Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Where Is The Love, Y'all?


From Yahoo News:



Your heartbeat accelerates, you have butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly. It's all part of falling passionately in love -- and scientists now tell us the feeling won't last more than a year.



Love? Well, who knew? I get that way after drinking a Mountain Dew.

Read the rest here.

Debbie Does Wiki




Sister Aimee


Most people today hardly remember the name of pentecostal evangelist Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, but at one point in the 20's and 30's she was as famous as Billy Graham and as notorious as Al Capone in their heydays. I've heard of her for years, but knew very little of her life.

I just finished reading her biography and I was mesmerized by her story, at once inspirational and heartbreaking, told in a compassionate manner.

I'm usually reading several dozen books at once, picking one up, putting it down, picking up another. It's rare that I will read a book straight through, cover to cover. This was one of those books. I couldn't stop reading, and I didn't want it to end.

Anyway, if you can lay hands on a copy, do so. It's a fascinating read. And do read the text of a speech by the book's author Daniel Mark Epstein, as well as this interesting site on Sister Aimee's life.

Tennis Shoe Gazing


I've always had mixed feelings about bloggers who write online of their personal lives. It seems at times foolhardy and brash to engage in feats of personal revelation to strangers, to bare one's soul and heart to the world. It's unseemly, right? Well, then, why do I find myself so drawn to the Dooce's and Lileks' of the world, who so often blog of their families, and even post photos of their kids?

I have of late found myself prone to bouts of self-reflection, and have gone back thru this blog, well into last year, and noticed the difference in my blogging styles: when I started last fall, I blogged almost entirely of politics and music, and during the Schiavo debacle, once I started, I wrote exclusively of that, for the duration.

But last Winter and Spring I noticed there was a bit of a change in what I would blog. And these days I find myself wanting to write a bit more personal stuff here. I don't think I'll ever be one to blog like so many teens do, where every wart is laid out for the world to see. But I sense I will be doing more and more personal posting, as time goes by. I will still post a variety of things here, but as I implied in a post yesterday, I have to blog what interests me, or I cannot find the will to do it at all.

So we'll have to see what direction this all takes over the next few months. Who knows? I might even start posting pictures of my girls.

Ditched


05.11.29.Ditched-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Broadband Wireless Rocks


At Mrs. Muzzy's instigation - she wants to video chat with her sisters - the patriotic and muy guapo cable guy from Comcast came out yesterday and installed Broadband Internet Access at the Muzzy estate. I stopped by CompUSA last night and spent over an hour trying to figure out what kind of wireless router to connect with the cable modem, so I could use my laptop with it. And then I spent another couple of hours trying to get it configured so it would work properly. It was well past 11 pm when I finally got connected, and I was still online at 2 am, downloading this, and checking out that. I have now crossed the Digital Divide, and I gotta say: I could so very much get used to this. Broadband wireless rocks, indeed.

UPDATE: not so fast. Mrs. Muzzy can't log into AOL with the wireless router in place. We'll have to see if a firmware upgrade will help. If not, the router goes back to the store.

Praying For Good News


My lady blogger friend whose husband was operated for cancer last week informed me by email yesterday that they should receive test results tomorrow from the oncologists/pathologists about the type and extent of the cancer. It is my most sincere hope and prayer that they receive a good report, and that both be granted grace, as they go through this most difficult time.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Enjoy Every Sandwich


If you've read this blog for a while, you know that it's a bit of a hodge-podge: sometimes funny, sometimes somber, sometimes political, sometimes whimsical. I decided a long time ago I'd blog only what interested me, but I have always appreciated that there were others who seemed to enjoy coming along for the ride.

I normally write stuff here and forget it, but every once in a while I'm seized with the notion to go back and re-read old posts I've made. So, for those of you who have read this blog for a while, I'm sorry to be self-referential, but I just now went back and re-visited this post from last May, and choked up a bit.

Please remember: enjoy every sandwich.

This Is Tragic


Teen With Peanut Allergy Dies After Kiss:



A 15-year-old girl with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter snack, hospital officials said Monday.

Christina Desforges died in a Quebec hospital Wednesday after doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to the kiss the previous weekend.

Desforges, who lived in Saguenay, about 155 miles north of Quebec City, was almost immediately given a shot of adrenaline, a standard tool for treating the anaphylactic shock brought on by a peanut allergy, officials said.

An autopsy was being performed. Dr. Nina Verreault, an allergist at the Chicoutimi Hospital in Saguenay, declined to comment on the case.



Read the rest here.

A Question (Primarily) For The Ladies


You can respond in comments or to my email address - at the upper right - but I have a question for you ladies, and I'd appreciate your input and feedback:

My question: how much older is 'too old' for a younger woman/older man pairing? (Eh, what the hey, Gents can answer, too.)

Before you answer, please read on.

Many guys I know date and marry younger women. And many women seem attracted to older guys. I have always been attracted to younger women, and I ended up getting married at 38 years of age to a woman of 31.

(Yes, I know that some women date and marry younger men. My dad was 21 and my mom was 26 when they married. And I know about Ashton and Demi. But older women/younger men pairings are much less common, and it's usually younger women who end up with the older men.)

Aaliyah sang famously that "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number," but age differences can matter. Peer and family approval enter into the equation, and certainly there can be a difference in the stage(s) of life one is in. For example, a 20 year-old female college Junior may not be interested in settling down and raising a family, while her 30 year-old boyfriend might very well be.

While there are no laws that govern such things - at least not once all parties are of the legal age of consent - there are social conventions that differ from state to state, and country to country. An older man/younger woman paring is quite accepted in South America (where I grew up), and tends to be much more common there than it is in the States.

But I think that (almost universally) there is a point in a given culture where a man is considered too old for a woman, depending on how old the woman is. The older the woman, generally, the more acceptable it is for her to be with an older man.

So, again, my question: in your opinion, how much older is 'too old?' Or conversely, how much younger is 'too young?'

Here's my thought on the matter:

While I'm sure I'm going to feel differently about all this when they start dating, I have developed a rule of thumb about how much older, at most, a guy should be when dating either of my daughters. And, no, it will not apply when my girls are under 18 years of age. And, yes, the formula is somewhat arbitrary, but I think it sounds about right, to me.

Generally speaking, allowing for exceptions, the age of the man should be no more than, at most:

the age of the woman, times 2, minus half the age of the woman.


