Sunday, May 31, 2020

Prayer always

I've been watching the looting and violence currently taking place, supposedly in response to the sad death of George Floyd. I feel anger and sadness watching these criminals engaging in theft and vandalism even in the presence of the police.

I'm reminded of an incident recounted in Mark 9:14-29 in which Jesus' disciples were unable to drive out an unclean spirit from a boy.The boy's father appealed to Jesus on behalf of his possessed son:

“Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a spirit that makes him mute. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable.” 

"O unbelieving generation!” Jesus replied. “How long must I remain with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to Me.”

Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the boy, and immediately he was cured. Later on His disciples asked Him why they were unable to do this themselves.

Jesus answered, “This kind cannot come out, except by prayer.”

It seems to me that these rioters ("protesters," to use the PC newscast term) are possessed, judging by the way they act and don't seem to respond to anything. As I watch and feel helpless since the police don't seem to have much luck because of the sheer numbers of the rioters, I wonder what can be done? 

The first and foremost thing that can be done, that should be done with any difficult situation, is to pray. God is always in control. Maybe it doesn't seem that way, but we are too small to know the mind of God and His purposes and plans. We can still pray, however. 

I know there are non-believers who scoff at prayer, considering it as useless talk that accomplishes nothing - as in, all talk and no action. But that is not the case. Prayer should precede action; we need to ask the Lord for guidance and wisdom in a situation, to enable us to discern the right course of action and then enable us with the courage and resources to follow through. Action without prayer is what ultimately accomplishes nothing.

Maybe there's nothing we can really do; many things are beyond our control, but nevertheless we need to keep praying because nothing is beyond God's control; He hears us. If He does call us to action then we pray His Spirit will lead us so we may serve by doing His will, that we will be the light of Christ through it all.

Prayer works. Jesus said it - O unbelieving generation! in response to unsuccessful attempts to help the boy who was out of control. Take heed of His words: This kind cannot come out, except by prayer.

Friday, May 29, 2020

my brother's keeper?

As I write this, an event that has the country up in arms is the death of George Floyd, who died while being held on the ground by a police officer whose knee was on his neck for approximately 9 minutes. Despite pleas from Floyd and onlookers, and Floyd's obvious physical distress, the officer didn't relent until Floyd was dead.

Here is a link to an article about it that also contains a video of this horrifying incident:

https://nypost.com/2020/05/26/minneapolis-cop-puts-knee-on-neck-of-black-man-who-later-died-video/

There were four officers on the scene; one had his knee on Floyd's neck and the others stood there while it happened.  All four were fired from the force. The kneeling officer has now been arrested but not the other three.

There appears to be no excuse for choking this poor man to death, regardless of what he had done. And, there is no excuse for the other three officers to have stood there, allowing it to happen and doing nothing to intercede on the victim's behalf.

Did any of them have a conscience?

It is as if God was asking them, what are you doing?  And they're responding, am I my brother's keeper?  You're probably familiar with the first recorded incident of this, but if not then take a look at the account of Cain murdering his brother Abel, in Genesis chapter 4.

Many years hence, after the account of Noah and the flood took place, we find this passage in the Bible:

Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers.”
Genesis 9:20-25

Noah got drunk, which he shouldn't have done, and passed out, naked, in his tent. Ham, one of his three sons, saw his father in this state but instead of doing anything about it, he went out and told his two brothers, Shem and Japheth. I'm thinking he probably found it amusing.

Ham's two brothers did not see the humor and as you can read in the account, they rectified the situation by covering up their father while looking elsewhere instead of at his nakedness. In other words, they did the right thing. Instead of joining with Ham as an onlooker, they honored their father even though he shouldn't have drank so much in the first place.

I suppose if you asked Ham why he did nothing, he could have replied, am I my father's keeper?

Watching that video was hard. It's heart and gut-wrenching and it made me really angry that anyone could be so callous as to keep his knee on Floyd's neck that way, and also that his fellow officers could be similarly callous to allow it to happen.

But in my life I know I am not innocent of the same thing. Perhaps not as egregious as this recent incident in Minneapolis, but I've stood by, silent, instead of speaking up against a wrong I knew was taking place.

It's too late to do anything about those times in the past, but may God grant me the wisdom to recognize situations like this going forward, and the courage to do what is right when they happen. 

Yes, we are called to be our brother's and sister's keeper.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

haircuts

I've written before about how much I hate getting a haircut. It isn't so much the haircut itself, but the time it takes to go to the barber and then possibly have to wait that is what I don't like.

Now in my elementary school days, I hated haircuts because of the above, plus being laughed at the next day in school over the damage my FOB barber did. On haircut day my dad would come home from work and we'd go to this barber shop where two elderly Japanese men who spoke no English cut hair. I had no idea what they were saying, and all of the magazines to read while waiting were in Japanese so I had no idea what those said, either. And most of the time we had to wait.

In this pandemic time with barbers and hair salons being closed, lots of hair is growing long. I see it during Zoom meetings. But, the longer the salons are closed, more and more hair is being cut at home on a DIY basis. Honestly, unless someone has a really odd or extreme haircut I don't really pay that much attention. And from the DIY's I've seen for those I know, they've done a pretty good job.

I gave in several weeks ago after getting fed up with my hair feeling too long, so I did a DIY using some clippers I got from Amazon. It didn't turn out too badly, which in large part is because I trimmed everything the same length using the #2 attachment.

The second DIY, I got bolder and tried to shape/fade it using the #1, #2 and #3 attachments. This time the results weren't so good, but then neither were they so bad. And I discovered through these two cuts that I actually enjoy cutting my own hair. I see it as a challenge.

