Thursday, August 30, 2007


Okay, I have my hand back. The injured finger is in its own little cocoon. I'm more or less ambulatory but I have to be careful I don't jam the ring finger when I grasp something. Doorknobs can be deceiving.

As far as the actual injury goes, its worse than I first thought. The finger tip was not ripped straight across but sort of diagonally from left to right. The doctor said it would take around three months to heal completely. The good news is, it should regenerate some of the lost mass. Probably still look gross and deformed, though.

I'm thankful I did not lose the whole finger. Or chop up several finger tips, for that matter. Thanks to modern medicine, I'm not sitting with Job on his ash heap.

I'll have to learn to be more careful in the future.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Haven't posted in a few days. I chopped off a fingertip while helping my son move this weekend. To quote Mike Warnke, "I can remember my exact words at the moment; but I have since repented."

Even though I only hurt one finger, my right hand is wrapped up like a catcher's mitt. Hard to type like this. Tomorrow I see the nurse and maybe get a single digit bandage. Hope so.

Just wanted to let you know.


Friday, August 24, 2007


I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve been working on my son’s new-to-you house. I closed off one doorway and opened another. And that’s not all. We’ve painted, plumbed a gas line for the stove, run new electrical and laid laminate floors. August has been so busy I haven’t had time to complain about summer heat.

Today was one of those “last straw” days. The young marrieds went and bought themselves new appliances to replace the decrepit John Denver-Harvest Gold ones. They purchased FIVE MAJOR APPLAINCES from a huge national chain. I don’t want to mention any names but their computer nerds dress like Mormon missionaries.

The upshot? Every last appliance has been an adventure in waiting.

1. The washing machine couldn’t be hooked up because the faucets leaked.

2. The ice-maker couldn’t be hooked up because they had no water-line kit.

3. The dishwasher wouldn’t drain properly because the pipe was clogged.

4. The old stove had been hard-wired to the outlet and goodness-gracious-me the installers can’t be expected to rewire it themselves.

Are major appliance outlets and installers aware that in the real world fixes of these types are the norm? Why are they not equipped with simple and inexpensive parts? Do they make money by coming back over and over? Apparently they don’t have any more expertise than I do. I can take them out of the box, plug them in and shove them into place. What are we paying them for anyway, manual labor?

Today, as I said, was the last straw. The installers removed the brand-new microwave from its over-engineered factory cocoon. The microwave was dented top and side. My son immediately got on the phone to the major outlet. They said: “Certainly sir, our customer service manager himself will be right over with a replacement. After all, you’ve bought FIVE MAJOR APPLAINCES from us and we wouldn’t want to lose your business.” …No, wait. That’s what they said in the alternate reality. In this universe they told my son to bring it in for an exchange.

Quality's not just a word, it's a slogan!


With apologies and sincerest admiration to Watterson

Friday, August 17, 2007


All this week ABC’s Good Morning America program hosted the Apotheosis of Elvis Presley. That is, his exaltation to divine status. However, reaching the state of near deity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He still has to wait in line behind George Washington for a vacancy in the Trinity. But the King of, well, not kings but rock-n-roll I suppose, still lives in the hearts of Americans with way too much time on their hands.

This morning the worship service concluded with a posthumous duet between the deified Elvis and his still living daughter, Lisa Marie. Now I like a lot of Elvis’ music. I thought Lisa Marie's mother was fetching in those Naked Gun movies. But I was not moved to worship along with the rest of the network congregation. I think it was the calculated tear, rolling down Lisa Marie’s cheek that really turned my stomach.

I mean, give me a break! In The Ghetto? It was hyped as some sort of majorly compassionate song. Silly me, I always thought of it as crass blacksploitation; white, liberal guilt on display, so no one can question the depths of white, liberal angst. Don’t get me wrong, the plight of poor, inner-city black families is often desperate, to be sure, but should we callously add insult to injury by telling them that In The Ghetto ranks up there with We Shall Overcome?

So I’m asking you to take part in a little survey; completely unscientific, of course. Here goes:

When I hear Elvis singing In The Ghetto, I…

A. Get a sob in my breathing while a compassionate tear rolls

down my cheek for the plight of poor, inner-city black


B. Roll my eyes and hit the station tuner button.

C. No, Don the Baptist, I…___________________________________________

Please let me know your answers by posting in the comments section.



