Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Blog Record This Month

Yesterday's blog post was a bitter sweet milestone for me. Yes, as a die-hard Yankees fan I had to admit the the Bronx Bombers were going to miss the playoffs this year for the first time in 13 years. That's the "bitter" portion now for the "sweet."

The post itself was the 21st published in the month of August. That's a record number for me beating June's total posts by 1 entry. I begin each month with the intention of publishing a post every day. A lot of the time things happen or I make an observation and I can spin it into enough words to make it a viable post worthy of the time it takes you to read it. But other times life is just an "every day" kind of thing and there's not really anything noteworthy or remarkable to offer.

Once again I want to offer my appreciation to those of you who tell me rather often that you read and enjoy my blog. As September begins I look forward to dealing with getting older (my birthday is on the 9th), stepping up my search for a job, practicing, writing, and marketing my ventriloquism a whole lot more, and get better at practicing the guitar.

Of course perhaps the most important thing of all I plan on doing is growing in my spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ through the study of his word and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

All those things as a package should provide plenty of material for blog posts over the next month. I hope you continue to check in every once in a while. See you in September.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

October In August

October was once the 8th month of the year. The prefix “oct” as in "octagon", "octopus", and "octave" means eight. But the Romans added two months to their calendar in honor of Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar and placed them after June. Thus October became the 10th month of the year.

But the Roman Empire’s effect on our calendar isn’t the subject of this post. This year something that usually happens in October has occurred in August. I’m talking about the end of the baseball season. Oh there are plenty of games yet to be played and playoff spots to be won but that’s not what I mean.

You see I’m a fan of the New York Yankees and have been since 1973. For the past 13 seasons the Yankees season has ended in October. Actually one year it ended in November. It has ended with either a World Series Championship; as it did in 96, 98, 99, & 2000; a World Series defeat; like in 2001 & 2003; or elimination in the divisional round or championship series of the American League playoffs.

Seeing the Yankees lose the World Series to the National League is always heart breaking for me. I’m still not over Luis Gonzales series winning hit off of Mariano Rivera in game 7 of the 2001 fall classic. Witnessing their defeat in the league playoffs usually crushed me as well. 2004’s historic collapse at the hands of the Red Sox is infamous. But watching Joe Torre’s Bronx Bombers win in the playoffs and then take 4 World Titles was a wonderful thing.

There were moments of great comebacks in the late innings; walk off home runs; and more. All of the winning hits, strikeouts, and saves accomplished by a cast of heroes who shared the spotlight and won as a team. Right in the center of my most memorable moments is Derek Jeter.
His out-of-position relay to home plate to tag out Jeremy Giambi in game 3 of the ’01 divisional playoffs against the A’s is among the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen. Let’s not forget it was Jeter who hit the home run that sparked the “Jeffery Mayer” controversy at Yankee Stadium during the game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series. He also hit a walk off home run to win the first November World Series game in 2001.

This year as the month of August comes to an end the Yankees with a record of just 72 wins and 62 losses are for all intents and purposes already out of the playoff picture. There are many reasons for this and I won’t bore you with the details.

While they are not mathematically eliminated from contention; the evidence speaks for itself. The answer to the question of whether or not they can put together a string of wins in September and stage yet another miracle comeback is in their inconsistent performance up to this point in the season.

As a Yankees fan the phrase “playing out the string” referring to games played in September by a team not bound for the playoffs is strange for me to think about.

This past Thursday was the last game between the Red Sox and Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium. The Yankees came back and won in the game 3-2. Jason Giambi’s efforts (a 2-run home run and the game winning single) provided one last memorable moment at “the house that Ruth build” but only in the short term.

Bottom line is that it is almost a certainty now that Sunday September 21 will be that last game played in this Yankee Stadium. The stadium is “officially” going to be closed the first week of November about a week after this season's World Champions have been crowned. But this week’s 2 out of 3 series loss to their divisional rivals made it certain that there will be no post season baseball in the Bronx this year. Also for the first time in his 13 year career as a Yankee when the calendar turns to October Derek Jeter will find himself some where other than between 2nd and 3rd at Baseball’s most famous ballpark.
So as a Yankees fan it's very difficult for me to write this, especially while the calendar still reads "August". Wait til next year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another Member Of The Cast

Here’s a picture of a puppet made by a company called “Folkmanis.” They make a wide variety of realistic looking animal puppets. I found this one for sale at our local Parent Teacher store the other day. I bought it because it’s the type of glove puppet that I’ve been looking for to develop a character for my ventriloquist act.

Inspired by part of the act of one of my favorite ventriloquists, Taylor Mason, I am going to use this flying squirrel puppet, still nameless for now, as part of my program. I’m going to use him to demonstrate to kids, and in some cases adults, to set aside their fears and rely on their faith and trust in God to do what He wants them to do. In the squirrel’s case he would have a fear of flying.

