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, July 28, 2012

What Is 144 Million Dollars?

When you begin to look at what its wrong with our country you don’t have to look any farther  than the sports scene. That became evident again this week when the Phillies signed pitcher Cole Hamels to a six year contract for 144 million dollars.  Now Cole is a great pitcher, but is he worth anything like that?  Is anyone worth that much?  And by signing for that amount several of his longtime teammates will now need to be traded so that the Phillies can pay Hamels. This just shows how athletes no longer care about their fellow players when money is involved.  Who does he think is going to help him win any games over the next six years when these veterans are gone because the Phils couldn’t afford to keep them?  It certainly is a business more than a sport.  But let’s break down that salary a little more.  $144,000,000 over six years is 24 million a year.  Last year he pitched in 32 games so at that rate it is $750,000 a game.  Incidentally, he had 14 wins which would be $1,714,285 per win - and that is a lot of tickets that must be sold at inflated prices.  Last year he pitched 216 innings so that would amount to $111,111 per inning and with three outs per inning that would cost the Phillies $37,037 an out.  Now of course, he just might get hurt and go on the disabled list a few times in the next six years so it might cost the Phillies much more than that per out.  Now we are also assuming that with not much left to pay other players that the Phillies will have players that can help Hamels get these outs.  Now assuming that my math is correct, I figure that for about 8 innings of work he could pay the city of Lancaster for five firemen for two years.  He could pay off Penn State’s NCAA penalty in just  2.4 years.  In 2.8 years he could pay the entire Penn Manor School District budget for a year and we wouldn’t need to pay our increased school taxes that year.  Maybe the city of Harrisburg should negotiate with him to pay off their massive debt.  For two outs he could send my one grandson to Lebanon Valley for four years and for just one out he could send my other grandson to Millersville for four years. It would be a little more if they didn’t commute. How about that, just one inning of pitching and both could spend four years in college without any debt.  Come on Cole, we need you!  For one inning and one out he could pay for a person in a nursing home for a year. I’m sure many would appreciate that help.   For one out he could sponsor 154 Awana adopt a clubs around the world.  What a great gift that would be helping thousands of youngsters around the world to hear the Gospel.  For 18 innings (about 3 games for him) he could pay off our church mortgage and for 27 outs or about 9 innings he could cover our church budget for a year.  And for about 2 outs he could support a missionary for a year.  Well enough of the statistics.  Hopefully you get the idea.  Are our priorities out of whack in this country.  Without a doubt!  Do I like the Phillies?  Yes!  Am I glad that Hamels will remain a Phillie?  I guess.  Is anyone worth that type of money?  no way!  Of course, maybe for the next six years he will go 30-0 each year with numerous perfect games, winning six World Series and Cy Young Awards.  Then I will change my mind.  But all of that is just a fantasy - just like his contract should be.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

They're back!

They've returned ... unfortunately ... for the third summer in a row.  While walking through our yard a few days ago I first saw them buzzing around our lawn.  Then I saw the piles of dirt from the new tunnels.  Our dreaded cicada killers have returned to mess up our lawn once again.  By the end of August our backyard will look like a battle zone with piles of dirt from tunnels all over.  Then when the activity ceases I will once again try to dig the areas up and plant grass seed once again.  If I am fortunate, by next June it will look nice again - at least until they hatch for the fourth year.  Last year I wrote a blog about these unusual wasps.  But in case you missed it or have never seen them in action, here are a few facts for you to ponder. Adult eastern cicada killer wasps are large, 0.6 to 2 inches long.  They are robust wasps with hairy, reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance.  Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas)   Adults emerge in summer, typically beginning around late June or early July and die off in September or October. They are present in a given area for 60 to 75 days, usually until mid-September. The large females are commonly seen skimming around lawns seeking good sites to dig burrows and searching for cicadas in trees and taller shrubs. Females may share a burrow, digging their own nest cells off the main tunnel. A typical burrow is 10–20 in deep and about 0.6 in. wide. As much as 100 cubic inches of soil may be brought to the surface as tunnels are formed. In digging a burrow, the female dislodges the soil with her jaws and, using her hind legs, pushes loose soil behind her as she backs out of the burrow. Her hind legs are equipped with special spines that help her push the dirt behind her. The excess soil pushed out of the burrow forms a mound with a trench through it at the burrow entrance. After digging a nest chamber in the burrow, female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting. After paralyzing a cicada, the female wasp holds it upside down beneath her and takes off toward her burrow; this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is often more than twice her weight. After putting one or more cicadas in her nest cell, the female deposits an egg on a cicada and closes the cell with dirt.  New nest cells are dug as necessary off of the main burrow tunnel and a single burrow may eventually have 10 or more nest cells. The egg hatches in one or two days, and the cicadas serve as food for the grub. The larvae complete their development in about 2 weeks. Overwintering occurs as a mature larva within an earth-coated cocoon. Pupation occurs in the nest cell in the spring and lasts 25 to 30 days.  Large aggregations of cicada killers can build up over time. An estimated 40% of the developing larvae (a dozen or more per tunnel) may emerge as adults the following year so numbers can increase rapidly.  These wasps will stay and thrive where their basic needs are met. Even if aggressive control measures kill the inhabitants, the site will remain attractive to new settlers in ensuing years.  I guess that is why we can't beat them - we've tried sprays, a wiffle ball bat and even an electrified tennis racket - yes, you've read that correctly.  But nothing has been successful.  I just have one question.  Why did they choose our lawn to infest?  Neighboring areas have been left to clover and dandelion and other weeds.  Why don't they nest there?  Maybe they just like areas that were once attractive and well kept.  Ok, that's enough writing for today - guess I'll go out back and swing my racket for awhile.

