Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Here!

The Whole Bird

Sunday Morning, Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) was a guest on "Meet the Press". The moderator kept pushing him to take a strong stand about gays, abortion, politics and other hot buttons. Rick finally said, "People always ask if I am left wing or right wing and I just say that I'm for the whole bird." That was a convicting thought. I sometimes rant about the extreme right, but if I really think about it, I'm also for the whole bird. Obama is President of all of us whether we want to admit it or not. It is easy for me. But if, yikes, Sarah Palin becomes the leader of us all, I would have to still be for the whole bird. We have to support the Republic. Anything less is anarchy. We made it through Carter and Bush 2 so I think the LORD will look out for us now, too.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Religion and the Brotherhood, An Ode to Billy Joe


Last week Billy Joe Daugherty died. He was a well known Minister for one of largest churches in Tulsa, the Victory Christian Center. My encounter with him was over 20 years ago and is a part of this story.

20 years ago Carol and I were members of the largest church of Christ in Oklahoma. I was a deacon there and had organized a men's leadership class that met once a month on a Tuesday night. I patterned the class after Leadership Tulsa (of which I was an Alumni) and about 40 men attended. Each month we would have a one hour presentation followed by one hour of discussion. One month was on education and the speaker would be the Superintendent of Tulsa Schools. Another month was on the needy/homeless and one of the police officer member of our church would give us a talk followed by a bus trip to the housing projects and the places where the homeless slept.

I had one month where I invited Billy Joe of an Assembly of God background to speak and to be followed by a church of Christ Minister of a large local church named Terry. I gave both men the topic, "Religion and the Brotherhood" and told them that they could take it anywhere they were led. each was paid a $100.00 dollar honorarium. I thought that the result would be clear. After all Terry was one of "our" brotherhood and Billy Joe was of another denomination and of differing beliefs. To the surprise of everyone their talks were extremely similar in that they were both reading the same current books and thought about this subject in a way that was both enlightening and connecting. They both centered their comments on the need to reach out to those without Jesus and not spend our time in competition for those who already believe. It was an electric moment, a mountaintop experience.

The Tulsa World newspaper chose to cover the event and the following Sunday produced an almost Full page story lead on one of the sections of the paper. They interviewed me, Billy Joe and Terry. Cool right?
Here is the rest of the story. The following Tuesday, I get a call from Terry. He was catching all kinds of flack from the "Brotherhood" because of the implication that "somehow we were brothers with the likes of Billy Joe". Other churches had cancelled some of terry's speaking engagements and he was not happy. He said to me, "Mike, why did you have to put it in the paper?"

Later that month I received phone calls (at my work) from "Brotherhood" ministers from Alabama, Texas, and Arkansas challenging our right to have such a class. Of course, by this time, the class time in their story was Sunday Morning worship. Marvin Phillips (our church's minister) and I where "written up" in some conservative paper called "Contending For The Faith" and the story got bigger and condemned us in so many words.

How did it affect Billy Joe. He sent a nice letter praising the class and thanking us for the opportunity to share as brothers in Christ. He then called an invited Marvin and I to attend a leaders meeting at hid church and for Marvin to give a talk. They met on a Monday night and instead of 40, there were 400. Billy Joe talked and led worship for about 45 minutes and then introduced Marvin and telling the group about our church and the wonderful things we were doing. Marvin was well received and after his speech was over, Billy Joe asked that a love offering be taken for our church. He gave us about $800.00.

I met Billy Joe one time after that and he remembered and talked the experience with us.

I ask you in light of the subject, "Religion and the Brotherhood". Who was my brother in this story?

I have always been fond of Billy Joe Daugherty and his spirit and his intent. He will be missed.

We, Christians, struggle way too much trying to decide who is "worth" our fellowship. I don't have time for that. God gets to make that decision.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blindside 2

Well, we Oklahoma State Football fans got "Blindsided" today. For relief we went to the movies and saw "Blindside" for the second time. It was just as good as the first time, and we got to cheer for a winner. Still a great story and it plays well the second time around.

2009 movie #76

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mikes weighs in on the healthcare debate 1

I know a lot of my friends are against the government getting into health acre, but I have two stories to share, one old and one new that have shown me how the insurance companies and the health system feels about me.

