Friday, December 31, 2004

Ending on a positive note

Well... this year is just about done for. So, I'm looking forward to a fresh (albeit, very rough), new start with the upcoming year. I hope that you all have a great night, and a better tommorrow. Happy New Year!
Now, go have a party or something... I am!!! WOOHOO!!!

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Now, that's rather unusual

I had an unusual encounter with one of our HR generalists this morning. And why is that post-worthy? Because, this particular young lady is probably the nicest, and genuinely helpful people in the entire HR department...
"Unlike all the other ladies, she was so young and sweet." - Bob Segar, Main Street. It just sorta came to mind, even though there are other young ladies in our HR department... but I'm going off on a tangent here.
No, really! She actually had a conversation with me as she was waiting for the person that she had come out onto the floor to speak to. This is not something that typically transpires between production personnel and administrative personnel. That's why I thought it post-worthy.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Party at my house...

and everyone's invited!

That's right! If you're reading this, you're invited to my house for a little get together on New Years Eve.
Yes, I realize that many of you don't even know where I live, but we can get around that if you feel like showing up. Of course, I cannot help anyone with travel arrangements (except for directions), or the costs involved. But I do have plenty of space, and furniture, on which visitors can 'crash', so lodging isn't an issue. Still, the invite is there for all of my faithful visitors.
Currently, it's just me and JT, and maybe the kids. But I've told my soon-to-be-EX-wife to make plans with her new-found friends... leaving it just short of telling her that I don't want her here as I bring in my new year. So, if you're so inclined (or have no life, like JT and I), feel free to make the trip. Especially that small handful of you who live in and around (or close enough to) the 'burgh to do so.
I'll have pop (that would be 'soda' to some of you), chips-n-dip, nachos, pork with kielbasa-n-hot dogs in saurkraut... with perogies, maybe wings, definitely champagne for a Midnight toast, and some very limited selections of other alcohol (I'm not sure what I currently have on hand, or what Jo will take with her... so it's more-or-less BYOB). I have a decent library of DVD's and videos, music, and PS2 games, as well as board games and a few word games and brainteasers of my own creation. So we should be fairly well entertained.
Leave a comment, or e-mail me, to RSVP or to get directions. And if you can't make it, we'll still raise a glass to you and yours for a Happy New Year.

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Monday, December 27, 2004

I'm feeling better now

I just wanted to take a few moments to thank those of you who've been kind enough to comment or e-mail me as I've been going through some very difficult times. Your support has been much appreciated and very helpful in keeping me steadily on track with my convictions.
And for those of you who've been concerned for my health... I'm breathing much easier now, thank you.
Other than that, I really don't have much else to share today. And doesn't it figure that I have the house to myself for at least a couple of hours yet. Oh well, I'm sure that I'll have plenty to write about soon.
Later.

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Sunday, December 26, 2004

There... that wasn't so bad now, was it?

So... How was your Christmas?
This is how mine went.
Christmas Eve: Traditionally, we spend Christmas Eve with my family, and Christmas Day with Jo's. Spent the morning just lounging around the house with the kids. Aliesha had to work from 1:00 - 5:00. Jo had spent the previous night over at her friend, Sharon's house, so she wasn't home for the 'lounging' part of the day. When Jo did get home we had to slap together a few appetizer dishes to take to my brother's house. Afterwards we picked up Aliesha and headed out.
The evening was fairly pleasant. There was plenty of food, football to watch until the A Christmas Story Marathon began, and the kids don't bicker like they used to. But there was a downside, too. The cats!
They have 4 cats. And, as some of you know (from having read 100 Things,...and things left unsaid), I am DEATHLY allergic to cats, and I have asthma. Typically this isn't much of a problem, but it became one this year.
Usually, when my asthma would act up, I'd just head down to my parents house (they live three doors down), and allow myself some time to clear-up. It worked out well in the past, because when I had to leave, my dad would use that opportunity to leave with me.
My dad was a real homebody. He hated leaving the house for anything but beer and groceries, and he had those down to a schedule. So he used my need to leave for some fresh air, as his cue to leave as well. We'd go down to the house and talk and I'd relax and my lungs would clear-up. Then, after I was feeling better, I'd go back up and we'd all exchange our presents.
But this is our first Christmas since my dad passed away. So he wasn't there to take the short walk with me, or to talk to me as I waited to catch my breath. Instead, I began to feel his absence while I was there. So I didn't stay there as long as I probably should have. my breathing wasn't quite right when I headed back up the street to my brother's house.
Anyway, we exchanged our gifts, ate a little more, let the kids enjoy their time together. But my asthma acted up again, and you can only use the inhaler so many times in a few hours, so we decided to leave. It was earier than I would've liked to, but I liked the idea of possibly ending up in the ER, for a breathing treatment, even less.
When we got home I was breathing easier, but still had some tightness in my chest. We gave the kids the choice of opening presents "now, or in the morning?"... I'm sure you know their choice. It's nice when they're little, and Christmas still holds ALL of the magic that we used to know. But having kids who're older helps to reduce a lot of the extra stress of keeping that one big secret. That, and it eliminates the need for any of the ritual of "Go to bed so Santa Claus can come.".
The kids were happy with what they got. Jo and I were happy with what we got. And we all went to bed fairly well pleased with the evening.
Christmas Day: I didn't sleep well. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and I'm pretty sure that I know the reason why. So, I was up at 3:30 AM. And my breathing still wasn't right. But I sat out in the living room and watched a little TV. WQEX, our local PBS station, had a "Things About Pittsburgh" Marathon running. I liked it. It was neat to learn some things about Pittsburgh's past, as well as seeing how things have changed around town, even some of the things that I remember.
Bobby woke up around 6:30 and came out to watch TV with me and play with some of his presents. At about 7:30, I decide that I'd try to go back to sleep. By 8:30, Jo had gotten up and made breakfast for everyone.
The obligatory "just called to say Merry Christmas" phone calls started to come in from her family. Which has never made any sense to me, since we'd be seeing them all in just a few hours. Still, the calls came in and the chatting went on. Of course, we were asked to bring all of our folding chairs with us. Seating for 15 is not something that most people can pull off on their own.
So as we loaded up the trunk with our chairs, the frigid 7 degree air hit me. Not good for asthma, especially when I'm still not fully recovered from the cats. So, I was having a hard time breathing again. And I really hate that feeling, too.
Eventually, I decide that I should probably stay home. My sister-in-law has three cats, and I had no intentions of trying to deal with both the cats, and the frigid air, especially without a 'safe-house' in the same neighborhood. This really sucked.
After Jo and the kids left I tried to get some more sleep, but our next door neighbors, the Dinnino's, called to let me know that they had a plate of cookies for us. Mmmmmmmmmm... homemade Italian Christmas cookies. I went over and chatted for a little while with them... they're a wonderful retired couple, and really great neighbors. After I explained why I was home alone they offered me a hot sausage sandwich to take home for my lunch. Mmmmmmmmmm... hot Italian sausage sandwich. We are truly blessed to have such good people living next door to us.
So, I went home and spent the day just sorta lounging around some more. Napping as I could, and watching a little TV when I couldn't. I got to watch the Oakland/KC game. Not too bad of a day. And then Jo and the kids got home around 7:00 with plenty of leftovers. I got both of the drumsticks from the turkey, some ham, some lasagna, some stuffing, some sausage stuffed mushroom caps, and some appetizers. Not bad for having not made it over. We even have enough for lunch today.
Eventually, we all went to bed, fairly well pleased with how the holiday turned out. I hope yours turned out well.

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Quote for 12/25/04

"Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace to men on whom His favor rests."
The Angel of the Lord (Luke 2:15)

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Friday, December 24, 2004

Quote for 12/24/04

"Do not be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today, in the City of David, a Savior has been born to you who is Christ the LORD. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and linen and lying in a manger."
The Angel of the LORD (Luke 2:10-12)

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Christmas Special update... #25

Christmas Day... Joy of joys the day is finally here! Let's go watch some TV.

A Flintstones Christmas @ 5:00 AM TOON
Jingle All The Way Marathon starts @ 6:00 AM runs 'til 4:00 PM
A Christmas Story Marathon starts @ 6:00 AM runs 'til 6:00 PM (WOOHOO!!!)
The Muppet Christmas Carol @ 12:00 PM ABC/Family
The Greatest Story Ever Told @ 2:30 PM TCM
How The Grinch Stole Christmas @ 6:30 PM & 10:00 PM TOON
It's A Wonderful Life @ 8:00 PM NBC
Home Alone @ 8:00 PM TBS & WGN (go figure!)

and locally...
A Christmas Carol @ 2:00 PM WCWB

If you're awake to see A Flintstones Christmas, then you either have very youmg children, or no life at all... or some combination of the two.
This is the last of my Christmas Special updates. I hope that they came in handy. I've decided that next year, I'll just put up a separate blog for my Holiday Cheer.

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys

Reflecting on recent posts by myself and JT...
Our church is truly a wonderful place. We have people from practically every walk of life that attend with some regularity. That's why JT and I both seem to look at our congregation as The Island of Misfit Toys. None of us really belong anywhere else. But we know of ONE who can find a place for us, a place where our "misfit-ness" can best serve His purposes.
Yes, Faith, I think you'd like our church. And not just because of the laughs that we can provide (and we can provide plenty!). I do think that we have at least one service, during any given week, that would gladly welcome anyone, no matter where they are in there relationship with Christ. That's why I'm still there. I think that anyone who's ever felt uncomfortable about going to a church would be fairly well received in ours. And that gives me a lot of hope for the things that we're trying to do for the Kingdom of God.

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You get what you earn, but you don't always get what you deserve.

