Monday, October 31, 2016

First City of Kansas

MM#83, "My Town", Montgomery Gentry 1/9/12

This was the last Monday Melody I posted on my Xanga.  And, when I posted it, I was referring to the town I'd lived in for 7½ years, Severance Kansas.
But really, although the country references more fit a town of 100 in a county of 8,000 ... the emotion fits the city I currently live in - Leavenworth, KS.  By my math, it's a large plurality - 17 of my 36 years have been in Leavenworth, with smaller pieces in Severance, Lansing, Troy, St. Joseph, and New Jersey.
Leavenworth is my home.  Where I was born, where I was raised.  Where I keep all my yesterdays.
... Where I came back to settle down, It's where they'll put me in the ground: This is my town.

There's a "For Sale" sign on a big old rusty tractor.
You can't miss it, it's the first thing that you see.
Just up the road, a pale-blue water tower,
With "I Love Jenny" painted in bright green.
Hey, that's my Uncle Bill, there by the courthouse.
He'll be lowerin' the flag when the sun goes down.
And this is my town.

(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Yeah, this is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Hey!
Where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.
Where I ran off 'cos I got mad,
An' it came to blows with my old man.
Where I came back to settle down,
It's where they'll put me in the ground:
This is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Yeah, this is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
My town.

There ain't much goin' on here since they closed the mill.
But that whistle still blows ev'ry day at noon.
A bunch of us still go down to the diner.
I wonder if that interstate's still comin' through.
Come Sunday morning service, at the Church of Christ,
Well there ain't an empty seat to be found.
And this is my town.

(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Yeah, this is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.
Where I ran off 'cos I got mad,
An' it came to blows with my old man.
Where I came back to settle down,
It's where they'll put me in the ground:
This is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Yeah, this is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
My town.

Well, I bought and painted up that rusty tractor.
You can't miss it, it's sittin' right there in our yard.
The County came and took that water tower,
And that's Jenny, with a baby, in the car.
Ah, we're off to Sunday service at the Church of Christ,
And if we want a seat, we better leave right now.
And maybe later, me an old T-roy will show you around,
Our town.

(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Yeah, this is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
Yeah, where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.
Where I ran off 'cos I got mad,
An' it came to blows with my old man.
Where I came back to settle down,
It's where they'll put me in the ground:
This is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)

Yeah, this is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
This is my town.
(Na, na, na, na, na.)
My town.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Concert with the Covington twins

MM#59, "A Father's Love (the only way he knew how)", Bucky Covington 3/7/11

Once upon a time, I won tickets to a Bucky Covington concert.  And I ended up doing a couple Monday Melodies off his songs (the other one was A Different World, MM#58)
I can't pinpoint the last time I saw my father alive.  Maybe Christmas 2011 or 2012.  He'd moved to the KC area, and that was four counties away.  And I had my own problems.
He's been gone three years.  I miss him.  I wish I could've thanked him for what he did for me.

For the longest time, I guess I thought 
He didn't give a damn 
Hard to read, hard to please 
Yeah, that was my old man 
On the day I left for college 
It was nothing new 
We never had that heart-to-heart 
He had too much to do 
[Chorus:] 
He checked the air in my tires 
The belts and all the spark plug wires 
Said "When the hell's the last time 
"You had this oil changed" 
And as I pulled out the drive 
He said "Be sure and call your mom sometime" 
And I didn't hear it then 
But I hear it now 
He was saying "I love you" 
(He was saying "I love you") 
The only way he knew how 

120,000 miles 
Six years down the road 
A brand new life and a brand new wife 
We'd just bought our first home 
When he finally came to visit 
I thought he'd be so proud 
He never said he liked the place 
He just got his tool belt out 
And put new locks on the doors 
Went back and forth to the hardware store 
Said "Come and hold this flashlight" 
As he crawled beneath the sink 
And "These old wires ain't up to code" 
And "That circuit box is gonna overload" 
And I didn't hear it then 
But I hear it now 
He was saying "I love you" 
The only way he knew how 

Last Sunday, we all gathered 
For his 65th birthday 
And I knew he'd stiffen up 
But I hugged him anyway 
When it was finally time to say goodbye 
I knew what was next 
Just like he always does 
Right before we left 
[Repeat Chorus] 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pick a controversy, any controversy

I wrote this before I went block-happy on Facebook, so it's not quite as applicable as previously.

Perusing my social media feeds, I often see people retweeting or reposting comments or memes about recent events. And sometimes I see other pictures, tweets or memes which basically say, 'if you threw a fit about situation A, but didn't throw a fit about situation B, you're screwed up in the head."

Which is why sometimes I want to create a filtering App for News and social media. So I can ignore anything about the Kardashians, or whichever presidential candidate I've decided I'm never ever ever ever ever voting for, etcetera. Or maybe find a way to ignore the flood of comments about the latest sports idiot doing something mildly idiotic. Just wait a week, there will be a new idiot.

And often I question the relevance and importance of the news.  Which events really matter? Do acts of violence hundreds or thousands of miles away affect me? Do the minor awareness efforts of minor celebrities matter? Do I need anymore information about the candidates to make an over informed decision on my ballot? (which I'm voting early, this month)

Or do I have to endure it because my neighbors care, and I need to be informed when it comes up at the water cooler?

Monday, October 17, 2016

But the tigers come at night

MM#45, "I Dreamed A Dream", Les Mis (Schönberg/Kretzmer/Boubill/Hugo), Sung by character Fantine 4/20/09

For what it's worth, I concede that the Xanga - Monday Melody Era (Oct 2007 to Jan 2012) were a tough time in my life, and so a bunch of these are downers.  And although I reserve the right to be as vague as I damn well please...
This song was posted 10 years to the day after I fell in love with my wife.

"There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong"

By 2009, it all went wrong.  I often think back, trying to figure out how I could've sailed the boat differently, avoiding the major shipwreck.  But I didn't.

"But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame"

In 2004, I thought I'd reached the pinnacle.  And in 2008, for a brief moment, I thought I'd reached the top.  But...it all came crashing down.  I knew things were on the downhill in April '09, although I still had a couple things going for me...a couple more things I would end up losing...

"I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Scourge of Zuck / What Friends

Didn't expect to have a reason to combine two of my posts this Saturday.. But then I saw this on the bottom of my New Feed.


Add Friends to See More Stories

You'll have more stories in News Feed if you add more friends.

And so I combined two blogs.
Scourge of Zuck
Currently I am currently running an experiment on my Facebook newsfeed. I have decided to block most of the meme Pages, partisan news pages, and pretty much any page that you are likely to see a picture and share it with everybody.

Which means, when this is complete, all I will see is posts that my friends actually posted, links my friends share, and Facebook ads - although I'm fixing that too to just the ones I'm more interested in.

Which reminds me again how meager the feed of original content on social media is, especially original content from people I actually care about, or at least am even friends with on Facebook, currently somewhere around a hundred and forty people.

There used to be a lot more people using the notes feature on Facebook, but I'm just not really comfortable with posting all this stuff on Facebook. Perhaps a bit crazy, because sometimes I wish people would listen to me and what do I have to say... but I really don't want to get into a political argument about why none of the names on the ballot are getting my vote for president.

********************

Although I respond to some people's FB posts...I don't post that much.

What Friends
"The people of Odyssey have taught me a valuable lesson.  Nothing lasts forever."  - J. Whitaker, "Recollections"

"I miss having a bunch of pals.
Aaron and Andy and Joe S and Joe T and Richie and Ryan and Shane
Carolyn and Cassie and busy Lizzy and Sonia and Rachel" - May 01, 2007

I wanted to believe the one song, "friends are friends forever..."
but I can't.

I had some friends once. Went from folks at church who sat across from us at Sunday School, to invited to a Super Bowl party, to phase 10 card games, watching movies..I was a groomsman at their wedding.

