Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
One of our students here at Concordia Seminary shared what happened to him yesterday. By the time I got to the end of his story, the only thing I could hear was a choir crescendo singing the words from O Holy Night: "Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices". So many days it is humbling to be in the presence of our students.
"Today, a church member and a newly baptized child of God (11 year old girl), were in the neighborhood handing out flyers for our Christmas Eve service. Suddenly, gun shots began to ring out in the neighborhood. I pushed the young girl with me into an alcove, then got her across the street to the church member I was with. I then jumped the fence and ran to where the shots were. As I approached, I saw two men on the ground, wounded. I called the police as I applied pressure to their gunshot wounds, and when they arrived there were two officers I knew well. They said these two men were gang members, and this was a gang related shooting. I stayed with the officers for awhile before heading back to the church. As I walked back, I noticed the blood on my hands and began to cry. I cried for the kids of that neighborhood, who experience this daily. I cried for the people who have no hope. I cried for the community, as it experiences destruction. I realized then, more than ever, how in need we are of a Savior. Come, Lord Jesus, come... Save us."
I have to say, I'm getting really tired of economic experts. What once was good is now bad and what was bad is now better for us. Headline from ABC7 in Chicago:
Consumer Reports-Why Gift Cards Make Bad Gifts
Come on people! The advice to give cash or checks instead of gift cards means the recipient will probably just fritter the money away on normal everyday things and not get themselves something they'd like and wouldn't spend on themselves.
The reasons CR does not like gift cards are the fees attached, they're inconvenient to use (!!?), and people forget to use them. Stand alone store cards means a person can only use it at that store! NO, really? Bank gift cards have purchase fees.
Count me in as someone who disagrees with this whole story premise. I enjoy getting a gift card to a store I like and the bank card means shopping anywere. Scrooges everywhere at this time of year.
A Maryland state senator is proposing a plastic bag fee because of rising clean up costs. Plastic grocery bags are also a good conversation starter, California has banned them altogether and many local communities have at least discussed banning them. I don't like them at all, but do get them more often than not because I tend to forget my own reusable bags. However, I'm not in the mood for more government banning of things.
In parts of the DC area, grocery stores already charge customers if they don't bring their own bag and use the plastic. When we're out in DC and I do some food shopping, it always irritates me even though the fee isn't much. What bothers me more about grocery shopping in places like Virginia and Maryland and Chicago are the "store membership" cards. If you have a loyalty card you get a lower price for each food item. If you're visiting like I often am, you pay more. The laugh is the membership card gives you a price that is the same or even a bit more than the price you'd pay in the St. Louis area for the same thing. What they see as a bargain for store loyalty is just an average day in most of the country. It's just another bit of bother while checking out and it is free money for the grocery stores when cardless people shop.
Have you noticed all the highlighted sales this Christmas shopping season? It looks as though audio people have finally discovered that people just don't like the small ear buds which come with every device that has sound. They just don't stay in the ears, at least that's what most people say. So now the big item for those who like to walk, run or just sit around and listen to talk or music is big, over the head headphones. Just like the older days.
Black Friday saw lots of these highlighted and they're still on the front page of many internet and newspaper sales inserts. Beats by Dre is a popular brand as is the headphone from Bose. Expensive though.
I saw a couple of stories recently explaining the use of emoticons and acronyms while communicating on various social media sites and email. I guess it's good we aren't yet at the point where we can speak in emoticons or acronyms. But it begs the question as to where are written language is headed.
One story tells parents about 25 internet acronyms they should know as a head's up to what their kids may be involved with. Some are overwhelmingly sexual which should be a concern. These creep me out truth be known.
The other story is on the rising popularity of emoticons to express...emotion. They have become so popular more and more are being created and they're getting bigger and bigger. Some are very cute and certainly well express happiness or sadness or anger or humor or disbelief etc etc. iPhones have a second keyboard which are emoticons and Facebook has an emoticon link for posts.
We're beginning an era of totally different communication means.
Do you need groceries the day after Thanksgiving? Not everyone does, but if you do go today. I went for a couple of things this morning and the check out man told me the day after Thanksgiving is the slowest day of the year in the grocery business.
An FYI for anyone who was unsure of how many jurors make up a grand jury in Missouri and how many of those members it takes to make a decision. I include myself in that "anyone" because of all the information that has come out of the Ferguson story, I've never seen this question answered. My question was, does the grand jury decision have to be unanimous? If not, what number makes the decision binding?
There are 12 members and it takes 9 to make an official decision or true bill as it is called. They could come back with a no bill meaning no charges or one of two other charges:
Voluntary manslaughter which is knowingly causing death under a sudden passion with adequate cause (an assault on the officer). Or, second degree murder-knowingly causing death.
If a grand jury does not bring charges the federal attorney general could bring charges to a federal grand jury if he decides that an important federal interest was not vindicated by the state prosecution.
So there you have it. The issue I see is that a grand jury looks at all the facts in the case and is not working for one side or the other "to win".
Interesting piece of beer history: In 1963, Alfred (Freddy) Heineken of the Heineken beer company, took a trip to a small island in the Caribbean and was taken aback by all the beer bottles littering the beaches. The island was mostly impoverished with little in the way of building materials or good ways of throwing things away so he came with the idea of making his green beer bottles in the shape of a brick with interlocking bottoms. He believed small, one room, "shacks" could be made of all these spent bottles.
In the end it was not a workable idea, but one which has captivated many architects since then who drew up prototypes. Green building before it was cool. This link has lots of cool photos of Heineken bottles used in buildings things.
The Washington DC city council approved an ordinance which includes a fine for residents and businesses who do not shovel the snow in front of their properties. Frankly, I've always found it odd that people with homes fronted by a public sidewalk did not clear their walks and even more surprising have been local business which did not do this.
Often the reason for neglecting the shoveling stems from the belief that there is a law somewhere which states that if you don't shovel the walk and someone falls, you aren't liable because the snow is an act of nature. But if you do shovel and don't get it completely cleared and someone falls you are liable because you've messed with nature.
A couple of years ago I did some checking and found that theory to be wrong, there is no law about shoveling or not shoveling. It's just the right thing to do if you are at all physically able. Oddly, the Clayton neighborhood we're in has many more homes who do not shovel than do and is also an area where people walk frequently. Grade school kids go to and fro from grade school and middle school, Wash U students walk through to get to Kaldi's, people with dogs have to get them out. So when snow hits, forget about walking safely.
This ordinance may be difficult to enforce fairly. Officials will have to get a complaint or actually see an issue. Some will be fined others won't.