Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #69

Went to Mass with my wife and her family. According to the Church calendar, it was the "Feast of the Holy Family".

The priest made a comment during his homily (Cliff Note Sermon), when he was talking about the differences between our families and the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph), that actually made me chuckle out loud. I tried to keep it down, but Lisa noticed. He mentioned the mystery of Jesus being conceived miraculously in Mary's womb, and Mary being conceived miraculously in her mother's womb. Okay, Jesus' conception was miraculous. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit overshadowing the (at the time) Virgin Mary. But to say something similar happened to Mary was hysterical to me.

(NOTE: Please understand that this is based on one comment during a 15-minute or so sermon. The rest of it was beautiful, honest, heart-warming, and challenging to us the listeners. It was a terrific sermon by a man who obviously loves God and His people.}

See, the Catholic Church has deemed that Mary is "ever virgin". She was the mother of God, and therefore HAD to be sinless in order to carry Jesus. The problem with that is that in order for Mary to be born sinless, HER mother had to be born sinless, and HER mother before her, all the way to Eve. She never consummated her marriage to Joseph (which means they lived in sin, doesn't it?!?) so she was "ever virgin". Something that powerful should be pretty clear in scripture. It's not. No where do you find a passage that tells of an angel coming to Mary's mother and telling her, "Behold, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the child that will be conceived will be the mother of God, who will have the Holy Spirit come upon HER, so that the child SHE conceives will be Christ the Lord." If the account of John the Baptist's conception/birth would take so much ink, you'd think something as important as Mary's conception would ALSO warrant a few lines of scripture.

Mary was a young girl, never having known a man, when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Because of this conception, Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. If Mary was conceived similarly, SHE would be 100% God and 100% man as well. That is not true. She herself said that she was in need of a savior. Jesus, on the other hand, did not. She was also not "ever virgin". She gave birth to her "first-born" child. To say "first-born" denotes at least a "second-born". Secondly, later in the gospels it is told of Jesus' brothers and sisters (the word used does NOT translate as "cousin"). And finally, it's difficult to believe that God would want Mary and Joseph to never consummate their relationship.

I understand why the Catholic Church came up with this: it was in response to the concept that if Jesus was born of sinful flesh, He Himself would be born with sin. But the solution given doesn't hold water (referring to Mary's whole lineage needing to be sinless).

I'm surprised that nobody even presented this argument at the time.

Or, maybe someone did. People died over "heresy" often back in the day. ;-)

© Emittravel 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Morn

A gift to my readers, and especially to my biggest fan - my darling wife Lisa. Merry Christmas!

Early morning whispers of snow touched trees
Gentle breezes make soft blankets dance
Ghosts in sunlight twirling through branches
The quiet lingering

Inside you lay sleeping still floating in dream
Curled under covers of flannel and fleece
Gone is the hurried preparedness brings
The silence enveloping

The moment too perfect to shatter with speech
The rays through the window gracing your cheek
Moving ever closer the embrace to extend
The stillness breathing

Christmas morn

J.P. Wiegand
© Emittravel 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Cleveland Tans

In 1945, Arthur McBride founded the Cleveland Browns - named after Paul Brown, the first head coach of the team. They were part of the AAFC (All-American Football Conference), where they won a championship in each of the four years of the league's existence. Later to become a member of the NFL (do I really have to tell you what "NFL" means?!?), where they won a number of championships in the early years, and made the playoffs a total of fourteen times.

In 1995, Art Modell, then owner of the Browns, moved the team to Baltimore, where they became the Ravens. This put the Browns on a hiatus for a few years, resuming in 1999.

On October 3, 2013, former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, a member of the Football Hall of Fame, was honored during the halftime show between the Browns and the Buffalo Bills at Cleveland's First Energy Stadium. It was an emotional event, and rightfully so. Only one problem: the wrong team was giving him honor.

Like I said above, in 1995, Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. Not only did he move the team, but he moved the history as well. A football team's history is an amalgamation of players and staff coming and going throughout the years. When the Browns moved to Baltimore, the history of that team, the players current and former, the coaching and support staff over all of those years, went with it. Jim Brown's famous career went with it. When the Browns started up again in 1999, THEY STARTED ALL OVER. Out with Bill Belichick, in with Chris Palmer. Hell, we can even go as far as saying out with the Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in with Cleveland Browns Stadium (now First Energy Stadium).

The only history today's Cleveland Browns can look back to starts in 1999. The Baltimore Ravens? They can look all the way back to 1945 and Paul Brown. The old Browns/Steelers rivalry? In Baltimore. We can have a "new" one if we want, but it's not the same.

For me? I call them the "Cleveland Tans", because they haven't earned the color yet. I'm still rooting for them, and to eliminate confusion I'm still calling myself a "Brown's fan". Though after the above, you too now know what I mean by that.

(On a side note: Whenever Cleveland and Baltimore play against each other, can it be said that the Browns are "playing with themselves"?)

© Emittravel 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Times, They Ain't a Changin'

Recently, Popular Science shut down the ability to make comments on its website.

You'll notice that there are no comments on that article … uh … yeah … Actually, when I first looked at the article it showed "Comments" with a count of "zero". Now the article has links to Twitter, Facebook, etc. In other words, Popular Science welcomes comments, just not on their site.

This has been a topic of online conversation, blogs, and news, and rightfully so. The main argument I've seen was concerning whether or not this was censorship. Well, for one, it IS a private entity and has the right. It's not a publically-funded entity, where that would be an issue. Being able to make comments on a site is not a "right", but an option provided by the website to stimulate conversation. But unfortunately, spammers, trolls, and people being plain rude have ruined comments. No longer a means of discourse; just a way to be coarse.

As usual, I'm going to look at this from a different angle. One that looks at part of the article (linked above) that has been brushed aside.

