Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Struggling to stay

So I changed employers again after my former employer renigged on assurance that he would do all in his power to keep me. The trouble now? Well, as a 60 year old, I'm discovering that I don't deal with staying up all night to stay to the same sleep schedule if I'm not working!

Last night, my wife said, you stay up, take me to work in the morning, and then you can sleep. I've had coffee, eaten an orange, wrapped a banana in a tortilla with some peanut butter, had 3 fun size 3 Musketeers, played games on the computer, watched a movie, watched sports, avoided infomercials, and am hanging on the ragged edge of drifting off into la-la land.

Currently, I'm blogging and watching the Tonight show. My lovely bride should be getting up soon, then I just need to hang on long enough to get her to the store and make it back home!

My lesson this post? That I simply ain't as young as I like to think I am.

However, the schedule I have at work continues the trimming process on weight. In getting ready for this job, I purchased new jeans - down from a 48 when we moved here to a 42 in less than 6 months. And I purchased a new belt this last week since the others wrap around me from the middle to the left hip. I've heard others talk of doing much the same.

For the most part, I get along well with my coworkers, and Bob and I (who were hired at the same time) seemed to have gotten a bit of a reputation for dealing well with paper goods and chemicals - which includes laundry products, dish products, cleaning solutions and powders, air fresheners - that sort of thing. We keep getting singled out to deal with those. I've had a little experience with pets, and have offered help on other grocery aisles as needed.

My wife's alarm just went off, so time to go and help keep her moving to get her to work on time.

Peace, and less weight!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a birthday!

Turning 60 was really something! My daughter got tickets to the Denver Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs at Invesco Field. We arrived really early, stopped at the restrooms and found our seats. The section slowly filled, and we were lucky enough to have nice people on either side of us. The couple next to my daughter was a unequally yoked couple - he was for KC, she was for Denver - and the two next to me were two young guys. We shared stories, comments, angst over difficulties and screaming deliriously at the good plays. The shouting of celebrating fans was audible two blocks away.

Unfortunately there were obnoxious people for both teams - an unfortunate part of professional sporting events. There was an inebriated KC fan a few rows above us that spilled beer on the two people in front of him, and yelled offensive comments at the woman who rides the horse across the field for touchdowns. And there were drunken Denver fans that heckled KC fans offensive ways.

And my wife bought the expansion for World of Warcraft so I would be on the same level as my daughter, with whom I game regularly. AND I got to spend time with our grandson!

Turning 60 was no problem at all, in fact it was pretty doggone NICE! So don't worry about it, aging old is natural, but you don't have to grow old! I'm proof, and enjoying every moment of it!

Peace, and remember the Broncos won on my first trip, for my birthday!!! ;-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Don't listen to the hype

Well, I went and talked with my boss, told him finances were really tight and if I didn't find a way to have more money, I'd have to look elsewhere - like an overnight stocker at Walmart. He told me I was the one person on staff he really didn't want to lose and he postulated that I'd be photo team lead with an increase in pay and mentioned the 6 month raise of 3% that would put me within range of that overnight stocker position with the premiums I've been earning. Sounded really good!

Then this week, he began to waffle. He showed me reports that said the coworker I was in competition for this position had beaten me in every category in the last month. Today I went in and he informed me he "had to give it" to my coworker based on the month's report. I've had an assistant manager telling me I would be it. Today that coworker came in to help unload the truck and stock shelves - I was pulled out of the lab to work truck and he was put in the lab.

So I have a pretty clear picture of my role in this store! If I'm offered a full time, permanent position at the other "W," I'm gone and no regrets. I've worked my backside off to earn that position since the store opened in late July, to be told one month was enough for me to lose it. Not even my coworker can believe it, and has been apologizing to me for getting the position. I'm telling him it is not his fault, and I mean it. My frustration is with a 30 year old boss that doesn't have the hutzpa to be boss.

Another lesson learned! Peace!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Visits

We learned a very difficult and trying lesson of life this last weekend. Thanksgiving came, and brought our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. Unfortunately, my wife started a new job just a very short time before they arrived for a large retail corporation. She couldn't get time off , though she had asked for it. I was able to ask for and get time off. It is very hard for her to deal with because she loves our son and his family very much. Of the 3 full days they were here, she got to be with them less than 4 hours. That included a family dinner.

Our grandson is such a cheerful baby that it is hard to believe, and we got some wonderful pictures of 3 generations, including our grandson in the dress his great-grandfather wore as a baby.

This visit was complicated by the decision of her parents that they would make their snow-bird trip to Las Vegas now. So, while we tried to enjoy the first visit with our son's family since June, we also were caught marginally in the hectic pack and stack of getting ready for their move. Her sister was nearly run ragged trying to appease, pack and shop for them. She was also the chief aim of their confused state during all of this.

The lessons? Simply that life happens! You never know for sure what life will throw at you as you try to plan for events like this. And, be ready, because when you are trying to celebrate, life just might toss in a lemon or three!

My lovely wife's greatest concern is that our son understand she tried to get time off, and couldn't. I've tried to assure her he does understand, often not having time off when we used to visit. But the emotional loss of not visiting and not playing with our first grandchild, coupled with the emotional and physical stresses of Black Friday are not allowing her to accept that.

I will continue to assure her, and to mediate the different views until we are able to reach some balance, and gain some perspective.

I hope you will do the same. For far too many people are caught on the horns of puzzles and conundrums they cannot fathom. We need to start helping them find that balance!!

