Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekly Review #1: February 22-28, 2010

This week's review will include news about moving down allowing me to go up, some new exercise options, the completion of a project, earning some extra money, and some good old fashion book learnin.

Because of the weight I've lost this month (more on that in a bit) I've been able to do something I haven't done in a long time. I pulled down the folding stairs and took some boxes to the attic. Up until now I was still too heavy for the wooden steps to hold me. I'm now able to go up to the attic when ever I need to. No more waiting for someone else to come over and get a suit case down or put up the boxes of Christmas decorations. It's a real NSV (non-scale victory) for me.

In conjunction with that NSV comes a scale victory. I am now at a point in my weight loss where I have less than 100 pounds to lose until I reach my goal; 96 to be exact. I haven't had the most success in dropping the pounds this month but it's been enough that I can now see the "lighter me" at the end of the weight loss tunnel.

This past Tuesday I received a gift from sister & brother-in-law who live in Pennsylvania. They sent me several DVDs with aerobic exercise workouts on them. Their copied them from VHS tapes Gene took home when they was here visiting last October. They're the rest of my Richard Simmons exercise collection. Gene told me he'd copy them for me. Thanks Peg & Gene. Now I have more options for exercise when it's raining outside or I get bored with just walking.

For the first time this year I spent this past Wednesday night home alone. Paula had to go on a two day business trip to Alabama. It was a short trip though. She left in the afternoon on Wednesday and was back in time to go to her Bible study at church on Thursday night. I missed her but was glad it was only for 1 night.

Friday afternoon I finished the extended portion of my recording project that I've been working on for over a year. I finished my Rewind project some time ago but still had some music and other things recorded on cassette. Most of it was from my days working in radio. It's all on CD now and cassette tapes are now a technology of the past for me.

For nearly 2 years it has been my intention to learn how to sell items on Ebay but I haven't.I just haven't committed to doing it. Now I may not have to thanks to a local radio station . Their website has a place to list items you want to sell. It's called "Fleabay" and it's free. Last week I sold our old answering machine and phone system after listing it on "Fleabay". Now I have $25 extra to put on a credit card next month. Its not much but its a start. I'm going to list some more items in the next week or so. Hopefully they'll sell.

Finally, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to learn a thing or two about ventriloquism. This past week I started reading the Maher ventriloquism course lessons. I've also started reading a book about visiting Washington DC. Paula and I plan on spending a day or two there before we got to visit our family this coming June.

So there you have the first "weekly review" under the new RH Factors blog format. Hope you liked hearing about my week. Come back next Thursday for a review of the end of February and the start of March.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekly Factors: A Bit Of A Change

As you can tell from the length and number of posts over the past 2 years I have really enjoyed writing for this blog. Originally it was supposed to serve a dual purpose: Help me share the events of my life with my family in Pennsylvania and express my thoughts and opinions about things I'd learned or experienced. It has also turned out to be a very good means of documenting my growth as a Christian.

My initial goal was to post every day. That hasn't happened but I am pretty consistent. When I have something to write about; I post.

Due to my tendency to write in lengthy details about nearly every subject posting takes a considerable amount of time from my day. This would be fine on days when I don't have anything else to do. But lately those days are becoming few and far between.

Since 2010 began I have tried to send myself "back to school". I have started to try learn more about performing comedy and working on my ventriloquism skill by practicing more often. I am working on a stand up comedy course and am about to start a ventriloquism training course.

This self education requires a commitment very similar to attending continuing education or college classes. I know it's not a "formal" education and I won't get any kind of diploma for it but the objective is the same. I want to become better at what I do.

So in effort to rearrange my priorities toward my commitment to "Ron's College of Ventriloquism & Comic Performance", I'm going to change the way I post to this blog. I will now only post once a week.

The posts will be a review of events from the previous week; most likely in a news digest type format. Or there may be a "normal post" with commentary about an important subject or matter that's been prevalent in my life the since the last post. Because of my current work schedule look for the weekly post either on Thursdays or Fridays.

Although though I don't think there will be, I apologize to anyone who may be disappointed with this decision. It's what I feel I have to do to change my focus toward the more important things in my life. I may go back to posting more frequently in the future. But for now while I work on my comedy and "vent" skills it's just going to be "The Weekly RH Factor Report".

