Friday, January 29, 2010

Modern Art

I love good art.

So when I woke up this morning and saw the weather radar, I just had to have it... framed and hung on my wall!

I call this one, "Time for hot cocoa and those tiny, little marshmallows!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Dat?!?!

The New Orleans SAINTS are going to


Don't want to hear any whining about "sudden death overtime".
Of course it's not fair... but then,
you had four quarters to put us away...
and you couldn't!

See you in Miami, Peyton!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update on Haiti

In the early morning on October 1, 1987, an earthquake shook Southern California. Centered in Whittier (just 20 minutes away from where I was sleeping), it registered 5.9 on the Richter Scale. I rolled out of bed, looking for cover from an unknown assailant, only to realize there was no place to hide. The whole earth was moving beneath me. It was unnerving, to say the least.

Three days later, as I was serving lunch in the school cafeteria (on the ground level of a four-story building), an aftershock of 5.6 hit. Again, I felt helpless, finding no place to hide in the “modern” building of concrete and glass.

The aftershocks continued for weeks, growing smaller with each wave. I decided back then that I don’t like earthquakes. At least you can see a tornado or hurricane coming, but with earthquakes there is no warning.

Only three deaths were caused by the Whittier Narrows quake; five other death were related to it. We suffered only glass breakage at my church, and the collapse of a cinderblock retaining wall on the south end of the parking lot – which fell over onto the new sprinkler system I had just installed.

In short, we were fortunate. California knows about earthquakes. Their strict building codes make that plain.

In Haiti, an aftershock registered 5.9 yesterday morning, the magnitude of the original Whittier Narrows quake. Haiti doesn’t have the strict California building codes. Most citizens consider themselves lucky enough to simply have a make-shift roof over their heads.

The people of Haiti are not yet out of danger. The death toll from the original quake has surpassed 200,000. Some 1.5 million people are now homeless. Communications, commerce and government have all been severely disrupted.

Please continue to make donations to UMCOR or the American Red Cross for relief efforts in Haiti. I know a lot of other people are asking for donations, but these two are legit and accountable.


The $10 donation via text message is legit; your cellular phone company may (or may not) charge you for the text, but the ARC gets the full donation. It is NOT true that your phone company will donate $.25 for each time you forward the text.


You have undoubtedly heard by now about Rev. Pat Robertson’s comments concerning the earthquake that struck Haiti. If not, here is the transcript of his ignorant pronouncement on the air at CBN:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti ... they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince. True story."

Remember, this is the guy who also said: "Many people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals -- the two things seem to go together." 

And this: "The feminist agenda encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy captialism and become lesbians."

And this one: "I don't think I'd be waving those [gay pride] flags in God's face if I was [Orlando, Florida]. It will bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."

For a stinging rebuke of Pat Robertson, check out my friend’s blog: "Hey Pat: Just Shut Up".

Just so you’ll know, the “pact with the devil” is an urban legend. The alleged pact was France’s way of explaining how they lost the colony during the slave revolts of the 1790s. Supposedly one of the revolution’s leaders sacrificed a pig in a voodoo ceremony and made a contract with Ptewo, a Haitian voodoo spirit. Supposedly someone found a pig… you know how it goes.

The real truth, Pat, is that the people of Haiti are Christian, mostly Roman Catholic. Yes, voodoo is widely practiced, but that is not the same as Satanism. Get your facts right!

But Pat’s not the only one being an ass right now. Rush Limbaugh and others on the radical right are blaming the earthquake on President Obama, and are cautioning people that helping the Haitian people plays right into his socialist agenda for America.

Pu-leeeez! You guys need to give it a rest for a few days. Let’s help the people of Haiti first, then you can get back to your pissing contest.


The criticism of our aid to Haiti is not just coming from Americans. In an effort to facilitate relief efforts on the island, the U.S. has stepped up, committing thousands of soldiers on the ground, as well as helicopters to bring in much needed supplies, and hospital ships that can accommodate 1,000 patients at a time. But this military mobilization led Alain Joyandet, who ironically holds the title of France’s “international cooperation minister”, to accuse the U.S. of trying to “occupy” Haiti.

The real irony of his statement is that France “occupied” the island nation for centuries, much to the detriment of the people of Haiti.


We’re all trying to determine how best we can assist in the relief efforts. After much prayer, Mark Driscoll, pastor of the mega-church Mars Hill in West Seattle, determined they would get involved – by sending “a small film-making crew and a Pulitzer Prize finalist photographer”, along with 1,000 pounds of relief supplies.

Here’s my problem with this: When “Planet Earth” first came on the Discovery Channel, Karen and I watched with great interest. The high-definition images were beautiful and the stories captivating. We watched faithfully until the episode in which they filmed a mother polar bear struggling to find food. After a long, unsuccessful journey, and finally unable to isolate and kill a baby walrus, the bear lumbered away, found a depression in the snow and laid down. The narrator intoned, “This one will probably die of starvation.”

