Monday, December 25, 2006

An Unlikly Meeting

The coffee shop was mainly empty when the stranger entered. Most patrons had gone home to be with their families now that the holiday was winding down. As the new visitor looked around, he recognized Tom Trindle paying his check. Harry Lemke was talking on his mobile phone at the counter as Mr. Trindle walked passed by and out the door without even a glance the stranger’s way. The new arrival made his way to a booth in the back. There he sat across the table from a man still in a Santa suit sipping hot chocolate and eating a blueberry muffin.

Harry, still on the phone was oblivious to the two characters seated at the back corner booth, but Stella the waitress was not. She had already waited on Santa and found him friendly enough to earn the bells on his hat. She didn’t know what to make of the strange man now seated with him dressed in a robe and sandals – odd enough in principle but particularly so this time of year. She took him a glass of water. The stranger smiled at her and offered his thanks as he called her by name. Stella slightly taken back by the fact that this visitor knew her name inquired, “Who are you supposed to be, Jesus?”

The stranger replied, “I am.”

Stella mustered an uncomfortable smile as she made her way back to the counter for she knew that the stranger required nothing more than the water and didn’t look like he could pay for more than the price of "free" anyway.

“I always wanted to meet you,” Santa said. “You are the reason I’m here.”

“Some say it is so for godly reasons; others say ungodly reasons,” replied Jesus.

Santa spoke up, “I assure you sir, I have only the most honorable of intentions. I make all the boys and girls know that the night before Christmas is the most special time of the year. I picked your day to show generosity and love to all people.”

“Do you not think that you have replaced me in many the lives of the children and their parents?” asked the bearded man.

“I cannot control the minds of the people. I can only be what it is that I am.”

Jesus smiled, “You are my seed that is planted in the children’s hearts. The crops that grow from you will only be realized when the children are older – if they are watered and nurtured.”

Santa exhaled in great relief. “I am glad that you see me that way. I do not want any glory for myself. I only want to devote my being to loving and giving. We are a lot alike in that way, do you not think, Teacher?”

Jesus replied, “As there are attributes we have in common, there is one major difference between us that can never be bridged no matter how much faith the people have.”

Santa smiled sweetly, “I know, Master. You do not need to say any more.”

At that instant, Stella looked up to see an empty booth. She rushed over to see if on this Christmas evening, she would actually get stiffed for the $2.25 owed to her. She discovered on the table a five-dollar bill and a profound sense of peace.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas, Think About It

I always get tickled this time of the year when I see all the PC'ers struggle with what to do with this holiday. Secularists in the USA have been trying get rid of Jesus Christ for the past century or so. They don't like the word "Christmas" because it is a shortened term for "Christ's Mass". Can't have that. So here is what we have. We have "Happy Holidays" as an alternative. Well, "holiday" is a shortened version of "holy day" with apologies to my UK influenced friends who are convinced that "holiday" means "vacation". Most people I know, don't treat their vacations as something holy (see: Las Vegas, Spring Break, etc.) So, "Happy Holidays" is really including Chanukuh with Christmas which really doesn't do much to advance the secular agenda.

Christ carries power that can't be denied. We are living in 2006 A.D. (the year of our Lord). Secularists have been trying to change it to CE (common era), but a rose by any other name, still smells as sweet. The truth is that God made His presence known in such a way, that it literally divided time as we know it.

I get fascinated with this passive war against all things Christian. Without Christmas, there would be no national holiday. The national holiday is "Christmas", not winter solstice. Businesses in retail and the production of retail goods would fall apart without it. Most do not make a profit until the Christmas season gets underway. The term "Black Friday" the first shopping day of Christmas derives its name from the first day these retailers go from being in the red to being in the black. The coming of Jesus to the world keeps the US economy afloat. That's power, right there. What other holiday is so big that we spend our hard earned bucks to give presents to nearly everyone we know. We give to others because of the biggest gift that could ever be given - a life, a child, God's own Son. To step out of the glories of heaven to be abused by your children for THEIR sake. THAT is a gift.

The next time someone says, "Happy Holidays" or if you are getting two weeks off of school for "Winter Break", just smile and say to yourself, "Thank you, Jesus."

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. " (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #3

I think it is only suitable to do the Thursday Thirteen about Christmas in some way or form since this is the last Thursday before then. However, I didn't want to do the old standbys this time. You know, thirteen favorite Christmas songs or TV programs. They are all fine, but I am sure people will be able to find a ton of them if they look. Nope, today I decided to list thirteen presents that I will NOT be getting this Christmas. They are in no particular order


1. Laptop Computer (notebook) - I need this because it is still an excuse I have for not working on my writing projects. Once I get this, I will have to find another excuse. Once I satisfy all these excuses, I will be able to write a book about all the excuses I had for not writing.

2. My house sold - I have this house that I SAY that I am desperately trying to
sell. I work on some improvements from time to time, but if I was as desperate
as I SHOULD be, I would be working on it daily and there would be a sign in the yard. Anyone want to buy a house?

3. New (bigger) House - I am sharing my wife's house right now and it is too small for both of us. There is no way we can start a family till we have more space. As it is, I feel like I am living out of a suitcase. She didn't want to move
into MY house, although it is bigger and has an additional apartment in the back.

4. A Child - See #'s 3 and 2.

5. A puppy - We have three dogs as it is in this small house. It is my practice for
fatherhood. Since I am not Catholic, three practice children are enough.

6. Car - this is the same situation as the house. We have four vehicles and a
couple will have to be sold before this can happen. Two of them no one would
want and I can't part with my truck and classic car.

7. Be more in shape - Winter is a tough time to lose weight because of the weather and the holidays. I can't afford a gym membership because I have all my money tied up in houses and cars. However, I don't like the idea of not having any control of my weight so I decided to GAIN weight until January. So far, so good.

8. A gym membership - I guess it is possible, but gifts that expire are kind of a
gyp. But if I did get one, I could add it to the excuses that I mentioned in #1.

9. Cable TV for my work office - the facilities guys in my building at work was
supposed to have done this two years ago (I would like to monitor CNN and CSPAN). However, they are always "too covered up" - a favorite phrase around here.

10. New Carpeting for my office - three years ago this was supposed to be replaced. Back then; I packed a lot of stuff in boxes so it could easily be moved. It didn't happen. Those guys have been covered up. In the meantime, I have the only carpeting in the building still from the '70's. Seriously, it is this plaid thing - very dated.

11. A fantasy football championship. After years of winning championships along with the hundreds of dollars that came with it, I have officially ran my team into the ground. Alas, I think the game has passed me by.

12. A girlfriend - See #7 above. Besides, my wife would frown on it.

13. The ability to understand HTML enough to avoid screwing up these posts.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday's Whys

Don't worry, this isn't a new meme (hate that word) that I picked up somewhere. I just made it up. If you want to use it on your blog as one of those, feel free. Every once in a while (perhaps on Wednesdays ;) I will present some things that are bothering me hoping that someone has some insight. Here is what is on my mind today:

1. Why is it that Christians on TV are always portrayed as out of touch idiots? My wife and I was watching a reality show (Trading Spouses), and even the woman the show picked was kind of a whacko. I am sure the show's editing has something to do with it, but some things just spoke for themselves. There have been a lot of people with a strong Christian faith that contributed a great deal to history and society so I know that all Christians are not as idiotic as the media portrays them. I also know that those who do not believe are farther from Christianity after watching these shows.

