Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Springfield and back

There was a small attendance at church on Sunday morning. The minister spoke on Kwanzaa. He also played the saxophone which the congregation bought for him. Following the church service, I went to the Agora Coffee House for the December Tulsa Atheist Meetup. The attendance there was about twice what it was at Restoration.

I believe we had 18 in attendance. We talked for about two hours on topics related to atheism. After the meeting ended I went to Monterrey's for a burrito.

Monday was a day of much piano playing. First, Gail came over to practice duets with me. Then in the evening Nick came over and he and I played piano duets for about an hour.

On Tuesday, we went to Springfield. On the way there, we stopped at Sandstone Gardens, just over the state line in Missouri. The place is essentially one huge room with interior decor items for sale: paintings, candles, furniture, etc. Once we got to Springfield,we checked in to the motel where we usually stay. For dinner we went to Ryan's.

The next morning we got up and headed back toward Sand Springs. We went straight to Keystone State Park, where I am the volunteer coordinator for the year-round walk. I got the book set up for the new year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Humanist Food & Fellowship

Yesterday, Jan and I went to see a movie, Jim Carrey’s, Yes Man. It was good for a few chuckles. This morning I got up early: 6:30. That’s early for someone who is retired. I read for about an hour and a half and then went back to bed. I went back to sleep and then we stirred around 11:00 am. We rushed to get ready for the Food & Fellowship being held in Tulsa. When we walked in everyone else was already seated. We were about 5 or 10 minutes late.

There were nine of us there. I figure that is a pretty good turnout for the weekend after Christmas.

This afternoon I went by the library, returned some materials and picked up other materials. I will never get all these books read, but I can look them over and decide which books I do want to read and which I will just skim.

We went by Sonic and picked up some food and brought it home to eat.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New music

Tonight I attended the Christmas Eve service at Sand Springs United Methodist Church. It was filled with music, a short talk by the minister, and a communion service. I might have been the only person to sit out the communion. I don’t know; I didn’t want to rubberneck to see what the others in attendance were doing (or not doing).

After the service was over, we went to Nick’s house and opened presents. Nick gave me several piano duet sheet music selections:

(1) Weekley & Arganbright’s Primo Progresses, which includes pieces by Kohler, Diabelli, Reinecke, Gurlitt, and Fuchs.
(2) Themes from Carmen by Georges Bizet
(3) Spotlight on Duets arranged by Bober, Brown, And Olson
(4) Three Sonatinas by Johann Baptist Vanhal
(5) Erik Satie: Pieces a quatre mains
(6) Tchaikovsky: 50 Russian Folk Songs

I am getting so much duet music that it is starting to get hard locating a particular piece when needed. I will probably set up a database with numbers to help me find music that I need. I already have a six-foot high shelf into which I have placed my sheet music by category.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Joplin waltzs and drumming

Today I went to my dentist, Dr. Fooshee. The hygienist cleaned my teeth. All was okay. I don’t go back again for six months.

Luke and Ayla spent most of the day here at our house today. I returned some books to the library. One book I renewed is The World in Six Songs.

In the evening, I went to Joe’s house for drumming. I took my keyboard with me and played a few songs for the group. Attending tonight were Joe and Lou, Marva, Joel, and myself.

Gail and I have a gig coming up on January 6 at Green Tree Assisted Living Center. We plan on playing a book of four Scott Joplin waltzs plus a few other pieces. I have ordered two books of ragtime music for duet piano which should be arriving soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Party Draws Record Crowd

Last Wednesday, I canceled the Tulsa Atheist Meetup originally scheduled at the Rib Crib on Sheridan for 7 pm. Several churches were canceling services for the evening, and hearing reports of snow in Broken Arrow, I thought the best course of action was to cancel and try again on another night.

On Friday I went to my optometrist whose offices are in north Sand Springs to pick up my glasses. My annual eye exam had been on Tuesday, Dec. 16. I had experienced flashes of light in my left peripheral vision. Checking the Internet, I read that could be a sign of a detached retina. I told my optometrist about the sensation of light. She dilated my pupils and a few minutes later looked into my eyes. She said my retinas looked fine, but if I noticed any change to come back for another exam. My prescription had changed very little from the last time I had my eyes checked.

I the past I had always got the no-line bifocals. This time I decided to go with the lined bifocals, just to see what they are like. I also asked for a copy of my prescription so that if I were away from home and needed a pair of glasses, I would have the prescription to have another pair made.

After leaving the eye doctor, we went to Saied’s Music Co. where a book of piano duets I had ordered had come in.

Late Wednesday evening, Jan was sick. I think she had a 24-hour virus. She spent most of Wednesday in bed. Friday night I came down with the same thing. I spent most of Saturday in bed.

Gail and I had missed our practice on Monday due to the icy conditions and had rescheduled for Wednesday. I called Gail Wednesday morning and told her Jan was sick and that we would have to cancel practice for that week. We had a performance coming up on Sunday. Then I came down with the same symptoms on Saturday. I spent all day Saturday either in bed or throwing up into a trash can. I did not know if I would be able to make it to the holiday party at the Bradleys on Sunday. But by the next day, I was feeling much better, although I felt tired.

Attendance was very good at the holiday party. At total of 24 showed up. There were a couple of people there I had not seen before. First we had the meal: turkey tetrazzini. Next Gail and I played three duets at the piano. Then The Secular Singers performed a half dozen selections, finishing with “To Celebrate HumanLight,” a piece based upon the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” In this song, instead of material objects being recited, the names of various heroes of humanists are substituted: Charles Darwin, Pablo Picasso, Watson and Crick, and so on.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today's adventures

It was another cold day today -- another day to be thankful to be retired. We ventured out just once today. First we went to Bank First and paid our property taxes for 2008. Then we went by the library and turned in two books, one of which was Bart Ehrman's God's Problem. There were two book waiting there for me to pick up: Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou and Time Traveler by Daren Simkin. The Simkin book was very short. I read it in one sitting. The Angelou book is actually a book on CDs.

Next we went to the bank where I cashed a few checks. From there we went by the bread store where we bought a loaf of bread. From there we went back home.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold weather moves in

Today we had our first real blast of cold weather. Both Tulsa and Sand Springs closed public schools. Many other small communities in the area did likewise. I had an appointment with my optometrist today, but the receptionist phoned me this morning and said Dr. Riggins would not be in. Gail and I canceled our piano duet practice for today. I was glad I was retired and did not have to get out into the cold.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Church services

Today I attended the service at Church of the Restoration. The minister, Gerald Davis, spoke. Attendance was around 16, I would guess. I didn’t actually count heads. The minister, his wife, and two children made up a quarter of the attendance.

The disaffected members who are still holding out were still holding out. Soon I expect we will find out what is to happen to the church. I would guess it might change to “fellowship” status. A fellowship is a UU church without a minister. The disaffected members account for the bulk of the income for the church.

This evening I went with Jan to the service held at the Methodist Church. It was an all music service. The Dobbs (Jennifer’s family) played in a brass quartet. They were the best act to perform. The bell choir was quite good, also. We noticed as we drove home that it was starting to sleet. I’m glad I am retired and do not have to get out and drive in such weather.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Herb's Funeral

Friday afternoon, we went to Herb’s funeral. It was held at Allen Freewill Baptist Church between here (Prattville) and Sapulpa. Herb was a deacon there and was quite active in the church. His pastor preached for about thirty minutes. A three-woman vocal ensemble sang two songs. We expect Mrs. Foust will sell the house and move into a retirement community. The pastor at the church was very upbeat in his message.

The next day, Saturday, I got a haircut at Rorie’s. I had left early to go by Wal-Mart and buy a fill valve for the hall bathroom toilet. Since I had only one item, I got in line for those purchasing ten items or less. Being around Christmas, there were plenty of shoppers there. I got in line. There were three people ahead of me. The man in front of me had his quota of ten items. Unfortunately, one item, a set of wrenches, would not scan. The clerk, obviously a new employee, called for a price check. After a wait of two minutes, I realized I would be late to get my haircut if I stayed around any longer. I placed the fill valve on top of a cooler filled with soft drinks by the checkout stand and made a beeline for my car. I made it to Rorie’s right at 4:00 pm.

