Thursday, January 31, 2013

Radiate Something Positive on Van Allen Radiation Belt Day

On this day in 1958 James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen Radiation Belt.

Now you know the way my mind works.

I picture Mr. Van Allen wearing something sort of Buck Rogers meets Vera Wang around his waist that will help him slenderize effortlessly:

"The Van Allen Radiation Belt, available now for the low, low price of $39.95, and operators are standing by! Act now and get a second Van Allen Radiation Belt at no additional charge!!!"

But no, that is not what the Van Allen Radiation Belt is all about.

Apparently somewhere up above us all there is a collection of two torus shaped layers of energetic charged particles AKA plasma that are held in place by the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Hmm. This still sounds like something you get on the Shopping Network.

At any rate, a Van Allen Radiation Belt is one of those technically unexplainable phenomena beyond the outer stratosphere that one would not want to spend too much time worrying about.

Those who fly in space (Including Ham the Chimp who had his space flight on this day in 1961) need to be aware of the Van Allen belt, especially as it effects their space vehicles. The Apollo astronauts were the first to transverse the Van Allen Belt and scientists were concerned about the level of radiation they would receive. Subsequent tests have shown that you get more radiation eating off of one of those old red Fiestware plates, so that is a relief.

There really is not much of a point to this except to give nod to James Van Allen of the University of Iowa, and to remind you to radiate something positive as you go about your Van Allen Radiation Belt Day, today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

If you drive anywhere today...

Give a word of thanks, or whatever other word you may wish, to dear old Karl Benz.


Because on this day in 1886, Karl patented the first successful gasoline driven automobile.

It is worth noting that the oldest auto maker is still around after all these years when other marques famous and celebrated have disappeared.  When was the last time you saw a Packard, Pierce Arrow or Peerless on the road, and soon, Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles will be every bit as rare as DeSotos and Duesenbergs.  If not as pricey. 

Well, what Karl began the world has adopted with such enthusiasm that we can scarcely find a place where the roads are not crowded with traffic.  Even yesterday as I drove to Webster and back, I found that the byways were as busy as the highways.  Since it was a leisurely drive ( or supposed to be) my roof was open (like Karl Benz's first car) and I was drifting along enjoying the warm January weather and blue skies.  I spied bald eagles, great blue herons, ibis and red shouldered hawks along the way.  Somewhere around Zellwood I took that shortcut turning to go toward Howey-in-the-Hills and as I got up to warp 55 mph (something Karl Benz never dreamed of in 1886) I could feel the busy world being left behind me.  For just a moment.  Then, in my rear view mirror, a car appeared.  And grew large by the moment.  And suddenly was on my rear bumper. 

Now people who tailgate may not know this, but THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU CAN SEE YOU.  And this woman looked like nothing so much as the hood ornament on a Mac Truck.  If you look up "Pugnacious" in the dictionary you will find her illustrated there.  She was not interested in the blue skies, the green grass, the feathered friends--oh no.  All she and her big blah Buick (it was that dreadful shade of metallic beige that looks like used sandpaper) were in a hurry and I was one of many obstacles that she would have pushed into the ditch if she could.  I suppose she was late for work, since it was by that time 8:57 and there was no place of business in sight for miles.  I was glad at the T she turned left (blasting her horn at me as she went was, I thought an unnecessary way to say fare-thee-well).

At that moment, even though I am fond of cars and enjoy traveling in them, I must say that I thought, just for a split second, of Karl Benz... 

...and sincerely wished he hadn't.

Psalm 24:9: Jesus longs to enter every heart and every home, from earth’s farthest regions to your home. Are the gates of your heart and the gates of your home truly open to Him? Ask yourself whether you are making every effort to open yourself to His love and grace. The way to do that is to let go of your defenses, to set aside worry, fear and apathy, and accept the blessings He will bring you. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Today is January 26...

On this day in 1911 (no friends I truly was NOT there) Glenn Curtiss flew the first American seaplane.

1911. 102 years ago. Today.

