Friday, October 27, 2006

Commercial crazy

I hate commercials. I'm not talking about disliking commercials. I don't mean I would prefer not to see or hear commercials. I mean I have the kind of white hot passionate hate for commercials normally reserved for bigots against minorities or widows who just saw their favorite cat get run over by a drunk driver! Even a good commercial makes me want to gouge out my eyes or eardrums! The problem with commercials is that they interrupt what I want to hear with something about which I could not care less with annoying announcers and poor acting. This is usually done right at the most interesting parts of the show and usually offend even my limited intelligence with wild claims about saving me money or making me more beautiful. If I wanted to try your product or service, I would find you. I have never seen a commercial and immediately felt it was in my best interest to go buy what you are selling.

I understand commercials are necessary. I understand the fact that shows are not produced by people not interested in making money. That is fine with me. I just don't want to be involved. Is that too much to ask? Probably. We recently bought a truck that came with Sirius Satellite Radio installed free for a year. I was so excited that finally I would not have to listen to commercials since this is a paid service. I just assumed that since one has to pay for Sirius that there would not be commercials like there are on terrestrial radio. I was wrong. So now, not only do I get poor quality reception and choices that include gay radio, but I also have to listen to people telling me that Honest Bob is stackin 'em deep and sellin 'em cheap! Makes me want to yank the wheel into a bridge embankment!!

OK, so what could possibly be worse than a commercial, you ask? I will tell you what is worse. I will tell you what makes me so mad I could spit. Worse than a commercial is any commercial from someone running for public office. I have had it up to here with would-be judges, governors, senators and congressmen telling me that if I vote for them they will be tough on crime or that they will protect my children. They say they want to shake up Washington or change Austin or provide leadership for my community. Regular commercials are bad enough but at least they tell me about their product. When politicians tell me they are tough grandmothers or that they are not part of the Washington elite, they tell me nothing!! What do you stand for? What is your platform? How will you protect our borders? How will you make sure every child has a chance? Tell me specifically or shut the heck up! I appreciate the fact that you were in the military or that you are supposedly active in your church or that you once met George Bush but what are you actually going to do if I vote you into office?

Every now and then I see a good commercial. Sometimes they are well done and tell me about their product in a way that amuses and provokes me. Even then I never spend money on them, though. But if a politician insults me personally by thinking I am too stupid to realize they are not being forthcoming with their beliefs and still wants me to cast my precious vote for them then I have bad news for them. If somehow I do hear your name and remember it (since I try to mute them) I promise to vote for the other guy. Republican, Democrat, Independent or space alien: it does not matter. Tell me specifically where you stand on immigration and I will vote for you. What is your specific plan for giving Iraqis back full control of Iraq? You have my vote and I will tell my friends. If you cannot tell me you are wasting my time and making my blood pressure go up. Now shut up and let me finish watching The Simpsons!

My name is Todd and I approved this blog.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Think Outside the Bull

Crime: October 10, 2006, young man leaves Taco Bell restaurant after eating lunch inside and leaves his car in the parking lot while he goes across the street for less than one hour.

Punishment: Car is towed eight miles to wrecker service lot.

Cost: $175.00

Enforcer: Joseph Guevara, Taco Bell Manager

The story is as follows: My son met two friends for lunch at the local Taco Bell recently. After eating their meal they all got into his friends' car and drove across the highway to run an errand. They returned within the hour to find my son's car missing. When they asked the store manager if he knew about it he told them he had called the wrecker service to have it towed. They immediately went to the wrecker service lot and picked up the car at the cost of $175.

As you can imagine, when I heard about this I immediately went to visit with that manager. The manager, Joseph Guevara, pointed out the sign in the parking lot that clearly reads, "All unattended cars will be towed at owner's expense." He also said he knows exactly which customers drive which cars and in his words, he calls the tow truck "alot". The problem, as I see it, is the definition of "unattended".

After one more visit with Mr. Guevera and a couple of phone calls to his superiors, I have now written letters of appeal to the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, all the local news stations and the Star-Telegram as well as a letter to Southern Multifoods Incorporated who own this Taco Bell. None of this may result in our receiving our money back but I worry about how often this happens. The tow truck driver confirmed to my son that he gets alot of business from this manager, and it makes me wonder if Mr. Guevara has made some sort of deal with the towing company.

In my conversations with company representatives, never once have I screamed, cussed, made a scene, or even exaggerated. In fact, neither I nor the company is disputing any of the facts in the situation. I am also not calling on a nationwide boycott of Taco Bell or it's sister companies owned by Southern Multifoods. I can tell you, though, it will be a long time before anyone in my family eats there. Any company that allows such poor customer service to be apart of their company policy will not receive my patronage. I realize that this company will not be financially affected by anything I say or do but I will not sit by and do nothing. If you would like to express your feelings on this subject I have a link here that will go to the Better Business Bureau web site where you can have a voice. Trust me, it'll make you feel better! And at least they don't still use that stupid little chihuahua to sell tacos!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pope travels to Iraq

