Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Is Coming - Again!

Well, Christmas is coming again. I wrote about it last year, so I won't rehash what I said then. If you missed it, here's the link:

I do have one crochet to get off my chest. Why do Christian radio stations play "Christmas" songs that don't mention the birth of Jesus? Aren't Christian radio stations supposed to glorify Him? Some Christmas songs don't even mention Christmas! "Winter Wonderland" and "Jingle Bells" are more about winter than anything. They fit in the middle of January as much as they do in December. Have these people thought about this?

I guess these stations are just going along with what's popular. And that brings me to the next topic I want to talk about: Why is Christmas so popular in America? Is it just due to commercialism?

Many of the colonists that came to America were Calvinists. They wanted to get away from the practices of the Catholic Church that they saw as corrupt and pagan-influenced, and so they did not celebrate Christmas. At the end of the American Revolution, most of the people that did celebrate Christmas were Catholic or Episcopalian. The Catholics included many in Maryland and the Hessian mercenaries that had fought for the British. The Episcopalians were dominant in Virginia and the Carolinas. Somehow, the observance of Christmas spread and became acceptable to groups that once ignored it or outright shunned the practice. How did this happen?

I attribute the change to 2 factors: immigration and literature. Music, movies, radio and television continued and amplified the influence of literature.

During the 1800's as the country expanded West, aided by the increasing speed of transportation brought by the development of railroads, and the by the increased speed of communications brought by the telegraph, the promise of new lands and new opportunties spurred an increase in immigration. Many of these immigrants were Catholics, coming from Catholic lands such as Ireland, Poland, and Italy. This increased the number of people observing Christmas.

The contribution of literature to the popularity of Christmas comes from two sources.

First is the poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore in 1822. You could probably recite most of it from memory from having heard it so much. This one piece of literature has defined so much of the imagery associated with Christmas. Of course, the sentiment and whimsey make it irresistable! For this reason it has become a tradition no only in many families, but in other places as well. One of the local TV stations every Christmas Eve has their staff, both on- and off-camera personnel, read the poem, one line per staffer in a video presentation.

Charles Dickens was known for the other great piece of traditional Christmas literature, A Christmas Carol (1843). He wrote other works on Christmas, and his novel A Tales of Two Cities (1859), has an important scene take place at a Christmas Eve service. The popularity of these works just added to the popularity of Christmas. Because Dickens was a lifelong Anglican, his works helped make Christmas acceptable to Protestants.

Of course, the popularity of a practice doesn't necessarily justify it. In the case of Christmas, I believe that what you celebrate has more to do with it than anything. Are you celebrating a day, or an event? The Bible doesn't tell us to celebrate Christ's birth, but it doesn't forbid it either. If you're not celebrating His birth, what are you celebrating? Aren't you glad Jesus was born?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Meditation

As I write this, Thanksgiving Day 2008 will be over within a few hours. I wonder how many Americans this day paused to give thanks to God for His many blessings, or at least, if they don't believe in God, to reflect on the elements of their lives they appreciate. Far too many people see this as a day for football, food and family, or preparations for the shopping frenzy that begins tomorrow.

I could go back and discuss the origins of this American holiday, to relate how the Indians and the settlers cooperated to survive a harsh winter and when the following harvest came in with enough to sustain them for the coming winter, they chose to celebrate with a feast. I could mention the various Presidential declarations establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday. But I wish to go deeper.

First, what does it mean to thank someone? We are told by our parents to say "Thank you," or at least parents used to teach that. Is it just something we say to be nice, to get along with others?

When you give thanks, you do two things.

First, you recognize that someone did something for you, or gave you something. Many times, the thing done was something you could have done for yourself, but maybe you didn't have the time or the means. Sometimes the act was something you couldn't do. In that case, giving thanks can be an act of humility. That might explain why some people are never thankful, they don't want to recognize their shortcomings.

Second, you recognize the value of what the person did or gave you. Think of how hurt you feel when no one appreciates what you do for them.

Now, about national celebrations for the giving of thanks, America is not the first. The feasts of ancient Israel include thanksgiving celebrations, and those celebrations continue today as part of Judaism.

At the end of Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, people would bring in the first sheaf of the springtime harvest and sacrifice it. This is the Feast of the Firstfruits, and marks the beginning of the springtime harvest. It also recognizes the fertility of the Promised Land that God was going to lead his people to.

Fifty days after the beginning of Passover came Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks. It originally memorialized when Moses received the Torah from God on Mount Sinai, but it also marked the end of the spring time harvest.

Why give thanks to God? I believe John the Baptist said it best in John 3: 27: "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winter Forecast 2008 - 2009

My winter forecast is: Cold.

No, wait that's too simple. I actually don't do a forecast where I look over data and analyze things. I have hunches, I guess you would call them. They are the product of my subconscious mind processing my observations of weather trends.

Of course the temperatures will get cold in Oklahoma during the winter. Winter days around here are chilly in the afternoon, and cold overnight, sometimes freezing. Sometimes we have freezing temps during the day, but usually when we have a snowstorm, or worse, an ice storm.

Some are expecting a hard winter. I think we are in for a dry one. We've had 2 wet winters in a row, and Oklahoma winters tend to be dry. I believe we are due for a dry winter. We will have a few winter precipitation events, but only one or two will be major. I also believe we will see several episodes of very dry and very cold air coming straight down from the north.

So far, the only observations I have made that support this hunch are these: we have already had 2 freezes in the Tulsa area, but we haven't had much rain since mid-September.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Elections 2008

The elections are 2 weeks away. I've not said much specifically about them, and have made only a few political posts. However, I do realize the importance of politics and voting.

If you are one of those that don't see the point in voting, let me propose a little exercise that will open your eyes. Get out a sheet of paper or a notepad and your wallet/billfold/pocketbook. Make a list of what's in your wallet. Then go over the list and put a mark by any item that is issued by a government entity: money (Dept. of Treasury), driver's license (DMV in most states, DPS in OK), etc. Also put check marks by anything that is government regulated: credit or debit cards (banking), business cards from regulated or licensed operations (plumber, electrician, wrecker), etc. Now count the number of marks, and the number of unmarked items.

Now, if you are one of those who chooses not to vote because, "All politicians are crooks," consider this: Where else do you get to choose your crook? If you didn't have a choice about being robbed, but you could choose which crook, would you choose one who would steal only $10, or one who would steal $10,000? Or, would you let someone else decide? Guess what you do when you don't vote.

Back to this year's elections.
Too many of Obama's supporters think he is some kind of a savior. Well, I hate to disappoint them, but there is only one such position, and the current occupant, Jesus Christ, is not planning on vacating His spot anytime soon. I'm sure He's not too happy that people are trying to replace Him.

