Monday, December 31, 2007

Have a Happy New Year

I only have a minute or two so I wanted to make sure to post this New Year's wish to everyone.
I apologize for being unable to post anything significant, but there's nothing I can do about that until I can get my computer woes resolved. I also regret being unable to stay current with those of you whose blogs I read on a regular basis. But on the bright side, not having a computer has given me plenty of spare time to read and get caught up on some other stuff that I'd been putting off. So it's all working out for good.
In any event, I wanted to make sure to post at least something today to let everyone know that I'm stil alive and thinking of yinz.

BTW: the annual New Years Eve DVD Marathon is still on at my house. JT will be there, and so will my son Bob, and possibly one or two of his friends. I hope you all enjoy your New Year's Eve activites.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

A few things before I go

I just had to let everyone know that you won't be hearing much from me for a little while. My computer died last night before I could get anything posted that I wanted to. So I'm currently sitting in the office of my church typing away at the posts that I promised everyone a few days ago.
So, what I have posted below will be all there is until I get back to work on Thrusday. And even then it will be skimpy. So don't expect anything substantial until I can get a new computer.
Until then, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. But you'll see that again in another one of my posts.

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You're not gonna believe this

Just thought I'd let everyone know that all is not lost for Christmas.
While JT and I were out doing some Christmas shopping on Saturday, we actually had a cashier at Giant Eagle tell us "Merry Christmas". Can you believe it?

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Quote for 12/21/07

"Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved."
Augusta E. Rundel

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Never saw it coming

Walked in to work this morning to discover that Respironics has been acquired by Philips (also known as Royal Philips, the parent corporation of such notable names as Norelco, Sonicare and Magnavox). And nobody knew what to make of it.
Of course, upon hearing this, the biggest concern for most of my co-workers was whether or not we all still had jobs. Everybody was playing out their darkest fears and horror stories about losing their job two days before Christmas. But I knew we didn't have anything to worry about. Acquisitions like these rarely affect the grunt production workers like us. I made sure to tell everyone that. And I was right.
There was a meeting early in the morning and the Director of Operations told us that everything is "business as usual" for us. According to what we've been told, this is a good thing. Apparently, people from Philips toured our facility as perspective investors from Deutsche Bank. They liked what they saw and decided that Respironics would be a great asset to their Home Healthcare Division. And that's what started the ball rolling on the acquisition.
We've been informed that the biggest reason for the acquisition was that Respironics already has the necessary infrastructure in the fields that Philips wishes to grow their business into. Philips has no other production facilities that manufacture the types of devices that we do. That's why all of our jobs are safe. And not just ours, but all of our upper management, too. And that's the first sign that an acquisition isn't a hostile takeover - or an attempt to squash a competitor. And it's especially comforting to know that our Murrysville facility will be the headquarters for the company's Home Healthcare Division.
Needless to say, today's topic of conversation kept everybody buzzing all day. Which is really great to make the last day of work before a long Holiday weekend go fast.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just passing through

I don't have a lot of time to put up a really good post tonight because I have to write a sermon for both of Sunday's services. And it's going to be a good one. A true multi-media event. And to give you all a preview, I'll just let you all know that the title of my sermon is "The Gospel According to Jack Skellington". If you're familiar with Nightmare Before Christmas, then you might have an idea as to where I'm going with my sermon. But that's all I'm going to say about it for now. I'll post the actual sermon on Sunday for everyone to enjoy - minus the video clips, unless JT can show me how to get them posted to my blog.
I didn't want to just stick everyone with another Quote today. Besides, any Quotes I post on the 20th of each month always create a conundrum with the collective Quotes for that month. So I figured I'd just stop by to say "Hey!" and share that little bit with everyone.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote for 12/19/07

"Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion."
Ralph W. Sockman

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The time is close at hand

I doubt that I have to remind anyone of this, but Christmas isn't very far away now.
I say this with some boldness because of the various indicators that I see. And I don't mean all of the ads for the last minute sales that will be happening over the weekend showing up in my mailbox. No, what I'm talking about are less commercial things, more Christmas Spirit related things.
The first one was today being the Annual Rookie Carol-Sing at work. It's the day when everybody who was hired during the year has to march around the plant singing Christmas carols. I've posted about it before, but it has been toned down since then. It's just too much to handle with three shifts and scores of new employees being hired every year. Still, it's a neat tradition that the company has maintained, in spite of most major corporations doing everything in their power to distance themselves from Christmas (as if Christmas isn't the name of the Holiday that the federal government recognizes every December 25th...). Besides, it's a nice little distraction from the daily grind that brightens everyone's day.
Another thing is our Annual Pot-Luck Luncheon tomorrow. A bunch of us on the production floor will bring something in to share with everyone else. I'm taking my semi-famous wedding soup. I know several people who are looking forward to that. I'm just looking forward to having an extra 15 minutes for lunch. Especially since there will be so much good stuff to choose from.
And the last indicator...
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. I also have a vacation day scheduled for the 26th. So, as far as I'm concerned, my Christmas begins at 2:40 on Friday and doesn't end until Thursday.
I am sooooo ready for this Christmas.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quote for 12/18/07

"Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart."
Washington Irving

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Signs 12/17/07



Now that's more like it...

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Misguided at best

I haven't done this in awhile...
A political rant.
OK, so, I'm watching the news earlier to keep track of the weather situation when I hear a story about Gun Buyback Programs in Homestead and the City of Pittsburgh.
Alright, I understand the premise of these buyback programs. They're attempts to get money into the hands of some needy families while trying to reduce gun crime, and possibly protect children from accidental shootings, by offering cash or retail gift cards to anyone who turns in a gun. And while I will say this is a somewhat admirable aspiration, I have to question the utility of these programs to actually affect real change. But before I get into why I believe that, I want to discuss the anti-gun slant of the story itself.
The opening statement of the story told me to beware of what was really being said. The bleach, blond anchor began by saying "There are over a hundred guns in safer hands this morning." That tells me that whoever wrote the copy for this particular story obviously has an agenda to push.
That opening statement implies two things that aren't necessarily true.
1) That firearms, in the hands of common citizens, are somehow detrimental to public safety.
2) That firearms in the hands of authorities like police, or the organizations that sponsor these buyback programs, are somehow less likely to become a hazard to public safety.
I don't like the first assumption because it is based upon the notion that gun crimes are committed by lawful gun owners, when statistics show that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes are a result of illegally acquired firearms. And that makes this program seem a lot like a "voluntary confiscation" to me.
Now, I'm really ticked off by the second assumption because it implies that some government agency is more trustworthy with my personal protection than I am. I'm sorry to say this, but I think I know what kind of protection I need in my neighborhood more than some bureaucrat in DC. Besides, I'd be willing to bet that the person who wrote the story is just far enough to the left to believe that Bush and Cheney have had us living under martial law, or in some police state, since 9/11 (which, incidentally, if it were true, this story would've never made it past the administration's censors). Kinda makes ya wonder why they would want to trust any government agency.
But back to my biggest concern about this story. I doubt that they're doing much to help the families who have turned in guns, because the program is quite stingy with what they're paying out. According to the news story, the buyback program pays $25 for rifles and shotguns and $50 for handguns. Yes, I understand the reason why handguns are worth more - because of the likelyhood that a handgun will be used in a crime. Not so much when it comes to a rifle or shotgun because of their conspicuous size (and yet so many laws are written to curb the purchase of rifles because they look like assault weapons - but that's a rant for another day...).
It would seem to me that if these people and organizations were really concerned with helping the needy families, they'd want them to get top dollar for their firearms. And what better way to encourage people to turn in an unwanted firearm than to offer a fair market price for it? If these programs really wanted to help the needy families out, they'd bring in collectors and firearms dealers to appraise the guns before offering a flat-rate.
The reason why I say this is because there was a video clip showing many of the guns that have been turned in. And while I'm no gun expert, I know enough about guns to tell you that the vast majority of the guns on the tables were worth a lot more than the $25-$50 that was being paid for them. In fact, several of the rifles that I saw would be quite valuable to most collectors - as in, worth a couple hundred. And I think that kinda cash would go a lot further to help a family out with their Christmas than the pitance that's being offered by the buyback program.
So, my take on the whole thing:
It's just a push by people who don't like guns, who don't understand the Second Ammendment, who don't trust their fellow man to act in accordance with the laws of our society, to take guns away from lawful gun owners through a misguided appeal to the needy, and to our compassionate nature during the Christmas season. Otherwise, the buyback programs would invite the dealers and collectors to take part in this, for the sake of the needy. Instead, I see this as one more attempt to convince the non-gun owning public that guns are bad, and gun owners are either bloodthirsty criminals or ignorant, red-neck, morons who like to shoot at anything that moves.
Well, I hate to say this, but I don't fit into either of those groups. And I don't need your money or your gift cards. But if I did, I know where not to go to get my money's worth. Maybe I'd trust the buyback programs more if they gave the needy they claim to be helping the same consideration that I have as an informed citizen.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

