Monday, October 27

"Half Way...I Think..."

You know what I like best about Florida? It's not anywhere close to Ohio! Judi and I are knee deep in two grandchildren, huddled as close as we can to a roaring fire. The weather report calls for "possible snow flurries" tonight here in Cincinnati. Please...never ever let me entertain the thought of traveling north again to visit relatives in the middle of winter! I left Tennessee 26 years ago because my feet went numb with cold the first of September and never thawed out until late May. I have returned to that long ago forgotten sensation. I am not enamored.

Being a glutton for punishment, my wife has decided that we are still too far south and has scheduled a two day side trip tomorrow to Columbus. If they are calling for snow flurries here in Cincinnati, they are probably expecting an all out blizzard in Columbus. I am breathless with anticipation.

Still on the agenda...the football game Thursday night between the University of South Florida and the University of Cincinnati. USF lost to the University of Louisville this past Saturday...a game that we were a sad witnesses to. Perhaps Thursday's game will have a more favorable outcome. If I can manage to say warm, I will count that a moral victory. We are loving the opportunity to spend some long overdue quality time with our two granddaughters. Next time I am voting for the far warmer climes of St. Petersburg...where we will be once again...if we make it through all the snow drifts...come the first week in November, where 50 degrees is considered a cold snap. I can live with that. Later...

P.S. My blogging buddy Coffeypot made some less than truthful comments regarding the motivation of my wishing to spend some quality time with him while I was in Atlanta. Leave it to Coffeypot to lean over the line of fabrication to bolster his already over-inflated ego. That's okay...I'll set the record straight soon enough!

Wednesday, October 15

"Checking One's Moral Compass..."

This post is not about "religion." Let's get that straight right out of the box. "Religion" means many different things to each and every person who would profess to be religious to any lesser or greater degree. For me personally I am at base and without hesitation a "Christian." Where I chose to attend in order to worship, to express and to strengthen my religion is at a local Baptist church. Being "a Baptist" to me speaks only of the denomination that best reflects my personal beliefs about and the faith in what I know to be the existence of a supreme being that I recognize as God. I was baptised in the Presbyterian church and married (twice) in the Methodist church. Both of these Christian denominations have much to recommend each, but neither is prefect, as is equally true of the Baptist brand of practiced Christianity. I hold to the personal admonition that "being a Baptist" does not define me any more than does the type of automobile I chose to drive. Rather it is I who through intellectual contemplations define my denomination. I am comfortable with and confident in my choice of "religion" and currently chosen denomination, just as I am comfortable in who I am in the absence of religion as a divining rod of my overall character.

That having been established, I offer below a link to a YouTube film that was produced and is distrubted by the Catholic Church. I applaud these fellow travelers along life's mutual pathways for their unwavering adherence to the protection and scantity of human life from conception to the grave, believing that above all the other myriad of problems and issues that face our country at this difficult and confusing period in our nation's history that it is the moral fabric of our society that must not be allowed to be compromised on the alter of secular expediency. It is so easy to enter the voting booth and cast one's personal ballot based on the status of one's pocketbook or as a result of one's sense of personal frustration with the current tenor of our country's direction. It is quite another to cast a vary eye towards each and every candidate and ask yourself "Is this person the type of human being that truly believes that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must encompass at base the protection of God's gift of the unborn child and the family as a necessary and vital unit of moral cohesiveness if this country is to long survive and overcome its pusuit of personal wealth and sense of entitlement at any cost." Truly we are our brother's keepers or else we will find that we have become strangers to one another and this great house that from its conception has been the shinning light of hope to all mankind will surely divide beyond the point of redemption.

I ask each person who steps with conviction into a voting booth on November 4th to look to your own conscience and measure who you wish to be, who you know yourself to be, and measure that evaluation against the individuals for which you shall cast your vote. Your reflection may well shape the future of our country for good or ill. Know first and foremost in which direction your moral compass points.

(If above link fails to open, type in Catholic Vote 2008)

Tuesday, October 14

"Nervous Stomachs Abound..."

When, twenty-six years ago at the age of 34 I first arrived in St. Petersburg,the median age for the city's populace was somewhere in the range of the high 50's, the city then being in the early stages of slowly shaking off its long held reputation as being primarily a preferred retirement destination for transplanted northerners. So many retirees had opted to escape the frigid climes in the post World War II years the city garnered the euphemistic,but not entirely misdiagnosed reputation as being "God's Waiting Room," given evident credence by the dozens of green benches that lined the full length of Central Avenue and occupied daily by droves of senior citizens enjoying the warm Florida sunshine. So enamored was St. Petersburg with its reputation as being the "Sunshine City" that the afternoon newspaper, The Evening Independent boasted, with its "Sunshine Offer," that the paper would be "free" to everyone - "subscribers and strangers alike" - each and every day that the sun "did not shine on St. Petersburg." In the paper's 76 year existence, that offer was made good only 296 times.

