Friday, December 30, 2011

That new year resolution.

So, a while back I said that I was gonna try and show God's love to a guy I really don't like. I also said that I wasn't quite sure how to do that.

Ever notice how you can give yourself a cop-out with out even trying? "I don't know how, that's why I ain't doing it." Strange how that excuse doesn't work with God.

Well, I kinda got a little post-it note from on high. Call it a memo on how to show love.

Help.

Pretty simple, actually. Wish I had thought of it.

So there we are, Co-Worker has morning emails, and I am keeping an eye on them because, well... that is part of what I do. Plus I want to have the supervisors job someday, so I figure I should learn early.

I notice that we have three emails that need responding to that have waited for about twenty minutes. At this point I can A) do the really stupid move and tell Supervisor about it. (Supervisor has made it clear that we are give this guy some space and time to grow. So to go behind Co-Workers back and "rat" on him to Supervisor would be... un-wise.) B) IM the other guy who dislikes Co-Worker and laugh about the lack of response, bemoan the woes of working with the guy, and generally be a gossip and tear down the team, C) respond to them myself without checking to see if Co-Worker has worked on them at all, or D) quietly walk over to Co-Worker and see if I can help him clear his plate since something is holding him up on this.

I chose D. Smart move on part, actually. Turns our he was focused on getting some info for a person, but had just been upgraded to Windows 7 on his computer, which had destroyed all his mapped settings, so he could not find the link he needed in the bookmarks. Ooooh. Easy peasey, nice and easy. I'll just get the link on my computer, shoot it your way via IM, and you're rocking. Once that was done, e-mails went in a jiffy.

Imagine, team work being a helpful thing.

Imagine... foregoing the pleasure of tearing down a person I don't care for, and not just that but actively seeking to help them meant the teams job went smoother.

...

Crazy, right?

So. My new-years resolution, presuming I can remember after having slept again, is this:

I will endeavor to build up my co-workers, and thus the team and myself, regardless as to whether I like them or not. I will seek out ways to help them perform better, even if I never get the credit. The Team matters, the Job getting done matters, and showing God's love matters. I do not matter in these equations.

What's your new years resolution?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hypocrisy in action... what joy.

I came across this quote today while doing my usual web surfing.
"Putting aside the myth, he was a great man and teacher, with a greater message of peace, goodwill, and standing up for what is right. And as long as we keep that in mind, the date and how it’s celebrated don’t really matter."

The post had started out with a small paragraph that took some jabs at the Christian basis of the current holiday, and to be fair the next paragraph took some jabs at the commercialization of the holiday. But then you run across that little gem of a quote and kinda cringe.

It should be apparent to anyone who has read my blog that I am a Evangelical Protestant (I.E. Christian, not Catholic. There is more to it, but today's lecture is not on that...) and so it may surprise some when I say that Jesus was NOT a man with "... a greater message of peace, goodwill, and standing up for what is right." In fact, it is arguable that he was near the opposite of the first two, and the third point is so far from what the Christ was about that it is nearly laughable.

Peace.
Many think of the angels with the shepherds having said peace on earth, goodwill towards men, etc. That's what the song says, right? Well, lets turn to Luke, chapter 2.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest,
   and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke is clear on the peace resides with those who are in God's favor. It is further reasoned that based on the ministry (and the response to...) of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ, this group who was in God's favor was... smaller then the carol suggests. Much smaller. Peace belongs, rightfully, to the favored of God, and even then it can be a fleeting thing. (Ask Job.) That it was offered at all is incredibly generous. 
Neither was this peace to be a lasting thing. If Jesus was a guy who had a greater message of peace, why would he say,
"34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."  (Matthew 10), 

or this,
 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. (Luke 12),

To presume a message of peace when He explicitly denies such a message is folly in the highest. 


Goodwill.
Find the word "goodwill" in your Bible. You'll find it less times than you expect, I almost guarantee it. Goodwill is when you have or seek a favorable opinion or relationship with someone. Jesus didn't care about the favor of anyone except the Father. He taught us to obey and to serve God. this may have the appearance of goodwill, but do not confuse the means with the goals. Obedience is goal one. Goodwill is incidental. 

Standing up for what is right. 
Ooooh... where do I start? Tell me, what did the Christ stand up for? I mean, really... 

He made a stand for Himself. For the truth of His claim to Deity. For his innocence of the crimes he was charged with. He took a stand against sin. And that is about it. Not women's rights, not health care, He did not stand against slavery, or the economic rape of the Jewish state by the Roman Empire. He stood for Himself, and let the chips fall where they may. The Christian faith has been dressed up real nice and pretty the last few decades, and it glosses over the fact that it is by it's nature a mutually exclusive faith. You cannot be both Muslim and Christian. When it comes to the day of judgement it is either Christ's way or the highway. Your choice. Choose wisely. 
This is reflected in his time in ministry. he stood for Himself, His Father, and the Covenant. That. Is. It. And He stood by it to the point of death. 

Was Jesus a great man? Yeah. He still is. Was He a great teacher? Yeah, and again, He still is. Was he a Myth? Nope. Is the faith around Him and the beliefs about what he was accused of and executed for a myth? Nope. We have the Roman records of His execution, and the charges relating to it. He claimed to be God, and Jewish leaders, who said this was heresy (in their defense, for anyone else it would have been...) convinced the Romans to charge Him with attempting to claim sovereignty over Judea and have Him killed for what amounts to treason against the state. This is in hard record. The only part in any real dispute is the Resurrection, 

Jesus's entire ministry is wrapped around the concept that He is God. If He lied about that, then the whole house of cards comes down, and quite frankly He would have deserved what He got. Myth? I think not. There would have been too many times to catch Him in the lie if He was a fake. Think about how many people were out to get Him. They would have pounced on a piece of dirt on Him like the media jumped all over Anthony Weiner. 

