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Father

The Leash of A Sober Mind

In a nutshell, this year’s Nevada Day was solid one. Part of what made it a good experience was knowing my parade limits. It’s at about float #100. I do my two hours among the throng of bearded men and brave women then I get out.  I try to stay long enough to see the Burning Man floats.

  

Though I am not a Burning Man fan, I do find their floats to be the most interesting and oftentimes the highlight of the parade. Other parade highlights this year included our beloved governor walking with the police with a Vegas Strong# banner, the Wild Horse supporters, the beard contests and the brothel float (uniquely Nevada). This float is often accompanied by a plain-looking lady with stringy gray hair walking down one side of the parade route with a sign condemning the brothels and warning of troubled times ahead. I’ll let you guess which one is the crowd favorite. However, I’ve got to hand to it the doomsday lady she’s gives it 110%. You can’t fault her for that.

The Dodgers

It was painful to see the Dodgers lose, but I didn’t cry this time. It was a great series and it was difficult to root against the Astros. They have a great offense and plus there was that whole Hurricane Harvey thing going on.

Music Suggestions

1.    Ride the River by J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton
2.    L’amour by Karim Quellet
3.    Police & Thieves by The Clash
4.    Light Flight by Pentangle
5.   The Sons of Katie Elder by 101 String Orchestra

Quote

“Failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers.”

Family Recipes: Green Corn Griddle Cakes

When I can’t sleep at night from too much excitement, I will make some Green Corn Griddle Cakes from an old family recipe:

1.     1 pint of milk
2.    2 cups grated green corn
3.    a little salt
4.    2 eggs
5.    1 teaspoonful of baking powder
6.    Flour sufficient to make a batter to fry on the griddle.

The Only Way I Know: Excerpts from Cal Ripken on His Father

…Some people will never understand why I go about things the way I do, and that’s okay. But I’ll keep going on doing things the same way until it’s proven there’s a better way….And the person who taught me the most about it, and about life, is the former Orioles coach and manager—my dad, Cal Ripken Sr….

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My father by nature was a hard-working man….In the winters back home in Aberdeen, Maryland, Dad worked as hard as in summer. Even now there’s not much money in minor-league baseball, and there was less when we were growing up. He managed a pharmacy, drove a delivery truck, worked at a local hardware store and lumberyard. He was out the door at dawn and then fell asleep on the couch after supper almost every night, dog-tired….

My father had his mottos and pronouncements. He’d tell his baseball players, “It’s like a bank, men. You can’t take more out than you put in.”

Another favorite saying—“Do two million little things right, and the big things take care of themselves”….

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Senior was inducted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame in 1996 season. At the banquet he was funny, direct, and foursquare in his remarks. In conclusion, he said he accepted the honor on behalf of all the equally dedicated men he had worked with in the minor leagues for all those years.

Then it was my turn. It was difficult. I wasn’t certain I could say what I wanted about my father, and what he means to me. So I told a little story about my two children, Rachel, six at the time, and Ryan, then three. They’d been bickering for weeks and I explained how one day I heard Rachel taunt Ryan, “You’re just trying to be like Daddy.”

 After a few moments of indecision, I asked Rachel, “What’s wrong with trying to be like Dad?”

When I finished telling the story, I looked at my father and added, “That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”

Excerpt taken from Chicken Soup for the  Baseball Fan’s Soul

 

Follow Him and Find New Life

Father, Look At My New Religion

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Dear Father,

I am writing from my high tower today.  I’m so high I can nearly touch the sky. The tower is built on shifting sands, but don’t you worry none there’s plenty of sand if this sand should wash away. Presently, you’d be proud of me, I am all grown up and am ready to go it alone. I have no doubts and I am equipped with data, popular opinion and the backing of the most popular actors and celebrities, people who pretend for a living. Imagine that.

Faith, truth, and reason don’t mean much anymore. It’s all about emotions, perceptions and the lonely autonomous individual’s will and the need to recklessly impose it on every other human being. This is my new brave world, Father. Because, you know, if you feel it, it must be a right, and it must become a right, God be damned…

My new found faith can be best summed up by the empty and airy phrase “Just Believe”-thank you Disney. A blind belief without purpose or direction, to be defended at all costs, despite it’s depressing end. Or in the words of the overly ambitious MacBeth, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

I know it sounds confusing, but trust me I know what I am doing. I’m very earnest and full of vim and good intentions.

Before we say our final goodbyes, I don’t want you to think me a philistine, I am thankful for all that you’ve done for me up until this point. I want to first thank you for the universe and the countless galaxies, planets (and Pluto), asteroids, and other endless creations.  I want to thank you for all the laws we’ve discovered that rule the motions and properties of these celestial bodies.

