Friday, December 30, 2005

Keep this in mind while celebrating

While celebrating New Years this year, remember: Alcohol preserves everything except secrets.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This guys running for governor?!

Larry Kilgore has officially filed for the office of governor in Texas.
Even as a Christian I think I'm getting scared for my life.
Kinky's looking better and better everyday.
As I reported earlier, Kilgore and Rhett Smith are the only two candidates who have filed to run against Rick Perry in the Republican primary.
James Werner has filed for the Libertarian Party (but doesn't have a website yet).
And Chris Bell and Bob Gammage have filed for the Democratic Party.

Blogging keeps changing our view of the world

A friend and I talked a year or so ago about building websites for missionaries or ministries at a basic flat rate that would let them choose from one or two templates to keep their families, friends, donors and others informed in what's going on.
Now blogging has made that much easier for everyone.
Missionary-blogs.com has started collecting blog posts from missionaries around the world. It's a good place to spend time staying abreast on what's going on around the world.

Sydney Skaggs

B sent me some pics of his daughter Sydney. I think she's three years old now. She's so big. But in reality, shes just three months old. Congrats again to the proud parents.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

This week's column: The Unknown Celebrities

This week I spent time working on a feature identifying some of the "celebrities" who died this year.
Each one was recognized for their different achievements, but I must admit, a number of them were unknown to me.
Take for instance, Peter Benenson.
At an early age, the young British boy lost his father and was tutored privately by W. H. Auden, an influential poet and writer, before moving to King's College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor for further schooling.
He attended school at Oxford before World War II interrupted his studies. After the war he went to work as a lawyer before joining the Labour Party and taking an unsuccessful shot at politics.
In 1957 he founded JUSTICE, a British human rights and law reform organization.
In 1958 he converted to from Judaism to Roman Catholicism and the next year he moved to Italy to heal from a fall.
In 1961, he was shocked and angered by a newspaper report of two Portuguese students from Coirmbra who were sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom.
In May of 1961, The Observer, a liberal and social newspaper in the United Kingdom, published a letter by Benenson, "The Forgotten Prisoners."
The letter encouraged readers to write letters showing support for the students. Benenson then met with five other men and founded Amnesty International in Luxemboug that July to continue their efforts.
Within a year, AI groups were forming around the world, including West Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Ireland, Canada, United States and numerous others.
Benenson was appointed general secretary of AI before he step down due to poor health.
Today AI is an international organization with the stated purpose of promoting all human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The group also works to free all prisoners of conscience and ensure fair and prompt trials for political prisoners.
Amnesty International won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for their work.
Benenson died in Oxford, England, Feb. 25, 2005.
--
We can all be thankful to Maurice Hilleman, who developed eight of the 14 recommended vaccines we take today.
He developed vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, meningits, pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae.
Hilleman was born on a farm near Miles City, Montana. His mother and twin sister died at his birth.
He credited much of his later success to working with chickens on the farm as a boy.
In the eighth grade he discovered Charles Darwin and was caught reading "The Origin of Species" in church.
He almost missed attending college before his older brother stepped in and helped him secure a scholarship to Montana State University.
He then won a fellowship to the University of Chicago where he received a doctorate degree in microbiology in 1941.
He quickly went to work with E.R. Squibb & Sons and developed a vaccine against Japenese B encephalitis, a disease threatening American troops fighting in the Pacific during World War II.
After an outbreak of flu in Hong Kong, Hilleman worked nine 14-hour days with a partner to develop a vaccine to kill the new flu strain. Forty million vaccines were prepared and distributed to stop the pandemic that had already killed 69,000.
In 1963, after his daughter, Jeryl Lynn, developed mumps, he went to work to develop the Jeryl-Lynn strain of mumps vaccine, that is still used today.
He was later elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In 1988 he was presented with the National Medal of Science.
Hilleman died in Philadelphia, April 11, 2005.
--
Other likely unknowns who passed away in 2005 were:
o Bob Hunter, 63, was a Canadian journalist who founded Greenpeace in 1971, an international environmental organization. Died Toronto, May 2, 2005.
o Elizabeth Janeway, 91, was a writer who was an influential force in the women’s movement. She wrote the best-selling novel, The Walsh Girls. Died Rye, NY, Jan. 15, 2005.
o John Johnson, 85, was born the grandson of slaves. As an entrepreneur Johnson started his business in 1942 with a $500 loan. He built a publishing empire that includes Ebony and Jet magazines. Ebony has a circulation of 1.6 million. Died Chicago, Aug. 8, 2005.
o Georgeanna Jones, 92, was a scientist who established the country’s first in vitro fertilization program and created the first "test-tube baby," which was born in Dec. 1981. Died Norfolk, Va., March 26, 2005.
o George Kennan, 101, diplomat and historian who devised the U.S. policy of containment to deal with the Soviet Union during the cold war. He believed that instead of declaring all-out war against communist countries, the U.S. should keep the countries in their current state and prevent them from growing more powerful. Died Princeton, NJ, March 17, 2005.
o Jack Kilby, 81, was a Nobel Prize winner for his work in developing the integrated circuit, or microchip. His invention helped usher in the electronic age. Died Dallas, June 20, 2005.
o Peter Malkin, 77, was a former Israeli intelligence agent who captured Adolf Eichmann, a lead architect of the Holocaust in 1960. Died Manhattan, March 1, 2005.
And all cooks everywhere should be thankful to David Dalquist, who invented the Bundt pan in 1950. Dalquist died in Edina, Minn., Jan. 2, 2005.
But as impressive as these and other accomplishments may have been, I’m sure they’re nowhere as important as the actual lives of these individuals to their friends and loved ones.
My sister was a nobody to the rest of the world, but to our family she meant the world.
And while she never invented anything or discovered a cure for cancer, she touched everyone she came in contact with.
So in her memory and the memory of others who have gone before us, I look to 2006 with a hope to make my life count for something and an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around me.

Looking for a new church?

Look for a new church? Try My Church.

Monday, December 26, 2005

What a compliment

Virginia Mayo
84, played the unfaithful wife of World War II veteran Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives. Her beauty prompted the sultan of Morocco to write that she was "tangible proof of the existence of God." Died Thousand Oaks, Calif. Jan. 17, 2005.

2005 deaths

I'm working on a year-end review special and covering all the "celebrity" deaths in 2005.
Here's a preview of A-F:

Don Adams
82, played secret agent Maxwell Smart on Get Smart, which ran on television from 1969 to 1970. Died Los Angeles, Sept. 25, 2005.

Eddie Albert
99, best known for his role as a city lawyer who moves to the country with his wife in TV’s Green Acres. Died Los Angeles, May 26, 2005.

