Sunday, December 30, 2012

Even more truth in advertising




 

In my last post, I wrote about a terribly misleading postcard. While doing some research about truth in advertising, I came across some interesting examples.
 
They needed to clarify this because people were walking into this Iowa store hoping to catch a train to Grand Central Station.

 
 
At last, no more embarrassing questions to the store workers asking if they carry the XXXL Depends adult diapers.

 
 
I called this number and told them they had won a million dollars from the king of some nation they’d never heard of. All I needed was their credit card number for a “transaction fee.”
 

 
Yes, that’s the reason a lot of men go to the gym—to see ugly women.

 
 
 
Do the watches tell time, or do you have to look at them?
 
 
 
I was once told the same thing by two muggers.
 

 
Figures, I had them come to my house at 11:00 last Monday.
 
 
 
Little known fact: "Dutch's" was the original name of Walmart.
 
 
 
 
This is what I’m looking for in a lawyer.
 
 
 
 
Strangely enough, this was posted outside a hardware store.
 
 
 

 
Part of a less-than-successful chain owned by the brothers “Yu,” “Soon” and “Your Mom is.”
 
 
 
Amen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Truth in advertising?

Times are tough.

Everyone is looking for a bargain, while at the same time, companies are fighting over consumer’s limited funds.

I’m constantly receiving letters and emails trying to convince to me buy something I didn’t know I needed.

And then there are companies who go the extra mile—they offer contests, give-a-ways and promotions. Heck, I’m all for that. In fact I’ve done a number of promotions with my books to help spread the word. As long as it is a legitimate deal, I’m all for it.

Sadly, often that isn’t the case. A while ago, I received the following postcard in the mail:

I knew I was going to be flying out to Utah in 2013 for the LDStorymakers conference, so I was curious. So, I flipped over the postcard to look at the “fine print.” A few things caught my attention right away.

First, was the word “most” and “Major” in front of the word “Airports.” Even though I live fairly close to the capital of North Carolina, the airport wasn’t considered “Major” enough. Where were the closest airports to me? Washington D. C. or Atlanta—each roughly 6 hours away.

Oh, and the hotel? They were roughly an hour away from the airports—and you had to pay for your own transportation to the hotel.

But goofiest of all, and the biggest warning sign was the small print in the corner:
It kind of bends the rules of “truth in advertising”, doesn’t it?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Whistle while you work

“Of course it’s no fun, that’s why is it called work!” These are words I’ve been told, and I have to admit that I’ve told employees and my children, on various occasions.

Somehow, somewhere, someone decided that doing something important is called “work.” This imaginary someone also decided that if you enjoy doing something, it isn’t really work. And if an action isn’t work, then it’s “play.” Therefore “play” isn’t important.

Logically, that makes sense, if you believe in the first assumption.

Which I don’t.

Who is to say that you can’t enjoy doing something important? To me, there are two over-generalized categories of an important action: doing something for yourself and doing something for others.

Granted, the lines between the two are blurry, but hang with me for a moment. I consider doing something important for yourself is an action that will bring you income or the means to support your ability to live. Whether you grow and harvest your own food, or buy it from someone else, you still need to eat. That’s important.

Doing something important for others includes providing the means to live either through your actions of doing something important for yourself (like earning more money than you need and giving it to others) or performing actions to help others for what is important in their lives—also known as service.

I, personally, have found immense enjoyment from doing service. I think if you ask most people who volunteer their time to help others, you’ll hear them say the same thing: “It’s not easy, but it’s very rewarding.” I dare say that those who truly enjoy it, don’t get that enjoyment only after the service is done—they experience it while serving.

Which brings me back to my main point. I believe there are those who feel like their employment has to be a miserable experience because after all, it’s work. Yet once in a while, you find someone who truly loves what they do for a living.
 
 
People call them “lucky.” I call them people who weren’t willing to accept that work couldn’t be enjoyable and therefore found something that they enjoyed doing which also allowed them to make a living—even if that job wasn’t understood by others or frowned upon the “responsible” people in the world who have bought into the lie that work can’t be fun.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Claiming victory

I believe every author has that moment of “What am I doing? Is what I’m writing any good?” And then if you can get beyond the quality of the work, there is the question of “Does anyone even read this?” I’ve heard it described as playing a solo in front of an empty music hall.

