Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where Have All The Marching Bands Gone?

On Friday night we went to a local high school football game involving my grandson's school vs. the school where I spent 39 years. I had two major surprises. First our football team is really very good - a vast improvement over most of the football teams when I was there. Second, sadly our band was very bad. I remember the years when our band numbered 60 - 70 musicians and they sounded great. This year's band has about 25 musicians plus about ten in the pit. They probably had about ten brass instruments and you could barely hear them when they played. It was sad, especially from a school that is Quad A and one of the largest in the area. What has happened? First, the new block schedule has prevented some students from being in the band because they must select it as a course - it is no longer optional or available during an activity period. But I think the main reason is that high school bands have changed their emphasis. Now they are all about competitions and winning awards. Instead of playing stirring marches, they have intricate shows which feature fancy routines, flashy costumes and flags, and special music written for these competitions. And to pull this off, it requires many hours in band camps, summer practices, practices in the evenings and long competitions plus football games almost every weekend. it takes a major time commitment and most kids today have other things to do but spend all their free time practicing and drilling. Band has to become their life. And this is becoming true at many schools. And their parents are almost like a cult. they travel together, they raise funds together, they tail gate together, and to them winning the competitions becomes their first priority in life. So gone are the days when a high school band is big, with a full sound, and the main purpose is to stir up the crowd and cheer on the football team. If you want that, you need to go to Penn State where the Blue Band sirs up the crowd and presents a simple, but exciting, halftime show. The members work hard, but for a much different purpose. Now while I was disappointed by the one band, my grandson's band sounded excellent and they had a good show, although none of the fans recognized their music or fully understood the purpose of their show. But they sounded great (especially the kettle drums). And they did win their first competition on Saturday night. But my age is showing - give me music like "Stars and Stripes Forever" or even "On Wisconsin". But then today's kids, band directors, and their parents probably don't even know these numbers.
Listen to it here! LISTEN

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Waiting ... waiting ... waiting

Do you like to wait? I don't! And yet a large part of our lives is spent waiting. Who hasn't had to stand in a long line waiting to check out in a store, especially a grocery store? Who hasn't waited in traffic, especially when you are in a hurry. I will often drive miles out of the way to avoid construction sites or other traffic problems because I hate to wait. And what parent hasn't stayed up at night waiting for their child to come home, especially when there is a storm or snow? At times we wait for the mail or a returned telephone call or for our car to be serviced. Some times we wait in excitement and anticipation - like waiting for a visit from someone special, a vacation, a birthday, or a holiday such as Christmas. Like many students and teachers, I often felt that I just couldn't wait for the weekend, or better yet, the summer. I remember as a college student waiting for a visit from my family or a chance to go home for a visit. Then there is the excitement of waiting for a new purchase to arrive - a car, some furniture, or maybe a new computer. Some times waiting can be much more serious. Students wait for test scores, grades, or college acceptance (or rejection). Many nights I've sat with a sick child or loved one just waiting for sunrise. In times like this, it seems like morning will never come. Sometimes we wait to see if we will be given a job, or in times like this, whether our job will be eliminated. It must be very hard to wait for a loved one to return who is in the service and many parents and family members must do this. It is so hard to wait when a loved one goes through surgery. Or, how about the waiting for results from the doctor? We've been waiting for the results of Dianne's annual biopsy and PTL they came back yesterday with no sign of cancer. We've also been experiencing waiting to see if my father's house would sell so we could begin to settle his estate. A month ago we put it on the market and in less than a week we had a signed agreement. But there were many hurdles to be crossed before settlement, and we waited, and waited. Yesterday we received a call telling us that all obstacles had been met and settlement was set for October 9. PTL! So waiting is a major part of our life - from minor inconveniences to anticipation to events filled with stress. In 1975 my father suddenly had his job eliminated at RCA. Dad never complained and went out and found some temporary jobs and finally a new career. At that time I bought him a plaque which now hangs in my bedroom. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31. Dad had learned and demonstrated the reality of that verse - a lesson I wish his son had learned a little better. Waiting can bring us stress and weariness (I admit it often does for me) or it can give us the opportunity to experience the strength and peace which only the Lord can provide. The choice is really ours.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Emotional Roller Coaster Day

