I just had to repost! The absolute best 16 minutes of YouTube that I have ever seen!
If you watch it please share one word that you feel describes the video. Happy Friday!

Coffee Day Q&A

Today is National Coffee Day supposedly sponsored by Juan Valdez.
To honor the day I offer you a few caffeine flavored questions and answers.
  1. Favorite Brand? Starbucks - sad but true.
  2. Favorite Blend?  Verona - enjoy the bold but smooth taste.
  3. Cups per day? Three to four of half caffeinated - can't handle the pure stuff.
  4. Cream or Sugar? I do like sugar but can live without it.
  5. Favorite Specialty Coffee? Foamy decaf latte in the afternoon.
  6. Favorite Cafe? Milton's in Lawrence, Kansas - great java and food.
  7. Alone or with Company? I enjoy sharing a pot of coffee with the fabulous Ann!
Please chime in, answer a few questions and share a bit about your caffeine addiction.

Crazy Never Wins

Joe Scarborough's recent Politico post titled Crazy never wins GOP sweepstakes makes the point that one need not be an extremist to win the GOP nomination. In the article he speaks of the candidates that attracted his late father saying:
Guys like my dad do not gamble on candidates like Michele Bachmann or Newt Gingrich.

Guys like my dad tune out politicians who compare opponents to Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler.

And guys like my dad don’t cozy up to Texas governors who brag about seceding from the Union or call Social Security unconstitutional.

That’s why crazy never wins. It never even comes close.

So regardless of what is written about the Republican Party every four years by Northeast elites or right-wing nuts, guys like my father still hold the GOP’s fate in their conservative hands.
I resonate with Joe's dad today even though I would not have in my younger years.

Perhaps that is the not so subtle message? Maybe it is all about the sanity of maturity?

Pet peeves and other stuff about me ...

My friend Susan recently posted this meme and I thought I would do it as well:
  1. What is your biggest pet peeve? || Television volumes that increase several decibels during commercials.
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? || Right here in Kansas City. My children and grandchildren are here! I belong here.
  3. Have you ever been searched by the cops? || I have been patted down by airport TSA. I am a bit shifty looking.
  4. What is the one thing on your mind right now?
    || Ann's recovery. I am wondering how far her stem cell transplant will take her.
  5. What is your favorite song right now?
    || I don't really have a favorite song these days but I do enjoy elevator music.
  6. What talent do you wish you had?
    || I have always wanted to be able to sing but cannot carry a note in a bucket.
  7. What is your favorite drink?
    || AM: Starbucks half caff || PM: an occasional glass of dry red wine.
  8. Describe yourself in one word?
    || Relentless. I don't give up too easy and I usually hang on to long.
Feel free to share your answers here. Or let me know if you share on your blog.

Ridiculous Religulous

Hard to know where to begin. Caveat first: I did not watch the entire movie.. I could not stomach the way that Bill Maher edited conversations with any credible religious people to make his ridiculous points. The movie, the 30 minutes I viewed of it, was all about Maher and his atheistic bias. I did fast forward to the end trying to get a glimpse of any credible theologian.. and of course none were to be found. In fact, I did not see him talk to any religious scholars at all. Instead he preferred to ridiculously pretend to want to know what people really thought. It was sad - even for Maher. He is not a stupid man and really should not be making incoherent drivel such as this so-called movie.

Limitless | ★★★★★★

Last night I finished my geeky movie trifecta - not sure that I can really rate this one high as Ann fell asleep during it. Comparing it to the two other geeky movies (Source Code and The Adjustment Bureau) I think that I was disappointed - the hype was large on this one.

The flick is a take on what a person would do if they were able to use "all" of their brain - like brain power is man's big problem. The lead guy, played by Bradley Cooper, demonstrates all of the signs of a drug addict when he takes the pill that gives him mental prowess. And I think that this issue of addiction is the most troubling aspect of the movie when one considers the disappointing way that the movie ends.

I do think that the movie could have used a lot more editing - way too much silly chase and fighting scenes. I mean really - would greater brain power help you beat up a gang of fighters? And why did they need a great actor like DeNiro to play a thug-like executive? Overall color me a bit disappointed.
On scale of ten I give it ★★★★★★.

