Monday, January 31, 2011

What a funny, messed-up world we live in.

Take Don Imus ................Please!
The man is funny and he's oh so messed up also.
At times, and what I mean by that is, Most of the time, Don's staff and regular program cohorts are waaaay funnier than Don is.
Also Don likes to use the word "stupid" as an adjective. e.g. - He sings so well - - it's "stupid."
Well! Here's the funny part of Don Imus in the morning program

Changing to a non-related topic "Egypt's revolution."
The media can't get enough of it to please them. Every news outlet wants to have their say about it.
I empathize with the demonstrators that are attempting to bring about change in their country.
I empathize but that's about as far as it goes. I watch and I listen, trying to take in enough information to be able to talk about the situation in an informed manner. It may prove to be a hopeless goal for me. I'm an American. I already have what those people want. I didn't need to do what they are doing at this moment to get it. I honestly can't say "I know how they feel," and I'm glad it's that way. I am blessed beyond measure. Still, I feel like I can't just sit here, watching their struggle on TV and do absolutely nothing.

Do you know exactly how involved our country is and has been over the last three decades when it comes to Egypt's present turmoil? NO! Well, neither do I. I can't help but suspect that our government has influenced what is going on over there right now. We can't ignore all the finger-pointing that is going on around us. A lot of people are saying that WE did plenty over the years to keep the leadership they are trying to oust in power. I can't deny the accusation anymore than I can say the finger-pointers are right. I suppose that's because WE citizens were kept out of the loop or that we have been too apathetic to be informed. President Obama promised us a more transparent government but it's still like looking through a glass darkly.

This morning, after a great influx of information from my TV, I sat back to ponder the topic.
It wasn't long before I arrived at a conclusion, an obvious one. We as a nation cannot just sit back and watch things happen as I've heard and read so many people suggesting. Egypt didn't get here by itself, why do some believe they should get things straightened out on their own? There are forces afoot over there right now that are going to do all they can to steer this on-going movement in the direction they desire it to go. For all we know, the Islamic Brotherhood helped to bring this uprising about and even now are attempting to maneuver themselves into a position of power. I really don't believe that these demonstrators desire a fanatical, Islamic State to be their goal. They have said they desire "Liberty and Freedom" among other democratic sounding elements. I don't think they desire Sharia Law as their new basis for government.

They need a calm, assertive, peace seeking voice to listen to. I had the thought, so I may as well go ahead and suggest it. What they need is some one like this man
to listen too. To help guide them to the most logical outcome that will resemble what they truly desire.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Things that go KABOOM! during the daylight hours

What was that? I said to myself after I had regained my senses. Was it a sonic boom? Was it an earthquake? Is this the end of time and what I heard the sound of Jesus splitting the eastern sky?

It was approximately 2:55 pm; Maureen and Gail had just left the house, going shopping. The truck from Havertys had just finished delivering our long awaited, new, Italian leather covered love seat and I was trying it on for size. (see photo below)

Here I am; old double chin, fat and lazy, couch potato man.

The love seat you see here is so new, the leather hasn't had time to warm up to the ambient room temperature, which my wave controlled clock tells me is 70.6 degrees F.

You know, a man or a woman works hard for most of their life just to get to the point where they can spoil themselves. What you see before you is the end result of all that successful effort.

Just as I thought I had arrived, could relax and rest on my laurels, or in this case, our new love seat, there came such a noise, one that rattled the whole house and its foundation too. I jumped up from my seat, ran downstairs to look around and saw nothing out of the ordinary. I searched the whole house with the same results, then I put on my shoes and went outside to look around.

As I exited the garage, my neighbor across the street, who was standing in her doorway, shouted out to me, "Clarence, did you feel that?" YES! I replied. It shook the house and the noise was terrible. So far, I haven't discovered the source.

She came back with "I'm glad someone else besides me heard and felt it too. I was beginning to think I was imagining things." NO! You are quite sound of mind. I'm just glad to have someone to share the experience with. For a second there I thought I had drifted off to sleep and was dreaming the whole thing.

