Monday, February 27, 2006

Will the real Brad Carlson please stand up.

With a nice Nordic name like Brad Carlson, I figure I have several namesakes in the state of Minnesota. Maybe even a few in the Twin Cities. But in my neighborhood? You’d be surprised.

First, I’d like to go back about 12 years. I was making one of my bi-annual visits to my Dentist. As I arrived for my routine cleaning, I was told by the hygienist “This isn’t as bad you may have heard.” I thought that was a rather odd statement. I responded in that mode by saying, “Ah, well I’ve had this done twice a year for the past several years now.” Looking somewhat puzzled, the hygienist pulled my file and asked if I were the Brad Carlson of New Brighton who is in for a root canal. By that time, all the blood probably drained from my face. Yes, I am Brad Carlson. And, yes, I lived in New Brighton at the time. But a ROOT CANAL???!!! After much rehashing (and a borderline plea for my life) it seemed there was another Brad Carlson of New Brighton who went to the same dentist. I guess I should be glad that information was verified before the Novocain was administered.

Fast forward to today. I was chatting earlier today with my dear friend Greg Bittner. I asked if he had a nice weekend, when I sensed an awkward tone in his voice. As it turns out, Greg’s wife threw a surprise birthday party for him on Friday. I was a bit puzzled since I knew his birthday was not until early March. I guess that is what made it such a surprise. Anyhow, the reason for the tone of Greg’s voice was due to the fact my wife and I never RSVP’d to the party. There was indeed a good reason: We never received an invitation. As it turns out, in trying to keep the surprise, Greg’s wife didn’t ask him where he kept his online address book. Instead, she looked up Brad Carlson’s home address on the internet. Well, she sent the invite to Brad Carlson in the northern suburb where my wife & I reside. However, upon further review, it went to the Brad Carlson who has an address which is two blocks from our home! Can you believe that?

I guess my next logical question would be did that Brad Carlson show up?

Oh, well. The good news and bad news about being Brad Carlson is I avoid a root canal but miss a great party.

Skier's brashness didn't bode well.

14:55, 14:56…

This was supposed to be a story for the ages. Alpine skier Bode Miller, a young man who grew up in a New Hampshire backwoods cabin with no plumbing or electricity, would soon see Olympic glory. “Golden Boy Bode Miller” was the title of a story done on “60 Minutes” last month, no doubt in anticipation of his imminent success.

14:57, 14:58…

The 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy held their closing ceremonies on Sunday.

How did Bode do? Five events, ZERO medals. In fact, he didn’t finish higher than fifth in any race.

14:59, 15:00.


What you just experienced was the completion of Bode Miller’s fifteen minutes of fame.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Remembering Darren McGavin.

Darren McGavin
Actor Darren McGavin passed away this weekend at the age of 83.

The veteran of stage, screen and television is best known as the supernatural investigator in TV’s “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” and had a recurring role on “Murphy Brown” as Candice Bergen’s father. He played a bookie in “The Natural,” and was a drug dealer opposite Frank Sinatra in “The Man With the Golden Arm.”

However, it was his performance as Ralphie Parker’s Dad (aka The Old Man) in the 1983 film “A Christmas Story” which will forever be etched in my mind.

Who could forget the scene of the delivery of the big wooden box that read “FRAGILE?” Upon seeing this, McGavin’s character read it: “Frah-JEE-Lay ... It must be Italian!”

What followed was the actual opening of the big crate. You remember the big “Leg Lamp” emerging from the box, with “The Old Man’s” delighted reaction? One of many scenes in that movie which will live on in cinematic lore!
McGavin is survived by four children -- York, Megan, Bridget and Bogart -- from his first marriage to Melanie York McGavin.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hey Whitey, where's your hat?

What is it about Bill Clinton and Australian golf?

In 1997, Clinton tore a tendon in his knee after a tumble at Aussie golfer Greg Norman’s home.

Then earlier this week he was snubbed when attempting to squeeze in a round at Medway Golf Club in Australia.

My favorite part of the story is the reaction of a couple of club members.

"We can't deprive the paying members of their golf, even for an ex-president," said 62-year-old member Wendy Alley. "But it would have been a buzz for the ladies. There's no Monica Lewinsky here -- we're better."

Ms Alley's regular golf partner, Lorraine Bramley, agreed: "We would have played with him -- golf, that is."

I’m sorry. I have this mental picture of Clinton emulating the Bill Murray role in “Caddyshack.” You know the scene. Within the first 5-10 minutes of the movie where Murray’s character is making perverted statements about the ladies at the green while moving the ball washer up and down.

The resemblance is uncanny!

Friday, February 24, 2006

You're not in Kansas anymore.......SO GO BACK THERE.

The Star Tribune reported a group from Topeka, KS protesting outside the funeral service of Cpl. Andrew Kemple in Anoka yesterday. Cpl. Kemple was killed February 12 while serving in Iraq.

On her way into the church where the funeral was to be held for her 23-year-old son Thursday morning, Deirdre Ostlund approached six men and women waving signs against gays and America and told them in a cold fury: "I'm Andrew's mother, and I want you to know you are truly hateful people."

As Ostlund turned away, Shirley Phelps-Roper taunted her: "Adulterer! You can't admit you sent your own child to hell! If she does not heed this warning, she will look up from hell with him."

Her small group continued to sing "God hates America."

The six are members of a church in Topeka, Kan., that espouses the belief that God is killing American soldiers because they fought for a country that tolerates homosexuality.

As a Christian, I know God condemns homosexuality, according to His Word. However, I also know God loves us all equally, in spite of our individual sins. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But why is it that these kooks from Kansas are targeting homosexuality as the only sin which would cause God’s wrath here? Is homosexuality the only sin that has ever existed?

I would venture to say that if someone violates one of the Ten Commandments, that would certainly constitute sin. One of the Ten Commandments states “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Until I was about 9-years old, I honestly thought “Jesus Christ” was a cuss word. That is no exaggeration! I am certain even to this day that some Americans still use the name of Christ in vain. So if we push the logic of the “Kansas six”, God could be killing American soldiers because they fought for a country that tolerates foul language.

But the real heart of the matter is God will not carry out his judgment until the very end. He loves us all so much that it is His sincere desire that none of us perish, that we all may come to know Him. So to suggest that God is killing U.S. soldiers because of the country they serve is not only despicable but complete rubbish.

Again, check out a couple of the money quotes from Phelps-Roper and her gang:

"God hates America."

“God hates gays, their enablers and so therefore God hates the U.S. military."

