Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bad back report . . .

I am appreciative of all who have asked about my back.

I pulled a muscle in my lower back getting out of the car this past Saturday. We had stopped for gas, and I jumped out of the car into 24 F. air with 20 mph wind . . . without my jacket on.


This happens to me about 5-10 times a year . . . and usually gets better within a day or so . . .

But then I slipped on the ice yesterday . . . didn't fall . . . just did an amazing version of the Popeye the Sailor Man shuffle . . . and this morning when i woke up . . . Owwwww!

I am going to the chiropractor on Monday if the warmer weekend weather doesn't help.

Prayer will help it as well.

God's grace still amazes me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Chillin' . . .

It's an ice day in our area (the worst ice day in the past 6 years) . . . and our area schools are closed.

Sore back and all . . . I got up and cooked a good "ice day" breakfast for my wife and I . . . the kind of breakfast that when you finish it, you say "I don't think I'm going to need lunch today!"

I managed to vacuum the house, even tried to start cleaning up our current "interior eyesore" . . . otherwise known as my home study.

Man, it needs some work.

Now . . . my wife has left for work, and I will soon dress and head to the office for some "quiet" time for working and planning without interruption of the phones, since our office closes when the schools close.

Just a chillin' kind of day.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Just chillin' . . .

Ice on the roads and schools are closed.

My back is still sore, but I managed to cook a nice breakfast for lovely wife and myself, then ran the vacuum, and will work on straightening up my current "eyesore" . . . otherwise known as my home study.

That . . . will be  battle.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chili Bowl VI concert . . .

Another picture taken by Melissia Mason.

I swear . . . I wasn't yawing . . .

Really . . . I admit I was tired as all get out . . . the day before I was with Sean Simon at the Wichita Falls Guitar Show . . .

But honestly . . . I wasn't yawing in this picture . . .

Hoping for some more pictures of the band at our recent Chili Bowl VI gig. It was a hoot.

Next to Sunday worship, and the Thursday morning men's Bible study I attend, playing with this band is the church highlight of my week.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, January 19, 2009

Have "We" come full circle . . .

(Note: This evening, I have edited this blog, making more clear in my mind a few of the comments I made.)

I have often shared, private and publically, that I am very fond of, and admire, Peter Seeger.

Some will disagree with me . . . and have . . . and their arguments have merit perhaps, that some things in his past are not to be admired or emulated.

There are things in my past I do not want anyone to admire or emulate either.

My admiration for Pete is mostly centered in regards to his music.  I was about 19 when I first became of aware of the sings Pete had written, and those he was performing.  How Pete leads singing . . . so greatly influenced how I do it where and when I am privileged to sing.

Pete is in his 90's now, and his voice is failing somewhat. He still performs when he is able, with his grandson, Tao Rodriquez, at this side.

Yesterday, during pre-inauguration concerts held in Washington DC . . . Pete and Tao joined with Bruce Springsteen, and sang Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land!" Their version included a particular verse that is not often sung, or found in children's song books . . . about people standing outside a relief station . . .

I began to consider, as Eric Folkerth shared in his blog today . . . if Pete was wondering if how the song was sung yesterday in Washington DC, was the way Woodie intended for it to be sung. People of different ethnic origins and skin color . . . . singing about unitey, about working together for a common goal . . . hope for all!

Granted, they may also have been very happy about the election victories of the political candidates they supported . . . one cannot rule that possibility out.

Yet, I wonder about things coming full circle.  I remember as a young man of 18, watching a program where Pete lead the singing of "This Land is Your Land."  Yesterday, in his 90's, he sang it again.

In the 70's we were embroiled in Viet Nam and the civil rights movement was still a key issue in front of all Americans.    This week, in 2009, many in our country say that we are uniting more than ever, as we prepare to face the toughest period for our country in some years.

And in all the years between now and then . . . people have been singing, "This Land is Your Land."

I perhaps am a bit sentimental . . . too emotionally driven . . . in my way of thinking, hope is a central tenant of my faith, of my being . . . hope is what motivates me to face the future, instead of fleeing from it in terror of the unknown.   

Without hope . . . (in my opinion) the world becomes a dark and vile place, a place of chaos and darkness.   Hope is hearing "Let there be Light!" or even "Tomorrow is a new day!"  or even . . . "Yes, We Can!"

As we prepare for tomorrows inauguration of Barak Obama as President of the United States, I find myself praying for a man I did not vote for . . . but who tomorrow will be my President. I pray for him, his family, for he faces a most diffucult task ahead. I pray for him to have wisdom, and the ability to continually cast his vision of hope, or a people, and for a nation.

Listen . . . and sing along if you like.

By the way, this is (in my humble opinion) the greatest folk song ever written.

Weight loss and health goals for 2009 . . .

With two "big" family weddings this past fall, (one I officiated at, the other I paid for) and the holidays . . . I have to admit I gained back some of the weight I lost this past year.

So, sometime this week, I will be receiving a new pedometer (step counter) which will actually be able to sync with my computer . . . so I can more accurately keep track of the amount I walk each day.

I just love charts and graphs!

