A Curse or a Blessing?

I’m not like my adoptive father in very many ways, but he sure hit that old cliched nail on the head about not liking telephones.

No wonder. As a minister, he was always being interrupted by otherwise well-intended church members who didn’t realize how much time and concentration it took to prepare two sermons a week–he rarely reused a sermon–and an in-depth Bible study for the Wednesday night prayer service.

No matter whether he was at church or at home, he couldn’t very well refuse to talk to a caller. But he sure didn’t have to like it.

I’m not sure whether he ever said this, but I’ll always associate this with him. “If I get to Heaven and find telephones there, I’m asking for a transfer to the other place.” A bit of an exaggeration, but that makes the point quite well.

I’m not a minister, and I’m not subject to the number and variety of calls he couldn’t get away from. But I still hate telephones, and it’s not just because of my father’s dislike of them.

When I graduated from college and got out on my own, I probably wouldn’t have had a phone except for not being able to call in sick without one. I didn’t get sick very often,however, so I rarely needed it for that purpose. And I don’t recall using it for very much of anything else.

I’d promised to write my parents once a week. Honestly, I often struggled to find something to say. If long distance had been free, maybe I would’ve called instead and let them do most of the talking. Oh, well…

After marrying my first wife, the phone got used a lot. Especially with the in-laws living far away. Unfortunately, long distance still wasn’t free.

Cell phones came along far enough that we finally felt we could afford one, and I thought we needed one for emergencies. Even though the cost of extra minutes added up to more than the cost of the phone itself, my wife saw it as useful for everyday calling.

When she and I parted ways, I decided to buy a cell phone–mostly for emergencies away from home. But I still had a house phone, too.

I don’t know if I rarely use the cell phone because I’ve never gotten over my lifelong dislike of phones. Even so, I wouldn’t think of going out without it. My wife and I have turned the ringer off on the house phone. We’d give it up, but our Internet access is cheaper by being bundled with the home landline. Incidentally, we periodically check it for messages, but very few nuisance callers leave them, thank goodness.

I’m a horrible text-er. Very, VERY slow. But if I need to get a message to someone while (for example) I’m at the doctor’s office, I will text.

I’m tempted leave the ringer volume up at church since rarely does anyone call me. But the thought of “Sunshine of Your Love” starting up at top volume during a worship service makes me silence it. Sometimes I forget to turn the volume up again for a couple of days.

I’m the first person to admit phones can be useful. Even so, I can’t understand people’s addictions to them. And doing all that talking and texting? Not my idea of fun.

Ah, but the apps for smart phones are something else. It’s great to have a Bible on my phone and a GPS app to locate an unfamiliar place. Not to mention the ability to monitor the flight a loved one is on.

So are phones a curse or a blessing? I guess it depends in part on whether you’re like me and my father or like a typical teen.

Do you hate or love phones? Are you addicted to yours or is it simply another useful gadget? Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Political Correctness or Political Silliness?

Gracious! Am I really that old? Ancient!

I must be. Whenever I see the initials PC, my first thought is “personal computer.” I recall when an inheritance from my mother enabled my family to buy not one, but two personal computers. That was in 1994. I don’t recall the cost, but it was huge compared to what something comparable would cost today.

And those were desktop units, not laptops. That was before the days of flash drives, but those small “floppy drives” that weren’t at all floppy were still in use. And of course we still needed to use a dial-up modem to reach the Internet.

Nowadays, of course, nobody bothers with the “personal” part of PC, and only a few of us probably think first of computers when we read, see, or hear a reference to PC.

A few days ago, I was passing through Penney’s on the way to walk in the mall when I noticed that only one woman was holding down the fort at a gaggle of registers where two and sometimes even three women normally worked. My first thought was to pleasantly and sympathetically ask this lady if she was manning the fort by herself that day.

Manning? Oh, me! My bad! How thoughtless!

I didn’t say it, though, and I doubt seriously that this lady would’ve thought twice about my of “manning.” Why should she? Was I to have used–or even just thought–“womaning” or “personing”?

I don’t question the need to refrain from using offensive words. I’ve never used the n-word to refer to a black person. I’ve never even thought it, and I get upset if I hear it used.

