Friday, June 30, 2006

Missed Opportunities

About two months ago, one of the Store Managers in my group decided to leave the company for another opportunity. The District Manager announced this to the group on a conference call on the last day of this Manager's employment. I called the District Manager after the call to ask him about his plans for replacing the departing Store Manager. I currently commute two hours each way five days a week, and the store with the newly-vacated position would put me a full hour closer to home, cutting my commute time in half. I was extremely disappointed to learn that my District Manager was already in the process of hiring a replacement for the departing Manager. "You could have moved me closer to home," I said. He replied, "I didn't realize that would be closer for you."

I felt slighted, disappointed, passed over, neglected -- a whole slew of emotions. I told him that I would be happy to consider one of three other stores that would put me considerably closer to home. "We'll see what happens with this new guy," he said, indicating that he might not work out and I might get the closer store after all.

A week later, while the District Manager was at my store for a visit, the newly-departed Manager called my store to speak with him. I answered the call. Jokingly, I said, "He's not going to let you come back." He answered, "I'm already back." When I asked where, he said he was at the same store he had been in before.

Last night I went to a meeting of five of the stores in my District. While there, I learned that another store in the market had an open Store Manager position. When I inquired about it, I learned that the Manager who had quit and returned just two months earlier was transferring to the now-vacant store. I also met the newly hired Manager to assume responsibility for his store.

Yes, I'm quite ticked off. I won't rant about it, though. I just needed to get it off my chest.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Fresh Clean Start

I have worn facial hair in some form or other since leaving the military thirteen years ago. Most often a goatee, but sometimes a full beard and, for a very short time, just a mustache. I wore a goatee when I met my wife eight years ago, and it was a shocker for her today when I shaved my face clean. Even though I told her it was coming. I guess she didn't believe me.

Lately, when kissing my little boy (2 years 9 months old) goodnight, he has pointed at my hairy chin and said, "Hurts real bad." Earlier today when I asked him for a kiss he turned his head and repeated, "Hurts real bad." Heartbroken, I was determined to put an end to that.

I came into the house when we got home, went straight to my bathroom while my wife fixed lunch, and shaved my face clean. When I next kissed my son, he said, "Feels better." That made me feel better, too.

My wife, on the other hand, hates it. She says I look funny without it because I have no upper lip. She says kissing me feels like she's kissing someone else. I guess you can't please everyone all the time.


President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060624.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "A line-item veto would give the President a way to insist on greater discipline in the budget. A line-item veto would reduce the incentive for Congress to spend wastefully because when lawmakers know their pet projects will be held up to public scrutiny, they will be less likely to suggest them in the first place. Most importantly, a line-item veto would benefit American taxpayers by ensuring greater respect for their hard-earned dollars."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wanting to Rant

I feel like there's a rant inside me, just waiting to get out, but I don't know what it is. Like I'd feel a little better if I could just go postal in writing. But I don't know what to go postal about. Does that make any sense? Does it sound terrible?

It does sound therapeutic, I'll say that much. I've been a little out of touch with the news over the past week, so there's nothing jumping out at me to rant about. Got any ideas? Email me.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060617.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "I traveled to Baghdad to personally show our Nation's commitment to a free Iraq, because it is vital for the Iraqi people to know with certainty that America will not abandon them after we have come this far. The challenges that remain in Iraq are serious. ... But our efforts in Iraq are well worth it, the mission is necessary for the security of our country, and we will succeed."

Friday, June 16, 2006

An Open Apology To My Wife

I've been a pretty bad guy, as husbands go. Oh, there are worse, of course (maybe not if you ask my wife), but I've been far worse than I ever intended to be.

You see, I lied. I have deceived my wife about some people that work in my store (I'm a Retail Manager). I have led her to believe that they are there much less often than they actually are, that they are never in the building when I am, and that they play very minor roles in the business.

In actuality, they are both full-time employees, and one is an Assistant Manager, and they are scheduled in the building sometimes when I am.

I did not lie for any real reason. There's nothing going on that a married man would need to cover up -- no relationship of any kind -- and there is no sane justification for my deception.

Quite simply, my wife would be (is) uncomfortable with me working around these people, and that's why I lied.

I guess I first lied to myself by thinking I could justify and carry on such deception. Then I committed the (hopefully not) unforgiveable sin of compromising my wife's trust in me by intentionally deceiving her. I told myself that I was sparing her the discomfort and preventing the inevitable arguments we would have had about it. I sacrificed what's important in the long run -- a happy, loving, trusting wife with a happy home life -- for what I thought was important now -- preventing small arguments.