Shana Alexander
79, a journalist and commentator who engaged in heated debates with James Kilpatrick on 60 Minutes. Also wrote for Newsweek and Life magazines. Died Hermosa Beach, Calif. June 23, 2005.

Jack Anderson
83, investigative journalist whose columns ran in more than 1,000 newspapers. Anderson broke stories on the CIA’s plot to kill Fiedel Castro and the savings and loan scandal. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting on the roll of the United States I the Pakistan and India war. Died Dec. 17, 2005.

Victoria de los Angelos
81, Spanish soprano who performed with the Metropolitan Opera from 1951 to 1961. Died Barcelona, Jan. 15, 2005.

Anne Bancroft
73, Accademy and Tony Award winner who played Mrs. Robinson in the film The Graduate. Also appeared in The Turning Point and Agnes of God. She was married to comedic actor and director Mel Brooks. Died Manhattan, June 6, 2005.

Barbara Bel Geddes
82, Emmy Award winner who played the Ewing matriarch on TV’s Dallas. Her film credits included Vertigo and I Remember Mamma. She also appeared in the original stage version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Died Northeast Harbor, Maine, Aug. 8, 2005.

Charles Bell
44, former president and chief executive of McDonald’s restaurant. He held the post for seven months. He was the company’s second leader to die in less than a year. Died Sydney, Australia, Jan. 16, 2005.

Saul Bellow
89, Nobel Prize for Literature winner for his portrayals of Jewish American life among disillusioned modern city-dwellers. Died Brookline, Mass. April 5, 2005.

Peter Benenson
83, British lawyer who created Amnesty International in 1961, to fight for human rights and "prisoners of conscience." Amnesty International won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Died Oxford, England, Feb. 25, 2005.

Obie Benson
68, one of the founding members of musical group, Four Tops. He also wrote the popular anti-war song, "What’s Going On." Died Detroit, July 1, 2005.

Stan Berenstain
82, co-author and co-illustrator of the Berenstain Bears series of children’s books. He created over 250 books with his wife Jan, selling more than 300 million copies. Died Doylestown, Pa., Nov. 26, 2005.

George Best
59, Irish soccer player who earned fame and pop-star status for his image on and off the field. He led Manchester United to its first European Cut win in 1968. Died London, England, Nov. 25, 2005.

Hans Bethe,
98, a leading physicist in the development of the atom bomb for the U.S. government’s Manhatten Project. He championed the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes during the 1980s and 1990s. He won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his discovery on how the stars and Sun continue to burn. Died Ithaca, NY, March 6, 2005.

Oscar Brown
78, singer, songwriter and playwright. His work often celebrated African American culture and denounced racism. He appeared on TV’s Brewster Place. Died Chicago, May 29, 2005.

Fernando Bujones
60, a male ballet dancer who began training at the age of 8 at the school of Alicia Alonso, a famous Cuban ballerina. He was one of the youngest principal dancers in the world in 1974 with the American Ballet Theatre. Died Miami, Nov. 10, 2005.

Lord James Callaghan
92, British prime minister from 1976 to 1979. His administration was plagued by a series of trade union strikes, known as the "Winter of Discontent." Died East Sussex, England, March 26, 2005.

Johnny Carson
79, legendary comedian who hosted The Tonight Show on NBC from 1962 to 1992. Carson began his career as a magician and went on to write sketches for radio and hosted a daytime television quiz show. Died Malibu, Calif. Jan. 23, 2005.

Shirley Chisholm
80, the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. She served seven terms in the House. Died Ormond Beach, Fla. Jan. 1, 2005.

Kenneth Clark
90, civil rights leader whose report on detrimental effects of segregation on children was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1954 ruling, Brown v. Board of Education. The decision stated that "separate but equal" schools were unconstitutional. Died Hasints-on-Hudson, NY, May 1, 2005.

Johnnie Cochran, Jr.
67, trail lawyer best known for defending O.J. Simpson in his 1995 murder trial. Died Los Angeles, March 29, 2005.

Frank Conroy
69, headed the prestigious Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa for 18 years. His memoir Stop-Time about his troubled, lonely adolescence brought him celebrity and acclaim. Died Iowa City, April 6, 2005.

Robin Clark
59, served as British foreign secretary in the Blair Administration before he resigned in 2003 in protest with Britain’s participation in the war in Iraq. Died Scotland, Aug. 6, 2005.

Robert Creely
78, poet, essayist, short-story writer who was a leading member of the Black Mountain school of poetry. In 1999 he won the Bollingen Prize, poetry’s highest honor. Died Odessa, Texas, March 30, 2005.

Lloyd Cutler
87, attorney and mediator who served as White House council to presidents Carter and Clinton. He also served as a member of Sept. 11 investigation commissioned by President Bush. Died Washington, D.C., May 8, 2005.

H. David Dalquist
86, entrepreneur who invented the Bundt pan in 1950. Died Edina, Minn., Jan. 2, 2005.

Ossie Davis
87, wrote the Broadway play Purlie Victorious and appeared in Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever. Davis eulogized Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. Died Miami, Fla. Feb 4, 2005.

Sandra Dee
62, played innocent tomboys in several teeny-bopper films including Gidget and A Summer Place in the late 1950s. Was married to singer Bobby Darin from 1960 to 1967. Died Thousand Oaks, Calif, Feb. 20, 2005.

John DeLorean
80, left his high-level position at General Motors to start his own automotive company in Northern Ireland. His DeLorean sports car was featured in the Back to the Future movies. Died Summit, N.J., March 19, 2005.

Bob Denver
70, actor who played Gilligan on TVs Gilligan’s Island. He also played beatnick Maynard Krebs on The Many Lives of Doby Gillis. Died Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 2, 2005.

Richard Doll
92, British scientist who was among the first to link smoking with lung cancer and emphysema. Also showed that radiation and asbestos can cause cancer. Died Oxford, England, July 24, 2005.

James Doohan
85, actor who portrayed Scotty, the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek. Died Redmond, Wash., July 20, 2005.

Peter Drucker
95, political economist who is best known for establishing management as its own discipline. Several theories are widely practiced today in the business world. Died Claremont, Calf. Nov. 11, 2005.

Spencer Dryden
66, drummer for the rock band Jefferson Airplane. Died Petaluma, Calif., Jan. 10, 2005.

Ralph Edwards
92, a radio and television pioneer who created This is Your Life and Truth or Consequences. Often called "the godfather of reality programming." Also developed Name That Tune and The People’s Court. Died Los Angeles, Nov. 16, 2005.

Will Eisner
87, comic-book artist who created Spirit, the superhero who lacked supernatural powers. Died Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan 3, 2005.

