Archive for April, 2009

Mailbox Hoodlums

Or is the plural of hoodlum hoodla?

Anyway, Saturday morning, when I left for the store, I didn’t notice anything wrong at the end of the driveway. Slightly later Saturday morning, when I returned from the store, I noticed right away that the mailbox was missing.

It was a white mailbox, so it was rather noticeable. I doubt that it was there when I left that morning, because it is across the road from the end of the driveway. As you drive down our 300-foot-long driveway, you are facing the mailbox the entire time.

But just before I turned back onto our driveway, I noticed it was conspicuously missing. I got out of the minivan and looked around. I expected to see it damaged, lying nearby. But there was no sign of it anywhere.

People have hit the mailbox before and broken it. Our driveway is the first one off a major road, so people who missed something often use our driveway to turn around. (Because of that, whenever I miss my turn and need to turn around, I use the second or third driveway, not the first.) When those people hit the mailbox, at least they leave it alone – either on the ground next to the mailbox post or dangling from it.

Since there was no sign of the mailbox, and since it was only an hour or two until the mail was supposed to arrive, I figured I needed to put a replacement mailbox up immediately.

All you thrower-awayers out there, especially those who have tried to convince me that I shouldn’t save everything: take note. I did not need to go buy a new mailbox because I still had my old one in the garage. I had replaced the mailbox a few years ago because the number stickers were peeling and the paint was wearing away. When I installed the new mailbox, I did not throw away the old one, even though there was ostensibly no use for it any more. I just put it in my garage because it was still functional. And when I had need for a mailbox, it was right there for me.

This incident has furthered my resolve that yes, I really do need to save that, whatever that may be that I feel like saving. If anyone asks me why I am saving something, my answer will be that I might need it someday. And you never know when that will be (although it usually works out to be just after you throw it away).

I re-installed the old mailbox and went back inside the house to do other things. Later that day, I glanced down the driveway and noticed something white at the end of our driveway. Someone had found our mailbox and placed it on our yard. Or maybe the hooligan who took it had a change of heart and returned it. It was rather undamaged for being torn or knocked from the post. The plastic newspaper box that was still on its post (right next to the mailbox post) was severely bent, so I know that some traumatic event happened there.

Now I am back to two functioning mailboxes. I have the old mailbox collecting mail and the newer, nicer mailbox collecting dust. Maybe I’ll wait for something to happen to the old mailbox and switch them then.

But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner.

Exodus 22:12

2009 NFL Draft Analysis

I see that some people are complaining that the Oakland Raiders drafted Haywood Banks as wide receiver in the first round.

I can understand why they are complaining.  He is not that fast, nor is he all that strong.  Why use a first-round pick on him?  Plus he’s old.  Not old old, but definitely nowhere near the ages of the other draftees.  He’s old enough to be their father, possibly even grandfather.

I should add that he is usually funny.  I am not a fan of “Toast”, but I do like “The Music’s Too Loud“.  That one is much better than the toast bit.

What?  They drafted Heyward-Bey?

Never mind.

“Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us,Older than your father.”
– Job 15:10

Insult Depot, Part 2

Continued from my earlier post

Chapter 5: Back into Danger

I had successfully brought home all the cabinets necessary for the bathroom. But I had neglected to inspect them before purchasing them. My wife, however, quickly noticed what looked like a scratch on one of the cabinet doors. It wasn’t a scratch – it was a line of extra paint. If it had been a scratch, then we couldn’t say that the cabinets came that way. But since it wasn’t a scratch, my wife thought it would be best to exchange the cabinet for an unblemished one.

I put off returning the cabinet to the store, mainly because we were busy with other activities the next few evenings, but also because I dislike returning things. That and I couldn’t find the receipt. Saturday morning, I loaded the cabinet back into the minivan and headed back to the store. I put the cabinet on a flat-bed cart and wheeled it to the customer service desk. They took it back and told me to go pick out a new cabinet. So my 5-year-old helper and I did just that.

Chapter 6: A Happy Ending

I found the cabinet we needed. There was only one left, and I knew it wasn’t the upside-down one I had rejected earlier in the week, because this one had the plastic straps around it and that one didn’t. As I was grabbing the cabinet to load it onto the cart, an employee approached.

This employee was a male, somewhere around 50 or 60. As he was walking up to me, he asked “Are you alright with that?” To which I replied “Yep, thanks.” And this employee did things right: he believed me and left me alone. He just kept right on walking and let me do my shopping, for which I was glad.

