Saturday, February 28, 2009

Georgia Aquarium 2

These are the last of the pictures I am posting of the Georiga Aquarium. If you are ever in the area, it is well worth the visit.Next door is the Coke museum, both could easily be visited in 4-5 hours. A short walk away is the CNN center.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Georgia Aquarium

Below are three more pictures taken the other night ahead of dinner at the Georgia Aquarium.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dinner With a View

This evening I had dinner with a view of a lifetime. I am attending a conference in Atlanta sponsored by Grizzard, one of The Salvation Army’s direct mail partners. Tonight’s dinner was held at the Georgia Aquarium. The tank before which we enjoyed our meal is the world’s largest indoor tank. Below are pictures taken of the view.

Other pictures taken at the Aquarium will be posted in the coming days.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mike Huckabee

Lest anyone think otherwise, Mike Huckabee will be running for President in 2012. He has his own show on Fox News that will expose him to the general population who are open to voting for a Republican candidate. In three years his campaign staff will be using the demographics of the show and its appeal to substantiate their argument that Huckabee will win over the middle undecided voter. Of course once he announces that he is a candidate he will have to give up the show, but it will have served his purpose of keeping him highly visible and broadening his appeal.

On Friday I received a taped telephone call from Huckabee. It was a robo survey on abortion. Each question was carefully crafted to elicit a “yes” response. If you tried to respond with a response other than “yes” or “no” the recording informed you to answer yes or no to the question. The results of the survey will be used to identify four groups of people: a) those who are clearly on their side, b) those that are open to their message that through future surveys could readily become Huckabee supporters, c) those that will need cultivation but still could become Huckabee supporters and d) those that are not worth their marketing efforts.

Though many things bother me about the survey, one of the main things that bothers me is the simplistic thinking that stands behind a yes and no only option. Such thinking is dangerous as it ends up distorting complicated issues, misrepresents issues and vilifies opponents….which is the mindset of George W Bush, Chaney and Rove, and what the Republican party and the nation does not need in a candidate.

Friday, February 20, 2009

True Southerners - Part Two

This is a continuation from the prior post that answers "How do you know a true southerner?"

Josh no doubt can attest to many items on the list.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A true Southerner knows that "fixin'" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only true Southerners make friends while standing in lines. We don't do "queues," we do "lines"; and when we're "in line," we talk to everybody!

Put 100 true Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they are related, even if only by marriage.

True Southerners never refer to one person as "y'all."

True Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every true Southerner knows that eating tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee is perfectly wonderful; that redeye gravy is also a breakfast food and that fried green tomatoes are not.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'... ," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the addition of sugar and lots of it - they do not like their tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

Only true Southerners ask for "light bread." That means you don't want cornbread or biscuits.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" and go your own way!

True Southerners - Part One

How to you know a "true southerner"? Here are some answers. Part Two to follow tomorrow.

Only a true Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption, and that you don't "HAVE" them but "PITCH" them.

Only a true Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc. make up "a mess."

Only a true Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a true Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is - as in, "Going to town; be back directly."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl on the middle of the table.

All true Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a true Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. (If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin'!)

Only true Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a true Southerner both knows and understands the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

George W Bush's Initial Place Amongst His Peers

A late 2008 C-SPAN survey of American Political and American History academics has ranked President George W. Bush as the 36th best President out of the 43 Presidents. He is ahead of just notable disasters as Millard Fillmore (37), Warren Harding (38), William Harrison (39), Franklin Pierce (40), Andrew Johnson (41) and James Buchanan (42). He is just behind John Tyler (35) and Hubert Hoover (34).

The broad consensus is that George W was a very poor President who created more problems for the nation than he solved. Out ten to twenty years he may rise above Tyler, Hoover and Hayes, but I cannot see him moving above 30th in my lifetime.

For historians the top six are: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. I hold Washington ahead of Lincoln and Jefferson ahead of Theodore Roosevelt....Kennedy is not in the top six.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Code Words, Donuts and Peanuts

Every so often a story that seems innocuous sits upon your mind as there is something about it that bothers you. This is one that I do not know whether to laugh or weep.

Ahead of Inauguration Day last month, Krespy Kreme Doughnuts issued the following release:

"Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies -- just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet 'free' can be."