PopSci (I LOVE that shortened name, by the way) believes that things like the origins of climate change are apparently without opposing scientific proof. Comments that shed any doubt on the "popular consensus" are detrimental and need to be shut down.

Let me remind you: Whenever you remove dissension to scientific findings, you have removed the validity of those scientific findings.

Take a moment and read that again. Let it sink in. Really. I'll wait.

History has proven that there is no such thing as empirical scientific absolutes. Let me give you an example. For about a century, scientists were convinced that light was a wave. In 1905, Albert Einstein challenged that conviction in that light was not only a wave, but also a particle. Now, according to the majority, Albert Einstein was wrong. Two decades later the dual concept of light was finally accepted. It took two whole decades for the MAJORITY of scientific EXPERTS to admit that they COULD be wrong.

It is this same hutzpah today that plagues the scientific community. Without such men as Albert Einstein challenging the status quo, we would not have the scientific breakthroughs of our day today. I know, "but that was Albert Einstein". In 1905, Albert Einstein was a patent clerk with a passion for physics, not the Nobel Prize-winning man we came to admire much later.

Again, history has proven that there is no such thing as empirical scientific absolutes.

Scientists today suffer the same malady that those in Albert Einstein's day suffered: unmitigated arrogance. They fully believed that those before them were genuine, sincere, but seriously misguided in their understanding of (name the subject), and that they themselves were far superior in their intellectual comprehension of (that same subject).

Until those, and their supporters, understand that those in our future will also consider US borderline Neanderthals in OUR expertise, the true ability for scientific expansion will be arrested. And Popular Science has willingly supplied the handcuffs.

© Emittravel 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wisdom from the Porcelain Pulpit #3

It's J.P., with more "Wisdom from the Porcelain Pulpit".

I was reading a book (and minding my own business … ) called "Living it Up" by George Burns, when a chapter hit me between the eyes. I wanted to share with you the impact it left upon me.

The book was published in 1976. The copy I'm reading is in a compilation entitled "The Most of George Burns" (published in 1991 by Galahad Books - a division of LDAP, Inc. - ISBN: 0-88365-782-1). This is not the first George Burns book I've read, so I was used to hearing his voice in my head as I read. His humor rang loud and clear through his writing so absolute that you couldn't help but hear him. And the same is true with the chapter of "Living it Up" that hit me so hard: "No More Applause".

The first sentence: "On August 27, 1964, Gracie passed away."

Gracie Allen was not only George's partner on stage, but his life off it. George passed away in 1996. That's 32 years after she died - and he never remarried. Gracie was George's inspiration, his joy, and his soul mate. He talks in the chapter of the last few months together, her passing, and how he "coped". I was crying when I finished reading it. I wanted to read it out loud to my wife, one more time, before sitting down to write this, but I couldn't make it passed the first sentence. Who am I kidding? I didn't make it through the first sentence at all. Lisa read it to me - since it would be "fresh" for her. And I cried even more the second time through.

Why did I cry? What was it about their story that struck me so? I never met them. I only know OF them. I've seen some of their work. But I've never known them. So, why did I cry? I think it was that I connected with George on his love for his wife - with the love I have for mine.

George talked about going on after Gracie was gone. I've wondered what life would be like without Lisa - and I have difficulty imagining it. I can't imagine each day, trying to live beyond the eventual routine, without her. I've even hoped that I would go first - so I wouldn't have to deal with the loss. (Lisa has such a stronger character than I, that I figured she would make it fine without me.)

George said that after a time that he stopped crying on his visits to Gracie. He said that he discovered "that there are just so many tears one can cry and that crying is not going to change a thing."

Maybe so. But for now, when I think of life without Lisa, the tears DO make me feel better.

© Emittravel 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #68

I think it is hysterical that man, in all of his evolved genius, cannot create a computer equal to a human brain - which, by evolutionist/naturalist terms, is nothing more than a chance combination of arbitrary chemical reactions. Maybe someday he will, but I wonder how - with a brain that is essentially nothing but an accident. Possibly BY accident?

© Emittravel 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Speak Now, Or Forever …

One day I thought it would be fun to experiment with Microsoft's Speech Recognition (MSR) software. I have a Surface RT, which has a decent built-in microphone, so I started the program and played. MSR has the ability to let you do most operations on the unit, along with dictation. For me, the dictation feature was what I was interested in. After all, the Surface RT has terrific touch screen functionality, so outside of the times my hands have recently been coated with hand lotion, touch is great.

I opened up OneNote (one of my favorite apps) and tried to "blog".

Total disaster. Not MSR. That worked very well. I just realized that not only am I terrible at public speaking, but I also stink at private speaking. It is much more efficient for me to express my thoughts through my fingers than my tongue. That's where I find that writing becomes such a valuable tool for self-expression.

As I wrote previously in "Pleased to Meet You, Hope You Guess My Name", writing can be great therapy. People say that you need to get things off of your chest by sharing it with others. Sometimes I think that speaking something can unknowingly give it "power". Kind of like sharing a fish story, the issue can grow with each telling. But with writing, there is a "finality" to it. You craft your thoughts and lay them out on paper (or a screen, as the case may be), and they become solidified. There is a firmness to it. That "finality" becomes a marker. Like a head stone. (Get it?)

When you write, you can't lie as easily either. Every time you reread what you wrote, the lie will glare back at you - and you will get no "deliverance". Writing practically forces you to be honest with yourself. And that's where all healing begins.

If you have something that needs to be expressed, go ahead and write it out. You'll feel better.