After I got my haircut, I went back to Wal-Mart and the item I was going to purchase was still on top of the cooler. I picked it up and went to the back of the line. The store was so crowded that I had to park in the front parking lot near Warehouse Market.

I am presently reading God’s Problem by Bart Ehrman. In his discussion of the book of Ecclesiastes, Ehrman quotes two passages from the book and then comments on the advice:

This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of life God gives us; for this is our lot. (Eccles. 5:18-19)

So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun. (Eccles. 8:15)

This strikes me as some of the best advice to be found in any ancient writing. Even though there are people (lots of people!) who claim to know what happens to us when we die, the truth is that none of us knows, and none of us will “know” until it’s too late for our knowledge to do us any good. My own suspicion is that the Teacher was right, that there is no afterlife, that this life is all there is. That should not drive us to despair of life, however. It should drive us to enjoy life to the uppermost for as long as we can and in every way we can, cherishing especially the precious parts of life that can give us innocent pleasure: intimate relationships, loving families, good friendships, good food and drink, throwing ourselves into our work and our play, doing what we enjoy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I forgot to mention the fortune in my fortune cookie from our visit to China Star last night. It reads, “An interesting musical opportunity is in your near future.” I certainly hope the fortune is right.

Tonight I want to say a few words about a web site I discovered recently when Larry Hochhaus contacted me through the site. The name of the site is Do you ever wonder what books your friends are currently reading? What books do your friends plan to read in the future? You can sign up at and record your reading experiences. You can also rate the books you read. There are many aspects to the site, which you can discover on your own. One interesting thing is you can record how much of the book you have read and see a bar graph showing you your progress in the book.

I want to encourage all my friends to take a look at Good Reads.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Herb passes

Today we had Luke for most of the day. Luke is the kind of child that requires a lot of attention.

In the afternoon, soon after Luke went down for a nap, the doorbell rang. It was Darlene from across the street. She informed us that Herb Foust, our next door neighbor, had died on Monday. He was 89 years old. He has been our next door neighbor ever since we moved here in 1986. He was a retired housing contractor. In fact, he built our house as well as the one he lived in.

His first wife, Louise, died in 2000. A while later he married Ruth. We went by the funeral home following my walk to view the body. Then we went to China Star for dinner.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Greentree and Walgreen's

This morning I went to Greentree Assisted Living Center and spoke with Kathy about Gail and myself playing duets there for the residents. I was thinking we might play a Christmas program for the folks living there, but Kathy said their activities calendar was filled up for the reminder of the year. She suggested we make it sometime in January. So we settled on Tuesday, January 6 at noon. If the experience proves beneficial, we might make our visits there a regular occasion.

I was hoping they had a grand piano as they do at a similar facility (The Parkmoor) in Springfield, Missouri. Instead they have a Roland digital piano. The advantage of the Roland is that it never needs tuning, which can save a lot of money over the years.

I assume we will be playing while the residents dine. This should provide a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere for our performance. The focus of the diners will not be on us but on dining and conversation with their neighbors. Gail and I will provide the background ambience, you could say.

This afternoon we went shopping. First we ate lunch at a new place in Sand Springs called Crusin’ Burger. The building used to be a Captain D’s. I liked the place better as a Captain D’s than what it is now. Then we went to Walgreen’s and shopped for Christmas. We bought a “guitar” for Luke. It is a toy shaped like a guitar with buttons you push to get various sounds (produced electronically). For Ayla we bought a toy cash register.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Duets performed

Last evening I did a 5K volkswalk in Jenks. The walk went east on Main Street and then through and around the recently built shopping center on the river. The path crossed under the bridge and went past the aquarium. Then it followed the Creek Turnpike until we reached the railroad tracks. From here we went north until we reached Main Street. I stopped here and took some pictures. (See yesterday’s entry.) In the background you can see the sign for Tedford Insurance Agency. Jan worked here for a few years. As I reached into my jacket pocket to get my camera, I noticed that one of my gloves was missing. I knew I had two gloves when I started. Somehow one came out on the walk. I figured I would never see it again.

After taking a few pictures, we continued on back to the building where the start point was. Inside were all kinds of treats. Meats and crackers and fruit and cakes and cookies, etc. Furthermore, there was a table laden with gifts. Dorothy Brown had purchased several items from the dollar store to give away. Dorothy has a heart of gold.

I was enjoying my plate of food when another walker entered the building. He held in his hand my missing glove. He said the police officer along the route had found it and figured it must belong to one of the walkers. What a stroke of luck!

This morning Jan went with me to Church of the Restoration on North Greenwood Ave. The service was led by Rosemary Powell. Her topic was “’The Spirituals Project’ – History, Value, and Purpose.” I learned that the NAACP has an official anthem which is “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” I don’t recall having heard it before. I think I will introduce it to The Secular Singers next time we meet. Gail and I played two duets, “Sedona Sun” and “Majestic Grand Canyon.” We did well, I thought.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Volkswalking in Jenks

This picture was taken on MainStreet in Jenks this evening. Next to me is my five-year old granddaughter, Ayla (who has a fascination with flashlights).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Some thoughts on the destruction of Jericho

I had heard the story of the “walls come tumbling down” many times in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. Like in so many other stories in the Bible which I heard growing up, I identified with Joshua. I could see myself as Joshua or one of his army. It was not until later that I was able to identify with the people of Jericho.

We talk about this incident as if it were an actual occurrence. It may or may not have happened as the Bible tells the story. Jacob Bronowski in his book The Ascent of Man writes, “But did the walls come tumbling down? We do not know. There is no archaeological evidence on this site that suggest that a set of walls one fine day really fell flat. But many sets of walls did fall, at different times. There is a Bronze Age period here where a set of walls was rebuilt at least sixteen times. Because this is earthquake country.”

What is important is not whether the walls fell down when Joshua sounded his horn. What is important about this story is the injustice dealt to the people of Jericho. Does the Old Testament character by the name of God actually think he did the right thing by having the army of Joshua pillage and lay ruin the city of Jericho? What did the citizens of Jericho do to deserve being slaughtered? Yes, even the infants were killed. Is that right? What about the commandment that says “Thou shall not kill?” Does might make right? What would you do if you were convinced that God wanted you to harm another person?

This is just one incident where God dispossesses people from their land. The Old Testament is filled with similar injustices. The Israelis were convinced that they were the “chosen people of God.” The very idea that a God would choose one people over another gives the lie to the idea of God being a “just” God. Would a just God play favorites? Would there be winners and losers? Think of how much death God is responsible for in the Old Testament.

Whenever I hear the story of Noah and the Ark, I no longer imagine myself being inside the Ark but outside with the 99% plus who perish. My empathy is with those who perish for being essentially in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Recent happenings

I had a visit to my doctor last Tuesday. I have had a rash under both arms for three months, at least. The doctor said I have contact dermatitis. (Jan said he was wrong. She thinks the rash is caused by a virus.) He suspected it might have been caused by the underarm deodorant I have been using. He suggested I stop using deodorant for one week and see what happens. So as of last Tuesday, I have forgone using deodorant. A nurse also give me an injection in my left hip.

That evening I went to Joe’s for drumming. Lou was not feeling well and did not participate. Also not feeling well was Marva, who was also absent. Eric did not show up. So the group consisted of Joe, Joel, and myself.

Next day, I went to the credit union and withdrew enough money to cover our property taxes for the year. I then drove to the bank and deposited the check in our checking account. On the way back home, I stopped at Papa Pat’s truck parked on the parking lot of the old Wal-Mart. Papa Pat sells smoked meats out of his custom built truck (looks like an RV). I took the sandwich home and ate it.

In the afternoon, I drove to nearby Sapulpa and went to the Dollar Tree store there. My cousin Vicki, who lives in Houston, started a Christmas tradition a few years back. We each go to a dollar store and buy ten items for each other as Christmas gifts and put them in a stocking. We have been doing this for ten years now.

