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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Ride Of Contrasts

It was an interesting ride. We needed a runner for our Awana van and we couldn't find anyone to help us out. So I had to fill in. Now that's a job for a younger man, not one who is approaching 71! Climbing in and out of the van at each stop, disciplining some of the riders, and putting up with all the noise was tolerable a few years ago, but at this age ..... Anyway, it is an interesting ride. Our first stop was an inner-city location. It was an extra warm night for March and people were seated outside on their steps. Kids were running and playing. Music was loud. It seemed like a mini United Nations. It was considerably different than neighborhoods than I had ever lived in. It probably is an experience that all of our leaders should have since it gives you a perspective of where some of our clubbers come from. When we left that area we drove through more suburban neighborhoods that more of us could relate to. Then we traveled through an area filled with mansions, including Wheatland, the former home of President James Buchanan. What a contrast. I would love to go through some of these mansions. These folks must have staff to take care of their properties. Next we drove through more commercial type neighborhoods - large stores, shopping plazas, fast food restaurants, and similar establishments, many of which were no longer occupied. Finally, as we approached our church we passed scenic rural areas and even fields of cattle. These farms and pastures are what many folks picture when they think of Lancaster County. It was amazing to me that during a 30 minute drive we could see such contrasts. But I also realized that all of these areas - with the exception of the pastures - are really mission fields filled with people who need to know the Lord. And the Lord has given us this fertile area to reach folks of all cultures, all races, and all social levels. And that might have been a reminder that I needed and it actually made the ride for this 70 year-old a little easier. Thank the Lord for our van drivers who run this route every week and for dedicated leaders who share love and the Gospel with these van riders each Wednesday. However, hopefully I've learned what I needed to be reminded of and in the future, maybe some younger men can take this trip and be reminded as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Four All Who Reed And Right

It is amazing how often we who have grown up in the United States murder the English language. Imagine what it would be like if we had to learn English and it wasn't our native tongue. For those of you who think algebra is hard, think about the following "poem" which was recently sent to me.

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;

but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that,
And three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

So don't ever let him and shim ever tell you that English is easy.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grade Yourself

Did you take the achievement test? If not, please go back to my last blog and answer the eleven questions listed there. When you have done that, please grade your test paper. Here is what you need.

(1) Johnny's mother had three children. The first child was named April The second child was named May. What was the third child's name? Answer: Johnny of course
(2) There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches tall, and he wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh? Answer: Meat.
(3) Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world? Answer: Mt. Everest; it just wasn't discovered yet.
(4) How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet? Answer: There is no dirt in a hole.
(5) What word in the English language is always spelled incorrectly? Answer: Incorrectly
(6) Billy was born on December 28th, yet her birthday is always in the summer. How is this possible? Answer: Billy lives in the Southern Hemisphere
(7) In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not? Answer: You can't take pictures with a wooden leg. You need a camera to take pictures.
(8) What was the President's name in 1975? Answer: Same as is it now - Barack Obama
(9) If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now? Answer: You would be in 2nd. Well, you passed the person in second place, not first.
(10) Which is correct to say, "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk of the egg is white"? Answer: Neither, the yolk of the egg is yellow.
(11) If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field? Answer: One. If he combines all of his haystacks, they all become one big stack.

OK, how did you do? Remember, 10-11 Proficient, 8-9 Satisfactory, 6-7 Basic, 0-5 Remedial. If you need some tutoring, I could offer you a good rate. On second thought, I'm retired now and maybe you need more help than I could provide. Just live with it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Achievement Testing

Many public school students are presently involved in the annual Pennsylvania state assessment tests. It is a time of stress for many of them. It is very time consuming and costly but our state officials thinks it is necessary and beneficial. That is a discussion for another time. But I thought that it would be good for you to take a similar test, so I am presenting you with eleven questions on a variety of topics. I will provide the answers for you in about two days. In the meantime, take the test and keep track of your answers. A score of ten or eleven means you are proficient. Eight or nine indicates satisfactory. Six or seven rates you as basic. Anything less than six is remedial. So give it a try and you can grade it yourself. Here we go!

(1) FAMILY LIVING Johnny's mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child's name?
(2) MATH There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches tall and he wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?
(3) GEOGRAPHY Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
(4) SCIENCE How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?
(5) ENGLISH What word in the English language is always spelled incorrectly?
(6) FAMILY LIVING Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer. How is this possible?
(7) LAW In California, you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not?
(8) HISTORY What was the President's name in 1975?
(9) PHYSICAL EDUCATION If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?
(10) ENGLISH Which is correct to say, "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk of the egg is white"?
(11) AGRICULTURE If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field?