There are parts of the world where seaplanes are still the only way to fly (remote parts of Canada and Alaska spring to mind). Curtiss did it in this way. The first American seaplane flight occurred on January 26, 1911 by Curtiss in his "hydroaeroplane" from the waters of San Diego Bay, landing next to the "USS Pennsylvania". The ship’s crew hoisted the aircraft aboard, lowered it back to the water, meeting the requirements set by the Secretary of the Navy, convincing him to appropriate money for aviation.


Much of the later development of Curtiss seaplanes occurred from the surface of Keuka Lake in New York State, on whose southern end Hammondsport is located. He went on to found the Curtiss Aviation Company, have a court dispute with the Wright brothers, make a fortune in the WWI years, and retire to Florida in the middle of the roaring Twenties, to become a highly-successful land developer. With friends, he developed the Florida cities of Hialeah, Miami Springs, and Opa-Locka.

Opa-Locka was based on "One Thousand and One" Arabian nights and boasts streets witih names like Ali Baba.  Not to mention the REAL Sesame Street!  Opa-locka boasts the biggest concentration of Moorish Revival architecture in the Americas.

For most 21 century people, Curtiss does not spring to mind when you ask who the pioneers of aviation were. Wright. Lindbergh. Erhart. Maybe. Curtiss is in that rare group.
Psalm 62:1-2 – Let God de-stress your life, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, January 25, 2013

James 4:7 – Place your life under God’s authority, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Selling Soap

Today is January 25...

On this date in 1937 the radio soap opera "The Guiding Light" premiered on NBC radio.  It moved to CBS in 1952, where it remained until September of 2009.

Now I am not a soap opera aficionado.  Nor do I encourage the watching of daytime dramas.  The main reason why is that the likelihood of the plot line in 1937 being more or less the same as in 1952 or 2009 is pretty probable.  You know, the same kinds of tension and drama, the same hardships and wrecked romances, down the decades.

Judy and I were at my grandmother's one day, early in our married years.  Grandma had lived in the same house since 1928 and this would have been in the mid 1980s.  All of the near neighbors were her nephews and neices or distant cousins or related somehow to my grandfather's side of the family, excepting two other extended families who also populated the same street.  We were used to Grandma telling us that Minnie was having an operation or Ida's son was in college, or Tony was growing tomatoes this year. 

My aunt lived with my grandmother and their conversation together on that particular day had to do with the folks who lived in the neighborhood... Freddy, Phillip, Mindy, Beth, Alexandra, Reva...  Judy looked at me for "interpretation" which I was not always good at, since I did not live on that street. 

I said, "Grandma, how are we related to them?" 

And she said, "We aren't.  They are on my program..."

In other words, on her "Soap".


Sometimes we get caught up in real life dramas, and sometimes we get caught up in pretend dramas.  And sometimes whether real or pretend, they loom large in our thoughts and conversation.  I would say that as the world turns today, you might want to consider how you are living the days of your lives and all your children, and think about the fact that whether bold or beautiful, or young and restless, you have one life to live...

Make it count for something more than selling soap!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Deuteronomy 7:9 Love God and keep God’s commandments, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Much Fine Gold

Today is January 24...

On this day in 1848 James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill in the sleepy backwater of Coloma, California. The Gold Rush was about to begin.

It is estimated that more than 90,000 people, most of them men, made their way to the California Gold Fields as Forty Niners (it took a while for word to get out and the rush to begin). Many came from our own eastern seaboard but many thousands more came from China, Europe and Latin America--and from as far away as Australia.

You can blame that shiny nugget from Coloma for the entry of California into the Union not to mention the push to develop the steamship and the railroad, and San Francisco grew from a tiny town of 800 to a city of 36,000 practically overnight, as ships that brought prospectors there were abandoned by their crews till there were so many ghost ships in the bay that their wood was used to build houses and shops and then for landfill.

By the way, contrary to persistent rumors, Levi Strauss did not start up his business of making blue denim jeans until the 1870's, that is, decades after the California Gold Rush. However, down till today, the official route markers for state roads in California, are shaped like a "Forty Niner" miner's spade.

