Faith and the Candidates

I voted with the 31% - I think that the media, and people in general, have given McCain a pass.. they have focused on Obama's faith, church and pastor but don't feel obligated to say anything about those corresponding aspects of McCain's life.. seems a bit too one-sided for me.

New Football Helmets

They may look like standard football helmets — but these skull shields are about as standard as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Impala. The basic form is there, but everything else has changed. The aim is to cut the 300,000 concussions that players — from Pop Warner to NFL teams — suffer annually. Check out the story on these new helmets here.

Evangelicals Don't Like Romney

According to this Washington Times article:
Prominent evangelical leaders are warning Sen. John McCain against picking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying their troops will abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens.

They say Mr. Romney lacks trust on issues such as outlawing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage and because he is a Mormon. Opposition is particularly powerful among those who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year.
Yeah.. evangelicals boycotting the election.. I imagine this is sad news for the democrats.. and pro-choicers.

Coffee Regular?

Unlike my parents who drank coffee "regular" - New Yorkers refer to coffee with milk and sugar as "regular".. I like coffee with a few sugars but no milk.

I like tea with milk and sugar.. like the refined Brits.. actually like my mom :)

How do you like your coffee and/or tea?

WWW: Lawnmower Execution

In this edition of Weird World Wednesday, I submit to you this Associated Press article:

A 56-year-old Milwaukee man is accused of shooting his lawn mower because it wouldn't start.

Keith Walendowski has been charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle and misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed.

According to the criminal complaint, Walendowski says he was angry because his Lawn Boy wouldn't start Wednesday morning. He told police: "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want."

A woman who lives at Walendowski's house reported the incident. She says he was intoxicated. Walendowski could face up to an $11,000 fine and six years and three months in prison if convicted.


This image speaks to the transition I made in 1976 when I moved to Kansas to become a computer programmer. This week I make another transition as I leave our pastoral staff to re-enter the world of retirement. This new transition is a bittersweet one but should be very helpful to our family.

It was a great time today being with our church staff for lunch and fellowship. They gave me some wonderful cards, and a ball cap and t-shirt with this new KB logo.. a great surprise from some great people.. not sure why they don't care for New York Bob.. but I could guess :)

I will miss pastoring but I am looking forward to spending more time writing and being with my beautiful wife Ann.

Shrink-Wrapped Royals

From an article in Sunday's KC Star:

The Royals were stumbling through another loss when the newest member of the organization walked into an empty room overlooking the field at Kauffman Stadium. A 53-year-old psychologist sat in a cushioned chair, glanced down at the diamond and began to explain.

“My job here,” Andrew Jacobs said over the sound of fans, “is to be of assistance to the players and coaches to help them mentally deal with whatever it is they have to deal with, whether it’s a personal issue or a professional issue.”

Yikes! Shades of Roy Hobbs talking to his manager in The Natural:
I remember signing a contract, to play ball not to be put to sleep by some two bit carney hypnotist!
I suggest that.. if the Royals really want to win.. they add pitching and hitting to the payroll instead of psychologists.


Technophobia is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers. This Forbes article reveals that:
  • Christopher Walken doesn't use cell phones or e-mail.
  • Simon Cowell says he doesn't know how to work a computer.
  • Paul McCartney has admitted he doesn't know how to use ATMs and prefers writing letters over e-mail for "aesthetic" reasons.
  • Elton John suggested that the Internet be shut down for five years to spark better quality art and music.
  • Orlando Bloom has revealed that he doesn't e-mail or own a computer, because he "just [doesn't] want to deal with it."
  • Larry King says he has never done an Internet search
  • Actor Casey Affleck said his fear that cell phones cause cancer caused him to pitch his handset into the Hudson River. But within a few days he bought a new one.
Do you know anyone who refuses to use a computer, cell phone or some other techno device? I'll bet the list doesn't include HDTVs :)

Viral Emails

I got another viral email message today.. this one purported that Obama snubbed troops in Afghanistan. I checked it out at and found it to be false.. these messages often are just propaganda from one point of view. Here is the Wiki on Snopes:
Snopes (pronounced /ˈsnoʊps/), also known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a website that is the most widely-known resource for validating or debunking urban legends, Internet rumors, email forwards, and other such stories of uncertain or questionable origin in popular American culture.
Do you ever check stuff out at Snopes or do you use another site like
Truth or Fiction? I am amazed at how many people embrace lies proposed in email messages. Next time you get one of these emails I suggest that you just snope it out.. and educate the sender of the email with your findings.

Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) was a late Medieval Catholic monk and author of The Imitation of Christ, one of the best known Christian books on devotion. Following are a few insightful things that he said:

First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.

Intelligence must follow faith, never precede it, and never destroy it.

Blessed are the ears that hear the pulse of the divine whisperer, and give no heed to the many whisperings of the world.

Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.

Occasions do not make a man either strong or weak but they show what he is

We usually know what we can do, but temptation shows us who we are.

The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.

Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.

Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living.

Castaway Kid

This video is an interview Castaway Kid author Rob Mitchell who was abandoned at the age of 3 and spent the years until he turned 17 in an orphanage. Following is the beginning of an Hour of Power interview with him.
When I was three years old my father abandoned my mother and I. He put a gun to his head, pulled the trigger and blew out part of his brains, but he did not kill himself. And for the next 26 years he was a walking vegetable in a mental hospital. A man with a college degree, a Master’s degree from Northwestern University could put food in his mouth but not remember to chew. He could walk but he could not talk. He could put his pants on but not remember where or when to go to the bathroom.

My mother had enormous emotional and psychological problems that she had masked prior to their marriage, but as always in marriage those masks come down. And three months after my fathers failed suicide attempt she dragged me from Chicago to Little Princeton, Illinois, and it was a strange building and I’m whimpering and she’s telling me to shut up and commands me to sit in a corner and play blocks with a strange boy. And I reach for a block and he steals it, and I reach for a block and he steals it, and I turn to look to my mother for help and she’s abandoned me without a word of explanation.

And a strange woman whose name and face I don’t remember said she’s gone back to Chicago and she would come get you when she was well. And I still remember the three-year-old in slow motion clumsiness rising off the floor crying, no! And running to the nearest door and trying to reach the handle to escape and find my mother. And I was too short and I cannot reach the door. And this woman says, “Quit crying or I’ll spank you.” I was terrified and I couldn’t stop crying, and she picks me up and spanks me over and over and over again, until the pain of being spanked is worse than the pain of being abandoned. And my memories then go blank for a while.
Even reading this chokes me up. Rob's story is such a moving and uplifting one of redemption.. check out the 10 minute video interview and/or read the rest of his Hour of Power interview.

His Last Lecture

7/26 Update: Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon computer science professor whose inspiring "Last Lecture" became a viral video hit on YouTube last year, died yesterday at the age of 47.

2/29/08: Read more about Randy here.

New Bumper Sticker?

Okay, what was the first thing that came
to your mind when you saw the picture?

(HT: The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus)

Buck O'Neil

Today this statue is being dedicated and one of my heroes is being honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York. I wrote about Buck when he passed away back in October 2006. I was sad that major league baseball did not honor Buck when he was alive. I will never forget that day when this beautiful gentleman spoke to about 50 of us at work about his experiences growing up in segregated America and about how he learned to love people. He was a great man and worthy of the honor being bestowed on him today. This quote sums it up:

"Don't shed any tears. You think about this: Here I am, the grandson of a slave. And here the whole world was excited about whether I was going into the Hall of Fame or not. We've come a long ways.” - Buck O'Neil

Oprah Opinion

Yeah, I voted with the 75%. I probably wouldn't have voted that way if she stayed with entertainment and away from spirituality.. of course I haven't watched her in years.. but knowledge.. or a lack of it.. never has stopped me from having an opinion. How would you have voted?

