Category Archives: This or That

Beyond Boring Church Names

Our missionaries in Thailand are attending a Thai church called Cool Shade of Life (or at least, that’s the English translation). No American would come up with such a great name. We’re stuck on such names as New Hope, Fellowship, Calvary, Trinity, Faith, Grace, etc. “Cool Shade of Life” definitely has an East Asian feel to it. I’ll bet a name like that would draw a crowd in Arizona.

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July 4 seemed like a superb opportunity for some soda-related Americana. So for our family’s July 4 gathering at my brother’s rural home in Convoy, Ohio, I took along an ice chest filled with about 25 bottles of soda from Antiqology.

Antiqology is a great little store in downtown Huntington. They have a wall containing about 300 different types of sodas–lots of root beers, birch beers, cream sodas, and sundry other flavors. I have a variety of root beers, Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, several Jic Jac flavors, and more.

Everyone loved picking through the ice chest to find a bottle to try out. The Hippo Size drinks seemed to be the most popular. The photo shows seven different kinds of root beers I’ve gotten from Antiqology.

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Who Gets Hit By Lightning?


Interesting little fact: of the 261 persons killed by lightning during the last seven years, 211 were men. The conclusion in the article I read: Men are stupid and think they are invincible.

Seven persons have been killed by lightning so far this year–all men. They were: fishing, closing car windows, riding a motorcycle, picking blueberries, roofing a business, and near tall trees. Men are more likely to do outdoors-related things.

Also interesting: lightning deaths have greatly dropped. In 1943, there were 432 lightning deaths, compared to just 13 in 2013. I guess people are spending a lot less time outdoors. Could this be an argument in favor of spending the day watching TV, or letting your kids hibernate in their rooms playing video games? Were my parents irresponsible for letting me roam around outside all the time?

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Press “Order” to Order


Chili’s is doing away with waiters and waitresses, replacing them with tablets. You order from the tablet, and pay with it. It’s a business decision, a money-maker. Tests show:

  • People order faster, since they don’t need to wait for a server. That cuts an average of 5 minutes off the meal…meaning a quicker turn-around of tables.
  • The pictures on the tablets are much bigger than in a traditional menu.
  • People order far more appetizers–20% more. It’s an impulse thing. If you come hungry and you’re greeted with a picture of nachos, you may well order it.
  • Pictures of desserts appear as you’re eating. Chili’s has seen a 20% increase in dessert sales. Hit a button, and somebody will bring it.
  • The tablets set a default tip amount of 20%, which people tend to go with. They can change it, but it requires a conscious action. I’m not sure who you’re actually tipping, of course, since you don’t have a server.

So we may someday say, “Yeah, I remember when people actually came to your table to take your order.” Is this a good thing?

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Those Were the Days

Google has eliminated underlined links from its search pages. Years from now, I’ll be sitting around with other old codgers saying, “Remember when all links on the internet had blue underlines?” Then we’ll all thoughtfully chew our gums.

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Cracking Walnuts, Pakistan Style

In Pakistan, a man set a world record by smashing 155 walnuts with his head in one minute. Smashing walnuts with your head–that’s among the saner things that happen in Pakistan.

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The Making of a Folk Hero

A mix of the disturbing and of the encouraging. George Zimmerman was to appear at the New Orlando Gun Show, but it was cancelled because of community backlash. (Cheer.) Instead, he appeared at what’s described as a “scaled down” version of the gun show at a local store. There, he signed autographs.

Seriously? People came to get George Zimmerman’s autograph? Some kind of folk hero?

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What We Did




The deadliest air raid of World War 2 occurred on March 10, 1945, when 300 American B-29s fire-bombed Tokyo–three streams of bombers over a three-hour period, dropping bombs packed with phosphorous and napalm. Bomber crews toward the end said they could smell burnt flesh as they flew over Tokyo. The conflagration killed over 100,000 people, and destroyed nearly 270,000 buildings (most Japanese buildings were made of wood).

By the end of the war, over 60 Japanese cities received similar treatment.

The goal was to break the enemy’s morale, but as in Germany with the firebombing of such cities as Hamburg and Dresden, that didn’t happen. All it did was kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants–men, women, and children.

A Japanese photographer named Ishikawa Koyo captured the carnage in some stunning photographs which are just now coming to light. Three of them are above. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Ann Kiemel Stricken with Cancer

Ann Kiemel Anderson in September 2013 (with birthday cake).

Ann Kiemel Anderson in September 2013 (with birthday cake).

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. No post has received more comments than a post in 2006 titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?” It has thus far received 85 comments.

I just received this update from a reader, reporting that Ann Kiemel is dying of cancer.

“Last year, Ann had surgery to correct bones in her foot that were not fusing. A very painful recovery ensued and she had to take prescription painkillers. Some of you may know from her last book, “Seduced by Success,” that she became addicted to these drugs years ago after suffering multiple miscarriages. She went through rehab then and has remained drug-free until the foot surgery.

“Around the first of February 2014, she went back to rehab to detox from the drugs. She stopped updating her website about this time but a friend took it over for her. Ann was in so much pain that the doctor knew something else was wrong. A scan revealed blood clots in her lungs. She was sent home with blood thinning medication, but the pain continued.

“MRI and PET scans revealed an aggressive, metastasized cancer throughout her body. Jan (her twin sister who has cancer herself) is at her side. More updates will be posted to Caringbridge and Facebook. This is so, so sad. How could the cancer have gone unnoticed for so long? Please be in prayer for Ann’s family.”

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Ten Days and the End of Western Civilization

When I was a kid, we always had a full three months of summer vacation. But today’s school begins in August and extends into June. Now, thanks to this horrendous weather, kids face attending school deep into the summer, to make up for cancellations.

Would it be so bad to say, “Let’s just write off those days. No need to make them up. It was an act of God. Let kids enjoy the summer.”

Would missing 10 days of school cause this entire generation of children to fall so far behind the Chinese that America’s preeminent status would crumble, and communism would conquer the world? I’m just wondering about the apocalyptic consequences of cutting this particular school year short.

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