Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesdays are for Trivia

According to Trivia hive, the average woman eats 7 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime!


John <><

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cajun humor

I saw this on Facebook.
Any guesses as to which of my blogger friends it made me think of?

John <><

Revisiting the subject of friends

A recent Facebook post about friendships sent me back to this post from last year.
Then this morning I ran across this post on friends.

Only room for eight people around your death bed, eh?

I guess I'm not too concerned about that. As I wrote in my post, you can only control what you can control. I know that time and distance often have a way of keeping us from being present when others are in need. My own family is spread out across the country and I would not expect that they would run to be physically by my side in a time of need. They still have their own kids and own busy lives to deal with. Sure, they would try to make arrangements to come to my aid if I needed it, but I doubt that will ever really be the case.

I guess we should be aware of the people that we can count on in times of need, but shouldn't we also be aware of the people that can count on us in their times of need -- you know, the people that don't even need to ask; the ones that you just show up because they need a friend and they aren't at all surprised to see you.

I suppose that we all have a few people for whom we would do anything; others for whom we would go to varying lengths of service to be with and comfort or help. In the end, I suppose that my list is pretty short. And I suppose that the list of people that have me on their list is also a short one.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that we are unfriendly. I think that it is possible for us to have large numbers of people that we enjoying being with -- people that are our friends -- with whom we really have no meaningful relationships.

Whom do you count on?
And who counts on you?

John <><

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Long Overdue ...

A week or so ago I wrote about needing to read more fiction.
Yesterday I made a long overdue (pardon the pun) trip to the Christian County Library. Although I had thought about making a visit, I wasn't planning on making the stop when I started out for a ride on my motorcycle.

Since it had been years since my last visit, the first thing I did was to see if I would be able to check out books without my library card. In the passing years, they have upgraded their system so it was necessary to check and see if I was still in the system. Yay! I was!

... And I had a 50 cent fine due!
I paid the fine, got a new card and checked out a few books. We'll see how the sitting and reading thing goes. A book and a cigar should go together well and would take 90 minutes or so. I'm not much for reading in bed, but I did for a little while last night. We have plans to be out for the next couple of nights (trivia night tonight and evening plans with friends tomorrow) and it is still baseball season...hmmm, maybe three books in two weeks was a little ambitious.

I'm sure I'll find some reading time throughout the day, but probably not today! Haircut this morning, lunchtime meeting at the Tricounty Baptist office, short ride (if it's not raining), dinner prep and then trivia night.
No worries, though. I have never felt pressured by library due dates. (Maybe that's why I owed 50 cents from years past!)

I do have to say that I was pleased to see that our little library was a hub of activity. There were people of all ages present and all of the computer terminals were active. There isn't a coffee shop or anything like that in our little town library, nor are there funds to support it. I may have to bring my own coffee and sit at the outside benches with a newspaper. Although it is supposed to be the county library, I suspect that it is mostly used by Ozark residents.

I may become a more regular patron.

John <><

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Baseball, football, hockey and UFC

Well, rats!

I was hoping to make a weekend road trip on the motorcycle to catch a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. The forecast is showing a likely chance of scattered thunderstorms along the way and I really don't want to set out with a greater than 50% chance of running into one. We'll be on a little trip during their next home stand, so it may be the end of September before I can make it. The final home game on Oct 2 might be a good trip. It will be a day game and so I can make it most of the way home before nightfall. That would be an advantage on the motorcycle.

The local Cardinal team (AA) will be wrapping up their season. I may try to catch one of their remaining games. It's hard to believe that baseball season is coming to an end. I know -- there is still more than a month of baseball left (two for the teams that play in the World Series), but the start of school and football season always seems to be the beginning of the end.

I'm not much of a football fan. I do enjoy watching it, but I don't really have a team anymore. As a kid, I was a huge Viking fan. Today -- not so much. I watch a little college ball on Saturdays and look to see how the Mizzu Tigers are doing, but that's about all.
I usually tell people that I do watch football ...
after baseball season is over ...
if there's not a hockey game on!
I'm actually more likely to watch the close of the NASCAR season than to watch an NFL game on a fall Sunday.

