Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The 'paganism' of Christmas

Gene Edward Veith of World Magazine helps clear up some mythology about the so-called origins of Christmas in a pagan Winter Solstice festival:

True, the Emperor Aurelian, in the five short years of his reign, tried to start (a winter solstice festival), "The Birth of the Unconquered Sun," on Dec. 25, 274. ... But Aurelian's new festival was instituted after Christians had already been associating that day with the birth of Christ. ... Christians were not imitating the pagans. The pagans were imitating the Christians.

Read the whole article.

And Douglas Wilson helpfully tells us something about where all the pine boughs came from:

(T)he Christmas wreath custom did not come from paganism, but from a remarkable defeat of paganism. Boniface (680-754), missionary to the Germans, had chopped down a great oak, sacred to Thor. Three days later, on the first Sunday of Advent, he prevented a human sacrifice and used the sacrificial knife of the Druid priest to cut fir boughs for the people to take home as a reminder of Calvary. And of course, the inventor of Christmas tree lights (non-electric) was Martin Luther.

Wilson's article is here.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

New gig! Friday, Dec. 9

Yes, this is a new gig! Come out to The Anchor Room on Friday, Dec. 9, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. and hear a special, Christmas-y gig. You can sing along! You can drink mochas! You can stop shivering!

Other changes:

  • The gig for January 13 has been canceled due to an accidental double booking by the venue.
  • Another new gig has been booked for Friday, February 24, at The Anchor Room.
As usual, details are on the engagements page.

Gig today at 1 p.m.

Come out to The Anchor Room today if you're in a Christmas-y mood. I'll be playing songs of the season from 1 to 2 p.m. Go to my engagements page for details.

And I'm happy to report that the medicines have pummeled my sinusitis.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The cough-y house

Well. After two weeks of having what felt like the cold that would never leave, I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. Sinusitis, most likely. Strong medicine, too.

But now, thanks to my illness-induced asthma, I have begun to cough.

I still hope to be feeling better before my gig on Saturday. If this medicine works, I'll be able to sing for an hour, no problem.

If not, expect to hear an awful lot of instrumental music.

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Christmas songs

We pause at last for Christmas past
Simplicity of Babe and creche
We sing the songs, confess our wrongs
As hearts of stone are turned to flesh

If you are looking for the lyrics to my Christmas songs, here are the links:

And God descends and calls us friends
And grants the presence Jesus gave
We eat His meal and humbly kneel
Before the Son who came to save

Come and sing along at my gig Saturday afternoon at The Anchor Room.

How I spent my Saturday

But I'm not done yet. We bought a few more boxes of lights for the downstairs windows, which are still bare.

I want our house to be seen from space.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New gigs for December and 2006

UPDATE: The Dec. 17 gig at The Anchor Room has been canceled. By me. I may try to get another gig on a different day instead.

The good folks at The Anchor Room are allowing me to perform a Christmas gig during December. Plus, I have three new gigs to mention for 2006.

The December gig is on a Saturday afternoon:

  • Saturday, Dec. 3, 2005, from 1-2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005, from 1-2 p.m.
The gigs for 2006 are:

  • Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Friday, March 10, 2006, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 12, 2006, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
And and always, go to the engagements page for more details, including maps.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Two updates

Some very small, but good, news:

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Joke o' the day

While looking through cookbooks, Mary said:

I found a recipe for leftovers, but it takes two days to make.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This is your brain on sleep

This is a repost of something I put on a former blog on Feb. 17 -- but my wife still finds this funny:

Someday, it is our hope that science will discover the secret part of the brain that gives my wife such wacky dreams.

In her dream earlier this week, a couple of close friends were arguing. Then Friend 1 accused Friend 2 of just being “hypochronical.”

Not “hypocritical.” “Hypochronical.”

Now for the funny part.

In the dream, my wife does a double take and thinks to herself, “How does a woman of that intelligence make a mistake like that? She made that word up!”

Part of me wants to make fun of my wife for having a brain that makes up weird words, broadcasts them in the middle of her dreams, and then alerts her while she is still dreaming that it made up a weird word.

But making fun of her would be hypochronical.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer

So, why am I buying the Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer?

