Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beginnings, Endings, Big Brother, and Gun Control

NEWS FLASH is basically news or thoughts that may be changing over time - an update or an evolution of thought that covers a multiple of topics. It is what makes a blogger tick and it is the reason why we read. So, with that in mind, I came up with NEWS FLASH as an acronym that stands for what is going on in life:



News (or current events)
Entertainment (movies, TV, celebrity, etc.)
Work (thoughts on the job or employer)
Spirit (thoughts on God and/or the supernatural)
Family (or friends)
Love
Anxiety (a rant or a trouble)
Sports (also considered should be contests, reality tv, recreation, cards, games), and
Home (house, yard, or even another family type of thought.
___________________________________________________________________


NEWS - The debate has heated up in my last post concerning the 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms). The Supreme Court is expected to clarify the controversey around this in this session. See my take and the ensuing debate between Kristen (of course) and myself in Second (2nd) Amendment Right or Myth.

ENTERTAINMENT - Well, Evel Dick and I were both right; he implied that he would be back on Big Brother and I stated that if he did, it would be in the lame cameo appearance role. You can see that little exchange here, and yes I have a few reasons to believe that it was really Evel Dick.
WORK - I am kind of getting a little behind in my work. It really has never been like this before. I am usually a "stay ahead of the game" kind of guy. I really don't know what it is. I guess I am just tired and distracted.
SPIRIT - I am starting to draw closer to God. I have made some decisions that has caused some strain and pain, but it is in line with a biblical approach to life. The world screams when you move in that kind of direction and I do feel the strain. However, I do believe that it will be worth it in the long run.
FAMILY - My sister is getting back from her extended trip this weekend. She is the "good" sister that helps out with my mother and the other family members in need. I am hoping that it will give me some help, but anymore, I don't count on it.
LOVE - Life is funny. As those that have been following along at home (or at work as the case may be), last time here I defended my wife and tried to show her loving side. Well apparently, for some reason, my wife and I didn't see things the same way (I thought they were starting to get better; she didn't). She informed me that she was done and that she is getting out. Life is funny, but I am not laughing.
ANGUISH - See: "LOVE"
SPORTS - On the bright side of things, I am doing very well in my NCAA basketball tourney pools. Might come in handy for lawyer's fees.
HOME - Recently, I have hit it off with one of my commissioners. We seem to have a lot in common and can talk to each other at deeper level than most friends. In a recent conversation, he heard me mention my first car that I still have and that I have been trying to get it restored. He got excited and said, I have the garage and the help; let's get it going! Nice to have a good friend like that. He is older, wiser, and I think a good mentor-type guy. I have never had that; I was always the mentor-type for other people.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Second (2nd) Amendment Right or Myth

In the News:

I would bet at this point that a lot of you are getting sick of the primary elections by now. But really, there isn’t much else going on, is there? Well, apart of Hillary coming to my town the other day and all the mess with Obama’s preacher, there is something else to talk about.

The Supreme Court is going to decide on the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms. The actual text of the document states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Many people hold the view that if the amendment states, “right to bear arms” than that is all you need to know. Others believe that there can be limitations to those rights.

It is my belief that there HAS to be limitations placed on this right. Here’s why: The framers made the point to include the precursor, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” This means that they found it necessary to give this reason. If you take away this reason, than perhaps the right doesn’t exist – or at least can be restricted. Since our “well regulated militias” are now armed BY the government, it is unnecessary to guarantee this right. For those of you who believe that there is an unlimited mandate for US citizens to be able to own guns, please tell me why that precursor exists in the text. Why not, instead, did the framers just state, matter of factly, without any additional conditions that the citizens have an uninhibited right to bear arms? No one has been able to answer that yet, so I doubt anyone here will be able to.

Of course, the Supreme Court may end up disagreeing with me. After all, they have been wrong before.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Without Question, There is Hope for Us All

I believe that Easter is an important enough event that it bears mentioning in this blog. As I think of it, I think of how important the resurrection of Christ actually is. Many people believe that he didn't come back to life - that it was a hoax or a myth, but it isn't really important. They believe that what Jesus taught is the most important thing about the whole Jesus story. But it isn't.

