Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Blatant" Religiousity?

I am not speaking on Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's behalf nor against him. Sometimes he seems "out there" with some of his statements and I am concerned about his motives. But the author of this petition is ignorant. Since when is being "religious" akin to a crime? The author doesn't seem to know what "Separation of Church and State" means, the history behind the phrase, and that it isn't in the Constitution. This is one of those myths that a lot of people have believed for a long time. He also comlains about "blatant religiosity." "Blatant" means bad behavior performed unashamedly and out in the open. I can think of a lot of things that applies to, but not religion. What our country really needs is more God-influenced leadership, not less.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

More Gloom and Doom

With all due respect to my TV met friends, President Obama getting TV mets like Al Roker to push his political agenda does not equal good science, nor does it convince me.  I will think for myself, thank you.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Marathon" - Rush

You can do a lot in a lifetime if you don't burn out too fast. You can make the most of the distance. First you need endurance. -- First you've got to last...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Affirmation and Encouragement

Recently I was hurt.  Without going into detail, I was misjudged.  Since it came from someone I care about I've struggled.  

But The Lord has ways of sending people your way to affirm you.  I got such an affirmation in a random, unsolicited text from a friend the other day:

"Thank you! It may have taken me a year but I finally feel that connection with God. His presence has been strong in my life recently. So thank you for explaining it to me & giving me the knowledge I needed to get there."

God always comes through. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

18 Hours of Work and Fun

Last night I enjoyed hanging out with Jason Simpson, the Chief Meteorologist at WHNT 19.  I had a very long stressful day at work.  Sounded like Jason had a busy day himself.  We always have a good time talking about weather and about life in general.  

After Jason finished the weather around 6:45, I drove over to the Space and Rocket Center.  There we had a very interesting presentation at the local chapter of the NWA/AMS meeting.  

After getting home around a quarter till nine, I spent the next few hours working on my camera equipment in anticipation of the upcoming severe weather season.  

I haven't had much sleep this week but last night it was for a good reason!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A New Goal

                  Last Night's Route

I have always enjoyed running and/or walking for exercise, since I was young.  I have often wondered why people spend hundreds of dollars for gym memberships, personal trainers, and expensive equipment.  I am not being critical of that, but it has been my experience that running, jogging, and even walking long distances can yield the same health benefits, at no cost.  I suppose there are benefits to having access to better equipment, motivational coaches, and indoor climate, but we can’t all afford that.  And even if we could, one would have to ask if it’s worth it.  These support systems can be helpful, but in the end, the desire to take care of yourself has to come from within. 


In recent years I have used free smart phone applications to help me.  Several days (especially on weekends) I have walked 10-15 miles and in 2012 I think I averaged between three and four miles of walking per day.  In 2011, I completed seven out of nine weeks of a “Couch to 5K” program.  Then I was the coordinator of 30-plus volunteers at a national weather conference.  I was putting in 14-hour days for over a week.  I literally had no time to find a way to complete the program.  Not only that, I was staying in a hotel in the downtown portion of a large city with high crime rates.  So I stopped the program and went back to walking. 


Since then, I have walked quite a bit at times, but not with the consistency I have had in the past.  There are so many barriers to outdoor running and walking.  It takes a lot of time.  Rainy days make it difficult.  As I age, cold weather makes it very difficult.  Sometimes extreme heat makes it difficult.  Then there are the issues of being unavailable due to work hours and a pretty long commute.  I have hobbies, neighbors, and friends I like to spend time with.  I like to be available to chase storms or take lightning pictures. Tonight I will be at a meeting of a weather organization I am involved in.  Even though my sons are older, I still value any time I can get with them.  I have had times where I dated.  That is not a time issue currently, but it has been at times.  I always have projects to work on at home.  The list goes on and on.  At some point though, we have to make time in our lives for things. 


I “feel” the drive to do this now.  But as I was walking and jogging last night, one word kept coming to mind: “consistency”.  How many people get fired up for a few days or weeks, only to slip back into inactivity?  A former pastor of mine once described me as one of the most consistent people he knew.  I don’t know about that, but it is something I feel a renewed desire to implement more fully in my life.  Warmer weather is arriving, and I am getting the “fever” again.  One thing that helps is setting written goals.  Last night I decided on a new goal.  Today I am putting it in writing.  I want to run a 5K race.  I have never been in an “official” race, before.  I started thinking, that’s really only 3.1 miles.  My initial goal is to actually run and jog the whole way.  But even if I end up walking, I will have completed something new.  In that spirit, I looked up quotes on consistency.  I will try to think about these as I pursue my goal.


“For the novice runner, I’d say to give yourself at least two months of consistently running at a conversational pace before deciding whether you want to stick with it.  Consistency is the most important aspect of training at this point.” – Frank Shorter


“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives.  It’s what we do consistently.” – Anthony Robbins


“Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn


“The secret of success is consistency of purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli


“Getting an audience is hard.  Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” – Bruce Springsteen


“You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others.  That’s the mark of a true professional.” – Joe Paterno


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Classic Kramer

"The Opposite" is one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes.   George Costanza acts the opposite of his instincts and finds great success.  But my favorite clip is when Cosmo Kramer goes on Regis and Kathie Lee.  

Kramer coffee table book on "Regis & Kathie Lee" 


Live Long and Prosper

I ran across an interesting interview in which Leonard Nimoy describes in detail how he came up with his character Spock's famous Vulcan hand gesture in the original Star Trek show.