The next day, Wednesday, I walked a couple of miles at TCC and came home and got ready for Gail who came over around 3:30 to practice once again. (We had previously practiced on Monday.) We have a performance at Restoration this coming Sunday. We will be playing “Sedona Sun” and “Majestic Grand Canyon.” Both pieces were written by Melody Bober.

Gail and I have talked about playing for the residents at Greentree Assisted Living Center, which is located about a mile from my house. I phoned the Center today and spoke with a lady whose title was something like “Life Enrichment Specialist” (not the exact title, but close) and told her that Gail and I would be interested in playing duets for the residents there. I told her I would come in tomorrow and look the place over.

I walked three miles at the Fitness Center this afternoon while listening to a CD of music by Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December calendar

December 2008
Activities of Interest to Freethinkers

Sat., Dec. 6, 7:00pm
Movie Night at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th St.
Movie selection: TBA

Wed., Dec. 17, 7:00 pm
Atheists Meetup Mid-Month Social Gathering. Venue: Rib Crib, 5025 S. Sheridan Rd.

Sun., Dec. 21, 6:00pm
HumanLight Celebration at home of Randy and Dawn Bradley, 6705 E. 54th St.

Sat., Dec. 27, 11:30am
Food & Fellowship at Te-Kei’s Asian Restaurant, 1616 S. Utica.

Sun., Dec. 28, 1:00pm
Atheists Meetup at Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center.

Questions? Call Randy at 622-6975 or Dan at 798-3629.

Secular Singers, Humanist Study Group, and Liberal Action Network will not meet in December.
The HumanLight Celebration takes the place of the monthly third Sunday meeting.

Book quote

I am presently reading a book by Bart Ehrman titled God’s Problem. From the book jacket we read, “For renowned Bible scholar Bart Ehrman, the question of why there is so much suffering in the world is more than a haunting thought. Ehrman’s inability to reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of real life led the former pastor of the Princeton Baptist Church to reject Christianity. In God’s Problem, Ehrman discusses his personal anguish upon discovering the Bible’s contradictory explanations for suffering and invites all people of faith—or no faith—to confront their deepest questions about how God engages the world and each of us.” The following quote is about the destruction of Jericho.

How are the Israelites to conquer such a well-fortified city? Simply by following God’s instructions. Joshua is ordered to have the warriors of Israel march around the city’s walls once a day for six days. On the seventh day they are to march around seven times, and then have the trumpets blown, and “the walls’ll come a’-tumblin’ down.” They do so and it works. The walls fall, the warriors enter the city—and they murder every man, woman, child, and animal in the city (with the exception of the prostitute Rahab and her family). A complete and resounding victory (Josh. 6).

Anyone interested in the problem of suffering might wonder, of course, about the inhabitants of Jericho. For the God of Israel, these were foreigners who worshiped foreign gods, and so were fit for nothing but destruction. But one might want to think about all the innocents who were murdered. Is this really what God is like, one who orders the slaughter of those who are outside his people? It is not as if the people of Jericho were given the chance to think things over or turn to him. They were all slaughtered, even the infants, in a divinely appointed bloodbath.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On churches

At church today, Church of the Restoration UU, to be more precise, there were not many people at the Sunday morning service. The Music CareRing did not meet this morning. Not counting the visitors from the speaker’s church, I would guess we had no more than ten in attendance. The church is going through hard times and may not survive. Should it fold, I will be without a church to attend.

Today was a day without the minister. In the pulpit was Rev. Ron Robinson. His message was titled “Advent, A Third Place, LivingRoomChurch.” (No spaces between those last three words.) Ron is a community organizer in North Tulsa. Everyone who works for the church has outside incomes to support themselves. His church is located in the worst part of Tulsa. It’s in the skid row part of town. His church is part of the Christian faction within UUs.

I had no other meetings today. Jan brought Luke and Alya home from the Methodist Church, and they spent the afternoon with us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Secular Singers

This picture was taken at Gail's house this afternoon. There were seven of us getting ready for our annual HumanLight celebration which will take place at Randy's later this month. Shown in this photo are (L to R): Dan, Randy, Steven, Gail, Marilyn, Bea, and Ray.

Black Friday and Good Friday

We made a trip to Springfield, Mo. on Tuesday to visit my parents and my sister, Paula. We noticed that additional apartments were being built at The Abbey. When the apartment complex is finished it will be in the shape (more or less) of a circle. I did not take my GPS receiver or any geocaching sheets since we just stayed overnight and returned home the next day. Traffic was not bad traveling to Springfield, but it was heavier coming home.

While in Springfield we ate first at the Golden Corral, and for lunch we ate at Red Lobster. A breakfast was provided at the Arbor Suites where we stayed.

Today was Black Friday – the day when merchants sell enough to go “into the black” on their ledgers. It is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year. This is not to be confused with Good Friday, the Christian holiday. It strikes me that the two names should be reversed. Black Friday should be the day when Jesus was crucified, and Good Friday should be the day when merchants reap large sales.

I usually stay in on Black Friday, but today I wanted to order some “business” cards for TAM. We made a trip to Office Depot where I ordered a thousand cards. On the way home we stopped at McDonald’s, and I used another of my Free Big Mac cards. Then we went to Books-A-Million in the same shopping center. The bookstore just recently opened at the new Tulsa Hills shopping area. We spent well over an hour looking at the books there. Jan bought a few books for the grandchildren.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God's Problem

It has been about a week since I have last posted anything on this blog. Sometimes I get so busy with activities that I neglect to keep this record of my activities updated.

We had a Food & Fellowship last Saturday at a place that used to be a Rib Crib. On the way to the Rib Crib, Jan received a call from Marilyn who was already at the location. She said it was no longer a Rib Crib, but was now some kind of diner. Eight of us found the location. One member drove around looking for the Rib Crib and not finding it went back home. Anyway, eight of us found the diner and went inside to have a meal together.

Sunday morning I went to church. There was once again a small crowd, maybe 15 at the most. During the candle lighting part of the service, one member got up and lit a candle for each of the missing members. The split in the church weighs heavily on the hearts of the remaining members. The split occurred during the time I was away recuperating from my hospitalization. The special music on this day was provided by Gayle Williamson. The Music CareRing did not meet.

Today Gail came over and we played some duets. We have two gigs coming up. First, we have the HAT Movie Night at which we will play “I Saw Three Ships” and “Silent Night.” In a couple of weeks, we will be the special music at Church of the Restoration. There we will play two pieces for piano duet by Melody Bober: “Sedona Sun” and “Majestic Grand Canyon.”

This evening we attended the community Thanksgiving service which was held at Broadway Baptist Church in Sand Springs.

I have been reading a book which came out earlier this year by Bart Ehrman. The title is God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer. I don’t understand how any thinking person with empathy could read just the first chapter of this book and continue to call himself or herself a Christian. If anyone reading this is a Christian, please read the first chapter of Ehrman’s book and let me know how you respond.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I wrote a letter to Nancy Pelosi last night at the Liberal Action Network meetup. I urged her to investigate the corruption of the Bush years in the White House. I would have hoped others would have joined me in this cause, but unfortunately, no one else showed up. I sat at a table in the east part of the library, and putting pen to paper, wrote my letter.

I arrived about a quarter to seven and departed about a quarter after eight. After I finished writing my letter, I browsed the stacks. I checked out eight books (mostly music books), so I did not come home empty-handed.

While there I talked to a librarian who used to work at Pratt Library – Becky. I had not seen her in quite a while. We chatted a while, and I got caught up on her family happenings.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A cold walk

Last Friday, Jan and I ate at Cracker Barrel. I had won a drawing sponsored by the walking club and the prize was a $25 gift card to Cracker Barrel. We had a nice meal, and with the remaining money I got some chocolate covered peanuts.

The next morning, we did the November volkswalk at Turkey Mountain. It was COLD. The temperature was in the upper thirties. To make things worse, the wind was blowing about 20 MPH, with occasional gusts of 30 MPH. After the walk, we went to McDonald’s, where I used a gift card for a free Big Mac. We had picked up our son before we went on the walk. He and Ayla went with us. Nick is a vegetarian and could not make use of a card for a Big Mac.

