Friday, December 31, 2010

Back from Springfield

I guess this will be my final post of the year. It has been a week since I last put anything on this blog, so I have some catching up to do.

On Christmas Day we went over to the Dobbs for a Mexican meal. (Next year will be a shrimp boil.) There were about a dozen people there. We played Dirty Santa. I was excited to win a waffle maker, but Jonathan took that off my hands. What I ended up with was much less impressive, so unimpressive that I do not recall now what it is.

As we opened the presents we tossed the wrapping paper into the fireplace. That my not have been the best thing to do for soon we had a roaring fire in the fireplace which set off a chimney fire. We all evacuate the house, and someone called the fire department. Soon they were on the scene with three trucks and a police car. It reminded me of the story by Dylan Thomas A Child's Christmas in Wales -- although it was not as funny.

On Sunday we observed Kzanzaa at church. Three drummers played African drums. Due to our guests, we had a larger than normal congregation. The three drummers plus their families added significantly to our small numbers. We must have had at least a dozen people there for the service.

On Monday, Gail came over and we practiced the duet we plan to play for the service this coming Sunday. The title of the piece is Walnut River Rag. We also played several other pieces which we might play at future services.

On Tuesday, we left for Springfield. J's brother Rick along with five others were heading for Springfield on something of a vacation. My son Nick was already at Branson on vacation. We all met in Springfield and took a picture of the four generations of Nerrens.

We ate lunch/dinner at the Golden Corral around 2:30 that day. There were 14 of us. The Golden Corral is always busy no matter what time of day you go there.

Rick and his wife both work at the auto assembly plant in Kansas City. They have plenty of money which they lavished on the grandchildren. A. was so impressed with Rich that she asked for his autograph. One day, Wednesday I think, we went to Branson and attended a show. We saw a group of singers by the name of New South. It was an all male quartet, but they had others as part of their act. Altogether they probably had a crew of a dozen. They sang a variety of music. They are basically a south style gospel quartet, but they also sang some Elvis songs, plus songs made popular by the Everly Brothers, James Brown, and more. It was 10:30 by the time the show let out. We went to the candy shop for a free sample of fudge. Nick and his family were staying in the hotel associated with the act.

We spent Thursday night with my parents at The Abbey. We drove home today. It is always good to get back home.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More photos discovered

As J was getting out the Christmas tree a few days ago for its annual resurrection, she discovered a batch of photos. Most of these photos were taken by me when I was in Germany (1971-73). I have just a few more of my grandparents on the Andrews side to post. Next I will post pictures from Germany.

Three aunts and grandparents

In this picture (L to R) are Walter Andrews, Reno Russell,
Bobbie Presley, Willie Andrews, and Billie Gibson.

Latest adventures in a nutshell

Tonight we opened presents at Nick's house. The Dobbs (Jennifer's parents) were there also. Before that we attended the Christmas Eve service at the Methodist Church. Earlier in the week we viewed a video of the NBC choir singing a Christmas program. That's about it for tonight.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Walking at the community center

This afternoon I went walking at the community center. The basketball court was closed due to some other kind of activity going on there. Some group had set up a few tables with gifts on them. About a dozen chairs were set up also.

This was the first time I had gone walking in a while. It was good to get some oxygen flowing again. The weather was chilly, but it was not too cold.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas to You

And now, my favorite vocal ensemble wishes you a Merry Christmas:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A busy four-day weekend

On Thursday, I was going to attend the Music at the Mansion program, but J said I had better conserve my strength for the evening concert we have been waiting on for several months.

That evening, we went to a concert at the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa. This was our first time to attend an event there. We got there early to be sure we could find a place to park. We parked in the parking garage near the BOK Center. Near the Center was a giant Christmas tree next to an ice skating rink which had been set up as a temporary thing.

To get out of the cold, we went inside the building and waited for the doors to open. At 7 pm, the doors opened and we went inside and found our seats. The group we saw was the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. You might think from the name that the TSO was an orchestra that played classical music, but it was more like a rock band. I counted 20 members in the group. Out of the 20, twelve were local musicians which had been hired for the event.