Monday, February 17, 2014

1970 Something...

was just thinking about 1970-something.  There was no Facebook. No personal computers.  I played outside with my friends until my parents forced us to come in and eat.  In the winter I never knew in the morning if I might wake up to snow.   We knew most all the neighbors.  At school we all talked about the same shows on TV.  We grew gardens.  Kids who did bad things were kind of ostracized.  Getting to talk on the phone with family members long-distance was a treat.  My parents didn't have to be too embarrassed about music on the radio.  We always sat down to a real meal prepared by my mom (other than weekends when dad grilled out). We talked at the dinner table as a family.  I had fast food about once or twice a year.   There was never sex on TV in my house.  Everybody we knew, we knew in person.  Somehow we survived without wearing seatbelts.  I could ride all over town on my bicycle before I was even 12.  $.15 snowcones and cup ball games were regular fare down at the park. People rarely divorced, but usually were fairly happy.  Sometimes people found out that their best friend-spouse shared the best days of their life toward the end.  We learned math by reading the back of baseball cards and computing our batting averages.  We were lucky to see our favorite football team once or twice a year on TV.  I learned about the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates from listening to distant radio stations.  We didn't download music; it was an "event" to go to the record store and bring an album home.  We survived fights and bullying at school.  Life was not perfect. But I think it was better.   

After writing this, i happened across an article through my Facebook feed.  It talked about the dangers of texting in a relationship to the exclusion of human interaction.  Without realizing it was happening, pI had a relationship recently that fell victim to the very same thing. Other reasons and factors were given, but assumptions were made based on texting, not to mention the familiarity it brings that were hurtful.  This is a very good read for anyone he does a lot of texting.  

I might add another point to her article.   If two people don't invest in each other enough to block off some time to actually see each other and talk on a regular basis that might be a red flag.  Texting can be done at almost any time. Is it really saying that I don't have time to talk to you without other distractions?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Random Thoughts at Lunch

am one of the least knowledgeable people in the world about fashion trends.  There was a lady in court this morning who looked like she dipped the bottom four inches of her hair in blood.  One of my coworkers said that was an Ombré.  Learn something new every day.


I met a tourist from the UK today.  I asked whether they got much snow in their part of the UK.  Occasionally they get a bad storm that closes everything.  They spend two weeks alternating between visiting the pub and sledding.  Visiting the UK and seeing the Beatles landmarks is on my bucket list.


One of the attorneys joked with me that she was falsely accused of not returning paper work.  I said, “It’s not fun to be falsely accused, is it?”  I was only half-joking.  I remind myself that if it happened to Jesus, who is perfect, why wouldn’t we expect it could happen to us.


Useless knowledge of the day:  The judge described some song lyrics for which he couldn’t name the song.  I knew instantly it was “Wolverton Mountain”. 


I am ready for spring and summer weather.  But, if it is going to stay cold, we might as well get a good snow.  My son David and I got the sleds and shovels out yesterday.  Unfortunately, with every model run, it looks like the best moisture may stay south of here overnight.  But we may have another chance in two days. 


I like Brunswick stew on cold days like this.  I had a pint of stew from Whitt’s BBQ today for lunch. 


Watching the Beatles tribute on CBS last night was quite a treat.  Most of the artists did a great job covering Beatles songs.  The best part was seeing Paul and Ringo performing together.  I couldn’t help but think about how nerve-wracking it must have been to perform those songs in front of Paul, Ringo, and the widows and children of George and John.  It also amazed me at how much George’s son Dhani looks and sounds like his dad. 


Missing someone really stinks.  I have to practice thanking God for what I have rather than focusing on what I don’t have.


Joy Comes in the Morning?

Why is it that when you're sad about something, it seems like the worst time of the day is often first thing in the morning?

I think for me, I cope and process things best when I take time to think and pray.  A lot of people slip into deep depression. I have learned to avoid that.  Music, prayer, and friends are my biggest weapons.  

Last night was the big 50th anniversary special for the Beatles.  One of my favorite all-time songs is "Let it Be" by Paul McCartney. I really needed to hear that.  

Lord, I'm depending on you today. You've always been faithful.  Even when I have not been faithful.  You're an ever present help in our times of need. You are my best friend.  You are close to the brokenhearted.   

Sunday, February 09, 2014


I got in 5.5 miles today.  Definitely stepping up on the walking.  Enjoyed my son David's company.  I usually go it alone. 

David is Here!

In the old days of this blog my main topic was my sons.  In the last few years they have not been around as much.  David came up last night.  We had a great time hanging out at my friend Ben's place.  I think the three of us covered almost every subject possible while enjoying Ben's fancy new 60" HD smart TV.  Then David and I watched home videos from the 1980's of my life in college, his mom's family, and my parent's family.  We stayed up most of the night.  We discussed everything under the sun.  Today I sent him on a pre-snow Dollar General run.  No bread and milk but plenty of Gatorade, canned stew, and mandarin oranges.  Now to go take his antique clock to Mr. Smart, the best fixer of clocks in the world....

Loving, Losing, and Missing

We live in a fallen world.  None of us are perfect.  We know this.  Yet our hearts cry out for love.  The ultimate love is found in Jesus.  As true as that is, we long for love with skin on.  The acceptance and touch of another human.  Try as we might to deny it, we have to admit it's true.

Unlike accepting a relationship with God, this kind of love is a risky proposition.  We desire to bring two imperfect souls together and find bliss.  That equation doesn't add up.  It may for a while, but eventually someone will be hurt. 

The question is do we shelter ourselves from hurt and stay alone or pursue our desire to love and be loved with courage?  I have caused hurt and I have received hurt. 

I am hurt right now.  I love someone.  I lost someone.  I miss someone. 

With God's help, I will never give up on hoping that the dream of holding that special person comes true. 

