Monday, August 31, 2015

Flipping the switch . . .

I was going to write this morning about the angry voter.  I think it says something about the state of politics in our country that the two Republicans leading in Iowa at the moment are Donald Trump and Ben Carson.  Trump and Carson are not career politicians.  People are angry and they are fed up with "politics as usual".

But this morning, there was a switch that flipped in my brain that said, "No more."

I sometimes get to the point where my brain is just full.  It gets tired of certain things, certain subjects, and nothing else can go in.

There's five months before the kickoff of the 2016 Presidential Election season--the Iowa caucuses--and the saturation level will be reached long before then.  I'm already seeing ads for Chris Christie here in the Atlanta area.

Daily, I hear and see the news reports and opinion pieces on the candidates, why I should/shouldn't vote for (fill in the blank), what a piece of garbage Candidate X is, why I should vote for Candidate X because he/she is the only hope for our country, etc. etc.

Frankly, my head is dizzy and right now, I've got to delete some brain files before I can let any more in.

So, for today, the political circus will have to go on without me.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Phones and #firstworldproblems

I should have realized there was something wrong with my phone when I tried to send two text messages and neither of them went through.

The first message was to my sister, telling her to be careful because Tropical Storm--perhaps soon-to-be-hurricane--Erika was heading for Florida.  When that message didn't go through after multiple attempts, I thought something was wrong with her phone.  That's right, always blame it on the other person's phone!

Then, I sent a second text message to a friend visiting in Florida.

It didn't go through, either.

At that point, I checked my Messaging app, and nothing seemed to be wrong with it.

So I went to my carrier's website.

When I logged in and put in my phone number, I got a nasty error message.

So I put in my husband's phone number and got another nasty error message.

I decided to go and check the status of my account . . . and that's when I figured out my problem.

You see, recently, I got a new debit card.  I thought my debit card was just being replaced because they were putting in security chips (in other words, everyone was going to get a new debit card). Yesterday I found the sheet that came with that new debit card, and it said it was being replaced because they'd noticed unusual activity that made them think it might have been stolen or that I'd been a victim of identity theft.  (There WAS a lot of unusual activity on it recently.  We were on vacation!)

Anyway, when I got the new debit card, I also got a new debit card number . . . and any automatic payments I have set up with the old debit card number will no longer go through.

Guess what one of the accounts was that I had set up for automatic payment?

So, I ended up putting in a new card number so that our phones could be paid for, then reactivating the phones, then I spent the next several minutes trying to reactivate MY phone (mine is a smartphone, my husband's is not)!

The phone is finally activated and my sister and friend have received their texts.

I call this a #firstworldproblem because in so many places, they don't even HAVE smartphones to worry about!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Worship Wednesday: What is WITH people?

At 9 a.m., I turned on the news and learned of the horrific shooting of a TV news reporter and photographer in Virginia.  The shooting happened during a live broadcast.  The shooter posted footage of the murder on social media, tweeted about his "grievances", and then was chased down the interstate where he apparently shot himself before wrecking his car.  He died at a Virginia hospital.

My BFF asked the question, "What is WITH people?"

Good question.

If this shooting hadn't happened, the final sentencing of James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter, would have been a much bigger story today.

Josh Duggar, oldest son of the TV reality family, admitted to being addicted to pornography, being unfaithful to his wife, and, as of today, has checked into a rehab center.

Over in France, a potential gunman was tackled by three Americans and a Brit; likely preventing a massacre.

And when anyone hears or says 9/11, Sandy Hook, Columbine, or Aurora, no further explanation is needed.

What is WITH people?  My BFF isn't alone in asking that question.

I know the stock answers:  God created us perfect but with free will, and man chose to exercise that free will in rebellion against God. Ever since, there has been sin in the world, and Jesus died to free us from the power of sin and death, so that we might have a relationship with him.

But the stock answers don't always fulfill our need for an answer to the question, "What is WITH people?"  I can boil it all down to sin, both my own and other peoples . . . and yet, there are times that answer just seems overly simplistic.  I can deal with the answer of "sin" when it's someone else's sin. Or, when it's the sinner dealing with the consequences of their own sin (like James Holmes being sentenced to prison for his murders).  I have a harder time when it's someone else paying the consequences for another person's sin (like Holmes' victims.)

What is WITH people?

