Friday, March 31, 2006

Good Riddance, March!

What a month March has been! With a rash of illness and injury, I was so short-staffed at work that I and my Assistant had to work several twelve to fourteen hour days this month. An upcoming visit to the area by the CEO has the District Manager running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. My wife and I discovered that our baby may be due as much as two weeks earlier than originally anticipated. I woke up on the first full day of Spring to nearly five inches of snow on the ground. Someone dinged my car door in the parking lot at work.

And historically, March has been a downer month. My mother passed away in March. Ronald Reagan was shot in the month of March. The Iraq War was launched (while I support the President, war is never a desireable state to have). In general, March stinks! And I say Good Riddance!


Saturday, March 25, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060325.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "To keep the promise of America, we must enforce the laws of America. We must also ensure that immigrants assimilate into our society and learn our customs and values -- including the English language. By working together, we can meet our duty to fix our immigration system and deliver a bill that protects our country, upholds our laws, and makes our Nation proud."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Springtime Snowman

The first full day of spring (yesterday) brought five to six inches of snow to this Indiana town. The second full day of spring brought this four foot Snowman to our yard (capitalized because my 2-1/2 year old son officially named him "Snowman," after first toying with the name "Sheep"). It's the first Snowman my son and I have ever built together, and my first since the early days of my youth. With snowballs flying as we rolled this fellow's parts in the snow, we had a great time together.

The snow is now quickly melting, and Snowman will soon melt, too. That will probably be a sad moment for my son, but we'll always have the pictures and the memory of building this first Snowman together.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Book Review: Showdown by Ted Dekker

Book ReviewI'm writing this book review a little differently than others in the past: I'm writing it at the same time that I read the book. The book: Showdown, by Ted Dekker. Word of warning: this post contains SPOILERS. If you plan to read Showdown, you may want to bookmark this page and return later. Read on at your own risk.

The reason I'm approaching this book in this way is because there promises to be certain revelations I'm sure to forget if I wait. Such as the one on page 206, when it becomes obvious that Showdown is linked to Dekker's Circle trilogy, Black, Red, and White, all very much worth reading as well (I've read Black twice and plan to read the entire series again after completing Showdown.

Nowhere that I've seen does Ted Dekker or the publisher promote Showdown as being even remotely related to The Circle trilogy. As a fan of Black, Red, and White, I have to say that it was exciting to see the link pop up.

One most intriguing parallels between the stories is that Billy, a character in Showdown, is writing in a book that the character Thomas Hunter found in The Circle trilogy. Billy writes the following sentence into this book which creates history:

Then the man named Thomas found himself in the Black Forest, where he fell and hit his head and lost his memory.
The Circle trilogy opens with Thomas Hunter having awakened to find himself in the Black Forest having lost his memory. What's more, this takes place before Thomas finds the book which Billy wrote the sentence in. But in Showdown, Billy has found the book after Thomas Hunter found it in The Circle trilogy. A circle (fittingly enough) that reinforces the fact that writing into the book creates history. Which came first, the chicken or the egg -- Billy or Thomas Hunter? It can be hard to follow if you think about it too hard.

Showdown has been surrounded by controversy -- some calling it too dark for the genre; too graphic. Ted Dekker writes of the epic battie of good versus evil. His ability to bring that battle to life is one of his strongest writing traits.

In two words: READ SHOWDOWN.

And now I'm off to read The Circle trilogy again.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060318.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "...America will not abandon Iraq to the terrorists who want to attack us again. We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Special Moments

I went to work yesterday expecting not to see my son before I get home this evening. That's the curse of working a closing shift one day and opening the next with a two-hour commuteeach way. This morning I had a very special moment.

While the incessant chirp of the alarm clock wasn't enough to get me out of bed at 5:00 am, my son's crying was. It was a gentle cry, like something had awakened him and he was trying to get back to sleep. I snuck in quietly to checkon him.

My son is very much the product of his parents: he is a very active sleeper, tossing and turning throughout the night, sometimes rolling right out of bed onto the floor. This morning he had managed to kick his covers off and wascrying because he was cold.

I entered the room and pulled the cover over him, tucking him in. "Sing," he said. "Sing."

I quietly sang him his favorite Wiggles song as he quickly fell back to sleep.

It was the perfect start to the day. I didn't have to wait until tonight to see him after all.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Saddest Moments

We endure many sad moments through the course of a lifetime: illness, death, failure to achieve a major goal, violence, war, seeing loved ones deal with divorce, and many hundreds of other personal tragedies and disappointments. Sometimes it's no wonder that people seek professional treatment to help them cope.

