Tuesday, December 29, 2009


by Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montagnards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.
*The heat, dust, and humidity.
*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5'9", I now weighed 128 pounds - 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant's desk and said, "Sergeant Jolly, I'm Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket."

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, "How long were you there, Colonel?" I replied "18 months this time." Jolly breathed, you must be a slow learner Colonel." I smiled.

Jolly said, "Colonel, I'll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, "No, let's just go straight to his office." Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, "Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He's been in this job two years. He's packed pretty tight. I'm worried about him." I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major's office. "Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, "Good to see you again, Colonel." I responded, "Hello Walt, how are you?" Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt's stress was palpable. Finally, I said, "Walt, what's the h-ll's wrong?" He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, "George, you're going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I've been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I'm putting my letter in. I can't take it anymore." I said, "OK Walt. If that's what you want, I'll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps."

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.
*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.
*Date of and limited details about the Marine's death.
*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.
*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy's family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and addressed them by name, "Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper."

I was stunned. My casualty's next-of-kin' s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, "I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address.)

The father looked at me-I was in uniform - and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The storeowner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the storeowner to his business. He thanked me and said, "Mister, I wouldn't have your job for a million dollars." I shook his hand and said; "Neither would I."

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.

Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, "All Marines share in your grief." I had been instructed to say, "On behalf of a grateful nation...." I didn't think the nation was grateful, so I didn't say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn't speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, "I'm so sorry you have this terrible job." My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.

Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother's house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming "NO! NO! NO! NO!"

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house.. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.

One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, "You've got another one, Colonel." I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person's address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman' s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father's schedule.

The Business Manager asked, "Is it his son?" I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, "Tom is at home today." I said, "Don't call him. I'll take care of that." The Business Manager said, "Aye, Aye Sir," and then explained, "Tom and I were Marines in WWII."

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, "Is Mr. Smith home?" She smiled pleasantly and responded, "Yes, but he's eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?" I said, "I'm sorry. It's important. I need to see him now."

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, "Tom, it's for you."

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, He's only been there three weeks!"

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth....... I never could do that..... and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, "Got it." and hung up. I had stopped saying "Thank You" long ago.

Jolly, "Where?"

Me, "Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam...."

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, "This time of day, it'll take three hours to get there and back. I'll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I'll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief's home."

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father's door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, "Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?"

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). "I've gone through my boy's papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?" I said, "Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will."

My wife who had been listening said, "Can you do that?" I told her, "I have no idea. But I'm going to break my ass trying."

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, "General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters? " General Bowser said," George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.

I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, "How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel." I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, "Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?" The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, "Captain, you're going to do a burial at sea. You'll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed... "

He hung up, looked at me, and said, "The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don't have to sic Al Bowser on my ass." I responded, "Aye Aye, Sir" and got the h-ll out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship's crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, "These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?"

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, "Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out."

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worst for wear, and said, "It's simple; we cut four 12" holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat."

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played "Eternal Father Strong to Save." The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever....

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, "General, get me out of here. I can't take this anymore." I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, "Well Done, Colonel. Well Done."

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including their life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

Saturday, December 26, 2009


My grandaughter had a great time with the family this Christmas. Less frantic, more excited, she enjoyed everybody's presents. Read the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. Spent a great Christmas day with the kids and in-laws. Called my folks in Baja, counseled a sister-in-law in need and even managed to sneak in a nap. Topped the day off with my daughter-in-law's terrific Christmas dinner and watching the Chargers trounce the Titans.

Merry Post NOEL.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The Official Director's Cut from Dan "Southpaw" Smith. Check out whiteboydj.com or myspace.com/dansouthpawsmith for more. "Baby Got Book" c 2004 Dan Smith.

I like the way Dan makes a point with humor. ...MY kind of humor.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


"Torpedo in the Water!"

The Colombian government has confiscated a half-built Russian submarine from the drug cartel, expanding the Colombian submarine force by a third. There's just one problem, the cartel built a second submarine, and the Russians want it back.

U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer, Bud Wilson is aboard the nuclear submarine Hawkbill with civilian video journalist Marsha Colton, to film a series of live-fire torpedo exercises.