James Marshall did not profit much from his find, and died penniless in a small wood cabin in Coloma.  You can see it today.  John Sutter did not fare so well, either, with disputes about his land ownership lasting until he died in semi-obscurity in Washington, DC, where Congress had adjourned before hearing his appeal about compensation for his land.  He is buried in his home town of Lititz, Pennsylvania, right next door to East Petersburg, where I grew up. You can still visit the General Sutter Inn on the Square in Lititz, where Sutter lived after the Gold Rush, if you are not ready to make the trek overland or round the Horn, to the Sunshine State.

Sometimes there really is gold right where you are--if you are willing to look for it.  And sometimes, things much more precious than gold...

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever;
The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Even much fine gold...
(Psalm 19:9-10) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mark 2:13: You can trust Jesus to come close to you when you need Him the most. Rather than live in loneliness; live in trust. Jesus walks right up to you, bringing encouragement and hope. You are not alone. No matter how rough the waters, Jesus is there. Jesus will do the same for you. This is a Wekivaword.

Singing with the Duke

Today is January 23...

On this day in 1943, Duke Ellington performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time.  Wow. 

No, again I must tell you I was NOT there for the occasion.  Not by more than a decade's worth of years could I have been present.  But those who were had a marvelous time.  I WISH I could have been there!

Even so, a number of years later, one of my personal joys was singing with Duke Ellington and his band.

Yes.  It is true.

Our high school choir was selected to be the choir that sang with Duke Ellington for a performance at Longs Park in Lancaster.  It was amazing.  And what we were singing was all part of a suite of music that Ellington had written based on Christian faith.  It was a marvelously uplifting experience to rehearse as well as sing with his band.

All you have to do is look at the titles of these compositions by Duke Ellington to know that the subject is both sacred and Christian:

1."Praise God" 2."Supreme Being" 3."Heaven" 4."Something 'Bout Believing"  5."Almighty God" 6."The Shepherd (Who Watches over the Flock)" 7."It's Freedom" 8."Meditation" 9."The Biggest and Busiest Intersection"  10."T.G.T.T. (Too Good to Title)" 11."Don't Get Down On Your Knees To Pray Until You Have Forgiven Everyone" 12."Father Forgive"  13."Praise God And Dance".

I still find myself humming some of the score, on occasion.

Today is one of those occasions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

John 6:47 – Believe, and live in the assurance of eternal life, this day.  This is a Wekivaword.

The Day of the Mouse...

Today is January 22... 

The anniversary of the mouse.  No not THE Mouse, as in Mickey--although my Florida readers may have immediately wandered in that direction what with WDW just down the road.  The mouse in question is the COMPUTER mouse.  If you are using a computer mouse today then think happy 29th anniversary.  Think of it!  Twenty-nine years of having all the power of a computer, at the click of your right index finger.

What is a mouse, really? 

A pointing devise, able to detect two-dimensional motion relative to its surface. 

There are:

- Mechanical Mice (I am picturing lithographed tin mice with those wind up stems on the side),

- Tactile Mice (they make for nice pets!),

- Optical Mice (Grandma, what big eyes they have!),

- Inertial Mice (friend of every couch potato),

- Gyroscopic Mice (the whirling dervish of the mouse family),

- 3D Mice (but only if you have those funny glasses),

- Ergonomic Mice (I picture them wearing earth shoes)...

So many mice, so little time! 

The world has become overrun with mice to the point that even the Pied Piper of Hamlin would have a bit of a challenge with their numbers. 

Which is interesting when you think back to when, on January 22, 1984, Apple introduced the mouse...

"How do you do world, here is our mouse..." was during Super Bowl XVIII.  And it prompted PC commentator John Dvorak to state that the mouse was the reason the Macintosh would fail. 

Hmmm.   When it comes to speaking of mice and men, as Robert Burns or John Steinbeck would say, that may be a cautionary tale.

Or is it a cautionary TAIL?

Have a great day!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Unlocking the Secrets of the "Nautilus"!

Today is January 21. On this day in 1954 (a very good year indeed) First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christened the first atomic powered submarine, the "Nautilus".   You will recall that Captain Nemo had a sub by that name.  Mamie got the Navy's atomic age started with a bang. Or bangs as the case may be, in Groton, CT. 