© Emittravel 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Am Here for You

My ear is yours
            scream if you want to
My shoulder is yours
            cry if you want to
My hand is yours
            hold on if you want to
My mouth is yours
            be encouraged if you want to
My heart is yours
            be comforted if you want to

Be your pain
I am here for you

Be your sorrow
I am here for you

My ear
            are yours

J.P. Wiegand
©Emittravel 2005

Words of encouragement to a hurting friend. I wanted her to know that she isn't alone; nor does she have to suffer alone.

It's humbling when someone opens up to you and shares their pain with you. As the saying goes, "sorrow shared is halved - joy shared is doubled". Makes being a friend all the more significant. -j.p.
©Emittravel 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

Over and Out!

Have you ever heard the expression: "Knowledge is power"? That is so true - in most cases, but not always. Sometimes knowledge can take the fun out of things!

I've never been much of a war movie fan. Never could find the entertainment value in them. Oh, there are the stories of great bravery and all, but for the most part, "realism" in a war movie can be a deterrent. Don't get me wrong; I don't hate all things "war" (M*A*S*H, Hogan's Heroes, McHale's Navy), I just could never get into them too much.

I'm not anti-military (even though the three television shows mentioned above tended to snub their noses at it). I served in the US Navy from 1984 - 1988. I was a (frocked) 2nd Class Petty Officer - Radioman when I finished. Frocked means I wore the stripes (and chevron), had all of the benefits and responsibilities, but without the pay. My DD-214 paperwork shows me departing as an E-4 (3rd Class Petty Officer), though my uniform showed 2nd Class Petty Officer (E-5). I really enjoyed my time in the service. I spent most of my time on the USS Elrod (FFG-55) doing what I loved. I kept my time to one term of enlistment for reasons other than the work.

One thing that the knowledge I had gained gave me, was a distaste for Hollywood's portrayal of the military. And it comes down to one phrase: "Over and out." Every time I hear that I want to beat someone OVER the head until they're OUT!

In communications, there are two possible ways to end a transmission:

"Over" - I am done transmitting. Please respond.
"Out" - I am done transmitting. DO NOT respond.

Every time I hear "Over and out" I hear "I am done transmitting. Please respond AND shut up!"

Hey Hollywood! It's one OR the other. NOT BOTH!

Sorry. Being that "knowledge is power", I just ruined movies for you.

So if you care to comment, please do. Over."

© Emittravel 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Unpredictable Predictability

My wife and I purchased a scooter a few years ago. I'm not talking the kind the kids ride around on (my leg gets REALLY tired trying to keep it moving - how DO they do that?!?), and I'm not talking about those nifty ones you can find at your local Wal-Mart (they really need to attach bells to those darn things!). I'm talking about a 2009 Kymco Grand Vista scooter.

A wonderful ride. The thing got between 65 and 70 miles per gallon, and I've had it just over 70 mph on the freeway - without my wife on it (she wouldn't go near a freeway) - until I saw that I was going just over 70 mph and QUICKLY slowed down!

Last year we sold it and purchased a 2009 Honda Shadow.

Another wonderful ride. Not sure of the top speed, but I've had it just over 70 mph on the freeway - WITH my wife on it (had to take the turnpike home one time).

I'm fortunate to have two great rides: the motorcycle and a 2004 Jeep Wrangler. Both vehicles are great for sunny days - only one is good in foul weather. I'll let you figure out which.

Which brings me to the topic of this particular blog entry: the unpredictable predictability of the weather. One day last fall, I had taken the Shadow to work because the weather had been predicted as only a 10% chance of rain that day. Understand, that means historically, with similar weather conditions, it only rained 10% of the time. 90% of the time that weather didn't happen. Sometime close to the end of the work day I called my wife to let her know that that 10% had turned into 100%!! I rode home in pouring rain; including through quite a few areas of standing water. When I got home I took my boots off and poured water out of them.

Is it me, or has the weather become more unpredictable over time? Technology has definitely improved, but there seems to be a disconnect between the available data and the way it gets interpreted. Some would say it's "Global Warming" (or the new, cop-out label: "Climate Change"), but that's difficult to believe. For the record, when they say "Global Warming" or "Climate Change", what they mean to say is "Man-made Global Warming" or "Man-made Climate Change". As I made the argument in "Man-made Global Warming? Mother Nature Disagrees!", if it was natural weather cycles or "natural" occurrences, it wouldn't be a hot topic (pun intended). Back in the 1970s we were told of an inevitable ice age around the corner due to "Global Cooling". Clearly, they have NO idea what they are talking about. Aren't both U.S. coastlines supposed to be underwater by now?

I can understand "Climate Change" being so difficult to predict. There's an awful lot of data there to work through. But can't they at least get today's weather close? And don't start telling me how different the two "sciences" are - they both use a lot of the same data (including tidal shifts, water flows, air currents, etc.).

And on the flip side, if today's weather is so difficult to predict, how in the heck are they supposed to understand anything so long-term as "Climate Change" - or the 10-day forecast for that matter!

C'mon! I just want to know if I can ride the Shadow, or if I need to take the Jeep - WITH the top up ...

© Emittravel 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #67

Looking at the state of this country (foreign relations, government overreach, national debt, etc.), you come to one of two conclusions: either the Republicans are complicit and jointly responsible, or the Democrats did it all by themselves and the Republicans have proven themselves as completely inconsequential as a party, and should go AWAY. Of course, if they keep on the track they are on (TALKING small, limited government on one side of their mouths, and expanding it at a record pace out of the other side), they WILL go away completely on their own.

Hey Republicans, if you want me to support liberal ideologies, I'll vote Democrat - they are simply better at it!

© Emittravel 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

You Break It ...

