Thursday, October 29, 2009

Let's Get Halloween Under Control

First of all, it's the most senseless holiday. It's origin is somewhat shady and billions of trick-or-treaters are blissfully ignorant of how all this got started. The list of things wrong with this annual diabetes starter-kit goes on forever:

1. We have high school sophomores with no costume other than their sagging britches going door-to-door in a valiant attempt to satisfy their sugar craving.

2. Kids no longer say "thank you" when handed their candy. Solution? Chase them down, reach into their sack, grab a handful of candy bars and tell them they are ungrateful monsters.

3. Kids don't even say "trick or treat" anymore. They just stand there staring at you, assuming the onus is on the giver, not the receiver. Solution? Reach out with an empty closed fist, palm up, dip into their bag and thump the side - making it sound like you've dropped a Snickers in.

4. Parents are driving their kids to more affluent neighborhoods in a desperate attempt to get more and better results. There oughta be a law saying you have to stay in your neighborhood.

5. This year, the day after Labor Day, the grocery stores magically transformed entire aisles into orange and black Halloween corridors, somehow trying to get us into the mood for this most trivial of holidays. Mercy!

So I hereby appoint myself chairman of a new political action committee called "Help Arrange Retro-Style Halloweens". We will be known by the acronym "HARSH". Dues can be paid in cash, check, or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brady Doing Great

New grandson Brady had some hurdles to cross upon arrival last Friday. His lungs weren't quite ready for the big-time yet. He was disinterested in nursing at first. And there was just a bit of jaundice that required a couple of days under the lamp.

He spent a bit over four days in the NICU and today was moved to the "special" nursery. He will stay there through Friday (when his antibiotics are finished) and then will likely go home. He has been weaned off his oxygen help and has developed a strong interest in nursing. Jenny is recovering so quickly from her C-section that she's been driving twice a day to the hospital.

So, all we need are good pictures of the young man. Should be getting them soon and when I do, they will magically and quickly find their way to this blog, and will no doubt supplant the usual aviation picture that typically leads off all this wisdom. In summary, God has blessed us incredibly and many prayers have been answered thus far.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome, Mr. Brady!

Coming to you from San Antonio, where grandchild #6 arrived at 2:40 this afternoon. He is Brady Thomas Perkins and he weighed in at 6 lbs., 7 oz. He had to be moved to NICU a bit later due to a lung issue, but at the moment it doesn't appear serious and the expectation is that he won't be there much longer than a day. Brett and Jenny were so hoping that this son would avoid the NICU since his two older brothers had extended stays there, but alas, it was not to be. Jenny is doing as well as can be expected after a c-section.

Brady's middle name has a bit of history. My great-grandfather on my father's side was Sam Thomas, and he was the postmaster of Aspermont, Texas. He was shot and killed at the post office one day by a man who was convinced Sam was messin' with his wife. I have the newspaper clipping at home that details the murder, and from what I can glean, Mr. Thomas was an extraordinarily well-respected citizen.

His daughter, my grandmother, was one of 7 sisters. She had only one child in her years, my father, and he was given the name of his grandfather and became Sam Thomas Perkins.

Young Brady Thomas has wonderful parents and I feel confident he will become a man as honorable as my father. Since I can't speak to the veracity of the murderer's claim way back in Aspermont, I'll hold off wishing Brady is just like his great-great-great least for now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A disappearing backroad and a prayer...

Carole and I had one moment of panic on the trip to Vermont. We were heading north from the south-central part of the state, dropping in on quaint general stores and finding foliage that was eye-rollingly fantastic.

That morning, on a whim, we had turned onto a backroad that lured us with a canopy of gold and orange and yellow leaves arching over the packed-dirt surface. It turned out to be a marvelous decision, as soon we were being escorted through incredible beauty, the kind of stuff that we had come to see. At one point, we stopped the car in the middle of the road (there were no other cars - period) and stepped out. Carole said something to the effect of, "Just listen to the silence." It was as though we had somehow been granted five minutes in heaven, and we struggled to soak in stimuli that our senses couldn't handle, at least not in heavy doses like this.

Later that afternoon, we chanced upon another backroad and decided that it was worth another go. This one was similar to the first...totally isolated and overflowing with color. There were places where the trees had shed enough leaves that we couldn't see the road. But our GPS kept assuring us that this was indeed a real road that would eventually deposit us back on our original state road.

Several miles into this foray, the road suddenly inclined upward and became more rugged. Also, there was a narrowing of the road as the trees crowded in. Then, we reached a place where there was a dip, and the lowering was filled with mud and water. We stopped and discussed the situation. Putting the rental car in reverse and backing down the road until we could turn around was not a good option. The road was too rough and twisty, and it would be a nail-biter to try and look over your shoulder for two or three miles of backward driving. But we had no clue as to what lay ahead...the road had been getting progressively worse, and despite what was on the GPS screen, it seemed to be dwindling down to nothing. So we prayed.

Getting stuck here would have problematic to the max. It was already mid-afternoon and would get dark soon. We were on a road with no name. We kept going in and out of cellphone coverage. The few houses we had seen weren't really houses - they were rusty trailers, surrounded by weeds, cars on blocks, and angry-looking dogs. And we were Republicans in state filled with Democrats and gay activists. After praying, we switched seats. Carole had been driving and I had been navigating and manning the camera. I hoped that our car had front-wheel drive and decided to forge ahead. We eased into the dip and the car started sliding sideways...but never quit going forward. Within 10 seconds or so, we were clear of the quagmire. But then, up ahead, lay an even larger swampy, muddy pig sty in the road.

