Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Being It

Dallas Academy High School in Texas has only 20 girls in attendance and 8 members on the girl's varsity basketball team. They haven't won a game in more than 4 years.

On January 10, 2009, Dallas Academy played Covenant School in a girl's varsity basketball game. Both are private, parochial schools. Covenant School beat Dallas Academy 100 to zero.

Micah Grimes was in his fourth season as coach of the Covenant High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team. The team had a record of 2-19 in his first season and he built the program into a state championship contender last season. Covenant often plays larger out-of-district school and had a 6-3 record for the 2008-2009 season so far.

When the score was 25-0 against Dallas Academy, Grimes called off Covenant's full-court defensive pressure and began resting starters. The score was 59-0 at halftime. In the fourth quarter, Covenant only scored 12 points, totally ceasing scoring in the last four minutes once they reached 100.

Kyle Queal, head of Covenant Academy, subsequently issued an apology to Dallas Academy and offered to forfeit the game. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened.... A victory without honor is a great loss."

On Sunday, January 25, 2009, Coach Grimes posted the following statement on a youth basketball website: "I respectfully disagree with the apology, especially that the Covenant School Girl's Basketball Team should feel embarrassed or ashamed. We played the game as it was meant to be played and would not intentionally run up the score on any opponent. My girls played with honor and integrity and showed respect to Dallas Academy."

Shortly thereafter on the same day, Coach Grimes was fired.

Later, Covenant School posted a statement on their website seeking the "forgiveness of Dallas Academy" while expressing their "regrets" for the "shameful" outcome of the game. "This clearly does not reflect a Christ-like approach to competition."

A Christ-like approach to competition????

Is it a Christ-like approach to fire someone for properly doing their job????

Is everyone in Texas insane????

One of the freshman players on the Dallas Academy team, Shelby Hyatt, was asked about the game. "Even if you're losing, you might as well keep playing. Keep trying and it's going to be okay."

Well, apparently everyone in Texas isn't insane after all.

Recently, a school district in California banned the game of tag from grade school playgrounds. They felt that someone had to be “it” and would thereby get their feelings hurt, thus creating victims with low self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a confidence and satisfaction in oneself. It comes from what we think of ourselves. Basically, you are what you think you are. The higher your self-esteem, the more confidence and satisfaction you possess.

To have high self-esteem, you must realistically accept who and what you are, and have a feeling of worth and competency. You must be capable of meeting life’s challenge and believe you’re worthy of happiness. People with high self-esteem respect themselves, thereby gaining respect from others.

People with low self-esteem often withdraw within themselves or try to prove themselves by impressing others. They lack confidence, hence avoid exposing themselves to failure, or become arrogant and egotistical to make up for their shortcomings. They’ll often blame others rather than take responsibility for their actions.

Nothing builds self-esteem like accomplishment.

Sports are an endeavor in achievement. As in life, there are winners and losers. The lesson to be learned in any competition is to win with honor and to lose with grace. You give it your best effort and live with the consequences.

Some signs you may be suffering from low self-esteem are:

1) You’re not only afraid of heights but are also afraid of widths.
2) You consider indecision to be the key to flexibility.
3) Sometimes you stop to think, then forget to start again.
4) Your imaginary friend is smarter and better looking than you.
5) You used to be indecisive, but now you’re not so sure.
6) If at first you don’t succeed, you blame it on the vast right-wing conspiracy.
7) You believe that reality is the leading cause of stress.
8) When you finally get it all together, you forget where you put it.
9) You believe that growing old is inevitable but growing up is optional.
10) You always wanted to be a procrastinator but never got around to it.
11) You don’t suffer from low self-esteem – you enjoy every minute of it.
12) You were “it” once playing tag as a child and it ruined your life.

Life is a series of trials and tribulations – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you’re “it.”

Embrace the experience and move on. In only two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.


Quote for the Day – "Sports does not build character, it reveals it." John Wooden

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and the author of four novels. He currently lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghost of Wild Bill Hickok. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Day the Music Died

On February 3, 1959, a small airplane crashed in a field near Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot and his passengers, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, all perished.

It was the day the music died.

"I can't remember if I cried...
When I read about his widowed bride...
But something touched me deep inside...
The day the music died."
(from American Pie by Don McLean)

A group of rock 'n roll bands, known as the The Winter Dance Party, was in the middle of a three-week tour covering 24 cities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. On February 2, they had performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and were scheduled to perform at the Armory in Moorhead, Minnesota, the following evening.

Buddy Holly had grown tired of riding the bus and decided to charter a flight to Moorhead. There was room for three passengers in the single engine plane -- his two band mates, Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings.

