Monday, December 31, 2007

So another year has past and a new one has begun. It’s time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Ok, that is what everyone says and few do. I did a little of both yesterday and this evening. I remember that 2007 was a year full of big failings, large mess-ups and great disappointments and if I stopped there depression would be my best friend, but 2007 was much more than that. There were small victories, like losing 30+ pounds, being slightly more consistent in daily routines, and going to church more often. This year was also a year when God showed Himself to me in mighty ways and with grace beyond measure. The entire ordeal of my herniated disc showed me much of God and led me to a closer relationship with Him. He taught me faith, chastised me for failing to bring glory to Him through my relationships with my employees and partner. He burdened me to be content in whatever situation He places me. 2007 was a good year.

Now on to 2008. The question on my board for this year is: “Where are you?”

God asked Adam this when he sinned, not because God didn’t know where he was, but He asked to make Adam consider his actions and decisions. I will be asking myself that question this year to make me think about what I am doing every day. Am I closer to God? Am I more disciplined? Am I closer to being debt-free? Am I closer to finishing my novel? I could go on, but you get the point. I spent an hour or two tonight writing out a list of goals for 2008. I am on the second page and am not done. I know ‘they’ say not to bite off more than you can chew, but I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I also know there is a lot that Eric has been slacking on and it is time to wake up and get to work.

Well, the party is over, the reveling is done. It’s time to buckle down and make 2008 remarkable.

Happy New Year, y’all!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


A swinging good Christmas!

I celebrated Christmas with my daughters and one daughter's boyfriend today. It was FANTASTIC! I have two daughters, Jeni & Laura and a 'daughter', Marla that I sort of adopted. My youngest daughter's best friend, is basically a part of my family now,so I say I have 3 daughters. When the girls came over this afternoon and added their presents for me and each other, my tree looked like it was being overwhelmed. The girls were insightful in their gift buying, not only buying things off my list, but since I like to cook and they like it when I cook, they decided I needed some things to cook with and filled my kitchen with new kitchen wares. This is especially nice, since I will be moving into a new town home in a month or so and would love to start my kitchen off right. I was able to give them a surprise or two, so the gift giving was great.

The highlight of the evening came with their final three gifts for me. First, I opened a gift to discover a silk white tie, then another revealed a pair of white suspenders and finally a five dollar bill. I was literally scratching my head trying to figure out the significance, when Laura gave me the clue that tied the gifts together, swing dance lessons and dancing. Laura has been swing dancing for sometime, she met her boyfriend swing dancing. She has wanted me to go for the longest time and I have wanted to, but have always been too busy. The girls decided to find the time for me. They wanted me to look the swing dance era part and they all wanted to dress up, so that explains the gifts. I must say, I did look dapper! Now, if all it took to be a good swing dancer was looking good, I would have been a star. Unfortunately, you have to learn some steps and put them together with some spins and a partner and music and well, let's just say, I need more practice. I had a blast, even being nervous about having 3 left feet, didn't stop me from having fun. This was Jeni's first time as well and she took to it like a fish to water. I am so busy concentrating on the steps that I lose the music, so my natural rhythm is stymied and when I focus on the song, I forget the steps and then get flustered. I am going to find some links that teach this and practice, so I can catch up to Laura & Robert (her boyfriend) and keep up with Jeni & Marla. This wasn't Marla's first time and you could tell. She helped me some with keeping my body centered. Marla's brother Michael-b went with us. He has learned some from Laura and Marla, but this was his first time at the club. It was like pulling teeth to get him to leave when we were headed to Denny's. He was good and smooth with the ladies.
I think for me, the best part of tonight was simply having the family together and having fun. I miss that and thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God gave what man needed even when man didn't want it.

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A proud dad showing off his daughter's work.

I'm going to be a typical dad and show off a paper my youngest daughter recently turned in for her English class at North Greenville University. She is an excellent writer and this paper really shows that.

Enjoy:

Harmonious Dissonance:

African-American Cultural Hybridity in the Harlem Renaissance

Voices heard or unheard, voices of different tone and pitch, voices from different walks of life, voices lyrical and poetic, voices direct or even mundane have called out, intertwined in struggle and purpose, exposing the harmonious dissonance that is African-American identity. Pulled from a swamp of oppression, ill treatment, and shame, African-Americans in the 1920’s faced a social atmosphere of racial tension, which required them to face head-on the problem of double consciousness. Would the black man become “white” in order to gain acceptance in culture? Would he dull his “African-ness” and become a whispered African in order to become a shouted American? Did only the racist majority define a black woman by the color of her skin or did she confine herself to be dictated by her exterior in the name of black pride or supporting the beauty of her race?

The voices of the Harlem Renaissance speak to this plight. Looking through the lens of American literature, specifically that of the Harlem Renaissance, one can gain incredible insight into the struggle of cultural hybridity for the African American. The literature exposes the precarious balance between African and American and the fight for the ability to enjoy one’s current country and yet remember one’s roots. Not every voice within the era sang the same tune. Some voices rang out deep and strong for the beauty of the African race and defied any attempt to be made white, while others sang their own song as an individual and sought to keep race on the exterior instead of internalizing it into who they were as a human being.

Langston Hughes

“One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, ‘I want to be a poet – not a Negro poet,’ meaning, I believe, ‘ I want to write like a white poet’; meaning subconsciously ‘I would like to be a white poet’; meaning behind that, ‘I would like to be white.’ And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.” (Hughes 1512) This quote from Hughes epitomizes the driving force behind Hugh’s mentality. Langston Hughes possessed a strong African voice. He spoke out against the black culture of the day that, in his eyes, tried to be as white as possible in order to fit in and have a successful life. Hughes saw this as a denial of an African-American’s true identity and an affront to black culture. To Hughes, the greatest thing was to be black and to be proud of it. In his poem “I, Too” he unveils this superior mentality through the smug laughter of the narrator. Even though the white men had always demeaned the black man, he stood strong and proud of his beauty and worth. Hughes wrote a series of short stories entitled, “Laughing to Keep From Crying” in some of which he portrayed multiple situations of black men with white men and the ensuing events depicting the social landscape and attempting to bring out the superiority of African-Americans. Hughes’s voice was very clear on his opinion concerning race. The black race was a beautiful race that had been suppressed and denied the right to glory in their worth. Hughes used his pen to paint African colors and emotions in such a way that would inspire his race to rise up and take a stand. Hughes’s works teemed with the theme of African-American identity and he pushed with all of his might that African-American’s might recognize their heritage and beauty instead of assimilating into the colorless world around them.

Claude McKay

“For the dim regions whence my fathers came / My spirit, bondaged by the body, longs.” ( 1922) Claude McKay’s voice joined Langston Hughes in his support of the African portion of the African-American identity. Although not an American by birth, McKay’s literature addresses keenly the struggle of the African-American, and his work speaks to suppression of African culture. The above quote is from McKay’s poem “Outcast” which bemoans the loss of the African-American’s identity due to the influence of the west. When McKay penned the words, “My soul would sing forgotten jungle songs. / But the great western world holds me in fee, / And I may never hope for full release / While to its alien gods I bend my knee, / Something in me is lost, forever lost, / Some vital thing has gone out of my heart, / And I must walk the way of life a ghost” (1689) he vibrantly illustrated what occurred when, from his perspective, African American’s became “Americanized.” The “whitening” of a black man was more than just an accommodation or assimilation; it was a stealing of soul and worth. A black man under the intense pressure of a white world was not free to be who he really was. McKay, like Hughes, depicted this struggle and painted pictures of African-American culture. He used his voice to sing out in harmony with Hughes to support the African of an African-American.

