Monday, December 17, 2007

PC 12 Days of C*****mas

(HT Mickey's Funnies)


THE POLITICALLY CORRECT TWELVE DAYS OF C*****MAS

On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically-imposed midwinter festival, my potential acquaintance gave to me,

TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming.

ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18 member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note...)

TEN melanin-deprived, testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping,

NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression,

EIGHT economically-disadvantaged female persons stealing milk products from enslaved Bovine Americans,

SEVEN endangered swans swimming on federally-protected wetlands,

SIX enslaved fowl-Americans producing stolen, nonhuman animal products,

FIVE golden symbols of culturally-sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration, (NOTE: after a member of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further animal American enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.)

FOUR hours of recorded whale songs,

THREE deconstructionist poets,

TWO Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled, processed tree carcasses,

and a Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.


Eric

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tinted Windows

I grew up in a conservative Baptist church. We loved to say "in the world but not of it". Which basically meant...we were growing up in the ghetto of evangelical Christianity. We cloistered ourselves with Christian music, a list of movies not to see, the evils of alcohol among other things. While we were being fed a good dose of the Bible what we weren't being fed was a good dose of how to engage with the world we were "in" but not "of".

That left some of us with a rather narrow view of the world and a bit of a shock when we entered it and found not everyone believed as we did...after all...we were right and they were going to hell.

20-some-odd years later we still have Christian's getting up in arms about boycotting movies, theme parks and whatnot. "We must protect our children!" is the battle cry. Hey, as a parent of two teenagers, I'm all for protecting my children. But I'm also for making sure my children can function in the world they are going into someday. Which means they need to know how to think for themselves.

I'd never heard of "The Golden Compass" or "His Dark Materials" or of Pullman. My son read the book in school last year and, because of his upbringing, wasn't immediately swayed to the Dark Side! He enjoyed it for what it was; a fantasy book but scoffed at the idea that kids could kill god. He even wants to see the movie. (Might not be a good idea as the last book turned into movie he saw as "eragon" and he was very disappointed with the movie.)

Rich Copely writes about "The Golden Compass" makes this observation...
But the whole episode, which has included some schools pulling the books from their shelves and proposed boycotts of the movie, has me humming a tune by contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Derek Webb. He’s a provocative artist in Christian circles, and one of his songs, A New Law, addresses people who don’t want to think for themselves. He sings: “Don’t teach me about/ Truth and beauty/ Just label my music.”

Or ban books, or run movies out of town.

Here’s another idea: Why don’t we raise critical thinkers?

Now, I’m not saying Pullman or anyone else controversial comes out any better this way. In fact, they could come out worse. Growing up an evangelical Christian kid in the 1980s, I had friends whose parents shielded them from the world and ones who didn’t. In general, it seemed most of the kids who were cloistered through high school were shocked when they entered adulthood and weren’t really sure how to engage with a culture that didn’t fit their narrow perceptions.

Entering my fifth decade, one of my firmest beliefs is the strongest faith is one that’s been challenged.


(HT to BHT)

Critical thinkers. I had to train myself to become more of a critical thinker in my late 20-early 30's. It has helped me from having knee-jerk, evangellyfish reactions to some of the lame-brained things my fellow brothers in the Lord do. I am raising my kids to be strong in what they believe. But I'm also hoping they will not just take my word for it. That they'll incorporate other thinking into their own beliefs. They have a good, strong foundation in the Lord that is serving them well into their early teens. But like all of us, their beliefs will be challenged and their view of life, the universe and everything will go through a major remodeling during this time of their life. It's the way of things. My prayer is that when they come out on the other end they will see that what Mom and Dad said wasn't all that far off. What the preacher-man said at church was pretty much right on. What they read in the Bible was pertinent and relevant to those who wrote it and to them in their day and age.

That they will be strong enough to stand for what they believe and gracious enough in their disagreements!

Eric

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...Christmas!


Every year, my wife wants me to get all of the Christmas stuff out of the attic the day after Thanksgiving. Every year...I put it off until Sunday! After church we put on some Mannheims Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra with a sprinkling of Vince Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Christmas" and set up the real fake tree. I string up the lights and the put up the red beads and set our 17-year-old angel on the top. Then the kids and the wife decorate the tree with ornaments and 24 of the 50-some odd balls we started out with 19 years ago!

So our house looked a little messy for a while...

Messy House

More Messy House

Even after 5 years, the dogs are still confused about what's going on. Bandit, the black Doxie, wanders in and among everything. Samson, the red Doxie, gives up early and lays on his pillow!

Confused Dogs

Even the wife is bit confused!

Confused Wife


But in the end the tree looks good...even Samson thinks so!

End Results


Eric

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Am I Reading Too Much Into This?

Historically, FAR 135 Operation Specifications (that book that tells an operator what they can and cannot do), has had errors in it in the management category. When I was Chief Pilot, my name never showed up on the Ops Specs. As a matter of fact, by the time the Ops Specs caught up with me, there had been 2 Chief Pilots after me! Not uncommon.

I got our revision today for our Ops Specs and noticed some things in the management structure that struck me odd. We've changed Chief Pilots and the new CP's name was in all the right places save for one. No problem. Happens.

Then I looked at the individual base Lead Pilots of which I am one.

Someone else's name was in the spot where mine should have been. Hmmm...

The name that is there is the guy who transferred from the Lake Havasu base where he was the Lead Pilot, to our base where I'm the Lead Pilot. In his place in Lake Havasu is the guy who used to be Lead Pilot and is now the new Lead Pilot and the Ops Specs shows that. The company has opened another base and basically pointed to 2 guys and said, "You're going here." The other two pilots had volunteered to go including one from my base. (My problem pilot.)

I just get this gut feeling that I'm being replaced as Lead Pilot and I had to find out by reading the Ops Specs. No phone call. No email. No heads up. This concerns me because the Ops Specs were finalized on October 30th. Which means they were submitted long before then. (The wheels of government grind exceeding slow.) On several occasions I've asked the higher-ups to explain to me just what being a Lead Pilot entailed. What authority do I have? Where do I fall in the hierarchy of the base? (There's a medical side to the base and an aircraft side to the base. You can break the aircraft side into airplane and helicopter so there are 3 chains of command at our base!) To whom do I take my lead from?

I never really got a clear answer. I was led to believe the Lead Pilot position was the one who did all the paperwork, made the schedule and was the go-between between the home base in Phoenix and Modesto and Lafayette and Redding. That's what I asked and that's what I was told in clarification. But comments and emails expecting me to do other things from different chains of command and no clear answers to questions made the job somewhat frustrating.

I really have no problem giving up the Lead Pilot position and just becoming a line pilot. The only downside is the extra $30/day I get for being Lead Pilot. It adds up to over $4000/year. The thing is, 10 days of work-over gives me the same kind of money and I get more than 10 days of work-over in a year so it's kind of a moot point.

I don't know...gut is rumbling. Not feeling good about this.

I sent an email to the Director of Operations asking about the situation. Awaiting and answer will make this a long weekend...

Eric

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Zen of Sarcasm

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.



2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.



3. Its always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.



4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.



5. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.



6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.



7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.



8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.



9. If at first you don' t succeed, skydiving is probably not for you.



10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.



11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably a wise investment.



12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.



13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the wind shield.



14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.



15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.



16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.



17. Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.



18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.



19. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.



20. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Eric

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Old Youth Pastor...

...hits the big time!

Tom Mercer and High Desert Church Rocks!

When I was in Jr. High, our little Conservative Baptist church, Foothill Baptist on 15th Street in Upland, got a new Youth Pastor. Tom Mercer had longish hair, a mustache, drove a white Camaro with orange stripes and played Larry Norman tunes on his guitar in Sunday School. He took the High School group and grew it into the largest in the area. He developed "Power Unlimited" (PU to us!), a youth choir of about 100 teens that also did drama, and then took them on the road. We "toured" every summer and spring.

Tom taught the Bible. Pretty in depth on Wednesday nights. He was cool, hip, a bit radical but not too far over the edge. Was always on the cutting edge with ideas...or at least very near the edge. Looking back, I'm surprised at some of the stuff that he got approval for. We had a very straight-laced congregation and Deacon board. The Pastor at the time was open to Tom's way of doing things and as far as I know, really didn't call Tom on the carpet too much although I wasn't privy to staff meetings.

