Saturday, July 28, 2007

Oh The Times We Live In!

I always knew that Cicero was right when he said, “O’Tempora, O’Mores!”

There are two items in this weeks cyber-birdcage liner that were deemed newsworthy by those that say so.

A panel reviewing astronaut health issues in the wake of the Lisa Nowak arrest has found that on at least two occasions astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk.

The panel, also reported "heavy use of alcohol" by astronauts before launch, within the standard 12-hour "bottle to throttle" rule applied to NASA flight crew members.

NFL star Michael Vick was indicted today on a federal conspiracy charge for his alleged role in a dog fighting venture that operated from a Virginia property owned by the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. A copy of the indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court in Richmond, can be found below. The 27-year-old Vick, whose nickname is listed as "Ookie" in the indictment, allegedly established the Bad Newz Kennels in early-2001 in Smithfield, Virginia.

These news items raise a couple of questions.

First of all, will we need to have Astronaut sobriety check points? What laws are on the books to prevent Shuttle flying while intoxicated? How are Breathalyzer tests administered in a flight suit?

Will modern science come up with a test that can
determine if a football player has been dogfighting?

Oh these times! Oh the morals!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My House is a Tornado Magnet

About this time last year a large maple tree in my front yard was uprooted by a very strong wind that lifted it out of the ground and placed it horizontal in my front yard. The roots were sticking straight up. I was amazing that the weather has so much power.

So today I receive an email from my sweet pretty wife. She had got up from instant messaging her friend Pixie to answer the telephone.

She placed the headset on and was suddenly zapped with electricity and a loud screeeech! She lost her composure. She told her friend that she had forgotten how to spell and immediately lay down in bed.

A few minutes later Denny, our friendly postman, bangs on our front door. She goes downstairs. Denny is panicing. "Are you alright?" Linny says that she is feeling better. Denny said that he was worried since the tree fell down.

Linny was not aware, but once again another tree has been blown over by the storm and the windy weather. May God be blessed, my car was not in the driveway. The tree and our pole lamp sure were damaged.

Things happen and life goes on.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Loving Deb Smith

What seems to be left out of That 70's Show is the Jesus Movement.

I recall those days very well, since I was a genuine, sandal wearin’, Bible-readin’ Jesus Freak. If asked I could point out quite a few place in my fair city that back in the 70's were custom made for those of us that were caught up in the Jesus Movement.

One of those places was The House of The Carpenter. This was an old apartment building on Ravine Street in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati. It was only a short walk from there to the University of Cincinnati.

Tom Smith and his wonderful wife Deb spent their younger days as caretakers of this building that housed Christian students. It was what we referred to at the time as a Community, which was a step up from a Commune, since the denizens of the house were shaved, saved, bathed, baptized and drug free.

At the time Deb was also a mommy to a precocious little girl named Charity. Tom was a campus minister and spent time counseling university students.

As the Jesus Movement progressed on the University of Cincy campus, so did the ministry progress and blossomed into a church which grew and grew. Deb and Tom remained the anchors and role models for a lot of us as we started raising our own families.

I learned last week the Deb Smith is extremely ill with cancer. It has invaded her bones, lymphatic system, lungs and retina. I know this is incredibly painful for her.

In Deb’s life she has been a mom to her three children, a pastor’s wife (that alone qualifies her as a saint), a teacher, an artist, a farmer’s wife and a grandmother.

I ask that you join me and my wife in praying for Deb that God would heal and comfort her. May He strengthen and renew her. May He give her His Peace and give it to her family as well. And may He bless her as much as she has blessed all that know her.

Please visit the blog that has been set up for her.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Kafka Dream - July 6th, 2007

I was at my job and the folks that I work with were ending up a business meeting. I was glad it was over since it was lunch time and so I headed downstairs to the cafeteria. The cafeteria did not look at all familiar. It became a darker place and much like the cafeteria at the old Jewish Hospital where I worked at in 1971. There I ordered a large bowl of French onion soup and spotted a crock of cooked fresh mushrooms. I thought they would make a good addition to the onion soup, so I added a scoop of mushrooms and a handfull of shredded provolone cheese. I then went back to the table and sat with my team members where we discussed work and family. Afterward we went back to our desks to procede with work.

