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A Tribute to Herb June 26, 2014

Filed under: Reflections — acgheen @ 12:00 am
Tags: ,

I’m sitting in an office today. It’s not really mine. It’s a loaner that a couple of friends arranged. An escape from the tiny space I work in at home. It’s quieter here. No one banging dishes in the kitchen. No dog barking at the squirrels. No sound of traffic in the street. Just me and four walls. A place to focus, to think, and to remember.

I’ve left the door open into the hallway and can hear people come and go, all silently as though they were in a library. And, outside, visible through my one large window, is a sky that looks as gray and dreary as I feel. I’ve just lost a friend. No… someone who is much more than that.

Throughout our lives, people come and go. Some leave a mark and others don’t. Very rarely do any of those relationships last for long. But this one has lasted twenty-five years. My heart is not sure how to handle its loss. So much of who I am, I owe to Herb.

We met when I was five years old. He was the pastor of the church my family attended. I remember thinking he looked a bit like a giant teddy bear… even with an electric guitar in his hands. His wife, Jeanette, would give me gummy worms after church each week if I could recite a Bible verse for her. It wasn’t long before I felt that we were friends.

Mentor. Guide. Fellow conspirator. We’ve had some great adventures together. Like the time when he decided to take my on the light rail from Sandy, UT into Salt Lake City. All he had in his pocket that day was a collection of large bills. I watched as he slipped one into the ticket machine and out came the change… in change. Over $20 in $1 gold coins. The look on his face was priceless.

Then there was the night we stayed up past midnight. We’d watched a basketball game together. Or, more precisely, he had watched the game while I wrote in my journal. After the game, we sat and talked for hours. Our discussion wandered from theology and I recall sitting on the couch while he read me lines of poetry from a battered volume off his shelf.

I used to accompany him to the office on occasion. Till my dying day, I will believe that the best hours of my life were spent sitting in a pastor’s office, watching him work. Sitting there listening to the rhythm of church life.

I recall one particular afternoon when my presence attracted an abnormal amount of attention. He’d just accepted a call to serve a new congregation. I’d been in his office all day and one of the church ladies kept glancing at me as though she wasn’t sure why I was there. Finally he introduced me, “This is my daughter, Anna.” He waited long enough to get a good reaction before clarifying that I was his daughter “In the Pauline sense”. I will never forget the expression on the poor woman’s face!

He was a sort of sage full of both the spiritual and the highly practical. And I couldn’t help feeling that if someone really did follow Christ, they would look a lot like Herb. So I did the one thing that pastors don’t want members of their congregations to do: I imitated him. I said what he said. I did what he did. And today I’m sitting here drinking Dr. Pepper… because that’s what he drank.

We didn’t always agree. I didn’t always take his advice (though sometimes I wished I had). But I know that, at my core, much of who I am today is attributable to him and the example he set. So I’ll raise my Styrofoam cup: to the best Christian I’ve ever known. To Herb. I’ll see you on the Other Side.



A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words: Pictures from the Philippines June 19, 2014

Filed under: Philippines,Photography,Travel — acgheen @ 12:00 am
Collecting starfish after the tide. Bolinao, Philippines

Collecting starfish after the tide. Bolinao, Philippines

Trash Collector on the Pasig River. Manila, Philippines

Trash Collector on the Pasig River. Manila, Philippines


Graffiti Jungle. Manila, Philippines

Graffiti Jungle. Manila, Philippines

Watching the parade. Bolinao, Philippines

Watching the parade. Bolinao, Philippines

Posing for pictures. Bolinao, Philippines

Posing for pictures. Bolinao, Philippines

Working in the rice fields. Philippines

Working in the rice fields. Philippines

Ash from Mt. Pinatubo. Philippines

Ash from Mt. Pinatubo. Philippines

Watching the tides. Bolinao, Philippines

Watching the tides. Bolinao, Philippines

Electric fishing. Tarlac, Philippines

Electric fishing. Tarlac, Philippines


California Chrome June 12, 2014

Filed under: Horses,Racing — acgheen @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , ,

This isn’t the sort of place you’d usually find me on a Saturday afternoon (or any other afternoon, for that matter). But here I am, sitting contentedly at a table in the far corner of a Sports Bar and Grill, sipping a Coke and reading the latest edition of “Cook’s” magazine. (In which we discover that driving nails through potatoes does not significantly alter baking time.)

