Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Early Wednesday moanin'...

For years, I was a fan of Detroit Free Press columnist Bob Talbert.  A Southerner transplanted to the Motor City, his column was a mix of name-dropping (BIG names, too), reflections on life-the-universe-and-everything, compassion and home-town pride that just wouldn't stop.  The world lost an exceptional writer, husband, and friend when Bob died in late 1999.  [Click on Bob's highlighted name to see some of his more memorable columns, near the bottom of the "in memory" page.]

Bob's Southern accent came through in print best in his double-entendre "Outta my mind on Monday moanin' " columns, which were a mainstay of his writing.  The "moanin' " columns were not always on Monday, and weren't always just a gripe session - but since the Freep (as locals called the Free Press) was a morning paper, Talbert frequently started off the morning with some moaning - hence the pun.  His book, "Good Moanin'," was a classic collection of his columns which I still enjoy picking up and reading from time to time.  (Yeah, he was that good.)

So, in tribute to Bob, here's some "early Wednesday moanin' " thoughts...

Moanin': What telemarketers were to the telephone, and spam was to email, browser hijackings are to the Web-surfer.  You've probably had it happen...all of a sudden, it seems that no matter what you click on, your browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, or perhaps Mozilla) seems to end up at the same obnoxious web-site, where seemingly thousands of pop-up ads threaten to bury you.  Despite my DSL modem's supposed internal hardware firewall (so says the tech support weenie, anyway) and Norton Internet Security configured to cook at "medium," I ended up with my browser hijacked this evening.  Annoying?  You betcha.  Took about an hour, and repeated scans with Ad-Aware 6, to get the thing fixed.  Good thing I don't have a way to reverse-zap the guys that did it - they'd be addressing St. Peter in person this morning, if I did!  So, Norton is now set to "high," and one of the first purchases I make once I get re-employed will be a router to provide a physical barrier to these e-monsters.  Death, death  to hijackers, I say!

Good moanin': I am so looking forward to two trips in the near future.  First, heading to see my twin sisters for their birthday (the "day" is actually Tuesday, so I'm coming in for the weekend ahead of time).   A run to Tony Packo's will probably be on the menu for Friday night, and then down to sister Sandy's for brats and sweet corn (heaven's just a heartbeat away, at that point) on Saturday night.  Pick up a bike from sister Sue (replacing the one that some so-and-so busted our porch apart so they could steal over 4th of July weekend), spend some time relaxing with both sisters and brothers-in-laws, and ride on home Sunday night.  Good time will be had by all.  (One big advantage to being in Chicago is being only 3-4 hours away from the family, instead of the 13 it took to drive from Kansas.)

With God's grace (and thanks to a timely gift from my dear friend Natalie) my second trip will be back to Kansas for Labor Day weekend.  My buddy Mike Trogdon is getting married, and I still owe Ryan and Dena Hess a wedding hug (since I couldn't make it for their wedding at the beginning of the impoverished, unemployed summer!).  Also on the agenda is seeing my home congregation friends at Atonement Lutheran, and sharing in the sobriety celebration of a couple former sponsees.  So that will be an exceptionally busy (but blessed) weekend!

Moanin': the office of the president of the seminary sent out letters to the seminary community, offering thanksgiving for the construction of the new pipe organ in the Augustana Chapel at LSTC, and soliciting contributions for the completion of the chapel work and to pay down the construction of the organ.  Problem is, the president's office sent all the letters out stamped mail (which I understand makes people look twice at solicitation letters) - but they also included the students in the mailing, and paid postage on all those letters that should have gone straight to our campus mailboxes, for free.  Not only was it somewhat silly to be soliciting contributions from already-impoverished seminary students (many of whom are in unpaid-chaplaincy positions as part of Clinical Pastoral Education, or CPE, this summer), but unnecessarily paying for postage to solicit funds from impoverished students was really un-clever. A solid "A" for enthusiasm, and a D-minus for practicality. 

Good moanin':  had a delightful conversation with roommate Tim on Tuesday night about widely varied topics, but kicking off with an eye-opener about human cloning which definitely changed my understandings on the topic.  One of the blessings of having a fellow like Tim around is that he is more than happy to show me all the holes in the underpinnings of my long-held beliefs, but is way too polite to tell me what an idiot I am for holding those beliefs.  He is also a much-better read (and better-spoken) man than I am, so our conversations never fail to enlighten my perspectives on whatever topics we happen to wander across.  He's also a fairly un-critical consumer of whatever I'm willing to fix in the kitchen - although my cooking is generally way too bland for him (witness his Szechuan-sauce booster applied to last night's chicken stir-fry!).  [To my credit, with the exception of one batch of broccoli casserole that hardly anyone touched, none of my cooking has failed the dog-food test (so bad that even dog-food would be better), for which I am grateful.]  All in all, if you need to have a roommate, you need to find one like Tim.  Thank you, God, for giving me "a season in his path."

Good moanin': In the end, I really have nothing to moan about.  I can (and do) moan about my finances, my lack of even temporary full-time employment, my seeming over-qualification for a number of jobs which I would GLADLY do in a heart-beat, and the price of gas in the city of Chicago.  But these are all adiaphora in the end.  Compared to many folks, I am blessed beyond measure - and way too blessed to be stresed.  I wouldn't switch places with many, many people I know (although there are half-a-dozen or so that I wouldn't mind trying out their lives for six or eight months, just to see how I handle the temptations!).  But the bottom line is that I'm sunny-side-up, suckin' air and sober, as my friend Bob L. used to say (probably still does) - and (as he also says) that puts me "in the bonus round." So I'll count my blessings, and put my happy butt to bed.  It's way past time for that!

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