11/29/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER NINETEEN

Tip of the Day:


Prunes in the morning wipe a sour expression off of any face later in the day.

CRACKED RIBS?

I guess I have to admit it now. Last week, when I returned from my hunting trip, I jokingly made reference to the fact that you could get hurt falling twelve feet from a ladder.

It's true, you can. It happened to me. I had hoped by now I would feel better, but it is becoming clear that this process is going to be a slow one.

I bet you might be wondering what I injured? I'll make no secret of it anymore. I thought I had merely bruised my ribs when I fell, and expected a full recovery from that in a week. Well, it's been a week, and the recovery isn't happening. I am as sore in my ribs this morning as I was the day after I fell. What's more, there is an area that seems to be rather dented in on my ribs near the sternum. It is extremely painful to the touch and causes some pain during the day when I move and breath.

I am assuming that I have cracked ribs (rib as in singular?) and nothing more, because although there is an indentation and much pain, there is no displacement that I can feel. There is nothing medically to be done for cracked ribs as far as I know. I'll check Web MD just to make sure, but I have a feeling this is just going to take some more time.

If you are willing, maybe we could make this fun. We all have "home remedies" and "old wives' tales" we share that may or may not actually help injuries. If you have one, please share it here. If you do, I promise to do my best to try that remedy out (no matter how ridiculous it sounds), if not for healing then just for kicks.

Thank you.

11/28/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER EIGHTEEN

Tip of the day:

It's possible that "blind dating" does not mean you spend the entire date with your eyes closed.

WALKING WITH JUST A TEE SHIRT

I saw two young children yesterday walking home from somewhere, as it was getting dark. I almost didn't see them; they were dressed in dark clothes, and walking along the side of a fairly busy county highway in Two Rivers, WI. I was on my way to pick up my daughter from piano and voice lessons.

I was struck immediately by several thoughts. The first was, "Boy, they were hard to see. Don't they know to wear light clothes when walking outside in the dark?" But I also noticed that one of the boys was wearing only a tee shirt under his backpack. At this time of year, that is not very advisable. Yesterday, it was around forty degrees F. outside, and windy. There was also a dampness in the air.

The second-last thought that occured to me was that I should offer these two children a ride. Can you guess what the last thought was?

If you guessed that I didn't offer them a ride because I was worried that it might look as if I was a child predator by merely offering them a safe way home, then you are right on the mark. And rightly so, if these children have been taught by their parents, they would have refused such an offer. I myself have coached my daughter to do the same thing. After all, you just never know who is offering you a ride.

Isn't that a sad remark on our way of life?

I can't even offer a ride to two children who are walking on a country rode, one of them clearly not dressed for the weather? In fact, I don't even bother to ask, because I believe they know better than to accept a ride from a stranger? And this is right?

If this is right, then it is a very sad remark on our society indeed.

When does it become acceptable again to offer the ride, and for the children to accept? Do we have to wait until they are freezing? Does the temperature have to dip below zero with a windchill of minus twenty degrees F? At what point, in other words, is it again right to do what I consider to be the right thing to begin with?

There are very, scary creatures within our society; I know this. We have had our own evil perpetrated within ten miles of my house in the last year; a case that made national news.

But is this the mark we leave from our generation; that it's no longer acceptable to offer a friendly gesture, even a parental gesture, to children who don't even know enough to dress in light colors if they will be walking outside after dark?

My heart mourns for such a world, yet my mind has already been brainwashed into believing that things must be this way, because you just never know.

We are no longer a neighborhood nation. We are no longer a completely safe place to live, at least not for children.

I am ashamed that I didn't stop and ask; and yet I sit here as I type this, and I wonder; what else can I have done? Do you know? Is there any answer to this?

11/27/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER SEVENTEEN

Tip of the day:

Throwing a can of spray paint onto a roaring bonfire may be hazardous to your health.

Of course, sniffing the can of paint can be just as harmful, and it isn't nearly as much fun as watching one explode. (from a safe distance)

11/26/2006

IT STARTS AT HOME

Did you ever have the feeling that there was something you wanted to do, something big, but you had no idea what it was?

Okay, maybe you had ideas, but all of them were vague and undirected?

That's me, right now. I can't put my finger on it, although I think it has something to do with serving and helping government get the house in order. That's somewhat strange, yet fitting, because at this moment in my life, I am getting my own house in order. I guess if you want to serve others, and in this case, if you are going to be a part of some solution (whatever that may be), it's best to practice in your own house first.

