Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Switching Teams

For years, I have been a fan of Creative Labs products, i.e. MP3 players. I've owned four of them, the most recent a 30G Zen Xtra. The Creative line has served me well, but after seeing my son's iTouch and my niece's Nano in action this past weekend, I've made a major decision in the arena of digital entertainment...I bought an iPod Nano. I'll be setting up the iTunes account shortly.

This DOESN'T mean I've abondoning my trusty Dell Inspiron for a Macbook.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Atheists and Chick-Fil-A

On a couple of occasions during this Christmas season, the subject of where we shopped came up among friends and family members. Invariably, statements like "I don't shop there because they don't allow the Salvation Army bell ringers" or " I don't shop there because they support gays" came up.

I really hadn't thought about the issue of whether Salvation Army is or isn't allowed to stand in front of some stores. I assume they do receive a large part of their support via the "red kettles." I wrote the Salvation Army a sizable check because I think they do a great work, not because I felt guilty every time I walked past the red kettle. I would have sent the check regardless.

I couldn't think of a single retailer I purposely do not support because of their "support of gays" or any other group for that matter. Because I believe the Bible, I also believe homosexuality is a deviant behavior. People can and DO think I'm wrong. OK. So, I Googled "gay friendly companies" and discovered that Dell, Boeing, Best Buy, Clorox, Coca-Cola, just about every major auto manufacturer including Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Toyota, and Saturn, among a host of other corporations have been rated as "gay friendly." Hmmm. If I was going to start boycotting "gay friendly" companies, looks like my list of acceptable shopping choices would be pretty limited. That still doesn't change my mind, but that's not the point of this post.

Since there are folks-let's be honest, it's mostly those who identify themselves as Christians- that are specific about which companies they do and do not support based on certain behaviors/things they consider to be sin(s), my question is: "Do non-Christians (atheists/agnostics, etc) boycott business for similar reasons, i.e. they are "Christian friendly?" Chick-Fil-A is owned by an openly Christian family. They don't allow their franchises to be open on Sundays. The same goes for Hobby Lobby stores. Do people avoid these and similar companies because of their owner's religious beliefs?

Just wondering.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Unto Us a Child is Born

"[The angel said to Mary] You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:31-33 NIV)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Actually Like Christmas

I've seen it more this year than in the past; lots of people seem to be just fed up with Christmas. They are miffed about rude shoppers, a sluggish economy, the push to be "politically correct," the prospect of spending one more holiday with family members they really don't like, etc. There are a lot of things we could and do gripe about. As human beings, particularly Americans, we're actually pretty good at it. I heard about a foreign exchange student the other day that said: "You Americans sure have a lot of nice things to complain about" (emphasis mine). Pretty sad commentary. I admit that I've joined the chorus from time to time, but honestly, I really do like Christmas.

I like the fact that more than any other time of year, there is a overall sense of caring for others, showing kindness and reaching out to those who are less fortunate. I like the fact that during the Christmas season, people think more about Jesus, the baby in the manger. I like the fact that during this time of year, people are more open to talking about their faith, their eternal destiny, etc.

Today is Christmas Eve. I got up this morning around 6:30; both of the boys were already up. Right now, we're waiting on Dana to get ready, i.e. makeup, dressed. We're going out to eat breakfast and then return home to open our presents. (We started this tradition several years ago when my parents moved out of state. In previous years, we had to do that "it's my parent's year for Christmas Eve and your parent's year for Christmas" thing. Since Dana's parents are the only ones within driving distance now, we pretty much just spend every Christmas with them)

Tonight, we'll fix some snacks and watch A Christmas Story--you know the one where the mom keeps saying "You'll shoot your eye out!" It's a Christmas tradition. We'll finish the evening by doing our "Happy Birthday Jesus." We've done it since the boys were little. We have a little birthday cake for Jesus and we sing "Happy Birthday."

