Wednesday, August 31, 2011

churched

Last Sunday as I was sitting in church I wondered how different my life would have been had I been a Christian back in high school, devout and diligent enough to attend service each Sunday morning despite the staying out late habits I had back then. Instead, I was as my friend Duane characterized me, "irreverent," one who liked to poke fun at religion and those who adhered to it.

I admire the teenagers and young adults I see in church each week who make it a point to willingly attend service. That's a time when there's plenty of diversions that get in the way, even the desire to catch up on some rest and sleep in.

Of course it is what it is and I was just not that person back in high school or college but I wondered what if.

That's the time when a lot of people become disillusioned - they complain about the hypocrisy, the way they see people really behave even though they are supposed to be "Christians." Then they leave the church. That's understandable, although hypocrisy is by no means confined to Christians, religion, or to any one group - it is pervasive and universal. If we choose to follow other people, then we're bound to be disappointed at one time or another. Our standard should be doing what pleases God, and the way we behave is between us and Him.

Anyway, I'm not trying to be preachy or anything. I was thinking I might have saved myself all the times of insecurity and wanting to fit in and trying to figure out how to be someone that I wasn't, because I'd have more peace in being myself.

Maybe.. but on the other hand, to paraphrase the beginning of chapter 3 of the book of Ecclesiastes, there's a time and season for everything under heaven. High school and college just weren't those times for me - I wouldn't have been ready; I was too immature. God has His timing. Like I said, it is what it is and the past is the past but there's still what lies ahead.

I don't mean to start sounding profound or anything either.. I'm just spouting off some thoughts. Last Sunday was the time to be thinking about a different path in life had I been a different person back in my school days.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

celebration

Last Saturday, the day after my colonoscopy, I "celebrated" the good news by devouring a hamburger and fries for lunch. Yes, I know, that's like those folks who go on a diet and when they reach their goal they go to Hometown Buffet or another all you can eat place and gorge themselves silly.

I rarely have hamburgers or fries these days, and it's been like that since the surgery I had back in 2007; quite a change from my old habits! But once in a while I'll take a break from the regimen and eat something that isn't so healthy.

We were going to go to In-N-Out but since it was kind of late and also sweltering hot outside we figured it would be too crowded - even the parking lot would be too crowded and we'd have to walk in the hot sun so instead we went to a place we never tried before. The burger was decent and the fries were only average, being the kind that come frozen in a big bag. I was thinking, having a burger and fries really isn't anything "special." Maybe it would have been had we gone to In-N-Out instead, but just overall I've gotten used to doing without so it's not so much of a treat to eat the forbidden fruit, so to speak.

Last Wednesday, I wasn't allowed to eat any fruits, veggies or nuts in preparation for the procedure. I found myself missing not being able to have my usual fruit, or to eat salad and veggies with dinner. What's this world coming to, anyway?

Monday, August 29, 2011

currently reading

I'm currently reading Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto. It is very interesting. Its overall premise is that our government has strayed far beyond the Constitution, and its framework and ideals set forth by our founding fathers. It's a collection of examples of just how screwed up our country is in the major issues facing us all.

It's a depressing book because it makes so much sense.

Personally, while he makes a lot of sense, Ron Paul has little chance of ever being elected president. He lacks the charisma. He lacks form over substance, something that our current president has in generous proportions.

The way I see it, the way we try and fix our problems in this country is like this:

Let's look at our problems as being a giant balloon (which keeps getting bigger, by the way, being filled with more and more problems).

Our government tries to fix a problem by squeezing on one part of the balloon to make it smaller. However, when you do that, another part of the balloon gets bigger. So the overall volume of problems remains constant (actually, just think of it as a balloon hooked up to an air pump so it steadily increases in size).

Government keeps squeezing different areas of the balloon and making it a little smaller but it just shifts the air to other parts that get bigger, plus more and more air keeps entering the balloon so it gets bigger still. Then as more air gets in, those areas that had gotten smaller just start getting bigger again.

What government ought to do is figure out a way to let the air out of the balloon. The air will still keep coming from the pump but you've got to let more air out than what goes in.

That's like how the deficit is. The deficit is that balloon. They try and reduce expenses in one area but then use those savings to spend like crazy in another area. Meanwhile, overall spending keeps increasing so the balloon gets bigger and bigger. True expense reduction would mean letting air out of the balloon faster than air enters, but noooooo, that is a foreign concept to our government.

