Berean Blog

Random thoughts from a Doulos Theos (servant of God)

Location: Rocky Point, North Carolina, United States

Monday, October 17, 2005

Oh, yeah -- I have a blog, don't I?

Fall has err, fallen (I know it's overused. So sue.) . I love this time of year, right before it turns too cold to be pleasant. It's odd, because I never particularly cared for autumn growing up. It may have had something to do with school...or perhaps the fact that autumn in Illinois is practically Arctic weather, I don't know which (or both?).
I may get comments on that last remark, but I guarantee that it won't be from anyone who's had a flying soccer ball smack them in the bare thigh when the temperature is in the upper forties. I was never any good at soccer anyway, and in retrospect, I have to wonder what on earth I was thinking. Who in their right mind runs around in shorts in that weather??

While on the topic of school, I heard at last from the VA, and have been approved for full G.I. Bill funding for enrollment at Moody Bible Institute. The new semester begins in Mid-December, so I'll keep the two or three readers of this soliloquy posted. The news came at a crucial time last week when I was becoming disillusioned with the current quest for employment, and was a real bright spot in an otherwise partly-cloudy week.

I know Daddy has a place for me out there, so the real challenge is not wanting to know NOW (can anyone identify?). Hey, I could always become an artist, since apparently all it takes is a twisted mind, and I've met that requirement for years!

Moving along in no particular logical sequence, it occurred to me today that my years of service in the defense of our great nation has marred me for life in at least one area (great confession time): constant attempts to construct acronyms syndrome (CACAS, I guess? Wait, I just made it up, so I don't have to guess -- that's what I'll call it!)

Oh, the military loves acronyms! Some examples that come to mind:
SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)
MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System, which is actually the interface with HAM radio)
POL (Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants)
HUM-V (which is actually HMMWV -- High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, or some such rubbish)
CUC-V (Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle, because apparently "pickup truck" doesn't sound military enough)

One of my all-time favorites was one that appeared on daily reports from military airports, because it was an abbreviation within an acronym within an acronym: POH (PAX [Passengers Awaiting Xfer {Transfer}] On Hand).

I don't know why, but over a decade of exposure to the incessant barrage of acronyms has dragged my mind to the point that even now, when I hear or see a long name, I mentally attempt to deduct the appropriate military form of the name.

Perhaps over time, a cure for CACAS will emerge (which is rather doubtful, since its sufferers are few, and this tragic disease is so rarely properly diagnosed), but until then we will be forced to endure silently (FTES). {sigh}

Rather than end on a depressing note, I'll end with great news: the Smurfs have been bombed! You read that correctly -- the story is here, and the video is here (40 seconds into the clip). I never did trust those little blue freaks, anyway!

Keep smiling, beloved (KSB)!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

I detest rain. I really do.

Lest I offend any agri-readers, I hasten to acknowledge that rain is essential. I am fully aware of its necessity. That said, I also acknowledge the necessity of root canals. (Whoa, flashbacks of Chuck Barris!)

For the past two and a half days, it has rained continuously, and my nerves are grating. If I lived somewhere like Seattle, I think I'd be borderline psychotic. I was talking Wednesday night to a dear sister in Christ, and she told me that rain energizes her. Not so your humble narrator -- precipitation tends to make me one moody, gloomy, dreary schizo.

It may also be exacerbated by the fact that we were informed Wednesday by my employer of six years that our positions are being absorbed into a center in Florida, and in two weeks, we'll receive a small severance package and walk out the door the final time.
I certainly don't fault the company. Utilities protection is a cutthroat, low profit margin business, and the ever-elusive bottom line is difficult to control. The fact that we even received any sort of notice whatsoever is a true boon, with a severance package an extreme rarity.
That doesn't alter the fact that the always-unknown future contains a larger-than-ever question mark. We sat down with the Arrows and talked them through it. We are choosing to take it in faith, and (as I shared with Dee) the calm that has settled in my spirit has surprised even me.

If you blinked this week, you probably missed a more monumental event. I shudder to think of the implications of this move. Hidden taxes imposed upon ISP's (passed on of course, to us, the end users)? Unprecedented levels of monitoring? The much-awaited arrival of the .XXX domain? Whatever the result, I believe it is but one more step toward the global control necessary for the Coming World Leader (aka the AntiChrist).

