Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From Our House (and Ralphie's) to Your House

In hunting for a great Christmas greeting picture, I came across this photo of the actual "A Christmas Story" house. I thought -- Other than Santa or the Nativity, is there another icon that better typifies the holiday with all its magic and wonder all amid the backdrop of everyday life? From tempermental furnaces, neighborhood thugs and dogs to leg lamps and "themes", Christmas and its wonder breaks through and somehow makes everything wonderful. I can't think of a better way to express my wishes for you and yours to have a magical Christmas with your own special Red Ryder BB gun or whatever other dream is foremost in your heart this season. May God bless each of you this Christmas and in the coming new year. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Kwanza, Happy Solstice, or whatever labels you place on the season. Peace, love, blessings, and hugs.

Was This Intentional or Just Providential?

As you know from my previous post, while I am not a great fan of Rick Warren, I am not going to beat up on him or on Mr Obama for Warren's inclusion in the Inauguration. However, I ran across this ad for a new site dedicated to getting rid of Warren. Look carefully at the web address -- www.dumprickwarren.com, and look at the possibilities. Is it simply his name or is there another meaning? Perhaps DumPrickwarren.com? Whichever way it was meant, either way fits. I just about howled with laughter over this thing. Guess it doesn't take much to give me a chuckle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday Night Soundoff

As you can tell from the time of this post, it is actually now Monday morning, but I'm still going from Sunday, so this is my Sunday sound off before my Sunday snooze off and my lazy Monday morning (I hope). First of all, the weather has been poopy (I would have said Sh**ty, but decorum dictates delicacy). We got the big snow storm of Friday and I had to go to work Friday afternoon. The roads were kind of bad, but the worst thing was being stuck in my own parking lot. It took Ben and me about 20 minutes to rock, dig, push, pray, and finally maneuver the car out of the foot of snow in which it sat. I fought like that and drove on bad roads expecting the store to be a ghost town -- boy, was I wrong! The place was a fornicating ZOO! You would think it was the end of the world the way folks were buying up the place (and of course returning stuff almost as fast as they bought it -- see next paragraph). Saturday's store business was a repeat and more of the madhouse Friday.

OK -- the story about sales and returns. What is it that makes people buy a zillion items and then -- before Christmas even comes around -- bring the stuff back with lame excuses like, "I changed my mind" (People don't plan their gift giving?) or, "My mother and I bought the same thing for my daughter (Don't grandparents and parents coordinate gift giving anymore?) or "He didn't like it (How did "he" get to see his Christmas present on the 20th of December?).? I am quickly coming to the conclusion that we live in a very self centered selfish commercially oriented world and I don't much like it. Christmas for me surely involves giving gifts to those I love as it should, but I hope for the most part that I exercise reason, thought, and some effort in what I purchase to give. After a huge of dose of "service desk-itis", I am beginning to think that people don't give any thought to their gift giving until they walk into the store and see something on the shelf -- then they buy it, take it home and think about it, and often return it. How stupid is that? On top of that, based on the past couple of days, I think one of the most popular (and crass) Christmas gifts is a bunch of lottery tickets. A few as stocking stuffers is fine, but these folks are buying as much as $100 worth of tickets -- that would stuff a lot of sox, eh? Maybe they should just give their gift-ees a note that says, "A donation to the state education fund has been made in your name." I like to think that when I give a gift, the recipient will be able to enjoy it for longer than the moment it takes to scratch those losing tickets. Maybe I'm old fashioned.

Well, enough ranting about that. Now on to today. Church went well, although getting there was a bit dicey. The road were again attacked by the snow monster and his friend the big wind. I watched a car literally blow off the freeway into the median. Then there were the two tow trucks pulling people out, and my own slip sliding. Had a lot to be thankful for when I got to church. Before leaving for church, the phone rang and it was work wanting to know how soon I could come in (I was due in at 5PM). I told them I'd be there at 3 and I was. The woman who came in to work from 6 -10 griped all evening about how bad she felt (as per usual), and whined until the management let her go home early. The other person who was supposed to work the desk with me for most of the evening was put outside to push carts (Sure glad they didn't try to get me out there -- too cold and too old). The net result was that I busted my butt, put in 8 hours (God forbid we should have OT), and ended up leaving a couple of carts of merchandise unsorted -- too bad. I am off tomorrow (HOORAY), but it's back to the grind on Tuesday before being off on Christmas Eve and Day.

Then came tonight's drive home. The roads were fair to poor condition again. However, I was on a main road where the limit is 50. I was happily moving along about 40-45, being sure to leave adequate room around me for slips or stops. Then I encountered them -- the folks who think they need to be in the left lane going 25 to 30. If they wanted to go 25-30, the right lane was just about as good a choice as the left, but no -- they felt they have the right to set the slow pace for everyone, because after all, it's all about them. I finally got home, took out the trash, and am now settled in with a root beer and chips and unwinding before hitting the sack. Thanks for letting me vent -- hug someone and wish them well today. God bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Much Ado for Me