Two and One-Half Months

This has been a very tough week for me. Last year, after lots of frustration in dating, I decided to put it aside for a while. It seemed like the few people I met that I might be interested in were not interested in me. The people who were interested in me did not meet the characteristics I am looking for. Besides that frustration, I had reached a point where I just thought I needed to focus on a few areas of my life that needed some attention anyway. So I ended my dating site membership and I stopped “looking”. After several months of being in this “non-dating” mode I felt like I was ready again, but I was not particularly motivated to try.

Then something happened. A lady I met early in the year had remained my friend. We seemed to really hit it off quite well on the two dates we had early in the year. At the time, however, we had both already met other people and had been on a few more dates with them. I became uncomfortable with the idea of dating more than one at a time and I felt like I needed to be open about it. I texted her and, lo and behold, she told me she had the same issue. I really appreciated her honesty. After a day or so, she let me know that she couldn’t see me anymore. She thought she should give the other guy a chance. It was disappointing, but it made sense. As it turned out I stopped dating the person I had been seeing. She dated her guy most of the year. I don’t precisely remember how it started, but I think around early November I sent this lady a friendly message on Facebook, just to see how she was doing. Gradually I learned that she had broken up with the guy recently. We started messaging and then texting frequently. I think we reached the point that we were both interested in meeting again.

But there were a few things that stood in the way. First, she was scheduled for major surgery December 11. Prior to that the holidays and our schedules kept us busy. I also thought the more we could get to know each other first, the better. However, we kept each other wonderful company by texting throughout November and December. I sent her flowers when she got home from her stay in the hospital. I really enjoyed “talking” with her and getting to know her. I also felt happy I could keep her company while she was cooped up. The more we talked and got to know each other, the more we liked each other. We became more and more eager to meet.

Finally, the big day came. On Friday January 3, 2014, I drove to her home to pick her up on our “first” date. I got out of my car and walked to her door. She invited me to step inside. Her precious doggies were excited and hyped up at the sight of a new person. She got them situated and stepped outside. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL. I opened the car door and we rode to the civic center. I wondered if we would be nervous. I may have had a few butterflies, but I felt extremely comfortable with her. This was her first hockey game. Besides talking about the game, the thing I remember most was talking about our families. I even told her about an unflattering thing that occurred in my life the previous year. I felt compelled to be open about it, and if she rejected me for it, at least I could know that it was based on the truth. It was a very, very nice time. I took her home. We hugged and kissed in the car. Driving home I hoped that she enjoyed herself as much as me. I wondered if she would still be excited to talk more and see each other again. We texted more that evening and it was very evident that we really liked each other.

Our relationship really developed beautifully throughout the month of January. We talked about so many things that are critical to a relationship. Our ideas were practically identical. We talked about the concept of both partners giving 100 percent. We talked about giving each other the space needed and encouragement needed to pursue our dreams, gifts, and talents. She respected my love for weather as much as I did her love of performing music. We both have some very close friends. We both are totally open and honest. There have been no games. There was never a concern that we were communicating too much or too little. It was all very natural. Our feelings developed simultaneously. We came to like each other very much. We shared so many wonderful conversations. She said that I always seemed to say the right thing that she needed to hear at the right time. We laughed together and supported each other. She encouraged, supported, and lifted my spirits when I went through a few days of being very sick.

We only disappointed each other once each. Both times involved each of us falling asleep earlier than usual and causing the other concern. We resolved not to let that happen again. Even though we disappointed each other, I think it just made us both feel all the more loved and cared about. I secretly found myself thinking, “I love this girl,” and then correcting myself and saying I needed to take it slow. We both seemed on a mission to get to know each other more. We had a “common goal” and that was to actually see each other more, in person. We did go to a banjo concerto at the symphony orchestra. It felt so good to hold her hand and have my arm around her. I loved when she would look into my eyes with her beautiful smile. I was so happy to be with such a sweet and beautiful woman. We saw a movie together. Again, I felt like I was in outer space with fireworks when she would touch my hand or place her hand on my leg. Our conversations were always great. After the movie she introduced me to fancy beer at a local brewery I had never been to before. Whenever I took her home we hugged and kissed before she went inside. More and more, I wanted to hold her longer. But we were both willing to be patient. I really liked that a lot! We had a day trip to a state park in Tennessee. What a wonderful day that was. I really enjoyed admiring the scenery with her. We took pictures together. I don’t think you could have found a happier or cuter couple in the world that day. Whenever no one was around, we would like to get a quick kiss or hug. We are both very affectionate, but we are also rather private about it. I like that.

Last weekend we had some communication mix ups but we were so eager to see each other. It had been 12 long days as she had been out of town. We spent several hours Saturday afternoon hiking on the mountain. We found a nice secluded place to sit down and talk awhile. It was, as always, very comfortable and peaceful, like it was meant to be. Before we left, we kissed. That was the most passion I had ever felt in the times we had been together. I already knew we were attracted, but this time really amazed me. As we often told each other, we were a lucky girl and guy.

Then we had a late night midnight movie planned. Without going into detail publicly, I made a mistake. It did not involve anything that “directly” hurt her, such as flirting or anything like that. I take responsibility for my mistake. Even though I am responsible, she didn’t exactly discourage it. The next day she emailed me. She was ending the relationship. She said it wasn’t just last night’s mistake. She thought it was a pattern and a problem in my life. She pointed to an example of something that was not true. She made some false assumptions. She said that even though I was everything she ever wanted in a man, she thought I needed help and she could not continue the relationship. I immediately called. We cried. I apologized. I also tried to show her that her assumptions were not true. I was so hurt. So sad. The best she could offer was for me to give her a few days to think about it.

