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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

I've watched this Batman parody ten times today

 It's the latest film The Batman movie but with Adam West!  Check out the Batmobile!


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Anxious for nothing, prepared for anything

How I have not been diagnosed with some kind of anxiety disorder, I may never know.  But it is true: I have been anxious too awful much for anyone during these past several years (and by "several", I mean two decades at least).  Especially too anxious as a Christian, when I should have been waiting patiently for God in His time.

A few weeks ago a dear friend gave me a copy of Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, by Max Lucado. I'm about halfway through it so far.  First of all, I am delighted to discover that Lucado is still writing.  I first became introduced to Lucado's work about twenty-five years ago, when I was just starting my life as a Christian.  It became some of the more influential literature during my early walk with Christ.

Second, it has been quite some time since a book other than those in scripture convicted me of something.

I've been anxious to the point of falling prey to fear.  In many aspects I have been paralyzed by fear.  Fear of too many things.  Especially of being alone.  And I have been so filled with fear of that, that it has prevented me from enjoying some potentially wonderful blessings in my life.

And this may come across as silly, but I'm ashamed of myself as an Eagle Scout.  To be an Eagle is to "Be prepared" for whatever comes up in life.  Including those things that bring about anxiety.  I should have been meeting those issues head-on, confronting them with a heart without fear, instead of letting them get the better of me.  I have paid a price for my lack of preparedness.  But maybe it's not too late to do something about that.

"Anxious for nothing" comes up in Philippians, chapter 4, verses 6 and 7...

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

I should have been bold in presenting my requests to God, but ready and humble enough to accept whatever His decree was, whether it was "yes" or "no" or "wait".  I like to think that what He has been telling me all along, though I wasn't very accepting, was to wait.  I couldn't wait, and it led to me making some mistakes.  I have finally come to realize that I wasn't prepared for the blessings He had in mind for me, until now.

What would my life have been like, had I been prepared with a heart of courage instead of one capitulating to anxiety?

I will never know.  But I don't have to know either.  Something interesting about God, that my best friend told me a long time ago: we can't mess up with Him.  No matter how much we make a mess of things, He is always several steps ahead of us.  He may not set things straight the way we want Him to, but he doesn't have to.  Whatever we do, if we acquiesce to His will, does give Him the glory and the honor.  And in the end that's what it's all about.  When He answers our prayers and gives us good things, well... that's simply the cherry on top.  And one that a glad heart will be prepared to enjoy to the utmost.

A week ago as part of my "blogging for Lent" I shared my testimony for the first time.  That was twenty-five years ago, when that happened.  I am astounded and thankful and too many other adjectives, that God has been working in my life throughout all this time.  Because I am coming to see, now, that He has not forsaken me.  That there never was any reason to be anxious.  And He has been graceful enough to carry me through all this entire time of trial and tribulation.  Growth came of it.  I have to believe that more than that came of it also.  And I look forward to seeing what comes of that.

Anyhoo, it's a great book by Lucado.  I'll give it a hearty recommendation.  Well worth reading!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The CDC: Too much power given to an agency

One February morning in 1997, I was at a gas station in Burlington, North Carolina.  At the counter someone was complaining about new cigarette laws requiring that people under a certain age must show their photo ID.  He said it was a stupid law.

"Wait, let me explain something," said the bearded man behind the counter.  "What you are protesting against is not a law.  You are instead protesting a regulation.  A law is something that has gone through the legislative process and is voted into being by people that you vote for and who are accountable to you.  You don't get to vote for people who make regulations.  They can do whatever they want to do.  They don't answer to you at all."

It remains one of the most eye-opening exchanges I've ever witnessed.  It changed my perception of things.  Ever since that morning, I have cast a wary eye on things like mask-wearing: is it a law, or is it regulation?

For the past two years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has mandated wearing of masks in public places.  And worse, there have been the mandated "get vaccinated or else" proclamations.  Most of those have come from decree by Joe Biden (I refuse to honor him with the title "President").

NONE of this has been "law".  Congress did not order masks or "vaccinations".  That's what unelected government bureaucrats ordained.  And no matter what a sitting president demands, he or she does not have the authority to insist that civilians get jabbed (the military is another matter, and the Supreme Court just decided 6 to 3 against members of the armed forces who want to refuse the shot: Thomas, Gorsuch and Alito were the dissenting justices).

Masks and "vaccines" against COVID-19 have become the most egregious and blatant power grab in American history.  Thankfully, earlier this week a federal judge struck down mask mandates on public transportation.  You may have seen the photos of airline passengers tearing their masks off and rejoicing.

The Biden "administration" hates that.  And they are already trying to appeal it or work around the judge's decision.

