Friday, February 29, 2008

Larry Norman

Larry Norman passed away this week, of heart failure that he knew was coming. He was 60 years old. Many consider him the "father of contemporary Christian music" and he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001. When he first started recording Christian music in 1969, he had trouble selling the albums, saying, "it was too religious for the rock and roll stores, and too rock and roll for the religious stores." Toward the latter part of his life, he suffered from some pretty severe health issues, and so quietly faded into the background of the Christian music industry, but not before he had made more than 60 recordings.

His biggest hit was, arguably, "I Wish We'd All Been Ready," which was covered and re-recorded by so many artists people have probably forgotten he wrote it. He also recorded a trilogy of albums covering the past, present and future in theological terms that still stand as a hallmark achievement in Christian music. (Look up "So Long Ago the Garden," "Only Visiting This Planet," and "In Another Land.")

I met Larry (along with Randy Stonehill, to drop names) while I was working part-time at a Christian record store in Kansas City, where I was attending college. Later that night I saw him in concert. He was funny, but he was also a little brusque with the audience. When we started clapping along to one of his hits, he stopped playing and said, "I've never needed anyone to help me keep time. Don't clap." On the surface, that comes off as rude, but what he was doing was not letting us get caught up in feelings and the emotion of the moment and stop thinking. He always wanted people to listen to his lyrics and think about them.

So today I'm going to run snatches of several of his lyrics and thoughts for your Friday post.

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LARRY NORMAN: IN MEMORIAM

And your money says "in God we trust"
But it's against the law to pray in school
You say we beat the Russians to the moon
And I say you starved your children to do it
You say all men are equal
All men are brothers
Then why are the rich more equal than others?
Don't ask me for the answers
I've only got one
That a man leaves his darkness
When he follows the Son

- from "The Great American Novel"
On "Only Visiting This Planet"

"I want to encourage other people to try to discover who they are, not to try to fit into some superficial prototype of what they think a Christian should be, but to discover who they really are."

And if there's life on other planets
Then I'm sure that He must know
And He's been there once already
And has died to save their souls

- from "U.F.O."
On "In Another Land"

"Life is God's art."

A thief fell out of Heaven with some loaded dice
But the Lamb rolled a seven back to Paradise

- from "The Sun Began to Rain"
On "In Another Land"

"Why should the devil have all the good music?"

I don't believe in Beatles, I don't believe in rock
I don't believe in the cutting edge, that's just journalist talk
I don't believe in the cover story or the Gospel chart
You can easily hit Number One with a bullet
And totally miss the heart
But I believe, oh I believe in God

- from "God Part III"
On "Stranded in Babylon"

"I feel like a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up ... I am ready to fly home."

- from Larry's last words to his fans on larrynorman.com

[selected from my own album collection, Wikipedia, and a couple of lyric and discography sites devoted to Larry's life and music]

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At last, a weekend without much going on. Hurray! Let's gratefully say goodbye to a February that has seen more snow around these parts than we've had in the past fifty years. Sheesh. (Though, as I type these words, the National Weather Service has issued another snow advisory calling for two to four more inches on Friday. February just had to get one last blast of winter in before giving way to March.)

Hey, I'll see you on Monday. And remember that I usually post some blog content on the weekends.

Mark

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WEB SITE of the WEEK: "TED" bills itself as "Ideas Worth Spreading." It stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Since 1984, it's been bringing together the best and brightest in those three fields every year for presentations and updates. You can view these talks and demonstrations - none of them longer than 20 minutes because these people know that's our average attention span - by some famous people and others who aren't so famous, but still have some pretty good ideas. Check out http://www.ted.com.

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Mark's Musings is available via email each weekday for free and is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs - or cell phone bills - at my web site. To contact Mark, click here. To estimate the monthly cost of a new car (payment, insurance, and maintenance), double the purchase price and divide by 60. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

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WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target." (George Fisher)


Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Driver

That, my friends, is a cool new concept tire Michelin has been working on since 2005. They call it the "Tweel" as it's a combination of both tire and wheel. List member Dan G. sent these photos to me. The flexible spoke design allows the Tweel to handle almost any kind of road obstacle or pothole without damaging the tire. In fact, there's not even a need to check the air pressure on these things, because there is none. It's an airless tire.

I haven't found them on sale yet, but you can get more information here. It looks kind of like the car is just floating on air since you can see right through the spokes.

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As a driver instructor for a local high school, I've learned that even the brightest of students can be rattled and flustered the first time they get behind the wheel of a car.

One day I had three beginning drivers in the training car, and the class valedictorian was the first one to take the vehicle out on the road into traffic. Each student would drive for thirty minutes.

At the end of the first half hour, I asked the student to change places with one of the other drivers.

Gripping the wheel tightly and staring straight ahead, he asked in a shaky voice, "Should I stop the car first?"

[Joe's Clean Laffs]

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WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:18)

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Punishment

So that loud "thud" you heard last Saturday afternoon was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor after I opened my cell phone bill.

This is one of those stories that we'll look back on in a few years and laugh.

For her birthday last fall, we gave my daughter her own cell phone. It was on our plan and was, originally, her brother's phone but became available when he switched carriers and got a new phone while he was away at college. So I guess that makes it our fault, ultimately.

You see, she understood that with a cell phone, she had free long distance calling. What she didn't understand was that it was only free if you called someone in THIS country.

