This photo was taken last March near Galveston, Texas, seven months after Hurricane Ike struck. A few days before I took this photo, a good friend in Kansas called me up. He asked me one of my favorite questions, "You want to go on a road trip?" I would guess ninety percent of the time those words are uttered, I respond in the affirmative. The only reasons that would stop me is work schedules or the person has proven to be a horrible road companion in the past. This time it was a no-brainer. The only question I had was when and where? Well, he needed to make a trip down to Galveston to check out 1 Mission:Galveston and the possibility of taking his church's youth group down to help. Having some time on my hands, I told him I'd pack up the car and head west. A couple days we were on the road to the coast. I was shocked at the damage that remained when we arrived in the area. We lost count of the McDonald's sings that had been blown out. And while we joked about the damage to the golden arches, the destruction to homes was heartbreaking. At the same time, we met some amazing people who both were long time residents, as well as recent arrivals, who made it their mission to help rebuild the area around them.
It is amazing the good that mankind can do, when faced with adversity. It is something that we have seen on the news this past week. Sadly, it often takes disasters to really bring out the best in man. Sometimes, I wonder why we can't put our egos, selfishness, and attitudes away and help the less fortunate around us more often?
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Sure it is a great way to keep in touch with friends, especially when you have friends scattered all over the globe. At the same time, it is a little annoying being kept up to date with friends, especially when you have friends scattered all over the world. Some say there is a fine line between posting useless and useful information. I would say that line is that that narrow. Posting about big news like job promotions, major relationship status changes, interesting tales from an interesting life is cool. Posting the daily color of your child's poop, your weekly gripe with your ex, or your latest Farmville/Mafia War/Bejewled Blitz score is not cool.
I basically have a couple rules about my facebook viewing. I have hidden all major games and quizes. Also, I give most acquaintances two opportunities before they are hidden or droped altogether. If they start cluttering up my feed with stupidity, BOOM - the hide button. It is there, might as well use it for the good of humanity. Oh, and closer friends get a couple extra chances.
So to my friends on the Facebook, let this be your lesson. Before you copy and paste some status, think twice. The reason you might not be getting many comments could be that you have been blocked or hidden from most people's view.
Oh, and here is my favorite stupid comment of the week. It is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or at least an "I'm with Stupid" t-shirt with the arrow pointing straight up.
I know many parents do not want to hear a single childless guy tell them how to raise their kids. But take into consideration that this guy has helped raise hundred of kids who were dropped of at boarding schools around the world, and hopefully you will heed the following advice.
This is a very important tip for those of you with young boys. When teaching them how to use a urinal, please instruct them that talking is limited to very close friends and family. In those two situations talking should only be limited. But in no situation known to man should a child start a conversation with an adult while both are using urinals.
I give this advice today after an awkward situation I was in today. I stopped at one of those large everything including the groceries stores. As I had been on the road for a couple hours, I made my first stop the bathroom. As I walked through the door, there were a couple small children blocking the entry. Their father asked them to move so I could pass by, and I thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, a minute later as I was taking care of business, when I heard a voice coming from the urinal next to me. "That was my dad out there," he began. I, not knowing exactly what was going on, just kept to my business and didn't say anything. But the little kid kept talking, as kids often are prone to do. So I finished up, zipped up, washed up and headed to the door. I think the kid still might have been talking to me as I exited the door. I was tempted to say something to the father about proper urinal etiquette or even about supervising your children in the restroom. I figured it might be more of a hassle, so I just went about my shopping.
But for you my readers, please do me a favor and have a talk with your sons tonight. Tell them that when you use the restroom the only things other than air exiting your body should be from below the belt.
As a bonus, you should also tell them that talking to guys with creepy mustaches is usually not a good idea, especially in light of the above tip. I am not saying all guys who have mustaches are creepy, but as a general rule of thumb...
I am watching the World Baseball Classic tonight. Tonight's game is between Venezuela and Korea, and right now it looks like it will be a victory for the Koreans. As someone who lived in Korea, and is a big fan of the Korean Baseball Organization, I have to say I am really enjoying the game. Well, almost. See, I am very close to turning down the sound, as the announcers sadly are proving some of the reasons a global competition like this should be held.
So far I have heard them discuss how hard it is for American baseball players, and why many of them did not want to give up more of their off-season to participate in the games. They actually bemoaned how hard it is for the players to have to spend six months on the road, often missing family and home. Boo-hoo. First off the minimum salary for a major league player in America is around $380,000 a year. Not bad for a six month gig. And sure you have to spend a lot of time on the road, but it does not take a rocket scientist to be aware of that way before you sign your contract. Every job has things about it that stinks, and if you do not like it, you are not required to take that job.
