Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Life by the numbers

The idea: use the numbers 0-10, consecutively, to describe your life. If you read this -- tag, you're it!! Have fun.
  • 0: Times I have voted for a Democrat.
  • 1: Number of times Jeff Gordon tried to run over me in the garage area at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • 2: Times I've been west of the Mississippi.
  • 3: Schools I've taught at in the past 4 years.
  • 4: Other countries I have been to (Canada, Switzerland, Israel, Egypt)
  • 5: Number of decorative things on the outside of my car: a Minnie Mouse antenna topper; "Cheerwine Fanatic" front tag; WDW "Been there, done that, going back" tag frame; Harbor Docks sticker; our WDW family stickers.
  • 6: Number of different schools I attended from grades 1-12.
  • 7: Mascaras in my makeup box right now
  • 8: Minumum number of hours for me to sleep in order to appear human the next day
  • 9: How old my baby girl will be in four days
  • 10: Truly random songs from my iPod: "When She Loved Me" (Sonya Isaacs, from the CD O Mickey, Where Art Thou); "Arise, My Love" (New Song); "S'Wonderful" (Diana Krall); "Have You Never Been Mellow" (Olivia Newton-John); "If I Fell" (The Beatles); "Yo, Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me" (Pirates of the Caribbean); "Against the Wind" (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band); "Those Shoes" (The Eagles); "Waiting for You" (The Bangles); "It's the Same Old Song" (The Four Tops).

And, while I'm at it, check out this recipe for Cheerwine Cake!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hooked on...

No, not PHONICS (and, why isn't it spelled "fonix?" hmm.....). Those of us who are fortunate enough to be children of the 80s (YEAH!) might remember the "Hooked On..." song medleys. Hooked on Classics, Hooked on the Beatles. Were there others? I only remember those two. It's just that music has been on my mind a lot lately, specifically music from the late 70s and the 80s. Such formative years for me (yeah, showing my age, er, um, wisdom). Music is a big part of growing up for most of us; doesn't EVERYTHING revolve around the radio when you're a teenager? I mean, I slept with the radio on all night. But when something happens to make you feel young again, at least at heart, it brings back moments and music in floods. My obsession for the moment (at least in my mind, because I don't have it to play in any form) is Hooked on The Beatles. I only remember three songs that were in that: Do You Want to Know a Secret; You Can Drive My Car; You're Gonna Lose That Girl. Good stuff. Great stuff.

You never know how much I really love you
You'll never know how much I really care

Listen, do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh
Closer, let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I'm in love with you, oo

Listen, do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh
Closer, let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I'm in love with you, oo

I've known a secret for a week or two
Nobody know just we two

Listen, do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh
Closer, let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I'm in love with you, oo, oo

Hey, if you have your own memories of "Hooked On..." something...please share!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chansons D'amour, Part Deux

OK, I have a few additions to my favorite love songs. The first one, I'll admit - it pains me to credit the artist, but it's a beautiful song. (I'll compensate by spelling her name incorrectly, so there! pbbttt)
  • Woman in Love (Barbara Streisand)
  • Can't Help Falling in Love (The King)
  • The Good Stuff (Kenny Chesney)
  • Love, Look What You've Done to Me (Boz Scaggs)
  • Main Street (Bob Seger)
  • If I Fell (The Beatles)

A couple of random additions: One song that I can listen to for hours on end is Brandy by Looking Glass.

I love to get a good hair band groove going on: Paradise City (Guns 'n Roses); Is This Love (Whitesnake); Pink (Aerosmith; yes, it has stupid lyrics, but I find it compelling); Heaven (Warrant);

My all-time very favorite song is What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. If you haven't seen this video of Raymond Crowe doing shadow puppets to this beautiful song, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Um, yeah

As far as romantic, my choice would probably be this scene and song from "Enchanted." It's beautiful on its own, but I think you appreciate it much more having seen the whole movie. The true impact of it is revealed in the context of the movie.

I'll have to do some thinking on my other contenders for most romantic. Little River Band is a good place to start!

Update: my latest choices for most love-filled/romantic songs (because you can't have just one). No, it's no coincidence that these are from the 70s and 80s. Where ARE the good love songs anymore?

  • Reminiscing (Little River Band)
  • Dance with Me (Orleans)
  • Lady (Kenny Rogers)
  • You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker)
  • At Last (Etta James)
  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack version)
  • Your Song (Elton John)
  • Baby, Come to Me (James Ingram/Patti Austin)
  • Almost anything by The Commodores
  • Always and Forever (Luther Vandross)
  • El Paso (Marty Robbins)
  • Lost without Your Love and Baby I'm-a Want You (Bread)
  • Everything I Own and The Goodbye Girl (David Gates)
  • Annie's Song (John Denver)
  • Just Remember I Love You (Firefall)
  • I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)
  • If Ever I See You Again (Roberta Flack)
  • Ronnie Milsap (pick one!)
  • Here, There, and Everywhere; Something (The Beatles)
  • When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge)
  • I Honestly Love You (Olivia Newton-John)

What would you add?;

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Sweet It Is

Just got a little James Taylor on the mind. I left Carolina, but Carolina didn't leave me, as I've been goin' to Carolina in my mind today. I was thinking again about MY mountains...I can't help but think of them that way.