The Results!

This is not a picture of our yard, but it does show what happens to a lawn when the cicada killers invade an area.  I sure wish there was a way to end this annual invasion.  I am sure that the Creator knew what He was doing when He created this special insect to control the cicada population.  I just wish that He also would have created an insect that would come along and repair the damage the cicada killers leave behind.  I guess that "insect" must be me!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Changing Times

When you tell folks that you are from Lancaster, most of them picture a quiet, clean town with Amish buggies and Mennonites, located in the heart of the "Bible-belt".  That was the way it was when I lived at 448 North Queen Street - about sixty years ago.  As an elementary student I felt safe to walk to school and downtown and to explore the alleys and city neighborhoods. I really enjoyed the city as a youngster. And during that time I think folks accepted God and morality, even those folks who didn't attend one of the many churches that could be located on many of the blocks throughout the town. People generally were honest and hard working and took care of their homes and their neighborhoods.  But times have changed.  Drugs and crime and shootings can now make the city very  dangerous at times. You need to be careful where you walk, even during the day. Many of the old neighborhoods are trashy and filled with houses that are no longer cared for.  But maybe one of the worst signs of the times is the rapidly growing display of anti-Christian sentiment. And that is even a more serious problem than the decay of neighborhoods. You can see this in things like the letters to the editor of the newspaper where Christians are chastised as being intolerant and opposed to progress. People who defend moral standards are often chastised and folks who dare refer to scripture are mocked.  Even the Lancaster newspaper now has given in to public pressure and has begun to print engagements and wedding announcements for so called "gay partners".  And many outwardly praise the newspaper for doing so.  At the  annual Lititz 4th of July parade there was an entry this year by the Atheists of Lancaster County.  They paraded with their signs mocking many Christian veterans by saying they were "Atheists in Foxholes". From the look of them, I doubt that any of them were actually in foxholes, unlike the many brave veterans who were a major part of the parade. And the driver of their lead car was video taping all of  the thousands of families that came to watch this traditional patriotic parade.  I imagine that they were hoping to catch incidents that they could use as propaganda to mock the "Christian community" for their intolerance.  What a sad event to see them march and promote their agenda in this very special example of true Americana.  Then a few days ago the newspaper ran an article about an area man who had filed complaints with federal officials because a female restaurant owner in the Columbia area had advertised that she would give 10% off Sunday meals to anybody who brought a church bulletin to her.  He claims this is discrimination against those who never go to church.  And that is even sadder because this man admits that he has never even gone to this restaurant to be "discriminated" against.  Incidentally, the owner also does not even go to church but thought that this would be a good way to increase Sunday sales, just as she does to promote her business with other special offers throughout the week.  But it is another example of the growing boldness and intolerance of unbelievers.  And sadly, he will probably win his complaint because the ACLU has won similar battles elsewhere.  I certainly hope that this senior complainant does not ever take a senior discount at a restaurant.  Certainly that discriminates against those who aren't yet seniors.  Well I guess that is just another sign of the times.  And when this attack  becomes so obvious in Bible-belt Lancaster, it just provides more evidence of the decline of this great country as Satan sharpens his attacks.  Lancaster certainly is no longer your father's Lancaster.  And neither is this country your father's country.  As a country we have become bankrupt both economically and morally.  But our hope is the knowledge that God is in control and in the end He wins. Conditions here on earth may change drastically, but He is immutable, unchanging, and His plans for us and His people will never change.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Speak Up