I looked forward to yesterday for many weeks. Yesterday was my 50th high school reunion. During the past months we have spent much time in Lititz clearing my dad's house and preparing it for sale. And as we've done this so many good memories have flooded my mind. While most of these memories have involved my family and my experiences in Lititz, many of them have been about my experiences in the Warwick schools and my friends and classmates. So I was really eager to renew friendships and share memories. In the morning, on the way to participate in tours of the school buildings, I had to stop at the homestead to do a few repairs. While walking through the home, probably for one of the last times, my emotions took over. It will be hard, after almost 60 years, to vacate this property - but it must be done. Life moves on. Then I met many of my classmates and we first toured the new elementary school that recently replaced the building where I had attended grades 4 - 9. It is a beautiful modern building. Then it was off to the high school. Our class moved into the high school when it was new, as sophomores, in 1956. It has gone through several major additions and renovations since then and it was even hard to recognize what we had known 50 years ago. Both of these tours were extra special to me since my son Ken had done all the heating and air conditioning engineering for both of them. I was so proud to share that with my classmates. However, near the end of the high school tour, I left the group and wandered by myself to the athletic area where my brother Terry had worked as athletic director for so many years. I looked at the trophy cases and saw pictures of him as a star athlete there in the early sixties. Then I went to his old office and my emotions hit a low. It just didn't seem right that he was no longer there. Even as I write this blog, the tears flow. I miss him so much. I don't understand God's ways, but I rest in the fact that His ways are always right. Terry had a profound impact on the athletic facilities and programs at Warwick. That evening we went to the reunion dinner and had a very special time with classmates, many of whom I haven't seen in 50 years. I had been class president for our last two years in high school so I had worked closely with many of these folks. And we had a great class. We renewed friendships with those who came from as far always as North Carolina, Texas, and California, as well as those from New York and various parts of Pennsylvania. We shared stories of difficult challenges that we have faced at this point in life as well as the many blessings and successes that we have experienced. Unlike some previous reunions, this one was well attended and there was time to share instead of the usual dancing and drinking. It was a great time and it was hard to leave when it was over. And it was emotionally uplifting to hear that many thought that I haven't changed, especially since everyone else had - they all looked so old! I guess an indication that we are really aging is the fact that they are thinking of holding the 55th reunion during the day because a growing number of our class no longer like to travel at night. Oh yes, the joys of getting older. It was a great day even with the highs and lows of my emotions. And I am already looking forward to the 55th. And I thank the Lord for the good friends, the good memories, and the health to be able to participate in the 50th. God has been good to me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time Marches On

Yesterday was Grandparents Day. Some grandparents did special things like have a picture of them and their grandchildren placed in the newspaper. The Lancaster Sunday News had a special edition with many pages of such pictures. We didn't do that. I am not normally one to carry around pictures and show them to everyone and brag about how gifted and wonderful they are. But that doesn't mean that I'm not very proud of them and I do tell them that and try to encourage them. This week, for the very first time, all seven of them will now be in school, in grades 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, K, and preschool. Time marches on and they are growing up so fast. Two weeks ago we went to see Zachary who has joined the Hempfield band and is playing in their pit as a tympani player. He actually can play more than seven different instruments. We prayed for Josh as he tried out for the Warwick golf team and our prayers were answered and he is now on the team. He also regularly plays piano offertories in our church. We went to see Taylor play soccer yesterday for the Penn Manor travel team. Noah is an excellent french horn and piano player while Chloe plays the violin and piano. Lexie and Brodie are just starting school and they are creative and full of energy. All of our grandchildren are avid readers - most of them reading way beyond their grade levels - and they are excellent students. So we do have so much to be thankful for. God has been good to us. But, despite all of this, we pray for them daily. I pray that they might develop a passion for the Lord and serving Him. I pray that they might understand that living a life for Christ is the most important thing. I even pray that the Lord will prepare Godly spouses for them. I also write notes to encourage them to use their gifts for the Lord. For you see, the most important things I can do as their grandfather is to set an example with a life that shows God's faithfulness and cover them with prayer each day of their lives. Grandparents can have a special influence in the lives of their children. Mine had a major impact on my life and my parents and in-laws had an eternal impact on the lives of my boys. Fortunate indeed are children who have godly grandparents who know how to pray and encourage. Steve Chapman fasts for his children each Wednesday and he has written a song about his prayer called "Wednesday's Prayer". I have the words hanging above my desk and I pray them almost daily. You can find the words on my website at "Wednesday's Prayer". And, after taking them before God's throne in prayer, I must leave them in the Lord's hands and allow His Spirit to do the work that I can't do. I guess that I could go around showing their pictures to everyone, but the picture I most desire to see and show is the picture of all seven of them, with all of their parents, standing with Dianne and me, on the golden streets of Heaven. That will be glory for me!