After all, where do authors get feedback? Looking at review sites like Goodreads and Amazon have a catch 22 built in to them. For me, an excellent review can make me feel like I’m on the top of the world. A bad review (and I’ve gotten a few) can make me go into one of those funks as noted in the first paragraph.

Another great analogy I heard from another author is that reviews are like a drug. Once you start seeking them out for the “high” they give, you need to keep getting those great reviews to feel good about being a writer.

Some authors refuse to look at their reviews for those very reasons. I’ve heard of authors that have other people (a spouse, a friend, a family member) look at the reviews and then share only the good ones.

And then there is the financial aspect of being an author. I read somewhere that 99% of the books published sell less than 100 copies. Fact is, a very small percentage of authors make any sort of tangible money from their work.

So, why, oh why, should an author continue to write?

I can only speak for myself, but this is what I’ve come up with: Writing is something I love. It’s a magical experience to discover ideas as I write. It’s a way I can express the creative nature burning inside of me.

There’s more. I have gotten quite a number of reviews, personal emails and even face-to-face comments stating how I was able to connect with the reader—how my work touched them on an emotional level.

As I get older, I realize I most likely have few years ahead of me on the earth than behind me. The books and short stories I’ve written will live on long after I pass away—in a sense, it’s part of my mark I left on this earth.

So, when someone says to me, “You’ve been doing this writing thing for a while now and you’re not rich or a New York Times bestseller—sorry it didn’t work out for you.” Who says it hasn’t?

I believe authors can’t truly know the range or scope of how their books have made an impression on people. It can’t be tracked by sales—I’ve read a number of books several times I’ve bought only once. My wife lends out books to friends that they have enjoyed.

At what point should an author give up? One of my favorite authors, Greg Keyes, had written seven books before I’d discovered him. I hadn’t heard of the Harry Potter books until the fourth one was released. Stephanie Meyer had written five books before I’d heard of the Twilight series. I could go on and on. I fear too many authors give up because their first book (or first few books) weren’t smashing successes in the public’s opinion.

If you love something, truly love it, don’t give up on it. Don’t let others determine if you can claim victory or not.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

BZZZZ! Wrong answer!

“But that’s hard!” the student told me. He looked like I’d just asked him to write a four hundred page essay on the social-political ramifications of introducing the sandwich meat “Spam” to third world countries.

But that wasn’t the assignment.
 
What was it?

I assigned the students to read another student’s short story and find three things they liked about it—and why. The one thing they could not do is to point out anything they didn’t like, thought could be better, or was “wrong.”

Why would I give such an assignment? Simple. I discovered that when asking students to critique their peers’ work that these critiques were filled primarily with pointing out errors like spelling, grammar, and plot issues. What were sorely missing were positive comments.

To the student that complained the assignment was “hard”, I responded, “Why do you think it’s hard?”

He thought about it a moment and responded, “Maybe because the majority of the feedback we get from teachers is what we got wrong on a test, and not what we got right.”

This leads me to wonder, just what are we teaching our students and our children when the main focus of our feedback is what they are doing wrong?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anybody want a peanut?

"Can contemporary poetry still rhyme?"

I am currently working on my Master's degree in Creative Writing, and this was the question asked in one of my classes.

I'll openly admit poetry is not my strong suit. Most of the time I don't get it. So, you can imagine how much fun it is for me to try to decipher other poems--especially "contemporary" poetry. How do I answer the original question posted above?
 
Here is my answer:

To rhyme or not to rhyme? That’s a question, but is it the question? If asked to make up a poem when I was a child, it would certainly rhyme. After all, Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham rhymed. So did Jack and Jill. But of course, as we grow up, we learn that such things are juvenile, and aren’t serious enough for serious poets. After all, isn’t a good poem one that seems to break all the rules—with the number one rule being: a poem shall rhyme!  