The concert engaged all of the senses. The light show was fantastic. Each piece played was accompanied by banks of lights which flashed on and off in a variety of colors. Streams of pencil-thin laser light shown just overhead. You could feel the heat when the gases on stage were ignited. At one point it started snowing inside the BOK. Snow drifted down and fell on the audience or the floor.

I was glad I had brought ear plugs for the volume was deafening. Musicians strutted about on stage and above the audience by means of floating walkways suspended from the ceiling by cables. The concert went on for two and a half hours. Attendance exceeded 10,000. Judging from the price of the tickets, this one show brought in more than a quarter million dollars.

The Tulsa chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation had a special guest in town over the weekend: Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF in Madison, Wisconsin. On Friday evening, we attended a reception for Annie Laurie at the Dusenberry home. There were about 15 people there -- all members of the local FFRF chapter. I took my camera and came home with several pictures of the event. I will post some later. Annie Laurie thanked me for the indexing work I had done for them back in the 90s. The Dusenberrys providing lodging for Annie Laurie while she was in Tulsa in their half-million dollar home.

We began Saturday by going to the campus of Oral Roberts University. There is a giant statue of praying hands just as you enter the campus. I brought my six-foot banner with the words "NOTHING FAILS LIKE PRAYER" on it. We stood beneath the statue with our banner unfurled for photos. Next we went to the prayer tower and were going to tour it, but it was closed for the Christmas holidays.

I returned home and got ready for the 2 pm HAT meeting. I went through the listing of members and gave each a reminder call about the meeting. The previous day I sent out an email to each to remind them of the meeting.

About 30 people showed up for the meeting at which Annie Laurie spoke for an hour and a half. She spoke about the recent history of FFRF litgation dealing with church/state separation. Annie Laurie once again mentioned my role in providing the Foundation with indexing of its newspaper, Freethought Today.

After the meeting was over, I returned home and took a nap. At 8 pm, I was at Randy's. Many people were there. I would estimate we had 30 people there. Will and I sat in the Bradley's entertainment center and played music. Will plays guitar. I played the electronic keyboard which I had brought with me. I was recognized for the small role I had played in the Foundation and given a "Founding Father" t-shirt.

This morning I went to Church of the Restoration. There were just six and a half people there. The half person was Larry's five year old granddaughter who spent about half the time in the sanctuary and the other half outside the sanctuary. She was in and out quite a bit, but we are such a small church that no one cared about her comings and goings. Joy read a lengthy children's story. The main part of the message, delivered by Mary Rounds, pertained to the four basic elements: earth, air, fire, and water, and the four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.

Friday, December 17, 2010


"The trouble with quotes on the Internet is you never know if they are genuine."
-Abraham Lincoln

from The Oklahoma Observer and sent to me by Larry Hicks

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sights unseen until recently

Mysteries of the universe:

Go to full screen and have sound on.

Maternal grandfather

This is Walter Andrews standing in front of his house in Carbon Hill, AL. This photo dates from around 1955.

Monday, December 13, 2010


The chains men bear they forged themselves. Strike off their chains and they will weep for their lost security.

--John Passmore, philosopher

Ft. Gibson visit

Over the weekend we made a trip to Ft. Gibson (near Muskogee). We went with Gail and Glenn Storey. We stopped for dinner at Los Cabos in Broken Arrow, but the place was packed. We went to a nearby Steak and Shake and ate there instead. By the time we left Steak and Shake, it too had customer waiting to be seated.

We arrived in Ft. Gibson. Tours were leaving the fort every 15 minutes. We had reservations for a certain time, which I don't recall right now. The tour consists of viewing re-enactors (actors) playing parts from the history of the area. Each room we went into had three actors going through dialogue about life in the area around 1830-40. It was quite enjoyable. Cold, but enjoyable.

Pappy with Aunt Billie

Aunt Billie with Pappy in the lush garden surroundings of the yard in Carbon Hill, AL.

Walter and Willie

These are my grandparents on my mother's side of the family. Their names are Walter and Willie Andrews. This photo was taken in Carbon Hill, AL.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandfather and aunt

Seen in this picture are my grandfather, Walter Andrews, and my Aunt Boots, Martha Plemmons.

Willie Andrews outside of house in Carbon Hill

Standing in front of the white picket fence is my maternal grandmother, Willie Andrews.