Remember people: it's NOT a law that we've had to be putting up with for the past two years.  It's a REGULATION.  One whipped up out of thin air by our alleged "betters".  A thing dreamt of by people we don't vote for and who will probably never be held accountable.  For the damage and injury done, both physical and mental.

I received the COVID vaccine very early on.  As a health care worker, and someone who is in constant contact with the general public, getting "vaccinated" made sense.  I'll never know if it worked to ward away COVID.  I do know that I contracted COVID late this past December (the symptoms were mild).  But in hindsight if I had a chance to have a do-over, I would not have received the shot.  As much as being an "up yours" to people like Fauci and Biden as it would be to regard my own health and well being.

Remember: if the mask mandate comes back, you don't have to comply.  Because that's not a real law at all.  And it never was.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

New children's book asks: what is an abortion?

Big League Politics posted a story yesterday about a children's book titled - and I am not making this up - What's An Abortion, Anyway?

Does anyone else catch the irony about this?

A book for children.

About abortion.

As if our kids aren't having enough of their childhood taken away from them already.  Now comes this.

(And I can't even find a literary agent for the book I wrote about a little girl and her doggie...)

I remember the first time I learned what an abortion is.  I was nine years old.  I asked one of my parents "what's an abortion?" after seeing it mentioned on the six o'clock news.  I will never forget the answer, it chilled me to the bone so coldly: "It's when a mother kills her child before it's born."

Why?  Why would a mother do that?

Almost forty years later, I still can't understand.  Oh, I know the rationale about it even if it goes unsaid: that some human life is "inconvenient" enough to be deemed disposable.  But I just can't wrap my brain about how someone can carry an unborn child within her, to feel that kind of LIFE growing and being nurtured, only to have it vacuum aspirated out of existence.

If a book really wants to inform small children about what an abortion is, it should show them the photos I have seen of actual aborted fetuses.  They should see the tiny lifeless bodies with faces and fingerprints of their own, chopped up into pieces on cold metal dishes.  They should be told the real cost of an abortion: the regret that many women come to feel after having their babies butchered within their womb.

Books such as this, and too many materials in our (almost always public) schools, are placing an enormous and inappropriate burden on our children.  They are expecting children to have a grasp of adult concepts, at an age when they should be enjoying being innocent of such things.  I asked about what is an abortion because I sincerely wanted to know.  If I was too young at the time, I trust my parents would not have told me.  They would have said "you'll understand someday" if they thought I couldn't handle it.  As it was, I had already learned about human reproduction at age seven.  I was curious so I read about it in the World Book Encyclopedia.  Interestingly, that article never mentioned abortion.

If we are going to teach children about abortion and make it sound safe and sanitary and routine, then we had also better be prepared to teach them about other "adult concepts", like God and theology and the notion that there is absolute good and evil in this world.  Let's do that and let the children decide for themselves about the "sanctity" of abortion, if it's so unassailable an idea.

Would "progressives" be that accommodating?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Mission accomplished!

Yesterday was Easter.  And with it came an end to making a blog post for each day during this year's Lent.  I'm in a bit of surprise that I was able to pull it off.  There were times when I thought I wouldn't be able to make it.  A number of close calls, like having to post from my iPhone while at a hospital with a client.  But somehow, I was indeed able to make one blog post a day throughout Lent.

Forty-seven days ago, things were very different.  I was having a severe depressive episode.  Worse than that, I was feeling a lack of faith.  But circumstances are better now.  My faith in God has drastically changed.  This season of Lent, was one where I focused on God more than I really let on with this blog.  Some aspects of my life have been altered: for the better, I have to believe.  I'm no longer feeling so alone, but instead see ever more clearly that I am indeed blessed with family: some by blood, and a lot by choice.

I know of no other way to put it: God worked something miraculous during the past month and a half, and I am a far better person for it.

As for my writing: I've discovered that this experiment exercised muscles that had long gone neglected and unused.  I think I'm stronger as a writer, and more equipped, than I had been before this began.  And I may endeavor to make at least one blog post a day, from here on out (whenever that will be).  The Knight Shift will be twenty years old come January 2024.  Lord willing it will still be around for that.

Until then, write I shall.  A lot of people have told me over the years that they enjoy and appreciate the effort that I make in having this site.  I want to do right by them.

Okay well, I wanted to write throughout Lent and I did!  Now it's time to celebrate.  I'm thinking... brownies!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Easter Sunday


Happy Easter. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 46

Last night I was on the phone with a friend and, as has happened with a lot of our conversations lately, it turned to spiritual matters.  And that led to me sharing a little (I say "little" because the entire story runs WAY too long for a phone or blog post) about how I came to follow Christ, now a little over twenty-five years ago.

