Thursday, August 31, 2006

Coming Soon: Remembering 9/11

Every generation has it's Day of Infamy. For my grandparents, it was Pearl Harbor. For my parents, the JFK assassination. For my generation, 9/11.

The fifth anniversary of that fateful day is just around the corner. Join me beginning the morning of 9/11 in a reminiscent look back on my thoughts as the tragic events of that day unfolded. I was on vacation and found myself glued in shock to the television day after day.

Do you remember where you were? Would you like to share your thoughts and memories of this dark day in American history? Email me your story. All submissions, if accepted, will be posted anonymously unless otherwise requested.

Let's remember the victims and heroes of 9/11 with honor and respect.


Wet Eyes

Tomorrow is my son's third birthday. We're taking him to the zoo. Every day he amazes me, just by being himself. I look at him and, all at the same time, I see the baby who gave us our first scare when he was only minutes old and it was discovered that there was a blood vessel absent from his umbilical cord; the little boy who learned to walk (before he could even stand) by walking across the living room floor from Mommy to Daddy and back again; the boy whose first word was "Daddy," and his second word was probably "ball;" the tiny toehead who loves to play trains, cars, do puzzles, camp in tents made of sheets and living room furniture, and splash in puddles every time it rains. I hear the boy who rattles off new words every day that his Mommy and Daddy never taught him; who, after crying, asks for his eyes to be dried by saying, "Wet eyes;" the boy who who has a remarkable memory and an uncanny ability to navigate on the Internet between PBS, Thomas and Friends, and an assortment of other kids websites like it's second nature to him. I see the me that I used to be, and the man that I hope he will someday be. I see all the reason I would ever need for living and being the best example of a good man, good father, and good husband.

I also see him growing so quickly that I wish kids were born with a brake pedal that allowed parents to slow down the growing process to something more enduring -- something that seems more measureable in years than light years. The past three years have soared by. My wife constantly says it's going by fast, while I try to be the tough guy who assures her that he'll always be our little boy. The truth is, it is going by too fast -- way too fast! It seems three weeks, not three years ago, that we made that rainy trip to the hospital to welcome our new bundle into the world.

It's raining today, exactly three years to the date from the midnight drive to Labor and Delivery. The weather is the same today as it was then, but that's the only thing that hasn't changed. Our little baby boy is now a big boy who can't seem to wait to be a man. He's growing so fast, and our love grows with him, and while we figure on at least another fifteen years of guiding, nurturing, and picking up after him, it somehow feels like an appointment penciled in on the calendar is rapidly drawing nigh. An appointment that, sadly, cannot be cancelled or postponed.

Happy Birthday, Son! And remember, there's no need to rush. Take all the time you need, because these -- the best days of our lives -- will be gone someday, never to be regained. We love you, Son!

Daddy and Mommy

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ungripe

Unable to find a site online last night where I can order a replacement charging jack for my PDA, I got an idea. I plugged the USB Sync Cable in overnight. There is no indication, and so far as I know no claim, that the USB cable provides a charge, but it must -- this morning my PDA was fully charged.

I had my backup PDA, an old Palm m105, out and ready to use in the meantime. I'm writing and posting this from that old PDA. But my trusty Zire 72 is in my pocket, ready to be pressed into service.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Daily Gripe #31 - Broken PDA

Talk about a gripe, this is the biggest gripe yet!

I've been having some difficutly getting my Palm Zire 72 to charge. I use it for everything, including making most of the posts here. Today, the center pin of the charging jack broke off, with the battery almost fully discharged. I can't recharge the battery, and I can't use it for anything because there's virtually no charge to the battery now.

I've looked online at several websites for replacement charging jacks, and it looks like I might have to buy a complete new motherboard. That's not as bad as it might sound, because a PDA motherboard is much less expensive than a computer motherboard, but it's bad enough.

For now, until I get some replies from some of the sites I contacted, I guess I'm PDA-less, and that really gripes me!


9/11 Special Events

I heard yesterday that CNN is having a special event for the fifth anniversary of 9/11. On their website, from 8:00 am Eastern until midnight on September 11, they'll be re-airing their actual broadcast from 9/11/2001 in real time. It's certain to be interesting, if you missed events as they unfolded on that fateful day.

I was on vacation, at home, and awoke to learn of the tragedy just moments after the first tower was struck. I sat glued to the television for days, and recorded many of my thoughts and several actual news reports. I'll be sharing those with Average Joe readers, also in real time. It's sure to be an interesting day.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060826.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "The federal government has conducted a thorough review of its response to natural disasters, and we're making reforms that will improve our response to future emergencies. With help from Congress, we have committed $110 billion to the recovery effort, and we are playing a vital role in helping people clear debris, repair and rebuild their homes, reopen their businesses and schools, and put their lives back together."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Daily Gripe #30 - At The Movies

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

Yesterday I took my three-year-old son to see Disney's animated movie Cars. It's only the third movie he's been to the theater to see. This time it was a father/son outing: Mommy stayed home with the baby.

First, let me say that my son was remarkably well-behaved for a three-year-old in a movie theater, especially considering the length of the movie (two full hours, including a cartoon short at the beginning). Not that I expected him to misbehave, but I think anyone with a toddler understands that that's always a possibility.

My gripe, actually, is with other people at the movie; the people in line in front of us; more specifically, a group of five adults. They were huddled together just outside of the theater and, as they saw me approach with my son, they apparently decided that they didn't want to get stuck in line behund us. They broke their huddle and rushed through the doors in front of us. Not a major problem, really, but rude nonetheless.

After purchasing tickets, we went to the snack counter for popcorn and a drink, where we were the one's stuck in line behind these five rude adults who bum-rushed the door as we approached. We had a very simple snack order, but apparently those who were in such a hurry to beat us into the theater had never been to one before, as they stood indecisively awestruck at the mounds of candy and popcorn before them. They just couldn't seem to figure out what they wanted from the display before them.

Meanwhile, my son and I waited quietly behind them, anxious to get our munchies and get into the movie. My son was probably more patient than I was. There were three people working the snack counter: one to take the order, one to prep the order, and one to take the money. All three of them were standing around waiting for this group of confused movie-goers to place their order. I kept looking over the huddled mass before me, hoping to catch the eye of one of the three employees so I could place my order and move on. It didn't happen.

When finally the rude five had received their orders and moved on, my son and I did the same. We were seated in the theater about half way through the Pixar cartoon short that precedes most Disney movies these days.

What really gripes me is that these five people, who were not in any hurry until we arrived, were so rude as to jump in front of a little boy who was obviously eager to see the movie, and to keep him waiting at the snack counter for five full minutes. Were they not children themselves before? Do they not understand how much more excited that three-year-old little boy was to see that movie? Have they never heard of women and children first? What ever happened to common courtesy? Like common sense, there is nothing common about courtesy.

