Thursday, July 30, 2009

It was ever so pleasant, this morning, just sitting on the porch listening to the rain. It’s a sound I had almost forgotten with our drought. The moisture leaching, searing sun has shriveled my energy and my yard to a prune during the past few weeks. The poor yard had totally forgotten the healing power of the rain as ever blade of grass has struggled to survive in the parched earth aided only by my anemic watering routine.

The sound was so good I alternated from the open front porch to my enclosed fortress of solitude that was once a back porch. The temperature was so wonderfully cool and the dark skies such a welcome sight from the intense glare of the sun that I just sat savoring every minute of this refreshing relief from the misery of the summer heat.

Every time it rains like this and I get to sit on the porch, I think about my uncle who lived near my favorite place in South East Texas. He was a farmer and depended a lot on the rain. After he got too old for farming he would sit on the porch a lot. He often had a shotgun across his lap waiting for any bird that would dare invade his garden. He liked to comment that he was just sitting there waiting for it to rain because he was too lazy to get up for a drink of water. He was a great hunter of squirrels and a marvelous storyteller. I loved to listen to him on the porch. He enjoyed telling about the time he went to college. He went to A&M for a weekend course in his younger days and said the only thing he remembered was seeing a baboon. It’s the first time he had actually seen a wild jungle animal. He was a big reader and far more knowledgeable than most college graduates. That uncle was my role model for retirement. He has been gone for a number of years now but I think about him every time it rains and I am on the porch. The rain not only revives the earth, it resurrects fond memories.

I guess we will now fall back into our routine of cloudless skies, triple digit temperatures and watering. The rain was a welcome stranger this morning and made porch sitting even more enjoyable. To jog the memory bank about my uncle with stories about baboons and country tales is about as good as it gets.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The last blog touched on the subject of religion and a news item yesterday gives cause for a little more reflection on the subject. There are two schools of thought regarding the creation, the evolutionist and the creationist. The creationist believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible and that the world was created in six days about 6000 years ago. The evolutionist believe we have evolved to where we are today over several million years.

The founding father of the evolutionist was Charles Darwin. These folks believe we came from a one cell organism that started in the sea and that the fish are our most distant ancestors. This theory was shaken this week by recent discoveries in South China. Fossils in that part of the world suggest that we may not have evolved from the fish but actually started on land. The new idea is that one cell organisms were present on land about three billion years ago and then about six million years ago more complex organisms with multiple cells made their appearance. Even if we did arise from organisms that started on land this doesn’t clarify the problem for me.

I have always thought that our main problem is with the concept of time. With God there is no such thing as time. A day may be as a thousand years with the Almighty. Even though man like creatures have been around for thousands of years that doesn’t mean they possessed a soul anymore that my sweet departed collie dog. Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon Man have been here and date back to more than 50,000 years. The Bible mentions that God breathed a breath of life into this guy named Adam and he became a living soul. Adam was the first creature to have a soul and this started all of our trouble. We still seem to be in the process of evolving because I encounter many ape like creatures every day who are functioning like humans. WalMart is full of them.

There are a lot of things even more mysterious about the Biblical account of things. It’s believed that the Garden of Eden was somewhere in Iraq near Baghdad and the Holy City is Jerusalem. From what I can tell on TV these are pretty miserable and dreary places. I don’t know how God could have overlooked places like Waco or even Del Rio, Texas for these chosen sites. As the seat of learning for the Baptist church, Waco has to be one of the most Holy Cities in the world.

Science doesn’t have the answer to my questions and the Bible creates even more unanswered ones. I ponder all these things on the porch but probably won’t have the answers until the afterlife. All I know now is that the very, very complex mechanisms in the world like the human body must have had a master architect rather than just happen from a bunch of amino acids coming together out of nowhere. Where did the nowhere come from and why did some of us apes develop a sense of right and wrong called a conscience?

Monday, July 27, 2009

The news this week is a little like the weather, very dry. I can’t recall the weather being this hot and dry for such an extended period of time. There is little in the news. Continued killing and unrest in Afghanistan and the Middle East is about it. Not anyone notable has died and there is really no one left after the demise of Michael Jackson since he was the King.

With the paucity of news it’s time to reflect on my favorite author, Mark Twain. I fell in love with Mark Twain after a course in college. I have collected all of his works and read most of it several times. A bust of Mark Twain adorns the entrance hall of our home.

