Monday, December 25, 2006

The First Leon

The kids did a fabulous job last Sabbath evening on their Christmas Program (for the benefit of the Angel Tree Families). Here are pics from the evening, along with pictures of our Angel Tree Kids.

Christmas Truce


During World War I, in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in all of human history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever.

All of a sudden, German troops began to put small Christmas trees, lit with candles, outside of their trenches. Then, they began to sing songs. Across the way, in the "no man's land" between them, came songs from the British and French troops. Incredibly, many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to propose a "Christmas" truce.

The British and French troops, all along the miles of trenches, accepted. In a few places, allied troops fired at the Germans as they climbed out of their trenches. But the Germans were persistent and Christmas would be celebrated even under the threat of impending death.

According to Stanley Weintraub, who wrote about this event in his book, Silent Night, "signboards arose up and down the trenches in a variety of shapes. They were usually in English, or - from the Germans - in fractured English. Rightly, the Germans assumed that the other side could not read traditional gothic lettering, and that few English understood spoken German. 'YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT' was the most frequently employed German message. Some British units improvised 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' banners and waited for a response. More placards on both sides popped up."

A spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their trenches, meeting in the middle to shake hands. The first order of business was to bury the dead who had been previously unreachable because of the conflict. Then, they exchanged gifts. Chocolate cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco. In a few places, along the trenches, soldiers exchanged rifles for soccer balls and began to play games.

It didn't last forever. In fact, some of the generals didn't like it at all and commanded their troops to resume shooting at each other. After all, they were in a war. Soldiers eventually did resume shooting at each other. But only after, in a number of cases, a few days of wasting rounds of ammunition shooting at stars in the sky instead of soldiers in the opposing army across the field.

For a few precious moments there was peace on earth good will toward men. All because the focus was on Christmas. Happens every time. There's something about Christmas that changes people. It happened over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. It's been happening over and over again down through the years of time.

This week, Lord willing, it will happen again.

Origins: Of the British and German soldiers who faced each other across the muddy fields of Flanders on Christmas Eve in 1914, even those who no
longer believed the optimistic predictions of a short war would have been shocked to learn that it would drag on for another four years — and that it would ultimately see the staggering totals of 8½ million dead and 21 million wounded. Nonetheless, by December 1914 the European War — being fought by men who were weary, frustrated, and dispirited, bogged down in the glue-like muck, waterlogged trenches, and barbed-wire entanglements of Belgium, with little sense of national purpose other than to defeat the enemy — had already claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties since the beginning of hostilities in early August.

Despite the constant machine gun fire and artillery bombardments of the western front, and even though in some places front-line troops were a mere 60 yards away from the enemy's lines, soldiers on both sides received gift boxes containing food and tobacco prepared by their governments that Christmas. The Germans, who had a direct land link to their home country (British soldiers in Belgium were separated from London by sixty miles and the English Channel), also managed to send small Christmas trees and candles to troops at the front. And, notwithstanding the fact that a Christmas cease-fire proposed by Pope Benedict XV had already been rejected by both sides as "impossible," on Christmas Eve the "law of unanticipated consequences went to work," as Stanley Weintraub, author of Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, described it:

. . . the Germans set trees on trench parapets and lit the candles. Then, they began singing carols, and though their language was unfamiliar to their enemies, the tunes were not. After a few trees were shot at, the British became more curious than belligerent and crawled forward to watch and listen. And after a while, they began to sing.

By Christmas morning, the "no man's land" between the trenches was filled with fraternizing soldiers, sharing rations and gifts, singing and (more solemnly) burying their dead between the lines. Soon they were even playing soccer, mostly with improvised balls.

According to the official war diary of the 133rd Saxon Regiment, "Tommy and Fritz" kicked about a real football supplied by a Scot. "This developed into a regulation football match with caps casually laid out as goals. The frozen ground was no great matter . . . The game ended 3-2 for Fritz."
The spontaneous truce (which included French and Belgian troops in some sectors) was largely over by New Year's Day, however. Commanders on both sides ordered their troops to restart hostilities under penalty of court martial, and German and British soldiers reluctantly parted, in the words of Pvt. Percy Jones of the Westminster Brigade, "with much hand-shaking and mutual goodwill." The Great War stretched on through another three Christmases and beyond, but all subsequent attempts to organize similiar truces failed, and millions more died before the armistice of 11 November 1918 finally ended the shooting for good.

As Stanley Weintraub noted at the close of his book on the 1914 Christmas truce:

However much the momentary peace of 1914 evidenced the desire of the combatants to live in amity with one another, it was doomed from the start by the realities beyond the trenches. As the English rock band The Farm, decades later, summed up the results after the enemies "joined together and decided not to fight," but failed, there was "nothing learned and nothing gained."

