Wednesday, August 31, 2005

things i've noticed.....

People are friendlier on payday

My children will do ALMOST ANYTHING for dessert, particularly chocolate

6-year-olds are fun to annoy

Work can be fun, but not working is a whole lot more fun

I don't like to exercise as much as I did 3 years ago

Good food is never hard to find in the South

Seems like everyone has written a book these days

Gas prices and oil company profits continue to rise - coincidence?

The older I get, the worse my handwriting becomes

Fart jokes make everyone laugh, regardless of their position in society

My dreams for the future have changed alot over the past 20 years

The world will never run out of stupid people

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

prayers going out.....

I love the ocean. I've been fortunate to be able to see both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and they're both stunning in their own unique ways. I prefer the east coast beaches to west coast, but both are beautiful.

What I've seen over the past couple of days with Katrina gives me an unbelievable respect for and fear of the ocean. I can't imagine having to evacuate my home, see my neighborhood underwater on television, then finding out that it may be MONTHS before I can return.

We have friends/former neighbors in Mobile who decided not to evacuate. The bride called a few of our neighbors this morning to see if anyone had heard from them. No luck yet.

The remnants of Katrina are being felt here today. No school for any of the kids in the mid-state area. School officials are worried that tornadoes could spawn from the heavy storms and high winds.

Our family's prayers are with all those whose lives are being effected by this storm.....

Monday, August 29, 2005

please don't let anyone get on this elevator when the doors open.....

At about 6:35 this morning, I pulled into the parking lot here at work. Normal day, nothing unusual. I got on the first elevator with two other people and pleasantries are exchanged. I got off at the first stop and walked across the building to get on the next elevator. And that's when it happened.....

I got onto the next elevator by myself, and the ride was only for one level. But someone had been on this particular elevator just before me. How could I tell? Because this person, whether it was a man or a woman (but most likely a man), had left something behind. He had obviously left behind the effects of his intestinal malady.

It didn't hit me until the doors started to close but when it did hit me, it hit me head on. Almost immediately after my first thought of, "what the!" from the odor, my next thought was, "somebody's gonna' think I did this!". Since this was such a short trip down, I had to think quick. What would I say if there was someone standing there waiting to get on the elevator when the doors opened? Or worse yet, what if there were SEVERAL people there? The stories would start, and I'd feel like I was a marked man for the rest of the day. My face got hot, and panic set it. I braced myself for the worst.

But the doors opened and no one was there waiting. I stepped out, looked both ways just in case someone was approaching, but still didn't see anyone. I hurried through the doors and down the steps to my office as fast as I could. And I was praying the whole way, "Lord, thank you for the solitude this morning....."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

let's see, 20 x 5 = 100.....

I now have a reason why my waist seems to be expanding. It's my metabolism, and it appears to be slowing down.

According to an article I read yesterday, when men reach 40 their metabolism decreases by 5% each year. If this is true, I'm down almost 10% from when I was in my 30's. And because our metabolism is shrinking, we need to eat less and exercise more. If that's the case, by the time I'm 60, I'll be down to eating a speck of wheat germ and running 27 miles every day. And that's just to stay where I am, not lose any weight.

This same article mentioned that as we get into our late-30's and early-40's, our lives become busier and it leaves us with less energy (and time) to exercise. Meetings, family life, taxi driver for kids, it all factors in.

I saw a book in our church's bookstore a couple of weeks ago that looked encouraging to me. The back cover claimed that you could eat the foods you love, not exercise, and STILL lose weight. I skimmed the first 40 pages this past Sunday, and the back cover lies. The author claims that it's simple, all you have to do is substitute fresh fruit whenever you want something sweet. Easy enough. Then a couple of chapters later, it says to eat almost no bread. Then the next chapter says to "learn to love fish!" and substitute it for red meat. Again, the back cover lies.

I guess I'm going to have to do something to make my waist feel bigger pants.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

it's not having what you want.....