Speaking of Jesus and politics, I said in an earlier post that Jesus was probably more conservative than some people think. Consider some of His parables.
Parables are not deeply mysterious. They are illustrations of spiritual principles taken from common experience. The most well-known parable is the one about the Sower. This was something very common in an agricultural society where the work was done mostly by hand, because not many people had animals suitable for plowing and such. When Jesus started by saying, "A sower went forth to sow..." I'm sure more than one listener thought, "Been there, done that, my feet still aching from all that walking!"
I won't go into the spiritual side of the parables, but Jesus gave some parables, that just on the level of human experience, they would make no sense except in a capitalist economy.
The best one of these is in the first part of Matthew 20. A landowner needs to hire some men to harvest his crop. He goes to the village square early in the morning and hires some guys to work for a day's wages. He goes back at 9 AM, noon, 3 PM and 5 PM and hires more men. Each time he does, he offers a full day's wages to each group. When he pays everybody at 6 PM, he pays them all a full day's wages, including the guys that had been there only for an hour. The ones hired first thought they deserved more, because they had been there all day. But the landowner pointed out that they agreed to work for one day's wages, and he paid them what they agreed to. If he wanted to pay the other men the same amount for working a shorter time, that was his business and not theirs. He was paying with his own money, and it was his to do with what he wanted.
Of course, this story wouldn't make sense in a socialist or communist economy. The landowner wouldn't be a landowner, it would all belong to the government. Some bureaucrat would tell him when the harvest had to be finished, and how many workers he would have for the harvest, and how much to pay them.
Now, try telling me that Jesus was a socialist. Jesus flat out said that the kingdom of heaven was like the landowner, the capitalist.

I'll admit that McCain is not my ideal candidate for president. But he is not trying to pass himself off as any kind of savior, because he knows he's not, and presidents are not to be saviors.
Too often I hear or read where people say the president runs the country, or he runs the economy. NO HE DOESN'T!!! THAT'S NOT HIS JOB, NEVER HAS BEEN AND NEVER WILL BE!!! IF YOU THINK THAT WAY, STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT RIGHT NOW YOU....
Sorry, lost control there for a second. But this kind of ignorance is what gets liberals elected, and leads to the financial problems we are having right now. The government is not responsible for your welfare, you are. We do not have a command economy. No command economy has ever prospered. Communist China is prospering right now, but only because they have adopted limited capitalism. Orientals also have a very strong work ethic, and that is what has sustained them through years of socialism.

For those that doubt Sarah Palin's foreign policy experience, take good look at a map for once. You cannot enter or leave Alaska without crossing an international border or international waters. If you were to take that map, cut out Alaska and place it over the 48 contiguous states, you will see just how big the state is. Even though the population is small, governing that much territory is a challenge.

While I don't agree with all of McCain's positions, I believe he is right about the most important issues, he truly cares about this country and wants what's best for it, and I also like his taste in women.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Follow up on the Installing Software? post:
If you do have to call tech support, do yourself and the technician a favor: CALM DOWN!
I deal mostly with students that are installing software so they can work at the dorm or at home to finish their assignments on time. I know the pressure they are under, I've been up against deadlines too. But some people act as if they don't get the assignment in on time, they will fail and they have no hope of success. However, I have flunked courses, retook them and passed. Unless you are studying to be an emergency room surgeon, just how important is this work?
Stress can keep you from having a proper perspective on things. When discussing your problem, relax. Also, prepare for your call. Is the software giving you an error message? The message will have information the tech will need to research your problem. Keep the message up on your computer, or clipboard the text of the message into Notepad. The tech might have to ask you to send him or her the message in an email. Also, you might take some quick notes on what happens when you take the actions that cause the problem to appear.
I'm writing this because I actually hung up on a potential client this week. She had installed AutoCAD on a Mac notebook, and it was acting strange. For those that don't know, Autodesk, the company that makes ACAD, decided long ago to stop producing ACAD for Macs. They only produce it for Windows operating systems. To run ACAD on a Mac, you have to load Windows. I'm not sure if Autodesk supports ACAD in this setup. But that's not why I hung up on her.
I hung up on her because she needed to calm down. From the way she was acting, I believe that if I told her to calm down, she would have just gotten more upset. You could hear the tension in her voice. She talked fast, and threw a lot at me with each breath. If I didn't answer right away, she would start talking again and not give me time to think. When I did tell her that a virus could have gotten on the Windows side of her system, she contradicted me. Macs are NOT immune to viruses! It's just that hackers have easier targets in PC's. If Macs were as popular as PC's, they would have the same virus problems that PC's do. When I realized that she was making me nervous, and she wasn't likely to listen to anything I had to say, I hung up.

On the flipside, I had a very pleasant surprise yesterday. As I have mentioned, I work at home. I record information about the calls I take in a database that I access by a remote connection to a 'puter at the main office. Someone from the office brings my paycheck to me. But they have to deliver checks to other employees in the area, so it's not like they have to come out of their way to get my paycheck to me. The drive directly from the office to my house takes about 15 - 20 minutes. When I used to drive to the office, I would stop at a C-store for something to drink, and the trip was about 30 minutes.
I get a call from Barbara at the office. She asks if I'm going to be home about 30 minutes later. I say I was fixing to go somewhere, but I should be back by then. She tells me she would leave the office about 11:00. She then explains that they're being audited on Monday, and the accountants can't find the W-4's, and she needs to come by with a form for me to sign. In the back of my mind, I though, "Yeah, right!"
I run my errands, and get back in time. I'm actually sitting in my room about 11:30 when I hear a car door slam. I grab my pen just in case, and head towards the front door. Instead of a form, she had a cake, balloons and a birthday card signed by the people at the office. I haven't had a birthday cake in years. Usually, birthday celebrations at my house consist of ordering in pizza, and a card that might be handmade. The cake is chocolate, with lots of butter cream frosting, and it is so rich and deliscious!
I didn't get pizza, but Mom and I went over to Bixby because she wanted to get some fresh okra at Conrad Farms, then we went around the corner to the Apple Barrel Cafe, where she treated me to lunch. We both had catfish, which neither one of us has had in a while.

Just a few minutes ago, while typing in the previous item, I turned off my radio. I listened to the Tulsa University game against University of Texas - El Paso. TU won, 77 - 35! There's been talk about TU getting ranked in the Top 25, and now with a win this big, and 7 - 0 record, and other teams in the Top 25 faltering, it should happen. If it doesn't, well, I'm not saying it's time for pitchforks and torches, but...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Installing software?