Ark Replica

The massive central door in the side of Noah's Ark was recently thrown open for the first crowd of curious Pilgrims and townsfolk to behold the wonder of this replica of the biblical Ark, built by Dutch Creationist Johan Huibers. Check out more pictures and the story hehind the replica by clicking on the picture.

Elie Weisel

This picture moves me deeply.. it reminds me of what humanity can become when it loses it's God given humanity. Elie Wiesel is pictured in this photo taken in April 1945 at Buchenwald Concentration Camp five days after the liberation of the camp.

Elie (born Eliezer Wiesel in 1928) is a Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a "messenger to mankind," noting that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps," as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace," Wiesel has delivered a powerful message "of peace, atonement and human dignity" to humanity.

Here are a few of the things that he has said:

I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.

Peace is our gift to each other.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

I write to understand as much as to be understood.

Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.

Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.

There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.

We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else,
by using it for something else.

The Politics of Age

Last week the New Yorker magazine featured a controversial cartoon of the Obamas on their cover that they called The Politics of Fear. Vanity Fair magazine countered this week with a spoof of their own showing John McCain, using a walker, fist-bumping his wife Cindy holding RX drugs while the Constitution burns in the fireplace with a portrait of President Bush over the mantle.

Many may find this one more amusing than the Obama one but, frankly, this one hits a bit too close to home. I have seen age discrimination up close and think that, while it is not the issue that race discrimination is, age discrimination is a reality of life in America. Despite their superior qualifications older folks are often discrimnnated against in the job market. In truth, older people are not regarded in the same way that they once were.. maybe I just need to come to grips with this aging thing :)

Okay.. a bit of reality here.. how many of you.. when you vote.. will not consider Obama's race but will factor in McCain's age? I suspect that some will admit to the latter and might be offended that I even asked the former. Perhaps the question says a bit more about us than I am ready to deal with :(

Pangasianodon Gigas

This Pangasianodon Gigas (giant catfish) found in the Mekong River Basin of Southeast Asia weighs in at 661.4 pounds and is almost 10 feet long. Now that is some fish story J

The Moral Compass

Not sure if you have caught the Moral Compass series on the Dibert Strip lately.. you can see it on the Dilbert widget here on my blog.. but it has been a funny lampoon of the unscrupulous nature of the coroporate executive environment.

Iraq Withdrawal Horizon

Just in case you hadn't heard about it. Whether you call it a timeline, timetable or time-horizon I am just glad that there is agreement that it is time to put a plan in place to withdraw our troops!

What Road Workers Are Thinking

You know you pollute too much when.. host the Olympics..

  • 3.3 million vehicles have to be pulled off the roads

  • chemical plants, power stations and foundries have to be ordered to cut emissions by 30 percent

  • all dust-spewing construction is halted.
A World Bank study found China is home to 16 of the 20 worst cities for air quality. Three-quarters of the water flowing through urban areas is unsuitable for drinking or fishing.

Gotta onder how those Olympians are going to breathe.. especially the distance runners.

The NAACP and Black Abortions

I found this Wall Street Journal article, bearing the same title as this post, to be an interesting perspective from a newspaper that is often characterized to be part of the liberal press. Here are a few exceprts from it:

Yesterday was not business as usual at the 99th annual conference for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. For one thing, the first African-American to head the presidential ticket of a major party was on hand. Yet there was another interesting appearance that went mostly unmentioned. This was a protest by African-American pro-lifers – many NAACP members – who can't understand why America's most venerated civil rights organization turns a blind eye to what they say is the abortion industry's practice of targeting poor minority neighborhoods.
And these folks include Dr. Alveda King, a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King who says she knows what abortion does to a woman – because she had two of them before her change of heart.

"I remember when I was pregnant and considering a third abortion," she says. "I went to Daddy King [her grandfather and Martin Luther King's father]. He told me, 'that's a baby, not a blob of tissue.' Unfortunately, 14 million African-Americans are not here today because of legalized abortion. It's as if a plague swept through America's cities and towns and took one of every four of us."
In other words, could not the NAACP work for a society where pregnant African-Americans had two doors open to them? Planned Parenthood's not going anywhere, so the first would still lead to America's largest abortion provider, a business that has already eliminated millions from America's population. But the other would lead to people whose business is of a vastly different order: welcoming these children into the world, and getting their moms the help they need to live lives of purpose and dignity.

