Friday, November 30, 2007

How good of a General are you?

This is an interesting test of your generalship abilities. See if you can do better than Robert E Lee did at the Battle of Gettysburg

I decisively won the battle by the way. I guess this proves that every general can have a bad day.

Hat Tip - "Thirty Three Things Nov 26th on the Evangelical Outpost

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Grump's Christmas Moosic

If you haven't already noticed, there is now music on this blog. Turn your speakers on. Grumpamoose's Christmas Favorites is at the bottom of the center column. And he is taking requests. If you have a favorite song, and know the url where he can get it, please leave it in comments.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Days 19, 20, and 21

I see that I have been remiss in not keeping up with the Thanksgiving posts. So I guess I have some catching up to do

These past three days, I have been thankful for:
well written television programs
falling colorful leaves
the smell of cookies baking
the smell of turkey roasting
the taste of a bowl of Genghis Grill
My uncle's love of music.
restful naps

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Day 18

I am thankful that I had a good weekend, celebrating my wife's birthday on Saturday. I am also very thankful that I was able to get most of the things I needed car-repair wise taken care of.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Day 16

Today I have one dog leaning on me, one laying on the floor next to me, one more laying on the other couch trying to stay alert, and the fourth diddy bopping around like the imp that he is. Life is good

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 14

Today I am thankful that I was able to get home in less than 5 hours. There was a major fatality accident involving a fuel tanker truck, that closed one of the main north/south freeways for several hours, and as a result all the northbound side roads, many of which were built before the population exploded in this part of the region, were way way overcrowded.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 13

Today I got my paycheck f(or which I am thankful since it included my long overdue commission check) but what I am most thankful for today is the bracing crispness of fall that has finally arrived in Texas

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 12

Today I was sick with some kind of stomach ailment, that kept me up for a few hours last night. So I was able to Skype with a friend in Russia. I am thankful for the chance to do so, because he updated me a bit on what he has been up to since we were there in early October.

Mystery Topic Challenge #4

If I were President for a day, with the power to do anything, I would interview and test all 435 members of Congress on their level of understanding and appreciation for the limits on Federal government authority and power. Those that test at less than 90 % will be dismissed from the Congress and ineligible to hold Federal office until they test above 95% on 10 separate tests.

Those that test less than 50% are jailed, and those that test less than 20% are summarily executed as tyrant wannabes.

With the 4 members still standing, I will create a committee to review the entire US Code, and repeal all laws that violate the Constitution. All programs, departments, and agencies that do not meet the powers granted to the Federal government will be immediately disbanded, all agency buildings not needed for valid constitutional Federal use will be sold to either various state governments, or private sector, and proceeds deposited in the Treasury to repay all debts incurred by the disbanded government.

As an example, Dept of Education - gone. Dept of Health and Human services - Bye bye. National Endowments for the Arts, Public Broadcasting Corporation, NPR - adios. Alaskan Bridges to nowhere - auf wiedersehen. Congress will take back the power over the economy now exercised by an unaccountable Federal Reserve Bank.

My next step would be to convene a web conference of all 50 governors, to explain that although the Federal government does not have the constitutional power to run the disbanded departments and programs, there is nothing in the US Constitution that prevents the states from doing so, assuming they want to tax their own citizens for those things. At the end of the first web conference, all 50 governors would email a list with their nominees, 2 people for each congressional vacancy, for their states.

I would followup with all the nominees in a second web conference, with me and the 4 incumbent legislators. We would interview them, then I will appoint temporary replacements for the 431 House and Senate vacancies, choosing the candidate with the best grasp of the Constitution from the Governor's nominee lists.

After calling the new Congress into session later that day, I would work with them to pass 2 amendments the Constitution to outlaw pork barrel spending, and add a mechanism to quickly remove from office any Federal office holder that attempts to circumvent the Constitutional limits henceforth. Powers granted to the President and the Congress can only be added to by further amending the Constitution in the manner listed in the Constitution.

After these amendments are passed by 2/3 of both Houses of Congress, I would forward the text to the states.

The next to last thing I would do would be to ask Congress for a bill to reconfigure the federal budget to one better fitting the proper Constitutional limits to federal power. This bill would allow for previously nderfunded constitutional agencies to be fully funded, and the remainder of unnecessary tax revenues would be refunded to the tax payers. This bill would not go into effect until the Constitutional amendments were ratified by 2/3 of the States.

On my last act of the day, I would issue two executive orders stating that all surplus federal employees that have their jobs eliminated can apply for any open positions in the remaining departments, including the Department of Defense. This executive order called for all remaining department managers and Cabinet Secretaries to provide assistance to all former Federal employees as possible, and to provide referrals to any State government programs that perform a similar function to the illegitimate former Federal one.
The second executive order mandated that all remaining federal employees will have to go through a thorough customer service re-training to understand that they serve the citizens, who are in effect their customers. All federal employees will be required to master good customer service techniques, and undergo periodic customer service refresher training.

