Saturday, December 30, 2006

Goodbye Jerry

I have been, along with much of America, mourning the death of Gerald Ford since I found out on Wednesday. I was fortunate to have been born during his brief tenure at the helm of our country. I don't want to get into any kind of political crap about him or what did or didn't do. So if you feel inclined to leave a comment of that nature... don't look for your asinine words to stay on my site very long.

Since I wasn't making informed decisions beyond what kind of baby food I liked or disliked when Gerald Ford was president, all I know of him is what I've read and what I've seen of him in his post-presidential years. Most of the media attention in the last few days has centered on ideas that he was a simple and genuine man. Stuff like he made his own breakfast, he plodded around the White House in his slippers, he loved his wife deeply, he never strived to be the president, when he was inaugurated he asked for the Michigan fight song to be played in place of Hail to the chief b/c he didn't feel deserving of the honor, and in the end he asked for no regal funeral arrangements. He was honest and yet compassionate. He pardoned Nixon to heal the country knowing it would probably cost him his high popularity ratings and a re-election bid. He constantly and repeatedly called for a blending of political ideas between the parties all the way up to the month before his death. He was a Christian man who made his children attend church until they left his house. And so much more.

Gerald Ford was the only president to have never been elected to the Vice-Presidency or the Presidency. He was chosen as Nixon's successor only after the VP resigned due to the same turmoil that would force Nixon out the door soon after. In stark contrast, he was elected to the House for 25 years as a representative from the state of Michigan. And that is what he called " finest years. It was in that position that I spent my happiest years as a public servant."

I watched his body being taken from his church this morning. Despite his request for no extra pomp, it filled me with pride to see our armed forces giving him the respect he deserved. They weren't putting on any airs, they were simply showing honor to their fallen commander. As his body descended the stairs of the church and then ascended the stairs of the capital this evening, even the chatty liberal-biased TV anchors shut their mouths and let the country honor this man from their living rooms. I am not ashamed to say that a tear fell from my eye as I heard his favorite hymn being played [even with the word Jesus displayed across the bottom of the screen.] Gerald Ford will be remembered for all he did for a hurt Congress, all he did for a hurt wife, and all he did for a hurt nation. He may not have served us long, but he was what we needed in that brief time. I am honored to have been born under his colors.

R.I.P. Gerald Ford

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Funny

Christmas kind of snuck up on many this year, so I thought I'd share some leftover seasonal humor to ease the tension of the holidays. I'm not sure where I got these, so I'm not sure who to credit. Enjoy...


Do you hear what I hear?
We three queens disoriented are.
I think I'll be home for Christmas.
Hark the herald angels sing about me.
Deck the halls and walls and house and lawn and streets and stores and office and town and cars and buses and trucks and trees and fire hydrants and...
Santa Claus is coming to get me.
You better watch out, I'm gonna cry, I'm gonna pout, maybe I'll tell you why.
Silent anedonia, holy anedonia, all is flat, all is lonely.
Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock... (better start again)
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me (and then took it all away.)
Thoughts of roasting on an open fire.

Have a great weekend, and a happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Finally, I get to pick

I have always been on the fringes of the crowd when it came to my music choices. Not that what I've liked wasn't popular or common, it just wasn't so with the people who were around me. In the 80's I was really into Heavy Metal. The longer the hair, the louder the wailing guitar, the harder the beat, the better. But then that whole "metal is of the devil" craze swept the nation and my good-intentioned parents banned it from our house. 1991 & 2 was my junior and senior year in high school and the explosion of the Seattle sound. Everywhere that is except in my tiny little town. No one I knew seemed to appreciate that bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins were making music that would influence the rock music scene for years to come. And then I got my first real job and was forced to listen to Country 24/7. It got worse at my next job where everyone seemed entrenched in bad Pop music. At my present job, my head teller insists on listening to 70's and 80's easy listening crap and has had Christmas music on for two months. I love Christmas music, but I've started to develop a nervous twitch.