A celebration of the human spirit, the Christmas Truce remains a moving manifestation of the absurdities of war. A very minor Scottish poet of Great War vintage, Frederick Niven, may have got it right in his "A Carol from Flanders," which closed,
O ye who read this truthful rime
From Flanders, kneel and say:
God speed the time when every day
Shall be as Christmas Day.
Although the Christmas Truce of 1914 may seem like a distant myth to those now at arms in parts of the world where vast cultural differences between combatants make such an occurrence impossible, it remains a symbol of hope to those who believe that a recognition of our common humanity may someday reverse the maxim that "Peace is harder to make than war."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why I havent been HERE

Reasons why I haven't been blogging lately. This run started at Thanksgiving and so far is in full swing.

1. I've been out living my life and I forget to write about it.

2. I've been spending tons of free time with all the folks I love - enjoying the fellowship of family and friends (tis' the season people...) and eating tons of good food.

3. Speaking of Tons, I'm tired of what I see on the scale so going to the gym every day has also become (yet again) a part of the daily routine. This part is hard, but I really do pray about it and everytime I ask for the Spirit to help me get through my prayer is answered and I WORK the workout. ;-)

4. Got invited to see "THE KATRINA PROJECT: HELL AND HIGH WATER" at the Lincoln Theatre ....a quick thought cannot describe how moved i was by this presentation. See following note.

Award-winning ‘Katrina Project’ arrives in Washington
Special to the American

Hattiesburg High School students will travel to Washington, D.C., to present a performance of “The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water,” an emotional journey into the hearts and souls of Hurricane Katrina’s survivors.

The one-night performance, sponsored in part by the National Education Association Foundation, is a fundraiser that will benefit arts and music education programs in Mississippi public schools affected by the 2005 storm.

Student involved with “The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water” toured New Orleans’ Ninth Ward before traveling to Washington.

“The Katrina Project” was written by two Mississippians, National Education Association Executive Committee member Michael Marks, a high school dramatic arts and debate teacher, and Mackenzie Westmoreland, “The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water” is based on actual interviews, collected stories and found texts, all of which provide a voice for the survivors of the greatest natural disaster in America’s recorded history.

The play follows a diverse group of characters as they experience and reflect on the devastation, heartbreak, anger, and – ultimately – hope of the thousands of individuals affected by the Category 5 storm.

The show will be performed at 8 p.m. today at The Lincoln Theatre, followed by a reception

5. Had to pay respects at the Corporate Holiday Party. (anyone feel me on this?)

6. Totally and Thoroughly enjoyed my departmental corporate holiday outing today! Closed corporate IT - did lunch at some italian joint in columbia - then rocked out at shadowland for lasertag. It's totally a game that you can suck at and still have a great time and lots of laugh. Great way to spend time with the co-workers in a totally new and fun way.

7. Planning to attend a diversity breakfast on Friday morning.

Thats all in addition to the regular stuff that I HAVE to do every day. Reason enough not to be sittin around blogging? I do think so.

Will be back with the whirlwind settles just a bit.

Wishing everyone peace on earth and good will to men. ;-)

Seasons Greetings!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oakwood Opens Church to Community Funeral

I got this as an email from my "brother" Bobby. I thought it deserved sharing.

The second of four funerals for students killed when a school bus plummeted over a highway overpass in Huntsville, Ala earlier this week (11/20/06) was held Saturday morning.

Natasha Lee, 17, was one of four girls who died when the bus went over a guardrail and dropped 30 feet to the ground.

Forty Lee High School students and Scott (bus driver) were on the school bus Monday morning when a car came up on a side lane and evidently hit the bus.

This rest of this story will probably never be on CNN but I want to share it you my relatives and friends. I attended the funeral. No, I didn't know this young lady. I was in town visiting my brother's family. There are some events that touches your heart and reaffirms that society has a good heart. . . .

Oakwood College Church of Seventh-day Adventist. Oakwood College Church CANCELLED their worship service to host the funeral of this young lady that didn't have a church home. That is truly unheard of. It has given me new strength in the Adventist Church. Too often we TALK the talk but sometimes do not WALK the WALK. For this reason, I chose to attend the funeral to support the family. Now all believers were not rejoicing of this act of love opening up to the community====not having 'church service'=====. I think of the text in Luke 14 where Jesus was questioned about doing good (healing people) on the Sabbath. He didn't answer at first, but simply said, "It is lawful to?..." He checked the Pharisees and they didn't say anything not wanting to be trapped in their answers. There was at least two members of Oakwood Church who didn't get the word and arrived at the church for Sabbath School. They voiced how upset they were that it was canceled for a funeral and went away boiling. Are we about service or not?

In a nutshell, this is what I experienced: The viewing of the body was between 9-10. There were choirs from various SDA Churches, soloists, instrumentalist, duets that gave a continued musical without any introductions of the groups. I was fueled before the service even begun.