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Show N' Tell

Last Sunday night for Valentine's Day Paula and I spent the evening at home. We ate a home cooked meal and watched the Disney movie, Lady & The Tramp.

As I watched the movie I remembered that the first time I ever heard the story was on my Show N' Tell. You may be wondering "What is a Show N' Tell"? Well let me explain.

Back in 1966, for my 6th birthday, I was given this (what was then) "state of the art" audio visual toy. As you can see from the picture it had a screen, a record player, and a place to slide in a film strip.

It was made to look like a TV to keep the first generation being raised with this avenue of media as their prime entertainment source, interested because the shape and presentation was very familiar and comfortable.

Inside the cabinet the light was projected through the filmstrip guided by a beam narrowing lens, then widened through another lens and onto the screen. It was a very basic rear projection system. Using a marker, which you aligned in the center of the window on the top of the unit (it's the black square between the turntable and the filmstrip slot in the picture) you could coordinate the music or the narration of the record with the advancement of the scenes depicted on the filmstrip.

They synchronization was a mechanical process. Years later when the unit was broken and no longer worked I took it apart and saw how gears between the turntable and the filmstrip advancing mechanism made it work.

There were hundreds of Show N' Tell programs available. Inside each package was a record and a filmstrip. Each had a different story which was either educational or entertaining. There were lessons about geography, science, literature, and lots of other educational subjects. I had programs that taught me how to tell time, what clocks did, and the many kinds there have been throughout history.

There were Bible stories and classic Disney tales available as well. I had one about the nativity and called "The 4th Wiseman". And of course I had "Lady & The Tramp". I know I had other programs as well but I can't remember all of them.

I would sit, watch and listen to the programs over and over again for hours. I also memorized the words and songs on those records. They made such an impression on me I can still sing some of them today. I can sing the "Mr. Clock" song, and tell you the story of "Bumpy Brown and the Bingtown Big Brass band". The Show N' Tell also introduced me to classical music. It's where I first heard "I'm called Little Buttercup" from Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera, H.M.S Pinafore.

It also served as my introduction to playing, listening and enjoying records other than those that came with the programs. It gave me the ability to choose to listen to music on something other than the family stereo in our living room. This independence led me to wanting to be a DJ.

My Show N' Tell was one of my favorite toys I ever received as a kid. Because I got it when I was so young I sometimes forget about it. But every once in a while I'll remember it or recall a song I learned listening to it and remember all the cherished memories I having that gift.

As anyone who reads this blog or knows me at all knows one of the greatest pleasures of my life is remembering, and when possible, recapturing aspects of my childhood. Although I'll never be able to own one again the memories of my Show N' Tell will always be one of my favorite ways to remember being a kid.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Disney Dental Plan

Today my interest in Walt Disney World paid me some dividends, of all places, at the dentist's office. Here's what I mean.

My dentist and I share a common interest and love for Walt Disney World. We always have. I knew he was a fellow WDW fan from the moment I saw the copies of Disney Magazine in his waiting room when I first started going to him nearly 10 years ago.

Anyway whenever I go to see him we usually talk about something to do with Disney. Over the past few years I've loaned him books and tapes about Disney World that I thought he's enjoy.

Today I took him a copy of the book you see pictured to the left. I had recently ordered it from without realizing that I already had it and had read it a couple of years ago. So, once again knowing he'd like it I gave it him. I also gave him a CD of recordings of special guitar arrangements of Sherman Brother's song (aka some of the most popular Disney songs ever written).

He thanked me for them both and said he would take something off my bill as thanks. I told him he didn't have to do that. But as I was leaving the office billing clerk told me that Dr. Whitaker told her because I was so nice I would only have to pay for 1/2 the cost of the special "o" rings I had replaced in my partial while I was there. It saved me some money.

So there you have at least one time when my interest in Disney and Disney World was beneficial. Now you know that in a strange way today I used the Disney Dental Plan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tale of Two Courses

Haven't posted in a while so I thought I'd let you in on a most interesting development that happened to me today.

A few days ago in my February 8th post, that announced my plans to make a return trip to Walt Disney World in 4 years, I mentioned my plans to go to the International Puppet Festival which takes place near Chicago the first full week of July. It's an opportunity to spend a couple of days with some fellow Christian ventriloquists and those interested in puppet ministry as well as getting some training for improving my craft. Those are both very good things.

