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Showing posts from 2010

The Kepler Dynasty

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I need your help with something. I don’t understand the concept of royalty. Oh, I fully comprehend how a family would rise up to rule over their friends and neighbors – offering a safe haven back when defense and conquest were ugly realities of life.

I’ve seen all the movies with good kings (Robin Hood) and bad kings (Braveheart). It’s easy to understand how dynasties rose and fell in centuries gone by. I just don’t see the need for royalty in this 21st century.

Why can’t my family be a 21st century dynasty? I could be King Reece...
Take Prince William, for instance. You remember Prince William don’t you? He’s the eldest son of Princess Diana, of fame for a number of reasons, not the least of which was her fiery death in a tunnel in Paris; and Prince Charles, famous primarily for his royal divorce and his extremely large honker.

I see where Prince William is getting married. And the whole world is glued to their sets to see what church they will select, and what flavor their ca…

Heart to Heart

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Remember eating those little candy hearts on Valentine’s Day? You know… the ones with cute sayings stamped on them. Perhaps you even gave a little candy heart with just the right saying to that special someone. I’m sure there are couples happily married today all because of a little candy heart.

When I was a teenager the church I attended sent out letters to its members with one of those little hearts glued to it. I don’t recall the nature of the letter, but what I do remember is that the machines at the post office crushed the candy hearts. So when you opened your letter from the church you got a lap full of candy dust. When teased about it the church staff just grinned in embarrassment.

I remembered the testimony of that little old lady…
But let me tell you something else I remember about the candy-heart-letter story. There was a little old lady that attended the church whose letter must have missed the posting machine or something, because her heart wasn’t crushed... at leas…

The Flying Monkey Movie

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It’s the baby boomer generation that finally changed the way we look at things. Before, if a man got old and forgetful they laughed at him and said he had “Old Timer’s Disease”. Now, with sympathy and respect, that forgetful gentleman is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

I remember when, if a man just ate and ate and ate, and then went out behind the shed and stuck his finger down his throat to throw up, he was laughingly judged a glutton. Now that man (although it’s more often a teenage girl) is diagnosed with Anorexia, and offered treatment by medical science.

We snickered when we heard that Gomer Pyle was married to Rock Hudson...
But alas, not all changes are for the better.

When I was a child there were two men who lived together down the street. They dressed kind of funny, and even as a young boy I recognized that their home was expensively, if not oddly decorated. And we laughed about these men being “married” to each other. And we snickered when we heard that Gomer …

An Angel Gets His Wings

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The Movie
If your holiday traditions are like mine the time of year has come to watch that classic of all Christmas classics. I’m talking about the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. But there’s one scene in that movie that hits so close to home it’s scary - and I don’t mean funny-scary, I mean petrifying-scary.

The Scene
The scene that brings me to the brink of nightmare is not really the scene itself, but the memory it evokes. The scene is when George Bailey’s brother, Harry, sled out of control, ends up in the water. Of course, George saves Harry, but in the alternate world of Clarence the Angel, Harry sleds his way to a watery grave.

The Memory
A few years before my wife Stephanie and I met, I was married to someone else, and had two step-children, a girl named Amy and a boy named Casey. I well remember one year when we were in Colorado for Christmas with Amy and Casey’s grandparents. It was Christmas morning and Casey had found a brand new, bright red plastic snow sled under the t…

Uncle Dick and His Ship

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When a man grows old and dies, his legacy – or at least the memory of his life – passes to his sons, and then to his son’s sons. Of course, if he doesn’t have sons it passes to his daughters. But if a man has no sons or daughters, will he be forgotten?

I remember meeting Uncle Dick only once in my life, or maybe twice. He was born on 11/11/11 and died in February 1980. And, while my father and I drove to San Diego for his funeral, we pulled into town just as it was taking place, and so we missed it. Uncle Dick is buried in a beautiful cemetery out on Point Loma.

This truly remarkable feat of seamanship was the only time in recorded naval history that such an event occurred...

