Running Thoughts In My Head After a Week In the Orchestra Pit

PDVD_063The title says it – I just spent a week directing music for a theater production. It went very well, it’s all done, and now I’m at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos in Torrance, CA, eating a quesadilla and thinking very random thoughts as my brain recovers from the craziness of 7 days in the orchestra pit:

I’m tired… I’m hungry… This is a good quesadilla… It’s so weird that Wahoo’s is always playing surfing videos…. I should learn to surf…. I bet I’m not too old to become a professional surfer…. I’ll stick with music… I’m so lucky to know so many good musicians…. I can’t figure out what kept going wrong with Song #8A…. That old guy is wearing Levi’s – it’s so weird that Levi’s have that label with the size on it…. Why are Levi’s so expensive…. Hey, he wears my size…. Maybe I should get his name and contact info in case I need to ever borrow jeans… It’s a good thing I rarely drink because this Corona is really good…. The Levi’s guy’s wife would probably think I’m weird if I asked about the contact info for the jeans…. Maybe that’s not even his wife… Seven piano lessons and a rehearsal tomorrow…. I wish “Good Wife” was still on…. That last “Good Wife” episode was dumb…. I should probably go

There. My brain needed to get all that out. It was a good week in the pit.


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Response to Blogger Re Target Restrooms

I came across a blog called “Ministry in the Mommyhood,” in which the writer, Jaci Lambert, addressed Target’s recent policy to allow anyone to use whichever restroom they’d like, according to the gender they identify with. The blog title was Target Bathrooms and the Straight, Conservative Preacher’s Wife. The writer describes herself this way:

Let’s get all of my personal facts out on the table before I tell you where I stand and why. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ as my very personal Savior. I love Him, and I believe He loves me along with every single person on this planet. Without exception. I am straight. I am married to a man. He is a pastor which makes me a pastor’s wife by default. I’m not always a very good one, but I’m an honest one, so my church at least has that going for it. I am a mother. I have four beautiful daughters, and I would start World War III to keep them safe. I am politically conservative, but I have stopped identifying with the Republican party because I think that the whole of Washington has lost their ever-lovin’ minds…across party lines…it’s the one thing they have in common. I believe in the Bible. I believe that every word in it is true. I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, but I am NOT a homophobe. Because I also believe what the Bible says about loving people. ALL people. Without exception.

I (Charley) disagree with Target’s new restroom policy, with an understanding of why we ever separated restrooms according to biological sex in the first place – for privacy and security. My safety concern is not about transgenders causing harm to anyone. It’s about a non-transgender, normal man, identifying as a man, using the new policy as license to go into  women’s restroom and threaten or harm women or young girls. If my adult daughter was still a child, I’d be pretty up in arms about it. Not out of hate or phobia against transgender people, but out of what would seem to be a common sense concern over the safety of my daughter.

I’ve tried to stay out of this for a variety of reasons. But something about Mrs. Lambert’s blog post made me want to list a few of her points and address them. She comes across as a bit sarcastic, but I can’t fault her for that, since I speak sarcasm fluently and that would be the pot calling the kettle black. Anyway, here are my responses to some of her points…

However, I will now simply accompany my kids into the main restroom when we’re at Target because IF they ever came across a man in the women’s restroom, they would be confused.

In other words, before you didn’t feel you needed to accompany your children to the restroom, and now you do. With good reason.

Transgendered people have never hurt my children.  But believe it or not, a whole bunch of church people have.

This is a distraction from the main point given for emotional effect. All of us who have spent any time in church can say the same thing. So can all of us who have spent time in elementary school, high school or college; we’ve all been hurt by school people.  Or all of us who have spent time working for any company, or participating in any organization; we’ve all been hurt by co-workers. So what? Pointing the finger at church people hurting your children does nothing more than make you appear to have an axe to grind against church people.

Only a small number of people are concerned about transgender people harming children in a restroom. Those people are misinformed and wrong. The majority of concern comes from sensible, concerned people who are concerned about non-transgender men taking advantage of new free access to women’s restrooms to potentially harm women and children. There are reports of such cases.

What does that mean?  It means that ANYONE is capable of hurting my children.  ANY.ONE.  And it’s my job to keep them safe.  But what if they did see a transgendered person in the restroom?  Would the world really end?  No.

Yes. Your children can be hurt many places. And now Target has decided to make a policy that makes their restrooms more likely to be among those places. The world wouldn’t end if they saw a transgendered person in a restroom. The child’s world may in fact end, or be severely damaged, if she was approached or attacked by a male pedophile in a restroom. Target’s policy increases the likelihood of that happening.