One of our church members in Pittsburgh worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the time and one of his jobs was to complete an "artists conception" of the "Nautilus" for publication. He and a fellow artist worked through the night to complete the illustration which went on to appear in encyclopedias (whatever became of encyclopedias!?) and books. One worked on the illustration from right to left  the other from left to right, switching places at intervals, so that the final illustration would appear to have been created seamlessly, by one artist. Clever!  

I suppose the story may now be told that when they got to the engine room, the government provided no drawings of what made the sub go. So they had to make it up. Which they did. You can find their drawing on line, pretty quickly, today  

Some years later, so Pat told me, he learned that their illustration had driven several Soviet scientists completely bonkers, because they had been assigned the task of copying the engine in the "Nautilus" for the USSR's attempt to build an atomic submarine.  Most of their efforts were based on trying to unlock the secrets of the made up equipment in the cutaway view by my Presbyterian artist friend!  It was an attempt that bore them zero success. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Today is January 20. 

You could say that modern life as we know it began on this day 129 years ago  -  why?  

On this day in 1885, L A Thompson patented the first roller coaster.   The ups and downs, twists and turns, highs and lows of life, coming at us at breakneck speed are a fact of life as we know it. Any one of our days is more like a thrill ride than a pleasant stroll. Indeed, an amazing number of us have no concept of what it is to be still. Motion and commotion are our stock  in trade.  

Today, force yourself to be still and know that God is God.

Get off the roller coaster.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Teddy Taps a Tele!

Today is January 19th...

On this day 110 years ago, U S President Theodore Roosevelt send a message to King Edward VI. Not unusual for a President to communicate with a King, except for the fact that the message was sent by radio. And it was the first time a radio communication was sent from the U S A to Europe.


Sounds transmitted through the ether without means of wires!

You and I take it for granted.  But in 1903 it was BIG NEWS.  Before that there were transatlantic cables laid down on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean at tremendous cost and which did not always work.  It was James Buchanan (America's only President from PA) and Queen Victoria who exchanged pleasantries back and forth by cable back then.  But the cable had a glitch and got overheated (you techies will correct me but I have the story mostly right) and over time the sounds of the telegraph were fainter and fainter until ...  silence reigned.

Hmm...  Maybe THAT was Victoria's Secret?

Then along came radio.  No wires, no cords to get in the way.  Radio originator Marconi convinced TR to take part in a wireless demonstration.  His message was tapped out in Morse Code from South Wellfleet to King Edward.  Here is what he said:

His Majesty, Edward VII
London, Eng.

In taking advantage of the wonderful triumph of scientific research and ingenuity which has been achieved in perfecting a system of wireless telegraphy, I extend on behalf of the American People most cordial greetings and good wishes to you and to all the people of the British Empire.

Wellfleet, Mass., Jan. 19, 1903

Expecting only to receive confirmation from Glace Bay that the message had been relayed to England, Marconi got a direct response from England:

Sandrinham, January 19, 1903
The President, White House,
Washington, America  

I thank you most sincerely for the kind message which I have just received from you, through Marconi's trans-Atlantic wireless telegraphy. I sincerely reciprocate in the name of the British Empire the cordial greetings and friendly sentiment expressed by you on behalf of the American Nation, I heartily wish you and your country every possible prosperity.  

EDWARD R. and I.

(R and I does not mean Rhode and Island, it stands for King and Emperor, in Latin)

Amazing!  BIG NEWS!

Sometimes Christians take BIG NEWS for granted and don't get as excited about it as they should.

Such as who Jesus is and what He has done for us.  Some folks think of Him less than they think instance.  Or think, "He is always there and I can get in touch with him when I feel like it..."  Kind of like whether we turn on  But more so.

Maybe it is time to give more attention to the Lord and Savior of all humanity than is your normal daily practice.

If you do, I will say, along with Teddy Roosevelt:


Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, this day. Let your requests be made known to God. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ready for a Sandwich?

Today is January 18.  On this day in 1778 Captain James Cook became the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands.  He named them the Sandwich Islands.  Perhaps he was in need of some sustenance?

