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My childhood days were back in the days when a technological phenomenon forever made its mark on human history. Both the engineering sector and the entertainment world were ecstatic about the invention and development of this game-changing industry. It was dubbed television.
Now, the world of media could beam actual images into the homes around the world. People could have their imaginations stirred, stimulated and manipulated. Human creativity was unleashed on the fertile imaginations of the public.
Brilliant minds began to create stories to accomplish those purposes. They invented characters and scenarios in the world of fiction that terrified the minds of any who saw their show. Even in black and white, one of those movies left a lasting impression on my mind.
The title to this story was simply The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock was the creator. His stories etched their presence in my mind and in the memories of so many.
In a small town a weird phenomenon occurred. For some bizarre reason the birds began to attack humans. They were countless in number and relentless in their pursuit.
Terrified people ran for cover. They took shelter in cars, shops and telephone booths. If you do not know what the last place is, ask your grandparents.
Birds smashed windows, sacrificed their lives to break into havens of safety sought by people in order to give their counterparts access to wreak havoc on the town’s population. In one horrific scene the birds attacked one of their victims and gouged out his eyes. That was shocking TV back in its day.
No it is not just that they are green and growing. Rather, they serve as a perch for hundreds of birds. These large black birds with long tails have gathered.
These feathered animals are not quiet. Instead, they fill the evening air with a cacophony of their calling, chirping and cawing. It is loud, nearly deafening and reminiscent of The Birds.
A small chill races down my spine. It is a momentary remembering of the scenes still so vivid in a child’s mind now toying with the reality of a real moment. Time to shake it off and find safety in a building with few glass windows and solid brick walls.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography
Now, I was at our youngest son’s White Coat ceremony. It is the portal that these young health professionals pass through with great delight. Now, they have finished a grueling period of rigorous classroom work.
In a matter of weeks they will begin their “rotations”. They will be assigned to real hospitals with real illnesses and injuries. There they will work alongside physicians and put their knowledge into
This is a major milestone for these students. It is worth the pause to celebrate. A ceremony when they put on their white coats is the symbol of that achievement.
Knowing that our son’s passage across the stage would happen quickly, I remembered the athletic action setting. Once it was clicked into place, I just snapped away. Each motion moment was captured on digital slides.
Jeremy put in one arm. People were applauding. I know that our family was cheering.
Then, the final arm slipped into place. He adjusted his shoulders like a man donning a new suit. It looked good. It seemed to fit him just right.
Then, there was a hug. That’s not usual. At least in my experience I did not commonly see such affection in a commencement ceremony.
Words were whispered that we in the crowd were not privy to. It was one professional speaking encouragement into the next generation of professionals. If that is what bedside manner is all about then these people did something very good in the educational process.
One more faculty member was on stage. She was not about to be short-changed from a congratulatory hug and special words whispered to her student. It was all happening so quickly.
Every family member and friend who came to the ceremony waited for their special member to walk the stage and be gowned in their professional white coat. We all got into the mood and cheered every graduate whose name was called. The athletic setting worked just right.
photo credit: brucefong photography
I seek out men who are going to “show up” when they are supposed to. They are kind of guys who are dependable. Their word is their bond.
Responsibility, priorities and obligations are a part of their identity. Convenience isn’t their motto. Loyalty and faithfulness are.
Men who take seriously the role of just “showing up” are the kind of men that are on my list. Title or office are not the same as showing up. Rather, influence and example are.
Service is another feature that stands in the lives of men that I seek out. These men give to others. Often you find men who are looking for a perk for themselves. Overly concerned about losing something or feeling obligated or fearful of getting stuck in something tha they don’t want, those are not the guys on my radar.
Instead, these men are spending time with others in need. They are investing in helping those who need help. There is an intuition about these men that gather others around them and render aid.
These guys are the down and dirty. They don’t count hours, worrying about expenses or regret giving up something of themselves. People look up to them from every strata of life.
Men like this are servants. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that they have the absence of ability. They are amazingly talented, gifted and successful men. Simply put, they lead not to gain anything for themselves; rather they give generously of themselves driven by a gift that they have already received to give back to others.