Then again, that would give women a real choice.

Crane Collapses

This video is pretty scary.. sort of. It seems that almost every month this year there has been a crane collapse in the states.. there was one in our KC metroplex recently. My understanding is that the governmental inspections on these are fairly few and far between.. the "industry" is expected to police themeselves but sadly don't seem to be doing a very good job. This is one industry that probably needs more governmental regulation.

Wyatt Earp

My ankles were acting up yesterday so I took some time to sit in my easy chair and catch this epic (aka too long) movie. I generally liked the movie but wished that it had been editted down. One aspect of it that reminded me of our current election process was when Dodge City replaced the tough (i.e. brutal) Sheriff Earp with the less violent Ed Masterson. Ed's forte was reasoning with gunslingers and talking their guns away from them.. Wyatt's forte was using force and taking guns away. Ed was eventually murdered and Wyatt was brought back to sheriff Dodge.

It caused me to think about how our country has enemies and it got me to wondering who would be tougher on our enemies.. John McCain (Earp) or Barack Obama (Masterson). Maybe this is a lame comparison but I think that it is the image that the media (and others) has foisted upon us. Who do you think we need.. Earp or Masterson?

I think that we need a little of both.. someone who is tough on our enemies but has the ability to communicate about our actions in a way that doesn't alienate our allies.. I think that the jury is out (for me anyway) on which candidate fills the bill. What do you think?


I was about ten years old when I played my first game of chess. I love the game but have never been very good at it. My favorite piece is the knight.. I love how it moves so different than all of the other pieces. In remembrance of my chess game (or lack of it) I give you a few quotes that speak to the game and to life:

In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate. -Isaac Asimov

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing. -Emo Philips

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it's really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas. -Stanley Kubrick

I failed to make the chess team because of my height.” -Woody Allen

My problem with chess was that all my pieces wanted to end the game as soon as possible. -Dave Barry

In life, as in chess, forethought wins. -Charles Buxton

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved. -Soren Kierkegaard

Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility. -Richard Dawkins

McCain at the NAACP

I had to remove the embedded video of the speech because it took so long to load and slowed down my blog display. You can view the speech at the MSNBC website.

I though that it was a good speech.. he began with congratulatory remarks about the NAACP and their contributions to our country. I liked what Senator McCain says about trusting school principals and judging teacher performance based on the success of their students. Also thought that he made a good point about companies leaving the USA to avoid high corporate tax rates. I apppreciated that he addressed the national debt and it's impact on our grandchildren. He had some good words about accountability in government. He spoke of how American bad news always reached him in the POW camp. The speech ended with a invitation to support his candidacy.

Only the Biblically Ignorant will Vote for Obama?

I came across something today in a Christianity Today article. Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio organization affiliated with Focus on the Family made the following statement about Barack Obama's attempt to garner support from the religious right:
"The only evangelicals that he's going to win over are those who have never read the Bible," said Burress, who was one of a handful of conservative leaders who met with McCain on June 26 in Cincinnati.
Hmmm.. not sure what to make of this kind of allegation. I guess that it is much of the same rhetoric that I once espoused in the name of orthodoxy.. but I am sure that Mr Burress has a lot of folks that agree with him.. after all.. we all know that only Republicans read the bible. J

Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) was a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery, who is today most commonly remembered for the closeness of his relationship to God as recorded in the classic Christian text, The Practice of the Presence of God. I thought that I would share a few of his quotes with you todau:

Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.

We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual walk with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive.

Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we are aware of.

We must do our business faithfully, without trouble or disquiet, recalling our mind to God mildly, and with tranquility, as often as we find it wandering from him.

Obama on Responsibility

Just a one minute clip from Barack Obama's speech to the NAACP conference in Cincinnati. It is a great message.. you can watch the whole message here.