(I became a avid Wittenburg Door reader because of Tom and even stole a subscription form from a copy of the magazine he had laying around the office.)

Tom eventually left Foothill and accepted the Senior Pastorate at High Desert Baptist church in Victorville. Several of his old youth leaders followed him and the church has grown immensely. HDC is what church is in the 21st. Century. Much different than what I grew up with. Much different. I would like to visit one day...

Eric

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chocolate Jesus Lyrics

Courtesy of Lyrics Mania


Tom Waits - Chocolate Jesus lyrics
Artist: Tom Waits
Album: Mule Variations
Year: 1999
Title: Chocolate Jesus

Don't go to church on Sunday
Don't get on my knees to pray
Don't memorize the books of the Bible
I got my own special way
But I know Jesus loves me
Maybe just a little bit more

I fall on my knees every Sunday
At Zerelda Lee's candy store

Well it's got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied

Well I don't want no Abba Zabba
Don't want no Almond Joy
There ain't nothing better
Suitable for this boy
Well it's the only thing
That can pick me up
Better than a cup of gold
See only a chocolate Jesus
Can satisfy my soul

(Solo)
When the weather gets rough
And it's whiskey in the shade
It's best to wrap your savior
Up in cellophane
He flows like the big muddy
But that's ok
Pour him over ice cream
For a nice parfait

Well it's got to be a chocolate Jesus
Good enough for me
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Good enough for me

Well it's got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nano & NaNoWriMo

First off...I took the Apple plunge.

Just hit the "BUY" button over at Apple.com for 4 iPod Nano's. My mp3 player died, the kids' mp3 players have issues and the wife wants one too. Soooo....I dropped the dime and picked up 4 Nano's. (The kids get theirs for Xmas...I get mine NOW! Why? Cause I'm the Dad...that's why!)

I also signed up for NaNoWriMo...National Novel Writers Month. The idea is to crank out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Silence the internal editor and just write, write, write. I've a few stories running around in my head. A couple of them I've started, re-started, changed around and just plain left sitting there. I think I've finally decided the one I'm going to go with. It's been percolating the longest and the idea is fleshing out nicely. I'm going to adapt and expand an old short story I wrote a few years back. We'll see how it goes...

Today was the last day for my problem employee. Not really my employee. But he has been my headache for the last year. He refused to get along. Bad mouthed everyone to the mother ship in PHX. Did whatever he wanted knowing he was fully protected as he was good buddies with the Chief Pilot. Things any of the other 3 of us had done would have resulted in an arse chewing with a strong letter to follow!

All week I've been saying, "6 more days", "5 more days", "4 more days", etc. I've had a piss-poor attitude towards him and was, shall we say, less than grown-up about expressing it. I apologized to the crew at the base for my attitude. They didn't see anything wrong with what I'd been saying and doing but I wasn't feeling good about it. Just wasn't the way I should have been acting. Now he's gone and I can finally let it go. He's someone else's problem now!

I need a part-time job for my off week. Something that's M-Th, morning to early afternoon. Any ideas???

Eric

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chocolate Jesus



(HT to BHT)

I find it funny (ironic) that it sometimes takes a person outside of the mainstream of Christianity to see what most people within the mainstream are blind too.

There's a lot of talk these days about the Emergent Church (as a denomination) and the emerging church (as a movement). It seems every generation wants to make church palatable to their peers. For me, in the 80's, it was letting guitars and drums in the church. Since that wasn't going to happen at my Baptist church, we snuck off to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa where Chuck Smith understood that the medium wasn't the message. And Chuck's message was Christ and the scriptures. Or we hit Harvest in Riverside where the worship team included a Brit who could burn the blues along with a sax player that wailed. Again, Greg's message was Christ and the scriptures. (This is not saying other churches were not doing this, I'm using both of those as examples.)

In the late 80's into the early 90's, we were "seeker sensitive". We were mega-churching like there was no tomorrow. We had to have a "purpose driven church" and the Saddleback model was the in thing. The church provided a "christian" place to hang. Coffee shop, workout gym, daycare, Friday night get-togethers, Saturday services, Sunday services, rock concerts, care groups, small groups, you name it, you could find it at your local mega-church. And the message was the medium was the message. The style of church was what was important more than the content of the teaching. And the teaching couldn't be overly disturbing because after-all, I've brought my unsaved friend here so the wonderful and witty Pastor can save his soul.

Now we are emerging. We are having an "experience" with Jesus within our "community". We are in the middle of a "conversation" where we can lecture God, question God, and derive our own comfortable answers because we have "freedom in Christ". Again, it becomes about imagery and content; candles and multi-media, gatherings and contemplation. Again, we bring our unsaved friends to this "cool" church and let the "Creative Visionary" (read Pastor) who won't call himself a Christian because of the baggage that word carries but instead he's a "Follower of Christ". "Cool" says the unsaved friend. "I feel wanted here. Nothing is uncomfortable. I've found a spirituality that, if I didn't know better, was just like what I find at my local Starbucks."

Tom Waits, ironically, satircally, calls it a "candy shop" for people who don't want to go to church on Sunday morning. They find their "chocolate Jesus" and He's just alright for them. Soft, creamy, chewy, mouth-watering, sweet, delicious, non-bitter; the perfect taste for the weary, searching soul.

I'm 42. I grew up in church; specifically a Baptist church. I've watched these new iterations of church come along. I used to laugh at my elders who were skeptical of these new ways of doing church. Now I think they knew something I didn't know in my youth. I think it's something that only comes with age and experience. And I think I have figured something out.

Church isn't necessarily for the unsaved. Church isn't the "saving station". It's not a place for you to bring your unsaved friends for the sole purpose of having the Pastor win their souls for Christ. I think church's primary goal is to provide an temporary place of rest for the saved. It's a place for the saved to learn and grow in the scriptures. A place to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" so that when you leave you are better equipped to be a Christian in the big, bad world around you. What style it takes is secondary. If candles do it for you, great. Light em up. If songs written before 1995 are forbidden, fine. But remember it's not the songs or the candles or the pictures on the walls or the coffee shop or the book store or the multi-media but the content of what's being preached that is important. If all you get is a good-time, rock-and-roll, happy-clappy 2 hour joy ride then you've missed the point. If you're not being fed the Word, good, bad and ugly, then you're wasting your time. Go to a night club. Go to open mic night at the local coffee house.

I see modern, emerging, seeker, purpose-driven churches like this:

You see a door. It opens into a great, big room with lots of cool, flashy stuff. Beyond it is another door and behind that door is another room, not quite as big but it's for those who have progressed to the point where they've decided this is a place I could belong. It is in this room that they find very few threatening things. Nothing ever gets very uncomfortable during the conversation and this is where most people seeking a deeper spiritual side to their lives will reside. But beyond this room is another door. It leads to a smaller room still. It's not as flashy, not as comfortable. As a matter of fact, it's quite gritty. It's real life. Non candy-coated. It's where Jesus resides. Only a few of us go into that room. Some of us bounce back and forth between the 2nd and 3rd rooms. But those who go into that room discover something that those who don't enter miss. A realization that a chocolate Jesus eventually melts when things get hot. The real Jesus doesn't.

Eric

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

World Clock

(HT to Think Christian.net)

Someone shot me a link to the World Clock, a fascinating collection of significant national and world stats illustrated in an operable clock. Instead of just time, it also shows how many…

* births
* deaths
* diseases (from cancer to HIV)
* abortions
* cars produced
* prison population

Like I said, a fascinating collection. Who knows if any of it is true, but it seems to be based on common statistics data out there.

Reflections?


Interesting....

Eric

Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday - Had to work. Covered a shift for one of my pilots who was moving. No big deal...now he owes me!

Why is it that grown-ups can't play nice? What is it? Why do we think all those rules we were taught as kids now all of a sudden don't apply? Is it merely the fact that we are grown-ups? That's what I used to think. (I still use that excuse with my kids...usually tongue-in-cheek with a wink and a nod.) Especially if they are supposed to be professionals. I know not everyone is going to be best buds, but come to work, do the job you were hired to do, get along professionally with your co-workers and don't try to get anyone fired!

