Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fleeting Moment

I never really understood. I couldn't completely understand what Jesus meant when he said "they have eyes but can't see, ears but can't hear." Gradually, I have come to understand that it is me. There is so much that is beautiful and amazing that I fail to see every day. People are sending messages all the time that zoom past me. Slowly....ever so slowly....I am beginning to see and hear. As I cross the bridge over the Tallapoosa River each morning on my drive to work, I am amazed at the different views offered by the changing seasons, the time change, the weather changes and other influences. Some mornings I pass just as the Sun has risen enough to shine through the opening in the bend of the river and I think "I should stop and take a few pictures." But it is on a bridge. Traffic is dangerous. I need to get to work on time. Tuesday I pulled my camera out and took it from its case just before driving onto the bridge. It was a clear, cold day after a day of light rain. I expected there to be some fog rising from the river with sunshine filtering through. As I approached the bridge, I moved to the right lane and signaled a right turn. This probably concerned the truck behind me that I was going to turn off the bridge. There is just enough room to park right of the lane and about half way across, I turned on the flashers and stopped. After walking around to the front of the truck I took a few pictures of the river with fog rising just as the Sun rose over the trees. Total time=3 minutes. Late to work=1minute. Clarity and photo quality=mediocre. Value of the image captured to me=priceless.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hypocrites Annonymous

My name is Roxy Wishum and I am a hypocrite. I never meant to become a hypocrite, it just happened. It hurts to admit it, even now. You see, I like to portray myself as a sort of athlete. I even believed it myself for years. I want to believe it now. At times, I can look in the mirror and see a lean, athletic man full of energy and looking for the next adventure. The truth is I am fat. Sure, the rest of you already knew it. But I have denied it for years. Oh, I might give in to terms like "a little overweight" but "fat" seems such an ugly word. A fighting word--like short. Great day! It just hit me, I am short AND fat!

That is why I am here at Hypocrites Anonymous (HA). I don't want to be a hypocrite anymore. I don't want to be fat. I am tired of the "rollover" and the big shirts. I hope HA can help me become the athlete I was meant to be.

So, this is the first check-in of HA and there will be one each month until the goal is attained. That will probably be boring reading, but it is necessary for me to make myself accountable. At times I will post details of the HA regimen but for now here is the goal; 175 by March 8! That is my birthday and is about 4 months away meaning 32 pounds in 4 months or and average of 8 per month. Yes, it is a tough challenge and may be too much. But the toying with it and yo-yo loss and gain process has gone on too long. Check back on or around December 8 to see if I survived Thanksgiving and got on track. If I don't meet the goal the first month, the rest of them will REALLY be uphill.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What if?

It has been one week since we elected Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States of America. I highlighted "united" because I believe it stands for more than just the proper name for our country. We all know that we have not always been united as states. In some ways we are not now. However, since the election it has been refreshing to see the response from the loosing side. McCain came out Tuesday evening and gave a gracious speech conceding the election. I have not seen any racist groups making fools of themselves about the election of an African-American as president. I personally voted for the losing team because I thought they would do less damage to the economy and judicial system. But I have not protested the outcome. The majority chose Obama and Obama it shall be. I will support him as president, pray for him, and attempt to avoid saying harsh, negative things about him. I do not promise to agree with every decision and probably will not. I hope, however, that I will not talk about him in the hateful way so many now talk about President Bush. Mr. Obama has begun receiving briefings and probably has become aware of much information since being elected. The weight begins to build. Can you imagine how much the president knows that we do not? Can you imagine how difficult it must be to refrain from using that information to defend your actions when you are vilified in the media? President Bush has taken a lot.

Here is the "what if"? What if everybody who voted for McCain (pretty close to half the voters in the country) chose to act like the actors and homosexuals in California have since not getting their way? What if we blocked traffic in all the cities? What if we declared, as Melissa Ethridge has done, that we will not pay our taxes? If we can just declare ourselves tax-free, why not make ourselves exempt from all laws?

Barack Obama received nearly 100% of the black vote in the recent election. That, however, is less than 20% of the total population. Obama was not and could not be elected by black citizens. While he received less than half the white vote, it was close enough to half to ensure his victory. That means that many, many folks are able to see a perspective other than their own and vote for someone who is different from themselves. That quality exists in California as was proved by the presidential vote there. But the majority of the citizens, thankfully, still recognize that homosexuality is wrong behavior and not just a difference that one is born with.

So our message to the millionaire, homosexual, spoiled actors and musicians is this; SHUT-UP! GROW UP! And find something productive to do with your time and energy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Be Happy!

Do you agree or disagree with this thought? Does it seem too simple?

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who sought and found out how to serve."

-- Albert Schweitzer, Humanitarian

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Still Waters

People I want to meet

The world is full of interesting people. I wish there was time for me to have a chat with each of them. I would particularly love to talk for a couple of hours with the lady in the following AP story;

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in Arizona say a jogger attacked by a rabid fox ran a mile with the animal's jaws clamped on her arm and then drove herself to a hospital. The Yavapai County sheriff's office said the woman told deputies she was on a trail near Prescott on Monday when the fox attacked and bit her foot.
She said she grabbed the fox by the neck when it went for her leg but it bit her arm.
The woman wanted the animal tested for rabies so she ran a mile to her car with the fox still biting her arm, then pried it off and tossed it in her trunk and drove to the Prescott hospital.
The sheriff's office says the fox later bit an animal control officer. He and the woman are both receiving rabies vaccinations.

