Sunday, December 30

Waving Goodbye

The notebook is full, pictures taken, goodbyes said, and new calendars hung. Birch trees are trimmed, money spent, daughter married, and birthdays past.

Pretty simple, really. God is good.

Tuesday, December 25

Family Fun

Great weather added to the blessings of being with family today. Each of us read a portion of Luke 2 before opening gifts. Angel enjoyed her stuff, especially a Planet Frog habitat (have to order the tadpoles). Thanks to Ginnie and Jack, Marty and Karen, John and Betty and the kids for remembering us this season. We love you all.

Barb cooked a huge pre-sliced ham, her famous scalloped carrots, cranberry jello and slightly burned on the bottom rolls. Potatoes covered in cheesy stuff rounded out the simple fare. No menu-making this week! Plenty of leftovers for stuffing ourselves.

May God have mercy on our nation as we remember His greatest gift of His only Son and turn to Him in faith and love.

Tuesday, December 11

Stress for Less

Between the Jersey Prison Ship, Walker-Texas Ranger, Christmas Lights, my Sick Better Half, a Sunday Wedding, Paul McCartney on PBS, an Itchy Back, and Good Health, today's minutes tick-tock by in a regular rhythm, like footsteps in time, like a drip-drip-dripping drain pipe in the middle of the night, like the clickety-clack on the railroad track.

You guessed it! I've got absolutely nothing worth noting this evening.

Thursday, December 6

Another Empty Nest

"True love is the gift which God hath given,
To man alone beneath the heaven.
The silver link, the silver tie,
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body and in soul can bind."
Sir Walter Scott

Elizabeth enjoyed the party festivities at her bridal shower last weekend when a few of her soul sisters honored her with their presence. Games, food and a $40-40-bite cake (from Baskin-Robbins) rounded out the wing-ding. Now she has that crock pot she's been dreaming about!

With the wedding coming up soon and a new move into an old house, heads are spinning and the panic attacks are looming over the horizon. Change can be a killer emotionally. But love and hope usually win the battle.

Barb and I will return to the empty nest for about the 4th or 5th time. It's getting to take on a nostalgic flavor, this stable and quiet experiment. We'll miss the messes mostly. Someone (make that two) to clean up after. Maybe the new happy family will hire us to come over and clean up after them anyway. Best not to offer.

I'll be taking pictures of the wedding, Lord willing. I don't think the extra flash attachment equipment will be here in time (just ordering it now). But I won't stress over it. They're not paying me, so gratis covers a multitude of goofs.

Sunday, December 2

Hotdog Buns and Honkin' Ducks

Liz's bridal shower started at 4:00 this afternoon, so I took Angel to the museum park so she could feed the ducks and take video. And did she ever get into shooting anything and everything. I'll try to coax her along in the photography department and see if she has an eye and passion for it. Both have to go together.

The photography forum I frequent always has a few newcomers who are still newbies in the photo world. Some of them look promising. Others rave about nothing more than a jumbled snapshot that lacks all the main ingredients that create a pleasing shot. They ask for a critique and may or may not get one, depending on the 'friendliness and tact' of the person who replies. I don't like to hurt people's feelings, so I've seldom answer these posts. Sorry. Guess I need to practice "telling the truth in love" more.

Angel loved feeding the ducks. A few slices of bread and two hotdog buns. She loved chasing the pigeons, so I had to tell her to stop. She ran out of bread and started teasing the ducks with the wrapper, trying to put it on their heads, I think. So I had to tell her to stop that shenannigan as well. It was time to leave. Getting dark, and I wanted some pizza.

A few "stand over by that tree" pictures punctuated the walk back to the car. Another memory made with a wonderful memory-making granddaughter. Thank you, Lord, for those precious gifts we neither deserve nor appreciate as we ought --- especially in giving your Son to live and die that we would know and love you eternally.

Friday, November 30

Spitting In God's Face

When God breathed new life into a young George Whitefield, the world was about to change in dramatic fashion. A stale Church of England, filled with unsaved church members was soon to be turned on its ear as the praying, preaching, power and passion of an unknown boy took center stage, both in England and the Colonies.

