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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Surgery Talk

A few blogs ago I mentioned that I was awake during my recent cataract surgery. Most of the time you are sound asleep during surgery and many procedures. And that is normally a good thing.  While I was a little apprehensive about being awake while they worked on my eye, actually it really wasn't that unpleasant. I could hear everything as the surgeon gave instructions to the nurse, so I had a good idea what was happening and where they were in the process. Plus I didn't have to spend much time in the recovery room.  But I imagine there are times that you might not want to hear what is being said, especially if you were to hear any of the following statements.

* Are you sure it was to be the right eye? 
* Better save that. We'll need it for the autopsy.
* Someone call the janitor. We're going to need a mop.
* Bo! Bo! Come back with that! Bad dog!
* Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what's that?
* Hand me that, uh, that uh, thingie.
* Oh no! I just lost my Rolex.
* Oops! Hey, has anyone ever survived 500ml of this stuff before?
* Everybody stand back! I lost my contact lens!
* What's this doing here?
* I wish I hadn't forgotten my glasses.
* Well folks, this will be an experiment for us all.
* Sterile, shcmerile. The floor's clean, right?
* Anyone see where I left that scalpel?
* Oh no! Page 47 of the manual is missing!

Friday, March 22, 2013

March Madness

March Madness - the annual NCAA basketball tournament - the time when folks fill out their brackets and compete to see who can pick the most winners.  Even those who aren't basketball fans get involved in this annual event.  But for over 30 years I was involved in another March Madness and I miss it.  My annual event was the PIAA basketball championships.  It started late one afternoon when one of my bosses received a call that he needed a clock operator for that night's district play-off doubleheader at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg.  We had just completed a staff meeting and he had to find somebody quickly.  He knew that I had kept score before and asked if I would be willing to fill in as the timer.  Even though I had never done this before I gladly accepted and that job grew into many years of working play-off games there.  I worked with a team of administrators from Penn Manor including an announcer, scorekeeper, and ticket sellers.  We often had double headers and sometimes triple headers with both boys and girls.  At times it was stressful.  The girls had just begun to play with the same rules as boys and some of their games then were so very slow and long, filled with fouls and jump balls. Those were often boring and at times it was hard to even keep awake. But we had many great games and I saw some great teams and players.  My worst experience came in a game between Steel-High and Red Lion.  The refs had to come to me to have me determine if a foul they called came before or after the final buzzer.  I ruled before.  The Red Lion player stepped to the foul line with time expired and his team one point behind.  He made both shots to win the game and eliminate Steel High.  The next day the Harrisburg Patriot newspaper reported that Barry Kauffman, the timer from Millersville, had made the decision.  I expected some problems from the losers who take their basketball very seriously, but fortunately it never came.  A few times over the years we were pelted with ice and soda when fans were upset with the refs.  The worst time came when future NBA player Sam Bowie was kicked out of the game with two technicals.  After doing this a few years. the head of the PIAA asked me if I would be willing to serve as official statistician for the state finals at Hershey. This was a new and important position. I gladly accepted and for 25 years I served at both the Hershey arena and later the Giant Center.  After the first year it was obvious that I needed a helper to handle the press since often there were more than 100 press members present for a game.  They allowed me to hire a person and for most years I was able to work with one of my sons, usually Craig, and that was very special. After a few years, for a variety of reasons, the team from Penn Manor was no longer needed there, except for me.  A few years later they stopped playing games at the Farm Show so that experience was also gone.  But the state finals were enough for me at that point.  It was again a stressful time since there were four championship games on Friday and four on Saturday.  I had to complete my work each half very quickly so the stats could be distributed to the waiting press.  But again, we saw some great games and great players, such as future NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Billy Owens.  All games were televised so we were often front and center in the broadcasts.  We had access to the hospitality suite and received free meals.  We "rubbed shoulders" with all the big wigs from throughout the state and often saw well-known college coaches who were there to recruit.  And everything Hershey provided was first class.  But a few years ago the PIAA decided to move the finals to State College.  Those of us who had worked at Hershey were not invited to go along and we were replaced by Penn State employees. Typical of the PIAA, there was no thank you for 25 years of service and not even a notification that I was no longer needed.  And so my 25 years ended suddenly and very quietly.  But that is the way it often works in life. This year they have returned to Hershey.  Now I don't really know if I could handle that pace and stress today, but I do miss this March Madness.  Sitting at home watching the games on television is just not the same thing.  But I do have many great memories.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

