Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some of my best friends have been books.

The second grade was not a good year for me. We moved to Nebraska the year before and, although there were some great things going on and I learned to really enjoy it, I did have some issues adjusting.

One day, I wore my jean jacket with a 25th anniversary of Long Beach patch, and I was surrounded by a group of locals, ending up with a bloody lip and getting lectured by the teacher about why we don't choke people.

We also got in trouble for staging a large gang fight on the playground and my Cub Scout shirt was a long sleever, while everyone else had short sleeved ones. That, for some dumb reason, caused a great deal of consternation for me.

But, the worst thing I can remember came on the day of the book exchange.

I had grown to love the book, The Great Cheese Conspiracy, by Jean Van Leeuwen. It was my all time favorite book and I read it over and over. I thought it would be a great book to share with someone else at the book exchange.

When I tossed it in the pile and got my new book in return, I was so disappointed. I figured everyone else would step out with their best foot forward too and I would get some other great book. Perhaps a new world of friends in a book. Maybe even a new favorite book, that I could visit time and again.

What I got in return was some dumb picture book that someone had probably outgrown. Fortunately, being a weepy, bratty second grader, my ill planned exchange was undone. I held on to that thing for several years after.

We still have a copy of that book around. It is no longer one of my favorites, but I do remember what it is like to have a friend whisked away in a vain attempt to find another. And, I still understand all the effort that goes into planning a cheese burglary.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Perhaps you are like me and the differences seem very subtle and nuanced. But I have been informed that the gap between the two is really quite large.

My wife Diane has assured me that the difference between the two is very real and should be diligently observed.

She is teaching me that drawing attention to a person is much different than paying attention to a person. She tells me that she greatly prefers the latter and really doesn't care for the former at all.

And, sadly, the former may be exactly what I am doing with this post.

Standing at attention is, by the way, something completely different.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Recently I have had the unfortunate opportunity to deal regularly with a person who is perpetually unhappy and blames others for every problem they face in life. 

When I saw this old proverb, it seemed to click with this person's outlook on life:

All the days of the oppressed are miserable,
but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

I suppose it is difficult to be cheerful in the face of the difficulties we face in life, to be joyful in spite of all the problems others create for us, to have a cheerful heart at all. But, the rewards are great and the choice is stark. 

You can choose a cheerful heart, or you can give in to the oppressors. You can live life like it were a feast of experiences and adventures, or  you can live life like it is miserable...and you get the by product of not only feeling miserable, but of being miserable to deal with too.

I will choose a cheerful heart!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dad's Day

This date, July 11th, has been significant to me in the past. It is my buddy's birthday, it's the anniversary of the day I went into the Air Force and got out of the Air Force and, it is the date my Father passed away.

For those that don't know, we were in Denver visiting my parents when, in the middle of the night, my mom came in the room where we were sleeping and said my dad had fallen out of the bed and she was unable to wake him.

Having seen plenty of dead and dying, when I saw him, I thought he was gone. Of course, I tried resuscitation and the ambulance was not too far away. I asked them if they could transport in hopes that his transition from life to death would not seem so sudden for us, but they called him there.

And now, I remember this day as the day I lost my Father.

Here is his obituary: Horan Cares 

And here is my earlier reactions: When a loved one passes

For those of you that are want to read it, here is the Kadddish, said to remember the Lord's goodness in the face of those that have passed:

Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba (Cong: Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (`Cong: Amen.)
b'al'ma di v'ra khir'utei
in the world that He created as He willed.
v'yam'likh mal'khutei b'chayeikhon uv'yomeikhon
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
uv'chayei d'khol beit yis'ra'eil
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
ba'agala uviz'man kariv v'im'ru:
swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Amein. Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varakh l'alam ul'al'mei al'maya
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Yit'barakh v'yish'tabach v'yit'pa'ar v'yit'romam v'yit'nasei
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
v'yit'hadar v'yit'aleh v'yit'halal sh'mei d'kud'sha
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
(Mourners and Congregation:)
B'rikh hu.
Blessed is He.
l'eila min kol bir'khata v'shirata
beyond any blessing and song,
toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah, da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru:
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Y'hei sh'lama raba min sh'maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
v'chayim aleinu v'al kol yis'ra'eil v'im'ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Oseh shalom bim'romav hu ya'aseh shalom
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil v'im'ru
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Children At Risk!

It seems in vogue to talk about helping "Children at Risk". To give them the opportunities they may not otherwise have, to help them see a future they may not have been otherwise able to imagine, etc., etc.

I am, of course, in favor of this. Who wouldn't be?

But, I think we need to expand our idea of which children are at risk.

The first time I ever saw the rising popularity of heroin use was with kids in one of the affluent schools here in my city.

I have seen kids from all areas of town and all financial strata facing hopelessness, broken homes and a life without joy.

Keep touching the lives of those kids that have less, but remember that those that seem to have more are also at risk. At risk of growing up and not realizing what is truly important. At risk of not finding peace and love in their own homes. At risk of making choices that will negatively alter their entire lives.

When you think of helping "at risk" kids, don't forget that all kids are at risk.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Things not to do when you visit

We are out of town right now, so I am probably safe sharing this tale. In case you come to visit us, it will also help you know how you should not behave in certain parts of our city.

There is a movie set/tourist old west town that is near our town, and went I was first stationed here, I made a point to visit.

My buddy Dave and I went there and discovered that you could get Old West style cap guns in the gift shop. What could be more fun than running around an old west town shooting cap guns at one another?

We took them with us when we rode the stagecoach and when the train came around the bend, naturally, we opened fire. I guess the mules weren't used to gun fire, and they started to run. We thought it was just the most fun part of the ride, until the cowboy driving the thing got them stopped and started shouting at us.


- They really should train their mules to be more comfortable around gunfire.  Its Arizona. Everyone has guns.

- They seemed to have rethought the whole cap gun sales thing. It wasn't long thereafter that they could no longer be found at the gift shop.

- The stagecoach is more fun when it is going fast, but, according to the angry cowboy, it is not as safe.