You would think those who say they know what God “hates” would have consulted his Word. I think they missed several passages of scripture, namely 1 John 4:11-21:

11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

I don’t know what God the “Kansas six” may serve. The only God I know is the one who’s great and whose mercy endures forever!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Life's difficulties: How do you react?

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
-Charles Swindoll

Eternal optimists.

I see them as some of the most inspiring and uplifting people.

They’ll tell you things like “The glass is half-full, not half-empty.” Or “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

If going through a struggle in life, they’ll grin and bear it. They might even tell you “This too shall pass.”

They look for the light at the end of the tunnel, the diamond in the rough.

They accept the fact that the bigger the rose, the harder the thorn.

If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.

All this rhetoric sounds nice. But when these so-called eternal optimists are in crisis mode, do their actions really speak louder than their words?

I recall a story I read in the Star Tribune about six years ago. Columnist Doug Grow interviewed Dave & Alicia Jacobsen, a couple who was in the process of building their dream home.

The Jacobsens had purchased a plot of land where construction would begin on their palatial estate. The hole had been dug and the foundation had been formed when the Jacobsens received a phone call one day. This call was placed by someone claiming to own the land the Jacobsens were building on. Yes, the Jacobsens were sold a piece of land. But they were shown the wrong 10-acre lot from what they actually purchased. This was a mistake clearly made by their realty company. However, the company would not assume the costs of reversing what construction had been done on someone else’s land.

The Jacobsens looked to be saddled with the expense of filling the hole. Then they had to begin the construction process all over again on the piece of land they were actually sold. As it happened, building of their home would be delayed while the attorneys battled it out.

Dave’s reaction? “I guess I should feel lucky we didn't get the whole house built before we found out we were on the wrong land.”

How about Argentine golfer Robert De Vicenzo?

After winning a golf tournament, he walked back to the clubhouse, no doubt to relish his accomplishment.

Afterwards, he was met in the near vacant parking lot by a young lady who seemed distraught. She appealed to De Vicenzo for help, as she was out of a job, her child was severely ill and she was unable to afford the pending medical bills. The heartbroken golfer signed over his tournament-winning check to the woman in hopes it could somewhat alleviate her painful dilemma.

After hearing what De Vicenzo had done, a tournament official approached him a week later for verification of the story. The golfer confirmed that he indeed helped the distressed woman in her time of need by signing over his prize money. The exasperated official informed Robert that his contribution was in vain. The woman who had appealed to his sympathies did not even have children. Yes, it appeared Robert De Vicenzo was the victim of a scam.

Upon hearing this stunning turn of events, De Vicenzo asked, “You mean there’s not a sick baby at all?”

“That’s right”, said the tourney official.

Robert’s reaction? “You have just given me the best news I’ve heard all year long!”

These are just two great examples of optimism trumping the negative aura that accompanies life’s injustices.

I get the feeling that the Jacobsens and Robert De Vicenzo somehow knew that everything would turn out fine.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
-Galatians 6:9

Sunday, February 19, 2006

MSM: The leader in "whine" production.

Oh, boo hoo.

Apparently there are members of the mainstream media (MSM) who are all in a twist over their sullied reputation.

I’m sure it has nothing to do with, say, the petulant whining over not being told of Vice President Dick Cheney’s ACCIDENTAL shooting of friend Harry Whittington during a hunting excursion.

From everything I could stand to watch, I thought Jack Cafferty on CNN’s “The Situation Room” offered the most childish reaction:

“It didn't exactly represent a profile in courage for the Vice President to wander over there to the F-word network for a sit-down with Brit Hume. I mean, that's a little like Bonnie interviewing Clyde, ain't it?”

The F-word network would be the Fox News Channel. I thought the role of the media was to accurately present the perspective of the main personality in a story, in this case Vice-President Cheney. So I would disagree with Cafferty that it wasn’t courageous for the VP to sit down with Brit Hume at Fox. After all, Cheney was in a venue where he had access to the most viewers (A little bitter over trailing Fox in the ratings, Jack?). Besides, Hume did not exactly toss Cheney “softball” questions.

As reported on Drudge today, the MSM plans yet another week of exhaustive coverage over that terrible ACCIDENT that took place last weekend on a Texas ranch. Also, individual members of the MSM feel they are the victims here.

On CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES, WASHINGTON POST reporter Dana Milbank fretted that the White House is exploiting the public's growing disdain for the mainstream media. "Of course they succeed,” Milbank said of Bush aides. “The press always looks awful. They will once again make us look awful.”

No, Dana. You showing up on a TV news show wearing hunting apparel (see above) makes you look awful. All you MSM folks were outraged by not knowing of this ACCIDENTAL shooting immediately but then you proceed to turn it into some sort of childish game.

CNN's Candy Crowley added: "The perception is that we're whining."

As Dan Rather, the beacon of journalistic integrity, once said: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck….”

White House correspondent Bill Plante of CBS said: "The vice president and the White House have both used the constant press coverage of this story as a wedge,” he told RELIABLE SOURCES host Howard Kurtz. “It plays to the prejudices of the people who are predisposed not to like us, and it's one way to distract attention from what happened.”

You MSM people have painted the Bush administration as secretive and dishonest. So why would you give a flip what the VP and the White House may have done with the “constant press coverage?” Do you think people may not like you because of, oh, CONSTANT PRESS COVERAGE of relative non-stories?

You know what I would have loved to hear? VP Cheney saying something to the effect of “This is a private matter. It will be dealt with privately amongst my family.”

I seem to recall a certain White House incident seven years ago which was glossed over after that explanation was given.

Love and Respect.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife respect her husband.
-Ephesians 5:33

My wife & I were privileged to be able to attend the “Love & Respect Conference” this past weekend at our home church, Emmanuel Christian Center. This is a weekend seminar which was started in 1999 by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and his wife Sarah.

I can honestly tell you it was the most powerful venue on relationships that my wife and I have attended in our 5 ½ years of marriage.

I found it enriching, enlightening and entertaining.

I’m going to spare the dramatics and tell you that my wife and I were not on the verge of divorce, with this seminar bringing us back from the brink. I have always felt we have had a great marriage. However, as this week’s saying on our church marquee indicates: “God can promise a safe landing, not a smooth flight.” Married life can entail a fair amount of “craziness.” What this conference was intended to do is to help couples recognize a thing called “The Crazy Cycle”, and how to get out of it sooner rather than later. To paraphrase Ephesians 5:33, women need love, men need respect. “The Crazy Cycle” is when a woman without love reacts to her husband without respect. The husband, without respect, reacts to his wife without love.

Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love. Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love. And so on.

I am certain I could not accurately convey the everlasting impact left on my wife and I after this past weekend. That would be the equivalent of trying to explain the beauty of a rainbow to someone who has been blind from birth.

Again, this isn’t a conference designed exclusively for those who are having marital troubles. There are also practical applications which can also be used to solidify already thriving unions.

With the divorce rate in this country over 50%, many people would surmise that we have a “marriage crisis.” What this past weekend’s conference crystallized for me was that we don’t have a marriage crisis but a “spiritual crisis.” If married couples who have difficulties were to approach their marriage based on the spirituality aspect that has always been intended (i.e. as stated in Ephesians 5:33), where would we be today?

Given the continued decay and attack on traditional marriage in this country, the “Love and Respect” message could not be more well-timed.

My sincere thanks to Dr. Emerson & Sarah Eggerichs for dedicating their lives’ work to providing valuable insight into such a concept as “Love and Respect” in a marriage. My wife and I were able to concur that you are truly making a difference in the lives of married couples across this great country.


Friday, February 17, 2006

O Father where art thou?

Concerning my Father, I often wonder whether he feels blood really is thicker than water. Dad has one of the most explosive tempers I have ever known a man to possess. Whether it’s arguing his liberal perspective on politics or the fact his San Francisco 49ers are the model NFL franchise, he is very passionate about his beliefs. So passionate that a small vein bulges out of his forehead in anger if one dares take exception to his views. It is because of this vitriol that I always attempt to keep the best peace.

When having a conversation with Dad I often strategically go over in my mind how I am going to say something. With any word in a sentence Dad can take it and go off on an angry tangent. For example, my wife was mentioning to him how I was attempting to break into the radio biz. She spoke of possible broadcasting opportunities arising at Twin Cities talk station AM 1500 KSTP.

The text of the conversation went something like this:

My Wife: Well, there may be opportunities for Brad at KSTP. As of the 1st of the year, Rush Limbaugh will be moved…..

Dad (interrupting): Oh, that @?!*/& Rush Limbaugh! This whole country is divided into red states and blue states because of him.

The context of that conversation was not intended to be about Rush. However, Dad chose to make it so.

I thought that since my Father lives in a state (California) that is 2,000 miles away, I would hope for any chats we have to be somewhat civil, maybe even loving. After all, since his divorce from Mom, my Dad has been living on the left coast for over 32 years now. My younger brother and I saw him only a handful of times in the first four years after his relocation. That would have put me at eight years old. I would not see him again until I was sixteen, literally half my life later! I would hope that he would cherish every moment of our time together, given the long separation. Instead, he has spent the better part of the last 20 years being consumed in things he finds divisive.

Gee, I had this silly notion that a Father would want to take an interest in his kid’s life, especially living so far away.

Instead, I get the joy of hearing things like:

This country is going to hell in a hand-basket.

The Republicans are a bunch of @?!*/& crooks.

Can you believe those gas prices?

The government is stealing my retirement.

But the coup de grace of absurdity has to be this statement uttered by my dear ol’ Dad in 2003:

I use to work with a guy whose brother was once in the CIA. Anyhow, this former CIA worker says the Bush administration could capture Osama Bin Laden anytime now but they want to wait until it's closer to the election.

He’ll swallow second-hand tripe from an unnamed source, especially if it’s what he wants to hear.

But when official IRS statistics indicate that the top 50% of the wealthiest US citizens pay over 96% of all income taxes?

Oh, that’s bull----!!!

Are you beginning to feel my pain?

By the way, President Bush did not have an easy victory in 2004. Why did he never show the country that he had captured Bin Laden? That way Bush wouldn’t have had to sweat out such a close election.

But, I digress.

Hey Dad. Don’t you want to know how my wife & I are doing?

How about my business life?

My job?

Our prospects for kids?

I guess I am merely another sounding board for your frustrations in life. I figured you would not want to waste another day since your near-fatal heart attack in September 2004.

I was certain that the days of petty arguments were long gone. I was sure that the fits of rage towards inane subjects would cease to exist.

As you proved last night, I was sadly mistaken.

When you called me, we started out with a cordial chat about family, weather, etc.

So far, so good.

Then the subject magically turned to quail hunting. Ah, I could see where this was going. VP Cheney accidentally shoots a lawyer and his approval rating goes up. Funny stuff.

But the next 10 minutes or so takes a mysterious turn for the worse. You asked how I liked the Super Bowl. Since it was yet another contest without my Minnesota Vikings, I was pretty indifferent as to who would win. But you went on to express your outrage over how the Pittsburgh Steelers were given an advantage thanks to poor officiating. I didn’t agree, and said as much. I had a vague suspicion this would send you into a rage. However, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. I figure your recent two-month excursion to Hawaii would have mellowed you out a little bit.

That proved to be too optimistic.

You started ranting and raving about the Seattle Seahawks getting screwed, sounding as if it were a crime on par with violating National Security. You also stated how nothing infuriates you more than poor officiating in a football game. I told you how I can’t get that worked up about it. It was at that time you reminded me of a Christmas at your home where I went ballistic over a Minnesota Vikings game --- EIGHT YEARS AGO! Sorry, Dad. I’ve moved on. I have been happily married for over five years now and I’ve realized a new perspective: SPORTS AREN’T WORTH GETTING THAT WORKED UP OVER! But if you want to justify your behavior by pointing out the shortcomings of others, be my guest.

Like a petulant ten year-old you proceeded to say “The Pittsburgh Steelers suck!” three times…..and then hung up on me.

Surely, that’s now how it happened. Your cell phone must have went dead; got a bad signal; something. But you certainly didn’t hang up on me because I dared disagree with you about an NFL football game, did you?

I attempted to call you back but got your voice mail. Again, I gave you the benefit of the doubt (which at this point ain’t easy) by saying “We must have been cut off so I’ll call you this weekend. I love you.”

Dad, we’ve never had a real personal, intimate discussion in my 36-plus years on this planet. But I have to ask one simple, succinct question: Why?

Why do you make mountains out of mole hills?

Why do you remember when I got mad at a football game but don’t recall my wedding anniversary?

Why can’t you be OK to “agree to disagree” about political issues?

Why, in 1984 while in town attending a Twins baseball game, did you not stop and see the two boys you hadn't seen in seven years?

