Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I was kidding, I was kidding...

We have been visiting Alabama periodically ever since 1982, when our oldest son decided to attend a university there because of its music program. Three years later, our daughter chose the same school. Some of my best friends (and relatives) live in Alabama. This past Sunday, we were visiting because my daughter and her friend Amy played "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" as a flute duet, accompanied by the church orchestra, during their church's communion service. My son-in-law was playing French horn, and Amy's husband, Scott, was playing trombone. We know other people in that orchestra also: Howard (trombone), Tracey (trombone), Vicki (French horn), Jason (trombone), Christy (clarinet), Steve (piano), and Dale (organ). At one time the orchestra had around 45 people, but even though it is a bit smaller now it still sounds great. Howard's wife, Leslie, directs the choir, which has 175 singers on an average Sunday and grows to 300 or more for Christmas and Easter presentations. Vicki of the French horn was my daughter's roommate in college; Vicki's husband, Tracey the trombonist, was my son-in-law's roommate at the same college. Pastor Kevin's sermon topic was sin (he was ag'in it), and every Christian who heard him is supposed to forgive me my Alabamistan-post trespass.

Because we were away, we missed Saturday's final football game of Elijah's regular season. His team won the division, and playoffs start next weekend. As usual, Elijah was on the field for just about the entire game, alternating between offense and defense. While playing defense, he intercepted a pass and ran 40 yards for a touchdown! And while playing offense, he scored a second time on a running play from the five-yard line!

Both Elijah and Noah are very serious about sports. They have already registered for basketball season. I think our Saturdays are going to be busy for a very long time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Birmingham Diary

Currently embedded deep behind enemy lines in a remote part of Alabamistan, your correspondent must report that thus far he has encountered no banjos of mass destruction (BMD). There is always the possibility, of course, that his unit was dropped into a BMD-free zone, but that seems highly unlikely. Nevertheless, life here appears to the untrained eye to be unfolding at a more or less normal pace. The most important word in the previous sentence is "appears." The local citizenry have been successful in concealing their undoubtedly frenzied covert activity by making everything seem ordinary.

Small differences constantly remind one that home is far away. The good people of Georgia, for example, who tease one another good-naturedly about bulldogs and yellow jackets, would be appalled at the Alabamistani populace who, divided into two factions called UA and AU, daily threaten to unleash war eagles and an ominous-sounding crimson tide (which may be a euphemism for the dreaded Red Menace of an earlier era) on one another.

Neither the red and black of our beloved University of Georgia nor the gold, black, and white of Atlanta's own Georgia Tech can be found anywhere. Instead, only the aforementioned UA crimson and a hideous combination of AU orange and blue are seen hereabouts.

One continues attempting as one can to gather intelligence, but that commodity is in rare supply here. As every schoolchild in Georgia knows, the only good thing coming out of Alabamistan is I-20. Your correspondent is eager to return to God's country from Alabamistan with a banjo on his knee. Here, the search for BMDs continues.

This report has been certified as fair and balanced by representatives of the mainstream media in Atlanta.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

Tuesday evening Patti C. called and invited us over for a light meal of chicken salad, seafood salad, and egg salad croissants, fresh grapes, and a garden salad with Vidalia onion dressing. Scrumptious! Afterward, the four of us played one of our favorite table games, Mexican Train Dominoes, and Ellie and I admired some of the treasures Patti and John found at a recent estate sale. This time they brought home several crystal and silver items, a few clocks, and some music boxes of both the working and non-working variety. My vote for the most unusual item was a music box that featured David preparing to clobber Goliath while King Saul observed from a palace in the distance, all to the tune of "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." John put on a pot of coffee and we ended the evening with Patti's to-die-for dessert: a Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Oreo Cream Pie -- the fat-free, sugar-free version, which I defy anyone to tell from the other kind. Maybe we're easy to please, but a fun time was had by all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The memory is the first thing to go...

