Monday, January 28, 2008

Be Bubbly! It's Monday!

In honor of today being "Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day" - I offer these two Monday morning diversions.

Virtual Bubblewrap © www.virtual-bubblewrap.com

And, just so you can leave this site eventually...consider the "Bubble Wrap Key chain."

You really should get back to work now...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Everlasting Love & Evelyn B3B

I almost hate to say this...but I believe our "dispute" with the DISH Network has been resolved - or will be to the best I can hope for, considering the idiots we've contended with for days.

I documented every step.

Should you wish to suffer along the entire course...click here...or here...or here.


Let us pray...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Separation Of Church And Safe - Part One

I've had a variety of things I wanted to write about recently but have been derailed by one thing or another - for example The Dish Network which I was foolish enough to allow back into our lives a couple of years ago and recently learned has apparently adopted "organized crime-like" tactics in lieu of "Customer Service." I don't want to blog about it, especially since I ranted about how bad The Dish Network was in this same space four or five years ago when we got rid of them. After several days of dealing with their antics, I really don't need anyone saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...yada yada yada." So, let's not go there...directly.

If you really want to make an attempt to follow the comical yet "frightening Dish Network" invasion of our privacy, as well as our foray into potential fraud, theft and malfeasance allegations involving DISH SATELLITE, you can click on the link I highlighted above. Good luck...it makes my head spin and I won't be held accountable for spelling or grammatical errors. Most of that stuff was written following hours upon hours of belligerent interrogation room-like torture techniques...be thankful I removed the profanity.

[Momentary aside added Friday: I should mention that the information about the DISH debacle is constantly being updated now, since I am being compelled to keep a log of sorts - otherwise I couldn't remember all the seemingly endless twists and turns. So now it's turned into sort of a constantly running Soap Opera except not as well written and there's no sex...however as it continues to bloom and fester it is turning into some good comedy...if I don't dwell on the price of admission.]


Short version: NEVER SUBSCRIBE TO THE DISH NETWORK. One day I may publish photos of the scars I carry from failing to adhere to that advice, but right now the images are far too graphic.




Okay, so what's been on the functional part of my mind when I haven't had my ear stuck to a phone trying to converse with people whose responses are limited to pre-written moronic corporate dictates?


I've been kicking around this nebulous idea about how we adhere to God's word and desires based on the God we know...or think we know.

Blame this guy, he started it:




Some months ago that guy, A.J. Jacobs, released a book entitled, "The Year of Living Biblically." He's already had more publicity than the book merits but the Reader's Digest version is the writer details his one year attempt to abide by "every" law in the Bible. I'm not talking the "Top Ten" - despite Jacobs' possible "Moses envy issues" displayed in the above image. He is "old school" or rather "Old Testament" and manages to drag out his stunt by selectively trying to adhere to the laws or what he interprets as Biblical "laws" covering all sorts of things from cleanliness to playing lyres. He kept up the shtick for a year. More notably he dragged it out for 388 pages and got a book deal.

Hopefully he may also have gotten something out of The Book.

So that concept started me off on this tangent of considering how I personally am "selective" in abiding by the tenets of the Bible, and really my thoughts on how most people are not too unlike me in that regard.

It's to be expected right? I mean times change, people change, society changes, the world changes...God cha...

Whoa...let's hold up a sec.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not referring to "New Testament" Christians, those of us who believe we live on the other side of Christ and therefore have a different "covenant" or relationship with God.

I mean God Himself. Obviously, I believe our relationship with God changed...but did God change?

It's a rhetorical question, not to worry...no quiz. Well, at least not yet and certainly not administered by me.

This notion keeps coming back to me though.

I was going to outline some other considerations today, but honestly - following what we've been put through this week by the minions of Satan the DISH Network, I'm too tired.

So, tune in tomorrow.* I promise I will tie these thoughts from Leviticus to little old ladies to LEGO® related products.



*"Tomorrow" is not to be considered a legally* binding deadline. [Momentary aside added "late" Friday - "Oh! There is NO Way."- mm]


*Dish Network employees refer to last page (page three) of EchoStar Customer Service pamphlet for DISH Network definition of "legally" as it may vary from other - more common - interpretations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One Day Delay

I swear, I had a bunch of stuff ready to dish out to you folks today dealing with everything from an Old Testament LEGO® treatment to good old fashion modern-day church mistreatment, but I was led astray by another episode of "Customer Service" insanity that took me to India, the UPS store, probably to my office manager to explain my Sprint bill, and then to my bank, MasterCard, and possibly the courthouse.

None of it is interesting though.