That all probably sounds reasonable to a liar, and it did to me, too, for a while, but I'm here to say that there is never an acceptable reason to deceive the people you love. Thou shalt not lie, the Bible says. How about, Thou shalt not be a senseless, thoughtless fool.

To further complicate things, I did something similar before -- for the same foolish reasons -- and swore that I would never do it again. I kept my word, too, for a while.

Then I started a new job with a new company and was placed in a store two hours from home. When there were people here that I knew would create an uncomfortable situation, I worried. I knew that nothing inappropriate would happen, but I also knew that my beautiful wife would be uncomfortable about the situation and it could cause strains at home. So I downplayed the whole situation. And to add insult to injury, when my wife questioned me about it, I said, "You just need to trust me, I'm not lying to you." Another lie, but worse -- it made her feel like she was wrong to question me about it.

I struggled with this web of deceipt continuously, but you know what? It's not really about me, how I felt, or what I struggled with. I am totally unimportant right now.

It's all about the love of my life: the beautiful redhead, loving mother of two, intelligent and caring woman who stole my heart away eight years ago. It's all about the pain I caused her, and the trust I can only hope to regain someday. It's all about coming clean and being open with her. It's all about Why the heck did I do this to her, what was I thinking, and how in the world will I ever make it up to her?

I don't expect to fix the problem by voicing it here. This is really just a public atonement for this horrible sin I've committed against the woman I love. My only hope in sharing this here is that maybe my wife will see how sincerely sorry I am for what I did and how it hurt her. Maybe she'll see that I do understand that I've done wrong, that I know it hurt her, and that there is no describing how bad I feel for what I've done.

When I left the house for work this morning, my wife said, "I don't want to talk to you today. Don't call me." I wanted to cry. Even now I feel a terrible emptiness inside that only her voice can fill.

I deserve it. I deserve all of the anger and hate that she lashes out at me. I deserve the cold looks and the harsh words. I deserve so much more than that.

What I probably don't deserve is forgiveness. But I'm praying for it anyway. Not just forgiveness from God for the sin of lying, but also forgiveness from my wife for the sin of violating her trust. I don't expect it to come easily -- I don't know if it ever will come at all -- but I have never been more regretful for doing anything in the past than I am for deceiving the woman I love -- the woman around whom my world revolves.

I'm sorry, my love. Please, be graceful, and find it in your heart to forgive me. Somehow. Some day.

I love you.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day in the United States. Flag Day is a day for all Americans to celebrate and show respect for our flag, its designers and makers. I've heard people say that the flag is just an object and doesn't deserve any special recognition. Our flag is a symbol. And where would we be without symbols?

The almighty dollar is just a symbol of a gold standard that no longer exists. Yet we still exchange and measure wealth in how many dollars one possesses.

The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are just symbols of the freedom of our great nation. Yet without those great symbols, would we still be a territory of Mother England?

The cross is a symbol of Christ's sacrifice to save us from hell. Without that symbol, there would be no salvation.

Our flag is representative of our independence and our unity as a nation, under God, indivisible. Our flag has a proud and glorious history. It was at the lead of every battle fought by Americans. Many people have died protecting it. It even stands proudly on the surface of the moon.

As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our culture, our nation, and our flag. So raise the flag today and every day with pride!


Saturday, June 10, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

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In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "The killing of Zarqawi is an important victory in the global war on terror. ... There's still difficult work ahead in Iraq. Yet this week, the ideology of terror has suffered a severe blow. Al Qaida has lost its leader in Iraq, the Iraqi people have completed a democratic government that is determined to defend them, and freedom has achieved a great victory in the heart of the Middle East."

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

A Full Conversion

I'm making the final conversion -- away from Microsoft. More and more, there are suitable substitutes being released for the monopolistic software from Microsoft that has become the standard in so many ways.

A year ago I switched from Internet Explorer to Firefox. Firefox is faster, more secure, more feature-rich, and customizeable. And free.

On occasion, I use the Mozilla browser formerly known as Netscape (the current Netscape suite is fully redesigned) in addition to Firefox. For example, when I wish to access my personal Google account and my work account at the same time, I open one in Firefox and one in Mozilla browser. Cost: free.

A few months ago I switched from Outlook Express to Mozilla Thunderbird for email. Thunderbird, too, is more secure than its Microsoft counterpart. It also fully supports RSS feeds, providing the convenient feature of reading my email and RSS feeds in one application. Again, it's free.