You see, Jesus conquering death is the only reason we have to believe that we can too, if we follow Him. If He merely died and rotted away somewhere, where does that leave us? Sure we can love each other and feed the poor, but we have no real hope, do we, if the resurrection is a myth. It is a good thing that there is plenty of evidence to believe. Maybe this evidence will stir some faith in those who just aren't sure what to believe. With that, I give you an encore post from Easter of last year.

_______________________________________

I think it has chilled some recently, but there was a movement in Christian circles to ban the traditional name for this holiday and call it Resurrection Sunday instead. I mock these types of movements usually, but I certainly understand why this particular one came about. To Christians, this holiday isn’t about a big bunny, eggs, and a ton of candy. No, it is about the hope and the delivery of all in the world to overcome death and escape the bounds that we are stuck in and conditioned to from birth. Still, “Easter”, in present name, means that to me. I guess I am fine with it.

I am reminded at this time of the year how miraculous the Christian faith really is. A fairly large group of individuals followed their spiritual leader only to watch him miserably and shamefully die. From all accounts, they and their new belief system took a large blow. This execution also killed the new religion of these men and women. They went back to their old lives with their tails between their legs.

Then, something happened. The new faith surged! There was talk of this man Jesus actually be seen – returning from the dead as He said He would and talking and teaching to His followers. Even though the tomb was empty and there was no sign of the body, that doesn’t mean he resurrected, does it? Many of the skeptics accused Jesus’ followers from bribing the soldiers guarding the tomb and stealing the body. There were all kinds of theories.

Yet, something happened that took these dejected followers from their hopeless lives and brought them back to preaching Jesus resurrected. They, by the hoards, were willingly dying for this new belief system. Non-believing historians such as the Roman Tacitis and the Jewish Josephus recorded the unlikely events of this new Christian group - that they grew from nothing and hopelessness, to zealots in the name of this Jesus who was rumored to have conquered death. The disturbing query was this: why would these people come back to this faith, preaching a resurrected Jesus if they merely stole and hid the body? Why would they willingly die for a cause they knew was a lie? They knew if they really saw Him. They knew if they really hid his body? What would they gain but death?

Today, as we watch the kiddies run and find their eggs – when we are gorging on ham and chocolate, remember the resurrection. It is more than a rumor about one teacher long ago coming back to life. It was that and more. Easter reminds us that life-changing hope was resurrected by a group of people who actually knew whether or not there was hope. The facts they really knew and their lives that had to respond to those facts gives hope to us all.





Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Discipline or Child Abuse

It's Tuesday and that means I have to tutor my two kindergartners today. I DREAD it. I wonder if that makes me not a "little kid" person. I tend to not think so. What many readers may think after this entry is that I am not a "little kid" person for another reason. I believe in discipline.

This is the reason that I dread the time I spend with these little kids; they have no discipline. They are rude, whiney and disobedient. It frustrates me because if they were my kids, it would not be so - not for long anyway. My belief is that my kids will go through bad spells to "remind" them why normally they aren't rude, whiney, and disobedient.

Will I be the master of the "time out"? Not on your life. Will I only reason with my little kids and explain to them why they must not act this way? Maybe, but only after the dust settles. No, my kids will taste the consequences of disobedience and find it a bitter pill.

Kids do not understand enough to reason. They cannot even start thinking abstractly until they get close to adolescence (see Jean Piaget's cognitive developmental stage theory). They think more concretely. What is concrete? It is cause and effect. If I do this, I suffer this punishment. I do that, I earn praise and reward. A little kid obeys because of this. Later, he understands the merits of the positive behavior as something deeper than reward and/or punishment - but that is LATER.

So what do we have here? The main problem with misbehaving young children is that their butts are too tight. They are too tight because they haven't had to remove their daddy's size 9 from it often enough.

"Oh, but Jeff, you are so cruel!"