I'm just happy that the UFC doesn't have a season and has fights nearly every weekend.

Today is a beautiful day in the Ozarks.
Time to go for a ride!

John <><

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Ordinary Life... (and Tuesdays are for trivia)

Yeah, today is one of those days.

It's house hubby day at the Hill house in the Ozarks. All of the normal household chores. Laundry (mine, along with towels and bedding. Chris takes care of her own), dusting, floors and bathroom. It's a good day for it since it is overcast with occasional light rain. If the sun comes out this afternoon, I might get ambitious enough to mow the lawn, but I am guessing that will have to wait for another day.

If the sun does come out, I'm more likely to reward my work with a nice long ride.

Chicken drumsticks are thawing and will be cooked and bbq'd on the grill for the evening meal. Maybe I'll swing by the store and grab a couple of earns of corn to go with them.

Yes, friends and neighbors, retirement isn't all fun and games -- sometimes it's just fun!


Btw, did you know that in the 1956 film The Searchers, John Wayne's character Ethan Edwards uttered the words, "That'll be the day" several times. The Duke's use of the phrase made such an impression on Buddy Holly that he ended up using it in a future rock 'n' roll hit song.*
For your listening pleasure:

John <><

*source Trivia hive

Monday, August 22, 2016

What if ... ?

In yesterday's Sunday school lesson we were studying from the book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament.
King Saul and his army are pursuing David.

My thoughts strayed from the lesson long enough to wonder...

For much of the ancient history that we read, kings lead their armies into battle. Great kings were also great warriors. Even as the soldiers did battle (think pawns of a chess board), the kings were often at the battlefield, directing the troops. 

In the United States, one of the roles of the President is Commander in Chief of the nation's military.
What if The Commander in Chief, the Congress that declares war, and the Admirals and Generals that provide the strategies of war -- actually led the men and women of our military forces into battle?
I'm wondering -- If the same were true for other nations...
If going to war was more than sending somebody else's sons and daughters into war...
If going to war meant that the President and other national leaders (both ours and other countries') faced death...

Would we (humankind, in general) have fewer wars?
Or would we seek more diplomatic ways to resolve our differences?

Just a thought ...

John <><

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What will people think?!

I rarely think about what other people think about.
Maybe I mean to say that I rarely care what other people are thinking about.

I don't care if they think poorly of how might look and I don't think much about how they might look.
To be sure, if they are dressed in an attention getting sort of way, I'll notice, maybe laugh or comment, and then move on. I guess I'm not too analytical when it comes to appearance. I'm more likely to make character judgments on how people act toward others or interact with others.

There is no doubt that people that are physically attractive -- well, attract!
Dress, hygiene and care go into making ourselves attractive, but so do confidence, poise and grace. I would probably be more attracted to a plain Jane reading a book than to a hottie in a mini skirt and boots. Maybe it's because I'm not much of an attention seeker myself and look for others that are not attention seekers.

There are lots of pretty people that post tons of selfies on Instagram, Facebook and other form of social media -- and it's fun to look at pretty people! Personally, I don't really want people to notice me so I do wonder a bit about those that are all about themselves and their selfies. I notice people that talk a lot (don't we all?) and sometimes wonder if it is nervousness, trying to impress people, or just that they are very interested in hearing their own voice and what they have to say -- kind of a verbal version of a selfie.

Interestingly enough, I also notice people that don't talk a lot -- people that only speak when they have something worthwhile to offer. In a group, I might tend to seek those people out -- the wallflowers, the quiet ones sitting alone.

I guess it is a good thing that there are all types of people --
loud, attention demanding people and quiet, leave me alone types
step up and take charge leaders and eager to please followers
impulsive act in the moment people and contemplative think things through people
people that are extremely creative and people that are extremely analytical.

What kind of person are you?
What kind of person attracts you?
Are you a judge by looks person or a judge by deeds person?
Are you a hope people notice me person or a sit in the corner and hide person?