The sunshine is still amply prevalent in St. Petersburg, but the green benches, like The Evening Independent, have long since disappeared into the nostalgic history of the city. St. Petersburg has transformed itself into a vibrant, enterprising community, embracing a modern metropolitan flair without sacrificing it's quaint, by-the-bay, old Florida feel. And just 34 short blocks due south from our Magnolia Heights residence looms the imposing fabric dome of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays professional baseball team...a team that heretofore couldn't figure out how to get out of its own way, and now finds itself in the midst of competing for the American League championship. To say that the residence of this city are in absolute awe and dismay over this truly unexpected turn of fortunes is an understatement that is only more profoundly echoed by baseball aficionados throughout the country! Having beaten the venerable Boston Red Sox last evening 9 to 1 in hallowed Fenway Park, The Rays need only two more wins to advance to the World Series!

I realize, like every astute baseball fan, that two wins when four is needed does not make a series. However what looms just on the horizon is almost too impossible to even allow oneself to imagine. Just to possibly advance to the World Series still invokes disbelief in yours truly. The economic impact alone would be staggering! And what if we actually won the World Series? The jubilant effects upon this town of just under 250,000 would be indescribable. "St. Petersburg, Flordia...Home Of The World Champion Rays!" I don't think the city could fabricate a baseball cap large enough to encompass the pride we would rightfully generate. Talk about your dancing in the streets!! St. Petersburg...The Sunshine City. The Florida sunshine has never felt warmer or more enjoyable than it does today. Go Rays!!

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Post Script: Judi and I are leaving Thursday for an extended trip north, returning some time the first week of November. Since I am now physically strong enough to travel, and since my prospects for re-employment are dim at best in the foreseeable future, we have decided now is the best time to mooch off friends and relatives from here to Columbus, Ohio. My dear mother in North Caroina is already making extensive plans to lay in a resupply of her favorite staples: bread, eggs and cantaloupe. Yum! Judi will be attending a training seminar in Atlanta this weekend and I otherwise would have been left to my own devices to entertain myself all day long in her absence. But no more. I contacted my blogging buddy "Coffeypot," and I am to spend a day in his company as he provides me with a guided tour to numerous Civil War historical sites. I think it is so cool that this hobby of blogging has allowed me to make new friends and now an opportunity to transform a verbal friendship into a flesh and blood acquaintance. Judi will be taking her laptop and hopefully I can find the time and wireless locations to post a few blog entries while traveling the highways and byways of search yet another tankful of the cheapest gas. Wish us luck...

Wednesday, October 8

"Not So Much"

The weather report for Tuesday evening in Nashville: "Hot Air Blankets City." Perhaps is was merely coincidental that the oppressive zephyrs occurred simultaneously with the occurrence of the second presidential candidate's debates, but, based on what transpired, it was the principle contributing factor. The location was different, as was the format, but the content couldn't have been more predictable...boring...and disheartening.

Radio commentator Glenn Beck the following morning summed up my feelings after he wadded through the alleged debate, "The country is going to hell, we just need to determine the size of the hand basket." Apparently neither McCain nor Obama have fully come to grips with this dire prediction, as both continue to be locked into a war of valueless accusations against one another instead of a determined discussion of ideologies that embrace real means and methods of confronting the myriad of problems that currently plague our nation. One of these candidates is going to walk off in November with the White House as first prize while the rest of America is stuck with the leftovers.

I fully realize that there are dozens if not hundred's of blogs on the Internet that devote their daily offerings to the current political landscape. Although I am quite concerned about the immediate and long range future of our country and thus must pay attention to the two candidates who currently vie for the awesome responsibility of shaping that future, I also understand the grinding election fatigue that has permeated every nook and cranny of our physic for over two years. If you are like me, you just want to throw your hands up and shout, "Enough!! Quit your petty partisan bickering, one of you get a backbone and demonstrate some real measurable leadership!" Constantly flinging open the closet door of one's opponent to rattle the skeletal bones within has long ago worn threadbare with the American people. We are sick of hearing how each candidate has failed repeatedly to answer the call to leadership. Such rehashing of alleged past failures only serves to emphasize what we suspect is actually true: neither candidate, at bottom, is really the best, most qualified individual for the job of being President. Their unrelenting bickering continually reduces both to the unenviable status of picking between the lesser of the two "bad choices."

What the people of America most longs for is a individual with uncompromising integrity, a person who has a burning and unrelenting passion to rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people so that their enterprise shall be rewarded - not penalized, a person who has a clearly articulated vision on how to reunite this nation into embracing once again the firm belief that the strength and longevity of this nation lies not with its indecisive and over-regulating government, but with its people. and a person who truly understands that he and the government he administers are to be the servants to the people who have come to be increasingly frustrated with the discovery that they have very little voice and, therefore, power to influence the day-to-day decisions that effect every nuance of their daily lives. We are at a cross roads in America and sadly the two individuals who shall elect which path to travel seem to have no sense of direction.