About 17 months ago I had lost you for three minutes to a heart attack. Thankfully, you came back.

I’m still here, Dad.

I never went away.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Daunte's inferno may be flaming out.

The 1999 NFL draft for our Minnesota Vikings is one which will live in infamy.

Just three months removed from that devastating overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game, the Vikes should have been looking to the draft to reload. The one glaring weakness they had was on the defensive side of the ball. With the Vikes having two first round picks, it was a certainty they would be able to shore up the defense.

Their initial first round selection would be the number 11 overall pick, thanks to a trade with the Washington Redskins. Ironically it was quarterback Brad Johnson, Minnesota’s current backup QB, who was sent to the Skins in that deal. After all, Johnson had become expendable after his injury in the second week of the 1998 season. That injury opened the door for Randall Cunningham, leading to an MVP performance for a record-setting offense in terms of points scored. The Vikings also had the #28 pick overall, a selection then coach Dennis Green referred to as a “bonus pick” (When the bizarre Dimitrius Underwood was selected at #28, Green must have meant “bogus” pick).

As with any NFL draft, the speculation runs rampant as to whom a team will select with its first round pick. In ’99 for the Vikings, the consensus on the #11 pick was standout Defensive End Jevon Kearse out of Florida.

So when NFL Commish Paul Tagliabue came to the podium, I was glued to the TV set.

With the eleventh pick the 1999 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings select…


The initial reaction I had was the one where Charlie Brown attempts to kick the football and shrieks “UUUGGGGHHH” as he flies through mid-air.

Yes, it was a rather inauspicious beginning to Culpepper’s career in Minnesota.

Personally, I grew to like Daunte Culpepper as a player. I felt he was the cornerstone of what would be a winning football team for years to come. I endorsed the Randy Moss trade last year when I recalled how Culpepper flourished without Moss in the lineup for five games in 2004. Combine that with Moss becoming the equivalent to a Terrell Owens without the work ethic and it became clear to me that jettisoning Moss was the right move.

Under offensive coach Scott Linehan, Culpepper amassed two of the greatest statistical seasons (2003-04) put forth by a QB. After the ’04 season, the hot rumor was that Linehan would move on to the Miami Dolphins to sign a 3-year, $2.8 million deal as their offensive coordinator. Culpepper publicly lobbied for some sort of deal to keep Linehan in the fold.

As it appears now, Daunte was pleading for his career.

Before getting his knee shredded in Week 8 last season against the Carolina Panthers, Culpepper looked completely lost. It was almost as if everything he learned under Linehan had somehow faded away. However, the knee-jerk reaction amongst most fans was that Culpepper’s struggles were directly attributed to Randy Moss being gone. That is an argument for another day.

What we do know is what Kevin Seifert reported in today’s Star Tribune:

Culpepper, who fired agent Mason Ashe last month, represented himself during a gathering that also included owner Zygi Wilf, other members of his ownership group, coach Brad Childress and Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski. Culpepper, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, asked that approximately $10 million be added to his contract this season -- increasing his total 2006 compensation to a staggering $18 million.

The fact Culpepper was seeking such a ridiculous amount of money after a 2005 season which saw his performance regress and then him tearing three ligaments in his knee, I’m lead to believe he was seeking a trade.

Rumor has it that Daunte had a much more…uh…”active” role in the boat party scandal that plagued the Vikings franchise last season.

Given the uncertainty surrounding Culpepper’s physical well-being as well as his part in the Lake Minnetonka boating incident, it might be best for all concerned that he get a fresh start elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Is that Maureen Dowd writing for the Strib?

Kristine Holmgren.

Just say that name to my wife and fire comes to her beautiful blue eyes.It was 4 ½ years ago that Ms. Holmgren, an ordained Presbyterian minister, wrote an op-ed in the St Paul Pioneer Press entitled “Faith of Our Fathers.” The piece appeared in the Father’s Day 2001 edition of the St Paul paper.

The essence of Ms. Holmgren’s column was to decry Northfield High School’s use of a Christian evangelist to speak to kids at a drug-abuse prevention assembly. Holmgren was all up in arms, claiming this was a Constitutional violation.

My wife, a public school teacher herself, decided to take issue with Ms. Holmgren’s erroneous claim. After all, no law was made respecting an establishment of a religion during the aforementioned assembly.

Ms. Holmgren’s response?

So what are you implying? Do you approve of our school district’s behavior? In that case, I would like to know the school district that employs you. I’m sure they would be very interested in the radical agenda you are imposing on the young minds you oversee.

What???!!!!You mean you don’t have an intellectual response, Ms. Holmgren? Someone disagrees with your assertion that the Northfield school district was getting ever closer to the “edge of social engineering and fascism” and all you can do is accuse that someone of having a “radical agenda”?

But I digress.

I share that anecdote to give you our impression of one Kristine Holmgren when we read this in the Star Tribune on Valentine’s Day.

When my Valentine first called last Feb. 14, he had no idea I already loved him.

He was easy to love. Middle-aged, gray and craggy, his face was lined with laughter, experience. And I thought I saw something else as well. His smile projected an irresistible knee-jerk honesty. When I looked at him, I saw my soulmate -- another baby boomer with a hunger for truth, justice and the American way.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!! Your soulmate was Superman??!!

From the first day I saw him, I knew he was a champion. I marveled at how my Valentine flattened the mendacity of colleagues at the office. He was a fearless soldier of sincerity, a warrior in the battle against the reckless lies of the sometimes silly employer we then served.

What, did you work for Air America?

And so when he offered to buy me a Valentine martini, I thought the gods were delivering me to bliss.

I was easy to get. He told me he loved me on our first date, and I believed him. I believed everything he said.

After meeting him that same day?? I guess I missed something.

My eyes were unforgettable. No one had skin as soft as mine, teeth as white, arms as welcoming, kisses as warm. He'd searched for me for more than 30 years. I was his treasure, his sweet, blue-eyed girl.

So I will think of him today, as I watch my coworkers open cards attached to bouquets of red roses.

I will remember the plans he made for us. Paris in May.

Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca", right?

Biking Lake Superior in July.

Garrison Keillor, "A Prairie Home Companion?"

And I will remember the lesson I learned. I am easily deceived, and I live in a land of deception.

Bill Clinton did not have sex with that woman. George W. Bush had evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Richard Nixon was not a crook.

When John Kerry is President, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk.

With lies as grand as this, how can I punish tiny lies like his? It is not easy to be true.

It may not be easy but it is so worthwhile.