So, under this formula, for example, an 18 year-old woman would date, at the oldest, a guy who is no more than twice her age, minus half her age, (18 times 2 minus 9, or 25), which ends up being a 7 year difference in age. An 18 year-old woman and a 25 year-old guy doesn't sound outrageous to me, even at that age.

And, by that same calculus, a 24 year-old woman could date a guy who's as old as 36 (24 times 2 minus 12), for a 12 year difference in age. And 36 year-old woman could be be paired with a 54 year-old guy (36 times 2 minus 18) for an 18 year difference in age.

(Don't snicker too much. It happens alot. Several years back a good male friend, who was 48 at the time, married a woman who was 28. And an old girlfriend of mine, who is 39 years old this year, recently married a man who is 18 years older than she is. It's her second marriage. Her first marriage, at 26, was to a guy who also 18 years older than she. And she was 21 and I was 30 when we dated.)

Anyway, I'm not being dogmatic, and I'm not saying I think it should be chiseled on stone tablets, but it's a good rule of thumb, in my never-to-be-humble opinion.

Ok, then. Agree? Disagree? Go on. Have at it.

(And, BTW, I don't think necessarily that older men should end up with younger women, just that it tends to happen so very often.)

Free Online Lectures


Free downloads from The Teaching Company:



- Christmas in Victorian Britain -

In Christmas in Victorian Britain, Professor Allitt explores the celebration of Christmas as we know it today, with decorations, music, and lavish gift exchanges, and where it began-Victorian Britain. While the holiday had older traditions such as those that celebrated the winter solstice, the Victorians enhanced and clarified the religious elements of Christmas while at the same time commercializing it.

MP3 Download

32 K - Dial Up

96 K - High Speed


- Christmas in 19th Century America -

After familiarizing yourself with the origins of modern day Christmas, explore Christmas in 19th Century America. How did different ethnic groups in America celebrate Christmas in the early 19th century? Why did New Englanders often want to avoid all forms of celebration while Pennsylvania Germans dressed up, visited each other, and drank heavily? After the Civil War, Christmas celebrations began to be standardized throughout the nation under the influence of the new department stores, which ran the Christmas-oriented marketing campaigns we are familiar with today.

MP3 Download

32 K - Dial Up

96 K - High Speed

To download the MP3 format, please right click on your mouse and select "Save Target As...". Your computer will prompt you for a download location in which to save the file.



Enjoy.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Monday, November 28, 2005

Music Monday - #32


Past Music Mondays


+++++


I'm in a weakened state of funk today, so this will be a somewhat abbreviated Music Monday. I think I should be fine, though, when the effects of the Kryptonite wear off.

+++++


Lyrics Of The Week:

I couldn't find lyrics for the two Leadbelly downloads of the week, so I decided to include lyrics to these songs from my youth that - while they cannot remotely be called blues tunes - artfully express the spirit that is the blues, songs of melancholy and loss, that speak to the head, and for the heart:

1) - "Bookends Theme," by Paul Simon, as sung by Simon & Garfunkel.

and

2) - "Goodbye," by Elton John

+++++


Featured Free MP3 Downloads Of The Week:

This week, please download the following free MP3's from blues legend Leadbelly, best-known to younger audiences as being one of Cobain's favorite singers.

From the Leadbelly Web: "The legendary Huddie Ledbetter, the larger than life black American folk singer, Expert twelve string guitar player, with a claimed repertoire of some 500 songs, onetime companion of bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson, a long-time inmate of Southern penitentiaries, and later darling of the East coast white liberal establishment. Raconteur, womanizer, brawler, braggart and in latter days a devotee of left-wing causes..."

1) - "Boll Weevil"

and

2) - "I'm Goin' Mother (a-k-a Mama)"

(Music files courtesy Amazon.com. More about Leadbelly at Wikipedia.)

+++++


Can't get enough of the Belgian Pop and Rock Archives.

+++++


Not content to be known merely as a great actress and wife of playwright royalty David Mamet, the ever-lovely Rebecca Pidgeon makes cool music, too. Snag this free MP3 of the almost-too-swell-to-actually-be-ironic "Tough On Crime," courtesy the lefty turncoats at HuffingtonPost.

+++++


Speaking Out


Melissa is back.

As Plain As...


05.11.28.AsPlainAs-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Who Knew?



Who links here?


Desperate Husbands


I committed a major faux-pas last week in not setting the VCR to tape Desperate Housewives, one of the few shows Mrs. Muzzy and I watch together. I was prepared to winter in the shed until I remembered that the iTunes Store sells video downloads of, yup, Desperate Housewives, for the paltry sum of $1.99 per episode. Unfortunately, the cable guy isn't coming until tomorrow to install the Broadband internet access at the Muzzyplex (yes, he is), so I had to go over to the Inlaw's and download the big show on their DSL connection. And it was a good thing, too, cause it snowed this weekend, and now I'm back to sleeping indoors.

Fire, Fire, Fire


Several years back I bought a couple dozen boxes of Duraflame Fire Logs at Target, at the end of the winter season. I think I ended up paying less than $3.00 a box of three logs, which retail individually today for more than that much for each log. Anyway, we still have at least a dozen boxes of the logs, and when AE asked me to start a fire for her just now, I was not only admiring the lovely glow in the fireplace, but I was also thinking of how much I'm $aving every time I burn one of the logs. $weet.

Remembering Church - #2

Second in a series:

Last week I started a series of recollections of various area churches I have visited, and this week I chronicle a trip to a United Church Of Christ congregation in Falcon Heights.

The United Church of Christ is an amalgam of several smaller denominations - including those from the Congregational movement - cobbled together in the name of 'unity' and cost-savings, like were so many of the other modern large mainline denominations. And as is usually the case, the larger denomination has taken on the character of its more liberal constituents. I have been well aware of the UCC over the years, given that one of my aunts was a minister in the denomination, but I wasn't quite prepared for finding quite so liberal a church just down the street from my house.

(My father, himself a conservative Presbyterian minister and certified aircraft mechanic, used to say such arrangements: 'Well, if you add a quart of dirty oil to four quarts of clean oil, you get five quarts of dirty oil.')

The church building itself looks to have built in the sixties, a one-story attractive affair, with a Sunday-school wing and a full basement. The sanctuary has been remodeled in recent years, and is entered from the side, somewhat to the back. Greeters were at the door the day I visited, and they seemed warm and friendly, and happy to have a visit from a neighbor.

The UCC is one of the most liberal of mainline Protestant churches, and as is the case with liberal churches, comes with a heavy emphasis on so-called 'peace and justice' and social issues. Its roots are in the Reformed movement, but at times individual UCC congregations are so liberal that they more resemble Universalists than anything else. Falcon Heights UCC seemed to be somewhere in the mainstream of UCC churches, which still means very liberal.

