Thursday, July 27, 2006

I Dig Trains, Too

I think this is the first time I've used anything other than an aviation picture. But I think the public deserves to see this amazing photo. Be sure to click it and see the full beauty.

I might could get interested in railroad photography, but waiting for a train in the summer heat for hours is not pure joy. At the airport, the action is pretty much constant. I often come home with 300+ photos to examine.

Today I went to Wylie, a hub for the Kansas City Southern railroad, expecting locomotive action. Nothing showed. Nada. Zero. A waste of my valuable retirement time. Maybe I should go at night, like the above photographer did.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Greatness of Steve Morris

Every craft has its masters and its apprentices. In the aviation photography world, I am in the latter category. Up on the pedestal is Steve Morris, a resident of London. Instead of giving you my usual cleverness and wittiness, I just want to share some of Steve's artisitry.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Airside", Again

My contact at DFW, Ken Sodergren, finally got released from his midnight shift, opening the door for me to do another ride-along yesterday. Uh, the temperature was 107. Just perfect for standing next to runways for 2 hours.

Before we went out, Ken showed me something I had never seen. It was the communication center for the airport. Interesting stuff. It looked like a war room. A huge TV screen dominated a wall...tuned into CNN. Smaller screens framed it, and they showed various airport operations. The room was dark, eerily lit by computer monitors monitored by the personnel. An adjacent space was literally a war room, with tables, chairs and maps. Draped on each chair-back was a safety vest with someone's last name stitched on. I queried Ken as to what sort of situation would put this room into action. "Hijacking?" "Of course."

We had a great time, heat notwithstanding. Because of the problem of heat haze, Ken had no choice but to get me as close as he could to the action. He edged me a few dozen feet from runway 17R and I captured the photo above, a Lufthansa heading nonstop to Frankfurt.

At 107 degrees, I don't blame them for getting out of town.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's July and....

...and we're into a form of cabin fever at our house. It is so ridiculously hot outside (100 degrees by noon today) that outdoor activities are almost non-existent. Even a routine trip to the grocery store means you have to come home and shower again.

On the other side of the world, Hezbollah and Israel are exchanging words and bombs. Israel claims Iran is funding the enemy. This is interesting because there are those who feel Revelation predicts something like this happening in the Last Days.

You would have to read their reasoning based on scripture to get a clear grasp of this theory. All I can tell you is that, to me, it is credible. How should we respond? Even if you reject such a prediction, you (and I) need to be living with a sense of urgency. As I get older and therefore closer to going home, I realize that if I'm going to have an impact on relatives and friends who don't know Jesus, I need to get after it.

I believe I'm saved, but I also don't want to press the lever on heaven's gate knowing that I failed to speak with them about the most important talking point ever.

Since I truly believe we are in the final moments before Christ's return, I am trying to reject anything superficial and void of eternal significance...while trying to concentrate on what does matter.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I want to recommend a book entitled Bruchko. It is the story of a 19 year-old man who left this country determined to bring the story of Jesus to isolated Indian tribes in South America.

He left Minnesota with absolutely no support from his family and with little money in his pocket. All he had was incredible faith. He determined that he wanted to penetrate the jungle and somehow offer the gospel to a tribe that was greatly feared by entire country of Colombia. The word most often used to describe this group was "murderous".

He does it. I won't give away details, but with God's help, he did it. The incredible hardships he overcame would have stopped any ordinary person. The story proves that we should never rule out anyone as a potential brother or sister in Christ. There are no circumstances that God can't conquer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Early Take on Retirement

It is with some trepidation that I do this. The danger is that by sharing my early thoughts on retirement, some will have the perception that I'm gloating. After all, most folks who read this are working people for whom retirement is a faraway goal.

But understand that I'm not rubbing it in - merely reporting on my feelings in a dispassionate way, I hope. As though I were being interviewed by someone taking a survey. Here goes:

I'm blown away by how happy I am. Gone is lingering dark cloud of educational responsibilities that draped over my mental shoulders like supply bags on a pack mule. Before I go further, let me say that if Dallas Christian phones with a job proposition, I'll jump at it. There is a huge difference between DISD and DCS.

