Ashes to Ashes

“For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” ~Ecclesiastes 12:7

Lately I’ve been watching “The Walking Dead” (AMC, but watching on Netflix). This show does a phenomenal job of representing a post-apocalyptic-type world where nothing is maintained and things fall apart. Things like running water and electricity are rare, and certainly no-one is bothering to mow their grass with zombies walking around. One great example of this is the ‘Alexandria settlement‘, which is like a planned luxury community turned into a (almost) zombie-proof fortress.

But this isn’t about TWD, so much as it is about the frailty of things – including relationships. Think about the people who have crossed your path in life, through high school, maybe college, various places of employment. Some of these folks you may have considered friends. At the time, at least, they were important to you. But then the time came when you had to take a different fork in the road. Perhaps you gave a hug… a “see you later” and “we’ll keep in touch!” And maybe for a while you did. I guess mow that we have Facebook, that is a little easier. But in the past, you made a best-effort. Perhaps you dropped by, sent a card, had lunch. But the hands of time move on, and slowly you lost contact. As you became more absorbed in those newer things in your life, the people and things of the past slowly faded away.

It’s really sad, how we “lose touch” with our past, and the things that were once so important. How the “new and shiny” friendships and places give way to newer and shinier. Hopefully as you age you hold on to a few things from the past… friendships, most importantly, but places as well. Everyone should change (for the better, I hope) as they age, but they should also hold on to at least some of what led you to where you are in life.

I’m a sentimentalist… when I see old places, I think “how sad… this was once a great place”. Others might see the same place and see only opportunity.  I think it’s important to see both. Check out the video below… it’s sad to see how we let things go. For reasons unknown, these places lost their grip on people.  Perhaps they were just not profitable, or maybe something newer just captured everyone’s fascination. But looking back at the old photos vs. the current photos, people once enjoyed these places. I’m sure if you visit them now, you could almost hear the echoes of the past.

~M

Update – the original video that accompanied this article (and kind of sparked it) was removed from YouTube for some reason. This video captures a little of the essence of what I was hitting on… enjoy.

Feel the Kneel?

Thus far, I have largely remained quiet about the NFL players — and now NBA players — kneeling during the National Anthem. The arguments have been many… for and against. They have a right to protest, they shouldn’t protest during the anthem, they are protesting respectfully and peacefully, they are disrespecting soldiers, veterans, police officers, etc. Joshua Perry, a linebacker for the Colts, recently penned an article stating his position. I believe his arguments are both valid, and flawed.

Honestly, like most things, the answer is likely somewhere in the middle. Sadly, what you believe may be ‘slanted’ by what you choose to read. If you read the National Review, for example, you’ll find that police violence against black people is rare and the media narrative is damaging. If you read US News, you’ll learn that black males are 3 times more likely to be killed by police (based on a recent study out of Drexel University). Sadly, most people do not take time to understand and absorb all elements and statistics. Along the lines of “you are what you eat”, you tend to believe most strongly what comes from the sources you trust and frequent.

Generally speaking, the players are right… and they are wrong. They are protesting, which is within their right. They are protesting while on the JOB, which may NOT be right. Consider – are you allowed to protest at your job? Just because you have a national stage, does that give you the right to exercise that for your cause? I don’t believe most players who are protesting are necessarily trying to disrespect soldiers, veterans, or the flag itself. But it’s a narrative that has emerged. Certainly, NFL owners do not care for the protesting, because it distracts from their product — which is “selling” fun, good times, competition, etc.

And there’s the rub. My personal experience is that I watch and attend NFL games to ESCAPE the daily frustrations. It’s a good way to get away and just have some fun… a way to kind of “forget about the world” for a minute and just enjoy watching a game I love. I’m not there to argue or debate about concussions, police violence, etc. The more that stuff creeps into the experience, the less ‘entertained’ I am. Is that right or wrong? Again, it likely depends on your perspective. By no means am I trying to ignore the cause — I just simply don’t want to think about it at that moment. If a player like Colin Kaepernick wants to leverage his popularity and position to speak out while he’s off the field and outside the stadium, then so be it. Ironically, many people chastised Tim Tebow for taking a knee in prayer after scoring a touchdown. Many of these same people support Kaepernick. Conversely, many of those who supported Tebow are intensely angry at Kaepernick. Perhaps the difference was that Tebow took a knee in celebration, not consternation. He wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind or influence anyone.

At the end of the day, I am well aware of everyone’s opinions. But that’s not why I consume the NFL product. If something tastes bad, you spit it out. Sadly, if players and the NFL are not careful, some will do the same with their product. For now, I’m not willing to give up my football just because some folks choose to exercise their position and influence others, rightly or wrongly. I’ll just tune out for the anthem.

