Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"What MIT Grad Designed This?"



A favorite saying of mine, as I’ve gone through life criticizing the design and construction of many common, everyday items that we use in this industrialized, high-tech society of ours.  I blame the lack of ‘genius’ coming out of our universities every year, for decades now.  It’s down-right scary, and unforgivable.  I constantly wonder what CEO, COO, CMO, CSO, CFO and board of directors – allow their products to fail so easily?  How do these people sleep at night?   

Technology, in particular, doesn’t work.  To be clear, and fair, a LOT of the time - it doesn’t work.   But, come on, we all know that we fight technology every day, because so often, it just doesn’t work.  Period.  It doesn’t work the way it was promised.  Sometimes it’s a ‘user error’, but NOT usually.  I refuse to be blamed for things that should work, and work always. 

For instance, here’s a short, quick list from the top of my head:

  1. Why do windshield wiper blades squeak?  100+ years of car making, and they can’t figure out how to design wiper blades, using the same ‘technology’ that they used in 1920?  Really?
  2. I got a new laptop last week – it didn’t work.  On a random basis, the screen blacked out, and it wouldn’t come back, so I was having to reboot every couple of hours, losing my work and time.  I had to send it back.
  3. My new high-tech refrigerator is great.  Very expensive.  Very proud.   Oh, but the doors don’t always close – so when they don’t close, an alarm will beep to let you know ‘you’ left the door open.  Really?
  4. I was trying to use ‘gogo’ on American Airlines – to watch movies (for free they say) - it doesn’t work, on my laptop, ipad or phone. 
  5. I bought a new microwave oven last year – expensive – professionally installed.  The door doesn’t close or open properly, unless you ‘trick’ it:  close it, push it up a little, push it down little, do a rain dance in the middle of the kitchen floor – and it should work.   Really?
  6. Wi-Fi in airports – they don’t work . . .  not always.  They tell you they have free wi-fi, but some airports struggle to keep it going, and more-often-than-not, it doesn’t work, and it’s always when you need it most. 
  7. While talking about planes and airports – you know what never works – the volume control for music and video on planes - - the volume is either too loud or too soft, no in between.  Either you blow your eardrums out or you can’t hear it at all.  After 100 years of aviation, billion $ planes – Really?   (and, who is the moron that pics the ‘music’ for these channels?  Really?)
  8. Cable in my house - - sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t work.  Period.  It should always work perfectly, 24x7, when I need it, all day every day.  Either its an outside issue, a cable connection issue in the attic, a TV issue, a modem issue or a wi-fi issue.  Really?
  9. The biggest private information security company for all Americans (a monopoly) – with all of our social security numbers and passwords – is hacked – by a 12-year old in Korea.  Really?
  10. You get a new phone, the 19-year old behind the counter says it’s easy to copy all your files from the old phone to the new phone.  No – it’s not, it doesn’t work.  You lose all your texts, contacts and most of your pictures (because some copy over, but not all).  They say they can do it – but no, they can’t either – they’ve ‘never seen this problem before’. . .  Really?  I’m the only one on the planet who wants to keep ALL my data?   “Isn’t it in the cloud” I say . . . ‘yes’ he says.  “Then lets just download it from the cloud – isn’t that the point of the cloud”?  - -  silence.
  11. I got a new phone.  They said to just move the SD card from the old phone to the new phone.  It didn’t fit – too big.  They said, no problem, go to the store and they will cut the card with a razor blade (or you can do it yourself) – then it will fit in the new phone.   Really? 
  12. Phone battery life.   Really?
  13. I was searching for movies on Netflix last night – selected a category – but when the category of movies came up, it was a different category than the one I had selected.   Really?
  14. We went to see a movie the other day – fancy new theater, fancy new technology.  Half way through, the screen went black and no sound.  For 15 minutes.   When it came back, the audience screaming, it re-started at a point 20 minutes before the point that it shut down.   A 2-hour movie took 3 hours to watch.  Really? 
  15. You buy new technology, and follow the directions to a ‘T’ – but the directions leave out a step, or the steps are out of order, and you can’t complete the setup.   And that’s another hot topic – those people who write the directions /documentation . .to anything, where do they get these people, what planet do they all come from?
  16. I have a number of radios with AM/FM, old and new.  You try to set your channel on ‘570’ or any other station, but the needle on the dial doesn’t line up properly to the station.  To get ‘570’, you have to move the dial to ‘610’.   Don’t tell me you don’t know what I mean.  It doesn’t work, never has.
  17. I bought a new stove top last month – a flat, black glass – expensive stove top.  I can’t clean it with soup and water.  So, it looks like a black Mercedes-Benz that just drove through a mud field.  I spill a little egg on the side, and it won’t come off without a special cleaning fluid and sponge, which you can purchase at ‘any’ hardware store.  Really?
  18. Back-up power at the Atlanta airport – the busiest airport on the planet – doesn’t work.  Shuts down 1,500 flights for a day.  People’s lives shattered – millions.  Really?
  19. We live in the newest, high-tech city in America, where we pay the highest power rates on the planet.  At least 1 time a month, summer and winter, our power goes off.  You have to cruise through the house and reset every electrical device to its proper state.  In most African nations, the power goes off, on average, once every 3 months or so because a baboon has eaten through a line.  Really?

