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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Only You Can Save A Homeless Fruitcake

Each Christmas millions of fruitcakes are packed in boxes, wrapped and mailed to our unsuspecting loved ones. Tragically, millions of these innocent fruitcakes are abandoned, re-gifted and eventually left to molder on sideboards in the hall and cupboards in the pantry.

You can stop this tragedy, save innocent fruitcakes and help support your local post office, FedEx or UPS carrier during the Christmas season. Don’t re-gift unwanted fruitcakes. Your friends probably don’t like them either. Don’t make them angry. And don’t overload your trash can with uneaten fruitcakes. Your trash man could get a hernia lifting them up and you could wind up with a nasty lawsuit on your hands.

Instead, play it safe. Simply rewrap your unwanted fruitcakes in the box they came in and mail them to:

Uncle Tom’s Home for Unwanted Fruitcakes
13122 152nd ST E. 
Puyallup, WA 98374 

Uncle Tom will give your unwanted fruitcake a loving home for the holidays. Your fruitcake will be with people who love fruitcakes for who they are and who will give them an honored place on the holiday table for Christmas.

Knowing your fruitcake has found a happy place for the holiday, you can go on with your Christmas celebrations completely guilt-free. 

And your welcome…….

Uncle Tom 

*Uncle Tom’s Home for Unwanted Fruitcakes is, in fact, a nonprofit organization, although the IRS probably isn’t going to see it quite that way. If you want a receipt, we’ll send you a colorful decorative certificate in honor of your generous contribution to saving innocent fruitcakes from homelessness at the Christmas season. (Really, we will – I have one made up). You can try to claim a deduction for your fruitcake contribution on your taxes, but that’s between you and the IRS and we can’t be responsible for attorney’s fees or any jail time you might get from the deal. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Old Bones the Wonder Horse Ages Disgracefully

(c) 2011 by Tom King

I always thought I'd hang on to my youthful attitude till I died - probably jumping off something far too tall with a bedsheet tied to my belt loops to act as a parachute.

I swore I'd never be one of those old geezers who talks baby talk to a spoiled rotten dog, talks incessantly about what part of his crumbling body hurts worse today, the details of his latest surgery and has a "favorite chair".

So here I sit, propped up in an old Lazy Boy with it's seat shaped exactly like my butt at the increasingly ripe old age of 57. Daisy Pooh my spoiled rotten dog lies sprawled at my feet in a tryptophan coma, the results of a two day turkey mooch-a-thon.  My wife is burning a cinnamon candle on the bookshelf by my chair. She says I smell like BenGay and cabbage - not exactly what I was looking for, but if you use BenGay, there ain't much way to avoid smelling like BenGay.  And splashing on half a bottle of Old Spice only makes it worse.

I've tried it.

And why is it that the older you get the more your pants migrate away from where they are supposed to hang? Either they ride up higher and higher till you have to reach under your armpit to get your car keys or you have to hang a chain around your neck with one end attached to your wallet because your arms aren't long enough to reach your hip pocket anymore.

And hair begins to grow in places you don't want it and to fall out of places you do.  You suddenly have a favorite plate, a favorite coffee cup and a favorite spoon.  You suddenly discover you've been wearing loud Hawaiian shirts and really ugly shorts that you do NOT have the knees floor.
You know the end has arrived the day you look down and discover you're wearing black socks and sandals with your shorts and you don't even care because you're going to Wal-Mart and everybody wears their ugly clothes to Wal-Mart.

You have box in the garage with pinups of women who are dead now and you've seriously considered hanging some up in the garage and you don't care what your wife says about it.
And your wife wouldn't say anything about it anyway, except to mutter something like , "There's no fool like an old fool."

I went to the church pot luck last week and sat by myself at a table.  Three kids and a manic-depressive schizophrenic came to sit by me. The kids thought I was somebody's grandpa and thought maybe I'd give them some money. The schizophrenic elderly lady that came with them was about 85. Before we started up a conversation, she felt the need to assure me that she knew I was married and promised not to hit on me.

Now I'm manic-depressive........mostly depressive!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

75% Chance of Weather...Seattle Braces for "Storm"

(c) 2011 by Tom King
Massive puddles left after last night's terrifying "storm".
PUYALLUP, WA:  11:30 PM - The big news story tonight - big Pacific storm bears down on Washington. Three-fourths of tonight's newscast from Seattle concerned the approaching cataclysm. In breathless tones, the weatherman warned of gusts of 30 and perhaps 40 miles per hour. Up to two hour long power outages could be expected. There might be thunder and two inches of rain. Oooooooh! We'll be dragging the neo-pagans down off the volcano and rescuing virgins in the morning if there's actual lightning and thunder..... They call this weather up here. It is to laugh!! I'll check in tomorrow and let you know how we survived the night.
PUYALLUP, WA:  11:30 PM - Wow what a night. Winds of 20 to 30 mph. And it rained ALL NIGHT LONG. My goodness there were actual puddles this morning and moisture on our bedroom windowsill by the open window. The powerful winds ripped leaves right off the trees - especially the red, yellow and brown ones. Volunteers struggled to keep the storm drains clear. Public officials passed out free orange safety vests (I kid you not) for folks who volunteered to man their neighborhood storm drains and keep the leaves off the grates with a rake. Occupy Wall Street Seattle protesters were forced to order extra lattes to keep warm this morning. 
On TV they interviewed a guy last night during the nonstop coverage of the approaching "storm" - some college professor - who said he wasn't scared. He said he liked "weather" and thought it was good for our character to experience the odd storm or two.

Perhaps he's right. If so, that may explain Seattle.......

Meanwhile, Daisy, the dog, and I are taking our umbrella and going for a walk in the driving drizzle this morning. It's risky, I know, but Daisy needs to poop and, being from Texas, we have to get our wild weather fix where we can get it!
Tom King

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dogs - Nature's Humorists

Aha! An abandoned cookie!
I love dogs. If I were an animal, that's what I'd be. They're the only critters I know with a sense of humor. Horses are nervous. Cats are way too into themselves. Even when they play they play to kill. Goldfish are too cold. Birds too naggy (Polly always wants a cracker and they poop on everything - kinda like having your mother-in-law in a cage).  Only dogs have that cock-eyed enthusiastic optimism that a humorist must have in order to laugh at the tragedy that is life in this world.  Dogs make life just a wee bit easier to bear.

Hey, he wasn't usin' it....

Dogs are our protectors and the play toys and companions of our youth. Later they guard our children. You're never let into the secret society of cats.  They have these cat covens where they meet to decide what to do with their humans. I've seen them. One day around sundown I chanced to look out my window and there sat a group of cats in a circle staring seriously at one another. It was kind of eerie.  I whispered to Daisy, "Hey, Daisy.  Look! Cats!" We sneaked around and I opened the front door to let her out.  I got back to the window in time to see them scatter. Daisy was so happy, she didn't know which one to chase.
Bubble mania

 A cat has no idea what to do with soap bubbles except swipe at them irritably as they float by. Dogs go after them with enthusiasm. Dogs go fetch stuff you throw at them and sometimes they even bring them back after giving them a good shake.