You can guess what happened. We both changed churches, both moved. We're friends on Facebook, but barely.

As mentioned before, I generally don't keep in touch with coworkers when jobs change.  And I may talk with them, but not about the big stuff. Never the big stuff.

I may have 140 friends on Facebook... But it's really 4 close friends, a lot of family - some of whom are as close as these close friends, and a lot of people who I barely talk to anymore.

I'm seeing a pattern where I say less and less, assume no one wants to hear what I say, and I shut up even more.

Don't text messages go both ways?

A songwriter once wrote "friends are friends forever..." But I can no longer believe that. Time heals everything, but sometimes like continental drift, it pulls people away. Even the close friends, even ones under the same roof.

Don't believe me? The church I was baptized in.  The school I got my associate's from. The school I got my bachelor's from. The four clubs I was a part of. The men of dorm B-216. Either employment at Abernathy building.  The pothole in K-120 known as Severance.  The church I got married in.  The greatest blogging website ever.
Dust in the wind.  I knew hundreds of people from those places...

Daughter of Stella. Daughter of Barbara. Father of Julian. Father of Asher.

you blame almighty God for everything you do...

  One of the few (ok, 8) pastors who I follow on twitter tweeted,
  "To ignore prophecy is to ignore something God has given for our good."

  And, a verse I've heard for years - 2 Chronicles 20:20
  "Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful"

  But...if you've read this blog at all, you know where I'm going.

  If I desire the truth, find me the true oracle of God.  Find me the man - or the woman - who has consistently heard the voice of God, consistently delivered the voice of God, and consistently seen the hand of God provide what was promised.

  I come back to those blood moons.  What do the defenders of Hagee say now?  Heck, what does Hagee say now?  What was different?  And why did God - if He did time things - send the blood moons before some events and after others?

  I remember looking at a very respected 20th century evangelist and prophet.  Although he ... hit a home run on one of his prophecies, he missed on several others - trust me, there are people who have nothing better to do than list a famous prophet's misses.

  Having been in the end-times for almost 2 millennia, how do we know if we have 2 years left, or 2 centuries left, or 2 more millennia left?

  Again, if you say "thus saith the Lord" on a potential and unlikely event this winter...and you're wrong...maybe you should just read large passages verbatim from the gospels and epistles, then set the bible down and sit back down.

**************************

  But...I do wish there was a way to get many of the local churches together on anything.

Monday, October 10, 2016

bloody but unbowed

MM#26 Bounce 6/9/08 (Bon Jovi)

This one is what I consider one of the five essential Monday Melodies (along with MM51 Second Chance, MM86 This Is The Good Life, MM96 not-announced-yet, and room for a 5th if I decide to.)
This one was chosen in the 2008 Monday melody March Madness something, beating such songs as "In The Light" and "Jesus Freak" by dc Talk and "If You're Going Through Hell" by Rodney Atkins
(And I thought I had problems back then.  I was so naive.)


I been knocked down so many times
Counted out 6, 7, 8, 9
Written off like some bad deal
If you're breathing you know how it feels
Call it karma, call it luck
Me, I just don't give a 
[Chorus:]
Bounce, Bounce Nothing's gonna keep me down
Bounce, Bounce Stand up, shout it out
Bounce, Bounce I play hard, I play to win
Count me out, count me in
I'll be bouncing back again
This ain't no game; I play it hard
Kicked around, cut, stitched and scarred
I'll take the hit but not the fall
I know no fear, still standing tall
You can call it karma, call it luck
Me, I just don't give a 

[Chorus:]
Bounce, Bounce Nothing's gonna keep me down
Bounce, Bounce Stand up, shout it out
Bounce, Bounce I play hard, I play to win
Count me out, count me in
I'll be bouncing back again
Bounce!
[Guitar Solo]

Bring it on, I like it rough
In your face, I call your bluff
It ain't karma, it ain't luck
Me, I just don't give a 
[Chorus:]
Bounce, Bounce Nothing's gonna keep me down
Bounce, Bounce Stand up, shout it out
Bounce, Bounce I play hard, I play to win
Count me out, count me in
I'll be bouncing back again

Bounce, Bounce 
Nothing's gonna keep me down
Bounce, Bounce Stand up, shout it out
Bounce, Bounce I play hard, I play to win
Count me out, count me in
I'll be bouncing back again

"Never give up. Never surrender."  - Peter Quincy Taggart

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Where did the truck commercials go?

As I told my friend, one thing that bothers me is that...
the set of skills and butt-kissing required to win a major party presidential primary campaign is different than...
the set of skills and butt-kissing required to win a general presidential campaign, which is different than...
the set of skills and butt-kissing required to effectively serve as president.

Here's the venn diagram, in my opinion.

O      O      O

*******************************************

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. - John Adams

There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. - Attributed to Mark Twain.

A friend of mine discussed Kansas school funding.  He discussed the proportion of Kansas revenues going to education, several various rankings of educational outcomes, and comparisons between teacher pay and the high-end superintendent/administrator positions.

There's a big lawsuit "Gannon" in the Kansas Supreme Court, in which the two sides are throwing numbers at each other in an attempt to determine whether the state of Kansas is adequately funding education.

And, if the court finds that the funding isn't adequate, the state of Kansas is looking at some sort of court-mandated tax increase.

*******************************************

Fighting the narrative...you might be able to throw statistics at it, but you have a small chance.  The problem is, no one wants news anymore.  Just the story.  Just the lead.

Fighting the revolution...I see one chance on the political front...and it involves a unified front - across many red red states - saying in one voice, "hell no, we won't go."  It involves standing up to the media, the sports world, and the zeitgeist.

Fighting the government overreach...A convention of the states making an amendment to strengthen the 10th Amendment...to allow states to do whatever the hell they want...that has a small chance.  But...it could get the marijuana lobby and the religious right lobby on the same page...

*******************************************

I looked at my choices on my ballot for President.  Hell no, hell no, no, hell no.  I only trust two of them to not get us involved in another war.  I only trust one of them to care about religious liberty.  I only trust two of them to care about strict constituionalist justices.  But in all, none of them are worthy of my oval.

*******************************************

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dealing With The Pain

MM#19 Like We Never Loved At All - Faith Hill & Tim McGraw - April 29, 2008


"And, this is for nothing but the tunes.  Ivy and I are doing fine."  - from my blog on April 29, 2008.

Fine is relative.  And I suppose, compared to some of my friends, we were still together.  But...we'd been through some challenges, and more to come.
One of the big challenges was holding our marriage together.  There were times that we had problems.  Times when we felt like we were living separate lives under the same roof.  Times where we weren't even sleeping under the same roof.  Times where my selflishness, my lies, and my fear hurt our family.

You never looked so good
As you did last night
Underneath the city lights
There, walking with your friend
Laughing at the moon
I swear you looked right through me
But I'm still living with your goodbye
And you're just going on with your life

How can you just walk on by
Without one tear in your eye?
Don't you have the slightest feelings left for me?
Maybe that's just your way
Of dealing with the pain
Forgetting everything between our rise and fall
Like we never loved at all
You, I hear you're doing fine
Seems like you're doing well
As far as I can tell
Time is leaving us behind
Another week has passed
And still I haven't laughed yet
So tell me
What your secret is
(I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know)
To letting go, letting go like you did
Like you did
How can you just walk on by
Without one tear in your eye
Don't you have the slightest feelings left for me?
Maybe that's just your way
Of dealing with the pain
Forgetting everything between our rise and fall
Like we never loved at all
Did you forget the magic?(Oooh)
Did you forget the passion?(Ohh-ho)
And did you ever miss me?
Ever long to kiss me?
(Ooh, whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa baby, baby)
Maybe that's just your way of dealing with the pain
Forgetting everything between our rise and fall
Like we never loved
At all(At all)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

duck duck goose

So, I compared my family's expenses to the average family's expenses.
But I decided that any details would be unnecessarily transparent/security/yeah, you know.

