Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just Passing Through...

We reconnected with an old friend and caught up with a newer friend last Saturday. Tom Osypian and Mark Wells were in Memphis for the day and blessed us by taking time out to drop by for a visit. It was wonderful to catch up with them (and a bit of a flashback to see the ole' Far Hills church van in the driveway).

We met Tom a few years back in Dayton, Ohio when he was a student at Cedarville University. When Diane and I led our church's college ministry, we were able to hire Tom as one of our ministry interns. It was of mutual benefit. Tom needed the internship for a graduation requirement and we needed an intern. Over the summer just after he finished his coursework at Cedarville, Tom needed a place to live and we had a spare bedroom at Chateau Smith (our first home in Centerville, OH), so he moved in with us for a few months while he completed his internship. It was a little more than Tom bargained for, because about the same time he moved in we started a full remodel of the house (and landscaping) in preparation to sell it prior to our move to Memphis. Tom was one of the many who helped us with that remodel, and helped me greatly with the landscaping. As a final parting gift, Tom literally packed everything we own into the U-haul truck for us on moving day(s). Tom is a great friend. He is now a full-time staff member at Far Hills as a primary job with at least one other venture on the side to take his time, and even though he has a different landlord he's still managed to be a part of a remodeling venture.

Mark is also from Dayton. We didn't know him as well then because he was very busy with a new job and being part of the worship band at Far Hills. He married a friend of ours from the church. Mark and Amy actually moved to Memphis for a short time and have recently moved back to Dayton where Mark has re-joined the staff at Far Hills.

We had a great time with Tom and Mark catching up on the events of the past few years. Hopefully our travel plans will take us to Dayton in the not-too-distant future and we can return the visit. Maybe we can grab some pizza from Marion's like we did on one of our recent visits to Dayton. Posted by Picasa

Things Are Much More Clear Now...

Just a quick post. Yes, Hannah now wears glasses. She's actually very excited about it!

Now things are much more clear and she's not getting any headaches from the literally dozens of books she reads each month. Posted by Picasa

The Wright Time To Be In Memphis...

Last weekend we welcomed the Wright family (minus 1...we missed you Terry!) to Memphis for Spring Break. One thing I've learned living around the country is that Spring comes at different times in different places...and that's also the case for Spring Breaks.

Our children had already had Spring Break, but this was the week for the Wright's...so they decided to be unique and drive north OUT of Florida for Spring break (this is a foreign concept to me, as I've always equated Spring break with driving INTO Florida).

Terry and Renee and their children...Madison, Carson, and Parker...are dear friends of ours from our time in Ohio (and beyond). We met Terry when he joined the staff at Far Hills Community Church and we volunteered with the church's college ministry. Terry is now the pastor of Dunn's Creek Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida. Renee and Diane have become very close over the years, as have Terry and I. (In fact, it was Terry who was patient with me when I played my first 18-holes of golf that wasn't best ball). Our children have literally grown up together and have always been close friends. In the photo are Renee and the three Wright children along with our three oldest.

We've had many fun times with the Wrights. We've shared many meals together, both in and out. We've worked together in ministry. We've supported each other during life's ups and downs (and there have been some very up ups and some very down downs that we have experienced together). We've enjoyed several vacations together. We've even spent a week in paradise together.

We had a great visit with Renee and the kids...basically just relaxing around the house and letting the kids play. They played hard.

We're already looking forward to our next time together. I'll post other pictures from their visit in a later post.

More later...

Big D.

Congratulations Clara!

Clara found out tonight that she has been advanced to Level 2 (Intermediate - Recreational Program) in gymnastics! She's very happy and excited, and Diane and I are very proud of her!!

Congratulations Clara!! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Early Spring Visitors At Hotel Smith

On Wednesday, March 15 we welcomed Diane's parents, Charles and Pat Mitchell of Newnan, Georgia to Hotel Smith (I'm a little slow in getting posts added...and it's been a busy month here).

We all look forward to their visits when they can make it to Memphis. The kids especially look forward to "Grandmommy and Granddaddy" coming because they know that they stand a little bit better of a chance of hearing "yes" rather than "no" when they ask for things. Sort of goes with the territory of being a grandparent, I guess. Spoil 'em and leave 'em.

