Monday, December 31, 2012

Daily Grind

Wow... I've been away from the keyboard for a few days.  More days than ever since I started writing this blog.

But the holidays are always a busy time.  Oddly, I had some free time because of some "use it or lose it" vacation days at work.

Last Wednesday, I ran around doing errands and other necessary things, including trying to find a replacement rim for the one that was bent on my Ford Fusion.

Thursday morning a friend and I headed to Toronto for a few days.

It was cold and snowy when we left, but the weather improved as we moved further east.

This trip wasn't the best I've ever had and I was kind of thankful to be headed back to Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

Frustration hit when my the data on my phone wasn't working and I had to find a WiFi connection here and there to stay connected to the world as we made our way to Detroit.

Saturday evening, we saw "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Detroit Opera House.  It was a fun, whimsical production of the Dr. Seuss book by the same name.

After the show, I made my way to Bay City to spend the night with friends.

Sunday (yesterday), I finally made my way home to simply veg on the couch. By late afternoon I was bored and ended up back in Bay City to hang with friends.

This morning, I again tried to get that rim for the car and dealt with the data issue on my phone. Both have made me a little crazy in the head.

I feel out of sorts, dazed and confused.

I know I do better when I have a routine in my life.  The daily grind, as they say.

So, I'm looking forward to Wednesday, January 2, when I'll be back at my desk with a cup of coffee and my regular routine.

A good daily grind isn't always a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

No more hustle and bustle for most of us. Christmas is past and today many people head to stores to exchange or return gifts.

It's Boxing Day!

No, it's not a day to put on the gloves and punch someone in the face.

Despite its name, Boxing Day (celebrated on December 26 in Great Britain) has nothing to do with a fight in the ring. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents.

While the exact origins of the holiday are obscure, it is likely that Boxing Day began in England during the Middle Ages. Some historians say the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but took the following day off.

As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes.

Today, Boxing Day is just one of the British bank holidays recognized since 1871 that are observed by banks, government offices, and the post office.

For me, Boxing Day is traditionally another day off work (vacation time!).

This year I'll be celebrating the day by running errands and seeing a long-awaited movie.

Whether you celebrate Boxing Day or not, enjoy the day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Luke 2: 1-20 (NIV)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Day Before Christmas

Twas the day before Christmas, when all through my head
I was hustling and bustling, my face turning red.
The stockings were flung on the floor without care,
In hopes that the laundry would no longer be there.

I worked in the morning, then right after lunch
I hurried home to get ready for the afternoon crunch.
Munching on goodies, stop by after three
Then off to church service, what time can that be?

Oh just for a moment, my eyes did I close
When a noise from my cell phone suddenly arose.
A question, an answer, a text, two or three
Is it really so necessary to keep bugging me?

To heck with the nap, I just had to say
It's time to get ready and be on my way.
Some games we will play and food we will dine
I'm sure my consumption will cross over some line.

During the worship the candles will flicker and glow
While the winds of the winter, outside will blow.
The songs of the season, the choirs with hymms
Will help us all feel much love from within.

Off to our homes at the end of the night
Wrapping the last presents, ah, the end is in sight.
Christmas Eve is upon us, there's no turning back
Our gifts are abundant, there's nothing we lack.

As we snuggle in bed, awaiting the big day
There is really just one more thing I must say.
This season is not about Santa and sleigh,
But about God's blessing, day after day.

Christmas is about the birth of the Son
The Savior, Redeemer, God's number One.
That is the reason, the season is bright
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Okay, so the world didn't end on Friday like the Mayans had predicted. But honestly, did they really predict it or just end their calendar there because they didn't see the point of creating a calendar they would never us.

Honestly, December 21 -- the winter solstice is one of my favor days of the year.  Light is returning to my world!

I don't mind winter so much, when there's a little snow that creates the beauty like that in this photo I found recently.

A wintery barnyard in an unknown location.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thanks for Reading. Goodbye!

I'm sure you've heard that, according to the Mayan Calendar, today will be the end of time.

If that's the case, then you probably won't be reading this blog anyway.

If today is the end of time, I really have more important things to do that try to entertain you.

If you believe today is your last day on earth, I really urge you to get off your computer and go tell someone how much you love them.

If you and the Mayans were right, I'm sorry to tell you that you won't be able to say, "I told you so!"  However, if you and the Mayans were wrong, I will be able to say, "I told you so!"

Sadly, Michigan schools have once again made national news by closing due to the distractions of the impending apocalypse as well as apocalyptic-fear threats of copy cat attacks like that in Connecticut last week.

As for me, I'm here and headed off to work.

If the Mayans were wrong, I guess it won't be the end of the world. (Matthew 24:36)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Movie Critique: Hitchcock

When you think of Alfred Hitchcock, you probably think of some of his more memorable movies: Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954),  Vertigo (1958)North by Northwest (1959), Pyscho (1960), The Birds (1963). All of them filled with shocking (for their time) twists and events that unnerve us all.

Hitchcock, the 2012 movie, is actually a love story between filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.

