I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Tidbits

Have you seen the promotion that Pepsi and Amazon.com are running? If you buy Pepsi products, you can enter the codes on a website and once you've built up enough points, you can download music for free from Amazon.com. I'm not really a coupon or a promotions kind of guy, but when a promotion comes along for something I already use, I take advantage of it. But I had a problem. As I went to enter the codes on the website, I couldn't find the codes on my 20 ounce bottles of Pepsi. I read every word on the label. I looked under the label. Then I checked it all again. Nothing. I griped about it to a friend and he asked me if I'd looked under the cap. Oh. Well, I think I did. Turns out, I didn't. For those of you who are as dense as I am, the codes are under the cap.

So, I'm sitting at the table in my bowling league the other night, waiting for my turn to bowl, and I see the standings sheet. I flip it over and notice something I've never seen before--a section that lists all of the "temporary substitutes." That phrase played with my mind. Doesn't the word "substitute" insinuate that eventually, probably sooner rather than later, the original will appear, thereby making the substitute temporary? So, why the redundancy? Yeah, I know, I should should concentrate more on bowling than on the words on the bowling sheet. But hey, I'm a word guy.

I heard another funny one-liner by a sports announcer last night. I was watching a little bowling (something I rarely do) as I drifted off to sleep and I saw a guy apparently leave a ten pin--but not really. The head pin deflected off the side wall and rolled over to take out the ten to complete the strike. The announcer said: "It goes down like a keg at a frat party." You just know that the announcer has been saving that one for the perfect opportunity.

I read a story in Anne Lamott's book, Plan B, this week about how her teenage son kept coming up with new pet words as he was growing up. As she wrote that particular chapter, his latest word was "random." So, in the middle of a conversation he might say, "That was random Mom." It reminded me of a woman I used to know. She used the word "crunchy" in place of the word "weird" and I always thought that was so funny. I love it when a book can make you remember something you haven't thought about in years.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. Dies

I was upset to hear that William F. Buckley Jr. died yesterday at the age of 82. He'd been suffering with diabetes and emphysema, but we don't really know what happened yet. His son said that Buckley was found at his desk and may have been working on his column--which for any writer--is the perfect way to go out.

Ironically, a while back, I picked up two books by Buckley: Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith and Let Us Talk of Many Things: The Collected Speeches. I haven't read either book, but I plan to soon. Buckley has always intrigued me. His political views were somewhere between libertarianism and old right conservatism (which pretty much describes my own political views). He couldn't identify with the neoconservatism of today, and neither can I.

But he seemed bigger than politics. By late yesterday afternoon, I found 59 articles on the web that had already been written about his death. Certainly his death was newsworthy. He started National Review magazine, which was said to have influenced Ronald Reagan's politics. But more than that, he was a man who wasn't beholden to a particular political party. And he had a personality that most people loved. He could be feisty and he wasn't afraid to punch back at times, but by and large, he respected people and I love that. Here's how he was portrayed yesterday in a Bloomberg article:

Known for nurturing writing talent regardless of political leaning, Buckley counted among his proteges conservative columnists David Brooks and George Will, liberal writer Garry Wills and early contributors to the magazine Joan Didion and Arlene Croce.

While his detractors came largely from the left, and included author Gore Vidal, Buckley was also criticized by supporters of "Objectivist'' conservative Ayn Rand and the ultra-right John Birch Society.

I love what the New York Times said about him yesterday:

Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, "Firing Line," and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine National Review.

Buckley's wife, Patricia Alden Austin Taylor, died in April of 2007. They called each other "Ducky," for who knows what reason. Life couldn't have been the same for him without her these past ten months. But like others who loose their spouse, he found the will to go and with his work.

I know I've said this many times before, but I am always grateful for the writing legacy a person can leave behind. As my own political views have been shaped over the past couple of decades and as I've found myself closer to Buckley's views than the vast majority of what passes today for conservatism, I always knew in the back of my mind that I would feast on his writings one day.

Buckley wrote more than 55 books, some of which were novels, and approximately 4.5 million words in his 5,600 newspaper columns which, according to the New York Times would fill 45 more medium-sized books. I'm looking forward to diving in reading many of those words. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Definitely, Maybe

I went to see Definitely, Maybe last night and it was quite a story. One slice of the story line intrigued me most. In a roundabout way, by my talking about this story line, I'll be giving away part of the movie, so consider this a spoiler alert. The story line that intrigued me follows the relationship between Will and April--two friends who often wanted more from their relationship, but the timing never seemed to be right. Early on in their friendship, Will sees that April has several dozen copies of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in her living room and he asks her about it.

