where information overload is commonplace, and at any given time there seem to be a million different things vying for our attention. So it's no surprise that everyone and everything is looking to shock, to entice, or to stand out in some way.

(image) One of the results of this is a coarsening of our language, and an exhaustion of available descriptions for things which vary in degree. We love people, food, and TV shows. We hate politicians, bad drivers, and the devil. The current financial recession is the most desperate and disastrous event since the Great Depression. The current weather is the most severe ever, and further evidence that the global climate is well on its way to impending doom and disaster. Many people have a new and different "best friend forever" monthly, and "the worst day ever" almost daily.

As part of this same process, the boundaries of what is considered acceptable and polite speech, particularly in terms of obscenity and vulgarity, are also being stretched. When I was 15 years old, I distinctly remember immersing myself in flagrant and gratuitous use of extremely vulgar language. I was surrounded by friends who also spoke that way, and we all agreed that it made us sound pretty grown up and avant-garde. It was a great way to rebel against our parents, and against society at large. No word, regardless of how hateful or hurtful, was off limits. The more offensive, the better. Now it seems that society at large is striking back, by pelting me daily with the vocabulary of a 15 year old. Touché.

(image) What this all means is that things which cannot be characterized in extreme terms are anathema, and should be avoided. They are boring and meaningless. They are routine and predictable. They are mediocre and unnoticeable. They are bland and tasteless. They are plain and ordinary.

When we want to express that something is truly spectacular, amazing, magnificent, or wonderful, we lack the effective vocabulary to do it because we've used up those words on things which simply didn't deserve them. When we want to express that something is truly abhorrent, horrible, awful, or revolting, again we lack the vocabulary because we've used up those words on things we oughtn't have.

I really don't think there's anything that can be done to reverse the trend at this point. It seems that it's in our nature to become desensitized to anything to which we are repeatedly exposed, including the power of words. I wonder if there will come a point where we will have gone so far down this path that it will strike someone as novel and compelling to rebel against society by discovering "the old way", and unearthing the shocking richness of the language that was left behind long ago.

Inspired Blogging


I received some helpful thoughts and suggestions from commenters on my previous post, regarding ways to capture "blog-worthy" inspirational moments when they strike me. I decided that the subject was worth a new entry, with some additional ponderings.

(image) My friend Jim suggests that an item we all have and take for granted, the cell phone, can be used in several different ways to retain and record the ideas that might strike anytime and anywhere.

In my case, I work from a home office and only have my cell phone with me when I leave the house. So the ideas that strike me, say, in the shower (which is one place they actually do occur fairly often) would probably not apply in this case. But certainly, when I see or think of things while out and away from the house, this sounds like a very good alternative, and one which I'm pretty sure I'll make use of now.

My friend Amy admits that she still makes use of ancient technology and jots her thoughts down on paper. I'm definitely not above the use of ancient technology. In fact, my workspace is littered with hundreds of Post-It notes. This still seems to be my method of choice for many other things, like work reminders or shopping lists. So perhaps if I were to station a few more Post-It pads with pens strategically throughout the house, this could actually be helpful, too.

Amy made another great point about retaining what made the "inspiration" seem so interesting in the first place, and now that I think about it, this might be the real issue for me. During my "inspired" moments, my mind is racing, and I typically have several excellent bullet points to support my new notion, along with lots of great real-life examples. But a couple of paragraphs into actually typing it out, it suddenly doesn't seem so great after all.

I remember reading one writer who said that you should quickly type everything out while you're still inspired, without stopping to self-edit. Then you finish editing the grammar and organizing the structure better after you have reached the end. In my case, self-editing early and often in the process certainly does seem to discourage me, and traps me in the minutiae of trying to say everything perfectly, even before I've finished getting all my thoughts typed out.

Of course, there's one final element to this blogging process that I haven't even mentioned at all. Many blog entries are not the result of any sort of inspiration at all. Some are funny or interesting videos, others are responses or comments to other blog posts, and still others are simple recordings of thoughts or events, like a daily journal might be. No doubt a number of bloggers who succeed at writing frequently incorporate generous use of these elements into their content as well.

Bone Dry


Boy, I just can't seem to think of anything to write about on this blog lately.