How so?

Well, the Sunday I visited, I heard prayers for peace, peace and more peace, the pastor preached on the need for peace, and just after the sermon was over, a young woman in a green and white robe - a graduate of the local UCC Seminary, if I'm not mistaken - was invited to the front of the sanctuary, where several church members laid hands on her, for her missionary commissioning: to save the rain forest.

I kid you not.

She was *not* being commissioned to preach to native rain forest dwellers, or indigenous peoples. She was being commissioned as a minister to the rain forest, quite literally, to save it. I suppose she took the command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth seriously, love your Mother, and all that.

Look, I'm poking a bit of fun here, but they were quite serious about it. And I thought it was rather sad. I sat through an entire Protestant service and didn't hear anything about sin or grace or the need for redemption. But I did hear about how the greedy corporations needed to lay off the little guy, and how peace was possible if we all just loved a little more, and why the Jesus Saves the environment.

I'm a conservative, theologically and politically, but I have nothing against social service type projects, ideas, schemes, and dreams, even in churches. In fact, I think that's where such things belong, out of the hands of government tax mongers and into the hands of citizens in communities. As the apostle said 'Faith without works is dead.' But I think that Christian churches get the ox before the cart when they make their fundamental raison d'etre the caring of the body and only secondarily address the caring of the soul, and that's what I saw the day I visited the UCC congregation in Falcon Heights. It was a pleasant place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Friday, November 25, 2005

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Headline And A Comment


Simpson-Lachey breakup spurs online satire.

You know, I never thought much of either of them, but it's sad that so many seem gleeful that Nick and Jessica have split up, and just want to turn the dissolution of a marriage into sport. I suppose in some way they set themselves up for it by doing the reality TV show about their married lives together, but geez, leave them alone, I say. At the very least wait until the divorce papers are final to gloat and giggle. Or not.

It's About Time It Snowed


DSCF0473


Muzzy's Winter Wonderland


One More Thing To Be Thankful For



1.99 Gas

Cheaper Gas



Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Update


I just received an email from my dear lady blogger friend this AM, telling me her husband came through his cancer surgery yesterday in good form. It will be another week and a battery of tests before they know for sure the extent of the cancer, whether it had spread, and whether the surgeons got it all, but things look promising. And for that I am - as are they - most thankful.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Two More Things I'm Thankful For


Kute Kid Stuff Alert:

Every evening when I go to say good-night to my girls, I go thru a little routine with each of them:

Daddy: Who loves you?
Daughter: Daddy loves me.
Daddy: And who loves Daddy?
Daughter: I love Daddy.

I'm including two short MP3 files of me going thru said routine with 6 year-old AE, and me with 2 year-old LK.

Go ahead, say it, I don't mind: awww.

Happy Thanksgiving


05.11.22.HappyThanks-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Things I Am Thankful For In 2005


I published a version of this list last year, and I reproduce it here, slightly modified. Please read this and consider putting a similar list on your own blog, if you have one.

But first, I learned today that a dear blogger friend's husband has been diagnosed with cancer, and that he will operated on tomorrow, Thursday. If you will, please join me in praying that the surgery goes well, and that the post-op treatments are successful. (I'm not mentioning their names here, as I didn't ask her permission, but you may offer them up to God as 'Muzzy's Friend and Husband.')

So, on to my list:



My wife and kids, and extended family
Yahweh, Yeshua and Paraclete
A modicum of good health
Employment (no matter how dreary)
Financial solvency
My best friend, and my other three friends, too (gee, you know who you are)
My Macintosh computers
Dubyuh's ongoing leadership in the War On Terror
The Armed Forces of the United States
Freedom for Iraq and Afghanistan
The Northern Alliance
The Good Guys
My personal library
Our public library
Both my digital cameras
My MP3 players
JS Bach
Antonio Vivaldi
Mozart
Nick Drake
The House Of Love
The Innocence Mission
John Piper
C.S. Lewis
HL Mencken
The heritage and legacy of my citizenship
The heritage and legacy of my upbringing
eBay
Nordstrom
Lipitor
Prilosec
Caffeine
Cherry Pepsi and/or Coke
Vanilla Chocolate Chip Hagen Daz
Free Wi-Fi Coffee Shops
Mozilla
The regular readers of this humble Blog
Blogspot still being free



Feel free to add to this in comments, if you wish.

Thankful For The Thermostat


The following is excerpted from A Mencken Chrestomathy, and was published originally in The American Mercury, in January of 1931, posted last Thanksgiving here.



Of all the inventions of modern times the one that has given me most comfort and joy is one that is seldom heard of, to wit, the thermostat. I was amazed, some time ago, to hear that it was invented at least a generation ago. I first heard of it during the War of 1914-18, when some kind friend suggested that I throw out the coal furnace that was making steam in my house and put in a gas furnace. Naturally enough, I hesitated, for the human mind is so constituted. But the day I finally succumbed must remain ever memorable in my annals, for it saw me move at one leap from an inferno into a sort of paradise. The patriotic anthracite men loaded their culm-piles on cars, and sold them to householders all over the East. Not a furnace-man was in practise in my neighborhood: all of them were working in the shipyards at $15 a day. So I had to shovel coal myself, and not only shovel coal, but sift ashes. It was a truly dreadul experience. Worse, my house was always either too hot or too cold. When a few pieces of actual coal appeared in the mass of slate the temperature leaped up to 85 degrees, but most of the time it was between 45 and 50.

The thermostat changed all that, and in an instant. I simply set it at 68 degrees, and went about my business. Whenever the temperature in the house went up to 70 it automatically turned off the gas under the funace in the cellar, and there was an immediate return to 68. And if the mercury, keeping on, dropped to 66, then the gas went on again, and the temperature was soon 68 once more. I began to feel like a man liberated from the death-house. I was never too hot or too cold. I had no coal to heave, no ashes to sift. My house became so clean that I could wear a shirt five days. I began to feel like work, and rapidly turned out a series of imperishable contributions to the national letters. My temper improved so vastly that my family began to suspect senile changes. Moreover, my cellar became as clean as the rest of the house, and as roomy as a barn. I enlarged my wine-room by 1000 cubic meters. I put in a cedar closet big enough to hold my whole wardrobe. I added a vault for papers, a carpenter shop, and a praying chamber.