Simple, decent people assault us with tidy, well-considered lies each day. The check is in the mail. Your call will be answered in the order it was received. It was nice meeting you. James Frey is a great memoirist.

I feel your pain.

We'll keep your résumé on file. The war in Iraq can be won. Samuel Alioto….

You say Alioto, I say Alito.

….has no opinion on Roe vs. Wade.

Now, this won't hurt a bit.

You know, the Twin Cities could use their own version of Maureen Dowd. I think we have found her in the person of Kristine Holmgren.

OK, Kristine. Are Men Necessary?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fact and Fiction: First female President(s) in jeopardy.

When attempting to draw parallels between fictional President Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) and real-life hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, I don’t think this is what ABC-TV had in mind.

As reported by Star Tribune media guy, Neal Justin:

President Mackenzie Allen appeared indestructible. "Commander in Chief," in which Allen is the first U.S. prez to wear high heels in public, premiered in late September to more than 16 million viewers, the best numbers for a Tuesday-night drama in five years. Critics joined in the mandate, with title star Geena Davis winning a Golden Globe last month for best actress.
But in recent weeks, "Chief" ratings have nosedived.

New episodes are drawing roughly 60 percent of the audience the show had last fall and ABC plans to yank the drama from the schedule in March for two months.

As the television series “Commander in Chief” is imploding ratings wise, the same can be said for Senator Clinton when it comes to her White House aspirations.

Over the past year or so, many of the self-anointed pundits on the left all but gave Hillary the Democratic nominee for 2008.

But as the London Times recently observed, “The Hillary Express” has been losing steam.

Above all, the issue that her supporters and opponents alike consider her biggest liability has surfaced ominously: the likeability factor.

Few deny that Mrs Clinton is razor-sharp and politically savvy. But even supporters worry about her personal skills, at least before a large audience. She is a somewhat wooden speaker with a hectoring style at times more reminiscent of Al Gore than her husband. And unlike Bill, she projects a lofty, distant air that has been likened to the Queen of Sheba in a power suit.

Last weekend Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, homed in on Mrs Clinton’s personality, saying that she was too angry. His aim was both to pinpoint her weaknesses and to needle her, and it seems to have worked.

Hey, Mrs. Clinton. If you’re happy, notify your face.

Oh, never mind then.

Moore lies looking less likely.

Say, Michael. What are the prospects for your latest "documentary?"

From last week:

Michael Moore is apparently so desperate to dig up dirt on drug companies and health-care providers for his next documentary, "Sicko," he's asking visitors to his Web site to help him out. But given the glaring conflict between what the filmmaker says about drug companies and how he invests in them, the title of the movie might well apply to Moore himself.
In discussing his new project, Moore has said that "being screwed by your [health-care provider] and ill-served by pharmaceutical companies is the shared American experience."

Why then, if horror stories about drug companies and HMOs are ubiquitous, is the "Fahrenheit 911" filmmaker asking for help?

Probably because it was overly obvious that his prior two "documentaries" were filled with blatant lies and distortions. Perhaps Mike is switching to a more subtle approach.

On his Web site, Moore addresses his "friends": "How would you like to be in my next movie? I know you've probably heard I'm making a documentary about the health-care industry ... . Maybe you've just been told that your father is going to have to just, well, die because he can't afford the drugs he needs to get better ... O.K., here's your chance" [to tell about it].

"Bowling for Columbine" was made to demonstrate the evil of guns by exploiting the April 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School."Fahrenheit 9/11" was used to demonize President Bush and insinuate that Iraq was some peaceful oasis prior to US action taken.

And now Moore would like you to tell your tales of woe about a friend or relative allegedly getting sub-standard health care.

Let's see. Human tragedy and suffering. Making this country look bad. Moore making millions of dollars. Do you sense a theme here? 

He also invites employees of pharmaceutical companies and others in the health-care industry who "have seen too much abuse of your fellow human beings" to contact him via e-mail for possible inclusion in "Sicko." And he vows: "I promise you that with ‘Sicko' we will do our best to give you not only a great movie, but a chance to bring down this evil empire, once and for all."

You come up with the premise "American health care is evil" and yet you put all of your hope for film content into possibly disgruntled employees of drug companies? Pathetic, Mike.

Perhaps Moore would be well served to read Peter Schweizer's blockbuster new book, "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy."

In his chapter on Moore, Schweizer points out that "Sicko" accuses pharmaceutical companies of letting Americans die in order to boost profits.

But he also reveals that Moore – who has publicly claimed that he doesn't invest in the stock market out of moral principle – in fact has used his private foundation to invest in those very same pharmaceutical firms.

Over the past five years, Schweizer writes, Moore's holdings "have included such evil pharmaceutical and medical companies as Pfizer, Merck, Genzyme, Elan PLC, Eli Lilly, Becton Dickinson and Boston Scientific."

Moore told the Detroit News that the health-care system in the United States, "inferior to that of much poorer nations, benefits the few at the expense of the many."

Writes Schweizer: "Count Moore himself as one of those ‘few.' He may savage HMOs in his film ‘Sicko,' but he has also owned shares of Pharmacia Corporation and Tenet Healthcare. He must have liked their price-to-earnings ratios . . .

"Publicly, Michael Moore is a populist crusader who stands up to profit-minded corporations on behalf of workers, women, minorities, and the environment. Privately, he is the consummate capitalist single-mindedly focused on money."

Nice work if you can get it.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rushing to judgment.

Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh has often said that liberals are incredibly entertaining when their people are not in power. Their rhetoric consists of nothing but assigning blame and portraying the USA as a country on the edge of an abyss, especially with George W. Bush in power.

A caller to Rush’s program today pretty much ran the gamut of that liberal lunacy.

Here is the transcript of a call from a guy named Joe:

RUSH: Joe in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, welcome to the program. Nice to have us with us, sir.

CALLER: Yes, Rush, I have to disagree with your take on Rock the Vote. I think it takes a lot of nerve to accuse Democrats and liberals of voter fraud after what happened in the year 2000.
(Yeah, that was a sham. The media calling Florida for Gore before many voters in the panhandle of the state (Central time zone; predominantly Bush supporters) went out to cast their ballot.)

RUSH: Doesn't take any nerve at all. We deal with the truth and facts here.

CALLER: I don't think so. We've got a president who has authorized torture and wiretapping, tools that can be used against guys like you when Democrats get back in power.
(Well, we know Democrats wouldn’t use it against Al-Qaeda. They don’t think there’s any real terrorist threat.)