When the cartel's pirate submarine begins sinking shipping in the Atlantic, Hawkbill and her on-board SEAL squad is the nearest U.S. asset to call. Bud and Marsha are swept along on a quest to find and destroy the Kilo before it can attack again.

Colombian Kilo is now available. To purchase a copy email me at donrpatterson@verizon.net. $19.00 per copy.


"1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2

These Magi from Persia, specifically Babylon, were astrologers. They saw a star and equated it to the birth of a king in Israel. Why?

At this point in history, Jewish people had been living in Babylon for 500 years. As well as astrology, the magi were versed in literature and tradition. They knew the Jews were awaiting a Messiah. The Roman historian Suetonius wrote: "there had spread over the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world."

So what are the possibilities of the star?

1. It could have been a divinely caused miracle.
2. It could have been a super nova--a star exploding, visible over a period of months.
3. Hally's Comet blew past in 11 BC
4. In 7 BC there were three separate conjunctions of Saturn & Jupiter: that would have been pretty bright.
5. For four years--5 to 2 BC--the Dog Star, Sirius rose brightly on the first day of the month the Persians called Mesori, meaning; "Birth of a Prince." It appears that Sirius was equated with Israel.

But wait, all these events happened before 0 BC/AD. DING-DING-DING! You are correct! It turns out that whoever developed the Julian calendar used in the West did a good job, but not a great one. He was off by a few years. It appears that Jesus was born several years--we can't fix it definitely--before the BC/AD crossover. However, Hally's 11 BC pass is most likely too early.

As astrologers, the magi looked for fixed signs in the heavens to foretell events. Had the star been simply a single, miraculous event, the Magi would have been impressed, but would not have made the assumption that it referred to Messiah. So I have to put my money with #5: Sirius rising on the first day of the month "Birth of a Prince" in the land of Israel. Viola, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Monday, December 21, 2009


At this time of year I'd like to pause for a nod to one of my favorite Christmas movies: A Christmas Story. You can find this in the actual house used for the movie. The house in Cleveland Ohio has been turned into a museum for the movie.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


To the best of my aging memory, here is a schematic of the ship I served in in the early '70's. Hooper was a DE, Anti-Submarine Warfare ship. I was a boilerman, toiling in the bowels of the ship.

...Annnnnnd the official artists painting.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night divine!

Chappeau de Roquemaure


Hotdogs roasting on a BBQ
Sunblock covering your nose
Yuletide carols blasting from passing cars
And friendly folks in their Speedos
Everybody knows, dark glasses and a floppy hat
Help out if the glare's too bright
Sunburned tots with their skin all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa Annas are on their way
Blowing mild Winter weather every day
But every mother's child is gonna cry
When the seagull droppings start to fly
And so I'm breathing in this smoggy haze
With folks from SPF 1 to 92
Although it's been said, many times, many ways
LA Christmas, LA Christmas,
laid back tutti-frutti Christmas to you.

Paul Aldrich

Monday, December 7, 2009


Okay, so it's fake. The guy said he had to take it down after two days because of cops and citizens driving up onto his lawn to effect a rescue.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I've been out in the garage the past two days preparing for Thanksgiving. No, ladies, NOT cooking. My Guy-Prep for Thanksgiving requires me to repair our creaky dining room chairs. These chairs are like our nations aging B-52 fleet, older than the people who sit in them. So, each year I re-glue and re-screw the wobbly joints. Sometimes I have to cannibalize a particularly shaky chair in order to repair others. Our original compliment of ten chair is down to a sad five count. When company comes we have to supplement with odd chairs from the kitchen table.

That said, this is a task I look forward to. There is something about working with wood that brings me satisfaction. Cars? ugh. Computers? Ahh! Yard work? no thanks. But wood? I can do that. Sometimes I think about the fact that Jesus trained and worked as a carpenter. I can identify with the challenges he faced (like, for instance, Who borrowed my tools?)

I am thankful that I still have the time and the desire to repair these chairs. I have no romantic illusions. I know that if I were in a higher tax bracket I would simply buy a new dining room set. But as it is, I have to repair these chairs periodically. I'm glad I can still enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Listening to "The Stars and Stripes Forever by the Marine Corps Band. What a great song. Stopped working on chairs for Thanksgiving Day and started marching around the garage.