My friend, Commander Mark Schwartzel, USN, is preparing to take a detachment of troops to the Middle East Area of Operations. He is the prospective commanding officer of a customs detachment. (Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Customs Battalion TANGO) The command consists of 500 sailors performing Customs Inspections on sailors, soldiers and airmen returning home after serving in Iraq.

In the meantime, while Mark is in Virginia for pre-deployment workups, his family lives in California. Please pray for Mark and his sailors. Kuwait is not exactly in the war zone, but many Islamist Kuwaitis’ have begun to protest the US presence there. Also its HOT, and remember, that comment comes from a guy who lives in the Mojave desert.

Pray that Mark will make the right command decisions, that he will deal intelligently and wisely with 500 troops, that he and his troops will do their jobs—which protect us at home—in a professional manner. Pray they Mark will bring his sailors home safely. Pray that God will be glorified and Christ honored because of the lives and service of Commander Schwartzel and his troops.

Thank you, Mark. Give ‘em Heaven!


Today Karen and I celebrate our thirty-third wedding anniversary. We’ll be doing the traditional working on the kids new house all day. Come evening, though, we plan a romantic candlelight dinner at a oh-so-haute French restaurant. Oui-oui.

Anyway, thirty-three is a number to be proud of. More important, it’s a relationship and commitment that’s stood the tests of time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


For the edification of my writing friends, I want to post Mark Twain's succinct and helpful list of fiction "rules." He is using Fennimore Cooper's "Deerslayer" as his example.

There are nineteen rules governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction—some say twenty-two. In Deerslayer, Cooper violated eighteen of them. These eighteen require:

1. That a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere. But the Deerslayer tale accomplishes nothing and arrives in air.

2. They require that the episodes in a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it. But as the Deerslayer tale is not a tale, and accomplishes nothing and arrives nowhere, the episodes have no rightful place in the work, since there was nothing for them to develop.

3. They require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. But this detail has often been overlooked in the Deerslayer tale.

4. They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there. But this detail also has been overlooked in the Deerslayer tale.

5. The require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say. But this requirement has been ignored from the beginning of the Deerslayer tale to the end of it.

6. They require that when the author describes the character of a personage in the tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description. But this law gets little or no attention in the Deerslayer tale, as Natty Bumppo's case will amply prove.

7. They require that when a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a street(my interpolation) minstrel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down and danced upon in the Deerslayer tale.

8. They require that crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader as "the craft of the woodsman, the delicate art of the forest," by either the author or the people in the tale. But this rule is persistently violated in the Deerslayer tale.

9. They require that the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable. But these rules are not respected in the Deerslayer tale.

10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the Deerslayer tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.

11. They require that the characters in a tale shall be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency. But in the Deerslayer tale, this rule is vacated.

In addition to these large rules, there are some little ones. These require that the author shall:

12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.

14. Eschew surplusage.

15. Not omit necessary details.

16. Avoid slovenliness of form.

17. Use good grammar.

18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Most guys would tear out their tongues before confessing this. I am not a car guy. Lest you think, of course he don’t like cars, he’s a sissy, milq-toast preacher, I must interject, au contraire. I have the car guy disease; it’s in my blood. But I’m a carrier, not a casualty. I was inoculated young and often during my childhood.

You see, my dad is a car guy. Not your average, garden variety aficionado either. This man is a drag racing, street rod, custom car, do-it-yourself-or-die car guy. When I was 12, his 1931 Model A Ford took first place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena over 2,000 other show cars. His Model A has been on the covers of Car Craft and Hot Rod magazines. He’s been voted Street Rodder of the Year. He does everything. Engine rebuilds and upgrades, bodywork, fiberglass and paint jobs. I stand amazed at his skill and innovative thinking. Retired now, he gets to devote all his time to the craft he loves.

You would think growing up with that kind of pedigree would make me the savant of the car world, not just the idiot. I was the envy of all the boys in the neighborhood, including the ones who despised me. But it didn’t take. As I said, I was inoculated. I had so much CAR in my life, including the unpleasant sanding and cleanup tasks, that by the time I was old enough to drive I had no use for the car guy world. My loss.

Now, here I am in my fifties and I am beginning to appreciate cars for themselves. I find I can look at a paint job and know if the underlying bodywork was done right. I still wield a mean sanding block and, most telling, I’m beginning to lust for a cool car. This is not some mid-life crisis yearning, now. This is a mature, reasoned, sensible lust.