Record your answers. The correct answers will be revealed in a couple of days.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Warning Signals

I have been frustrated this winter by the signal on my dashboard which indicates low tire pressure. It would come on as soon as the temperature dropped. When we took a trip and the air warmed or when we checked the tire pressure and added just a little air, the signal light would turn off. However, recently it came on again and I just assumed that when we took a long trip or when the weather warmed it would go off as it had in the past. But this time it didn't and I decided just to ignore it because we were due to have the car serviced. Two Saturdays ago we decided to travel about two hours to Emmaus to attend a funeral. When we left at 7:30 in the morning I thought our rear tire on the driver's side looked a little low. We stopped at Sheetz for coffee and I decided to use their air pump to check the tires. I was surprised that this tire took a considerable amount to get it back to the suggested pressure. But it looked fine and we took off for the funeral. I was also pleased to see that once again the dashboard warning light went off. We returned later that afternoon without any problem or warning light. However, Sunday morning the light came back on and the tire looked a little low once again. Then I checked more carefully and noticed a screw in the tire. We decided that before we had a flat tire we'd leave the car at the local garage for them to check on Monday. And sure enough, not only did they find a screw in the tire but they also located a nail. I can't help but wonder now how long these were in the tire - all winter, a month, a few days? Looking back I am so thankful that the tire didn't go flat while we were traveling, especially when we were going 65 mph on route 222. We always pray for the Lord's protection when we travel and I feel that His protection was really obvious this time. I guess I also learned that you shouldn't ignore warning signals, not only in the car, but in life. The Bible warns us of the dangers of doing our own thing and yet so often we just go ahead and ignore the warnings. And doing that can be dangerous.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No Vacancy

As we've gotten older, the trip to Pinebrook, very early Friday mornings, to lead hymn sings has gotten more tiring. So when we can afford it, we often try to reserve a motel room for Thursday night in Allentown. Then we just have an easy 40 minute drive in the morning. We have two hotels that we prefer but sometimes we are disappointed to find that they have no vacancy. It's hard to believe, but sometimes they run out of rooms far in advance. After this past week I am so glad that the same thing doesn't happen in heaven. Wouldn't it be terrible if all the rooms there were filled before our arrival. This week we had seven friends or acquaintances make the move to heaven. It was a very difficult week. Three of them were longtime members of our church. Four of them were relatives of our friends from church. We believe that all four knew the Lord. As our pastor said on Sunday, it was a bittersweet week - bitter for us who are left behind, but sweet for all seven who are now with the Lord. I am so thankful for the Lord's words in John 1: 1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions (or rooms). if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Over the years these words have been a comfort to many believers. And it is great to know that unlike the Marriott, Jesus said there were many rooms. There won't be any no vacancy signs. Even with the many who made the journey this week, there is plenty of room. And I've already made my reservation for my room. It is guaranteed by Jesus himself who also paid the entire bill. Have you reserved your room?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Remember Your Photo ID

By the time you read this, the governor of Pennsylvania will probably have already signed a new law that will require all voters in the state to present photo identification when voting. The bill has been debated for some time with both political parties - as one would expect in today's political climate - taking opposite sides. The Democrats claim that this will prevent elderly and poor from being able to vote because they won't have such identification. Now I question that because today you can't even go to a doctor without photo identification. Two solutions are presented for this concern. First the government will provide these cards for them - at public expense. That sounds like another government dive into debt and more intrusion into one's private life. The other solution is to allow these folks to vote on provisional ballots. As a judge of elections I really dislike provisional ballots because it is another time consuming process involving more government forms and paperwork. Now the Republicans claim to support this new law because it will cut down on fraud in elections. Personally I didn't know there was that much fraud with people voting illegally. I would suggest that a better place to start would be with the voter rolls which often contain names of deceased persons or people who've moved. I have even found a few double entries. And at an election I spend much of my time on the phone with the election bureau trying to track down folks who claim to be registered but are not in our books. Maybe this is a better place to improve the voting process. I am afraid the new law is more a matter of politics than it is a legitimate way to improve voting. Maybe the folks who actually work at the voting precincts should be consulted. Oh, but that would be too practical and novel. And our elected officials who have never actually run an election really know best. Now there are two things that upset me about this new law. The first is the timing. The next two elections are the heaviest of any that we have. We will be overworked trying to process voters in a presidential primary and election. We need more help but government can't afford it. We will be held up by people without cards and those who will criticize and blame us for the change. Yes, we often take the brunt of complaints from upset voters. Why not wait and begin to implement this law in one of the off elections when we sit there for long periods without any voters. It would make much more sense to do it then. But our government isn't always known for using common sense. The second thing that upsets me is that it is another government requirement on the top of many other "questionable" mandates that already exist. For example, there are four or five required posters of regulations that I am required to post for voters - at least three copies of each in both English and Spanish. In my nearly eight years of serving I have never seen anybody read any of these. But, by law, they must be posted. As judge I have multiple forms that must, by law, be completed for all sorts of situations even if I have nobody who needs those special services. I probably have about 20 envelopes that must be filled with various reports and returns. As one who prides himself in administrative and organizational skills, I would like to be able to take and redesign the entire voting process. But even if I did, my plan would probably never be approved because it would become partisan and the two parties would take opposite views and it would die a slow death in committee. So, in conclusion, please help us out by having your photo identification ready for us. Please don't make us turn you away or vote a provisional ballot. If you are going to forget your photo identification, please go to another precinct.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Tale Of Two Stores