I haven't said very much about that, either here or elsewhere.  I guess as with so much else it got washed away in the flotsam and jetsam that comes in the wake of persistent mental illness.  So much that has been forgotten about while flailing my arms, trying my hardest to keep my head above the dark water.

But, I am a Christian.  Deeper than that, I am a follower of Christ.  It's not enough for me to simply go to church on Sunday.  For me, it has to be more "real" than that.  To follow Christ is a seven day, round the clock exercise.  And I suppose that whatever has happened to me in the past, warts and all, is part of my testimony.  I'm not particularly proud of it, but... there it is.

Maybe it's time that I shared a little of what happened to me, now a quarter century ago, that led to me giving up life for myself and starting to live for the One who gave all, so that we might have life abundant.  I will try, at least, to convey some of what happened.

It all started during my senior year of high school.  I had long wrestled with notions of God.  Wondering if He was really "out there" somewhere.  But in a startling flash of enlightenment - and I remember exactly where I was at Rockingham County High School when this happened - it hit me that the universe is too PERFECT than for it to have been a random fluke stemming from the Big Bang.  It came over me that no matter how He did it, there must have been a master Architect who designed the cosmos and everything within it.

And that is how I came to believe in God.

But it is yet a far thing between that, and having a relationship with God.

I had thought that God didn't want anything to do with me.  I had spent ten years being bitter at God, for things that I see now where not His fault at all.  This is a fallen world still, and for as long as it persists there will be evil people within it.

I spent the next several years in tenuous comfort with the idea of God.  Knowing He must be there, but feeling too damaged to approach any closer.  I became like one who is "outside looking in" at the communion that others had with Him.  Always at the window but never at the door to come inside.  And I was like that, up until I came to what is now Elon University.

It began to happen my first week at Elon.  It was a late Thursday afternoon, and I was on the way back to my room in what was the old Jordan Center dorms.  I went inside the commons building to get drink from the machine, and there were people inside.  Quite a few people.  One of them greeted me.  I said hi.  "What are you guys doing?"  She replied: "we're the Baptist Student Union.  Want to join us for dinner?"

It turned out to have been a meal provided by one of the churches in the area.  Real home cooked food... including mashed potatoes and green beans... offered to me for free.  After a week of eating cafeteria food.  Of course I was going to take them up on that!

I met some really good people that night.  Including the faculty advisor and a local pastor who was the mentor of the group.  Following dinner there was a time of fellowship and devotion, some time spent in the Bible.  I thought it was amazing, and they accepted me though I was still far from being a Christian as they were.  The following week after that first meeting I came with my own Bible: a student edition that had been a graduation gift (I had been at a community college prior to transferring to Elon) from the United Methodist congregation in my parents' neighborhood.  And I began studying with my new friends.  One of those friends, a few months after we met, ended up asking me if I'd like to be his roommate at his apartment, since his current roomie was about to leave.  I took him up on that offer, and in January of 1996 I moved into my first real place as a young adult.  But I digress...

I kept coming to Baptist Student Union, and Drew (my roommate) often told me that I should also check out Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, which met every Tuesday night at the student center.  I didn't go anytime during my first year at Elon.  But when my "sophomore" year began (keep in mind that when I finally graduated I was a seven year senior) I finally went to what was known as "IV".  And there I met even more people, who were followers of Christ just like my friends in Baptist Student Union were.

Between Baptist Student Union and Intervarsity, for the first time in my life I felt surrounded by people who accepted me.  Who I felt I could associate with, without feeling judged by others for my weaknesses.  It was an AMAZING thing, to find that sense of close community.  To this day I haven't found anything like that, and I miss it terribly.

But again, I digress...

I came to IV again the following week.  And that night the group's president announced that there was going to be a retreat on the first weekend of October, at Sunset Beach on the North Carolina coast.  Drew told me that he was going.  "You should come along too, its going to be a lot of fun," he told me.  I wasn't sure about it but he kept encouraging me to come along.  And finally I did.

Because the Elon Intervarsity beach retreat became one of the most pivotal events in my life.  It still is.

IV had rented four beach houses in close proximity to one another.  One of them was deemed the "main house" and that's where most of our activity was at.  That Friday night when we (Drew, our friend Calvin and I) arrived, the festivities were already underway.  We went into the main house and joined the fellowship.  And I sang the songs, and I enjoyed singing the songs with the others.  And that was as close to God as I thought I would ever be.  No one would ever know my secret: that I was not a Christian.  That I could never be a Christian.

It was the next day, on Saturday, that the time of real retreat began.  There was a group of guys - and I still have our picture somewhere - that went out to the sand dunes near the beach, to... I don't know what the right word is, "commune" with God?  There was Brent, and Geoff, and Heang, and Scott, and Thomas, and Kendall, and me.  And I listened to them as they talked about God and drawing closer to Him.

