Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving: Two Perspectives

This year has been a rough-and-tumble one for the country, the region and for a lot of us. I wanted to take a moment to make sure I wished you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving. I am reminded equally of two great Americans with distinctly insightful looks at this uniquely American holiday.

Theodore Roosevelt offered a humbling reminder to show our gratitude, not just say it, when he said, "Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."

Of equal importance was the observation of Kevin James, who put it perhaps more succinctly when he said, "Thanksgiving, man; Not a good day to be my pants."

Whether you're focused on gathering close to friends and family or simply getting some prime turkey, I hope you and yours have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. And, thank you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

So Cool....

Liu Bolin is the invisible man. He's an artsit who paints himself to become invisible. To wit:

You can find even more by CLICKING HERE. There are some amazing examples...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Amazing Story...

In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe' s legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Car Buying by the Numbers...

11-07-96 - Purchase date my Honda Acccord. Since then...

4 - Doors on the car, which put a small dent in my soul, at the time
5 - Speed manual transmission, it's saving grace at the time..and it's black
0 - Accidents, large or small
0 - Major mechanical malfunctions
0 - Tickets (lucky, I am sure)
1 - Little Fish who came home from the hospital as a newborn
1 - Parades the car has been in (I inadvertantly turned onto a parade route and was quickly escorted off...still, it counts)
2 - Clutches
3 - Homes in which I have lived
5 - Jobs
8 - Pets (doesn't include fish)
13 - States visited
63 - Approximate number of oil changes
252,132 - Miles driven (picture taken as I turned it over a quarter of a million)

10 - Number of times that would be driving around the entire Earth (over the poles)
11-07-09 Date of sale, 13 years to the day

1 - week I have owned The Replacement, a 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe. Some big, durable shoes it needs to fill, but we're off to a good start...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bike for Collin

Know anyone that needs a 54cm road bike. You're not going to find a better buy that THIS ONE. You might remember Collin, who was a big part oof the inspiration for this year's team Fish LiveSTRONG ride. He continues to fight cancer and the fine folks of Teh Lounje at RoadBike Review built a bike and are auctioning it off as a fundraiser. Click above to see the auction. Go Collin!

Veteran's Day

I make a point to touch base This from my friend Eric, who is currently serving in the Air Force, every year at this time. This was his reply: I had the good fortune to meet some real heroes.

I spoke at a small town Veterans Day celebration today in St Peters, MO. I was amazed at the hundreds of vets whose hands I shook. They had served from World War 2 to the present. The one vet that was most unforgettable was an elderly gentleman that was tottering away from the event at the end; he was by himself and I just wanted to make sure I shook his hand and said thank you and good-bye.

When I walked over to him to tell him goodbye, he slowly looked up at me (he couldn’t have been much over 5 feet tall), deliberately eyed my rack of ribbons and then said: “I bet I’ve got one you don’t.” I smiled, laughed, and said “I’m sure you do”. Then I took a guess. “Is it from the Korean War?”—although he clearly looked old enough to have served in WW2, I didn’t want to insult him by over-estimating his age. He answered by taking a trembling hand and slowly reaching inside his jacket and into his shirt pocket. Then, he haltingly pulled out two ribbons I had never seen in my life. I took one and turned it over in my hand so I could read its front. I nearly hit the floor when I realized it was for landing on Omaha Beach during Operation Overlord. At first I was struck dumb. Then all I could think to do was say how honored I was to speak with him and simply say “thank you” to this living legend—a man who had survived D-Day.

Not knowing how to speak intelligently to a man that had already awed me so much, I simply said “it must have taken tremendous courage to step off that landing craft and into bad-guy country”. He looked at me and deadpanned, “I didn’t have much choice, the people in the back were pushing.” (It wasn’t until later that I thought, why were the guys in back pushing? If I was in back I’d be saying “no hurry, you guys take your time up there; I’m fine back here).

He then went on to say:

I wasn’t one of the first ones in, so we’d heard some chatter on the radio about how bad it was. We’d heard people were getting mowed down and some were even drowning as soon as they stepped off their landing craft. I’ve never liked water, so I was more worried about drowning than anything else. I was really pretty scared of drowning. As it turned out, that wasn’t a problem, when the front of our landing craft came down the bodies were piled so deep I was able to walk on them all the way to the beach.

In my lifetime, I have had a number of heroes. This man, stooped, trembling, and moving slowly, now towers above them all.

Join me in thanking this giant by taking full advantage of all the rights that he and other veterans have defended. Vote in every election; write letters to the editor of your local paper; volunteer your time for a worthy cause; fulfill your jury duty; be a volunteer fire fighter; mentor a child; represent your country well while abroad; live your life, and be a good American. By doing all these things, veterans will be proud to know their sacrifices were not in vain. This is the thanks Americans can give. Live your lives well, as productive citizens should.

Quoted with permission.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

All Saints Day -- Reflections and Meditations

I went for a hike to the top of a local mountain with my daughter and our dog today. It's All Saint's Day, the day we remember the departed saints who have gone before us into eternal rest. I had a great time getting up to the top, hiking and talking with my daughter in our easy, casual style.

Church was good, and I spent time in prayer and thought for a departed friend who lost her fight with cancer this year. I miss you, Terri.

I also got out for a bike ride, my first in almost two months. Again, I spent a lot of time thinking about friends who have passed into their rest. I had someone ask me about the meditative nature of my workouts, and this is an example. My mind focuses on the things that I don't get to think about in the hectic nature of my general week.

I also spent time this weekend in discussion about how we, as men, have a tendency to hang on to our sins, our garbage. We believe they offer more than the incredible power of our Lord. Of course, it's a lie, but we like to hang onto that garbage. I was reminded of this scene from The Mission. To set it up, DeNiro has been persecuting the Guarani, a tribe of local natives, enslaving them. He meets Jeremy Irons, a priest, and his heart begins to soften, but he recognizes he needs to do penance...he needs to hang on to his "stuff", in this case the armor and weapons that are a symbol of his old self, a little longer. Watch this, and recognize the freedom God offers us in forgiveness, and let's let go of our stuff"....