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Rapture... Sweet Rapture...

Okay, so today was the day that Harold Camping predicted that the end of the world would begin. Apparently he said it would all start at 6:00PM, but didn't specify what time zone or where at in the world this 6:00 would take place.  Since Mr. Harold is in California, I'm betting he's thinking 6:00 their time. I guess Jesus is a fan of Hollywood himself.  (Looks at clock)  It's 7:45 PM central time which means that the end of the world is supposed to start in about 15 minutes if Jesus is in fact going by Pacific time. ;-)

I need groceries BADLY. However, I know better than to go to the grocery stores in town right now.  Last night the news reported that there was absolutely no bottled water available anywhere in Lubbock.  I can only imagine how hectic it was.  I used to work in a grocery store for 5 years - the Christmas rush was bad enough. Could you imagine enduring the apocalyptic rush to grab as many bottles of water and canned food items you could?  (shakes head) Get real people!!! First off, the world is not ending today.  

As the bible states:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13:32

“The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:34

What makes this Camping guy think that he can predict it when the good book itself clearly states that no one, not even the angels, know when the day will be? I also heard a rumor that Mr. Camping is saying that he and his followers prayed so hard that they stopped the end of the world from  happening today.  How does that crow taste?? 

Another thing that gets me is that so many people who were firm believers in this prediction went out and spent their life savings and blew through their money like nothing.  Ouch.  That's all I can say about that. Ouch.  

Getting back to my point about the mad dash to get food.  Seriously, if the world really were to end today, what good would all that food do you anyhow? I guess people were anticipating the fact that they were going to be held up in their homes and try to outlast the rapture.  Visions of crazed human beings ravaging homes and looting stores pops into my mind while those who stocked up on their food board up their windows and fight off those of us who decided not to panic and stock up on food that would go to waste anyway. Personally, if Jesus came to gather up the Christians I wouldn't want to prolong it.  Take me away to heaven (If I belong there. I try to be the best Christian I can be but in the end, it's all up to the man upstairs.  I'd like to think I was going to heaven though.)  

Also, so many people freaked out about this, as well as the December 21, 2012 prediction.  In reality, if it is gonna end, it's gonna end.  What are you going to do about it?  You can't yell out to Jesus and tell him you're not ready.  Too bad so sad! What's the good in panicking and freaking out about it?  

While today's prediction was totally wrong and I'm sure the December 2012 prediction is wrong, we can all still use this as an eye opener.  Just because Mr. Camping is a complete lunatic and was way off, that doesn't mean that the end of the world will never happen, because guess what - it will.... Maybe not in our lifetimes, but possibly so.  We don't know.  The eye opener in all of this is that we need to strive to be better people and prepare.  I'm not perfect - I have my days where I'm Miss Negative and am hard to live with but I truly am trying to be a better Christian.  I don't want to get more preachy so I'll leave it at that... One thing that bugs me more than anything is someone telling me how to live, so I won't do that to whoever might stumble across this blog.  

(Looks at clock) Okay, it's officially 8:00 Central Time, which means it's 6:00 in California.  Hmmmm....

Again I ask... Harold Camping... How does that crow taste???  

Beyond the Lights Weekend

This past weekend I went down to San Antonio to take part in the Beyond the Lights Celebrity golf tournament that is hosted by Kyle Chandler and Brad Leland, two stars of the show Friday Night Lights.  It is a charity benefitting athletes who have suffered from spinal chord injuries. Here is more information on this wonderful event if you are interested -

Beyond the Lights Celebrity Golf Classic

I got into San Antonio Thursday evening. We left for the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop early Friday  morning.  It is possibly one of the nicest golf courses I have ever seen, and I have seen/played on my share of them.  After doing a few odd jobs and eating breakfast, I got assigned to a hospitality cart. I was to drive around and ask the players if they needed water or snacks and make sure everything was okay.