Because I would then have the opportunity to explain to my children, who don’t have any choice but to grow up in this messy world, that there are some people who feel like they are different and like they don’t belong anywhere.  We could talk about what Jesus would do and how He would expect us to love them and how we would feel if we didn’t belong anywhere.

No disagreement there.

The perverts and the pedophiles don’t care about Target’s policy.  Sure it’s one less obstacle in their way, but you really think a store policy is going to keep them from what they desire?  Probably not.

Perverts and pedophiles are a determined bunch, to be sure. Would Target’s former restroom policy have kept them from what they desired? Probably not. Will Target’s new restroom policy make it easier to get what they desire? Yes, of course.
But if they do, if the perverts and pedophiles decide to hang out in the women’s restroom, Target will have Hell to pay for their decision.  That’s on them.

Great. Tell that to the first female victim who is assaulted in a Target restroom by a man allowed in because of Target’s new policy. I didn’t say “transgender female,” but a man, taking advantage of the new restroom access by dishonestly claiming to be transgender. It has happened before. So when a woman or girl is threatened or assaulted by such a man, just tell her, “Hey it’s fine. Target will have Hell to pay for their decision.” I’m sure that will make her feel a lot better.
Women and children need to be paying attention to their surroundings just like when they’re at the park and when they’re at the grocery store after 10pm and when they’re at church (shoot, I can’t even help myself).  Pay attention to your surroundings because perverts and pedophiles like other places besides Target.

Yes, perverts and pedophiles like other places besides Target. And, they now like Target a lot more than they did a week or two ago. Yes, women and children need to be careful in lots of places. And yes, a Target restroom is now one of those places. Congratulations, Target.

THE BIG ONE: This boycott is doing more damage to the Christian cause than it’s helping.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in standing up for our rights and in what we believe in.  But this isn’t a “right.”  This is a privately owned company setting a policy in place.

That may or may not be true. I can understand that viewpoint. But in honesty, if I still had a young daughter at home, I’d be a lot more concerned about her safety than I would about damaging the Christian cause. Maybe my priorities would be mixed up there, but that’s where I’d stand.

To conclude, I don’t have an axe to grind with Ministry in the Mommyhood – I hadn’t seen it before until I found this article today. More importantly, I don’t have an axe to grind with transgender people. Having a few transgenders in fairly close relationship, I have a sense of the struggle. My beef with Target isn’t about transgender people; it’s about Target, in an attempt to be politically correct, creating a dangerous situation for millions more people than they claim to be helping.

Comments will be filtered. Keep them kind and constructive.




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Dear Government: Let Me Help You


Dear Federal Government:

I’ve been trying not to get too involved in your stuff, because A) I’m too busy, B) in some very small way, I still want to trust you to make decent choices once in a great while, and C) primarily, you’ve made such a mess of everything you touch that I wouldn’t know where to begin to help you.

But, I have an idea that you may want to consider.

I’ve been trying to keep my news intake to a minimum lately, because the election makes me alternately want to laugh myself to death and vomit, and because most of the world is crazy, and because I can’t understand the reason for the existence of the Kardashians, and this whole Target restroom thing defies common sense. All that said, another issue has come up lately which I think I’d like to weigh in on… the life-altering question of “Who the heck should be on the 20-dollar bill?”.

Frankly, I’m not all that married to Andrew Jackson’s photo on the 20. Nor am I married to Harriet Tubman’s or any particular person’s photo on any particular denomination of money. The reality is, it’s not a big deal. It’s not really a deal at all; just pick someone, anyone and get on with it. But, I realize that you are, after all, the Federal Government, and it’s your role to find things that don’t matter and turn them into big issues. But, while it doesn’t actually matter who goes on the money, it seems to have become a deal for you. So I want to help you make this decision so you can get on with more important things like rigging Presidential primaries and stopping terrorists.

Here’s my plan – Personalized Vanity Currency. Or, PVC. Much like the personalized vanity license plates that are so popular here in CA and elsewhere, there is enough of an appeal to the narcissist in most of us, this thing could really take off. Here’s how it would work…

A person like me (although I would never do this) would choose a photo to put on a $20 dollar bill. Or any denomination;

The Treasury Department would have a Personalized Vanity Currency website, designed by the same I.T. geniuses who worked on the Obamacare thing;

I (or any narcissist) would upload their favorite photo to the site, pay the fee (the face value plus another $5 per bill) through PayPal, and enter their personal information. For those of you who struggle with math, that means a PVC 20-dollar bill would cost $25. Plus, you could probably come up with other taxes to impose. I’ll leave that up to you;

In 6-8 weeks, I (or whoever) will find my $20 bill in my mailbox. Or, hopefully, several $20 bills. I’d recommend a minimum order of some kind, otherwise you’ll have all these arrogant selfie-taking cheapskates ordering one dollar at a time.