And a happy St. Patrick's Day to you!  Are you celebrating?  Maybe you should  celebrate with some green cupcakes, green eggs, green tea or at least a piece of (preferably green) celery?  Well, actually I feel a little green thinking about eating those green things.  I guess we often associate St. Patrick's Day with out-of-control drinking and celebrating and, unless you are Irish, today is probably just another day in your life.  Quite often I receive a blog from Awana.  The blog is called "ApPARENTly Blogging" and is really written to parents.  And while I never celebrate St. Patrick's Day myself, I thought some of the things she blogged (is that a word?) about this week were interesting.  Here are some of the things she shared.  "First of all … Patrick wasn't Irish, nor did he drive the snakes out of Ireland. They were never there in the first place.  Patrick was actually born into a wealthy Christian family in England around 390 A.D.. His father was a deacon in the Celtic Church of Britain, which at that time had a reputation for Bible teaching and missionary endeavors.  Patrick's full name is Patrick Magonus Sucatus. Life was good for the young boy, but when he was 14 years old, he was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. Now, life was terrifying. The people all around him worshiped idols and were ungodly in the way they treated him.  Patrick remembered the good things his father had taught him about God, and there, in captivity, trusted Christ as Savior.  Finally, at age 20, he escaped and went back to England, but he could not forget the idol-worshipping people of Ireland.  He knew that they needed a Savior. He finished his education and then went back to Ireland as a missionary for 30 years. He died on March 17 at age 70.   Here is an excerpt from a hymn written by Patrick, often called Patrick's Breastplate:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
In many ways, St. Patrick's Day is one of the most Christian-based holidays we celebrate."   So maybe you ought to at least put on some green today to celebrate Patrick's Christian life.  Or maybe you could go out and cut your "green" grass or, better yet, look for some four leaf clovers!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Medical Advances

Nobody wants to get sick.  Nobody wants to go through medical tests or surgery.  But it often can't be avoided.  And most will agree that our health system is in a real mess.  It is expensive and Obama Care appears to be making it worse rather than better.  But over the years technology and medical research have made many major improvements in care.  About 50 years ago I had a myleogram and it was a terrible, painful experience with a long period of recuperation.  A few years ago I had a second one.  It took less than an hour and I walked out when it was over with no after effects.  Many years ago I had a catscan of my kidneys.  It took about an hour and it was so slow that I remember counting the holes in the ceiling tiles to see if I was even moving.  Recent catscans of the same thing have taken just a few minutes.  Years ago a friend of mine had gall bladder surgery.  He was hospitalized for several days and had to recover from the wounds required to remove it.  A few years ago I had mine.  I was in and out in three hours and went home with three band aids on my stomach. Remarkable!  When I was a teen I remember an elder in our church going through cataract surgery.  I recall that he was required to lay flat for several days and they used sandbags around his head to keep him from moving his head.  Last week I had my first cataract surgery.  Before I could have it I was required to have a physical from my doctor.  I also had to fill out medical history forms for the hospital and I had a telephone interview concerning the anesthesia they would use. I also was given several days worth of special eye drops because medicines I am taking for my prostate cancer create a much greater chance of complications in cataract surgery.  I arrived at the health campus at 11 am.  I was checked in, given an IV and they placed a band on my right leg.  Then the anesthesiologist came and checked me out and put another band on my right leg.  At 12:30 I walked to the operating room. The surgeon put a third band on my right leg and a mark above my right eye.  I guess they didn't want to make a mistake and do the wrong eye.  Six times I was asked my name, my birth date and what  I was having done.  A few years ago they put my wife out for this surgery.  This time they just  gave me something to relax me and I was wide awake for the surgery which took about 15 minutes.  When my wife had her surgeries they put a black shield on her eye following the surgery.  For me they used a clear shield that I could see through.  After a few minutes in the recovery room I walked back to a booth to have a cup of apple juice, to have my IV taken our, to get my instructions and to get dressed.  By about 1:30 I was taken by wheelchair to our car.  And then we headed home.   I had two follow-up visits scheduled and instructions for 126 eye drops that I must take over a three week period.  The surgery was incredibly simple but the recovery is more complex.  It will take several weeks for the eye to heal and as a result my sight is blurry.  I probably will not be able to see well again until my glasses can be changed.  However, as folks told me, the colors - especially the whites - are incredibly brighter.  Now I am scheduled for my left eye next week but I'm not sure if I am going to go through with it now.  It's not the surgery that concerns me, it is the fact that I fear not being able to read or write for about a month until both eyes can heal and my glasses can be changed.  I see the surgeon today and I guess a decision must be made then.  As I originally stated, while we hope that we never need to use it, medical improvements are impressive and much more advanced than in our parents' days.  But, unfortunately, the costs of such care has also exploded and the growing bureaucracy threatens the entire system.  Hope to be able to "see" you soon!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