The one hour service was filled with hope and inspiration. Good music, and good words. The Academy Choir sang two numbers performing it as if they were in Madison Square Garden. A high school school and a college student sang "A Better Day" making it sound like a brand new song. I almost went up for an uncalled altar called after they were finished. It was powerful. The eulogy in it's purest since was a sermon. Pastor Newborne preached about Job and how God permitted bad things to happened YET he trust in God. I was more blessed by this service than a many services I attended in 2005. Present were the mayor of the city, two councilmen, superintendent of schools, principal of Lee high school, and many other dignitaries from the city and community; two TV news stations. All gather into an Adventist church on a Sabbath morning where nothing but hospitality and love was felt.

Oakwood opened their church home for the funeral and fed them after she was buried; the funeral home donated the casket and all that goes with that; the burial plot at a the most prestigious cemetery was also donated.

I'm glad that I experienced it and from all facial expression of the family of the deceased, they were overwhelmed by the Christian love received.

Kudos to the SDA Church.

Willie S. Parker

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Newest Global Vessels Video

Here's a copy of the latest Global Vessels Presentation.

This is a short version....with voice over. Many thanks to Jena Martin for all her hard work and patience with me on the script.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Last Word

Saw this post today....thought I'd share.

No One Can Have the Last Word on God
by Karen Armstrong (as posted to

In ancient India, the priests used to hold a contest called the Brahmodya to find a verbal formula that expressed the mystery of the Brahman, the ultimate reality. Each contestant would ask an enigmatic question, and his opponent answered in an equally elusive manner.

The match continued until one of the contestants was unable to respond and was reduced to silence ~ and in that moment of silence, the Brahman was present. It was only when the competitors understood that their words or concepts could never express the ultimate reality that they were able to apprehend the sacred.

The reality that we call God, Brahman, Nirvana or the sacred is transcendent. That is, it goes beyond our mundane experience. Nobody can have the last word on God. That should be the principle that underlies religious dialogue. Throughout history, Jews, Christians and Muslims have all insisted that the ideas we have about the divine can never measure up to the reality itself. The Greek Orthodox believed that every statement about the divine should have two qualities. It should be paradoxical, reminding us that the idea of God cannot fit neatly into a human system of thought; and it should be apophatic ~ it should reduce us to silence, in the same way as a great poem or piece of music. Sometimes at the end of a symphony, there is a beat of silence in the concert hall before applause starts. That is what every theological statement should do. In the modern West, we have lost sight of this apophatic vision, and imagine that our statements about God and the ultimate are accurate expressions of this transcendence, whereas in reality, they must point beyond the limitations of our human minds.

So when we are engaged in religious dialogue, we should remember that the realities we are addressing are truly transcendent. If we make our limited ideas about God absolute, we are creating an idol --a human expression of the divine that is raised to an inappropriately high level. The Qur’an calls this type of dogmatism zannah, self- indulgent guess work about matters that nobody can prove, one way or the other, but which make people quarrelsome and stupidly sectarian.

Worse, if we imprison ourselves in our dogmatic ideas, we are closing our minds to the divine. The Taoists used to say that it was nonsense to argue about religious truth, insisting aggressively that this could not mean that. What holds us back from an experience of God or the Sacred is our egotism. When we interject ourselves too much into our opinions, we are simply imprisoning ourselves in the ego we are supposed to transcend and making it impossible to have a truly transcendent experience.

Finally, here is a wise remark by Ibn al-Arabi, a 13th-century Muslim mystic and philosopher:

“Do not praise your own faith exclusively so that you disbelieve all the rest. If you do this, you will miss the truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omniscient, cannot be confined to any one creed, for he says: Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah. Everybody praises what he knows. His God is his own creature and in praising it, he praises himself, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance.”

Posted by Karen Armstrong on November 14, 2006 9:30 PM

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Campaign for REAL beauty

Caught this video today.... it speaks for itself. Wonder why our girls can't just accept the beauty God gave them? Remember, what you see in the media is completely unreal. If you are confused, go look in the mirror - right now. Now, that's gorgeous.

Skyline Drive 06

I finally got to Skyline drive to do a bit of leaf peeping with some friends. Reminder to self about that - when going somewhere with Adventists, make sure you pack your own chicken. Even tho I love a veggie dog, I'm feeling like on a Sunday with friends, there should be some fried chicken or fish or something else that you've killed to eat. Anyway, I digress. It was a lovely day spent with lovely people. Cold as a witches tit I tell you, but lovely in spite of the chill in the air. Seems like many people had the same idea we did - get out into nature with friends and EAT!!!!. Sit around a warm fire and/or take a hike (can you guess what I was doing?) ;-)

It was nice not to have to drive - but just be able to look out of a window and enjoy the scenery. Mark this on my calendar for an annual outing.