The Lego stuff is much better I promise. Thursday I will write about it. No phone calls, no emails, no crazy people other than those I'm related to or who are paying me...and you guys of course :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This Is A Test

I'm testing out a program and it's possible use with our radio stations. This is a actually an adaptation of an audio feature I did years ago on an odd Texas Hill Country landmark.

I only want to see how it works in blogger which is of no interest to you whatsoever.

The Frost bank thing is there because I like Frost bank and their advertising image fit this piece.

video

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Strangers Among Us? Not With Amy. (Part I)

I've been remiss in posting here for reasons too numerous to mention, but my latest excuse is that the "Caribbean flu" Amy came home with, finally caught up to me and I've been flat on my back for several days - with the exception of a few "emergency mobilizations" the details of which I'll spare you.

Anyway, our first venture into the world of cruise ships was quite enjoyable, not only because we were able to be surrounded by family, but also because we were able to visit places we've never been before. Amy was sick for a portion of the cruise, which left me venturing out solo on one of our "port calls" - at Grand Cayman. That's a story for another time.

Traveling with Amy overseas is the same as going with Amy to Wal-Mart...she has never met a stranger. I'm an introvert by nature...perfectly at ease alone at home or in another nation. On the other hand, Amy can hardly travel two yards anywhere without stopping to talk to someone and learning their entire life history.

There are no strangers among us...when we are traveling as "us."

First stop: Cozumel.

We had made it about 50 yards on shore amid a rainbow of colors and sea of people all scurrying with their own agendas, tourist maps, or excursion plans, when Amy befriended a young woman who braided/beaded hair. Our goal was to get out of Cozumel, which is a pretty rowdy place saturated with aggressive "time share" barkers, and snag a ferry to Playa del Carmen which we figured would not be quite as "touristy." However, within minutes I was sitting in a hair salon/bar/flea market as Amy was "bonding" with a hair-stylist, sharing our story and learning hers. I ended up sitting with several guys sharing a beer and although we didn't speak the same language we simply had to point to our wives and nod occasionally. Amy swore it would only "take 20 minutes"....an hour or so later we left, still with the goal of reaching the ferry 100 yards away.




After convincing Amy that I would rather be given a blindfold and shot than endure the increasing tempting "time share" tours - before we boarded the ferry for Playa del Carmen the time share hawkers were offering us cash, a day at the beach with chairs, umbrellas, food, and anything else you could imagine if only we didn't leave Cozumel.

It wasn't easy to get Amy to stop talking to each of these "salesman" and more of a chore as their offers became unbelievably tempting...luckily we resisted the urge, ignored the last minute gibberish of how "You know those ferries are not safe...it'll take you all day to get to Playa..." and I managed to get Amy on board, and 30 minutes or less later we were in Playa Del Carmen.

We arrived to find ourselves lost - not unusual since I have no sense of direction and Amy having only visited this charming spot nearly a decade ago on a corporate retreat - so we wanderered around aimlessly for a while.




But soon Amy was making friends...



Amy makes friends with the people a lot of people avert their eyes from as they pass by...and I'll confess when I first saw this woman I thought she was sitting there alone. As Amy talked...and talked...I realized I missed much, not the least of which that she wasn't sitting there alone.




Amy knows enough Spanish to hold a conversation for apparently several hours, but in reality, it doesn't matter the language - she can communicate with almost anyone.


So we wandered around Playa del Carmen, I think looking for a beach, but really wandering into book stores, and shops, and churches.



Finally, the pragmatist in me took over and I said we had to head back toward the ferry (along the way we met a couple from Wisconsin - who apparently were taking full advantage of a week away from their small children) and I managed to take a somewhat embarrassing photo (which I've doctored a bit) of a the husband whose friends described him as "normally very reserved."

Apparently a few 3 foot tall margarita's changed that...he explained those aren't panties on his head but rather an "eye patch" because "he was a pirate."



Of course, Amy got the wife's email address, so I'm assuming she'll be able to go to Playa Del Carmen whenever she wishes from this point forward, since I happened to send her the same image in email...although she could hardly lay claim to sobriety either.

We finally managed to make it back to the ferry boat landing only to discover the elusive beach we had been seeking was actually right next to where we disembarked. Had we turned right instead of left we might never have left.


We had plenty of time, so Amy headed for the beach for a few minutes, while I sat in a shady beach bar.



Then a strolling minstrel came along and Amy was back...

Soon she was not only conversing with this guy, but they were teaching each other songs...




This is only part one of the story... I hear the NyQuil calling.

However anytime you feel like you're a stranger in a strange land...keep in mind something I have learned, and re-learned over the years: There are no strangers, only our self-imposed barriers. Strive to open your heart to God, but remember we are all God's children...keep your heart open to everyone, and you'll find God in the most unexpected places.



