Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You Can't Get Blood From a Turnip

It's true. Turnips don't have blood...but you do, and many people are in need of what you have.

Here in Southwest Missouri there are two organizations that handle blood donations and distribution. The American Red Cross and The Community Blood Centers of the Ozarks. Both of them serve a vital need. When we first moved to the area I was unfamiliar with the local organization and went to the Red Cross for donating. I have continued to donate blood and blood platelets through the Red Cross. You should check out your community for a blood donation center or call the hospital and find out where you can contribute.

The thing that prompted today's topic was a mailer that I received from the National Marrow Donor Program. The mailer was just to verify my address. I have been on their list of potential donors for about fifteen years. Once I received a notice as an initial match and went for additional tissue testing, but that was all. Today, there are many ways that marrow or stem cells can be used to cure people of terrible diseases. When there is not a family member available for donation or if the family member's tissue is incompatible, the donor list comes into play. Matching tissue from a non-related donor is a long shot at best. If you are an African American, Native American or Asian the odds are even worse since there are so few that are registered as potential donors. I want to encourage you to squeeze out a little blood for a tissue sample and register as a potential donor. There are thousands of people that are in need of a donor...many will die while waiting. So far, I haven't been able to help any of them. Maybe you can. It won't take a lot of your time and may save a life.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Blast From the Past

On Friday I received something that I haven't received in a long time. I went to the mailbox and found an envelope that was addressed to me and contained a hand written, personal letter. I can't remember the last time that I wrote or received a letter.

Today we are used to e-mail and text messaging. Cell phones make getting in touch with somebody as simple as reaching into your purse or pocket or tapping a little button on your blue tooth ear piece. I imagine that even if I needed to send a letter, it would be typed out on the computer, spell checked, printed and finally mailed out. The letter delivered today by the US Postal Service is nearly as antiquated as the once speedy Pony Express. I think that the art of letter writing is quickly become a disappearing art.

E-mail letters from a younger generation often have no upper case letters; not for proper nouns nor at the beginnings of sentences. Text messaging and instant messaging have brought about a whole new dimension to writing that will perhaps be the bane of the written language (imho).

Without spell check, many would be lost and few would really care. I'm not even sure if spelling counts for anything in school today. (By the way, why isn't phonetically spelled like it sounds? And why is abbreviation such a long word?) I know that this particular rant is telling of my age and generational values but I have to wonder if future generations will look back to consider this to be an ancient and outdated form of communication. Is our written language evolving into abbreviated messaging. Will it become something that other generations will think of in the same way that we consider Old English texts that contain thees, thous and verbs that endeth with eth?

On the bright side, there are some creative aspects to today's text messaging. :)
Sideways faces to express oneself can be interesting. ;)

Sorry for the rant.


John <><

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dear Red States,

If you are a reader of The Main Bang, you can skip this post. I'm not sure where JTB found this one, but if you Google "Dear Red States" you'll come up with numerous sources. It's funny, sad and a little scary when you consider the irony of where many of our resources and much of our consumption is located.

Dear Red States:

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California and we've decided we're leaving.

We intend to form our own country and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware that includes Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get John Edwards. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro choice and anti war and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We wish you success in Iraq and hope that the WMDs turn up but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite, thank you.

38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy *!#%^$*!'s believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

We're taking the good pot too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Sincerely, Author Unknown in New California.


Well I guess I'll have to move since Missouri is a Red State!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dilemma Solved

In a two for one trade I have solved the Memorial Day Weekend dilemma. Pastor Terry will be in town for this weekend and gone the following weekend. That gives me the morning and evening services on June 1st (instead of the morning service this Sunday) followed by a week at children's camp!

Chris is still deciding on whether or not she'll be going to her folks so White Castle's and Ted Drewes' are potential stops for the weekend. (Mike, are you good for Ted's on short notice?)