The President has finally got a plan for Afghanistan. It's so good the American people are going to love it. It's going to finish the job. But he's not ready to tell it to us or implement it just yet.

I'll take a stab at what this plan is going to be: Declare Victory and Go Home. That's it. The media will love it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


So the president is going to wait until AFTER the Afghan elections to make his momentous "decision" about sending troops to FINISH the fight that just a year ago every freakin Democrat in DC was clammering for.

This is the bold leadership I've come to expect from this administration. ZIP.

I suppose after the Afghan elections are stolen by the increasingly emboldened Taliban, the president will have his excuse to deny further troops. US and NATO troops have spent eight years shedding blood in that god-forsaken country to liberate it. Indecision will toss their sacrifices into the international garbage can.

Not happy Mr President.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Just got back from my "doctor mandated" diabetic training class. I discovered that I'm NOT fat. No, my body efficiently stores fat. That kind of "efficiency" is a good thing for Cro-Magnon man, but bad for lazy old 21st century men.


Monday, October 19, 2009


"Torpedo in the Water!"

The Colombian government has confiscated a half-built Russian submarine from the drug cartel, expanding the Colombian submarine force by a third. There's just one problem, the cartel built a second submarine, and the Russians want it back.

U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer, Bud Wilson is aboard the nuclear submarine Hawkbill with civilian video journalist Marsha Colton, to film a series of live-fire torpedo exercises.

When the cartel's pirate submarine begins sinking shipping in the Atlantic, Hawkbill and her on-board SEAL squad is the nearest U.S. asset to call. Bud and Marsha are swept along on a quest to find and destroy the Kilo before it can attack again.

Colombian Kilo is now available. To purchase a copy email me at donrpatterson@verizon.net. $19.00 per copy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I was at the Sheriff Station tonight for a class. Afterward, I spent some time talking to one of the deputies. He told me of a problem he was having with a certain trouble-making member of the class. He said, "Normally, I would just boot the guy out, but I asked myself: What Would Don Do? and decided to give him a second chance."

Instead of taking credit for this one, I'm gonna kick it upstairs. Way to go, God.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I'm thinking of the line from "Parenthood; "This is my kid brother Larry. Don't give him any money."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We traded in the Exploder this weekend for a new car. After throwing $425 at it the ten year old Ford wouldn't pass smog. My mechanic told me it would need an additional $1,400 of work before he could even test it again; and then it would probably be the catalytic converter-considering the age: another $3,000. "Time to trade it in," He said.

We decided to take advantage of the CARS program. The Exploder had 8 cylinders and lousy gas mileage, so it more than qualified. Trouble is, the CARS program is designed to steer you to the crappy cars that the government wants you to drive, not the cool cars that a normal person would desire. If you want an 8 cylinder, forget it. If you want 6 cylinders you only qualify for $3,500. To get the full $4,500 you have to settle for a 4 banger.

We decided on the Honda Accord. We drove both the 4 banger and the 6 cylinder; no contest. With three adults in the car, the 4 banger strained to make it up the freeway on ramp. The 6, on the other hand, has the V-tec engine. When you stop accelerating, it switches from 6 to 3 cylinders. Which means it gets better highway milage than the 4 banger while having all the power you could want.

This is our third new car in 35 years and our first Honda. So far we think the Accord is a pretty nice ride.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Boy-oh-boy, Miracle Whip, the not-quite-mayonnaise, has a hip new ad campaign running. Apparently, they are vying for most totally extreeeeeeeeeem condiment status.

The Television spot features a bunch of ultra-cool twenty-somethings running around doing incomprehensible, ultra-cool, twenty-something, rave-type happening stuff. Complete with the standard MTV jiggly camera work. (Yeah, they spend millions on these spots and then try to convince us it was shot by a couple of kids with a cellphone camera)

At the end of all the cool, happenin' stuff comes the big tag line; 'We are Miracle Whip, and we're NOT gonna tone it down!"

For real.

That's like saying; "We are Twinkies, and we're hardcore to the bone!"

This DESERVES someone like me standing up, pointing to it and saying: "Ha, HA! that's lame." And I'm just the someone like me to do it, too. I'll even do it again: "Ha, HA! that's so lame."