Mankind is evil, thanks to Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden.  Mankind has redemption, through Jesus Christ.  Redemption is free for the taking.  While it did cost Jesus his life, and God his son, we are not required to pay anything.  We ARE called to give our lives back . . . but God gives redemption first, and we, in appreciation, give our lives in return to him.

It sounds simple on paper.  It is not easy in real life.  

In responding to a question from the London Times, "What is wrong with the world/", author G.K. Chesterson is alleged to have answered, "I am."

I can't completely answer the question, what is WITH people.  I can only answer the question, what is with me?

My pride, my sin, gets in the way of accepting God's forgiveness.  It gets in the way of confessing my sins and admitting my need for God.  I live in an imperfect world and I have to deal with the consequences of others' sins.  And I deal with my own questions as to why certain types of evil, and why certain types of sin.

I sin on a daily basis.  I hold sinful attitudes.  I struggle with forgiveness.  I am the most judgmental person I know.  I hold a grip on grudges that is very hard to loosen at times.  My "outside" life might be considered "clean", but my "inside" life is often full of doubt confusion, and sin.  It is hard for me to trust God in the middle of difficult circumstances.  Too often, I see God as the disembodied head from The Wizard of Oz, while forgetting that that head was operated by a man behind the curtain who, by his own admission was a "very bad wizard".

Maybe, like the Michael Jackson song, I need to answer the question, "What is WITH people," by looking at the person in the mirror.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Manic Monday: Let the panic begin!

The Dow opened this morning with a loss of 1000 points.  This after it closed in correction territory on Friday.  

News commentators and experts are reassuring everyone that there is no need to panic.

So let the panic begin! </sarc>

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Family Friday: "The number you have reached has been disconnected."

I probably learned it when I was five years old, a string of seven numbers that would, from then on out, connect me to home.  It was my phone number.

As I grew up, I would use a telephone dial to dial that number.  (Readers 35 and under will probably need to Google the word "dial" to understand what I'm talking about.)  I would stick my finger into a hole corresponding to a number and move it clockwise until I couldn't move it anymore, then remove my finger and hear the scratchy-scrape sound of the dial moving back to its original position.  Then I'd repeat the movement with a different number six more times until I'd finished dialing the number.  I would hear the click-click-click through the telephone receiver as I dialed, then the purring of the tone as it tried to contact the party on the other end. 

When I made a long-distance call, I had to add four more numbers:  the "1", which told the Bell System that you were about to call outside of your area code, then the three-digit number of the area code you wanted to call, then seven more digits. 

As I grew up, I dialed those seven numbers, my phone number, countless times from various places.  It was usually, "Mom, come pick me up."

When I went away to college, I learned how to make a long-distance call without having to dial a string of numbers that included an area code.  You simply stuck your finger in the hole on the dial opposite the number "0", moved the dial clockwise until you couldn't move it anymore, then let go, and kept the phone receiver to your ear until you heard the magic word, "Operator."  Then you placed a collect call, recited the three-digit area code and your seven-digit number, and waited until the other party picked up the phone.  Oh, you did have to remember to add the magic words "collect call".  That way, the person you were calling got to pay for the call--not you! 

These were the days of pay phones, where you had to have change if you wanted to make a call, and a large amount of change when you were making a long-distance call and KNEW that the other party either wouldn't or couldn't pay for the call.  During college, I was intimately familiar with the phones on the first floor of Kellum Hall at Florida State University; then later, the pay phones in other dormitories. 

Even though the numbers that connected me to home were now ten digits, not seven, I still knew that if I dialed them, or recited them, someone on the other end would pick up the phone and say, "Hi, Tina."   I dialed them to tell my family of the latest football score, how I was doing in school, when I planned to come home for visits, and when I wanted them to come and get me for graduation.

I can't remember when I first used a push-button or Touch-Tone phone.  I know I started using one regularly after I moved to Miami.  This time, instead of hearing click-click-click as I dialed, I would push buttons and hear the electronically musical tones of each number.  (I once heard a story about a man who got his phone number changed because every time he dialed home, his number, when he dialed it, played, "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and it drove him crazy.) 

I did have to remember to dial "1", but as long as I remembered "1" and the area code, I could still dial the same string of numbers, ring a telephone, and get an answer on the other end.  This time, I used those numbers to give out the latest news of my job, what was happening in Miami, or that I was moving, here's my new address. 