Men on my search list are sincere. They want to grow no matter where they are in life. Humility keeps them hungry to learn, develop and become more effective.
Men like this are teachable. They have an appetite to learn from someone else. There are no better students in the world than men like this.
I left a group of seven like this back in San Francisco. They are fabulous guys. Spending time with them was a personal highlight of my time in the Bay Area.
Now, I’m in Texas. I’m hunting for more men like those I left behind in Cali. They’re here, I just have to find them.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography
Some travelers get anxious about climbing aboard an airplane. The thought of gravity, thirty-thousand foot elevations and hurtling 560 mph in the sky is unnerving for some in our population.
I’m a little different. In fact after all of the preliminaries to get me security-approved, I like getting on a plane and relaxing in my seat. After the stress of the boarding process, I’m happy to look forward to the end of the flight.
My least favorite part of the journey: the dreaded security line. The line was long as it snaked back and forth around the switchbacks of temporary barriers. Bumping into people is usually not normal but this guy behind me kept jostling me.
Finally, I turned to look at him and he apologized. His next sentence followed without a pause, “Why don’t you go to that line?” Two desks of security checkers were in front of us.
“That’s for First Class,” I pointed out to him.
Right away that clumsy oaf push around me and hurried over to the line for classless dudes who have a very small concept of personal space. My cat-like reflexes saved me from a very embarrassing fall into the people waiting behind me. It was going to be a long flight home.
When it was my turn for security, I was directed into the naked tube. That’s the latest security screening unit that sees “everything”. I assumed the posture of international surrender long before the agent finished instructing me how to do it. Pictures on the window make quick work of the needed instructions.
Stepping out of the tube, I was halted by one of the agents on the other side. He informed me that I needed to be scanned again. Naturally, I turned around to reenter the tube but was rebuffed for doing so.
I don’t think they want passengers to see the highlighted picture on the tube that shows suspicious areas on my private person. Soon he ordered me back into the tube. It’s going to be a long flight home.
Once again my physique was teleported to whoever wanted to get another eyeful. That same security agent informed me that now he had to pat me down. The same position of universal surrender now was my posture for the third time. I don’t like being patted down. It’s going to be a long flight home.
At first I thought that the word delicate described the exotic fauna. But, they are actually tough. They grow in inhospitable climates.
These remarkable combinations leave me wondering how anyone could see them and believe that they are a product of chance. Instead, it makes sense to me that there is a design here. It is not just a design but a masterful creative act that came up with the variety and intricacies that I see.
Color combinations are stunning. Shapes are continguous yet symetrical too. As marvelous as these flowers are there is a reptition that is reproduced with each bloom.
Then, there is something unique about each variety. Orchids capture many of those exotic flowers. Sometimes there was only a single plant. At other times there were was a mass section of the garden covered with the same plants.
God knew what He was doing when He designed these marvels of the garden. No one could have come up with the endless variety from a human mind. The quickness of our visit slowed down considerably.
A very unique plant captured my attention. It was a cactus growing out of a pot. Gardeners had placed this specimen on a large roack.
Who thought of this figured it correctly. The single bloom from this prickly plant was larger than the cactus. It looked like a star fish that had just been reshaped to enter into space as an alien traveler. This was truly a remarkable sight.
Whether the unique flowers were large or small, odd or stunning they each captured my attention for a few moments. Very smart people know the names of these living plants. Very very smart people know the scientific names of them. I just liked what I saw and enjoyed the show.
One of my personal weaknesses is that I don’t have an aesthetic eye for color combinations and shades, nuances or subtleties associated with anything artistic. God does not have that problem. While I could never do it let alone understand it, I could deeply appreciate such a skillful God who has not only done these amazing things but He made them alive destined for repeat performances every Spring.
photo credit: brucefong photography
It’s time to trade in my faithful Bubba for a new and improved version. That’s tough for a life that is wired to be loyal. Brand loyalty, friendship loyalty and of course family loyalty are all free-flowing throughout my blood system.
He still had great shine on his coat. The premium wheels added to his unique rugged appeal. Even the carpet had done well to show very little wear over the years of transporting so many friends, family and business connections.