2. Why is it that the ongoing presence of US troops in Iraq and the continued instability there because of it is somehow better than just letting a full-blown civil war break out and let the chips fall where they may? Both scenarios provide for a lot of death and bloodshed, but the civil war will at least end with the Iraquis deciding their own fate. I mean, how could it be worse than the Saddam Hussein era? I know people will talk about Iran coming in and taking over, but how can that be worse than the the Saddam era? If it would be worse, than why did we attack Iraq instead of Iran? I mean, if we thought we had to attack someone rather than go after bin Laden, why not Iran or North Korea? Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it is better to let them fight it out among themselves, I just want to know why it isn't.

3. Why am I a sports fan? It takes up a lot of my time and ultimately I get disappointed. For instance, I am a big Cincinnati Bengals fan. Monday night, after weeks of playing great, they laid an egg on national TV. It hurt their chances to go to the playoffs and I have had a bad taste in my mouth ever since.

4. Why is my wife not more of a sports fan and why is she losing her enthusiasm for her beloved University of Illinois basketball team? She used to be nuts for this team - even before they were great a couple of years ago. Shoot, she got me liking them and I went to Indiana University (a conference rival)? Last night we watched the first half of the Illinois/Missouri game. At half time, she talked to her dad on the phone and I went to check on my mother. I showed up in time for the second half and she was in bed. It was a close game (and Illinois won). I stayed up and watched the rest of HER team's game by myself.

5. Why do I blog instead of finishing my writing projects? I guess that is a loaded question because I could do both. I started blogging to get me used to writing everyday (or at least multiple times a week). I do that, but I haven't worked on my projects (four novels and two nonfiction pieces) in quite some time. My blog writing really isn't as good as my other stuff and doesn't have the pressure to be as good. Do you think I am just lazy?






Monday, December 18, 2006

I got nuttin'

This is the post that states that I have nothing to say. It really isn't true, though. I have plenty to say about the situation in Iraq and the political outlook for the presedential election in '08; I just don't have the energy today.

I guess I slept okay. I had a couple of crazy dreams. Usually, I feel like I slept well when the dreams are intense or real-like. These were. So, I must have slept okay. I woke up to the smell of coffee which was nice. We set it come on automatically at 5:15 this morning. That was a nice thing that I want to be a habit.

The weekend was okay, but not outstanding. The weather was springlike but I didn't get much done. I hate that a ton, because who knows when the weather will cooperate again. I managed to break my chainsaw when doing what little I did manage to accomplish.

I can't stop yawning this morning. I need to keep a cot in this office for just such an emergency. Maybe I will sum up the energy later to start one of my diatribes. Maybe not (yawn).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #2

This is my thirteen reasons why this will be a great holiday season;

1. It is the first Christmas as a husband.
2. We are spending a couple of days at my father-in-law's house and he likes me. ;) (he is totally understanding of his daughter's "ways").
3. My mother seems to be maintaining her health.
4. I get as many days off as I want.
5. The Christmas shopping is about 90% completed already.
6. We have Marley the Christmas Dog (he just looks Christmasy).
7. My sister is hosting the get-together and she is great at it.
8. My Christmas turkey!
9. My wife wraps all the presents and is great at it!
10. The present gravy train started at our November reception and will continue till the rest of the year. :)
11. "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" is on TV.
12. Linus' reading of Luke 2 on "Merry Christmas, Charley Brown".
13. I haven't lost sight of the reason for the season!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Retirement Plan

Today, I was just going to complain about my wife. It has been a while since I had and I didn't want to give the false impression that I finally found marital bliss. However, instead, I am going to present this retirement plan that my wife (ironically enough) sent me through email. There will be plenty of time tomorrow to complain about my wife. ;)

Because I am thinking of my mother and always trying to figure out my own plan for the golden years, I found this email somewhat interesting - even if it was intended to be tongue-in-cheek.
________________
This is my retirement plan:

About 2 years ago my wife and I were on a cruise through the western Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderlylady sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining room. Ialso noticed that all the staff, ships officers, waiters, busboys, etc., allseemed very familiar with this lady. I asked our waiter who the lady was, expecting to be told that she owned the line, but he said he only knewthat she had been on board for the last four cruises, back-to-back.

As we left the dining room one evening I caught her eye and stopped tosay hello. We chatted and I said, "I understand you've been on this ship forthe last four cruises." She replied, "Yes, that's true.! " I stated, "Idon't understand" and she replied, without a pause, "It's cheaper than anursing home."

So, there will be no nursing home in my future. When I get old andfeeble, I am going to get on a Princess Cruise Ship. The average cost for anursing home is $200 per day. I have checked on reservations on a Princess andI can get a long term discount and senior discount price of $135 per day.That leaves $65 a day for:

1. Gratuities which will only be $10 per day.
2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to therestaurant, or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast-in-bedevery day of the week).
3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room, free washers and dryers, and shows every night.
4. They have free toothpaste and razors, and free soap and shampoo.
5. They will even treat you like a customer, not a patient. An extra $5worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
6. I will get to meet new people every 7 or 14 days.
7. T. V. broken? Light bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress replaced? No Problem! They will fix everything and apologize for your inconvenience.
8. Clean sheets and towels every day, and you don't even have to ask for them.
9. If you fall in the nursing home and break a hip you are on Medicare;if you fall and break a hip on the Princess ship they will upgrade you toa suite for the rest of your life.

Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or name where you want togo? Princess will have a ship ready to go.

So don't look for me in anursing home, just call shore to ship.

PS: And don't forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side --at no cost.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #1

There is an activity out there called "Thursday Thirteen". A blogger makes a list comprising of thirteen uh . . . anything, I guess. It is designed to let the readers get to know them a little more. I don't really know how to officially join the group that is doing it, so I am just going to wing it. They have these little things they put on their blog and I don't even think I could figure out how to do it. Nonetheless, here is my first Thursday list of thirteen.

Thirteen All-Time Favorite TV Characters:

13. Stewie Griffin from The Family Guy. He is the baby with the adult feminine voice. It is so outlandish, that it is fascinating to me.

12. Arthur Fonzerelli (a.k.a. Fonzie, the Fonze) from Happy Days. I used to think he was the coolest guy when I was a kid. I wanted to be him. I always tapped juke boxes when we went out to eat, but I could never turn on a song that way.

11. Dwight Schrute from The Office. The guy is maniacal psychophant. Hilarious.

10. Mr. Spock from Star Trek. He introduced me to logic and was such a contrast from . . .

9. Captain Kirk from Star Trek. He was so melodramatic and bigger than life. He was a master of space karate and always got the girl - even if she was blue or green from time to time.

