Progress Sucks, Mostly

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I have lived in Virginia for 51 years now, most of my adult life. I will most likely die in Virginia. Virginia is a beautiful state, rich in natural beauty, history, culture, and with wonderful people. I have seen much change during my life here. Going to 11th grade in Virginia Beach I remember how rural it all was. I used to go surfing at the Navy Dam Neck base and the road leading in was a two lane one, with a country store on the corner.

Today the areas I remember as a young man are almost unrecognizable. Progress has brought more roads, much larger roads, along with shopping malls, countless gas stations, banks, convenience stores, and housing development after housing development. Every city I have lived in in Hampton Roads has changed dramatically. Traffic has gone from a nice drive down a two lane road to a nightmare of constant traffic jams, endless tolls, and just a miserable experience trying to drive anywhere.

And for all this progress, I can honestly say that I much prefer the Hampton Roads of my youth to the monstrosity it has become. I understand that progress is inevitable, but one would hope that progress would make life more enjoyable, but that seldom seems to be the case. Progress seems to be a lopsided trade-off between improving your life and making your life miserable.

Maybe progress is not the right word, rather growth. I just wish cities would do a much better job of managing growth so that as the area where you live grows, you don’t end up becoming a stranger to the place where you have lived your entire life.

I have often thought about moving, but the fact that my entire family still lives in this area has kept me from doing that. But it is coming to the point where even that will no longer constrain me from moving.

I have lived in Chesapeake for almost 12 years now. When I moved to where I live now, there were only five houses in the area. Two of them are beautiful properties sitting on six acres combined, both with beautiful trees and dirt roads leading up to the house. The two houses on either side of me are beautiful houses too, with great neighbors.

In the 12 years that I have lived here I have seen a self-storage facility built across the road just up a block from us. Then the old farm at the end of the dead end road I live on was sold and 30 houses built on that land. Now the owners of the two properties across from me have both died and the land has been sold to the same developers, who plan on building an additional 20 homes. So I have gone from living in a beautiful, rural area to just another over-developed area of the city.

There used to be a family of foxes that lived on the land that used to be the farm. I would see them almost every day. There was also the occasional deer. Since the 30 houses were built the deer have gone, along with the foxes. Now I see an occasional fox on the two properties across from me, but soon those properties will have houses on them and the foxes will have nowhere to live.

So the transformation is complete. My neighborhood that was once a joy to live in will soon become completely unrecognizable from what it was 12 years ago. I can’t even back out of my driveway any more without having to wait for a car to go by. And what has all this progress gained for me? How has it improved my life in any way? As I get older all I want is peace and quiet, and that is becoming increasingly hard to find anywhere in Hampton Roads.

So I think I have reached the point where I may be forced to leave the area I have lived for over 50 years. Progress has driven me out finally. Don’t know where I will go, but I hope I can find a place where progress will not find me for the rest of my days.

Time Marches On

depositphotos_11375121-Infinity-time-spiral-clockI have just finished reading a book about time travel. It was not a typical time travel story, it included topics like dark matter, dark energy, and duplication; not only of objects but people. Anyway, it got me to thinking about one of the most fascinating ideas of all, time. Time travel is the foundation of many a science fiction story, with good reason. Time is a bizarre concept, hard to wrap your mind around. Yet even more hard to understand would be life without time. Without time, how would life move forward? But the fact that time does move forward is the ultimate cause of death, decay, and entropy.

The past, present, and future are all manifestations of time. Without time there would be no past nor future, only the present. Without a past or future, life would consist of a single instance, frozen forever. It is so weird to consider that our entire life is but a moment, which passes into the past and is no more. So we truly do only live in the moment. The future is an unknown, the past mere incomplete memories of previous instances of our lives.

The advances of time lead ultimately to the decay and eventual death of our human bodies. Imagine a world where time advanced yet there was no decay. Is that even possible? As time advances it leads to growth from infant to adult, but what if at a certain point our bodies developed to a final stage after which there was no more development nor decay. No old age, the slow loss of our hearing, eyesight, our very faculties. We could still die from disease, illness, or accident, but not from “old age” itself. Would that be a form of immortality?