So she spent a few minutes on the phone with her new friend in Canada. I say a "few" minutes, much like I say "there are a few stars in the sky tonight." It was a shockingly huge amount of minutes.

My cell phone bill was over fifteen hundred dollars.

She feels just awful about it and handed over her phone without a single word of protest, and is now researching ways a 13-year old can earn some money to help pay for this disaster.

We'll gladly accept cash, checks, PayPal donations, beads, wampum, and anything that might possibly sell on eBay.

Okay, I'm kidding about that. I think. But now that you're here, hit the "Comments" link down below. The floor is now officially open for your comments, suggestions and words of sympathy.

NEW! Cheer Amanda up with a few words of encouragement: amanda@mrhumor.net.

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"When I was younger," I heard myself complaining to a friend one day, "I was disciplined by being sent to my room without any supper. But my son has his own television, phone, computer, and CD player in his room. It's no longer a punishment, it's a reward!"

"So what do you do when your son misbehaves?" the friend asks.

"I send him to MY room!"

[from Laugh and Lift via the Good, Clean Funnies List]

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WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Why do people say money talks? In my house all it ever does is whisper. And at that, just one word: "goodbye."

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Too Many Hours

The Christian Science Monitor says that it's not necessarily money or benefits or job perks that make people happy at work.

Instead, they cite industrial psychologists and clinical studies that show there are actually seven intangibles that every worker needs to feel contented while on-the-clock.

Appreciation
Respect
Trust
Individual Growth
A Good Boss
Compatible Co-Workers
A Sense of Purpose

I think they may be on to something. The first and last ones are pretty important for me. I need to see how what I do in the workplace contributes to the overall health and well-being of the company, and that someone is noticing my contributions.

And, of course, there's nothing like a big fat bonus in the paycheck to tell someone you appreciate what he or she is doing.

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TOP TEN SIGNS YOU'RE WORKING TOO MANY HOURS

10. You consider the night watchman your closest friend.

9. You can't complete your weekly time card because the space for "hours worked" only has room for two digits.

8. Every time you leave for work, you wish your kids "Happy Birthday," just in case you're not back in the next few months.

7. No one else can use your chair because it only conforms to *your* backside.

6. The boss has bought you a pillow.

5. You know exactly what combination of snacks out of the vending machine make for the best tasting supper. And lunch. And breakfast.

4. You can't recall the last time you needed your sunglasses.

3. Your office has a coffee urn with a pipeline straight into your cubicle.

2. You've come to know your building so intimately, you can put your ear to the floor and tell how many co-workers are present at any given time.

AND THE NUMBER ONE SIGN YOU'RE WORKING TOO MANY HOURS?

1. Britney Spears spends more quality time with her kids than you do.

[from BB Spot's Top 11, with family-friendly edits and additional material by Mark Raymond]

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WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get into the office." (Robert Frost)

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Young Director

The Oscars were awarded last night. I didn't watch, but I did read the results shortly before typing up today's post.

Which brings me to Christianity Today's "Reader's Choice" of the top movies in 2007. It's not the Oscars, but CT's readers did pick many of the same movies that Hollywood saw fit to award last night.

Their complete list is here. Good stuff if you're looking for an entertaining, challenging, or engrossing DVD in the coming months.

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SIGNS YOUR MOVIE WAS DIRECTED BY A TEN-YEAR OLD

The action hero's pithy catchphrase is, "You're not the boss of me!"

It's a horror film called, "Cooties on Elm Street."

The hero and villain settle their differences by playing Yu-Gi-Oh ... to the DEATH!

In the critical supermarket scene, Tom Hanks says "melons" and shooting is shut down for two days until the director stops giggling.

The working title of the film changed from, "The Aching Sunset of Forever" to "Poopy McPoopypants and His Laser Snotrocket."

[selected from Chris White's Top Five for Movies]

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WORD for YOUR WEEK: In Normandy, France, there is a region called Calvados, and in that region is the Valley of Vire. There, in the 1400s, Olivier Basselin composed satirical songs. These songs became known as "chansons du Vau de Vire" which means "songs of the Valley of Vire." How does that apply to this week's word? That French phrase was shortened and eventually came into use here in America as a type of entertainment known as "vaudeville." A tip o'the Mark's Musings cap to Anu Garg over at Wordsmith.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dipping Into the Stream...

...of consciousness, that is. Thought I'd just let my mind and fingers wander and blather on about a few things here in the early morning hours of a Saturday when my body says I don't want to sleep anymore.

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See that photo there? This has got to be one of the goofiest things I've ever seen. This is the third floor of an industrial building in Troy, Michigan. See how the wastebaskets outline a kind of "invisible wall"? We were told to stay to the left of the baskets because, and I quote, "the company isn't renting that side of the floor."

Gosh, I hope I don't land in hot water because I took that pic.

****

So my blood pressure has been going up lately - quite a bit, actually - and I can't even blame my kids. They've been doing pretty good. My doctor is more or less stumped, as well. The biggest worry would be that it's what they call "secondary hypertension," which means it's high blood pressure caused by something else going drastically wrong in the body ... usually a kidney problem.

So now I have kidney function tests scheduled for Wednesday. I hate diabetes.

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Though it's not listed on his tour date schedule yet, my band was just booked to warm up for Mark Schultz at my little town's annual "Hometown Days" on June 1.
It won't be our full group as we were asked to do just an acoustic set, so it'll be the "unplugged" version. Still, we're pumped and excited about doing it. We warmed up for "Big Daddy Weave" at this event two years ago.

