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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The music is in my head

I've had a few songs running around in my head lately. Maybe it's the ringing in my ears...

It's rare that I like live versions of songs that have really grabbed me from a studio release. Many bands seem to think that we all crave the improvisational stylings they sometimes bring to popular tunes when performed live. I have a word of advice for any famous musicians/bands/singers that might stop by The Stream: don't.

As with any rule, there is always an exception. And in this case - two. I first heard Shaker Song when I listened to the debut Spyro Gyra album: Spyro Gyra. Did I mention I typically don't like remakes either?

A few years later I happened to catch another of my favorite bands, Manhattan Transfer, singing - you guessed it - Shaker Song. After getting over my initial umbrage (old habits can be hard to break), I decided I loved it! Here's a live version of Shaker Song performed in Japan circa 1986...(takes a moment to load, please e patient)

Visitors to The Stream might recognize Janice Siegel, the Manhattan Transfer vocalist singing lead on Shaker Song, from a post I did months ago regarding a song from the movie Swing Kids entitled Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. That lady can really sing...

Anyway, back to Shaker Song. For those who don't remember the original version from Spyro Gyra, here's a chance to listen - no flashy video - just great music...

This is just a small example, from the seemingly infinite jazz universe that we live in, of tremendous music. Enjoy - and happy new year!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Should we turn to culture?

Culture [Kuhl-cher] - noun 1. The quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

School days. Ah. Fond memories of hanging with my friends, playing sports, pranks, girlfriends, getting good grades without studying too hard. My first concert, the thrill of doing things I wasn't supposed to, jumping off the second floor balcony of the Bilmar Hotel in 11th grade to avoid hotel security. No need to say why they were knocking on our door.

I keenly remember standing in assembly, the Catholic priest who was our school chaplain intoning...something. I'm a little embarrassed to admit the extent that my friends and I made fun of him and the hymns we were supposed to be singing. If God wasn't so forgiving, I'd be doomed for sure.

I'd gone to Sunday school and church as a kid growing up - back in the day, when we had to wear a suit and tie. But that was a lifetime away from military school and peer pressure and, well, fun.

Thirty years later, I'm a Sunday school teacher. I could dwell on the irony of that but I have a more important point to ponder: Why are kids leaving the church today?

More specifically, young men and women in their mid-to-late teens and even early twenties are departing the church in droves. In fact, Over 60% of children who grow up in the church will leave it as young adults according to Already Gone, a startling book by Ken Ham and Brit Beemer. The cause?

Sunday school syndrome.

Ham and Beemer are finding through extensive research that instead of strengthening the faith of young people by solidifying the Bible's historical authority, Sunday school is teaching that the Bible is more about inspiration and morality than authenticity and reality.

How much time to young people spend in church? How much time do they spend in school? How much time do they spend in front of the television or with ear buds firmly implanted in their heads, listening to music? How much time do they spend on social networking sites or otherwise surfing the Internet?

I would hazard a guess that the time spent in church, or in church-related activity is far less than the rest. In fact, I believe that, similarly to the premise of Already Gone, church plays a part in the disconnect of young people from God. And I readily admit that I've been an enabler.

How many times have you invited someone to church? Did that suffice for your outreach duty? According to Matthew 28, Jesus didn't ask us to go and invite people to church - He asked us to go and make disciples. Big difference. In college and professional sports, recruiters go and scout out talent, inviting them to come and play at a particular school or for a particular team. It's up to the coaches to take that talent and mold it into a winning team. I have a sneaking suspicion that most Christians - evangelical or not - are more recruiter than disciple-maker.

But if each of us fails to take our personal knowledge of God - gained through regular study of God's message to humanity and how it (and He) has changed our own lives - and share it with someone, helping them mold that knowledge into their daily life, we are blowing it - big time. I even found a video for a church that admitted church was boring - except for theirs.

At the end of the day, what are we up against? We're up against our culture. We live in the age of reality shows and instant gratification. Oh yeah, I hear that our youth today are the most giving generation of all time - and I've met some young people that awesomely fit that bill. But I also heard a report on NPR this morning that highlighted the emergence of charity for profit. Everything from the pink ribbons to the timing of donations to take full advantage of our tax laws. The new charity is I'll long as I get the best return from it.

So what's the answer? How do we fulfill Jesus' command to us in Matthew 28? Do we turn to culture? Do we make ourselves the anti-church?

I wrestle with how worldly we should be in reaching out to young people. Faith in God is a serious thing. That doesn't mean we can't have fun - heck, the knowledge that I will have eternal life and spend that time in the most amazing place in the universe is pretty exciting, if hard to conceptualize in our culture. One example of - at the risk of...something - a godly secular song is U2's 40

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

How do we get them back?


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

He'll be back...