There has yet to be a man like him behind a Christian pulpit. Here is an excerpt from a book by J.B. Wakeley written in 1870.


"This tract of land, in the suburbs of London, was a place for the rabble --- for wrestlers, boxers, mountebanks, and merry-andrews --- where fairs were held during the holidays, and where at all times the idle, the dissolute, and the reprobate resorted --- those who were pests of society, and those who were being trained up to succeed them in the ways of profligacy and wretchedness. It was one of Satan's strongholds, and Mr. Whitefield concluded to attack him there.

"He needed as much courage as did Luther at the Diet of Worms. He was warned of his danger, and told that if he attempted to preach there he would never come away alive. None of these things moved him; onward he went with the tread of a conqueror. Matters looked forbidding at first, and would have intimidated any but a stout heart. The table which had been placed for him [to stand on] was broken in pieces by the crowd, and he took his stand upon a wall that divided the upper and lower Moorfields, and there preached without interruption. This became his grand battle-ground, where he carried the war into the territories of the devil. . . ."

The Great Field Day

"He began with his praying people at six in the morning, before the enemy had mustered his strength. Not less than ten thousand persons were assembled, waiting for the sports; and, having nothing else to do, they for mere pastime flocked around his little field pulpit. 'Glad was I,' said he, 'to find that for once I had to the start of the devil.' Encouraged by the success of his morning preaching he ventured there again at noon, when, in his own words, 'The fields, the whole fields, seemed, in a bad sense of the word, all white; ready not for the Redeemer's but Beelzebub's harvest. All his agents were in full motion; drummers, trumpeters, merry-andrews, masters of puppet-shows, exhibitors of wild beasts, players, etc., etc., all busy in entertaining their respective auditors.' He estimated the crowd at from twenty to thirty thousand,and thinking that, like St. Paul, he should now in a metaphorical sense be called to fight with the wild beasts, he took for his text, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians.' 'You may easily guess,' said he, 'that there was some noise among the craftsmen, and that I was honored with having a few stones, dirt, rotten eggs, and dead cats thrown at me while engaged in calling them from their favorite but lying vanities. My soul was indeed among lions; but far the greatest part of my congregation, which was very large, seemed for awhile to be turned into lambs.'

"Whitefield then gave notice he would preach there again at six in the evening. 'I came,' he says, 'I saw --- but what? Thousands upon thousands more, if possible, still more deeply engaged in their unhappy diversions, but some thousands among them waiting as earnestly to hear the Gospel. One of Satan's choicest servants was exhibiting, trumpeting on a large stage; but as soon as the people saw me in my black robes ascend the pulpit I think all to a man left him and ran to me. For awhile I was enabled to lift up my voice like a trumpet, and many heard the joyful sound. God's people kept praying, and the enemy's agents made a kind of roaring some distance from our camp. At length they approached nearer, and the merry-andrew, attended by others who complained they had taken many pounds less that day on account of my preaching, got upon a man's shoulders, and advancing near the pulpit, attempted several times to slash me with a long heavy whip, but always, from the violence of his motion, tumbled down.' Soon after they got a recruiting officer, with his drums, fifes and followers, to pass through the congregation.

"But Whitefield by his tactics baffled this maneuver; he ordered them to make way for the king's officers. The ranks opened, and when the party had marched closed again. When the uproar became, as it sometimes did, such as to overpower his single voice, he called the voices of all his people to his aid, and began singing; and thus, what with singing, praying, and preaching, he continued, by his own account, three hours upon the ground, till the darkness made it time to break up.

"So great was the impression which this wonderful man produced during this extraordinary scene that more than a thousand notes were handed up to him from persons who had been awakened that day, and three hundred and fifty persons joined his congregation. It was a splendid triumph, a stupendous victory, and that on the enemy's favorite ground . . . It is no wonder John Angell James, who was a great admirer of Mr. Whitefield, says, 'No such scenes since the Day of Pentecost under the sermon Peter preached as those of Whitefield's great field-day.' Never had he a grander day. Never did he exhibit greater heroism. It not only demonstrated his courage, but it exhibited his overwhelming eloquence . . . It was one of the most splendid days of his life."