Without time there would be no life as we know it but the side effects of time are devastating. Yet how does one wrap his mind around the concept of eternal life. How does that work? Would you live the same day over and over again like in the movie Ground Hog Day? Would time advance endlessly without aging, sickness, or death. Could the human mind deal with eternity? The whole concept of infinity and eternity is beyond human comprehension.

I think the reason I have given so much thought to time is that I am finally getting to feel old. It is starting to sink in that there are only so many years to this life, that time will finally run out for all of us. I see people that were once young, vibrate, and alive, suddenly no more. I am a Christian and so believe that I will live eternally but as a human I can’t and probably never will grasp that concept fully.

Time and life as we know it as captives of time, will always be a mystery.  If there is anything to be learned from time it is to live the “moment” to the fullest and hope that our memories will be beautiful and our future filled with more memories to come. Time marches on. Tick, Tick, Tick.

 

The Exaggerated Crimes of Religion

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I have been reading a great book by one on my favorite authors, Dinesh D’Souza. The title of the book is ‘What’s So Great About Christianity’. One of the chapters is devoted to the topic of the exaggerated claims by militant atheists that religion is “The most potent source of human conflict, past and present.”

According to atheists religion has given us stonings, witch-burnings, crusades, inquisitions, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, and abortion clinic gunmen. Claims have even been made that “a toxic religious mania could end human civilization overnight.”

The problem is that these claims are greatly exaggerated while at the same time ignoring the vastly greater crimes committed by secular and atheist fanatics. Lets start with the example that is most frequently paraded about, the Crusades. The Crusades have been heralded as “a set of world historical crimes” whose “trail of violence scars the earth and human memory even to this day.”

This discounts the fact that the Crusades were in response to over two hundred years of Muslim invasion and conquest of Western Europe. Without the Crusades , Western civilization might have been completely overrun by the forces of Islam. Christians fought to defend themselves from foreign conquest, as any country or civilization has the right to do.

As for the Inquisition, historians have for the most part established that the horrific images of the Inquisition are largely a myth concocted by the political enemies of Spain-mainly English writers who shaped our American understanding of the event. Inquisition trials were fairer and more lenient than their secular counterparts. Conservative estimates of those actually executed for heresy during the Inquisition total from 1,500 to 4,000 over a span of 350 years.

The best example of religiously motivated violence in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Fewer than 25.

How about the Thirty Years’ War? While religious motives were initially in play, most historians contend that it was primarily fought as a result of political clashes over power. Even in modern clashes like in the Balkans, Iraq, and Northern Ireland, the conflict was over ethnic rather than religious differences.

I will save for another day the story of Atheism and the mass murders of history.

 

It’s About Time

I seem to have acquired the emotional level needed to want to post something on my blog. It took a dreary day with torrential rain to get me to the keyboard.

It has been a tough month since my beloved Max died. Anyone who has lost a beloved pet has a good idea of what I have been going through. Trying to deal with such a loss is an ongoing process that will never truly end.

So on to what has been going on in my life. The new year has seen my direction in life change quite a bit. I have always been active in my church, but recently I have started to be a part of the ministry of another church in Portsmouth, the Sanctuary of Hope. The church is part of Bishop Frank Allen’s Hope Charitable Services.

Hope Charitable Services serves as MISSIONARIES TO THE POOR, working in the inner city of the Greater Norfolk Area (Portsmouth) with a reach across the United States and into 26 third-world countries. It represents the love and compassion of our Lord and the commitment of His Church as well as the care and generosity of its donors and partners as it presents the love of Christ to the least, last and lost of our world. It is a missions ministry to the poor, for the poor, by the poor and of the poor.