Taxing the Rich

Transparently speaking, I have flip flopped all over the place on this idea of taxing the ultra-rich. On one hand I listen to gadillionaire Warren Bullet speak about how he pays less, percentage-wise, than his secretary. On the other hand I watch a 60 Minutes piece that tells me that corporations and the ultra-wealthy are not paying taxes here but pay them where the rates are cheaper.

Consider these points from an article (from a somewhat biased site) titled
Tax The Rich? 14 Facts You May Want To Consider ...
  • The top 1 percent of all income earners already pay 39.5 percent of all federal income taxes. When you take all forms of federal taxation into account, the top 1 percent of all income earners pay 28.1 percent of all federal taxes. The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.
  • One recent poll found that 64 percent of Americans are in favor of raising taxes on those that make $250,000 or more a year in order to help balance the federal budget deficit. Another recent poll found that 72 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more a year.
  • Approximately 45 percent of all U.S. households pay absolutely no income taxes at all. Overall, U.S. households are now receiving more income from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes. This is clearly not anywhere close to sustainable.
Those are interesting but this is the one that got my attention:
The ultra-wealthy keep much of their wealth outside of the United States so that the government cannot tax it. It has been estimated that a third of all the wealth in the world is held in "offshore" banks.
Got me to wondering if our government is really smart enough to squeeze a few more bucks from the ultra-wealthy or if attempts to do so would just chase them, and their money, to other countries? All of this is starting to get me wondering if my friend Lynn is right about taxing spending rather than income. Conceptually it seems that such a plan would be more difficult to scam than our current one. What do you think our leaders in DC should do?

Thankful for all the Free Stuff

This funny image made me smile.

I was annoyed by the new Facebook changes. This image reminds me to be thankful for free software like Chrome, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and the like. Apart from Quicken I really don't pay for software these days.

Source Code | ★★★★★★

This is a pretty geeky movie.. I am a geek.. yet I really didn't get the geeky premise that, through technology, a person can mentally reenter the past and play out alternate scenarios in a quest to prevent a terrorist act. So, in that sense, the movie did not work for me.

Even so I did pretty much enjoy the movie. Ann and I both felt that it resembled the "Groundhog Day" movie a bit in that the protagonist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, experienced eight minutes of action over and over as he tries to discover who a terrorist bomber is.

If you enjoy geeky movies that have a bit of a suspenseful element to them you might enjoy this one. On a scale of ten I give this movie ★★★★★★.

Is Marriage a Civil or Religious Institution?

Ann and I were talking a few weeks ago and she told me that citizens of France needed to be married by the civil authorities before they could be married in church. I wondered about that so I googled a bit about marriage in other countries:
  • France: All marriages must be performed by a French civil authority before any religious ceremony takes place. ... The religious ceremony has to be performed after the civil ceremony (never before). The minister, priest or rabbi will require a certificate of civil marriage before any religious ceremony takes place.
  • Germany: Everybody getting married in Germany must first appear physically at a Standesamt for a civil ceremony. This is actually all that is needed, and the great majority of couples go no further.
  • Mexico: In Mexico, only civil marriage is recognized as legal. Persons wishing to do so may also have a religious ceremony, but it has no legal effect and does not replace in any way the legal binding civil marriage.
  • Turkey: Only civil marriage is legal in Turkey. You may, of course, have any religious ceremony you wish in addition to the civil one, but the religious service has no legal standing in Turkey.
I think that it is interesting how the religious aspect of marriage is separate from the civil in these countries. It seems that the latter is definitely needed if marriage affects the civil rights of the citizens of a country. Yet, for me anyways, the religious aspect is also required because I see marriage as a covenant rather than a contract. What do you think?

Sacrificial Giving

This funny cartoon hits to the core of what it means to embrace charity. It reminds me of something that King David once said:
I'm not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.
The idea of sacrifice in giving challenges me. On this Sunday I hope that it challenges you too.