Six and a half years ago, my wife left me for another man. Later the following year, after deciding to file for divorce, she also decided to file for bankruptcy, but not before she had spent the prior year abandoning the financial commitments that a husband and wife seem to accumulate over the years. I was left with every conceivable bill, gathered during a ten year marriage, utilizing two incomes to stay current. Obviously, I couldn't stay current, less one income and still with the same amounts to pay each and every month.

My attorney advised me to file for bankruptcy with my soon-to-be-former wife jointly, before the divorce was finalized. Otherwise, many of our creditors may have seized an opportunity to come after me had we allowed my former wife to file after the divorce. I am still not certain how that could have been possible, that a divorce settlement split right down the middle could turn into a divorce settlement that meant I still owed for every debt my former wife reneged on.

The day my wife left me was the hardest, longest day of my life. The day I had to sign for the bankruptcy settlement was the second, hardest, longest day of my life. I looked at myself as a failure; as someone who should have been able to make everything work, but somehow couldn't. It seemed as if the bankruptcy was the exclamation point on my failed marriage, as if someone were saying to me, "Bankrupt! That's what your marriage was from day one, and that's what you are now!"

It is almost five years since the morning I spent in the courthouse signing bankruptcy papers and nodding my head as I listened to the judge grant our petition. Inside I was dying, ashamed, alone. Outwardly I simply nodded, as if to say, "Yup. I deserve this."

I am a long way from those days, and quite a few bumps in the road have occured since. Last year, I had to buy a different truck, using a car loan I obtained at twenty-eight percent interest. Truly, the options available to someone with horrendous credit records are not favorable to a comeback, but comeback I have. Today, that loan is eighteen months old, and I am a mere six months from completing the terms of that loan, over a year early. When I received the money to buy that truck, I vowed to myself that there was only one way to beat a high interest loan; and that was to never give the bank a chance to collect on most of that interest by paying more and more towards the principal balance each month until the balance became too small for the high interest rate to have much of an effect. I am sure the bank was salivating over lending money at twenty-eight percent interest rates, seeing in me a man who was maybe so grateful to receive the money that he would never dream of defaulting. In that same man, they saw a person who probably couldn't afford the only way to beat a high interest loan. They were wrong. It was hard work, and hard to stay disciplined. But the goal was worth it.

Now I am trying to buy my house back. That, too, was lost in the divorce through foreclosure. But a strange thing happened on the way to moving out of the house. The fellow who bought my house stopped by one day and asked if I would like to stay here, to rent it from him. It took me about five seconds to say, "Yes! Thank you!" I had been dreading moving everything by myself; it was so daunting I actually told my best friend that I couldn't see beyond today, I couldn't see my way through it all.

You can imagine the types of loans I am being offered right now. Interest rates are high, and they are all ARM's. That's okay. I know the secret to ARM's; it's the same way I'll deal with every other greedy, money marketing banker. I will never give them a chance to collect on that type of interest. They may have a small profit for a few years, but once my credit rating is returned to where it belongs, I will obtain a new loan with a more favorable rate, and say goodbye to the high interest ARM with the balloon payment. During the time I have that loan, I will be paying extra money towards the principal balance, offsetting as much of the effect of the interest rate as possible.

So I am getting my house back, hopefully. I am getting my house in order. I don't know for certain what my other plans are, but I know that there is more I can be doing, and I feel as if I should be serving in some public venue. I am a citizen of a free country. I feel the desire to serve. Maybe I will learn much more in this process of setting my own house in order, maybe I will learn things that can be applied to a much bigger, more complex house.

I am a fairly straightforward man. I see many things in black and white, although I admit that when it comes to people and issues of the heart and soul, grey has become predominant most of the time. But I maintain that there is only one way to serve your town or county or state or country; humbly and with gratitude for the opportunity. That leaves no room for skulduggery or for backhanded politics. Whatever I decide on, be it volunteer work, or possibly elected work, I will apply many of the life lessons I have learned through the hard times of my life.

The biggest of those lessons? I give it to you free of charge; You are never without a hope in the world, and from every valley bottom, you can see the peaks that you are trying to reach. So long as the peaks are in sight, you can find a way to get to them.

I guess I am just fed up enough with the current political climate in our local and national government to try and do something about it in my own small way.

You know what they always say; it starts at home.

11/25/2006

SOMETIMES A QUIZ CAN BE FUN

Oh go ahead, take the quiz!! I did. Let's see your results in the comments section if you are willing.