School Problems Today

We pour all this money into education today and our schools are a mess.  There is no discipline.  Our kids can't read.  Teacher pay is too high.  You've all heard these criticisms and maybe you've shared in them.  You may say schools just aren't like they were when I was in school.  And you are right, they are not the same.  Actually some things are better - when I was in high school my class had a 30% drop out rate between our junior year and graduation.  I had no college level or advanced placement classes available as students do today.  I wish that I had had some of the great technology, facilities and opportunities that students have today.  On the other hand, for a variety of reasons, many things are much worse and I feel that there is one major issue helping to create this that nobody wants to address.  You see, it isn't politically correct.  I recall the year when the incoming kindergarten class of one of our elementary schools for the first time had half of its children coming from one parent homes. That was a major change.  Now I am sure that this situation is probably now true in most of the incoming classes in our public schools. The homes have changed and that has had a devastating impact on schools.  As a teacher who taught on both sides of this change I could testify how this impacted my classes in a negative way.  Somebody told me that they had been keeping records of the Teen of the Week feature in the local newspaper and that close to 100% of those chosen appeared to come from two parent families.  Now please don't get me wrong, a child from a one parent family can survive and do well, but they are usually faced with a host of challenges that others don't have. And things like the death of a parent can't be helped.  But divorced folks often say that their kids aren't really affected by the change in their homes.  I think that most who say this either are hoping that this will be the case or are not facing reality. Statistics seem to prove otherwise.  Here are a few statistics that I have found.  (1) 50% of America's children will live in homes of divorce. Almost 50% of those children will see their parents divorce a second time. (Life Course);   (2) 40% of children are not living with their dads. (Executive Briefing);   (3) 75% of children/youth who are being treated for chemical dependency come from single-parent homes. (Dr. Weiss);   (4) 20% of kids from broken homes have learning, emotional or behavior problems. (Dr. Weiss);   (5) More than 50% of teens who have been arrested come from homes where there's been a divorce;   (6) Those children who see their parents in repeat divorces earn lower grades and are often seen as not very likable by others;   (7)  Children of divorce are 50% more apt to have health issues than their peers;   (8) Children whose parents are divorced suffer depression seven times more than children of healthy, two-parent homes;   (9) America has 1 divorce every 13 seconds (McKinley);   (10) Children who live in single parent homes as a result of a parent's death have fewer emotional reactions than children in homes of divorce;  (11)  85% of children from traditional homes graduate from high school while only 67% of children from homes of divorced children graduate from high school;  (12)  Children from traditional homes score higher on standardized tests then those from homes with divorced parents.   So while you can't do anything about your situation should a spouse pass on, if you should be considering divorce, you better take time and realize that there will be a serious  impact upon your children.  They are the real victims of divorce.  And if you are now a single parent, your children can still beat the odds.  But it will take a major effort on your part and deep abiding trust in the Lord.  But, with His help you can make it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Photo License

It came in the mail - the dreaded photo card to have my photo license renewed.  You know the drill - go wait in line to have a nasty picture taken of you that you must carry in your wallet for the next four years.  Maybe the process of getting this done is why the Democrats are against requiring a photo ID to vote.  Maybe they would rather wait in line at election than wait in line for a photo license.  I was hoping that if I timed it right I could get it done in about 15 minutes - wrong!  When I arrived at the center I was surprised to see it packed.  It was an interesting picture of present Americana.  There were a few Caucasians, as well as many Spanish, some Afro-Americans, Vietnamese, Indians and who knows what else.  Nobody was working at the registration desk.  The clerk was probably out to lunch - I mean literally out to lunch.  I was fourth in line.  But I was probably smarter than the rest - I could read.  And there was a sign, actually in English, that told us to push one of two buttons depending upon why we were there.  So I quietly slipped ahead, pushed one of the buttons and received a number slip - just like at the meat counter.  I was number A008 and it said my waiting time would be 0 minutes!  Really?  That turned out to not mean anything.  So I found an empty seat near the front where I could watch the action.  I enjoy sitting and watching people.  Then I suddenly realized that they were processing number A082.  Now I was worried.  Did that mean I was 927 people from being served.  I decided to wait a little longer.  Maybe after A099 it would go back to A000 and start over.  At least I hoped so.  I calculated that it was taking about 6 or 7 minutes to process each number, so I know a 15 minute wait was just a pipe dream.  After a long wait I found that I was right - the numbers did jump back to A000.  Maybe that arithmetic is how the government really counts and operates, that is if they have any plan at all.  Then my hopes increased.  Several folks did not respond when their number was called and it quickly moved to A007.  But alas, older customer A007 wasn't satisfied with her signature and they had to do that over three times.  Then she didn't like her photograph and they did that over three times.  But finally it was my turn.  I didn't like my signature either but I kept it.  I didn't like my photo either, but I kept it.  Who really cares?  Then I was told to go sit on a chair and wait for my new license to be printed.  Well that provided two more adventures.  First, the printing machine broke down and had to be fixed.  Second, while I sat there a burly Spanish man had his three year old daughter sit next to me.  She decided to rub my arm with her hand and then she rubbed my leg with her shoe.  I was getting concerned.  Would I be accused of something like child molestation?  If the father saw me would he hit me or even worse ....  In this day and age who knows!  But thank the Lord they got the machine fixed and my license was completed.  And I got out of there as quickly as I could.  And that was my trip.  Just think, in four years I can do it again.  That's the good old American way!  And just remember  it will probably be your turn next.