Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thots on the Hurting

It is Sunday evening.
Church is over.
I am home dealing with the after-church letdown.
For years, I have often felt a bit sad or pensive after church on Sunday evenings.
I am not sure why.
It could be because I have been in heavenly places, being challenged by the word and Spirit of God.
Mindful of fresh insights into the workings of God.
Encouraged to control myself more diligently so as to conform more fully to the will of God in the coming days.
And knowing that I must face the devil and his society tomorrow.
Maybe it is some of all of this.
No matter, here is that feeling again.

Tonight, I am aware that there are people hurting.
Right now.
All around me.
While we were in church doing our usual churchy thing there are thousands sitting home hurting.
Needing God but too ignorant or angry or afraid to seek him.
Dealing with problems, mostly because of the selfish actions of other people.
Or themselves.
Or with circumstances that seem overwhelming.
With children who are rebelling for reasons that are unclear.

There are women – wives, mothers – who are hurting because of selfish, unfaithful men.
Or they have their own demons or passions that they cannot contain.
And they are dealing with the repercussions.
And the guilt.

There is the military wife who has just lost her husband in battle.
She was dealing with the separation and looking forward to his coming home.
But not this way.
In a box.
She is angry and frustrated.
While she has seen some of her friends and neighbors suffer marriage problems and divorce, she and her husband were working through their problems.
She felt like they were doing well, and was looking forward to working on their relationship more when he got back.
Not now.
And she asks, why?
Why him?
Why now?
If that bullet had only been six inches farther to the left or right....
Why was it not so?
How could a loving God.....?

There are others, dealing with their problems by hiding in chemicals.
Some use alcohol.
Others use pills.
Still others use needles.
I cannot even relate to these people even though I have known some.
I do not know where to begin to help these people.

And here I sit, warm, cozy, comfortable, without any real problems.
And God has said, who will go?
And on one level I say, here am I.
But we both know I am scared and doubtful and hesitant.
So, while I am so aware of the needs around me tonight, I am also useless as an instrument for God to use.
All I can do I pray in intercession for these nameless people.
None of whom I really know (at least I don't think I know any of them).

And so I have prayed.
Prayed for the invisible hurting who are all around me.
They may be in the house next door, or across the street, or just two doors down.
Who knows?
I prayed that somehow God would minister to them.
That somehow he would arrest their thoughts.
That he would somehow comfort them.
That he would cause them to think of him or Jesus or some church.
Or to think of someone they know that could tell them about Jesus.
How he can heal the broken hearted.
How he can make a dreary life new.
How he can save them from sin, and sinning.

I know this is true but sometimes I doubt it myself.
There seems to be so few that have any interest in things spiritual these days.
I wonder if anyone even cares about heaven or hell anymore.
I do.
Some at church do.
But not even everyone at church seems to care sometimes.
Or at least, care as much as I think they ought to.
Only about half of the people who come on Sunday morning come Sunday night.
Why?
And I wonder what they see when they look at me.
Do I seem to care about spiritual things as much as they think I should?
And what does God think of me?
Is all he sees is a scared little old man?

In God we trust.
.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

RANDOM THOTS

I have had a few thoughts lately that I expected to become worthy of a blog post.
But, alas, that has not happened.
So, in the interest of keeping this blog alive, I will post these random thoughts just for the sake of public information.
Knowing that once I publish them, the world will take notice and will follow the trends that I create.

CARS

It may come as a surprise to some but I pay attention to the automobile business.
I follow who owns what companies, who builds what cars, what cars are selling the most (or not), etc.
I also form opinions about automobile styling.
So here are my latest pontifications on automobiles.....

Best looking cars - almost any built by Hyundai or Kia (really)
The 2011 Sonota is the best looking sedan I have seen in years.
The 2011 Kia Optima is a close second (basically the same car underneath).
I like the new Kia Sportage and its cousin the Hyundai Tucson.
I like the soon-to-come 2012 Ford Focus hatchback.
Can't wait to see one in person.
Regarding styling, Honda HAD some of the best looking cars around.
No more.
They have lost their way.
Toyota - the same.
Though, in Toyota's defense, they never have had any nice-looking cars after the early Celecas.
Instead, Toyota has one of the ugliest cars on the planet - the Scion xB (B as in BOX).
This is followed by everything made by Mazda in the last three years or so.
What were they thinking?