As many of you know, I've been experimenting with doing some home recordings of some of my songs, perhaps even to be able to produce a demo CD.

I own an eMac, which is cool enough, but I also have GarageBand, an easy-to-use and dirt cheap digital recording application. I've have plenty of success recording from my keyboard -- actually, I'm recording MIDI notes from the keyboard, not its actual sounds -- and you can even listen to and download two of my songs over at my downloads page.

But I have not been able to record any good vocals. The problem is one of impedance.

Most devices you plug into your computer or stereo have high-impedance signals that need no boosting -- the sound comes in at a level that can be heard by whatever you're plugging them into. But, as the folks at MacJams say:

professional-level microphones are typically low-impedance signal devices. ... As such, if you plug a good quality mic directly into your Mac, you won't hear anything.

And I wasn't hearing anything. I needed something to boost that microphone signal so my Mac could hear it. And the Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer does just that.

But it doesn't do just that. The Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer also has separate EQ channels for each track.

EQ is just music-geek for equalization, which is still music-geek for the adjustment of highs and lows of sound. Simple EQ adjustments are your treble and bass knobs on your car radio. By using the Behringer UB802 Eurorack 8 Input Mixer at my gigs, I can adjust the highs and lows of my vocals separately from the highs and lows of my piano, so if my vocals are too "bass-y" and the piano is too "treble-y," I can adjust each.

Which means a better-sounding gig for you.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Fueling up, cleaning up

After this spread, how can you not work in the yard all day?

Mary and the girls -- Sarita, at top left, and Hannah -- put together a great brunch for us this morning, so we men would have plenty of energy to clean up the yard all day.

(If you're wondering, "Clean up what?" check out this post about the tree that fell into our yard.)

Micah, Caleb and I were able to clean up a lot more of our yard today. We have 11 bundles of sticks at the curb and at least that many sore muscles a piece.

But what was really fun was climbing on and over all the fallen logs in the yard. Here, the girls try walking down one of the logs.

And here, the boys try to shake them off.

And here, Hannah (in green) plays cowgirl, while Sarita wields her quarterstaff.

Plenty more to clean up tomorrow.

Wind damage in Fort Wayne

Click on the photos to see them larger.

Some concerned relatives heard about tornadoes in Indiana and called us to make sure we're OK. And we are. The tornadoes ravaged Evansville, which is at the opposite corner of the state, about a 7-hour drive away.

Instead, Fort Wayne received 60-mph winds Sunday morning. About 24,000 people lost power locally. And many trees were knocked down.

Including the one in the backyard of our next-door neighbor to the west. His tree is now taking up most of our backyard.

Above is the scene that greeted us Sunday morning from our bathroom window. Our neighbor's three-stories-high maple was shorn off during the winds and landed mostly in our backyards, but not before gouging a hole in the corner of his two-story garage.

At right is the tree now. You can see where the uppermost part of the tree was stripped off, like string cheese.

As far as anyone knew, the tree was completely healthy. We had a similar, but much larger, tree in our own backyard that we had taken down a few years ago because its roots were digging into our sewer line. I can only imagine was a mess we'd have if that tree would have been knocked over, too. It was enormous.

Neither house was damaged at all on Sunday, and for that we're thankful. But I feared that everything under the tree in our backyard was decimated.

For example, see the white boards in the photo to the right? Those used to be connected to one another.

Micah, Caleb and I constructed, painted and installed two grape arbors in the backyard, and Mary was training some grapevines to climb them.

So, now we're pretty sure this one will have to be replaced. (We found out later that we may be able to repair the second one.)

Also, a chain-link fence separates the properties, and a couple of lengths were smashed to the ground.

But as I looked around yesterday, we began to see that maybe damage was not as bad as we feared.

Our shed, pictured at the top of this post, was also hit by the trunk of the tree. But it seems to have received only superficial damage to a shingle or two.

But this was heart-breaking, at least at first.

Notice the two kinds of leaves in the photo. The huge maple tree crashed down around and on our little cherry tree. The smaller oval-shaped leaves are on the cherry tree.