And it isn't just government to blame. You've got all these voters calling for a reduction of spending, just as long as the reduction doesn't affect them because after all, they are entitled to their entitlements. So just reduce someone else's part of this balloon and leave mine alone, please.

You know what happens when balloons get too big... they simply pop. And then there's nothing for anyone.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

more catching up

A truck broke the driver's side rear-view mirror on my car the other day. Now that I have switched positions at work, I'm in the building on the corner and we really don't have a parking lot so I park on the street.

People have told me not to park too close to the corner because there are a lot of big trucks in our ghetto industrial neighborhood that turn too sharply and sideswipe cars parked by the corner. That happened to one of our sales reps a few years ago and it was amazing how smashed-in his car was.

I normally get to work pretty early and there are lots of parking spaces. This particular day I was still early but there were more cars, including one in the spot where I usually park. So I parked across the street. As I parked, I was wondering if I was too close to the corner. I hesitated and thought, no, this should be okay because there was still enough space for a car to park in front of me. Then I stopped and thought about it again and once again thought it should be okay.

I got out of the car and locked the door and stopped still once more. Should I move it? Naw...

Later that morning one of the girls in the office called and told me that a truck hit my car. A big 18-wheeler was turning and, just as I had been warned happens, it hit my car while turning. Another girl had gone outside to stop the guy, who claimed he wasn't even aware he had hit anything (which, given the size of the truck, was believable).

When I got there, he was trying to put the cover of the mirror back on. I got all of his information and of course he didn't want me to report the accident. He claimed he would pay me but at the time he hardly had any money so he couldn't do anything right then. I said wait until I find out how much it is going to cost.

Turns out it was $184 to replace the mirror, because it has a motor mechanism and the whole assembly had to be replaced. I called and told him this. First thing he said was that he had a "friend" who could fix it and he wanted me to take the car over there. I said no, I wanted to money. So then he said he was in Georgia right now and he would stop by the office and give me the money when he came back (which is supposed to be next week).

Of course there wasn't much I could say so I told him fine, stop by the office and I would be there.

Now is he going to show up? Personally, I doubt it. At least the damage wasn't exorbitant but if he doesn't show up I am wondering what to do. I guess I will call and threaten to report it to the insurance company and the police as well, then see what he does.

Anyway, how is it that everyone who damages your car just happens to have a friend in the auto repair business? That is such a coincidence..

I remember long time ago a truck backed into my car (when it was parked at Tito's Tacos, no less). Their insurance company paid for a rental while mine was being repaired. One morning I was driving the rental to work when all of a sudden another car lunged right into me like it was the shark from Jaws. Some stupid girl who lived down the street had made a u-turn right into my car. She said her windows were all fogged up and she couldn't see where she was going.

And, it just happened that her boyfriend worked at an auto repair place and they could fix my car! Or rather, the rental car. Well, back then I was stupid so I actually gave her a chance but of course nothing ever happened so I had to report it to the insurance company.

Then every day after that when I drove down the block I had an unpleasant reminder by looking at her dented up car parked in front of her house.

Anyway, I'll let you know what happens with getting reimbursed for the mirror.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

catching up

Well gee, it's been 20 days since my last post. I've been busy plus haven't felt much like writing but I'll bring you up to speed on what's going on.

First, it has been about three years since my last colonoscopy so today (Friday) I had another one. Thankfully, all turned out well. I know a lot of people hesitate to get one because just the thought of it is so unpleasant but I can't emphasize enough how important it is that if you are of the age or condition where you should be having the procedure done, then don't put it off.

The actual procedure itself is not bad at all, mainly because they knock you out. I remember being wheeled on the gurney into the operating room, where they told me to lie on my side. Then they injected something into the IV and I remember asking if that was the sedative. Then the next thing I remember is waking up back in the gurney, back in the waiting room. No muss, no fuss, and good news that they didn't detect anything.

Of course the night before is when the muss and fuss take place, having to drink that nasty colyte solution. Yuk... I had a 4 liter bottle of which I had to drink 3 of them that night and the remaining liter the morning of. I made the mistake of adding the lemon flavor packet which I think made it taste even worse.