Maybe you have better luck with technology, or you just know how to let it slide, and don’t complain.  If that’s you – you’re blessed - awesome.  I was born with the other gene.  

But, I must keep reminding myself of the scripture: Phil 4:13:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (well, maybe not ALL things ;{

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Old Stones - New Life

Stonehenge.  Visiting this place for the first time last week was incredible.  We were staying in London, so we took a train through the English countryside to a small town, then jumped a local bus to the site. Perfect.   It was surreal, because all my life I have wanted to visit this 5,000 year old site of stones - and suddenly, there it was.  This was built in the time of Noah - that's right - Noah and the Ark, 3,000 BC.  Of course they don't know exactly when Stonehenge was erected, but they know it was around that period.

This day was cold and a little wet - typical London weather in December, and perfect Stonehenge weather.  I took this picture and will probably use it for my new screen saver - who wouldn't?  So, this stone structure is really old.
  
So what's the new life part?  Compared to Stonehenge, the birth of Jesus is 'new'.  He was born 3,000 years later, after some guys stacked these 40 ton stones - and He was talked about, eluded to, back in the Old Testament at the time of Noah.  Just as these smart guys watched and tracked the stars, the sun, the moon, to build this place - Noah built an Ark over a long period of time to save his family from the flood.  Something strange was going on, all over the world, for sure.
 
I'm not trying to connect any dots, there are no dots really.   Well, maybe just a few . . . . .
  
Merry Christmas! 
     
     
 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kahlua and Peppermints

Kahlua was born in 2001 and last week on December 5, 2013 - in usual form, he tugged and pulled us along the path, pointing us on to the final destination - Heaven.  No, it wasn't a rabbit, it wasn't a squirrel, it wasn't a bird - although either of those would have been close, very close, to heaven.  Kahlua was pushing 13 years old (91 in dog years).  Known to me as 'boogger' - he was the finest friend you would ever want or need.  Too often, I took him for granted.  Why?  He was always there, just waiting.  Just waiting for me.  It didn't matter if I was gone for 30 minutes or 5 days - he greeted me with the same excitement and joy with the wagging of the tail and the whimper of happiness and nibble on my hand that said - "I'm so glad to see you!  I missed you!  Welcome back!  Can we play now dad?"
 
I wasn't worthy of his presence.  He was a king among kings. A servant, and king. 
  
On that Thursday afternoon, I cleaned the house a bit - packed up his bedding, his bowls, his left over food and vitamins, his blankets and toys still laying around the house.  I moved from room to room and removed all remembrances of my best buddy.  On my sink were dozens of peppermints, the peppermints I would collect at various restaurants around town - eating out all those evenings and coming home with a pocket full of peppermints that I grabbed on the way out the door - eating a couple and saving a few for my best friend waiting for me at home.  I'd give him one or two, then toss the rest on the counter, to save them for a rainy day.  He knew they were there.  He knew they were there and every now and then as I got ready to go each day he would sit and stair at me and when I glanced his way, he would shoot his eyes to the sink top where the peppermints were.  'Hey, come on, just one?! I'll be good - I'll be good, I promise - just one?!"
   
I was saving them for a rainy day.
       


     

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Hello - My Name is Regret"

I regret not updating this site for 1 full year.  A whole year, gone.  Well there's no time like the present, to start new and fresh.  I've been thinking about a lot of things over the past year - but that's about it.  Mostly boring stuff like this:
 
I want to own and operate a Starbucks.  Wouldn't that be cool?  Over the past year I haven't been able to get to Starbucks every morning like I use to - but I do make it most Friday mornings when I'm in town, and then again on Sunday mornings before church (ok, and a few times in-between).  I do work there, real work, and I read the paper, and I connect with a few familiar faces.  And, I listen to conversations (shhhhhhhh!) the tables are real close together.  It's amazing what people feel free to talk about - out load - business discussions and very personal stuff - as if no one else is listening.   Well, I just mind my own business :).
    
