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April 24, 2014

If I had a nickle...

... for every bit of negative and sensational news that appears in the media over the course of a week, I'd be able to buy a nice little place in the Caribbean. Why is it, though, we so rarely see stories like this one?

According to the article, a Marlins fan lost his wallet at a game. The wallet contained $20 in cash and the owner's high school student ID card.

The wallet was found and the person who found it went to the school and asked the registrar to return it to its owner.

When the wallet was returned to its owner, Cristhian Reyes,he was pleased to find his twenty dollars there... along with an additional $20 and a note:
I found this at the game last night and wanted to make sure you got it back. I added $20 to it so you know the world is a great place. Do me a favor and when you get the chance, do something nice for someone else.

Check this video for another example of kindness.

Yes, Virginia, there ARE wonderful people in the world.

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April 23, 2014

Musing about an eagle nest

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a webcam that was live-streaming the activity of a bald eagle nest in Pittsburgh, PA. She told me that there were three eggs in the nest and I decided to check it out. She also mentioned that viewers were able to "chat" while watching, and the conversation was sometimes interesting to follow.

I must admit I found it somewhat addictive to watch the progress at the nest. I started watching a week or so before the first eaglet hatched, and I "lucked out" and had the opportunity to watch the first eaglet emerge from the egg.

Bald eagles mate for life and share the activities of "parenting".  It gets darn cold in Pittsburgh during the winter, and the eggs were constantly kept warm as "mom and dad" took turns setting on the eggs, turning them regularly to keep them warm, building up a "bowl" of nesting material around them to shelter them from the winter winds, covering them to keep them dry.As time drew near for the babies to hatch, the number of visitors to the site skyrocketed, and the chat room activity grew increasingly interesting for a "lurker" such as myself. Some visitors stayed up until all hours in order to watch. Many acknowledged that they'd stopped doing housework or yard work. Some called off from work because they were afraid they'd miss something.

The eaglets hatched at two-day intervals, and it's been fascinating to watch these little guys grow. Mom takes charge of the nest most of the time while dad does the majority of the hunting, but they do switch off from time to time so that mom can "stretch her wings". Dad is every bit as good at mothering the babies, keeping them warm and feeding them by tearing off small bits of meat for the young. When he's not off hunting, he hangs out in a nearby tree keeping guard over the nest. He's a ferocious defender, as has been seen when a hawk and, later, a raccoon, tried to raid the nest. As the young ones get bigger, the task of keeping them fed becomes more time-consuming, and the eagles are often seen taking on feeding duties as a couple. Leftovers remain in the nest for a day or so, and snacks are a regular event.

I mentioned earlier that the "chat" has been interesting to follow. I've found that the regulars over time have become so involved in the drama at the nest that the conversation becomes somewhat revealing. While waiting for the hatch, an occasional visitor would mention that occasionally an egg would be found to be infertile, and eventually would be shoved out of the nest. Immediately a swarm of conversation would be generated, with the hapless commenter being chided to be more optimistic, to avoid negativity, to hush up. Another burst of conversation would ensue to reassure visitors that there was still hope.

Dad usually comes with "breakfast" around 8 AM. If he's late, the watchers become increasingly concerned. By 8:10, they're worried. By 8:20, the outpouring of concern is tremendous. By 8:40, there is a sense of general alarm that some tragedy may have befallen him. There is also an increasing level of concern that, without Dad bringing home the bacon, the babies will starve or Mom will have to leave the nest to go shopping and the babies will be vulnerable to accident or attack.

Nevertheless, every now and then, mealtime is a bit to "real" for the audience. Dad caught a seagull once, and the prey was still alive upon delivery. Watching the demise of the seagull generated revulsion and even anger. Apparently Mom participated in the kill and the "cleaning", using feathers to provide some fresh nesting material. One visitor was so infuriated that she said, "I want to climb up to the nest and slap her!!" The conversation vacillated between expressions of remorse for the seagull and impassioned defense of the eagles for ensuring that their young remain well-fed.

As I've watched the nest - and the conversation - I've found myself wondering... Would the same people who've become so deeply entrenched in the lives of this family of eagles demonstrate the same level of concern for a family down the street? Would I? Would the same people who agonized over Dad's late arrival in the morning feel the same sense of distress watching the divorce of a co-worker? For that matter, would the people who became infuriated at the death of a seagull gladly sit down to a chicken dinner... as long as the chicken came wrapped in cellophane for $8.99 a pound?

I suspect you and I know the answer to these questions. My next questions are a bit more thought-provoking:

How do we regain a sense of appropriate concern for members of our own species?
How can we regenerate our concern for the people we meet on a daily basis?
What can we do to treat the "compassion fatigue" we experience?

I look forward to your response!

Meanwhile, if you're interested in checking out the streaming video, go here.

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April 21, 2014

A duck walks into a bar.

A duck walks into a pub and orders a pint of beer and a ham sandwich.The barman looks at him and says, “Hang on! You’re a duck.”

“I see your eyes are working,” replies the duck.

“And you can talk!” exclaims the barman.

“I see your ears are working, too,” says the duck. “Now if you don’t mind, can I have my beer and my sandwich please?”