So maybe I lied at the beginning.
I do want to know what you're thinking!

John <><

Monday, August 15, 2016

Oh! So you're Southern Baptist?

When it comes to sharing my faith, being baptist is rarely a part of my conversation. I am a follower of Jesus that currently fellowships with other believers at a Southern Baptist church.

Although the Southern Baptists are a large denomination with a rich history, I rarely mention that as a part of my personal journey with Jesus; nor is it a part of how I expect others to walk with Jesus.
I guess I have never really thought about not thinking about being "baptist" until the other day.

I was talking to a friend that I have known for more than twenty years. Ours has been a long distance friendship that began through our work in NATCA (the union that represents air traffic controllers) and our mutual love of the game of baseball. Even though we worked in different cities, our mutual respect for one another seemed to develop into a friendship where similar connections with other controllers did not.

I stopped by to visit and catch up on what we have been doing in retirement -- he's running for Congress and I'm out riding a motorcycle! As a part of that conversation, we talked about some of the summer camps I did and preaching that I was doing and he asked how people know to call me. I told him that most of them are from the Missouri Southern Baptists since I am a member of their fellowship of evangelists.

His response -- "Oh! So you're Southern Baptist? I didn't know that."

I guess that's a good thing, right?
I would really rather be known as a follower of Jesus than as a denominational follower.
And I would really rather help others to follow Jesus than to join a church, club or denomination.
So now I've been thinking about not thinking about being baptist. It's as weird as it sounds -- thinking about not thinking about something.

In doing so, I've determined that being "baptist" just isn't that important to me. And I don't believe that it should be that important to anybody else either.

Strange post this morning.
Just something I've been thinking about...

John <><

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Reading, Writing ... and Riding!

Recently (after reading articles about how little people read and how much better informed readers are), I've decided to start reading again.
...And by reading again, I'm talking about reading for pleasure as well as reading for information. Apparently there is something about reading (even fiction) that helps the brain receive and process information better than in non-readers.

I started with my favorite genre of fiction reading -- westerns.
I also like reading some suspense and have a few unread old Clancy books on our bookshelves. We also have some classics that are deserving of a re-read. I will probably have to limit my internet reading a little as I pick up on the other stuff. I'm pretty certain that won't hurt a bit. It will probably even have some great benefits!


Today was our summer board meeting for the Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writers (OCACW) club. Yeah, I have them fooled into believing that I'm a proficient enough writer that I serve as an officer -- Vice President -- of our local club!
The truth is -- the only reason I serve as vice president is because I have a big voice and can keep the monthly meetings on schedule. Our President -- a real writer -- used to moderate the meetings. In her absence or when she also conducted the workshop portion of the meetings, the vice president -- another real writer -- would serve as meeting moderator.  At some point they asked me if I would take that role and bestowed the title of vice president upon me.

Our club has a number of professional writers -- career journalists, university professors, editors, publishers, and a large number of authors that have written and published multiple books. I write a few sermons and publish a few mostly unread blogs. Maybe it is time to start working on something more serious in the way of writing. (Even my blog posts have become more of a personal journal than they used to be -- probably why fewer people are reading than there used to be.)
In any case, our meetings begin again on the 2nd Saturday of the month at 10am at the University Heights Baptist Church and I have been nominated and elected to serve as vice president for another year. I will miss our first meeting this year and I'll need to find someone else to serve as moderator. I'll be there in October.

Maybe I'll have something worthwhile to write between now and then -- something more worthy of a vice president of a writing club.

Today is too nice of a day to continue writing. I think I'll go for a ride!

John <><

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Odds and Ends -- Perseid's meteor shower

A week ago I posted about the unusual number of hits I had from Russia as I posted about the upcoming election and its candidates. Now, one week later and there have been exactly ZERO hits from Russia in the past 7 days.

Yesterday I had an enjoyable lunch, visits with a couple of friends and a round trip motorcycle ride of 462 miles. One of the things I am learning in retirement is that I really have no need to stay connected to the rest of the world on a real-time basis.

