TSA = Stranger Danger

Can’t help but continue to cogitate on this TSA screening nightmare (see my previous post).The outrage, tales of indecencies committed, frustrations and absurdities continue to be recounted in lurid and nauseating detail.

The TSA website laughably defends their recently implemented “security” measures, claiming:  “A primary goal of TSA is to treat all passengers with courtesy, dignity, and respect during the security screening processes.” (Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?)

Yes, I can imagine serious-faced, properly licensed and qualified authorities serving up identical reassurances as multitudes of Jews and other undesirables were ushered onto cattle cars headed for their final destination (i.e. death camps).

I would argue the TSA screening practices have little to do with courtesy, dignity or respect. Rather, their intent seems to be to discourage airline travel. (I mean, it’s already worked in my case!) Continue reading “TSA = Stranger Danger”

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Interesting Times

Nobody seems to know for certain where the phrase “may you live in interesting times” originated. No matter. During more than a month of absence from posting here, I have come to understand those six words are as much curse as blessing.

A pre-election day trip to Philadelphia reminded me of the vast differences between Benjamin Franklin’s time and ours, but the trip also reinforced a nagging sense that Tyranny remains the same in every age.

Consider the current flap (links here, here, here) over full-body scanners (FBS) newly installed in airports. Maybe the picture to the left offers a clue about what comes next?

On Thursday evening (10/14), my mother and I arrived at STL.  We entered the Southwest terminal with plenty of time to spare (or so we thought). Neither of us knew much about FBSs … much less that they were in place. No more than a handful of the multitude in line with us knew either!

People in front, behind and to either side in the zig-zag security line expected, like my mom and me, to board flights set for departures around 7 p.m.. Long story short, most were still standing in line past the appointed hour of departure! (Remind me, please:  what’s the point of an “A” boarding pass??!) The culprit:  a so-called “rapid scan” FBS. Continue reading “Interesting Times”

Battle of the Bulges

A couple weeks back, my Beloved and I were emptying some items from the back of my car. I was in front of him, and he remarked offhandedly:  “You should probably invest in a bra that fits.” I was too busy with other things to waste time being upset by his observation, but in the ensuing days, the remark has resurfaced in my memory.

On reflection, my response might have been something like:  “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to wear a harness every day of your life?” Or, “It’s supposed to be tight enough to do the job.”

Truth be told, once I looked in the mirror (from the possible angle he would have had), I had to cede his point. My Victoria’s Secret undergarment covered (and supported) the requisite areas, but there was no denying the unattractive bulges. (How would I know? When do I look at myself from the back side?)

The words “disgusting tub of lard (DTOL)” are hardly complimentary for anyone, least of all when one thinks of one’s self. While I don’t fill my chair like the cartoon woman above, my bra is (admittedly) almost as poorly fitted. Further, I acknowledge my problem isn’t just the result of a poorly fitting undergarment. Some aggressive personal action is in order:  regular exercise, better eating habits, etc. (No, I’m not considering liposuction or a backlift … never heard of that before, but apparently it’s a popular option.) Continue reading “Battle of the Bulges”

Who Are the Real Experts?

File this in the Are You Kidding Me? or the No Wonder the World is in Such a Mess! folder. Your choice. April 30, 2010 was SpankOut Day USA … and I missed it!

Clearing off my desk this week, I ran across a pamphlet from the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC). Headquartered at Winona State University in Minnesota, they also have a regional center partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Community College (near my corner of the world).

The pamphlet’s description of SpankOut Day USA informs the reader this day was established “… in 1998 to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior.” Who knew? I still had children living at home in 1998.

Certainly, child abuse is a despicable thing. (Is there anyone in the civilized world suggesting child abuse is okay?!!!)

But I think it’s fair to ask:  when did we establish a consensus spanking equals violence? Let’s go back to the word’s origin. In the 13th century violence was defined as:  “physical force used to inflict injury or damage.” I’ll say it emphatically — a loving parent who employs spanking exercises measured physical force, and never to the extent nor for the purpose of inflicting injury or damage! Continue reading “Who Are the Real Experts?”

The More We Know . . .

Before purging a stack of unread magazines recently, I took up the mid-August issue of World. The Disappointment of the Double Helix by James LeFanu drew my attention. Bear in mind, I’m the last person to speak authoritatively on science and the first to disappear into a black hole when others broach any subject remotely scientific.

Nevertheless, avoiding the usual lab-rat jargon, LeFanu (in a mere ten paragraphs) ably unpacks the conundrum:  within the “elegant simplicity” of the cell, scientists inevitably face “inscrutable profundity.” He notes, “… it forcefully brings to our attention what we can never know.”

Fast forward a couple days. I’m sitting with my community group watching part 5b of a video series produced by The Truth Project. (In a series of “tours,” The Truth Project explores various worldviews, weighing the truth claims of each.) On this tour, our subject is Science:  What is True? Continue reading “The More We Know . . .”

The Breath of Life

Life is like the sweet aroma of a flower. (Does that sound like something Forrest Gump would say?)  As with the most fragrant of flowers, life may vanish before we have the sense to breathe it in!