Way back in 1961, after completing Air Force basic training in San Antonio and a technical school in Wichita Falls, I was assigned to my first permanent-duty station in Orlando, Florida. There I became friends with Stanley M., a guy in my barracks who hailed from Rome, New York, and we have stayed in touch through the years. In fact, he was a groomsman in my wedding, and he has never failed to send us birthday cards and anniversary cards, as well as small monetary gifts to the children at Christmas until they were grown. After leaving the military, I lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Boca Raton, Florida, and for thirty-two years now, here in the Atlanta area. Stan moved around, too; he lived in Manhattan, Atlanta, and Los Angeles over the years before going back to upstate New York when he retired. Several years ago I decided to stop sending a card on his birthday and call him on the telephone instead.

This has worked just fine until the last couple of years. I could always remember the date of the month but I began to have trouble remembering whether his birthday fell in October or November. Then I thought of a mnemonic aid. I remembered that when we were stationed in Orlando, Stan once bought himself a set of smoky topaz cuff links (this was back in the days when shirts with French cuffs were all the rage) and I remembered that he told me it was because topaz was his birthstone. So I looked up a list of birthstones, and there it was: October, opal. November, topaz. Since opal and October both start with "O" and Stan's birthstone was topaz, I had a way to remember that his birthday was in November, not in October.

But last year when I called, Stan said, "You're a month late; my birthday was last month." It set me to wondering whether those cuff links had been opal instead of topaz, and whether my mnemonic aid was supposed to remind me that Stan's birthday WAS in October instead of to remind me that it WASN'T. So I called him last week and said, "I'm calling to wish you a happy birthday," and he said, "You're a month early; my birthday's not until next month."

"Stan," I said, "is your birthstone opal or topaz?"

"Topaz," he said.

"That's what I thought," I said. "But you told me when I called last year that I was a month late."

"Bob," he said, "last year you called me in December."

We had a nice chat and I said I would call again next month. And I will. If I remember.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What? Saturday already?

This blog is less than a month old and already my posting has slowed considerably. Therefore, be it resolved: I shall try to blog more often. The problem is that so much occurs, even in my little world, that I don't know where to start. I become immobilized, paralysis sets in, and before you know it, several days have elapsed without my having set fingers to the keyboard. For example, I learned several things this week:

I learned that my childhood friend, Charles M., had undergone a double lung transplant in Houston, that his heart had stopped on the operating table, and that although they were able to get his heart going again, he was on life support equipment and in a medically-induced coma.

I learned that my oldest son and his wife have invited our entire family (fourteen in all, including them) to their house on the day before Thanksgiving.

I learned that my wife may need to have knee replacement surgery in the not-too-distant future if the series of Euflexxa injections she begins on Tuesday do not do the trick.

I learned that the tickets I thought I was going to have to purchase for my wife and me (at $31.00 apiece) for this year's Nutcracker Suite ballet at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta have already been paid for by my daughter-in-law as an early Christmas present to us. Two of our grandchildren, Matthew and Ansley, will be participating in the production once again.

I learned that Mary Alice H., a former colleague at Western Electric/AT&T/Lucent Technologies who took an early retirement package in 1999, is now the pastor of a Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. Way to go, Mary Alice!

I learned that in Cumming, Georgia, one town over, a Greek Festival is being held this weekend at the Greek Orthodox Church. I didn't even know there was a Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia. I must go check out the dolmathes, the spanakopita, the baklava, the kourabiades, the leg of lamb, the orzo (but not the ouzo), the kataifi, the....

I learned that the time has rolled around again for my dog's rabies vaccination, and also that he learned to get out of his mesh crate by completely destroying the screen with his toenails.

I learned that my daughter, a second-grade teacher in Alabama, has been asked to play her flute in a duet at her church, accompanied by live orchestra, and that we have been invited (by her, not her church) to spend the weekend.

I learned that I probably need to come out of retirement and find work to augment our income so that our debt can be eradicated. I'm considering trying to become certified as a medical transcriptionist because of my English skills and rapid typing ability.

Sadly, I learned that Charles M. died. My heart goes out to his wife, Cora Faith, and to his children, and to his sister, Louise.

Forty-some years ago there was a Broadway musical called Stop The World, I Want To Get Off. That's the way I felt this week. Maybe next week will be better.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The week in review, sort of

I say "sort of" because it won't be the complete week, and it won't include world headlines or the latest gaffes, foibles, and outrages from the entertainment world. I'm going to let others report on Al Gore's Nobel Peace prize, Hillary Rodham Clinton's standing in the polls, Britney and K-Fed's battles over their children. The week being reviewed here will be MY week or rather OUR week, Ellie's and mine.