The festival runs for 5 1/2 days but unfortunately due to limitations on paid time off from work and the cost I would only be going for the last 2 1/2 days. It's a portion of the week referred to by the organizers as "Superfest".

As I calculated the cost (the registration fee for the festival, gas, lodging, food, spending money ect) I began to realize that it was going to be a rather sizable amount; close to $500. I wasn't sure if that was something I should do. I began to think about the last time I went in 2008. I reviewed in my mind the things I did, the people I met, and the effect it had on my life and my ministry.

Since the festival is for the most part a "Youth camp" type event for church groups who have a creative arts ministry (puppet, mime or interpretive dance ect.) and I was by myself and a late arrival (I only went for Superfest) I was pretty much a stranger among the participants. I remember feeling lonely most of the time I was there. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the classes but the fellowship I was looking. I really didn't make any friendships that lasted beyond the time I was there.

Anyway I began to ask myself if I was being selfish about wanting to go. You know, just wanting to be able to say I went. I know I wrote that I felt that God was leading me to go but after reconsidering the cost versus the return and or benefit I wasn't too sure that going would be an act of good stewardship.

But I also considered that my initial inclination that I was being led to go was still correct. Was I was limiting the possibility of God doing something in my life through the festival by my lack of faith based on past experience and potential personal discomfort? In effect I was feeling God moving me in the direction of going but was didn't believe He would do anything for my benefit while there. I was doubting God.

After some prayerful consideration I concluded that the "act of poor stewardship" argument was the right one. I decided that I was not going to go to "I-Fest".

Having made that decision I decided to take an alternative avenue to getting more education in ventriloquism. I ordered a ventriloquism course from the Maher school of ventriloquism (cost $80). This is a renowned course that has been around for years and has helped a lot of successful ventriloquists at the start of their careers. I've wanted to order it for a couple of years but just never "pulled the trigger" on it. So now it's ordered and I'm about $400 ahead of the game right?

After I ordered the Maher course I called the Super 8 hotel where I had already made reservations for 2 nights during the festival. Last time I went I had to find a hotel over 30 minutes away from the college campus where they held the festival because I waited too long to make lodging arrangements.

When I called the hotel to cancel the reservation I was told that I couldn't. The reason for this was because when I made the reservation online I did so at the "buy it now and save" type plan. The room charges have already been charged to my credit card and are not refundable. That was at a cost of over $110. So I quickly realized that if I don't go to I-Fest that money will be a total loss.
I prayed about it and had a change of heart again. Perhaps God really does want me to go because He has something special for me. Now I haven't gotten a direct confirming or denial "message" from God about this and it may be just me being uncertain again. It may be a big assumption on my part but at this point I have nothing to lose by going.

Once again, I am still going to I-fest in Chicago in July. I've even made plans to go to a Chicago White Sox game while I'm there. In addition the Maher course is coming my way.

So there you have the tale of my two courses. The ventriloquism course and the interesting course of how I became totally committed to going the International Festival of Christian Puppet Ministry and Ventriloquism.

It's still close to 20 weeks away but it's on my calendar. I've made my decision and I'm going. From now until then my constant prayer regarding my plans is going to be for God to work in my life and my heart to prepare me to expect something good to happen. Included in that prayer will also be a plea for Him to work on the condition of my faith so that I will believe that He's capable of doing amazing things even in situations where I haven't seen it before or don't think think He can or will.

Even if nothing does come out of going to I-Fest I want this situation to help me have stronger faith and in the future be able to have enough trust in Christ to believe that His sovereignty is sufficient for my life. Does that make sense?

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Anniversary For Angel

I know it's highly unusual for me to write 2 posts in the same day. But I couldn't let this day go by without mentioning the anniversary of a 2005 event that's brings adventure to our house and joy to our lives still today.

It was 5 years ago today that James, Brandi, Paula and I drove to Hardinsburg, Kentucky to adopt our new puppy, Angel.

At the time getting a 2nd dog was James' and Paula's idea. Dory, while a good dog, wasn't exactly the playful companion that James had anticipated. He wanted a puppy to play with and Paula wanted a "lap dog".I was against it and had to be convinced.

So after searching the internet for and finding a puppy who would be right for us on Saturday February12, 2005 we drove 2 hours northeast to adopt our new canine addition.

One of the key concerns for me in getting a puppy was the way Dory would react to it. Would she accept being the first of two dogs in the house or would she not accept the pup? Above you see a shot of one of their first initial moments together. You can almost see their eyes meeting. This is the moment that a "sisterhood" was formed.

