Wednesday, January 15, 2003

It will be hard to forget some of the most heartbreaking images of the end of the 20th Century - like those tens of thousands of Kosovo refugees fleeing from the attacks of Serbian soldiers and police. Day after day, we would hear reports on the news of how many more refugees had arrived on the Albanian or Macedonian border, how many were jammed into makeshift camps, desperate for food, for water, for shelter, for a feeling of being human again. Most of the major networks had correspondents on the scene who would report from that sea of humanity and misery. In a moment of disarming honesty, one reporter said, "When you cover a tragedy like this, you have to put up a steel wall to protect yourself or you can't do your job." But then he went on to say, "But I have to confess to you, suddenly today my steel wall came down and I just lost it."

Monday, January 13, 2003

I think it was our son's first official date with a girl - actually, just a couple of hours at the mall, really. The next day he ran into some of the guys from school who only wanted to know one thing about his Friday night. "So how much did you get off her?" They weren't talking about money. They were talking about conquest. He came home pretty disgusted, frankly. He said, "Man, those guys; they're messed up!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Well, we've been wrong. Yeah, our science books tell us that there are 100 billion galaxies. We look at our Milky Way, and we see the one galaxy we're in. We're all excited because we've been able to get an unmanned spacecraft to the edge of our solar system! Wow. Our solar system is just one small part of our one galaxy - and they're telling us now that there are 100 billion more. Well, actually, not 100 billion more. We've been misled. See, the Hubble telescope has supplied new information. No, there aren't 100 billion galaxies, after all. There are 125 billion galaxies! Don't even try to comprehend it.

Friday, December 13, 2002

The last time I was at a theme park, I ended up on one of the longest lines they had. It was the line for those little "Grand Prix" racing cars. All of us, I mean all of those kids wanted to get on that little race track and pretend we, uh, they were a race car driver. It's fun, but it's fantasy. Oh yes, there's an accelerator, but your speed is pretty much limited no matter how much your floor it. Oh yes, there's a steering wheel - you can turn it - but your turning is totally limited to the track they have your car on. Sure, you can hug that wheel and stomp that accelerator, but the sorry truth is this: you don't have control of that thing!

Monday, November 18, 2002

My wife and I have always enjoyed going to a county fair together. But when we went to our most recent local county fair, we had an extra reason - a personal reason to enjoy it. There's one exhibit hall that is filled every year with various entries that have received awards; cooking entries, produce, sewing, art, photographs. Of course, they only display the ones that have been judged the best. But there was one unique display in that hall and that's the one we wanted most to see. Our daughter and son-in-law's church had a display of pictures that had been drawn by their four-year-old Sunday School kids. Each one had been asked to draw a picture of their family. And they displayed every one of those pictures, no matter how much of a Rembrandt or an un-Rembrandt they were. Our grandson is in that class. So, needless to say, we went looking for his picture in particular. And his picture had a blue ribbon on it. But, then, so did all the other pictures.

Friday, October 25, 2002

June 4, 1944 was a beautiful, starlit night. The commanders of the Allied troops were gathered with General Dwight Eisenhower at Southwick House, their English command post. The issue was when to launch the D-Day invasion that could - and ultimately did - turn the tide of World War II. Colonel Page, the chief Army meteorologist, told them, in contradiction to the weather that they could see, that gale force winds and high tides would be assaulting the Normandy beaches by morning. Should General Eisenhower believe what he saw - or the man who had the whole picture? Ike said "no go" that night - even though his decision would cost the Allied forces the invasion window that was their first choice and it would prolong the wait for 180,000 troops, stuck on their ships, ready to move.

The next day was stormy as predicted. But this time, Colonel Page predicted improved weather the next day with moderate wind and tides and lifting haze. Again, General Eisenhower had to choose between what he could see and the authority he trusted. The general paused for nearly a minute and then he said, "Let's go." The room was clear in seconds. The rest is history.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

"And now, in the center ring, high above the big top..." Or something like that. When we took our kids to the circus, that was how the ringmaster would introduce those stars of the big show, those death-defying artists on the high trapeze. They're amazing! I mean, they leap with perfect poise and grace from one trapeze to another until they end up safe on that platform across the arena. Now, I can imagine someone with lots of practice eventually getting used to hanging onto a trapeze. And maybe even then feeling relatively secure as soon as they reach that next bar. But it's that time between trapezes that would bother me - that does bother me.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Ten suitcases and two trunks. Yes, that's what our daughter took to college with her that first year. Using some of my frequent flyer free tickets, we all flew to Chicago to take her to college. And her two brothers - oh, they were just thrilled to help move their sister's whole life. But something very strange happened when we landed at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. They closed the airport. Record-breaking rain had flooded the airport approaches so no one could come or go, including flight crews or people picking up passengers. And as we joined thousands of other passengers trying to find some food, a phone, a room, we had a distinct disadvantage. Mount Luggage! It was very hard to go anywhere with all that baggage!

Monday, August 12, 2002

The bad news that I got at the airport was that my flight had been canceled, and the airline I was booked on couldn't get me to my destination in time for the meeting I was supposed to speak for. But the good news was that they found me a seat on another airline. But the bad news was that it was an airline I had barely heard of; I wasn't sure what to expect. Ah, but the good news was, it was an airline with a wonderful difference from all the others. There was no first class section, but every seat was as wide as a first class seat! And instead of the plastic plates, paper napkins and average food I'm used to in economy class, I got (we all got) china plates, cloth napkins, a real meal - I mean like they usually get in first class. That's the kind of treatment you would only get if you've paid for those expensive seats up there. But what a great concept this particular airline has - treat everyone as if they're first class!

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

The more opportunity I have had to spend time with our Native American friends, the more fascinated I have become with eagles. See, where I lived in New Jersey, the only eagles we see are the ones from Philadelphia that the New York Giants play in football. But spending time on reservations, we have seen a lot of eagles and learned a lot about them. Of course, the big show is watching an eagle soar through the sky. But sometimes you have to wait a while before he does. See, the eagle may just sit there for quite a while. He's actually waiting until he feels the wind that he needs to ride on. Eagles have this amazing instinct to sense the current and go with it. And they won't move until they sense that wind that will carry them to the clouds.

            

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