Friday, July 13, 2018

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If you ask our kids about four or five of the most indelible memories from their childhood, I think at least one is bound to bring up the night of the hurricane. Some friends had offered their home on Eastern Long Island; we could use it for our vacation. I wonder if they had advance word that Hurricane Belle would make it all the way up the East Coast that week and smack Long Island right on the chin? Thankfully, the home we were in was on a cliff above the ocean so we didn't have to evacuate. But we made all the appropriate preparations. We loaded up on batteries and candles, stored water in the bathtub, and lined the freezer with newspaper in case the power went out. The leading winds of the hurricane started blowing in about bedtime that night, and I mean, you could hear it howling around our bedrooms upstairs. The kids were pretty unnerved (including this kid). So, we all moved out of our rooms to the downstairs living room. We laid out some sleeping bags, and we slept side by side together in the living room. The kids loved it! They actually said, "Hey, Dad, hurricanes are fun!" Really?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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When I was a kid, "Nautilus" was Captain Nemo's submarine in a Jules Verne novel. I knew that because (No, I didn't read it.) Walt Disney put it on TV. Then "Nautilus" became the name of an early nuclear submarine launched by the United States. But not too long ago I saw a nautilus while we were at Ocean City, New Jersey. It wasn't a submarine. It was the original nautilus; the little sea creature with the fascinating shell. We actually saw a lot of nautilus shells in little shops. We bought one for our living room. It's real smooth on the outside, got stripes on it, and it's bigger than my hand. Now, to me, the nautilus shell is shaped sort of like a big, shiny human ear, and maybe we could say it's like an unborn child in the womb, if you can picture that. The original inhabitant is gone, of course, but his fascinating shell-house remains. When you cut a nautilus shell in half, it reveals the life story of the one-time inhabitant. At the center is this circular chamber with a wall around it. That was the original home of a little bitty nautilus. There are circular chambers all the way to the outer edge of the shell, and each chamber is a little larger than the previous one. That little sea creature kept outgrowing his shell, so he left it behind and moved on to the next chamber-and chapter-of his life. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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Look, whether you're a Yankee or a Confederate at heart, you don't take much joy in what happened at what is called the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy." If you're a Civil War buff, you know that's where the Union Army turned back Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. Some 15,000 Confederate soldiers marched courageously across a field in a very tightly packed formation, advancing on 40,000 Union soldiers. Only 150 of those Southern soldiers made it. General Lee had made an honest but tragic mistake. See, he'd been trained at West Point in Napoleon's war tactics-masses of men, advancing against imprecise, short-range weapons until they could overwhelm the opposing troops in hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately, things had changed since that kind of strategy had won battles for Napoleon. Recent technology had greatly improved the range and the accuracy of the rifles that the Union Army was using, which meant those masses of men were brought down long before they could ever reach enemy lines.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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All eyes were on the mountain-the volcano nearby. Our friends' daughter, a missionary, was living in a city that sits in the middle of several volcanoes. And one of them was showing some of those Mt. St. Helen's-type symptoms: the bulging and the boiling that suggests a possible eruption in the near future. Scientists were predicting that could very well happen. So living anywhere near that boiling mountain was, to say the least, like nerve-wracking. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

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O.K., I'll admit it, I'm often in a hurry to get where I'm going. More than once, you know, when Karen and I were traveling in the crew configuration that my wife and I used for years – me pilot at the wheel, her navigator with map. We'd be clipping along at a healthy rate of speed, believing that the purpose of the exercise is to be there, right, not to spend a lot of time getting there! Right? And even though my beautiful navigator may have announced that a turn was coming up soon, I maintain my "got to get there" speed. Then, suddenly, I hear those words, "This is our turn!" Zoom! We blow right past it – sometimes without an opportunity to turn around for several miles. So much for me trying to make good time, right? Too often, I've ended up on the wrong road – just because I was going too fast to turn.

Friday, July 6, 2018

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It's a very impressive bridge. We saw it as we traveled near the Ohio River years ago. As you looked at it from the city where we were staying, it appeared to be complete. But when you went a few blocks and you looked at it from downriver, some additional information became apparent-in fact, important information. The bridge was only partly completed. It would get you part way there, and then it would drop you in the river. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

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The passengers were there and the plane was there, but our plane wasn't taking off that day. Oh, it was time, but we were still sitting in the flight lounge, and there were not many smiles that day. Then we finally found out what we were waiting for - our pilot wasn't there. See, his earlier flight was delayed and he hadn't landed yet. So even though we all had to get somewhere, our pilot was flying somewhere else when we needed him. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

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It was our first weekend after we moved to the New York area; it was the 4th of July. So, we thought it would be a good weekend to go see New York City. A lot of people will be gone, and it was just a really good weekend. We didn't get all jammed up in traffic, we got to see a lot of the sights and we got familiar with the streets. We kind of braved it. When we headed home, we drove up the West Side Highway, which runs right along the Hudson River headed for the George Washington Bridge. 

All of a sudden all the traffic just came to a stop. We thought that was a little unusual to have a big traffic jam on a holiday, but what was more unusual was it just, well it didn't move at all. We weren't creeping, we weren't inching along; we were totally stopped for a while. It was a long parking lot and no one moved an inch for like half an hour. I couldn't figure out what was going on. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

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One thing television has done for us, it's made us all more self conscious about our breath. The commercials keep coming. Years ago it was - Don't broadcast bad breath. To our recent commercials like: Your wake up breath. You run from people who want to kiss you because you have to gargle first. You’ve got to get rid of that morning mouth. Well these kinds of commercials sell a lot of mouthwash, toothpaste and breath mints and breath drops. I just wish there was a mouthwash for the really gross mouth problem. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

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When my granddaughter was three years old she had big eyes, a big smile, and a backpack to match. She'd loaded her little red backpack with every book that she could jam in there. And being a firstborn, she must of course, carry it all by herself-which she was trying to do one day when it became clear to Daddy that she was really straining with that load. He saw again how determined she can be. (Determined actually is a grandparent's word. Parents call it stubborn.) He suggested she remove a few books and lighten the load, and that idea was a total non-starter. Then she tried taking another step. That's when she started to take off her backpack, and she said with a sigh, "Here, Daddy. I can't carry it anymore." Her Daddy gladly took it and he asked, "How's that, honey?" Her answer melted her father's heart, "All better, Daddy. All better." 

            

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