They're natural born hams. Anytime you give them a little attention, they get all happy and pretty soon they are mugging for the camera, doing flips and running frantically in circle.

For a dog life is exciting.
Ooh, ooh, take my picture too!
When we lived in Tyler with my son Matt and his wife Nancy, Daisy, our lab/border collie/God-only-knows-what-else mix owned their cat for a time.  The cat never liked using a litter box and went outside like the dog. If the cat wanted out, she'd go stand by the back door and Daisy would come bounding into the bedroom to get me.

She'd grab my hand in her teeth and "woof" at me. She was saying, "My kitty needs to go pee-pee NOW!"

So I would get up and go to the door, open it and the dog would stand aside and sure enough the cat would stroll out the door like the flippin' Queen of Sheba. Meanwhile, Daisy is as happy as a clam and doesn't even need to go out herself. She goes back and curls up by my chair, content that her work was done. 
She'd also come get me when the cat wanted to come back in. She took very good care of her kitty and doesn't understand why, now that we live with four cats here in Puyallup, we won't give her one for her very own. They all hide in my sister-in-law's bedroom and won't come out. I see them sometimes sitting in her second story window, watching Daisy and I head out for our morning walk. I know they're up there plotting to take over the world or something. Looking down on us from the window sill all spooky and quiet. Daisy keeps sticking her nose in the room if someone leaves it open, hoping to catch one and adopt it by force, but no one will let her. She's kind of depressed about it. I mean she's the only one who isn't allowed to have a pet!

If you want to see a bunch more funny dog pictures click on this link where I got some of these pics. The Funny Dog Site has a bunch of these you'll enjoy if you're a dog lover and who isn't. Even smart kitties know the importance of having a dog for a buddy. These guys in the basket (above) won't have to worry those nasty tempered Siamese tomcats that run around the neighbors terrorizing innocent kitties. They've got PROTECTION!

Gotta love them hound dogs!

Easily entertained.

Always relaxed.

Always giving it their best.

If you haven't got a dog, pray for one. God'll send you a good un'.

One of my favorite songs is called God and Dog. It's by Wendy Francisco. Don't click on the link unless you have a hanky with you.

Have a lovely weekend and a happy Sabbath rest.

Tom King
Daisy watching out for subversive cat meetings.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Teaching Men to Fetch

There's no good reason to make a mountain out of someone else's molehill.
- (c) 2011 by Tom King (shade tree philosopher and committed subterranean animal rights activist) 

Women are always complaining that men never do things for them.  They never help out in the kitchen, cook a meal, vacuum the house, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Well, the problem is ladies, if your hubbie doesn't help with the domestic chores, it's likely your own fault.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not here to cast blame, but to enlighten and to promote domestic bliss such as I often enjoy. Here's the secret to getting your man to do household chores. No man will mind that I share these secrets. Sharing this information will only improve their lot in the long run by empowering their wives and teaching them the right exercise of the Golden Rule in male/female inter-species relationships.

Ten Rules for Getting Hubby to Help Out Around the House: 

  • Men are a separate species from women, albeit a closely related, almost symbiotic one if properly trained. This must be recognized from the outset if you ever hope to communicate your needs to them. They are NOT women. You have to tell them what you want. They aren't any good at guessing what you need. They don't understand women and are not motivated by the incentives that motivate women. A woman will slave all day for that single moment when all is complete and clean and the candle is burning on the mantle and all is momentarily orderly. It is at this point that a woman sighs, kicks back and is ready for a quiet chat to close the day. That is her reward. It is at this point that the man picks up the TV remote and flips on the World Series. That is his reward. Men respond to different types of rewards.You may not like it ladies, but there it is. 
  • Men are goal-directed. We do not nest. We build bird-houses. Choose tasks that involve tools and a completion point. We get little satisfaction from doing laundry because it needs to be done all over again the next day - UNLESS doing the laundry involves operating heavy machinery that "only he knows how to operate". Don't give him dusting to do. Use him for hanging pictures, painting walls, baking bread or applying a new coat of varnish to your kitchen table.
  • Appeal to his love of tools and mechanical implements. Tell him that "only he knows how to use the vacuum cleaner". Get yourself a carpet shampooer and tell him you don't understand all the attachments and things. He'll move back the furniture, scrub the carpet, shampoo the upholstery and caution you not to walk on it until it's dry.   
  • Get him man tools to work with. Want help in the kitchen? Buy massive Kitchen-aid mixers and high quality cooking implements and put him in charge of baking. Buy a grill and send him out with charcoal and steaks.  Buy him a whetstone and steel and tell him you need your knives sharpened and you'll have to wear gloves to reach into your knife drawer safely. Get him a set of Ginsu knives and a thick butcher block and put him in charge of chopping up salads. Men like to do jobs that are their special jobs and that demonstrate their prowess with knives and blenders and stuff.  
  • When he runs into a snag, don't tell him to make-do, even though you've been making do for years. Tell him, "Maybe there's some sort of tool or machine that would do a better job of it." Let him figure out how to do it "properly" and praise him for his cleverness. So what if he runs off to Home Depot for an hour looking for a tool or fastener or something. It will make him happy and you get the job done. Men are easy. Even when we know you're manipulating us with praise, we wag our tails and pant. 
  • Do not belittle his efforts while he's helping you or point out that you could do it better. He's going to think, "Well, if you can do it so much better than me......" and you've lost him.  
  • Follow up earlier praise by bragging on his efforts to others - preferably within his earshot. It reinforces the original behavior. Say, "Bob hung that picture for me. I just couldn't figure out how to get it up there like that. Now, it's just like I wanted it."  Toss him a smile while you are at it and he's putty in your hands.  
  • NEVER mention that you had been trying to get him to hang the picture for weeks. If you want support yourself, you must give support to him. (Don't worry, this isn't one-sided. I've got rules for men, too.)  
  • Make your praise genuine. Praise by telling what his help meant to you, how it helped you or how nice a job he did. Don't give empty praise like "You're such a good husband." He knows he has flaws and that just rubs it in. A simple, "Thanks for fixing that chip in the table. That looks so much better." works a hundred times better than "Well, you finally got that done, I see," followed by the eyebrow of total disdain. 
  • Don't nag. If all else fails try and do it yourself. Let him notice you're doing it by yourself and make sure he sees you're struggling. If he says, I'll do that, don't say, "Well I couldn't get you to do it, so I decided to do it myself." It's far more effective to say, "I thought you were busy and I didn't want to bother you." My wife does that all the time and I know why she's doing that and I jump right up any way. It's her very sweet way of saying she needs me to do, whatever it was, now. Somehow I don't mind that. The nagging just makes me want to go hide. One other thing you can do in lieu of nagging is ask your hubbie if he "needs something" to hang that picture or whatever it is. Offer to go to the store and get it. He'll likely tell you, "No, I'll do it." If you can, gratefully step aside and let the big oaf do it and still manage to avoid any accusatory comments, you'll get much better service. 
It always seems odd to me that a competent woman who can train a dog, a horse or a child so often does such a dismal job of training her man. We're, after all, such simple creatures.  We're really pretty easy to break to harness.