W. D. Snodgrass’s poem A Locked House rhymes. Or does it? Yes, the poem is set up in the ab ab format with each a rhyming with each b. Yet, the lines vary in length and often the rhyming word is not at the end of the sentence.

Example:    

Barns, house, furniture    
We two are stronger than we were    
Apart; we’ve grown Together.
Everything we own    
Can burn… (242-243)

Clearly this is considered a contemporary poem. How do I know? Because it comes from a book called The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry. It rhymes, but almost in a mocking sort of way. It’s as if the poet is saying, “See! I can write a contemporary poem that rhymes.”

But, from my experience, rhyming seems to be the exception, and not the rule. When looking for a contemporary poem that rhymes, at first, I came across ten that didn’t. Going back now, it took me seven more tries to find one that rhymed.

Is it okay to rhyme? Why, yes, I believe it is. Rhyming can set the tone of a poem. It can be playful. It can be a driving force. It can be a device that helps the poet convey their message. Rhyming can be magical. Tell any fan of The Princess Bride, “No more rhymes now, I mean it!” and I’ll bet you the mortgage they will reply, “Anybody want a peanut?”

And now I have to wonder. If at one time poets seemed to universally agree that to make good poetry they needed to break the rules—and one of the rules now is not to rhyme—does that mean new, contemporary poets should rhyme?

Works Cited

Snodgrass, W. D. "A Locked House". A Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry. Ed. McClatchy, J. D. Vintage Books, 2003. 242-243. Print.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Port-A-Potty is set on fire!

 
It’s here! My new anthology, The Night the Port-A-Potty Burned Down and Other Stories is now available in both print and ebook formats!

The book includes 80 (that’s right 80!) short stories, insights and observations.

Some of them are humorous.

Some of them are thought provoking.

Some are downright strange.

I’m so sure you’ll like the book, it comes it with a double your money back guarantee—as described in the last entry.

Click here to order the print version.

Click here to order the ebook version.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Like books? Thank an author.

An author friend of mine, who I think is an amazing writer, recently stated that sometimes he felt like he was performing inside an empty music hall. Many other authors responded that they felt the same way at one time or another.

The fact is that being an author is a fairly lonely process. Hours upon hours are spent imagining, writing, re-writing, editing, and then proofing their work before they send it off into the world.

There are outlets for authors to get feedback, like Goodreads, Amazon and when the author does events like signings and such—yet I believe those avenues aren’t an accurate representation of what people in general think about a particular book.

I’ll admit that at times I’ve wondered, “Is anyone even reading my work? Would anyone care if I never published anything ever again?” And then there are those magical moments that make it all worth it.

I was recently at a school and I introduced myself. A student raised his hand and asked, “Did you write The Hidden Sun?” I answered that I had—wondering how he’d heard of it. He then said, “I loved that book! When’s the next one coming out?” When I told him it was already out—and had been since May, he freaked. “Really? No way! I soooo need that book!”

When I got a chance to ask him later about where he’d heard about The Hidden Sun, he said, “My cousin read it and told us it was really good. I’ve told my friends. They are going to be excited to learn the next one is out!”

So, yes, this is somewhat self-serving, but if you’ve enjoyed a book—let the author know somehow—like visiting their website and leaving a note, or posting a nice review on one of the many book sites out there.

A little positive feedback given to an author goes a long way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Night the Port-A-Potty Burned Down and Other Stories

Here is the cover for my next published work! If all goes according to plan (when does that ever happen?) this will be available on December 1st. More details to follow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful for Books Giveaway


Whoo hoo! Another give-a-way!

I’ll be giving away the winner’s choice of one of the following:

(Click on the link to find out more information about the books)


 
 
 
I have a short story in this anthology
 

The book will be personalized and autographed by yours truly.

To enter, simply put your email information in the comment section below.

Oh, and while you’re at it, please “follow” this blog. I contribute to it regularly with humorous, thought provoking and / or emotional posts.

Good luck on the contest!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happiness Survey

On the eve of this election, let’s play a game.

