Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Moonwalking Bear



Just for fun...

Money for a Change


The other day, I felt change in the air.

I arrived home from work. When I entered the house, I kissed petted Winston and petted kissed Jamie and then scurried back outside to check the mail. My very ornate mailbox (the home owners association made me get an expensive one) contained a bill or two, a magazine for Jamie, and a letter from a sender I didn't instantaneously identify. As I'm in the habit of doing, I tossed the mail aside with plans to come back to it when I had a spare moment.

A day or two later, I took time to sift through a growing pile of mail. I came to that aforementioned letter, which I assumed to be junk mail as I opened it. In the enclosed letter, I pulled out a check in the amount of $21.38 made out to me. It was from LG. Apparently because I purchased a refrigerator from them, I was somehow entitled to this remuneration.

Here's an excerpt from the letter which was with the check:

Based on guidance from the Department of Energy (DOE) about the interpretation of the testing rules for refrigerators, LG Electronics has changed the energy rating on the model of the LG refrigerator you purchased. The rating for this product now reflects higher energy usage than was indicated by the information on the labels and other materials at the time you made the purchase. As a result, LG is providing a three-part offer for those who have purchased these models:

The letter went on to explain that the enclosed check is a cash payment for past energy usage. It also said that LG will modify my refrigerator at no expense to me to make it more energy efficient. If I didn't opt for that, LG will make annual cash payments to me over the useful life of the refrigerator (14 years) for future energy usage.

Hmm. This seemed like an awfully honest thing to do. Who says there is no such thing as corporate conscience? Who dares lambaste the beauty of capitalism? Then it hit me! These corporate bastards weren't being honest. Barack Obama was making them be honest. Yes we can! I got to thinking even harder (a scary thing if I'm by myself): is Barack going to stick it to the man so many times over the next four years that I might should expect a check...who knows...daily?

Ah yes, how many times has the innocent consumer been snookered? But, my friends, we can be confident that the president-elect will make it right! The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


The Hand of Sweet Release

Come thou long expected Jesus,
Come illuminate the mysteries of life.
Come redeem us from the refuse,
Bring an end to endless suffering and strife.
Be the star that shines so brightly
That it draws our weary eyes to the sky, to Heaven’s sky.
Dearest child of new beginnings,
Be the start of something beautiful, I cry.

There’s an end to all the waiting,
There’s an answer to the “who?” and “where?” and “why?” . . . tonight.
All the years anticipating,
Are surrendered to a tiny baby’s cry.
There’s a dawn to follow darkness,
There’s a face to fill the title, “Prince of Peace.”
What he promised, he delivered

I am saved by the hand of sweet release.

In this war I’ve been a captive,
Just a sinner seeking life and liberty.
But these hands that hold me tightly
Are the hands that set my shackled spirit free.
Blessed Jesus, meek and lowly,
You have come into my life and made it new, now I’m new.
Out of bondage into everlasting light,
I owe everything to you.

There’s an end to all the waiting,
There’s an answer to the “who?” and “where?” and “why?” . . . tonight.
All the years anticipating,
Are surrendered to a tiny baby’s cry.
There’s a dawn to follow darkness,
There’s a face to fill the title, “Prince of Peace.”
What he promised, he delivered

I am saved by the hand of sweet release.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas List

Favorite Christmas Song: "O Holy Night"
Least Favorite Christmas Song: "Silver Bells" (seriously, that's a bad Christmas song).
Favorite Christmas Decoration: Lights on bushes
Christmas Quandary: What is Yuletide?
Least Favorite Christmas Decoration: Colored lights on anything
Favorite Christmas Memory: As a child, watching cars come by to look at the Christmas decorations in our neighborhood.
Least Favorite Christmas Memory: The year my Mom decided to do an "Alphabet Christmas." My brother and I got 26 presents each. Each one started with a different letter of the alphabet. It did not work out well.
Favorite Christmas Temperature: 40 degrees Fahrenheit
Favorite Christmas Poem: "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" (the song is also beautiful, but I already have a favorite Christmas song).
Favorite Christmas Toy: Bicycle
Favorite Christmas Beverage: apple cider
Favorite Wife at Christmas: Jamie
Favorite Canine at Christmas: Winsty Baby
Favorite Stocking Stuffer: $100 bills
Jamie's Favorite Christmas Movie: Elf

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Color Christmas Lights


Tonight, Jamie has some friends up at the house. It's one of those parties where you have to have two X chromosomes to attend. Because neither Winston nor I meet this criterion, we have been banished to my office. Jamie gave me explicit instructions that I'm only to come out if I have to go to the bathroom or if Winston has to go to the bathroom. She'll bring me periodic refreshments and alert me if the house catches on fire. I'm a prisoner in my own home! Of course, Winston has become incorrigible as he's been cooped up back here for about half an hour as of the commencement of this post.

