Geekdom Affirmed – Again!

Every so often I have an experience that reminds me that, at the end of the day, I’m really a geek!

These experiences usually involve me somehow reading into something a far greater or different meaning than what was simply intended – something that almost everyone else would “get” the first time, but not me!

Often it involves an item in pop culture, the movies, or some popular television show that I’ve never once looked at in my life.

Here in the final week of October I just had one of these sorts of experiences. I was looking at something online – I believe it was an article about the pending destruction of Hurricane Sandy – and one of the “headlines” in a side panel that are there to pull you into looking at something else (which rarely works with me) did catch my eye. The title was:  “15 Must-See Cemeteries across the USA.”

OK … I know what you are thinking:  “THAT caught your eye?!” Look, I’m being self-deprecating here … work with me!

So here’s what I think when I see that:  “Cool! Let’s see … that would have to include Arlington for sure, and Old North Church in Boston. Certainly Woodlawn in the Bronx and Christ Church Buriel Ground in Philadelphia. So… you see what I’m thinking – history and famous Americans, etc.

But nope … what the article is about is a listing of 15 creepy places to bring out the Halloween spirit in all its splendor! So I’m like … “Oh, that’s what it means by must-see.”

However, it did list a cemetery that I saw in New Orleans when I was on a work team project there a few years ago. Teams would do street clean-up and then the hot dog truck would appear and everyone would go around and knock on doors and invite local residents out to eat with them. The street I was on was along this cemetery called “St. Louis Cemetery Number One.”  Since the city there is below sea level, burials were done in mausoleums above ground. And yes, it was a creepy looking place in the daylight, let alone what it might have looked like in moonlight!

OH … late word on this … I just tried out the headline on Diana, and she thought the same thing I did. See, we really are perfectly compatible!  Two boring geeks!

Help Me with a Dream Interpretation

I guess we all have some very bizarre dreams, and mine don’t tend to often be very upsetting or stick with me long at all. But I am sometimes surprised at the complication involved in the details of a dream.

So, last night – I am umpiring a girl’s softball game from home plate. There are two outs and runners at 1st base and 2nd base. The batter hits a shot into the gap in left-centerfield. The first base-runner scores easily, but the second runner (coming from 1st base) is caught in an extended rundown between 3rd and home. The batter is now also caught in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd, and throws are going all over the infield. So two runners are caught between bases, but the defense can’t finish them off with a tag. OK?

OK – here’s the crazy part. The first base-runner who scored easily from 2nd base on the hit – I clearly noticed – did not stop at home when she scored. She kept right on going to 1st base, around to 2nd, and then – she gets into the same rundown between 2nd and 3rd along with the batter. This, of course, creates enough confusion that the runner between 3rd and home is now able to score (the second run scored on the play), and only after that does the 3rd out get recorded – as the ‘illegal’ runner is tagged.

So… here are my questions:

–          The first run is legit, but what should the call be for that runner not stopping at home but “rounding home” to go around the bases again?

–          Should the second run count, since it was only able to be scored because of the confusion created by the “illegal runner?”

–          If the “illegal runner” was tagged as the third out, was there ever really a third out? I sure hope so, because I might otherwise have to have another dream to sort it out!

–          Why would I have a dream with such complication?

–          Why in the world am I umpiring a girl’s softball game? I have probably watched about 3 innings of such in my life – walking over to the field at WHS to see a cross country runner who played softball in the spring come to bat.

–          If dreams are our subconscious way of working out our real life problems, what sort of problem is this attempting to fix?

Can anyone help me out?

Another Dog

I am almost terribly ashamed! Almost. But it helps to live in the country and far enough away from any neighbors that we can’t really be seen by them nor from the road. And my landscaper son continues to plant trees. This is good.

You have heard me say and write that I love my dog. I do!  Joules the Jack Russell is way cool! At the end of the day, I like anything that runs fast! No rabbits will ever again infest our property.

A friend of mine who shall go nameless (unless I change my mind in a couple of sentences), who lives in Williamsport on a main street and serves currently on my church board, also owned a Jack Russell. I remember one time some years ago when I was at the Sunoco station at Exit 2 in Williamsport, he walked by with the dog on a leash. Feeling a bit insecure it seemed, he said to me, “You know it takes a real man with lots of personal confidence to be seen walking a little Jack Russell.”  I’ve never felt that way about my JRT – she is so cool and so awesome!

However, I can understand how that feeling could be true of being seen with certain breeds and types of canines … and that is where I’m feeling a bit … ah … insecure. It appears we have a second dog in the house. And like the first one (brought to us unannounced by my daughter-in-law), it has also sort of dropped into our lives. It is a stray dog that we have been unsuccessful in all efforts to find its previous owner.

But here is the problem – in terms of machismo … she is a tiny, fluffy, foofie, little bundle of fur. Weighing about five pounds, she makes Joules looks like a Great Dane standing next to her. It is the kind of dog some rich old woman of high estate would have – that would dress up the dog in frilly coats with pink and yellow bows, etc.

