Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Church or a Country Club.......

I was surfing my television channels the other day when I came upon a program featuring a sermon by the great Baptist preacher, Dr. Charles Stanley, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia. 

Dr. Stanley is a no-nonsense preacher who sticks to scripture in his sermons and relates that scripture to today's world.  I like that very much.

Part of his sermon dealt with how one should handle the all too common problem of their church becoming liberal---moving away from scripture and the tenets of Christianity in favor of the popular views of today's world.

Jesus said we must all build "on Rock".  He said the wind will blow and the rain will fall, and if we are built on sand---or anything other than solid Rock, our structure will fall.  That is just as true of the church as it is in our own personal lives.

He likened the liberal-leaning church to a country club, where it has become primarily a social organization.  Wow---did that ever hit home!

Cindy and I moved from a church recently where our large Sunday school class had become mostly a group of clubbers.  The lessons, which at one time were usually scriptural in nature, had devolved into a joke---"Religious Beliefs of the American Indian", "Yoga" (bring your own mat), "Muslim Beliefs", "Going Green", "Snake Handling", "The Joys of Grandparenting", and the beat goes on...and on.  Not much is said these days about Jesus or scripture.

Then there are the parties.  Oh, the parties.  Nothing wrong with a party, of course, but when you dedicate about five Sundays a year to socializing at the expense of building faith, you have further diluted the faith.

Keep in mind that most mainline Protestant churches in the United States have lost membership steadily over the past 40 years.  Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, etc have all lost membership---even as the population of the nation grows steadily.

There are reasons for this.  A church that tries to satisfy the trends of the day is not built on Rock.  And it will fall.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weddings.......and Funerals

Honestly, I don't know which is worse.

My first reaction is that weddings are (at least, should be) joyous occasions; and funerals are sad events.

After what these tired old eyes have seen over the years, I now see both weddings and funerals as downers.

In both, you have jealousies, pride, control issues, hurt feelings over the proper "pecking order" of attendees, etc, etc.

At  both, things of a hurtful nature are said that cannot be taken back. 

At both, large sums of money are often spent because of guilt or expectations of others.

When Cindy and I were planning on being married, we discussed where we should be married, when, whom to invite, etc.  After much discussion, we decided there would be too many hurt feelings over one petty thing or another.  Trying to please everyone was not gonna work---and all we really wanted was to be married.  We opted for a $25 wedding at the county courthose with no one else in attendance but the court judge.  We wouldn't trade that for the world.

And when we check out of this life, we will be cremated and our ashes buried together.   Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  An inexpensive memorial service would be nice if the relatives wish.  It's up to them.

What do you think?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Done To You.......

A while back I asked the question "What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?" 

Today, I pose the question "What is the meanest/worst/rudest thing anyone has ever done to you?

For me, I suppose it was those times I was cheated by someone I trusted.

How did you deal with it?  Were you able to completely put the incident in your past?  Were you truly able to forgive?  Did you learn from the incident and use that knowledge to help you in your future dealings with people?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Knoxville to Host Heart Disease Festival.......

It has been announced in the Knoxville News-Sentinel that Knoxville has been chosen to host the first annual Heart Disease Festival.  As reported by News-Sentinel reporter Kevin Saylor, the event will take place Saturday, June 23, 2012.

Knoxville already hosts the International Biscuit Festival and the Bacon Fest. 

The Heart Disease Festival will focus on the positive aspects of Heart Disease---like the joys of overeating and the great taste of junk food.  Festival organizers say that the media is biased in reporting only the negative side of heart disease, like it being the leading cause of death in the United States.

Festival officials have planned an overeating contest, and a surgeon will perform a bypass procedure onstage.  There will also be musical acts by Meat Loaf and The Strokes.

There will also be a record number of portable toilets on hand.  A good time should be had by all.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chocolate Candy Bars-------Oh Yeah, Babe.......

The first chocolate bar for widespread consumption was molded by Fry's Chocolate Factory in Bristol, England in 1847.  They didn't know what they were starting, but I certainly am grateful.

Things got even more wonderful in 1900, when the Hershey Company created the first wrapped chocolate bar---a product they still produce to this day.

Then, during the period 1900---1950, there were thousands of different candy bars being made.  The price for these delightful indulgences remained stable at 10 cents from 1900 until the late 1960s, except for the Depression years, when the price dropped to 5 cents.