This article on MSNBC opines that Tiger Woods will never recover from the marital infidelity scandal he is currently embroiled in.

I am disappointed in Tiger - no doubt about it - but to say that he will never recover is naive. The media-consuming public has a notoriously short memory. The article mentions Kobe...what about Ted Kennedy? Holy cow, he was responsible for the death of a woman and he came out of that to serve forever on the Senate, with distinction. Listening to the endless eulogies after his death, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Mr. Kennedy is going to be put forward as a candidate for sainthood. But we're not talking about the honorable senator from the great state of Massachusetts.

We all get mad when our idols let us down. That is more an indictment on us than on the object of our misplaced idol-worship. Tiger will be back - he is too good of a golfer and too strong mentally. Will he be as loved? Probably not. But within a year, maybe two at most - he will be tearing it up again.

Either that or your looking at the next Howard Hughes...I could be wrong - I'm not perfect either.

What do you think?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Now that's funny...

When I was younger, I used to watch Saturday Night Live. Of course, that was back in the days of John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner and many others. Heck I even watched it during the tenure of Dana Carvey - who can forget the classic Church Lady line, "Could it be...SATAN?"

I also enjoyed Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood as Eddie Murphy took an icon and turned him into a deadbeat tenant.

Saturday Night Live has made fun of just about everything, from Chevy Chase mugging on Gerald Ford to Dan Akroyd tearing down Jane Curtin during the news, to Phil Hartman's "The Real Reagan" skit.

What I'm trying to say is that nothing was sacred when it came to SNL writing and performing parodies and skits. But now, even Hollywood is making noises about SNL going too far. What heinous tear-down could have elicited such a reaction?

First of all, let me apologize for the poor quality of this video - and for the film crew cackling in the background - even they thought a skit about Tiger getting his comeuppance at the hands of his wife was funny.

As the article notes, what seems to have flipped everyone out is that Rihanna was the musical guest on the SNL this week. You may remember that Rihanna suffered a domestic violence issue with her then-boyfriend Chris Brown. I'm conflicted here. As I've gotten older, I've thought that a lot of what SNL does is distasteful and offensive. So what's the difference now?

I think this is sadly ironic...What do you think?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Simple but Powerful

A friend of mine sent me a link yesterday to a site hosted by Xerox Corporation. Of course, I thought, any company whose name begins with X can't be bad, right?

Our men and women have been deployed overseas - in harm's way - for many years and it's crucial that they understand just how much each and every one of us appreciates their service. From the cooks in the mess tent to the nurses in the hospital facilities to the mechanics in the motor pool to the ones ducking as bullets ricochet all around, we owe our heartfelt and eternal gratitude.

Go to Let's Say Thanks, pick out an original post card design, select a short message or create one of your own, and let a soldier, sailor, airman , marine or guardian know that you appreciate their service. If the link above doesn't work for you, copy and paste the one below into the address bar of your browser:

Politics doesn't matter. Whether you agree with our past, present, or future foreign policy or not is irrelevant. Take a moment and let our troops know you support THEM.

God bless all of them and bring them home safely.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lambert is not my idol

I guess it's appropriate that as I write this, The Andy Griffith Show is on CBS. I kind of like TAGS, but don't watch it regularly. The Dallas-Oakland game just ended, so it was on.

In fact, I don't watch a lot of TV anyway, which is why I missed the American Music Awards the other night. Fortunately, I have every traditional and web-based media outlet and blogger on the planet to tell me what I missed: Adam Lambert having faux-sex on prime time television.

It's a far cry from Mayberry to the modern AMA's. A crying shame in my book. Mr. Lambert is free to live his life as he pleases and appears to be doing so. Fortunately he doesn't call or write to ask what I think.

Before people get upset that I might be focused on the orientation of his display, hold your horses. I wasn't thrilled when Britney and Madonna decided to give each other an oral exam a few years back at the MTV video awards. What people do in the privacy of their own homes is none of my business. But what they do on national TV should be everyone's.

My displeasure - to quote an anthem from the 1970's - is like so much dust in the wind. Popular culture will continue to plumb the depths of depravity in the name of creative freedom. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

What do you think about the direction our culture is headed?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jeremiah 24 and the good/bad figs...

I don't normally get too preachy on The Stream - opinionated yes, preachy, not so much. Some may feel like this post crosses that line but I have to post it - sorry.

I'm reading the book of Jeremiah as part of my daily devotional and this morning it struck me (as I read chapter 24) that the people who were captured and carried off into exile were the ones God was going to save. Imagine yourself as a resident of Jerusalem in a time of siege. The armies of Babylon are at the gate, the city is nearly surrounded, there's some crazy guy wandering around hollering that God is punishing you for your sins and worshiping false gods.