Peace and happiness this holiday season!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happiness or Bills

There is a lot of talk around our country today that we should be looking for jobs that make us happy, that happiness is the most important factor. It sounds great, doesn't it? Don't worry about finances or how your "happy job" affects those around you, just find a job you enjoy.

Well, let's look at that a bit more closely from a couple of angles. First, the job you enjoy might not be one you are particularly good at, or that people think you are good at - for whatever reason. Does that make for a good career choice? Perhaps that answer to that depends on why others think you aren't good at your career - is it because you really cannot do what needs to be done, or is it that you challenge the comfort zones they don't want challenged? Or consider the overweight, out of shape bloke who figures his happy job is NFL quarterback or corner back.

From another angle, if the family's finances are tight, and another job will offer greater pay, thus a bit more breathing room - do you stay happy or change jobs? That pressing question looms in my own life now, and I have to tell you that at this point there is no debate. Happiness will not be the final decision maker. I need the finances, so I'll make the change - because I'm sure the corporation that I currently work for won't be willing to match the possible pay rate of another job. Even if this turns into a short term job, the greater amount of money will be the deciding factor. If necessary, I'll look again.

I've found that I can do many things, and sometimes, happiness in work is highly over-rated. You can make happiness by doing what you do well, taking pride in what you do, and offering what help you can to your co-workers and supervisors.

So, consider carefully when you need to make that decision, but I'll hope you don't face it often, because it can be a tough decision.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Take a lickin' and keep on tickin'

Yesterday I arrived a work and started the Start-up checks, only to have the printer jam, repeatedly,with nothing that I could find to correct the problem. Calls to the tech line only delayed the inevitable, and finally a service call was instituted. I went to lunch, despairing of the day's ability to right itself.

One of the assistant managers came up to the break room to say the technician had arrived, but was doing fine without me. When I came down, he was one of those who had helped set up the lab, and recognized me. He showed me how to correct the problem, and gave a few other tips. While this was happening, another assistant manager arrived to close, and questioned whether I had mentioned wallets not printing right - instituting a battle over who controlled the printer -- me trying to catch up, or the tech trying to correct a persistent problem.

I turned the lab over to my relief after pointing out ALL the rolls of film yet to be developed or processed. The tech was glad to see me go, because my relief didn't argue over control. But I heard that when he left, the screen was still full of internet and kiosk orders, and she was told not to process ANYTHING until the screen was empty.

Thus I came in this morning to finish the last couple of orders, call people to let them know orders were ready, or rolls hadn't developed in a manner they would want.

My lesson from this? Simply that Timex was right, we need to learn to take a lickin' and keep on tickin' - as John Cameron Swazey used to say. The tough stuff of life is only a momentary difficulty. What is good will end - but so will what is bad - so we need to keep on keeping on - push through the momentary distractions, keep helping, working, smiling and laughing. Keep finding good even in the bad, or because of the bad.

"What?!?" you ask. Let me illustrate with a story I've used several times, about a single mother (how she became single isn't important) who worked as a waitress in a truck stop. She did her best, and as Christmas approached, wondered how she would make Christmas real to her children - only to find her car with new tires, food for Christmas and boxes of presents for her family as she exited on Christmas Eve. Her life was nearly overwhelming, but by smiling and doing her best for those whom she served - life had a bright spot as others reached out.

So keep on ticking no matter than licking you might get, and you will find there is good all around.

Think about it! Peace!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Laugh a little

Well, another lesson of life is the need for humor! Take today. We got in the car to run a couple of errands, then drive to the town in which my wife and I work. The radio was on a classical station, there was a score playing that made me think the car was having MAJOR issues - until I heard the drum-roll at the end of that score.

We both had a good chuckle over my "WTH?" moment. That is something we need desperately in our lives right now - the ability to laugh, even at ourselves. We aren't all THAT important, after all; nor are we all that serious! Think I'm wrong? Take a look at what's still coming out of the elections - that Obama is going to establish a Marxist dictatorship, that Bush is the model of clear speak, that Sarah Palin is the victim without an justification - even though she continues to speak all manner of untruths, out-right lies, deliberate obfuscations.

If we aren't a laughable people, I don't know what is! A graduate school instructor once told a class I was in, "If you don't think God has a sense of humor - LOOK IN A MIRROR!" I remind myself of that as one of the most important lessons I was taught, and am still learning!

Think about it! Peace!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

"So Much Hate in the World"

Keith Olbermann has hit the chord that needs to be hit again, and again, and again, endlessly - how do you continue to support hate and discrimination while you claim to follow a religious leader that said, "Do to others what you would have them do to you."? How do you claim to follow one who welcomed all who came to him, and deny those who would come? How do you claim to follow one who called for love to be the over-riding foundation of your life, and spread hatred, prejudice and malice?

Do I have some grounding to understand this statement I share? I believe I do! You see I grew up in a family where my grandmother hated blacks and "she would cross that street rather than walk on the sidewalk with a black person." I grew up in a family where Mexicans were reviled, even though they were better neighbors that the whites next door. I grew up in an atmosphere that was rife with the same attitude stated in the first paragraph of this post. I found, through experience that Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons are all just that - persons!!!!!