Here are my favorites:

--- Hershey's .....Simple, creamy milk chocolate

--- Snickers .....Peanut butter flavored nougat with caramel

--- 3 Musketeers .....Light fluffy nougat and chocolate

--- Baby Ruth .....Chewy fudge nougat, chocolate and peanuts

--- Almond Joy .....Coconut filling, almonds and milk chocolate

--- Mounds .....(sister product of Almond Joy) coconut and dark chocolate

--- Butterfinger .....Peanut butter and chocolate

--- Kit Kat .....Crunchy cream-filled wafer and chocolate

--- Milky Way .....Chewy caramel with nougat and milk chocolate

--- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup .....Rich peanut butter with rich milk chocolate (AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Goes great with cold milk!)

--- M and Ms .....Multi-colored candy shells filled with a variety of fillings---milk chocolate, dark chocolate, crisped rice, mint chocolate, peanuts, almonds, orange chocolate, coconut, pretzel, wild cherry and peanut butter

What are your favorites?  Why?

Let's eat!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Neighbors.......

This is one of those posts whose idea has been swimming around in my head for a couple of months; but until now I couldn't pull the trigger on it.  The subject has been gnawin' at me.  It is something that should be said.  Oh, don't get me wrong---it's not like the Gettysburg Address or the Declaration of Independence---but it is one of those existential things we all deal with in one way or another but seldom comment on.

The subject is neighbors. 
Won't You Be.......My Neighbor?
When we moved in to this neighborhood in early May, we heard from the previous home owners how wonderful the neighbors are on our street.  So, it was with some surprise that only one couple introduced themselves to us.

And the funny thing about that is the fact that they spent an hour in our living room that day feeding us gossip (some pretty vicious stuff) about the other neighbors.  Cindy and I didn't like that.  And, I finally had to end the visit when it became apparent that they had no plans to leave.  Afterward, I asked Cindy if she would be comfortable having a close relationship with them.  Like me, she said "no".  I mean, after all.......if they gossip about everyone else, they would also gossip about us.  'Nuff said.

There is another couple who live very close.  We wave to them when we see them outside.  We heard that they had been robbed shortly before we moved in.  The story is that two men came down the street, saw that their garage door was left open, and entered the open garage and carried off some valuables that were stored in the garage. 

Now, to me, the obvious solution to this is to keep one's garage door closed when one is not in the garage.  But not these folks.  No, they keep their garage door open all day long.  And last night, it stayed open all night.  Don't you think you would be a little more careful if you had just been robbed?  Just askin'.

Then, there are the two young couples with children who live nearby.  I haven't met them, but they seem nice when we see each other outside.  What bothers the hell outta' me is that their kids---who appear to be about 6 years old---play in the street.  I shudder when cars whiz past them.  I don't get it.  I mean, all these homes have nice back yards.......why not use the back yard to play in and avoid the possibility of little Jennie and Timmie being run over in the street?  Like I say, I don't get it.

Then, there is the couple next door who I have never seen.  They are strict loners (I don't have a problem with that!).  But it is funny that we have lived here five months now and the only times we have seen them is when they drive in and out of their garage. 

My, how times have changed.  When I was growing up, all the neighbors knew and respected each other. 

I suppose much of the disconnect these days comes from the reign of Ipods, Droids, texting, instant internet connections, Playstations, XBoxes, etc, etc.  Neighbors don't need each other very much in 2011.

And, with so much less interraction between neighbors, there is a resultant diminishing of interpersonal skills.  I think folks find it difficult to talk to each other in a meaningful way.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Dead Battery, A Haircut, A Mexican Dinner and a Happy Wife.......

Cindy Dreads Doctor Appointments
Because I am the paragon of husbandhood and an all around good guy, I volunteered to drive wifey to her doctor's appointment this morning at 8:00.  There was to be blood testing, lots of poking and prodding and such; and these sessions have proven over the years to be unpleasant and worrisome for my better half.  Thus, to somewhat lighten the load, I stepped in to do the driving.
Yup---It's Dead, All Right
When I started the car to drive her to the doc, I noticed a funny sound from the starter.  But, the engine started up, and I quickly forgot the strange noise.  Then, on the way to the clinic, we both noticed a weird, unidentifiable sound.  We couldn't tell if the noise was coming from our car's motor---and besides, it disappeared after a few seconds, so I thought no more about it.