Still, if you knew that sweetness could disappear so quickly, wouldn’t you savor the aroma for as long as possible? Wouldn’t you want to jealously press the sensual pleasure of it deep into the recesses of your brain?

In yesterday’s post, I juxtaposed the wonder of new life (my baby grandson) with the untimely death of a young woman. Each time I gaze into my grandson’s bright blue eyes, I’m struck by the same realization:  life goes by too fast!

When a young person dies, my mind bubbles over with questions. If I could see into the future, would that awareness change my life? What if I knew the baby in my arms:

  • Would never live to celebrate his or her eighteenth birthday?
  • Might grow to adulthood but reject the foundational things I’d taught him or her?
  • Might grow to adulthood and live wisely and well? Continue reading “The Breath of Life”

Displaying God’s Handiwork

Over the last month or so, I’ve had the privilege of being one member of the tag-team who cares for my four-month-old grandson, HSO. cropped picWhen his mama and daddy resumed their jobs, they knew there would be a handful of days each month when their schedules would necessitate outside help. Sure, they could’ve exiled the little guy to Miss Marple’s, impersonal but handy, wipe-and-dipe corner day-care pen. (The truth is, I’d never let that happen to one of my grandchildren!)

So the other day I’m ensconced in an easy chair with this delightful little Creature in my lap. He’s drinking milk from his bottle, pausing momentarily to smile and flirt with me. And I’m reflecting on how amazing and precious and innocent he is. I’m contemplating all the similar thoughts that filled my head when my own four children were this age. While the Babe blissfully enjoys his meal, I’m quietly thanking God for this Gift and praying for the man he is to become. Continue reading “Displaying God’s Handiwork”

Happy Birthday, Mamma!

Yesterday, August 29, was my mother’s 84th birthday. Without a doubt, she is one of the most amazing women I know. In spite of her age, her macular degeneration, and the usual aches and pains that accompany aging, she lives independently in a condo. (It’s located about 20 minutes from where my sister lives; the rest of us live in other states.) Still, whenever I’ve suggested Mom should sell her place and move in with one of her offspring (me!), she demurs. She really enjoys her independence!

Macular Degeneration has slowed Mom down, but she still uses the computer and occasionally drives (for the moment). I know it’s going to be hard on her when and if she has to stop driving, but she’s a realist and recognizes that day may come sooner than she’d like.

We’re going to a school reunion this Fall in her home town of Philadelphia. Likely, she’ll be the oldest attendee. Back in 2007, we journeyed there and it was as wonderful a trip for me as for her. I’d imagined her childhood, acknowledging how frightening it must have been for her to be shipped off to a school for fatherless girls when she was only six years old.

But seeing it, standing in the room where she laid her head every night and wandering the spacious campus … these things gave me a sense of how splendidly God had provided for my mom to be educated and nurtured, when her own daddy was unable, having passed on to his reward.

See that smile on her face? She’s almost always like that. She tackles every challenge with determination and an almost inexhaustible vitality. She’s a great role model! Happy Birthday, dear Mom. Hope you live to be at least 100!

TCO: Stepping Into a New World

My eldest grandson went to college today. He drove himself to the campus (about 30 miles away) but, uncertain the school would permit him to stay, he left all his belongings here at our home where he’s lived this past year.

A recent Eagle Scout, he earned two academic scholarships and will assume a student loan, but those won’t be enough to cover his expenses. The financial aid people suggested his parents could obtain an additional loan (to cover the difference), but because he’s “on his own” that loan is impossible. This boy, transitioning to manhood, is learning one of the hard lessons of adulthood:  finances can be a tricky thing.

He told us he believes God wants him at this university and he’s stepping forward in faith God will provide the funds. He’s animated, excited and energized, eager for the new challenges he sees before him.

He’s also subdued (scared, in fact) by the prospect it could all be yanked out of his grasp if the finances aren’t forthcoming and the school decides not to work with him on it. (He’s already committed to working 30 hours a week while he’s attending school, plus they’ve signed him up for a school work/study program.) Continue reading “TCO: Stepping Into a New World”

The Mission / End of the Spear

Okay, we’re digging deep here with The Mission … a 1986 film? Were there no available flicks from the modern era? This is a “Special Edition” of the remarkable film. It’s long (125 minutes without the Bonus Material DVD), but the cinematography is superb, and with its historically-based plot and another Ennio Morricone score, I enjoyed the movie!

The film has its weaknesses. Initially, two stories are presented in point/counterpoint. There’s Father Gabriel, the saintly priest played by Jeremy Irons. There’s Rodrigo Mendoza, the mercenary and “sinner” played by Robert DeNiro.

For my part, I wanted to care deeply for these men, but except for the scenes where each man is tested physically (and you briefly sense their passion), the story advances too quickly. (It must! The clash of civilizations awaits!)

As a slice of mid-18th century history, the film provides a backdrop of politics and religion run amok (not so different than today, I mused). Father Gabriel and acolyte Mendoza focus on their mission, to establish caring relationships with an indigenous people group (the Guarani), to teach the people to work and live harmoniously and to worship God. Continue reading “The Mission / End of the Spear”