What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Northeast
The Midland
Philadelphia
The South
North Central
The West
Boston
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER SIXTEEN

Tip of the Day:

I don't recommend stapling your fingers shut if all you are trying to do is prove a point.

However, if there is some other, nobler purpose, then by all means.....

11/24/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER FIFTEEN

Tip of the day:


It is inadvisable to challenge a full grown Polar Bear to a wrestling match.

Unless you have home field advantage.

11/23/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER FOURTEEN

Tip of the day:

Owning a cell phone does not NECESSARILY make you cool.

It's only when you talk really, really loudly on your cell phone in Walmart so that everyone in the store knows you are talking on your cellphone that makes you cool.

Try to remember that.

11/22/2006

SALEM WITCH HUNTERS

I left this comment over at a friends blog, and I wondered if it was too harsh. But the truth is, I don't wonder all that much. Maybe I am becoming jaded, or maybe I am becoming myself. Maybe I am becoming that person who isn't afraid to speak his mind, and the person who doesn't care what everyone else thinks. I assure you, I think these thing anyway; why not just say them, and leave the chips fall where they may? Are you going to hate me for it?

Honestly, most of the time, I don't care. You can reem me out for these words, and I won't reem back. You are who you are, and we all need space to be just who we are. How else is this world going to be a better place to live than it was yesterday?



T"e truth is, just being ourselves in this world is a mountain of pain no matter who you are or what you think yourself to be. One thousand years from now, when people no longer believe in God, we'll see the same pain and hardship from people finally learning how to accept themselves for who and what they are. Our friend was fortunate enough to come to that point before death. So many don't. I applause him for that, but I don't applause him for killing his God to do it. The fact is, any of us can live in this world, be ourselves, and not let ourselves be controlled by something that never was. Image control runs rampant in this world. That's not a disease that only Christians can claim. Everyone I have met is knee deep in that disease, no matter what their beliefs.

Maybe this comment has been too hard, or too honest. But if you spend some time talking with people who don't believe in God, you'll find that their marriage to the image they portray is no different than any religious folk you've met.

You can spend your life blaming a group, or walking in denial, it's your choice. But the sooner we accept that EVERYBODY has issues they want to hide, the sooner we'll get off our high horse...the sooner we'll stop judging like a bunch of Salem witch hunters. "

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER THIRTEEN

Tip of the day.

Never, ever, lean a sixteen foot ladder against a beam that is worn to the point of breaking. I learned the hard way on Monday, and fell about twelve feet.

Did you know it's possible to get injured falling from that height? Who woulda thunk?

11/17/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER TWELVE

Tip of the day:

If you are going to hunt deer during the gun hunt season, it's a good idea to bring along a gun.

I am off to the North Woods of Wisconsin for five glorious days of peace and Bambi bloodshed. I will be back on Wednesday, the 23rd.

I invite you all to leave your own tip of the day each day in the comments section, so we can make certain that all this good advice keeps flowing. The world is counting on you.

11/16/2006

TIP OF THE DAY N UMBER ELEVEN

Tip of the day:

If beer is the nectar of the gods, and I drink beer........

11/15/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER TEN

Walk loudly and carry a small stick.

After all, carrying a big stick gets tiring. It's much easier to do a lot of shouting than to do all that manual labor.

I recommend shouting whenever you get the opportunity. It makes a good impression on whomever you are shouting at.

And if you can't make a big impression, at least you'll have made a dashing attempt at breaking their eardrums...so it wasn't really a total waste of breath after all.

11/14/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER NINE

Tip of the day:


Strapping a bundle of dynamite to your back so you can be "jet" propelled on roller skates like Wyl E. Coyote when he chases the Roadrunner doesn't really work.


Therefore, I don't recommend it.

11/13/2006

LEARNING TO LIVE IN A NEW HOUSE

One of the first things I noticed about my life when I began to realize the loss of fear that comes through Christ was the way my perspectives were changing. This is a process that could have gone unnoticed. It's such a simple thing really; how do I see other people?

That question used to be easy. Other people weren't me, and therefore, they, while being people, were subject to judgment on all the things I deemed necessary. This should begin to tell you something about what I thought of other people, but almost as importantly, what I thought of myself.

At first glance, my vast judgment of other people might lead one to believe I was outwardly judgmental, yet inwardly self-praising. That, however, was not my experience of it. My arrogance was not based on anything I could be proud of achieving; I used it more like a defense mechanism, to protect myself from what I really thought of myself.

