Tuesday, June 27, 2006


A friend passed away this past Wednesday. She was a wife, a mother and an inspiration to a whole community here in South Jersey. She was our pastor’s wife. To say that she was an inspiration to her would have made her blush. She would have shooed away such a statement and would have said that the glory is all God’s.

I know there to be truth in both arguments.

Her memorial service was held today. There were approximately 700 people that came to the service from all around the world. Lives that she had touched, people that she had met and shaped in some fashion along the way. In her life and in her family she put Jesus first – everything else fell into place from there. This is what I most desire for my family, as well; a Christ centered home. Her husband – our pastor and their children live for and shine for Jesus Christ. Bottom line. Their testimony is where the rubber hits the road for us – Christians, that is.

“God’s word means everything or it means nothing.” Our pastor said this at Sunday services. These words have echoed in my mind and heart. He is absolutely right. There is nothing clearer than this – it is black or white; no gray at all. The words of Jesus from John 14:1-3, “ 1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Christ’s words either mean everything in ones mind, heart and soul or they mean nothing.

“God’s word means everything to me.” Pastor said.

I remember first coming to Calvary Chapel in Vineland. Tammy was one of the first people that we met. I remember her as our Christmas Choir director. We all met every Thursday from September to December. It was a daunting task keeping everyone straight and on target but she did. The noises we made were joyful ones (at least that is my sincere hope). It was a time I will never forget. I remember how she loved her family – her children and grandchildren. She always lit up around kids or with a child in her arms. I remember how she loved her husband and how he loved her. The two were well met along the path, so to speak and made an amazing team. I remember how she reflected the heart and love of Jesus Christ in her life – it was palpable, real; one could sense it. What more can I say? There is nothing greater.

God called one of his children home. I celebrate her life and miss her presence here yet still John 14:1-3 rings true. A place was prepared for Tammy as soon as she accepted Christ as her savior and now she home. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Someone precious has been called home and, as one of her beloved grandchildren said, “there is dancing in heaven.”


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Assateague Island 2006

As a tradition in the Evil Chicken household, Father’s Day weekend is spent camping on the beach as Assateague Island, Maryland, with the wild ponies. It’s an wonderful spot in the world and you should, if at all possible, check it out. The wild horses of Assateague are ever-present and pose the interesting question, “where did they come from?” One theory suggests that early settlers, in an attempt to avoid taxation on their herds, let them graze on the wilds of the island. Another suggests that the ponies were marooned on the island during a shipwreck. Only time knows the real answer and its not talking. If you camp there be sure to lock up your food since they have been known to raid campsites and coolers for food. Currently it is a $250.00 fine to feed the wild horses – emphasis on the “wild.” They have been known to bite and / or kick the more curious tourist.

There are much more species of wildlife to take in while on the island. Pods of dolphins swimming off shore, birds, snakes, crabs, deer and, I would be remiss as to not include the Mosquito; are all more than plentiful here. If you are camping make sure that your site is ocean side with a good breeze to blow those little bloodsuckers off course. They are thick.

The island is most certainly worth the trip for it’s beaches. The kids and I spent the majority of our time getting slammed around by some pretty good pounders. It was a blast. If you surf, boogey board or kayak the waves you should check it out. The water quality is better than that of my home state of New Jersey and the waves are better too. This may be due to the lack of man made jettys that litter the Jersey Shore. It’s possible to make out ones feet in chest deep water in Assateague – that’s something that one cannot usually do here in Jersey.

The island is a national park and not touched by the touristy glitter that Ocean City, Rehoboth and the other barrier islands provide. Hey, Teddy Roosevelt knew what he was doing. If you are so inclined for experiencing the outdoors, have a head for camping and like seeing heart stopping sunrises from the beach, do yourself a favor and go to Assateague – you will not be disappointed. I'm already looking forward to next time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Return of the Time Lord

Last year the BBC struck up production on a new Doctor Who series. This set my geek heart to glowing. The original Doctor Who started in 1963. I started watching right after the third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee, regenerated. Growing up in the seventies Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor, was the one I was most familiar with. You know they guy – frizzy hair, long scarf? He and his companions would travel through time and space righting wrongs, dispensing justice and exploring the time stream. After Baker regenerated and Peter Davidson became Doctor number five, I still watched. I watched until PBS, the only station that carried it in my neck of the woods, dropped it altogether. I loved that show and, shock and awe, I still do.

