Saturday, May 28, 2005

An End to Tirades (I Hope)

Over this past week I've gone on a couple of different tirades (really, me complaining about things). Interestingly this week I've gotten more comments than I normal. I do love to complain (and apparently so do other people) but it doesn't help me keep an upbeat attitude about life.

So, I'm going to finish up my tirade week with two quick thoughts.

I was at Lowe's tonight at 8pm looking for pruning shears (essentially scissors to cut branches and bushes). You'd think this would be easy, but I walked around the lawn department for 25 minutes without seeing one Lowe's worker and without finding those shears. I did finally stumble across them, but not until I had a brilliant idea (now I need to find a way to sell it).

It's quite obvious to me the larger stores cannot give good customer service (or are unwilling to make it a priority). I believe every store should have a lot of computers spread about (one on every two isles) which let you type in a product and tell you exactly where the product is.

Border's has this pretty close, you put in a book title and it tells you which section and shelf the book is placed (if it's in stock). It even lets you order a book if it's out of stock. I only wish the highlighted map was better.

Why can't every store do this? I type in pruning shear and it shows me the row and shelf where they are located (even, dare I say, with reviews)? I type in Black and Decker trimmer and it shows me exactly where it's located and the price (another problem I had with Lowe's, the prices weren't lines up with the correct products).

I left Lowe's feeling kind of disgruntled, went to Wal-Mart and have decided I'll never shop there again (I rarely do anyway). After being in line for 25 minutes to use self-checkout (with too few aisles open and no one fixing the self-checkout errors) Wal-Mart is now off my visiting stores, and I'd recommend it drop off yours as well. Again with customer service, how hard is it to really focus on getting people checked out, that's the one time you really get my money (I put down a $50 product because I was frustrated from the wait and lack of apology).

So, it's been a somewhat crummy shopping night. Thankfully the rest of the day went really well. But I ended up picking up comfort food at Giant. Boy those two pints of raspberries felt good!

So, for questions... What stores have you sworn off and why? Heck, which companies have made it into the places you trust and will show preference (Wegmans is on my short list)? And lastly, what great ideas do you have which people could use to improve your shopping experience?


Thursday, May 26, 2005

I've Been Tagged

One of my best friends apparently hates me :) It's the only way I can explain that she'd tag me to fill out a survey. But, I've never done one over e-mail, so I think she's trying to balance it out. Anyway, I love Cindy so I'll fill out her crazy questions.

3 names I go by:

Tom, Bob and Tommy Baby (though I think only one person calls me Tommy Baby, tons call me Bob much to the dismay of high-schoolers)

3 Screen-names I've had:
TLBigNerd (I'm consistent, always only had one)

3 physical things I like about myself:
My eyes, my belly (shows how lazy I am with exercise) and my brain (it helps me get out of trouble when it's to getting me into it)

3 physical things I dislike about myself:
My umm.... Neck pain, toe-nails and my belly (I wish it were a manly six-pack)

3 parts of my heritage:
I think I'm Irish, Polish and American (a.k.a. mutt) but really though ask my wife, she probably knows

3 things I am wearing right now:
Tie, Collared shirt, Slacks (dumb work dress-code)

3 favorite bands / musical artists:
Erasure, Bon Jovi, Michael W. Smith

3 (of many) favorite songs:

Maskerade from The Phantom of the Opera, Friends by Michael W. Smith and Please Come Back by Michelle Tumes (though there are either a million favorites or none since I like so much)

3 things I want in a relationship:

Love, Communication and Honesty

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me:
Smile, Eyes, Hair

3 of my favorite hobbies:
Reading, Photography and Talking to Friends

3 things I want to do really badly right now:
Go to Starbucks and talk to people, Go home and relax and Be forgiven

3 things that scare me:
Someone I love being badly hurt, Messing up so badly it negatively impacts someone else's life and eternity without God

3 of my everyday essentials:
Waking up, getting a shower!, smiling

3 careers you have considered or are considering:
Programmer (good choice since it's what I do), Teacher, Youth Minister/Priest

3 places you want to go on vacation:
England, Alaska and swimming with dolphins

3 kids' names you like:
Rachel, Madison and Thor (ok, couldn't come up with a boy's name)

3 things you want to do before you die:
Bring someone to Christ, Make a difference in people's lives, bring peace to a troubled group, heart or family

3 ways I am stereotypically a boy:
Ummm, I like girls, I like grilling and I'm sometimes emotionally detached

3 ways I am stereotypically a girl:
I LOVE to talk about feelings (mine and other's), I like hugs and I like hard cider (if you haven't been in England trust me, this is a VERY girly thing)

3 celeb crushes:
Lea Thompson in high school (when she was in Spacecamp) and umm, I didn't really have crushes on celebrities...