Let me also add, for those readers who think Whitefield was like so many modern evangelists --- full of himself, that his humility exceeded his success. He said of himself, "Let the name of Whitefield perish." That prayer has been answered to a large degree. Few remember him and how God used him to change two countries. America was founded on the moral and spiritual legacy of the Great Awakening in the early 1700's. It's many blessings flowed from those early years of honoring God's Word and His Son. But, alas, the glory has departed, and she finds herself adrift on a sea of the bitter consequences of spitting in the face her Creator.

Saturday, November 24

The Other "Native Americans"

I found the following information when doing research on the Irish persecutions in America, Philadelphia particularly. There is an obvious contemporary parallel. This excerpt is from the book History of the American Party published in 1855, which recounts their Preamble and Constitution written in 1837.

“On the 4th of July, 1776, our forefathers proclaimed to the world the independence of these United States, and the equal right of all its citizens to the free and fair pursuit of happiness: on that day they affixed their names to that document, the most illustrious ever penned by the hand of man, and pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour,’ to the support of the same.

“In 1790, a law for the encouragement of emigration was enacted, holding out certain inducements to the foreigner to come and make his abode amongst us; among others, he is entitled, after five years’ residence, to the right of suffrage, and thereby a representation in our councils. Of this we are now convened to complain. While, at the same time, we invite the stranger, worn down by oppression at home, to come and share with us the blessings of our native land—here find an asylum for his distress, and partake of the plenty a kind Providence has so bountifully given us, we deny his right (hereby meaning as foreigner any emigrant who may hereafter arrive in our country) to have a voice in our legislative halls, his eligibility to office under any circumstances, and we ask a repeal of that Naturalization Law, which, it must be apparent to every reflective mind, to every true son of America, has now become an evil. This we ask not so much for ourselves, as for our children. It needs no logic to prove how rapidly increasing is the foreign influence, even now by far too powerful in our country; and the day must come, and , we fear, is not far distant, when most of our offices will be held by foreigners—men who have no sympathy with the spirit of our institutions, who have never sacrificed aught to procure the blessings they enjoy, and instead of governing ourselves, as is our native-born right, we shall be governed by men, many of whom, but a few short years previously, scarcely knew of our existence. Is this the way to secure and perpetuate the freedom for which our ancestors bled and died? No, Americans, no! Let us come forward, then and prove that the spirit of ’76 is not yet extinct, and that we are not degenerate sons of worthy sires. Let us crush this rising power: it has already blossomed, let us destroy it in the bud, ere the fruit reach maturity.

“We have said that this law was an evil. At the present moment it is particularly so; for Europe is industriously ridding herself of an excess of population now become burdensome to her. And whom does she send? Her paupers, her convicts, the outpourings of her almshouses and jails. Even lately has a would-be-regicide been landed on your shores by a national vessel. We beseech you, by the shades of the heroes of the Revolution, to blot out this foul stain from our escutcheon, and leave the field as pure and bright as ever. The emigrants from Europe are principally of that class who, discontented and oppressed at home, leave there, filled with all the requisite materials to spread among our citizens anarchy, radicalism, and rebellion. Greedy of power, and regardless of civil restraint, they come to the land consecrated by the blood of our ancestors, ignorant of our customs, caring nothing for our laws, and strangers to all those essential qualities so necessary in self-government, and so indispensable to our existence as a free and happy people.

“Now, honestly and seriously entertaining the opinion that, by a repeal of the Naturalization Law, all the foregoing evils, with many others, would be removed, and believing that this object can never be effected by either of the great political parties of the day, singly, we, the American-born citizens of Germantown township [Philadelphia], and its vicinity, without any distinction as to political creed or religious faith, do unite together in an association to co-operate with all other similar institutions of native Americans, in order to obtain a repeal of the Naturalization Law, by all honourable means in our power.”

