Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The Yellow Car I Built
Janine Strecker
(Mother of Heidelberg Student Shelby)

     My name is Mike and it was June.  School was almost out and I needed a job.  Although I was young, I always remember having chores and summertime jobs.  I did chores and earned money to buy the extra things that I wanted.

     Mr. Wells was a man who lived across town.  He needed someone to help make a car from a kit for his son, Carl.  These kit cars were like real cars, but made for kids.  They were made from steel and had windows that really worked!  The chrome rims on the wheels were so shiny that they actually reflected like a mirror.  Yes, these kit cars were made only for the rich.  They were made for a different kind of people – people with a lot of money.  I didn’t come from that.  Don’t get me wrong; my family never went hungry.  We were just ordinary folks who had ordinary things.

     When I heard about Mr. Wells needing someone to make a kit car, I knew that I wanted the job.  I called him and told him that I worked on many things with my hands.  I explained that I made rafts, go-carts, and even fixed bicycles.  He knew I worked hard, so he hired me.

     After he told me I got the job, I went over to his house.  His house was just amazing.  I never knew houses could be so big!  He showed me a picture of the car that I was going to build.  “Wow, this car is awesome!” I shouted with excitement.

     Mr. Wells smiled and said, “I’ll bring the kit car to your garage tomorrow and you can work on it all summer long.”  Mr. Wells was going on vacation with his family and wasn’t coming home until August.

     The next day, he brought it over and I couldn’t wait to get started.  I opened the box.   I had never seen so many parts.  Before I got started, I read all the directions.  I didn’t want to make any mistakes.  Each day, I worked on the car.  I made sure that every screw was in just right.  I tested all the wheels to make sure they turned smoothly, without any squeaks.  I have to admit, there were times when I would get so frustrated because I couldn’t get things to work correctly.  I remember, I had a really hard time aligning the car doors.  They just wouldn’t close properly.  I got so frustrated, but I kept at it, and finally got everything to work. 

     Every night before I went in for dinner, I would cover up the car.  I didn’t want anyone to touch or ruin it.  Sometimes after dinner, I’d work on it some more.  It seemed like all I wanted to do was work on this car.  At last, it was time to paint the car.  I painted it red – a cherry apple red.  It was a beauty!  It was finished, and I was so proud.

     Mr. Wells and his family returned home from their vacation.  He called me and asked how the car was coming along.  I told him that it was finished.  He was excited to hear the news and came over to my garage to get the car.  He looked at the car and said, “Mike, the car is just gorgeous and I can tell you worked very hard.”   I smiled and was happy he noticed.  He paid me and then took the car to his home.

     It was now August, and time for football.  My friends and I would ride our bikes to the park and play some ball.   We always ended up filthy and our clothes were covered with grass stains, but we had the greatest time playing.   Sometimes when I was playing on the field, I would see Carl driving in the beautiful car that I built.  I noticed that the car needed to be cleaned and the chrome rims weren’t even shining.  “He doesn’t even appreciate the car,” I mumbled to myself.  “If I had a car like that, it would be sparkling.  He gets all the breaks.”

     At least I was having a good time with my friends.  But then one day, I got a call from Mr. Wells.  He asked me if I would like to build another car.  I didn’t really want to.  I don’t know why, I guess I just wanted to hang out my buddies.  But I needed the money, so I told him that I would do the job.  

     He brought it to my garage so I could start working on it.  I looked at a picture of the car.  It was going to be a mini sports car.  This car was even better than the first one.  Mr. Wells wanted it completed by October.  I knew I had plenty of time, so I didn’t start on it right away. 

     After a couple of days, I opened the box to get started.   There were a lot of parts, but this time I didn’t want to read the directions.  After all, I did such a good job last time, it didn’t seem necessary.   Besides, I bet Carl wouldn’t even notice if things weren’t done right. 

     I was having fun playing with my friends.  But then I would feel guilty, and knew I had to go work on the car some more.  However, it just wasn’t the same as the last time.  If I couldn’t find the right screw, I would use one that I already had.  The doors were a little wobbly – but the car was getting built.

     Each night before dinner, I’d cover up the car.  I didn’t cover up the car to protect it, but to cover up my work.  I didn’t want my family to see how uninterested I’d become.  Besides I knew with a shiny coat of paint, no one would know how the car was really built.  Finally, the car was almost finished.  All I had to do was paint it.  I chose yellow – a tangy citrus yellow.  The car was beautiful, at least from the outside.

     I called Mr. Wells and told him the car was finished and he could pick it up anytime.  The next day, Mr. Wells came over and paid me.  He thanked me for all my hard work.  I smiled, but looked down feeling a little awkward.  He then added, “Mike I want to give you this yellow car.  It’s yours to keep.  You’ve earned it.”


