Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Gift of Family Inclusion

With the Christmas season underway, I thought I'd share one of my favorite gift-giving stories. While I received the gift, this story serves only to praise and thank the giver.

It happened right after Christmas two years ago...


Immediate response.

Real time reactions.

Boy those are great! Some of you might not agree, but then again, you may have the luxury of working in an environment where you are afforded the instant feedback that signals "a job well done" or "I'm not following you". Public speaking is one of such occupations. Teaching is another.

Broadcast Meteorology is not.

Now, don't think I'm forgetting about my good friend e-mail or his older cousin the telephone. These little dandies are great for almost real time communication, but they aren't quite real time. Someone has to first type the message or must first locate your phone number and dial to let you know that, "you couldn't be more wrong on the forecast today, Loser". These media have indeed been used to give me feedback, but I often wonder if what I do makes a difference to the people from whom I don't hear. Well, someone answered that question yesterday.

As I was coming off the set from doing cut-ins, a nose and pair of eyes peered over the studio divisor from the newsroom. Not long after, a muddled, high-pitched male voice filtered through and over the particle board wall.

"Hey James, I have a gift for you back here", Steven declared.

I walked around the studio, through the very cold garage...don't ask, it's small market television...and into the newsroom. Five reporters scurried past and almost knocked me over in a mad dash for batteries, cameras, tapes, and the rest of their regalia before hitting the streets and calling their beats. I stepped to the producer’s desk where a large box and a plastic bag sat. Nick sat behind them, barely visible.

"This was dropped off Friday before Christmas during the 5 O’clock show. This guy said that his mother, his wife, and his niece made this for you. They all love the Bonnie Belles commercial you did and they all think you have an honest face. They watch every morning and think you're great."

I opened the bag. Misjudging the size and weight of the contents, I dropped the box on the floor. As I unraveled the dark blue mass, a blanket began to emerge. Marrie, seeing that it was bigger than I had bargained for, grabbed a corner and helped me open it up.

This was no blanket. This was a handmade quilt!

This thing is heavy, gi-normous and everything a quilt is supposed to be! Whoever made this thing is gonna get a huge thank you! I searched for a card and found it towards the bottom of the bag. It had stuck to some of the packaging tape.

Hold the phone! The card was signed but only with first names. CRAP! I'm never going to know whom to thank for this great display of family inclusion. There are no last names, no phone numbers, no addresses, no city names...nothing! Well, what do TV people do when they need to send out a message? They use the TV, of course!

So, yesterday on our noon show, I displayed the quilt and told the story behind its arrival here and offered a sincere "thank you" to its makers. Everyone on the noon show staff was awe struck at the detail and handiwork apparent by the stitching of tangible love. I was so proud of my station and the work we do and the ability we have to touch people in a meaningful way. However, I couldn't help but be utterly disappointed that I'd never be able to thank the individuals responsible for my joy.

This morning, an electronic message arrived in my inbox. The daughter-in-law of the quilter saw our noon show and wished to answer my request. So thank you, Betty of Buckhannon, for your masterful skill and your heart of gold. Thank you for your steady hands and the gift of your time. Thank you for the place in your heart I hold and thank you for the piece of your heart I have the honor to hold close forever!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Possible Fix for the Broken BCS

...and we all know it needs fixing!

Crowning the national champion in college football is too important to be throwing the process at the mercy of the BCS. Their system, whose main goal is to pit #1 and #2 teams in the deciding game at the end of the season, has generated more questions than answers. This season should serve as the final wake-up call to conference commissioners, bowl presidents et al that a playoff is the only way to decide who the best team in college football really is.

This guy just might have the right playoff formula in mind. His brain-child is a 16 team playoff featuring the conference champions of all 11 conferences (yep...all 11) with 5 at-large teams making the bid for a "chance to dance".

This is what the bracket would look like if Dan Wetzel's dream came true this year.

Can you imagine a line-up like this to look forward to?

Dan goes into detail on what would happen to the bowl games, home field advantage, scheduling, the need for conference championship games across the board and much more! Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Think We're on to Something?

I think so but sadly most of America will turn a blind eye to this.

I quickly glanced over this headline during my jaunt through this morning.

Oil falls under $98 amid talk of supply boost from OPEC
Oil futures fell Monday on a widening belief that OPEC ministers will agree to raise crude production during a meeting next week.

Oil continued to flirt with $100 a barrel Monday. But after peaking at $99.11 per barrel during the day Monday, West Texas Intermediate, also known as light, sweet crude, for delivery in January closed Nymex trading in New York at $97.70. That's a 48-cent retreat from a record $98.18 Friday. It continued to slide in worldwide electronic trading afterward, and was $96.90 when the Monday electronic session ended at 5:15 p.m. ET.