(image) The funny thing is, I have moments of inspiration almost daily, but they don't occur during the time I'm here at the keyboard. They seem to pass into complete oblivion by the time I try to remember them so I can type them out.

I hear many bloggers say that some of the best and most interesting posts and discussion threads came from entries that were uninspired and didn't seem to amount to much initially. There's probably something to that. Some of the greatest inventions and breakthroughs were discovered accidentally, sort of like LSD. Well, maybe that's not such a good example after all. Hofmann claims it wasn't just a chance discovery, in the purest sense of that expression.

I wonder if somebody out there who blogs successfully has tips on how to harness inspired thoughts and retain them, so they can lead to blog entries. Anyone? I don't want to resort to carrying around a tape recorder. Well, that's ancient technology, anyway -- I guess it would be a MP3 player with recording capability now. And I don't want to scribble thoughts onto note cards. Oops, more ancient technology -- these days, it would be some sort of PDA, I guess.

Maybe what I should do is start a blog which self-consciously looks at what's involved in trying to blog, and how fruitless/difficult the process is. Oh wait, there's somebody already doing that, apparently.

A Time to Pause


The last day of the year seems like a good time to pause briefly to look back at the previous year, and to look forward to the upcoming year. I really don't have any particularly deep thoughts about either one at the moment, but maybe I can manage a few quick reflections.

(image) 2008 was a good year. My family enjoyed good health, safety, prosperity, and some genuine spiritual and personal growth. There were some setbacks and hardships, too, but those seem relatively minor when I consider what many people in the world are facing today. I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends and family, and I would be tremendously remiss if I failed to mention that Jesus is the center of everything good and worthwhile in my life. His unquenchable grace, mercy, and love are precious beyond words, and it's because of Him that I can look forward to each new day.

I start 2009 with few lofty goals or ambitions. Perhaps one thing I should try to do is relax and take a little more time off. The folks at my office notified me this past week that I have a tremendous surplus of vacation days accumulated. I'm at an age and season in life where my work is generally enjoyable and rewarding, but I know from experience that it's important to keep a good balance in my life, and not devote too much time or energy to work. Enjoying a little down time, and stopping to appreciate the goodness around me, sounds like a grand idea.

I think I'll start working on that right now. My wife spent the whole afternoon preparing a nice spread of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and a variety of condiments to take next door, where our neighbors are throwing their annual New Years' Eve bash. There will be lots of food, drinks, friends, kids playing, laughter, and even some fireworks.

Happy New Year! May you and yours have a wonderful 2009.

Though He Often Cheats By Using Extremely Long and Descriptive Titles, and Not Including Those in His Word Count


I enjoy Abraham Piper's blog, 22 Words. I struggle with being too verbose. I'm usually not disciplined enough to use fewer words.

Winter Gloom


So here we are, just a few days from the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and I haven't seen the sun in weeks. Literally. We've been locked into this weather pattern where there is constant, thick cloud cover. This isn't unusual for this time of year here in Tennessee, and I don't mean to make it sound like I'm complaining.

(image) In fact, we've had decent rainfall lately, and are now ahead of our average for annual precipitation in 2008. This is good, because we've had a couple of very dry years. 2007 was considered a drought year.

I do think there is more than just a psychological effect from continuous lack of sunlight. Our bodies get Vitamin D from sunlight, so perhaps a lack of it has other physiological effects. My sleep patterns are a little off. I feel a couple of degrees off kilter. It's hard to explain.

The last couple of days it has been very cold, and drizzly, and a thick fog has been lingering just above the rooftops. I swear it looks like London in 1891 -- the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.

But I accept this. It's part of the amazing cycle of life in our world. There was rebirth and new hope in the spring, an almost endless supply of hot sunny days in the summer, and a crisp beautiful change in the fall. Now it's time for things to lie dormant or die. It seems a bit dreary now, and sometimes seems like it lasts a little longer than we'd like. But the truth is that it stays this way just the right amount of time. It will make the warmth and rebirth of springtime that much sweeter when it finally comes.

Gosh, I Hope She's Okay


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Linked Together


Is it just me and the places I visit, or does the blogosphere seem sort of slow lately?