While I may not agree with her politics, Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up The Sun" has a line in it that really makes you think: "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got." Don Henley's song "Heart of the Matter" brings up a similar question: "What are these voices.....makes us throw off our contentment and beg for something more."

Our pastor finished up his 10-week series on the 10 Commandments this past week. His final one was, of course, the 10th one from Exodus 20:17: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." He mentioned that most of us had the ox and donkey thing conquered, but he brought up several points that made you think.

Is it possible to be content any more? I think it is, but I believe it's something you have to decide to do. I think perspective is key in this situation. You have to look at what your life could be or could have been, then realize your blessings. The worst thing you can do when it comes to being content is to compare yourself to others. There's always going to be someone who makes more money, drives a better car, has a bigger house, etc.

Wanting what you've got, that's contentment.

*Please note that my including Wally's picture in my blog in no way constitutes my true feelings for the dog. I was looking for a picture that said "content", and this is what I came up with. If I got to lay around all day long and sleep, I'd be pretty content, too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

these crooks actually do have sticky fingers.....

BROWNSVILLE, Ore. - It could have happened to anyone: Charles Gastorf and his wife, Cheryl, forgot to pay the $10 tab for 10 bags of steer manure during a recent shopping trip to their local Wal-Mart.

The two say that in the confusion of shopping on that March day they simply forgot to add in the cost of the manure. When the Gastorfs explained their forgetfulness to Lebanon City Attorney Tom McHill, he dropped shoplifting charges against them.

That could have been the end of the story — except for the letter from the world's largest retailer that soon arrived in their mailbox, demanding $175 in civil damages. That's when the Gastorfs learned about a little-known Oregon law that allows retailers to pursue civil penalties regardless of whether a person is found guilty or innocent of theft.

The Gastorfs — who live in a manufactured home and are retired — spoke to an attorney, who told them that challenging the action in court could cost them several thousand dollars, much more than the $175 civil claim.

So the Gastorfs paid Wal-Mart the money.

"We wouldn't want to embark on a life of crime at our ages and become manure thieves. I mean, if you were going to steal something, would you steal manure?" Gastorf said.

But Shardon Weber, a spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, told The Albany Democrat Herald that the company has decided to refund the Gastorfs' $175.

"It simply seems like the right thing to do," she said.

*Did you happen to see the name of the product in the picture above? Is the company trying to be like Starbucks or what?

Monday, August 22, 2005

even a cup of cold water.....

You see them all over the place, expecially in larger cities. Most of the time they're standing alone with a sign. Maybe one car in twenty rolls down their window and slips them some money. The other nineteen pretend as though no one is there. If you're like me, you're one of the nineteen.

We're usually scared that something will happen. Or that we'll not know how to handle ourselves when they approach. Most of all, we just don't want to get involved. They should be spending their time looking for a job instead of begging. Like we know what's gone on in their life up to this point.....

On my way home from a meeting last week, I needed to stop off in Brentwood for something. As I started up the ramp, I noticed a lady in her late-20's or early-30's standing on the side of the ramp with a sign. The temperature was in the mid-90's, and she appeared to be a bit sunburned and very hot. As usual, I avoided making eye contact. I looked in the rearview mirror, and an older couple in the car behind me made an even more concerted effort to avoid the lady by steering their car a little more to the right as they approached her. The lady held her ground, occasionally looking around. The whole time, I'm wondering what I'll do if she decides to go from car to car. I look in my mirror again, and a guy about my age pulls up a couple of cars behind me in line in a Volvo. I see his arm reach out towards her. He hands her a bottle of cold water, so cold that there are large beads of water on the outside, along with a bill of some sorts, maybe a one or a five. As I continue to look back, I see him smiling towards her. The older couple behind me have this "what is he doing?" look on their faces. The light turned green, and the guy in the Volvo smiles and waves to her. The lady turns and waves to him with a smile. I drove off admiring the guy in the Volvo, and questioning my selfishness and fears.