The procedure was Friday, and on Thursday I was limited to consuming only clear liquids. I was sooo hungry (well, at least until Thursday evening when drinking all that solution filled me up... even though it didn't stay very long). Lunch on Friday tasted sooo good.

Thanks be to God all turned out well today. More catching up tomorrow..

Sunday, August 7, 2011

saturation

I did my usual trek to Costo this morning. It wasn't very crowded (i.e., it was pleasant) and I ended up buying some clothes. I've been on a clothing kick lately; I will go for a long stretch of time not buying anything, then all of a sudden have a short burst of buying the next batch to last for the next long stretch. I said I've been wearing the same things for a long time and Julie said everything I wear looks the same so one notices anyway, haha..

The thing about buying clothes from Costco is trying to find the right size is not easy because everything is set out in big stacks on the table. So if you are looking for a particular size and the item is not folded in a way that makes it conducive to seeing the size right away, it can be a maddening search, compounded by how there is no rhyme or reason to how the sizes are organized (they simply aren't). On top of that, sometimes it seems all they have are XL sizes. Whole stacks of nothing but XL sizes. Why don't they buy a decent mix, or is that what society is like now - nearly everyone is XL?

Still, it is worth rummaging. Costo doesn't have the greatest selection but what they do have is at prices that are at or lower than other store's "sale" prices.

On the way home we ran into a traffic jam on the freeway. By the time it cleared up there was no clue as to what caused it in the first place.

I notice that there is just more and more traffic - it gets worse and worse. It used to be that weekends were relatively light but such is no longer the case. At times they are worse because during the week you have people who want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible so they waste on time, but the weekends have time-wasters. And all it takes is one time-waster to slow down an entire freeway.

Anyway, we went to a few places today and there was plenty of traffic everywhere. Some was downright jammed up just like what we encountered on the way back from Costco.

I think we have reached a state of saturation.

We have overloaded the capabilities of our infrastructure.

Some key words/phrases that came to mind when thinking about just how crowded things are here in So Cal were: saturation; Peter Principle; and house of cards. We have reached a saturation level, which is particularly frightening considering the Peter Principle is at play, and society is pretty much like a house of cards..

Does it do much good pondering global things like that? Probably not.. just trying to find the right size clothing at Costco is enough to worry about.

Friday, August 5, 2011

salt bloat

I don't understand why everything has to have so much salt in it. There's an amazing amount of salt in nearly every food item on the shelf at the store. Seemingly healthy things (such as veggie burgers) are loaded with salt - I guess to compensate for the unmeaty taste? Or to make it taste like a salty hamburger?

Here's an article from Men's Health/Eat This Not That listing the 30 saltiest menu items in America. It starts with #30 which itself has a lot of sodium, but the amount increases as it progresses up to #1 and the top item has so much sodium all you can do is laugh in horror.

To view the article, click here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

hummingbird

Today's title is literal. My coworker's daughter-in-law (well, ex daughter in law but she lives with her.. go figure) found a baby hummingbird in their backyard that was unable to fly.

Since there's no one at the house to take care of it, my coworker has been bringing it to work every day, in a shoe box. Below are some pictures of it - it's sitting on top of a rumpled plaid blanket or scarf and is about 2" tall. It's fed sugar water from a thin straw, which you can see in the last picture.

The person in the office next to her doesn't like it at all because birds terrify her. Even this little hummingbird.. Excuse the blurry pictures. That little red dot at the tip of the beak is a drop of dried-up sugar water, and not part of the beak.




That reminded me of this song from the good ol' days:



Oh, and a note about yesterday's post about folks who use IE having a lower IQ - it was a fraud. No such study was made. Among browsers, though, I'd say that IE has the lowest IQ.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

which browser are you using?

After yesterday's lengthy rant (which, now that I am writing from hindsight and see that surprise surprise, they averted a default - oh aren't our politicians so wonderful), here's something much shorter and it is also something to think about.

What browser are you using to view this page? Take a look at the findings of a study about what your IQ may be relative to users of other brands - click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

deflection

I am actually writing this on the weekend since that's when I have the most time to write so as of this moment the budget crisis has still not been resolved and the August 2nd deadline (the date on which this blog post is set to run) is still approaching.