The Declaration of Principles
Of the American Republican Associations

"1st. We maintain that the naturalization laws should be so altered as to require of all foreigners, who may hereafter arrive in this country, a residence of twenty-one years, before granting the privilege of the elective franchise; but at the same time, we distinctly declare that it is not our intention to interfere with the vested rights of any citizen, or lay any obstruction in the way of foreigners obtaining a livelihood or acquiring property in this country; but, on the contrary, we would grant them the right to purchase, hold, and transfer property, and to enjoy and participate in all the benefits of our country (except that of voting and holding office), as soon as they declare their intentions to become citizens.

"2nd. We maintain that the Bible, without note or comment, is not sectarian—that it is the fountain-head of morality and all good government, and should be used in our public schools as a reading book.

"3rd. We are opposed to a union of church and state in any and every form.

"4th. We hold that native Americans, only, should be appointed to office, to legislate, administer, or execute the laws of their own country."

In 1844, Philadelphia suffered the worst Irish riots in their history. Two dozen were killed, neighborhoods burned and the instigating Irish took no responsibility. However, the popular belief that "No Irish Need Apply" when it came to jobs is challenged by Richard Jensen in his thoroughly researched article here: No Irish Need Apply - The Myth of Victimization

Thursday, November 22

One More Thanksgiving

Angel's Thanksgiving morning began after everyone else was up. My day began in the front yard, digging up an old brick border that had been overgrown with grass and moving it back a few feet using a different pattern. Had to fill in the resulting trench with topsoil, hoping new grass will cover it in a little less than a month. Yeah, right. Some new seed might help.

Then it was time to turn under the weeds in the flower bed, rake, sweep and come in for breakfast sometime during this whole endeavor. Angel enjoyed her bacon and eggs and huge cinnamon bun (except for the 'crunchy', dark bottom). Barb cleaned up the kitchen, getting ready to cook the bird and heat the dinner (we bought a package deal this year). Liz cleaned the bathroom. I cleaned the living room and washed windows. We were having a guest for our 2 p.m. dinner.

Mild California November sunshine graced the day. Angel wore her new dress and complained about the itchy long stockings while trying to find something to do. She played computer games, played in the street with a new remote control car (for about 5 minutes), dragged out her SpongeBob Game of Life and beat her mother on the first round.

Uncle Bob came and enjoyed the first good meal (he said) since we had him over the last time. Poor guy. We heard a number of his old 'growing up on the farm' stories, which I never get tired of. Especially the one where his father is looking through the bedroom window during a 1936 lightning storm one night in Iowa. Kids in bed in the other room. Lightning struck the huge oak tree outside, came down the eaves and wall, came inside and struck Bob's dad in the elbow as he was holding on to the iron bed, made two perfect 1/4 inch holes in the bed and shot backward, right over his wife's head and caught her hair on fire. Then it went through the room to the front room windows before exiting and grounding outside. Bob's dad's forearm was split in two, along with three of his finders exploding at their ends. Yeow! Didn't have any strength in that arm afterward. A few years later, the house would burn to the ground.

After dinner and Uncle Bob's leaving, Liz, Barb and Angel played clue.

Let's all be thankful for the many providential blessings of preservation in our own lives today of all days. Speaking of which, the following read will confirm your belief that God is in control. The Old Jersey Captive by Thomas Andros. The Revolutionary War English prison ships were hell-holes anchored off the coast of Long Island. Andros was taken prisoner, then escaped. This is the wonderful firsthand account of the horrible ship conditions, his escape and care while he tried to get back home to Connecticut.

Wednesday, November 21

Staten Island Sandhills

A morning trip north to Staten Island presented plenty of fowl life for my camera to capture. Unfortunately, just like the trip to Stone Lakes Preserve, my generic telephoto lens let me down again. But something is better than nothing, and it's always fun to see and hear these creatures in person, especially the Sandhill cranes.

Staten Island is out in the Delta, northwest of Lodi and just a few miles east of Walnut Grove. These are protected wilderness areas on private land, so you can't just wander willy-nilly. Have to stay on the dead-end road that runs its length. I heard a few shotgun blasts. Thousands of geese to choose from for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! I think it was the guy who drove down a side road and flushed a huge herd of Sandhill cranes (you can barely see his truck in one of the shots).