The city is in chaos, people are wondering where God is - why is He letting these foreigners come and destroy the city dedicated to His name?

Jeremiah 24 has the answer, but is it what we want to hear?

How many of us would willingly let the armies of Nebuchadnezzar take us captive? How many of us would instead, take our families and what few possessions we could carry and  flee to neighboring lands? How hard would it be to convince our families that it may sound crazy, but we need to go into exile? That giving our lives over to the King of Babylon - the enemy - is God's plan to save the remnant of His people.

How hard is it today to do things that seem to go against the wisdom of the world?

Do we, as believers, have what it takes to make the really hard choices that our faith will someday demand?

That is what our pastors are here for. That is why small groups/Sunday School exist. We have to prepare ourselves - Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Are you ready?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

This could have been a boring blog...

...but instead, it's awesome! because I was able to meet some tremendously talented people last night - some that I have known for years, but have never met!

I attended the monthly meeting of the Written Remains writers group in Newark (pronounced New - Ark, so I'm told), DE.

Honestly, I've been slacking in the writing department for the last several months, with this humble blog amounting to the most creative writing I've done in ages. But last night, able to sit with my friends and fellow writers, well, I felt nothing less than inspired.

We enjoyed the aromatic atmosphere and ambiance of Panera as stories were discussed and dissected, knight-warrior's motivations were unpacked, and zombie redneck girls were sympathized with.

The highlight of the evening was finally getting to meet - live and in person - Sherry Thompson, author of Seabird and the soon-to-be released, epic follow-up, Earthbow.

Thank you Joanne for helping make it all possible and thank you to Justynn Tyme and la jeune fille de dressage for a most memorable evening. I wish you all continued success in your creative endeavors and hope that our paths will cross again.

Until then, bonne santé, bonheur et la bénédiction de Dieu sur vous tous.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Football

If any NFL seekers arrived here after searching for Friday football, well, sorry mates - this post is all about the beautiful game. And what better way to start out than this lovely young lady (video link courtesy of a great find over at The Beautiful Game):

Yikes! If that girl is the future - look for the women's game to make huge strides in the next 5-10 years.

Speaking of the future of soccer, Freddy Adu used to be the next great American hope (albeit imported from Ghana) for our country's future in the beautiful game. But he is currently languishing near the bottom of the Portuguese 1st division at Belenenses, on loan from more successful cross-town rivals, Benfica.

Freddy is only 20, yet his star has waned since debuting as a 14-year-old in MLS. One can only hope he can convince his new manager to give him more playing time - especially with the loss of Charlie Davies for the World Cup - now only 8 months away.

Speaking of stars on the wane, several years ago, a young Christiano Ronaldo - C-Ron to the Johnny-come-lately's - burst on the scene and fairly took the soccer/footballing world by storm. It didn't hurt that he played for my favorite team, Manchester United. It's always nice when arguably the best player in the world is on your side.

But where is C-Ron now?

In this old video, he's pitted against the once-king of football - Ronaldhino; another brilliant player who has let success go to his head (and gut).

The sad fact is, Ronaldo was traded to Real Madrid over the summer and has been injured for much of the season, unable to play for the Galacticos or in Portugal's crucial World Cup qualifying ties. C Ron had it great at Man U. He was truly the best player around. Now, he is just the most expensive bench warmer there is.

Does this all have a point? No, not really.

Our youngest - a junior in high school - played in the first game of the HS season last night. He did well, but they still drew 1:1 against the opposition. Not to worry, much more to come!

Our oldest just finished his first season of college footy. He didn't see much playing time off the bench as a freshman but he is getting invaluable training and should be stronger, faster and ready to compete next season.

Happy Friday all and don't forget to watch or play some football this weekend!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So long Ida...

Ida is leaving. She didn't make as big of a splash as predicted. But this morning as I drove to work, the rain, the clouds and the gusty winds made a perfect backdrop for one of the best Duran Duran songs ever...

Yes, I'm an 80's freak - but not just any 80's music. I like to think that I prefer the more eclectic songs from the Golden Age of music videos. Even though this song is from the 1993 eponymous album, the group stayed true to their artistic video flair. A great song with which to send off Tropical Storm Ida... X

Friday, November 6, 2009

What does Bob Dylan know?

Thanks to a friend of mine, I've been stuck in an endless loop of memories this afternoon; memories drawn from my life and thoughts during the time that the song, "Ode to Billy Joe" was popular.

Thanks to this being the Age of the Internet, it's easy to find information concerning just about anything - oftentimes, too much for my taste. But in this case, I found some quite interesting tidbits and commentary about the bluesy ode to life in the Mississippi Delta made famous by Bobbie Gentry.