Zora Neal Hurston

“But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. … Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster.” (Hurston 1711) In dissonance with the songs of Hughes and McKay, the song Hurston sings sounds less strongly of black pride, and heavier of individuality. Rather than depicting the pain, sorrow and oppression of African-American culture and allowing the promotion of her race to drive her, Hurston used her knowledge of her culture and study of the oral narrative tradition to present balanced pictures of African-American life. She did write about her culture and history, but not with the same driving passion and burning anger and resentment of Hughes. Hurston sought to balance her life as an individual with her roots and her depiction of that in her writing. In “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” Hurston uses the analogy of colored bags containing basically the same contents, give or take an item or two to describe humans of different skin color. Unlike Hughes’s and McKay’s poetry intertwining so deeply the color of a man’s skin to his soul, Hurston uses this analogy to show that the color of skin, the exterior need not define the soul of a being. While not dismissing the culture and totally assimilating into a white world, Hurston’s voice sang a different tune than that of other authors during the Harlem Renaissance by pulling a step back and identifying herself as an individual rather than a black woman.

Phylis Wheatly

“'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land, / Taught my benighted soul to understand / That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too: / Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. / Some view our sable race with scornful eye, / "Their colour is a diabolic die." / Remember, Christians, Negro's, black as Cain, / May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.” (Wheatly) While not actually a writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Phylis Wheatly was the first black woman poet and offers a distinctly different song. In the struggle of African-American hybridity and the fight for identity, the voice of Phylis Wheatly sings a sweeter, calmer, more peaceful song. Wheatly herself was a slave and of all of these writers seems to have the most reason to be bitter and fight for black freedom and pride. However, while in slavery, Wheatly was introduced to Christ and became a believer. This transformation in her life caused her to find blessing in what others considered the worst curse. Wheatly’s treatment of America within her literature was gracious and loving, for it was the place that brought her to her Savior. The slave ship was not a ship of death and oppression for Wheatly. She even chose to keep the name given her by her owners, which is something that would have been an affront to the later African-American writers like Hughes. This first published black woman author presents irony when contrasted to the later Harlem Renaissance authors, but her calm peaceful tone as a result of the change Christ had made in her heart might be a healing balm in the wounds of present day African-American culture if one looks deeper for the reason, and sees Christ, not an African-American woman selling out to the white world around her.

Jazz

“Jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro Soul – the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.” (Hughes 1512) Langston Hughes’s “definition” of jazz begins to touch on the importance of this music to African-American culture. With so many voices intertwining in this identity struggle, jazz was almost a centralization, a unified voice of African-American identity. Rooted in the Negro spirituals and some would claim, even deeper in African music, jazz is truly African-American, truly hybrid. The rise in urbanization brought spirituals to the city and intertwined the city life of black men and women with the rhythms and soulful expressions of African music. Langston Hughes viewed jazz as essential to African-American culture and used it as a voice to speak the heart of his people. “The Weary Blues” takes on the form and rhythm of the music it depicts and the reader can almost feel more of the meaning within this poem than he could read straight off of the page. Zora Neal Hurston, in “How it Feels to be Colored Me”, seems to claim that one of the differences between her race and others is contained within the ability to relate to jazz. As an African-American, this music speaks deep into her soul and pulls from within her the African that sometimes lies sleeping, while a white man simply enjoys the toe-tapping tunes he hears. The syncopation and improvisation of jazz broke into the heavily structured music around it and awoke something within listeners that gave it a communicative ability unmatched, some would claim even to this day. Jazz affected the form of literature by infusing a musical strain into words, but it also dug deep into the struggle and soul of a culture. The music that originated simply within the African-American sphere spread like wildfire and transformed the whole of musicality. “The ability of African performance arts to transform the European tradition of composition while assimilating some of its elements is perhaps the most striking and powerful evolutionary force in the history of modern music.” (Gioia 8) The power that jazz possessed within culture could have stemmed from many things, but when considered in conjunction with the literature and the social landscape of the time, it seems that some of its power comes from the fire it was born out of. Jazz is not simply a little tune someone came up with one day; Jazz is the expression of thousands of souls, the cries of millions of voices, the heartbeat of a culture steeped in turmoil. With that source, it is no wonder that it transformed the landscape of music.

The unique, harmonious yet dissonant song of hybridity for the African-American weaved throughout a tumultuous landscape in the 1920’s and further and left that land forever changed. What is an African-American? No unified answer responds to that haunting question. Even into the present authors and artists still fight for a definition. The struggle, however, left behind a beautiful legacy and inspired a nation. This battle for identity continues almost inevitably because the tension forever remains. The hyphen always separates the African from the American, but somewhere along the line there comes a recognition of an identity that does not lose itself in that struggle.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Things are seldom what they seem.

Like most people, I make snap judgments about people based on their surface behavior. I bark at the woman who takes my spot at the gas station. I shake my head at the parent that appears to be neglecting their child at the store. I listen to people say things about family, friends, co-workers, bosses, neighbors, etc. and decide I know enough about these people to form an intelligent opinion. When in reality, I don't know enough, I don't have all the facts, I may very well be wrong in my opinion.

We tend to forget that people are the sum of their life experiences, that people can be annoying and endearing, lazy and hard working, polite and rude all in one body. We seldom can be defined by one action or one series of actions. Sure, people have distinct personalities, they display repetitive behaviors, but these things are not necessarily who they are.

The clerk that does not fawn over you like you are the greatest person she has ever met when you buy your soda and candy bar might not even be responding to you. She may be sad and distracted because her child is at home sick and she can't be there to take care of him. She might have just been cussed at by the last three customers and is simply wanting to avoid #4. She might be attracted to you, but is painfully shy. She might also be a rude, arrogant person. The point is, give people the benefit of the doubt. Also, it is not all about you.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

All restrictions lifted.

Sounds like I was just let out of "time-out". In actuality, that was what my surgeon told me today. She said that since she was certain that she removed all the offending disc, and since I appear to feel absolutely, positively no pain, that I can resume my old life style. Ok, not quite my old life style. I realized after I left her office that I will have to adjust how I do things if I want to see her again only in the supermarket, theater, etc. I have always been the "big guy", the guy everyone turns to when they need to move or they need some heavy work done. I also am the guy that gets frustrated waiting for help moving things and simply muscles through. No more! I have to be smart, lift properly, wait for help, allow others (preferably younger "big guys") to do some of the work. This will be especially trying when I am on a job site, wanting to get started and there is some over-sized file cabinet that MUST be moved before we can start. I will fight the urge to just shove it out of the way myself. I think I can adjust. I also have to begin the stretching and strengthening exercises that Dr. Mina gave me. I need to make this as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. Problem is, brushing my teeth never takes 45 minutes, so I will have to work on it.

I am so blessed and can not stop praising Him for his help in all things disc related.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

So much happens on the way to blogging!

I have intended to, planned to, decided to, etc, blog for days now. Lately, I have felt that my life was like a journey down a river. Sometimes, I have enjoyed floating carelessly in a sturdy paddle boat on a slow meandering river, being lulled into a peaceful state of mind. Other times, I have been desperately clinging to a thin piece of cardboard as I hurtle down a Class 6 white water rapids, certain that things couldn't get worse, only to find that they can! I know that sounds overly dramatic, but at times, it fairly describes what is occurring in my life. I am learning to be content in both situations and the myriad of experiences that fall between the two extremes. Often, I have wanted to stop and blog about things, good, bad and indifferent, but I don't. I come to this page, sign in and stop, wondering, "Do you really want to hear this?" "What should I say?" "Forget it, I will do this tomorrow." Thus, no new entries. Maybe I will write again soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ahhh, finally a great work weekend!