Although I almost always have my phone on me, and I get notifications of tweets, e-mails, sports scores, etc., they are mostly irrelevant bits of information. If I happen to be on my motorcycle for a few hours and miss several notifications, I find that it is no big deal. I'm not sure if it is a good thing that I have finally realized my irrelevance to the world (except for Russia) or not. In any case, I suppose that it suits me just fine.

I did miss several Olympic events, some new findings and unimportant tweets from the presidential campaigns, some spam e-mail (that I was able to delete later), a few tweets and several likes on some instagram pics. I spent a couple of hours listening to some classic rock but most of the time my mind was free to drift as I scanned the traffic and road ahead.

This morning the Olympics are on and the US Women's water polo team is currently beating the team from China. I have checked my phone a couple of times to see what unimportant things I'm missing.

One thing that I won't be missing is tonight's meteor shower! I'll be up in the early morning hours and hoping for a clear sky. I may have to take a short ride out of town to find a good view. This year's Perseid's shower is supposed to be a good one. Early morning is the best time for viewing. Look to the north. I'm thinking I'll be up around 3am.
Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @magicianary if you're up!

John <><

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Early morning thoughts

It's not often that I have trouble sleeping. Sometimes I wake up in the early morning, but usually have no trouble falling back asleep. This morning I seemed to be pretty awake at 4:30am. After lying awake for more than 40 minutes, I decided to get up.

It's a few minutes before 6 and I've had a peach, sliced with cinnamon and cream and am working on my second cup of coffee. In a little while I'll throw some pork steaks into the crock pot and we'll have some pork bbq tonight and pork fried rice later in the week. Dinner prep should be easy to finish up when I get back from my round trip to St. Louis to have lunch with fellow blogger Mike.

It is a foggy morning in the Ozarks, but I expect that to burn off quickly after the sun comes up. It looks like the weather should be good for a long bike ride. I may make a little side trip before heading home. A retired air traffic controller friend in St. Louis is running to serve in the US House of Representatives. He called yesterday and we talked for a short time. I told him I'd be in St. Louis today and he invited me to stop by his office. I'll try to make that happen.

I have the TV on in the background and the morning news is about Donald Trump's comments encouraging an assassination if Sec. Clinton becomes President Clinton and a new story dealing with e-mails from the Clinton Foundation that tie the Foundation to the State Dept. Both stories raise some serious concerns about our candidates for the nation's highest office.

There was a time when politics interested me more than it does today. It is still important to me, but it has become so tiresome to listen to all of the garbage slinging. I am very tired of politicians and people putting party politics ahead of country. There are certainly a good number of patriots serving in our government, but there are far too many that have forgotten the role to represent the people and only seek the personal benefits of national politics. My own district representative is one of them. He ran on a campaign of changing Washington as usual politics, but has done nothing but what his party leaders have told him to do. He is a party puppet and a local favorite. Although he had a couple of party challengers in the primary, he won by a large margin and the young Democratic woman that will oppose him in November doesn't stand much of a chance in this sea of red.

Time for me to get things done so that I can hit the road.

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Our Masks

The other day I was thinking about a young couple that divorced several years ago.
Today, they have both remarried and I think that they are happy ... but I thought they were happy before.
Their divorce came as a big surprise to me. Even though I saw them every week in my Sunday school class, even though they were relatively active in church, even though they appeared to be happy for the few hours each week that I saw them -- they were not.

There is a saying that you have probably heard --
Be kind -- for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

It has been attributed to different people and has been said in different variations, but the truth remains that we really don't know how the people we encounter are suffering or what hardships they are enduring -- even if we think we know them fairly well.

While we may choose to be transparent about what we believe and how we feel about many things, we rarely allow others to share in our burdens. Sometimes it is the boldest and bravest that carry the largest burdens and suffer the most. Marital problems, finances, work, heath, kids -- there are so many areas of life that can bring great stress into life.
And where do we go to unload our burdens? Not everybody (perhaps even very few people) has someone that they can confide in.