Dana Elcar
77, appeared on TVs MacGyver and Baa, Baa Black Sheep. He went blind during the run of MacGyver and his condition was written into the script. Died Ventura, Calif. June 6, 2005.

Fahd ibn Adul Aziz
84, pro-Western king of Suadi Arabia who worked to modernize the Islamic country. He courted the U.S., broadened women’s rights and expanded the economy. King Fahd passed authority to Crown Prince Abdullah in 1995, after a series of strokes. Died Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 1, 2005.

John Flelder
80, best known for providing the voice to Piglet in the Winnie-the-Pooh movies. He also appeared in Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun and the film Twelve Angry Men. Died Englewood, N.J., June 25, 2005.

Dennis Flanagan
85, editor of Scientific American for 37 years. Saw the magazine’s circulation increase from 40,000 to 600,000. Died Manhatten, Jan. 14, 2005.

Arthur Fletcher
80, known as the "father of affirmative action," he was a civil rights activist who served as an advisor to Nixon, Ford and Reagan. He also lead the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the George H.W. Bush administration. Died Washington, D.C., July 12, 2005.

Shelby Foote
88, civil war historian who wrote a three-volume history on the war and provided commentary to Ken Burns’ 1990 Civil War documentary on PBS. Died Mephis, Tenn., June 27, 2005.

Tillie Fowler
62, Republican who served four terms in Congress. Known as the "steel magnolia," she was once the highest-ranking woman in Congress. She served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the vice-chairman of the House Republican Conference. Died Jacksonville, Fla., March 2, 2005.

Peter Foy
79, innovator who used wires, harnesses and pulleys to send theater actors aloft. His Broadway credits include Peter Pan, Angels in America and The Lion King. Died Las Vegas, Feb. 17, 2005.

Christopher Fy
97, author of the Ben-Hur script. Died Chichester, England, June 30, 2005.

Christmas joys

Well, it's Dec. 26 and now its time to focus on another Holiday. What to do for New Year's and New Year's Eve?
But before I move to far into the future, I thought I'd throw out a recap of our Christmas weekend. If you're not interested in the recap - feel free to scroll to the moral of the story at the botttom of this post.
The holiday weekend started with a Feliz Navidad party at work.
Fajitas, chips, tacos and more were enjoyed by all.
We then went right back to work on our Sunday (Christmas Day) issue of the paper.
Despite the dateline, Sunday's paper was written and went to press Friday night. Sorry if you were looking for the latest news. I guess that's why we only run local stories and don't spend much time or money on AP stories.
After leaving work around 5 p.m., I made the treck to my grandparents were we enjoyed food, fellowship and an odd twist on our normal White Elephant gift.
I'm not sure where or why the change came about, but despite the slack I gave my aunt for it, it was fun (if for nothing more than poking fun at my aunt for coming up with the changes.)
I came home with an AMC Theater gift card. I've gotten a number of gift cards this year, which I don't mind, but I need to start spending them because they're making my wallet that much thicker.
I drove back to the 'Chie Saturday night and enjoyed a movie before going to bed.
Saturday was a great chance to sleep in before working to finish up a couple gifts.
Saturday evening we went to the Christmas Eve service at my parent's church and then enjoyed a party at their house with the Lehmanns.
Lots of noise and fun with all the younger Lehmann girls (and boy). We had a good time and discovered that no matter how much money you spend on younger children, a whoopie cushion will be there favorite gift.
Sunday morning our family enjoyed opening gifts. The gifts seem to get fewer and fewer each year, but mean more and more.
We then enjoyed the Christmas Day service with the pastor telling the story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, dressed as Joseph. It was a nice twist to the normal Christmas Day sermon.
We returned home to a Christmas Day dinner with grandparents and then I believe everyone passed out somewhere in the house for a good portion of the afternoon.
We wrapped the day up with a game of 10-9-8 and Rumicube before I returned home late Sunday night.
THE MORAL
And I shared all of that to say that despite the heartache of losing Amy this year, it was wonderful to know that the Christmas spirit was still alive and well with our family and the Lehmann family.
As my mom said, "Without Christmas and Christ coming to earth, it takes away all our hope that Amy's in a better place. It's because of Christmas that we can celebrate Amy's homegoing and not mourn our loss."
And Christmas is always enjoyed more through the eyes of a child.
Even if its laughing as Wilson tries to blow out candles at the Christmas Eve candlelight service, or Amelia, Wilson and Hannah enjoying a whoopie cushion on their granddads lap, their innocence and joy is contagious.
So I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, Festivus, Hannukah and Kwanza and have a blessed new year.

Odd smells lurking about

There's an odd smell lurking about my cubicle this morning. I may be the only one who's noticed it.
I think there are funny colored fumes seeping out of the air vents.
I don't know what it is, but I keep getting whiffs of a dirty diaper and Lysol spray.
It's getting to be a little weird.
Do office politics/ethics restrict me from mentioning it to my co-workers in fear of embarasing someone?
Oh the joy.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Dover votes God out

Look out Dover, PA, according to Pat Robertson, you've voted God right out of your city.

Perry has two primary opponents

According to Dallasblog.com, Gov. Perry has two opponents in the primaries.
Neither of which is Carol Strayhorn -- yet.
The filing deadline is Jan 2 and Strayhorn has not yet filed.
Rhett Smith and Larry Kilgore couldn't be further apart in their reasons for running.
Smith says Perry is too religious and letting conservative Christians run the state.
Kilgore says Perry is not religious enough and protecting bi and homosexuals as a special class.
Gotta love religion getting in the midst of elections.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pro-wrestlng in the olympics?

Slate makes the argument that pro-wrestling should be allowed in the olympics.

Slate looks at other ways to clean up Pro-Wreslting

Slate says that before WWE gets tough on steriods, they need to clean up other areas first.
How many times have you yelled in frustration at a distracted referee who failed to notice a guy getting double-teamed in the corner? Imagine how much more fair the sport would be if each wrestler's valet could throw two challenge flags per match. We have the technology. It's time to deploy it.

Merry Festivus - a holiday for the rest of us...

The Morning News has a couple fun stories on Festivus and Christmakuh.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Festivus isn't just for Seinfield
Interfaith struggles
Christmakah is around the corner
So Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy Kwanza

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What pastors need to know

What Pastors Need to Know About the Internet
From: churchmarketingsucks.com

Rick Warren's Pastors.com covers some important ground with 8 Things Pastors Need to Know About eMinistry, written by Terrell Sanders of MinistryCom:

1. Your target audience for church growth is Internet-savvy.
2. Your Web site will be your "first impression" for many people.
3. If you're not on the Web, you don't exist to many people.
4. Seekers will visit your Web site before attending your services.
5. A whole generation exists that will seek "religion" online.
6. The Web site is too critical to be run by a volunteer.
7. You can't afford a cheap site.
8. People are viewing your current Web site right now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Scrooge

So much for not wanting anything for Christmas, I think half the office has given me something. From candy, to cards, to Christmas Ornament, to Hot Sauce from Comfort Foods of Waxahachie.
And I haven't gotten anything for anyone here. Doh.