I love the way the sun dapples through autumn leaves onto the carpeted forest floor. I have always especially loved the mountains at higher elevations where the hardwoods, though varied and beautiful, give way to the evergreens -- firs, cedars, balsams. And underfoot in those damp, dense thickets are inevitably acres of lush fiddlehead ferns. The presence of a few mushrooms makes the perfect setting for a young girl's imagination to run rife with fanciful tales of fairies and gnomes. Those woods have their own fragrance -- that of the evergreens, for certain, but mingled with that is a sweet, damp, muskiness that is found nowhere else. I inhale it deeply and it purifies my spirit. It is the fragrance of new and old, birth and decay, green and brown all in one.

Maybe my fondness for such magical and mysterious environs was the underlying reason that I always so loved "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In high school and college, I wrote many a paper on this dramatic vision. Alas, none of them survive to this day. No matter; my own words would necessarily pale in comparison to Coleridge's. I still thrill to imagine beholding such a scene; would that Coleridge's fantastic dream could be my own.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure-dome decree,
where Alph, the sacred river, ran
through caverns measureless to man
down to a sunless sea,
so twice five miles of fertile ground
with walls and towers were girdled round.
and there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree.
And here were forests as ancient as the hills,
enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But O! That deep romantic chasm which slanted,
down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover.
A savage place! As holy and enchanted
as e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
by woman wailing for her demon lover.
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
as if this Earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
a mighty fountain momently was forced,
amid whose swift half-intermitted burst,
huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail,
and 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever,
it flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion,
through wood and dale the sacred river ran.
Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man,
and sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean.
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from afar
ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
floated midway on the waves
Where was heard the mingled measure
from the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device
a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice.
A damsel with a dulcimer
in a vision once I saw.
It was an Abyssinian maid,
and on her dulcimer she played,
singing of mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
her symphony and song.
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
that with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air!
That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!
and all who heard should see them there!
and all should cry, Beware! Beware!
his flashing eyes! his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
and close your eyes with holy dread!
for he on honey-dew hath fed,
and drunk the milk of Paradise.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally...fresh mountain air

Yes, thank you Lord, for giving me another day on Your earth so I could make it to the mountains. Took a little day trip up SC Scenic Hwy. 11 and then turned up 178 north to Rocky Bottom, where I lived for a couple of years in junior high. I tell can take the girl out of the mountains but you can't take the mountains out of the girl. It is as beautiful as it was. Our homeplace looked a little neater when we lived there; my dad took great care to keep the wilds from encroaching too much into the yard, but we lived there year-round, and apparently the people who own it now just have it as a part-time retreat. The hickory nuts had fallen in full force, and I walked along the road and gathered them in my sweater like Hansel and Gretel gathering bread crumbs. I'm sure the banged fingers I will have when I try to pry into those things will bring back some memories! Squirrels get into them much more easily than I do, and they don't even have to use a hammer. Drove up to the top of Sassafrass Mountain, the highest peak in SC at just under 3600 feet. There used to be a fire tower there that we would climb to look out over four states, but that was taken down 4 years ago, I am told by a friend. Stood at the top and looked out as best as I could, standing on a rock, but the trees at the top obscure the view. was beautiful, tranquil, fresh, and satisfying. Had a few nibbles of sassafras leaves; that bitter, lemony taste is quite refreshing.

Now that I'm back home, I wish I could recapture the feelings of being there. Thinking about it in retrospect and living it at the moment are not the same. When I drive a bit north of Atlanta and get even a glimpse of the tips of the mountains just out of my reach, my breath catches involuntarily. There is something deep within my DNA, something primal, that resonates in perfect pitch when I am in the mountains. I spent much of my youth in the Appalachians, Great Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains backpacking and camping with my mother and father. For my 10th birthday, they got me a charm bracelet with a charm for each of the mountains I had climbed to the top: Mt. LeConte, Clingman's Dome, Andrew's Bald, Devil's Courthouse, and several others. I loved hiking to the "bald" mountains. These are mountaintop areas that had forestation destroyed (usually by fire) at some point, but are maintained clear of trees by the forest service. Low-level shrubbery abounds here, so in the late spring and early summer these usually rocky, meadow-like grassy areas are ablaze in a thousand colors of azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and other flowering beauties including trillium and lady's slippers. My father was a master at telling the temperature by how curled up the rhododendron leaves were. It is breathtaking to hike for a couple of hours through forests of firs and balsams and emerge into a clearing at the top of a mountain and look over hundreds of miles of carpeted valleys and hills all around. Of course, when it comes to pitching a tent for the night, you head back down into the cover of the trees; the winds can be fierce at the top of those mountains if there's nothing to break it.

I did not grow up in a church building, but I grew up steeped in and praising God's creation. I saw all manner of wildlife, flowers, insects, and birds and observed the way they lived and interacted. I learned the names of all the trees. My parents invested in a few small field guides that would fit into my day pack, so I spent a lot of time with a book in one hand and a plant or insect in the other. I loved when our hike led us alongside a river. I could play for hours in the edge of the water, marveling at the perfectly smoothed surface of rocks and pebbles, wondering where they began their journey and how long they had lain in the cold water alongside trout and crayfish. My daughter, bless her sweet little heart, is a rock hound like her mom. She loves rocks of all sorts, and I have to fish them out of her pockets on laundry day as if she were a little boy.