You are the mayor of Anytown, USA. The US government wants to know how people really feel. To do so, it asks people to take a voluntary, anonymous survey.

This survey would consist of many types of questions like, “Do you enjoy life in the USA?” “Do you feel that your opinion matters?” “Are you given the resources and training you need to be successful?” “Are you able to do what you do best every day?” and so on.

The surveys would be administered at the local level—each mayor would be responsible to give out the surveys and “invite” people to take it—remember, it’s voluntary, and anonymous.

Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? After all, how can the government know what to fix if we don’t tell them?

But then things start to turn strange. The governors start to compete to see which state has the highest percentage of citizens take the voluntary survey. Because they want to look good to the federal government, the governors put pressure on the mayors to “strongly encourage” their residents to do the survey.

Although the survey is anonymous, in order to track results each mayor is told how many (but not specifically who) of the people in their town haven’t taken the survey. As mayor, you know of several people who have told you that they don’t believe the survey is truly anonymous, so they don’t want to take it. They point out that because you, as the mayor, know people haven’t taken they survey proves that it’s not truly anonymous.

Finally, the time to take the survey ends. The results are tabulated, and then broken down to the local level. As mayor, you are given the results for your town, and how it compares to the rest of the nation.

And what does the US government then do with the information? It tells the mayors to “make an 'action plan' to fix any issues that their citizens scored low on.”

Does this seem as silly to you as it does to me? So, why did I make this up?

Confession time: this is actually quite a common way corporations handle employee feedback.

The US government is the corporation, the governors are the district or regional managers and the mayors are the department managers.

I’ve been the “mayor” in this scenario for three different companies. I thought it was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve been a part of.

When I raised my concerns about this process, I was told, “It’s your job as a manager to make your employees ‘buy in’ to whatever the company decides.” That would include cutting paid time off, reduced or eliminated raises and higher demands on productivity without an increase in resources.

After all, if the employees aren’t happy, it certainly can’t be the fault of the corporation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Coffin



I was asked to be part of a "spooky" author panel this year. I read the following short story:






 

The Coffin

 

Note: This is a retelling of a classic Halloween story.

           

I was looking forward to the peace and quiet. It had been three days since my wife and kids had left to visit her parents. We had three daughters, all under the age of four, so moments when a baby wasn’t crying, screaming, or banging on something were rare.

The first two nights were wonderful. I came home with fast food, turned on some loud music, and sang at the top of my lungs without fear of waking up whatever child was asleep at the moment.

The third night, however, was something completely different. It was late October in New England. There were a few leaves that still clung onto the trees for dear life, but most had given in to peer pressure.

I was sitting in our living room, watching TV and relaxing after a long day at work. A storm had rumbled in during the day and covered the sky. Although it wasn’t raining, wind was blowing steadily, and the heavens were lit now and again with streaks of lightning followed by growling thunder.

The TV show was about to end when the power went out. No power meant no TV, no computer, no internet … nothing. I remembered thinking, What had people possibly done at night before electricity? I sat there for a moment debating my next move. I decided to light a candle and read—even though flickering light gave me headaches.

I tried to remember where my wife kept the candles and matches when there was a thump on the front porch.

It sounded like something heavy landed on the porch. I thought it was probably a branch that had broken off in the storm. I was about to get out of my chair to investigate when there was a loud bang against the front door.

I froze in place, the hair on the back of my neck bristling. That couldn’t have been a branch. Someone, or some THING, had hit the door. I sat there, hands gripping the armrests and listened.

There were no other sounds aside from the howling wind. And to think, I had been looking forward to a quiet night.

Nothing happened for several moments aside from the occasional flashes of lightning. It took me a moment to realize that even though I was seeing the lightning, the thunder had stopped, though the storm had increased in its fury.

Finally, I gathered my courage. I decided I was not going to let things that went “bump” in the night get the best of me. I took a deep breath and stood.

At that very moment, the front door burst open with such force that it ripped off its hinges. In the doorway, silhouetted by the lightning, was a coffin. It was deep black in color—so dark, in fact, it seemed to swallow the light around it.