How do I express my immense satisfaction at how this past weekend's work went? I had two potentially difficult jobs to do. Jobs where I would have to rely one of my helpers to run the buffer because I have not been released by Dr. Mina to do work. Adding to my possible migraine was concern about whether I would have sufficient numbers of workers to accomplish the tasks and whether those workers would be up to the job, physically and mentally.

Not only did I not run into the problems I envisioned, the jobs ran smoother than any had in a long time. The guys worked together like cogs in a well-oiled machine. My #1 man ran the buffer and basically, the job, like it was second nature to him. Oh, and the floors turned out fabulous.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Irony is life's gift to the arrogant!

A friend of mine related this story recently and I had to post it here. He owns a small business and has a valued employee who is very sure of himself. His opinions are golden. Wrong is a word from a foreign language to him. My friend mentioned that he had hired a guy to help them on one job. His employee said that he was not happy about the hiring. He had seen the guy before, had brief, meaningless small talk with him and had concluded that there was something wrong with him, some character flaw, something that he knew would make him not be able to work with the new guy. This employee mentioned his displeasure with this one time addition on a number of occasions, not being able to point out a specific problem, but reiterating that he KNEW that this new guy was going to say or do something on the job that would cause him to get upset and it would not be a good thing. My friend held firm to his decision feeling that his own assessment of the new employee, based on observing him working elsewhere and comments by others who worked around him were more valid than a nebulous 'gut-feeling' The day came for the job and my friend started the day with a small sense of impending doom, fearing a clash of personalities. His fears were unwarranted. The new guy worked well with the 'knowing' employee and the rest of the crew. They all got along seemingly well, even to the point of the valued employee talking about using the new guy on another job, bigger and more important. My friend said the highlight of his day came as the crew sat around and chatted. The new guy mentioned that he had decided that the valued employee was not the friendly type and was a bit surly. He said that he just knew this from the few times they had briefly spoken, said he could tell things about people from just one or two meetings. He said he sometimes just knew that some folks were a certain way, by merely meeting them.
Can you say IRONY?

Friday, November 09, 2007

The world would be a great place to live if we could just get rid of all the people!

I get so tired of people sometimes. Being a property manager of an apartment complex, esp. of a complex that is being remodeled and owing a small business which requires having helpers and clients leads to the inevitable frustration of dealing with people. I get tired of people straining to find ways to get over on you or get out their responsibilities. I am exhausted from dealing with arrogance, self-absorption, childish behavior, personality clashes, hypocrisy, and laziness. I can hardly keep my head up from the daily stupidity I see. And when I take a minute from condemning the entire human race, I have to look at one of the biggest frustrations in human form...ME. Just when I get going full steam ahead on a track of self righteousness, I get derailed because I have to see my own failings and I must stop to take the beam out of my own eye.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Now that doesn't add up.

Take the bills for my regular physician add to them the charges I incurred from physical therapy, add the MRI bill and Dr. Mina's cost for my surgery and the amount that the anesthesiologist hit me with for his services during surgery and you would still be $10, 000.00 short of what it costs me to spend about 7 hours in the hospital. I received the bill for the hospital charges today. The total charge was $22, 504.50. That figure breaks down to a little over $2, 800.00 an hour or $46.00 a minute. No wonder many people don't get the health care they desperately need. I am blessed because God worked it out so I am receiving financial aid through the hospital's donor program. I actually only have to pay $1437.00. Of course, that brings me to another question, if I only have to pay $1437.00, shouldn't that be what they charge me, and not that heart-stopping figure?

I am reading David McCullough's John Adams. I am so glad I asked my daughter to let me read the book after here. I am learning loads of information about John Adams, the early days of our country and politics. One of the refreshing things I have gleaned from this book is the aspects of a great woman. Abigail Adams was a great woman. I want my daughters to emulate her. She was devoted to her husband, loved him without bounds, dreaded to be without him and felt it her duty to make sure he was all he could be, but my praise for her does not stop there, no I am more impressed that she was this way while simultaneously being intelligent, out-spoken, independent, industrious, creative, and eager to learn everything she could. My kind of woman!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Today was a great day!
I received the surgeons official bill today. Yes, I know that that does not sound like the makings of even a fair day, and it gets even less likely to make one do handstands for joy. The bill was approximately $1000.00 more than the estimate. So how does this constitute a great day? The bill started with the eye-popping figure, but ended with a final balance owed of approximately $1600.00 less than I expected. I had forgotten that Dr. Mina's office manager had told me that they give a discount to cash paying patients. Now, I call this a fabulous discount. Now, you see one of the reasons that today was a great day.

The other reason that I am typing this with a smile on my face is that my 19 yr old college student daughter spent a few hours with her dad and we successfully experimented in the kitchen with a dish that I humbly suggest one of the restaurant chains like Ruby Tuesday should add to their menu. Ok, so maybe the whole restaurant-worthy fare is a bit of an overstatement, but it was good. This whole enjoyable afternoon and earlier evening fun with Laura, began as simply a desire of mine to play around in the kitchen, maybe make something tasty. I was thinking about a dish that was heavy with various squashes and chicken. As I contemplated cooking, I decided to see if Laura was busy. She had plans to go to a football game with her gentleman friend later in the evening, but said she would enjoy a little foray into culinary experimentation. I will skip to the actual dish, noting first that I have never been a huge fan of peppers of any kind, a few finely diced in a meal won't make me run away screaming, but they are not my first choice. We sauteed, in olive oil, some green, yellow, and orange peppers, added fresh garlic, two small slices of jalapeno pepper some roasted red peppers and mushrooms. Then we added a spicy wine based tomato sauce, lightly. We didn't want a heavy sauce, more of a base to help the veggies stick to the fusilli pasta. We added this mixture to the chopped chicken cooking in another sauce pan , and let it simmer. We served it over the fusilli and it was awesome. The fact that it was not a heavy sauce made the dish even better, because we were able to enjoy the individual tastes of the veggies and chicken, as well as the blending. What was amazing to me, was that my daughter had sliced the peppers in long slices, no dicing at all and I loved them, even picking a couple out of the pan as they sauteed and eating them.
I did discover a great need in my kitchen, cooking tools that actually work, esp. knives. Since I have been a fast food addict for so long, Wal-Mart knives are the fare in my kitchen and that resulted in Laura struggling to slice pepper, really, slicing peppers was difficult. So when the apartment complex here is finished remodeling and I move into the new office apartment, I am throwing myself a house-warming party, so remember, bring kitchen utensils!

Monday, October 29, 2007

I can drive!!!

No, I am not referring to the fact that I know how to drive or that I have a license. Since my surgery, I have been under doctor's orders to not drive. I can tell I live in a community where driving is paramount, because if I lived in NYC or Chicago, the fact that I haven't driven for the past week would not register at all. But here in good ole, Greenville, SC, we drive everywhere, probably far too much and definitely too often for unnecessary trips and by ourselves. We need to learn to combine trips and car pool, you know, 'save the planet and all'. Anyways, I have not been happy with no driving. I dislike bothering other folks and asking for favors. Today, in my first follow-up visit to the surgeon's office, the restriction against driving was lifted with the exception of long trips.