Tom King, Late of East Texas

Friday, October 28, 2011

Miracle - Micah's last song

My young-un's, Matt and Meghan and friends Scott, Dunn and Lexa doing a song that Micah wrote the lyrics for shortly before he died. The sound isn't the best, but these are the words.....

Lyrics by Micah King / Music by Matt King

The Son of David born, To the earth and for the people
One worthy of our faith and love, A prophet deemed by grace
To teach the word of God, Condemned by mortal man
Obeyed by all who dedicate, To His eternal plan

I’ve heard how You fed thousands, With only 2 fish & 5 loaves of bread
I heard You parted waters, For the people that Moses led
I’ve heard You walked on water, And made a blind man see
Now I pray to Heaven’s Keeper, Lay a blessing down on me

A promise of salvation, To all who seek Your truth
A gift sent straight from Heaven, I am Your living proof
The promise through Your hands, My map was carved in stone
The tools I need to reach thee, To one day reach my home

I know of all Your miracles, Feel Your Spirit enter me
Come from the dark into the light, I follow faithfully
You put Your spirit in my soul, Was blind but now I see
Worked wonders for my heart and soul, Your miracle is me

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aunt JeDaisy

(c) 2011 by Tom King

My wife had been tying a neckerchief around my dog Daisy's neck lately.  My nephew, Justin, decided to modify her kerchief a bit.

I was at my desk when Justin sat down on the floor where Daisy was napping.  A minute or two later, Justin says, "Look Unka Tom. Daisy's Aunt Jemimah."

The boy does love his pancakes. The ever-patient Daisy just closed her eyes and went back to sleep. We'd just got back from a 3 mile morning ramble in the crisp autumn air and she was not letting even minor humiliation disturb her slumber.  She did manage to shake off the goofy headwear before we went out again, lest it give the neighborhood dogs something to tease her about.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Offset Credits - Get 'em While They're Hot!

(c) 2011 by Tom King

A word to my fellow Facebookers and forum posters on the left and right.  It has been recently brought to my attention that excessive bloviation may produce increased significant increases in levels of atmospheric CO2.  If this is the case I suspect that global warming discussion threads as found on such weighty scientific forums like Facebook, MySpace, Google Plus and the Banjo Hangout are in danger of becoming major sources of greenhouse gases.

To head off this problem for the sake of the planet and to prevent possible new regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. I have decided to be pro-active. So, today I am announcing my newest product: carbon offset credits for obsessive global warming posters (COCOGWPs). Now, anyone who wishes to post page after page of dry statistics, graphs, charts and web-page links, can do so guilt-free.  All you have to do is purchase carbon offset credits (COCOGWPs) from me.  Now your bloviations on the subject of anthropogenic global climate change can be totally carbon neutral. For the modest price of $3.50 per credit, you can go on and on and on and on about anthropogenic global warming or even about how anthropogenic global warming is a total crock - your choice - and do so completely guilt free.

The benefits of buying Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Credits include:
  1. They are inexpensive. For just the price of one ticket on the Loch Ness Monster Boat Tour, you can erase any guilt you might feel about using more than your share of the Earth's resources.
  2. They are easy to purchase. Simply send your $3.50 per COCOGWP to my e-mail address (  via Paypal. Easy peasy - take it out of your eBay profits and your wife need never know you've been obsessing over global warming on Facebook again.
  3. 10 percent of proceeds will be donated to a charity I like, eventually, once I pay for a bigger motor for my new fishing boat.
  4. Your purchase helps me avoid having to work at a real job where I might be forced to produce carbon against my will (this way my carbon production is entirely for a good cause, is voluntary and I can stop at any time if I really want to).
  5. I'm much less obnoxious than Al Gore and can tell a joke with a proper punchline.
  6. Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Credits free you from all guilt associated with rattling on and on interminably about global warming and filling up all those extra hard drives on all those extra servers Mark Zuckerberg has to install just to keep up with Facebook's global warming archives.
  7. As an added premium your carbon credits come with a free membership in the premier nonprofit support group for people who have trouble stopping themselves from talking about global warming.  It's called "On and On and On ANON" and your membership is free with the purchase of 7 or more carbon credits.
  8. With your purchase of ten or more Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Credits you also get a ticket to a free special class for your loved ones. This training class for spouses and families of people who talk incessantly about global warming includes -
  • Choosing a bat to match your arm length
  • Placing your stroke for maximum effect and minimal obvious bruising
  • Using common household items when your bat is not handy
  • Making it look like an accident - it's all in the setup
  • Convincing your loved one he was struck by a loose blade from the ceiling fan
  • What to tell the police - surefire ways to get you off with probation and time served
  • Timing your interventions to achieve the maximum negative behavioral conditioning effect
How does it work?

The beauty of Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Offset Credits is that, not only does it reduce carbon, sulfur and other emissions too ghastly to mention here, but it also prevents the death of tens of thousands AT THE SAME TIME. You see, I live in the shadow of the most dangerous active volcano in North America - Mt. Ranier. At any moment it could go off and pour millions of tons of carbon, sulfur and other noxious gases and ash into the atmosphere and send a flood of mud, rock and debris sweeping down the Puyallup, Carbon and Green River Valleys with little or no notice, destroying dozens of picturesque, environmentally friendly towns that carefully recycle all their trash and industrial waste and burying tens of thousands of environmentally-conscious Washingtonians beneath a 50 to 100 foot wall of melted glacier muck.  The real tragedy would be that THE millions of dollars these communities have spent to reduce global warming and thereby increase the size of the Mt. Ranier glaciers would be lost along with the glaciers themselves if the mountain were to erupt. I have therefore begun a program to prevent this disaster and, at the same time provide a way for environmentally-conscious Americans to feel smug and guilt-free.

Every six months I will climb the flanks of Mt. Ranier and plant one pine cone for each carbon credit purchased through Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Offset Credits program. These pine cones will grow into trees, their roots will reach down into the mountain and press apart the loose volcanic rocks which make up the outer shell of the mountain. This will, according to scientists at the Blossomville Community College Vulcanology Center (you should have seen their science fair project last year), expand the outer shell of the mountain, increasing the "gas carrying capacity" of the volcano shaft significantly. If we continue this program* and steadily increase the number of pine cones planted, with your help we can create a "green blanket" that should cool the atmosphere around the mountain and further increase the depth of the snow pack above the tree line. This dense snow pack will theoretically cool the inside of the mountain, causing the gases inside to contract, further enhancing the mountain's carrying capacity and delaying the inevitable eruption of the volcano by decades - long enough for those who bought carbon credits for their jets and jacuzzis to croak off so they won't care anymore whether the mountain blows up or not.


Uncle Tom

* This program was inspired by the economic stimulus programs initiated by the United States Congress and the President to prevent the economy from going bust by putting the whole thing off till after we're all safely dead. The principle behind Uncle Tom's Handy Dandy Carbon Offset Credits. As one of the great modern philosophers whose philanthropic work, in part, inspired the idea of COCOGWPs has said:

"I don't believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse."  - Angelina Jolie


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Just Love My Homeowner's Association

My Homeowner's Association's Proposed Warning Sign:


The majority of the guys who live in this neighborhood are military and ex-military, many with advanced training in combat arms, hand to hand combat and reconnaissance. We also have a couple of trained snipers and one old boy from East Texas who sleeps with his 30-06 and can pick the head off a pissant at 1500 yards on a blustery day.

