Friday, November 28, 2014


The fifth novel in Rick Riordan's Tres Navarre series is entitled Southtown and provides another fast-paced and thrilling adventure in the life of Jackson "Tres" Navarre. Tres, part-time private investigator and part-time professor of literature, is part tough guy and part renaissance man - a bit of an everyman, just trying to live his life, but he keeps getting into situations that his conscience won't allow him to walk away from. Once that happens he becomes like a dog who won't let go of a bone. This story begins when a small cadre of hardened criminals orchestrates a jailbreak from their prison outside of San Antonio. The leader of this group, Will Stirman, was once the head of a major human trafficking ring. This animal was a murderer, a rapist, and a drug kingpin. This is one man who has a long memory of anyone and everyone who has ever crossed him and means to erase some names from his list. When word of his escape hits the news, Tres' boss at the investigations agency, Erainya Manos, a normally unflappable woman, seems strangely affected, afraid for her own life as well as for her adopted son.

As Tres begins to piece together the past, he learns that Erainya's husband was part of the team that brought Stirman to justice some ten years ago. We have known for some time that Erainya killed her abusive husband just a short time after Stirman's arrest. However, we finally come to understand the real reason why she pulled the trigger when she did, a secret that she has been kept buried and has refused to talk about. In time we come to understand that it is directly connected to Stirman and what happened on the night of his capture. An intriguing story where the dividing lines between black and white are not always so clear and where good people can make bad choices that define them and where bad people can make good choices that help to redeem them. I now move on to the sixth novel in this enjoyable series, Mission Road.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Enjoying ourselves is a Biblical mandate. As stated in plain language in 1 Corinthians 15:32, "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." This is not a morbid sentiment or one that gives us license to become gluttons. It is a statement that reminds us that we are, each and every one of us, finite creatures, and we should take every opportunity to celebrate our relationships and be thankful for the blessings that we have. So, to all of my online friends who support this site, I wish you peace, laughter, and lots of sumptuous goodies to make you smile. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good Idea, Bad Idea

It is not uncommon for somebody to suggest an idea for a new invention, service, or convenience that everyone will immediately get behind. Folks will respond with remarks of "How clever! or "I can't believe nobody thought of that before!" or "That is a million-dollar idea!" or some other expression ending in an exclamation point. One such sure-fire notion was likely the idea of covering walls in what is called whiteboard paint, which is designed to make a wall into a gigantic dry erase board. In fact, in our new "technology" building at work, they covered every last square inch of the walls in every room with this stuff. Then within a few short months, it looks like they let loose roving bands of hoodlums to cover the place in technical graffiti. However, just like any other white board that is actually used, the ink soon does not come off or stains or just smears. What was initially thought to be a neat innovation has quickly degenerated into an eyesore that demands first cleanup and repair, and second, a more practical solution.

Of course, ideas like whiteboard wall paint that don't deliver on the promises of their initial heady brainstorming period really only have a downside in terms of costs to purchase and then to replace some short time later. However, other ideas of this sort might ultimately lead to world-wide pain, suffering, and loss of the uber-wealthy. One such idea is that of flying cars. Based on a recent CNN report, there are several companies prototyping ridiculously expense car/airplane hybrids. Sounds unnecessarily Spielbergian to me. However, just imagine the carnage that would ensue if we took the selfishness and utter disregard for courtesy and the rules of the road that are on ubiquitous display at every rush hour and put this a mile up in the air. Those of us on the ground would spend most of our time dodging the half-ton hailstones of wreckages that would be raining down upon us. I can hear Arthur Carlson from the old WKRP in Cincinnati sitcom, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Oh the humanity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Start Where You Are

I just finished the Charles Swindoll devotional Start Where You Are (subtitled "Catch a Fresh Vision for Your Life"). The book description on the back cover is what pulled me in,

"Where are you on the journey of life? Just starting out, with exciting new challenges ahead? Or a little road weary, wondering what direction you should turn now? Let Charles Swindoll show you how to start fresh right where you are."

While I enjoyed my time in this book, its contents felt like a bit of a "bait and switch". I was promised one book but Swindoll gave me something else. In truth, I do not think that the book really approached what was defined as its goal given in the book description. I have the feeling that this book was more a collection of random Sunday sermons from Swindoll as opposed to a focused writing on a particular topic.