Most people get by with the software that comes with their computer: word processor, spreadsheet, email client, etc. Some need specialized programs to pursue a course of study, or for their jobs, or sometimes just for a hobby. Some of these programs are commercially produced, and that accounts for my present job. I work from home, and I take calls from people that are trying to install and/or register student versions of Autodesk products.

Over the nearly 18 months I have been doing this, I have learned some general things that can save people some grief if they are trying to install a large and complex program.

1. If you need a software package for a course of study (degree or certificate), make sure you get the right product. Later courses might require more advanced features that are not in the basic product. The best people to advise you on this are the instructors or professors who will be teaching those courses. Don't rely on salespeople at a vendor, they probably don't know the difference, unless the vendor specializes in programs for that particular field. This is especially true of college bookstores. Many of the people working at college bookstores are business students, and if the product you need is not business-oriented software, they probably won't know enough about the programs for your field.

2. Before you open the package, check your computer against the system requirements. This is best done before you buy the program if you are on a tight budget. If your system won't take the program, or if your system doesn't meet the minimums, calling tech support won't help much to complain about the program not loading, or running so slow it crashes.
Be aware that companies are issuing large and complex programs on DVD's, and CD drives won't read them. This is a cost-saving measure because they can put on one DVD what would require 2 or 3 CD's, and they don't have to pay as much for raw materials.
One aspect of system requirements that I am aware of is graphics (video) cards. If you are using a program for drafting or animation, the manufacturer of the program might have a list of cards that are compatible, or they might specify how much memory the card has to have. The memory on the card is a separate item from the memory on the motherboard.

3. Make sure you are logged in as Adminsitrator, or with an account that has admin privileges. Not doing this can block you from installing the software.

4. If your computer is over 1 year old, or it has seen a lot of use in the few months since you bought it, clean it up. And I'm not talking about Formula 409 and Brawny paper towels, even though it might need those too. I'm talking about cleaning up old files and excess.
If you have any antivirus or antispyware programs, use them to scan the system for bad stuff. If you do have a virus hiding on your computer, you definitely want it off your machine before you start installing software. You never know what kind of mischief those things can do when you start the installation process.
The next step is to run Disk Cleanup or a similar program to remove excess files and empty the Recycle Bin.
Finish up by defragmenting your hard drive.

5. The last thing to do before inserting the installation disk into the drive: turn off all security software such as firewalls and antivirus programs. You can always turn them back on later. They can block or corrupt an installation, and make you have to uninstall and retry.
From what I have heard, the firewall built into the various flavors of Windows is not that good. You're better off leaving it off and using one from a different source.
Norton antivirus (AKA Symantec) is known for not getting along with Autodesk products, and I suspect that it is the same with other products.
For free alternatives to the Windows firewall and Norton, go to, and click on the Kim's Security Center button.

6. At some point during the installation, you might be asked or given the opportunity to configure the product. If you are a new user of the program, you will probably be better off accepting the default configuration.

7. Many software manufactuers allow you to register the product online over the Internet, or offline over the phone. Online registration works best with high-speed connections such as cable or DSL. Wireless and dialup connections are iffy at best. Offline registration might not be available on the weekends, so I recommend registering during the week. Most software companies allow you to use the program for a trial period before you have to register, and if you wish to use that period, be sure to register during the week if the period is set to expire on a weekend.

8. If during the installation or registration process you cannot go on because you don't see a button at the bottom that says Next or Continue, you need to increase the screen resolution. Minimize the window. Right-click on an empty area of the desktop. Choose Properties in the menu that pops up. In the Display Properties dialog box, click on the Settings tab. In the lower left hand corner should be a slider that sets the screen resolution. Moving the slider one spot to the right usually does it for most people. Then click Apply and OK. Maximize the window, and you should be able to see everything.

Of course, these tips are for Windows, mainly XP. I don't think Mac users have these kinds of issues unless they are trying to run a Windows program.
The one tip I do have for Vista users is, if you do have any problems and the cause looks like it might be related to the operating system, turn off the User Account Control (UAC). It's that feature of Vista that tries to restrict everything you do.

Happy computing!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Forget Aunt Sally, I've got a GEMS for you!

No, I don't want you to neglect your relatives. You probably do that enough on your own without my encouragement. As a matter of fact, you ought to contact some of those relatives that you have been neglecting that would love to hear from you.

Actually, what I'm talking about is that mnemonic for remembering the order of operations in algebra: PEMDAS, or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. Math teachers offer that up as an easy way to remember Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition and Subtraction.

Instead of PEMDAS, I propose a shorter mnemonic, GEMS. Before I explain what GEMS stands for, I have to show you a different way of looking at the basic arithmetic operations.

In basic arithmetic, we learn to associate numbers with amounts of things: 4 apples, 3 oranges, 5 peanut butter sandwiches, for example. In algebra and geometry, numbers are associated with displacement. In algebra, the displacement is along a line, such as an x-, y-, or z-axis. In geometry, degrees and radians are displacement along a circle.

For now, let's just focus on the linear displacement.

You can draw a number line, with the left end representing zero (0). Now you can represent addition graphically with this number line. Let's say you want to add 3 and 5. First you count 3 units to the right of zero, then from that location, you can count 5 more units to the right to arrive at the answer of 8.

Now, I know that is a very simple illustration, but it shows how addition works linearly. Using this linear concept, we can see that the other basic operations are forms of addition.

Now draw another number line, with zero at the center. Numbers to the left of zero are negative. This allows us to see subtraction as negative addition, or the addition of a negative. Let's say we want to subtract 5 from 3. We count 3 units to the right of 0 to 3, then count 5 units to the left of 3 to arrive at the answer of -2.

If you've taken basic algebra, I've not really introduced anything new yet. What I am going to introduce that is new is the way to look at multiplication and division as multiplex operations.

Let's say you are going to use the number line for multiplying 4 and 3. Starting from zero, you could count to the right 4 units, then 4 more units, and finally another 4 units. In other words, you add three 4's. You could also count 3 units to the right 4 times. Multiplication is repeated, or multiple addition. One factor gives the number of times the other number is added.

If multiplication is multiple addition, then division is multiple subtraction. How many times can you subtract 4 from 12? Find 12 on the number line and count 4 units to the left, and repeat until you reach zero.

So, now I can say that GEMS stands for Groupings, Exponents, Multiplex, and Simplex.

Grouping symbols are parentheses, ( ), brackets, [ ], and braces, { }.

Exponents include powers, roots, and logarithms.

Multiplex operations are multiplication and division.

Simplex operations are addition and subtraction.

Now isn't GEMS easier to remember than PEMDAS?