To my son's credit, he was the perfect gentleman. More so than the grown men who kept him waiting.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Book Review: The Copper Scroll by Joel C. Rosenberg

Book Review
Since nobody knows when Jesus is going to return -- Jesus said even He didn't know; He said only His Father knew -- that would mean that Satan doesn't know either. Which means Satan has always had to be prepared for any eventuality. That means that for almost two thousand years, he's had to have at least one Antichrist on the earth, in position, ready to go, in every generation since the Resurrection. Which is why there have been so many evil dictators throughout history. So there has to be someone out there, right now, walking around the planet at this very minute. Waiting. Preparing. Plotting. It could be somebody you know.
Joel C. Rosenberg's newest tale, The Copper Scroll, takes an unexpected turn. Part four of the series that began with The Last Jihad, and continued in both The Last Days and The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll takes us back to the Middle East with Jon and Erin Bennett, as they try to uncover the mystery of the murder of a dear friend and former Mossad Chier as well as the mystery of the Copper Scroll.

Will they find the Key Scroll? Will the Key Scroll unlock the cryptic clues laid out in the Copper Scroll? Will it lead them to untold treasures from the first and second temple? Will it lead them to something even more fascinating? Or will it lead them to death?

Though not as compelling a read as it's three predecessors, The Copper Scroll is a must read for every fan of end times fiction or political thrillers. Rosenberg, a former advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, knows his stuff. He knows politics. He knows the Bible. He knows the Middle East. He weaves a talk unlike any you've imagined.

Read it!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Daily Gripe #29 - Haircuts and Stooges

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

I went to get a long overdue haircut today. It seems my haircuts are always long overdue. I don't know how often the average American man gets his hair cut, but for me it can sometimes be months. Not that I ever plan it that way. I just seem to have trouble finding the time to go to the barber.

Yes, I still use a barber. I think all men should use a barber. Salons and hair stylists are for women. Real men get their hair cuy by a real barber. And I think most men who go to a barber like to go to the same barber every time. You grow comfortable with him. He knows how you like your hair and cuts it just right every time.

That's the theory, anyway. But I'm just not sure anymore. My barber is a Methodist Minister who's been in the barber business for decades. He has his own shop where he cuts every head of hair himself, and he has always done a fine job. Until today.

I don't know if he's getting old, gets distracted easily, or is just losing his touch. Today when I left his shop I felt like Moe from the Three Stooges. A perfectly straight cut sat way too high on my forehead. That really gripes me! What do you do when that happens? You can't go to another barber to fix a haircut that's too short. There isn't much you can do with it at all. Wear a hat when you can, and hope it doesn't look too silly when you can't. And wait for it to grow out.

Fortunately for me, my hair grows quickly. I'll likely be in need of another haircut in two weeks. Then what? Find a new barber?

Finding a good barber is like finding a good church, or a good babysitter. You can search and search, but if you try out the wrong one, the results could be tragic.

Maybe I'll give mine another chance next time. Just one more shot at getting right. Because I'd rather have my hair messed up by my barber than by a stranger.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Daily Gripe #28 - Misnomers

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

Did you ever really listen closely to the English language? I mean really listen closely when people talk. We have a knack for assigning names to things that just don't make any sense. Or for not renaming something when the design,form, or use change so drastically that the old name no longer describes the item accurately. Misnomers, is what they are, and some of them really gripe me. Here's a sampling:
Glove Compartment: This is what got me on this kick in the first place. Driving into work this morning I noticed that I have a pair of gloves sitting on my dash. I've always known they were there, but I took special notice of them today. Why are they on they dash? Because the glove compartment is where we store fuses, and napkins, and maintenance records, and ketchup packages, and sunglasses, and everything else that lands in our hands as we drive down the highway. When was the last time you actually put gloves in the glove compartment? There is no room for gloves in the glove compartment.

Spare Tire: The dictionary defines spare as "more than is needed, desired, or required." There was a time long ago that cars were equipped with a fifth full size tire -- more than is needed or required to travel down the road. Today, in the age of cost- and space-saving initiatives, most cars are equipped with what is affectionately known as a do-nut: a rather small temporary tire with both speed and mileage limitations, intended only to get you to the nearest service center to repair or replace a flat. Most of these tires are labelled as temporary, but we still mistakenly refer to them as spares.

Cable News Network: Have you watched one of them lately? Sure, they have news, but so do the "big three" over-the-air networks. Most of the airtime on these so-called News Networks is devoted to talk programming, like Larry King Live, or Hannity and Colmes, and The Abrams Report. Do they talk about timely topics? Sure. But is it news? No way! It's more like talk radio that you can see.

Fire Department: No disrespect intended to Firefighters here, but the place where they work is terribly misnamed. When was the last time you saw a bunch of men in fire-retardant gear jump on the back of a big red truck and run off somewhere to start a fire? Never, I hope! Maybe we should call them the Extinguishing Corps, or better yet, the Bucket Brigade. But then, they don't really use buckets anymore, either.

Technical Support: This one is more of a paradox than a misnomer, but I had to include it. Have you ever called a computer company for technical support? How long did you wait? And did they really solve your problem? Or did they just have you repeat everything you already tried for forty-five minutes before telling you to box it up and take it in for service? Some computer companies provide great support, but with consumers demanding constantly lower prices, we most often see the cost savings hit us in the warranty and technical support. Doesn't that gripe you?

Monday, August 21, 2006

The World According to Joe

Ever wonder who reads Average Joe American? Have a look for yourself at some recent visitors.


The Daily Gripe #27 - Pricing Disparity

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

I gripe about the price of gasoline quite a bit, don't I? It may have something to with the fact that I spend more money on gasoline in a month than on electricity, water, heat, and cable combined. I spend more money on gasoline in a month than on food. And it just really gripes me to give so much of my money to these price-gouging, profit-hoarding oil companies, especially when I see what I saw yesterday.

We drove from Indiana to Ohio to see my family and take my pug (whom I miss terribly still) to live with my father. When I left work on Saturday evening in Indiana, I paid $2.919 per gallon of gasoline to fill up the car. It seemed like a bargain to get it for less than $3. When I left Ohio on Sunday to return home to Indiana, I filled up in Ohio for $2.559 per gallon. That's a difference of thirty-six cents a gallon, at gas stations less than two-hundred miles apart. When I arrived back home in Indiana, the price had dropped two cents to $2.899.

I want to know two things:
1- How do they justify such disparity in pricing?
2- When will the madness end?
The oil industry has a stranglehold on the American motorist! You can tell me that the local station doesn't make anything on selling the gasoline itself, but that just means that it's not just the consumer being plundered, but also the retailer, and it's the supplier -- the oil companies -- doing the plundering! Time for another Boston Tea Party?


President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060819.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "This week I met with my national security, counterterrorism, and economic teams. We've set clear goals: We will defeat the terrorists and expand freedom across the world, we'll protect the American homeland and work tirelessly to prevent attacks on our country, and we will continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America and build a more prosperous future for all our citizens."
Sorry this one's a little late getting posted. I was out of town and away from an Internet connection most of the weekend.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Daily Gripe #26 - Goodbye To A Friend

Four years ago, my wife and I adopted a three-year-old pug. Wow, has it been four years already? Time sure flies! Since then we've had two children, bringing our family to two adults, two children, and two dogs (we have a Dalmatian, as well).