When Cindy emerged from the clinic, she was all aglow from the news her doctor had given her---nice bloodwork, and a complete bill of good health.  She was elated.
A Happy Camper After a Good Check-Up
I turned the key in the ignition to return home.  There was a loud sound that shot from the engine---roughly like a ratcheting noise---that was unmistakably the sound of a dead battery.  Sigh.  We weren't going anywhere.

And to top it off, the car's alarm system took on a life of its own and began to HONK HONK HONK HONK uncontrollably.  This was especially maddening because the doctor and staff and patients of the clinic were getting PO'd at the clamorous alarm system right outside the office. 

AAA Arrived Very Quickly
I called AAA road service and within 30 minutes I had a new battery.  Whew.  The AAA guy told me batteries usually last 3 years---and mine was a little older than that.  OK---problem solved.

Then Cindy decided she wanted to celebrate her good health with a Mexican lunch.  So off we went to get her a chile relleno with taco and refried beans.  Aaahhhhh...nothing like a happy wife, I always say.
A Good Medical Check-Up Should Be Celebrated With.....Lots Of Mexican Food!

Next up, we went to get my hair cut.  After all, no less an authority than my mom (whom we visited over the weekend) told me it needed a trimmin'.  Suzie at SportClips does my hair these days, and she accomplished the job in short order. 

Then, we headed home, where it was siesta time following our Mexican repast.  It was only noon, but it was already a good day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crush, Infatuation, Love.......

I suppose we have all experienced various attractions to others in our lives.  Remember when you were young and you felt a strong attachment to someone?  When I was young, that kind of feeling was called a "crush" ---a temporary endearment to another.  I guess the object of my first crush was my second grade teacher.  After that, there were any number of female classmates who I felt a crush for over the years.

As I matured into adulthood, I found occasions when an attraction would develop with a woman.  This, to me, was like a crush but more intense.  The dictionary calls this an "infatuation" ---a "foolish, unreasoning or extravagant passion or attraction".  An infatuation can make one feel pretty helpless, because it is practically impossible to control and can lead to some bad endings.

"Love" is defined as "an intense feeling of deep affection".  This, to me, is a mature feeling that has the connotation of permanence.  Of course, a relationship that features true love is rather difficult to attain, but is very fulfilling and rewarding when accomplished.

Sometimes---especially when we are young---we confuse infatuation with true love.  This is a highly confusing state, and often leads to deep confusion and frustration.

Have you ever had a crush on someone?  Have you ever been infatuated?  Have you ever been in a permanent love relationship?  Do you have any thoughts on these feelings?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Candy Corn Crop is Decimated By Storms.......

Candy Corn After Removal From the Cob
The big news around here is the revelation that the constant rainstorms, floods, hail storms and heat we have experienced over the past few months have ruined one of east Tennessee's biggest agricultural crops:  candy corn.

As reported in the Knoxville News-Sentinel by reporter Kevin Saylor, this important crop is a mainstay of this region's autumn economy, and its destruction is a terrible blow to   employment and farm income.  Severe heat has truly wreaked havoc, for the corn has a high sugar content and cannot survive in hot fields on the cob because the crop simply melts.

Saylor reports that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization is warning of severe shortages of the crop.  This is especially devastating as we near Halloween.

The U. N. also warns that the United States could be threatened as the leading diabetes nation because of this crop shortage.

Saylor reports that trick-or-treaters are aleady making plans to compensate for the shortage of candy corn by planning on eating more Three Musketeers bars, M & Ms and SweetTarts to compensate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Deanna Durbin.......

I hope it's not just me, but I have so much admiration for those few, rare beings who actually do live their lives exactly the way they wish, completely disregarding the expectations of others. 
Deanna Durbin
In an age where we routinely see people stay too long in their professions to the point where they begin to become an embarrassment, it is so refreshing to witness the rare individual who can live life on her/his own terms.

In the 1930s and 40s, there was an actress/singer named Deanna Durbin (b 1921....still living).  At the age of 15, she first appeared with Judy Garland in Every Sunday.  Signing with Universal Studios, she won the Academy Juvenile Award in 1938.  She is credited with saving Universal Studios from bankruptcy.  In 1945 and 1947, Durbin was the top salaried woman in the United States.