Enough on that subject...some of them read this blog!

Saturday - Yard work. I hate my trees. I hate leaves. I have 7 oak trees in my small backyard which, if left to their own devices, would shed not only leaves and acorns but branches as well. I swear, the next time I have extra money, down they come. I'm sure someone could use some very nice oak for their wood stove. But on the bright side, I did get to use my new weed-whacker. You never realize how bad your old stuff is until you get new stuff. My old TV...really bad. My old computer...really slow. My old weed-whacker...really bad and really slow. This new one cuts through everything like buttah!

Sunday - Sunday is church. We attend a Calvary Chapel here in Redding. Our Pastor is a pretty straight forward, pull no punches kind of guy. I like him. He's a good expository preacher. Tells it like it is. But something niggles about dogmatism. Having been rabidly dogmatic about things in the past I'm a bit skittish when opinions are set in stone. Facts you can set in stone all day....love stone, hard facts. But making the case for something when not all the facts are in...causes me pause. The jury is still out on some issues. Why no details? Email me and we can discuss details. Been burned on this blog for discussing details regarding religion and politics. I know, I said in my statement above that toes might get stepped on but not all the facts are in and I refuse to opine in public and in detail without them. See the aforementioned burn.

Monday - Labour Day. Or Labor Day. We decided to hit the road for Sacramento and see the State Fair...and the "Weird Al" Yankovic concert, "Straight Outta Lynnwood!" We almost didn't go. It was freakin' hot and I started getting vapor-lock. Had to crash for about an hour in the grass and shade. Wife said I didn't look too good. But I'm glad I went. The boy and I had a blast. The daughter even got into it. The wife tolerates (secretly enjoys!) Al. My son said it was "sooo cool!" The kids thanked us over and over for taking them to see the concert. The man is a genius. Understands parody and satire. Makes great songs and skewers popular culture at the same time. What more could one ask for? Plus I got a great t-shirt to wear under my flight suit at work declaring me "White and Nerdy"! The boy got one that said, "Weird Al is my Homeboy!" He wore it to school today!


One last thing before I go. Everyone by now has heard Miss Teen South Carolina's answer to the question why 1/5 of American's can't find the USA on a map. Rush Limbaugh was talking about this today and blamed liberal educators for focusing geography class on how one should feel when they see a picture of Iraq or South Africa. Blamed teachers for not teaching geography as it should. My answer to why 1/5 of American's can't identify their own country on a map is easy....













They're stupid.






Yup...stupid. Either that or they didn't pay attention in class, or their parents didn't check up on their homework, or the teachers were more interested in making the kids pass a test than learning the subject. But bottom line is this...they're stupid. And stupid is as stupid does. Or even better yet...


You can't fix stupid.


(Some toes were harmed in the posting of this blog. Those toes were deemed sturdy enough to handle a little stepping upon. Should you feel they weren't....get a life.)

Eric

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Much Safer Now...Thanks!

(HT to my cousin Jeff...for he sends this along to my Mother who sent it to me!)

I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the email about rat poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the
$15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking a man along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup water in the microwave
anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Tar get since they are French and don't support our
American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore , and Uzbekistan

I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown
African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it
bites my butt.

Thank you too for all the endless advice Andy Rooney has given us. I can live a better life now because he's told us how to fix everything

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 I dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

Oh, and don't forget this one either!

I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas
companies!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 47,000 people in the next 47
minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:47 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 47 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day....AND

A scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain and sexual activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late...

Eric

Friday, August 31, 2007

Words of Wisdom

Over at the BHT, Jim Nicholson posted this as he marked his 46th birthday...

For all my life, I believed that the message of the gospel was this: God loves us so much that he will let us go our own way, walk away from his will, and make a mess out of our lives, and when we hit the bottom and have no place else to turn, he will come to us and bring us back to himself. And all of that is true, all of that is in the gospel that Jesus proclaimed to us.

But now I realize that the gospel is something far more mysterious, something far more disturbing, something far more difficult to accept, because the message of the gospel is also this: God loves us so much that he will let us try to walk in his ways, let us do the right things and be the right people, and our lives will still end up a mess. And when we reach the place where we realize just how useless our efforts to be righteous and pure and good are, and how God has absolutely no use for them, he will come to us and bring us back to himself.

I am convinced that God is as weary of our efforts to be fine, upstanding, moral people as we (if we are honest with ourselves) are. And I’ve reached a place where I’m no longer willing to make those efforts any longer. I’m tired of trying to do what God has already done for me. I’m tired of moving toward Someone I can never reach, especially when he is already standing right next to me all the time.
Posted by: Jim Nicholson


Eric

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

2011

My son will graduate from High School in 2011. That seems weird for some reason. My
daughter will graduate in 2012. Still weird. But here's some things put together by Beloit College that makes us born in the 60's go "hmmmm...."

THE BELOIT COLLEGE MINDSET LIST FOR THE CLASS OF 2011

Most of the students entering college this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.

1. What Berlin wall?
2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
3. Rush Limbaugh and the "Dittoheads" have always been lambasting liberals.
4. They never "rolled down" a car window.
5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
7. They have grown up with bottled water.
8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
13. "Off the hook" has never had anything to do with a telephone.
14. Music has always been "unplugged."
15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.
16. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
17. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
18. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
19. Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson.
20. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
21. Eastern Airlines has never "earned their wings" in their lifetime.
22. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of "liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."
23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
24. Being "lame" has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
25. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
26. Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
27. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
28. They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola "MagiCan."
29. They were too young to understand Judas Priest's subliminal messages.
30. When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
31. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
32. They grew up in Wayne's World.
33. U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as "The Joker."
35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
36. American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.
37. Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.
38. On Parents' Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.
39. Fox has always been a major network.
40. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-head laugh.
41. The "Blue Man Group" has always been everywhere.
42. Women's studies majors have always been offered on campus.
43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
44. Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
45. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
46. Most phone calls have never been private.
47. High definition television has always been available.
48. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
49. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
50. Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.
51. China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation.
52. Time has always worked with Warner.
53. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
54. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
55. MTV has never featured music videos.
56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
57. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
58. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
59. They're always texting 1 n other.
60. They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.
61. They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
62. They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said "goodbye to rusty cars."
63. Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.
64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.
65. Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.
66. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
67. Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.
68. Burma has always been Myanmar.
69. Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.
70. Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.

Copyright 2007 by Beloit College, 700 College St., Beloit, Wisconsin 53511


Eric

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Hate Cats

Not just because I'm allergic to them, I just don't like cats. Not a cat person.

But these are hilarious!

I am in ur chare

LOL Cats

Meme Cats


Cat. The other white meat!

Eric

Check Your Facts!

I was a reporter once. Not a journalist. Just a reporter and a news anchor for a newstalk radio station. I was told to be objective and check my facts...over, and over, and over, and over, and over.

Unfortunately, some people put politics and ideology ahead of good, honest reporting.

There is an answer.

Humiliate these people. Or as Rush Limbaugh used to say, "illustrate absurdity by being absurd."

The Dissident Frogman shows us how.

Eric

Monday, August 27, 2007

Us vs. Them

Long ago, when I was a young, hip youth worker, I ran a Campus Life club for some Jr. Highers here in Redding. As part of my ministry (I was on part-time staff...raising my own support), I was required to attend a leadership training meeting where we devised a basic curriculum for Jr. High groups within Campus Life. Something one of the guys from Sacramento said has stuck with me from way back in 1992. He worked with inner-city youths in the downtown Sacto area. He said that people in the world will continue to move apart...rich v. poor, haves vs have-nots, Republicans vs. Democrats, conservatives vs. liberals, Christians vs. everybody else.

I think he had a moment of prophetic clarity.

We expect a level of Us vs. Them mentality as the each big group (see the list in the previous paragraph) continue to fragment into smaller and smaller groups who's like-mindedness narrows considerably eventually coming to a point where the only group you have is a bunch of individuals.

In this post Jared Wilson finds this has reared its ugly head within the Body of Christ and it disgusts him. (HT to BHT)

I have to agree.

It's like the old Bill Cosby routine where he's talking about the movie "Hud". In his routine he's talking about two cowboys who, in the movie, are shooting the cows because of hoof and mouth disease and, according to Cosby, their conversation goes something like...