As I pondered what I'm having to pay at the pump and how often I have to pay it, my mind started down a path of financial freedom.

It seems that if crude production is increased, the price of sweet crude will drop. Hmmm. What if we stopped buying crude from Middle Eastern interests and drilled for our own? This would relieve us from our dependence on foreign oil all together (a dependence that increased by as much as 60% under the Clinton Administration).

I started to make more sense. I was feeling brave.

How about coming to grips with the cleanest and safest form of energy known to man...nuclear power! The benefits to the country and her people would abound if a major push for nuclear energy was instituted by utilities producers.

Just as it was all beginning to click, enter the lemon-squeezing, tree-hugging morons on TV. Thanks for interrupting my inner-monologue, ya Jerkface!

Nah, why would we waste our efforts drilling for our own stash! There are better ways to channel that energy. We have a populous to scare! Remember, drilling generates massive amounts of irreversible environmental and ecological damage the likes of which the Earth hasn't known since the meteor impact that killed off the dinosaurs!

Oh, better yet. We can get all of our activist buddies in Hollywood to shame American corporations into making "green" en vogue business practices. What a great way to show that corporate America, "cares". Ah, just think of all the CO2 emissions we'd prevent!

No, I've got it! Let's tie up any and all efforts to build new oil refineries! The ones we have now have been running great for 30 years! What we need is LESS refining capacity! We'll show those greedy, Big Oil tycoons that we mean business. We'll take their profits and tax the living daylights out of them until they come crying on their hands and knees begging forgiveness from Mother Earth. Down with Big Oil! Up with Prius!

Role playing aside folks, oil prices are high for a myriad of reasons. Political unrest, increased industrial demand from China, OPEC mandates, national and state import tax, refining cost, stresses of a global market etc. all factor into what we're having to pay at the pump.

The best and most effective remedy I can see is for Americans to get off of this drug called foreign oil. Plain and simple. While no one resource will be the magic cure-all, alternatives to high-priced energy are within our reach. Heck, they are within our own borders!

If I have my own oil, I don't have to get it from someone else...

I Think I'm on to something!

Note: photo courtesy Scott Teven

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Planned Parenthood Survey Doesn't Jive

About ten years ago, a study was published titled, "Why Women Have Abortions: Evidence from 27 Countries.

Planned Parenthood is the "parent organization" for the group who sponsored the study and reported its findings -- International Family Planning Perspectives.

You know as well as I do that Planned Parenthood stands as a proponent for Roe vs. Wade and makes abortions possible for many women each year. What I find fascinating is that, while Planned Parenthood makes every effort to explain that abortion is necessary mainly for the health of the mother, their own findings show that only 4% of women from those 27 countries who had abortions say that it was to preserve their health (another 2% said that it was because the child would have had a birth defect).

What shocks me even further is that the vast majority of the nearly 65,000 women surveyed said the main reason for their abortions was because they didn't want anymore children. So they're using abortion as birth control? Are there no other alternatives for unwanted children besides killing them?

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) [otherwise known as Laci's Bill] was passed into law and recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." Yet in the same piece of legislation expressly excludes protection from abortions.

Now, law is well beyond my area of expertise but I am a thinker. How can abortion, as a legal practice, be allowed to coexist with this federal law that protects children in utero from violent crimes which cause injury and death?

Furthermore, how can the government recognize a fetus as "a child in utero" in one instance, yet stand by and allow its destruction because "it isn't life"?

Heck, even John Kerry doesn't get it.

"I have serious concerns about this legislation {Laci's Bill}
because the law cannot simultaneously provide that a fetus is a human being and
protect the right of the mother to choose to terminate her pregnancy."

Therefore, it is my position that abortion is against the Constitution which seeks to protect life...a term that federal law now includes children in utero.

I do, however, see only one way to appease both sides of this polarizing issue. Legislation will have to be put in place that makes abortion illegal unless the mother would certainly die without it. I stand in opposition to any and all abortions but would accept this move as a victory for life as well as liberty.

Editor's Note: At a later date, I'd like to go deeper into the science of life and go point-by-point to try to define children in the womb as not only "alive" but "Human Life".

Monday, November 19, 2007

What You Wouldn't Expect

On the way home from work this evening, I heard some guys on the local ESPN station yappin' about the possible scenarios for Ohio State to get into the BCS Championship game. While it is true that if West Virginia, Missouri, and Kansas all lose Ohio State could be ranked #2 by season's end...I just hope it doesn't happen.

Yes, you read that right. I hope Ohio State does NOT play for the national championship on January 8.

Why? I'll give you two main reasons with sub-reasons mixed in for good measure.

1). Their Schedule

Of the 12 teams they played this year, 3 (Big Ten teams) were unranked, two of them are in the MAC, and 1 is a division II school.

