December 9, 2008

Thanksgiving Day 2008

My true friends the Rinnans invited me over for dinner. (I brought a fruit salad.) Following my brother's death in March 2007, I had asked Linda and Kelly Rinnan to promise to care for me when I would be unable to care for myself. They kindly agreed. I had math-tutored their two sons and had taught their daughter in the classroom when they were in high school. Bob (foreground) is now a college senior in business computer tech. Behind him is his older brother Paul, a law student. Both are excellent students and fine young adults. Their sister is a medical supplies expert, married and living in Colorado. Linda (sitting there) is a great middle school teacher. Kelly, who is taking the picture, is an expert airline pilot. Linda and Kelly have every reason to be extremely proud of their sons and daughter. I am wearing the beautiful Indonesian shirt that my Indonesian chess teacher, Chien Ming, and his wife gave me for my birthday in 2007. It is called a batik shirt--see Wikipedia for more information. After dinner we watched a video of Bob playing his saxophone when a high school senior, and I played them some music from my Ipod. Later that day Kelly, Bob, Chien, and I chatted on Skype. The Rinnans are such a nice family. See more about Chien below.

December 8, 2008

My Thanksgiving Day thoughts

Assuming that there is a God who, as most believers say, is all-powerful and is creator of all things: If I would thank God that I have good health, I would also have to rebuke him for inflicting cancer and so many other dreadful diseases on millions of people. If I would thank him that I was only slightly harmed by hurricane Ike, I would also have to accuse him of cruelty in causing so many lives to be devastated by Ike and other hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and tsunamis. If I would thank him for the food that I have always had in abundance, I would also have to tell him that I am aware that over 20 years ago he caused a massive drought in Ethiopia which was a direct cause of a million people starving to death. So I do not give thanks to God for the good things in my life, or for anything. It makes no sense to me. This is part of my big problem which I write about in my first blog entry; see below.

P.S.  I have found an interesting website that is relevant to this.  I invite you to check it out:

October 5, 2008

Music and more, with a chess friend

Having been hit by Hurricane Ike, staying with my sister-in-law in Dallas until my electric power would be restored, I was invited by a new chess friend Toby Landes to visit him and his wife in nearby McKinney, Texas. Our mutual friend and chess coach, Chien Ming, in Indonesia, had introduced Toby and me to each other. (It is amazing and wonderful how the Internet can bridge gaps of hundreds and even thousands of miles.) So on that September afternoon I drove to their home. There Toby and I played a game of chess (he won); he, his wife, and I ate supper together. And since Toby plays violin and viola and I play piano, we had a spontaneous music-making session of songs that both of us know by ear. We sounded pretty good. We contacted Chien on the Internet and chatted, even playing a song for Chien and his wife which they heard clearly thousands of miles away by the magic of the Internet. After I left Toby got on his computer and went here to my blog; he composed a lengthy response to my posting "A big problem for me". You can read his comment below. I am very grateful to him for the enjoyable evening and for the time and thought that he put into his comments.

August 17, 2008

A free offer if you like (or think you might like) classical music

I love music, especially classical. When I taught math at Kingwood High School I promoted music and invented many little ways to give away free CDs to students. I was known as "Mr. Music", and my motto was, "You give me a little, I'll give you a lot." Now, for some of my favorite symphonies I have different CDs of the same symphony performed by different orchestras. I was extravagant; I didn't really need to buy so many CDs. I no longer feel the need of having so much duplication like that. I have sold some duplicates at, but some remain unsold. So here is an offer similar to something I did at Kingwood High School. If you like this kind of music, or think you might, email me telling me what one of your favorite pieces of music is (no matter whether classical or not) and, if you want to tell me why you like it so much, do that also. In return I will mail you, free, one of these CDs, in perfect condition, of a symphony by one of my favorite composers such as Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, Dvorak. No strings are attached, I pay the postage to wherever you are in the world, and if you want we can negotiate what CD you get. My email:

August 16, 2008

This is David.

I tutored him in his home in Geometry and Algebra, and he was a classroom student of mine in PreCalculus. In all of this he was a very good high school student. This picture was taken in his back yard in May 2008 as we celebrated his graduation from four very successful years in college.
Cancer didn't stop him.

This is Matt.  I tutored him in PreCalculus at his home. He had cancer and could not go to school. He was a very good student in difficult circumstances. I helped him graduate from high school. His treatments were successful.

At Teacher Appreciation Night 2003

It was at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Kingwood--a happy occasion for me and the many other teachers who were invited.

August 15, 2008

I love chess

I love chess. It helps me to keep my mind active. On the Internet Chess Club I have chess friends/competitors all over the world. And I have two wonderful chess teachers. But chess is so hard for me, and I am such a slow learner. When I was a math teacher at Kingwood High School I promoted chess by posting chess puzzles in the math hall, and for the students I made up this question and answer: 'Is it possible for something to be at the same time finite and infinite?' Answer: 'The boundaries of the chess board are clearly visible, but the possibilities seem endless.'

August 13, 2008

My chess teacher visits my blog

Thank you, Chien, for visiting my blog. You may be the first--or at least one of the first to visit it. Chien Ming is my chess teacher in Indonesia. He found out about my blog from the little invitation I put in my 'finger' notes of the Internet Chess Club. Chien gives me a chess lesson each week from the other side of the world. We talk back and forth by Skype, as we see the chess board and move the pieces on our computer screens. We can hear each other as clearly as if we were in the same room. Chien is an excellent chess teacher and a true gentleman. If you would like to take chess lessons, let me know, and I will tell you more details and how to get in touch with him. I feel honored to have him as a teacher and a friend. These are pictures of Chien, at a mall in his home city Bandung, Indonesia; playing chess in a tournament; and teaching a chess lesson on the Internet from his Bandung home.

August 12, 2008

A big problem for me

I have studied religion a lot, including seven years of seminary training. Then from 1963 to 1968 I was a Catholic priest with strong faith in God and Jesus, and the Bible as the Word of God. But now, 40 evolving years later, I am deeply troubled by the problem of widespread suffering. (I have experienced a little of it, but not much, yet.) Free will and human cruelty can explain the holocaust, wars, crime, and much more. But what about hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, cancers, other diseases--which cause so much suffering, including to innocent people such as young children? I cannot reconcile these with the commonly-held view of God as an all-powerful loving Father. (I am also troubled by the Biblical account of God commanding Abraham to kill his son Isaac as an act of worship and then at the last minute saying, "No, don't kill him; I didn't really mean it." I strongly disapprove of this alleged behavior of God.) So I am now an agnostic. If there is a God, he does not make sense to me, and I cannot see him as an all-powerful loving Father. There is too much contradiction. Do I believe in the Bible? Actually, yes--part of it--the book of Ecclesiastes. That author says basically: This life is probably all there is, so enjoy it as best you can. Make the most of it. And try to relieve human suffering.

P.S.  I have found an interesting website that is relevant to this.  I invite you to check it out: