Dynasty Cleaners

While in New York we took two bus tours. They are double deckers with an open top. You can get on and off at any of their many stops. On the up town tour, we were entertained by a New York Native. He was humorous, and like most New York Natives, you could tell that he loved his city. He was engaging, and funny. As he checked everyones tickets he’d ask where we were from. For the rest of the tour he reffered to us all by our city or Country, for example, “Hey Sweden, whddya thinka that?” or “Yeah, that’s right. Seattle’s got the answer.”

This video clip was a short segment that made me laugh.

For some dumb reason, I never got his name, so all I can say is: This one’s for you New York

New York

Jeannie and I just got back from three days as New York tourists. We are exhausted and exhilarated from the trip. From John’s Pizzeria near Times Square, to Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village, to the “street meat” from the ubiquitous carts, we ate ourselves silly. We saw sights from tour buses and on foot. We saw clubs in the Village where Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix saw their careers take off, and we saw the apartment building where John Lennon’s life came to an end. We saw the Broadway show, “In The Heights”, which was a Latin music delight, followed by Irish music at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle, Times Square.

Everywhere we went was the cacophony of just about every language on earth along with a couple that might well have been extra terrestrial. It’s a strange and wonderful music.

On the New Jersey Transit #190 bus back to our hotel, we were pelted by an Old Testament style hail storm. It sounded like the bus was being struck by a million rocks. Minutes away from our hotel, Monday Night Football was delayed by 45 minutes due to the storm.

I was struck by the police presence in the city. Everywhere in Manhattan, there were pairs of NYPD officers keeping a watchful eye, while at the same time acting as walking information centers for tourists like us, looking for an address, or the nearest subway entrance. They all showed remarkable patience in what has to be a job that’s as stressful as you could have.

I confess to having had a long term antipathy toward New Yorkers, mostly the Yankees and denizens of their stadium. It’s easy to hate the teams that always beat your team, (along with their gloating fans.) The Yankees had just swept the Twins (again) so there were no home play-off games while we were there, sparing me from having to endure Yankee Mania up close. Having said that, I must cleanse my soul with another confession: The people I encountered were warmer than their reputation. Most of them seemed to go out of their way to show their city in a good light. They are generally not as laid back as us West Coasters, and seem to have a higher baseline stress level than most Americans. They may not suffer fools gladly, and boy do the drivers love their horns. Obviously, I didn’t encounter every New Yorker. There are criminals, and those who just aren’t nice people. I didn’t meet any of them. Those I met truly love their city. I didn’t buy an I heart NY shirt, but I came away with a new found respect for the City and it’s people. Still don’t like the Yankees though.

Bulletin Board Material

Welcome to this weeks edition of Christians Behaving Badly. Our special guest this week is Reverend Terry Jones, of Gainesville Florida. Reverend Jones and his mega church of about 30 or so loving followers of Jesus have announced that they will be burning the Koran on September 11. This is to further demonstrate their belief that “Islam is the devil’s religion”. He cites constitutional protection for this event. It’s the same protection claimed by flag burners.

Burning Koran

Jihadist Recruiting Poster

Those who’ve ever been involved in a sport that receives press coverage, have probably heard the term “Bulletin Board Material” This refers to negative remarks by a member of one team about an upcoming opponent. Invariably, the coach of the team that has been so dissed, will put the clipping containing said negative remarks on a bulletin board for his team to read, in the hopes of stirring anger and hopefully increasing the motivation of his own team. Coaches hate it when their players give bulletin board material to the press.

Reverend Jones is giving some prime bulletin board material. In fact, I’m willing to wager that a picture of him holding a flaming copy of the Koran will become the Jihad’s best recruiting Poster. (As if 72 virgins in Heaven weren’t enough)

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I hope the government doesn’t try to prevent the good reverend, because he does have a constitutional right to do this. I hope he decides not to because it isn’t Christ-like. He should abide by the words of the one he claims to follow.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’

44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they?

47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?

