Category Archives: Ramblings

Commander John…

Royal Ranger Outpost 207,.. atten-tion.


The Royal Ranger motto.

Ready. A Royal Ranger is ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etc.

The Royal Rangers, a Boy Scout-like organization within the Assemblies of God, was where I first remember meeting Senior Commander John Baker, Sr.

Commander John was twice as wide but barely taller than the boys he commanded, he wore a pencil-thin mustache I have never seen him without, he spoke in a thick New York “fuggedaboutit” accent, he addressed every boy in his program as son unless he really liked you, then you were promoted to knucklehead, he demanded respect but made sure he gave more than he ever got, and most of all, he was a man who believed in me when I needed it most.

In 1986, I had just started going to church and for the life of me, I can’t remember why I went to that first Wednesday night meeting. It’s possible that I might have been looking for something to do on a night when the youth program wasn’t doing anything. Or I was bored. I got bored a lot in those days. But, what I do remember is at 16, I was the oldest kid in the room by at least two years and that they didn’t have a program in our church for someone my age. Commander John walked over to me, looked up at me, and in that foreign language that was his accent said, “Son, come join my group tonight.”

Over the course of the next few months, I kept showing up and Commander John kept pouring into me. He was ready to start a Trail Ranger program with me as the only person, he had his mind set toward having me earn my Gold Medal Achievement (the Ranger equivalent to the Eagle Scout), and had designs to make me Ranger of the Year for our section. Within six months, he made me a junior commander and I started helping out the other Commanders with their groups.

While I never got my GMA nor made Ranger of the Year, those years in the Royal Rangers have become an integral part of who I am as a man. Commander John became a role model, exhibiting the character traits that he taught. He was the Ranger Code in the flesh.

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, well, I am the man I am today in part because of the man that he was. He reached out to a kid, took him in, mentored him, and gave him a purpose that grounded me when I was in a very difficult and challenging part of my life.

He was ready.

And if I’m being honest, I’m trying to come to grips with that motto right now. Today, they are laying Commander John to rest, and tonight I’m going to be going to his memorial service to say a final goodbye to him. I’m supposed to be ready. Ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etc… I’d love to tell you that I’m ready… ready to say goodbye to such a great man. In truth, I’m not.

Oddly, it’s in those moments when I don’t think I am that I can just hear him saying, “Son, you got this,” except it comes out sounding like “Hey, oh! Knucklehead, fuggedaboutit!”

Part of me knows he’s right. Part of me hopes he’s right.

Either way, thank you, Commander John, for the man you were and always will be to me.

Ready… too.



Into the Breach…

So, it’s Friday! Can I get a collective


Awesome. And why am I so fired up about the weekend. I mean, is it because I’m going to be on call for work? Is it the looming final project that includes re-writing four poems (and I’ve already expressed my thoughts on that), or could it be that as of Sunday, I will be done with the summer semester and finally be able to take a proper break? Continue reading Into the Breach…

Paging Dr. Frankenstein…

Tunes fly through the head. Words fly from the fingers. Birds lost to the moment of inspiration, loosed on the world like so much flak, clouding the web, destroying what was once a beautiful garden, now just a trash dump with diamonds in the rough.


I’ve heard so many people tell me they have published something with the whispered tag of “self” added almost silent. As if self was something to be ashamed of. Maybe in this day and age, it should be. Self once stood for independence, for liberty, for strength, for courage… no more. Now it seems to be a right that people club others with over the head like so many baby seals.

I’m not saying I’m that great a writer, I’m not even going to remotely compare myself with the likes of Tennyson, Twain, Chopin, O’Connor or O’Brien…

I am even sort of impressed by a person’s ability to finish a novel because it is something that I struggle with.


Buy me. Drink me. Eat me. As the amateur draws his catgut across the strings and causes the white rabbit to drop his watch and run from the wailing screech that bleeds his ears. “The audacity!” the creator bemoans, “You’re just jealous,” he shrills, drowning out his horrid playing in one breath.


Like so many others in this world, my time is important. So is my money. Why would I ever want to waste either? And yet, with Amazon and iTunes (and a plethora of others that would elongate this list to an unmanageable tangle of gnarls) leading the cause of the indie artist and making publishing it as simple as pushing a button, we have delved down a rabbit hole that may not have a cure, or at least one that in so many ways is a great thing, it has been abused and there are no police to moderate it.


“Back beast! Back I say!” The artist swings his keyboard in defense of his creation. “Trolls! All of you!” The fury at which he hits his delete key makes Hillary jealous. “He is not a monster! He is alive I tell you. Alive!!!”


And much like Dr. Frankenstein, we are so concerned with producing the next great piece of art, did we ever stop and ask ourselves whether we should?


Yes, yes. I know.

It’s “Franc-En-Shteen”

The Aftermath…

I thought about live tweeting the hurricane but figured the news was doing a good job of that. Plus, I don’t think people would really care about reading, “The wind is howling like a banshee on an Irish isle during a full moon,” or “I’m not sure what that banging noise was, maybe my wife stubbed her toe while walking around in the dark.”

None of that seems really tweet-worthy.

Thankfully, Matthew wiped a bit, then it wobbled a bit, and I went… Na Na…

Seriously, I’m not the only one who thought that, right? Right?

Fine. Maybe I was.

But then Matthew said…


And I breathed a little easier. Until my power went out at 1130. Because it got hot. Fast.

Power is still out. But FPL is working on it. So hopefully…


But, in the aftermath of the hurricane, we are fine. Everyone I know is fine. And if power is the only issue I have to worry about, I’m thankful. Many people got it far worse.

And although life may not be back to normal,  I made my way to Panera to get coffee, get a bagel and.. wait… it’s Saturday, this is my normal routine.

I thought it seemed a bit familiar.

Anyway, just thought I’d throw out an update and let anyone who might wonder, know.