I find it fascinating that something as chaotic and uncontrolled as the internet manages to ebb and flow in such discernible patterns. Each individual person, acting as a free agent, manages to blend and mingle into a greater whole in ways that can be surprisingly predictable.

(image) Having been part of online communities for many years now, I do understand some of the reasons for this. For one thing, much of the content on the blogosphere is part of an ongoing conversation. A post by one blogger sparks a conversation, and other bloggers write new posts both in response to the original, and as part of new thoughts on related subjects. More and more blogs become linked together by the synergy of these multiple ongoing conversation threads. Eventually there is some sort of consensus or equilibrium reached with the original conversation, but others have arisen to take its place.

When many of the prevailing conversations have run their course, and some sort of saturation point across the whole of the hive has been reached, things quiet down for a while. Because we just completed an election cycle here in the United States, it's possible that a certain level of fatigue has set in. Everyone expressed his or her opinion, poured their passion into the process, and is experiencing a bit of a lull or letdown now. I don't necessarily mean a letdown in the sense of being sad or depressed (though I'm sure some people are), just in levels of passion and desire to express strong opinions about many of the issues that were hot topics a little over a month ago.

It's also possible that the time of year has something to do with it. Perhaps people are busy shopping, or spending time with family and friends. Maybe some are suffering from season-related depression, which unfortunately, is fairly common this time of year.

Ultimately, I'm not sure if this slowdown is real or just anecdotally perceived. And how can something be called "real", when the entire framework and substance upon which it is based only exists in a virtual way in the first place?

Magnifying the Mundane


So I've been trying this "daily blogging" thing, more or less, for about a week now, and I'm still not sure what to think about it.

(image) I find that I can always write something -- sometimes it's something about something, and sometimes it's something about nothing. Sometimes it's an embedded video that I found funny or interesting. As far as I know, I have at least one person who has this blog in his reader and actually reads what I write (thanks, Jim!). But I'm still restless and uncertain about what value this whole thing has, and for whom I am writing it.

I guess it should be obvious by now that I'm an awkward, introspective and self-conscious person. Otherwise, why would I keep stopping the simple flow of daily minutiae to ponder the process, instead of just engaging in it? And I think I should make it clear that I'm not saying this in a negative way, or to be persistently self-deprecating. It is what it is, and I am what I am.

Perhaps it's the mundane and introspective nature of my life (and therefore of my subject matter), that has me constantly rethinking this process. Other than a few friends, I'm not sure who wants to read about my simple daily existence. One of the common criticisms of blogging I've seen is this very thing -- that there are millions of people creating dull and meaningless logs of their dull and meaningless lives, and trying to make it sound like they are interesting or have something important to say.

Which means that at this point, I'm a blogger whose dull and meaningless chatter includes allegedly witty observations about how other writers I've read like to make fun of the fact that most blogging is just dull and meaningless chatter.

Somebody stop me.

It's One of a Kind


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Holy Strep Throat, Batman!


So after a few days of pretty severe symptoms and no apparent improvement in her condition, I took my wife to the doctor today. Turns out she has strep throat. We were both pretty surprised to hear this. She did have swelling at the back of her throat and lymph nodes, but she did not have what we usually think of as a "sore throat" -- you know, that thing you get during a bad cold, where you can't even swallow without extreme pain. I always thought that was one of the main symptoms of strep throat, but apparently that's not necessarily the case. Reading through the list of other symptoms for strep throat, I see that my wife has exhibited every single one of them.

(image) While I was there in the doctor's office, the doctor wrote me a prescription and recommended that I take the same type of antibiotics that my wife is taking, since I have been in close contact with her the whole time she's been sick.

I think the biggest mystery for us is where my wife got this. We couldn't recall any friends or family who have had strep throat, and are not aware of coming in contact with anyone who has had it recently. We did go to a restaurant and have a meal a couple of days before she began showing symptoms -- and that's about how long it's supposed to take them to show up. That seems like the most likely scenario, but it's a scary thought -- that somebody working as a cook or server at a public restaurant is running around infecting everyone with strep.

I think we'll stay home and cook our own meals for a while.