Friday, September 11, 2009


No it really isn't "Rain, rain, go away, Barry wants to play today!" But that would be a great idea. We recently decided to have all of our sidewalks and concrete steps replaced. We had part of this done several years ago and the job was terrible - but that is another story. In addition to what was done several years ago, the original steps at our side doors have sunk and rain water runs against our house and often into our basement. It all needs to be replaced. Even though we signed a contract, we were expecting that the cement work would be done later in the Fall. So we were shocked when we came home on Tuesday morning to find the workmen tearing out the old cement. They took it all out that day so all we can use now is our back door. Then, on Wednesday, they poured the footers for our front landing and steps. So far so good. But then it began to rain. When we came home from Awana at about 10 pm, we found all the trenches around the house filled with water. The big pit out front was also filling up and, thanks to the new footers, the water was building up against our foundation. So I spent the next hour, in pouring rain and mud, trying to cover things up. Using some old pieces of plywood, some other boards, and two tarps I was finally able to get the front and side pits "covered". Then I spent another 30 minutes digging trenches to help the water drain off the covering and away from the pits. Fun, fun, fun! Not! Then, Thursday morning the rain stopped and the sun came out. PTL. Midday the masons came, took off my protective cover and added the block - but not filling in around the new foundation. They "threw" my tarps and wood over the hole once again, but did not nothing to assure that water would drain away. Then, guess what? The real rain came and for the past 16 hours it has been pouring. Right now our rain gauge says almost 4 inches has fallen. So back out in the rain and mud - that has been my evening and morning and the end isn't yet in sight. Maybe I should build an ark! Our sump pump has been running in the basement and PTL, we don't yet have water yet in the front of the basement where it won't drain to the sump pump. So we keep "shoveling" water that won't drain off the tarps before it heads to our basement, praying that the rain will soon stop. So maybe it should be "rain, rain go away, Barry wants to rest today!'" But then there is also the problem that we hold tickets to tomorrow's Penn State - Syracuse game. Will the rain stop? Dare we leave home? Will the grass parking lots be open? Will it rain throughout the game? I guess we could always stay home and watch it on TV. So stay tuned. Keep dry!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Are The "Zips"?