(Vatican City) This just in: Pope Benedict XVOICU812 has announced he will be going to Iraq to view the war scene in person and to meet with top U.S. military there. Sources say he is worried about retaliation for his remarks that Muslims say disparaged Mohammed. Those sources tell this blog that the Pontiff will go in disguise. He took off his big hat, put on the beanie, put his fingers around his eyes and, sources say, said "How's this?"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A child's eyes

A friend relayed this story to me the other day. He was telling me about his daughter's first day of 1st grade. My friend walked his daughter to her class and while he was there he saw the class role posted on the door of the class. He noticed that there was another girl with the same first name as his daughter Lauren. He then met the teacher and several other parents and then he saw the other Lauren. She was a beautiful little black girl with long, curly hair. My friend and his wife, both of whom are white, picked up their beautiful, blond-haired Lauren after school and the first thing she wanted to talk about was her new friend who has the same name she does! She said, "You won't believe it! Not only does she have the same name as me, she also looks JUST LIKE ME!"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Proof that what happens in Vegas, gets put on the internet!

Leaving Las Vegas

Like most people who go to Las Vegas, I was amazed on my trip there last week. I went with two friends to visit another friend who was in the hospital there. We stayed right on the strip and had just enough time to do a little sightseeing. Gambling never has been much of a temptation for me. I have plenty of other temptations but gambling is pretty low on the list. I am obviously in the minority of people who go to Vegas.

My biggest amazement was not the lights and the sounds and the gaudiness of it all although it was pretty incredible. My biggest amazement was the sheer volume of people that were there on the strip. Over one million people live in Las Vegas and 35 million people a year visit. I felt like all 35 million were there last week. Everywhere you looked there were people of every nationality, color and style of dress (or lack of style).

I made several observations while I was there. When we weren't visiting at the hospital, we took time to walk through some the casinos and malls and we drove up and down the strip. Every one of the tourists we saw were having a great time. We saw lots of smiling and laughing and even heard some winning yells. I also noticed the availability of every possible vice a person could want anywhere, anytime. You could walk down the strip and get a cocktail, a slot machine and an "escort" on Sunday morning and put it all on your credit card while watching a mime juggle live squid in front of the Bellagio fountains! You know...if you're in to that.

I started thinking about why people throng to this place by the millions. What is it that people get out of this city in the middle of the desert? Is it just the gambling? I think not. Of all the places in the world, Vegas is the one place you can go to completely leave your daily routine and attending rules behind. It is a city built and sustained on wanting to "get away from it all". They even have the best slogan in the world to perpetuate that thinking: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". That's even better than the 60's slogan, "If it feels good, do it." The people taking your money want you to think that whatever you do in their city will not have any consequences. Obviously, millions of people are buying into that.

Is that all people want? Do people work all year long just to save up enough money to get away from the rules in their life? It's not supposed to be that way. There is more to life than work, home, tv, sleep, work, home, tv, sleep. Jesus said in John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly". Abundant life. That's what people want! The problem is that religion itself is just more rules. Religion is the quickest way one can feel like a failure. The good news is that there is a better way to have a fulfilled, abundant life. It's not about religion. It's not about being Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Muslim or a worshiper of squid! It's about Jesus! A friend of mine says and I believe that if Jesus were walking on earth today in physical form that he would hang out in Las Vegas. What better place to spread the good news that there is freedom and fulfillment, joy and peace, love and acceptance-all without the consequences that will surely follow a wild night in Vegas-found by a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Problem with Public Schools

Mark Twain once said "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." What a great quote! I was thinking about this the other day when I heard about a friend of mine I haven't seen in several years. I have alot in common with this guy. We went to High School together and played football from seventh grade on through graduation. We took most of the same classes and had many of the same interests. I don't know exactly what his grades were but I know we both struggled at times. We were both smart enough. It wasn't that we couldn't understand what we were being told. Maybe there were just too many distractions.

Being a member of the football team had it's distinct advantages. I don't know how many times we got to get out of school early because we had a game or practice or films or something "important". In fact, the whole school would let out for pep rallies on Fridays and we would be the stars of the show! Life was good at those times but it wasn't always that way. Football takes alot of work. Work takes alot of time. I didn't get a job until after high school because I didn't have time. I didn't have a big social life partly because I didn't have time. I didn't have a girlfriend because...well, nevermind why.

Like most schools we had golf, tennis, rodeo, band, and different clubs from which to choose. The problem was, I now realize, none of those other things made any money for the school. As football players we were told not to be in any of those other activities. In fact, when I decided to play golf, I had to run laps every day before they would let me go to the golf course. I know some guys would drop out of athletics all together because there was so much pressure to devote every waking moment to football.

I look back now at their methods and I can lose sleep over it to this day. What would be different in my life today if I had not been in athletics? Maybe not too much. Maybe alot. I wonder if the pressure to gain weight to be a bigger lineman might have skewed my eating habits. I wonder if I had not been lifting weights unsupervised in the weight room if I might have avoided a surgery. If nothing else my golf game might be better if I had been able to practice more on a sport I could still be playing, unlike football.