Have a problem with a product or with customer service?  Don't let it go.  Report your problem to the store or company. Write a letter or send an e-mail. Do it kindly and respectfully, no matter how upset you may be.  You might be surprised what happens.  I have found that very often you will receive an answer and often much more than that.  I am known for the letters that I have written over the years and I have a great record of results.  In the past few months alone I have written to complain about a problem with our trash removal service.  They responded by giving us a free month.  I have complained about some open bags of Skittles in a large box we purchased for Awana.  They sent me coupons to replace them.  I complained about a defective container of deodorant.  They send me coupons for a number of their products.  We recently purchased a jigsaw puzzle which had not been opened.  After hours of work we found that one piece was missing.  We checked everywhere for it and couldn't find it.  So I sent an e-mail to the company.  They apologized and promised us a new one of our choice.  I chose a neat one with several past presidents playing cards together (see the picture).  They sent it to us and we enjoyed the challenge of putting it together.  In the past I have also gotten free hotel nights at Marriott when I complained about problems which we encountered and once we even got a free upgrade to a room with a hot tub.  But let me tell you about our recent trip to Wisconsin.  Before we left I received an e-mail from the manager of the Residence Inn in Appleton telling us that because of construction there the swimming pool might not be available during our stay.  We were goint to use our Marriott points to stay there free for one night.  I replied that we were very disappointed because we had wanted a hotel with an indoor pool after a long day of travel.  But since we enjoyed Residence Inn we'd probably still come.  When we arrived we were told that they had decided to move us to a near by Hampton Inn which had an indoor pool.  And they would refund our points and give us a bonus 5,000 points for our inconvenience.  And if that wasn't enough, we were invited to return to enjoy their free evening meal.  So we enjoyed the Hampton pool, the RI evening meal, and a nice room. And with the return of our points and the bonus, we have enough for two free nights on future trips to Pinebrook for hymn sings.  But that isn't the end of the story.  For our first night in Wisconsin, actually our anniversary, I had booked a Marriott Farifield in Madison.  I chose it because it was new and had an indoor pool.  And, after a very long day of travel, we were looking forward to an evening relaxing around the pool and using the hot tub.  But when we went to use it, the pool and tub were invaded by seven rude teens who controlled the whole area and splashed everything, while their fathers watched, for over an hour.  We were unable to get into the pool safely so we finally left and went back to our room.  The following day I received an e-mail from the manager asking how our stay went.  I told him that everything there was exceptional except for our pool experience.  Even though it wasn't his fault, he wrote back and apologized and told us that he would not charge us for the night.  I replied and thanked him for his kindness and said that because of this service, maybe we'd stop by again at the end of the week on our way back.  Then he replied and said that if we returned he would give us our room at half price.  So we took him up on his offer and spent our last two nights there.  Net result for the week - three free nights and enough points/saved for two additional free nights in the future.  Now I certainly wasn't expecting this, but I've learned that when you share a problem kindly and respectfullly, you often get results and sometime they are more than you expected.  Now because of my success, I am considering opening a new business - Mr. K's Letter Writing Establishment.  Maybe for $99.99 I'll write a complaining letter or e-mail for you.  But for the regular readers of this blog I am willing to give a 10% discount.  So there you are!  However, I do know of one more reliable service to use and I admit that I can't compete with that.  I think the Lord said "Ask and you shall receive".  I can't make that same guarantee.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Was Drug Too!

Here was an article from the internet that was recently sent to me.

Now we didn't have a woodshed and dad didn't have fields, but I thank God that I, too, was "drug" by my loving parents.  I was "drug" to church not only on Sunday mornings, but Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and any night that there was a church function.  I was even "drug" away from little league baseball practice and games to attend Wednesday night prayer meetings.  I didn't get it very often, but when I needed it, my father "drug" me to the bedroom and he didn't spare the rod.  When we built our new house in Lititz I was "drug" there to help pick rocks out of the fill which would eventually be our backyard.  And guess what?  Today I have no regrets about my former "drug" problems and, in fact, they are good memories.  My parents knew that I would never be a professional athlete but they knew that I could be a respectable citizen and more importantly a child of God.  But today we have a generation of parents who are afraid to say "no" and put limits on their kids.  They give them everything they want - much more than they need.  They don't make them work and they defend their actions instead of discipling them. They don't make them go to church - they want to allow them to make their own decisions about God and life so they let the world mold their lifestyle and beliefs. The rod of discipline that the Bible talks about has been lost in most homes, even in Christian homes.  And I think many parents are even afraid of their children. They's given up control to a Godless, immoral society.  Fortunately there are still some parents who strive to raise their children by God's standards.  And fortunately there are some children who are privileged to have such parents.  I thank God that I was.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