Back in the house I was still wondering what the heck it was. Suddenly it came to me. Maureen had mentioned to me the other day that some kind of work was going on down in the old Narrows road dip area which had been cut off from the new road construction. She mentioned that it was said, some blasting may have to be done. Was that it? Lord! I hope they don't need to do a lot more of that.

We will wait and see. I was going to call one of our local News stations to see if anyone else had reported any strange, new events. I guess I could drive over there and see what I can see from up on the top of the hill. If they are blasting down there, surely they won't allow anyone to enter the area. I think I will do just that. What can it hurt? Does the old saying "Curiosity killed the Cat" mean anything to you?

Over and out for now. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Smufficated by VOC's, suffering in back and knees

Last week I worked like a man possessed getting our little television room redecorated and modernized. Maureen furnished the design skills and I provided the labor and positive head nods whenever she asked me what I thought about a certain color of paint, kind of curtain or if this or that would look good here or there. I know my place. I have no opinion, not one that matters a great deal anyway.

As usual, the project began with the purchase of one major item. This time it was an Italian leather covered love seat composed of two individual recliners; powered recliners. That one item was incentive enough to get me moving in high gear.

The ceiling, which was yellow or tan, depending upon the available light striking it, was that color because at one time, both Maureen and I smoked cigarettes, required two coats of white before the nicotine was hidden. I have been smokeless now since 2004 and Maureen has been the same since we almost lost her on August 7th of last year. Thank God, she is still here and doing well. All of our lives are better since we gave up the habit.

The walls are some shade of tan now but not because of cigarette smoke. It's a vast improvement from the old color, whatever that was. It was some kind of Martha Stewart - K-Mart pastel rose.

You can see it here behind me in the photo.

We started out looking for something with low VOC's but the price was too high for Maureen's liking so we trucked on over to Lowe's and picked up some Val-spar super-thick, guaranteed to cover with one coat paint with the stink still in it. I still have a lingering headache. It's not bad, just nags at me a little.

The baseboards were a back-breaker and knees killer. I had to put down masking tape along the whole perimeter to protect the marvelous Pergo floor I installed several years back. It's some tough stuff and I probably could have cleaned off any errant paint but why take a chance?

The really difficult part followed the painting. Finding and installing a wall mount for our 32" LED, flat-screen television. Maureen and I discussed the matter at length before we hashed out where it would be mounted, how high, etc. I need to take some pictures to accompany this entry later before I click that "POST" button.

Here is how the TV appears from our normal viewing position and then a picture of the articulated arm mount where I located it on the wall. I was lucky to find a place with plenty of wood behind the drywall. It is very solid and able to support any TV we might mount there later on.

Another little job that turned out to be quite the challenge was assembling the furniture Maureen purchased to complete the transformation. That woman is good! Good at picking what she wants and supervising me while I struggled putting it together. Okay! She helped with the actual assembly - a little.

The narrow stand you see in the left photo is one of the assembly jobs. The other is the low bench you see next to a cute storage baskets stand in the right side photo.

I like the two items she picked up and had me mount on the walls. One says "Rejoice for His salvation" and the other says "Our house is just a little house but God knows where we live."

Then there are the other accents Maureen brought into the room, some from other locations around the house and those new ones she purchased. I believe she brought another accent home today after she and Gail went shopping for a time. She will get around to showing me where she wants it located some time tomorrow. I'm sure it will be as appropriate as the other items she selected.

The love seat is not due for delivery until the 28th of the month. Till then we will get by with our old seating arrangement. I can hardly wait till then. I wonder how long I can sit reclined, watching television before I drift off to sleep? I also wonder how quickly I will manage to sleep in my recliner all night long. It's gonna happen!

In the above photo you can see the old love seat we are currently using and you can get some idea of the new rug we found at a yard sale last fall. It's a perfect color and design for the new remodel.