If your name is Sally, and you are somebody's aunt, please don't take this personally.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

America again

Well another Independence Day has come and gone. The day itself was quiet for me because I didn't go anywhere or do much of anything during the day, and mowed the lawn in the evening. It seems a shame to do that on a holiday, but I haven't always been able to mow when I needed to. If the weather stays dry, I shouldn't have to mow again for at least a week.

Also, it costs to go see fireworks displays except for the one that happens here in Kiefer, and I'm not that impressed with them. Sure, they are pretty and interesting, but I would rather see a firepower demonstration. A firepower demonstration is when mortars or artillery from different units, or the guns from several ships, fire at a common target or target area, usually at night. Soon after I joined the National Guard, my best friend from the old neighborhood joined too. He went into the mortar platoon, I went into communications. He got to participate in several firepower demonstrations. I never saw one.

Don't think for one minute that my staying home and mowing indicates I don't love this country. I do love America. Similar to what I said in my previous post, outward expressions of patriotism are not as important as how you live everyday.

I don't want to rehash that issue, but I do want to revisit another issue about America where my view does not match the view of many others.

I'm sure that yesterday that many preachers said that America is a Christian nation, or they will say it tomorrow during Sunday morning services.

I'm not sure that a Christian nation is possible. The view of what many people think a Christian nation is, is not biblical or realistic.

The original use of the term "Christian" in the Bible referred to disciples, or followers, of Christ. Has America followed Christ? Are all Americans followers of Christ? Has any nation ever followed Christ?

Also the term "Christian" is defined as a born-again believer. When someone is born in America, are they born a born-again believer. Obviously not.

I believe that too many believe that you can not be a good citizen of the United States without being a Christian. I reject that notion. To be a good citizen of America, you mainly need to believe in what this country was created to be, a land of freedom.

I do see that America is a nation with a Christian heritage. Certain phrases and principles in our founding documents relate to things in the Bible. I haven't taken the time to research this in depth, but one example I can easily point to is in the Preamble to the Constitution. The clause that says "insure domestic Tranquility," relates to Paul's instruction to Timothy to pray for "all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life."

Thursday, July 3, 2008


As I write this, it sounds as if a firefight is happening outside my house. My town has been invaded, but for a good reason. The Kiefer Lions Club holds their Independence Day celebration on July 3rd. It draws in lots of visitors, such that the population almost triples on this evening. The fireworks display will start soon, and then it will sound like a regular bombardment! May locals will blow up their own money, uh, I mean, fireworks while waiting for the big display.

Why celebrate? I have heard negative comments made about America, and I can see that some do not have the patriotic feelings I have. As far as I am concerned, that is their problem, not mine.

It does not matter to me if the United States of America is the greatest country on the face of the Earth or not. I do believe it is, but even if it weren't, I'd still love this country. Why? AMERICA IS MY HOME!

If you were to come into my house and start messing with my family and my stuff, I wouldn't just sit by and watch, or whine and beg you to stop. Why should I be different about my country?

I know we have lost some freedoms, and some have eroded in the name of protecting us from ourselves. But America more than any other country still stands for freedom. Some have called Bush a dictator, but he will leave office peacefully in a few months, and his critics will still be able to speak and move about freely. In many other countries, you criticize the nation's leader, and that might be the last thing you say in public for a while, if not forever.

Now I'm not one of those that waves the flag, or wears American flag shirts or hats all the time. I do have a hat with the flag on it, and another hat with a flag pin on it, but I don't wear them often. I usually wear hats only during the cold weather seasons, and which hat I wear depends on whatever else I am wearing or the occasion. To me, its not as important to show your patriotism by what you wear or display, as it is to show your patriotism by how you act everyday.

And speaking of displays, if you are going to display the flag, be a REAL American and display it RESPECTFULLY. I do not enjoy seeing a flag that is tattered by weather instead of combat. Neither do I enjoy seeing flag flown at night without a light on it. Whenever I see a flag in a storm or even a routine rain shower, I wonder if it is weatherproof. I am glad I no longer see those flags that fly from car windows. All too often they would fall off and the driver would not retrieve it, and if it stayed on, it wound up battered. If you wish to fly the flag to show your feelings about your country, use your brain and find out the guidelines for displaying it properly.

Have a Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I haven't said much about my family on here, mainly because I don't get to see anyone, except for my mother, unless it's a holiday. My brother David who lives in Kansas will usually come down for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sometimes when Dave Roberson Ministries has a conference.

Well, David and his wife Cyndy came down last month, and they treated Mom and me and his mother-in-law Leota to lunch at Cafe USA in Sapulpa. Afterwards, we went to Leota's apartment where we sat and talked for couple of hours. That was extra nice, because at Christmas, his sons Jon and Phillip come up from Dallas, and there's so much talking going on, so many different conversations going on at once, that you have a hard time getting caught up.

During that visit, my brother mentioned that his oldest son, also named David, and his wife Coreen, and their son Anakin were coming back to Tulsa in about a month for a visit.

Cute baby pictures ahead
We eventually met up at Ken's Pizza in Sapulpa for lunch (almost 2 hours later than planned), and again went to Leota's apartment.

This is Anakin looking out the window of the restaurant at Taft Avenue. I'm sorry that I couldn't darken the background, but the dominant feature is a business that's been closed for a long time, so I'm not too worried about it.

That's my brother David holding his grandson.

Like most boys, give Anakin a ball, and he's ready for fun! David the younger and Coreen are smart in that they have bought soft balls for Anakin that are less likely to damage anything. I could say more about the fun we all had, but I'll just leave it with this: anyone who says there's no such thing as a perpetual motion machine must not have ever had kids!

At the restaurant, David the younger mentioned something about him and Coreen having another one on the way. Pray for them, especially Coreen!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Amateur Radio Field Day - This one will be different!

Amateur Radio Field Day, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, always comes on the last FULL weekend in June. This year it happens on Saturday the 28th, and Sunday the 29th.

Field Day is a combination of a contest, a public relations effort, and an emergency preparedness exercise. The contest period runs from 1300 (1PM) CDT on Saturday to 1300 on Sunday. During the contest, FD stations will try to contact as many stations as possible, on as many bands and using as many modes (voice, Morse code, etc.) as possible. The ARRL awards extra points for stations that operate on independent power sources, such as generators or batteries. Other ways to gain points are to set up in a publicly accessible place and have a public relations display, or to have visits by representatives of agencies served by ham radio during emergencies and disasters. For these 2 reasons, clubs will often set up a FD station at a public park, run the radios by generator or battery power, and have a table with brochures about ham radio, emergency preparedness, etc. Many clubs often incorporate their club picnic or cookout into the festivities.