Like I said, it's not that the music I've liked over the years has been weird or strange. I don't have many cd's that are one-print artists or odd experimental sounds. Everything I like just doesn't mesh with my surroundings. So I usually don't get to choose what and when the music selections will be made. All that changed yesterday. My head teller is off for a week, and the rest of the tellers are young or hip enough to appreciate my choices. So since I had control of the satellite music controller, I quickly found a modern rock alternative station. It may not be the best selection for a bank but I don't care. I have my music for one week. And I'm loving it!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Funny

On a particular Christmas season a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip... but there were problems everywhere.

Four of his elves called in sick and the trainee elves who replaced them on the line were way behind schedule. When Santa went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were pregnant and two others had jumped the fence. When he started to load the sleigh, one of the floor boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys. Frustrated, Santa went in the house for an Irish coffee only to discover the elves had hid his whiskey. And then he accidentally dropped the coffee pot which broke into a thousand pieces all over the floor. He went to get the broom and found out that mice had eaten the straw it was made from. To make matters even worse, Mrs. Claus informed him that her mother was coming for a visit. Santa had had about all he could take.

Just then the doorbell rang. Cussing, Santa opened the door to see a little angel with a huge Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas Santa. Isn't it just a lovely day? And isn't this just a lovely tree? Where would you like me to stick it?" Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Have a Happy Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

An unexpected guest

Yesterday afternoon my district boss showed up at my branch to talk to me. I was taken aback b/c he's only been here maybe twice in the almost two years I've worked here. The bank is making some reorganization changes and my branch will be placed into a new district that he won't be in charge of. The reason for his visit was to wish me and my tellers well and to say goodbye. I did not expect him to even be thinking about us let alone make the hour trip to see us in person. He's a good guy, but still a surprise.

We went into my office and started bs-ing. We talked about general stuff for a few minutes and then he got very serious and very personal. He apologized for not coming down more and he apologized for not being more active in my transition into this branch. I won't go into the boring details of my first three months with this company, but it wasn't pretty. When I was offered the position I hold now, it was in his words, "mutually beneficial." I needed a branch and he had a branch without a manager. What he was apologizing for was the fact that he hadn't touched base with me since then to see if the position was still "beneficial" for me. His hole had been filled so he had put the situation to the back of his desk and his mind. I assured him that I was happy where I was at or I would have taken one of the three banks I'd been offered since if I wasn't. (His blank stare told me he didn't know I'd been offered other jobs. Oops. Oh well.) It was a good conversation.

Well, as is usual with me, I couldn't stop thinking about other stuff b/c of his visit. Relationships, acquaintances, etc. are interesting things. I spent two years at my last bank, and I was really close to the people there. But I keep in contact with only one person of the 15-30 people I knew there. Like I said, I was really close to those people. What happened? The previous job: two years, at least ten good co-workers and relationships, no contact since I left. The job before that: four and a half years, ten or so good relationships (even deep friendships,) I run into (by accident) one guy about twice a year. And my churches...I spent twenty years in one church and 8 in another. I was involved in a lot of stuff with a lot of people, and built some great friendships. Since I left, not much of anything. I feel like I should feel horrible about that. But then the "Well, that's life!" cliche comes out and everything's supposed to be fine. Really?

So much of life is relational. I've used this as a object-lesson on many occasions. Relationships are the very backbone of our culture. So why do we so quickly lose connection with people that were so ingrained in our lives for so long? Why do we let it happen? And why is it so easy to do? I don't have an answer, just my thoughts.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Live Music

Last weekend I had the rare opportunity to hear live music Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There really is nothing like live music. It's so real, and raw, and now! You can pop in a CD or spin a record and hear good quality music, but it's not until you see that band or that individual live and in person that you really experience the music straight from the source. You may hear a note, or a line, or even a song that you will never hear from that person ever again. I have a dear friend that can be brought to tears with the thought that the music she is listening to is so real and in the now and that the moment she's in will never happen again. She is so right...Live music that comes out of a guitar or a voice will truly never be heard again. You have one chance to hear what is happening at that one moment. If you don't pay attention you won't get a second chance. Once it's out, your memory of it is all that's left.