"Why are we shooting these cows?"
"Because they have hoof and mouth disease."
"What's hoof and mouth disease?"
"See that foam around their mouths?"
"Yeah"
"That's hoof and mouth disease."
"Oh"
"Looks like you got some on you too...BANG!"

Something like that...

Eric

Johnny Cash Says...

"God's gonna cut you down.."

(HT to Think Christian)



Eric

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sex Chart

Are you feeling randy tonight? Want to know if you'll be committing sin when you follow through on your urges?

Follow this chart!




I guess I've been sinning this whole time...except for 2X. (I have 2 kids!)

Eric

Monday, August 06, 2007

*

That's right.

Bonds Ties Aaron

* says it all.

Unfortunately that is the new symbol of "excellence" in sports since McGwire. I hope Baroid pulls a hammy and A-Rod brings it.

Signed,

A Hank Aaron Fan from back in the day...

Eric

Daily Calendars

Every year I get a daily calendar. The kind where you can read something pithy, interesting, educational or funny. At work, we have one that deals with survival. Like if you're attacked by a heard of elephants or are submerged in a car or maybe caught in an avalanche. It also gives you tips on how to make tourniquets, slings, pine needle soup and other such stuff one might need should one find themselves lost in the woods out of cell phone range.

But this last weekends tip takes the cake.

"How to Foil a UFO Abduction"

Here they are...

1. Control your thoughts.
Do not think of anything violent or upsetting - the extraterrestrial biological entity (EBE) may have the ability to read your mind.

2. Resist verbally.
Firmly tell the EBE to leave you alone.

3. Resist mentally.
Picture yourself enveloped in a protective shield of white light, or in a safe place. Telepathic EBE's may get the message.

4. As a last resort, go for the EBE's eyes - you will not know what its other more sensitive areas are.


Someone has been listening to Art Bell too much...

Eric

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You Don't Need a Brain...

....to work in government.

Proof.

That explains a lot...

Eric

Monday, July 23, 2007

42

It is the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything according to Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

It's also my age.

As of yesterday.

My wife asked me if I felt "old". I said no. (She's asked me that every year since I was about 35.) I don't feel old but I'm not as young as I used to be. In the morning I do feel old but that's just years of abuse to my body.

(NOTE TO SON: Abuse it while you're young and you'll pay for it when you're older!)

I did eat okra yesterday. It was in my chicken gumbo. That's a milestone. I hated okra as a kid because my Grandmother Lancaster used to fry it within an inch of its life or boil it until it oozed out on to the plate in a gelatinous mass. This okra wasn't bad but don't let my Mother hear me say that.

I also eat tomatoes. Not plain but I don't pick them out of my food anymore. I just eat them. It's not that I like them all of a sudden it's just around age 30 I got tired of picking them out of my food. More like being lazy than acquiring a taste.

My hair is thinning. I'll finally admit it. My Mom would tease me about my thinning hair as far back as age 30. Admittedly she would make the comment while looking at my newly shorn head (I wear a flat-top on occasion and the barber gets it down to less than a 1/4 of an inch!) But recently I've noticed it's thinning on top and up front. Sides and back are still good. Maybe I'll look like Patrick Stewart of ST:TNG fame in a few years! For now, I keep it cut pretty short.

The boy got me this card for my birthday.

OUTSIDE: So anyway, I'm standing in line to buy you a freakin' birthday card, and the line is like seventeen billion people long 'cause the only thing the dumb teenage boy at the register is thinking about is the dumb teenage girl at the other register, and some lady is turning her purse inside out to come up with "exact change", like she's gonna win some kind of "exact change trophy" or something, and some idiot starts up with his "This item was marked with the sale price" crap, and I just really hope you like this card...









































INSIDE:

'cause I stole it.


Yes...he's 14 and he is his father's son. He was so proud to have found that card. He's at camp this week. Local bible camp up in the foothills of Mt. Lassen. I'm hoping he'll find other kids that will be a better influence on him than the ones he's picked over the last couple of years. It's not that they are bad kids it's just their values are different than ours. I really don't want to be the lecturing kind of Dad but I did ream him a new one last week. Just finally pissed me off and I gave him the what-for. He had it coming. He'll learn. Hopefully sooner than I did. He's a good kid. Good heart. Smart. I just want him to be a little more innocent a little longer.

I had some other great epiphanies on being 42 and half way through life but I seemed to have forgotten them. I have great thoughts as I'm trying to fall asleep but come morning I can't remember most of them. I guess I should just get up and write when the thoughts are pouring out of my head instead of waiting until later.

I remember...

I am reading "The Autobiography of Henry VIII" by Margaret George. Fascinating book. (If my research is somewhat correct, I am a great distant relative of Henry's. But then again, English lineage is somewhat difficult to follow.) Henry, in his later life, after he split with Rome, found himself in a bit of a conundrum. He knew the Pope's were just men and that Luther was partially correct but he couldn't bring himself to abandon the religion he'd grown up with. Being the 2nd son of a King he was destined never to rule so he was trained as a priest. His brother died so he got the job as King when his father passed away. He felt his marriage to Katherine of Aragon wasn't legal in the Lord's eyes and the Pope, politically influenced, saw otherwise. Henry's man Wolsey helped Henry split and the Church of England was born. Catholic light some call it as instead of a Pope, the ruling Monarch is the head of the Church. Not the spiritual head though.

So Henry is getting old and fat and sees this new generation coming up which he doesn't understand. They are mixing Lutheranism with is beloved English Catholicism and it's making him nervous. He misses the old structure.

I understand how he felt.

There are days I miss the assurance of my Baptist upbringing but know that the legalistic manner in which I was raised wasn't correct. They understood freedom in Christ but knew man's sin nature would take a mile if given an inch so life was regulated. The problem was, they didn't teach us how to deal with our freedom only how to regiment it. We weren't given the tools to live. We were given a rule book to abide by. And deviation from the rule book lead to disasters of biblical proportions...God would punish us with nasty consequences, striking us down in our prime. We always had a God of wrath and rarely a God of love. (Those who thought God was Love all the time were those long-hairs that hung out at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and played Jesus Rock...I go to a CC church now and listen to more than just Jesus rock. I'm a baaaddd boooyy!)

So seeing the freedom I have to worship God one on one instead of in the temple or in the hills I cringe at some of the lengths people go to in doing it. I think we aren't remembering our history well enough and are seeing old things new again. Contemplative prayer, incense, labyrinths, alternate worship services. Those things give me pause. I have to discern whether it's a knee-jerk reaction from my Baptist roots or if it's the Spirit poking me with the caution stick. Some days...it's hard to know which is which.

Besides...incense makes my nose run...

Eric

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dating

(HT to Mikey's Funnies)

THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN BEFORE I DATED

~ Never date anyone who is rude to the waiter/waitress.

~ Never date anyone who is rude to their mother.

~ If they have a tendency to be rude to you now, just wait.

~ If you date someone who doesn't share your standards, they'll lower yours.

~ The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship: "I apologize" and "You are right."

~ Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

~ If he/she says you're too good for him/her, believe it.

~ If they have a tough time apologizing now, just wait.

~ Never date anyone who spends more time gazing into the mirror, than they spend gazing into your eyes.

today'sTHOT============================

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.

Eric

Sunday, July 08, 2007

But We Care...

Live Aid. Band Aid. Live 8. And now Live Earth.

Roger Daltrey, singer from 1970s British rock band The Who, told British newspaper The Sun in May that "the last thing the planet needs is a rock concert."

And the singer from 80s pop sensations The Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant, attacked the arrogance of pop stars who put themselves forward as role-models.

"I've always been against the idea of rock stars lecturing people as if they know something the rest of us don't," he was reported as saying by British music magazine NME.


Arctic Monkeys shiver at Live Earth - hypocrisy (HT to Thunderstruck)

Absolutely. Since when do movie stars and pop stars (or politicians for that matter!) know something we don't? I'm discounting those who truly do but I feel they are few and far between. I just recall Meryl Streep at the Alar hearings in the 80's screeching, "What are we doing to our children?!" (ALAR was a chemical put on apples to make them shinier and to delay rotting. Turns out...it wasn't that harmful at all. Kind of like DDT...)