This year will be no different in that Field Day in Tulsa will have it's share of wire antennas supported by trees or portable masts, droning generators, the aroma of hamburgers, hot dogs and brisket, and the staccato rhythm of a CW (Morse code) station.
What will be different is that, for the first time in Tulsa, several clubs will have a joint Field Day operation.

In the past, the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club and the Tulsa Repeater Organization have had separate operations in different parts of town. The Broken Arrow Amateur Radio Club usually would have a station going, but I'm not sure how consistent they were. The American Airlines Amateur Radio Club usually has their regular club meeting and testing session on the last Saturday of the month. If it fell on the FD weekend, and someone was interested enough to bring out a radio, they might set up a short FD operation.

This year, these 4 clubs and more will coordinate their efforts at a single location. The Tulsa City-County Health Department grounds has a large field north of their building at 51st and 129th East Ave. That's where Field Day will be held; and appropriately enough - it's in a field!

This location is close to Broken Arrow, and not too far from the TRO and AAARC meeting places (21st & Garnett, Pine between Garnett & 129th, respectively). The AAARC will have their regular meeting and test session there that Saturday morning. Normally, they restrict their testing to those who have called or emailed beforehand to arrange for the test, but this time, WALK-INS ARE WELCOME! Other clubs will have stations operating under their separate call signs, but will have a common area for feeding and classes.

FD rules allow for setup to begin after 1300 on Friday, and the TARC usually takes advantage of that provision, so they will start setting up first. If you are in the Tulsa area that weekend, and you have the time, swing by for a visit. Even if you are not a ham radio operator, you can come and learn, maybe even get your hands dirty, so to speak, by helping to get an antenna up in the air. You can also try your hand at operating a radio, as long as there is a ham present with the license for the frequency and mode you want to try, and they are willing to show you what to do and say (Most are!).

I plan on being there late Saturday afternoon and evening. Hope to see you there or talk to you on the air!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Busy Week

Well, it was actually more than a week, but I went somewhere everyday between Friday, May 29th and Friday, June 6th, except for Wednesday. The highlights include getting caught in storms 2 days in a row, 3 job interviews, and and a search for a pair of pants that cost waaaay more than what I wanted to pay.

On Saturday, I went to visit my oldest brother in north Tulsa. I could see storms approaching, but I thought we might get to where we were headed before they hit. However, the storm hit just as I was getting onto the I-244 bridge southwest of downtown Tulsa. Visibility dropped to near zero due to the heavy rain and my windshield fogging up. I hadn't quite figured out the defrost setting on my car, so we wiped it first with tissues, then I remembered I had a small squegee/sponge combination within reach. I slowed to a crawl, and managed to get us there despite drifting to the leftmost lane when I wanted to be in the rightmost.

On Sunday, I worked the Tulsa Tough rest stop in Kiefer again, as I have for the last 2 years. I could see storms again to the northwest. The line was oriented southwest to northeast, and moving east. From the traffic I heard on the ham radio net, the storms hit Kellyville directly to the west about 30 - 45 minutes before they arrived in Kiefer. The rest stop was scheduled to close down at 9:30, and it did. Once the crew broke down the equipment, loaded up and left, I noticed a couple of bottles left behind. I picked them up and went to my car. Just as I got there, I felt the first drops of rain. I drove about a mile east to the new school complex, and parked facing the storms. I watched a wall cloud move southeast to the west of town. It was a shallow wall cloud, it did not rotate, and it dissipated as I watched. I didn't bother to call it in. I did drive into some hail on my way home.

Two of the job interviews were conducted at the Rowland Group, a professional staffing firm in Tulsa. The first one was on Monday, and was conducted by one of Rowland's staffers. He was screening drafters with 3D parametric modeling experience for a company. On Thursday, the second interview was with the owner and the product development manager for Cyclonic Valve. It was one of the best interviews I've ever had, but no job offer yet.

Before the interview on Thursday, I needed to find a nice pair of pants to wear. I am hard to fit, thick waist and short legs (they just barely reach my feet!). I stopped at a few places on the way home Monday, but no success. I eventually wound up on Tuesday going to The Men's Wearhouse, and paying $140 for a pair of khaki slacks. Ouch! Well, at least I have a nice pair of pants that fits me and I can wear them to interviews.

The last interview was with McDaniel Technical Services. Their primary business is tank and pipeline inspection, but in the course of doing that, they get requests for drawings of what's being constructed, or for what has already been constructed. That was another positive interview, but still no offer.

I hear the demand for drafters and engineers in Tulsa is good, and I have plenty of help for my job search, so I am confident that I will find the right job soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wheels Redux

Well, I have done it. I have managed to get myself into a new set of wheels that work. As I promised in my earlier post about this, it's not a Ford.

It's a 97 Pontiac Sunfire. Not what I really wanted, but it will get me around to look for something that pays better that my current job. I paid (well, my bank did, actually) only $2K for it, which the least anyone should pay for a used car. For a pickup, you could go as low as a thousand, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're not handy with wrenches and screwdrivers.

I picked it up back on May 9. Kiefer is not a big town. We have a bit of industry, but not many businesses that deal with the public, mostly 2 C-stores and 2 car lots. I got the car from Ed's Car Mall, which is located right off the main road from Kiefer to Bixby.

I didn't tell any of my local ham radio friends about this until Monday, Memorial Day. I had mentioned on the local nets that I might just show up at a ham radio event unannounced, and I did. The Tulsa Repeater Organization has supported the Maple Ridge Memorial Day Run for about 10 years. I haven't worked this event for 2 years, and I just showed up at the staging area, and asked for an assignment. Good thing I did. A couple of volunteers on the list didn't show. We had enough people to handle the job anyway. Several others said they were glad to see me, but I think the Activities Chairman was the most grateful, except for Mark Conklin. Mark has given me many rides to work and ham radio events, and I am still grateful for every ride.

I haven't yet put my mobile radio in the car, but I might this Saturday. I'm already signed up to work the Tulsa Tough rest stop at the Kiefer City Park on Sunday morning.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where have I been?

Nowhere, in a physical sense. I know I haven't posted anything in 2 months, but I haven't really been in a mood to say anything.

Since my last post, I have bought a new cell phone. My old cell phone is OK physically, but I had to let it drop in the summer of 2006. I primarily go with prepaid phones because I don't make many calls. I could have paid to get the old one reactivated, but I figured I'd probably pay the same as what I did for the new one.

Why did I get a new cell phone? Well, the battery on the cordless phone I use for work has dropped out on my unexpectedly a few times. Also, with the weather warming up, I'll be walking longer distances, and I like having a phone with me when I'm out away from the house. If something happens to me, or I see something that needs to be reported to the authorities, I will be able to make the call.
The phone is a refurbished unit, one of those skinny flip phones that fits comfortably in my pocket. And it has a camera.