Are you kidding me?!?

With a full camera crew standing around watching, you’re going to let this bear die? Hell, Hollywood can’t even make a movie today without assuring the ASPCA that “no animals were harmed in the making of this film.” Suddenly these guys are quoting The Prime Directive? With tears welling up in my eyes, I found myself shouting, “Give her your ham-n-cheez hoagie, you fat slob!”

So now, as I hear that Mars Hill is sending a camera crew to Haiti, I wonder what they will do when they encounter the thousands of people injured and homeless, the orphans living in the streets, the poor who don’t have access to food and clean water. Will we hear the “Pulitzer Prize finalist photographer” announce, “This one will probably die of starvation…”?


I don’t need prize-winning photographs to convince me of the need. And I don’t want to get in the way of the many capable organizations and trained people who are trying to stabilize the situation. So I will continue to pray for the people of Haiti, and to support UMCOR and the American Red Cross -- from home. And when the dust settles, I’ll be looking for a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission team to join, to help rebuild homes, lives, a country.

I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Help Haiti

On January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake violently shook the island nation of Haiti, wreaking death and destruction. The quake was centered near the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and estimates of the number of those killed runs into the hundreds of thousands.

Among those killed in the earthquake was Rev. Sam Dixon, the leader of our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), who was in Port-au-Prince meeting with other relief agencies at the time of the quake. Rev. Dixon died from injuries after being buried in the rubble of his collapsed hotel.

Also among the dead is Jean Arnwine, a member of a mission team from Highland Park UMC in Dallas, who was working at the Haiti Eye Clinic.

The United Methodist Church has already sprung into action through UMCOR. As of January 17, more than one million dollars had been raised for relief work in Haiti. If you would like to contribute, you can make a donation through any local United Methodist Church, designated for “UMCOR: Haiti”, or directly to UMCOR (See link below). One hundred percent of your donation will go to relief work in Haiti because administrative costs are paid by UM apportionments.

UMCOR is also requesting the donation of “Health Kits”. See link below for details.

Haiti is a nation with a checkered history. Located on the western end of the Caribbean island of Hispanola, Christopher Columbus claimed the island for Spain on December 5, 1492. Since that time, it has been fought over by France, Spain and the United States. The slave trade came to Haiti in the early 1500s; the island also became a haven for pirates.

In the late 1700s a slave rebellion brought self-rule to the country, but not peace. France and Spain continued to fight for control; the U.S. occupied the island from 1915-1934 and has intervened in island politics on several occasions.

In more recent history, Haiti was ruled by dictators like Dr. Francios “Papa Doc” Duvalier (1957-1971), who was succeeded by his more ruthless son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (1971-1986). In 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president, but was removed by a coup d’ etat. Aristide was re-elected in 2000, but was again removed by force. The current president, Rene Preval, was elected in 2006, but questions remain about the fairness of that election.

Our involvement in helping the people of Haiti recover from the recent devastating earthquake is not about politics, but about the call of Christ to help those in need. Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. The average worker earns just $2 per day.

Please be generous.

For updates about the recover efforts in Haiti and information about The United Methodist Church’s involvement, go to...

Also consider this opportunity, from Margaritaville...

(*images courtesy of Wikipedia)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another Airline Rant

I read in the news this week that Delta / Northwest is going to raise their fees on luggage yet again.

Apparently now that they are the world’s largest airline, they think they can do whatever they damn well please!

I am getting sick and tired of the way airlines are treating customers these days. I started flying almost 30 years ago. The summer I graduated from high school I was invited to an awards ceremony in Dallas, all expenses paid. Even on a simple flight from Dallas to Paducah, I had to make a connection. When I arrived at the connecting point, being new to this whole thing, I took my ticket to the first counter I found. The clerk looked at the ticket, frowned for a moment, then said, “I guess we can do that.”

“What?” I asked.

The agent explained that the ticket was for another airline. (Boy, was I embarrassed!) But, she added, her plane was also going to Paducah – by way of Evansville – and if I didn’t mind the extra leg, I would arrive home an hour earlier.

So I went.

Unfortunately, my luggage remained on the original flight and I had to wait in the Paducah airport for it to arrive.

But back then there was not an extra charge for luggage.

Since choosing a seminary in California and marrying a California Girl, I have since made trips to the Golden State two or three times a year. And each year, the airline makes it a little more difficult.

First they enacted a weight limit – individual bags could not weigh more than 50 pounds. Now it is down to 40 pounds… which is a problem since my suitcase alone weighs 20 pounds!

As ticket prices escalated, the perks went away. No more peanuts with the complimentary soft drink on board. Then they did away with the meal. Then they brought back the meal if you wanted to pay $5 for it, which is now $6 for a “snack pack”.

Then they started charging for luggage. This started in 2008 as the price of oil skyrocketed. Most airlines started charging for luggage when oil hit $147 per barrel. Delta / Northwest eased into a fee of $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second… each way. And if your bag weighed more than the prescribed 40 pounds, there was an addition $25 fee.