On Sunday, we went to church. Bob sang in the choir. Pastor is in the middle of a series called "Transformed From Within." After church, we attended the first session of a small group six-week course on prayer led by Walter and Margaret. We all ate lunch together; Judy (of Bruce and Judy) brought lasagna and someone else brought three pies for dessert. Then we watched portions of a DVD led by Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and discussed it afterward. Then we actually prayed.

On Monday, we recuperated from Sunday.

On Tuesday, Ellie saw her orthopedic surgeon for the one-year follow-up of his operation on her left shoulder's rotary cuff. No problem there. But her knees need attending to (he said she is pretty much walking "bone on bone"), so he is going to start off with a series of Euflexxa shots. If they don't work, possible knee surgery is on the horizon. Two or three years ago, at another doctor's office, Ellie received a series of Synvisc shots in her knee. Synvisc is made from the combs of roosters, and the animal protein in the medicine caused Ellie to have rapid heartbeat. Since Euflexxa is synthetic and contains no animal proteins, we are hoping it will work.

On Wednesday, we attended the sixth session of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a thirteen-week course. It also contains no animal proteins, and we are hoping it too will work. So far we have learned some important lessons about budgeting, debt reduction, investing, and stopping the use of plastic.

On Thursday, we had an evening (okay, late afternoon) meal with a group of senior adults from our church who have met for several years. We usually eat at Folks (formerly Po' Folks) or Family Tradition Restaurant. Some of us are just barely seniors, and some have been seniors for quite a while. Rosemary, Laraine, and Kate are all in their eighties. Hugh and Jean, Carolyn, Esther, Sharon (and sometimes Wayne), Ellie and I are scattered across our sixties and seventies. Esther's son, Patrick, who always comes with her, was hit by a car while riding his bike when he was twelve and lay in a coma for six months. He survived, but with brain damage. Patrick, now 41, brings joy to us all. Rosemary's daughter, Lexi, is visiting from California so she came to dinner as well. Lexi is older than Patrick but younger than the rest of us. Bob and Audrey no longer are able to come, and neither are Bob and Amalfi, because both Bobs have health issues. This is not an exclusive group, just a group of old friends who like to get together.

On Saturday, there were once again two football games to attend. Noah's team lost this week, 15-0, but Elijah's team won in overtime, 9-8. I cannot discuss either game with you because the doctor doesn't like my blood pressure to rise.

So now the cycle starts over again. I'm typing this as Ellie finishes getting ready for church.

I am reminded of a very cynical poem by Dorothy Parker:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Rumania.

Thank God for the decided lack of cynicism hereabouts. I think sermon series with titles like "Transformed From Within" have a lot to do with that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sonnets for the Space Age

Since the Space Age is now fifty years and five days old (see my October 4, 2007, blog), I am going to show you five sonnets that I wrote thirty years ago. For the purists among you, they are of the Elizabethan type, having fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, rhymed abab cdcd efef gg.

Sonnets for the Space Age, circa 1976

I.
Technology has shrunk our modern world;
No room today for the miraculous.
In space a big blue marble has been hurled,
And astronauts report the marble’s us.
Computers speed man’s progress on its way
Without regard to race or sex or creed;
The federal grant’s the order of the day
Without regard to truth or cost or need.
So equal opportunities abound
(Minorities don’t ever fall from grace);
And new solutions, almost daily found,
Are rushed to cure the ills of Adam’s race.
But seldom now does prayer storm Heaven’s gates:
Inside, the Lord sits patiently and waits.

II.
There was a time when life was slower-paced
And one could get to know his neighbor well.
Today each moment’s precious, none to waste.
Man’s much too busy hurrying toward Hell.
And like a lemming, jostled by the crowd,
He thrashes wildly with the drowning men;
He downs his drink and laughs a bit too loud,
And dashes out into the night again.
So helter-skelter, racing madly on,
He wears a mask to try to hide the lies;
His painted smile denies that time is gone,
But something doth betray him ‘round the eyes.
Exhausted, spent, he plunges past the goal
To gain the world and lose his sacred soul.