We had planted the montmorency cherry tree a few years ago, and it was finally big enough this year to give us enough fruit for a pie. And so when I saw this, I thought that no way would this little tree survive.

But Micah, Caleb and I went to work on the yard later in the day, and with a couple of hours of work, we were able to save at least two-thirds of the cherry tree's branches. That's very good news, for that gives the tree a good chance of survival.

Someone took this photo just to prove that I did not force the boys to do all the work.

Here's a picture of what the yard looked like after we cleared some fallen branches from around the cherry tree, which is at the far left of the photo.

So today, it's more yard work for all of us.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Happy birthday cake

My dear Mary has another winner for the birthday cake for church today. (Click on the photo to see it larger.)

Especially note the bears that are toasting marshmallows.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Next gig: Friday, Nov. 4

Clear your calendar: I'll be playing my original songs at The Anchor Room in Fort Wayne on Friday, Nov. 4, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

More details, including a map, on the engagements page.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mocking the devil

Soon after my wife and I became Christians, the first holiday out the window was Halloween. It was obviously devilish, and we wanted our children to have nothing to do with it.

Back in the '80s and early '90s, Satanism scaremongers like the now-discredited Mike Warnke saw nothing but evil in the celebration of Halloween, and American Christians, steeped in the belief that the end times were upon us, were all too eager to believe the worst about any subject.

As my wife and I grew to understand more fully the sovereignty of God, our views on Halloween relaxed. But we were never completely comfortable with the idea.

Until last year. Funny how one well-written article can dismantle all manner of faulty prejudices.

You must read the whole article. For one thing, it's short. Well, kinda short. For another, it's rare to find someone with this opinion of what is so commonly believed to be a Satanic holiday co-opted by the church. The truth may very well be the opposite:

(M)any articles in books, magazines, and encyclopedias are written by secular humanists or even the pop-pagans of the so-called "New Age" movement. ... These people actively suppress the Christian associations of historic customs, and try to magnify the pagan associations. They do this to try and make paganism acceptable and to downplay Christianity. Thus, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc., are said to have pagan origins. Not true.

Oddly, some fundamentalists have been influenced by these slanted views of history. These fundamentalists do not accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of Western history, American history, and science, but sometimes they do accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of the origins of Halloween and Christmas, the Christmas tree, etc. We can hope that in time these brethren will reexamine these matters as well. We ought not to let the pagans do our thinking for us.

Read the entire article.

BONUS: Carve your own online pumpkin.

'Poor mental function'

More proof journalists drink and smoke too much. This headline was found on MSNBC by my 12-year-old son:

"NEW YORK - The poorer mental function seen among alcoholics, many of whom also regularly smoke cigarettes, may be partially due to the long-term effects of nicotine, new research suggests."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Peanuts character quiz

Sometimes, you take one of those Internet personality quizzes and you are genuinely surprised by the result.

This was not one of those times.

Here's what a quiz said about me:

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Katrina Chronicles

If you are looking for the Blogging in Biloxi package of bloggerage, the easiest way to find it is to click on the September 2005 archive and scroll your way up the posts. My first post on going to Biloxi was on Sept. 18.

But if you're in a hurry, and I had to choose only one series of posts, I'd select my posts on Ocean Springs, Miss. Here are the links in chronological order:

But I'd also want to cheat and point you to my posts on Biloxi itself:
Thanks, and your comments are always welcome.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Below the (Bible) Belt

A big thank you goes out to the guys at Get Religion, who linked to my blog a few days ago:

Thanks to blogger Jon Swerens, who has found this story on Mississippi’s debate about rebuilding casinos on land, on water or at all. The story touches on the religion angle of this debate, but in a regrettable parade of characters from central casting, Bible Belt division...

Then, one of the commenters over on Get Religion said something I would have agreed with a few weeks ago:
Isn’t it possible that in Mississippi, that this is a “Bible Belt” issue and there really isn’t any liberal involvement? Unlike in some places, if you are in Mississippi or Alabama, the term “Bible Belt” is used with pride and not as some implied sneer.

Ah, but it depends on where in Mississippi you happen to live.

As the folks at Get Religion are fond of saying, the whole red state-blue state divide is too simplistic. A better divide is perhaps red ZIP code-blue ZIP code.