Seriously, everyone had a great time for the days that Charles and Pat were here. I, unfortunately, had to work most of the time but I hear stories of a hole in one on Hole #1 at the local Putt Putt by Noah when he and Granddaddy went golfin'. (Noah's my Retirement Plan Option #3...Granddaddy's already had a couple of clubs made for him)...

Grandmommy and the boys had a good time shopping and I see some additions to Noah's collection as well as a couple of new toys for Elijah here and there... On Friday evening Grandmommy and Elijah decided to take it easy at the house and the rest of us had a great adventure way down under. Noah is still talking about the monster in the whale!!

Only one minor issue with the visit. We forgot to get 'em to sign the Guest Registry!!

More soon...

Big D. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

Poor? It's All Perspective

Sorry. It's been a while since I've taken the time to post. A lot has been happening, and there is a lot I'd like to share, but rather than do a core dump (as we in the computer industry say) and unload everything on you at one time, I'll ease back in.
I was reminded today of an incident that happened when I was growing up. As a child I lived in a rather rural county in Georgia. Most everyone I knew had basically the same socio-economic status, and the concept of being rich or poor was still foreign to me. I had a home and never lacked for any essentials.
One spring afternoon some neighborhood friends were over playing badmitton with me in the back yard. Close to 6:00 my mom opened the door to tell me that supper was ready. I got very excited because I knew she'd prepared one of my favorite dishes. As my friends started to leave to go to their own homes for supper, one of them asked me what we were having. "Beanee Weenee's!" I replied.
There was that uncomfortable silence. Then he looked me square in the eyes and said "just how poor are ya'll?"
The older I got, the more I understood the difference between the have's and have nots, but was still often reminded that being poor is often a frame of mind as much as it is an economic condition.

Matthew 6:25 - 33
25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 "Do not worry then, saying, `What will we eat?' or `What will we drink?' or `What will we wear for clothing?' 32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


Big D

Monday, March 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom!!!

60 years ago today, my dad and mom were married. Yes, that's right 60. 6 - 0. That's a long time in anyone's book!! (Dad's typical joke when I wish them a happy anniversary is "they said it wouldn't last...").

March 13, 1946. World War II had just ended. Some of you who read this blog might not realize the signficance of that since in my humble opinion (which I highly respect and admire), they just don't teach enough about American history in school these days...especially items that some liberal policy-makers or education reformers might deem politically incorrect. Before I get off on a soap-box, let's just say that my dad survived the war, while over 290,000 American soldiers and sailors did not, having been killed in action. Another 113,842 service personnel died during the war, just not in the "war zone." Almost 672,000 were wounded. The Iraq war, while tragic, pales in comparison. Dad was a nose-gunner on a B-24 bomber flying first out of Bermuda then out of Devon, England....patrolling for German submarines over the English Channel and the Eastern Atlantic.

It almost didn't happen. Their marriage, that is. Dad was engaged to someone else first. Then WWII began and he joined the US Navy. He came home at some point on leave (not sure if it was during or after the war) and when he got off the bus in our home town the first guy he saw on the street told him his fiancee' had married someone else. "Oh well, " my dad said when he told me about, "it worked out for the best. Then I met your mom."

Dad was 22 and mom was 16 when they married. For their wedding reception, they split an 8 ounce bottled Coke. They honeymooned in Savannah, GA. Both were country folks, having "grown up" only a couple of miles from each other in North Georgia.

Dad remained in the Navy, and not too many years later, as mom recounts, she found herself with three small children (my three older brothers) living in a small apartment on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, NY while dad was at sea. Country girl, meet city life. Dad spent the vast majority of his time in the navy on Aircraft Carriers.

They moved a lot. Some of their homes included Brunswick, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Pensacola, FL; Ocean City, Maryland; Brooklyn, NY, Charlotte, NC....and Virginia Beach, VA (where I was born). There were others. Back then, they actually owned their home. When it came time to move, they'd hook it to the back of the car and tow it to their next assignment. No, not the mobile homes you see today...a better comparison would be a small RV. A lot of times, pre-kids, they simply rented rooms from someone and negotiated what they call "kitchen priveleges." They had both grown up during The Great Depression so they knew how to survive.

Dad briefly exited the navy at one point in their marriage and tried selling insurance. After a couple of years of that, he went back into the navy. I'm sure there's a story there.