No.  He named the islands for his friend back in England, John Montagu, who was the Fourth Earl of Sandwich.  I suppose he could have called them the Montagu Islands, if he were so inclined, and have done his friend the same sort of favor.

But this same John Montagu was indeed the man for whom the ubiquitous sandwich is named.  One story is that he was busy at work and did not want to take time to have a proper meal with a knife and fork, and so slapped some meat and cheese between several slices of bread, and the fast food meal was born.  And he was a busy guy, Postmaster General, First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State for the Northern Department, among other important jobs. 

Then there is the other story that he was so busy at the gambling table that he did not want to stop to dine properly. 

You can pick whichever one you may wish, but the scales may tip in the direction of the gaming table, as one historian has said about the many posts that Sandwich held, that his epitaph should read, "Seldom has any man held so many offices and accomplished so little."

Be that as it may...

The name stuck with the fast food staple, but over time wiser minds prevailed out in the Pacific and we have the Hawaiian Islands today, a much more pleasing name than the Sandwich Islands.

We might say that the Sandwich Islands did not cut the mustard...

Romans 8:6 Set your mind on things of the Holy Spirit; find life and peace, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Today is January 17th...

If you were a reader of the "Thimble Theater" cartoons in the funny papers on January 17, 1929, then you would have caught the first appearance of Popeye the Sailor Man.

Those of us who read the Bible as well as the funny papers occasionally notice a connection between some of Popeye's greatest lines and...God's...

Most notably, Popeye refers to himself in this way:  "I yam what I yam..." which is quite nearly a direct quote from what God said to Moses at the Burning Bush.  You can look it up and see it for yourself.  Try Exodus 3:14 or thereabouts.

The problem back in Moses' day was that God wanted Moses to go and speak for God, to Pharaoh, to say "Let My People Go".  They were in bondage in Egypt and were short on daily rations and were making bricks without straw, which might have been the last straw.  Moses, who had grown up in the lap of luxury in the Pharaoh's court, as the Pharaoh's adopted grandson, had fled to the Wilderness (which is somewhere East of the Econlockhatchee?) and was minding his own business tending sheep when God appeared via a bush that burned but was not consumed, and gave Moses his commission to release the captive Israelites and take them to The Promised Land. 

Now, the Israelites were a motley crew, so were Olive Oyl, Bluto, Wimpy and Sweet'Pea.    Or viska versa, as Popeye puts it.

So how did Moses manage it?  Moses put the "manna" in manage.

How did Popeye manage it? Spinach!

Strong stuff.  Popeye has even admitted publicly that he hates the stuff, but he eats it because he knows what's good for him.

You have something to do today that may take lots of effort.  You may have some Olive Oyls and Wimpys to help and to guide to a happy conclusion not unlike the Promised Land (here, you see, all of the stories are getting woven together)...

So, eat your spinach!

Do what is good for you to do in order for you to do what God needs you to do.

And you will be strong to the finish.

It really is that simple.

John 16:33 Take heart, this day, in Jesus. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Today is January 16th...

Earlier this week I mentioned Thornton Wilder.

His play "The Matchmaker" which was then turned into the musical "Hello Dolly!" debuted on Broadway on this date, forty nine years ago: February 16, in 1964, with Carol Channing as Dolly Levi.

No, I was NOT there for the opening night. I was in thrid grade and while it might have been physically possible for me to have been in Manhattan that evening, we were living in San Diego at the time.  So, no, I was not there. But I have good memories of "Hello Dolly!" and of Carol Channing. Because I have had the joy of seeing Miss Channing perform Dolly twice, and quite a number of years apart.

She is one of two stage performers whom I have had the pleasure to watch, who can hold the entire audience in the palm of the hand, spellbound. What a treat! (Sometime, ask me who the other one was).

Many people call it her signature role and it is, but then again, they may be forgetting Lorelei Lee in "Gentlemen Prefer Blonds", among other fantastic roles Miss Channing has performed.

