Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Is A Vet?

I was reading myself to sleep tonight and came across this piece written years ago. It's called "What Is A Vet?"

Thank you, veterans, for all of your sacrifices.

I also came across something a bit more salty, a bit more harsh, a bit more "colorful," so to speak. However, I think it brings the real fear of war home in a very visceral way.

I'm not going to post it in its entirety on my page, but suffice it to say, it is about as real world as it gets.

However, I *will* post "What Is A Vet?" below:



Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg – or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She or he—is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another—or didn’t come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat—but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade—riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket—palsied now and aggravatingly slow—who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being—a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU.”

Remember November 11th is Veterans Day.

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day 2009!

Since I'm an inactive Jarhead, I hafta' give props to the USMC Silent Drill Team.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy USMC Birthday!

Happy 234th birthday to the United States Marine Corps!

10 November, 1775 at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Here's the 2009 USMC Commandant's video message:

Semper Fi!


Friday, November 6, 2009

The Most Perfect Silence

Back in early 1996, I came across a website called It was devoted to the Great Books, Sonnets, and outstanding literature of all kinds.

I went to visit tonight, and found no trace of the original site. Every attempt ended with a page load error. So I conducted a search and found another site: Unfortunately, this one is on its last legs, with forums filled mostly with unkempt spam messages.

So sad to me is the demise of the "literary renaissance," and the death of the "literary resistance," that I conducted another search for one of my favorite poems published there, called "The Most Perfect Silence."

It turns out that someone had archived and published it on their site--so I've captured it and am publishing it as a tribute to Drake Raft, one of the founders of the "literary renaissance."

Here it T.I.issssssss:


The Most Perfect Silence

I know where the most perfect silence is,
Seen it in the wild blue off Hatteras,
A mile out, rainbowed sails in silent bliss,
Looked like they'd collide, but they safely passed.
I know when the most perfect silence is,
Down a dusty Ohio road, high noon,
No shirt on, being burned by the sun's kiss,
Sixteen, takin' my time-- it was still June.
I know what the most perfect silence is,
It's what we say when falling out of love,
It roars and thunders right through the kiss,
Says all that no words can ever speak of.
I know why the most perfect silence is,
It is there for the whisper to be born,
The whisper in her ear became the kiss,
Just a dream on the sea early one morn.
I know who the perfect silence is for,
It is for the ones whom we love the best,
It is there to protect them from our core,
By the silent trust we all seek to rest.
And I know how rare that silence can be,
With everyone talkin', it's hard to hear,
But I know I felt it, on the crests of waves,
The sound in her eyes-- it was crystal clear.
And it brought back to mind the rainbowed sails,
And the way it looked like they would collide,
Like two souls set upon fate's iron rails,
But the most perfect silence never died.

--Drake Raft


In case you were wondering, he's published some co-written stuff in hard copy form, which is available at Navigating an American Renaissance

The After Dark Field Book

Eternity in a Grain of Sand: The Most Perfect Silence of Poetry


Thursday, October 29, 2009

What A Wet

Okay, so, like, we're under a Flash Flood Warning right now.

Of course, that doesn't mean I believe it, right? So's I gotsta' go outside and take a look-see.


The carport.



The front yard. Yeah, yeah, I know: "It's too dark to see it!" Shadaaaap.



The back yard.




Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Raider Legend Is Born

Watch this pigeon help the Raiders take on the Eagles.

I have it on good authority that it's the ghost of Lyle Alzado.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

ACORN is nuts.

I'm not a huge fan of Jon Stewart, and he uses some bleeped out foul language in this video, but this is ridiculously funny, and he says some stuff that absolutely needs to be said.

Take a look:


The Audacity of Hos
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So Near, Yet So Far.

I'd completely forgotten about this. I'm taken back to my childhood and Grover on Sesame Street with this video---fun times!!!!!

Some of the things we leave behind when we "grow up" are too precious...


Monday, July 27, 2009

The Revenge Deer Cometh!

The Revenge Deer Cometh!

This is crazy.

I was riding my bicycle home from the County Jail last night. Nothing major. I do it quite a bit, actually. I'm a jail chaplain, and I'm out there twice a week, and I often ride my bike out there on accounta' I need to lose weight. But I digress.

It was around midnight, and my headlight and tail light were both on as I took the bike trail home. For those who don't know, I usually come from the White County Law Enforcement Center where the jail is housed down Queensway to just past the gymnastics place on the right. The entrance to the bike trail is really close by.

I made my right hand turn and realized exactly how dark it is when there are no street lights.

Really dark.

