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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some thoughts on Homosexuality and Christianity

I've thought a lot about the subject of homosexuality, and how it affects my beliefs as a Christian.

Years ago (probably close to 20 years ago), my thought was something along the lines of "It's wrong, but I won't condemn someone who is gay".

But the more I thought about the subject, and the more gay people I got to know, the more I became convinced that the proclivity to being homosexual is built in, as opposed to being learned behavior.

So then, how do I square this with my beliefs as a Christian?  I am a Christian, and I'm proud to be one.  I will say that lately my definition of what a Christian is, and what Christianity means, has been changing (evolving?  devolving?) - but that's a different topic for a different day.  

Here is my deal:  If we were created by God, as I believe we were (His method was evolution by the way, although it doesn't matter His method.  Could have been the Adam and Eve story, although to me that seems to limit God: Evolution is so much grander a way to do it in my view.  Anyhow, again, His method of Creation doesn't affect my Christianity), and if homosexuality is built in rather than learned, as I believe it is, then why would I have a problem with it?

I've heard people say "hate the sin, don't hate the sinner" - and I love those people, but I disagree with them that homosexuality is a sin.

Things that homosexuality is not:


Sure, homosexual people can be immoral, and can be promiscuous, just like heterosexual people and we can have a discussion about those subjects any time, but I don't believe there is anything immoral about homosexuality.  I guess that's the first time I've actually written that down as definitively as I just did (the equating of pedophilia with homosexuality is just ignorance, btw - 'nuff said about that).

I'm sure that many people who read this will disagree with me, and that's fine.  People can have differences of opinion, as far as I'm concerned. I just wanted to tell you mine.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fifth Amendment question

Help me out here, folks - I'm not asking for anyone's partisan political opinion, so please, please, please don't give one - So, Lois Lerner, formerly of the IRS, has been found in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives for invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself by answering questions during their hearings.

I watched some of the Congressional hearings, and the bloviating Congressmen (of both parties) went after her with gusto.  Love to watch them posture, by the way.  It's great theater.

Here is a Wikipedia* explanation of the portion of the Fifth Amendment that deals with protection against self incrimination:

"The privilege against compelled self-incrimination is defined as "the constitutional right of a person to refuse to answer questions or otherwise give testimony against himself or herself. ... "[34]To "plead the Fifth" is to refuse to answer any question because "the implications of the question, in the setting in which it is asked" lead a claimant to possess a "reasonable cause to apprehend danger from a direct answer", believing that "a responsive answer to the question or an explanation of why it cannot be answered might be dangerous because injurious disclosure could result."

[Oh, by the way, I'm a CPA and I deal with the IRS all the time - there are a lot of good folks who work for them, but I also think that as an organization they have a lot of meanness inside (they need a good hug, is what I say)]

 I'm in no way defending what Ms. Lerner or the IRS may, or may not have done.  I'm talking about Congress apparently feeling that she should not be afforded Constitutional protection when it doesn't suit them.

Anyhow - here is my question:  Why is she being held in contempt of Congress? I mean, what is the legal justification for that charge?

I was at the Post Office the other day - you know, that place where you send messages that are written on pieces of paper, instead of sent electronically - and a guy was at the counter, talking about the whole situation.  He said "they ought to arrest her for taking the Fifth".

Do we now pick and choose when to follow the Constitution? Does our Constitution only apply to those we like?

*It's on the internet, AND on Wikipedia, so it must be correct, right?**
**That was snark, in case you didn't catch it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rich F Scott. I hardly knew ye.

An ode to RuFuS. A friend I never met.

I virtually "met" Rich Scott, aka RuFuS on an online forum populated by people who run marathons. Rich had the gift of being hilariously funny, while at the same time being completely incomprehensible. I mean, you never really knew what the hell he was talking about. On two separate occasions, he really offended me - that is, until I realized that I had totally misunderstood what he was saying. On both occasions, he privately messaged me, apologizing for offending me. Again, it wasn't until I went back and reread his comments that I figured out I had only been offended because I'd had no idea what he had said to me in the first place.

 In the past couple of years, he and I had "talked" via email several times, and a couple of times on the phone. The guy was a tender hearted, good person. He made sweet comments about my family, and he and I had made tentative plans to meet at some future time (he apparently had some business in Atlanta - he lived in Iowa). I was alternately excited and terrified at the thought of meeting him in person.