The "Hello Dolly!" music is great but my favorite moment in the musical is a non-musical one, set at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, when Carol as Dolly is into the monologue that goes along with carving up the chicken that has been ordered for dinner. There is nothing like it on stage, in any play that I know of. Who could guess that the everyday action of carving a bird could be, in the hands of a great actress, such a mesmerizing delight? You simply cannot take your eyes away.
Among the witty lines we hear this exchange:

Dolly: Here, let me cut your wings!
Horace: I don't want my wings cut!
Dolly: No man does, Horace, no man does.

I would love to know more. Is the scene as she played it what was written, or did she modify and hone and perfect it over time? I suppose a combination thereof. Timing is everything, and Miss Channing's is perfection. She can do the subtle double take like no one else. And those eyes!

As the scene progresses, Horace Vandergelder is putty in her hands--as are we all. The art of living takes both playing the scene as it is written, and modifying and honing and perfecting it over time. Would that we all could do so in such a way that is both captivating and joyful, the way Carol Channing does.

I would submit that the people we enjoy being with do exactly that.

Hooray for them all! And let's try to be like them...Before the Parade Passes By!
John 14:27 Find peace, this day, in Jesus This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Colossians 3:15 Be thankful in Christ, this day. This is a Wekivaword.
Today is January 15th...

On this day in 1936, the first building to be completely covered in glass was constructed in Toledo: a building for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. Those who pay attention to such things call it a milestone in architectural design. And it was, since it was built entirely of glass block.

Yes. I know. I first thought "completely covered in glass" would be a curtain wall system glass building. No. Not really. It was "The First All-Insulux Building" and its official name was "The Owens-Illinois Research Laboratory, Toledo, Ohio".

The building was built using 80,000 translucent water-clear hollow glass blocks, had 39 rooms, and the interior space comprised 20,000 square feet. Not long before that, a residence made mostly of glass block had been completed in Phoenix Arizona, its owner: Barry Goldwater. Yes, the scion of the department store magnate (could we say he was a chip off the old glass block?) who went on to be the Senator from Arizona and unsuccessful candidate for U S President.  His wife, Margaret "Peggy" Johnson, was the wealthy daughter of a prominent industrialist from Muncie, Indiana, hence the glass block connection. (You can find a 1930s era article about Barry Goldwater's endorsement of Insulux Glass Blocks if you google it).

But back to the first all glass, windowless building in the U.S. in Toledo. The glass blocks were made at the company's plant in Muncie, Indiana. Here is a vintage explanation about the Insulux glass bricks:

"For several years, the laboratories of the Owens-Illinois Company had been experimenting with a glass building brick, which would permit light to enter but would resist heat, cold, wind, and rain. In 1935, these experiments were far enough along that production for building purposes was started in the Muncie plant. This product was patented under the trade name of Insulux Glass Building Block, and the first was produced in April, 1935. The demand for this product has been so widespread that inside of three years it was shipped into every state in the union and into several foreign countries. The number sold increased very rapidly. The company has recently greatly improved and enlarged the part of the factory which is engaged in the making of this building material."

I have found only one exterior illustration of the building. From It, I would say that the building was rectangular in shape, with a central entry area, and resembled Prairie Style architecture schools or other commercial buildings of that era, more than what we would call International Style architecture.

I would love to tell you where it was located and if it is still standing. Even more I would enjoy being able to say that the first building completely covered in glass was was only a stone's throw from such-and-such a place... (!)

But so far, tracking down its address has proven an unfulfilled quest. Maybe someone from Toledo can enlighten me on the matter? Glass, as you know, is mentioned in the Bible, but only four times, all of them, in the Book of Revelation, in conjunction with the New Jerusalem.  With that glass building in town, how many folks in Toledo wondered if the end of the age was drawing near, back on January 15, 1936?  Let me simply say, I am sure you cannot equate Toledo with the arrival of the New Jerusalem, no matter how fond of it you may be.  Until then, I think this observation is of some interest:

"The origin of glass is shrouded in obscurity, and speculation suggests that its discovery was largely, if not entirely accidental. All we know is that the accident happened a long time ago and whether it was an Assyrian, an Egyptian, or a Phoenician or some other artisan who gazed with wonderment and appreciation on the liquid nature of silicates before him we shall never know."