This was a topic of conversation that came up yesterday between me, and Greg. We were talking about the Steelers chances of getting to, and winning, the Super Bowl this season. We both agree that they have a better than good chance of doing both. But the conversation drifted into our alternative choices. Who would we prefer to see win it, if the Steelers can't. Likewise, that conversation drifted into who deserves it. But, I brought out the notion of who has earned it.
As the conversation went, we began to discuss a great many players, Hall of Famers, and record holders, and others who've certainly deserved to have that fabled Ring, and we agreed that anyone who has a Super Bowl Ring definitely has earned it. Let's face it, they don't come out of a Cracker Jack box. Still, we pondered over some of the players who probably deserved to have one, and probably should've earned one, but sadly, they never made it.
For some odd reason, the names of quarterbacks were most common on our list of "deserved one"'s, and Dan Marino's was most lamented. But I find it intriguing that this year our pick of who we would like to see win it, if it can't be the Steelers, is the guy who just might break Dan Marino's record for TD passes in one season. We like the Colts.
And the point of all of this...
Life isn't fair!
We always get what we've earned, what we've worked for, but we don't always get what we deserve, what we would like to have. It's a simple rule of life, the essence of the very universe in which we live.
At this moment, I'm feeling this very deeply. The way things are going between myself and Jo, I can't help but wonder; "Did I 'earn' what's happening to me, or do I 'deserve' it? Or is this just God's way of forging me into the person that he wants me to be? Am I, in a sense, 'earning' the blessings that He has in store for me? Or will the way that I deal with my situation show Him that I 'deserve' those blessings?"
It's all so very complicated for me for many reasons. As I said before, I know that God hates divorce. So, why would He, or can He, use it to make me into a better person, a better Christian even? And this question just leads me to more and more ponderous queries. Is He unable to change my heart while I'm still married? Is He unable to change Jo's? Is it simply that whatever we had to go through with each other has finally been completed?
I know that God knows something about my situation that I'm not seeing (DUH!). I just wish that I could get a little glimpse of it. I know that I've already begun to make plans for carrying on my life, in a way that will make things better for both myself, and my kids, but I don't know if they'll work out. I'd like to think that they will, but there are too many hidden factors still. Factors, that until everything started to happen, I would never have considered... but I won't get into all of that. I'm just so unsettled by it all.
However, I'm still trusting Him for all things to end well for all of US. And this is a far cry from some of the things I was feeling earlier today (right Kenn?). I'm still trusting Him to give my family a Merry Christmas. And I'm strangely at peace, now that I've gotten some of this off of my chest. Thanks.

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A completely different conversation

As is the case so often with me. Whenever I have a conversation with three or more people within a short amount of time. I take that as a cue from God to post my thoughts about it here. So this is what I've been talking about with several people lately.
A young lady asked me if there was any such thing as "The Unforgivable Sin". I hesitated on answering because I wanted to make sure of what it was that she was really asking. So, I asked her in return; "Why? Do you think that you, or someone you know has committed it?"
Now, it was her turn to hesitate. "Well... I've always heard that if you commit suicide, you can't go to Heaven. Is that true?"
"No. That's not true." I started, "Do you know someone who's committed suicide... or should I not ask?"
"No... I mean... you can ask... but... I don't know someone who did... maybe... tried... but... you know?" was her confused reply.
"Allow me to explain my answer." and I'll tell it without the quotation marks from here on out.
Suicide is not "The Unforgivable Sin", which is not to say that there isn't one, but suicide is not it. Suicide earned it's reputation as the ONE sin that can't be forgiven because the Catholic church required it's parishoners to not only confess their sins to a priest, but to do some form of penance for those sins. Without these two "rituals" (for lack of a better term), you can't be forgiven. If you can't be forgiven, you can't go to Heaven. So, if you've killed yourself (committed self-murder), then logic says that you can do neither, thus you go to Hell.
But, to take this position, you have to believe two things that aren't true. First and foremost, you have to believe that the grace of God, the forgiveness provided by Christ's death and resurrection, is not enough to rescue you from ALL of your sins. If that's true then how can we be sure that ANY of our sins are forgivable?
The second thing that you must believe, that is untrue, is that some man, type of man, or group of men, have the power to either forgive, or withold the forgiveness of, sin. And, if that is possible, we're all in deep shit because how do we know who has that power?
So, no. Suicide is not "The Unforgivable Sin", but as I already said, that doesn't mean that there isn't one. So what sin is unforgivable?
Jesus called it "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit", but that probably doesn't mean much to anyone who doesn't already have a firm grasp on theology. So, I'll paraphrase. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit, is to deny His workings in your life, or in the lives of others around you. It is basically stealing glory from God, by attributing it to someone, or something, else.
But we don't always recognize the work of the Spirit, because we so often have a limited knowledge of what He really does. Thus, we can find ourselves questioning whether or not something was the work of the Holy Spirit, or if it was just a coincidence. So, I'll share this thought with you: The work of the Holy Spirit is to draw our attention to Jesus Christ. He will remind us of His words, His teachings His life and death, and all the grace provided by them. The work of the Spirit is to convict us of our sins, to lead us to repentance. And He does this work in the lives of those who do not even care about such things. To ignore this work, whether it be in our own life or in the lives of others is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
But here's the catch. It can only be committed one time. Which is not to say that once you've done it, you can't go to Heaven, but there is only one time that you can commit "The Unforgivable Sin". It can only be committed at the moment that you die.
You can spend your life rejecting God, and His works, and His words, and His people, but until you die, until you are DEAD, you can ask for forgiveness and fall upon the mercy of God, and be permitted into Heaven. It's that simple.
Yes, I believe that to be the truth. No matter what you've done in this life. Our sin is no longer the thing that keeps us out of Heaven. Whether that sin be as "little" as telling a "little white lie" or if it's as "big" as mass-murder. The grace that Jesus provides is complete. It's up to us to accept that grace and then to live accordingly. We make our own choice in the matter, as to where we will spend eternity.
Yet, one must consider this; after spending a lifetime in abject hatred of God, fighting against Him, resisting His call, do you really think that anyone would want to suddenly change their mind? It happens, but it's rarely heard of. So, don't get the impression that I'm telling you that you can go out and live like Hell for the next X number of years. Because such a lifestyle will take it's toll on your spirit. But, more importantly, you never know when your time will come. So, perhaps it 's better to be ready as soon as possible.

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Quote for 12/23/04

"Where is He who is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him."
The Magi (Matthew 2:2)

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Christmas Special update... #24

Christmas Eve... There's a lot of good stuff to watch!

Miracle on 34th Street Marathon - starts @6:00 AM runs 'til 4:00 AM Christmas Day AMC
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie @ 9:00 AM Hallmark
How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 10:00 AM & 12:00 PM TOON
Jingle All The Way Marathon starts @ 6:00 PM runs 'til Midnight FX
Frosty's Winter Wonderland @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
Santa Claus is Coming to Town @ 8:00 PM ABC/Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus @ 9:00 PM ABC/Family
A Christmas Carol: The Musical @ 9:00 PM NBC
Rudolph's Shiny New Year @ 10:00 PM ABC/Family

I realize that Jingle All The Way is pretty lame, but it will suffice until the good stuff comes on. Also, the NBC presentation of A Christmas Carol: The Musical, is pretty well done.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

We are sooooo bad.

JT, and I, are going to burn in Hell for what we did yesterday.
So we're sitting in church during our Tuesday Evening Family Service, heckling P.Dave... No! that isn't what's going to be sending us into the Abyss. We've always excelled at heckling our pastor. It wasn't until after the sermon, when the children began their rehersal for the Christmas Eve Service, that we lost it. We just couldn't help ourselves. We had to make fun of almost everything that went on, you really would have had to have been there.
"God I'm sorry for my grievous sins... mumble, mumble, mumble... and feed the starving pygmies in Africa. Amen." - JT's make-shift prayer. Which we used in an overabundance last night. We don't think there are enough "starving pygmies in Africa" to cover us though.

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Quote for 12/22/04

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only,who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
St. John (John 1:14)

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Christmas Special update... #23

A few nice choices for Dec. 23rd/23th

How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 10:00 AM & 8:00 PM TOON
Jack Frost @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
A Christmas Carol @ 8:00 PM TCM

Does anybody else think that the people at Rankin/Bass were pushing it with a Groundhog Day special? Well, here it is anyway. Let's face it folks, Jack Frost doesn't have anything to do with Christmas... ABC/Family is just desperate to get as many of these animated shows on the air as possible. But I'm O.K. with that.

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Hey! Look at that!

If you visit regularly, you may have noticed that the two posts that preceeded this one weren't REALLY posted at the times that they claim to have been... Just pretend you didn't see that.
I set them up yesterday morning at work, but didn't get to post them when I got home. So, here they are now. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Quote for 12/21/04

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me one who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times."
Micah 5:2

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Christmas Special update... #22

Let's see what's going on for Dec. 22nd/22th

The Little Drummer Boy @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
Story of the First Christmas Snow @ 7:30 PM ABC/Family
A Muppet Christmas Carol @ 8:00 PM Disney

The Muppets do and excellent job in their portrayal of the Dickens classic. However, I once saw a version of it that was edited into a "politically correct" presentation, where Tiny Tim doesn't say "God bless us, everyone.". Instead, he and Scrooge (Michael Caine) announce "Merry Christmas, everyone.". How pathetic! I'm glad that I've not seen that one since.

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Monday, December 20, 2004

"Hotness! Hotness! Hotness!"

Bobby Cross - but you have to dance around with your hands flailing wildly in the air, as if to cool them off, as you say it.

Yes, that was the running joke all of last night and today. The Boy decided to heat up a little nacho cheese in it's jar. When he took it out of the microwave, Aliesha had stepped between him and the place on the counter that he was headed for. So, by the time he did get the jar on the countertop, his fingers were pretty well toasted. That's when he did his little dance. You'd really had to have been there, but it was great. We're still laughing about it.

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Quote for Dec.20/2004

"Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel."
Isaiah 7:14

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Christmas Special update... #21

There's only one thing that I find to be worthwhile for Dec 21st/21th

A Flintstones Christmas Carol @ 9:00 AM TOON

Not that I'll be home to watch it, but some of you might.