You should also note that we are armed to the teeth and practice often. At last count, the guys out here have 75 confirmed kills in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and some places they still can't talk about. That number is probably a little low because they don't count them if they can't find enough pieces. At night, the Vietnam vet guy likes to sit in a tree in a Ghillie suit with an infrared scope. Something about 'perimeter security'. We gave him a mugshot book of the neighborhood residents and told him he had to verify the identity of the intruder before making the shot. When in doubt, he has instructions to "get close and use the knife".

We are very fond of our wives and kids and get really perturbed if you mess with them. You should know that our subdivision is surrounded by an ecologically balanced and therefore very thick wetlands preservation boundary that already smells pretty bad in some places where the brush is particularly dense. It's not likely they'll find you anytime soon and I understand that our local racoons and buzzards like to nibble things.

Our homeowner's association president worked for many years in a mental facility training orderlies and personally handling the very large violent-type lunatics. He used to take down three hundred pounders and place them in restraints seven or eight times a day on average. He knows the precise words to use when calling 911 so that they'll be sure and send a couple of burly, but efficient, orderlies along with a generous supply of tasers for the police officers. He also knows just what to say on the police report to get you some pretty significant time in a padded cell in some sort of protective gear - one of those heavy canvas strappy things with the shiny steel buckles.

A lot of our guys really take this neighborhood watch thing seriously. Our recon guy has all manner of cameras, still and video, and will make certain there's a proper head shot of you for the BOLO. And you probably shouldn't mention the words "head shot" around our sniper guys or Bubba.

We also love our dogs around here. We have a pit bull, two German Shepherds, a Great Dane, an assortment of Rottweilers, all manner of Labrador Retrievers and a border collie mix named Daisy who runs so fast it makes greyhounds cry and who can reduce a hard rubber chew toy to shreds in under two minutes with her bare teeth. If you disguise yourself as a postman, UPS guy or utility service worker it makes her particularly unhappy. The crotch grab is her specialty. Besides that, most of the guys out here do five to ten miles of daily PT at the base, so PLEASE make a run for it. The Youtube video should be just hilarious.

If you're having some sort of problem with authority or you're an anarchist, this might not be the best place to work out those issues in any sort of public way. The wives told us the last time they weren't going to be responsible for EVER cleaning up that much blood again.  But Rick, our neighborhood tool guy, just took delivery of two new power-washers last week and we haven't had anything to try them out on yet. The guys are anxious to see how they work, so, we can probably accommodate you if you're just looking for an early exit strategy......from breathing.

Welcome to Edgewater. A safe and happy place for growing families.

(c) 2011 by Tom King

Monday, September 19, 2011

Roman Herman and the Big Fat Berry

I made the mistake of taking along a plastic grocery bag on my walk with Daisy this morning (in case there was a pooping incident). We passed the berry bushes and they were just loaded with big fat juicy berries.  I couldn't resist picking them even though I'd promised my wife I'd lay off the berry picking for a while. At any rate the bag was used for berry gathering this time instead of its less dignified use. The size of the berries reminded me of a Flip Wilson story. This is a story about a Roman. His name was Herman.

His name was Roman Herman. 

It seems that the latest fad in Rome back then was berries. People started collecting berries and displaying them, showing them off and entering them in fairs and pie making contests and such. Berries became THE status symbol for the upwardly mobile Roman.

Well, one day, while Roman Herman was roaming the outskirts of Rome, he spied this ginormous berry. It was beautiful. It was the most beautiful berry Roman Herman had ever seen - all fat and juicy and plump. So, anyway, he picked the berry, tucked it under his toga and brought it home to his wife.  The woman squealed when she saw that berry. She praised it cause she knew the girls down at the bath house was gonna be just green with envy..

She put her hands on her hips and said "That's an awful nice berry you got there Herman!"

It didn't take long for word to get around about the berry. Pretty soon people were coming from all over Rome to see the berry, and to praise it.  Roman Herman took the berry to the Roman county fair and he won first prize. He took his trophy and his berry home and put it up on the mantel so people could see the berry when they came by for a visit and they could praise the berry right there in the living room.

Well, one dark night, there was a knock on the door. It was late, but Mr. and Mrs Herman were getting used to all the fuss because of the berry, so Roman Herman opened up the door.

There standing in the doorway were three Roman Senators, Brutus, Cassius and Mark. They elected for Mark to speak for them and he stepped forward.

"Friend, Roman and Countryman," Mark announced. "We have heard of your magnificent berry and come representing the senate of Rome."

"Hoo, boy," said Herman feeling kind of flattered.  "Have you come to praise my berry?" he asked.

Without warning the senators drew out long knives and Senator Mark, he held his knife right up against poor Roman Herman's belly.  "Why don't you see," Senator Mark scowled menacingly, "We come to seize your berry, not to praise it!"*

*The only way you'll get that joke is if you had to memorize Mark Anthony's funeral oration in Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, when you were in 9th grade lit class. This joke slays 'em at writer's groups and gatherings of unemployed English majors. I'm sorry, but there are so few really good jokes about berries......

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Give a Man a Fish - An Ichtheological* Retrospective

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day.

Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish. - Timothy Jones

Found this cynical little quotation in my morning e-mail. I do love how people who don't go to church have such pithy things to say about people who do. I looked up Timothy Jones and found several including three liberal and one Republican politician, several athletes (cyclists, cricketers, baseball players, hockey pucks and the like). None listed any religious affiliation in his personal credits.

This is, of course, a takeoff on the "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime" homely that conservatives like to use as their killer argument against no-strings welfare programs. Lots of folks claim to have said it first. The Chinese Taoist philosopher, Lao-Tzu (an early conservative politician) is one of the earliest. The English (of course) claim it as one of their proverbs, though I suspect they quit using it back in the 50s when the labor government started pushing government sponsored British health care. The Germans love this one, only it goes, "Give a man a fish und you vill feed him for a day. Teach a man to work in ze Krupvorks Factory making veapons for ze military und he vill be a useful member of German society for ze rest uff his life und vill be able to buy fish at ze fish market."

There have been lots of humorous takeoffs on this sayings and I'm going to finish this on a light note (I promise).  But first let me do my own take on this particular tiring swipe at people of faith.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give a man religion and He will find a way to feed fish to 5,000."

At least that's been my experience with Christians and fishes. Folk like Mr. Jones would like to think persons of faith are dupes and tools of "the establishment". This helps them avoid feeling guilty about skipping weekly services. It's odd then, that so many of them are devoted to building up a massive government that has all the trappings of a religion including idol worship (see Barak Obama), repetitive chanting ("Hope and Change, Hope and Change...), tithing (see IRS, property tax, capital gains tax, and sales tax) and obligatory attendance at religious functions (see Social Security office, The Iowa Caucus, the DMV, the IRS, and the State of the Union Address).  Ah, well. I've always thought that religion and politics were virtually indistinguishable anyway.

Now on to the fun stuff.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.....