The major sections were categorized under:
  • Paths toward healing
  • Christian leadership
  • Developing compassion
  • A plan for personal victory
Within each subsection were a number of short chapters that were easy 5-minute reads. That made this book fully appropriate for working into morning devotionals or a quick reading session here and there throughout the day. It is too bad that Swindoll did not write the book that was promised here, I would have paid money to read that ... oh wait, I already did.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Observations 72

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.
  • I recently went to see a doctor at one of these "express" medical facilities. I wonder what it says when the nurse was a heavy smoker and the doctor was morbidly obese?
  • Did you ever notice how quickly a company will direct you to a real-life operator when you want to place an order, but how slowly that same company lets you talk to an operator if you have an issue with their product or want to make a return? "We are experiencing an unusually heavy call volume" plays over and over again no matter what day of the week or what time you call.
  • There was a sign on a wall in my building at work that said "Dry Paint" ... O.K.
  • I recently came across a beautiful sentiment from an anonymous source:
    Thus, like the trampled flower whose perfume rises to bless the foot that crushed it, so our hearts should find no bitterness, seek no revenge, wish no ill. The fruitfulness of our own cups must overflow and bless the hand that afflicted us.
  • Have you ever gone to a public restroom and wanted a bit of privacy but some goob just lingers in the bathroom (not doing #1 or #2) for a completely unreasonable length of time?

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Devil Went Down to Austin

The fourth novel in Rick Riordan's Tres Navarre series is entitled The Devil Went Down to Austin and I can tell you that I am definitely loving this series. These books are based around a well-developed protagonist, a private investigator/scholar/everyman named Jackson "Tres" Navarre. A man with deep personal convictions and a wry sense of humor that really just adds to his appeal. Each of the novels was developed to be a stand-alone effort, but one thing that I like is that many of the same "background" characters appear in the different books. This only makes sense when one lives in a relatively small town. However, new foils and antagonists are introduced, but they have been introduced in a rather organic manner, such that they fit into the world that Riordan has established for his lead.

In this story, Tres finds out that his brother Garrett is in some financial trouble. Garrett is actually Tres' half-brother, a sort of hippy who lost his legs in a train accident. However, Garrett is a top-notch programmer, and he has quit his long-held job to go in with a few partners to form his own company developing cyber-security systems. For a time, Garrett's effort was growing and showing promise to be a major success. However, during beta-testing of his product, a number of serious deficiencies became apparent and law suits were filed. All of a sudden the buy-out offers that had been coming in offering their millions were now reduced to offering only pennies. Garrett knows that someone has sabotaged his code and is screwing him out of his planned future. When Garrett's two startup partners are murdered, the evidence all points directly to Garrett as their killer. As Tres gets involved, he meets a number of folks, some seemingly kind and gentle, some marked by pure greed, who all seem to have some connection to this case.

Definitely a professional effort. Crisp, well written, layered, and enjoyable. I move now to the fifth novel in the series, Southtown.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unknown Unknowns

Back in 2002, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, waxed eloquent when he said:

"There are known knowns. There are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns, that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know, and each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."

I think this notion of known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns can be applied to people in a variety of ways. For example, some folks carry themselves with a deserved confidence. They are bright, hardworking, and motivated. They enter into situations prepared. When they speak, their words carry weight and they are taken seriously. I would label these individuals as the known knowns.

There are also people who are somewhat dim-witted or who, for whatever reason, don't do their homework. Yet these folks have enough presence and self-awareness to make it clear to others that there are questions whose answers they don't know or topics where their opinions are vacuous or ill-informed. These folks are the known unknowns.

However, the class of people who I would label as unknown unknowns seem to typically have a very high opinion of themselves, think themselves quite clever, and act as if they are experts, when, in fact, they are completely detached from reality. When they speak it is clear even to a casual observer that they are incompetent and utter gibberish. They often are either wholly naive because they have been insulated and isolated, such that they think that their small world encompasses the full measure of reality, or they are windbags or buffoons. Often those that fall into this latter category have built up such an impenetrable wall around themselves that they are lost causes. They will fall prey to no amount of persuasion or argument. However, those unknown unknowns in the category of naive, sure can crumble when they finally get a glimpse of how little they understand or comprehend about topics or areas where they once thought so highly of themselves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I would go absolutely, freaking insane if I had to live in a big city. I mean pull all of your hair out, screaming at the top of your lungs, drooling like a painted savage, type of insane. Crime, poverty, incessant humanity, and, worst of all, the traffic! Every square foot of roadway is a congested, engorged parking lot from early morning to well past dinner time. How anyone can stand the graffitti-covered, trash-strewn, scum-encrusted, car-honking, jay-walking, non-stop construction, decaying tenament, jack-hammering, peace-devoid megalopolitan lifestyle is beyond me. In fact, just thinking about trying to exist in such a setting causes the bile to rise up in my throat and gives me the cold-sweat queasies.