I kept thinking about a verse in Matthew where Jesus talked about giving as little as a cup of cold water. The water and the money were probably no big deal to the guy in the Volvo, but more than likely they meant alot to the lady on the side of the ramp.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

uh, oh, yeah, hi.....

Ah, the joys of running into half of a divorced couple.

It's amazing to the bride and me that so many of our friends over the years are now divorced. We used to belong to a church where we made a huge amount of couple-friends. We're up to two hands now on counting how many have parted ways. Some surpised us, others didn't.

The first time you run into one of the divorced partners who's now with someone else can be a little awkward. Happened to us the other day at church.

"He-ey! I can't believe it, how are you?"

At first we were both thinking, "OK, I know you, I know I know you, but I'm as lost as last year's Easter eggs on your face right now. You really look familiar, but I have no idea who the person standing beside you is. The person I'm used to see you standing beside looks nothing like this person." All this is going on during a hug from the other person. Then it hits us. "Hey, how are you, *****?"

We've lost touch with so many of our old friends. You change churches, your kids do different things, and before you know it the connection's no longer there. When a divorce occurs, we usually hear information 3rd and 4th-hand, so we're never quite sure how much is true. Then again, how much do we really want to know about what happened?

Frank Burns from MASH said "Marriage is probably the chief cause of divorce." You just can't buy wisdom like that.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

not good enough for brentwood.....

Unless something changes, I went to the Brentwood library for the last time yesterday. I dropped off my book in the book depository and drove off. You see, Brentwood officials have decided to charge an annual fee of $50 per person to anyone who uses their library but does not live within the city limits of Brentwood. Even though Brentwood is in Williamson County, other county residents are not allowed to freely partake of the library beginning September 1. And even though they do receive county funding (albeit a small percentage of their total budget). Brentwood officials said they asked for an increase in funding, but that the county declined. I'm sorry, but Brentwood asking for more money is like Terrell Owens saying he needs more money because he can't feed his family on $9M a year.

I'm sure the Brentwood Library will become the elitist museum/country club they want it to become. After September 1, all of us non-residents will either "pony-up" with the money to be included in their priviledged society, or we'll be forced to go to our own dreary little local libraries.

The Brentwood library is as nice as any Borders or Barnes & Noble. I've used it for the past 15 months mainly because it's on my way to and from work. They have a good selection of books, although they need to have a better way to link what's in their online inventory and what's actually on the shelf. I'll miss going there, but I'm a little ticked off that they're doing this.

But not as ticked off as one guy who wrote a letter to the editor last week. The bride left a copy of it on the dresser for me to read, and she said she had to look twice to make sure I wasn't the author. I couldn't have said it any better myself. Here's an excerpt of the letter:

The recent decision in Brentwood to allow only Brentwood city residents access to their coveted library — excluding other Williamson County residents — has implications for the future of Brentwood and Williamson County. Here are some future headlines and news snippets from a world ruled by Brentwood librarians and the Brentwood City Commission:

