Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ignorance Was Bliss

"Abner! 115 is throwing construction debris
in the dumpster again!"
It's been a year now since I've been working full time from home. During this time I've gotten much more familiar with the comings and going of my neighbors than I care to admit. I work facing the window looking down onto our condominium courtyard, and I fear I'm gaining a reputation as the resident Gladys Kravits.

I'm not on our Home Owners Association board, but I may as well be. The board members know they can call on me during the day when the cable guy needs letting in or someone reports a gas leak. As new residents move in, they get the mistaken impression our building has concierge service and they've taken to calling me day and night.

I don't mind helping out, I really don't. The only problem I'm facing with being more active in our HOA is this... the knowledge. I was much happier living here before I knew so much about my neighbors.

My philosophy of harmonious community life has alway been simple: obey the Golden Rule. The problem comes when you realize some people look at the Golden Rule as a sucker's bet. Their philosophy seems to be "See how much I can get away with before someone says something, then continuously test those boundaries."

I don't enjoy sticking my nose into other people's business. In fact, confrontation comes about as naturally to me as cunnilingus. I know plenty of people that seem to get off telling other people what to do. The problem is those are usually the kind of people we don't want on our HOA board.

Now a lot of my neighbors are great. But sometimes it's the nice neighbors who disappoint me the most. Like the sweet couple who moved into 371 nine months ago and have yet to make a single dues payment. Or the elderly widow in 188 whose hoarding puts her in constant avalanche danger.

Or the friend I helped vote to the board because I respected her integrity who is now using her position of authority to flout the bylaws for her own selfish interests.

As much as it repulses me, looks like I'm going to have to hold my nose and dive in.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Impressions Of Rome: Tourists

Rome is awash with tourists.

This isn't a complaint; that would be hypocritical. I was actually relieved to see I wouldn't stick out like a sore American thumb. You see, when visiting other countries I prefer to blend in with the locals.

Take Germany for instance. For formal events I wear lederhosen. Activewear consists of wurst-enhancing spandex bike shorts and a long-sleeve t-shirt. For all other occasions I default to skinny jeans or capri pants, depending on the season.

But there's no way I could impersonate the typical Italian. Despite any cost savings not having to buy socks, one Armani scarf would wreck my travel budget. Buying sweaters to carry around without actually wearing is just wrong on principle. And I don't think they even make silk pants larger than 30, even for men.

Thank Jupiter there where tons of American tourists dressed way worse than I was.

And the tourists were everywhere. "Look at those losers with their selfie sticks," I chuckled to JB. Only JB wasn't there. I turned back to find him buying a selfie stick. Il Sigh. If there was one silver lining to having a selfie stick, it completely weaned JB from his habit of stopping complete strangers to ask to take our picture.

Back off ladies, he's all mine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Once again I find myself at an airport bar standing by for a flight. This time I'm attempting to get to Rome. I probably don't need to clarify this for those of you outside of Georgia, but the Rome I'm aiming for is in Itally.

I've been preparing for this trip for two weeks, learning some basic phrases in Italian and researching the best places to eat. I'm on a diet again, so it's important that if I do eat gelato, it's the best gelato this planet has to offer.

I've never been to Rome (Italy) but from what I've read online, tourist traps abound. I'll be damned if I'm going to go all the way to eat crappy food made for Americans who don't know any better. Even though I'm an American that doesn't know any better. As far as my tastebuds are concerned, my Italian food experience begins at Little Ceasers and ends at Olive Garden.

Be that as it may, I'm determined to deport myself in Italy as if I were a worldly gourmand, wise to the ways of carpaccio  and cachio รจ pepe.

That's assuming I get on the flight. If not, you'll probably find me in Rome Georgia. At The Olive Garden.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Another Episode Of 'Fire And Rims Blown'

"Dozens killed in multi-vehicle crash in Peru" nytimes.com
It's been at least a year since I last shared selected crashes from my Church Bus Google Alert. Hardly a day goes by that one of these alerts doesn't land in my inbox.