It was unlike anything I had ever taken part in.  It was certainly a far cry from the stentorian legalism of the church-run school that I had attended over ten years earlier.  That was a place where we worshiped God because we had to.  But this was different.  Here were people, not much different than me, who were worshiping God because they wanted to.  And that was a very startling thing to behold.

There were other things that happened that weekend.  And I began to notice something: there were others who were asking questions about God in general and about Christianity in particular.  Other students were answering their questions.  They were question that I had heard asked a hundred times and more over the years.  But again, this time it was different.  There was a real sense of love and joy behind the answers given.  One person in particular, I was watching him and listening to him asking the questions that I wanted to ask.  He became a proxy for me, and my curiosity about... well, about what all of this was really all about.

I remember walking the beach that afternoon with a new friend, also named Drew.  We spoke of things and it remains one of the deeper conversations that I have had in my life.  In his own way, Drew nudged me to consider God a little deeper than I had before.  And I'm going to forever be thankful that we had that time together.

Well, we all spent the rest of the afternoon and evening having fun.  Making hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner.  More fellowship and singing.  Playing on the beach.  And I noticed my "proxy" was still asking questions.

I will never forget it as long as I live.  I had gone back to the house I was staying in for something, and then came back to the main house.  It was about 9 on Saturday night.  I went into the front door and saw my "proxy" in the living room.  But there was something new about him.  He was radiating.  He was aglow with a light I had never seen before.

Clearly, something had overcome my friend.  I asked Scott "what just happened?"

"He accepted Christ," Scott replied.

"He did?"  I had never seen someone become a Christian before.  Not really become a Christian anyway.  There had been "being saved" that I had seen at Community Baptist School a number of times, but even as a child I thought those were cold and superficial.

What happened to our friend was different though.  He was smiling, in a way that was practically alien to me.

It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

And I knew then that whatever he had, I wanted too.

But I still felt too damaged, too imperfect, too flawed than to be able to have something like that in my own life.

Later that evening, and again I will never forget this, I found two friends - who happened to have been in the very first class I attended at Elon - who were talking.  Their names were Brent and Cindy.  And I asked them if I could talk to them.  And they said sure.  And we went into an empty room in the main house.

I ended up telling them everything.

I told them about the abuse.  About the doubts I had in my heart and mind about God.  About so much, that just came pouring out of me.  I told them that I wanted what our friend had, but I didn't know how to do that.

They didn't judge me.  They didn't think any less of me.  Instead they prayed with me.  A prayer that was the first step on the long road that lay ahead of me for the rest of my life.

It wasn't a prayer of salvation that I spoke that night.  But it was a prayer, asking God to show me something.  To heal my heart.  To answer the questions I had.  To guide me toward however this was going to end up.

I went to sleep that night feeling more fulfilled than I ever had felt before.

Well, the retreat ended the next day around noon.  We all got in our cars and headed back to campus.  I left the retreat, but the retreat couldn't leave me.  I came back to Elon a different person.  Someone who had begun to question his heart as never before.

I spent the next few weeks going to every Intervarsity meeting, including a small group every Monday night.  I listened, I asked questions.  I shared the thoughts in my head about all of this.  I couldn't quench my spirit now thirsty for a sense of peace and serenity.  I wanted what my friends had.  I still felt unworthy.  Again, too damaged.

There was a nearby church that had worship times on campus, every Sunday afternoon.  It was called Elon Celebration.  I had been going every week.  A lot of the IV people went too.

It was the first Sunday of November, 1996.  After worship some of us went to nearby Harden cafeteria to have lunch.  And it was while I was eating spaghetti that one of my friends, also named Chris, unexpectedly, gave me his Bible.

It had originally been his grandmother's Bible, he said.  I couldn't accept this, I told him.

What happened after that, I am really not sure about.  Chris and Brent and another friend, Dalerie, were at my table.  They began to pray.  I felt something inside yanking at me, hard.  It was something terrible, that was trying to stay alive.  I felt like I was being torn apart.  At one point I think I lost consciousness.  Chris asked me if I was all right.

"I want it to stop. I want it to stop.  I want it to STOP!"

I couldn't tell you the words that I spoke, but in that moment of desperation and darkness, at long last I was able to overcome the hurt and destruction that had been in my life, and turned for the first time to God.

Dalerie was weeping.

I felt... different.  Relieved.  Like the heaviest weight that could possibly be upon a person, had been lifted. I felt new.  Regenerated.  I felt alive as I had never felt alive before.

And that is how, for the first time in my life, I turned to Christ.  And it remains the most significant thing that I have ever done.