So I spend a lot of time looking at cars when I’m out driving. I like the retro Mustang, but the leg room is a bit short for me. The Chrysler 300 is a cool and veddy adult machine. But what really grabs my imagination these days is the retro Dodge Challenger. I find that a truly cool conveyance. Does that make me almost a car guy?

I listed my credentials to justify the following comments. I noticed a Mercedes Benz today. Now, I’m more of a bread and butter, Ford/Chevy/Dodge man myself, but the model name caught my eye: C230 Compressor. Compressor? What kind of name is that for a car? How about ShopVac, or Jeepers Creeper while they’re at it? I couldn’t help laughing at seeing that silly name on such a high class, luxury auto. I wanted to ask the owner, How many psi are you pumping out, Buddy? Hey, can you, like, hook up a paint sprayer or nail gun to that thing?

Naming cars after poisonous snakes, predatory birds and unruly horses makes sense. Even the recent spate of Latin terms weren’t bad. But have we run out of good, dangerous, powerful terms? Are we reduced to exploiting household gadgets? If so, the marketing folks ought not neglect the female buyers in their calculations. I envision a whole line of cars named Bouquet, Herbal and Water Feature.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I went to the medical oracle yesterday for a follow up exam. After an X-ray, he pronounced my doom…

In June 2006, I was incapacitated with a monster kidney stone. All last summer I took pain medications, laid around with no energy and endured therapeutic indignities. After two rounds of lithotripsy—where the kidney is bombarded with sound waves to break up the stone—I had some internal crushed gravel left. Turns out, a year later, I STILL have some stone.

So, I get to endure yet another round of lithotripsy. The procedure itself isn’t hard or painful. I simply lie on a table in twilight sleep and listen to the snap, crackle and pop of the machine. (the first time I got to sit in this cool James Bond-looking contraption which picked me up and dunked my lower body into a water-filled tank. The last three times I laid on a restaurant door with the porthole window; Yawn! Booring!) No, its what happens to me afterward. I find the effect completely debilitating. It wipes me out. I have no energy for months. After two procedures a year ago I still feel lethargic. Now I get to endure another one. I’m wondering if my church will finally declare me completely useless and fire me for good.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s the stone bits lodged in my ureter that are wiping me out. If so, then flushing them out ought to improve my stamina over the long haul. I’m hoping so. My mind is not ready to retire yet, but my body seems to have already opted for it.

Well, nothing for it but to gird up my loins and shamble into the brave new world. How’s that for mixing metaphors?

Friday, August 10, 2007


My Friend Rob’s Response

* I'm worried because:

You I might be watching too much Firefly:

1. While driving you avoid large ugly trucks because you fear Reevers.

* Even when I was a trucker, I sometimes thought some of the other big-rig drivers looked like insane savage cannibals.

2. Your cell phone plays the "Ballad of Serenity."

*Ok on this one. Cell phone's normal.

3. When Kaylee and Wash talk about the internal workings of Serenity you understand what they are saying.

*Sometimes...I think.

4. You know the difference between a companion and a whore.

* I'm not quite sure of my judgment here. Something to do with my ex-wives I think.

5. On several occasions you've been awakened in a cold sweat by nightmarish visions of the battle of Serenity Valley.

*Pretty close on this one...only the place name was Ca Mau.

6. One day you'd like to clear atmo just to see what the rest of the verse is like.

*Uh-oh! Have had this urge for decades.

7. The last time you were kissed by a beautiful woman you paused to see if you'd pass out.

*I have a good defense here. This reaction occurs to most old farts my age.

8. You always cut your apples before eating them.

*Again a good explanation. I have a three hundred year old digestive tract, the veteran of too many assaults by tobascco and/or jalapenos.

9. You realize that the love affair between Jayne and Vera may be strange, but could not possibly be lesbian.

*I'll be in my bunk.

10. You've begun to curse in goram Chinese.

*Only when I get frustrated!

Wow! 9 out of 10! Well, thanks for sending this along, anyway. Seeking medication,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


One of my favorite blogs is “Faith in Fiction.” It’s run by Dave, an editor at Bethany House. The site has information about writing opportunities, cover art, & recent CBA awards. It also has great tidbits of advice for aspiring—and those who should know better—writers. Last Wednesday, Dave posted “What I See a Lot of In Proposals (and Novels)” I won’t give it away; go check out his site for yourself. Suffice it to say, writers who have eyes to see...