I can think of other limp, sissy items that might benefit from this approach. 98lb weaklings, Johnson's no-more-tears baby shampoo and don't forget tofu.

Maybe the next commercial spot could feature Hells Angels passing around a plate of quarter-cut sandwiches slathered with Miracle Whip. The tag line might be: "Four out of Five hardcore bikers prefer Miracle Whip."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I have decided to take the next step in public service. I'm applying to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to become a member of the Chaplain's Bureau. I am already a volunteer with the Sheriff's Clergy Council, advising the Department and liaising between department and my congregation. However, this the service to the Deputies and out in the community is what I am interested in. So, tomorrow I'm heading to a meeting of Chaplains in LA with the Employee Services Bureau.

My Grandfather was a deputy with LASD. I hope he would be proud.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I found a new blog this morning: "It's Lovely I'll Take It" contains poorly chosen--to say the least--photos from real estate listings. Many of them are hilarious. THIS particular one is of the creepiest looking house I've ever seen. I may never sleep again after being violated like this. Click on this link if you dare.

Friday, July 10, 2009


The SciFi Channel has suddenly changed its TV tag to a more trendy "syfy." Trendy but stupid. You see, "SciFi" is shorthand for Science Fiction, while "syfy" is shorthand for "maybe stupid people will watch us now."

Science Fiction has long been the undisputed domain of geeks and nerds; i.e. "smart people." But now it looks as if their reign has come to an untimely end. If the corporate types are willing to dumb-down the tag can the content long survive?


I can't wait to see what the Military Channel has planned to attract female viewers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Karen and I have been on a driving excursion through the mid and southwest for the past two weeks. I have gained some insight on driving practices on this trip.

1. Californians treat the speed limit as the minimum they are willing to tolerate from other drivers; otherwise, "get out of my way!"

2. Texans treat the speed limit as an unattainable, lofty goal for which all must strive, but none may achieve. What is up with going five MPH under the limit in the left lane?

3. Here's a tip for mid-western drivers; in order to pass another car you actually have to go faster. Just pulling even with the rear axle and maintaining the same speed for five miles won't get the job done.

4. Safety is a by-product of good driving, not the goal. The goal of good driving is to get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently.

5. Arizona seems to have fired all their state troopers in favor of automatic cameras.

6. I LOVE the I-10 in south Texas; 80MPH all the way from San Antonio to El Paso.

7. A three pound raven traveling at 5MPH is no match for a Ford Explorer traveling at 80MPH.

8. A three pound raven splatting into your car at 80MPH is much more exciting than watching frozen poultry shoot out of the "chicken gun" on Mythbusters. It will wake you up; definitely.

9. Ford's outside mirrors traveling at 80MPH are no match for a three pound raven traveling at 5MPH.

10. There are enough butterflys per square mile in south Texas to clog up your radiator grill.


Thursday, June 11, 2009


I read a lot of Biblical commentaries that have little respect for the Old Testament sacrificial system. The most common dismissive remarks call the sacrificial system something like, a barbaric practice for a blood-loving deity. Humm. Seems too many people are unclear on the concept. In fact, those people are guilty of imposing modern expectations on an ancient practice.

I've talked to Jewish folks who are quite proud of the fact that they no longer offer sacrifices for salvation. And yet, that still misses the point. You see, the point of sacrifice is not that God enjoys suffering and slaughter. The point is substitution; a life for a life. And the funny thing is, you--yes, modern urban you--participated in a sacrifice today. If you haven't yet done it today you did it yesterday. If you didn't do it today or yesterday you are either fasting or facing some serious health problems.

You see, every bite of food you put in your mouth is a participation in the sacrificial system. Something died in your place; a life for a life. And don't get all righteous and vegan on me, either. plants are living things, too. To sustain our own life we must kill and consume living things. We moderns have conveniently ignored this fact because we don't do the violent deed ourselves, anymore. No, we pay the farmer, butcher and Sara Lee to murder our fellow creatures and discreetly package them for us. Hey, I'm not knocking eating living creatures, I'm knocking our current, smug hypocrisy.