My desk area was unfamiliar. In fact the room was unfamiliar. Instead of my usual cube, there were rows of wooden chairs facing a chalkboard. Well actually it was a white board. When all of us were seated we were asked to turn our chairs around and face the bank of pastel colored metal entry doors. In front of the doors were six chairs. The first person we noted that was seated in the chair was Jerry Springer. With shouts of "Jerry, Jerry..." he arose and introduced the others. Toni Morrison, Tom Wolfe, Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Oprah Winfrey and fund manager Jonathon Shellon. Jerry gave a brief speech and then introduced the others. Each gave a speech except for Keith Emerson. You know, I hardly recognized Tom Wolfe since he was not wearing his traditional white linen suit, but had donned a dark suit for the occasion. He still had the familiar crop of white hair, but appeared larger and more muscular in person.

When Keith Emerson took his turn, he started his talk by telling us that he had invested his income wisely and then he launched into some falsetto heavy metal screeching. This of course got a rise out of the younger employees and some of the young males imitated his singing. I supposed this is not much different than the male members of any species of animal trying to mimic the alpha male. The singer strutted down the aisle over to near where I was seated.

Coincidently this was next to a Groeondorfer Digital Piano. Keith began banging out his song on the piano and continued the screeching. The piano console had a myriad of slider switches and each switch had a Shure SM57 microphone jutting out next to it. This allowed the singer to play the keyboard while bent over and adjust the various sliders and continue singing without having to strain his neck to sing into just one stationary microphone. At the end of the performance our manager told us to check our email and we saw that the rest of the day was paid "air time." This meant we were free to go home. I do not know where the expression "air time" came from. We don't use it at work.
But it was in the dream.

We headed through the metal doors, stopping to tell Jerry, Tom, Toni, Jonathon, Oprah and Keith how much their career-book-show-music-advice had changed our lives.

Most of us then went to the Frisch's restaurant next door and ordered some drinks and food. I recalled that I forgot to shut down my computer and had to walk back across the street to work.

I had to take an elevator to the ballroom level and then walked through the ballroom to get to the staircase that would lead me upstairs to my desk next to where the six had been speaking. I was greeted by amazing sights.

The ballroom was cleared and from either side of the center staircase came two white carriages that were pulled by four white horses. Trailing the carriages were 20 foot lengths of sheer golden netting that were trimmed around their border in a heavier layer of gold. Men dressed as waiters from expensive restaurants walked passed with trays of what appeared to be small gold trees that had been crafted by artisans and decorated with tiny leaves of 14 karat gold. I overheard someone saying hello to Liz Taylor. Robert Redford walked passed me and I heard one of the waiters telling his staff not to forget the trays of Rolex watches. The rich get gifts and the poor get the bill.

I saw that all of the speakers had left, except for Tom Wolfe who was speaking to some young boys that I could tell where members of very wealthy families. I made it to my desk and shut my computer off. Then I took the elevator downstairs and walked back through the ballroom. I saw all the local news people. They too must have been invited, since there were no cameras. Rob and Kit, Cammy and John, Tim and Derrick and some attractive news anchors from other television stations that I do no usually watch. In the corner of the ballroom I passed a group of around fifteen or twenty familiar looking men that were all were seated in wheel chairs. I headed back to Frisch's.

I told my friends the reason we had been sent home was because the place was now crawling with celebreties and the wealthy. I ordered another bowl of that delicious onion soup with cheese and mushrooms. The coworkers were all amazed. We would have liked to all go have a look, but did not want to take the risk since we obviously had not been invited. During the conversation I realized that I had left my car keys on my desk and would have to go back again. So again I excused myself and headed back to work.

At this point I discovered the entire building as well as the perimeter grounds had filled up with the famous, the wealthy and all of their children.