Those are my plans for the puppet. However when I showed the critter to my wife, Paula, she absolutely loved it. Several times after I brought it home she picked it up and started playing with it. She was giving it personality and attitude as she discovered what kind of cool movements it could make. “You might have just lost this one,” she told me.

Whether it’s hers or mine I’m sure that the little flying squirrel puppet will find it’s way into my act sometime in the future. Keep watching.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Guest Appearance On “Newsy Vents”

One of the blogs I read on a daily basis is written by a man named Clinton Detweiler. He is an icon in the world of ventriloquism. For over 3 decades he ran the school that provided the Maher Home Study Course of Ventriloquism. While the school is now closed its effects are still present in the world of ventriloquism. Many successful “vents” of today (like Jeff Dunham for example) learned the art from Clinton Detweiler and his correspondence courses.

Although he’s supposed to be retired Clinton still builds and repairs “vent” figures and creates puppets for many ordinary objects. He also writes a blog called “Newsy Vents.” It was the posts about his work that inspired me to create my Blabber Mouth puppet (see August 2 post).

Earlier this month I wrote him an email to thank him for the inspirational help with my new character. He graciously published that email on his blog on August 24th. If you want to read the post you can see it at: .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Rich Full Day: Part 2

A few hours after concluding a very successful day of ministry at Iva Baptist Church I drove to Louisville with my wife, my son, and his fiancee. We were on our way to see the River Bats, the AAA minor league team of the Cincinnati Reds, play a game against the Columbus Clippers.

Now I am calling this post “A Rich Full Day: Part 2” but if you speak to any of my family members about this first part of our trip they very well may tell you that it was not very fun at all.

During our 100 mile trip on I-65 North we only made one stop and soon were looking out the left window of the Vue at Louisville Slugger Field. At the time we still had 45 minutes to get to our seats before the first pitch.

The trip takes a bit of a “turn toward the worse” here as we attempted to get to the stadium. This was my fault. I didn’t realize until we were about halfway to the city that it had been so long since I went to a Bats game (about a year and a half) I didn’t remember how to get to the field.

Notorious for getting lost (but I do eventually get where I’m going) I lived up to my reputation by first missing the exit and then driving around the downtown area for about ½ hour. I made some interesting decisions about how to find the stadium but I won’t go into the details here. Just ask me or my family members when you see us if you really want to know.

I stopped at a local garage and got directions. Two turns later we were in the parking lot. In the 90 degree heat we walked around the stadium and found our seats.

I really didn’t like our seats. They were down the left field line and in the sun. We were already tired and hot from the walk so sitting in the sun offered no immediate respite from the heat. We drank water to refresh ourselves and after about an hour the sun went down a bit it started to cool down. It turned out to be a very pleasant evening.

Another reason I didn’t like our seats was that they faced the outfield and not home plate. You had to actually turn your body to watch most of the game. I’ll never buy tickets for those seats again. However I did come as close to getting a foul ball as I ever had. It came down the line in the air, hit a row of empty seats behind me to the right and ricocheted back toward the field about 6 feet from where I was sitting. I didn’t have time to get up or even react but it was the closest I’ve ever been to a foul ball.

The game was a good one. There were 23 hits, and 14 runs scored including a grand slam home run by someone on the Clippers team. The Bats came back and won 8-6. The running joke of the night was that the 3rd baseman for the Bats had the same first and last name as my son. Also the Famous San Diego Chicken was there. He was very funny and performed lots of comedy bits in between innings.

As expected on the way home we got a bit lost. Getting back on I-65 from downtown Louisville is very tricky. Luckily my son spotted a rather obscure direction sign that led us to the entrance ramp.

On the way home while “the kids” in the back slept or watched movies on their portable DVD player my wife and I listened to one of my Rewind shows on CD.

I was tired when I got home but overall it was a nice evening. A great 2nd half of a “Rich Full Day: that I will remember fondly for a long time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Rich Full Day: Part 1

This past Saturday was very full and wonderful day for me. There were two major events so I’m going to write about the first one in this post and the second in my next post. This long but eventful day began at a small church about 20 miles from my house.

Several members of my church and I were part of a team sponsored by our local church association’s missions outreach department. We helped provide a day of special events for the children of Iva Baptist Church.

The church has a very small congregation. Their youth group only has 6 teenagers in it right now. There are several trailer parks with lots of children and families within a close geographical area of the church so it has great potential for evangelism and growth.

I met the pastor, the youth pastor and his wife. They were all very proud of their little country church and anxious to see its members grow spiritually as well as reach out to the community with the gospel.