Drive First | Sprint's Android Curb Texting App

Engadget posted this week about Sprint's new Android app that will prevent you from using your cell phone while driving. Here is a clip from the piece:
Are you concerned that your talky teenager is trying to keep up on the high school gossip whilst behind the wheel? Or are you a more experienced driver looking to get rid of the temptation to update your status at 65 MPH? Sprint's got you covered with Drive First. The app, announced by CEO Dan Hesse at CTIA in March, will lock up your phone when it detects you're in a moving vehicle; calls will be automatically redirected to voicemail and incoming texts can get automatically replied to with a customized message. The service costs $2 / month per phone.
Could be a good thing for parents but I do wonder how you would keep your kids from uninstalling the app from their phone? Also wonder why you would want to disable your phone when you are a passenger in a moving vehicle. I have more questions than answers.

What do you think? Would you spend the extra $2/month for the feature if you had teens?

Should an Alzheimer spouse divorce?

Televangelist Pat Robertson has done it again. This week he responded to a call from a viewer and began a firestorm among people of all religious backgrounds. Here is the question and his answer as reported by the New York Times:
“His wife as he knows her is gone,” the caller said, and the friend is “bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and now he’s started seeing another woman.”

“This is a terribly hard thing,” Mr. Robertson said, clearly struggling with the subject matter. “I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things, because here’s the loved one — this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly that person is gone “

“I know it sounds cruel,” he continued, “but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.”

When Mr. Robertson’s co-anchor on the show wondered if that was consistent with marriage vows, Mr. Robertson noted the pledge of “’til death do us part,” but added, “This is a kind of death.”
On their Facebook page the 700 Club offered this follow up:
Having had many close friends struggle through Alzheimer's, Pat has seen the devastating impact that it has on not only the spouse with the disease, but especially the caregiver whose quality of life also becomes completely debilitated by it.
Robertson's reply is offensive on so many levels.
  • Firstly, how can anyone categorize a person with Alzheimer’s as dead? This is simply ludicrous and presupposes that all people with the disease are incapable of loving interaction. His answer displays an alarming ignorance.
  • Secondly, when did marriage become all about what a person gets out of it? Where is the call to sacrifice and honor? Where is injunction to enter into the suffering of the hurting spouse? It seems that one having this sort of mindset looks for reasons to escape their vows rather than embrace them.
  • Lastly, where is the concept that Christian marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and their God? Robertson's answer comes across as a purely human response. He leaves God out of the situation and offers no spiritual advice at all.
When I think about this issue my heart wanders back to a room in a nursing home in a suburb south of Memphis. My dad shared a room with a man who had this sort of dementia. Before the disease the man had been a pastor. Each day that I was there I watched his wife come in and attend to his needs. My heart was lifted then and it is lifted now as I remember how much she loved her husband. This is a memory that greatly encourages me and shows me what love really is. Would that Robertson shared such a story with his caller.

What do you think of Robertson's reply to his caller. How would you have responded?

The Adjustment Bureau | ★★★★★★★

Loved this interesting look at the free will of man and the implications of an external entity controlling the fate of humanity. The movie poses many questions about things like fate and fatalism. In the end it offers an interesting perspective about how man can be free. In the end I think that the message of this movie is that love trumps fate and love must be courageous.

Regardless of your views on predestination or fate I think that you will enjoy the acting, story line and message of this one. I recommend it. On a scale of ten I give this movie ★★★★★★★.

Discovering the New Normal

I think the hardest thing for me was admitting there was something wrong with me and listening to my body; Not worrying about what people were thinking about me.

When you look normal on the outside, meaning you show no outward signs of being sick, you know that people have a hard time understanding or having sympathy to your illness. This is something that I know first hand. I was one of those people.

That I know is one of the things that God wanted me to learn through my own illness.

My family has learned a new normal. We all understand that it may have to be adjusted day by day, but communication and honesty about how I feel is a huge key it keeping a peace around our house! No matter what God is with me always and with Him I can do all things! Maybe not the way I used to, but by His grace I find a new way!