Unfortunately, that was about the only restriction that was lifted. I still can't lift anything over 5lbs, can't bend at the waist(which none of us probably should do), no twisting at the waist(and I was going to enter a Chubby Checkers contest...jk) or raise my arms over my head. Looks like work will be out of the question for the next month. The most frustrating restriction is that I am still not allowed to sleep on my stomach. I always sleep on my stomach, but not for another month. I must look funny when I sleep, because in order to avoid rolling over onto my stomach in my sleep I have placed a bedspread rolled up in the middle of my bed and I have woken up on more than one occasion laying on my side, like I am spooning the bed spread. No, I don't need a woman!

Friday, October 26, 2007

War, huh yeah, What's it good for?

That's the way Edwin Starr's anti-war song begins. The song decries war, protesting that war is never good, that it only causes pain and suffering. I can't say I completely agree. There are times when a nation needs to defend itself and this leads to war. I will agree that we, as humans, are far too eager to solve problems with our fists, guns, bombs, and any other tool of suffering we can conceive. Tonight I heard a song by the country duo, Big and Rich that memorialized a sad day in our military history in Vietnam: the ambush of the 173 Airborne division. As I listened to the song, I remarked to myself how many songs we have that honor war time events, our military, and wars in general. That thought was followed quickly by the sad realization of how unreal war seems to most Americans, esp. the current one. It is easier to blindly support anything related to our military or mindlessly protest anything war related. We are told that we can not shy away the killing of human beings, because that means we are unpatriotic and uncaring about the dangers facing our nation. We are also told we can not wish for success of our troops, or the final defeat of the terrorists because that means we condone killing of innocents and condone the attitude that might makes right. Both positions are wrong. We need to view war honestly and be less eager to kill, but more determined to fight for what is right.
One week of recovering!

I made it. Pain removed, strength zapped, lessons on being less than independent being learned, all in all a good week.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What a weakling!

I pushed a dust mop SLOWLY around one of my buildings last night. I wanted to get a feel for what shape I was in. I am a wuss! Ok, not really, but doing that little bit drained me. It is amazing to me how surgery can wipe you out.

I still have a little pain, mostly achy pain. Thank the Lord, the pain from before is completely gone. I can't explain clearly enough the joy I feel for this relief.

When I started posting about my pain and surgery, I had this grand idea that I would have a captivating series of posts about the medical journey from debilitating pain to complete recovery. Well, you see what I got instead is some whining about pain, some interesting observations and then boring posts like:"I have less pain today." Oh well.

This experience and some reports of others who have had to address serious medical conditions without insurance has made me rethink my ideas about our health care system and whether a government run system is the right idea. I'm not yet ready to embrace Uncle Sam running my medical life, but I am firmly convinced that something has to change. I am going to be working on ideas about how to improve our health care system, doing some research and then trying to get others to work with me to see that we can try to change things. I know, us little guys, can't fight "city hall", but if we don't try, nothing is going to change and too many people are going to continue to fall through the cracks and in a country who's history is replete with examples of ingenuity and resourcefulness, that is not acceptable!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Day Three - recovering

So should I continue to give y'all a daily report on my recovery? Well, there really isn't a whole lot to talk about on that front. The pain is getting less each day, and I'm immensely happy with the positive change.

I've walked around the complex a few times since getting back from surgery. It's kind of funny watching, because I walk so gingerly and slowly, someone said they thought I was still under the influence of the pain medication. These past two days have been great for slow strolls. It has been warm with a soft breeze. Tomorrow, I'll get my first trip off the property. My friend is going to pick me up and take me to church.

If y'all are not nodding off yet, I applaud your stamina in the face of boring conversation. Maybe the rest of my posts will be more stimulating.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Day Two-recovering.

Dr. Mina warned me that I might still have pain in my right leg and might even have pain in the left. The Doc knows her stuff! My right leg is almost without pain, but the left leg felt left out over my attention my right leg received, so it decided to join the party. I know now without a doubt that work would have been out of the question if my legs had decided to be a duet in pain. I won't complain about this pain today, because overall I am feeling better than I have in over 6 months, and being able to sit down is a blessing. My recliner felt neglected and has welcomed me back with open arms.

It's good to have friends. Many of the people in my life have been jumping at the chance to give me a hand. I'm truly blessed to have friends.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pain, a thing of the past!

Ok, so my pain is not completely gone. I even have some new pain, but the exhilarating feeling I experienced as I was wheeled out of the hospital, SITTING DOWN, rode home, SITTING DOWN, and while I type this post SITTING in my recliner, is indescribable. As you may have noticed, sitting was the position where the pain was most intense.

This was an interesting experience. As I lay on the gurney in Pre-Op. I realized that my biggest fear was fear of the unknown. Once I realized that, everything was less scary. I even got to enjoy ease dropping on a couple of nurses discussing the pros and cons of Red Lobster's 'Shrimp Night' My conclusion? I think I'll go to Texas Steakhouse.

When the nurse was wheeling me into the operating room, she warned me that the room would be cold, bright and filled with a good size group of people. The room was cold, bright and had one other person in it. I told her that I was disappointed, because I was really looking forward to being a star. :)

One minute I am inhaling "oxygen", the next, I am groggily waking up in a room, not so bright, not so cold and full of people. It was disconcerting to realize that surgery was over and I didn't remember a thing. I knew this is what was going to happen, but it still was disconcerting.

It would not be an episode in my life I didn't make life a bit more difficult. I spent little over an hour in recovery and was feeling fairly good. The nurse checked my blood pressure one more time, giving me a thumbs up and then gave me some privacy to get dressed. I stood up and started dressing, but began to feel light headed and nauseous, so I grabbed hold of the bed. The next thing I remember is thinking, "Why does that nurse look so tall, and why are all these other nurses in here asking me if I hit my head. Apparently, I passed out, and fell to the floor, making a good deal of noise by kicking a tray around. I missed making a shelf pattern on the side of my head. My blood pressure had dropped significantly low and there was concern that I might need to be admitted, but another half an hour with some water and grape juice and I was as good as new.

Dr. Mina found something that wasn't supposed to be in my spine, but that had served to prevent me from experiencing even more pain. I mentioned in an earlier post that Dr. Mina was surprised that I did not have the same pain in my left leg that I was experiencing in my right. During the surgery, she discovered a bone spur that was blocking the herniated part of the disc from pinching the nerve that runs down my left leg. God is good. He knows that if I had the same intense pain in my left leg, I would not have been able to work.

Well, that's enough for now. I thank God and Dr. Mina for the relief.




Wednesday, October 17, 2007

T-minus 1o hrs, 12 minutes!

My surgery has been pushed back 2 hours, so I get to sleep in a little later. I will be going under the knife around dinner time...hmmm, why do I keep thinking about turkeys and Thanksgiving?

I am so ready for the surgery, well at least for the promised relief. I haven't been as nervous as I expected. I think two things have worked to reduce my fear. One is the seemingly vast numbers of folks going under the knife and coming out satisfied with the results. If this we 1907, I might be a tad more worried, but it seems that surgery has become common at the same time as it has become less invasive. The other reason for my reduced fear is that I am confident that surgery is what God wants and either He will see me through it successfully or He has other plans and He will make it work out for my best.

My employees were ruthless today as we worked to day. One of them asked me on the way to the job, "Eric, if you knew you had 24hrs to live, what would you do?" I said I didn't know. Then he asked, knowing that there were 19 hrs until the surgery is supposed to happen, " What if you had 19 hrs to live, what then?" The night followed the same theme, with them teasing me about dying, but I got a good one in. I asked one of them if he felt like getting me some supplies and he, jokingly said, "No." I replied, " Come on now, is that any way to treat someone with only 19 hrs left to live?"