Recently I spent a day in Washington D.C. on business. If you think that I could risk glancing to my right to see the Washington Monument or to my left to see the Capitol building, you surely do not understand the sheer white-knuckled terror of a suburbanite trying to make their way through rush hour, bumper-to-bumper gridlock. Just using your turn signal is enough to precipitate a spontaneous beat down from your fellow motorists. Oh the lingering nightmares ... I can still feel my car closing in around me as the buzzards of the city incessantly removed my flesh inch by inch.

I actually live in an area that is listed among the top 40 population centers in the U.S. and we have our share of traffic and stop-and-go congestion. However, the days are rare when it takes me longer than 15 minutes to drive the 5 miles from my house to where I work. Most of the delays are caused by the fact that my area sprinkles traffic lights about like a seed-sowing farmer. I walk like Fred G. Sanford, and it seems like sometimes I could reduce my commute times by just hoofing it. However, a urine-stained pair of pants is a small price to pay to gain some perspective and appreciation of the area where I live. If I think I have it tough, I just need to think of how bad it could be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


You know what gets me choked up about the number 1700? Well, nothing really ... errr ... well I guess there is one small thing. Today I celebrate blog post number 1,700. While that number may not be so big compared to say, 18,432.675, it is largish compared to 0.23. So there is that. Am I still enjoying my blog, with its constant demands for more? Actually, yeah. Would it be the end of my world if I were to stop? No. I have thought several times over the last few months that I could walk away at any time and be O.K. with that decision. However, for whatever reason, the number 2,000 just seems like a much better way to finish. Regardless, of when things end here, I am not done yet. I will see you all on the march to 1,800. To my loyal readers, thanks, or better yet, Thanks. Oh heck, I am feeling generous today, so I will even give you a hearty THANKS.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quick Hits 28

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

If a burglar broke into your house and you caught him just starting to climb out the window with a few of your possessions, would you shoot him if you had a gun? Is a few hundred dollars worth of your stuff worth the life of a desperate man? Is shoot first ask questions later a reasonable approach?

What do you think?

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Last King of Texas

The third novel in Rick Riordan's Tres Navarre series is entitled The Last King of Texas. The previous novels, Big Red Tequila and The Widower's Two-Step are not necessarily required reading, however they do serve to introduce in more detail the people in the life of the protagonist, Tres Navarre. Tres has moved back to the outskirts of San Antonio after escaping to California after his father was murdered. Tres is a bit of a Renaissance man in that he is a man of letters, having earned his Ph.D. in literature at Berkley. However, as we meet him, he is content to make his living as a private investigator. Tres has a penchant for allowing injustices that he witnesses to get under his skin. Whether or not he has a personal stake in a given situation, he takes on the problems of others. Often he tends to leap before he looks, but he also has a reflective mentality that allows him to understand correlations and connections between seemingly disparate clues.

In this story an english professor at UTSA is murdered. The agency that Tres works for is hired to investigate and work alongside the local police. Through connections of Tres' mother, Tres is interviewed to fill the position of the recently deceased man. It doesn't take long for Tres to become involved in the investigation at a deep level - that occurred the moment that a pipe bomb delivered to the dead professor's office went off just as Tres was moving in. Tres has much to wade through trying to understand who the guilty party is among the different folks who seem to have motive. Drug traffickers, spurned lovers, goons with no morals, and carnies (yes carnies) all seem to focus their attention on ridding themselves of the unrelenting presence of one Tres Navarre.