After three days, I sent her a long response to her email. I poured out my heart. I tried to illustrate for her that this is not a problem in my life. That the mistake I made Saturday was an anomaly. I told her many things about my life that she probably doesn’t even know. I also told her that it would be a shame to lose what we both saw as a very unusually great potential relationship over assumptions and misinformation. I asked her to trust, to not be afraid, and to watch over time if she had doubts. I don’t know what will happen. I have prayed harder this week than I have in a very long time. I have felt the peace that comes from God and the results of people praying for me. It has been a very hard week for me. I have cried a lot. I know through Facebook that it has been a hard week for her. I know how sad she was Sunday. She got her only speeding ticket in decades this week. And then she became very physically sick. I miss talking to her. I always believed in communication was the key before making major decisions. That is why I at least sent my response after three days went by. I felt like she needed to know the truth before she made a decision. I am at peace knowing I have told her the truth.

All I can do is pray that she trusts what I have told her, that she overcomes any fears she may have, and that she gives this wonderful relationship the chance it deserves. If she does not, I will know two things. One is, I take responsibility for my mistake and I will learn from it. Second, if she can’t trust in who I really am and uses what she has seen to end the relationship, then she may not have been as ready for a relationship as she thought. People make mistakes and do stupid things. I need a woman of grace. She does not have to be perfect but she can’t expect me to be perfect either. One time this special lady told me I have “a perfect heart”. I meant to correct her. She was more accurate when she said I have a good heart and a big heart. I may not be perfect, but I don’t have the problem she claimed. I pray that she sees that and that this relationship can remain. I have prayed that more times than I can count. But, more than that, I pray for God’s will in our lives. I pray that all her dreams come true. I pray that she can be the happiest woman in the world. I pray that she receives every blessing she ever wanted out of life. And, until I am told not to, I will love her. Even if loving means leaving her alone, I will love her. I always will.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Random BCS Championship Notes and Quotes

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has more BCS Championship rings (3) than games lost (2). His record as a starter is 25-2.

In the last four seasons, Alabama is 8-0 versus opponents at neutral sites with all eight wins coming against top 10 opponents.

At the half, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said (in response to a question regarding second half fixes), “Maybe Alabama doesn’t come back in the second half. It’s all Alabama.”

David Pollack of ESPN on Eddie Lacy, “He should be playing for the Steelers. Goodness gracious.”

Alabama finished atop the AP poll for the ninth time. No team has won more AP championships. Notre Dame is second with eight.

NBA star Kobe Bryant, on the argument between Barrett Jones and AJ McCarron, “We just saw why Bama will be BCS champs. @AJMcCarron and @barrettAjones not afraid to confront each other in order to win. #respect”

Alabama became the third team in the poll era (since 1936) to win three championships in four years (2009, 2011, 2012), joining Notre Dame (1946, 1947, and 1949) and Nebraska (1994, 1995, and 1997).

Alabama center Barrett Jones played with torn ligaments in his left foot, normally a season-ending injury. He said, “It was painful, but you couldn’t have pulled me off this field with a tractor.” He also sustained ligament damage in his finger during the game. He estimated that he played at 75%. He will have surgery.

At one point, Alabama had a streak of 69 unanswered points in BCS games. That streak encompassed 108 minutes and 7 seconds against Texas, LSU, and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame gave up 38 points (combined) to six teams: Wake Forest (0), #8 Oklahoma (13), #17 Stanford (13), Miami (3), #18 Michigan (6), and #10 Michigan State(3). Alabama outscored those six teams 42-38 in one game.

Alabama held Notre Dame to 38 yards rushing (1.7 yards per carry and 170 less than their average). The only team to rush for less this year against the Tide was Missouri, which had 3 yards rushing.

Notre Dame had given up only 9 first quarter points in their first 12 games. Alabama scored 14 in the first quarter and seven more in the first four seconds of the second quarter.

Only Bear Bryant has more national championships (6) than Nick Saban (4) during the poll era (since 1936).

Cecil Hurt: “Trying to decide on most memorable hit of bowl season: Clowney on Michigan RB or Musburger on AJ’s girlfriend.”

Alabama led the nation in yards from scrimmage by freshmen this season with 2,573.

Notre Dame leads the series with Alabama 5-2. Alabama has outscored the Irish 128-126 in those seven games.

Alabama is the first team in history (the poll era going back to 1936) to lead in scoring, total, and rushing defense in two consecutive years.

AJ McCarron threw 4 TD passes giving him 30 for the season which set a new school record. He also set the Alabama career record with 49. He was the first Alabama QB to throw a TD pass in a championship game since Jeff Rutledge threw one against Penn State in the Sugar Bowl following the 1978 season. Steadman Shealy (79), Jay Barker (92), Greg McElroy (09), and AJ McCarron last year all failed to throw a TD pass.

Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore has now been a part of 10 national championships as a player, coach, and administrator.

Alabama had a balanced offense in the game: 265 yards rushing and 264 passing.

Alabama averaged 7.1 yards per carry when Notre Dame had eight or more defenders in the box. Notre Dame averaged -2 yards rushing when Alabama had seven or more defenders in the box.

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News tweeted during the game (referencing the argument between Jones and McCarron), “Barrett Jones just delivered the hardest hit that McCarron has taken all night.”

Alabama had scoring drives of 82, 80, 97, and 86 yards. Prior to the game, the longest drive against Notre Dame this season was 75 yards.

Alabama scored a touchdown on all five of its red zone opportunities. Prior to the game, Notre dame opponents only scored eight touchdowns in 33 red zone opportunities.

Freshman Amari Cooper set a school record with 11 TD receptions in a season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Everything Give Thanks

Throughout the month of November I will be updating this post with daily thoughts on things for which I am thankful. Often I don't feel that I am as thankful as I should be. Some of my friends are doing this on Facebook and I thought it would be a very good topic to blog about. These items aren't necessarily in any particular order.