I had my first encounter with Kyle when I went around to the 17th hole where he and Brad Leland were hanging out and teeing off with everyone who came through there.  Kyle saw me and called me out by name.  He asked how school had been this semester, if it was over, and how Lubbock was.  The fact that he remembered my name surprised me so much that I dang near fell out of the cart.  We chatted about Texas Tech and some things, I gave him some water, he thanked me for being there and commented on the hat I was wearing. (A Texas Tech one), and I was on my way to see if anyone else needed anything.

After driving around a bit I hung out at the 8th hole where I helped pass out Vitamin water. That is where I had an encounter with Ricky Phillips, the bassist for Styx.  At first I didn't know who he was, but I knew he was a rockstar just by how he was dressed. He called me sweetie and thanked me for the water. He was a very gracious dude.  I was there for a bit and finally went back into the clubhouse around 4 to eat.  I hadn't eaten since that morning when we had breakfast.  I was then assigned to put bags together for the gala.  Later I was told that I would be a spotter for the auction and that they would come get me when it was time.  They never came back, so I continued selling photo stills from the set of FNL.

I had my second encounter then.  Josy, a lovely girl from France who had flown there for the event wanted to meet him.  She never spotted him me, along with a friend, pointed him out.  We went up to him with her, introduced her, and took her pic with him. Kyle was so touched that she came from France that he took two pics with her.  I got a huge bear hug from him as well and took another picture with him.

The rest of the night we hung out and tried to sell more pics from the set.  We left Friday night around 10:30 back to our hotel in Bastrop.  We were so tired that when we got into the elevator to go into our room, all three of us just stood and stared at the buttons, none of us realizing we actually had to press number three to get the elevator moving.  It was a good tired though.

The next day we went back to the resort around 8:30 in the morning.  At first they had us doing odd jobs again but after I was assigned as a caddie.  We had a player's meeting and they got us caddie's together with the groups we'd be with and we got to take a picture with Kyle.  I was standing with my group and Kyle walks up with a frisbee and says to me "Gotta have a prop for the picture, you know how we actors are." and then he nudged me and winked.  He stood by me in the picture and after he looked at me and said, "Okay Jess, you tell your team to throw that frisbee straight.  Thanks for being a caddie."  And then he patted me on the back.  

I got to caddie for Jeff Rosick, aka Buddy Junior.  He's a very nice guy.  We talked about random things - from what he's working on now to what we all do when we're not hanging out at BTL.  The poor guy was suffering from some pretty bad allergies, but he was a trooper.  

After our 18 holes of frisbee golf, I tallied up the scores and we had lunch.  We sat behind Kyle.  We got to leave right after lunch and came up to him to say our goodbyes.  He actually stood up from his food and gave us monster hugs again and thanked us for helping out in so many ways.  What I really appreciate about Kyle is that he looks you straight in the eye and is very sincere.  He also introduced us to his wife Katherine.  She was very nice as well.  

It was a weekend of hard work, but definitely a weekend I will never forget. It was a weekend where the main goal was to help out this amazing charity and put something into helping those in need. 

I have been a fan of Kyle Chandler since I saw him back in the 1990's on the movie Pure Country with George Strait.  The fact that he remembered me and calls me out by name now is so surreal that it hasn't even sunk in yet.  I'm so blessed to be a part of something so great.  I can't even put it into words.  

Respect The Wind


Great Plains Life Building (Metro Tower) after the storm

Aerial view of damage

Downtown Lubbock

Downtown Lubbock

Downtown Lubbock

Great Plains Life Building (Metro Tower) Damage

Today is the 41st anniversary of the F5 Tornado that hit Lubbock, TX - May 11, 1970.  My mother was 9 years old. My dad was about to turn 12.  My mother and her family were in the area that got affected the most -- Downtown and east Lubbock.  She has told me that my grandfather, who was a meteorologist in the Army, came home from work that night knowing something was going to happen pertaining to the weather. He could just feel it in the air. She lived a few miles from Lubbock International Airport and said when it was all over with, that there were jet engines in her front yard.  There were reports of houses that were completely demolished.  One house was untouched while the one next door's foundation was the only evidence that a house ever stood there.  My mother even has a memory of a duplex where one half was torn to shreds and the other side merely had a crack in one of the front windows.  If that wasn't ironic enough, the side that was slaughtered in the F5 winds belonged to a family that was out of town.  The people who lived in the side with the cracked window were home that night.  My mom's house lost their garage and had some other damage, but thank God that they all got out with minor injuries.  