There's somewhat of a long bend to the left after a couple of early turns in both directions. This is where the deer hit me and I went horizontal. Of course, I had no idea that it was a deer. All I knew was that something heavy had hit me and my bike frame at the same time from the left. I was conscious of the fact that I should've hit the ground immediately, but something was keeping me from hitting the ground. As I look back on it, the deer was supporting all of my weight for a short distance. Ride 'em, cowboy! Yee, haw!!!!!!

Then I hit the ground. Hard.

My knuckles curled under the handlebars, and my shoulder hit the pavement while I skidded toward the dirt. When I came to a stop, whatever it was that had been under me wasn't there anymore, and I was curled up over the handlebars with my feet just under the seat.

I looked up to my left, and there was a short period of scuffling (I imagine this was the deer getting to its feet), and then the deer and I were looking each other dead in the face. I'm pretty sure it was laughing at me, having gained revenge on a 12 year old offense—my first deer hunt back in about 1997 or so. It stayed there for about maybe a second and a half and ran off the trail in front of me and to my right.

I extricated myself from the bicycle mess and stood up, carefully taking inventory of my prized extremities that had inadvertently been ground into pastrami upon landing. Just a li'l bit of road rash, bruises and oozing skin. No biggie. The bike was fine—just a bit of straightening the gooseneck and the seat was in order. I was worried about my iPod Classic Video that was clipped to my backpack strap on the same shoulder that I landed on—I've had to fix a shattered screen on it before—but it was none the worse for wear.

As I got back on the bike with slightly elevated respiration and blood pressure, I thought back on the deer's assassination attempt with a bit of sarcasm. No, really. Anything worth doing is worth doing sarcastically. I thought that this deer could bring back my Oakland Raiders' playoff hopes by being hired on as the tackling coach. Maybe playing at Linebacker or Strong Safety.

Oh yeah, this deer is gonna' be an NFL tackling coach. Perfect pursuit angle. Perfect form tackling. Perfect hitting motion. Perfect blind side anticipation.

Come to think of it, I'm calling Al Davis right now...


Monday, July 20, 2009

First Day Practice (July 18, 2009)

We had an all-day practice with sound gear and groupies. Someone actually took pictures this time.

This is I think my first attempt at a slide show with Photobucket.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Rain On The Roses

We had a pretty good rainstorm here in Searcy, Arkansas the other night. The next morning, while surveying the effects, I happened upon my roses out front.


Here's a couple of the shots I took. I kinda' like the water glistening off of the roses and the droplets on the leaves.

Thank you Lord for simple pleasures.



I bought this Blueberry plant back in March of this year. It took about a month and a half to show any positive signs--primarily, I think, due to the unseasonably cold weather snaps.

It has proven to be fairly hardy since then, but the berries would get to a certain point and shrivel up and fall off. These berries are the first that have actually gotten to the edible stage.

Oh, and...

They're pretty good. ;^)


Thursday, June 4, 2009

True Bravery

Today is the 67th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Midway. It was true bravery on display. As I am not a historian, There is a link to a well-written summary of the battle here. Please read it and think about the men who gave their lives, not only in this battle on 4-6 June 1942, but for all of the men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our country before and since.

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of June 5th, 1989. Below is the "Tank Man." He stood in the path of an oncoming tank. When it stopped, he spoke with the tank driver and was ultimately taken away by two Chinese officials. We don't know what eventually became of him, but he is remembered as one who helped change history.

There are lessons to be learned here.

A group working together, focused on one goal can accomplish great things. Jesus plead for His church to have unity, to be as one body. This body changed the world.

However, one man can change the world through his example. I believe Jesus taught that, as well.

A little faith, a little bravery, and great things happen.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

God Is Good

God is good.

I can slander Him.
I can question His authority.
I can give His credit to someone else.
But none of that changes the fact that

God is good.

And He doesn't change.
His love, His grace, His peace, His joy,
His kingdom, His Shalom is not a moving target.
If I miss the mark, it's not His fault.
It is I who need to adjust my windage,
my sight alignment, and point of impact.

God is good.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember The Troops On Memorial Day

It's been a good day today. We've relaxed, played Wii Madden 2008, stuffed ourselves twice and generally fellowshipped and enjoyed each others' company. We did all of this while others are fighting and dying for us in the mountains of Afghanistan and in the sands of Iraq.

Please pause at least for a moment to reflect on what these proud warriors are doing for us now. Reflect on what the brave fighters of our past have done for us. Think about what future conflicts will cost.

And pray for all of them.

Semper Fi to my USMC brethren.