“Certainly, sorry about that,” says the barman as he pulls the duck’s pint. “It’s just we don’t get many ducks in this pub. What are you doing round this way?”

“I’m working on the building site across the road,” explains the duck. “I’m a plasterer.”

The flabbergasted barman cannot believe the duck and wants to learn more, but takes the hint when the duck pulls out a newspaper from his bag and proceeds to read it.

So, the duck reads his paper, drinks his beer, eats his sandwich, bids the barman good day and leaves.

The same thing happens for two weeks.

Then one day the circus comes to town.

The ringmaster comes into the pub for a pint and the barman says to him “You’re with the circus, aren’t you? Well, I know this duck that could be just brilliant in your circus. He talks, drinks beer, eats sandwiches, reads the newspaper and everything!”

“Sounds marvelous,” says the ringmaster, handing over his business card. “Get him to give me a call.”

So the next day when the duck comes into the pub the barman says, “Hey Mr. Duck, I reckon I can line you up with a top job, paying really good money.”

“I’m always looking for the next job,” says the duck. “Where is it?”

“At the circus,” says the barman.

“The circus?” repeats the duck.

“That’s right,” replies the barman.

“The circus?” the duck asks again. “That place with the big tent?”

“Yeah,” the barman replies.

“With all the animals who live in cages, and performers who live in caravans?” says the duck.

“Of course,” the barman replies.

“And the tent has canvas sides and a big canvas roof with a hole in the middle?” persists the duck.

“That’s right!” says the barman.

The duck shakes his head in amazement and says “What on earth would they want with a plasterer??!”

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April 18, 2014

What makes Good Friday different from any other day?

Note: this post is a "rerun", but

According to a news article from earlier this week, it's difficult to find a place to eat out in Australia on Good Friday. Apparently most Australian restaurants are closed on that day. Restaurateurs found it was too expensive to open on a day which set apart, a day on which we remember the terrible death that Jesus endured for us.

I remember Good Friday as a more somber day when I was a kid (back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth). Lots more businesses were closed. Lots more churches were open. A fair number of people observed a 3-hour period of silent meditation from noon until 3 PM, the hour when it was thought that Jesus died.

Now it seems like we've lost a sense of the sacredness of this day.

I'm not advocating that restaurants and businesses close on Good Friday, nor am I recommending a 3-hour period of prayer and meditation in the midst of the workday.

But I hope all of us will take a moment today to remember a Savior who was willing to endure a painful and humiliating death on a cross for the sins that we committed... and to thank Him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

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April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

Today we remember the event recounted in John 13:1-15, where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Imagine what went through their minds – the man they’d chosen to follow took off his outer garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, knelt down, and proceeded to wash their feet. The obvious conclusion is that Jesus was demonstrating humility by showing the heart of a servant. But Jesus really didn’t need to wash everyone’s feet to demonstrate humility and service, did he?

Nevertheless, when Peter vehemently objected, Jesus overruled him, saying "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." Could there have been another message Jesus was trying to impart?
Let’s look at the story from a slightly different angle. To receive help or service from others exposes our vulnerability, our inability to navigate through life without the assistance of others. When we refuse to allow others to serve us, when we do not acknowledge our dependence on each other, we are showing a form of pride. We also deny others the opportunity to render service.

The life of a Christian is, quite rightly, a life of service. But it is important to allow others the opportunity to serve, too.

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April 16, 2014

The OTHER "Footprints" poem

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen.
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
"Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too large for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

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April 15, 2014

Go Durham Bulls!

 Just a few shots from opening day 2014....
Our manager, Charlie Montoyo, comes out to high-five the team.

The colors are presented.

A fly-over to start the game!

Getting ready for the first pitch.

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April 14, 2014


Tomorrow I will be undergoing major surgery. Although I've tried to schedule some posts in advance, I truly don't know how long it will take for me to be ready to resume regular blogging. I've been told to be relatively inactive for several weeks and will be out of work for 8 weeks altogether.

At least I've picked a nice time of year for an extended "vacation".

In the meanwhile, I plan to remember a piece of excellent advice while in the hospital: DON'T make your nurse angry. Here's a little story to illustrate the wisdom of that advice:

A big shot business man had to spend a couple of days in the hospital. He was a royal pain to the nurses because he bossed them around just like he did his employees. None of the hospital staff wanted to have anything to do with him. The head nurse was the only one who could stand up to him. She came into his room and announced, "I have to take your temperature". After complaining for several minutes, he finally settled down, crossed his arms, and opened his mouth.

"No, I'm sorry", the nurse stated, "but for this reading, I cannot use an oral thermometer." This started another round of complaining, but eventually he rolled over and bared his read end.

After feeling the nurse insert the thermometer, he heard her announce, "I have to get something. Now you stay just like that until I get back.."

She leaves the door to his room open on her way out. He curses under his breath as he hears people walking past his door laughing. After almost half an hour, the man's doctor comes into the room.

"What's going on here?" asked the doctor.

Angrily, the man answered, "What's the matter, Doc? Haven't you ever seen someone having their temperature taken?"

After a pause, the doctor confesses, "Well, yes, but never with a carnation."

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