THE DEATH PENALTY

Easy segway, right?
It occurred to me the other day that there is no logic is sentencing a criminal to life in prison.
Basically, his/her punishment for committing his/her crime is a cozy heated and air conditioned room, three free meals each day, free health care, for the rest of his/her life.
That punishment costs the rest of us about $30,000 a year.
40 years @ $30,000 = $1,200,000.
That is a million dollars to babysit this bum.
Multiply that times several thousand prisoners and you have a few billion dollars tossed in the toilet.

Alternate suggestion - KILL THEM.
In fact, there should be no prisoners in the state or federal penal hotels with a sentence longer than 30 years.
All the rest of these long-term lifers need to be gently and quietly put out of our misery.

The logic is simple.
Look at our society as a large version of a small, local community; like a small rural town.
The citizens at some point decided that they needed to hire one of themselves to watch out for all the rest of them on a full-time basis.
If one or two of the local folks got out of line (meaning, violating the rules/customs of behavior accepted by the majority of the group), the local, full-time appointee would have the authority to arrest the violators and restrict their interactions with the community.
For most violations, a few days in the community interaction restriction facility (jail) would be enough to inspire the violators to modify their behavior to the satisfaction of the community at large.

But every once in a while, somebody does something really nasty/destructive/harmful such that a slap on the wrist is not considered sufficient punishment by the community.
In this case the violator deserves more severe/lengthy restrictions from future interactions with said community.
Thus, the community has the right to protect itself from all future interactions with such an individual by killing him/her.
As our nation has matured, it has drifted away from some of this basic logic of punishment for criminals.
We need to get some of it back.

We need to kill a few thousand criminals in this country who are of no value to themselves, to our society, and are living off of our dime.
It is time to cut the budget.

Un-Christian, you say?
You reap what you sow, Bubba.

And there is another class of criminal all too common in this country - repeat offenders.
I have a simple solution for these anti-social individuals, too.
Kill them.
My solution is simple - Three Strikes And You're Dead.

The third conviction for ANYTHING gets you a free ticket to your very own hole in the dirt.
If a person proves that they cannot conform to the values and customs of their neighbors then they need to be removed from society - permanently.

Rapists need to be eliminated.
Child molesters need to be eliminated.
Petty thieves need to be eliminated.
This will greatly reduce our crime rate and jail population.
And it is cheap.

In God We Trust.
.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Fun Run

It appears that I just cannot stop running.
As I have stated many times - I love to run.
LOVE it.
If I could stand it, physically, I would run every day.
Note the "if" above.

I am fully aware that I am violating a rule of running promoted by nearly all running coaches.
Run every two or three days to maintain your cardiovascular fitness.
Running less often can cause injuries as well as sub-par performance.
I don't run often enough.
And I don't warm up (contrary to what the running magazines say...)
And I have never been injured from/while running.
But I know that I ignore the professional's advice at my risk, so I am careful.
Especially at the beginning of a run.

My running course of choice lately is mile three and half of mile four of the six mile Cotton Row course, which contains two of the steepest hills of the course.
Most of this territory is along the first, or bottom mile of Bankhead parkway.
It proved to be adequate again this morning.

I had been toying with running this route again for a couple of weeks.
Last week I wimped out for some reason now forgotten.
I usually leave my options open on Saturday morning when I wake up, just to keep from feeling like I have failed in some way, if I do not choose to run.

Today was different.
I woke up ready.
As I was getting ready, I noticed my right ankle was hurting as I put weight on it.
Not good.
This was the same foot that shut down my walk last Tuesday near the beginning of mile three.
So even though this pain was a one or two on a ten scale, I was wary.

Thus, mentally prepared for a physical catastrophe, I motored off to my course of choice in the early dawn darkness.
The temperature was a near-perfect 65 degrees and the sky was mostly clear with a few thin stratus clouds and no wind.