My friend Codepoke recently signed off a recent comment about the 110 mpg Mustang with TANSTAAFL. I was not familiar with this acronym so I asked my friend about it and he linked me here where I discovered:
TANSTAAFL is an acronym for the adage "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch," popularized by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which discusses the problems caused by not considering the eventual outcome of an unbalanced economy.

It demonstrates opportunity cost. Greg Mankiw described the concept as: "To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another."
With the state of our (American) economy these days I was wondering..
What trade offs do you think we Americans needs to make to secure a more economically sound future for our grandchildren?
I'll start by saying that we need to find ways to operate better in this global economy. Foreign nations like China hold the mortgage on our national debt. Maybe we need to trade off cheap trinkets from China for American made ones.

Somehow we need to find a way to pay down our debts and become financially independent again. Our governmental leaders need to find a way to fund huge initiatives like Social Security and Medicare, which are becoming more crisis like as more boomers (like me) enter retirement. Maybe we need to trade off Social Security and Medicare until boomers (and beyond) reach 70.. yikes did I say that?

Just a few thoughts. How would you answer the question? And remember TANSTAAFL J

Einstein: His Life and Universe

I had to remove this video because of it's slow loading from MSNBC.. you can catch it at their website.

A recent Morning Joe interview with Walter Isaacson about his book Einstein: His Life and Universe. Check it out if you are curious about who Albert would vote for.

Flip Flop Flap

Yesterday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about how candidates sometimes change their positions on issues. Here is an excerpt from the dialog:
"In politics out there, they always say, 'Well, now, I don't know anymore what he really stands for. He has just changed his mind...'" Schwarzenegger said.

"Flip-flopper," said George.

"'...and he's flip-flopping' and all those kinds of things," the Republican governor continued. "Let me tell you something. Flip-flopping is getting a bad rap, because I think it is great. Someone has made a mistake. I mean, someone has, for 20 or 30 years, been in the wrong place with his idea and with his ideology and says, 'You know something? I changed my mind. I am now for this.' As long as he's honest or she's honest, I think that is a wonderful thing. You can change your mind...

"I have changed my mind on things and there is nothing wrong with it," Schwarzenegger continued. "But I'd just say to the people, I'd say, 'Look, I once felt this way. Now I think this way,' end of story."
I tend to agree with Arnold and don't think that every policy change is a flip-flop or political maneuver .. of course some are :(

The Politics of Fear

An excerpt from this NY Daily News article:
Barack Obama's campaign lashed out Sunday at the editors of The New Yorker magazine for a cartoon cover that depicts the Democratic candidate and his wife as fist-bumping terrorists.

The magazine's editor described the cartoon, called "The Politics of Fear," as satire. The Obama campaign called it "tasteless and offensive."

The Illinois senator is depicted in traditional Muslim garb in the Barry Blitt illustration set in the Oval Office.

His wife, Michelle, is in fatigues, sporting an Angela Davis-style sky-high Afro, an AK-47 slung over her shoulder.

A portrait of terror kingpin Osama Bin Laden hangs above the fireplace, in which an American flag is set ablaze.
Sadly the magazine did not provide any explanation of the picture.. in doing this they play into the politics of fear instead of exposing it. I found the image disturbing and agree that it is "tasteless and offensive".. I wish that the New Yorker magazine did not use it.

In this video Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor for The New Yorker, defends the cover of the magazine.

Running of the Brides

Footage of yesterday's Annual Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement in Baltimore, Maryland. I just thought that.. in light of all the craziness in Pamplona.. the gals needed their day in the sun.

Tony Snow, 1955-2008

Last December I wrote I post called Unexpected Blessings. It was a piece that highlighted a Christianity Today piece on Tony Snow. On hearing of his passing today I just had to share a few bits of wisdom from this great man.. the following are from Tony's heart to yours:
Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.

We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us partway there.
I encourage you to read the whole Christianity Today article.. it will give you a picture and a model of God's grace.