There is a verse in the bible that, for years, has been presented as a justification for the concept of women being the "weaker sex". I admit, for years, I too had thought the same. Let's take a look at the verse:
"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
In my article "Cliché Christianity", I talk about looking at the value of the entire verse over pulling parts out of it. For the sake of this particular article, I'm going to focus on just a specific portion - or the length of this article may get out of hand! Keep in mind, that the parts that I do not focus on will become even more clear after I'm done - so make sure you go back and look at the rest of the verse in light of this.
When I was a kid, and had first heard the "weaker vessel" concept, I had this image in mind of a woman being like a china doll. What do you do with a china doll? You place it high on a shelf and admire it - preferably from a distance. Looking at the "vessel" that way, what purpose, or function, can be derived? A woman is something to look at and admire - but DO nothing.
Now, that idea does  fit the concept of "honoring", but something doesn't jive when you look at the "being heirs together (or 'joint heirs' [KJV]) of the grace of life". When you match that up with Galatians 3:28 ("… there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" [NKJV]), it's difficult to give the china doll vision much credence.
What if it isn't "china doll", but more like "chinaware"?
Remember when you were a kid, and your mom or grandma would tell you to set the table? So, you pulled out the dishes and glasses …
Side story: I was home from the Navy when we had a surprise party to celebrate my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. One of the gifts was a set of glasses - similar to the kind you would get from a bank for opening a checking account. I remember my dad proclaiming, "Twenty-five years of marriage and finally a set of glasses that match. Honey, throw out the jelly jars!"
… and started to set the table, when she would say, "Not those. We have company coming. Set out the fine china." Did you do anything differently? Did you handle the dishes any differently? Sure you did. You GENTLY placed the plates on the table. The crystal glasses were positioned just so. The good silverware polished and set out according to size (or whatever!) When the meal was over, did you just stack them up and stick them in the dishwasher? Heck no! Each dish was handled individually: hand washed and dried, and carefully put away - most likely in a china cabinet with glass doors to show them off.
Now wait a minute! Don't they do the same thing as the regular dishes? Don't the china plates hold food like the regular ones? Can you drink the liquid out of crystal the same as "jelly jars"? Of course! So why the difference? The VALUE of the china is higher than the regular plates, and thus should be treated appropriately. You  know: honored.
Men and women are equal in function and purpose, but not in value. Therefore, husbands are to HONOR their wives as such.
Women are fine china. Men are CorningWare®.
© Emittravel 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #66

The Boy Scouts of America recently voted to allow gay (defined as "homosexual" - not "happy") boys to join starting next year. After that WILL come gay adult scout leaders - it is inevitable. Don't believe me? Pandora's Box people.

Once you allow so-called gay marriage, you then HAVE to allow everything else. Anything less would be considered "intolerance". Now it's gay Boy Scouts, next gay Boy Scout leaders.

And after that I expect a full, PUBLIC apology to the Catholic priesthood for all of the grief given to it, for the apparently faulty prejudice against the claims of pedophilia. (I know that not all gay adults are pedophiles, but one of the main reasons against allowing gay adult scout leaders has been the fear of possible pedophilia.)

© Emittravel 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cliché Christianity

Philippians 4:6 - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…" (New King James Version)

Ever quote only half a verse? You know, the part you LIKE? I call that "Cliché Christianity". Whenever someone is hurting we spout off these partial verses, sometimes even out of context, and pat ourselves on the back for being a fount of grace and wisdom to a needy brother or sister. Now, I'm not saying that it is wrong to encourage someone, but by grabbing only a part of a verse we can lose some great gifts from God.

The above verse is a good example of this. I purposely only gave you half the verse, because it is (actually more often than not) quoted as such. There is great truth that we miss when you don't bring the second portion into it:

Philippians 4:6 - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (New King James Version)

I was "breaking bread" with a dear friend one evening (okay, it was steak, not bread - but I AM writing about clichés here), and he was sharing with me some difficult times he was having. But even in the midst of his torment, he had peace. He didn't really understand why, but he did. Other people were judging him; rubbing salt in his wounds (ANOTHER cliché! They just keep coming!). Yet, he KNEW that God wasn't. He knew the situation he was in was not the ideal - the perfect - but he was honest with God, and he KNEW that God was okay with it. Not saying that God was condoning or approving, but that, like a truly loving and empathic God, He cared. And by empathic I mean that God, by His Son Jesus, experienced the joys and pains of humanity and therefore feels WITH (empathy) us, not just FOR (sympathy) us.

Let's look at the above situation in relation to the verse - in total. Did my friend have reason to be anxious? Sure he did. And if he couldn't come up with a reason, I'm sure many of those other people would have given him substantial reasons to. But what does the verse say? "Be anxious for nothing…" I'm thinking of another cliché when I read that: "Be the ball". But the verse does not say to BE anxious, it says to be anxious for NOTHING. Remember, this is not the elimination of anxiousness - you can still be experiencing it in the midst of peace - just not BE it.

What did my friend do? He prayed. With thanksgiving. He made his requests known to God. He poured out his heart. THEN what happened? The peace of God. Now, I was having a little difficulty in phrasing that last sentence. I wanted to say something like "The peace of God was bestowed upon him like a gift." But that didn't fit the verse. The verse said that the peace of God will GUARD your heart and mind. The peace of God is not like a locked door, but more like a sentry. The first is an inactive barrier. The second is ACTIVELY keeping you secure. That means the peace is a presence. The Holy Spirit? A guardian angel? Perhaps. Sure fits.

One thing more: the peace of God "surpasses understanding". That means you will not be able to grasp it. Like finite trying to grasp infinite. You don't have to understand everything. Heck, where do you think the concept of "dark matter" came from? A math formula wouldn't work out to explain something in the universe, so "dark matter" was devised to make the formula work. And since the formula works, then it has been determined that "dark matter" MUST exist. Talk about mental gymnastics! But see? Wanting to understand is part of our nature. But you don't HAVE to. Sometimes it is best to just "let go and let God" (sorry, couldn't resist at least one more cliché!)