The foundation of Sanctuary of Hope is an amazing group of men and women, many of them coming from backgrounds of poverty, crime, and addiction. They are truly dedicated to their calling and have a burning love for their savior Jesus Christ. I am humbled to be a part of their ministry.

In other news, I have adopted our stray cat Sabrina. She was originally an outside cat only, but with the onset of winter she now stays inside most of the time, which is fine by her. She is a sweet and adorable cat.

I am writing this post on a new laptop I won at auction of Cowboom, which is an online computer site. They sell new equipment as well as used. The laptop I won is an Asus, with a 15.6″ UHD display, backlit keyboard, 1 terabyte hard drive, 8 Gbyte of RAM, an Intel i5 processor, Windows 10, and a touchscreen. I saved over $300 off the list price of a new laptop. The condition of the laptop was listed as satisfactory, but it appears almost brand new to me.

That’s it for now. If the rain lets up a bit I might get to the library to read the WSJ. I hope everyone has a blessed day.

 

Advent

It has been a busy December for me. So busy that I have been remiss in posting anything. Time to make up for that. As a Christian, Advent is a special time for me. It is a time of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.

Our church prepares for Christmas by decorating the Narthex and Sanctuary, as well as the entire church. We put up two Christmas trees, one traditionally decorated, the other decorated with Chrismons. Every Sunday of Advent a candle is lit in the Advent Wreath, with the central, white candle being lit on Christmas Eve.

Advent is also a time for community outreach. Our church participates in Operation Christmas Shoe Box and Operation Santa Claus. Operation Santa Claus provides gifts for children in foster homes while Operation Christmas Shoe Box provides a shoe box of gifts for needy children worldwide. We also participated in a program that packaged 40,000 meals for distribution all over the country.

As for myself, I have been busy doing the other things that fill my day. Reading, photography, church work (I am the treasurer among other hats I wear), traveling around, and shooting. Yes I cling to my guns and Bible. Just kidding.

The only down note is my beloved Golden Retriever Max has been sick. He turned 12 years old in November and has been diagnosed with liver cancer. He has been on chemotherapy and Prednisone for some time now and although he seems to be holding up remarkably well, his eyesight is failing. It is probably a combination of the drugs and the cancer but the vets aren’t sure. It is agonizing to watch your pet slowly go blind and not be able to do all the things we used to enjoy doing together. He is being treated for the blindness but the prognosis is unknown.

I will leave you with some photos to document recent events in my life. But before I go I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holiday, or whatever you celebrate during this time of the year.

God Bless you Richly

 

 

Bugs and Beaches

With Summer ending and Fall arriving very soon, I thought I would take a ride to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach and walk the trails and the beach. Back Bay is one of my favorite places to visit. It is located at the end of Sandbrige, Virginia, near the North Carolina border. In past trips I have been able to photograph all types of wildlife and I was hoping for the same this visit.

It was a beautiful day for being outside surrounded by natures beauty. This time of year there were very few people visiting, which was fine by me. It was very quiet and peaceful. Although I didn’t see any of the wildlife I usually see, you can guess by the title of this post what I did see and photograph.

Before I entered the refuge I stopped at my favorite place to grab a bite, Sandbridge Seaside Market. As the review says, they have a great deli and fresh donuts. After lunch I headed to the refuge. At the gate, the gentlemen taking admission fees sold me a seniors discount card for all National Parks and Refuges. It will save me a lot of money over time as I love visiting National Parks.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

Spring Things

Spring is here. No more snow, the flowers are blooming, the bees and butterfly’s are flying, the pollen is in the air, and the days are warmer. Winter wasn’t all that bad, except for some really cold weather and some snow storms. Now that I am able to get out of the house more often I have been busier than during the winter. I have been going to the gym more often, and taking more walks with Max.

Easter season has been busy with an egg hunt for the kids, our 65 annual Maundy Thursday service, Pizza/Movie night, and Easter Sunday Service. I have also become addicted to college basketball. A friend of mine who is an ODU season ticket holder took me to two ODU Monarch basketball games at the Ted Constance Convocation Center and now I am hooked on college ball. I watched almost every game during March Madness using either the ESPN app or the NCAA March Madness app. I was hoping for Wisconsin to take it all but at least they beat Kentucky.