It's now 5 years later and Angel is now more "my dog" than anyone's. James has moved to his own home and has 2 dogs of his own. Paula really loves Angel but over the last 5 years Angel's grown out of the realm of ever being the "lap dog" she originally wanted.

Angel is very loving, loyal and fun. She's also demands a lot of attention. Her and Dory have a sisterly bond that's as strong as any I've ever seen in a pair of pets. Angel, considers herself in charge of her sister and consistently chews on Dory's ears and does other things to show that she's never going to be the submissive little sister. Dory tolerates Angel's aggression but very emphatically let's her know when she's gone too far.

I love both of my dogs very much and they love me. Of course what's not to love about me. I feed them, and water them everyday. I give them treats, bones and baths. Two of those three things they really like. We walk together nearly every day and always have fun even if it's just sitting around doing nothing.

It's hard to believe but our little puppy, Angel, is now 5 years old. I would have to say that even though I didn't want a 2nd dog at the time we got her; I couldn't imagine life without her today. I consider her and Dory blessings from God.

Valentine's Day @ The Daycare.

As I mentioned in my last post, yesterday morning I went to the local daycare and did a Valentine's Day show for the preschool children there.

I brought along two of their favorite characters: Cecil the turtle and Lanolin the lamb.
This is a picture of Cecil and me as he sang one of the songs in the show.

The performance featured Valentine's Day cards, and a couple of songs about love. The kids really enjoyed it and I left them each with their own Valentine card "signed" by Cecil (a green paw print sticker) and a special gift of play dough for each of them to take home.

Although I'm doing very few public performances these days I really look forward to the opportunity to go visit and entertain the kids who spend their day at the local daycare.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beeler Avenue Bull

Today, some of my family and friends who live in the northeast are dealing with digging themselves out of over 18 inches of snow.
But here's something I'll be they 've never seen when they open their front door: A stray bull.

That's right, this bull got out of a near by pasture and was getting himself a drink of freshly melted snow from a puddle at the corner of the block not 100 yards from my house.

I was driving back from my ventriloquist performance at the local day care when I was met by this amazing sight.

After I stopped and took a couple of pictures I drove to my house and called the county police. I didn't see the animal again so I guess they got it out off the street and back where it belongs.

Talk about something you don't see every day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Vue from 88888 Miles

Here's a picture of the speedometer of my Vue taken on March 26, 2005, the day I bought it. It only had 346 miles.

The next time I drive it the odometer will turn over to 88,888. That means in 5 years (4 years 10 months and 15 days to be exact) I've driven it 88,542 miles. That's an average of nearly 50 miles per day.

It's gone to both Easton, Pennsylvania and Gatlinburg, Tennessee twice. It's been driven on the streets of cities such as: Atlanta; Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; Louisville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh; and, of course, Nashville.

I can't believe I've put that many miles on it. Can't wait to drive it another 11,112 and reach the 100,000 mark. I'm only a couple of payments away from paying it off too.

I'd like to list the places and events it's taken me to but that would be a very very long list. I guess I could make up a list and sing it to that Johnny Cash song, "I've been everywhere". But that's for another day.

Just didn't want to let the novelty of having an odometer that has 5 digits all the same go by without posting something about it. I really have been blessed by owning my Vue and I look forward to it taking me on even more vacations and adventures over the next 5 years.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Short Life Of My Superbowl Joke

Topical humor is difficult thing to work with. Late night talk show hosts make their living telling jokes based on the days headlines. The only thing is topical humor doesn't hold up for very long. You can't do Nixon or Regan jokes today because there's no point of reference for an audience. Topical jokes have a short laugh life.

On Sunday near the end of the Superbowl I came up with a very funny joke about Payton Manning. When I made it up I knew it was a good one. I also knew it was very topical. I understood from the beginning that I'd have to start telling it as much as possible before it lost it's edge.

Anyone I told it to had to know about a couple things: Payton's performance in the game, the interception he threw in the game, and Archie (Payton's father) Manning's career as the quarterback on some terrible losing Saints teams. Knowing those things helped the joke make sense thus making it funny. Here's the joke:

When Payton Manning threw the interception in the Superbowl he did something his father was never able to do. He helped the Saints win the Superbowl.