So remember: clichés sound good, but are rarely what is needed. Take time to be with someone in their hurt. A little empathy goes a lot farther to comfort someone. Remember: don’t judge until you've walked a mile in someone's shoes . . .

© Emittravel 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Through These Doors

An exit?
Or an entrance?
The end?
Or the beginning?
Perspective determines attitude.
Or is it the other way around?
Where are you going?
Have you given it thought?
Or are you walking through these doors
into the hands of chance?
The footsteps of the righteous
are ordained of the Lord.
As you pass through these doors,
they will close behind you;
forever separating these portions of your life.
Memories that fade in time.
Your future lays before you.
Your past behind you.
Through these doors.

J.P. Wiegand
©Emittravel 2000

Written initially in a blank graduation card with a picture of a set of doors on the card’s face. Posting this today in honor of my niece's graduation from high school. -j.p.

©Emittravel 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Socialized Medicine. Here?

Received a card from my employer. On one side it states, with a graphic: The Law: Health Care Reform, and a list of websites:,, and On the reverse side it tells you to start planning for the law; a statement telling you that all U.S. Citizens, residents and their dependents are required to have qualifying health coverage; our company's open enrollment period; and a list of our options. Here is where the hair stands up on my arms (I shave my head, so there isn't any on the back of my neck).

Here are the options AS LISTED:

 • A government sponsored program
 • An eligible employer-sponsored plan
 • A health plan offered in the individual market within a state
 • Other coverage which is approved by the regulatory authorities
 • Shared responsibility payment/penalty payable to the IRS

Did you notice the first one? Why, of all of those, is that the FIRST option? Get a government-sponsored program. Maybe it's just me, but I would think that for those trying to suppress the idea that we have taken one small step for health care, and one giant step for socialism, that you would NOT put government ANYTHING first. I'm thinking it would be the fourth, followed by the bitch-slap of the IRS.

Whether or not you agree that we need a better healthcare system in the United States, you SHOULD be concerned that we are moving more and more toward a FAILED system of government. Failed? Oh yes. For all of my liberal we-need-equality-for-true-fairness folks, you must agree, that true fairness is not based on the big government leaders and the small people (people who are all equal - just not with the leaders), a.k.a. "socialism", but where the people are equal in OPPORTUNITY to PURSUE "happiness". The differences in the people are then based on how they did or did not TAKE the opportunity. Fairness  is based on effort, not on results.

The United States is an experiment in government. You cannot truly have a solid experiment where the experiment is constantly being changed while the experiment is in process. How does one know where success and failure lie? The farther we've gone from the founders' intentions when this government was "birthed", the less you can truthfully state that democracy is a failure.  And THAT you can list first!

© Emittravel 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #65

We are hearing in the news of quite a few companies and government departments getting "hacked", with personal data from us customers, employees, and constituents getting stolen. Just recently, the city of Akron, OH had their Bureau of Taxation "hacked" with information from filers stolen too. With few exceptions, public statements telling us that we need to go in and change passwords,  and to make sure that we are using secure passwords - including helpful information on how to create one - are trotted out.

Wait a minute! WE didn't get hacked, YOU did. WE were collateral damage! Why don't YOU make sure your systems are more secure so WE don't have to worry about our passwords getting stolen?!?

Me? I'm a little tired of the "pass the buck" mentality. Sure, we need to make sure our passwords are secure, but we need passwords to access YOUR systems. Just make sure you keep YOUR doors secure as well.

© Emittravel 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

Martha, Martha

"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.'

And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'” Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

The above passage from the Gospel of Luke is well-known as a reminder to keep one's focus on Jesus and to not let oneself become overburdened with lesser things. Well, at least it's been taught as such.

My wife and I belong to a small group in our church for married folk. As a lot of these groups go, there is usually a book that is used as a tool to guide the group along a topic or special concern for the group. In the book we are using, the passage from Luke was used. The questions asked were, "What kinds of avoidable pressures was Jesus trying to get Martha to release? How did He help her get a more accurate perspective?" My answers? "The business of trying to be the hostess with the mostess (intentional misspelling). He pointed to the one she was complaining about and told Martha that Mary was actually right. And I'm sure Martha 'appreciated' THAT!"

Apparently, I'm not as spiritually intuitive as others, and failed to see the wisdom that so many previous teachers had come up with concerning it. One of the people in the group was honest enough to admit that he wasn't really sure either what the passage meant, so he took some time to do some research and stated what some commentators of the passage had said. Things like, in that time, a meal was multi-coursed and it was socially expected to produce such a meal when entertaining. That was why Martha was so busy - it was expected! Now, I'm sure such commentators are learned individuals with many initials following their names, but I think they are full of hooey!

If you take a moment to look at the passage, you will notice that it stands alone. There really aren't any previous details in the verses before it to give you context. The verses following it shoot off in a different direction as well. So, when looking at the passage, you only have what you have to work with. And it gives me trouble.

Here is a bit of what we know, and don't know, looking at the passage (and I will be using the New King James Version as quoted above - if you look at other translations, you really won't read too much different):

In verse 38 we have "they went", "He entered", and "welcomed Him". In verse 40 we have "she approached Him and said". The "they" refer to Jesus AND His twelve disciples. "They" were traveling together. Did that mean that Jesus entered the village alone, or was His disciples traveling with Him? It's kind of like saying that "we put in a new driveway", but really mean, "we paid someone to put in new driveway".  Since Jesus is the main person, it can either be assumed that He went alone because Martha "welcomed Him", or that the disciples where there as well because "she approached Him and said" - which communicates she stepped through a GROUP to specifically talk directly to Him.

"… Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary …" (verses 38 and 39) Who's house? It says "Martha". Really? This is WAY before the ERA. I'm not saying it's possible or not. Just that we really don't know the makeup of the household. Was Martha married? Did Mary live in the house? We read in other passages that they have a brother named Lazarus. Did he live there as well? If Martha wasn't married, was this the family home? Were there parents? The reason for the questions is this: How many people was Martha serving? From the passage we can count three to be certain (Martha, Mary, and Jesus). But that number could be fifteen (Martha, Mary, Jesus, and His twelve disciples) - or greater with Lazarus, parents, and friends and neighbors. We don't know.

Now, we can make an assumption that Martha had servants (see "new driveway" comment above), but the pronouns and the comment from Martha pretty much convey that she was alone doing all of the preparation. If Mary, Martha's sister, lived there in the house (again, we don't know from the passage), Martha's annoyance with her would be more than reasonable.

What about the preparation? I really don't think Martha had ovens with timers, microwaves, or even gas grills to use as tools. Not having a lot of biblical references to meal preparation, we do know it took longer to cook something then than today. Regardless of the number of courses. I direct you to Genesis 18:1-8 where Abraham receives three visitors and they agree to a meal. I wonder how long it took to prepare a calf - without modern-day cooking equipment?

Now, let's add time to get ready for the meal to the mix. Do you think Jesus emailed Martha a couple of weeks in advance of His arrival? Probably not. In the passage concerning a tax collector named Zacchaeus, a man of minimal stature who climbs a tree to see Jesus' parade float, finds himself host when Jesus says to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." (Luke 19:5b NKJV) Jesus seemed fond of inviting himself over for meals.

So now you know why I have trouble when Jesus basically scolds Martha and tells her that Mary was right to stay out of the kitchen (verses 41 and 42). I fail to see the "lesson".

What IS the lesson of this passage? In the small group my wife made a comment that I think really captures the essence (and being a "time" junkie, it really spoke to me): Live in the now. It is more important to focus on who you are with, than what you are doing. I think that's a lesson we all can take to heart.

© Emittravel 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #64

Question: Do we need to make drugs legal?
Answer: Wrong question.

The correct ones would be:

How much has been spent on the War on Drugs?
How many in our already over-crowded prisons are there for drug-related crimes (a.k.a. "possession", "trafficking", etc.)?
How much have we spent housing, feeding, clothing, and providing health care for those in prison?
How much time and money is spent by our police and courts?
And the kicker: How much tax "revenue" is lost by not being able to tax the stuff?

I'm not pro-drugs, but I'm definitely not pro-keep-throwing-good-money-after-bad either!

© Emittravel 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Writer's Curse

I was driving home one evening and was overwhelmed by the urge to write. I believe, no matter what mode of artistic expression you use, that this is a very familiar urge. As soon as I got home I sat down and started writing. I was a bit surprised to see what came out; totally unexpected. -j.p.

Here it is again
that familiar drawing to write
The ache in the heart
that causes both pleasure
and pain
The irresistible urge to express
and the compulsion to run away
There is no escape
I must pour out what’s inside
To not is to numb my soul
devoid my life of its meaning
I know not what will come out
Let the words come forth
Ride the wave of emotion
until its final crash to shore
No choice but to give in
Pick up the pen
Scrawl my passion
upon a tablet for all to read
Give in to the moment
and seek the blessing
of the writer’s curse

J.P. Wiegand
© Emittravel 2005

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #63

Do you like to listen to podcasts? I do. I think I figured out why. When I was a kid I would love to hang around the kitchen or the dining room after the (extended) family dinners, just to listen in on the conversations. I enjoyed the intellectual discussions, and especially the humor. Today, most of the podcasts I listen to have those same elements. I enjoy listening to individuals who are great "on their feet" and make decent points. I don't have to necessarily agree with them, and that's okay. Kind of like I hope those who read this blog feel.

Ever listen to a podcast? Why? What do you like, or dislike about the experience. I'd love to know.

© Emittravel 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

D.O.M.A. is D.U.M.B.

The DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is back in the news once again. The Supreme Court will  be deciding whether or not it is constitutional. And like so many things, DOMA has its supporters and detractors. In a nutshell, DOMA states that marriage is recognized by the government as between one man and one woman. The question is, should it?

Let me remind my readers of the title of this blog: My Humble But Accurate Opinion. This is my opinion, and one that I think has merit. You may disagree. That is fine. I'm speaking for ME. I am coming at this as a bible-believing Christian. And if you haven't shut me off yet, you will find that those this particular article will most-likely offend ARE Christians. For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to poke things with a stick - because I think we should.

I'm no Supreme Court Justice, but I think DOMA is dumb (clever title, eh?). For all of the screaming about the (so-called) Separation of Church and State, there is this seeming need to have the government validate a religious preference when it comes to marriage. According to our Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . " Marriage is not a religion, nor is it an exercise of an established religion. It is the definition of a union between a man and a woman, recognized in the eyes of GOD. It is not a union recognized by a particular church, nor is it a union recognized by the STATE. Therefore it falls outside the "jurisdiction" of the government - and should not freak out religious folk.

"Wait a minute, J.P., the state DOES recognize marriage. I have a marriage license to prove it!" You are correct, and incorrect. In this case, we are dealing with semantics. The state licenses the union of two people for one main reason: recognition of shared benefits. Oh, another reason may be is that they charge for the license . . . you know . . . taxes! The state calls it "marriage" for lack of a "better" or more "accurate" term.

I was having a discussion on this topic with a friend at work and he had THE solution to the whole debate: the government should state that they will no longer recognize marriages. They will only recognize civil unions. For the government's purposes, whether you are in a union recognized in the eyes of God, or whether you stood before the Justice of the Peace, they only need to know that you have a legal civil union.