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

The commercial season

You're probably expecting this to be about the commercialization of a Holy-day (holiday), but it's not. As much as I find it to be an exploration of our wretched excesses, I don't really mind the idea of people going out and spending all kinds of money on things that they wouldn't typically spend money on. I'm such a capitalist.
Instead, this is about the commercials of the season. I have to say, there are usually some really good ones out there, and some real crappy ones too. This year my favorite is the Capital One commercial with the barbarian horde driving Santa and his elves before them. Trashing the Mall, the woman with the little perfume spritzer, the lone barbarian staring at the manequin in the bathing suit. I'm especially fond of the moment when the Capital One card is pulled out, and there's a guy swinging into the background on decorated garland, then he just sorta drops to the ground. Coooool.
I like it even better than the Office Max rip-off of the Rankin-Bass animated specials. C'mon what does Rubber-Band Man have to do with Christmas. If they had chosen a Christmas song for this I might have given it the number one spot.
My least favorite; The Coca-Cola polar bears. How sweet, we get to see the whole polar bear family together. Ya know something... polar bear mothers will attack polar bear fathers, because polar bear fathers have a tendancy to eat the cubs since food can be very scarce in the arctic. But they won't show us that.

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Christmas Special update... #20

For Monday, Dec. 20th

The Christmas Truce @ 12:00 PM & 6:00 PM History Channel
Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
March of the Wooden Soldiers @ 8:00 PM WGN

I'm a history buff, especially when it comes to war. Isn't March... a Laurel & Hardy classic? I may have to watch this.

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Quote for 12/19/04

"For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His sholders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

So begin the Christmas quotes. the ones that really deal with what Christmas is all about.

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Well... here goes.

I've finally decide to open up about what's been troubling me so much lately. And I have to say that this is going to be one of the most difficult posts for me to make. I can think of few other issues that would trouble me as deeply as this one has.
I've been avoiding the issue of my pending divorce. It looms over my horizon like the darkness of an approaching storm. It causes me great grief and misery, while at the same time I still see the glimmer of a silver lining to those forboding clouds.
No, it isn't that I expect Jo and I to resolve our differences and reconcile, but at least we're going to do this amicably.
I guess that this has been a long time coming, but I just didn't want to see it. We've always had our fair share of problems. And there's certainly been enough personality conflicts between us, but I always thought we could work things out. It would seem, however, that we never really worked things out. We just kept putting things off-to-the-side until later. Something would come up in our lives and we'd have to put our differences on hold, without resolving the issues. So, now it's finally come back to bite us.
I have to admit that it isn't so simple as "we just don't make each other happy". It's actually a matter of making each other miserable. We don't like the people that we are when we're together. And not that we don't like each other, but it's hard to live with someone who isn't happy, let alone miserable, with themself. And that's where we are right now.
I've lost a sense of myself over the 17 years that we've been married. I've made changes to who I am, and even to what I believe for the sake of this marriage. All some attempt to keep the peace, make her happy. Yet, none of it worked. Then, one day this fall, she announced to me that I had to make another change to my personality... or else, and I just said "No.". I looked over 17 years and decided that if the various small changes that I had made hadn't helped, then there's no way that one more was going to.
Of course, God had something to say about all of this. As I was away at my Uncle and Aunts 50th Anniversary, the Holy Spirit really dealt with me about my attitude toward everything. I repented and promised to come home and work things out. Unfortunately, Jo had decided that it was too late. And thus, I am here writing about how I'm going to be getting a divorce, instead of about how wonderful it is being married to such a beautiful and wonderful woman.
And don't get me wrong here. I do still think of Jo as a very beautiful (this is an undeniable fact), and wonderful person... just not with me. I would be blessed if I could spend the rest of my life with her, but we just can't do it anymore.
I think that beyond all of the things that I've just written about, the thing that bothers me the most is the fact that I really have a hard time with divorce. I know that God hates it, I know it's a sin, I know that it's hard on families and friends and all of that, but most of all I know how destructive it is to our society. The very fabric of our civilization is built upon this foundational building block - the family unit. And here I am contributing to the breakdown of our society. Yes, I realize that I'm not doing so much damage, but still, the lingering thought haunts me.
My comfort comes from knowing that we are going to do the best we can to maintain a decent family structure for my kids. We already have some of our arrangements made, we just have to start with some paper work. our agreement works out well for me.
I get to keep the house, and most of what's in it. We will share custody of the kids, one week with me, one with her. She doesn't want any support or alimony. And we even have arrangements made for the short term living situation. Whatever she's taking gets moved downstairs into the family/gameroom. I have to stay upstairs. She will do my laundry since I won't have access to the washer and dryer. Once the papers are filed, she has until June 1st to find a job that will support her, and find a place to live. when the divorce becomes final, it will be over.
There is so much more that I could go on about with this, too. But I really don't want to gripe or moan, or cry about it too much. I just wanted to get this off of my chest. Besides, the other stuff may come up in future posts. We'll wait and see.
Strange how I've managed to keep the holiday spirit through this. But I really have tried to remain positive about it all. As I've said before, I really do believe that God allows everything to happen for a reason. And I can see how my future might shape up after this is over.
Again, please keep me in your prayers. Thanks.

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Quote for 12/18/04

"It's freaking 'Christmas'! Where the Hell is Jesus!"
Rose Soma-Tenet (Radio-Rose)

On the absence of Christ in Christmas these days. A valid point, and stated with great passion.

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Christmas Special update... #19

Starting the week of Christmas tommorrow Dec. 19th

Frosty's Winter Wonderland @ 2:00 PM ABC/Family
Rudolph's Shiny New Year @ 3:00 PM ABC/Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus @ 4:00 PM ABC/Family
Santa Claus is Coming to Town @ 5:00 PM ABC/Family

Hey! A mini-marathon of the Rankin-Bass Specials. Awesome!

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"Thank you, officer. Have a Merry Christmas."

- M+

On a side note. I have one more proof that Jesus loves me.
After eating (at CiCi's Pizza) last night, I gave Aliesha the chance to drive around the parking lot for a little while before we headed home. Somebody wasn't paying attention to the road and nearly T-boned us. Aliesha paniced and couldn't decide if she should have hit the gas and gotten out of the way, or if she should've jammed on the brakes and stopped dead. Fortunately, the mini-van swerved and went around us, blowing their horn as they did. But that's not what this is about.
When I took over the wheel and headed out onto the road I just went. Shortly thereafter I got pulled over. Aliesha hadn't turned the lights on the whole way, so I was driving without my headlights. The officers were nice about it. They checked on my stuff and then sent us on our way. No harm, no foul.
I did not need a ticket right now, and thankfully, I didn't get one.
"Jesus loves me this I know...", because of the ticket I didn't get last night.

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Christmas shopping-ed out... NOT!!!

Did the big Christmas shopping last night. WOOHOO!!!
Me and the Boy went out and just went gung-ho with the cash I had for it this year. It was great. I only have a few small items to pick up yet, and some of those will be able to be had at the Dollar Tree, some at the Super Flea, and the rest... wellllll... We'll see.
Wal-Mart is such a fun place at this time of year. People get so frantic over every little thing and I just sit back and watch and wait for something really funny to happen. And something always does.
Last night, some guy with about half of the store in his cart tried to sneak into the twenty items or less lane. He had stepped away from his cart before I got into the line. I assumed that it was one of those unfortunate, "abandoned" carts that people will leave lying around when they realize that they don't have the time, or money, to spend. So, I pushed it aside and out of the way of the rest of us paying customers. When the "gentleman" (and I use that term loosely) returned he asked me what happened to his cart, why I moved it, and attempted to push it back into it's original place.
"Oh, was that you're cart? I'm sorry, but this is a 20 items or less lane. I figured it shouldn't be blocking the rest of the line. I moved it aside so that you'll be able to move around without getting stuck in the traffic."
He didn't know how to respond to my polite little speech, so he just went away. I caught him shoot an ill-favored glance my way from the longer line that he ended up standing in.
Hey, I've got the spirit of Christmas just oozing out of my pores right now, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let people take advantage of me. Follow the rules like the rest of us and everybody will have a Merry Christmas. But if you insist on being a selfish jerk, I'll gladly be the one to put you in your place... (it's in that very long, slow-moving line on the other side of the store, thank you, bu-bye).
Afterwards, we went to get Aliesha from work and then headed out to CiCi's Pizza.
All-you-can-eat-pizza-buffet for only $3.99... mmmmmmmmmm. I can't wait 'til they open one in Monroeville.
Came home and hit the sack.
I am now preparing to head out to do some more shopping. WOOHOO!!!
Later.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

Christmas Special update... #18

Looks like there's some decent stuff on tommorrow Dec. 18th

How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 4:30 PM TOON
The Story of Santa Claus @ 8:00 PM CBS
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation @ 8:00 PM NBC

Wasn't Christmas Vacation on last week? I guess the networks don't have a problem with re-running the old favorites.

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Quote for 12/17/04

"Ya know what really burns my ass?... a flame about 'this' high!"
Phyllis Pronio (hereafter referred to as 2xP)

It came up yesterday in a little gripe session we were having. You have to hold your hand about 2 and a half feet above the ground when you say 'this'.