This has led me to decide I'm no longer going to the barber, I'm just going to cut it myself whenever I feel it needs cutting. Making this decision has been remarkably freeing! It's not so much saving money but just the idea that I can cut it whenever I want. I like my barber (despite our opposing political views.. but then never argue politics while someone is cutting your hair) but I would always go on a Wednesday because that's the day she is there and the owner of the shop isn't.

The owner used to cut my hair but one time she wasn't available, so Irene cut it and I liked it so much that I've stuck with her over the years. But being the chicken that I am, I don't want to have to say no if both Grace and Irene are there and my turn comes up with Grace. Instead, I always go on Wednesdays, Grace's day off.

That's moot now, since I've decided to just do it myself. I'll miss Irene, but not enough to keep going for a haircut. I wonder how many other people made the same decision during this lockdown?

As for blades, I got this hair clipper pictured below. It works well and seems to be really sturdy. I'm happy!



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Costco in the senior lane

The past few days I've been looking at old posts I've made in this blog and many of them have to do with my weekly trips to Costco and posting pictures of "finds" for the day.

Well in this time of Covid 19 pandemic, it's no longer a weekly trip but I have a feeling that will resume in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, Julie and I made the trek yesterday. Thankfully, we were able to take advantage of the early senior shopping hour from 9:00-10:00 during weekdays. When we arrived around 9:20, there was a short line for seniors and a longer line for non-seniors who were waiting for the normal 10:00 opening. Our wait was hardly anything; Julie waited in line while I went to get a cart and by the time I returned it was our turn to head in.

The store was pretty crowded, full of seniors and also health care workers who've also been accorded the privilege of the early shopping hour.  Stocks were plentiful on just about everything except they were out of sanitizing wipes. We got what we needed and exited the store at 10:00. By that time there was quite a long line of people snaking through the blocked off parking area so we were glad we were able to go when we did. The gas pumps, which for the last few times I've gone were nearly deserted, were looking back to normal with lines of cars in every lane.

I've got one picture for you, the only "unusual" purchase:


Costco is selling this 10" and 12" set for $29.99, a pretty reasonable price. We don't have any cast iron cookware. Julie was like, what do we need more pans for? I said there's some stuff that just does better with cast iron. I don't really plan on using them that much since they're a pain to care for as compared to non-stick pans, but for times when a lot of heat is needed and/or something that is oven safe, these will do the trick.

Seeing these long lines at Costco reminded me of the long lines back in 1973 when the oil embargo hit. Those of you old enough, remember those times? We certainly weren't used to having to wait in line for gas, and on top of that, prices took a big jump. Gone were the days of gasoline in the high 20's/low 30's cent per gallon range. I remember seeing a news segment back then showing one station charging 54.9 cents per gallon and my jaw dropped. How could we ever afford prices like that???

Then there were the long waits in line, which led to implementing the odd/even rule as to which day you could buy gas, depending on the last digit of your license plate. Maybe they should do that at Costco now, odd/even depending on the last digit of your birth year. One big difference between then and now is while people are (or were) hoarding toilet paper and germ killing solutions, you can't really hoard gasoline.

Well, most people can't hoard gasoline.





Monday, May 25, 2020

Resurfacing

It's been slightly more than five years since the last entry in this blog. If your (or my) existence coincided solely with when postings were made here, then our last frame of consciousness would have been May 15, 2015. That is, until today when you and I plopped down smack in the midst of a pandemic, the Covid-19 Pandemic, to be exact.

What's with everyone wearing masks? And seemingly terrified of proximity with one another? Has everyone gone radioactive?  

Turn on the news and that would provide a quick education as to what's going on. We'd learn about the virus (98%), a brief update on the weather (1%), and gape at sports played to empty arenas (1%).

Wow.

Well, in reality we do know what is going on and as far as filling in the 5 year gap from the last post, maybe I'll get around to it and maybe not. While putting up with this current "sheltering in place" and, in less PC terms, "lockdown" or "revocation of rights," I started reading the posts I've made here, starting with the first one back in 2008 and working my way forward.

Recently I had pondered writing an autobiography, both for posterity's sake and also something to give the kids so that they wouldn't be as clueless about me as I unfortunately am about my own parents. So far procrastination had outweighed my good intentions.

Then I started reading my own blog and noted that a good deal of the earlier posts recounted the things that have stuck most in my mind up through college. I realized, hey, there it is, already written!  I figure a good deal of what I'd be putting in an autobiography is already in this blog.  What a time saver! What I plan on doing is cutting and pasting all of it into one massive Word file/book since all of it exists nowhere else except on this site.

That'll give me something to occupy my time while waiting out this lockdown.

Our current state of things brings to mind one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite groups because the eerily bizarre lyrics seem prophetic to these eerily bizarre times. Here's a YouTube version but in case it gets taken down (like the majority of the YouTubes I had posted in previous blog entries, leaving only a hole in the ground where they used to be), I'm also reprinting the lyrics.


"King Of The World" (Walter Becker & Donald Fagen)


Hello one and all
Was it you I used to know
Can't you hear me call
On this old ham radio
All I got to say
I'm alive and feeling fine
If you come my way
You can share my poison wine

[Chorus:]
No marigolds in the promised land
There's a hole in the ground
Where they used to grow
Any man left on the Rio Grande
Is the king of the world
As far as I know

I won't take your bread
I don't need no helping hand
I can't be no savage
I can't be no highwayman
Show me where you are
You and I will spend this day
Driving in my car
Through the ruins of Santa Fe

[Chorus]

I'm reading last year's papers
Although I don't know why
Assassins cons and rapers
Might as well die

If you come around
No more pain and no regrets
Watch the sun go brown
Smoking cobalt cigarettes
There's no need to hide
Taking things the easy way
If I stay inside
I might live til Saturday

[Chorus]