AlanGustin Blog2

Happy Father’s Day to Me!

Posted in life by alangustin on June 19, 2011

I, along with my wife and kids are at Chase Field in Phoenix waiting for the start of the game between the Diamondbacks and the White Sox. What a lovely Father’s Day!

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Memorial or Pep Rally?

Posted in life, news, Politics by alangustin on January 13, 2011

Very odd…

Is this the most welcomed diversion that America could have hoped for? That question may offend some. It may well be that America needs a diversion, but not at the expense of lost lives. Right?

It may well be that the shootings in Tucson have provided our President with just the right diversion at just the right time. It is extremely interesting to watch the Tucson Memorial Service that was re-broadcast over and over again on Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday morning.

The event seems to have been ultra-organized… super-planned… choreographed by some higher power that writes immaculate speeches. How in the world were all those people able to attend this event if not for some divine orchestration? Why… it seems that even God Himself showed up at the event. How else could such an outpouring of scripture emanate from the likes of Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, and Barak Hussein Obama himself? Surely the Spirit of God was hovering over that gathering.

Such a sarcastic view might otherwise be dismissed as partisan grumbling, but this time the hidden cannot help but come out from behind the facade. One expected to see a glimpse of a stage-hand holding up an ‘applause’ sign to the audience. And applause there was. It was so out of place for a memorial service, that it created an atmosphere of political convention. One might easily swap venues and imagine thousands of people in the crowd holding signs displaying the slogan, “Obama: Four More Years!”

Many of us are trying really hard to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. The display of concern and compassion was truly comforting, if one can overlook the weird feel of the event. It seemed like overkill. It seemed like opportunistic, cashing-in.

Again, sarcasm may be clouding reality. H-m-m-m?

It seems that the country has found something to rally around… namely, the squashing of harsh, partisan rhetoric. The shootings in Tucson, were made worse by the fact that a congresswoman was critically wounded, and a nine-year-old girl and federal judge was killed. This tradgedy seems to have released an outpouring of concern across America, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 9/11. If it weren’t for the Rahm Emanuel statement, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste”, many who are, wouldn’t be suspicious of the Obama administration’s motives for giving the Tucson event such attention. But as horrible as the Tucson shootings were, it was a minor event compared to the devastation of the 9/11 event, in which nearly three thousand people lost their lives.

Tucson Shootings and the News: The Frantic Race for Exclusivity

Posted in Information, life, news by alangustin on January 11, 2011

In our ever-increasing, “speed-of-life” pace to know what’s happening before it happens, our society has become reckless in its acceptance of — what I call — news splatter.

What has brought this to a head for me, was the recent shooting spree by the obviously deranged, Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Arizona. The shooting that resulted in the deaths of six people and the critical wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was a horrible tradgedy.  But it was made even more horrible by the unprofessional reporting by several major news outlets, including NPR, Reuters, CNN and Fox, that Congresswoman Giffords had died.  What ensued was a veritable cornucopia of confusion and back-peddling, once it was determined that Giffords was still alive.  NPR issued an official apology, which should have included a disclaimer that stated, “We take no responsibility for those other news organizations who were so focused on scooping each other that they simply parroted our initial, erroneous report.”

The culture of the news industry has always included “being the first” to report a newsworthy event.   The news media morphed along technological lines.  It was required that they stay on top of advances in personal communications, such as radio, television, the world-wide-web, and lately, mobile devices.  Smart phones have literally changed the face of the news industry.  It is common these days to see a cellphone video included in a television news story.  And “reporters on the street” are recording events as they happen, and broadcasting the information on the Internet hours before anyone in the news media even hears about the event.  It’s amazing what is taking place in the world today, and how news is reaching people.

I was tweeting with my Android what I heard on my car radio the day of the Tucson shootings.  Something took over and compelled me to tweet each new development as I heard it reported on Fox News Radio.  I was driving,  and pulling over every thirty seconds to tweet the news as I heard it.  I was splattering unsubstantiated news reports left and right in a mad frenzy. Looking back, I realize how twisted that was.  But after thinking about it for a couple days, I realize what caused me to do it.

Something in us humans drives us to be “the first to know”.  And then… “the first to tell”.  Like the housewife in the supermarket checkout line who whispers to the person next to her, “Did you hear about Maggie Smith? She’s getting a divorce”. 

Maggie’s not really getting a divorce.  A neighbor overheard Maggie’s husband, George yelling at Maggie during an argument about burnt pancakes that morning. 

Gossip…  right?