I had forgotten what challenges I faced and overcame during those hiking trips. Crossing roaring rapids on trees that had fallen, or been felled, across the river -- scary!! Some places the trail was very narrow and the mountainside below was very steep and treacherous; I remember balking sometimes, thinking I couldn't make it. But my dad always said I could do it, and I always did. When he had to help me, he grasped my wrist and told me to grab his wrist; we had a much more secure grip on one another that way than by simply holding hands.

And, even today...while my earthly father believes in me, I know my Heavenly Father believes in me so much more and holds onto me more tightly through the tough spots. As I lean into Him and trust Him when He says, "Hold on and follow Me," I know the view at the top will be spectacular.

"My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." -- Psalm 121:2

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn in the air

  • So many people think spring is the season of love. For me, it is autumn. It's the perfect time to be with someone special.
  • I dug out a James Ingram today before I hit the road for some errands. Good, good stuff. Soul touching. Amazing what music can bring out in you.
  • Speaking of music, I came home with new Keith Urban and Allison Krauss CDs today. Can't wait to pop the plastic on those, but I promised myself Carole King while I clean house.
  • For what it's worth, I feel like my soul will suffocate if I don't see mountains NOW. Maybe I can wait until tomorrow. But the mountains -- that's where my spirit sings and the depths of my being are touched like no other. How did I end up living two hours away from my heartland?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tonight....Let it be Lowenbrau

Didn't you just love that jingle? I don't drink beer, never have, and certainly the beer drinkers I know don't drink Lowenbrau. But I remember it from the 80s, that earthy voice singing,

Here's to good friends,
Tonight is kind of special.
The beer we'll pour
must say something more, somehow.
So tonight (tonight),
Let it be Löwenbräu (let it be Löwenbräu).
It's been so long.
Hey, I'm glad to see ya.
Raise your glass.
Here's to health and happiness.
So tonight (tonight),
Let it be all the best.
I had been thinking that I need to make a list of the ones I've seen, for myself. It's getting to the point where I can't remember them all, so I'm sure I'll have to pop back in and add to this later. The first one is listed here only for the sake of honesty. The music definitely improves after that.
  • Ozzie Osbourne
  • Heart
  • Bryan Adams
  • Reba McEntire
  • Rod Stewart (twice)
  • Elton John (twice)
  • Paul McCartney (twice)
  • Aerosmith
  • The Eagles
  • Earl Klugh (not a typical concert, but definitely worthy of a mention)
  • Kenny Chesney (twice, including Keith Urban)
  • Alabama
  • Van Halen
  • Eric Clapton
  • Barry Manilow
  • Boston
  • The Bangles
  • KISS
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Robert Plant & Jimmy Page
  • Mercy Me & Michael W. Smith
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Billy Joel
  • Billy Joel AND Elton John, together
  • Jimmy Buffett
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Huey Lewis (free tickets; no, I would not have paid)
Some other notable events that weren't concerts
  • Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert in a tennis match (I've never cared for tennis but did want to take advantage of that opportunity -- it was not a disappointment)
  • The Boston Celtics with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, et al in 1989
  • Being kissed by Richard Petty at an autograph signing event

Election Day 2008 & Other Miscellaneous Neuron-to-Dendrite Connections

Well, I guess I can go back to McDonald's now. We haven't eaten there since when, May? Wasn't really that much of a loss, honestly. The biggest way it affected us was on Sunday mornings, since we always at there just before church. We just exchanged it for Mrs. Winner's instead, but McD's is more convenient, so I guess our normal Sunday-morning routine can be re-established.

I went to vote today. Thought I was being brilliant, getting it out of the way early so I wouldn't have to a) stand in a long line on November 4th, or 2) get up too early to avoid standing in a long line on November 4th. I pulled into the parking lot at our county elections office and was stunned. There must have been 150 people in line in the parking lot! Amazing. I really didn't feel like staying, being sicky and all, but I did. I thought about the brave men throughout history who have given everything for this country, and I realized yes, I CAN stand out here for as long as it takes. From out of the car to back into the car was about an hour, so it wasn't horrible. That's probably the longest I've ever waited, though, so it was a good time for people watching. I find it fascinating to study people in election lines and see if I can figure out who they're voting for. Of course, this year it may be easier to break them into groups just by looking, but I'm sure there are some who would fool me either way. I saw Sonny of Sonny's Service Center. No, I don't now him, but he had his name on his coveralls. I feel pretty certain that a man who owns his own small business sees a lot of issues the same way I do.

And I have to admit I felt pretty good about things standing out there today. Come the evening of November 4th (or shortly thereafter, Lord willing), one group is going to be very happy and the other group is going to be very distraught. But, you know what? I have seen pictures and videos of "elections" in other countries where blood is spilled when people vote. There are nations that don't have the privilege of choosing a leader. There are cultures where a woman couldn't drive somewhere to vote. So, in light of all those things, I felt pretty good about it all. Our system isn't perfect and isn't necessarily beautiful, but it's ours and I'm proud to be an American.

