Tuesday, January 31, 2006

and I used to despise wal mart.....

After reporting that they had their largest quarterly profit EVER, they have the nerve to say this. I'm no genius, but it doesn't take much to figure out that being me being gouged at the pump equates to their hefty bottom line.

Excuse me while I heave.....

Monday, January 30, 2006


Kids have been known to question things. Why the grass is green and why the sky is blue. Sometimes adults don't have the patience to explain. And sometimes we assume that children are born with a database full of information and that they should already know the answers.

While reading something from a local author recently, he talked about how small children have to be forced to take baths and brush their teeth. They may not like it at first, but after awhile they figure out that this has value. (Especially boys when they discover girls.) Sometimes the things we learn from our parents are not fully appreciated until we become adults. Ask any college graduate how smart his father became from the time the recent graduate was a freshman to the time he took a job out in the real world.

A teenager I know asked me this weekend if she could get 2 drivers licenses - one for her purse, and another for in the car. That way she would never be without one. To a teenager, that makes perfect sense. To an adult, all kinds of red flags and bells go off. Fraud, forgery, etc. But she had no way of knowing all this.

If you think about it, age brings with it a bit of cynicism. Walls automatically come up whenever questions are asked, standards challenged. Creativity suffers and companies sometimes die due to a lack of asking enough questions. Remember Tom Hanks in the movie Big? He was a kid working for a toy manufacturer. What better person than a kid to tell you what kind of toy works or doesn't work?

Maybe all research and development teams should include at least one child. With questions come answers.....

Thursday, January 26, 2006

project patience.....

The bride and our girls bought me a train set for Christmas. (That's my new diesel locomotive on the right.) For the past month I've been working on a layout. One weekend I built the frame. The next weekend I cut the plywood and foam for the track base. The following week I put the plywood and foam into the frame. For the past week I've been trying to come up with a good, workable, somewhat realistic layout for the track. Just when I think I've got the right layout, something goes wrong. It's either an electrical issue, an elevation/incline problem, or a concern about track length.

This is a whole new world for me. Yes, I've worked with trains before. But I never got past the stage of setting them up on the kitchen table for a few hours then putting them back into their respective boxes. Plus, I'm a checklist kind of person. The kind who makes a checklist and rushes to get it finished. This is different. This requires something I have very little of - patience.

It's alot like marriage or parenting or any other long-term relationship - you're never finished with your project. It's always evolving, always changing. There's always something more that can be done with it, something else that can be added or taken away. A tweak here or there.

I think I've been tricked. The bride actually bought me an educational toy....

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

giving up the wheel.....

On Monday I told about the couple from our class that hydroplaned on their way to church, and the song on the radio was Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel". Why is it that we sometimes wait until we're out of control before we hand over the keys?

It's pretty easy to forget where your blessings come from when things are going well. But when things turn sour and life is hard, that's when we're ready to get things right. It's almost like we have this Santa Claus mentality, only communicating with God when we want something. (And when I say "we" I'm pointing back at myself.)

God wants us to talk to Him, but not just when things are bad or when we want something. He wants a relationship with us. And just like in relationships we have with other people, you're going to have the good and the bad. That relationship isn't always going to be fun. Sometimes it will be downright confusing. There are times you just have to trust that whatever road you're on is going to get you where you need to be.

I have a friend who just recently lost his job. He's one of the strongest Christian men I've ever met. He's also one of those guys whose relationship with God is constant and genuine. Over the past week he's had people come up to him and say that this is probably for the best, and that God's got a plan for him. Even though he knows all this, it doesn't make him feel any better. And frankly he's tired of hearing people tell him this. Because pain still hurts.

What's so impressive about this guy is his positive attitude through it all. Is he ticked off? Sure, but he knows deep down (and some days it's way deep down) that God is in fact leading him through this journey. Trust makes unknown destinations a little more tolerable.....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

she could help your heart.....

Comedy Films May Boost Blood Flow To Heart
(courtesy of the Seattle Times, 1/17/06)

Heading to the movies? Pick a comedy if you want to boost the blood flow to your heart.

In a small study outlined in a letter published in the journal Heart, researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center asked 20 volunteers to watch 15- to 30-minute segments of sad and funny films. Examples of sad films included the opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan," and examples of comedy films included "There's Something About Mary."

Participants were asked to abstain from drinking alcohol, using vitamins or herbs, or engaging in aerobic exercise the evening before the experiment, since those factors can affect blood flow.
The researchers then measured blood flow in the brachial artery, which runs from the shoulder to the elbow, and is a good indicator of blood flow around the body.