And it makes the third June booking for us, already. Looks like it could be a busy summer!

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As I mentioned in my post on Friday (see below), I've been working an awful lot of overtime this past week. It's a love/hate relationship with my employer. I hate the time away from my family and getting things done at home, but I'll love the paycheck in a couple of weeks. You, too?

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Finally, some words from poet Sara Teasdale to leave you with on this fine February weekend.

When I can look life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the truth,
And taken in exchange - my youth.

It's a trade everyone of us hope to make one day, isn't it?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Thoughts I

It's time to start my annual series on "Random Acts of Thinking." This is a perennial reader favorite that I run five times each year.

Or maybe it's just one of my favorites.

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RANDOM ACTS OF THINKING, 2008
Part the First

So the other day my wife was looking at our wedding album, then she looked closely at me. Then she told me she figures there's about 40 pounds of me she's not legally married to.

Sometimes I'll go to the symphony even if I don't need the sleep.

At my age, my number one fashion question is, "Can you nap in it?"

My marriage is like a giant game of chess.
Sure wish I knew how to play chess.

I need to find a new job. I've just about had it with the photo lab. All the negativity is getting me down.

I'm not a very good multi-tasker, unless you count sleeping, dreaming, and snoring all at the same time. If you do, I'm brilliant!

Time marching on wouldn't be so bad if it didn't trample all the flowers.

Did I tell you about the monastery that failed its safety inspection? It had no friar escapes.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can help you look for it quicker, and in a convertible.

At an "all you can eat" restaurant, would they kick you out for eating less than you can?

One time I was stopped for speeding. The police said, "You know, the speed limit is only 55 miles per hour." I said, "I know, but I wasn't going to be out that long."

I used to think the whole world was against me, but I found out a few of the smaller countries are remaining neutral.

If I'm ever injured, don't give me artificial respiration. I want the real thing, gosh darn it.

And while I'm on that subject, if my life is ever in jeopardy, don't forget to put your answer in the form of a question.

The secret to my success? I make of list of things not to do, then I check them off as I don't do them.

I used to use clichés like they were going out of style.

[grabbed, gotten, gathered, gleaned, and gobbled up from Shoe, Charlie's Chuckles, Hallmark's Maxine, Real Life Adventures, Ruminations, Holt Art, Octane Creative, Steven Wright, Jim Loy, and the gummed up mind of Mark Raymond]

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Hitting another rough stretch of too much work here. Ten hours Wednesday, eleven hours yesterday, thirteen hours today, and another eight tomorrow. I think I'll sleep most of Sunday after church. Which means I'll see you on Monday.

Mark

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WEB SITE of the WEEK: The average person needs to consume about 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight. (Nutrition trivia: For most, fifty percent of that should be carbohydrates, thirty percent proteins, and twenty percent fats. That's 400 calories from fat, people. At nine calories per gram of fat, that's a whopping 45 grams of fat per day and you'll still be within standard nutritional guidelines.) But hey, if you want a snack of, say, 200 calories, (or about 10% of your daily dose of munchies) how much is that? You can get a good look at what that actually looks like at http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-200-calories-look-like.htm.

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Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs - please - at my web site. To change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. To save money on car repairs, wash your vehicle before you take it to a garage. They are more likely to find something wrong if your ride looks like "it needs everything." You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Credit detachment is one of the few things in life I take seriously. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Must...go...to...bed...now.

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WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." (Albert Einstein)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fairy Tale Technology

As I write this, about 150 miles above your head, a reconnaissance satellite launched in December of 2006 is in the midst of a decaying orbit and whatever survives the reentry friction will crash to the earth near the end of March. So says Heavens Above.

Unless, of course, the Navy shoots it down first. National Public Radio reports that they might have even made their first attempt last night. And it's only costing taxpayers $60 million.

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IF FAIRY TALES USED TECHNOLOGY

Little Bo Peep hasn't lost any sheep since she put GPS-enabled collars on them.

The Prince is searching for his Cinderella at eHarmony.

Alice now pre-plans her trips to Wonderland, thanks to Travelocity.

Ebenezer Scrooge has Bob Cratchit brush up on his accounting skills with new certificates in Excel and Quicken.

Jack's making a fortune on his beanstalk bioengineering breakthrough.

Jack and Jill stay in constant touch while going up and down the hill through text messaging.

You can catch the Pied Piper's entire catalog at iTunes.

King Arthur has tossed out that expensive round table and now holds meetings with his knights through satellite videoconferencing.

[selected from Laugh and Lift via Andychap's The_Funnies]

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WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rules of Civility

This past Monday was President's Day here in the U.S., the day we set aside to remember the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, specifically, and all Presidents in general.

I let it slip by, unremarked upon. Perhaps because I was sleeping in and taking in a movie with my daughter.

At any rate, let's talk for a moment about George Washington. Apparently, when he was a teenager he painstakingly copied down 110 "rules" from a French pamphlet written in 1595, called "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation" and then actually proceeded to attempt to live his life by their precepts.

Today I feature just a few, with thanks to the editors at the Mental Floss website. Some, of course, are obviously dated.

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SELECTIONS FROM "RULES OF CIVILITY AND DECENT BEHAVIOR IN COMPANY AND CONVERSATION"

Every action in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present.

Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when you should hold your peace, walk not on when others stop.

Spit not into the fire, nor stoop low before it, neither put your hands into the flames to warm them, nor set your feet upon the fire, especially if there be meat before it.

Read no letters, books, or papers in company, but when there is a necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave.

Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave.

To one that is your equal, or not much inferior, you are to give the chief place in your lodging, and he who 'tis offered ought at the first to refuse it, but at the second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

Tell not your dreams but to your intimate friend.

Look not nigh when another is writing a letter.

Be apt not to relate news if you know not the truth therof.

Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

Feed not with greediness. Lean not on the table, neither find fault with what you eat.

Shew not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

[selected from Mental Floss Magazine blog, via CNN's Living]

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WONDER for YOUR WEEK: How come every time history repeats itself, the price goes up?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bad Toy Signs

You know that NetFlix® company? The one where you can pick a list of videos you want to see, they will ship them to you, you keep them as long as you want to watch them, then ship them back and they'll ship more? All for a monthly fee?

Well, that same concept has now been applied to baby toys. For a monthly fee, starting at about $37, you can receive up to 72 new toys per year (6 per month), keep them at least 30 days, and when baby (up to 5 years old) grows tired of them, ship them back and get some new ones. There is even a discounted purchase price if you decide you like the toy enough to keep it.

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SIGNS YOU SHOULDN'T BUY THAT TOY

Warning label reads, "May Attract Bats."

Box claims, "Not responsible for accidental neutering of household pets."

The part of the box in contact with the toy appears to be dissolving.

The manual includes instructions for calling 911.

Everyone at the store refuses to open it and show you how it works.

In the fine print on the side of the box, you glimpse the words, "If symptoms persist....."

[selected from BB Spot's Top 11, with family-friendly edits by Mark Raymond]

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WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on them saying, toys not included." (Bernard Manning)

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Bubba Got Tech

On Friday, I sent you to a "Web Site of the Week" that gave you instructions and answers on getting ready for your television set signal to go from analog to digital next year. Well, now here's something more immediate.

If you own an older cell phone or home alarm system, one that runs wirelessly on the analog system, *today* is the day that signal can be shut down officially. Both A,T & T and Verizon are planning on doing just that. They say one easy way to tell if your phone is analog or digital is to look at the screen. If it's in color, it's a digital phone and you're okay. If it's black-and-white, or monochromatic green, yellow, or orange, you'll need a new phone.

Read about it here, and then go and get yourself an upgrade. Pronto.

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HOW TO TELL BUBBA HAS BECOME A GEEK

He takes his web-enabled cell phone to the outhouse so he can check his email.

His email address includes the word "yonder."

Bubba's computer is worth more than all the cars in his front yard.

He calls his computer "Ol' Bessy."

Every email begins with, "Howdy!"

His PC has a bumper sticker that says "My other computer is a laptop."

He understands that "network" has nothing to do with fishing.

Bubba's baseball cap has the Intel logo.

Bubba keeps an inventory of his truck parts, fishing lures, and country music CDs in an Excel spreadsheet.

[selected - and rewritten by Mark Raymond - from LabLaughs via JokeMaster]

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WORD for YOUR WEEK: "Truncate" is one of those Latin words that survives pretty much intact to this day. "Truncare" was Latin for something that was maimed, or cut off, and "truncatus" literally means "cut off." So when you truncate something, you cut it off, stop it short, end it before it would have naturally come to a conclusion. As in, "you may find your old cell phone service truncated if you don't upgrade to digital within hours."

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Worship

I've been thinking a lot lately about worship. What it is, what it isn't. I'm coming to believe that it's not about me.

Except that it is, in that I'm human, and everything I've experienced - especially in the hours and days prior to the worship experience - come with me into that sanctuary.

At my church, there are two schools of thought about worship. Both believe that at the end of a worship service, we should be nearer to God, having learned what it means to be more like Jesus, and leave as a changed people. But we have discussions and ongoing dialog about how you get to that place.

One school believes the worship service should lift us up to where Christ is at, in all of His holiness. The focus should be entirely upon Him, and our humanity should be, well, if not disdained, then certainly discounted. The stain of human sin has no place in the presence of God. A subset of thought from this school believes the congregation should enter the sanctuary already at that level of holiness, or at least well on the way.

I subscribe to the other school of thought; the one that says a worship service should begin by showing us that Christ meets us where we are, in all of our failures, foibles, and fumblings as human beings, struggling to find meaning and purpose in life. And then it shows us what Christ did for us, what He can do for us, and what He will do for us.

But in all of this, I'm also trying to reconcile my new belief that worship really is NOT about us. Maybe that's what the Scriptures mean when they talk about a "sacrifice of praise." Because during this time I get to bring my brokenness into the temple, place it at the feet of Jesus, and say, "Lord, I choose to lay these burdens down and take this time to praise Your name. In this moment, in this place, I sacrifice my own needs and desires and declare unto the Universe that I am Yours, that You are my God, and are infinitely worthy of my praise."

Maybe that's what worship is really all about.


Friday, February 15, 2008

More Tech Support

Okay, let's get a little website news out of the way. I have finally activated the "Guest Book" feature on my website, and the old book is completely gone. Kaput. No more. It has passed on. So perhaps if you hurry, you can have the joy (?) of being the first entry in the new book. Go!