She tells him that when she was little, her father gave her a copy of the book with a beautiful inscription to her, but that somehow the book had gotten lost in the shuffle of life, and she's been looking for it ever since in used bookstores. She tells him that she has developed a thing for inscribed copies of this book, even though the inscriptions aren't to her. So, every time she finds an inscribed copy of the book, she buys it. I'm guessing that by purchasing inscribed copies of the book, she feels just a little closer to her now deceased father, even though she can't find the copy he gave her.

After much time has passed, Will walks by a used book store and sees an old copy of the book displayed in the window. He walks in, opens the cover, and it is the one. He buys it and heads to April's place to give it to her, but he finds out that she is with another man, and it's more than he can take, so he buries the book in his own stuff at home and it sits there for several years. Eventually he finds it and returns it to her. It's such a tender moment when she gingerly opens the book to see her father's handwriting. Unfortunately, the scene ends horribly because Will tells her that he's had it for years but just couldn't seem to give it to her.

They don't see each other for a long while after that, but when he finally gets up the nerve to see her again, he tells her that the reason he didn't give it to her before was because it was all that he had left of her. I love what he said to her. It was perfect. The funny thing is, I'm a Christian and things aren't supposed to mean that much to me. But I still thought that what Will said to April was perfect. Things like inscribed books from loved ones may indeed be temporal, but they are also tangible pieces of love, and that can never be a bad thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Samuel Pepys, The Diarist

During the February 23, 2008 broadcast of The Writer's Almanac radio show hosted by Garrison Keillor, Keillor told his audience about Samuel Pepys (pronounced "Peeps"), a diarist from London who lived from 1633-1703. I found the brief history lesson about Pepys to be fascinating.

Pepys made a New Years resolution to start keeping a diary, and started on January 1, 1660. He recorded all sorts of details about his life, including his infidelity. But he also wrote about things like the coronation of Charles II in 1660, the great plague of 1665, and the great fire in London in 1666. Only one newspaper existed in London at the time, and it was controlled by the government, so English historians have relied heavily on Pepys' diaries to understand what was going on in England at the time.

Pepys never intended for his diaries to be read by others, so he used bits and pieces of shorthand, Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, German, and his own secret codes. He stopped writing his diaries in 1669, and it was more than a hundred years before his codes were cracked and his diaries were published. There's probably an inherent lesson in this for anybody who thinks he or she is writing something that nobody will ever read.

Given the fact that Pepys didn't write for an audience, I find it ironic that his personal writings were used to piece together the history of England during that time period. He probably wrote for the same reason that so many other diarists write--to be able to point to something tangible that proves they lived. Life goes by in such a blur and it's easy to forget yesterday, and last year, and even complete decades.

I feel the need to keep a journal for that very reason, but I don't write in it often enough. Hearing this story about Samuel Pepys might be a good motivator.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Using Gifts

I have an aunt I don't get to see very often, but she's good about sending cards and letters (better than I am) to keep in touch. She's lived a fascinating life. She used to be a city council member of a city in Arkansas. She ran for mayor when she lived in a fairly large city in Florida. And she's am amazing artist.

Over the years, she has painted or drawn a number of pictures for my mom and mom has them prominently displayed all over her house. Mom got a letter from her the other day and my aunt told my mom to ask me what what sort of landscape I would like for Christmas because she plans to create a picture for me as a gift. I was so excited. I chose a pond or a stream, surrounded by trees, with mountains in the background. It's only February and I'm already looking forward to receiving it.

Art has been one of the things in my aunt's life that has pulled her through heartache. Her husband died about 15 years ago and they had been together since they were quite young. I don't think either one of them could ever imagine being with anybody else. My aunt has never gotten remarried. Instead, she's helped her children with their children. She's active in her community. And like I said, she has her art--which I think is so cool.

She continues to practice it and not only does she practice it, but she's using it to bring joy to others. I hope I'm doing the same thing with my writing in twenty or thirty years.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Tidbits

This was one of those rare weeks in which I stayed home at night for most of the week. Of course, I worked late up into the night most nights, but sometimes that's what you have to do. I'm looking forward to a little less work next week and a little more fun. And I'm sure I'll rest in between the fun. Yeah, right.