I have no intent to trivialize such things, but one of the saddest moments of my life occurs once or twice almost every week. Read on, and maybe you'll understand.

I just left the house to go to work. Normally that happens before 5:00 am, while half the world still slumbers. Among those slumbering masses are my wife and 2-1/2 year-old son. It's not so hard to get going that early in the morning when I'm the only one awake: no wait to take a hot shower, no large breakfasts to prepare and clean up after, and I kiss everyone goodbye in their sleep.

It's an entirely different story when I have to work the closing shift, as I do today. Everyone wakes up sometime between 7:00 and 8:00. We gather around the table for breakfast together. It's actually a nice way to start the day. I watch some cartoons with my son and make ducks out of Play-Doh.

Before long it's time to get ready for work, and things start to get difficult. Especially when I emerge from the bedroom dressed for work. My son walks around the house saying, "Home? Home?" When I tell him his Daddy has to leave for work, he is crestfallen. "Sad," he says as he continues to trek through the house. "Sad."

Are you with me so far? I sit down and he comes to me for a hug. If we forget the hug, I'll see him in the window as I back out out of the drive -- his arms extended at his sides and the word "hug" repeatedly forming on his lips -- I jump from the car and run back in to get my hug.

After saying our goodbyes, I back into the street and look for him at the window. I roll down the car window and wave. He waves back. I blow him a kiss, and he blows back. Again I wave. Again, he waves back.

Today, he drew the curtain to his face, not wanting to see me drive off. I waited for him to reappear, not wanting him to look up and see that I'd already gone. I waved again, and he waved again, and I slowly drove off down the road.

My family means everything in the world to me: my wife, my son, and soon our daughter. I don't need success in the world to be happy or feel useful. My family is my success. Being Daddy is my usefulness. Daddy is who I am, before all else.

I'm not quite at work yet, nearly an hour after leaving, and already I have something special I'm looking forward to: that welcome home hug from my son when I next see him. Unfortunately, with closing tonight and opening tomorrow, that next hug won't come for some 32 hours.

These are my saddest moments. Some people live from one paycheck to the next. I live from one hug to the next.


Fwd: New comment on Gas Price Gouging

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Anonymous
Date: Mar 16, 2006 9:43 AM
Subject: New comment on Gas Price Gouging

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Gas Price Gouging":

Also, AAA who keeps track of the price of auto gasoline - said last fall that they saw no reason for the hike in gasoline prices except for the greed of the oil companies.

Posted by Anonymous to Average Joe American at 3/16/2006 09:43:06 AM

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Commemorate Caesar: Take a Deep Breath!

NPR : Commemorate Caesar: Take a Deep Breath!:
"Though you may not have noticed, today is the 2049th anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination.

Most of us have a vague sense of what happened that day. Caesar was, of course, a great conquerer. He was very popular with the ordinary folks in Rome, but not so popular with a small group of senators who feared that at any moment he would make himself an absolute dictator.

The senators, including his friend Brutus ('Et tu?'), conspired, invited him to the Senate, gathered round and stabbed him over and over. Caesar, mortally wounded, exhaled and died.

And it's not like Caesar hadn't been warned. Soothsayers had told him to 'Beware the Ides Of March' -- 'ides' meaning the middle of the month. But he paid no heed."
Not that I think there's any value in observing the birth, life, or death of Julius Caesar. I just thought this was interesting for it's obvious links to the Ides of March.

And check out the eyes in that picture!


One Year and Counting

Today is the one-year anniversary of my little online home for all the nonsense that runs through my mind. Today is also the Ides of March. If you aren't sure of what the Ides of March is, check the archives for March 15, 2005: that's what my first post was about.

I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts, my politics, my gripes, and many other things in this forum over the past year. I hope you've enjoyed reading them, as well, and I hope you'll come back often.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed at Feedburner. And you can always email me your thoughts at

Here's to another good year.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Still Need A Break

For the second time in a week, I'm heading home after a
eighteen-hour work day. For the same reason: a Manager who
is too ill to work the schedule. It's been a very long day!
The worst part is not seeing my son at all today. I feel
like I need a month-long vacation! That's not likely to
happen anytime soon, but my wife and son made chocolate
chip cookies for me. That's something special to look forward


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Gas Price Gouging

Last fall, on several occasions, I wrote about the outrageous prices of both gasoline and natural gas. Winter is now coming to a close -- and a relatively mild winter for most of the country -- and gas prices seem to be on the rise again.