At no point did OSU play a team ranked higher than 20th in the BCS rankings. Their toughest opponents were (in ascending order) Purdue, Michigan State (only because of turnovers), Wisconsin, Michigan and of course Illinois. All lost by 16, 7, 21, 11 points respectively save for the Fighting Illini. Penn State was no test at all (lost by 20) and the Northwestern Wildcats were kidnapped before game time and replaced by the South Korean Soccer Team...whom they promptly beat by 51(Since when does a Jim Tressel team beat ANYONE by 51).

The Big Ten is going through some rough times right now what with Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and, to an extent, Penn State and Purdue all having rather disappointing seasons. While the future of the conference is looking brighter thanks to the resurgence of Illinois and Wisconsin, the recent surge from long time whipping-boys Indiana and a few strong showings late in the season from Northwestern -- it still has a long way to go before it can ever hope to climb back into the discussion as one of the top two conferences in college football.

Fact: It isn't Ohio State's fault the Big Ten had a downer year.

Also Fact: ...but it didn't help boost their legitimacy in the eyes of the voters either.

2). Better Teams Exist

When you get to stand on the mountain as King of College Football, you should be rather confident in proclaiming that you are the nation's best team. While the Buckeyes may be ascending to the pinnacle (I did not say climbing*), they cannot say with any degree of certainty that they are, without question, the best team in the country.

To prove this assertion, I will list the teams that most likely would beat OSU were they to be matched up one-on-one. [Do remember that I bleed Scarlet and Gray]

They are, in no particular order:

LSU has demonstrated a very clear dominance on the field. To be able to go through their tough SEC schedule with only 1 loss speaks volumes. Flynn is not a quarterback who can consistently beat you with his feet, but throws an accurate ball and makes good decisions. Dorsey has proven himself to be down right dominant on the D-line, even with his knee injury. I'm not even going to get into their backfield.

OSU vs. LSU: Ohio State would hang tough through the half, but would wear down half way through the 3rd quarter.

The Florida Gators have three losses. So what. Tim Tebow, this year's Heisman-elect, is just as dangerous (if not more so) this year as he was last year. Ohio State would have no problems with staying motivated for this game and wouldn't dare let themselves tire out but have no answer for a legitimate dual-threat quarterback.

OSU vs. Florida: It would be closer than last year's NC game, but the result would be the same.

When Illinois danced a jig out the Horseshoe this year, it wasn't so much a celebration of what they had accomplished as it was a celebration of where that program is headed. Coach Ron Zook has gotten his team united. Juice Williams has bought into what Zook is trying to do in Champaign and it has rubbed off onto the rest of the players. As their successful recruiting continues, so will the habit of winning games.

OSU vs. The Fighting Illini: This game would be a 10-14 point win for U of I.

This was much more of a lock when Sam Bradford was healthy but I still think that this team has everything going for it. Without Bradford I'm not so sure that the Buckeyes would lose this game but considering that the NC game isn't for another 50 some days yet, the quarterback situation will take care of itself. Time has a knack for healing wounds.

OSU vs. OU: Relying on their defense to hold down the air attack, the Bucks would kill themselves on Pass Interference penalties. Advantage OU.

I had to listen to a bunch of yahoos prematurely elevate WVU to "Could beat OSU" status four years ago when Rasheed Marshall was still flinging the pigskin. I threw up in my mouth every time someone wearing an Eers t-shirt came up to me and started flappin' his jaws. Not so this year. Pat White is a smaller, yet butterfingered, version of Tim Tebow and would keep the defense on their heels all night. And when he got tired, he could always hand the ball off to Schmitt, Devine, or Slaton. Oh, yea...and he could throw it too.

OSU vs. WVU: Scary. Think Florida in last year's National Championship Game.

For more than obvious health reasons, it is too bad Dennis Dixon is out for the rest of the season. Without him on the roster, Oregon loses all of its heart. I was going to omit the Ducks from this list but they have been a high-energy offensive powerhouse all year long. It would be no different save for Dennis' unfortunate injury.

OSU vs Oregon: Dixon successfully executes 2 Statue of Liberty's against a defense that is a pushover for dual-threat quarterbacks.


Thanks to a stronger Big Ten and a trip to USC for game 3, next year's squad will be a true contender for the BCS championship...just not this year.

(*climbing refers to earning their way to the top. Ascending alludes to being helped by other teams losing and making way for an unworthy team.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

10 Things I learned in Bible School

Way back when I thought Youth Ministry was going to be my calling in life, I started reading the works of Robert Fulghum who most notably wrote, "Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten". Robert has a way of boiling down what so many people see as complicated and cumbersome. Reflecting on the innocent days of yester-year, he sums life up into several small reminders that he learned when he was just 5 years old.