     I couldn’t believe my ears.  This car was mine.  I could have had the best car in town, but I did shabby work.  If I had only known, I would have built it so differently.  But the car was mine, just the way I built it.

     “I thank you Mr. Wells.  You are so generous to give me such a gift.  I will never forget it,” I said - knowing that I never would. 

     It has been many summers since I built that yellow car.  I’m now older and have an office job.  But I keep a picture of the mini yellow sports car on my desk just so I remember that the choices we make today affect our tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Admittedly, those words of the post title may seem a bit provocative, but I am unabashedly shameless in typing them and in speaking them to other basketball fans.  I have previously written about my delight when Denver dealt Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, particularly when the trade strengthened the Nuggets team-ball style of play vis a vis the Melo One on One Show.  I certainly enjoy watching the Nuggets win, but will admit to some curmudgeonly Schadenfreude when the Knicks lose.  My inkling was that Melo being the prime mover on the Knicks would ultimately lead to a train wreck, and that scenario continues to play out - Lin traded, Stoudemier relegated to second fiddle, MeBall creeping into the foreground, losses accumulating and just recently, picking up Kenyon Martin who is decidedly on the back side of the hill.

And I will take this guy any day of the year over Carmelo.

Friday, February 22, 2013



The amount of spam sent to this blog via the comments section is quite amazing.  Virtually all such "comments" are promotional - either for their own websites or for marketing something - selling UGGS seem to be really popular.  Most of these nefarious activities are caught by the spam filter and do not end up in the comments section, but I get to have a look at each one just to see if the filter blocked a comment that is legitimate.  The following are some of my "favorites" with the links removed - note the general tendency toward terrible grammar or total gibberish!  I suspect that many of these come from China.  Some try to couch the comment in praise, and then ask for a visit to their site.  I have to wonder if these idiots get any responses, but judging from the numbers I receive, there must be other idiots who click on their links.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


GOSHEN — Paul T. Emmert, 86, died Saturday night, Feb. 16, 2013, at Courtyard Healthcare where he had been a patient for one year under Hospice care.

He was born May 8, 1926, in New Paris to George and Fae (Rock) Emmert.

He married AnnaBelle Aschliman on Nov. 26, 1950, in New Paris.

He is survived by his wife; two daughters, Paula Emmert of New Paris and Linda (Blaine) Gilbert of Goshen; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and a sister, Jacqueline Kurtz of New Paris, who came to live with the family at the age of 8, upon the death of her mother Rachel, Fae Emmert’s sister.

Paul was preceded in death by a daughter, Marcia Bloss; his parents; and three young siblings, Harley, Eddie and Kathleen Emmert.

Paul graduated from New Paris High School in 1944. He joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Armored Guard Division.

He then worked for the New Paris Post Office under Postmaster Ora Stiver for a number of years.

He owned and operated his own business, Emmert Poultry, delivering dressed poultry, meats and frozen food commodities to grocery stores and restaurants. He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church.

In honor of Paul’s wishes, there will be no calling except for one hour before the service at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at Grace United Methodist Church, located on Main Street, New Paris. The service will be conducted by the Rev. Robert Nelson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Goshen Home Care and Hospice, P.O. Box 723, Goshen, IN 46526; Salvation Army, P.O. Box 114, Goshen, IN 46527; or the Missions Department at Grace United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 25, New Paris, IN, 46553.

Elkhart Cremation Services is entrusted with arrangements.
I am fairly sure that not very many people in the US have a draft card signed by their uncle!  As noted in Uncle Red's obituary above, Red served in the Navy and was a draft board member in Elkhart County for a number of years including during the time of the Vietnam War - or as the Vietnamese say, the American War.  At age 18, I had registered as a conscientious objector and at 22, after college, was drafted as was virtually every young man at the time.  Normally anyone who registered as a CO got called before the draft board for questioning, but I did not get that call.  Only recently Red told me that the draft board often met informally to discuss draftees and one of those discussions resulted in my being granted CO status without having to appear - which most likely spared me from the usual hectoring from some of the board members.
Family and friends have many fond memories of Uncle Red, and I am hopeful that they will be shared in the comment section below.  Godspeed Uncle Red.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I have previously written about best friend and colleague Ron Wisner.  But this post is about the Spirit Award given in Ron's memory by the CU-Colorado Springs community.  The award description and selection criteria are a good reminder of the many things that Ron stood for.
"In memory of Ron Wisner, former UCCS Dean of Students, friend, colleague and outstanding campus leader, we are honored to present the Ron Wisner Human Spirit Award to one outstanding UCCS student leader."
"The Ron Wisner Human Spirit and Leadership Award"
o   consistently sees possibilities and opportunities in a big picture
o   articulates and communicates possibilities and opportunities clearly
o   inspires others to join in supporting the visions
o   consistently identifies solutions to current and future challenges
    • is a model of ethical word and action
    • takes stands against unethical and dysfunctional situations
    • is dependable, reliable, and credible
    • consistently chooses the higher road, the harder right instead of the easier wrong 
 Relationships & Teamwork:
o   brings out strengths and talents of and supports all individual group members
o   inspires others to lift the human spirit and improve the human condition
o   practices “inclusion” of other organizations/department members in planning and implementing activities
o   is a strong proponent of diversity
o   seeks and values feedback from others
    • shows initiative in moving projects and teams forward
    • demonstrates on-going flexibility, creativity, and perseverance
    • makes a highly significant contribution to students, the University and surrounding communities through responsible stewardship