ABC covers Ultimate Christian Wrestling

abc news covered Ultimate Christian Wrestling last night on World News Tonight.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Amy's birthday. Boy do I miss her.

Terry Taylor says he'll never go back to WWE

Terry Taylor talks about TNA and the fresh air Christian has brought to the new company. He also talks about Sting joining the company and the company starting to tour.

This Week's Column: Reader's Mail

Reader’s Mail

Over the last few weeks I’ve looked at a number of Christmas traditions and I hope they have been very educational. I’ve also received a number of e-mail responses, so I thought I’d respond to them in this week’s column. If this keeps up I may just change the name of my column to “Answer Man.” But with out further ado, I give you Reader’s Mail, Vol. I, Issue 2.

- I enjoyed your piece on “Getting Cross at Christmas.” I thought it was interesting to find out where X-Mas really came from. But to combat the constant war on Christmas that liberals in this country have begun, I’ve start writing Merry C-Mas on my greeting cards and letters. I think it will make people think more about the real meaning of Christmas.
Josh
Morgan’s Point Resort
Josh, thanks for your comments, but I must say, I’m offended that you’ve started a new campaign to keep “hrist” out of Christmas now.

- I really enjoyed your column on O Holy Night. What are the rest of the stanzas? I never knew there were others besides the first two.
Debbie
Waxahachie
Debbie, for lack of space, I won’t print the entire text of John Sullivan Dwight’ translation of O Holy Night here, but you can find the entire song at http://www.eadshome.com/ChristmasCarols/OHolyNight.htm.

- What is Boxing Day and why are Canadians the only ones to celebrate it?
John
Belton
I asked around and being that this is America, no one knows. The holiday is not only celebrated in Canada, but in European countries as well. It is often called St. Stephen’s Day or the Second Day of Christmas. The common story of its origin is that servants and tradesmen received Christmas gifts from employers on the first Monday following the Christmas holiday. These gifts were commonly called, “Christmas boxes.” And you’re more than welcome to come over Dec. 26 and celebrate Boxing Day with me and my roommate as we watch wrestling.

- Was Jesus really born on Dec. 25?
Eric
Alvarado
Maybe -- but probably not. Historians don’t really know when Jesus Christ was. Scripture tells us in Luke 2 that it was during the Roman rule of Caesar Augustus and Quirinius was governor of Syria. All citizens were to report to their hometown for a census, which is why Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem that blessed night. The first mention of celebrating Dec. 25 as the birth of Jesus is found in Latin, written by Theophilus of Antioch (171 – 183). As early as AD 354, Roman Christians celebrated Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25. It is suggested that the date was chosen to take advantage of the Roman holiday celebrating the birth of the Sun god, Mithras. An interesting side note -- many scholars believe that Jesus was not in fact born in AD 1, but likely in 6 BC. A mistake was made during the estimation of King Herod’s death and the new calendar (Before Christ and Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of the Lord”) was off by several years.

- Where can I find some good last minute Christmas gifts for under $10?
Chris
Richardson
Chris, I’d love to say I know, but I don’t. I’d have to point you to Mandy Bourgeois’ column for more information. She is the queen of shopping information.

- Where did Santa’s 12 reindeer come from?
Amelia
Cedar Hill
Why the North Pole of course! But the reindeer are first found in literature in Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “The Night Before Christmas” (also known as “A Visit From St. Nicholas”). The poem was first published in the Troy, New York Sentinel in 1823, which makes for some old reindeer. Reindeer number 13 and Donner’s son, Rudolph, didn’t join the gang until 1939 when Montgomery Wards gave away a promotional story book, written by Robert L. May about the red-nosed reindeer.

Well that about wraps it up for this week. Keep sending your questions and comments, maybe you’re will show up in Reader’s Mail Vol. II. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

John Spencer Remembered

A West Wing news blog has a lot of rememberences posted on John Spencer.
According to the site, five episodes upcoming episodes have been taped with Spencer.
No direction has been announced for a replacement to Spencer's character or how the storyline will continue.
The likely scenario will have the Santos campaign scrambling to find a replacement for Spencer's character, Vice-Presidential Nominee and former White House Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry.
The series has not been guaranteed an eigth season next year by NBC and many have feared this might be the last season of the Emmy award winning show.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Newspaper circulation continues to decline

The Texas Press Association reports that newspaper circulation continues to decline.
Weekly papers have seen the least decline and daily papers have seen the most with recent drops in The Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle.

County seats give Waxhahachie adivce

I don't know if this will be published elsewhere or not, but thought I'd post it here either way.
I've been waiting on callbacks from other people and missed the deadline today and tomorrow it might not be relevant anymore.
But it's here fo your reading enjoyment.
--
County seats offer advice for Waxahachie