Some of his jewels were:

  • When crossing the street, hold hands.
  • Share. Remember, everyone wants a turn.
  • Say you're sorry.
  • Take a nap in the afternoon.

I enjoyed how he simplified life's lessons so perfectly and it made me believe I could do the same when relating the Christian life to a bunch of teenagers.

Upon discovering that Fulghum gave up on church and religion as a whole, however, I was advised by my supervising instuctor to choose another source of literary inspiration. While my focus went elsewhere to find more spiritual writings, I couldn't help but appreciate Robert's style. So what if he didn't like God or believe in Jesus, his words were no less true about our human experience here on earth and how we should treat others.

So, inspired by Robert Fulghum, I have come up with this list of ten things I experienced in Bible School. My snipits have a more "churchy" twist to them obviously but they still follow the basic principle of reaching back from yester-year to pull forward some pearls of wisdom. These pearls just happen to come from the gates of seen by a kid who grew up going to church all his life.


1. "Jesus Loves Me" only has one verse. If you are an older kid, then you get to learn the second verse. Only during a song service on Sunday night will you get to sing the ultra-secret third verse.

2. I have no idea how Paul, Peter, and Jesus stick to the flannel board because Lord knows it isn't Velcro.

3. If you want to be popular, get first, second, or third place on the attendance chart! Get any lower than that and you might as well be eating paste with Jeremy in the corner.

4. Your real teacher is the one you have on Sunday mornings. Pay no attention to the lady in your class on Wednesday nights.

5. You're not allowed to play after church up there where the preacher stands. It's holy.

6. Puppets are cool unless your teacher is 75 and suffers from short term memory loss. Then, it's a lesson in endurance.

7. If mom drags you out of class angry and shouting, she'll bring you back red and sniffing.

8. There is no use protesting when Kelly gets a Bible sticker on the chart even though all she brought was her New Testament.

9. The first song you learn to harmonize to is "Blue Skies and Rainbows".

10. Visitors are like Santa Claus. You believe in them even though you've never seen them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

In a Class by itself

My wife has to travel on a two-lane country road nearly 100 miles one way to get to work everyday. While this is not the ideal situation for the future of our life, it is what needs to be done for now so that we both may stay gainfully employed. DINK (Dual Income - No Kids) life certainly has advantages so if you can swing it, give it a whirl.

Every morning and evening she passes though many one-horse, farming, or Amish communities. I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about. One church house, a single municipal building of some sort, a dozen or so homes, and, if you are lucky, a gas station/grocery store. There are plenty of them along rural two-lanes in middle America.

One such village has a gas station/air field/car dealership/truck stop/restaurant establishment. The most unique we've ever seen. We often joke about stopping in for a bite on those occasions when I've gone to school with her and we're on our way home for the day. She's always been the one to offer and I've been the one to turn it down...I mean the menu is probably as mixed up as the joint itself!

Tonight, we decided to stop on in and finally have a look around. Needless to say, I didn't have very high expectations when we pulled in. "Here we go", I thought. "Greasy spoon meants convenient store with just a smidge of diesel fumes". My wife had slipped into super optimistic mode and gleefully walked through the front doors inviting the new sights and sounds. She always seems to get this way exactly when I've decided to switch into wet blanket man and dismiss everything around me.

We are greeted warmly by the working water wheel, delightfully homey music, and the lovely smile of a 65+ year old woman you swore was your neighbor's grandmother. "This isn't half bad", I thought, giving the place a chance. We were promptly seated after a quick jont to take stock of their buffet. We were glancing through the menu when I spotted it. In my 29 years of eating I'd never seen anything like it on any menu anywhere in the world.

"On Grace...

We do not feel at liberty to suggest a certain prayer to you. We do, however, agree that a heartfelt, genuine, and meaningful prayer from you as an individual will be most appropriate and effective. We, at the Plaza Inn, thank you."

At first I thought, "Wow...look at them taking a stand for prayer. Hmmm. That takes guts in today's world". But upon further examination, and another read through, I found that they weren't standing for prayer. Rather, they were asking you to refrain from a full-table prayer.

Still not quite sure how I feel about that. After all, their restaurant - their rules. If you don't like it, you can choose to eat elsewhere.

On the other hand, should you as a business owner take the risk of offending customers by telling them how to pray when there aren't very many to be had in such a small town?

Either way you choose to look at it, I'd never seen anything like it before. It truely set the Plaza Inn in a class by itself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When to speak...and when not to.

I think I have chosen wisely.

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite thing on this earth, besides my relationship with family and friends, is following my Ohio State Buckeye football team. I was born in Columbus; quite literally in the shadow of the Horseshoe. I've followed the team intensely for almost 10 years now. The screen saver on my computer has said "Ohio State...YOUR 2002 National Champions" since the day I bought it. My loyalty to OSU is so consuming that I refuse to claim allegiance to any professional sports team.