Let me put it this way: civil unions vs. marriage. One recognized by the State; one by God.

"What about 'gay marriage', J.P.? As a Christian,  aren't you supposed to oppose it." I am? What is the main issue here? Is it the fact that two individuals want to have all of the benefits and responsibilities of civil unions, or that their relationship is recognized by God? If we are talking civil unions and NOT marriage, then does it really matter if the union is heterosexual or homosexual?

I remember a minister friend of mine talking about a time when he was out with a friend picking up hitchhikers, getting on the freeway, running the car up to 80+ miles per hour, and telling the hitchhikers they must be saved (I think he was kidding, but it's a good story nonetheless.) One time a hitchhiker was smoking a cigarette and wanted to pray to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. This minister's friend said to put out the cigarette first. The minister said, "God can hear through the smoke!" He said that sinning was the "job description" of a sinner. Once they got saved, THEN we can "skin 'em alive!" (He's a funny guy, my minister friend.)

Christians have this view that the world needs to function within the framework of Christian morality, ethics, and rules of conduct. Why? Does it really matter if a sinner sins? At that great day of judgment, will God be concerned that a non-Christian behaved outside of Christian dogma? Or will His only concern be that they knew Him and His Son Jesus? There is only one sin that is worthy of eternal damnation (a.k.a. "eternal separation from God"): denying Jesus Christ. No other sin will matter. Once a person becomes a Christian, THEN will the sins that you commit have weight. The letters of correction (Epistles of the New Testament) that the apostles wrote were for the church, not the world. It is we Christians that must live our lives in accordance with God's ways, not force that upon the world.

I'm not anti-gay. I'm not pro-gay either. When it comes to the world, I'm ambivalent-gay. I don't care one way or the other. Just don't call a civil union "marriage" - God doesn't recognize it between two people of the same gender (that's clear in scripture.)

Listen, DOMA is already on the books. The only two possible options: enforce it, or rescind it. Don't ignore it. If the Supreme Court determines it unconstitutional and wants it struck down, so be it. Marriage in the eyes of God won't change either way.

Of course, removing the word "marriage" and changing it to "civil union" would eliminate the argument and give politicians one less thing to bludgeon each other with . . . which is precisely the reason why it will never happen!

© Emittravel 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #62

In recent news, a non-profit organization held a fundraiser where people paid $50k to spend the evening with President Obama. First off, why would ANYBODY pay $50k to spend the evening with ANY president? After all, isn't he a public servant? Isn't he on the payroll? Doesn't that make him an employee of the people? Should you have to pay $50k to meet with your mayor? I know it was a "donation", but try to attend without paying it. See how far you get. And another thing, if you are paying to spend "quality" time with someone, doesn't that make that person a prostitute? Of course, when it comes to politics, those two professions ARE pretty close in comparison . . .

© Emittravel 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Such a Slacker

A quick note for those of you who follow my blog: Due to some recent health issues, and other personal events, I've not devoted the time or energy to writing that you deserve. I still have quite a few topics in the hopper, with some more developed than others, so it's not a lack of material. I hope that in the coming days (dare I say, "weeks"?) I will be able to give this the focus it deserves. As you may have read HERE, this blog is also an exercise in well-being for me. And for those of you who know me, you will agree that I'm always in need of a little "well being" . . .

As the snow melts,
and the flowers peek through the chill,
may the warmth of coming Spring
warm your hearts and homes.

I appreciate your patience.


© Emittravel 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #61

For those concerned with keeping the internet "free" and "open", where do you stand on the topic of online gambling? Already, online shopping is being seriously looked at for its taxable revenue possibilities, and the government can impose restrictions based on the Commerce Clause (between states). What do you think the government's level of involvement will be when online gambling becomes "legal"? At what point do we realize and/or accept that having a "free" and "open" internet - one without strict, government regulation - was only a pipe dream?

© Emittravel 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

If I Could Talk to the Animals

"Fooood. Nooooow!"

That was what my cat, Muffin, used to say. Well, at least that was what it sounded like to me. Muffin was my darling.


She made it 20 years before succumbing to "old age". She is now under the bird bath in the back yard; an area we commonly call the "Muffin bed". Full of "piss and vinegar", I often referred to her as the longest relationship I've had with a female - who wasn't family. Now that she is gone, my wife has a chance to beat her record. A very vocal cat, Muffin would sit as the "alpha female" of the house; many times climbing in between my wife and I, with my lap as her goal. She would then look at my wife with an expression that said, "I got him. He's mine."

The Muffin Bed

Can animals talk? Often we say that one of the things that divides us from them is our ability to speak; to say "I think, therefore I am" has just as much value as to think it. But just because we don't understand them, does that necessarily mean they can't speak? Studies with dolphins show communication ability, and some primates have learned to communicate through sign language. So, can they talk?

"Fooood. Nooooow!!"

I took French in high school. Two years worth. At the beginning I was pulling in A's and B's. By the end of the second year I barely passed the course with D's and F's. Each time we learned a verb, we learned a new way of using them, and each time I got more lost. This wasn't just an issue with French either. As part of my Radioman training in the Navy, I took a Morse Code class. If I remember correctly, I was able to send 15 words per minute and receive 22 at the end. I even finished the self-paced course 15 days ahead of the norm. Months later, during military exercises onboard ship, I could feel my blood pressure rise as I struggled to remember ANYTHING. All that to say that language and I don't get along too well.

Yet, the concept of understanding animals and, more importantly, each other, intrigues me.

What a pretty girl!

And now, a little "J.P.-ology": Genesis 2:18-20 (NKJV)

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

According to the above, God brought each animal to Adam so he could name them. Not only that, but the context implies that Adam was being presented possible companions. It's not really a companion if you can't communicate. Which means that the animals were able to talk. He was a regular "Dr. Doolittle".