I went out Woodbridge Road on the way back where there's a little drive-out loop and viewing area right off the road. Hardly any birds there, though. But on the way back, I pulled off the road to catch hundreds of cranes in someone's front yard. That's a lot of poop for your crop.

I only identified a few birds and didn't use my field glasses for that purpose. Snow geese, Whistling swans, Canvasback ducks, Least sandpipers, Coots, a single Whitetailed kite and some common perennials. Didn't stay long. Didn't take too many pictures. Didn't have a flat. Didn't go far - only 60 miles roundtrip.

Tuesday, November 20

Making the Old New

I confess: I hate to spend money! Especially when I don't have any. My inherited miserliness has been an inventor's tool through the years, and I've found ways to stretch the unstretchable and use that pioneer spirit to 'make do.'

I bought a wonderful, plastic leaf rake in about 1986. Man, it was the best --- wide and strong and just the right snap to it. But after years of abuse the poor friend started wearing out --- literally. The right angle tines got shorter and shorter. Some of them would completely break.

About two years ago I went rake shopping at Meek's Lumber. They were having a sale. Their sale rake was a cheap wire affair that felt weird. Their next in line had an extra thick handle with foam on it, but weighed about 5 pounds. I tried using it at the store and my arm started hurting! I left without a new rake. It was time to revitalize Ol' Betsy. The picture says it all. Nothing easier than using a fireplace lighter and pair of wide-grip pliers when the tine is toasted just right! The only problem is that this weakens the plastic at the bend and the ends may pop off if you catch them on something immovable. I lost three today raking backyard leaves. Oh, well, I saved $20, which is what I paid to get the oil changed in the car earlier this morning.

Another thing I'm revitalizing is the memory of my g-g-grandfather, William (Billy) Burk(e), who fought in the Civil War. The research has been challenging, but thanks to the Internet and Google Books, I'm collecting tons of info that can be used to put things in perspective and give a pretty accurate look at the life and times of a man I've never seen. Most Americans are clueless about early Irish Americans and the drama, sacrifice, and importance of those years. Not that an obscure memoir is going to make a difference. But who knows?

Friday, November 16

Celebrity Daze

Back in the days when Paso Robles was only a pitstop between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the crew from Rawhide was in town filming. Eric Fleming (Gil Favor), Paul Brineger (Wishbone), James Murdock (Mushy) and Clint Eastwood (Rowdy Yates) and the others camped out at the the Continental Wayside Inn after shooting in the hills some miles out of town. The town was buzzing about the honor and glory of hosting such a show, while certain crazed fans (including my aunt Naomi) followed the stars to the set for a more personal look.

I have to admit, this stargazing roped me and my cousin in one night as well. We decided to drive south a few miles to the motel and see everyone while they quenched their thirst at the local saloon. Seems that the management yielded to the request for lower lighting. You had to have cat vision to see anyone's face. And since it was unpolite to stare, we just glanced around while having a beer (I think we had a beer, maybe not). Must have been a short beer if we did, because there were no introductions, no autographs, no smiles. Just a two minute, perfunctory, one-two-buckle-your-shoe sort of visit by two stupid kids wanting to experience a brush with celebrity.

I just figured it out. There was no beer. We were both still teenagers. Guess that explains the whole thing right there!

Sunday, November 11

Eternity When?

The phone rang early this morning, but I didn't hear it. It was Liz's fiance, calling from an hour away. They had been in an accident and Liz was in the hospital. Ambulance, neck brace, x-rays. She and her girlfriend were sitting in the back of the car at a stop when someone plowed into them from behind. Barb took the call, but didn't wake me.

Thankfully, she wasn't hurt seriously. But she could have been. Not a very big stretch from a rear-ender to an end-lifer. Our assumed years may abruptly cross the finish line, and we will enter eternity without a second's warning.

May a gracious God have mercy on us --- while we are still in the land of the living: There will be no mercy on the other side.

"Jesus answered [Nicodemus] and said unto him, 'Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" John 3:3

Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.