As a writer I'd love to capture the emotion and atmosphere of Ode to Billie Joe in some of my work. I never knew how difficult it was to write a short story until I tried to write one and get it published. Reading the lyrics to this song, I am amazed at the depth of Ode's story captured in these few words.

And then I read a commentary that claimed the Bob Dylan song, "Clothesline Saga" was written as a parody of Gentry's classic - that he hated Ode to Billie Joe.

Anyone with an imagination; anyone that has lived - or even passed through - a rural area, especially in the clinging heat of June, can wonder at the hidden mysteries of a seemingly simple people.

Country folks' lives are full of mystery and wonder. But what would Bob Dylan know about that?


Friday, October 30, 2009


I was reading the Bible this morning and came across a great verse in Isaiah 42:

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.

This reminded me of a song but I couldn't put my finger on it. A vague tune kept nagging at me until I had to go to the oracle - Google - and search for, 'sing a new song'.

Of course, none of the hits led me back to the Bible - apparently Google is agnostic - but it did lead me to the song that was in my head.

So, thanks to U2 for leading me from Isaiah to Psalms - because the inspiration for their song 40 reportedly comes from Psalm 40.

The Isaiah passage I read this morning - 42:10 - speaks to God's identity and His deeds on our behalf. Reading on into chapter 43, there are some amazing words of clarity that really made me reevaluate the place that God has in my life.

I recommend spending ten or fifteen minutes with Isaiah 42 - 44. Let me know what you think.

Happy Friday :-)


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Football Follies

There used to be a show on television by this name: Football Follies. I don't know; it may still be on somewhere, but I don't watch much TV anymore.

The follies I am talking about today will most likely be the proverbial Greek to my friends who stop by and read this - thank you all for putting up with my love of the beautiful game - Football (soccer).

Folly #1: Real Madrid lose 4-0 in the Copa del Rey...

Third division side Alcorcon laid the lumber on the shiny new $300 million version of the Galacticos in the first leg of the King's Cup - Spanish football's open cup championship. This would be like the Yankees getting beaten by the Pensacola Pelicans in today's World Series opener. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. As for Real Madrid? Serves 'em right. John Lennon and Paul McCartney said it best decades ago: Money can't buy me love.

Folly #2: Relegated Newcastle are winners and losers...

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Newcastle United, an historic football club in the UK with perhaps the most fanatical and dedicated fan base in the world continue to befuddle. While leading the 2nd tier professional league (The Coca Coal Championship), decisions are still being made regarding ownership of the club and the status of their manager. Suffering the indignity and embarrassment of relegation from the Premier League, Newcastle have stepped up and are leading the chase for promotion. But with constantly under-fire owner Mike Ashley taking the club off the market and caretaker manager Chris Hughton being named as permanent, fans are less than overjoyed. Gone are the foreign suitors. Gone is any mention of local icon Alan Shearer returning to lead the Tynesiders. Newcastle is the poster child for a club that's losing even though they're winning.

Folly #3: I'm nervous about my club...

Like Newcastle United, Manchester United are an historic club - albeit a significantly more winning one. After suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of rival Liverpool this weekend, they met lower tier club Barnsley yesterday in the fourth round of the Carling Cup. After a rapacious start with an early goal, United looked in peril from a frisky home side. Free transfer Michael Owen showed why he is still to be considered among the leagues' top strikers with a sublime move and goal to seal the win. So why is this considered a folly? Captain Gary Neville, still struggling to regain his regular place on defense was give a straight red for a poor tackle on Barnsley's Adam Hammill.

Couple this with Rio's horrific play lately and the England mainstay's own injury struggles and United look weak in the back.

Of course, it's when the doubters start cackling that the Red Devils usually come to the fore. I'm pretty sure that Sir Alex can lead his squad to a record fourth consecutive, and 19th overall, league victory. But I'm still nervous.

And that is usually proven to be folly...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

What can God do for you?

United Parcel Service (UPS) had a slogan: What can Brown do for you?

The point of their slogan and the associated ad campaign was to convince businesses and consumers that no matter what shipping needs they had, UPS could meet that need.

Why is it that we believe what advertisers tell us about a company's capabilities? What causes us to put complete faith in human endeavor but question God's ability to meet our needs?

Last night in our church youth group, we discussed the conflict between depending on God to do what he wants to do in one's life and the effort one has to put into life in order to achieve something God wants to do through someone.

Read that one more time just to make sure you get it! :-)

The example we talked about last night was: if God wants me to go to college - even a specific college - I have to put some effort forward - not skipping classes, doing my homework, keeping my GPA up, etc.

However, our guest speaker shared an example of something a little different. He was able to get accepted into the University of Mobile - a tough school to get accepted to - with a 2.1 GPA. He went to class during his senior year in high school maybe twice a week; generally not putting a lot of effort into it.