Brachial artery blood flow was reduced in 14 of the 20 volunteers after watching movie clips that caused distress. But it was increased in 19 of the 20 volunteers after watching movie clips that elicited laughter.

The impact of watching a sad film was of the same magnitude as remembering episodes of anger and doing mental arithmetic, the researchers said, and the impact of watching a funny film was equivalent to a bout of aerobic exercise or starting on a cholesterol-lowering drug treatment.

Monday, January 23, 2006

makes you stop and think.....

A couple in our Sunday school class was on their way to church yesterday morning. The wife commented to the husband that it was starting to rain. About a mile later, the bottom dropped out and it began to pour. A few minutes after that, they hit a ponded area on the interstate and they began to hydroplane. The husband said that they did about three 360's. He said that his view through the windshield kept changing from the median to a rock wall.

When their vehicle came to a stop they were pointed in the right direction. Neither of them were hurt, and no other cars were involved. The song on the radio at the time? Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel".....

Friday, January 20, 2006

permission denied.....

This is a bit frustrating. I feel like a comic who's just come up with the best material for his act, but his agent said he couldn't use it.

I've heard of things lately that would be so enjoyable to those who read this, but I've been denied access. Just last night, the bride was telling me about something from her day. At the end of the story she quickly added, ".....and this better not end up in your blog!" Great.

While cleaning the kitchen last night, I had an old Barry Manilow CD playing in the stereo. (Face it, for all the bad publicity he's gotten over the years, the man did shape the culture with his lyrics. And no, I'm not gay because I listen to Barry Manilow. Just in case you tried to make that connection.) So a song comes on and I immediately think that it would be good background music for a popular drug that makes older couples want to sit in seperate bathtubs on a hill and watch the sunset. I'm writing the thing as I'm scrubbing the baked on chicken casserole out of a Pyrex dish. What happened when I told the bride about it? She nixed that one too.

I've gotta' get a new agent.....

Thursday, January 19, 2006


On my way to pump more caffiene into my body Tuesday afternoon, I overheard one lady say this to another lady:

"Is it ever going to stop raining?"

I immediately started thinking about the Seattle area, and how fortunate we are here compared to them. At that time, it had been raining in Nashville for approximately 18 hours. As of this past Saturday, it had rained for 27 straight days in Seattle. During the 27 straight days of rain over the past month, over 13 inches of rain fell. And not only is it wet, but they get to deal with all the other side effects of the rain - mud slides, water cresting well about flood stage, patients being evacuated from hospitals.

People who complain about a little rain are the same ones who complained about dry conditions only a few weeks ago.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

i know her, i know her.....

While watching American Idol last night, they kept showing this girl who looked so familiar to me. Then when she went before the judges and said her name, I finally remembered her.

The young lady who wanted to be known as just "Mandisa" used to work here in Nashville. I actually hired her to sing at one of our meetings about three years ago.

Go, Mandisa.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

funny how it's not as funny.....

Every year, for several years, there were about 15-20 couples who made their annual lake trip. We were all in our mid-20's to early-30's, we had young kids, and we were all very close. The times we shared with them, not only during the lake trips but also just day-to-day, bring back some of the best memories for the bride and me.

Days on the lake went like this - the guys played golf every morning while the ladies worked on their tans; we'd have lunch together then spend the rest of the daylight hours on the water on jet skis, wave runners or ski boats; dinner would usually be something on the grill or lasagna; then we'd sit up all hours of the night playing cards and watching movies.

One year I brought a couple of movies - Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura - Pet Detective, and Pauly Shore's Son-in-Law. Of course these were movies for the guys - the ladies would obviously not appreciate or understand high-class humor like this. We watched both movies and laughed until we cried. We quoted lines from the movies for months.

I've watched Pet Detective several times since then. I've even introduced both daughters to Ace (the edited for television version), and they loved it. This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch Son-in-Law again. I'm not sure how it happened, but Pauly Shore isn't funny any more. It's the same movie, but he's now more stupid than funny in that movie. Yes, there are some funny parts, but not nearly as many as there were 13 years ago.

And it can't have anything to do with me growing older and maturing.....

Monday, January 16, 2006

strange things that happened this weekend.....

* The Colts, everyone's shoe-in for the Super Bowl, lost yesterday. Pittsburgh's defense had them rattled from the start. And Indianapolis' "liquored-up" kicker couldn't close the deal when the game was on the line.

* I worked out for about 20 minutes total on the bride's new Gazelle Power Plus and didn't drop 15 pounds. I thought that thing was supposed to work fast. May have to send it back.....

Friday, January 13, 2006

kind vs. nice.....