I used the camera to take pictures of an item I use often. The item is a PennyPincher, a device for holding pennies until I have enough to make a roll. I posted the pictures in a thread on CR4 to see if other members of the forum could guess what it was. Here's a link:

And this is one of the pics:

Sorry about the quality, but the camera is part of a cell phone after all.

Here are a few images that I have created in either in AutoCAD or Inventor and posted on CR4:

The first 3 are from a Challenge Question thread about a design based on a ring of tangent circles. The fourth is from another Challenge Question thread about the distance between cities. Here are the links:

Two other significant changes since my last post: I have started using Firefox, and I have made a major purchase. I'll elaborate on the purchase at the right time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I don't know how many people follow this blog, but you if you do, you might have noticed that I sometimes do not post for a couple of weeks. Sometimes, I can't think of anmything to say, and sometimes I get distracted.

One of my biggest distractions is an engineering oriented website called CR4. It is associated with another site called Globalspec, a site that allows engineers or designers to search for parts.
CR4 has forums and blogs. The first blog I went to was the Challenge Questions blog. Each week, the blog owner posts a puzzling situation, and members try to guess the answer or offer their own explanation or solution. Sometimes someone proposes a solution that is better than the official answer.
When I'm on CR4 and I'm not in the Challenge Questions, I'm in the General Discussion forum. I'm easy to find there because I'm the only one from Kiefer OK.
The addy is

I used to be on the Stormtrack forum quite a bit, but there has been too much drama there and not enough fun. The only sections I look at there anymore are the Forecast and Post Storm Discussions.

Sometimes I spend time on You Tube looking at videos of a lost art form - the novelty song. Artist that specialize(d) in novelty songs are Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Allan Sherman, and Ray Stevens. Wierd Al Yankovich is only artist today that comes close to producing new novelty pieces, but his works are mostly parodies of pop hits. Novelty songs are more original, but they might use more familiar tunes.
I believe this country is losing something valuable by not having new novelty songs. This might be a sign that we are losing our sense of humor.
If you need a laugh, go to You Tube and watch a few novelty song videos. I recommend you start with Spike Jones renditions of "Cocktails for Two," "Clink, Clink!" and "Der Fuhrer's Face." Then look up Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" That one is a classic! Then finish up with Ray Stevens' "The Streak," "It's Me Again, Margaret" and "The Mississippi Squrriel Revival."

Politics, politics, politics!

This presidential election campaign is starting to wear thin, and we're still in the primary stages! Other countries don't have election cycles that run this long. Now, America is not like other countries, but if political activities and processes are to be relevant to the general population, I think it would be okay to take a lesson from some of these other countries.

The big issue in the background is that the Democrats decided not to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida, and these states will not likely allow re-votes. The Democrat convention is going to be up for grabs, despite what has happened in the primaries and caucauses. So, the Senators from Illinois and NewYork will continue to snipe at each other and maipulate things as best they can to defeat each other.

Here's how I would like to see the presidential primaries go:
States that rank in the lowest 25 in population vote first, up until April 15. Then the bigger states go, and have to finish by June 15. Then the surviving candidates take off from campaigning until a week after July 4th. The national conventions have to be done by the end of August. Campaigning begins in earnest after Labor Day.

I wonder, is there a reason that Election Day comes so soon after Halloween?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Something New

I just added an RSS feed from the Storm Prediction Center to the sidebar of this blog. It's called the Storm Panel and it is linked to information about watches, warnings, mesoscale discussions, convective outlooks, etc.

I am experimenting with this because eventually I want to start another blog exclusively about severe weather, and that blog will have feeds from the SPC and many of the NWS offices in Tornado Alley.

I'm still new to this webposting stuff, except for forums, discussion boards, and email reflectors.

What I would really like to have is a page that displays current national radar, regional radars for the Alley, each of the Day 1 - 3 and the Day4 - 8 Convective Outlooks, and the Mesoscale Analysis Pages.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Weather makes me poetic

Actually, many things bring out the poet in me. I wrote quite a number of poems back in high school. I haven't done much lately, but the winter storm that left 3 - 4 inches of sleet crusted on my yard in January of 2007 inspired this piece:

Is not neat!
Makes it hard for me to stay on my feet;
Dealing with it leaves me beat;
My hate for it is complete!

These pellets of ice
Are not nice!
Second to freezing rain,
Which is such a pain,
They are nature's most devious device!

Packed down hard on the street,
Also solid and hard
On my yard,
Covers my grass;
Makes it easy to fall on my... posterior.

Oh, snow!
I wish you would just go!
As to where,
I really don't care.
As long as you are not on the ground
I'll be glad you're no longer around!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Universal Health Care = Rationed Health Care

Universal health care is not the panacea it is promoted to be.

For a health care system to be universal, it must be managed by the government because the government is the only universal factor in society. The problem with that is the only way the government to manage health care is to ration it. So, a bureaucrat in a government office somewhere becomes the one to decide who gets health care, what kind of care they get, and how much.

Sound familiar? Isn't that what people have criticized HMO's for doing? With government rationed health care, that's what we can expect, and to a degree worse than what anyone has experienced with HMO's. Why? Because HMO's are businesses, and businesses will change their policies when they lose customers to their competitors. The government doesn't have competitors. People relying on government rationed health care are not customers and do not have the option of seeking health care anywhere else. Without compitettion, the government has no incentive to chage its policies, unless a riot occurs right outside the bureaucrat's door.

Someone recently wrote in to the Tulsa World and stated that Jordanians have a longer life expectancy than Americans, implying that this indicates a deficiency in the US health care system. Chances are, Jordanians eat a healthier diet than the typical American diet. The lettter writer didn't say anything about the type of health care system in Jordan. I don't hear much about people going to Jordan just to get superior health care. But I have heard of people coming from Canada to the US for life-saving surgery.

Health care begins with each individual. We all make choices, good or bad, about diet, exercise, hygiene and safety, that have a greater impact on our health than the decisions of any doctor, nurse, dentist, physical therapist, or government bureaucrat. Do you want the government taking those choices away from you or anyone else? For the government to make those choices for you is tyranny.

Beware of statistics cited by bureaucrats and politicians that seem to favor the government takeover of health care. If they can convince people of the for need government rationed health care, then they have created a need for government. If you "need" the government to take care of your health, you "need" the bureaucrats and politicians. They call that job security.