  •  Teach a Democrat to fish and he'll create a government-funded sport fishing study to figure out how to tax you for fishing. 
  • Teach a man to fish and you can sell him a fishing license, rod, tackle, boat, boat trailer, bigger pickup with a towing package, expensive lures, a sonar rig, subscription to "Bass Masters"....
  • Teach a man to fish and he starts skipping church and sitting in a boat all day drinking beer.
  • Teach a man to fish and he's got a one in seven chance of getting drunk, falling out of his boat and drowning.
  • Teach a man to play fishing games on X-Box and he won't bother you for weeks!
  • Teach a man to fish and you can get rid of him for a whole weekend.
  • Teach a man to fish; and you will have to listen to the same danged fish stories over and over and over for the rest of your life unless someone accidentally laces his coffee thermos with antifreeze.
  • Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Unless he doesn't like sushi - then you also gonna have to teach him to cook.
  • Give him fish aversion therapy, and he stops pestering you to give him your fish.
  • Give a woman a fishing boat for mother's day and you'll be sleeping on the couch again and she probably won't let you use HER boat.
  • Teach a man to phish, and he'll clean out your bank account.
  • Teach a man to fish and somewhere some woman is inevitably going to have to learn how to clean and gut that fish and fry enough for him and his 10 buddies and their families all the while listening to stories about the one that got away.
  • Teach a man to fish and he will store stink bait, worms and minnows in your fridge.
  • Teach a liberal chick to fish and you'll have to listen to her go on and on about how it's such a cruel sport and you'll have to explain that fish don't have nerves in their lips for about the thousandth time.
  • Teach a woman to fish and you'll soon be riding around in a much cleaner boat.
  • Teach a dog to fish and you can win the $10,000 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos (but only if the dog hooks you in the crotch with a fishing lure).
  • Teach an atheist to fish and maybe you won't have to listen to him bitch about religion all the time cause he'll be too busy bitching that he can't seem to catch any fish.
Got to go. The salmon are running in the Puyallup River and I'm stocking up pink salmon fillets for the winter.

© 2017 by Tom King - Puyallup, Washington
*Yes, I meant to spell it that way - Ickthus (Greek: pertaining to fish) plus theological (Latin: "pertaining to religion")

Monday, August 29, 2011

Barbecue Sauce Threatens Washington, DC

DATELINE: (Washington, DC)

In the wake of Hurricane Irene and a major earthquake, the nation's capitol is being threatened with a new disaster - a flood of barbecue sauce. In the wake of Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement of his candidacy for the presidency, Washington eateries are digging out their barbecue recipes in anticipation of the flood of conservatives and Texans that will descend on the city along with the new administration.

Washingtonians are bracing for a flood of new Tex-Mex restaurants and a spate of new barbecue selections on the menus of their favorite gourmet snobatoriums, displacing many of their favorite quiche and sprout-laced dishes on those tiny little gourmet menus. Some restauranteurs have resorted to providing alternate "barbecue-free" menus to appease angry liberals that make up their regular clientele.


I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'd vote for Perry just to irritate the Washington liberals. Every time there's a Texan like the Bushes, Lyndon Johnson or Ronald Reagan in the White House (Reagan was the only "Texan" I ever knew that lived in California), the local restaurants add barbecue and Tex-Mex dishes to their menus. For some reason this really irritates the black trench-coated intelligencia that permanently reside in our nation's capitol. I think it's because the Texas-flavored fare replaces some kind of squid or sprouts on the menu, I don't know. The anti-barbecue rant was a complaint I heard frequently on both my visits there during the Bush II administration.

I ordered some barbecue at lunch one day, just to send my lib colleagues over the edge. It was kinda fun to watch! Those ladies get really cranky when things ain't goin' their way. The barbecue wasn't bad either, though the Hunt's barbecue sauce over hamburger at one place was a bit on the lame side. Did these people never hear of "Bull's-Eye". Sheesh!

I do have to give them credit, though. The Washington chefs do get better at it after about 6 or 7 years of a Texas-style Republican administration. I mean some of those fellers ain't bad with a spatula, if they can resist the urge to put parsley and endives on everything.

And what's up with dribbling that brown gravy stuff on everything? There's not enough of it to tell what it tastes like and they don't give you any biscuits to sop it up with.

Tom King - (recently of Tyler, TX, now transplanted to the mission fields of Washington* state)

* I do have to admit it's kinda interesting living next door to a volcano in the only state named after a US president. After all, George Washington originally came from East Texas. We know this because of the whiskey stills out behind his barns at Mt. Vernon.

(c) 2011 by Tom King

Friday, August 26, 2011

Newsbreak: Ron Paul Receives Major Party Endorsement

Disassociated Press
Official News Release

DATELINE: August 25,2011, Luckenbach, TX

- For Immediate Release –

Ron Paul Wins Texas Pot Party Endorsement

William Nelson, Spokesman
 Following a recent spate of cannabis-fueled blog reports that Ron Paul has been gaining ground in the presidential race, members of the newly re-organized “Texas Pot Party”, today, officially endorsed the Texas Congressman’s bid for the presidency. At a press conference at its headquarters in Luckenbach, Texas, spokesman for the party, music industry icon William Nelson, donned a red, white and blue tie for the first time in 32 years to make the official announcement.

The event, held in the pool room at the Luckenbach Bar and Grill, was the first ever “Get Out the Vote: political rally in the organization’s 34 year history. Nelson opened the ceremonies with about 30 minutes of music while reporters grazed the brownies at the buffet and sampled the open bar. Once the hooka fumes had thickened sufficiently, Wilson (or Nelson, or, uh, Billy Bob..............whoever the heck he is, I can’t remember), made the official announcement.

“Ron Paul is really the only candidate who makes sense after 4 or 5 joints,” said Mr. Nelson. “And the beauty of his candidacy is that the more stoned you are, the better his chances look.”

Increasingly woozy reporters asked few questions at the press conference, although MSNBCs Ed Schulz demanded that Willie, “…tell ush where da resh roooooooms went to,” and accused party organizers of “hidin’ the ding-busted thang!)

CURRENT TV commentator Keith Olbermann followed up Schulz’s harsh line of questioning with the observation that he’d “…sheen a resh rooooooom around h’yar somewhere old Buckaroooozy!”

Dr. Paul wasn’t present for the announcement today, citing some concerns as to whether or not the free reefers being offered at the hospitality buffet were, in fact, medicinal marijuana and had been properly procured from American growers. Paul even offered to bring his prescription pad if party organizers could document the source of the giggle weed and the ghangha-laced brownies provided as refreshments at the press gathering.

“Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate and welcome the party’s endorsement,” said the Texas congressman, “As I share the party’s concern over many issues including the legalization of drugs, the institution of a myopic foreign policy and the establishment of safer methods of extracting one’s head from places without access to abundant heliotropic radiation.”

In related news, reporter Martin Bashir and news publisher Ariana Huffington were married just moments ago in an impromptu ceremony at the Luckenbach Dance Hall. The Bride wore a charming burlap gown to match the Western-theme of the event. Bashir, wearing only ostrich boots and a rodeo belt with strategically placed buckle, wore a lasso for a necktie which Ms. Huffington held by the free end throughout the ceremony, applying sharp tugs whenever it was Bashir’s turn to speak.