The father of someone I know and respect deeply always had a saying:

Be kind to everyone, because everybody's having a hard time.

People don't use the word "kind" in their everyday language any more. "Kind" has been replaced by "nice", and while the two words may be similar, their meanings vary. When I looked up "nice" I found words like pleasant, good and polite. Here are the words that define "kind": caring, sympathetic, gentle, thoughtful. Big difference, huh?

Here's a good way to look at it. You ask someone how they're doing, and after they tell you, you say something like, "Well, hope things get better. Talk to you soon!" You've just been polite or nice. Nothing wrong with that at all! But as someone once said, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

No matter how good things are for someone, there's always some kind of struggle they're going through in their life. It may be obvious, or it could be something hidden. But showing someone kindness instead of simply being nice could make a big difference in their life.

We all have the choice to be nice or to go the extra mile and be kind.....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

follow-up to yesterday.....

As we started out on our walk yesterday afternoon, the bride said that she had read my post for the day. She did point out, however, that I had left out some important information. So here's.....the rest of the story.

Apparently I've been snoring quite a bit lately. But just in my sleep, so it's not an all-the-time kind of thing. My "alleged" snoring keeps some people awake. And by some people, I'm referring to the bride. So the moment I asked if she liked her bone, she had just come back from trying to sleep on the couch in the den. Evidently my alleged snoring was so loud that it kept her from sleeping that night.

But let's take it a step further. When she got back into bed that night, she apparently roused me from my slumber causing me to ask her this question. Makes me wonder if she didn't actually wake me up.....

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I used to sleepwalk when I was younger. I don't remember many of the times that I did it. I do vaguely remember when I was about 4, I went sleepwalking and thought I was in the bathroom. Thankfully, Dad's raincoat that was hanging in the hall closet was water repellent.

When we first got married, the bride got to witness a few episodes of my wonderful talent. But I added a new twist for her - dialogue. One night I got up, went to her side of the bed, and proceeded to ask her where the gas seed was. What is gas seed? I don't have a clue, but I was sure she knew where it was and that she was hiding it from me. Another time I poured water on her head while she slept. I must have been dreaming about watering flowers or something. Yet another time I decided that all the lamps in our bedroom belonged in the kitchen - at 2:30 AM.

I haven't sleptwalked (is that even a word?) in several years. But night before last, the bride said that I asked her the following question - "Did you like your bone?" And according to her, I found this question to be quite humorous, because I immediately started laughing.

Life with me is never boring.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

1 in 5 people.....

I heard something interesting while at lunch today. In a recent survey, people were asked to give the best way to become wealthy. 20% of those surveyed said the best way to become wealthy was to win the lottery. That means if you see 5 people standing together, odds are that one of them thinks this way.

Whatever happened to working to obtain wealth? Another interesting fact is that of all the "wealthy" people in America, only 8% of them inherited their wealth. Now I didn't graduate from MIT, but if my simple math skills work here that means the other 92% DIDN'T inherit their money. Think they worked and worked hard for it?

The land of opportunity is becoming (or has already become) the land of gimme' what oughta' be mine.....

Monday, January 09, 2006

unlikely angel.....

Ashley Smith was probably the kind of person who was easily forgettable. Hooked on drugs, with a seemingly hopeless messed-up life. But about a year ago she found out that God can use people who don't have their acts together.

You've probably heard the whole story about how Ashley was able to convince Brian Nichols to turn himself in after killing 3 people in Atlanta. I was able to hear all the details as our pastor did a "Larry King style" interview with her during our morning services yesterday. (You should be able to view the whole service at www.pclive.org later on today. For some reason, they just have the opening song on there this morning. Just click on the "1-8-06" link under the Video heading.) She admits, she wasn't an angel. At one point she was a drug addict, so much of a drug addict that she lost custody of her daughter.

But things changed. She got into rehab and was making a new life for herself. Then came March 11, Brian Nichols and more prayer than she'd ever known before. Ashley said at first she felt like God was tired of her and that she was about to die. Then she said she felt that this was happening for a reason, and that everything was going to be OK. Seven hours later, Brian Nichols surrendered to police, and Ashley surrendered to God.

We don't all get second chances, but when we do we need to make the most of them. I've heard several "learned" people say that she's not the real thing. I tend to disagree, because Ashley Smith got her second (or third or fourth) chance and she's making a difference.....

Friday, January 06, 2006

good intentions.....

I've heard it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. You know another road paved with good intentions? The road to Fatty Town.

It's about 35 and spitting snow in downtown Nashville. I decided to get out and walk downtown for lunch. My intention was to eat chicken strips at Burger King. By the time I got to my destination, not only was I freezing, but I also learned that Burger King had been closed. Gone. Vanished.