After reporting record profits in January, the gas companies have come under added scrutiny for price gouging. From
Across the nation, natural gas bills are up 17 percent over last winter — and 18 percent in the Midwest. On Wednesday, state law-enforcement officials charged that some of the jump is due to price-gouging. ... [A] six-month investigation by four Midwestern states concludes that gas customers are paying $5 billion a month more than they should. But Skip Horvath, who heads the gas trade group, blames skyrocketing prices in January on the double-whammy of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which disrupted gas supplies...

While my natural gas bills this winter seemed much lower than the increase I had anticipated, it was in no way due to lower charges from the gas company. Warmer than usual temperatures and tight control of the thermostat helped make the winter heating bill affordable. On the other hand, with a 170 mile daily commute, the high cost of gasoline has certainly taken it's toll.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

[Fwd: New comment on Podcast of the Week]

I have been anonymously reminded that there is an easier way to actually view the video version of the new Cranky Geeks podcast. See below.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: New comment on Podcast of the Week
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 16:24:37 -0800 (PST)
From: Anonymous

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Podcast of the Week":

For easier viewing:

Posted by Anonymous to Average Joe American at 3/11/2006 07:24:37 PM

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060311.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "After the liberation of the Iraqi people, al Qaida and their affiliates have made Iraq the central front on the war on terror. By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America. The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people."

Cranky Geeks

Having listened to the first episode of Cranky Geeks on my way into work today, I have some thoughts to share.

Dvorak is his typical self, which is fine, I actually enjoy listening to him on Twit podcasts. He's accompanied by a group of knowledgeable panelists. The topics, though not exactly compelling, are at least interesting. My biggest gripe is the commercials. A thirty-minute episode is interrupted four times with commercial breaks (that's every 7.5 minutes, worse than broadcast television). While the commercial spots are mostly to promote other Ziff-Davis podcasts, they could as easily have done so without formal commercial interruptions. One of the reasons I listen to podcasts instead of FM Radio is to eliminate commercial chatter.

We should anticipate, I suppose, that with the ever increasing popularity of podcasts, it wouldn't be long before they are no longer free. The large conglomerates, especially, must find some way to monetize their podcasts. ABC News does it with a brief "brought to you by" announcement at the beginning and a formal twenty-second spot at the end of each podcast. I guess we can do nothing but adapt or avoid.

Having said all that, Cranky Geeks is still worth sampling. Just keep your fast-forward finger limbered up.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Podcast of the Week

One of the newest podcasts to hit the web is Cranky Geeks from John C. Dvorak and Digital Life TV.

Cranky Geeks is a panel discussion about technology by leading experts in the technology field. I have yet to listen to the first episode (I'll do that during my commute tomorrow morning), but with John C. Dvorak at the helm, it promises to be interesting, informative, and cranky.

You can grab the Digital Life RSS Feed here. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 8, 2006

I Need A Break!

Did you ever have one of those days where you think it would have been better if you had just never gotten out of bed? I think we've all had one, haven't we? I'm nearing the home stretch of just such a day today. Actually, it started last night when I got home from work at 11:00 pm after an eleven hour day.

The alarm went off TOO early at 5:00 am, which is actually thirty minutes later than usual. I hit snooze three or four times (my snooze is set for one minute, so I really don't have time to fall back to sleep), before finally turning the alarm clock off and dragging myself out of bed.

I arrived at work at 7:40 am after a two hour commute, which was more heavily laden with traffic than my normal commute just thirty minutes earlier in the morning. It wasn't worth the extra thirty minutes sleep to start my day off so far behind schedule.

I was naturally tired all morning after the late night last night, and the workload has been pretty heavy lately. To make matters worse, my Assistant Manager called to ask to come in two hours later than scheduled due to illness. I said, "Sure," thinking better late than never.

At 12:30, I had an employee not show up. I don't usually call people who don't show up for work on time. I just let them face the music whenever they do show up for work. But with the day turning out a little too stressful, I decided I better make an exception this time (this same Associate called in sick yesterday, which probably played a role in my decision to call him). I left a message that was never returned, and the employee showed up an hour later having misread the schedule (a frequent excuse for him).