What’s the difference between the gossip about Maggie, and the erroneous report by NPR that Congresswoman Giffords had died at the supermarket in Tucson?  Not much.  Unless you’re the family of Gabrielle Giffords. Gossip is almost always harmful.  Look at how fast gossip travels throughout a community.  It doesn’t matter how fuzzy the facts are, the gossip spreads faster than a viral YouTube video on meth.

The evening of the Tucson shootings, the Twittersphere was rife with tweets and links about the shooting, the shooter, the sheriff, the accomplice, the condition of Gabby Giffords, (I was sickened by Obama’s reference to Congresswoman Giffords as “Gabby”) …etcetera, etcetera…

What really tore me up though, was the subsequent barrage of cow manure that emanated from all news outlets from every corner of the country regarding the motive of the deranged killer, Jared Loughner.  The news media couldn’t get enough about the irresponsible statements being made by people whose desire for the limelight hobbled their ability to think before speaking.  Everyone was splattering everywhere.  It was disgusting.  And the news media couldn’t report it all fast enough.

At the start, I had been a willing participant in this ‘information orgy’ with my ‘uber-tweeting’.  Disgusting?  Perhaps.  Becoming the norm?  Definitely.  Soon, every wannabe journalist with a 5G, camera-equipped iPad will be broadcasting the end of the world as it happens.  In 3-D!

What remains to be seen, is whether or not this phenomenon of communications will self-regulate, and become a viable way for humans to be informed, or decay into an anarchistic, free-for-all that benefits only those whose desire for attention takes over all the bandwidth on the planet.

What will be the result of this parody of the press?  Only time will tell.  But consumers of the news, from now on, will have to deal with filtering what they get.  Either that, or simply relax and slow down…  give it a day or two before putting a nail in the coffin of any story.

Resting… my case.

Posted in Information, life, Social Networking by alangustin on November 27, 2010

Every now and then, perhaps once every ten years or so, we busy, busy people deserve a rest.  Even though we may feel guilty for taking a breather for a few seconds, we obsessed types must learn how to force ourselves to recharge.

My mantra used to be, “Sleep is overrated.”

My only drink used to be espresso.

My philosophy was, “All work and no play is the only way to fly!”

In this age of “trying to get on top”, while building a business or ten, while Tweeting and Facebooking and Actual Networking (the real, face-to-face kind) while raising a family and holding down a hobby or ten… damn! I missed that text.

Uh… where was I?

Oh yeah.  In this age of trying to cram a lifetime of work into six weeks, we need all the help we can get.  And I’m not talking about the next Twitter app or multi-tasking tool.  I’m talking about physical-mental-spiritual rest.

What good does it do me to have an abundance of busy-ness if I’m dead, or worse yet, scattered around a bunch of half-baked, ill-planned, projects just for the sake of having them fill every little crevass of my spare time? 

Spare time?  What’s that? I’m going to get to the resting part, the recharging part, later

But thinking about all this brings me around to something that I’m very curious about.

I have a few Twitter accounts.  I have a couple FaceBook pages.  I have a few blogs.  I also have a day-gig, which means that I need to cram my Tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts into my spare time.

Other people seem to spend all their time Tweeting, updating and posting, or at least, that’s how it seems.  So if they are spending all their time social networking, how in hell do they ever find the time to do some actual work?

Could it be that they are cheating?

Does using TwitterBots qualify as cheating? Are those using robot blog posts being lazy? Do we recognize it when someone is utilizing these “shortcuts” to promote their product or brand?  I think so.  But if everyone else is doing it…

Does the guy with 32,000 Twitter followers actually take the time to read the tweets from all those followers?  Okay… so that would be unrealistic.  How about even one percent of those tweets?  

You see, I believe that there is real value in being real.

Should I rest my case now? Probably. But I mean to keep this conversation going, even if it’s with myself. I hope others will join in, because I am interested in what real value you are finding in Social Networking.

Fifty-Six & Fighting

Posted in Announcements, life, Spirituality by alangustin on October 28, 2010

Hello to the blogosphere on this day, my fifty-sixth birthday.  As I reflect on days gone by, I savor the blessed feeling that was borne on the wings of thousands of Facebook birthday wishes.  Well… maybe not thousands, but at least hundreds.   Well… I received more than several.

Anyway…   the source of real blessedness, is God.  I am not ashamed to say that.  In fact, I get a deeper blessing from knowing that I need not fear what some person might think of this confession.  Apparently, the older I get, the more I trust that God is with me.  If God is for me, who can be against me.

Practically all those wonderful folks who sent me a birthday message on Facebook are also believers.  This knowledge is like icing on the proverbial feel-good cake, and it’s like I’ve been hugged by a nice, soft, warm, fuzzy, comfy, lover who has engulfed me in appreciation and validation.  From this, I have received the life/love energy to fight on. 

