Saturday, April 29, 2006

Crossed Wires

The cable company called yesterday.

The day before I had personally returned all of our cable devices to their offices - except our cable modem - and cancelled our service due to the company's maddening incompetence. I expressly told them I was canceling. The employees demonstrated their intense corporate loyalty by responding as one might expect...at least as one might expect from workers who are apparently underpaid and not subjected to drug tests...they said, "Uh, okay."

I was ready to tell them why we were canceling but upon looking into their dull eyes I realized it would be a waste of my time and they probably wouldn't comprehend most of my words, so I walked out.

Oh, so what did the cable company want when they called? Did they want to try to convince us to come back? Did they want to offer a deal we couldn't refuse? Did they want to apologize for their abysmal service?

Not a chance.

They asked Amy when would be a good time to come to our house and "install our cable."

Seriously.

When Amy stopped laughing, she tried to explain that we not only didn't want them to come out but that we had cancelled our cable solely because they were such a confused bunch and we feared it might be contagious.

The response? Brace yourself.

This is what the Time Warner employee said, "So you don't want the Superstations either?"
I'm not making this up...I couldn't if I tried.

So I thought perhaps it was only Time Warner cable in San Antonio that was so incompetent. I hear good things about Cox...but we don't have Cox cable here.

A few minutes ago I read this story. Click on the link...you'll love it.

I personally relate to the quote from this poor woman fighting thousands of dollars in cable charges for "porn" on her cable bill,"Every time I call, somebody tells me something different. They're not on the same page."

She's so right. I suspect they're not on the same page, because they need a bookmark to get through a bumper sticker.

Hopefully I'll still be able to post this...I know they're going to cut off our cable modem at any moment despite my explicit instructions not to...it's bound to happen. It's destiny...I can read the writing on the wall.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gut Check

Among the silliest things I've seen lately...or at least today, is "the beer belly."

It's not a beer belly earned the traditional way...by drinking beer and sitting on your rear. It's a fake beer gut.

Yes...they actually sell beer belly "falsies."

Apparently there is a market for such a thing to enable true beer lovers to keep their favorite brew close to their hearts...albeit sagging down a bit below that exact anatomical region.

This evidently fills a void for people who want to "smuggle" booze into places where such things are frowned upon.



Somehow looking at their ads at thebeerbelly.com I tend to doubt folks who buy bogus breadbaskets frequent too many stylish places where toting in a 12-pack or eight is frowned upon, but who knows?

Maybe that guy sitting by himself at the rear of the church hasn't just let his abs sag...maybe he's slurping on the king of beers while pretending to worship the King of Kings?

He could very well be backsliding and frontsliding simultaneously.

All seriousness aside, presumably there really is a market for this type of thing...and I think we should be worried.

It actually sends a chill down my spine.

Yes, "down."

Where will it "end?"

I mean what if the next gizmo to hit the market is aimed at incognito "crack" addicts?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MFM

I've been in radio for 30 years or more. I am not famous. I am not a celebrity. Most people have never heard of me.

However I apparently have one fan.

The cable guy.





The other day, after perhaps 19 calls to the cable company, I ratcheted up my anger at their false promises, unreturned calls, and apparent lack of drug testing. I had been promised a cable installer would be by to perform a 3 minute task, but he never showed up...not the first day...not by 3 p.m. the second day. So when I called at 3:15 and was told the cable guy would be there "after lunch" I unloaded.

At 3:18 the apparently lunch deprived cable guy was at our door...wide-eyed.

I thought, "Oh man, they must have put the fear of God into this poor kid."

His first words were, "Are you THE Michael Main?"

I checked to make sure my underwear wasn't inside out with a name tag showing.

"THE Michael Main...on the RADIO?"

He was mesmerized.

So was I.

I'm a glorified reporter...some days I'm not on the air in this city at all. No one is impressed with me...not even Amy...okay, especially not Amy.

This kid was though. Before he left he had offered to come back on his own time and run a line to one of our rooms for free. I turned him down saying that wouldn't be honest and he replied, "Oh it would be honest. I'd do it for free with my own equipment on my own time!"

I laughed, thanked him and still declined his offer.

Still, he wrote down his phone number and name and told me to call him personally if I ever had any problems with the cable...it was embarrassing.

He however couldn't understand why I was flustered. He said, "But man, YOU'RE MICHAEL FREAKIN'MAIN!"


Now of course I'm being treated like royalty by the folks with whom I share this home.

Well, I didn't word that quite right...let's say I'm getting the royal treatment.

Every once in a while someone will mutter, "But man...YOU'RE MICHAEL FREAKIN' MAIN!"

I may never live it down.

Tomorrow we switch to satellite.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Brickheads

The aggravation of dealing with Time Warner Cable (soon to be our former cable company...hello satellite) has made me feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

That would be cool if it were a brick wall like this one.