The religion of Mark Twain has always been a subject of debate. There is no question that he was a student of the Bible. He was raised as a Presbyterian but a great critic of the church. He was mostly a critic of mans interpretation of religion and hypocrisy.

I was recently reminded about his remark regarding faith. “There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain't so.” He also had this to say about faith. “Nobody deserves to be helped who don't try to help himself, and "faith without works" is a risky doctrine.” That is a pretty conservative statement by the great man.

There is no question that he believed in the one named Jesus and his message. Twain’s problem was in how everyone else interpreted and corrupted that message. This is what he has to say about the Nazarene. “If I could, I would make such havoc among the shams of Palestine that I would leave little there for men to feast their eyes and feed their fancies upon save the Hill of Calvary, and the lesson it carries to the most careless heart that pulses in its presence. I would leave it to tell of Him who suffered there, and to suggest the picture of the Crucifixion more vividly than the multitude of its surroundings, which are at best of questionable holiness, can ever do. All things must pass away but that one Figure, and when they do, the world will be none the loser for it. ... the Teacher of Nazareth, standing upon the height of Calvary -- sacred because the theatre of the noblest self-sacrifice man has yet conceived -- shall say to them that mourn this desolation, "Peace! I am the Resurrection and the Life!"

I am sure no preacher and a poor attendee of church but I appreciate Mark Twain’s views on religion. Reading Tom Sawyer’s experience in church is priceless stuff.

As I have said before, the one person I would most like to visit with on the porch would be the Nazarene himself. Mark Twain would be my next choice. I hope to see Twain in the next life to get a few good laughs but he may be in a different camp because he didn’t especially like the company of most Christians.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A big story this week is about the arrest of the black Harvard Scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. Apparently the arrest was a mistake and Gates is now claiming racism was the reason he was cuffed. The arrest was made by a model police offer who has a stellar record and is a decorated officer. He had been chosen by his black police chief to teach other offices about racial profiling. President Obama has weighed in on the controversy and made the statement at a press conference that the “police acted stupidly.”

I don’t think we know all the facts about the case and it’s unfortunate that Obama has now fanned the flames of racism. I’m sure that we will soon hear from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton calling for the lynching of the police office and the freeing of all black prisoners in the US.

Apparently, the police received a call that two black men were seen breaking into this house in Cambridge. The police responded and confronted Gates. Unfortunately, Gates was in his own house and wasn’t the burglar. The policeman claims that Gates was arrested after he became belligerent and started making derogatory remarks. Gates stated that the arrest was made because of racism.

At this point, I don’t know enough facts to make a judgment and I suspect the President didn’t have all the facts. I just hate that Obama made a statement about the matter because the nations entire police force has come down in support of the officer and the President may have egg in his face.

I suspect the fact that Gates is a Harvard Scholar had more to do with the arrest than racism. In my experience, scholars can be very arrogant and consider themselves above the law. Harvard Scholars have got to be the worse. The so-called scholar can be a real jackass. Most of these egg-heads think that the rest of us are dummies. I can imagine some of the remarks he must have made to the poor officer. The fact that Gates is a Black Harvard Scholar makes him even more likely to be an arrogant jerk and to consider himself above the law. Of course, none of this will ever be mentioned in the investigation of the matter. The poor officer is the loser and he might as well resign now before they start burning buildings in Cambridge and have riots in the street.

I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with any scholars on the porch. They are a rare breed in this part of the country. The few that I have encountered can sure be obnoxious and I really feel sorry for the poor cop in Cambridge.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I have always been fascinated with astronomy. Just to look up into the night sky, in the country, where there are no lights is a sight to behold. It’s impossible to even imagine the number of stars and to think about their distance from earth is mind-boggling. It’s been years since the light we now see from a star even reaches our eye. We are talking about millions and millions of light years away. Light travels at 186,000 miles a second and that means many of those stars are a very long way from us. These are all elementary school subjects but astronomy is far from elementary school stuff. Astronomy also poses some tough questions for theologians. To think we are the only ones out there in this vast universe is a complex problem. We are pretty arrogant or stupid to think we are alone.