RUSH: I love you guys.

CALLER: No, you don't.

RUSH: Yes, I do. You are the best friend people like I have.

CALLER: No. You really are misguided if you think I'm your friend.

RUSH: Well, not intentionally. You don't want to be my friend. As long as you want to stay stuck --

CALLER: I don't want to be your friend.

RUSH: Wait a minute, now. If you want to stay stuck in the notion that you got cheated out of the election in 2000, and if you then want to jump forward from that and say Bush is spying on you, then I'm going to get out of the way and let you deliver the rest of your monolog because I want the whole country to hear where you Democrats are, so go ahead, Joe, and let me have it.

CALLER: Good, Rush. When people who are your enemies come to power, they can use the tools that Bush now has. Guys like you, drug addicts like you, better watch your butt.
(Translation: I’ve got no intellectual response so I’ll just get personal.)

RUSH: Hey, Joe? Don't stop there. Don't stop there, Joe. You're doing a fine job of portraying yourself. Your buddies have already tried stuff like that with me, Joe, when they're not even in power. Did he hang up?

CALLER: No, I didn't hang up.

RUSH: Well, why are you so quiet? You've got a forum, Joe. I want you to keep going. Keep it coming. I want to find out every poisonous thought that's circulating through your body.

CALLER: No, Rush, you'd lose your license if you heard them. I'm trying to be fair and balanced and listen to you, Rush.

RUSH: Well, this is the third time. You can't tell me what you think. Not about me. Tell me what you think about President Bush, or what you think about the country or something. But just tell me what you think politically, and if you can't do it without being profane, you've got a problem.

CALLER: No, Rush, you have a problem. It's about time someone in the country stood up for the rich and powerful, and you're just the guy to do it.
(Oh, you mean the guys who provide you with your job? Your boss must be especially generous if you got time to sit on hold and call a radio show.)

RUSH: Well, that really hurt. Glad you at least know the truth about it. I'm proud to do it, Joe.

CALLER: I bet you are.

RUSH: You know what, Joe, the truth is I wish you could join the rich and powerful and find out what it's like.

CALLER: Rush, you're George Leroy Tirebiter. You never lie and you're always right.

RUSH: Well, thanks, but, you're blowing a great opportunity here. There are millions of people waiting to be persuaded by your political thoughts and your analysis and all you want to do is insult me.

CALLER: That's not all I want to do, Rush, but that's all I've got time for. I'm a busy man and you're wasting my time.
(BUSY???!!! For crying out loud, you’re the one that called Rush’s show! Typical lib, not wanting to take responsibility for his actions.)

RUSH: (Laughing.) Did we call him? (Laughing.) Joe, you still there? He hung up! He hung up. (Sigh) Oh, me oh my. Never let it be said that I am unfair. Never let it be said that I don't give these people a chance. He was a lib; we put him at the front of the line. I gave him the opportunity to proselytize and to evangelize his point of view on anything. That's all he had and then he has to tell me I'm wasting his time.

In the movie “The American President”, Michael Douglas played a Democrat President who was portrayed as idealistic, thoughtful and sensitive. His opponent was a Republican senator who was deemed an overbearing character assassin.

The line in the move that struck me was in the President’s speech near the end of the movie. About his opponent, Douglas’ character stated: “He’s only interested in two things: Making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it.”

Our real-life President today could make that very statement about the party ("koff, koff" Democrats "koff") that continually obstructs and opposes him.

Seahawks fans: GET OVER IT!

Get over it.
Get over it.
All this whinin' and cryin' and pitchin' a fit.
Get over it, get over it.
-The Eagles
Lyrics from their song "Get over it."

Take heed in those lyrics, Seahawks fans. After all, there is no crying in football. Blaming game officials for your team losing a game is shear Bush League stuff. Did the Steelers roll over and wet on themselves against the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional playoffs after a horrendous officiating call? Steelers safety Troy Polamalu made a diving interception of Peyton Manning with 5:26 remaining and Pittsburgh up 11. He got up to run and fumbled the ball, but recovered -- only to have it mysteriously overturned by the referee. It doesn't get any more blatant than that.

Wait a minute! What about that officials' call that Darrell Jackson committed offensive pass interference in the end zone? Had that little "ticky tack" call not been made, it's 7-0, Hawks.

I saw the play. Jackson clearly extended his arm to create separation. A section of the official NFL rules on offensive pass interference states:
Initiating contact with a defender by shoving or pushing off thus creating a separation in an attempt to catch a pass.

You can use the "ticky tack" argument all you want. That's like saying your girlfriend is "only a little pregnant."

OK, but you have to admit that Ben Roethlisberger did not cross the goal line on the Steelers' first touchdown.

Uh, no I don't. Look, the referee that signaled "touchdown" was right up the goal line. Are you trying to tell me that you had a better view from home than that official who was there? Besides, if they don't give Roethlisberger the TD, the ball would be marked on the one-centimeter line. The Steelers would have punched it in on fourth-and-goal anyways.

Well, let's not forget that bogus holding call in the 4th quarter. It wiped out a completion to the one yard line. We score there, we lead 17-14.

Bogus holding call? If an offensive lineman reaches around and tackles a guy after getting beat, that's textbook holding. Besides, the Seahawks still had the ball in Pittsburgh territory when your QB threw an interception. What, are you going to tell me the ref obstructed Matt Hasselbeck's view of his receiver?

Did the officials also cause Jerramy Stevens to drop passes?

How about your kicker, Josh Brown, missing two field goals?

The Seahawks had a great year, finishing 13-3 in the regular season.

But there's no doubt in my mind that they were the second best team on Sunday.
UPDATE: Turns out I ain't the only one telling the Seahawks fans to get over it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tiger Woods: Sustained excellence.

Lost in the aura that was Super Bowl weekend, one Eldrick “Tiger” Woods went to 2-0 in 2006 PGA tournaments (both victories having come in a playoff). With his triumph over Ernie Els in the extra session of the Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger moved his overall record to 13-1 in playoffs.

Talk all you want about his superb tee shots, his precise chipping or his putting accuracy. The man shows grit and determination when victory is within his grasp. You can almost sense the spirit-crushing effect suffered by the other golfers if Tiger is within a shot or two of the lead in the final round.

That said, it’s amazing the “high bar” Tiger has set. If he goes an entire season without winning one of the four majors (Masters, British Open, US Open, and the PGA Championship), the theories come fast and furious from detractors and fans alike, as if Woods is in some sort of slump.