We took the cabinet back up to the customer service desk. The lady there had already processed everything and didn’t even need to look at my receipt (God answered my desperate prayer of “Please let me find this receipt!” that morning just before I left). In order to avoid another return, she convinced me to let her open the box and inspect the cabinet for damage or blemishes before we left the store. Aside from some scuff marks, which we agreed would probably wash off, the cabinet was in fine shape.

We installed both cabinets later that morning. “We” being me and my 73-year-old helper, not me and my 5-year-old helper. And the bathroom looks much better. And my wife is pleased with the cabinets.

You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

Exodus 18:18

Chocolate for Breakfast, Part 2

My earlier post had been about some new chocolate (or chocolatey) cereals. Phoebe had commented that another cereal has joined the breakfast game: Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites Chocolate.  I have now had a chance to try it.

First of all, cereal names are starting to get way too long. I have thus abbreviated Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites Chocolate to FMWLBC. Perhaps the long name contributes to what some are claiming is an identity crisis.

Frosted Mini Wheats Little Bites Chocolate

Second, it has a decent taste but that comes at a price: calories.

My updated rankings are:

  1. HBOwrcc – it has decent taste with the best nutrition
  2. CChex – it has the best taste with the worst nutrition
  3. FMWLBC – it has good taste with the worst nutrition
  4. SKCD – it has the worst taste with the worst nutrition

And here is the nutrition information:

FMWLBC has the worst nutrition

  • 2g of fat
  • 1g sat. fat
  • 200 mg sodium
  • 6g of fiber
  • 12g of sugar
  • 200 calories

The only redeeming nutrition factor is that it has a lot of fiber. But there are less-sugary ways to get fiber in your diet if that’s what you want. The other plus is that it uses real sugar and real chocolate, with no corn syrup.

The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

Exodus 16:31

Family Conversations, Part 3

Here are some more conversations that the children had recently:

Growing Up

Someday I will be taller than mama.
“Yes, someday.”
And I will be taller than you.
“Oh, maybe. If you keeping eating your food, then you’ll keep growing.”
No daddy, that’s only at birthdays!” (that you grow)

Zero is the New Thirty

The oldest has taken to adding 30 to all the kids ages, so they’re comparable to our (his parents’) ages. But he leaves our ages intact. I suppose it’s a good thing that he doesn’t add to those.

5-year-old: “I’m 35, you’re 33, you’re 33, and the baby is 30.
(One of the 33s was for me and the other one was for the 3-year-old. But the 3-year-old disagreed with the baby’s new age)

3-year-old: “No, he’s thirty-zero.

For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you.

Proverbs 3:2

Insult Depot

Chapter 1: Off to the Store

The kitchen lady at the local home-improvement store insulted me. I won’t say the name of the store, but the lady was wearing an orange apron.

This last weekend, I went to the store for some cabinets to put in the new laundry room. Kitchen cabinets work well above the washer and dryer, for storing bathroom, laundry, and even some kitchen supplies. We were ready to put them in, so I just needed to buy them.

I found the cabinets. We had already decided on 12″ deep and 30″ tall and 60″ wide. They don’t sell 60″-wide cabinets, but they did have some that were 30″ wide. There were three of them on a shelf, and the shelf was about as high as my waist.

The first cabinet was upside-down. The “This end up” wording was upside-down and the arrow was pointing down. Not trusting that one, I decided I wanted the two cabinets behind it. So I took the first one off the shelf and put it on my flatbed cart. Because of their size, cabinets are a little awkward to carry, but it’s not really a problem. They weigh around 40-50 lbs – about the same as the 5-year-old I had with me at the store and am used to carrying.

Chapter 2: The Plot Begins

I moved the unwanted cabinet to the end of the cart and put the first good one at the front of the cart. As I was getting ready to put the last cabinet on the cart, the lady who patrols the kitchen center stopped by.

Do you need any help?” she asked.
“No thanks,” I replied.
We can get someone to lift those for you.” she continued.
I responded with something like “it’s just this last one; it’s no problem.” but she would not give up.
Well then, I will hold the cart while you put the cabinet on it.

What was going on? I don’t like to be bothered at stores. I like to get my merchandise, buy it, and leave. And I don’t want to wait for help.