If I must say so myself, that's funny.

All day Monday I told it to everyone. I even posted it to my Facebook page. Writing a joke like that is like having a new picture of your kids in your wallet. You are so proud and want to share it with everyone.

Still two days after the Superbowl the joke isn't going to get the same reaction it did right after the game. The emotion invested in the game, and thus the joke's subsequent humor, has faded.

Topical humor, in a stand up act or on a talk show monologue, requires staying on the cutting edge of current events and constantly coming up with new material. That's not something I can do on a consistent basis. Leno and Letterman (and their writers) are great at it.

As evidenced by my Superbowl joke I do come up with the occasional topical joke. However it's much easier for me to write jokes about ironic things I see or specific situations because that holds up for more than a day or two. They give me what I call "stock material".

While I do enjoy topical material knowing that there is consistent "laugh potential" in my ventriloquist act and my everyday humor helps me be more comfortable when it comes time to perform.

So I just want to acknowledge my Superbowl joke one more time. I want to thank it for the pleasure it gave me even if it was for just a day or so. Years from now when I try to tell it to my grand children it's only gonna be a punchline they won't understand.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Return Decision

Today is the day after the Superbowl. It's the day when a new version of an iconic TV commercial starts to run on network television. This year it's Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback and Superbowl MVP, just moments after winning the big game looking into the camera announcing that he plans to go visit Mickey Mouse and friends at their theme park in Orlando.

So in the tradition of that commercial and with some poetic license today I would like to make an announcement of my own: "I'm Going Back to Disney World!"

This Disney declaration probably doesn't come as a surprise to some of you and may raise some questions about me for others. Let me clarify my statement. I plan on going back to Disney World again but not until 2014. The decision to go back is a result of the freedom that has come with my spiritual growth over the last couple of years.

The process of how I've gone from an attitude of "I'm not going to give Disney World any more of my money" to planing to return has been guided by the active work of God in my life. However it's much too lengthy and detailed to include in this blog. It's only part of my testimony of how I've learned about the person God wants me to be. This has happened by studying His word. Over the past couple of years I've grown in my relationship with Jesus. I can explain it a lot better verbally than in writing. Feel free to ask me about it anytime.

Let's face it a Disney World Vacation costs a lot. Although I never actually added up the total cost of our 2004 trip (my wife didn't want to know) a conservative estimate for my family of 4 would have to be at least $1000 each. I can't for the life of me understand how the people I've met on on internet forums, and podcasts can afford to go every year. Some go several times a year or more.

The only way I can justify such an expensive vacation is if it's something that only happens occasionally. That's why I'm waiting until the 10th anniversary of our first trip to go back. This way I can save in relatively small increments over time and it's paid for when we go. This type of approach to such an expense is scriptural because there is no debt and it is subordinate to the giving of tithes and offerings. I'm doing my best to follow The Lord's leading when it comes to when and how much he wants us to be giving.

Now before settling on my decision to go back to Disney World I had to ask myself a few questions:

Am I willing to give up the idea of the trip if God requires the money I've saved for use somewhere else? The answer to that is "yes". As a matter of fact I don't plan on starting to save for the trip until after I get back from I-fest this summer.

I-fest is an annual gathering of Christians in the puppet ministry that takes place outside Chicago. It offers classes taught by some of the top ventriloquist in Christian ministry. There's also fellowship with those committed to the ministry just like I am. Both of those are things I really need right now. As part of commitment to the ministry God has led me to I will be saving to pay for I-fest before I start saving for a return trip to "the world".

The other question I had to ask was "Am I stepping back in to sinful behavior by becoming too involved with Disney again? (See December 4, 2009 post: Dancing with Disney). Unlike the last time I decided to go I know for a fact that my interest Disney will never ever again take the place of my love and commitment to Christ. God is the Lord of my life. There is no one or nothing that comes before him. If there is ever anything in my life that even hints of becoming a god to me before the True God I will remove from my life without hesitation.

So there you have it; my version of a post Superbowl commercial. God willing I plan on going back to visit Mickey & his friends in Orlando 10 years after our first trip. It's a long time from now and a lot could happen before then. Still I'm planning ahead for my 2nd vacation of a lifetime.

Also I'm not putting any other of our other vacation plans on hold just to save for this trip. We're planning on taking vacations to Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon sometime in the next couple of years.