Last few months, RuFuS had spent some time in the hospital. I never really knew what was wrong with him. He downplayed whatever it was as a stomach bug, although he was in the hospital for (I think) about three weeks. He was finally released, but I only heard from him a few times after that. I did check in with him to see how he was doing, and he always gave me some BS answer. A few weeks ago, I messaged him, but didn't get a response. About a week later I had this odd need to find out if he was ok, and messaged another imaginary internet friend. Well, she hadn't heard from him either. The next morning, we found out that he had been found dead in his apartment, supposedly from natural causes. Rich was 40.

There was quite an outpouring of grief from the online running community I am a part of. Rich was well loved, and Rich was evidently a part of many peoples lives, both those he had met in person, as well as those he had only met online. I've read more than one story of how he touched peoples lives.

I've missed his profane and head scratching comments on more than one occasion since his passing on April 11. I think that Rich is a person I would have liked to have known better. I think that the world is a duller place without him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stockholm morning

Back a gazillion years ago, Lisa and I went to Scandinavia. We went because Volvo has this really cool program where you pick up your new car at the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden. Back then, Volvo would pay your airfare (now I think they pay a flat $2,000), pick you up at the airport, put you up in a hotel, then take you to the factory to sign ze papers, and get your new car. The point, from the Swedish side of things was (is) that you then drive your new Volvo around Sweden. I guess that's the point. I don't know. We just thought it would be a great way to pick up a car and have a vacation heavily subsidized. Oh, they then ship the car back to your home auto dealer for you to pick up a month or so later.

On that trip, we started in Stockholm, then took a train to Gothenburg where we picked up our shiny new 240, which we proceeded to drive for the next couple of weeks through Sweden and Denmark. We fell in love with those two countries in general, and with Copenhagen in particular.

My Friend, David Kleeman, is in Copenhagen right now, or was over the weekend. David travels extensively to the neatest places. We are collectively very jealous of his travels, and call him names regularly.  Looking at David's pictures on Facebook is why I'm writing this post.


We went back a few years later, and picked up a station wagon (with the turning radius of an oil tanker, by the way). We had both of our girls on this trip, and wound up driving it down through Germany (of course with a few days in Copenhagan, and a side trip to Billund, Denmark, the home of the original Legoland) hanging a right and dropping it off in Paris - never, ever, drive a new Volvo station wagon with manual transmission around the Arc de Triomphe during rush hour. Don't. It will send waves of terror up the back of the strongest individual.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. A few years ago, we went back to Scandinavia, this time to Norway with some friends (no car involved this time), and fell in love with Norway - guess what? We went back to Copenhagan on that trip as well. Want to see my pictures?


I've always gone to that part of the world in spring or summer, and the weather has always been spectacular.

Specifically though, on the last day of that very first trip, Lisa and I went for a 4 am walk in a park in Stockholm - it was sunny, as it is for about 18-20 hours a day at that latitude during the summer. The temperature was chilly and the air was crisp. The sun was shining, and it was beautiful. I've always remembered that morning, and always will.

So, here's the point of my story: this morning, on my walk to work, the air had that same crisp feel, and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful morning in Cleveland, Tennessee. It reminded me of that Stockholm morning.

Monday, March 24, 2014

High School

Recently, some of my high school classmates created a Facebook page dedicated to my high school class (good old class of '76).  It's been interesting to see the page, and to catch up on what many of them have been doing. It's also been interesting to see some of the folks on there who I never knew - even now there are a couple who I have absolutely no recollection of (not telling who they are, either). I guess in a class as large as ours, there are bound to be people you didn't know.  I don't remember exactly how many graduated from the Bradley Central High School class of 1976, but I'm guessing it is somewhere around 500.

One of the people in the class posted that she wished she had been more involved, and felt like a nobody.

I remember going to school at Bradley High. I had moved from England a couple of years earlier, still had a little bit of an English accent (and a lisp for goodness sakes!), and was in a high school full of people who'd gone to school with each other for most of their lives.  To make matters worse, when we had moved to the U.S., I'd skipped the 6th grade, going from the 5th to the 7th, so I was a full year younger than anyone else in my class (except Denise Massengail, didn't she also graduate at 16?).

Point being, for my entire high school career, I felt like an anomaly, never fitting in with any of my peer groups - sure, I had good friends (Doug, Jeff, Artie and Bryan), don't get me wrong, but I always felt like a fish out of water.  Couple that with standard teenage angst, and a couple of unrequited crushes (you girls know who you are), and I didn't really enjoy my high school years.

Even years later, at my 10 and 20 year reunions, as excited as I was to go, I still found the same groups of people hanging with the groups they had hung with back during school. I didn't enjoy those reunions, and didn't attend the last one we had.