Next morning, Sunday, the Music CareRing was in charge of the service at Church of the Restoration. Gayle brought his flute and we all made music for about an hour. I played piano and Ken played guitar.

That afternoon we had the November HAT meeting. Barbara, who had been at Restoration, rode with me to the Hardesty Library. We had 14 people at the meeting. (Details will be posted on the HAT blog.) Afterwards, I took Barbara back to her apartment. She lives on the twentieth floor of University Towers. I had left my jacket there the night of the election. Once again, I got a good view of Tulsa. The downtown was to my right; the river to my left.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blood donation

Yesterday, I got a haircut at Roary’s. Afterwards, I went to TCC West to walk. I noticed that the Red Cross van was parked outside. When I went indoors, I saw that a blood drive was going on. Since I had not donated blood since my surgeries in January 2007, I decided to make a donation. It took about an hour and a half to go through the entire process. After sitting in the “canteen” for ten minutes, drinking orange juice and eating cookies, I moved to the fitness center and walked two miles. I came home and watched news, showered, and went to drumming at Joe Price’s.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Minister plays the sax

Attendance at church today was 15 to 20. There was a lot of joy among the “parishioners” with the outcome of the presidential election. A group of members pooled their money and bought Gerald (the minister) a saxophone, which he played today. It had been a number of years since Gerald had played the sax, but he sounded pretty good on it today.

For the special selection today, I played piano and Ken played guitar. Gwen sang “What a Difference a Day Made.” Was this a reference to the recent presidential election?

After church I gave Barbara a ride to her apartment. Her daughter had driven her to church. From there I went on over to Randy’s. At Randy’s, we listened to a Point of Inquiry broadcast. You can hear POI episodes at

When we left Randy’s, Bob, Marilyn and I met at Panera Bread for a discussion of people who might fill the vacancies in TAM for next year. We came up with a few names of people we felt might be good officers.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Activities 5-8 November

On Wednesday evening, I went to drumming at the Prices. It was just Joe, Lou, and myself. This was my first time to attend drumming since Oct. 8. I told of my trip to Mountain View, Ark., including the mountain music and geocaching.

On Thursday evening, I attended session 8 of “Reading Shakespeare Aloud.” It seems each week the workshop is attended by fewer people than the week before. All of the men have dropped out except for myself. We read five scenes from various Shakespeare plays this night. Next Thursday will be the final night for the workshop.

On Friday, Jan went to Dr. Coggins for a routine check-up That evening we watch our favorite TV shows: NOW with David Brancaccio and Bill Moyers Journal.

Today I went to the BOk office in the Food Pyramid store on Peoria. I met Bob there and we transferred the TAM treasury into his name. Marilyn was also there. Marilyn and I will serve as second signatures on checks written from the account. Following this, we went to the Schusterman-Benson Library for the Nation magazine discussion group. Attending were Marilyn, Jan, the two Larrys and myself.

This week I have been building a database of sheet music I have. After typing in the titles from 11 books, I have reached 1,359 titles.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Watch party

On Monday, Gail came over and we practiced piano duets for almost two hours. Then in the evening, Nick came over and we played duets for about an hour. I got in about three hours of piano that day.

On Tuesday, I drove Jan to her eye doctor, an ophthalmologist, whose office is near Hillcrest Hospital. When she came out, her eyes were dilated and she had to wear shades for the rest of the day. This evening, we went to Barbara’s apartment to watch the election returns. Barbara is 83 years old and is an old-time liberal. She still remembers FDR and speaks of him fondly. She was so glad Obama won the presidency. She felt an enormous relief to learn that Obama won.

Each of us brought some food to the watch party. Besides Jan and myself, there was also Barbara’s daughter Lori, Randy and Dawn, and Marilyn, and Barbara’s next-door neighbor. Barbara lives in a high-rise apartment building on the 20th floor. There is a great view of downtown Tulsa and the Arkansas River from her balcony.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I don't too often check my blog at Liberal Action Network, but tonight I noticed a comment had been posted there. The poster had wanted to post it under my personal blog, but could not do so. Therefore, I am posting the comment below:

To Dan Nerren,Sorry to post this comment on the wrong blog, but I could not find any place to comment on your "Dan Nerren" blog. I just wanted to let you know that in your post about your visit to Siloam Springs, you wrongly described JBU as affiliated with the Church of Christ. In truth, JBU is not affiliated with any denomination, but is an interdenominational Christian school. Always has been since its founding in 1919. I know, I work there. Would you please make a correction to your blog post so as not to confuse your readers? Thank you for your consideration.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Day of the Dead

This Saturday I met with Kenny Nipp at The Hideaway Pizza Parlor at 3pm. We talked about current affairs in TAM while we each ate a Cobb salad.

That evening we went to Randy and Dawn’s for Movie Night. Gail was away so we skipped with the piano playing and went directly to the movie. We watched Silver City.

Today I went to Church of the Restoration UU. I got there around 9:30 am and played piano while Ken and Gwen sang. We played several songs and decided upon “Unforgettable” as the special music for the service. The theme of today’s service was “Day of the Dead,” a celebration of Mexican origin. We decided that “Unforgettable” was an appropriate piece for this service. Those taking part in the service brought with them photos of deceased relatives and got up and spoke about their departed loved ones.

Then this afternoon, I attended a TAM meetup in which we discussed some problems we have been having and how to resolve them. The meeting lasted two and a half hours and went well.

November Freethought Schedule

November 2008
Activities of Interest to Freethinkers

Sat., Nov. 1, 7:00pm Movie Night at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th St.
Movie selection: TBA

Sat., Nov. 8, 2:00 pm Secular Singers, meet at Gail’s house, 4630 S. Victor Ave.

Sun., Nov. 9, 1:00pm Humanist Study Group at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th.
We will listen to and discuss a Point of Inquiry podcast.

Tues., Nov. 11, 7:00 pm Liberal Action Network at Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center.

Sat., Nov. 15, 7:00 pm Atheists Meetup Mid-Month Social Gathering. Venue TBA

Sun., Nov. 16, 1:00pm HAT monthly membership meeting at Hardesty Library.

Sat., Nov. 22, 11:30am Food & Fellowship at The Rib Crib, 6902 S. Lewis.

Sun., Nov. 23, 1:00pm Atheists Meetup at Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center.

Questions? Call Randy at 622-6975 or Dan at 798-3629.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Today we voted

We voted early today. We had to go to the Election Board offices on North Denver Ave. Lots and lots of people were there to vote. It took us 45 minutes from beginning to end.

I had my portable CD player with me and listened to the beginning of lecture 3 by McWhorter. I voted a straight Democratic ticket in all elections.

After we left we went to the Fitness Center at TCC. There we walked for two miles, and I listen to the reminder of lecture 3 and all of lecture 4. We then returned home.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I just returned home from Central Library where our Reading Shakespeare Aloud workshop got together for our 7th session. There are just two more sessions to go until the end. Tonight we read scenes from Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It.

Earlier today, I took my car, a 1996 Saturn, to Robert’s Auto Upholstery and had them replace the headliner. The headliner is the cloth area – what might be called a ceiling in a building. The job was really needed badly as the headliner had tears in it and had come loose in the rear.

This morning Jan and I went to the Fitness Center at TCC West and walked three miles (Jan walked two miles.) While I walked I listened to two lectures on CD by John McWhorter on The Story of Human Language produced by The Teaching Company. I checked the CDs out of the Tulsa Library.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our day with Luke

My son, Nick, called early this morning around 8:30 am. When you are retired, it is often the phone which wakes you up. However, I think I was already up when he called. He said he was bringing Luke, his son, over for a few hours. This was by pre-arrangement and so was not a bolt out of the blue.

Jan had said she wanted to take Luke to a Pumpkin Patch and found a listing of them in the newspaper. I selected one at a United Methodist Church in Owasso to go to.