Well, here goes. I will check back after Doc Mina puts me back together.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Just a thought

With just three days left, it has occurred to me that all I have been talking about is my surgery, like nothing else is going on. I guess I could be an anchor for one of the 24 hr cable news channels, except for the fact that I like to think.

I have been having a discussion with a woman who is from Europe, but is currently going to school in Canada. We have been discussing Congress's recent decision to pass a non-binding resolution to label what the Ottoman Empire did the Armenians in WW1 genocide. What I have found is that it appears to be ok to call out the US for any failings on our part, but not ok to mention when someone else is wrong, or at least it is not ok for us to do it. Now don't get me wrong. I know my country has done some awful things and I readily acknowledge them, but is it necessary to bring up our failings every time we mention a wrong committed by someone else. I mean the genocide of the Armenians is a significant evil.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Great news!!

I am ecstatic today. I mentioned in an earlier post that a friend offered to loan me the $2000.00 down payment required by the surgeon in order for me to have my surgery. Today, he informed me that he was not loaning me the money...he was giving it to me. What a generous gift! I could not thank him enough. Yesterday, at my pre-assessment visit, Dr. Mina's office gave me the estimated bill for her part of my surgery: $4600.00. Now I will only have to pay approx. $2600.00. What a relief. God is definitely good.

With 4 days left, I have a few things to do to prepare to be inactive for about a week. I have a pile of laundry the size of a large dog, because I am waiting until Wednesday to do laundry, so I have enough clean clothes to last until I can carry a basket of clothes to the laundry room.

My fear or nervousness about the surgery has diminished, I think in part to my belief that this is what God wants and my trying to convince the irrational part of my mind that it should listen to the rational side. I am certain, I will be nervous when I am sitting in the hospital waiting, but I am sooo ready to have relief from this pain.

Friday, October 12, 2007

5 days

So I am a bit disappointed, my pre-screening for surgery was far less scary than I expected. I only had blood work and a urine sample, so no big deal there, and the anesthesiologist sounded like a 3rd shift convenience store clerk: bored and wanting to get back to his nachos and Us magazine. Now, I'm not saying that the anesthesiologist left me and went on a junk food binge. Actually, I think he was headed back into surgery to knock out another patient, which I think might be more interesting than asking the same questions that he asks probably 20 times a day and giving the same instructions that he could probably recite in his sleep. I did get a toy with my happy meal...I mean my pre-screening. I have a plastic devise that I am supposed to suck air into about 1 x an hour after surgery to reduce my risk of developing pneumonia. I did not know that this was a possibility, but the nurse explained that patients, esp. smokers, often do not breath deeply after surgery and this can lead to pneumonia. I learned something new today.
My surgery is scheduled for 10:10am on Thursday, so I have to be at the hospital at 8:10am. The surgery itself should take 45 minutes and I could conceivably be home shortly after lunch time which sounds good.
My mother surprised me with a care package today. She sent me a box of Cortland apples. I have not found Cortland apples around here and she knows they are my favorite apples, so she wanted to do something special for me since she can't be here for my surgery. Don't I have just the greatest mother!! 44yrs old, but still getting goodies from Mom!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

God is good.

I received some great news today. St. Francis, the hospital where I will be having my surgery, accepted my application for financial aid. I will be required to pay $1,437.00 over a 1 year period for the hospital expenses. Anything above that amount, the hospital will cover through their sponsorship program. This is absolutely a blessing because I am certain $1,437.00 will not be the final number on my bill from St. Francis. The icing on the cake is that I will be able to make payments on the $1,437.00 for one year. I almost forgot...this deal includes any future hospital costs for the next year, like follow-up visits, etc. So I have the initial surgeon cost covered with a loan, the hospital is taken care of, payment plan and financial aid. The only thing left to cover is the anesthesiologist.

This whole experience is making me evaluate health care reform. The money that I have spent, am spending , still owe or will owe is staggering. Let's itemize to get a better view:
1). Regular Physician costs: Appx. $500.00 paid
2). Physical therapist (for repairing ripped ham string and first hint of disc trouble): $200.00 paid, $550.00 owed.
3). Medications: Approx. $100.00
4). Orthopedist: $305.00 paid
5). MRI: $100.00 paid, approx. $400.00 owed.
6). Surgeon-initial visit: $225.00 paid ( from a short loan) $225.00 owed.
7). Surgeon's charge for surgery: $2000.00paid (from 10 month loan) , ? owed
8). Hospital charges for surgery: $1,437.00 owed.
9). Anesthesiologist charges: ?
WOW!!
Reading that list almost makes me forget my physical pain...ALMOST!

7 more days!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

9 Days to go

I ended my last entry with the confidence that God was going to provide the $2000.00 I need to give Dr. Mina's office as a down payment and you know what? I was right. Today, a friend loaned me the money with a liberal payment plan, so I am now cleared to be sliced and diced. Well, I am clear to be poked, prodded and given a cup to fill for the lab, so the hospital can be certain that I am fit to be dissected. Friday I go to the hospital for my pre-screening. Once, I have a clean bill of health and have been thoroughly freaked out by all the necessary warnings about anesthesia and surgery, I will be ready to be fixed. Wait, I don't like the way that sounds, I do not need to be fixed, Fido might need that, but not me.

I am making all sorts of plans for my recovery time. Plans for work, plans for how I will function in general with limited mobility and great caution. The funny thing is, I am making plans with absolutely no point of reference. I have never had surgery before. I have been sick very seldom and it is very infrequent that I miss work for illness or injury. I am committed to following the doctor's orders in m recovery because I want this surgery to be my first and last and I want it to be a permanent success, but I am not big on doing nothing, esp. when it comes to work, so we will see how things go.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

The countdown begins!

Twelve days from today, I am going to willingly lay down and allow one stranger take away my personal control (and consciousness) and another stranger take a knife to my back. See what pain will do to a person. I told the office manager for the surgeons office today, that normally if a person told me that they were going to "cut me!" I would run away screaming...:0 I guess it helps that the stranger wielding the knife reminds me of my early childhood Sunday School teacher (she would never hurt me).

Actually the surgery is far less invasive than I expected. I was envisioning a big ole gash in my back, but instead, there will be two small incisions where they will insert tubes, so the surgeon can remove a small portion of the bone of my spine, so she can reach my herniated disc and remove the herniated part and any loose debris. The whole surgery should take less than an hour and I will be going home the same day. My surgeon was surprised that I was not experiencing the same pain in my left leg as I am on my right. She said the disc is ruptured on both sides, pressing against all the nerves. She described the disc as having a "blow-out", lovely image.

I am trying to keep my irrational fears of losing control of myself and of being cut in check. It does not help that the first possible danger to the surgery that Dr. Mina mentioned was death from the anesthesia. I know the risk is minute, but it adds fuel to my fear.

I am seriously angry with all those folks who have decided that not paying for the surgery that made their life better was the best way to demonstrate their gratefulness. The increase in the number of ungrateful patients is sharp which has led to Dr. Mina's office to start demanding more cash up front from us "no insurance" patients. I have to have $2000.00 next Friday when I go for my pre-screening. Can you guess how much of that I currently have? Let me give you a hint: lint is the most frequent occupant of my pants pocket and my wallet is merely a small photo album. I do not have a clue where that money is , but I am confident that God will provide it.

Surgery, here I come.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

So that's what's been causing all my pain!