Before someone begins to think that I am a rich Republican who has gobs of insurance or can afford whatever health care I want, I have not had insurance for a long time. I did not have insurance 6 years ago when I had surgery. I am still paying the bills. If you think that is a pity, that the government should help me by paying my bills for me, my question is: Why? Why should the government do that for me? The government didn't cause my problem, and the government is not responsible for taking care of me. I am.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I've got a set that doesn't work. My car died close to 2 1/2 years ago. In early 2005, my Ford Tempo developed overheating problems. The water pump went out. When the mechanic showed me the old water pump, the fins on the immpeller were gone! I could tell they had been reduced to rust. I found out later where that rust went.

The overheating problems started up again that summer. Short distances weren't a problem. But long distances during the day were another story. I wound up stopping and waiting for the crumpled compact (that's another story!) to cool down several times before going on to my destination.

At one point, I had the mechanic replace the lower radiator hose. He told me that the bottom of the radiator was full of the rust that came from the water pump impeller. Chances are, the engine coolant wasn't circulating enough, if it was even able to move at all!

The oveheating problems caused me to replace the alternator and the fan motor. Then, one night I went to the Red Cross headquarters in Tulsa to check on the progress of the ham radio operations in support of the Hurricane Katrina evacuee shelter at Camp Gruber. Before I could get out of the parking lot to go home, the muffler drops down! Fortunately, it was under warranty from Midas. Unfortunately, on my way home from getting the muffler replaced, the engine overheated again and got hotter than it ever did before. After that, the Fractured Ford was hard to start and produced a strong smell of gasoline.

Later, while discussing the possibility of fixing the Twisted Tempo with a mechanic who seemed to be very familiar with Tempos and their problems, we determined the problem was most likely a cracked head. Well, the Twisted Tempo is now the Terminated Tempo.

I have thought about taking a picture of it, showing the body damage, and putting it up for sale on e-bay as an ugly lawn ornament. That's about all it is good for, except for storing some tools and a few other things in the trunk.

The good news is that I am in the market again for a vehicle. I have saved up enough that I can officailly start looking for something.
My first choice is a small pickup. Next would be an older half-ton pickup, but I would go for a car if that's the best deal I could get.

I do know one thing already about my next vehicle. It will not be a Ford!!!!!

FORD = Fix Or Repair Daily, Fill Oil Reservoir Daily, Flippin' Old Rebuilt Dodge, Found On Road Dead (Ford LTD = Found On Road Dead, Left There Dead, LTD by itself means Look Twice Dummy!), Failed On Race Day, Foul Obnoxious Repulsive Dud, Future Operation Requires Dementia.

One thing I have noticed is when someone parts ways with a vehicle that is not a Ford, they will say that they sold it, traded it in, gave it away, or whatever. When talking about a Ford, they say "I got rid of it." Nobody gets rid of something they really want to keep.

In case you haven't noticed by now, I HATE FORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Politics, again

Well, Super Tuesday was almost a week ago, and the political landscape has changed a bit. Some of the changes were not to my liking, and they are beyond my control, but I did what I could. I voted. In the long run, voting is the most significant thing anyone can do during an election. Of course, you could actively campaign for the candidates and issues you care about, but isn't the goal of your campaigning to influence the votes of others?

Many question the need to follow the issues and vote. They think it doesn't affect them. Oh, but it does! If you want proof, look no further than your own pocketbook.
Get out your wallet or pocketbook sometime, along with blank sheet of paper. Make a list of everything you find in there. Then put a checkmark by anything that is issued or regulated by any government agency. Put a second mark by those items issued by the government. Now count up the number of items and the number of check marks. Divide the number of check marks by the numer of items, and multiply that by 100. That gives you the percentage of how much you should care about politics and government policy.

Of course, some say that all politicians are crooks, and they don't deserve your vote. Well, I will say, that in America, you get to choose your crook. Let's say you are given a choice between a crook who wants $50 of you money, and another who wants $50, 000. Which one would you choose?
And that's not the most relevant aspect of this situation. The politicians are going to get elected anyway. Do you want to let someone else decide which crook takes your money?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Storm Warnings and the Public

The tornado outbreak on Super Tuesday once again brings up the issue of why some people died and why some people don't heed or receive warnings.

As a storm spotter, I am concerned about this issue. I spot storms because I enjoy looking at the storms and trying to analyze what I see. But storm spotting is primarily a public safety effort, so I don't just watch the storms, I report on anything I see that needs to be reported to either help in the warning decision process or to confirm warnings by providing ground truth.

Many times after a major tornado event, TV stations and newspapers will carry a quote from a survivor saying, "We didn't get a warning!"
With all due respect, many people don't get warnings, not because the warning didn't come out, but because they just don't "get" the warning.

Part of the problem is the criteria the National Weather Service uses to define a severe thunderstorm. The thresholds for wind and hail are too low. The NWS considers a storm severe if winds are at least 58 miles per hour, or hail is 3/4 inch in diameter, about the size of a penny. As a result, the NWS issues severe thunderstorm warnings, the warnings get confirmed because a spotter reports wind or hail that matches the criteria, but no damage occurs. The public then becomes accustomed over time to not expecting anything bad to happen. Then later, a thnderstorm drops golfball-sized hail on someone or strong winds knock out power and tears up some stuff, and people are surprised that something bad happened!
The NWS has improved their warnings. They no longer issue warnings that blanket entire counties.except when the entire county is threatened. Now the warnings will cover only the threatened areas, and the text of the message will mention specific cities and towns.

The biggest element in this issue is the public: how they perceive and receive the warnings.
In some places, the public receives no warnings because of in insufficient delivery system. Many areas do not have sirens to alert those who are outside, or in their cars. Some areas have poor TV and radio reception, and some TV and radio stations will not interrupt their regular programming to give out the warning. To solve this, the FCC could require all TV and radio stations relay storm warnings, and people in communities without sirens could seek government grants and such to buy sirens.

A related problem is that many warning messages make a blanket statement that everyone in the warned area should take shelter. When people do, and then they find out later that all that happened was that someone several miles away lost a few shingles, they start to regard warnings as overblown, and then they tend to disregard any warning that comes out. I believe, that unless a storm has a history of producing damage and injury, or the radar clearly indicates strom characteristics that will definitely mean that damage or injury will occur, then messages should state that people should watch their local area and be ready to move to shelter quickly.

The biggest contribution to the solution would be public education. The public needs to be informed about the difference between watches and warnings, the availability or NOAA Weather Radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology, and the just how real the threats of severe weather are.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Politics and religion

Two topics you should never discuss in bars and at family reunions. But on a blog -- they're in open season. In this presidential election cycle, I've seen more discussion of the role religion plays in politics. Here's a few of my thoughts:

Most say you shouldn't mix politics and religion. If you are talking about basing political decisions on religous affliation, I would agree. The conflict in Northern Ireland is an example of that. When it comes to political positions based on religous beliefs, how can you keep those separated?