48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Just sayin’…

Fathers Day Memories

On Father’s Day, I reflect on how much easier a time I had growing up than my dad did. In general, people of our generation had it easier than our parent’s generation did. There are certainly individual stories along the way that don’t fit that pattern. My dad’s early life fit the pattern and then some.
Joe Hal Harris was born in 1930 to an unwed young woman in Houston, Texas. The last name given on his birth certificate was after Harris County where they resided. The name Lee came a few years later when he was adopted by a step father. He never met his biological father, and never knew his name until much later in life.
My dad didn’t talk a lot about his early days, at least not the negative aspects. He didn’t clam up and pretend none of it happened, he just didn’t dwell on it. I knew that he lived in a few different foster homes while quite young due to health issues my grandmother was dealing with. He would go home to her on weekends sometimes. What he didn’t talk about was the time that he came home with strap marks across his back and legs. He’d been beaten with a thick belt by the foster father. He was three years old! What could a three year old possibly do to merit that?
He was cooking for his little brother at age 4-5. Fortunately, he was taken in by a godly couple for many years. They remained a part of his life and Dan and Vivian were a third set of grandparents for me. They were the main positive influence in his life.

The 1947 Texas City Disaster April 16 & 17, 1947

Six months before his 17th birthday, he was serving as a Red Cross volunteer, when the Texas City Disaster occurred. This again was never talked about much. My dad wasn’t one to speak much about his feelings. All he said was that he had to pick up some body parts. It wasn’t until recently that I saw some television footage of what happened. Between 500 – 600 people died that day, not counting foreign seamen and undocumented workers. Hundreds of those didn’t just die, they were blown to pieces. I can’t imagine myself doing that when I was that age. My biggest concern, was whether or not my car would impress the girls. I can’t imagine walking through the aftermath of those explosions and fires without being permanently scarred.
My dad served in the US Army during the Korean War. He was a medic, so I don’t imagine he was on the USO Bob Hope show duty. He never talked much about Korea; just that the winters were unbearably cold.
There are prisons and mental facilities filled with people who had lives similar to his. He never learned to be a victim. His early life was the re-bar that kept him going.
After he came back from Korea, he was stationed in New York City, where he met and married my mom. The Army sent them to Germany, where I was born. This was a paradise time for my dad. Europe was something that he always talked about. There was none of the trauma that formed him in his earlier years.

Dad, and Mom and Me with My mom's family

After his discharge from the army, we lived for a year or so in Houston. This is where my father’s character changed our lives forever, for the better. The time in Houston was not what he’d probably hoped. This was his home after all. There was friction generated by his former townfolk. It seems that there were people there who didn’t take kindly to my white, Anglo-Saxon dad being married to my Hispanic mom.
He worked for the local Boys Club (Now known as Boys and Girls Club). What I never knew until we were planning his memorial service, was that one week, he was trying to put a baseball team together. He told the kids to go home and bring some friends back so that they’d have enough for a team.
The next day, they returned with enough for a team. One of the new boys was black. The boss called my dad aside and said, “You need to tell that boy he can’t play.”
To make it short, my dad refused, and quit the job. Two weeks later we had a U-Haul trailer packed and headed for California. That’s remarkable to me for a white man of his generation, raised in the part of the country that he was.
My uncle, in San Francisco was arranging an apartment for us. Ironically, in San Francisco, so many miles away from the bigotry of the south, the landlord wouldn’t rent to us until he could see that my dad wasn’t Chinese with the name Lee.
During my childhood, he worked full time grave yard, and went to school full time, as well as serving as the football teams athletic trainer. Sleep? I guess that was for wimps. It wasn’t easy time for any of us, but we got through it.
When he was rewarded for his work with the job he’d have ’til he retired, he had his choice of neighborhoods. He chose the neighborhood that fed the high school with the most diverse ethnic diversity. He wanted us to have the advantage of being in a multicultural environment. For that, I could never thank him enough.
Was he the perfect father? Far from it. Did we have the perfect father-son relationship? No we didn’t. He taught me some things. Don’t whine, don’t quit, and don’t make excuses. That’s how he lived.
On December 6th 2003, I was holding his hand as his spirit passed from his body to be with the Lord. This being Father’s Day, I’m remembering things. I’m wishing he’d had a few more years so that I might pry some more history out of him. He was stubborn though, so I may never have succeeded.
Happy Fathers Day, in Honor of Joe Hal Lee.