But before we went there, we went to the McDonald’s at Tulsa Hills, a new shopping center located at 71st St. and Highway 75. As I might have mentioned in a previous blog entry, we walked in to the restaurant recently and was handed a fistful of business-card sized coupons for a free Big Mac. Some radio station was there promoting the new McDonald’s. I got a free Big Mac – the first one I have eaten in years. I usually get a Filet-O-Fish or a McChicken at McDonald’s. We bought Luke a Happy Meal. He is a pretty good eater.

After lunch, we headed for Owasso, probably about twenty miles away. Owasso is northeast of Tulsa, but is close enough to be considered a suburb. The First UMC church was having a Pumpkin Patch to raise money for missions. There were a couple hundred pumpkins scattered over the land. Also, there was a maze constructed out of bales of hay. Jan bought a pumpkin. We let Luke roam over the area, and then we all got in the car and drove back home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vacation to Mountain View, Arkansas

We are back from another vacation. This time we went, first, to Springfield, Missouri and visited with my parents. This was on Tuesday, Oct. 21. The next day, we took my sister, Paula, with us on our trip to Mountain View, Arkansas. On the way down we stopped at three locations and searched for and found three caches. Going to Mountain View is like going back in time. The closer you get to Mountain View, the steeper and windier becomes the roadway.

The first cache was at the theater where a Russian-born comedian performs his show. His name is Yakov Smernov. That may not be the exact spelling, but it sounds like that. The next cache was on the grounds of the visitor’s center outside of Harrison, Arkansas. The third cache was high above the Buffalo River. This cache required a half-mile hike to get to.

While in Mountain View we attended two evening mountain music performances. Both were excellent shows which lasted two hours each. On the afternoon of the 23rd, we went through the crafts village. The village has about 20 buildings, each with some kind of craft activity going on inside. There is a blacksmith shop, a broom making shop, a musical instrument shop, a woodcarver’s shop, a candle shop, a print shop, etc. On the grounds of the park are various activities going on. We came upon a group of musicians playing the hammered dulcimer, violin, and guitar. We spent some three or four hours there.

After seeing the display of quilts Friday morning at the quilt show, we headed back toward Springfield. We also found three or four caches in the area.

On Saturday morning Jan and I drove to Cassville where we did a 5K volkswalk in the morning. The walking club hosted a picnic lunch. That afternoon, we headed to Arkansas, where we did another 5K volkswalk at Lost Bridge near Garfield.

Then we headed back toward Sand Springs, stopping first at a catfish restaurant in Siloam Springs for our evening meal.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recent events

It has been several days since I have updated this blog. I will quickly summarize recent events.

10/3 - Ate breakfast at Panera Bread hosted by Kimberly; got haircut at Rorie’s; saw movie Religulous that evening at Circle Cinema.

10/4 - Attended Movie Night at the Bradleys where we watched Uncounted.

10/5 - Took part in the OCCJ March in downtown Tulsa; attendance was 1,100 people according to Tulsa World.

10/6 - Played piano duets with Gail; went to Mosaics class at Waterworks.

10/7 - Took CVI tests at St. John Medical Center for two to three hours. CVI stands for Cardio Vascular Imaging. My doctor said everything appears normal.

10/8 - Went to drumming at Joe Price’s.

10/9 - Went to fourth session of Reading Shakespeare Aloud.

10/11 - Did volkswalk on west bank of Arkansas River in morning; held Secular Singers rehearsal in my house that afternoon. Attending were Randy. Bea, Larry Roth, and myself.

10/12 – Went to Humanist Study Group at 1 pm; met with Kenny Nipp and Bill Dusenberry at Hideaway Pizza at 3:30 pm to discuss TAM.

10/13 – Opened checking account for TAM; went to Mosaics class that evening.

10/14 – Due to Agora closing early, I had to change the venue for Liberal Action Network to Royal Dragon Restaurant. Small turnout with only two present – myself and Marilyn. I wrote to state senator Nancy Riley and U.S. senator Jim Inhofe and asked for a reply. My question was: Do you think Houses of Worship should be allowed to endorse political candidates and retain their tax exempt status?

10/15 – ALGAE luncheon was held at White River Fish Market at 12:30 pm. At 3 pm, Dr. Coggins removed skin tags and I got a flu shot; that evening we had the Atheists Meetup mid-month social gathering at Te-Kei’s. Attending were Bob and Susan, Karl and Sonia, Bob Hooper, David Harrington, and myself.

10/16 – Attended session 5 of Reading Shakespeare Aloud at Central Library.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I went to two meetups yesterday. First, in the morning there was an atheist meetup at Panera Bread on 15th Street. This was the first morning meetup that I recall attending. Nine people showed up for it.

Then in the evening, we had a meetup to see the new Bill Mahar movie Religulous. It was a great movie. When it comes out on DVD, I plan to buy a copy. Following the movie, we (there were 14 of us) went out to have a late meal at The Local Table.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October 2008 Activities of Interest to Freethinkers

Fri., Oct. 3, 7:00 am
The Breakfast Club with Kimberly Burdick will hold its inaugural meeting on this date. The primary purpose for this Atheists Meetup is to provide an opportunity for those whose work schedule keeps them from meeting with us at other times to be a part of our group.

Fri., Oct. 3, 7:30 pm
Group viewing of “Religulous” at Circle Cinema. Will go out for food following the movie.

Sat., Oct. 4, 7:00pm
Movie Night at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th St. Movie selection: Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections. This documentary shows how election fraud changed the outcome of the 2004 election and led to even greater fraud in 2006. The documentary reveals how easy it is to change election outcomes and undermine election integrity across the U.S. Running time: 80 minutes.

Sun., Oct. 5, 2:30 pm
OCCJ March. Join the 2-mile march which starts at 322 N. Greenwood. Enjoy barbecue afterwards.

Sat., Oct. 11, 2:00 pm
Secular Singers, meet at Dan’s house, 4925 Spruce, Sand Springs

Sun., Oct. 12, 1:00pm
Humanist Study Group at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th. We will listen to and discuss a Point of Inquiry podcast.

Tues., Oct. 14, 7:00 pm
Liberal Action Network at Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center.

Wed., Oct. 15, 12:30 am
ALGAE luncheon at White River Fish Market, 1708 N. Sheridan. This is the final weekday luncheon of the year. Note the new time.

Wed., Oct. 15, 7:00 pm
Atheists Meetup Mid-Month Social Gathering. Venue TBA

Sun., Oct. 19, 1:00pm
HAT Monthly Membership Meeting at Hardesty Library, 93rd and Memorial. Brain Hill will review the book Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter.

Sat., Oct. 25, 11:30am
Food & Fellowship at Lanna Thai, 7227 S. Memorial.

Sun., Oct. 26, 1:00pm
Atheists Meetup at Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center.

Questions? Call Randy at 622-6975 or Dan at 798-3629.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tulsa State Fair

Today we went to the Tulsa State Fair. Even though new parking areas had been built, there were few spaces left by the time we arrived. We had to walk about a quarter mile from where we parked. There was a lot to see and do at the fair. Improvements have been made to the fairground since the last time I went there. I’m not sure when I last went to the fair, but I would guess it has been seven or so years, give or take one or two years. Well, let’s just say it has been 5 to 10 years ago.

I like to sample the food at the fair. The food is overpriced, but what the heck, it’s only once a year. We ate some French Fries made from sweet potatoes, a strawberry smoothie, a funnel cake, kettle corn, and maybe another item of two I have forgotten about.

We did not go for a walk today, but I’m sure we got in our walking at the fair. Many businesses had an area set up promoting their products. There were so many vendors at the fair that I’m sure I did not see them all. But then you can look at only so much of that stuff before your eyes glaze over.

We got back home in time for the evening newscast. I got two pieces of pizza from the fridge and zapped them in the microwave. Tomorrow HAT has a Food & Fellowship meeting at the Royal Dragon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Piano tuner and Consumer Logic

On Wednesday morning the piano tuner came by and tuned my piano. She worked on the piano for an hour. The fee was $98.

That evening, I went to my drumming circle. We played several rhythms, but we also talked a lot. I would say we spend as much time chatting as we do playing rhythms.