A friend once told me that he believed that everybody needs to have a counselor -- a therapist. Sometimes I think that maybe there is more truth to that than most of us would like to admit.
We wear masks to hide weaknesses.
Sometimes we may wear masks to hide strengths so that we can exploit the weaknesses of others.
We wear masks because of guilt.
We wear masks because of regret.
We wear masks to hide our ignorance.
We wear masks to cover our inabilities.

We wear so many masks that it may be difficult to recognize our true selves. How different is the person in the mirror from the person that other people see?

It may be that not everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle -- at least, maybe not today.
And I do believe that there are people that are genuinely happy nearly all of the time, but it is probably safe to be kind anyway.
So be kind. You never know the impact of a few kind words or a simple kind act. The person that you see may not be the same person that is behind the mask.

John <><

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Let's Ride!

I really enjoyed my long motorcycle ride to and from Chicago last month. I was pleased that the all day ride home (522 miles) went well and I felt good at the end of the day.
Next week, I'm planning another 500 mile day -- road trip to St Louis for lunch!

The long term forecast has Wednesday looking like a decent day for a ride. Summer in the Midwest always has an afternoon chance of a pop up thunderstorm, but it doesn't look too bad. I'll be meeting fellow blogger, Mike from Billions of Versions of Normal. It has been sometime since we've met and I am looking forward to the visit.
I know it seems like a long way to go for lunch, but I am looking forward to the ride, as well.

Later in the month, I'll be making the ride to Oklahoma City to overnight with my sister and catch a ballgame. The Dodgers' AAA team is there. I have a couple of dates in mind, but will take a look at the weather as it gets closer. That will be a little over 300 miles each way. I had dinner and breakfast with my folks, lunch with one brother and his family, and dinner with a sister and her family last month. I'll get to visit with my older sister and her husband this month. The east coast brothers will have to wait. I'd love to plan a long trip ... maybe next spring or summer.

No riding today.
Today we are going to the lake with some friends.
Life in the Ozarks!

Have a great weekend!

John <><

Thursday, August 04, 2016

What would happen if ... ?

Several years ago, major league baseball (MLB) seemed to be plagued with individuals that were seeking their moment of fame by running onto the field. Some had a particular protest, others were just looking for a little national exposure. Apparently an arrest and all of the associated inconveniences were not enough to deter such activities as long they enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame.

When MLB decided that they would no longer put such antics on tv, they slowly came to an end. Cameras no longer record fans on the field or even off field disturbances. As a result, there seems to be many fewer such incidences.

So I was wondering...
What if bad behavior was no longer awarded with media attention?
When you have a person that figures any attention (even bad attention) is better than no attention, you tend to get a lot of bad behavior that keeps them in the news.

So much has been said about the characteristics of Donald Trump and how his actions and attitudes make him unfit to serve as President that I really doubt if more outrageous behavior is going to change anybody'd mind. If you prefer to have him as our President over Sec. Clinton in spite of his comments and attitudes, you are not going to be swayed by continued bad behavior.
Likewise, if you choose to vote for Sec. Clinton in spite of her record of past actions, you will probably not be swayed by further accusations or bad news.

I have to say that I feel a little bad for Indiana Governor, Mike Pence.
I know that I really don't agree with him on many political issues, but he doesn't seem like a bad guy. In fact, he seems like a good family man and a decent citizen servant. Political disagreements aside, he appears to be a person of good character and reputation. I think that he may be sacrificing that reputation for the potential political gains of serving as Donald Trump's VP.

One of my favorite Bible verses to share with kids is 1 Corinthians 15:33 (or one Corinthians if you prefer). Paul quotes a Greek poet/philosopher and says --
Do not be misled. "Bad company corrupts good character."

Yeah, there is always that. We suffer (or enjoy) the consequences of our choices.

Some time back, I remember reading about a survey that intentionally mislabeled policy statements from different political parties and asked people if they agreed or disagreed with the statements. People tended to agree or disagree based on the party assignment more than with the actual policies. Without knowing it, one party often agreed with the other party's policies they thought belonged to their party and vice versa. Party bias is so strong that we tend to believe what our parties tell us to believe. (I couldn't find the survey to reference it here)

Can we somehow manage to remove the party blinders and look at the promises, policies and records of the candidates running for office?
Can we, as Americans, determine the best citizen servants to fill the representative offices of our political system?
Can we choose the best Americans to govern, legislate and judge us -- regardless of their political party?