Strange, isn't it?

Would you believe I was even more judgmental of myself than I was of others? That was part of my slavery; slavery to performance and slavery to self. The judging of others was merely an outworking of what I was doing to myself on the inside.

But as fear departed, as the sense of failure faded, I began to see a development in compassion towards others. When I use the word compassion, I am trying to define that trait within me that makes me similar, or bonded to, other people. We share comparable experience and comparable emotions. We are comrades in commonality.

As that sense of compassion grew, the need to judge others waned. Maybe you can understand what was happening within me. I was being remade. I was becoming a person who could come to terms with my mistakes. I was learning to un-dwell on the failures of my past, failures I had analyzed into vapors.

I was literally learning to live in a new house.

Tell me today that you are gay, or that you are a drug user or a porn addict, and instead of the past frothing from my lips, you might instead find me leaning my ear toward you as I listen to what you are living. It's not so easy to judge (although I am still capable of doing it) when you realize that you aren't judged. Things just don't seem to be so evil anymore.

I guess I can't really explain what it means to be free enough to accept failure within me. Those who knew me in the past may not have known that I struggled in beating myself up for my failures, because I am not sure I ever let too many people know that. It just wasn't part of the image I wanted to portray.

But now, I don't really care who knows how hard I was on myself for failures and lack of success. The truth is, none of it matters. I am free enough to succeed, and living in this new house, I know it won't crumble if I happen to install a brick that disintegrates.

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER EIGHT

Tip of the day:

It is considered bad etiquette to bend over and moon a charging grizzly bear.

11/12/2006

THIS IS AN AMAZING POST

You have got to head over to Bruce's blog to read this. It's called Religion Will Rob You of Your Life. It's simply amazing!

FREE ENOUGH TO BE ME

How do you become someone you never were to begin with?

When I walk into a church on a Sunday morning, one of the things I notice is that everyone is smiling, and everyone is dressed really nice. Everyone except for me.

I have the smiling part down, because I am naturally upbeat; I mean, I wake up that way, so it isn't hard for me to be smiling at just about any moment you will meet me. But if I walk into a church, I do so wearing some old sweatshirt, a baseball cap, and blue jeans, the very same type I work in.

But not everyone is upbeat, and as I stroll through the church, I begin to be bothered by the idea that someone here, possibly many someones, are faking it. This doesn't only happen in a church. It happens everywhere you go.

Everyone I meet is busy, and happy. They are so busy that they haven't had time to stay in touch with their friends, friends, they would admit, who make their lives more enjoyable. Did you catch the contradiction there?

If I am so busy that I don't have time to stay in touch with my friends, outside of my natural upbeat outlook, I am not going to remain "happy" for very long. If I am so busy that I am living without fulfilling a natural need; that of connecting with family and friends regularly, then it could seem impossible for me to remain happy for very long.

Recently, I had to stay away from this blog, for the most part, because I was sick, and so busy that at the end of the day, I was too tired to make connections with people who had come to mean a great deal to me. Although my demeanor was upbeat, inside, I was sinking. Worse than that, I found myself faking it.

I didn't like that one bit. I felt empty, because instead of filling up on life as it happens, I tried to create a mental picture of happiness despite bad circumstances that I couldn't uphold for very long. I had a choice. I could try to keep up the smile, and force myself to quiet the voice inside which was screaming for connection. Or, I could make changes.

Do you know how easy it seems to just maintain the status quo? I am not kidding you when I tell you that to just keep going without connecting with my friends, to keep working and keep busy and keep being too tired to write here seemed like the simplest answer. But that also meant that I would have to keep faking it, and there is something in my nature that just rebels against faking things. I can pull it off if I stay persistent, but the more I pull it off, the more rebellious I become inside; the more I desire reality. There becomes an urge to scream at the top of my lungs at the next person who asks me how I am doing, "I'm doing shitty! I don't like life right now! I'm not who I thought I was, I feel disconnected, and I don't even care that you don't have time to listen to me rave!"

In essence, I am screaming both to give attention to someone else, and receive likewise. Connectedness. This nation screams for it; the Internets success is the result of it. Without it, we fake it. Yet even on Sundays, when people "go to church", they feel the need to fake it. Instead of being real, instead of allowing themselves to be themselves, they put their makeup on and become someone they are not.

