Wow! Talk about so near and yet so far. Poor Desmond Bishop. He missed what could have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the White House and meet the President of the United States! Actually it was a few years ago.
Sometimes when our son comes to visit, he comes with a box of doughnuts under his arm. Just what we need! Now these are not just any doughnuts. They're from a doughnut chain that has become very popular in America. I don't do ads, so you'll have to figure it out. But we were driving with our son through a tourist community a while back, and he suddenly exclaimed, "The hot light is on!" I thought my car was overheating. Nope! It was good news. He meant that the light in the window of this doughnut store was on, which is their signal that a hot batch of their delicious doughnuts has just come out of the oven. And I have to tell you, when you get them fresh like that, oh, can you say "irresistible"? Did I just make you hungry?
When people ask me why I'm not going on some roller coaster that goes upside down and around and around at something like 200 miles per hour, I don't want to just tell them I'm chicken. So, I tell them I'm not tall enough. You know that picture they have of a little person? They have them at the entrance to rides that are a little more challenging. You're supposed to stand next to it, and if you're not as big as that person that they've drawn, you're not allowed on that ride. I've got grandsons, on the other hand, who would love to get on some of those rides. They don't have the wisdom of my years. They don't have the well-developed survival instincts that I have, but for a long time they weren't allowed on the ride. They just didn't measure up.
It was a 911 call that alerted the first responders. A man was slowly wading out into San Francisco Bay, inching his way to ending his life there. Pretty soon a group of firefighters, and a crowd of about 75 people, were watching as this desperate man went a little deeper and a little deeper, and sadly occasionally glancing back at the shore. They stood there watching for an hour...and they watched him die, without anyone making a move to help him.
I guess you could call it a "tale of two cities." It was during the Civil War. The Confederate Army had again invaded the North. The Confederate General came to Hagerstown, Maryland, and he threatened to burn the town unless they came up with a $20,000 ransom. A local businessman rallied the townspeople and he collected the ransom. Hagerstown was spared. Then the Confederate forces moved up to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and they made the same demand. Those folks didn't come up with the ransom. Chambersburg was burned to the ground.
It was one of those milestone wedding anniversaries for my wife and me. I got congratulations cards. She got sympathy cards. But we had a wonderful couple of days in a romantic location, even doing some romantic things. Like a horse-drawn carriage ride through some beautiful countryside. Along the way, our driver pointed out a forest of tamarack trees which the Indians reportedly called "twice-burning wood." Our driver explained that tamarack trees need a fire in order to reproduce. Their bark is petroleum-based rather than glucose-based like most trees, so it takes a fire to burn off the bark to expose the seeds that produce new life. Interesting!
Hans Christian Andersen wrote this little fable, The Emperor's New Clothes. And when he did, he was displaying some keen insight into human nature. The Emperor in the story was a vain man, whose main focus in life was to dress in these elegant clothes and show them off to his people. Two scoundrels exploited that vanity by offering to make for the Emperor an extraordinary garment made from cloth so light and so fine that it looked invisible - invisible, that was, to anyone too stupid or incompetent to appreciate its quality. Which none of his officials wanted to be, for fear of losing their position. So they simply expressed admiration for the garment that didn't really exist. Even the Emperor had to fake his response to the garment lest he appear stupid and incompetent, right? So at that point, the scoundrels convinced the Emperor to appear before his subjects, wearing only his magnificent new clothes. And, of course, the crowd cheered for the clothes that weren't there. Who wants to be stupid, right? Until a little child did what little children do: tell it like it really is. He just went up to the royal carriage and blurted, "The Emperor is naked."
When you drive into Texas, these signs say, "Don't mess with Texas." One reason might be the weather in Texas! And, you know, if you just watch the national weather on any given day from spring into the fall and you're likely to see the color red. That's for severe thunderstorms or possible tornadoes. Our son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter were driving across the Texas panhandle one spring day, and sure enough, they drove into one of those really nasty weather fronts. Amarillo, Texas, was behind them. New Mexico was ahead of them. The sky was featuring that special shade of tornadic green. The rain was torrential and the clouds were growing those little fingers, you know, that sometimes turn into tornadoes. Our son decided it was time to call his brother and see what the Internet was saying about this weather. His question: "Shall I keep going or turn back to Amarillo?" The answer: "Just keep going, man. Twenty more miles and you'll be in bright sunshine!"
If you're a baseball fan, it seems like winter is going to last forever. Then you hear those wonderful words: "Opening Day!" Snowballs turn to fast balls, and you're happy again. You know, over the last years, one of the great stars in baseball has been Albert Pujols, who for many years made records on St. Louis Cardinals. And he has had some great seasons, acknowledged by many to be one of baseball's all-time greats.
Sadly it seems to be in every summer's headlines - fires raging in the West. Millions of acres destroyed by fires that can range for weeks on end; fires that bring a lot of bad news. But, you know, fires like these aren't all bad news. Now, there's no doubt they cause tremendous damage, but over the long haul, they also can produce a lot of new life. Somehow, nature renews itself with fire - a lot of old and dead stuff is burned away, new vegetation begins to grow, and new life actually begins to spring up.