At about 1:30 pm, my Assistant Manager called again, still sick, saying he wouldn't be able to make it in at all today. That was definitely NOT what I was hoping for at this point. It meant only one thing: I would be staying until closing time again tonight, and wouldn't be home until after 11:00 pm again -- after more than fifteen hours of work (with no lunch). It's part of the territory, so I deal with it, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it.

At 3:30 pm my wife called to tell me that the Mail Carrier that delivers to our house had knocked down our mailbox and driven off without a word. I immediately called the Post Office to complain, then the Police Department to file a Report. At the Officer's urging, I then called the Postal Inspector in Indianapolis, who later called me back to say there was nothing she could do. The representative at the Post Office branch later called me back to say that the Mail Carrier didn't run over the mailbox after all. She claims that it was so rusted at the base that it just fell over. He asked me if anyone had seen her hit the mailbox. "The neighbor boy was outside, so if she hit it he would have seen it. I'll find out from him tomorrow. Either way, it doesn't excuse the fact that she didn't knock on the door to let us know that the mailbox fell over on her. Especially since she delivered a package to the door, anyway. It just doesn't look good." He went on with his denial, so I interrupted, "It's okay, I filed a Police Report and we'll deal with it that way if we have to."

My wife called some thirty minutes later to report that someone from the Post Office had come to the house to look at the mailbox. She looked at it with him and concluded that rust indeed had played a role, but that the Mail Carrier had obviously tried to cram an oversize package in the box, contributing to it's demise. Not enough liability for them to pay for a replacement, but he did apologize for the situation and said they had addressed the situation with the carrier.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I recorded a short "goodnight" video on my Palm Zire 72 and emailed it to my wife to play for my son. She just called me and played it for him as he was getting ready to go to bed. He made her play it for him three times, then wanted me to sing him a song over the phone. I sang him a few lines of his favorite Wiggles tune, then told him "goodnight." It was the perfect interruption to a very stressful day.

I sit here now with roughly ninety minutes to go before I start my two hour commute home. I'll crawl into bed after peeking in on my son (the first time I'll actually see him since 10:00 am yesterday), and fall to sleep (hopefully) some time before midnight. Tomorrow morning, I'll wake up and, among other things, try to fix the mailbox.

I need a break!


Monday, March 6, 2006

Book Review: Thunder of Heaven by Ted Dekker

Book ReviewIf you ask me who my favorite author is, my answer would have to be Ted Dekker. With such compelling reads as The Circle trilogy (Black, Red, and White), Obsessed, and Thr3e (the movie adaptation is currently in production), and many others, Ted Dekker weaves a tale of good versus evil unlike anything I've seen from any other author.

I most recently finished reading one of his earlier works from the The Martyr's Song series, Thunder of Heaven. While this book is best appreciated as a part of the series, it is an entirely enjoyable read on it's own. Written before the 9/11 attacks on our nation, with slight modifications afterward, Thunder tells the tale of a terrorist organization with designs on launching a nuclear attack on the United States. What makes this story so compelling is the surprise ending.

Dekker weaves a tale that is both believable and shocking all at once. To go into too much detail would be to reveal too much of the story in advance. All I can say is, read it.

Coming soon, Ted Dekker's newest work, Showdown. Stay tuned.


Sunday, March 5, 2006

Book Review: Jerry Jenkins Underground Zealot Trilogy

From Jerry B. Jenkins, co-author of the popular Left Behind series, comes a new end times saga.

The year is 38 P3, thirty-eight years after the end of World War III, the International Government of Peace is based in Bern, Switzerland, and all religion has been outlawed, but in the United Seven States of America, there is a large movement of underground zealots who refuse to denounce their faith in God. Willing to fight for what they believe in, and calling on God for help, they bring forth a drought on Los Angeles and a new Passover, causing the first-born male of every non-believer to drop dead throughout the world.

National Peace Organization Agent Paul Stepola lives the double life of an underground religious zealot and the leader of a squad of agents out to destroy the underground movement. Going head-to-head with his father-in-law and former Army General, unsure whether his wife's support lies with him or her father, Agent Stepola finds himself living a life on the run.

Jerry Jenkins brings a new story in this latest trilogy; one that will hold your attention and have you wanting for more. A must read from the creative genius behind the Left Behind series. Pick up your copies today of Soon, Silenced and Shadowed. You won't be disappointed.


Teach the Teacher A Lesson

(CBS/AP) About 150 students at a suburban Denver high school walked out of class to protest a decision to put a teacher on administrative leave while the school investigates remarks he allegedly made in class about President Bush, including a comment that some people compare Mr. Bush to Adolf Hitler.
While we are indeed Americans, with the right to free speech, how does that extend to the classroom of our public schools? Should a teacher be entitled to spread his opinion to impressionable young students? Or be required to stick to the teaching of facts, etc.?