It seems easy to maintain this, it seems like the best plan, the only plan, because changing it means doing things in a way most of us never have. It means being the real me, who admittedly is very upbeat, but who gets sidetracked at times when life seems to be a hurricane of events, all of them outside of my control. It means letting loose emotionally, which is something that people are taught not to do from a very early age, especially in "church". In "church", it's time to smile and act as though the Lord has blessed you greatly. In "church", it's time to be someone you are not. Sadly, that someone we are not gets carried into daily life, and we drag him to the store, the gas station, the movies, the bar, to events and parties and every other moment we live.

There is what I would call a phenomenon taking place in America in this age. I have observed it and am shocked at its prevalence.

Did you know that over fifty percent of all adult Americans are, or have been under prescription for anxiety or depression related illness at some time in their life? I am one of the lucky ones; I have never been under that sort of prescription. Maybe this means the field of medicine has learned something about people's well-being, and the drug prescriptions are merely a way of providing a more fulfilling, normal life. I think for a few people, these prescriptions are absolutely necessary, but for the vast majority of people under these prescriptions, my observation is that they are an escape from reality; a way to trick the mind into believing that everything is okay, especially when everything is not okay. I think the drugs are a mask, or provide the means to make the masks we wear seem better somehow, more like reality.

You see, a person can't fake it for very long before his nature begins to rebel against the act he is putting on. One can carry on this deception forever, but not without grave consequences to the inner man. One can fool his friends, one can wow his contemporaries with his supposed wealth and success, and generate envy through making one's life seem better than everyone else's. Isn't that the kicker, to make things seem better, in some cases far better, than what they really are? To make our lives look attractive, so that others will believe we have it all together, that we have become what we dreamed we would when we were young? Because to admit failure, to admit that when we were young, we never dreamed of having three mortgages and two jobs, we never dreamed we would be so miserable, so lonely, so forgotten. We never once thought that life could be so hard, that our plans wouldn't work out the way we thought.

So we create the lie, that everything is okay, that we are happy, and that life is better than we imagined it could be as a child. We wear this mask because that is what is expected of us. Every so often, a few of us are fortunate enough to find just one or two people with whom we can confide the truth in. I have that one person, but so many people I know do not. For those people, the mask becomes the reality, even though the mask is nothing more than a well-written lie.

At some point, wearing that mask for so long is going to exact a price on our mental well-being. Medicine has the answer; give them a drug that will help them fake it. Many doctors prescribe these drugs without ever demanding that their patient receive psychological help. And if they do get psychological help, many of these patients are treated by people who themselves wear masks. There's not much help and advice being received from someone who doesn't know how to live with themselves to begin with. The cycle becomes more vicious.

The patients are told that there has to be a reason, or maybe a few reasons why they are so unhappy. They are told to recall memories that might have caused this depression, or this anxiety. In truth, some people do have memories that cause depression and anxiety. But over fifty percent of all adults? I doubt it.

I think the mask is to blame. I don't think that mask is created in church; it's just that church is where people polish it specially to make it look its best. I think that mask is created from everything we learn and observe in our society. If church is part of your society, then church is partly to blame.

The mask is slavery. It is slavery to an image we cannot achieve. We control our emotions, and hide our feelings, and sooner or later, the mask takes over...on the outside. Meanwhile, the inside, the inner man is dying, screaming for release and celebration. The inner man is crying for someone to care enough so that we can take off this mask and be real. Most of all, the inner man is crying for us to have the courage to be ourselves so we don't have to fake it anymore.

Why do we fake it? Because we are afraid that the real me isn't acceptable, isn't lovable, and most of all, isn't even likable. Paxil will help you feel that you are; so will Xanax. But those two drugs only create another mask, effectively hiding the real you, possibly forever.

Would you like to know the real you? Would you like to see that the real you is lovable, AND likable? Would you like to live without fear of judgment and doubt in yourself because things didn't work out the way you planned as a child? Would you like to stop looking for ways to escape a reality that just hurts too much?

I'll bet you thought I was going to say the answer is Jesus. He's not the answer, though. He provided the way to the answer, showed us how to get to where He was going, but He's not a drug that fixes masks that we have worn all of our lives. He is the Way. And I will tell you this: in my life, Jesus provided the door to the real me. After He made it clear that God is not angry with us, that each of us is acceptable just as we are, things began to clear up a bit. But to believe that God was still angry at those who didn't believe caused a desire for all sorts of mask making in me. I had to show everybody I believed, so much in fear was I over being one of those who didn't believe enough. I created a mask, and sometimes, I still wear it.