For all the things it has become, there are still lots of things I like about Christmas. One of my favorite things is to dig out the Jim Reeves - Twelve Songs of Christmas CD--it's a remaster of an old vinyl record my mom played the grooves off of back when I was a kid. My favorite song is entitled: C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s. On the original recorded (for some reason, it's omitted on the CD), the song starts out:

When I was but a youngster
Christmas meant one thing
That I'd be getting lots of toys that day
I learned a whole lot different
When mother sat me down
And taught me to spell Christmas this way...
Then the song goes like this:
C is for the Christ child, born upon this day
H is for herald angels in the night
R is our Redeemer
I means Israel
S is for the star that shown so bright
T is for three wise men, they who travelled far
M is for the manger where He lay
A is for all He stands for
S means shepherds came
...And that's why there's a Christmas day.

Yep, I like Christmas...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Trip to the Barber Shop

Every other week, I get up early on Saturday, drop by McD's, get a coffee, then head over to Dean's Barber Shop where Dean and his wife, Jean, have been cutting hair for over 30 years. Dean's not there anymore. Diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, Dean had to retire, but Jean keeps the shop open. It's one of those "old fashioned shops"--lots of hunting and fishing magazines laying around and the TV is most always on one of the cable news channels. A buzz cut like mine costs $8; the town news/gossip is free.

I noticed him as soon as I entered the barber shop this past weekend. He was probably my age, but he looked much older. His skin was rough and carved by the deep wrinkles. His eyes were sad, almost empty as he he sat slumped in the chair across from me. He really didn't need a haircut...mainly because he had very little to cut. His mostly bald head had a few wispy patches of hair that did very little to hide the scar that dominated the right side of his head.

I had pretty much figured out his situation, but I listened as he told Jean his story. A truck driver, he had just dropped off his load and was heading home when he was involved in an accident. Although the truck was totalled, he walked away, thankful that no one was injured. He returned home without seeing a doctor. Several days later, he noticed he was having trouble focusing; standing and walking had also become difficult. "You should have gone to the hospital (after the accident)," his wife told him. Unable to drive, she took him to the nearest emergency room.

They took x-rays and did a catscan among other tests. "We've found a large tumor," the doctor told him, "and there's an ambulance waiting for you outside." He was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery to remove the brain tumor. Sadly, once they began, they discovered the tumor was more involved than they first thought. Doctors were able to only remove 80 percent of the growth. "We've bought you some time," they told him...and sent him home.He sat in the barber shop and said,"This will be my last Christmas with my grandkids."

I know that we're all going to die some day, but this man has basically been given THE date. He said it so matter-of-factly; didn't flinch or bat an eye. Barring a miracle, his words will come true, maybe sooner than he thinks. I sat there and thought: "How would I live if I had been given that type of deadline? What would I do different? What would I continue to do the same."

I get pretty aggravated with things, especially this time of year--the materialism, the busyness, the pushing and shoving just to get the latest toy or electronic device, etc., After my vist to the barber shop...I figure my life--no matter what I may have to put up with--really ain't that bad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Take Your Political Correctness and...

I'm sick and tired of all this politically correct crapola surrounding how we address the holiday season many of us refer to as "Christmas." Oh, my! Someone might be offended if we use the "C" word. Tough!

I heard from someone the other day that their child's first grade "holiday concert" ended with the singing of We Wish You a Merry WINTER. oh, brother.

I've said it before, I'm saying it again: the First Amendment protects ALL free speech. It does NOT guarantee you protection from being offended! I may disagree with you; you may disagree with me. One of us may be offended. Get used to it.


C H R I S T M A S !

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not This Year!

Frozen Flowers

This is what things looked like this time last year. Man, I hope we NEVER have to go through that again. We were without power for five days; Dana's parents were without power for over two weeks! Just in case, I filled up the big gas can for the generator today. I'm praying that was a wasted trip.

Here are some more pictures from last year's ice storm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Inconsistency?

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said, "Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not yet one year old and I am pregnant again! I do not want kids so close together!"

"What do you want me to do?," asked the doctor.

"I want you to end my pregnancy." she said. "I am counting on your help with this." The doctor thought for a little while and after some silence, said to the woman, "I think I have a better solution." She smiled with a sense of guarded relief.

He continued: "In order for you to not have to care for two babies at the same time, perhaps we could terminate the one you have in your arms."