Dad fought in WWII, the Korean conflict, and in the early stages of Vietnam. There is a memorial to him and other servicemen at our county courthouse. He's one of three from our county who fought in all three major "wars" of his time. Mom was always a "stay-at-home" mom, as we say now, until after dad retired.

I was born in 1965. Dad retired from the navy in 1966. I guess I was his retirement project. He's now been retired for 40 years, so I guess I've taken a lot of work for him. They bought my grandparents' farmhouse in Georgia and moved there from Virginia Beach. They've never left. It's the house in the background of the picture above, taken this past Chrismas. Three of my four children are in the picture. Noah was shy. So, while my three brothers knew nothing but constant change as they grew up, I knew nothing but stability. Dad was always home. Mom did get a job, but it was at my school, so I saw her all day.

My parents have been married through many important times in history, many presidents have come and gone. Wars have come and gone. Many of their family members have gone. Dad was the youngest of twelve children. Only two are still alive. One is in a nursing home. Many of his nieces and nephews have also died. Mom is the second-youngest of nine siblings. She was the only sister. She had only sons. Oh my. Many of her brothers are now gone. I am truly blessed that both of my parents are still alive.

My parents have four children (Mike is 58, Bill is just over 54, James is 50, and I'm 40). They have 10 grandchildren. They have one great-granddaughter and one step-great granddaughter (I think I've got that right). Three of their granddaughters are married. Big family.

Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom. Congratulations on many years of happiness. Best wishes for many more.

Big D.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gettin' Ready For Baseball Season

Go Braves!!

Elijah is your new biggest fan.... Posted by Picasa

Guest Registry At Hotel Smith

Shelly Austin and Silas of Dayton were guests at Hotel Smith last week. We had a great time catching up with Shelly. Shelly is a close friend of the family and we have lots of fun and unusual memories of our times together.

Shelly visited last Monday evening through early Thursday. We enjoyed some relaxing time talking and watching Shelly be "mom" to Silas. We hung out in "the cove" with our neighbors quite a bit. It's now Spring in Memphis and the weather is wonderful!!

Tuesday Shelly and Silas discovered Shelby Farms and Silas took a dip in the pond. Tuesday night we had dinner out at Firebirds (thanks bunches Steve and Elizabeth for babysitting) then on Wednesday we met mutual friend Mark Murdoch for lunch at Fuego's, a Mexican grill somewhat similar to Chipotle's.

The kids had a great time with Silas, and it was really good to catch up with Shelly.

To remind everyone, Hotel Smith is open for business and is the Tennessee branch of Chateau Smith Enterprises. We'd love to see all of our friends...just call ahead for reservations.


Big D... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We Made The Newspaper...

A couple of weekends ago, we had a bit of a snowfall in Memphis. If you visit this blog occasionally you might have seen a shot of the house that I posted.

On Saturday, when we were all outside playing and having a blast, a lady walked through our neighborhood taking pictures of all of the fun. Turns out she was a photographer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. A day or two later they did a photo spread of the fun and our family was featured in a couple of shots. I downloaded the shots from the newspaper's web site.

Above on the right are my daughters Clara and Hannah making snow angels in our back yard. Below are Diane and Elijah. Elijah is enjoying swinging and being blinded by the snow. Noah was asleep at the time, so no fame for him. You snooze, you lose. I guess any photo of me made it to the cutting room floor.

Fun to see your family in the newspaper though. Thought you might enjoy as well.


Big D.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New Blog

I've added a new blog to my list of blogs that I regularly visit in the sidebar. The Dilbert Blog. It's written by Scott Adams, the cartoonist who created the comic strip Dilbert. Not only is he an incredibly funny cartoonist, his writings are outrageously humorous as well (read his entry called Olympic Swearing (Warning - Links To PG-13 Entry) and you'll see what I mean).

For those who ask what it is I do for a living, my standard answer is to ask if they read Dilbert. Dilbert is so close to my reality that I'm convinced he works for my company and in all likelihood I've sat near him at one point or another in my career.


Big D.

You Drove HOW Fast?!?!

You might find this interesting...

While surfing around, I stumbled across an interesting experiment. Students at Georgia State University in Atlanta, participating in a student film competition, set out to film a short drama. Their experiment that they wanted to capture in film? In an act of Civil Obedience, to drive 55 MPH...which is the posted speed limit, on I-285, Atlanta's perimeter interstate.