I tried to will my feet to move, but they wouldn’t. I tried to look away, but my eyes stayed locked on the coffin. I tried to scream, but the sound wouldn’t come.

Slowly, the coffin tilted up, as if someone was standing it on edge. I couldn’t move. It continued to rise until it stood up completely.

Thunder sounded so powerfully that I thought the windows would break. It was as if all the thunder for the last few minutes had been stored up and released at once. At that same moment, the coffin lid swung open. It was empty.

For the briefest of moments, I was relieved. Part of my fear came from what could be in the coffin. That relief soon vanished as the coffin slowly, purposefully, moved toward me.

Whether it was the coffin moving, or the thunder sounding, I’m not sure, but I was able to get my body to move. I ran to the closest room in the house—our bathroom. I locked the door and backed up into the tub, the only window to the room at my back.

I could hear the coffin scraping along the floor as it continued to approach. I realized that coming to the bathroom left me few options. The window was too small for me to fit through. There was nowhere I could go.

My mind raced. What could I do? What was the old saying? Fight or flight. I had tried fleeing and that hadn’t worked. I was left with the only other option. I looked around the bathroom, catching glimpses of objects here and there when the lightning briefly lit the room. I needed something heavy to use.

There! On the countertop was a large bottle of Robitussin. I took one step out of the bathtub and grabbed it. There was a loud bang at the bathroom door, but it stayed closed.

I retreated back to the tub, wielding my new weapon as if it was Excalibur.

Again, the lightning came, but no thunder. I stared at the door. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.

Nothing happened for a long, drawn-out moment. I thought, Maybe it went away. Maybe it could sense I was going to defend myself.

The bathroom door crashed open and there was the coffin, the lid still open. It seemed to pause for a moment, and then again it started to move toward me.

With all my strength, I threw the bottle of Robitussin. The coffin stopped.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scare the Hell out of you

I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m a sucker for when people try to sell me something at my door.

I’ve had sales jobs, and generally hated them, and so I often buy whatever is being sold out of pity for the person, more than a desire for the product. Granted, Girl Scout Cookies and Boy Scout Popcorn are pretty darn yummy.

On a recent trip, we had pulled off at a McDonald’s to use the restroom and get a quick bite. While in the parking lot, a young man knocked on our driver’s side window. I thought this was odd, but he didn’t look scary so I rolled down my window and asked him what he wanted.

“I’m selling Krispy Kreme donuts for my church. Would you like to buy some?”

My wife was still in the restaurant, so she couldn’t save me from myself. I agreed to buy some. After all, they were Krispy Kreme donuts!

I paid the young man and he thanked me. He walked back to a minivan that was parked a few spaces away from us. I noticed on the back of his van there was a big sticker—several times bigger than a bumper sticker. It said something along the lines of “Want to go to Hell? Keep doing what you’re doing.” The words were surrounded by flames.

It was weird, but I didn’t give it much thought until later when we opened the box of donuts. Inside of it was a little booklet stapled to the box. This is what the cover looked like:

 
My wife and I looked at each other like, “What in the world?”

She put it aside and I told her I wanted to look at it when we got to our destination—if for no other reason than morbid curiosity.

When I was able to glance over it, the booklet was filled with disturbing cartoon-like images, all of them warning about the power of Lucifer. Here’s an example:

Those who know me, know that I have certain beliefs about spiritual matters that I hold sacred. I don’t force on other people, though I’m happy to share with those that ask. I don’t try to convince anyone to my point-of-view. It doesn’t work. Yet when I do get to share my beliefs, I try to do so in a positive manner.

I don’t believe scare tactics, like those found in the booklet we were given, are effective. Why? I believe that people are influenced by what they focus on.

In the 2012 presidential campaign, I’ve seen time and again how politicians (and their supporters) from all viewpoints spend their energy focusing on the negative aspects of their opponents. Often it turns into name calling.

Many Facebook postings are filled with “facts” that point out the flaws of the “other guy.”

All this negativity isn’t a good thing. If all you focus on is the negative, then you’ll become negative.