Richardson had the flu and asked Waylon Jennings for his seat on the plane. Jennings agreed to do it. When Holly found out about it, he told Jennings, "Well, I hope your bus freezes up." Jennings replied, "Well, I hope your plane crashes."

Though the remarks were made in jest, Jennings was haunted by the incident for years.

Richie Valens then asked Allsup for his seat. They flipped a coin. Valens won the seat and sealed his fate.

The plane went down a mere five miles from the airport. It struck the ground at 170 mph. The three main attractions of The Winter Dance Party were thrown from the wreckage and on their way to rock 'n roll heaven.

"And as the flames climbed high into the night...
To light the sacrificial rite...
I saw Satan laughing with delight...
The day the music died."
(from American Pie by Don McLean)

But the show must go on.

Dion & The Belmonts (the fourth headliner) and Frankie Sardo finished the entire tour, but Bobby Vee & The Shadows left the troupe after the Moorhead performance. Fabian, Frankie Avalon and Jimmy Clanton were brought in as the new headliners. Ronnie Smith took over as vocalist for The Crickets.

Buddy Holly (1936-1959), singer and songwriter, was considered to be one of the pioneers of rock 'n roll. He's ranked #13 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Ritchie Valens (1941-1959) was a Mexican-American (and part Yaqui Indian) from Los Angeles. His music career had just begun, lasting only eight months. His songs "La Bomba" and "Donna" were huge hits.

J.P. Richardson (1930-1959) was a disc jockey, known as The Big Bopper. He had a rich voice and an exuberant personality. He recorded a song called "Chantilly Lace" and soon became a one-hit wonder.

Having given up his seat to Richardson, Waylon Jennings (1937-2002) went on to become a successful country singer. He, along with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, started the "outlaw country" movement.

Buddy Holly's revolver was found by a farmer plowing the field in April of 1959. An autopsy performed on the pilot and the Coroner's examination of the four bodies failed to find a bullet wound.

On March 7, 2007, a forensic examination of the remains of the Big Bopper, requested by his son, put certain rumors of foul play to rest.

A decade after the accident, Don McLean wrote and recorded the song AMERICAN PIE – the classic music tribute to Buddy Holly.

The song is also a parable on how music changed in the 1960s with the loss of pure rock and the coming of non-danceable pop music (The Beatles, etc.) and folk music (Bob Dylan, etc.).

American Pie was a stunning achievement in songwriting; layered with meaning, innuendo, and a fascinating historical perspective of a musical era. The rocking 1950s had ended and the helter skelter of the 1960s rolled in.

Various interpretations of the lyrics of American Pie can be found on the Internet, from the obvious meanings all the way down to what Billy Joe McAllister threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

"And the three men I admire most...
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost...
They caught the last train for the coast...
The day the music died."
(from American Pie by Don McLean)

Of course, the music didn't really die in the winter of 1959 -- it died when they invented Rap and Hip-Hop.

On January 28, 2009, the 50th anniversary of the Winter Dance Party will hold a tribute concert in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens played their final concert. Sirius XM Radio host Cousin Brucie will be the emcee. Some of the entertainers will include Los Lobos, Graham Nash, Los Lonely Boys, Wanda Jackson, Tommy Allsup, Bobby Vee, Joe Ely and others.

One of my old high school classmates named Greg, along with the ghost of Waylon Jennings, will be in attendance. But I couldn't make it this year. I have an appointment to have my legs waxed.

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie.


Quote for the Day – "Yesterday is just a memory, tomorrow is never what it's supposed to be." Bob Dylan

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Year of the Earth Ox

The Chinese invented many wonderful things, such as dynamite, fortune cookies and Chinese food.

They also invented astrology. In fact, the Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history.

Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the zodiac in 2600 BC. As with other supreme rulers of his era, he had a lot of time on his hands and was eager to impress his subjects with his superior knowledge.

The first day of the Chinese New Year is celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice which can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February, depending on cyclical lunar conditions.

The Chinese lunar year is divided into 12 months of 29 or 30 days. Each 12-year cycle is then positioned within a major cycle of 60 years (five 12-month cycles) representing the characteristics of each upcoming year.

Chinese astrology is basically composed of two cycles – 12 annual animal cycles and 5 two-year element cycles. The 12 annual animals are Dog, Boar, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey and Rooster. The five element cycles, each lasting two years, are fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

In 2009, the Chinese New Year starts on January 26. The Year of the Fire Boar will end and the Year of the Earth Ox will be ushered in.

Celebrations will last for 15 days, until the full moon arrives and the Lantern Festival takes place.

The Year of the Earth Ox will consist of dependability, steadiness and stability. The sort of plodding energy that can be exasperating. But progress will be made, slowly in small increments. You must remain patient and make the most of your energy.