Good disc


Bad Disc

These are just a few of the lovely photos that the orthopedist showed me as he cringed and announced that surgery would be needed, two different types actually: a partial laminotomy and a diskectomy. My pain is so persistent and intense that the thought allowing someone to slice me up is not as scary a thought. I have an appointment to talk to the surgeon Friday, let's see if I am still as eager for the knife afterwards,






Saturday, September 29, 2007

Now, I'm a supermodel...an MRI supermodel.

Ok, so I am not a model, but that was the line I used to make myself feel less nervous when I talked to the office manager at the imaging facility where I got my MRI today. I was not really nervous ,just a hair. I was a bit concerned that I might be claustrophobic. Turns out, I am, just a little. I had the advantage of being scanned in an open MRI machine, but when they started moving me into the machine and my big nose nearly touched the top, I felt a twinge of fear. It did not last long, but it was enough to confirm my dislike for small confined spaces.

The technician's last words to me before she left the room were: "Don't move, don't cough, don't clear your throat." So where do you think my mind wandered and drifted as dozed off a bit? I constantly was having images that compelled me to move, like to catch something falling on the floor or shaking someones hand. I did not move, but it was funny how the images of the need to move flooded mu head.

Now, that I am a MRI model, I have to wait until Wed. to find out the orthopedist's final decision on whether he needs to try out his new scalpel on me or not. I am not savoring the idea of surgery, but I am beyond ready to have permanent relief from this pain, so I say, "Bring it on!"
"Just, go easy on the pain, I am sensitive...lol"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Computer is a Scary Place.

I have been living with intense pain in my right leg for over 6 months. About a month ago, I finally set aside my natural male instincts and went to the doctor. Ripped fibers in my hamstring led to a sideways lean in my stance and walk, as well as putting my hips out of line and causing pain. Medication was no help, but 4 weeks of physical therapy straightened me out enough to give me back my old stride. Unfortunately pain remained behind and over the next few weeks intensified. Now it was off to the orthopedist, who is convinced that I have a herniated disc pinching the main nerve that runs down my right leg, has scheduled an MRI for me tomorrow and told me that if the MRI shows him what he thinks it will, I will need surgery. I type that last words with shaky hands because the idea of surgery, anesthesia, etc, scares me. Now, I did what every computer savvy person would do after a that kind of news... I scared myself even more by Googling "herniated discs". All the details, the horror stories, the possible problems made me want to close my eyes. Reading medical blogs, visiting medical sites all resulted in a bit of a queasy stomach. After I chilled out, I actually was glad I did the research. Being informed as to what is wrong with me and the various suggested treatments is interesting and helps me be a better informed patient. We will see what the MRI shows.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Y'all come back and see me sometime, ya hear?

My opening statement is one of the most recognizable stereotypical statements associated with being a Southerner. Funny thing is I can't remember ever actually hearing anyone say it and I live in South Carolina. I guess it just goes to show that stereotypes are just that, generalized ideas about a group of people loosely based on reality. As I was a typical guy this evening, meaning I flipped through the channels constantly, I saw about a half dozen shows that were supposed to be based in the South or the subject matter was supposed to represent the South. While all the shows had different themes and even different genres, they all portrayed my fellow Rebs the same, and mostly in an unflattering manner. I began to get a bit perturbed by the depiction and felt that "Hollywood" was singling out me and my neighbors, but I then I remembered we get stereotypes of all regions, ethnicities, races, and sexes in the entertainment industry. What is sad is that Americans have become so used to the stereotypes, they start using them in connection with everyone they meet of that group. This of course leads to all kinds of problems, racism, sexism, etc. Here's a novel idea, when you meet someone, see someone, read something about someone, forget that they are a member of some sub-set of humanity, actually a member of a few sub-sets and look at them, treat them as the individual human that they are and let their actions and words define them, not some nebulous stereotype. Deal?

Alrighty then, y'all come back, ya hear?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Finally He Posts Again

I find it funny that many people who blog infrequently, like me, find it necessary to start a post after an extended time with some kind of explanation for their absence. What ratchets up the humor in my case is that I have no regular readers, and only a few who even stop by occasionally, so I guess I am really only excusing myself to myself. Talk about dumb.

I have mentioned previously a blog that I enjoy reading, 4thavenueblues.blogspot.com. Today, Andrew had a post where a friend had "interviewed" him with 5 interesting questions. I loved it. I think that it was a great way of getting to know him, esp. areas that he might not think to talk about . A few years ago, I met a young lady in GA while working there and we became friends with an eye towards dating. For about a month before our first date, we e-mailed each other questions, unique questions, that helped us get to know each other better. Questions like, "If you could have a dinner party and invite 5 guests, living or dead, who would you invite and why?" Or "What am I carrying around in my trunk?" That last one was very revealing. When we had our first date, there was no awkwardness, or strained conversation. We knew each other better than we thought. In other forums later, we both, independently stated that that had been the best date we had ever gone on.

I look forward to being interviewed and if any of you(if there are actually, any of you) who would like to interview me, feel free to do so.

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Can't Have It Both Ways

"Why does God allow people to hurt each other? Why does God allow rape, murder, war, etc."
" I don't believe in a God that tells me what to do! I don't want a God with rules for how to live my life."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No rants today

There is so much that I hear on the news, or read in magazines, or glean from blogs that boils my blood and leads me to start ranting, but not today. I clicked the little link at the top of most of the blogs that says, "next blog" a few weeks back and after sorting through numerous blogs written in languages I sadly do not understand, I came across a very interesting one. The blog is 4thavenueblues,blogspot.com The writer, Andrew, struggles with mental issues, is a recovering alcoholic and has been homeless. The writer is also a brilliant writer, honest in his writing, and bares his soul for us to see. I have been fascinated by the lessons I learn reading of his daily struggles, his triumphs, his questions, and the people who love him. Today, my heart soared as I read about a friend of his getting a second chance with an estranged daughter and granddaughter, about a new neighbor who has quickly, seemlessly and as if ordained by God, become a source of comfort, encouragement and friendship, and about Andrew realizing that while the future he once might have had is no more, he still has a future ripe with wonderous possibilities.

My musing about Andrew's life got me contemplating my own, and deciding it is time to stop looking at all the mistakes, all the failures and the mountain I see when I contemplate becoming what I want and believe I should be, and start looking around me and remembering that life is good. Remebering also that God is good and with Him, all things are possible.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Independence Day

I went through this day with ease today. No regularly scheduled work, slept in late, ate some good food, watched one of my tenant families set off a small fireworks display, and thought little about the significance of this day. As I sit here on the commuter, it dawned on me that I really really didn't think about the fact that I am free, that I live in a country that is based on the freedom of the people. I was a bit ashamed. I, like so many of my fellow countrymen and women, enjoy the rewards of a free society, we live our everyday lives they way we do because of the fact that we live in a free nation, yet the fact we are free rarely comes to the forefront of our minds.

We hear much today about how we actually aren't free that our rights are being stripped from us. Funny side note, both sides of the political spectrum rail against the daily dwindling of our freedoms. DO I think that our God-given rights are being infringed upon, yes. DO I agree with some who shout in hysteria that we are no longer free, ABSOLUTELY NOT! The very fact that they can rail demonstrates that we are still free.

So I agree that some of our freedoms and rights are being infringed upon, now what. Get involved. VOTE, now there is a strange concept to many in this country. Leaders slowly chip away at freedoms because the people are not telling them to stop. But we need to do more than vote. Talk to those you elect, and talk to those who get elected in spite of your vote. The old saying, "The squeeky wheel gets grease." is true. When it comes to our leaders they will do what they want until they know that there is enough of the public actively involved to make them fear for their jobs.