These days are crazy.  It seems as if there is a fight going on in every corner of existence.  But I am empowered by my faith, and ready to step up and punch my way through all the messiness that assaults me from every angle.  And as I fight, I find strength in knowing that my brothers and sisters are with me, going through the storm by my side, encouraging me and lifting me up before the One from whom all blessings flow.

Thank you, God… for my Godly friends!

There’s a Storm a-brewin’

Posted in life by alangustin on September 16, 2010

http://www.goes.noaa.gov/HURRLOOPS/atwv.html

The above link takes you to a great satellite view of  hurricane activity in the Atlantic/Pacific region of the planet.
The video loop is updated constantly, and you can come back here to see it any time you are curious about what’s brewing out there.

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Lizard Brain Caught in Lie!

Posted in Information, life, Politics by alangustin on September 5, 2010

The Lizard Brain himself

CNN, the highest-rated news organization today (snicker), runs an article about Keith Olbermann calling Glen Beck a liar because the host “inaccurately told the crowd at his recent Washington, DC rally that he “held” George Washington’s handwritten inaugural address.”  Read article

Some of the the comments that followed the article were civilized and interesting.  But what made me laugh, were liberals, who don’t like Mr. Beck and call him a “hate-monger”, had these things to say about Mr. Beck and his followers:

lizard brain, idiot, hypocrite and a liar, twisted, bigoted, racist loud-mouth, all Mormons are pathological liars, class-less fool, nut-case, deluded liar, undereducated whine bag, lying gas bag, modern KKK, You Tea Baggers, Like a slimy televangelist, these people are f$@king crazy, slay Glenn Beck, human scum,  you whiney Christian Conservatives, freaking lunatic, people who behave like him eventually kill themselves, What a FREAK!!!!, Beck is a dangerous man, this Nazi, idiot Teabag lemmings, shock jock nutjob, loud mouth moron, a pathetic excuse for a human being, the feeble-minded who follow him, a bunch of stupid people, i hate glenn beck, pathological liar, he’s an egomaniac, Beck is a fraud, “Spewers of Lies”, You teabaggers, He’s a freakin idiot, Glenn Beck is A Lying Scumbag, Teabagging NUTs, you wingNUT fools, this bag of wind, a clever pusbag, pawn of the anti-Christ, he is a Nazi devil, the mouth-piece of Satan, former alcoholic zookeeper, A charlatan and perfect snake-oil salesman, right wing anti-Obama pigs, Snake oil salesman, he is a fake, a fraud, a con-man, stupid people believe him, he is an ignorant buffoon, I despise Glenn Beck, that idiot Beck, weak-minded xenophobes, loud-mouthed idiot, constant lies by Beck and his racist buddies, right wing nut job, Glenn(the hate monger)Beck, this moron, this babbling lunatic, attention/media whores like he and Palin, He’s a liar and a sociopath, right wing nuts, I think Beck is a scumbag among scumbags, glenn beck is a moron, Glenn Beck is human scum and a liar, …etc.

I think the next time you libs feel like accusing someone of “hate-speech“, you should check yourselves.  I hear more hateful rhetoric coming from the far-left than from the far-right by a large margin.

The few ‘civilized’ comments held a common theme… “hey, let’s stop all this stupidity and have a conversation about what’s wrong with our country and make sensible suggestions about how to get back on track as the greatest nation in the world.” 

If you’ve ever subscribed to a political newsgroup, you would find the most vile, obscene, hateful comments you could ever imagine.  Both ‘right-wingers’ and left-wingers’ are capable of the worst kind of profane name-calling imaginable.  That’s why I don’t go there anymore.  The trolls are truly disgusting.

I have, at times, grown weary of Mr. Beck’s style of  ‘info-entertainment’, but I believe he is sincere in his patriotism. Whether or not he is sincere, or just trying to make money, is a matter between he and God.  But when the left resort to ‘hateful-name-calling’ while accusing someone like Beck of ‘hate-mongering’ and of being a ‘hypocrite’… well, that’s true irony.

 

There is hope for us after all!

Posted in life, Spirituality by alangustin on September 4, 2010

It’s an awesome thing when you happen upon a young person who is so in love with Jesus that she cannot contain her excitement.

Students like Casey encourage a hope in me that our country will endure these evil days.  That even though there are those in positions of authority that would wipe Jesus from every corner of our society, there are those of us who will honor God and love Jesus nonetheless.  I applaud Casey’s willingness to take a stand for Christ.  Rock on, girl!

Read Casey’s article here

Do We Ever Really Believe?