Secondly, I've added some fun pics to the Photo Gallery section that those of you who have ever been around babies will enjoy.

The only thing left to update is my list of "Web Sites of the Week," which is still woefully behind the calendar. I'll let you know when I get that feature caught up.

And speaking of updating things, I remember going to see the "House of the Future" at Walt Disney World in Florida many years back. That combination ride/exhibit was shut down quite awhile ago because it couldn't keep up with reality. But now Live Science is reporting that Disney is spending $15 million to revamp and update their future home, working in conjunction with Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and others.

My favorite new design feature is the kitchen countertop that can sense what groceries you have put on it and will tell you what recipes you can make with the food you just bought.

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MORE LONG-SUFFERING TALES FROM TECH-SUPPORT

Customer: I'm trying to connect to the Internet with your CD, but it's not working. What am I doing wrong?
Tech Support: Okay, you've got the CD in the CD drive, right?
Customer: Yeah....
Tech Support: What sort of computer are you using?
Customer: Computer? Oh, I haven't got a computer. It's in the CD player and all I get are weird noises. Listen....

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Tech Support: What kind of computer do you have?
Customer: A white one....

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Customer: Hi, can you help me? I can't get my diskette out.
Tech Support: Have you tried pushing the little button next to the drive that ejects it?
Customer: Yes, sure, but it's really stuck.
Tech Support: That doesn't sound good. Let me see what else we can do...
Customer: No, wait a minute ... here it is on my desk ... I hadn't inserted it yet ... sorry.

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Tech Support: Click your "My Computer" icon on the left of your screen.
Customer: Your left or my left?

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Tech Support: Hi, good day to you! How may I help you?
Customer: I can't get my computer to print.
Tech Support: Okay, click the "Start" button...
Customer: Listen pal, don't start getting technical on me. I'm not Bill Gates!

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Customer: I'm having problems printing in red.
Tech Support: Do you have a color printer?
Customer: Aaaaaaah ... thank you.

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Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore.
Tech Support: Are you sure it's plugged in to the computer?
Customer: No, I'm not. I can't get around to behind the computer.
Tech Support: Okay. Pick up your keyboard and walk backward 10 paces.
Customer: Okay.
Tech Support: Did the keyboard come with you the whole way?
Customer: Yes.
Tech Support: Then that means the keyboard is not plugged in. Is there another keyboard nearby?
Customer: Yes, there's another one right here ... ah, that one does work.

===

Customer: I can't get onto the Internet.
Tech Support: Are you sure you used the right logon and password?
Customer: Yes, I'm sure. I watched my colleague do it.
Tech Support: Can you tell me what the password was?
Customer: Five stars.

===

Customer: I have a huge problem. A friend put a screen saver on my computer but every time I move my mouse, it disappears.

[submitted by list member Tim D.]

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My daughter is off for a retreat with some of our church youth over the next couple of days and we'd certainly enjoy a quiet house for the weekend, if it weren't for work and social commitments already made. Ah well, it's the life we lead and there's no one to blame but us.

You have a quiet weekend for us, and I'll see you on Monday.

Mark

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WEB SITE of the WEEK: In just about 12 months, all televised signals must be converted from analog to digital, by order of the Federal Communications Commission. Will your television set be able to receive these upgraded signals? Find out just about everything you need to know and what to do in order to prepare for it at http://askbobrankin.com/analog_to_digital_tv_conversion.html. Bob is one of the chief writers and architects of "The Internet Tourbus."

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Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs - please - at my web site. To change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. To measure short distances, remember that a dollar bill is just about 12 inches long, and a quarter is just a tick under one inch. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. It's such an easy thing. It really, really is. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and things that go bump in the night periodically on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Have a good thought for my blood pressure these days, if you think of it. Thanks.

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WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "I have often regretted my speech. Never my silence." (Xenocrates)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day, 2008

Saint Valentine's Day, 2008.

This year I thought I'd share a true story sent in by list member Mike B. Be sure you read my little "P.S." at the end.

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VALENTINE'S DAY CARD

In 1978 I was living and working as a deputy sheriff in a rural mountain area, approximately 40 miles from the nearest town. As I was driving around on routine patrol one day, listening to AM radio, the announcer reminded all of the guys and gals out there that it was Valentine's Day.

At first I panicked, as I had forgotten to buy my wife a Valentine's Day card. I didn't have time to drive into town to get a card before my wife was due home and there was no place locally in that rural area to pick one up. At that time, however, our children were young and we had colored construction paper, scissors, glue, and anything else I might need to make my own card.

As soon as my shift was over, I rushed home and began cutting and gluing my card, adding a little poem, straight from the heart. It took me almost two hours and I finished it just minutes before my wife arrived at home. I presented my specially-made Valentine and she gave me her store-bought card. We then went on to celebrate the day with a candlelight dinner and other romantic amenities.

The next day, while emptying the trash, I found my specially-made card in the bottom of the trash basket. I couldn't believe it! I had worked so hard on it, and there it lay, discarded in the trash. I fished it out and hid it away. Then, on Valentine's Day in 1979, I gave her the card again, adding a note about where I had found it.

Well, from that day until this, I have given her the same card every year. Of course, each year I add a new little note along with little gifts inside the card. That old card has gotten dog-eared and stained over the years, but there is a lot of sentiment and ever-increasing love carried by that little card each succeeding year.