I did my homework. Like every guy who loves his truck I had to know the realistic numbers. What would this world which only puts its stock in profit, grapples with countless vehicles that flood the used car market estimate the value of my trusty steed?
I went on-line to Kelly Blue Book. It is the standard that everyone uses to find an objective pricing for a used vehicle. Every question I answered with objective bias.
The moment of truth arrived. With one more key stroke I would see a value flash on my screen. Already I could feel my body tense and my mind fill with the preparation for a shockingly undervalued estimate of my priceless truck.
Yes, I was not to be disappointed. It was unbelievably low. But, snarling at the computer for its assessment never accomplished much in the past, so I didn’t say much but only frowned at my portal into cyberspace.
That was actually weeks ago. In the mean time I let the stunning annoying insult simmer. Slowly, I came to grips with the reality of the situation and swallowed hard to accept the disappointing news.
However, armed with the facts and the affirmation of the objective standard price in my mind I entered the world of shopping-for-a-new vehicle. When the pro smiles and asked me for the keys to my rig I proudly handed them over for their inspection. I was sure that they would love my truck, compliment me on its great condition and offer me a great trade-in price.
The earlier shock in front of my computer doesn’t compare to the stunning news delivered to me in person. These guys liked what they saw. Of course they could see detailed upkeep had been showered on my 4×4 but after they told me how much they would give me in trade . . . I’m still driving my faithful ride today, at least for a little while longer.
photo credit: google image
Ground squirrels were everywhere. They scattered at the sound of our mighty 4×4 Bubba rolling through the fields of their colony. It was an amazing sight to see tuffs of grass or a pile of dirt clods come alive and scamper off to a burrow in the soil.
We toured the gentle terrain from the campsite to the rolling hills to the North. Everything to the West easy enough to negotiate. But, the 9,000 acre ranch was calling us to explore it all.
At the base of the hill, I paused, “Hmm…looks kinda steep.”
“It sure does,” my bride peered up the hill.
I tested the angle with one short burst in 4×4 high. That’s when I felt that discretion was the better part of valor. Backing off the ascent we were content to further explore the gradual inclines in to the North.
That night I rehearsed in my mind our retreat. My contact told me it was not only doable but he recommended it, “The Razorback is dangerous but you can negotiate it without any problem in your truck.”
When we reached the top of the first hill, I breathed a sigh of relief. We celebrated our accomplishment. Then, we drove on up the road.
To our surprise several more hills challenged our progress. Those subsequent hills were steeper than the first. The drop off on either side of the two-track were sheer cliffs down into the valley below.
NOT looking down seemed like a good strategy that I followed. One peak along the way was so steep that I couldn’t see over the hood. All that was ahead of me was blue sky. I got out and looked around the truck to see where the trail was. Relieved, we were on top of the mountain, now thousands of feet up with a spectacular view, the reward for four wheelin’ fun!
photo credit: brucefong photography
I had done my research. Upper classmen had assured me that this would be one of my favorite classes. But, their universal enthusiasm made me suspicious. Was this a underclassman hazing? No class could be that outstanding, could it?
We didn’t have to wait for Prof to come into class. He was already there watching as we came in and found a seat. I don’t know about others but I felt his eyes watching us.
No, it wasn’t scrutiny. Rather, it was something good. I’ve been watched in the past and it was always a bit creepy, but this time there was something good about it.
When the clock struck the top of the hour, “Wham!” he began class at a dizzying pace. It wasn’t fast and uncontrolled but extremely deliberate, planned, purposeful and amazingly captivating.
The class time buzzer sounded. Our first class was over and I hardly knew that time had raced by so quickly. I was hungry for more.
After a day of classes I was looking forward to my assignments. At least the one class that I had with Prof was on the front burner of my mind. I dove into my work with enthusiasm.
I looked forward to this class every week. Steadily I learned a method to study the Bible on my own. It wasn’t dependent on commentaries, imagination or someone else’s work.