And then I was going to discuss how what I keep hearing ends up on my blog.
You know, my rants about repentance, revival, end-times prophecy, and a month tweeting about state politics.

Or we could discuss the sort of things that don't make the blog.
There's some things that I can talk about, or my wife will talk about...but I won't blog about.  Something about "google Steven Pratt" that makes me nervous.

Then I was thinking about the "last normal day" in my life.
But, if I'm looking for a day since I got married when I had a good relationship with my mother, my wife wasn't severely depressed, I had a full-time job, the critical bills were paid, and I didn't have problems with DCF...
Strike that...
But, if I'm looking for a day when I had a good relationship with my mother, my wife wasn't severely depressed, I had a job , the critical bills were paid, and I didn't have problems with DCF...

Well, the last six months have been as close to perfect as I've been blessed with since I got married.

But, once you get your ducks in order, something always happens.  Not always a bad thing, but something always happens.

Compare and contrast

It would be impossible to discuss the subject without a common frame of reference. - Spock, Star Trek IV

Was it good? Was it great? Was it the best ever?  How do we know, unless we have comparison.  
We know who is fastest at the race because he crosses the tape before the other runners.
We know who is the best gymnast because they are all watched performing, and scored.

But, when we think about our co-workers - the best ever...have we compared them to every other co-worker, or even the ones at the other franchises?

Or whether this wonderful life is as wonderful as it could be, based on a thousand what-ifs and a trillion unexpected or unpredictable consequences of playing out the what-ifs...


Monday, September 26, 2016

Speak of the Devil

MM#8 If You're Going Through Hell (November 12, 2007)

Guess what.  Life sucks.  Life is a bed of roses, thorns and all.  (you don't have to say 'AMEN' that loud.)
And sometimes, we get discouraged. 
But we've got to keep going.  We're not going to get anywhere doing nothing but measuring how short the paycheck is, how screwed up the family is, or how much of a moron...never mind.
But people have come to a conclusion.  Things get better.  Not that life is a cycle of good and bad...but the rain falls on both the just and the unjust. 
And sometimes, when life has dropped a whole ton of lemons on your head, and you're either on your knees or knocked flat on your bottom...
Keep going.
"(T)here's angels everywhere out on the street
Holding out a hand to pull you back upon your feet"
It ain't over yet.

I posted that on November 12, 2007.  7 years to the day after I proposed to my now-wife.  I divide my married life into three parts.  The first seven years, the Great Tribulation, and the current era.
The 'fasten seat belts' light was on, the money was starting to get tight (although, honestly, I had no idea how bad things could get), and I was stressed.  At this point, I owned that piece-of-junk grey van...

Well I been deep down in that darkness
I been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons
Breathing fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled
I'd fall right into the trap that they were laying, Yeah
But the good news
Is there's angels everywhere out on the street
Holding out a hand to pull you back upon your feet
The one's that you been dragging for so long
You're on your knees
You might as well be praying
Guess what I'm saying
...
Yeah, If you're going through hell
Keep on moving, Face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Honesty, the brutal kind

"I was once asked what my best characteristic was. My answer was 'I have none.' "

That answer surprised my wife (who answered "my desire to be a good father") and my pastor's wife (who commented that that answer was "just wrong"), but in my honest moments... That's my conclusion.

 It just hurts when I take a reasonable assessment of my life and realize how much I've wasted; too many opportunities I missed; how little I've improved, if improved is even an accurate verb to use. I probably didn't realize how spot on my warning to my friend was 15 years ago, don't marry a lesser man than me.  Some days, I conclude that I have no good qualities anymore.

My contribution to the family is approximately a paycheck smaller than my wife's, 20 fights a week,  and an amount of chores done that the four year old at church would exceed, more complaining that all four of my teenage children, less faith than any of them, and interests in politics, math, video games, it's all useless. Just like me.

I suppose there is some sort of rigorous routine of directed action that would mold me into the man I was supposed to be, the man I want to become something useful. But I don't know what I would have to do, and experience shows I don't have the endurance to carry it out three days, let alone 90 days or a lifetime.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Now at Cruising Altitude

MM#93 Leavin' On A Jet Plane (new)

All my bags are packed
I'm ready to go
I'm standin' here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin'
It's early morn
The taxi's waitin'
He's blowin' his horn
Already I'm so lonesome
I could die
So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go
Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
I'll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won't have to leave alone
About the times, I won't have to say
So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Ten days in 2003.  Three days in 2004.  Fourteen days in 2005.  Twenty days in 2006.  Five days in 2007.  Thirty-five days in 2008.  Five days in 2009.
Nine trips, totalling 92 days that paid very well, but took me away from home.  Four of those trips took me over the Pacific to support US-Korean war games.
Packing suitcases.  Triple-checking itineraries, tickets, passport, hotel reservations, taxis, and airport shuttles.  Long goodbyes.  Sleeping on the flight.  Making airport layovers and transfers.  Finding my hotel.
I learned a couple programming languages that I don't use anymore.  Discussed a new feature on a program that isn't used anymore.  Supported a wargame in preparation of a war I pray never happens.  Observed how my program interacted with other programs made by other companies.  Got paid good money.
Missed only one birthday.

I know the kids are glad to have me home all the time now.  Although...my last flight in '09 wasn't the last time I was away from my precious children.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Track Skip

MM#92 Severance Day (new)

Well, when you throw the word "Severance" in a Spotify search engine, you get a bunch of songs.  This one is the one that made it onto other playlists.  And, frankly, it's a screamer.
But, for a city that I called home for 9 years, 5 months, and 5 days, it kinda fits.  From April 2004 to September 2013.

Severance, KS. population 94.  No grocery store, no post office, no churches, no cafe, no school.  Had to go out of town for any of those.
Politics was a mess - and that was a long story and a generator of many blogs.
I was lonely, isolated, and burning gas like it was going out of style.
But the water of the Wolf River flows through my veins.  I was born in Leavenworth, but I'll always be a little bit Wolf.

Call this restitute
Call this open truth
Call this my salute
Call this severance

Call this retribute
Call this misspent youth
Call this my abise
This is my severance day

My way
And it's all of my soul that i give
And it's my way

Call this non-dilute
Call this ill repute
Call this tainted fruit
Call this severance

Call this over-shoot
Call this double proof
Call this my uproot
This is my severance day

HBD, Paula

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Worthwhile

My blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts are few and far between not because my life is boring, but because I have a high (in  comparison to my cohort of American 30-somethings) threshold for whether I consider something worthy to host. Very high on Facebook, about as high on blog, a little lower on Twitter.  I don't post recipes, memes, or countdown until Christmas.

But, instead of hinting at what i could say.. I'll just say it.

I remember once having so many topics to write on that I had a link for upcoming attractions possibly as many as 15 ideas that turned into about a dozen blogs. And I'm only days ahead on my automatic posting of Monday Melody of my life feature although I know the songs that will bring me to the current by the end of the year.  Had trouble with a song by Montgomery Gentry I ended up scratching off the list.

Quick one about perspective and revival, etc.  In a nation that claims to be 70% Christian, but only 35% go to church weekly...
And is our internal definition of revival any different than our definition of political victory?  Christendom has its advantages... And disadvantages.

I like my job. It keeps me busy, I'm good at it, and I can provide excellent customer service.  I have some great co-workers, including my delivery team and service desk team. I would like to move to a full-time position, when the right one opens. (management knows, but most openings are part time or overnight) And that pumpkin headed Halloween decoration that we are selling really freaks me out.

If I had my choice, either Senator Cruz or Senator Rubio would be the GOP nominee. But I don't, and I'm not sure where my irrelevant POTUS vote (If KS goes blue, former SecState Clinton won in a landslide) is going. Johnson, write-in, blank, ???

Honestly, there's only name on the ballot that I know that I am marking, my friend and State Representative Tony Barton. Our family is on his campaign team #teamtony !!