  • "Brentwood Police Begin 'Pay-Per-View' Program." Upon orders from the Brentwood police commissioner, police will begin charging $25 for any nonresident who asks for directions. He insisted that the fee was necessary, since nonresidents do not contribute toward taxes to compensate officers for valuable "doughnut time." "The city is becoming so crowded," he explained, "we just can't have people roaming the streets looking at our stuff."
  • "Brentwood Tollbooths Paying Off." The Brentwood mayor today issued a statement declaring success of the recent tollbooth installations on all Brentwood streets. "Charging nonresidents to drive on our streets is really paying off," he claimed. The mayor went on to say, "Not that we actually needed the money. … I just like having the streets to myself without all those other people around. It's so quiet."
  • "Brentwood City Parks Under Control." The new initiative to properly secure all Brentwood city parks and recreation areas is going well, according to the director of parks and recreation. "Since library attendance has been cut in half," he announced, "we have been able to use our librarians to patrol city parks and recreation areas to deport aliens (any person without a certified Brentwood Library card) to Franklin." Becoming slightly emotional, he concluded, "There is nothing more exhilarating than a librarian exerting their authority over nonresidents." The Brentwood children's librarian, tasked with patrolling city playgrounds to ask nonresident children to leave, added: "Literacy and reading is obviously important. Well, as long as it's within the Brentwood city limits."
  • "Alabama Man Loses Car in Brentwood Fire." While stopping to refuel at a Brentwood gas station, an explosion of unknown origin ripped through the establishment. The Brentwood Fire Department responded quickly and extinguished the flames — except for the Alabama automobile. The Brentwood fire chief told reporters that "he should not have been in Brentwood anyway and he doesn't pay our salaries," but he was quick to point out that "firemen offered free marshmallows to all Brentwood residents that gathered to watch the car burn."
  • "Tornado Siren Blocking Device Installed." "We were shocked," the Brentwood public works technology director exclaimed, "when we found out that the 10 'early warning system' sirens (used to alert Brentwood residents of potential tornado conditions) were loud enough for nonresidents to hear." In response, Brentwood has erected a 250-foot barrier around the city specially designed to block sound waves that attempt to leave Brentwood. "Brentwood taxes paid for those sirens, so only Brentwood residents should hear them," he commented.

Yes, believe it or not, that was the edited version. He had a couple of other examples, but I picked out the best ones.

Brentwood and Franklin libraries have had a book swap relationship over the years. If you're at the Brentwood library and they don't have what you're looking for, you can have the book shipped from Franklin. I wonder if that will still be in effect on September 1? Or would a Brentwood resident accept a book if they knew it came from the lowly Franklin library?

As I was leaving the drive-through at the library yesterday, there was a lady in her mid-50's holding a clipboard, standing on the curb just past the book depository. I still had my window down so she smiled and said, "Excuse me, sir. We're taking a survey, and I wondered if I could ask you a few questions?" I smiled back and said, "I don't think I'm the best person for you to ask questions about my satisfaction with the Brentwood library." Her head tilted to the side, and she had a confused look on her face. "Why's that, dear?" I looked at her and said, "Well, I'm not a Brentwood resident, and for me to be a part of your survey I would probably have to pay you something." I then rolled up my window and headed south on I-65.....*

*OK, that last part was made up, but wouldn't that have been cool?

Monday, August 15, 2005

back to school.....

When I left the house this morning at 6:15, I could hear Sara singing and Meg drying her hair. The bride called me around 7:30 to tell me how quiet things were around the house. School is officially back in session.

Sara actually started back last Friday. Meg has 1/2 day today, then gets into the swing of things full-time tomorrow. (Following in her father's footsteps, Meg waited until this past weekend to do her summer reading and projects.)

I remember my first day of school in first grade. Mom was so flustered that she backed out of the garage without opening the door. Thankfully, the other eleven years of first days didn't yield any other types of home damage.

On another note, Meg and I got to go to the Titans' first pre-season game Friday night. In all honesty, it could be a long season. I saw some good stuff, and I saw some bad stuff. Too many penalties, for one thing. (However, the officiating DID leave alot to be desired on a couple of calls.) Travis Henry will be a great back for them IF they block for him. McNair looked better until the interception. The defense needs to wrap up on tackles. The young wide receivers look very promising.

Friday, August 12, 2005

killing two birds with one stone.....

I like efficiency. I like to be able to do one thing and accomplish another at the same time. Multi-tasking just gives me all kinds of grins and giggles. I realize that multi-tasking isn't always possible. Like when I'm reading? I have to focus on whatever it is I'm reading. I can't (successfully) watch a football game and read a book at the same time. Tried it last night during the Packers/Chargers pre-season game, and it didn't work.

But I was able to "light two candles with one flame" (new one I heard the other day) when I posted my blog on Wednesday. Not only did it provide reading for those who chose to read it, it also "offended" someone. And it offended someone I love to offend! I won't mention her name (J. Harris, to protect her identity), but I had a very long e-mail from her requesting that I remove certain accusatory comments from my post. Long story short, she didn't have a leg to stand on. I thanked her for being a loyal reader, but declined her appeal.