Things can be quite hectic in a small house with so many little ones (dogs and children) running and crawling around. It can be quite difficult to get anything done that doesn't quickly become undone. Our Dalmatian is constantly getting into everything: the trash, anything left out in the kitchen -- you name it. Our three-year-old son leaves his toys scattered throughout the house and has to be bribed or threatened to pick them up. The pug is always trying to take away whatever snack my son might have at the time. And our three-month-old daughter demands constant attention. I'm not much help, either, I'm sure. Being gone for work seventy hours a week leaves me precious little time at home, and I don't usually want to spend that time helping with household chores. I'm trying to improve: washing dishes every night, picking up toys, doing whatever else I can to help. It can be quite a madhouse around here.

After much thought and consideration, we've decided that we have to make a change. After weighing all the options, I've decided that I'm not going anywhere. And we could never get rid of the kids. That means that I have to keep my wife around: someone has to look after the kids while I'm at work. Having narrowed the choices down to the two dogs, we had to make a final decision.

Could we ever let go of one of the dogs? They were both like children to us before our kids came along. If we did let one go, which one? And who would take it? Who would want to adopt the dog that we could trust to take good care of it? The first decision was that life in this little house would be so much easier without two dogs. But which one stays and which one goes?

We've had the Dalmatian for six years, since she was just six weeks old. She's actually my wife's dog, and my wife had to give up two Dalmatians before because she wasn't allowed to keep them in the apartment building she lived in at the time.

We've had the pug for four years. He's my dog, and we looked everywhere for a pug to adopt when we found him.

Both dogs are very loving and very loyal. We love them both very much. But I'm the father. I'm the sacrificer in the family. I could never ask my wife to give up her dog again.

Which is why we started looking for a good home to adopt my pug. As much as I understand the situation, and reluctantly agree with it, it really gripes me to have to get rid of my pug.

My wife put a notice on several local sites online and sent out emails to friends and family. Several people responded, but none of them made me feel any better about losing my dog. Until my sister called me yesterday and said she had found a home.

Today, we will be driving to Ohio to take our beloved pug to his new home. It's a familiar home, with a loving family. It's a home where we won't actually have to say "goodbye." It's my father's home.

My dad has agreed to adopt my pug. He will give him a good home, with lots of love, and I can go see him any time I want. I feel some relief at this sad time to know that my pug will be in good hands, and always a phone call away.


Friday, August 18, 2006

The Daily Gripe #25 - Unexpected Expletives!

I listen to lots of podcasts as I make my daily four hour commute (two hours each way). Often, I'll share those that I really enjoy here. The RSS Feeds for some of my favorites can be found at:
- NBC Nightly News
- Focus on the Family
- This Week in Tech (TWiT)
- The Daily Giz Wiz
- Cranky Geeks
Until today, The Geekcast used to be counted among those favorites. I don't include a link to the site or RSS Feed here because I can no longer recommend The Geekcast. The Geekcast is a technology news, reviews, and how-to's kind of podcast that, though heavily Apple-laden, does touch on several other areas in the tech industry. I have enjoyed The Geekcast for several months.

Today I was listening to episode 104 on my drive home from work. Aaron Crocco, host of The Geekcast, was talking about a lawsuit that the RIAA recently dropped because the target of the suit passed away. The RIAA's original response was to suspend the settlement proceedings for sixty days to allow the family time to grieve. They then planned to resume settlement proceedings against the deceased's estate. They have since decided, due to their "abundance of sensitivity," to drop the suit altogether. On the The Geekcast, Aaron Crocco was clearly unhappy that the RIAA had originally intended to continue proceedings against the estate in sixty days. With a very brief warning of, "This is not work safe, so you may want to turn the volume down," Crocco went into a short tirade of expletives about the RIAA and their actions. Inappropriate expletives that I personally don't care to listen to on my drive home. That really gripes me!

The Geekcast host is not the only podcaster to be angry about the RIAA's recent rash of lawsuits against illegal music downloaders. I've heard the same complaints on TWiT, Cnet, and others. But what I didn't hear on those other podcasts was the type of offensive language that came blaring out of my stereo speakers so unexpectedly today. It's one thing to have an opinion, and it's even okay to voice that opinion. But I find it unacceptable to voice one's opinion using such language. Yes, this is America, and we have the right to free speech, but as a podcaster (essentially an Internet broadcaster), I feel that Aaron Crocco has the responsibility to speak professionally and with respect for his listeners.

After all, the target of the RIAA lawsuit did commit a crime, or rather, allowed his step-son to commit a crime using his computer equipment. Whether you agree with the law or not, as Americans we are still bound to obey the law or pay the penalty for violating it. I think it's great that the RIAA has decided to drop the suit in question. It's one less thing for the family of the deceased to have to worry about during their time of grieving.

I don't think it's such a great thing to spout such unexpected profanity over such a petty issue, especially considering that the RIAA did indeed drop the legal action. I have discontinued my subscription to The Geekcast, and suggest that any Average Joe readers who are subscribed do the same.



Sometimes I think I can get so caught up in the mundane tasks of daily life; the pressure to meet deadlines at work; the constant stress of just trying to make ends meet -- I get so bogged down with life sometimes that I know I don't always show my wife how much I love and appreciate her. It is, sadly, an easy thing to do, forgetting to adequately express to someone how much we value them. And it's always those people whom we hold most dear that we so easily take for granted.

Think about it:
- How many times a day do you say Thank You to someone while at work?
- At a restaurant, you thank the waiter for bringing your order, getting a drink refill, even giving you back your change in a manner that makes it easy for you to tip.
- When was the last time you walked into a building and thanked a complete stranger for holding the door for you? Or maybe you held the door for the stranger.
Now, being completely honest with yourself, give it just a little more thought:
- How long has it been since you told someone how wonderful your spouse is? Maybe he's a great husband, or she's a wonderful mother.
- Did you thank your wife for fixing supper for the family last night? Or your husband for cutting the grass last Sunday?
- When was the last time you thanked your spouse for opening the door for you? Or held the door open for him or her?
If it's just being polite when we do these things for people we've never met, what is it when we don't do them for those whom we love the most? It's unacceptable, and I'd venture a bet that if you're reading this, you're as guilty of such oversight as I am.

To my wonderful wife, I apologize. You are the most beautiful woman in the world to me and more important than life itself. You are an exceptional mother, a great cook, and a reliable friend. Thank you for cooking, cleaning, and raising our two precious children. Thank you for caring, sharing, and giving. Thank you for loving me.

Now's your chance, readers. Go tell that special someone just how special he or she is. And don't wait so long next time!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Read Ted?

