November, 2008 - At this time of year you can see the semester at the university beginning to wind
down, and students make an effort to catch up on the things that they should have done in
September and October.  I always say that next time I will enforce deadlines (like in the real world),
but I am a soft touch and usually grant extensions - thinking that the main objective is to learn what is
required in each course.  In December I will say the same thing again - and someday I just might
follow through with my own recommendation.
The big financial bailouts that have dominated the news are, in my opinion, made necessary by
several years of greed that started with the average guy who wanted to keep up with his peers.  He
bought a home he couldn't afford, enough furniture to fill that very large home, and cars that were
like the ones his neighbors were driving.  He and they were enabled by lenders who couldn't resist
responding to their needs with unsecured loans offered with the thought that the bubble would never
burst.  Yes, the big guys walked away with millions, but it was the average citizens who got the ball
rolling for them.  Government regulators were either not paying attention or were getting kickbacks
to look the other direction.  
Our music building at the university was built in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration - an
idea of Franklin D. Roosevelt to help the country get back on its feet after the great depression.  
When he began his Presidency in 1932, there were 13,000,000 Americans who were unemployed.  
Our President Elect is already talking about the need for such programs to begin again.  I am
hoping that he gets enough cooperation out of the legislative branch of the government to make
some of these ideas work.   
I grew up with materialistic ideals - probably acquired from Hollywood.  They didn't come from my
father and mother, who were both very frugal and content with what they could own and purchase
without borrowing money.  They lived through the great depression and knew first hand the pain that
was part of that time in history.  When I moved out into the world things were looking up.  The
prosperity of the fifties and sixties made it easy to forget what had gone on before.  Fortunately for
me I never earned enough money to get me into the category of large homes and fancy cars, but it
was not because I did not desire those things.  My attitudes were changed slowly and radically
when I became involved with persons with developmental disabilities who had no knowledge of
material wealth.  They taught me the beauty of each person, and I finally figured out that this beauty
had nothing to do with money and possessions.  I regret that it took me so long to learn the lesson
that they were teaching, but I am forever grateful that their message eventually began to take hold in
my life.  One of my songs says it best: "I never owned a brand new Cadillac or the latest Mercedes-
Benz.  There were times I had the money, but I spent it on my friends.  Less is usually more; that's
where happiness begins.  I never owned a brand new Cadillac or the latest Mercedes-Benz."  The
line that says "there were times I had the money" probably means that there were times I could have
made the payments - not quite the same thing as "having the money".

November, 1979 - I can recall as a child wanting a certain toy and feeling that upon receipt of that
item, all of my problems would be instantly solved, and I would live happily ever after.  Such fantasy
is harmless in the minds of children, but I wonder how many adults we have in our society whose
contentment and self-esteem are dependent upon a new toy for Christmas?
A stroll through the average department store makes it quite clear that a large majority of the "toys"
are for the grown-ups.  The gadgets have become so sophisticated and in some cases so luxurious
that it is obvious that no one really needs them; but chances are this year's sales figures will exceed
last year's.  "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became a man, I gave up childish ways."
WHY NOT?  What if we stopped naming streets for birds, trees, and famous persons and began
"telling it like it is".  Have you ever been on Pollution Parkway?  How about Radar Road?  Gasoline
Alley? (no, that's bygone days).
On my way home each day I travel north on Looney Lane (where everyone drives like a maniac),
left on River Road (where you have to ford the creek in rainy weather), right on Backhoe Boulevard
(where everyone's work equipment is parked on the street), left on Safari Street (where no one
mows lawns), and finally another left on Childcare Circle, where we live.  (Two of those playing in the
street belong to me.)

SONG FOR THE SEASON:

The Lord comes in morning light.  The Lord comes in dark of night.
He comes wherever we may be - with love for you and me.

The Lord comes in wind and rain.  The Lord comes in joy and pain.
He comes wherever we may be - with love for you and me.

The Lord comes in word and deed.  The Lord comes in time of need.
He comes in work and play - with blessings on our way.

The Lord comes in silent prayer.  The Lord comes in friends who care.
He comes wherever we may be - with love for you and me.