Cameron Clark once wrote about what it takes to be a true fan. Among a few other items on his short list, he said you know you are a real fan when you physically hurt after your team loses. You carry that sadness around with you for hours even days after your team suffers a defeat. Cameron, as he is so often, is right. I felt that way when the Fighting Illini came into our back yard last Saturday and embarrassed THE Ohio State Buckeyes in front of a national audience.

Gone are the dreams of returning to the BCS National Championship game to possibly avenge another embarrassment suffered at the hands of the Florida Gators last year in Glendale, AZ.

Lost is the hope of another unbeaten regular season.

Deflated is the aim of showing the nation that the Big Ten is still a tough conference filled with blue-chip talent and superior coaching.

Yep, last Saturday I didn't feel anything like I do now - thankful!

Illinois did the Big Ten AND Ohio State a big favor by winning that game.

Let's be honest here. I love my team, but seriously! Watching the Buckeyes climb the rankings by default week after week made me uneasy. Sure, Todd Boeckman was throwing the deep ball pretty well and Chris "Beanie" Wells was running down people's throats, but something just didn't feel right.

Should they be this highly ranked so soon?

Didn't we just see this?

Do I really want to see another inflated Buckeye team get to the National Championship only to get trounced by a wholly better squad?

No way!

The Buckeyes started their 2007 campaign needing to answer two question marks that are their NFL-depleted offense and a defense that got lazy by late November. It never really happened.

They were never tested as a team. They looked better than they really were because of their incredibly lax non-conference schedule (Youngstown St., Akron, Kent State, and Washington) and a cake-walk for the first half of their Big Ten schedule (no opponents ranked in the BCS when they played).

Here's the truth about this year's installment of the Scarlet and Gray.

Ohio State plays in a conference that is going through some rough times. While it's not OSU's fault that the Big Ten is a Big Joke right now, blasting cupcake teams does not a good measuring stick make! It's to the point where if you don't win the conference title outright most years, something is terribly wrong!

They lost a great amount of team speed and offensive firepower when Smith, Ginn, Gonzalez, and Pittman left for the NFL last year. This year's version of offense needs this year to get a real pattern going. They are sporadic at best, disappointing at worst. This was an admitted rebuilding year, it just didn't bite them in the butt until now.

The defense faced a legitimate dual-threat quarterback in Isaiah "Juice" Williams for the first time this season and it showed. It is not impossible to stop a mobile quarterback in college football, it just looked that way on November 10. And let's not forget the last time the Buckeyes faced a legitimate dual-threat we remember how that one turned out? Tim Tebow (and Chris Leak) chomped Ohio State to the tune of 41-14 in the BCS Championship game.

I've been leery of the validity of my team's success all season long. My closest friends will note that I've not been keeping a running, online tally of weekly game stats and team news like I have in years past. You've not heard me tout so-and-so for a Heisman. I've done no trash talking this season (well, except to those pour Michigan fans...and they deserve it). There are no guts in existence big enough to allow me to spout off about how impressive the Big Ten has been.

We still have to face Michigan in THE Game so we'll see what happens. I'm picking the Good Guys by 7 which would put us in the Rose Bowl to likely face Arizona State if Oregon wins out (please, for the love of God, win out).


This true fan will keep his O-H-I-O mouth closed.

I think I have chosen wisely.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm lucky

Technically, I've never lost anyone close to me.

David was an only child who had been emotionally torn apart by his parents' divorce at a young age. So when he decided to latch on to you, the friendship ran deeper. Ours was a brotherhood and it became so in a very short time.

We were very close friends from about the fifth grade on through high school. We lived in the same town, went to school and church together, he and his mother even lived with us while they were house hunting. We were Hawkeye and BJ.

We did just about everything together, even the stuff that young and mischievous teens aren't supposed to do (read: egg peoples houses, skip school, make youth leaders cry). Oh, and then there was the wrestling!

Before Fantasy sports became popular, we had started a grass roots fantasy wrestling federation complete with more than 50 characters, homemade championship belts (from poster board), year-long story lines involving multiple characters, monthly "pay-per-view" events, the whole schmere!

We did it all as real as we could. We would wrestle each other - picking theme music and costumes - and every match we played the different characters true to their persona, signature moves, to our pre-set story lines. We had so much fun knocking each other with metal chairs and running each other into steel cages (the steel cages were the metal bases of his bunk beds)!

The submission moves we did for real. Yes, most of them hurt. The big power moves, we also did for real. Yes, those are scary and some of them hurt, but I'd have to say that those years spent as hardcore wrestling fanatics were the happiest of my childhood. I have him to thank for that. I'll never forget David, nor the amount of hours we joyfully poured ourselves into emulating the antics of those modern day television gladiators.