Thursday, November 1

The Cat's Meow

Poor Jack did NOT enjoy Liz's sports car swerving through downtown to the local Animal Shelter. His mournful meows didn't stop us from reaching our destination and long line of 20 or more dogs, cats and owners in front of us. We needed a rabies shot, a license and a microchip for the old guy. Yes, cats have to be licensed and microchipped here now! What a ripoff! I knew it. And Jack knew it!

Everyone was eager to talk about their pet while we were in line, of course. Puppies, kittens, St. Bernard to Pitbull --- they were there --- slobbering and pulling at their leashes. There was even this runt of the litter, black Pitbull. A little darling --- soon to grow up into a little Hitler on four legs, no doubt!

We finally turned the corner where the 'volunteer' vet was staged behind a small, very small toweled table outside the shelter. To his left were the three money changers who distributed the license and other tags. Everyone was very friendly and eager to accept cash or checks - both without I.D. Liz coaxed Jack back into his carrier (no easy proposition), I wrote the check and got the tags, and we were outta there!

What we won't do to keep the law - even if it's robbery on the scale of the ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 17

Rain, Rain . . .

Rain, rain, don't go away!
The Peripheral Canal is coming our way.
Global warming will save the day!
Rain and more rain - hip, hip, hooray!

A few early season rains have transformed this parched wilderness into a proverbial paradise. Well, not quite. "Valley Paradise" is quite oxymoronic, actually. Plant, grow, water, exotic-fy all you want --- the Valley will never come close, unless your definition includes fog, smog and bog (as in adobe clay).

Thursday, October 11

Quipping Right Along

"We have seen the enemy and he is us!" quipped Pogo. The enemy is currently sporting the guises of "ho-hum, who cares?" and "can't we all just get along?" Zero tolerance is condemned and "turn the other cheek" is lauded.

There are a few more things you should know about big media and its sexually "correct" reporting: San Francisco, September 30, 2007.

There are a few photos you must see from this event: San Francisco, September 30, 2007.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself. There are a few things you have to do. The war is real. Ephesians 6:12

Oh, and don't forget to tune into your favorite channel, where coming soon to your living room is: New TV Ad

Saturday, October 6

New Dip Stick

My gas gauge showed just a whisker under 1/4 tank, so I figured it must have been the fuel pump when the poor beast started sputtering and gasping while driving home from work yesterday. About 1/2 mile from a huge intersection close to the house, I maneuvered from the fast to slow lane and had to coast around the corner to the right. Didn't want to end up in the turn lane with a dead, old, delapidated, jalopy that had to be hand pushed out of the way! Thankfully, I could coast a block and out of traffic before walking home to call AAA towing.

The guy was nice. They ALL are, and believe me, I've had lots of experience with them! Got her home and went to the parts store to order a fuel pump and buy a filter. Then we went to a lousy fish and chips dinner, where Liz and Angel met us for gabbing.

I thought it just might be a gas guage problem instead, so put gas in it this morning. Fired right up, so problem solved. Got my money back on the fuel pump order which hadn't been called in yet, thankfully. Cleaned the connectors on the back of the gauge. At first it jumped around when you wiggled the wires, but then finally gave out completely.

You know the long rod that swivels and runs the gears that move your venetian blinds? That's my new gas guage. Works great. Filed a 2 gallon mark on it and now it's back to the races!

Sunday, September 30

There was no little love for this assassinated President, Abraham Lincoln, in 1865. A war victory, freedom for slaves, a secure Union, and many other accomplishments won him the admiration and love of the many. Though far from perfect, often criticized and unattractive, the poor man's humility and love for country overruled any lasting hatred, at least in the North.

News of his death spread around the world, and representatives from great and little known points wrote their condolences, many recorded in the House of Representatives Listing of Documents for the year 1865-1866. The Appendix of Diplomatic Correspondence includes over 700 pages. Here's a sample from a New York National Guard unit:

My great-great grandfather, William J. Burk signed the document you'll find here:

You can find the most surprising things on the Internet!

Thursday, September 27

Shocky Racoon

Last night's big adventure began with Liz being stared down by a huge racoon that had jumped onto our roof. Tempted by the neighbor's catfood and our cat's waterbowl, this errant creature was probably looking for dessert --- maybe some pigeon eggs or pigeon parents, which are common in our area (but not at our address).