I took a different route into my neighborhood the other day. I live in the house I grew up in and I have certain memories of the way things ought to look at the park just a few blocks away and of the grade school that I attended when I was young, but driving past these areas now always shocks my system. I see a park that has been revamped (in a good way) and an old school that has been converted to apartments and something inside me seems unwilling to accept all this newness.

I've been using my DVR and iPod to death in recent weeks. Not only can I listen to any of my music any time I want to with my iPod, but I also have iTunes set up to download different radio shows and other podcasts that I enjoy, so I always have something to listen to in the car. But I've noticed that between the DVR and iPod, I don't watch as much news as I used to and I don't know about current events as quickly as I should. I'm sure a little balance is in order.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Image Verification

Early this morning, I needed access to something online and I came across one of those image verification pictures. You know the ones--banks and other institutions imbed numbers and letters into a picture of swirls and dashes and all sorts of things.

For the record, I hate those things. I understand why they exist, and I even use it here at Little Nuances to keep comment spam to a minimum, but still, they get on my nerves.

The first code I was prompted to put into the box was nearly indecipherable. The background was dark gray and the letters were light green, so I took a guess. And got an error message.

Another code popped up.

"Is that an "I" or an 'l" or a "1"? I had no idea. I moved my laptop computer screen to get a better angle, but to no avail, so I took a guess and tried the "I." Another error message.

The third time around, I noticed that the background was lighter and the numbers were darker, and I could actually make out the code. Of course, this time I got a "maintenance" error, so I still couldn't get to the information I wanted, but it reminded me that life is often a process.

I try to do something and often fail. Then I try again and fail again. I re-evaluate, double-check what I'm doing, make adjustments, and plunge in again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I've noticed that the more I stick with something, the clearer it becomes--sort of like the way the background and code on the image verification picture became clearer as I went. Eventually it's clear enough to actually see.

Sometimes, even after all of that, I still get maintenance errors, and that's okay. I least I know that I've gotten as far as I'm supposed to, and that's a good place to be.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Odds N' Ends

Woke up this morning to -7 degree temperatures (with a -20 wind chill) and it's still hovering at that same mark as I write this. Schools are shut down and I don't see many cars passing by my house this morning. I'm guessing that a lot of cars didn't start. It's days like this that make me happy to be working from home.

I haven't had much of a chance to settle in with a good book lately and I haven't seen any good movies lately either. And that's kind of bumming me out because I'm soooo in the mood to sink my teeth into a great story right now. I've just been a little too busy with work and the rest of life to be able to pull it off. It looks like things are going to slow down a little next week, so I'm holding out hope.

I have been keeping up with the blogs I love to read. I've been using Bloglines and I'm loving it. I signed up for the service several years ago but never did anything with it. I love the service because it works better than most of the aggregators I've used (meaning it actually updates itself when a blog is updated rather than being hit and miss). And I love to see new posts piling into my feeds section throughout the day because I know that during lunch or sometime that night I'm going to be able to settle in for a little inspiration.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Way I Was Raised

A couple of DJ's on a local radio station were asking a question this morning that is bound to light up the switchboard: Do you do anything differently than your parents did? The underlying question is probably: Do you make your kids eat peas if they don't want to? But I'm sure it could be expanded to topics like work ethic, finances, and the way one treats his or her neighbor.

Something bugs me about the original question though. It seems to assume that our parents operated autonomously--as if they were parenting in a void free from their own upbringing "issues" and free from difficult circumstances. The idea that our parents weren't influenced by their parents or that their circumstances didn't have anything to do with the way they lived and parented is no more true than it is in our own lives. To varying degrees, we're all products of the way we were raised and the situations we had to face.

So, maybe the question should be: Do you ever do things differently than the way things have always been done in your family? If so, why? I'd be interested in hearing those answers.

Wouldn't it be nice if one generation could spot the flaws of previous generations and then make the necessary corrections? Sure it would, but we're talking in the abstract. I think all of us have thought, "I'll never do that when I get older," only to find ourselves doing that very thing. So I tend to go pretty easy on my parents when it comes to my own upbringing.