Like most professionals, I use Microsoft Office applications -- Word, Excel, and occassionally Powerpoint -- at work. Naturally, I have my own personal copy at home so I can transfer files between home and the office. I also use Dataviz Documents To Go on my Palm PDA, which allows access to the same Word and Excel files wherever I go.

Last night I came home from work to learn that the Microsoft Office applications on my PC had become corrupted. I couldn't load Word or Excel, and even Adobe Acrobat Reader -- admittedly not a Microsoft application -- was corrupted as well. I tried to reinstall Office, but received an error that the installation program on the CD was invalid (it worked fine during the initial installation).

I updated and ran my antivirus software -- clean. I downloaded and reinstalled Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 successfully. I attempted to uninstall Office, but it was no longer listed in the Add/Remove Programs list, so I deleted the Office folder from the hard drive.

Finding no fix for the Microsoft Office issue, I gave up and looked for alternate solutions. In addition to Office, I have Lotus SmartSuite, and Corel WordPerfect Office installed on my PC. Both will open Word and Excel documents, but the Word documents I need to access don't format properly in these other programs.

I remembered that I recently downloaded Portable Abiword, a free word processor that will open and save in Word format, but again some formatting errors.

But I didn't give up there. To my great pleasure, Google, which has long been my search engine of choice, recently purchased internet startup Writely, a full-featured web-based word processor that is fully compatible with Microsoft Word, among other formats. I was a Writely member before the Google acquisition, and signing in again was effortless.

To make things even better, this week Google launched Google Spreadsheet, a dynamic Excel-compatible web-based spreadsheet program that is currently in limited trials. I requestd an invite and was quickly accepted.

I now can access Word and Excel files from any internet connected computer, even if Office isn't installed. And since my files can be stored on Google's servers, I never have to worry about leaving my disk at home. And best of all, they're both free.

Now if only the Google OS rumours were true, I could dump Windows and be Microsoft-free forever.


Tuesday, June 6, 2006


If you're reading this, the world has been saved once again -- consider yourself lucky. That's what the doomsday predictions would have you believe.

Today is June 6, 2006, or in the common date format, 6-6-06. If you want to get really creative with it, as so many people have done recently, you can drop the zero and record the date as 6-6-6. That's what so many apocalypse theorists have done. And why, you ask?

Let's go to the Bible, in the book of God's Revelation to John about the End Days (chapter 13, verse 18, GodsWord translation):
Let the person who has insight figure out the number of the beast, because it is a human number. The beast's number is 666.
And who is the beast? The Antichrist, none other than the the devil himself, indwelt in the body of man, to walk this Earth and deal death and destruction in the End Times.

The doomsayers among us have predicted tragedy for this date, calling for anything from the end of the world to the birth of the Antichrist himself. What more fitting day for the Antichrist to be born than on 6-6-6?

Obviously, though we can't be certain until the last time zone flips dates at midnight tonight, the end of the world theory has been debunked. You're reading this now, aren't you, so obviously the world is still spinning.

But what about this Antichrist bit? How can we ever know if the greatest evil has entered the world today (at 6:06:06 am, perhaps)? Superstitious expectant mothers throughout the world persuaded their doctors to induce labor yesterday to ensure that their babies wouldn't be born on this ominous date. But what of those babies who were (or will be) born today? Could one of them possibly be the Antichrist?

The experts in Bible study mostly agree that Christ will return for his people in an event known as the Rapture. This Rapture is believed to be immediately followed by a time of Tribulation that the Bible says will last for seven years. During this time of Tribulation, the Antichrist will rise in power to fulfill his part of prophecy.

Many Biblical scholars believe that the Antichrist will reach the pinnacle of his power at approximately the same age that Christ achieved renown during his physical time on Earth: thirty-three. It stands to reason, then, that if the Antichrist were born today, we could expect from twenty-six to thirty-three years of existence left, depending on how you measure the Antichrist's pinnacle of power.

But don't go preaching the end just yet. Again, let's look to the Bible (chapter 3, verse 3, The Message translation):
"I'll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night."
The birth of the man who will become the Antichrist will set into motion an unbreakable chain of events. If you are to believe that he will rise to power at the approximate age of thirty, you can plot out a course from his supposed birth today to the start of the Tribulation. This timeline would pinpoint the Rapture at the beginning of the Tribulation, some time between 2032 and 2039. While a seven-year stretch of time is still a little uncertain, God said (in the verse above) that he would return "when you least expect it." By definition, if we expect the Rapture to occur between 2032 and 2039, or any time near that, God Himself gas already told us that we're wrong.

The conclusion: any prediction of when the world might end, or when the Antichrist might be born, is patently incorrect.