We have the Georgy Clooney's of the world who make great movies and tell us our president is an evil man. The Ted Danson's, who make us laugh on TV and in the movies, telling us that our oceans only have 10 years left (That was nearly 15 years ago if remember correctly.) We have Al Gore telling us our world will end in 2015. (See Rush Limbaugh.com for a countdown...it's at the bottom of the page...we have little more than 8 years left...kind of like the ocean thing.)

Just because someone is in the public eye doesn't mean they are smarter than us. Yes, they have a platform from which to educate. But when the message they are delivering is suspect at best, where is the media? Right there pushing it along. Journalism, as a a means of disseminating information, has fewer and fewer practitioners these days. More people are concerned about making the facts fit their premise instead of having the facts prove or disprove their premise.

But does this give us carte blanche to pollute? To kill off species? To waste resources? No. We are stewards of this planet. We should take care of it as best we can with the understanding that man is the highest form of life on the planet and top of the food chain. Not dolphins. Not monkeys. Not fairey shrimp.

I say that if Al Gore and his ilk are really, truly into this Global Warming issue, then they need to be leading the way by example to stop it. (Which I find hard to do as the earth does what the earth was designed to do and man is extremely arrogant if he thinks he can destroy that which God hath created...good luck with that train of thought!) But I doubt that that will happen. Al Gore hasn't even answered the charges that he's more a of polluter than the president he despises. (Pres. Bush's ranch in Texas was considered more ecologically friendlier than Al Gore's place!)

[sarcasm]But I guess if I put on a concert and play bad versions of my most popular songs I guess it shows I care. And if I care then I can't be all that bad and must be part of the solution and not the problem.[/sarcasm] (BTW...Roger Waters did a great rendition of "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2" last night. UB40 did a mighty fine job on "Red, Red Wine". Bon Jovi, on the other hand, IMO, mangled "Dead or Alive" and called it our "national anthem". What a dork.)

That's my rant for now....

Eric

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Audicity

Audacity: v -
President Clinton tried to draw a distinction between the pardons he granted, and Bush's decision to commute Libby's 30-month sentence in the CIA leak case.

"I think there are guidelines for what happens when somebody is convicted," Clinton told a radio interviewer Tuesday. "You've got to understand, this is consistent with their philosophy; they believe that they should be able to do what they want to do, and that the law is a minor obstacle."

White House Criticizes Clintons on Libby

Jumbo Coconut Balls!

Eric

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Crint Eastwood

Yes...Clint Eastwood visits my home airport on numerous occasions as he has property northeast of Redding. If you watch the opening sequence of the movie "Firefox" when Clint is running towards a cabin, that's his cabin on his property. I know where it is...I've flown over it countless times!

In the 17 years I've lived in Redding I've only heard stories and never happened to be at the airport when he came in. Last night I got lucky. I shot some pics from a distance not wanting to bother the man as he was on vacation.





This is Clint's plane...pretty nice G5!

Eric

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Parental Guidance Suggested

(HT to BHT)

Apparently my blog is rated PG...hmmm...

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Blog Rating



Better get a few more "dead's" and "death's" in there! (J/K!)

Eric

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Do You Make?

(HT to BHT)

Before I wanted to be a pilot (and sometimes while I am a pilot!) I flirted with the idea of being a teacher. Specifically at 7th or 10th Grade History teacher. I love history. I love teaching. If I were, this is the kind of teacher I'd like to be...





Eric

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Political Pandering of the Conservative Christian

I saw the movie, "Man of the Year" starring Robin Williams last night. Excellent movie. Part of the premise is that politicians will say anything to anybody to get elected but won't do what needs to be done to get the job done.

I was surfing Rush Limbaugh's website this morning, something I do every once in a while, and Rush was talking about the Democratic Pandering to Christian Conservatives. Rush Limbaugh on Political Pandering

He references one group Sojourners/Call to Renewal ( Sojourners and Call to Renewal ) as the ones who brought Obama, Hillary and Edwards in to discuss their faith.

It seems to me that we have officially entered the "faith" portion of the race for the White House. Gotta get that faith thing out of the way so we can get to the real stuff; illegal immigration (Honey, did you remember to pay Consuela?), flag burning (Honey? Has my flag underwear arrived yet?), Iraq/terrorism (Honey, where's my 3 oz. bottle of toothpaste?), Global Warming (Honey, the weather channel says snow down to 4500 feet and it's only June 6th!) among other things.

Rush makes some observations that, especially these guys, have been antagonistic at best to those who profess a Christian belief. And yet, they will (and not just those on the left side of the aisle but the right side as well...ain't that right Rudi?) trot out their faith, attend a church service, even preach a sermon ( Sermons in Selma, so as to appear religious enough.

But their words and deeds, like many of ours, are polar opposites. Is this what we want for a leader?

Just some thoughts...BTW...rent the movie...it's a good one!

Eric

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Life, Death and an Undefeated Season

My daughter has been playing fast-pitch girls softball for the last three years. She's 12 now and this has been the best season for her so far. Her first season was an intro to softball. She played on her best friend's team. Her dad was the coach and is also a friend of mine. She learned the fundamentals and had a fun time. Second year wasn't so good. The coach was a win at all costs kind of guy. Concentrated on his star players and left the others in outfield.

This year, she got a coach who cared more about the girls learning the game and having fun than the score. He even told the girls they were behind by 6 points a lot whether he knew the score or not! After a 12-0 undefeated season (including beating not once but twice, my daughter's coach from last year!), the team entered the playoffs. The last game was a nail-biter. Down 13-11 in the bottom of the seventh, my daughter gets a base hit and the ump finally realizes the first baseman lifts her foot at the last minute thus not completing the out. Three batters later and she's come home the team's best hitter is on third. The second best hitter is up to bat and the opposing coach tells his pitcher to walk her. We parents in the stands boo and the Ump tells us to keep quiet. Kelsey gets walked and as she gets to first, Coach Mike tells her to take 2nd. Then he yells, "THROW HER OUT AT SECOND!" which causes everyone to look that way including the opposing coach and the pitcher who over-throws 2nd! Out of the corner of my eye I see Katelyn stealing home from 3rd and that's it...game over...14-11! A 15-0 undefeated season! The girls played hard but in the end, the other team was out-coached!

All through this last month of playoffs there were two deaths in the family. My wife's Uncle was killed by a drunk driver in Florida and my cousin's husband succumbed to his battle with a failing liver, heart disease and diabetes. On top of that, my mother-in-law was informed that some the polyps in the foot of colon they removed had cancer. We're hoping the colonectomy removed all the offending cancer but we wait to hear the final prognosis.

And my sister-in-law, my brother's wife, should have popped out Boy #2 by today but so far, nothing.

Add to that, my good friend Larry is the object of a witch hunt at his place of employment. His District Manager has never liked him and is in the process of stretching incidents into something they are not. Larry is what any store manager should be; he is customer service oriented, always looking out for the best interests of the company as well as the customers. He and his wife are very giving and have the gift of hospitality. This is really, really causing some major stress in their life. He has been suspended with pay pending further investigation.

I know how that feels.

Makes you feel like shite.

The worse part for my wife and I is there is nothing we can say to change circumstances, to make them feel better, to put any kind of shine to this. All we can do for them is what they did for us 2 years ago when I went through my own work issues.

Pray.

(I told his wife that when this is all over and Larry is exonerated that she should ask the DM if she wants to be a man. When she says "no" then ask her why she was being such a dick. I know...)

So life rolls on. Rain falls on the good and the bad alike. We wonder why the evil prosper while the good suffer. We celebrate victories, we celebrate life. We mourn those who've departed and comfort those who are suffering. We are reminded in the Psalms of David that despite how we feel about our enemies, despite what sins we've committed, what struggle we're going through, God is there. He is to whom we can turn. Even when we get to the point of asking Him to either kill all of our enemies or to take us home He is there.

I don't know about Larry but when I went through my year of hell my faith was the only thing that kept me going. Not to diminish the presence of my wife who suffered a different type of pain watching her husband be beaten down, physically, mentally and emotionally, but I was hanging on the thread that all I could trust in was God. I do know this, it only lasts for a little while.

How long is a little while? This long.