See the pretty lights

Can't stay on too long. Gotta make dinner, then we're going to Hartwood Acres to drive through the Celebration of Lights display.
I love light displays. It's one of the best parts of the whole Christmas season. I think they're especially dazzling when there's snow all around. Unfortunately, that isn't supposed to be coming our way until tomorrow. But it will still be nice to see the lights.
I can't tell you how much I enjoy all of the lights at this time of year. I really enjoy looking out my kitchen window and seeing some of the houses in my neighborhood all lit up. I like seeing the houses across the Parkway that are trying to out-do one another for the people who are driving around. And I love being able to see all of the lights any time I drive somewhere myself. The lights just seem to make the whole season that much more festive, warmer, softer. I'm sure you know what I mean.
I certainly hope all of you have a light display of some kind that you can go visit during the Christmas season. They're always worth your while.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Before I forget

As if I ever could...
Today is the 5th anniversary of the fire. Go read about it, if you haven't already. But I'll warn you now that it's a long story.

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More of that Christmas cheer

Just in case any of you weren't aware, It's A Wonderful Life is on tomorrow night at 8:00 PM on NBC. And A Christmas Carol is on at various times throughout the weekend on AMC.
I gotta tell ya, these are a couple of classics that I truly love. As far as I'm concerned, they are both incredible stories of grace, redemption and the miraculous power of the true spirit of Christ(mas) to change us.
I hope all of you will enjoy watching them as much as I will.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm gettin' there

Yeah, I know I said I had something substantial to post soon, but I'm just not there yet. Truth be told, it's kinda difficult for me to figure out how to write about stuff that I'm not sure I can explain. And even if I can find the right way to say it, will I be able to convey to you just what it is that I'm experiencing?
Oh well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Til then, I left a Quote below for everyone.

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Quote for 12/12/07

"We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered it."
Thomas Henry Huxley

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Signs 12/10/07



Pity that this message was on the reader board on April 30th. You'd think that with 66 books to choose from (that would include thousands of verses), they wouldn't have to show any reruns for decades.
Nevermind me. I'm not complaining, just making an observation.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Join in the celebration

A great big shout-out to my buddy Kender for posting about this. And I hope that everyone else will join us in celebrating a very Merry Tossmas. I know some of you will be quite anxious to embrace this new Holiday. I know I'm pretty excited about it.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Drawing a blank

OK, I must confess, there's something substantial that I want to post about, but everytime I get started, I loose it. I just can't seem to get my thoughts together in any way that would allow it to flow. So, rather than posting something significant and thought provoking, I sit here and apologize for not being able to form a coherent post about something that is eating away at my insides to be expressed here.
Eventually I'll be able to sort it all out, but until then, please bear with me as I post mundane drivel and the occassional Quote.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Don'tcha just love it?

As if I'm not already oozing with the excitement of the Christmas Spirit, now I have even more reasons to do so. Here are some things that have happened recently that have really gotten me stirred up about Christmas.
*With the weather we've been having here over the last few days, there's been a nice blanket of snow on the ground for the last 24 hours or so. That, in itself, is usually enough to stir up a pretty Christmasy feeling in me. Now, combine that with all of the lights and decorations that people have already put up, and the world just seems like a brighter place. Isn't it amazing how dazzlingly beautiful the reflected glow of Christmas lights on fresh snow can be?
*Stopped at Giant Eagle this morning before heading into work and discovered the most wondeful prize of all - A Christmas Story Christmas cards, with sound bytes...
How awesome is that ?!?!?
One of them has Flick with his tongue frozen to the pole and the sound byte is wartz saying "I triple dog dare ya!". Another one has Ralphie in the pink bunny suit and the sound byte is his mom saying "Oh, isn't it adorable." (or something to that effect). And of course the last one is Ralphie wearing his glasses with the BB hole in them, and of course you know what the sound byte is...
I must procure these items so that I can dispense my nieces and nephew's Christmas gifts in them. They'll love 'em.
*One of my co-workers stopped by my work station to see my Christmas display and noted that I was missing something.
I replied, "Yeah, I know, but do you have any idea how hard it is to find a tiny manorah?"
He said, "Oh, I hadn't thought of that. That makes two things that are missing."
I looked at him preplexed and he responded "A Festivus Pole." ...
*I didn't get to watch Rudolph last night since I was at church until 9:30. But since I reminded everyone at work, they all did. And that was good because it lead to a really great conversation today. Some of which touched on the questions and observations I've made previously about the show. Everybody noticed the things I pointed out about Yukon Cornelius, the Bumbles and some of the misfit toys. It was hilarious.
*Something not related to Christmas, but I couldn't resist posting about this. One of my co-workers finds the Davey and Goliath finger-puppets that I have at my work station to be "strangely disturbing".