Now they are raising the price to $23 for the first back and $32 for the second. Plus, if you don’t “check in” your luggage online before you arrive at the airport, there is an additional $2-3 fee.

The odd thing is, oil prices dropped, now resting around $82 per barrel.

So what’s the excuse now, Delta?

Wait. Let me guess: “We’re the largest airline in the world and we can do whatever we damn well please!”

That’s what I thought.

I haven’t checked yet, but as much as I dislike the US Postal Service, I could probably mail 40 pounds of clothing cheaper.


To make the flying experience even worse, there is the occasional idiot – like the man last week on a flight from Oregon to Hawaii. He got mad that the flight attendant wouldn’t let him keep his carry-on bag at his feet, so he wrote an angry note, mentioning things like, “What if the plane split in half and plunged into the ocean?” and other such “humorous” stuff. The flight attendant didn’t think it was funny. She notified the pilot and the plane returned to the Oregon airport, inconveniencing hundreds of other fliers. (The joker is in court now trying to laugh his way out of jail time.)

Or the guy this week who boarded a plane at Milwaukee. When he took down his carry-on to retrieve something he needed, he discovered he had forgotten to take the shotgun shells out of it before leaving home. Apparently the TSA officer missed the shells. Yet, rather than quietly putting the bag away, the man called the flight attendant, who notified the pilot, who turned the plane around and returned to Milwaukee… again, inconveniencing hundreds of fliers. (The man was commended for his honesty -- Are you kiddin' me? -- and a TSA agent lost his job.)

Add all this to the ever-rising ticket prices and the virtual strip-serach in the name of national security and it’s enough to make me want to seek other means of transportation. But how does one cover two thousand miles (not to mention crossing oceans) in just a matter of hours? If I tried to drive to L.A. it would take 2 ½ days of hellbent driving… after which I would be too dragged out to enjoy my vacation.

So, like a good soldier, I put up with it…

“Thank you sir, may I have another.”


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hard Times...

You know times are tough when...

the zebras at your local zoo are really just donkeys painted with black stripes!

Yes, officials at a small zoo in Gaza painted a couple white donkeys, using masking tape, women's hair dye, and a paint brush!

'Cause, y'know, real zebras are, like, expensive and rare!

Hard times!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


“So, Dave, tell us about that gorgeous sunset and how you happened to snap that photo?”

Thanks, I’m glad you asked.

Karen and I flew off to California for the week after Christmas. Since little happens in the church between December 25th and January 1st, it’s a perfect time to get away to warmer weather and to visit family.

Unfortunately, the “warmer” weather only turned out to be low-to-mid 60s, but that was warmer than the unusually frigid temps in Memphis right now!

This time, the primary reason for the trip was to celebrate Karen’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll post a video clip later of the happy couple dancing.

After the party, the whole family went to the Lawrence Welk Resort for a few days of rest and relaxation.

The resort was beautiful, but imagine my disappointment that we didn’t see even the first bubble!

“And a one, and a two…”

While there, we crossed the highway to attend a wine tasting at a local vineyard, Belle Marie Winery & Chateau Dragoo.

They only sell their product at the vineyard, so don’t look for it around here. Just as well. Their champagne was very good, but the wine wasn’t all that great. I would probably drink (most of) it if it was served to me by a friend, but I wouldn’t ask for it by name. The event itself though was fun and informative.

As they say, all good things must come to an end, and we had to return to Orange County on New Year’s Eve.

We stayed up late and drank a lot… I mean, a lot! As Jimmy Buffett sings, looking back at 2009, "We've got a lot to drink about!" 

Then we got up early on New Year's Day to watch the Rose Parade on television, a family tradition.

By the next morning, we were standing in a long line at LAX, waiting for our flight home.

Despite confirming our flight, printing our boarding pass and pre-paying for our luggage via the internet, we still stood in a security check line for more than 45 minutes.

In case you have been hiding / living under a rock: On Christmas day, a terrorist attempted to blow up a Northwest/Delta jet. Since then, security at LAX has been heightened, so we all had to stand in line OUTSIDE the terminal until we cleared through the security screening.

I am still predicting the day when everyone traveling by air will have to wear a form-fitting body suit and can only carry a small, airlines-issued canister for personal items.

Won’t that be a sight!

Okay, it worked for Jane Fonda back in 1968, but look around you…

Now you get it?

I’m back at work now, so “Banana Winds” will continue with its usual variety of nonsense.

I mean, what other blog site would work a picture of both Lawrence Welk AND Barbarella into the same post?

Again, here’s wishing you a Very Happy 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back from Vacation

I'm back from Christmas vacation, but don't have time to write today... catching up after nine days away! So I'll just post this pic as a teaser of good things yet to come!

That was sunset on January 1, 2010!

I hope your New Year started out as beautifully!