On the Way to Santa Fe

12 May

Within the next 36 hours, I will be heading west on Interstate 40 with a few teachers and a bunch of students. It is our annual field trip class to Santa Fe and other parts of northern New Mexico.BB-New Mexico 104

There are several archived posts about this trip, and those of you would have been around for a while may have read a few of them. If you have, then you know that this is a great trip that gives students an opportunity to explore an interesting part of our country. It also gives the teachers an opportunity to eat some great food.

Upon my return, I will certainly have stories to write about. Until then, I will be checking in on the blogs that I follow to see what great things everyone is writing about.

Captain America; Caps and Gowns; and a Night on the Town

10 May

Man, this has been an eventful weekend for our household. Instead of writing some long introductory paragraph, I will get right to the point.

On Friday, my stepdaughter learned that she made the volleyball team. She has worked hard on her skills, and everyone is proud of her effort. Then, it all paid off.

After she received a ton of congratulations, she and I ate went out on the town. We ate burritos and saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. Her mom wanted to go, but my stepdaughter was afraid that she would ask too many questions during the movie.

When the movie was over, she mentioned something that I did not catch. Black Widow has flirted with almost every member of the team, and she is now in love with Bruce Banner. Of course, this is not the “Bill Bixby hitchhiking to piano music” Bruce Banner. It is a Bruce Banner who is not as cool as that.

On Saturday morning, my university held its 173rd commencement on the lawn in front of our main building. It was a beautiful day, but it got a little hot under the caps and gowns. Commencement always brings mixed emotions for me. I am happy for the graduates, but I am also sad to see them go. To soften the blow, the History Department held a nice reception for our graduates and their families.

Last night, we went on a surprise birthday excursion for one of our friends. It started at Saint Anejo, one of the cool and trendy restaurants in Nashville. If you make it into the city, then you should try it out. It is full of locals, which means that you will not see any tourists wearing cowboy hats.

After dinner, we went to a concert at Marathon Music Works, which is located in the old Marathon automobile factory. The building houses all kinds of businesses, but this music venue is the best of the bunch. We did not know anything about the band, but it turned into a blast.

First, we were in the private balcony, which is the only way to watch a concert. We had stools, couches and our own server. The seating was especially great because the rest of the place is all about standing up.image-29

Second, the band was awesome. Matt and Kim are a duo, but that does not describe them. Matt plays keyboard and sings while Kim beats the crap out of the drums. She also stands on the drums and works the crowd into a frenzy. Heck, she even walked onto the hands of the crowd and danced. It is performance that has to be seen to be appreciated.

This morning, we began our Mother’s Day festivities and will continue with them throughout the afternoon. However, I had to take a few minutes to write about this eventful weekend. Now, I am going to take a nap.

My iPod Has Issues – Color Coded

7 May

I was listening to one of the stations on Sirius satellite radio and noticed something going on with the songs. They all had green in their title. Eventually, the DJ came on and explained that they were playing songs about colors.Notes

That is when I decided to steal their idea and see what colorful things were going on in my iPod.

“Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey

“Longhaired Redneck” by David Allan Coe

“Blue Sky” by The Allman Brothers Band

“Black Enough” by Melba Moore

“Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan

“Sweet Georgia Brown” by The California Ramblers

“Bell Bottom Blues” by Derek and the Dominos

“Red Shoe Tango” by George S. Clinton

“Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” by The Hollies

“Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington

“Black And White” by Three Dog Night

“Any Colour You Like” by Pink Floyd

“First Time I Met The Blues” by Buddy Guy

“Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore

“Goldrush” by Yello

“The Silver Tongued Devil And I” by Kris Kristofferson

“Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine” by Tom T. Hall

“Green Green Grass Of Home” by Porter Wagoner

“Give My Love To Rose” by Johnny Cash

“Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino

Yep, it looks like the old iPod is color coordinated.



Success in the Academic Arena

6 May

Last night, we attended the academic banquet at my stepdaughter’s school, where she and some of her friends were honored. It was a great event that celebrated their achievements in the classroom. As the students walked up to receive their awards, they were lauded with great applause. Everyone was proud. The students. The parents. This crusty old stepfather.

As we drove home, I began thinking that kids who do well in school deserve more nights like this. While they get one night in the spotlight, our athletic teams get a bunch of them. I understand that it is often the same people doing both, and I am not trying to stereotype athletes. I am saying that we should place more emphasis on academic achievement than we do athletic achievement.

I am as guilty as anyone. We have season tickets to the Tennessee Titans and the Tennessee Volunteers. I yell when they win, and I am mad when they lose. I follow the recruitment of high school kids to play football, and I want to know how many stars they have. Therefore, I am hypocritical when I write about this subject.Arena

This subject can also take me down a rabbit hole. Despite my fandom, I have always cringed when someone uses the term “Coach” like an esteemed title. I have also cringed when a coach has talked about how they are training young people in the game of life. It is like those who have never played sports are not being prepared properly and are somewhat less of a person.

Anyway, I am not going down that rabbit hole. I am not going to write about how many people think sports are more important than they really are. We root for them, but it is only another form of entertainment.