And there you go. This could be a goldmine for the Federal Government, which as I understand, could use a goldmine about now. Another idea would be to make the Personalized Vanity Currency FREE of charge for the first six months to generate interest in the idea. If the costs prove to be prohibitive for that, Donald Trump would probably pay for it, and then he could get Mexico to reimburse him later.

OK – I hope that helps. I can’t solve very many of the Federal Government’s problems (for that matter, neither can the Federal Government). But something like this could prove to be the psychological win this country needs right now. Please get back to me if I can answer any questions about the PVC program or help in any other way.

Sincerely, etc etc

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Sorry About the Blog (Or, “Random Stuff to Get Back Into the Writing Habit”)

1013237_10201833481302102_386870110_nThis is my first blog post in almost three months. I used to blog fairly regularly, and kind of liked doing it, but lately I’ve lost the will to blog. But a few weeks ago I got an email from WordPress, telling me it was time to renew my domain name ( or lose it. So I thought about it, and decided that although I’m in a “don’t know what I want to do with the blog” phase, I figured it was worth the $26 to hold onto the domain name for a while.

The problem is, I still don’t know what to write about. It’s not that I have nothing on my mind; I think it’s more a matter of having too much on my mind at any given time, and I don’t necessarily want to put any of it out there. Years ago I was happy being an introverted, reserved person. Then I took an odd, unexpected turn into the world of pastoral ministry and out of necessity, I became a lot more involved with people than I normally would have been. But now that I’ve been back to my old regular private self for a while now, I really don’t always feel the need to tell people what I’m thinking all that often.

By the way, on the whole pastor thing – in about a month, I will have been out of pastoral ministry for the same amount of years (11) I was in it. I’m not sure what that means, other than the fact I can read a calendar.

Anyway, in an effort to get back to blogging regularly, and since I went ahead and paid the $26 for the domain name again (I literally had forgotten how to log into my site and had to try to remember the password), here is a list of Random Things About Me, in no particular order, for no particular reason…

I just put away all my Christmas decorations, except for a snowman doormat, which stays out all year around, just because we think it’s funny (“we” = me and the Lovely Miss Courtney, my daughter);

I really like Tide detergent, but only buy it when it’s on sale;

I’m very attached to Uganda, and the work Loving One by One does over there;

I need to get new tires in the next month or so. Until then, I wouldn’t ride with me if I were you;

I personally own six ukuleles, and babysit about 50 more;

I have absolutely no enthusiasm for any of the people currently running for President, in either party, and I think we should postpone the election until someone signs up who doesn’t either bore or scare me to death;

I’ve learned more about God, about the world and about people in the last eleven years than in the eleven years before that;

I really like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” You should find it online and check it out.

OK, that’s it for tonight. Thanks for letting me practice on you for this post, and hopefully I’ll be back with something more substantial very soon.

**Note – the photo for this post was chosen for no reason, other than the fact that I’m playing a ukulele in Africa, wearing a hat with the Sock Puppet on it. All that seemed kind of cool.

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Top Ten Things That Happened at School Today

 Today, these things happened at school…

10. A bunch of sixth graders finally got their first ukulele class, after a crazy first three weeks schedule;

9.  All those sixth graders signed their names on one of my classroom ukuleles with a sharpie, adding to the many other names that are on that ukulele;

8.  First graders played handbells and made bad handbell puns like “belf-control;”

7. Second graders played handbells, with fewer puns, and practiced singing “Come Fly With Me,” including Frank Sinatra words like “koo koo day;”

6. While #6 was happening, an eighth grade girl felt comfortable enough to come into the music room and borrow an amp and a cable – to work on her bass playing;

5.  The above-mentioned eighth grade girl made it a point to say hi to the second graders and tell them how much she likes Frank Sinatra;

4. It was pizza day;

3.  The school year is still new, so the kindergarteners felt compelled to scream “Hi Mr. Miller” every time they saw me. Every time;

2.  There’s an enormous spider web, including an enormous spider who I’m sure plans to eat me, near my room…but a yearbook girl got some nice photos of the spider (handy for future forensic evidence);

1.  I wore my “say aloha to my little friend” t-shirt (above photo). 

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A More Interesting Debate Question

  Tonight there was a debate (more of a mass informercial really) among the top ten of the 471 Republicans who hope to be President next year. I watched it, giving it all the attention and seriousness it warranted. Then later, inspired by my friend Britt’s completely unrelated Facebook photo and post, I thought this would have made a good question for tonight’s debate…

Moderator: Here’s a question for all the candidates – When it comes to brownies, do you prefer the middle, the edges, or the corners? We’ll start with Generic Republican Cadidate #3.

