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.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Eating Tips

     David Jeremiah's monthly publication "Turning Points" recently had an article on Healthy Eating Tips.  With all of the holiday parties I thought it might be good to share his advice with you so that you have a healthy holiday season.
1. About those carrot sticks ... Avoid them.  In fact, if you see carrots on the buffet table, leave immediately.
2. If something comes with gravy, use it.  That's the whole point of gravy.  Gravy does not stand alone.  Pour it on.
3. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they are made with skim milk or whole milk,  If it's skim, pass.  Why bother?
4. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating.  The whole point of going to a holiday party is to eat other people's food for free.
5. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year.  This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a ten-pound plate of food.
6. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them - and don't budge.  Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention.
7. What about pies?  How do you choose between delicious apple, delectable pumpkin, or delightful pecan?  Why don't you have a slice of each?  It is the only time that it is acceptable to have more than one dessert.
8. Did someone mention fruitcake?  Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all costs.  I mean, have some standards!
9. And one final tip:  If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.  Reread tips.  Start over ... because "cookieless" January is just around the corner.
Have a great holiday season!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

Now here is the true story about this Christmas poem/song.

December 14, 2013
Dearest Dave,
I went to the door today, and the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree. This was a delightful gift! I couldn't have been more surprised or pleased darling!
With truly the deepest love, Agnes

December 15, 2013
Dearest Dave,
Today the postman brought me yet another of your sweet gifts. The two turtle doves that arrived today are adorable, and I'm delighted by your thoughtful and generous ways.
With all of my love, Your Agnes

December 16, 2013
Dearest Dave,
You've truly been too kind! I must protest; I don't deserve such generosity. The thought of getting three French hens amazes me. Yet, I am not surprised--what more should I expect from such a nice person.
Love, Agnes

December 17, 2013
Dear Dave,
Four calling birds arrived in the mail today. They are truly nice but don't you think that enough is enough? You are being too romantic.
Affectionately, Agnes

December 18, 2013
Dearest darling Dave,
It was a surprise to get five golden rings! I now have one for every finger. You truly are impossible darling, yet oh how I love it! Quite frankly, all of those squarking birds from the previous days were starting to get on my nerves. Yet, you managed to come through with a beautiful valuable gift!
All my love, Agnes

December 19, 2013
Dear Dave,
When I opened my door, there were actually six geese a-laying on my front steps. So you're back to the birds again, huh? Those geese are dear, but where will I keep them? The neighbors are complaining, and I am unable to sleep with all the racket. Please stop dear.
Cordially, Agnes

December 20, 2013
What is with you and those stupid birds!? Seven swans a-swimming!! What kind of sick joke is this!!?? There are bird droppings everywhere! They never shut up, and I don't get any sleep!!! I'm a nervous wreck! It's not funny you weirdo, so stop with the birds.
Sincerely, Agnes

December 21, 2013
O.K. wise guy,
The birds were bad enough. Now what do you expect me to do with eight maids a-milking? If that's not bad enough, they had to bring their cows!! The front lawn was completely ruined by them, and I can't move in my own house! Just lay off me or you'll be sorry!

December 22, 2013
Hey loser,
What are you? You must be some kind of sadist!! Now there are nine pipers playing, and they certainly do play! They haven't stopped chasing those maids since they got here! The cows are getting upset, and they're stepping all over those screeching birds. The neighbors are getting up a petition to evict me, and I'm going out of my mind!
You'll get yours! Agnes

December 23, 2013
You rotten scum!!!
There are now ten ladies dancing! There is only one problem with that! They're dancing twenty-four hours a day all around me with the pipers upsetting the cows and the maids. The cows can't sleep, and they are going to the bathroom everywhere! The building commissioner has subpoenaed me to give cause as to why the house shouldn't be condemned! I can't even think of a reason! You creep! I'm sicking the police on you!
One who means it!

December 24, 2013
Listen you evil, sadistic, maniac!
What's with the eleven lords-a-leaping?!? They are leaping across the rooms breaking everything and even injuring some of the maids! The place smells, is an absolute mad house, and is about to be condemned! At least the birds are quiet; they were trampled to death by the cows. I hope you are satisfied--you rotten vicious worthless piece of garbage!
Your sworn enemy,

December 25, 2013
The Law Offices of
Badger, Rees, and Yorker
20 Knave Street
Chicago, Illinois
Dear sir,
This is to acknowledge your latest gift of twelve fiddlers-fiddling which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, one Agnes Mcholstein. The destruction of course was total. If you attempt to reach Ms. Mcholstein at Happy Daze Sanatarium, the attendants have instructions to shoot you on site.  Please direct all correspondence to this office in the future. With this letter, please find attached a warrant for your arrest.
Badger, Rees, and Yorker

This document was written by Agnes Mcholstein.

