Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mike's Memories: Radical

Before graduating from OSU that May of 1971, the Army had cancelled all deferments for for college students and replaced the current draft system with the lottery. In January a lottery drawing was held on national television. Numbers were drawn much like a lotto with ping pong balls with birthdays from January 1 to December 31 listed on them. These were placed on a board in order. We were told that anyone with a birthdate drawn in the first 110 should expect to be drafted immediately and after that the higher the drawing order the the less your chances of ever getting drafted. We watched with another couple. I drew number "17" and his birthday was "300+". I received a letter for a physical two weeks later. I was in my last semester and was going to Vietnam instead of graduating. So, I joined the Oklahoma National Guard, 120th Combat Engineers and traded 2 years in the Army for 6 years in the Guard, but with a degree!

Part 1

In August, 1971 I arrived at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri for Army Basic Training. ECCO Company was made up of a combination of 18 year olds going into the regular army and college grads just out of school. In basic the normal forms of conversation revolved around girls, getting drunk and cars. I was married, did not drink, and easily bored. Three of us in the company became friends, James Jensen, Harold Harris and me. (JJ, HH & MM!) Jensen was a skinny pale, college dropout from Chicago but well read, Harold was a black North Carolina grad and I was a small town Oklahoma boy with an Architecture degree. James and I really hit it off because we liked current events and politics, read newspapers daily and he knew more about Architectural history than I did. he would tell me stories of going to Woodstock, and voter registration drives in the south in the 60's and Campus riots. I did not believe him but they were good stories. We set up nights arguing politics, and he once told me, "Mike, if you want to vote for a president, you had better vote in the 72 elections because those elections will be the last! Revolution was coming. "

James also constantly pushed the Drill Sargent (DI) buttons by messing up in exercises and falling back in runs. However, on the rifle range he, from day one, shot almost perfect "bull's eye" every time, every shot!. The D I would overlook his other failings because James would represent our company in the M16 qualifying contests. The day of qualifying he barely passed! He made the minimum score to pass!

I went to the hospital one night with 104 temperature and stayed for three days. During that time he showed up every night after lights out (breaking many rules) and brought me copies of the Chicago Tribune.

In October after the first part of basic, I remained at Leonard Wood in Combat Engineering and James and Harold went to Fort Polk for Infantry training. I got a letter from Harold in November saying that James was AWOL!

Part 2

I arrived back in Muskogee in December to resume my job and in January came home from work one day to find 2 FBI agents in our home with a puzzled Carol as host. They stated that the Army had identified me as a friend of James Jensen. I said yes. Then as Paul Harvey once said, they told me "the rest of the story". James was actually Ronald Kaufman, a Federal fugitive, a member of the Weather Underground, a ARMY VETERAN and instead of being a college dropout he had a PHD from Stanford, a Masters from Wisconsin & a bachelor's from the University of Illinois. During the Chicago riots at 1968 Democratic Convention, Abbie Hoffman used "James's "apartment as a crash pad. His nickname was "Abbie's Jewish Momma!"

It seems my good friend James had placed time bombs in safe deposit boxes in eight New York, Chicago and San Francisco banks in July of 71, and "rejoined" the army as a place to hide out and learn about C4 explosives! His fingerprints matched those of the AWOL James. He had sent letters to various newpapers telling taht bombs were in the local banks and that in the future bombs would be embedded in the foudations of buildings under construction! His letters warned that future bombs would be of plastique explosives (C4) and news reports later said that the bombs were very advanced because the timers used could be set months in advance instead of hours.

They told me that all this was about to become public. They cautioned me that if he came to Muskogee to visit, I would be harboring a fugitive! All I could think of was how good he was with guns! It was all like a movie!

2 weeks later Time magazine had pictures of him with Abbie Hoffman, copies of threatening letters and stories of his exploits (many of which he had told me). I didn't think anyone had been all those places. I was wrong! He was wrong also. I have voted many times since 1972, but I do not ever forget his statements. I still have pictures of Jensen and I and the Time articles and radio copy of his story that was on a radio show called Life Line.