He should have never changed to that Nike driver.

Marriage has become a distraction.

When you’re already worth hundreds of millions of dollars, where’s the incentive?

The truth is, we’re so quick to give iconic status to some athletes when they hit a hot streak that we forget there are some human tendencies.

The fact of the matter is Tiger did more before 30 years of age (he hit the big 3-0 on December 30) than any golfer in PGA history.


-One of only two golfers in history to win each of the four majors at least twice (Jack Nicklaus is the only other to do so).

-Is already in 3rd place in the category of “Most Major Championships” with 10 (Nicklaus has the most, with 18).

-Most PGA tour wins (24) before the age of 25.

-Most PGA tour wins (46) before the age of 30.

-Holds or shares the lowest 72-hole score in each of the four major championships.

Tiger Woods has been the most dominant player in his sport while in his 20s.

He’s off to a great start in his 30s!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Belafonte and Bond: They're not right.

Singer Harry Belafonte has been quite outspoken over the past few years in his opposition to the Presidency of George W. Bush. From calling President Bush a "terrorist" to using Hitler analogies, Belafonte has made no secret of his sheer disdain for the entire Bush administration.

Belafonte also offered this little gem in October 2002:

There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes, they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good 'cause they ate his food and what he left.

This was a quote attributed to Malcolm X which Belafonte used to characterize then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Not to be outdone, NAACP chairman Julian Bond labeled Rice and Powell as "tokens" in the Bush administration in a speech he gave Wednesday night in North Carolina.

Call me naive, ignorant or both. But isn't the purpose of the NAACP to work on behalf of African-Americans? So why such demeaning rhetoric when referring to two of the brightest minds ever to serve in a Presidential cabinet?

Belafonte and Bond have both implied quite strongly that the Bush administration is racist. So why would such a bigoted presidency allow two African-Americans to occupy its most prominent cabinet posts?

Leave it to ol' Banana Boat Harry to explain that one with a clever analogy:

Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich.


For nearly 100 years, the NAACP has fought tirelessly in securing equality for black people. Yet, when Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice accomplish something never done before by African-Americans, they're called such despicable names like "house negroes" and "tokens".

I guess renown activists like Julian Bond and Harry Belafonte are all for civil rights, provided it advances the liberal agenda. However, if any African-Americans stray from that agenda to embrace a different ideology, they are publicly rejected.

To me, that's the ultimate form of segregation.

Super Bowl XL: The Q & A

Super Bowl Sunday!

Need I say more?

It’s a day where TV commercials are much anticipated and water pressure from simultaneous flushes of toilets across the USA could potentially form their own tsunami.

For me, this Sunday represents the 29th consecutive Super Bowl Sunday that my beloved Minnesota Vikings will not appear in the big game.

So how do I get geared up for this contest year after year?

The following is the transcript of a Q&A session done with a guy who calls himself “The Super Bowl Inquisitor.” Since week 10 of the NFL regular season, I have done weekly picks against the point spread. SBI has been a faithful reader of my valiant attempts at prognosticating pro football games.

As a result, the SBI had some intriguing questions about the Super Bowl. I was only too happy to help.

Q. Isn’t it great that Steelers running back Jerome Bettis finally gets to play in the Super Bowl, in his home town of Detroit no less?
A. Depends. The only other time he played in an NFL game in Detroit was Thanksgiving 1998, a not-so-memorable event for visiting Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers will be considered the “home” team in Super Bowl XL. Therefore, Bettis won’t be burdened with having to call the opening coin flip.

Q. Huh?
A. Oh yeah. Don’t you remember when the Steelers were playing the Detroit Lions on that aforementioned Turkey Day? Bettis was to call in the air the coin-flip in overtime. He said “tails”, referee Phil Luckett thought he said “heads”, it landed on tails, Detroit was given the ball despite a vigorous Steelers protest, and the Lions took that opening possession down the field for a game-winning field goal.

Q. OK, sorry I asked. Oh, what do you think of this being the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl appearance?
A. I think it’s absolutely fantastic for the people of Seattle. I mean, really. How would you like to have your home town known merely as the rainiest, dreariest city in the U.S.? Worse yet, how about the fact it’s the birthplace of a style of music called “Grunge”?

Q. You mean you were never a fan of Nirvana?
A. Are you kidding? Absolutely I was! Were it not for Nirvana, “Weird Al” Yankovic would have never made a comeback in the 90s with his smash hit “Smells like Nirvana”!

Q. Speaking of music, are you looking forward to The Rolling Stones halftime show?
A. Nah. Just the mere possibility of Keith Richards having his own “wardrobe malfunction” is enough for me to tune out.

Q. So what will you do during the halftime extravaganza?
A. I received for Christmas the extended version DVDs of the trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”. I can’t think of a better occasion to finally crack those open.

Q. Wouldn’t that take, like, eleven hours to watch all three discs?
A. What’s your point?

Q. What’s on the menu?
A. Hors d’oeuvres, Shmor dervs – keep it simple. I’m going with Diet Coke, Cheetos and Cookies n’ Cream ice cream.

Q. What was your favorite Super Bowl?
A. Wow, that’s like asking which of my children I love the most. Well, there’s Super Bowl XXXII, where Denver upset Green Bay 31-24. John Elway got his long-awaited championship and the cheese heads were denied another title. I also fondly remember the excitement that came with Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers beating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. It was a Montana TD pass to John Taylor with less than a minute to go, giving the Niners a 20-16 win. But my favorite had to be the Pittsburgh Steelers defeating the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, 35-31. I was only nine years old and I watched that game at our local roller skating rink. The rink had a promotion that day that if the NFC team (in this case, Dallas) won, everyone in attendance would get a free Pepsi. My naturally rebellious nature did not like being told whom to root for. Therefore, I was pushed to root for the Steelers, thus allowing me to gloat the rest of the evening!

Q. Let’s see if I have this straight. You were nine years old when Super Bowl XIII was played. We’re coming up on Super Bowl XL this weekend. So, forty minus thirteen is 27. If you take 27 plus 9…..You’re 36 years old now??!!
A. Yeah, Yeah. Next question, all right?

Q. Least favorite Super Bowl?
A. It’s a tie. Green Bay beating New England 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI was hard to take. The cheese heads got another title and I had to listen to my insufferable Wisconsin friends and relatives gloat for an entire year.
Super Bowl XXXIII, Denver beat Atlanta 34-19. Granted, I was ecstatic for John Elway and his MVP performance in his final game. However, it was my Vikings who should have been there instead of Atlanta. Just a couple of weeks earlier the Vikes were upset by Atlanta in the NFC Championship game, 30-27 in overtime. Thanks, Denny Green.