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop


My poor wife is sick as a dog this week. We're not sure exactly who she got it from or when, but there's always lots of this crud going around this time of year, so it really doesn't matter. Nobody in particular owns it, and nobody wants it.

(image) She's a little congested and has a bit of a cough, but this one is mostly aimed at her stomach and body. She can't eat anything without getting extremely nauseous, and she has an intense achy sensation all over her body, especially in her back and joints. She's alternating between a high fever with sweats, and chills with violent shivering. She's been taking either acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the aches and fever. These are providing some measure of relief, but she's still pretty miserable.

I've been trying to be helpful and comforting, and to keep the house clean and functional so she can rest a lot without worrying about anything. So mostly I'm just sitting around, waiting for her to need more water, or medicine, or a back rub. And wondering what the odds are that I'll be getting this exact same thing really soon. These kinds of bugs have a way of getting passed around among all the members of a household, so it's probably just a matter of time. Boy, now that I think about it, I am a little achy. And is that a tickle in my throat? Hmmm...

Cow Town


My wife grew up in a place called Vacaville, California. It's about halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco.

(image) For several years, I always got the same response when I would tell people where my wife was from. They would always smile and say "Cow Town". I thought they must have known something about the history of Vacaville that I didn't. Sure, I'd seen some cows in the countryside around the area where my wife grew up. But not that many cows. I figured maybe that was some sort of California in-joke, or something about the history of the place that I was unaware of. Or maybe they considered it some sort of hick town.

One day I mentioned something about Vacaville to one of my coworkers and he said "Cow Town," so I asked him if he was familiar with the place. "No, never heard of it before," he said.

"Well then how did you know it's called Cow Town?" I asked.

"In Spanish, 'vaca' means 'cow'. So 'vaca ville' would be 'cow town'."

Ah, mystery solved. At least, the mystery of why everyone would say that when I mentioned Vacaville. But it turns out that the place is actually named for a guy named Juan Manuel Vaca, not for the cows.

My Baby is Growing Up


What you see below are actual, unretouched photos that I took myself, mere moments apart, from the driver's seat of my 2003 Honda Civic last night:


That's right, she's just crossed over to 100,000 miles! (Also notice, kids, that I came to a full stop before attempting to take these photographs). If you've been the owner of a Honda automobile, then you know that this mileage is barely adolescence in the life cycle of the car. I finished paying this car off a few months ago, and have been doing all the recommended maintenance, so it should continue to be safe and reliable for a very long time.

In other news my daughter, age 24, is living in her own apartment, and doing really well for herself. After a bit of a slow start, she is now exhibiting more responsible behavior and making wise choices that reflect a better understanding of how to achieve her long-term goals.

Old Man Pains


For most of my life, I've generally tried to live in a reasonably healthy way. (Note the generous use of modifiers in that sentence.)When I enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 26, it was the beginning of a fairly consistent pattern of exercise, diet, and other behaviors aimed at taking care of my body and allowing me to lead an active lifestyle. Running has always been an activity I've enjoyed -- it helps to relieve stress, gives me more energy, and makes me feel more healthy in general.I continued with my good exercise and dietary habits for several years after my time in the military ended. However, I got away from those good habits for a couple of years when we moved here to Tennessee. First, there were a few months of house hunting; then several months of renovation on the house we bought. I got into the habit of eating out a lot, and simply didn't have make time to fit exercise into my schedule.Eventually we got settled in and began making home-cooked meals again. But it took me over a year and a half to try and start back into an exercise routine. The first time I started running, I had to stop after a couple of weeks, because I was having a lot of pain in my knees -- something I had rarely experienced previously as a runner.In January 2008, I decided to give it another try -- this time taking into account that my body would need to be introduced to exercise gradually. I needed to lose a little weight, but mostly I just needed to ease my body back into a workout routine slowly, so that it would adapt without rebelling. I started with brisk walks, push ups, and the rowing machine. Within two months I was running again, and this time with no pain. Throughout the year I gradually went longer distances in shorter time. I was feeling good, and looked forward to my runs.Then about a month ago, I returned from a run and noticed considerable soreness along the outside of my right leg, from my knee to my ankle. As a runner, you learn that various aches and pains come and go, but this one seemed a little worse than usual. The next time I ran, the pain built as I was heading out, and was bad enough that I had to walk the final mile or so back. I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything unusual, like turn an ankle or land awkwardly during a run.So I tried resting for a week, then started up again -- but the pain returned. I've been through this pattern a couple of times now. My wife says (mostly joking) that I'm just having "old man pains". You know, the "not as young as you used to be" thing. Yeah, yeah, like I want to hear that.I think it's actually tendinitis. Most of the pain is in the deep tissue just above my ankle, but at times the twinge shoots all the way up to my knee. Apparently you're supposed to avoid the activity that caused the tendinitis for three to six weeks, ice the affected area, and take NSAIDs when the pain flares up.Three to six weeks sounds like a long time to me. That's long enough for my metabolism and cardiopulmonary conditioning to really suffer. That's long enough for the currently-healthy muscles in my legs to begin to atrophy. And worst of all, that's long enough for me to get away from the habit of exercise that has once again become a part of my life. I think that's the part that scares me the most.[...]