On the contrary, someone wiser than me has written, "Spare the rod and HATE your child." It doesn't say "spoil" as most of us have heard, it is "hate". You do your children no service by allowing them to act up. In fact, you set them up for struggles as they get older and even in adulthood. I would argue that allowing a child to grow up without the tools to be able to function in the real world is REAL CHILD ABUSE. That is why you "hate" him if you do not provide proper discipline.

You do yourself no favor, either, by not stepping in to insure that your child learns to be a good and polite citizen. You are judged by your children. When I think of the mother of these kids I tutor, I do not think of her fondly. The same book as mentioned above affirms this thought, "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left undisciplined brings his mother to shame" (Proverbs 29:15).

"Big words, Jeff, but wait till you have your own kids. It will be different."

Of course it is easy for someone to talk about his mythical children and how great they are (or will be). However, because of my family situation, I have already experienced this. When I was a young man - fresh out of college, I raised my two nephews. They behaved. As a matter of fact, I only remember "disciplining" one of them in this manner after the age of seven or so. My youngest nephew stole some things from some people in his life and I found out about it. When he was caught, I explained to him how wrong and disappointed I was in him. Then, I made an appointment with him for an hour later. At that time, he met me in my bedroom where I explained things to him and also explained that this impending discipline was the most difficult act I could do out of love. The next day, I asked him if he understood why I disciplined him in that manner. He replied, "Yes, because you love me and you want me to live a good life." At that point, I knew that this kind of punishment would never be needed again for this boy.

When a child is younger than this, he only understands the consequences and not the abstract reasoning behind it. He doesn't want to be punished; he wants to be praised. He also, if a balance of discipline and praise in the confines of love are shown, does not want to earn his parents' disappointment.

"So Jeff, you want your kids to fear you?"

You betcha! During the preoperational stage of a child, fear = respect. Respect is an abstract concept. A child won't fear the parent 24/7 if the parent metes out fair and just punishment. They only fear the consequences of bad behavior that is meted out by the parent and will respect the parent that has the authority to dish it out. God didn't entrust parents to be their children's best friends, He entrusted them to train them in the way they should go.

"Okay Jeff, you are teaching your child that violences is the way to resolve conflict. I hope you can live with yourself!"

This is a false premise. If one examines the example from my own life, it would be hard to think of it as an example of violence. Violence is as much a state of mind than it is an action. Something escalates into violence. There was no escalation in my real life example; there was a calm example of behavior and consequence - an age-appropriate microcosm of real world behaviors and consequences. This why I think it is very important to not react with "discipline" but mete it out calmly and with deliberate timing.

One of the things that frustrate me is the government telling me how I can and cannot discipline my children. There is a line between discipline and abuse. Too many times, I fear, that the government and bleeding hearts that influence it force the parents of today to hate their children.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Obama, Will Ferrell, and Another Reason To Hate Hunting


NEWS FLASH is basically news or thoughts that may be changing over time - an update or an evolution of thought that covers a multiple of topics. It is what makes a blogger tick and it is the reason why we read. So, with that in mind, I came up with NEWS FLASH as an acronym that stands for what is going on in life:



News (or current events)
Entertainment (movies, TV, celebrity, etc.)
Work (thoughts on the job or employer)
Spirit (thoughts on God and/or the supernatural)
Family (or friends)
Love
Anxiety (a rant or a trouble)
Sports (also considered should be contests, reality tv, recreation, cards, games), and
Home (house, yard, or even another family type of thought.
___________________________________________________________________

NEWS - I am finally ready to make a prediction in the presidential race. No, this prediction isn't based on any psychic thoughts so those of you trying to urge me to get back into that deal can relax. Nope, this is based on my knowledge of politics and political history. So, with my poli-sci degree held firmly in hand, Psychosomatic Wit projects Senator Barack Obama the winner of the Democratic nomination for president.

Here is the reason: Hillary Clinton has no chance without the super delegates alligning for her. For those of you that do not know, super delegates are those who vote for who they want to regardless of how the citizens voted in their states. The super delegates will NOT vote for Clinton if the majority of the popular vote and elected delegates support Obama. It looks like this will be the case.