Did God want him at UM? Was God able to move situations and events to allow him to gain acceptance even without meeting the minimum standards?

Only God knows for sure.

I'm not saying that anyone who has faith in God should just plop down on the couch and say, "If God wants me to be an airline pilot - or lawyer, or bricklayer, or whatever - He will make it happen and I'll just sit here and wait for that moment."

But if we're going to have faith the size of a mustard seed, if we're going to believe that God can move mountains for us - if that mountain is in the way of His will for our lives - shouldn't we believe that He can do it with our without our intervention?

As believers, we need to seek God's will for our lives through the Bible, prayer, life circumstances, and our church fellowship. Sometimes God will ask us to take action; other times He will ask us to wait. But in all cases, if we are obedient - His will will be done.

This is a HUGE issue that could never really be unpacked in a simple blog entry. But I wanted to put it out there for folks to think about and comment on.

If we believe that UPS, or any company, can meet our every need, why is it so hard to rely on God?

Let me know what you think...


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paper or Plastic?

Typically, when I hear the question, "Paper or plastic?" I am in the grocers. But the word plastic will take on a different meaning for me now. Hungary has taken a big step down a slippery slope with the Miss Plastic contest, as MSN reports from the Today Show.

The official website (English version) provides more information on the origins, motivation and supposedly altruistic nature of the pageant. One judge remarked, "Hungarians used to laugh about plastic surgery but it's time for Hungarian women to care more about their appearance. They are the most beautiful in Europe."

If Hungarian women are the most beautiful in Europe, why do they need plastic surgery?

Contestants must have gone fully under the knife - no pansy botox or collagen here.

I know it's always dangerous for a man to remark about women's issues, but I just couldn't hold back. Personally, I think this is a really bad idea. It sets a dangerous precedent and sends a message to young women everywhere that there is reward to be had for having surgery - for putting a premium on appearance over substance. I don't think it will be long before America takes this idea and runs with it - sad, but probably true.

What do you think?


Friday, October 9, 2009


I must've been a weird kid because I remember using that 'word' - complain-a-tain - when I was in elementary school. On the one hand, it's nice to know that I was so laid back at an early age that I had a name for people that complained too much. Of course, complaining is now a national pastime and may soon qualify as an Olympic sport, so I'm probably in the minority when I think that complaining is a bummer.

Don't get me wrong; I'll be the first to admit that I do my share of complaining - a lot of it happens in the car where I am subjected to a distinct lack of common sense on the part of various people who are piloting 2,000 bombs as if they were riding tricycles in the park. And then there are the teenagers - I'm talking about ours, not someone else's.

This article from 2007, chronicles one reporter's attempt to follow the lead of Pastor Will Bowen toward a complaint-free world. If you want your own purple bracelet, you can get it here. And while I think that moving toward a world with less complaining and more service to others is a noble and worthy goal, I'm not so sure that the prosperity message preached by Pastor Bowen's home organization - 1 Community Spiritual Center - is what the world needs.

But I can't get into that, because it might be construed as complaining...

I guess my feelings about complaining today, especially in light of the world with less complaining movement, centers around society's movement toward elevating self-esteem to the top of its collective wish list. Maslow and Rand must be celebrating in their respective resting places.

What do you think?


Friday, October 2, 2009

Blame it on Rio

Not a huge follower of the Olympics, but certainly support the mission and the games as they come around every four years. Chicago, the American entry for the summer games in 2016 was gutted in the first round of voting in Copenhagen. All of the US media leading up to today's vote was boiling the race down to Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. Many believed that President Obama's visit, coupled with the earlier arrival of heavyweights Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, would put Chicago over the top - but it was not to be.

Is this another loss for the Obama presidency, or just an 'oh well' event? Politically, I predict the right side of the aisle will be leveraging this for all they're worth. Personally, I don't think it amounts to much - other than Obama spending some of our hard-earned cash flying to Denmark.

What put Rio over the top? I'm not the guy that has that answer, but with them hosting the World Cup in 2014, I'm sure they've argued that all or most of the infrastructure required to host the summer games will already be in place. Frankly, I think they'll have more folks in town for the WC than the Olympics.

What do you think?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To hypocratize or not to hypocratize - that is the question...

I don't know if hypocratize is a word; I don't think it is. However, I am going to make it a verb and use it anyway.

Every once and awhile, I delve into the murky world of opinion letters in my local paper. While many that write there are probably to the right of Glen Beck and have posters of Ann Coulter on their walls at home, some are to the left of Dianne Feinstein and Howard Dean. As regular readers will know, I am definitely a man of faith - but I also like to think that I am a man of reason.