I love fact, I may have been successful at it again today!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

yeah, uh-huh, right.....

Sounds to me like Dagmar had had just about enough of Frauke.....

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 75-year-old German was so shocked he had accidentally run down his wife he started forward and drove over her again, authorities said on Wednesday.

Police in the western town of Bad Nauheim said the man compounded his 73-year-old wife's misery after an onlooker told him he had just run her over while backing out of a parking space. The woman was rushed to hospital and survived.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

ugliest pet on the planet.....

While shopping at the Friendly Center in Greensboro last week, we walked into a pet store. Of course, both girls wanted to get at least one dog out each. I was able to use the "we're about to eat, you don't want to get dirty" line that dads like to use. As I'm walking around looking at the aquariums, fish, lizards and other reptiles, the bride said, "Have you seen the skinny pigs?"

I immediately thought she was slurring her words. After all, she'd been with Jennifer all morning so I wasn't sure what kind of trouble they'd gotten into. (Jennifer was a bad influence on the bride growing up. She used to spit on people from the top of the bleachers at the Nashville Sounds games. So you understand my concern.....) So she takes me to the front of the store to see these hideous things.

If Satan had a pet, this would be it.

Skinny pigs are actually a mutation of the guinea pig, and came from several labs in Canada in 1978. They're born without the gene that produces hair. They're also born without the gene that produces cute.

Some people have pets that are so ugly they're cute. Like an English bulldog. They have these rolls of extra skin, they're short and stocky, and a huge underbite. But they're cute in spite of their appearance, plus they usually have great laid-back personalities. These things? How could they have any kind of personality? And the odor matches their looks.

Needless to say, there won't be a skinny pig in our house any time soon.....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

open mouth, then maintain your innocence.....

Some of the best blessings in my life are things like a hug or an "I love you, Daddy" from one of my girls. As a dad, there's nothing better. On the other hand, the biggest curse for a father is innocently (I repeat - innocently) saying something to your daughter and having them burst into tears.

Women have known for years that men just don't get the total communication game. And for the most part, we men have accepted that. As a father of WITs (women-in-training), just add more complication into the equation. We think we know our daughters, know just what to say and how far we can go with a particular subject, but we never fully know.....until the tears start. If we could just figure out the step right BEFORE the tears start, then we could stop the progress and avert the crisis altogether.

There is one component that is extremely helpful. It's called information. Information is key to communication. This is where the wife comes in. If the husband has information about certain hot buttons, he'll better know what to avoid. This isn't foolproof, however. I've been known to possess information about subjects and still go the extra mile in upsetting a daughter (or two); not to be mean, but rather to hopefully lighten the mood on a particular subject.

As Ray Barone said on another subject in an "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode, "The monkey never learns....."

Monday, August 08, 2005

random ruminations.....

I had the best front 9 of my life Friday afternoon. Dad and I played at Tri-Cities in Blountville, and we started off on the Lakes course. 1 birdie, 6 pars and 2 bogies. I'm thinking I'll break 80 for the first time in my life. Before I tee off on the back 9, I'm thinking that all I need is a 43 or less to do it. 2 holes into the back 9, the Woods course, I realize the dream won't happen that day. I double-bogied #10, then had a big, fat, obnoxious 7 on a par 3. Ugly. I settled down after that but ended up with a 47 on the back. My 83 wasn't anything to complain about, by any means, but a 42 would have been alot nicer. However, getting the opportunity to play 18 with my dad was worth more than a 79 would have ever been. (On a side note, I was feeling pretty good about my 36 on the front 9 Friday. I had a message from a friend from Wednesday who called from the golf course to tell me he got his first hole-in-one. There's always somebody who can one-up you, huh?)