Later, in Genesis 11:1-9 (NKJV)

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

The above is the account of the Tower of Babel (yes, the same "Babel" that Douglas Adam's "babel fish" is inspired from). Before I comment, I want to tie the above passage to another:

Acts 2:1-12 (NKJV)

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The above, celebrated in Christian churches on Pentecost Sunday, is what I like to call the Inverted Babel. In the Genesis account, we have one language being divided into many. In Acts we have many being pooled together as one.

Question: Did God, in Genesis, actually take one language and divided it into many? Well, it may not really matter, but I believe that He didn't. I believe that He lifted our ability to understand each other. See, back in Genesis chapter two, Adam could understand the languages of ALL of the DIFFERENT animals. What happened? After the Fall (see Genesis chapter three), when the Glory of God lifted (which is the reason that at first Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed, and after they had sinned, when that Glory was lifted off of them, that they saw that they were naked. They were naked the whole time - just didn't know it.), the ability to understand the animals was also lifted. Whether or not the snake was a real snake or not, Eve DID have a conversation with it.

At Pentecost we see a two-fold miracle: the normally emphasized "speaking with other tongues", and the less emphasized "WE HEAR THEM speaking in our own tongues". There was a blessing on both the speakers AND the hearers. God did not take many languages and combine them into one. He gave them the understanding.

Going back to the animals, in the book of Numbers we have the account of Balaam's donkey talking to him (Numbers 22:21-33). Again, I believe that his donkey ALWAYS spoke - in donkey, not Hebrew - and God gave Balaam the "opportunity" to understand him.

As you read through the New Testament you find that things like the topic above are given to us as a taste of what is to come. That is why, even after Pentecost, we don't understand each other - including the animals. But we will. I believe that. Most likely, not until we are in Heaven. If you only spoke Mandarin, and I English, when we get to Heaven, you will understand me (as though I was speaking in Mandarin) and I will understand you (as though you were speaking English). We won't, all of a sudden, all speak the "same" language, but we will understand each other.

And that includes Muffin.

Muffin's favorite position
"Who turned on the lights?!?"
Muffin's last days

© Emittravel 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #60

I'm having difficulty understanding why free contraceptives are part of ObamaCare in the first place. I understand topics like heart disease, cancer, and surgeries. I understand prescription medication in such cases as well. So let me get this straight: sex is a disease, right? It is a non-choice item like cancer and we need "free" (let's face it, somebody is paying) contraceptives to help cope with it. Really?

Why does the government care about contraception anyways. Don't they (a.k.a. "we, the tax payers") already support Planned Parenthood? Who cares about contraceptives when you can simply go get an abortion - no strings attached??

Is it just me or does this whole argument seem nutty?

© Emittravel 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Stuff My Brain Says #59

The Amendments do not state what the government has given you rights to, but what rights the government is not allowed to infringe upon. Any breaches of those rights are because the government, and lazy-minded people, have assumed that those rights have been bestowed upon the people by the government, as a king to his peasants, and therefore believe that they can alter and ultimately take them away.

When people realize that the Amendments are simply reminders of the LIMITS of government, arguments concerning things like the Separation of State and Church, and gun control (or, by the new politically-correct "gun safety") would go away, because those arguments are calling for the very limits the government CANNOT overstep.

© Emittravel 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Wrong Amendment

Due to the recent tragedy in an elementary school, where a psycho went on a murder spree, the conversation all over has been to implement some form of gun control. People have been either vigorously supporting or voraciously condemning the NRA, and screaming for the elimination of so-called "assault weapons". Everyone has become a constitutional scholar when it comes to interpreting the 2nd Amendment - telling us what the founding fathers did and did not mean when they wrote it.

Understand, as the 2nd Amendment stands, we have the (God-given) right to "bear arms". It doesn't say "muskets", or "rifles", or any specific type of "arms". Many of the founding fathers were men of science, so I'm pretty sure they believed in the advancement of all technologies that further scientific investigation would bring. So, ANY law that puts ANY restriction WHATSOVER on what constitutes "arms", is a direct infringement on that right, and therefore unconstitutional.

The argument to the above is often the 1st Amendment, where laws have been written that create boundaries around what constitutes speech and the freedoms that come with it. You can't slander someone (unless, of course, you are a politician - in or out of an election year) and you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater. What constitutes "arms" in the 2nd Amendment therefore deserve the same type of boundaries. There is a major difference though: unlike the words that come out of our mouths, many of the types of weapons that are up for being abolished are ALREADY in the hands of criminals. Making them illegal only disarms law-abiding citizens. The criminals won't care - that is why they are criminals.

Let's look at this from a different perspective. Who do we really want to keep weapons from? The mentally ill. Think about it: every mass shooting that has taken place was perpetrated by someone who was mentally ill. You can't open fire on kindergartners and be in your right mind. So, mentally ill + gun = death of innocents. Maybe we are attacking this from the wrong angle. What designates someone as mentally ill? Someone with "wrong" ideas concerning reality (by reality I mean that which allows for the social framework to hold together). Where does someone get these wrong ideas? From the things they hear and the things they read.

What is needed is not the expropriation of the 2nd Amendment, but the elimination of the 1st.

Let's get rid of "free speech". Don't let people like me have a platform to share ideas that might disrupt the mainstream. Let the elite, those in our government determine what can be said, what can be printed, and what thoughts can be shared in film and games. After all, since they represent us, and we elected them, surely they would best know what would be appropriate. And once that has become entrenched into our culture, no more mental illness. No more mental illness, no more worry about "assault weapons".

There. Problem solved.

(The above was meant as sarcasm.)

© Emittravel 2013