You must either admit that He was a total fake who got very very lucky that no one caught him in it (and just decided to stick it out to the point of being executed in one of the must gruesome ways possible) or that He was, in fact, Emmanuel. God with us. And if He was a fake, then it taints the whole of His teaching and we should have nothing more to do with Him. Let Him disappear into the waste bin of history. 

Logic tells me that if Jesus was a fake, they would have caught Him out and decimated Him with it. And no one will die for a cause they know is a fraud unless it will give some greater cause strength.  I cannot find such a cause. 

So don't give me that load of bullcrap about how nice and friendly and kind Jesus was, and how we need to remember that this season. 

What do I have to say to that attitude? Shove off. 

What is Christmas about? It is about the arrival of God on this world, in the form of a man, send with the express purpose of dying for an ungrateful group of fools of have no idea of the cost of seeing the Father turn from the Son in shame, unable to see the burden of sin the Son took from those self same fools and literally went to the gates of hell for them and then spitting in death's eye and rising again! It is the celebration of the arrival of the Christ. The Christ. Messiah, Savior, Anointed One. The one who would die for every single person on earth, past present or future, even though the vast majority would care about as much for it as they would a fly.

We celebrate the arrival of our greatest hero. Our greatest leader. Our Lord and Master. We celebrate His birth because we live under a covenant paid for by His death, given power by His resurrection.

So you can take that mealy mouthed fancy-fied mouthful about how nice He was and stuff it. You may as well cheer on the arrival of modern medicine for all the boob jobs it enables. And I won't stand for that either. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Your reputation with the Local Leaders (tm) has increased by 100!

I play an online game called The Lord of The Rings Online (LoTRO), and in it my main avatar (AKA, character, toon, etc) collected quite a few reputation items in Forochel (Cold place, looks kind of like Alaska. Crazy critters trying to eat me. Fun times!). I was cruising through to get some resources from the area for another avatar of mine, and I am actually very high level for the area, so I could pretty much wipe any single baddie with ease, and even take on six or more and not have any real trouble. Lots of fun, in my opinion, and it gave me time to collect Reputation Items. Rep items are used in trade to increase your standing in the eyes of the locals. The locals in this case, who toooootally don't resemble the Eskimos in any way, are called the Lossoth, and it turns out they are missing things. Mostly spearheads from animals they hunted that got hit, but also got away. They also collect the "claws," their arch enemies the Gauradan use as weapons. Top it off with broken Ice Skates, and that is the list of Rep items for the area. The basic premise is that if you collect them and use them/trade them in you will get Rep points, which when you have enough, unlock progressively higher tiers of reputation and reputation gated items. I.E. To get the Warm Cloak of Warmth (not a real item, but would be cool if it was, right?), you need to have Ally standing in your Lossoth Reputation.

I hadn't quite made the highest level for rep there, so I was collecting the items as loot while mining my ore and finishing a few deeds for other things.  I actually made some pretty good progress on my rep level, but like with most things I eventually got bored and moved on to other things.

You know what I wish I could take from the game world and move into the real world? The Reputation updates and current standings with all the factions. In game I can open a panel and see exactly what reputation levels I have for any of some twenty or so groups. I know exactly what access I have to special areas and know if they will kill me or not when I try and cross that bridge over there. (No joke. Do NOT try and see Galadriel until you have Friend Standing with them. You WILL get the shaft, and it WILL have an arrowhead on it.)

Wouldn't it be nice to see exactly how many Rep points you have with your boss? What favors you might have access to, what ideas s/he might be open to? Or with the In-Laws, are you Kindred, or Outcast? Or just having that notification that "You've completed your weekly updates three hours early, and gained 35 Reputation with Supervisor!" I would even appreciate it if I got one that said "You have spilled toner all over a VP's desk, and lost 9000 Reputation on the Executive Floor." At that point I become Outcast, and the bowstrings seem to be drawing taut...

It's nice to know where you stand with people, but sadly it can be hard to discern that sometimes. One thing about your reputation is that you often won't know what it is until sometime after you've gained it. At work I know I have a reputation for horrible punnery, but that isn't hard to guess since I've always had that reputation. I have no problem with that reputation, either. But I would love to know what my reputation with my supervisor and manager are. And I would do most anything to protect what good reputation I have with them.

It's related to last weeks post on work ethic, I want it to be known that I have a good ethic, and I am reliable. It's not (just) an ego thing, it's the hope and promise of a better job.

About two years ago I was told to show a few new hires how I ran my register. I did not often get praise from my boss, (and he is a pretty good boss, honestly) I got some that day which I will hold forever in my lockbox of awesome praises. He said, "I want you to watch how Eric handles his tickets, because his paperwork is immaculate. I want you to model after him on paperwork. And answering the phone. Watch him do those two things, and learn to do them yourself."

Oh boy, was I on cloud nine... I know then that Boss liked my work, that he was impressed by my work, and that so long as I didn't really screw up (a huge personal fear of mine) I was secure in my job.