But once I realized that the fear of hell was gone, that God is not an angry, condemning God at all, the reasons I had for wearing my mask disappeared one by one. And if everyone were redeemed, if even the worst of all sinners for all time was redeemed to my Father, then what need was there anymore for fear in me? What need, literally, was there to wear a mask?

We wear masks to hide things; to hide our identity, to hide what we really look like, and to hide what we are ashamed of. But when there is no condemnation forthcoming, what need have I of shame any longer?

Once I realized how total the love of God is, I realized that freedom was within my grasp. Once I realized that God was not partial to anyone, but a lover of everyone, I realized that my mask had been hiding the real me all of my life. I had been trying to hide the real me not only from myself and others, but from God, as if He could be fooled. Upon the realization of His total love for all of us, even me, I began my life as a free man.

Jesus isn't the drug that's going to cure you. He is the way to freedom. He is just some person on the pages of a big, big book, but He is real when we realize that here was a man who never had to worry about what others thought of Him, and he especially never had to fear what His Father thought of Him. He knew the truth, and the truth sets us free.

The lie is that hell is real, that God is so petty that at some point, He just can't take us anymore, and none of us really knows when that is. The lie is that God is so small that the slightest mistake in our life angers Him. The lie is that He is only pleased when we are behaving, as if God sits on a yo yo string that is attached to our actions. The lie is that God requires us to believe in order for us to be redeemed.

I must tell you this; if my redemption rests on my faith, then I will burn in hell, because I don't have any faith. Sure, there are moments filled with the realization of how much God loves me, and how I know Jesus to be my friend and savior. But most of my time is spent doubting these days, and for those of you who know me, you also know that I have just removed a mask in saying that. Are you surprised?

There may come a day when I have a chemical imbalance, and the need for drugs to regain some balance within will be met. There is nothing wrong, so far as I can see, with curing medical conditions. But by and large, drugs like Paxil and Xanax only paint a thicker mask. If people only realized that there is now nothing to fear, and no reason to hide, I think most of the reasons for Paxil would disappear. I think every reason for us to wear masks would evaporate. I think for all of us, most our lives would be spent being just who we are, rather than trying to be someone we are not.

11/11/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER SEVEN

Tip of the day:


Although lighting a single branch of a pine tree on fire can be an awesomely spectacular thing, you probably shouldn't do it while in the midst of a forest of pine trees. I don't know why. I just thought I'd say that.

It sounds pretty good, though, doesn't it?

11/09/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER SIX

Tip of the day:


Do you know how when you stick your fingers into a moving fan belt on an automobile, oftentimes when you pull your fingers out, you're missing a couple?




Yeah...don't do that.

11/08/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER FIVE

Tip of the day:

Working blindfolded with a tablesaw may be hazardous to your health.

Talk amongst yourselves.

11/07/2006

THE ANCIENTS REVISITED

As my two readers already know, I have been working on remodeling an old hospital into a nursing home as well as an assisted living facility. The project is at a stage now where parts of the building are being occupied, and about twelve of the Assisted Living apartments are being lived in.

This means I get to see some of the tenants every day. I can't tell you how pleased I am about all of this. It's one thing to build something, and see people enjoy it. That part of my job is unique from many other jobs in that what I build is actually lived in and enjoyed for many years by people of all ages. But this project will be lived in and enjoyed by my favorite age group; the ancients. And that makes it even more special to me.

Not only that, but because we still have four or so months left until completion, I will be seeing many of these people on a daily basis. I already know several of them on a first name basis. People like Earl, who worked hard all of his life in a factory, saved his money and earned a good pension, and who has decided to rent the most expensive unit available at this point; not because he NEEDS the most expensive unit, only because he can. He feels comfortable with his late wealth, and he wants to splurge on himself a bit. You would be hard pressed to argue against his self-pampering if you knew him as I do. He is truly a wonderful ancient to be around, instantly accommodating and very hospitable.

Irene moved in several weeks ago. It was touch and go for Irene for a few weeks, but today, she is up and at 'em once again. Irene could have gone anywhere. She could have rented a floor of a Hilton Hotel, complete with nurse, had she so desired. But she chose Northland Lodge (the name of the place I am remodeling) because her daughter-in-law is the administrator of the nursing home, and Irene wanted to spend more time with her. Isn't that amazing?