P.S. - Poor Dave.  According to the latest estimates it must have cost him $14,561 for these gifts.  What a bill for a busted romance.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Technology Fun!

If I were 50 years younger I think I would train for and seek a career in something involving technology.  The new technology intrigues me, but I am just a rookie and know so little about it.  Don't be misled with the facts that I have a website and two blogs or that I established the first high school computer lab in Lancaster County or that I introduced scientific and graphing calculators to math classrooms or that I was once named a National Computer Educator of the year.  I really am just an amateur feeling his way along through this exploding field.  One of the things I miss most about teaching is the fact that our district was one of the leaders in technology and regularly held great inservice programs.  Then I felt almost up to date with what was happening, but now that seems like another lifetime.
          I have recently been bothered by my lack of knowledge in several situations.  I received an advertisement from Mackiev Software about the release of Print Shop 3 for Mac.  It had many new and improved features over the version I have been using.  And they offered a special introductory deal, for two days, of $29.99 for the package or $49.99 for the software for three computers.  So to be honest, I ordered the three pack so we could use it on two of our computers.  I paid the bill and then downloaded the software.  But when I went to use it I realized that I needed a new operating system.  It wouldn't work with my system and I couldn't upgrade because then my website software wouldn't then work.  So I sent four e-mails (no phone number or address was available) to the software company asking for a refund.   They failed to answer any of the four.  I went to my credit card company to stop payment.  They wouldn't do it because the bill had to be at least $50.  Mine was $49.99!  So I lost $49.99.  Lesson learned, hopefully.
Now I have had some experience with changing operating systems.  In fact we have four computers because of that.  The two oldest use an early operating system because the newer systems won't handle the church software that I am using.  The two newer ones can handle the website program that I use.  To move to a newer versions would cost me over $600 to replace that software.  There must be an easier way.
I also have been having problems with one of my blogs.  The first minor problem was that it always opened at the middle of the blog, not the beginning.  I had no idea how to solve that, so I put up with it.  Then I began to get messages that my blog - actually it was that of another blogger - had been discontinued.  Nobody could help me eliminate this misleading message.  But people could still read my blog and I could still get in and make changes and additions.  So I put up with it.  Then it got worse.  Suddenly when I tried to get into my blog or even leave it I was sent to some buddyhost proxy page and I could no longer get into my blog.  At least some readers were having the same problem and my readership began to drop.

First I thought that I must have picked up a virus so I went to the Apple store at Park City.  This is a free service that is one of the major reasons I keep using Apple products.  I talked to a man who could speak English.  He assured me that Macs can't get viruses - another reason I am an Apple man.  He tested my entire system and removed some files that were making it run slower.  While he couldn't fix my problem he did recommend that I contact Google about it.  I tried doing that but they never responded.  Thank you Google!
I decided to ask my youngest son about it.  The younger you are the more you understand technology.  He had no idea but suggested that I search the internet to see if others had a similar problem.  I did and I reached a site that had only seven comments, most of which were from people having the very same frustration as I was.  One person did say that they had removed some of his plug-ins and the problem was resolved.  I had no idea what a plug-in was, let alone how to get rid of them.  But I did access my blog and removed some of the automatic features that I had added, including a calendar.  And guess what?  The problem was resolved.  Thank you Lord!
Oh yes, I also have had problems with my mail software.  When I contact AOL about it, it eventually gets fixed.  But it requires me to try and communicate with folks who speak English as a third or fourth language.  What fun that is!  And I don't want to change companies because we have used our e-mail address for years and so much is tied into that address.
But when technology is working well, it can be so much fun and such a time saver. If only I had somebody to patiently teach me more about the technology.  But while my spirit might be willing, I'm not sure if my old traditional mind could absorb and retain it.  It helps when you are only about 16.
        P.S. - After getting my credit card company to agree and then placing a hold on my payment, the software company then spent about a week rewriting their software so that it would work with my operating system.  So, once again, I've learned that it does pay to complain - even if you aren't a "techie"!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Falling Snow

