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According to WordPress, these were my most popular posts from 2012. Not what I expected really, I had genuinely forgotten about most of these posts. But it was interesting nonetheless. Happy reading, I look forward to what 2013 brings!

tolerance is for jerks

shirts and pants: a users’ guide for the layman

I have no idea what I’m doing

it’s about time

twenty-four hours

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something beautiful that i almost missed

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. – Matthew 9:12-13

I was thinking about Christmas today, (tis the season), and I was struck by something. It’s not anything new, it’s nothing I’ve never heard discussed before. But it seemed fresh to me.

Here’s Jesus, the God-king of the universe. When he comes to earth and takes on a weak, measly human form, he is born in a barn. He spends his first night in a feed trough. His birth is announced by angles to a bunch of sheep-herders. He grows up working with his hands. He spends his adult life helping lowlifes and rejects. The authorities slander him, do all they can to make trouble for him, and eventually put him to a criminal’s death. The God-king of the universe chose that life for my sake. He did it because he loves me.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45

That’s Christmas. May it make you merry.

a small victory, continued

You don’t have to know me very well to know that I hate plastic wrap. I hate it. Whoever invented plastic wrap as a means of conveniently preserving food was wrong.  Without fail it bunches up, wraps around my own hands, and ultimately refuses to stick where it is supposed to stick. It’s me, I know. I just can’t operate the stuff. Or, perhaps, plastic wrap has singled me out. Maybe it hates me as much as I hate it. Either way, plastic wrap is my nemesis. And I have been defeated in almost every one of our battles.

At my new job, I encountered a new incarnation of plastic wrap: plastic warp on a stick. We use it in packaging. And just as humanity has subjugated the rest of the planet through tools, so too have I finally bent plastic wrap to my will with the use of a stick. I have been thinking about the little victories of life lately, and this was one of them. I can use plastic wrap. In fact, given the choice between plastic wrap and tape, I usually choose the plastic wrap. I use the heck out of plastic wrap. All the time.

Except that, well, my work spaces are generally at waist level. And sometimes I try to wrap things too fast so that the plastic wrap breaks. Usually that happens when I’m pulling the stick toward myself. At waist level. Do you get where I’m going here? I was wrong about my own little victory over plastic wrap. Plastic wrap on a stick was just a way of drawing me in and lulling me into a false sense of safety. I didn’t beat plastic wrap. Plastic wrap figured out a way to get me to smack myself in the crotch.

So, I had to erase that from my list of small victories. Meh. You can’t win them all. I did, however, bake a pie that went for $120 at a charity auction. That’ll do for now.

a small victory

A few years ago, I had to go see a therapist for a little while. I’m not embarrassed about it anymore. I guess that’s a small victory in itself. But one of the reasons that I’m not embarrassed is that I still hang out with my therapist once in awhile. He actually invites me over to his house. We sit around, drink coffee, and I don’t even have to pay him. Is it weird that I’m friends with my ex-therapist?

Of course, the obvious temptation is to go full Bill Murray on him, (What About Bob anyone?). But the relief of such undeniable proof that I’m not a lunatic was worth more to me than the amusement I would have derived from living out my favorite lunatic fantasy. And that, to me, is a small victory. You’ve got to cling to those, eh?

concepts which leave me baffled

• Traffic in Grass Valley. How do so many people have someplace to be so early in the morning?

• My company is currently building a machine that will cut parts for Predator Drones which can spy on and /or kill people on the other side of the world via remote control. That’s pretty freaking high tech. Yet, we still have to use a fax machine to communicate with certain other businesses.

• Kids that don’t like pineapple.

• The 16 gauge Molex socket crimper and the corresponding 10 socket connecter. That thing defeated me today.

• This isn’t really the same thing, but some days my stomach is baffled that I won’t drive it an hour down the road to feed it a few In and Out cheeseburgers.