Edith has a hard time seeing. She has Menacular degeneration in both eyes, and is all but blind as she wanders the halls. But she is trusting and friendly. If she gets lost, there is always someone around to help her find her way. The cutest thing about Edith is that when she is offered help, she takes the person's arm, holds onto it, and allows herself to be guided wherever she intended to go. I was honored to have Edith take my arm just last week, and we talked and talked as we found the place she had originally set out for. Imagine that! A carpenter getting to escort an sweet lady like Edith just because he happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Now I know there are many people who shy away from the ancients, for various reasons. For some, it might be too uncomfortable to be around age. For others, it's a lack of self-confidence, or something else entirely.

If you are someone who shies away from the ancients, don't be ashamed of it; you aren't alone. Maybe your view of them is skewed because of a bad experience, or maybe you just don't understand where they are coming from. Whatever the case may be, there is always hope. I would recommend everyone visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities, or simply visiting Amelia who might live just down the road. You see, it's not so hard, once you realize that they are you twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years from now. And you are them, fifty, forty, thirty, or twenty years ago.

This world really is a small place, and people really are very much alike, even twenty-year-olds and eighty-five year olds have many things in common. But the one thing you can almost always get from an ancient is time. Our young friends are often simply too busy to be found. But the ancients, they are too wise to be too busy, and too smart to care that they aren't. They will almost always make time for you.

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER FOUR

Tip of the day:

If you are allergic to nuts, you probably shouldn't eat them.

Any questions?

11/06/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER THREE


Never...ever...touch the red button.








Why did you try to touch the red button?

Please explain yourself in the comments section.

11/05/2006

GOD, THE FRIENDLY SPIRIT

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Parakletos); that He will be with you forever." John 14:16

Have you ever felt discouraged, at a breaking point, or ready to just give up? I have many times, and it is at these times that I need encouragement.

Parakaleo, or, "to encourage", is a Greek word used in many places within the New Testament. It is broken down into several different definitions, the two most common being "urge" and "encourage". As you see in the verse above, I took the liberty to insert the Greek word for the Holy Spirit, Parakletos.

There are many different interpretations of this word Parakletos, but the one I find that best suits it is encourager, or urger. After all, you don't find parakaleo being used in the context of "counseling" even once anywhere in the New Testament. It just isn't there, yet modern interpretations of the word Parakletos most often attribute "Counselor" as the meaning.

Using the context in which Jesus was speaking to His disciples, I find His use of the word Parakletos to be very significant. After all, He was telling them He was leaving them for a short while, and they were in need of comfort and encouragement. Thus, the name for the Spirit of God which we know today was born; Parakletos, or, encourager.

That doesn't sound real close to "Angry God", or "Judgmental God", does it? In fact, it actually sounds like "friendly God", as in, Casper the friendly Ghost, or God, the friendly, Holy, Spirit.

Let's just drop the word "holy" for now, because we all know that God is holy. Besides, the way many Christians use the word "holy", it tends to sound awful unfriendly, and Jesus was implicit in His meaning; The Spirit is friendly and encouraging.

There was a time in my past, when all alone, with a gun at my side and a letter written, the only encouragement I was going to find was an end; or at least I thought. But from nowhere, encouragement came, and I lived. There was no one around to help me, no man, woman, or child. There was no priest, pastor, or elder; heck, the radio and TV weren't even on. How do you explain being suddenly encouraged to go on when there is no external source encouraging you?

Take a look at the first part of Parakletos. The Greek word para means "from" or "among, or "with". The friendly Spirit is so friendly, He lives with us, and is a voice encouraging us, within us. That agrees with my experience of all the times I have been encouraged without any external means of encouragement nearby.

I wonder...has it ever happened for you?

God, The Father...The Friendly Spirit. The encourager. He is sounding more and more like someone who wouldn't know anything at all about a hell as described by Christians. But if you need a friend, if you need encouragement, then God is your man. The Parakletos, the Friendly Spirit, is with us now, and with us forever, all of us; even if you say you don't believe.

11/04/2006

TIP OF THE DAY NUMBER TWO

Tip of the day

Always wait one half hour after eating before swimming...or something like that.

However, if you are on a boat that is sinking and you've just finished lunch only minutes ago, you are going to have to swim despite this excellent advice.

11/03/2006

GROSS TOESTIES

Do you remember the cereal Post Toasties? I believe they were something similar to Kellogg's Corn Flakes, only they were the Post brand of Corn Flakes. While driving home from Subway last night, my daughter and I began a tangent from a circular conversation that wound up spawning the idea for a new cereal. Our tangent also spawned about five solid minutes of laughter.