OK, having waxed patriotic...I have to wonder -- why is it that the myriad unavoidable reports of voter registration fraud that I read are always associated with Democrats and liberals? Seriously. That is frustrating to me. This ACORN stuff is getting crazy.

And I guess the economic crunch is hitting everywhere. I stopped at Sears today to buy some new jeans for my girlie. I guess two years' worth of wear out of her last ones isn't bad. Anyway, the mall was practically deserted and there was ONE cash register staffed on the whole upper level. There were a few workers out on the floor, but I was in line for ten minutes before one felt compelled to come help us out.

Anyway, that experience led me, in a very circuitous manner, to think about a flair button on my Facebook account. It says, "SARCASM: The body's natural defense against stupid." Yes, I know, I'm Christian and lovey and tolerant of people's faults, but that doesn't mean people don't still say stupid things that make my teeth bleed. I bought three pairs of jeans and (gasp!) wrote a check. Of course I had to pull out my driver's license. The cashier looked at it for a minute, then asked, "Is this your ID?" I just stood there, looked at her, and smiled what was probably a ridiculously goofy grin as I contemplated...."No, I saw a woman in the parking lot who looked just like me, and I thought it would be a good idea to use her ID instead of mine, so I hit her over the head with a tire iron, swiped her ID out of her bag, and am using it to present a check that, oddly enough, also has her name on it." The next candidate for a response was, "Pretty good for PhotoShop & Contact paper, don't you think?" Instead, I corralled my decorum and replied a hum-drum, "Yes." And that was that. Here's your sign...

What else...oh, THANKS A LOT to a friend who got me hyped up to see "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and I realize there's not a copy to be had within a country mile of here. No, I don't know why I hadn't bought it already, but it's nary to be purchased or rented anywhere that I checked today, so I sit at home in a frustrated funk. It's okay, I still love ya, bud. :-)

"We thought you was a toad!"

Friday, August 01, 2008

Let's talk out of both sides of our mouth, shall we?

Ask anyone who halfway knows me, and they'll say that it's rare that I find it difficult to express myself. Yeah, I over-express myself sometimes. Sorry, my perfection gene failed somewhere along the line (I think it happened in a garden somewhere....). Yet, I keep hearing something that just drives the bile right up into my throat every time, and the word(s) to express my feelings elude me. Some words that have potential: Anger. Frustration. Disbelief. Outrage. Disgust. Bemusement.

So, what are the magic words that affect me so? Many wouldn't be surprised to hear that they are uttered by Barack Obama, but what might be surprising is that the words that rile me are the ones where he talks about Americans needing to come together: African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, Native Americans, Straight People, Gay People, etc. And the loony left crowd goes wild in the background, en masse in support of his loony pandering. First of all, he doesn't say WHAT we should come together over (thanks to Michael Medved for pointing that out). But what REALLY gets me is that Barack Hussein Obama and his myriad minions and myrmidons don't realize how very, insanely, incredibly hypocritical they are. Here, one touts and many show support for "coming together as Americans." Yet, this is the very group of people who want people grouped and labeled according to various characteristics WHEN IT IS CONVENIENT. Oh, let me talk about us all needing to come together for something (because it makes a lot of people clap, and that will make the news), but sometimes it's convenient for us to group Native Americans together (and let's throw in African-Americans for good measure, even though they're not relevant to the question), as in when we engage in that ever-so-critical dialogue about reparations. It's fine to separate American citizens into groups when it concerns hate crimes legislation aimed at protecting the "rights" of gays and lesbians, as opposed to the "rights" of people in general. It's fine to separate American citizens into groups when trying to get the "evil rich" to pay more of "their fair share" of taxes so that people who underperform (once referred to as those who didn't win life's lottery) can pay less.

I am totally stymied as to how the loony left Obama supporters can be so totally clueless about how totally hypocritical they are.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Barack Obama: Passing the Hope Bong

Boy, I just wish I had thought of that. I don't know who this guy is on Larry King Live, but he has the greatest line, talking about Obama "passing his hope bong around the drum circle of young America." I don't know what those people ARE smoking, but aren't deep-breathing anything that gives them ecstasy-filled highs of common sense, that's for sure.

I don't think anyone should be allowed to vote until 1) they OWN their own home; 2) they have earned at least $150,000 (cumulatively, not in a year -- don't whine, if you have a brain and/or skills it won't take long), and/or 3) have passed a basic math proficiency and logic test.

Here is a trailer for the movie "Hype: The Obama Effect."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Things I like a lot/adore/love

Things that get on my nerves

Friday, July 25, 2008

You go, girl...

Last night at dinner, the conversation turned (as it often does) to politics and current events. My 8-year-old daughter can pretty well hold her own in these conversations. She can contribute comments and ask some good questions. I don't remember what she said, but it prompted my husband to ask her, "I told you to never apologize for being three things -- what were they?" Quick as a wink, she named them: "Never apologize for being Christian, Republican, or southern." My heroine. :-)

What was that again?

Apologies in advance: I can't figure out how to download these videos to my hard drive so that I can then upload them and embed them here. You'll have to clicky!!

Do you remember those puzzles you did as a child, where there were two pictures side by side that, at first glance, looked alike? Your job was to look at them carefully to determine the subtle differences between them. I have another one for you, but this time in video form.