     One of the nice things about being retired is that you don't have to worry about driving when it snows, unless you have doctor appointments.  Now, as far as I'm concerned, we've already had enough snow for this season.  But, unfortunately, I imagine we will get much more. Is this the result of global warming?  I have enjoyed sitting on our enclosed porch, with the fire burning, watching the snow fall. And the resulting scenes have been spectacular.  Now if there was only a way to keep the snow on the grass for a few months, but not on the roads and sidewalks.
         Now when I was working, quite often I didn't have to go to work when it snowed because we had snow days.  But generally I didn't really appreciate them because we would have to make them all up.  There was nothing like them actually being a free day.  I would spend much of that day shoveling snow or using my snow blower and I would realize that snow day was now really my long weekend, or my Easter vacation, or my summer vacation.  And I would have rather had those days to enjoy when the weather was nice.  Now I did like late starts or early dismissals because those days did not need to be made up.
           There are a few snowstorms in my lifetime that I still recall.  Back in 1957 we had a 20 inch surprise storm late in March.  A friend and I were with our music teacher attending a District Chorus concert in Harrisburg.  When the concert was over we found the snow had started and the drive back to Lititz was memorable.  Several times we had to get out to push other cars, as well as to push the one we were riding in. They didn't have the large snowplows then. Somehow the Lord got us safely home, even though many places you could no longer even see where the road was.  The storm was so bad that they couldn't even get food supplies into Lititz for several days.  I took pictures of snow drifts that reached almost to the top of the telephone poles on Lititz Pike.
          Eighteen years ago we had a series of major snow storms.  The snow along our driveway was piled up so high that I could barely see over it.  It was especially memorable because my daughter-in-law was pregnant and we were concerned about how she would get to the hospital.  But once again, the Lord took care of that and she was able to get there safely.  We had the new baby's brother staying with us and we decided to try to get to the hospital so he could see his new sister.  The ride was very difficult and when we arrived the nurses were all surprised that we were there because Lancaster had been closed to all traffic because conditions were so bad.  I guess we broke the law and didn't know it.  So we made a quick visit and made our way home.  I always thought that because of that snow they should have named her "Storm".
        Another storm, sometime in the 60's, began on Christmas Eve.  I had been in the hospital and they released me that night for Christmas.  We had planned to go to Sunbury for Christmas but I wasn't able to drive.  So Dianne drove with the kids in the back seat and with me terribly sick in the front seat. It was a memorable ride. When, a few days later, it was time to return home, Dianne still had to drive for me. But my brother-in-law and Dianne's sister followed us back to Millersville just in case she encountered trouble.  When we got to our street we found that my brother and my father had dug a path up the street to our house so that we could get home.  And thanks to their help we were able to get home safely.  One thing that has changed in a half century is that the township is now much better at removing the snow and keeping the roads open - at least most of the time.
         In another storm our boys had their pictures on the front page of the Lancaster Newspapers with the tunnels they had built in the deep snow.  Then there was the time that I drove a van of cheerleaders home from a competition in an ice storm.  And I can't forget the Christmas that we were snowed in only to get a call from my father-in-law telling us that he and his new bride were having a fight.  Then there were the nights of family sledding on the hill in the field behind us. That field is now all filled with homes.  I guess snow does provide many memories, some good and some bad. 
          But now that I am much older I don't need snow memories anymore.  Despite having a snow blower, it has become much more difficult now to deal with the snow.  It's hard to admit that, but it is the result of getting much older with increasing physical limitations. Somehow it seems like our driveway has gotten bigger and our sidewalks longer.  I guess we all feel that we will never reach that point, but when we do, you just do the best that you can with a problem that you can't avoid. Of course, I guess one can always avoid it by moving to Florida and then all you have to worry about are the hurricanes.  And they really aren't as spectacular to watch as the newly fallen snow. And who wants a hot, green Christmas.  Actually, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas ... with the snow just on the grass ...  hanging on the trees ... reflecting the Christmas lights ... and a cup of hot chocolate ... sitting in front of a blazing fire ... listening to Christmas music ... watching the snow quietly fall.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Day To Remember