Day One: Relationship with God
I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy that came to me through the death, burial, and resurrection of His son, Jesus. This has provided me with a very real relationship with Christ that has totally revolutionized my life. He has carried me through trials, too numerous to mention, and has always been by my side, closer than a brother. No matter what happens to me during the day, I can always count on God to give me peace and comfort.

Day Two: Mom and Dad
I am thankful for my mom and dad. I really miss them but I am very thankful that I had them so long. They were awesome parents who did so much for me. It would literally take a book to write down all of the big and little things they did for me. They worked hard, provided well, spent quality time with me, promoted and participated in my activities, promoted spiritual development, and educated me, to name just a few things. When times were hard they were always there for me. Thank you, God, for them. Help me follow in their examples.

My dear Mom and Dad in 2008.

Day Three: Sons
I am so very thankful, Lord, that you blessed me three precious boys, David, Joe, and Matt. Words cannot express the love I have for these boys. I never dreamed I would be a single dad and limited in the time I have been given to raise them. But I made the decision many, many years ago that they would have my 100 percent commitment. Before David, my 19 year old was born, I told my wife that I would be the world’s worst at suffering from the empty nest syndrome. I didn’t think that would really happen until they each turned 18 or 19 and moved out on their own. Instead I found that it happened gradually, beginning when I was separated 12 years ago. Then it later gradually occurred more as they started moving through their teen years. But to this day, despite any problems or struggles, there is no one in my life that I truly love more than David Michael, Joseph Patrick, and Matthew Ryan. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege, honor, and blessing of letting me try to raise them, because ultimately they are Yours.

One of thousands of photos of my boys through the years.

Day Four: Country
I am thankful for my country, the United States of America. I had the privilege of being born a citizen of the United States of America. In many quarters these days it is fashionable to find fault with the United States. There are, indeed, many things in our past and present as a nation that are negative. But I believe the United States is the greatest nation in the history of the world. Our nation was founded by people who understood that the new nation must have God and His principles as a foundation in order for it to survive. The U.S. has been a source of freedom, prosperity, liberation, and inspiration for countless millions all over the world in its relatively short history. This nation has provided me the opportunity to grow up and be surrounded by mentors, teachers, friends, and a supportive community. I have been given the opportunity to get an education, pursue my dreams, and enjoy the freedom to worship and serve God.

Day Five: Music
Today I am thankful for music. Music is one of the greatest gifts we have been given. Through it we worship God, evoke emotions, describe relationships, and our feelings. When I am down or discouraged, I can immerse myself in music and be lifted up and encouraged. Music is transformational in that way. Just a few notes of a song can take me back to childhood memories I have from 42 years ago. Music, like a time machine, evokes the sights and sounds of special moments in my past. Music is my favorite form of entertainment. I have purchased more DVDs that were music-oriented than movies. Music enhances everything from Christmas to sitting on the beach, grocery shopping, driving, working in an office, funerals, football games, and almost everything. It’s magical. Just this morning, as I was getting ready for work I was listening to the song, “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” by Keith Green. The words of that song, combined with my preexisting thoughts, literally brought me to tears of joy. It caused me to reflect in a way that would never happen without music.

Huntsville News, 1979.  Lee High Band prepares for Cincinnati Bengals game.

Day Six: Friends
Today I want to express my thankfulness for my friends. I have been blessed with some amazing friends, on many levels. I have core group of close friends that know me very well, love me, and would do anything they could do to help me. I probably also have more friends than ever before with whom I share some common bond with or a common interest. When I was married and had young children I really didn’t have the opportunity to reach out to as many people as I have more recently. As a single guy, it is great to have so many friends. Just this year my friends have done many things for me…
  • Getting invited to eat dinner and visit their home
  • Driving an hour out of their way to help me when I was stranded due to automobile issues
  • Letting me borrow a vehicle for almost two weeks until I was able to get new transportation
  • On a day I was feeling down, talking and praying with me on the phone until a late hour
  • Inviting me to events such as church, ball games, and dinner
  • Walking with me for exercise and talking about our days
  • Inviting me to their home to watch the ball game
  • Calling or texting to check on me when I was sick and offering to go to the store
  • Making me a meal
  • Driving me around to look at fall foliage and storm chasing
  • Random friendly messages, texts, or calls
  • Kind and thoughtful responses
  • Allowing me to stay in their home
  • Offering me opportunities to work on projects that help me pursue my dreams
  • Giving me honest feedback and advice
The list could go on. And if I was more thankful (and had a better memory), I could really add to this list.

Two of my all time oldest and best friends, Johnny and Rob.

Day Seven: Sister
I have a wonderful sister.  She embodies so many of the qualities I mentioned about my friends.  She is a very kind and caring lady.  I can talk to her about just about anything.  She is one of those people that is easy for others to confide in because they know she will understand and show compassion rather than being judgemental.  True confession:  I picked on my sister almost mercilessly when we were kids.  One time I even cut her hair.  Of course it was her fault, because she let me do it.  Having said that she knew I always had her back, too.  She has been an awesome aunt to my sons.  We spent many days enjoying our trips to Chicago to visit her.  She always made us feel at home and made Chicago feel like a second home for the boys and I.  She loved our parents and nowadays we often talk about them.  If I am having a tough day missing mom and dad, I can always count on Cara to be there.  I love my little sister!

My sister and I, circa 1970.