Of course, there were some... difficulties... that came with becoming a Christian, at long last.  A number of things happened in the wake of that, which I am still trying to figure out.  And years later when the shadow of bipolar disorder fell upon me, my faith was jostled and shaken and too many times felt utterly shattered.

Yet, here I am still, twenty five years later.  I turned to Christ on that day, and there hasn't been a day since that has been like what came before.  Even in the darkest moments, I think there has been a sliver of my being that has held out in faith, that there was Someone bigger than me sustaining me through the tumult.

Twenty five years later, and I am still a new person.  Still growing.  Still becoming what God would have me to be, despite all my human frailties and failings.

I know of no other way to put it: "The thing WORKS."

And that is my testimony (absent some minor details).

Friday, April 15, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 45

Today is Good Friday: the commemoration of the day that Jesus Christ died at Calvary.  It's only fitting, then, that today's installment of "blogging for Lent" should be mindful of that.

Good friend of this blog and all around amazing guy "Lowbridge" found this a little while ago and shared it on another forum.  I decided it was well worth passing along to this blog's readers as well.  As good a thing as any for the occasion.

Longtime television viewers will recognize Agnes Morehead for her portrayal of Samantha's mother on the 1960s sitcom Bewitched.  What I didn't know until just now was that Morehead was a devout Christian.  She grew up in a Presbyterian house where her father was a minister.  It's been said that Morehead brought her Bible with her to work every day, and would read from it between scenes.  It also goes without saying that she was a phenomenal actress.

As part of Oral Roberts's Easter special in 1970, Morehead performed a dramatic reading of the Easter story.  Here it is, for your edification:


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 44

I got pulled over this morning!  Now that's pretty impressive, since it's been over ten years since I last got a ticket.  Actually it was three tickets in the span of less than a month and a half (what can I say, I was eager to see my girlfriend in Virginia).  And then you factor in that during that time I've driven across America and back for a whole year, and all the states that we passed through.  That's pretty close to 100,000 miles on the car without getting pulled over.  Not too shabby.

Anyhoo, he let me go with a warning ticket.  Won't have to pay a fine or get points on my record.  But I thought this was an occasion well worth remembering.  So in honor of my first ticket in more than a decade, here's the trailer for the 1976 motion picture Eat My Dust (starring Ron Howard):

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 43

Wow.  Where did the years GO to?

A few weeks ago, for whatever reason, I popped in the Blu-ray of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.  It had been quite some time since I'd watched the second chapter of the saga's prequel trilogy.  Actually, I think it might have been since before The Force Awakens premiered, and that was in late 2015.

A few minutes into it, I realized that this May marks the twentieth anniversary of the film's release.  A week and a half before Episode II premiered, I was at Star Wars Celebration II in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Not just as an attendee but as a member of TheForce.net's staff.  We had our own booth and everything.  We even got to attend the dinner with a lot of Star Wars notables on the night before the event's opening (Kenny Baker, thank you for forgiving me for almost stepping on you).  After the dinner Bonnie Piesse (Beru in the prequels and in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series) joined the staff for a really nice pic that resembles the "Scarlett and her suitors" pose from Gone with the Wind.  A jolly time was had by all!

Of course, Celebration II was the big lead-up to Attack of the Clones.  A movie that for various reasons, will forever be a curious touchstone of my younger life.  As a TheForce.net staffer I was privy to just about EVERY "spy report" that got leaked from behind the scenes.  It's safe to say that I knew far more about the movie as it was being made, than what we saw in the final cut of the movie itself.  In one especially memorable incident, another staffer and I almost flew to Sydney, Australia to take part in a sting operation involving a stolen copy of the Episode II script.  But that's all I should probably say about that...

Maybe for that kind of stuff and others, I'm forever going to be looking at Attack of the Clones through rose-colored glasses.  Instead of seeing it for what most perceive the film to be: perhaps the most mediocre and problematic of the entire Star Wars movie library.  It's not without reason that Episode II gets that reputation.  For one thing, it's the LEAST quotable Star Wars film.  The ONE line that sticks out - when Anakin says "I hate sand..." - is only repeated when mocking the film.

For another reason, the very title is somewhat of a misnomer.  It's not a very good title at all when you think about it.  At the time though the official PR line was that the phrase "attack of the clones" hearkened back to the B-movies of the Fifties: "The Attack of the Monster that Ate Minnesota" etc.  As one who was "in the know" about Episode II more than most, I found the title more than a little ludicrous.

Personally, I think that the biggest reason why Attack of the Clones is so derided, is that it looks the least like a Star Wars movie.