Pics can be found here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Microsoft Redesigns Ipod Packaging

This was too funny not to share. Personally, I've been saying that Google needs to takeover Microsoft - perhaps then, we'd see products that actually work well.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Well, another friend has fallen to membership in the 50+ club. Big shout outs and congrats go to our gal Donna for hitting the half century mark! AARP cards are right around the corner. Here's a recipie for a fun time. Take a great group of people, add a big buffet and sprinkle with jokes and giggles - mix very well with the cou-cou stick of love. I guarantee you'll be drunk with happiness.

Want photos? Click below for the album.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Girl Like Me Revisited

This 17 year old filmmaker was interviewed today on Good Morning America.

I'd posted the film before...but I think it was worth a revisit. If you haven't viewed it...please take a moment.

More About A Girl Like Me from Director Kiri Davis
For my high-school literature class I was constructing an anthology with a wide range of different stories that I believed reflected the black girl’s experience. For the different chapters, I conducted interviews with a variety of black girls in my high school, and a number of issues surfaced concerning the standards of beauty imposed on today’s black girls and how this affects their self-image. I thought this topic would make an interesting film and so when I was accepted into the Reel Works Teen Filmmaking program, I set out to explore these issues. I also decided to would reconduct the “doll test” initially conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark, which was used in the historic desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education. I thought that by including this experiment in my film, I would shed new light on how society affects black children today and how little has actually changed.

With help from my mentor, Shola Lynch, and thanks to the honesty and openness of the girls I interviewed, I was able to complete my first documentary in the fall of 2005. I learned that giving the girls an opportunity to talk about these issues and their experiences helped us all to look deeper and examine the many things in society that affect us and shape who we are.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Time Gem

Ever have one of those days that you just want to hold close - like little gem in time? Today was one of those for me. First of all, it was a beautiful day after much chill and rain during the past week. Today, it was clear and crisp and sunny...just warm enough to not need a jacket. I got up early, and having no food in the house, first hit the regular grocery store. Now, if you really know me - you'll know that I'm a total foodie. The culture of it, the taste of it, the variety of it, the preparation of it, the ingredients in it, the origins of those ingredients - I could go on and just excites me ;-). I left the grocery and hit the latino market with what I call the best kept secret in takoma park fish markets. Bought some red snapper and rockfish. Then to the caribbean market for some jerk season and mango achar. Now, I was in heaven. My fruit basket was filled with fresh plums and pineapple and young coconut. My fridge was happy. My stomach however, was still empty. I was already feeling kinda good about the day...but then it really just got better.

On a whim, with an idea from Janet - I called my mom and asked her if she would hold an impromptu cooking class. With fresh fish in hand (3 beautiful red snapper), I marched off to mom's to meet some friends. Mom held court in the kitchen, teaching us all how to make cou-cou and steamed fish. Now, cou-cou is a Barbardian thing. It turns corn meal into an art form and a test of good kitchen skills. It's a hearty, warm, feels like home kinda dish when prepared just right. We watched, and helped turn the meal. When done, with tired arms....we all sat around and ate the fruits of our....(well really, MOM's) labor. It was funny - and beautiful. Women ranging in age from my Mother - who is 81, thru the 50' and 40' somethings that were there to learn and absorb tradition from her.

What was really nice was the warmth in the room. The laughter, the friendship...I realized what a privilege it is to enjoy my mothers company, and have my best friends enjoy it as well. Everyone seemed to feel it. For a few hours there was nothing else in the world but good food, and loving fellowship. I'm thinking that's a glimspe of heaven there. No worries, just togetherness.

I'm richly blessed to have such wonderful women in my life. I only hope that I can contribute as much to their lives, as I feel they all contribute to mine. And I will always be eternally grateful for the time that i get to spend with my mom. This time is a gem - like a diamond - precious, rare and fleeting. I just had to take a moment to say "Thanks" and appreciate it for all of it's beauty.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Daily Walk Just to Listen - (taken from "This I Believe"

I love listening to NPR's series, "This I believe". For me, this one hit home - for the writer, it's her daily walk - for me, it's working out in the gym. It's funny what you can get in touch with at times when you unplug completely from the world around you.

A Daily Walk Just to Listen
by Susan Cosio

Courtesy of Susan Cosio
Susan Cosio is a chaplain at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. She also writes feature articles for The Davis Enterprise. Cosio's favorite places to walk are in the mountains or on the beach, as well as through a nearby bird sanctuary.

“I believe in a daily walk to listen because that is when I am close to God; that is when I find my way.”

All Things Considered, October 2, 2006 · Sometimes I feel like I have no real sense of direction. At 45, this is a little scary. I think my distraction is due to the variety of roles I play and my tendency to try to please others. Much of my day is spent responding to requests: "Mommy, will you..." "Susan, can you..." My world is full of spoken and unspoken expectations that I try to live up to as a parent, as a person, as a friend.

I believe I have to remove myself from the voices that barrage me in order to find my true compass. This includes a daily walk just to listen. The guiding light of my life is the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. In our hectic, noisy world, I have to slow down or withdraw in order to hear it. Prayer, I have discovered, is less about what I say and more about what I hear.