So how does a racoon find itself in the middle of a city of 300,000 people? Pretty easy if you have rivers, lakes, levees, train tracks and huge parks.

The girls let me sleep while they trailed it to the neighbor's front porch. But then it scooted back over (under?) our fence into the backyard. I didn't hear about it until this morning or I would have snapped a picture of the critter (the one above was borrowed from the Internet). Maybe we'll go coon hunting tonight with Angel!

Life goes on. Expect some excitement here and there.

Friday, September 21

Finally Friday

This week's work grind is finally over. Not complaining, but it sure feels good to relax with nothing much planned for the weekend. Supposed to rain tomorrow anyway. I'll probably head for the flea marked before everyone gets up (unless it's raining).

So why am I writing this drollish drool and wasting your time? Good question, for which I don't have a ready answer (remember the inanity of the moment). But you're still reading. You're wondering, "Where's he going with this drivel?"

Okay, I thought of something:


1. Don't grab the muffler on your lawn mower when you're trying to find the carburetor. Your fingers will start sizzling before you realize your predicament. It will hurt more than anything you've ever experienced. It will make you feel like an idiot. It will remove your fingerprints. Your fingers will look like raw meat.

2. Keep your mouth shut as much as possible when you're asked to share your thoughts in a peer group of mostly strangers. You're not as smart as you used to be.

Saturday, September 15

This Stingy Heart in a Smallish World

Electrical technology in the form of the Internet has certainly transformed our once wide-world into a one-click-away existence.

Liz just called wanting to know the address of the Burlington Coat Factory in Modesto. Clicking from an article on Providential Preservation of the New Testament to my home page (Google) and entering Burlington Coat Factory Modesto, the first hit included its address and a map of all surrounding streets and freeways. Took maybe 30 seconds. She is driving through Modesto, calls me and I become her online 'operator' for less than a minute. Pretty cool and revolutionary compared to the world we grew up in just a few short years ago.

Unfortunately, this profusion of knowledge leads to a delusion of knowledge that says, "Technology brings the power of total independence. Why do I need you when I have the Internet, MacDonalds, a Hummer, HDTV and and iPod?" And the ultimate delusion when we ask, "Why do I need God?"

The Old Testament prophesy in the Book of Daniel about 'knowledge shall increase' in the last days certainly rings true if it includes secular intelligence. Judgment may be around the corner. In fact, it's here: God has given us up to a love of pornography, unnatural lust, adultery, hatred, murder, stealing, laziness, caring only about ourselves and the endless list of those things God hates.

Here's one of the best messages I've heard on why we need a Savior.

Sunday, September 9


My poor fingers after cleaning are transformed from a completely oily black to a semblance of normal, except for the the nicely framed fingernails and bloody scrapes. The two month wait for parts and repair of the old Chevy pickup is over finally. An eight hour stretch of replacing the cylinder head, exhaust, carb, and disconnected electrical stuff ended in success (to a point). The mechanic apparently used another head he found and the spark plug holes are too small for my original plugs to be tightened with a socket. Won't fit. He'll get a call tomorrow!

But it runs (plier tightened plugs notwithstanding). Timing needs correcting a bit. Minor valve cover and hose leak. That's all so far. Emphasis on 'so far'.

Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom, strength and perseverance to finish this job, in spite of laziness and indecision along the way.

Monday, September 3

The Demise of Roadside Art

Old Hwy 99 that streamed through here until the freeway was built, drove the motel business through the roof. Roadside restaurants opened and thrived. But most of the old stuff has been abandoned, replaced or in disrepair.

Some of the vintage signage remains above the pavement, preserving a mid-twentieth century style that will soon disintegrate and vanish with most things nostalgic. We have a book that sits on the coffee table to entertain our 'older' friends. The author traversed America, looking for those special neon and oddly shaped signs to photograph. You've probably seen a few of them in your travels as well.

An era has ended. Take those pictures! Your grandkids will get a good laugh out of them.