Why am I reviewing all of this? The above photo is one that scares me. Astronomy is a pretty scary subject. The photo shows an asteroid impacting Jupiter. If that happened to us on earth it could be like a multi-megaton bomb hitting the planet and could make an atomic explosion seem like a pop-gun. The problem is that the universe we live in is like a shooting gallery with earth as the target. It’s estimated that there over 6,000 asteroids out there that could potentially collide with us.

Many science fiction movies and stories may not be all that far-fetched. A giant rock could be heading our way. The good thing is that it might settle all our disputes. The Taliban, Iran, and Korea would all suddenly be of no great importance to us. Even the economic problems and healthcare reform would no longer be issues.

We are celebrating our 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Many people have complained about the cost of the project and even suggested that NASA be abolished. All of this may be a lifesaver. If we hope to save ourselves from an asteroid bullet it will be through the efforts of our space program. The most likely defense will be to send a rocket to intercept and destroy the big rock with an atomic explosion. Another defense is to send a satellite that will attach to the asteroid and change its course.

My porch is under a canopy of oak trees that block my view of the night sky. At least I won’t see the asteroid as it makes its way through the heavens to wipe us off the planet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The news has been rather dull for the past few days. It’s the fortieth anniversary of the Moon landing which is about as exciting to the youth of today as going to WalMart or church. It’s much more exciting for them to go see “Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen” or some other movie featuring their favorite star, Explosion. The new Harry Potter movie is out and it’s pretty good. Harry Potter now needs a shave and Ron is love struck by a potion. We learn about a Horcrux and the dark magic associated with creating them and the evil of dividing your soul as only Voldermort can do. The character Horace Slughorn is introduced and reveals some pertinent information about the evil Lord Voldemort. All this is the most exciting news of the week.

Deaths are out of the news this week after such a recent over dose related to the demise of Michael Jackson. It’s sad to see Dumbledore die in the movie. The only notable folks to die were Walter Cronkite and Frank McCourt. These guys were not nearly as newsworthy as Michael Jackson. Cronkite was the respectable unbiased voice of journalism. His successor, Dan Rather, changed all that and was a very biased jerk. This led to his downfall and discredited much of the network news coverage. Rather should have been on CNN.

Frank MeCourt was a teacher who used beautiful words to describe a horrible childhood in Ireland filled with poverty, starvation and an alcoholic father. The book was depressing but masterfully written. This work of literary art doesn’t compare to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, so McCourt’s death is reported in the obituary page rather the headlines and a days worth of prime time TV.

Of course, the celebration of the Moon Landing is no big news and is not nearly as important as celebrating the Moon Walk by Michael Jackson. To me the moon landing was a big deal even though we didn’t find anything but a bunch of rocks. I had always hoped that someone lived on the other side of the moon like in the comic strip Dick Tracy.

There is not even any news with the weather. The weatherman’s job in July and August is pretty boring. It’s the same report for two months straight, temperature over 100 degrees and no rain.

Even the war and foreign news is quiet. Is Hillary Clinton still Secretary of State? There is hardly any news about her except that she broke her arm.

Anyway, the recent news could have been covered by the Maytag Man. I’m thinking that this may be a good time to get CBS or CNN to do a news story on the deer menace in Salado. They could get some good coverage from the porch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Every time the space shuttle is set to launch it is beset with a multitude of problems which results in delay. Most recently, the delay was due to thunderstorms and lightening. If it’s not the weather it’s something else like; hydrogen leaks, tiles falling off the shuttle, electrical problems, etc., etc.

NASA’s problems with the space shuttle are nothing compared to the problems we have when leaving for a trip. I don’t venture off the porch much anymore except to go to the post office or to the grocery store because it’s too much trouble. In the past we have gone to New Mexico or Branson once a year but the week trip takes a months preparation. For a month in advance, my spouse is washing and mending every garment in the closet in preparation for the week away from home. I usually have the car inspected with at least an oil change or tire rotation but the car inspection usually reveals some major problem that cost at least a thousand dollars to repair. Most recently, it was a steering box and a defective seal in the rear end. The part only cost a few dollars but the labor is out of sight. Then, numerous other things always seem to break as we are ready to depart, such as the sprinkling system when we are in the middle of a drought or the air conditioning when the temperature has been 110 degrees for the past month. NASA has nothing on me as far as delays and mechanical problems.

