Six Minutes and Twenty-Seven Seconds

For  6 minutes and 27 seconds my heart was racing, my muscles aching, my breathing was fast and deep.  

For 6 minutes and 27 seconds my legs propelled my body forward, my feet kept my balance and my arms kept the rhythm of the movement.

For 6 minutes and 27 seconds I didn’t think about all the tasks that wait for me at work today, the decisions that will change my life forever or the paths that have led me to this point.

For 6 minutes and 27 seconds my body was stressed, but my mind wasn’t.    My muscles were tired but my thoughts were free and focused on the task at hand.

For 6 minutes and 27 seconds I let go of all the worries and thoughts that put knots in my stomach and a pain in my chest.

I ran a mile as fast as I could and it took me 6 minutes and 27 seconds. 

Maybe I’ve run faster, for sure I’ve run longer, but for those 6 minutes and 27 seconds, I didn’t care about anything else.    It required too much effort to be distracted.

Only 1433 minutes and 33 seconds left to deal with today.

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Have you met my friend Obadiah?

“Call me Ishmael.”

With the exception of Herman Melville’s reference in Moby Dick,  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the name Ishmael used before – except in the Bible.   

You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know there are some pretty strange names in the Scriptures, and yet, there are some of the most common names too!   How is it that we’ve embraced some and neglected so many others?   

Let’s start with the first name mentioned in the Bible – Adam.  I don’t know many guys named Adam, but it’s certainly not unusual or strange.  As the first one of all of us, it seems fitting that his name would survive.  

Unfortunately, the first woman didn’t fare as well.  I only associate Eve with Christmas and New Years and feminine hygiene products.   The years have not been kind to Eve’s name and I can’t say I’ve ever met an Eve.      

Noah – Here’s a guy who ends up saving all of humanity by building a big boat, but his name didn’t survive the flood.  OK, there are a few Noahs out there, but with an easy going name like that, you’d think there would be a few more.

Abraham is a huge part of the Old Testament and it seems only Mrs. Lincoln found the name suitable in modern times.  I’m sure there are others, but even after being the Patriarch of the Jews, Muslims and Christians – He could only muster the 16th President for famous Abrahams.  

Isaac and his son Jacob – Two user-friendly names.  Now Jacob had 12 kids (actually 13, but most don’t count his daughter Dinah)  Of the 12 boys we did manage Joseph and Benjamin – Of course they were Jacob’s favorites, so maybe that had some bearing on their popularity.   Dan is popular enough, but he didn’t get much traction with Issachar, Naphtalia, Gad or Asher. Now I suppose there is something to be said for use of  Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun and Levi.   And what would we do without Judah?  Where would the Beatles have been without Hey Jude –  Well, pretty far I’m sure, but without Jude, we’re minus one Beatles hit. 

God didn’t do Jacob any favors when he changed his name to Israel.  Oh sure, he gets an entire nation named after him, but it’s so impersonal.  Even though I know someone named Israel, I have to believe there are way more Jacobs in the phone book than Israels. 

Don’t want to forget the ladies of these Patriarchs.  Abraham’s wife’s name was Sarah – very nice,  Isaac’s wife was Rebekah – we revised the spelling, but kept the spirit.  Jacob’s wife’s name was Rachel.  Jacob had to work for Rachel’s father for seven years to win her hand – that’s love! 

Don’t think I’ve ever met anyone named Moses even though he wrote the first five books of the Bible and led an entire nation out of Egypt.  Then he wandered around with them for 40 years in the wilderness and listened to them whine.  Perhaps the most popular figure of the Old Testament, but his name apparently got left at the parting of the Red Sea or the top of Mount Sinai.

Joshua (he took over for Moses) obviously had parents that were concerned about his legacy and gave him a popular name.  Even his friend Kaleb is gaining some ground in common name use.

But what about queen Esther?  Here’s a gal that becomes a queen, saves the entire nation of Israel from slaughter and no one found it necessary to name their kid Esther?  She must have had a dark side.

David – Powerful, impressive king and warrior and his name remains a staple.  I guess if you’re “a man after God’s own heart,” as David was said to have been, your name will always have top billing.

The wisest and richest man ever to live had it ‘going on’, but his name didn’t.  Solomon –  He really impressed the ladies with hundreds of wives and concubines, but apparently the ladies didn’t think enough of him to pass on the name.  That’s what you get when you’re a ‘playa’!

Not too many kids named Ezekiel, Nahum, Hosea, Obadiah or Micah – all prophets without legacy.  I think Elijah is a great name, and I know my brother had friend named Eli, but that’s as close as I’ve seen.

As much as we talk about the patience of Job, we didn’t feel a need to hang that name on our offspring.  Sounds like an old man’s name, doesn’t it?

