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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Here Comes Christmas

I was in a department store the other day and ran across a naked Christmas tree next to an aisle of Christmas ornaments and decorations, so I snapped a photo of it with my new/old Blackberry Curve. I know that the commercial aspects of Christmas drives some people crazy—especially when stores begin to display Christmas stuff in September and I understand where they are coming from, but for me, when I see my first Christmas tree in a store, it makes me anticipate the season all the more.

I look forward to the first snow. And to watching Serendipity and You’ve Got Mail. I think I’m going to add The Holiday to my list this year as well. I look forward to getting together with a few friends for a nice steak dinner after we do something for a local charity. And to listening to Christmas music everywhere I go. I look forward to singing Christmas carols in church. And most importantly, I look forward to purposely slowing down the pace of life to think about the Incarnation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Out of Style and Not Caring

PictureWhen did prescription glass frames get so small? I had no idea.

Yesterday, I went to get fitted for a new pair of glasses and the woman who was helping me told me to look at the frames they offer and pick one I liked. She pointed me toward the men’s frames and then let me be. Frame after frame was so dinky that I just couldn’t see myself wearing them. I tried on three pair anyway and I could see around the lenses in every direction. That didn’t make any sense to me. So, I kept looking. Finally, way at the end of the display, I found frames straight out of 1984. Nice big, round ones. And I bought them. I won’t get them for a week though.

As the clerk was ringing me up, I asked her when frame styles got so small.

“Oh, my parents are old school too,” she said.

Okay, that really wasn’t my question and thanks for making me feel 96 years old. I didn’t say that, but I wanted to.

Instead I said, “I’m only in my 40s.”

“My parents are in their 70s, but I'm only about 10 years behind you.”

I didn’t understand where she was going, so I made a lame joke and walked away because sometimes it is best to walk away.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I watched the first episode of FlashForward on Hulu last night. Intriguing stuff. Everybody saw six months into the future. One character saw that he was back on the bottle again. His wife saw herself with another man. One man didn’t see anything, prompting him to believe that he’ll be dead in six months. Another saw newspaper headlines for events that haven't happened yet.

Of course, the show makes you ask yourself—what would you see if your life flashed forward six months? None of these characters had a choice. Now they have to face the present knowing the future. Can they change it? Who knows? That’s why we’ll tune in next time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Hidden Treasure

Last night, a couple of my friends and I went to Half Price Books. It’s not possible for me to go there and spend less than an hour. I prefer three. They have huge CD and DVD sections and more books on their shelves than you can possibly browse in one visit. Most of the merchandise is used. Some of it is new. All of it is at least half price.

They always have CDs on clearance. Last night they had a section of used CDs for $1.00 and $2.00. I found an old Enuff Z’ Nuff CD for $2.00. If you were an 80s child, you might remember them. Their biggest hits were “Fly High Michelle”—a singsongy tune that you either loved or hated (I love it!) and “New Thing”—another singsongy tune you couldn’t help but hum along to. Well, the CD I picked up last night didn’t have those songs on them. But it did have another song I remember called “Right by Your Side.” I even found a video presentation of the song (see below).

By going to the band’s website I learned that they have put out 14 albums. Wow, talk about losing track of a band. I had no idea. It’s sort of like finding a hidden treasure—like when you find a new-to-you author for the first time and then you go back and read everything he or she has ever written. I think I’ll be looking for more of their work in the bargain bin or on ebay since iTunes doesn’t have many of their albums available.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm Getting Old

My doctor has been bugging me to get an eye exam. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes about this time last year and he wants me to get my eyes checked every year. I finally did so yesterday. Eye tests have become quite a bit more elaborate and involved than they used to be. I’ve had the little puff of air blown into my eyes by an optician before and I’ve pushed my face up against those big lens machines before too, but this guy was really thorough.

At one point, as I was looking through the lens machine, he asked me to read a tiny paragraph that he put up on the screen. It was completely fuzzy and way too small for me to even make out one word. Then he flipped to a different lens and I could see every word. He told me that the previous lens was my normal eyesight and the new lens would be my prescription for glasses. But he also said that my eyesight is pretty good overall and that he sees no evidence of Diabetes effecting my eyes. Basically, he said I’m getting old and I need to wear glasses on occasion—especially when I read. So, I’ll be placing an order for a pair this weekend.

