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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Last weekend...

...some friends of ours took us out on Lake Murray for a boat ride. Eric and "Dr. Mac" were gracious enough to allow us non-boaters a chance to play in the open water. In talking with Eric, I am certain that I am doing what's right for me and my family by not owning a boat, but I must admit that the idea is tempting. It's not that I don't really enjoy boating, it's just that I know little of it (never grew up doing it) and my time is so limited as it is I wonder how I could dedicate to another hobby right now. I don't know, the argument that it's great family time and memories is an appealing one. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law love it. But then again, that's their biggest hobby and what they love to do as a family. Eric and Kris are members of a boat-club, which seems to make a bit more sense for someone like me. Perhaps, however, the best solution is just to have family and friends with boats who are gracious enough to bring us along every now and then.

Pictured above from left to right are Bennet, Payton and Jenna (my 11 year old) having a perfectly wonderful time.

Monday, June 21, 2010


...revolutionized movie rental for me a few years back. Until then, I routinely rented movies and just as routinely paid late return fees. It struck me then as now that late fees played on my greatest vulnerability as I suffer from CRS syndrome. CRS stands for "Can't Remember Stuff" or something like that. In any case, late fees in my home were the normal cost of doing business.

However, just like that, Netflix comes along and saves me. To be frank, now my problem is not remembering to return the movies but rather remembering that I even have them. They show up in the mail and despite my best of intentions to watch a movie with family and friends, life gets in the way. And that's OK with Netflix. They are just fine with me hanging on to "Weekend at Bernies" for another 8 months until I get around to watching it. Just as long as I pay my monthly fee.

The other day, George introduced me to a new Netflix advantage. You can now watch movies instantly (select titles) on your Wii. It's really easy to sign up for and set up and I can watch a ton of movies and still keep Bernie safely by my side. Genius.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Popular fiction...

...has always portrayed the first few moments following death as a journey into the light. After all, who can forget Patrick Swayze in Ghost, waiting a moment too long and missing his opportunity to step into the heavenly tractor beam presumably to be God's portal. Or how about the long popular portrayal of your own guardian angel guiding you to the pearly gates? The ancient Greeks of course had Charon, the dead's boatman guide on the River Styx.

The reality is, whether it's charming to talk about or not, you have an important decision to make. Is death simply a tragic, anticlimactic ending or the beginning of the ultimate adventure in your existence? There is nothing in between.

Jesus often used wedding imagery when describing the afterlife. There's something appealing to me about the image of Jesus as the bridegroom, sweeping me away after I have fully closed my eyes on this earth. There seems to be much less of a chance of me missing the portal if it is God's Son seeking me out. In fact, read John 14: 1-3 which says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms...I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you may also be where I am."

So what happened to the allusive heavenly light I'm supposed to find? Or how about the final guidance of my lifelong enslaved guardian angel? Could it be that in those final moments as I leave this earth, just as my curiosity to look back begins to take hold, my saviour will put his hands squarely on my shoulders and say, "Well done, Alan. You sought me and I revealed myself to you. You followed me and introduced me to your friends. You raised your family in my teachings."
And as that so familiar man leads me away, his arm around my shoulders he says, "Now allow me to introduce you to your ultimate adventure and your eternal purpose."
"Will you tell me how to get there, Jesus?"
"Tell you, no. I'll take you there myself. You're gonna love this..."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I find myself...

...growing more and more depressed over the deep water oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Click here for a view of the live feed from the ocean's bottom, compliments of PBS. I suppose that my anxiety centers around two things: 1) The marine life affected by this leak and 2) the monstrous implecations for the people and industry along the Gulf coast.

Now anyone who really knows me understands that I love seafood. As far as Shrimp is concerned, I'm like Bubba Gump with a crustacean vendetta. I've eaten those little beady-eyed morsels steamed, deep-fried, boiled, broiled, grilled and raw. Jumbo, medium or popcorn. In a stew, on a bun, in grits, or just with plain with lemon and butter. But they are never better than when served Beaufort style with sausage, corn and potatoes. MMmmm.

So I suppose there is a #3 to my list above. I am saddened because there is a chance that my shrimp intake will diminish in the coming months and that really makes me a bit more than depressed. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm piping mad because this doesn't just affect schooling fish, migrating birds or some Alabama coast tourist trap- by golly this affects me and my high cholesterol shellfish diet.