I now chuckle to myself as I walk past the greeting card displays every year as Valentine's Day draws near, watching all of the husbands and boyfriends try to pick out the perfect card, knowing all the while that I already have my perfect card, and will have it for many years to come.

Of course, each year I have to fish it out of the trash....

[written by list member Mike Boudreaux, used with permission, edits by Mark Raymond]

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WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)

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P.S. - Mike wants to quickly reassure readers that the last bit is not true. His wife reads the new note he's added, cherishes the other notes from previous years, and removes whatever little bauble he's included in this year's card. Then she hands it back to him and tells him to put it away until next year. Mike figures that little handmade card has saved him a bundle in store-bought greeting cards and countless hours looking for one over the years and that it has now become a cherished and priceless memento, and he don't know what he'd do if it was ever truly misplaced.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Katrina Lessons

Have you ever wondered what your house and neighborhood look like from several hundred feet up?

How about what your house might be worth? And how much might the surrounding homes in your neighborhood be worth?

Get the answer to all those questions here.

Just enter your address and ZIP code - sorry, international readers - and you'll get an aerial view of your home (not a very recent snapshot, but still quite nice) along with a fair idea of your home's approximate worth.

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THINGS I'VE LEARNED SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA

Both coffee and frozen pizza can be prepared on a barbecue grill.

No matter how many times you flick the switch, the lights will not come back on without electricity.

Kids *can* survive for more than four days without a video game controller in their hand.

Women really can live without doing their hair ... they just don't want to be around any other humans.

You will never get used to a cold shower, no matter how many times you take one.

TV is addictive and withdrawal is painful. Take it one day at a time, my friend.

There are more trees in my neighborhood than I thought there were.

Aluminum siding is definitely a luxury, not a necessity.

Crickets can increase their volume to cover the noise of 14 generators.

When required, a Chrysler minivan will float. It won't steer, but it will float.

Some things DO keep the mail carriers from their appointed rounds.

Cell phones work when land lines don't, but only for as long as the battery is charged. (See above lesson about electricity.)

Laundry hampers were never really made for anything but clothes.

Tree service companies are unappreciated.

"Drywall" is a compound word. Take away the "dry" and the stuff is pretty much worthless.

I can walk a lot farther than I thought I could.

[selected from Firesong's Funnies via JokeMaster; edits and updating by Mark Raymond]

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WONDER for YOUR WEEK: What is an "isolated" thunderstorm? One that none of the other thunderstorms will speak to?

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Hey, you can get your own subscription by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Forgot Your Valentine?

Well, troops, my apologies, but I have to do just the joke today. I seem to be having some issues with high blood pressure that are not only mystifying my doctor, but giving me blistering headaches and knocking me off my feet.

I will give a shout out to my Mom and Dad, who are celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary today.

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HOW TO TELL YOU FORGOT VALENTINE'S DAY

Hallmark calls, offering discounts on apology cards.

Your bedroom now bears an uncanny resemblance to the "Fortress of Solitude."

The kids tell you that Mom "went to bed early" and "locked the door" ... while you were taking out the trash.

The Weather Channel is reporting that the coldest place in the U.S. on February 15 is your bedroom.

You wake up with a florist's ad stapled to your forehead.

[selected from Kimberly Quiggle's Cup O'Cheer]

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WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs." (William Shakespeare)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Lent

Well, Lent is off to a good start. During this season before Easter, some people use the time as a personal "40 days in the wilderness" experience to prepare themselves spiritually for Easter. Others make personal sacrifices and "give something up" for Lent. A coworker of mine stops drinking a popular soft drink during this time, which is indeed a sacrifice for him, as he usually guzzles four or five of them each day.

If you're giving something up, I think the intention is that you also take the money you spent on that particular item and donate it to charity. Or maybe that's just a good idea.

At any rate, here's a few items you probably *shouldn't* give up for Lent.

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WHAT *NOT* TO GIVE UP FOR LENT

Breathing.

Bathing.

Tithing.

Good conversations.

Paying your bills.

Going to church.

Your sense of humor.

Sobriety.

Compassion.

Sleep.

[written by Mark Raymond with thanks to list member Patricia K. of Doc's Daily Chuckle]

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WORD for YOUR WEEK: Despite its appearance, the word "antithesis" has nothing to do with themes or a student's thesis. It's a mix of two Greek words: "tithenai" which means "to place," and the "anti" which means "against." The word literally means "to place against," and its usual meaning indicates the opposite of something. As in, "today's post features items that might be the antithesis of Lenten sacrifices."

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Mae West

Mae West (pictured) is probably most well-known for being a Hollywood sex symbol and tossing off risqué one-liners as easily as batting an eyelash.

But she was also a studious and industrious writer, writing and collecting more than twenty thousand jokes over four decades. She was a playwright as well as a movie star. She only made nine movies, but she received writing credit for five of them, and is single-handedly credited with saving Paramount Studios from bankruptcy. In every movie she was ever in, she insisted on creative control over all of her dialogue.

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THE WIT AND WISDOM OF MAE WEST

"It's not the men in my life that counts, it's the life in my men."

"A woman in love can't be reasonable ... or she probably wouldn't be in love."

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

"His mother should have thrown him out and kept the stork."

"Sex didn't begin in Hollywood, it just went there to get in the movies."

"I only like two kinds of men. Domestic and imported."

"Say what you like about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins."