So, is “African-American” the currently acceptable term, even though not all black people come from Africa? Nor do all of them live in America. How silly to refer to a black person in England as African-American? And if a word isn’t universally true, why should it be used at all?

Don’t get me wrong. I feel a very strong compulsion as a Christian to refrain from offending people knowingly.

But, gracious! Don’t I also recall a time when referring to a homosexual as “queer” was frowned on? Yet now, we have “LGBTQ,” if I recall the letters correctly, and I’ve probably left out some. Yet “fag” is apparently still considered offensive. (The Words with Friends dictionary doesn’t allow its use, even though it has definitions not related to homosexuality.)

Hmm. I’ll never be able to keep up with gay political correctness. Will the (very) old Christmas song referring to “don we our gay apparel” need to be rewritten, along with so many other things?

And don’t even suggest that we have to start referring to God as “She.” I can guarantee that the sperm that united with Mary’s egg to create Jesus did not come from a woman.

Yes, maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I still believe in calling things what they are, avoiding anything that’s overtly offensive, but not fretting about much of the silliness that falls under the PC umbrella. Yet I’ve caught myself avoiding saying everything I want to say on this subject because I never know when the PC police might be watching and call me down on it.

I also grew up during the time when “you can’t legislate morality” was a popular saying. Designating certain behaviors illegal as one thing, but true morality is a matter of the heart. Or is it? According to the liberal PC-ers and other post-modernists, everyone’s morality would be different since they claim there’s no such thing as absolute truth.

Hmm. I think I’m better off continuing to think of PC as “personal computer.” It’s safer and less frustrating.

What do you think of political correctness? Do you have any particular dislikes? Please share a comment. We can all go down together.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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In Other Words

 

Okay, I admit it. As a writer I pay close attention to words. Obsessively close at times.

Everyone’s words. Spoken and printed. Live and recorded. Loving words and hateful ones. Kind words and unfeeling ones. Sacred words and blasphemous ones. Uplifting words and depressing words.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I have several pet peeves regarding words and word usage. Maybe more than several, but several illustrations will suffice.

In a couple of my novels, a character expresses frustration about the use of the word awesome to describe anyone or anything but God. It’s bad enough when non-Christians are describing something pretty insignificant–“This gum is awesome”–but since they would never say God is awesome, their use of that word is simply inappropriate. Or at least a horrible exaggeration.

I have yet to find a, uh, a more awesome way to describe God’s indescribable qualities than to call Him awesome. So when a Christian says God is awesome and also describes other things that way–nothing comes close to being as awesome as God–it strikes me as a sacrilege. What makes it worse is the fact they’ve probably never thought about what they’re doing when they talk that way.

Another of my verbal pet peeves is the word famously.  I’d never heard it used that often until the last several years, although I can’t prove that its use is getting worse. Nonetheless, I keep running into famously–I can’t even stand the way it sounds, and it’s an ugly-looking word in print. Particularly in news articles. Like this line I ran into a few minutes ago, the one that inspired this post:

It follows the famous case of Kate Steinle, who was famously shot to death in San Francisco in 2015 by an illegal immigrant (etc.)

If something is famous, it’s already too well-known to need to be pointed out as being well-known. And the sentence I quoted is an especially horrific example. The “famous case”? Sorry, news writer, but it is an all-too-famous case; you don’t need to tell us that. And then to add “famously shot to death” makes that whole part of the sentence sound redundant.

Enough said. I don’t want to start sounding redundant, too.

While I’m on this soapbox, however, let me share one other word-related pet peeve. Like awesome, this one applies mostly to Christians. I’m not someone who thinks of “darn” as a substitute for “damn” or “heck” as a substitute for “hell.” And I daresay  Christians who use the word “jeez” don’t think of it the way I do.

Nonetheless, I hear jeez as a substitute for Jesus. And it’s not used in praise or adoration, but as a common expression of…whatever.

It offends me so much I’ve asked my wife not to use it when we play Words with Friends. She usually honors my request, even though the ability to get rid of a J and a Z in the same play must be frustratingly tempting.

What about you? Do these pet peeves of mine make sense? Do those things bother you, too? Are there other words that bother you? Your comment will be welcome.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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The Newest “Pet” — Revisited

A year-and-a-half ago, I published “The Newest ‘Pet'” included below. We still love our Roomba. No complaints whatsoever, and lots of praise.