Time set apart with God is like a hike to a peak from the middle of a dense forest; it gives me perspective and some ability to see where I've been and where I am going.

Discerning God's voice is not so hard when I make time to listen closely. Sometimes I hear it as a sudden insight when I step back from a situation. Other times, it's a deep sense of my priorities or a conviction about something I should do or say. I often take a walk with a pencil and notepad in my pocket, and return with notes for a speech or piece of writing. Later, when someone tells me she was moved by the words I'd scribbled on that paper, I know my prompting came from God.

My pursuit of spiritual truth is not about religion as much as it is about relationship. It is not about intellectualizing God's commands, but about internalizing his truth within my heart as well as my head -- an understanding so deep and intimate that it affects not only my thinking, but my behavior as well. On my daily walks, I've recognized how to parent my children through difficult situations, been prompted to call a friend I hadn't heard from in a while, and felt compelled to reach out to strangers who soon became my friends.

I believe in a daily walk to listen because that is when I am close to God; that is when I find my way. I am most at peace when I tune out the voices of the world long enough to hear the still, small voice of God directing me. "Be still," Psalm 46 reminds me, "and know that I am God."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I don't know how you felt about the current tragedy at the Amish one room schoolhouse...but there is much discussion about what made a man (from the reports who would seem to be a good father and husband)go into a schoolroom of innocents and do what he did to them.

Since I'm in the middle of the book of Matthew - Jesus is going around casting out demons from people...the connection is easily made for me that this was not a "normal" spirit having a human experience but one of the "fallen third" coaching a spirit having a human experience. I'm starting to believe that acts like this are perpertrated upon especially folks like the Amish (who day by day work hard to follow Gods word in the way that they believe is right) this by the devil himself.

But on the other side, I am also convinced that God uses these events for his own purpose. Have you seen the Amish and English praying side by side? Do you realize that the Amish have already forgiven the murderer and his family? There is indeed a lesson there for all of us. Even the English are marveling at the Amish capacity for nonviolence and forgiveness. These are the values that Jesus taught - the ones that so many of us struggle with. One Amish fellow on the news said rather straightforwardly that "if we were to hold on to the anger and pain of this - where would we be in our realtionship with God? We trust that God will carry us thru this extermely difficult time". You know what? I absolutely believe him - and long for that kind of peace. That kind of Grace and Peace is what I believe Jesus offers.

So making any further comment about the man who did this, is irrelevant. He has probably sealed his own fate - indicating in his notes his hate for God. The best thing is though, that God will come out a winner even in this tragedy. The Amish and the English will grow closer/try to understand each faith better/and hopefully both draw closer to God.

My sympathies and prayers to the community and for the families of the children.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What happens when the spirits come

Today was a strange day. Strange in a spiritual sense. I started this morning the way I've been working on starting my days. Prayer, Listening to the bible (I'm listening to the audio new testament), and studying my sabbath school lesson. Everything was peaceful. I asked God for his presence in my day.

Then...I went to our health fair and sat down at a handwriting analysis table. The guy told me stuff that scared me a bit. I took notes. He was a little too accurate for my tastes. Then, cuz I was scurred I ran away. I came back to my office and told a couple of folks about my experience and how it kind of made me nervous. I also told a story about a "ouija" board experience I had when I was young that turned me away from ever knowingly messin around with stuff that I was taught was even remotely occultish or "supernaturaly" not of God. That handwriting thing felt a little like that.

So, after I share that stuff...what happens next is just weird. At least two people (one of whom wasn't even on the initial set of discussions), initiate conversations with me about spiritual matters. DEEP spiritual matters. One guy was a pagan who just wanted to tweak me...he intiated a conversation about man being made in the image of God and man being flawed therefore the image of God is flawed...etc., (I prayed when he started talking)...and my answer left him going back to his office to "think" about what I'd said. (I felt a sigh of relief that he was gone) The second person being a woman who really almost wanted to convince me that I totally create my own reality and that GOD in a outside-of-self-higher-power sort of way, doesnt really have anything to do with it. The conversation wandered down a path to her daughters' belief in ghosts and her experience with psychic's etc... I sat back and didn't argue with that one...I just felt like an attempt had been made to spiritually derail me for the day, and get me to wondering about a whole lot of stuff that is irrelevant to my personal relationship with God.

And it all started with a visit to the psy...opps I meant "handwriting analyst".

I feel like I must have said Beetlejuice three times.

Here's what I know that I know. There is only one Power for Good. We may all call that Power many things, Yahweh...Allah...God....but it is ultimate and in close touch with our lives. Sometimes that Power works within us to accomplish something, sometimes it works on our behalf completely outside of us to accomplish something, but I know for sure, that the Power I speak of is not me. Of myself, I am and having nothing. But with God....
all things are possible.