Last Tuesday, August 30, we set our personal record for finishing our routes, throwing the last paper at 4:25pm.  Takes a lot of motivation, a couple teen-agers,  and a few gallons of gas to get it all done.

My younger daughter loves babies, and with our church with four pregnant women... She's looking forward to holding all the infants... But not all at once!
My wife commented that if we ever had another baby, we'd be there for the birth, and then Olivia would take care of her sibling for the next several years..

My next Saturday blog will begin,
"I was once asked what my best characteristic was. My answer was 'I have none.' "

Monday, September 5, 2016

Ready-made family

MM#91 He Didn't Have To Be, Brad Paisley [New]

My loyal blog readers (all four of you) will understand that I have frequently commented on what I've often described as the "worst-kept secret" in our family, more on xanga than on SwS.  And September 16 (stepparents' day) is a marked day in my house for other reasons.  I reblogged a post I submitted to momaroo (yeah, now I'm dating myself) a few years ago.  No other new insights about it, so I'll link to the reblog 7/6/13  and just discuss the song.

The song was on the radio in late '00 and/or early '01.  (And actually, it was the number 1 country single in December '99, but it wasn't on my radar at that point.)  And from the first time I saw my friend's daughter, I cared about her.  A few months later, when I was engaged, my future wife asked me, "what do you want Molly to call you?"  My conclusion was, "I know what I want her to call me when she's 5, which will be the same thing she calls me when she's 4...which is what I want her to call me now.  Daddy."

When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new
And it always winds up being more like a job interview
My momma used to wonder if she'd ever meet someone
Who wouldn't find out about me and then turn around and run

I met the man I call my Dad when I was five years old
He took my Mom out to a movie and for once I got to go
A few months later I remember lying there in bed
I overheard him pop the question and I prayed that she'd say yes

And then all of a sudden oh it seemed so strange to me
How we went from somethings missing to a family
Lookin' back all I can say about all the things he did for me
Is I hope I'm at least half the Dad that he didn't have to be

I met the girl that's now my wife about three years ago
We had the perfect marriage but we wanted somethin' more
Now here I stand surrounded by our family and friends
Crowded 'round the nursery window as they bring the baby in

And now all of a sudden oh it seemed so strange to me
How we've gone from somethings missing to a family
Lookin' through the glass I think about the man that's standin' next to me
And I hope I'm at least half the Dad that he didn't have to be

And lookin' back all I can say about all the things he did for me
Is I hope I'm at least half the Dad that he didn't have to be
Yeah, I hope I'm at least half the Dad that he didn't have to be
Because he didn't have to be, you know he didn't have to be

But...after 15 years, it really sucks when you find out, that for once, the difference between legal guardian and custodial stepparent exists, and it's not a good thing.

Monday, August 29, 2016

You and your dear Ivy

MM#90 Dancing in the Minefields, Andrew Peterson [New]

H/T to my friend and regular reader @BooksForMe who posted this song on my Facebook...and nailed it.
I was nineteen, you were twenty-one
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway
We bought our rings for forty each
From a pawn shop down the road
We said our vows and took the leap
Now fifteen years ago

Yeah. I was nineteen when I got engaged.  (Which made a very interesting conversation on my 20th birthday two weeks later.)  And, yeah, people questioned our readiness.  My youth, how far I was away from getting The Job™, how things had went with her last relationship, etc.  But we did it anyway...We said our vows and took the leap.

And we went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storms
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

I underestimated the challenge.  I overestimated myself.  And it was harder than we dreamed.

'Cause He promised not to leave us
And His promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby, I can dance with you

With everything I've been through, I can tell you that God has been with our family.  He hasn't forsaken us.  But often He's let us go through enough to remind me that I'm not all that.

Monday, August 22, 2016

believe me, I havent figured out a song that fits you better


MM#51 Second Chance, Shinedown [Xanga 2009 Aug 17]

There are two songs that are atop the list of Monday Melodies.  One won a weird bracket competition that my brother and I ran years ago.  This is the other one.

You know the sign that says, "Teenagers!  Move out while you know it all!"  Well, when I was 20, I thought I knew it all.  And I had a bachelor's degree to boot.  And I was in love.  And I was, to a degree, arrogant, naive, and stupid.

Some of my friends and family discussed their concerns with me.  I blew them off.  They declined to attend my wedding.  That hurt.

I burned some bridges that weekend in April.  And it took a long time for some of them to be rebuilt.  Years.

"Tell my mother, Tell my father. 
I've done the best I can. 
To make them realize. This is my life. 
I hope they understand
I'm not angry.  I'm just saying
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance."


HBD Rachel.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Colonel's Toyota, sans radio

MM#2 Someday, Out of the Blue, Elton John [Xanga 2007 October 15]

As the MM clock ticks towards current time, we move to the 11 months where I was a double-bachelor.  (BS, Compsci & Unmarried).

"Well, a lot changes in a few months for a man who falls in love with a woman.  Especially when it's love unrecognized, followed by love lost (x 2).  And during that crazy summer - oh, and trust me, it was crazy - this song haunted me.  Something about it being a big hit in the summer of 2000.  I told my brother, "I hear this one more time, and I'll tear the stereo right out of this truck...oh, wait, it's Grandpa's truck...never mind..." "  - Excerpt from blog 15 October 2007

Yeah, pretty simply, I had one more chance with that friend from Iowa.  And with our paths crossing as often as they did (church, choir, Mom's sewing business)...maybe it was inevitable.  Maybe it was destiny.  Maybe it was...but that's a comment for another blog.
By mid-June 2000, things were back to the way they were before my East Coast trip.  (Long story).  And you put two good friends together that much...sometimes...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Where those years have gone

MM#74 I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack [Xanga 2011 Sep 5]

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance, 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...

Lee Ann Womack, "I Hope You Dance"
I had a few very good friends in college.
"He wasn't a great friend.  He was a lifelong friend."
POTUS, Clear and Present Danger (film)

I exchanged gifts with one of those friends upon my graduation.  I gave her a biography of a recently deceased person who had the same first name.  She gave me a CD of Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance."

First...even at the shindig / formal dance events, I was the guy who sat out a lot of dances.  Heck, I remember one party where I was talking to the dog.  I've never been good at social functions like that.

Second...yeah.  After sixteen years, the idealistic me has been kicked to the curb, with a sadder but wiser and scar-covered me.

But...as sappy as this song is, it's ok.  There are songs that exemplify perseverance (see MM#8, later this year.)  But there's some that discuss the attitude.  The love and wonder and all that sappy stuff...that we actually need.  That makes the journey worth taking.

Thanks, Cassie.

Steve,
People with such strength in faith and the blinding light of Christ in their hearts will never be unimportant or invisible.  You have been such an inspiration in how to live a God-dependent life, I'm so thankful for your amazing presence, your friendship.  The future is never clear, but I know that God has you in His hands, He will lead you.  May He make your way clear, full of His peace.

Monday, August 1, 2016

3rd down, give Steve the ball

MM#79 The Boys of Fall, Kenny Chesney [Xanga 2011 Sep 26]

It's I got your number, I got your back
When your back's against the wall
You mess with one man, you got us all
The boys of fall

Some songs have a catch line that hits you long before you listen to the whole thing.  (Also see Carrie Underwood's "Change" - "You're just a fool, just a fool to believe you can change the world")  This one first caught my ear for the band-of-brothers / musketeers part of the chorus.

I have four brothers.  But, as it can be imagined, I've always been closest to my twin brother Robert.  We rocked the world.  (Sort of.)  We were legends.  (In our own minds.)  We were part of the greatest team ever.  (No, we won actually finished 2nd to those rascals from Maryville).

But from bike rides to mowing lawns to killing lawns playing backyard football to programming backyard football to programming classes...we were a great team.  He had my back many times, even after we went our separate ways.  And the day he offered his help in my darkest hour - I am eternally grateful to him.  And to a God who thought that I needed a friend from day 1.