I've noticed that the list of blogs that I subscribe to is getting longer and longer. Some are from daily bloggers and other are more like Out of My Hat. I'll be updating my blogroll soon by adding some and deleting others that are no longer active.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Memorial Day Dilemma

This Sunday ends with a great anticipation for next Sunday. This morning, Pastor Terry asked me if I would be available to preach next Sunday morning. I think that Chris will probably go to her folks house and it was my intention to go with her on her next trip. However, it is such a great privilege to get to preach at my home church that I really hate to turn down any opportunity. Should Chris decide to go, she'll either take one of the kids or make the trip herself. (Sorry, Mike)

This is my Memorial Day Dilemma:

I know that the holiday weekend is about remembering the great sacrifice that so many of our service men and women have made. I truly want to honor their memory. However, I am not much of a God and Country kind of preacher. Somehow we (the Church) have the idea that the country we live in is a Christian country and that God blesses us because of our country's faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'll give you that many of our founding fathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence were active members in Christian churches. I give you that much of our heritage and history recognizes a Supreme Being or a Creator. I understand that their beliefs shaped the morals and principles that our country was built upon.

BUT I also recognize that they wanted a country that would provide a free place to worship (or not to worship) without any governmental coercion. Am I thankful to God for the country that I live in and the freedoms that I enjoy? You'd better believe it! Am I thankful for those that have sacrificed greatly so that I can enjoy those freedoms? Absolutely! Do I think that honoring the memories of the fallen soldiers belongs in our weekly worship of our God and Savior? I'm sorry but the answer is no.

I don't even believe that you can make a connection between the sacrifice for freedom made by men and women and the sacrifice that Jesus made by giving His life for our Eternal Freedom.

I think that what we (the Church) should do is to Worship God on Sunday and remember our service men and women on Monday--Memorial Day. Sadly, most of America will do neither. The long weekend will just be another excuse for picnics, parties and barbecues and will have nothing to do with God or country.

Sometime this week, if you have a regular prayer time, think of me and ask for God's guidance as I prepare for the coming weekend. A retired pastor tell me to pray for him. And then add that he needed the prayers and I needed the practice! I know that now I need the prayers. Do you need the practice?


A small boy stood in the foyer of the church looking up at a huge plaque the hung on the wall.
The pastor saw him and asked, "What are you looking at, Jimmy?"
Jimmy asked, "Who are all of these people that have their names on this plaque?"
"Jimmy," the pastor replied, "These are all of our members that have died in the Service."
After a moment of silence Jimmy turned to the pastor and asked with great concern, "The early service or the late service?"

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Last night was a Retirement Dinner/Celebration for one of the controllers at Springfield. Brian Hawkins actually retired from work on April 1st but we had his party last night. I know that SGF will miss him and so will the pilots that we serve. Brian is one of the "old timers" that hung on to working with the work ethic of a generation that is too quickly leaving the work force.

More and more I see an attitude of laziness and carelessness in all kinds of working environments; from the drive up window at your favorite fast food restaurant to the people that occupy the seats in the tower and radar room. I don't want to come across as a "high and mighty, better than thou" kind of guy. I have my moments of wanting the least busy position from time to time, too. On the other hand, it always amazes me at how hard some people will work to avoid work and how little regard they have for the people that they work with.

I know that I'll be talking to Brian often. One of the things that he'll be doing in retirement is to continue to donate his time and skills as an Angel Flight pilot. If you take the time to read about Angel Flight, you'll get an idea of the kind of person that Brian is. Also his son Evan will soon be checked out as a journeyman controller. Evan is certified through the tower and working on getting checked out in the radar room.

It was too bad that I wasn't able to stay at the retirement gig for long, but had another meeting to attend last night. Our chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians meets on the 3rd Friday of odd months. Last night we had a good turnout and I enjoyed catching up with everybody. I've been trying to work on some card effects lately. In the past I've not spent a lot of time on cards since I don't have a venue for using them. Since I'd like to work on getting some close-up gigs at some time, I figured that now is as good a time as any to start working on some new things. There are many that scoff at card conjuring, and I don't want to be the "pick a card" kind of magician that can bore you with a few "tricks." Skill at card handling takes many hours of work and the guys that make everything look so natural truly impress me. Knowing the what and how only makes seeing it done (or not seeing it done) even more amazing!

