Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Second Anniversary: September 11, 2003

My wife, Angel, took the above picture here in Austin shortly after September 11, 2001 -- even then, it seemed symbolic of what we were going through as a nation...the chaos, the feeling of being thrown about in an intense wind. And, for all intents and purposes, we were. In many aspects, we still are.

Many websites, newspapers, magazines and television shows have already been finding ways to re-live the horror and terror of 9.11.01 through pictures and video footage of the burning World Trade Center (WTC) towers. Lawsuits are finally being approved to move forward and politicians are eager to find ways to use the tragedy of two years ago for their own benefit. I can't endorse any of that.

I find no solace in succumbing to fear or outrage in reviewing video or pictures of those horrible hours.

I think it's very appropriate to honor those who died and to remember the families of those who died at either the WTC or the Pentagon or on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. I think it's appropriate to pray for those families and pray for this world and its various leaders. I think it's appropriate to pray for the U.S. and Allied soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, along with their families.

9.11.01 was the harshest reality check many of us have ever received, especially in the United States...but also in many areas of the world.

Life is fragile, it's always been fragile. A bullet, a car wreck, a drug overdose, an accident, violence or an unexpected illness can just as easily end life.

To me, what's important is how we LIVE -- how we make our lives count for something! So, on the second anniversary of 9.11.01, I recommend that instead of focusing on death, destruction and dispair, focus on life -- your life -- and what you can do to help others. Some helpful things you can do include giving blood, volunteering your time or just giving encouragement to someone in need, either through donation or kind words (those are free).

Thanks for your time.

Best Wishes,

Matthew 5: 1 - 12 (King James Version - Jesus' words in red)

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Monday, September 01, 2003

What I Did On My Labor Day Weekend Vacation

It's been a while since my wife, Angel, and I had some time all to ourselves. In fact, the last time, we took any kind of vacation was for our wedding anniversary in March 2002, so we were a little overdue. One of our friends from church who runs a daycare graciously kept our boys for the weekend, so they got a little vacation, too!

No, we didn't win an all-expense paid trip to a Borg cube! This was the intriguing atmosphere of the Hotel Valencia in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Each floor looked like this. (See above pictures)

Actually, it was very cold on each floor, kind of like I would imagine a Borg cube would be, but something tells me the Borg wouldn't be playing instrumental jazz on every floor.

Either that or we escaped assimilation and didn't know it...? Hmmmmm!

Well, at least it wasn't tinted green everywhere (would've looked hideous if it did - see picture above)...

This is actually what the outside of the hotel looked like, in the midst of downtown San Antonio.

It was a very sunny weekend with a great deal of humidity and heat but we managed just fine.

Angel and I mainly wanted to get some rest and relaxation on this trip to San Antonio. So we didn't do the tourist thing. No visits to The Alamo or Fiesta, Texas or Sea World.

We did, however, visit a restaurant we'd enjoyed in March `02 -- Bambino Huey's. We had previously enjoyed the food, service, live traditional Italian music (with guitar and mandolin), gourmet coffee and the restaurant's signature dessert (the "Bambino Huey," available in vanilla and chocolate flavors).

We did receive very good service and the live Italian music...

...we enjoyed our salads (note new beard)...

...the food was pretty good and we were looking forward to the desserts...

...but they weren't quite as good as we remembered. Our waiter was very accomodating and brought us fresh, hot (chocolate) "Hueys" (since the first ones were lukewarm -- and this dessert is best when hot!) -- and we enjoyed those better...but we were left with the impression that either our expectations were too high or the quality had dipped just a bit. Nevertheless, we left full and fairly satisfied with the experience. So, if you visit Bambino Huey's in San Antonio and want a `Huey, ask for it hot!

We had a luxurious stay in the hotel. We were surprised at all the features offered just through the television set (still-in-theater movies, not-yet-released-to-DVD movies, video games, high-speed internet, select music and video channels, select television show episodes and of course, free cable channels)! We were economical, however, and stuck to the free channels -- those kinds of charges add up quickly! Besides, like I said, we came there mainly to relax, not to become assimilated by the hotel t.v. (maybe it was a Borg cube after all!)

On Sunday, we had a safe trip back to Austin, stopping off for a little detour to our old stomping grounds in San Marcos, Texas [I attended Texas State University at San Marcos, the college formerly known as "Southwest Texas State University (SWT)" from `93 to `95] along the way. Angel and I made it home before the rain from Tropical Storm "Grace" moved inland and a cold front triggered a lot of rain on Central and South Texas. We picked up our kiddos and are now enjoying the Labor Day holiday.

I hope y'all are, too!

Best Wishes,