But it is Uncle Dick’s death that really defines his legacy, or – not really his death, but more so how he died. In 1955 Navy Captain Richard Purdy, a WWII combat veteran, was the skipper of the USS Marion County (LST-975) when he and his ship were ordered to participate in an experiment code-named “Operati…

Losing the Faith

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The worst part about growing up is losing that faith born of wide-eyed innocence. Tell a kid a story and he takes it as the gospel. In fact, a small boy will believe pretty much anything he’s told. But as he grows a little older he grows a little wiser. And after he’s been the butt of a few jokes he learns not to be so quick to take the bait.

But if, like me, the kid is very fortunate he gets to grow up in a home where he’s only told the truth, and so the disappointments are few… at least as long as he doesn’t leave the house!

But in reality, one of the biggest disappointments of my childhood happened in my very own home – right in the middle of the living room, on a summertime Saturday night.

Being such a naïve and sheltered little guy it took me longer than it should have to realize it...
It was the early 60s and every Saturday night without fail my brother and I would join dad in front of the TV set to watch our favorite show – Championship Wrestling! Championship Wrestling was a…

Crime of the Decade

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Every decade or so I am presented with the opportunity to commit a crime for personal gain. Am I incredibly honest, incredibly naïve, or just the average guy that keeps company with crooks?

The 80s
In the early 80s I was working in construction, building inexpensive houses that may or may not still be standing today - I would fear for my safety to go back into those neighborhoods to see.

The builder to whom I was employed was also into real estate investments, buying houses to rent out and depreciate for a tax shelter and a hefty profit. He had a standing offer – anyone who would buy a house on an FHA loan and then sign it over to him after six months would make $500 for their efforts.

I'm batting three for three in the "Kickbacks for Christians" program...

See, back in those days FHA backed loans could be signed over to a new owner without that new owner having to “qualify” for that loan. The term was “simple assumption”, and because of it many people owned houses who …

Pollyanna and the Box Turtle

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Back in the 60s every town big enough to have a TV station had characters famous for their afternoon childrens shows. The shows were locally produced and usually starred either a clown or a guy in a Halloween costume… with a clown for a sidekick. I’m sure they all went to yearly conventions where they wore their outfits and had the world’s weirdest party.

If you’re close to my age and you grew up in Oklahoma City then you probably remember The Foreman Scotty Show. Scotty wore white denim cowboy clothes topped off with a white hat (because he was a good guy). Kids would visit the studio to sit on a bench and have this guy stick a microphone in their face just long enough to shout their names. If it was your birthday you got to sit on a wooden horse with other kids who were also celebrating their birthday. I watched the show just hoping to see a kid fall off the horse.

I’m probably the only guy you know that actually had his pet box turtle run away from home...
Every self respecting …

Infidels in the Cross Hairs?

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I believe there are two kinds of people in this world; people who divide people into two kinds of people and people who don't. It makes me wonder which kind I am (hint - read the first 10 words again).

Of late we have been told that there are two kinds of Muslims, those who follow a radical agenda and those who embrace a vision of peaceful co-existance.

Now I don't know if this is true or not, and with so many talking heads betraying their own vanity on the idiot box, it's hard to know what to believe, but some say the Koran demands that true believers kill all infidels. And, my fellow Christian brothers, you and I would be those infidels in the cross-hairs.

I now confess that I believe while there are many kinds of Muslims - there's really only onekind of Muslim...

But of course, there are just as many who proclaim that a true believer of the Koran seeks to extend a hand of friendship to all men, in hopes that they might win some to their cause. Sounds oddly similar …

Lorem Ipsum

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In the publishing and graphic design business there comes an occasion when someone wants to display the graphic design style of a document or visual presentation. But if they present that product with actual words, then one would have a tendency to be distracted by what those words say, and not pay attention to the graphic design style they are supposed to be seeing.

So the language Lorem Ipsum was developed.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.
Lorem Ipsum is a nonsensical bunch of words that appear to be Latin, but as any Latin speaking guy would tell you, aren’t really Latin. These phony words just sit there pretending to be real words, but saying nothing. Of course, the nonsense words are eventually replaced with real words before the document is actually published.

What if that documen…

No Buts About It

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“He Claims to be Christian – but…”

I’m not sure what his name is, where he comes from or what values he holds dear to his heart, but I know what people say about him. They say, “He claims to be a Christian – but…!” The reason I know this is because I heard it said yet again a few days ago.