Sadly, after I moved to New Orleans before our senior year of high school, David lost touch of the important things. Gone were the innocent days of adolescent rabble-rousing. Instead, he got into very bad things and became familiar with very bad people and before long had submersed himself in what they were doing - and what they were selling. More and more the David I knew was being replaced by a dark and distant stranger.

Involved in drugs and living in filth, my friend was lost in hopelessness. I tried to get him to recognize his situation - to snap out of it- but he was stubborn. When I told him he was better than this he said that he didn't see a point in walking the straight and narrow when the person helping him stay there had moved away.

I never believed that. Honestly, I don't think he believed it either.

It was then that, inside, I said goodbye to my friend. I washed my hands of him in hopes that he would get his life back in order.

Years passed.

I was getting ready to go on-air one morning when the phone rang. It was my sister. She sounded deflated. Somber. I knew something was wrong. She had just been told that David had a seizure and hit his head on the bathroom sink. With no one else home, David died on the floor where he fell.

That's it. No parades, no whistles, no sirens. No big announcements or proclamations. No warnings. Just like that, David was gone.

Before the funeral, David's mother told mine that he had begun to straighten our his life. He shook away the drugs, moved away from the influence, and was starting over. He was happy in his home state of Tennessee living near family and was enjoying his new job. He had been trying to find me and had heard something about my being in Television in West Virginia. But he never got around to contacting me.

Technically, I've never lost anyone close to me.

It hurts like hell.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Air pollution...not on my watch!

During the election season last year, all of the folks in the newsroom were tossing around their opinions about a statewide smoking ban. There was one common reaction from just about every person to whom I talked and that was, "Ew...I hate smoke. I hope it gets banned in November".

Well I, too, hate the smell of cigarette smoke and the cancer causing ingredients in contains, and the fact that it is the only product on the market that when used as directed kills you. Please don't misunderstand that. However, I think a larger point has been missed here.

Government should have no right to tell a private business owner to whom he can or can't open his doors.

How is it that a "No Smoking" sign couldn't have been enough to tell smokers to go elsewhere to light up? How is it that a "smoking section" isn't enough of an indicator that if non-smokers don't want to smell smoke, then they should be seated in the non-smoking section? So what...because smokers and non-smokers alike couldn't follow the plainly written placards, the tyrannical majority felt it necessary to force a moral highground issue down citizen's throats?
How is that the American way?

Again don't get me wrong here, I hate it that people are addicted to this garbage. This habit is debilitating and kills too many moms, dads, and kids each year. But if you don't want to smell smoke, then don't frequent the establishments that have smoking sections; this includes the ones that are poorly ventilated. If you want to light up after a meal, don't expect a non-smoking restaurant to cater to you or like cliental. How is that hard to understand?

Now, in enclosed spaces where it is difficult or impossible to remove yourself from unwanted secondhand smoke (i.e. a train, subway, or work place) it is pretty universal that smoking is prohibited and only permitted outside of these facilities or in a designated smoking room with ventilation (i.e. large airports). Now that this sweeping ban has passed, smokers don't even have that choice anymore.

This smoking ban should have never made it to the ballot in the first place. It should have been left up to the free market system to handle. If there is a greater demand for non-smoking establishments, then more and more business owners will cater to that crowd. If there is a large smoking population nearby, locally owned, private business should be able to offer goods and services to them without the government's dissatisfaction.

Now that this precedent has been set, what civil liberty will voters take away next? Will they ban private gun ownership because, "I don't like knowing there are guns in my neighborhood"? Will they vote away your right to spend your money at wal-mart because "I don't like that they forced mom-n-pop shops out of business"?

New York is already banning the use of trans fats like there is no tomorrow and the wackos on Capitol Hill are trying to do the same all over the country. When are we finally going to look at the 400lbs. lady who cries that McDonald's made her fat and call her out for her lack of personal responsibility?

I don't need Uncle Sam to save me from myself, thank you, and I don't need the voter to do that either. What if I want trans fats in my hamburger every once in a while? Am I gonna have to go to Canada to get it (did anyone else shutter when they read that)? Come on, people!

Dave Hudson said it best,
"Just pave my road and kill those who are trying to kill me. I'll take care of
the rest".
I wish that was true.

A Vanishing Masculinity

Where have all the cowboys gone?

It seems that in today's American culture men are more valued if they act less like men. We are encouraged to become "metro sexual" and carry "murses" than to exhibit the character traits given to us by God. Men are constantly under the pressures to speak less loudly, don't be such a presence, stop killing Bambi, be less competitive. Is this a fad or a quickly embraced pattern of being? Whatever it is, Christian men need to know that it flies in the face of not only what God wants for you but how He wired you.