In preparation for this party, Jamie bought a couple of strands of those big, obnoxious colored Christmas lights and wanted me to hang them around the perimeter of our back porch. Easy enough. So last weekend while Jamie was working, I hung them up. Since it was pleasantly cool, I decided Winston should come out on the back porch with me as I worked. As we walked outside, he diligently attacked and chewed on my shoe strings (very common occurrence). He stopped though after about 30 seconds. Winston apparently became a little chilly and curled up under a chair. Perfect...he's out of the way.

I pulled out my drill, grabbed some eyehooks and my tape measure, did some quick mental calculations (75 lights to drape around approximately 38 feet of porch, but I only had 20 eye hooks), set up my four-foot step ladder, and I got to work. About 10 minutes later, I drilled the last hole, inserted the last eyehook, and hung the last strand of lights. Oh yes, they looked great!

Standing on my step ladder, I gazed around the porch. Jamie, who thinks that only bad things can happen when I use power tools, was going to be so proud!

Now I interpret a significant portion of the Bible literally. But this verse is not one that would have been on my list for literal interpretation. Yet it came to pass. As I was standing on my step ladder admiring my work, I hear Winston's little paws steadily beating the concrete. I turn around just in time to see out of the corner of my eye Winston lunge at my feet. As I was in somewhat of an awkward physical position, Winston's tackle basically made me stage-dive off the top of the step ladder onto the grass in my back yard.

I layed on the ground stunned for about ten seconds. Nothing seemed broken or irreparably harmed. As I got up, I looked around for Winston, but I didn't see him. I think he had a feeling he was about to get some "old fashion behind-the-wood-shed" discipline. There's no doubt I had a insatiable craving to give him that discipline. But when I found Winston hiding under one of my chairs on the back porch, I couldn't help but pick him up. He is just so lovable!

Now if you don't believe God exists, come up behind me and push me off a ladder. That's a sure fire way to get to meet your Maker. And I can assure you that the first question that you'll be asked is, "Where did you're face go?" You'll be able to respond, "Well Michael ripped it off before he killed me."

I put Winston back inside and tried to figure out why he unexplainedly lunged at my feet while I was on the step ladder. Best I can tell, I think he saw my shoe strings dangling around and they were just too appetizing to resist. Oh Winsty...

Apparently, none of the gals at the party were particularly impressed with the big, obnoxious colored Christmas lights I hung around the back porch (nobody said anything about them). They did give Winston a lot of attention though. I'll tell you what...I've about had my fill of that dog for tonight.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pay Raise

Undeniable truth of life: Liberals never abide be their own rules.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Obama Joke Yet

I've heard a couple of good jokes this week; you can ask me what they are if you see me around (not all of them are rated G). Yet I must say this one is the funniest Barack Obama joke I've heard to date:

Police found the body of a man in a ditch last week. The man, who was murdered, was found wearing fishnet stockings, a red miniskirt, a blond wig, high heels, lip stick and eye liner, and had a cucumber shoved up his butt. He was also wearing an Obama t-shirt.

Out of respect for the family, though, the police removed the Obama t-shirt before they asked the family to identify the body.

Say What?

Usually, blog posts with catchy, crude, or inflammatory titles have nothing but catchy, crude, and inflammatory content. But here's an exception: Get off the nipple!

Seriously, that post has so many applications, I'm not even going there (something that doesn't happen often on the Ford Retort).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Texting



When sending texts of a sensitive nature, double-check your recipient.