Oxen place great emphasis on authority and tradition. Therefore, 2009 will be an especially heavy burden on leaders who will be confronted with society's problems. If they fail, they'll be cast aside. Substance is always preferable to style in the Year of the Ox.

The Year of the Earth Ox will be a time of financial restraint. The Earth element places great emphasis on the material plane. Saving will be more important than spending. Everyone will be tightening their belts.

The Year of the Earth Ox is a fabulous year to get engaged or married, provided you're with someone you love. The Ox favors work over play. No flings.

A person born this year will be born in the Year of the Ox. Ox-born people are powerful, successful, stubborn, self-assured, quiet, and good with their hands. They also anger easily, and are often misunderstood in relationships.

Other Ox-born people were born in 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985 and 1997. Included in this group are Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Johnny Carson, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Bill Cosby, Jane Fonda, George Clooney, Princes Diana and Barack Obama

I was born during the Year of the Monkey. According to the Chinese astrology, I am certain to be very intelligent, well liked by everyone and highly successful in whatever field of endeavor I choose.

Apparently, Chinese astrology isn’t an exact science.

But two out of three isn't bad.


Quote for the Day – "To have little is to possess.... To have plenty is to be perplexed." Lao Tzu

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Free at Last

At age 26, Martin Luther King, Jr. was thrust into civil-rights leadership in Montgomery, Alabama, after Rosa Parks had made her courageous stand not to move to the back of the bus. A group of blacks, formed by the community to lead a bus boycott, chose King as a compromise candidate to lead their moral crusade.

Immediately, King was besieged with threats. The Klan gave him three days to leave town. He spent a night in jail for driving 30 mph in a 25-mph zone. A bomb exploded on his front porch. But it only made him stronger.

On April 3, 1968, King was in Memphis, Tennessee, speaking to a capacity crowd at Mason Temple about the climate of racial hatred. His closing words were, “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land.”

At 6:01 the following evening, King was struck in the face by a rifle bullet as he stood on the balcony outside of room 306 of the Lorraine Motel. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital and pronounced dead at 7:05.

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in non-violent protest of racial injustice. It cost him his life.

Racial disturbances (rioting) broke out that night in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, New York, Newark, Trenton, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Nashville, Kansas City, Oakland, Memphis and elsewhere.

On April 5, President Johnson called out 4,000 federal troops to quell the rioting in Washington. 20,000 Army and 34,000 National Guardsmen had been ordered to anti-riot duty.

And I was right in the middle of it all.

April 11, 1968 was my scheduled discharge date from the U.S. Army. I had been drafted into the service in April of 1966, during the Vietnam War, and was presently stationed at Fort McPherson in the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

However, King’s funeral was to be conducted on April 9 in Atlanta. My plans to become a civilian once again were temporarily put on hold. The entire world, including the Army, expected massive outbreaks of chaos during or shortly after the ceremony. Instead of packing to go home, I was in combat gear, practicing bayonet thrusts, wondering how much live ammo would be distributed for riot control.

Lester Maddox, an outspoken racist who once chased blacks out of his restaurant by passing out axe handles to his white patrons, was the Governor at the time. He was furious that flags at state buildings in the capitol of Atlanta, and elsewhere, were at half-mast the day of the funeral.

Surrounded by 200 armed state agents, Maddox proceeded to personally hoist the two flags in front of the Capitol building back up, but backed off when the major TV networks showed up to record the action. This added mayhem gave those of us standing nearby with bayonets an extra sense of anticipation.

The funeral service was held in Ebenezer Baptist Church. King’s casket was placed on an old farm wagon, with steel-rim, wooden-spoke wheels. 30,000 marchers were sent ahead to start the procession. An estimated 200,000 mourners took part in the procession that eventually passed directly in front of the Capitol.

Lester Maddox, along with 160 helmeted troopers and 40 enforcement officers from other state agencies, remained inside the statehouse. There were eight armed men at each entrance. Maddox had given them the following orders: “If they should go so far as to break through the locked doors, then start shooting and don’t stop until they are stacked so high above the threshold the followers would be unable to climb over them.”

The procession passed by peacefully and the funeral occurred without incident.

Two days later, I was discharged from the Army and re-entered the real world.

Coretta King, King’s widow, had spoken at the Memphis rally her husband was to attend on the evening of his death. She urged everyone to carry on, adding, “How many men must die before we can really have a free and true and peaceful society?”

Monday, January 19, is Martin Luther King Day – a solemn moment to honor the man and his message.