I think we fare a lot better in the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are easy enough, though Luke is more of a middle name.  Luke wrote his Gospel to a guy named Theophilus.  That mention in the Bible did not win Theophilus any favors in the name game.

Peter and Paul – Solid.  Even though some find it necessary to rob one to pay the other, they’re both great names.  Then there’s Mary and Martha, one that worked too much, and the other that chose the ‘better’ things.  As many times as I’ve heard that story, I still get them confused – either way, both names survive for the working, overworked and the lazy.  

There’s no confusing their brother’s name – Lazarus – this guy get’s raised from the dead, but his name must have been buried in the tomb on his second death.

How ’bout the 12 Apostles.  There’s Peter, John, James (two of them), Andrew, Phillip, Matthew and Thomas – of ‘doubting’ fame.   Those eight names seem to have done pretty well.  The same cannot be said for Thaddeus and Bartholomew, and perhaps Simon.  

Then there’s Judas.  He ruined a perfectly good name with the ‘betrayal of betrayals’ and a suicide.  Let’s face it, calling your kid or anybody else, Judas is not really complementary. Jude – OK.  Judas – Them’s fightin’ words!

My confirmation name is Mathias – now that is a solid name from the New Testament!  I think I’m the only bearer of that name besides the original Mathias.

Then there’s Jesus –  What to do with this name… 

The world has been trying to decide about Him from the beginning.  “The Name which is above every name,” according to the Scriptures, and so it should remain. 

We don’t go around naming our kids Yahweh (Hebrew name for God), so it would seem Jesus would fall in the same category.   But somehow, if you’re from Mexico, it’s an acceptable name to use.  Not sure how that came to be, but it seems pretty common across the border.  I remember the first time I saw the name Jesus on a baseball card; I think I burned it.

There’s lots to be said about a name, but I think the Scriptures say it best, ”A  good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,…” Proverbs 22:1 

Hope yours suits you well!

I’m Old School, I Use the Door Handle

I’ve identified another generation gap/quirk between me in my 40’s and THEM in their 20’s!

I consider myself to be fairly ‘hip’ or at least ‘clued-in’ on the acceptable actions and inactions of the younger generation.  (Perhaps the fact that I use the words ‘hip’ and ‘clued-in’ are indicators that I’m not.  Whatever.)

Since I work on a college campus I see lots of young people daily and quite frankly, they’re really not much different than I was at their age.   Sure, they have way more gadgets, spend far too much time ‘gaming’ and texting, perhaps aren’t quite as healthy – but they’re a good lot.  They still love their mothers, study occasionally, skip a few classes, party Thursday nights and chase the girls (OK, the boys too!).  However, they’ve developed a peculiar action that I don’t quite…get.

They have a problem using their arms and hands to open doors.

I don’t know when it started, but it seems fairly recent – I’d say in the last three to five years.

Anytime they approach a door with an automatic handicap open button, they engage the device.  Every time.  Without hesitation.   They don’t even feign guilt and peer over their shoulders to see if anyone disapproves or if the coast is clear to proceed.

Oddly, I don’t sense any remorse from them for using a device that was obviously not designed with them in mind.  They just reach out, slap the round metal handicap disc and proceed as if entitled to this service.

Just the other day I had some young buckaroo walk in front of me and slap the disc on the locker room door at the gym.  At the gym!   At the gym!?  I know working out can be strenuous, but surely you’ve maintained enough strength to open the door to the locker room!

OK – maybe I’m making too big a deal out of this.  I mean, if there’s an electronic device available, why not use it, right?  We use escalators, elevators and moving sidewalks, why not electronic doors?

To me the automatic door is designed for handicapped people who are struggling to get through, and they’re the only ones authorized to use it.

There’s a handicap symbol right on the disc!  Surely that’s an indicator of who’s authorized to use it!

Of course, there is an exception to ‘you-can’t-use-that-because-it’s-marked-handicapped’ rule.  And that’s the bathroom.  I must admit, I will use the handicap toilet in a heart beat.  I don’t mean cutting in front of a guy waiting in a wheelchair, but if  it’s available…  (I consider a bodily function a temporary handicap – kinda like crutches for a sprained ankle.)

Slapping that disc is like cruising around in a wheelchair when you’re not hurt, or using the electronic cart at Walmart when you’re perfectly capable of walking.

We shouldn’t park in the handicap spots and we shouldn’t use the electronic door unless we are handicapped.

The whole thing borders on civil disobedience and I believe Ms. Manners would agree with me that it’s definitely a violation of etiquette.

Why not just reach out, grab the handle, open the door and proceed.  It actually takes longer to stand there and let that door open in super slow motion electronically, then it does to just use your God-given strength and open the door.