What We Have Here Is...

14 or 15 hours at the hospital is a long time. It was an excruciatingly long surgery - everything turned out okay so far - thank you for your prayers. The waiting game was far easier on me than her and him, but it did dredge up the many memories I have of the hospital inefficiency Amy and I endured in recent years.

Our friend came through the surgery and now will await some test results we expect to show that the cancer was caught "in time." It is amazing to me though how dispassionate nurses and other hospital employees can be at times.

So anyway, Time Warner is one of the largest communication companies on earth...and Time Warner stinks.

That perhaps was not the best segue, but I thought I'd mention it in case anyone had any doubt. I won't go into details - gee another story of how the cable company stinks - but suffice it to say Amy and I have spent far too much of our time in the past day trying to get a straight answer from various Time Warner cable company employees.



At the moment I'm waiting for perhaps the fifth or sixth Time Warner cable company employee we've spoken to in the past 36 hours to call me back. Her weighty job is to schedule someone to come to our house today...someone we were repeatedly guaranteed would be here yesterday. After listening to her litany of excuses, I said, "Can't you just call your technician and tell him to come out and do this 2 minute job?"

Her response? Honest...this is what she said,"Oh, Mr. Main we have no way to 'communicate' with our technicians."


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Prayers Please

I remembered tonight...how could I forget?

It's so like her not to call to let us know. Our friend with breast cancer is undergoing radical surgery tomorrow (Friday).

I'm scrambling a bit to get in some sleep...making plans to go into work a little earlier (ugh) and bug out to maybe be there in time to say a prayer over her before they wheel her into surgery.

If you are among the praying people...no matter when you read this...I'd appreciate if you would utter a few words to God...for her...her husband...the doctors...and the future.



How could I forget?

Thank God, He never does.


...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sucking It Up...Soaking It In

Apparently a lot of folks think one of the next "hot" products in the U.S. will be canned oxygen.

Don't laugh...there have been oxygen bars in California and elsewhere for some time...admittedly that's California, but in England - and no doubt other places - they actually sell oxygen by the six pack.



Heck, I remember thinking how silly it was for people to buy bottled water, so I'm not going to judge...too much.

Anyway, the idea of buying canned oxygen got me thinking...which is always a somewhat treacherous proposition.

In recent days, Amy and I have come to believe more than ever that we were "meant" to host our new housemates. As we get to know this young couple better we're finding we have much in common and realizing we have stumbled ahead of them down many a trail and trial.

We both hope that perhaps God can use us to spare them some heartache by passing along what wisdom we've gained, or at the very least by displaying our scars.

I sat down for a while with Simon yesterday and could feel his burdens lifting slightly as I revealed that Amy and I have struggled and still do struggle in many ways - financially, as parents, and even at times spiritually. He almost let out a visible sigh of relief.

Maybe it's only that misery loves company, but I don't really believe that to be the case. I think all of us are often guilty of feeling like "we're the only ones" who have a hard time coping with the every day turmoil of life and we're therefore embarrassed to even mention our travails to anyone else.

So perhaps by being honest about our own frailties, Amy and I can help reduce a fragment of the stress facing this little family.

Indeed, it seems our "mission" may be more than providing a couple of rooms for them to live in but rather to point them toward something far more spacious and freeing: room to breathe.

If only we could bottle that...I bet that would be a big seller.


Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah - Psalm 68:19

Monday, April 17, 2006

Miss M

Our newest housemate cries occasionally and sometimes smells a little funky.

That's okay, so do I...at least she has an excuse, she's only 20 months old.



Miss Emily also giggles and squirms a lot and she has brown eyes that are destined to break some hearts in the years ahead.

I'm fairly certain she still hasn't figured out what to think of me or the dogs although I suspect she lumps us together. On the other hand, she's pegged Amy as a harbor of love, warmth, safety and comfort which has in turn prompted Amy to start trying to train her to call her "Nanny Amy."

I'll be the first to admit that having Emily around has produced a lot of unexpected joy around here as well as a certain amount of relief that I am not the first resident of the house to require diapers which I always figured would be the case.

Like all change though it has required some adjustments.





It's hard to frown a lot when she's around and I'm having to get used to that...

I think I will.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Be Longings

I don't like going to church without Amy on a regular Sunday...to attend Easter services without her was especially difficult. It's the first Easter in our marriage that we didn't worship together and I didn't handle it well.

The children were adorable. The food (we're Baptists we eat) was great. Gordon's sermon was tremendous...but Amy wasn't there.

Without her by my side, I didn't feel like I belonged.

Upon reflection I now think that's a good thing.

You see, on this day it's not necessarily bad to feel as if you don't belong...at least at first.

After all, none of us really deserve to "be there" - but we do....because He is Risen!