Saturday, September 1

The Train Museum in Sacramento is a world-class American history lesson that even appeals to non-train buffs. New exhibits, bright, shiny cars and engines, models, numerous wax-made workers and presentations keep you busy taking pictures during your visit. An outdoor train station and working steam passenger train let you experience 19th century transportation first hand.

Ryan, Liz and Angel came back with great stories of what they saw. After spending time in the museum, they walked and shopped around Old Town Sacramento, which is all to eager to get your money. Located right on the Sacramento River, a taste of nostalgia (albeit, we weren't born in its heyday) is in the air while rambling over the boardwalks and cobblestone streets.

Sunday, August 19

Those Clever Trilobites

Imagine the Pre-Cambrian strata bereft of fossils (except for a few types of algae), then immediately, suddenly and shockingly the Cambrian explodes on top of it (but not always on top) with all sorts of highly developed, complex and complicated creatures, including the 'lowly' Trilobite.

There are no simple, non-complex animals in the Cambrian rock layers when evolutionary logic demands them. Why?

Let's look at the Trilobite (I'm capitalizing the word because of its unique importance). Supposedly 600 million years old according to evolutionist Norman Macbeth speaking at Harvard University in 1983, this little creature had extremely complex eyes. He said, "If you examine them closely, you will find that they are not simple animals. They are small, but they have an eye that has been discussed a great deal in recent years - an eye that is simply incredible.

[Still quoting]"It is made up of dozens of little tubes which are all at slightly different angles so that it covers the entire field of vision, with a different tube pointing at each spot on the horizon. But these tubes are all more complicated than that, by far. They have a [calcite] lens on them that is optically arranged in a very complicated way, and it is bound into another layer that has to be just exactly right for them to see anything . . . But the more complicated it is, the less likely it is simply to have grown up out of nothing.

[Still quoting]"And this situation has troubled everybody from the beginning [since learning about it] - to have everything at the very opening of the drama. The curtain goes up [life forms first appear in the Cambrian strata] and you have the players on the stage already, entirely in modern costumes." --- quoted in L.D. Sunderland's Darwin's Enigma (1988), p. 150.

The February 2, 1974 issue of Science News said the Trilobite had "the most sophisticated eye lenses ever produced by nature."

To top it off, we're not talking about a single lens in the eye-tube. There were TWO lenses. Evolutionist Riccardo Levi-Setti in Trilobites, 2nd ed., Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993, pp. 54, 57 said this: "In fact, this optical doublet is a device so typically associated with human invention that its discovery in trilobites comes as something of a shock. The realization that trilobites developed and used such devices half a billion years ago makes the shock even greater. And a final discovery - that the refracting interface between the two lense elements in a trilobite's eye was designed in accordance with optical constructions worked out by Descartes and Huygens in the mid-seventeenth century - borders on sheer science fiction ... The design of the trilobite's eye lens could well qualify for a patent disclosure."

So, let's see: Some mindless evolutionary force used chance and trial and error to develop a simple Trilobite light-sensitive lobe, then later a simple eye, then later a single lens Trilobite eye, then later (we're talking the mandatory millions and millions of years here) adding a tube for that eye, then later adding a calcite lens, then later adding a second lens because the first one couldn't focus, then later adding more tubes with more lenses, then having optimized the process leaving it at that. That's some doing when we're talking about a force energized by chance mutations.

And where are all the trial and error fossils that led to that 'incredible' eye? There ain't any. And there ain't any because there never were any.

Saturday, August 11


Another baking project produced an exquisitely designed blueberry pie, ready for . . . neither baking nor eating --- it was the PlayDough variety. Never one to just sit and do nothing, this little one is a doer, a model task-mistress and busybody (in the good sense). We're happy to have her around.

I watched her for a few hours today as Barb went to visit Liz at the hospital, while Liz was waiting for Ryan's emergency surgery on his appendix. Everything was successful, thankfully, so far. No insurance, though.

So I watched and mowed and watched and fixed the creaking bottom bracket on my bike, and watched and watered in the backyard, and watched some more. She was playing with the next door kids out front. Only had to yell at her a few times!

Yes, God is watching us and lovingly yelling at us when we goof up. It hurts and feels good at the same time.