Reposting "The Living Years" article

The Living Years


Who can know and understand all the ways or means which God uses to communicate with His children. I have heard His voice through many different vehicles and instruments; still I am often surprised by His methods.

Would God use the words of a secular song to reveal knowledge concerning a subject He wants us to be aware of? Certainly He would, if that was the only way to get His message across to us at the time. With Balaam, it was necessary to use a donkey for God to be heard by such a determined individual. For me, this time, it was a group known as Mike and the Mechanics.

Sometimes we seek God's help in a certain area of our life and when He answers we are distracted by something else and just are not able to hear Him. God is interested in every aspect of our daily life and desires to help.

Most of us have some unanswered questions, curiosities of life, about which we would like understanding. Perhaps those questions are connected with events in your own past, behaviors which you, yourself demonstrated and you believe them to be relevant to your present day relationship with a son or daughter.

Do you have a teenager in your house? Do you communicate well with them all of the time? Do you understand all you would like to understand about them? Are you confused at all concerning them? Do you ever look back at yourself when you were a teenager and see that your parents had much the same problems as the ones you may be facing now? Did you learn anything from all that reflecting, something which has helped you in your present relationship with your teenager? Did you see some mistake your parents made and say to yourself, "I won't be like that"; "I'll do things differently", and low and behold, in your efforts to do better, your solution to the problem only made things worse?

Don't you see that this parenting business is haphazard at best? It's trial and error, mostly error, learning from the mistakes you make as you go along, hoping that your mistakes won't have a long lasting affect on your child. You read books written by experts on raising children, or listen to other parents who have experienced similar circumstances, weigh all the advise carefully and then, painstakingly, place your other foot in your mouth.

The first time I heard "The Living Years", Kellie, my fourteen year old daughter, called it to my attention. She said "Dad, listen to this song, I think you will like it." I listened, and you know what, she was right, I did like it. I thought to myself, "My daughter is developing a better taste in music."

From that time on, I seemed to hear the song repeatedly, on the car radio, on TV and in the shopping malls. I don't believe in coincidences. That term is misleading and can cause one to miss out on a valuable learning experience. Sometimes, God has to knock on our mind's door continuously to get us to answer.

There was something about that song which stirred feelings deep inside me. They concerned a subject into which I had invested much time in thought. I was brought to tears at times as I listened to the perfect combination of words and music, and I was puzzled by my reaction. Finally, after several attempts to obtain my own copy of the song, I broke down and purchased a cassette from a local, discount outlet at the Florence Mall. For $6.99 I got that one song and not much of anything else. One bonus was the fact that the cassette cover had the words of all the songs that were on the tape, printed out on it. Not that I had any trouble hearing the words of the song as they were being sung. It just helped to have the words in print so I could study them and their possible meaning at my own pace.

One Sunday morning, as Kellie and I were getting ready for church, she was in the bathroom, the door was closed and I could hear that she had the radio on. Suddenly, I heard the familiar beginnings of that song again. She opened the door, announcing "Dad! here's your song again". I sat down in my desk chair to put on my socks and shoes, and as the music sped up and the words began, I felt as if my heart would break. "Every generation--blames the one before--and all of their frustrations--come beating on your door--I know that I'm a prisoner; to all my father held so dear--I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and fears--I just wish I could have told him, in the living years."

"Crumpled bits of paper--filled with imperfect thought--stilted conversations--I'm afraid that's all we've got--you say you just don't see it--he says it's perfect sense--you just can't get agreement--in this present tense--we all talk a different language--talking in defense."

Then came the chorus, it tore away at what remained of my own emotional defenses, and I felt crushed. "Say it loud--say it clear--you can listen as well as you hear--it's too late, when we die--to admit we don't see, eye to eye."

In my mind's eye, I could see the great gulf between generations. It seemed to be constantly expanding, growing ever wider. On one side is the parents; on the other, the children. The only way they can communicate over that great distance is by screaming the words they have to say to one another. Sadly, I could see just how true that whole scene was.