Jonathan Blundell
Staff writer

With the Waxahachie City Council considering its position on the future of downtown and Ellis County facilities Monday night, what advice do other county seats have to give?
According to a memo from Waxahachie Downtown Manager Pamela Cowan to Assistant City Manager Paul Stevens, contacts were recently made in five different county seats.
Each contact seems to express a similar sentiment, "Do everything you can to keep them downtown."
Main Street Program and Convention and Visitors Bureau directors in Georgetown, Denton, Gilmer, Sequin and McKinney were all contacted.
Georgetown has recently relocated county offices to make room for restoration of the county courthouse.
"According to Shelly Hargrove, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau director, this has created no small confusion as to ‘Where do we go for this or that now?’" wrote Cowan. "People are looking for the records office, or where to get their car tags, etc. In just the few months since these changes took place, the downtown merchants can already see a drop in business."
But according to Georgetown City Manager Paul E. Brandenburg, there are different opinions on the downtown district.
"Everyone sees the change in a different light," Brandenburg said. "We’ve had businesses close, but the buildings are almost immediately filled again with other businesses."
In Denton, Julie Glover with the Main Street Program told Cowan that the relocation of county courts and offices outside of the downtown core has negatively impacted the restaurants downtown and many closed within a year of the move.
Gilmer Main Street and Civic Center Manager Bridget Fowler told Cowan that instead of restoring the old courthouse, a town in Arizona reused the facility by housing an art gallery, shops and a playhouse with stage.
"As she put it, ‘Anything to bring more retail, fun and family experiences to town.’" Cowan wrote.
MaryJo Filip in Sequin told Cowan to that after several county offices relocated over the years, the downtown had survived, but barely.
Ty Lake in McKinney told Cowan that plans were under way to move some county offices a few blocks off the immediate square.
"She is thankful that the city leaders had the foresight to keep all city and county offices near downtown when they went through their renovation period," Cowan wrote. "They took into consideration the restaurants that serve week day lunch, as well as the average merchant when it came to making these long term decisions. To quote her, ‘Do whatever it takes to keep your city and county offices near the downtown area.’"
In Hunt County, county commissioners are just a few steps in front of Ellis County.
The commissioners recently voted to approve the construction of a new justice center outside the downtown square, nearly a mile from the historic county courthouse.
Hood County Judge Andy Rash said available space and proximity to the county jail helped the county make the decision to move.
"We’re still within the core downtown district but just not in the square," Rash said. "Merchants on the square have been opposed to this for years. But downtown Granbury is basically a tourist destination, including the first designated historic courthouse in the state. With all the county offices on the square, there’s not enough parking."
The county originally planned to build less than two blocks from the square, but parking and room for growth remained an issue.
"The theory of people is that their business is from jurors," Rash said. "But a survey run by Tarleton University that said, ‘Yes, by taking jurors away there will be a minor impact, but that will be more than offset by the opportunity for more people coming to shop.’"
The new justice center will be directly across the street from the county jail, which was moved to its current site in 1978 and was replaced in 1995.
The new center will be 50,500 square feet, with enough room to expand horizontally and vertically on 32 acres. The building will cost between $8-million and $10-million.
But even with the new building, not all county offices and courts will leave the downtown square.
"Our deed records, county court, vital statistics and the core of the county government will remain in the historic county courthouse," Rash said. "But we’ll move our district court, county court at law and clerks for both courts to the new justice center."
The city of Belton and Bell County have also taken a leap-of-faith to construct a new justice center nearly three miles from the downtown square.
The city council approved the county’s decision to begin construction on the new center last year after nearly a year of public debate and two failed general obligation bond elections.
"Initially, without any real thought or study, I thought that expanding downtown was what we would be doing," Bell County Judge Jon Burrows said. "But, upon review by the architects and our own investigation, it became apparent that expansion downtown was not feasible. There was not enough land space to have an adequate size facility. The cost of "putting a square peg in a round hole," or making it fit downtown, was significantly higher than building outside of downtown on an open tract of land. Further, there would be absolutely no space for expansion in the future and no room for the additional parking that an expansion of the building would bring."
After a petition was filed to force the bond elections, the county put together two task forces to oversee the site selection and planning for the new building.
Despite the recommendations of the task force to build the new facility outside of downtown Belton, voters voted to deny the sale of GO bonds to fund the new facility.
Faced with continued overcrowding, a new district court and a district courts building that would soon be out of code, the commissioners voted to begin construction on 75.96 acres south of town with certificates of obligation bonds, which do not require voter approval.
According to the commissioners, the CO bonds were issued without an increase in property tax rates for the county.
"Some towns have dead downtowns and I think that is the worst thing that can happen to a downtown," Belton City Manager Sam Listi said. "Belton has a vital downtown. It is busy and alive. It is not, however, particularly relevant to the residents of Belton. Initially, there was concern that a removal of county facilities might create a void that could potentially grow if other related businesses and enterprises follow. Although, after some consideration, it began to present itself more as an opportunity for change in the downtown and with that opportunity comes the possibility of making the downtown more relevant to the folks who live in Belton and hopefully to potential tourists."
With the construction of the new center, the county will move the district courts, the district clerk and the district attorney.
Remaining downtown will be everyone currently in the recently restored historic courthouse including, the county judge, commissioners, auditor, treasurer, personnel, payroll, justice of the peace and the constable. Also the county jail, sheriff’s office, child protective services court, the child support court, information systems, county engineer, and museum will remain downtown.
But with overcrowding in the county jail, the commissioners have already begun discussing moving or expanding the jail to the site south of town. The new justice center was designed with future jail expansion in mind.
Listi said he is aware that the transition period could be difficult for Belton.
"The transition could be difficult," Listi said. "We can prepare and offer incentives downtown but we can’t say with any certainty that vacancies created by relocating attorneys and bail bondsmen will be filled with anything more desirable or anything at all."
But Listi said there are also a number of opportunities now for the downtown district.
"There is an opportunity for vacancies downtown that could be filled by businesses more relevant to the residents of Belton and to tourism," Listi said. "There is also opportunity for continued development of areas west of I-35 to support the new county facilities and a redirection of court traffic away from Central Avenue and towards roads better suited for more traffic."
To help prepare the downtown district for the transition, the city of Belton adopted several new policies to encourage private investments.
"The city recently adopted a tax abatement policy for the downtown area offering 100 percent tax abatement for increased valuation for five years. It is a very generous policy and the hope is that, when those vacancies occur, it will be utilized," Listi said. "The city is also committed to continued restoration and preservation downtown and has worked to establish a fa├žade improvement grant fund, a tax increment reinvestment zone allocation, and has an active Visionaries in Preservation Committee."
Since construction on the new center began, five new businesses have opened in the downtown district. But not everyone is pleased with the new developments.
"I have seen many under-capitalized businesses move in, which means that rents have tumbled in the area," Belton Councilwoman Carrol Wallace said. "This is a predictable and really sad scenario that usually ends up with lots of empty, deteriorating buildings as these businesses fail, one, by one. Belton has moved quickly to deal with this problem. I just wish I could convince folks that we need to get a fairly large historic overlay in place. Anyone who invests in our downtown is going to be taking a large risk and I think they deserve the protection of an overlay to ensure that businesses around them have the same architectural style. Belton’s historic overlay ordinance is well written and not too restrictive. All we need to do is to put it in place."
Wallace said the key to keeping downtown Belton vibrant is to reinvent the area.
"Business property must pay its own way. When it cannot, property values decline and maintenance suffers," Wallace said. "We could easily lose the historic core of Belton if we cannot reinvent downtown fairly quickly. And that is perhaps the most challenging thing about this situation. If we cannot attract several good investors, downtown Belton will never be destination, and if we cannot create a destination, no new businesses will move in; a very grim catch-22 that I've seen played out several times in my travels."
Wallace said after the initial announcement she was in disbelief, but has since worked to help protect the downtown area once the district courts are moved away.
"My initial reaction to the county moving was one of disbelief and exasperation," Wallace said. "The downtown area had already become less and less relevant to most of the citizens of Belton, but it was still alive with activity related to county business. I knew when the county moved, a lot of business would move with it. Now I have accepted that the county is moving and that Belton now needs to respond promptly to avoid a downward spiral of blight."

Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates Time Persons of the Year

Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates received Time Magazines top honor this year for their humanitarian efforts.
The magazine said 2005 was a year of extraordinary charity in which people donated record amounts in response to extreme natural disasters, such as the tsunami in South Asia and Hurricane Katrina.
"Natural disasters are terrible things, but there is a different kind of ongoing calamity in poverty, and nobody is doing a better job in addressing it in different ways than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono," said Jim Kelly, Time's managing editor.
The issue hits newstands today.

Friday, December 16, 2005

John Spencer dead at 58

John Spencer, 58, who plays Vice-Presidential candidate Leo McGarry on the West Wing died today of an apparent heart attack.
I will miss him on the West Wing for sure.

Writers block

Not gonna lie, I've hit writers block.
I've been trying to get phone calls back from folks that I hoped would help me deepen one of my stories, but they haven't called back and so now I'm at a standstill on a story that I'd really like to get published Sunday.
I have about 20 hours to finish it. We'll see how it goes.

Mapping Hidden Acres

I spent a lot of time at Hidden Acres Camp Ground in Kaufman, Texas. I could map out another 30 spots, but I'll just give you an initial 10 for now.

Here's Mapping my college career

Here's a quick look at my college career, some of the finer and not-so-finer moments.

Mapping my childhood

Microsoft has updated their Live Local site. It's super cool. Depending on the area you can get good arial photos of areas. I've mapped out some of the memories of my childhood if you click the link. I'll have to do numerous more to get everything, but this is a fun start.
Lots of fun. What would you map out? Give it a try.

iraqi voting

So iraqis went and voted yesterday and its estimated that 70 percent of the country voted.
We can't get 20 percent to vote if its cloudy -- let alone bombs flying everywhere.
We're a bunch of pansies

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

(psst - don't tell)

I may go watch a Disney movie with a Baptist on Friday.
But don't tell. They could get in trouble. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This week's column: Getting cross at Xmas

Getting cross about Christmas

Turn on a television or radio anywhere these days and you’re sure to hear a debate or comments being made about an active conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas.
Suddenly even President Bush has joined the rank and file of the liberal-left, according to members of the ultra-right, using the phrase "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" on his yearly Christmas cards.
And every year we hear people scream and shout about people who use Xmas in advertising or Christmas cards.
But what’s really behind the abbreviation? Does X mark the spot of anti-Christianity?
Many think Xmas is a recent invention of liberal Hollywood or leftist New Yorkers.
But use of Xmas can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists arrived in the New World and 60 years before the completion of the King James Version of the Bible.
At that time Xian and Xianity were both common abbreviations as well.
It’s been suggested that the X is simply an indication of the cross Jesus was crucified upon, but that is unlikely. The shape of the cross Jesus died upon is traditionally believed to have been the shape of a "t" rather than an "X".
The X can however be traced back to Christ and the early Greek church.
The Greek transliteration for Christ is Christos, which begins with the Greek X, pronounced "Chi."
During the Roman rule of Jerusalem and much of the known world, Christians would identify themselves with several symbols including the Greek X, the Chi-Ro or XP (the first two letters of Christos, the XC (first and last letters) or IC (last two letters).
The Christians used the symbols to identify each other in a time when they were commonly fed to lions and killed for their faith.
An interesting side story is a dream the Roman Emperor Constantine I had in October 312, involving the Chi-Ro. After his dream, he emblazoned the Christian symbol on all the military shields and armor before they marched to a great victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. After his victory, he legalized Christianity and accepted the new faith.
With the legalization of Christianity, the religion continued to spread across the world through oral and written tradition.
As Christianity spread, the abbreviation continued on manuscripts, charts and tables to save space.
And with the advent of the printing press, the church used the abbreviation even more during a time when font sizes were limited and type was set by hand.
But now the abbreviation has come 180 degrees as the phrase is now viewed as sacrilegious and boycotts are threatened for businesses who use it.
And thus the conspiracy continues.

Blog or column idea

Someone should start a blog - or write a column about all the random things people say during a day.
Sometime just sit and listen in a crowded room and enjoy the random conversations.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Seriously...

There are people in my office talking about boycotting local businesses because they have signs that say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
Who cares?!
There are a number of "Christian sub-culture" issues that just blow me away.
Like refusing to celebrate with Santa Clause (based upon an actual St. Nicholas), refusing to shop at stores that say, "Holiday tree" or "Happy Holidays."
I watched a debate on TV with people who were flamin' mad because President Bush sent out a "holiday" card that said, "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."
There are more than one holidays between Thanksgiving and New Years. Can't we celebrate them all?
The whole issue of having manger scenes and the 10 Commandments on public property bugs me too. I don't believe either is constitutional. But people who claim they're faith is so strong, feel they have to have things like this to remind them of their faith in the public square.
If you want a manager scene, or 10 commandments, put them on your church property or your own house.
When was the last time you saw a church with the 10 commandments posted? Or a house with a large sculpture with the 10 commandments?
Come on. Don't expect the rest of the world to do something you wont.
I hope all the baptists that flocked to see The Chronicles of Narnia, didn't forget the boycott they had against Disney for so many years.
I'm quite sure Disney hasn't changed their stance on anything, but because they produce a movie that was based on a Christian's writing, its OK to be a Disney fan now. Geeze.
Maybe I'm missing the point here, but its really bugging me and I think something should be said.
So there. I said it.

on a mexican radio

I'll be on the air again today around 9:05ish - although last time it ended up being more like 9:20ish...
Anyways, if you're in the area, its 1390 AM KBEC.

Genesis 39

God does not demand success - just obedience.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Future of newspapers

More on the future of newspapers and today's youth...
http://www.editorsweblog.org/
analysis/2005/12/creating_their_own_content_
youth_will_no.php

FCC Petition

John Lockridge sent me a petition to the FCC on indecency on television.
I asked him if he would sign a similar petition by Howard Stern or someone else if he asked the FCC to ban Christianity from television.
Here's his response and my thoughts. What do you think?
Good question. I think there is an obligation of broadcasters to use the public airwaves responsibly. I think I still would sign the petition in spite of Stern's hypothetical petition. Of course, if I perceived a real risk to wholesome endeavors such as proclamation of the Good News, then I would be slower to take such a course.
Some would argue that this issue should be left for the "free market" to decide. I agree that many things should best be addressed that way. However, I think the use of public airwaves and the protection of children from their misuse are legitimate FCC concerns -- ones that even affect our relationship with the world.
A lack of FCC enforcement has led to the envelope being pushed significantly over the past 30 years -- and a growing absense of moral content in broadcast media has had a negative affect on public morals.
In the name of free trade, our government promotes our TV shows overseas. This works against us.
Because of the irresponsibility of our media, many in the Muslim world have developed the idea that America is a wicked, immoral place -- based on the content of the media that we export. Action films, horror movies, and hollywood dramas paint a pretty sad picture. We have turned much of the world against us by exporting our trash.
It is my contention that our media is the single greatest cause of Muslim animosity against America. We are perceived as a moral risk. After all, a Muslim might reason, "if we are as wicked as our media present us, why shouldn't we be fought against?" Add a few misbehaving soldiers stationed overseas to the mix and that only reinforces the idea that we are not a moral people.
It has been said that the average Muslim father cares more about the chastity of his daughters than having a democratic form of government. That's worth thinking about.
I say its well past time that we stop exporting our trash and start cleaning up our act.