The conversation started while we were still inside of a Subway restaurant, awaiting our order. I placed an order for the new Blackened Steak Sub sandwich, while Ally ordered her turkey and whatever-else-she-wants-on-it-at the-moment sandwich. The server asked me if I would like my sub toasted, to which I answered, "yes".

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my daughter look towards my sandwich as it was being prepared, and make a face. It wasn't the kind of face you would even notice if you didn't know Ally well, but being her father, I have an insider's track into all of her faces and expressions, and this one shouted "eeeyeeww!" to me louder than if she had actually said it. To her credit, she held her tongue for the most part while we were inside of Subway. As we walked out the door, she mentioned that "Your sandwich is a gross toasty one".

I don't know why my mind works the way it does, but the words "gross toasty" reminded me of Post Toasties, which of course rhymes, which is possibly why the words "gross toasty" morphed into Gross Toasties during the time it took to walk out the Subway door to the point where I opened my truck door.

As soon as we were inside of my truck, I blurted out, "Eeyew! Gross Toasties!" Ally laughed, and from there, we were off to the tangent races. At some point, I told Ally about Post Toasties; what they were, and how her words "Gross toasty" reminded me of them. Then I mentioned that we could make a new cereal, called Gross Toasties, to which she gave her best "eeyew!" face yet. If you have never seen the face of a fourteen year old girl as she thinks "Eeyew!", rent one, and say something gross. I promise you, it will be the only moment you will ever see a fourteen year old girl not care what she looks like. The look is simply hilarious, almost as hilarious as the "My Daddy is an idiot" face, which is practiced by every fourteen year old girl because they want it to look just right.

You can imagine our conversation from that point on. Somehow, Gross Toasties became Gross Toes-ties, a cereal shaped like big toes, which incorporated a play on the word "gross", using the German definition for that word, meaning "big" or "large".

As we drove onward, the cereal began to take on even greater (or grosser) definition, changing from "gross" meaning big to "gross" meaning...well...gross, disgusting. Take your pick, the toes can be either gross or big; I'm not fussed over which language or meaning of the word "gross" we use. The implications are the same. Imagine a bowl filled with milk and crunchy corn flour and oat kibbles that look like big toes.

Imagine further if you will, and as we did while we were headed home, that these kibbles shaped like big toes also smell like feet, and are detailed to the point where toe nails are visible, and there is green and black in the place where the toe nail resides. The toe itself would be alternating tan or brown colored.

For a scrumptious addition using marshmallows colored like your favorite dirty socks, we introduced toe jam into the mix. Gross Toesties is not only healthy, but also tasty.

Of course any new cereal is going to require an aggressive advertising campaign, and for our initial commercials, we chose to use a British actor with a cockney accent, standing in front of a pyramid of Gross Toesties cereal boxes with children climbing all over him to get at the display. The actor stands silently for twenty seconds as the camera pans from the children to the pyramid, settling on a closeup of one cereal box, displaying a bowl of Gross Toesties flooded with milk, which has turned, amazingly enough, green. Superimposed over the bowl of cereal are the very words the British actor with a cockney accent is about to utter.

"Gross Toesties! Smells like feet...but they're good to eat!"

11/02/2006

BLAZING FAST

I have not been able to play in bloggyland for the last two days. My computer puked, you see.

I woke up on Wednesday morning, turned on my computer as usual, noticed that my little blue power light was struggling mightily, and my system wouldn't boot. I knew what this was, as I have experienced similar blasts in the past. My power supply unit was dying. "Someone please save him!" I cried, but to no avail.

I took my computer to the emergency room, where I proceeded to tell the disc doctor what was wrong. She claimed it could be my video card. I knew better.

$ 232 later, I have my computer back, and it is blazing fast. For a senior citizen (my computer is two and a half years old), my computer flies with the newborns, again.

I had the computer doctor add 516 megabytes of RAM. But the most important thing I did was to nuke Norton System Services, which includes a program called Norton "Go Back". That program is easily the most belligerent computer application I have ever encountered. My computer is in my bedroom, and even at three o'clock in the morning, I would wake up to find my computer accessing its hard drive, after being idle for five hours!

Now, I am back, and my computer pleases me again. I am sorry if you stopped by and saw no activity here. I expect to have a new post in place tomorrow incorporating a very funny event that took place in my life on Tuesday night, and which I had hoped to post on Wednesday evening.

In the meantime, may the God of computers bless you in ways He did not bless me in this week. Take care ALL.

You belong to a family of love, not a family of strife.