- President A. C. Willard of University of Illinois, 1936.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Matthew 11:28-29 Find rest, this day, in Jesus. This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tell the Truth to God...

Today is January 13.

Sixty years ago, today, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her newspaper column "My Day" about a visit to the boyhood home of her distant relative, Theodore Roosevelt, which provoked shared memories of days long past. This is one of them:

There is also the story of his (Teddy Roosevelt's) saying his prayers, as a little boy, to his mother's half-sister. This half-sister later became Mrs. James K. Gracie, a great aunt whom we all adored as children. She must have really suffered in those early days when she and her mother were sheltered in their Northern son-in-law's house when all of their interests were wrapped up in the South. The story of the prayer was that little Theodore prayed for the success of the Northern army and his aunt was beside herself in tears. His mother heard him from the corridor and came in to reprove him for being so thoughtless and unkind.

His answer silenced her, for he said:

"But Mother, I thought I could tell the truth to God!"
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord today. Trust in God to sustain you. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Today, Value Every, Every Minute...

Today is January 12.

Sixty years ago today, American playwright Thornton Wilder appeared on the cover of "Time" magazine. Perhaps best known for his play "Our Town" (1938), Wilder is depicted, in Boris Chalifin's cover illustration, before a blackboard on which is a large American flag. The cover is striking and memorable, once seen. You can google it and see it for yourself.

From a service-oriented and religious family, with parents and siblings of note, Wilder is one of many fine products of Madison, Wisconsin, a city that has more than its share of cultural giants to its credit. Wilder is also remembered for the drama, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (1928) and "By the Skin of Our Teeth" (1942). You don't get better plays than these; all three works won Wilder the Pulitzer Prize. Wilder also wrote the play "The Matchmaker" which was later adapted as the musical "Hello Dolly!"

Wilder's "Our Town" remains a perennial favorite that tugs on the heart and may even prompt the thoughtful play-goer to reconsider her or his priorities in life. Set in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, the play follows "one perfect day" as remembered by Emily Webb, who is permitted, after her death, to revisit, look on to, and comment about an ordinary/extraordinary day she recalls from life with her family and friends.

Emily chooses her 12th birthday. While observing it, she comes to understand that everyone seems to be living life but not appreciating how special, fleeting and wonderful it is. Finding this fact too painful to bear, Emily states that life should be valued, "every, every minute." She asks the Stage Manager whether anyone realizes the wonder of life while they live it.   He replies,

"No. The saints and poets, maybe – they do some."

You may be doing chores today,or running a half marathon.  You may be attending a memorial service or working in the yard.  You may get up early or sleep late (it is after all, Saturday).  Whatever you do, try to make today a day that you value, "every, every minute."

"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." - Psalm 90:10

Friday, January 11, 2013

KDKA Milestones Linked to Wekiva Moments

Today is January 11th.

Today is the 64th anniversary of the first "networked" television broadcasts anywhere. They took place at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. No I was not there to remember it.

It was 1949. A bit before my time.

But then again I do know (from those who told me long ago) that KDKA Radio was the first to broadcast anywhere, and that KDKA was also the first to carry regular radio broadcasts of worship services--which happened to be Presbyterian Worship services, from Shadyside Presbyterian Church, a congregation that is dear to my heart.

But back or forward if you prefer to 1949.

KDKA TV went on the air connecting the east coast and mid-west programming. Something we take for granted and give not even a passing thought today. But to link the coasts was a big, big deal, then.

You know, Wekiva has something in common with Shadyside. They were the first church anywhere to inaugurate radio broadcasts of their Sunday worship. Wekiva is the first church anywhere to inaugurate live Sunday morning webcasts of our worship services. That was in January of 2005. So right now we are celebrating an anniversary, as well--eight years of continuous worship webcasts.

I am told that more than 1000 people link to and watch our worship every week. That is a goodly number.

Some of these folks, I know. They are our members who happen to be home bound, or travelling for business, or out of town on vacation, but they are with us in spirit and via the wonders of technology. Others I know about because the send us emails or notes to say that this or that aspect of one of our worship services touched their hearts. Others of these folks I do not know. But that is Okay.

