Category: General

Recent correspondence

On 06/24/2020 6:15 PM MICHAEL BROWN  <                         > wrote:
Hi Bill,
Greetings from Alabama, where we strive to not only be #1 in college football, but new coronavirus infections per capita as well. Roll Tide.
I imagine Mark or “JN Armstrong” have already sent you this, but I thought I would pass it along just in case:  https://harding.edu/benson
Of course it could never be otherwise. I find it all very wearisome. However, I did take note of McLarty’s dismissive description of my literary quest for truth as a mere “newspaper article,” the subtext being, of course, “Fake news!”
People still don’t get it.
Read the rest

Physician, diagnose thyself

I consider myself a better than average ocular diagnostician. Whenever my technician or an intern comes into my office and tells me a patient’s history and describes the patient’s signs and symptoms, I usually know what is wrong without even looking. I am like Carnac the Magnificent, only with a white coat and head-mounted ophthalmoscope instead of a cape and feathered turban.

In my head, I generate a list of three to four possible diagnoses and rank them according to their probability. If it is my technician, I tell him what I think is most likely going on and perhaps ask him to perform another test or two and then dilate the patient’s pupils.… Read the rest

How Mary Nell’s Handbell Got Saved

Jesus said to “Love they neighbor” and “thy enemy.” But what do you do when the person who lives next door to you is both?

I guess there aren’t any special dispensations for that scenario. You’re just supposed to suck it up and go. When it came to Mary Nell, our neighbor from 1995-2011, we tried–and failed–over and over and over.

We first met Mary Nell in August 1995 when we stopped by Corley Drive to check out the 10-year-old brick rancher with the huge backyard that had just gone on the market.

Well, “met” only if you count a dried-up prune of a little old lady glaring at you through window blinds as a “meeting.”… Read the rest

Coefficient of Friction

A former college professor of mine at Harding, Dr. Joe Pryor, was famous for his bow ties and his nerdy (and charming) way of saying things.

Whenever it snowed or iced in Searcy, Arkansas and the sidewalks around campus grew slick, he would stand behind the podium during chapel and declare, in his best Ben Stein “Ferris Beuller” economics teacher monotone, “Be careful walking around campus today; the coefficient of friction is extremely low.”

I thought of him last Sunday when the coefficient of friction on the roads near my birthplace in southwest Virginia suddenly dropped to near zero. It started snowing that morning, not hard, but enough to capture the attention of my sister’s two curious cats, Twinky and Zinger, who sat on their haunches and stared out the patio window watching the flakes fall.… Read the rest

Senior Coffee

I bought my first bottle of cheap wine in the fall of 1984 at a small convenience store near my apartment in Blacksburg, Virginia. By then I had graduated from Harding and moved on to Virginia Tech, so I didn’t run the risk of having two bullet-less Barney Fifes in a golf cart accosting me and frog-marching me to the Dean’s office for immediate expulsion.

I knew they often nabbed Harding students out celebrating their 21st birthdays at restaurants in Little Rock, but alumni in Blacksburg? Surely, purity had its mileage limits. The peace of mind and freedom were more intoxicating than the wine would ever be.… Read the rest

“Huntsville International”–A Rap Song I Actually Like, Yo!

I’ve never been afraid to embarrass my sons with my bungled attempts at humor and middle age antics–I consider it part of the job description of being a “Dad.” But truth be told, whenever I do something they think is cool, it thrills me to no end. But please don’t tell them that, because that would ruin everything.

For instance, my recent acquisition of a taste for (and reputation for listening to) rap music. Well, not all rap music, but one song in particular–“Huntsville International” by the local rap group, G-Side.

Here’s how a mortuary-white, hopelessly off-beat, middle age, pointy-headed pseudo-intellectual got turned on to a piece of hip-hop:

I’ve a long-time fan of the magazine Oxford American, which is sort of a distinctly Southern version of The New Yorker or The Atlantic.… Read the rest

Count Your Blessings

“Name them one by one,”  the song says. So here goes:

1. I’m running, not far or fast, but pain-free for the first time in quite a while. I’ve shifted my foot strike from my heel, which is where it’s been since fourth grade, to my forefoot. “Barefooting” as it’s sometimes called. I don’t exactly run barefoot on asphalt (ouch!), but I do use a “minimalist” training shoe, the Nike Free. This is supposed to be more “natural,” the way you were meant to run back in the day when your survival meant eluding a predator such as a saber-toothed tiger or that annoying herd of mastodons that lived over in the next valley.… Read the rest

A Tale of Two Schools: A Review of the 2010 Christian Scholars’ Conference

People look at you kind of strange when you tell them that you shelled out good money to attend something called a “Christian Scholars’ Conference” and that you actually enjoyed it. Reactions can range from “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like that?” to “Well, la-de-da!” But believe me, after a long season of Tim James political TV ads and rootin’ tootin’ “Ag Commish” wannabe viral videos, I was ready for a little more “la-de-da” in my life.