I parked the car, got out, and walked to Pratt Avenue (about 75 feet) and started trotting.
No foot/ankle pain. (grins...)
But this is no guarantee of a trouble-free party.
Remember the ankle problem during Tuesday morning's walk did not present itself until mile three.
With all of this parked safely in my brain, up the increasing incline of Pratt I went.

It was dark, and I took my time.
There are several street lights along this road (though there is about a half mile of near darkness), but they do not always reveal drop-offs, bumps or unevenness on the chosen path.
So, I ran carefully, picking up my feet a tad more to prevent stumbles.

I managed to keep my breathing in my comfort range all the way up Bankhead, which pleased me.
Even so, I was glad to make the right turn onto Tollgate which is essentially flat.
It was here that I encountered five male runners coming at me.
They seemed to be in their mid-late twenties and were talking and having a good time.
We exchanged monosyllabic greetings and kept going our respective directions.
After a quarter mile or so I came to Mountainwood - the dreaded hill.
At this point I stopped running and walked down this very steep road - all 600 feet of it.
As you regular readers may recall, the bottom half of this street is as steep as the roof of a house (about 15 degrees) and is paved with grooved concrete instead asphalt.
Anyway, I walked to the bottom, turned around and started back up the hill.
Still no foot/ankle problems.

I walked up the first half of The Hill, then began running again, as has been my habit for several years on this patch of American real estate, where the pavement changes from concrete to asphalt, and the pitch changes from 15 degrees to about 10.
Back up on Toll Gate I was looking forward to the flat/downhill jog.

It was during the journey down Bankhead that my mind drifted (a sure sign of a great run) and I began to ponder something, which now I cannot recall.
The last running-related thing I remember thinking about was the long, straight downhill sidewalk ahead of me, and the next running-related thing I remember was coming to the end of the long downhill straight and going around the long curve and wondering how I got here so fast.

Near the bottom of Bankhead Parkway is a painted marker indicating the end of mile four of the Cotton Row course.
The sky was lighter now and I was looking for it just for fun.
But as I glanced over to my left to locate the marker, I saw a lady runner.
She was trotting silently along the uphill lane of the road, her brown pony tail wagging behind her head.
Even though I was running downhill, she had caught up to me and was passing me.
As I divided my attention between the sidewalk in front of me and her, I noticed she had excellent running form.
No sissy-girl half-strides for this mama, her strides were eating up the real estate in big gulps.
I was impressed.
Any pain in my right foot/ankle was far from my mind.


At the bottom of the hill, Bankhead changes pitch and becomes Pratt Avenue.
The gentle decline (now) of Pratt is one of my favorite patches of pavement on the planet to run on.
Often I can pad along this quarter-mile route in full abandon almost as if I am floating.
This was not to be this morning.

As I moved from the sidewalk to the road, as is my habit here, I was about 20 feet behind Miss brown ponytail.
After a few seconds she pealed off to the right and turned onto a side street.
I don't know if that was her plan or if I made her nervous, but she left the party.
So I had Pratt to myself.
Not.

Then came the cars and trucks.
I don't know what was going on but a lot of people had to be up on Monte Sano early this morning.
So I had to spend about half of my time running in the gravel next to Pratt instead of running ON Pratt.
*$%^&*

Anyway, I turned off of Pratt and stopped reluctantly near my car and walked a few hundred feet to cool down.
I would have loved to go farther.
But that was not the plan and would have required some logistical/time problems.
This would have to be good enough.
I had a great run.
And no foot/ankle pain.

In God we trust.
.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple Update

My new (to me) computer arrived in good condition.
I plugged in 6 cables, pressed the power button and "foof" the computer came slowly alive.
After a few set-up questions I was/am fully functional.

There are a few new things to get used to, but no major hiccups (yet).
More later....

END OF THE LINUX EXPERIMENT

As I type this, on my trusty desktop loaded with SuseLinux, my new computer is riding around Huntsville in a big, brown truck.
It will be delivered today sometime after 5.
The new machine will mark the end of my Linux experiment.
It lasted three years and seven months.
But I am tired of bumping into software obstacles every few weeks.