When you walk into the front door of the church you are immediately inside the sanctuary. There are about 8 pews on each side of the aisle, a small platform with a pulpit and a baptistery behind the platform. I told the pastor that I liked his baptistery because it was at floor level and with a piece of material draped over the front could be used as a puppet stage. That’s me always thinking “puppets.”

The event started at 9AM. The pastor from my church, Tim, led the group in a “get to know you” game and a couple of songs with motions including the exhausting “Father Abraham.”

At 9:30 the girls went to a classroom for a presentation on a missions ministry for One the ministry teachers from our church, Betty, and some of the girls she teaches explained the ministry.

The boys went outside for some recreation supervised by about ½ dozen teenagers from a youth group of another church in our association. In addition I sat on the front porch of the church and showed some of the boys how to make swords, hats and dogs by twisting balloons. My friend, Jeremy, helped me. There was also face painting done by Jeremy’s wife, Lisa.

Ten o’clock was I presented a ventriloquist sketch with my friend, Calvin in the sanctuary. The program centered around the fact that Calvin had a prideful attitude when it came to his knowledge about the Bible. Through a series of questions, wrong answers, and popped balloons Calvin, and all the other children, learn a very valuable spiritual lesson.

After my part of the program it was the boys turn to go to the classroom to learn about the missions ministry for boys. Gary, a good friend of mine and the ministry leader at our church, led the meeting. The girls went outside for game time and I made them balloon animals.

At 11 o’clock it was back into the sanctuary again for Bible study. told everyone the Bible story about the paralyzed man who was healed by Jesus after his friends lowered him down through the roof.

The morning of ministry ended with a simple but delicious lunch of hot dogs, chips, and cookies prepared and served by a couple of deacons and deacon’s wives from our church.

I sat around and ate lunch with a few different people to try and get to know them. I also made a few more balloon hats, dogs, and swords for those children whose first ones had popped.

Our denominational associations’ missions outreach director, Jeff, asked if he could “take advantage of my talents in the future” (his words not mine). I told him any where, any time, any place, for anyone. I am open to ministering to everyone I can.

After lunch it was time to pack up and head for the house. Judging from the smiles on the faces of the children and adults alike the ministry we had provided was a blessing to Iva Baptist Church.

Perhaps the most memorable of the day came right after my ventriloquist performance. As I was straightening up the platform and putting my props away a little girl named Beth came up to me. She had participated in my show by popping a balloon when I asked her to. As everyone else was leaving the sanctuary and Beth came up to me and offered me a bag of chocolate candies. She asked me to give them to Calvin for her. I smiled told her I would and that Calvin would be grateful to get the candy.

The candies (pictured on the right) were a generic version of M&Ms from the Dollar Store. They were part of a gift bag she received earlier in the day. Although they didn’t cost much money she chose to give them away to my friend, Calvin. Her gesture told me that my ministry and message had touched her heart and she wanted to show here appreciation. That my friend is what the morning at Iva Baptist Church was all about. I thank God that he has given me the talent, ability and heart for ministry so I can reach children like Beth with His gospel message.

After I left the church and came home my day was only half over. The second memorable event of my “Rich Full Day” was yet to come. More about that in the next post.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Congratulations, It’s A Puppy!

I want post to my “congratulations” to my son, Michael, and his fiancĂ©e, Heather in regard to the arrival of the new addition to their family. They brought Gavin, their new beagle puppy home this past Friday, August 22.

My wife has been to visit the puppy but I have yet to meet him. The picture on this log was sent to Gavin’s new “mommy & daddy” by the breeder before they went to adopt him. I absolutely adore beagles and can’t wait to meet my new little “grand puppy.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Caught Up In The Draft

Last Friday night I got together with 11 other men from my church for our second annual Fantasy Football League draft. The evening started out with a dinner at a local restaurant. We finally awarded last years initial league champion with his free dinner. I was asked to pray the blessing over the meal. I thanked God for the good food and the fellowship then very boldly asked Him to let me have the first pick in the draft. After the dinner and plenty of stories, punchlines and other banter left the restaurant and headed to our church to get ready for the draft.

In our church office 10 guys huddled around 5 computers which were set up and signed onto the Yahoo Sports webpage for our league. We waited with great anticipation to see who had the first pick. The order of the draft is supposedly chosen randomly. As it turned out the first pick this year went to the same guy as last year. So much for being random. I had the 6th pick.

Although this is my 2nd year playing fantasy football I don't know a whole lot about choosing the right players. I have my favorites and a general idea on who I should look to choose for my team. As I found out last year it's mostly a matter of choosing who you want from who's left when it's your pick.

The draft was really cool and we had a great "male bonding" time doing something that's actually extremely frivolous. We went through 16 rounds of the draft with each of the 12 team's "general manager" getting up to 90 seconds to make their pick. It took us about an hour or so.

