Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday, Monday...

Can't trust that day!

This Monday is different than other Mondays. I'm looking forward to the week. I know that Mondays are to be dreaded as a new week begins, but most of my Mondays aren't so bad.

For one thing, I don't have to be to work until 3 PM. I get a lazy morning and can get quite a bit accomplished before my work day begins. Today, I posted over at Healthy Living, put in a 2.25 mile walk, worked on the dreaded burpee challenge, booked a church for Sunday morning, prepared lunch, got my work dinner ready, cleaned up the kitchen, laid down for a short rest, and will stop for a quick errand on the way to work.

And...
I only have a two day work week as I head to Central IL to help mom and dad after dad's surgery.
And...
I have a church magic show Saturday afternoon in Northern MO on my way back home.
And...
I'm preaching Sunday morning at one of our association churches.

Yeah, this Monday turned out to be a great way to start a great week!

I hope that your week is as great!

John <><

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Found a Small Treasure!

Well, so much for more regular writing, eh?
Only one post on two blogs in the past week!

I'm not sure how it came to be that I didn't make the time to write this past week. I just happened that the week was over and ...no posts.

I've been working on getting my "magic" room more organized. Actually, "more" organized is a bit of a stretch. It's to the point of being a little overwhelming. I've decided that every time I go downstairs, I need to go into the room and fix one thing. It might be to throw something away, put something on a shelf or in a drawer, anything...as long as it's something. Little by little, it's getting better.

One of the advantages of this method is that I keep finding some cool things. Most of them are things that I bought years ago and have forgotten about. But this past week I found a real treasure! Okay, so it's not like something really valuable or anything, it was just something that was sort of special to me.

An Invisible Deck of cards!

You might ask, "How did you ever find an invisible deck?"
Good question, but that would be for another post.
For this post, I'll tell you that the Invisible Deck was the first trick deck of cards that I ever owned. I received it as a Christmas gift when I was around ten years old. Back then it was called the Imaginary Deck.  I think I like the name Imaginary Deck better. It works for the patter that I use. I'm going to go with Imaginary Deck!

I've been playing with this Imaginary Deck (don't worry, it's a full deck of cards). I have even taken it to work to share it with a few co-workers. So far, I've had great response to it!

I wish that I could share it with you here, but...
Unfortunately, my video and technology skills are quite lacking and a You Tube video wouldn't have the same impact anyway.

I've also found a few other items that I need to work on. Some are things that I bought because I thought they were cool effects even though I don't have a proper venue to perform them. Maybe it's time to find new venues! In any case, I'm having a good time playing with my newly found magic effects. So far, nothing new for my stand up routine, but I'm guessing that I'll run across something that I haven't used in a while for that venue, as well!

Have a grand week!
Be well,

John <><

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Inspiration for Writing; and creating an environment conducive to writing

As many of you know, I am a member of the Ozark's Chapter of American Christian Writers. In spite of the fact that I've had nothing published (other than the published ramblings of a couple of blogs), I am also an officer of our organization. My position as an officer is mostly due to my comfort in speaking before a group of people and ability to facilitate our meetings. Perhaps, they felt that by offering me a position on the Executive Team, it would make it easier to get me to agree to run the meetings.

Whatever the reason, as an officer, I was at our summer board meeting today.

Even though the summer meeting isn't really about writing, just being around people that are writing and publishing works makes me want to write more. I even jotted down a couple of ideas about things to write as we discussed various topics of business during our meeting. I hope to write more often...maybe even work on that book thing!

As always, the biggest obstacle is the irregular schedule of an air traffic controller. Throughout most of my career, I have enjoyed working the mid-shift. As a matter of fact, I generally work more than the normal one mid/week by taking one from a co-worker that really doesn't like them. One year I worked 15 of 17 shifts on the mid.

The mids at SGF are very quiet. We have never had the traffic to justify being a 24hr facility, but have had to deal with the politics, pull and power of various levels of government and continue to waste tax dollars to staff and  satisfy the unknown needs and irresponsible favors that have been granted along the way.

In many ways the mids have suited me very well. They suit my anti-social self very well as I work my area solo; no supervisors, no other controllers. They don't have a great impact on my sleep time as I haven't ever been one to sleep a normal eight hour kind of night. There are other benefits (including a 10% night differential) that make the mids attractive to me.