Hope for a New Life

The Genesis Project is about to get rolling. The Genesis Project’s mission is to offer hope for a new life to young women between the ages of 11 to 24 involved in domestic minor sex trafficking in South King County. As a non-profit outreach of The Corridor, The Genesis Project exists to offer hope for a new life to young women and girls involved in Domestic Minor Sex-Trafficking (DMST) in the South King County area.


Consider becoming a Founder by committing to donate $100.00 a month to The Genesis Project.

If 365 individuals/groups/organizations commit to donating $100.00 a month, The Genesis Project will have reached it’s funding needs for the year!

From the “You Gotta be Kidding” Dept.

This was on ESPN.com:

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A House subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system to determine a national champion, over the objections of some lawmakers who said Congress had more pressing matters on its plate.

The bill, which faces long odds of becoming law, would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I football game as a national championship unless that title contest is the result of a playoff. The measure passed by voice vote in a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee, with one audible “no,” from Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.

“With all due respect, I really think we have more important things to spend our time on,” Barrow said before the vote, although he stressed he didn’t like the current Bowl Championship Series, either.

The bill’s sponsor, GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, said the BCS system is unfair and won’t change unless prompted by Congress.

Thank you Rep. John Barrow, Democrat from Georgia for being the voice of sanity in a congress gone wacky. We’ve got double digit unemployment, banks still giving bonuses with tax money, and borders that we cannot seem to afford to secure. We now have congressmen in a sub committee trying to pass a law meddling in college sports? College sports is part of the entertainment industry. I sincerely believe that they have better things to do on our dime.
The bill’s sponsor is Joe Barton of Texas. This is a republican; you know, the party of small government. Wait, did I say Texas? Well I guess that explains things. Football is the state religion of Texas. Hmmm… Does this mean they’re venturing into the realm of “Church and State?
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress: Please stay out of College Football. I know Their championship system is lame, and perhaps for some, unfair. Maybe there should be a tournament. (but for Pete’s sake, they’ll be playing til March) Let them work it out. Let the consumers put the pressure on them to make changes. You guys have more important things to do.

Another One

I was listening to the news on the radio this evening when I heard the name Brad Agerup, teacher at Mariner H.S. He was one of thebilde four people who were killed by a drunk driver Sunday. The news shook me. In the late seventies, Brad and both I worked in the minor league system of the San Diego Padres. Over the years we …would bump into each other at Athletic Trainer Association meetings, and functions.

It’s been many years since I last saw Brad, but reading of how his students felt about him, moved me. Along with Brad, his wife Melissa, and their two neighbors, also lost their lives.
Brad and Melissa have left behind 16 and 18 year old Daughters. These girls have had both their parents ripped from their lives in an instant. I am so pissed right now. This marks three people that I have known who are no longer with us because of drunk driving.
In 1981, I was arrested for drunk driving. I thank God for that, because it stopped me from ever doing it again. I thank God it happened before I killed someone or myself.  I pray that  Matthew McDonald, the driver who did this will never be able to do it again. If you drink and drive, please stop!