Then I woke up.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Day 11

Today, although it only did so for a few minutes on my way to work this morning, I am thankful for the rain today.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have enjoyed the slap of the windshield wipers, and the smell of rain in the air. There are few things more enjoyable than sitting on the porch, and watching the rain come down. Unless the rain is also bringing tornados - then it is not so much fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Days 9 and 10

In the spirit of Fridays post, I decided that for this Thanksgiving series, I would to honor the Sabbath by not posting. Ok, so actually I forgot to do a Thanksgiving post. So today will be a double dose.

First I am thankful for the smell of biscuits baking, and the taste of hot biscuits and gravy. Speaking of biscuits and gravy, occasionally when I eat them, it brings back memories of college days. Anyone who was at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas in the late 80's/early 90's sure remembers Singing Minnie at Walts. And for some reason, she is associated with pancakes, and biscuits and gravy on Saturday mornings for me, and the memory of her crazy songs just adds to the enjoyment of the biscuits.

Second. I would like to express my thanks to all US Veterans, of which my brother is one. So, to him and all the others - Thank you, and God speed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Either I am going crazy or someone is trying to tell me something

I normally don't put much stock in people's claims to "see a vision" or "God told me such and such". I am not saying God hasn't and doesn't communicate that way, because He has. But as these types of claims tend to be made by people that, to put it charitably, seem to either rely more on emotional hysteria than common sense in their day to day lives, or are trying to make a fast buck, or a million. So, I am skeptical. Again, I know God can communicate anyway He wants, but it seems to me that actual dreams and visions are rare, and that in most claims, I doubt that it was God talking rather than late night indigestion.

Which leads me to my current dilemma. When I was in Russia a month and a half ago, I had a certain dream that I will describe in a few minutes. I had the same dream again last night. Now normally, when I have wild dreams, I chalk it up to my overactive imagination (see my sidebar about me being a frustrated writer), but this time I am wondering.

Anyway, in my first dream, the Russian government passes a 2 part law that effectively expels all foreigners then living in Russia. This law called for all foreigners to leave in a matter of days, and called for all non-personal property, ie cars, flats, furniture and bank accounts over a certain value, to be forfeited by them. In my dream this was causing a great deal of chaos, as our American friends living in Russia scrambled to pack, arrange travel, and housing in America.

The second part was that all "foreign" religions, other than Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, were outlawed, and any Russian national in a non approved religion would have to either convert, leave the country permanently, or face imprisonment. In my dream then, my wife and I helped three students and their non-Orthodox Christian family members navigate through the US immigration bureaucracy to help them get legal asylum in the US, and then two of the families lived with us in our house for a time.

At the time, when I told my wife about this, we both were laughing, and thinking my imagination had run amok overnight once again, and I put it aside.

Until last night.

Last night, I had the same dream, with the same events. Russian government again expelled all foreigners, with only their personal items, and chaos ensues. The government also outlawed all religions except for Orthodox and islam, and wife and I open our home to some Russian Christians and family members we know. However this time, at the end of this dream, I got a strong sense that I was being asked a question - would I be willing to open my home and take my time and limited money to do this? Would I be willing to house and provide shelter for these fellow believers, not just ones I had met in Russia on past trips, but strangers?

The truth is that I don't know. I would like to think I would, but I don't know. In any case, as with the first dream, I am inclined to again chalk up this second dream to my overactive imagination.

Except for this - the Russian government recently changed the visa rules in such a way that it effectively ends the ministry of many Western Christian workers currently living in Russia. It is my understanding that most of these folks are on a multiple entry visa, and now these individuals have to leave the country after 90 days, and cannot return for another 90 days. In addition, they will need to apply for another visa to come back, and whereas before, this application could be made in a neighboring country, such as Finland or the Ukraine, now the applicant has to apply in their home country. This is causing a great deal of confusion, as it is unclear how these new rules will be interpreted by the various Russian embassies and consulates, and many Christian workers are not sure how they can continue to effectively work if they are having to be out of the country for half the year.

More than that, this latest action seems to be part of a trend of a rising Russian hyper-nationalism over the last few years, that as an American who remembers at least part of the Cold War, seems ominous. I say this as someone who greatly admires Russia, and Russian people, some of which I consider to be some of my dearest friends. And I say this as someone who would love nothing better for my Russian friends to see a Russia that is strong, prosperous, and most of all, offering freedom to its citizens and peace to its neighbors. Instead I see a Russia that is strong, and thanks to overly high oil prices, increasingly prosperous. But also Russia where freedom, what post Soviet freedom there was, is in peril. And a Russia where I can certainly see where the religious freedom enjoyed in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union may once again disappear.

It is in light of these recent events, that I wonder if I am off my nut, or if these two dreams may indeed be God trying to get my attention. And if so, what it is He is wanting me to do.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Day 8

Thank God it's Friday.

Yeah yeah, I know that is such a cliche. But I really cannot think of a better way to say what I am thankful for today, other than it is Friday.