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A simple solution

I had a conference with Bobby's teachers on Tuesday. It was quite pleasant to discover that all of his teachers enjoy having him in their classes. It was also enjoyable to learn that he is very enthusiastic about the things he is learning. A little TOO enthusiastic, according to his teachers.
They like the energy he brings to the classroom, and his positive attitude toward learning, especially in science and history. But they think he needs to bring it down a little. I informed them that he gets it from me. WOOHOO!!!
We also briefly discussed some issues that he is having with other students. I had to bite my tongue on this topic though. The teachers, and the guidance counselor seem to think that they have the situation in hand. I say we'll wait and see.
The issue is one of, shall we say, "a presonality conflict", with another student. The other student, according to the Boy, is constantly insulting and harrassing him. And, of course, the schools these days have a zero tolerance for legitamate self-defence. So, Bobby goes on taking crap, day after day, because he doesn't want to break the rules, get in trouble, etc... Meanwhile, the other kid, who obviously has no such compunctions, continues to get away with what is clearly Harrassment.
I know what the real solution is. Call a lawyer, and show up at the next meeting of the school board. But I'm too much of a conservative to be able to appreciate that route. So, instead I propose the following:
Two pieces of paper, and two pairs of boxing gloves... and someone to sell tickets.
The papers would be waivers for the parents and students to sign, saying that they agree to this, and will not sue the school for the resolution. Failure to sign the waiver will be construed as an admission of guilt by the student in question, and thus will be appropriately disciplined for the infraction in question.
The two students will then be put in the ring (complete with paying spectators... to cover the costs of utilizing the schools facilities) where they will fight it out according to standard rules of boxing.
When the dust settles, one student will have clearly established himself as being at least one rung above the other in the proverbial "food chain" of playground politics. Problem solved!
This is how it used to be done, way back when I was a kid. Two kids had a problem, they'd go out onto the playground, and they'd settle it themselves. There were no lawyers, no lawsuits, no parents, and no teachers until it was over. Just two kids establishing themselves in the social structure of the schoolyard. It was how things always were. And for millenia, through all the ages of mankind, this was how it was done.
Now, we force our young men to deny the very essence of their nature, and wonder why there are so many problems in our schools. Ask any psychologist, they'll tell you that when people aren't permitted to express those deeply felt emotional highs and lows, they will manifest themselves in other ways later in life. And quite often in a brutal and destructive way. This politically correct bullshit is not helping our boys to grow up to be well adjusted men. For decades now we've tried to do it the politically correct way and look at how our society is crumbling. But it was never like this before. So, let's be honest with ourselves... what changes have made things so bad? And why didn't we see these kinds of problems from those of us who lived through the age-old ways of growing up into men? Could it be that the old-ways actually served a better utility to growing up? Maybe we need to return to some of them?
Of course, this will never happen. So, I will simply bide my time and wait to see if the school actually has my son's situation in hand. If they should fail to resolve the matter to my satisfaction... well... I have a sister-in-law that works for Reed-Smith, a very large and prestigious law firm in the 'burgh (and elsewhere). I'm sure that she could find someone to at least write a letter to the board.
God, how I hate myself for thinking that way. I'd rather just go and punch the other kids father in the nose for raising such in insolent brat! Hey! Another problem solved!

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Awesome !!!

We just had a brief on-floor meeting with Drill-Sgt Dan. He gathered us together to show us a flag that our Marines had signed as a "Thank you". We've been told that it will be put on display in the cafeteria for all to see. It's truly awesome !!!
Semper Fi !!!

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Christmas Special update... #17

For Dec. 17th ...

I got nuthin' !!!

My list of specials doesn't have anything of interest today. Anything that is on my lists is local to the 'burgh. And that doesn't help many of you.

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My apologies

I have to apologize for the brevity of my most recent posts (excluding, of course, Into the flame, ... and out of the ashes, which I had saved in my documents file until it was time to post them). But I haven't been able to get as much on-line time as I normally used to. It's all a part of the situation that I've been going through here at home. The one that I've been avoiding posting about, and that I've been asking you all to pray about. Eventually, I will be putting something up about it, it's just finding the right words, and the right way to bring it up.
As usual, I'm too pressed for time to say much more. So, I will say thanks for your continued prayers, and I hope to have things back on track soon.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Quote for 12/15/04

"What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us who can be against us?"
St. Paul (Romans 8:31)

Because I think it fits so well with the story I shared this week.

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Christmas Special update... #16

This one makes no sense to me, but here goes anyway. Dec. 16th

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ 8:00 PM ABC

This was already on once and I've never known any of the broadcast networks to replay a Christmas Special twice in one season. Also of note, I don't see anything listed for ABC/Family Channels 25 Days of Christmas. Not even one of their cheesy holiday romance flicks. So what gives here?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Christmas Special update... #15

We're gettin' down to the nitty-gritty of the holiday, now. Seems like there are more good specials on each day. These are the ones listed for tommorrow, Dec. 15th

Rudolph's Shiny New Year @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
Santa Claus is Coming to Town @ 8:00 PM ABC/Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus @ 9:00 PM ABC/Family
A Christmas Carol @ 9:00 PM TNT

That's a pretty good line up if you ask me. I wonder if A Christmas Carol is the Patrick Stewart (Capt. Jean-Luc Picard) version, TNT does so love having him in their mini-series', so why not his version of the Dickens classic.

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... and out of the ashes

We awoke on Saturday, the 14th, to see the local news. As I said, in Into the flame, we just went through the ordeal, we didn’t want to re-live it again. Still, there it was, for all to see, on the news. So, once again, I got to watch my house as it burned. Oh, joy.
I waited awhile and decided to call my pastor. I figured that, since he is both my pastor and my friend, he ought to know what happened. As I told him what happened I eventually got to the part where I acknowledged my thoughts that God has a reason, and a plan, to use this experience to bless me. Strangely, P. Dave reminded me that sometimes bad things just happen, but I knew better. At least, in this instance, I believed with all my heart that God was going to use this experience to bless me. And not only me, but many others through me. We ended our phone call with a prayer, and I set out to start a brand new day.
I wanted to go over to the house to make sure that it was all locked up, and to rummage around a little bit more. I was hoping that in the daylight the damage wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed in the dark of night. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how things turned out. The full light of day only made things look worse.
Still, I couldn’t help but notice that our Christmas tree still looked very nice in our huge picture window. Even more intriguing were the two little statues that were standing on the windowsill. One of Mary, and one of Joseph. They’re very tall, and slender statues, without much base to stand upon. Yet, there they were still standing. Even after all of the commotion. No small feat in and of itself. I knew that I had to go inside and get them.
I could see all of the damage that had been done by the whole event. Even though several of the firemen had tried to tell us that it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t agree with them now. Things looked bad from where I was standing.
I walked cautiously through the house, looking around for anything that wasn’t broken. The majority of our furniture had been damaged by the water, only a few pieces that were made of glass and metal were clearly unharmed. I would have to come back for those though, today’s mission was the smaller more valuable, and easier to be looted, items that we had to leave behind. The little statues came with me to the second floor.
It was hard to look into our bedroom. There had been two large mirrors that made up the sliding doors on our closet. They were now shattered and laying across our bed like so much glitter. Beside them lay much of our clothing. The firemen wanted to keep it all from catching and causing the fire to spread further and faster. A section of the ceiling had collapsed onto our dressers and effectively rendered them unreachable, at least for now. And finally one of the windows had been knocked out onto the back deck below. It was not a pretty sight, but I was expecting it to be like this. I’d have to be a fool not to.
I did, however, manage to find two jewelry boxes that hadn’t been covered by the ceiling. I opened them up to find all of Jo’s favorite pieces still intact. And yet another small miracle.
After that I moved into Bobby’s bedroom. For all of the damage that had been done to his walls, the biggest part of the mess was that his beds and box-springs had been overturned and were now laying in the middle of the floor. I was fascinated by how well Bobby’s room appeared at this point. Then it occurred to me, all of his furniture was metal. It was an antique set that my mother had from my dad’s late uncle. It was old, and sturdy, and practically survived unscathed, with most of the contents as well. I walked over to the short dresser to open the top drawer, the one that Bobby kept his favorite toys in. Sure enough, everything inside was just as he had left it. The same was true for most of his clothing as well. Can you say “another small miracle.”?
I putzed around for another moment or two before deciding that I had to go up to the third floor. I was dreading it because I knew that there was going to be a lot of damage up there, maybe more than I wanted to face. But I turned into the stairway and started up anyway.
The third floor was remarkably bright because of the missing section of roof in what would’ve been Aliesha’s room. I avoided going into it right away and instead opted for the back storage room. It really did not look so bad. The beams that supported the roof were a bit charred, a small section of the floor had fallen through (on top of our bedroom dressers), but that was all. Most everything seemed to be intact in this room, but this was also the room that held all of the ‘junk’ that we just hadn’t gotten rid of yet. Another moment of delicious irony.
The middle closet seemed to be gone. There was a door frame, and a section of floor, but most everything else had either burned up, or fallen through with the floor. I was particularly upset by this since this was the room where I had been keeping all of my tapes, and albums, and other odd collectibles. Now they were all gone. I couldn’t even find my collection of pewter figurines.
I hesitated before finally facing Aliesha’s room. I didn’t want to look inside. I knew what it was going to look like, and I didn’t want to face that yet, but I did anyway. I stood in the doorway looking at what was, for all intents and purposes, an ash heap. I could make out some of the frame work of her furniture, the coils from her mattress, her melted TV, and stereo. It was a shock to my system. So much so, that for the first time, through the entire ordeal, I felt a sense of despair come over me like a shadow. I felt all of my strength melt away from me. My legs were suddenly just strong enough to keep me from falling on my face. I grew painfully cold, and horribly unsettled by a chill that seemed to run up and down my spine for several seconds. I felt beaten.
It was at this moment that I lowered my head, and offered what was half of an accusation and half of a prayer to God. “Oh, God. What am I going to do now? What’s going to happen?” was what I said. And in a moment of absolute clarity I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me.

“Do you think that I’m blind, that I don’t see this, that I don’t know what’s happening here? Do you think that I would abandon you? I see this. All of this. And all you need to do is to just sit back and watch Me work.”