It wasn't until today, when I read what my classmate posted, and the comments that everyone made after, that I realized that my feelings were not unique. As a matter of fact, I would bet that those feelings of insecurity are standard fare for high schoolers, always have been, and always will be.

Now - my teenage insecurities haven't affected my life. I'm fairly well adjusted (those of you who know me better not say a word), have been married for 28 years to a Cleveland High school graduate (Lisa Gobble), and have two beautiful daughters who thankfully look like their mom.

Life is good, and yes, it was me who threw the M-80 in the band hallway, and yes, it was me who streaked the R.O.T.C. banquet. Both years.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Runs with earbuds

That would be my Native American name if I weren't a lilly white Englander.

I used to poo poo listening to music when I ran (My friend Paul Stein, on the other hand, is a known and wanted earbud wearer and flouter of rules that would ban their use during a marathon) - except in the latter stages of a marathon, when, as usual, things wouldn't be going well.  In those instances, listening to music would take my mind off of my ineptitude and lack of proper training.

Back when I used to have running partners, I didn't listen to music - I would talk with them, Jerry and Steve in the AM, and Kevin when I would run in Chattanooga. When Lisa and I bike, we chat while riding, and obviously, I wouldn't listen to music then (although I neeeeed a Go-Pro camera.  I neeeeed one). Someone buy me one of these, please

A couple of years ago, I completely fell out of love with running, and now that I've rediscovered what I like about it, I've begun running again, but by myself. One of the things I've noticed is that I'm hopeless when trying to maintain a pace.  I've got no idea how fast I'm running (hint: not very) without a GPS - see below.

Now, I loooove gadgets.  If you know me, you know this to be true.

All of the above was to tell you about last nights "run".  I've got a new Garmin Forerunner (the 220, and I like it.  I even wear it as my daily watch {geek} ), so I had it set.  I also set the "MapMyRun" app on my Galaxy III to record and stream my route.

The final piece to all of this was the Google Play app on my phone, which enabled me to listen to a cheesy 70's playlist.  Here it is, by the way: Ian's Cheesy Playlist   (if you have Spotify, you can listen to it. If you want, you can follow me on Spotify and listen to all the same crap I listen to!!!)  Please understand that I didn't pick this playlist, so I'm not responsible for it. It's Googles fault.

Last night was a good "run".  (I'll remove the quotation marks when I feel like one of my runs can stand on its own.) I think it had to do with Lisa's vegetable soup.  I think it powered me. It was about 5 miles.  I'm starting to feel more comfortable running again, but I'm not there yet. The music helps. So does my Garmin. So does my smart phone. So does Google Play. Pity about the whole ability thing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A healthcare thought

Here is the premise of the Affordable Care Act from my perspective: if all Americans have, and pay premiums to a health insurance plan (private companies, not socialized insurance, oh ye who have no idea what you are talking about), then premiums will drop. See if this math makes sense to you - the risk pool of a 4 person group (mine) is smaller than one that includes 300 million people.  When the risk is spread across that many people, many of whom are healthy and will not tax the system until later in their lives, then premiums will drop.

There are other facets:  Kids able to stay on their parents policies longer, people not being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, and others.  I admit, the potential for affordable healthcare premiums is what attracts me.

It is a fact though, that young, healthy people are going to have to participate - in my opinion, the penalties for not participating, both on an individual level and on a corporate level are not nearly high enough.  Too many young people are not signing up because they don't need it right now - but they'll surely want coverage later on in life, when they inevitably start having medical problems.

Currently, in my small group, if I fart incorrectly my premiums skyrocket, because the risk is spread across such a small group of people.

Think of it as purchasing power.  Try to stop thinking of it as a plot by that evil Kenyan, Muslim, Socialist, Communist.  Stop letting people scare you.  Start voting for your self interest rather than against your self interest.

Please stop using the poor web design as yet another reason that Obamacare is bad. The website roll-out sucked.  That's a given.  That does not make the premise of affordable healthcare incorrect.


Oh, let me tell you a story about a national health program:  When I was 9, I was bedridden for a portion of every month - I had kidney problems that wound up necessitating the removal of my right kidney.  The doctors took me into Addenbrooke's Childrens Hospital in Cambridge, England (where I lived at the time) They removed my kidney, I stayed in the hospital for something like 10 days total.

Most importantly: I've been healthy for the last 45 years.

Second most importantly:  My parents didn't wind up with a bill of several hundred thousand dollars.

That was only one anecdote, but a real one nonetheless. Not some widely spread, vague scare headline. Instead, a real example of how national healthcare saved my life, and saved my parents financial health.