It is time, past time, more than time that we stop the same religious sham used to stop Blacks from having freedom, that took land and freedom away from the native populations of this continent, that kept women from voting, that even refused to recognize that two persons whose skin was a darker shade than the "dominant" race could marry, that is more concerned that persons from a bordering country might come in and take jobs our own citizens WON'T do. Again, I'll claim personal experience - and I'll share that our prejudices lead those "others" to extend the same treatment right back at us - out of that same personal experience. But I've also experienced those hated, shunned others being the ones who gave mercy, compassion, and acted the very love Christians claim as the foundation of their lives - BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT JESUS WOULD DO!!!!! What would Jesus do? Certainly not what we ARE doing!

Think about it, really think! Peace!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We have done it!! Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States of America!! This is HISTORY!!! We have shown the world that we aren't that the slavery, racist place that we have been seen to be - we have shown that we are able to see the person apart from the color of the skin, see the possibility of change, see the hope that is real and new and powerful!

I have never been prouder of an election than today! I have never been as overwhelmed by an election - we have found an amazing grace where whites, blacks, Asians and others, men and women, young and old, straight and gay stand together and weep for joy that old prejudices have been overcome.

But as the scenes of McCain's concession speech shows, we see that there is a hell of a lot of work left! Why doesn't one side believe that they alone have the right or the power to determine the direction that our country will go? Thank God Senator John McCain is prepared to offer gracious concession, and the courage to stand up to his own supporters. We MUST work beyond the prejudices of the past, and we MUST learn that one party alone cannot make all the changes necessary - we only accomplish all our dreams when we work Democrat and Republican, men and women, young and old, all races, all faiths, all persons valued for whom they are.

May this be first step in healing all the hatreds, all the broken relationships that have been a part of history. May each of us take every opportunity to move things forward - to hold hands out to one another when we honor our true nature - one person relating to another, simply that - persons in the midst of a life we all share. I would challenge you to do just that - help us move America back into foremost place of showing what life can be, what the values are that we have to stand for, and where we might learn to agree to disagree.

Blessings to all the "disenfranchised" who stepped forward to make an historic election! Peace to all, as we move forward into a new era! I am so proud, so happy!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Two things have led me to write about this word frustration. The first was an experience at work today, when I was being swamped and asked for assistance, only to have the responder act as though I was an idiot who didn't know what I was doing. My primary computer screen was tied up, I was unable to do what needed to be done because I kept having other things intrude, and my frustration grew. I was nearly spitting mad! The result? My helper admitted three times and apologized for having been wrong in the information shared. I think part of my frustration came from past experiences of the same type of behavior, complicated by deprecations about the machinery in the lab. Grow up, pal! This is what we have, and it isn't likely you will talk the corporation into adopting your philosophy! Do your job, allow me to do mine, and let's work for the betterment of the company that employs us!

The second is listening to one particular stripe of citizens in the last few months. Without checking facts, or perhaps because they can't refute the plan and arguments of a truly remarkable man, Republicans seem stuck on shouting personal attacks, offering lies and ignoring the very activity in their own party that they condemn in the Democratic party! I mean, really, the latest is the Barak Obama will be returning a campaign contribution from his aunt - why? Because someone has said she MIGHT be here illegally - has anyone stopped to think this country was founded by illegal immigrants in the sense that we think of it? Did the aboriginal populations ask the Northern Europeans to come here? No! Did they rush them into deportation proceeding to get them gone? No! But here we are with the Statue of Liberty highlighting our desire to be the refuge of the tired, downtrodden teeming masses, the huddled poor, etc. - trying desperately to become isolationist and put the lie to Lady Liberty!

Can you tell there is frustration? What have I done about it? I found a way to bleed off the frustration about work, and I voted early as well as volunteering for the man I think is the best hope for our nation at this time - Senator Barak Obama, whom I sincerely hope will be elected on Tuesday, November 4. I use gaming to bleed off some of the frustration. I allow humor from a fellow I've come to admire for his insight and willingness to voice the other peoples' anger and frustration - Kieth Olbermann, keep up the good work!

So, with election day coming, remember! If you don't vote, don't bitch! And this year we are throwing off the apathy of the last several decades of voting, because one man, Barack Obama, tied into the information-sharing habits of our youth, turned the Internet, texting and grass-roots organizing into a powerful political tool! Cast your vote, for whomever, because it is the right thing to do!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Comment on Voting

My daughter's college classmate and friend, Marty, posted that after a number of people voted in one locale, a directive came down to "recalibrate" the machines to compensate for voter error in touching the screen "but not inside the box" for their choice, and the speaker noted they were doing all they could NOT to disenfranchise anyone."

The problem? Think Florida, think two STRAIGHT elections, think a REPUBLICAN secretary of state that ignored civil rights violations in making it impossible for whites, blacks and others to vote, clear concerns over the whole process as shown by independent monitors. So why now are we to unquestioningly accept that nothing will occur that is unsavory, disenfranchising, illegal and rotten? Think of the days when, in more than one locale, people voted before they were old enough, after they were dead, or frequently. Why now do we assume all is well.

The solution? I think there does have to be some trust from voters to state elections boards, but I also think everyone is best served by some independent - say English, Canadian, Swedish, Swiss or others watching our elections as we have others watch foreign elections. The truth is that our own elections have never been all that far from the difficult elections of others.

Think I'm kidding? Think about dogs and fire hoses, clubs and sardine conditions in jail cells for blacks seeking their rights in the south. Think of voters turned away from voting sites because the voting hours had expired, even though the reason they hadn't voted yet was due to problems inside. Think of people refused the chance to vote over issues that were clearly manufactured.