In the space of a heartbeat my strength had returned to me. The chill had left, and I wasn’t so afraid of what might happen next. I prepared myself for whatever might come my way, and I headed out of the house.
That moment, is the one moment, that has led me to this moment, here and now. I could easily have hung my head and said “Nah, that wasn’t God trying to tell me something. This was all some great, cosmic mistake.”. And then I could’ve went out and moped about my tragedy to anyone who was willing to listen. And believe me, there are plenty of people who are willing to listen to a good sob story. Instead, I went out and faced the world ready to tell everyone about the great things that God was going to do for me. And He did them!
I went back to my mother-in-law’s with the tiny treasures that I had rescued from amid the debris. Jo was making arrangements for her brother, and brother-in-law, to come over and help us to recover some of our surviving furniture. It would have to wait for another day, but it was a relief to know that things were beginning to move forward. Jo also began to get into contact with some of the relief agencies that help at times like these.
The Red Cross was first to respond, so when the Salvation Army called, we turned them down so that they might keep their resources for somebody else. The Red Cross immediately provided vouchers for us to go shopping to replace enough clothing to get us through a week or so. They offered to pay for a hotel stay for a few days, but we informed them that we had already made arrangements. That evening we did the shopping and began the transition into Jo’s sister’s house for the short term.
The following day I went to church. At the time I didn’t go to the morning services. Instead, I attended the contemporary service on Sunday evenings. Our worship leader, JD, approached me with the full expectation of comforting me through the situation. Little did he know that I was quite satisfied to know that God was already watching out for us. I told him that I wasn’t letting this get to me, that I knew God had some tremendous blessing just waiting for me. JD was stunned to hear me say this. Even being a man of great faith, he found it amazing that somebody could go through what my family was going through and still consider themselves to be blessed… beyond the whole “we all got out alive” thing, that you always hear so much about. Sharing my sentiments with everyone else left them all with a sense of blessing. That’s where it began.
When I returned to work on Monday, I was greeted by several of my co-workers who were expecting to offer me some sense of comfort as they asked me about what had happened. I began to tell the story to one person. As I shared the experiences of the night, more gathered around, and I continued. They were all amazed at how easily I spoke of it all, the confidence by which I attributed all of the small miracles to the hand of a mighty God, who has never allowed me to fall. I told them all of what the Holy Spirit had spoken to my heart in the doorway of my daughter‘s room. And I watched them all shiver as the chill ran up their spines. I concluded the story by telling everyone who had come to hear the following;
“I cannot allow this to bring me down. If I let this event break me, then my faith is nothing. If I cannot cling to God through this, expecting Him to perform great things on my behalf, then anything I’ve ever said about what I believe means nothing. And my faith is not for nothing. I will see God work miracles in my life because of this, and all of you will see those miracles, too.”
There was a swell of weeping after this, not the sadness that everyone had originally expected, but tears of great joy that such an awesome story had been shared with them. This same event took place several times through the entire day. Like I said, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to listen to a good sob story, but I’ve seen how people respond to a good miracle. And I’ll take that response to the other any day.
Over the course of the next few days, there were several collections taken by my co-workers, my church, my community, and the schools that my kids attended. There was a great flood of generosity toward us, and it really did help us to get ourselves back on our feet, until the insurance could work itself out. It also made for a truly unforgettable Christmas. One that almost wasn’t.
Things did seem to move quickly afterwards. We found a house nearby to rent until we could figure out what to do next. Our insurance company fronted us enough money to replace our furniture. Life was beginning to fall into place again.
Their was a lot of speculation as to whether or not we should try to repair the house and move back in, or if we should just pay it off and try to find something else. The mortgage company made that decision for us. They required that we pay off the mortgage once the settlement was reached. We figured that it was probably for the better since the repairs would’ve cost us at least three times what we paid for the house. And after paying off the mortgage company, we wouldn’t have anywhere near enough to get the work done.
I admit that it was kinda sad. After all, this was our first house, we had lived in it for just over a year (we moved in the weekend before Thanksgiving, 2001), and we were already making great memories in it. It felt as if a piece of our lives had been suddenly cut away from us. In a sense, I guess it was true. And God never said that the process wouldn’t hurt. Eventually, Jo and I came to accept this as a way of getting a brand new start in life. Everything had pretty much been taken away from us, so there was nowhere to go but up. What was left of the house was torn down in March of this year… anybody wanna buy an empty lot on Pitcairn?
We began the long slow process of replacing the things that were lost, or at least the ones that were replaceable. The insurance settled with us by May, agreeing to pay us the full amount of what we were insured for. That’s when we began the search for a new home of our own. We spent the next few months looking around at places that we thought we could afford, and never really liked any of them. So many of them were “fixer-uppers”, and I’m not a very handy individual. By August, we were beginning to wonder if we would even find another house that we could afford. Things seemed bleak.
That’s when we found a house that we both liked, and didn’t seem to need too much work. It had a big yard with a big rock sitting under a tree, A huge deck, and plenty of room inside. The only problem was that it was just a little bit higher in price than what we wanted to pay (what we thought we could afford).
We mulled it over for several days, while continuing to look at other houses, and none of them seemed right. Finally, as September rolled around, we decided to go ahead and bid on it. We knew we had to bid much lower than what the house was listing for, but we were hoping that the sellers would understand that it was only a matter of what we could afford, and not some insulting low-ball bid. But we wanted to look at the house one last time before we bid, make sure that we could do it.
It was a Wednesday evening when we were supposed to go look at the house. Our agent, Lynn, informed us of a house that was going to be placed on the market on Friday, but that it wouldn’t be open for viewing until Saturday. Lynn thought it was more in our price range. So we waited on the bid.
Friday came and she informed Jo that the house had a lock-box on it and we could go see it that night. We did, and it was a mess. Not that the house was in bad shape, but there was such a mess on the inside. Stuff was everywhere. The previous owner obviously did woodworking, because the basement was just full of wood of every kind, every size and every shape. The house was in desperate need of some cleaning, but other than that it seemed nice enough. Better yet, it was close enough to our price range that we could probably get it. Within a week we had placed our bid, put down a substantial amount of hand-money, and then we waited for the sellers.
A week later we were told that our bid was accepted. We were also told that our bid wasn’t the highest. The sellers, the children of the owner, were impressed by how much hand-money we put on it. They thought that anyone willing to drop that much money on their bid was really serious about that house. The fact that we were agreeing to buy it “as-is” (after some clean-up), probably helped, too.
We closed on the house on October 16th, 2003. We moved into our new house the weekend before Thanksgiving, 2003... Sound familiar? Small miracles everywhere! And now we’ve managed to make a pretty nice life for ourselves. We’ve made some home improvements, some minor changes, and really turned the place into our own. We have wonderful neighbors, in a quiet community. And it’s a great feeling to have all of that, and I know why I have it, too.
Through all of this, all of what I’ve just written here, I know that God was working on my behalf. People look at the kind of tragedy that we went through and they say “Oh, I don’t know how you did it. I don’t think I could’ve gotten through it like you have.”. Even beyond the event, they have a hard time with just getting through it. They lack the understanding that God will only allow us to suffer what we can handle, or what is needed to weed out the chaff. Those people are right, they couldn’t have gotten through it, and that may very well be the reason why they haven’t had to face anything like it. But I have a better blessing than any of them.
I believe that God wanted to do a great work in my life, not that he wanted to test my faith, or anything like that. I am convinced that God wanted to do something truly spectacular for me, and that He knew, well in advance, how I would react to this “trial by fire”, as it were. He probably also knew that this was going to be the best way of doing that spectacular work for me. I am convinced, by the words I read in the Psalms, and by my faith, that God allowed these things to happen in my life for His purposes. Because He knew that I would turn this into a great opportunity to give praise to His holy name. I believe, with all of my heart, that my faithfulness to His words, and the grace of Christ Jesus, are the only things which truly sustained me through it all. It was all in His plan, and His purpose, for my life. I am truly thankful to God for all of these things.
And, yes, I think this story goes along very well with what I shared in my “I got bettah… “ story. Especially my little speech at the end. I hope that I’ve been able to bless all of you with this story as well.

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Quote for 12/14/04

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose."
St. Paul (Romans 8:28)

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Christmas Specials update... #14

Seems to be a good bit of stuff going on for Tuesday, Dec. 14th

Jack Frost @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
Eight Crazy Nights @ 7:00 PM HBOFAM
How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 8:00 PM ABC/Family
I Want A Dog For Chistmas, Charlie Brown @ 8:00 PM ABC

I have no idea what this new Charlie Brown one is about. Guess we'll find out together.