The news of Obama's saying that, after months of proven success and gains in Iraq, he STILL would not support the surge is old at this point. I heard the digs on the talk shows about how he muttered and stammered through his response (not really an answer), but I didn't hear the audio clip of the interview itself (with ABC's Terry Moran). When I got home and looked at the video on the ABC site, I thought, well, it's a stupid answer, but it's basically intelligible. Check it out for yourself:

My husband was sitting beside me on the sofa and was eager for me to hear Obama's answer. After it played, he was indignant: "That is NOT the same as what the radio talk shows were playing all day!" We searched and finally found an unedited version on YouTube:

Hmmm. Very different!! Is that merely editing that would normally be done to ready a video clip for the website of a major news corporation, or is it further evidence that the media wants to suck Obama's toes? I have my opinion...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Toto, we're not in Disney World anymore

Eight trips to Walt Disney World in five years...and yesterday we went to Six Flags over Georgia. What were we thinking?? Well, DD and I got free tickets from school, so we only had to pay for one ticket, gas, and food (which is as expensive as WDW and not nearly as good). Now, we live less than an hour from Six Flags and seriously NEVER go. DH and I went about 5 years ago, just the two of us. I sat and waited for him to ride roller coasters most of the day. I don't do roller coasters. Well, I didn't....

I do have to say that Disney World has both spoiled me and done me a favor. The favor first...I have always been scared -- no, terrified -- of heights, and roller coasters were never in the picture for me. I had no desire at all to ever get on one, even "small" ones. When DH and I first took DD to Disney World, she was not quite 3, so there was very little that she could ride -- we spent most of our time in Fantasyland. But DD and I also waited for DH to ride Space Mountain. He offered to keep DD while I rode. NO WAY. I WILL NOT RIDE A ROLLER COASTER, especially not one in the dark.

The next year when we went, DH wanted us to ride Splash Mountain. He told me how much I'd love it, given that I have an old Uncle Remus book and grew up reading the stories since I was little. We read them to DD and we knew all the characters It sounded good...we walked up and I saw that 45-degree, 50-foot drop and NO, NO, NO I AM NOT GETTING ON THAT!! For heaven's sake, people are screaming going down that thing. NO!!

He finally talked me into it by reasoning that the ride is many minutes long with a beautiful story and the drop is over in a few seconds. I became convinced that I would love the ride. Long story short, yes, it is a BEAUTIFUL ride, and it was very meaningful to us. The first little drop spooked me. The second one scared me. When we started going up the hill for the big drop, I started screaming, wanted desperately to climb out. I yelled at him, "I'm going to beat the S*** out of you when we get off this thing!" Needless to say, he was laughing. Which didn't help. I was terrified out of my mind. We splashed down, got wet. I was okay -- ALIVE, BREATHING, CONSCIOUS, NOTHING WAS BROKEN. I said I would never get on THAT THING again. Let's 7 visits since, I've ridden it probably 50+ times.

Over the course of much conniving and cajoling, I have by this time ridden -- and grown to love -- every ride at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, including Tower of Terror, California Screaming, and my all-time favorites Expedition Everest and the much-too-short Rock 'n Roller Coaster. A friend of mine on a Disney message board convinced me: Disney will never hurt me! Lessons learned from that have carried forward so that I was able to ride the Scream Machine, Ninja, and Mindbender at Six Flags. The verdict? Scream Machine: not too scary, way too rough, jerky, and bumpy. HATED IT and couldn't wait to get off. Ninja: Smoother ride, but jerked my head from side to side into the not-very-well-padded headrest. My ears hurt. Nope, not for me. Mindbender: there we go! Smooth, easy, not too high, just right. Loved it!!

So, that is the favor that Disney World has done me in regard to simple amusement parks -- enabled me to enjoy them as more of a participant and less of an observer.

Part II, How Disney Has Spoiled Me, will come later.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gimme some money...Gimme a break!!

Did two things today that cost more than they should: put gas in the car and bought groceries. My DHA-enriched, organic milk is now $4.50 a half gallon, but it may soon be cheaper to fill the car with milk than with gas. Looked longingly at the Blue Bell ice cream for more than $6 a carton. Could have gotten it but I couldn't make myself pick it up. I'm sure I'll be back for it later in the week, but I just couldn't do it today. Picked up a few things and begrudgingly forked over my debit card for $146 worth of not much, sighed, and headed out.

But what was awaiting me when I exited the store? A young man, probably 12 or so, asking for a "donation" because he was trying to raise money for a trip to Disney World. He asked the wrong person, because my immediate reaction was, "Get in line! So are we." I just told him I didn't have any cash. Then, when I got in the car, I had to tell my 8-year-old, "You know, I told him the first thing that came to my mind. I should have thought of something else to say, because I DID have cash. That was not a cause for me to lie, even though I wasn't going to give him anything."

Then, true conservative that she is, she quips,"He needs to get a job and earn his own money, and not try to take ours that you and Daddy work for!" At first I was both proud and amused, and we talked about that a bit. Then, the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. First of all, who dumps a kid at a store to ask for handouts? And then, what happened to trying to EARN money to go somewhere? This may have been a good and legitimate cause -- he didn't offer and I didn't ask -- perhaps a band trip. But I just got myself worked up because some adult in his life thought it would be a good idea for him to stand in public and ask for handouts. What happened to offering to cut the grass, or wash a car, sweep the driveway, or perform any other odd jobs? How can it be beneath someone to do a menial chore for pay but not to ask total strangers for money???