Story 1: Thirty years ago this week our daughter was struck by a School Bus. I rode the ambulance to the hospital and witnessed the frantic pace of the Emergency Room. While the Medical Team worked I was told to go to the admitting desk near the Waiting Room and sign a couple of papers. Being still in the shock of the events, I did as told. Returning to the Trauma Center I found that Heather had died.

We had Blue Cross, which covered Emergency Services 100%. However, a week later, they informed me that the paper I signed had admitted her into the Hospital, so they were off the hook. We had to pay it all even though she never left the trauma room.

I haven't used Blue Cross since.

Story 2: Weeks ago Carol went in for a routine screening. After the mammogram they were going to compare it with her past tests. Even though they had performed all past tests, they asked Carol for the records. It was about that time that we realized that they had lost her past screenings. They asked that she come in for another test. She did. Our insurance denied the claim as not a covered expense.

Please Glen Beck don't tell me how this is the best way!

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Old Dogs



I went to see "Old Dogs" tonight at the movies. It is not exactly a big Thanksgiving Weekend blockbuster, but it was a fun and safe Walt Disney story. In typical Disney fashion there are big stars that are under-used, lots of sight gags, and a nice thoughtful ending. It is another of those movies where if you liked the previews, you will probably like the show. If you were not amused with the previews go to something else. They advertise it as by the same director who did "Road Hogs". It isn't that good. There are some funny scenes not shown in the previews that made it worthwhile.

I give it **1/4 stars.

2009 movie #75

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That kind of year! as they say!




It is getting weird, fellow travelers!

First there was the running back for the University of Oklahoma who scored a touchdown and was flagged for taunting. Why is that weird? OU was behind 4 touchdowns!

As they say, "Sports do not build character. they reveal it."

Then I heard about the guy named Jason, who earns a living wearing t-shirts! He wears a different one everyday (on-line) and organizations pay him. He made almost $80,000 last year and is about to double that this year. He is currently sold out of days this year and is booking 2110! Check him out on line at iwearyourshirt.com.

As they say, "What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy."

By now you have heard of the guy who supposedly was in a coma for 23 years! But he had full brain function and listened to conversations all that time. His situation was discovered by a person doing a brain scan for a study. He now can communicate with the world! It makes my thanksgiving list grow by leaps.

There is no longer the need for terms like: Normal life or Average life. There is just life.

As Sydney Harris said, "When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard." I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What the Dog Saw: Dog & Child Whisperer!


I always love it when my worlds collide.

As you know I am reading, Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "What the Dog Saw" and last week I finished the section for which the book is named. It centers around the work of Cesar Millan "the Dog Whisperer". Cesar has a show by the same name on cable's National Geographic Channel.

Let me say up front: I am NOT a how to guy. People used to ask me if a watched shows like "This Old House". The answer is NO! I know how, I just don't want to! I can watch Food Channel or not, but by-in-large I avoid such shows.

Which brings me back to the point. Malcolm tells the story of the man who can instantly communicate with dogs and guide them through needed changes in habits, personality, etc. He says that he "rehabilitates dogs and trains owners". He says that the dog's owner must establish themselves as the Alpha Dog of the Pack. the pack in this case is the family plus the dogs. His philosophy is "exercise, discipline, and affection equals happiness".

Cesar, who exudes self-discipline, came to the USA from Mexico as an illegal and began doing the one thing he knew, dog training.

After I read the chapter, I immediately grabbed the remote and found his show on my Direct TV and set the DVR. I am now hooked. I found out today that I am not alone. I picked up the Sunday New York Times and found an article titled, "Becoming the Alpha Dog in Your Own Home." To my surprise the article is about and I quote: "It's little wonder then that some parents and even a few Child Therapists, have found themselves taking mental notes from a television personality known for inspiring discipline, order and devotion: Cesar Millan, otherwise known as the Dog Whisperer." Alex William's article tells of professionals, bloggers and families across the country that say his ideas make sense with kids. One person wrote: "Unlike modern parents, dog trainers don't think discipline equals being mean." The story talks about the problems with pet owners and parents are the same- They are not in charge of their homes and dogs and kids. After all, Cesar shows that dogs take their cues from the master and he explains that demeanor, eye contact and posture say as much as words. Words are empty when actions and movements yell a different story. People are seeing that the Alpha in some families is a 2 year old girl.