And the Mississippi Gulf Coast has perhaps the bluest ZIP codes in the state.

Two factors have made the Gulf Coast more "cosmopolitan," as one person called it, than the rest of the state: Tourism and the military.

Because of the, umm, rowdier elements of the military, and the look-the-other-way elements of tourism, the coast is at least culturally more liberal than the rest of the state. (The capital city of Jackson may also be culturally liberal, but I spent very little time there.)

Tourism -- now including the casinos -- and the military are both big economic engines on the coast. And now, post-Katrina, casino proponents feel they have a moral obligation to do what needs to be done to rebuild the casino economy and its 17,000 jobs.

The danger for the coast media -- including those who publish front-page editorials insisting on a tweak in state law to allow casinos on land -- is to discount the arguments against the casinos as divisive and backward. The media has an obligation to cover the opposing side of the casino issue, even if it works against its economic self-interest.

Associated Press photo of the shell of the former Treasure Bay casino in Biloxi.

'Arlo and Janis,' after Katrina

This blog's favorite cartoonist, Jimmy Johnson of "Arlo and Janis," has been running repeats in the newspapers for a week. His house in Pass Christian, Miss., was damaged in Hurricane Katrina. In fact, it's estimated about 70 percent of Pass Christian was destroyed.

Today, Johnson begins running new comics again. And knowing that Johnson has shared in what the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast has gone through makes today's strip -- and I'm willing to guess, he'll keep up the theme for a few days -- especially poignant.

Go to today's strip.

Read about and see photos of Pass Christian on Johnson's personal web site.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Well, paint that nice

Update: I've added a photo of the new curtains.

Here are a few photos of the great painting my family did for me while I was working in Biloxi:

With my father-in-law, I had installed new weather-resistant plywood on top of the floor of the front porch earlier in the summer. But I hadn't painted it yet.

My dear wife, Mary, says when she started painting, she was horrified: the first coat of paint looked pink. But the second coat held up a lot better.

I walked in the house, and this is what I saw.

My dear Mary and I had been trying to decided between a nice peach and a nice blue, wanted to be sure to contrast with the orange-y wood.

But Mary did some research. She read that when a room has a southern exposure -- like this living room -- then you should consider painting it a cool color like blue to cool it down. A warm color will only make such a room look and feel that much warmer.

"Paint it peach," Mary said, "and you may as well light a bonfire in the room."

Plus, Mary made new curtains.

Here's a detail shot of the white ceiling, blue wall and honey oak. (Type of wood unknown; matter is under advisement.)

Now I just have to install the new laminate flooring.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Safely home, but 'strung up'

Whew! I am now at home, resting quite comfortably with my sweet family.

How sweet? Let me tell you what I discovered when I arrived in Fort Wayne:

  • They displayed a big "Welcome Home Daddy!" poster
  • They sprayed me with can upon can of silly string, right there in the terminal (yes, yes, we cleaned it up)
  • They presented me with a "Buy a Dozen, Get a Dozen Free" Krispy Kreme coupon, and so we immediately drove to the doughnut shop
  • Upon arriving home with two dozen doughnuts, I saw that someone had painted the front porch (I soon found out that my two girls, 10 and 7, did most of the work)
  • And when I walked inside, I was doubly surprised to see the entire living room painted, too (that was the work of my wife and two sons, 14 and 12)
Wow! What a welcome!

Bye-bye, Gulf Coast

Today I'm leaving the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I'll be boarding a jet in Jackson, Miss., this afternoon and, after a layover in Cincinnati, I'll be in Fort Wayne around 7 p.m.

As I come across forgotten photos or suppressed memories, I may yet have more to say on the Mississippi Coast. In fact, I certainly can put some sort of linkable table of contents at the top of the blog.