I recently received a message from someone who had read the original blog post and offered me a link to an online review of robot vacuum cleaners. It was a great review, and the study seemed to have been conducted sufficiently scientifically to be accurate and worthwhile.

I won’t try to summarize it–I couldn’t do it justice–but the link is here. If you’re considering a robot vacuum cleaner–or simply want to see how yours stacks up against the competition–you’ll find the review to be informative and well done.

Reading my original blog post is optional. *G*

 

Roomba   Roomba2

My wife and I recently spent a wonderful week with my daughter and her family in Florida. This was an exciting time for all of us. They have a new baby (their second child), a new house (their first), and an actual bed for us to sleep in rather than an air mattress on the living room floor. Oh, and did I mention that the new house, like so many in that part of Florida, has a pool?

But they had something else that caught my attention.

I was sitting in the living room working on email when I heard a low roaring sound coming from another room. When I glanced beyond the doorway, I spotted a thirteen-inch (diameter) round gadget moving from place to place on the floor. At one time it moved directly along the base of a wall. At other times it moved away diagonally and sometimes at a ninety-degree angle towards the other side of the room.

Although it seemed to be happy with the bare floor, it soon took an interest in the dining room, which is carpeted. Here’s a video I took in the hallway.

What in the world was this crazy spinning gadget? It obviously was NOT one of Robert Austin’s (the four-year-old) toys, but it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

Hmm. This critter seemed to be eating dirt off the floor and carpet. A vacuum cleaner? A human-less vacuum cleaner? So it appeared to be.

I grabbed the camcorder and followed it around for a minute or two, occasionally moving out of its unpredictable path. When I got brave enough, I remained in its way one time to see what it would do.

When this robot vacuum cleaner determined that it couldn’t climb over my shoe, it worked its way around it. I could only shake my head in amazement. I’d heard of robot vacuum cleaners, but had never believed they could possibly be worth the investment.

You have to understand that I’m the guy who went to Target and bought the next-to-the-least expensive human-operated vacuum there and faithfully uses it once every two to three weeks, whether the carpet needs it or not.

Uh, I must be honest here. It always needs it.

Our week-long visit gave me plenty of chances to observe my daughter’s robot cleaner. She had it on a day-and-time schedule; I believe it ran every day. I wouldn’t be surprised, since I never saw one speck of dirt on floor or carpet during our visit. And that’s in a house with a four-year-old!

Oh, and did I mention that this little critter is smart enough to know when it’s finished and return to its charger base? The thing also has enough sense to back onto its base.

Boy, did that get me thinking. It normally takes me about an hour to vacuum our place. And that’s not counting cleaning the filter and emptying the whatever-you-call-it-where-the-dirt-goes-when-a-vacuum-is-bagless.

My wife and I discuss even some small purchases, and a robot like this–not the highest priced Roomba–would need a LOT of discussion. But I sowed the seed by showing great interest in the robot and complaining about my inability–okay, my unwillingness–to keep up with vacuuming as much as it’s needed.

When we got home, we barely talked about it. But by the end of the week we’d determined that the line item we have in the budget for home-related stuff could cover that purchase. Especially since we had a 20% Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon that could be used on this model. (It specifically excluded the more expensive models.)

I’m not sure why my wife was so agreeable to the purchase. Maybe she was just tired of waiting for me to vacuum. No matter what her motivation, however, I think she’s as thrilled with our new “pet” as I am.

Has some type of gadget attracted you so much that you considered getting it, even though it wasn’t an absolute necessity? Or are you still trying to justify such a purchase? How about sharing?

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

        

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A Perspective on History

When I was a kid, I sometimes played Civil War in the marshy area near my home. I’d lived in Virginia and North Carolina all but the first few months of my life, so of course I pretended to be a Confederate soldier. What else could I have been? Certainly not a Yankee!

I suppose I should be embarrassed about those memories. But at least I never would’ve approved of slavery or the mistreatment of any group of people. Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always done my best to view (and treat) everyone equally, and I’ve liked or disliked specific people for who they are as individuals, not what group they’re a part of.

America is suffering enough diverseness without glorifying  the tragic conflict between the North and the South.  No Confederate flags on my car or my house. Even though I have some genuine Confederate money, it’s in a drawer somewhere. Out of sight because it’s not relevant to my outlook .