I have lived a blessed life when it comes to hearing live music. I grew up in the house of a great musician. In my young life I was exposed to so much of my father's music as well as the music of many others he would play/sing with. I myself was in a band with some of the best high school musicians to ever come out of my small town. When I was barely sixteen I was taken under the wing of what many in the Nazarene church considered to be the consummate sound guy. What he taught me enabled me to be a part of mixing and recording for more praise teams and worship bands than I can count; something I use and enjoy to this day. As I became an adult I had the pleasure of being surrounded by many friends who were musical and shared their art with me. I spent much of my young adult life in coffee houses listening, and sometimes playing with, live musicians. For the past decade I have sat and listened to more jame sessions and band practices than anyone I know. When I met Ell I was introduced to a whole new group of young musicians. Through some of those people I was able to experience the rise and fall of one of the greatest bands to never get signed. In the last couple years, a friendship grew between myself and an amazing musician with a heart for kids and families. That friendship has allowed me the opportunity to meet and hear even more musicians and their music.

I can't read or play a note of music (though I can mix it with the best of them.) But that has only made me love music and the people that make it even more. I love my CD's and records, but there's nothing like hearing it live. If you've never taken time to appreciate it, do so soon. When you do it, remember the music you're hearing is as real as music will ever get. Life is short, fill it with live music.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Cards

I have this very thoughtful post running around inside my head, but I'm not in a very contemplative or creative environment so I think I'll wait to spit it onto the screen until tomorrow.

What I want to talk about today is Christmas cards. We got two cards today in the mail (One from Kevin and Kimmy, thanks!) which brings our grand total this year to a whopping eight cards! Last year by this time we had over twenty. And that number was significantly lower than previous years where we would have like fifty or sixty by now. Now this low number could be due to any number of reasons........1) We have less friends than we had before, 2) People are really behind on their card sending this year, 3) More and more people seem to be getting away from the whole card-sending thing, 4) I'm getting older and my circle of acquaintances are dying out! Any of those are probable, but the #3 is the most likely.

As I've said before, we were one out of A-LOT of weddings when we got married. And there have been a lot since then too. On top of my family and Ell's family and both of our work associates and many other varied people, all of those couples sent out cards for the first few years. Which was why we got like 50 or 60 a year. Slowly, the number declined to the all-time low this year. It just seems like card-sending is a lost art or just a big waste of time for most people. Or for some, like us, it's a rather large expense. B/c of paying for Ell's schooling, we haven't had the funds. That sounds so bad, like we have our priorities all screwed up. And to be honest, I have felt pretty crappy about it both years. We really enjoyed picking out funny or hobby-appropriate cards to bring a smile to our friends/family faces. But buying and sending cards have fallen behind things like paying the car payment and buying firewood. Even though those things are important to us, I still feel pretty bad about it.

Well there it is......... My heart on a page. Not sure why it mattered to write about it. But there it is.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Funny

My head-teller sent me this in an email last week. It was too good not to share..........

We've all heard about people having guts and balls. But do you really know the difference between them? In an effort to keep you informed, the definition for each is listed below...

GUTS is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being met by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to ask: "Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?"

BALLS is coming home late after a night out with the guys, smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the butt and having the balls to say: "You're next!"

I hope this clears up any confusion on the definitions. Medically speaking, there is no difference in the outcome since they both ultimately result in death.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2006

My last few days

Saturday night I was one of five judges for the Toronto, Ohio Christmas parade. Besides it being really cold, it was fun. The parade was being taped and televised on a local cable station. The judges stand was set up on the back of a flatbed truck right beside where the cameras were set up. So when the performers got to us they stopped and did their routine or whatever right in front of us. There was a little girls dance group, some tumbling acts, a really awesome pop-and-lock type dance group, a karate school, three bands, three fire stations and their trucks, twelve floats, an old-school Harley biker club, a group of high school kids who had chopped/welded pedal bikes into some really interesting designs, the football homecoming court, all followed up by a super float with Santa. Toronto is a pretty small town, but they go all out for their holidays. It seemed the whole town was out for this thing. It was a good time. On a side note, the cameras were directly across from my bank so I got a lot of free advertising. Nice!