For all these boons and usufructs I was indebted to the inventor of the thermostat, a simple device but incomparable. I'd print his name here, but unfortunately I forget it. He was one of the great benefactors of humanity. I wouldn't swap him for a dozen Marconis, a regiment of Bells, or a whole army corps of Edisons. Edison's life-work, like his garrulous and non-sensical talk, has been mainly a curse to humanity: he has greatly augmented its stock of damned nuisances. But man who devised the thermostat, at all events in my private opinion, was a hero comparable to Shakespeare, Michelangelo or Beethoven.



Gets no argument from me.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Pair Of Jacks


Forty-two years ago today a pair of Irish Jacks died: CS Lewis, and JF Kennedy.

(It is not inevitable that men are still remembered after they have gone to their eternal destiny, but both of these Jacks will be, and for many years to come.)

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Monday, November 21, 2005

Music Monday - #31


Past Music Mondays


+++++


Lyrics Of The Week:

"Mandlebrot Set," by Jonathan Coulton

and

"Baby Got Back," lyrics by Sir Mix-A-Lot, with original music as sung by Jonathan Coulton

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Featured Free MP3 Downloads Of The Week:

WTMT_cdThis week, please download the following free MP3's from Jonathan Coulton, mad musical genius who writes songs with the twisted lyrical content of the likes of Randy Newman and Frank Zappa, but more akin musically to the Barenaked Ladies.

Mr. Coulton's songs are at times a bit smutty, a bit irreverent, a bit scary, but always brilliant and catchy and clever.

Don't believe me? Here's what Amazon said about his EP "Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow," which contains "Madlebrot Set:"

"A little funny + a little sad = a lot awesome. Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow is 5 new songs about losers, evil geniuses and giant squids. Sure, it's goofy geek rock and yes it's hilarious, but listen closely and it will break your heart. Coulton's is the voice of every spooky elementary school kid who could never quite keep his shirt tucked in or shoes tied; every lovelorn mad scientist (that's right, you know who you are); every one of us who has ever spent time alone during the dreaded "Couples Skate" at the roller rink."

So, run - don't walk - to download these, and give a listen:

1) - "Mandlebrot Set"

and

2) - "Baby Got Back"

(Music files courtesy Jonathan Coulton. More about the Mandlebrot Set at Wikipedia.)

+++++


Sony BMG Sued Under Anti-Spyware Laws.

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With one of the loveliest voices recording today, Inara George - daughter of Little Feat founding member Lowell George - delivers a strong first album, with 2-minute streaming audio snippets of each song available at CD Baby. Several streaming tracks are also available on her record company's website.

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Christina Aguilera Goes Bridal.

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You'll need broadband to hear the streaming audio, but do what they say: Listen To Feist.

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Wikipedia has a concise history of the Grand Ole Opry.

+++++


Throw Another Skippy On The Barbie?


From Yahoo:



How do you like your kangaroo -- medium rare? Doesn't sound too appealing, does it?

So in a bid to make Australia's national icon more palatable, Food Companion International magazine and the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia are running a competition to find a more palatable culinary name for the meat of the hopping marsupials.



How about "Tribbiani?"

Read the rest here.

Vigeland


All you ever wanted to know about Vigeland - and a whole lot more.

Muzzy Explained


Frequently Asked Question #1: who's Muzzy?

Unfriendly Fire


05.11.20.UnfriendlyFire-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Yes! You Can Use Your GPS With Your Mac!


Helicopter pilot and wanderer Maria Langer avoids getting lost by employing a very modern technology: GPS navigation. But for a while she was stuck using it with her Windows PC. Learn how she works navigational magic these days, with some readily available freeware and shareware that take advantage of GPS capabilities, but on the Mac.

From InformIT:



One of the drawbacks of being among the Mac faithful—the only drawback, as far as I'm concerned—is the apparent lack of limited-interest software available for Mac users. If you've been using a Mac for more than a short time, you know what I'm talking about. It appears that most profit-motivated software developers would rather produce software for the bigger share of the market—the Windows PC users—than for Mac users. The result: They get software that we don't.

I've been using a global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation for at least eight years now and, until recently, I've had to depend on my lone PC to communicate with my GPS. That means I had to start it up, fiddle around with COMM port cables, and run Windows software (yuck!) to exchange waypoints and track logs and routes between the two devices. I wasn't very happy about that. After all, we all know how I feel about Windows PCs.

One day, I snapped. It wasn't fair, I told myself. There has to be some Mac-compatible software that will work with my GPS. So I went surfing and came away with some great information and a few good pieces of software. Here's what I learned.



Read the rest here.

Free Online Courses


From CNet.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Warm Winter Forecast




(Stolen from Eckernet.)


Remembering Church


I have always had a fascination with the belief systems people hold to, whether secular or religious. Although I'm a Christian and fairly well-grounded in what I believe - I was raised Presbyterian, became a Calvinist Baptist, and have attended my wife's Lutheran Church in recent years - I've always spent time and energy learning about various Christian sects, and other world religions.

A number of years ago I had a notion to get together a group of three or four like-minded guys for a project: on every third Sunday, when Mrs. Muzzy was working, we would visit a local house of worship, then meet for lunch afterwards to discuss what we had heard and seen. Trying to do such a thing can be a bit of a problem when one doesn't have many friends, and I was never able to get it off the ground, so I finally decided to do it on my own.

Over a period of a couple of years in the late 1990's, I visited a variety of churches that might be considered Christian - ones that had at very least come out of a Christian tradition - in and around the metro area: a large Methodist church downtown Minneapolis; a small Seventh Day Adventist congregation in Saint Paul; a Morman congregation in Minneapolis; a Messianic Jewish Congregation in the suburbs; a Catholic church nearby; a Congregationalist church; a liberal American Baptist church; a Black Apostolic Baptist church; a United Church Of Christ congregation; a Christian Science congregation; a large downtown ELCA Lutheran church downtown; a small Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church in the suburbs; a Greek Orthodox Temple in Minneapolis.

Often I would call ahead to find out if there might be anything a visitor should know so as not to embarrass himself or his hosts. In nearly every case I was greeted graciously, and sometimes enthusiastically. Unfortunately I never wrote down my thoughts immediately afterwards, and after my oldest daughter AE was born, about six years ago, I have no longer had the time to continue my visiting. My impressions have begun to fade, but I have decided to finally write them down.

On each Sunday over the next few weeks I'm going to try to record here whatever I can recall of each visit I made to those various houses of worship, as best I can, along with whatever commentary springs to mind.