"I kicked him out.  Then I got bored."  - Robert Pratt, on being the second-born twin.


@Romans_837:  I still think that @Romans_837 and @rjmarathon could rock the free world.

@rjmarathon: the whiz kids, amateur philosophers, political sports junkies, red team for apologetics, or just two dads with used minivans?

@Romans_837:  replacement and stunt double for World's Most Interesting Man™.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

1,500th tweet.

So, after participating in something called #g5qs, where @GeneWillis asks (generally) 5 questions, and a bunch of tweeps answer most of them (I usually skip movie-related ones), I noticed I was at 1,499 tweets.  Thought I'd do something meta for 1,500.

Then I forgot about 1,500.

On Monday, July 18, Captain Dave Melton was shot and killed while responding to a call in Kansas City, Kansas.  The second cop-death in the Kansas City area in less than three months (the other one, Brad Lancaster, was also in KCK), and another one right after the ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

This one was different, because Captain Melton had served in the Kansas National Guard, including two year-long tours in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Captain Melton was going to be buried at Leavenworth National Cemetery.  (The same cemetery my grandparents are buried at.)  The procession was going to drive up from Childrens' Mercy Park (where Sporting KC plays soccer), up K-7 through Lansing, into Leavenworth, then a right turn on Muncie and to the cemetery.

Right past a home improvement retailer that pays me to wear an orange apron and find online orders.  Right in the middle of my shift.

@Romans_837 #1,500
"The procession for fallen KCKPD CPT Melton will go past my workplace while I'm at work tomorrow. @LVTimesNews (link to article)"

So...I was outside, helping a customer load their product into their vehicle when the first motorcycles drove by.  I called the store manager to let him know that the motorcade had started - but he was already out there.  The motorcade took somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes to pass.  I wasn't able to be outside for all of it, but...

Rest in peace, Captain Melton.

Change, measured by the five rings

My life is full of changes.  A friend once challenged me to think where I want to be in five years.  My supervisor wants me to think about where I want to go with my career.  (Let's start with learning a few more of the tools, getting full-time status, and being able to pick my hours)
But, using a regularly scheduled event as a metronome, let's look at how things have been in my life for the last five Summer Olympic Games.

The 2000 Olympics began in Sydney, Australia on 15 September 2000.  I lived with my parents and eight sibs (youngest wasn't born yet) on the west side of Leavenworth.  My mom had just started a sewing business with my girlfriend's mother, so I got opportunities to see my girlfriend and her daughter whenever my gf's mother (future m-i-l) would bring them down to sew.  I'd just started a temp job on Shawnee Mission Parkway, an assignment doing data entry that would last four months.  And I was borrowing my grandpa's gray Toyota truck.  "AIBUBAT"

The 2004 Olympics began in Athens, Greece on 13 August 2004.  I lived at the house I'd just bought in Severance a few months earlier.  My wife and our four children called that place home.  I was working down in Leavenworth as a computer programmer.  I'd hit a point where I wondered, "I'm 23, married w/4 kids, own a house, have a good job, what's left to conquer?"  We'd just bought a red Ford Windstar.

The 2008 Olympics began in Beijing, China on 8 August 2008.  Still lived in Severance with wife and four children.  Still worked down in Leavenworth as a computer programmer.  I was a day away from my fourth and final trip across the Pacific for the war games.  But by then, several challenges had hit me - my faith, finances, and relationship were all suffering badly.  This was the time I owned a old piece-of-junk gray Dodge Caravan (over 12 years old, held together by a shoelace and wire, pray to God it doesn't rain)

The 2012 Olympics began in London, United Kingdom on 27 July 2012.  Still lived in Severance with wife and four children.  Unemployed for over a year - it would be another six weeks before I landed the job as a call-center-from-home rep.  Ivy had a job working at the nearby nursing home.  By this point I'd hit a major low, with my faith, finances, relationship still troubled.  And other storms were on the horizon.  We had a blue Ford Aerostar (a really old one), but it was on the fritz so Ivy was borrowing her mom's car.

The 2016 Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 5 August 2016.  Living in the middle of Leavenworth with wife and four children.  I'm working part-time at a major retailer, my wife is working at the nearby grocery store.  (Between London and Rio, I've went from unemployed to call-center-from-home to retail to call-center back to retail.)  By the grace of God, I've survived some of the major storms of the last few years. Currently driving a gray Mercury Grand Marquis.
But, I've got no idea what's in the future.  Besides my children getting close to graduation, adulthood, etc...and, looking back, I've never had a clue what was coming up.
God be with me.

Monday, July 25, 2016

new chapters start with a trumpeter

MM#89 Covenant Children - Phil Driscoll [New]

In the fall of 1988, whenever my mom would play that song in the morning (on a cassette tape, on a tall stereo system behind a big glass door), that would mean that the homeschool school day had begun.  Sometimes I hoped the tape was on the wrong side.  But, when your homeschool is named "Covenant Children Foundation", you start your school day with that song from Phil Driscoll.
Lyrics [if I'm hearing it right as I crank it again and again on Spotify]

Bone of his bone
Flesh of his flesh
I'm a new creation with Jesus
All things are passed away
And I am brand new
I'm got a contract with Jesus
[Chorus]
Covenant Children
Covenant Children
Covenant Children
In covenant with Jesus with the blessings of Abraham
Made me the head
not the tail
said i'd be above and never under
I'm blessed when I go out
I'm blessed when I come in
All of heaven's power I'm plugged into
[Chorus]
He set me on a high place
Filled me with his love
Made me a joint heir with Jesus
Opened up the treasures
Of his heavenly realm
All I see around me here is blessing
[Chorus]

1) Sounds a lot like some of the word of faith / prosperity gospel stuff.  (Question of emphasis, purpose of faith and emulating Abraham, etc.)
2) An invitation to hear this trumpet player at a different church in St. Joseph during my first semester at Missouri Western...changed the direction of my life.  Found a new church, a new understanding of God, a new depth of relationship with God, and eventually - the woman I would end up marrying.  (She heard the pastor first, I went to the church first, she joined the church and the choir first)

Monday, July 18, 2016

naked, screaming, and a lot shorter

MM#88 Lady - Kenny Rogers [New]

The Phillies had won their first World series a few weeks earlier.
President Carter had been soundly defeated by former governor Ronald Reagan.|
Kristen was discovered as the answer to the biggest cliffhanger in television history.
A Kenny Rogers song was topping the charts on the  4th Sunday in November.
John Lennon was still alive and making news.
And a pair of twins were born in Leavenworth, Kansas.
But since this is #mondaymelody, let's back up to the chart-topper.

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more
You have gone and made me such a fool
I'm so lost in your love
And oh, we belong together
Won't you believe in my song
Lady, for so many years I thought I'd never find you
You have come into my life and made me whole
Forever let me wake to see you each and every morning
Let me hear you whisper softly in my ear
In my eyes I see no one else but you
There's no other love like our love
And yes, oh yes, I'll always want you near me
I've waited for you for so long
Lady, your love's the only love I need
And beside me is where I want you to be
'Cause, my love, there's somethin' I want you to know
You're the love of my life, you're my lady

Ah, typical sappy song.  Sort of thing that mostly fits the love between my wife and I (and a million other couples.)  But, it's special to me because of when it hit the top of the charts.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

No drought, no locusts, no plague.

So earlier this week I was followed on Twitter by a couple Twitter accounts, representing an event and it's leader, who are trying to rally an American week of repentance right before election day.

As I think I've previously stated on this blog, in general I will not speak ill against a preacher of God calling people, saint or sinner, to repentance, because that is what we are called to do. We are told by John the Baptist, St. Peter, Martin Luther, and Christ himself to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.