Go ahead, check me on this the next time you’re entering and exiting public buildings.  That familiar metallic slap on the handicap disc is not coming from a struggling pedestrian.  It’s coming from a  perfectly healthy 20 something (usually male) who somehow lost the ability to use his hands and arms to open a door.

Don’t get me wrong, love the 20 somethings.  But like the Tyrannosaurus rex, your arms can become very small when not used.  Despite massive jaws and huge legs, the lack of arm use can lead to shrinkage and eventually…extinction.   It happened to T. rex and I’m starting to see a small arm trend.

So let’s encourage the youngsters to use those hands and arms when opening those massive public doors and help save the next generation!

Use it or lose it!  I’m just sayin’!

Stop Sign Racing!

 

 I’ve got to get to the four-way intersection before any other car.  It may cause alarm for my passengers and perhaps panic in other drivers, but arriving at the stop sign before anyone else, counts as a win in the high-speed world of Stop Sign Racing.

It’s like finding the choice parking spot or getting a green arrow in the turn lane.   Arriving to the stop sign first allows you to proceed ahead of any other driver in the intersection.   And that my friend, is the ‘thrill of victory!’ 

It’s a $2 scratch-off lottery prize in the daily grind of the commute.

An obsession – nah.  It’s a challenge that presents itself along life’s journey and I try to rise to the occasion.  

Now everybody knows (or should know) that if two cars arrive at the four-way stop at the same time, the car to the right goes first.  But if the cars are approaching from complete opposite directions and arrive at the same time, then I don’t know  the rule, so what’s a driver to do? 

I suppose I could just glide to the stop sign at the same time as the other driver and figure it out when we get there.  Or, better yet,  why not just kindly waive the person who arrived SECOND to go ahead of me, thus showing how magnanimous I can be.

Well that’s all fine and dandy if you’re not ‘In It To Win It’! 

My goal is to never arrive at the same time as the other driver, therefore, there is no need for debate or rule recollection.

Now I ‘m not saying I’m always racing to the stop sign. In fact, I have given the victory lap to the loser, allowing them to proceed ahead of me.  But more often than not, if I arrive first, I’m going first!

I did develop one other tactic in my stop sign racing repertoire. It’s the ‘stop short’ technique.  Now, this is not the Seinfeld – Stop Short episode.  You know the one where Kramer is driving Mrs. Costanza back from the hospital, stops short and reaches over and puts his hands on her to stop her from lurching forward?  She of course, thinks Kramer is hitting on her.  (good episode!)  That may be a novel approach to making inroads in your relationships, however, my ‘stop short’ play is far more sinister. 

This technique involves stopping  short of the stop sign when another driver is approaching at the same time.  While you may not be quite to the intersection, you still technically maintain your status as the first one to stop at the stop sign.  Thus, winning the race.

Genius. I know.

It’s like moving the finish line BACK ten yards toward you so you can finish first while you’re still in the lead.

I’m not talking about five car lengths short, like you were trying to miss a sprinting Labrador.  I’m talking about  a half a car length short, that completely surprises your opponent, leaving him reeling and wondering how you beat him to the stop.   (The other driver approaching the intersection is your opponent, make no doubt about that!  I don’t care if  he’s 18  and driving a Camaro or if she’s 80 years old and can barely see over the steering wheel; if they’re approaching the four-way, it’s on!)

It is possible, though I’ve rarely witnessed it, that you could actually have three opponents as you approach the intersection. On those rare instances, you’ve got to keep the adrenalin in check, and not blow through the intersection; a Stop Sign Racing faux pas, indeed! (DO NOT attempt to go in reverse to re-set at the stop sign.  You’ve lost.  Don’t add insult to injury, just keep moving.)  

You’ve got to win the ‘four-on-four-at-the-four-way’ contest.  The problem is that the rule of ‘he on the right goes first’ will not apply with four cars at the intersection.  With four cars at the four-way, all cars are occupying a spot to the right of the other.  A clear winner keeps traffic moving, leaving the others to apply the rules.

So next time you’re out and you’re approaching the four-way – employ one of these two techniques to secure the victory:

1.   Accelerate to the intersection as you see your opponent approaching the intersection ahead of you.  Quickly stomp the brakes and skid to the finish line, thus arriving first.

2.   With your opponent arriving at what seems to be the same time as you, quickly apply the brakes well short (1/2 car length) of the intersection,  thus, stopping short and surprising your opponent with this stealthy move.

Either tactic earns you right to proceed (PARADE!) through the intersection, proving to all that you were FIRST to arrive at the stop sign!  You’ve knocked 3 seconds off your drive time, secured a victory and you haven’t even left your neighborhood yet. 

It’s gonna be a great day!