8. George Costanza from Seinfeld. Nobody could get into a ridiculous jam like this guy. He made the best speeches, too.

7. Edith Bunker from All in the Family. She appeared to be dumb but was probably the one on the show that had the most going on. Edith is the only female on the list. I think this is more of indictment on the industry than on females. Females never seemed to get the interesting roles. I will say that Betty from Ugly Betty may make it to a future list.

6. Data from Star Trek, The Next Generation. Data was an android that had no emotions (in the vein of Spock). However, unlike Spock, Data had a pinnochio complex. He was fascinated with humans and his trying to become human was both interesting and humorous.

5. Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza. Hoss was as big hearted as he was big and strong. There was certain charm about him that drew me to the show.

4. Michael Scott from The Office. He is so funny. He is the guy in real life that you would laugh at in real life but feel guilty about later. With this being a television show, there is no guilt.

3. Kramer from Seinfeld. Every facial expression, body movement, and situation is so exaggerated and plain funny. He keeps the relevance of slapstick humor. He is, indeed, a pod.

2. Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. Barney is a combination of a lot of characters I listed above, but with his own style. There will never be another Barney.

1. Archie Bunker from All in the Family. Archie was so offensive and stupid, it is a miracle in character development that he was so loved by the TV audience. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I soaked up every word and facial expression. Archie is a television masterpiece.

That's my first list - hopefully not my last.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Weird? Yeah, guilty.

This another one of those tagged things. I have mixed emotions about them, but sometimes they are insightful.

This is six things that are weird about me:

1. I am a packrat. I have trouble throwing things away. I think in a former life I lived through the Depression (except I don't believe in that sort of thing).

2. I don't recognize my voice on tape or the image of me on film. The voice thing is easy to understand I guess. We all sound differently from the inside than on the out. I don't care too much for the way I sound except from on the inside (which I cannot share). The pictures are kind of weird. I don't think I ever look like myself. I guess it is because my self-image is a lot better than reality.

3. I have a habit of holding a napkin or tissue in my hand (or stuff them in my pocket). I got that habit from my mom. She was always ready for a runny nose or an unexpected mess.

4. I hate feet. Do I even need to explain why? Some e-pals used to threaten to send me pics of their feet, but thankfully no one ever did. :)

5. I can't stand for skin to touch. For instance, when I go to bed, I have to have something between my legs so they won't touch or a blanket between my arms and my chest. I don't know why, but if I let myself, I can drive myself crazy by thinking about my fingers touching themselves in between. Fortunately, I am not nuts about it. Most people don't even know about it - till now. ;)

6. I sing my wife "Happy Birthday" every year in Jimmy Stewart's voice (or the best immitation I can do). She loves Jimmy Stewart and evidently I do a good job at it. I think that is why she married me. She refuses to believe that Jimmy Stewart stutters, though. I say he does - most of the time.

That's the weird me. I am not tagging anyone specifically, but if you read this and thought of a few things about yourself that you would like to put in your blog, let me know.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Plumbers and Doctors


Since I got married, I have inherited yet another house that needs maintenance and upkeep. These aren't my strong points. I don't know exactly what my strong points are, but I do know that these things are not. So, I now have THREE, count them, three houses to maintain. It is kind of like giving a horrible cook a bigger kitchen.

What's worse is that I have a wife that thinks as soon as a man becomes a husband, he becomes Bob Vila. More than that, she thinks that I am responsible for the disrepair as if I get up in the middle of the night while she sleeps and tear stuff up. It is quite baffling, actually.

The latest thing is the kitchen sink. It leaks. I checked it out and it appears to be leaking in multiple places at the same time (where the faucet is connected and where the handles are). How these things decided to leak at the same time, I don't know. I think the whole system has to be replaced.

As I have mentioned to one blogging friend, I cannot afford a plumber - especially during Christmas time. So, I called a friend of ours and he is coming over today to assess and fix the thing. That is great, except for one thing. There is nothing I can do to adequately show my appreciation to this friend. You see, he is a doctor. He DOESN'T need the extra money. He can do anything. He is a physician, he makes shirts and other customed things (mugs, hats, etc.), he does construction, he bakes, you name it. He is so busy, yet he drops everything to come and help. He is gold!

What can I do to show my appreciation? I mean, I insist to pay him for his time and skill. Yet, he doesn't really care about the money - especially the measley amount he is getting from me. It is very humbling.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fun Friday

Not really, but hey, I can dream. I am still struggling to get rid of this stupid cold so I am going to take a half day off. I guess that is fun.

We are going to put up the tree tonight. I guess that could be fun if my wife is behaving.

I am going to make some hot cider. That could be fun if I don't sneeze into it. Good thing the stuff has to come to a boil. ;)

Here is my Friday Fun challenge. What is the most fun game you can play on the Internet. I am not talking about the "with other people" type games (like poker), I am just talking about some little game that you can play anytime if you have to kill a minute or twenty. My bud, Charles, introduced me to a Monkey Kick Off. If you have a game you like, pass it on.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Weak Week

I have had a busy and taxing week. The Thanksgiving turkey was one of the best ones that I ever produced. If you don't believe me, ask Marley. He ate an entire plate of it when no one was looking.

I suffered through Thanksgiving, actually. I have had this awful cold through the holiday weekend and I am still trying to get rid of it. It has compounded the snoring problem. My wife still is mad at me over this even though I trudge to the couch when she notifies me of the problem. She says that I am not doing enough. If I get suicidal, I think I will probably write a note and say I finally did enough to beat my snoring problem and leave it next to my decapitated head on the bed.

My mother also had some health issues this week. I thought I was going to be forced to take her into the emergency room. She became disoriented and weak. She also has had a cold/sore throat problems that onely compounded things. Recognizing the problems and remembering the fiasco we went through the last time I took her to the hospital, I decided to try to treat her myself with extra sleep and salt pills. That did the trick and she is back to normal - except for the cold. She has a doctor's appointment tomorrow.

Things are calm for the moment, but stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving misgivings.

I am a decent cook. There are two things I make extremely well: chili and roasted turkey. Tomorrow, my new wife and I will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for our families. There will be a couple of people from her neck of the woods there, and the rest is my local family. It will be quite the spectacle because we have a small cottage of a house. We plan on getting a bigger house in the near future, but for now, it is what it is.

The spotlight will be on my turkey for the big day. I opted out of making chili. I can't make both and I already supplied our 90 wedding reception guests with chili just a couple of weeks ago. My turkey, unless I screw up, is very moist and tasty.

I used to be disappointed with turkey. I always ate dark meat because I can't stand dry white meat. All my life, I just thought that was the way turkey is. Then one day it happened. I was working at a department store, fresh out of college when a lady brought in some turkey for Thanksgiving. I asked for dark meat, but she said she didn't bring any because everyone loves white meat. I tasted this moist turkey breast and I looked at the holiday in a whole new light. No longer would I be FORCED to eat dark meat or dehydrate myself with white meat turkey as it soaked up every ounce of saliva from my mouth and glands. NO! I WILL LEARN TO MAKE GOOD TURKEY MYSELF.

The next couple of years, I researched and experimented till I came up with the goods. Now, no one in my family even thinks of the possibility of a Thanksgiving or Christmas without Jeff's turkey.