Which brings me back to the sacrificial system. The whole point of the system is to point out our need. We are not self-contained, self-sufficient creatures. We are not gods. We need life. and we sustain the life within us by taking life from other creatures. The book of Hebrews points out the ultimate futility of the Old Testament sacrificial system; offering daily sacrifices that never end. Those sacrifices were reminders of sin, they never absolved sin. That is the reason Jesus gave his life on the cross for us. His death was a cosmic event. A one-time ultimate sacrifice for sin. Life for life. The sacrificial system and our dependence on food is the daily reminder of our need in this life and a BIG, RED pointer to Jesus the Christ, who offers us life eternal, through the shedding of his blood.

Believe and repent.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009


My friend, RP Nettelhorst, has a great post on his blog titled, SUCCESS. I have often pointed out that God's call to his people is to faithfulness, not success. Yet we constantly get it bassakwards. RP has a good corrective.

Among other things, RP says: Things really went badly for Paul once he left Antioch. So, was Paul not doing what God wanted him to do? Had he and the church made a mistake? Was Paul guilty of a hidden sin? Was Paul not praying right? Had Paul’s lack of attendance at the latest seminar on church growth been his undoing? Maybe he needed brother Wonderful’s latest book and video series?

I encourage you to link to his site for a dose of uncommonly good sense.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Someone has said that a camel is a horse designed by government bureaucrats. With the government telling auto makers what kind of cars they must make ("Und, you vil LIKE it!"), you ain't seen nothing yet.



We have a squirrel in our church. Most congregations have mice. WE have a squirrel. I made plans to trap it or at least find out where the lil critter is getting in and stop up the hole. However, somebody suggested that we open the doors to "Rocky" and pray for Revival.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Thanks a lot, you sappy give-peace-a-chance-niks.


It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.

- Neil Gaiman

I think this explains my whole problem with society in general. I get so frustrated with all the idiots fawning over the emperor's parade and wardrobe. Here all the time I am the half-wit. That's a humbling thought but, like Don Quixote, I shall continue my pointless battle against windmills and empty fashion statements.


I did a Clergy ride with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department last night. The watch started out normally; paperwork, stupid domestic disturbance call, stop for a bottle of water (it's already hot here in the high desert). Then the fun started.

We got a call for a wildfire burning in the west valley. Turns out it was within a mile of the homes of several deputies on the watch and mine as well. Half the units raced westward, augmented with another half-dozen from Palmdale station. The fire was burning a northeast path, angling toward a newer neighborhood and the state prison, but away from greater Quartz Hill.

When we arrived on scene we began blocking intersections and expanding the cordon. There were dozens of lookie-loos parked within yards of the flames. Everyone had to be moved back a mile from the fire. After the cordon was set, my deputy was sent to check on the only house in direct path of the fire. We began driving down 70th West from K to J, following a firetruck. The flames were angling closer to 70th as we drove. Suddenly the firetruck slammed to a halt and the firemen jumped into action dragging hoses from both sides of the truck, blocking our path. The firemen began hosing the flames that were now licking the shoulder of 70th. We were completely enveloped in smoke. My deputy decided to turn around and suddenly it was reminiscent of "The Charge of the Light Brigade." Flames to the left, flames to the right... etc, etc. We looked at each other and he said, "I'm gonna floor it, and head back to K." Okay by me.

Later evidence showed no scorch marks on the car, but I'm surprised. We raced into black smoke, blinded like it was heavy tulle fog. It seemed to stretch on and on. Finally the black smoke lightened to gray before reaching acceptable backyard-BBQ levels. Then we were through. On the other side we had to stop--nearly had to arrest--a frantic woman who wanted to go to the home we had been headed to, to check on dogs and cats. We had to watch her for hours until it was safe. (final score; dogs & cats 1, fire 0)

We spent the next several hours at the County fire battalion command post. My deputy relayed fire chief requests for assistance to the sheriff's command post. After the fire we sat for hours on reflash-watch, still blocking streets and making sure the fire did not rekindle. The car smelt of smoke for the rest of the watch and I'm sure the next deputy to drive it would have something to say about the stench as well.

The best part of the whole night was receiving a query over the unit's computer monitor: "R U OK?" I quoted a line from Luke Skywalker and my deputy typed the response: "We got a little cooked, but we're ok."

