August 12, 2014

Extraordinary

...a fellow of infinite jest,
of most excellent fancy.

He hath borne me on his back a thousand times...

Where be your gibes now?
Your gambols? Your songs?
Your flashes of merriment
that were wont to set the table on a roar?


Robin Williams was such a brilliant comic that it's easy to forget what a magnificent actor he was, too.

For a short time he streaked across the sky like a comet, leaving a trail of wonder behind him.

Whatever ever else he was, he was never ordinary.

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July 17, 2014

Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body." ~ Elizabeth Stone

This heartbreaking, yet inspiring, story was below the fold of my paper this morning.

"TOLEDO, Ohio — Just days after his infant daughter’s death, Nathen Steffel asked strangers on the Internet for only one thing: He and his wife wanted a photo of their daughter without the breathing tubes and tape that masked her little face.

The response has been overwhelming.

Hundreds of photos, sketches and paintings have poured into the family’s northwestern Ohio home and their inbox."

Some with beautiful results...

Sofia.png

Speaking of beautiful results...

It came to my attention, ok, my inbox, that another miracle took place over the weekend, and due to that, our beloved Princess may very well be experiencing a few fashion failures every time she pops another bra strap showing off the bling from her latest trip.

For the office:
office mug.png

And the car:
car mug.png

Not to mention her new screensaver:
bling sticker.png

And, of course, something to read as she hits the gas and blows by your ass:
bumper sticker.png

Now, this isn't to say that she isn't as proud as hell of her two grandpunks. Y'all know that just ain't true.
But a granddaughter....
And the first one.
Now that's something.

congrats.png

Congrats, my friend.

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June 12, 2014

Masterful


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May 20, 2014

Bringin' the Fun

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March 29, 2014

Admiral Jeremiah Denton, An American Hero

Know, all who see these lines,
that this man,
By his appetite for honor,
By his steadfastness,
By his love for his country,
By his courage,
Was one of the miracles of the god.

- Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan

We live in a superficial age where what is true, honorable, just, pure, commendable or praiseworthy stands little chance against the sensational, shocking, or prurient. Like flotsam, we drift (or are propelled) aimlessly; continually distracted by a torrent of lurid images, stories, and disconnected bits of information. An outsider might well wonder why any sane person would voluntarily choose to swim in such muddy water. But there are benefits associated with choosing to relax and go with the flow.

Reflected back at us in the warped mirror of moral relativism, our own lapses seem tiny. Hardly worth noting. Relatively speaking, we are paragons. And so we gradually stop paddling, stop resisting, cease to fight (or even, eventually, to notice) the current that sweeps us along. What once frightened and repelled us now seems normal. Comfortable, even. Come on in: the water's fine. Everyone else is waiting for you.

But from the corner of our eye, we catch a glimpse of a tall man striding across the riverbank. He walks with a bit of limp, and in his eyes lurk shadows that hint at unimaginable horrors:

When Denton recalls his trials in Vietnam, his eyes are often closed. For two and a half years, he spent 17 to 18 hours a day in irons. Alone, in a coffin-sized cell, he had to remain on a 47-inch-by-47-inch square during the day. It was just long enough to walk two paces. At night, he slept on a stone slab. "It wasn't the Hilton," Denton said. There were no windows. Just a 10-watt bulb, roaches and spiders the size of tarantulas. "Jesus was with me all the time," said Denton, who is a devout Catholic. His proudest moment was conquering his claustrophobia. Denton said during that time, he was in an "extremely intellectual and spiritual state." He said it is amazing what the mind can accomplish, if given the opportunity.

He once derived the formula for centrifugal force in his head, something he couldn’t do with pencil and paper at the U.S. Naval Academy. Although the other captives had designated Denton "president of the optimist club," there were times he prayed to die. He didn't want to -- couldn't -- endure another minute of despair. Once, when Denton refused to tell guards how the Americans communicated with each other, he was tortured for 10 days and nights. By the 10th night, he couldn't think anymore. He couldn’t pray anymore.

Denton surrendered. Not to the guards, but to God. "It was a total surrender," he said. "If there was anymore to do, you will do it," he told God. "That instant, I felt zero pain," he said. "I felt the greatest comfort and reassurance in life that I haven’t felt since."

Whatever it is we have glimpsed in those eyes, it has not broken him. Nor can it ever diminish him, because alongside the deep lines remembered pain and fear have etched into his face there is also grace and strength. As we watch silently, he stands a bit taller; straightens his shoulders and waves. Calling out in a voice that easily carries above the dull roar of the water, he says, "Don't give in! Don't give up. There is so much more than just this moment."

You could be so much more. We all can be.