      52 years ago today one of the most memorable events in history occurred - the surprise attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor.  It was an event which changed not only this country, but the entire world.  I wish I had thought to ask my parents what they were doing when they first heard the stunning report of the attack.  I was probably rolling over in my crib because I was eight months and one day old at that time.  All that I remember in the years that followed were the blackouts and going downtown in Wilmington, Delaware, with my father, to watch the celebration when the peace treaty was signed.  
        When war was declared my father was hired to teach math and physics to the air force cadets at Susquehanna University.  Then, with his physics background, he was hired to work on the Manhattan Project, a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs.  That is what took us to Delaware.
        The generation that served our country during that time must have been one of the most exceptional generations in history.  Unfortunately, most of them have now passed away, and I often wonder what would happen today if we faced a similar attack.  Four of my uncles served, all in the European theater.  Three of them have now passed away.  
          My Uncle John who will be 95 in two weeks has an amazing handwritten, 20 page story of his experiences during those years.  I am astonished as I read of the sacrifices that he made, including his part in D Day, to protect our country and preserve the freedom of others.  I can't even imagine what it must have been like to endure those hardships and dangers that they went through.  Some of his experiences were much like those shared in the excellent video series, Band of Brothers.  If you haven't watched that, you should.  Twice we were with him on the anniversary of D Day and he was very distracted as he vividly remembered and shared, hour by hour, what happened on that unbelievable day. He actually quoted "The Charge of the Light Brigade" before they left for the shore. What powerful memories.
       An interesting story from the Pearl Harbor attack concerns Mitsuo Fuchida, a Japanese captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a bomber aviator in the Japanese navy. He is known for leading the first air wave attacks on Pearl Harbor.  Fuchida was responsible for the coordination of the entire aerial attack. After the war ended, Fuchida became a Christian evangelist and traveled through the United States and Europe to tell his story. I actually heard him speak at a Lancaster CBMC banquet and actually have his autograph. He settled permanently in the United States but never became a U.S. citizen.
         And while others have gone through, and are even today going through, similar dangers and wars, this particular generation stands out in my mind.  It wasn't only the men who served on the front lines, but all of the citizens who sacrificed for the war effort.  Never, in my lifetime, have we had a similar experience which required the mobilization and sacrifice of all of our citizens.  Hopefully that may never be required again because I don't think the same response could ever happen today, especially with a society which is used to lives of luxury without serious demands and sacrifices.  Thankfully, today some, especially our young men and women, still volunteer and put their lives on the line to serve and protect us.  May God keep them safe.
          So today I just want to express my thanks to all of those who gave so much so that I could live with the freedoms that I enjoy.  I just pray that the liberal left, the atheists, the media, the "politically correct", and especially our courts, don't take away those precious freedoms from us.  Together they could create a more crushing blow than a Pearl Harbor attack could ever have done.  And if you know somebody who is still alive and served in World War II, sit down with them and listen to what they endured.  Better yet, record it.  It will be a special time for you and chances to do that will not last much longer.  And please thank them for putting their lives on the line for our generations.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Very Sad News

Those of you who know me personally know that one of my pet peeves are those folks who walk by me and say "how are you doing?"  Then they keep on walking.  They don't want an answer.  They really don't care how I am doing and don't want to take the time to find out.  It  is just a greeting.  I'd much prefer that they just say "hi".  Sometimes if they pause I'll  answer something like "hanging in there", but generally they don't even wait to hear that.  Now a few of my friends answer "better than I deserve" which is probably a good answer, but even that becomes meaningless to those who ask the question.  I've often wondered what a person would do if I responded, "Just wait a moment and let me tell you how I am really doing."   Maybe that would cure them.
Today we live in a world where we pass people all the time who are living with fears and worries and nobody really seems to care.  We pass them and ignore them, or nod our heads at them, or greet them with the "how are you doing?" meaningless question.  And we probably don't want to be held up to hear what is going on in their lives.  We are too busy or are hung up on our own problems to really care about them.  When I think about this I often think of the words written by Steve Green, "Everyday they pass me by, I can see it in their eye, Empty people filled with care, Headed who knows where? On they go through private pain, Living fear to fear. Laughter hides their silent cries, Only Jesus hears. People need the Lord, people need the Lord. At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door."

I had a friend who was going through some difficult times and I hadn't seen him for awhile.  Several times I had good intentions and had planned to really ask his wife how things were going.  But I didn't, she passed by me, and I just greeted her with a "hi".  Then I received a telephone call that he had committed suicide.  I was stunned, but I guess not surprised.  When I look back I guess I saw many of the signs, but didn't really think it would come to this.  But it did and it is so sad.

Now this isn't the first time that suicide has affected friends of ours and unfortunately, in this day and age, it probably won't be the last.  Not too long ago a son of a friend of ours ended his life.  And there have been others.  Suicide has become very common in today's society.  And it has a terrible impact upon those who are left behind.  But, in a sense, while I can't condone it, I can understand why it happens.  If you don't have the Lord as your companion, it can be very hard to deal with loneliness and uselessness and hopelessness and illness.  It is hard to know what there is to live for in such circumstances.
According to experts there are numerous warning signs. •  Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.(Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)  •  Talking or writing about death or suicide.  •  Withdrawing from family and friends. •  Feeling hopeless. •  Feeling helpless. •  Feeling strong anger or rage. •  Feeling trapped -- like there is no way out of a situation. •  Experiencing dramatic mood changes. • Abusing drugs or alcohol.  •  Exhibiting a change in personality  •  Acting impulsively.  •  Losing interest in most activities.  •  Experiencing a change in sleeping habits. •  Experiencing a change in eating habits. •  Losing interest in most activities. •  Performing poorly at work or in school. •  Giving away prized possessions. •  Writing a will. •  Feeling excessive guilt or shame. •  Acting recklessly.   It should be noted that some people who die by suicide do not show any suicide warning signs.  But about 75 percent of those who die by suicide do exhibit some suicide warning signs.
So with this recent experience I guess I have been challenged to be more concerned about how people are doing and if I can't do anything to help them, I certainly can pray for them faithfully.  And, by the way, please don't greet me with "How are you doing?", unless you really want to know.