How Many Bibles

bibleA while ago I was in a local Christian bookstore. I found myself browsing the Bible section of the store. I was struck by the variety of bibles there were to choose from.
First off, there are the various translations. Biblica.com lists 16 different English translations of the Bible. King James, New King James, NIV, The Good News Bible, The Message, The New Living Translation, The New American Standard Bible, etc. Then within different translations there are different versions. The NIV has the Study Bible, the Life Application Bible, The Student Bible, Young Readers Bible… you get the picture. These various styles within the different translations have different notes, and study aids. Then you’ve got the Men’s devotional Bible, the Sports Devotional Bible, the Women’s devotional Bible. Wow. In China, the small, non-government-sanctioned churches that meet secretly in homes, share pages of bible with each other. They memorize the page, and then pass it on. Once upon a time, the bible only came in Latin. It was considered blasphemous to print a bible in the reader’s own language. It’s nice to be able to have one in your language with a style you can understand.
What I found a little crazy was the “celebrity” Bibles. There’s the New Spirit-Filled Life Daily Bible by Jack Hayford, The Everyday Life Bible: The Power of God’s Word for Everyday Living by Joyce Meyer, Hope for Today Bible by Joel Osteen, Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible: King James Version, Holy Bible, Woman Thou Art Loosed Edition by TD Jakes, The Master’s Healing Presence Bible By Benny Hinn Ministries.
I had to chuckle. Would having Joel Osteen’s name on my Bible make me more cheerful? I would be leery about putting my name on a Bible. It seems like a lot of pressure to put on one’s self.
What’s next, the Barney, “I Love you, You Love Me” Bible?
If it get’s someone to buy it, I guess whatever works…

Nobel Noise

peace

I debated commenting on this. There are people on both sides of the political divide who feel quite strongly one way or the other. I was surprised when I woke to the news that Barack Obama was this year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn’t say that I was upset about it, just surprised. I don’t know who the other nominees were. For that matter, I don’t know who I would have nominated if I had a vote.
The Nobel Prize Internet Archive has a list of Peace Prize winners from 1901 to 2009.
http://nobelprizes.com/nobel/peace/peace.html

Scanning the list, you’ll see the names you would expect to see. There’s Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu. A name glaringly absent, in my opinion, is Ghandi. How can that be? A winner that probably drew more gasps than our president’s has was Yassir Arafat. The first U.S. President to win it was Theodore Roosevelt, in 1906 for drawing up the peace treaty between Russia and Japan. This is the third time a U.S. President has received it. The second while in office. Jimmy Carter was the recipient in 2002, 22 years after he was president.

Evidently, the nominations took place in February, less than a month after inauguration day. Seems a little premature to me. I’m hoping that during his tenure in the White House, he will do much to merit the prize. No individual has ever won it twice. (The Red Cross has been awarded twice, during both World Wars)

What puzzles me is the gnashing of teeth that’s been going on in the political Red Zones. You would think that the prize had been given to Bin Laden, or to Hugo Chavez. The Blue guys have been a little defensive, quick to champion the choice, pointing out all the reasons why it was justified. People, people, let’s take a deep breath. Everybody seems to be taking this thing way too personal.

Facebook has been awash with “Does he Deserve it?” polls. I’ve boycotted those. I can’t give a yes or no. I haven’t seen any with an “I don’t know/care” option. It all boils down to this: It’s not my call. The Nobel people can give their prizes to whomever they choose. The only way it would truly affect my life would be if they gave it to me.

Should he? Shouldn’t he? Some are suggesting he decline it. (That would be disrespectful) Maybe he got the award simply because they like him. Having people around the world liking the U.S. President isn’t a bad thing. It’s been a while. Perhaps they look at it as a preemptive strike. What world leader who was the owner of a Nobel Peace Prize could ever declare war on anyone.

We did What to the Moon?

NASA crashed a missile on the moon early this morning. Did you happen to see it? I didn’t stay up for it. I guess it didn’t look like much from here. Something about it doesn’t seem right. I’m a pro NASA guy. I believe in space exploration. We’ve spent the money on much more wasteful things. Evidently, the purpose was to stir up the moon dirt beneath the surface to see what’s there. Maybe water?

Trip_01

It’s just the way it was presented. They told us they are going to shoot a missile at the moon. Sounds violent. Maybe if they’d given it some sort of fancy scientific title. I guess no harm was done. Or was it?  Hope they find something worthwhile.