Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WAR IS EVIL

I am probably the last person to be qualified to write this entry.  President Nixon ended the draft a year before I would have been eligible.  I have never been in the military much less in a combat situation.  Most of what I know about war has come from reading books, watching documentaries, receiving news reports and first hand accounts from men who have found themselves in this situation.

That opening paragraph has been sitting on this blog for almost two weeks.  I stare at it repeatedly trying to think how to follow up.  The intent that was supposed to arise from that paragraph was how war, being in combat situations changes people.  Every time I try to write I realize I don't know a thing about it.

 I think of the photos that came from the Abu Ghraib prison.  I think about the recent photos of Americans Urinating on the corpses of dead enemy soldiers.  Americans do not do this kind of activity in war.  That is what we have been taught through the years anyway.  Then again there is a great propaganda machine that the military of every country has to show how their military are the good guys and the atrocities that the enemy does to justify the war we are currently in.

It was easy to keep the propaganda machine under control before the Vietnam war.  Ever since that horrible time of history, information began to come to us at an increasingly fast pace.  We saw film footage of our soldiers doing things we never thought they were capable of doing.  As time has gone by the information has become almost instantaneous as they happen and the images and the facts of what was going on landed in our living rooms, on our computers and in our laps so fast it almost overwhelms us.

I have no idea what it is like in combat.  I have no idea what our military sees and what they are forced to deal with on a daily basis.  I am not sure I want to know.  I think back to those photos from abu ghraib.  These enemy personal were responsible for torture, hard torture, on their own people.  They were responsible for executions on a daily basis.  How would they treat our soldiers if they were prisoners instead of the other way around.  I don't know, but I do know I have seen these people cut off the heads of innocents.  Torture being applied that would break any man in two.  I can see a side of it that after witnessing situations like that, that when they are captured it could be a natural response to give them a little of their own medicine. 

I am not saying it is right, but it is certainly understandable.  Yes there are times when it is totally unacceptable what some of our troops do.  The Mei Lei massacre comes to mind.  That was such a horrendous action that a court martial was definitely in order.  But some of the things that have come out of Iraq and Afghanistan was not torture.  They took some embarrassing photographs of the prisoners. 

I stand by our troops.  I am proud of the job they they do in a very difficult situation.  I think they are the, without qualification, the most decent military in the world.  I try to understand why their thinking and their actions may stray a little from perfect as they find themselves in situations that they are in.

My cousins father was involved in one of the forces in World War Two that went into a German concentration camp hot and liberated it while the German military was still there running it.  The pictures were awful and horrific.  They piled the German officers in a pile in a corner like a pile of trash, not treating the bodies with any respect what so ever.  I don't blame them.  After seeing what the camp was. I feel it would be natural to treat the Germans at that point in time with less dignity than a normal human would deserve.

I talked to my father who went in and liberated some of the camps as an eighteen year old.  Being faced with the horrors of those camps at such a young age would definitely effect your feelings towards those who ran the camps.  He doesn't like to talk about it.

I have seldom came across a Vietnam War vet who wanted to talk about their experiences over there.  My Brother in law would not talk about it.  After he died, I came across several pictures of his time in Vietnam.  In those pictures I saw a group of men surviving in any way possible and trying to keep life as normal as possible while finding themselves in an almost desperate situation.  The Vietnam Vets returned home from duty and were treated like garbage by their own people.  God help us that this never happens again.

I try to treat any member of the military with respect that they are due.  We have been attacked on our own soil more than once and these are the men and women who are going to fight to keep us safe and free no matter what ti takes.

This country needs to try to dig down a little deep and try to understand what the situations these soldiers are faced with every day and be a little more forgiving when they may step over the line slightly.  They are in a difficult situation and they do it voluntarily.

Thanks to all of our military.  I wish I could understand all you go through but on the other hand, part of me is glad that I don't have to understand it.  I just have to be understanding.

I am proud to be an American and I am extremely proud of the American Military.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mean Old Man - James Taylor

On my own, how could I have known?
Imagine my surprise.
Just a fool from a tree full of fools
who can't believe his eyes,
imagine my surprise?

I was a mean old man,
I was an ornery cuss,
I was a dismal Dan,
I made an awful fuss.
Ever since my life began, man, it was ever thus,
I was a nasty tyke who was hard to like.
I had to misbehave,
I did things in reverse,
refused to wash or shave,
I was horrid to my nurse.
I got back what I gave which only made me worse,
I had to have my way which was bleak and gray.

Oh dear, living in here, one hundred years of rain.
Such a drag, this riches to rags with just myself to blame,
a dirty low-down shame.

Silly me, silly old me, somewhere outside my mind.
Clever you walking me through,
willing to lead the blind just in the nick of time.

Who gets a second chance?
Who gets to have some fun?
Who gets to learn to dance before his race is run?
Who gets to shed his skin?
Who comes up born again?
Who was a mean old man till you turned him into
a golden retriever puppy dog?

Who's a good boy?