But, I'm not alone in having a bit of disagreement with the use of Two Chronicles 7:14 as a rallying cry for a prayed for American revival.
One person who I know has also stated an objection to this is Dr. Russell Moore. His Twitter bio reads, "President, @ERLC; author of Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel; terrible representative of evangelical Christianity, due to nastiness".  And I respect and agree with his point of view. (2Chr714 only for original nation of Israel/Judah)  But I have a different point of view, and I have stated it before.
How do we know which calamities that have befallen our nation,
    if any event in the last hundred and fifty years can be considered a calamity,
would fit under the criteria of 2nd Chronicle 7:13,
in which God says
  if I have (paraphrasing smited your land) - more precisely, "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people"

As I have stated before, without the word of God to necessarily call a calamity the Judgment of God, we are merely guessing on whether God is smiting us or if we are smiting our selves, or if it is merely the curse of Adam cursing us.

And, another thing.  There are so many fractured movements trying to unify the church and call us to repentance, action, sorrow, etc.  There's only one person who could even get half the church to come together on a single day, and he's an Argentine octogenarian living in Italy.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Playlist of my life

MM#67 I Go Back - Kenny Chesney [Xanga 2011 May 02]
"We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives
Takes us to another place and time"
Excerpt from "I Go Back"

This is a massive tune-assisted look over my life.  Over the songs that sound like my life.  The songs I marked, and a few new ones.  By my preliminary count, 18 old #mondaymelody and 11 new ones. Artists like Kenny Rogers, Phil Wickham, and Carrie Underwood are getting their names added to Monday Melody.

So, next week, I'm going to turn the dial all the way back.  Back to the Carter Administration, to the first time the Royals raised the pennant, and Lennon was still with us.

But before I do, a quote from the day I blogged "I Go Back"

"It sucks.  So many of the funerals our family has went to...have been of people in their 20s and 30s.
Joe & Richa.  Jacob M.  Jennifer H.  Brian B.
I hate death."
Excerpt from blog, 02 May 2011.

I still hate death.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What part of "thou shalt not kill" did you not understand?

  I wish I had the guts to ignore this week's events and blog something entirely irrelevant.  Like which sport I think has nowhere to go but fourth-down.  Or my struggles with how to trust an unpredictable God - Lewis's "not a tame lion".  Or whether I have anything unique to say about any subject.

  I was going to do a #FridayFlyover. March 3, 1991.  The corner of Foothill Boulevard and Osborne Street, Los Angeles, CA.  The original case of white cop, black suspect, police brutality, and a camera.  Rodney King.  But after Dallas, ...

  Not all deaths are created equal.  Some deaths are a national tragedy, mourned by many.  Others are a personal affair, a mostly empty funeral parlor with just the surviving family.  And some get the attention of the media.
  And, as I've noted before (see blog), the tail wags the dog.  Chance, circumstance, proximity to recording, and anticipated media value decide which deaths we hear about.  And, this week, seven deaths have wrenched our attention away from Clinton and Trump...
 
  I told my brother that I think that as a white man in the 2010s, I'm 10x as aware of a racism that is only half as virulent and hazardous as it was 50 or 100 years ago.
  But as we try to defeat the plague, we go from considering it a part of life, to an enemy to be fought and eradicated.  As we win the war, each battle seems more dear, more important to win.  The same theory works for smallpox and racism.

  Again, I don't know if it's because it is the national conversation...but...this might be the week that we lose hope in American civilization.

  Again, although I consider this potentially a important day in American history (call back in 10 years, because sometimes we can't tell whether a day will become historic or not - see June 28, 1914)...I don't see it as a sign of the end times.  This isn't the first time a nation has lost trust in its pillars.  And I still think the 20th century was much more full of what would be considered signs of the end times, using popular definition.

  And...unless you want to tell me how God has smitten our nation, unless you want to point to a true calamity in our nation in the last 150 years...I don't see how you can claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 if you can't find the qualifying event in 2 Chronicles 7:13.

  We are held hostage by 70 people per million.  By the violence and murders of a miniscule but deadly cancer.  16,000 murders in our country.  Another 1,000 killed by cops (whether justified - see Orlando shooter, or less-than-justified to what-in-the-hell-were-you-thinking).  Guns guns guns.
  Is there a solution that reduces the reaper's toll?  (One that actually reduces violence?)  And if you believe the answer is revival, how can we create a revival if we haven't been able to do it in the last ??? years.  And what would a revival look like?  And what cultural, political, and other changes would accompany revival?

  As usual, all I have are questions.  I don't have answers.  I have statistics, but they're poor consolation.
  I posted a tweet on June 11.  "The math geeks tell us that the crime rate has dropped by 40-50% nationwide in last 20-25 years...but yeah, @GeneWillis, we must get better."  This was after a singer was murdered in Orlando, one day before the Pulse shootings.
  Like I said before, I'm getting sick of it.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Melody: Recap

#mondaymelody - (hashtag, used to reference the mostly-on-Monday song highlight-and-personal reflection articles mostly on my Xanga from October 2007 to January 2012, then intermittently on Saturdays With Steven)

I've posted four songs so far on SwS.  I'm highlighting three of them to open the #mondaymelody account.

MM#84 Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Perhaps the most pop of my MMs, I posted some words about my battle with depression.  It was a cover.  A lot of my blogs were cover, or obscure, or "in the style of Romans_837", leaving much unsaid.  And so was this one.
Someone I knew had "come out of the closet."  And I didn't see it coming.  It left me wrangling a few questions, about the whole "nature vs nurture" / "born or bred" issues, the questions in regards to my traditional Christian understanding of gender and sexuality, and such.
This was neither my first nor my last time talking to someone who was LGBT.  But this one led to my kids asking questions.  Questions that, in this decade, will be asked eventually.
And, because of the nature and proximity (or lack thereof), I figured that the person already was getting everything from both sides.
But, this is half of my reasons I "hate hate hate loathe despise" the phrase "God doesn't make mistakes."  (The other one involves Potter's Syndrome)

MM#85 Life Happened - Tammy Cochran
The song originally hit me for a single line in the final verse.  But...the whole "leaving college with dreams and goals, and then ending up nowhere near where you thought it would" concept of the song...hits me more these days.  I had a college professor who thought I was going to be the next Bill Gate$, and wanted a 10% cut of my future earnings.  I haven't written code for a paycheck in almost six years.
"I finally realized we turned out alright."
It's taken me a long time to let go of the regret for a bunch of things.  Some things I could've done differently/better.  Some  things were inevitable.  But...life happened.

MM#87 Even So Come - Kristian Stanfill
"I find great hope in our blessed hope.  The hope of the resurrection of the dead.  The hope of the return of Christ.  The hope of the Creator restoring all things.  The hope God has given to us about a future with Him."
This song gets a lot of play on the national Christian radio station I listen to.  (Currently, my preset stations are the national Christian radio station, the local Christian radio station, and the station that has Chiefs Football on it.)
And, as a Christian, the promise of the resurrection and the Second Coming help me persevere with perspective.  Life sucks, and it's a hell of a fight, but it's not the final chapter.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rent out Texas, live in hell.

Last year, Sporting KC beat Houston on their way to winning US Open Cup 2015. Since the Cup is geographically divided, not a surprise that we got a rematch. But Houston pulled the 3-1 win earlier this week, advancing to the quarterfinals, the first playoff win for Houston over Kansas City (any sport) since both ALDS (KC Royals 3-2) and Wild Card weekend (Chiefs 30-0).

Politically... If it came down to SCOTUS, it would be easy. Governor Johnson would probably put Ron Paul on the bench...
But there's things on the LP platform that I disagree with.  Frankly, it's a crap and diamond smorgasbord, almost a "Satan sandwich", to borrow the quote from the congressman in the next state.  Long story short, might write in Bill Pratt for President.

Sometimes, I feel like I could write attack ads for both sides. Disconcerting feeling when I grab my No.2 pencil and fill out my ballot.