The truly important things happen in the classroom, and I congratulate all of those who excel in that arena. It may not seat hundreds or thousands of people, but it is the arena that counts.


Movie Wisdom – Patricia Neal Edition

5 May

When all of the grading is over, I am going to watch A Face in the Crowd, a movie that I have seen a bunch of times. It stars Andy Griffith as a hobo who becomes a huge television star. Unfortunately, his ego grows along with his fame. It also stars Walter Matthau and Patricia Neal, an actress who I feel belongs among the all time greats. She also grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee.Patricia Neal

In honor of Patricia Neal, we are going to look for words of wisdom in her movies.

From The Day the Earth Stood Still

There must be security for all, or no one is secure.

It isn’t faith that makes good science. It’s curiosity.

I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

From A Face in the Crowd

A guitar beats a woman every time.

Nothing’s illegal if they don’t catch you.

From Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.

It’s better to look at the sky than live there.

From Hud

This country is run on epidemics.

Nobody gets out of life alive.

Don’t go shooting all the dogs ’cause one of ’em’s got fleas.

It don’t take long to kill things, not like it does to grow.

From In Harm’s Way

All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are seated on nothing but our own arse.



Can Someone Answer My Question About Missions, Or Is That Impossible?

4 May

I usually stay away from religious matters because people tend to be touchy about such things. However, I broke that rule by asking a question in a tweet. Honestly, it is a question I have asked before, and it did not go over well at the time. That means that I should have known better than to bring it up again.

Anyway, I asked the following.

Why do churches send out mission groups to places where people are already Christians?

I ask this because local churches send people to Mexico, Honduras and other parts of Latin America where a high percentage of people are Christian.

I am probably wrong, but I always thought that a missionary is someone who spreads their faith to those who have never heard about it. This is the way a religion spread from one group to another. If someone talks about their faith to someone who already believes the same thing, then that is not being a missionary.Mission

People respond to my question by saying that they are helping people in poverty, and that is a noble cause that more people should be doing. However, helping people who find themselves in need is called helping people who find themselves in need. That can be done in the Peace Corps. It can also be done in other ways. Over spring break, some of our faculty and students went to Haiti and did some great work. However, it was not mission work.

Again, helping people in need is an awesome thing to do. However, if you are going to help people who have already heard the word of Christ, then there are a lot of people in the United States who need aid. Rural Appalachia. Native American reservations. Inner cities.

There is an old saying that charity begins at home. It is not exactly Biblical, but similar sentiments can be found in 1st Timothy. Yep, I have taken on the project of reading the Bible cover to cover and am slowly making my way through.

Anyway, I go back to my original question.

Why do churches send out mission groups to places where people are already Christians?

The first missionaries came to Latin America as soon as they knew the land existed. Beginning in the 1500s, Catholic priests roamed the new-to-them continents and took Christianity to the natives. I read that Latin America is the strongest base for the Roman Catholic Church. The people in that part of the world are Christian.

In fact, I get the feeling that the answer to my question lies in that paragraph. I hope it is not true, but I suspect otherwise. To some churches, the people of Latin America may be Christian, but they are the wrong kind of Christian. They are Catholic. Actually, I suspect that some people think Catholics are not Christians at all.

Of course, Martin Luther would be surprised to hear that, and he is the person who kicked off the Protestant Reformation. You know, that is the movement from which all Protestant denominations sprang.

I am getting off point. Instead of going further, I will ask a few more questions that I hope some of you can answer.

Is a missionary someone who spreads their faith to those who have never heard it, or can someone who goes out to help people of the same faith be considered a missionary?

I am not trying to make people mad. I am just trying to figure this out.

The Bitter Gene

2 May

On Friday, we had a gathering of faculty and staff to celebrate the end of another academic year. As a few of us sat around a table, the conversation jumped from one topic to another. During this time, someone stated that they liked a tweet that I created about my distaste for coffee. He also does not like coffee and was happy to find someone who agrees with him.Coffee

As we bonded over this issue, the dialogue moved from the liquid and toward those who drink it. Basically, we hate it when coffee drinkers look at us like we are crazy. It usually goes like this:

Would you like a cup of coffee?

No thanks, I do not drink coffee?

They stand in stunned silence and act like they are looking at an alien.

Anyway, one of the biologists overheard our conversation and asked if I like beer, another liquid that I am not crazy about. I will drink it if there is nothing else around. I will also drink it if I am in a crowded bar, and it is the simplest thing to order. However, I have never craved a beer.

All of my life, I have heard people say, “A cold beer would be really good right now.” If I am thirsty I may desire water, a soft drink, an energy drink, chocolate milk. Heck, anything. However, I have never thought to myself, “I would love to have a beer.”

Getting to the point. I told the biologist that I am not a fan of beer, either.

He said that I have the Bitter Gene and that my chemical makeup means that I taste coffee and beer differently from others. I am getting one taste, and they are getting another one.

Now, I know what to say when someone asks how there is any way that I do not like coffee. It is simple. I am genetically superior.



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