I could totally operate a Starbucks.  I know the manager at my Starbucks and he's not a rocket scientist.  I'm not a rocket scientist - so I figure I could do it too - right?  He acts like he loves what he is doing - there's never a dull moment, and he works around coffee all day - what could be better?
        

Or, I could buy one of these shaved ice trucks and sell snow cones.  This couple was at our "Fall Festival" (Halloween) the other night with their truck.  They even have a web-site, they asked me to 'like' them on it.  Hey, in Texas it's not a bad idea, although that night was a bit chilly for an ice snack - so I went to the In-n-Out truck for a hot hamburger instead.  But this couple (about my age) looked relaxed and peaceful inside that truck - seemingly not a care in the world.  Starbucks might come with a lot of headaches - but I bet shaved ice has a lot less.  But the margins?  Well the margins might actually be higher - ice is cheap - but the volume can't be too good year round. That would be the issue.  (don't waste your time getting an MBA, just remember this, in a nutshell: it's all about high margins, and volume).  And your only employee is your wife - that could be risky too.  I want a lot of young cool looking employees working for me (Starbucks) - wouldn't you?  But the freedom, ya, the freedom would be incredible in this truck.  Now this guy in the truck, as I think about it, he really did look like a rocket scientist.  What does that tell you?
     
Likely, I'm not gonna do any of that.  Here's the problem (for instance): just yesterday I was notified that I had become a "Certified Outsourcing Professional" - a COP.  They're going to mail me my certificate, and I can add the acronym to my business card and put it on LinkedIn too.  Gotta update the resume and stuff like that.  It's a big deal with the type of people I work with - and a pain to get.  It's another one of those 'hooks', that keep you engaged in something you might not care much about in the first place.  It's 'comfortable'.  Typical isn't it, just when I was thinking about a Starbucks or a Shaved Ice truck - I got certified in something else, distracted from what's important.  Regrets.
  
But what am I going to do with my life??  What about you?
    
"Hello - My Name is Regret".  Matthew West has a song out there with those words - great song.  We tell ourselves that we have regrets, and we are defeated.  But we're not.  That's the evil one talking to you.  My real name is "Child of the one True King".   
  
Choose carefully what you do. Love what you do.  So I'm not the model for this yet (working on it) - but you could be!  If you don't love what you do - keep doing it (don't just stop like some people say - that's dangerous) - but keep looking for something else - no regrets - stay alert and on the watch for that special something you might love to do.  Search, discover, investigate - but don't get too comfortable doing what you don't love.  Comfort and familiarity can kill you - the evil one will kill you this way - that's his goal.  He'll rob you of your life, by robbing you of your time on earth.  It's a perfect plan, that plays itself out everyday.   
  
This isn't a new concept, Paul wrote in Ephesians (God's words): "Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil".  I think what he meant is that we can tend to waste our time, throw away precious time, time you can never get back. 
   
No regrets - that's the goal.
      

Monday, November 5, 2012

Butterflies

I think this is a Monarch butterfly - it might not be a Monarch, but the Monarch's are migrating through Texas now and I figure it was one of those headed to Mexico.  Of course - when I google it for pictures, I can't find one this pretty called a Monarch...it might be a 'painted lady' - anyway .... I figure I'm still too young to go buy a book, get out my binoculars or join a club about it.
 
I took this picture on Halloween night when everyone was dressed up like something they aren't.  Not this guy - he wasn't pretending to be anything but himself - and that was enough.
      
But it did make me think about things this past week - like change.  A lot of things need to change.  We all get bogged down in the hum-drum of life, in the ugly but protected cocoon, we become complacent and satisfied with the status-quo.  Sunday turns to Monday, then the week drags on and it's Saturday, and then Sunday turns to Monday again - until the month is gone, and the quarter ends, and we have a birthday and it's time for the holidays again.  "And the beat goes on."

We just stop living our best life.  It's not intentional - it just happens - creeps up on you.
     
Butterflies live a month, or as long as a year - but no more.  How many life analogies have been drawn from the development and life of a butterfly:  they start pretty unattractive and end beautiful;  they are agents of the pollination to plants;  they have a 4-part life-cycle;  they migrate using the sun as their compass - seeing the polarized light to guide them;  they live by instinct;  they are weak and fragile - yet strong;  they undergo an incredible metamorphosis.
   
A Czech dude named Franz Kafka wrote a book called 'Metamorphosis' - compelling - real to the bone stuff.  I need to go read it again  (this week).
  