I can't imagine why. I don't see anything even remotely disturbing about them.
But the little die cast figure of Dr. Doom, now that might be understandable.

Yet, nobody else seems to have a problem with either of them.
I have to wonder what happened in my co-worker's youth to make feel so uncomfortable about the finger-puppets...

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Quote for 12/5/07

"Christmas is the day that holds all time together."
Alexander Smith

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Quotes from 11/2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just so you know

In case anyone hasn't told you, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is on tomorrow night at 8:00, on CBS. Just thought I'd share that as a public service announcment.
Of course, tonight I'll be watching Year Without a Santa Clause.
I'm such a geek for these classic Christmas specials...

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Yummy !!!

This was dinner tonight.

Boneless, skinless chicken over pasta in an Alfredo sauce. One of my specialties.
Just thought I'd share that with everyone...

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Paradox

I love going to church.
That seems to be something that most people wouldn't say these days. I'm especially mindful of this as I see the overcrowded shopping center parking lots at 9:30-10:00 on a Sunday morning. You'd think most of these people would be home, still sleeping, if they're not going to go to church. And in case you're wondering why I'm noticing the overcrowded parking lots on a Sunday morning when I love church so much ...
You see, I'm the guy who's responsible for administering communion during our weekly sevice at Revolution. We don't use communion elements like most conventional/traditional churches do. We use bread (whole wheat flat bread) and grape juice (because some of our members won't drink alcohol, and we don't want them to be excluded). But since I've taken some sense of ownership over the communion, I buy the elements (bread and juice) as a sort of offering. And that's why I was out fighting my way through Christmas shopping traffic this morning.
But it gets me thinking, especially at this time of year, about what it is that people really believe in, and why.
According to the most recent information that I've seen, over 85% of Americans would call themselves Christians. Which leads me to wonder why the parking lots at Target and Giant Eagle are overcrowded on a Sunday morning, but most of the churches that I pass by are only half full - if that?
I have to wonder about this because this is also, traditionally, the time of year when we hear about a multitude of various government bodies struggling with how to decorate their city, town or community for a Holiday that the ACLU say's they can't legally "endorse". And yet, if you were to ask the people who were out contibuting to the overcrowded parking lots at the shopping malls, the majority of them would show some disdain for the ACLU, or the government bodies - or both, for this annual anti-Christmas tradition. But could any of them tell you why it even matters to them?
I just find this to be an interesting paradox.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Alive again

In spite of the fact that I didn't get to take the nap I was hoping for this afternoon, I feel quite invigorated tonight.
Bob had made plans to visit his aunt Michelle, and his cousins Haley and Emily tonight, since he doesn't get to see them very often - the Ex's family still loves me, but she doesn't want them inviting me to family functions even though they still would. So I had to take him to Baldwin. I wasn't looking forward to the ride since I didn't get my nap earlier. And I was a little concerned about my ride home, alone and with no one to talk to to keep me awake, that I might find myself nodding off at the wheel. But I am so thankful to God for Christmas time.
We didn't leave the house til after 5:00, so it was plenty dark when we headed out. But all along the way I got to admire all of the houses and businesses with their Christmas lights and decorations lit up. It really brought out the Christmas Spirit in me again, and that's always a good way to keep me awake and alert.
I was so enlivened by it all that I even stopped to do a little shopping while I was on my way home. I also treated myself out to a little bite to eat. It's amazingly inexpensive to eat out alone.
Just one more of many reasons why I love Christmas so much...

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Exhausted

While last night's Lock-In was fun, I'm too tired to post much about it.
There were plenty of video games being played, a shaving cream battle, and some wrestling. We even had spaghetti to eat since it's cheap and easy to make. But there was also a serious lack of sleeping going on. I fell asleep sometime around 3:00 AM and woke up before 6:00 AM. Of course, having to sleep on a cold, cement floor doesn't do much for my aging body. But having the cacophony of continuing wrestling and Guitar Hero III didn't help much either.
As if that wasn't bad enough, after all of the youth went home I had to stay at church for our monthly Board of Elders meeting. Afterwards I had to take one of Bob's numerous young, lady friends home since we were the ones who brought her.
So, you'll have to excuse me if this post seems a little less than enthusiastic. I'm just too exhausted to make this any longer than I have.
G'night.

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