I stuff the turkey with vegetables (water-based kinds like celary and onions) so's not to sponge out the bird's moisture. My wife calls me a few minutes ago and says that two people in her office warned her about cooking anything inside the turkey because Salmonella will thrive there. One of these people being a doctor gets her a little worried. I told her that I was disappointed because we all must have forgotten to get sick or die in the years past. Too bad we didn't know about it before so we would know how to act when we digest all that.

Happy Thanksgiving and by all means stay away from Salmonella!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Baby and the Bath Water

For most people, they either love or hate Michael Moore. I guess I am different. I kind of like him. Sometimes I LOVE him, but other times I don't like him very much at all. I can listen to him without pre-judging that everything he says is either right or wrong. I can listen, be entertained, and judge for myself on a point-by-point basis. Not dismissing someone altogether because you disagree with some or even a lot that he says is just part of being an adult. Today in the US, we have an overabundance of children when it comes to politics. However, for you teens wanting to be grown-ups, it is never too late. Read on and grow! ;) Try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Moore is right some of the time and off-base some of the time. He is dyed-in-the-wool liberal, which I certainly wouldn't describe myself as such. Here he promises conservatives these things now that the Democrats have captured Congress. I don't agree with all of it, but he certainly makes points. Feel free to agree, disagree, flame - whatever you want; I am just entertained. :)

******************************

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives

November 14th, 2006

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's
election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place
you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so
much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I
understand.

Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and
the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress,
have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer
you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.

Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans,

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never,
ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we
encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider
your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our
business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to
enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for
you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring
your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to
send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we
promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your
ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for
diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances
are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up
our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe
the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote
every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice.
Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do
there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your
age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon
or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a
hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our
streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect
your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay
conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those
beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most
radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the
peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and
"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for
me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless
America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and
fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good
example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and
paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or
herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt
politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us
on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our
heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important
duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are
every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim
as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us
the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million
fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.

Signed,

Michael Moore

Friday, November 10, 2006

Marley and Grogan

Last night I went to see the author of Marley and Me, John Grogan, as he discussed his book. I wrote about this book before and how it related to my own dog story. If you forgot or hadn't read it, you can find it here. I finished the book minutes before leaving to see Mr. Grogan. Finishing the book was tough because it brought me back to my own heart-ripping experience with my Griffey. I truthfully didn't know if I could finish it, but I did.

Mr. Grogan is as good a speaker as he is a writer. He is just a good story teller and I know that the couple of thousand people at the event appreciated him appearing. After he spoke, he met with anyone that was willing to wait in line to see him and have a book signed. My wife and I waited an hour, and finally had our eight second audience with this New York Times best selling author. We had something signed for our friend, Debi, who couldn't make it because of a class. She was the one that gave us OUR Marley. I told him that while he signed, but he appeared to not really listen. He must have been tired signing all these books at this stop and others. The book had been out for 14 months already.

If you are looking for a good story to read, I recommend this book - especially if you have a fondness for dogs. You will see one of your dogs in at least one of Marley's misadventures. If you read it, be ready to laugh and cry. This piece will demand both from you.



Monday, November 06, 2006

Grumpy

I don't feel right today. I didn't sleep well, neither did the wife. The snoring problem had disappeared for the most part till last night. It kept her awake and she is even grumpier than I am. Of course, being married, a lot of the reason I am grumpy is because she is grumpy. It is a disease, I tell ya.

I have a negative outlook on a lot of things today. A year ago today, a big tornado came through this area and took 25 lives. Now, I am bombarded by the "anniversary" of it on all the TV and radio stations. I think these things should be kept on the down-low. Everything is so hyped up anymore. I lost one of the players I coached in the tornado. I was touched by it. I just don't want to be pelted with it all the time. It is the same thing with 9/11. I am just tired of hearing about it. I think victims of these tragedies should be honored - but quietly and in a dignified way.

My wife called me (because she is feeling "weird" today) and a co-worker filled her mind with "it sounds like you are pregnant". Oh brother! She needed me to tell her that it is nearly impossible. I did. I think she feels a little better.

We had our wedding reception party-thing Saturday night. It was fantastic. My sister, niece, father-in-law, his friend, my wife and I worked very hard to prepare for it. It couldn't have turned out better. Everyone raved about my chili - which I stayed up the night before making for it. We had everything from shrimp to chili. It was casual, but elegant and decorated with a Jamaican feel.

One thing that bothers me a little is that most of the guests were my wife's people. She is shy and has trouble making friends, yet all her work people showed up and many relatives traveled four hours or more to come. I had my immediate family, and an aunt/uncle combination, and about four friends with their families. One person from my work showed up for about 15 minutes. Oh, I guess I can claim our travel agent since I was the one that made all the arrangements. It is sad because all my people live HERE. Oh well, it was a nice time anyway!

I guess that is all I have to gripe about for now. I hope I feel better. :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Verbal Snapshot

Every morning on my way to the office, I see a young mother walking her small boy to school. I think the mother is young; I can never see her face. However, the boy seems to be about five years old and the mother always wears an over-sized University of Michigan coat with the hood pulled over her head.

She always stops at a corner about a short city block away from the school. The boy continues on alone but passes the crossing guard between the mother and the school. The mother just stands there and watches the boy all the way to the school. Her posture suggests that she is sad to see the boy go and isn't doing too well with the thought that her baby is growing up. When the boy disappears from sight at the school, the mother turns around and slowly retraces the footsteps that brought her there. Her head is down as she goes to face the day without her child - again.

This particular morning helped me fill in the blanks that you just read in this little snapshot. The boy started down the street alone, while mom stood there still and watched. Then, about 30 feet away from her, he stops, turns around and sprints back to his mommy, gives her a giant hug, then trots away to his school day. When the child disappeared into the school, the mother turns around and walks back the way she came with a little more life to her step.

************

My previous post, Marley and Me, called for five people to be tagged to play along with the book reading blog game (I hate the word, "meme" - dont' know why, just do). I thought I would just let it go, but Barb from Skittles Place asked to be tagged so the four other people I am about to tag can blame her for your tagging. ;)
The following people can consider themselves TAGGED!
Of course Barb, Gail from Classyof68, Sayre of Sayresmiles, DesLily (Pat) from Here Tere and Everywhere, 2nd Edition, and Jod(i) from Beyond the Cracked Window. If any of you do not want to participate, I understand. People are busy and some don't read. Besides, it is YOUR blog rep, not mine. ;)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Marley and Me

I have been tagged by Laura who has a very interesting family-oriented blog called Adventures in Juggling. It seems it involves a book I am currently reading. Here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!
6. Tag 5 people.

Okay. This particular game fits into what I was going to write about anyway. Here is the passage:

" 'John, I think the baby might be coming.'
I propped myself up on an elbow and rubbed my eyes. Jenny was lying on her side, knees pulled to her chest. "The baby what?' " (end of passage)

Two days ago, my wife called her dad and told him that she thinks that we are having an addition to our family. He nervously laughed, "Really? Anyone that I know?"

So many things must have invaded the poor man's head. Just two weeks ago he escorted his daughter over a footbridge on a Jamaican beach into my hands where he gave his blessing for our union. Now, he is trying to prepare his brain for grandfatherhood.