People ask me why I chase storms and am fascinated with this weather phenomenon.  As stated above, tornadoes are so unpredictable.  How is it that one house blows away completely and the other is fine?  How is it that a brick house with a cement foundation is never seen again but a mobile home across the street stands strong?  Tornadoes are eerie.  You never know what you're going to get with them.  Regardless of all the science and research put into it, meteorologists still don't have complete answers on why one storm becomes tornadic and another doesn't.  This is why it fascinates me.  The unpredictability, the hard work and research, the spookiness.  

On the other hand, when I see the devastation it sends in the aftermath, it breaks my heart.  A tornado in an open field is amazing.  A tornado with a town in it's path is painful.  This is why scientists are working so hard to get the answers needed to make warning times longer for those affected.  Right now the average warning time is 10 minutes.  Even if we could extend that to 15, the benefits would be substantial. 

There were 26 people killed the night of May 11, 1970 and 500 reported injured.  According to the National Weather Service, Lubbock endured two tornadoes that evening - an F1 and then the devastating F5 that hit later.  The storm began to form when the dryline backtracked over the town of Levelland, just 25 miles west of Lubbock.  The storm began to intensify and organize over Woodrow, a small community 7 miles south of Lubbock where I live right now.  At 9:35 there were reports that the tornado had touched down near Texas Tech University.  There were reports that claim that the tornado, at it's peak, was 2 miles in width as it ripped through the heart of Lubbock.  Winds were documented at 90 MPH.  

Lubbock's Metro Tower, which was called the Great Plains Life Building at the time, was hit dead on.  The frame was actually twisted. It sustained substantial damage and it was recommended that they tear it down and rebuild it.  However, the owner's repaired it and it reopened in 1975. It still stands today, holding the record for the tallest building to survive an F5 tornado.  Also, the F5 tornado is one of the largest to never be photographed. Since it was a night tornado and it came with no warning, no one had time to snap a picture.  

Also, in great West Texas fashion, to bring in the 41st anniversary, we were hammered with an early morning severe thunderstorm around 5:15.  It wasn't tornadic but was still marked severe with winds in excess of 60MPH, 1" diameter hail, and extreme lightning.  I was just thankful for the rain.  We have been without any precipitation since March.  It rained for about an hour, and now when I go outside it doesn't even look like it rained.... the ground soaked it up like a sponge.

All in all, the point of this blog is to remember to always RESPECT THE WIND.  