On a lighter note, but almost as ominous, is another story across which I stumbled. Whatever happened to, "Your freedom ends where my nose begins"? My hat is off to Southwest Airlines, because this kind of stand is increasingly becoming both rare and unpopular (probably a connection there). I can remember a time when a person (particularly a young woman) wouldn't dream of owning such a shirt (or at least wearing it in public), let alone expecting the "right" to do so.
Yes, now that we are a more "tolerant" and "progressive" society, the only unwelcome stand left may soon be the one that you take for Christ.

Speaking of rights, I found this rather telling. What do you think of Mister Esseks's view on education? Quite enlightening, is it not? Parents don't have the right to dictate the education of their own children? I have known for some time that the mindset of most professional educators is typical liberal philosophy ("we're smarter than you, so just shut up and let us handle this for you, because we care"), but situations such as this serve only to confirm my concerns.
"If parents don't like it they can homeschool, they can go to a private school, they can go to a religious school. " Thank you, Mister Esseks, that's precisely what we'll continue to do!
From where does this level of audacity come??? It's been coming for awhile -- it started when we thought it prudent to protect our children from anything harmful, a noble pursuit in itself; but where does it stop? I've been holding onto this column for a few weeks, but it fits in here very well.

Sure, give over all control to government and other agencies who claim to know better than you what is best for you. Be a lemming, fit in, trust the professionals, don't bother to think or question. And (pardon the expression), G-d forbid you follow Scripture (after all, it's just so difficult to understand). And while you're at it, try to overlook the fact that our government gave us this situation!
They're trying, though; just perhaps we can hope that we'll someday reach the point in our government schools that we can be just like Cuba!

I'm sorry if this posting has drifted toward the negative or sarcastic; it might be the weather. I'll do my best to post more this weekend, and I'll try to make it more upbeat.

As always, may the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and minds, beloved.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

It has been an interesting Doulos week.

Firstly, jury duty came and went fairly uneventfully.

The first case involved a young man charged with possession of marijuana and possession with intent to sell. I was not selected for that jury, and as I understand it, the only charge for which he was found guilty was the simple possession charge.

The second case, for which I was also not selected, involved another young man. This fellow was charged with driving on revoked license, failure to yield to lights and siren (I didn’t even know that one existed!), and resisting arrest. I never heard how that trial turned out.

The final case, to which your humble writer became a juror, involved a middle-aged woman. This was a fascinating study indeed. She was charged with possession of stolen property, which may initially appear to be a simple matter. Ah, but dear readers, the older I get the more I realize that precious little is what it seems!

The facts of the case were:

In May of 2003 (did this take awhile to work through the judicial system, or what?), a Wilmington landscaping retailer had a dozen John Deere riding lawn mowers stolen in an unusual manner. Apparently, the mowers were secured in a fenced compound between two outbuildings with only one means of entrance (a rolling gate with a sturdy padlock). For additional security, a Dodge pickup was parked directly in front of said gate. I must also point out that the mowers were at the extreme rear of the compound, with all manner of equipment stored in front of them. The thief (or thieves) dragged the truck out of the way, cut the lock, moved out the extraneous equipment, stole the tractors, and moved the additional equipment back into the compound. They absconded with the mowers on an unknown means of conveyance (suffice to say it would, by necessity, require a very large trailer).

In October of 2003, a local man was told by his employer that another employee (the defendant) was selling a riding lawn mower. He introduced himself to her, obtained directions to her house in Pender County, and consequently visited her on the following Sunday. He noticed two other similar lawn mowers under a tarp in her back property, but turned his attention to the mower in question. He noted serious wear, and offered her 700 dollars, which she grudgingly accepted (a new mower of this type is worth over 2000 dollars – it is, after all, a John Deere!).

The very next day, the new owner, with the mower still on his trailer, happened to take it to the very business I mentioned earlier. His intent was to either have them repair it, or to procure the necessary replacement parts to facilitate repairing it himself. The business ran the serial number through their computer, and proceeded to shock the new owner by informing him it was one of the dozen of its ilk stolen five months prior!

The Wilmington Police Department confiscated the mower, and detectives were dispatched to investigate the defendant and her property. Upon their arrival, they found the defendant not at home, but briefly questioned her son, who left shortly thereafter. They noticed the two other mowers under the tarp, and initiated a check on those serial numbers. The check revealed that one was also among the "dirty dozen", and one had been reported stolen from a Jacksonville-area (approximately 40 miles north) business!

At the outset, this would still seem to be a simple case, would it not? However, at least in North Carolina, a prerequisite condition to convicting someone of possession of stolen property is that the state demonstrates that the defendant has knowledge that the property is stolen.