The post draft review of every one's picks and their '08 team rosters fostered much speculation about who the winners and the losers will be this season. But they haven't even played a down in the 2008 NFL season so everyone is starting at the same place. We'll have to wait until January to find out who will be this year's league champion.

Oh by the way the name of my fantasy football team? The RH Factor. Sound familiar?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Sad Anniversary But A Happy Eternity

Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of my father's death. Over this last week every time I looked at the calendar and saw the date, August 20, I thought about my dad. I wasn't there when he left this world. The last time I saw him was about a month earlier. I had moved to Kentucky in March but went back to see him in July 1999.

It's hard for me to write about my dad in the little space that this blog allows us. Although I know I have written long posts about much less important things. What I will say is that I miss him very very much. So many times in the last 9 years I have done things or gone places and wished he was there to share it with me. Going to see the Grand Ole Opry, watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks and seeing the show at the Muppets 3D attraction at Disney World are the first ones that come to mind. There are so many times over the last 9 years I have thought to myself "I wish Dad were here to see this. He would have loved it." The feelings that accompanied those thoughts while seemingly a sadness for him was actually a continuation of my personal grief . I continue to remember my father as he was when he was here with us.
However as a Christian I must continue to think of my father as he is now still alive and in heaven. You see, I believe, that given the choice, my dad really wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else over the last 9 years than where he's been. When he took his last breath of this life he immediately found himself in the presence of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dad lived his life for and in service to God. He found salvation through Jesus Christ. He believed every word written in the Bible and lived his life according to God's commands. When his time in this world was over he found himself, as the Bible says, "absent from the body but present with the Lord" (2nd Corinthians 5:8). At that very moment he changed forever. No longer is he concerned with or does he take pleasures in the things of the world. He is, so complete and blessed to be in the presence of God that nothing in this world compares to it.
While I'm certain that the love he felt for his wife, children, and family is still alive and well within him the frivolous desires for the pleasures of this world are permanently dismissed from his soul. He doesn't care about any thing in this world any longer. He is perfectly happy where he is now and cannot wait until all of those he loves to have their salvation completed by making the journey into the presence of The Lord just as he has. The same thing is true for my mom, my niece Teressa and any other born again Christian who has left this world.
So once again when I feel sadness as I miss my father it is only my sadness for myself. I know he is complete in his salvation and awaiting the creation of the new heaven and the new earth so he can spend eternity with God and his saviour Jesus Christ. How do I know all this? The Bible tells me so. My belief in the scriptures comes from the faith I was introduced to as a child and have returned to as an adult. The two people most responsible for teaching me in that faith are my parents. Thanks Dad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Late Night Talk With James

Just before going to bed right just prior to midnight last night I signed onto the AOL to check out a job lead I found in the Sunday paper. I was fortunate enough to see that my son, James, who's serving with the KY National Guard MP's in Iraq, was signed onto AOL instant messager. I had never communicated with him that way before and I was excited to catch him.

I updated him on what's going on here. He wanted to know about his pets and how they're doing. I told him that some time this week we would be sending some beef jerky that his aunt made for him. He told me that he can't wait to be back home again and he misses everything to do with being here. He asked for pictures of all of us and of things here at home. I promised him I'd take some and send them to him. While he did say he really missed being home he also said that he understood that that was part of being a soldier.

So please continue to pray for James and all the service men stationed in Iraq. If you have his email address send him a line and tell him what's going on. If you have his mail address and want to bless him send him something that will remind him of home. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Once Again For The Last Time

For about 10 years before I moved to Kentucky in 1999 I occasionally worked as a DJ for weddings, parties, ect. Since moving to Kentucky I have only worked in that capacity 2 times. One was a birthday party for a 13 year old in 2002 and a wedding reception this past February.

After working the wedding reception which included: loading and unloading the equipment from my car, setting it up and, playing the music I was exhausted. I enjoyed playing the music but everything else was so physically difficult for me afterward I came to a two-sided decision. I would most likely never work as a DJ again but if I did I would hire someone to set up take down routine for me.

I thought the first part of that decision would be the one that always be true. I had worked my last gig as a DJ. But last night once again I was the DJ for a wedding reception. The bride at this celebration was someone I used to work with. She was at the wedding reception in February and liked what she heard me do there. She asked me to do her reception about 3 weeks ago and I agreed.

This time I did have a "roadie" to help me with the equipment. The reception was held at the local Lions' Club hall not 1/2 a mile from my house. There were only about 30 people there and only about half a dozen of them ever danced.

But the couple that got married have 3 children from each of their previous marriages. They have two girls and a boy. Well their guests may have not enjoyed the music but I have never seen a family have such a good time at their own wedding reception. Both the bride, the groom, and their children danced for nearly the whole time I played. At one point it was only them and a few immediate family members still there. Even though they were the only ones left they continued to dance.