Click to Download a Free Graphic Novel IntroductionIf you haven't downloaded and read the graphic introduction to Ted Dekker's new novel, Saint already, you should check it out. I just read this intro, and I've read all of Dekker's books, and this looks to be the best one yet.

Download it. Read it. Then sign up to get a $10.00 discount when the novel is released in September. When signing up, enter Guard# FG7SX2 to tell 'em Joe sent you.

The Daily Gripe #24 - Gripin' Out Loud

Click here to play Audio Post

A special audio gripe today, posted by cell phone. I apologize in advance for the sound quality. Sometimes I just feel so passionate about a gripe that the written word isn't good enough. Sometimes I just need to gripe out loud. Click to listen, or download to your .mp3 player.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Daily Gripe #23 - Potpourri

No, really, I don't have any gripes about potpourri. I mean, I think it's basically useless and does nothing but cause a mess when it gets knocked over and spilled onto the carpet. But this gripe isn't about potpourri, at all. This gripe is about a little bit of everything, which is why I call it "potpourri."

Water Damage
When I rolled my car almost two weeks ago, everything that was in the front passenger seat was ejected from the car and ended up in the ditch. I gathered it all up while I was waiting for the Police to arrive (which is how I got my only injury from the accident, a piece of glass in my thumb). One of the items to be tossed into the rain was a soft covered library book. Not the paperback style, but the larger soft covered variety that sells for about twice the cost of a paperback book. I brought it home and dried it out, and you can tell that it got wet. I wouldn't call the damage that extensive, and the book is certainly still fully readable, but it does have a bit of water damage.

Today we went to the library book, where I presented the book to the librarian on duty, along with my story. With hardly even a glance at the book to determine the extent of the damage, she hastily looked up some numbers on her computer and said, "It's twelve ninety-nine, or you could buy another copy to replace it, but it would have to be a new copy." I was silent, but my wife was livid. I didn't want to cause a scene in the library, but she wanted to speak her mind.

See, we once were Friends of the Library, which is a group of cardholding citizens who do things to support the library. We were members a few years ago before we moved out of town and just never rejoined when we moved back. Also, I have a very hard time throwing out books after reading them. We have donated hundreds of dollars in books to the library over the years. This, of course, is why my wife got so upset over $12.99. I don't blame her, really. It gripes me, too. I just didn't want to cause a scene in the library. I renewed the book and will probably take it to another branch of the library, probably the main branch, and see what they have to say.
License Branch
We went to the license branch today to transfer the plates from the car I wrecked to my new car, and to pay the sales tax on the new car. I don't really have much to gripe over about the visit to the license branch, except that we were there for an hour! On the BMV's website, it says the average wait at our local license branch is thirty-nine minutes. We were there for nearly twice that. Of course, our visit wasn't average at all. There were people who came in after us that were called and served before us. This, of course, really gripes me! I know of no justifiable reason for this to happen. Unless by some cruel twist of fate we were specially chosen to be guinea pigs for the latest trainee, who I'm not so sure will have a long and lucrative career at the license branch. After she went out to my car to verify the VIN against the title, she asked me what color the car is. After I answered, the employee training her said, "Remember, we just went out to the car?" There's some great powers of observation for you!
Mothers-in-Law (Again)
I won't go too deeply into this one. I went off on a major rant about it just last week. But my thoughtless, annoying mother-in-law made another of her thoughtless, non-caring remarks to my wife yesterday. If I gave all the details, you'd agree that it sounds as if she was trying to tick my wife off. I don't know about my wife, but she definitely ticked me off! I told my wife that right now I don't really care if I never see her mother again. I just wish she'd try to get away with one of those remarks to me instead of saving them up for my wife when she's alone! She really gripes me!!!
I guess that's all I've got for you tonight. I could probably go on forever, but then neither of us would get any sleep, would we? And I don't know about you, but I have to get up pretty darn early in the morning!

Got any gripes of your own you'd like to share with the Average Joe readers? Send me an email, or use the comment button below, and maybe I'll post your gripe on the site.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What? Me Gripe? Never!

Click to Download a Free Graphic Novel IntroductionIt was a beautiful August summer day in Indiana today. Not too hot, not too cold. No rain. Just the kind of day you like to cruise with the windows down. Would you believe that, though I could probably think of something to gripe about, I just don't feel like griping today? Why don't you take a break from the gripes, and if you need something interesting to read, check this out!


Monday, August 14, 2006

Saint: A New Novel by Ted Dekker

Click to Download a Free Graphic Novel Introduction
Carl Strople is an assassin with unusual telekinetic gifts. He's been kidnapped, taken into hiding, and had his memory wiped out over a ten-month period of intense training and torture. With a new set of memories and developing skills, he is being molded into a killer for an extraordinary mission. Saint . . . he's not who you think he is. Or perhaps even who he thinks he is.
Be one of the first to get a glimpse into Ted Dekker's upcoming thriller, Saint. Download a FREE Introduction today!

And tell 'em Joe sent you.

The Daily Gripe #22 - Stir Sticks

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

Yesterday my wife and I drove to Indianapolis. On the way, I had the urge for a tall, hot coffee, so we stopped at a Thornton's gas station.

Now this may seem petty, but I class this with a group of irritants that I like to call the "Somebody Wasn't Thinking" gripes. Okay, I just made that up, but you'll see what I mean soon enough.

I don't drink my coffee black. I like to add a little sugar so it tastes just a little better than used dish water. I grabbed a thirty-two ounce disposable coffee cup and, like most people would do, I filled it up with coffee. Then I tore open a couple of sugar packets and poured them in. I'm a sugar man -- no artificial sweetener for me. That just makes coffee taste like last night's used dish water.

As I dumped my trash in the receptacle, I looked for a stirrer to mix my sugar into the coffee. They never seem to make these things easy to find. In this case, they happened to be disguised as miniature straws, each individually wrapped. I tore free the paper wrapping, plunged the stirrer into my hot coffee, began stirring, and burned my fingers! This thing was at least two inches too short to reach the bottom of the cup, which was where all of the sugar had settled to by the time I found the stealth stirrers. That really gripes me!

Do they think only people who like their coffee black buy the large cups? They certainly can't expect you to stir while you add creme and/or sugar with as well as they have hidden the stirrers. You'd think with the huge profits the oil companies have been leaching from us since 9/11 that they could afford to buy stirrers just two inches longer. Or real spoons, for that matter.

Instead, I poured some of the coffee from my cup, stirred again, then nursed my poor fingers back to health as we made our way down the highway.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Daily Gripe #21 - The Longest Night

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

We have a toddler and an infant in the house. A three-year-old and a three-month-old. My daughter has slept through the night only twice in her short little time with us so far. Twice. It's been more than three months since my wife and I have gone to sleep and not awakened until morning.

Last night my wife fed and put our daughter down to sleep at 8:00. My son went to sleep about 8:30. My wife went to sleep around 10:30, and I went to the living room to read.