This is just a symptom of the "gimme" mentality that is rotting our nation, contributing to class envy, and encouraging the government to be the nanny for everyone. My family is solidly middle class but we fall into the "evil rich" category according to the socialist liberals. No wonder they're angry; I don't want to give them what I've worked for. I want them to work for their own. If they could channel all their energy from being angry to being productive, they'd have more to show for it, including a sense of pride and responsibility. But that's too hard. Why work when you can stand in the shade with a cold drink and put your hand out? I'll tell you why: Because it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Butt Scratching and Bass Fishing

OK, I can honestly say I have NEVER gone to any website and typed "butt" in the search box!! But I was listening to one of my heroes, Dave Ramsey, today as he talked about this essay on his website. I was intrigued, to say the least. I am reproducing it in its entirety here. It can be found on his website here if you are interested in seeing it from its source. I, too, am sick of the whining that people who work hard need to subsidize the lifestyle choices and mistakes of others (mortgage assistance, anyone?). I have so much to say but it's late, so I'll just let Dave say it fabulously.

Butt Scratching and Bass Fishing
by Dave Ramsey
A couple of weeks ago, I worked late like I sometimes need to do to run my business. It was a nice Tennessee summer evening, and I was enjoying the drive home. About 7:30, as I pulled to a stop light a few blocks from my office, I noticed a light on in the corner office of a friend’s office building. Through the twilight I could make out my friend’s silhouette as he bent over his desk. Being a fellow entrepreneur, I knew what he was doing. He was pouring over some receivables. Some turkey hadn’t paid him, and he was trying to make his accounts balance so he would have the cash to make it another day. In that instant, I had a flashback to some of the ridiculous statements I’ve been hearing on the talking-head news channels and from some individuals during this political year. And I’ll be honest—I instantly felt the heat of anger flow
through my body.

Let me tell you why. You see, my friend who I saw working late—we’ll call him Henry—is a great guy. He’s what you want your son to grow up to be. He loves God, his country, his wife, and his kids. He didn’t have the academic advantage of attending a big-name university. Instead, he started installing heating and air systems as a grunt laborer after he graduated from high school. He was and is a very hard and diligent worker, and before long, the boss taught him the trade. But when he was 24, after 6 years of service, the company he was working for got into financial trouble and laid him off.

Henry still had his tools, so he bought an old pickup to haul around his materials and tools, and suddenly he was in business. He knew about heating and air-conditioning, but not about business, so he made a lot of mistakes. He persisted. He took accounting and management at the community college to learn about business. He started reading books on business, HVAC, marriage, kids, God, and anything else someone he respected recommended. Today he is one of the best-read men I know. Soon, because of his fabulous service and fair prices, he developed a great reputation, and his little business began to grow. Henry started 15 years ago, and now he has 17 employees whose families are fed because he does a great job. He is in church on Sunday and seldom misses his kids’ Little League games. Sometimes he has to miss a game because some poor soul has their AC go out in the 96-degree Tennessee summer heat, but Henry makes sure they are served. He is, by all standards, a good man. He is, by all standards, what makes America great.

Henry and I are friends, and so he asked me some financial questions last year. I learned in the process that his personal taxable income last year was $328,000. I smiled with pride for this 70-hour a week guy because he is living the dream.

At the stop light that evening, I also thought of another guy I know—and that is where the anger flash came from. We will call him John. While John does not have the same drive Henry has, I can say that he, too, is a good man.

John also graduated from high school and did not attend a big-name university. He went to work at a local factory 15 years ago. When 5:00pm comes around, John has probably already made it to his car in the parking lot. He comes in 5 minutes late, takes frequent breaks, and leaves 5 minutes early. However, to his credit, he is steady and works hard. Over the years, due to his steadiness and seniority, he has worked his way up to about $75,000 per year in that same factory. He seldom misses his kid’s ballgames, but most nights you will find him in front of the TV where he has become an expert on “American Idol,” “The Biggest Loser,” and who got thrown off the island. When he is not in front of the TV, he spends a LOT of time and money bass fishing on our local lake. He never works over 40 hours a week and hasn’t read a non-fiction book since high school. This is America, and there is nothing wrong with either set of choices.

Nothing wrong, that is, until the politicians and socialists get involved.

I have seen several elitist people on the talking-head channels make the statement lately that people making over $250,000 per year have a “moral imperative” to pay more in taxes to take care of the country’s problems. This is not only infuriating—it is economically, spiritually, and morally crazy!

Where in the world do these twits get off saying that Henry should be punished for his diligence? If you are John, where do you get off trying to take Henry’s hard-earned money away from him in the name of your misguided “fairness”? If you want to sit on the lake, drink beer, scratch your butt, and bass fish, that is perfectly fine with me. I am not against any of those activities and have engaged in some of them myself at one time or another. But you HAVE NO RIGHT to talk about “moral imperatives” about what other people have earned due to their diligence. That money is not yours! You want some money? Go earn some! Get up, leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home.