Nonetheless, history is still history. Removing or destroying statues related to the War Between the States doesn’t change history or make the bad from the past go away. Not anymore than doing away with a Holocaust museum would bring back the millions of Jews Hitler put to death.

I’m thankful that Richmond’s Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are still in place. And intact. When I look at them again, as I did a couple of weeks ago, I think only of the fact that those men stood for what they believed was right. Not because I agree with them.

The Civil War happened, and it needs to be remembered. Perhaps memories of that event will help to prevent a future civil war.

I’m especially pleased that Richmond’s Museum of the Confederacy is now the Civil War Museum . I think that change helps to put history into a more realistic perspective without making any effort to alter or to glorify it.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

 

         

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Decorations – Now or Ever?

I don’t know what the stores are like where you live, but the ones at the mall down the road from us started decorating for Christmas before Halloween.

And not just decorating. Penny’s has a number of Christmas-themed products occupying prominent places on major aisles. Presents for pets. Santa-themed sleepwear. You name it, they’ve probably got it.

          

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked at seeing the decorating starting so early. Not when it’s been this way longer than I can remember.

The decorating is really ramping up now. The mall has placed two trees at the ends of mostly empty hallways. Soon they’ll hang the huge fresh-looking wreaths that require special equipment to reach high enough to put them in place. Santa’s chair and the related setting just appeared a day or two ago.

With “Black Friday” coming this week, I can understand the need to get everything ready for all the Christmas shoppers. This is the one time of year our mall doesn’t look dead.

I can recall helping decorate the Christmas tree when I was still living at home. My parents were very particular. I wasn’t to simply throw the icicles over the branches, but to drape them carefully, one by one. How tedious!

But also how effective. The extra care showed.

And that was in the days when the Christmas tree lights were a real pain. Some of you may recall the times when a strand wouldn’t light if one bulb had burned out. Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I’m not interested in doing much decorating now. Fortunately, neither is my wife.

Back when we had two cats–even when we got down to one–there was no way to safely have a Christmas tree on the floor. So we downsized from a nice pre-decorated tree to one we could put on the dining room table. We tried a Norfolk Island pine several years, but since we always managed to kill them eventually, we switched to a reusable tabletop-sized artificial tree.

It got in the way. Too many presents, I suppose. So now we don’t have  a tree at all. Kathleen puts up a few decorations every year, but nothing elaborate.

People might accuse us of being Scrooges, but I say, “Bah! Humbug!” to that accusation.

Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth. That’s the only thing that matters. And we don’t need decorations to do that.

Besides that, nothing can ever begin to match the original Bethlehem star.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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My Way…or His Way?

Some of you may be old enough to remember singer Frank Sinatra and the song “My Way.” I wasn’t a Sinatra fan, and that’s probably the only song of his I paid any attention to. Although he didn’t write the lyrics, they clearly represent his attitude and were apparently written specifically for him.

I can’t legally quote the lyrics–you can read them here–but he lived his life the way he chose. Yes, he had a few regrets, and he had his ups and downs. He didn’t claim that his life had been trouble-free, but he was proud of doing things his way and saying what he considered genuine and “not the words of one who kneels.”

I don’t know if Mr. Sinatra was a Christian, but I take his scoffing at “the words of one who kneels” as a suggestion that he was so self-dependent he didn’t feel the need to pray. Or to depend on God.

God gave each of us strengths to do as much as we can on our own, but He also allowed each of us to have enough weaknesses to keep us humble. Christians recognize their need for God’s help. Day in and day out. Moment by moment. We know where our strength comes from.

I have a few regrets, too, and most of them have resulted from doing–or attempting to do–things “my way” rather than “God’s Way.” Regrets like those could easily result in guilt.

But they don’t have to.

God is merciful and forgiving when we turn to Him in repentance.  How thankful I am that my regrets don’t bog me down unnecessarily. I can’t change the past, but I can certainly learn from it and continually strive to do better as I attempt to follow God’s Way more closely each and every day.

Frank Sinatra may be remembered as someone who did things his way. I’d rather be remembered as someone who at least tried to live his life God’s Way.

Whose way do you live your life? Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

    

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