Looking Back


My blog friend Jim recently did a series of posts with videos from the early days of MTV. I really appreciated the excuse opportunity to watch these, and allow them to do what such things typically do -- transport me back to the time from whence they came.

(image) When the soundtrack of my past takes me back to that time, it somehow seems like things were good back then, even if they really weren't. I had nothing, and everything was confusing and uncertain. Yet something inside me aches for that time. I can't explain it.

In all honesty, things are much better now than they were then, in so many ways. And I'm glad and grateful for that, and don't actually want to go back to an earlier time -- even when it seems like an appealing idea.

What I conclude is that the past can sometimes create an optical illusion. It's always a safe place to visit, no matter how bad things seemed back then, because I know the outcome. I know how all those bad and confusing and scary things managed to work together to lead to the good things of today.

Though it seems like it would have been hard to believe then, I probably should have known all along that everything would be OK.

Fading Into the Background


In case there's anyone out there who still visits blogs, rather than reading feeds from blogs, you've already noticed that I've gone minimalist on my blog layout.

(image) For those of you reading this in your reader, there's no real point in visiting my blog to see it for yourself, since the whole point of going minimalist means that there's nothing to see here.

Really, this outward change in appearance accurately reflects the way I feel on the inside: plain, simple, not flashy, searching for the important core components of existence, shedding the complex and the showy.

Frankly, I'm happy about this. I know that the written word doesn't always convey tone, so I just figured I'd make that clear. I'm not feeling drab or trying to be pretentious.

Though I haven't published anything on this blog for a month, I've actually written some stuff. But I can never seem to finish what I start or allow myself to be satisfied with "good enough". I'm back to the same old conundrum that I arrive at pretty regularly -- undecided about why I'm writing or to whom I'm writing. Different bloggers have different advice on what works for them, and I've not only listened to this advice and taken it to heart, I've pondered it deeply, and deconstructed it to the point of paralysis. Which ironically, would also be an accurate description of how I've processed most of the other information that has found its way into my cerebral cortex in the last few days, or weeks, or months, or years.

I'm thinking of maybe trying one of those "post every day for a month" or "post every day for a year" things, like Jim has been doing. I do have thoughts almost every day that might be interesting to look back on at some point in the future. I also love my community of online friends who regularly meet "virtually" around the blogosphere. It seems that actually writing a "blog" would make me a better "blogger", and hence a better member of the "blogosphere".

I could do a lot more with this, too, but honestly have no desire to do that. I know how to cull accurate statistics of web site visits. In my professional life, I've set up dozens (if not hundreds) of web servers, manipulated the server log data at the most basic level, and have installed a wide variety of web statistics programs for years. I know all the tricks to get "noticed" by a larger audience, how to create content that is attractive to important search engines like Google and Technorati, how to use social networking sites, and on and on. Perhaps it's my past and present professional involvement in such internet marketing that makes me not want to do any of that for this blog.

So maybe I'll try writing again, or try writing regularly, or try committing to something, or try to stop writing long sentences with lots of commas and repetitive coordinating conjunctions. That last one certainly seems like a noble goal.