So now it's "official". I've made a public declaration. As I continue to be a steward of the financial blessings God has given me in accordance with His commandments in the scriptures; I have the freedom to look once again toward going to Disney World. At least that's the plan for now.

And just in case you missed it. Here's link to the video of this year's commercial

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sweatin' Memories

This past Friday, because of the rainy weather I couldn't walk outside. I still needed to exercise. I decided to do something I hadn't done in a long time. I did an aerobics workout.

Don't gasp, laugh, or file a motion to have my "man card" revoked. The DVD I put in the player was "Sweatin' To The Oldies3". I like all of Richard Simmon's "Sweatin" series. They are the exercise DVDs that have always been the most fun for me; mostly because of the music. I actually own 4 on DVD and about a dozen on VHS. The tapes are currently being converted to DVD for me by my brother-in-law.

For the first time in 5, maybe 6, years I exercised to some of my favorite songs from the 60's for about 50 minutes.

Not only did I get the exercise I needed from the "Sweatin" DVD it brought to mind some of my favorite people. Richard Simmons' exercise DVDs has been as much a part of my effort to lose weight over the years as counting calories or limiting carbohydrates.

Back in the 90's when my sisters and I formed our own weight loss group, Sweatin To The Oldies 2 & 3 were our "official" workout videos.

At one point I created and edited them (on VHS tape at the time) to the length we needed them to be. I even made up a "best of" tape of our favorite songs and routines to use as well. Because of the brand emblem on the tape's label we called it "the 'V' tape".

So Friday, as I exercised with the people on the DVD I was remembering all the fun my sisters, some of our friends, and I use to have doing the same thing. I was also though of my friend, Mary, who lives in California. Her daughter, Carol Lee, was actually in the "Groovin In The House" video. She's a big Richard Simmons fan and has actually been to his exercise studio, Slimmons in Los Angeles.

I was surprised to discover that the workout was a bit difficult for me, at first. I realized that I'm not as agile as I used to be. I was tired afterward and my knees hurt even throughout the next day.

But now that I've started up again I'm going to try and keep aerobics in my exercise routing at least once a week. I hope it increases my stamina and flexibility as well as helps to get me to my weight loss goal.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stepping Back Into Fellowship

Yesterday I went to visit my friend and Christian Brother, Ben. For the past year or so he's been busy doing something I'll never even attempt to do. He's been building a new house for his family.

In December 2008 he and his wife broke ground for the foundation of their new domicile on lot on their 40 acre property that's within view of their current home, the sight of Ben's childhood home, and his father's farm.

Ben works full time and then some on this house. Except for the framework and the plumbing, he's built or constructed just everything in it. His wife, Debbie, puts her time in as well. They have really done a great job with their already amazing, soon to be wonderful home.

Ben and I have been friends for about 5 years. I refer to him as my "baseball buddy". Over the course of our friendship he has gone with me to see Louisville Slugger museum in Louisville, the Reds in Cincinnati, the Pirates in Pittsburgh, and the Braves in Atlanta. We didn't go to a game together last year. Hopefully we can resume our "tradition" of going to the ballpark for my birthday this year.

The different path our lives have taken this last year or so has kept us from being as close as we have been in the past. He has been busy with his house and I have been busy preparing for and recovering from my surgery. We've kind of lost touch. Hopefully, this visit has started a course correction for our friendship.

For me this visit wasn't just a trip to see the progress Ben's been making with his house. It was the start of getting back a friendship that I've missed having in my life. My relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ who go to my church is very important to me. God has commanded that I fellowship and love them as He loves them.

I have allowed my situation with my job and work hours over the last 13 months or so, keep me away from church. That's really not that big a deal. When it comes to growing in my relationship with Christ. Despite limited church attendance I've grown over this past year through reading scripture, books and listening to sermons on CD or on my MP3 player. God has really blessed me in that aspect of our relationship.

The real sin in distancing myself from church is that I don't fellowship and cultivate my relationships with the other members of the church. Loving and serving the the body of Christ (aka the people of the church) is a priority for us as commanded by Christ. There are plenty of scriptures in the New Testament that emphasize that being actively involved with fellow Christians this is one of the most important parts of serving The Lord. Selfishly I have not been doing that.

Therefore I have decided that its time to move myself back into obedience. I've got to return to being part of the "flock" and not a stray sheep. I can't rebelliously believe that I am exempt from the requirement to love and serve my fellow Christian simply because of my work hours and other things.