This morning, I couldn't help myself - I had to respond to a letter writer who lambasted the folks that gathered at the Pensacola courthouse downtown to pray and walk in support of Frank Lay and Robert Freeman. You can see the letter that prompted my response here - entitled, "Would they defend Muslim prayer?"

I wrote last Friday about the outcome of Lay and Freeman's trial, so I won't go into that again. But I thought Mr. Caine's opinion letter and my response (below) might make an interesting epilogue - although I'm sure the issue of prayer in schools and in the public square in general, will be news for the foreseeable future.

Call me intolerant if you think I'm intolerant - but don't call me a hypocrite if you mean to call me intolerant!

I enjoyed the dichotomy of Mr. Caine’s opinion (Would They Defend Muslim Prayer? Letters, 23 September 2009). On the one hand, he cries, ‘Hypocrites!’ among other things, when referring to the supporters (he calls them protesters) at Frank Lay’s recent trial. But then, he proceeds to name-call, using every buzz-word and derogatory term I’ve seen in the papers over the last six months.
So, if people who support Christian prayer are hypocrites (a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess…), why were they at the courthouse engaging in Christian prayer?

If you’re going to put down a group of people, shouldn’t you call them by a name that you really mean? Mr. Caine’s letter screams his opinion that Christians are intolerant while espousing that, on the other hand, folks like him are the pillar of rational, intelligent behavior.

Christians supporting Christian prayer is not hypocritical, Christians supporting Christian prayer over Muslim prayer is not hypocritical. Calling Christians hypocrites, when you really mean to call them intolerant, while you yourself exhibit intolerant behavior? Now that’s being a hypocrite.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Justice is served

Late yesterday, Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman were found not guilty of violating a court-ordered ban on prayer in school - at least when students are/were present. This article outlines the history and outcome of yesterday's hearing.

I read about it in the paper version of the paper this morning and was bowled over that hundreds of supporters for the accused walked around the courthouse in downtown Pensacola seven times - some even blowing on ram's horns. That is awesome!

I spoke with someone who was there all day and throughout the rain - which was frequent - many stood strong in support of the Pace HS principal and his AD. Whatever your thoughts on prayer in school, I love you, but can anyone deny that the downward spiral of behavior and accountability in our youth today parallels the removal of faith from the public square.

With all due respect to those of other faiths - or those of no faith - whether I would ask you to examine your need to believe in God and the saving grace of His Son Jesus or not, removing any mention of God from public life is not helping us build a better America.

Personally, I think Judge Rodgers made the right call.


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Loyalty hath no bounds in Cyberspace

It seems I'm leaning toward making Blogger the permanent home for the Stream. Honest, officer, it was nothing premeditated; I just feel like I need to consolidate my electronic soul.

I have some really cool friends over at LJ and I will definitely give them my forwarding address. I do hope they drop by and say hello here - maybe even become followers; what I call Riders on the Stream. It would be so nice to have the box over there to the left full of attractive little icons.

Going a bit deeper, what does this say about Google? I've always been a fan of Microsoft, even when barely resisting the urge to toss my PC into the backyard and use it for target practice. I don't care what anyone says, Bill Gates & co. are responsible for us all sitting here and typing on a personal computer today.

But Google - they are going one step further. They want to be the Microsoft of the Internet. They want to control all the portals - the on-ramps to the Information Super Highway - so to speak. And maybe not just the on-ramps; maybe the gas stations, cafes, bookstores, and everything else, too.

I'm not using their browser - I'm a dedicated Firefox boy (sorry Bill) - but I've got this blog, and I've got a Google website for my novels. Keeping up the original Stream of Consciousness over at LJ and trying to link it here or even post blogs here, too, was just becoming too high maintenance.

What about social networking? Who owns Facebook? Right now, as far as I can tell, it's private - run by founder Mark Zuckerberg. But how long will it be before Google, Microsoft, or someone else tries to gobble it up?

MySpace? I'm not really in love with MySpace anymore. I had a fling with it and still play a few of the increasingly annoying viral games there (i.e. Mobsters). But the more I think about it, the more of a black hole it seems to be. And although we live in the land of the free - especially in CyberSpace - I find a lot of the people there don't have very good manners. Call me a prude, but I don't need to be bombarded with the F-word to know how serious someone is about a particular subject or issue.

Besides, in my humble opinion, we're already sliding down the slippery slope of selfishness fast enough without needing MY space to enable our selfishness even further.

So, drop back by sometime. I don't always require a soap box for my blog entries. Most of the time it's just about writing, music, sports - especially soccer - or something I heard on NPR one morning and felt like sharing.

So with apologies to Jim Morrison and the Doors, I bid you adieu, for now

Riders on the Storm...


Friday, April 3, 2009

Dourado a must-read!