I shared a couple of new effects last night and refrained from sharing a couple of others that are not yet ready for performance--even among friends.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spring in the Ozarks

Spring in the Ozarks can be pretty volatile as far as the weather goes. This spring has been quite exceptional with too much rain and flooding and some very violent storms with hail, strong winds and tornadoes. Many of the homes in my neighborhood have (or are getting) new roofs from wind and/or hail damage. We're the lucky ones. Many in nearby communities have had their homes completely destroyed by storms. This past weekend, several lost their lives in northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri.

Although we get our share of severe storms, we also miss many storms due to a plateau that begins in northeast Oklahoma and continues eastward into south-central Missouri and northern Arkansas. If you look at a topographical map, you'll see what I mean.

Many systems start to break apart and divide north and south of the geographic rise sending storms to the north and south of us. It's pretty interesting to watch on the weather radar at the control tower. It's far from a fool proof protection against the violence of nature, but I have seen both devastating storms and much needed rain miss us as systems break up.

Ozark is derived from the French aux arc and is a beautiful area of the country. There are wineries and orchards, many rivers and lakes, hiking, biking and riding trails, National parks, great caves to tour and much more. I don't mean to sound like an advertisement for the area, but it is a great place to live or to visit. If you ever plan on making a trip to visit the area, drop me a note. I'd love to meet up with you and show you some of the attractions. My fees as a tour guide are modest and affordable!


Monday, May 12, 2008

More About Food

It seems that I have been taking the blame for the weight gain among a few of my co-workers. I recommend a good sandwich shop like Jimmy John's; they like it and eat there often; I get blamed for their larger waist!

I really do like their subs, clubs and of course the Gargantuan. Oh yeah, they also have some killer chips. One of the other entertaining things about eating at JJ's are the signs that are posted throughout the sandwich shop. While all are entertaining some are also educational or at least thought provoking. One of my favorites is a story of a Mexican fisherman. It reminds me of how hard we sometimes work for a simpler life by making life more complicated. Read it for yourself.

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15 - 20 years."

"But what then?" Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!"

"Millions - then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Let me know if you decide to try JJ's. But don't blame me if you start gaining weight!


By the way, the Italian Club and the Hunter Club are two of my favorites.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Home for the Summer

Today I made the trip to Columbia to pack up and pick up Aaron from college.

I made a breakfast stop about a third of the way into the 3 hour drive to have breakfast with a magician friend and a friend of his (now also a friend of mine). We tarried an hour or so longer than I had anticipated but enjoyed catching up on what was happening and on some of the magic we've been working on.

Since I would now be arriving at Aaron's dormitory an hour later than I initially told him, the practical side of me had hoped that most of his stuff would be ready to load up when I arrived. Of course the reality was that he finally got around to getting out of bed when I called about a half hour before arriving. Even though his last class was over mid afternoon on Wednesday, I wasn't too shocked that we had to pretty much pack everything before loading up the cars and then he still had to clean the room before checking out.

Tomorrow he begins the search for a summer job.

Hannah is doing great with her drum lessons. Tonight I heard her demonstrating for Aaron what she's learned so far. Pretty good for just 6 lessons!

Well as the school year winds itself down, I wonder...Were there any teachers/coaches/administrators that made a special impact on your life?

I really had some great teachers. Overall, I think that teachers are pretty special people...especially in today's schools with today's social issues. I had so many teachers that had a knack for making learning fun. I was one of those kids that really liked school. Oh I cut my share of classes and even got sent to the principal's office once...but I had fun in school. Maybe too much fun. Even though I managed to do well enough to get an academic scholarship, I had absolutely no good study habits. If there is one thing that I wish I would have learned in high school, it would have been how to study.

Here's a link to a story about a coach that taught students about life.

Who but a teacher could influence a generation of new thinkers?


Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I've noticed that lately most of my blogging has been of the weekend update kind of thing and that I haven't had much to say about any of the worldly issues that are going on around us. I guess it is easy to get wrapped up in our own little world and leave the rest of the world commentary to the expert commentators or bloggers such as Brian Williams, Russ Mitchell and Bilbo.

These guys are unafraid to bring out the controversial topics and make you put your thinking caps on. For reporting the news, exposing fraud and waste or just keeping us informed, these kinds of folks are at the top of their game. Even Mike, with just a short entry each day, brings us into one of the Billions of Versions of Normal.

Several local readers have made verbal comments on the video link from my last post--Touching Them All. While this is a great story and a great act of kindness and character, a part of me has to ask the question--Why is this newsworthy? Are such acts so rare that we find it amazing that two young women "do the right thing at the right time?" Have character and integrity become such a rare commodities in our society that we have to take note and encourage others by making news stories about simple acts of kindness?

Don't get me wrong. It's a great story and I'm glad that ESPN put out this video about it. But I truly believe that many millions of people are just doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. Maybe the media needs to do more to emphasize the good things that happen rather than sensationalizing all of the crime, violence and oppression in the world. What would happen if a national news show had 30 minutes of good news to report one evening? Wouldn't it be great to be able to digest your evening meal feeling good about the world instead of listening to how bad the economy is, how violent our neighborhoods are or how corrupt our government is?

Human interest stories are...interesting. I think that we should encourage the news media to do more of them. Kudos to ESPN for the coverage on these young women. Perhaps, in the future, you'll find more stories like that on this blog.

Always willing to share the "Good News,"


"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
from the blog Wise Men Say

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ups and Downs


Today was another grand Sunday. The choir sounded great. Joe Pulley had an awesome solo for special music and Pastor Terry brought a great message from The Gospel of John.

Hopedale is so blessed with incredible talent. It has been some time since I've heard Joe sing and I'm sure that the angels of heaven paused in their praise this morning long enough to check out the music coming from our little place!

The first Sunday in May is always Community Day at Hopedale. Today we had a beautiful day and a great crowd. I hope that every one of our guests had as much fun as I did. We used a different company for our inflatable rentals and they did a wonderful job. I'm pretty sure that we will use them again. The entire staff of the Party Station was great. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Hopedale, you guys are great. Another plus was that the guys in the children's department didn't recruit me for the dreaded dunk tank. I showed my gratitude by not throwing to dunk them!


After the choir sang for Community Day, Chris and Hannah headed across the state to visit Chris' mom. The reality of the trip is that it may be to say goodbye. The latest report is not good. It is doubtful that she will survive the month. Once Aaron is home from school, (Thursday) we will be making another trip should time allow it--either next weekend or the following one. We appreciate your prayers and thoughts.


Finally, a great sports story. Followers of ESPN are familiar with their home run feature Touch 'em All. This video Touching Them All is so much more than another home run story. It is a story of sportsmanship and character that will melt the coldest of hearts and move you to tears.
Check it out.


Thursday, May 01, 2008


So, how about President Bush railing on Congress for not doing enough to help the American taxpayer through these tough times in the economy? Did he just wake up after the first six years of his administration with the most irresponsible spending in our country's history? It seems as if the Democrats in Congress only have a year to fix what it took the previous Republican Congress and his free signing pen six years to completely mess up...and the Dems hindered by his veto threat every time they try to undo some of the previous damage.

I suppose that he's trying to convince us to reverse the results of the last Congressional election that swung the majority to the Democrats. I'm afraid that "W's" legacy will be that he redefined fiscal irresponsibility and helped to move the Democrats back into power in both houses of Congress and the White House.

I hate to be disrespectful to the President but I truly have no respect for the guy. He's an idiot. I'm embarrassed to say that I actually voted for the guy...but only once. Anyway, I just thought that it was humorous (in a sad sort of way) that W would blame this Congress for our woes and expect that we would of course, believe him.

Sorry for the rant.