I’ve been here for most of the morning. I watched as barriers were erected in the parking lot and additional tables were set up. The betting window opened and the line grew. People came, but few went. Most (cowboys, bikers, ladies in sun dresses and large hats) took seats around the big screen at the front of the room. All of us were here for a reason: we wanted to see history. We wanted to watch California Chrome take the Triple Crown.

There was bar trivia to kill some of the time. I stunned a friend and won a prize when I correctly responded that only eleven horses had ever won the Triple Crown. I was actually hoping for a slightly more difficult question such as, “When was the last time a horse won the Triple Crown?” Answer: 1978. Or better yet, “Which horse took the last Triple Crown?” (Contrary to popular lore, it wasn’t Secretariat. He won in 1973 and two others have taken the honor since: Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed the following year.)

The post horn blew and I joined the crowd abandoning their chairs for a better view. I took up a seat on the edge of one of the pool tables, just high enough to allow me a clear view over the mass of heads. The race began and I joined everyone (except the drunk in the corner who was cheering very loudly for “NUMBER SEVEN”) in championing California Chrome.

We shouted, pleaded, and begged, but to no avail. A horse racing in New York can’t hear the voices of those watching from the other side of the country. There was a collective groan as Tonalist crossed the line, followed by silent stares as the crowd slowly began to disperse. Instead of becoming the 12th winner of the Triple Crown, California Chrome had become the 22nd near miss.

As I was preparing to leave, a local reporter grabbed me to ask about my day. Was I betting on the race? No. Was I disappointed in the result of the race? Yes. Would I give him an interview? I guess.

He wired me with a mike and asked a few questions, which I had difficult hearing over the noise of the dispersing crowd. Despite this, I heard the final two with perfect clarity.

“Have you watched much horse racing in the past?” he inquired, smiling at me from behind his camera as he filmed footage which aired several times, but which I never managed to see.

“Not much,” I replied.

“Would you watch more after this?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “I probably would. It was actually a lot of fun.”

California Chrome is a young horse. There’s always next year. And I’ll probably be back… maybe to watch him become number twelve.


Listen, Don’t Watch: Three Great Audio Sources for U.S. and World News June 5, 2014

I admit that I don’t usually watch the evening news. I don’t possess a desire to remain ignorant of world affairs. Nor is my stomach too weak for the sometimes graphic images displayed in living color. (Though I do occasionally grow frustrated at what seems to be an excessive replaying of such visuals.) My issue, instead, is one of time. My morning’s start early and nearly every minute is packed from 7AM to 9PM, leaving little time for viewing television in between.

Ignoring the news isn’t really an option, so I began a search for acceptable alternatives to the nightly newscast. There are, of course, iPod apps for nearly every major and, often, many minor news stations. Activating the “push” feature ensures that should anything really big take place, I receive an immediate one-line notification. Sadly, I have to be staring at the screen of my iPod at the time the notification is processed if I’m to notice that newsworthy events are in progress. And on the occasion that these notifications do slide into my visual range, they are often too short to provide any truly substantive (or oft times, accurate) information. I was looking for effectiveness, not merely efficiency… and the apps clearly wouldn’t do.

It was clear that I needed a non-visual solution and that’s exactly what I found. Many major U.S. and World news sources were offering regular podcasts which could be set to automatically download to my device. I experimented with several of these, finally narrowing my options down to three which provide particularly informative fare:

BBC World News is at the top of my list. At less than half an hour in length, this newsfeed does an excellent job of hitting the high points of global news. It often covers the major happenings which are missed by U.S. evening newscasts including events in the EU and Africa and includes on-the-scene interviews with those on the ground as news unfolds.

C-Span Radio – Washington Today comes in at a close second. I love this podcast because of its fair and balanced reporting. The broadcast centers on actual clips from House and Senate proceedings and interviews with the nation’s policy makers rather than the analysis of “talking heads”. At a few minutes over an hour, it’s a great way to keep on top of what’s going on in the nation’s capital.

WSJ This Morning, produced by The Wall Street Journal, is a nice “all around” recap of national news with a focus on political and economic analysis, entertainment, and an occasional “feel good” story or two. Another short broadcast, it’s a great way to round out one’s news gathering efforts.

Each morning, I roll out of bed, plug in these podcasts, and set about my day. It’s a great way to maintain my busy lifestyle while keeping track of the news that matters.


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