Some may argue that many of my blogs are negative—meaning I’m pointing out something that is “off” in the world. But, my goal is to give a different perspective on various topics, hopefully a rational one.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Non-medical vaccinations

Before heading to Mexico to live for two years, I was given several shots. One of them felt like peanut butter being pumped into my hindquarters—chunky, not smooth. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, but as I understand it, vaccinations are basically injecting a person with a small amount of whatever disease you’re trying to protect them from.

When I learned about that, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. Why would you expose someone to a disease you don’t want them to get?

I remember being told that a small amount won’t cause you to get the disease, but instead, it will allow your body to learn how to fight the disease if it encounters it in a big way.

In the LDS church, there is a saying that members should be “in the world, but not of the world.” What does that mean? Well, my take on it is this: members need to exist in society, but should live to a higher standard than society. I think it’s a great idea. Just as there is peer pressure to do bad things, there can also be those who are an example of making good choices.

And here is where I may upset a few people—which won’t be the first time and I doubt will be the last. Sometimes I feel that there are those, and not only of the LDS faith, who focus too much on only part of the phrase “in the world, but not of the world”—that being the latter half.

As a parent of four daughters, three of them teenagers, I understand the desire to keep children out of harm’s way. Yet, if I shelter them too much, I’m doing a different type of harm: they won’t know how to deal with worldly issues if they aren’t exposed to them.

My vaccine metaphor is imperfect. I do not advocate that any parent should give kids drugs, or hand them a magazine of pornography, or swear at them so their children can learn the “bad words.”

But neither do I suggest that parents should never talk to their children about the vices of the world for fear that the children may become curious enough to seek them out.

What I’ve seen firsthand are young adults who leave their parents’ home and cannot interact with people in the “real world.” They’ve never had any exposure to what is out there, “in the world,” and when they are faced with it, they haven’t learned how to deal with it.

And if people can’t interaction with the world, how can that be a positive influence on it?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What else was I supposed to do?

A middle grade student was sent to in school suspension. He’d chased a girl around the lunchroom and was caught. The teacher asked him, “Why were you chasing the girl?”

The young man said, “I was eating my lunch and minding my own business. I wasn’t bothering anyone. She came up to me and hit me in the neck with an apple. So, I got up and chased her.”

The teacher responded, “Are you supposed to run around the lunchroom?”

Exasperated, the student explained again, “She hit me in the neck with an apple. What else was I supposed to do?”

“You didn’t answer my question. Are you supposed to chase girls around the lunchroom? For any reason?”

The boy replied by slowly pronouncing each word: “She   hit me   in   the   neck   with   an   apple.   What   else   was   I   supposed   to   do?”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Some fun with 21

Yesterday was October 11, 2012—also abbreviated as 10/11/12. That won’t happen again for another hundred years.

I heard people try to attach some cosmic significance to the date. Was the world going to end? Would this be the day I won the lottery? Will I meet that someone special?

As far as I can tell, the world didn’t end. Someone may have won the lottery. Someone else probably met that person they will spend the rest of their life with. But I don’t think it had anything to do with the date being in sequential order when abbreviated.

However, for those who like to look for significance in such things, I thought I’d have some fun with today’s date: October 12, 2012—or 10/12/12.

What’s special about today? It’s my 21st anniversary.

That’s right, 21 years ago I married the woman of my dreams—and we’re still happily married to this day.

On to the finding significance!

Today is the 12th, which is 21 backwards!

If you add 10 + 12 + 12 and then divide by 1.6190476 you get 21! (.6190476 = 13/21 and 13 is 12 + 1!)

21 divided by 7 (7 = 1 + 0 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2) is 3. And 1 + 2 = 3! (Also 2 + 1 = 3!)

I was 22 when I got married. That’s 21 - 1.

My wife was 19 when we got married. 19 + 2 = 21!

Each month of the year has at least 21 days!

In the card game blackjack, the object is to get as close to 21 as possible. Today, it’s cold, so I’ll be wearing my black jack(et)!

We’re living in the 21st century!

