Late for Work

Posted on May 6, 2009. Filed under: Personal Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

I was late for work this morning with a new and unusual excuse. First, let me setup the scenario.

It’s a little stressful around the house right now. Last Tuesday we received nearly 10 inches of rain in about 5 hours. I woke up that morning to find an inch of water in the study. Fortunately, the floor isn’t completely level and the computer gear was on a tiny island. Unfortunately, the closet absorbed a lot of water and all the boxes on the floor. And we’re sure the walls have absorbed water and will have to be replaced.

There was eighteen inches of water in the garage. Shop vac, camping stove, other minor stuff was ruined, but the water was high enough to cover the floorboards of both cars.

So I’ve been talking to the insurance company a lot this week. Homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, townhome group insurance, and two separate auto insurance claims come into play. Last night, a remedial company drilled holes in the water and sprayed anit-mold chemicals and set up two noisy air dryers. The house is noisy and smells funny.

I dropped my car off last week to be repaired; my wife’s car is still pending because the rental car company only seems to make a car available for an hour before saying “oops, sorry, it’s rented already.” And I’m driving a smelly, beatup rental car that reinforces my believe that Enterprise Rent a Car supplies only trashy vehicles.

On top of that, I’m working 65 hours a week, trying to hit an important, expensive deadline.

So this morning, I’m up a little early. I’m going to de-stress and pick up a latte on the way to work and count it as my protein for the morning. And I chill, relaxing in the car, listening to AM 700 talk radio.

After a while, I glance at the clock. It’s 7:00 on the nose.

After a while longer, I glance at the clock. It’s still 7:00 on the nose.

And I realize it’s not 7:00am. It’s 700AM. What I thought was a digital clock was actually the radio station readout. It’s likely to be 700AM all morning.

And that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

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Alarming News

Posted on August 31, 2006. Filed under: Personal Stuff | Tags: , |

I did it again. It’s a recurring problem.

Some people have a problem with sleep-walking. I have a problem with sleep-adjusting-the-alarm-clock.

It mainfests itself between 3:00am and 5:00am usually. I’ll start randomly pushing buttons on the alarm clock. I might change the time, the volume, the radio station, whatever. And the reason I know I do this is sometimes I hit the “snooze” button which doubles as the “sleep” button and the radio goes off. That wakes me up, horrified, that I’m playing with the alarm clock in my sleep again.

The only way I could possibly make it worse is the way I did it yesterday. Before going to sleep, I told my wife I’d wake her up in the morning. Then, 40 minutes before it was time to get up, I woke myself up pushing the buttons on the alarm clock. Then I told my wife it was time to get up. As soon as I said “good morning,” I realized my error, but it was too late. I’d woken her 40 minutes too early.

Moving it across the room won’t help. Then I’d sleep-walk *and* sleep-fiddle.

Help me.

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Pandora

Posted on January 12, 2006. Filed under: Fun Stuff | Tags: , |

I use Launchcast by Yahoo to lisen to music. I’ve wanted to share this with others, but the Launchcast Plus service costs money. Finally I’ve found an alternative I can recommend.

Go to Pandora and enter a favorite artist or song, and they’ll build a custom internet radio station just for you.

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A Non-Christian Narna

Posted on December 13, 2005. Filed under: Faith, Movies and TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

People that hate Christians should not go see “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

The Guardian Unlimited, England’s ultra liberal rag, says “Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion.” Exceprts:

The Christian radio station Premier is urging churches to hold services on the theme of The Gospel According to Narnia. Even the Methodists have written a special Narnia-themed service. And a Kent parish is giving away £10,000 worth of film tickets to single-parent families. (Are the children of single mothers in special need of the word?)

I would say “yes.” I don’t know what the author has against single mothers, but apparently she’s opposed to them receiving Christian aid and encouragement in any form.

The president’s brother, Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, is organising a scheme for every child in his state to read the book. Walden Media, co-producer of the movie, offers a “17-week Narnia Bible study for children”. The owner of Walden Media is both a big Republican donor and a donor to the Florida governor’s book promotion – a neat synergy of politics, religion and product placement. It has aroused protests from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which complains that “a governmental endorsement of the book’s religious message is in violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution”.

That would certainly be hard to prove since the words “Christ” and “God” never appear in the movie in any form.

Disney may come to regret this alliance with Christians, at least on this side of the Atlantic. For all the enthusiasm of the churches, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ bombed in Britain and warehouses are stuffed with unsold DVDs of that stomach-churner. There are too few practising Christians in the empty pews of this most secular nation to pack cinemas. So there has been a queasy ambivalence about how to sell the Narnia film here.

