Archives For March 2012

I Went To MIT…..

March 31, 2012

When I show people this picture they ask me if I went to MIT and I say yes.  As a matter of fact it was also in the same week that I went to Harvard and Yale. ;)

The trouble with Wall Street is well, Wall Street. Those folks in New York City, especially Manhattan, think they are the center of the universe.

Lets move our financial institutions to Omaha Nebraska.  That will give them more common sense than they would ever be able to gain on that little island in New York.  Warren Buffett has done pretty well with himself by staying there all these years. He has weathered most of the melt-down in pretty good shape. He doesn’t let the flashy lights of fame and fortune cloud his judgment.

The people who live in or near New York City don’t really have any idea of what the rest of the country is about or what our priorities are. I lived in that area for four years waiting to finish out my corporate life before claiming my pension and leaving soon thereafter.  When many in that area learned that I was from Indiana the first question they asked was  “what is there to do out there in the Midwest?”. To them anything outside of  their area is simply a “cornfield with lights”. They don’t understand that there is life without having to live packed together with millions of other people.

I won’t reserve this mentality for only those in the Northeast as those California folks think much the same way but on a different topic. They can’t understand the changing seasons have an appeal to some of us. They can’t understand why any of us would want to live where it gets cold or where there is no ocean.

So, getting back to the original premise of this post lets move our financial district to Omaha. Maybe some saner minds would then prevail for the very fact that not many of those Manhattan folks would follow their jobs to the “cornfield with lights”. But then again maybe I am wrong about that.  Greed is a powerful thing…

But what do I know….

I, like so many others was saddened to see the death of Whitney Houston. She became famous just before I went deaf so I sort of remember some of her songs. She indeed had a rare talent. It sounds like from the initial reports that her death was at least partially caused by her addition to drugs and alcohol. Of course Elvis, and quite a few other rich and famous people have had a similar ending.

I’m sure Whitney had an entourage of people constantly around her to grant her every desire. She was certainly rich beyond what anyone of us common folks can even imagine. Why is it that so many with so much end up with tragic deaths? This brings to mind a song by one of my most favorite groups from the 1960s which was  a Simon and Garfunkel They had a song entitled Richard Cory.  Even after almost fifty years I can still recite much of those lyrics about how a poor guy who is struggling just to get along couldn’t understand how Richard Cory could be so unhappy to take his own life. I recently learned that this song was actually based on a poem written in the late 1800s by Edwin Arlington Robinson. Here is his poem.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town, 
We people on the pavement looked at him: 
He was a gentleman from sole to crown, 
Clean-favoured and imperially slim. 

And he was always quietly arrayed, 
And he was always human when he talked; 
But still he fluttered pulses when he said, 
“Good Morning!” and he glittered when he walked. 

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king, 
And admirably schooled in every grace: 
In fine — we thought that he was everything 
To make us wish that we were in his place. 

So on we worked and waited for the light, 
And went without the meat and cursed the bread, 
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, 
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

The fact that Richard, Whitney, Elvis, and many others had tragic endings is an affirmation of the old say “Money does not buy happiness”.  Those of us who by comparison have very little simply can’t understand how those much richer than us can be so unhappy.

I just got this from a niece and wanted all you seniors to learn the correct way to call the police :)  This is supposed to be a true story.

George Phillips, an elderly man, from Walled Lake, Michigan, was going up to bed, when his wife told him that he’d left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window. George opened the back door to go turn off the light, but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked “Is someone in your house?” 

He said “No,” but some people are breaking into my garden shed and stealing from me. 

Then the police dispatcher said “All patrols are busy. You shouldlock your doors and an officer will be along when one is available”

George said, “Okay.” 

He hung up the phone and counted to 30. Then he phoned the police again. 

“Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don’t have to worry about them now because I just shot and killed them both, the dogs are eating them right now.” and he hung up. 

Within five minutes, six Police Cars, a SWAT Team, a Helicopter, two Fire Trucks, a Paramedic, and an Ambulance showed up at the Phillips’ residence, and caught the burglars red-handed. 

One of the Policemen said to George, “I thought you said that you’d shot them!”

George said, “I thought you said there was nobody available!” 

Source:  NYT: Risks of Afghan war shift to contractors – World news – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

This is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. Many American generals and diplomats have private contractors for their personal bodyguards. And along with the risks have come the consequences: More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.

American employers here are under no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not. While the military announces the names of all its war dead, private companies routinely notify only family members. Most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted — and in some cases, leave their survivors uncompensated.

So from this article we find that the there are more than twice the U.S. citizens death in Afghanistan than are reported by the military. Some how or another the military finds it unnecessary to report the private citizens they hire who are killed in that war.  Of course there are also many many people killed as “collateral damage” meaning innocent citizens of Afghanistan who are killed while our soldiers go after the “bad guys”. This ten year war just keeps getting sadder and sadder. When will we have enough sense to get out of it?

Foggy Morning….

March 27, 2012

 

THis picture was taken a few weeks ago off my front porch. It is looking into the foggy woods with the rising sun.  The picture doesn’t really capture the true sense of the moment but it does give you an idea of  its majesty.