McCain=Bush Trespasser Ejected

This 2 minute video shows how, on orders from Senator John McCain's security detail, Denver police ticketed a 61-year-old woman for trespassing and escorted her away. She was carrying a "McCain=Bush" sign and waiting in line to attend a so-called town hall meeting with McCain that was billed as open to the public.

This is very troubling. Sad that the sign was considered anti-McCain. Also sad that this woman was treated the way that she was. Seems to be an abuse of power at best :(

HT: Dave

Morning Joe

Do you enjoy talking politics but have grown tired of the talking heads spewing rhetoric under the guise of news? I suggest that you give Morning Joe a try. Recently reviewed by the NY Times, Joe is the show that replaced Imus and airs weekdays at 6am eastern time on MSNBC - we DVR it and watch it over breakfast. It is a blend of politics, culture and most of all balanced civility - with a bit of laughter thrown in too boot. If you have seen it please let me know what you liked or disliked about it.

World's Funniest Laugh

A 54 year old English teacher from Bangkok's won the title of the world's longest, funniest and loudest laugh.. but is it really a laughter when you are not reacting to something funny? Hmmm..

Hurricane Names

For every year, there is a pre-approved list of names for tropical storms and hurricanes. These lists have been generated by the National Hurricane Center since 1953. At first, the lists consisted of only female names; however, since 1979, the lists alternate between male and female. Here is this year's list:

Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paloma, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, Wilfred

Did your name show up? If not maybe it will be on the 2009 or 2010 lists.

110 mpg Mustang

According to this video Doug Pelmear, a mechanic living in Napoleon Ohio, has tweaked his 1987 Mustang to get 110 miles per gallon.

"My grandfather had the idea back in the 40's that he can make a difference then," Pelmear says, "There was quite a need at that time also with the war going on and everything, there was quite the need then." And quite a need now.

"We redesigned a lot of different things on the [engine] block," Pelmear told the Toledo Blade newspaper. "It's still a rod-and-piston engine; it just has a lot more electronics on it."

Traditional gas engines operate at 8 to 10 percent, efficiency, while the engine on the Mustang, he said, is at 38 percent efficiency. He said he could greatly increase even that number if his car used traditional gasoline instead of a mix of gas and 85 percent ethanol.

Are you as amazed as I am? 110 mpg.. and the best the big auto makers can do is 30-something mpg? Gimme a break! Something is wrong here!

Moonlighting Senators?

This image and text showed up today in my Bloglines reader under the Yahoo! RSS feed. I thought that the picture had to be a mistake and went to the AP article only to find these guys were still shown next to the same story.

Maybe we need to give these senators a raise :)

Crazy in Pamplona

Thirteen people were injured in Pamplona's first bull run of the year today after the animals ploughed into a crowd of spectators.

I guess some folks just need a little excitement in their lives..
I have all I can handle :)

Nadal #1 in My Rankings

Roger Federer of Switzerland is #1 in the latest ATP rankings released today.. this is the 232nd consecutive week he has been in the top spot. Raphael Nadal of Spain is ranked #2 for the 155th straight week.

I find this hard to believe since Nadal beat Federer yesterday in a match that lasted nearly five hours. He beat Federer in this second consecutive Grand Slam final. He trounced Roger at the French Open in June. He is certainly the #1 these days.. at least in my book.. and I am one of Roger's fans!

And on another note.. that match yesterday was a great one.. we left the match for church.. we had lunch with a friend.. and watched part of the 5th set as we were leaving the restaurant.. simply amazing feat of physical and mental ability by both men.. and great viewing as well.

Royals: 11 of 12

I can't believe it but, since posting this one on June 28, the boys in blue have lost 7 of their last 9 games.. glad I don't believe in jinxes :)

Okay, I am the first one to admit that I have become somewhat of a fair weather Royals fan.. but this recent winning streak (11 of their last 12 games) has got my interest peaked again.

Cellphone Courtesy Month

July is National Cellphone Courtesy Month – an event author Jacqueline Whitmore founded in 2001 with the intent to encourage the increasingly unmindful corps of cellphone users to be more respectful of their surroundings by using some simple cellphone etiquette principles.