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Into the flame

I am firm believer in what our founding fathers called “Divine Providence”, or to put it in more simple terms; I believe that everything that happens, happens for a reason, that all things are directed by the hand of God. With that being said, I’ll begin my story…
It was about 7:30 on Friday night, December 13th, 2002. Jo had just come home from her sister, Michelle’s house, in spite of our nieces begging her to spend the night. I was on my way to bed because I had to be up for work at 3:00 AM. All in all, a fairly normal evening for us, for the time of year. But that was soon to change.
I did my usual bedtime routine, bathroom, teeth, shorts, TV (for a little background noise to relax me), and I was off to La-La Land. I remember putting on ABC/Family Channel because I’ve always loved those Rankin/Bass animated Christmas specials, and it was “The 25 Days of Christmas” (WOOHOO!!). “The Year Without a Santa Claus” was just about to start as I faded off to my slumber.
It wasn’t much later, about 8:30, that I was rudely awakened by my kids running through the house yelling something about “fire”.
Huh… What?
Aliesha came into the bedroom yelling “Dad! Get up! The house is on fire!”. So, I jumped out of bed and stood there confused for a moment before what she had said really sunk in. “The house is on fire!”… Yeah, that’s what she said. “I guess I’d better do something.” I thought, but who thinks clearly when you’re fast asleep and suddenly jarred awake by your kids yelling about a fire in the house. That’s when I realized that the TV was still on and Heatmiser was doing his number. How ironic! (he is too much, you know?)
Now, I have to admit that my first instinct was to check the kitchen. If you’re gonna have a fire, you’d like to think it’s coming from the place where you actually have fires, under normal circumstances, anyway. But as I headed downstairs, Jo was at the bottom of the steps telling me that the fire was on the third floor, in Aliesha’s room. I turned to go up the next set of stairs, but Jo just yelled for me to put some clothes on so we could all get outside.
I turned to go back into the bedroom and grabbed a shirt. I was pulling it over my head as I ran down the stairs. When I reached the landing, Jo reminded me that it was winter, and I would probably need something better than the shorts I had been sleeping in. So… back upstairs I went, and grabbed a pair of sweats. Once again, I ran down the stairs, only to be greeted by Jo, and Bobby, yelling “The rabbit’s still on the third floor! The rabbit’s still on the third floor!”. Guess where I went!
When I got up to the third floor I saw Bunnicula just huddled up in his cage, and the thick, black smoke that was right about waist level for me. Fortunately, for me I didn’t just run right into the smoke, because that would’ve been really bad. Instead, I decided to try crawling into my daughters room to see how bad the fire was.
I looked across the floor and saw a flame, about the size of a basketball, issuing from the far wall. I paused for a moment and thought to myself, “I bet I could smother that with one of the quilts in her room.”, so I attempted to crawl into the room.
Bad idea! As I approached the door, the heat became more and more oppressive, and the smoke was getting thicker, and hanging lower to the floor. Scratch that brainstorm off of the list! Instead I just grabbed Bunnicula’s cage and headed downstairs.
I got back down to the first floor and saw two police officers coming into the house. Talk about fast! God bless all of the people who put their own lives on the line for the rest of us everyday! They ran up the stairs past me, as I ran out the front door.
I set the rabbit cage down on the front porch, and turned to go back inside. I figured that if the police, who were pretty much strangers to me, were willing to try to save my house, I should at least go in and try to help. No sooner had I walked back in the door than one of them had come back downstairs and asked if we had a fire extinguisher. DING! A little light went on inside my head. “Kitchen!” Off I ran into the kitchen, and without thinking grabbed the fire extinguisher that was on the wall. CRUNCH! I probably should’ve unhooked the clasp that held it in it’s holder, but the whole fixture came off easily… with a little chunk of paneling, too. OOOOOPs!
I handed him the extinguisher and he headed back up the steps, but not before he told me to get outside. I tried to tell him “But it’s my house!”. He didn’t listen.
So, outside I went, and by this time the entire neighborhood had gathered around for the show. Jo had managed to call the fire department during all of my insane running up and down the steps. They arrived within minutes of my getting outside.
Meanwhile, Jo, began to fill me in on what had made her and the kids aware of the fire. Jo had heard a loud “pop” and thought that it might’ve been Bobby falling down in the shower. Aliesha, checked in on him and found out that he was fine. Shortly thereafter, she smelled something burning. She went into the kitchen, while the kids checked the upstairs. Bobby took the second floor, and Aliesha headed up to her room. That’s when she discovered the fire. That’s when the commotion began.
Now, I looked up at the third floor window, that was at the front of Aliesha’s room, and could see the flames behind the glass. Smoke had already begun to stream through the roof, and we were starting to come to the full realization that our house was REALLY on fire. Jo started to cry, not a blubbering weepy sort of crying, it was just a simple sadness sort of crying. I held firm, not wanting to add to what she must’ve already been feeling inside. I simply stood outside watching and saying Jesus’ name under my breath. I didn’t know what else I could do.
Jo had been on the phone with her mother before her and the kids discovered the fire, so she was the first person Jo called from the cell phone when we were all safely outside. After that, Jo called her sister Michelle, the one whose house she had left barely an hour and a half earlier. Then Her sister Lori called, followed shortly by her brother Michael on our call-waiting. Everybody in her family was now aware of what was happening, now it was my turn.
As I said, I wasn’t crying because I wanted to be strong for Jo and the kids, and then I called my mother. For some odd reason having to tell her that my house was on fire just tore me apart inside. We had worked hard and gone through a lot to buy our first house and now here it was, burning. The tears flowed down my face, and I just couldn’t stop them now. My mother didn’t get as upset about it as I suspected she might, instead, she simply said that she’d call her prayer chain and let them know to pray for us. Another couple of minutes on the phone and I was doing O.K. again.
Many of our neighbors approached us to comfort us and offer any assistance that they might be able to provide. One of them took Sheba and Bunnicula into their home so they wouldn’t have to stay outside in the cold and commotion. Bobby and Aliesha joined them. Others brought out blankets and offered us coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate (The Salvation Army had arrived with the hot chocolate), but neither of us were feeling the cold at this point. All we could do was stand outside watching and waiting.
Time passed slowly. It didn’t seem like much of a fire when I saw it in Aliesha’s room, so I couldn’t help wondering why it was taking so long to put out. I was especially curious as to why it seemed to be getting worse. None of the firemen had come out at this point to tell us anything, so we just kept waiting.
Eventually, one of the firemen did finally approach us to let us know what was going on. He informed us that it wasn’t such a small fire, that it was burning inside the walls of the house. He told us that instead of the fire just burning “up” the walls of the house, it was burning “around” the walls. Basically, instead of the fire burning up the wall, where it started, to the roof, it spread around to the sides to the other walls. This was making it very difficult to fight. One of the other firemen, who had just come out, added to this by telling us that each time they thought they had the fire under control, it would pop out somewhere else. It was a very scary situation for everyone.
Jo’s brother had shown up shortly after he called, he only lived a mile up the road from us, so we weren’t surprised. Then her mother, and then her sister Lori. We began to make arrangements for afterwards. We were thinking rationally enough to know that we were going to need to find a place to stay. Lori agreed to take the kids and the animals. My mother-in-law asked us to stay with her. And that was good enough for everyone. But we still had the issue of the fire to wait out.
More time passed. Windows had burst from the heat, and a section of the roof had collapsed. Things were looking worse as they went. But through all of it I just kept whispering tiny prayers. I didn’t like what was happening, but I was sure that there was a reason why. I certainly didn’t know what it might be, and to be completely honest, I didn’t care. I just wanted it to be done. I wanted the fire to be out, so we could begin doing whatever needed to be done next.
Some time before midnight, one of the firemen came over to where Jo and I were standing to tell us that the fire was finally under control. We didn’t really know what this meant at the moment, but it sounded good to us. It meant that the fire was no longer spreading into different parts of the house. It also meant that there might be some things that we could salvage.
He asked if there was anything specific that we wanted them to look for. Did we ever!
We had already completed our Christmas shopping and had wrapped and stored all of the gifts in our bedroom closet. That’s what we wanted to find. We explained to the fireman which room and where the closet was located. He went off immediately to search for them. It only took a few minutes before he reappeared with the box full of presents.
The cheer that rose from the neighborhood rang out loud. It’s truly amazing how something so simple, can bring such joy to so many people, so easily. Now, don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think that this was any less of a miracle than the entire event, but these were people who had no real, vested interest in whether or not our gifts survived. For all that any of them knew, we might have not even started our shopping, but as soon as those wrapped packages came through the door the cheers and applause went up.
We set the packages on our neighbors porch and the firemen asked me if there was anything else. I remembered that I had left my wallet in the house somewhere, and that it held a recently cashed bonus check. I figured we were going to need that money, so I’d better go find it.
They led me into the house and pretty much let me take in the scenery. The first floor didn’t look too bad. A little messy, but the fire never made it down this far. I saw my work bag laying on the floor in the hallway, and my wallet was right on top. Chalk up another small miracle! I grabbed the bag and headed outside with it.
My work bag is jokingly referred to by some as my “survival bag”. Typically, I have pretty much anything that I might need to survive a nuclear holocaust. Snacks for my breaks, Tylenol, Band-Aids, batteries, CD player, Mini Mag-light, and several other items. One of the more important ones, and the one that held particular interest for me this night, was one of my Bibles.
As I stood on my neighbors porch, and looked across the street at the house, I could still see some of the flames through the hole that used to be my daughters window. I desperately needed some comfort at this time, so I dug out my Bible and turned to the Psalms. I paused for a moment to pray and ask God to guide me to the words that He wanted me to read. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and led me to the 112th Psalm. This is what it says:

“Praise the Lord.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who finds great delight in His commands.
His children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and
righteous man.
Good will come to him who is generous and lends
freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.
He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked man will see and be vexed,
he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to
nothing.”


It was comforting to know that God held such an opinion of me, even though I did not. But I trust Him more than I trust me.
It was now well past midnight, and there was no flame at all visible. Most of the crowd had slowly filtered away by this time and it was now pretty much just Me, Jo, her family, and our neighbors, watching the firemen do their job. And, again, we were allowed to go inside and look around for anything that we might particularly need or want to bring out. This time we were allowed to go up to the second floor. It was devastating.
In the darkness it was hard to see much of anything, but the destruction was plain to see. The charred wooden framework, the missing sections of wall and ceiling, and everything that was in some way smashed or broken by all of the commotion. And all of this through the dim light of the firemen’s helmet lights.
We cautiously moved around to find a few items that we felt were important. I grabbed the entire drawer from the computer desk, because that was where all of our important papers were. Neither of us could avoid taking just a few little trinkets with us, just for safekeeping.
Sometime after 1:00 AM the County Fire Marshall arrived. A routine procedure is to investigate the possibility of arson, so we were asked several questions before he went inside to look over the damage. After about 10 minutes of examining Aliesha’s room he came back outside to talk to us. From what he was able to observe, he determined that the fire was electrical, and it had started between the second and third floor. He told us that the loud “pop” that Jo and the kids had heard was probably the fire hitting a pocket of combustible material in between the frame and the wall. His experience told him that the fire had most likely been smoldering in the wall for several hours before that “pop”. He also informed us that had it not hit that pocket of material, it could’ve continued to burn quietly through the entire night, slowly suffocating us in our sleep, or possibly just bursting into a raging inferno at some point when we would’ve had no chance of getting out of the house. We were truly blessed.
2:30 rolled around and the firemen told us that the fire was out, but that they were going to stay awhile longer to make sure that there were no embers waiting to re-ignite the blaze. We decided that it was finally time to leave. So, we packed up our few belongings and headed over to my mother-in-laws.
As much as I was glad that we had a place to stay for the night, I really wished that it hadn’t been my mother-in-laws. She has a big heart, and is usually well intentioned, but she has this annoying habit of re-living misery. Continuously!
We had just went through the ordeal, and all she wanted to do was talk about it. All Jo and I wanted to do was try to forget about it, at least long enough to get some sleep. I think I managed to convey this idea to her without being rude, and off to sleep we all went.
I’m going to end this days post here, because this story has already run fairly long. I will conclude it tomorrow. After all, the story itself does span more than the one night of the fire. And that is what I’ll share with you in my next installment.
...to be continued...