So, in no particular order, I start with the First Universalist congregation in Minneapolis, housed in a former Jewish Temple in south Minneapolis, in a lovely building with a spacious meeting area, and with pillars in front. Universalists and Unitarians merged some decades back, but each congregation maintains its own identity, some quasi-Christian, some not at all. The First Universalist Church of Minnepolis actually felt to me like being in one of the more liberal Christian denominations, such as the United Church of Christ, but without overt references to Jesus. They stressed peace and justice issues, and appeared to have a healthy attendence of some several hundred members.

I arrived just in time for the 10 AM service, and found a seat at the front of the balcony, where I could see the whole interior of the sanctuary. Like so many liberal institutions that proclaim diversity as a prime directive, the church seemed made up of mostly middle-class white persons, with not more than one or two persons of color in attendence. Here and there I saw what appeared to be an openly gay couple, holding hands. At the front of the room was a flaming chalice, a common symbol of the Universalist movement.

The whole service seemed to me at once very familiar, and yet vaguely unsettling: there were hymns sung from hymnals that paid homage to the Hebrew G-d and to the Buddha and to the Great Spirit in the Sky and to human reason, a sermon that was nothing so much as a meditation on the beauty of the Fall season, a choir singing songs of joy to nothing in particular - and, of course, the passing of honest-to-the-Great-Spirit offering plates. After the service there was a coffee time and punch time in the foyer, and everyone went home in time to catch the game on TV.

It was all very pleasant, but in the end, it felt like church for people who want the trappings of organized religion without any of the strictures of any reasoned theology. Whatever one wants to believe in one's heart is fine with them, it seemed. They made it clear that the only thing they will not tolerate is intolerance - a noble concept, it seems to me, but a rather hollow one. I left feeling like I'd been in a kind of Potemkin Church, one that proported to assist its members in the pursuit of spirituality, without the courage of any real convictions whatsoever. I respect their right to practice their beliefs - or lack thereof - but it seems odd to me to create a religious system that doesn't really advocate belief in much of anything other than everyone's right to believe anything one chooses. I can disagree strongly with Catholics or Mormons on their theology, but admire their willingness to present a comprehensive world view, and to hold strongly to it. That kind of certainty regarding epistemelogical matters - or any kind of certainty, really - is precisely what the First Universalists in Minneapolis are quite proudly against.

Still, my visit there was an interesting experience, and so much so, in fact, that it was one of the few Churches I chose to make a return visit.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Friday, November 18, 2005

Seasoned Deer




Find Your Hotspot


Courtesy USAToday/JWire.

Sony Rootkit: The Untold Story


From ZDNet:



Sony rootkit: The untold story by ZDNet's David Berlind -- In light of the way Bruce Schneier has published Sony's DRM Rootkit: The real story -- a story that recounts how quickly things have gone from bad to worse for Sony, I thought it would only be fitting to publish the untold story (does our industry have the equivalent of the E! Hollywood True [...]



Yahoo has the followup story:

Sony BMG offers MP3 files and disks for unsafe CDs.

Paging Joan Rivers


Awful Plastic Surgery.

Does It Come With Chili?


Found on ebay, only 99 cents each, plus shipping:



CHRISTMAS THUMB!

ONE LUCKY BUYER GETS FREE JESUS TOAST

Lifesize!

(Includes detailed instructions and suggestions for use)

Only 35 Available!

Each one comes with a FREE surprise tucked inside!

Be the first person in your family to give a plastic thumb this holiday season! That is if you can bring yourself to give it away.



Full listing here.

Usenet


Usenet has fallen somewhat out of fasion these days, and I suspect that many new internet users haven't even heard of it, but it's still a worthwhile source of info and downloads, methinks. You probably already have Usenet thru your ISP - even AOL has it - but if you don't, you may want to check into using a Premium Usenet Provider. If you don't need all the features of a premium service, Freenews maintains a list of free and public Usenet news servers. And, if you only want to read postings without downloading binaries, Google Groups offers a web-based front end for reading Usenet. (Harley Hahn has a good brief article on using Usenet.)

Podcasting


InformIT tells you how.

Breached


05.11.17.Breached-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Teach Your Children Well


From Yahoo News:



Mom Makes Teen Stand on Street With Sign

By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer

Wed Nov 16, 9:42 PM ET

Tasha Henderson got tired of her 14-year-old daughter's poor grades, her chronic lateness to class and her talking back to her teachers, so she decided to teach the girl a lesson.

She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."

"This may not work. I'm not a professional," said Henderson, a 34-year-old mother of three. "But I felt I owed it to my child to at least try."

In fact, Henderson has seen a turnaround in her daughter's behavior in the past week and a half. But the punishment prompted letters and calls to talk radio from people either praising the woman or blasting her for publicly humiliating her daughter.



Read the rest here.

Yikes, It's Cold




(That's Negative 12 Celsius, to the rest of the world.)



Chaps In A Tangle


From today's WSJ Opinionjournal:



It's cowboys vs. eggheads in a New West showdown.

BY LEO W. BANKS

Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

PHOENIX--I could stare at cowboy art all day and find nothing controversial. But these are weird times, and the culture war pulls in combatants from unexpected places. Now the fight has moved to the open range of the Old West, and we encounter the bizarre spectacle of the American cowboy denounced as a neocon stooge.

For the third year running, protesters are demonstrating against the Phoenix Art Museum's exhibition and sale of works by the Cowboy Artists of America. Protest organizer Melissa Morrison, a 38-year-old writer who didn't return my calls, terms it "the pink chaps protest" and names Martha Burk as her inspiration. Recall that for some time, Ms. Burk has been hectoring Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, to accept females.

The Phoenix women have their chaps in a tangle over what they view as discrimination--the museum's hosting of a show by a group with no female members.



Read more on this outrage here.

Your Moment Of Zen



Despair, Inc


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quiz Thingy


Sent to me via email from a loyal reader: Muzzy posts personal revealing stuff here.

Conspiracy 3 - The Truth About Belgium


The TRUTH About "Belgium" - The New World Order's Belgian Conspiracy.

Conspiracy 2 - AFDB



Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie - An Effective, Low-Cost Solution To Combating Mind-Control

Conspiracy 1 - The Truth About Black Helicopters


Yup: Black Helicopters.

Shoah

I checked out "Shoah" - Claude Lanzmann's nine hours-long Holocaust documentary - from the library this last week. I have managed to watch several hours of it so far, and have found myself experiencing the same sense of oppressive emotional devastation that I felt twenty-five years ago, when I took my first Holocaust Studies class.

