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Monday, September 29, 2014


In the summer of 1984, I was living in Athens, Greece. I lived in a fancy schmancy building on Vassileos Constantinou Avenue, a couple of hundred yards from the 1896 Olympic Stadium (my roommate, Scott and I snuck in a couple of times and ran the then cinder track. It was a lot like "Chariots of Fire" I imagine) - unfortunately, I lived in a dumpy basement apartment, barely larger than a broom closet. The point was though, that I got to explore Athens and the surrounding areas.

Back then I smoked (Salems - loved that menthol taste).  As a poor traveler, I couldn't afford Salems, instead I smoked a European knockoff brand called Reyno:

My morning routine would be to go to the little shop around the corner, buy a pack of Reynos, walk through the National Gardens to Syntagma Square for some breakfast, maybe try to steal some stationary from the Hotel Grand Bretagne (I was living on about $5 a day and needed to save my money for Reynos), and would explore Athens.  Sometimes we would go to Piraeus (a port city about 7 miles away), and would catch a boat to one of the islands in the Cyclades - Santorini was my favorite, spent a week sleeping on the beach that summer.

(it really is that beautiful)

or maybe Spetses, one of the Saronic Islands:

(also that beautiful)

It was a good time.


One afternoon, I was wandering around a street close to the Parthenon (modeled after the one in Nashville, I think), probably smoking a Reyno, and I came up to a guy in traditional Afghan clothing who was handing out flyers. I talked to him for a minute, and he told me that he was Mujahideen - asked me if I knew what that was. Well, I vaguely did. They were the group of Afghan freedom fighters that the U.S. was helping to arm in their fight to run the Russians out of their country. Guy was pretty friendly, and very appreciative of the help that the U.S., among others (including a fellow by the name of Osama Bin Laden, as it turned out) was giving them. Now, after the Russians left Afghanistan, the Mujahideen started fighting amongst themselves. Ultimately, a mulla named Mohammed Omar and his group came out on top.  You might have heard of them.  They are known as the Taliban.

Anyhow, now we are talking about arming "moderate Syrian rebels" in our fight against ISIS. I hope that somewhere in Washington, D.C., someone remembers that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remote Area Medical

This weekend, a very worthy group called Remote Area Medical will be in Ooltewah setting up a free clinic (!about-us/c172w). Their mission statement is:

                                       "To prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free                                                     quality healthcare to those in need."

First, donate to them. They do good things.

Second, the United States has the richest economy in the world, with $17.5 trillion in purchasing power (

Third, look at this map:


The green areas represent countries with universal healthcare. Notice the western hemisphere.  Notice specifically the NOT green areas.  Yep, the United States, with the richest economy in the world, does not make affordable healthcare available to EVERYONE. Healthcare costs in the United States are such that an organization such as Remote Area Medical sees the need to provide free clinics inside the United States.

And THAT, my friends is something that embarrasses and disgusts me, and I hope it embarrasses and disgusts you as well, regardless of your politics.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Preconceived notions

Here's the deal: O.J. Simpson murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Everyone knows it - he skated because he could afford the best lawyers. His actions after the trial showed how irrational he was, and again, everyone knows he did it. I mean, really!

Now, today, we hear of George Zimmerman threatening to kill a motorist:

another in a long line of incidents like that from him.  Objective people realize that he murdered Trayvon Martin, and just like O.J., his actions since then have borne out what kind of person he is.
I remember how disappointed I was the day that O. J. was acquitted, particularly at the black people I saw on TV cheering at his acquittal - again, come on, folks.  We know that O.J. did it.

I was likewise disappointed at all of the white folks coming out of the woodwork to defend Zimmerman, and do everything in their power to make Martin out to be the meanest, baddest…you know what…around.

We’ve seen it in the last month, as (mainly) white folks are working pretty hard to bring anything into the Michael Brown case that will confuse the actual event of him being shot six times by a police officer – including trying to make it look like Mr. Brown beat Officer Wilson and broke his eye socket by planting a fake picture of another man from 2006: 

Or posting a picture of someone who is NOT Michael Brown, but trying to pass it off as him:

This picture is of a man named Joda Cain, who is a murder suspect. This picture was posted by a POLICEMAN!

So, again, we let our preconceived racial notions affect what we believe – on both sides.

O.J. murdered his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman.  George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and will wind up killing someone else, or will be killed by someone else, and it sure does seem like Michael Brown, unarmed and with his hands up according to witnesses (including construction workers with nothing to win, by the way), was executed by Officer Darren Wilson.

This is what I believe.

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.