..excerpted from Discovering a New Normal by Keri Delphia

The Benefits of Tongue Piercing

This may not be the post you think it is.. especially if you are wanting me to comment on piercings or body art. If you have never imagined that anything good could come of such things I refer you to a GeekoSystem post titled Tongue Piercing Used To Control Wheelchair. The piece caught my attention because of its reference to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) where my wife recently stayed. Here is a clip from the piece:
The tongue is a strong muscle that plays a role in our ability to speak and digest (and taste) food. But for paralyzed individuals, the tongue could also be the key to gaining some mobility. Researchers at Northwestern University, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Shepherd Center in Atlanta have launched a clinical trial of a tongue drive system for wheelchairs.

The system is based on first piercing users’ tongues with a magnetic stud. A headset with sensors that can read the magnetic signals emitted from the piercing is worn by the user, who moves their tongue to signal the desired movements of their wheelchair. For example, pointing the tongue to the upper left corner of the mouth will signal the wheelchair to move forward.
I don't know about you but this kind of creativity, innovation and science wows me. Seeing so many disabled people at the RIC this past month (Ann shared a room with several) causes me to pray harder for innovations such as this one. If you are interested in learning more you can read the rest of the interesting GeekoSystem article here.

Fear, Islam, 9/11 and a Reason to Believe

Irshad Manji made an interesting observation on Morning Joe this week when asked about how the perceptions of Islam have changed since that tragic day ten years ago.
I think there is still far more confusion than there is clarity. I’ll say something else, and to me it’s the most dangerous F-word in the entire English language…but that word is ‘fear.’ I see among broad-hearted Americans -- who are non-Muslim – fear about asking questions of Muslims and Islam because they’re afraid of being judged as bigots for doing so. And I see among liberal Muslims, such as myself, fear of going on the record about our views because we fear either being called traitors by Islam supremacists or terrorists-in-waiting by Islam bashers."
It is interesting how fear plays such an integral part of the way that we have responded to the terrorism of September 11, 2001. Many of the email messages I receive about Islam are based in fear. So, in light of that, I thought that I would share a song in video, titled "Reason to Believe", that was written, and sung here, by Joe Scarborough, the host of Morning Joe.

I pray for our nation that we will move forward out of fear and suspicion to faith and love.

Happy Grandparents Day!

Tomorrow is Grandparents Day. It is a day that I will give thanks for the blessings he has given me in the form of Jordan and Malia!

Are you a grandparent? Are you doing something special to celebrate the day?

No Place Like Home!

After two difficult months in Chicago we arrived home about 5:30 last night! We came home to find that friends from our church, Resurrection Downtown, stocked our cabinets/ refrigerator/freezer and made an adjustment to the height of our bed so that Ann could transfer to it.

Many thanks to Alissa, David, Kelly and Scott for such a warm welcome home! You all are the greatest!

Bacon Hacks

It has been a while since I have posted anything about my favorite blog topic. After reading 8 Essential Bacon Hacks from LifeHacker I just couldn't resist. Here are a few of their hacks:
  • Ditch the Skillet; Fire Up Your Oven to Cook Perfect Bacon :: Grab a cookie or jelly roll tray, line it with foil, place the bacon on the foil, and then cook in your oven for 20-25 minutes at 375F.
  • A Strip of Bacon Saves Meatloaf from Sticking to the Pan :: The fat from one slice of bacon creates enough lubricant to prevent sticky or burned meatloaf.
  • Make Better, Less Messy Bacon in a Waffle Iron :: Cooking show host Alton Brown recommends this method as waffle irons make it easy to control the bacon by pulling away the grease from the cooking surface.
Check out the rest of their hacks here. My hack is buying only center cut bacon that has much less fat. Please let me know if you have any bacon hacks of your own!