The sheer magnitude and banality of the evil that was the Shoah is overwhelming, and makes my head swim. And yet how much more does my head swim to ponder the fact that similar horrific events have happened - again and again - in my own lifetime, in Cambodia and Rwanda as prominent examples.

In any event, I recommend you take the time to watch "Shoah," and let yourself drink in the enormity of what happened. It may not change your life, but you will not remain unchanged.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Uncyclopedia


This pretty much says it all:



Welcome to Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.



Alrighty, then. (And thanks to G for the tip.)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Music Monday - #30


Past Music Mondays


+++++


Lyrics Of The Week:

"New Favorite," by Alison Krauss and Union Station

and

"The Lucky One," by Alison Krauss and Union Station

+++++


Featured Free MP3 Downloads Of The Week:

This week sample a couple of tunes from the ever-lovely Grammy Award-winning Alison Krauss and Union Station, AKA AKUS. From their roots in Bluegrass, to their Country/Bluegrass/Pop fusion of today, Alison and US never fail to please, and are every bit as good live as they are on disc.



1) - "New Favorite"

and

2) - "The Lucky One"

(Music files courtesy Amazon.com - free Amazon account needed for downloads.)


+++++


NEWS - Minnesota B Nice: Shopping mall closed after free B5 concert turns chaotic

+++++


Download this impressive free MP3 of "Why Bother It All" - by Koufax - courtesy Amazon.com.

+++++


NEWS - Grease is the word: Crisco(R) and Country Music Team Up in the Kitchen.

+++++


For nigh unto a couple of decades I've heard tell of the Negativeland parodies of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and how the band was sued by Island records over it, but I never really understood what the broohaha was all about. The recording has not been sold for years, but two versions of the The Forbidden Single are available as free MP3 downloads from the Negativeland's Website. Download them both, and you'll never hear the original the same again.

(Note: the lyrics are mo' definitely R-Rated, so send the kiddies outta the room before you play them.)

1) - "Acappella Version"

and

2) - "Radio Edit Version"

+++++


NEWS - Now this is a good vibe: Hip-hop stars on best behavior at awards show.

+++++


You haven't heard it all until you've heard Mike Macharyas' free low-fi MP3 gems, with lyrics consisting of just the name of the celebrity to which the song is dedicated, repeated over and over and over. Genius or Madman? Download these, give a listen, and you decide - courtesy Amazon.com:

1) - "Ashlee Simpson""

and

2) - "Kevin Federline"

and

3) - "Lindsay Lohan"

+++++


Way-Too-Much-Time-On-Their-Hands


From Wikipedia:



Dope Wars is a turn-based strategy computer game in which the player simulates the role of a drug dealer. The game's objective is to eliminate all competitors and build a monopoly on illegal narcotics. Dope Wars is loosely based on another computer game called Drug Wars.

There have been various incarnations of this game. There are web-based versions of the game, a version for Palm handhelds, a Windows client version, and a Linux client. Unfortunately, there have been reports of spyware bundled with the Windows client.



Hmm. I suppose computerized play-acting at drug dealing is no worse than playing Grand Theft Auto - which, BTW, has an early Windows free version available for download here. But me? Neh. Who's got the time?

This Explains Alot


From InformIT:

Unsustainable Software Development and its Causes.

Historical Rewrite


05.11.13.HistortRewrite-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Peter Drucker RIP


Management Guru Peter Drucker died on Friday, at the age of ninety-five. I recall reading various books of his for my college coursework, and even as a green rube of nineteen, I recognized him as a Very Wise Man.

The WSJ Opinion Journal excerpeted today some quotes from the huge body of work he did for them over the years. Here's a sample:



From "Is Executive Pay Excessive?" May 23, 1977:

Economically, [the] few very large executive salaries are quite unimportant. Socially, they do enormous damage. They are highly visible and highly publicized. And they are therefore taken as typical, rather than as the extreme exceptions they are.

These few very large salaries are being explained by the "need" to pay the "market price" for executives. But this is nonsense. Every executive knows perfectly well that it is the internal logic of a hierarchical structure that explains them. . . . Money is a status symbol which defines an executive's place in the corporate hierarchy. And the more levels there are the more pay does the man at the top have to get. This rewards people for creating additional levels of management. . . . Yet levels of management should be kept to the minimum. . . .

If and when the attack on the "excessive compensation of executives" is launched--and I very much fear that it will come soon--business will complain about the public's "economic illiteracy" and will bemoan the public's "hostility to business." But business will have only itself to blame. It is a business responsibility, but also a business self-interest, to develop a sensible executive compensation structure that portrays economic reality and asserts and codifies the achievement of U.S. business in this century: the steady narrowing of the income gap between the "boss man" and the "working man."



Read the whole piece here.

It Was Sad When The Great Ship Went Down


From Wikipedia:



SS Edmund Fitzgerald was a ship that sank suddenly on Lake Superior, November 10, 1975. The ship went down without a distress signal in a November gale. It sank in 530 feet (162 m) of water at 46°59.9′ N 85°6.6′ W, in Canadian waters about 17 miles (15 nm; 27 km) from the entrance to Whitefish Bay. All 29 members of the crew were killed.



(Yes, that Edmund Fitzgerald.)

Read the rest here.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Play Time


Have a little fun with these Classic 80's Games. (My fave is Pong.)

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep


I pray thee Lord my soul to keep:



Researchers at The University of Manchester funded by the Fungal Research Trust have discovered millions of fungal spores right under our noses - in our pillows.

Aspergillus fumigatus, the species most commonly found in the pillows, is most likely to cause disease; and the resulting condition Aspergillosis has become the leading infectious cause of death in leukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients. Fungi also exacerbate asthma in adults.

The researchers dissected both feather and synthetic samples and identified several thousand spores of fungus per gram of used pillow - more than a million spores per pillow.



Oh yes, there's lot's more about fungus and dust mites here.

History's Worst Software Bugs


Wired Magazine has The List.

The Baby Bust


From The Week:



The Baby Bust

The global fertility rate now stands at 2.9 children for every woman of child-bearing age—a decrease of nearly 50 percent since 1972. According to the latest U.N. projections, the world’s fertility rate will fall below “replacement” levels by 2045, meaning that the human population will start shrinking. For a population to remain stable, the fertility rate must be 2.1 in nations with low infant mortality, and higher where more die in early childhood. Some 60 countries are now operating below replacement levels. “Never in the last 650 years, since the time of the Black Plague,” said sociologist Ben Wattenberg, “have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places.”