Let me tell you the tale of two grocery stores. The first one, let me call it store J, has been part of our town for decades. It used to be the place where all the town citizens would pass by each other when they did their grocery shopping. It was a friendly, clean store with great meat. It was known throughout the area as a great place to shop. Eventually it passed to the original owner's son and then a few years ago to some long time employees. Years ago the store moved to a new much larger location and then expanded there several times. Then it began to open on Sundays and the owners tried to add all sorts of extras, crowding the narrow aisles, in an attempt to keep up with area competition. Along the way it began to lose many of the special things that made it a unique local business. About a year ago or so, a brand new store that also had its roots in Lancaster County expanded and added a beautiful modern building about four miles away. Let me call it store S. It had the advantages of being big and modern with a large stock and variety of items. We began to shop there once in awhile, especially on days when we passed it on the way home from our morning walks at Park City. Now recently I have been doing much more of our grocery shopping and I have begun to notice some striking comparisons. Store J often has clerks stocking the shelves while folks are shopping and they often block the narrow aisles. Store S appears to do most of its stocking of shelves after hours. When you enter Store J you are generally ignored by the men and girls working outside while at Store S you are greeted with a smile and a welcome. When store J has a sale, these sale items are often gone when you go for them while at store S the shelves are generally full. The last two times I shopped at Store J for lunch meat it appeared that I was bothering the clerks who really didn't appear to want to serve me. I certainly didn't get a smile or even a thank you. And in one case I'm not sure if the clerk even knew what she was doing. At store S the clerks at the meat counter were friendly and smiling and shared specials and offered us free samples. At Store J there are never free samples although there is a small stand near the meat counter that appears to offer something even though it has always been empty and in the way. At store S there is free coffee, tea, samples of fruits, samples of special items and of course, free samples of lunch meat. At store J the clerks throughout the store appear not to want to be bothered but at store S they will go out of their way to help you find a product. At store J my wife recently witnessed a clerk being publicly humiliated by the owner. At store J the check out clerks generally have nothing to say and often appear to keep looking at their watches. However, a couple of the old-timers are exceptions to this. At store S the check-out clerks greet you, talk to you and appear to enjoy what they are doing. At store J employees appear to be there just for a paycheck while at store S it appears that they are there to serve you. In general it appears that folks enjoy working at store S while at store J they are putting in time. Now that has created a dilemma for us. We believe it is important to support local business and we have been regular customers for over 40 years. The previous owners were good to our boys who worked there. Their prices are as good as the competition. And many of our friends still shop there. It is more convenient for us and we know where things are. But in recent years something has been lost. Now how important are friendliness and service to retaining customers? Well last Saturday we had to go shopping and I asked my wife where she would like to go this time. She paused for a few seconds and said that she would like to go to store S. Now even though I knew it would take us 30 extra minutes and a half gallon of expensive gas, I agreed. And at least on that Saturday, store S happily served us and earned our $100 order. Convenience and tradition versus service and friendliness? An interesting question for today's shoppers.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who Do You Believe?

So who are you going to believe? Last fall various weather persons (must be politically correct) made their predictions for the winter weather. Many called for above average precipitation and lower than averages temperatures resulting in considerable snow. Others had different predictions, but I don't recall hearing any of them predict the type of winter we actually had. But then that is a profession where you can be wrong much of the time and everybody accepts your errors. Maybe the only profession with less reliability is baseball where you can fail seven our of ten times at bat and still make millions of dollars. But then in February there were all the ground hogs who made predictions based on the seeing or not seeing of their shadows. They were surrounded by men who annually make fools of themselves dressed in white gowns and doing stupid things. And the verdicts of the many ground hogs? ... Generally six more weeks of winter. And what have we actually had? We've generally had spring like weather. Flowers are popping out of the ground and trees are budding. Many days have been pleasant and warm. Then there is the wooly caterpillar. The only one of these creatures that I saw last fall had a narrow dark band, a light body, and then another narrow band on the other end. I'm not into the business of interpteting caterpillar colors, but I assume that this indicated a very early snow, a mild winter and then a late snow storm. And so far the caterpillar wins the prize. After our October surprise we have had the fourth warmest winter here in history. Now I don't know what to conclude. Could it be that God's little creatures are better predictors than all the wise educated weather people? I do know that they have to be better than the groundhogs and all the crazy people who gather annually to make fools of themselves with the stated purpose of determining future weather. Well, take your choice. The only warning is that if the caterpillar is correct, we could still get another storm. But the band was narrow, so hopefully it won't be as bad as some of the serious March storms that I remember. March snow storms around here are what legends are made of. Hopefully no more legends will be created this winter/spring. And on March 11 daylight savings begins once again. Is your lawnmower serviced and ready to go? Mine is!