Quote for the Day – "If a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Senile Seven

My mother turned 90 years old last March and my father will be 90 in May. Young at heart, healthy and active, too ornery to die. Originally from Wisconsin and Minnesota, they're currently retired in Cherokee Village, Arkansas.

Cherokee Village is a retirement community in north central Arkansas that is primarily occupied by retired Yankees. It was developed back in the 1950’s when it was determined that Yankees had a propensity to drift south after they retired and there was a need to confine them to a single area so they wouldn’t contaminate the local way of life.

Within Cherokee Village is a select group of old coots who call themselves the Senile Seven.

There are two requirements to be chosen for membership into this private club.

First, you must be senile. In other words, you must exhibit a loss of mental faculty characteristic with old age. If your mind has degenerated to the point where you can’t spell “senile” or know what it means, you’re probably qualified to join the group.

The second requirement is that you must be able to count all the way to seven. That way when one of the members passes away, the others will know that one of them is missing.

Initially, they were only six of them, known as the Senile Six, but one of the members kept getting “six” confused with “sex” -- which was even more confusing for the other members who mostly forgot, or never knew, anything about sex in the first place. So they had to search Cherokee Village for another senile old coot, a fairly simple task, to bring the count up to seven.

Al, Don, Floyd, Harlan, Jack, Jim, and Wes are the current seven members. They only use first names because that’s about all they can remember from day to day about each other.

Wayne and Bill are substitutes. Apparently, they’re not quite senile enough yet to join the club but are well on the way.

The Senile Seven is not to be confused with the Magnificent Seven who were seven fictitious characters in a western movie that were quick on the draw, had good posture and most of their original teeth. The Senile Seven do everything in slow motion, slump a lot and have about a dozen good teeth between them.

Many retired Cherokee Villagers spend their free time involved in community beautification, such as clearing litter off the roadways and planting flowers in cul-de-sac islands. Apparently they don’t want to be reminded that they live in Arkansas. Others stay active by helping the elderly, caring for stray animals, doing various volunteer tasks and becoming involved in local government affairs.

The Senile Seven also does a great deal of good for the community. They play cards. In fact they play cards every day for hours and hours without ever moving, except for an occasional squirm in a chair or a quick run to the restroom.

By remaining indoors at all times, these old codgers are not out in their vehicles terrorizing other drivers trying to remember where they are going and wondering why the clutch pedal is missing. They’re very considerate when it comes to turn signals though. They’ll put the left turn signal on when they leave the driveway, knowing that somewhere down the line they’re apt to make a left and will have one less thing to worry about.

My father is a member of the Senile Seven. The rest of the family couldn’t be more proud. As I understand it, he’s the only one who always shows up at the card games with matching socks. Naturally, that’s because all 51 of his socks match.

Slightly younger than most of the others, my father didn’t get the opportunity to vote for Chester A. Arthur and wasn’t actually in the Spanish American War. He was born shortly after the end of the war to end all wars, now commonly referred to as World War One. Somewhere down the line, it was discovered that world wars were good for the economy and quite profitable for certain sectors, so they decided to start numbering them and get another one going.

In high school, my father learned many useful things, such as the dangers of the dangling participle, the inner workings of the steam engine, and that the earth wasn’t really flat after all.

My father has a bit of a problem remembering much of his past. He thinks the Great Depression started the day I was born. I can’t imagine why.

Basically, we never grow old. We mature in one sense and remain childish in another. The past and future dictates our present, and our state of mind manifests our being.

We are what we are because of what we have been and what is yet to come, and what we choose to do about it.

Age only matters if you're a bottle of wine or a block of cheese.


Quote for the Day – "The hardest years in life are those between 10 and 70." Helen Hayes

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Cycle of Democracy

Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, wrote a treatise in 1787, titled THE CYCLE OF DEMOCRACY. In it he made the following observation:

“A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.”

Tyler went on to point out that the average age of the world’s great civilizations has been approximately 200 years and that they seemed to progress through the following sequence:

1) From bondage to spiritual faith
2) From spiritual faith to great courage
3) From courage to liberty
4) From liberty to abundance
5) From abundance to selfishness
6) From selfishness to complacency
7) From complacency to apathy
8) From apathy to dependency
9) From dependency back to bondage

The United States of America was born in 1776 and soon became one of the greatest countries in the history of civilization.

Today, more than 200 years later, the USA is rapidly sliding down the slippery slope of dependency. Government handouts (financial bailouts, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, federal grants, pork projects, etc.) have made us increasingly dependent on the federal government, requiring an excessive amount of taxation to do so.

While local governments are forced to adhere to a fixed budget, the federal government continues to spend more money than it takes in. The national debt 10 years ago was $2 trillion dollars. Our present national debt exceeds $12 trillion and is projected to become increasingly worse over the next several years with no end in sight.