Packing for even a short trip is also a problem. We literally take everything except the kitchen sink. I have more computer power and electronics than the astronauts had on the original trip to the moon. We are ready for everything. We have more to entertain us than Disney World and enough medical supplies to perform an operation or set up an ICU. My spouse doesn’t always like the linens in the places we stay so we take a fresh supply of sheets, blankets and even a bedspread. The grocery store has to restock after we empty the place into the back of our vehicle and into our portable refrigerator.

So, with all the problems it’s no wonder why I like to stay on the porch and be an armchair tourist. My age and physical problems also limit my travels. It’s all just in time, because GM and the other automakers are about to abandon the manufacture of SUVs. That for sure, spells the end for me. I need a full size SUV or an 18-wheeler just for a weekend get away. Just going to the post office is excitement enough for me. I get to meet all sorts of interesting people and the parking lot of the post office in our little town of Salado is like the LA Freeway. So, I’m thankful just to stay on the porch.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nancy Pelosi scares me with her highly socialistic views. She wants illegal aliens to be provided with healthcare, receive social security and have the other entitlements due US citizens. She of course wants to raise our taxes to pay for healthcare and all the other stuff. This week she did something I applauded. She killed the resolution proposed by Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee to make Michael Jackson an American Legend, A Musical Icon and a World Humanitarian. Michael Jackson was a great entertainer and I loved some of his stuff but the resolution was going a little too far when others should receive similar recognition. Jackson had a dark side with his bizarre behavior and weirdness in dress as well as probably being a pedophile. Why not make Jeffery Damer an Icon as a great serial killer or John Dillinger an American Icon as a bank robber.

As far as an icon for an entertainer, I can think of many who might deserve the recognition. Even folks like Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash might be considered. CBS Sunday Morning had a story today about one of my all time favorites, Doris Day. Her voice was terrific and her looks, wholesome and stunning. She holds the all time record for longest number one movie box office attraction and even beat folks like Elizabeth Taylor. Doris Day was number one for four years straight. Unfortunately, her personal life never matched her screen life. She was unhappily married four times and one of her husbands squandered her fortune. Today, she lives a reclusive life in California with her dogs and has been somewhat of an animal rights activists.

The media was so hyped up over Michael Jackson they neglected to show the return of the bodies of American Service Men who had been killed in action and who arrived home for burial. The fact that they gave their lives to defend us from terrorist and guarantee our freedom was not as newsworthy as Michael Jackson and there certainly wasn’t a proposed resolution to Congress that they be recognized for their ultimate sacrifice.

So, Nancy Pelosi you were right in killing the resolution. I had already defeated the resolution on the porch and after playing “Thriller” as a tribute to Michael Jackson I spent the rest of the day listening to my Doris Day albums.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Colin Powell claims to be a Republican but I think he should really be labeled as an Opportunist. The day before the Presidential Election he came out in support of Obama after the polls showed Obama to be the almost certain winner. Now he is saying that the policy regarding gays in the military should be reexamined. With both, open gays and women in the military the troops are surely to be distracted from their business of killing because they will be occupied with making love. I recently talked to a woman soldier who said she was the only female in her group and that she was constantly being propositioned and even abused.

The business of soldiers is to kill the enemy and not be preoccupied with loving making with their colleagues. I don’t think that gays or women should be allowed in combat units. Another option would be to have gays and women be the ones in the combat units and the rest of the kids could stay home and avoid death.

Years ago, during Word War II there was something called the WAC or Women’s Army Corps. These women were not assigned to combat but relieved the males of many non-combat support functions. With Women’s Rights, females now want to be just like males and compete at every level. They even want to urinate when standing while they are on maneuvers in the field or in a combat situation.

I wish there was no need for the military, but since we are human that will never be possible. Because the military is a necessary part of life we should let them focus on their primary responsibility as they did in the two World Wars. I think it would be great to reestablish the WAC and we could even create a corps for the gays, the GAC. The GAC could perform a lot of support functions and even be used to engage the enemy with lovemaking. We might be successful in getting an AIDS epidemic started among the Talaban. Gays could wear those black dresses worn by Muslim woman and the Muslim men would probably never know the difference in bed. The only problem is that Muslims don’t tolerate Gays with their heads attached to their bodies.

Meanwhile, I wish Colin Powell would stay in retirement. I know he has a right to be upset with Bush after making a fool of himself at the UN when he told them that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I wish he could visit me on the porch and I could show him some real weapons of mass destruction called deer.