For several years, our offices were located on the third floor of an old factory building. An alley ran behind our building, and there was an antique elevator that was useful if you had to transport things to that third floor. If you parked back there, you had to walk by this big old electrical thing that was surrounded by a chain link fence - with a sign that had these words in big print: "High voltage. Do not touch." I never knew anybody who disregarded those instructions.
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
She was only 21 years old - but she was well on her way to becoming a superstar. Aaliyah was enjoying huge success with her music, and she was beginning to emerge as an actress with a great future, as well. But that all ended in one awful moment in the Bahamas when the plane carrying her and her crew crashed shortly after takeoff. What made the crash even more tragic was the fact that apparently it was avoidable - at least on the preliminary findings of investigators. The plane had been loaded with something like twice its maximum baggage capacity. And investigators believe that it was all that weight that made that plane go down.
Monday, October 29, 2001
When your life moves as fast as mine does, your food has to often move pretty fast too - as in drive through orders at fast food restaurants. Now, the one closest to us is a Burger King. This is not an endorsement, it just happens to be close to us. I, needless to say, know their menu pretty well after all these years and my order is pretty predictable, including my drink, which is usually an iced tea. Frankly, I'm not a real tea drinker, but, this tea is pretty good because it is pre-sweetened. To me, tea without sweetener tastes just a little bitter - just a little bland. So, being a fast food frequent flyer, I expect all Burger Kings to do it my way. The way my Burger King does it! Well, they don't. In other parts of the country I've gotten my iced tea, taken my first drink and discovered an unpleasant difference. They gave it to me unsweetened! And it isn't nearly as good that way.
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
This past summer I introduced a group of young people to someone they started calling "Evil Bert." You see, Bert was actually a hand puppet I asked one of our more creative leaders to make for me. He was limited to the few materials we had at this training camp, but somehow he managed to create a primitive puppet - who just happened to have very black eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth - and a not-too-friendly expression. Some said he looked a little like "Bert" of "Bert and Ernie" fame on "Sesame Street" - so he was "Evil Bert". And he certainly lived up to his name. He held this styrofoam bat in his hand, and as I walked around the room with Evil Bert on my hand, he kept hitting people with it. But was Evil Bert really the problem?
Wednesday, October 3, 2001
President Ronald Reagan found it out the hard way. He was preparing to do his regular Saturday morning radio address (which by the way, is live radio) - and he offhandedly made some joking comment about bombing the Russians. Unfortunately, that comment went out over the airwaves. Oops! See, he didn't know the microphones were on. Take it from me. I spend a lot of time in a radio studio. That's something very important when you're doing live radio - knowing when the microphone is on - or you can actually end up saying something that you really didn't mean for other people to hear.
Friday, September 21, 2001
It was the countdown week to the birth of our first grandson. And, as you might expect, there were some of those mother/daughter conversations about the experience of actually birthing this child you've carried for nine months. Unfortunately, I didn't think there was a lot I could contribute here, so I graciously left this to my wife. And while our daughter was still at home with some of those first contractions, I overheard my wife giving her some insight - the words of the veteran who's been there and knows what's ahead. She said, "You're going to reach a point where you'll feel like you just can't take it anymore. Hang on, honey. That's when the baby comes."
Thursday, September 6, 2001
Maybe it's because my father-in-law was a corrections officer for a while, and I've heard his stories about the wasted lives behind prison bars. But whatever the reason I've always admired the men who minister as prison Chaplains. It's tough ministry but it's ministry where it's desperately needed. I've got a new friend, Bill, and he works as a prison Chaplain and he recently told me about an incident that touched me when he told me and it continues to touch me. Bill had been visiting this cell block and he went out in the exercise yard for some fresh air, he said. There was this clean cut, young inmate who walked up to him and said, "Hey mister! Are you broke?" Well, Bill kinda' fished around in his pocket and didn't find any money in there and the inmate said, "It doesn't matter, your money is no good in here anyway. Are you broke?" Only this time the inmate had tears in his eyes. And then here's what he said, "Mister, don't try to minister to people in here if you ain't broke, cause we all are." Now, that's not just inside prison walls.
Caterpillars are ugly. Now I don't mean to be critical, but let's face it, those hairy crawlers are not the beauty queens of the animal kingdom. I've never heard of anyone with a caterpillar collection, have you? Oh, I suppose someone could try a makeover on a caterpillar, you know, just shave off some of that hair, give him a little color. But who could ever imagine that one of the uglier critters around could actually become one of the most beautiful animals in the world - a butterfly! You don't see many pictures of caterpillars on things, but you see pictures of butterflies everywhere! A critter covered with ugly black hair becomes a butterfly splashed with amazing colors. An animal that lives off the leaves on the ground becomes the connoisseur of flower nectar...and a creature that once crawled everywhere becomes one that can fly everywhere. We're not talking makeover here. We're talking miracle!
Sounds crazy at first. People trying to cause an avalanche. Actually, there are people who do that for a living. One of the many things you can learn watching the Discovery Channel! Obviously, people who get caught in the path of an avalanche of tons of snow have little chance for survival. Skiers, snowmobilers, hikers have all been the tragic victims of what is called the white death. Now enter the specialists they call the avalanche hunters. They drive into areas where potential avalanche conditions exist and, using this slender, hand-held cannon, they fire shots into dangerous snow masses. Well, these folks are not crazy. They actually trigger a small avalanche - which removes some of the buildup that can later cause a major avalanche.
I've got this one black blazer that I really like to wear. Unfortunately, it has this one little problem. It's wool. Which means it's sort of magnetic - especially for lint and anything else that might jump up and attach itself to that jacket. I'm having to brush that blazer off all the time. It just picks up all this stuff!