Monday, March 31, 2008

and 161 more to go!

I'm watching the first baseball game of the year. It matters not that the Rangers will probably blow it. What matters is that the greatest game is being played after a long winter of discontent. I won't get to see every game...come summer, I'll spend a lot of evenings pulling weeds with my trusty radio tuned to the affair.

It is the greatest game. Its pace allows conversation and verbal strategizing among friends. It was made for fathers and sons, with an occasional Brooke thrown in there. And the most amazing thing is that one simply cannot go more than two games without seeing something that you've never seen in a game before.

And, once I step through heaven's gate, I'll grab my glove and get to play catch with my dad again.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I've reached a bit of a crossroads in my life. You see, I have male pattern baldness. I also have male pattern ignorance, but that's for another blog. I'd love to blame someone, but my mom's dad was such a sweet soul and he and I got along famously. But the topographical chart of my hair is identical to what his was at this point in his life.

The problem is that as my hair has gotten progressively thinner, it has become less manageable. Also, I've found that silver hair (I don't have gray hair) doesn't stay where you put it like brown hair. The result is that I more and more wear a ballcap to keep from having people stare and point at me.

What I'm leaning toward is having the stylist put a quarter-inch attachment on the clippers and attack the whole head, army-style. The only thing keeping me from doing this the reaction I'll get from family members and friends. I'm not sure I can handle a lot of negative criticism on this. If they universally hated it, all I could say in return would be a feeble, "It'll grow back", while having a failed smile on my face.

But for ease and convenience, this would be worth it. No more trying to coerce cooperation from unwilling strands or worry that I'[ve reached the comb-over stage. Isn't a comb-over the most transparently sad move a man can make? Doesn't it look silly when the wind blows it upright like a row of cornstalks? I never want a comb-over!

Today, I'm going back to Kristi, a stylist who usually cuts my hair but whom I've somehow missed for the past few months. If she can do her usual magic and leave me with a decent haircut, one that leaves me a fighting chance, I'll postpone the army cut. But if this fails, I'm putting on the fatigues and going to war with all this follicle frivolity.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


These cannot be challenged:

1. Cobbler is the ultimate dessert, unless you factor in frozen key lime pie.

2. 99% of high school coaches don't impart the kind of values that I'm interested in.

3. Lakes and rivers weren't put here for recreational purposes but for scenic appreciation.

4. I would rather fall off a tall building than be locked in a trunk for an hour.

5. Martin Luther was one brave fellow.

6. Ricky Nelson was overrated; Roy Orbison was not.

7. Brunettes. Always.

8. Getting up at 3:15 AM every day of my junior and senior years in high school for my Morning News paper route taught me more than everything I learned in college.

9. We've gone some time now without any good presidential candidates.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


"ennui" - "ahn-we"

That's a word I've never used in a conversation. But I may have to incorporate it very soon. It means "a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction".

Carole and I sit here on a gorgeous spring afternoon, as immobile as sphinxes, trying to recover from various ailments, each attempting to out-cough the other. I'm so desperate that I've ached for the opportunity to pull weeds. Between us, and using our laptops, we have exhausted the internet. Happened about 3:03 this afternoon.

The situation is getting comical...almost. Yesterday we got a call from Carole's mom that resulted in us taking her to the doctor. Turns out she has shingles. We were in no condition to make the trip, but taking care of our mommas is a priority.

Of course, we remain extraordinarily blessed. Neither of us has a terminal illness. We are surrounded with loving people. We each had something to do today until 3:03. Life is good, summer is coming.

And germs cannot survive the Texas heat.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Carole has been toughing it out, putting off going to the doctor until today. She had gamely kept the grand-girls last week and nursed me along, all the while feeling rocky herself. Meanwhile, I was kind of proud of my strep throat, milking it for all the sympathy and work-avoidance possible.

Well, she's seen my bid and raised me. She has pneumonia, richly garnished with a sinus infection. She got a shot, two kinds of antibiotics, and must have 3 breathing treatments a day. She's sick.

So, for the second time, we must postpone a trip to San Antonio to see the grandsons. At this rate, the next time we see them, McCain will be president.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting Right with God

I was privileged this evening to read a blog post by a minister named Terry Rush. His blog is entitled, "Morning Rush", and can be found here. It stuff I already knew, but boy do I need reminding about it sometimes. Enjoy.