Ah, the joys of getting old.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Name of Love

As a single guy, I’m not always the best about keeping the house as tidy as I should, which can lead to some rather comical moments. One of those happened last night. Apparently, I left a cup of Diet Pepsi sitting on an end table long enough for it to catch my beloved cat Midnight’s attention and she simply helped herself. I caught her in the act, but I wasn’t upset with her.

Midnight is 19 years old now. She’s been drinking out of cups her entire life. She’ll drink milk, water, pop, tea, and any sort of flavored drink. I don’t put the cups out for her to drink, she just helps herself to whatever I'm drinking. We have that kind of relationship. We always have.

When she was a kitten, she used to plunge her little head into a cup of whatever I had sitting next to me. She’d drink until she couldn’t get her head in far enough to keep drinking and then she’d take one of her front paws and knock the cup over. That part never thrilled me, but she’s mellowed some in recent years. She still drinks from my cups whenever she wants to, but she doesn’t knock them over when she’s done. Maybe she’s leaving some for me.

I don’t knowingly drink after her, but I’m sure I have done so unknowingly. It’s just one of the little things I tolerate in the name of love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Trees Clap Their Hands

A friend sent me a text recently with a photo attached that he he took of the landscape near the Missouri River early one morning. It’s a breathtaking photo, don't you think? Look at the fog drifting over the grass. Look at the way the sun illuminates the scene, giving it such vibrant color.

It reminds me of what Isaiah 55:8-13 says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

All of creation breaks forth into singing in honor of the Creator. How can we not do the same?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Operation was Successful

Next week I’ll be teaching a workshop called “The Art of Essay Writing.” As part of my preparation I’ve been reading classic essays looking for examples of how one should be written. I came across one called “How It Feels to be Colored Me,” by Zora Neal Hurston written in 1928. Hurston's tombstone described her as, "A genius of the South, novelist, folklorist, anthropologist." She lived from 1891-1960 and speaks frankly in her essay about race from her perspective as an black woman. I find her spirit to be invigorating. Here's a little of what she said:
"Someone is always at my elbow reminding me that I am the granddaughter of slaves. It fails to register depression with me. Slavery is sixty years in the past. The operation was successful and the patient is doing well, thank you. The terrible struggle that made me an American out of a potential slave said 'On the line!' The Reconstruction said 'Get set!' and the generation before said 'Go!' I am off to a flying start and I must not halt in the stretch to look behind and weep. Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and the choice was not with me. It is a bully adventure and worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it. No one on earth ever had a greater chance for glory. The world to be won and nothing to be lost. It is thrilling to think--to know that for any act of mine, I shall get twice as much praise or twice as much blame. It is quite exciting to hold the center of the national stage, with the spectators not knowing whether to laugh or to weep."
Clearly she is saying that a nation can change and when it does it offers people new opportunities. And when opportunity arises we owe it to those who paid the price to get off to a fast start and then, ultimately, to sustain it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Man and His Castle

I’ve grown accustomed to waving at an elderly man who lives in my neighborhood. He sits on his front porch for hours on end when the weather is warm and watches the traffic go by. He’s been doing that for as long as I can remember—although, there was a time in which he seemed to prefer sitting in a chair by the side of his house. As much as I love the fall, I always sort of dread it for his sake because he doesn’t like cool weather and it drives him inside until the following spring.

I’ve been over to his house on a number of occasions. Once I went over to offer to help him get rid of a mattress that was on his front porch. He directed me to his niece who called me and thanked me for being so willing to help because she didn’t know how she was going to get rid of it. I didn’t know how I was going to get rid of it either, but I finally found a friend with a truck who helped me. Another time I went over to his place to check on him after we had a nasty windstorm that knocked down trees and did major damage to some of the houses in our neighborhood. He was fine and I was glad to see he had electricity, because many of us did not.

I never got to know him well. Unfortunately, some idiot(s) robbed him twice at gunpoint over the years while he sat in his yard and understandably that seemed to make him leery of anybody approaching him, so I tried to keep it to a minimum. Over time, I think he got used to me waving at him as I drove by and he started waving back. That was sort of our thing.

One day this summer, I noticed he wasn’t out on his porch. I asked a neighbor about it and he said the man moved into an assisted living facility. I was glad to hear he’s okay, but bummed out to know I wouldn’t see him sitting on his front porch anymore. Recently, his house went up for sale and it sold quickly. But to me, it’ll always be his house.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Love Letter

Over the weekend, I had a chance to spend some time with relatives I have not seen in quite a while. One of them told me a beautiful story I had never heard before about another one of our relatives who died of leukemia in 1994, I believe.