Although I am not Jewish, and to my knowledge never have been, there is something about the way the Jewish Sabbath evening is celebrated that strikes something deep and joyful within my soul. I don't know exactly what it is, and perhaps I will never know. Perhaps it is because, in my mind at least, that the Sabbath was meant to be a weekly Thanksgiving Day - a time that is routinely set aside to stop our busyness, to cease from laboring, and to celebrate God's provision and goodness for that week. Not so much out of duty, as out of gratitude, it is altogether proper to celebrate these things; for our ability to work for our living, for our families* and friends that make worthwhile the drudgery of working for a living, and ultimately for life itself.

Shabat shalom.

* at least families as they ideally are.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Day 7

Today I am thankful for a red-light free commute home, a warm happy tail-wagging greeting, and a tasty, quickly prepared supper. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving Day 6

Ok so my car needs fixing - badly - brakes are squealing and growling, and I have no funds to get it done. So I hate my job, and am wanting to get back into a company where I actually know the big boss,. And I am not happy that I wasn't able to afford what I wanted to do for my wife on our recent anniversary, and likely won't be able to do what I want for her upcoming birthday and Christmas.

But I am not going to dwell on that. When I look at my life right now, It is what it is. So, instead I am going to choose to be thankful for what I do have today, instead of resentful for what I don't.

So, I am thankful today that I have a car that (mostly) accomplishes it's task of getting me to and from work, and I am thankful that I have a job at all, and I am glad to know that I have a wife who can write creative, and very funny, pieces like this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 5

Today was the first day that I really began to wonder if I would be able to make it all 30 days. As you probably heard, today was Election Day. And while I am yearly becoming more and more cynical about politics, (or should I say politicians?) and probably could spend another month ranting about how our Republic is in sad shape these days, in keeping with the theme this month, I will refrain.

One thing though that I am thankful for is this - whether or not it is a illusion or no, the fact that we as citizens have the privilege of being able to cast a ballot, and in some small way effect what the Government does (or does to us quoth Cynic-a-moose); this is what I am thankful for today. The universal adult franchise is so radical a notion when you look at the vastness of human history, and specifically the "Grand Experiment" we have had at Constitutional republicanism, is pretty much unmatched. I am at times in awe of the genius and insight into the reality of humanity's innate lust for power over others, that led the US Constitution's framers to create one of the most profound systems of government this world has ever seen.

And I am also thankful that the spiders crawling up my nose last night was only just a bad dream....

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 4

Today I was distracted by much busyness at my work all day long, and I was running to do this and talking to prospects about that, and the next thing I knew, I was in the car on the way home. The ride home was the first time all day that I had to reflect on what I am thankful for today. And between impatience at the drivers who don't seem to understand the concept of "green means go", and the radio antics of Mike and Cobra on The Ticket, it occurred to me that I love work days where I am busy every minute of the time I am at work, as those are the days that go fast.

Especially I love it it the day in question is a Monday or a Friday. So since today was assuredly Monday, I am thankful that I had a busy day, because it means that I can get on with enjoying the rest of the day with the wife and our 4 dog pack.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 3

It is upper 60's today, with little wind and blue sky, so that is what I am thankful for today. So much so that as soon I get done with what I need to get done today, I think I am going outside to enjoy this day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving - Day 2

Today I have two things. First of all, the dogs were fairly quiet this morning, and did not start getting too rambunctious until after 7 AM rather than their usual 5 AM, and they all quickly and quietly did their business outside, came back in, and managed to lay down and be quiet for another hour and a half, allowing me to sleep a bit more.

The second thing I am thankful for today is that the repairs needed on our car, to make it pass inspection, were not more than I had allocated for them, so I didn't have to tap into our gasoline or food money this week.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Month of Thanksgiving

Many years ago, when I was a university student, I was involved, albeit peripherally, with our local Campus Crusade for Christ group. One of the best memories I have is our weekly "Hour of Power" nights, where many of us would gather to sing, fellowship, and afterwards, go do some group activity like bowling or country dancing. One of the songs we would sing had the lyrics "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks."

It is commonly said, almost to the point of being a cliche, that we have so much to be thankful for. So, I am going to put that idea to the test this month, since it is the month where Thanksgiving Day is celebrated.

Every day I am going to make an effort to think (honestly, and not merely for the sake of blog filler) of something in my life that I am thankful for, and why. I don't know that I will succeed in writing something every day, but I am committing to making an effort. And who knows, maybe this will help make me less of a grouch, which will make my wife thankful. And that is always a good thing.

So here goes....

I want to start this month of Thanksgiving by saying that I am thankful for my wife. I am fully aware, often painfully so, that I all too often fail to love her in the way that she would like me to, and I am thankful specifically for her patience and forgiving spirit in spite of my frequent idiocy. We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary a few days ago, and while I was not able to do what I wanted, for financial reasons, I think we had a very good day anyway. After all this time, I am in awe that anyone would love me enough to want to spend her life with me. So there you go....