Too many people try to make Jesus into some kind of a social or political revolutionary. Sure, He talked about taking care of the poor. But He never said anything about government doing that. He did say we would always have poor people among us. Why do some then try to eliminate poverty by political or government means? I often hear people say the government shouldn't spend money on the space program, the war on drugs, military defense, etc., that the money should be spent on the poor. Yet I never hear anyone say that candidates for political office shouldn't spend millions on TV ads, that that money should go to the poor. (I will probably add another post later, on whether Jesus is a conservative or a liberal, and go more in depth.)

Many of my fellow evangelical Christians are reluctant to vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. I do see most Mormon beliefs as false, so I would nver encourage any one to become a Mormon. But does that disqualify him as President? IIRC, President Taft in the early 20th cetnury was a Unitarian. Unitarians' basic beliefs differ from those of most who call themselves Christian. While Taft might not be regarded as a great or outstanding president, he is not considered to be a bad president either. He also served on the Supreme Court after his presidency, and his record as a justice is comparable to his record as president. In light of this, and considering Romney's record, his experience in government and business, and the way he conducts himself, I would have no problems with him as president. Of the candidates left in the race, he appears the most presidential to me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Okay, I know the college season ended last night, and the pros just started their playoffs this weekend. But now, I'm ready to record some comments.

College: I don't care much for either of the teams that played last night, and I don't think that either one is qualified to be national champion this year. They both came in with 2 losses. A champion with 2 losses? I know it happens in the pros, but the pros have playoffs. I'll say more about playoffs in college ball later.

In my book, West Virginia and USC should have played for the championship. Between those 2, I believe WVU would have won, and they deserve the title. I say that because of the way they were not intimidated by OU, and the way they dominated the Fiesta Bowl. The Mountaineers would not have been intimidated by the Trojans, and they would have found a way to upend them.

I am still a fan of OU, and not just a fan of the football team. I am a fan of the school, especially their school of meteorology.

Now about those playoffs for NCAA Division I football: I believe the case has been made for having them. But 2 questions remain.

The first question is how to conduct the playoffs. Forcing freshmen and sophmores to play too many extra games would overload them, so I would say that no more than 2 rounds should be held. I suggest dividing the country into half and taking only conference champions, one from the East and one from the West. The East representative would be determined by a game between contenders chosen from the Big 10, the SEC, the ACC and the Big East, whichever 2 conference champions have the best records. The West representative would be chosen from in a similar manner from the Big 12, the Pac 10, and the WAC. (I know that the WAC champ wouldn't often qualify, but BYU and Boise State sometimes produce very good teams that could be considered contenders) To make this system meaningful, the conference champions would have to be determined by a title game. If this rule had been in effect this season, Ohio State might not have been in consideration for the national title.

The second question is how to make it happen. No matter how much fans might want it, and no matter how badly the Botched Championship Series chooses the wrong teams to play in the title game, a playoff will not happen for one reason - money. Too much money has been invested in the current bowl system for the bowls to go away. The bowls don't have to go away completely for a playoff system to bve implemented.
The bowl games started as a "reward" for teams that had a good season. For teams from other conferences, this can remain the same. A few of the smaller bowls might have to be converted to playoff games, but the playoffs can be added. But the question is still where the money will come from.
Fans could boycott the bowls,and that could cause the money to be redirected towards a playoff system, but I don't see that happening. The most likely way I can see a playoff being instituted at the college level is for one sponsor, or a group of sponsors, to approach the NCAA and offer to back the playoff games. But it would have to be someone with enough bucks to make the NCAA say yes.

On to the pros: My team, the Washington Redskins, has been eliminated, so of course I am sad about that. I am also saddened to see that Joe Gibbs has resigned as their coach and team president. He will stay on as a special adviser to the owner, and that will be a good thing as long as the owner actually listens to Coach Gibbs.
I am not surprised or shocked to see this happen. Coach Gibbs was out of the game for quite a while, and the game changed while he was away. I'm not sure he kept up with all the changes. But what he did with the team is a testimony to how great a coach he is. Despite the loss of their best player to murder, the team went to the playoffs. As I see it, Coach Gibbs has earned his retirement.

I am by no means an expert on football, but I will say that the winner of the Seattle / Green Bay game will probably go to the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Public Prayer

The Tulsa City Council recently decided to no longer open their meetings with prayers offered in the name of Jesus. Some in this area have expressed the opinion that this amounts to discrimination against Christianity and Christians. I would agree that is the motivation for many of the lawsuits, petitions, etc. for curtailing or eliminating expressions of Christianity from government activity, in this case, I don't care if any government meeting opens with a prayer in the name of Jesus.

Of course, Jesus instructed His followers to pray in His name. He also said that if you believe in your heart, you shall have what you say. Just simply appending the phrase, "in the Name of Jesus" to a prayer is no guarantee that your prayer will be answered. You must also have faith in your heart. Too many times "in the name of Jesus" becomes just a meainigless formality.

This brings up two things that I often hear about religion or faith that I do not agree with.

"You should respect other people's beliefs." Really? Have you compared the teachings of Christianity with Buddhism, or Hinduism, or any other religion? Quite a bit of conflict there in some cases. Satanism is a legally recognized religion, and is the polar opposite of Christianity. How can Christians and Satanists respect each others' beliefs?
I'm not saying that any religion should be outlawed, or anyone should be forced to accept any particular belief system. I might not agree with or respect what you belive, but I respect your right to believe what you believe.

"Religion is a private affair and does not belong in public." Boy, Jesus should would have a problem with that one. He said He would deny before His Father any one who denied Him before men. Christianity is meant to be publicly expressed, not hid away in houses and churches. This saying that religion should be private goes against the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I don't believe in them.

Why wait for January 1 to try to solve a problem or change your behavior? If you have a problem, start working on it as soon as you become aware of it, or as soon as you are able. If you need help, get help. Otherwise, do the best you can. If you fail or have a relapse, don't give up. If what you are doing doesn't work, try something else. Keep looking for solutions.

I once read an article about the US Army Ranger School. Most of the soldiers that drop out do so within 2 weeks of finishing. That is a shame, because all they have to do is hold on for 2 weeks.
Maybe some soldiers weren't fully prepared for the load. I don't remember if the article said anything about if anyone was allowed to take the course again, but if they aren't, they should be allowed to after a while. Sometimes, you need two attempts to complete a difficult task.

I have succeeded at things that I have failed at before. I once failed a one-semester speech course in high school, but retook the course the next year and passed, and then went on to the two-semester speech course my senior year.