Why do I do this? Because I'm tired of certain elements of the Anti-Gay Right trying to convince all who would listen that I'm engaged in a dangerous lifestyle, simply for being who I am.

I'm not doing this out of a sense of schadenfreude. I genuinely feed sad for every one of these people. I'm merely trying to point out that – if one tries hard enough – all sorts of "lifestyle choices" can be associated with an element of risk.

Not the least of which, apparently, is mobile Christianity...

[We begin with last night's crash in Georgia...]

15 members of Conyers church hurt in NE Georgia crash

May 29, 2015 | Fifteen members of a Rockdale County church were injured Thursday night when the van they were riding in wrecked in Stephens County in northeast Georgia. Channel 2 Action News reported that a group from Love & Hugs Christian Tabernacle in Conyers was on the way to a women’s retreat when a car hit the church van near Toccoa. Georgia State Patrol spokeswoman Tracey Watson said a Lincoln Town Car traveling southbound on Ga. 184 crossed into the northbound lane, hitting the van head-on.

Local Pastor Found Dead Underneath Church Van After Freak Accident

February 23, 2015 | HENDERSONVILLE, NC – An associate pastor at a Hendersonville church died Monday morning after a church van rolled over him as he was checking engine fluids... Investigators believe Lineberger put the vehicle in neutral gear to check fluid levels but did not apply the emergency brake, Vesely said. The van was parked on a hill in front of the church. When the van began rolling, Lineberger attempted to stop it by getting in front of it, Vesely said.

[Was the church van's name "Christine"?]

Collision between church van, dump truck sends 1 to hospital

May 27, 2015 CHESAPEAKE | One person was taken to a hospital this morning after a crash between a church van and a dump truck.

Church bus accident sends 8 to hospital

May 24, 2015 2:28 PM EDT | CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Eight people were taken to the hospital after a church bus collided with a car Sunday morning, according to Medic. The crash happened just after 1 p.m. on Belmont Avenue and North Myers Street in east Charlotte. The bus appeared to be from St. Paul's Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Preschoolers Heading to Hospital After Schuylkill Expressway School Bus Crash

May 21, 2015 | A bus filled with preschool children careened into a guardrail after hitting a pole along the Schuylkill Expressway Thursday morning, a passenger and officials tell NBC10.

The bus, carrying 24 children and six adults from Hope Church School in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, was traveling eastbound on the highway near the Girard exit when the crash happened around 10 a.m. The preschoolers were heading to the zoo for a field trip, a school official said.

Church van flips on I-95 near Florence

May 15, 2015 6:08 PM EDT | FLORENCE, SC - At least one lane of I-95 was closed for an hour after a crash near Florence with injuries on Friday afternoon. The crash happened around 5:35 pm on I-95 between mile marker 67 and TV Road, according to the SC Highway Patrol. The incident happened in the northbound lanes and involved a church van towing a trailer that overturned on the shoulder.

Arrest warrants issued for driver in deadly 1992 crash in Santa Ana

May 07, 2015 | SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County investigators are seeking the public's help locating the driver from a deadly crash in 1992 that left seven people dead. Arrest warrants have been issued.

One of the first responders described the scene as a morgue. It was one of the deadliest car crashes in Orange County history. Officers say a Chevy truck ran a red light ... hit a church van with 18 people inside, sending many of them flying onto the road.

'Jesus Saved My Life,' Says Survivor in Church Van Crash That Killed Three Christians

May 5, 2015 | NEW YORK - Three people were killed in a church van crash earlier this week. Four survived. The members of a small Seventh-Day Adventist church were leaving a church conference on the way to a retreat when their van was hit by another vehicle. Now, those who lived are looking at how—and why—they survived.

[Why was Jesus only able to save half of the passengers?]

Bus crash sends 7 to hospital in Brevard

May 03 2015 | COCOA, Fla. - Investigators said seven people were taken to the hospital Saturday night after a collision at State Road 524 and Cox Road in Cocoa in which a truck pulled out in front of the bus in which they were riding. Cocoa police said the bus was carrying high school-age youths from a church group in Fort Lauderdale. The bus was carrying more than 30 passengers.