Finally they asked me to stop playing about 90 minutes earlier than scheduled because everyone was tired and wanted to go home. My "roadie" and I packed the equipment back into my Vue and I made the 2 minute drive back home.

Even though I didn't do nearly as much work as I had in February I was still very tired and worn out. Despite my exhaustion I was very satisfied because I helped to make that family's special day a bit more memorable. In addition I did it doing something I enjoy doing; playing my music from my CD collection.

As of right now I have no future plans to be a DJ ever again But that's what I said in February. Who knows what the future will bring.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rewind Inventory

Yesterday I started recording my Rewind programs onto CD. I just started by pulling the first two tapes out of the case and recording them. I have the tapes organized in the order I recorded them. They are all numbered and labeled. However, because some programs take up more than one cassette I only knew how many tapes I had not the number of programs.

Today I took inventory. I wrote and produced a total of 38 "Rewind" shows. This includes 5 different Christmas tapes and a tribute to the my dad featuring much his favorite music. Those are among my favorites. As of yesterday I have 3 of them on CD. I had already had the last 2 shows featuring Country music put on CD back in 2001. So the CD conversion project is in progress from both ends of my tape library.

The spreadsheet I created while taking the tape inventory will be helpful in the conversion. With the 36 I have yet to transition I know I've got a lot more hours of work ahead of me. But I recorded the Rewind shows between the years 1986 and 2002. To me they are audio snapshots of 16 years of my life and well worth the effort to preserve them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rewind To CD

A little over 2 months ago (June 11) I wrote a post that explained my desire to start converting the tapes of my "Rock & Roll Rewind" music programs to a CD format. Until today I hadn't even gotten started.

This afternoon I went to my church and used the CD recording set up to record onto CD my first Rock & Roll Rewind program. It's a collection of novelty songs by artists like Alan Sherman, Ray Stevens, Weird Al Yankovich and more. I'm excited that I've taken the first step in preserving my Rewind shows in a more practical format. I'm going to have to continue making an effort to go to church and spend some time recording.

Let me know if you're interested in hearing any of my R&R Rewind programs. I'll make you a copy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Step Toward Becoming "That Guy"

First of all I want to give a blog "shout out" to someone who told me that she reads this blog. So I'd like to say "hello" to Penny.

Yesterday I went to church to take my first guitar lesson. A man named "Chip" who plays bass guitar for our Sunday morning worship service is giving lessons for a nominal fee. I'm fortunate enough to have my son's guitar sitting back in his room collecting dust for about 4 months. I'm adopting it as of yesterday.

Penny, who I just gave a shout out to, is the other student in the class. She knows a lot more about the guitar than I do. I'm a total beginner.

I learned some basic stuff like: how to tune my guitar, what the parts of the guitar are, where the cords are played and how to play them. Chip showed us 4 chords to practice. I have to get a strap and a new set of strings put on my guitar before I can practice. I'll do that tomorrow.

Even though I'm still trying to get better at ventriloquism I have decided to take advantage of the opportunity to learn guitar for a couple of reasons. The first reason comes out of a hypothetical situation. Let's say you're at party that's outside and there's a wood fire burning. Everyone is sitting around talking but there's not really anything happening. Someone in the crowd points out that one of the guys at the party brought his guitar with him. They encourage him to go get the guitar out of his car. He sits by the fire and plays whatever song he chooses or is requested to play and everyone sings along. The party just got 150% better. I've always wanted to be "THAT GUY!"

The other reason I want to learn to play the guitar (it's really the most important reason overall)is to be able to be more effective in children's ministry. I feel that as a guitar player I can lead the children to participate in worship a whole lot more effectively. I can lead them into a spirit where they will be more open to the listening to God's word and the gospel. That's the most important thing in any kind of ministry.

So anyway I have now taken my first guitar lesson after years of wanting to start. I also someday want to learn to play the ukulele. But that's further down the road. I guess for now I'm a guitar man...or I'll try to be. Please pray for me I need it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Baseball & Fireworks In Nashville

Last night 3 friends and I went to see a minor league baseball doubleheader in Nashville. "The Sounds" are the AAA affiliate of the MLB Milwaukee Brewers and have played in Music City USA for several decades. I took Bill, a fellow deacon from my church, Johnny, a friend who is a baseball fan and used to go to my church, and James, someone I used to work with. I had always wanted to get to know James better while we still worked together but never took the opportunity. James and I had only ever talked at work or work related events. When he came to the dinner I had with my former coworkers a week or so ago I told him I'd call him to go to a ball game sometime. Less than a week later I had an extra ticket so I called him.I invited him as my guest and hopefully looked forward to the start of a friendship.

The group was very diverse. We had 4 different personalities and all different ages. I was a little worried that James would feel out of place. Bill and Johnny couldn't have been nicer to James.