However, I'm also beginning to see the benefits of a more regular schedule. Last week I had a rare week without a Friday morning mid. It wasn't too bad. I got a good night's sleep on both sides of the day and felt a good energy level. I have another such week coming up and am looking forward to it. I may quit taking the double mids and even consider giving up my assigned mids when possible. It would be interesting to see how that changes things.

A more normal schedule would offer the benefits of more regular sleep patterns, more regular eating habits, more regular exercise times and the ability to set aside a more regular time to write.

I may have to polish my social skills as I start to work around other people more often. Others may not be so happy about my being there more!
We shall see!

John <><

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

My Other Blog

Don't forget to check out my other blog.
Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to keep up with my posts over there.

John <><

Monday, July 07, 2014

Making Lists

I am not a list maker.
I'm pretty sure that we've gone over this before.
But I'm thinking that a little more organization in my life might serve me well.

For the most part, I'm a rememberer. My spell check says that isn't a word, but I'm going to stick with it just the same. My memory does a pretty good job of keeping me out of trouble by remembering the important things. I even remember tons of insignificant things. But sometimes I don't do so well in remembering little things that I would really like to remember.

Maybe making lists would help.

I used to write things down but forget to make a mental note of where I put what I had written. I didn't matter. Writing it down seemed to be enough to lock it into place in my memory and the paper became unnecessary. Going back to that (along with remembering where I keep my notes) might not be a bad idea.
It would save a lot of second trips to the store and get less important things done in a more timely manner.

I'm also looking to improve my use of time. Scheduling things like time for exercise, food prep, writing, etc., would mean that I actually do more of those things that I'd like to do but seem to manage to put off until it becomes unlikely that I'll actually get them done--or done well.

For today, that means finishing my morning writing and coffee, taking a walk or getting in a short walk/run, going to the store to get this weeks supply of healthy foods, preparing my meatless Monday meal for work, cleaning, cutting and bagging my fruit for the the freezer to use in smoothies throughout the week. Holy smokes! I should have made this list earlier!

Well, as new habits are tough to get set, I'll start small.
In addition to the above mentioned items, I'll add one more to today's list--make a list for tomorrow!

Enjoy your Monday!
I think I'll put that on my list, as well!

John <><

Saturday, July 05, 2014

More on the ministry thing...

This first Saturday of July is a beautiful morning in Southwest Missouri. Just 69F at 9AM with a breeze rustling through the trees. It will be warmer later and the week to come holds temps in the 90s for us, but it is a beautiful morning as I enjoy my coffee on the deck with my computer in front of me.

In what is becoming a normal situation, a red wasp is hovering around on the inside of my screened in habitat. So far, they haven't bothered me and so I haven't bothered them.

I am a little disappointed (though not very surprised) that I didn't get any pastoral feedback on my last post. I am thankful for my one friend's comments. I really am a little frustrated about ministry and wondering just how all of it (not just my part) will play out in our society in the coming months and years.

As far as my part is concerned, is there room in conservative Christian theology for a socially liberal person like me? It appears that there is less room than there once was. In the past, I have used forums such as Out of My Hat and Facebook to share my social and political views, as well as my spiritual beliefs. Unfortunately, I believe that has been a part of my lower numbers of readers and fewer invitations to preach in churches--in spite of the fact that I have never used the pulpit to share anything other than the Gospel.

I've toned down the rants quite a bit and have really limited my Facebook posts and comments...perhaps too late. However, I have to admit that doing that makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite. It's not the real me. Of course, the real me is kind of a jerk and I'm certain that I don't want most people (there are a few that I'd like to unleash Ugly John on) to see the real me, but I don't feel free to completely express myself within the highly judgmental community of Christians.

In my heart, I often feel like dumping the whole concept of church as we know it -- or as we've created it to be. I wish that I could just be free to live out life as I believe Jesus instructs us in the Bible and share that with others. I know that you are going to say that I can, but it is simply not that simple.