Baseball season is almost upon us and I hope to take in at least a few Norfolk Tides games. We are having our annual family picnic at Woodstock Park in Virginia Beach April 26th. I am looking forward to seeing all my family members. The family has been constantly growing and we have become quite a clan.

On the tech. front, I bought a new HP Stream 13 laptop from Best Buy. It has a 13 inch touch screen, 2 GB of RAM, a 32 GB SSD, card reader, USB ports, and HDMI out port. It is running Windows 8.1. So far so good. I also bought a Netgear Range Extender to extend the range of coverage for our WiFi. It works amazingly well. Did I mention I bought a Raspberry Pi Model B to play around with? I also have a new wrist watch from Fossil. I love it.

Well, enough for now. I think it is going to be a great Spring. I’m getting refunds on my State and Federal taxes, my Social Security is coming in now, and I am on Medicare and a new medical plan with Aetna Blue Cross Blue Shield. All is well.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

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Freelancing

Since I have been retired I have been able to stay pretty busy. I recently started going back to the gym but there are still days when I find I don’t have a lot to do. So I thought I would give a shot at Freelancing and see if I could make a little money in my spare time.

One of my areas of expertise is web design, both with html5, css, etc., and using WordPress. But since it has been a few years now since I have really used those skills, besides creating our church website, I thought I needed to brush up on my skills. I found a website called Udemy which offers all types of online tutorials for reasonable prices. To see how it worked I bought one of their courses on sale. The course is ‘Create, Update And Manage Your Own Website With WordPress.’

Although I already knew much of the material covered, it did provide me with a few new things to try. One of them is creating an Image Gallery for a blog post. So I thought I would give it a try here. I hope WordPress.com has most of the same capabilities of my self-hosted WordPress site. Guess I will find out right now. So here is my attempt at an Image Gallery.

Where is Fall, and other things

As I write this it is the 5th of October. The daytime temperatures all week have been in the 80’s. Next week the daytime temperatures will be in the upper 80’s to 90. I wonder when Fall is going to finally make an appearance? Work has been hectic but I think things are going to settle down soon. I helped my brother Skip move the other day and I hate to say it but I feel kind of sorry for him. I don’t think he has lived in his own house since the days when he was married. He is finally moving out of the place where he is staying because he is trying to get away from his roommates. I moved most of his possessions to his new residence in just one truckload. He doesn’t seem to own much or have much furniture. His new roommate seems much nicer than the ones he used to have. This Saturday we are all going to meet at a restaurant in Virginia Beach and celebrate Skip’s 63rd birthday. It is hard to believe that all those years have passed. Anyway, I noticed that his TV is really old and beat up so Teresa and I bought him a new Magnavox 19″ Wide-screen HDTV LCD television for a birthday present and a housewarming present. It is not the most expensive TV but I think he will like it.

Church has been keeping me busy. I am involved in the technical aspects of moving our Sunday service into the 21st century with inspirational videos and projecting the lyrics of contemporary Christian music onto a screen for the congregation to sing along to. Our Fall bazaar is this weekend and I helped with the chopping of the vegetables for the brunswick stew that we will be selling. Teresa is contributing by baking a cake to sell at the bazaar. That’s it for now.

Gabrielle paying a visit

Tropical storm Gabrielle is paying us a visit here in Chesapeake,
Virginia. Gabrielle started out as a sub-tropical storm but has since
strengthened to a 50 mph tropical storm. The forecast path has kept
changing, first bringing her closer to us and then further away. This
morning the forecast is bringing her closer to us and it is starting to
become cloudy and windy. So I guess the next couple of days are going
to be interesting. About the best we can hope for is that Gabrielle
changes her mind and visits someone else.

Gabrielle