Shedding light on Hitchcock's own neurosis, we get a glimpse into the mastermind of suspense film-making.

We also learn that Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville, worked as an assistant director, a screenwriter and an editor on a number of films. According to the movie, she also directed some scenes in Pyscho (and presumably other Hitchcock hits as well) while Hitchcock was ill with the flu.

She also contributed her screenwriting and editing skills to Hitchcock's success.

While I loved the movie, it was a bit short (98 minutes) and shallow. Perhaps the movie should have been called "Hitchcock makes Pyscho."

It's worth seeing, but if there are other shows on your list, see them first.

Screened on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at AMC Great Lakes, Auburn Hills, MI

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's tragic.

No words can describe the horror that took place last week at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Innocent lives were taken. The pain is compounded by the age of the victims.

Our hearts ache. We weep for the families. We grieve as a nation.

Sadly, I see a national debate in the making.

Gun control has been simmering on the political burner for a while now.

And, as usual, it’s left against right. Red against blue.

Let me say here and now. I’m all about limiting who can own guns and the type of guns that can be owned.

There is no need for civilian to possess an automatic weapon. But simple handguns, rifles and shotguns are another story.

So many people sit back and use the “hunting” excuse for gun ownership.  That is the biggest pile of horse crap in this debate.

When the founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution and subsequent Amendments known as the Bill of Rights, they included the “Right to Keep and Bear Arms.”

But for what purpose?  For no other reason that self-defense.

I, for one, strongly believe in our Constitution AS WRITTEN. I also believe we need to keep our hands off the foundation of our democracy.

I own one gun. It’s a rifle that belonged to my uncle. I’ve never shot it and probably never will.

I never felt the need to own a gun.

Until now.

Now that there is a potential threat to this guaranteed Right, I am driven to go and buy guns before that right is taken away.

It’s tragic that the news media, politicians and fanatics of both political parties will use this, and other incidents, to fuel what will become a very heated – and very ugly – debate.

I grieve for the loss of life. I grieve for the loss of Rights.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Weekend

I have Sunday on the brain.

I was off work yesterday, spending most of the day at St. Mary's Outpatient Surgery Center in Saginaw with my dad (and brothers). Dad had some skin cancer on his nose that was pretty aggressive and the doc wanted it off ASAP.

All went well.

But having a day off, toward the end of the week, puts my internal calendar out of sync.  I kept thinking it was Saturday. That was especially true when I was watching "The Toys Take Over Christmas" at the Port Austin Community Playhouse last night.

It was a fun, one-act play with my friend James Childs playing the Captain of the Toy Solders. There was audience participation with kids being able to join Santa on stage a the end of the show.

After the show, I hung out with another friend and ended up spending the night in Bay City (Michigan).

Finally, with Sunday on the brain, I picked up a few groceries this morning, then headed home.

Since I have a day more than my brain is telling me, I think this may be a movie weekend.

Great Lakes Crossing 25, the huge theater complex at Great Lakes Crossing Mall, has three movies on my "must see" list: Anna Karenia, Perks of Being a Wallflower and Hitchcock.

I should be able to get my Christmas shopping done as well.

So that's pretty much my plans for the weekend... or at least this Saturday that seems like Sunday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Do you hear what I hear?

When you're having a conversation with someone, are you good at listening?

It seems more and more that people are in such a hurry to share their viewpoint or answer a question that they never really hear what is being said.

Then there are those people, most often when there's a group, who have to talk all the time.  They will change the subject of a conversation, speak more loudly and just keep the spotlight on themselves.

On my job as a Customer Service Manager, I'm often on the phone with people who do not what to hear what I have to say.  They really just want me to listen to what they have to say.

And that is the easiest part of my job! They will start out with a angry tone in their voice as soon as I pick up the call.  I often tell them that I'm reviewing the notes from our support staff, but please, tell me what is going on.

They're happy to have someone -- a manager -- listen to what they have to say.

I just sit there, making some notes and injecting an "uh huh," "right," okay," or "yes, I understand," into the conversation.

Once I've listened to what they have to say, all I need to do is acknowledge their concerns and I become the king of listeners.

How easy is that?  JUST LISTEN!

Sometimes a friend may need a shoulder to cry on.  They don't want to be told what you would do. They just need someone to listen.  Sometimes talking through an issue brings the solution to light for the talker.

So next time someone is speaking to you, or in a group, just listen!

You might just learn something.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days before Christmas

There's only 12 days until Christmas... It's coming fast, as usual.

And, as usual, I'm feeling the pressures of the holidays.

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.  I often feel pulled in several directions and there is never enough time to do all the things I want to do.

I have vacation time planned, but I also have commitments that will not allow me to vacate out of the hustle and bustle.

Happily I'm pretty much finished with the shopping.  A couple more gifts to pick up, but I'm pretty sure what and where to get them.

I'll keep pushing forward and soon I can whine about the boredom of January.

Cheers all!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 12:12:12

Does the headline above mean anything to you?