This teacher was suspended (and rightfully so) with pay (not so rightfully) for forcing his liberal views and opinions upon impressionable young students in a geography class! I fail to see where his remarks have any connection to the subject he was hired to teach.

Suspension with pay is a mild reaction to this teacher's behavior. He should be immediately replaced by a respectable teacher who will stick to topics related to the subject of the class.


Saturday, March 4, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

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In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "Our relations with Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan will enhance the security of our country. By working with these leaders and the people of these three nations, we're seizing the opportunities this new century offers and helping to lay the foundations of peace and prosperity for generations to come."

Friday, March 3, 2006

Poscast of the Week

The newest podcast in my RSS aggregator is The Daily Giz Wiz, from Leo Laporte of This Week In Tech and Dick DeBartolo of Mad magazine. Each weekday morning, Mad's maddest writer and ABC's Giz Wiz highlights the latest and greatest in technology, with a flashback from the past each Friday. It's short (usually less than ten minutes), it's upbeat, it's informative, and it's a great way to start the day.

You can grab the latest episode here, and if you act today you only have nine back episodes to get caught up.



Thursday, March 2, 2006

World's Worst Plan. World's Worst Service.

My employer offers the World's Worst Medical Plan. The premiums are high, the copay is high, and the provider list is scant. But my biggest gripe of all is the Vision Plan.

I am very, very, very near-sighted. To make matters worse, I have a bad astigmatism. Without my glasses, I am virtually blind. No exaggeration.

In January, the frame on my almost two-year-old glasses snapped, causing the lens to fall out. Try as I did, I was unable to repair them.

Blind as a bat, I set out in search of a vision provider covered under my plan: Cole Managed Vision. Being blinded by the situation, I was desperately seeking a provider that could make my glasses the same day, like LensCrafters. I called my plan provider for a list of providers near my home (which is 85 miles from where I work). What?! There were no one-hour optical shops in town. "How about Indianapolis?" I asked. None there, either. I found a Pearle Vision Center about thirty minutes away from home (in the opposite direction from work) that makes glasses on site, but when I called them and read them my prescription, they said it was so severe that they would have to order the lenses. I was left with two choices: pay full price at LensCrafters, or wait a week some place else.

Being despearately blind, as I've already explained, I was very tempted to go straight to the nearest LensCrafters and have my eyesight restored. Being a husband and father with my second child on the way, and trying to live on a budget, I realized that the smart choice was to actually use the vision plan that I've been paying for every two weeks for the past year. I found myself at the local mall at Sears Optical. Things did not get better from there.

The Sears Optical was in the midst of a staffing upheaval and didn't have an optometrist on duty for the next four days. This meant I would either be waiting an additional four days on top of the already anticipated seven, or reusing my most recent prescription, which was nearly two years old. In this case I did the desperate thing and whipped out my tattered copy of that old prescription. I picked out some frames and plunked down my copay for the polycarbonate lenses, as I didn't feel like wearing Coke bottles for glasses, and went on my merry way, expecting a call as early as four days later, happy that I had saved the $200 I would have spent at LensCrafters for the convenience of not having to wait. I later realized that I have spent exactly $195 over the past twelve months in premiums for this stellar vision program that was causing me so much grief -- a net savings of $5.

No phone call came on the fourth day. I, of course, called them just four days after placing my order, and found that my glasses were in and ready for pick up. I didn't think to ask why no one had called me to tell me they had arrived. I just loaded up the family and headed back to the mall to get my eyesight back.

A week later I noticed a scratch over my right eye, directly in my line of sight. The polycarbonate copay I forked over supposedly included a scratch-resistant coating, so I picked up the phone and made a quick call to Sears. I apparantly caught them at a very busy time, because I was told they would have to look up my purchase and call me back the following Monday. "No problem," I said, and gave out my mobile number.

Late the next Monday, frustrated, I called Sears again. "I ordered you a new lens," I was told. "It should be here in about seven days." Again, the wait.

Fully two weeks later I had not received a call to tell me that my new lens was available for pick up. As you can surely imagine, my frustration was mounting. I called again and spoke with yet another person. "I don't see where anything was ordered, sir." Ugggghhhhhh!!!!! "That's very disappointing," I said. "I called two weeks ago and was assured that the lens was being ordered." "I can order it for you and possibly have it here by Wednesday." "That would be good," I said, "because if it isn't here by Wednesday, it will be yet another week before I can be in to pick it up."