The BBC waited a year to ship it to the United States to be broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was worth the wait. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth regeneration of the Doctor and Billie Piper plays his companion, Rose Tyler. It’s through Rose’s eye’s that a new generation of Whovians are introduced to the universe of Doctor Who. Rose is a contemporary young woman from South London. Seeing her discover who the Doctor is and what he’s about is pure frosting. The TARDIS the Doctor’s time/space ship is back with its damaged chameleon circuit leaving it stuck in the shape of a 1950s Police Box. Having the Doctor back has been delightful.

If you get it then good on you mate. If you don’t then you’ve probably stopped reading by now. Here’s an excellent site (http://www.drwhoguide.com/who.htm) for the history of the Doctor and his now 10 regenerations. Mr. Eccleston has left the show (I just saw it happen on the Sci-Fi Channel) and now the Doctor is on his tenth regeneration played by David Tennant. Rose is still his companion and I hope it stays that way for a long time.

The newest season has just finished up in England. That means the there is whole other season of new Doctor Who that has yet to reach American shores. It can’t happen soon enough for this fan boy. I loved Eccleston in the role but I’m looking forward to seeing Tennant do his thing.

Until the next season splashes across American television, may the face of Rassilon smile upon you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The End of War

"Only the dead have seen the end of war" – Plato

Who am I to speak of war? I have never been enlisted in any branch of the service and have never been involved in armed conflict apart from having an arrow shot at me once when I was younger. I have been blessed – I’ve reaped the rewards of living in a free society. I am a student of history (to a certain extent) and an active participant in the democratic process (I vote). I try to be conscious of what is happening around me. As of the writing of this particular article, I still live in a Democracy; one with free speech. Now I am aware that “Freedom is never free,” and that the life that I enjoy in these United States was purchased with the blood of many whom successfully fought for life and liberty. My father fought in the Korean War, my father in law fought in Viet Nam. I have friends who fought in the Gulf War and have others who were/are serving in Iraq. I have nothing but respect for them all. Battles hard won and lost; each preserving our existence – our ‘way of life’. You don’t have to go too far to run into honest to God heroes; chances are you may rub shoulders with quite a few yourself. Thank them. They do and have done a job that I wouldn’t want to do. I tell you this so you know where I stand when it comes to the people on the ground in this latest conflict; Iraq.

General William Tecumseh Sherman is credited with the oft quoted, “War is hell.” He knew what he was talking about. In an open letter to Mayor Calhoun of Atlanta and others dated just before his “March to the Sea” through the city of Atlanta (Sept. 12, 1864), he wrote, “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace." He wrote this letter in response to the city asking to be spared during wartime. Sherman knew what war was. He did not have to answer to any politically correct coercion from a populous with its heart in the right place sitting as far away from the frontline as possible. He knew that war was not pretty or glorious or that it could be sanitized and held to words such as “rules”. He knew the real answers to what war was death, gore, suffering, destruction; things that cannot and will never be sanitized.

Nor should they be.

General George Patton said, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton knew as well. You win wars by making people die. Bottom line. You either commit to do so or you shouldn’t go to war. General Douglas Macarthur said, “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” These generals knew the high price of victory.

What of human rights? War is a state of perpetual human rights violations – do not kid youself into thinking otherwise. The correct application of horror and fury will win a war. When an army or a people question this they are either in for a long indesicive ground conflict or a lost war. “There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu. He also said, “What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.” He too knew what he was talking about.

All this brings me back to Iraq. These generals are now part of our history; their actions shaped the world that we live in. I believe that their words mean something and are applicable to the times that we find ourselves in. You either bring war or you send a dangerous mixed message to the world and to your enemy. Anything else is a needless sacrifice of life in a prolonged conflict with no end in sight. If a state of war is conveluted then the perhaps the best thing to do is pull out the warriors and let the diplomats go in. It is impossible to have it both ways.

"Find the enemy and shoot him down. Anything else is nonsense." – Captain Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"), 1917

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Pilgrimage to Cabelas

Being from the Swamps of Jersey, I’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Fishing, boating, geocaching, exploring, hunting, inbreeding, – believe it or not, South Jersey’s got a lot to offer.

Just kidding about the hunting part. ; )

This past weekend the Evil Chicken 5 and some friends of ours made the pilgrimage to Cabelas in Hamburg PA. What’s Cabelas? Check out http://www.cabelas.com. If you do anything for earnest in the great outdoors then you probably already know; if not it is the outfitter for whatever expedition you may be planning; fishing, hunting, camping, boating, geocaching – whatever; if there is an adventure waiting to happen Cabelas can supply what you need. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for their corporation; it’s just a matter of fact. They are the premier destination for people who like to be outside.

