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November 26th, 2004

The advent season

"There are 1.2 billion poor people in developing countries who live on $1 a day or less. Of these, 780 million suffer from chronic hunger, which means that their daily intake of calories is insufficient for them to lead active and healthy lives".
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization 2002, FAO 1998 (from the StopHungerNow.org website)

I must admit that I have given up on our current government when it comes to making real progress. In this one, limited way I am in sympathy with folks who disdain all government but the basic schools, police, roads, and homeland security, on the grounds that government is just too clumsy a tool to get any real work done. So long as folks can be elected whose main goal is to ensure the success of a few large corporations, then government can become regressive again.

I've been reading this morning about Ray Buchanan, a Methodist minister in Raleigh, North Carolina, who
started an organization called Stop Hunger Now. Stop Hunger Now devotes its time to getting food to hungry folks in the third world.

As the holiday season begins, I want to do a few things that are not about getting to the mall at 6 a.m.,
listening to "White Christmas" (though I do love that song) and watching candles lit on top of candlesticks covered with holly. I think I can do a little bit to help, and I will.

Cross Roads, Texas

I went to my office first thing this morning. Prior to beginning work, I stopped in the Jiffy Lube nearby to get my oil changed. The fellows there quickly did the oil and vacuumed the floors, while a man
in the waiting area talked to me about the holiday. I worked a solid four hours, and then my wife arrived. We hit the road to Arkansas.

When we had gone a few dozen miles, she called my folks on the cell phone. As we all began to talk, we realized that that folks at home, having just been through a large family gathering, were in no real fettle for more company. We were in rural Texas, between Sulphur Springs and Mount Vernon, when all realized that another visit would be too much for all concerned. I exited at an exit for "Cross Roads", and began to drive back to Dallas.

On the way back, we saw lots of cows, but liked best the sparky brangus cattle. We saw a red-tailed hawk and a huge great blue heron. We stopped in Greenville, to tour the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum, a
regional museum which does a double feature of the WWII war hero turned movie star and the cotton economy of that part of Texas. The museum was small and well-done, with a variety of stories ranging from the professional baseball player who lost a leg but kept playing, to the first African-American woman in the county to earn a college degree, to cotton-material quilts and more details about Audie Murphy than one would imagine to exist. He was only 47 when he died in the 1970s--two years older than I am. He lived quite an interesting life, going from rural poverty to war to Hollywood. I had forgotten that it was James Cagney who invited him to move west and see if he liked the movie industry.

When I arrived home, I spoke with the kind 14 year old who looks in on our dogs. She had found a snake in her yard--a bit late for snake season, and quite rare in our neighborhood in any event. In her mind, the snake had become a poisonous copperhead, which would be an unusual timberwoods addition to our tract home on prairie locale. My wife went to speak with her parents, though, when the snake reassumed its shape as a simple local non-poisonous rat snake, now sadly departed. Snakes have a way of doing that. I remember that at about her age, I imagined that a snake I almost stepped upon trasmuted into an Arizona sidewinder snake. Snakes appear and transmute and the garter snake in the yard can turn into a cobra in the blink of an eye.

I was looking forward to seeing everyone, but now I'm looking forward to some rest.