Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Photos of the Universe, 2009

Don't hesitate to click on these and see them enlarged...

Most of these were taken from the Hubble telescope...a few from ground observatories...

This next one quickly became known as the "Butterfly" shot...

Sunday, December 27, 2009


What a weekend! Somehow Carole and I have gone from newlyweds to having six grandkids in the blink of an eye. Somehow, 37 years filled with work, a little play, and blessings too numerous to mention have zoomed past - and we are left with wrinkles and aching joints, but 3 wonderful children who married extremely well and now have rewarded us wtih 6 delightful grandchildren.

The three kids and their kids descended on the homestead yesterday and it was a blast. I'm not sure how the game of "Let's Jump on Papa When He's Down on the Floor" got started, and I'll do everything within my power to prevent a sequel, but there's something magical about having grandkids taking a running leap at you and piling on the backs of those already engaged. Words can't explain my emotions. But it has to do with not caring that it hurt and even encouraging them to bring it on - because these are my grandchildren!

Our three children probably haven't projected this far into the future, but amazingly, Lord willing, time will zip by like a bullet train and soon, their kids will be carting their kids to their who will delight in leaping on them, too! And it won't hurt at all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things I'm thinkin' about tonight...

1. So disappointed that it appears the U. S. Senate will pass a health bill that the vast majority of America doesn't want...and, by the way, has been rushed through with such haste that nobody in the Senate has even read the whole bill. I'm fully confident that even though most representatives who are up for re-election will not return and even though Obama will be a one-term president, it will take years and years to undo the harm perpetrated by these out-of-touch politicians.

2. I do a lot of driving, at least 190 miles each weekday. I see a lot of cars on the interstate highways, to say the least. But there are two groups of cars that make me peer inside them, hoping to catch a look at the driver. The first group sport license plates that say, "Purple Heart". These are usually driven by Korean War vets or Vietnam vets, obviously. I stare at the driver and wonder how they were wounded or injured, and how serious it was. The second group is very rare. I've seen maybe 10 of these. These vehicles have license plates that say, "Former POW". I really, really stare at these drivers. Were they, perhaps, in the dreaded Hanoi Hilton? Were they held captive for years and years? It's all I can do not to pull in front of them, stop them, and thank them for the service they've rendered.

3. There's every indication that this is going to be a very brutal winter. The school district for which I drive a bus has a reputation for keeping the schools open even when roads are treacherous. I'm not excited about the prospect of slip-sliding sideways down a busy interstate, trying to corral a heavy, yellow monster...I sure hope the folks who make the "go, no-go" decisions think about those of us who transport children.

4. I'm making a point of saying "Merry Christmas" and not "Happy Holidays" this year. Just my little part in putting Christ back in the season for which He is the reason.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Enjoying your work?

I've been thinking, lately. A scary thought, I know. What initiated this chain of thought was a moment on my school bus, a moment when I realized that I thoroughly enjoy this job. The hours are not oppressive, the pay is good (since I've been doing it 26 years), and the girls who ride my bus are wonderfully polite and mature. And I simply enjoy the physical act of driving a school bus.

It's a familiar scene: someone born in the mid-20th century gives advice to someone around 20 years old. "Listen, life is short," he says. "Find something to do with your life that you will enjoy!" Of course, following this instruction is problematic. We all want to do fun things, even at work. Being able to match up one's interests with an available and suitable job is tough. Most of us aren't too successful at pulling this off.

Coming out of high school, I was sure I wanted to teach. Nothing during 4 years of college diluted this goal. I enjoyed the subjects in which I had majors (English, History) and I looked forward to working with students. My student teaching assignment was pleasant and reaffirmed my plans. I got my military commitment out of way, returned to Texas, and was hired by the Dallas ISD.

Long story short. The negative factors of being a teacher in a large, urban middle school far outweighed the warm fuzzies I got from working with the kids. I had numerous discussions with Carole as the years went by...could we afford it if I moved to a private school...should I change careers somehow...ironically, she was saddled with a job that paid well, but was mentally and physically oppressive.

Fast forward to 2004. Carole retires after 34 years, having stayed with the same job. Two years later, I retire, never having changed jobs. I guess what we proved is that one can stay with a job that one doesn't particularly like most days and absolutely abhors on the rest of the days, and somehow survive and reap the financial rewards for having stayed the course. Of course, we leaned heavily on God and each other and were absolutely committed to doing what was best for our kids.

So what does one tell the 20 year-old? Chase your dream and find something totally fulfilling? Or understand that most folks don't get that lucky and wind up doing the best they can at something which brings way fewer thrills?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Tiger Mess

What is it with guys, anyway?

Here's a guy, married to a beautiful woman, a guy with incalculable riches and a lifestyle matched by few on the planet, who nonetheless throws his image and his marriage down the toilet.

I have to chuckle when I hear folks describe the Bible as a book of fairy tales, totally irrelevant for the present age. Even a cursory inspection of scripture reveals that marital happiness comes from the commitment of a man and woman to each other for life. We even stick that principle in wedding vows ('til death do us part), but many aren't taking those words seriously. Common thinking seems to be, "We'll try this and see if we like it." Or, "Hey, if it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce." Sadly, the human toil from such shallow thinking is immense, especially with kids involved.

There was another head-scratcher from this Tiger mess. One of his "girl-friends" said that he is worried about his financial security. Here we have the most famous athlete in the world, a fellow whose endorsement contracts bring him millions and millions each month, and somehow it isn't enough. Again, the Bible speaks wisdom... about greed being a quest that never ends nor satisfies, the owner of big barns just wants bigger barns, to put it in Bible-talk. "A man's life does not consist of the abundance of things he possesses," it says elsewhere.

Now Tiger is a prisoner in his mansion, unwilling to step out and face the music, or the paparazzi. His marriage is in shambles, perhaps beyond repair. Now, when he appears at a golf tournament, there'll be as much talk about his private life (not that it is very private) as his golf game. He may not get to see much of the two kids he adores, should Elin choose to divorce him. It's almost as though an asterisk will be put next to his name from now on...

*stupidly ruined his life for a few moments of pleasure

Ah, commitment. So few seem to see it as the secret to marital happiness.