Thursday, January 12, 2012

BABIES IN THE FRONT YARD

There was a time before one of our infamous ice storms here in Kansas City that I had a very large tree in my front yard.  It had been there since the house was built and had served many purposes.  When we moved in, Mr. Allard had a swing attached to one of the lower branches for his son Garrett to play on.  As proof that Garrett used the swing, there was a small patch of grass less ground underneath the where the swing sat.  I took the swing down when we moved in because we didn't have any kids and because I wanted to have a nice looking front yard.  Later when we did bring Brett home, I would hang a similar swing on the large tree in the back yard where it served the same purpose but was safer.

The tree had provided morning shade to the front of the house while the tree out back shaded that side of the house.  The house was shade covered year around and the shade kept the house from getting too hot in the summer.

The tree out front was also home to many families of different species.  There was the Robin family who were always alert and seemed nervous a lot of the time.  We didn't see much of them unless I had just mowed the yard.  Then they would come down and pick up some extra padding for their home or see if any worms were exposed by the shorter grass.

The Bluejay family was always out and about and kept busy.  I am not sure what they were being so busy about but they were always swooping here and there and making a terrible racket.  Between them and the Starling family it seemed at times to be an all out war.  The starlings usually won the battles simply because they out numbered the Bluejay family by about ten to one.  I would find a dead bluejay in the front yard once in a while and a fallen Starling even less.  One thing for sure though was that these two families did not get along.

The Cardinal family did not actually live in my tree but had a home in the tree next door to mine.   They did however visit their friends on down the street a lot and would use our tree as a resting point or simply to gather together before heading out to visit.  They were nice birds, beautiful birds.  They would call to their friends down the block with a nice simple whistle and after a second or two, you could hear the response from the other Cardinal family.  They did not seem to socialize much with the other birds in the neighborhood preferring to keep to themselves.

The largest family in the tree both in size and probably number was the Squirrel family.  They kept house in the upper most branches of the tree so that during the summer when leaves adorned all the branches it was invisible from the ground.  It seemed like the members of the family just came down from the heavens to the lower branches of the tree during the summer.  In winter though, with the tree stripped of it leaves, the nest was visible.  It was a huge house for the family and I often wondered how the smaller branches toward the top of the tree supported the structure. 

The tree served as a highway for the Squirrel family.  Not being able to fly in order to get somewhere they would either have to chance going down on the ground where dogs and other sorts of animals would chance them back into the tree.  They developed the system of branch hopping.  The tree next door had branches that inter twined with my tree and so they would go from tree to tree without having to come down to the ground.  It was assumed that this was how they taught their children to travel so they would not be put in peril by going down to the ground.

The front tree also had branches that hung close to the roof of the house.  This mad for easy access to many trees up and down the block.  They had discovered that they could jump on the roof, scurry over it and on the back side of the house they had access to the big tree in the back yard.  More important though was that the telephone wires came to the corner of the house and led out to a pole at the back of the yard.  This pole had wires that ran the length of the block and you could see them running up and down the wires to visit friend who lived in other trees far away.

Using this system the Squirrel children were seldom seen until one cool summer Saturday morning.  It was about ten in the morning when the mail arrived and I stepped out to retrieve it.  As I did I saw something very small move in the grass.  I took a couple of steps and the movement stopped.  I then saw three other little fuzzy animals staying fairly close to one another.  As I studied them I realized that it was the Squirrel children.  They had been allowed to come down from the nest and explore the ground.  My eyes scanned upward until I saw Mrs. Squirrel about twenty feet up keeping a close eye on the situation.  Slowly I moved back into the house keeping an eye on the strange event.

I called out to Barb to bring Brett out.  There was something they had to see.  As Barb and Brett arrived the baby squirrels became more active.  They were exploring everything without getting to far from the tree.  It seemed that if one of them moved a little too far out, a sharp chatter from mom would move them back towards the tree.  My family went out to watch the Squirrel family.  We stood a safe distance and watched the baby squirrels as they explored.  They were really cute and so fuzzy looking.  I kept an eye on the mother to be sure we weren't getting too close for her comfort.

About five minutes passed when my next door neighbor came out to start his Saturday work on his lawn.  He looked at us and asked what was going on.  After explaining that the baby squirrels were down on the ground he went into his house and got his wife and son, who was a little younger than our son, to take advantage of being able to see the babies.

Jim, the old man across the street was watching all of this going on from his garage.  He watched our little circle of humans standing in the middle of my front yard with curiosity.  It wasn't long before he and his wife Martha and their daughter, who is about my age came strolling across the street to see what was going on.

So there we were, nine human beings standing very still and being very quiet watching nature at it's best.  The baby squirrels continued to explore but their mother was starting to get nervous.  She began to chatter a little either to warn the children or to warn us.  Whoever she was warning it wasn't working.  We held our ground in our circle and her babies continued to explore without a care in the world.

The situation finally got the better of the mother squirrel.  She came down to the ground and looked around at all the humans.  There were far too many of us for her to be comfortable at all.  She picked up the closest baby to her and grabbed it by the neck with her teeth.  The baby curled up in a ball and the mother raced up the tree taking her child home where it was safe.  We watched as she moved quickly all the way up to the homestead and deposited her first child.  She then came racing down the tree and landing on the ground stopped to check the humans again to be sure we weren't making any moves.  The second child came into the grasp of her mouth and rolling itself into a ball like her sibling, was whisked off to the top of the tree and safety.  Too more times the mother squirrel performed this routine until all of the babies were safe at home.