The Democrat party cannot afford to have the appearance to steal the election away from an African-American. It would ultimately lose a big portion of their voting base if they did. African-Americans are loyal to a culture more than a party. They were overwhelmingly Republican until 1960 - when the Kennedys championed ML King and the causes of civil rights. As a group with a painful history of oppression, they could easily change allegiances if they feel betrayed. Since African-Americans are overwhelmingly supporting Obama, Democrats will have to tread lightly. They would easily risk the White House this year to the Republicans in return for not losing the African-American portion of their base.

ENTERTAINMENT - I caught the new movie, Semi-Pro, the new Will Ferrell vehicle. If you like all of his other movies, you will like this one. If you are wanting something a little different, you will be disappointed. What bothers me the most about his movies is that they could make them "PG" without losing any humor. Think of the funniest parts of a Will Ferrell movie. They are seldom the things that would cause an "R" rating. I guess we will always be stuck with some content that isn't suitable for kids - or the rest of us for that matter.

WORK - Things are picking up a pretty good pace here. I have a big meeting coming up, an annual report and a budget that has to be done. I also, have to reschedule our big event that was cancelled because of weather. On top of that, my intern disappeared and got married. She is just 17 and still in high school. Poor kid!

SPIRIT - Life is very difficult and confusing right now for me. It feels like I am ALWAYS at a crossroads. I honestly don't know what is going to happen with any facet of my life presently. These are the times when I thank God that I don't have to know. I can let go of the wheel and let God guide me to where I need to be. My best thinking has gotten me to this state of confusion so I understand that surrendering to a higher power is the best way to get me to where I need to be. I just so happen to be able to commune with the highest power. Praise God.

FAMILY - Oh boy, my little sister is in the hospital again and they want to put her in a nursing home. She is not happy about it. Every one in my family has car troubles and transportation now is at a premium. We (my wife and I) are down to one working vehicle. We'll get by.

LOVE - I continue to learn and practice stated learning about how to deal with my marriage. Lately, my wife has been struggling emotionally. It scares me, but now I have been just giving her space. She has told me that she doesn't want space during these times, but I guess I want it. I don't trust myself to say the right things. As thin as I am spread now, I REALLY don't trust myself.

ANGUISH - What is bothering me the most right now is illness. I just can't seem to get and stay healthy. I think it is a combination of being spread too thin, being around little kids that I tutor, and not getting enough rest. Now, on top of this horrible cold that I have, I also sport a conglomeration of cold sores on my upper lip. It is the worst thing. Everywhere I go, I feel like that Tide commercial for the stain remover where the guy is in a job interview, but the stain on his shirt keeps attracting the interviewers attention by shouting nonsense words while the poor guy is trying to answer the interview questions. With me, it is the cold sores that draw the attention of everyone around me like ham sandwich attracts a dog's. Either I have the worst colds on the planet, or I am the biggest baby when it comes to colds. I don't really care which it is, the fact remains that I really suffer through these things.

SPORTS - It is championship week for college basketball. The tournament brackets come out Sunday and I am usually in the middle of several pools. I normally run my own, so if anyone wants to fill out a bracket, let me know. It is hard to be too excited for my Indiana team, though. They haven't done very well since losing their cheater of a coach. I think they are probably one win and done this year, which is a shame since they have all the ingredients to make a strong run.