Men and women are wired differently by [intelligent] design and thankfully so. The New Testament says that the two will become one upon marriage and that seems to indicate that one can't truly comprehend all that is the human experience without intimate knowledge of how the other sex lives. Not to say that a man is an incomplete person if unmarried, but that he'll only breathe a fraction of this life without being bonded to a suitable woman he can love, protect, and secure.

Ephesians 5:25, in one verse, says a great deal about true, Godly manhood. But there is more to it. Besides the example of manhood that are my family members, I have come to love a few movies that highlight the masculine qualities that are sorrowfully absent in much of America today.

The Patriot

The main character is a man named Benjamin Martin played by Mel Gibson. Martin is a widower, former military officer, and raising his four children in colonial America. The Revolutionary War is just months in the future and the tension is building. Should we learn to live under the crown? Should we stand and fight? Who will fight? All daunting decisions with grave consequences.

Martin loves his family too much to see them lose both parents and wants to avoid going to war because of it. However, when the reality of war has come and battles bring themselves onto his front field, he knows he can no longer stand idly by and watch other fathers, sons, brothers die for the freedom of his countrymen.

While war isn't always the answer, a man always fights for liberty from tyranny and justice under God. When the times comes to fight, a man takes up arms.

Walking Tall

This modernized re-telling of Buford Pusser's true story stars Dwayne Johnson, A.K.A The Rock, playing Chris Vaughn, ex-Special Forces. Chris comes home after being discharged to find that his once quiet and honest town has been turned into a den of vipers.

A crooked casino has opened in the shadow of a boarded up timber mill previously the main employer and staple of the small community.The filth from the dirty workings in the casino spread like a cancer onto the streets where drugs are sold to children while bought and paid-for law enforcement looks the other way. Chris is floored that no one has stood up to what everyone can plainly see is destroying their home. So, at great personal cost, he stands.


A man is wired to be a leader whether it be at home, at work, or on the field of play. Men don't defer judgment or pussy-foot around by being passive aggressive. Men lead towards a better future. A safe neighborhood. A life lived for God and to see His kingdom grow.

National Treasure

This little beauty has a sequel about to be released and I'm really looking forward to it. Nicholas Cage plays the role of Ben Gates, an inquisitive thinker who as a boy, was told a great family secret concerning a treasure so grand that it was considered too massive for any one man to posses. It was fought over for centuries by many different armies.
Over time, the legend states that its location was hidden and the secret to its discovery was given to a select few who vowed to protect it. One of those sworn to protect it was Ben's grandfather who let him in on the first clue to finding the treasure if it still, indeed, existed.

Gates spent his entire academic life learning how to decipher riddles, solve puzzles, excavate and salvage, studying the history of this great Nation and the major players of her founding just to be able to one day be the one to find this lost national treasure. Venturing to far off lands, on frozen oceans, tunneling underground, stealing pieces of American History to look for more clues, it didn't matter. Benjamin Franklin Gates was going to find what had become his calling in life.

Men are adventurous. Men seek. Men follow the primal yearning of the heart to discover and chart a new course. Men throw away the map and cut out their own path. And men are not quenched after finding, rather seek out something new to explore. Don't subdue your God-given need to explore, discover and uncover.

I encourage you to rent one of these movies, or one of your own choosing, and bask in what little bastion of male pride there is left in America. Celebrate what makes you how God wanted you to be!


Education, education, three bags full...

I am a student of many disciplines but a master of none.

I foolishly thought that after receiving my bachelor's degree that my formal education would be over. Then came my meteorological post-graduate work. Three full years of toil later those requirements were satisfied and that familiar feeling of accomplishment tricked my heart into educational contentment.

Now, I'm contemplating finishing my third and very pricey paper on my wall by taking only two more college courses. Even after that is behind me, I know there will be more ahead. Thankfully, I'm okay with it now and am picking up more areas of interest to study. Here are a few.

Over the last several months, I've been spending some of my down time searching for nice, printable copies of both the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that we can keep at home. Through talking with a few friends including Dr. Cameron Clark and reading the writings of Nathan McIntyre and others, it has become increasingly important for me to read these founding documents very carefully especially as we, the people come closer and closer to a new Presidency.

I went out and bought 24 lb. gold resume stock and printed both of these writs of liberty. Slowly and deliberately I've been calculating every word. While I am no law scholar, I've found (re)discovering these words almost thrilling (if I may geek out about them a little)! I'm truly excited to dive deeper into what some very passionate patriots had in mind for our country and to share with others how we might be able to bring their American dreams to fruition today.