And my response:
I understand and tend to agree. I just always worry when we start censoring any type of free speech, because it gives them more ammunition to censor me and my free speech.
But because of limited public air space, I think for the sake of children, guidelines should be given and followed, but who gets to decide the guidelines. At what point do we stop "watching out for children" and pushing our morality on everyone else.
So do you agree or disagree? Let's see some debate here ;-).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Want your kids on TV?

The West Wing is casting rolls for Huck and Molly, Toby Ziegler's twin childen.
Not sure on the specs of the roll, but I believe its for episode 15 of this year. As far as the storyline goes, the children should be around 3 or 4 by the time the episode is shown, but they may be giving a glimpse into the future or a look back at the past. I'm not sure.
But if you have children interested in television, you might want to give it a look.

The Ice Queen has come

It's icy and slick across North Texas this morning. But what amuses me most is the attitudes of most people. "Why aren't these streets sanded!? People are skidding everywhere!"
I got out and drove the 10 mile treck to work (it took about 30 minutes) and had no problems.
But I saw people having problems then and when I got out to take pictures.
People were slamming their breaks and yes, skidding into intersections.
People came to a full stop and then smashed their gas to get traction.
It just doesn't make sense. There's not that much ice out.
Sure, I'd recommend most people stay home -- it's not wise to be out when its icy like this, but I've seen a lot worse.
If you don't know how to drive on ice, don't. Stay home.
And if you are out, don't slam your breaks. Keep a good distance between you and other drivers and don't come to complete stops unless you must. And if you do, don't smash your gas pedal. Ease off the brake so your tires can get traction first.
Well, back to reporting the news.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TNA president talks about WWE drug policy

TNA President Dixie Carter talked about WWE's new drug policy on a radio program this week.
According to wrestling-news.com, "Dixie was asked about the recent drug policy made by WWE. Dixie commends WWE for their effort. She was asked if TNA will adopt a similar policy and responds by saying that TNA wrestlers are not all about the muscular look and that they feel they do a strong job keeping the TNA locker room clean. She says in the past there was a drug problem with Raven that has been resolved."


Radio Recap: Dixie Carter on Between The Ropes

The audio of the interview can be found on the Audiowrestling.com website.

Dixie Carter is welcomed to the show and says you can expect several exciting announcements to come from TNA soon.

Dixie tells Monday Night Mayhem they are getting a scoop as there might be a major add-on to this weekends TNA PPV Turning Point that will "change the face of the wrestling business." Dixie goes on to say that if things go as planned, this will be the best TNA PPV in the companies history!

Dixie says she talked with Christian Cage recently. She says Christian received a great offer from WWE but chose to join TNA despite the risk of perhaps giving up a better salary with WWE. She said Christian wanted to join TNA because he felt it was what is exciting now.

Dixie mentions TNA's strong Buffalo audience (where the Mayhem show is based out of). She says despite Buffalo not having had the FSN Impact show when it was on, Buffalo has always been a strong PPV buy area for TNA and that they hope to make Buffalo one of their first stops when they start touring in 2006.

Dixie was asked about Christy Hemme, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit possibly being brought into TNA sometime soon should they not be with WWE. Dixie says that the most important thing is promoting the talent already with TNA. Dixie says bringing in the outside talent mentioned could help get TNA guys over faster.

Dixie points out she is the president of TNA, not the owner.

Dixie is asked about the recent drug policy made by WWE. Dixie commends WWE for their effort. She is asked if TNA will adopt a similar policy and responds by saying that TNA wrestlers are not all about the muscular look and that they feel they do a strong job keeping the TNA locker room clean. She says in the past there was a drug problem with Raven that has been resolved.

On the radio

So, I'll be on the radio today and tomorrow (depending on the weather) around 9:05 a.m.
Listen on 1390 KBEC if you feel so inclined.

A good friend

A good friend will come and bail you out of jail.
A better friend will be sitting next to you in the cell saying, "Boy that was fun."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This week's column: O Christmas Tree

In my search for the history behind our holiday traditions, I decided nothing says Christmas more than the evergreen Christmas Tree. Oh wait -- I apologize, make that "Holiday Tree," "X-mas Tree," or "Gift Bush."
I want to be sure I don’t offend anyone.
The tree brings out the holiday spirit in everyone – almost.
People from around the world come to New York City just to watch someone flip a light switch on the giant tree in Rockefeller Center.
The White House hosts a huge ceremony and party each year to bring in the annual Tannenbaum.
According the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association, nearly 200,000 trees are produced annually on approximately 150 Christmas tree farms in Texas.
The tree growers contribute over $12-million to the Texas economy each year.
Robert Feigly who’s operating his second Christmas tree stand in Waxahachie this year, said there’s nothing quite like a fresh cut Christmas tree.
Feigly’s trees vary in size, but he said that most people are looking for an eight to twelve-foot tree.
"I have a 21-foot tree coming this weekend," Feigly said. "And I have a feeling it will be gone almost right away."
The trees average in price around $65 a piece.
"People who choose artificial trees miss out on the Christmas experience," Feigly said. "You miss the smells, the family time while picking out the tree and then taking time to decorate the tree as a family. A lot of people with artificial trees will decorate them and then store it in a closet for next year -- with all the decorations on it. You don’t get to enjoy time with your family while decorating it each year."
While many believe the Christmas tree is an American Christian tradition, others hold firm that the symbol of the season originated in many pagan cultures.
The idea of the evergreen tree represents a celebration of continuing renewal of life and a number of medieval legends tended to concentrate on the miraculous "flowering" of the evergreen trees at Christmastime.
According to German medieval chronicler, Adam Bremenis, aka Adam of Bremen, Scandinavian kings sacrificed nine males of different species, including slaves, by suspending them on the branches of trees.
And while the medieval stories sound frightenly familiar to our tradition of hanging ornaments on an evergreen, there’s no specific proof tying our modern day tradition with the horrific tales of the past.
Our modern traditions can however be traced to a 16th century professor. Professor Ingeborg Weber-Keller identified a reference to reports of a small fir decorated with apples, dates, nuts and paper flowers to benefit the children of a local working guild.
Another story tells of a tailor’s apprentices that carried a tree around town, decorated with apples and cheese.
It’s suggested by some that both of these references were spurred by a family tradition begun by Protestant theologian Martin Luther. The tree has often been used to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, for its triangle shape and many believe Luther used the Trinity illustration, along with candles on the branches to illustrate the "Light of the World," found in Christ.
But despite which story you choose to believe, the Christmas tree tradition began to flourish in the 17th century. And like many other traditions, the church wasn’t entirely happy with the newfound custom.
A priest from Stasbourg, Johann Konrad Dannerhauer, complained that the custom was distracting people from the Word of God. For the next 100 years the tradition remained confined to the lower Rhine, now the northern areas of France and southern areas of Germany. It was also regarded as only a Protestant custom.
In 1816 the Christmas tree was introduced in Austria by Princess Henrietta von Nassau-Weilburg. The tree was soon introduced in Britain by King George III and spread across the nation through illustrations in the Illustrated London News.
By 1850 the tradition was copied in America, although Easton, Pa. and Windsor Locks, Conn. both claim the country’s first Christmas tree as early as 1777.
Traditionally the trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve and then removed after the 12th night. To have a tree up beyond the 12 days of Christmas was considered bad luck.
But now with the increasing commercialization and business of the holidays, it’s not uncommon to see Christmas trees in homes before Thanksgiving.
Personally I’m quite sure my aunt would display her love of Christmas and leave her tree up year round if it wasn’t so taboo.
It’s also interesting to note that some ultra-conservative Christians believe the Bible prohibits the Christmas Tree tradition in Jeremiah 10:3-4.
"For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
So whatever you call it, whichever origin you choose to believe, whether you hang your tree upside down or set it up-right and however long you choose to leave your tree up – lets lift our glass of eggnog and say a toast to the Christmas tree whose "branches green delight us."