The announcers have also bemoaned how the numbers of American born baseball players in the United States is declining. They said they could not figure out why, yet in the rest of the world more and more great players are emerging. Here are a few potential reasons off the top of my head. American youth are more focused on their video games and television sets these days. Many parents wont let their precious snowflakes play in unsupervised areas like they used to, thus pick up games of baseball do not happen as often. Could it even be that we have seen many of our heroes fall from grace, and don't want to follow their lead (or don't have connections to steroids like they did)? Or perhaps as today's youth have watched ESPN they have seen the real money is at the poker tables, plus you don't have to work out as much to be a professional player in that sport.
And as for the announcer's complaints that we might be an underdog in our own sport, perhaps we should be glad we have exported at least something other countries can enjoy. I have spent many afternoons sitting in the outfield stand in a ball park in Korea. (Hanwha Eagles Fighting!) I can honestly say the fans there get into the game far more than most who attend games in the States. It is a completely different atmosphere in the stands, one that personally miss.
I am really enjoying see teams made up of non-MLBers compete and even out perform against guys who get paid millions. Seeing the Netherlands do as well as they did was a great thing. And now, the Koreans are about to finish off the Venezuelans. Makes you wonder if the big bucks are worth it?
Besides the announcers, my only other complaint about the World Baseball Classic is the way the brackets work. Korea and Japan have already faced each other four times, and could have a fifth before the series is over. They should mix the teams up a little more. How about splitting up the two teams that advance from the first round to different pools? It would give even more chances for teams to face each other, and limit the number of times two teams would face off.
Oh, and now that this is going to be a routine event, can we change the name of this to the World Series, and the other championship to the MLB Championship? Makes sense to me.
A few weeks ago, Ben, my young padawan from a time long ago, left a comment in which he pointed out this video. For those too lazy to click the link, it is a worship leader who has taken the 80's hit You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead Or Alive and changed it into a worship song. I do not even know where to start with this. Did nobody in his band pull him aside and ask about the logic behind this? "Uh Rick, are you aware that this originally was a huge hit in the 80's, including a big hit in the clubs frequented by people our church despises? In fact, the lead singer probably wrote this about a relationship with another man. And if that is not bad enough, Eiffel 65 and Jessica Simpson have covered this song too." "Yeah, but by switching 'baby' to 'Jesus,' it will change everything. Plus we will have everyone take off their feet because it is 'holy gournd.' And for extra kicks and giggles we will have them wave their 'socks around in the air, like they just don't care,' cause that is the way we roll."
I could write so much about this, but this guy's video does a good job summing it up. Instead, I figured I would take some time to rewrite a few classic songs for other people who are more about the show than the heart of the message.
I must confess that my loneliness is killin' me Now don't you know I still believe That you will be here to give me a sign Love me Jesus one more time. (Britney Spears)
Come on Jesus, light my fire. Come on Jesus, light my fire, You can set my heart on fire. (The Doors)
I'm in love with you God 'cause you're on my mind, You're the one I think about most every time. And when you make me smile in everything you do, I know you understand, God, this love is true. (Milli Vanilli)
Your love is the best medicine Your medicine is what I need Shake it up, just like God's medicine You're the Great Doctor that can Cure my disease. (Bon Jovi)
Ooo, Jesus, I love your way, everyday Wanna tell you I love your way, everyday Wanna be with you night and day. (Peter Frampton)
Doing it all for my Saviour Because He's as fine as He can be Doing it all for my Saviour For everything He did for me. (Huey Lewis & The News)
Say we can sing, we can pray Everything's in His control We can sing, we can pray They're doing it from pole to pole We can sing, we can pray Everybody fold up your hands We can sing, we can pray Everybody sayin' the prayer The sinner's pray'r The sinner's pray'r The sinner's pray'r (Men Without Hats)
Please say a prayer for me now, pray it till the morning after Please say a prayer for me now, pray it till the morning after. (Duran Duran)
His mind was on faith and love and healing some. Because he loved us so much he had to die young. But He made His mark in history. Still ev'rybody says: Rock me Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Oh oh oh Hallelujah. (Falco)
Go, evangelize and listen, God sent you out on his Great Commission... (Vanilla Ice)
Wow, that was pretty easy, and I am especially proud of that last one. I think I might have to go into the '80s worship revival business. I just need to get me a backup band. Sadly, I think I probably could get a couple gigs with these tunes. But in the end, it would all be in vain. True worship is not about the crowds, it is not about the flashy music, it is not even about the cool worship leader in the front. Worship is really about the heart of those involved. Again, there is someone else who can say it better. In this case it is Jon Foreman in his song, Instead Of A Show.
