Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

Today marks post number 2000 on my humble site, begun way back in 2008. I created this blog in order to express my heart and to explore my soul in the midst of a very dark night for me back when the wires were taut. Since that time I have played every chord that I know and then some to get to where I have found myself today. I can hear old John Fogerty moaning out the words to Lodi,

Somewhere I lost connections
Ran out of songs to play

Today marks the end for me at this site. I have nothing else to say here. It is a time for me to find other avenues to wander. Thanks to those who have supported this place of mine. Blessings to each of you in your futures.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Observations 121

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • Steve Sarkisian was the head football coach for USC until he was fired because he was an alcoholic and it was drastically affecting his ability to do his job. Mr. Sarkisian has filed a lawsuit alleging the university did not treat him fairly because he had a disability. You just know this guy will win and get his millions of dollars in damages.
  • I have a suggestion for a law that should be put into effect for the month of December. If someone is going to the store to get regular stuff that has nothing to do with any holiday, there should be special checkout lines so they don't have to wait.
  • Here's a depressing finding. Amnesty International has recently released a report that states that most of the stockpile of weapons controlled by the terrorist ISIS group were originally made in the United States. Perhaps we should amend the list of what can be sold on Amazon.com?
  • A shocking headline on CNN the other day proclaimed that police could not pursue the capture of a burglary suspect as he was recently eaten by an alligator. If I had a nickel for every time that tired old excuse was tossed out.
  • Must hold on ... the winter Solstice has come and gone and the amount of daylight each day is now increasing ... must hold on ...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Treasure Island

I remember reading an interview by a famous author who was encouraging folks not to forget the classics. He recommended that we should read one classic novel for every three or four new releases. In my reading list over the past ten years, I have tackled only a small handful of what might be termed "classic" novels. So in this vein I read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. After spending some time with this 1880s work, I understand why it is such a beloved tale. An engaging yarn of buccanneers and buried gold, with commentaries on morality, innocence, and bravery, has served as the inspiration and paradigm for all modern stories of this genre. One viewing of the popular "Pirates of the Carribbean" movies and one will clearly see Stevenson's uncredited imprints all over it.

The story begins on the coast of England, when Billy Bones, a salty old seadog comes to stay at the Admiral Benbow Inn. Young Jim Hawkins, the son of the owners, is asked by Billy to watch out for a one-legged seafaring man, who he claims is out to get his sea chest. After he has been found, Billy gets scared enough that he drinks himself into a stroke and dies. Young Jim comes to understand that Billy is a pirate who has double-crossed his mates and absconded with the map that marks the treasure of the notorious Capt. Flint. Just before the rogues descend on the inn, Jim and his mother open Billy's sea chest and escape with the map to the village squire who then forms up a plan to claim the vast horde. The squire charters the Hispaniola, a fine three-masted schooner, to take them to the isolated island whose coordinates are marked on the map.

Being a city man the squire looks for help in assembling a sound crew. At the wharfs, he meets up with John Silver, to help him in this effort. Silver, a one-legged man whose whole life has been spent upon the sea, comes across to all as friendly, experienced, and honest. After meeting John, Jim reasons to his satisfaction that John cannot be the same one-legged man that he saw from a distance outside his inn back home. In due time, the Hispaniola heads out to sea under the good Capt. Smollett hired by the squire. However, once underway, Jim happens upon the truth of Silver and his intentions. Silver and a number of the crew that he put together had served under Capt. Flint and were planning to mutiny as soon as the ship neared the island. Jim warns the captain and the squire and they make good their escape with sufficient stores from the ship to Flint's old outpost on the island.

The story follows the treachery of the pirates under their Capt. Long John Silver as they try to overtake the squire's men to take possession of the treasure map. Young Jim musters up his bravery and takes several bold and clever measures to outmaneuver the crew of scoundrels. Silver, a treacherous creature in the deepest manner, who has never kept a promise that put him at a disadvantage, changes loyalties with every shift of the wind until the last. Just a perfect antagonist for a well laid out and paced adventure story that I highly recommend.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quick Hits 53

Sometimes I hear an utterance or catch a quick visual of something that sticks in my mind. As this sensory input rolls about in my head, several different outcomes are possible. It might be the case that after a moment of consideration, the input is deleted as uninteresting, trivial, or too much for me to deal with. However, another possible outcome is that the input keeps demanding my attention. It somehow wants me to wrestle with it and give it more than just a passing notice. In such cases, they can end up here, in my blog series called Quick Hits.