When I was interviewed for the job I now I have, I knew that I was doing well in at least one way, my boss (and my regional manager, and the assistant manager) all said I had good phone etiquette and presence. Much of the job is on the phone, so it was a pretty big plus. Add in three years of hands on store level experience with the technology, and the work ethic my boss bragged on, I should have known the job was in the bag, but I didn't because I am horribly paranoid.

That paranoia came back again the past two days, because I am sick. Probably the flu, but blech. I hate being sick. I also hate missing work. Not that I am a workaholic, but I don't want a reputation as a slacker. I know of too many other people who called in sick to work when I was in Alpine who either had the brown bottle flu or were just playing hooky. Boss had no official proof of such, but we would find out from people that so and so was doing XYZ on Thursday, when we were told that they were bed ridden by a migraine or what not. I tend to just bulldoze my way through and make things work. I went for over a month with a broken tooth and major pain with only one sick day (I took too much Ibuprofen one time, and lost reputation with my intestines... ooog) in the whole time. The day I had it extracted I went right back to work because I cannot stand to think that others see me as slacking. I could work, therefore I would. So when I was laid low by this flu or whatever it is, I surprised myself when I agreed to take yesterday off. Then again, I figured I would be of little help since I had no good sleep that night, and my voice was shot. Not something you want on a phone. And working around the office was contra-indicated by me possibly being contagious. So I went home. This morning was worse, and so I called my boss and told him the situation. He told me to stay home, maybe find a doctor.

At the doctors office I was asked if I wanted a sick note. Uh... Yeah! I want proof that I was not just looking for a 4 day weekend. (Down side of being an amateur actor, people get the idea you can fake being sick. ... Well... they're right, but still...)

I don't actually have a grand statement for the conclusion, and I blame this flu for that, but it seems to fit that we should always consider our reputation. We all know we have one (or more), and we may even know some of it, and we can even use it to our advantage. Maybe we should put more care into building and maintaining it.


And because I feel like it, a clip for you! Matt Smith was brought on to replace the much loved David Tennant as Doctor Who. In his first episode The Doctor had to prove his chops to the Evil Aliens of the Episode and Matt Smith had to prove himself as a suitable Doctor. For those of you unfamiliar with the shows, when The Doctor dies, his body Regenerates into a new Doctor. Same basic beliefs and values, but new person, new personality, new body. Matt Smith is the eleventh Doctor. In the clip we see footage of all the Doctors before him.


It's always good to a reputation to back you up.

It's also good to be able to back up your reputation...




Friday, December 09, 2011

That still, small voice inside... That you really wanna smash with a 20lb sledgehammer...

I have a co-worker who just drives me nuts. Not "Boy, is *that* guy annoying," but "I swear if he takes that tone of voice one more time I swear I am gonna turn and tear his face off!" annoying. The kind where when you get home and you're playing a video game and all the bad guys wear *his* face annoying. This guy makes me wanna cuss. Violently. 

And even better, another co-worker, whom I respect as a person and for the quality of their work, is even MORE annoyed by this guy, so at this point I'm sorta feeling justified. I mean, lets face it, he avoids work, he gives loud sighs to let us know he isn't happy about the work he was just assigned or the call he now has to answer instead of watching movies on youtube, he likes to get into arguments just to argue, and REFUSES to accept the slightest evidence against his position, and to top it all off, accused *ME* of always needing to be right. 

... Okay... he had some small point on me there, and that hurt, but I'm not on his level here. I will at least consider the evidence before. I've even been swayed to the other side (or a third side)! By my sister, even! So I am not exactly Al Gore here. 

I guess it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't sit 15 feet from him for most of the day. I mean... OI! 

Another part is the difference in work ethic. I have one, for starters. 

Ok... I'll admit to being a snob. But that isn't strictly a bad thing. I believe that to be considered a good worker you should adhere to a few principles. 

A) Be On Time. I learned from my dad (via example) that if you're early you're on time, if you're on time you're late, and if you're late you're dead. (Or fired. Which is worse, in my opinion. The dead don't have bills to pay.) I was recently late to work by five minutes. Why? I live between two railroad tracks, and have to cross one of them to get to work. I have to cross it twice, and work is on a spur from a oneway street. There are back ways, but they are much longer. I left with 25 minutes to spare (had to get breakfast from McDonald's, dontcha know.) and come to my first intersection... which stayed red. A train was coming, and so it would not let me past until the train was gone. Funny thing... Train never showed up. the bell rang, the lights flashed, other cars started weaving through the guard bars, but no train. I texted my boss, "Might be late, stuck behind train." I got back, "Ok. Drive safe." That's my boss, awesome guy. I waited. no train. No green light. Finally, I pulled into the right hand lane, made a (legal) right hand turn on a red and went the other way, took the long route, and got to work. I waited a bit too long to make my move, sure, but I had time to burn on this, and I communicated with my boss. I am normally 5-15 minutes early to work. Part of this is self preservation (Gotta start the computer, load timeclock program, clock in, set up my tech programs, etc). A lot of it is my dad refusing to be late even when he had to walk through 3 feet of fresh snow. No joke. And he was on time. Dad's, take note... your sons are watching you... 

B) Communicate with your Boss. See above. Most times if you are constantly clear with your boss about what is going on, how things are going, and provide a history of reputable-ness (did I just invent a word?) they will work with you. My boss knows where I live. He knows my cell number, and he knows I will not bail on him with out good cause. When I called a few weeks ago because I locked my car keys in the car the night before, not only did he say "Be safe," but he called others in an attempt to get me a ride while I walked along the highway. (Again, I intended to leave super early that day. God thing, for sure.) 