Geeky Catastrophes

Sometimes people see the great advances in technology and forget that all has not been smooth sailing in this world of geeky geniuses. In a recent ZDNet post, titled Ten catastrophes: All-time worst tech industry executive decisions, Jason Perlow outs some pretty poor decisions. Consider a few of executives from their list who blundered big:
  • Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard: Compaq Merger :: The PC business that HP gained from the Compaq merger is now in the process of being spun off, after losing money in the face of tremendous low-margin industry competition.
  • Steve Ballmer: Windows Vista :: Nobody knows how much the Vista debacle really cost Microsoft, but it damaged the company's reputation and almost certainly amounted to billions of dollars of stalled upgrades and a significant exodus of users to Apple’s Mac platform.
  • John Sculley, Apple Computer: Throwing out Steve Jobs :: The 11-year period that Apple continued on without Steve Jobs is universally considered to be a major low point for the company.
  • Steve Case and Gerald M. Levin: AOL / Time Warner Merger :: In 2009, shortly after appointing a new CEO, Tim Armstrong, AOL announced it would spin off Time Warner into a separate public company, ending a fruitless eight year relationship.
To that list I would add Bob Allen, AT&T: NCR Acquisition. After many years and nine billion dollars of loss AT&T spun NCR off to obscurity. Any others that you might add to the list?

For those who labor ...

I am retired but I can resonate with the sentiment in this image.

Does time exist after we die?

I can still hear the voice of Rod Serling describing the Twilight Zone as a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. I have always wondered about this whole idea of time and whether another time bounded existence awaits us when we die. I question whether heaven could exist in such a time bounded realm. If it did then it would seem that God might not exist there because time appears to be something he created. It seem more logical, even though it is unimaginable, to think that we will enter an existence where we are no longer bound by time and, unlike this world, will be in the very presence of God. What do you think?


All summer I have been telling folks that I have spent my days in Chicago. On some level that is certainly true but the reality is that I have spent my summer in an small downtown area. Streeterville is a neighborhood of luxurious high-rise apartment buildings, internationally-renowned restaurants, popular attractions like Navy Pier and the John Hancock Observatory, and the world-famous Magnificent Mile shopping district along Michigan Avenue. It is also home to the campus of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago - of which I have intimate knowledge of. That said I thought that I'd share few thoughts from my stay.
  • Lake Effect: I was pleasantly surprised by the coolish weather. Seemed to rarely get above 80 and I enjoyed many meals and lattes sitting at a sidewalk table.
  • Driving Rudeness: I grew up in New York City and was a bit familiar with rude taxi cab drivers. All of the honking reminded me that I was not in Kansas any more.
  • Walking: I got a great deal on parking ($11.25/day) and have not driven (except once weekly in the garage) the van since I parked it. Consequentially I have walked a lot .
  • Food: It is amazing how old eating out can get when you are forced to do it every day. Fortunately my hotel had a kitchen and I could fix breakfast and dinner there.
  • Home: There is really no place like home. I am so looking forward to being back in my own place and sleeping in our bed. And it will be great to see Ann at night.
I could add more but thought you might enjoy a few thoughts. You also might want to check out my fledgling photo blog for some images of Streeterville. I plan to add photos in the days ahead so please check it out.

Life as a Humbling Marathon

"The marathon can humble you." -Bill Rodgers
This morning I read this quote by the world class marathon runner and began a bit of reflective introspection. Here are a few of my thoughts about marathons:
  • Persistence rules the day even when pain comes;
  • Preparation is essential and not optional;
  • Speed is trumped by endurance;
  • Runners compete against themselves rather than others.
  • All who complete the race are acknowledged as winners.
Lastly it is important to note that a long run will bring greater challenge and humility with each mile you run. In the same way life brings us all to a place of humility when we consider where we were mentally, emotionally and physically when our journey began.

AT&T, the Feds and at&t

Noticed yesterday that the US government has moved to block the merger of AT&T (my retirement benefits provider) and T Mobile. When I heard the news I flashed back to that day back in the early 80s when I heard that the Feds were trying to break up the Bell Telephone System that was comprised of 23 Baby Bells and the Long Lines company that employed me. On January 1, 1984 AT&T divested.

A lot has changed since then in the telecom industry - I think for the better. I think that the divesting of the Bell System produced a lot of innovation - of course some of the innovation was all about how these Baby Bells could regionally consolidate and how Southwestern Bell could buy the ailing AT&T and make it a lower case (i.e. at&t) operation. So what do you think? Would we be in better shape if telecom was still an upper case monopoly?