Ms. Huffington explained the surprise union, saying, “He has a cute accent just like me.” Bashir will change his name to Bashir-Huffington, but is being allowed to retain his post at MSNBC. Ron Paul could not be reached for comment on the developing story.

(c) 2011 by Tom King*

* Please note to Ron Paul supporters who jumped over here to read this with hearts a-palpatatin'.  I'm truly sorry to have to explain this to you (but I have to anyway, just so I don't get into legal trouble for jerking around people with impaired mental function).  The above story is SATIRE. Not a word of it is true. Ron Paul hasn't a snowball's chance in Hades of becoming president and Willie Nelson isn't affiliated with any Texas Pot Party that I know of despite the rumors.

No such party exists in the state of Texas (at least not for purely political purposes) to my knowledge. I had to change the name of the fictional pot party several times (apparently you can organize a political party for any danged thing you want to and my first choice names were already taken by various California and Austin, Texas area groups - Austin being where we store most of the state's liberals so we'll know what they're up to). First it was the 'Pot Party', but there is already one of those. The Marijuana Party was just too obvious and doesn't have much of a ring to it. The Dopey Party seemed too offensive to Disney characters and mentally-challenged college students. There is an actual "Texas TeaPot Party" that was organized to support Willie Nelson after he got busted for cannabis possession at one of his big Fourth of July Parties. I finally settled on the "Texas Pot Party" which, at least has no presence on the Internet that I can tell.

Mr Paul and Mr. Nelson, themselves are considered public figures and open to ridicule, satirization and subjection to bad jokes under U.S. slander and libel laws. Nelson's image was listed as public domain on one of the pot-related sites I borrowed it from, so I'm sure there are no legal problems with me using the picture..

I have no money and a cousin Wally who's a lawyer and owes me a favor after I caught him flirting with that waitress over at the new Waffle House (Marybeth has already warned him once about that). Anyway, there's not much good in suing me. I'll just take this down and replace it with something serious about Ron Paul supporters having no sense of humor. Considering the nasty jokes some of them have posted about my favorite candidates, I figure ya'll owe me one shot at your guy anyway.

I don't even have that many readers so hacking me is basically pointless. Who's going to know? That said, have a nice day and try to stick to the stuff WITHOUT formaldehyde in it. That stuff'll make you blind according to my Great Uncle J.D. who used to operate a medical marijuana outlet from the back of his gas station back in the 60s. He was way ahead of his time was my uncle JD.


I've Learned a New Word!

1982 lahar in Galunggung, India.
The Word of the Day is "Lahar".  It is an Indonesian word that they made up after a volcano covered up several thousand of their citizens with some stuff they didn't have a word for. I think it's the name of some nasty-tempered Sumerian god or something.

Anyway, it's a substance the consistency of wet concrete created by a volcanic eruption. What happens is a loose collection of volcanic dust and rock slides down the mountain. The snow piled on top of it melts suddenly and the rock, dust and snow-melt slurry scrape off underlying clay and make this stuff that flows down river valleys wiping out trees and buildings and anything in its path. When it hits a hill or a mountain it can't move, the lahar sets up like instant cement entombing people, animals and cars in a mud brick-like substance.

Basically a lahar is a muck avalanche capable of traveling 25 to 50 miles per hour. We now live 26 miles from the caldera of Mt. Ranier, and since there is little or no warning when it happens, we may or may not, depending on whether the acoustic sensors they put up on the mountain as a warning system actually work  (more than half failed the last time they tested the things), have about 10 to 15 minutes to get out of Puyallup before a 20 to 100 foot wave of mud the consistency of wet concrete and the remnants of forests, houses, bridges and light poles obliterates the town.

I have GOT to quit reading this stuff. I didn't go to bed till 2 am and by the time I did, I had two bugout bags assembled, had consulted the topographical maps to find the quickest way out of town and out of the path of previous lahars along the highest roads available.  I slept like a cat, ready to jump out of bed at the first siren.

So, it's a new house and I'm snoozing blissfully along at 6 am when my bride decides the sun is too bright, gets up and goes downstairs to make some toast and coffee.

Sometime halfway through the toast preparation process, the little crumbs knocked loose inside the toaster went up in tiny little flames setting off the fire alarm upstairs.

Now this new house has this hypersensitive fire alarm that not only sets itself off with a piercing shriek, but has this woman's voice that says "Fire" over and over in that voice that the computer on Star Trek used to use to announce that the Enterprise was going to blow up in 10 seconds....

The commotion woke me from a deep sleep featuring dreams about not being able to find my bugout bag and molten lava in the living room.

I hit the floor and was halfway downstairs when I realized that I was traveling at a speed that was beyond the rated speed limit of our carpeted staircase.

The dog, meanwhile, had been roused by my leaping from the bed screaming, "Lahar" (which rhymes with fire if you are from East Texas).  Halfway down the stairs she passed me going like a little black missile sweeping me along in her wake. The next thing I knew I hit the floor at the foot of the stairs and my ancient and decrepit knees buckled under me.

I woke up after an indeterminate nap on the carpet with the dog licking my face and my wife standing over me, hands on hips, complaining, "I was just making a piece of toast for heaven's sake!"

The fire alarm lady finally stopped shouting "Fire!" at us and everyone was able to go back to bed - everybody except my Sweet Baboo, who felt compelled to stay up and empty more moving boxes and to sweep, dust and mop stuff till she collapsed from exhaustion about 11 am.

We hid the toaster from her.

Like I said, I need to stop reading the Volcano Safety literature late at night.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Princess

The Princess & Me

Today is my darling daughter's birthday. I thought it fitting that on this day of days I should comment upon the relationship of fathers and daughters.

Mothers have long recognized that their daughters are, in fact, their greatest rivals for their husband's attention, assuming their hubbies are not complete, self-centered, philandering jerks, of course.

My wife once complained, "Meghan just can't do any thing wrong with you, can she? She's just your little princess!"

"Uh, yeah," I responded lamely, not at all getting her point. Fathers are kind of doofuses where their daughters are concerned. From the time they are born we become their instant protectors. It's not that we aren't also the protectors of their mothers. We are. Just watch how a bunch of men behave when a pregnant woman enters the room. They suddenly become all solicitous and treat her like she was a big raw egg in danger of being broken at any moment. It may be that when his wife is in need of protecting, it's one of the few times that men know exactly how to behave. By nature, I am a patient man, not prone to violence, but threaten my wife or daughter and I will readily take up arms to defend them.

If we dote on our daughters a bit, it's because they start out so tiny. When we meet our wives they are usually fully grown and quite independent and throughout our relationship with them, they readily remind us about just how independent they are. The bond between husbands and wives is, therefore, a union of equals.

Daughters, on the other hand, come to us tiny and helpless and cute and dependent. The bond that happens with daughters and fathers is something almost magical and that's saying a lot since I don't believe in magic. That bond is permanent and becomes the model for a father's relationship with his daughter for the rest of her life. It doesn't matter if your daughter is 65 years old, she's still your little girl and always will be. We can never quite let them grow up. I imagine if Sarah Palin were to become president of the United States, her Dad would feel exactly the same kind of pride he did when she brought home her first portrait of "Daddy" for the refrigerator art gallery. He'd also probably want to beat up a few dozen news commentators and an assortment of senators and congressmen for insulting his baby girl. It's just how fathers are wired up.