John & Amie

I'm working on a post about some of Winston's antics from the weekend. As I typed, I came across my friend John's blog post about the antics of his dog Tucker. And it occured to me: I need to tell the world that John is blogging. So faithful Ford Retort reader: John and Amie are blogging!

p.s. John, STOP WHINING AND GET BACK TO STUDYING (AND YOU TOO, AMANDA)!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Glue

I know few Ford Retort readers would doubt my bona fides as a tried and true intellectual. My mind is frenetic as I'm always thinking about answers and solutions and philosophies and other universal quandries. I'm glad I have the brain I have, but I couldn't have my brain, I think I would want this man's brain.

Driving home the other day, I had a thought: why doesn't glue stick to the inside of a bottle? Hmm. So I clicked over to the Elmers website to search for an answer. And sure enough, it was there.

Glue is an aqueous solution of naturally "sticky" synthetic polymers (and a few other things). The solvent of that aqueous solution is of course water. When you pour glue out of it's a bottle onto, let's say a homemade Christmas card, a piece of macoroni, or a paper mache masterpice, the water in the glue solution quickly evaporates. This leaves behind the "sticky" polymers that adhere to the materials.

But when glue is in it's bottle, only a limited amount of the water in this aqueous solution is able to evaporate into the air (the free space in the bottle). Therefore, the glue solution remains liquid and doesn't stick to the sides.

So now you know.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Manners

While Jamie and I were gone to New York City, Winston apparently forgot his house manners. He has been wild and out of control the last couple of nights. He doesn't obey (he always has obeyed Jamie better than me, but he loves me more than he loves Jamie). He whines and howls when he's in his cage (normally he only does that when he needs to go the bathroom). With the help of this, though, and saying "no" and hitting him approximately 235 times since we've been back, he now seems to remember his home training. Good Winsty!

On a related note, Winston is getting fixed Monday. We're hoping this will curb his aggression...and well...other amorous gestures. We plan on adding to him to our church's email prayer list for the day as well.

Jamie and I also encountered a dearth of manners in New York City. Let's see...there was the time that a cab driver told me I didn't tip him enough (I know you're wondering what I did...I looked him straight in the eyes and told him, "If you have the balls to tell me that, I'll give you another dollar"). And there was the time that a cab driver told Jamie she needed to say, "please" (that almost got ugly...). During the time we were standing in line to get tickets to see the Rockettes, one of the staff members of Radio City Music Hall was what I'll call aggressively rude with us. She didn't know, but she was one queer look away from getting her lunch eaten by two rednecks. And do I need to mention the way folks drive and up there?

I've told a lot of folks since we've been home that there's no place like home. Absolutely! I certainly missed southern manners. Remember: be courteous, be humble, be friendly, and don't be highfalutin'.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Similar Hair

I just realized something. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and I have very similar hair. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Heroes

Hey it's good to be back home again.

Jamie and I are in our living room. She sits on the couch, watching television, and I'm sitting in my recliner, blogging. We're both sipping our apple cider as Winston lovingly gazes at us (very Norman Rockwell, I know.) Ahh, the simple pleasures of life. I certainly hate to be the one to ruin the warm mood and holiday atmosphere, but I'll risk being a Debbie Downer and let you in on a little observation that's been pressing in my mind.

While in New York City, Jamie and I stopped by the National September 11 Museum. The museum had several offerings, so we opted to take a guided tour of the site. In the guided tour, folks with a personal connection to 9/11 volunteer as tour guides. We had two very kind ladies, Joan and Patricia, lead our tour. Initially, they took us to several areas where you could view the old Trade Center complex. Joan spoke of the plans for the future memorial that's in the works. At the end of the tour, each of these sweet ladies gave their individual stories of how their lives were changed by 9/11. I was particularly touched by Patricia's story.

Patricia is a nurse, and on September 11, 2001, she was working at a hospital in New Jersey. At the beginning of her morning, a patient emerged from his room and told Patricia that planes had crashed into the Twin Towers. Immediately, Patricia called her husband and told him to try to get in touch with their two sons because they were Brooklyn firefighters. At the end of her precarious day, Patricia found out that her oldest son Danny evacuated the north tower before it collapsed. Danny was safe. The whereabouts of her second son, Tommy, were unknown.

Tommy was a member of Rescue Company Three. This unit was among the first group of firefighters to respond to the World Trade Center. Ten days after the attacks, Danny and his father were onsite helping with the recovery effort when Danny and Tommy's father spotted a Company Three helmet in the debris with the use of binochulars. At the time, getting to that helmet was impossible on foot, so they found a crane-like device to lift them to the spot. When they reached the rubble, they found the hat and body of their brother and son, Tommy.