Oh, I’ve heard it before, many times… and so have you. Of course it’s not about the same person, but it’s about some person. Somebody sees somebody behaving in an unsavory manner or hears him speaking words considered unacceptable to “decent” folk… or perhaps he’s just downright living in open sin. And then you hear it… “He claims to be a Christian – but…!”

Perhaps you’ve even heard it coming out of your own mouth, as have I.

We all know what it takes to become a Christian, and we all know what it takes to remain a Christian. The problem is – what we all know… is different for each of us. We apply our standards of living - that unique combination of the experiences of our past, the sermons we’ve …

Chicago Dogs

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I find myself in the awkward position of owing an apology to an entire city. See, I had to visit the city of Chicago several years ago to install a computer network for a client. Actually I was in a sleepy bedroom community several miles west of Chicago proper, but as with most metro areas, you don’t really notice when you have passed from one hamlet to another… except for maybe the color of the street signs – the street “name” signs I mean. The stop signs are all red just like back home.

But back to the apology – When you’re on the road alone there’s nothing to do from quitting time to starting time, at least without getting yourself into trouble. So I decided to drive into the “city”. Having never been to Chicago all I had to go by was a map, so I plotted a route and headed in.

Little did I know that I was about to drive through the worst part of the city… in fact, the worst part of the Country – an area known as “The Projects”
My plans were to stay on the interstate until a cer…

Three Old Men

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A few weeks ago I wrote a story about my love of treasure hunting. It was a tongue-in-cheek piece where the treasure was a wrench lying in the road. Of course, the story was really about the treasure I found when I met the Lord Jesus Christ. You may remember it. It had a picture of a treasure map titled “Treasure Map”.

The funny thing about that story is – it has received more anonymous visitors from all across the world than any of the 70 or so other stories I have posted. See, I have this tracking program that tells me about my readers – not who they are of course, but where they are from and how much time they spend at my website.

I have watched enough episodes of “Antiques Roadshow” to know how cool it would be to find something of real value for a mere buck or two at a rummage sale...
The Treasure Hunter story has had hits from London to Moscow, from Athens to Vitry-sur-seine, from Bergen to Edmondton, from Swansea to Tripoli… every single one of them with the term “treasure …

A New Declaration

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Memorial Day weekend causes most of us to pause for at least a few moments to remember and honor those who fought to provide us our freedom, and indeed those who continue to stand vigil for that freedom to endure. But what exactly is it those who fought and died actually secured for us? And how have we preserved what they provided us?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – those familiar words from that awesome and precious document sum up the American experience. And yet, that document, and indeed the seemingly enduring truths spoken therein; that manuscript for which so many gave their lives… has been rewritten! Rewritten? Yes it has - at least in the hearts and minds of many.

...where along the way did the “right to pursue happiness” become the “right to happiness”?
Do you remember Don Corleone, the Godfather? He summed up the spirit of America in one short statement. The scene was a meeting with a man who wanted to corner the cocaine market. The Godfather refused to be…

Relative Prosperity

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You may be familiar with a teaching prevalent in charismatic churches known as the “prosperity message”. I have referred to it in previous writings as the Name it and Claim It, the Blab It and Grab It, and my all time favorite, the Call It and Haul It message. The prosperity message basically teaches that God’s will is for you to be prosperous and not poverty stricken. Purveyors of this doctrine find ample scriptural basis to support their contention that we have been redeemed from the “curse” of poverty, and God wants the best for his children.

The image of “prosperity” looks vastly different from one continent to another… sometimes even from one part of town to another...
Sounds cool, huh! And yet this casts an awkward shadow for those who serve God by a vow of poverty. Far be it from me to even speculate, much less opinionate on the discrepancies of these two mindsets. And yet, even a smidgen of pondering brings the realization that the image of “prosperity” looks vastly diffe…

Fear and Atmosphere

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My brother used to have a funny illustration he offered when somebody jokingly threatened him with bodily harm, as guys often do. He would boldly declare, “There’s nothing between us but fear and atmosphere!” Then he would make a grand and animated sucking gesture, as if to draw in all the air between him and his antagonist. What followed next was the joke’s grand finale’ - “Now there’s just fear!” Sometimes I will double up my fist and threaten him with a big ole' pop-knot just to see him do his grand sucking gesture.