The spoiled brats are at it again! I am talking about the ongoing vitriolic blogging and more regarding President Elect Obama's selection of Rev. Rick Warren to give the Inaugural Invocation. Now, don't get me wrong. I do not like Rick Warren or his views, and I think that his behavior and attitudes have done a lot of damage in the GLBT community. He surely would not be my choice. However, he is a recognized and successful religious leader of our day, and while there might have been choices that might have been more accepted by a lot of folks, he certainly has the credentials to "qualify" him for this honor. To exclude him because of his views would be inappropriate, just as would be the selection of someone else because he or she is pro-gay. It must also be noted that Rev. Joseph Lowrey (an avid civil rights activist and supporter of the GLBT community) is offering the benediction. I don't hear the religious right screaming about that choice. I sometimes wonder who the bigots are here. I think that Mr Obama has bigger issues that should be consuming his time. energy, and economy than this flap over who is invited to pray. Good grief. Can anyone tell me who offered the invocation at GW Bush's inauguration? How about at Bill Clinton's? Who cares? We are inaugurating Rick Warren nor does his inclusion mean that Obama agrees with his views.

Several years ago, I was invited to offer the invocation for a session of the Illinois General Assembly. This invitation was the result of some behind the scenes work by a gay staff member of a gay assemblyman, and I was honored and pleased by the honor. However, I didn't use the situation to offer any comment regarding my political or social views, and I suspect that Rick Warren will be a professional and will offer a prayer. I think it says a lot that he, knowing that Obama is publicly supportive of GLBT folks, is accepting the invitation. It's called "crossing the aisle." Obama has reiterated his support for GLBT issues, so let's drop it, move on, and offer our new president our support and prayers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A "LULU" of a Mall

Today Ben and I were fortunate enough to have a day off together. Once we got up and moving, we headed out to visit with one of my church musicians to run through some stuff for Christmas Eve. After a few minutes of review, we moved on to a delightful conversation and then we were off to lunch at a local restaurant where we each had our own pizza (they were small, but they were among the best I've had in a very long time). After lunch, Ben and I stopped at the church to do some copying and the rest of the day was ours. He is posting some pictures from along our journey, but I've got a couple of mine posted here. Our journey took us to another unusual mall (Last week, the mall was eerily empty). This one has very few merchants in it, but has become almost a museum of assorted and odd memorabilia as you can see from the pictures. The statue of Little Lulu (remember her from the comics?) brought out the pervert in Ben and I had to get the shot.

Here's a couple more to let you see the odd stuff -- the heli-boat was really odd, but the sign said it is the only one in existence. It struck me as a bit "James Bond-ish."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hope on the Horizon

Hope springs eternal on the job front. I have been contacted by the temp agency I was with previously about a possible return to the previous client. That option is now in play with no definite start date. Then, on Wednesday, another temp agency contacted me after finding my resume on Career Builder to offer me a similar position with their client. I went for testing and preliminary interview on Thursday and should hear something from them early in the week. And on top of that, I am about to extend my church contract for another three months. It all might make for an interesting holiday season. Stay tuned.

The Answer Revealed

Thanks to the folks who submitted guesses as to the subject of the picture in my previous post. No one got the right answer -- don't know if that's the result of bad photography or unusual subject. The picture is actually a straight on shot of the brand new Country Crock Spread. I just love the smooth and perfect surface that is never the same once a knife touches it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Challenge

This is a picture that I took of something in the house. Who can tell me what it is? I can't offer a prize, but the winner will get a big cyber-hug. So -- post your guess and I will announce the winner (if there is one) and reveal the answer this weekend.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Who Knew?

Well, today was the big day at church -- a vote on whether or not to close. They voted by a 2-1 margin to not close. I'm not sure that they all caught on that this means that they need to buckle down and get committed, but I guess it is a good sign. The day for me was exhausting -- the emotional strain about did me in. At least I didn't have to go from there to work today == hooray! Now I wait for the higher ups in the denomination to help me determine what's next. Might be interesting.

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Random Thoughts

Well, I haven't had much to say since Thanksgiving -- too much "stuff" going on I guess. Thanksgiving with the family was great -- the only thing to have made it better would have been having Ben there instead of at work. I managed to dodge the "work" bullet for both the holiday and Black Friday. I was wise enough to not even think about going shopping at 4 or 5 AM, and waited until about 3 to get some groceries. By then the stores were pretty dead -- thankfully.

Sunday at church was weird with the specter of possible closure hanging over the congregation. Of course, the rumor was rampant that I was intent on closing the church from the first day I got there. That of course is patently false, but I guess they needed someone to blame. I dispelled that rumor publicly. If I had been so sure about closing the church last winter I would likely not have accepted the task and, if I had it would have been long since accomplished. Two of my four board members have already jumped ship (pretty clear indication of the future of the church I think). The whole thing becomes very exhausting, but next Sunday they will vote on my recommendation to close -- more later.

And after all of that, I got to drive home in our first yucky storm of the winter, slipping and sliding as I went. Also went to work and got to drive home in it at near midnight. All is safe and sound.

Had the day off today and dug out the boxes of Christmas stuff -- put some out, but the tree will come out later in the week. By next weekend, it should look like the Griswold house around here. We have all Ben's stuff, all my stuff, and some stuff we got when Mother emptied out her house. So what did we do tonight? Went and bought just a few more decorations -- don't know where everything is going, but it will be both a challenge and a joy to see it all. That's about all from this frozen winter wonderland -- hug someone and drive carefully.