If I come out and disagree with you on the SCOTUS ruling of the Hobby Lobby case, I'm judged for it.
If I say the pro-life/pro-choice debate bears no weight in my political decision making, I'm consenting to murder.
If I say that I am not in favor of legislation that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, I am condoning sin.
If I follow the Bible and claim faith in Jesus as the only means of salvation and yet fail to live up to your particular set of legalistic rules for life, I am a heretic.

If I could live out my retirement as a hermit on a tropical island, I probably would.
But in the end, I don't know how I could face my God and say that my comfort was more important than telling people about His great love for them.

Maybe the preaching thing is over-rated. I just don't know. On Sundays that I'm not preaching or teaching, I feel like I'm missing out on some great work; that somebody needs to hear what God has called me to share. I wonder if I have been a poor steward of my gifts and squandered them on sharing my feelings and my message rather than sharing His love and His message.

Sigh.

John <><

Thursday, July 03, 2014

July 3rd: Examining the call and reinventing evangelism

It is a beautiful sunny day and unseasonably mild temperatures for the beginning of July. Temps are mid 70s and humidity is low for Southwest MO. It is very comfortable on the deck and the windows are open in the house.

It's a rare week that I don't end my work week with a mid-shift, but such is the case this week. I had hopes of skating out of work early tomorrow and heading to central Illinois to join my cousins and family for a 4th of July celebration, but life happens and it looks as though I'll stick around here. I could get the time off of work, but figure to go ahead and take the holiday pay. Maybe I'll invest it in a new kayak.

Chris was scheduled to work tomorrow but managed to get it off. She still has to work on Saturday, though.
She is planning on taking in a Jackson Browne concert Saturday night. I'll stay home and watch the fights. I'm not sure if I just have weird interests for a guy my age or just don't have any friends that share those interests (which would indicate that they might be a little strange--the interests, not the friends). Or it could be that I really don't have many friends (likely). I usually end up watching the fights alone and that's perfectly okay. I am pretty much of a loner when it comes right down to it.

I've heard it said that writers are often happiest when they are alone. That would be me...if I was a writer! Maybe that is something that I really need to focus on.
The whole loner thing has me considering what I'll be doing in retirement from ATC and whether or not the ministry thing is really my calling or my choosing. I'm not sure that I can explain that. Those that know what I'm talking about also know that it's difficult to explain to someone that doesn't.

In recent conversations with pastors and evangelists, it seems that today's evangelist is going to have to approach our calling in different ways than we have in the past. I've been thinking about an online revival.

Although I am a technological moron, I do know guys that are real tech geniuses. Although a video presentation is very possible, I'm not sure that an audio file wouldn't be a better choice. Even a written sermon series might do well and reach an audience that would never go to an actual church revival service. Such files would be easy to share with friends via text messages, emails or social networks. I know that there are already thousands of daily podcasts and blogs. I follow some of them. I also know that I reach--and you reach--many people that do not.

Maybe the writing thing and ministry thing are meant to come together in a new kind of work for me--electronic revivals from the comfort of my own well shaded deck! I can type away while enjoying a good cigar and a cool drink (or hot one in cooler seasons) and preach away, free from the judgment of otherwise well-meaning brothers and sisters in Jesus.  (The cigar thing might not work for a video revival!)

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on such an electronic revival--especially from pastors and other evangelists. Would an audio file that could be listened to during your commute or while you walk/run/exercise be an effective way to share the Gospel? Would a YouTube video message that you can listen to at your convenience be more effective at reaching today's active family than week long revivals at 6:30 PM every night?

I do not believe that God's message of love, grace and salvation has changed.
But, perhaps it is time that our methods of sharing it should change.

John <><


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Writers gotta write...

This is going to be on of those "forcing myself to write" kind of posts.
That means that it will be a random collection of thoughts that have been running through my head for some time and manage to make their way to the forefront of my pea-brain during this forced writing session.

Feel free to move along to your next site.

It is a beautiful, mild day for the end of June and I'm able to sit out on my deck with a nice Dominican cigar and a cool drink while I type away on the ol' keyboard. I have to check, but I'm thinking that next month will be our summer board meeting for our Christian writers' club. I should probably make sure that it gets on the calendar. I miss the monthly meetings for their regular reminder (and encouragement) to write.

As far as what's on my mind...