Her talent and popularity were enormous.   Her fan club was the largest in existence during the 1940s.

But, in 1949, at the age of 28, she abruptly retired from public life.  And, although she continued to be offered highly lucrative roles and engagements, she remained true to herself and went on to live a private life, free from interviews and appearances.

She and her husband, Charles David, moved to France and lived a quiet life.  In 1999, Charles died.  And the great Deanna Durbin remains in their home, true to herself, and an example to us all.

I love you, Deanna.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Day Has Begun.......

It happens most mornings.  I begin to stir from sleep around 5ish.  The room is dark and cool.  The bed feels gooood.  I change positions, bringing the pillows closer to me.  I thrust one between my legs.  The coolness of the bed linens feels wonderful.

I can't go back to sleep, no matter how hard I try.  My consciousness begins to talk to me.  Things I need to do that day....worries over this or that....unrelated, semi-conscious concerns.  I seem to have no control over my thoughts.

I force myself to arise.  My second stop is the coffee pot.  Soon, my thoughts and consciousness will once again be under my control.  Another day has begun.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Star-Spangled Banner...National Anthem History

In September of 1814, British troops invaded at Washington, DC and burned the Capitol, Treasury, president's mansion and other government buildings.  During their wihdrawal, they took captive an elderly physician named William Beanes.  Dr. Beanes was a personal friend of a Maryland attorney named Francis Scott Key.

Key (1779---1843) was commissioned to help secure the release of Dr. Beanes, who was being held aboard a British naval vessel.  Under a flag of truce, Key sailed to the British fleet.  Once aboard, his request to release the prisoner was granted.

But before they were allowed to return to the mainland, Key and Dr. Beanes were forced to stay aboard the vessel as the British fleet prepared to bombard Fort McHenry as a prelude to an invasion of Baltimore.

All during the long night of September 13 and 14, Key watched helplessly as the mighty British navy poured hundreds of cannon shot upon the fort.  And all night long, Key wondered if the huge American flag that flew atop the fort would still be there in the morning, signifying that the fort had held.

By dawn's early light, he had his answer---the flag was still there.  The British attack had been repulsed. 

On the evening of September 16, Key composed a poem about the experience.  The next day, the poem was printed on a handbill in Baltimore and titled "The Defence of Fort McHenry".  A few weeks later, he changed the title to "The Star Spangled Banner", and set the tune "To Anachreon in Heaven", a well known tune of the day. 

On October 19, 1814, the song was first performed at the Baltimore theatre.

For many years, it was one of a number of popular patriotic songs.  It gained in popularity during the Civil War, when Union troops sang it often; and became even more popular in following decades.

In 1895, army regulations required that the song be played at the raising and lowering of colors at the nation's military bases.  In 1931, Congress officially adopted the song as the national anthem.

Now, we all know the first verse of the anthem, because we hear it repeatedly at events like athletic contests.  But, the song has four verses---the last of which is the most important in that it ties the entire theme of the poem together and describes what Key thought we stand for as a nation.

I bring this up today because, as we remember the events of 9-11-01, it seems to me that this verse and this song are so meaningful.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
       Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
       Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:  "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We are still digging out after our move.  Yesterday, Cindy unpacked a little book I had forgotten about---"Meditations For Men Who Do Too Much" by Jonathon Lazear.

There are many chestnuts of wisdom in this book---one for every day of the year.  My eyes focused on Ben Franklin's words for January 13--- "Wealth is not his who has it, but his who enjoys it".

Hmmm.......that got me to thinkin'.  My often do we see the individual who is all about acquisition, ownership, and public display of wealth?  It's a pretty sad commentary on the man who is lost, not really knowing what to do with prosperity.

Wealth for the sake of wealth is a bankrupt notion.

The final paragraph on January 13 is this:

"I will look to the people in my life who give me the wealth of kindness and understanding rather than to the things I've acquired over the time I spent filling my life with possessions."

I like that.  Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Coins, Like People, Can Be Cast Aside-------and Redeemed.......

It all started about ten years ago when I was in Richmond, VA, on a weekend business trip. On Saturday morning I decided that my recent weight gain would have to be addressed, and I vowed to begin walking briskly before work on a daily basis to boost my activity level as I dieted.