It represents a date and time.  Today, December 12, 2012 at 12 minutes and 12 seconds after 12 noon.

That very moment in time will be 12-12-12 12:12:12. (Some will argue that it actually happened just after midnight. But using a 24-clock, 12 after midnight is actually written as: 00:12. So there!)

Who cares right?

Perhaps no one. But I do.  I want to remember where I was at that moment in time because a date and time with all the same number will not occur again for a very long time.

For those of you trying to calculate that date, I'll do it for you. It will happen again on January 1, 2101 at one minute and one second after 1:00 am. That's actually 88 years, 19 days, 12 hours, 48 minutes, 49 seconds after the 12-12-12 12:12:12 moment.

So, unless you think you'll be around on 01-01-01 01:01:01, you might want to make note of where you're at, who you're with and what you're doing at this once-in-a-lifetime moment in time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7: "A day..."

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

This quote, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt tells the American people that Japan has attacked them, is well known as part of history. It allows me to easily recall the date when Pearl Harbor happened.

It was a turning point in World War II.

A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.

Just a year-and-a-half earlier, FDR had ordered the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a deterrent to Japanese aggression  The Japanese military, engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials.

In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.

By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan's diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines.

Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.

The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8 AM on December 7.

Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and over 2400 Americans were dead.

These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously divided American people into a level of purpose-driven unity. and resolve.

However, the memory of the "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on. Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan's striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse her conquests and remove her, and her German and Italian allies.

History was written and December 7, 1941 is a date that will live in infamy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ahead of myself

Somehow my internal calendar has gotten screwed up. I'm not sure how it happened, but I think it involves an earlier than usual Thanksgiving day coupled with some unseasonably warm weather.

All this week I've been thinking the date was one day ahead of the actual date on the calendar.  You know, I was thinking today was December 7th rather than 6th.

I think the Thanksgiving / Christmas / New Year season is so filled with things to do that people meet themselves coming and going. I know I do.

And it just about puts me over the edge.

But I keep pushing on knowing I'll be bored and wishing I had things to do come January 2. (January 1 is still part of that holiday madness!)

So, here I am rushing to blog a quick note to my friends who read this nonsense as part of my hectic daily routine.

That's my whine for the day.  Someone remind me about this blog when I'm crying about being bored on a cold winter weekend in January.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lead to believe

Not-Brewed Iced Tea in my book.
Have you ever been lead to believe something that turns out to not be as it appears? It can happen when you have an expectation based on previous experiences or maybe current implications.

Something that rubs me the wrong way is the iced tea dispenser at my local convenience store.  It clearly says "Brewed Iced Tea." But in reality, the dispenser is a mixer for water and an iced tea concentrate from a box under the counter.

Is that really brewed?

Technically, I suspect, the concentrate is brewed at the factory. But in my world, I expect freshly brewed iced tea. By the mere shape of the dispenser, I'm lead to believe that is what I'm getting.

Maybe I'm too literal with words.

This past weekend I picked up a few dozen cookies at a church bazaar. The ladies of this congregation were always known for their homemade treats.  I especially enjoy the delicious cutout sour cream cookies like my mother would make at Christmas.

Imagine my disappointment when I got home and realized that about half a dozen of the beautifully decorated cookies were actually frozen precut cookies from the food supply company.

Silly me. I was lead to believe by my previous experiences that all the cookies would be homemade. But I might have known that times have changed. Those great cooks are long gone and a new generation of working women, with jobs outside the home, are baking cookies for the bazaar.

Another example is when a group of men don football uniforms and call themselves the Detroit Lions. We expect them to play football and maybe even win a game now and then.

I guess it's all just an illusion for the mind.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


This wooden advent calendar is
shaped like a festive Christmas tree.
The word advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning an (awaited) arrival or coming. When the word is capitalized, meaning is changed to the arrival of Jesus Christ.

The season of Advent is the beginning of the Christian year as a prelude to Christmas Day. The Advent wreath is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

It's the time when we prepare for the return arrival of Christ.

Churches are often dressed with Advent wreathes and the addition of the traditional Advent color of purple. Advent calenders, with little doors/windows containing chocolate or small toy, are often given as gifts to increase the joy and excitement of Christmas coming.

Some people enjoy the practice of offering Advent prayers for the needy, peace, health and other blessings.

With the arrival of Advent, we know Christmas is near.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, 2012, is World AIDS Day. A day set aside to for awareness of preventing new HIV infection and living with HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS first became knows in the early 1980's. It was called a gay cancer because of the number of gay men, mostly in San Francisco, who were dying of a strange and unknown disease.

Since then, we're learned HIV/AIDS is not a gay health issue. It is a HUMAN health issue.

(Red) is an organization which has brought together the power of companies and people to fight AIDS. Their goal is to deliver an AIDS-free generation by 2015.

You can join their fight at: JoinRed.

If you have never been touched by the devastation of AIDS, feel blessed.

If you want to find out what you don't know, you can take this quiz.  If you learn something, share it with others.

You can make a difference in a generation that speaks of AIDS like past generations speak of polio.