I just finished reading the exciting debut novel from David Wood - Dourado. This is high adventure in the mold of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels and every bit as satisfying. For a full review check out Dourado is published by Gryphonwood Press. X

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seattle MLS debut is perfect!

I haven't been to all the websites and blogs yet but I did visit The Beautiful Game and get his take - he lives in Seattle. The Sounders kicked off their regular MLS season last night with a 3-nil thrashing of last year's runner-ups, the New York Red Bulls. The pundits have been trying to tamp down expectations in the Northwest - Seattle is, after all, an expansion team. Whether it was opening night, Cinderella good-fortune or whether the men in Rave Green are for real, only time will tell. But count me in... I live in Florida - I've been a Buccaneers fan all my life - the Tampa Bay and Seattle NFL expansion franchises came into NFL existence the same year - 1976 - so I've had no good reason to support Seattle sports. I remember being in Seattle, maybe around 1994, when the universities of Miami and Washington played in a big college football game - I can't remember now if it was a bowl game or not - I think it was. Suffice it to say, my friend and I were not the most popular guys in the tavern! But last night...last night was poetry. I could pick apart some sloppy play on the Sounders side but compared to New York, they played exquisite football. My son is begging for one of those Rave Green, long-sleeved jerseys - I might get one myself. Call it bandwagon hopping or whatever, but I think I've found a team to root for in MLS. I'll always root for Donovan - I just like that guy for some reason - but pulling for the LA Galaxy always seemed hollow. Even Beckham's return from AC Milan in July may not be able to quell the green wave from the Pacific Northwest - at least where football excitement in the USA is concerned. Congratulations to all the players, coaches, staff and owners in Seattle. And a special nod to Drew Carey, one of the minority owners who has really been a cheerleader for the team. Happy Friday! X

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Leave it to the Irish

It's Friday - and you know what that means.

In this article, MSNBC reports that Europe's largest low-cost carrier, Ireland's Ryanair, is mulling over whether to put pay toilets on their aircraft. 

I can invoke the, "Leave it to the Irish," expression because, thanks to my Pop, I are one, as they say.

I love Ireland and I love the Irish; and by no means does Ryanair have the corner on the budget airline market in Europe. EasyJet, better known as SleazyJet, is right up there delivering the best Euro air travel cattle-class has to offer. But please; pay toilets on airplanes? Talk about financial meltdowns!

What are the potential pros and cons:


1. It's Europe. Flights aren't that long and unless you've had a few pints in the lounge waiting to rush the boarding ramp, chances are you can make it an hour or two without needing to use the Lav.

2. According to the article, making the toilets 'pay-as-you-go' will help lower fares. I guess keeping the loo cleaner brings down maintenance costs. Of course, one bad apple...

3. Lots less wobbly tourists bumping the aisle-sitters as they bobble back and forth to do their business - oh, and not as many window-sitters climbing up and down.


1. Er, about that curry you had for lunch.

2. You know there are people hammering it in the lounge before the flight - and they'll be by the window. It's Murphy's law.

3. What about the kids? "Dad, I have to!"

And don't forget the biggie: "Where did I put that copper?"

Can't you see the people in the rear seats scalping for bog entry?

"Why yes, I have a pound coin. If you'll just slip me that fiver, you're in like Flynn!"

People will find a way to profit from anything.

I won't be flying in Europe any time soon. But come on, you know it won't be long before Southwest says, "Now there's a good idea!"

That's what I like about driving. You are captain of your own ship, as it were. Heck, in a dire situation, you can pull off to the side of the road if there are no rest stops or bio-hazardous gas stations handy.

Air travel used to be so cool.


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Kindle; Amazon's technological cudgel or a nudge for the attention-challenged?

In an article published today, Helen A.S. Popkin asked an average American (not!) why she owns a Kindle.

Do Kindle owners hate books? - Technotica -

I've heard of these electronic readers and I've even seen the adds for the 2-dot-oh on Amazon. I don't think I'm against them per se, as I own a PDA (Dell's Axim X30) and regularly use a sweet electronic bible suite.

What are the advantages for me? I can search any of seven translations quickly, compare results, view background material for each of the books in the Bible and follow a smorgasbord of devotionals and reading plans to help keep me In the Word. I can add an endless - limited only by the size of my SD card - amount of other Bible-related material: Maps, encyclopedia, etc.

So, as we go back to the original question, I am naturally on the side of the technoratti that Amazon is cultivating. The 2.0 lists for $359 (and even offers free Super Saver shipping). "Golly Beave, how do you think Dad's gonna pay for that?"

I know at least one person that has a Kindle and honestly, I can't recall if I've ever asked how they liked it. So all you Kindle owners out there - pipe up and let the world know what you think!