I used to think that I had the teachings of Christ and the ideals of proper corporate worship pretty hammered out but I've since realized that what I thought was confident knowledge was really a sickening mix of blind Pharisaical ignorance and pride. There are ceremonies in today's church services that I've often found unnecessary and in many ways non-Biblical but I'm discovering what the heart of worship truly is and what my worship has been missing.

I encourage you to take a step away from what is familiar and concentrate on the condition of your spirit. You may just find that what is demanded of you legalistically is honestly unsavory and repulsive to the Father. Then again, you might not but one thing we all need to remember is that worship is not about you, your spouse, or the guy sitting in the pew in front of you.

It is not about us! None can judge your worship but He who is being worshipped.

Since becoming one, I'm learning daily what a husband is and how to be a better one. This is more fun than I thought it would be although sometimes my rough corners are smoothed by some very unpleasantly course sandpaper. But I know that what I'm experiencing will make my relationship with my wife tightly bonded, deeply loving, and better equipped to stand the tests of time.

She is also learning how to be the wife and friend I need her to be and, boy let me tell you, it is much easier to do that when you spend time together. Being married to an elementary school teacher means you have to sacrifice some of your together time for many months out of the year but when summer comes, your reward is returned to you five fold!

I'm not sure what I'll do with my new knowledge in the founding documents, spiritual truth, and the shared life of matrimony but I do know that I'll be learning about them my whole life.

I'm okay with that!

Hey, Moron!

Every now and then, I get nasty-grams from viewers. You know, when I screw up the forecast or I'm not wearing the right color shirt or my hair gets too long etc... a few folks like to get on the horn or the e-mail and let me have it.

Years ago, I received one by mail. Evidently, someone took offense to a statement I made when I said that the earth is closer to the sun during the winter than at any other time of year. Well, someone decided to write and tell me how much of a moron I am. They clipped an article from a local newspaper regarding the earth's seasons and from that they deduced that I was wrong.

Actually, this is how they put it:

"You seem very smart, but what you said was not very smart. Before you go on
air, get your facts straight please.

That wasn't enough. These folks were too cowardly to leave their names. They just signed the note, "Dedicated viewers". They even went so far as to cut their name off of the return address sticker!

Okay, that was enough for me.

I decided to use a reverse search using their address and FOUND their names (and their ages too). I then wrote what you are about to read, USING their names. Please, enjoy this and share it with someone you love.

Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so, Thank you for being dedicated viewers. We make it our goal to continually increase our effectiveness in bringing you the news, weather and sports information that is important to you. It is my personal goal to get you ready for the day ahead. I like to throw in a whole lot of fun to boot. I mean, hey, how serious do you wanna be at 6 AM?

I also like to educate my viewers on the truth behind popular myths and "wife's tales" when it comes to meteorology, as well as adequately prepare you for the day ahead. One of the most misunderstood concepts in astronomy is the concept of seasons and how the earth responds to seasonal changes thanks to its tilt (23.5 degrees). Usually, I have to explain the seasons in-depth for most folks. I'm very satisfied to know that you have grasped this concept. This will make my job in the following explanation much easier.

The statement you included in your letter was:
"You made a statement on the morning show...that the sun is closest to us now -
I know for a fact it isn't

I'm glad you said that. This alludes to the difficulty that most folks have in grasping the scientific reality of the Perihelion and the Aphelion of the earth's orbit. But don't worry, I love teaching.

As you know, the Terra [axial] orbital (and all other orbitals for that matter, not just that of earth) is not a circle, rather is an ellipse. An ellipse has a major axis and a minor axis thus flattening the path so that there are two oblong points... one of maximum distance and one of minimum distance. I have included a diagram so that it will be easier understood.Please note where it says, "Planet X perihelion". This position is the closest that a planetary body will come to the sun (in orbit). At this point, the earth is 147.5 million kilometers away from the sun. Thus, earth is closest to the sun here.

Also note in the diagram the "Planet X aphelion" position. This position is the farthest a planetary body will be from the sun (in orbit). At this point, the earth is 152.6 million kilometers away from the sun. Thus, earth is farthest from the sun here. As it happens for earth, the perihelion (closest to the sun) is always around early January. This year it will be January 4th. Conversely, the aphelion always occurs around early July. This year it will be July 4th.

Therefore, with the northern hemispheric winter beginning on December 21st, it is true that the earth is closest to the sun during the northern hemispheric winter.

As always, thank you for contacting us at the SuperDuper StormCenter. If you have any more questions regarding the science of this earth, the stars, or of course meteorology, please fell free to let us know!


I truly feel sorry for some people.

It took me all of 10 minutes to research for quotes and find that diagram. I am, by no means, an infallible expert in science. But seriously, there is no excuse for ignorance when the Internet is literally at your fingertips. Information has never been more accessible than it is today. All we have to do is take the time and exercise the patience to look for it.

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