An intriguing, fast moving tale with just enough humanity, humor, and sweetness to make the story relatable and personal. This is a well done series thus far and I now move onto the fourth book, The Devil Went Down to Austin.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Observations 71

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.
  • Finland has among the best schools in the world, ranking significantly above the United States. One of their key points is that less homework is correlated with better grades. This is news that every single American student will whole-heartedly get behind, not that our students aren't already skilled at getting behind.
  • I had occasion recently to watch some amateur golfers attempt to play a short par-3 hole. For every golfer who hit their tee shot to within 50 yards of the hole, there were at least ten whose ball went no more than 10 yards from the tee. The amusing part of this was that they cursed and carried on as if they expected to do better.
  • I saw a man munching a bagel as he walked across a very busy auditorium. As he walked, a handful of crumbs fell to the floor. He then stopped and picked up each and every one. He then popped them into his mouth. I am still not sure if every piece that he gathered up and ate was in fact a piece of his bagel.
  • I was at a conference recently and was walking back to my room after a busy session. I passed by a lady in the crowd who called out my name. It turns out that she was the wife of a former colleague that I had met only once, some 10 years earlier. Talk about an amazing memory.
  • If the above item did not strike you as interesting, then maybe this will. As I was leaving that interaction, just a bit further down the hallway, the same thing happened again. This time it was the wife of a former colleague that I had met only once, very briefly, some 15 years earlier. Wow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I had to make a recent trip for work to Washington D.C.. As I definitely do not know my way through the twists and turns inside the beltway, I decided to purchase a GPS device for my car to act as my co-pilot. On the way into the city, the device worked great. It told me how far I had to go before my next turn, what lane I needed to be in, and every street name along the way so that I could have complete confidence I was where I was supposed to be. Before I left on my trip, I had also printed out directions and looked these over to familiarize myself with where I would be going. However, when the route mapped out by the GPS unit pretty much lined up with my hardcopy, it completely took all of the pressure off getting to my destination. In fact, my GPS worked so well that it didn't take me long to just mindlessly rely on it to direct me. That blind reliance turned out to bite me later on.

When I had completed my work in D.C. and got back to my car, I turned on the GPS unit and keyed in my home address. I didn't bother to look at my printed directions to cross-check my route. I figured that I would basically retrace my inbound route on my way out of the city. The GPS unit, however, had other things in mind. I went through several long tunnels where the satellite signal was temporarily lost and I didn't know which of several tunnel exits to take. I looked at the frozen screen on the unit and it gave me the electronic equivalent of a "I-dunno" shrug. It was also about 6:00 p.m. and rush hour was in full swing. Too often I entered onto a stretch of road on the right side and had to cut across three or four lanes packed with traffic to get to my left-side exit on the other side of the road. However, without the GPS to tell me to get over, I could only helplessly scramble and inefficiently work my way to where I figured I needed to be.

Every now and then life pulls our safety and security mechanisms out from under us and we go from confident and peace-filled to lost and anxious. Whether it is our health or the health of a loved one, the loss of a job, or personal conflict, it is amazing how quickly our lives can be affected and the sudden depths of our torment. What is even more amazing is how quickly things come back into equilibrium once we exit the tunnel and the satellite signal is found once more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Mystery Knight

The third novella in George R.R. Martin's series The Tales of Dunk and Egg is called The Mystery Knight. This story takes place shortly after the tale in The Sworn Sword. Here we find the knight Ser Duncan the Tall (lowborn Dunk of Fleabottom) and his young squire Egg (the boy prince Aegon Targaryen) traveling their way northward looking to take up service at Winterfell castle. Moving from the service of one regional lord to another is the life of a hedge knight such as Dunk. Along the road they encounter a band of minor lords and knights on their way to the wedding of Lord Butterwell. Some are attending to honor the bride or groom, others to make an appearance as is expected for their liege lord, and some to take part in the knight's tournament that will take place as part of the festivities. As Dunk is hungry and low on coin, he takes up the invitation to attend.

At the wedding, Dunk prepares to enter the lists and goes about getting to know who his competition might be along with their strengths and weaknesses. Egg, a student of the different lords in the kingdom, begins to become suspicious when he notes that the majority of the banners and sigils raised belong to men who fought against the royal family in the so-called Blackfrye rebellion. This rebellion was put down by the king, but at great loss of life and great divide across the kingdom. Egg tells Dunk that this is a tourney of traitors.