I wondered to myself, "Can even LOVE bridge that wide an expanse?" Are they so much like us that our relationship to one another is like two powerful magnets whose like poles repel, pushing away, increasing the distance between us? I felt so helpless at that moment; and there were more tears.

Why do we have such difficulty expressing what we feel to one another? Why do we pull away into seclusion and write imperfect words down on paper in an effort to relate, only to crumple the paper up and discard it before someone has the opportunity to read it? Perhaps, the act of writing it all down gives us some form of release, temporary relief, but left unshared with someone, what has it really accomplished?

I believe that most parents have met with that same rebellious attitude in their teenagers at times when they have attempted to correct or instruct them in what they see as some critical aspect of this life. Seeing that kind of attitude displayed; withdraw, back away from the situation, not wanting to bring further separation between themselves and this child which they love so much. This child, the product of parental love and concern, the very fruit of their own bodies; how can it appear so alien and remote from them? They are confused, undecided as to what action to take next. Will it be another mistake?

Then, guilt sets in. "It's all my fault; I've made them this way. I have passed on to them, all my own frustrations; all my own personal faults. They are only what I have made them." Yet, there is something inside us, which will try again when we see them heading for a fall. It's called LOVE.

I had to look up the word "STILTED" in my dictionary before I fully understood what the words were saying. "Pompous-Lofty-Formal-Stiff". Is that how our children see us? Do we make ourselves appear lifted-up, superior to them? Do we put on the pretense of being unable to make their kind of "stupid mistake"? Are we pompous in our attitude when we talk to our children? Do we lecture instead of discuss? I'm afraid, most of us do exactly that. The reason we know so much about it, is because we DID make those same stupid mistakes and are not honest enough to admit it to anyone, especially not to our own children. They have little enough respect for us now; what would they think if we admitted to something like that?

I believe that the chorus to this song has pretty much hit the nail right on the head. Someone needs to point out to both parents and children, that it is very hard to understand what someone else is trying to say if you don't listen. Not listening usually leads to more shouting and more hurt, more rebellion and more determination on the parent's part, to make their point understood.

Lack of communication skills leaves so much unsaid, and so much which is said, misunderstood. Parents believe that because of all the experience they have had at communicating, the full meaning of what they had just expressed to their teenager has been fully understood. They had expressed it such a way, anyone could understand it. The problem is, most teenagers seem to speak a different language. They have the ability to read a lot into the tone of one's voice and are very good at interpreting body language, as are parents. What does it take to gain the confidence of one's own child? Even when parents are completely honest and open, they are not seen that way because, in the past, they were always less than that, sometimes they were thought to be devious, divisive and scheming.

To continue; the second verse of this song says, "So we open up a quarrel--between the present and the past--We only sacrifice the future--It's the bitterness that lasts--So don't yield to the fortunes--you sometimes see as fate--it may have a new perspective--on a different day--and if you don't give up and don't give in--you just may be OK."

Does the present actually have a quarrel with the past? Being a parent; I know how much time I have spent reflecting upon my past. I don't care much for the phrase "The Good Old Days." How can we forget the painful experiences we knew while growing up and remember only the good times? How dishonest we parents are with ourselves and how selective are our memories. Of course, most of us had loving parents and there were plenty of good things to remember, but what about those childhood friends, the ones which turned on you, called you spiteful names and tore your simple world apart? There was no way for you to explain it to your parents so that they would understand. Some children are abused physically by their so-called friends, and the hurt went far deeper than any cuts or bruises could penetrate. The hurt is hidden away, deep within their young emotions and never expressed. Who can they talk to? Who would understand?

