Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Waiting and waiting and waiting

For the last hour I have been on the phone waiting for a customer "service" representative to finally activate two cell phones. I bought these phones online almost six weeks ago. The deal was that I would get the phones, a year's availability of service, and 270 minutes all for $99 each. I could add minutes at any time over the internet. Long-distance and local minutes are counted the same. Sounds good, huh?

Well, the problem is that the prefix assigned to the phones was for an area outside my town. That meant that anyone wishing to call me would have to dial long-distance. I spent hours on the phone trying to remedy the problem. Packages containing SIM cards were sent. Phones were re-activated then de-activated. Finally, they sent me new phones. And that's what I spent over an hour getting activated tonight. Completely missed the Dixie Chicks on Larry King Live.

And then I think about people who live in Russia, who stand in lines as a matter of course. People in Ethiopia who would be glad to stand in a line if it led to an extra meal. People who wait and wait and wait in Indonesia for disaster relief. Maybe I need to learn patience.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


As some of you may recall, I play handbells in a church handbell choir. We really love what we do and we took a trip to Hong Kong last summer to play in churches and outdoors. It was swelteringly hot, but the beneficial effects of the trip still remain. The Kowloon International Baptist Church has had several handchime concerts with the set of chimes we left for them.

There are a few songs that I have written over time. Trust me, I am a complete amateur, so it is a lot of work with meager results. Anyway, I did write an arrangement of one of the songs specifically for handbells. The choir has been practicing it (and I have amended and reworked some sections) for performance. Yesterday, a student in the music department of our university entered the music into a composing program which prints it out looking like "official" sheet music. I am pretty excited. When I told the head of the music department, she wrote down the performance date and time. Maybe she will be there. It is slated for June 4 as an offertory. Y'all come.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I can't take it anymore

What?! Have I stumped the panel of experts? Well, the little stone dragon sits atop a tchop or seal stone. That is a block with a carving on the bottom that is the reverse image of a Chinese character or word. In the photo, the dragon seal stone is sitting on the box in which he is normally stored (along with a jar of ink and a small wooden stand) This particular seal has the symbol for long life, as you can see in the second photo. Made of Shou Shan soap stone, the tchop is less than 3.5 inches tall. The hole which is so prominent in the first watzat photo below is about the diameter of a number 5 mechanical pencil lead. Neat, huh?

If I had thought about it early enough, I could have had one custom carved with my name or favorite phrase on it. We were in Hong Kong for about ten days; that would have been enough time. But I didn't think of it until we were at the airport getting ready to leave. If you are interested, let me know and I will send you a postcard stamped with my "long life" tchop.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The dragon

The dragon is stone,
and not choc'late goo.
Not walking alone,
or even with two.
The airport in Hong Kong
was my first view
of this tiny dragon.
Now what does he do?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cheered up

Thanks to you who commented; you did encourage me. I apologize for whining and I will try to stay away from that in the future. (Don't grumble--right, annie?) And I will remember how nice it is to get comments when I visit your sites.

Since Patti missed the last "watzat" it just made sense to post another. The item pictured was not a gift--I bought it for myself. Although I rarely use it, I like having it around. Obviously it is carved, but out of what? Post your votes, folks.

Now I must grade projects. Students in the biblical interpretation class that I teach must turn in an exegesis paper (that's the analytical research paper) and a practical application (something you could actually use in church). I've graded most of the papers (why can they not pay attention to instructions?--oops, no grumbling) and now I get to look through poems, Sunday school lessons, and sermons. Have a dandy weekend.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I didn't think it would be like this

This, this photo of peonies, this is my one hundredth blog posting. I somehow imagined it would be more momentous. As it is, here I am tired after a hard day of work, disappointed by having a solitary comment on the previous post, and really I guess that is how life works, isn't it?

Do you know how differently we see things? I don't just mean you and I, dear reader, I mean you and everybody. We all see things differently. No matter how close we stand to each other, we will not see things exactly the same way. I remember a discussion I had with the boy who lived next door when I was in elementary school. He claimed that the second car at a stop sign didn't have to stop at the sign again after the first car took off. He cited his mother as an authority. I disagreed with him. Do you know how often I have approached a stop sign and remembered that snippet of conversation? I can't remember the boy's name, but I am reasonably sure he has totally forgotten that conversation. And even if he does somehow remember it, it cannot possibly be that he remembers it exactly the same way I do.

No one know me as well as my wife; it is mutual. A mere look often suffices to communicate a paragraph. Sometimes just thinking transfers the thought from one of us to the other. And yet, I will never know exactly how she sees things. Maybe what her eyes record as blue, mine record as brown. We tell the same joke and think that a different aspect of the punch line is funny.

"No man is an island." No. But neither are we identical to anyone. How does God keep up with us? I can't even keep up with myself.

Oh, the peonies? They came from the back yard. We transplanted the roots from the backyard of the house in which my parents lived for about forty years. This is their third year, and they are finally blooming like they belong to us.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Straight from Russia

One of the most dynamic and musically talented members of our church in Pearl City, Hawaii, is a nurse named Adele. She has been on numerous mission trips, including one to Russia. And she brought back this little doll as a gift for us. Thanks, Adele.

That church is one of the most mission-minded we have ever belonged to. Many members of the congregation had been to Fiji, Cambodia, Viet Nam, even Myanmar (Burma), to do missions work. We built orphanages and water catchment tanks and bought a building in Myanmar to house the Burmese Baptist Convention. The members refused to have air conditioning installed in the sanctuary because it would waste money that could be spent on missions. I love that church!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Another "watzat" for your torment

I think I need some vitameatavegemin. I'm pooped. It really annoys me that I am letting work wear me out like this. I mean, it's all mental--I'm not lifting crates or digging trenches or anything. Just using my brain to do tasks I don't usually do.

What was your first job for which you had to have a SSN? A buddy of mine said he found a job and they needed some more people, so I went with him the first night. Yeah, it was a night shift. We worked in a grocery store warehouse. The job was standing beside a big tank of water and dredging out potatoes that had been dumped in by a conveyor belt. It was back-breaking work and I came home at 2:00 AM smelling like rotten potatoes. That lasted two weeks before I decided, "There has to be something better."

You know the funny thing about watzats is that people complain they are too hard, but they keep on guessing. This was brought to me by a friend when I lived in Hawai'i. What is it?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And now from Australia

Our son and daughter-in-law live in Australia. His band Zuigia has been on tour in the northeast area of the continent. While they were there, they came across this clever frog. Looks cozy, doesn't he? Just waiting for some bug to come by looking for a flower.

When the guys got home, they were treated to a lovely sunset. This photo was taken from the balcony of the house where they live (north of Sydney). Nice digs, eh?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

West Texas sky

The photo didn't turn out as clear as I wanted, but the color is right. We had a noisy rainstorm with a little hail. After it stopped, the setting sun washed the gloomy clouds with orange. I had to get my camera quickly, because the light changed in about 90 seconds back to a somber grey.
Maybe I will get around to photographing that new bumper. Maybe.