The incoming administration proposes to throw more money at the current financial mess we're in. This will require more borrowing against the future, adding more national debt which will be passed on to future generations.

Even more disturbing, increased involvement by the centralized federal government in our free market system ultimately means more government control in all aspects of out lives, which in turn means less individual freedom.

Professor Tyler was correct. A democracy cannot sustain itself because the voting public does not vote for the best interest of the country, it votes for the best interest of the individual. More for me, less for others.

Human nature includes greed. We have evolved into a credit and consumption society, purchasing things before we can afford them, driven by a programmed lust for endless growth rather than an ethic of common sense.

Voters elect politicians who will bring home the bacon rather than adhere to sound fiscal policy. This inherent greed of the voting public will eventually lead to the downfall of our democracy. Instead of using tax dollars wisely to maintain infrastructure and protect our individual freedom, it’s being used to maintain dependency on the national government and protect the incumbency of politicians.

Our dependency on a large central government will lead us into bondage once again. Our only options will be to grind away at peek production and seek mindless growth, and shovel most of the rewards down the rat hole of a government whose solution to problems is peek production and mindless growth.

We will enslave ourselves by our own greed.

The downfall of our country is inevitable unless a massive amount of people wise up and do something about it, such as insisting our government live within a reasonable budget and keep their meddling to a minimum.

Unfortunately, finding the proper balance is impossible when voters select candidates who promise to give them things by confiscating the earnings of someone else. Serving yourself by collectively plundering others and financing our collective greed by borrowing against the earnings of future generations is morally wrong.

A reliance on government leads to the growth of government, which leads to the dominance of government, which leads to bondage to government.

It's a cycle of inevitability, unless collective wisdom overcomes collective greed.

If our democracy collapses, we have no one to blame but our collective selves.


Quote for the Day – "A little government involvement is just as dangerous as a lot, because the first leads inevitably to the second." Harry Browne (Libertarian)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The End of the World

In the year 1514, Pope Leo IX wrote "I will not see the end of the world, nor will you my brethren, for its time is long in the future, 500 years hence."

If my math is correct, the world, according to Leo IX, will end in the year 2014.

Since the beginning of time, people possessed with a sense of pending doom and high certainty have predicted the end of the world. To my knowledge, it hasn’t happened yet.

Near the end of the first millennium, many people in Europe predicted the end of the world would occur in the year 1000. As the date approached, Christian armies from southern Europe waged war against the pagan countries to the north in an attempt to convert them to Christianity, by force if necessary, before Christ returned in 1000. When Christ didn’t return, those who criticized the church were labeled as heretics and exterminated.

In 1346, one-third of the population of Europe was killed by the black plague. Since this proportion seemed to correspond to Biblical prophecy, people presumed the end of the world was imminent. However, Christians had killed a majority of the cats in Europe at the time thinking the felines were associated with witches. Less cats, more rats. It was later discovered that fleas carried by rats caused the plague. The world didn’t end after all.

On February 14, 1835, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, made a pronouncement at a meeting of church leaders that Jesus would return in 56 years. It didn’t happen.

The Jehovah Witnesses claimed that the war of Armageddon would start in 1914, based on the prophecy of Daniel, Chapter 4. It didn’t happen. They subsequently revised their proclamations, many times, to 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994, etc. It didn’t happen, didn’t happen, didn’t happen, etc.

Seismographer Albert Porta of Italy concluded that the conjunction of six planets on December 17, 1919, would generate a magnetic current causing the sun to explode and engulf the earth. It didn’t happen.

The founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, predicted that the “Day of the Lord” would occur in 1936. It didn’t happen. Undeterred, he later predicted it would happen in 1975 instead. Many of his followers gave up all their earthly possessions in anticipation of the Rapture. It didn’t happen.

Edgar Cayce, known as the sleeping prophet of Virginia Beach, warned his followers in 1942 that the earth would shift magnetic poles in the year 2000 and cause lethal worldwide catastrophes. It didn’t happen.

David Davidson wrote a book titled THE GREAT PYRAMID, ITS DIVINE MESSAGE where he claimed the structure of the pyramid of Gizah foretold future events, including the end of the world in August of 1953. It didn’t happen.

In 1974, astronomers John Gribben and Stephen Plagemann announced that multiple planets would line up on the same side of the sun in 1982, creating deadly global events. The planets lined up but nothing happened.

In 1978, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club announced that the world would end in 1982. It didn’t happen.

Hal Lindsey, writer of Christian prophecy, wrote a book in 1970 titled THE LATE, GREAT PLANET EARTH where he claimed the Rapture would commence in 1988 (40 years after the creation of the state of Israel). It didn’t happen.