One final thought about this wonderful country. I hear every day people pointing out the flaws of this country, past, present and perhaps future. It seems to have become an obsession to some. I, for one, am glad to hear the flaws. As a true student of history, I feel it is vital to the continued success of a nation for its citizens to continually examine the actions and history of the nation, warts and all. We will only right the wrongs, or avoid similar wrongs if we know what we have done wrong and what we have done right. One other thing, it seems that we are one of the few countries that does this constantly. Good for us.

America, happy birthday, may we see many more, and may we see our country stay true to what is right!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Names of Cities can be interesting.

A few days ago, a couple of friends and I were commenting on interesting city names. Pumpkintown, Moonville, and Possum Kingdom, all towns near here, were favorites. Apparently we also have some towns who's founding fathers were creatively challenged, content with such names as: Ninety-six, Nine Mile and Six Mile.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

FOOD!

Today was a long, tiring, hard day of stripping and waxing floors, so when I got home, I plopped down in my comfortable recliner and turned on the tube while I waited for my dinner to be delivered to me from an overpriced, but tasty steak delivery place. I surfed the channels until I ended up on the Food Network, Tivo would be well aquainted with this channel if I owned it. This evening, one of the regular hosts of a popular show was recounting her recent visit to England and France. It was an enjoyable diversion. The woman is a deep-fried southern woman, but I appreciated her respect for the culture and cuisine of her two host countries. It was funny to hear her speech, dripping with drawl in contrast to the distinct accents of the folks she interacted with. Paula, the Food Network host that to whom I am referring, spent a lot of time on the cuisine and the speciality food shops she visited. Her trip featured many. Now, I know that this was a show on the Food Network, so food was paramount, but I was struck by the fact that food never figured into my ideas of things I would focus on if I were ever to visit those two amazing countries. I am a history buff, so when I think of visiting Europe, I think in terms of history, food is only thought of in terms of what do I need to eat, not what food is here to amaze and delight me. After seeing this show, I plan on altering all my vacation plans to include some exploration of the food delicacies the places I visit have to offer. Right now, I want to take a cheese tasting trip...ANYWHERE. I love cheese.

Bon App├ętit

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sometimes you just need to scream!!!

I have felt that way often over the last few months. My employees, my partner, my clients, my tenants, my life... ok, I guess you get the point. Life is not fun sometimes, in fact, there have been many times of late that I contemplated moving to the Ozarks and becoming a coon dog. I mean, a coon dog has a pretty good life. I would get free meals, a decent place to live. I'd have a special status in the local community, a place of honor among those men who consider shooting black rim- eyed varmints stuck up a tree a sport. What price would I have to pay for all this? Run around chasing the bandits of the woods until I run them up a tree. If I were a coon dog, that would not even be work, it would be fun!

Of course, then I come to my senses and say, "You'll never be able to be a coon dog, they have four legs and aren't fat." So I sit back and put my trials in perspective. It's then I realize that I have a good life and that life, while it is fun often, is also about trials, frustrations, and pain. They go together, fun and frustration. I also realize that some of the things that drive me to the brink of a primal scream are my fault, or at least partially my fault. I allow things to build to a breaking point, or my actions or inaction, leads others to feel that their behavior, the mind-numbingly frustrating behavior is just peachy-keen. If I want the behavior that sends my brain into overload to stop, I have to make it stop. I also realize that I am guilty of somethings that drive others to the brink and I need to be aware of that and stop that as well.

One final thought fills my head; God is in control of my life and He has a reason for what is happening to me. I need to stop beating my head against the bricks hoping that I won't feel any pain and ask Him what He wants or how He wants me to deal with the situations that I face. How can what I am experiencing and how can how I respond to what I am facing bring glory to Him.

Ok, so I don't need to scream anymore

(pssst. being a coon dog would still be sweet =) )

Friday, June 15, 2007

WORDS HAVE MEANINGS.
Yes, I know that sounds so lame, of course words have meanings, so why start a post with a lame statement? I start this post with that statement because so many people want to use words to scare people into following their political or ideological position. They want to use words incorrectly, disregard what a word actually means just like they disregard the facts.
Let me give you an example of what I am rambling about: AMNESTY. Do you know what it means? Here are a few definitions from various sources:
1). A general pardon granted by a government, especially for political offenses. (The American Heritage dictionary)
2). The act or an instance of forgiving (Houghton Mifflin Thesaurus)
3). In criminal law, a sovereign act of oblivion or forgetfulness (from Greek amnestia, "forgetfulness") granted by a government, especially to a group of persons who are guilty of (usually political) crimes in the past. It is often conditional upon the group's return to obedience and duty within a prescribed period. (Britantica Concise Encyclopedia)
4). The pardon of individuals or categories of people for the violation of law. (U.S. History Encyclopedia)
5). In law, exemption from prosecution for criminal action. (Columbia Encyclopedia)
6). The action of a government by which all persons or certain groups of persons who have committed a criminal offense...are granted immunity from prosecution. (Thomson Gale Law Encyclopedia)
I have used multiple definitions so one could not accuse me of cherry picking the definition. There is one other word that must be defined in connection to amnesty and that is the word 'pardon' Here is what the American Heritage dictionary say 'pardon' means:

  1. To release (a person) from punishment; exempt from penalty: a convicted criminal who was pardoned by the governor.
  2. To let (an offense) pass without punishment
Now that we are clear on the meaning, let me be concise: amnesty means someone is not punished for a criminal activity, they pay no penalty imposed by the government.
I am hearing the word 'amnesty' used in abundance in connection to the immigration bill currently before the US Senate. The problem I see is that the current bill imposes a penalty to anyone currently living in our awesome country illegally today. It also sets up strict guidelines someone here illegally has to follow in order to avoid even more penalties. Yet, I keep hearing that this bill grants amnesty to the 'horrible leaches on our society" that we call illegal immigrants. What the bill proposes, what most of those who support this bill or one very similar is that breaking the immigration law be punished. Both the fellow that walks across our border with no legal right to be here and the native Americans that lure these folks by the hiring them. This bill is many things, and proposes many aspects to the solution for illegal immigration. What it does not offer is amnesty.
So why do some of the very people who have read this bill and know what is proposes keep yelling "Amnesty" They do it to incite decent, law abiding citizens. They scare, threaten, mislead, misquote, and just plain lie.
I welcome honest debate about the flaws and potential failures of this bill, but I say, honest debate. Stop hollaring "Amnesty" This is not amnesty!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I started to post something here yesterday. I sat staring at the empty box where my profound, witty, insightful, intellectual post was supposed to be rapidly filling up the blank space. All I saw was white, no words, not wit, no insight. I closed the blog and went to bed. I was disappointed at first, then I realized, perhaps, I am not supposed to be witty, insightful, intellectual all the time. Ok, I am not witty, insightful, or intellectual all the time, but I wanted to give that impression. I did not want, actually still do not want a blog crammed with nonsense about the trivial aspects of my life. What I wanted was to be great, to appear great, to be recognized as some really awesome person. Now talk about pride AND self-delusion...lol. Last night gave me a harsh look at a side of me that I don't often see, a side I believe that is not reflective of my true and total personality, but it is a part none the less. I am glad I saw that and now I am glad that I am working on another of the flaws in my person. My daughter makes lists, lots of lists; lists of book she wants to read over vacation, lists of homework assignments and her plan for getting them all done, lists of chores and fun she plans to do on Saturday. I sometimes think she has too many lists, but I think I need to take a cue from her and draw up a few lists myself, ones that deal with areas in my life where I need to be better, areas in my life where God is not glorified.