Today I took part in a survey conducted by Consumer Logic. I had to show up at 7:00 am at the Fontana Center. We got started by 7:30. I signed a confidentiality statement and am not allowed to talk about what I heard or did. I can say that it involved current ongoing litigation. We broke for lunch around 11:30 and resumed at 12:30. At a quarter to 5:00 we were dismissed.

We started the day with pastries and juice. For lunch, Jason’s Deli brought in sandwiches. It was a most interesting day. I heard several presentations. The speakers all kept my interest. I was afraid I would get sleepy in the afternoon, but I did not. Perhaps the cool temperature did the trick. We listened to two speakers in the morning and two in the afternoon. There were about 30 of us participating in the survey. At the end we broke into three teams of 10 each and discussed the case. As we left, each of us was given a check for $200. Not a bad day’s pay.

I had time enough to come home, take a shower, eat dinner, and get down to the Central Library at 7:00 pm for my “Reading Shakespeare Aloud” class. Traffic is terrible downtown with the new BOK Center now open. Justin McKean is the leader of the class. Attendance was down from last week. There were, I would guess, 15 people there last week. Tonight there were just nine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Piano and Mosaics

I had an appointment with my doctor yesterday, so I had to shift my duet practice to the afternoon. All went well at the doctor’s office. I go in this morning for blood work.

Gail came over around 2 pm and we played piano together until 3:30.

I went to my mosaics class at 6:30 pm. I completed most of my project. The next step is cleaning up the surface of the piece, which involves soaking the head of a q-tip in vinegar and wiping it on the tiles which have adhesive on them. My project is a panel with my house number on it. The numbers are made of dark blue tile. The background is light blue tile. The border is dark green.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meetings today

Today I went to church at Church of the Restoration. Patrick Burke was the lay leader for today. Patrick began his talk with a joke, which goes as follows:

A fellow was sentenced to prison. After being processed in, he noticed every once in a while someone would shout out a number and all the inmates would laugh. Upon inquiry, he was told that inside prison there are a limited number of jokes. Instead of telling jokes, each joke has number. An inmate shouts out a number for the joke and the other inmates react.

“81,” cried out one inmate. The other inmates cracked up laughing. “29,” hollered another inmate, and again the place broke out in laughter.

The new inmate decided he would give it a try. “54,” he hollered.

Silence was the only response.

“I don’t get it. What went wrong,” said the inmate.

The other inmate said, “I guess some people just don’t know how to tell a joke.”


Following this meeting, I gave Barbara Frye a ride to Hardesty Library where we hold out HAT meetings. We had 14 there today. I might add some details of the meeting to the HAT blog tomorrow, but as of right now, I need to get some sleep. I’m still exhausted from walking six miles yesterday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Volkswalking and Geocaching in Siloam Springs

Today we made a trip to Siloam Springs. The town straddles the Oklahoma/Arkansas border south of Joplin. While we were there we did two volkswalks and found three geocaches. The first walk we did was at Natural Falls State Park. The course took walkers to a waterfall about 30 feet high. There were two walks available: a 5K and a 10K. We walked the 5K course. Nick and Jen and Luke and Alya also drove to Siloam Springs. We all walked together. After this walk, Nick, Jen, and Luke returned to Sand Springs. We kept Ayla and took her on the walk in Siloam Springs. She was very excited by the hunt for the geocaches.

In Siloam Springs the course for today once again presented the walker with the same two options as before. Once again, we opted for the 5K course. It felt like we walked more than 5K, but we might have been fatigued by the previous walk.

The walk passed by John Brown University, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ. One of the largest buildings on campus is the Cathedral of the Ozarks. I was able to walk into the foyer of the facility, but due to locked doors, I could not enter into the sanctuary. However, I could see the sanctuary through the glass windows in the doors. I was surprised to see on the stage a grand piano.

While in Siloam Springs, we searched for and found three geocaches. The first was outside the town museum in a sorghum mill; the second was in a cemetery; the third was in a fake sewer access point. Between the two 5K walks, we found a steakhouse where we ate our lunch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday activities

Last Thursday evening, I participated in day one of a nine-day workshop entitled “Reading Shakespeare Aloud.” The leader of the workshop is Justin McKean, who has been doing this kind of thing for quite a while. I met Justin at the Atheist Meetup a few months ago. He had a one-man show titled “Born Again Yesterday,” which played in Tulsa a while back.

Somehow I heard that he was putting on the Shakespeare workshop, and I signed up for it. The first night of the nine-week workshop was last Thursday. I read somewhere that the workshop started at 6:30 pm, but it turns out that it started at 7:00 pm. There were 27 people who signed up for the workshop, of which about half that number actually showed up for the first session. Justin talked about what we would be doing, which could range from reading a play on stage aloud to smaller groups reading various scenes from the plays. He also said we might read some sonnets. So it seems wide open as to what we will be doing. He wants to get a feel for the group before making any suggestions.

Justin gave us some history of the Globe Theater in the 1580s and 1590s. Then we took a close look at a passage from Romeo and Juliet after we broke out in small groups of three and four. We each read the passage (“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks.”) to our small group. Justin had to leave early since he was performing at The Nightingale Theater at 8 pm. So we broke for the evening around 7:45.

This morning we went to the annual Greek Holiday at the Greek Orthodox Church at 13th and Guthrie Ave. We got in line for the food, a la carte style. I had Greek potatoes and a chicken stick. Jan had a gyro. We went in to the sanctuary and heard the priest, Bill Christ (rhymes with grist), talk about the building we were in. The ceiling is circular and represents the heavens. The lower portion (with earth-tone carpet) represents the earth. He pointed out various icons on the walls. He said where he stands when he gives his sermons is between the icons of the birth of Christ and the resurrected Christ. On the ceiling was a drawing of Jesus. Around Jesus were the four “gospel writers” of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The room was filled with iconography.

We returned home after spending about two hours at the Festival. We then went to Riddle’s Plant Farm. Jan bought some mums and a rose bush. Jan next sent me to K-Mart where I bought six 40-pound sacks of topsoil. As I was returning home I heard the car start making a noise which sounded just as if I had a flat. I pulled over and got out to take a look. All the tires were inflated so I got back on the road. The faster I went, the worse was the noise. Fortunately, I was within a mile of my house when all this developed. I crept home going about 5 miles per hour. As I drove past Jordan Willis, about a block from my house, Jordan yelled out “You’ve got a flat.” I stopped once again but all the tires were inflated. Jordan took a closer look at my right rear tire and saw where the tread had separated from the rest of the tire. At every rotation of the tire the loose tread would hit the wheel well, causing the noise.

I made it home and called AAA to change the tire. AAA came out and put on the spare. I drove over to Wal-Mart to get two new tires, but was told they were booked up for the reminder of the day.

I have a busy day planned for tomorrow. I guess it will be Sunday morning before I can get the new tires I need.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oklahoma City trip

As we drove into Oklahoma City, a light rain was falling. We drove directly to the Oklahoma City Art Museum, which is located in downtown Oklahoma City. We drove around a little looking for a place to park. We found a space about a hundred feet from the door. Admission to the special exhibit, Roman Art from the Louvre, was $12 per person. We paid and went on in. The display was quite large and included 184 works. Many were rather large, with one weighing more than 3 tons. We saw many busts of Roman emperors, sarcophagi, mosaics, and fresco paintings. Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and Caligula were three individuals represented by statuary. We spent two hours viewing the displays before departing for Sand Springs.

We got back to Sand Springs about 5:30, just in time for the evening news. We watched the news and checked e-mail.

Next morning was Sunday and we got ready for Church of the Restoration in Tulsa. I usually go at 9:30 and make music with other members of the Music Care Ring. We usually practice a piece to perform in the service and spend the reminder of the time singing and playing songs from “The Real Little Ultimate Jazz Fake Book.” The book contains over 625 songs in “fake book” style. When we arrived at the church we found it locked up. I got out my cell phone and called a member of the Music Care Ring and learned that Ken was out of town and the music ring would not be meeting that day.