But for now, I'll be seeing you in Indiana.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Geographic dictionary to the Mississippi Gulf Coast

A glossary of helpful terms -- and pronunciations -- for the next News-Sentinel staffer coming to The Sun Herald:

Bay St. Louis town, S Miss., pop. 8,000, across bay of same name from Pass Christian. Heavily damaged by Katrina

Beauvoir /bo-VWAH/ French, "beautiful view." The retirement estate of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. See

Biloxi /beh-LUK-see/ named after the Biloxis, an Indian tribe. City, S Miss., pop. 50,000, east of Gulfport. Note the pronunciation; there is no "ox" sound in "Biloxi." Official website:

D'Iberville /DIE-burr-vill/ named after French settler Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d'Iberville. City, S Miss., pop. 8,000, due north of Biloxi. Official website: Read its history.

DuBuys Road /di-BEEZ/ named for early settler Peter DuBuys. Street address of The Sun Herald.

Gautier /go-SHAY/ or /GO-shay/ city, S Miss., pop. 30,000, about 10 miles east of Biloxi, past Ocean Springs

Gulfport city, S Miss., pop. 70,000, second largest city in Miss. after the capital city of Jackson. Official website:

Honey /HUNN-eh/ term of affection; what waitresses are likely to call you

Kangaroo A popular chain of gas/convenience stores. Official website:

Keesler Air Force Base /KEE-sler/ located in the middle of Biloxi; home of the 81st Training Wing. Official website:

Kiln /kill/, freq. called The Kiln /THE kill/ small unincorporated area NW of Gulfport

Long Beach city, S Miss., pop. 17,000, just west of Gulfport. Official website:

Ocean Springs town, S Miss., pop. 17,000, east of Biloxi across Biloxi Bay.

Pass Christian /PASS kris-tchi-ANN/ town, S Miss., pop. 6,500, just west of Long Beach. Heavily damaged by Katrina

Pass Road The "old" main road from Gulfport through most of Biloxi. Orig. called Pass Christian Road

Saucier /so-SHURE/ or /SO-shure/ town, S Miss., pop. 1,300, about 15 miles N of Gulfport

Sun Herald newspaper for Gulfport-Biloxi area, circ. 50,000. Official website:

Sweetheart /SWEET-art/ term of affection; what hotel housekeepers are likely to call you

Tegarden Road note spelling

Waffle House Ubiquitous 24-hour diner featuring breakfast foods at every interstate offramp. Official website:

Waveland town, S Miss., just west of Bay St. Louis. Heavily damaged by Katrina

See a map of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The casinos

There is one industry that people here are saying must be rebuilt, and must be rebuilt on land instead of on the water:

The casinos.

And there is one industry that the state legislature may or may not allow to build on land, because of pressure from conservative Christians:

The casinos.

The Sun Herald
stakes its claim on the side of the casinos today with a huge, front-page editorial: "Mississippi must decide its future."

The members of the Mississippi Legislature have a choice to make. They can either enable tens of thousands of their fellow Mississippians to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, or they can turn the worst natural disaster in the history of this nation into potentially the worst economic disaster in the history of this state.

Read the accompanying front-page story: "House panel OKs onshore casinos."

The need continues

I'll be leaving Southern Mississippi tomorrow, and unlike so many people here, I'm going home to an actual house.

The stores are open, the curfew is lifted, the restaurants are bustling, and in this one sense, things are getting back to normal.

But so many people are still without places to live, and still unsure what they will do next.

Among those helping is the American Red Cross. It has set up one of the largest kitchens in the South: It's outside, in a parking lot.

This truck delivers 600 to 700 lunches a day. And it is one of 15 trucks. I'll do the math ... umm ... that's more than 10,000 lunches every day.

The need is enormous, and of course The Red Cross is asking for donations and volunteers.

This truck is delivering lunches to volunteers around the area, including those at First Presbyterian Church of Biloxi. And speaking of First Pres:

Darlene, a missionary to Ecuador who is in the States on furlough, has been volunteering at First Pres.

Here, she points out the items on the huge chart the church is using to keep track of the stuff coming in and out and to keep track of the volunteers.

It seems that every time a certain supply runs low, a truck pulls up with those very supplies. Supplies were getting low on Thursday, when this picture was taken. One reason was that Tuesday was an extremely busy day. In eight hours, the church distributed supplies for 686 people.

With grocery stores open, the actual food distribution will not continue for much longer. But there is plenty of other work that needs to be done: Roofing, clean-up, construction, office work, counseling. The church staff has been working very hard, and can use a break, too.