The number of letters in the Italian Alphabet? 21! And my wife and I like Pizza.

Lastly: There are 6 people in our family—me, my wife and my four daughters. When you add 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 you get 21!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bricks

For my mom’s 70th birthday, we had a family reunion at the outer banks of North Carolina.

We visited several places and took a lot of pictures.

At one of these places, I sat on some weather-worn steps and stared at the cobblestone walkway. I noticed something and my storyteller mind formulated it into pictures and words.

I took some photographs and added text to them.

This is the result.
 
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The new normal?

Warning! This post may offend some people!

A few years ago, I was living in Connecticut. A certain man of the LDS (Mormon) faith was making a run at the White House. A liberal paper in Connecticut ran a scathing article about this man—about how his LDS beliefs were weird and out of touch with the common person in America.

They even provided proof: a copy of a declaration published by the LDS church that was so absurd that any reasonable human being could see how it posed a threat to common sense.

That document? The Family:A Proclamation to the World.

In this document, it stated clearly that the LDS church believed “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” and “mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

How dare they be so bold!

Never mind the parts that say, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” or “husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.”

The LDS church should be ashamed because it had made a stand about what it believed—and how close minded of them to think differently than others.

And then, in 2012, a TV show premiered on the NBC network called “The New Normal.” What is it about? Here are some quotes from the NBC website about the show: “It’s 2012 and anything goes” and “Bryan and David are a Los Angeles couple, and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed, loving partnership, there is one thing that this couple is missing: a baby.” What do Bryan and David do? They hire a woman to have their baby.

And this is clearly “the new normal.” Therefore, if you aren’t like them, you’re abnormal, right?

The creators of the show should be applauded being brave enough to state their beliefs—right? How open minded they must be to think differently than others—right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Manly

I’ve been teased about having four daughters and no sons. I don’t mind. I don’t have to deal with the rough and tumble of boys tearing my house apart. Granted, my girls have eardrum shattering screams, but I’ll take it.

I’ll admit part of me is relieved that I don’t have sons. I’m an Eagle Scout, mostly because of a supportive mom and a great scoutmaster. I don’t like camping. Or hunting. Or fishing. Not having any sons means I don’t feel obligated to do any of those manly things.

What do I like to do? Well, you’re reading it.

My daughter Amy reminded me of a story when she was in first grade. It was a Daddy-Daughter day at school. The students had written things about their dads that they would read in front of the class.

One boy wrote something along the lines of, “My dad likes to wrestle gorillas.” Another wrote, “My dad is strong. He can cut down trees with his bare hands.” Yet another said, “My dad could beat up your dad.”

When my adorable, little red-headed daughter got up to read, I was curious what she would say. She wrote, “My dad is sweet and kind. He likes to give me hugs and kisses and play dolls with me.”

The parents laughed—and so did I.

Never in my life had I felt so manly.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My computer won’t let me

There are numerous books and movies that use the premise that man creates something in an effort to make his life easier. After a time, the creation turns against who created it.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several movies where that creation is a computer in one form or another: Tron, The Matrix, Blade Runner, WarGames, The Terminator and I, Robot.

The idea seems pretty farfetched, doesn’t it? After all, with all these movies warning us about the dangers, we wouldn’t let that happen in real life—would we?

I had scheduled an appointment for a technician from Time Warner to come replace our modem—our internet phone was having issues. The tech tried to call us to confirm the appointment, but couldn’t get through (Duh! We were having phone issues!) so he canceled the appointment.

When I called Time Warner (from my cell) because the tech didn’t show, they told me what happened. It was still early in the day, so I told them I needed to have someone come out that same day. They told me the next available appointment was the following day.

I escalated the call to his supervisor and then his supervisor. I got the same response: “I can’t get a tech out to you today, because all our appointments are scheduled through our computer system, and it won’t let me.”

The computer won’t let him? What?

When I did get a tech to show up (the following day), I told him the story. He shook his head in disbelief. “That’s ridiculous,” he said, “all they needed to do was call my cell and I would have been right over. I was in the area yesterday.”