Sunday, June 26, 2011


Jennifer and I are headed to her family reunion here in Illinois. I was surprised by how much farmland there is. I walked outside this morning and looked at all of the corn planted right up to where the hotel is located. This was not what I expected. The only impression I've had of Illinois was the images I've seen of Chicago. This is not a city. Illinois is vast, flat farms. We are in Bloomington. There are a few older homes here and a very old courthouse and downtown area. There isn't a lot of traffic. It's a quiet town. In the old downtown area, there are tons of clubs. I think we are very close to Illinois State Univeristy. I like it here. The air is clean and the people seem friendly. So here are the states I've visited as of today, 8/26/2011

visited 17 states (34%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Leaving My Mark

I tend to worry about events that are unlikely. Jennifer has labeled this as “Borrowing Trouble.” Why would anyone borrow trouble if trouble is not desirable?
Faith is said to be the substance of things hoped for. It is more than hope or belief. With belief, there is no guarantee, it has no substance and there is no real evidence to support it. 600 years ago, a few people believed that the earth was round and that there was probably a large continent beyond Europe. 100 years later, some people were still skeptical but many others had complete confidence in the reported discovery of America. 500 years after that, there is hardly anyone on earth who doesn’t have faith that America exists. Imagine trying to tell someone about America 600 years ago. They would probably say something equivalent to “yeah, right.”
Borrowing trouble would be like an explorer looking for the new world and wondering how silly he was going to look if he couldn’t prove that the earth is round. He would doubt his findings and he would shelf the plans to sail. His friends would say, “Columbus, dude, you have been studying this thing for decades. Why would you doubt it now?”
Imagine how different history would be if Columbus had listened to his critics and gave up. He would have rolled up his drawings and put them in the attic. America may have been discovered by a more hostile government and they may have made it much more exclusive and impossible to immigrate. Europeans may have been unwelcome and my ancestors may not have gotten on a big boat to come over. My Irish, Cherokee and English mix would have been unlikely and I would not exist.
How did Columbus hear about this place? He had read about Leif Eriksson’s expeditions which dated back almost 500 years at that time. Ironically, Eriksson called one of his first North American discoveries by the name Markland. Markland was Norse for Forestland. It also meant Borderland. “Mark” meant that the land had a defining characteristic.  We still use that term the same way. When we survey property, we “mark” various points to describe the property. When something leaves a mark, it means that it leaves something you can see. In 1964, a Minnesota congressman pushed to have a day set aside to remember Eriksson. I was born that year and named Mark.
Jennifer is right. I can either borrow trouble or leave a mark. I can’t do both.