"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

"She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong."

"A man in love is like a clipped coupon; and it's time to cash in."

"Too many girls follow the line of least resistance ... but a good line is hard to resist."

[selected from all over the web; too many sources to list]

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My band has a "special guest appearance" at a big community event this evening, followed by another busy weekend with friends and our church family. And I know Lent is underway. Usually I mark the occasion in my post. This year a snowstorm blitzed through the area on Ash Wednesday and dumped nearly a foot of snow, canceling *everything* that evening and school for the rest of this week. A Catholic friend told me that this is the earliest Lent has started in the past 160 years, and it will be at least that long before it comes this early in the calendar again.

But on Monday, I'm thinking of writing a post on "What *NOT* to give up for Lent." I welcome your suggestions, but get them in this weekend, people. Stat!

I'll see you on Monday.

Mark

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WEB SITE of the WEEK: Find everything you ever wanted to know - and then a whole lot more - about salt at http://www.saltinstitute.org. Click the "Major Uses" link, then the "Consumer Tips on Using Salt" link to find out some neat things salt can do. Like putting some in with your boiling eggs will make them peel more easily. Or a pinch in your brewed coffee helps to remove the bitterness. Or place several handfuls in a tub of warm water and soak for ten minutes to help ease and remove fatigue. The site says there are more than 14,000 uses for salt.

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Mark's Musings is a Habeas-certified spam free mailer. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs - please - at my web site. To change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, use the "Change Subscription" or "Cancel Subscription" links at the very bottom of this page. To contact Mark, click here. To estimate distances, line your thumb up on an object with one eye closed. Now switch eyes. Your thumb will appear to have "jumped" away from the object. Estimate the distance of that "jump," and multiply by 10. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. Taking my credits off is the equivalent of kicking a puppy. You wouldn't want to be thought of as a puppy-kicker, would you? No, I didn't think so. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. I update my blog with a copy of this post daily, and extra thoughts, videos, and things that go bump in the night periodically on the weekends. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. I think "Stranger Than Fiction" is one of the better movies of the past two years.

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WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Education is the best provision for old age." (Aristotle)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Waiting in Line

How'd you like to see your doctor just once a year, but have access to his advice anytime through email? Or get your prescriptions refilled from anywhere in the world, as long as you're near a computer?

Washington's Howard Stark is working to make that medical way of doing things a reality.

Interestingly enough, he says it makes him feel like he's "an old-fashioned physician."

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I was at my local cell phone company to pay my bill and upgrade my service. The line wasn't clearly formed, and there was an older gentleman with a cane nearby. It was unclear which one of us would be called next.

When the representative called for one of us to step up, the man with the cane motioned politely and said, "After you."

I smiled at him and replied, "No, please, after you. I have all day."

The man smiled back and said, "No, you go ahead. My doctor says I have at least six months."

[Colorado Comments]

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WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." (John 8:51)

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Love You

Some time ago I suggested you add an "I.C.E." number to your cell phone contact list. This gives emergency personnel a phone number to call "In Case of Emergency."

But what about those of you who didn't do this? And what if your cell phone is damaged in the calamity? Or what if, heaven forfend, you forgot your cell phone that trip? Or maybe you're just one of those folks who doesn't even *own* a cell phone yet?

For you, there is now the Next of Kin Registry.

It's free to register, and only certified aid, rescue, and governmental relief agencies have access to your information. You should register every person in your family.

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OTHER WAYS TO SAY "I LOVE YOU"

Considerately stay out of the way of her housecleaning by sleeping until noon.

Patiently listen while he explains the infield fly rule.

Will not only buy her feminine products, but will even get the right brand.

No longer uses tongs when handling his shorts.

Permits the cat to live.

Occasionally accepts responsibility.

Allow her mother into the house freely. (Sure, she's already been cremated, but.....)

Almost always flushes.

Hardly ever makes rude noises during chick flicks.

[selected from Chris White's Little Fivers on Relationships with family-friendly edits and rewrites by Mark Raymond]

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WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Does anyone ever say a freight train sounds just like a tornado?

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Smart Kids

Well, apparently I did something at our little Super Bowl get-together my body didn't like. It responded yesterday with a migraine and some deep regrets over my choice of snackage.

So just the joke today.

But if you want to see all the commercials, try http://www.myspace.com/superbowlads.

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SMART KIDS

At a high school in North Dakota a group of teens played a prank.

They let three goats loose in the school hallways overnight.

But before the goats were set loose, the kids painted numbers on them: #1, #2, and #4.

School officials spent the entire day searching for #3.

[submitted by list member Judy S.]

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WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Most football players are temperamental. That's 90 percent temper and ten percent mental." (Doug Plank)

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Real Concert Reports

Today The Beatles go intergalactic.

A confluence of anniversaries are driving the event. NASA is celebrating 50 years as an official administration this year, their "Deep Space Network" of radio antennae have been in operation for 45 years, and today is the 40th anniversary of The Beatles hit, "Across the Universe."

To celebrate, Beatles fans are asked to play that song at 7:00 p.m. EST this evening. At that same time, NASA will beam an MP3 of the song, literally, across the universe to Polaris, the North Star.

It should arrive in about 430 years.

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COLLEGE KIDS REPORT ON MUSIC CONCERTS

"I felt as though the last piece was an excellent way to end the concert."

"The music was slower and seemed dark. There were often spots where dissidents dominated the song."