Tony Kornheiser has a term that I think is hilarious. I've hearn him refer to an overweight person as being "a big ol' tub of goo." After my doctor's appointment this morning, I believe I am now one of those big ol' tubs of goo. When I saw the reading on the scale it shocked me, even though it shouldn't have. Sure, some of it's from being on vacation last week and eating everything that wasn't nailed down, but most of it has crept back onto my frame over the past year. I've GOT to get back to eating right (translation - nothing) and exercising on a regular basis. Maybe I'll pick up some Goo-Gone next time I'm in Wal-Mart.

We went to the Williamson County Fair last night. Our purpose for going was to attend the worship service called "The Gathering", but that didn't pan out for us. First, it didn't start on time. Second, they changed the lineup of those scheduled to lead worship. Third, it was hot inside the exhibit center. So we ended up walking around and watching the girls ride rides. (I actually rode one; more on that later.) We saw a ton of old friends, some that we keep in contact with via e-mail, some we've just lost touch with over the years. What is there about good friends that allow you to see each other, hug and still feel like you see them on a daily basis?

As for my lone ride appearance last night, it will be my last. Sara wanted to ride something called the Moon Shot or something like that. The picture to the left is the basic ride. I need some Pepto after just looking at the picture itself. Sara wanted to ride Moon Shot, but couldn't talk any of her friends into riding it with her. The bride didn't want her to ride it alone, so against my better judgement I told Sara I'd ride it with her. Understand that fear of the ride itself doesn't come into play. I'm not scared of the speed or the height. My fear is of the feeling I get AFTER the ride is over. Even since I hung over the bushes barfing beside the Tea Cups ride in Disney World about 10 years ago (while at a conference and WITH a co-worker who's never let me live it down), I've had this thing about motion rides. The ride starts, and it's no big deal. Then the sadistic Moon Shot operator decides to let us hang upside-down, just like in the picture, but for about 3 1/2 hours. TWICE! I didn't regain normalcy for the rest of the evening.

OK, now that vacation is over, I can officially start my countdown to Christmas. 138 days* and counting.....

*I did a quick search on Yahoo for a Christmas countdown site, and it directed me to an Auburn University site. I say this because since it's an Auburn site, the information there may or may not be correct. After all, last year their football team thought they were #1, when they were obviously no better than #2. Evidently they never saw USC play last year.....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

busy couple of days.....

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty busy for us. Tuesday started off with Mark and me teeing off at Bryan Park Champions Course at about 7:45. Good front nine for me, but the wheels fell off on the back nine. Beautiful course, though, and very fun to play. We met the bride, Jennifer and the girls at Friendly Center for lunch and shopping that afternoon. Then we ate at Green Valley Grill in the O'Henry Hotel that evening. The food was wonderful and no one left hungry

We left for Johnson City Wednesday morning around 10:00 and decided to stop off in Blowing Rock, NC for a little shopping, eating and just walking around town. The weather was perfect - a slight breeze and about 72 degrees. We're not used to that kind of weather in August! The town was beautiful, very quaint with old shops and lots of charm. Lunch was at Tijuana Fats, and while the service was slow (the bride said they just operated at a slower speed in Blowing Rock) the food was very good. After that we went in and out of the shops and just enjoyed the day. We met up with quite a bit of rain on the way to JC, but the scenery for the entire day was spectacular. The mountains of NC and Tennessee are hard to beat.

Today's been a lazy day so far. We're taking the girls to see "Sky High" after lunch. Tomorrow afternoon Dad and I are going to play golf. I can't remember the last time I played golf 3 times in a week. Not that I'm complaining.....

Monday, August 01, 2005

emerald point.....

If you like water parks, visit Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, NC. Sara and I spent a good deal of our day on Daredevil Drop and the Twin Twisters, both pictured here. Both rides are about 90 feet up. The hardest parts of the ride are both the climb up (felt every bit of my 41 years on the ascent) and looking down right before going off.

We're all a little sunburned, but it was alot of fun. Or as Sara said today, funner than fun.