Watch for the word righteousness in the Bible. This refers to anindividual being right with God. While there are matters of importance which God lays out before those who seek Him, getting right with Himis surely key. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33). Why are we called to seek His righteousness? Ours is a flop. No preacher, no faithful church attendee, no Bible reader can get themselves right with God on their own good deeds. Many try. Others believe they succeeded. But if it’s not God’s rightness, it isn’t valid. If we don't know to look for God's righteousness to be applied to ourselves, we will conclude the pursuit of God is vain for we will decide we aren't good enough. Be encouraged by II Cor. 5:21: "He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God." There it is! The way anyone gets right with God is not based on our religious efforts but on Jesus’ bad deeds? What? Yes, one is right with God on the basis of how bad Jesus became on the cross. He became each of our sinful acts. Jesus became kitty litter on the cross to absorb everydark sin we’ve committed. He traded places with us. No one gets right with God on their own goodness. He makes us right just as he made Jesus wrong. The trade has been completed. It might encourage you to take a good look at Jesus. He died for you…that you could live for Him. What a trade! What a God! What a Savior!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two by Two

One of the idiosynchrasies of my very old school bus is that its roof leaks during heavy rain. Probably during heavy fog, too, but I haven't had heavy fog to deal with yet. So it's truly wonderful that I had to take today off to be my lovely wife's chaperone for an extended medical appointment.

Folks, it is raining cats and dogs. Or more like lions and St. Bernards. We've had in excess of 4 inches and probably have several hours more on tap. My neighbor called and reported that water is seeping up from somewhere into his master bath. He's been there a couple of decades and this has never happened.

American Airlines has shut down its operations at DFW Airport for the remainder of the day. They had to divert flights right and left today, even sending an LAX/DFW flight to Abilene. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We regret to inform you that we're gonna have to put down in a little West Texas town, and you will be spending the evening in Abilene, a town where night life consists of parking next to the Union Pacific tracks and watching freight trains go by. Enjoy!"

I often wonder how the pioneer families survived all the conditions that hit them day after day. Today is one of those days when I'm glad I'm dry and secure in a modern home and not spinning wildly down a swollen river in a covered wagon.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Love Mondays

It's late Sunday afternoon and I can't wait for Monday morning. The strep is almost gone and I feel like I'm about 75%. After 9 days of this stuff, feelin' good feels good. So when the alarm goes off tomorrow, I will smile.

Let's shift gears. Do you believe in UFO's. Aliens?

I almost do. I got interested in UFO's during my high school days. We had what's called a "flap" over North Texas, a time of increased UFO sightings. During those days, I had a morning paper route, and I always finished the morning by walking four city blocks and finishing up the deliveries. I can remember spending those days with my eyes skyward, hoping that I might see a saucer. No luck. But I have done enough research to convince myself that something is out there, something not of this earth. There have been too many sightings by pilots, astronauts, law enforcement types, and regular folks that cannot be explained. Carole and I have good friends who are believers because of what they witnessed one night. Were it just a couple of incidents, I'd say "no way". But there have been thousands of these episodes.

The question then becomes, what happens to my faith if an alien craft crashes into terra firma and removes all doubt that "they" are out there? My answer is...nothing. Nothing will ever rock my faith. What it would make me do is look again at scripture and see if we've missed something. However, other than Roswell (what did happen there?), we are still waiting for the first alien faux pas. And I still keep my eyes skyward.

Friday, March 14, 2008

There's a name for how I feel...

After a miserable night when it was obvious my health was regressing again, I did the prudent thing and saw a doctor this morning. Diagnosis: strep throat. Apparently there are several pretty bad strains of strep on the prowl in Texas. Bad timing as far as we are concerned; we're having to cancel a weekend trip to San Antonio to see Brett, Jenny, and the boys.

The medical folks are begging folks to habitually wash their hands to keep from getting this stuff. So take heed.

Also, click on the above picture. It was taken at DFW Airport last week by a good friend of mine. Sure shows how things can change quickly weather-wise around here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Power of the Name

I had made some plans for this morning. About 3 times a year, the kind folks at Love Field allow me to go up into the old control tower to enjoy an hour or so of photography angles that are special. But as I got ready this morning, I heard on the radio of a massive traffic tie-up on I-30 stretching from Jim Miller Rd. to the LBJ freeway. Since this is the only effective route to Love Field and since my schedule couldn't handle any delays, I postponed the photo op.

It wasn't long after that when I heard about the mother throwing her 6 and 8 year-old sons from the Jim Miller bridge onto the freeway below and then jumping herself.

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of New Testament times is the amount of demon possession experienced by those folks. And when Christ or an apostle encountered a possessed person, there was high drama being played out as ultimate evil ran head-on into ultimate good. We don't talk much about demon possession now other than to perhaps casually mention that some acquaintance or relative had to "deal with their demons" at some point in their past.

But instances like today's tragedy convince me that there's a whole lot of possessin' goin' on. Of the three family members who fell two stories into the traffic this morning, there were three last names. The lady already had a long rap sheet. Neighbors say she had mental problems. Obviously, the devil had a tight grasp on her life. Occasionally in my teaching career, I encountered students and parents whose behavior was so markedly abnormal, so "out there", so dark, that I could almost hear the chilling hiss of Satan as I dealt with them.