C) Do at least one thing you don't want to do for work each day. Towards the end of today I was looking at a call back that I reeeaaallly did not want to do. You know, I have done a lot of those today, I knocked a bunch off the list, I'll let on of the other guys get this one, I thought. I did another call back. Went back to the list. It was staring at me. I did another call back. Got back to the list, was proud of how short I had gotten it... And this one was glaring at me. I didn't wanna, I shouldn't of had to call, someone else should have taken that call just as much as me, and I know I call back more than any other person on my team, I was Justified in not making that call. Except, I wasn't. This was my Job. Not punching the clock, but getting the work done, even if you hate it. Now, I like my work, but as with any job, there are people and tasks you hate, and this one call back meant putting myself into a situation I was not comfortable being in, and might wind up with me getting boss man involved. One of those calls. I picked up the phone, opened the ticket, and made the call. It is immaterial what happened on the call, it is only relevant that I made the call. On my own, no one prompting me but the Spirit accusing my willful disobedience.  Do at least one thing you do not like to do a day. And then, one more. And then one more, and then one more. 

D) Never, ever, lie. If you don't know, admit it. If you think it might be this way, but aren't sure, admit it. Never ever lie. "Thank you for calling (name of Corp here)'s help desk, my name is Eric, how can I help you?" "Eric, this is Snidely Whiplash over at store 666, and I am doing a followup on the horrible disaster of xyz... why isn't my dohicky here yet to fix my watchacallit?" Well... I could blame it on some one else, "Oh, that's for so and so's group to do, who knows how long THAT is gonna take!" I could make it sound much more complicated (note... sometimes this is the truth!) "Well, the freighter carrying the dohickies sank... " I could appease him, "It's in the mail, sir. Just have to wait on the mail system!" In this case I said "Well, Whiplash, when we get defective parts, we send them out to get refurbished. We usually have a supply of Dohickies on hand for situations like this, but want to say I saw a note that we were plum out. I don't see a note on this ticket in particular, and I could be wrong, but you are on the list to get this part, and I know our team tries to expedite this. That said, I just don't know when you will get it." Sometimes Whiplash accepts the answer, which was 100% truthful, and sometimes he gets mad, but so what? I spoke the truth and no one can accuse me of doing wrong by speaking the truth. If I lie, more then likely at some point it comes out, and I get hammered by upper management. Never, ever, lie. 

E) This is probably a me thing, and is really only applicable to where you have to deal with the public, but for the love of God and all that is Holy, PLEASE! Answer the phone professionally. If you flub this one thing bad enough ("Hello..." ...aaand? Hello what?) and I get your boss on the phone, I will hammer you. Conversely, if you knock this out of the park, ('Thank you for calling Blahdeebah's, My name is Expendable, How may I help you today?") I will sing your praises to your boss, and sometimes even ask for the boss to do so. You have a chance to set the tone for the rest of my service experience. Amanda at Mattress Firm in Kyle, Texas (268-2333) did this, and when I walked in the door I asked for her. I know they work on commission and by God if I was buying from them (and I did) it would be from her, because I knew she was good. And she was. She went out of her way to suggest a solution that might not have made her the money she would have preferred, but got me in a bed (and her some money instead of none) that I love. Earlier that day I was looking at the local R-A-C. I left knowing I likely wouldn't buy there unless I had no other choice. Why? I was not treated as important in their eyes. You do not have a job with out your customer, and you need to make them feel important. This starts from the second you pick up that phone. Get it right. 

F) Wear your name tag. I went to visit the family over thanksgiving, and that Saturday I visited the local store of the company I work for. The lady who rang me out was not at her register to start with, was not wearing a uniform shirt (possibly new?) and not wearing her name tag. The last is, in my opinion, unforgivable. On a slow day like that she had ample time to go get a new one, and even the fresh newbie has one in five minutes. I know. I used to make them when I worked the stores. A few days later I answer the phone and it's the manager from that store wanting me to change the music station to holiday stuff. I mention the incident. I actually saved the receipt to give him the employee ID number, but lost it in the car somewhere. I describe the person and the incident, and I can here in his voice he is also upset. Our boss, the owner of our company is HUUUGE on this, and we all know it. You can be disciplined for this. When it comes to an evaluation of whether or not to fire you for a big mistake, you don't want that on your record. On the flip side, I have taken note of someones name and hunted down the manager to pass on a praise for that employee. I can't do that if you don't wear your name tag. Yes, I am a snob. You should be too. Strive for excellence. The reward for good work is more work, and sometimes a pay raise. You want that raise? get guys like me on your side telling your boss how great you are.

My annoying co-worker? Usually on time. Physically, if not on the phones yet. Can't speak to communication with the boss, cause I am not the boss. Avoids work unless assigned to him or it's something he likes. Lying... lets say he will make something up that may or may not be true to explain why something is the way it is and can't be changed, when really it can be and he doesn't know it or doesn't want to do it. Or he is right that it can't be changed, but wrong as to why, and it's kind of important. Phone etiquette... ok, it's not just him on this, but he is the worst in my mind. He lets the phone wing until just before it rolls over to another person before he picks up, and then it's "Help Desk, Snidely,". ... C'mon, you can do better than THAT! Sigh. In this case the name tag is irrelevant, but I threw it up top because it's important to me.