There is one more debate yet remaining, if one adopts the notion that mudslinging meets the definition of a true debate. I anticipate no meaningful and worthwhile deviation form what has occurred in the previous two. Therefore, I am stocking up on no-doze medication to keep me awake throughout that anticipated ordeal and a dull butter knife to slash my wrists in case I don't fall asleep. It is a sad commentary on the state of the quality of leadership that the best this country can put forth as presidential stock are two individuals that have more character flaws to disqualify them than appealing qualities to recommend either. Indeed...just how large will the hand basket be that carries us to the depths of Hades?

Tuesday, October 7

"How About That?"

My appointment with the heart specialist, who had been assigned the responsibility of performing my second cauterization procedure, was yesterday. Prior to the doctor coming into the exam room for my consultation, his assistance wired me up to receive the latest and greatest EKG printout. Out spit the first strip of paper, then another and finally a third. A puzzled look came over the lady's face and she said, "This doesn't look right." For an individual who has just recently endured a triple by-pass open heart surgery, those four words didn't exactly instill a sense of brimming confidence in yours truly. "Your previous chart indicated that you had a heart flutter." Then she left the room. "Great! It's gone from bad to worse and I just bought a bunch of green bananas!"

After what seemed an interminable wait, the doctor came jauntily into the room. "How are we feeling today?" (I think every doctor is required to memorize this particular question on the very first day they enter medical school.) "Well, I replied, just fine up to about five minutes ago. You tell me." Said the good doctor, "I've got good news for you. It appears that your heart on its own has corrected the irregular heartbeat and I see no need to schedule you for the catheter ablation procedure." (I immediately got back on my cell phone and cancelled that afternoon's final arrangements appointment with the funeral home.)

The doctor proceeded for the next ten minutes explaining why this turn of events most likely occurred. I heard very little of it. "So, what's next?," I jumped in and inquired. We put you on a heart monitor for 24 hours and if that presents like I think it will, you're good to go. No more blood thinning medications, regular activities and on-going periodic check ups with your cardiologist. Sound good?" Said I, "Sounds great!!"

Come this Monday I get strapped to some type of mobile heart monitoring device that I must wear until the next day. The doctor wanted me to begin wearing it tomorrow, but I told him that come Thursday I was going to play my first round of golf since my surgery and nothing, and I meant nothing, was going to prevent me from doing so. He turns out to be a golfer himself and said he certainly would not dare stand in my way. I like him immensely.

So...there's an understated bit of "good news." Perhaps it may appear to be naive of most folks to think that this medical condition just happened to go away all by itself...that the human body has miraculous healing capabilities when left to its own devices. I agree up to a point. But I am convinced that God's hand was in this most desirous outcome and He does remarkable things when given time to work on a problem. I'm dedicating my round of golf to Him. Seems only fair...

Monday, October 6

"Watch Where You Drop The Soap, O.J."

If justice can not be attributed for having come full circle, perhaps one can assign karma the credit. Either way I take no small amount of satisfaction in learning of the news this past weekend that Mr. O.J. Simpson was found unanimously guilty by a jury of his peers on 13 criminal charges, all stemming from a foiled armed robbery attempt that transpired in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Simpson's sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 4th, at which time the presiding judge could impose significant jail time that would in effect incarcerate Mr. Simpson behind bars for the rest of his life. Seems about right to me.

And yet, I hold some measure of pity for O.J. Here is a gifted man in so many ways that literally could claim the world to be his personal oyster, his fame and fortune assured by his gridiron exploits and enhanced by his Hall of Fame good looks and charm. Rather than parlaying those attributes into a winning hand for the rest of his life, he elected instead to allow his unfettered ego to propagate a belief that he could do no wrong, that if it was "okay" in his mind's eye to pursue an objective, it was "okay" by everyone else's standards as well. The jury's verdict of "guilty on all charges" laid low that erroneous assumption. This latest chapter in Mr. Simpson's life shall mark the beginning of the end for a life that had in the beginning demonstrated so much promise but shall be concluded at some future time as little more than a sad footnote in history of a minor personality who squandered his life away.

Another jury in Los Angeles 13 years ago delivered a "not guilty"verdict on Mr. Simpson's behalf in the murder trail of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and acquaintance, Ron Goldman. At the conclusion of the sensationalized spectacle of a trial O.J. publicly declared that he would spend the rest of his life in continuous pursuit of his wife's murderer. Most of that diligent yet fruitless search has occurred on numerous golf courses all across the country. Henceforth Mr. Simpson's avowed pledge to continue the search shall be restricted to the confines of a jail cell. Perhaps there he will stand a greater opportunity of encountering his wife's killer. I would suggest that he begin first by looking in the stainless steel mirror that will adorn his next permanent residence. "Surprise!!"