Today, my Christian construct holds fast - even when challenged by the "spirits" that came to visit. ;-) And I firmly believe that it's because I started my day tapped into the Power I believe loves and protects me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Family Life Day 2006

Welcome to Brinkow's family life celebration of salvation at the Naval Rec Center in Solomon's Island, MD. I didnt feel all that well, but enjoyed the breeze and the water. The day was a bit overcast, but everyone seemed to be having a great time enjoying the company and fellowship of friends and church family. Here are just a few of the folks that were there.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Daniel Beaty - Emergence-See

This clip was sent to me by a friend. Especially for the socially conscious and artistically minded - check this guy out. It's deeply moving - especially for anyone who grew up without a dad.

Daniel Beaty's website

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Silver Spring Jazz Festival 2006

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Today was the coolest. Ever had a day when it's simply wonderful to hang out with your own self? I did that today at the Silver Spring Jazz Festival. I spent my time shooting pics, enjoying the summer sun, and of course, people watching. This is a big festival weekend in the area. Rosslyn had a jazzfest today, and the black family reunion is going strong on the mall. Tommorow is Adams Morgan day in the district. I'm planning on going down there as well to see what I can see. Seems like one big last hurrah before the cold weather starts!

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I usually hate 'em - but this was a cool one. Believe it or not this was early in the day - after the sun went down, there was not an inch of free astroturf to be found. In the evening, folks were hanging out on every level of the parking garage - watching the show. Who knew Silver Spring, Maryland could be so hip! I remember when it was a sleepy litte town with a metro station and a diner. I sorta miss that diner too!

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Father and son enjoy the day

More folks just out chillin for the Jazzfest

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Cutest Kids

Just the cutest kids out at this festival!

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Yet another cutie-pie!

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Hey! Look who I saw - Kelly!

Bumped into my co-worker at the Jazzfest - she was there with her husband and mom...everyone looked like they were having a great time! It's always great to see folks you know outta the blue ain't it?
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Kelly's Mom!

Wow...looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree!. This was indeed a fun bunch. One guy with them walked by me about 10 times - each time looking at my T-shirt and sort of growling a hello by a deep growly voice. I know, you had to be there - but trust me, it was funny.

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Terrell Stafford

Marylands Own...

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Marcus Johnson Project

Burnin up the stage!

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Felix's Son Watches Daddy...

That's my daddy up there Jammin!

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Felix Contreras & Afro Bop Alliance

Felix Contreras and Afro Bop had a great set. This is Felix on the congas.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

She has a name - (the mask below)

Thanks to my good sister....(she knows who she is)....for this suggestion.


Gender: Feminine
Usage: Biblical
Other Scripts: עֲטָרָה (Hebrew)
Pronounced: AT-a-ra [key]
Means "crown" in Hebrew. She was a minor Old Testament character, the wife of Jerahmeel.

I chose this name for the reason it was suggested. The meanings of both names - Stephanie & Atarah are common. "Stephanie" comes from the Greek Stephanos which also means "crown" or "garland".

Monday, September 04, 2006

Latest Mask Acquisition

I say this like I'm some sort of bigup art collector. SO NOT the case. However, it is what I brought back from my latest trip to Barbados. Isn't she beautiful? She's completely handmade from bajan clay. I think she deserves a name. Email me or comment with suggestions!

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Back on the Wagon

Okay folks. Summer is officially over. I've traveled far and wide and my butt is showing every restaurant that I visited. I'm officially back on the health wagon - and this morning journaled my food (back on the ww website) for the first time in months.

Tommorow, the big gal goes back to work. Not just at my desk, but in the gym as well. At least for a while, I'm giving everyone PERMISSION to hold me accountable. I'm going thru the freezer today - and get this, THROWING OUT - my stash of Rita's. I kind of bought a Quart of custard a few weeks ago - and then got too busy to eat it. Good thing tho, now it's going to the dogs. The Bajan cheese is probably going to be a problem, cuz I'm going to have to eat it really slowly. It's too good to throw or give away for that matter. I'm going to check the fridge for more contraband before the trashman comes. Green tea will be my new snacking friend. It worked before (hydration and filling when you are hungry)so I'm going back to what I know works. Change what goes in, and work off whats already there - and results happen. I solicit any support that folks feel like sending my way. Withdrawal from the lush food life is always a bear in the inital stages, but hey, if you wanna be something different, you gotta do something different. Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Barbados Rocks

Okay, this is the funniest thing I've seen this week. It's basically how I feel about the place - even tho I didnt do the video.

Erin and Luke

Could I just say that these are two of the sweetest people ever to walk the earth?

My "niece" Erin and my "Brother in Law" - Luke

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Last Hurrah

There's a story here, but if I tell ya, I gotta kill ya. ;-)

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Red Snapper and Breadfruit

Look for this guy if it's grilled red snapper you want.

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Can we say YUM?