Happy Easter my friends.




p.s. Happy Birthday Sarai!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

How I Spent Lent Or How Spent Am I?

Easter eve...time to look back I suppose.




I'll be the first to admit that this Lenten season I did not adhere as closely to my goals as I had planned. Walk everyday? Well, most days. Fast? Well, most days. Listen for God?

I can rattle off excuses - did I mention the Sun was in my eyes? Truthfully, the nightmare of our foundation repair, the transition of the Gomez family to independence, feeling the somewhat sudden call to host another family, new and unexpected workplace stress, Amy's health deteriorating resulting in lingering questions and heightened emotions, the death of Klondike...

We had our share of distractions...everyone does.

Still upon reflection I have no regrets. My Lenten intentions were pure, but life intervened a little here and there...sometimes a little too much.

I have faith that God will understand.

Despite it all, I have heard His unbelievable word of grace...the Son has been in my ear.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Bad, The Ugly and The Good Friday

The Bad - Amy is sick...and tired and feeling guilty about possibly not being able to sing at tonight's Good Friday service. She's has sung "Via Dolorosa" every Good Friday for many years, and even if her voice and body aren't up to singing for the congregation tonight I may insist she sing it for me.

The Ugly - Me having to inform a bridal party this morning as I was mowing the church property that they couldn't start decorating the church for their wedding tomorrow because we were having a Good Friday service tonight which will be rather stark. Yes, they had been told different by a "somewhat" absent-minded guy at the church. We love him anyway...even if he was working on his Good Friday service outline when they came in and asked if they could decorate the church on Friday night. Maybe we should change his moniker to ADHD-RLP.

The Good - We may have experienced some bad or even ugly moments...but we have the promise of salvation because our Savior died for us.

Tonight we will listen to the account of His death again and be reminded once more that all that is bad or ugly in this life will be made right thanks to His sacrifice.

Such reminders are good indeed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Who Needs American Idol?




I thought that would wake you up.

I'll admit I'm not a big fan of American Idol. I'll also confess that I have friends, who shall remain nameless (fakesneezeKim) who are apparently obsessed by the program. To each his or her own.

However when I saw the contest for the World's Ugliest Dog...I had to cast my vote.

You can vote here.

Brace yourself...it ain't pretty, but it's a way to pass the time if you're an idle American...or European, or Canadian, or New Zealander...whatever.

Ugly is ugly...I suppose that's universal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cold Hands/Warm Heart

Tempers are flaring in the Main household...well actually it's the temperature that's fluctuating. Amy is always saying it's too hot...I'm always saying it's too cold. The result - each of us quietly tries to sneak upstairs to reset the thermostat by a degree or two in our preferred direction.

I thought I might have found the solution here.

Mittens to help me stay at the keyboard without freezing up...they plug right into the USB port.



Alas, they only make them for women.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Guess Who's NOT Dead

When I was a kid, let's not speculate on how long ago that was, I watched ALL the Tarzan movies - the good ones with Johnny Weissmuller.

I must admit I was startled this morning to read that one of the stars of those films is still alive and well...Cheeta - the chimp.


He's 74...still has all his own teeth.

Well, I was surprised.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Casa de Malhado

Dust and woe...these two I know.


Don't worry, I'm not about to embark on an episode of bad poetry. Our lives are still somewhat in shambles as we try to recover from the foundation repair. We've got a lingering plumbing issue which may cost a fortune to repair so both Amy and I are a little manic when we were hoping the worst of the worries were behind us.

Unfortunately for you that means I've been looking for distractions...I did find out this company is about to start advertising in the U.S..



Okay, maybe I haven't gotten the plumbing problems completely behind me...suddenly I realize that's also a poor choice of words. Anyway, you might enjoy the commercials. It's nice to know we'll soon not only have to fret about fresh breath and sparkly underarms isn't it?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Nightmare On Main Street-Averted















We've returned from our Hill Country retreat...it was a Godsend. I won't detail the lunacy involved in our foundation repair - at least not yet - but suffice it to say had we not had a couple of nights away, the torture would have been completely unbearable.

This was the charming lil' B&B where we did our best to hide from reality.




We did little besides laze around our room and enjoy the Jacuzzi tub and it was wonderful.


Periodically our peace was interrupted by phone calls from the foundation repair crew...or the lack of promised phone calls from the foundation repair crew. Still, had we been home during this fiasco in communication - and close enough for me to wrap my fingers around someone's neck - this tale might have taken a far darker twist. I will confess in the back of what's left of my mind there still lingers a tiny nagging fragment of a question as to whether wringing the foundation repair chief's neck might have been equally satisfying...at least until I went on trial. Mercifully that shall now forever remain an unrequited fantasy.