Day Eight:  Health
Good health is something that I, unfortunately, have taken for granted most of my life.  But as I get older, I see more and more people near my age who are struggling with health issues.  I have been blessed with excellent health in most ways, most of my life.  For many years I barely gave it a second thought.  I have usually taken pretty good care of myself.  However, once I hit the 30's and especially the 40's I have noticed some typical age-related health issues cropping up.  One of the greatest and most important blessings in life is to have good health, and I am thankful that I do. 

Day Nine: Sports
I am thankful for sports.  I grew up loving to play and watch sports.  I played football, baseball, and basketball every year growing up, both on organized teams and pick-up games.  I helped organize a bunch of friends to get together almost daily after school to play whichever sport was in season.  In the 1970's I became a huge fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Atlanta Braves.  I fell in love with the Tide when they suffered a heart-breaking loss to Notre Dame in the 1973 Sugar Bowl.  That was one of the best Alabama teams in history and they went into the game number one in both polls.  Their comeback fell just short.  It was as if the game wasn't long enough.  I literally cried at the outcome.  Sports, besides being good for physical health, teaches life lessons that cannot be learned as well in any other endeavor. 

Home run ball, Summer 1975.

Day Ten: Needs Met
I am thankful that the Lord meets all of my needs, but not all of my wants.  It is easy (and I am guilty) of getting caught up in being concerned about what I don’t have rather than appreciating what I do have.  I can honestly say the Lord has always met my needs.  But He hasn’t always given me all of my wants.  I am thankful, because there have been situations in life when I later learned that what I wanted so badly at one time would have been a disaster.  Yet, I still struggle with this concept at times.  I can certainly relate to the lyrics in the late Rich Mullins’ song, “Hold Me Jesus”, when he sings, “I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want than to take what you give that I need.”  It doesn’t take much looking around to notice that even though others have certain things in their lives that we think we would like, it is also true that we can look around and see even more people who don’t have the things we take for granted.   

Day Eleven: Job
This has been a tough morning at work. I have been mischaracterized and misrepresented. Having said that, I am very thankful. I remember my first day on the job over 19 years ago. As I walked into the building I was so thankful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity to provide for my family and to serve people in need. I was determined that no matter what happened, I would always maintain a thankful attitude. God’s Word teaches us to give thanks in all circumstances, not just some. That is one of the most difficult commands. I have been working on that for many years and I am not sure how close I am to getting all the way there. It is something I think about a lot. I start many days with the prayer that no matter how good or bad I perceive today’s circumstances to be, help me have the awareness that You are in control, above it all, and that You will always be with me. Thank you, Lord, for enabling us to be thankful in all things.

Day Twelve: Grace
I am thankful for God's grace.  I think grace is a concept that even many Christians do not get.  In short, it is unmerited favor shown to sinful man through God giving his son to die on a cross.  One of the key words here is "unmerited".  We all have a tendency to think we deserve things, and perhaps in an earthly sense we do.  Someone who works hard deserves to be paid.  But in the big picture, our sin puts us in a position where we do not deserve anything good or positive.  Grace is a gift.  All good gifts come to us via God's grace.  Sometimes we think that we worked real hard, saved our money, and thus we deserve that vacation.  While in an earthly sense that is true, we must remember the ultimate source, which is God.  It is He who gave us talents, abilities, health, and our very breath of life.  If not for his grace, we would not even be here.  I am thankful to serve a God who loves me so much that he would rescue me from my predicament by sending His Son to take my place on the cross.  I am thankful for grace.  

Day Thirteen: The Bible
I am thankful for the Word of God.  When considering what we are thankful for, it is instructive to consider what we would miss the most if we didn't have it.  I can't imagine life without the Word of God, both as an individual, and universally.  Besides the obvious fact that we wouldn't probably know much of the information (other than oral tradition), imagine the negative effect that would have on the world.  It is really difficult to imagine, but it would definitely not be good.  Fortunately we know that the Word of God will last forever.  It's a good thing, because, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Day Fourteen: Food
I am thankful for food. Besides the obvious (without it we would surely die), I really enjoy it! There are not too many kinds of food that I don’t like. But, I am hard-pressed to choose a favorite. If backed into a corner, I would probably choose Italian food. But as soon as I said that I started thinking about steak, barbecue, seafood, and Mexican.

Day 15: Being Single
I am thankful for being single. Really. Let me preface this by acknowledging that there can definitely be advantages to being in a healthy relationship. I will also acknowledge the disadvantages of being single. The main disadvantage for me has been that I don’t have my children with me all of the time. We all have moments when we are sick or lonely and it would be nice to have someone there for us. And, in a relationship, there is the opportunity to love and serve someone in special ways. Having said all of that, I am very thankful for all of the advantages of being single. I don’t have to consult with anyone as to how I use my time and money. I can spend more time with friends. I can pursue my dreams as I see fit. There is no drama brought into my life. I don’t have to worry about being told what to do when I get home from work. The list goes on and on. I may be single the rest of my life or for only one more day, only God knows. But I have learned that happiness is not dependant on relationship status. I would much rather be happy and single than unhappy and married. If the right lady (God-given) wants to be in a relationship with me that will be great. If she doesn’t, life’s already great!