In Whitmore’s new book Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work, she offers the following eight tips to those who want to improve their cellphone savvy:
  1. Let your voicemail take your calls when you’re in meetings, courtrooms, restaurants or other busy areas. If you must speak to the caller, use the e-mail or text messaging feature or excuse yourself and find a secluded area.
  2. Speak in your regular conversational tone and don’t display anger during a public call. Speaking loudly or showing emotion may distract those around you.
  3. Use your vibrate function or turn off your phone in public places such as movie theaters, religious services, restaurants, etc. Many wireless phones now have environmental settings that automatically adjust the phone and its features so you do not disrupt your surroundings.
  4. If you are expecting a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.
  5. Avoid interrupting meetings, social gatherings or personal conversations by answering your wireless phone or checking your voicemail. Discreetly excuse yourself if you must take the call.
  6. Use discretion when discussing private matters or certain business topics in front of others. You never know who is within hearing range.
  7. When walking and talking on your wireless phone, be aware of your surroundings and remember to respect the rights of others.
  8. Practice wireless responsibility while you are driving. Place calls when your vehicle is not moving. Don’t make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions. Use a hands-free device in order to help focus attention on safety. And always make safety your most important call.
I think that #1 is the offense that I am most often confronted by. When a person regularly answers their cell during a conversation it communicates their lack of value of the moment they are in. What about you? Which is your top issue?

Marriage vs Civil Union

Casey and I have been dialoging about same sex marriages at his place. It got me to wondering about the differences between civil unions and marriages. I found some interesting verbiage on it at the Fact Check website. Here are a few interesting excerpts from it:

We find three main differences between civil unions and marriage as it's traditionally viewed:
  • The right to federal benefits. States that allow some type of same-sex union are able to grant only state rights. The Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 prohibits same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage rights and benefits.
  • Portability. Because civil unions are not recognized by all states, such agreements are not always valid when couples cross state lines.
  • Terminology. "Marriage" is a term that conveys societal and cultural meaning, important to both gay rights activists and those who don't believe gays should marry.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, stipulated that for all federal legal purposes “marriage” is a union between one man and one woman. Because of that legislation, all federal laws pertaining to married couples apply exclusively to opposite-sex couples.

The Government Accountability Office lists 1,138 federal laws that pertain to married couples. Many in that long list may be minor or only relevant to small groups of citizens. However, a number of provisions are key to what constitutes a marriage legally in the United States:

  • Taxes. Couples in a civil union may file a joint state tax return, but they must file federal tax returns as single persons. This may be advantageous to some couples, not so for others. One advantage for married couples is the ability to transfer assets and wealth without incurring tax penalties. Partners in a civil union aren't permitted to do that, and thus may be liable for estate and gift taxes on such transfers.
  • Health insurance. The state-federal divide is even more complicated in this arena. In the wake of the Massachusetts high court ruling, the group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders put together a guide to spousal health care benefits. GLAD’s document is Massachusetts-specific but provides insight into how health insurance laws would apply to those in a civil union in other states. In general, GLAD says, it comes down to what’s governed by state law and what’s subject to federal oversight. If a private employer’s health plans are subject to Massachusetts state insurance laws, benefits must be extended to a same-sex spouse. If the health plan is governed by federal law, the employer can choose whether or not to extend such benefits.
  • Social Security survivor benefits. If a spouse or divorced spouse dies, the survivor may have a right to Social Security payments based on the earnings of the married couple, rather than only the survivor’s earnings. Same-sex couples are not eligible for such benefits.

Other federal areas in which couples in civil unions don't have the same rights as married couples include immigration (a partner who's a foreign national can't become an American by entering into a civil union with someone) and veterans' and military benefits (only opposite-sex spouses have a right to pensions, compensation for service-related deaths, medical care, housing and the right to burial in veterans’ cemeteries). Gay couples, however, may actually benefit when applying for programs such as Medicaid or government housing that require low-income eligibility. A spouse’s income is included in such applications, but a same-sex partner’s income is not. One change has been made in federal law: A provision in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 allows same-sex couples to transfer 401(k) and IRA earnings to partners without penalty.