But swimming in these waters for so long has left us weary and cynical. It has left us unable to distinguish between that which merely glitters and true gold.

The word hero has become something of a debased coinage. Tolerance shaves around the edges of the coin, gradually reducing its size and weight while millions of tiny collisions with the culture of self esteem and careful refusal to judge wear it thinner and thinner each day. Some notice that the coin seems to have shrunk in size, but when they reach for a ruler to demonstrate this, no one can find one.

We threw them all away.

Rulers are harsh, unyielding. They tell us something we don't really want to hear; that an inch is still an inch no matter how badly we would like it to be something more. That we don't quite measure up. That we need to try harder, be more, care more, do more. That there is some objective standard that exists outside our own needs and desires.

Some men's lives serve to remind us that there are still standards, still ways to measure ourselves against the eternal. Admiral Jeremiah Denton was such a man. Underneath the tears and the anger and the sick feeling today's news brings there is something else - something that will stand as Jeremiah Denton's legacy.

Faith. Abiding faith that man is not meant, as so many have argued, to be the measure of all things.

I shall think of this good, good man walking along a peaceful, crystal clean river in the presence of the Father who never once left his side. May he dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

**************

Via Powerline, a story I had not heard about Admiral Denton. When the plane carrying American POWs back home landed at Clark AFB in 1973, Adm. Denton spoke these words:

“We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”

More here and over at Memeorandum.

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March 19, 2014

Time and Perspective

Via Betsy Newmark comes an interesting overview of Europe's changing borders over the last millennium. Several commenters have pointed out a few inaccuracies, but overall it still provides a fascinating view of the way states grow or implode over time:

How quickly we forget.

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March 11, 2014

Kids and the Power of Music

Music has tremendous power to move us, and this is rarely more apparent than when watching young children discover its magic.

In the first of two videos (placed below the fold so they don't slow down site loading), a young girl renders an astonishing version of Billy Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday":

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart here
Darling I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is tellin' you how much I wanted you.

We once read an article on the theme, "What makes great art?" Fancy definitions aside, when a work of art communicates so well that someone who has never cared about or experienced a thing nonetheless feels it deeply, that qualifies in my book.

)

One of our favorite memories is of our youngest boy, aged 4, dressed up in a tweed blazer and his very first "big boy" tie, munching on fruit as he stood - completely blissed out and utterly oblivious to anyone else in the room - in front of the bass player in a jazz quartet. His little eyes were closed and one foot was tapping in time with the music.

In his hand was a cluster of grapes. The bass player said he wished everyone could enjoy music that much.

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March 08, 2014

Kleenex Alert

In a cynical world, it's good to know that seemingly minor decisions can still create miracles. God bless this young man and his parents:

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January 22, 2014

All Kinds Of Kinds

The category says, "Something Wonderful", but this one comes with a caveat: "And Sad".

Friends and strangers have raised more than $20,000 to fund the funeral of an 8-year-old boy who died after saving six relatives from a fast-moving blaze in his grandfather’s trailer home in western New York.

Tyler Doohan is being hailed as a hero days after he awoke his grandmother, aunt and cousins, including two children ages 4 and 6, after spotting the fire early Monday in the single-wide trailer in Penfield. The boy's body was later found near the bed of his disabled uncle, who authorities believe he'd gone back in to save in a doomed effort as brave as it was heartbreaking.

Our society today throws the word "hero" around with such casual disregard for the veracity of whether or not the act is truly heroic. This young man, who will never grow to be an old man, knew heroic without understanding why. He knew it because it came from that place from whence comes all acts of true heroism - it was in his heart.

Tyler Doohan.png

RIP Tyler Doohan. Know that you are were a better Man than many of your current societal peers will ever be. May they look upon your selflessness and find themselves wanting. To the family whose lives were spared by Tyler Doohan's selfless act, may you one day live in peace knowing of the great love he held for each of you.

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January 21, 2014

All Kinds Of Kinds

Via BookwormRoom comes this video of an exceptional flash mob in Russia. The occasion being the marriage, and subsequent surprise, of a young couple by their friends. Bookworm offers it for enjoyment with some historical context for the video. I, however, loved it for one simple reason: the look of surprise on the bride's face as she realizes just exactly what her friends have done for them.

Plus, I love the song
Ok, that's two reasons. Cue the YouTube.
0>;~}

Update: OBloodyHell has shown up with his pencil in hand and pointed to another flash mob that I would not want missed. Not only is the music beautiful, but the kids, oh the kids....
Just watch:

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December 31, 2013

All Kinds of Kinds

Something I was always told when I was growing up was, "God answers all prayers. Sometimes he says, 'No.'" I guess it would be more appropriate with this story to say, "Sometimes God says, "Hey, isn't that interesting over there?" to invite you to read more of this aricle.