You know Eyegal and me–liberal arts geeks to the core. An itch like that doesn’t always get scratched sufficiently in a high tech town like Huntsville, Alabama.… Read the rest

Dmitri, You Stop That RIGHT NOW!

Gentle Fusioneers–

If you’re trying to read the comments on my blog you may have noticed you can’t. In fact, you can’t leave one either for that matter.

You can thank Dmitri for that. He’s one of the imaginary Russians that I race toward the end of my long runs (and always beat, BTW–USA!, USA!, USA!). But in real life he’s a spammer. A good one, too.

This time he left a piece of…well, you know what he left, that apparently corrupted my database. Rest assured, your five years worth of comments are still there, careening through the interwebs, floating in the virtual ether, and as soon as I can figure out to to retrieve them, they will appear again.… Read the rest

Why Some People Should Go Straight To Hell

tentslogoI would never tell my good friend Dr. Mark Elrod of Harding University (Hail!) to go to hell. He’s too nice a guy for that, plus he has this “condition”–an enlarged heart. Not the type that would cause you to keel over in the middle of a pick-up basketball game, but the kind that bleeds heavily when people are suffering. It’s a malady we could all use a little more of these days.

As for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, those purveyors of post-quake logorrhera, and the political dude from South Carolina who when speaking about people on public assistance used the analogy of denying animals food so they couldn’t “breed” but now “regrets” saying that even though it brought him much attention and fired up his “evangelical” base–I would wish them all straight to hell in a handbasket.… Read the rest

All Eyes Are On Alabama, And It Feels So Right

Bama washingtonIf you’re going to stand in line in subfreezing temperatures in order to enter the holy of holies of college basketball, then you’d better know your stuff because every other Cameron Crazie wannabe standing in line with you sure will.

Well, mostly anyway.

When it comes to football, we were a motley crew, united only in our love for Duke basketball. Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Penn State and Rutgers were just a few of the schools represented in our little knot of frozen fandom near the front of the line.

Kid Clemson, the guy in the Tiger hoodie in front of me, was a veritable walking encyclopedia of sports statistics.… Read the rest

I Don’t Hate UT, But Bama Man Does

The Third (or thereabouts) Saturday in October is upon us, and if you’re a true Crimson-blooded Tide fan, that means one thing: Tennessee Hate Week.

The problem is, I’m just not feeling it. The hate, that is. No, I am full of love for all mankind–even, and perhaps most especially, my many friends, neighbors, co-workers and dear, dear family who are loyal Volunteers. You see, it’s been quite a year for our family, and frankly, football is just not that high on my priority list anymore. I’ve grappled with some enormous challenges, and the raging, blind forces of fate have compelled me to consider once again, What are The True First Things of Life?… Read the rest

25 Random Things About The Eyeguy

Arrrrgh!

Why am I resorting to pirate talk so early in the morning? Because I’ve been tagged about a gazillion times in yet another internet meme, this time on Facebook: 25 Random Things About Me.

Not that I mind that much, it’s just that it has that whole cheesy, chain-letter feel. When I was a kid, my mother would always make a big production about ripping those up and throwing them in the trashcan whenever we received one, so it’s probably just one of those weird Baby Boomer childhood psychological baggage flashback things. Don’t sweat it if you tagged me; I’ll deal with it like I always do.… Read the rest

Abileners–Be On the Lookout For This Man

I’m taking time out from our regular Olympic programming for a special bulletin to my Abilene readers. Please be on the lookout for this man:

col_doug_mendenhall.gif

He was last spotted headed west “on the road to Abilene” with his wife Janet and a van full of kids. But don’t worry, he’s not dangerous; he’s just a little wordy sometimes.

You see, Doug is headed there to fulfill a lifetime dream of teaching in the journalism department at his alma mater, Abilene Christian University. For years, he’s been working at The Huntsville Times and writing a regular column “Soul Food,” which he also turned into a book, How Jesus Ended Up in the Food Court: Seventy-seven Devotional Thoughts You Never Thought About Before.Read the rest