Monday, May 25, 2009


I talked to a Navy Vet today. He served as a firecontrol technician in WWII. Remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.


Friday, May 22, 2009


Okay, Sorry I haven't posted for most of a month. Now that the Antelope Valley Christian Writers' Conference is over I have a life again. I am gaa gaa over the new television series, CASTLE. The show first aired in March and had only ten episodes in the first season.

Richard Castle is a Mystery novelist living in New York City. The first episode featured a series of gruesome murders straight out of several Castle Novels. The homicide detective investigating the murders, Lieutenant Kate Beckett, just happens to be a closet Castle fan: she would never reveal this to Castle's face. The police bring Castle in as an adviser, thus beginning a long, conflicted relationship.

You see, Rick Castle has just killed off the main character, Derek Storm, of seven best-selling novels. Castle was sick of writing a character that had become stale and predictable. To ensure there would be no "Hollywood-style resurrection" of Storm, Castle killed him off with a particularly bloody and permanent large caliber gunshot to the head.

Oops, now Castle has writers block. Big time. But lo-and-behold, his association with Lt Beckett has given him inspiration. She has become his muse. He wants to hang out with the homicide squad for further stimulus.

Hang out with the homicide squad? You've got to be kidding. The cops would never put up with an amateur dogging their footsteps. O contraire', Castle has a lot of fans, including superior court judges, the Mayor AND the chief of police. With his signature on a certificate absolving the city of responsibility he is assigned as a civilian adviser and the chase is on.

The series is semi-serious, not heavy-handed like all the current CSI shows. Castle himself is admittedly vain, shallow and witty. He makes a superb foil to the serious, driven, Beckett.

The added draw for me is that I am a writer AND I've been volunteering with The LA Sheriff's Department as a clergyman. I ride in the cars with the deputies and sometimes help out with my amazing counseling abilities, or at least an extra flashlight. All I need now is a ballistic vest with an embroidered patch proclaiming WRITER on it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



Seriously, why can't you media types simply REPORT the news instead of hyping an agenda? The motto of the US media is "How Can We Scare You Today?" People are dying of the flu in third-world countries because of bad hygiene and sanitation, NOT because the virus is so freakin' deadly.

If you do happen to get the flu, the treatment is simple: drink plenty of liquids, rest and go see the doctor. If people die of this flu in America it is only because they are third-world transplants with a third-world mentality.

The truly bad thing about this kind is hype is that it employs the same language and intensity as a real disaster. After a while, constantly shouting "The Sky Is Falling!!--The Wolf is Coming!!" only makes people complacent. When a real disaster comes no one listens.

Self-aggrandizing morons.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Some people have no gratitude, no shame and zero respect


Yes its true... I am NOT holier than thou. I am not even holier than Swiss cheese or old socks. In fact, I've pretty much given up the idea that I can be holy apart from God's grace.

This abject confession was brought on by the accusation that my blog embarrassed someone who read it. Apparently they also passed an email with my blog address to a friend who will be scandalized by the illicit, un-Christian nature of Observations From Hadlyville.

In response I have three things to say:

1. I am so glad I pastor a congregation that does not play this game.

2. This is not a Bible School Blog, a Church Blog or even specifically a Pastor Blog. It is MY Blog.

Z. Read the Blog "Sub-Title," "What's This Hadleyville Thing?" and my very clear "Quasi-Legal Disclaimer" and you will know just what kind of low-life I am before wasting time showing me the error of my ways.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


"My morale will continue until the beatings improve."

Thanks Bubblehead.

"1. The stupid will be punished.

2. Natural laws have no pity.

3. Time wounds all heels. "

Thanks Rubber Ducky.

"Tell me how you measure me and I will tell you how I will behave!”

"Two things that aren't the same are different."

Thanks Tennvol.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009



Predictably, the news media are wetting their pants over our being mean to the Somali pirates. "Now they are mad at us and they will hurt their hostages." That's because they think we ought to negotiate with pirates, terrorists and thugs in general. In the movie The Fifth Element Bruce Willis gives a demonstration on negotiating with thugs. You can watch this instructive clip here.