How about you?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tales from the Road

So, I drove to a friend's house on Saturday so we could drive together to the state bowling tournament. We're both big guys, and we ended up squeezing into a rather small Nissan something or other. I'm sure it had to look pretty funny if anybody was paying attention. He tends to drive a little faster than I do and I think I said, "We're going to die," or some variation thereof, about six times before we arrived "safely" at our hotel.

So, we hung out at the hotel for a couple of hours and then headed to the bowling alley. He'd been there before and was pretty sure he remembered where it was located. After driving across town and ending up in the boonies, he was pretty sure he couldn't remember exactly where it was. So, I pulled out my trusty Blackberry and attempted to google the name of the bowling alley--only he gave me the wrong name and I couldn't find it. Eventually he figured it out and I was able to find the address.

We pulled up to the bowling alley with a little time to spare, no pun intended, and as we were getting our bowling balls out of our trunk, he said, "You're going to blog about this, aren't you?" "Yeah, I'm sure I will," I said. How could I not? The place was packed and I got a little nervous when I seen someone laying down fresh oil on the lanes. Oil is usually not my friend on the bowling alley--especially in tournaments. In my experience, tournaments often flood the lanes with oil to make the shot tougher, and I'm not good enough to compensate for it.

I don't know what happened, but I was able to find a decent line and I ended up shooting a 572 for my first of three series. I was happy with that. Things didn't work out so well the next day. I didn't hit 500 in either doubles or singles. From what I saw, not many people were bowling well, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

On the way home, my friend and I ran through a drive-through to get a quick lunch. Unfortunately, we didn't get our complete order and we didn't realize that until we were twenty miles down the road. And the food we did get wasn't the best. My sandwich was soggy and my friend's sandwich wasn't done the way he ordered it. He called the place and they are supposed to make things right.

After we'd been on the road for a while, we stopped at a gas station called "Get N' Split," which I misidentified as "Get N' Spit" which sort of grossed me out and made me laugh when I realized my mistake. As I got out of the car, I discovered that the remains of the food we hadn't eaten had seeped through the bag and I ended up with a tomato on my seat. That wasn't a pretty sight.

The rest of the trip went pretty well. I said, "We're going to die" another dozen times, because that's just what I do. And just like that, the trip was over, I say in my best Forrest Gump impersonation.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Tidbits

I'm looking forward to bowling in the Nebraska State Bowling tournament this weekend. I've been bowling half way decent in recent weeks, but I'm sure once I get there, the shot will be so difficult that I have no idea how to overcome it. But that's okay; it's a mini-road trip and it'll be fun to get away for a while.

Ever since I saw the previews for Juno a few months ago, I've wanted to see the movie. Finally saw it the other night and wasn't all that impressed. It sort of felt like Napoleon Dynamite, Part 2 and since I didn't really understand Part 1, I was really lost in Part 2. But maybe it was just me.

Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this week and the Daytona 500 is this weekend. I love this time of year!

I finished reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott this week and I started her follow up book, Plan B. Speaking of Plan B, it's probably an excellent name for a book given the quote I heard recently: "If you have to resort to Plan B, then Plan A probably wasn't the greatest." I have no idea who said it and I couldn't write it down because I was driving when I heard it so the quote might not be perfect, but you get the idea.

I'm sort of irritated with my laptop right now. We're still on speaking terms, but we both know how unhappy we are together. I'm sick and tired of a battery that lasts no longer than 50 minutes when I need it to last about three to four hours and I'm sure she's sick and tired of me asking her to run multiple applications at once and pushing her harder than she was designed for. I've tried to be nice. I bought her and extra gig and a half of RAM, but whoever said that RAM is a laptop's best friend probably hasn't met my laptop.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Passion

I know that people are probably expecting me to write something mushy today since it's Valentine's Day, but I think I'll talk about NASCAR instead. The Duels are this afternoon, which means I'm going to have a long day attempting to get in a full days worth of work, plus watch a little racing.

If racing isn't your thing, I won't bore you with any more details. But NASCAR has been one of those passions in my life that I love to share with other people. I went to a work meeting the other day and found out that a woman I know is really into NASCAR. Her whole family is into it. So we talked about our favorite drivers and how crazy we are about the sport and I'm sure that the next time I see her we'll continue our conversation.

That's one of the cool things I love about blogs. I love hearing about other people's passions. I love to hear why people love something and I love to see them break it down--to go deep into their passion. Sometimes I get lost in the translation, but that's okay. I find it enjoyable to just be part of the process--even if I'm just looking in from the outside.