Retirement is never far from the forefront of what I'm thinking about. I'm waiting for some numbers from the FAA to see how it will be if I go in early 2015. I can't go much farther than that as they will force my retirement from air traffic at the end of June 2016. One of the many reasons that I hate to wait until they force me out is that I know a number of controllers that held on until the last possible moment and then went kicking and screaming only to find failing health or other life circumstances that prevented them from enjoying their retirement. I'd like to go while I'm still young enough and healthy enough to be able to enjoy retirement. Working for another 12 or 18 months isn't going to give me a great financial advantage, so I think I'd like to go earlier rather than later.

Besides, I'm growing weary of going to work every day.

Don't get me wrong; I really like my job.
And I'm hoping for a great career in air traffic for my daughter.
It's just that I'm really getting tired of the negativity that seems to have overtaken the work place.

As much as I enjoy the work that I do, I'm not enjoying the people I work with as much as I used to. Our sense of entitlement and our selfish attitudes are really starting to wear me out. And yes, I said our. I include myself since I am as much a part of the overall problem as anybody.

I don't want to be the grumpy old man that needs to retire, and there are starting to be quite a few days that I feel that is the case.

So, let's say I do retire.
Then what?
More magic?
More ministry?

I was thinking along those lines, but...
...what if that's not it?

What if more magic and more ministry just means more travel and time away from home? I guess I'll always have control over my schedule to the degree that I can always say, "no." But too many times saying no usually ends up with fewer invitations and fewer opportunities. I guess I'll need to find the balance.

Weighing out the need to fulfill a calling (or perceived calling) with the need to tend to personal needs and responsibilities is always tricky. Air traffic controllers are well aware of the balance between crazy, demanding schedules that provide a good income and family needs. Far too many of my ATC friends have had to deal with divorce and other family issues because of our work. Balance can be difficult.

One thing that I am looking forward to is having more time to write.

I have several ideas on things to write about--have even started writing a couple of them out--but not having the schedule (and the discipline) to be regular about sitting and writing makes working to completion difficult. Perhaps when I can consider writing to be a JOB I'll be able to get something accomplished.

The same is true for magic. Lots of things that I'd like to work on; not a lot of time to spend working on them.

At least I have this problem.
Too many people will not have the options that I have and will not have many choices when they reach retirement...or may never be able to retire.
I am blessed.

If you've managed to stick it out to this point, thanks for listening to my rant. Maybe my retirement travels will bring me to your neck of the woods and I can say "thanks" in person.

John <><


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer

It's an old song, but one that I think of every year as summer begins.

I love the words used to describe the early morning mist that hovers above the water and I often see this displayed as I drive home after a mid-shift and drive over the James River at Springfield Lake or the Finley River in Ozark.

Enjoy the song.
Enjoy your summer.

John <><

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weekend Reflections

It's Saturday evening and another beautiful day in the Ozarks!

We spent the day on Table Rock Lake with friends and had a nice dinner out. Hannah and her boyfriend bailed on the dinner portion of the day, opting for a nicer venue and less crowded table to celebrate their one-year dating anniversary. Kids!

I'm sitting on the deck with a cool drink, nice cigar and my laptop. The light is quickly fading from the sky and I think that life is pretty doggone good!

I ate fairly well today so it's not too big of a deal that I went for the hand breaded, deep fried tenderloin tonight. Mmmm! It was pretty tasty. I did skip the side fries that normally goes with the fried sandwich, figuring that one fried food per day is plenty. I also determined that the ciabatta bun was okay since I skipped the bread at lunch and loaded my tuna salad into halves of an Anaheim green chili pepper (also quite tasty!).

I think that I'm going to start setting aside time for writing.

I haven't yet determined if it will be everyday or days when my schedule is better for setting aside blocks of time. I have determined that the only way to actually be regular about writing is to set aside the time for it. I'm thinking of about three days/week that are generally good for me. It may be more, but I may just start with those days and times and go from there.

Of course, then I need to figure out what I'm going to write about!

I may go back to the idea of writing about Characters. It's a label that I started some time back but only wrote a few posts. You can check them out here and tell me if you think it would be worth spending some time on.

The real danger in regular writing is making sure that the filters in my head are set correctly so that I don't just go on a rant and start offending people at random. Maybe write one day, read it the next would be a good practice before publishing...

Have a great Sunday!

John <><