Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I'm going to take a short hi-8-us (break) from posting on this and other blogs for a while. Thanks to all my readers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No time for long post - Shampoo

No time for a long post today. I got stuck in the shower. I'm trying a new shampoo and wanted to follow the instructions very clearly.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Later. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Rinse Repeat.

Man, that shampoo only lasted one day, I won't try that brand again...

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'll put your Menorah beside my Christmas tree

A couple days ago, I posted an article about how Christmas trees should be allowed in the public square, because Christmas isn't really a Christian holiday. I must not have said something right, I figured I'd get tons of comments from both sides (I did receive one - thanks Thomas). If you want to read that original post, see here.

I heard something on the radio about a town that doesn't want to put up a Christmas tree because they would have to put up a Menorah and symbols of other religions. Personally, I think this is a good idea.

Let's put up a Christmas tree beside a Menorah. We'll also put up a symbol of Islam and a cross (a really good symbol of Christianity). For Agnosticism maybe we cut make a statue of a question mark and for Atheism an exclamation mark. We can even put a pentagram for Wicca believers.

As I thought of this, I thought that surely someone had done something like this before. With the aid of my favorite search engine, I was able to find the history of one previous display like this (you can read about it in 1 Kings 18:21-39).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Post dated papers

Yesterday I had someone ask me to fill out some papers and post date them so that it would appear I signed the papers in January. Of course the reason was that there was "so much" paperwork - I guess it would take me from now until next year - and we could get that stuff out of the way easily now.

So, let me get this straight, you want me to fill out the papers, swearing that everything is correct, then lie about the date? And then, since you encouraged me in the lie, you expect me to trust everything you say and everything you sign?

Somewhere there are people saying "it's only the date, what's the big deal?" To which I would reply, "it's only the price, what's the big deal?"

Let me give a warning to anyone who asks me to sign paperwork - if you ask me to "fudge" the date, you won't get the contract.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas trees in public square

Last week, I posted an entry about Christmas music. The premise of the entry was to identify which Christmas songs should only be recorded by a single artist. My example was Burl Ives and Holly Jolly Christmas. Any other recording just isn't up to par. I had a few comments with other suggestions, you're welcome to go back and add your ideas here.

Later in the week, I was listening to some Christmas music and heard a song by Barry Manilow. Now, as much as it embarrasses me to admit this, I like Barry Manilow. But the thought hit me that he's Jewish. Why would a Jewish man sing songs celebrating the birth of the Messiah? The birth of the Christ child?

So I decided to do a little investigation. What other Jewish people sing Christmas songs? Well, the Internet is our friend, I found out I wasn't the first to ask this question (alas, there's nothing new under the sun). I found that Neil Diamond (who sings "Sweet Caroline") is Jewish as well as Barbra Streisand and both have Christmas albums.

Turns out there are a lot of Christmas songs written by those who are Jewish including "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire", "Holly Jolly Christmas" (which I mentioned earlier) and "White Christmas" (reference).

I certainly have nothing against these people singing Christmas songs. In fact, a little more research told me that Ed Asner, who is a frequent speaker at ACLU meetings has played Santa Claus in the 2003 movie Elf (and if memory serves me right, also in the old Mary Tyler Moore series).

So with Christians, Jews and atheists alike, all celebrating & singing about Christmas, it appears that the holiday is no longer a Christian holiday. With that information, why do we prohibit Christmas trees in the public square? Why do we (in government) shy away from calling it a Christmas tree or the Christmas holiday?

So let's put up Christmas trees in the public square. After all, if it isn't a Christian holiday, the government shouldn't have any problems, right?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ok, what's going on?

About four years ago (almost exactly), I posted an entry about Providence, the unseen hand of God. I don't really believe in coincidence, but as I wrote back then, it seems ostentatious to say God planned something. Providence seems like a good way to say it while not really saying it.

This week, Providence seems to be at work again. On two separate occasions, I had discussions with two different friends about two different religious matters. Then, I had three different religious discussions on three different blogs (again on different matters). I typically steer away from these things, but these three discussions just came out.

Then it hit me, Providence. There's something behind this. What's going on?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Count the cost - part 2

Yesterday I asked the question "when do you count the cost?" as it relates to you individually. More important is the question "when do you ignore the cost?" and do something. The example I gave was an emergency room visit.

Today I want to ask if the same logic applies to the U.S. as a country? Is there (or should there be) a time to do something without regard to the cost?

For example, we recently had the 68th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor - a day which has lived in infamy since that day. We all (hopefully) know what happened and the result was the U.S. entry into WW II. The cost of that war was tremendous. But no one questioned the cost or has said that we shouldn't have gone to war. Just let the Japanese (and Germans) take what they wanted. Instead, we ignored the cost, figured we'd pay for it later.

The cost was paid in lives and in sacrifices of U.S. citizens. I've heard my parents talk about rationing, and the shortages. But no one questioned it.

I believe that 9/11 was another such time to ignore the cost. Whether you believe we took the right action or not, is not the discussion at this point. Should we have ignored the cost and gone after terrorism? We will pay for the decision for a long time. And we don't (yet) know what the total cost will be. But I believe it was the right decision.