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Quote for 12/13/04

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
Job (2:10)

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Christmas Special update... #13

Specials for tommorrow night, Dec 13th.

Twas the Night Before Christmas @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 8:00 PM TOON

That's it.

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A football day in the 'burgh

There's snow outside, I've got ribs boiling on the stove, the Boy and I have some munchies and pop, and the Steelers have a kick-off time of 4:05. What else do we need?
I love days like this. Aside from some laundry, I've got nothing to do but lay around and relax, and enjoy the day off. I need days like this after all of the OT I've been putting in at work. Now, as long as the Steelers continue their win streak, all will be right in the world.

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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Quote for 12/11/04

"You'd be amazed at how much you can do without, when you just don't have it."
M+

Came up in a conversation today about people who keep "everything". It just sounded right, and it makes a pretty good preview for the story I'll be posting on Monday.

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Christmas Special update... #12

Sunday looks to be an O.K. day for specials, that is... if you're not going to be watching football.

The Santa Clause @ 3:00 & 8:00 PM WGN
A Christnas Carol @ 6:15 PM AMC
Nat'l Lampoons Christmas Vacation @ 8:00 PM NBC
Miracle on 34th Street @ 8:00 & 11:00 PM AMC

I can't say which version of A Christmas Carol will be on AMC, but it's usually the one with Alistair Sim. It's my personal favorite, even better than the muppets.

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On the warpath

I couldn't believe it! I, and many of my co-workers, were going ballistic today. Typically, on a Saturday morning, we're allowed to use our radios and CD players without headphones at work, as long as nobody complains. In the 8+ years that I've worked for Respironics, there's never been a time when anyone complained about it... until today.
Somebody actually had the nerve to complain about the Christmas music that we had playing. Mind you, it was very loud, but when one considers that there's usually a bunch of different radios, playing a bunch of different stations, all over the production floor, you would think that the agreement on a single station playing Christmas music would be just fine. It wasn't.
The old, sour-pussed, battle-axe of a biddy just couldn't allow us the simple pleasure. She had to go and complain about how loud it was to HER supervisor. Not OUR supervisor (those of us in the electro-mechanical assembly area), he wasn't in at the time. So, she went and asked her boss (who is usually a decent guy, for a bleeding-heart liberal) to make us turn it down. And since she pretty much runs the show behind the scenes for him, he agreed. BITCH! Nobody likes the old hag anyway, so I guess she just has to do her best to make everyone else as miserable as she is.
So, some of us spent the rest of the morning "bickering", LOUDLY, back and forth about "Be quiet, you're too loud!", "No! You be quiet, you're being too loud!". It was a small consolation.
Then, of course, everyone started to taunt me about my display being next on her list of things to go. So I simply refered them to the ACLJ website to this particular page. I dare anyone to try and force me to take down my Christmas display.
Here's your bullet...

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Christmas Special update ...#11

In my humble opinion, there's only one thing worth watching this Saturday, Dec. 11th. And that is...

A Christmas Story @ 6:00 PM TCM

As far as I'm concerned, everything else on the list sucks!

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Quote for 12/10/04

"Strong hope is a much greater stimulant of life than any realized joy could be."
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Annotation for today's quotation

Perhaps you've noticed that today's Quote... is from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Among his more famous quotes is the rather infamous "God is dead.", and I am always reminded of this when I find a quote like today's because it seems to be at odds with the one I've mentioned above.
However, I always enjoy a little chuckle at the late Mr. Nietzsche's expense whenever I stumble upon one of his quotes because of a sketch from The Benny Hill Show. I recall a backdrop from a scene that is a brick wall with scattered pieces of graffitti all over it. Among the wittiscisms are two quotes, one above the other...

"God is dead."
- Fred

"Fred is dead."
- God

And I am reminded of the simple truth of such a comical statement. God, or the existence of people who have faith in Him, has successfully outlived every naysayer who's ever attempted to convince us otherwise. Curious, isn't it. You'd think that intelligent people would have learned this by now.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

What we would've done.

Alas... none of us managed to strike it rich with the Powerball, but I'll still share my answers with those of you who played along.

1) Other than your church or synagogue, what is the first (if any) charitable organization you would donate a substantial sum of money to? Definitely the Salvation Army.

2) Would you consider establishing a foundation, or endowment of your own, and what would it be for? Yes. Something to either help young women who find themselves pregnant and are willing to keep the baby ( a means of helping them to become self-sufficient), or some lobbyist group to have changes made in the way the ACLU is able to bill the government for their court costs, while their opponents have to pay for their own. Or maybe both!

3) How soon would you quit your job? 1 year.

4) Would you consider starting your own business, and what would it be? Yes. At least one restaraunt, an indoor shooting range and weapons store (it would include all kinds of weapons), and possibly a collectibles shop.

5) Would you throw a single, massive party for all of your friends and acquaintances, or would you keep it private and exclusive to only your closest friends and family members? Both! And all of you would be invited. I probably even pay your travel expenses.

6) Would you hire a particular band or performer to play at the party, and who would it be? No. I think a DJ would do a better job of mixing things up.

7) Would you consider moving? Where to, and why? Maybe not moving, so much as buying a vacation home in Denver.

8) Would you travel the whole world, or only to specific places of special interest to you? Only to a few specific places. I really want to see the Great Wall of China. I'd like to see Tokyo, all of Italy, Jerusalem, and every state in the union.

9) What NEW hobbies might you indulge yourself in? (at least 3) Buying and riding motorcycles, collecting antique/classic cars, craftwork (blacksmithing or woodworking or both)

10) What is the first investment you would make? A Roth IRA. After tax investment that gains tax-free interest!

11) Would you consider doing something illegal, just to see if your money could keep you out of jail? I'd consider it, but probably not do it. Besides, what I would like to do I wouldn't be doing to see if I can stay out of jail. It'd be because I wanted to do it. No, not the 3-Kill Rule!

12) Would you attempt to buy-out your current employer just so you could tell your bosses "You work for ME now."? Wouldn't have enough.

13) Would you hire an accountant, or control the money yourself? Just me.

14) Would you hire a "Personal Assistant"? Maybe. After my businesses took off.

15) How would you spend a typical day if you didn't have to go to work, or if you weren't travelling? After sleeping 'til 8:00 AM, I'd go indulge myself in one of my hobbies. Then I might go spend some serious money.

I was considering sharing the answers of some of my co-workers, but that would've taken up too much space. And I didn't want anyone to have to spend an hour reading this post.

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Christmas Special update... #10

Specials listed for Friday, Dec. 10th

Pinnocchio's Christmas @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 8:00 PM the WB
A Scooby-Doo Christmas @ 8:30 PM the WB

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of the Scooby-Doo Christmas, but Scooby still holds some nostalgic value for me. The only decent blend of Halloween and Christmas was Tim Burtons, 'Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas... just one incredible story.

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The lingering magic

I have to admit, having donned the Red Suit yesterday has left a certain sense of satisafaction in my soul. Several of my co-workers have commented on my "performance", and it makes me feel good to know that I do have such a strong showing of the Christmas Spirit.
Besides, it's the only way a guy can ask one of the pretty girls here if she wants to sit on his lap, without fearing the axe for sexual harrassment. NO! I didn't. I have better manners than that.
An added bonus of playing Santa... it's the only time you don't mind your belly looking bigger than you might like it to.

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Quote for 12/9/04

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
John Keats

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas Special update... #9

O.K., Tommorrow night, Dec. 9th.

Little Drummer Boy @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
Little Drummer Boy, Book II @ 7:30 PM ABC/Family

also... locally, on the WB we have Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.
How the Hell do you make a Christmas special out of that song?
Actually... I caught a part of this once before. Some kinda mystery about someone trying to frame Santa Claus for something, or the other... blah, blah, blah... I don't really remember. Nor do I really care to. Just thought I share that though.

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I am Santa Claus

... at least, today I was. Today was the annual Respironics Rookie Carol Sing. Everyone who was hired in the past year had to meet in the cafeteria to follow Santa Claus (ME) and his Elvish Assistants around the plant and administrative offices to carol all of the other employees. It's always a great deal of fun, for most of us. This was my 2nd/2th time playing the part of the Big Guy. I just exude the Christmas Spirit like no one else, I guess. WOOHOO !!! or should I say HOHO !!!

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What would you do with it?

With the Powerball being $ 171+ million dollars, the topic of conversation around work is "What I would do with the money.". Needless to say, my inquisitive nature, and playful disposition, being what they are, I turned it into a game... tell me you didn't see that coming. So, here are the directed questions that I came up with to ask some of my nearest co-workers. I'll post our answers later, but you can all feel free to play along at home and post your replies in my comments. Have fun!

1) Other than your church or synagogue, what is the first (if any) charitable organization you would donate a substantial sum of money to?

2) Would you consider establishing a foundation, or endowment of your own, and what would it be for?

3) How soon would you quit your job?

4) Would you consider starting your own business, and what would it be?

5) Would you throw a single, massive party for all of your friends and acquaintances, or would you keep it private and exclusive to only your closest friends and family members?

6) Would you hire a particular band or performer to play at the party, and who would it be?

7) Would you consider moving? Where to, and why?