My visit with Ben is my first step in repentance from my sin ways and returning to being part of my church fellowship once again. Thank You Lord for showing me my sinful ways and bringing me to a place where I desire to be obedient to you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Channel Lost & "Lost" Returned

Tuesday was a bittersweet day for my future TV watching. First of all my cable company, Insight Communications, made the decision to discontinue the availability of the Game Show Network (GSN) to its customers.

The feedback they received from it must have been extensive because when I called to complain there was a special recorded message explaining the economic reasons for the decision.

Seems the "wise" programming decision makers at Insight made the change because of the cost of the cost to the company to import the GSN signal. Of course those extra costs would have to be passed on to the customer. So in the interest of not increasing our price for cable the decision was made arbitrarily to stop carrying GSN on the cable system. Well thank you for making that decision for me. Goodness knows I wouldn't have been able to make that decision for myself.

I know it's only a TV channel but I really enjoyed GSN. It really helped me get through the time I was unemployed. It brought back a lot of my old TV game show friends. Hosts like: Dick Clark, Gene Rayburn Bill Cullen Burt Convey, and Tom Kennedy. I got to revisit with the celebrity panelists from shows like: The Match Game, $100,000 Pyramid and Password.

While only a peripheral element in my TV time since I've been back to working on the day shift GSN was still always (much to the dismay of my wife) my "go to" channel when nothing else was on.

Well I guess I can't fight the cable company so I'm just going to have to learn to live without the Game Show Network. I will miss it.

The good news about Tuesday is that my favorite show, ABC's "Lost" returned for its 6th and final season. I have been waiting since last May for this. The show is one of the most intriguing and engaging programs I've ever seen on TV. It's mystery, continuous plot twists, conflicts, romantic triangles and character development has kept me interested since I first started watching it back in 2005.

The 2 hour premiere answered some of the cliff hanger questions asked the ending of last season as well as some of the long running ones from seasons past. But just like "Lost" always does, it also spawned many new ones.

There's some kind of parallel timeline running now and I'm not sure what it means. I guess that's the issue that's going to be the main plot this season. Then there's the newly discovered Temple and it's group of leaders who live behind a large fortress of a wall in fear of "the smoke monster." That story line reminds me a lot of the native village in the movie "King Kong".

Anyway I'm glad that "Lost" is back and that I have a TV show to look forward to enjoying every week at least for 24 more episodes.

So I guess Al Burton, Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke were right when they wrote the Theme to the old NBC sit com. "You take the good and you take the bad. You take them both and there you have the facts of life"

Let me conclude this post by suggesting you get a mental picture of Dana Carvey from Saturday Night Live doing his best impression of President George Bush (the first one) as he's saying these words:
"Losing Game Show Network, BAD! Having "Lost" back on the air GOOD!"

Will my life change much because of either of these events? No, it's just television. Will I be in a bad mood because I can't see Family Fued or Match Game any more? I could but let me bring back Dana Carvey as President Bush to your mind again as I end by replying:
"Not Gonna Do It!"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Travel Log From A Turtle

A Message From Ron: Today I'm doing something I've never done before I'm letting another writer post on my blog. Today's "guest" blogger is my turtle puppet, Cecil.

"Hey Everyone!. It's me Cecil T. Turtle. Ron is busy with other things today so I thought I'd take a shot at writing his blog post.

I just got back from a trip to the puppet spa. I had to go to visit Steve Axtel and his staff at Axtel Expressions in Ventura, California.

You see my short little little legs which are made of felt like material had come loose from the inside of my latex shell. I was afraid that I'd eventually move the wrong way and give myself a "legectomy". Whoever heard of a 3 legged turtle. I sounds like the start of a joke.

Also some of the painted markings on the back of my head (you can't see them in my picture) came off when Ron removed the duct tape he used to keep my Santa hat on my this past Christmas.

It wasn't a very pleasurable trip there and back. I went by UPS sealed up in a box both ways. But my time with the Axtel Expressions people was terrific. They were so nice and gentle with me. Using a little glue and some air brushed paint they and got me looking spiffy and new again. My relaxing California vacation cost less than the price of a ticket to Disneyland.

It's nice to travel but it's great to be home. I'm back and ready to help Ron with his ventriloquist act again. I hope from now on he remembers, no duct tape!.