Yes, I once knew one of the 60's radicals.

Part 3

One day in the late 80's I was in my car listening to the radio news, when the reporter mentioned that a SDS radical fugitive on the FBI 10 Most Wanted list was captured in California after 20 years in hiding. James (or Ronald) was working as a janitor in a California School!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quotes of George W.

"Laura and I really don't realize how bright our children is sometimes until we get an objective analysis." CNBC, April 2000 from my desk calendar

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I was at the book store today and saw a special TIME magazine, 4oth Anniversary Special Edition, 1968. For me it was required reading. This year is our 4oth Anniversary also. We were married on June 1, 1968, I turned 21 on June 5, 1968, I started summer school at OSU on June 5, 1968 and that night Robert F. Kennedy was killed after winning the California primary.
Carol had started work for OSU Dairy department. I was going to school and working for the Dairy also delivering milk to the dorms. We lived in a third floor apartment (that burnt 6 months after we moved out!) drove a 65 Mustang and a 55 Ford Crown Vic. Out rent was $54 dollars a month and tuition was an astounding $8.00 an hour.

1968 was a major major year in my life and that of the world. The parallels of 1968 and today are noticeable also.

1. Vietnam War was still going. No end in site. Today we have IRAQ.
Pete Seger sang: "We're waist deep in the Big Muddy and the Big Fool said push on!"
Merle sang: "If your running down Old Glory, Hoss, your walking on the Fighting Side of me".
Sort of a Dixie Chicks/Toby Keith thing!
2. Andy Warhol made the famous statement: "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes. Now thanks to U tube, blogs, face book and my space, we are!
3. Robert Kennedy was running for president as the young face of change against established politicians in the Democratic party. Richard Nixon was running again (after previously losing) and most attention right to the convention was given to the democrats. Sounds fairly familiar!
4. Authur Ash, a black tennis player from South Africa, was the first Tiger Woods.
5. The Rolling Stones were popular!
6. 60 Minutes TV show began. Andy Griffin was #1, and the MOD Squad was the Law & Order.
7. Tammy Wynette sung, "Stand by Your Man" and Hillary was crucified for doing it!
8. O.J. won the Heisman ! Nuff said.
9. "The Graduate" & "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner!" set movies in the direction of Boomers.
10. Martin Luther King was killed.
11. 2001 Space Odyssey: If you had asked me in 1968 what 2008 would be like though, I would have said everything would be ultra contemporary with cars running on something other than gas and cities on the Moon and Mars. The things portrayed in that Movie made all the sense in the world. After all the last great event of 1968 was on Christmas Eve as we set watching our black & white TV in Stillwater tuned to channel 9 in OKC while getting the sound from channel 6 in Tulsa from our FM receiver. The event was the three Apollo astronauts circling the Moon and reading from Genesis 1. In my lifetime, I have witnessed men walking and driving on the Moon.
My children have NOT! 40 years ago we were in the space age. Today we are not only out of that age, our "shuttle" space adventurers would not be permitted to read such things on TV.

40 years! Peace! & Sock it to me!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An architect goes to church: Doing Good

It seems ironic that I have spent my whole life "going to church" and have learned many passages of the Bible, argued endlessly on many issues and beliefs and have still missed the point! I recently heard 3 lessons from Rick Atchley on the subject, "The church has left the building". It was not new ground in that all the scriptures used were familiar and I have studied them endless times. The difference was in the application. It was a good example of why Christians are divided even though we use the same Bible. If you are taught to put the emphasis on one word ahead of another, you can change or water down the point at hand.

Hence Matthew 5:16 "In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

Hebrews 10:24 "And let us consider how we can spur one another toward love and good deeds."