When you visit a far away state and people hear you are from Oklahoma, they always say the same thing, “How can you live there with all those tornadoes?”
But as spring approaches, the phrase “Fear and Atmosphere” is something with which Oklahomans are all too familiar. Right down the middle of America is a pathway known as Tornado Alley. It starts in Texas and runs up though the entire Midwest, spreading wider as it goes. And with Oklahoma at ground zero, we …

SPOILER ALERT!

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YESTERDAY
When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma City we had three TV channels from which to select our evening viewing entertainment. That is, unless you count the educational channel, which I didn’t. So we would anxiously await the Sunday newspaper to retrieve the weekly TV guide, where we could see with which movies the programming gods had graced us.

Fast forward to the mid seventies, and the announcement that OKC is getting it’s first UHF channel. Wow, a fourth channel. That’s a 33% increase in our viewing pleasure – a windfall by any standard! And who cared if an old, burned out radio personality with his evangelist hair-do was botching the news. Hey… that’s entertainment!

Then came cable TV with its superstations - packed with I Love Lucy reruns and regional sports programming. And suddenly we all knew the names and phone numbers of all the local bail bondsmen in Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas.

TODAY
But now… now we have not three stations but three providers from which to choo…

The Importance of Being Important

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I used to be a Very Important Person. It was something I had wanted for awhile… being an important person that is; and it felt good to be so important. But after a short time of being important I learned that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and what’s worse, there are certain hazards to being such an important person. If you have a desire to become an important person you may want to lend an ear for a moment. You’ll thank me later.

It was the year of the big San Francisco earthquake. No… not the 1906 earthquake – I was just a pup in 1906. I’m referring to the one in 1989.

There are certain hazards to being an important person. If you have a desire to become an important person you may want to lend an ear...
My daughter Rebekah turned five that year, and she spent her weekdays at a daycare that rented facilities from a local church (although not affiliated with the church). The operators of this daycare also ran a Christian school, albeit a rather small one. Well, because I came by e…

The Treasure Hunter

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NEWS FLASH: Treasure hunters believe they have found a legendary trove of 18th century jewels and gold coins worth $13 billion on Chile's Robinson Crusoe Island.

Since the beginning of time man has had an unquenchable yearning for a treasure hunt. To find something that doesn’t belong to anybody else and lay claim to it as your own brings a satisfaction beyond compare. Men have spent their entire lives in their quest for treasure, living on the go and sometimes dying in a strange and foreign land… usually just short of their fortune.

...as would any treasure hunter with an ounce of self respect, I’ve made a map, with an “X” where the treasure is located.
The tools of a treasure hunter vary, depending on the nature of the booty. A man in search of gold needs a claim and a sluice, a shovel and pick ax, or at least a pan and a strong back. A beachcomber racing the morning tide needs a metal detector if he wants to locate that sun worshiper’s mislaid watch and ring. A kid retriev…

An Athlete Extraordinaire

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Every once in a while there comes along an athlete extraordinaire. We’re talking about a Cy Young Award or a Heisman Trophy winner… perhaps even someone as dominating of his or her particular sport as a Tiger Woods. I believe I have discovered such an incredible athlete.

Now, I’m not really sure how the sports agent business works, but if this kid is really as good as I think he is I may go ahead and make a drastic career change, to represent this boy. Of course, I’m going to have to track him down first. Let me explain.

Tonight was my bi-weekly trip to take my stepson Jerry home to Broken Arrow after a weekend at his mom’s (and my) house. We were driving through Tulsa up the BA Expressway when I noticed a couple of kids playing in a creek bed that passed under the highway. Just as we approached the boys I saw one go into a perfect wind up, as if he were pitching a baseball. But it wasn’t a baseball… it was a rock!