Darn you, BP! I'll never forget this... that is until it's time to fill up the SUV one more time. Well, suppose I can eat frozen shrimp for a few months.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Going To The Movies...

...are some of my best memories. Not because of the movies themselves, as most are inconsequential, but rather for the excitement of the movie experience with family and friends. How could I forget my first movie experience with Mom? It was a summer movie showing of Sinbad the Sailor, with some really bad but frightening claymation. Or my first movie experience with Dad, a drive-in showing of Walking Tall. I still love Buford Pusser and that stick, but what was Dad thinking?
In moments, I'm taking Jenna to see Shrek 4. Even now I'm excited. Not for the movie, but for the experience and the hope that one day she might fondly remember a day at the movies with Dad. Minus the stick, anger and violence. But who knows, I haven't seen the movie yet.

What was your earliest movie experience?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Watership Down... Richard Adams remains one of my favorite novels from my teenage years. Although on the surface it is only a story of the adventures of rabbits, it is far more about human nature as demonstrated through various subcultures in the animal world of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and friends. The story is as compelling and interesting to me today as it was some 27 years ago. Here's an excerpt that stuck with me tonight:

(Regarding the rabbits visit to a strange land)-

"...When Marco Polo came at last to Cathay, seven hundred years ago, did he not feel- and did his heart not falter as he realized- that this great and splendid capital of an empire had had its being all the years of his life and far longer, and that he had been ignorant of it? That it was in need of nothing from him, from Venice, from Europe? That it was full of wonders beyond his understanding? That his arrival was a matter of no importance whatever? We know that he felt these things, and so has many a traveler in foreign parts who did not know what he was going to find. There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Lonely Toe...

...finally has a friend. You may recall that I blogged about my friend George's broken, lonely toe some months back. Well, over the weekend I managed to mangle the least appreciated appendage the male body. That is to say, the 4th toe, right next to the famous "pinky toe". Now, I've never had beautiful feet like my wife, but I have prided myself on straight, rather normal sized toes. Hey, celebrate the small things I always say. However, my right foot now has a toe which looks as if it is pointing out the north star to its less than interested siblings.

Here's how it happened: I took Leslie and the kids with me on a business trip to the Isle of Palms. We had a fabulous long weekend at Wild Dunes. I was able to work a convention by day and we played on the beach in the late afternoons. All had gone well, up until Monday morning the day we were to leave, when we decided to get in one last ocean swim before heading home. It was a bit rough out that morning and I came darned near losing my shorts to the sea on a couple of occasions. In fact, I'm pretty sure I scared away a family of Canadian tourists. It was during this time frame that the mother of all waves hit me from behind, sending me tail over teacups into the kids.

Fortunately, the girls made it out of the situation unscathed, but somehow my right foot jammed into the surf bending my 4th toe all the way back to the top of my foot (or so it felt). All I know is that when I came up from the white, foamy water I almost passed out from the pain. Upon brief examination I noticed that the toe was completely standing at a 90 degree angle from his 4 friends. I was sick.

It was not easy trying to make it from the water to where we had set up camp, some 30 yards away. By the time I reached Leslie I had to lay down in the sand to keep from passing out. I rested for a few minutes while Leslie and the kids packed up and then we headed for the hotel, another 200 yards away. Several times I just had to lay down in the sand to keep from fainting. (Yes I realize I sound like the ultimate pansy, but it was as seen by x-ray the next day, completely broken)

Now, here's what other people on the beach saw from their lounge chairs: A middle-aged, out of shape, grossly pale father of two emerges from the sea, screaming like a school girl (probably scared he saw a jelly fish, or something). He's obvious drunk because he staggers up the beach, collapsing several times and just lays there for a while. His pants are falling down as he finally makes his way back to where his wife is sitting on a towel reading a book. He screams something about leaving and then lays down for a short nap while his wife and kids pack up all the stuff. He eventually gets up and stumbles back to the hotel, not carrying a thing, lays back down a couple more times with his face in the sand and then eventually stumbles out of sight.

"Did you see that guy, Margaret?"

"Sure did, Stanley. Reminds me of my Uncle Roddy on a bender, and it's not even 10 AM. Darn shame, I'd say".

"Yeah, he did have a nice left foot though".