OK...I once lived in Atlanta. 1987. Immediately after college graduation. Even then, I-285 was called Atlanta's Autobond. Once in '87 the Georgia State Patrol had what they call Fast Lane Blues. They brought in 50 EXTRA patrolmen to curb speeding. They only had enough manpower to stop the cars going over 100 mph. Then the speed limit was 65...it has since been lowered to save lives. If you've driven there, you know what I mean.

According to a spokesman for the GA Department of Transportation, they expected the lowering of the speed limit to cause those going 75 to move over so those going 95 could have the right of way.

Anyway, the film, intended as a drama, won best comedy in the Georgia moviefest last month and will compete against other states this spring. The video was posted on google and has generated a national discussion about what is legal and what is right. The film has been on CBS and on ABC's World News Tonight.

For your viewing pleasure, some links to the film. Yes, they ticked off some folks...

Video Link 1
Video Link 2

Also, a link to the article in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution where I stumbled across the story...


Big D.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sometimes, You Just Have To Laugh...


I mentioned in a previous post (Weekend Are Way Too Short) that I was moving a little slowly on that particular weekend. I said I'd share more on that in a later post. I've decided to omit sharing any particular details about me moving slow, and to instead use this post to share a little bit of humor...

Here's a little bit...After having their 10th child, an Alabama couple decided that was enough. So the husband went to his doctor and told him that he and his wife didn't want to have any more children. The doctor told him that there was a procedure called a vasectomy that could fix the problem. The doctor told the man that he was to go home, get a cherry bomb, light it, put it in a can, then hold the can up to his ear and count to 10. The man said to the doctor "I may not be the smartest man, but I don't see how putting a lighted cherry bomb in a can and holding it next to my ear is going to help me." So the couple drove to Missouri to get a second opinion. The doctor was just about to tell them about the procedure for a vasectomy when he noticed they were from Alabama. This doctor also told the man to go home and get a cherry bomb, light it and place it in a tin can, hold it next to his ear and count to 10. Figuring that both doctors couldn't be wrong, the man went home, lit a cherry bomb and put it in a can. He held the can up to his ear and began to count, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5..." at which point he paused, placed the can between his legs and resumed counting on his other hand.

Here's some more...A West Virginia man, considering getting a vasectomy, decided to discuss it with his priest. The priest gave him various bits of advice, and suggested that he discuss it with his doctor. The doctor likewise advised him on various aspects, and on discovering that he hadn't talked to his family about it yet, urged him to do so. His family voted 14-4 in favor of it.

More...This guy goes to the doctor for a vasectomy. Unlike the usual patients, he shows up in a limo, and he's sitting in the doctor's office in a rented tuxedo with black tie. The doctor says "I've done a lot of these, but I've never seen a guy show up in a limo and tuxedo before. What's the story?" To which the fellow responds "If I'm gonna BE im-potent, I'm gonna LOOK im-potent!"

Another...Julie went to the doctor's office. She was seen by one of the new doctors, but after about four minutes in the examination room, she burst out, screaming. As she ran down the hall, an older doctor stopped and asked her what the problem was, and she explained what was wrong. He had her sit down and relax in another room, then marched back to the new doctor and demanded, "What's the matter with you? Mrs. Jones is a 35 year old, she has four children, her husband had a vasectomy and you told her she was pregnant?" The new doctor smiled smugly as he continued to write on his clipboard. "Cured her hiccups though, didn't I?"

And finally, not a joke, but a true story... This guy walked to the front desk at the hospital to register, and he handed a card his doctor had given him to the nurse. The nurse asks him, "are you here to have them crushed"? A bead of sweat runs down the side of his head and he says"pardon me "? Then she says, "Yes, your going to the sixth floor where we crush kidney stones" He laughs and says, " I hope they don't crush anything, I'm here for a vasectomy."

Some closing comments...
  • You have to have a little bit of humor to be a urologist.
  • Drugs are good things.
  • Frozen peas have multiple uses.
  • It's not always a good thing for your small children to jump into your lap.
  • It seems as though everyone has a story for you prior to such a procedure...and most of them are not meant to calm you down.

No...no pictures with this post...