Edgar Whisenaut, a NASA scientist wrote 88 REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE WILL OCCUR IN 1988. It didn’t happen.

As we approached 2000, the year of the deadly Y2K bug, many people were convinced the end of the world was imminent. They built underground shelters and hunkered down. They hunkered for naught.

In September of 2008, Councilor Keith Martin and scores of scientists claimed that the large Hadron Collider built under France and Switzerland would cause the end of the world. The first trial of the collider took place on September 10, 2008. The end of the world didn't happen.

Other end-of-world predictions: St. Clement -- 90, Hilary of Poitiers – 365, St Martin of Tours – 375, Hippolytus – 500, German Emperor Otto III – 968, Gerard of Poehide – 1147, Joachim of Fiore – 1205, Pope Innocent III – 1284, Benjamin Keach – 1689, Charles Wesley – 1794, Margaret McDonald – 1830, William Miller – 1843, Piazzi Smyth – 1960, Charles Meade – 1974, Lester Sumrall – 1987, Peter Ruckman – 1990, etc., etc.

Prophecy is a tricky business. Having certain knowledge of future events is a lot like purchasing a lottery ticket and making plans on how to spend the winnings. You don’t know you’re a loser until after the drawing.

My prediction made in June of 1972 – the world would end the day I received my first real check from my first post-college job where I was making a decent chunk of money. It didn't happen. I was doomed to continue working and working and working, subconsciously yearning for the end of the world so I could escape the Treadmill of the Rat Race.

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We're all crew and we'll all go down with the ship.

On December 21, 2012, I will be hosting an "End of the World" party at my place. Bring snacks.


Quote for the Day – "You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium. To light a candle is to cast a shadow." Ursula K. Le Guin

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Right Woman

Like most men yearning for the affection of those of the opposite gender, my life has been an endless search for the right woman. Unfortunately, the odds of finding the right woman are about the same as the odds of finding the lost Arc of the Covenant in a dumpster in Bayonne, New Jersey.

When I was 12, I hoped to one day have a girlfriend. Unfortunately, I was very shy and often had a zit on the end of my nose. I made up for it with a Sears catalog behind closed doors and lots of imagination. But that soon became messy and boring.

So I decided to look for a real girl – any girl would do.

When I was 14, I hooked up with my first girlfriend. She was real cute and giggled a lot. But we just didn’t click. I spent most of my time trying to figure out my next move, while she spent most of her time reading books about horses.

So I decided I needed a passionate girl.

When I was 17, I found a passionate girl. In fact, she was so passionate she believed in sharing it with every other guy in high school and much of the rest of the world.

So I decided I needed a girl with stability.

When I was 22, I dated a very stable woman. She was highly organized. Her wardrobe was hung in the closet alphabetically by manufacturer, sub-ordered by descending purchase date. She had a goldfish named Goldfish Number Two. It was her second goldfish. Everything was so organized, categorized and sanitized, I yearned for a Sears catalog once again.

So I decided I needed a chick with some spunk.

When I was 26, I found a spunky chick. Perhaps a bit too spunky. She had a tattoo of a spider on her neck, drank Tennessee whiskey straight from the bottle and had 19 cats. Her favorite pastimes were arguing and setting things on fire. One day we had a disagreement over which way the toilet paper should roll and she torched my car.

So I decided to find a woman who was laid back.

When I was 31, I found a woman who was laid back. In fact, she was so laid back, she rarely got off the couch. Her hippie pad tended to be a bit neglected. There was a large plant in the corner of the living room. It just started growing there one day. I think it was either a fern or some sort of fungus. One afternoon, she dried it out and smoked it. She didn't get very high, but she farted a pungent green mist for three days straight.

So I decided I needed a woman with more ambition.

When I was 37, I found a woman who was ambitious. She had a bachelor’s degree in economics, an MBA from a prestigious college and was a Senior Systems Analyst for a large corporation. Her townhouse was trendy, her car was a BMW, her music was New Age and her wardrobe was proper. Unfortunately, she had this peculiar notion that those around her should also be ambitious.

So I decided to find a woman who wasn’t demanding.

When I was 44, I found a woman who wasn’t demanding. She was quite easygoing and tolerant of my various quirks. I later found out that her other three personalities weren’t quite as affable. Sometimes, when she ran out of medication, all four personalities came out at once and began arguing with one another about the origin of the universe, and whether or not Chicken of the Sea was chicken or tuna.

So I decided to find a woman with a single personality, close to my personality.