There you go. My next victims are... Umm....

Rob Because for some reason he's liked doing these things lately.

And two other people from church or youth group, you all decide who wants to do it!

Though if you don't want to fill it out then please feel free not to :)


Monday, May 23, 2005


I've begun to notice something a little off around the office. Once I noticed it a bit more I also began to notice the same thing going on with people outside work (sadly this includes church and youth group). What I'm talking about is a false sense of entitlement.

We have a couple of new developers who recently (within the past 1 1/2 years) joined our team. While they are all good developers I was fairly surprised that each and every one of them felt they deserved a promotion at their annual assessment. To the point that one person openly complained to our higher manager and to the reviewer by attacking the job the reviewer did (We actually did look at the review again and put her up for promotion).

I feel like an old man when I say, "back in my day we earned a promotion by already doing the work for the next level". Here we have people who believe they deserve more than they currently have, and complain when things don't go their way. I started a level below each of these people, was glad to be promoted after my first year, but I had a concrete reason for promotion (I graduated college). It took a few years to get to the next level, and even more to make it where I am today.

I see something similar in youth group at times. We'll have an event come up and while I'll e-mail the group, announce it at G3 meetings, announce it at Starbucks and put it in the newsletter people still complain that they didn't know about an event. I truly have received a phone call from someone saying "Why didn't you call me and tell me you were doing that? I'd have come to youth group that night!" To which I can only ask whether they think I should call them every time we do something different from the norm to let them know about it. Believe it or not I receive a "yes". A serious yes, that certain youth who don't come regularly to any events should be called about events which might interest them.

I've also seen teenagers be upset at their birthday gift because it wasn't as good as what they got last year, or it wasn't as much money. For those of us who have seen Harry Potter, just think about Dudley and his obsession with the number of birthday gifts he receives.

Heck I know I've gone through entitlement feelings as well. I was convinced I deserved my own promotion 2 and 3 years ago, but I didn't receive it. While it didn't seem fair (still doesn't in some ways) I didn't complain (other than to my wife :) ) and continued to work harder in the new role. Sure enough I've been promoted and really do feel like I deserve it (now if only I could be demoted again and have less responsibility).

The truth of the matter is that I don't deserve any of it. The beautiful house, the brilliant daughter, the wonderful wife, the good job, the incredible friends and relationships. I didn't "earn" any of it. They are blessings God has brought in my life. Why should I ask for more when I already have more than 99.9% of the world? How do we tell people that they have to accept hard times in their lives?

I understand this was a bit scattered. It's what happens when I'm frustrated about something. But I'm glad to have finally written about entitlement. Now I need to remember to live with other people who feel they are owed something in life. That I have those same feelings sometimes and should keep in mind a passage I wrote on in our Daily Devotions: 2 Timothy 3:1-17. People will complain and get what they want. At least I'll know where I will be 100 years from now (my head in a jar on Futurama!). Even that's a strong statement of entitlement, since I'm a sinner screw-up all on my own and can only pray I'm living His word correctly.

Your thoughts? I think I'm entitled to hear them! :)


Sunday, May 22, 2005


As some people know, we recently switched our phone service from Verizon (a land line) to Vonage (a company which uses the Internet for phone calls). So really, in our house almost nothing has changed except that we have more services and pay $27 a month after taxes instead of $65. So far the service has been great and except for one hiccup (had to reboot our Internet router to get the caller ID to work) everything has gone well.

I was just thinking about what is really happening here. My voice is moving from my phone to a box which transforms it into numbers (0's and 1's specifically). It is then sent over the Internet (through a bunch of other boxes) and transformed back into my voice on someone else's phone. All without any delay. Think even more, when you call Internationally you might have a slight delay, but usually it's as though you're right next to them.