After the parade, we had our company party. It was kinda strange sitting in the lobby of the bank eating food and drinking beer. All under the watchful eye of the security cameras and the technicians on the other end. I bet they live for this time of year and people having parties at the bank. Hoping some people get drunk, maybe a fight or two, some dancing on the counters, that kind of stuff. We had nothing of the sort. We did a gift exchange, ate some cookies, and just sat around and talked for an hour or so. I have a really great group of tellers. In my years of working in banks, I've had the misfortune of working with some really worthless individuals. This group of ladies does not fall into that category. We all headed out around 9:30 and probably everyone went somewhere else to get their party on.

Yesterday, Ell and I headed to the local tree farm and got our Christmas tree. I grew up always having an artificial tree, and she grew up sometimes not having a tree at all. So we decided when we got married we would always have a live tree. I know, I know, tree hugger me killing a living thing. My justification is trying to plant at least one or two new trees every year to replace the oxygen givers. Anyway....... I went to church last night while Ell stayed home and tried to sleep off the migraine she woke up with. When I got home, our friends Andrew, Lyndsay, and Brad came over to help us decorate the tree. We got a little crazy and decided to make it as gaudy as we could. We put every ornament we had collected over the years on the tree. The tree has no empty spaces on it anywhere. It's pretty funny looking. To really complete the white-trash look, we cut the top of a beer can someone left at our house (since goodness knows the beer-snob I am ain't gonna drink beer out of a can,) and put it on the top of the tree as our star. It's classic! I may try to get a picture posted, but don't hold your breath! :-)

We finished off the night with the traditional watching of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. If you've never seen that movie, you have to rent it. No, buy it. You won't be disappointed. One more thing happened that was kind of funny. Our new kitten we found at the Street Fair, well she smelled the pizza we were eating and jumped up on the table. Someone saw her and yelled at her and she got freaked out and stepped into/dumped a whole thing of garlic sauce all over herself. The poor little thing was covered! Ell and Brad tried to clean her off, but she was still all greasy this morning. The other cats were "cleaning" her all night too. I felt bad for her but it was sooooooo funny!

My apologies...

... to those people who tried to read my blog on Friday only to find it all messed up. I tried to add some links and when I saved the changes, the whole thing went crazy. I'm sure it was blogger acting all stupid b/c no matter what I did, it wouldn't change the look. And then when I checked it Saturday night, it was back to normal with all the changes I'd made. Blogger can be rather frustrating at times, but then it seems to bounce right back.

... for not updating in a while. I "LOVE" to read about people's lives and hear about what they're doing, what they're family is up to, how much work sucks, and everything else. Those updates are nice little glimpses into people's live I'd never have otherwise. This morning I realized that in all my ranting about the cold, posting some jokes, and all the under mundane stuff I write about, (besides the ghost stories) I haven't talked about what's up with me in a while. So if you care, I'll do an update later today.

... for not posting more pictures. I got two emails this week from people complaining that I never post anything to look at. Well, my only excuse is that I'm not a very good photographer. Ell has had some really nice 35mm cameras over the years and my friends have some really nice digital cameras, but I'm a disposable camera guy. I really like taking pictures and those things are so easy to just throw in your pocket. And in fact, I actually take a ton of pictures. We have no less that 12 photo albums in our house just from the time Ell and I have been together. That's more than anyone else I know in that amount of time. I wouldn't mind having a nice camera, I just won't spend the money on that for myself. And I can't figure out how to transfer my regular-film pictures onto a digital format to post them on the blog. The only pics that have ever been on here have been placed by my sister Kristen or my wife. So that's why I don't post more pictures.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Sorry Kimmy


I hate how the snow covers the traffic lines and blurs people's memory of how they're supposed to stay on their side of the road.
I hate how the cold wind chills my old log house as it blows through the drafty walls.
I hate how the blowing snow blinds my eyes.
I hate how sub-teen temperatures kidnap the heat from my house if I'm not there to fight it off with flames in the woodburner.
I hate how black ice taunts you with its invisibility as you slide off an embankment or slam into another car.
I hate having to shake my customer's hand knowing they just wiped their nose or sneezed on it.
I hate having to see my lovely wife's body covered up with hats and coats and blankets.
I hate stepping outside or opening a window to get some fresh air and being blasted in the face with a cold sucker punch of artic air.
I hate the fact that cold air can never really be blocked out no matter how many clothes you put on.
I hate being terrified of wrecking my car on the bad roads.
I hate feeling like a fool when I get onto the main roads and they turn out to be fine.