His daughter answered him, "No, it is a golden retriever." What a relief for him as they both shared a five-minute laugh.

The whole thing wasn't much of a laugh for me, though. I had just lost Griffey as you know if you read my Tuesday post. I really didn't want another dog. It is too painful to go through again. I knew after time, I would want to adopt another one, but not yet. Not while my little buddy bowed out just a couple of days before. However, this is how it happened.

Debi, a woman my wife works with, adopted the dog on Friday because the local pound was over-crowded and they were putting dogs down at a record rate. This golden's number was due even though he had only been there a couple of days. Her daughter volunteers there at the shelter and begged her mother to step in and save this dog because it was special. When Debi got the dog home, she was informed by her landlord that she couldn't have pets. This was a surprise because other tenants have them, but the policy just changed.

Knowing that my wife is a sucker for dogs and sob stories, Debi told her of this dog's plight. My wife responds, "Jeff LOVES golden retrievers!"

I do love golden retrievers. I had planned on getting one for over a year. However, this Griffey ordeal commanded that my heart wait. I wasn't looking for a replacement and I needed time to grieve. Ah, but the fates do not care. I couldn't save Griffey, but I may be able to save this dog.

My wife called me and said, "I have something I need to talk to you about." Wives, NEVER call your husband and say that. It seldom is a good thing.

I responded with, "Oh no." I had been through a lifetime of events in the past month and I wanted to cruise for a while.

She replied, "No, it is a good thing - I think." Well, you know the rest of the story. Debi named the dog "Marley" after the dog in the book because she recently finished reading it. My wife just finished it and LOVED the idea of "Marley" for a name. Now, I am currently reading the book and trying to get through it before next Thursday when John Grogan, the author, is coming to town to talk about it.

So, here's the fates or God showing the way for us to get this dog:

1. I have wanted to get a golden retriever for a while now.
2. I lost my dog and have an empty place in my heart right now.
3. This drops into our lap (with all the shots and checks from a vet for free - which is important since I just spent nearly a grand on Griffey's treatment.
4. The dog is named Marley based on the book that the three of us was reading.
5. The Marley in the book was named after Bob Marley, the most famous Jamaican (all we heard about in Jamaica was Bob Marley).
6. We started our life together in Jamaica and now we are starting our first co-sponsored dog named indirectly after this famous Jamaican.

The Marley in the book is a yellow lab, but Debi couldn't resist the name and the story. Plus, the resemblance is pretty good.

Marley, so far, has turned out to be exceptional. He is a big, beautiful sweetheart of a dog that I was slow to warm-up to. He doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body and although he has been left in the house alone, he hasn't made one mess or chewed on anything not designated a chew toy. His only fault is his love. He is just brutal with that big tongue of his.

Welcome to the family, Marley!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Griffey


I got Griffey about six years ago. He was part of a package deal that a good friend of mine shared – we got two dogs Taubensee and Griffey. Both were named after Cincinnati Red players. Taubensee I wrote about previously. He is a great dog. This post is about Griffey.

Griffey was a funny dog. He was small and black with tan highlights on his face and white fur on his chest. He really liked to please me and was very energetic about doing it. I taught him a few tricks and he was so eager to please that he often went through the cycle without being asked. He even threw in some of his own “flourishes” (such as spinning on his back feet) for good measure. One of my favorite tricks that he performed was the “creep”. Griffey, on command, would crawl with his front paws with his back legs stretched behind him. It was akin to something you would see Lassie do if she was making a war movie and was rescuing soldiers in foxholes under enemy fire.

Griffey was also very afraid of storms. Nothing I could do could ever get him over that. He would shake and pant at the first rumble of thunder. Finally, he learned to crawl under an end table till the storm passed. He was so very fond of dog biscuits, but couldn’t touch them or even a t-bone steak if he was in “storm mode”.

This dog also had the worst breath. I tried dental bones, brushing his teeth regularly – everything. Nothing helped. His breath could take paint off any surface. And, he loved to share that breath. He particularly liked to breathe in the face of all female humans he came in contact with.

My dog also had a penchant for getting into the trash. He knew it was wrong, but if he was alone with a clear shot at it, it was just too tempting to pass up. I knew when he did it, too. Every time I came in the door, Griffey would meet me there full throttle. He would say in body language, “Hey Jeff!!! You’re home!! Come in, sit down, take your shoes off. Can I get you something to eat?!?!?” He loved it when I came home. However, if he had gotten into something he shouldn’t have, he was off in the corner in his dog bed, still and guilty-ridden. “What did you do?” I would ask sternly. It was usually not necessary to wait for an answer because it was usually strewn all about the floor or on my leather couch.

No one could come close to the property without Griffey warning us of a possible intruder. He would bark and if someone knocked, he would jump against the door and shout for all he was worth. It was difficult to even answer the door because of him – the little knucklehead.

Last week, I noticed that Griffey wasn’t feeling too good. He stopped eating and wouldn’t drink and he threw up what little he had in his stomach. He just laid around without his usual energy. Finally, I decided to take him to the vet last Thursday. The doctor put him through all types of tests and then decided that my little buddy had pancreatitis (an inflamed pancreas). He most likely got it from something he picked up while getting into the trash. He sent us home with a battery of medicines and told me to call if there were any problems. We noticed that he was doing a little better after the vet treatments.

Friday came and Griffey threw up again so I called the vet. He gave me a few more instructions and told me to call him the next day. About 11:00 Friday night, I came in and my sister (who decided to stick around and keep an eye on Griffey) told me that he was doing worse. I checked him out and he was unresponsive.

We took him to the emergency vet clinic. They treated him but the vet told me he had DIC as a complication from his pancreatitis. DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) is a disease where the clotting of blood is happening all over the body rather than just at the point of injury or infection. It was getting out of control with Griffey in such a short time. The vet told me that the prognosis was VERY bleak. He said when vets diagnose DIC it means “Death Is Coming”. He said we could hope for a miracle, let him bleed out, or mercifully put him down. We chose to be merciful.

I have always had an underlying contempt for people who ordered the euthanism of a pet. Why would they give up? There I was feeling like a hypocrite for allowing this to happen to my own dog. But he was bleeding out and struggling! I still wrestle with it. Even if the slimmest of chances that the DIC would reverse itself, Griffey probably had major organ damage and still had the pancreatitis that he couldn’t shake even with medication. I decided to let his suffering end in this peaceful manner. I pray that I was right. I will never have true peace about it and I guess that is my scar from this whole ordeal when the pain of Griffey’s death is replaced by only fond memories of his life. I will always carry that scar.

I returned home at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning with what appeared to be a sleeping Griffey wrapped in a blanket. At 3:00 am, Griffey was laid to rest next to my Dulin, the perfect dog of my youth in my mother’s back yard.

Griffey was a fun dog. He was my buddy. Every time I make a move, I instinctively look for Griffey because he always was ready to go or do at the moment I contract a muscle. Now, there is silence and stillness on the floor and in my heart.