Perhaps we don't have armed guards killing all those who voted "wrong," but what is the difference of a person's right to vote denied through death or some slick procedural maneuver that is never successfully challenged, because the power-brokers were the controlling party that did all they could to make sure nothing would come of the challenge. Yes, one has one's life, and one doesn't. That is significant, life changing! However, both leave the voter wondering what the point is.

That is what makes this election so important. A candidate has decided to use the tools the young use to get through life, and has done so more effectively than any candidate has ever done. A candidate has shown that "he" can reach across the aisle, through the curtain of several hot button issues and bring people together. I recall hearing of Republicans showing up at Obama rallies with some trepidation, to be informed there were many others there. Now we listen to Republicans of prominence endorsing a Democrat for President, because they feel he has the better plan for the next four years (may it last far longer than this candidate!).

I would challenge people in places where there are concerns to make yourselves knowledgeable, and present at election sites, observe but don't interfere unless you find clear indications of efforts to sway the elections. Be willing to speak out, to be public and to defend the rights of anyone to their opinion and voting choice. This I say from the perspective of having spoken outside my official capacity as a pastor, and defended the rights of everyone to their vote - even when I strongly disagreed with - because that is the American way, and, I believe, the way of the Master I serve and follow.

Let's begin to make our country once again the ideal that draws others to come to this place where everyone has the possibility of achieving the dream. Let's show the world why we became the goal, what we truly have to offer - respect for one another, and the American ideals.

Think about it! Peace!

Friday, October 24, 2008

News Commen

A comment on the news tonight prompts me to add to the blog - the word used in conjunction with the upcoming elections was complacency - one could also read apathy. Why would this lead me to write? Because too often in all areas of life, I have seen needed change fail simply because people didn't want to put themselves out, didn't want to take a stand, didn't feel comfortable enough around family and friends to be able to speak their mind - do what they knew was right - decided they just didn't matter!

What's wrong with our nation that people feel THEY don't matter? Wasn't this nation founded on "government for the people, by the people and OF the people"? When did we lose the will to be the government? Was it when politicians decided they knew better than we what we wanted? Because we could have voted them out - even if WE were wrong in that action. Was it when networks started "projecting" who won, long before WE got to the polls - because the media never makes a mistake, right, Mr. Dewey?

What it really comes down to is this - simply stated - WE STILL CONTROL THE GOVERNMENT WHEN WE CHOOSE TO!! If we pay attention, and apply more than simply fear (the great weapon right now of the Republican Party) and actively pursue our citizen rights and DUTIES, we can determine the direction of our government.

THAT is a lesson that is sorely needed among all ages, professions, races and people in this great land - for then we can begin to right the listing ship, find the course we were truly set upon by the founders of our nation and recognize that because there is a D behind my name and an R behind you doesn't make either of us demons trying to destroy the nation.

So I issue a challenge to all, look to the person who you face in a discussion. Be proud of your convictions, but open to learning something that might change them. Watch your legislators all the way up or down the line and if they don't live up to their oath of office, vote them out of office. Don't EVER let someone belittle, shame or intimidate you into giving up your rights as a citizen of this country. Don't EVER view this land as perfect or God's chosen image of society, because we are far too small, far too little of mine and far too finite to make those considerations!

Vote, or don't bitch about what happens in the nation afterward. I might be disappointed in the results, but if thinking, caring, God (by whatever name) fearing people speak, I'll abide the decision and work again and again and again for the changes I believe are necessary for us not to simply become another failed society in world history.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hard Times

We've all been listening to the news about the economy. People are losing their jobs, their homes, their sense of self-esteem. Yes, it is tough! Yes, the threat level seems higher than most can deal with, the frustration level high enough to drive people to desperate measures. After all, probably 10 years ago (yes, 10) I recall hearing of a man and his son who took out second mortgages on their HOMES to fly to Florida and by thousands of dollars of PowerBall tickets! They didn't win, and now are saddled with debt that may well have destroyed marriages and lost homes. Was it worth it?

Sometimes, in America, we are so focused on the so-called American dream that reality has no bearing on our decisions or judgments. We are currently at about 1/3 the salary I had before. We are struggling with bills, with housing, with medicine bills, with questions about the future.

I was essentially fired from a church that refused to do what they asked me to do when I was called as their pastor. I have enjoyed, I must say, being able to work a regular job and come home without carrying the job's problems with me. But the economical realities and my own self-professed satisfaction with the role as pastor - despite all the hell pastors are put through - lead me to consider seriously - very seriously - the possibility of returning to that boiling pot called being a pastor.

Now, I'll assure you, I'll be as careful as I can be to choose a church where my view will not be more radical than the majority, but the reality is that churches tend to present an image they THINK a new pastor would like to see; and we do much the same. In the process things said in the process get lost! And in a denomination where there is little to no support for the local pastor in that situation, that is a deadly combination in many situations.

So why would I go back - for the same reason that executive takes a lateral to another company when he or she would really rather take off and start a whole new career - perhaps writing books, or building homes, or guiding hunters, or . . . . We need the money and we find a certain unexplainable satisfaction in what we feel we are pretty darn good at doing.

I happen to think that I do a pretty darn good job of interpreting scripture to the congregation, but unless people are willing to hear how our holy writ REALLY addresses life in our time, my penchant does no good whatsoever. I've become Paul's clanging gong - only from the wrong end of his lesson. I like to tell myself I'm walking in the shoes of the disciples.

