Personal Notes from Mike
  • Jie has been appointed to be the pastor of the little United Methodist Church in Pesotum, Illinois (half-way between Mattoon and Champaign.)  She went to license to preach school last summer for her qualification to be a local pastor.  She will continue her job as district coordinator of Chinese ministries along with this new job.  Her first Sunday at Pesotum will be next week (July 2.)
  • Three family members are moving in August.  Tristan/Scarlette/Sean are buying a house in Lisle and moving there from Naperville.  Nelson and Alison are moving into a new apartment in Madison, WI (from an apartment across town.)  And my parents are selling their two story home and buying a one story one in Springfield, IL.  Just a tip:  you might want to consider buying stock this month in "Two Men and a Truck."
  • R eading Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty's book, And Then You're Dead:  What Really Happens if You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, Or Go  Barreling  Over  Niagara . Doherty has his Ph.D. in Physics from MIT.  This is a book of fascinating factoids about various deadly predicaments we sometimes ponder but hope never happen.  Also listening to the Great Courses offering of "How to Listen to and Understand Opera," by Robert Greenberg (Professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music  and one of my favorite lecturers.)  I'm not a real big opera fan, but this course is very interesting and has brought my curiosity and appreciation for opera to life. 

June 25, 2017
Things the Old Cars Didn't Do
I just purchased my 16 th car (over a 46-year span.)  

There were three other cars--but not that I paid for.  I married into two.  And the third was a used up Chevy Impala my dad was going to sell me, for a hundred bucks.  He didn't realize that it only had nine miles of life left in it when he handed me the keys.  So, of course, I decided not to pay him.  And he decided not to take me to court.
My first new car (with the new car smell and everything) was a 1972 Ford Maverick.  It took me a few trips around town to master the stick shift on the steering column.  Other than that, I had no trouble working the AM radio.  Once in a while I would play with the cigarette lighter--to set fire to a piece of paper-- just for the heck of it.  Since I didn't smoke, and I had PAID for the cigarette lighter, I wanted to get some use out of it.

I'd adjust the left outside mirror by cranking down my window, sticking my hand out, and manipulating it.  There was no right side mirror on that car.  I used my seat belt.  But there was no shoulder strap back then.  The windshield wiper had two speeds:  on and off.  There was no air-conditioning in the car and the heater amounted to a couple knobs in the dashboard. 

The car came with a "manual," but it was only 50 pages long and no one with any common sense needed to read it.  The car was user friendly.  

My Subaru Legacy (this week's purchase) came with 11 instruction books consisting of 1,180 pages of assigned reading.  I will not be able to operate most of the features on this car unless I read these books (or get someone to show me how all the darn stuff works.) 
I primarily used that first car for going places.  Sometimes, driving down the road,  I listened to KMOX...back when KMOX was the best radio station in the country.  My radio didn't get FM.  And it wasn't rigged to play eight-track tapes.

This latest car, however, has bells and whistles that are only safe to use if you are not in the process of driving.  In fact, it is so loaded that I may not need to go anywhere ever again:   I can just sit in my driveway all day and be entertained.   Once I read my 11 books to find out how to work everything.   

Actually, I can read in the car! (there are excellent reading lights right above my head.)  I can also take my naps in this car (the seats recline and have great lumbar support.) I can lounge in the car and visit with friends through the car phone.  I can park it at the lake and watch TV...or listen to baseball ...or answer my email ...or eat all my meals.  

This car has adjustable, heated, leather seats (better than any of the chairs in my house.) It has temperature control (more exact than in my house.) I have a sky roof in the car, a place to look up and see stars (at my house I have to go outside to see stars.)  The car has a stereo sound system (better than any I have in my house.)  This car has multiple cup holders for my refreshments (which my first six cars didn't have.) And this vehicle even has a radar system to warn me if Jie is pulls in behind me ( probably to try and get me out of the car to do some work around the house .) It's like Batman's Cave...every technology and gimmick beyond my imagination...or capacity to understand.
One of my instruction books is called, "Eye-Sight and Driver Assist Technology."  I haven't read the book yet, but I'm guessing this car must come with a seeing-eye dog, ( probably it will bark at me if I make a wrong turn...or paw at me if I don't see a stop sign coming.)  I haven't found the little feller yet, but reckon he may be in the trunk...if I can just find the book that tells me how to pop it open. 
Some of my gentle readers may fear that I am too old fashioned to handle this piece of marvelous technology.  But have no fear, I've been preparing for this car by practicing up on my other electronic gadgets:  smart phone, digital movie camera, MacBook Pro, etc.  

The only glitch with the phone is that I'm a little bogged down in its 687-page instruction manual.  And I haven't even started the other manual that explains how to take pictures with my phone (301 pages.)

And I'm way behind on reading how to work my digital movie camera (I'm only on page 10 of that 401 page book.)  And I really need to spend more time on my 789 page tome on word processing tips for my Mac.

I'd be further along on that last book, but when I made the transition from PC to Mac, I didn't understand a thing and had to buy to 795 page book on how to switch from a PC to a Mac. I'm 100 pages into that one.
Whew.  I think I need to just give all this technical stuff a rest.  Think I'll sit on my lawn chair and escape in a novel.  Of course, all my latest novels are on my electronic Nook.  I've got 74 of them to choose from...all contained in a gadget the size of a rectangle pancake.  

Thank God for the good old days...and Lord have mercy on our progress.  --Mike

p.s.  Here is a list of my 19 cars:

63 Impala (bit the dust after 9 miles)
65 Rambler (threw a rod after 2 years)
72 Maverick (lasted 132,000 miles)
75 Mustang (piece of junk)
70 Nova (reliable when the piece of junk wasn't working)
80 Olds (brought baby Mindy home from hospital in it)
83 Escort (brought baby Alison home from hospital in it)
86 Corolla (one of the best)
87 Accord (155,000 miles)
94 Saturn (moonroof leaked...bad)
92 Crown (192,000 miles)
98 Chevy (gave to kids to drive)
97 Taurus (transmission went out twice in 120,000 miles)
01 Outback (best:  275,000 miles)
02 Sentra (gave to kids to drive, Jie's first car in U.S.)
06 Buick (Jie's favorite car)
12 Impreza (nice car, but caused me back problems etc.)
11 Maxima (bought from my brother)
17 Legacy (to be determined....)

 The Sunday letter is something I have done now for over 20 years.  It is a disciplined musing:  mindfulness, memory, and imagination.  I write it when I first wake up on a Sunday morning and then share it with the congregation.  The letter you see published here is usually revised from what the congregation receives.  This discipline of thinking and writing puts me in the place of describing rather than advising.  It prepares me to proclaim the gospel rather than get preachy with the souls who will sit before me.  --JMS


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