Johnny, is a guy who's from my dad's generation. He really likes baseball and always has his own opinion on whatever subject comes up. Bill, is a security officer at our local county courthouse. He was a high school teacher for many years. My wife had him as her history teacher when she went to school. He too is a big baseball fan and has been to quite a few major league ballparks.

The trip down to Nashville was full of conversation about baseball and many other subjects. I drove and James sat in the passenger's seat so we could talk. I really got to know him a lot better on the drive down I-65.

Johnny let me borrow his handicap parking placard allowing us to park closer to the gate than we normally would have. Our seats were about the best we could get. We were less than 10 rows from the field behind the first base dugout. The picture at the start of this post shows the view from our seats.

The weather was perfect with temperatures in the low 80's dropping to the low 70's as the night progressed. The stadium was not very crowded either. Our section was not quite half full. As a matter of fact although I had bought tickets for 4 seats in the same row by the end of the night each of us were sitting in a vertical row in front of each other in the aisle seats of 4 successive rows.

During both games we talked, exchanged stories, asked each other trivia questions, and commented on people we saw. There were several things that were said and happened during the game that made us all laugh quite a bit. This included me mistaking a guy who had caught a foul ball in the stands for a woman (you had to be there). The hometown team, The Sounds, won both of the 7 inning games played. After the game there were fireworks which were rather impressive.

Although it was late the ride home was also full of conversation and laughter too. I couldn't have scripted the evening any better. Well perhaps I would have gotten us home a little earlier. I didn't get back to my house until about 1AM. Otherwise the evening was one of the best experiences I've ever had at any baseball game. I can't wait to do it again sometime.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Steven Chapman Family On GMA

Yesterday morning, August 6, on ABC's Good Morning America they had the first public interview with Stephen Curtis Chapman, his wife, and family since the accidental death of Maria, their 5 year old daughter.

The family told their story with dignity and character as much as they were allowed. They were composed and honest. However the names of "God" or "Jesus Christ" were never mentioned at all in the 9 minute piece. I don't blame the Chapmans for this. I believe that the interview was edited purposely with that exclusion. Even Robin Robert's introduction to the piece blatantly omits the family's faith in God as part of what is getting them through this very difficult time in their lives.

The only references as to how being Christians has helped them in their situation were Stephen's phrase "grieving with hope" and Mary Beth's "I know because of my faith that she is completely whole... and I will see her again". Will Franklin, the brother, who was driving the car involved in the accident, mentioned "faith" and growing despite the pain of grief. His sister, Emily, referred to her grief as a road with easy and difficult areas. Very similar to the God guided path written about in Psalms 23.Caleb allued to the fact that Will Franklin is not just his "for real" brother but his spiritual brother as well.

I can't help but wonder how much more inspiring this interview would have been if it was on a Christian news program and not a network news show. The family was scheduled to be on Larry King Live on CNN tonight too. I missed the original airing of the interview but I'm going to try and find a rebroadcast of it.

A few more things about the GMA interview. You can watch it for yourself if you copy this link into your Internet browser: This will take you to Steven Curtis Chapman's website which has a link to the interview on the ABC News site.(this may change over time so don't hold me to it)

Also, did you see the way Diane Sawyer struggled with talking about the family as she was wrapping up the segment? Had she been told not to say or refer to certain words like "faith" or "God"? Hmmm?

Finally I did like that the final thing Steven said in the piece was a mention of his certainty of the hope that he will someday once again dance with Maria. For those of us who know the joy that is set before us because we belong to Jesus Christ there is nothing anyone in this world can do will that ever take away that hope.

PS: (written 3:30 PM Aug 8) I did manage to DVR the Larry King program on CNN and I watched it this morning. The hour long interview was 100% better than the GMA feature. The family all appreared together and spoke openly of their faith and how it has helped them through the ordeal both as individuals and as a family. I Just wanted to let you know that the family came across as more like they really are than they did on GMA.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In Kentucky All Roads Lead To Baseball

Before I moved to Kentucky the only sports I ever associated with the state were college basketball and horse racing. I never even considered that it was a great place to live for a baseball fan.

If you take a marker to a map, put it on the town where I live and draw straight lines to Major League cities within a 700 miles radius you'd be surprised, as I was, just how many there are.

There are 12 teams: Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Cleavland Indians, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Kansas City Royals.

That's just the Major League teams who play within that radius. There are at least 4 AAA minor league teams that play within a 4 hour drive from my house.

I have already been to see games at Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh. I go to see AAA baseball teams, the Louisville Bats and the Nashville Sounds, at least once a year. One day I'd like to go see the AAA teams in Lexington, Kentucky and Indianapolis, Indiana play as well. I'm excited about the fact that there's supposed to be a minor league baseball team playing in Bowling Green, a town about 20 miles from where I live, starting next spring.