Whether you have Dogs or Kids or both, I think they are on to something! Try "the Dog Whisperer". Seeing is believing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today

Today, marks 30 years since we last saw our daughter, Heather. They say "that time heals all wounds". While I find truth in that saying, it is also true that "absence makes the heart grow fonder". Thirty years ago today, we attended Heather's funeral. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1979. It rained the day before, just like yesterday. Heather would be 36, but in Heaven it makes no difference. 6 or 36, every moment is HEAVEN there!

That is a thought that makes me happy.

Heather Carol Martin

Blindside, the Movie




We made it to the movie today to see "Blindside". We went to a matinee but still had to weave through a maze of Twilight goers. It was still crazy. It is like everyone in our town wanted to go to the movies. "Blindside" was capacity as well. It looked like it was filled with Oklahoma fans searching for a GOOD football story! They finally found one.

Having read the book and knowing the story, I still sat there for the first hour with a lump in my throat. Yes, the movie respects the book and the story of Michael Oher. To prove the accuracy, stay and watch the credits and see the photos of the real people. They picked the actors well. One of my favorite lines in the movie was when the family has just hired a tutor for Michael and learned of the Tutor's leanings. The dad played by Tim McGraw (you won't recognize him) and he says, "Who would have thought that I would have a black son before I ever met a Democrat!"

My blog last year told about the story, but to recap, it's about a wealthy Memphis white family who takes in a homeless black kid from the projects who happens to be 6'4" and 300 lbs. It is about his transformation. Michael Oher is now a starting tackle for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. Whether you like sports or not, you will relish this true story of human kindness and the fact that "all you need is love".

You would have to be a KKK member not to like this one.

I give it **** stars. Sandra Bullock is great, McGraw is great, the actor that plays Oher is great, etc.

2009 movie #74

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blindsided at the Movies


One of my favorite books of the recent times, Blindside, has been made into a movie. That always fills me with both anticipation and apprehension. I was anxious to see which emotion would win.

The emotion that I forgot was frustration!

We could not get into the Movie theater lot. Cars were backed up out into the streets and the lot was full any how. Seems the starting time for the new Twilight movie was the same as Blindside? With no football teams in our town making the playoffs this year, they all went to the 7 pm movies. So we will try again tomorrow afternoon while everyone is watching college football.

By the By: I will not be seeing Twilight. Too old and too male.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Phone Maddness

I get to work this morning to find an e-mail saying that when the staff tries a long distance call they get a recording that says, "Your long distance service has been disconnected. Please call customer service. 48111".

Yikes, Have we not paid our bill? Carol, who pays the bills, was not available, so I called AT&T customer service. They check our balance and say it is 0.00. Well, that's good, What now? They tell me to call Tech support. I call them and they check things and say that they don't know what the problem is! The have me to try a call and listen in. When they hear the recording, they say, "That's not our recording! That must be another provider." I tell them that we have no other carrier. They give me a 700 number that I can call on all three lines. Well I do that and find that everything is AT&T except line 2. I call them back and they say they don't have a clue. They tell me to call their number to investigate "slamming" where another company takes over service. I call them and they say they can't help. "Why don't you call the fraud department. Fraud says, "Why are you calling us? Call Customer Service!"

I set there having now wasted 2 hours. I get a call from AT&T and they tell me that they figured out that it is Sprint who has taken our line 2, but I will have to get Sprint to release it before they can restore service. I call Sprint after 2 different calls (actually more than that because the computer wanted a phone number before I could talk to humans, and they did not recognize the number!). Any who, I talk to a human who says Sprint has no record of my line.

I gave up.

That afternoon I turn the problem over to Carol. She works it again and late in the day e-mails me that AT&T decided that they could fix the problem.

At least the e-mail works! They death of land lines is not far away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holy CRAP!

Just when I think things could not get more crazy, I listened to a news story today about the new "Christian" t-shirts that are being bought by right wing conservatives. Groups are selling t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. with the following verse: "Pray for Obama, Psalms 109:8". The verse is, "May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership." What a witty statement to be found in the Bible! Yea, right. It is amazing how scripture becomes a rally cry for concerned people. Sort of like how Muslim extremists take things from the Koran out of context. Unfair comparison? How about this? Psalms 109:9 (the next verse), "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow." It would seem that we are not talking about voting Obama out of office, but something unthinkable. Christian Science Monitor found the originator of this. She was a conservative lady who was using the Internet to find Bible verses for such wit. When she was asked about verse 9, she said she never read the verse 8 in context and did not mean anything bad. Tell that to all the people buying this stuff!