The root of bitterness; what a monstrous cancer to carry around all those years of a young life. It never shrinks, it only grows larger as more and more bitterness is held within. Is there such a thing a fate? Are some of us destined to unhappiness and conflict with the world around us? If we don't give up and don't give in to the forces pushing and shoving us in one direction or another, we may find that life will turn out all right. For so many teenagers who don't possess the patience, suicide is their permanent solution for a temporary problem. A calm and peaceful exterior displayed by your teenager could be covering up a raging storm of bitterness within. If parents can't take the time and find some way to express the bitterness that they experienced as a child, and assure their children that with time, their life will change; that bitterness could overpower and consume their future.

A new perspective; how does a person obtain one? Certainly not by ignoring one's position in life and hoping it will simply go away. There is an age, a time in everyone's life, when they realize that they are not a child anymore, and yet, they are not an adult. How confusing a time that is for everyone. I will say this; maturity has a way of changing one's perspective.

Parents know about change. They have found ways to adjust to those changes. The good old days are far behind them and their perspective is "NOW". Responsibility weighs heavy upon their shoulders, and doing everything right is most critical. But there is no assurance of doing everything right all of the time. There is no carved in stone method for raising children, because children are individuals, just like us. No two are identical. Don't look to me for any pat answers; I’m as confused by all this as you are. Giving the task your very best couldn't hurt, and love, though it isn't a cure-all, will bridge most of the small gaps.

There is one bit of wisdom I would share with parents and children alike, if I could. It is something I learned through my own mistakes, some advice that could make a difference; "COMMUNICATE". If you can't find the words to say what you want to say in a face to face talk, by all means, write it! Put those words, imperfect though they may be, down on paper, but don't crumple them up and throw them away. Forget about your pride and that perfect image you wanted to project to your children. It will help them to know that you were once, where they are today, that you didn't have the answers and needed to seek someone else's help, even if that help came in the form of a sympathetic ear, just someone who was willing to listen as you poured out all the hurt and all the bitterness which was building inside you. Sure, your children will present different circumstances which shape the problems they are facing, circumstances you may be unfamiliar with, but all that experience you have had is valuable; combining that with parental wisdom and logic and that special kind of love God grants all parents, you will work it out.

Imagine this, if you can; you will become the first person they turn to when they are facing difficulty in their young life; not the last. They could even present you with a problem that will stump you completely, but wouldn't it be great to know that they had the confidence in you to bring it to you for a solution? Should that happen, don't be ashamed or too proud to admit that you too, may need to seek outside help. It's enough that you were willing to listen and try.

The end of the song says, "I wasn't there that morning--when my Father passed away--I didn't get to tell him all the things I had to say--I think I caught his spirit--later that same year--I'm sure I heard his echo in my newborn baby's tears--I just wish I could have told him--in the living years."

How sad it is to say that parents have the most influence upon their children's lives, only after they have left this world. It's a sad commentary on the human state of existence. For the children, it's as if their parent's personality took up residence within the words and actions they recall. Ignored statements and bits of advice suddenly have meaning, or forgotten deeds of love and kindness take on a value never noticed before.

Love and dedication are never wasted on the young. Those heart to heart talks do sink in, slowly, that's for sure, but they do have value and are important.

There is a way to change this all too common outcome in human relationships; please try to find it for yourself and take action.

The living years are over and gone, far too quickly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Improving your TV News benefits

I know; it doesn’t sound possible and yet, Maureen and I have done it. Well, Maureen mostly but I helped. I was the one that had the idea to give her an I-Pad for Christmas. The palm computer has a slight learning curve. Maureen is a fast learner and it didn’t take her long to get the little beast under control and obeying her slightest touch.

One of the talking heads will introduce a news topic and Maureen is already there, scanning the pages of info, pausing only long enough to share something interesting with me.

What can I say but “She Loves that I-Pad.” I must also say “it is one fascinating piece of technology.” Well Done Microsoft!

The news media gives us some of the news but her I-Pad gives us the rest of the story.

Those apps it offers either FREE or for a small charge only make the I-Pad experience more fun. Open it up, say something silly and wait for the cute cat on the screen to repeat it back to you, only in a different voice. Who knew that an expression like What-sup could cause such laughter?

