Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I was forced by circumstances, once again, to be a mechanic yesterday. The battery died on the better half’s car. At first we thought it was the starter, but we cleverly deduced it was the battery with the help of a heapum good friend.

So, you think to yourself, “Changing a battery. How hard could it be?”

Well. I’m writing this right now as a way of releasing the stress in order to not harm myself physically or otherwise due to the trauma of the experience.

Just kidding. Mostly.

I don’t know what it is with me and cars. It’s like a curse really. It costs a fortune to have them fixed, and we don’t have a fortune, so sometimes I have to do it. And I know how to do a few things, theoretically, but just changing a battery these days requires the removal of bars and clips and electrical boxes with hidden screws and levers that all get in the way and make you want to pull your hair out.

I also have this talent for having EVERY wrench, screw driver or socket size known to mankind except, of course, the specific one I need to do the job. That particular tool will just not be there. Just. Not. So I have to drive up to the hardware store several times to buy (spend more hard earned money on) this tool or that one, which will somehow disappear again the next time I have to work on the car. I drop things constantly -- sockets, screws, my patience -- into the engine compartment, where they mystically disappear, as if into thin air, resulting in an additional hour spent fruitlessly searching for what was dropped. I cut myself and have a hard time with the small screws and such because of my Carpal Tunnel syndrome. And my back starts to hurt from all the bending over because, you know, I don’t have any of that fancy work on your car stuff that some people have.

I am not exaggerating any of this. I’m completely serious. It’s a predictable nightmare every time.

The only thing I can figure is:

1. God doesn’t want me working on my car.
2. God wants me working on my car so I can learn patience.
3. God just needs a laugh once in a while, so he breaks my car down to watch what I do.

Frankly, the only one that appeals to me is option three. I am willing to do it if it makes God laugh.

Romans 11:34-36
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Just finished another book that was supposed to be a simple explanation of quantum mechanics. All I can say is that if it’s simple, then I’m really in trouble. But, From what I gather...

Everything is energy, or something like that. Or, more precisely, “particles” (or fields) that have energy. And what exactly is a particle? (This is where all the honest scientists just shrug their shoulders and leave the room in search of a good cup of coffee to share with all the other scientists who don’t honestly even know what gravity is.)

This is what I take from my readings in science: Everything is held together by energy. Quantized, wave packets of electrons, neutrons, protons, nucleons, photons, phonons, blah blah blah, in relationships that manage to pull together and make something of themselves.

Opposites really do attract.

These things pull together to make up molecules, which pull together to make up stuff, including people, who try to pull it all together to make something of themselves.

Things are made up of smaller things that are made up of even smaller things, until you get so small that no one can imagine or think of those things being made up of smaller things. We just call them “particles” (or you could make up your own word, who's to stop you) and hope for the best. What’s a scientist to do?

Well, there you go. Life is energy.

So why don’t I have any?

Psalm 139:14
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks To Who?

We will spend a lot of time today thinking about what we are thankful for.

I want to encourage you to think about who you are thankful to.

Thankful “for” means thankful “to.”

And if you know who you are thankful to, why not tell them?

I’ll start.

Thank you for reading my Blog. I appreciate it. I’m thankful you take the time and show interest in the things that matter to me and interest me. It is an encouragement. Thank you, and thank God for you.

Happy Thanksgiving and...

Peace to you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whitman's Got Nothing On Me

What more do you need to meditate on the transience of life here on earth than to have to rake up leaves in your yard?

I am so sick of these leaves. Why can’t they just stay on the trees?

Sure, they start out nice. Dark green in the early summer. Bright and colorful in the fall. But they have such a short time to live. I imagine it’s hard for them to find a sense of meaning and purpose. Leaves are probably stoics. Or perhaps Existentialists?


I suppose the truth is that the leaves live for the sake of the tree, right? Mindlessly, I think. I mean, that’s what they’re there for. They gather the sun for the tree. “Don’t distract me. I’m trying to photosynthesize here.” It’s all about the tree. And when the tree is finished with the leaves, it just drops them like a hot potato. They fall to the ground, an ignominious end for something so selfless.

It hardly seems fair. You might feel sorry for them.

If there weren’t so stinking many.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Alligator Stew

The better half and myself went away for a day with some incredible, we don't deserve them, friends to a house in the woods, near a river, somewhere north of where we already are. It’s what you do in Michigan: You go “up north.” People do it all the time. Why? ‘Cause it’s there, I guess. In New York, I suppose they’d say they’re going “up state” or something like that.

To each his own.

The nice thing about laptops and the internet is that I can do at least some of my work pretty much anywhere. Which is what I did. But it was a little hard to concentrate with all the relaxing going on around me.

I happened to bring along with us some Alligator tail that I had purchased at a store near Lansing, Michigan, called Merindorf Meats. It’s just that kind of store. They have weird meats. It’s a great store.