So Buddy and I are commiserating over our shared dislike of Idjit, and wishing ill and suggesting ideas... and I realize that I'm wrong. Very very wrong.

Not about my assessment of his work or his person, but in my response. I don't have to like this guy, or support him in his folly, but God calls me to love him. To not bad mouth or mistreat him, but to pray for him, and treat him the same way Christ would.

That's hard. That's realllllly hard. 

I'm not even sure how to do it, but I know I have to at least honestly try or my guilt will grow until I can't take it anymore.

Know I know why Pinocchio threw a mallet at the Talking Cricket: 

The little twit's annoying. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Gandalf Grayhame!

Nothing to spectacular today. I'm just doing some housework, trying to get ready for the delivery of my new bed. It ain't anything fancy, but it's new, and it's mine!

Which means I have to clean so the delivery guys can actually get it into the bedroom. Still have some work to do, move the couch, move a dresser type thing, so they have a good angle into the room. Clean the bedroom.

Did a lot of laundry today. Needed more quarters, and I knew I would, so I went next door to H.E.B. and got more. When I came back I saw this.


My cat, Gandalf, watching as life went on past the patio door. He likes to sit there a lot.

He has been bouncing around most of the day, probably because I have the windows (and that glass door) cracked open a bit to get some fresh air in. Right now he is snugged up between a laundry basket and a wall.

Strange how I don't care much how my house is kept until someone is coming over. And I really am never gonna see these delivery guys again. I shouldn't care what they think. But I do. And I want it to be somewhat clean at least.

Isn't that kind of like us with God? Our hearts and minds have all sorts of junk just tossing around in there, and then when we feel God's presence moving in there, we start going "Oh crap, I've gotta clean!"

... Yeah... because God didn't know what it was like in there before.

But the shame of admitting to God what we have been leaving in our selves gives us a temporary clean buzz. Not a bad thing really, but then we come down from it and stuff just begins to accumulate. Not bad stuff, necessarily, but... stuff. Fears, dreams, wants, time wasted, words ignored, words unjustly held onto. Stuff.

I'm one to talk... I got stuff too. And my apt is a pretty good show of it. Sigh.
Well. At least I am cleaning now.

And not writing a blog to procrastinate from cleaning.

Ahem.

I don't really have any answers, or insights, but I do have thoughts bouncing around my head. And a kitty, who likes to look outside when he isn't sleeping. Or knocking stuff over while I'm trying to clean.

Off I go, to the bedroom. If you hear screams, it's cause the closet ate me.

Eric.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Planning and plotting...

Well, I have been thinking for a bit on what I really want for myself, and from myself, in regards to this blog.

This post my not be very coherent as I got very little sleep last night, and I might be wise to wait on this post until later, but then again, I might never post it if I wait. So, here goes.

This may be ego, this may be pride, this may just be proper desire to have my work appreciated, but I would like to build a regular readership base. I would like to have readers who are "my" readers, not just people my friends and family have sent this way as a favor to me. I would like to have people put my blog on their RSS feeds because they have a genuine interest in what I have to say.

Which means I need to expect a few things from myself. Darn.

I believe the rules of capitalism are true to a great many things, and this is one of them. If I want to have eyeballs on my blog, or "customers" in my "store," than I need to provide good content, or good "products." Or, as many web comic artists and writers reply when asked how to succeed in web-comics, "Don't Suck."

I also need to provide a consistent product. I need to post on a regular, hopefully predictable, basis with a content one can expect to of a particularly good quality. Maybe not Time Magazine quality, but worth reading.

I will need to create some either very niche specific or broad based content. Both can be good, but I think I will choose the latter. I could focus all my writing on Faith, or Politics, or Nosehairs, but that only will last so long for me, and I tend to wander in my thoughts.

I should also consider if I need to have a minimum length. Dropping by just to see "I HATE POLITICS!!!!111!!!!" isn't really worth while, but then requiring myself to write a thousand words when only five hundred will do is also a little silly. This bears thinking on. And will likely not be decided today.

So, out of this, I would appreciate some feedback on what ya'll (yes, I live in the south) think on what I have already written, on what I have listed as this blogs topics, what interests you, etc. I basically am trying to do some "Market Research" for my readership. So, if you please answer a few questions for me in the comments section, I would greatly appreciate it.

On a scale of 1 (Don't care/know nothing about Topic) to ten (This topic is my bread and butter of life), please let me know how you feel about the following topics. Feel free to add a short response as well.

1. American History - Politics

2. American History - Economics

3. American History - Industry and Commerce (more a Culture, then the way money flows.)

4. Current American Politics

5. Current American Economics

6. Current American Industry and Commerce

7. Faith issues, with a heavy bent towards Christian Evangelical Protestantism.

8. Retail/customer service gripes, experiences (from both sides of the counter) and cheers.

9. Computer tech geekery.

10. Gaming culture/subculture.

11. Books/movies/tv shows with a HEAVY emphasis on plot and character. (Warning, I have most of a degree in Theatre.)

12. My cat.

13. Family Issues.

14. FOOD! (Not likely to be a main topic, but you never know)

15. Puns.

Please also give a short, one sentence response to the following:

Which way do you lean on American Politics, if you care?

What are your basic beliefs when it comes to Faith?

Are you someone who cares a lot about the service you get from a restaurant or store?

Do you like to read, watch movies/tv, or play video games? Which ones?


Feel free to only answer ones you care about, I just want to get a feel for where you folks are at and what ya'll are looking for. Thanks.

The Writer. (of doom.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Declaration.