Friday, February 08, 2013


If you have ever laced up the running shoes, gone for a run, felt a bit of exhilaration, peace, wonder, accomplishment and exhaustion all wrapped together, then you definitely need to read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
The Hidden Tribe is the Tarahumara of Mexico's Copper Canyon, the Super Athletes are folks like Scott Jurek shown at the top running with Tarahumara Arnulfo Quimare, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen was the brainchild of Caballo Blanco, and it matched the top Tarahumara runners against some of the top US ultramarathoners in a 50+ mile race on the trails through the Copper Canyon. 
Here is an interesting YouTube video about the Tarahumara
There are many reviews of McDougall's book, such as this one, that discuss not only the race and the runners, but also topics such as sports medicine and evolution.  However, here I want to share a bit of what I learned about Caballo Blanco, aka Micah True, aka Michael Randall Hickman.

The first time that I had heard about True, Caballo Blanco, is when he disappeared.  On March 27 of 2012, True went for a run in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico.  As usual, he was alone and was going for a long run - but he never returned. Here is a timeline of the search, and the New York Times wrote an extensive story about Caballo here.   But the stories in the Boulder Daily Camera brought True's story closer to home because of Caballo's long-standing relationship with Boulder and the Colorado running community. 
In the final chapter of McDougall's book, we read about the moment that Christopher had been waiting for - Caballo was telling his story about how he came to be the White Horse of Copper Canyon - his progression from Michael Hickman to the Gypsy Cowboy to Micah True to Caballo Blanco.  Sorry - you will have to read the book for all of the details, but suffice it to say, you will surely find it fascinating. 
What struck me most was this passage that McDougall wrote:
"When I get too old to work, I'll do what Geronimo would've done if they'd left him alone," Caballo said.  "I'd walk off into the deep canyons and find a quiet place to lie down."  There was no melodrama or self-pity in the way Caballo said this, just the understanding that some day, the life he'd chosen would require one last disappearing act. 
"So maybe I'll see you again. Or maybe I won't"
And at the age of 58, Caballo went out for his last run, deep in the canyons, and found a quiet place to lay down and die.


Thursday, February 07, 2013

ELIAS 1, 2 & 3

Elias 1 is from the Hebrew Bible.  Elijah and Elias are used to describe the same person, with Elijah being Hebrew and Elias being Greek.  The prophet Elijah (1 Kings 16:29 to 2 Kings 2:18) practiced his ministry in Israel during the reigns of King Ahab (874-853 BC) and his son King Abaziah (853-852 BC).   Elijah, a Tishbite from the region of Gilead, was a prophet in Israel during the reigns of Ahab, Ahaziah and Jehoram. All his life Elijah was active in the defense of God. His teachings brought him into constant conflict with the Kings of Israel, and on one occasion had to flee for his life. He fought against the cult of Baal, and clashed frequently with Ahab's wife Jezebel, who had introduced the pagan cult in Israel.  The New Testament uses Elias in reference to the Old Testament Elijah.  The above was taken from  here and here and much more information can be found here.
Elias 2 is the Oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.  I had the pleasure of hearing a performance of the oratorio last Saturday evening at Peterskirche.  Information about the program can be seen here and here, information regarding the choir here, and about the orchestra, here.
Camerata - Fotograf Schwerdt

As some of you know, Elias 3 is the most "important" Elias.  Elias Swartzendruber Moyer is our grandson, son of Jonathan and Rachel Moyer, and here is Flying Elias:

Saturday, February 02, 2013


From both an aesthetic and an evolutionary perspective, eyes are fascinating.  This post is not a detailed reference to the great variability, complexity and development of eyes - google 'animal eyes' and you will find an abundance of information and images.  A good example of more detailed information is at the University of Utah link here - be sure to click through the 17 slides showing the progression from the most simple eye to the most complex. 

Here Are Some Of My Favorites