Fried Blue Marlin cooked over a "coal pot"

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Not to be missed

These women may not look friendly, but they serve the BEST FRIED MARLIN in Barbados. Be sure to bring your patience (for the long line) and an empty stomach before you see them.

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Oistins @ Night

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Last night in Bimshire


Friday night was my last night in Barbados. And after going to the beach and resting off....we got the thought in our heads that going to Oistins for dinner was a good idea. Well folks, lemme tell you. First off, for those of you who are reading this and are SDA - YES, we KNEW it was sabbath. But contrary as we are, we went anyway. Lawd ha mercy! If you see people! Wall to Wall and bare foolishness. We stood on line at the best fish fry stand (if you go, there are two women right by the roadside frying Blue Marlin (YUMMY) for at least an hour and a half before we even got to place our orders. I should emphasize that the wait is worth it. There are a ton of fish stalls - grilling, frying.....Marlin, Tuna, Dolphin (no, not flipper - but Mahi-Mahi), Flying Fish - and all the stalls have sides (Macaroni Pie, Breadfruit, Macaroni Salad, Coleslaw, and Chips (bajan word for "french fries"). But the line we went to stand on was definately the longest - and to boot - had the most locals. If you want to know where the good food is, look for the longest line without tourists. There's your hint.

Anyway, back to the people. There was much music, dancing and more making merry than anyone should really have on a friday night. I not only waited on line for the marlin, I went to get a few orders of grilled red snapper as well. Fish so fresh that it was on the grill looking surprised to be there. If you are a party animal - friday night's your night. If you need a touch more quiet (just a touch mind you) then go early on a saturday evening and sit and watch the action and the bad singing at the kareoke (sp?) booth. Believe me, its funny - especially after folks down there have had too many drinks.

Pictures of said evening to come as soon as I can get 'em posted.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bajan Art

Stopped in a potters shop's an example of his work. This sculpture was the most beautiful thing in the shop. Wonder what it costs? Approx $300.00 US.

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The Hell of Flying

Saw this article this morning on MSN, and since I'm flying, its apropo - so I figured I'd share.


Flying Blind
Airline security needs to be based on common sense, not policies that will turn citizens into inmates of their own countries
By Christopher Dickey

Updated: 10:44 a.m. ET Aug 29, 2006
Aug. 29, 2006 - Flying used to be about freedom. No matter where you intended to land, there was something magical about escaping to the heavens. Now, as we know, flying is more like going to prison, if not, indeed, to hell.

As it happens, I once spent a week interviewing inmates and staff at what was then the main “super-max” federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. It was the successor to Alcatraz, and the predecessor of the facility that opened in Florence, Colorado, in 1994. “Security” was its aim, its ethos, its excuse for everything. Life in Marion had so many grim limitations and restrictions that the worst of the worst criminals convicted in federal courts—spies, drug lords, racist murderers, gang leaders—actually would try to behave themselves in hopes they might someday get out of its peculiar purgatory, even though the greatest escape they could achieve was transfer to another federal pen.

The operative principle for prison security was that anything one inmate managed to make into a weapon would be taken away from everyone. Saran Wrap was a case in point. Sandwiches had come in it. But one of the inmates discovered a way to burn an aspirin tablet, generating enough heat to melt the wrap, harden it, and make a dagger, so no more cellophane on the sandwiches. Ditto bed springs. They could be cut, twisted and sharpened into weapons, so the beds were concrete slabs.

The cardboard backing on every legal pad at Marion was torn off because one prisoner managed to fashion it into a crude bomb filled with match heads, using bits of metal zipper as shrapnel. The most benign objects were, in the imagination of the inmates and the guards, potential deadly weapons. One by one, they were taken away until each convict’s life was made as barren as it could possibly be made.

"Big Brother is always watching," the warden at Marion told me. The basic goal was to keep prisoners safe from each other and alive: “pure security,” he called it. "Every day that goes by and no inmate or staff member is seriously hurt, we've accomplished our mission."

Doubtless those responsible for airline safety have a similarly fatalist, minimalist view, and not without cause. It’s been five years since September 11, 2001, when 19 men using box cutters on commercial flights changed the world forever. No one would ever want to see that again. But the draconian security measures taken after an alleged airline terror plot was revealed in Britain earlier this month have exposed the reductio ad absurdum of current thinking about what makes us safe, or not.

The last few days have seen a stunning series of exaggerated reactions to minor incidents. On Friday alone, half a dozen little security breaches or anonymous threats suddenly escalated into significant aircraft diversions or delays around the United States. Earlier last week, a United Airlines flight from London to Washington D.C. landed in Boston—accompanied by fighter jets—when a 59-year-old American woman named Catherine Mayo acted like a nut. She reportedly urinated outside the plane’s galley and allegedly mumbled something about Al Qaeda.