As far as the other 9 on the major league team list I would love to be able to attend a game at all of them. If you read my July 17 post about my side trip to Chicago you'll understand why going to Wrigley Field is at the top of my list.

While I do have a goal of completing trips to the ballparks on that list I am very realistic in admitting there are whole lot of other things in my life that come first. In the future if I have fulfilled all my other responsibilities and find myself blessed with the means to visit one, any, or all of these ballparks as a baseball fan it would be a dream come true.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

AGT's First Las Vegas Show Not That Great

After about 6 to 8 weeks of audition programs the NBC show "America's Got Talent" finally reached it's second round known as Vegas Week. This is the first season I have watched the show with any loyalty and from the beginning. Overall I have enjoyed it but the audition programs became a bit tedious.

I was very excited when I realized that tonight was the first program in the second round of the audition process known as "Las Vegas Week" I was looking forward to seeing my favorite contestant, Kaitlyn Maher.

All the great performers (and in my opinion some of the not so great) came back and gathered in a theater awaiting their second chance to move on in the competition. There were 113 acts sitting in the theater's seats excited and full of optimism about what might happen during "Vegas Week."

The 3 judges came out on stage and announced that they were going to review the videos of all their auditions and based on their second looks some of the contestants would be sent home the next day. Talk about changing the mood among a group of people. I would have been upset too if I were involved.

The next day once again the contestants all sat in the theater seats. Only this time each were given instructions to sit in 1 of 4. The judges then sent an entire section of 19 acts (the "b" section) home without even giving them a second audition. My question is "why even bring them out to Vegas?" Not only did they not give them their second chance as implied by bringing them to Vegas but they made them leave the theater immediately. It was a very cruel way to treat someone who at one time had been considered qualified to move on in the competition.

It was also awful television. The show needs to take some lessons from American Idol in regard to the large group elimination or advancement process.

Having narrowed the field down to 94 acts the judges and producers then categorized the contestants for their second editions. Singers auditioned with other singers, dancers with dancers, magicians with magicians ect.

I don't know what happened to the majority of the contestants but very few of them were as good or impressive as they were in their first auditions. I don't think I saw anything from any of them that proved they were the favorite to win.

Remember my little friend, Kaitlyn Maher? She was the 4 year old little girl who stole my heart on the July 17 episode. She was grouped with other youngsters for her audition. After the kids were all finished the judges debated as to whether they were too young to handle the competition and the subsequent fame. If they weren't sure of that why did they put them through in the first place?

Anyway for her second audition Kaitlyn sang "When You Wish Upon A Star." She wasn't as cute nor did she sing as well as she did the first time but she's still a darling little girl. By the way she made it through to the next round.

Again, I wasn't totally blown away by any of the acts I saw again tonight. I was rather disappointed. Perhaps they were all nervous and a little out of touch with what was expected of them. I have no idea how long it was between some of their auditions and their time in Vegas. Perhaps that had something to do with them not performing as well.

There is still another day of auditions in the AGT competition in Vegas. That airs this Thursday night and the final 40 spots for the Hollywood shows will be decided then. Let's hope some of the contestants can recall some of the talent they're trying to convince America they've got.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Double Features Weekends

This weekend my wife and I did something that we've been doing every weekend for the last month or so. We watched two DVD movies. We had gotten out of the habit of watching movies together for various reasons. After a year or so of only going to the theater a couple a times we realized that there's a whole new crop of movies now on DVD that we want to see. We rejoined NetFlix about a month ago and have been watching movies together every weekend since.

The latest two were: The Bee Movie & 27 Dresses. I wanted to see "The Bee Movie" because it was Jerry Seinfeld's first voice over for animated feature. I wanted to see if the mastermind behind what's been crowned as TV's all time greatest sitcom could make it in the movies. The movie had some good jokes and sight gags in it but the overall feel of the film and it's environmentalist message just didn't work for me.

"27 Dresses" was an interesting concept for a romantic comedy but the actors, the director and the screen writers all missed the boat. It was a sure fire premise but not for one minute were any of the characters believable or convincing. The plot was predictable and the look of the film was the same as any typical Hollywood romantic comedy. "27 Dresses" should have been called "27 Yawns"

That's enough of my personal reviews for now. I just wanted to let the world know that as a couple we are back to spending time together in our living room surrounded by the sound of our home theater system and enjoying movies on the big screen TV...and we don't even have to go to the video store. Thanx NetFlicks.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Night Substitute

Tonight I taught the Sunday Night Bible Study in the main sanctuary at my church tonight. There were some other small groups meeting at the same time so there wasn't that many there for me to teach. There were 8 people there and we had a good discussion.