ABC picks team to lead World News

ABC News announced yesterday that Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff would fill the void left by veteran anchor Peter Jennings on the networks nightly news cast.
The two are also expected to host a daily webcast, giving a summary of the days news before the nightly broadcast.
In choosing to invest in the future, ABC appears to be acknowledging that the network news landscape has changed mightily in the last year, in terms of talent rosters and technology used for delivering the news to consumers. Ms. Vargas and Mr. Woodruff, for example, will have as their principal rival a contemporary: Brian Williams, 46, who succeeded Mr. Brokaw as the anchor of "NBC Nightly News" on Dec. 2, 2004.

The team is also expected to broadcast a second news program for the west coast, rather than a rebroadcast of the east coast newscast.
It will be interesting to see what overall changes, if any, this will make to the way we get our news.
News directors all over the country are clammering for ways to attract a younger audience back to traditional media -- or find ways to transform their traditional forms to the new medias.

Already gone to press

It's 9:26 a.m. and we've already gone to press with our paper. Our normal press deadline is 10:30. We're moving ahead.
I came in at 8 a.m. after working on three stories till 1 a.m.
I was waiting on a phone call from a source and by the time he called the paper was already gone.
Oh well, that's why you write expecting you won't hear back from people in time.
But now I've got a follow-up story.
Sweet.

Monday, December 05, 2005

West Wing Season Five

The West Wing, Season 5, comes out on DVD tommorrow.
I still need to buy all the other seasons as well, but I think I may have to go jump on this one tomorrow.
Several places have lowered the cost on Seasons 1-3 to $20, but I haven't been able to find them anywhere. I guess I'll have to order them online if I don't get them for Christmas (hint - hint).
And last night's episode was really good.
This has been a really season. It will be interesting to see who they chose to win the presidential election.
I would imagine it would be Democratic nominee Santos, but they could surprise everyone with the Republican nominee.
We'll see.

#1 and #2 out

Last year's #2 team in the nation, UMHB, was beaten out in the second round of the NCAA Div III Playoffs. And this weekend, last year's #1 team, Linfield, was beat by Whitewater.
So going into the semi-finals, its Wesley (who beat UMHB) at Whitewater and Rowan at Mt Union (who UMHB beat last year).
I'm picking Wesley and Mt Union in the championship.
Who's your pick?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

24 year old runs for congress

I found these site this week...
Joey Dauben for Congress and Ellis County Observer
Funny, he makes a lot of claims about media attention and I've never heard of the guy until I oversaw a local official reading one of his blogs.
Oh well. Maybe I'm just not in the know.
I think Mike might enjoy them.
Apparently he's a big fan (or not) of our paper. Most of his news stories/blogs are in reference to the WDL.

Friday, December 02, 2005

AJ meets AJ

AJ Styles meets AJ Pierzynski

World series champion catcher A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox found himself in the middle of a brawl Tuesday, Nov. 29 in Orlando, Fla., when he attended a TV taping for TNA Wrestling's iMPACT!, which airs every Saturday night on SPIKE-TV (11 p.m. EST).
Pierzynski, a longtime pro wrestling fan, was there to present White Sox memorabilia including numerous team-signed items to The Phenomenal A.J. Styles, Chris Sabin and Sonjay Dutt -- three of the top wrestlers of TNA's electrifying, death-defying X-Division, a group of amazingly-talented wrestlers who have no fear, no limit and no boundaries.
During the presentation, the cocky Simon Diamond and his Diamonds in the Rough entourage of David Young and Elix Skipper interrupted the proceedings.
Dale Torborg, one of the White Sox' strength and conditioning coaches and a former pro wrestler (WCW's Demon), also was present, along with pro wrestling Hall of Famer Bobby The Brain Heenan.
Torborg, a former Florida Marlins conditioning coach, is the son of former major league player/coach/manager Jeff Torborg, now a broadcaster for FOX-TV.
The highlights from Pierzynski's TNA Wrestling appearance will air 10 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 8, during a one-hour prime-time iMPACT! wrestling show on SPIKE-TV.
Plus, Pierzynski will manage Sabin, Dutt and Torborg against Diamond, Young and Skipper in a live pay-per-view match on Sunday, Dec. 11 in Orlando. Fellow Major League Baseball players are expected to be in attendance to support Pierzynski.
During the White Sox 2005 playoff run, ESPN and numerous other media outlets referred to Pierzynski as, The Phenomenal A.J. Pierzynski, borrowing the nickname from Styles, TNA's X-Division champ.
Other athletes and celebrities including race car driver Hermie Sadler, ultimate fighters Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock and country music star Toby Keith have been involved in TNA matches in the past.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bush sent jurry summons

President Bush has received a jury summons in McLennan County.
It's unsure whether he'll report or not.