Two hundred and thirty-five years ago, a group of some fifty or so men gathered together for two months in a large, crowded, window ventilated room and began to discuss the response the Thirteen Colonies should give to the  Proclamation of Rebellion of late 1775 and the Prohibitory Act from early 1776. This Congress was given, for the first time ever, the power to do the impossible: Defy King George III, his Parliament, and the British Commonwealth.

In early July, (and accounts differ on details) these men announced to the world that "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..."


This had never before be so clearly and concisely stated. In the history of Mankind on the face of the Earth, this had NEVER been stated. Imagine a world where you had not heard these words before? Where only Kingdoms and nobles had rights like these. Could you dare to stand up against them and declare these rights yours? Could you really?

Then, as if they set out to make it worse (Hint: They did.), they said that "... when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security."


They declared it their Duty to throw off the government of King George the Third.

They committed Treason against their king.

What drives men to do this? "The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States."


Tyranny. That one man could hold rule over any other, in ways that violated the self-evident truths that all men, kings, merchants, farmers, soldiers, and servants, are created equal, that they have unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Crimes against these are forms of tyranny, and these men would have no more.

They listed the crimes, they denounced them as acts unworthy of government, and said " A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People."


Free men had declared that their ruler was unfit.

It gets better (or worse, if you're King George).

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved..."


Independence. How often we take this so granted. Our forefathers lived through the reign of a tyrant, or ignored the will of his people to serve his desires. They, knowing that their chances of worldly victory was slim at best, challenged the greatest power in the known world, charged it with moral disobedience, social decay, and legal failures.

Knowing that it could well destroy them, they swore an oath.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."


How many times do we read this and just give it a familiar nod? Think fresh on this.

They pledged their Lives. They were willing to die over this. God spoke to Ezekiel, and said "And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none." (22:30) God found such men here.

Put it this way; many are willing to kill to stop a murder, a rape, a theft. How many will die to stop it? To trade their lives for the chance to stop it? No guarantee, no promise. A chance. Less then 50/50. Would you make that trade?

They pledged their Lives.

They pledged their Fortunes. Many if not all of these men were men of wealth and property. These guys were top tier in the economy, or matters of business and colonial survival. This was no small pledge, they had more to lose then most in the colonies. Would you give your car to stop a murder? Your cell phone? Your computer?

Your home?

Everything you own?

They pledged their Fortunes.

They pledged their sacred Honor. How many men nowadays have Sacred Honor? Fewer then there should be. Say it another way, they pledged their souls. The essence of what made them the men they were. And when we say "pledged," you can also say "forfeit."
Some acts that are necessary to life cost men dearly, and they give up a piece of themselves to do it. Speak to men have had to kill another man, ask them how it changed them. What it cost them. It is needed, at times, but the cost is very high.
The tyranny was so great, they would forfeit their honor, do the unthinkable, commit unconscionable acts if need be, to free the colonies from it. They would pay with their souls.

They pledged their sacred Honor.

July 4 1776, these men declared themselves to be free men, Independent men.

Twenty-two years later the United States Constitution was ratified.

Twenty-two years from a declaration to a Constitution to protect the rights so declared.

Some two thousand years or so prior, another declaration against tyranny was made.

Tyranny was again sought against man, suppressing his rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, to the Equality of all men. Few men knew it, even fewer knew how to fight against it. And none had the power to do so. Sin had so oppressed mankind that man could not stand for himself, could not fight against oppression, could not even find a reason to resist. Mankind was a slave to his own carnal, sinful, craven self. And no congress could change it.

But one night a group of humble men, who were simply going about their work, were given a declaration of independence. An Angel came to them, saying "... behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.Then a Congress of Angels came singing praises, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"


A Savior is born. A Savior to free us from the tyranny of sin. One who could fight for us, guard us, teach us, and challenge us. A Savior who challenged sin, charging it with the corruption of mankind, murder most vile, and legalism prohibiting grace.

And thirty-three years later, he sealed his salvation with sacrifice.

He did not sacrifice his honor, he had no need. And, were it even his goal, he gained greater honor in the process. He made himself a little lower then the Angels to grant us Independence.

He did not sacrifice his fortune, for he had none to lose. He was born naked into this world, and he died much the same way, have given everything of his, quite literally, away in the process.

His life. he sacrificed his life to grant us Independence. He died the slow, painful death of the cross, giving his blood and body up to pay penance for an ungrateful breed of men. Traded for a murderer and rebel, betrayed by his closest friends, and forsaken by even his father in heaven, he traded his life. And he did it willingly.

The humble shepherds who saw angels that night did not know what the future held, just as the Congress in 1776 did not know their future. They simply knew Something was changing. A declaration was made that we were free.

And one other thing the shepherds didn't know was the vision Joseph had some months prior. An angel came to him and said that the son would be born, and he would be called Emmanuel.

God. With us.

Again, we read this with such crass familiarity.

God. With us.


No longer were we separated from God by sin. No longer would we need to seek God's forgiveness with offerings and sacrifices. God was now with us. Right here, right now, on this Earth, WITH US.

And He was here to make us free men.


Our world is forgetting two of our most important Declarations in all of history. That we are free men, with rights that are unalienable, given to us by our Creator, and that our Creator is Emmanuel, God who is with us, to make us Men and Woman who are truly Free. Freedom from Sin. From Tyranny. From the sting of death itself. God has declared us independent of sin, because we declare ourselves Dependent on Emmanuel.