To be sure -- party affiliations tend to drive their decisions. That's why we associate with a particular party. In truth, perhaps it is time for the emergence of a new third party. If the right fringe continues to dominate the Republicans and the far left continues to drive the Democrats, I wonder if there is a middle ground where reasonable righties can work with reasonable lefties and form a party closer to where I believe most Americans live.

Just wondering...

John <><

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Who Is Watching You?

Typically, I have a very modest readership. It has dropped considerably from its peak several years ago. (by the way, I missed my 10 yr blogaversary last week)
Even so, I do look at the daily stats from time to time.

Occasionally a particularly good post will be shared on social networks and generate more hits than usual. I say this to say that I notice when I'm getting noticed.

This week I have been posting some posts that have the social media hashtags of #politics and #Election2016 and the hits are double (or even triple) of what I normally experience. Something caught my eye on the stat page.

On the summary overview page, I noticed the dark green color of Russia. In expanding the "Audience" page (seen here), I find that the hits from Russia nearly double the hits from the USA. I have to admit that I don't usually look at this page so this may not be unusual -- but it seems a little strange.

Now the numbers aren't great numbers (they never really are); it was just enough to catch my attention and wonder. Hmmm...

John <><

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Politically Slow Learners -- or maybe just bullied into submission

I have been watching news channels this morning and beginning to wonder when the media will pick up on the slick campaign tactics of Donald Trump. Coverage over His antics and bigoted comments is on all of the news channels (although with a little different slant on Fox News*).

I don't think that The Donald is completely stupid when it comes to swaying large blocks of people.
HE is in the news.
The name of Donald Trump is always being talked about. And even if Trump himself does little to walk back his outrageous comments, some of his people try to offer some understanding or deflection of what was said or done.

I think that this might be purposeful. The more that we are focused on his antics, the less we look at his politics and policies. By the time November rolls around, we'll have a long list of bad behaviors and plenty of character issues but no reason to doubt his ability to lead because we will know nothing about his plans for the economy, military, national security or anything else. But we will have his blustery promises that all of those things will be better than ever -- and who doesn't what that?

At some point, the press will need to be forceful about getting answers to policy questions.
And so will the Clinton campaign.
This will not be easy. Trump is a master at deflecting questions and giving non-answers. He is also a bully that will lash out and criticize a reporter or media outlet rather than answer a direct question. In the end the story becomes about the fight rather than the story about the policy. (Does anyone remember what questions Trump was dodging during the debate or only his bloody comments about Megan Kelly's ability to moderate?) His policy plans have been vague promises or bold promises without any feasible methods for carrying them out.

There are more than enough ads and reasons NOT to vote for any candidate for any office.
I would really like to know why I should vote for a candidate. And I'm not talking about the pretty pictures with your families or finding out that you teach a Sunday school class. What will you do in office and how will you do it?

Just some morning thoughts...

John <><

*Yes, I actually watched a couple of hours of Fox News.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Missouri Primary Elections

Just a quick reminder for my Missouri friends --
Tomorrow (Aug 2) is the state's primary election for our state representatives.

You can choose a Republican or Democratic ballot and vote the people that you would like to see running for office in your party of choice. Both Congressman Long (my district) and Senator Blunt have people running against them in the Republican primary as well as several challengers in the Democratic party.

There are candidates from both parties running for Governor, other state offices and many local positions.

If you are in the Ozark area (or Nixa, too) and need a ride to your voting place, I may be able to help you. Please feel free to call me -- the sooner, the better. My phone number is in the right column of the web version of this blog. If you are reading on a mobile device, you'll need to scroll to the bottom and click the full web version. If others are available to help get people to the polls, you can contact me, as well. Or you can leave your contact info in the comments.

Let's speak up at the ballot box!

John <><