Yesterday was Wednesday, and I long ago grew tired of waiting. I once again loaded the family up and headed back to the mall, only to find that my new lens had not arrived yet. "It was shipped out yesterday," I was told. "We don't usually receive our shipments until three o'clock. You can call back then and see if it's come in." I didn't bother to ask them to call me, because they obviously don't have any phones with working dial pads.

Come five o'clock I called to check the status and learned that my lens had arrived. Good news! But they closed at 5:30. Bad news. And they are closed on Sundays, which was my only day off for the next eight days. Worse news. What this all means, of course, is that I had to leave work almost three hours early today to get to Sears and have my scratched lens replaced.

I walked in and announced my purpose, and was greeted with, "Oh, I'm the only one hear and these three phones have been ringing off the hook." I got the impression she was hoping I would offer to come back at a later date. I simply replied, "Well, I've been waiting three weeks for this lens because no one bothered to order it when I called the first two times."

We proceeded to wait the fifteen minutes or so that it took to have both lenses replaced (my guess is that no one could remember which lens I needed and they were all too afraid to call me to find out). I later looked closely at my glasses and noticed that one of the original screws had been lost in the process and replaced with a screw that was too long for the frames. I wasn't a bit surprised.

Bottom line, I guess, is that I won't be going back to Sears Optical. The service was terrible from start to finish, and no one there seemed to even care that they were incapable of providing quality service. I would call and complain, but I suspect that whomever I complain to would also not care. And since I won't be going back to Sears Optical again, I won't be needing this stellar vision plan anymore. Rather than pay $195 over the next year in bi-weekly premiums for a plan that covers glasses only once a year, I'll cancel the plan (open enrollment is conveniently going on right now) and spend $200 at LensCrafters for better glasses and faster service the next time I need them.

By the way, I haven't posted a rant here in quite a while. It feels kind of good.


Wednesday, March 1, 2006

fwd: Oil In Israel?

I recently wrote about Joel C. Rosenberg's The Ezekiel Option, and how the events of that series are like reading the headlines of today's newspaper. Here's where fiction becomes reality:

From: Joel Rosenberg
Sent: Wed, 01 Mar 2006
Subject: oil in Israel?


Another headline ripped from a novel.
By Joel C. Rosenberg

(WASHINGTON, D.C., March 1, 2006) -- Just in case you're looking for another headline ripped from THE LAST JIHAD series, you might want to take a look at this morning's Boston Globe.

In my novels, as you may recall, a Wall Street strategist-turned-White House advisor (Jon Bennett) funnels money to a petroleum company founded by a Russian Jewish emigre (Dmitri Galishnikov) to drill for oil and gas in Israel. The plan: get rich and radically reshape the geopolitics of the Middle East. Which is exactly what happens -- until all Hell breaks loose.

Now reporter Michael Kranish reports that controversial "lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked with Russian partners to establish a company that envisioned a high-risk plan to drill for oil in Israel, which he hoped would bring him riches and reshape the Middle East."

Kranish quotes Ronald Platt, a former Abramoff partner, saying: "They [the Russians] supposedly had some kind of technology for determining oil and gas resources, they had discovered vast oil and gas deposits in the Israeli desert, and [Abramoff believed that] if these were exploited it would change the whole dynamic of the Middle East."

Abramoff's company never really got off the ground or found what it was looking for. But two other Israeli companies have -- Givat Olam, run by religious Jews (including Russian immigrants), and Zion Oil, run by evangelical Christians. Both companies are driven by Biblical prophecies indicating that massive amounts of oil and natural gas will be found in Israel in "the last days," and both have seen promising results in a series of tests run over the past several years.

The Israeli government has confirmed that Givat Olam, for example, has found nearly one billion barrels of oil in northern Israel. But the company is having difficulty finding a cost effective way to draw the reserves out of a very complex subterranean rock structure. Zion Oil, meanwhile, may have found even more petroleum reserves, close to the site of the ancient city of Megiddo. But they, too, are running into a number of technical challenges.

Last November I was in Israel and interviewed top executives of Zion Oil for the non-fiction book I'm writing, EPICENTER: 10 Future Headlines That Will Change Our World, due out in November from Tyndale. Theirs is a fascinating story, and one I look forward to sharing with you soon.


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