So I grabbed the cabinet and put it on the cart while she held the cart. It’s not like the cart was prone to rolling. It hadn’t budged while I put the other two cabinets on it. If the store had a policy about customers handling large items, she should have said so. And if that were the case, then why would the store put large items in the aisles for customers to take?

But she didn’t say anything about store policies, so my only other explanation is that she had lived through a really bad cart-rolling accident and has vowed that she would never let that happen again.

I wanted to show her that I knew how to lift things properly (so that she wouldn’t worry so much about me), so I used my legs and not my back when lowering the cabinet. I didn’t want to have to deal with explaining that I didn’t want the one cabinet and would be putting it back on the shelf, so I said “Okay” and waited for her to leave.

Chapter 3: The Plot Thickens

She, however, was not done yet: “Now when you check-out, there are people there who can help you load these into your car.
You have to be kidding!” I said to myself. Outwardly though, it sounded a lot like “Okay.”
Just ask at the check-out, and they’ll help.
No sense in having you lifting all these things – have the young guys do the work instead.
What!?!” – “Okay, thanks.”

First she insults my physical capabilities and therefore my masculinity by implying that I can’t handle lifting a cabinet. Now she insults my appearance by calling me old? I am in my early 30s, and I am guessing that she was in her late 40s. So she should have known better.

If you are in customer service at all, here are some tips:

  1. Don’t imply that a guy can’t do something (especially if he has already done it twice). If you must try to help him, say that it will make the task go quicker, not that it will help him.
  2. If a person is old enough to have kids, never make him feel older. Always err on the side of youth. Aim for compliments, not back-handed insults.

Finally, after I started browsing for small cabinet accessories, she left. I glanced around to make sure the coast was clear, then I hoisted the upside-down cabinet back onto its shelf. All by myself. Yes, I flipped it over so it was upside-up.

Chapter 4: Free at Last

I then went over the water-softener salt section and tossed eight 40-lb bags of salt onto the cart.
With my back bent.
So there.
Okay, maybe I didn’t exactly toss them. But I did move them from the pallet to my cart.

We checked out, and I forgot to tell the cashier lady that someone was to help load my stuff in my car. I half expected that the kitchen lady had called the front of the store to have someone waiting for me, but no one said anything so I just left.

I rolled the cart to the minivan, tossed the salt in the back of the van (it actually was more of a toss this time), and put the cabinets in the middle of the van (after making sure the 5-year-old was in his car seat and buckled). No one came running out of the store to say anything, so I was home free.

In case you’re wondering, my arms and back are just fine.

“How long will you torment me And crush me with words? These ten times you have insulted me; You are not ashamed to wrong me.”
– Job 19:2-3

No Peaks Without Valleys

I heard an ad for a new book entitled “Peaks and Valleys” by Dr. Spencer Johnson, the same guy who wrote “Who Moved My Cheese?”.

I haven’t read the book, nor did the ad make me want to read the book. But the ad did get me to think about its description of the book’s results: how to “have more peaks and fewer valleys” in your life.

I can somewhat agree with the other descriptive points: “get out of a valley sooner” and “stay on a peak longer”. But more peaks and fewer valleys? Every peak requires a valley, and every valley requires a peak. You can’t have more peaks than valleys, nor can you have more valleys than peaks.

Well, I suppose that, depending on where you start and where you end, you can have one more of one than the other, but the difference can be no more than one. You can’t have many more peaks than valleys.

many peaks and valleys

And staying on a peak longer just implies that you aren’t moving. You can loiter at the peak I suppose. Stay on a peak longer – if you’re happy where you are, then just don’t do anything different, and you’ll stay on that peak.

But these self-help/motivational-type books don’t want you to stay still – you need to go go go do do do be be be. So how do you stay on a peak longer while still moving?

peaks with plateau

To me, it looks like a plateau. But no one in that industry likes to have people plateau. “If you’re not advancing, you’re declining” or “if you’re not improving, you’re regressing”. I like plateaus though – they’re safer. You’re less likely to fall off a plateau than a peak, and the view from there is just as good.

The only way I see to have more peaks and fewer valleys while not plateauing is to have one big incline, like this:

one big slope up

But then you don’t really have a peak, since you never get to the top. And you never get to rest. And if you slip, it’s a long fall back all the way to the bottom with no valley to catch you.

“Why do you look with envy, O mountains with many peaks,At the mountain which God has desired for His abode?Surely the LORD will dwell there forever.”
– Psalm 68:16