For more information, read your Bible, or check out the Left Behind website. Better yet, find a good church.


Comments: Chaos in the Capitol posted 05-28-06

Recent comments received from a reader:
Average Joe,
In your posting on 05-28-06 you asked if the actions of the police was "Necessary precaution, or overkill?". I suggest that it was both.
Sir Robert Peel, widely regarded as the father of modern policing, said:
"The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence."
And that is exactly what modern policing was intended to be, and should be. However, over time the role of policing has been perverted and re-shaped. Much of the general public today see the police as the Enforcement Arm of the Government and the Protectors of Society. Most people do not view police as being a part of the public, but rather something outside the realm of the general public, in place to keep them safe and others in-line.
Police work has moved into a period where the police, rather than being a part of the public, instead must respond to the public needs and expectations. Most people view the police as an entirely different set of people, set in place to meet their needs and expectations for safety. This is why the same person will complain about reckless driving AND complain that he received a speeding ticket.
Further, the public has placed expectations on the police that they (police) will respond in certain ways during certain situations. If they respond too strongly, they are criticized. If they respond too weakly, they are criticized. There are even situations, such as Columbine, where the police were criticized for being both too weak (the immediate police response), and too strong (the later police response).
So, in the case about which you wrote on 05-28-06, I suggest that the response was indeed "overkill". The reality of the situation certainly did not call for such a strong response. However, at the same time it was a "necessary precaution", because the response was probably what was expected of the police by the public, given the totality of the situation (location, statement of the witness, etc.). Robert Peel also said, "No minister ever stood, or could stand, against public opinion." So the police must do what the public wants from them, whether it is right or not.
Remember, that "hammer mistaken for gun fire" was mistaken by the witness, not by the police. It was the police who figured out what the lady likely heard, and that it was not likely to have been gun fire.
After having read about, studied, and worked in law enforcement for over 20 years now, I am not very optimistic about the appropriateness of the direction in which we (both police and public) are headed. But, it is the direction that is mandated by the public. Therefore, it is the road that we must travel.

Average Joe's Average Brother
Okay, so the reader was my brother, who has a pretty extensive background in law enforcement, but that doesn't make the comments any less interesting.


Sunday, June 4, 2006

A Long Overdue Rant

Last week in the United States, we observed Memorial Day. Yes, that's why many of us had an extra day off with pay. If you aren't sure what the holiday was for, this is for you, and I strongly urge you to read on.

Memorial Day: more than just a holiday. That's right. From the late eighteenth century, when Colonial Soldiers fought for the independence that established this great land; the mid-nineteenth century, when the Blue and the Grey fought it out to preserve this great union; the early twentieth century, and the first great World War; the mid-twentieth century, when the Greatest Generation put the smack-down on Hitler and his Aryan dreams -- brave Americans have donned their country's uniform to fight for justice, defend freedom, and further the cause of democracy.

During World War Two -- as in many of these conflicts -- those in uniform were not the only ones among us to stand up and do their part. Each and every American joined in the cause, sacrificing something for the greater good. Gasoline and rubber were rationed to ensure adequate supplies for the fighting troops. As our great baseball heroes went off to fight, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League made sure that the game went on. Every American sacrificed and did their part.

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who fought -- risking or even giving their lives -- to ensure freedom for those remaining. It's a time to remember those non-military who did their part in support of the troops. It is so much more than just a paid day off.

But where are we today? With troops in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting to protect the world from tyranny, what have you done? Brave American men and women who volunteered to fight wherever, whenever, to defend America and the cause of freedom, have found themselves in this latest battle against tyranny. Did they choose it? No. But they're there because they enlisted to protect you and your freedom. They would be fighting here, on American soil, if that's where the need called them.

The point is, these brave troops are fighting -- whether they agree with the reason, or not -- because that's what they've sworn to do. What have you done?

America was thrust into World War Two by the gruesome attack on Pearl Harbor. Whether you believe Iraq and al-Quaida have any connection or not, it was the attacks of 9/11 that thrust us into the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Was Pearl Harbor any more tragic than 9/11? If not, why were Americans so much more supportive of the troops sixty years ago than today?

There seem to be more reports in the news of protests than anything else these days. What have you done? Have you shown your support of America's troops in any way? Or do you support those unpatriotic, thankless inhabitants of our country (they don't deserve to be called Americans) who have done everything they can to speak out against the troops and their current struggle?

It infuriates me to know that my generation is so outspoken against those who have sworn to serve. If World War Two was fought by the Greatest Generation, an appropriate enough label, then what generation are we?


Saturday, June 3, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060603.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society."

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