As for the article? If I had to guess, I'd say the subject, Sarah Lally Brown, and her husband, must not have children. Sarah talks about having three books going at one time and is into a variety of what I consider time-consuming activiities:
  • Vegetable gardening
  • Canning
  • Sewing
  • Sawing Logs
  • Tending chickens
The article makes a light-hearted pass at getting an objective opinion and Mrs. Brown comes off as very intelligent, capable and well-read. However, I'm not sure it succeeds. Please feel free to read it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Oh, one last thing, as an author, I find the picture of Mrs. Brown enchanting. Her face is tremendously interesting and I envision a character in one of my novels having one just like it.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ScribeFire - part 2

Right. Here we are, back at ScribeFire and looking to provide some more feedback on features and quality. Yesterday, I did the test run and after having a few false starts on the publishing side, figured out that I needed a quick refresh to view the blog entries I set up with the wizard (not this guy), I was off and publishing. Although I can't publish to both of my blogs simultaneously, I can select them one at a time and publish the same content to both - very nice.

  • On the bulleted-list thing, well, you can see for yourself
  • Clicking on the little down-arrow at the end of the formatting bar reveals two list options:
  1. Ordered lists
  2. Unordered lists
The ordered list option creates the numbered list and the unordered list creates a bulleted-list. I'm on it!

What about content, you might ask? Here's a video of a (reportedly) 6-year old kid playing the beautiful game. Although many of the clips are obviously sped up, he still has sick skills:

Yeah, he's got skills but he needs to be taught that football (soccer) is a team game and he needs to learn how to pass. Ball hog!

Clicking on the handy 'YouTube" button brings up a window where you can type in a search string and the window displays the videos that meet your search criteria. Select the one you want and quicker than this guy can say, "Bam!" you've embedded a video clip.

Inserting an image was somewhat more problematic. While ScribeFire lets me manipulate images from several locations, I can't understand the upload via API or FTP options when I just want to paste an image into a post. Before all the web meisters jump on board, I know what FTP is - use it all the time - I just can't figure out how to apply it in this instance. ScribeFire kept trying to sign me into Picasa Web albums with my Google account.- annoying.

In summary, at the end of two days of admittedly limited experimentation, I would rate ScribeFire 4 out of 5 stars. It's easy to set up, easy to use, and offers a slew of great features. The only knock at this point is the sticky image wicket.

Happy blogging.


p.s. One more thing, I can't see anywhere to put my tags in for Live Journal. make that 3.75 stars :-)

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blogging tools; useful?

This is just a quick entry to check out the new ScribeFire blogging add-on that I installed to Firefox this morning. I've messed around with a couple of different Live Journal blogging tools but have never found much use for them. Hopefully, I can put ScribeFire through its paces and post a reasonable performance account/recommendation so that my fellow bloggers will get something useful out of this.

As this is my first entry, I'll lay out some environmental notes:

I'm typing this entry in the ScribeFire window that opens a variety of ways:

 - F8
 - Tools menu (select ScribeFire)
 - Small ScribeFire icon in the bottom right-hand corner of Firefox

The interface is a relatively clean WYSIWYG editor although I'm not seeing a spell checker right off the bat . Also, for bulleted-lists, there's not an icon on the formatting bar. This is a bummer because I like bulleted-lists.

I've also tried to put publishing links to both my Live Journal blog and my, er, Blogger blog in an effort to have ScribeFire publish entries to both blogs simultaneously. I'll let you know how that works out later.

The insert link function seems to work fairly seamlessly, defaulting to the active page in the browser, if you select the URL and then <ctrl-c>. There's also a neat little special character button that pops up another toolbar with a host of, you guessed it, special characters to click and insert. What? No Euro character/symbol? I guess I'll have to get on them about that - the Euro has been out for awhile now, hasn't it?

There's also a right-click function in the WYSIWYG window that's kind of nice. What ho! There's a spell-check thingy in the right-click menu; just right-click on the red-dotted, underlined word. The spell-checker offers some canned corrections or you can just add your word to the custom dictionary. Nice.

That's about all I have time for now; if you're reading this at Live Journal or Blogger, I guess it works!


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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Greetings to the big 'G'

Nothing tremendous here, just a hi, hello to anyone who happens by. I am maintaining the original Stream of Consciousness at Live Journal until such time as I can determine a) How to successfully export all posts from LJ to here and b) If it is worth my time and effort to do so. Frankly, the only reason I am here is so that I could post to a member's blog over at CFRB. That awesome group of folks is currently touring/reviewing Seabird, by Sherry Thompson - a fabulous book that you simply MUST read. For now, please link over to the original Stream of Consciousness and follow the adventures of Xanthorpe there. Perhaps he will move here eventually; perhaps not. In either case, you will be entertained or, at the very least, some thoughts will be provoked. Thanks for stopping by Stream II. X