It seems that many of the traitors against the crown had become bolder as time passed after the period of the rebellion. Once again they were gathering to raise their armies and to plot their next move. However, Dunk finds himself in the middle of the fray. Yet his honor will not allow him to look the other way and he once again proves why he is a true knight. Along with a few allies that he meets along the way, he makes the decisive moves to tear the new rebellion asunder. A fun tale that fits well in Martin's world of A Song of Ice and Fire. I look forward to further novellas in this prequel series. Although there are only three at present, Martin has indicated in interviews that he has plans for further adventures for Dunk and Egg.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Men in Black

At the laboratory where I work, we are about to complete a $350 million upgrade to the facility. As this effort was supported primarily by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, you can imagine that there are colossal levels of government bureaucracy involved. Not only has every penny spent been endlessly reviewed and inspected and questioned by swarms of humorless government bean counters, they have inflicted on us regular celebrations of our successes. Whenever one of the suits from Washington comes to visit, we are forced to pack our auditorium to welcome them. We are briefed beforehand on the acceptable ways to clap like overly caffeinated baboons and to emote such radiant joy that people can actually tan in our presence.

It is funny that whenever Mayor McCheese or Senator Rooty-tooty appears on the scene, they are proceeded by immense entourages of automatons in black suits. Swarms of confidants and inner-circle schmoozers and hangers-about who are afforded reserved front row seats. It is hilarious to watch their practiced and measured hijinks. After every two sentences uttered by the policitian du jour, they spring to their feet and cheer with such unbounded glee that actual tears begin to spontaneously run down their faces.

"... Is my microphone on? Testing ... testing ..."

(Rabid applause, gutteral animal-type screeching and carrying on) "Four more years, four more years"

Anyway, our most recent enforced celebration included a brief address by the governor of our state. As he read his prepared speech that was clearly written by one of his staff, there was some technical jargon involved. After the governor, who spoke very loudly and smiled in such a way that every tooth in his mouth was clearly visible from miles away, rattled off one paragraph of scientific-type goobty-gook, he shook his head and admitted that he had no idea what he just said. It was the one moment of genuine response and humor in this painfully choreographed spectacle. Of course, the men in black thought that these were the wittiest words ever spoken by any man, ever.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Widower's Two-Step

In the first book in the Tres Navarre series by Rick Riordan, Big Red Tequila, we were introduced to Jackson "Tres" Navarre, a man with a Ph.D. in english literature who has been earning his living training as a private investigator. A man who is honorable and loyal, but who occasionally skirts the letter of the law when he feels it necessary, based on his own personal code of justice. In the first story, Tres was called back to his hometown on the outskirts of San Antonio by an old girlfriend. Old friends and new enemies came into focus after many years away and Tres was able to finally deal with his father's murder, which is what had driven him away those many years ago. With some time, Tres became determined and willing to put down tentative roots and began to plan out some sort of future.

In the second novel in the series, The Widower's Two-Step, Tres is working to earn his PI license with a local investigations office. He is assigned to stake out a musician suspected of stealing a demo tape from a gifted local songstress, Miranda Daniels, who is trying to earn a record deal and make her way to Nashville. However, whenever two coins rub together, eager folks seem to bubble up out of the ooze to lay their claim. On his stake out, the musician is killed by a sniper's bullet and Tres is pulled into a battle between opposing forces looking to claim Miranda as their own. The more Tres digs into the clues, the more he learns that there is more going on than agents angling to represent some local country singer.

The protagonist in this series and his approach to dealing with whatever issues he must face reminds me of John McClane in the Die Hard movies. Like John, Tres also falls into the category of the relucant hero. Brave, witty, tenacious, charming, and clever, he is able to stay just a step or two head of those who want him out of the way. Instead of the settings draped in the trappings of the big city like Die Hard, this one is draped in sensibilities of the southwest. Rick Riordan has made me a fan of his writing and this series. I move onto the next book in this line, The Last King of Texas.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In the News 5

While I have not touched an actual newspaper in some time, I do skim through the news headlines online each day. There is always something that catches my attention, whether it involves human conflict, a human interest piece, the sports wrap, or just the usual absurdities. In this series, I carve out a space for my opinions, reminiscences, or comments.

Classic Kid's Books - There was a recent story on CNN the other day about 15 classic children's books. Flipping through the titles, including The Giving Tree, The Story of Ferdinand, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Poky Little Puppy, and The Snowy Day, took me down a road of reminiscing about my own childhood and about those many nights of reading stories to my daughter. For once reading the news gave me some good feelings.

