Saturday, July 21, 2018

July 21, 2018 Weekly Summary

In many ways, this week and sped by and dragged along. But I find that more the norm as I get older. Here are my thoughts on this past week in brief form.

Last Sunday Worship
I was very thankful that after two weeks of battling a nasty virus, I was not only able to attend worship but was able to play and actually sing with the worship team! It was a prayer answered!

Again, I've been recuperating from the virus little by little each day. Slow but steady progress. Arthritis in my right shoulder is better as long as I do the exercises. But it has been giving me a little more grief in my left knee. The heat of the summer really saps my strength and motivation to do most things. I long for the winter weather badly. But all in all, a pretty good week.

I do not believe:
 - Trump believes Putin over our intelligence agencies.
- That Putin is blackmailing Trump.
- That is is bad to open relations with Russia. All of the past presidents believed the same thing. It is on record.
- That Trump is not putting America first.

I do believe:
- That both sides of the political spectrum jumped way to too many conclusions much to fast in their analysis and rhetoric.
- Trumps biggest error, and it was a big one, was in his communicating.
- There is such a thing as Trump Derangement Syndrome, and many of his haters are deeply infected.

This is a tough one. Trump is playing hardball with the goal of a huge win for the US. As a successful businessman, I do trust his process and instincts. Unfortunately, it's going to cost us a little in the short run. But I think it will be worth it in the long run. 

Anthem kneeling
Initially, I was in the "make them stand" camp. But then an old friend said to me something like, "If you want mandatory standing for the national anthem or flag, move to North Korea." I think that's a very good point. So here I am now:
- The NFL is a private business. It should be completely up to them what they make mandatory or not. Whatever they decide, let the response of the fans be what they may be. 
- The president and all other politicians should stay out of it. The issue should not be politicized. 

Missouri boat accident
This just hurts on all fronts. I have been following this but not too closely. This, above all other events, should not be politized. And since there are so many in our country that do not believe in God, I will be praying extra hard for the families of those lost. 

I'm sure there are other issues that I'm forgetting about. But this is good enough.

And here are some Poli-Toons I've been saving up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Throwing a "Thanks" Out There

People who really know me know how much I treasure the years I spent in Lakeland, Florida. I was fortunate to attend Florida Southern College between 1983 and 1986, graduating a semester early. And then I was further blessed to be able to work with Robert MacDonald on the Festival of Fine Arts for several years. During that time I made many friendships that I still treasure closely today. And whereas I didn't date a lot of women, the ones I did go out with were truly exceptional.

But there was one young woman who made a big impression on me. But I never got to know her as well as I would have liked. Her name was Darcy Cox. I don't even remember how we met. We didn't get to share much time together, but what struck me was her energy and positive attitude. Add a wonderful smile and laugh to that, and you have someone who just made me feel good to be around her. That kind of "feel good" that made me forget my stress and just escape the world. And she made me laugh, which not many people can do. And then she vanished. I found out later that she transferred out rather suddenly. Luckily, I did get to see her one more time to say goodbye. Sometimes I remember her and hope she's well, that the last 30 years have been good to her. I have so many other friends from that period that have thrived in life, I pray she has too.

Thank you for our time together, Darcy! I hope you are well. Prayers always your way.

Don't overlook people you casually come into contact with. You never know which one of these people will enrich your life. These days I particularly treasure my friendship at WH2140, both staff and other regular diners. There are people in my life that I value that I've never met face-to-face. Among all the crap that is social media, these friends are the positive side of it.

Even though I continue to frequently have nightmares of poisonous people in my past, God has given me many incredible people in my life. I pray that I never take them for granted.

Who do you treasure?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Making an Impact

We all touch other people’s lives. Both for the good and the bad. We all know this whether we consciously think about it or not. After all, people make us angry in traffic or when the person in the drive-thru gets our order wrong, but we don’t catch it until its too late. We definitely notice it in all of these negative situations as well as many others. Too infrequently, but it happens, on the positive side too. Sometimes we refer to it as “paying it forward.” Once in a blue moon someone, again in a drive-thru, will pay the bill of the person behind them in life (this is one of my favorite things too do, as long as it’s not a lot of people). There are many examples of these kinds of displays of kindness But it tends to happen so infrequently, that it catches us by surprise. It is the exception to the norm of rude people. 

Somewhere out there, if they are still alive, there is someone who was a huge influence on my musical life. They don’t know they did. They may have had a similar effluence on other people lives, or it may have been just me. And when he/she did it, they were just going about their regular daily jobs and didn’t do anything intentionally. I wish I could thank this person.

In my teen years, there was a record store on West Tennessee Street called Record Bar. Of course, long gone, it was different than the regular record stores in the shopping malls. Being located close to Florida State University, it catered to tastes wider than the regular Top 40 appetite, whether alternative rock or classical music. I loved this store. 

I would spend hours just wandering from bend to bend looking at albums, wondering what was behind the beautiful covers. I was rarely in a hurry. They had a couple of listening stations where one could listen to a selection of open albums via headphones. It was great that you could sample music. And usually, they were always playing albums on the store sounds system (you could sometime make requests for that too. I wasn’t unusual, that would just hang out and listen to complete albums they would play that way. I specifically remember discovering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers that way. The album was “Damn the Torpedoes,” and I was hooked. 

But the one particular time that made the biggest impression was in 1982 or 1983, just before I left for Florida Southern College. It was another of those days of casually looking through the bends of albums, not particularly looking for anything, maybe waiting for inspiration. I remember it being the middle of the day and there wasn’t much customer traffic. Some album I don’t remember was playing on the store system. When one particular album finished playing, they put another on. Employees choice. Upon a new album starting, the first song caught my attention. It was different than what played on the radio. Guitars, bass, and drums, but not in the common rock style. Not country, reggae, or punk. The music seems to wash about the room. A wave of music and chords melding with a strong beat of the drums. The vocal line was a little haunting and very melodic. There was a stark difference musically between the verses and the refrain of the song. There was a bridge that was veered even further away, but still kept that same wash of music, different and yet the same. The store was otherwise quiet so I was able to listen as closely as possible. I soaked in the sound as I continued to look through the albums, leisurely. 

When the song had faded out I was very satisfied but assumed, as is usually the case, that it was probably the only good song on an otherwise unremarkable album. Then, before the first song has completely failed out, the second one began, overlapping. A single strong electric guitar playing a chord on the downbeats for 4 bars then joined by the lead vocal. Musical it was strikingly different from the previous song. Yet the vocal was very melodic also (Later on I would easily make comparisons to the melodicism of John Lennon and Paul McCartney). The upbeat temp was very engaging and I was very quickly won over by this song also. At this point, I’d like to point out that the lyrics of these two songs were not of the normal “love song” variety. But I couldn’t quite make of what they were about.

So, being more intrigued, I walked up to the counter to see what I was listening to. “English Settlement” by XTC. Nope, never heard of them before. I walked back to the “X” section of the “Rock” bends and found the album. A plain green cover with some sort of horse shape on it that looked like it was a cave drawing from prehistoric days. I turned the album over to find absolutely nothing. So I settled in for the long haul and only moved to ask if they would play the second side too when the time came.

By the end, I was completely blown away. The copy that I had picked up, was purchased and I was very eager to really dive into it when I got home. This was to be one of the most important record purchases of my life. This reinforced my fascination with British post-punk music that began a few years earlier when Skip Parvin introduced me to Elvis Costello. About the same time, WFSU-FM had a program on weekdays from 1pm to 4pm called “Freefall,” focusing on alternative and “College Radio” artists such as R.E.M., the Psychedelic Furs, and Nick Lowe. All of this contrasting to pop radio playing the likes or Dexys Midnight Runners, ABBA, Jefferson Starship, Air Supply, Van Halen, AC/DC, and the like. Sure, they were also playing Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, and some other good stuff. But it was usually the “same old, same old.” 

Upon moving to Lakeland for college, I took the time to find stored in the Tampa and St. Pete areas that catered to the same clientele. I’ll save you the other artists that I got into during those next few years, they are in an earlier post here somewhere. One can think of the 80s as a dismal time for rock music. And in many aspects it was. But the good stuff was there, one just had to dig for it. I believe the same can be said of any decade. Show me any decade and I’ll show you some terrible music that made people millions of dollars. 

Anyway, I wish I could meet this Record Bar employee, who may have just grabbed this album at random to play. Maybe it was his favorite at the time, who knows. But by this person doing their job and doing it well not only made them a sale, but it influenced my life in a very important way. It reinforced my lifelong journey of digging through all of the pop fluff and crap to find the really good stuff. And, I sincerely hope that at some time in my life, I have done something that made someone else life better. Wither in the short term or the long run.

And now a few Poli-Toons

Sunday, July 15, 2018


PRAISE GOD I was able to actually sing this morning. It's what I've been praying for for days. I'm still coughing and blowing my nose since, but I was able to do my thing this morning. Thank you, God!

I found this Poli-Toon this morning. I quite like it.

Reunion Decision
I've decided not to go to my 40th high school reunion next month. My "logic" is that I'd need about $500 for the trip, largely because I'd have to rent a car to go. Since all I still have is what's in savings, with nothing new coming in, I feel I cannot afford to spare that much money. And when I can afford it, I'll make a separate trip there since all the people I really want to see still live there.

I've probably made this a more difficult decision than it needs to be. But I often straddle the line between stepping out on faith or being a bad steward of the money.  So this is where I fall this time. And now my mind is freed up on this, at least.

But that's it until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday Update

Virus Update: Feeling a little better each day. The cough continues to try to get the stuff out of my lungs. Sinus still producing a lot of gunk. Praise God I'm finally able to sleep at night. That helps tremendously. I've got some ideas for blog posts this next week so keep an eye out.

Poli-Toons: I've been saving this up, so here you go.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Better, still...

Slowly feeling better. But the cough is a killer. I have a long way back to normal. So, hopefully, I can form a decent blog post by the end of the week. In the meantime, here are a few Poli-Toons.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Restless Nights

Sinus and chest congestion keeping from sleeping for the second night in a row. *sigh*  So I may as well do this as I listen to a podcast of Ben Shapiro and Dr. Jordan Peterson waxing wise. I continue to choose to embrace the proven and documented approach to sociality in our current times. And, of course, with the guidance of my Holy God. How do you keep the craziness of our time from making you crazy? First, focus on the Word of God. And second, read and listen to others that speak His truth. 

But enough of that. So here are some poli-toons (political cartoons).