"Happenstance often has a way of turning a life upside down -- and so it was with Colleen Mason.

To understand her story, it's probably best to tell it that way -- upside down, starting with the moral, which might go something like this: When your voice is silenced, keep your spirit singing -- one day it will find its voice again.

[snip]

'I grew up singing -- everywhere and all the time,' the 32-year-old mother of three said, deftly alternating young daughters on her lap in their modest Bourbonnais, Ill., apartment. 'My grandfather was a singer on a local California TV and radio station. My mom sings and plays the piano, and I was always in the choir and in shows in high school.

'And being who you are is the loudest voice you will ever have.'

'I just thought, 'Why would I do anything else?'

[snip]

'February 12, 1999,' Colleen said, 'It was my senior year of high school. I was in the traveling choir, in a car with three others and we were on our way to sing in Reddick, Ill.,' a tiny village of just a couple of hundred people not far from Colleen's hometown.

'We hit black ice,' she said. The rest is a blur."

Please read the rest. It's an inspiring reminder about the adage of closed doors and opened windows.
Have a blessed New Year, villainry.
May the best of your past.
Be the worst of your future.
*lifts beer*
Cheers from the Dark side,
DL Sly

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December 29, 2013

All Kinds of Kinds

A few items to help keep alive that feeling of goodwill towards men that Christmas brings. First up, a brother who defines brotherly love and the honoring a promise made:

"While a lot of us woke up Thursday morning to head back to work, or to the malls for Christmas returns, Seth Collins was hitting the road on what could be the final leg of an 18-month feel-good mission of brotherly love.

Waiters and waitresses, rejoice. It's what Seth's kid brother, Aaron, wanted.

In fact, it was his last wish.

'Leave an awesome tip (and I don't mean 25%, I mean $500 on an f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress,' Aaron wrote in his will. He was only 30 when he died on July 7, 2012.

[snip]

But why a $500 tip?

'Aaron's at Buffalo Wild Wings and gets a waitress who it's her first night on the job, guys are drinking and yelling, and she's getting orders all wrong... she did EVERYTHING wrong and told Aaron she was gonna quit.'

'When Aaron got the bill -- and remember, he didn't make a lot of money -- he left her a $50 tip, and wrote on the check, 'Don't give up.'

'Immediately, you could see, her attitude changed and Aaron thought, 'Imagine what a $500 tip could do.'"

Well done, Seth. You honor your brother as well as yourself and your parents with your determination to keep a promise.

Next is a story of fatherly love and sacrifice:

"She was only five months old, but little Jazlyn Camargo of Bridgeport, Ill., was in need of something far too few people are able to find: an organ transplant.

[snip]

Both of her parents were possible organ matches, but her father, Eduardo Camargo, insisted he undergo the surgery to save his daughter.

'Right away I said it had to be me and not my wife,' he told ABC News. 'I have two other daughters, and they need a mother more than they need a father.

But Camargo soon encountered a heart-breaking reality: Doctors discovered the 210-pound, 35-year-old man showed signs of fatty liver disease, indicated by having more than 10 percent fat in his liver. He could not safely serve as an organ donor unless he dropped body and liver fat.

So with the clock ticking, Camargo raced to lose the weight needed to save his baby daughter."

Please, go read the rest of this wonderful story. Fair warning for those with *allergies*, grab a kleenex.

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December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!

The mountains are draped, fields in the valley glisten, and the rivers and lakes lay hidden beneath layers of ice and snow. Winter has come to the mountains of western Montana bringing with it the season of love and hope when family and friends come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It's not, however, a day of redistributing riches, as some secular souls would have you believe.
No, today is a day to stop.
And focus.
On the reason for the season.
To celebrate His birth.
And make a joyful noise.

Merry Christmas, villans. May you have a blessed day.

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December 19, 2013

Christmas Eve with Bob Welsh

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December 13, 2013

The Best Christmas Present

Something to warm the cockles of your heart.

"U.S. Army mechanic Matthew Windisch gave his parents, Joann and Mark, quite a surprise when he greeted them at a Flyers game on Thursday night. As far as his parents knew, Windisch, who is stationed in Korea, wasn't expected home until December 20. Joann and Mark were invited to help unwrap a rather large gift, revealing a life-size G.I. Joe box with Matthew inside."

Tip o' the Stetson: The Sporting News

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November 08, 2013

Wonderful Map Collection

At the WaPo, 40 fascinating maps. Lots of food for thought there.

If you like this sort of thing, the NASA site has some gorgeous photos as well.

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October 24, 2013

Something Wonderful

CWCID

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