He said she wrote her husband a letter that she wanted him to read after she died. She’d been thinking about what her husband’s life would be like after she was gone and in the letter she told him she had picked out the perfect woman for him to marry after her death. She wrote the woman’s name down along with her phone number. From what I understand, he didn’t call her for quite some time, but eventually he did and now they are married.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Harry the Spider

PictureI'm not afraid of spiders, I just don't like them. I have one who lives on my front porch. His name is Harry, because what else do you name a spider? His spins a mean web and he navigates it rather quickly when I walk by. I snapped this photo of him today and sent it to a friend who probably wasn’t amused because he dislikes spiders more than I do.

So, I’m driving home tonight after spending a nice, quiet evening in a coffee shop watching a singer I know perform his music while I sipped a skinny vanilla latte at a nearby table with some friends. It’s dark outside, which means it’s dark in the car, but half way home I saw something race across the visor over my head. I looked up in time to see a decent sized spider scampering his way around the other side of the visor on my side. I’m not freaked out at this point, but I don’t really want the spider on me. That’s where I draw the line. So, I grabbed my cell phone and squished him.

Mission accomplished, right?


Not more than a minute later, I see another spider. This one is twirling around my rearview mirror. But I lost track of him before I could squish him. Tomorrow, in full daylight, I’m going spider hunting in my car. I probably won’t find any, but you can bet I’ll be looking pretty hard. And you can also bet that if the friend I sent a picture of Harry to reads this, he’ll probably text me saying I got what I deserved.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Compatibility Issues

PictureLast year about this time, I traveled to the Kansas Speedway to cover two NASCAR races for a publication. I'm usually meticulous in making sure I have everything I need before heading into an interview setting. I guess I wasn't so meticulous for the first race because when I went to grab my digital recorder before heading into the track, I couldn't find it. Apparently, I left it back at the hotel. So I ran across the street to Target and picked up another one. Turns out, I liked the new one better because it allows me to save files in mp3 format and that comes in handy when editors ask for the audio interview.

Recently, I picked up a new PC. It's a 64-bit windows machine. I try to stay away from 64-bit machines whenever possible because they are often incompatible with some of the software I run, but finding a 32-bit PC is getting tougher. In fact, the store I went to doesn't carry them any longer, so I was stuck with the 64-bit version. It's a nice machine and all, but after doing a phone interview the other day with a subject for a newspaper article I'm writing, I discovered that my one-year-old digital recorder is incompatible with my new PC. So I had to transfer the file using my 32-bit laptop to an external hard-drive and then I had access to it on my PC.

Before you tell me to go get a Mac, let me just tell you that Macs aren't the answer for me. I've never used one, with one exception. I was at a writer's conference last year and I needed to access a file from my external hard-drive, so a woman I know let me use her Mac. I was completely lost. It took me 20 minutes to find my file. And besides, Macs are too expensive for my blood.

So, back to my story, I guess I'm in the market again for a new, inexpensive digital recorder. I checked around online and so many of them are not compatible with 64-bit machines, which is hard to understand. But it sort of reminded me of what human relationships are like. We can't always know if we are going to be compatible with one another. We can't look on the back of the box for the specifications. We simply have to interact and see if we get any error messages. Even if we do, the nice thing about human interaction is, we don't need to be 100% compatible to be in relationship with one another.

Oh, in case you were wondering . . . the picture above shows my hand, the digital recorder I purchased, and NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd, whom I was interviewing for this article that appeared on the Baptist Press Sports website: Morgan Shepherd's mountain trek provides Christmas blessings.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that my website domain for my primary website had expired (the notifications went to an old email address) and somebody else snagged it. That didn't make me real happy with myself, but that's the price you pay for not staying on top of things. I have no idea what somebody who doesn't share my name would want a website address with my name in it, but I just moved on and set up a new website at www.leewarren.info. I've been thinking about moving my blog home over to that website as well. It makes more sense to have everything on one website. Come on over and check it out if you get a chance. I'd love to see you there. Here's a link to the blog.

Following Through

Last weekend I purchased a used cell phone on ebay. My contract isn't up for quite a while and I've been looking to upgrade, but totally unwilling to pay full retail price, so ebay was the place to go. I was surprised by how expensive even used smart phones can be, but I found one that I liked and hit the "Buy it Now" button.