The American Life League, an anti-abortion group, attacked Krispy Kreme for this add. The American Life League told it’s supporters that if they could be supporting abortion advocacy if they were to buy a Krispy Kreme donuts. Reason, because of the phrase “freedom of choice”. The League and its President Judie Brown sees “choice” as a code word, that when the word is used it is “synonymous with abortion access” and an endorsement by the user of abortion rights on demand.

Ms. Brown goes on to say "Celebrating his [Obama’s] inauguration with 'Freedom of Choice' doughnuts - only two days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to decriminalize abortion - is not only extremely tacky, it's disrespectful and insensitive and makes a mockery of a national tragedy. "A misconstrued concept of 'choice' has killed over 50 million preborn children since Jan. 22, 1973. Does Krispy Kreme really want their free doughnuts to celebrate this 'freedom.'”

Ms Brown is free to hold her views and she is free to see conspiracies under every twist of a word. Contrary to Ms Brown’s gravely mistaken views, people use “choice” without any sinister connection to the abortion debate. “Choice” is no more the exclusive domain of pro-choice movement or a code word for the same than is “saved” and “salvation” the exclusive domain of the church or a code word for a person being born-again.

Just as saved and salvation applies to hundreds of non-religious situations so does the work choice. Ms Brown and her mindless minions need to take a deep breath, get a life and use the intelligence that their Lord has given them to know how to discern differences and stop making Christians out to be a group of people who have a bag of peanuts between their ears.

Friday, February 13, 2009

World Champion Performance.

In recent days the Phantom Regiment’s 2008 “Spartacus” show has made it onto YouTube. Though the resolution and sound are not the best you can still get a good sense of the show that earned Phantom first place. It was a dramatic show, that was well executed and with quality sound. Though the Blue Devils and Carolina Crown had a little stronger sound musically, the drama of the Phantom’s show made the difference. Phantom beat Blue Devils by the narrowest victory possible.

The show not only represents the quality of the music that separates the top five from the rest of the field but it also shows the athleticism that is found within their shows. I cannot imagine such athleticism while playing so musically and keeping in step. If you ever get a chance to take in the DCI World Championships or a DCI show near you that has some of the best bands, you will not regret doing so. I am still in awe of this show as well as the Blue Devils and Caveliers show.

Watch for the coupe at the end of the show...the Roman General gets overthrown.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winter Camping - Not Really

Since late Sunday night I have been at Camp Happlyland, the National Capital and Virginia’s Camp. I will be here for a series of meetings through to noon Friday with officers and various development staff from across the division.

Rather than sleeping on a thin camp bed, I have been staying in our RV. I pulled the tarp off it, and pulled up near a cabin and plugged into the 20W line (the camp does not have 35W hook-ups). I have not hooked up the water since I do not want to go through flushing and winterizing the system in case we get freezing weather in the next four weeks. Instead I use a nearby cabin to shower, etc. Unfortunately, I did not fill up my propane tank at the end of the season and there is little left in the tank. Fortunately, the weather has been in the mid to upper 50s most days which means that by running a space heater it has been enough to keep the RV warm (55-75F). Tonight it will be getting down into the low 30s, and if necessary can turn on the furnace as there is enough propane to get me through the last night. Still it is a far cry from camping with lows in the teens and highs in the upper 30s.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Church Membership in Decline

Most denominations are experiencing declines in attendance and the average age of their congregations progressively increasing. This would not be a surprise to most who attend church. The trend is not confined to a handful of congregations as it is a trend across most congregations. Over the last two decades most denominations have seen membership ages 65 and older rise from around 12 per cent to over 27 per cent. In the same period membership age 39 and younger has fallen from around 31 per cent to less than half that level.

Over the last decade, the number of people entering the ministry has not matched the number who are retiring and departing. A growing number of congregations find that they have to share ministers or combine. This trend will continue, not only because of fewer clergy but also because as congregations age and attendance declines, a growing number of congregations are finding that they cannot afford a full-time minister. With a growing number of parishioners on fixed incomes a church’s budget is becoming increasingly difficult.

The days of the full-time pastor for, except for the largest congregations or those with wealthy parishioners, may well soon be coming to an end. More and more churches will share a full-time minister. There will be more churches that will have ministers working part-time or even full-time in the community. In fifteen years from now there may well be twenty percent fewer churches than today.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Piano Prodigy

Check out this piano prodigy. I cannot imagine where he will be in eight years with some professional training.