1 Timothy 6:18 "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds."

Titus 2:6-7 "Similarly, encourage the young men to self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good......"

I could go on and on. In Matthew I was taught to be light. In Hebrews I was taught to get along with my brother in love. In Timothy 6, we spent our time talking about money being the root of all evil and how hard it is for "those who are rich" (not us!). In Titus I was taught that the young men should practice self control.

The Church is not impacting the world, our cities, and our neighborhoods because people like me have been reading the easy parts of the verses. The world that we are to light up does not worry about whether the music coming out of Kid's praise during our worship is too loud. They don't even care about our worship! People in need aren't waiting for us to decide what time worship will start. People in need are not waiting for a "stand" on instrumental music, women's involvement, divorce, or prayer in schools. People in need are waiting for you and I to DO GOOD.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What keeps me from being vain.

Over 20 years ago Gary Sparks (a former business partner) and I was at a conference in Kansas City. During a break every one was in the lounge area of the hall and I was standing there looking awkward (which was normal). I noticed that a very attractive woman across the room was staring at me! She then starts walking across the room and right to to me. She smiles and says "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Ed Asner?"

Well no. I had never thought of that. It was a weird moment.

Since that day many years ago when I still had hair, I am asked that question about twice a month! A total stranger will speak to me whether in Tulsa, Fort Worth, Orlando, or Nashville.
The ultimate came when at a recent dinner with some of my classmates from Haskell High School Class of 65, one of my classmates asked that question!

The crazy thing is that people enjoy asking and are disappointed when they find out that they were not the first to this revelation! Imagine my joy!

I have even downloaded an old Mary Tyler Moore show on my IPOD to check Ed out. I just don'y see it. Maybe our eyes are similar, but I didn't think I was THAT grouchy looking!

But Ed Asner is no Paul Newman and shows no rooms for vanity.

I wonder if anyone asks Ed about me? Now that's vanity!

Quotes of George W

"I'm going to spend a lot of time on Social Security. I enjoy it. I enjoy taking on the issue. I guess, it's the mother in me." Washington D.C. April 14, 2005

(From my desk calendar)

Mike's Current Movies

Vantage Point: "Memento" type of Movie, Must stay with it until the breaking point.
Then it will make sense. **

Miss Pettigrew: Very enjoyable farce. Paced like a play. Great fun if you are over 40. ***

Leatherheads: George Clooney stars & directs. Preview looks like "O Brother" but is not.
Fun just the same. **

Bank Job: Good because it is based on a true story. Language & Nudity **

21: Good becuase it is based on a true story, too.
I am amazed that either of these stories really happened! **1/2

Nim's Island: OKay Family Fantasy Flick **

The Bucket List: Must see if you are over 40. One of my favorites. ***

Horton Hears a Who: Fun movie. **1/2

Smart People: Liked it alot, but I like witty batter and dark comedies. ***

10,000 B. C. Popcorn movie *1/2

Point of Reference on how I rate: Juno (*****) No Country For Old Men (*****)
Superhero Movie (won't see/won't rent)
Semi-Pro (Get real!)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An architect goes to church

I have been going to church buildings all my life. Growing up in the Church of Christ, I was taught at an early age that the "church" was the Christians not the building. We ourselves are the Lord's temple. I understand this on all levels of thought. As I have grown and watched various religions, faiths, and groups (including my own), I have seen a direct correlation between those that have buildings of substance and the substance of the beliefs of the group the building represents.

Because of my creative nature, I have searched the Bible to understand the creative nature of the LORD God and in the process found a few things never taught to me about God the Creator.

1. The Bible begins with the Creation and after God creates man, HE creates a special space for them to live (Eden) and gives them one of a kind things (Special trees, etc.)

2. The Bible concludes with the promise of Heaven. A special space that HE designed for you and I with one of a kind things. It even gives the dimensions, materials and says that the special tree from Eden will be there as well. Even Jesus stated that he left to prepare a mansion for us with many rooms. David said, "And I will dwell in the HOUSE OF THE LORD forever.