So I had to decide what to do with this Alligator. I had never eaten alligator before. Never cooked it. Nothing. It was just a novelty. So I put it in a pot with some tomatoes and carrots and such, adding onions and potatoes and whatever struck my fancy. Cooked it low for hours until we were finally ready for dinner, really late, around eight at night.

We ladled the stew into bowls and, for the life of me, I couldn't find the alligator. It was like aliens had beamed the alligator chunks out of the pot while we weren't looking. Who knew aliens liked alligator? But finally we realized that it had simply broken down and it was spread all throughout the stew. The alligator wasn’t as tough as you’d think an alligator would be. And it was good. It did not die in vain.

But I wonder sometimes what leads me to such things. Why did I buy alligator in the first place? Why did I pull it out for this little trip? Why did I choose to make stew? Why did it end up tasting good? I don’t know why, really. I’m just an adventure seeker, I suppose.

Some people climb mountains. Some people travel the world. I make alligator stew.

Call me reckless, I don’t care.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Post Confessional Blues

So. I confessed here at Signify back in October (2010) to the strangely large number of books that I read all at the same time. The sad thing is, I found another stack of three or four more books that I failed to round up in my counting, so it’s even worse than I confessed at first.

Since then, I have honesty been trying to do better. My usual MO is to have about six or seven books, constantly jumping between them, with a backup bunch of nine or ten that I can switch in and out of the "current" reading if I feel the need, with a bunch more in strategic places like the car, for instance, which I read while waiting for the kids or whatever. And I have some larger books that are almost like textbooks, on history and art and such, that I often read in bits and pieces. And then I have the things I read for my work, which are many.

But I have been trying to do better. I have stacked up all the books in one spot. I selected three of them. One for next to the bed, which I think of as my “fun” read: a novel or biography, that kind of thing. Another one to go with me wherever I am around the house, which I think of as my “learning” read, which is the science or art or whatever book. And then one current “read for work” book, which is tough because I have a lot of things I need to keep up on with my work. Three books maximum. And I’ve really been trying to stick with this. I’m trying very consciously to NOT read the other books in the stack until I’ve finished one of the three. I’m trying to keep it at three, which seems reasonable.

I’m serious about this. But it’s hard to do.

I honestly find myself almost accidentally taking a book from the stack, you know, almost by reflex. They haunt me. So I have to stop myself. Sit it back down. Move on. And, on top of that, I just got a new book that I have to wait to read, which I don’t want to do. I just don’t. And if I choose to read it next, that means the things in the stack stay in the stack even longer.


I’m going to try to stick with this, but I know it’s not going to be easy. And I don’t even have a compelling moral reason to do it. I wish I did, as that helps me most of the time. I have no problem at all with the idea of doing some things simply because they are the right thing to do. There is a lot of peace in that. But in this case it's just about trying to discipline myself and be more productive and less scatter brained than I already am.

Oh, the humanity.

Romans 7:14-8:4
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck

I have been doing an “All Night Sleepover Party” with my kids every Friday night (with a few rare exceptions here and there) for 10 years straight now. I started this with my oldest when she was 2 years old and we have continued through the addition of the other two kids. We get carryout dinner and snacks and set up the basement with sleeping bags and all that. Sometimes we play some games. Currently we are playing Blokus a lot. Sometimes we play the wii. I’m not much good at that, but who cares. And then we watch movies until everyone passes out.

This is an important ritual for us. The kids look forward to it. And we try to keep this night a family night, so having friends over and all that kind of thing usually happens on Saturday night. I have to sleep on the couch, which is a little hard on the back, and it aggravates the carpal tunnel, but it’s worth it.

Last night I decided to do the old school movie routine of showing some short films first and then going with the movie, like they did in theaters years ago. So we made our popcorn and we watched a Disney short called “Pluto’s Christmas Tree.” It was excellent. And our main attraction was a Patrick Swayze Christmas movie called “Christmas In Wonderland,” maybe one of the last things he did before his death. It was a Canadian film, good for the family, funny in parts, but not exactly what you would call a great movie. Weak editing, slow pace, all that. But the kids liked it a lot and it goes into our collection of Christmas movies.

In between these two exciting film experiences, I inserted a classic Three Stooges short called “Men In Black.” Why it’s called “Men In Black” I have no idea. They play three freshly graduated doctors working at a hospital, wearing white smocks, running around with twice the energy and half the jokes of a Marx Brothers movie. And it works. At least, for me it works. As we’re watching the Stooges, here’s what I get....

6 year old: “Why are they doing that!”

9 year old: “Why is it all so random!”

12 year old: “Is this supposed to be funny?”