If you were unsure of the author’s hatred of Christians, that should have cleared it right up for you.

Most British children will be utterly clueless about any message beyond the age-old mythic battle between good and evil. Most of the fairy story works as well as any Norse saga, pagan legend or modern fantasy, so only the minority who are familiar with Christian iconography will see Jesus in the lion. After all, 43% of people in Britain in a recent poll couldn’t say what Easter celebrated. Among the young – apart from those in faith schools – that number must be considerably higher. Ask art galleries: they now have to write the story of every religious painting on the label as people no longer know what “agony in the garden”, “deposition”, “transfiguration” or “ascension” mean. This may be regrettable cultural ignorance, but it means Aslan will stay just a lion to most movie-goers.

Explain to me again that if “Aslan will stay just a lion to most movie-goers” why the Americans United for Separation of Church and State are complaining? I find this sad, that the European young have lost touch with their faith and are no longer being taught by their parents.

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to?

Goodness. How repugnant. I wonder if the author feels free to insult all other religions, too, or if she’s reserved a special hatred for Christianity. The answer, by the way, is no, we did not ask Him to. God did it for us, unasked. It is a gift, it is grace.

There’s lots more hatred of Christians (and conservatives) aplenty if you’re interested:

  • So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion’s breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged. (The author doesn’t say what part of Edmund’s new behavior is repugnant.)
  • Philip Pullman – he of the marvellously secular trilogy His Dark Materials – has called Narnia “one of the most ugly, poisonous things I have ever read”.
  • Because here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America – that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right.
  • I once heard the famous preacher Norman Vincent Peale in New York expound a sermon that reassured his wealthy congregation that they were made rich by God because they deserved it. The godly will reap earthly reward because God is on the side of the strong. This appears to be CS Lewis’s view, too. In the battle at the end of the film, visually a great epic treat, the child crusaders are crowned kings and queens for no particular reason. Intellectually, the poor do not inherit Lewis’s earth. (The author has mistaken earthly riches for heavenly riches and so misses the point entirely – Michael.)

Children are supposed to fall in love with the hypnotic Aslan, though he is not a character: he is pure, raw, awesome power. He is an emblem for everything an atheist objects to in religion. His divine presence is a way to avoid humans taking responsibility for everything here and now on earth, where no one is watching, no one is guiding, no one is judging and there is no other place yet to come. Without an Aslan, there is no one here but ourselves to suffer for our sins, no one to redeem us but ourselves: we are obliged to settle our own disputes and do what we can. We need no holy guide books, only a very human moral compass. Everyone needs ghosts, spirits, marvels and poetic imaginings, but we can do well without an Aslan.

So ghosts and spirits are great, but not a faith in a redeeming savior. The author has preformed ideas about Christianity and uses those ideas to bash Christianity. Setup the strawman and knock it down. Do Christians use their faith to avoid taking responsibility, or do Christians feel their faith calls them to devote their lives to service in faith? There are thousands of Christian faith-based service organizations feeding the poor, helping the homeless, with millions of volunteers. That’s a far cry from the author’s portrayal of Christians.

And all of the Christian-bashing over a movie that never utters a scriptural word.

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A Simple Light

Posted on December 8, 2005. Filed under: General, Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Like you, I’ve noticed the days getting shorter – and not just the hours of daylight. The actual 24 hour cycle is getting shorter, as we hurtle from the calm eddy of our county’s brief experience of Autumn into what we call the Holiday Season.

It was only a few days ago when the trees were showing off. I noticed the chinaberry trees in bright yellow robes – startlingly bright – in yards all over town. And the cypress trees’ needles were just starting to rust. Then the winds blew one night and these splendors were dumped in halos on the ground around newly naked trunks – looking like discarded bathrobes – and it seemed Fall had fallen until I remembered we still have some maples showing and the red oaks have yet to blaze. The pecans and sycamores are littering the ground just now with bran-colored drifts. Still, the sight of millions of cypress needles dusting the river made me realize it was time to gird for the onslaught of the hardest season of the year.

Our old black mailbox groans daily with catalogs of delights – most beyond our means, and certainly all beyond our needs. We’ve been offered clothing (lots of clothing), fruit, travel, books, gadgets and whatnot, all presented in vibrant color, all with guaranteed delivery by Christmas, page after page of gifts. The stack of catalogs we’ve received this month alone is more than two feet tall.

I’ve seen, on my way home from work, delivery trucks parked in the dark, their headlights on, delivering gifts. This must be a tough time to be a driver for the parcel companies – and the volume will continue to grow, swelling like a crescendo, until the last few hours of Christmas Eve – as entire mountains of gifts pour from their tributaries right to our doorsteps.

In all of this haste, all of this shopping, all of this worrying about budgets and finding the right thing for that difficult-to-shop-for friend, amidst the travel and houses full of family, the grumpy uncles and the weepy aunts, it’s hard to remember this time of year offers some beautiful opportunities.

Churches will offer special musical presentations, opportunities for worship and service. Several local charities will be collecting gifts for the needy, and all of us will find appeals in our mailboxes from worthwhile groups. While many of the appeals ply on our sense of guilt (I’m thinking about the seemingly endless fundraising efforts of a San Antonio radio station), a precious few of the groups will offer a chance to share in the hope they bring to others. To those it is easy to give, and to give joyfully, if in secret.

Overhead I’ve noticed the moon dancing farther and farther away from bright Venus in the sky. A few weeks ago the moon, just a crescent, seemed close enough to the shining planet to touch it. As the gap between them grew, the moon grew fuller and fuller until it got so bright several friends complained it was interfering with their sleep. I guess the approaching holidays are like that – as the noise and spectacle of the holidays grows bigger and bigger, until it seems to occupy all the available space of our feeble attentions, it gets more distant from the simple single light that is the reason for the holiday in the first place.

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Cookie Grinches Aftermath

Posted on February 10, 2005. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , |

The cookie grinches still don’t get it.

I wrote about the problems facing Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Jo Zellitti here and how a radio station came to their aid here. According to an Associated Press story, the girls will pick up a check today from Denver radio station KOA to pay their legal costs.

Wanda and Herb Young are not pleased:

“We have got horrendous phone calls, tons of hate mail, threats to our life,” said Herb Young in a telephone interview Thursday.

Are the Youngs apologetic, repentant about dragging two teenage girls to court to pay their medical bills? Of course not; the Youngs blame the girls for not keeping their mouth shut about being sued in public court:

“It’s horrible, nobody has heard our side,” said Herb Young, adding the couple has had to hire a lawyer. “I don’t believe the girls meant for this to happen. But they could have prevented it from happening if they had just shut their mouths when they came out of (small claims) court. Now they are caught in something they can’t control.”

The Youngs say they enlisted clergy to help settle the dispute before dragging the girls to court, something I find difficult to believe. The girls say they offered to pay the medical expenses, which the Youngs refused, then sued and simply got the medical expenses anyway.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for Herb and Wanita Young:

  1. Find new clergy, the kind that tell you to forgive and forget. What kind of church advised you to sue two teenage girls trying to give you a cookie?
  2. If you felt strongly that the girls should pay the medical expenses, you should have accepted their settlement offer instead of trying to sue for more.
  3. Ever hear of “picking on somebody your own size?” You’re not gaining any national sympathy because you sued two teenage girls delivering cookies decorated with a big pink heart.
  4. The girls are not “caught in something they can’t control.” You are. The girls are being rewarded for their kindness.
  5. When you say, “But they could have prevented it from happening if they had just shut their mouths when they came out of (small claims) court,” you’re not going to win any brownie points, either. You sued them in public court, available for the public to see. You could have prevented it by accepting their kind offer to repay your medical expenses, something most people don’t feel the girls are responsible for.
  6. Calling one of the girls’ father and threatening that the gloves are coming off ain’t gonna win you any points, either. That’s why there is a restraining order against you.
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Cookie Girls Rescued

Posted on February 8, 2005. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , |

The dastardly cookie girls I wrote about last week have been rescued by a radio station:

Radio station KOA-AM of Denver raised more than $1,900 from listeners Friday to pay the girls’ $930.78 fine. The rest of the money will go to a charity dedicated to victims of the Columbine High School massacre.

Meanwhile, Richard Ostergaard, father of Taylor, got a restraining order against Young’s husband, Herb, in county court, claiming he continues to make harassing telephone calls to the Ostergaard residence.

Wanita Young said, “This has turned into quite a fiasco. It’s something that never should have happened and it’s just devastating. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing. My life has been threatened and I’ll probably have to move out of town.”

While it’s regrettable that her life has been threatened, I suspect she’ll be hard-pressed to find a town that doesn’t have some cookie-totin’ girly do-gooder in it somewhere.

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