How about the stimulus package from earlier this year? We were told we had to do something and it had to be done right then. There was no time to "count the cost". What else? Where else is it right for us as a country to ignore the cost and continue?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Count the cost

I started to name this post "How much is that doggy in the window," but decided that most people wouldn't get the point (that phrase is from a VERY old song - older than me).

One of my favorite Bible verses is Luke 14:28. Roughly it says you should "Count the Cost" before building a house. You need to know the cost of the house before you start, otherwise you'll run out of money partway through. Of course in today's world, you wouldn't run out, you'd just run down to the bank and take out a mortgage or you'd whip out your credit card.

It occurs to me that there are times when you don't count the cost. If you're in an accident, you don't shop around for the cheapest ambulance service, you call 911 and take the first one that gets there. After the bill comes, you figure out how to pay. If you have a heart attack, you don't ask the doctor ahead of time "How much is this going to cost?" or "do I have enough money in the bank?" If your roof is leaking, you may call around for the best price/service, but you will go ahead and get it fixed, regardless how much it costs (or at least you should).

Certainly you should have money saved up to cover these kinds of cost, but that's not the subject of this post (maybe a follow-up). My question is, what situations merit this type behavior? Maybe you need a new high-def TV, but not sure whether or not you can afford it. Ok, that's probably an extreme example, but suppose your car is failing. You need a car to get to work. And because of the kids, it has to be a safe car. Do you count the cost or just go out and buy a 2010 BMW. Those cars are safe and reliable.

So my question to you is, when do you count the cost and when do you just go out and do something? This could apply to items like cars, medical treatments, etc. and it could also apply to government.

Monday, December 07, 2009

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

At our house, Christmas music started playing before Thanksgiving. The tree went up Thanksgiving day, was decorated and Christmas shopping is almost complete (no thanks to me). One thing I've noticed is that there is a limited number of Christmas songs, so you end up hearing the same ones over and over (and over).

It struck me the other day that there should be a law prohibiting anyone but Burl Ives recording "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas." No, I didn't hear another version (maybe the law already exists and I didn't know it), but as I listened and sang along, I decided that was the only version I wanted to hear. Somehow, I can't picture Taylor Swift singing that song.

Some songs - Jingle Bells for example, can be sung by anyone and sound good. But when anyone other than Bing Crosby (not to be confused with Bill Cosby) sings "White Christmas" it just doesn't come out right.

There are other songs which "belong" to a single artist - Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" is one that comes to mind (although the Porky Pig version is pretty good). What about you?

What songs would you limit to a single artist?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Moderation is for monks....

A few weeks ago, I received some comments on my blog for very old blog posts. I don't mind, but these were obviously spam. So I turned on moderation for old posts.

However, I didn't realize that I had to actively look for comments held in moderation. This morning I found I had 15 comments held, all but one were spam.

I look at this as a good news/bad news situation, I had 14 spam comments held and you, my loyal reader, won't have to bother with those. Unfortunately, one valid comment was held by my ignorance. My sincere apologies.

As it is, anyone (including anonymous readers) can comment on recent blog posts. If the post is over 14 days old, I will moderate. I will ONLY reject comments that seem to be spam - ads for medical sales or other sales. If you feel I have rejected your comment unfairly, either email me (my email address is in my profile) or comment on a more recent post.

I will not reject posts that simply disagree with me (that would get rid of most of my comments).

Thanks to all who comment.

P.S. Anyone know the rest of the quote in the subject line?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Another loss...

I've used this forum in the past to eulogize people close to me that have passed on. Today, I want to talk about another loss, this time our pet, Toby.

Toby was born on March 9, 1995 and turned 14 earlier this year. Based on my math, that made him over 100 in dog years. Back then, we went to visit his mother's owner's house and when the kids saw puppies, they had to have one. We picked one out and came back a few weeks later to take him home. On April 29, Toby moved to his new home - we had a pet.

Looking through some records, I found that Toby was 8.4 pounds on his first doctor visit a few weeks after we got him. I recall that he was so small we worried he would get stuck in a 4 inch drain pipe (I put a cover on the pipe to keep that from happening). He soon outgrew that risk all together.

Toby was a mix of breeds. Primarily Black Lab, he also had a lot of Border Collie in him and possibly some Chow. This made him a loving, fun dog. The Border Collie made his hair long as seen in these pictures. When we had him groomed the first time, his hair had gotten matted and it was past time. The only way they could groom him was to cut his hair in some places all the way to the skin. When we picked him up, they told us not to laugh at him, that it would embarrass him. I remember thinking "HE'S A DOG!".

But then he came out with his tail (literally) between his legs. He was indeed embarrassed. We praised him and told him how good he looked. After that, every time he was groomed, he walked around with his head held high, proud of his new look.

In 1998, Toby moved with the rest of us to Greenville, SC. He took the move well and made the deck his primary sleeping place. He would stand on the deck and survey HIS backyard.

Lately, Toby spent more time inside. When my grandson started crawling, he would crawl all over Toby. Toby just lay there, taking it all in. If it got too rough, Toby would simply get up and move outside.