My weight-loss goal this past year was two-fold . . .

-1) Get healthier, and;

-2) Fit into my black suit for my daughters wedding.

I lost over 60 pounds . . . got healthier . . . and the black suit I wanted to wear to my daughter's wedding ended up being to big . . . so I rented a tux.

I still can make a tux look pretty darn good!

My new weight and health goals for 2009 are as follows:

-1) Continue to get healthier . . .

-2) Increase my number of steps by at least 1,600 each day. (10,000 steps-a-day is the recognized number of steps for the best chance for optimum health through walking.)

-3) Reach a weight of 250 by the end of the summer of 2009.

Here we go!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I am now a "Wii" Tennis pro . . .

For Christmas, my dear Mom gave my family a Wii.

I had only played one once before, with my nephew at my sister's home in Nebraska. It was sorta fun . . . but I was concentrating on spending time with my nephew and neice, not so much on playing a video game.

One of the games Mom gave us was "Wii Games."

It has tennis.

Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh! Teeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

In less than half-a-month of playing (NO! Not everyday! I am NOT ADDICTED! Repeat, I AM NOT ADDICTED!) . . . I have achieved a Wii tennis rating of 1395.

I am a Wii Tennis PRO!

Last night, with family as witnesses, I defeated a team with Pro rankings of 1800 (who were wearing black . . . and who both looked very, very, very mean!)

You would have thought I had just won Wimbeldon . . . well, at least from my perspective.


But, I do need to go home. My next scheduled match is this afternoon . . . . and a local store has an after-Christmas sale on Wii stuff going on . . . .

(Sigh!) I have got to get a grip!

My daily blessings overwhelm me . . . ><>

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Favorite comic strip cartoons . . .

Today, my wife and I and some friends went over to the Grapevine Antique Mall which is managed by my good friend and fellow guitar player and singer, Charles Weems.  I checked some old books, and found two used books of different Calvin & Hobbs cartoons.

Got me to thinking . . . which of all the comic strip cartoons are the best?

In my humble opinion . . .

1)  Calvin & Hobbs . . . funny, witty, reminds me of all the stuff my kids pulled when they were little.  It was funny them also.

2)  Tumbleweeds . . . especially the jokes with Wart Wimble, the town gravedigger, or Ham & Beans, the two mule-skinners.  A very close 2nd to Calvin & Hobbs.  The C & H artwork is better.

3)  The Wizard of Id . . . in my opinion, Johnny Hart's best effort.   

4)  B.C.  . . . another Johnny Hart cartoon . . . the poems by the old peg-legged guy were always funny . . . dumb, but funny.

5)  The Far-Side comics . . .  a bit too much like South Park . . . making fun of everything . . . I used to get a Far-Side desk calendar every year, with a cartoon for every day . . . hmmmmm, I wonder why that stopped???

Peanuts would probably be on the list of favorite comics for many people my age . . . I used to think Peanuts was funny . . . then I came to believe they were mostly cute . . . now I think that, in truth,  most of the Peanuts comics were really quite sad.

What are your favorites?

I am daily overwhelmed by my blessings . . . ><>

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

After years in a fog . . . a revelation!!

This is a guitar / amplifer thing . . . so if that is not your cup of tea . . . then click now onto another blog.

If you like laughing at someone . . . keep reading.

Yesterday . . . I had a "guitar" revelation . . . the kind that makes you a better player . . . a much better player. Yesterday, I also never felt more pitifully stupid in my entire adult life.

Back in 1993, I was able to purchase an Peavey Ecoustic 112 amp from Holze Music, which was located just down the street from FUMC-Waco, where I was serving as the Senior Associate Pastor.

It was, and still it, a good amp, mostly because it is "MY" amp . . . it can be very loud when volume is needed . . . and it is paid for. At that time, I was playing a Martin Sigma acoustic guitar with a Martin Gold pickup.

The issue . . . it is an acoustic amp . . . meaning it has a set of 5 sliding EQ switches . . . which I have kept for years in the position the sales guy put them in for when I played my old Sigma.

The week before we moved to FUMC-Grapevine, back in 2005 . . . I got my Martin D-16, which has a pre-amp . . . the guitar had a pickup in the bridge, and seperate mic for the f-hole, and onboard controls . . . EQ contols in fact. These controls were very well explained to me by the guys at Heart of Texas Music in Temple, Texas, from whom I bought the guitar.

Now . . . did I ever make the connection that when a guitar with onboard EQ is plugged into an amp with EQ settings already set for another guitar . . . that there might be problem???

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo . . . I didn't.

And the result . . .

My D-16, and any of the electric guitars I have played through the amp have sounded mushy and out-of-tune.

Oh, and my electric guitars . . . I have them plugged into a guitar effects pedal board . . . which is completely normal . . .  which I thought were all set correctly . . . but when plugged into the amp with the EQ set for my first acoustic . . .

You are crying for me right now . . . aren't you.

Ah, but then there was yesterady . . . ah yesterday . . . and out of it all . . . a revelation!