Many folks suffer from the blues after a holiday passes. Why do you think this happens? Is it because they did not enjoy themselves? Is it because they had to go back to work after a few days off? Is it because they used up too much energy in the preparations and lead up?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

iTunes Latest - 32

I have been a user of iTunes since 2011. This service has allowed me to bring music back into my world and to reconnect with so many great songs from my past and to find some great new recent stuff as well. One of the things that I really like about music is how it becomes part of the soundtrack of the different seasons of our lives. So, I thought that I would share my latest five downloads and a bit about my thoughts on each song.
  • House of Cards - Scorpions (2015) - Something seems off when a rock group lingers too long. The Scorpions have been around now for 50 years. They officially retired a few years ago, but decided to unretire. However, this song from their recent release is well crafted and fits in perfectly with other ballads they have released over the years.
  • Confident - Demi Levato (2015) - While I am most definitely not a fan of the music of this ex-Disney teeny bopper turned look-at-me vixen, this song will not let me avoid it. A loud, driving, bombastic anthem about strutting your stuff and to heck with anybody who says otherwise.
  • Drive - America (2015) - For me America is cemented into my DNA as a classic band from the early 1970s. Yet if you look at their catalog, they have been releasing new work consistently every few years. This song is from their most recent release and its strumming guitar groove about getting away and leaving your troubles behind is polished and professional.
  • Humanity - Scorpions (2007) - A tune from a release about 10 years ago that saw the band return to its nominal album formula after a lengthy period of stylistic experimentation that caused its fanbase to erode considerably. The downfall of humanity is upon us and nobody seems to recognize it.
  • Crossfire - Scorpions (1984) - A haunting dirge lamenting that we are caught in the crossfire of our government leader's bloodlust and power plays.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Insights on Galatians and Ephesians

Several years ago Charles Swindoll set out on a grand project, to produce a 15-volume set of expository texts on the New Testament. After the fifth volume in the series was released, the publisher pulled the plug on the project because of poor sales. The issue was that the books were not written as lite, fluff pieces for quick consumption. They were written more as textbooks for detailed, in depth study. Thankfully, another publisher picked up the project and after a several year delay, the sixth volume was just released, which focuses on the apostle Paul's letters to the Galatians and Ephesians. What was originally called Swindoll's New Testament Insights has now been rebranded as Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentaries. Apart from different cover artwork, the new books are unchanged in style and approach from those already released.

Insights on Galatians and Ephesians, the latest release, has been one that I have been tracking and looking forward to as these two books of the Bible have proven over time to be the most encouraging to me. Swindoll analyzes the letters verse by verse and then provides relevant insight, interpretation, and historical context that bring out the author's intent and the implications of the text. Swindoll's unique voice and expansive expertise bring the scriptures alive and make them approachable to everyone from the novice to the more experienced. A pure joy to spend time studying God's word through this text. I very much look forward to the next volume in this series, Insights on Acts, that is scheduled for release in the first half of 2016.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Observations 120

My occasional blog series "Observations" was created to be an outlet to share a variety of topics that pop into my field of view as a result of a condition that many bloggers are afflicted with known as "blogger's eyes". In this state we view the world on the constant look-out for topics on which to write about. Today's blog came about from random odds 'n ends of things that I have noticed over the past few weeks.
  • Would you label me a realist or a cynic if I told you that the recent Rhonda Rousey vs. Holly Holm fight was rigged to bring attention to a "sport" on the verge of bringing in big money but falling short because its one star was too dominant?
  • A friend was driving to work the other morning when a black cat suddenly darted across the road in front of his vehicle. Within half a mile his "check engine" light came on. Coincidence or scientific proof of the old adage about black cats crossing your path bringing bad luck?
  • A man who was born with only one arm shows up at work one day with two normal arms. It is natural and expected for everyone to ask questions, to look, and to touch. Why are we expected to behave any differently if a flat-chested woman shows up at work one day well endowed in the chestal region?
  • More and more leaders are pushing for more and more people to carry guns. How long until personal sidearms are as ubitquitous as cell phones?
  • Here's a helpful tip for everyone. After working with epoxy, it is best to make sure that your hands are completely clean before attempting to go to the bathroom.