All I can say is I am disgusted. I truly hope that a settlement can't be reached and we default, rather than to do the same old tired thing of deciding to spend more and more money that we don't have. The more money you give to these politicians, the more they will spend. They won't go back and cover what is already owed, they'll spend it on new things and then come back a year later asking to once again raise the ceiling. THEY NEVER LEARN BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO. The only thing they care about is getting enough votes to be reelected.

Here is one of my favorite movie scenes, and it always comes to mind during times like these. If you want to see some superb acting, watch it. But I have to say - his pleas are misdirected and I will tell you why below.



Does it really make any difference to complain to your politician? Maybe, if it isn't anything very important. The main criteria your representative uses is does it keep him or her in office. They could care less about you or the country or our moral fiber or whatever; all they care about is themselves and the best way to take care of themselves is to remain in office so they can continue sponging off of our tax dollars while they live on easy street.

Complaining to our government leaders is like complaining to the fox that your chickens are being stolen and eaten.

But they want you to think that your voice matters, and that it is heard. They want to deflect your anger elsewhere, to make you think that they are trying their best but they are battling heavy villains who make things tough. It takes the spotlight off of them.

For example - we complain about the bailout and how these loser companies took all this money and squandered it, paying out big bonuses when really, they should have gone out of business. These companies are evil, right?

Well, it is human nature. People will get away with whatever they are able to get away with. Rather than focusing our attention on these companies who are like kids who get a lavish, way overdone Christmas present, we should be focusing on the rats who gave them the money in the first place. That's where our attention should be, but of course our government representatives don't want that. They want to deflect the attention elsewhere.

The stuff Howard Beale complains about in the movie Network - that stuff is still endemic today, even more so. But is complaining to your representative going to help? Sure, he or she will go through the motions because after all, they want your vote in the next election. But do they really care about eradicating stuff like that? NO THEY DON'T. Because if they did, then that would mean you might actually focus on what they are doing and see how worthless they are. So having crime and all the other ills in this country actually helps them keep their jobs, as long as they don't let it go beyond an "acceptable" level.

What is the definition of an "acceptable" level? A level that still enables them to get reelected. The perfect balance is when they are able to keep trouble at a high enough level of urgency that you, the stupid voter, think that they can help so you vote for them. Along the way, some politicians have failed because they let the troubles get too far out of hand and people then believed the lies from the candidate who bumped the incumbent out of office but as we all learn, it is just like the line from the Who's song: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

We are just powerless peons. Anyone who tells you otherwise, or who believes otherwise, is misguided. The objective for anyone to change things is not to make the world better for the sake of being better, but to personally benefit from these changes and gain membership in the "club" who controls things. If along the way the world just happens to get better, then that's merely a side effect.

This video from George Carlin says it very well. I do not like profanity and don't like posting it, but he said it so well that I am making an exception because the profanity also adds to the accuracy of what he is saying. So just a warning, the video does contain profanity.. but it is relevant.



Monday, August 1, 2011

life is a box of chocolates

The other day I watched Forrest Gump again. I've seen it many times but never get tired of it - it's one of my favorite movies. I just love the whole thing.

The book is quite different from the movie and both are good in their own way. In the book, Forrest never says the famous line, "Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get." Nor does he say, "Stupid is as stupid does" (which makes no sense if you think about it).

But that first quote is indeed very true - that's just what life is like. Years ago did we ever imagine our life to be like it actually has turned out?

Anyway, here are more quotes from that movie. So many memorable lines.. Like I said, I just love it. To me it's the complete movie - they did everything just right.

Speaking of movies, I see that finally, Star Wars is being released on Blu Ray. Come September, all six of them will be available. I originally preordered the whole set but now they are offering subsets - either the original three or the subsequent prequel three. I canceled my first order and ordered just the original three. Why waste money on the 2nd trio? I thought George should have quit while he was ahead. Well I guess he made tons of money, but that second set of movies does nothing for me. At least I saved some money by being able to order just the part I want. Oddly enough, the entire set costs more than buying the first and second trio separately. Go figure. Maybe the entire set contains more special features that most people don't watch.

Oh, and another set of movies is due for release soon - Jurassic Park on Blu Ray. As far as I can tell, however, you have to purchase the trilogy. You can't just buy a specific movie. I said forget it.. the first movie was good but the other two are downright losers. I hate it when you are forced to buy the junk with the good but I figure that's probably the only way the producers can sell the 2nd and 3rd movies in the trilogy. If the first movie is released by itself, then I'll buy it.