Another fascinating aspect of Scripture to me is the emphasis on the name of God or Jesus. It is overwhelmingly apparent that the name "Jehovah God" or "Jesus Christ" has incredible significance - trillion times more power than "Ricky" or "Tom" or "Mary". It's that those all-powerful names are entities unto themselves rather than being just identifying labels. And when Christ encountered demon-possessed people, he would call out his own name to force the demon out of the individual.

This sounds crazy, but I'm dead serious. Had I been casually walking across that bridge this morning and seen the drama unfolding, I believe I would have run up to the lady screaming, "In the name of Jesus, STOP!!" From what I can gather from all the New Testament stories, Satan cannot withstand the POWER OF THE NAME! And I'm just crazy enough to think it might have worked. What do you think?

Monday, March 10, 2008

We've got it good...

It's so easy to throw a pity-party when you're sick. After all, I'm sequestered in a far-off bedroom and the isolation is killing me. Carole is having to care for Maddie and Macie today - both are sick as well. Were it not for the fever I had at 10PM last night, I'd be in there doing what I could to help. But here I sit, feeling (and probably looking) gray.

However...I read a book in its entirety Saturday while on that long field trip. It was written by Dr. Paul Lanier, a Dallas anesthesiologist who passed away recently. He had contracted ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 1998. Most ALS patients don't make it six years. He hung on for nearly ten.

Extra years for an ALS patient isn't necessarily good. Dr. Lanier described the pain of lying "lifeless" on his bed, unable to turn yet still feeling all the pain from sore joints. Of being totally dependent upon others, even to the point having them clean up after you, if you know what I mean. Of having every muscle totally atrophied. ALS robbed him of his voice. He wrote the book with the aid of a device where basically a cursor could be aimed at a letter with the focusing mechanism of his eyes. Meaning he "wrote" it one letter at a time.

He could no longer hug his wife and three daughters or even speak to them. And he knew that death, when it came, would be brutal. Most ALS patients die of pneumonia, which occurs because the muscles that control swallowing become weak and uncoordinated. Then when they swallow food, drink, or saliva, they aspirate (meaning that substances go down the trachea into the lungs instead of the stomach). They also get pneumonia because they can't cough or take a deep breath.

So the point of today's little essay is that most of us, especially me, have it good if not great. If Dr. Lanier withstood a decade of ALS, I better be able to handle a couple of days of inconvenience. By the way, the name of his book is A Change in the Flight Plan. He was also a private pilot and flying was one of the countless things he had to give up. Here is his obituary: <>

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Survived the trip...I think

I caught a bug of some sort during the day yesterday. Felt fine (but sleepy) during the morning hours, but awoke from a bus-nap in the early afternoon feeling very rocky. By the time we were ready to start the 1.5-hour trip home, I really was hurting. Had I been 100% safety-conscious, I would have alerted the bus lot and had them ferry two drivers and a different bus to Emory, but that sure would have been inconvenient. So I tried to tough it out.

From the time I left until I made it back to the bus lot, there was an overwhelming desire to go to sleep. Well, that would have got a lot of folks killed. I spent the 90 minutes praying for alertness. It worked and I got the students and their sponsors back to Townview.

Carole took my temperature when I got home, and it was 102.4. By bedtime, it had backed off to 101.8. Kind of sounds like the flu except I haven't been nauseous.

So now I begin my spring break week. It's off to a dashing start, eh?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Heading east...

Will be arising at 4:00 Saturday morning. Will be taking some brilliant students from Townview to Emory, TX, a little place near Lake Tawakoni. There's an academic decathalon happening there. My field trip time frame is from 6AM - 6PM.

I've driven this group several times before and they are a total joy. Very polite and studious.

The critical question is...will my bosses insist that I drive the antiquated bus#301 or will they have sympathy on me and bequeath a modern, new bus to me for just one day? The world wants to know.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Things I Really Abhor

1. Organ music.

2. Floral prints. Anywhere. Don't like them on wallpaper, linens, elderly ladies' dresses, or paintings.

3. Hominy. It's nothing but wet popcorn.

4. Misspelled words on business signs. I see two every weekday that elicit a primal scream from me: One is a burger joint on Dolphin Rd. with a sign that says "Hambugers". The other is a car repair place that has this..."Wheel Alighnment".

5. Screaming three year-olds in the grocery store. It's only taken 36 months and the parents have already ceded control to these kiddoes.

6. People who drive through the alternating red lights of a school bus. I had a student get hit by such a driver once. The impact of car on body was so violent that it knocked the young man out of his shoes. He was airborne for 50 feet. And survived with only a broken femur. Please pay attention, folks!

7. Meetings.

8. Car salesmen who utter the words, "Here's what I can do for you."

9. Body piercings, tattoos, hoop earrings, cornrows, and visible nosehair.

10. Waxed paper. All the other kids at my elementary had their sandwiches wrapped in Saran Wrap. Guess my parents' budget only allowed waxed paper. It was akin to living on the wrong side of the tracks.