As I strode out of the motel lobby and into the parking lot, I noticed a small, shiny object against the curb. Close inspection revealed that it was a dime that someone had lost.

Without thinking, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I didn't think about that coin again until I returned to my room and felt the small disk next to my room key in my pocket.

I looked at it closely. It must have been on the street a very short time, I reasoned. The surface was smooth, unworn by the elements. The date was recent. I began to wonder how the little coin had been lost. Perhaps someone had a hole in his pocket. Perhaps someone pulled something from her pocket and the coin happened to tumble out inadvertently.

I wondered what stories that little coin could tell. Who had lost it? To whom had it belonged over the months between its birth at the U.S. Mint and now?

Oddly, those questions seemed to stay with me all day. That night, I decided to walk once again, this time in the glow of a Virginia full moon.

Now, if you have ever walked briskly on a daily basis, you know that it can be a downright boring chore. I thought that I would actively look for coins on the sidewalk and in the parking lots that made up my walking track. Perhaps that activity would aid in my battle against the boredom of walking.

Of course, I didn't expect to actually find anything at night, but there was a good moonglow that could reflect against metal, so I was hopeful.

Yes! Fifteen minutes into my trek, I spotted a glimmer in the gloaming---a penny!

From that day to this, I have walked on a daily basis, and I have broken the drudgery of my walks by searching for coins. Over time, I have begun to see these coins as "lost souls" begging for a home. I have found them in parking lots, on sidewalks, in streets and in the most unimaginable places.

The Orphanage
If you look for them, they are there, silently pleading to be found and given a good home.

Most of the coins are, of course, pennies. Perhaps some folks think a penny has no real value and isn't even worth the energy required to bend down and pick it up. But there are also nickels, dimes and quarters lying around, waiting to be rescued.

Over the years, I have come to refer to these coins as "orphans". I keep them in a special bank called, of course, "the orphanage". Many of the orphans are pathetic in their physical appearance---worn and weathered, thinned by the elements, perhaps half of their original thickness. Many are so worn that you cannot read the date or any of the inscriptions on them. Some look to be brand new, shiny and proud.

Inside the Orphanage
My orphans come from probably half the states in the contiguous United States where I have traveled. My wife, Cindy, has also caught the bug, and she avidly searches for our lost souls when she travels with me.

Our favorite place to search is the French Quarter in New Orleans. Look closely under the benches at Jackson Square. Keep your eyes on the ground on Bourbon Street. Where you find one coin, your chance of finding another nearby is excellent. Some days you will find none. Other days will yield multiple finds.

Of course, we can never spend our orphans. They are special, just like people who are lost and then miraculously found. And, like people, the true value of each of our orphans is the same, whether it is a quarter or a penny. Some are worth a worn out penny. Some are worth 25 times that much.

But, like people, they are all lost souls, kindred spirits, now found, in a warm, safe place. They, like human beings, have had the chance of the miracle of being saved. And they will never again experience the indignity of having no respect, of being lost and useless in a wealthy society.

Posted by Clint Sept 4, 2011

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

One of Those Weeks.......

Oh, it started out promising enough.  I had planned to exercise at my workout facility on Monday, but I developed a nasal discharge of biblical proportions around mid morning.  Not good.  And totally unexpected.  Hmmm.  Well, maybe I better not go today and just stay calm and see what develops, I thought....

As the flow continued unabated, I realized I was probably getting a cold.  So, up to the pharmacy for some sudafed to dry me out.  I have discovered that when I develop a post nasal drip I can get sicker from the stuff going into my stomach, so it is important to stop it, if possible.

Then, as if I weren't miserable enough, my back decided to "go out".  These maladies occur in groupings of two and three at a time.  I can't explain it.  I've been healthy for a long time and now both of these thingies hit me at once. 

So by Tuesday, I can barely move because of that problem disc in my back and my head is throbbing because of the sudafed and my nose still has a slight run. 

Of course, Cindy is an angel and was hovering around me with her chicken noodle soup and trying to wait on me.  Problem is, when I feel that bad I don't want any attention at all.
Click To Enlarge
Yesterday afternoon, I began feeling a little better.  Both my back and my nose were improving.  I hobbled out to our rear deck and looked up.  There it was---the most incredible cloud with sunburst I have ever seen.  I take it as a sign that I'm gonna be fine!