And even if I was running a campaign...I don't know the best ways to motivate the base and win undecideds. (Van Damm's 20%)

Title quote from General Sheridan, in regards to part of his jurisdiction after the Civil War: "If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Newspaper and other random

1) The local paper, the Leavenworth Times, is down to 5 days a week.  Tu-Fr, Saturday "Weekend" version.  I've chatted with my bride as to whether subscribing is worth it.  Used to subscribe to the once-weekly Kansas Chief out of Wathena (mailed every Thursday) back when I lived in Doniphan County.  That way I knew who was running against me.

2) I now deliver six shopper routes on Tuesdays.  Totaling over 1,400 papers, the six routes run from 22nd to Esplanade, Metropolitan to Spruce (although it's not every route in that rectangle which basically covers the northern 1/3 of Leavenworth)  I include my younger three kids, and split the pay with them. (Molly works at the grocery store, and I've invited her, but she's not interested.)

3) I used a newspaper analogy to discuss my choices for conversation once.  I'd bore you if I talked too much world news, politics, or sports.  I don't care about fashion, celebrities, or Kardashians.  So what's there to talk about besides customers asking about 16-foot boards,

4) After going on another of my patented news-feed/subscribed-to purges, my twitter board looks like this:
People: 18
Leavenworth: 8
Pastors: 5
Music/Radio: 3
Other: 4
Used to follow a lot of other things, but...sometimes you have to pick what's really important.  Of course, then it gets to the point where you still check your FB/twitter, only to find out no one's posted in several hours.

5) Need to get some of those #mondaymelody blogs loaded up before the 4th.  I'm all the way to Labor Day.  So it's just a case of uploading 10 blogs.  (Never been that far ahead on blogging before.)

6) Thinking about what I'll write for my FB/twitter bio.  This is what my twitter bio currently is:
Married, father of four, oldest of ten. Leavenworth is my home. sed in his omnibus superamus propter eum qui dilexit nos : VIII XXXVII

7) Although a few of my friends have their own FB page for their creative stuff...don't plan on doing that in the immediate future.  I just don't have much to say.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Orlando

1st. I've already heard enough of the comments that are more fit for Westboro signs than this blog. And although I'm aware of the logic behind it...the next one who says something like that might get a "Fine, if you're going to quote the verse, take the rest of it and see who else will be spending eternity in the smoking section." from me.
And the people who my friends are willing to give a "maybe they'll change their mind" to...it makes me sick.

2nd. There are two lines that slant downward on my chart, and I bring them up often discussing mass shootings. In the United States, gun violence is down over the last 20-25 years. General violence is down over the last 20-25 years. Mass shootings are way up over the last 20-25 years. My brother has often lamented about what kind of world his young daughters are inheriting. He's a wise man. On the overall, it's a safer world than the world we grew up in, although a few of the dangers have increased.

3rd. Orlando just isn't another city to me. I have a couple connections to this mourning city. My parents met in Orlando. And I can reasonably assume that I was actually conceived there. And that city is the last place I flew to during my programming career, for a conference discussing and testing various wargames and their interaction. Orlando is the southernmost place I've ever visited.

4th. There are people who want to remind us that Isis is at war with the West. If the actions of the Orlando shooter are to be considered an act of war, then what is the appropriate response? Should there be a responsive declaration of war from our Congress, in accordance with our constitution? Should we be running more drone strikes and airstrikes against Isis targets? Should we bring in more special forces to sneak in and kill Al Qaeda and Isis number twos? (most dangerous job ever: Isis or Al Qaeda number two) Or is this a time to order boots on the ground and reconquer the territories held by ISIS, create a new secular state, and make it so unfriendly to Jihad either by running a religious test and only letting pacifist imams into the territory, or else make it clear that radicalization will not be tolerated. How we would threaten that is a fair question. I don't know if these are good ideas. It is just various options we can talk about.

5th. I occasionally wonder if we are giving these rascals too much credit. Perhaps their names should be not in their own echelon of criminal behavior, but merely call them criminals. Not terrorists, although their actions do scare the hell out of us. And perhaps deny them even the connection to the faith which they claim, and which others claim they pervert. Call the murderer just another criminal. Deny him in death any glory.

Finally. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Guns just make it easier to kill people, hurt people, or threaten people.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Diamond

When I speak of marital longevity, I don't speak about my parents (18 years - mid20s if you count the years the state of Kansas considered them common-law married); nor do I speak of my in-laws (22 years).

I speak of my paternal grandparents (50 years, 10 months, and some days - both Jim & Ruby passed away the same year.)  And I speak with honor of my maternal grandparents (60 years.)

SIXTY years.  This is their diamond anniversary.

I'm in awe.  And respect.

They have four children, seventeen grandchildren, and at least thirteen great-grandchildren.  An awesome legacy of a great couple.

Although he had other jobs, the one I'm told about most is that my grandfather worked for the US Postal service.  And my grandmother worked for the school district as a deaf interpreter.  In addition, my grandmother has worked with the deaf for many years, and is an ordained Assemblies of God minister to the deaf.

God bless Ed & Diann.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Scatterbrained.

It's a lot easier to blog about my past, guided by a hand-picked list of events and tunes #mondaymelody starting July 4; than it is to blog about my present or my future.

Going for the old bullet points method.

  • One of my kids has a peanut allergy that has accelerated quickly.  Packing benadryl, inhaler, epi-pen, and reading labels thoroughly.  But...I'm scared.  And after what happened this week - the worst reaction yet - I've never seen any of my children in that much danger before.  
  • This whole summer job thing is bringing in some serious cash for my kids.  Molly works with Ivy at the grocery store, and she's rocking in the bakery & deli.  Noah and Olivia are helping one of our friends in church with some yardwork.  And the younger three (Noah, Olivia, Zack) are hitting downtown on the weekly Shopper route each Tuesday.  
  • I'm posting a lot of political thoughts under the hashtag #ksleg on my twitter feed.  Being somewhat neutral on the twitter, although for multiple reasons, I know who I'm voting for the 41st House District.  #teamtony
  • Copa America.  As of posting, the US needed a result to advance to the bracket phase, which would probably mean a matchup with Brazil at New Jersey's Metlife Stadium.  We've almost beat Brazil a couple times, but it's Brazil.
  • Watched Agenda 2: Masters of Deception last week.  tl;dr - Author makes somewhat convincing case that USA is being prodded in multiple directions away from liberty and towards ever-increasing gov't, potentially ending with the US turning into a socialist/communist country.  
  • I spend a hell of a lot of time in my car making small trips.  1 mile to my wife's job; 3 miles to my job; 3 miles to Wal-Mart; 1 mile to church; 1 mile to my kid's self-defense class; all those miles on the previously mentioned Shopper route.  Even without a 45-mile one-way commute, I'm still going less than a week between refilling my gas tank. #firstworldproblems
  • I miss Xanga.  #2eprops
  • My grandparents...that might be worth breaking the Saturday rule.  #06/16/56

Saturday, May 21, 2016

No, I'm not adding #fridayflyovers

On July 4, this blog makes a major change.

#mondaymelody

Saturdays With Steven...now on Mondays too?!?!?!

#retrospective

For 26 Mondays...one song, and a few thoughts.

#romans_837

Skimming over the last 36 years of my life.