Jan and I decided to go out to McDonald’s for breakfast. We had just gotten back into the car when my cell phone went off. I didn’t recognize the number and answered the call. My speakerphone was on, so the voice of the caller was broadcast throughout the car. Jan was so disturbed by the call that she took my cell phone away from me. I don't know when or if I will get it back.

We went back to the church, arriving shortly before the beginning of the service. Our minister, Gerald Davis, sang the special music for the service. And then he gave the sermon. Early in the service, we have a time for lighting candles for our joys and concerns. I lit a candle on behalf of Bill Moyers and his televison program, Bill Moyers Journal.

The next day, Monday, Gail came over to practice piano duets with me. We are working on a difficult piece right now. It is Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens.

That evening I went to my mosaics class at Waterworks Art Studio. I began my project, which is a set of house numbers I hope to place on my house, assuming the project turns out okay.

Tuesday we went grocery shopping, and today, Wednesday, I had a luncheon with some friends at the White River Fish Market around noon. I had planned on going to drumming, but drumming was canceled due to some of the members being sick.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our trip (continued)

Friday afternoon, after we had finished looking at the model trains, we walked east up Oklahoma Street, stopping in at one of the shops which cater to tourists. I was very thirsty and just happened to see a sign indicating that the shop sold cold drinks. We went inside and browsed around, and I inquired about the cold drinks. They had some canned soft drinks, and I asked for a Dr. Pepper. I was handed a can of dr. Pepper and gave the clerk a one dollar bill, a fair exchange since I was quite thirsty. My first choice of drink, in that situation, would have been a Gatorade or a similar “sports drink,” but I was not particular.

We walked outside the store and sat down at a table with two chairs. Jan mentioned that there were several gift items in the store and that my mother has a birthday coming up soon (October 21). After I finished my Dr. Pepper, we went back into the store, and I looked around for a while. I settled on a wooden Chinese dragon carved from wood. It is about a foot long and has a tongue which when glued in place extends a couple of inches from its mouth. If it could come to life, I’m sure it would be a real fire-breather.

We put our purchase in the car and drove on in search of the banjo museum which was on up the street. It turns out the museum was closed on that day. We returned to our rooms at the Redstone. The Redstone is a pretty nice place to stay. B & Bs are everywhere in Guthrie. There are just a couple of disadvantages with the Redstone. First, the rooms have no telephones, but what with everyone having cell phones these days, that’s no big deal. Secondly, the Redstone is not hooked up to cable. Our TV was able to pick up a signal from a CBS affiliate, so I watched the CBS Evening News. (My preference is NBC Nightly News, but I could not seem to get a good signal for the NBC station.)

We had our evening meal at a restaurant by the name of Granny Had One. I’m not sure what the reference is to, but judging from the illustration accompanying the name, it might be a wood-burning stove. Whatever it was, we had a great meal there. We both had the chicken special. It was something like chicken Montreal, but that may not be exactly the correct name. It was chicken something with the second word being the name of a city starting with M. It was smothered in a sweet sauce (dark) with pecans on top.

Jan and I do not watch a lot of television, but Friday nights is our big TV night. There are two shows, both on PBS, that we try to not miss on Friday. The first is NOW with David Broncaccio. The second is Bill Moyers Journal. Moyers’s program dealt with the shooting in the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and the possible relation to hate speech on right-wing talk radio/TV. One parishioner was killed and others were wounded. It turns out that the shooter had books by right-wing fanatics at his residence.

The following is a description of “Rage on the Radio” copied from the Moyers website:

What happens when America's airwaves fill with hate? BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a tough look at the hostile industry of "Shock Jock" media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nation's political discourse. The JOURNAL traveled to Knoxville, where a recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy. "A lot of people are hurling insults from the safety of television studios, the safety of radio studio, the safety of cyberspace," says Rev. Chris Buice, "So that's a void in our community — the chance to be in the same room and to have these exchanges and remember the humanity of the person on the other side."

The program can be viewed on the Internet by clicking on the following link:

This brings me to the end of Friday. The next day, despite the weather, (a tropical depression was moving through the state), we drove to Oklahoma City. I will pick it up there when next I post something to this blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Back from vacation

We have been on a short vacation. We left on Thursday for Guthrie. It takes only about and hour and forty-five minutes to get over there going at a relaxed driving speed. We drove over to Stillwater, and then went by way of Perkins over to Guthrie. We checked in to the Redstone Country Inn where we had made reservations for two nights. That evening we attend the play “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Steven Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for this play. It is a mapcap comedy set in Rome two thousand years ago, or so. We had front row seats. They even had a small orchestra for the musical.

The play did not start until 8 pm, so we ate dinner before curtain time at the Hunan Palace one block to the north.

Since the play did not start until 8 pm, it was getting late by time it had finished. We walked back to the Redstone, which was just one block away.

In our suite of rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bath), we soon hit the sack. Next morning, the first of our two wonderful breakfasts was brought up to our room. We had a leisurely breakfast and then around 10 am we walked to the trolley stop to board the trolley (actually just a bus made to resemble a trolley). The trolley takes you around the various tourist attractions in the town. Most of the attractions are homes that were built a hundred or so years ago. Our driver was the garrulous sort who loved talking about his interest, which includes the local high school football team and the value of property when it was built, (his wife works for the country government real estate office). He drove us by what was easily the largest structure in Guthrie – the Masonic temple.

The tour lasted about an hour with the driver pointing out about twenty points of interest. When we got back, we went geocaching. I had printed four cache sheets before departing on our trip. We found the first three win little difficulty. When we saw the location of the fourth (in weeds with poison ivy), we decided to skip it. The three caches we found were located (1) near a restaurant attached to the bottom of a fence, (2) in a cemetery (this was a virtual cache), and (3) in a notch in a wooden fence in a park.

Later that afternoon, we visited the train station. It was formerly used by the ATSF Railway, and was a busy place in its heyday. Now there is a restaurant and a model train museum located there. We ordered a pizza, and afterwards walked through the model train display. The operator turned on the trains in each of the six layouts in the large room. Various scales were used, going from the largest O gauge, down through HO, N, and finally Z. The man who operated the museum was very friendly. I told him I had recently retired from BNSF, and we swapped stories about railroading and being in the hospital – he for a heart operation and myself for a brain tumor.

This looks like a good stopping place for tonight. Tomorrow I will tell about buying a birthday present for my mother, visiting the banjo museum, Granny Had One, watching Now and Bill Moyers Journal, and touring the Oklahoma City Art Museum.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Frosty Troy and more

Tonight instead of going to my drum circle, I went to All Souls Unitarian Church to hear the state’s best known liberal – Frosty Troy. Frosty said that corruption is the worst he has ever seen it. He spoke to the crowd for a little more than an hour, and I think he spoke without notes. Frosty is the former editor of “The Oklahoma Observer”. I have been a longtime subscriber to the Observer. Frosty is one of my heroes.

Just prior to his talk, a music program was going on. There was a group of musicians playing various instruments – violin, flute, bass, guitar. They reminded me of Peter, Paul, and Mary. They have some kind of music at All Souls in the evenings on Wednesdays. In fact, they have a lot of things going on at that church all the time

Last Sunday I went to All Souls Church since Restoration had no service account the All Souls service being a recognition of the combination of the All Souls congregation with the New Beginnings congregation. The leader of New Beginnings (formerly called Higher Dimensions) is Bishop Carlton Pearson. Pearson founded Higher Dimensions and grew the congregation to a megachurch. Then Pearson came to the conclusion that God was too good to consign anybody to hell. He gave up the idea of hell in his theology and lost about 90 percent of his congregation.

The remnants of his congregation met at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa for several months. He came to All Souls and preached to an overflow audience about a year ago. His sermon was excellent, although it did contain some God-talk. But that does not bother me like it once did.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Bishop Pearson’s congregation agreed with All Souls to share the same building on South Peoria. I don’t know any other details of the arrangement.

After the Sunday service I spoke with Patrick Burke (a member of Restoration), and we wondered what effect the combination of the two congregations would have on Restoration.