This was the first installment of the saga to be shot digitally as opposed to traditional film.  George Lucas got his grubby little paws on a sweet new camera system and he was eager to put it to use.  Digital was the wave of the future and Lucas wanted Episode II to be the movie that blazed that path to glory.  But going all digital came with an unforeseen price: the finished picture looks, well... too DIGITAL.  There is no real warmth or film grain that had come to be expected of a Star Wars movie.  It's jarring, to be honest, to go from the analog look of The Phantom Menace to the almost sterile tone of Attack of the Clones.

And on top of THAT, there was ALL of the computer-generated effects that Lucas ladened the movie with.  There were very few practical effects.  Again, it was almost completely digital work, done on a workstation at Industrial Light and Magic instead of in-camera or with miniatures and pyrotechnics.  There were even CGI costumes (and the clones themselves are completely computer rendered).

It is a movie rife with problems, and I don't know why I pulled it out of my "Star Wars shrine" to watch again.  But I did.  And maybe some fresher eyes would better appreciate the film.

And now?

Having watched it again for the first time in awhile, I'm more forgiving of Episode II's shortcomings.  In hindsight it builds well upon the foundation laid by The Phantom Menace, and some have argued that Attack of the Clones makes Episode I an even better film.  It also raises the stakes, and sets up things to come in Revenge of the Sith.

I now think that Attack of the Clones is a worthy Star Wars motion picture, that unfortunately suffers from some significant production choices.  It is glaringly obvious that Lucas went mad with power in making this movie, and was hellbent on bringing EVERY toy in the box to bear on his endeavor.  That was not a good thing to have done at all.  Sometimes "less is more".  Not everything has to be a 3D model to be rendered on a Silicon Graphics mainframe.

For all its faults though, and as noted for various reasons which shall remain personal, I like Attack of the Clones.  Warts and all, it's still a Star Wars movie.  And the franchise has yet to completely go off the rails.  If it ever does, it will be for far worse reasons than any that Episode II represents.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 42

Gonna be WAY easy to post today!  The trailer for Stranger Things season four dropped this morning.  I may or may not have watched this a few times at the office today.

Holy smokes!  Hard to believe it's been three years since season three.  Looks like the wait will be worth it though.  Love the use of Journey's "Separate Ways" in this.  Just... epic, man.

War is coming indeed.  And did you catch Robert Englund's character with the gouged-out eyes?  What the heck?!

Stranger Things season four hits Netflix on May 27th. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 41

When I started "blogging for Lent" almost a month and a half ago, it came during a lesser moment for me.  I had taken a serious blow.  Depression was about to swallow me up again.  I couldn't see any possibility of life taking a turn for the better.  God?  I could see Him working in the little things... but I confess to harboring doubt that He had heard my most desperate prayers to Him.

And now?  Now...

I'm less than a week away from completing making one blog post each day during Lent this year.  And in looking back since beginning this lil' endeavor... I do so able to honestly declare that I'm happier than I can remember being, in a very long time.

This is also the closest that I've been able to draw to God, in years.  The past several robbed me of too much of my faith, than for me to be either used by Him or to be a witness of Him.  Life's circumstances and tribulations took their toll.  Made me too jaded.  I like to think that God is repairing the damage.  No, not "like to think": I know that He is.  The Chris Knight who is writing these words tonight is not the same Chris Knight who started Lent with an open heart and an open mind.  God has worked, not just during this period but across the span of my life, to  bring me closer toward His plans for me.  Maybe I had to go through the pain.  It broke me, humbled me, tore me down so that God could make something better of it.

That's what I prefer to believe anyway.

This has been an enormously rewarding exercise.  But it's not just the writing for this blog.  There have been things "behind the scenes": people, experiences, time spent in prayer and devotion.  Things I haven't documented.  Things I may never write about but will forever remain dear and precious to me.

There's at least one of those that I hope I get to write about, and sooner than later.

But, we'll see ;-)

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 40

 It's Tammy's Tenth Birthday Party!!  Here are some of the pics from the event, which was attended by two dogs and their collective three humans.  Including photos of the cake I baked for the occasion.  And a good time was had by all!  Click to embiggen:

The birthday girl and me :-)

Tammy's friend Sasha

Tammy did NOT like the idea of wearing a party hat!

The cake

Tammy couldn't quite blow out the candles but it wasn't for lack of trying!

Sasha enjoying some cake (which was tasty by human standards too)

Tammy eating her birthday cake

Tammy's new toy, courtesy of Sasha's person Melody.  It took her all of ten minutes to destroy the squeaker!