On The Road Again…..

March 26, 2012

We will be on the road again in about a week and I am going to do my usual “on the road” daily blog posts giving you my observations and experience of what we visit.  This time we will be visiting Omaha Nebraska. We were there during our month long vacation in 2009 and decided to save the city for its own vacation. What we saw in 2009 was a beautiful city with a fabulous restored warehouse district.  We will be staying at a renovated one hundred year old  hotel.

“On the road” posts are a different thing for me. I generally do the initial write of my posts about two week ahead of publishing them. That gives me time to think about the topic and do several edits.  On the road posts are usually posted the day they are written.  I know that several of you who have been following my various blogs have enjoyed my trip reports.  So, starting next Tuesday April 3 and for about a week thereafter look for these unique posts.

One nice thing about doing this is that any time in the future I am then able to identify where all the pictures we take were taken by checking the timestamp with the trip log postings. :)

Source: Apple scores with digital textbooks and app – USATODAY.com.

To encourage development, Apple launched iBooks Author, a free authoring tool for the Mac that encourages anyone to produce their own iBook textbooks, cookbooks, how-tos and other works. Apple says more than 600,000 copies of the tool have been downloaded since launch. Authors can distribute the books for free. But if they put the iBook textbook up for sale, they must do so through Apple’s iBookstore. (Authors can use the content in other digital and print formats, Apple says.)

Who among us, especially us bloggers, doesn’t want to be a published author. Well, now Apple has made that a distinct possibility and it is easier than you think. I recently downloaded their iBooks Author app and it is an impressive tool!  I am including a few snapshots here.

I have not had the time yet to thoroughly analyze this tool but upon a cursory look it seems to I be very user-friendly.  But, of course user-friendly is the rule rather than the exception with Apple software. :) I will let you know more about the tool in a future post.

It was once quite an ordeal to have a book published but in today’s electronic world with e-books becoming the norm it is getting much easier to do. One reason is that a factory line no longer needs to be dedicated to producing a bound document. E-books will of course result in a proliferation of new novels and such. With this much easier method of becoming a published author will also come with an increased responsibility of marketing your own material.  To those familiar with the myriad of social sites available today that job is also easier than it used to be.

If you want to be a successful author you have to determine if anyone out there will actually pay to read your material. This is where the well prepared vs. amateur will shine. A good way to find out if you have an audience for your topic is to start a blog about it and then grow it into an e-book if there is interest. So, if you are fortunate enough to have an Apple computer grab a free copy of iBook Publisher and give it a try. Before long you may just be a “published author”.

This is the last installment for the review of the book “If God Is Love” that I brought over from my other blog.  This book was a major factor in forming my current view of the Church of Christ.

<<<<<<< Post from August 16, 2011 >>>>>>>>

This is a continuation of my discussions of the book entitled “When God Is Love” by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Here is the quote for today:

Working to make the world a more gracious place wasn’t a priority in the churches of my childhood. Some of this negligence was a result of apolcalyptic interpretations in which the world was doomed and damned anyway. One man insisted we shouldn’t work for peace in the Middle East because we were simply postponing Armageddon and the return of Christ. However, the primary reason the church didn’t have time to change the world was because we expended so much energy trying to save souls. We’d work for weeks on revivals, evangelism programs, mission support, and the like. We didn’t have time for soup kitchens, visiting prisoners, or working with the homeless — unless of course, we could figure out a way to work in an altar call.

When I became convinced of God’s intention to save every person, my perspective on the purpose of life changed. Salvation became a lifelong adventure in which God is gently and patiently drawing us away from self-absorption and toward authentic relationship with God and one another. The point of life was no longer to get saved or to save others. The purpose of life was to live graciously. Freed of personal anxiety about God’s acceptance and no longer obsessed with creating others in my own image, I was able to focus on what it means to be rather than do.

Working to make the world a more gracious place is still not much of a priority in today’s church. While I am yet to be fully in the camp that God will in his own way bring all souls to him, I am fully on board that much of the current church approach to those outside the faith is misguided. When we quit looking at others as projects to be converted and instead as fellow human being to be loved our whole approach to them changes. They become fellow children of God and not heathens to be saved.  The way we point others to Christ is through our actions and not our words or even necessarily those words found in our ancient books.

Lets finish up with a follow up quote on this subject.

Saving souls isn’t about altar calls, but about responding graciously to those we encounter in our daily lives. Being gracious is not about inviting others to our church, but about living an inviting life — one both attractive and winsome. The purpose of life isn’t to create more Christians , but “to let our lights shine before others, so they will see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16

A few posts ago, and several other times on this blog, I have stated that we all at some time, and often many times, question what is our purpose in life. Why did God create us. I think Mr. Gulley and Mr. Mulholland have got it right in that regard. We are to be like the Son and let our lights shine in order to point others to Christ. Altar calls and such just don’t hack it. They never have and they never will.

Looking Back…

March 24, 2012

I have been thinking about it lately so wanted to post a picture taken from the restaurant on top of the World Trade Center in 1999. It was very strange to look down and see helicopters flying around. The enormity of the buildings that fell is hard to comprehend unless you have actually seen them.