Following the principles of Observation, Interpretation and Application the insights of the Bible began to open up. Discovery was exhilarating. This experience was more than just the elation of emotions, it was investment of time and effort that was producing lifelong jewels of truth that would mark my life and service to the lives of others.
After decades of ministry, I am thoroughly convinced that what I learned in that class from Prof marked my life for a lifetime. The habit of independent Bible study is my daily routine as I prepare to deliver God’s Word to His people. For lives that are hungry for spiritual truth this preparation of a feast emerges from this habit of discovery.
What is amazing is that this way of skillful living is not exclusive to the professionals behind the pulpit. Instead, it is a practice that can be learned by anyone. Try it; I highly recommend this way of life.
photo credit: google image
This was a Christmas gift from my brother. He has one. After stopping by our place on numerous occasions, he realized that I could use one too.
It’s been six months since he dropped it off. Only twice has he asked if I have used it yet. Once I stopped by his place and saw his. I liked what I saw.
This is a motorcycle dolly. It is a heavy-duty ramp on casters. When a motorcycle is loaded on the ramp and locked into place, anyone can push it around a small garage.
It makes so much sense. Right now I have to do a 20 point turn to do a 180 with my bike. This unit will allow me to spin the bike around.
Furthermore, I can push the bike around into tight spaces. Our garage is smallish. We have storage challenges and the garage is the overflow.
This dolly is a great idea and a makes very good sense for compact living. I have seen it in use and I was even more convinced that it is a useful unit. It even looks good.
The challenge is implementation. No, it’s not a matter of putting something into use. I’m ready for that and have been for months.
A bigger problem exists. First, our garage was buried under a lot of stuff that needed to be given away to the Salvation Army. It took months to get a truck here to take our extra furniture.
Once that stuff was gone, I could finally get to the box that packaged the dolly. It was heavy. The dolly is made out of steel and supports a heavy motorcycle, so it has to be strong.
I unpacked the carton. Now, I was ready to face what I have ignored for so long. The challenge of implementation was staring at me: assembly required.
At least those who packaged this unit did not suggest that “some” assembly was required. No one who sells this kind of product ever puts on the carton “MAJOR” assembly required. The package of bolts, washers and nuts was loaded a massive number of parts that needed assembly. It’s almost done!
photo credit: google image
At 9PM Yvonne announced, “Dancing with the Stars is on right now.” Quickly she and I cleared the dinner table and loaded the dishwasher. We stored our leftovers and surprisingly relaxed in the Living Room just in time to see the beginning of the show.
This was a results show. We tried to be objective but it was too late. Both of us picked the couple that would be leaving with an uncanny accuracy for the past several rounds.
This was a special show. It would identify the final three couples that would dance for the finals. One of these three couples would win the coveted mirror ball trophy.
My favorite pro dancer was in the top four. I hoped that she and her partner would make it through to the finals. She’s been there before.
Her name is Cheryl Burke. I don’t remember her partners over the years. But, she seems to have an amazing ability to teach her partner how to dance.
Her teaching is more than just moving to music. It’s her love of dance that is also clearly translated. You can’t be a champion just by learning the steps to make.
Dancing has soul, grace and passion. Cheryl can do it all. She hits the floor and amazes with how she moves, how she interprets the music and the radiance of enjoying the art of dance.
She won the second contest of Dancing with the Stars. Then, she made history by being the first to win two championships on this reality show.
No she hasn’t won the most championships. But, her inspiration to her partners has amassed 2nd, 3rd, two 4th’s, a 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and 13th. That is a consistency that is amazing.
During the show they often show tape of the couples rehearsing during the previous week. Carefully, Cheryl teaches her partner how to dance. She is precise, enthusiasm and patience.
In the very early stages you can sense the amateur’s anxiety, self-consciousness and awkwardness. Cheryl never dumps on them but leads them, encourages them and show them how they can not just succeed but enjoy their entry into the world of dance.
Perhaps the best commentary on Cheryl’s success occurred during the current show. Her partner zoomed to new heights in his dance. After a strong approval by the judges, he exclaimed, “I love to dance!” She responded perfectly, “I love to dance too!” Go Cheryl!
photo credit: google image