#staytuned

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Backup plan

So, I found some old thumb drives last month. I'm now going over tons of old pictures, archives, and documents, trying to remove duplicates, and maybe those files I'll never ever need (like anything related to the politics of the city I left 2 ½ years ago)

A) I start by sorting into images, music, videos, and everything else.
B) I have everything else sorted by year, although a big gap between 07 and 09. Guess that computer didn't get backed up.
C) With all the phone backup and thumb drive backup, I had numerous copies of some pictures, videos, and music. So images are sorted by year (again, very few between 2002 and 2009 ugg), and try to cull duplicates.
D) I still have the Xanga archives
E) I can back up random and images in under 2GB. Music and video will take much more room.
F) A few disks I used to have but either got scratched or lost in move and didn't make the chain of mp3 backups. Sigh. Especially Brad Paisley's first album.
G) A very large folder for all of Ivy's stuff from college and her phones. No touchie.
H) Our friend sent my wife the links to the renewal pictures. Trying to get a chance to download all 235? of them, let Ivy go print them out, etc.
I) However, the computer may be leaving the attic. It's too hot in the attic when it's hot outside.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Isolation and Irrelevance

15 years ago, I talked to a friend of mine about some of the problems I was having with living at college. I felt like an outsider, without strong relationships with my classmates, my friends from the various groups I attended, et cetera. And when I say talked I mean wrote letters longhand. And several of them were tear- stained, something that's odd even for me. I didn't really get an answer from my friend, and I spent most of the last 15 years struggling with perceived isolation and perceived irrelevance.

I felt this way about several of my jobs, including my eight years as a programmer in Leavenworth. I was the youngest , I was the one who wasn't buying new cars new trucks big houses and I have to concede that a jealousy hit hard those days. I still have problems with jealousy  - ask my wife how I feel about the Legends shopping center. (Like a lactose intolerant ice cream truck driver, or just so painfully jealous that I never never want to go there again.)

The young adults group at the church in St. Joseph was another example of me being the outsider. Young with family, many miles away, and not part of the old group, I wasn't one of them.

Then we have perhaps my best-case of dream becomes a nightmare, city of Severance. The only geek in the town. The only Big Town guy in a very very small town, or at least it felt like it. The only reason I was on the city council was because there was an opening there and the city was short on volunteers. They didn't ask me for advice. For various reasons they tried to get me off the council at several times, and I suppose reasonably so. For various reasons I'm very glad we got out of Severance and I promise you no one misses me.

And then there was my blog. Two of them. With very very few comments or readers. Just proof that my ideas were either irrelevant, or no one wants to change their mind (yeah, no one does)

I'm lost my confidence on my skills and opinions, so I've got no point speaking my mind if I'm not even sure I'm right. Hard enough to persuade when one is persuaded.

So what is it? Was it being homeschooled that possibly affected me? Or the attempted following of Gothard ? (imagine Duggars with an alcoholic father) Or being a genius and therefore accelerate ahead of my peers? (high school graduate 15, bachelor's graduate 19)
Or being the adult child of a now deceased alcoholic?

But this has been a problem for years...

I want to be somebody.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

America the Great?

Is America a great nation?

I hear many people wanting to talk about how America was once great and is now not great, or how America has fallen from greatness. And I'm left to wonder, how do you define greatness?

Possible answers:

Economy. Gross national product, exports, per capita income, upward mobility, strong middle class, low income inequality, employment, low inflation??

Military strength.  Largest army, most advanced weapons, plenty of nukes in the silos, winning the wars the nation chooses to fight?

Is it defined by following a moral code, or by religion?  Is it because America is good? Being a "Christian nation", whatever the hell that means? Leading the world in the new morality, treating everyone with equality? Holding on to the old morality? More progressive? More socialist? Less progressive? Less socialist? Low crime? High adherence to a religion "and I don't care what it is"

To those who claim that we were born a Christian Nation, although I understand your arguments in favor of that, I have to question how deep the Christian ethic sunk in, in a nation whose history is splattered with the blood drawn from the whip on the back of the black man, and the blood of the red man as we crossed the borders and broke every treaty we made with them. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fifteen years

’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

Fifteen years ago, the adventure of married life began.  And today, at the church I currently attend, I'll be renewing my vows with my wife.


November 2000, engaged
April 2001, wedding pictures
August 2007
May 2013
April 2016




Saturday, April 2, 2016

2nd Title. 1st Commandment

Several months ago, the Royals won the World Series. There was a parade. And the largest crowd Missouri had ever seen came to celebrate the Royals victory on Tuesday, November 3.

A friend of mine felt that the adoration and celebration of that 800,000 fan crowd constituted idolatry.

Was it idolatry?  Let's go to the dictionary.

Idolatry. 1) The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God.
(Not really the applicable definition, let's go to...)

2) Excessive attachment or veneration for anything, or that which borders on adoration [defined by this dictionary as "the act of paying honors to a dive being; the worship paid to God; the act of addressing as a God / Homage paid to one in high esteem; profound reverence."]
So...thank you, Noah Webster, it comes down to a question of whether we're worshipping our sports heroes/teams...
Worship...To adore, to pay divine honors to, to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.
In my opinion...I wouldn't call attendance at a victory parade for a league championship a violation of the 1st Commandment.
BUT... it goes to the same question about any hobby or interest...at what point is it too much. Parade? Season tickets? Road trips to follow the club? I leave that to the conscience of my reader.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Everything bagel

Leadership requires initiative, and that is my weak spot.

Holy week begins tomorrow. Next Sunday out church is having a sunrise service. I'm very excited.

Some people have a problem with Easter and how the church may have included some unholy things in celebrating resurrection.  All I want in my celebration of the resurrection is 1) Sunrise service. 2) "Up From The Grave He Arose!!" 3) Biscuits and gravy. 4) A deep appreciation of our blessed hope of resurrection and all that that means.

A year ago, our family moved into our current residence in north-central Leavenworth. The house is one of the many blessings I am aware of, and a reminder that Good loves me. I also mark it as the end of my personal "Great Tribulation"

Looks like I'm probably starting my new job week after next. Not sure about dress code except there's an orange apron involved.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Manipulation

"Well, I...I want to believe.  But..."
"But you don't wanna be bamboozled.  You don't wanna be led down the primrose path.  You don't wanna be coonned or duped, have the wool pulled over your eyes.  Hoodwinked.  You don't wanna be taken for a ride, railroaded."

There are some commercials that I can't stand.  Pretty much any car insurance commercial.  "Switch to us, because people who switched saved $$."  Yeah, but that doesn't tell me whether you offer insurance on me, 35yo Male, with XXX car and XXX recent driving record more cheaply than my current provider, XXX.  Or the ones that talk about accident forgiveness...so, does someone with a perfect driving record want to be treated the same as someone with a single accident, or not?  It's a hedge on the bet that car insurance is...

Or...the exercise machine that offers 5x calorie burn.  5x of what?  Well, it has a downhill walking slope option, which burns a few calories.  And it's got a extremely high walking slope, which burns 5x as many calories.  But that commercial drives me crazy.

And...do you need a lawyer for (bad drug / bad medical implant / car wreck / etc.)  ...

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Then there's the clickbait.  You won't believe what this person did?  Twenty ways to do that (#5 is awesome!)  This is the latest sign of the end times!

Tell me, or don't.  I'm one of the people who gets more tired of click-bait crap than others.  And, if you're sharing something on facebook from (any of a hundred websites), I'm not seeing it, because that site is already too political-sexy-stupid-clickbaity for it to clutter my newsfeed.  Which of course leaves me with a very slow-moving newsfeed with < 150 friends, but better that than me putting my fist through my phone.

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And another thing.  Powerball.  The most egregious case of a tax on the mathematically challenged.  About every ten years or so, you mess with the number of balls to make the jackpot more rare, making it higher and higher, until earlier this year, the jackpot (sum of payments over 29 years IF you're the only winner) crossed the billion-dollar mark.  Before tax.  I expect that I'll be writing my state rep & senator the next time they have to vote on renewing the lottery and tell them not to.  And I don't expect them to listen because the state has become hooked on another revenue stream.  The odds are terrible, and it's inappropriate for a state to be fleecing its citizens like that.

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But...what leg do I have to stand on?  My social media is a highlight reel as well.  I don't talk about certain dark parts of my life, except in a vague "that was then this is now" phrase that implies that I know better now.  God I hope so.

quid est veritas - What is truth?