Now, there are many facts left out of this story that, in my humble opinion, MUST be reported; How far had the woman run BEFORE being attacked by a fox?
How old is this person?
How many times did the fox bite her while she RAN A MILE AND THEN OPENED HER TRUNK TO TOSS IT IN?
Who took the fox out of the trunk? (actually, I can probably guess that is the animal control officer that was bitten)
What is this woman's life story?
You know this is not the first difficult situation this lady has encountered. I mean, you have to possess some kind of determination to hang on to a rabid fox that has already bitten you leg and is latched onto your arm while you run a mile back to your car. I'll bet she has had some adventure before this day.
Bravo, brave runner, bravo!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It is about ideals!

Carry this image with you into the booth today. It is not about skin color. Let the issues be the issue.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I have a NEED, a need for SPEED!

Do you have a "bucket list"? You know, a list of things you hope to do before you kick the bucket. There are many things I hope to, and intend to, experience if God leaves me on Earth long enough. Gradually, I am checking them off. This weekend another major item was checked off the list. I drove a NASCAR race car 7 laps around the Talladega Superspeedway and reached speeds just over 170 mph. Thanks to the Dale Jarrett racing adventure organization and their excellent staff I was able to live out a long-time dream. I should also thank my good friend Joel who generously gave me a "ride along" adventure that allows you to ride 3 laps with a professional driver. I was able to pay a little more to convert that to a "driving experience" that offered 6 laps of driving an actual race car that had been used at the highest levels of stock car racing. Being friendly and displaying enthusiam netted me an additional free lap. Thanks, also, to my sweet wife, LaWanna who made the trip with a bad back to cheer me on and take some great pictures. She has been very understanding and supportive and I am lucky to be married to her. Here are a few pictures;

The above picture was taken just before the shoehorn and grease was brought out to force me into the car. The space allowed is TIGHT. The seat wraps around your rib cage and is very snug on a thick guy. The hans device was developed after Dale Earnhardt died in a crash that did not look that bad. This device fits around your neck and fastens to the helmet so that you can not move your head but an inch or so either direction. These devices prevent a broken neck in a violent crash. But all those other times when you are still driving, they are very confining. Then, of course, there is the five-point harness that is like a seatbelt on steroids. If you ever watch a NASCAR race, the prerace activites include a team member leaning way into the car helping fasten the driver in and check all the connections. Let me tell you, by the time they tighten the straps on this harness you feel VERY, VERY confined and restricted. How am I supposed to drive? Why didn't you just take a nail gun and nail me to the seat? I made them loosen mine a little--or at least they pretended to.

This picture was taken after I am nailed in and before the net is affixed over the window opening. Please note that my visor is up on the helmet. That little detail became important in a couple of laps when I was straining my short legs to keep the accelerator on the floor and climbing from 160 mph toward 170 mph as the g-forces caused the visor to begin to slowly slide down. Across my line of sight. And I felt like I really had my hands full keeping that track-eating monster off the wall. May I also mention that the skid marks going up the track to the wall do not instill much confidence. I pushed the visor up and the next time is slipped down, I pulled it all the way down. That is easy to resist because it is soooo hot in the car with a fire-proof suit on and with the heat coming from the engine. And this was a relatively cool day. It is amazing that professional drivers do this door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper for four or more hours.

This final picture is when I am coming out of the tri-oval and in front of the grandstands. The stands at Talladega will seat 143,000 fans and thousands more roam more than 200 acres of infield. The superspeedway is 2.66 miles around and the turns are banked 33 degrees. If you did not take any more math than I did, then those number probably do not impress you much. Let me assure you that you could not walk up the banking in the turns without putting your hands on the pavement and bear crawling. They stand 4 stories tall and running toward the turn at 165-170 mph is a thrill ride unlike anything at any theme park.

Here are some observations I will be thinking about the next few days;

1) Men and women are different. Yes, I know that is profound and you probably never thought of it before. Here is how that played out at Talladega; there were 7 or 8 women driving out of about 80 drivers. I talked to one after we both had driven. By the way, she was driving because she had bought two driving packages for her husband and son, then her son was deployed to Iraq so she was driving and was more excited about it than her husband. I mentioned the extremely restrictive nature and was about to describe how uncomfortable that made me when she said "Yes, I really liked that. It made me feel much safer." She described the closing in process as being like having someone's arms around her and helped her relax. To me is was intrusive and seemed to take away much of my control. We agreed that the control issues were male and female perspectives.

2) Instincts can be helpful or harmful. If your instincts are based on incomplete information or faulty reasoning, they can do you harm. As a kid, my dad taught me to drive. Part of that education was about cornering and dad taught me to let off the gas when approaching a curve and gradually increase speed on exit from the curve. The driving instructors told us to keep the accelerator on the floor going into the turns and maintain the high line. I have thought about it about 24 hours now and I can not think of any time in my life that I had to fight any harder to overcome what seemed natural to me than when I approached the turns in this race car. Until you experience it yourself, I can not find the words to fully describe the natural urge to let off the gas when roaring into a turn at 170 mph in a car that you are unfamiliar with while driving in a straight-jacket. I continued to strain to push the accelerator to the floor with my toes, but it took a tremendous force of will to overcome what seemed to be the logical, safe thing to do. That is why I reached 170 mph and some only got up to 150 mph.

3) Most people do not do what they want to do. Did you know that? Sure, some people will say "I would love to do that" just to make you feel good about your adventure. But many really, really want to experience driving a race car. Yet they don't. Ever. For decades. And it is not just driving a race car. Lots of other dreams die on the vine because people are afraid or unwilling to do what needs to be done to accomplish them.

This experience is not for everybody. I don't want to talk anybody into it. But there is an experience that you dream about. What stands in your way? I am very, very glad that I got to enjoy driving a race car really fast before I got too old to enjoy it.