Friday, October 27, 2006

Weddingmoon Continued

Prerequisite: "The Only Way to Fly" and "Getting There".

After the hair-raising bus ride, we finally pulled up to the beautiful Sandals Dunns River resort. Here the whole hassle experience morphed into one of relaxation and luxury. We were met at the bus by employees who handed us cold towels (much welcomed) and champagne. Then, instead of waiting in line to check in, we were escorted to the lobby lounge where we sipped champagne and did the minimal paperwork and listened to one of the hostesses tell us about the resort.

After the paperwork, the hostess told us that we arrived before check-in time so she told us to pick out an on-site restaurant to have lunch and afterwards our luggage would be waiting for us in our rooms. We ate at the Columbo Room where the buffet was one of Carribean favorites. It was prepared well and was quite a nice way to start our stay. The great thing about Sandals is that even the inconveniences were not inconvenient.

After lunch, my bride-to-be went up to our room. It didn't disappoint. One of the best things was the view that we had from our balcony. Any time we wanted to, we could step out there to read or relax and see this:

I spent every morning as the sun came up over the water out on the balcony with this view. Even as I write this, I am pining to get back.








Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Little Shut-Eye, Very Little

I will resume the Jamaican wedding story at some point. Now I have something a little more pressing. My new wife and I have encountered something that is putting a little strain on things - our sleeping behavior.

My wife likes to sleep balled up. This translates that I do not have maneuverability room. I can't make any movements without running into a knee or an elbow. Add to this that our bed is small!

I am used to a queen-sized waterbed. Now I have a full-sized regular bed that I only have access to about 38% of the available bed surface (because apparently my tiny wife requires about 62% of it). I am also one of those people that have to adjust frequently (less frequently with the waterbed). It is horrible. I feel like a prisoner.

We are on the verge of solving some of these problems by getting a bigger bed. It still will not be a waterbed, but it is going in the right direction.

However, we have a bigger problem. Apparently, I snore. Here is some advice: If you get accused of snoring by your spouse and you don't think you do, accept that you are wrong. I have been told that I have been snoring when I could have sworn that I was lying there awake. The fact is people snore and they don't know it.

I have tried a few things to help resolve this problem, but not with very good results so far. I have been using breathe-rite strips. They do help me breathe, but it hasn't solved the problem. I also take this pill thing, but I don't think it does anything. It tastes like an antacid. I am going to try a couple of other things, but if anyone has found a solution, I would love to hear it.
I read that nearly half of adults snore. Surely, there are solutions out there or everyone would be single!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Movie Review: "Man of the Year"

I am going to take a break from my weddingmoon and to discuss a movie that I saw this past weekend. I want to do it while it is still on my mind. I always have trouble trying to write about movies without giving it away. However, I will endeavor to do just that.

Actually, I saw a double feature Saturday night. I saw a comedy and a suspense/thriller movie. The comedy was, of course, "Man of the Year." The thriller was . . . uh . . . "Man of the Year." They were both pretty good, however comedy and suspense is usually not a good marriage. It wasn't here, either.

The movie started out as a comedy as Robin Williams character Tom Dobbs, a comedy-news show host, decides to run for president because he is sick of party politics. This part of the move was excellent - especially for me, because I share almost all of the same sentiments that Williams' character does. Plus, as you can see, Williams does a great Barabara Bush immitiation.

Somewhere towards the middle of the motion picture, it morphs into a suspense/thriller. There is intrigue concerning the calculating of the votes in the election. This is a pretty good storyline also. Either movie would have been good on its own. The trouble is that it isn't all that great together.

I was laughing and enjoying the comedy. I wasn't in the mood for the thriller. I wanted more comedy. I reluctantly stayed interested, but I longed for the comedy while the thriller aspects of the piece played out.

I can still recommend this movie, however. I think the message of the movie is important and the intrigue was fascinating. It is too bad that the movie couldn't make up its mind on what kind of movie it was going to be. Either one would have been great. Really, it would have been wonderful if there had been three movies. The process of Williams getting in the race would have been another good movie. In this one, we were ushered into the campaign by Dobbs' manager's (played by Christopher Walkin) narration of the accounts.

I give the movie a "B". There is always room for the "it would have been better if"s in movies. That is what gives us something to talk about and me an opportunity to get off my own nuptual story - for today, anyway.




Thursday, October 19, 2006

Getting There

When we arrived in Jamaica, the experience at the airport in Monteray Bay was only slightly better. The air conditioning was out so it was uncomfortable waiting in the "immigration" lines. In Jamaica, they open and examine all your luggage for plants and things like that. The people were a little kinder than those in St. Louis, however. And, the most important thing, I wasn't singled out as some kind of criminal-in-training.

After getting past all the hub-bub of airport beuracracy, we found the Sandals desk. There, they escorted us into a hospitality room where food, drinks and plush furniture was provided for Sandals guests. We waited there till our shuttle to the resort was ready (only about 5 minutes). Guys took all our luggage and loaded it without being asked. A modest tip later, we were on what appears to be the only road in Jamaica (tic).

The ride to the resort was very adventurous. First of all, in Jamaica, they drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel in those vehicles being on the right side. It is totally opposite of the US and I guess the same as Great Britain. Even though there are posted speed limits, no one observes them. There is a constant flow of passing cars on only two lanes. There are no "no-passing" zones or else they are ignored. Our ride was chocked full of close calls involving head-on collisions. Miraculously, I didn't see any accidents. They are used to this kind of driving and do it well enough. Our driver was a speed merchant and dare devil. Yet, he makes three round trips a day from the airport to Ochoa Rios and never gets in an accident. It is amazing.

People tend to congregate on the road in Jamaica. We must have seen hundreds on our 67 mile trip. There are goats running around and various large birds (that I found out later were buzzards). What struck me the most was the poverty among the people. Little square shacks housed families. These families are walled out of the most beautiful beach fronts in the world so rich (and lucky) Americans can c0me and take advantage of Jamaica's most precious resources. I have to admit that it made me feel a little guilty. Others rationalized that the tourists were the reason there was an economy at all in Jamaica so these peasants are grateful for the set-up. Maybe so, but the exclusiveness of the system still haunts.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Only Way to Fly

It is only fitting that my 50th post is the beginning of the account how my life has dramatically changed. I made it back from Jamaica with my life and wife intact. Jeff, a married man - never thought it would happen. Don't ask me how it is because I still have no clue. It is just different - surreal.

The trip had a rocky start, however. I hadn't flown since before 9/11 and I hadn't really wanted to. I understand all too well why that is. It is horrid.

I was randomly picked out to be run through the ringer. If you ever receive your boarding pass and get "SSSSSSSS" written on it, be prepared to go through an ordeal. In St. Louis, this happened to me. I was whisked away like a criminal to the "we have ways to make you talk" line of security. Once I was interrogated there and was able to join the rest of the group on the other side of the security, I thought the worst was over. I was wrong.

While trying to board the plane, the gate agent saw my "SSSSS's" and again called for security. "I already went through that mess," I pleaded.

"I am sorry, sir, but no one stamped your pass." After about five minutes, a security guard whom I already had a nice discussion with came down to the gate adorned with the obligatory and creepy rubber gloves. He said, "You? I already saw that you were okay. What's the deal?"