The women were all tall and slender and wore strapless evening dresses revealing their shoulders. Some were young, some were old. Their husbands and male friends were all decked out in tuxedos. Most of the children were dressed in fine attire. However the sons of some of the doctors wore surgical scrub clothing in shades of pale blue and some wore shades of scarlet along with custom fitting dress slacks. The panel of six that had addressed us were now fielding questions from a new group of children of wealth. By listening to the youngsters queries I could tell that they were receiving quality educations. I retrieved my keys, but stood quietly aside and listened to the conversation.

The lecture ended and I exited the building with the crowd and walked through the lobby of the building. To the north the perimeter of the circular building encompassed Northern Kentuck and it gently bent around so that it southern most side was along the Ohio River in Cincinnati. (I realize these directions are backwards, but it was that way in my dream) The Cincinnat side was open and an outdoor auditorium had recently been installed on the side that faced the Zoo. The construction company had just enstalled a new sound system and Professor Emmar Bose had personally oversaw the operation. There was a video of Professor Bose explaining the merits of the system and making the system test. I had heard discussions about the new sound system and was anxious to listen to it, however I was not impressed. Bose' Theory of Loudspeakers is based on the Riley/Farley Theorum which states, "you put the sound in here and the music goes round and round, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh and it comes out here." I felt the system lacked bottom. But what do I know? I walked past the massive speakers and video screen and then found a seat close to the stage, but far enough away to stay incognito.

I knew that I was not supposed to be here. The class element was evident and this was for the upperclass and wealthy that had been invited guests, but I was curious. I sat to the right of a dashing and muscular gray-haired man that seemed to know that I have some trouble hearing. He would lean over and speak directly into my left ear. The man was Jack Palance. He would pose questions to me and though I don't recall what they were I seemed to provide him with suitable answers. He nodded in agreement at each reply. Near him was the son of a wealthy surgeon. I could tell because the boy wore his Dad's scrubs over his fat belly. A wealthy guant lady that appeared to be in her mid 60's stood in the aisle and said, "Oh Jack, Jack, it's Esther darling." Mr. Palance turned and gave a polite wave and a smile. I realized it was the CEO's wife and hoped that she did not see me. Too late, the CEO's daughter had arrived right behind her mother and she moved to the seat on the opposite side of Mr. Palance.

Palance continued to crack me up with jokes about the sound system. He heard the flaws. And he kept firing the questions at me. I tried not to think about the replies and said whatever came into my head. Mrs. Johnson, the CEO's daughter was in constant conversation with him inquiring about his movie career. I was in a precarious position. I tried to maintain a low profile.

I do not recall the entertainment. At one point I beleive it was a group of the debutants in pastel gowns that sang in close harmony. I was not really paying attention. There were some other performers and the message came on over the sound system at the end of the concert inviting all of the adults to cocktails that were being served in the ballroom.

I suppose at this point I began to feel self conscious. It donned on me that everyone but me was dressed in tuxedos and gowns and here I was wearing a golf shirt and shorts. I was also thinking of how I could sneak through the crowd unnoticed by my employers since I was not dressed like the crowd.
This was obviously a party for the rich and famous. I needed to find an oportune moment to leave without blowing my cover. The presentation concluded and I remained seated while all of the others headed to the ballroom.

Then the adolescents and younger children were shuttled into the theater and told to behave and enjoy the show. I found myself next to the chubby son of the surgeon. He had a nice crop of slick-back dark hair and a great tan. "'probably just got back from a great vacation.", I muttered to myself.

Another boy shouted over to him, "Hey Bobby, check out my book."

At this point the Shouter held up a large book with a lovely blue bound cover that had the title printed in gold leaf on the front. The pages were edged in gold leaf. How nice it must be to be rich I thought. The boy held the book on it's edge and from the top edge of the guilded pages a small device started to spring forth. The plastic device was blue and had a hexagonal shape. On the distal end was a small gold grill. It jutted out of the book on a length blue plastic pipe. As the device got closer I could tell it was a small speaker spouting out some sort of damned rap music. I hate rap music. Why do they call it music? It's all drumming, noise and bad poetry. The rich kid stuck the device right in my face. Nice! He waved it under my nose and stuck it up to my right ear. Bastard!