Day 16: Fellowship
I am thankful for fellowship. “Fellowship” is one of those terms we Christians throw around that is not always understood very well. Some of my friends and I used to joke that you could just substitute “food” for “fellowship” based on how it is often used in church. “Fellowship” comes from the Greek “koinonia” which refers to how Christians bond with one another in community. This plays itself out most frequently in the local church setting. I am thankful for all of the fellowships I have been involved in, but there is one that is particularly dear to my heart. When I was a student at the University of Alabama, I was involved in a campus ministry. The college environment allowed our group to be a real Christian community, more like the early church than any other church or community of Christians I have been involved with since. I thank God for giving me that experience. I am now referred to as one of the “founding fathers” of the fellowship because I was one of the two students who were there in the beginning. While we saw amazing growth in numbers through evangelism, worship experiences were amazing, and a lot of true discipleship was going on, I think I valued the fellowship aspect the most. One of the central aspects of that fellowship was the “guys’ house”. I lived in the guys’ house for a few years. We learned a lot about how to get along with others, we divided up cleaning, cooking and shopping duties, and we had times of confrontation. We prayed together. And we played together. The house was directly across the street from Bryant-Denny Stadium, at the 50 yard line on the west side. In fact, the upper deck was added to BDS while I was living in the house. The construction workers made sure that we woke up early, whether we wanted to or not. Time and space don’t allow me to tell all of the great stories from that house. Sadly, the house was razed a few years ago. I thank God for fellowship and for that special group of brothers.

Standing in front of the former Guys' House not long before it was razed.

Day Seventeen: Answered Prayer
Today I am thankful for answered prayer.  So often we pray and more often than we realize it, God answers prayer.  But then we go on our merry way without even remembering to thank Him for it.  I believe God usually answers prayers with either a “yes”, “no”, or “wait”.  Other times we just need His guidance and direction in decisions that we face.  Just today I had something weighing on my mind.  I decided to take my lunch break and walk.  While I walked, I prayed and asked God for guidance and I felt a strong peace about going in a certain direction.  Shortly thereafter a friend provided me some feedback that exactly matched what I felt led by the Lord to do.  I think it’s cool that God understands where we are.  He knows that my faith isn’t always strong enough so he sends other people my way and speaks through them.  I know I need to be more and more thankful to God for answering my prayers.  

Day Eighteen: Hard-Working Sons
Yes, I already expressed my thankfulness for my boys.  But I am thankful my boys have a strong work ethic. My parents and grandparents were all hard workers.  I remember when one of the dads in my neighborhood told me as a kid that he was jealous that his son did not work like me.  I hope and pray I transmitted the value of a work ethic to my sons.  Today I was so proud of my 13 year old son, Matt.  He volunteered to clean the gutters.  He made me nervous, hanging two stories over the driveway, but we survived.  Proud dad moment.

Matthew Ryan Wilhelm cleaning out gutters 11/17/12.

Day Nineteen: Life
Today I am thankful for waking up to another day of being alive! Most mornings when I pray one of the main things I express thankfulness for is the opportunity to live another day. My son Matthew and I were talking this weekend about the subject of thankfulness. I asked him to name some things for which he is thankful and he mentioned this one first. We are blessed with a limited number of days on this Earth. We never know if the day we are in will be our last. Even if we live many more years, life is indeed a vapor and life as we know it on this Earth will soon be over. We need to continually remind ourselves of this so that we spend our time wisely and not put off until tomorrow things that we should be doing today. Below is a poem often cited by former Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant about the value of time.

"This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important because I'm exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever leaving in its place something that I've traded for it. I want it to be gain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it".

"So then you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" Ephesians 5:15-16

Day Twenty: Weather and Dreams Coming True
I am thankful for having the opportunity to pursue my interest in weather.  My interest in weather began by age five, if not earlier.  Growing up in Huntsville, I was a big fan of WHNT’s legendary H.D. Bagley back in the 1970’s. The Superoutbreak of tornadoes on April 3, 1974 really spurred on my already developing interest in weather. My career goal was to work with the National Weather Service. By the time I attended college, I took another career path, but weather continued to be a big hobby of mine. As I look back, the Lord has allowed my dream of working in weather to come true, even though it was temporarily derailed.  I have been a trained storm spotter with the National Weather Service since the 1980’s and have been chasing storms since the 1980’s as well. I have maintained a weather page on the web since the mid 1990’s, which turned into a blog, www.bamawx.com in 2006. I am interested in all things weather: weather history, severe weather, winter weather, tropical weather, and even ordinary, everyday weather! I have maintained a YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/Bamawxcom where you can see my chase videos, historic weather coverage, and other weather stuff I have collected.  April 27, 2011 was the worst weather day in Alabama in a generation. As a Skywatcher for James Spann and Jason Simpson at ABC 33/40, my chase partner John Brown and I witnessed and captured the terrible Tuscaloosa tornado on video. That video was used on numerous television networks, even ESPN.  I am a member of the National Weather Association and was the volunteer coordinator for the 2011 NWA National Conference in Birmingham. I am also a contributor to the WeatherBrains Podcast, which features James Spann, Bill Murray, Brian Peters, Kevin Selle, and J.B. Elliott.  Most recently I have worked with meteorologists Jason Simpson, Ben Smith, Jennifer Watson, and Brandon Chambers as a storm chaser for WHNT Channel 19 in Huntsville and a blogger on www.valleywx.com where I post stories, photos, and videos from my time out in the field watching Tennessee Valley weather as well as weather history and other fun weather-related things.  It is really cool to me how the Lord has allowed my dream of working in weather to come true even though it didn’t look like that would happen at one time. 

One of many hand-drawn weather maps I made as a kid.

Day Twenty-One: Transportation
Today I am thankful for transportation.  Most of what I do and the people I enjoy being with require me to drive long distances.  For whatever reason it has almost always been that way.  I have logged literally millions of miles driving in my life so that I could be with the ones that I love, to take special trips with them, and to work to make it all possible.  I am thankful today to be able do that.  