Incidentally, if you want to bake a cake for your dog, here's the recipe I found courtesy of Dorothy Kern at Crazy For Crust.  The main ingredients are peanut butter, sugar-free applesauce, and honey.  And like I said in the captions it was tasty for humans too.  But I'm sure dogs appreciate it even better :-)

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 39

This was such an action packed week that I wound up sleeping until just after four this afternoon!  Lots of stuff at work, some things not work-related and then a VERY awesome day yesterday.  I am presently baking a birthday cake for my dog Tammy, for a party some friends and I are throwing for her tomorrow (Tammy's good buddy Sasha will also be there).  The ingredients of the cake include peanut butter, applesauce, and honey.  This may be the one time I do not lick the batter.

Meanwhile as the cake bakes, I'm rewatching the first season of The Chosen (mash down here for my earlier review).  This time it's being streamed to my high-def television.  AMAZING series.  This is easily the most high quality series that I know of in current production.  I'm really hoping it goes the full seven seasons.  If Stranger Things can finally get to season four (soooooo looking forward to that, when it starts next month) despite COVID halting work for awhile, then The Chosen can reach its goal too.

Time to take the cake out.  We'll see if the dogs approve.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 38

 HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY to this little goober:

Yes friends and neighbors, it was ten years ago today on Easter Sunday 2012 that my miniature dachshund Tammy was born!  She was one of a litter of five - two boys and three girls - and she was also the runt.  I think it's safe to say that she has ended up with a more interesting life than most dogs get to have.  That she rode in my lap for a year spent driving across America, alone puts a lot of character on those stubby little legs.  She has been my sweetest companion, my bark of conscience, my life saver (at least once), the person I can trust to understand me when nobody else on earth does.

Happiest of birthdays, Tammy.  And here is to many more :-)

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 37

Today's blog post sort of suggested itself, in the wake of events during the past three days.  Maybe what I'm about to say will help others who are finding themselves in the grip of depression, or some other mental health situation.

You see, this week my path has crossed those of two people who I care about: one in my personal life and another who I know from my work as a professional peer support specialist.  Each of them is having an emotional crisis.  Much like the ones I have had at various times over the course of the last twenty-some years.

In each case, I have suggested that inpatient care at a behavioral health facility should be considered.  Checking one's self into a specialized hospital for a few days or a week or so.  Letting trained doctors and staff work with a patient toward reigning in their depressive or schizophrenic episode.  Sometimes - as happened with me several months ago - it's because medication needs balancing out and I had to be monitored for any side effects.  The reasons vary.

One thing that it is NOT, is an "insane asylum".  I have never been inside a real asylum (apart from a haunted one I visited when I was younger).  People are not caged like animals in a behavioral health center.  It is not like The Snake Pit or One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.  It is almost like a vacation away from it all.  The food tends to be quite good.  I would recommend bringing along a book to read (my most recent stay in inpatient found me reading Bitter Blood, a book that has sucked me in at least half a dozen times over the years).

If you or someone you know is in a mental crisis situation, there is NO shame whatsoever in asking for help.  Including checking yourself in to a behavioral health center.  Sometimes a little help is needed to get back on even keel, and that’s okay.  That’s more than fine. I’ve been in such places no less than five or six times and I’ve always come back out on top.

It’s NOT like it used to be on TV and movies.  Those days of mental health medicine in the western world are gone.  Apart from one place waking me up at 5 every morning to ask if I’d had a bowel movement (I blame the nurse), the care was always with dignity and compassion.

It can be nervous-inducing to think about checking yourself into inpatient care.  But I’d rather “nip it in the bud” (to quote Barney Fife) than let something run amok and out of control.  I know the darkness of which I speak, and I would rather no one else have to go through anything as I have had to endure.



Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 36

At the moment I am posting this from a hospital.  Work has obligated me to focus on other matters this evening.  So there won't be a regular blog post, not like I would have wanted it to be anyway.  Just the nature of things.  Maybe there'll be something more to write tomorrow.  Until then, take care and God bless.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 35

Not too much to report this evening.  It was a fairly busy day on the job.  Peer support certainly does not lack for drama!

I didn't know what to post tonight until I read some sad news.  Bill Fries passed away a few days ago at the age of 94.  He was an ad executive who started acting in his own commercials as the character he created, C.W. McCall. Then he decided to have his fictional character become a singer and he sang about life as a trucker.

So he was an executive pretending to be an actor who was pretending to be a singer who was pretending to be a trucker. That's a lot of mileage out of one character!

In memory of Bill Fries aka C.W. McCall, and in honor of all the one-hit wonders of the Seventies, here is "Convoy":

Monday, April 04, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 34

I know what I want to write.  And it is wonderful.  The problem is that I'm not quite "all there" tonight.  Blame seasonal allergies and Yours Truly trying some exotic antihistamines yesterday that kept me up all night.  I worked through the day (and drove almost seventy miles in the course of duties) with barely a break.  And I'm still hoping to catch tonight's championship game...