By now the die was cast. Nothing to do but plow forward. Mimicking the first mudhole, the car began slip-sliding again, but determinedly pulled forward. Bingo! Cleared it. But how long could we keep this up? Well, we never found out. Just a few feet past swamp #2, there was a small opening on the right side of the road...just enough, perhaps, to turn the car around and begin the process of extricating ourselves from a bad decision. I pulled forward, then backed into the spare opening. If I went too far, the rear wheels would slip off a fairly steep edge and there really would be trouble. I slipped the car into "Drive", the wheels spun for just a split-second, and then we were moving forward and downhill and toward our escape. We still had to navigate through the two sluice-pits, and the car tried going sideways again in each of them, but we made it.

For some crazy reason, the foliage was even prettier on the way back down the road. And all the way, both of kept saying aloud, over and over, "God is good. God is sooo good!"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back from God's Wonderland

It would be hard to be an atheist after witnessing what we saw over the weekend. It has been a banner year for Vermont foliage and we got there right at the peak of the season. Most of the time, the sky was cloudy and misty, but that did not put a damper on the trees. Here are a few shots from the trip...and there are hundreds of others, trust me. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ready, Set, Go

(Think those USAF pilots are any good?)

Well, Carole and I are mostly packed and ready to leave the house at 5:45 AM Thursday to head out to the airport. From there, we fly into Boston. Then pick up the rental car and immediately get away from the big city and head to Vermont. The weather forecast for the area could be better...Friday will be cloudy and showery...but Saturday is shaping up as a partly cloudy day, and all I'm asking for is a little sun sometime during the trip.

We will be in Wilmington, VT on Thursday night, St. Johnsbury, VT on Friday night, and Rochester, NH on Saturday night. All reports indicate that not only have we picked an extremely good foliage year, but we'll be arriving at peak color in most of the state of Vermont.

The last time I was in Vermont, I can't even remember what kind of camera I was using. That was 1997. Since then, I've discovered the amazing world of digital photography and the unbelievable instrument known as Photoshop. So I'll be prepared with the proper tools and equipment...and the foliage awaits. Time to get it on!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

NDE's and LTP's

Ever since Dr. Raymond Moody's book came out in 1975 (Life after Life), I've been fascinated by near-death experiences. I think we all want to know details of what is on the other side of the curtain, and I believe Christians in particular want to check the living arrangements of their eternal home. It's just natural that those who believe more strongly in the afterlife would manifest greater curiosity than those who feel life is truly over with the last breath.

Carole cleaned out a closet last week and uncovered a book I had read a few years ago called Blessing in Disguise, written by an internist named Barbara Rommer. She has had a keen interest in NDE's because her father strongly hinted to her that he had experienced one; also, she lost a husband at a fairly young age. In her medical practice, she has frequently had patients who've volunteered information after an NDE. Her book, interestly enough, focuses on what she calls "LTP's", or "less than positive" NDE's.

Not every one who has a near-death experience finds it to be all glory and pleasure. A reasonable percentage find moments of difficulty and anguish. Dr. Rommer says that she has yet to interview anyone whose LTP was completely negative, however, because each LTP interviewee came away from the experience with at least some desire to make positive corrections in his or her life. Most are convinced they were allowed to resume earthly life in order to try and make amends for mistake made prior to their "near-death".

I don't buy into everything I have read about NDE's, simply because the Bible tells us that the road to heaven is rather narrow, and only a minority of folks are able to traverse this path successfully. But statistics indicate that a vast majority of NDE "experiencers" have a totally positive time when they're away from their physical's all peace, joy, light, flowers, music, and banana pudding until they're told they are not quite ready for this wonderful new area and must return to earth. If nearly everyone is going to have their ticket punched, regardless of their acceptance of Christ as their savior, that kinda renders his sacrifice on the cross meaningless.

What gives veracity to these accounts, however, is the element of incredible knowledge these NDE'ers exhibit once they are revived. One gentleman interviewed by Rommer had traveled with his wife from his home in Florida to Milwaukee for open-heart surgery. He went into respiratory arrest and was clinically dead for thirty minutes - and was revived when the cardiac surgeon did an open heart massage, which was finally successful.

During this time, he found himself standing next to those who were trying to resuscitate him, and then he ascended to the top of the OR. He began wondering if his wife knew what was going on, whereupon he immediately found himself in the surgical waiting room where he found her on the phone, crying. Whatever he thought was immediately manifested, and he had sudden idea that he wanted to go home to Florida, and bingo, he was there. While there, he saw all the mail which had been taken in by the housekeeper, strewn all over the dining room table. He accurately described all of the letters, bills, junk mail, and the magazines. He was able to describe the housesitter's girlfriend in detail, a person he and wife did not even know existed prior to this incident. All he described was confirmed, of course.

And, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar stories where the "dead" person "returns" and is able to recount details which were impossible for him to know. That recurring element gives enormous validity to near-death experiences, and therein creates the conflict for the Christian I mentioned. If some of what these people report is accurate and, in fact, impossibly accurate, but then other elements of their stories don't jive with Biblical teaching, we have a conundrum. Of course, I will and must choose what God has said about the "narrow way". God has also told us that He wishes all could be saved, but that most will reject Him.

Dr. Rommel states that 9-15% of the NDE's are LTP, by the way. She interviewed over 300 "experiencers" for the book, the vast majority of which had never told anyone about their particular NDE before. I'm only about 40 pages in, so I better promise to post again after I've completed the book. Feel free to comment on this fascinating subject if you wish.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Since I'm adamantly anti-Obama and since I feel he's extremely dangerous to our country, and since I want everything he endorses to fail miserably, it brought me great joy to see that his and Michelle's backing of Chicago for the Summer Olympics utterly go down in flames today.

The Drudge Report said it best with their headline: "The Ego Has Landed!"