Carry on the good fight, my brothers and sisters in all of our armed forces.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Drinkin' the Raider Nation Kool-Aid

I was in a rather raucous mood today, reading about my Oakland Raiders in the blogosphere and on UseNet and on the message boards--taking in all of the negative comments, flak and general flotsam and jetsam when I came upon a post asking for a positive take on the Raiders' offseason and chances for a winning season in 2009.

"Self," said I, "you need to write an exhortation to the Raider Nation, one that moves the Nation's faithful to positive digs and to break the chains of the oppressive mediots who only serve to drag us down."

So I sat down to write an exegesis of whimsy, an ode to the famous Raider Nation Preacher commercial a few years back. Here it T.I. IS:

"And comes the hour when the ENTIRE nation shall rise with one voice, exclaiming the praises of the victorious on the field, waxing eloquent in boisterous fashion, spying the multiple playoff wins of the vaunted Silver-and-Black and the vanquishing of its foes and getting to the task of relishing the Super Bowl trophies to come!

We are victorious!

We are champions!

We are the RAIDERS!!!!!!!

Where, oh death, is thy victory? Where, oh death, is thy sting?

We who have languished in the deserted wastelands of loss and losing seasons have seen the mountaintop. We have seen the river. We have seen the valley. We are well nigh upon the land of milk and honey! Let us cross, not with the trepidation of the fearful nor the weak, yet with the confidence and yea, the fearsomeness of true victors coming to claim our rightful place atop the league!

Let the church say amen, yes, and amen...

Hallelujah, Halle Berry, Hallelujah."

Yeah, I'm down with the sickness. That Raider Nation Kool-Aid beckons...


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby birdssssss!!!!

I got a chance to see a pretty cool event and take some pics yesterday: Poppa bird feedin' his chickzzzzz... ;^)

The babies are asleep, but the first one wakes up, ready for chow.

Feed us, daddyyyy!!!!!!!

Ahhhh, much better. Yummmmmm...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Music Boat

First Day went on a Music Boat cruise a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I'd share some videos and photos from the event.

Mike Williams caught us on video at the concert in Lakeland, Florida the Sunday before the cruise. Here's two videos: one is a montage of the entire concert, and one is a clip of Kyle's vocal percussion solo.

Here's a couple of pics from stage from the same concert:

Actually, the last was as we were walking out, but they seemed to enjoy themselves.

We got to perform three times on the boat--said boat is pictured here for your viewing pleasure:

Here's some stage and audience pics from our concert around the dance floor--I don't know who thought it was cool to have an acappella group sing in front of a dance floor, but here we are in all of our glory...

Hey! You're facing the wrong way! The audience is THATAWAY!!!!!! ;^) Bruce and Tim are the only guys facing the audience, including me...

Here's an audience shot, while we performed. The guy in the center with the blue striped shirt and khaki pants was absolutely killin' me. I think he was enjoying himself.

Oh, by the way, the private beach was wonderful.

One of the great perks of this cruise was that we got to meet some really good people and see and hear some outstanding music. I was initially against taking band pics for feelin' like a groupie, but I was "ordered" to bring some back via a friend's phone call about halfway through the cruise. The next pic is of a Christian metal band called Pillar. I'd never heard 'em or of 'em before, but we met them in the hotel lobby before we went on the boat--these are great guys! Very personable.

And this is Taylor, their drummer. He shared our flight back to Memphis. It was a blast!

...And a glorious time was had by all!


Monday, April 27, 2009

First Bloom 2009

I took this shot a few weeks ago, and the rose bush has since exploded in vibrant color, but I wanted to post this shot to mark the event.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Web Video at Southside

Okay, so it's been a minute or two since my last post. Ummmm... Motivation much?

I preached a sermon at Southside church of Christ in Rogersville, AL. a few weeks back, and they've seen fit to post it to the 'Net.

A little bit of background is in order: I was a member of that congregation for two and a half years, from 2000 to 2003. I was also a member of their traveling chorus, and the only Caucasian in the bunch.

I absolutely adore Southside. They're an outstanding congregation.

The sermon's text is on my blog here. The video is on Southside's site here. If the video link doesn't work, keep in mind that it'll likely only work if you're using MS Internet Explorer. Another way to get to the video is to go to Southside's link:

and go to the media link, after which you'll see a link for "The Three Storms" with my name, Guest Speaker Bro. Jeff. (I guess they forgot my last name. HAAARRRR, HARRRR!!!!)

I've gotten some very good responses from them, and I'm very thankful for their desire to have me speak.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Benjamin Zander

Our professor showed this clip in class yesterday. I was absolutely amazed.

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