I listened intently as the state presented its case, eliciting a half dozen objections by the defense in the process, most of which were sustained. I heard a rock-solid case demonstrating the defendant’s possession of the mower (complete with pictorial proof), but wondered why they invested so much of the court’s time proving a point that the defense had conceded. As the assistant district attorney concluded her case, I was puzzled. My mind was blaring, "There is absolutely no demonstrated proof of knowledge!"

It may have been my imagination, but the judge seemed surprised as the ADA rested her case. I (perhaps vainly) imagined that he was thinking the same thing as was I. The defense asked permission to approach, and the judge had the bailiff remove the jury from the courtroom. When we were allowed back in, the judge informed us that the case was closed.

We were never informed of the reason, but I have my suspicions. I’m certainly no "legal eagle", but I’ll share my insights with you.

I never heard any indication of the presence of a husband to this woman (else, why would she alone be charged?), so my presumption is that she is a single mother to at least two grown children (one son and one daughter, which was revealed during state testimony). It was also intimated, until successfully challenged by the defense, that her daughter is incarcerated. The reason given for the attempted sale of the stolen mower was to recoup a loss incurred by one of multiple worthless checks that the defendant’s daughter and her boyfriend had written. There was an unrelated investigation of an assault involving several vehicles, one of which was owned by the defendant. Other than the three mowers recovered in this case, none of the other mowers in either theft has been recovered, nor did the state explain the means of transporting them.

My conclusion (which, I admit, may be completely wrong) is that this single mother has…how shall I put it?…some bad kids. The state wanted to charge her children, but she refused to assist them, so their reprisal was to threaten her with this charge of stolen property. If my conclusion is correct, I must say that I am happy that the state failed this case, and this woman is deserving of the dismissed charges. If she is guilty of anything, it is of overprotecting her children, a charge I am unqualified to make.

Moving on to other issues, I wanted to share an incident for which I must embarrass myself for your benefit.

Over the years, I have discovered a malleable quality of myself with regards to my speech patterns. I seem to have an unconscious and loathsome propensity for adapting my vocal inflections to match my surroundings (my writing similarly does this, as my style occasionally reflects whatever author I am reading at the time). I first discovered this vocal quirk quite embarrassingly as a teenager while visiting Bob Jones University. I was talking to a student with a very pronounced lisp, and answered a question in the affirmative by responding, "Yeschh". I was horrified, because he rightfully assumed that I was making sport of him, when I actually was not.

While residing in Asia, I am sure that my speech patterns became more singsong (I have noticed a beautifully musical quality to most Asian dialects, which the reader may observe most readily if talking with recent visitors from China).
I completely surrendered to this quality ten years ago when living by myself; the bulk of my contact with others was comprised of a country music station in Jacksonville. My parents could testify that when I briefly moved to Illinois, I had an extremely pronounced twang (I refuse to call it an accent, because that is a relative term). I still carry that twang now, particularly when fatigued, when it becomes quite pronounced.

I share all that to preface an encounter between Dee and I that occurred just last night. I had teased her by calling her impossible, and followed up by saying, "But I still love you and everything". I thought that I had said it exactly as you, the dear reader, have just read it. She responded by mimicking what she heard, which came out as, "But I luv’ya ‘n’ ever’tang". I protested at first, but realized that I was extremely tired. One of her myriad good qualities is that she, without a doubt, keeps me humble!

One more story before I close: as I was out today, I drove past a used car lot. It’s a seedy establishment, you know, the kind that doesn’t even have the pretentiousness to call its inventory "pre-owned". I glanced over and my eyes lit upon what was quite possibly the ugliest car on the lot. I won’t describe it for fear of offending a reader who might happen to drive one, but suffice to say that even owners of such a vehicle would readily admit their ownership out of sheer necessity.

What caught my attention was a hand-written inscription on the windshield that simply read "No sale". My first thought was, "Who would want that?", followed immediately thereafter by, "What pomposity to presume that someone else could possibly desire that eyesore to feel the need to post its established ownership!"

Then a spiritual application rushed in that filled my eyes with tears as I later related to my dear Rib (Dee). Are not each of us who are redeemed exactly in the same place as that old car? Our enemy and the world around us may look us over critically, and proclaim our unworthiness. "Who could possibly want anything to do with THAT pitiful, broken-down wretch?" But with true pride of ownership, the Lover of our souls loudly declares, "I have bought that wretch with My precious blood – no sale!" Glory hallelujah, amen and amen!!

I have much more to share, but will presently withhold it in hopes of enticing you back. As always, feel free to use the comments link below, and I will "talk" with you all (y’all) later!