In the last few years, Toby had developed arthritis. We treated this with some medicine from the vet. When he first began taking the medicine, he reacted very well. He seemed to even dance when we would roll up the pill in a slice of cheese. But unfortunately, the arthritis seemed to adapt to the medicine and he soon slowed down again and stopped dancing.

This past year, Toby had trouble standing up from a laying down position. He got around this by standing longer than he should. Of course, this made his legs hurt more. When we had him groomed, he lay in the floor for a couple days to recuperate.

In recent weeks, he had fallen 2 or 3 times and had trouble getting back up. He had lost a lot of muscle mass in his hips and body. The doctor said that this usually meant some form of cancer.

At his age, doing more diagnostics didn't make sense. If we found some cancer, it's unlikely he could stand the treatment.

Trips to the vet had become painful for Toby. Even getting up out of the floor was painful. After a lot of soul searching, I had to make a decision on what was easiest for him. So after 14+1/2 years, I decided it was time to end Toby's pain.

The hardest part of this was calling the kids and telling them. We had talked about it for a few weeks, so hopefully it wasn't a surprise. But I know it's hard on them to loose a pet that has been a part of the family for so long.

We will always remember Toby and the joy he brought us.

Tobias "Toby" Andrew Barnett
March 9, 1995 - December 2, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Blind Side - Movie Review

Sunday, after all the kids were gone and we had our empty nest to ourselves again, my wife and I did the logical thing - we went to a movie. With another couple. Yep, we finally had our house and our selves alone and we left and joined others.

The movie was my wife's choice - The Blind Side. My thought was that any movie with Sandra Bullock in it can't be all bad. As Warren (the male half of the other couple) put it - "She's hot!" And after a disappointing weekend of football, this movie promised a little good football. Sure it was going to be a "chick-flick", but hey, if the wife's happy, I'm happy.

Much to my surprise, I really liked The Blind Side. In the movie, Bullock's character adopts a boy from the streets and helps him out. We follow the young man through high school to college and the issues that go with him. Life wasn't simple. It wasn't handed to him on a silver platter or even on a KFC paper plate. But (no secret - Micheal Oher's in pro-football now) he makes it.

I won't give any spoilers here, but there were a lot of memorable lines. My favorite was when Bullock's character was asked about the gun she was carrying. Asked if it were a Saturday night special, she replied "Yep. And it works good the other days too." Man, she's a tough lady.

There were good "non-lines" too, places where the actions say more than words. As Bullock walks off the football field in a tight dress, all of the players (who had mothers her age), tilted their heads to watch her walk off the field. As Warren said, "she's hot!"

I had one more favorite line, I won't quote the line here - you'll have to see the movie to hear it. But it was a line every mother should tell her son as he heads off to college. She explained to her adopted son what her reaction would be if he got a girl pregnant.

There were a lot of loose ends in the movie. There were four minor parts that I felt like were brought in or taken out with little or no tie-in. Oher's brother was brought in one scene (and a few hazy flashbacks), but was never mentioned again. Another boy who Oher went to school with was never seen after school started. And late in the movie a boy was killed that had no previous tie-in (unless he was the boy that Oher started school with - if so, I missed it). And finally, Oher's real mother - no mention of her after her big scene. But life is full of loose ends, like the guy I went to school with - last I looked, he was still in trouble with the law.

All in all, a good movie. I give it a B+ (it didn't "wow" me enough for an A). Very little profanity, no sex scenes and very little violence. I checked IMDb and it's rated PG13, I'm surprised it wasn't PG. I strongly recommend the movie.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Complete Savings

Last night my wife discovered a charge on her account that shouldn't have been there. After a call to the 800# on the line item, I discovered it was a company named Complete Savings. Apparently, she had purchased something online (a few months ago) and somehow signed up for a Complete Savings membership. We're not sure how this happened, but let's assume this part is true.

"Maria", at Complete Savings, asked some basic information - last name and zip code - and then verified that information. She then verified the email address as some limited form of ID protection. At no time did she ask a credit card number or any other "sensitive" information. She explained the benefits to membership and offered me some solutions to the charge. She could cancel my (our) membership or I could log on to the website and explore the benefits more. I opted for canceling.

"Maria" explained that I still had 30 days to explore the website and that no future charges would occur. She was very polite about it. I said (not asked) that she could also reverse the charge. She said she could do that, and unfortunately it would cancel my membership immediately. I told her that was fine and she explained it would take 3-5 business days to see the credit on my account.

All in all, this was a reasonably pleasant exchange. How my wife's information got to this company, I don't know, but we plan to email the company we did purchase from to follow up. Before "Maria" answered the phone, there was a series of prompts that asked for Social Security number or charge card number, but I refused to enter it and just hit "0" for an operator. After a not-too-long wait, I got a real person who spoke at least decent English.

The worst part of the process was dealing with my bank. I wanted them to block the charge and they explained that they would have to block the card completely. This seems contrary to what I've heard that Visa Debit will do for you and I'll have to investigate some more.

Moral of the story is that you should follow up on things like this and quickly address the problem. It took less than 30 minutes total to resolve this problem.