We are in a dangerous place in our country today. A segment of our population has decided that it is the government’s job to provide all of their protection, provision, and prosperity. This segment has figured out that government doesn’t have the money to give them everything they want, so somebody else has to pay for it. That is how the “politics of envy” was born. “Tax the rich” has become the mantra of the left, and this political season it has been falsely dubbed a “moral imperative.”

Ninety percent of America’s millionaires are first-generation rich. They are Henry. To tax them because you think it is a “moral imperative” is legalizing governmental theft from our brightest, most charitable, and most productive citizens.

If I can get a law passed that says you must surrender all your cars to the government because it is the “moral imperative” of anyone who owns cars to support the latest governmental program, that would be a violation of private property rights and simply morally wrong. This new “moral imperative” to redistribute wealth is no different from that. It’s the SAME THING!
Please, America, re-think the politics of envy! You are sowing the seeds of our destruction when you punish the Henrys of our culture.

If you think taxing the populace to support government programs is the best way—and I don’t—then at least tax every single person the same! There are very few Henrys out here who would squawk much about paying a set percentage of their income—if everyone else did, too. But this idea of some buttscratching bass fisherman saying government should tax his neighbor and not him—just because his neighbor has succeeded—must stop.

So the next time an elitist media talking-head starts telling you it is the moral imperative of our culture to tax my friend Henry, change the channel.

The next time you see someone wealthy who feels guilty and is preaching the politics of envy, change the channel.

The next time you see some celebrity who feels guilt over their income preaching socialism, change the channel.

And the next time you run into a misguided, butt-scratching bass fisherman who says the evil rich people in our culture should have their private property confiscated because that is fair… well just shake your head walk away—and make sure to vote against his candidate. If he and his type win, God help America.

© The Lampo Group, Inc. all rights reserved.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Expelled: Common Sense and Courtesy Get the Boot

Several months ago I somehow learned about Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I was intrigued by the project and signed up for e-mail updates. I’ve been following the development and progress of this work ever since, and was so excited to get to see it this weekend. I don’t know much about Ben Stein, only that he’s quirky, so his involvement in it intrigued me even more. The documentary exposes how big science (primarily in the halls of academe) has suppressed the dialogue and inquiry that is so central to its very core by basically blackballing a great many very well-credentialed scientists who dare whisper the concept of intelligent design (ID).

CNS News review states:

"Expelled" calls attention to the plight of highly credentialed scholars who have been forced out of prestigious academic positions because they proposed Intelligent Design as a possible alternative to Charles Darwin's 150-year-old theories about the origins of life.

Instead of entertaining a debate on the merits of competing theories, the scientific establishment has moved to suppress the ID movement in a "systematic and ruthless" way at odds with America's founding principles, the film asserts.

Many are quick to dismiss ID as the delusion of religious fundamentalists, but a great many of the most well-known and well-credentialed scientists who espouse ID do so not because they believe in the Genesis account of creation by God but because they see the terrible failings of the Darwinian theory of evolution. Expelled blows the whistle on their literal expulsion from jobs, careers, funding, even from realms of credibility and respect.

My question is: What are the evolutionists afraid of? They won’t admit that evolution isn’t something that can be proven, but the fact that it can’t be proven (via the hallowed and requisite methods of scientific theory) is so obvious as to be trifling. The issue seems to boil down to more than trying to uphold an outdated “theory” – it truly seems as though the evolutionary scientists are bent on disallowing any room for an inkling of a concept of a Creator (i.e., God). When you have the renowned Richard Dawkins stating that the origin of life could have been designed/orchestrated by a higher being, but not from this planet, it seems pretty obvious that the argument is against God the creator and not the “fallacy” of ID outright. And another prominent scientist repeatedly explains the origins of life as developing as molecules mutating on the backs of crystals and is astounded that Ben Stein can’t grasp that as plausible. Science fiction, anyone?

Again, what are they afraid of? If they’re so sure that their THEORY is the correct one, why do they go to such great pains to kick out and discredit people who should rightly pose no threat? My answer? They know their days are numbered. When Darwin was alive, cells were thought to be primitive, merely a simple building block of something more complex, much as simple letters are the building blocks of the complex structures of words. But the technological advances in electron microscopy have given us an incredible view and understanding of the astonishing complexity of cells. (By the way, the film’s animation sequence of the inner workings of the cell is worth the price of admission.) This understanding has led to the concept of “irreducible complexity” to describe a unit so complex in its intricacies and the interrelatedness of its parts that to take away one of its parts would render the entire unit useless. But Darwinian evolution (macroevolution) requires just that: parts of a cell or organism to develop independently of one another, based on favorable circumstances, until a workable unit is created. (See -- search for “The Seeing Eye” in video clips.)

The evolutionary scientists are quiet about the many holes in the theory of evolution, including the lack of observable scientific evidence and causation. Among other difficulties, Darwin acknowledges: “The abrupt manner in which whole groups of species suddenly appear in certain formations has been urged by several paleontologists . . . as a fatal objection to the belief in the transmutation of species. . . There is another and allied difficulty, which is much more serious. I allude to the manner in which species belonging to several of the main divisions of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks. . . . The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the [evolutionary] views here entertained.” No observable cause and effect; no means to observe, replicate, or measure the process; no transitional forms; no new species.