When she was done she came back down the tree stopping about five feet from the ground.  She looked at the nine of us one more time then turning, ran back home to take care of the family and to be sure things went as they were suppose to.  I imagine she thought herself silly for taking such a risk with the kids by letting them on the ground, but at the same time I think she thought it had been a good experience for them.  They had been on the ground and faced danger and had survived.  Surely it would be a good lesson that could serve them well as they grew older and went off to establish homes of their own.

As for the nine of us who had watched with great interest in the show that was presented before us, we spent the next half hour or so talking about what had just happened. The protective nature of the mother squirrel.  The innocence of the babies not knowing that danger very well could come down upon them and cause them great harm.  The manner in which the mother carried the babies up the tree and the speed in which she did so.  It was fascinating and made our Saturday morning just a little bit special.

None of us had seen a show like that before.  We had not witnessed baby squirrels at all and enjoyed watching them explore and learn.  None of us have witnessed such a show since either.  It was a rare opportunity that was given us and something that we all still remember to this day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mr. Carlin Hasn't Visited The Blog For Awhile

All quotes by George Carlin

Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?

How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?

Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people

Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

How is it possible to have a civil war?

If God dropped acid, would he see people?

If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?

If you ate pasta and antipasti, would you still be hungry?

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

Whose cruel idea was it for the word “Lisp” to have a “S” in it?

Why are hemorrhoids called “hemorrhoids” instead of “assteroids”?

Why is it called tourist season if we can’t shoot at them?

Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?

Where are we going? And what’s with this hand basket?

If the “black box” flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn’t the whole damn airplane made out of that stuff?

Never raise your hands to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected

I’m not into working out. My philosophy is no pain, no pain

I’m in shape. Round is a shape

I’m desperately trying to figure out why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets

Do illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?

I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific

Ever notice when you blow in a dog’s face he gets mad at you, but when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window?

Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

You have to stay in shape. My mother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now and we have no idea where she is

I have six locks on my door, all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three of them

One out of every three Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of two of your best friends. If they are OK, then it must be you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GOD'S MUSIC

The old hymnals that held the old classic hymns seem to be fading away.  More and more churches are singing the new choruses and forgetting the songs that we, my generation, were raised on.  I find this sad.  Don't get me wrong.  I am glad that there are songwriters out there writing some beautiful music in praise of God.  It just seems to me that not only the music of the old hymns, but the words as well were more beautiful.  The old hymns are some of the finest poetry around and they seem to bring about an understanding of the faith that the new choruses seem, to me, to fall just a little short.  The key to the old hymns were paying attention to the words and understanding what they mean.  It takes a little more work to get to that understanding in the old songs, but oh is it worth it when you finally "get it" and understand where those writers were coming from, what they were trying to convey.  I miss the old hymns.  I miss the hymnals that housed them.  I have nothing against the new music and the choruses, I just hate to see today's younger generations missing out on what those old hymns meant, and how beautiful they were both music wise and lyric wise.
  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  4. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  5. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.
  6. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, who called me here below,
    Will be forever mine.
  7. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------
  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.
    • Refrain:
      It is well, with my soul,
      It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.
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  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
    And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain.
    • Refrain:
      So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
      Till my trophies at last I lay down;
      I will cling to the old rugged cross,
      And exchange it some day for a crown.
  2. Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.
  3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see,
    For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me.
  4. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
    Where His glory forever I’ll share.
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     1  O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
         Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
         I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
         Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

    2   Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
        How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
        Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
        How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

   3  When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
       And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
      When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
      And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

  4  Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
      How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
      Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
      How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

  5  And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
      Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
      That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
      He bled and died to take away my sin.

 6   Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
      How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
      Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
      How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

 7  When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
     And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
     Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
     And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

  8  Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
      How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
      Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
      How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
 ----------------------------------------------------------
  1. I come to the garden alone,
    While the dew is still on the roses,
    And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    The Son of God discloses.
    • Refrain:
      And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
      And He tells me I am His own;
      And the joy we share as we tarry there,
      None other has ever known.
  2. He speaks, and the sound of His voice
    Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
    And the melody that He gave to me
    Within my heart is ringing.
  3. I’d stay in the garden with Him,
    Though the night around me be falling,
    But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
    His voice to me is calling.
---------------------------------------------------------
  1. I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
    No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
    • Refrain:
      I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
      Every hour I need Thee;
      Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
      I come to Thee.
  2. I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
    Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
  3. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
    Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
  4. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
    And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
  5. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
    Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
----------------------------------------------------------
  1. Just as I am, without one plea,
    But that Thy blood was shed for me,
    And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  2. Just as I am, and waiting not
    To rid my soul of one dark blot,
    To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  3. Just as I am, though tossed about
    With many a conflict, many a doubt,
    Fightings and fears within, without,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
    Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
    Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  5. Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
    Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
    Because Thy promise I believe,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
  6. Just as I am, Thy love unknown
    Hath broken every barrier down;
    Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.