The woman was horrified. "Doctor! How horrible! Its a crime to kill a child!

"Oh, I do agree, " said the doctor, "but you seemed to be OK with it. I simply thought this would be the least risk to you."

(Thanks to Thinkerup for this one)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bailout?! You've Got to Be Kidding?!

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Ford Foundation has over $13 BILLION (that's with a "B") in assets. That's right boys and girls, the same group of auto execs that have their hands out are sitting on a pile of cash...but they expect you and I to help them out! Check out the WSJ story here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Many Christmases Ago...

We met the summer of 1977 (I may tell that story some other time)--actually we sort of already knew each other from high school, but had never spoken to each other. I met her parents for the first time that summer. Her father told her: "You will never date THAT!" Looking back, I can understand his sentiment/desire to protect his daughter from a very hairy, "hippy-looking" guy.

We didn't date for about six months, i.e. we weren't allowed to go anywhere alone, but her parents did allow me to come to their house. And so, for the next six months, we sat, watched TV, and sat. We were eventually allowed to go to the local Sonic and get something to drink, but we had to come right back to the house. Keep in mind now, I was in college and she was still in high school.

I went to school year-round, so I would come home on the weekends, spend most every moment at her house or follow her to the high school football games (she was a cheerleader), etc. We wrote to each other most every week, and talked on the phone when I had money for the pay phone (remember those?).

We talked about breaking up once...actually I was doing the talking, she did the crying. We didn't break up.

I graduated from college, started and shut down a graphic design/sign business with a buddy from school, then moved back to the town where we both grew up. I took a job with a sign company in Tulsa. She finished high school and took a job with an oil company in Tulsa, eventually becoming a systems administrator some years after we married, but I'm jumping ahead.

It was a Saturday, as I recall. We were going shopping for Levis for me; can't remember if she was looking for anytyhing in particular or not. The mall we were in also had a couple of jewelry stores and for whatever reason, we found ourselves in one of them...looking at wedding rings! By this time we had been dating a couple of years and her dad was over being REALLY mad about the situation and had settled on "resigned" at that point. We had talked about marriage, but really hadn't made any plans. There we were, two "kids" looking at wedding rings and both of us saying: "WOW! That's a lot of money!" I can't remember how long we were in the store, but when all was said and done, we had made a down payment on a wedding band for me and an engagement ring/wedding ring set for her...all three rings came to around $500. How in the world was I ever going to pay for that?!

We went home that day and honestly, I don't remember telling our parents about our purchase, but I'm sure we did. We didn't have a wedding date set or anything. Neither of us owned a home--in fact, we were both still living with our parents; but we had rings or at least the payment on rings for the time being.

By Christmas in 1979 I had made enough payments to get the engagement ring. I took it home, showed it my mom and then proceeded to wrap it. Now, I couldn't just wrap up the little box; she'd know what it was right away. So, I wrapped the ring box, put it inside a bigger box and wrapped it; put the bigger box inside a BIGGER box and wrapped it; then...put the BIGGER box inside a B I G G E R box. She'd never guess what I had gotten her.

I remember watching her open the present. She had no idea what was in that big box. Her family stood around and watched as she unwrapped and opened box after box until she got to the smallest one. By then, I could tell she was getting excited; so where her sisters. A little box that size could mean only one thing: WE'RE OFFICIALLY ENGAGED! She jumped up and down; there was a lot of squealing (that may have been me) and crying (I think that was her Dad).

In January, we purchased a 900 square foot house about a mile from her parent's home. I moved in and begin renovating it; she would come over evenings after work and we would paint and wallpaper what would become OUR home for the next 12 years. We were married on May 31, 1980.

NCA_12_SFBayWe live in a different town now; we have two boys--one in college, the other in Junior High, and a dog. She still wears the same engagement ring from 31 Christmases ago. I thought she was pretty then; I think she's pretty now. She says she hates to have her picture taken, but I do it anyway.

Merry Christmas, Sweetie! I love you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

50k Pair- 50 Days

This is a very worthy cause. DONATE!

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge