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!