GRC#3:  First I’d like to say how grateful I am to be here tonight to talk about the real issues that matter to the American people, and of course desert items are part of what made America great: if I’m elected, I’ll do everything in my power to close the border in order to stop the unfair advantages Mexican brownie manufacturers have had over your own local bakery.

GRC#8:  Once again he’s not addressing the real issue; he didn’t answer the question. I’ll answer it, but first let me say my father was a mailman and we could rarely afford brownies. When, not if, but when I’m elected I’ll make sure there are brownies on every table of every home in America. Oh, the middle by the way.

GRC#1: Of course he likes the middle; he’s afraid to take a position on anything. Who’s supposed to pay for all these brownies? This is nothing more than another entitlement. I, on the other hand, have always liked the edge – I’ve always been on the leading edge and not afraid to say it.  If people want brownies, I’ll make sure they have good jobs so they can afford to buy brownie mix. Of course, Our current president lacks any kind of leadership skills and wouldn’t even be able to make this kind of decision. He’s made our brownies a laughing stock around the world. My first day in office, I’ll reverse that. You laugh at an American brownie, we’re coming after you.

Ben Carson M.D.: Excuse me… I’m just wondering if I’ll have a chance to speak tonight?

Moderator:  We’ll get to you in a moment, Dr. Carson.

GRC#5: I’d like to point out that of all the candidates here, I’m the only one who has ever actually made brownies.

All Other Generic Republic Candidates:  That’s not true… I’ve made brownies from scratch…My mother made brownies for the whole neighborhood… I can’t eat brownies because I’m diabetic but I still make them for others because I care, etc.

Donald Trump: People who make brownies are stupid.

GRC#6:  Really, Mr. Trump expresses in his own unique way the sentiments of the everyday American; the brownies, cheesecake and cookies my dad fought for in World War II are in danger of becoming a thing of the past. That’s not the America I grew up in.

Donald Trump: (makes that weird gesture with his lips).

Moderator: Dr Ben Carson, do you have a final word?

Ben Carson M.D.:  Yes, I’d like to mention that I’m the only one standing here tonight who has ever separated a pair of conjoined twins. Not that that’s in the President’s job description, but I’m just saying. And if I’m elected I’ll use my superior surgical skills to cut brownie options you’ve never dreamed of. 

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Africafe on the Porch 

  Today is July 21, 2015 and I’ve been home from Uganda for five days. Prior to that, almost every morning for two weeks began on the front porch of Maria’s Place (which is actually on the side), drinking Africafe Instant Coffee and getting psyched up for the day.

Africafe Instant Coffee isn’t very good. I know, because I’m an official coffee snob and proud of it. I know what to buy, where to buy it and how to make it. I know what brands to avoid, like Yuban for example, which is likely the coffee they serve in Hell, boiled to death in those giant stainless steel coffee boiling machines they always use in churches.  I know where all the Starbucks, Peets, and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf locations near me are, as well as the independent places. Southern California is a pain in many respects, but we at least have our coffee act together. But I digress… Africafe Instant Coffee is seriously bad stuff.

But on this my third Uganda trip, I only brought home one souvenir to memorialize the experience… You guessed it – this can of Africafe Instant Coffee. I’m enjoying, well, having a cup right now while I write this. I didn’t buy it because the coffee was good. I bought it because having the coffee on Maria’s front/side porch, thinking about the day ahead of me, was good. Having a day in front of me that included caring for hundreds of seriously ill Ugandan people, treating children for intestinal parasites, treating malaria and HIV, straightening legs and spines, visiting dying people in the hospital, helping old people read again- all while playing the ukulele once in a while…those days were good. And the Africafe Instant Coffee was the start of a lot of days like that. 

The Africafe I’m drinking right now actually seems worse than the Africafe I had each day in Uganda. Maybe I didn’t make it right, or maybe it’s knowing I have a cupboard full of better coffee options. Most likely however, the coffee isn’t the same because the day ahead of me isn’t the same as those other Africafe days. It’ll be a good day – but definitely not the same.

But once in a while, it’ll be good to drag this little can out and make a cup of this stuff, and remember the dozens of people who contributed talents and finances to get me to Uganda this year, as well as the best LOBO team ever (I’m not kidding), and the thousands of Ugandan people we were able to meet and serve. 

And, thank God for Starbucks. 

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