III.
Polaris is a missile and a star,
The one deployed on restless submarine,
The other keeping vigil from afar
While nebulae and comets roam between.
Much nearer Earth, the evanescent moon
Maintains her distance from our planet’s face.
Perhaps she senses conflict coming soon,
The Armageddon of the human race.
So warily she orbits overhead.
A quarter-million miles into the void,
She too keeps guard. We talk of peace instead,
Let our guard down. With warheads unemployed,
While newsmen speak of cabinets and kings,
Calamity is waiting in the wings.

IV.
Three heavens stretch above Earth’s little pond:
The daylight blue; the midnight’s starry host;
Incalculable distances beyond
These two, the one that modern men fear most.
(For if there is a Heaven they should gain,
A Hell to shun the day they pause to die,
Then all their science simply can’t explain
How in the merest twinkling of an eye…)
So, flippantly declaring it absurd,
Men laugh until their laughter turns to tears;
But Saul of Tarsus visited that third
And dared not speak of it for fourteen years.
If not till set of sun come out the stars,
Why balk at glories waiting behind Mars?

V.
No sooner had the missiles disappeared
Than waves of bombers rose up in their stead.
When all debris and rubble had been cleared,
We found almost a hundred million dead.
And some who lived were maimed, and some were charred,
And some no longer see, or hear, or walk;
And many, although outwardly unmarred,
No longer smile, no longer even talk.
For laughter is a thing of bygone days
When children played at imitation war.
Today most people stare with hollow gaze
Rememb’ring times, once real, that are no more.
When men cried, “Peace and safety,” all was lost.
We were not ready for the holocaust.



(Postscript: V has not come to pass. Thanks be to God. But in our post-9/11/2001 world, it seems all too horrifyingly possible.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What is so rare as a day in October?


Well, to be mathematically accurate, a day in February (28 days vs. October's 31). But that's not what I mean. Today the three of us--my wife, my dog, and I--attended two football games. Two of our grandsons were playing, one in a local megachurch's league and the other in the county's youth football association. The first game started at 9:30 a.m. in Canton and the second at 12 noon in Woodstock. The morning was gorgeous, sunny, with a little breeze. Temperatures were in the seventies. The leaves were just beginning to change colors. Fluffy, white clouds dotted the azure sky (in novels, the sky is always azure). We even noticed a large hawk or eagle circling high overhead, never moving its wings, gliding silently on the updrafts. It was a great day for football.

Elijah's team won 24-0; he made a spectacular interception plus several key blocks and tackles. Later, Noah's team won 13-0 with Noah doing the honors as quarterback; he threw one long, long pass that ended in a diving, fingertips reception downfield that impressed the entire crowd. My son helped move the yard markers, and my daughter-in-law took photographs from the sidelines. Jethro was the hit of the younger set, licking the faces and hands of all comers. We had to drive eight miles to the first game and ten more miles to the second, but nobody complained because the trees were a sight for sore eyes.

Back when I went to school, the English teacher made us memorize part of a poem by James Russell Lowell that began, "And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days." Well, Mr. Lowell, sir, I beg to differ. With sincere apologies, I vote for October.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

An important day in (my) history

Fifty years ago today, something happened that affected everyone in the world, and something else happened that affected very few but changed my life completely.

On Friday, October 4, 1957, the Russians launched a rocket that put an unmanned satellite named Sputnik into orbit around the earth. It circled the globe once every ninety minutes and people were both amazed and frightened. The Space Age had begun, and the Russians got there first. A great emphasis on science and mathematics began in American schools, along with a great decline in the liberal and fine arts. Who would need music and drama and painting when the barbarians were at the gates? People were abuzz. The world had changed forever.

I didn't find out about Sputnik for three days because on Friday, October 4, 1957, at about 7:30 in the morning, something else happened. My mother died. She had been in St. Joseph's hospital in Fort Worth for nearly a month, the latest hospitalization in eight long years of battling cancer. We had known for about a year that she was, as they say, terminal. She was forty-seven years old. I was sixteen. Nothing has been the same since. My world, also, had changed forever.

Some people say time heals all wounds. They are wrong.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again...