My wife and I have been saying this new word a lot in the last few days, and having fun with it. "Obamanomics". It's easy to pronounce, in case you're having trouble with the visually intimidating series of characters. Just say the name "Obama", then add "nomics". It flows quite nicely, and is fun to repeat.

(image) We've also sung this new word, to the tune of the song Mah Nà Mah Nà, which I used to always enjoy on The Muppet Show. Instead of saying "Mah Nà Mah Nà", you say "Obamanomics". It's a bit of a tight fit and has an extra syllable, but you can do it. Give it a try.

You can also try repeating the word as sort of a silly school fight-song cheer, with variations on the pattern:


It's zany fun for the whole family!

(What? Did you think I was going to discuss politics?)

Land of Opportunity


Congratulations to Barack Obama on making history and being elected the 44th President of the United States of America.

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
-1 Peter 2

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
-1 Timothy 2

May God bless Barack Obama and may God bless America.

Early and Often


Since I've been in Tennessee, I've always voted early. I can't imagine not voting early. On every Election Day, the news is full of stories about how many hours people waited in line, what sorts of problems were experienced at various polling places, and how crazy and impatient everyone became.

(image) So today at lunchtime I hopped into the car with my wife, drove about 20 minutes away to our county election office, stood in line for about 10 minutes, presented my driver's license, signed a piece of paper, and was escorted by an election official to a small booth with a computer touch screen. There, I participated in the process. I voted.

It's easy to make critical remarks about how broken this world's systems are, how little my vote seems to matter in the overall scheme of things, how much the politicians have screwed everything up, how much undue influence money has on the system, and on and on. Most people I know, including myself, routinely engage in that sort of discussion. Perhaps we do it because we can, because we're free.

There is a profound and important privilege and duty involved in participating in a system where those who govern do so with the consent of the governed. As much partisan rancor and passionate disagreement as our system entails, at the end of the day, those with less votes accept the results and go back to whatever they were doing before the election, those with more votes assume the responsibility for the office they were seeking, and "we the people" recognize and respect the legitimacy of those who were elected -- whether it was the candidate we voted for or not.

Man, that's pretty cool. Try telling someone living under a fascist dictatorship, or in a land with violent warlords and rampant anarchy, how much you hate it that every couple of years you have to look at campaign signs on the street corners and political commercials on the TV. I bet they'd be happy to trade places with you.



Last night I was watching a PBS documentary on the political career of Richard Nixon. I found it quite interesting and fascinating. Most of the information it contained was not new to me, but it was interesting to see it presented in the form of an historical documentary -- complete with lots of old film footage, as well as modern-day interviews with many of the key players from those events of the past.

There's something interesting about revisiting events that happened during my own lifetime, which seem in my mind to be both "fairly recent" and "long ago" at the same time. I vaguely recall the Watergate hearings, as my after-school cartoons were interrupted day after day by Breaking News and Special Reports. To a young boy, this meant that instead of Looney Tunes and Popeye, there were a bunch of serious looking men in suits arguing with other serious looking men in suits.

At that time, I couldn't tell you what it was really all about. But there was one event I still remember with crystal clarity, like it happened just yesterday.

Every summer, my family would pile into our car and drive from our home in Texas to Pennsylvania, where we would spend a week visiting with friends and relatives. The whole thing followed a very predictable pattern -- so much so that we would even stop in the same motels in the same cities each year as we made the journey.

(image) In that year, 1974, I remember stopping at the motel and going through our usual routine of dragging all our stuff from the car to our room, and then getting settled in like usual. My brother and I were running around the room, bouncing on the beds and laughing when my dad switched on the TV. I recognized the man on the screen as President Nixon. His face took up the whole screen, and he looked sad and serious. We continued with our playing for a moment, but as my dad began turning up the volume, he shouted "Listen!", both because he couldn't hear what was being said over our laughter, and because something very serious was happening. We could tell this by the unusual tone in my dad's voice.

I remember stopping what we were doing, and sitting at the foot of the motel room bed, listening to the President's words. "...Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office..."

At 9 years old, I don't think I understood exactly how things had gotten to that point, or what the historical significance of the event was. But I did understand the gist of what the President was doing and saying. And I realized that what was happening was big. Really big.