I want to thank you for time. Time that devours all things, the “birds, beasts, trees, flowers and gnaws iron, bites steel; grinds hard stones to meal, slays kings, ruins town, and beat mountains down.”

Time given to us to live, love, and grow and become a better person every day. I want to thank you for the seasons, I want to thank you for Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. Thanks for orbiting the earth around the sun and making that happen. And thanks for rotating the earth on its own axis and separating the day from the night. I don’t even know how one does that. Great idea, though.

I want to thank you for mountains, plains, swamps, bogs, forest, lilies of the field and others flowers, shrubs, grasses, and even the tundra. Thanks for the oceans, seas, rivers, streams, lakes and of course waterfalls. I want to thank you for the birds, fishes and the beasts. Dinosaurs, saber-tooth tigers, horned beavers and mammoths were cool. Sharks, snakes and spiders are okay.

Thank you for Humans. Messy and complicated, life would never be the same without Humans. Thank you for families, thank you for Moms and Dads, thank you for brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, relatives, kin, and friends. Thank you for creating men, but most of all thank you for creating women. Nailed it! Thank you for creating relationships that allow us to get a glimpse of what heavens is and allow us to get to know Thee. A Black Derby or Bowler HatThanks for the Truth. Thanks for all truths, spiritual and scientific. Thanks for giving purpose to our learning and living. Thanks for all truths that make us better and increase our joy in this life even when things go bad. Thanks for Freedom. Thanks for the freedom to seek and apply truths imperfectly, the freedom to fail and then get back up again and try again. Thanks for the freedom to experiment and gain wisdom along the way.

Having said all of that- I am sure I missed something- I think I am ready to go my own way now and create my own moral universe. I am ready to turn everything upside down, turn everything from fair to foul and redefine right and wrong. Discount truth and own up to no lie. It’s time to say goodbye to prayer, faith, obedience and repentance to an unknown God (or at least we could pretend that we never met. Remember this is my fiction, my fantasy world.)

Having read your “good” books, I don’t think you really mean what you say when you handed out your list of do’s and don’ts. Not to say you don’t know what you’re doing. I mean thou shalt not kill is a good one.  But good God, taking your name in vain, lying, envying, stealing, idol worshipping and coveting seem a little harsh as absolutes. They are more like a will-o’-the wisp more than anything else. It was said of old that we should also learn to avoid lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Especially pride because it precedes the fall, whatever that means. But, those virtues hurt my sensitive modern ears, seem outdated and threaten to repress all of my passions, appetites, and desires that have be expressed for me to be my extraordinarily mundane self (Sorry self, its true.)

In my brave new world, I prefer to replace those virtues with an updated list that have very little to do with improving a person’s soul. The following are my new virtues, my new powder and pills:

  1. Freedom (do what you want);
  2. Convenience (experience no bad consequences for one’s actions and take no responsibility for anything bad);
  3. Progress (change for the sake of change);
  4. Equality (equality of results, despite apparent differences)
  5. Authenticity (I want to be different just like everyone else);
  6. Health (Body Worship);
  7. Nonjudgmentalism (Do not think for yourself or think apart from the crowd; never question someone else’s feelings and never question their choices or behavior).

Of course, to be consistently relative, these virtues are not absolute and are subject to changes in whim and power to ensure constant confusion and more importantly to unintentionally crush the weak and poor. Because in our secular societies one thing is for sure good folk must pay at the hands of the unwise.

So Father this is it, I am off to “eat, drink, and be merry”.  Time for me to start my new religion, purge my body and humor my mind. See you on the other side where all “shall be well with us” and we’ll play our harps in that rockin’ angel band.

Love Junior

Another Sunday

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I’ll be honest and speak soberly, but there are some Sunday mornings when I do want to go to Church. It’s not because of any major crisis of faith or doubt. It’s partly because I have a bad case of the lazies. My spirit and flesh are spent by Sunday and there are times when I am in desperate need of a recharge. And yes, I usually bring this on myself staying up late watching TV or reading—a bad habit. For the Lord saith: “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary.” Not only a bad habit, but a minor sin unless, of course, it leads to bigger sins, then I have a lot more explaining to do.

I know I am a sinner, but being a modern sometimes I find that thought inconveniently simple and unsophisticated. Contradicting, the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) I like to frequently cite at work to my colleagues about their ideas and schemes. Based on my own “unbiased” observations, the more complicated a scheme at work becomes the more it stinketh. It seems the more complicated the plan becomes the less it seems to be grounded in reality. More and more it becomes some version of someone’s unintentionally cruel fancy based on a degree of corrupting vanity and greed. A fancy that ignores future consequences as it is imposed on those who have to carry it out and those who are considered it’s direct “beneficiaries”.