Posted in life, Spirituality by alangustin on August 31, 2010

I live… I grow.  I hope it is the same for you. 

There was a time when I was going backwards.  I was dying.  Shrinking.  Becoming less of a man.  Less of a person.  The waters that refreshed my soul and caused my eyes to look toward the source of the rain stopped coming.   I couldn’t endure that dry time.  I became crazy, like one deprived of water while walking in the heat of the desert. 

I can only imagine what it must be like to actually go insane from lack of water.  To become so dehydrated that the body stops supplying the mind with what it needs to function normally.  I imagine that the physical aspects of “dying of thirst” must be truly horrific.  But the mental anguish must be just as unbearable.  It must be horrible, enduring the knowledge that with each passing moment, you grow closer to dying, eventually fighting for each labored breath… only to finally give up in an agonizing surrender to the situation that you find yourself in.

The above scenario is a metaphor for a time in my life when I desperately needed love.  I needed the love of Christ so desperately that I would die without it.  But I really didn’t understand any of that.  I was blinded by my thirst.  My self-centeredness erected a solid, black, impenetrable sphere around me which could only be demolished by something supernatural.  But there existed the paradox…

In order for something supernatural to break down the barriers that held me captive, I had to believe in the supernatural. 

I had had a taste of the supernatural when I was a young man of around fifteen years.   I had a supernatural, spiritual experience that affected me deeply, but later became buried under weeks, months and eventually, years of neglect.  After a while I merely dismissed the event, considering that it had been something… unreal.

Faith…

Faith is a fantastic thing.  It is a seemingly unreal thing… 

We drive on a two-lane road, and faith allows us to drive past oncoming cars without fear of a head-on collision.  We believe in the sanity of the person driving the car zooming toward us in the opposite direction.  We believe that person will not suddenly veer into our lane at the last second, killing both of us in an instant of violent impact.

But what information do we have about this person that validates this belief?  Essentially, none.  Unless I am driving on a back country road in an area where I know every single person that drives those same roads, chances are some stranger will come frighteningly close to ending my life. 

This scenario plays out a million times a day throughout the world.  Yet, this ‘act of faith’ is not viewed as anything extraordinary.  It simply fades into the mundane, day-to-day activity of human commuting.  How is it that we can trust so blindly?  How is it that we can trust a total stranger steering twenty-five hundred pounds of speeding iron and steel, coming straight at us as we speed toward them?  The answer lies in the fact that most human beings, operating motorcars on the highways and byways around the world, aren’t irrational lunatics bent on self-destruction.  

Now that requires some faith… especially in today’s world.

The answer also lies in the assumption that each of us have an internal fear of violent death.  I can’t recall the last time I entertained the thought of steering my car into oncoming traffic for the expressed purpose of killing me and my counterpart in the opposite lane.  I can’t remember the last time I got the heebie-jeebies while driving on a two-lane highway with opposing traffic. 

Normal, ordinary people exhibit extraordinary amounts of faith every day.

I claim to have faith.  I claim that I believe I will live forever…  that I will spend eternity with God…  that I am loved in spite of my human tendancy to screw up…  that nothing in this world can make God stop loving me. 

Evidence that backs up these beliefs exists within the lives and stories of millions of people throughout the world who believe the same thing.  The Word of God proclaims the story of our journey of faith in which we are constantly reminded that we are loved.  Yet, do I truly believe it?  These past and present stories present information that I will believe… or simply dismiss as myth.  Which stories do I consider to be myth?   The ones that I have not lived.

What to do?

Should I claim that I believe I am loved by the Creator of the universe?  Or must I simply believe it?  Am I capable of believing it?  Having and maintaining faith in God is extremely difficult for me. 

I have been taught that two plus two equals four.  I can believe this because I can hold two peanuts in one hand, and two peanuts in the other hand, put them together and count four peanuts.  This conditioning makes it impossible for me to believe that two plus two equals three.   If someone said to me, “Two plus two equals three, but you must take my word for it and there is no evidence to prove it.”  …I would not believe it.

We all want to believe that Jesus rose from the grave.   We all want to believe that we too, can experience the resurrection of Christ.  Or that if we’re good enough in this life, we won’t be reincarnated as a snail, or that we will advance to the next plane of consciousness  …that we won’t really die. 

But we hear of people dying all the time.  Train wrecks, airplane crashes, cancer, murder, the list goes on.  We hear about it in the news.  We experience it when a loved one dies of old age or disease.   We know that death is real.  We see the evidence of death all too often.  But we never see the evidence of life after death.  Oh sure, there are those sporadic stories of people who claim to have had a near-death experience, or an out-of-body experience in which they see a white light and are drawn to it only to be yanked back into their earthly bodies at the last second.  These people may be true believers in the afterlife, but their experience doesn’t help me to believe.  It was their experience, and they have their evidence, but it’s not proof enough for me.