There have been several things I have thought about posting about, but due to a drop in temperatures the last few weeks, I found myself trapped on the island. A week ago last Friday night the entire lake froze over. The ice was too thin to walk across for most of the week, yet almost too thick to bust through with the boat. I did not feel like taking any risks, so I found myself wandering around in circles for over a week.
Here are a few news items I am late to the party to post about, but better late than never, right?
The local news earlier this week said that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can be reduced greatly by using a fan in the baby’s room. While there might be some research that proves this could work, I don’t think the scientists have considered that it would only put them at risk of the dreaded Fan Death. I am betting most of my readers have never heard of this deadly killer, but to those who believe it is no laughing matter.
I have seen a few clips about people being trapped at the Bangkok airport for the last week. As one who has passed through that airport, my heart goes out to those stranded. While I found most of the people of Thailand I encountered to be a friendly, this was not the case at the airport. A couple years ago, a friend and I had a layover there. As we passed through passport control, I was sent out towards baggage claim, while my friend was directed to the transit area. The guards would not let him follow me, or even send someone to find me, as it was my first time in the airport. Due to the time, I actually had to run to get to the gate, only to be told by the lady behind the counter that I needed both the boarding pass (which I had) and the receipt (which was in my friend’s possession). They were very unhelpful, not allowing me to page my friend or even have them find him themselves. I returned to the counter several times to see what I could do to make sure I was on the flight out, only to be told on my last visit that they were paging me. That was funny, as I was within eyesight of them the whole time, and never heard my name announced. Luckily, I was able to get to the plane, where my friend had been waiting for a while.
The media has been telling us lately that the economy is so bad that people are not shopping. Guess that was proven wrong on Friday, when not only did people go shopping, but they did it with lethal force. It is sad to think that people are capable of trample a person to death in order to get a good deal on a television. Hopefully those involved will spend more time behind bars than they will spend paying for that television.
And how in the world can you plead not guilty to shooting yourself in the leg? Seriously, it was his gun, in his possession, and the bullet ended up in his leg. Can we not save the tax payers' money on a trail? Perhaps this is yet another reason why our country is a little messed up.
I am beginning to think that if Ted Kaczynski had a YouTube account he might not have gone the route he did. All I know is that after spending over a week completely trapped on that island one of the things that prevented me from going on some crazy binge was making stupid videos for you all to see. There are more where this one came from.
As I watch the evening news, I am constantly reminded that our economy is not doing so well. Last night, the local news reported a car dealership and a major hotel that was closing for the last time. Everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else to point the blame. The real problem, as people see it, lies with the fat cats on Wall Street, the crooked CEOs at AIG, the government, the banks who told us we can afford the biggest house in the neighborhood, etc... Few are actually standing up and taking a little blame for their current situations. But deep down, a lot of this problem falls on the individual. I was taught a lesson a long time ago about money and spending. It might sound simple, but if you want something, you should have the money to buy it. If you don't, you really should not buy it. Now, I know there are some things like houses and college educations that you might need, but don't have the money in hand to make that purchase, but those are exceptions. Yet, the house or college education you purchase don't have to be the top of the line, just the one you can afford on the means you have.
Sadly last night on Nightline, they reported that lottery ticket sales have been one of the few things that have actually increased in this current economy. They had one family who spends hundreds of dollars a week to purchase tickets, including driving across state lines to buy different tickets. They have had to make cuts to their family's spending, yet will not forgo the lottery tickets. Ironically, the guy just lost his job as a financial planner. Yet, they are not alone, if ticket sales are increasing like they are. Some people are just stupid, spending money they don't have on things they don't need. (I did however learn on the program my odds are better of dating a supermodel than winning the lottery, so I got that going for me.)
I passed this sign several times when I was out in California. It pretty much sums up part of the problem with the mindset of many Americans.
Really, if you can not afford to buy a pet with the cash in hand, I doubt a payment plan on a pet is your best option. Not only are you going to have a monthly payment for that pet, but you will also have extra expenses like food, shots, and the pet sitter. Sure, no money down on a dog sounds like a great deal, but in the end, it will probably just bite you in the butt.
So to sum up, if you can not afford it, go without it. It reminds me of this SNL skit.