Maureen is hooked on a certain ball rolling through a maze of holes game. She plays it for hours at times and she’s becoming very skillful at it. I wouldn’t even try it. My hands shake way too much and I get frustrated quickly.

I guess I should close this out and get to the painting job that now hovers over my awake hours. Our TV room is in shambles and the furniture delivery deadline looms large. Must be ready! That’s my mantra now.

It’s snowing here in the tri-state area. The latest winter storm is overhead and not moving out fast enough for my liking. No one can agree on how much we will end up with but for sure … it will be more than I need.

Ta-Ta. See you again when I’m not under so much performance pressure. They don’t have a pill to help with painting … YET.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Have you got a minute? Can we talk?

I hate those news network "hooks;" you know, those short blurbs they throw out there at the beginning of each segment, statements that usually cause one to lay their remote down, sit back and expect to hear The rest of the story. Suddenly it sinks it - - - what they meant was - - - just sit there you stupid sucker; we will share the rest of it much later. All we wanted was for you to stay with us and we knew that unless we used some kind of bait, you surely would move along to something else.

Fox and Friends is turrible (Charles Barkley bit) about it but they are not the only ones to do it.

This morning they started out with "Certain non-documented aliens had their day in court and after the gavel came down, they were informed that they would be deported back to Mexico." Continuing on "Their response to the verdict and sentence was "if I had known that deportation was a possible outcome of my case, I wouldn't have pleaded GUILTY."

Then they added - - - and you know what; it just may get them a new trial.

Instantly, the short hairs on the back of my neck and elsewhere on my body started to tingle, kind of like Spiderman's spidy sense does to him.

What ever happened to "Ignorance of the law is no excuse?"
I've heard that saying most of my life.

Here's what I know for sure - - - should you or I visit another country and do anything that violates one of their laws - - - we would certainly experience the full punishment that their law allows and simply stating "I didn't know about that law or the resulting punishment" wouldn't alter the outcome one iota. In fact, in some certain countries, we would disappear behind some bars and never be heard from again.

I also heard on another station that one of our elected officials wrote up a bill for consideration and a vote to have the use of the phrase "illegal alien" by our nation's news networks, done away with and replaced by UNDOCUMENTED Alien. I experimented with a version of that in a previous paragraph; did you notice? I wrote "non-documented." It didn't feel right to me just typing it when I knew I should have written "illegal alien." That's a lot more accurate word usage.

LOOK! I know and so do you, there is not one living human being on this earth that doesn't know what will happen if they "SNEAK" into any other country, by-passing the offically recognized entry process, that if they are caught later on, one possible outcome is going to be deportation.
That's one of the better possible outcomes. Even the Canadians don't like it when one of us "sneak" into their country and they are on good terms with us. It's too easy to get into Canada using the official method and vice versa.

I don't get it anyway. What takes place at one of our official border crossings with Mexico? Isn't it sort of like the way we deal with Canada? Sure! they check vehicles for illegal substances, but does every person that crosses our southern border need to produce "papers" that permit them to come into this country for a quick visit? My wife and sister-in-laws have crossed into Mexico to shop several times while we were visiting them in California. The process sounded very easy to me. No muss, no fuss. I know for sure that busloads of school children cross our southern border every weekday morning to attend school in the US.

SO ... tell me ... what is it that makes some Mexican citizens feel that it is necessary for them to sneak in or be smuggled into our country? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Either way, if they are in our country for an extended period without registering to be processed the official way, they are and should be classified as illegal aliens, and that's that. If and when it is discovered that their status is "without authorization to be present in our country" how can they possibly believe that they won't be deported back to Mexico after they are found out?

I've heard many people say "Well ... they are working and paying taxes; why shouldn't they be allowed to stay?" I know our tax system is very complicated, BUT ... how does someone who doesn't have a visa or greencard get into our taxing system "LEGALLY?"