The place is located about a mile away from the Appellation Trail and on a mountain in a Pennsylvanian valley. There’s a river nearby too. The place; it is immense. There is an aquarium, an African savannah full of appropriate taxidermies and the centerpiece of the store, “Conservation Mountain”, where more taxidermies are displayed in representations of their natural habitat. The different sections of the store are really something to see. The fishing section was easily as large as your average Boarders or Barnes and Nobel; that’s just fishing. That’s not too shabby. The same can be said for their hunting section. Camping is upstairs along with a restaurant and a home and outdoor art section. There’s a mock bush plane hanging from the rafters as well. Wow. The kayak section was pretty wonderful as too. They sell Old Town and Emotion kayaks as a general rule of thumb. The guy who worked in the department and I struck up a conversation about paddling. He knew what he was talking about and I could tell that he loved the sport. That’s refreshing since places like Dicks are usually staffed by moronic pubescent drones who have no passion for what they do other than putting in their time and cashing their paychecks. No passion for getting my hard earned dollar? No business from Evil Chicken – I don’t fund that, savvy?

Any way, I know this is sounding like a commercial but if you get the chance to go – do so. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Things to Do Before I Die

Many people have such a list – I’m no different. Oh some of my aspirations and dreams may be different than other people, but I’m not out of the ordinary. The following list is a work in progress and is dependent on many variables including time (off from work & with or without the rest of my family) and money (the root of all evil). Time and money are two things that I don’t have an abundance of. Oh well, as Mother Goose said, “if wishes were horses than beggars would ride.” Items such as being a better example of a Christian, being a better friend, father and husband are givens and not on this list. The following is my self indulgent and gluttonous wish list in no particular order…

1. Kayaking with whales. Yeah its nuts, but it’s also cool. Just knowing that a 10-ton animal is beneath you sounds pretty exhilarating to me.

2. Hiking the A.T. Just recently I hiked the NJ portion (Highpoint) of the Appellation Trail with two friends of mine. It was awesome. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do ever since reading, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson; who introduced me to the concept of “Through Hiking.” Although we only day hiked, my appetite has been whetted. I started a smooth rock collection on 5/20/06, the date I wrote on my first rock from the NJ portion of the A.T. Hey, I’ve only got 13 more to go!

3. Snorkeling across coral reefs and with stingrays. I love water – I grew up around the stuff. Most of the family would love this too.

4. Expedition to the Grand Canyon. One could spend a lifetime exploring this land; I wouldn’t mind donating a year or so to it.

5. Sea Kayaking. Maine, the Dry Tortugas, Lake Meade, the Thousand Islands, New Brunswick, the list goes on and on. Did I mention I love water?

6. SCUBA! Port Royal, NJ wrecks, the Florida Keys, the Jesus of the Deep and the Queen Anne’s Revenge to name a few.

7. I’d like to take the family through the lower 48 states, push up through British Columbia and onward to Alaska! Write about the whole experience.

8. Alaska. All one has to do is say the name and it conjures up images of the raw wonder of nature. If adventure had a state – it would be Alaska. Why not experience it with the wife and kids?

9. White water rafting. I’ve shot class III’s and IV’s, now I want to turn up the volume.

10. Rappelling. It looks like a lot of fun and is quicker than the elevator.

11. Spending a lot of time in Maine. Arcadia National Park – I’ve been there twice and there is still so much to explore; like the rest of the state. Awesome natural wonder.

12. Get published. I just might have to take matters into my own hands for this one. “Bonny, Read & Rackham,” has a nice ring; no?

13. Learn how to sail and navigate with the stars. I scrapped, polished and painted an 18-foot sailboat prepping her for open water during a six-month period of time. I never got a chance to sail her. I’d like to know what it’s like. I’ve been on day excursions on schooners but there is a difference between being a passenger and a participant. I want to participate.

14. Have a hand in making a film.

15. Fish like Ernest Hemmingway did down at the Florida Keys while tanked on a couple bottles of whiskey. Just kidding – I want to land a big fish off the keys. I think the girls would dig this too.

As I said, this is a self-indulgent, gluttonous wish list. Between you and me, I’ve got a heck of an appetite. The list is subject to change so please don’t confuse this list with goals.

What does yours look like?