222

According to WordPress, this is my 222nd post. That seems like a really high number. But, I guess I’ve been at this for awhile now. At any rate, I just wanted to say thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. You folks are alright.

just give me my squid and get out of here

I met a man once who was a salesman. He sold cleaning chemicals. I, for my part, was a janitor. It was another life I once lived. His company had just introduced a new line of chemicals that were, “green.” They had no fragrance. They had no dyes. As he pitched me these new chemicals, all I ever heard about was what wasn’t in them, what they were not, and what they would not do. Now, remember, I was a janitor. My concern was cleaning, not the environment. Don’t get me wrong, I like trees, rivers, and animals, and I would very much like them to remain as they are. But as a man who made his livelihood by making things clean, I hope you will forgive me when I confess that it was more important to me that the chemicals this man was selling me actually cleaned things.

My concerns didn’t really matter in the end. I was going to be using these new environmentally-friendly chemicals whether I wanted to or not. We were already customers, I didn’t have authority to switch suppliers, and the chemicals I had been using were being discontinued. So, I was stuck with this salesman as he went on, and on, and on, about how many things these chemicals wouldn’t do. I didn’t pay attention for very long. He had said a word that had interested the curious part of my brain, “krakenpeals.” He said he was going to give me spray bottles… and krakenpeals.

Krakenpeals? I had been a janitor for many years by that point. I felt that I should know what a krakenpeal did. Was that something that janitors in other facilities used? I remembered one other time when a different salesman told me that real janitors didn’t use toilet brushes, they use toilet mops. I soon discovered that a toilet mop is a ball of fuzz on the end of a stick, rather than the brush on the end of a stick that I was used to. Additionally, I found that a toilet mop is a terrible way to clean a toilet. The problem with a ball of fuzz on the end of a stick begins when you stick that fuzz into toilet water, and ends when you need to get that ball of fuzz back out of the toilet water. Seriously, don’t believe the hype.

Can you see all these things parading around in my head while this guy’s voice turns into white noise? Blah, blah, blah, go back to that part about the krakenpeals. Is that more like a glockenspiel, or more like the Kraken? Do I want the krakenpeals? If I accept these krakenpeals, and they turn out to be useless, will it be hard to get rid of them? At last, he declares that he’s going to go out to his truck to get some things to set us up. At last, he reaches into his pocket and nonchalantly says, “Oh, here’s your krakenpeals.” At last, he slaps a stack of stickers onto the water heater and leaves me alone. Mylar stickers. Labels for the bottles. Because you crack the backing, and then you peel it off. I accepted the stickers, accepted the terminology, and smiled.

But then my mind began to wonder again. Why did anybody feel the need to make up a new name for stickers? If you crack the backing, peel off the sticker, and leave it at that, then you have completely missed the point of stickers. You stick them to things. You don’t prepare them for sticking, and then call it a day. This poor salesman had existed within a specialized segment of society for too long. Everybody he knew had forgotten how to use stickers. Or at least they had forgotten how to express themselves in a way that conveyed that they could, in fact, operate a sticker. Why couldn’t he just say what he meant? “Here’s your stickers,” makes so much more sense than, “Here’s your medieval-instrument-playing-mythical-squid.” Although, I guess I have to admit I would have been much more excited if he had given me one of those.

Some of you are wondering right now about the point of this story. It is this:

Just because you have specialized terminology doesn’t mean you have to use it. It is more important that people understand what you are saying, than that they are impressed with the way you said it. Doctors are the worst with this kind of thing. They throw around words like, “intubation,” just so that people will know they are medical professionals. Right after them comes Christians. We say things like, “sanctification” and “propitiation,” and “agape,” as if they were commonplace. But nobody outside the long-term churchgoing segment of society knows what those things mean. It is much better to say “God loves you,” than to say, “God desires koinonia fellowship with you.” Don’t you see how that kind of thing could be mistaken?

I guess, if you’re more interested in the people around you knowing that you are a Christian, go on speaking in code. But, if you’re interested in introducing the people around you to God, you’re going to have to use more accessible words.

On the other hand, did anybody else notice how much I muddied the waters before I made them clear? I’m going to have to work on that.

thoughts upon scraping my son’s crayon from the inside of the dryer

One day, perhaps when I’m an old man, I’d like to dump several boxes of crayons into a clothes dryer just to see what it would look like when it’s done. Could I call that art? Would somebody pay me for that? Is mischief a form of art?