"No one stamped my pass," I replied in a hopeful tone.

"Sorry, I still have to check you."

So again I was searched and my bag was emptied. When he finished, I asked if he would stamp my pass to avoid any furthere confusion.
"Not necessary. I am right here at the gate." He was wrong. They had to call him back to initial my pass. So I left St. Louis with my fiancee and my abused carry-on with my nerves frayed and my panties wadded.

(to be continued)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Weddingmoon Prep Week is No Festival


I have been somewhat negligent to my blog this week. It is understandable, though. This is preparation week. All week I have been trying to make sure everything is set for the big Weddingmoon. I leave tomorrow for St. Louis - then on to Jamaica early Sunday morning.

This has been a rough week. My fiancee (one of the last times she will be referred to as that) has been stressed all week. In many ways, I had to bear the stress for both of us. For those who know me, that sounds like an impossible task. However, God is merciful. The last day or so, the stress level has risen, but the affects have lessened (for both of us).

To top it off, this is the big West Side Nut Club Fall Festival week here in Evansville, IN. It is the second largest street festival in the country (Mardis Gras is #1). Here in the 'ville, we can't mention the fall festival without including the whole "it is the second largest . . .". It is just something we do. Anyway, it is tradition for me to try to get there every night. Have you ever tried to prepare for your wedding and be at a festival nightly? It can't be done. I missed a night - and will probably miss tomorrow. It hasn't been exciting this year which is a shame.

I am not sure when I will be signing on again. I doubt I will be able to next week, but who knows. Hopefully, things will fall back into place soon after I get back - even if I will be banded from that point on.



Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Different Kind of Addiction

I know there is differing opinions about these type of things, That suits me. Actually, I am hoping that someone reading this WILL disagree with me and comment so I can begin to understand the behavior in question.

We recently sent out our invitations to our wedding reception-type event. It is an evening affair in November. It is going to be in a relatively small venue (100 or so capacity). Do you see where this is going?

There were a few responses with the RSVP cards that apply here, but this one was the worst (so far). One card was marked, "accept -
5"!! WTH? Here is the thing. This couple has three kids - all under 11-years-old. Keep in mind, the invitation is addressed to "Mr. and Mrs So-and-So". It didn't say "and family" or anything like that.

Why would anyone assume that it is okay to bring their small children to an adult, evening function? Why would anyone WANT to?

I understand that childcare is sometimes a problem. However, this couple has been out without their kids on a number of occasions - usually involving businesses that insist on a 21 and over clientele. They also have a built-in babysitter with grandma living right there with them. Even if they didn't, for this topic is bigger than this one instance, they have nearly TWO MONTHS to work out a sitter for a couple of hours this particular evening.

As far as I can tell, this couple and many others (probably some reading this) have an offspring addiction. That's right; they are addicted to their children. Addicted so much, they are, that it totally clouds their judgment regarding their kids. I have seen this before with this particular couple. They bring their kids nearly everywhere and allow them to stay up all hours of the night even when they are having adult company. So disoriented from reality are they that they believe other people are as enchanted by their young ones as they are. They must think, "Oh everyone will want to see our kids without question. Jeff will be thrilled that we decided to bring them." Well, Jeff's not thrilled.

To put this in perspective, I knew when I sent the invitation that they would do this. I still elected to send it, so I knew what I was getting. I just thought MAYBE, just maybe they would have a clue. But no, because see, it is a sickness. Just as one may steal from a loved one to feed a cocaine addiction, offspring addicts will punish those around with them with the presence of their children in inappropriate or undomfortable situations.

Let me contrast this example with another invitee that is bringing her child. One of my fiancee's co-workers received the invitation and asked, "Are you allowing children? I mean, I can try to find a sitter, but it is hard sometimes. I can try, though." My fiancee, knowing that there was surely going to be other child crashers attending graciously told her co-worker that it would be fine. See the difference?

My fiancee and I had decided long ago that when we have children (and we do want them - I really love kids, seriously), we are going to make every effort not to include them on many outings until they prove their merit. We certainly are not going to bring them to adult functions or other events where children are not CLEARLY welcomed. We decided this policy long before we were even officially engaged.

Okay mothers and others with insight, let me hear it. Where is my thinking faulty? What is it that I don't understand that makes this seemingly irrational, and discourteous behavior appropriate? While you are thinking about it, I am going to see if I can change my reception location to Chucky Cheese.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TV or not TV?

That is the question. Here is my answer. This is my list of must-see shows weekly. This is subject to change when some of the new shows reveal the frauds that they probably are and others surface as diamonds in the rough.

Monday - I would like to see Heroes. Because of Monday Night Football, I probably won't be able to see it and add it to the must-see list. If anyone else has seen it, I would be interested in what you thought of it. Since MNF will be seen by me weekly, I really don't have a must see program on Monday night. MNF isn't necessarily must-see for me (some of the games are weak), but I meet with bunch of guys every week for it and that is that.

Tuesday - Two shows: House and Boston Legal. House is a very smart show. I can't resist a good smart alec and Hugh Laurie's Gregory House is great. He is one of my favorite all-time television characters - which I am sure will be the subject of a future blog entry. Boston Legal the spin-off frome the now defunct The Practice is great because of the chemisty of James Spader and William Shatner. Two words: Denny Crane!

Wednesday - Two new programs have picqued my interest. Jericho so far has been very interesting as a rural town in Kansas is discovering that they may be the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Gerald McRaney leads this cast. He is one of those feel-good kind of actors that you feel at-home with (see Promised Land). The other program on Wednesday is Justice. I already discussed this show in an earlier entry. The show hasn't run me off yet.

Thursday - The only must see show here is The Office. It is easily the funniest show on television. Once you get used to the presentation and understand the concept (the office crew is in the midst of a documentary), the laughter ensues. Steve Carell of The 40-Year-Old Virgin fame leads this cast. However, the characters are so strange and compelling, that it definitely isn't the Steve Carell show. It would fill up an entire post to give this comedy its due. Just check it out. I already bought the DVD's from last year's season. I gave Six Degrees a look last week. It is a little convoluted, but it could pan out as a fine series. I was distracted some doing wedding prep last week, so it might be easier to follow than I let on. We'll see.

Friday and Saturday: Truthfully, I am never home so I don't have any recommendations. I have seen some of Numb3rs last year and was pretty entertained (Friday nights). It has a unique premise and makes one appreciate math a little more.

Sunday: I have one program that is must-see: Family Guy is awesome. It is a little bawdy for my normal taste, but it just strikes a chord with me. The flashback segments are unparalleled for its humor. If you haven't checked out this program because it is animated, get over it. It is well worth the effort if you need a good guffaw.

Top Five:

1. The Office
2. House
3. Family Guy
4. Boston Legal
5. Jericho

What's yours?






Friday, September 22, 2006

The "whys" have it.