Ok, I am now taking a rabbit trail, straying slightly from my main point, but this is a good rabbit trail...glorifying God. I always think about glorifying God in connection to either doing things overtly spiritual, like worshiping Him, praying, reading my Bible, witnessing, or to not sinning, not giving in to besetting sins, not being an example of how not to keep the Ten Commandments. Now, before I go on, I am aware that anytime we fall short of the glory of God, we are sinning, but I want to talk about things I do, or we do that do not bring glory to God, and in fact often detract from His glory, but that we don't zoom in on as SIN.
1). I am fat, not slightly overweight, not pleasing plump, not big boned, just plain, nasty fat. Ok, I wear it well, or so I have been told, but the fact remains, I AM FAT. I have thought that I need to lose weight, it would be good for my health, I would have more energy, I could wear cooler clothes, I would be able to do more activities, that I would make my daughters proud of me. The one thing I have never thought about, never considered until just the other day, is that I am not bringing glory to God because I am fat. Now, hear me out. Being skinny, or pretty, or handsome is not what a person needs to be to bring glory to God. God made us all different and His idea of beauty is far from ours. I believe even "ugly" people are beautiful to God. What I am taking about is that I made myself FAT, I am causing harm to His creation. I am saying to those around me that not only do I not care about the wonderful creation that God made, but that God can not do anything to help me bring His temple back to its healthy form. By remaining fat, I am not bringing glory to God.
2). I am in debt, not enough to cause a country to go bankrupt, but in debt. What that means is that I owe people(businesses) money. People either loaned me money, credit cards, items purchased on credit, etc. with the idea that would honor that debt and pay them back or they provided services that I agreed to pay for. I have not, or have not completely. Now, yes, there have been difficulties in my life that caused me financial setbacks, and there have been attempts or are on-going attempts to pay folks back, but I am still in debt. Now, some would say that owing a business money is not a big thing, that businesses expect losses, that they right it off, don't worry about it. I have been off and on working toward reducing my debt, but the reasons again were not right. I want to be able to buy things when I need them, I don't want to keep getting calls from bill collectors, I want to silence my critics who make negative statements about my money skills. These may all be good motivations, but I am a child of God. It is my duty to bring glory to Him and my financial situation is not doing that, in fact, it is really detracting from that. I am basically saying that either God does not care if I honor my obligations, or that He is unable to help me clear up these debts. By staying in debt, I am not bringing glory to God
I could go on and list a few more, but I think you get my point. I and by extension, we need to remember that everything we do is connected to bringing glory to God or not. I often lose sight of that fact which is why I do some of the really dumb things I do. I can't fix this, God can, and so I have started to ask Him to show me all the areas where I am falling short and asking Him to help me change them.
Want to join me? Just ask Him to show you Him and to show you you. You won't like what you see, but if you truly are one of His children and you truly want to bring glory to Him, you will do this. Let's help each other in this. Comment on this post with your struggles, your questions and join together in a choir that fills the heavens with glory to our awesome God.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The recent tragedy at Virginia Tech has raised a multitude of questions, observations and fears. I don't want to dwell on the myriad of things that are being hashed and rehashed by the "talking heads". I want to look at the man responsible for the death and devestation, Mr. Cho. I briefly listened to his rantings that he sent to NBC and was struck by the fact that what he was really describing is something that is a problem with America today: self-absorbtion. While he blasted the rich and the privileged ( and lord knows they often deserve it), what he was saying was "Look at me! I am important! The world should revolve around me!" I don't buy the stories told by his roommates and suitemates that they were great friends who always tried t0 engage him and were positive. Come on, one of his roommates said Cho told him he had an imaginary supermodel girlfriend who had a pet name for him. You want me to believe that he didn't get a little razzing? But the fact that he propbably was not on the top ten list of the most popular guys in school does not accountfor his rampage. He felt left out. He was not experiencing what he felt he deserved and so he lashed out. He was extreme, but that is what our culture teaches today. You are the most important person in the world and everyone owes you. Sorry, that is not true and the sooner we acceptthat, the sooner our country will be healthier as a nation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Downtown; what do you see in your mind's eye when I say that word? I live in a small city, Greenville, SC. We are a growing city and one that is transforming itself from a quiet little southern town into a modern, sophisticated small market city.
I remember when "downtown" brought images of empty storefronts, drunks sleeping and urinating on the sidewalks, troubled teens cruising main street looking for some kind of trouble to get into.
Today, "downtown" is vibrant with shoppes, restaurants, art galleries, upscale condos, the hustle and bustle of people trying to be a part of the "scene" that is "downtown". I like many aspects of what has happened to downtown.
I was downtown tonight, working. I was not happy with the fact that I could not find parking, of course, I actually could have found parking, if I had been willing to pay $5.00 for about an hour's worth of work.
As I circled the blocks surrounding the building I was working in, I had an opportunity to make some interesting, ironic, funny, or just mundane observations:
1). The most recent controversy from City Council has been a smoking ban in bars and restaurants in the city, and Even outside in the immediate vicinity of the bar or restaurant. This ban was recently ruled unconstitutional. I bring this up to mention what I find to be ironic or funny. As I drove down Main st. I spotted a cigar store (funny by itself in light of the ban), and then 2 doors down a store with a banner that read, "Quit smoking classes every Monday"
2). I love "people-watching" and today was no exception. The people who were strolling, meandering, power walking, and even jogging downtown ran the gambit from new age hippies, to aging sports fans, from hip young professional couples to young couples desperately trying to look hip, from rebellious outsider teens and twenty-somethings,to straight laced conformists.
3). Speaking of jogging, what is the deal with these folks who jog in public, crowded places, esp. in areas where their jogging will be interrupted repeatedly by traffic lights and turning cars? I don't get it. I would think that jogging in these conditions would not be conducive to healthy exercise. Of course, it is probably conducive to drawing attention to one's self and getting props for being healthy.
All in all, my visit downtown was fun and I got paid. I need to do this more often, have fun and get paid for it, that is! :)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

As we enter the melee that is presidential election time, I am searching for people committed to FACTS, not misleading sound bites. I want to put together a brief review of all the candidates for President. We have groups that spend time and money influencing people's votes by means of issue driven, or party driven partial truths, misleading "facts" and actual lies. What the American people need is a real look at who is asking them to vote for them. If you are interested in helping me out, contact me. I don't care what party you are in, or what party you vote for. What I what is people who are willing ot look at the facts honestly and report them clearly.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ok, so I have not posted in over a year. What does that say about me?
Don't answer that question, I might not like your answer. Like many things in my life, this started out with gusto and then fizzed out. It is not like I suddenly stopped ranting, or ran out of opinions. I just stopped posting. I think I might try my hand at this again and see what happens.

So anything going on that warrents my ranting...hmm.. non-stop coverage of a dead, washed up model/actress and the leaches who wormed their way into her life. I am not going to waste my time ranting about the shear volume of scum that is her ex-boyfriend, lawyer/boyfriend and her "loving" mother, because that only feeds into what I am really steamed about. We are in the middle of two wars. We have a government in the throws of a political power struggle, with the lives our our young men and women in uniforms in the balance. The presidential election season is heating up. We have a couple of counties across the pond that are making threats or are being accused of making serious threats against us and our allies. What is the biggest story in 24hr cable news? Enough said!!