Archive for January, 2008

For me, I often find joy in the little things. The world could have fallen apart or I could just have been having a lousy day but my frown would be turned upside down by doing nothing simpler than reading customer reviews of Tuscan Whole Milk on Amazon.com.

Joy is there, just waiting to be found.

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…maybe dreams are plans that God puts in your hands.

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Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day honoring a great leader and the man with the fighter’s heart behind non-violent protests for justice. Here’s an excerpt from his speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top,” his last speech which he gave on April 3, 1968, the eve of his assassination, in Memphis, TN.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings–an ecclesiastical gathering–and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the casual root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles, or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the day of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”.

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” “If I do no stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?”

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, you drown in your own blood–that’s the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply, “Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the Whites Plains High School.” She said, “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great movement there. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.

And they were telling me, now it doesn’t matter now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say that threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Read the rest of the speech.

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It must be a slow life when you have dreams about your job.

With FedEx, my job is to go to my assigned stops and pick up packages and do it all on time. In my dream, I had just started my route and I already had two lates.


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Traveler IQ: 98
I should be ashamed of myself.

How well do you know your world?

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I’ve found that I live with a perpetual cold or at least show symptoms of it with alarming regularity. I don’t really care to see a doctor about because I’ve learned to live with it and I’m mostly pretty cheap, too. I seem to always have either a stuffy nose or a runny nose. One nostril is always deemed inoperable. It doesn’t seem to care whether or not it’s flu season, allergy season, E.Coli season – my sinuses follow their own calendar.

Lately, I’ve tried to avoid any sort of medication to make myself feel better because I don’t think they really accomplish a whole lot for me but I’ve been trying to take more vitamins instead. In any case, the ol’ sinuses started acting up again a couple of weeks ago so I thought I’d try something new. I ordered a neti pot from Amazon, which is basically a teapot-looking thing that you fill with water and a little salt and is used to “irrigate” your nasal passage. You place it in one nostril and tilt your head and let the water pour out of the other. It’s supposed to rid you of excess mucus, pollen and dirt. It was a slow day so I, like, stuck a teapot up my nose.

I’ve tried it a couple of times already and I’ve discovered that something’s wrong with me. The water doesn’t pour out of the other nostril like the crazy-looking lady on the video. Actually, it hardly drips out at all. I’ve tried various angles but nothing. I only end up with salty water dripping down my throat which instantly makes me feel like I’m being swallowed in the sea. It makes me wonder: is there something nestled in my nasal cavity that’s preventing proper neti action from taking place? Is the true reason for my everlasting cold literally lodged away where it cannot be easily discovered? The world and I may never know.

In other news, if anyone is interested in purchasing a teapot that’s been in my nose let me know! I’ve even included a picture!


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Dear Taco Bell Order-Taker Guy,

Even as I write this I feel the slightest bit silly, but write I must. You see, this whole thing began as simple admiration of your gift, your talent. I didn’t notice at first but the more I visited the less I could ignore the obvious. I say, while holding the furthest distance from hyperbole, that you are the best order-taking guy. Ever. Are you aware of this? What a silly question, of course you are. When you visit McDonald’s or Wendy’s for dinner after your shift surely you say to yourself, “This ‘tard taking my order has no idea what he’s doing.” I’m sure you have to speak extra slowly so his minimum wage mind can follow, too.

I say all this because you and I are both aware of your gift and I’d bet a Nachos Bell Grande that we’re not alone. I’ve been coming to your Taco Bell at Kirkwood and Hwy 59 quite a bit in recent months and every night when I hear your staticky voice come over the loudspeaker I let out a sigh of relief for I know I will not go home with food missing from my order. If something was wrong with my meal I’d be remiss to even suggest your guilt, Vincent. Can I call you “Vincent”? I don’t really know your name but you look like a Vincent to me.

You have never taken my order incorrectly. In today’s fast-paced world of fast food that’s a rare trait. For that alone you should be medaled. I can’t begin to list how many times my order has been incorrectly taken, incorrectly packed, incorrectly billed, etc. I really thought a high school education could take someone farther, but lo and behold…
You have never asked me to repeat my order. To the average Taco Bell consumer this may seem like nothing noteworthy; my friend, as you know, I am no ordinary Taco Bell consumer. I do not come from the school of “One taco, please” or the “Just a #3 with a Diet Coke.” Those anorexic pansies. My orders are shopping lists, massive catalogs, triumphant calls for ground beef, cheese, and refried beans in excess. I try and help you out by organizing my order from largest item to smallest, somehow believing that actually matters; but there are nights when my appetite can’t stomach waiting longer than absolutely necessary and I just yell out what I’m craving to the speaker. And there you are – picking up the pieces that I bring you and constructing something beautiful, something delicious. It’s as if you know me. It’s as if you care.

Nothing fazes you. You could be collecting payment from the customer ahead of me while listening to me decide out loud whether I want a Chalupa or Gordita and still, my order will be spot on. Spot on.

There are only so many words, Vincent. If there was a night where you weren’t there to take my order I think I would drive away in hunger. I don’t take your job lightly and I know for a fact that you don’t either. All this to say, “Thank you.”

There are only so many words, but I want to use what I have to construct something for you. A poem in your honor, if you will.

Window One

For the third night in a row
You see me pull in,
Some days are happy, most are hungry
Some days sad, dark and sullen.

But you reach out to me
Your voice, bright like the sun
I realize there’s hope for the night, or at least my next meal
Hope in Window One.

“Three Mexican Pizzas,
Two Chalupas, Baja Beef,
Maybe a Double Decker, I can’t say,
I just know my hunger needs relief.”

But you never complain
Not even when I’m done
You only say, “Would you like a drink?
Your total is $5.87, please pull up to Window One.”

You guys mention Fourth Meal
In my book there’s a Fifth
Loch Ness is for real
A better order-taker than you is a myth.

When the world ends, you’ll fly upward,
But only after you take my order,
That’s why we may head to Heaven
But I’ll first Run for the Border.

Other restaurants may try to win me over
But you, Vincent, won’t be outdone
There’s hope for the night, or at least my next meal
Hope in Window One.

Until next time, my friend. Are you working tomorrow?

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Times have changed. And my, has technology changed with it. Of the thousands of examples I could cite right now illustrating this point I’m choosing this:

Here are some video games I played a few years ago:


Double Dragon

Now here are some screenshots of a video game people are playing today:

Batman Lego1

Batman Lego2

Batman Lego3

Batman Lego4


LEGO Batman. Seriously, that’s pretty cool-looking. We’ve come a long way, comrades. Look up to the stars for we will conquer them next.

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