Maybe I’ve discovered a future Cy Young or Heisman winner...
And f…

The Colossal Backfire

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One of things I always enjoyed about traveling to other states was the chance to play their lottery. See, before October 2005 Oklahoma didn’t have a lottery, which was fine with me. That only served to make it more fun to play when traveling. And I only spent pocket change anyway. It wasn’t like I was blowing the grocery or rent money on a downward spiral into financial ruin.

And while I occasionally bought a Powerball© or Mega-Millions© ticket, what I mostly enjoyed were the scratch-offs. Scratch-offs are little cards you buy for a buck or two (or more if you’re a real sucker) and scratch off a silver film of latex to reveal a dollar amount or a picture of a chicken or whatever the particular game offers, and see if you’re a winner. Of course, the real winners are the people who never buy these things in the first place… well, them and the ones that hit it big! I’d have to call them real winners too.

I knew the old adage about walking the walk – not just talking the talk. But…

Jesus Freaks

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A Facebook friend of mine named Dean posts songs to FB on a frequent basis. He posts songs he is fond of and songs that have a message… a wide genre, but always inspiring. Yesterday was Easter Sunday and he posted a YouTube clip of Keith Green singing a live performance of The Easter Song.

I was moved to tears as I listened again to a song we all remember from our past. But as I listened I recalled the day Keith died. In fact, that sad day in July 1982, when my morning alarm awoke me to the sounds of the local contemporary Christian music station, it was the news story of the hour. And it was a day of heaviness for us in the Christian community.

It appeared the world was changing in a way that would bring an end to the moral fiber of society as we had known it...
Today, as I listened again to one of the most remarkable Christian musicians to ever grace this planet, I was reminded of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s, 70s and early 80s. The United States, and indeed the world w…

Seasons

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The other day I was daydreaming about this year’s vacation – where to go – where to stay when we get there. I did some looking on-line at the town we’re considering for our get-away and saw the Four Seasons Inn. That got me to thinking… where did anyone come up with the idea that there are only four seasons?

OK… granted, there may be four seasons of weather. I say “may be” because if you’ve ever lived in Oklahoma you know that some years there may only be two or three seasons. How often do we see winter fast forward into summer with springtime just a faint memory from years past? And likewise summer to winter. Is this nature’s way of trying to cheat us out of seedtime and harvest… perhaps an attempt to thin the herd?

So you see - there aren’t just four seasons… probably closer to four thousand. And everybody has their favorite...
But how can you talk about seasons without paying tribute to the most popular seasons of all – sports seasons. The primary sports seasons are football se…

Proceed With Caution

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On April 1, 1998 the restaurant chain Burger King introduced the Whopper for Left-Handers. The primary difference in the Left-Handed Whopper and the regular Whopper was that it was designed for the condiments to drip out on the right side. Being left-handed, I couldn’t wait to try this new culinary delight. But then April 2nd rolled around, and everyone had a big laugh at the witty April Fools’ joke.

I was only kidding about wanting to try the Left-Handed Whopper. I’m really not that gullible. But seriously, several people did specifically request the new burger, as well as a good number of people actually ordering the “original” Whopper. Those are probably the same people responsible for the demise of New Coke, which itself was probably an April Fools’ joke gone terribly wrong.

When I heard laughter I got even more scared. The IRS is not only auditing me… they’re LAUGHING about it!
And just one year ago today - April 1, 2009 - Car and Driver Magazine announced on their website t…

The Infamous Eleven

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Maybe you’ve seen that church group from Topeka, Kansas that attends the funerals of soldiers slain in battle, and holds up signs with hateful sayings on them. Their favorite seems to be “God Hates Fags”. In fact, that’s even the name of their website.

Wikipedia reports that their church has 71 confirmed members, 60 of whom are related to the pastor. Apparently this pastor is the patriarch of a large family who all inherited his ‘hate’ gene, and blindly follow him in his folly. And a church packed full with the members of one confused and demented family is fairly easy to understand and dismiss.

A church packed full with the members of one confused and demented family is fairly easy to understand and dismiss...
But my question is, “Who are these other 11?” I mean, does somebody just drive down the street, pass a church with a sign that says “God Hates Fags” and say, “Hey Martha, let’s visit that church” - “Sure George, they look like the nicest people.”

And how dysfunctional does a brain…