In a nutshell, atheists have to believe in something when it comes to the origins of life. By default, it can’t be God, so anything that is NOT God will do. I do not have the faith required to believe that life originated from nothing. Lightning in a swamp? Are you kidding me? Because of a massive jolt of electricity, amino acids suddenly arranged themselves into 250 complex proteins that then randomly ordered themselves in a such a way as to become ALIVE? And what on earth in nature (which evolutionists find to be revered rather than its Creator) actually INCREASES in complexity in order over time if it is not directed? Nothing! Non-directed events result in chaos and decay, not order and growth, which is what Darwinian evolution requires. Why is it so far-fetched to believe that anything that exists in order must have order in its origin? Did these words miraculously appear on this page? Aliens, crystals, primordial ooze … apparently many people find these things preferable to believing that something with a mind of order and purpose designed life as we know it with order and purpose. After all, belief in that pretty much requires belief in God, and belief in God requires us to change ourselves. They rail against “religion” yet fail to see that they put their whole FAITH in Darwinism – THAT is the opiate of those masses. Yet, these same people profess to believe in freedom of thought and speech and academic pursuits? Common sense has, indeed, been expelled.

Frightening links from Darwinian theory to Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood and Hitler and ethnic "cleansing" are poignant and well documented and attributed.

One additional note that doesn’t fit in anywhere else but I feel compelled to share. Stein visited a museum of Darwin and a few long seconds were spent on a shot of a statue of Darwin. I couldn’t help but think that he looks sad, even in marble – almost as though he realizes now that he was wrong, but it’s too late for him now.

People who say it better than I:

Monday, February 18, 2008

I have resigned myself to this

Or, "Why $18 Mascara is a Bargain." Some of you know that I am a mascara fiend. I have nice blue eyes to draw your attention, and very forgettable lashes to make that attention wander straight to the closest box of detergent, for no other reason than the detergent may be more memorable than my lashes. This has been a battle all my life. My very favorite mascara EVER was Lancome's Stylocils, with a ridiculously tiny brush in a ridiculously small barrel that made my lashes as long and happy as they have ever been. Last year I discovered Maxi-Frange by Bourjois and grew to love it immensely. Well, that's a lie -- it had me at "Goodbye, $18." Funny, because I've never been a fan of primers. I've never found one that really did what I thought it should do (as in, deliver what it promises). But the primer on Maxi-Frange worked really well -- lengthened and volumized without clumping, and, what's this? A sassy little upturn on the end, without the benefit of a pinched eyelid? Yes, it gave my lashes a little curl! Well, I used it to the end and just couldn't bring myself to buy another tube of it. I don't know why. I work. But I just didn't like the idea of it, I suppose.

But now the ugly truth comes out. Since this past fall, I have bought probably no fewer than TEN new mascaras, all costing around $8-10. Some of them didn't get used more than once before they got tossed. Yes, I know you can return some cosmetics at some stores, but honestly, as often as I would be returning mascara, they'd have me on the blacklist before you could say "smudge." So, let's do some math here. Let's say that those mascaras cost $9 each, for average's sake, times 10 purchases (probably conservative). Hmmmm. Do you see, now, why $18 spent every six months is actually SAVING money, in this case?

I splurged -- wait, no, I SAVED!! Right? I SAVED today on a tube of Bourjois Coup de Theatre mascara that I hope I will love as much as the Maxi-Frange. (The Maxi-Frange is designed more for volume, the Coup de Theatre focuses on length, which is my main concern.)

But if I must be known for something, I am not vain enough to want it to be my lashes. I would want it to be for this: "Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord GOD. -- Ezekiel 16:14

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Captured by the King

People who are not professing Christians often dismiss God as a cosmic chess player. They think – or at least they think that WE think – He sits up in the sky, looking down over us, moving us here and there to suit His whim. We acknowledge, admit, welcome, and invite His divine intervention, for certain. But we never feel like His pawns. A God who can create space and time in a breath, who can create a miraculously unique human being from two tiny cells, does not need us in order to carry out His design for history. We are here because He longs for our company. What of the angels? He has legions of angels to keep Him company. But, oh! They are not made in His image, as we are. He called us forth and He has a plan for us. Oh, wow, does He have a plan for us! But He knows that forced love, forced lives, neither satisfy the one who loves nor glorify neither the one who is loved. He gave us a choice, gives us a choice every day, every moment, every thought. I think of God in no way like a cosmic chess player, but like a loving parent who has painstakingly and thoughtfully planned a most delightful treasure hunt for a child of immeasurable value and worth. The course is mapped, the treasures are hidden, awaiting discovery if…If the child follows the directions. If the child wants to play. If the child stays focused and doesn’t go skipping off, gleefully oblivious, into directions unplanned. But God – oh, the God Who created and loves us – is the doting parent who will guide even the most distracted child back onto the path toward treasure if...If we trust, if we choose, if we seek, we can be captured by the King.

Brian Doerksen – “Come, Now Is The Time To Worship”

One day ev'ry tongue will confess You are God
One day ev'ry knee will bow
Still the greatest treause remains for those,
Who gladly choose you now

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:45-46

p.s. -- That God you think about, sitting up there, as you scoff that I'm weak because I depend on Him? He's strong enough to move you wherever He wants you. He loves you enough to let you choose to be moved.