The woman who was selling the phone said the phone had a few scratches on the back and some surface scratches on the screen. She said she ships immediately; she guaranteed that it had a clear ESN number; and she offered a 30-day money back guarantee on the phone if it didn't work. Of course, such a promises and guarantees are only as good as a person's word.

I got the phone today. When I opened it, the phone was in the exact condition that the seller said it was. I took it to Verizon and the ESN was clear. They didn't charge me to activate the phone, which made me a happy camper. I picked up a nice case for it and I was out of the store in less than 15 minutes.

I'm the type who has to have my gadgets set up just the way I want them: the perfect font size, theme, beeps, etc. That took me much longer to get set up, but as of right now, I have a perfectly functioning new/old phone and I'm extremely happy with the person who sold it to me.

I'm a bit skeptical when it comes to making such purchases because, like most people, I've been burned a time or two. So it's nice to run into somebody who is honest and follows through on her promises.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Fall

Every year, as the U.S. Open tennis tournament draws to a close, the subtleties of fall begin to sneak into play. I looked out the window the other day and noticed that five or six leaves on the tree I was staring at were just starting to turn yellow. It would have been easy to miss--especially considering the schedule I keep sometimes, but I'm glad I didn't miss it this time.

The fall means so many things to me. It means football, cool weather, memories of hay rack rides, the "Great Pumpkin" Peanuts episode, and it means it's time for my annual pilgrimage to New Mexico to teach at a writer's conference while enjoying the company of good friends I haven't seen since the previous conference. It means shutting off the television once in a while and getting lost in a great novel, or even a mediocre one. It means spending Friday nights with friends at a coffee shop. And of course, it means Christmas isn't all that far away.

I'm a bit of a sentimental sap. I admit it. Fall just does something to my sentimental side. It provokes it to wake up and slow down.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Traffic Encounters

I stopped at an intersection this afternoon, with my turning signal on—ready to turn left. A car was coming from the opposite direction, so I waited for him to pass so I could make the turn. Another car stopped behind me and waited for me to make the turn. He had no choice. The approaching car stopped and turned to the right into a place of business—never even getting as far my car or the car behind me. No turning signal; no regard for me or the people in the car behind me. It irritated me, but it won't be the last time I get irritated in traffic.

A couple of minutes later, as I was pulling out of a parking lot, another car approached the same exit I was headed toward. He didn't see me at first, but from what I could tell, he had the right away, and even if he didn't, I knew he hadn't seen me, so I slowed down to let him go. He noticed me then and stopped. I waved him on and he put a hand up thanking me. And then he did it a second time. As you might imagine, I had a much different attitude about this driver than the one I encountered just a few minutes prior.

You never know what is going on in another driver's head. He or she might have just received terrible news and is consequently distracted. Maybe he or she is headed home to care for a terminally ill spouse or child and the thought of doing it for even one more day seems too much to bear. Or yeah, maybe the other driver is totally self-absorbed and doesn't care about treating other drivers with courtesy. But with so many other possibilities, it makes me want to give other drivers the benefit of the doubt.
Photo credit: Rita Mezzela

Monday, September 07, 2009

Melanie Oudin: Believe

Before the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Melanie Oudin designed a tennis shoe for Adidas with the word "believe" stamped on her heels. That should tell you a lot about her fighting spirit. The 17-year-old set a goal for herself at the beginning of the year to make it into the main draw of the U.S. Open. She did. But the 5' 6", 130 pound ball of tenacity wasn't content to simply show up. Once she made it into the draw, it was time to fight.

She won her first round match. In the second round, she shocked the tennis world by defeating Elena Dementieva, who was seeded number four. Oudin's belief grew. Then she knocked former number one player in the world, Maria Sharapova, out of the tournament and not only did Melanie's belief grow, but ours did too.

Check out this video on YouTube, shot by somebody who was in the crowd. It's the last point of the match; pay special attention to the left side of screen--when a woman shouts "We believe" and see if doesn't give you goosebumps. Then watch what belief looks like when the crowd reacts to Oudin's win.

Most recently, Oudin came from behind to beat Nadia Petrova, the ninth seeded player, to make it to the quarterfinals. Who knows where her run will end? Personally, I'd like to see her win it all. Imagine how the crowd would react if that happened.


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