When I was 49, I found a woman with a matching personality. This worked out just fine for about 30 days. But after a while I noticed we were always wearing the same outfit. It was like we were always dressed up to go to a square dance. I was trapped in the Twilight Zone with a female clone of myself. Being with someone just like yourself is the same as being alone, except your shadow can talk back to you.

So I decided to find a woman who was an exact opposite.

When I was 53, I found a woman who was my exact opposite. This worked out just fine for about 30 minutes. Every moment of existence became a battle for supremacy. If I wanted a quiet evening at home, she wanted to party. If I wanted to party, she wanted me to get some counseling. I was trapped in the Twilight Zone with a big pile of negative energy wearing high heels. Opposite don't attract without friction.

So I decided to stop searching so hard for the right woman and sleep on it.

Then one dark night (they're always dark – that's why they call it night), I met a woman on the Internet. She was a hot tomato from Canada who was attractive, intelligent, talented, compassionate, formidable and thoroughly twisted. All balls and fluff.

She had recently returned to Planet Earth to save all the innocent four-legged creatures from the heartless two-legged creatures who had rocks for brains. A legacy from another dimension, returning to fulfill a destiny.

Of course, Canada isn't exactly another dimension, like Transylvania or Scotland. It's basically a vast wasteland, fondly known as the attic of America, where polar bears and hockey players breed like polar bears and hockey players.

At last, I've found the perfect relationship. An occasional e-mail message and a rendezvous in dreamland in the wee hours of night.

It's the best of both worlds. My daylight hours are uninterrupted by catering to someone else's needs and I get to spend my evenings with the perfect woman.

The thrill of victory without the agony of defeat.

Besides, when you reach a certain age, it's probably the best you can do anyway. .

My lifelong search for female companionship has finally ended. Although I’ve given up on connecting with flesh and blood in my waking hours, I’m still blessed with a fine imagination.

With my luck, a real woman will come along any day now and spoil the whole thing.

Gentlemen prefer blondes.

Some like it hot.

The Misfits chase dreams.


Quote for the Day – "It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone – so far." Marilyn Monroe

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Fourth Turning

William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their 1997 book titled THE FOURTH TURNING, theorize that society has a collective personality that changes on a regular cyclical basis. This cycle repeats itself every four generations (every 80 to 100 years), with each generation having a distinct persona.

When the collective persona changes, every 20 years or so, it’s called a turning. The four turnings comprise a repeatable cycle of social human growth.

The first turning is a high -- an optimistic period of idealism with social order and weak individualism. People born in this time frame are classified as Prophets. They challenge the moral failure of previous generations.

The second turning is an awakening -- a passionate era where social order comes under attack. Those born in this generation are Nomads. They defend society and attempt to slow social change.

The third turning is an unraveling -- a down period of strong individualism and weakening social order. This generation is called Heroes. They tend toward pessimism, fueling a society-wide crisis.

The fourth turning is a crisis -- a tumultuous period where the old social order is replaced by a new one. Those born in this generation are Artists. They believe in cooperation and become sensitive helpmates.

The repeatable cycles of social change always start out on an optimistic high, followed by an awakening, leading to an unraveling, culminating in a crisis. History is replete with this four-generation cycle.

The American Revolution – (1701-1791). It started as an optimistic age of enlightenment and culminated with the American Revolutionary War.

The Civil War – (1791-1866). The newly created nation was in an optimistic period full of promise. The cycle climaxed with the bloody Civil War.

The Great Power – (1866-1946). The era started with reconstruction after the Civil War with a positive outlook toward the future and ended with World War II.

The Present Cycle began in 1946, just after the end of the last world war.

In the first turning, society entered a period of building and fortification. There was great optimism when soldiers returned home to start a fresh life and the economy began to boom.

The second turning is an awakening. According to Strauss and Howe, an awakening is when a society takes a sudden turn in a new direction. In the mid-1960s, about 20 years after the start of the Present Cycle, our social fabric was torn apart by our involvement in Vietnam. The Prophets born in the first turning became teenagers and young adults in this time frame, rebelling against the established civil structure and ideals.

The third turning in the Present Cycle took place in the mid-1980s, a period of unraveling when social anxiety caused the old order to decay and new values to emerge. This was an era of self-interest replacing societal interests. After decades of liberal rule by Democrats, with their big government social programs, the more conservative ideals of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. became the social order of the day. Individuals began to become more materialistic and less caring about others. It was dubbed the “Me Generation.”

The fourth turning is a period of crisis. It often starts with an event that triggers an upheaval in public life. We are now in the early stages of the fourth turning of this cycle. It probably started on September 11, 2001. This will be a time of focus and sacrifice in a struggle for survival. If the theory of cyclical social events is correct, it may last another 15 years or so. Then we will start all over with a new high, a rebirth of optimism and idealism.