(For this occasion alone, I will root for University of North Carolina.  Gotta cheer for the home team.)

But I'll give it a shot.

I have known all along about surrendering to God.  At least, that's the head knowledge.  The heart of the matter however, that is something else.  It takes almost a supreme effort to lay down our hopes and dreams, giving them to God, and letting Him make of them what He will.

I had to let go of some things that I wanted.  And instead, I had to make do with the things that I already have.  But in making an inventory of that, I found that I was very blessed indeed.  I have my dog Tammy.  We have shelter and food to eat.  I have a car (it's got over 200,000 miles on it but still going fine).

My mind is my own again.  And I think that this exercise of blogging for Lent has been wildly productive.  It has brought me back into the realm of writing on a regular basis.  In the past few weeks I've written my first short story in almost four years.

I have a job that I love, that lets me help people on a daily basis.  As of this week I've been at it for three years.  Once upon a time that would have been impossible.

It's a really neat trick: start making yourself thankful for what you have, no matter how little it may seem.  Don't even think about what you lack.  Just be happy, knowing that you have been cared for by God.  And I have to believe that this applies to any living situation, no matter how dire.

I had to shut up and appreciate what I have, in order for God to get to work.

And lately, He has been doing a work in my life that I could not believe, though it be told me (to paraphrase Habakkuk 1:5).

It only took me two and a half decades to understand.  I suppose better late than never though, aye?

I may have something more to share in the coming days, along this line of thought.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 33

So, Duke fell to North Carolina last night.  I now have no one to cheer for in this tournament.  Kansas always seemed too overhyped to me, and they beat Villanova yesterday.  Or maybe I'll root for UNC tomorrow night just because they're still from my neck of the woods.

Mike Krzyzewski made a mistake in announcing his retirement well before the season.  He should have waited until after the tournament.  Instead he made this entire season about himself and his ego.  When it should have been about the players and the program in general.  He fell victim to hubris, and I really thought more of him.

Even so, let's never forget that he contributed a lot to the game. Mock him all one wants, but the man deserves respect.

Okay, that's everything substantive I have to say today.  Currently I'm enduring hay fever and all kinds of exotic antihistamines are floating around inside my biochemistry, working hard to keep the mast cells from unloading their allergy-induced contents.  So I'm feeling pretty hopped-up at the moment.

So since it's Sunday, and I haven't posted a Sesame Street sketch in a WAY long time, here is a timeless classic: Bert and Ernie in "Water Dripping"...

Saturday, April 02, 2022

Lenten Bloging 2022: Day 32

For the past six days we've been watching it like a hurricane, churning ever closer and gaining strength along the way.  It has become the perfect storm: nothing like this has happened before and nothing like it will ever happen again.  We are bracing for a collision of gargantuan proportions and no matter who wins it will be a battle for the ages.

Tonight, Duke plays North Carolina in the NCAA Basketball Tournament semifinal.

The two teams have never played each other in an NCAA tourney.  The last time Duke played Carolina was on their home court in Durham.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski's final home game and Carolina beat them by double digits.

Tonight could be Krzyzewski's final game ever.

I hope not.

I want to see him in the final on Monday night, playing against either Kansas or Villanova.

I want to see the Duke team giving their coach one last thrill.

Is there any other way to put it?

GO DUKE!!! :-)



Friday, April 01, 2022

Lenten Blogging 2022: Day 31

So much that could be said.  Today was one of extremes.  In the midst of my joys there was a time of sadness, and I was reminded of just how very different things could have been, had the circumstances of my life been a little altered.

When my dog Tammy and I were traveling west across America, we spent a few months in San Diego.  I figured that we had gone as far west as we could, might as well try to stay.  So we were there from Thanksgiving until March.

I'll never forget all of the homeless people that I saw there.  And very nearly all of them obviously with mental illness of some kind or another.

I suppose I was homeless too, although I still had a car loaded with the essentials, waiting to be unpacked wherever our new home was going to be.  I had a warm hotel room to return to.  I was never close to being on the street, not knowing where the next meal was coming from.

But had things gone different, it could have been me.  Alone.  Driven mad from a lack of counseling and medication.  Far from where I started in an alien city.

"There but for the grace of God..."

I had to say goodbye to my most longtime client today.  He was the first person I started working with as a peer support specialist.  He is in a place where he'll most likely be at for the rest of his life.  He can't take care of himself.  He has no family or friends to help him.  He's getting psychiatric services there, so he doesn't need me or my team anymore.

I had to tell a 69 year old man today that I couldn't see him anymore and he broke down crying and it's been haunting me all day.

Amid this, there is the other end of the spectrum:

I think God may have led me to someone very special.

And I am looking forward to watching how things go between us.

More soon.