Through Smoke Sample Sunday - Mother's Day Edition

Michael swallowed the bile that formed in the back of his throat.  He stood on the stoop of the town home, taking in a deep breath as he balled his fist to knock on the mahogany wood door in front of him.  He hadn’t been here in a long time. Butterflies pattered in his stomach.  Why was he so nervous?  It was his own fault why he hadn’t come around.
He pounded his sore knuckle against the door, forgetting about the gash from the punching bag. Gritting his teeth, he switched to his left hand and knocked again, hoping it could be heard on the other side.  He held his breath when he heard the hinges squeak.
“Michael? Is everything okay?”
Nodding, he stepped back.  “Mom, you got time to talk?”
“Of course, hon, is everything okay?” She moved to the side to give him room. “Come on in and have a seat. I bet the subway ride up here wasn’t all that great.” She was now living in Queens.  He remembered her always vowing to get away from Hell’s Kitchen as soon as she could. 
The house smelled just as he remembered.  It was a clean smell.  Everything was in place and well taken care of.  His eyes scanned the living room with all of the pictures of family on walls and shelves.  He walked to a few pictures of him and Casey when they were younger.  Running his hands over the frames, he couldn’t help but smile at how goofy they both looked with their haircuts and clothes straight from the eighties.  Casey looked really healthy.  It was a shame what the drugs had done to him.  Then of course, there were photos of their dad.  A chill ran down his spine and he turned back to his mom.
“You look more and more like your dad every day.” She was sitting in a recliner, sipping on some tea. “It’s almost scary. He’d be so proud to know how well you’re doing with the department.”
Michael felt his face heat up.  He never realized how much he resembled his dad until she pointed it out. “I had a good role model.”
She patted the chair beside her. “Come sit down.  You look like something is really bothering you.”  Pausing, she began to stand up. “You want something to drink?”
He held his hand up and leaned back in the other recliner. “No Mom, I’m fine.”  She looked frailer than the last time he had seen her. Her dark hair was now highlighted with grey. She was always a thin woman but she looked like she had lost even more weight.  Was it stress? He and Casey weren’t always the greatest sons and he regretted ever treating her the way he had. “I’m sorry I don’t come by more often.”
She pursed her lips and smiled. “No need to apologize, Michael.  I understand you’re a busy man. Now tell me the real reason you came by.”
Sighing, he closed his eyes for a second.  “I need to know if what I did is the right thing to do.” The room fell silent except for a faint ticking coming from the clock above the TV. 
“What did you do?”
Biting his bottom lip, he opened his eyes and looked at her. “It’s about Casey.” The look on his mom’s face was full of pain at the mention of his name.  She clasped her hands together but didn’t say anything.  “He came to me about a week ago needing a place to stay.  I let him.  He lied straight to my face about everything and even invited some of his friends over after I told him not to. I gave him several chances but I ended up kicking him out again.”
She took another long sip of tea and put the glass down on a coaster.  Neither spoke as the words sunk in.  Had he made a mistake by coming to her about him?  She was definitely broken hearted by what Casey had become, but he would never forget as kids she would teach them that there’s always hope.  Had that value in her life changed?
“And you’re worried that kicking him out is only going to harm him?”
Michael nodded. It felt as if his stomach was tied in a thousand knots.  “I’m scared he’s more exposed to stuff out on the streets.  Like maybe if I would’ve let him stay that he would be more sheltered.”
His mom shook her head no and leaned forward in her chair. “No hon, both of you had a sheltered life here and both of you still found what you did.  You had your problems. Casey took to the drugs.  It doesn’t matter where you live or what kind of family you have, if you’re gonna do it, you’re gonna do it.  The will power lies within the person.  You found a way to not drink so much. I left it up to you and God. Made you leave here and go find yourself. You became a man all on your own.  Casey still has yet to find it and he might not ever.”
Michael stood up and went back to the shelves where all of their pictures were. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see her standing right beside him.  “You can’t help someone who isn’t ready to help themselves, Mikey.”
He felt a tear trickle down his cheek and quickly wiped it away.  Seeing the pictures of their youth stung.  If only they would have known what the future entailed.  “I know.  I just hate myself for kicking him out.  He has nothing. I think he’s in some money trouble too.”
“You would’ve hated yourself more if he ruined your life too.  If he truly wants to get better, he will, whether it’s under your roof or out on the street. There’s always a way. Don’t beat yourself up about it. I think you did the right thing. It’s out of our hands and up to Casey.”
He pulled her in for a tight hug, instantly missing the embrace of his mother.  Her subtle perfume ignited memories from years ago.  “You’re a good man.”  At that moment he told himself that he would make it a point to come see her more often.  It would be wrong not to.
He stayed for dinner that night and got caught up all of the months he had missed without her. Despite that, he still felt a void.  He would never get that time back with her. He had learned from his job that every day wasn’t a right; it was a blessing and definitely wasn’t guaranteed.
“You know, son, my door is always open.”
They both stood out on her stoop and watched the sun set behind the high rises.  “I know.” He draped his arm over her shoulders and gave her a side hug, kissing the top of her head.  “I’ll be coming around more often, I promise.”
She pulled away and wrapped her jacket around her.  “Be safe on your ride home. I really hate those subways.”
“You got it.” He walked down the first two steps and stopped, looking back at her from the sidewalk. “Thank you, for everything. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
He turned around and made his way to the nearest subway station.  He felt reluctant to go back home, but there was nowhere else to go and he had to get ready for work in the morning.