Eric

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Crime and Punishment

J.P. Moreland was introduced to me by my former brother-in-law Curt. I have been an admirer of Moreland's ability to reason through many issues of the day and present a clear and understandable discussion of the topic that is both relevant and true.

Over at Scriptorium Daily, Mr. Moreland has a bunch of posts on culture and Christianity. His latest puts into words something I've been trying to explain to people for years. Punishment has nothing to do with rehabilitation!

Until the 1950’s, there were four aspects of and goals for criminal justice: punishment, deterrence, protection of society, and rehabilitation. Here are three crucial points about the list. (1) Only the first one (punishment) requires taking the crime as intrinsically evil. It looks back in time at the crime, sees the balance of good and evil in the universe as disturbed, and seeks to right those scales and punish evil simply because it is evil and not because punishment would bring about good future benefits to society (or victims). Punishment is unrelated to revenge whose presence or absence is irrelevant to the appropriateness of the punishment.

The rest of the post is just as good. Check it out...

Eric

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bob from Bend

On Thursday I flew to Bend, Or to pick up a patient. While the Med Crew went into the hospital to retrieve the patient I sat outside on a bench watching the clouds and the planes and the helicopters come and go. An old guy came up and asked if I charged to sit and watch the planes. He introduced himself as Bob B. from Bend. Then he proceeded to talk...

Bob was on his way to get his FAA medical...at the age of 82. His wife made him sell his last plane at 80 so Bob bought another motorcycle. He really liked the Suzuki he found as it looked like his 1974 Harley. Then he told me about his first motorcycle.

Bob served as an engineer on a tanker in the USN during WWII. He was in Bremerhaven at the wars end and said he paid "a carton of cigarettes, a bottle of scotch and a pair of trousers" for a British built Victoria motorcycle. He said the couldn't find gas anywhere so they stole it out of the life boats! When he was shipped back home, he and a buddy lashed it to the tanker and made their way to Texas.

That's when he crashed and ruined his left hip. Which is another story Bob told me.

Bob and his buddy were leaving the (here Bob leans in conspiritorially and whispers) "the pussy house" late one night in a coastal Texas town when he told his buddy he was too tire to ride. His buddy, riding on back said they were only 10 miles from the ship and that he could make it. Bob said, "My buddy knew there was something wrong when he said he felt the bike start to slow down". Bob had fallen asleep on a road that forked left and right. Right in the middle of the "Y" was a large statue. Bob hit it dead on and his buddy landed on top of him, pinning him to the bike and crushing his left leg.

Bob was seeing "this cute little Italian number" who's friend was a doctor. She brought the Doc to Bob and the Doc put a plate on Bob's upper leg then told him "That's the first one I've ever done on a human. I've done pigs and horses but not people!" Needless to say Bob was pretty proud of the metal plate in his leg.

Bob then asked what kind of engines I had on my King Air. I told him I had PT6-42's on them. He told me another story about establishing an airline across most of Montana in Beech 99's and Twin Otters. He regaled me with a story about politics and arguing with one of the Mayor Daley's trying to get a route into O'Hare and not Midway.

About that time my Med Crew arrived and I had to bid Bob goodbye. I'll bet Bob has a bunch more stories about WWII and flying in the 50's, 60's and 70's if anyone is willing to sit a spell and just listen.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Perspective

It's funny how, even after spending all of my life going to church and reading the Bible, I still find a new way to describe Jesus. Something that never dawned on me even though I've read it a million times and have even taught it...

Jesus was a homeless bum.

Think on that for a while. Then read this...

Giving money to people on the streets.

Perspective...

Eric

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Emergent/Emerging

Confusing terms to say the least. My church recently held a 3 day seminar by Brian Flynn, a former TM disciple and Roger Oakland of Understand The Times regarding Contemplative Prayer and the Emerging Church. Some very interesting information came out of that conference but I'll let you click on the link and discover for yourself what they are. (Think "old wine in new wine skins" and the thought that the Devil simply repackages used goods!)

I've been attracted to the concept of an open conversation about the state of Christianity in the Western World of late and it seems the Emerging Church Movement has tapped into something along those lines. I also like the concept of missional thinking. In other words, I don't have to go to the Darkest Africa to spread the gospel. There is a culture in my own backyard that has no clue of God, Jesus or the Gospel. But I was confused. I'd heard things, things which smacked of liberal, moral-relativistic ideas within the ECM. The use of icons and incense to enhance worship (which begs the question, "When will the enhancements become what is worshipped instead of what they were supposed to be focusing your thoughts on?")

So, I went to Stand To Reason and found this little gem from Brett Kunkle.

Read them and see if there is not a concern about the leaders of the Emergent church and their influence on the Emerging church.

Eric

Monday, April 16, 2007

That's My King

Many years ago, in the days before DVD was the norm, I got a video called, "That's My King".

It gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it.

It brought tears to my eyes the second time I heard it.

The third time I heard it I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

What is it?

That's My King

Eric

Thursday, April 05, 2007

How To Get Your Black Belt...

...in one easy lesson!




(That's me on the bottom in black getting my head torqued off by Master Jim!)

Eric

Three Days in the Bay

I'm not a prude, or at least I don't think of myself as a prude. But after spending 3 days in the Bay Area, specifically at Marineworld, I think I might be. I saw more boobs, butts, thongs, tramp-stamps than I really needed to see. And if I noticed them, I'm sure my 14-year-old son saw them as well. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure he noticed them because he commented on something we both saw.

A white guy who thought he was black.

Yup. A pasty white, blonde guy who dressed, talked, walked and acted like he was several pigment shades darker than he was. He was hanging around a group of blacks and my son was trying desperately to not laugh. Even he saw how lame it really was.

Then there were the little girls in line for "ROAR". I call them little because they couldn't have been more than 14 or 15. And yet, their tops were so low that if their shirts were to have shifted, they would have given everyone a nipple flash.

Of course, sitting on the benches at the dolphin show, it's hard not to notice the green thong that is 2 inches above the waistline of shorts on the woman in front of us.

Then there was the heavy-set guy with dyed black hair that hit him just above the pockets...of his shirt and the black t-shirt that loudly proclaimed in bold, white letters, "KILLING FOR SATAN" on the back.

How am I supposed to take my kids somewhere and have a good time without having to stop and interrupt said time by discussing lame-ass people's behaviours? Whatever happened to the idea of "public"? In other words, there are things that are acceptable in your own home or in a setting with like-minded people, but there are liberties that should be curtailed, even restrained, in the public eye. I am not arguing someone's right to wear a shirt so low I can see areola showing just wear it where the majority of people aren't going to see it. I really don't want to see your underwear. There is a reason it's called underwear and that's because you wear it under your clothes, not hanging out for all to see.

We did have a nice, quiet time in San Francisco though. On Tuesday, we headed to Golden Gate Park and hit the Japanese Tea Garden. What a really cool place. Very beautiful and serene. We had some green tea and wasabi rice crackers as well as fortune cookies. We took a bunch of pictures (which I'll post at Photos By Eric sometime today) and had a good time walking along Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.

The weather was perfect all three days in the Bay and we felt blessed that God allowed us the time together. Not too many crowds which my family knows drives me nuts. No rain or cold wind, just sunshine and the occasional, welcome, breeze off the Bay.

All in all, not a bad time...

Eric

Friday, March 30, 2007

Di Fi Responds

A few weeks back I sent off one of those automated response emails to my Congressman/woman, Diane Feinstein. She's a Dem. I'm a Rep. It was about keeping English as the official language of the United States.

Do I have a problem with people speaking other languages while living in the US? Nope. But I'll tell ya this, teaching kids in school in their mother tongue, ie: not English, is wrong. This is the US...we speak English. If you want to learn in Spanish/German/French/Vietnamese/etc., learn it at home or take an elective course in school.

When becoming a naturalized US citizen, you should have to recite your pledge in English. No other language.

When filling out official forms, they should be in English. If you can't read English, regardless of your ethnic background, learn or find someone who can.

It's funny, English is the international language of aviation; of banking; of finance; even war. Why is it so hard to make it the official language of a country that uses it as its Mother Tongue?

I've traveled through Europe and the Middle East. Airports, bus stations and some subways, have the native language and English and sometimes Japanese or Chinese. Why? Because of travelers. But out in the real world of these countries, regardless of who might live there, the local language is the one you read on signs, newspapers, official documents, food labels, menu's, etc.