My daughter is one of the most competent people I know. Reminds me a lot of her Mom. It's tough being a bumbling sort of odd ball around two such formidable women and maintaining any semblance of dignity. Whatever they criticize me for, I probably deserve it. I know I can't hope to do anything as well as they do. So, I try to do the few things I know I'm relatively skilled at as well as I can - like lifting heavy boxes and squashing spiders and stuff. If I ever get to where I can't do that, I'm not sure what I'll do.

Good Dads set very high standards from the very beginning for how people should treat their daughters. It's why my daughter once complained when she was in eighth grade that all the boys at her school were afraid of me and my two sons. She felt like we were cramping her style most severely. We King males, however, felt like we were just protecting our little princess from evil-doers and nasty-minded boys. My two boys were enough older than she was that they also took a protective role, so the poor thing went through most of school with three large protectors lurking not so unobtrusively in the shadows ready to pounce.

One hapless young man said some impolite things to Meghan one day in eighth grade. Meghan blew him off. She had loads of self-confidence even then and did not tolerate fools. As the boy turned to walk away, he ran straight into my son, Micah's, chest. Micah was already 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed about 240 pounds. He caught the boy by the front of the shirt and lifted him clean off the ground.

As the young man hung from Micah's massive hands, his little feet dangling a good six inches off the floor, Micah got nose to nose with him. "We don't talk to my sister like that, do you understand?" he growled menacingly.  The boy went pale and croaked something unintelligible while nodding his head.  Micah set him back down on the floor and he scurried away. Micah didn't tell Meg about the incident for a long time. He did, however, tell me and his brother.

He got a high-five from the old man, I'm here to tell you.

So "Happy Birthday, Princess."  Dad's still got your back. Just let me know who you need me to take care of, okay.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Information Nazis and the Great Controversy

by Tom King (c) 2011

One gains spiritual insight from places that may at first glance seem odd. “Information Weekly”, a journal for CIOs and data management people ran an editorial this week in their global-CIO segment called “The CIO vs. The Information Access Mafia” that I found enlightening.

Howard Anderson interviews Stu Laura, a Wall Street corporate Chief Information Officer (CIO) about his frustrations with his company's internal information wars. Laura's problem is that his company's staff is fighting a turf war over who has access to what information.

On the one hand, the company's product development people need broad access to information in order to get the “bonus” of coming up with creative ideas that cross boundaries. On the other hand, the data management people - Laura calls them “Information Nazis” - are concerned (to the level of paranoia sometimes) that the wrong people in the company may have access to sensitive data. As a result, the company's system of approving who has access to what data is so slow that, according to Laura, they “squash great ideas”.

This problem finds its parallel in government where big government/high control types want decision-making about who has access to information about services offered by or input into the governing process placed in the hands of a few insiders. This “nanny state” approach prevents the children from hurting themselves by keeping them away from things considered “dangerous” by those who know better.

Facing off against the progressive/socialists are small government/low control advocates who want a less restrictive environment, more freedom, and less regulation with strict punishment for those who abuse the privilege.

Laura's solution, ironically for a data management guy, steps outside the “computer problem” box and recognizes that the problem is a business management problem. He says, “The only thing that might work is if we let people escalate and then come down very hard on those who abuse the privilege.” In effect, he advocates less control on the top end and firm punishment for violating the trust shown people. This parallels the small government/lower regulation philosophy in the political arena.

At the same time there is a spiritual lesson to be drawn from the information wars. This high control vs. low control argument has gone on for a long time in the Judeo-Christian faith. Jesus, Himself, preached a brand of religion that freed people from the access-to-God Nazis in the Sanhedrin. It's why they felt they had to murder Him. All this freedom imperiled their control over the populace and the Scribes, Pharisees and Saducees could imagine all sorts of bad things happening to the poor people they felt charged with “protecting”.

The pattern was repeated in the Dark Ages and Medieval era when the Roman Catholic church restricted access to Scripture to clergy alone, on the grounds that “the people” needed protecting lest they misinterpret what Scripture said, especially on those issues that differed with official church doctrine or practice. Turns out they were right to fear open access by the people to God's Word for as soon as the Bible began to be printed in the common tongue, the Protestant Reformation swept the Christian world and the power of church authorities was diminished.

Again, after all that heady wave of religious freedom, many Protestant church heirarchies began to look for ways to hem in their congregations or to place church leadership between the people and the ultimate source of information, if you will. Having people reporting directly to God is always problematic for church bureaucrats because it limits their power and exposes them to severe consequences if they get caught exercising the “privileges of power” enjoyed by so many generations of powerful men and women in ages past.

All these conflicts are basically a single conflict. It was once called “The Great Controversy” by a 19th century religious writer in a book by that name. The controversy dates back to the beginning of creation when God decided to make man with the power of free will. This level of free will had, apparently, not been granted to any other creature in the history of the universe. Only one “prototype” creature with that in-built freedom of choice existed – the angelic choirmaster, Lucifer.

When God developed plans to create Man, he saw that it would be inevitable that any creature with total free will would, like Laura's creative staffers, abuse the privilege. To insure that His new creation would not self-destruct, God developed a plan that involved incredible sacrifice on His part. He willingly sacrificed Himself in the form of his Son because, evidently, God thought it was important that a creature like Man should exist in the universe.

Lucifer, knowing well the temptation to sin that comes with free will, seems to have decided that a more restrictive approach was in order. He probably guessed what sort of mischief men and women could get up to and decided it would be better to place restrictions on them in the first place to save them from themselves. Lucifer, the original “Information Nazi” apparently carried his disagreement over the nature of Man to the point of creating a “revolution” among the angels in support of his view. God finally had to kick him and his followers out of heaven to restore order.

Lucifer carried his war to the Earth, conducting a guerrila campaign to prove to God just how wrong God was. You can look down the history of this planet and see, time and again, governments set up following a restrictive, elite-governed model that purports to “protect” the people. In the end, these governments by the nobles, the commisars, the emperors and the upper classes inevitably abuse the very people they are sworn to protect.

God's model is basically a high freedom (we may sin if we choose), high access (we have a direct line to God) and strict punishment (loss of life for abusing the privileges) model. Myself, I believe that this dangerous model is essential if God is going to people the universe with creatures like himself in their ability to choose. I don't believe humans could create as prolifically as we do were our free will more restricted. It is that creativity that, I believe, is the “image” of God described in Genesis.

Television, radio, literature, art, movies andYoutube would not be nearly as interesting if we had all been made like Lucifer thought we should and all lived under Lucifer's idea of “good government”. God wanted sons and daughters, not “the workers” and “the masses”. I think God wanted children who are individuals, not cookie-cutter “congregations”. Can you explain all the varied denominations of Christianity any other way than as expressions of worship by individuals with different tastes, cultures and understandings of God's Word? Sure we have our differences, but each of us carries a piece of the truth and each of us is striving to reach the same place. One day, when at last we all come together on the Sea of Glass, I expect we will make one whale of a choir, each one of millions upon millions of unique people, bringing his or her own experience to the song to create a harmony like nothing we've ever experienced.