Go, Bernie, Go

Here is a speech by one of my favorite U.S. Senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont:

Mammy Andrews and three daughters

In this picture are (L to R) Reno Russell, Willie "Mammy" Andrews, Martha "Boots" Plemmons, and Billie Gibson. This photo was taken c. 1955 in Carbon Hill, AL.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Today we went Christmas shopping in Sapulpa. We went to a Dollar Tree store and bought several items. When we got back to Sand Springs, we went to Morrow-Gill and then to Atwoods.

When we returned home, J climbed up on the roof to glue down some shingles which had been disturbed by the weather.

Today I read the first 11% of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All I can say about the book so far is that it is off to a slow start. I also worked on an "Every Word" puzzle on my Kindle.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

More on reading

I finished reading The God Virus this morning. It is the best book I have ever read explaining how religion works. Everyone could benefit by reading this book, be you a Christian, Muslim, or atheist. Everyone is familiar how religion works like a virus in at least the most simple way. The author goes into much detail fleshing out the particulars of the analogy.

Knowing that people are reluctant to read material that disagrees with their worldview, I intend to quote snippets from the book occasionally on this blog. It's a sneaky was to expose you to material from this book.

Tonight I downloaded another book to my Kindle. It is Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins. It is a free download from Kindle. This book was originally published in 2001. From "Angels, From the Realms of Glory" to "White Christmas," the book tells the stories of the writing of 31 Christmas carols.

It begins,
There is a treasure of inspiration to be found in these pages. If you love Christmas, then this book is going to bless you time and time again. You will laugh and cry, and history will come to life. You will learn and understand things you didn't know before, giving you a much richer grasp of the music the makes this season so very special. You will probably also want to rush out and tell someone you know one of these stories.

After I read this book, I might want to download More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, which is also a free download for the Kindle.

But next I want to get into Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I had intended to start this book weeks ago but never got around to it.

Earlier today a friend, William, came over and we went through some music we might perform later on this month at Randy's annual Solstice Party. William plays the guitar. He is quite talented.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Maternal grandmother

This is my maternal grandmother, Willie Andrews. The picture was taken c. 1955 in Carbon Hill, AL. Do you remember that swing in the background?


I am currently reading a book by Darrel Ray by the title The God Virus. I am at the 91% point in the book, which I am reading on my Kindle. One thing about the Kindle -- you always can tell where you are in a book you are reading.

I am really impressed by The God Virus. The book deals with the subject of religion, and it is probably the best book I have read on the subject. If you have a Kindle, you should at least download the free sample.

This book is tightly written. Each sentence is important. I have been using the underline feature of my Kindle, and I find I have underlined about 5% of the book.

I should have the book finished sometime tomorrow. Maybe I can say more about the book then.

William is the new leader of Tulsa Atheists. He also plays guitar. I expect him to come over tomorrow so that we can rehearse for a meeting we will be performing at Saturday after next.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Today is Sunday

This morning I went to Church of the Restoration. This being the first Sunday of the month, today was Humanist Sunday. The "sermon" was given by Marilyn Clarke. Gail and I played the special music, which was three arrangements of "Silent Night." Various others had other parts to play in the service. Following the service, we had a meal together at the church.

Following the church service, I went to Randy's for a meeting of FFRF Tulsa. We made plans for Annie Laurie Gaylor's visit a couple of weekends off.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A volkswalk and a movie

This morning J and I drove out to Lake Keystone and walked the volkswalk which is set up out there. I also looked for and found one geocache, the only geocache inside the park. This cache is located along the fitness trail. It was a small cache. Small caches are easier to find than micros.

On the way back home we stopped at Subway and got a sandwich which we took home to eat.

This afternoon we went to the movies. We saw a thriller named "Unstoppable." It is the story of a runaway train in Pennsylvania. The main characters are the engineer, conductor, dispatcher, plus several other railway workers who get into the action. It is a thrill-packed adventure with much of the camera recording the trail speeding through the countryside or showing the outside from inside the engine. There is some great camera work in this film.

Below is a trailer for the movie.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pappy and Bobbie

This is my garndfather, Walter Andrews, standing next to my aunt Bobbie Presley.