So there you have it. I wrote a post about passion on Valentine's Day. Everybody should be happy. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Floorboard Creaks

Remember when you were young and you would come home a little later than you were supposed to and you'd forget about the stupid floorboard creak in the living room and it would totally bust you? Maybe that does describe you and maybe it doesn't, but I bet you can remember at least one creak from the house you grew up in.

We're older now, and don't have to worry about getting busted by accidentally stepping on a nark, but you probably still know exactly where each floorboard creak is in your home. I do too.

I live in an old house--one that is full of floorboard creaks. Each creak has its own character and seems to say something different. The creak that is a step or two into the living room from the kitchen says, "Ouuuuch." At least, that's what it sounds like. And the one by my recliner says, "Welcome home." I'm not kidding. Well, it probably could be any three syllable phrase, but after all these years, I'm pretty sure I can understand its voice.

Each creak has a unique voice, and each one invokes a different emotion in me when I'm actually paying attention. The creak by my front door seems to be a cheery sendoff. When I come home, that same creak brings a sense of comfort, almost as if the house has been waiting for me. There's a creak by my bedroom door that I'm not all that fond of. I've never really liked going to bed at night, so it sort of mocks me when I finally decide to do so, and I'm not really a morning person, so it continues to mock me as I leave my bedroom to start the day.

Whenever I go into somebody's house or apartment, I often wonder what their floorboard creaks are going to say. It takes a while to know their voice and to understand their personality. And sometimes they are a little shy. They seem to prefer their residents over strangers and I understand that, but it's still fun to try to figure them out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad

Today would have been my dad's 72nd birthday. He's been gone for nearly eight years now. I still have a hard time believing that. I see him in so many places. I see the inscriptions he used to write inside the books he'd buy for me. I see his golf clubs in my basement. His picture hangs on one of my walls. I have a thick folder full of letters he wrote to me over the years. And I even have a couple of audio recordings of voice messages he left for me many years ago.

His philosophies about life linger as well--some of which I agreed with, some of which I didn't. Let me tell you about a few of the ones I agreed with. He had this theory that used to crack me up. He said that the system was fine; it was the people who screwed it up. He never had a lot of money, but he rarely passed up the red kettle at Christmas. He thought that if you had a couple of extras dollars in your pocket that you owed it to people to help. He also had this belief that you shouldn't laugh at other people--even if the situation warranted it.

One time, when I was in my teens, he took me and one of my friends golfing. My friend was athletic but he'd never golfed before. I wasn't exactly Jack Nicklaus either, but I was able to make contact with the ball, and that was always a good thing. Well, this friend of mine made contact off the first tee. He sized up his next shot, probably using a three wood, and he swung and missed. I started to giggle a little. Then he swung and missed again. I giggled some more and Dad noticed it. We were sitting in the golf cart next to each other. He looked over at me and shook his head. After my friend finally made contact and got into his cart, Dad said, "Don't laugh at people, son." I can't say that I've always adhered to what he said, but it has always stuck with me.

Here's one of my favorite pictures of him:

Dad became a computer person later in his life. He loved everything about them. He kept in touch via email, although he still seemed to prefer letters. He tore computers apart and put them back together again. He became somewhat of a computer expert, helping friends to get their first computers, and then helping them to learn how to work them. Unfortunately, he died in 2000--before smart phones came along, and before GPS and Wi-Fi. He would be amazed at the technology we have available today. And I suspect he'd be using it for all it's worth.

I think about these things often, but especially on his birthday, wishing I had one more chance to spend a day with him. To hear his voice. To catch his wisdom. And to see his eyes stare back into mine. His eyes spoke. You could tell if he was in pain or if he felt for you or if he was angry. All you had to do was look into his eyes.

Anyway, I'd like to have one more nice long conversation with him. He'd ask me what was going on in my life. He'd listen, offer a little advice, and then let silence have its way with us. I'd ask him about his life and he'd tell me that he was fine even though his eyes would probably tell me something different. Silence would do its thing again. Then we'd talk politics. I'm sure of it.