(Afterwards, it turned out Mayo has spent a lot of time traveling in Pakistan, ostensibly as a journalist. She wrote an article in 2003 for the English-language Daily Times there that blamed American psychiatrists for what she called the “manic depression” of the United States after 9/11. “This is a woman with very serious mental health issues,” Mayo’s public defender told the court in Boston during her initial hearing on Friday.)

And then there was Northwest Flight 042. When a dozen young Indian businessmen returning from a wedding boarded it in Amsterdam for the last leg of their flight home to Mumbai last week, they were in a decidedly rambunctious mood. (Although all were Muslim, it’s not clear how observant or abstemious they were.) They were trading seats, playing with their cell phones, allegedly refusing to turn them off, and some reportedly taunted the cabin crew by tossing the phones to each other.

American sky marshals on board got involved. About 10 minutes out from Amsterdam, the pilot wheeled around, escorted back to the ground by fighter jets (which seems to be standard operating procedure). The alleged troublemakers were hauled off, but Dutch officials then cleared them to fly home the next day.

The Indian press quickly declared the real “crime” of the businessmen was the color of their skin. "If brown equals terrorist, doesn't white equal racist?" suggested an editorial in the Hindustan Times. And knee-jerk prejudice might have played a role, but the essence of the problem lies in the fact that so much has come to seem sinister that overwhelmed security staff and paranoid passengers see threats everywhere they look: in a beard or a prayer, a cell phone or a soft drink.

By coincidence, a NEWSWEEK reporter was on the previous leg of Northwest Flight 042, which went from Minneapolis to Amsterdam that same day. Barbie Nadeau was returning home to Rome from vacation in the States with her husband and two little boys, ages 6 and 4. In Minnesota, the security obsession was less with skin tones and Motorolas than with run-of-the-mill liquids. Parents of little kids were watched especially closely, it seemed, because the screeners suspected they might be smuggling boxes of juice on board.

As Nadeau points out in an e-mail, her family’s two carry-on bags had enough electronics in them to wire a missile: “a laptop, a portable DVD player, a sound-blaster adapter and headphones, two cell phones, four MP3 players with headphones, a BlackBerry, a brick of AA batteries and two hand-held video games.” The security woman paid them no attention. “She dug around the electronics, searching for juice. About three other moms nearby were going through the same harassment…”

Nadeau concedes that the screeners and airline staff were just doing their job, “but it struck me that the security was so focused on finding and confiscating any liquid item, they were actually not focusing on any other potentially suspicious things anyone might be carrying. Case in point: nail clippers. I didn't realize they were in my bag, but they got by in Minneapolis, only to be confiscated in Amsterdam.”

Ah, yes, nail clippers. I have searched in vain for the example of nail clippers being used to hijack an airplane—on the face of it a pretty ludicrous proposition—but I guess someone could imagine they might be. Just as Saran Wrap can become a dagger. Or the cardboard back of a legal pad can be made into a bomb with zipper shrapnel.

We are walking in our socks through security checks, you realize, not because anybody ever succeeded in blowing up a plane with explosive shoes, but because one man tried and failed. Moms are surreptitiously smuggling juice boxes for their kids because the alleged plotters in Britain reportedly wanted to mix up explosives on board planes using different liquid components. But recent reporting on that case suggests they may not have known what they were doing, or how to do it.

Should we be concerned and careful? Yes. And we shouldn’t think there are easy answers. The much-vaunted Israeli model for airline security works at one single airport, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion, and with one small airline overseas, El Al, using highly educated screeners, many of whom are performing their national military service. Can the U.S. use the same psychological profiling techniques at hundreds of airports with screeners paid a little over the minimum wage and, perhaps, a high school diploma? Doubtful. Is better physical screening the answer? Bernard E. Harcourt, a professor at the University of Chicago who has written extensively on these issues suggested in an International Herald Tribune op-ed last week that the best approach would be “to eliminate most carry-ons and emulate high-security prisons…”

In fact, security systems will continue evolving, as will terrorist efforts to get around them. But the policies that develop in that process have to be based on a cool, common sense assessment of the real threats, not sensationalism and cover-your-ass bureaucracy. The failed dreams of would-be terrorists cannot be the measure of the threat against us. To achieve “pure security,” in the end, Americans would have to become inmates of their own country.



© 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Ever seen a Frangipani tree? Not to be missed. The flowers are beautiful!

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Just another view

From my beach chair......Divi southwinds at it's best. Good water, beautiful weather.
Today, we did the jet ski thing for about 30 minutes each. I took mine out and opened it up to full speed across a sea that was as calm as a sheet of glass. Went around the coastline to the lighthouse and the harbor..then brought it back up to Divi. Now again, that's livin. The salt spray in your face, the machine bucking against the's like riding a galloping horse - but very wet. Then just to sit still in the ocean by yourself and look around - just glad for the peace that this kind of place brings.....

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Best Friends

Couldn't get a better friend on earth than this. I wish everyone had as much fun with their mom as I do!

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