8) Would you travel the whole world, or only to specific places of special interest to you?

9) What NEW hobbies might you indulge yourself in? (at least 3)

10) What is the first investment you would make?

11) Would you consider doing something illegal, just to see if your money could keep you out of jail?

12) Would you attempt to buy-out your current employer just so you could tell your bosses "You work for ME now."

13) Would you hire an accountant, or control the money yourself?

14) Would you hire a "Personal Assistant"?

15) How would you spend a typical day if you didn't have to go to work, or if you weren't travelling?

There were more, but I've decided that 15 is enough for now. Maybe, I'll post more later.
It's getting to the point where I may have to add a little "Homemade Games" section to my side-bar. Hmmmmmmmm?!?!

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Christmas Special update... #8

Only one special worth noting for tommorrow night, Dec. 8th.

The Year Without a Santa Claus @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family

I feel as if I'm cheating you all out of something more significant. Sorry.

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Something to think about

I have an acquaintance at work who was sharing a story with me today. He told me of a gas station near his home that is owned by a muslim family. Like myself, he is a born-again Christian, and the owners of the gas station are aware of this.
Typically, he doesn't have any issues with any of the members of the family, but lately he has been getting grief from one of the daughters. She seems to be pressing him to start an arguement about religion. He has stated his views plainly, and is content to know that other members of the family have no qualms with his faith. Still, the daughter insists on mocking and deriding Christianity any time my co-worker stops in at the station.
This suddenly stopped when he finally asked her a very pointed question. "If Islam is such a great religion, why aren't you living in one of the countries where Islam is the national religion?". The young lady actually told him that it was because her family has more freedom over here. She added that so many of the people in those countries are "barbaric". My acquaintance's follow up was priceless; "So... your family left an Islamic country, because it was "barbaric", and came to a Christian country to experience freedom? And you still think that Islam is better than Christianity?". She was dumbfounded by this, and became fairly hostile thereafter. Since then he has quit going to that gas station, because he wants to avoid conflict.
Far be it from me to insult anyone else's religion, but my co-worker makes a valid point about all cultures in his question. Most importantly though is the absolutely horrid conditions of the Muslim nations of the middle east. Let's face it, Islam, in it's most radical form, is a terrifying culture of oppression. Anyone who actually believes that all cultures, and all ideologies, are equal, is not being intellectually honest with themself. There is no other nation on Earth that has as many people wishing to immigrate into it as America. Has anyone ever considered why?
I am convinced that it is because the system of governance, and economics, that were set-up by our founding fathers is the greatest the world has ever known. Capitalism, especially as practiced by a culture built on judeo-christian values, has done more to raise the base-line of human existence than any other system that has been tried. Still, the rest of the world moves further and further toward socialism. Simply because they refuse to learn from history, and because those who control such a system hold absolute power. The freedom that capitalism offers frightens them, because it leaves them out of the loop. It's too bad that so few people that have that freedom, actually recognize it as that.

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas Special update... #7

Specials for tommorrow night, Dec. 7th

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ 8:00 PM ABC

I can't seem to figure out why there's nothing on my listing for The 25 Days of Christmas on ABC/Family. Anybody out there that can help me out on this, it would be greatly appreciated. Let's face it, there should be SOMETHING listed.

I must say, I'm really looking forward to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" because it is the only special that actually covers the reason for the holiday. That's why it's always been one of my favorites.

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Remind me not to do THAT again!

Being the loyal Steeler fan that I am, I stayed up to watch the entire, crunchy, nail-biting game last night, in spite of the fact that I had to be at work by 5:00 AM today. But I just couldn't drag myself away from it. So, I'm paying for it now by being terribly drowsy, and not at all myself today. I'll get over it though.
It was a brutal game of full-contact, hold-nothing-back, old-school football... the kinda game that Jack Lambert would be proud of. There were so many opportunities for either offense to capitalize on, but both defenses were playing like it was the end of the world. It was truely magnificent to behold. And watching Roethlisburger step up and perform in the final 2 minutes just proved, once-and-for-all, that he is no fluke. I can't wait to see what he turns into as a veteran of the game. Definitely Hall-Of-Fame material.

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Christmas Special update... #6

Your update for tommorrow night, Dec. 6th...

Santa Claus is Coming to Town @ 7:00 PM ABC/Family
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York @ 8:00 PM ABC/Family

I hope you've all been enjoying these... The specials, that is. I'm sure that if you have a TV Guide you don't need these posts, but I'm having fun with them.

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More of that Christmas spirit

Woke up a bit earlier than I wanted to this morning and didn't feel like watching the news. Especially since it's the same half hour report repeated every other half hour, while they use human-interest fillers for the other half hours. So, I decided to pop in A Christmas Story.
A classic, in every sense of the word. If you don't love this movie there's something wrong with you. I have met very few people who do not love this move, or who cannot appreciate the plight of little Ralphie. Most of us can relate, or possibly even remember similar events from our own childhood. Whether it be that one present that we wanted more than any other, or the dreadfully, hideous gift from a family member. This film brings all of it back to us, doesn't it?
I expect that I'll be watching this several more times before Christmas arrives. Strangely, though, I don't see the annual TNT: A Christmas Story Marathon, listed among my Christmas Specials this year. I sure hope it's only a misprint.

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Presents? For me?

Not really. This morning, one of my co-workers, Mary-Lou, brought in a few tiny packages to put under my little tree. But I missed a great opportunity to goof on J2D when she asked "Michael, who left the presents under your tree?". I told her it was Mary-Lou, then I had a Homer Moment... D'oh! I should've said Santa Claus! Either way, it made a nice little improvement to my display.
I also added snow to the roof of my little, train tunnel. Everybody liked the touch of winter that it seemed to give the set-up.
Aaaaaaah, with each passing day, Christmas draws nearer.

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Christmas Special update... #5

First... an apology. The Santa Clause, was not on last night (Dec. 3rd/3th). Through no fault of my own, except to trust the local liberal rag of a newspaper, my listings were in error. "Forgiveness! Prease." - from The Simpsons (the little guy in the white suit that was part of the Japanese Triad).
Now that that is out of the way, on with the update for tommorrow, Dec. 5th.

Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July @ 3:30 PM ABC/Family
How the Grinch Stole Christmas @ 5:30 and 8:00 PM ABC/Family

Not a very eventful Sunday. Locally, however, we have White Christmas on our UPN affiliate at 6:30 PM. Not that it does anybody outside of the greater Pittsburgh market any good.

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Christmas Special update... #4

Big day tommorrow!!!
It's the 25 Days of Christmas Marathon on ABC/Family. Starting at 2:00 PM and running 'til 1:30 AM. Here's the line-up:

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus @ 2:00
Story of the First Christmas Snow @ 3:00
Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey @ 3:30
Pinnocchio's Christmas @ 4:00
The Little Drummer Boy @ 5:00
The Little Drummer Boy; Book II @ 5:30
Jack Frost @ 6:00
Frosty's Winter Wonderland @ 7:00
Twas the Night Before Christmas @ 7:30
The Year Without a Santa Claus @ 9:00
Rudolph's Shiny New Year @ 10:00
The Little Drummer Boy @ 11:00
The little Drummer Boy; Book II @ 11:30
Twas the Night Before Christmas @ Midnight

WOOHOO !!!

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Scratching my head over this.

I've been hearing about stories like this one for years now, and I still can't figure out how we ever got this far removed from our traditions. I'm disturbed by the fact that things have actually progressed this far. Strange that I don't remember going to bed in the Soviet Union, so why do I feel as if I've just woken up there?
I admit that I'm a traditionalist. I like it when things stay the same as they have always been. Not because I view change as a bad thing, but because some traditions are good for us. And I don't just mean Christians, I mean good for our society.
I can't figure out what it is about Christmas that people find to be so offensive. Especially when those who are attempting to "protect us from state sponsored religion" (strip us of our judeo-christian heritage?), are trying to force us to observe other religious traditions instead. I don't have a problem with anyone who wishes to practice their faith in a public display. My faith is strong enough that I don't feel as if I'm being assaulted by that. So, why isn't the feeling mutual?
But more importantly, how did we ever allow Christmas to be replaced by all of the politically correct garbage that is called "non-sectarian, celebrations of cultural diversity" - If you great progresive thinkers are so much more enlightened, and tolerant, than the rest of us, then why won't you tolerate my traditions?
It was these same traditions that were a part of forming this nation for centuries before you self-appointed guardians of the public conciousness showed up to tell us how backwards, and misguided, we all were. Why are these traditions, all of a sudden, EVIL?
The truth is that our traditions are not evil, it's the people who are trying to eliminate them that are. If there is one thing that our founding fathers understood, it is the fact that our rights come from God. Anything that our government can give you, the government can take away. Whether you like it or not. Eliminate God, and the government controls your rights. And that is TYRANNY!
I've grown weary of the religious intolerance that is so predominate among the so-called enlightened. I consider myself blessed to be able to put up my own little display at work. Still, I wonder if the day isn't coming when some self-important busy-body isn't going to complain about it, and try to force me to put it away. At the moment, I know a great many people who go out of their way, to walk past my work station, to see my decorations. It's a good feeling to me to know this. But I'm bothered by the fact that 20 years ago you could find similar (but larger) displays on the lawns of practically every town-hall across America. Now you'd be hard pressed to find anything more than a banner that proclaims that boldly, inoffensive message of "Seasons Greetings".
We never believed it could come to this did we? Yet, it has. So this is my pledge...
I will put my Christmas display up every Christmas, for the rest of my days. And I will fight, tooth and nail, to keep anybody from telling me that I'm no longer allowed to. I will never surrender my God given right to believe what I choose to believe, and to express it freely, as I see fit. I will not be intimidated into abandoning my convictions to political correctness or the whims of loathesome interlopers.
And if you don't like it... MERRY CHRISTMAS, AND A HAPPY JESUS' BIRTHDAY, TO YOU, TOO !!!

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