So, what's the life lesson in all this? That sometimes, in spite of drawbacks, we need to go with where our heart is - for me that's back into those troublesome organizations called churches. What's your area of satisfaction, in spite of the difficulties and hardships? Think about it!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ow! The Car

We had an "ouch!" moment yesterday, when my beloved took the car in to find out WHY we had a horrible sound all the time, driving, stopping, starting - only not making that sound only when it was idling and not moving. Turns out the calipers had frozen in such a way that the rotor and disk were also destroyed. A bunch of money later, we are driving a car that isn't making sounds it shouldn't and we know our tires are good.

On a similar note, winter has finally put in it's first introductory notes with much colder temperatures - and we have no heat in our apartment. We tried turning it up to get some heat - though we will set it probably about 65 for the winter. We have tried to keep our heat temps down and our a/c temps up to save energy. I'll call tomorrow on about 3 different issues - the apartment, clarification on an account and returning a business call.

Life is full of uncertainties, and with the economy doing as it is, we are feeling even more of the financial struggle of most of the nation. Many struggle with how do we pay the bills? I've discovered that I may need to go back to the career that has been mine for 30+ years to my surprise, dismay and frustration. I have made a career of being a pastor; finally, filled with anger at the denial, betrayal and two-faced approach of some of those who claimed to be friends and supporters, I decided that I would do something that I could walk away at the end of the day. That I have done, but I can't make the money I did there, and I almost need to do so in order to make ends meet and life look better.

I'm learning that not even the church is immune to the influences of the culture at large - meaning that we have just been notified that while we have participated in the denomination's medical plan for nearly all of that 30+ years, if we leave the plan and reenter, we will need to provide proof of good health - from two people with asthma, hypertension, and other issues of health they have covered.

Life's lesson - evil and greed can make their power felt anywhere that the crack is left open for them. As much as you think you are immune, you ARE NOT!

So learn to live with compassion and grace, so it will be there for you when you need it. We found it in some surprising places over the years, and it helped us continue our efforts to help people discover the true meaning of Christian faith - that all are welcome before God if they come in humility and honesty to God - me, I'm just an intermediary that has no real power outside of what you allow me as I try to help you.

May the grace and peace of Jesus begin to live in unlikely places, through unlikely people so ALL people of all faiths can find a way to find the great path together!!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Economy

Well, once again the stock market, indeed the economy is tanking! You say, "Once again?" Yes, cycles of ups and downs occur and we have watched them through our 35 years together. What does it mean? Perhaps it means that we all start to look at longer work-lives, maybe that we need to find skills and abilities that will translate into barter-able talents and gifts, maybe that we simply understand that some of us won't be retiring!

What am I looking at? I'm hoping that the market will turn around, that we will recover enough that I will indeed be able to retire - but realistically, I may be working a couple of part time jobs into my 90s or longer. I could handle this Photo Tech job for a long time to come. However, in the short term, as much as I like missing the tensions and torments of trying to work with the political chaos of the church, I just might need to go back into a church in hopes of getting a salary that will pay bills, put more into the retirement account and provide better medical insurance than most I could find.

Also in the short term is continuing to talk to others about Barak Obama, whom I truly and fully hope will be our next President, because I have a horrid feeling that if McCain-Palin win will mean the market will REALLY tank, that we will become so embroiled in middle east unwin-able wars that we will end my generation's life in a quagmire that will make Viet Nam look like a summer picnic.

I listen to the talk of families forced out of their homes because a landlord used their rent checks to build personal wealth and ease of life, avoiding keeping mortgages current and being more than willing to give up the property rather than be responsible. I am proud of the Cook County Sheriff taking a stand and refusing to evict renters who kept up their rent payments, even though their landlord didn't keep up on their payments. THAT is AMERICAN! It happened in the Great Depression, and if it doesn't happen now, we will all be so far in the hole, there will be no bailout, no rescue available to help us.

My advice? Start finding ways to put money aside, pay off bills and develop those skills that you can barter - you know, "I'll mow your lawn for six months if you will help me build bookcases." "I'll can two bushels of tomatoes if you will help me fix my car."

God help us all!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Winning Argument

A college classmate of my daughter pointed out powerfully just how low the Republican Party has sunk in this current electoral year - declaring the the pit bull hockey mom with lipstick and a thing for Joe-Six-Pack won the VP debate simply because she didn't wallow in her ignorance and her running mate's ineptness. Marty was perhaps a bit more graphic in his language than I would have been, but he's right on the point!

How is it that we are supposed to applaud someone who refuses to answer questions, can't think on her feet, and is stuck with a large vocabulary of cliches, while we are to ignore a seasoned veteran of the Capital Hill on-going skirmishes who kept his answers concise, identified his sources and pointed out all the places his opponents were whacked out on something?

How is it that independent observers and pollsters are wrong while people like a screeching banshee Pat Buchanan proclaims the wonders of this Republican ticket? Why is the distant past of a community organizer relevant to the the Democratic candidate who worked in the same communities, but was a militant radical of the 60s when the candidate was in third grade; while a more recent and more closely connected relationship between the Republican candidate and the mastermind of the Savings and Loan collapse is considered acceptable?

Why? Because we have become a nation that wants easy answers from people that will make us feel good, tell us what we want, and not challenge us to grow into what we should be on our own! Because we are brainwashed not to pay attention to the fact that Republicans have given us the biggest deficit in history, and the biggest federal government in many, many a year - destroying our economy, saddling us with leaders that are either idiots or crooks.