All teachers know the feeling that begins creeping into their psyche this time of year. It's the saddening realization that summer is slipping through their fingers like sand in an hourglass. I, too, know that summer oozing away, but this year it doesn't bother me. Bring on fall, cool weather, and football games.

Today, July 12, I walked past aisles in the grocery store dedicated to school supplies! July 12!! This experience used to bring the first cloud of dread into my summer sky. Today, I just laughed.

One thing I've noticed about myself is patience. During the school year, time is at premium and my nerves were often frayed. What has jumped out to me as a manifestation of my calmness is my behavior behind the wheel. I'm not happy to confess that I speed. Not recklessy, mind you. More like doing 75 on I-30 and keeping up with everyone who's doing likewise in the left lane. Now, I camp out in the right or center lane and watch the type-A's frantically whizzing past me. During the school year, I was always pushing, pushing...trying to reward myself with a few extra seconds or minutes at home or wherever. Now the stimulus for such behavior has been excised.

With this chunk of mental energy now removed from my thinking, I find myself meditating more on the spiritual things of life. I've slowed down and started listening to the Holy Spirit, and He is doing some talking. Not coincidentally, I doing more in the way of "servant works" than ever before. I love it.

And, I'm a little self-conscious about going to get the paper at 7:30 in the morning. We live on a farm-to-market road that is travelled by hundreds of commuters. As I stumble out to pick up the paper, dressed in my pajamas (which for me is shorts and a tee shirt), I'm can feel the eyes on me of those dedicated workers heading off to work. How many of them are mumbling out loud, "Lucky stiff!"?

So retirement, so far, is a wonderful thing. I'm staying active even though the summer heat suppresses a lot of the things I enjoy doing. I would urge everyone reading this to stay the course, keep grinding, and the reward will be there for you before you know it. And give God free play in your life. Tell Him you want to maximize your spiritual gift(s) in the workplace. And go ahead and allow yourself to daydream about your retirement.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A One-Eighty on Iraq

I didn't think I'd ever toss in the towel on Iraq. I'm a good Republican and a veteran. I consider myself a flaming patriot. But I think we have reached the point where our goals aren't worth the cost. In fact, I'm not sure the goals are attainable.

We dethroned, caught, and imprisoned Saddam. In retrospect, at that point we should have exited, stage left. Our goals, if I understand them correctly, were to eliminate WMD, eliminate Sadam's rule, allow Iraq to set up a democratic government, and cut the core out of Al Qaeda.

Well, the matter of WMD turned out to be less of an issue there than we thought. We put Saddam in Lew Sterrett, Baghdad. So let's look at the other two issues. Bush seems adamant that we can eventually exit Iraq when they've got a democracy running all cylinders. My worry is that, governmentally-speaking, Iraq will never be able to even gas the car. These folks seem incapable of doing anything other than chunking rocks and waving their fists in the air. And the trouble is, the U.S. has committed so much effort, money, and blood there that a graceful exit is no longer possible.

The other sticky point is our effort to drive a stake through the heart of terrorism with our presence in Iraq. I'm not privy to CIA intelligence and I don't know for sure just how many Al Qaeda operatives are based there. But at this point, I'm willing to concede Iraq and save the lives of our young military men and women. I think their expertise could better be used along the U.S./Mexico border. I hate to think that while our focus has been on Iraq, our back door has been compromised.

Lyndon Johnson allowed Vietnam to become personal and his stubbornness prolonged the war unnecessarily. George Bush may have reached that point. He doesn't seem to grasp the "unwinability" of the war in Iraq and, like LBJ, lets his Texan pride cloud his otherwise reasonable judgment.

It's gonna be messy whether we stay or leave. I say pull out now and save precious lives. As bad as it would make America look, the reward would be worth it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Whatta Country!

I hope that at some point today, you've paused to reflect on this great country of ours. Yes, it has many, many problems. Yes, I'm not happy with current trends in several areas. But still, whatta country.

This country is barely over 200 years old and we are the unquestioned world leader in power, resources, technology, and research. Think about all the other countries which have been around for millenia and haven't accomplished anything worth noting. (Hint: they DO produce homicide bombers...the press mistakenly call them suicide bombers.)

So, a hearty salute for our country and those who fight to preserve it. We shouldn't take it for granted.