Midnight. I realized I had fallen asleep on the couch when I was awakened by the quiet beginnings of my daughter's crying in the next room. She wanted her pacifier, I figured, so I jumped up from the couch and came to the rescue. Twice, because she popped it right back out of her mouth the first time.

One Fifteen. I was still sleeping on the couch in case my daughter needed anything. She did. Her (this time) high pitched wail violently extracted me from sleep like a Dentist does a wisdom tooth. She usually doesn't wake up hungry in the middle of the night anymore, so I tried the pacifier trick again. And again. And again. Then my wife came stomping in from our bedroom down the hall to take over. Both of us tired and neither wanting to be awake at the moment, we both lost a brief spat over who would feed her. My wife tried to nurse her while I -- half asleep (and not the good half) -- tried to warm a bottle of formula. At my wife's subtle (wink, nod) urging, I finally decided to make a fresh bottle, then sat on the couch next to her as she fed my daughter. Sometime that felt like three days later, we were going back to sleep.

Four thirty. Again? She can't be hungry again! That was my reasoning as I tried to calm my crying daughter and settle her into her swing to sleep just a little bit longer. My wife, hearing the commotion over the baby monitor, came stomping in once again. She doesn't normally stomp, only when she's unhappy about being awake in the middle of the night. I think it's a red head temper thing. Like a T-Rex. As she shakes up another bottle of formula, I realize that it must be my turn this time. I sit on the couch and feed my daughter again -- it's been a quite some time since she's fed twice in one night -- as my wife returns to bed. After a burp -- my daughter, not me -- I return her to her swing and myself to the couch for another stab at sleep.

Six Thirty. From down the hall, another cry nudges me from my sleep like a freight train. My son. I jumped from the couch (literally) and ran (again, literally) to investigate. My son has developed a twelve-step program to avoid going to sleep at night, but once asleep he's usually down for the night. This time, he was down even further -- on the floor. He had fallen from his bed and bumped his head. A more rude awakening than my own, I admit. My wife had reached him first and was trying to soothe him when I arrived. Switching quickly from Emergency Mode to Daddy Mode, I picked my son up, joked with him a little, and carried him back to bed. "Wipe eyes," he asked me, and I dried the tears from his eyes with my shirt tail. My daughter, thankfully, slept through the alarm, and my wife returned to sleep.

Seven Ten. That would be right now (though I'll post this after everyone else is awake), and I'm writing this on my Palm Pilot on the couch. My daughter slumbers happily in the swing across the room. My wife and son are both sound asleep in bed. I'm on the couch wide awake. The sun is starting to come up.

I feel like I've had no sleep at all, which is the part that really gripes me. Everything else? Well, that's just part of being a Daddy, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. Do you think it's too early to mow the lawn?


Saturday, August 12, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060812.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "This week, America received a stark reminder that terrorists are still plotting attacks to kill our people. ... We're dealing with a new enemy that uses new means of attack and new methods to communicate. This week's events demonstrate the vital importance of ensuring that our intelligence and law enforcement personnel have all the tools they need to track down the terrorists, and prevent attacks on our country."

The Daily Gripe #20 - The Crown is Down

This week it was announced that the observation deck in the crown of the Statue of Liberty has been closed permanently. Since 9/11, visitors to Lady Liberty have been denied access to the crown's observation deck, but it was believed that this attraction would some day be restored. Now it's official: thanks to radical islamic extremists (and I did not capitalize the letter I in "islam" because I believe these extremists are not practicing the religion, but rather exploiting it) -- thanks to radical islamic extremists who believe the only way they can get to Heaven (or their version of it) is by martyring themselves by murdering Americans, my children will never see the world from the crown of the great symbol of Freedom.

Forevermore, the highest a tourist can go in the Statue of Liberty is the feet! That really gripes me! This great country called America stands for something, and that statue is a symbol of what we stand for, and allowing these, the lowliest of the Human race, to alter such an integral part of our history, is a travesty!

I understand some things have to be sacrificed in the name of safety. But at what point does the sacrifice become greater than the benefit? At some point we must sacrifice safety for principle. At some point we must sacrifice security to stand together as the Great Nation that we are and show these islamic extremists -- THE TRUE INFIDELS -- that they have no impact on our lives and our way of life unless we allow them to have an impact.

As Patrick Henry said on March 23, 1775,
"Give me Liberty or give me death!"
I say, don't take away Lady Liberty!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Daily Gripe #19 - It's Not Over, America!

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

It's been another fine day in the middle of Indiana's corn country. Nothing major to gripe about besides the rain -- and man did it rain!

We went to Indianapolis today to pick up a new vehicle. I have now returned my wife's gas guzzling SUV to her, and I must say that I'm glad to be rid of it. I put a thousand miles on it over the past week, and spent a bundle on gasoline. It'll be nice to spend a little less time at the pumps for a while.

I guess there is a gripe for today, and it's been all over the news: another terror plot against the U.S. has been discovered, and foiled, thanks to our staunchest allies, the Brits. And so close to the anniversary of 9/11.

It's not over, America. There is a real reason that we're fighting a war in Iraq. Whether you believe invading Iraq was necessary or could have been avoided, we were attacked some five years ago, unprovoked and unjustified by any measure! A swift decisive response was required, and I, for one, support President Bush and our troops fighting to put an end to the kind of cowardice that was uncovered today by our brothers across the pond. Like it or not, we are at war, and that war was brought to us. We have only two choices: fight first and win, or stand down and die. Would you rather die for freedom, or tyranny? It really gripes me that so many spineless Americans (and others) would rather bow to terrorism than stomp it out. If you're one of those without a spine, maybe should click on out of here and over to Oz and ask The Wizard for a spine!


Wednesday, August 9, 2006

No Gripes Today

Would you believe I don't have anything to gripe about today? Just a few thoughts and notes, but no real gripes.

This morning I drove to work at the same time as usual: "Oh Dark Thirty," as we said in the Army. And it rained. And I drove to work in the rain. I drove to work in the rain this morning for the first time since my accident (in the rain) one week ago yesterday. And I did it in the dark. It was kind of an eerie feeling, really. I was driving my wife's car, which is an SUV, bigger, boxier, and poorer handling than the Ford Focus I slid off the road in last week. Signs haunted me for most of my drive, at least until the sun started to peek over the horizon and shed a little light over the road that lay before me. Sharp turn signs. Icy bridge signs (luckily not a threat in Indiana in August). Deer Crossing signs (always a threat in Indiana). I must say it was probably the most cautious I've been making this drive over the past two years. It's funny what a little shake-up will do to you. Maybe I've learned my lesson. Though I've been thinking about the cause of the accident, and I think it was less a result of my speed and the road conditions and more a result of the condition of the back tires on my car. I had brand new tires on the front of the car, and have been in need of new tires on the rear, as well. I intended to get new rear tires before winter. I guess I didn't think I'd encounter any treacherously slick roads over the summer. Again, I learned my lesson.

Things will hopefully be back to normal soon. I hope to have a new car soon, so my wife won't be stranded at home anymore and I won't be paying $25 a day to put gas in her SUV just to get to work and back. It'll be nice to be back to normal.


Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The Daily Gripe #18 - Negativity

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

It's very easy to gripe and complain, gripe and complain, fussing over every little thing that happens in a day. Sometimes we tend to lose sight of the positive and good things that happen in our daily lives.

I started The Daily Gripe to let off a little steam, hone some writing skills, entertain my readers, and just share a little bit of the events of my day. But I don't want to let myself fall into the trap of negativity. Many positive things have happened in my life lately:
1) My beautiful wife delivered a beautiful, healthy daughter just three months ago. Both are doing quite well.
2) Sales at my store have been on the increase for several months. We are on our longest streak of sales increases in two years. Knock on wood.
3) I survived what could easily have been a fatal car accident with no injuries to speak of.
4) The towing company that pulled my car out of the ditch was very good to me on the charges, and I brought the car home today.
I could easily go on, but those are the major events worth mentioning.

So it isn't all bad, even when it seems that Murphy's Law has become a Constitutional amendment. Too many people only ever focus on the negatives. That really gripes me!


Monday, August 7, 2006

The Daily Gripe #17 - Mothers-In-Law

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

Sometimes it seems there is so very much to gripe about. Bills, taxes, gas prices, insurance, politics, you name it. Last week I threw a few extras into the mix: medical insurance coverage, auto accidents, just to name a few. And one of my regular gripes became increasingly gripe-worthy as the week progressed. Today: mothers-in law.

Actually, in-laws in general, with a special focus specifically on mothers-in-law.

My mother-in-law is a huge busy body. She has to know everything about everybody at all times. I've been looking at job postings for quite some time trying to find something suitable that's closer to home. My wife was speaking about that with her mother and mentioned providing my salary requirements with my resume. Her mother asked, "And what is his requirement?" Really! I mean, come on, she really expected my wife to discuss with her how much I make or would hope to make in another job? That really gripes me!

But wait, there's more. My mother-in-law can be a real doozie? If you think Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond is bad, you should me my mother-in-law. She is the most materialistic, judgemental person I have ever met! It's all about the show with her. Appearance is king, even in the little things. For example, we went to our neice's birthday party yesterday at a bowling alley. Gifts were opened after a couple hours of bowling. My mother-in-law is so obsessed with always having the best presentation, that she individually wrapped five small gifts (it looks like she's giving more that way) in solid colored wrapping paper: some red and some blue. Then she stacked them in alternating colors: blue, red, blue, red, blue. She actually premeditated this arrangement, because the gifts were stacked smallest to largest in alternating colors with a red ribbon resting on the blue package on top. And when my neice grabbed the stack to start opening gifts, my mother-in-law stopped her long enough to straighten the packages for a picture and said, "These are supposed to be in the center." That really gripes me!

What else can I say? Just you wait.

A few years back my wife and I were relocated to Kentucky by my then-employer. After less than a year we were unhappy and were ready to move back to Indiana. I looked for transfer opportunities within the company and at job listings on the major Internet job sites. At one point my mother-in-law was so concerned about how a certain job might appear that she said, "Oh I hope he doesn't get that." She talked of wanting her daughter to move back into town, but not if it meant she would feel embarrassed about her son-in-law's job. That really gripes me!

Last week, I wrecked my car. Totalled it. You've probably heard the story. My mother-in-law was the one to tell my wife what happened because she was the only one I could reach by phone after it happened. Since then, any time my wife mentions the accident (and sometimes when she doesn't), my mother-in-law's first question is, "What kind of car is he going to get next?" Why is she concerned with what kind of car I get? Because of how it will look. Today she said to my wife, "I hope he gets a new car soon so you can come over again. I feel like I'm not going to see much of you for quite a while." Amazingly enough, the drive from her house to ours is the exact same distance as the drive from our house to hers! We're fifteen minutes apart! She could drive to us as easily -- more easily considering she doesn't have two kids to load up in the car -- as my wife going there. Ah, but then she might get her new car dirty. She won't go anywhere in the rain because she's afraid it'll spot. That really gripes me!

I could go on, and on, and on, but I think you get the picture.


Sunday, August 6, 2006

The Daily Gripe #16 - Medical Insurance

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

In March I wrote about how terrible the vision coverage in my employer's medical insurance is. This past week I learned a lesson that at least the medical portion of the plan is no better.

At my wife's urging, I finally decided to have some moles removed. I don't currently have a Primary Care Physician because I was completely unimpressed by his people skills. My mother-in-law recommended a Dermatologist who had done similar work for her. I called the Dermatologist to make an appointment. My insurance plan doesn't require a referral for such treatment, but this Doctor requires a referral to accept new patients. Not having a primary Doctor, I had no one to get the referral from.

My insurance company provided me the name of the only other in-network Dermatologist within fifty miles of my home. He was accepting new patients, but had no appointments available until March 2007!

I filed a complaint with my insurance provider about the first Doctor's unendorsed referral requirement and asked about my other options. I was told I could have an out-of-network Doctor request an exception to treat me at in-network rates. I found a Doctor and asked him to submit the request. I was supposed to receive the decision by mail within seven to ten days.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Frustrated, I called the Doctor who submitted the request. I was told that the insurance provider told him that he was already in-network (after having told me he wasn't). I called the insurance provider for clarification, and was again told that the Doctor was not in-network. I was told I could request a "non-par review," apparently another method of reviewing non-participating Doctors for in-network coverage. First I was told the Doctor had to submit the request. After some expression of my frustration, I was permitted to submit the request, and was promised a decision by mail in ten to fifteen days.

Again, I waited.

And waited.

And waited, and waited, and waited.

Notification came by phone last week. DENIED! Why? Because I can use out-of-network benefits and because there are two providers in my area who are in-network. The same two providers who are unwilling to see me without a referral or unable to see me for eight months. That really gripes me!

I'm trying to have a minor elective treatment that will help to prolong my good health, and I'm effectively being denied treatment by the very Doctors and insurance provider who are supposed to enable my health care!

Yesterday I received my notice by mail. I have the right to appeal. I have fifteen days. I wonder if they'd like it if I keep them waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.


Saturday, August 5, 2006

The Road to Recovery

Today, I finally found the location where I crashed my car on Thursday. It helped that I finally realized exactly how the accident happened. I originally thought I had slid sideways into the ditch on the northbound side of the road I was travelling (northbound). In fact, I spun 270 degrees, slid across the oncoming southbound lane, and into the ditch on the opposite side of the road from where I was travelling.

I stopped at the site on my way home from work tonight, took a couple of pictures, and looked around to see what was left behind. I found the glass from the passenger's door window, parts of both broken taillights, and several marks in the dirt from where the card slid, tumbled, and landed.

I even got another look at the view from my windshield after the crash (minus the torrential downpour, of course). It was on my drive to work this morning that I recognized the location for the first time. I couldn't find it at all yesterday. It was kind of eerie this morning as I approached the curve. For the briefest moment, I experienced going into the slide again as if it was the first time. Not literally, but in my mind. I could see the rain falling hard and feel the back tires slide out from under me. It was almost more of a scare than it was when it actually happened on Thursday.