Wake up, folks, and let's take our country back, really working to address not only the ills of other nations but also the social ills of our own nation. We may be great (and I think we are) but we certainly have much to correct within our own borders and our own hearts! It's time to become responsible for our own actions, active in our own successes. It's more than time!

No peace without social conscience and social justice!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our World

Isn't it amazing that in a world as badly messed up as ours that we Americans can get so wrapped in our own worries to the point no one else matters? Isn't it sad that we forget what made us who we HAVE BEEN in the world was a willingness to reach out to those poor people in those other countries we NOW cannot stand, and now all we can do is scream about pulling our borders in tighter, or killing the bastards that have had enough of our arrogant assumption that ours is the only way our world can function.

We have two candidates for President that represent polar opposites on the spectrum of how we return to our role as world leaders - one desiring to continue a policy of bomb not and question later - offering an apology to the innocents destroyed by our indiscriminate wars, and one who offers the restoration of diplomacy and reason in our relations. Want proof that one is right and the other dead wrong? Consider the lack of respect we have in the world now. Consider that the Cold War of the Reagan era is back in full force, that nuclear proliferation is only a few pen strokes away - of course that term ONLY applies to those we hate and want to see broken, decimated, destroyed and begging for our help.

Consider that one candidate has a plan that would reduce our taxes by about $900 while the other's "compassionate" plan would cost me about that much more in taxes.

Consider that one has found the necessity of lying, using innuendo; while the other has continued to hold before us the hope of a changed future, or people working across the aisle and of our reputation restored not only with our enemies, but also with our allies whom we have sorely insulted and alienated.

It should become clear, as Kieth Olbermann, others we know and a college friend of our daughter believe that the ONLY HOPE for change in the upcoming election is with the election of the first person of color, the only person in this election who truly understanding the hope America offers - Barak Obama!

John McCain, as a close friend who knew him as a young naval officer shared, is closely acquainted only with the privilege of the privileged, the wonder of the ability of money to do what all else might fail to do. If we want to send a message that our future lies in a different direction, then we must send the strong, clear, unequivocal message that the last eight years have been too much - a balanced budget destroyed, a strong economy decimated, the image of America the helpful tarnished so badly we will need many years or a miracle to restore it - will not be acceptable! A continuation of this administration's policies and practices is NOT ACCEPTABLE to the American people.

That is why I agree with Marty, Kieth, and a growing coalition of persons Democratic and Republican and Independent who believe we must elect Barak Obama President and show the world we are truly better than we have been.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Technology, Faith and Politics

I got a new camera that is both a still and a video camera able to record sound and act as a MP3 player. I took five pictures I wanted to save, hooked it up to my computer and thought I had transferred them - but cannot find them! I did manage to start the camera on the computer, and got an image of myself that caused me all kinds of concern until I noticed the light. So I learned to read the booklet more closely before I try something, no matter now simple it seems.

I also read an editorial column today that bothered me, a great deal! A columnist wrote that he simply could not understand when faith became more important that a paycheck. I think that is one of the problems in our country! We make a lot of noise about being a nation of faith - but we don't really live out any of that, for the most part, and wonder at people for whom faith isn't just an add-on, but rather the true grounding of their lives. Few Christians in this country would consider simply walking off the job because they weren't given time on Good Friday, Easter or Christmas off. We simply shrug and go on. When Muslims do walk off because their corporate bosses won't allow a change in break time from prayers during their high holy time, we simply cannot understand that attitude - perhaps that is why Islam is growing to challenge Christianity in the world, why Christianity no longer commands the respect it once did.

Another thing that has bothered me for a long time, and I have spoken about it in a variety of forums, is the seeming understanding that only the right-wing Christian message is indeed the only Christian voice in this country. There are a variety of voices just within the Christian community, indeed one might say a plethora of voices within that ONE faith community, and our nation is NOT a single faith nation - thanks and praise be to God!!

Sarah Palin announces that she thinks the war plans of the Bush Administration are God's plan, but doesn't have the courage to say it straight out - but rather couches it so she thinks the "stupid" public will understand that isn't her message at all! She speaks of her concern for challenged children, of her accomplishments expanding care and help - quietly avoiding mentioning that she cut the Alaska Special Olympics funding in half! She speaks of the Christian concern we should have for our families, but kicked her daughter out of the house for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock - but where was she when the relationship that could have prevented the pregnancy. And she attacks someone who is truly trying to bring people from all parts of this country together for a better future, and the restoration of our image in the world as a moral compass, a compassionate giant that can get tough, but would rather work it out without rough stuff.

I am proud to say that I have support Barak Obama for President from shortly after he announced. I have been proud to acknowledge his membership in the United Church of Christ, and pleased to watch his message of hope - change we can believe in catch on, like wildfire in some settings in spite of the shady tricks pulled to try to stop him. I am disgusted with the tone and tenor of the McCain-Palin ticket in the campaign! And I intend to start being even more vocal about my support and belief that Senators Obama and Biden represent the best hope for the recovery of our nation!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Well, today was another lesson! The troublesome employee of the store where I am a photo tech caused enough frustration today that I was almost beside myself with anger and frustration! Simple rules of employment like not doing personal things on company time seem to be beyond this person. Things like doing what you are paid to do seem to be beyond this employee's understanding! On a schedule that puts this person behind the main cash register, that employee is at the kiosk doing a personal order of business cards, over in another department advising another employee on how to beat the system, advising people that rightfully should be checked out at the main register to go to another register, "because the young lady there earns a commission on what she sells." Not to mention it saves this employee work!!