"For the most part I enjoyed the more upbeat songs. They gave a more 'Beep Bop' flavor to the audience."

"The men's voices were deep and constant and the ladies' voices were coming through in brief exerts."

"The Theatre is set up so that there are many seats on the floor, some that are very close to the stage and others that are farther away."

"I preferred the piece by Mozart ... his music touches nerve endings."

"I sat in the balcony so that I could look down on the performers."

"According to the program, this piece was extremely new when it was first composed."

"Dr. B. played the piano and her husband."

"The program said the Shubert piece was unfinished, which was ironic, because it went on and on...."

"The Haydn piece was nice, but not very moving or memorable. I understand this is one characteristic of classical music."

[selected from Clemson University's website]

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WORD for YOUR WEEK: Sticking with a musical theme today, and since I'm working on a couple for my band, where does the word "gig" come from? It has been in use by jazz musicians since the early 1900s. The word was in use long before musicians appropriated it, and at one time referred to laughter or merriment (as in giggle), it was a joke, and - here's the relevant part - at one time it also meant dance. Since most musicians cut their teeth by playing for dances, my sources say that it is the most likely explanation for its origin. "I'm playing for the gig," which eventually shortened to just, "I'm playing a gig."

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Strike up the band and get your own subscription by clicking here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Baseball vs. Football

It's February and that means Valentine's Day is coming soon, and that can only mean one thing: baseball's Spring Training starts in just a couple of weeks!

Ohboyohboyohboy. I can already smell the hot dogs and the stale beer. Maybe this year I'll invest in a pitcher.

Not that kind, silly, the kind who throws fastballs past hitters. Randy Newsom, a pitcher from the Boston Red Sox farm system, was traded to the Cleveland Indians as the "player to be named later" in the Covelli "Coco" Crisp trade a couple of years ago. He has signed a contract with a company called Real Sports Investments to pay four percent of his major league salary back to anyone who "invests" in his potential as a major league pitcher. A "share" of Mr. Newsom will cost you $20. With baseball salaries being what they are today, that could net you a pretty penny if he turns out to be a decent pitcher with a long career.

It's so promising, in fact, that all his current shares appear to be sold. Or it could be that they don't go on sale until today. The website is a little vague about this point. But the company says they will soon sign up other young players with promising potential in *all* the major league sports, including NASCAR.

For your humor selection today, I thought this might be appropriate, considering the timing.

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WHY BASEBALL IS BETTER THAN FOOTBALL

No marching bands.

All the Super Bowls together have barely produced as much drama as a single World Series.

Big league baseball players chew tobacco. Pro football linemen chew on each other.

Before a baseball game, you have two hours of batting practice. Before a football game, you have two hours of traffic jam.

Eighty degrees, a cold drink, and short sleeves sure beats thirty degrees, a hip flask, and six layers of clothing under your lap blanket.

162 games a season is 10.125 better than 16 games a season.

Miss your favorite team's game? In baseball you may only have to wait a day. In football, you have to wait a week. Sometimes two.

With rare exception, baseball parks are beautiful; football stadiums are just concrete outdoor arenas.

In baseball the visitor bats first for the courtesy and the home team bats last for the drama. In football, it's all left up to a coin flip.

Football nicknames inspire fear. Baseball nicknames inspire chuckles.

Baseball statistics tell you everything. Football statistics are hard to decipher and meaningless for the average fan.

Baseball's Hall of Fame is next to a lake. Football's Hall of Fame is next to a freeway.

In baseball, fans can keep a ball hit into the stands. In football, they raise a net to catch the ball so you never even get a chance.

Baseball means Spring is near. Football means winter is coming.

[selections from a Thomas Boswell article in the Washington Post as published at baseball-almanac.com; edits and paraphrasing by Mark Raymond]

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Tomorrow morning Punxatawney Phil performs his groundhog/shadow annual ritual; be sure to keep your eye on that if you live in the cold northern wilderness. It will be especially meaningful here in Michigan as we will be digging out from under nearly a foot of snow the weather service says will be falling on us today. The flakes have already started accumulating as I write this in the waning minutes of Thursday evening. And then, of course, Sunday brings us the 42nd Super Bowl. Enjoy the commercials!

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WEB SITE of the WEEK: I started off today's post talking about Valentine's Day and lest you think all the romance in my soul has been struck out by a yakker, some high cheese and a good split-finger fastball, visit http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/01/50-ways-to-be-romantic.html for a good long list of some pretty easy things you can do to remind that special someone you love him or her. I offer them now because even though you have nearly two weeks, good romance often takes a wee bit o'planning.

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Mark's Musings is a daily ezine via email and Habeas-certified to be spam free. Subscribe, view past issues in the Archives, or help me defray publishing costs - please - at my web site. To contact me, click here. To make ironing easier, buy shirts that are 65% polyester and 35% cotton. You can forward or reprint "Mark's Musings" freely but please keep the credits attached. The credits are the place to learn that a yakker is a wicked curve ball, high cheese is a chest-high fastball, and a split-finger pitch takes a last minute dive just before it reaches home plate so the batter winds up swinging at nothing. Original material and commentary © 2008 by Mark Raymond. My personal mission statement is John 3:30. Is there a 12-step program to help people who need to get up early learn how to shut off the computer and go to bed before the wee hours of the morning?

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WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." (Abba Eban)