And so it is with me, based on some form of selfishness and self-deception, I hold on to my favorite sins, denying any form or shadow of what is real. But then comes Sunday when I am forced to look in the mirror and I am aghast at the feckless monster staring impishly back at me. One of my biggest problems I have is that I do let work invade my life more than I should because it is so demanding. This ends up making me boorishly one-dimensional, a self-centered glutton, a spiritual Jabba the Hut. And I think, perchance I could have given more, which typically is the case as I reflect on the unuttered prayers, the scriptures that went unread, the faith that went unexercised, the repentance that was postponed, the patience untried, the services not rendered, and the words unmeasured because I let work relentless dominate during the week.

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Heck, my inability to wear more than one hat even reduces my ability to be a decent husband, father, sibling, friend and citizen. I sometimes feel as if I am sleepwalking through my own false consciousness. Sure I was busy at work, but I was not awake or alive to the humanity, to the fellow spirits, that surround me.

Work is an eternal principle that is certain. It is an attribute of God and one required of man. But, it is not the only eternal principle, He also requires us to acquire depths of mercy, patience, understanding, kindness, honesty, generosity and other principles that all lead us to be wise and to love all completely and unconditionally. I do sincerely belief this, but I just don’t like it when I have to apply it to myself and be reminded of and grapple with how big gap is between the truth and how I live my life, or be reminded that unwittingly I’ve made a Faustian bargain during the week, a barter poorly made, as I prepare myself for another Sunday.

My Wings

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I cannot walk, but I can fly;
No roof can house me from the stars
No dwelling pen me in its bounds,
Nor keep me fast with locks and bars.

No narrow room my thoughts can cage,
No fetters hold my roving mind;
From these four walls that shut me in,
My soaring soul a way can find. . . .

And when the long, long day is done,
I clasp the dearest book of all,
And through the dim, sweet silences,
I hear my Father’s accents fall.

Then, though, in chains, yet I am free;
Beyond the pressure of my care,
Above earth’s night, my spirit mounts
On eagle wings of Faith and Prayer.

-Annie Johnson Flint

25 Days of Christmas: Day Number One

It’s not often that I personally write about Christmas or Jesus Christ for that matter. I think for the most part I hesitate to personally comment because I am so flawed in carrying out good works and living out a life with the underlying spirit of love and patience. I would hate to have people use me and my life as some sort of paragon of Christian life. I joke way too much and at times inappropriately, and then when somber and serious I sometimes lack patience and understanding. There are many other sins I harbor, like not separating out my laundry, but I don’t want to use this forum for a confession. Despite my failings, I could not and cannot shake the teachings of a faithful Mother and Father and the shining examples of siblings, and I cannot say there is no Christ without asserting something contrary to what is deeply embedded in my heart even if it is inconvenient at times. So, as we embark on the Christmas season and we are inundated with the commercialization of the season, I wanted to take time to make sure I consciously take time to make Christ the center of my Christmas experience this year.

For me, Christmas is a special season and there is a special spirit that attends the Christmas season. I think for the most part it is because I spend less time thinking about me and more time thinking about others and I think about the poor and those who go without. My life, far from that of a saint, becomes more meaningful as I get a glimpse into how Christ views others and how He’d prefer I would mercifully look at others for the rest of the year.

While historically, December is not the correct date of His birth, I still partake willingly and happily in all the traditions and I do believe something wonderful happened to the world when He was born and the spirit that attended his birth is that same spirit that quietly pervades the Christmas season and persists even in the face of the loud, competitive shouts of advertisers. And despite, all the assaults on his message from those who have believed (like me) and from those who haven’t believed in His message, one day we will get the message correct. However, Christmas is a sneak peek at what the world would be like if we gave his message even a passing effort or a smidgen of faith. I hope that everyone experiences a wonderful Christmas season, no matter your belief or un-belief is, and capture the spirit of Christmas.

“If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season, we can surely find it. Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year with new eyes—perhaps even with the eyes of a child.

The Grinch saw the good in Christmas when he learned to look past its worldly trappings. If we do the same, we can, with the Grinch, proclaim: “Maybe Christmas . . . doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!”

Our heart may not grow three sizes as the Grinch’s did, but our heart will change. Our eyes will open to the miracles all around us—at Christmastime and throughout the year.”–Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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A Great Parent vs. A Great Statesman

“Of all the joys of life, none other equals that of happy parenthood. Of all the responsibilities with which we struggle, no other is so serious. To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges…After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman. One is universal and eternal greatness the other ephemeral. I am satisfied that no other experiences of life draw us nearer to heaven than those that exist between happy parents and happy children.”

-Gordon B. Hinckley, Save the Children, Ensign, November 1994

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