There was a meal provided on the lawn following the service – barbecue beef, potato salad, green salad, bread, etc. I saw Barbara Frey (a member of HAT) there who had just recently returned from Michigan, where she had gone for the summer. She had stayed along the eastern coast and spoke of taking part in a ceremony honoring her brother who had died a few months ago.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Brain surgery, Classic Rock, and Mosaics

As many of you are aware, I had brain surgery in January 2007. From time to time, I have to get CT and MRI scans of my head to see if the remnants of the tumor are growing back. I had MRIs and CTs done this past Tuesday at St. John Medical Center. The doctor said everything appears to be “stable.” No growth was evident, so I am good for another six months. After I have scans next March, I will go on a yearly schedule.

Tomorrow night will be “Movie Night” at the Bradleys. Gail and I plan to play “Classic Rock,” a duet piece written by Eugenie Rocherolle, or Jeannie Rock n’ Roll, as we like to call her.

Next Monday evening, I start a class in Mosaics taught at Waterworks Art Studio. I have been wanting to take up mosaics for a long time. I have several books on the subject which I have collected over the years. Now I will finally get some hands-on experience.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Recent meetings

Our humanist chapter met twice this week. On Sunday, August 17, we met at Hardesty Library for our third Sunday membership meeting. There were 14 people in attendance at this meeting. Randy spoke about purchasing a tent for tabling purposes, but no action was taken on the matter.

Randy next read a poem by William Blake: "Auguries of Innocence." We don’t hear the word “auguries” used much anymore. It means “omens” or “portents.”

For my part as Secretary and Treasurer, I reported that we have $1588.61 in the treasury, and the membership total is now 27.

I read two selections for my contribution to our literary reflections time. The first was written by Kenneth C. Davis and was from his recent book American’s Hidden History. The second was written by comedian Lewis Black and is found in his book Me of Little Faith.

It seemed that many of the fourteen present had much they wished to talk about this day. We were engaged in lively conversation until someone made the observation that Brian had a program to present. Brian showed a portion of a 4-hour PBS special on Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis.

On Saturday, August 23, once again 14 people showed up for Food & Fellowship at Helen of Troy on South Lewis. (It was the same gang of 14, with the exception of four.) We had Greek/Mediterranean food. Some of us were surprised to learn that Bob N, had a new tattoo on his upper left arm. I say some of us, because with 14 people lined up at one long table, those on the north end of the table might have missed out on what was going on down on the south end.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Library dedication, etc.

Wednesday was a busy day for me. I did three things: attended the dedication of the new Kaiser Library; joined the fitness center at Tulsa Community College (West campus), and attended the drum circle at the Price house.

The library dedication lasted 45 minutes – not quite the two hours Jan had predicted. The event was larger than I had expected. It was held in the gymnasium of the new community center. The library/community center is all under on roof. One strange aspect of the dedication was the tree watering. A small tree (maybe six feet high in a planter) which is normally at the entrance of the library was moved into the gym. Inasmuch as it is associated with a library, the tree was referred to as “the tree of knowledge.” In the story of Adam and Eve, there is also a “tree of knowledge” (of good and evil), from which grows the forbidden fruit. The symbolic watering of the tree was a way of indicating a hope for the nourishment of the tree. Someone remarked that the complex was to serve the whole person: the library will serve the mind; the community center the body. Did anyone else, I wonder, think of the connection to the Garden of Eden story?

There were many people at the dedication, maybe two to three hundred. I recognized many people at the gathering. Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor was there, along with former Tulsa mayor Bill LaFortune. (The library was built on the grounds of LaFortune Park.) Speaking at the event were Richard Bales (park director), Fred Perry (chairman of the county commission), Bob Dick (a former county commissioner), LaVerne Ford Wimberly (chairman of the library commission), Bonnie Henke (president-elect of the Tulsa Library Trust Board), Bill LaFortune, and Linda Saferite (head of the Tulsa City-County Library).

Funds for building the Community Center came from the Vision 2025 tax; funds for building the Kaiser Library came from private donations. Among the donors contributing to the building of the library is the Humanist Association of Tulsa. The words “Humanist Association of Tulsa” appear on a plaque near the entrance to the library.

Entertainment at the dedication was provided by a band featuring a steel drum. Steel Around is the name of the band. They played several songs including “Yellow Bird,” and “Brown-Eyed Girl.” Refreshments were served, also.

In the afternoon, we went to the TCC campus and joined the fitness center there. We had to have a picture ID made and then pay the fee to use the facility. We then returned home and I took a nap. We returned to the fitness center later in the afternoon and walked for thirty minutes. The walking track is above the basketball court and circles the court. Several exercise machines are available to use. Down on the basketball court were several people attending a lecture of some kind with a powerpoint presentation.

In the evening I attended my drumming group at the Price house. Craig (former drum circle member) called while we were there, saying he may be back with more stories of his adventures.

Monday, August 04, 2008

American history and religious conflict

I read the following today from a new book by Kenneth C. Davis, America's Hidden History.
The proverbial eight-hundred pound gorilla sitting squarely in the center of this story is religion, or more precisely, centuries of blood shed over beliefs. The degree to which religious conflict has driven America’s history is a central theme threading through this book. Several of its stories illuminate one of history’s most fundamental lessons: people fear what they don't understand -- or what is different. That fear moves in tandem with the arrogant superiority that comes from the notion of possessing the exclusive “truth.” This volatile mixture of fearful ignorance and righteous certitude allows one group to demonize and dehumanize another. And once you have accomplished that, it is much easier to hang people as heretics, burn them at the stake – or in ovens – and fly jetliners into their buildings. Could any story be more relevant to our times?

Friday, August 01, 2008

August 2008 Activities of Interest to Freethinkers

Sat., August 2, 7:00pm
Movie Night at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th St. Gail and Dan will perform duets at the piano by Wohlfarht and Mozart. Feature presentation to be decided that evening.

Sun., August 17, 1:00pm
HAT Monthly Membership Meeting at Hardesty Library, 93rd and Memorial. Yes, we are still meeting at Hardesty. Brian Hill will be showing selections from the PBS special “The Question of God.”

Sat., August 23, 12:00am
Food & Fellowship at Helen of Troy, 6700 S. Lewis.

Sun., August 24, 1:00pm
Atheists Meetup at Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center.

Questions? Call Randy at 622-6975 or Dan at 798-3629.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Keystone and Drumming

This morning we went out to Keystone State Park to look over the walking trail and make updates to the instructions. Keystone is one of seven year-round events (YREs) that the Tulsa Walking Club operates. The other YREs are located in Bartlesville, Galena, KS, Jenks, plus three in Tulsa (LaFortune Park, Promenade Mall, and Utica Square). The next scheduled walk will be the Mohawk Park walk in August. Year-round walks can be walked twice a year for credit: once in the first half and once in the second half of the year.

This evening I went to Joe Price’s home for drumming. We each play a doumbek – a short hand drum with a drumhead about 10 inches in diameter. The drum stands about 16 to 18 inches high. There were four of us present: Joe, his wife Lou, Eric, and myself. We have another member, Marva, who could not attend due to having a headache. We often talk more than we play the drum. Someone, usually Marva, has funny stories to tell. In recent weeks we have heard about Marva’s troubles with roofers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Springfield trip

We took a trip to Springfield last week. We left Sand Springs Wednesday morning and spent the night in The Arbor (motel), which is located just one block from my parents’ apartment. While in Springfield we did one volkswalk and found one geocache. The walk started at Sequiota Park and followed a paved walking trail south to the Springfield Nature Center. At the entrance to the nature center the walk reverses and you go back to the start point.

While in Springfield we ate at the Golden Corral twice, and had breakfast at Shoney’s twice. We went to Springfield Music and looked at duet sheet music. I bought about $20 of sheet music. We left Springfield Saturday morning and drove to Carthage (about 20 miles east of Joplin). We were going to do a 5K walk there but noticed that both walks were 10K. So we chose one of the 10K walks and did it. We spent the night at the Super 8 motel.

The next morning we drove to Broken Arrow and did the 5K walk on the campus of Northeastern State University. This was a scheduled walk -- not a year-round event. After the Broken Arrow walk, we returned home. In three days we managed to get in three volkswalks.