Sometimes it’s a lonely thing being the only man in the house.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Well, I’m going to have to have surgery. I have tried to avoid it, but there’s no way out of it now. I have carpal tunnel. I’ve had it for years. I put up with it because I didn’t want to have surgery. It has effected my ability to play drums. It makes guitar playing difficult. My hands fall asleep when I’m driving or holding up a book to read it. Blah blah blah.

I just didn’t want to get the surgery.

But it’s gotten to the point that my nerves, according to the doctor, are degenerating. The nerves in my hands are being destroyed. I’m losing the ability to feel. So I have to get this surgery done to stop that from happening and, in the end, I should be better off.

I just didn’t want to get the surgery.

After the doctor told me I had “degenerative nerve damage” due to severe carpal tunnel, I looked up the word “degenerate.” I kind of knew what it meant, but you look anyway, ya know? It was a boring, but accurate, typical Webster definition: “having a decline in function.”

That was the “a” definition. The “b” definition was much more interesting. It said: “having sunk to a lower, usually more vicious state.”

Which immediately brought up a memory from elementary school, fifth or sixth grade. I was in line for lunch and this kid cut in front of me. So I said what any kid would say to such an obvious social impropriety.  “Hey. No cuts!”

Without blinking, without the slightest pause or moral inclination to interrupt his fluid, degenerate response, without emotion or feeling, this kid punched me in the jaw, knocking me to the ground. In the lunch room! I could hardly believe it had happened. I was too shocked to cry. Not to mention that there were kids everywhere, which is one of the greatest tear inhibitors you can find. But I looked around, scanning the lunchroom for adults. Lunch ladies everywhere and not ONE of them had seen what the degenerate had done. Of course, there was no way I could tell anyone. That would only make it worse.

He ignored me as I got up off the floor and got in line behind him, wondering what he might do next. But he didn’t do anything. I didn’t matter to him. I was just in his way, and now that I was out of the way, I meant nothing to him.

Consider: When the world treats you this way, you need to understand that the world is degenerate. It has descended into a lower, vicious state. The world has lost feeling, like nerves lose their feeling, like a dead body can’t feel, which makes it a dangerous place to be sometimes. And we’re all a part of it. As the song says, “We are the world.”

This is why Christ came: To regenerate the degenerate.

Matthew 9:12-13
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Believe It Or Not

This past summer we took our kids to the Smoky Mountains, and one of the things we did was go through the Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was totally cool, including my favorite: a three dimensional holographic projection of Mr. Ripley himself, talking to you from inside a small room. Very amazing.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a certain kinship with the oddities of the Ripley Museum. Maybe you’re completely normal and everything, with no idea what I mean by this, but I have my own list of Ripley’s type things in my own personal life. Do you? Unusual things that are true, believe it or not? Here are some of mine:


I have been run over by a bus. Seriously. I wrote about this under the post: “The Boy & the Bus.” (Go read it if you dare. It’s archived under March 2010.) Thing is, about 10 years later, I was just barely kept from being run over by a bus a second time by a friend who pulled me out of the way at the last second. I was not paying attention. You’d think I would have been a little more careful after my previous experiences.


When I was a kid I had a fairly rare problem with “photosensitivity.” I would have an allergic reaction (severe, painful itching) after getting sunburned. The first time I had a reaction was after a day at the beach. I had a very mild sunburn that any normal person wouldn’t have paid any attention to. But a few days later, I was sitting in church and I thought someone was poking me in the back with needles while I wasn’t looking. Thing was, no one was sitting behind me. It freaked me out, and it didn’t stop. It began to spread, and the intensity of the pain kept increasing until I ended up running into the church basement where I was found a little later writhing incoherently on the floor with pain and madness. (I would have rather died than interrupt the church service, ya know.) I think my parents thought I had lost my mind, or maybe I was possessed, which would have been very embarrassing, considering we were at church. But, being raised Baptist instead of Pentecostal, they didn’t try to exorcise me. Instead, they rushed me to the hospital where I was diagnosed and covered with cloths that were coated with the miracles of modern medicine. They informed me that I am allergic to the sun, which put me off a life of being a beach bum. (And just kidding about the Pentecostal thing. Sort of.)


One of my best friends is named Dave. My name is Dave. When we first met, long after High school, we discovered that Dave and I both graduated from the same High School about 5 or 6 years apart. We also discovered that we both have wives named “Sue,” and both of our wives were occupational therapists. On top of these startling coincidences, we both had dogs named “Buddy,” who are since then both dead, and we were both involved over the years in church work. (I know, it’s like that whole Lincoln/Kennedy thing.) And it’s also true that my buddy Dave is thin, healthy, energetic and smart. Which is, unfortunately, where the similarities end.

All of these things are 100% true, I’m pretty sure. Almost and completely entirely.

Believe it or not.

Ecclesiastes 1:9
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010