I was not the only one who was frustrated with this. This was something else I had in common with my friend that I spoke of earlier. I remember several instances of him getting punished for expressing his thoughts on this subject. He always said exactly what everybody else wanted to say. I respected him for that and I respect him even more today. You see, I hated school. I still hate school. I hated everything about it. Sure, I had some good teachers. I remember Mrs. Gallman and Mrs. Overman really wanting me to learn and made me feel important and special. My overall remembrances of school, though, are not pleasant and it made me want nothing more to do with it. My friend, though, was able to overcome his frustration. I got word the other day that he is now the superintendant of a school in the Texas panhandle and has even gotten his doctorate. I am ecstatic for him! I have no doubt that he will put the emphasis back where it should be at his school. I know his love of football will not cloud his wisdom on what is really important for his kids.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

For Dewey...

The question posed was: How did pirates keep from laughing when they said "poopdeck"? Very thought provoking. While I am not a pirate nor do I have any first-hand experience with pirates, I do have some thoughts on the subject.
First, maybe they did laugh when they said "poopdeck". I would imagine the life of a pirate would not be as glamorous as one might think and they may have made that word up just for a few grins in between swabbing the decks and battoning down the hatches. It’s safe to assume that life at sea was one great bore for pirates. A great contrast from land life: sailing meant weeks of boredom searching for prey, with only intermittent bursts of excitement as victims were sighted, boarded and then plundered. With nothing to occupy the attention of bloodthirsty pirates, they may have made up funny names for different parts of the boat as well as for each other.
Second, this term does not come from sailors hanging off the stern of the ship, relieving themselves. Rather, it is from the Latin puppis meaning stern. If something is stern then it is not funny and so maybe that is why they didn't laugh.
But, lastly, Dewey, I think that the reason that pirates didn't laugh when they said "poopdeck" is probably just because they were more mature than that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Planning my mid-life crisis

I had a birthday last week. Thirty nine. I don't know how it happened. Two years ago I was twenty-five! I don't really feel any older but it has made me think even more about something that has been at the back of my mind for awhile. I also had to go to a funeral this past week and I think the combination of the birthday and the funeral have really gotten me thinking. I am sure the stuff going through my mind is common. I am sure that it is normal to think about such things at some time in a man's life. I am not saying I am having a mid-life crisis, I am just saying I can feel one coming on and I want to be prepared for it!
We got a call last week that my Uncle Dewayne had suddenly died of a heart attack. His funeral was Saturday in Oklahoma. Nearly everyone in my family was there plus dozens of friends and church-members. Hearing people talk about how he affected them was amazing to hear! He was a Godly man and his love for the Lord and love for people was evident to everyone who ever met him. His funeral was a celebration not just of his life but of the fact that he is now getting face to face time with Jesus! A funeral like that will easily make a person wonder what people will say at their own funeral.
Is it vanity to want to leave behind a positive legacy? I don't think so. I know presidents are concerned with it. Clinton made that obvious with his last television interview. While we should be concerned with the memories we are going to leave behind, I believe we should be aware of the heritage that we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. The choices we make now and the life we live now will effect how our descendants live in years to come. I believe everyone is responsible for their own lives and the choices they make but you making wise choices now can give your kids an edge later in life.
Sounds like a lot of pressure to me. It makes me wonder if I am up to the challenge. Do I have what it takes to be the kind of man my family needs me to be? I have to admit I have weighed my options. I told my wife I was moving to Mexico. I told her I was going to go to the gap in the fence where everybody is going north and I was going to go south down to the beach. I said I was going to buy a jet ski and a burro and let the tourists decide if they wanted to go on the water or up the mountain. She didn't believe me. She knows me pretty well. I then decided if I wasn't going to run away then I would do my part to change this world by joining the Army. They will take you through your forty- first birthday. I know because I talked to a recruiter about it but there was no peace in that decision either.
Some men do some crazy things when they start thinking like this. When a man realizes that he is no longer a kid and that the choices he makes affect more than just himself now sometimes he tries to rebel against it and do things to prove that fact wrong. Factor in boredom, half a dozen "If only's" and the fact that his life is not where he thought it would be at this point and stand back! "Who's that blonde with Daddy and when did he get a Corvette?"
Many years ago I had a decision to make. Live my life for God or...not. I looked around at the men in my life and zeroed in on the ones I knew were the wisest. I wasn't looking for smart men. I needed wisdom. There is a difference. My Uncle Dewayne was easily in the top five wisest men I knew. I looked at his life then and this past week I looked at his life again. Uncle Dewayne enjoyed playing golf and fixing up and selling used yard equipment but he was known for his passion for leading people to know Jesus in a life-changing way. He knew what was important in this life and it is the one thing that is important in the life to come. The interesting thing about this passion for him was that it brought about those things that every man desires deep down. Over and over again people talked about how Uncle Dewayne lived life to the fullest and was full of joy. I can vouch for that!
So, as I feel this mid-life crisis growing inside of me, I have realized something. Joy, fulfillment, peace-these are the things that men like me (and you) want. I want my uncle to be proud of me and to say "Good job, Knothead!" when I see him again but more importantly I refuse to give an average life as an offering to God because it is in Him that I find everything I need. That is the legacy I want to leave and that is the choice that I have made!