So our trip away was well timed. It not only could be argued that it had life saving qualities - deserved or not - but it appears to have also spared the small sliver of my remaining sanity a push off its fragile shelf... although some might justly give argument to that too.

I know this much is certain, we are blessed to have a child who was generous enough to gift us with this getaway. I will also admit I'm now curious if she's a tad bit psychic since her perfectly timed kindness may very well have prevented me from committing a felony...or two...or three.

At least for now.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dust, Dirt, Holes...Welcome To The Mains



I like words...however sometimes pictures will suffice.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Escapism

Okay, if you ever have the misfortune of having interior foundation problems in your home here are some handy tips:

1. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
2. DON'T LOOK BACK!

Seriously, this is a nightmare. Jackhammers and dust...dust and jackhammers...plus you get a precarious view of the relatively fragile base upon which your home is perched.

We have plastic sheets hanging between doorways, taped over hallways...and in front of stairwells. They are there to help us believe that everything in our house is not coated in dust..it's not working.

We have spent the day repeatedly crawling through a hole in the plastic to enter and exit our house all the while attempting and failing to suppress the mental imagery of the birth canal.

So, we're looking for distractions.

I've let my mind wander to New York City where our eldest child, Tiffany (all together now) - the one going to Harvard - spent her Spring break.

This is my favorite photo of her trip....



Tiffany window dreamin' at Tiffanys.

I'm hoping the worst of the foundation work took place today...if you don't count writing the check to pay for it.

I don't want to think about that part so did I show you this picture yet?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Staring Down & Looking Up

We can see the floor of our bedroom.

For most folks that probably isn't that startling of an announcement, for Amy and me it's a first. Every last stick of furniture has been shoved, stored, stashed, or stuffed somewhere and except for some boxes of clutter that need to be organized we're about ready for the onslaught of the foundation repair teams.

We've been in this house more than ten years and it's been that long since the bedroom has been empty. Much of that time it's been in varying stages of disarray.

I've been convinced the floor has been there all along, but this moment is still somehow validating.

Monday morning, the jackhammers arrive to pummel the floor to pieces. Such is life.

Our new "roomies" plan to move in Tuesday. No, that wasn't an April fools joke. Amy and I have decided to open our home to another family we feel we can help by providing shelter. It will probably only be for a month or two, but right now they're in a tight squeeze and we've got the space.

The family consists of a young man - recently retired from a six year stint in the military that included a tour in Afghanistan - his wife and their 20 month old daughter. They ran into some hard times on the West Coast and decided they wanted to "get back to the Bible belt." It was a gamble they could scarcely afford either way. They left California with very little having sold much of what they had to make the trip. They'll be the latest to take over our empty bedrooms upstairs.

Those bedrooms have become our mission field.

Credit Erin...of Erin's Errands, Etc...(yes, that was a blatant plug) who was our first "boarder" although she's really more like family...except neater.

When the Gomez family moved in with us, only a week or two after Erin had moved out of our house, she suggested that perhaps this was God's plan for us.

We had talked on several occasions about our desire to do mission work, but circumstances really make that difficult at this point in our lives - Amy's health, our finances or lack thereof, etc. Erin, who's far too astute for her age (and organized too) zipped me an email saying, "Perhaps you will never 'go' elsewhere to serve, but being the light and love of Christ and 'home' in someone else's 'elsewhere'...that is also true service."

Those words meant a lot to us...and unlike our bedroom floor we seem to see validation in them almost every day.

Amy and I talked, prayed, and even at times argued over that concept...but there seems to be no denying that God is certainly making it possible for us to be someone else's elsewhere. Honestly, at times I feel He's being rather blunt about it. The fact this young family is willing to move in during the chaos of our foundation repairs is a strong testament to their need.

I've had several heartfelt conversations with this young Dad and he's not afraid to acknowledge his relief. Having a little breathing room can be a wonderful feeling...I know. At church Sunday, he was quietly thanking me again and I was doing my best to shrug it off again when we both started choking up. He said, "I can tell we're both blubber babies, I better walk it off..."

It wasn't that long ago when I was in almost exactly that same position except I was the one doing the thanking. I promised then that I would accept the extreme kindness we received only if the giver knew that I would not let his generosity end with me. I vowed we would pass it on whenever we were able to do so.

Amy and I are in a better place today than we've been for several years. It's still the same house...the walls have cracks...it needs work. But Amy's health has stabilized, at least a few of our financial dragons are dead, and our faith in God and each other is still strong.

So we have room...to be conduits and pass along God's grace.

Certainly there are many things that could be better, and we still have our mountains to climb...but our true foundation is sturdy.

Every once in a while it's nice to clear out all the clutter and remind ourselves of that...by admiring the floor.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sensible Fool









On this April Fool's Day try not to fool your senses.



Click here.

Fools Abound


April Fools is alive and well on the internet. The list goes on and on.