God wants us to be free and unique individuals. The everything-fair-and-the-same-for-all” approach simply doesn't produce human beings of sufficiently good quality that it would be safe for God to grant eternal life to them. Such people will be inconstant and indecisive, wandering from powerful leader to powerful leader, whichever catches their attention – a useful trait in people if you are one of the politburo or a member of the nobility or church heirarchy and wish to keep the troops in line (behind yourself, of course). Such people find it difficult to look beyond mortal leaders to communicate with God directly. Like the Children of Israel, they are slaves and beg for some powerful leader to stand between them and God. And once the leader goes up into the mountain, they choose another one, or carve one out of gold to tide them over. They have not the stuff to stand for the right alone, but must have the permission of the heard to make any decision. Such people sacrifice their true self for a delusion of safety in numbers.

Like I said, God wants sons and daughters, not slaves and concubines. In that respect, we are also like Him for do we not want sons and daughters, not butlers and maids? Isn't it difficult for us to see our kids suffer and learn hard lessons for themselves. Aren't we proud, though, when they do learn, grow and mature into amazing people? Do we not experience great joy in their triumphs and achievements?

And would we not die for them as well?

So when someone asks you “How could God let all these bad things happen?” recognize where this idea that people need to be protected from bad things comes from. It's not from heaven.

Me, I welcome the pain and trials of this life, because I believe that heaven is cheap enough at that price. When we seek to protect ourselves and others from all pain or the consequences of our own actions, we choose a path that leads downward to tyranny, stagnation and a bland and wasted life.

Albert Einstein once wondered why we couldn't figure out a way to make everyone happy. Einstein, brilliant though he was, thought of it as a “computer problem”. If we could figure out how people work, we should be able to program our world so that everyone would be content and cared for. But, life is not a computer problem. It's a self-management problem. You don't run a happy planet by knowing which buttons to push or how to design effective systems of government. You run a happy planet by filling it with good, happy people that have no interest in lording over their fellow men and women. You change the individuals, not the system. 

If you just like the computer analogy, think of it this way. If we allow God to clean up the corrupt coding in our software through our relationship with Him, He in turn gives us back ourselves free from the viruses, trojan horses and malware that once infected us. But cleaning us up alone does not solve the problem of how to make people happy or how to make a clean and ordered world. We have to choose for ourselves how to do that. Then we must roll up our sleeves and do our job. It's the job God gave us in the first place – to tend the Earth.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to getting to work in the garden.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've Landed in Washington Sure Enough

Well, we got the trailer loaded, unloaded, the truck loaded, driven 2400 miles, unloaded, loaded again, and unloaded - the first three times in 111 degree heat. I feel like I've been beaten up with bats by angry third basemen.

Lovely country up here, though, but did you know 80% of the people here don't have air-conditioning? I feel like I've come to the third world. I'm living in a $179,000 house with no AC. Coming from Texas, that makes me nervous.

I always said God would have to kick me out of Texas to make me move this far north. Apparently He has a sense of humor as He not only kicked me out, but burned down the place behind me....

It was 118 degrees in the Panhandle the day after I blew through with my truck load of junk - I mean, honestly, doesn't everyone's stuff look like crap when you load it into a truck or (worse) onto a trailer?
Only thing that makes me more nervous than the lack of AC in August is this thing looming over my backyard....(see below).

Yup, I got a volcano for a neighbor!  Nobody seems to worry about it much, but then neither did the folks in Pompeii. I fully expect the TV weather guy to go like "Now for the three day forecast. Tomorrow we can expect an unseasonable high for August of 78 degrees followed by a balmy 74 on Thursday followed by a crispy 3,000 degrees on Friday. Be sure you wear lots of sunblock this weekend and try not to step in the molten lava....."
Mount Ranier

Monday, August 01, 2011

On Philosophers and Magicians

C.S. Lewis, theologian, philosopher and writer

 I have a couple of friends who keep trying to lure me into a name-dropping philosophical debate. I suspect someone's just waded through a college philosophy course and is wondering what to do with all that stuff they just shoved into their brains. I resist the urge to play the "I can quote Kafka." game.

Now don't get me wrong. There are many philosophers and theologians (who are also members of that particular intellectual caste) whom I greatly admire. A friend of mine admires Kierkegaard, for instance, and I too find some of the things he writes very enlightening. There are theologians like Dietrich Bonhoffer, Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis whose work I find of vast benefit to the faithful and to me personally.  Reading Lewis' brilliant book "Mere Christianity", for instance, was one of those Gestalt "Aha" experiences for me. Unlike many lesser philosophers and theologians, Lewis makes things clearer rather than more complex.

I judge the value of philosophers and theologians by how clear they make things. In the world I find there are two types of practitioners of this ilk - I think of them as prophets and magicians. The prophets make the way forward clearer for their readers and skillfully direct their readers' attention toward something which is greater than themselves. Magicians, on the other hand, merely confuse, misdirect and show off their own dazzling vocabulary and intellectual prowess in order to draw attention to themselves and to gain the befuddled admiration of their readers.

Magicians are amusing to watch, but I can hardly take them seriously.

Tom King

Sunday, July 24, 2011

To Every Man His Eccentricities

President Adams' hobby gets him
in trouble with the press.
 Life is tough enough. Each of us should be allowed one or two eccentricities. Myself, I'd prefer everyone have lots of eccentricities. What a lovelier world it would be if each of us had all these lovely traits, hobbies and interests.

And what do you know?  We do. Virtually everyone has something about themselves that would surprise their friends, family and acquaintenances if they knew about it. Perhaps they like to watch Abbott and Costello movies on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Maybe they collect toy soldiers or those wonderfully tacky commemorative plates. Maybe they whittle chess pieces out of old scrap chair legs or dress up like a Union soldier and go on maneuvers with Civil War re-enactors. 

We are made in God's image and He is, above all, the Creator. We need to do our creative things, for our sanity, if nothing else. If we do not, we become stale, pedestrian and lose the very thing that makes us human. One wonders if a great man like Winston Churchill would have been quite so great without his landscape painting or his masonry work. George Washington liked fishing and riding. Thomas Jefferson played the violin. Lincoln liked to play baseball. Teddy Roosevelt had so many hobbies and interests it's a wonder he found time to be president. John Quincy Adams used to skinny dip in the Potomac where he was once caught in the act by a female reporter who staked out his swimming hole. She sat on his clothes and kept him pinned in the bushes till he granted her the first ever interview of a US president by a female reporter.

Speaking of skinny-dipping, Lyndon Johnson once invited Billy Graham to swim au' naturel in the White House pool and the famed evangelist took him up on it. Johnny Depp, who you'd expect to do things like that, actually has a huge collection of Barbie and Ken dolls. One congressman admitted to being a professional wrestling fan and a whole bunch of presidents liked fishing and sailing.

Be an interesting person. Don't just work and watch TV. Get yourself a serious hobby. It may be a pain to try and find a place for all those boxes of toy soldiers you collected when you're moving across country, but, trust me, it's darn well worth the effort. It makes you human!