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.


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.

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. 

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.


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.


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