The emotion and distress on Patricia's face as she told her story was intense, as if the tragedy happened yesterday and not seven years ago. I did a poor job maintaining my composure (Jamie is always glad to see me cry, since I didn't do so at our wedding). Even as I unceremoniously sobbed, I was wowed by Patricia's resolve to tell her story. Living the memories and emotions of a horrendous personal tragedy in front of others is difficult to imagine. 

Jamie and I fought a gigantic crowd to see the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. People, mostly young folks, were everywhere. The buzz and excitement in crowds was unpleasently electric. After all, what could be better than catching a glimpse of the Jonas Brothers?

As I ruminated about our trip on the plane from Atlanta to Jackson, I couldn't help but grieve at the misaligned priorities of our nation. Our 9/11 tour group of 15 people contained folks from South Africa and Sweeden, Washington State and Florida. We took a mere hour to remember and honor authentic heros. At Rockefeller Center, hundreds of thousands of people pushed and shoved their way to the front of crowds to see pseudo heroes. The antithetical nature of these two experiences seemed to me irreconcilable. Does our nation appreciate heroes? Would we recognize a hero in a lineup of rockstars, soldiers, actors and politicians? There's not much I can do about any of it, but I there is one thing I know I can do. Patricia closed her words to us by reminding us that each day is gift. It is extraordinary. We are not owed it. She encouraged us to make the most of each day, as did her son Tommy.

Yeah, it's a banal lesson, but for some reason, its depth of truth is ingrained a little more in mind than before I heard the story of our tour guide, Patricia.  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside



Did I mention it's cold up here?

Tonight, the wife and I will be dining at Smith and Wollensky. Word among NYCers is that it's a pretty good place to grab a steak. I'm game!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NYC Update

It's Wednesday night and Jamie and I have retired to our hotel room here for a couple of minutes. We're about to go here for the lighting of a very large Christmas tree. Look for us on TV!

A few comments comments about our traveling experiences: Can someone please explain to me how an airline can overbook a flight? Finite number of seats. Don't book any more than that established number. There. Just solved that problem. Seriously, we need to get the people who are smart enough to pilot the planes in charge of booking seats on the plane. Also, Jamie and I witnessed a meltdown in the Atlanta airport. One mom, with her two kids and husband, burst into tears and proclaimed, "How is this happening!" I must admit, it was hard not to laugh, but I did feel a certain amount of sympathy for her.

Our first night in New York, Jamie and I briefly walked around the city. Then I spent some time trying to commit to memory, via Google Maps, the streets and landmarks of Manhattan. For the most part, my memory has served me well. But there have been a couple of times I've gotten turned around (one time just plain confused). Jamie has brought this up every couple of minutes while we've been here.

Tuesday and today, we utilized a bus tour of the city. Good choice for us because we can hop on and off at the places we want to stop. Tuesday, we went up to the observatory deck of the Empire State building, stopped at Macy's, wandered around Chinatown, ate lunch in Little Italy, and saw The Lion King on Broadway. Today, we went to the 9/11 museum, Ground Zero, and took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.

It's been fun so far! Jamie has had to learn about a rule I have when I travel. It's this: wherever I am is where I supposed to be.

Let's chat again soon.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Morning

The early bird catches the worm, 
but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Usually, Jamie is proclaiming the first part of the above axiom, and I'm proclaiming the second part of it. Not today...

This morning, we were both very  motivated to get to Jackson-Evers early. Me in particular because well... last night I was deceived by the drive by media. You see, I was watching the news and the reports of holidy travel melees, and I got in a miny tizzy. So we hustled to get here, only to sail right through security and all the lines. Sit and wait.

Would you believe that there are some interesting folks around us? My favorite individual is the shifty-eyed gentlemen reading Good to Great. He's making copious notes in his book but is also making sure everybody is watching him. Then there's the gentlemen with the Sanford and Son ringtone. Oh to be a traveler.

Hopefully, we'll talk soon! 

p.s. This post comes to you courtesy of the of Jackson-Evers Wi-Fi. I feel like the Department of Homeland Security is scanning the contents of my laptop...