Day Twenty-Two: Alabama Football Games
Today I am thankful for the opportunity to attend Alabama football games.  My dad took me to my first Alabama game in 1975.  Alabama played TCU in Legion Field in Birmingham and won 45-0.  I specifically remember walking through the portal and seeing the brilliant colors of the field and crimson and white like I had never seen before.  Alabama had a special presentation for Kent Waldrep, the TCU player that was paralyzed in the previous year’s game.  My next game my dad took me to was the Alabama versus Georgia Tech game in Legion Field in 1980. I remember that it was a scorching hot day to open the 1980 season for the returning national champions.  We were listening to the radio and during the SEC preview show they were talking about a freshman phenom at Georgia named Hershel Walker.  Since that time I have been to several memorable games including the 1982 Liberty Bowl (Bear Bryant’s last game), the 1985 Iron Bowl, the 1986 Notre Dame game, the BCS Championship in 2011 and many, many others.  These have been entertaining but have also provided me wonderful memories with family and friends.  I am thankful to have had these experiences.
My son David and I at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Iron Bowl, 11/24/12

Day Twenty-Three: Outdoors
Today I am thankful for the outdoors. God’s creation is beyond awesome and amazing and I am thankful for the opportunity to get outside and marvel at it. As thankful as I am for my job, one of the unfortunate aspects of it is that I am stuck inside so many hours every week. I enjoy hiking, lakes, rivers, beaches, woods, mountains, stars, clouds, foliage, sunshine, trees, flowers, rain, snow, lightning, fog and even gray “dreary” days.

Thunderstorm over Huntsville, AL at sunset, 5/28/12

Day Twenty-Four: Photography
I am thankful for photography. Photography has always been a hobby of mine but my ability to enjoy it has expanded so much with the development of digital cameras. I always liked taking pictures in the pre-digital camera era, but the cost of film and developing the film was too much to take as many photographs as I would like. I couldn’t begin to estimate how many tens of thousands of photographs of my kids I have taken through the years. I enjoy nature and weather photography as well. In the past few years I have really enjoyed learning how to take lightning photos. I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy photography.

Lightning photo I took over NE Huntsville in 2011

Day Twenty-Five: Walking
I am thankful for the ability to walk. I really enjoy walking and if I didn’t have the ability to walk it would be very inconvenient and frustrating. As I get older, walking has become my main source of exercise. I enjoy getting out and walking or hiking in the woods. During much of my career I have taken breaks at work to walk. I figured that while other people were sitting down eating junk food or smoking I would actually get out and do something that would benefit me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have lost weight, or at least maintained a relatively healthy weight mainly by walking. If I am stressed walking helps me clear my mind and lifts my spirits. Many times while I walk I have great times of prayer. Sometimes I listen to music. The only drawback to walking as a form of exercise is the amount of time it takes to walk enough to make a big difference. Nevertheless, even consistent short walks are better than nothing. I am very thankful that I am healthy enough and physically able to walk.

One of my walks in the neighborhood, mapped by my pedometer app

Day Twenty-Six: Memories
Today I am thankful for memories. Memories give us a frame of reference from which we are able to live in the present and dream for the future. I have good memories and bad memories. Thankfully, I have forgotten most of the bad things that have happened in my life. But I am also thankful that I have so many good memories. It is amazing how the human mind works. There are certain things I remember from 42 years ago better than things that happened yesterday. Memories seem to be triggered so randomly sometimes. It may be a sight, a smell, a sound, or a song. Whatever it is, I am thankful for so many great memories of people, places, and things that were important in my life.  The video below contains some of those special memories for me. 

More to come...........MW

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

Memorial Day in the United States is the day we set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces.  Most of us have someone in our family history who have died in service to the country.  In my family, my mother's brother, Harold P. Hetelle, age 20, was killed in action in World War II on April 16, 1943 in the Southwest Pacific when the plane he was piloting was shot down.

Initially he was reported as missing as seen in the the article below.

I cannot imagine the emotions that were felt by my grandparents upon hearing this news.  Harold was a pilot and I am certain they feared the worst.  I found a clue to what they were thinking in my mother's (Harold's youngest sibling) scrapbook.  His sister, Annis, wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper.  It read:

"I have been a reader of your column for a very long time and I really think it is wonderful.  This is rather a plea for my three brothers who are in service.  One of my brothers (Perry, 26) is somewhere in Australia, now, and my folks received word from him stating that he hadn't received a letter from anyone for about four or five months.  We have been writing, but not enough of us good Americans write half enough to our boys in the service who are fighting so hard for freedom and peace.  Another brother (Harold, 20) last Saturday was reported missing in action; he was stationed somewhere in New Guinea.  We haven't given up hope that he isn't safe, so we are continuing to write to him also.  Another brother (Kenneth, 22) is stationed somewhere in Alaska.  I also have another brother who is just 18 this month and is expecting to be called soon.  Perhaps you know just what my parents, like all parents who have boys in the service are going through, but I know it would certainly mean a lot to them if people who are really good Americans would write a line to them once in a while.  It's not just for them I am pleading, but for every boy in service.  Letters are all they have to look forward to so please just drop a line just once in a while to all our boys who are fighting for us.  My parents are Mr. and Mrs. Ole Hetelle, who live south of Marseilles.  There five of us girls besides the four boys in the family."
Sadly, within weeks, my grandparents received word that their son Harold was killed in action April 16, 1943, when, according to the newspaper, "his plane was caught in a barrage of enemy machine gun fire while in valiant pursuit of the Nipponese in an important battle."  Here is the newspaper article:

It was a very tough time for the family.  Harold's paternal grandfather (my great-grandfather), John Hetelle, died withing a few weeks of his grandson being killed in action.  John was born in Aardal, Norway October 4, 1869.  I cannot imagine what my grandfather Ole must have been going through, losing a son and a Dad in the same month, but it was very cool to see another newspaper clipping saying that he was reading magazine articles to school children at that same time.

Harold received over 20 awards posthumously.