HOME - The drama of the week around the homestead has to be with my retriever Marley. A while back, I told you about his problem with his hip and back. You should read about it here to get the full effect of this bit of drama. Ninety-nine percent of you are skipping the link and continuing so I guess that is your loss. Anyway, we took him to our new vet (the one my wife now works for) to see what he thought about it. He cleaned out some infected scar tissue and had an x-ray done. The x-ray should have been done last year by former vet because it had an interesting story to tell. My poor dog, Marley, has an arrow head in his back. It is one of those nasty hunter's tips that expand inside its target. It barely missed his spinal cord but is still causing problems. Someone must have shot him from a deer stand when he was just a little pup. The bones have now grown around the arrow head and it will nearly be impossible to get out. The vet has referred him to another vet in another town that is more of an expert on this type of back thing. This will be very expensive so we can kiss Jamaica goodbye.
You know, I really hate hunting and the whole hunting mentality. How someone can get enjoyment out of killing beautiful animals is beyond my ability to understand. It is also pretty scary. I mean, if someone can guiltlessy slaughter a beautiful and graceful deer, how far is that removed from blowing away an ugly and offending human? Now I have a great dog that has been suffering needlessly for years because someone with no sense was, and probably still is, weilding a weapon. It sickens me.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Time of my Wife

It has been said here and elsewhere that my wife is immature and has other unflattering attributes that prevent her from having a healthy relationship with me. Because of my influence, i.e. my point of view, all evidence presented here would back up those assertions. There is some truth to these, I wistfully admit. However, there is another side of her. I think it is only fair to present this side.

A couple of months ago, we were in dire need of a new vacuum cleaner. Having five dogs will re-arrange one's priorities in this manner. We ended up shelling out major bucks for a Dyson (I whole-heartedly endorse this product, by the way). As a result, she made me agree to not do anything for Valentine's Day - in the line of gifts. None for me. None for her. Just cards.

Monday, February 11 - I find this note with an artificial sunflower (my favorite flower):


Happy Valentine's Week

Day 1

These are a few of your favorite things . . .

When I think of you, I think of sunflowers!

Love you,

Your Wife


Tuesday, February 12 - I find this note with a small horseshoe. I LOVE horses and horse racing. I am not all about the betting aspect, just a love for horses and watching them run:


Happy Valentine's Week

Day 2

These are a few of your favorite things . . .

When I think of you, I think of your love of horses!

(This is an aluminum race plate worn on a winning thoroughbred at Oaklawn Park in

Hot Springs, Arkansas. It still has racetrack dirt in it - that has to be lucky!)

Love you,

Your Wife


Wednesday, February 13 - I find this note with a folded t-shirt. On it was "Jamaica" nicely stitched on the front:


Happy Valentine's Day

Day 3

These are a few of your favorite things . . .

When I think of you, I think of t-shirts. Just kidding!

I think of our honeymoon in Yeah-Mon Land (Sigh. . .)

Love you,

Your Wife


Finally, on Valentine's Day she showered me with sugar free candy (respecting my diet and knowing that I like it). She even found sugar-free peeps! I LOVE peeps. She gave me a wonderful card and framed, old-fashioned, artistic print of the Island of Jamaica.
She didn't give me just a token, obligatory card. She put effort into it and made me feel that I was worth the trouble.

When I thought about doing this post, I thought that the Valentine's story would be it. However, earlier this week, my wife choked me up again. Monday night I got home late. I was bustled because I had to rush from my main job to a secondary job teaching a class on SAT preparation. After I was finished, I called my wife and asked her if I could bring something home for her. See, I am always mindful that my wife may feel that I am neglecting her because I am always busy. Sometimes I feel that she doesn't understand all the things I do nor understand all the reasons that I do them.

I stopped and brought home a bite to serve as a late supper for us. After eating, I had to run some errands (picking up prescriptions, check on my mother, etc. and take out my mother's trash (trash night for her and me on Mondays). Of course, I got home late and exhausted. My wife was already in bed, but left me a note. It literally choked me up:


"Dearest Jeff,

I want you to know that I REALLY, appreciate all the many things you do each and every day. You are a great son, teacher, helper, and of course, husband. I don't know what I (or anyone else!) would do without you. Thanks for being who you are. You're good at it!

Love you and goodnight,

Your Wife"


I don't know if any of you will really get what I got out of that, but you don't have to. It worked for me and it was the best thing I could have found that night. Oh, how I wanted to wake her up and let her know. . . but I let her sleep.
As I was getting ready to send this, I received a text message from her that only said, "Love you".
Enough said.