The folks at Mission to North America, the PCA organization that is running the relief operation, say the work on the Gulf Coast will continue as long as three things remain:

  • The church continues to sponsor it
  • The volunteers keep coming
  • The work is here to do
Since there is no chance the work will evaporate anytime soon, and the church is likely to continue housing visiting helpers, the rest is up to volunteers.

Can you help? Can you send money? Can you take the time to come and work? Anyone with the willingness to help can be of help.

You can go to the PCA Relief web page to offer your assistance.

The dark is darker now

Cartoonist Jimmy Johnson, resident of Mississippi Coast town Pass Christian, speaks eloquently about walking around his town after nightfall.

Read his words here. Plus, read his archived "Arlo and Janis" comics.

P.S. Pass Christian is pronounced /PASS kris-tchi-ANN/.

The question

"How'd ya do?"

Two acquaintances meet each other for the first time at Winn-Dixie. After the standard, "Hi!" and "How ya doing?" the next question has become standard etiquette.

"How'd ya do?"

It's the universal ice breaker. We all went through Katrina, it says. We all suffered in some way, even if it was just seeing what happened to other parts of your own town.

All that is a given. Now, I should ask about you personally. And Southern manners has come up with the phrase for all of us to use:

"How'd ya do?"

A group of us from The Sun Herald went to a Chinese buffet on Wednesday. Behind us walked in a woman who evidently was some kind of regular customer before the storm.

Within five seconds, the proprietress had asked the customer, "How'd ya do?"

The customer had lost her home. And the proprietress was able to inform her about her efforts to reopen her business.

This morning, an older gentleman in line with me at P.J.'s Coffee in Gulfport turned around and, after a couple of pleasantries, asked, "How'd ya do?"

I told him I wasn't here, nor did I even live here.

"Well," he drawled, "that's good for you."

"How'd you do?" I asked.

"My house is somewhere in the sound," he said.

The man was retired and in some way well-off. He had a good amount of money in stocks. But of course, that might be everything he has to live on for the rest of his life.

And now, his house is in the sound. And he's been trying to get a FEMA trailer delivered to his plot of land, close enough to the beach "you can hit a golf ball into the water from my front yard." But, he'll survive, he says.

Everyone wants to talk about what he has had to go through. But no one wants to be so impolite as to just start blabbing about his own difficulties.

So, when you visit, and you start meeting a few residents, remember that they all have a Katrina story. But they won't tell you what it is unless you ask:

"How'd ya do?"

Time to pack my bags

First thing tomorrow morning, I step into my rental car -- a Subaru Outback, a nice ride -- and drive to Jackson, Miss., for my flight home.

I also have some things to pack onto this blog before I go. I hope to offer an update of the ministry of First Presbyterian of Biloxi, and a handy glossary for future visitors to Biloxi-Gulfport and The Sun Herald.

Who needs FEMA when you have NASA?

In case you don't know, ScrappleFace is a satirical news site.

And here's some "news" I missed from last week:

NASA Promotes Hurricane-Free Moon Villages

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fort Wayne in the news

So, I tottled over to The Sun Herald home page, clicked on the More Photos link, and scrolled through to find ... Fort Wayne!

Photo by The Associated Press

Caption: Dave Anderson, left, and Kent Rybolt of Ft. Wayne, Ind., sell Hurricane Katrina T-shirts along a highway in Gulfport. Reaction has been mixed.

And I'm told some residents are actually wearing them.

Read the story, "Free enterprise at work: Katrina T-shirts amid the rubble."

You know what's funny?, which hosts this weblog, has a spell check.

The word "blog" is not in its dictionary.

The waiting

Over supper, I met Batch and Holly -- Batch is the guy responsible for the Latin-rific Simul Justus et Peccator blog.

It was never intended to become Katrina Central for the PCA, but there it is.

(And I took my camera with me and never took a picture of them. My brain sometimes.)

Batch and Holly lost their house to Katrina. That of course was very difficult and draining.

But now they're in a new difficult and draining portion of the disaster: Trying to figure out what to do next.