This is my Declaration. I was once a slave to sin, having suffered it's tyranny over my life, and was subject to it's penalty of death, having had my rights to spiritual life, happiness, and the well being of my soul usurped, and I was powerless to stand against such usurpations. That the Christ, Jesus, the Messiah, Emmanuel, came to this Earth, was born of the Virgin Mary, and that being fully God and fully Man, did make a sacrifice for my sins, and having made payment, purchasing my soul, was raised again to life on the third day from his death. Having achieved victory over Death itself, the Christ, my Lord, was raised to the right hand of God the Father, is there now, and has sent the Spirit of God as his seal of purchase over me. I declare myself to be a free man from sin, and wholly Dependent on the Grace and Mercy of God, and that to Him I pledge Life, my Fortune, and though it never be required, my Honor.

Eric Flint.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some thoughts, and test some tech.

So, I am a reader of TheBlaze.com. Say what you will about Glenn Beck, The Blaze is a decent source of conservative news and opinion. I likes it, and it has some snark to it. Really love the Blog there.

There is a news article there about mayor Bloomberg pretty much saying the occupiers need to leave for a while and let some repairs and cleaning be made. He did this not out of an outbreak of sanity on his part, but because the private owners of the park, who have generously opened the park to public, have requested city aid in maintaining the park. Here is the letter. I hope. Trying this embedding thing...


Brookfield's Letter to NYPD asking to "clear" Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street protesters


Hah. Works. Awesome.

Now, note the date the letter was sent. The eleventh. Today is the 13th. Yesterday, (the twelfth... just case you were confused) The mayor replied with this.


Deputy Mayor Holloway's Statement about Mayor Bloomberg and Zuccotti Park




Now... I agree, we have the right to free speech. In fact, I shall paste the First Amendment here, for our shared perusal. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Let us consider a few things. One... The right to peaceably assemble does not negate the right to protect  or keep private property free of trespassers. Any private property has the right to remove those that the owners do not want on their property. You may protest in the street, on the sidewalks, and in a city owned park, fine. But this park is privately owned, and, by the kindness of the company, is allowing public access. Two... the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Hrm. You know, these old farts writing the amendments... I think they may have know a thing or to about petitioning for a redress of grievances. May have done it, once or twice... you know. Just a few times. Hrm... wonder what that looks like.

Wait.... wasn't there something they wrote which listed exactly what they didn't like about being under King George III? Oh yeah... that pesky little Declaration of Independence, which they list 27... 27... hold on... let me say it one more time 27 separate and SPECIFIC issues that the Colonies had with King George III laws and his ruling of the empire in DIRECT RELATION to the colonies. And, right after listing these issues they said, just to be clear, that "In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury." How... compared to the Occupiers, these old farts were patient. Cause... I don't even know what the Occupiers are wanting to change beyond "Government corruption," and "Capitalism." Very... non specific, those desires are.

Now... you may ask, "But why are you on their case? You said you support the First Amendment!" And I do. But let me ask you this... Inhabiting a park for three weeks, in which there is trash overflow, sex, drugs, loud chanting at night, harassment of local business and residents, and defecating on a COP CAR peaceful? Or, to put it this way, sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these? I would say no. I would argue that a peaceful assembly would have an area for a speaker to get up and speak, maybe some signs, maybe even songs and chanting... during daylight hours. With respect towards all. With love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Nor should there ever be.

There is a vital difference between a protest against the government, and an all out rebellion against the lawful establishment. But may I remind you that it took 27 separate and specific abuses of power over the colonies for there to be an agreement that "We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."


Protest. Go ahead, its allowed. It is even a good thing, I dare say. But do it with Class, Responsibility, and Care. Remember, you are upset at others destroying whats yours? You are destroying what is theirs. Double standards won't get you anywhere. 

Back to where I started. Come Friday, the occupiers must de-camp (I am not sure of this is being done in portions, or as a whole) and allow the cleaning crew in. One wonders if they will assist in cleaning up after themselves or not, and I hope they will. One also wonders if they will protest against the move. I found this news on The Blaze and Fox.com, but as of 11:00 am CST, its not on CNN.com, MSNBC.com, or the Huffington post. Reuters has an article suggesting that the protesters will resist a cleanup effort from the owners of the park and city workers. As a fellow American, I ask that the protesters across the US respect the law, respect the property they are on, and allow the sanitary workers to do their jobs.
Anyway. That's my two cents.




(This post has been edited. The edits were purely typographical in nature.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Humor from the White House

I was checking out the "We the people" page on the white house website, and found some... interesting petitions. For those unfamiliar with the page, here is a quick pic.

This is (naturally) a clipped image. Don't want you logging in as me, after all.

Now, I get the first petition... But... uh... "Restore corporate tax codes, repeal corporate personhood, and tie profits to domestic job creation"???? That last part... I don't think the government can do that... it's just the way business WORKS! It's like asking for water to be uncompressible. It's not a trick, it's physics!

Anyway... a few others that caught my eye...


"Hey, Bob! Whadda doing out here?"
"Oh, hi Mr. White House Official! I'm being enraged!"
"Oh. Okay. Have fun!"




Um...I present to you the 14th amendment, Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Beyond that, it's a matter of morals. That's about it, folks. Can't force morals.




I actually kind of like this one. Pevents some... sticky legal issues about who won... not that we've EVER had those.... but um... I think it needs a.. whats the word... amend.... ahmed... Amendment! Yeah. That's it. Actually, and amendment to repeal Both the twelve amendment, and to (as the 12th did) replace article 2, section 3 of the Constitution.