I was actually substituting for another deacon who is on vacation for the next two weeks. I taught the 2ND lesson of a 4 week study on the book of 1 Corinthians. Tonight's lesson focused on Chapter 1 verses 18 to the end of the chapter and the first 5 verses of chapter 2. They are about true wisdom. The material and discussion focused on how God's wisdom seems like foolishness to those who aren't Christians.

I talked about my "haircut experience" and some of the recent exchange I had with a relative about the existence of God and the true gospel message.

We talked about how God's ways of using people both in the Bible and today just don't make any sense to when considered with the mindset of the world.

I also brought up the subjects of evangelism and our part as Christians in delivering the gospel for the purpose of salvation. I also mentioned how a lot of churches today are afraid to teach the true gospel for fear of offending and driving people away.

Although I got a little "preachy" and did a little too much of the talking. But the people were very attentive and added much to what I taught. What made me feel like we had an effective study was that some of us sat around and talked for about 10 or 15 minutes longer after the study was officially closed with prayer.

I am scheduled to teach again next week. I hope there are more people there and I can do a better job of involving them in the study and discussion. However I do love to teach and even preach a little. I'm thankful for the opportunity.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Introducing A Character

The picture posted with this entry is something I am very happy with. It is my first original puppet creation. About 6 or 7 months ago I was in a the housewares section of a store. I forget which one it was but that's not really important. In the bargain bin of this department I saw something that looked like half of a glove. I couldn't figure out what it was. I picked it up and read the label. It was a silicone oven mitt. Apparently the material it was made from was heat resistant and safer than the usual oven mitt. However to my warped mind and imagination it didn't look like an oven mitt. It looked like the start of a really great puppet. I bought it, took it home and put it in the closet where I keep my puppets and such. It stayed there for about 6 months.

After attending the I-fest in early July I started thinking about creating my own original ventriloquist puppet and character from scratch. As mentioned in my July 25 post I ordered and received 2 sets of "peepers" eyes to use with the oven mitt.
I added a couple more things like a purple latex glove, an elastic string fastened to each side, thick poster board inside the mouth for better control and Eureka! I have a new original Ron Havens created puppet.

The name and personality of the puppet is based a character I saw in an episode of a Saturday morning cartoon show when I was 8 or 9. The show was called "Here Comes The Grump" and the character appeared in only one of the 34 episodes of the series.

This guy says anything and everything he hears no matter where he is or who is listening. Now if that seems unusual and strange I invite you to look around. There's one in every church in America.

I don't know when or where I'm going to debut my new character but it will probably be in my church some time in the near future. I'm working a routine for him now. As soon as he's ready the world will be introduced to him. But since you are reading this blog you get an exclusive "first look".

Because now that you know the background story of the creation of my new puppet I need to give him a proper introduction so if you'll please excuse me...(clearing throat)

"Ladies and Gentleman. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you my faithful blog readers for the first time ever my friend...
The Blabber Mouth!"

(music) TA DA!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A "Good Bye" 4 Months Later

A little after 4 o'clock this afternoon I went to a local Mexican restaurant and had dinner but not alone. I met some of my coworkers from Perot Systems there. When I was "let go" on that fateful day in April I never did get a chance to say a formal "goodbye."I wanted to take an opportunity get together with them at least one more time.

There were 9 of them there: Gail, Kristi, Mary Beth, Vicki, Valerie, Dorothy, Marsha, James and one of my best friends ever, Linda. I took a couple of pictures of them with my phone but they weren't very good (I need a better camera phone, I guess). There were others I wished had been there but they all had other commitments.

I was a little nervous getting together after 4 months. I was worried that perhaps I no longer had anything in common with them. In less time than it took for our waiter to bring our beverages I realized that I had nothing to worry about.

We started catching up and cutting up almost immediately. The jokes, laughs and irreverent comments began right away. I asked about changes at their job and they asked me about my search for my job. After several comments about my shorhaired dome I told them my hair cut story (See July 29 post). Before our meals came to the table I realized that in a way I was still part of the group. They still laughed at most of my silly jokes. I felt more comfortable with trying to be funny than I had in a long time. Even though I no longer work with them they truly are all still my friends.

It was great to just to be around them and listen to them talk about their lives and discuss both the changes and staus quo at Perot Systems. We were there for about an 90 minutes or so just enjoying each other's company. I asked each of them how they were doing and told them of the things I see or do that still reminds me of them. I was really enjoying myself and wasn't in a hurry to leave.

Soon everyone was finished eating and asking for their checks. I gave a couple of them the web address to this blog and asked them to read it. I just want to warn any of them that if you read this on a regular basis you are probably going to find out a lot more about me than you ever wanted to know. Feel free to add a comment and keep in touch.

So even though it took 4 months I'm glad I finally got together with my former Perot Systems coworkers. While my time of employment with Perot Systems may be over I'm certain that some of the friendships that begin there will last for years to come.