I keep telling my wife that I can't wait to get this put so far behind us that it's just a distant memory. I dug the small piece of glass out of my thumb today, as well. I'd say I'm on the road to recovery.


President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20060805.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "Rational and comprehensive immigration reform must begin with border security, and we have more to do. So I've asked Congress to fund dramatic increases in manpower and technology for the Border Patrol. We will add 6,000 new Border Patrol agents. ... By deploying 21st century technologies, we will make our Border Patrol agents even more effective and our border more secure."

The Daily Gripe #15 - Red Heads

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

I married a red head. If you've ever known a red head, you know the kinds of things we lovers of red heads endure.

My wife, sometimes, seems to get upset and stressed out over the smallest little things. I mean, major league stress over tee ball things. And, being a red head, she can have a pretty fiery temper.

As a child I once was listening to an old time radio show on a cassette tape. It was a murder mystery, and the narrator quoted what he described as an old adage: Beware the girl with the fiery red hair. A man is safer in the electric chair. I now know how right he was.

My mom was a red head -- and her mom, and her's as well. You'd think I was well trained for life with a red head. I used to think so. But I'm not so sure anymore.

My wife sometimes gets so angry - frustrated - upset - stressed - whatever that she acts out I think before she realizes what she's doing.

Earlier this week she broke a bowl and a glass on the floor and sent sour cream flying across the kitchen. It's a long story I won't go into, and it doesn't get that extreme very often (I can think of one other time in eight years), but when she gets upset enough it's like being in a battle zone with no armor.

My mother was once given very poor service at a dry cleaner. She tried to explain to them how they had messed something up, but they were not prepared to take responsibility for their actions. My mom stormed out of that establishment, the last words from her mouth being, "I hope this place burns to the ground!" It did, that very night, and my mom had nothing to do with the cause. True story.

I guess my gripe today is that my wife allows so many small, inconsequential things to cause her so much stress and frustration that it can sometimes turn an otherwise perfectly good day into a nightmare. That really gripes me! There's nothing I can really do about it, either, but jump for cover and not come out until the smoke clears.

I love her, and I'd never let anything come between us. Not even her red head temper.

And if you've never actually met a red head, yes, everything they say about their temper is true.


Friday, August 4, 2006

The Daily Gripe #14 - $3.099

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

Today I paid the highest price I have ever paid for a gallon of gasoline: $3.099. I know the price has been that high or higher in many parts of the country already, but I have luckily managed so far to always find it somewhere below the $3.00 mark. Not anymore.

I wrote last week about the record profits reported by ExxonMobil for the second quarter of the current fiscal year. I wrote recently about the huge compensation packages paid to executives in the oil industry. And I've written several times about the high cost of gasoline and other petroleum products.

Earlier this year, the federal government considered imposing a windfall profits tax on the oil industry. The plan was to take at least a portion of the proceeds from this tax and return it to American consumers in the form of a tax rebate. Of course, big oil lobbyists convinced the powers that be that such a move would be ill advised.

I say it's time that some serious action be taken to put a stop to the gouging of American motorists that happens every day at the gas pumps. Call your Senators and Congressperson. Buy gas from only a locally owned gas station, and ask them who they buy their gasoline from. And don't support ExxonMobil. Haven't they taken enough of our money already?

Today, that tank of gas at $3.099 cost me $51.00. And now that I'm driving a Jimmy to work instead of my Focus, I don't get such great gas mileage. That really gripes me, and it's time we as Americans do something about it!

Call your Senator today!


CSI: Crash Scene Investigation

Driving to work this morning, and again driving home, I tried to find the location of my accident yesterday. If you've ever had an accident, you know how it is. I just wanted to see where it all happened.

I knew the outer limits, so to speak, of where the accident happened. In other words, I know the northern- and southern-most points that it could have happened: points that border an area of maybe four miles, somewhere within which the accident occurred. But I couldn't seem to find the exact location.

It was only after returning home, dazed and confused, that it came to me. I'm still not sure exactly where the accident happened, but I now realize that it happened a little differently than I originally thought. Rather than running off the road on the northbound side, I actually spun 270 degrees on the road, crossed the oncoming (southbound) traffic lane, and landed in the ditch on the opposite side. This means that the car, rather than tumbling passenger side first, tumbled driver side first. How do I know this?

When leaving the scene of the accident in the cab of the tow truck, I thought we were headed north to turn around and head back into town. When I noticed that we were coming into town, I asked the driver, "Where are we? What town is that?" When he told me the name, I asked, "When did we turn around?" He answered, "Before I hooked your car up."

So after getting home from work today, I got out some Hot Wheels to recreate the scene. ...

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

So That's how it happened. Maybe tomorrow I'll actually be able to pinpoint the scene of the accident, now that I know on which side of the road to look.


Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Daily -- Well, You Decide -- #13

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

I headed out for work today in what seemed like a torrential downpour. I mean, it was raining hard. I go the same route every day, and I've gotten to know it pretty well. I've trimmed a two-hour trip down to as short as an hour and thirty-eight minutes. That means almost an extra half-hour sleep every night.

I listen to podcasts during my commute. I've listed some of my favorites in the past (links in the sidebar). Today, I was listening to The Daddy Panel, from 101 Uses for Baby Wipes. The Daddy Panel consists of three to five podcasters who are also fathers, discussing things that are important for fathers everywhere. The first topic today: do you have arrangements for who will raise your children if something should happen to both parents at the same time? As my wife and I have yet to make such arrangements, it was quite interesting. As they switched to another topic (vasectomy, no less), I felt a sudden change as I started to round a curve in the pouring rain.

It was then that my world shifted gears. It was like going from a badly timed reel-to-reel World War Two propaganda clip to a frame-by-frame image played in high definition on a big screen plasma TV. I saw as much as felt the back tires start to get away from me. Obviously I couldn't actually see them, but I could see them in my mind as real as if they were right in front of me.

Trying to remember everything I've ever learned about recovering from a skid, I turned the front tires into the skid. As I continued to slide sideways down this (luckily) deserted highway at a high rate of speed, I felt another change in my flight path. The car began to slide not only sideways, but also backward toward the edge of the road, and the ditch that lay beyond. I reacted impulsively and instinctively and applied the brakes. The back of the car left the road as I continued to travel sideways, half in and half out of the ditch.

It felt like the car was knocking down cornstalks in the field behind me as it continued to careen out of control. I was consciously aware of every crunch creek break and shatter when the right rear bumper caught hold of solid ground and my world was turned upside down.

If you've ever been in a car as it rolled out of control, then you know as well as I now know that it isn't an easy experience to describe. I'll give it a shot anyway.