If you're lucky, you can decipher some of these languages. After 3 days in Athens, Greece, I was able to get around pretty good reading street signs and whatnot. Why? Greek is similar to English. In Switzerland, having taken German in High School, I could navigate my way around. In Rome, after a few days there, I could decipher signs and menus.

Is it too much to ask that if you are going to live in a certain country that you at least try to learn the basics of its language?

Here's the response from Di Fi..

March 5, 2007


Mr. Eric Lancaster
XXXX XXXXXXX XXX
Redding, California XXXXX

Dear Mr. Lancaster:

Thank you for contacting me about establishing English as the
official language of the United States. I appreciate hearing from you and
welcome the opportunity to respond.

I recognize the importance of having a common language in
order to preserve national unity and ensure communication among all
citizens. While the United States is a country of immigrants, English has
long been the primary language spoken in our country.

In 2006, I voted for an amendment offered by Senator Ken
Salazar (D-CO) to the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of
2006" (S. 2611). This amendment declared that English is the common
and unifying language of the United States, and required the Federal
government to preserve and enhance the role of the English language.
The 109th Congress adjourned on December 9, 2006 without passing S.
2611. Please know that I will keep your concerns in mind should the
Senate take up legislation in the 110th Congress to establish English as
our country's official language.

Once again, thank you for writing. I hope you will continue to
contact me on issues of importance to you. If you have any further
questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington,
D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

http://feinstein.senate.gov

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the
Nation are available at my website http://feinstein.senate.gov. You can also
receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at
http://feinstein.senate.gov/issue.html.


Eric

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yankee or Dixie?

I was born and raised, most of my life, in California. I lived for 4 years in Georgia between the ages of 3-7. My daddy is from Texas. My momma is from California. I lived in Tulsa, OK for 18 months and spent 5 years with a Coonass of a co-worker from Louisiana.

That said, when I took This Test, I scored 65% Dixie.

Sometimes it's environment as well as nature!

Eric

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Uhhh....

I was just over at The Boar's Head Tavern going through the Blogroll on the sidebar. I saw many places I knew, some I visit on a regular basis, then I saw one that was very familiar.

This place.

Huh?

I'm on the blogroll at BHT? *gulp* What can I say? I'm a both honored and a bit scared. Those guys are so smart. Serious dialog going on over there.

Anyways, thanks Michael.

Eric

Where's the Money Go?

(HT to The Wittenburg Door Insider Newsletter)

When you give to a charitable foundation or organization, do you wonder where the money goes? Especially if it's of the religious variety. Well, so did John Stossel of ABC News. He's the guy who really likes to get in peoples faces and get to the truth of the matter. Here's what he found out about many televangelists and ministers of the "Name it and Claim it" ilk.

Philanthropic Donations Come From the Heart -- Where Do They End Up?

Eric

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tanja Stark

I met Tanja through the Wittenburg Door Magazine Chat Closet in the late 90's. She is an Aussie gal who, from childhood to early 20's, could have been my sister as our upbringing in the Baptist church was eerily similar despite the fact we are separated by thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean.

Tanja is an artist. Like me, she rarely takes pictures/paints/constructs people although they do show up in her work. Unlike me, she is a bit more abstract and way better at it than I'll ever be. Her work can be seen Here.

Her blog is Here. You can find it on the sidebar as well.

If I ever get to Australia, I'll look up Tanja and her husband Finn and their kids and take them out to dinner.

Just thought I'd share something interesting today.

Eric

Friday, March 23, 2007

What NOT To Say in a Staff Meeting

So the bigwigs and mucky-mucks from the Head Office located in beautiful downtown Modesto show up for our monthly staff meeting and interview for the new base manager. It's my day off but, as Lead Pilot, I still have to attend. Show up late because I was dealing with maintenance, I am standing in the doorway when the question arises.

"Do we security screen ride alongs with the FAA list?"

Huh?

We're air ambulance.

"Uh...no."

It's told me that the company has a copy of said list and I mention if it's available on the company intranet, that would be nice.

High Mucky-Muck #1 (herein referred to as HMM #1) asks me, as Pilot in Command, how we decide who goes and who doesn't. I think for a moment for a way to put it as succinctly as possible, without going in to a long, drawn-out detailed analysis of societal and personal evolution in a Post 9-11 world and blurt out, "Racial profiling."

All the air leaves the room. No one breathes. I feel the red creeping up the back of my neck. I see one of the other pilots in the very back of the room, cringing.

Oh shit.

HMM#1 peers over the person in front of him and asks, "How do you feel about that?"

Pause again to consider just how to phrase what I believe in such a way that I don't come off as a racist or some kind of hate-monger. Everyone in the room is still deathly quiet. My answer? "I'm not too wild about it but it is what we have to do."

HMM#1 says, "Right answer. That was what I was looking for. Obviously is a white, blonde=haired, blue-eyed guy comes out he doesn't raise the flags that, say, a person of Arab descent."

The meeting goes on with a bit more clarification on the subject from HMM#1.

Later, as HMM#1 is leaving to do interviews, I pull him aside and ask if he was offended by my comments. He shook his head and said, "No way. I asked the further questions to see if you were a racists which you are not."

I explained my self in a little more detail. The TSA training I have taken bottom lines aircraft security as this; no one of Arab descent is going to get on or put anything on a plane without major scrutiny. If you ask TSA if that is so, they will deny it. But that is the unofficial bottom line.

Now, I have been running this conversation over in my head since Wednesday and I find myself asking myself this rather disturbing question? Am I a racist?

Truly? My answer is no. I am not. Even though I have been accused of being a racist, a bigot, a sexist and a homophobe by people who knee-jerk react to comments made by me in discussions about all four issues.

A little background. My parents were born in the late 30's and came of age in the 50's. My dad is from Texas and my mother is from California. Their parents are Depression Era refugees and all of them carry very different cultural norms with them. It wasn't uncommon growing up in Georgia or visiting relatives in Texas to call a black man "Boy" or "nigger". It was societally acceptable. It wasn't uncommon to hear my California relatives refer to Jews as "kikes" and Hispanics as "beaners". I, too, used these descriptors as a child because that was normal. I do remember feeling uncomfortable mentioning those words around blacks, Jews and Hispanics because deep inside I also knew that labelling people, calling them names, was wrong.

I know a lot of people like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. But there is one line in there that sticks out to me and calls me accountable to it. The line about judging a man by the content of his character and not the color of his skin. I wanted people to judge me not by my skin color, not who my parents were, not who my descendants were, not where I grew up, not my socio-economic level but for who I was. And if I wanted that for myself, then I should do the same for others. So I made a conscious decision to try and not stereotype people based on preconceived notions perpetrated by racists, bigots, sexists and homophobes.

It took a lot of soul searching and retraining of my thought patterns to do so but eventually I got to the point where I saw a black person and saw a person who happened to be black. If any of the stereotypical thoughts can to mind, lazy, stupid, "boy", I dismissed them as labels. I didn't know that person; do I know if they are lazy? Do I know they are stupid? Why am I judging them by the color of their skin or the clothes they are wearing? Basically, I started looking at them as I was supposed to look at them, as Christ looks at them. As people.

Does this mean that first impressions are wrong? Not always. Does this mean that some people don't live up to stereotypes? Some do and some don't.

In the mid-90's I got called for jury duty. I was Juror #12 selected out of the initial 12 selected. Each side got to interview the jurors and ask them questions. We were told the case. Girl was accusing her boyfriend and his father of rape. She was in her early 20's but looked 10 years older. Both her boyfriend and his father were sitting at the table wearing leather vests with "Hell's Angels" on the back.

The conversation went along the lines of "Do you think these men, who are wearing Hell's Angels vests are being singled out because of their affiliation with the Hell's Angels?" (The defense attorney is a known bleeding-heart liberal who thinks no one has ever done anything wrong that they can be held responsible for, it was always someone else's fault...parents, society, schools...you name it!) One old codger said that he thought the HA's had cleaned up their act and noted that they had participated in the latest Toys for Tots drive. (This was an attempt by the local HA club to clean up their image as the local DA was cracking down on them due to several complaints from citizens and businesses, including a church, located near their clubhouse.)