So what?  I don't know, I just saw this beautiful butterfly, and wanted to preserve it's place in history by putting it's picture on this page.  Now you've seen it and you can decide what to do about it, but whatever you do - keep changing.  Life is short.

Maybe It's Time to be Beautiful.
    
 
    
 
     

   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Christianity is Losing Ground . . . .



Yesterday, the results of a new Pew survey says that Protestants in the US are in decline.  If you read deep - you find that it's partly because a lot of 'Christians' now belong to non-denominational type organizations which apparently aren't officially 'protestant'.  The devil (himself) is in the details.
  
So the trending line for Protestants is going down, and the trending line for 'unaffiliated' and 'other faiths' is going up in the US.   Net, net?  Who knows . . . . . it could be that going to a Bible Church, or Community Church means you're 'unaffilliated'.  Or it could mean that Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Satanism and Atheists are on the rise, or a combination of both.
    
More disturbing to me is this chart showing Republicans and Democrats.  If you don't see the glaring conflict here between being a democrat and being 'religious', well, then, you see the point . . . .

Statistics, surveys - we know they are full of problems and can't be trusted fully.  For instance, if you're a real follower of Christ, the word 'religion' is not necessarily a good thing anyway - so you have to be careful as everyone has a different way of looking at things and answering surveys.  duh . .
    
But - this Pew research has 3 more things that are really disturbing (as disturbing as the democrat thing).  1) one-third of young adults under 30, now have no religious affiliation and that their ties to organized religion are permanently broken.  2) people identifying with non-Christian faiths is up to 6% from 4% in 2007 (5 yrs).  (doesn't sound like much, but those 2 pts means a 50% increase - an incredible stat, if I did the math right). 3) two-thirds, 2/3, of American adults think that churches should stay out of politics and not back one candidate or the other.
     
Christianity is losing - big time.
   
No real Christian wants to hear that (most don't believe it).  If you went to my church, a mega church, you wouldn't believe it, because it grows and the excitement is there all the time.  But the really BIG picture is different - the national and global picture.   Muslims on the other hand, have it going on.  They are growing fast and furious and are united globally.  Dig deeper into the Pew research (and others), and as a Christian, it will rock you, it will make you quiver and shake if you have any conscious at all.  Maybe it's just me, but I sense that overall, the Christian community (the leadership) is absolutely silent on all of this.  They have stuck their heads in the sand - what else can you do - right?  (fyi, usually my head is deep in the sand).  But Christianity has now become so watered down that it's irrelevant.  Young adults just don't care - and they are the future of America.
 
And if you want to get in really hot water with your Christian friends, just bring up the subject sometime . . . generally, my experience is that you will lose and you are outnumbered - by denial.
 
What do we do?  Stand your ground for Christ.  Don't water down Christianity when you talk to others.  The Bible is about Christ - from beginning to end - Genesis to Revelation.  Christ is a real 'stumbling block' - He doesn't compromise, He isn't a patsy for other religions, He cuts to the chase, He is hated by the world.
   
John 15:  Christ said "If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me.  If you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of its own.  But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you."

And pray hard for the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ - soon! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quotes

I love good quotes!  There's a small bookstore in San Diego called 'Upstart Crow' that has racks and racks of cards and notepads and magnets and books of quotes.  We've spent hours in that place (while sipping coffee and chai) reading quotes, laughing, crying, getting some fulfilment- at appreciating a good quote.  Me and my best friends in the world have 20 years of experience - at doing nothing - at Upstart Crow.
   
I just love good quotes.  (this one haunts me . . .)
   
Quotes make you think about things in a different way, and they make you think about things you never thought about - and wondered why not?
  
Every now and then someone says something about quotes that makes you feel silly for loving them - they mock those of us who love quotes.  Those people are fools - so we ignore them.  They're the same  people who think picking up shells at low-tide on the beach is dumb.  Those people are irrelevant and dead inside.
  
The best quotes will make you act.  They compel you to actually do something different when you wake up in the morning.  Great quotes change your perspective - they can actually change your mind, so much so that you quit your job, or break-up with a girlfriend, or buy something you never even wanted, or sell something you thought you couldn't live without, or move to another country, or dedicate your life to something 'crazy'.

Here's another one of my favorites:  "When many things seem to be going wrong, trust Me.  When your life feels increasingly out of control, thank me."  Jesus - 'Jesus Calling - Oct 3'.

See, that's a quote that will do 1 of 2 things:  really make you mad, or change everything about you.  Or both.