When I tried in yesterday's post to point you to two of my stories online, I must have done something wrong because all you get is "The page cannot be displayed." Undaunted, I shall now provide an alternate method for those among you who cannot imagine living another second without having read my stories. Simply (ha!) follow these steps:

1. Go to the website of A Prairie Home Companion; that is, type http://prairiehome.publicradio.org into the address line and click on Go.

2. Scroll down the APHC home page until you see "First Person: Share Your Stories From Home" on the right side of the page. Scroll past the titles of the currently offered story and poem until you see "Share your stories" and "Browse the ever-growing collection." Click the latter. (Warning: Clicking the former instead of the latter opens a window in which you can share your own story, so if you aren't prepared to do that, proceed with caution.)

3. When you browse the ever-growing collection, the currently offered story and poem are on the left side of the page and an archive list is on the right side of the page. My stories are in the archives. "Silver" (about a horse I used to have named Silver) is available by clicking September 2006. My story "Florabelle Oxley" (about a neighbor I used to have named something else altogether) is available by clicking June 2007. (Helpful hint: Depending on the size of your screen, clicking the archive reference may seem to bring up the same page you were on. If that happens, don't be confused; just scroll down until you see the entries for the month you picked listed by date.)

Maybe by the next time I want to put a link in a post, someone will have shown me how to do it correctly.

A thousand pardons. And again, happy reading.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thanks, Big Dru, whoever you are

My blog has now been up for six days and I have received a total of three comments, all after my first post. Since that inital flurry, the silence has been deafening. One comment was from a friend, one was from a relative, and one was from someone called Big Dru. Since I don't know anyone called Big Dru, I googled the name and found 2,890 Big Drus in all. So his/her secret is still safe. It was a kind comment, so I'll quote it here: "Impressive! If your musings are as good as your stories published in the "Prairie Home Companion" website, we are in for a treat."

Thank you, dear sir or madam, for the kind words. So now I am forced (forced, I tell you) to be a tooter of my own horn and make the multitudinous readers of this blog (from my mouth to God's ear) aware of two stories of mine that were accepted by the kind folks in St. Paul, perhaps by the great Garrison Keillor himself. The first is Silver and the second is Florabelle Oxley.

Happy reading.

The best dog I ever had

When I was a little boy, my first pet was a border collie puppy we named Tippy. He was black and white, full of life, and a joy to be around. We lived in the country and no one used leashes in those days. Tippy lived three years until he was hit one day by a car. My dad found him in a ditch with his nose pointed toward home. He was the best dog I ever had.

Next came Sandy, a collie-shepherd mix, who also loved to chase cars down the dirt lane and bark ferociously at their wheels. Same story; three years; a car. He was the best dog I ever had.

Friskie was a mixture of collie and shepherd as well. Mama made up a little song about him: "I have a little dog named Friskie; he is a very intelligent pup. He can stand on his hind legs if you hold the front ones up." Another three years; another car. He was the best dog I ever had.

I had no dog for a while because life was happening: college, the Air Force, a wedding. My wife's experience with dogs is similar to mine; only the breeds were different. She had two black cocker spaniels, one after another, both named Nellie, and a Dachshund-Chihuahua mix named Tangie, short for tangerine. They were the best dogs she ever had.

In our first, small apartment we acquired a Manchester, also small, that we called Koko; she was very spoiled. We also acquired a son, and when he began playing a little too rough with her, we feared for Koko's safety. An older lady in the neighborhood agreed to take her. The last time we saw Koko she was wearing a mink coat. She was the best dog we ever had.

The poodles stayed with us the longest. Gigi, a black miniature, lived 10 years. Cricket, a gray toy, lived 11 years. P.J., short for Pierre Jean-Jacques DuBois, was a white miniature who lived with us for almost 13 years; one afternoon he had a stroke before our eyes. I held him in my arms and told him what a good dog he was while the vet put him to sleep, and I cried all the way home. All three of those poodles were undoubtedly the best dogs we ever had.

We had a couple of short-timers over the years, too. Spot, a beagle, liked to dig in the flower beds and jump through the screens on the porch. Rudy, a lively Dachshund whose full name was Rudolph Valentino because we got him on Valentine's day, thought he should be the Alpha male in the house. Even though they went to new homes, in their own ways they were the best dogs we ever had.