Just when I think I've seen it all!

PS: I tried to download a sample from "Zazzle" but they blocked it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Plop, Plop, Fiz, Fiz



Still reading my new book and came across this story. The company that handled advertising for Alka-Seltzer was given an assignment to do something to increase sales back in the 60's. They were watching the current commercial where a hand is seen dropping a tablet of Alka-Seltzer into a glass. As they set there watching, one of the consultants asked, "Why not TWO tablets?"
So they changed the commercial to show the hand dropping two tablets and sales DOUBLED!

Plop, Plop, Fiz, Fiz, oh what a relief it is!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Amelia




I'm getting caught up on my movies. We went to T-Town this afternoon and saw "Amelia" the story of Amelia Earhart starring Hillary Swank, Richard Gere, and Ewan McGregor as her, her husband and her boyfriend! Yes, friends she was liberated before liberation was cool. This is a good movie about the 1930's and the beginning of aviation in the world. This Kansas girl was the first woman to cross the Atlantic and was one of the stars of the era. She is a complex and independent soul. You don't realize how dead on the stars are to the actual people until the movie ends and they start showing news reel footage.

While this is a PG movie, it is PG40 because their are no explosions, sex or cussing. Its an adult movie.

I give it ***stars. Hillary will probably get a nomination for this.

2009 movie #73

The photos show both Hillary and the real Amelia.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ketchup & Choices



I am reading Malcolm Gladwell's delightful new book, "What the Dog Saw". Malcolm is the Tipping Point guy.

I just finished the chapter about Mustard and Ketchup. He answers the question, "Why is there eight types of mustard but only one type of ketchup?" It is a fun read, but half way through this story he mentions a study of why four year olds eat more ketchup than 40 year olds. He says that after 2 or 3 years old, children are instinctively resistant to trying new foods. Since four year olds have no choice on the food given them, they go with something they trust to make the "new food" better - ketchup.

That made me think and remember. For much of my life I preferred ketchup on green beans. My wife always raised an eyebrow to that. But as a kid, my mother always served green beans the same way - bland cut canned green beans. So I used ketchup. In later years everyone started preparing green beans in a variety of ways and more types of beans and forgot the habit.

As a kid I put ketchup on fried potatoes. Now, I prefer bar-b-que sauce on my fries.
I have branched out over the years trying new foods, new sauces, and new beans.

In some ways the use of ketchup was one of my first life choices!




Lunch Stories

I went to Taco Bueno for lunch (wanting some fine dining). It was very, very busy and while I waited for my number to be called, I overheard a phone conversation from the booth next to me. The woman was talking to someone (a relative?) and said, "We have decided, that after we get our tax return, we are going to hire a lawyer and give custody of the kids back to you." Then then said that one of the kid's teachers said that the kid belonged in a reform school and steps may be taken to do just that. The other party talked a minute and then the lady said, "Well, we may have a little money to help you with a car, but that's all." She hung up and said to her husband, "We've already spent too much on those kids and given them a lot more than we should."

I think that was a rather important little talk to be having over Tacos!

Then a friend came in and I invited him to sit with me while he waited for his order and we talked about the economy. He told me that his wife works for an area company and is in international sales for their product. Last year they had a record year and the international sales staff was four persons. Now, she is the only one left, but the corporate office expects her to do as good as they did in 2008. Because it is international, she has offices at work and at home and basically works around the clock! He says that the computer beeps through out the night and certain sounds mean certain clients want to talk and she must respond at once.

My soup was suddenly not tasting as good as I anticipated.

These stories gave me good food for thought. When I get down and think things are tough, I know that about six feet away in the next booth, things are much worse.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reflections of a Race

Its really about Family, and racing and when your grandson tells you to look up from the race and see the beautiful sunset. Another highlight was when the gaint Chinook helicopter from Fort Hood landed on the track at the start of the race to bring the pace car! Then to have a B-52 flyover during the National Anthem. It was a special day.









Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Men Who Stare



Tonight, finally, was Movie Night. Not that I've just been setting at home. I have been to DFW area the last two weekends. I have been to the Frisco, Texas IKEA two straight weeks buying office furniture. I have toured the Dallas Aquarium. I went to a NASCAR truck race on Friday and a NASCAR Cup race on Sunday. I even watched OSU, OU, Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks in between. I watched the grandsons run in circles and go on our excursions. I have been a "Man who stares at stuff."

Tonight, though, I watched "Men Who Stares at Goats" with a who's who cast of George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, and Ewan McGregor. The movie, weirdly enough is based on a true story. Friday, on the way to Texas, I listened to an interview with the author who wrote the book on which the movie is based. Our country has done some weird experiments, and the movie shows many of the crazy things that the book described. The movie centers on the First Earth Battalion of the U.S. Army that studies things like making men walk through walls, mind over matter, and such as a way to create JEDI warriors. They actually did stare at goats!

The movie is funny in an absurd way, but I was disappointed with the ending. It was like they just said, "Well that's enough. Lets stop here."

I give it **1/2 stars. It is a **star movie, but the acting is really good. A rental.

If you think this could not happen, just remember the story last week about the guy at OU that got $6 million in Stimulus to study the grandparents of Alaskan people!

2009 movie #72

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Convenience stores and me


I'll have to admit that I've been spoiled, living in Oklahoma. In our young state, whenever you get a neighborhood of 20 or more houses, the first support building for them is a convenience store. This comes before churches, schools, post office or medical facilities. We insist on self-serve gas, coffee, snacks, smokes, lottery tickets and fountain drinks. In Tulsa the center of the world's convenience stores, we have them every mile and there is usually one on each corner. It is the same situation as Starbucks in urban areas. We have Quiktrip, Kum-n-Go, 7-11, and Loves as well as hundreds of independent stores.

I bring this up because we venture to places like Dallas/Ft. Worth, Vegas, Nashville, etc. and you can go FOUR MILES between stores! It is crazy! We are staying in Justin, Texas, two miles from I35, and I have to PLAN a route to get a 32 oz. Diet Coke!

Quiktrip has arrived in the DFW area, but they are still few and far between. When I get to stop at one on my visits, it is for me like going into the Oklahoma embassy. I feel safe.
Everything is where I expect it and everyone smiles and talks normal!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NASCAR Texas




I have just finished a busy week, an important week and a week that ended on a high note or two. The best part is this work week ended on Thursday night! Tomorrow, Fort Worth and Family and NASCAR. I know that some of you just don't get NASCAR, just like I don't get OU! Lets look at it this way: Instead of going to a sports event where two teams play each other, this event matches 43 teams against each other at the same time. Yes, it is a race where people go fast and turn left. But like football where there is 11 men on the field, to win a race there is a team of about 8 including guys who change tires, fuel men, crew chief (coach), driver, etc. As a matter of fact many of the teams employ ex-college football players in top condition so that they can change 4 tires, and add two large cans of fuel in 13 seconds. The race is speed but also timing, changing conditions, and luck (since they drive about 6 inches a part at 200 miles an hour). I like it a lot.

And did I mention the fans (200,000 fans) and some of the best people watching this side of the fair. Actually it has a fair, midway and all and a concert before the race (this year is ZZ Top!).

More later

By the way, the bottom photo is about where we will sit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blogging Blahs: Hello from Russia


Dear Diary:

Its been over a week since I have been to a movie. As a matter of fact I haven't been to a movie in the month of November! What's worse is I won't see a movie this week either! Yikes! Not that life is dull. We were in Fort Worth last weekend and are going back this weekend to the NASCAR races. You will think me stupid, but the way I am wired I do have movie with drawl.

What I have realized the past two weeks is that when I am with other couples, family, etc., I find that I just listen to all their stories and yet seldom talk about what I'm doing, thinking, etc. That is weird for someone who likes to blog. Isn't it?

Speaking of blogging, last night I got the following post about I blog on "Mike's theory of Profanity and Cursing": Hello from Russia! Can I quote a post "No teme" in your blog with the link to you?

First, I didn't know what "No teme" meant so I googled it. The first hit that had it was someone else's blog about cats and the exact same notice appeared on theirs but about some cat story. That scared me because I thought, "Virus!"

Second, I went on and found "no teme" statements always by a Russian and each time I hit translate the term meant "not fear"!

I even put something on FACEBOOK asking for help. No comments.

I finally responded to the email with: Please explain "No teme"!

No comment there either