All in all, I just hate having to go outside during this cold season. And I love to be outside. And that makes me hate winter. Maybe I just figured out why Kimmy loves winter... She rarely has to be out in it. Kimmy, the rest of us schmucks who haven't figured out how to pay our bills staying home six days a week are rather envious. Heck, we might even join in your exuberance of the season if we could just figure that out!

Did I mention that I hate winter?

Monday, December 04, 2006

I smell something fishy

This topic may be over some of your heads, or beneath some of you others, but I'm pretty annoyed about it so I need to get it off my chest.

The BCS system in college football is a farce. Two weeks ago Ohio State played Michigan in a battle of #1 versus #2. Both teams were undefeated and as such when Michigan lost they fell to the #3 position and Ohio State remained #1. Since that was the last game for both teams, everyone had to wait until the outcomes of the #2 USC game against UCLA and the #4 Florida game against #8 Arkansas this past Saturday to see who would play against Ohio State for the championship. Well, USC lost in a crazy upset which opened up the field for a Michigan/Ohio State rematch. Last night the BCS standings came out and they declared Florida the #2 team which means they will meet Ohio State for the championship.

Here's where I smell foul.........The BCS system has been under scrutiny ever since its inception. It was supposed to fix the problems that the previous system created. Unfortunately it has only caused new problems all its own. The fact that the sixteen-part computer ranking system could have placed OSU vs. Michigan in a rematch was something that supposedly could never happen. B/c of that the coaches across the nation were screaming that something be done. My theory, as well as many commentators on Saturday, was if Florida could win, then the head-cheeses in the BCS could escape criticism if they bumped Michigan out. Seemingly impossible since it's a computer, right? Wrong. Two of the sixteen parameters are completely subjective: Style points, and Convincing play. The points in these categories are entered on the opinion basis of the BCS ballot-eers. How easy would it have been to edge in favor of Florida to save face one more year and not have to revamp the system as the whole coaching organization was screaming for? I have a really good idea there was some unethical behavior in the decisions that came down last night.

I think this is sad. It's sad for the student athletes at Michigan who could have had the chance to play for the National Championship. It's sad for the coaches who could see the train wreck coming. It's sad for the fans who have been screaming for a playoff system for years and years.

As for the teams themselves, yes I think it would have been wrong for OSU to have to beat the same team twice to win the championship. But it's also wrong that if the strictly fact-based numbers in the computer system declared Michigan the second best team (which they did,) that Michigan shouldn't be given the opportunity to try. And yes I think Michigan has a better team than Florida. Henne had more attempts, completions, and touchdowns on the season that both of the Florida qb's combined. Michigan got 200 more rushing yards out of their running back than Florida did. Michigan's defense had more sacks, tackles, interceptions, and forced fumbles than Florida did. The Big Ten had more ranked teams throughout the season than the SEC did which relates to a much stronger "strength of schedule." In all statistical categories, Michigan had a better team than Florida. And they did it playing one less game than Florida did. Too bad we can't have them play each other to prove who deserves to be there. I'm pretty sure it would result in that rematch from a few weeks ago!!! Oh wait, that would be a playoff, and we can't have that! (Sarcasm intended.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Funny

Signs that make you go hmmm.........

Seen in Offices:
-Toilet out of order...Please use floor below.
-Would the person who took the step-ladder yesterday please bring it back...or further steps will be taken.
-After tea break, staff should empty the teapot, and stand upside down on the draining board.

Seen in Laundromat:
-Automatic washing machines...please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.

In a London department store:
The bargain basement located upstairs.

Outside a Secondhand Shop:
We exchange everything...Bicycles, Washing Machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?!

In Health Food shop window:
Closed due to illness.

In a farmer's field:
The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.

On a Repair Shop door:
We can repair anything. Please knock hard on the door, the bell doesn't work.

Have a great weekend everyone!