Now we have Jethro, a cream-colored Havanese. He's three. He is great with the grandchildren, an absolute love, a bit of a clown, a good watchdog, everything you could want in a pet. You guessed it, he's the best dog we ever had.

From Tippy and Nellie to Jethro, all of them have loved us unconditionally; all of them gave us the best they had to give, and we tried to do the same in return. All of them were the best dogs we ever had. Our pastor says there won't be any dogs in Heaven, but I read in the last chapter of the book of Revelation that a tree of life is there that bears twelve kinds of fruit, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. Surely anywhere there's a tree, eventually a dog will find it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thoughts on 8x10 glossies

In the original heading of this blog, I tried to make a little joke about not knowing how to include personal photos in the blog yet. I said to remember that in the beginning was the Word, not an 8x10 glossy [Note: the heading was changed on Nov. 9, 2007.]

I was quoting from the gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 1, King James Version: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." The rest of the chapter makes it clear that John is talking about Jesus Christ. I really wasn't trying to be sacrilegious, but sometimes I just don't seem to be able to help myself.

Later, a little phrase popped into my head from the book of Hebrews, a little check in my spirit, and now I feel compelled to tell you that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about the 8x10 glossy. Here are the opening verses of the book of Hebrews, again in the KJV (because I like the KJV):

-----------------------------------------------
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
-----------------------------------------------

It's clear from the phrase "when he had by himself purged our sins" that this Son by whom God has spoken to us is Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ referred to as the Word in John's gospel. That six-word phrase in verse 3, "the express image of his person," sounds mighty like a photograph to me, so I looked at the Blue Letter Bible online, where you can see Bible passages in several English versions as well as the original languages of Hebrew and Greek (in the interest of full disclosure, I don't know very much about Hebrew and Greek).

The Greek word translated "express image," which is also translated "exact representation" in another version, turns out to be χαρακτηρ, charakter. Even I can see the word character. Jesus, then, is God's character revealed, the express image of his person, the exact representation of his nature. Jesus said as much to his friend Philip after Philip had said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and still you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:8-9, English Standard Version)

So if we combine the truth of John 1:1 with that little nugget in Hebrews 1:3, we might even have to conclude, in a non-sacrilegious way, that in the beginning was the Word, and He was indeed an 8x10 glossy.

Monday, October 1, 2007

It boggles the mind

Yesterday in his sermon our pastor quoted a statistic I found startling. He had read somewhere that a person can have as many as ten million thoughts a day, which comes, he said, to over three and a half billion--with a B --thoughts a person can have in a year. My first thought upon hearing this interesting factoid was, "How could someone possibly have figured that out?" and my second thought was, "To be even more accurate, though not precise, one could have 3,650,000,000 thoughts in a year, unless it's a leap year, when one could have 3,660,000,000 thoughts." Either way, that's a whole lot of thoughts. A plethora, my son-in-law would say.

When I got home I did the math on my handy-dandy calculator. Sixty seconds in a minute times 60 minutes in an hour times 24 hours in a day gives you 86,400 seconds every day. So if you divide 10,000,000 thoughts by 86,400 seconds, you discover--if I heard the pastor correctly--that a person can think 115.74 thoughts per second every single second of his life. My third thought was, "That leaves no time for sleeping" and my fourth thought was, "That's almost as often as certain mainstream media outlets mention O.J., Britney, Nicole, Paris, and Lindsay." In case you were wondering, that fourth thought falls into the category of very unimportant (readers of this blog's first post, smile here). I did not say those five people are very unimportant. People can never be unimportant. They have souls. Try praying for them instead of condemning them or dismissing them as unimportant.

The ".74" part of the 115.74 thoughts per second got me to thinking even more (a fifth thought, maybe?). I know something that takes less time than a thought, less time than even three-fourths of a thought: a twinkle. I don't know how many twinkles can occur in three-fourths of a thought, but in the time it takes for an eye to twinkle, Christians believe they shall be changed. It says so in the fifteenth chapter of the book of First Corinthians in the New Testament, verses 51 and 52: "Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Read the whole chapter sometime. It will boggle your mind. And don't stop praying. Anyone can change. Even Britney, Nicole, Paris, and Lindsay. Even O.J.