Yes, I was angry, frustrated and about to chew and spit nails!! I was caring for my own department and busting my butt to deal with other things I was asked to do - and this employee is schmoozing and cavorting and having all manner of good times! Then, at a later point in the day, this person comes to me and asks if I'm alright. Alright!?!?!? Yeah, I'm just fine! Tired-of-covering-your-butt fine, tired-of-filling-your-failures-to-do-your-job fine!

This employee is oblivious! So what to do? Simply really, do your job, document errant behavior, take care of customers no matter how difficult or inconvenient and allow said employee to hang themselves on the rope they keep stretching - after all, your job is to do your job.

On another note, the manager left a note that I'm not to exceed a full week on my time card, so apparently customer service ends at the designated time of my shift end - in spite of those who might be standing in front of me at the end of my shift; in spite of my request to be as close to 40 hours a week as possible due to my financial situation. OK, corporate wins! When my shift is up, I'm out of here!

Lessons learned? To do my job, take care of what I'm responsible for and asked to do, and leave the others to their own devices. Work your shift and walk away - that's all you're paid to do! Sorry that is outside my ability - when someone is standing in front of me, wanting my assistance, and the company's motto is customer service, customer service, customer service -- I just can't walk away at the end of a shift!

So learn to do what you must even if you pay for it in the end - why? Because your personal integrity is far more important that corporate desires to avoid overtime!! Be concerned about your own role and responsibilities until they are modified!!

Peace and good progress in your position!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hard Work and Respect

Another of life's lessons has shown itself in my continued odyssey at Walgreens. When you work hard and respect people, some of them will take care of you.

An example, today I opened the store, arriving at 7:20 and clocking in before my 7:30 start time and started getting things ready for the day, another worker arrived at 9, and at 11:30 asked if she could take lunch. The Assistant Manager and another co-worker were genuinely incensed that she would ask that when that co-worker and I had neither had lunch yet. She was told brusquely that "No! You can't go to lunch when people who started before you haven't been able to have lunch yet!"

In their defense, she is one who isn't about to miss a break or be late by her determination for lunch or leaving - and she won't clock in early either. She handles jobs she is assigned well, but simply asked to cover the front, she will stand with her arms crossed and her legs crossed and smile at everyone. I think she can become a good worker, but she needs a little more willingness to jump in on things.

We had the best day so far in the photo lab, and I truly believe it is because we work our butts off to have things done timely and treat people with the utmost of respect. I'm very proud of our staff, and will continue to work at helping us increase our sales.

Another example, if my wife comes into the store to buy something, several of my co-workers call her by name and will make sure that the cosmetic girls understand she is to get the employee and family discount. That doesn't come from being hard-nosed and lazy, it comes from being there when people need you, treating everyone with respect and offering whatever help you can offer.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Only Constant Is Change

Years ago, I worked at the Internal Revenue Service Center in Fresno, CA. There I heard from several people a phrase that I have found true of life, "The only thing that doesn't change here is change." Life is one change after another, though few people recognize that or want to recognize it. When a new IPhone comes out, people want it for the new technology and capabilities, but when someone challenge them to allow their faith or their life outlook to change to also take advantage of new information, new insights, new realities - Whoa, there! Pastor, you done stop preachin' and started meddlin'! Yes, indeed, we want the latest appliances, the newest model of car, but don't you dare challenge us to move away from positions that cannot be support by anything but blind belief and emotional trauma!!

I've been a janitor, a security guard, a groundsman, a tutor, an assistant manager in a restaurant, a pastor, a laborer, a tile-layer's assistant; I've worked at grain elevators, carpet cleaning, wine-tasting rooms, probably some I've forgotten - the lesson out of these? That life has so much more than we can imagine, IF we are willing to embrace change as part of our life experience. And when we do, we find some amazing similarities to people we often look up to - for instance, the disciples of Jesus were small businessmen locked in the struggle to make enough to pay tax bills that make ours look a pittance. When they listened to the challenging insights of this itinerant preacher, they heard something that stirred their hearts and asked them for dangerous change. They embraced that and found not only fulfillment, but also rebuke when they wanted to fall back on those "traditional" values they had learned from their social circle. They learned that one has to trust the maker of life, and live life fully, engaged, empowered and compassionately - then one finds true fulfillment, though riches as the world counts them may not be part of that fulfillment.

Life is change, or you would still be that vulnerable, dependent baby that would then be undeveloped potential. You learned to crawl, then walk, then run, then ride a bike, then drive a car or perhaps a motorcycle or fly a plane - CHANGE! You learned to feed yourself, to appreciate more than mother's milk, and found favorite foods that changed through life - CHANGE! You learned to speak in words, you learned new vocabulary, you learned how to construct your communication, to write your communication - CHANGE! You found someone special in your life - family, friends, lovers, spouses - each a relationship that demanded CHANGE!

So indeed permanence is impermanent, the unchanging quality of life is change. Enjoy the variety of life, and learn to appreciate the wonder of change, even when that change is to learn that family or cultural biases are dead wrong and need to be lost! That person in front of you is another person, not a black, a wetback, a chink or nip, not a kraut or a spic, not a queer or geek - A PERSON, MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, AS CHANGEABLE AND CHANGING AS YOU, AND AS IN NEED OF REAL PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS in a life that is full of change and challenge.

Think about it! Peace!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Trust the Force, Luke!