Never fear where rainbows might lead you...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shanghai'd? No Such Luck!

I know, I know...I haven't posted anything since we got back in town Saturday, but I am suddenly getting slammed by some potentially major issues at my office pushed my way and I've been sort of preparing, plus Amy came home with the Caribbean flu or something. I know what I want to write, but I really haven't had time....besides the sun has been in my eyes...and there's a hole in my racket.

- No, I'm not going to explain that.


Anyway, I did manage to upload and then "cull" some shots from our family cruise, most are of family members although I do try to find the unusual when I get the rare chance to wander.

I've got to finish a project tomorrow for a meeting Thursday...so it may be this weekend before I can write leisurely.

You can see the "cruise album" if you're really that bored via the little video thing on the left side bar. You'll need to click on the middle of it to go to the main album page unless you like to squint. That means if you have a pop up blocker it might not let you until you say it's okay to look at what are essentially my vacation slides in modern form. If you're too embarassed to admit that to your pop up blocker...happy squinting.

There are a couple of surprises.

A brief pirate attack...and a couple of shots where you may ask yourself, "Is that the guy from....?"

You really shouldn't be speaking to yourself by the way.

Oh well, back to working on work stuff so I can be prepared for work.

It's great to be home.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Out To Sea

This post is a preemptive strike. I'm writing it beforehand, knowing that we'll be scrambling in the next few days to be prepared for a short, but memorable journey.

(((Okay, since I wrote that we've had some setbacks so it's now turning into a mad scramble and I'm praying I'll be able to work everything out and that Amy will be healthy enough to enjoy it)))

The dogs and house will be well taken care of...probably better than when we're around...and we should be carefree. ((Should being the operative word there)) Which means I won't be posting for a week or so...not even taking a laptop or a phone with me. (((Maybe a phone, but no charger)))

This is a time for celebration, family and relaxation. ((God willing))

I might point out that after months of aggravation with Blogger, quite possibly years, I've finally figured out how to "trick" it into not screwing up my archives every time I publish a new post...at least at the highest levels, if you start to dig too deep Blogger will take you into a land of code and confusion which I haven't the time or energy to decipher.

This means if you're really lacking for something better to do and think you can't tolerate static content...you've got a plethora of variety at your mouse tip. Heck, there's stuff I wrote that I don't remember writing in there.

So while we're(((please God))) out "adventuring," you can now easily careen through nearly the past five years of our lives which are detailed month by month in a neat and tidy drop down menu on the right hand side of the page...or you could do something productive, like clean your garage...or for that matter mine.

Anyway, there's no reason for concern. We'll be back. ((If we manage to leave))

But it's very apparent that this will be my last post for a week to ten days, I have a lot to do and Amy needs to rest and hopefully start feeling better or else we'll end up exhausted and sick at sea.

So I'm posting it a little earlier than planned, luckily I wrote most of this a week or so ago (I had a feeling).

Anyway, fear not...we shall return!

For now however think of us as...in the immortal words of Doug Moe,

"Here today, gone to Maui...." *



PHOTO CREDIT:Thao Nguyen



I do promise to bring back pictures...and hopefully some spiritual insights. I've already thought of a title, "The Old Man and The Sea." Catchy huh?


* No we're not off to Hawaii, but I love that quote.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"Ptew!" On 2007

I started out thinking I would write about my thoughts on ushering out 2007 like the Greeks do with people or things they want to forget or perhaps it's a Jewish tradition (I'm not Googling it) - to spit and say, "They're dead to me." Maybe it's just something I've seen in the movies...

In any case, that would be too easy and too harsh. In 2007, we certainly experienced grief and disappointment. We had unattained goals,setbacks, and personal losses.
However, the year also saw new friendships, a closer - more accountable - relationship with God, and of course the joyous lunacy of a young lady in Ohio who agreed to marry our son.
2007 had too many high points for me to wish to "Ptew" its memory.

Truthfully, shouldn't we always expect life to get better?
I suppose each new year should be greeted like a fresh pot of coffee, you hope it's brewed perfectly from the start but we all know there are times when a little extra cream or sweetener makes it a bit easier to swallow.
So with coffee, or the beverage of your choice, I offer up a short toast to the year behind and the year ahead.




May we say goodbye to 2007 savoring all the components which made its flavor rich.

May 2008 be a year that has more ups than downs.

May we always be able to see the valley's end because of the highlands ahead.

May we plant new seeds of friendship, and watch established relationships blossom.

Most of all, may we always remember to recognize and praise the unceasing mercies and blessings of our loving God.



PHOTO CREDIT:Edward A. Ornelas/San Antonio Express-News

                           HAPPY NEW YEAR!