So, I guess that the main difference between these two is very legal in nature and may not really mean much in the actual practice of living together as a couple.. with the exception of the perception of legitimacy. If a couple is legally recognized by the state (as civilly joined) then, from what I can see, the argument here is a legal one of federal proportions.

What do you think? Is the difference between marriage and civil unions mainly a legal one or is it more about being legitimate? Or am I missing something?

Whose Christianity?

"Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?" Obama said. "Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?"

I wonder if Christian leaders will ever agree about political faith issues? Of course Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson agree about something! Maybe there is hope J

All USA Wimbledon Women's Final

Tomorrow Serena (left) and Venus (right) Williams will meet for the fourth time in the Wimbledon women's final. They last played in the final at the All England Club in 2003, a three-set match in which Venus was forced to play through hip and abdominal injuries and eventually lost.

I am a Tennis open junkie.. and it is rare these days that I get to root for someone born in the USA.. so forgive my post title.. go Williams sisters!

Happy Independence Day

A rousing rendition of our anthem circa 1942!

1 minute 11 seconds too long

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
In the first 30 seconds any fluid on the surface of your body would begin to boil due to lack of ambient pressure, this includes the saliva on your tongue and the moisture in your eyes. Your eardrums would most likely burst due to the pressure in your body trying to equalize with the vacuum outside. Unlike what some science fiction films have suggested, your body would not explode. [HT:Robin]

Larry Harmon, 1925-2008

Larry Harmon (born Lawrence Weiss), the man who popularised Bozo the Clown, died yesterday of congestive heart failure. While not the original Bozo, Harmon was largely hailed for honing the clown's trademark look by adding the orange clumps of hair, the big red nose and that crazy red, white and blue costume.

I remember watching Bozo on TV.. aaah.. sweet memories.

How to Confuse an Idiot

HT: Locusts and Honey

Faith and Politics

I liked this 5 minute Hardball interview with, one-time Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, David Kuo.

According to Wikipedia, Kuo's book Tempting Faith is a political and spiritual memoir of his time in Washington working with the so-called "religious right". The book received attention primarily because of his assertion that President Bush's "compassionate conservative" promises were never fulfilled and used for primarily political purposes — a claim that was echoed by John DiIulio but was denied by the White House. He also claimed that the Bush administration used Christian voters while simultaneously ridiculing Christian political leaders.

With all of the faith-talk being proliferated during this election season, I think that Kuo's perspective is something that we should consider as we listen to what the candidates are saying about faith.

Mystery Quote

Without looking it up, tell me who said:

"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."

Was it:
  • Abraham Lincoln?
  • William James?
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi?
  • Irving Berlin?
  • All of the above?
  • Someone else? Namely?

Extra credit if you provide another quote by any of these people.

Head Cheese

You can thank my blog-friend Wanda for this post. After she posted about her family pig and talked about head cheese I fixated on it and had to learn all about it.. in other words I looked it up in Wikipedia.. here is some of what I learned:

Head cheese is in fact not a cheese, but rather a terrine of meat from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow). It may also include meat from the feet and heart. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat. It is sometimes also known as souse meat, particularly if pickled with vinegar. It is also know as:
  • brawn, potted heid or pork cheese in the UK
  • fromage de tête,tête fromagée (which translates as "cheesed head") or pâté de tête in France
  • hladetina in Croatia and Serbia
  • cabeza de jabali in Spain
  • testa in cassetta (literally 'head in a box') in Italy
  • salceson in Poland
  • disznósajt ("pig cheese") in Hungary
  • pyeonyukin in Korea

I am fascinated by the universal appeal of head cheese but I think that my interest was really peaked by Wanda's post because head cheese was one of my dad's favorite delicasies.

Please let me know if you know anything else about this "cheese".. google it if you like.. and let me know if it is popular where you live.. and if you have ever tasted it you might want to post on it yourself :)