Alan Massey, the lead guitarist of our 1st Church String Band, and a former professional guitar player (toured with a band for 7 years), has let me play around this week with his Peavey T-60 electric guitar . . . which has all sorts of phase controls and pickup coil splitting ability . . .

Yes . . . at this point I admit that I DO NOT KNOW what I am talking about . . . but I know I like it!!!!!

I am playing the T-60 . . . and look over to my amp . . . prepared as usual to cuss-it-out . . . when I see the EQ settings on the amp.

"Hmmmm" I say to myself. "Those EQ settings are for my old Sigma acoustic."

So, I walk over . . . and push all the switches down to the "0"or "flat" positions.


A brilliant bright life suddenly flashes . . . nay . . . fairly explodes inside my office, and apparantly inside my brain as well (which is what always happens when stupidity,which has been fueled by years of ego, is suddenly obliterated by the discovery of ABSOLUTE "AMP" TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE!!!)

The T-60 . . . it played great . . . actually, one of the best electric guitars I have ever heard!

Then I switched to my Tele . . . Wow! What an absolutely sweet sound.

Then I plugged in my Hotrod #2 . . . oooooooooooooohhhhh!!!! What an absolutely lovely sort of a Pete Townsend "crunch" that guitar can make with its' P-90 pickups.

"Dude, I am really not as bad of an electric guitar player as I thought I was" (another flash in the room as well as in my brain . . . more stupidity obliterated forever!!!!!)

Then I cranked up the controls on my Seymour Duncan Twin Tube pre-amp . . . and ran the guitar through it to the amp . . .

(A pause here please . . . as I bow my head and close my eyes . . . the tears of joy I shed yesterday . . . It was beyond words . . . a personally moving experience of epic proportions . . . it actually changed my life for the better . . . the world HAS become a much better place . . . there is order now in the guitar and amp universe . . .)

Simply put . . . it was a profound sensory experience of an extremely extra, extra deep religious nature.

It's a guitar thing . . . if you play guitar, or are passionate about something similar . . . you understand.

Then maybe again . . . you don't!

So this morning . . . not even a full 24 hours later . . . I am happy as can be about my guitar knowledge in general . . . but still feeling pretty stupid about such a very simple mistake I have been making for years and years and years and years.

Why. . . because I have bought, traded for, or have been given 3-4 great electric guitars . . . 2 different Sheraton II's, a burgandy and gold Epiphone Les Paul custom . . . a great natural wood G&L Tele . . . and ended up giving them all back . . .

Chalk it all up to a "lack of knowledge."

Depressing . . . isn't it?

However . . . I am getting ready in short order to crank out "China Grove" on the T-60 . . . and I am confident that I will be feeling much, much better within the hour.

And, Alan is coming over in a while . . . and at lunch, I am going to admit to him what I was doing, and seek his counsel, the counsel of a professional.

I've already confessed my stupidity to my friend, Floyd . . . who it seems has yet to respond back . . . which scares me actually for some reason . . . because his advice has always been:

"Get to know your equipment completely before purchasing any new equipment."

So . . . I can proudly announce today . . . that "Yes" while there is still NO PILL FOR STUPID . . . all it takes is to just open your eyes and see what is really there . . . and . . . "live and learn."

I admit the following:

1) I DO NOT know-it-all about guitars and amps.

2) And . . . probably never will.

But, this old dog CAN still learn the important stuff, in time. For that I am grateful. Just wish I would have learned this lesson a long time ago. . . and opened my eyes a lot sooner.

I am daily overwhelmed by my blessings . . . ><>

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Very interesting . . .

Facebook that is.

I've been encouraged by some of our members to do two things . . .

1) Have a devotional blog of some sorts, and . . .

2) Join Facebook.

I've done both.

The devotional blog . . . that is easy. I can list what I am going to try to study for the week on Sunday afternoons.

The Facebook thing . . . a bit different . . .

Funny thing about Facebook . . . people contact you asking you to be their "friends."

Funny thing . . . I thought I was already a "friend" to most of the people who have asked me to be a "friend."

Then I learned that "friend" is the designation you give those who have access to your profile and other information.

There are Facebook networks . . . I am a member of the Dallas / Ft. Worth, TX network.

There are Facebook groups . . . I am a member of the FUMC-Grapevine group. I wasn't even aware we had a FUMC-Grapevine Facebook group until Melissia Mason made me aware of it.

Very interesting . . .

I am overwhelmed by all my blessings . . . ><>

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Years resolutions . . .

Jenny Davidson is our Director of Student Ministries here at our church. Thanks to her pastoral prayer in the 11:15 AM service today . . . I have my 2009 resolutions all set to go.

1) Relationships / people are what matter most.

2) Focus on my strengths.

3) Always choose faith instead of fear (as Jenny prayed in her prayer today).

4) Become more proficient in conversational Spanish.

I am overwhelmed by my blessings . . . ><>

Friday, January 2, 2009

New blog . . .

I have started a new blog . . . Pastor Rick's Daily Devotions - 2009.

This is a blog that lists the bible readings and other devotional readings I try to spend time with every day.

Thought some of you might be interested in knowing what I feel lead by God to focus on.

Ever forward . . . ><>