As a society, we appear to be trapped in an endless cycle of inevitable highs and lows. Apparently, history repeats itself in some sort of bizarre 80-year mood swing, pitting each generation against one another.

As individuals, all we can do is treat others the way we want to be treated and go along for the ride.

Like it or not, we’re all in this together.


Quote for the Day – "Life is a long lesson in humility." James M. Barrie

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hillbilly Astrology

Hillbilly country starts in the hills and hollows of West Virginia, runs down through Virginia into the Carolinas and Tennessee, all the way to Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. On the west side of the Mississippi River, hillbilly country is generally located in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.

You'll also find plenty of hillbillies in places like Oklahoma, Idaho, Oregon, and even in areas around Los Angeles.

Hillbillies live simple lives, far from the madness of the modern world. City slickers tend to view them as lazy, backward, poor folks. They don’t realize that hillbillies understand the folly of a system that was created to promote ambition in order to make the rich richer.

Far from being backward, hillbillies are actually way ahead of everyone else. They know how to exist without working very hard at it and will survive long after the rest of the world destroys itself.

Hillbillies live in a world of their own. They even have their own astrological chart.

GRITS (Dec 22-Jan 20): You are disorganized. None of the dead cars in your front yard are pointing in the same direction. You have lots of children with common names: such as Bonnie Sue, Bonnie Lee, Bonnie Fay, Bonnie Jane and Bonnie Fred. They all play with boys except for Bonnie Fred who mostly plays with herself.

COONHOUND (Jan 21-Feb 19): Like the coonhound, you are lazy and full of fleas. Every full moon you become quite hairy and have a compulsion to chase cats. Your furniture consists mainly of stacks of old tires. But your priorities are very practical. Your outhouse is a two-seater and it has the only roof that doesn’t leak.

CATFISH (Feb 20-Mar 20): Like the catfish, you are a bottom feeder. You strive to be in the janitorial profession but were held back so many times in the fourth and fifth grades that you were forced to join the circus where you were given a shovel and told to follow the elephants.

ARMADILLO (Mar 21-Apr 20): You tend to be very particular about your appearance. You probably bathe on a regular basis, like once every month, and don’t wear the same clothes more than 15 or 20 days in a row. You have two pairs of shoes – one for church and one for when you don’t go barefoot.

MUSKRAT (Apr 21-May 21): You have a tendency to be forgetful. Most likely, you’ll choose an occupation where your name will be printed on your shirt, like auto mechanic or waitress. One day you may accidentally put your shirt on backwards and think your name is Fruit-of-the-Loom.

CHITLIN (May 22-Jun 21): You enjoy a good meal, about ten times a day. You try to keep your weight under 500 pounds so you can fit into the bed of a pickup truck without breaking an axle. You are a bit fussy about what you eat though. For example, you’ll only stop for road-kill that’s along the centerline or in the ditch.

POLECAT (Jun 22-Jul 23): You are ornery most of the time and are disliked by almost everyone around you, including yourself. Your favorite exercise is a good fistfight. You spend most of your time sitting on the front porch, next to your refrigerator. You’ve been married several times, mostly to cousins.

CHIGGER (Jul 24-Aug 23): You're usually unemployed, occasionally self-employed. You sell night crawlers along the roadside about 9 days each summer, collect aluminum cans along the highway during Labor Day weekend, and operate a fireworks stand for two weeks every year you're not in jail and can afford the inventory. The rest of the year you drink cheap beer and complain about how young kids these days are lazy.

CRAWDAD (Aug 24-Sep 23): Like the crawdad, you thrive in or near water. In fact, you probably live in a hollow near a swamp. Your breath is so nasty you can kill a moth at twenty feet just by exhaling. You can always tell what time of year it is by the shade of green of your five teeth.

POSSUM (Sep 24-Oct 23): You have a tendency to be flamboyant. You have yellow reflectors on the mud flaps of your pickup and fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror. All of your clothing contains rhinestones, including your undergarments. You wear a hat at all times, even when sleeping.

RACCOON (Oct 24-Nov 22): Like the raccoon, you only come out at night. You live alone in the woods and talk to yourself a lot. You have learned to be very self-sufficient. Your favorite vegetable is tree bark. You probably only have one dog and chances are it’s tired of listening to your gibberish.

OKRA (Nov 23-Dec 21): You are fond of animals, perhaps a bit too fond. You spend much of your time talking to chickens, hogs and cats. However, sheep and goats tend to scatter in your presence. When you fall under the spell of sour mash, you also talk to trees.


Quote for the Day – "The difference between a farmer and a hillbilly is that a farmer raises livestock and a hillbilly gets emotionally involved." Bret