When KDKA did their coast-to-coast broadcast in 1949, they could not have told you who all tuned in. But they knew that they were reaching people they had not reached before. That is what we do, too, every Sunday at 11 a.m. Be here if you can. Worship with us via the web if you cannot. Here is the link:

Wekiva Website
Psalm 23:4 God is with you even in the darkest valley. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

150 Years of Being Way Out

150 years ago, today, the London Underground opened. Having visited London from time to time, I can say that it is a great idea that works. One descends (sometimes very deep into the earth) and catches a train and then emerges elsewhere, near one's intended destination.

The initial route took one from Paddington to Farrington or the other way round. Paddington Bear followed, but not until 1958, in his blue slicker and red hat...colors borrowd from the Tube signs themselves.  I don't think there is a Farrington Bear, but who knows?

The last time we were in London, we decided to forgo the Underground to go across the city on a bus, and that was a mistake. We thought we would see more of the city that way. We did. At what seemed a snail's pace. The rest of the week we were in London, we took the Tube.

The Underground has spun off all kinds of great things, including those wonderful signs -- the roundel or target on a white enamel background, featuring a red circle, bisected by a blue rectangle.

The messages on the signs are super. I particularly like the ones that say "Way Out" which, from an American point of view, are worth a smile.

Of course, from a Christian perspective, we are in need of a Way Out, aren't we?  We are human and therefore prone to sinfulness--prone to making errors of thought and action.  Our minds play tricks on us along the lines of "no one will know" and our actions do the same "it is no body Else's business".  All through the Bible we find correctives to these misguided ways of thinking and acting.  We have a solution, which is as clear as following the signs in the Underground, that will bring us back up into the light.  The Way (or shall we say the Way Out?) is Christ. 

There is a great gulf or gap between how we conduct our lives without Christ and how we conduct our lives with Christ.  We do not have the ability to bridge that gap, and left to ourselves, we will stumble and fall and perish.  But the good news is this: Jesus does and Jesus has bridged that gap already and as we trust him, we are taken across it to safety.  Maybe you have seen the signs: "Mind the Gap" that are also part of the Underground?  Hmm. They can be a reminder of what Jesus has done for you.

There is more to celebrate about the Underground. 

In 1916, or a mere 97 years ago, Edward Johnson designed the distinctive clear, modern typeface that is an Underground trademark to this day, and copyrighted by the Underground under the name "New Johnson". You can find close approximations in the still simple and elegant looking typefaces "Gill Sans" and "Paddington". Frankly, I use "Trebuchet" typeface on the blog because it is the nearest thing available to "New Johnson".

The "modern" Tube map, which was designed 80 years ago, in 1933, by Harry Beck, is a classic in simplified, stylized graphic design, admired and studied by artists and advertising gurus for its ability to communicate much with simple lines and colors.

So here is a nod to the Tube and its still youthful contributions to daily life.  And remember to "Mind the Gap".

James 1:5 –Rely on the wisdom of God to guide you, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Into God's Future

2013...  It is a new year...

Not a bad thing, at all.  Yet, if you are a Downton Abbey fan (and who, who has seen it, is not?) then you will remember this brief exchange between Robert, Lord Grantham and his mother, Violet, the Dowager Countess:

Violet: "Nineteen Twenty! Is it to be believed? I feel as old as Methuselah."

Robert: "But so much prettier."

Violet: "When I think what the last ten years has brought, God knows what we're in for now."

Precisely!  God knows what we're in for now.

God is taking us from here to a new there.

God’s journey is about exploration, it involves possibility and trust, it’s about a changing landscape, it has a destination we always want to keep before us, it has a road map (the Bible)—and it is where God reminds us, among other things, we’re not there yet.

As we continue forward into God’s future, let’s especially focus on three goals—

- to grow our faith upward
- to send our faith outward
- and to pass our faith onward

With enormous gratitude to God for the gift of this wonderful church—let’s recommit ourselves to God, to our church, and to each other as we continue the journey and answer the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.