But of course, one day wouldn't be long enough. I'd still be left with the memories after that day was over--many of the same memories that I grasp on to today. And while they are never enough, they seem to contain enough power to sustain a person.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Comfortable Stuff

Many years ago, I bought my beloved cat, Midnight, a stuffed rainbow-colored stocking thinking that she might like it. She more than liked it. She adored it. She carried it around in her mouth. She tossed it in the air. She beat the living daylights out of it. And it's been looking a little worse for the wear for a long time. But I'll never throw it away. I understand comfort.

I bought a $4 tee-shirt off a clearance rack about 15 years ago. It was lime green and it had a cartoon on it. The cartoon depicted Richard Nixon and underneath him the shirt said, "He's tanned, rested, and ready" [presumably to return to office]. I was never really a Nixon fan. In fact, he was a little before my time. But I thought the shirt was funny and the price was right, so I bought it. It fit perfectly and I wore it until it became a rag.

In 1998, I bought a Bible and after reading through it a couple of times, the cover began to look ragged. Then it started to fall apart. So, I taped it together and I still use it. I've re-taped it several times, but I can't imagine ever getting rid of it. I've made so many notes in it. And I can remember exactly where certain passages are on the page. No way am I getting rid of it--no matter how tattered it becomes.

Some people get excited about new stuff. I'm that way with cars and computers and a few other gadgets. But by and large, I'd rather keep my old, worn out, comfy stuff. Yeah I'm sentimental. But it's more than that. It's hard to find the "perfect" anything. Once I do, I hardly see the point in trying to improve upon it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Tidbits

I'm reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott right now. She starts one chapter this way: "Broken things have been on my mind lately because so much has broken in my life this year and in the lives of the people I love--hearts, health, confidence." Broken things are all around us; broken people, broken promises, broken motivations. But the thing is, brokenness isn't just around us. It is in us as well. We just don't like to admit it. 

I ordered a few more books recently to add to my "to be read" pile. I've never read Christy by Catherine Marshall, so I ordered that. I also ordered Coach's Challenge by Mike Gottfried with Ron Benson. I'm proud to call Ron a friend. He's also a great writer and a fellow blogger. Check out Grace Clinic if you get a chance. Finally, I ordered a book called Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story by Cindy Thomson and Scott Brown. It's a book about a guy who lost two of his fingers in a farming accident in the early 1900's, but still went on to pitch in the major leagues.

So the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl last weekend. I was glad to see it. Maybe it's just me, but the Patriots seem to be full of themselves. Or at least they did before they lost. Of course, they do play in the AFC, the same conference in which my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play, so I might be showing a little bias.

We had another five or six inches of snow here in Nebraska a couple of days ago. And we've had snow on the ground since November. But I'm still not tired of it. Give me this weather any day over a sunny hundred degree day. Of course, there's a lot of room between the two extremes and with baseball season on the way, I'm also ready for some middle ground.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Meaning of Names

I watched an old episode of Sanford and Son last night. Well, there aren't any new episodes being made, but you know what I mean. During this episode, one of Fred's friends died and Fred and his friends gathered back at his house after the funeral. Remember Grady – the guy who Fred sometimes called a "big dummy"? During this episode he called him "Shady Grady." I guess that was his nickname. I can't remember why he earned that nickname, but it made me think about the meaning of names.

As you probably know, some ancient customs led people to name their children based on something they knew about them at the time of their birth. In Genesis 25, Isaac and Rebekah named their children Esau (which means "hairy" because he "came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak") and Jacob (which means "takes by the heal" or "he cheats" because he "came out with his hand holding Esau's heel").

Sometimes babies grew into their names. David became known as a man after God's own heart. His name meant "beloved." Moses delivered God's people out of bondage. His name meant "son" or maybe "deliver." If this sort of thing fascinates you, I found a cool website called Behind the Name. Check it out.

Of course, not all of the names in the Bible were positive in nature.Some reflected negatives character or physical traits. That takes us back to Shady Grady.

In modern culture, we tend to use nicknames rather than naming our children with some specific character or physical trait in mind. I don't remember Grady's character well enough to know if he wore his nickname with a badge of honor or if he hated it. But one thing is for sure. People become known by what they do and who they are, for better or worse.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Bucket List

I went to see The Bucket List last night. I won't give anything away in this post. I just want to talk about one scene that really moved me.