Derek Jeter - Oftentimes the elite of a given sport are not afforded much respect if they do not play for your team, and they are especially villainized if they play for one of your team's key rivals. However, after watching countless games in which Derek Jeter played (I am a Red Sox fan), it was clear that not only was he a great player, but a great ambassador for his sport. He played the game with passion, with dedication, and with respect. Derek played all 20 years of his distinguished baseball career for the New York Yankees. His last game was Sep. 28, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I first heard the term "chisanbop" through a TV commercial back in the late 70s. It was advertised at around the same time as those spots selling Slim Whitman LPs. That dude's singing made me laugh, although I am certain that wasn't the reaction that Mr. Whitman was hoping for (♫ Una paloma blanca whoa whoa ... ♫). Anyway, chisanbop (pronounced like "cheese and bop") is a system developed by some Korean guy for quickly performing mathematical computations for operations whose answer is between 0 and 99. I remember the commerical showing these really young kids being given a string of numbers, flopping their hands around in a blur, and coming up with the answer that was likely written in a large font size on the teleprompter. It was amazing. What is even more amazing is that I can use chisanbop and demonstrate it like a pro.

So, why am I bring up chisanbop and what does it have to do with the price of tea in China? Well the tie-in with today's blog kind of popped into my head after I had spent some time listening to my pastor pray. I have heard him praying to the congregation during Sunday service and in off-the-cuff moments. His prayers always seem to have a depth and breadth to them that somehow makes his petitions seem more genuine and pious than mine. He knows how to drop in just the right verse or use just the right words to make you think that God must be more in tune with his wavelength. Of course, I realize that God hears my prayers just as much as those of my pastor. But sometimes when I listen to him pray, I think, "Wow that is pretty amazing. I sure wish that I knew how to do that.", which is the reaction that many folks have when they see someone using chisanbop. However, once you have it explained to you, it seems pretty elementary after all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Living on the Ragged Edge

One of my favorite expository teachers of the Bible is Charles Swindoll. I have read dozens and dozens of his books and I have found them to be both clear and an accurate reflection of the Bible. Very rarely have I found myself at odds with something that he has written. His writing style is quite timeless as his approach is not to try to be hip or trendy. He does not fill his books with allusions that go out of date after a few years.

My most recent read from Swindoll was entitled Living on the Ragged Edge and was first published back in 1985. This book was focused on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon. Solomon was the tenth son of King David, and the fourth son of the marriage union of King David with Bathsheba. Solomon was the third king of the united kingdom of Israel, following Saul and his father David. Solomon is recorded in history not only as a king, but as a major prophet of Christianity, of Judaism, and of the Muslim religion. In his younger days he was an ardent believer and had a close relationship with God. He is responsible for construction of the temple in Jerusalem in which God's presence dwelt among the Jews. God granted him wisdom and wealth, the likes have never been seen since. His period of rule is generally believed to be from 970 to 931 BC. In his later years, he drifted and became disillusioned and his faith was drowned out and perverted by idol worship and adopting the traditions of the pagans who interlaced his life.

Ecclesiastes represents a journal of sorts chronicling Solomon's disillusion of living a life without purpose, or at least without a purpose that led to contentment. A life of sexual gratification, a life of immense wealth, a life of human relationships, a life of gluttony with food and drink ... none of these without a relationship with God, Solomon concludes, will ever lead to fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction. There are parts of Ecclesiastes that some in the church view as sacriligeous. Swindoll's approach is to work his way through the journal, providing both interpretation and application to our lives.

The first paragraph of today's blog was written with a "but" lingering. Very rarely have I found myself at odds with something that he has written, but in several sections of this book I found myself fully at odds with Swindoll. Some of his interpretations of the text I fully disagreed with and some of his analysis came across as more than a bit naive and ill-considered. I found myself growing frustrated with him. On top of this, this book was poorly edited. Dozens and dozens of spelling, grammar, and syntax errors, along with far too much repetition and aimless discussion. I would therefore not put this book at the top of my list of Swindoll efforts.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Observations 70

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.
  • "God created the world out of nothing, and so long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us." Martin Luther
  • I absolutely hate it when I find that I have forgotten my wallet after I have driven all the way to the store.
  • "He had always been generous in his praise. It was all he had to give." George R.R. Martin
  • Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks in the NBA referred to himself as "The most underrated superstar." Such a humble soul.
  • I was part of a graduate student's thesis defense recently where the student and the advisor went at each other. As I was trying to calm things down in the aftermath I said aloud, "What's this world coming to when I am the voice of reason?"