Play on, players.
~M

1-800-273-8255 (there is hope)

Hey folks… I haven’t written in a while. Been busy, and haven’t been in the writing mood. Plus, WordPress goofed up my template and it was a pain to fix. But that’s not why I’m writing…

Today, I received word that a former co-worker and friend who had lost his job back in the summer (due to layoffs) took his own life yesterday. Gone. Just like that. He and I had communicated back in July about the whole ordeal. I wasn’t aware of anything at my company, but I put him in touch with a recruiter that often sends things my way. I know they made contact, and things sounded like they were looking up. In fact, I understand he was to start a new job soon. I don’t have any details. I don’t know what happened. We weren’t ‘close’, so I failed to reach back out and see how his search was going. In retrospect, perhaps I should have, though it may not have changed anything.

I’m aware of depression, but at this point I simply cannot fathom what brings a person to such a momentous decision. I also do not know what else may or may not have been happening in this man’s life. What I DO know is that this is absolutely not the answer or solution to any problem. In fact, it creates deep and lasting pain for those you love way more than it serves to ease your own. Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). My experience has been that this is true. If God brings you to it, He will see you through it. 

So if you need help, call 1-800-273-8255. There is hope.

RIP J.S.

Help Support ‘Team Tater’!

Anyone who knows my son knows how much he loves football. Following his attendance at the USA Football Regional Development camps in Lexington and Indianapolis, Tate was selected to take part in the 2017 U.S. National Team Development Games this summer as a Linebacker! Tate will be traveling to Canton, OH, at the end of July to participate in a 5-day overnight camp that led by college coaches and former NFL players. The camp will end with a full-contact game on Saturday, July 22nd (televised online), where he will wear the stars and stripes of the US National Team.

Invitation to the U.S. National Team program is a very selective process, and advancement to the Development Games the final step in the USNFT player training and evaluation pathway. Per USA Football, it is a tremendous accomplishment that could lead to even bigger opportunities down the road. Invitation to the program was based on talent, leadership, and character. Rosters for these events are comprised of the best players from across 30 highly-competitive Regional Development camps that were held nationwide this spring. Players from the Development Games can be selected for participation in the International Bowl games. Of approximately 15,000+ RDC campers, only about 2,500 are selected for the Development Games.

Of course, like any program, there is a cost involved. This covers everything from uniform and equipment costs to food, board, and travel. The FlipGive site allows Tate to earn funds toward his goal when you buy something online (including gift cards). Or, if you do not wish to make any online purchases, it also allows you to make a direct donation to his campaign. Emily and I have also challenged Tate to earn a portion of his own funds. This is just one of the ways for him to carry out that goal.

If you are shopping online and do not mind joining Tate’s team, your participation or contribution of any type or amount is greatly appreciated!

Indiana Army Ammunition Plant

Years ago, at the forefront of WW2, the federal government quietly began buying up land near Charlestown, IN. Well – I’m not sure how quiet it was, as many were not happy about it. But in short order, the government had gobbled up homes, family farms, churches, the site of the former Rose Island Amusement Park (see a great video here as an amazing example of how nature has reclaimed this site).  Sadly, elements of the community that had been around for over a hundred years were suddenly part of the 12,000+ acre Hoosier Ordnance Plant. Many long-standing families were forced to move, with some even leaving the area entirely with a sense of distaste and rejection. Ironically, much of the land was likely not even needed, with hundreds to thousands of acres still being left to woodland and agricultural purposes. A huge part of the land was not even suitable for anything. Miles upon miles of fence and rail tracks were installed.

At its peak, the plant employed well over 25,000 people, and is given credit for pulling the area out of the Great Depression. However, it could be argued that the need for employees, cheap pop-up government housing, and the fact that the plant only operated in full capacity for about 5 years, actually led to significant long-term poverty and economic depression in the nearby city of Charlestown, IN.

Over time, the plant was slowly shut down. In 1960, a small chunk of land was given over to Clark County for the 4-H center. In 1992, it was finally shuttered for good. Between 1993 and 2004, around 5,100 acres were given over to the State of Indiana to form the Charlestown State Park (including the aforementioned Rose Island property).  Much of the rest (@3000 acres) has been transitioned over to the River Ridge Commerce Center, a fast-growing business and industrial park.

While the INAAP may be gone, it is certainly NOT forgotten. At least, not yet. Many remnants of the old plant still remain, and are slowly being cleaned up. A fascinating history of the plant, along with pictures, can be found here. Former military housing still stands, lost among the weeds. Public is not allowed in that area, but those who have been there report that many houses just appear as if folks up and moved without warning – appliances and furniture left behind for ghosts.

Below is a link to another fascinating photo journey through some of the remains of the old plant. Hopefully photos such as this can be retained for time as a reminder of our greatness and folly.

~Mike

INAAP: Indiana Army Ammunition Plant Charlestown, IN

Random thoughts from a regular guy…

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