I looked across the street and there was Cheeseburger Charley's. Sure, I could have walked back up to Subway or Quizno's, but I was cold and hungry so I took the easy way out. And, yes, they did have grilled chicken sandwiches. But getting a chicken sandwich at a burger place would be like, oh I don't know, getting a cheeseburger at a Chinese restaurant.

So I got a burger (their smallest one!) and enjoyed it immensely. I did walk at quite a brisk pace on the way to the library and then from the library back to work. That should count for something.

Gonna' start eating better on Monday.....

Thursday, January 05, 2006

not in college any more.....

While I hate to see the college football season end, my body is ready for a break. Tuesday night's 3-OT game kept me up until 12:30, then the national championship game had me up until 11:30. And since I get up at around 5:20 every morning, that didn't leave much time for sleep.

Texas, while they got a few calls, deserved to win. Vince Young made a believer out of me. I went into the game thinking Reggie Bush would be the difference in the game, but Young stole the spotlight from him. It was an incredible game.

On another topic, the elliptical machine has been returned to Sears. The repairman said a major component was broken, and that if it were him he would take it back and get a brand new one. The bride talked to him about the reliability of ellipticals, and he said that he repairs more of them than any other kind of exercise equipment. So we're back to the drawing board. More research.

OK, gotta' go get get some toothpicks to prop my eyelids open for the day.....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

what i did on my Christmas vacation.....

I didn't try to blog once during Christmas vacation, other than the brief post on Christmas morning. Here's a synopsis of what happened during my 11 days off:

Came into work for about an hour. Shopped around Cool Springs until the theater ticket office opened so I could get tickets for the afternoon "Narnia." Great, wonderful movie. Some scenes will give you chills. Mark and Jennifer went with us, then we went back to our house for the evening.

If I remember correctly, I ran a few errands that morning, then we went to Christmas Eve service at 3:00. Very nice. Watched a movie that night.

The big day! Our poor daughters didn't get hardly anything for Christmas. My three girls surprised me with an n-scale train set! Looking forward to building a layout this coming year! Mark, Jennifer and Cole came over that afternoon, and we all played an extremely long game of Yahtzee. Hint - keep the number of players under 6 or you'll be there all day. Not that the company wasn't wonderful!

Got up that morning and did some after-Christmas shopping. Bought a new softball glove, then some train stuff at Hobby Lobby (50% off). Went to the bride's parents' house for family Christmas that night. Had a great time and ate too much.

Left for Mom's and Dad's that morning, and stopped off to see Helen and Shelby on the way. Had a nice drive up, except for going through Knoxville. Thought of mailing a nasty letter to TDOT and asking them why Knoxville is always in a mess. Never got past the thought process. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans for dinner. Again, ate too much.

Spent the most of the day at Mamaw's and had a good time there. Had dinner that evening with the Moffits. You just can't beat Christmas with family and friends. Had too much to eat at lunch and dinner. (There's a pattern developing here.....)

Dad and I spent the day driving around Kingsport and Bristol. Went by our first two houses. Ate at Pal's (chili bun, frenchie fries) for lunch. The neighborhood looked both different and the same, if that's even possible.

Drove back to Franklin. Knoxville traffic was much lighter. The girls watched a movie while the bride read a book. It was great being in East Tennessee, but just as good to be back home.

The bride and I ran some errands that morning. Picked up tickets for "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" for the late showing. I love Steve Martin, but he won't have an Oscar on his mantle for this movie later on this year. We actually stayed up to watch the ball drop. Good to see Dick Clark back, but it was hard to watch. Hope he can get back to normal soon.

Did the late service that morning. Came home and ate. Spent the rest of the day undecorating for Christmas. While it's necessary, I don't like it because that means Christmas is officially over. After that, while the bride and Meg were out, I completely rearranged the bonus room. I was dead tired by the time my head hit the pillow that night. I'm getting old.

Watched football most of the day. Alot of good games. The SEC didn't fare too well this bowl season. At least UT didn't lose! Put the bride's elliptical machine (surprise Christmas present!) together that afternoon. After less than 10 minutes of use, it locked up. The repair guy is supposed to come Wednesday. Disappointing, but it'll be fixed or we'll get a new one.

Here's a little tip for you - if, the night before you have to go back to work after being off for Christmas, you wonder aloud to someone "gee, I hope my work clothes still fit", you probably ate too much while you were off.....

*Please note that this is not my gut, but rather what my gut will look like if Sears doesn't fix the bride's elliptical machine.....