Well, maybe my name isn't Luke, and maybe the guy at Noritsu wasn't the force, but I sure learned to trust that helpline yesterday! They put those techs there for a reason! I was working along doing my job as a photo tech when the paper processor suddenly said, "PAPER JAM!" I did all the things they taught me, NO GOOD! I called one of the techs that trained me, NO GOOD! Finally, and finally for the last time, I called the hotline. The tech walked me through all I had done, and calmly helped me hold it together. When all had been checked, he said, "Well, let's try to clear the error now." I did, and the machine started to work again - as we waited, I said, "If this works, BLESS YOU!" He laughed, and assured me they would be there if we had another issue!

So today I get the spiral bound book for us to chart problems, including logging in yesterday's adventure, and we continue the adventure. So when you need a tech line - trust them, though sometimes they won't have the answers.

Another lesson learned! Life is one big lesson, don't you know.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Almost there, almost there

That line from Star Wars IV seems particularly appropriate as I move toward the opening of the new Walgreen's store. I worked a lot ( a lot!) over the last two days. Tomorrow I will have a mandatory meeting to attend, but I'm off - and I intend to take it easy! I'm finding out that when you are willing to step in where and when you are needed, respect comes readily from all one's co-workers, even to joking with you about sloughing off!

I've earned the respect of the district team, the respect of my co-workers at the store, and the respect of my supervisory crew. Now I need to translate that to the relationship with our customers. You see Walgreen's hold firmly that customer service is job number one. We are to make sure the phone is answered by the third ring, stop what you are doing and help the customer in the aisle with you, and do all you can to solve a person's concern. We've joked that with all the stocking we have been doing, we should be able to walk to nearly any item in the store upon request!

Respect, that which is becoming a scarce commodity in our time. One is too busy, too focused on "me" to note that someone around us might need some help. One doesn't want to be involved with the difficulties of those others. Yet -

My beloved and I have found that there are always people with the need for a listening ear, respect for that other as a person, and a willingness to put ourselves out a bit to help. That has proven to be a winning combination in being able to help others.

Think about it!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Joy a Baby Brings

Have you noticed that when someone brings a baby into the room, smiles spread in a slow wave across the room, and people feel a need to come over to admire and coo at the wee one? Such a simple part of life, yet such a powerful motivation for joy and smiles - the promise that life can be better, that there is hope and a future filled with opportunities.

Our first grandson got his first experience of the Pacific while his parents are visiting family in California. I've gotten a couple of notes about how much they are enjoying the visit and particularly Justin - the wee one does have a way of brightening the room!

So the next time you are feeling tense, unhappy, down - go find a baby and you will be surprised how much brighter life looks!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hard Work

I'm learning that setting up a new store isn't a lot of fun - it's a lot of hard work! There are shelves to set and prep. There is merchandise to unload from trucks and move into the store and the stock room. There are repacks of items sent over as overstocks from other stores to be dealt with. There are new co-workers to get to know, adjust to, and learn how to work with. There are early hours, long hours, few breaks and aching joints.

Yet I've learned that hard work earns respect and appreciation. The younger set may tease a bit, but they also know who will help them get things taken care of - a plus when they will be helping you make your job work.

So three days of preparations at our new Walgreens takes us to the point we were able to leave early and get some much needed rest. But it also got us notice that we are to be there Monday morning bright and early to unload another truck with more fixtures, and probably more merchandise to put away.

But we are starting to look like a store!! So we will work on and provide product, customer service and friendliness for the citizens of the area we serve.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Follow Directions

Well, I learned that lesson we all should know from all the times its shared! Follow directions!!

We bought some bookcases from Walmart, and I started putting them together today. I took out the directions and scanned them as I started putting pieces together - wrong! I finally ran up the white flag on the first one. Then I took the directions out, laid out the pieces and carefully followed the directions one step at a time.

Shock! It worked! 5 times it worked, then I used that knowledge to go back, deconstruct and then construct that first bookcase.

My loving wife pointed out that I should have followed the directions from the start, and she's right - it would have sped things along and maybe saved my 60 year old knees! Well, hopefully I learned the lesson this time!


Excitement Not Wanted

Yesterday held a bit of excitement neither my wife nor I, nor any others, wanted!

A wildfire began very near our apartment complex and blackened most of the hillside just west of us. Because of our asthma, we headed up the mountain to my daughter's and spent the night there. Fortunately the fire was declared out last night, so we will attempt to return.

I say attempt because if the smoke smell is very bad, I'll send my wife back up the mountain while I take care of the new bookcases we bought yesterday. Those I made many years ago are simply too big to move in. The new ones need to be assembled and filled. The old will eventually come up the mountain to my daughter's house.

I am excited because the store where I will be working is starting to get enough equipment in it to look like a store about to open rather than one that closed. I'll start working there on Friday, continuing the set up. We will have an open house the day before we open.

The life lessons in this tale? Simply that we need to be able to adapt to the situation - as in our response to the wildfire; we need to remember that our rubber-necking can cause major difficulties to those who need to get away from danger as well as hindering those trying to help those in need; and that there is excitement and joy even in situations that require us to work - if we are willing to look for it, accept it, and be honest with ourselves. There can also be disappointments when information shared proves woefully inadequate or incorrect, but life goes on and so should we.


Monday, August 4, 2008


And thus begins a new blog. Why you ask? Because the previous blog's materials were being used in an understandable but inappropriate way. For that reason, we begin again. With a new name, and a new site. Keep watching while I share the lessons of transition and life.