.... Right.




I think a strict reading of the 1st amendment as I believe the Founders would have understood it will provide the answer here.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
If the school wants to teach creationism, great. If they don't, great. Public schools should teach Evolution as the Theory it is (and it has many very vaild points) and not be upset when Creationism is brought up. It is also a theory. But we should not force if creationism is or is not brought up. 


Seems more like a state level issue. How does this affect the common defense or trade? (actually, many of these would fall under those questions)



The ONLY way the federal government could even hope to accomplish this is to reduce federal regulations on the industry. I... don't know that there are that many. That said... dude.. there are like 20 providers in a decent sized area. Look around. Stuff ain't cheap, dude.


Oh, how I wish it was that easy... but I doubt it would be. The banks would get HOSED. Unless of course the Government were to pay the debts in our stead. Yeah. Cause what we REALLY need is to add MORE debt to our balance. I agree, it would stimulate the economy (aside from banks crashing. Which, admittedly would be stimulating, but in another sense.) but it would have to be coupled with cutting WAAAAAAAAAY back on spending, cutting taxes (to also stimulate growth, for a total higher take-in from taxes) and maybe making tuition tax exempt money. But honestly, I just don't see it working, esp since it would be a one time thing, and then other generations would whine about why they didn't get the deal also... blah blah blah. Yeah. Life ain't cheap, dude. Get a job. I'm in wage garnishment, I feel your pain. GET. A. JOB.

What? Just... what? Put national defense in a CIVILIAN organization? Heck NO! U.S. Air Force for the win, baby! They have the lift capability, and the paranoid mentality. Give the money to the pros, yo.


Both of these are state level issues.  Either deal with the state, or with the fraud, the FBI (if it crosses state lines)... wait... puppy mills? Really? "Mr. pres, I know you got a lot on your plate with the whole libya war that isn't going on, and the obamacare being waivered out for your buddies, and spending us out of a future, but really! Think of the puppies!"

Wooooah. Look at that. 21,073 to stop being groped, and 1,644 to help economic woes. Wow. That's... something special.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ooooog.

God did not intend for man to be at work at 6:15am. 7 is the earliest He could have required from us. Therefore, working early must be a sin... so I can condemn work for having me show up early... right?


....


Never mind the fact I volunteered for this. Blaaaah.

*fwumph*

Zzzzzzzzz......

Friday, September 02, 2011

"Everything is a weapon"

So, on The Blaze news site, there is an article about the New Black Panthers and how they had a seminar on "Black survival."

Firstly, is that any different from "white survival?" "Brown (excuse me... "Hispanic") survival?" It was, basically, a seminar in self defense, from a viewpoint of "Caring about myself only." Now, I get part of it. Some on comes at me with a weapon, and I have my pistol on me, he is going down, and I ain't gonna be playing any games about it. We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill. I don't want to get into a fight, but if you start one, I'll end it. But the New Black Panthers take it further. They show an udder disregard for human life, and a disregard for the laws that govern society. For that, I condemn them.

But, I gotta ask this... The head line on the main page splash graphic for the Blaze's article reads "NBPP to kids: "Everything... is a weapon."

... They're not wrong.

I don't see why this is a problem. In the slightest. I would go so far as to say that it might be something we SHOULD be teaching our children. Everything. Is. A. Weapon. Some things might make for really crappy weapons, but they can still be ones. My coffee cup with it's little stir stick in it makes for a lousy weapon, but even empty it is useful for distraction, minor obstruction, throwing at the eyes to delay the pursuer that little bit more, or maybe you could use the stir stick to gouge at the eyes. Crush the cup (paper) and try and choke the guy. My humble coffee cup is a weapon. My words can be weapons, as surely as a firearm can be. Taunt a person into rash action, into depression, or talk them into surrender, or even diplomatically into becoming an ally, that's using words as a weapon.

It may be better to say this... *I* am a weapon, and everything around me are my tools of the trade. I may choose not to use them, I may not find a use for them immediately, but that is what they are. Why should we shy away from teaching our children that people can be dangerous, and we must take care to be responsible?

This is where the New Black Panthers failed, responsibility. They have presumed superiority over other people, and recklessly endangered youth by teaching an *attitude* of aggressiveness, and a lack of compassion to mankind, regardless of color.

I am a weapon. I am also a servant. I am an heir with Christ, and reflect His love to mankind. I will not hesitate to defend myself, or others, because the aggressor has chosen to act outside of that love. But I am *responsible* to God and Man (In that order) for my actions, and I realize that my actions carry a weight with them. That my actions are eternal.

Give a firearm to known violent gangbanger, and you're irresponsible. Give the same firearm to a cop. A Marine. A U.S. Marshal. A homeowner.  Likely, it's going to be ok. You can trust them to be responsible. Are there going to be exceptions, of course. Life is like that. But the Canton Cop who is going nutters is NOT representative of every cop out there, and we should honor and respect those who have taken the extra weight on their shoulders to protect us.

Somehow, I don't think the NBPP would mind using this "Black Survival" training against a white cop. Our responsibility is to promote a society where we respect each other, and we realize we can hurt each other easily, because everything, including ourselves, are weapons.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Testing, for a variety of reasons.

I am trying to figure out how to get my old church to be able to podcast the sermons, but I dont know where or how to host the files. Gonna fiddle around here to see if this will do it.

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