You probably know the plot of the movie: It's about two terminally ill men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who don't know each other before being stricken with caner and being placed in the same hospital room. They compile a "bucket list" (a list of things to do before a person "kicks the bucket") and then set about to complete it. The idea for the list comes from an old college professor of one of the men. It was supposed to be a philosophical exercise for students. But forget the exercise. These men plan to follow through with it. And what follows is a beautiful story about their pursuit.

Early on in the movie, minutes after they both receive the news that they have a year or less to live, they make a decision with mortality staring them in the face. The rise from their hospital beds and play cards. It's the most mundane thing they probably could have chosen to do, but it was sort of their thing. In between the violent reactions to the chemotherapy and the surgeries, they play cards. So, their doing so after receiving such devastating news was their way of saying that they were not going to give up.

The scene didn't last long, and it would have been easy to miss. But it stuck with me long after the movie was over. And it made me wonder how I would react to such news. Would I play cards--metaphorically speaking? I don't know. I'd like to think I would.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Funny One-liners

Sports announcers are famous for using clich├ęs. But once in a while, one of them will come up with a phrase or a new twist that really cracks me up. I was playing a video baseball game over the weekend and I was losing 5-3 going into the ninth inning. The announcer said, “This is it. Last chance for romance.” How could I not laugh at that? It’s hilarious.

It got me to thinking about some of my favorite one-liners from announcers. I read one that Mike Lange, the Pittsburgh Penguins TV announcer, reportedly says: "Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll!" I don’t know anything about hockey, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the team with the puck has a breakaway opportunity and they are closing in on the goalie.

Here’s another one: “Break out the rye bread and the mustard, it’s a grand salami.” An announcer for the Seattle Mariners says this when one of the Mariner’s hits a grand slam home run. He says it with so much enthusiasm that it just totally cracks me up.

Somebody on ESPN, maybe it was Craig Kilborn, used to say, “He’s got 99 problems, but that pitch ain’t one.” It makes you think for a second, and then laugh. And laughing is one of my favorite things.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Small Things

I've always been one of those types of people who notices initials carved in windowsills or little smudges on the wall, but who fails to notice things like the color of a room or new furniture. Just ask the guys on my bowling team about how much I'm bothered by little marks on the approach. None of them even notice such things until I gripe about them.

It'd be nice if I had a more balanced perspective. I'd like to notice the big things, but small things seem to fascinate me more. They also have a story behind them that threatens to never be heard because the big things get all the attention. Small things seem so vulnerable--as if they could be snuffed out at any second. And oftentimes, then can be. It's much harder to hide a new piece of furniture than it is to paint over a smudge on the wall.

A few years ago, my then 14-year old niece stayed with me for a couple of months. We had a couple of battles about the amount of makeup she was going to wear. One day I went into the bathroom and noticed a tiny pink blob of makeup on the wall (probably an indication that she had on wayyyyyyy too much that day, wouldn't you say?). That spot on the wall has a story behind it. It's one of the reasons I've never washed it off.

So, while I'd live to have a more balanced perspective, in some crazy way, I feel like a champion for the small things in life. So I think I'll leave the big stuff to other people while I continue to take note of the small things.

Friday, February 01, 2008


How in the world can it be February already? I just got my Christmas tree down last week.

So, who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl? This particular match up doesn't interest me much because I'm not a fan of either team. I expect New England to win, but I guess I'll be rooting for the Giants. But what I'm really rooting for is for the NASCAR season to begin and it does just that a week from tomorrow with the Bud Shootout.

I have some sad news to report. Last May I wrote a post about a man named Dewaine Gahan, a newspaper man in small town Nebraska who everybody seemed to love. He's been battling cancer and yesterday he died in his home at the age of 57. I never met Dewaine, but I've read several articles about him and it's easy to see why he was loved by so many. Read my previous post about him if you'd like to know more about who he was. Obviously, he'll be missed.

The mystery of my missing G2 pen has been solved (see yesterday's post). Well, I'm not so sure that the mystery has been solved, but at least my pen has been found. Investigators are still trying to determine whether I lost it or whether Clanci nabbed it when I wasn't looking.

I just did the February 1 drawing out of the pool of Little Nuances subscribers and I'll be notifying the winner shortly. She has won a free copy of my singles devotional book: "Single Servings: 90 Devotions to Feed Your Soul." If you'd like to be eligible for giveaways in the future, just place your email address in the subscription box in the upper right hand corner of the page and you'll be all set. If you are already a subscriber, then you are eligible.

Have a great weekend everybody!


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