I've heard stories of people who see their life pass before their eyes. Maybe they still needed to make Peace with God, because that's not what happened to me at all. The already intense sensory perception that I described as akin to high def television became something incomprehensible. As the car started to tip, I held onto the the wheel and looked up toward the top of the windshield. I heard the right front fender crunch as it crashed into asphalt. As the car came down on its top I saw the windshield crack one small piece at a time, as if in sequence, and heard the crushing metal as the top of the car started to close in on me. Once upside down, I thought, I'm going to die today. As the car floated through the air upside down, I heard the deafening sound of silence -- the total absence of the sound of crushing metal and shattering glass that had surrounded me mere moments before.

As the car continued to roll, I wondered if it would ever stop, and if it would land upside down or right side up when it did. I thought of my wife and kids. As the driver's side came in contact with the ground, I once again heard the crunching of metal on asphalt and was happy to be out of the silence. I looked up again, expecting to see the rest of the top of the car close in on me. Then everything stopped.

It was quiet again, and I was still strapped in with the seatbelt. The windshield was reduced to a million little shards of glass held together by a thin spidery web. The roof of the car over the passenger's seat was crushed in. I thanked God there were no passengers. The roof over my head seemed surprisingly in tact. Roughly five seconds after the car stopped moving, two thoughts crossed my mind. I'm okay! And then, Am I okay?

I threw open the door and jumped to my feet on the street in the driving rain. I consciously thought, If this hurts, I'm not okay. It didn't hurt. The rain soaked me. I dropped back into the car and closed the door.

As the first car approached, I opened the door and waved for them to stop. They did, as did several more. I called 9-1-1 and frantically tried to call my wife. To 9-1-1, I said, "I've just had an accident." I answered the questions of where and when, and when asked if I was hurt, I said, "No," then turned to a passing motorist and said, "I'm not bleeding anywhere, am I?"

Miraculously, I wasn't bleeding. I wasn't hurt. In fact, the only injury I sustained was a piece of glass that lodged into my thumb as I picked up some things that had been thrown from the vehicle.

This, today, is my gripe: my car has been totalled. But more than a gripe, I am thankful. I'm blessed to be writing this right now, for I'm home, safe and sound, with my wife and two children. God isn't finished with me yet.

As I rode home from the towing company with my wife, and several other times throughout the day, we spoke of what it would be like for our kids if Daddy hadn't been able to come home today. My eyes welled up with tears.

As I explained to my three-year-old son what happened, demonstrating with a Lego car, I told him that Daddy's car was broke. When he asked, "Where is it?" I simply said, "Gone." Then he said, "Daddy home." And I said, "Yes, buddy, Daddy's happy to be home."

I still have that little piece of glass in my thumb. It hurts when I touch it against something. It provides a constant dull throb of pain -- a constant reminder of a second chance.


Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Support Your Local Blogger

Do you enjoy reading the rants, etc., you find on Average Joe American? Did you know that you can show your support in a monetary way that won't cost you one red cent? Average Joe has partnered with as an Associate site. Many (and soon all) of the product links you see on Average Joe American will link you directly to a page at Amazon where you can purchase the item. There is no extra cost to you whatsoever, and a small portion of each purchase you make through these links (and the search box above) will go to support Average Joe American.

In addition, Average Joe has also become a partner of Google AdSense. At the top of every page, just above the most recent post, you will see unobtrusive content-related ads. If you like something you see, support the site by clicking the ad.

In both cases, none of your personal information is ever provided to Average Joe or anyone else that you don't personally provide it to.

I have long resisted placing advertising on the site for several reasons:
1) I don't want Average Joe American to become one of those sites so heavily laden with advertising that you can barely find the actual content.
2) I don't want to appear that my posting is influenced in any way by the advertisers.
3) I hate pop up windows!
The two methods of advertising are therfore perfect for Average Joe American. There will be no pop up windows. The ads are very unobtrusive (you almost can't even tell they're there). And the ads will only be those that I've chosen because I've used and reviewed the item, or because they are related to the content I have already posted on the site. Never will an advertisement be chosen before a post is written, and never will an advertisement influence a post.

So please, if you're shopping online at, let Average Joe American be your shopping portal. Stop here first, enter the item you're looking for in the Amazon search box, and shop away. Let the big guys like Google and Amazon support the little guys like Average Joe.

Thanks for your support!


A Post for My Wife: Clay Aiken's Upcoming Album

My wife is a big Clay Aiken fan, and this post is for her. I don't expect that many of my readers would be Clay Aiken fans, but his upcoming album will be released on September 19, and you can now preorder it at

Enjoy, if that's your sort of music.


The Daily Gripe #12 - The Bird

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

The other day I was driving home from work on a stretch of two-lane state highway. As I stopped at a four-way stop in a very short four-lane section of the road, a car on the cross street turned very slowly in front of me. He turned from the left into the left lane. I was in the right lane.

Not wanting to be held up by such a slow car, I accelerated quickly past him. Did you ever notice that you can tell when one of the neanderthal's in modern society is about to show his stupidity? I could tell this guy was about to have a problem -- he needed to reassert his manhood. While I drove seventy in a fifty-five speed zone, Mr. Marvelous passed me in the oncoming lane. He sped ahead until he was a prudent distance from me. Then, to less than my surprise, a bird flew right out the driver's front window. That's right, he flipped me the bird. That really gripes me!

To make matters worse, just a half mile up the road he turned right and left the main highway, anyway. I was going seventy when he passed me and proudly displayed his middle digit. There's no way I was holding him up, and he certainly didn't arrive at his destination any faster by passing me just to turn half a mile later.

Why do people have such fits of insanity? What made this guy think I needed to see him flipping me off out the window?

To my credit (if I say so myself), I handled the situation very calmly this time. Much calmer than the idiot with the bird out the window did. I did absolutely nothing to even acknowledge the situation or the bird flipper.


Tuesday, August 1, 2006

The Daily Gripe #11 - Gift Cards

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

It seems that every year I'm given gift cards as birthday gifts. Every year I say that gifts aren't necessary, but my wife forces me to tell her something I would like to have. I'll then name a favorite book and say, "Just no gift cards." But I always get them.

This year I received two ten dollar gift cards: one for Waldenbooks/Borders and one for Olive Garden. I told my wife, "That's fine," and that we'd go get some learning activity books for my son. So tonight we headed to the bookstore. We picked out one book for my son and Ted Dekker's Thr3e for me. We marched up to the checkout, my son proud with his new book in hands, and dropped our selections on the counter. We laid the gift card on top and waited.

"I'm sorry, this card is no longer valid, sir," the Cashier said. What? "It must have never been activated," she contunued. That really gripes me! Not at the gift giver, but at the system -- at the Cashier who sold the things without activating them through the register.

"Fine," I said, "I want the card back," I concluded as the Cashier prepared to stow the offending card away in the register. I don't care so much about the gift. I promised my son we'd get him a book with the gift card, and that's what upset me. "We'll just take the big book," I said, referring to the book for my son.

Drive thrus and gift cards, two of the most frustrating ways technology has ever been adapted. I hate the both!


Average Joe's Review Store