Do you stay? Do you rebuild? Can you afford to rebuild? Do you really want to live in the same spot? Can you find a job? Can you afford to stay and find a job? Should you move to find a job?

And all the while, you're calling and meeting with representatives of layer upon layer of government and insurance bureaucracy.

This is a time when prayer is most needed for patience through this particular trial.

Read more on his blog.

Sign off

I understand that this sign on Pass Road just west of Keesler Air Force Base was one of only two original McDonald's signs in the country.

Biloxi has a mall, after all

When I drove by the small sign on Pass Road that proclaimed, "Sears is now open!" I wondered, where's Sears? Where is there even a mall?

I had driven over a lot of the main roads of Biloxi and Gulfport except for one: U.S. 90, also called Beach Boulevard, which has been closed to the general public since Katrina.

And that is where you can find Edgewater Mall.

It's a big one, too, a bit smaller than Fort Wayne's Glenbrook Square. (Glenbrook has 175 stores, Edgewater has "more than a hundred.")

But the mall is right beside the beach and has been closed since the storm. And Sears, despite having doors that face the ocean, is the first store there to reopen.

Security guards directed shoppers around the mall through several construction crews trying to restore the rest of the mall. But what caught my eye was this:

I wondered if this O'Charley's had been in the middle of demolition when Katrina struck. Here's a closer look:

There isn't enough rubble for this to have been a working restaurant, right?

But it was. A resident drove up to take a look around and I asked him about the place. He said this was one of the most popular places to eat on the beach.

"You'd have to wait in line to get in," he said.

Of course, nowadays you have to wait in line to eat anywhere.

Evidently, anything that could float, including tables and chairs, was washed out to sea.

Think of it. The floor of the restaurant couldn't have been more than ten feet above sea level. The storm surge was 30 feet. The math is frightening.

Over my shoulder was this:

And past the auto center were two other buildings that I found out were BellSouth offices:

Notice how the second story of this building looks practically intact, while the first floor is completely washed out.

Unlike this one.

But then I startled myself with what was right in front of me: This huge, glorious tree survived. There is nothing but a road and the beach between the tree and the gulf.

So now I can end with a couple of shots of the Gulf of Mexico itself.

It's always there, calm enough to be sleeping, not even a surf to talk about.

Can you imagine the size of a storm that could bring water thirty feet above sea level? A storm surge of thirty feet. The mind boggles.

Thanks a yacht

This is the latest post in a series on Ocean Springs, Miss. Scroll down for the others and click the photos for enlargements.

Local resident Jean told me to keep going down Front Beach Drive, and it will swing around into an inlet where some boats have found themselves in places boats don't belong.

His neighbor to the right also had unwelcome visitors. Note the little green boat right of center; it seems to be resting on top of several posts.

And then, lo and behold:

Sun Herald photo by David Purdy

Here's another photo from The Sun Herald's package of aerial shots. This is an aerial view of what you see in my photos above. Note again how little cleanup has happened in a month.

And then I go up a hill, turn to the left, go up another short hill, and on the corner we have some boats, pushed up quite a little hill to rest on this residential street.

Thus concludes our tour of Ocean Springs. Be sure to check out all the posts below.

The Destruction Variety-Pak

This is the latest post in a series on Ocean Springs, Miss. Scroll down for the others and click the photos for enlargements.

Katrina has a crazy variety of ways to destroy your home: Winds, storm surge, rain. And then, like in this case, Katrina would simply dig the dirt out from under your house.

Wherever you find a line of trees or a fence, you find a scene like this, where bags and clothes were caught mid-flight.

Jean told me that right behind that tree, where you can see a layer of concrete blocks on the ground, was once an old home. The brick house in the background looked as though it may have survived Katrina's wrath ...

... until I walked 30 feet and saw the front. This home was owned by a woman who had just completed renovations so that her elderly mother could live with her. A local businessman has helpfully posted an advertisement for demolition services on a post in the foreground.

You may have to click on this photo to get a good view of the homes on the rise. These houses look like Katrina shoved these houses into themselves, the way you'd shove away a dinner plate at the table.

More steps to nowhere.

Too bad hurricanes can't read.