Lots of transformations occur around us every day. Look at your house. Every moment a piece of coal or plutonium is transformed into bursts of energy. Then sent to your house which all your electronic things know how to use. Makes me think of Star Trek, instead of coal it's people being turned into energy. Then a little while later that energy is put back into bits of person and smushed back together. When I think about it that way, it makes me think transportation is possible, we just need to track which piece of energy will turn into which little bit of myself, and then smush it all back. I'd sign up (After a few years, I saw The Fly too)!

I could go on and on about all the things which transform from one to another. Rachel as each day goes by transforms. I transformed into a better man when I married my wife. I transform every day through my experiences.

So, here's where I'm going with this. All the stories I share are about something that's transformed me. I may not have enjoyed the stories as they happened. Heck, they may not have transformed me in a particularly good way. But each one has literally transformed some little bits of me and made me who I am today. How can I not be grateful for that?

What has transformed you and your life? Realizing each story has made you who you are today, do you see them as something good? Can you see your transformations as good events? I hope you'll remember what I try to remind myself, that God's hand is in each of my transformation events.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Writing for Him

It has been quite a while since I've really made the time to add new posts. I wish I could say I was sorry, but life really has been keeping me wonderfully busy. Rachel's beginning to walk, the house is good, we have friends visiting and I really enjoyed Star Wars Episode III. Though I do want to put in a quick plug.

About three weeks ago our church began posting daily devotions based on the Epistle for the day (the Epistle is one of the readings specified from the Book of Common Prayer, that red book you see in Episcopal Churches). I was really happy and honored to be asked to enter a devotion every Thursday. While mine certainly isn't the best entry of the week, I really do enjoy reading passages and communicating my own thoughts and feelings on God's word. I get to do this a little on Sunday nights, but here I really get to focus on His word.

There are 7 others who post entries for each other day of the week (two people trade off Saturdays). They have messages incredibly meaningful and touching. So, give it a look. Have you ever written on God's word, if not, give it a try. If you have and stopped try and pick it up again. This really is a great way to go deeper into His word, past just reading.

Give it a read and post your comments with your own thoughts on the reading.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

God Made That

Most anyone who knows me knows this one truth... I really don't like mowing. That's actually not entirely true. What I dislike is performing huge amounts of manual labor, or even lots of energy, on something which will have to be done again, with the same amount of energy in a week. Some people love this, time alone to think, enjoy nature and see God's beauty. Same with gardening, just not my thing, I don't like the idea of getting all dirty and spending hours for something I'll have to clean up and (in many cases) replant next year. Call me lazy but I prefer to do something once and reuse that solution (which is why programming is so up my alley).

All that leads back to mowing (okay, maybe it doesn't, but bear with me). Last fall we purchased a new riding mower from Sears to replace our older riding mower which conked out on us. This mower has a WONDERFUL 42 inch cutting deck (the width which is cut by the blades, about 3 1/2 feet) AND it has a plow which made me so happy this past winter. Cut the time is takes to cut our back yard from 15 minutes to 30.

Our front yard has always been another matter entirely. It has a slight grade to it. Slight meaning it starts slight quickly goes into a 90 degree pitfall (okay, that's an exaggeration, but it's steep). I've gone through three push mowers, sweating, panting and miserable after 15 minutes of mowing. That all changed today.

We purchased a Craftsman multi-speed, self-propelled, 6.5hp, rear wheel drive 21" deck mower. That's enough big words to make anyone salivate, even if we don't know what it means. What it does means to me is that I mowed that horrible hill in 15 minutes (usually takes 30 - 45) with almost no effort (thanks to the rear wheel drive). I had so much energy I even cut some of the tricky areas in back with the new mower (normally I'd leave them be, rednecks would love me). I then grabbed the riding mower and mowed the back.

While I was mowing I was reminded of a conversation I had with Alex L. last Thursday. We got on the topic that everything in this world was made by God. We had some more clarification there but it boiled down to the fact that the iPod so many have, the computer on your desk, the car you bring to work, or the new lawn mower which makes life so easy was created through man by God.

So right now I love this new lawn mower and that it turns a job I used to hate into a job I currently like. Once the newness wears off I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune and wish my robotic lawn mower worked. But around that time I'll have my wife take over mowing the front. Yes, like the great lawn mower, I chose a great wife. No idea how I get her to marry me, but a wife who mows is worth keeping! For the moment I'm going to celebrate this event by bringing ColdStone to youth group tonight!

We see the things in life that God has given us pretty clearly. My question is simply this... What have you done or created which improves the life of others? What great solutions to problems has God worked through you?


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