Do we ever really believe… anything?

The supernatural is hard to deny, especially when it’s in your face.  The face of the supernatural got in my face more than once, and I remember those faces from time to time,  [STOP]

okay… I’m really trying to be serious here, but it’s late at night, and Red Eye is on the Fox News Channel.  It’s the Monday after the Glen Beck “Restore Honor Rally”, and I just can’t keep a straight face tonight.  I’ll try again later…

[okay… I’m back]

Without humor, this would be an unbearable life.  The ability to laugh at ourselves is as important as any serious conversation we can have with ourselves. 

What’s really funny to me, is how arrogant we humans can be regarding the things of God.  We claim to know God… we dissect God… we tell others what God is saying to them… we write, we read, we plan, we build… with the belief that God is directing it all.

Many of us fall all over ourselves in an attempt to show others that we have God figured out.  That we have an inside track into the heart and mind of the same being who created the universe and everything in it. 

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?”  (Psalm 8:3,4)

Scientists estimate that their are approximately 100 billion trillion stars in the known universe.  That means that there are more stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand on the entire earth.  (They estimate that there are approximately 1 billion trillion grains of sand.)  Yet God holds the universe in the palm of His hand and, according to Psalms 147, “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” 

I have read books about God.  Some of them, so full of intellectualism that they travel down the road of philosophy that the Bible warns against.  Others so simple in their message of grace that they fail to mention anything about our need to obey God.  None of these readings really improved my ability to have a relationship with Christ, the Son of God.  What does improve my ability to have a relationship with him is simply living life.  We live, we grow.  The nature of God is revealed in the everyday – in the simple and in the supernatural.

Supernatural?

Several paragraphs ago, I mentioned the face of the supernatural, and how I’ve seen that face a time or two (actually more than just a time or two).  God has supernaturally saved my life so many times, I lost count. 

Back when I was going backwards, dying, shrinking, becoming less of a man, I was bent on self-destruction.  I had turned to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to escape a life that I wrongly assumed I could not face sober.  I won’t go into the circumstances of how I was introduced to substance abuse here, but I might choose to write about that in another post.

Over the years that I lived that lifestyle, I was exposed to people who were extremely dangerous.  I walked into situations that were extremely dangerous.  I intentionally placed myself into dangerous situations to show-off, or make someone laugh.  In all of these situations, I was protected… supernaturally.  I avoided harm – in some cases – unbelievably.

I remember one night long ago in California when this supernatural protection was very evident.  My friends and I had finished a night of heavy drinking at the Rainbow Club on the Sunset Strip in L.A.  All of us were drunk, but I was pissing-my-pants drunk.  As we arrived at the parking lot, for some stupid reason, I decided that I would climb up on the roof of the car, hang onto the lip of the roof on either side, and ride all the way home to North Hollywood.  This was a distance of about thirty miles, and involved traveling on the 101 freeway.  We made it home without being pulled over by the police, and without anyone getting hurt.  

This is but one example of a man, wh0 couldn’t understand his self-loathing, who was trying his best to call out for help by drawing attention to himself. 

The help he needed was there all along.

I have been in a battle ever since I became a believer.  All of us who choose the way of Christ enter into a war.  Name your battlefield… addiction, selfishness, resentment, sexual immorality.  Too many to list.  But if you’ve become a believer,  and have truly tasted the awareness that comes with the knowledge and understanding of grace, then you welcome the fight.  You recognize the ordeal is not limited to what you can do, but to what Christ in you can do!

To be continued…

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The Giant Spider

Posted in life, my kids by alangustin on March 2, 2010

by Alison Gustin

This is a story that my eight-year-old daughter, Ali wrote.  I found it on the kitchen counter when I got home from work today and just had to share it.  Some of the humor is lost in the translation due to my correcting her spelling, so I have included a scan of the original at the end of the text.  Enjoy!

The Giant Spider

Once, in a peaceful land called Pookashoot, a man named Alan invented stinky cheese 200,000 & 100 years ago.  A girl named Ester tried the stinky cheese.  She threw up and she ran away.  She was in a tiny house.  When she woke up in the morning, she looked outside her window and saw something hairy.  It was a giant spider!  The giant spider startled her because it picked her up and carried her away.  She slipped out of the giant spider’s hand and got away.  All the children tried to kill the spider, and suddenly it was dead!  The end.

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