Q. Uh, are you crying?
A. (Sniffle) Ahem….ah…nope. No, not at all. Uh, my, uhhh…allergies…yeah, my allergies are bothering me a bit, that’s all.

Q. Finally, we’re here! The grand finale, the defining moment, the coups de grace….
A. Do you have another question or not?

Q. Who’s your pick to win Super Bowl XL, Seahawks or Steelers?
A. I thought you’d never ask.

The battle cry for the Steelers franchise since winning their fourth Super Bowl title in 1979 has been “One for the thumb.”

The Seahawks battle cry has been “Just ONE.”

The Steelers are a nice sentimental pick because Bettis is most likely retiring after this game. What a way to go out for the 5th place player on the all-time rushing list.

On the other hand, the Seahawks are getting their share of good vibes given this is the franchises’ first Super Bowl appearance in their 30-year history.

The Steelers are still owned by the tradition-rich family, the Rooneys.

The Seahawks are owned by the filthy-rich Paul Allen.

Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher is the longest tenured coach in the NFL, having headed up the Steelers since 1992.

Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren has also been in the league since 1992, seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers and now in his seventh year with the Seahawks.

Will Cowher lead the Steelers to their fifth title in franchise history, tying a record set by the 49ers and Cowboys?

Or will Holmgren become the first coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with two different teams?

In the end, I say STEELERS WIN, 24-21.

Last week: 1-1-0

Overall: 69-61-6

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

God answers prayer!

Whenever my wife and I pray together, we always have one absolute which we include in every communication with the Lord: We’re willing vessels, Lord. Use us to impact others in a positive way.

Allow me to share my most recent testimony of God answering prayer.

My wife and I have been attending Emmanuel Christian Center, an awesome church in Fridley, MN, for about four years now. Recently, we have been encouraged to participate in a program simply entitled “Five Friends.” The objective of this concept is to write down on a card five people whom you would pray for on a daily basis.

One of the “friends” I wrote down was a former co-worker by the name of Emily (not her real name). She started at the company where I work around August 2004. Within a couple of months we started chatting on a somewhat regular basis after she learned I was a fellow George W. Bush supporter. Since the ’04 Presidential campaign was in its stretch run at that time, we both observed the events with a keen interest. After the election had come and gone, Emily and I merely exchanged a polite “hello” whenever we crossed paths. She was an incredibly sweet person but wasn’t someone for whom I went out of my way to get to know on a personal level.

In January 2005, our company scheduled its annual Holiday party on a weekend my wife and I were out of town. Upon returning to work the following Monday, I inquired about what I may have missed at the big soiree. The one incident that seemed to stand out in everyone’s mind was how Emily acted throughout the evening. From what I gathered, Emily was obnoxious and somewhat belligerent due to her being inebriated. I dismissed it as someone who got carried away at the party by visiting the bar a little too often. As I would eventually learn, she was intoxicated before the party even started.

About a week-and-a-half later, it was a work day and I happened to be in the cafeteria taking about a ten minute break. I saw Emily peak through the window before she entered the break area. I was by myself so it seemed pretty obvious she wanted to speak with me. I figured it would be work related. However, her first inquiry kind of took me off guard. She asked me about my faith in the Lord and about the church my wife and I attend. While I don’t recall the exact words exchanged during the conversation, she told me it was nice to be able to talk and thanked me for my time. Upon returning to my desk, I sent her an e-mail with an internet link to our church. I told her that my wife and I would love to host her if indeed she was interested in visiting ECC. She didn’t respond to that inquiry that day. It was the next day when I figured I would stop by her desk to invite her personally.

She wasn’t there.

When I asked if she was out for the day, I was told she was on a four-week leave of absence. I was stunned. I had a vague suspicion that she checked in to some sort of alcohol treatment facility. Some of the co-workers who had become good friends with Emily confirmed the inkling I had. Immediately, I was reminded of the conversation we had in the break room. She was attempting to reconcile her life with Jesus. She was obviously at a crossroads in her life, about to face the demons that had been haunting her for some time. Perhaps she wanted me to reassure her that God indeed never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Nevertheless, after a month in the rehab facility, Emily returned to work looking as vibrant as ever, ready to start over.

That seemed to last all of about three months.

Since Emily worked in a heavily populated area of our office it wasn’t unusual for me to pass by her cubicle on a regular basis. One day in early June I walked by her cube only to notice that her name plate had been removed and her personal possessions were gone from her desk. I asked one of Emily’s associates in her department if she was gone for good. I received a regretful nod of “yes”. While I didn’t receive specific details of the fateful incident which lead to her firing, I pretty well knew it was due to drinking on the job.

Fast forward about seven months. Once again, the company holiday party was to take place and this time my wife and I would be attending. As this years’ gathering drew near I couldn’t help but think of Emily and the chaos that took place at the previous years’ get-together. So within the last few weeks, it came on my heart to write her and let her know that we would very much like to have her visit our church. I also wanted her to realize that I knew of her difficulties with alcohol and, since she was one of my “Five Friends”, I hoped and prayed that she is on firm footing. I decided to write a letter via “snail mail” since I only had access to her home address. I sent this letter last Thursday.

You can imagine my surprise when I checked our mail Tuesday evening to find a letter from Emily! What could she possibly have to say? Was she encouraged by my letter or outraged? Was she appreciative or angry? There was only one way to find out.

I was uncharacteristically nervous when opening the letter. When I removed the paper from the envelope, I immediately scanned to the very last sentence written. I figured that would give an indication of the tone of the note. “Please pray for me” were the final words uttered in the letter. It was only then my trepidation turned to joy. As it turns out, Emily received the letter on Saturday and was very appreciative. Two days later she would be checking into Minnesota Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Had my letter not arrived Saturday, it would not have gotten to her home until Monday. By then, she would have been at the treatment facility where she will spend at least the next 60 days, possibly a year.

There is absolutely no doubt it was my prayers for Emily which caused God to move me to write her. Had I hesitated just one day, she would not have received my correspondence before she left for treatment.

An excerpt from the letter Emily wrote:

Satan really is trying to get me but I don’t want to die like that. I want the relationship back with God that I used to have. I am so happy I got your letter before I left.

Thank you so much for the letter. It lets me know there are good Christian people that truly do care.

Please pray for me.

You know we will, Emily.

God truly answers prayer!