I guess the dog is some sort of Pomeranian, maybe even a mix with a Chihuahua or something like that? Her tail sticks straight in the air and with an overflowing abundance of long hair, it looks like a palm tree over her back. She is quite well-behaved, and fortunately is not really a yappy little thing like so many other runt types of breeds.

So, I guess she’ll end up going places with me at times like Joules does … that is, if I can work up my confidence to be seen publically with such a fur-ball.

The thing still does not have a name. Any ideas?  Foofie and cutesy names not allowed!

Jimmy Lynn for a Day

Today was the Sunday that I agreed to come early to church to be the first one there to open up and get the church ready for the morning in the absence of Jimmy Lynn.

Now, I readily admit, it is difficult to fill the venerable shoes of TSF’s church sweetheart and beloved caretaker!  Jimmy is also the meister of miscellaneous information. He has a story or an isolated little-known tidbit on almost every topic.

When I was a kid in the 60s, there was a silly TV show called “Queen for a Day.” A sort of early reality show, it featured fairly ordinary women telling their stories, and through some criteria one was chosen to sit on this huge throne. She was crowned “queen for a day” and regaled with roses and a robe. It was ridiculous, but it was very popular. A famous TV critic has said of it, “one of the most ghastly shows ever produced … tasteless, demeaning to women, demeaning to anyone who watched it, cheap, insulting and utterly degrading to the human spirit.”  Wow!

My experience as “Jimmy Lynn for a Day” was a lot better than that. And I have some stories to tell. I often wonder why Jimmy’s stories go on and on and on about various topics. Well, it is because of how interesting his life is!

After checking out the bathrooms and only needing to add one toilet roll, I opened all the doors and turned on the hall lights. I can report that only one door was unlocked! But criminals reading this: don’t dare attempt to steal anything, even if the door is open, because our security system WILL catch you!

I moved on to bug and worm execution and elimination. By my count, we did have actually a more people at church today than we did beetles and inch worms. However, there were likely more of such behind the walls than there were people hiding in the cracks.

Here is what I observed: The worms are more numerous than the beetles out in the hallways, but in the auditorium, there are more bugs. That is clearly because of the distance that needs to be traversed … it would be something of a marathon for the worms to go that far. Also, about 55-60% of beetles were dead – clearly victims of our extermination program (or a Tim Lester sermon).

I was pleased to know that I can still outrun and outmaneuver the worms, but the bugs were more of a challenge (the living ones, I mean). If I brushed them into the pan, there was the possibility that they would run out before I could throw them outside. So, I had to, ah, well, crush them. But here is the problem with that – if I crushed them too hard, they would be smashed into the floor or ground into the tread of my shoe. So, the proper technique I discovered was to sort of pop them on the dome lightly and stun them without smashing their guts all over the floor.

So… all in all, it was an exciting experience. Who knew that the job had so many details to talk about? And what an honor! How many of you have ever been “Jimmy Lynn for a Day?”

Shortstops and 2 Timothy 2:2

Most folks at Tri-State Fellowship know that I am a big fan of baseball and the Baltimore Orioles, and many know that I write occasional articles for a sports network on a site called BirdsWatch­ It has been a great year for the Birds and a lot of fun to follow this team and write about them.

The Orioles have a new young player who is one of the most highly regarded prospects in all of professional base­ball. His name is Manny Machado, and at age 20 he was brought up from the minors to finish the last 50 games or so with the major league team. Though drafted as a shortstop, he has played 3rd base for the Orioles, since that was the greater need.

Many people are comparing Machado to the famous Yankees shortstop turned 3rd base­man – Alex Rodriquez. Both are from Florida, and both are similar body types with similar advanced skills at a young age.

Prior to Rodriquez, the man who changed the shortstop position in baseball forever was a Marylander named Cal Ripken. He broke the prior mold of shortstops being little guys with good hands for defense, but also small skills at bat. Ripken proved that a big and strong power hitter could also fill the position defensively.

When Rodriquez broke into baseball, Cal Ripken mentored him in the off season and in various ways. Now, Rodriquez has done the same for Machado – working out together over the winter in Florida. In fact, Ripken has commented that he has heard Machado talk about things in ways that he remembered teaching Alex years ago.

What does this have to do with anything spiritual, and why did I write this for our church newsletter? I include it as a perfect illustration of the Apostle Paul’s teaching in 2 Timothy 2:2 … “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

This is the essence of what our teaching is to be about – discipling generations of follow­ers of Christ. This is our motto and purpose as a church. This is why we talk about generations and multi-generational ministry all the time. It is the main idea.

If Chris Wiles was to be called away for the next 50 years to be the pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in California, he should be able to come back at age 80 in 2062 and hear the essential teachings that he is presenting now being echoed down the corridors of time to that day.

Are you passing it on? Are you teaching the skills, the craft, the fundamentals of your faith to younger ones around you?