Supercentenarians of the World–Live Long!

On January 31, 2011, Eunice Sanborn, widely believed to be the world’s oldest person, died in Jacksonville, Texas at the age of 115–bless her heart. She handed off the baton to Besse Cooper, 114, who was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee on August 26, 1896. Bless her heart too.

And let’s not forget to bless Frank Buckles while we’re at it. A veritable pup in comparison–he turned 110 on February 1st–Frank is the sole remaining US veteran of World War I, the Last American Doughboy (what cohort of uber-humans, pray tell, comes before The Greatest Generation?).

When the three of them, squirming, grunting, caterwauling little bundles of joy and raw, “FEED ME!”… Read the rest

Confessions of a Tiger Dad

In case you’ve been in solitary confinement on another planet in a distant galaxy far, far away, Yale law professor and author Amy Chua recently threw a full container of kerosene onto the Mommy Wars fire with her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, portions of which were excerpted in The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ article drew the most comments ever for a single story in that publication (as of this writing, 7577 and counting). News flash: People have very strong opinions on parenting! If you want a firestorm of controversy, all you have to do is advocate strongly a particular style or method and then stand back and watch everything blow up like all the props in a Steven Segal movie.Read the rest

Words Fitly Spoken

but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

–James 3:8

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The first time I read that verse was on a the cover of a tract which had been left behind on a shelf inside the pulpit at the Roanoke Church of Christ in the 1960s. We kids weren’t supposed to be playing there, but the adults were too busy talking to notice and the prospect of discovering what mysteries were hidden behind that “holy of holies” was too tempting to pass up.

The tract was fire-engine red and had an animation on the cover depicting a man with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, like a dimply red carpet unfurled.… Read the rest

Like Wool

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

–Isaiah 1:18

I am sending out this dispatch from Ground Zero of The End of Days, Huntsville, Alabama.

Although I have yet to whip out the measuring stick, there appears to be about 8 inches of snow on my patio. To top it all, tonight Auburn plays for the national championship in college football. It appears the Mayans were almost right, just off by a year.

We are warm and toasty.… Read the rest

Christmas Ice

I’ve slid off icy roads twice in my life. In each case it was around Christmas time and my mother was involved.

The first time was shortly after Christmas 1977. She and I were driving to Roanoke in a blue, 1972 Chevy Impala sedan, heavy as an elephant, but rear wheel drive. Most likely we were aiming to exchange some presents or burn up some gift cash at a post-Christmas sale.

I had my learner’s permit, and we had just covered “steering into the skid” in my driver’s ed lecture. I was eager to convert all that theory to some practical experience on the fresh veneer of slick, blue ice which covered the roads around our house and glistened invitingly in the mid-morning winter sun.… Read the rest

A Church of Christer’s Guide To Communion At An Episcopal Church

Recently a Church of Christ friend of mine wrote to me and said that he was considering attending an Episcopal Church Christmas Eve service and that he was a little intimidated by the prospect of having to walk forward and take communion. Could I help out?

Oh yes. Yes I can. Glad you asked.

First off, let me say this: Dude’s got guts. Most Church of Christers I know have never even set foot inside another church except for weddings and funerals. Some may have been taught that “they’re it” and if there’s nobody else out there, why bother? Or even if they don’t believe that, they still feel as if they might be betraying their parents or now deceased relatives by even associating with other “religious people” Christians in an actual spiritual context, as opposed to something more secular and therefore safer like, say, a NASCAR race at Talledega or a football game in Tuscaloosa.… Read the rest

Giving the Mundane Its Beautiful Due

Eyegal said it in passing just as the Duke v. Bradley game was set to tip off last night. It was one of those comments designed not so much to inform as to query, and I recognized it as such. I was preoccupied with Duke point guard Kyrie Irving who was sitting out the game with a toe ailment and the effects that would have on my beloved Dukies’ offense to pay it much mind. But I suppose I paid it enough since I did answer back, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s always this blog post.

“We’re starting to get some Christmas cards,” she called out from the kitchen.… Read the rest

If God Is An Auburn Tiger–I Quit

God is always on the side of the big battalions.

–Voltaire

A friend reminded me of this quote recently as we “tweeted” about the idea that God might actually “take sides” in a football game. Or for that matter, any of the myriad of contests, skirmishes, wars, etc. which we deem so important.

I’ve written on the relationship between college football and religion many times before, most recently here. The key to understanding that last post is that it was intended as pure, 100%, unadulterated parody, designed to poke fun at the very idea that God is a Crimson Tide fan or that God and football mix together in any sort of significant way.… 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

On This Night, No “Rammer Jammer”

In the end, there was no “Rammer Jammer,” only a circle of prayer.

Such was the scene at the fifty yard line in the middle of the field of battle surrounded by the towering expanse of Bryant Denny, the Temple of All Things Tide. Crimson clad warriors kneeling with maroon and white gladiators, shoulder-to-shoulder, gloved hand-in-gloved hand, pausing to grieve over and remember one of their own who had fallen, a victim caught up and devoured in the cruel maw of contingency and circumstance.

If there was one thing that world of college football needed after the 24/7 melodrama of Cecil and Cam Newton it was perspective.… Read the rest

My Battle With Burnt Chimney Bullies

The recent national conversation on bullying has–no surprise–sparked a nostalgic neuron or two inside my rapidly-balding head.

I was an easy mark for playground bullies at Burnt Chimney Elementary School in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I was short, nerdy, carried more than my share of baby fat, and I cried a lot. By the time I was in 3rd grade, I was nearsighted and had to wear glasses, the only one in my class. To make matters worse, whenever a wasp flew in my direction, I would try to make it “go away” by holding my breath until I nearly passed out.… Read the rest

Five Years On, The Times They Are a-Changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

–Bob Dylan

I recently passed my fifth blogiversary without so much as a blink. I completely forgot about it until someone else who started blogging about the same time as I did mentioned theirs.

I marked the first one with a post in which I basically interviewed myself (Hubris alert!).Read the rest

Entoptic Phenomena

entoptic phenomena: Events taking place totally within the eye

The way my patients squint and squirm in the chair, you’d think I was coming at them with a dentist’s drill. Or worse yet, a serpentine colonoscope, which, aside from a sword, is perhaps the coldest and most impersonal use of steel man has ever devised.

But I’m not that kind of doctor. I’m an optometrist, and the only instruments of torture I’m wielding—at the moment, anyway—are a large, table-mounted flashlight which, when turned all the way to “11,” rivals the glory of the sun, and a tiny, hand-held Coke-bottle thick magnifying glass, the kind you used to fry ants when you were a kid.… Read the rest

My Villa Appalaccia

The Purveyor eyed me warily as I walked into his shop, located on a charming, picturesque side street just off of Main in historic downtown Lexington, Virginia. I apparently didn’t strike him as fellow traveler on the wine tasting circuit. Perhaps his nose was finely attuned to sniffing out “Who’s Who” in the world of high-brow alcoholic beverages.

Maybe he simply smelled the moonshine in my blood.

“So, which of the Villa Appalaccia wines do you like best?” I asked him. Eyegal and I had veered off the beaten path coming up from Alabama for my 30th high school reunion and driven down to Meadows of Dan.… Read the rest

Go, You Old Eagles

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

–Ferris Bueller

I was recently voted Most Likely to Produce Killer Reunion Name Tags by my high school class.

Now that may not sound like a big deal, but I consider it quite an honor. Especially compared to the Senior Superlative I received when I was actually in high school–Most Studious.

Yeah, yeah, I know, knock you all over with a feather. Yup, if there’s one way to become King of the High School Hill and get the girls, it’s to be known as Mr.… Read the rest