Few were dismissed. It came to me. The defense asked that I be excused (might have had something to do with the fact that I told the panel that while I was home taking care of my son during the day, I had Rush Limbaugh on the radio for 3 hours at a pop!) The judge asked if I was able to hear this case completely, 100% objectively. I said no. I said, "No one here can either. We all have preconceived ideas about people and regardless of what the Hell's Angels are doing today, they have a reputation for this kind of behaviour. The men sitting at the table have chosen to be associated with the Hell's Angels and by doing so, must accept that there will be certain stigmata attached to them vicariously. I have my own opinions of Hell's Angels but it will by up to the Prosecution and the Defense to be able to overcome my preconceived ideas. Not only of mine but of the others on the jury as well." (Yes, I was really that eloquent in the courtroom!)

The judge nodded and dismissed me. As I was standing to leave he added this. "I regret having to let you go. You would have made an excellent juror."

Sidebar to the above case. I had rightly divined from the comments of the Prosecution and the Defense from the story told, I knew she hadn't been raped. But that the girl had had sex with her boyfriend, got into a fight and to get back had him, had sex with his father. To get back at both of them, she filed rape charges with the DA. Three weeks later, the Defense atty was all over the news celebrated the acquittal of his clients because they had been falsely accused by an angry woman and how just because they were Hell's Angels they would never do something like what they had been accused of. I was proven right. I had called it.

In this instance, preconceived ideas about Hell's Angels proved to be wrong.

Back to the Staff Meeting.

We, in this Post 9-11 society, have probably taken a step backwards in the whole racial thing. This time it's not about Blacks and Hispanics and Asians. It's about Arabs. We've already seen issues with the Sikh's who also wear head wraps but do not practice Islam. Thank the Islamic Fundamentalists for pushing Western Society back a few years. Am I saying we had racism in America licked? Of course not. There will always be people who judge other people by the color of their skin, their accent (Can you say French? I knew you could!), or by the jobs they hold.

It's sad really. Due to the attacks on 9-11, we are now more paranoid about our neighbor than ever before. Having just watched, "Good Night and Good Luck" about Ed Morrow and Joseph McCarthy and knowing a little about that time, I'd say that attacks have moved us back to those years but instead of looking for Pinko Commies, we're looking for Arab-descended Islamo-Fascists.

Another question was brought up. Do we profile others? Of course we do. It's the same thing whether we call it profiling or applying a stereotype. I profile every day. So do you. We immediately, from the information first given to us, access that part of our mind that informs us of what kind of person we're dealing with. What we do after receiving that information is what determines whether we're racists, sexists, bigots or homophobes. Have we grown enough as individuals to see beyond initial stimuli or have we stumbled backwards to an earlier time when it was okay to act on labels?

I still hold out hope was haven't slipped backwards...

Eric

P.S. Someday I'll relate why I've been labeled a racist, a sexist, a bigot and a homophobe....there's just not enough room in this post.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Secret Places

(HT to Chris Whitehead...see sidebar)



Some pretty neat stuff laying around ol' Planet Earth.

Enjoy!

Eric

Friday, March 09, 2007

My Ship Finally Came In...

...sort of!

We picked it up today and are waiting for the weather to clear. Tomorrow's supposed to be sunny and 75 so we're thinking about hitting Whiskeytown Lake.

We've lived near two big lakes for nearly 17 years. Now we get to enjoy them in a different way.

Here it is!


My new cockpit!!


The family tries it out!

Eric

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I've Wanted One...

...for nearly 17 years now.

My own boat.

So, the wife and I were talking earlier this year about how I have 7 days off in a row and how summer time is approaching and how the kids aren't going to do Kid's Unlimited this year and how we're going to have to find something to entertain them so...

...we decided on a boat.

So, armed with a laptop full of information I set out to peruse the local boat dealers in town. Each one had the "best boats" and the "best service". Of course they did.

Frankly, since it was going to be the first boat we've ever owned (we been out on friends boat's for years) we decided to look at used.

Used hurts. The best piece of advice I got everywhere was, "Unless you know who you're buying from, beware!"

So we thought new. New hurts. New is expensive. We were at the boat show at the fairgrounds today and saw boats that cost more than my first house! But there was one place I hadn't been. The local Bayliner dealer.

I know...Bayslimer. Well a little research shows that the Bayslimers of the 80's are not the Bayliners of the 00's. Even insurance companies are given good rates on Bayliners again.

So we bought this one...





On Friday we pick her up. On Saturday we're gonna hit Whiskeytown Lake.

Nervous? Yes. Excited? Yes.

Eric

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Voice From the Past

I was standing at the counter at Hemet-Ryan airport paying for gas when my cell phone rang. The number had a 909 prefix and, not paying attention to the rest of the number, I assumed it was my sister as she lives in Alta Loma. Suddenly there's a voice saying it's Curt. Momentarily confused I wondered why my brother Kurt was calling me from the 909 area code when he was supposes to be in Canada driving a truck full of horses to support his wife and child (and the one on the way!)

Stop the tape, rewind. Let me explain. No. Let me sum up.

My sister once married a guy named Curt. Her brother (and mine) is named Kurt as well. Different spelling. Which made it fun for me to steal and paraphrase a line from Bob Newhart; "Hi! I'm Eric and this is my brother Kurt and my other brother Curt!"

Start the tape.

Curt had Googled himself (you've all done it...don't deny it!) and found his name in my Blog. Odd, I hadn't recalled using his full name in my Blog but a quick Google search myself revealed that I had. My bad. I try not to use full names. Knowing I still lived in Redding it was only a matter of time and a couple of phone calls to locate me...or at least my cell phone.

I hadn't spoken with Curt in over 5 years. He and my sister had a bit of a falling out some years back. Curt made some poor choices and in the end, he and my sister divorced. Curt went through the "long, dark, tea-time of the soul" and, like me, was hoping the light at the end of the tunnel wasn't the lamp from an oncoming train. So I really didn't know what to make of the phone call. I knew from other friends in So Cal that he had called them; reaching out in a sort of way. It could have had something to do with the fact that the last time I talked to him I was rather blunt or as my wife would say, not very sociable. Let's just say Curt's behaviour left a rather bad taste in my mouth. And in the mouth's of everyone in the family. So I was a bit surprised to hear from him.

His manner of speech was laced with words straight from the thesaurus. But Curt always spoke that way. If it wasn't for that, I truly wouldn't have recognized him based on his voice alone. He even commented that I sounded different. Of course we both realized that we had gotten older...40-ish-something! ;)

Curt did say something both on the phone and in a subsequent email. That I was brilliant.

Er...

Uh...

Huh?

Brilliant is not an adjective that is usually associated with me. Me and brilliant are not usually used in the same sentence unless it is used sarcastically accompanied by eye rolling.

I'm not brilliant by any means. I am simply a man. Flawed. Selfish. Desperately searching for a way to keep even keeled. I have stripped away all of what I've learned and boiled it down to this...

Without Christ, I am nothing. I hold onto the fact that I am His and He holds me in His hands. I could argue the faith, spout the party line, have the right answer at the right time. I could present a man who had it dialed in. And it was all a facade. My house of theological, religious cards was just that....a house of cards. And it fell like houses of cards are wont to do.

You see, I tried everything that came down the pike. All the books, all the programs, all the steps. Anything that promised a "closer walk with Thee". It was crap. It was a replacement for the real thing. It was like drinking RC Cola instead of Coke. (Nothing wrong with RC Cola, especially those of you in the south!) Now I am having to rediscover what it means to be a Child of God all over again. The pisser is, I'm doing this in my 40's instead of my 20's or 30's. Fortunately God is a patient God, a loving God, a gracious God and particularly, a merciful God. Fortunately He allows us the free will to discover things rather than shoving them down our throats.

So, if that's what it takes to be "brilliant"; airing my struggles, my failures, my despair, my triumphs and my discoveries (some of which many of you have already discovered!), then I guess I am brilliant.

Nah...not brilliant. Just human. Flawed and forgiven. Learning to find Jesus' grace in everything. Learning all over that it's Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Solely Jesus.

Curt, I hope that makes sense. Remember, this is a place for ramblings!

Eric