I heard a public service announcement on the radio today. It told me I could save 100 gallons of water a week by turning off the tap while shaving.

That’s right.

Just how many times a day does the government think I’m shaving? Now, I admit I’m a mathematically challenged guy. I had to use a calculator to divide 100 by 7 ( I DID manage to estimate 7X10=70). Apparently, I’d have to use 14.28571428571142857114285711428571 gallons per day while shaving to use 100 in a week.

Humm… No, I’m not buying it. Maybe the government thinks I shave 14 times a day. Then I’d only be wasting a little over a gallon at a time (NO Eric, I will NOT cipher that number out).

But I figure the government simply thinks I’m stupid. I'm not expected to do the math. I’m supposed to experience warm fuzzy feelings over the empowering thought of saving water and the planet, too. Don't know how they arrived at 100 gallons. I suppose they did a focus group and found that asking people to save less than 100 gallons a week would not inspire enough desire to experience warm fuzzies.

But, after all, the point is moot. I shave in the shower.

Friday, August 3, 2007


You might be watching too much Firefly if:

1. While driving you avoid large ugly trucks because you fear Reevers.

2. Your cell phone plays the "Ballad of Serenity."

3. When Kaylee and Wash talk about the internal workings of Serenity you understand what
they are saying.

4. You know the difference between a companion and a whore.

5. On several occasions you've been awakened in a cold sweat by nightmarish visions of the battle of Serenity Valley.

6. One day you'd like to clear atmo just to see what the rest of the verse is like.

7. The last time you were kissed by a beautiful woman you paused to see if you'd pass out.

8. You always cut your apples before eating them.

9. You realize that the love affair between Jayne and Vera may be strange, but could not possibly be lesbian.

10. You've begun to curse in goram Chinese.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Two weeks ago I went to Yosemite with four friends from my church: Dan, Eric, Rex and RP. Our goal: Climb Half Dome. 8,836 feet up in the stratosphere; some 4,000 feet above Yosemite Valley floor. We arrived in Yosemite on Wednesday, July 11th. We camped above the Valley at Bridal Veil Creek campground; a first for me. That day we made a short practice hike to sentinel dome. We wanted to start getting used to the altitude. The next day we did another practice hike to Taft Point, a long jagged way above the south side of the Valley.

On Friday morning we awoke at 4am, shoveled down a cold breakfast and drove to the trailhead at Glacier Point. From here we descended to the Illilouet Falls then up and over a substantial chunk of granite to arrive at Nevada falls, the four mile point. From there we hiked through Little Yosemite Valley on the backside of Half Dome to the trail head; five miles. Then up the switchbacks—I think 2,800 feet or so—to the Half Dome cutoff; nine miles. Only two miles to go. I pooped out around the ten-mile marker. It was already after noon and we still had another mile to go. Once the summit was reached we would have to turn around and to go back down.

I rested for two hours, waiting for the guys to come back. Rex arrived first. By that time I felt as if I could go on to the top, but it would have cost us another two plus hours on the trail. I didn’t want to make the guys that much later, so I hoofed it back down toward Little Yosemite (and WATER, my two liters was running low) The rest of the troop caught up just as Dan and I reached Little Yosemite. We refilled our water using a filter and the Merced river, then headed off on the last five miles.

It was now after six pm and we knew we’d be finishing in the dark. Good thing we had anticipated this, we all had flashlights. The last mile is the longest mile I’ve ever walked in my life. We had intended to have a hearty dinner in Yosemite Valley before heading back to camp and bed. But it was closing in on 10pm and our only option was the grocery store. We bought cold packaged sandwiches, chips and drinks and ate our dinner outside as the store closed and all the lights went off. Got back to camp around 11pm. Eric, Rex and RP then drove Rex’s car to Glacier point to pick up RP’s car. I’m told they got back at midnight, but you can’t prove it by me. I was busy pounding my ear by then.

I am disappointed I did not complete the hike. I’ve wanted to climb Half Dome for twenty years. The trip was my idea and I suppose I could feel guilty, or weak or stupid if I wanted to. Actually, I’m quite pleased that a fifty-three year old, overweight diabetic hiked 17 miles that day: most of it considerably above five thousand feet.

There’s always next year…