One of the questions most often asked by humans of all ages is "Why?".  Youngsters often use that as a standard response when the parents tell them to do something.  As we get older we often ask that question of God when unexpected things happen to us.  And other times we just ask that question, in our minds, as we observe different things.  Here are some of the questions I've asked myself over recent weeks. ...  Why is there so much unsolved crime in this country with all the brilliant detectives and CSI units that we see on television?  If they are really that good, why can't they be called upon to help out our local police forces? ... When couples walk in the morning at Park City, why do so many men walk a half step ahead of their companion? ... Why do the same people always walk the wrong way, against traffic, at Park City?  Are they all from England? ... Why can't computer sales people and consultants talk in English so that you can understand what they are trying to tell you?  ... Why do chubby girls wear short skirts? Why do girls wearing mini-dresses keep pulling their skirts down?  Why don't they just wear a bathing suit, it might cover more than their dresses do?  .... Why do attractive young ladies ruin their appearance by filling their arms and shoulders with tattoos? And why do they smoke? ... When Lancaster County doctor offices use a recorded message to remind you of an appointment, why don't they use somebody from Lancaster County who can pronounce Lancaster as residents here do?  I'm tired of hearing Land' cast er. ... And speaking of doctors, why do they tell you to arrive 15 minutes early and then they are 30 minutes late for your appointment? ... Why do teens and some men wear their pants low, hanging on their hips?  I saw one guy the other day that actually had to hold his pants up to keep them from falling off as he walked at Park City.  How can that be the least bit comfortable? ...  Why do underfunded missionaries who are trying to raise their support frequently fly all around to vacation or to attend meetings? ...  Why are the same people always late for everything? ... Why do friends seem to avoid you when you are diagnosed with cancer?  Don't they know what to talk about or are they afraid they'll catch it from you? My brother remarked about this and I now have the same experience .... When the economy is bad, why don't stores open on time?  I often observe that situation at Park City.  In fact the other day, with about 20 potential customers waiting at the doors, JC Penney Co. still wasn't open when I passed there ten minutes after the opening time. ...  Why do people take such boring jobs as manning a Bath Fitter booth at a mall.  Ultimate boring!  I guess they just need the money ... Why is it cheaper to fly from Harrisburg to Chicago and then to Milwaukee then it is to just fly from Harrisburg to Chicago?  That just makes no sense at all to me. ...  Why do they sell hot dogs in packs of ten and hot dog rolls in packs of eight or twelve? ... Why do we continue to pay professional baseball players millions when they only suceed at most three times out of ten when batting, when they drop fly balls, when they make little league base running mistakes or when pitchers can't throw the ball over the plate for a strike?  It's amazing that you can fail that often and still make millions. ... And while I am talking about baseball, why do I keep watching the Phillies?  Why does anyone keep watching them?  Why do they keep selling out the stadium?  It certainly can't be because we love to watch a group of overpaid old men who have forgotten the fundamentals of the game. But that is what we are doing ... Why do we even take time to wonder about such stupid things as those you've just read in this blog?   Why?  Don't ask me because I really don't know why!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Not Independent Even On Indpendence Day

Yesterday the Lancaster newspaper ran an article about the dramatic fall of gas prices in the last two months.  And the fall has been welcome and very dramatic.  The price per gallon locally had dropped almost 80 cents during that period to less than $3.10 per gallon.  But before the article was even printed, something strange happened.  From Sunday to Monday most stations suddenly raised their prices ten cents or more.  The newspaper didn't know this would happen.  Now why would the price suddenly increase?  There were no new shortages, no sudden increases in the price per barrel.  I can think of only one reason for the sudden reversal - the Fourth of July holiday and the opportunity to gouge the American drivers who were heading off on vacations.  In my mind, much of the problem with gas prices has been the fault of the big oil companies.  For the sake of big profits they have hit the American consumer in the pocketbook.  They have now gotten us used to prices of almost $4.  I suspect that next year we will be forced to get used to prices nearing $5.  The oil companies are in control with one goal - make huge profits.  Now why have prices fallen the last few months?  Probably because of the recession and the fact that Americans have begun to conserve.  I also wouldn't be surprised if some of the drop wasn't to help Obama get reelected in November.  Nothing surprises me anymore.  But some of the blame has to be put on the local merchants.  In our area Sheetz and Turkey Hill control most of the area sales.  It is interesting to watch how in various areas their prices rise and fall at both stations at the very same time.  It is also interesting to see how one Turkey Hill can be a certain price and a few miles away another Turkey Hill can be as much as ten cents per gallon more and sometimes even more than that.  Near our church the Sheetz and Turkey Hill charges are always the same.  As I said, on Monday morning they both jumped ten cents.  Others in the area followed except for a Sunoco station that must have been caught off guard.  Late Monday night I saw their price of $3.09 and quickly filled up there for the first time ever.  Tuesday morning their price jumped ten cents to match the rest.  So much for the local consumer.  Unfortunately, even on Independence Day we aren't independent of the oil industry.   So to Sheetz and Turkey Hill I say shame on you for gouging us with your holiday increase.  But I guess that is the American way and there isn't much we can do except try to conserve.