Why is it that President Bush's approval ratings directly reflect the price of gasoline. Is it a coincidence that gas is the lowest in the weeks going into the election? Is it also a coincidence that Bush has a lot of friends in the oil business - including family interest? I hear that the price is low because there have been no hurricanes this year. I don't remember hurricanes affecting the cost of fuel before last year (Katrina). Does anyone else remember this having a major effect on oil prices over the years?

Why do 90% of the people going 5 mph under the speed limit in the passing lane have a cell phone attached to their face?

Why is it that when taking a standardized test, one has to erase mistakes COMPLETELY or it will be scored incorrectly, but at the same time, one must fill in the circles COMPLETELY and very dark or the same test scanner will not be able to pick it up?

Why did my stat count drop when I wrote about Islam and violence? Why do people have a greater interest in my love life and/or my testicles? ;)

Why is it that when I am resolved to have a relaxing and uneventful upcoming weekend on Monday, by Friday it is filled up with undesirable tasks and events?

Why do I continue to write in this blog when I really don't have the time? :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Islam and Violence

I look with interest at the fracas between with the Pope and those of the Muslim faith. It seems that the Pope quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who said, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." These comments were made at an academic address in Germany. Muslims around the world were outraged that the Pope could say such a thing since Islam is a "religion of peace."

Muslim protesters reacted to this politically incorect faux pax with . . . well, violence. How's that for putting illegitimacy to a complaint? Here's what has happened: Not long after a Muslim cleric in Somalia condemned the Pope's remarks, a nun was shot and killed, a group threatened to attack the Vatican with a suicide bomb, five churches in Gaza and the West Bank were firebombed, and the Pope has been burned in effigy.

Muslims do more damage to Islam's reputation than the Pope ever could. September 11th happens and some Islamic countries issue statements of regret (some don't). However if someone should draw a cartoon representation of Mohammad or if the Pope quotes an emperor from the 1300's that may disparage the religion tad, all hell breaks loose. It seems that there are protests all over the globe about the Pope's statement still, but yet I haven't heard about one protest about the murder of the nun or any other example of violence that has taken place in the aftermath.

The Pope has issued an apology and relates how he regrets what has happened. He explained that it wasn't his view, but of the 14th Century emperor he was quoting. He couldn't have back-pedaled any faster if he was sitting on the handle bars. It isn't good enough, though. No one has said what will be good enough. Some folks are just hell-bent on being outraged.

I have a Muslim friend in Saudi Arabia and she can't tell me why there are not more protests about such things. She says that she doesn't blame westerners for having negative feeling towards Islam. Well, that is one Muslim who gets it. I can only pray that it will start a trend.



Monday, September 18, 2006

Blessing in Disguise

My refrigerator gave out this weekend. It made for a trying weekend. Why do some of the most simple things become so complicated?

A lot of the food went bad so I had throw it out. What a waste of money! Then I had to recruit my nephew and we wrestled the old thing out the door.

It was then time to go find a replacement. There was an ad that had a new fridge for pretty cheap. We ran out to the place (that shall remain nameless), and they were closing up at 8:00 on a Friday night. When I asked the rep in the parking lot why the early closing, he said that they open an hour earlier than everyone so they close an hour early, too. It was a trade off. I said, "Some trade off! You open at 8:00 a.m. when most people with jobs (where paychecks and refrigerator payments come from) are at work instead of 9:00 a.m. (when those same people are still at work) so you can close at 8:00 pm when those same people are finishing up dinner on a Friday night out so you can disappoint them in the parking lot. Makes sense (to someone).

The sale was pretty good so I decided to wait and come in on Saturday. When I got there, I found out that the good price was on a 14 cu. ft. unit (which is a little bit bigger than a dorm fridge). When I checked the ad again in the store, it conveniently didn't give the size.

Even though I hated to get baited like that, I swallowed my pride and asked the guy to show me the non-toy refrigerators. The prices weren't that great, but I was getting desperate and they had a finance plan that was two years with no interest. I inquired about one, and was told that I could get it the next day. The next day? The way this company does business is that they have NOTHING in the store, they have to get everything from a warehouse 20 miles away. I told him that I couldn't wait and would have to give up the good financing deal. He then told me that I wasn't going to get the financing anyway, because I would have had to spend $1000 to qualify. What a waste of two days!

I went down to the closest place to the bad store which happened to be Lowe's. Fifteen minutes later, I had a refrigerator in the back of my truck heading for the kitchen that had a refrigerator-sized hole in it. I got free financing for a year, a decent price, and the aforementioned quick service. The only problem I had was that I needed them to change the side of the door handles, but they wouldn't unless it was delivered. That makes sense - I save them the time of delivering and that disqualifies me for getting them to switch the door handles. I got a shrug as a response, which I guess is better than an argument. ;)

The old refrigerator was ruining food before their due dates and giving my slightly better than room temperature drinks. I was just procrastinating on getting it replaced. I am glad that it finally gave out. I actually enjoyed a drink last night that wasn't even a Diet Coke with Lime! It was cold, though, and I had forgotten what that was like.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Do as I Say . . .

This is post is probably not going to set right with a lot of people. However, I think we can all disagree and still get along. Have you thought about what kind of people our kids are supposed to look up to?

When thinking about role models for today’s youth, it is mostly athletes and musicians for boys, and musicians and actresses for women. In a poll I saw (2004), Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson were at the top of what teenage girls consider their role models. I didn’t see one for boys, but listening to them talk and dress; it is pretty much the same thing (entertainers, not Spears).

Years ago, kids looked to police officers, fire fighters, teachers and even the president as role models – with other politicians such as congressmen and mayors. Police officers have been tainted with such public displays like the Rodney King arrest and similar items, that kids do not respect them – especially given that they tend to appear as the anti-rapper in society. Firefighters got a lift from the 9/11 disaster, no doubt, but those sentiments have settled now. Politicians since Richard Nixon are under extreme scrutiny. Every tainted deed is broadcast from the highest mountaintop. Who could look up to Clinton or GW Bush now? Don’t get me wrong, some people shouldn’t be role models despite their position, but we are our own enemies sometimes.

A lot of kids these days say they just look to their parents or family members as role models. That makes sense and I hope it is true. It seems to me that it is probably reported by kids who want to say the right thing. Regardless, we should take it seriously.

Are you doing anything that you wouldn’t want the kids in your family to do?

Here is the controversial part. If I were king, I would raise the pay of teachers, police officers, and firefighters three fold. However, here is the catch. Being a role model would be part of the job description. That means that none of these occupations allow for anything that we tell kids that are wrong or that they should stay away from. These people would not be hired or retained if they drink, smoke, curse, sleep around, cheated on their wife/husband, etc.

I remember the first time I saw evidence that a teacher smoked. The respect I had for him took a hit. I even saw a joint in a vehicle of a teacher in sixth grade as he was transporting our basketball team to a game in his van. I remember the first time I saw a police officer with a beer in his hand. Boom – another hit. When I heard a teacher in class say the “sh” word, - another hit.

Does that mean we tell our kids that people who smoke, drink or swear are bad people? No. We just tell them that it isn’t the right thing for them to do. Hopefully, through ourselves and other good role models and instruction, the rest would take care of itself.

Yes, if I were king, things would be different. However, I would probably struggle as a good role model. At times, we all do.