3. In between the beginning and the end there are 34 Complete Chapters of very specific instructions on how to build altars, tabernacles, and temples to honor the LORD. These instructions include dimensions, materials, types of wood, and colors of fabric. There is more specific information on how to build one of these than there is on baptism and the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion). There is more information on them than the format for worship.

4. The sense of Dwelling place is a central Bible theme whether in a place or in our hearts.

5. If the LORD's nature is unchanging, He wants to be honored and remembered in many ways including special places.

In the small book of Haggai at the end of the Old Testament, God speaks and says, "These people say, the time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built. Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much but harvested little. You eat , but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

As I mentioned in the beginning the experiences of traveling these roads has shown that those who honor the LORD God do it in every way. They tend to build church buildings that tell their community that God is important to their lives and at the same time carry on the mission of their calling in the same way.

Many church clients contact me and tell me they just want a basic building for their classes and worship, nothing extravagant ("We don't want to waste the LORD's money!"). Some churches contact me only after the Fire Marshall or other agency has told them that they must follow the building codes and life safety. They tell me that exit lights and emergency lights and handicapped toilets are a waste of the LORD's money. Each time I meet with such groups, I get their church bulletins or hand outs and see that their local or global mission is small and their involvement with their city is small. But when the meeting is over they go out to their giant SUVs, Lincolns and F250s and head home to their paneled walls.

You don't need to try to correct my thinking. I know that Church building projects have been the death of many a group. I have witnessed it first hand. I also know the validity of "house churches" and church groups that meet in rented places. I do not see an absolute but an observation.

In early times the Church building, cathedral, tent, temple or altar was at the center of the community. It defined the town and the inhabitants. They people may have lived in shacks, but the Church building was the focus. It's like driving I70 across Kansas, each town is defined by a large church steeple and a grain elevator. Our communities today are defined by the size of our shopping centers or whether we have a Walmart Supercenter.

I have noticed that the way Christians consider the House of God reflects the way they consider their neighbors.

Mike at the Movies

I have always been a fan of the movies. Two hours in the dark with popcorn and a goodstory that takes me away from the cares of the world and is what I need weekly. Actually, in the last four years Carol and I have averaged 90 movies a year.(I keep the stubs until year's end). We started this when we lived in Married Student Housing at OSU. We had no air conditioning and little money. After we finished work on a hot summer day, we would sometimes go to the early evening movie. For 90 cents each and a large popcorn and coke, we could set in air conditioning and watch (in color) a movie, while our apartment slowing cooled down. This became a habit that continues. Over the years we have gone less (when the kids were small) and more(when the kids were gone). We hit a peak a few years back of 103 movies! To do that you have to see good, bad and ugly movies. There are 16 screens in Muskogee or a short trip to Tulsa and there were times that we had seen them all! We are slowly getting smarter.

As we get older, the Movie directors are getting younger, and we are becoming more discerning. Watching the trailers of coming attractions, we look at each other and say "good", "rental", & "for get it". We also walk out on more movies now (after the popcorn is gone) and go to less movies.

I like more substance and less car chases (unless it is Jason Bourne). I like good humor like "Juno" & the current "Smart People", but a movie like " Forty Year Old Virgin" should be posted No one under 55 allowed. The idea that 20 year olds acting 13 and saying the F word three times a sentence is not humor to me. I didn't like those people when I was 20!

There are good movies though and many are the independent films made by people who have stories to tell and not a formula to make box office the first week so the DVD will sell good.
Napelon Dynamite, Juno, Waitress are examples of this. In the main stream almost anything by the Coen Brothers from Raising Arizona to No Country for Old Men makes the two hours worth while.

I am considering a media room in my home, but nothing can replace setting in a dark theater with popcorn and Hot tamales!

PS: Monday nights are when the Theaters are empty and the cell phones are off.