That is today's trrivia question for you. Please note, it is "zips", not "zits"! And you won't find the answer in the dictionary and will have trouble finding it on the Internet.. Let me give you some background before I give you the answer, even though I know that you can hardly wait for the answer. Yesterday Dianne and I headed to Happy Valley, also known as State College, to see the opening Penn State football game. We used to get to most of the home games, but as it has gotten more expensive and good seats are harder to get, we've only gone to a few the last couple of years. But since we have not been able to take a non-working vacation for several years, we will try to get there a few times this Fall as part of a series of "one-day vacations". Yesterday we left at 4:45 in the morning to get a good parking place. We were part of a crowd of about 104,000 who attended. Even if you aren't a football fan, a Penn State game is something special. First there is the tailgating which is impossible to describe. Thousands of dollars are spent for vans, buses and huge motor homes and the spreads of food and decorations are incredible. Then there is the spectacular pregame show headed by the drum majorette who does his flip and split, in the center of the field, to the cheers of thousands. The Blue Band then does its rousing performance which builds up to the entrance of the team, and the crowd goes wild. If that isn't enough, the crowd breaks into its chant, "We Are, Penn State!". Then, of course, there is a football game with one of the best teams in the country led by Joe Paterno. And during the game there are all sorts of things going on all around the stadium - the wave, the Nittany Lion's antics, the student cheers, the cheerleaders with their amazing flips and pyramids, groups of musicians playing, and so much more. Even a person who isn't a football fan can find things to watch. The atmosphere, especially for big games, is electric. Yesterday was not a big game and Penn State won handily, 31-7. But the weather was great and the atmosphere exciting. Now what does that have to do with the original question. Well yesterday the Penn State Nittany Lions played the Akron, yes you guessed it, Zips. Now they did play like "Zits" but they were the "Zips". So here is your answer. The University of Akron's athletic teams are known as the "Zips," originally short for "Zippers," overshoes that were nationally popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and the zipper—an invention from Akron (Judson). The university's mascot is "Zippy," a kangaroo. Zippy is one of only eight female college mascots in the United States. Zippy won the title of Capital One National Mascot of the Year in 2007. So there you have it and that is today's story. Next week it's back again to see Penn State and Syracuse play.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Bills Go On

Being an executor of an estate can be very frustrating, if you allow it to be. It's much easier if you have a good sense of humor. It has been interesting to see how all of my dad's junk mail has managed to be changed to my address. Every day my mailbox is filled with pleas for his money. If they include a stamped envelope for a reply, they get a reply from me that says "He is deceased, please take his name off your mailing address or change his address - to Heaven". It doesn't seem to work - the Republican Party is the worst at not purging their lists. Until we cut off his telephone, we continually found recorded messages from groups begging for money or offering him "free" services. I've continued to get medical bills for things already paid - I imagine some people just pay them again to try and stop the bills. However, the most interesting bill came last week - a bill rejected by his insurance for a charge of $75 ,for an EKG in a doctor's office in Lititz, on November of 2008 - for Aletha Kauffman! Now my mother has been dead for about 16 years but somebody is billing her for an EKG last year. Interesting. I couldn't just ignore this but nobody will admit it is their mistake. I also had trouble stopping dad's Juno bill and had to talk to several levels of management before getting that stopped - good record keeping and notes do help. Quite often there is a new development to brighten the day. But I guess I'm not alone. Here is a copy of an actual telephone conversation that I understand somebody had over a similar situation. A lady died this past January, and the bank billed her for February & March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then added late fees & interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, now it's somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to the bank: Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you that she died in January." Bank: "The account was never closed and the late fees & charges still apply." Family Member: "Maybe you should turn it over to collections." Bank: "Since it is two months past due, it already has been." Family Member: "So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?" Bank: "Either report her account to the frauds division or report her to the credit bureau; maybe both!" Family Member: "Do you think God will be mad at her?" Bank: "Excuse me?" Family Member: "Did you just get what I was telling you . . . the part about her being dead?" Bank: "Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor" Supervisor gets on the phone. Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you she died in January." Bank: "The account was never closed and the late fees & charges still apply." Family Member: "You mean you want to collect from her estate?" Bank: (stammer) "Are you her lawyer?" Family Member: "No, I'm her great nephew." (lawyer info given) Bank: "Could you fax us a certificate of death?" Family Member: "Sure." (the fax number is given) After they get the fax ... Bank: "Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help." Family Member: "Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don't think she will care." Bank: "Well, the late fees & charges do still apply." Family Member: "Would you like her new billing address?" Bank: "That might help." Family Member: "Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69." Bank: "Sir, that's a cemetery!" Family Member: "What do you do with dead people on your planet?" So there you are. Some of the "joys" of being an executor!