Read the rest here.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Friday, November 11, 2005

Visiting Hours


On April 27th, 2005, I made the following blog entry:



A few weeks ago I read an installment of Ben Stein's Diary in the paper version of The American Spectator. It was one of the most touching and eloquent tributes to Veterans of the Armed Services that I've ever seen. I was so moved when I read this piece that I actually found myself on the verge of tears in a crowded McDonalds over a lunch hour. I contacted The American Spectator and was given permission to reproduce the article here. I urge you to read the whole piece, all the way through.



On this Veteran's Day, dedicated to remembering those who've served this country in its defense, please do read Mr. Stein's tribute again - or for the very first time. And be sure to tell the next Veteran you meet how much you appreciate their service.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Thursday, November 10, 2005

News Of The Northern Alliance?



From SF Examiner:



Senior Citizen Bloggers Defy Stereotypes

By CARLA K. JOHNSON

CHICAGO - Forget shuffleboard, needlepoint and bingo. Web logs, more often the domain of alienated adolescents and home to screeds by middle-aged pundits, are gaining a foothold as a new leisure-time option for senior citizens.

There's Dad's Tomato Garden Journal, Dogwalk Musings, and, of course, the Oldest Living Blogger.

"It's too easy to sit in your own cave and let the world go by, eh?" said Ray Sutton, the 73-year-old Oldest Living Blogger and a retired electrician who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. "It keeps the old head working a little bit so you're not just sitting there gawking at TV."

Web logs, or blogs, are online journals where people write about anything and everything that interests them. Blogs tend to be topical, and typically offer links to other Web sites, photos and opportunities for readers to comment.

Bloggers say their hobby keeps them up on current events, lets them befriend strangers around the globe and gives them a voice in a society often deaf to the wisdom of the elderly.

"It brings out the best in me," said Boston-area blogger Millie Garfield, 80, who writes My Mom's Blog with occasional help from her son, Steve Garfield, a digital video producer. "My life would be dull without it."



Read the rest here.

Envirophobia


05.11.10.Envirophobia-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Just Some Excitable Boys


From CNN:



SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The Sydney arm of an alleged Islamic terror network had stockpiled enough chemicals to make at least 15 large bombs, a newspaper reported Thursday, as police sifted through evidence seized in a series of pre-dawn raids earlier this week.



Read the rest here.

Attention Lefties


You wanna move to Canada? Good news: Canada wants you. Now go.

Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Arc de Multiculti


05.11.08.ArcdeMulti-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F


Your Moment Of Zen




Despair, Inc


Vain Glories


I'm dusting off this prior post (with additions and updates), originally posted October 6, 2004, because I'm just too lazy to write much today.


+++++


I'm Muzzy, mild-mannered blue-green creature from outer space, and a card-carrying WingNut member of the Hoi Polloi. But, like most of us, I have had brushes with various luminaries of some stripe or other. Here are a few of the ones I can remember:

+++++


Jesse Ventura (Former Minnesota Governor)

I'm not sure this even counts since we didn't actually speak but what the hay: I was standing in line at the Government Center cafeteria one day when I noticed a tall, bald-headed man standing in front of me. I nodded a perfunctory 'hello' to him, and he nodded back. It was only after I heard him talking into his cellphone about the settlement he'd just won from Vince McMahon that I realized I was standing behind the then-mayor of Brooklyn Park, later Governor of Minnesota, former wrestler and movie star Jesse Ventura.

+++++


Norm Coleman, Dave Durenberger, Rudy Boschwitz (Minnesota Senators)

I got to shake hands and chat - twice in the past five years at the Minnesota State Fair - with Senator Norm Coleman, former mayor of Saint Paul and failed candidate for Governor of Minnesota. I also met former senators Dave Durenberger and Rudy Boschwitz at the Fair in years past, once each.

+++++


Hugh Hewitt (Author, Nationally syndicated radio Talk Show Host)

A couple of years back Hugh broadcast his national radio show from our State Fair, and came out of the local affiliate's booth to meet and greet the faithful who had congregated outside. One of my best friends had just given me a copy of Hewitt's then-latest book 'In But Not Of,' and I got to tell him how much I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I didn't have a copy of the book with me, and I didn't get his autograph.

+++++


Various Northern Alliance Luminaries (Bloggers Extraordinaire)

I can't say that I've spent more than a couple of minutes chatting with any of the Alliance Gents at various Minnesota blogger functions, but they are well known in local circles, and their blogs are among the biggest Poli Blogs in the country. Even though I don't always agree with them on matters political, I hold them in the highest esteem for their fine writing and astute insights.

+++++


Willard Scott (American TV personality, NBC Today Show)

Willard Scott was the NBC Today Show weatherman before Al Roker took the job, and legend has it that in the early days of television, played Bozo The Clown and Ronald McDonald. Back in 1982 he was in town for a local department store anniversary celebration, and was cutting and handing out cake to patrons at a local Mall. I went down and met him briefly. He's tall, but I'm taller than he is. When he saw me, he turned to the cameraman from the local news crew and told them to get some footage of him and me standing back-to-back, for the evening news. I did get him to autograph a photo I'd taken of him the year before when he had been Grand Marshall of the Winter Carnival parade.

+++++


Martin Sheen (Film and TV Actor, Apocalypse Now, The West Wing

Sheen had just produced and narrated a documentary about Agent Orange and brought the film to town for its World Premiere, screened at the Film School I attended in the early 1980's. I stood in line - like everyone else - and shook his hand, told him how much I appreciated his role of Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now. I didn't ask for his autograph, and was probably afraid he might 'terminate me, with extreme prejudice.'

+++++


Dorothy Stratten (Model, Actress)

I'm just a wee bit sheepish about admitting this, and I didn't actually meet Dorothy, but it's a near-miss worth chronicling, methinks: my senior year college roommate had a subscription to Playboy, and I always made a point of reading it for the, ahem, articles. (Cut me some slack, it was 25 years ago, and I was in college, awight?) Anyway, the summer after my college graduation I had alot of time on my hands, and got it in my head to send a polite typed fan letter to Dorothy Stratten - Centerfold Of The Month for that July, as I recall. Dorothy was later named Centerfold Of The Year the following year, and went on to appear in several movies, including a co-starring role with John Ritter and Audrey Hepburn in the Peter Bogdonovich film, 'They All Laughed.' I was quite surprised a couple of months later when I received a very tasteful (non-nude) autographed modeling photograph and a hand-written letter, answering some of my questions and thanking me for writing to her. Dorothy Stratten was killed the next year by her estranged husband Paul, and was the subject of the Bob Fosse movie 'Star 80,' starring Mariel Hemingway. And, just as most people remember where they were when they heard Kennedy or Reagan or John Lennon were shot, I remember exactly where I was when I heard on the radio that Dorothy had been shot and killed. In the end, she seemed to me to be a sweet girl caught up in a business that she didn't belong in.