"What do you think Bobby? Pretty cool!" said this rich young jerk as he turned the volume control up as loud as it would go in an effort to get my goat.

I figured that it was about time to make my exit. My first thought was to go back to the elevators and take them to the ballroom, then to the lobby and then the path to the parking lot. However that would take me through the big party and I did not want to be spotted. So I turned left and headed to downtown Cincinnati.

It was a short walk from the amphitheater over to Fourth and Vine. I would wait there for the bus to take me up to Reading Road. and then over to the parking area in Northern Kentucky. By the way, if you are following these directions without dreaming you would be about twenty-five miles north of where you needed to be. But nevermind since this is a Kafka dream that I am having. So here I am now standing at a bus stop with a small crowd of strangers that were all heading home from their jobs. It was around five or five thirty by now. I look over my left shoulder and I see my sister Julianne and my brother Monty seated on a bench on the other side of Fouth Street. They are waiting for the bus that takes them back to Fort Thomas. I wave, but think better of it. I don't want to explain what I've been through. At this point I am way too tired.

I sat down on what I thought was a bench, however I am now seated on a bus that is going back to the bus terminal. I can get off here and board the bus that goes up Reading Road. For those of you that do not live in the Cincinnati area, Reading (as in Reading Road) is pronounced "redding", Findlay (as in Findlay Market) is pronounced "fin-dlee" and "Excuse me I did not hear what you just said" is pronounced "Please."

I board the bus and we head out of the terminal and stop at every corner until I get to a familiar sight. I stand at the front door of the bus. The driver slows, stops and pulls the lever to open the door. I head down the two steps and walk around the corner to the street that takes me to the other side of my place of employment. It is just a short walk and I see my car in the garage. I am so happy to be back and on my way home. I had completed my escape without being detected.

Upon arriving I find I am not my home, but at the home where I grew up. And there were groups of people standing in the driveway. I opened the garage and there were more folks inside the garage. "What's up with this?", I wonder.

I ask someone what is everyone doing here. He tells me these people did not have anywhere to go, so they stopped here to rest. I see three old fellas in the back of the garage busy repairing their ancient pickup truck.

I went in the other room at my home and now I find myself back at work. Only it was at home. I'm not even confused. A coworker asked if I could take a look at her computer. They were installing a new computer system and it appeared that something was not working properly. I examined hers and thought it wise to boot up my computer. When I do I immediately receive a phone call from an investor inquiring about advice for investing his retirement savings. I tried to explain that I was not licensed to provide investment advice, however I would be glad to provide him with some information about the mutual funds he was interested in purchasing. I asked him to be patient as my computer needed to pull up a program with fund descriptions.

I placed him on hold and went to the next room to see if my coworker had pulled up this program. It took both of us well over half an hour and still we were still not getting the program online. I asked the caller if I could please return a call the next day since we were "having a new installation" on our system. Which is code for "it's not working now and I have to shut down and restart."

I then took a walk up the street and ran into some Mexican guys that acted like the 3 Stooges, except one did not speak. Maybe they acted more like the Marx brothers. They were walking to my house. When I returned to the garage the Mexican guys were already there. There were some other old men and a couple of bag ladies. I had decided to call the police when one of the men became angry and started to act violent. My good friend Pixie was sitting in a tree in the back yard and came down from her tree to the porch outside to see if she could help. She didn't really want the police to be involved. She was able to calm the angry man. He turned out to be disabled and mentally challenged.

Finally nightfall was upon us and everyone left. I was alone in the garage. The old guys had pulled the truck to the street and had still not got it running. I do not know where everyone else went. I was finally alone in the house.

About this time I woke up with the most awful back ache.