Receiving the News

Out on the screened porch this morning, just after 7:00 AM. A cool front had swept through the night before, bringing thunder and lightening and rain, and the early morning was cool and wet. It was quiet.  No neighbor was making any outside noise yet.

I heard the bird before I saw him.  His call is described as “A loud, flicker-like ‘cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk’ rising and then falling in pitch and volume” by the National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Birds.* Then I saw him: aPileated Woodpecker Pileated Woodpecker!

 Wow!  According to my note in my bird book, the last time I had seen one of these was just over four years ago, on May 6, 2006! The National Audobon bird book describes this woodpecker as 17″ big. “Despite its size, this elegant woodpecker is often shy and hard to observe.   Obtaining a close view of one usually requires careful stalking.”  And I was simply sitting in my chair!  What a gift from God on this cool Friday morning!  “This warrants a blog,” I thought.  

But first, I wanted to read some of the New York Times.*  The Richmond Times-Dispatch* had several real interesting articles which I knew would be covered more fully in the Times.*  But I couldn’t read the Times* — because I couldn’t get on the Internet!
You see, in January, I stopped receiving the print edition of the Times.*   Over the years, the price of the print edition kept going up and up, and less and less was being published in print , and there were even frequent recommendations at the end of stories to go to the web site to read more.  So I started to do that — and found that there’s LOTS more on the web site.  And it’s free!  (I’m surprised and disappointed that it’s free, by the way.   I had understood that the Times* would begin charging for Internet access in March, and I had expected to pay that.  But so far, it’s still free.  I sure don’t see the sense of that.  But I guess I’m just not smart enough to understand.)
This morning, in frustration because I couldn’t get on the Internet, I called Widomaker, my ISP.  A very helpful guy named Will asked me to look at the lights on the modem, and when I reported the lights that were not working he said, “You’ll need to exchange that for another modem.  Chances are the lightening did something to it last night.”  Well, it was only a minor inconvenience.  The computer clinic where the switch was to be made  is only about two miles away, so it was an excuse to get out on my bicycle; and it didn’t cost me anything.  (And, now that I’m back online, I’m finding my computer is flashing from site to site with incredible speed.  It had been very slow in recent weeks.  It makes me think, now, that the old modem has been dying for weeks.  I had been blaming my computer!)
So now I can receive the news again. 
Actually, I’m reading the Times* earlier than usual today, because today is a day off.  When I subscribed to the print edition, it arrived well before sun-up, but I didn’t have time to read it until getting home at the end of the afternoon.   By that time, the news was nearly 24-hours old.  I still read the Times* in the afternoon, only now it’s online, and it’s been updated during the day.  So, you know what?   I now receive  The New York Times* as an afternoon newspaper!  How ironic!  It’s been years since an afternoon paper was published on newsprint!
*I sure wish I could use italics for book and newspaper titles. It offends my New York Times Book of Style* sensibilities when I don’t. But italics show up in a weird way on this website.  That’s one of the quirk in using WordPress.  Here’s another: I’ve gone back into this post four times, trying to create a line of space between evry paragraph.  (Do you notice that there are spaces between the first few paragraphs, and then not the later ones?)  But I can’t make WordPress behave.  Sigh …

About Pastor Andy Ballentine

Pastor Andy Ballentine loves being a parish pastor! Pastor Ballentine took his BA degree from the University of Virginia (with a major in sociology) and earned the Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with the thesis topic of: "How Benedictine Monastic Spirituality Nourishes Parish Ministry." He has completed the program of Spiritual Direction from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. In the Virginia Synod, Pastor Ballentine has served as Dean of the Peninsula Conference and as chaplain to the candidates in the Virginia Synod’s Candidacy process (those on the way to being approved for ordained and professional ministries in the church). He has staffed many, many Virginia Synod youth events!