+++++


Kerry Livgren (Singer, guitarist, songwriter for 80's band Kansas)

A friend was promoting a concert in town for Livgren's post-Kansas band, A.D. Although they performed mostly new stuff, they also did a few of the Kansas hits, such as 'Dust In The Wind,' and 'Carry On Wayward Son.' I was asked to photograph the concert and, afterwards, got to hang out backstage and meet the band. Livgren seemed like a nice enough guy, but he was fairly soft-spoken and I felt awkward trying to make conversation with him. I was too embarrassed to ask for his autograph, and I suspect he would have been annoyed to have been asked.

+++++


Sixpence None The Richer (Recording group, Hitmakers)

Sixpence had been knocking about the CCM underground scene for years before they were taken under the wing of former Enfant Terrible Steve Taylor, and catapulted to stardom with songs like the ubiquitous 'Kiss Me,' and their cover of Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over.' The day their big album was released, producer Steve Taylor chartered a jet and flew the band to 6 cities in 18 hours, playing short acoustic sets all over North America. I happened to be at the show they did at a local coffeehouse, in front of no more than 75 to 100 people. I got my copy of their CD autographed by lead singer Leigh and the rest of the band, as well as by Steve Taylor, whom I'd known in passing in another life, and got to chat with them all for a few minutes. 6 months later I was pushing a shopping cart through a supermarket, and heard 'Kiss Me' on the PA system: it was a certified hit.

+++++


Stryper (CCM Metal Band)

During the mid 1980's Stryper sold millions of records, and opened for bands like Bon Jovi and Ratt. A friend was promoting a local show in a 5000-seat auditorium, and asked my buddy Joe and me to take Stryper's lead singer Michael Sweet and his bass player around town to buy some clothes for a photo shoot. We left the Saint Paul arena and drove to downtown Minneapolis, where we ended up at one of several of the Block E rock shops. Michael was wearing grey sweats and no makeup, and looked utterly unlike his stage persona. He pointed out several items of Stryper merchandise in the shop to me, noting which were authorized and which were not. As we stood there, an ad came on the rock station that was playing on the PA system, announcing a handful of seats left for that night's Stryper show. Michael asked the young clerk if he might know of the band being advertised, to which the clerk answered: 'Stryper? Yeah, I know em. They suck!' Michael and his bandmate, and Joe and I just about bust a gut laughing. When we regained our composure, Michael extended his hand and introduced himself as the lead singer of the band. The clerk turned beet-red, but Michael assured him there were no hard feelings, and even offered to leave two tickets at the will-call window that night for him, but the young man politely declined, as I recall.

+++++


T-Bone Burnett and Sam Phillips (Singer-Songwriters, Husband and Wife, Record Producer [him])

This should really be split into two sections, because I met them at different venues, when they were not even married. In fact, I'm not sure if T-Bone had even heard of Leslie/Sam, when I met him. T-Bone Burnett came to fame as a member of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, later with the Alpha Band, and most recently made his mark as the musical producer of 'O Brother Where Out Thou?' I saw him during his solo recording career, in the early 80's. After the show I hung out at the edge of the stage and got to say hi to him and shake his hand, but I didn't get his autograph. As for Sam Phillips, she had been toiling away in the CCM scene under the name Leslie Phillips when she recorded a rather dark - but splendid - album produced by T-Bone Burnett, whom she went on to marry. I saw Sam perform under her new name shortly after her second T-Bone-produced album was released. After the show I waited with some friends at the back of the club for Sam, and when she finally came out, we all stood around and chatted for about 10 minutes. She was gracious and friendly, but I didn't get an autograph from her, either.

+++++


Willard Harley (Author, Psychologist, Marriage Counselor)

Dr. Harley was my psychology professor in my freshman psych class. He went on to write a book on marriage called 'His Needs, Her Needs,' that has sold over 1,000,000 copies. I wouldn't say he and I are friends, by any stretch, but I have run in to him from time to time at local book-signings, and have several copies of his subsequent books autographed by him. I most recently met up with him and his wife last year at the State Fair, where they were co-hosting her local radio show. I chatted with him at the commercial break and he asked me to join them on air for a brief parley. I must say, I didn't mind the idea of being heard by thousands on the radio, but the assembled dozen or so people who were watching the proceedings intimidated the heck out of me. But true to their word, I received an autographed copy of his latest book in the mail later that week, for having been brave enough to go on the show.

+++++


Richard Halverson (Author, Minister, US Senate Chaplain)

During his tenure as the Senate Chaplain, Dr. Halverson was the pastor of my Dad's sister's Presbyterian church in the Washington D.C. Area. My Dad - a reverend, himself - had met Dr. Halverson at some function back-in-the-day, and when he found out that the Right Reverend was going to be speaking at my college during my freshman year, Dad instructed me to hunt down the Chaplain and say hi. I felt quite foolish, standing to the side while others took their time chatting with him. I finally got my minute or two, introduced myself and told him how glowingly both my Dad and his sister spoke of him. He seemed to me to be a kind and decent man and I was, in the end, glad I'd taken the time to meet him.

+++++


Billy Graham (Preacher, Friend Of Presidents)

This one is another near-miss, but worth telling, and for very different reasons than Ms. Stratten's story, above. I was at a Religious Youth Convention in the late 1970's at which Billy Graham was the featured afternoon plenary speaker. There were several thousand people in attendance, and after the session, hundreds of audience members congregated around the stage to meet Dr. Graham and/or to shake his hand. I was at the periphery of the crowd, but over the next few minutes was able to work my way to within feet of the celebrated Man of God. I was just about to press into the last line of bodies separating me from the good Reverend D.D., when I saw a woman just in front of me reaching out to Dr. Graham, shouting, "Touch Me, Billy, Touch Me!" Billy appeared to wince but graciously shook the woman's hand and autographed her Bible. I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of the moment, but truth was, for all her foolishness, I realized that I wasn't much different than the Silly Woman I'd just seen. I realized that Rev. Graham probably wanted nothing more than to get back to his hotel and take a nap, so I sheepishly turned around, pushed my way back through of the crowd and out of the auditorium.