Oklahoma girl, 17, killed in crash with church bus Sunday night

April 20, 2015 | NOBLE — A 17-year-old girl died in a collision with a church van, the Cleveland County sheriff reports. Morgan Smith, 17, of Lexington, died Sunday night near Noble. The wreck happened about 5:40 p.m. at the intersection of 72nd Street and Maguire Road.

8 die in Florida church van crash

Mar. 31, 2015 | MOORE HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — An overloaded church van ran through a stop sign, crossed all four lanes of a dark rural highway and nosedived into a canal, killing eight people and injuring 10 early Monday in southwest Florida, authorities said. The van was heading back to a church in Fort Pierce, north of West Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast, after a weekend convention in Fort Myers, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Feds arrive to evaluate Glades crash that killed 8

April 2, 2015 | The chances of National Transportation Safety Board agents working a traffic accident are one-in-a-million – literally. "There are 12 million highway accidents annually," says agency spokesman Peter Knudson, "and our teams investigate about a dozen." Monday's church van crash in Glades County is that one-in-a-million case.

[One in a million?? Obviously the NTSB hasn't been reading my blog.]

1 killed, 6 hurt in church van crash near Loris

March 24, 2015 | South Carolina - One person is dead and six others were injured in a crash involving a church van near the intersection of S.C. 9 and Highway 747 near Loris. Highway Patrol says about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the church van was heading east on Highway 747, when the driver ran through a stop sign at Highway 9. A pickup truck was heading north on Highway 9 and hit the van. The van flipped over.

Dozens Killed in Multi-Vehicle Crash in Peru

March 23, 2015 | LIMA, Peru (AFP) — At least 37 people were killed when a bus swerved into oncoming traffic in Peru on Monday, leading to a multi-vehicle collision involving two other buses and a freezer truck, the authorities said... Forty-two passengers on the Murga bus were members of a Christian evangelical church, the World Missionary Movement, who were returning from a convention in Lima.

Two Dead, Others Hurt, in Church Van Crash Near Mineral Wells

March 8, 2015 | MINERAL WELLS, TX – Two people died and six others were injured in a Friday evening crash between a car and a church van along State Highway 337 in Palo Pinto County. The head-on crash resulted in a fire. Seven people in were in the church van from Faith Center Assembly of God Church in Graham. They were on their way to an event in Waxahachie.

Pemiscot County crash kills one, injures nine

February 13, 2015 | One person was killed, and nine others were injured in a crash involving a church van in Pemiscot County Wednesday. The crash happened on Route U, approximately five miles west of Caruthersville, at about 7 p.m.

3 Atlanta church members remain in intensive care after rollover crash Tuesday near Fort Pierce

Jan. 14, 2015 | Three members of an Atlanta ministry remained in intensive care Wednesday, a day after a van carrying 19 people flipped over on Florida’s Turnpike near Fort Pierce... The members of Atlanta Restoration Ministries were on a mission trip to South Florida when the wreck happened about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to police... “It flipped, I think, two times and then it landed on the hood and it skid,” Tammy Jones told a TV news outlet.

[Finally, consider the priorities of Mississippi... While southern states try to discriminate against gays using public accommodations to protect the sensibilities of Christians, HB 132 would endanger everyone by allowing anyone to drive a full-sized, 30-passenger bus without a Commercial Drivers License – as long as it's a church bus.]

'Jesus Take the Wheel Act' passes House

February 5, 2015 | Mississippi - House members on Thursday passed a bill exempting mid-sized church buses from the state's commercial driver's license requirements, prompting one lawmaker to call it the "Jesus Take the Wheel Act."

The bill, HB 132, would help congregations lacking a CDL-certified driver transport up to 30 passengers in a church-owned vehicle. Although applying equally to all churches, it's primarily aimed at smaller congregations with fewer members and financial resources. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

[I'm happy to report this bill died in committee.]