I have mixed feelings about this move and the reasons for it.
I am happy to move to an established product that is almost universally recognized as well designed and of high quality and performance.
I am confident that it will perform all the tasks that I need (plus a few that I do not need but will enjoy).
That being said, the negative side of this move is its cost, variously estimated to be from 25% to 50% higher than other products of equal capability, features, etc.
Also, some techies have criticized this manufacturer for making products that are not as advanced or up to date, hardware-wise, as some others.
I am aware of both criticisms and have weighed them out carefully before arriving at my decision.
I have never been one to jump to the newest, latest, most technologically advanced toys.
Especially since I have seen the price vs age chart on technology product.
I struggled with the cost issue.
But in the end, I bit the monetary bullet because of the cost/hassle of the alternative.

That alternative is a security nightmare.
Loaded with lines of poorly written code and full of patches and software band-aids.
That operating system is made by a company that I distrust, dislike, and have no respect for.
I have used their products before, and could again, if forced to.
At this point I still have a choice.
So have exercised my choice in the direction that I have not taken before.

I liked several things about Linux.
I liked that it was free.
Who can argue with that?
But quite honestly, I would not have minded paying for it.
In fact, I did pay for at least two editions.

I liked its simplicity.
It did not have a lot of extra goo gaas in it.
But you could add a lot of nice little things to it, if you chose to.
It had everything that I needed. (with some exceptions, noted below)

It was rock solid and stable.
I do not recall ever having the system go nuts, give me the blue screen of death, or behave in other disagreeable manners.
That is not to say that all application software behaved similarly.
It is, in fact, the problems with application software that is at the core of my displeasure with Linux.
Almost every single application has, at one time or another, frozen, died, failed to respond, or otherwise misbehaved.
This even includes Firefox, my browser of choice.
Some applications are, at this present time, still non-functional in some small or large way.
I have worked through numerous problems that most of you would never even think about.

Once, upon loading an new update, the computer could not see my mouse.
I had to chase around on the internet message boards for a week to find the solution to the problem.
Once done it worked perfectly.
On another occasion my mouse wheel did not work.
The solution required that same internet chase.

None of the media applications come with the necessary plug-ins or codecs to process audio or video files, like mp3 or YouTube.
These have to be found and loaded separately.
No big deal, you say?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Sometimes the newly-loaded files have to be manually moved to a particular file and/or folder for the application to see it and use it.
This is not unusual in computer software, but in more sophisticated systems this is done for you and you never know anything about it.
In Linux, you better know about it.

Anyway, a little over a week ago, I bumped into another need for a codec in order to view a DVD video, something snapped in me.
This is a simple, common task in home computers in the twenty-first century.
But not necessarily so in Linux.

I tried to find the needed codec and was unsuccessful in the first try.
And I began to seriously consider leaving Linux for something more sophisticated and less stressful.
So I began to look and study and compare, and price.
And I made a decision.
I looked for a used version of the newest model of my computer of choice (this time), and after four tries, bought it on eBay.

My "new" Apple Mini has just arrived and I am going to finish this and plug it in and see what happens.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Historical Day

I was just a few feet into mile three of my morning walk when my left ankle fell apart.
It went from feeling fine to crunching, grinding, ouching pain in a matter of seconds.
I tried to twist my foot this way and that to ease the pain but nothing worked.
I limped along for a couple of hundred feet hoping that things would fix themselves but this did not happen.
So I turned off my course and took a shortcut back to the homestead, cutting about a half mile off the planned route.
This is only the third or fourth time I have stopped an exercise session before the planned end.
Thus, the historic day.

I limped home, did my usual clean up, and by the time I got out of the shower, my ankle seemed fine.
Go figure.
I do not understand the frailties of the human body sometimes.(assuming I have a human body...)
I have had no problems with my left ankle all day.

My mood lately can be summed up in the following -

Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities, says the Preacher.
Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities.
All is vanity, emptiness, falsity, vainglory, frustration, striving after the wind, and pointless effort.

In God we trust.
.