I bought a Touch-Tone phone when I moved to my own apartment and connected it to an answering machine.  Moving, thank God, didn't mean that I was disconnected from my family.  I still had a phone, still had those eleven numbers that I could dial and deliver the latest news to my family.  On a May night in 1993, I dialed those eleven numbers and told my family that I was engaged to be married. 

The next year, my husband and I moved to Atlanta.  I still used the same eleven numbers, and those same eleven numbers connected me to my family. 

In 1998, the phone company changed my mother's area code, but it wasn't a big deal.  I still had eleven numbers, still could connect with my family. 

About 13 years ago, I got my first cell phone.  On a cell phone, you don't necessarily have to dial "1" to make a long-distance call.  So now the numbers I had to dial were down to 10.  Just one less number to remember.  But I could still punch in the same string of numbers--without the beginning "1"--and have someone pick up the phone. 

I don't know when I dialed those ten numbers for the last time.  It was either in December or January.

In April, my mother went into the hospital for leg pain.  Her stay extended to several weeks and three surgeries.  She's now in assisted living, and I now have a new string of ten numbers that I have to dial in order to connect me to her.  Since my mother is no longer living at the house, certain services are no longer needed.  My sister told me that they didn't need a phone there anymore, which is understandable.

My uncle emailed me last week and told me he'd tried to call my mother, and got a recording saying that the number had been disconnected.  I thought, oh, yeah, it's because she's in assisted living now, and I made sure to tell that to my uncle.

But it didn't really hit me until a day or two ago that the number I learned at five, the number that I dialed, recited, punched into a phone, was no longer the number I used to connect myself with my family. 

I don't know how it happened, but somehow, my mother's contact information was activated when the touch screen on my phone touched something else, probably the surface of one of my tables.  I heard the off-key tones, then the recording saying, "We're sorry.  The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected.  If you think you have made this call in error, please hang up and dial again."

I disconnected.  And then I realized that a part of my life, a part that had existed since 1968, was over. 

No more will I be dialing those numbers that will connect me with someone who will pick up the phone.

It is truly the end of an era.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Worship Wednesday: Praying for healing

A Facebook friend of mine is fighting two brain tumors . . . a year after she beat one.

A family that attended my congregation is living a nightmare.  Their adult son was seriously injured in an accident and has a severe brain injury.

Both are asking for prayers for healing.

I have a rough time when I pray for healing, both for myself and for others, because I know God doesn't always answer prayers the way we want them to.  And I don't know if God does "miraculous" healings in this day and age.  Some believe that he does, some believe that he does not.

I believe God can do anything, and to me, "anything" means "anything"--including instantaneous healing.  But it's rare that instantaneous healing happens.  And people still die, and people still suffer with chronic illness.  People still lose loved ones and they grieve.

Author Anne Lamont wrote a book called Help, Thanks, Wow, which she calls "the three essential prayers". (I have heard of one other prayer added to that, "Oops".)  Right now, the two families that I've referenced are praying "help" prayers.  Help me.  Help my son.

David and other Psalmists prayed many "help" prayers.  David was chased by men who sought to kill him.  I wonder if he ever ducked behind a rock with his heart pounding, not daring to breathe because he knew that if he did, he'd be discovered and possibly killed on the spot.  I guess you could say that Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was a "help" prayer; help for what He knew was lying ahead. 

I don't know if God is going to heal the people I'm referring to.  They don't know if they are going to be healed.  Perhaps that is a definition of "faith" --  choosing to walk with God in spite of not knowing what the outcome of their circumstances will be. 

In the meantime, I will pray "help".  I will pray "help" for both families.

And I will pray the prayer that Father Tim from Jan Karon's Mitford series calls "the prayer that never fails."

Thy will be done.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Manic Monday: Why should I vote for your candidate?

I'm trying something new on this blog:  devoting Mondays to politics, Wednesday to religion, and Fridays to family and other personal stuff.

Mondays are Manic Mondays, because politics have a mania about them . . . and because I like the sound of it. :-)

So, here's my topic for today's Manic Monday:

Why should I vote for your candidate? 

In looking up the names of the Presidential candidates, I discovered this site, which lists presidential candidates that are running or thinking of running for President of the United States.  I couldn't count the number of people that think that they are qualified to run the United States of America.

So, I'm limiting my question to the major candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties. 

I'm going to list them in alphabetical order and include their party affiliation:

Joe Biden (D) (has not announced yet but may announce soon)
Jeb Bush (R)
Ben Carson (R)
Lincoln Chaffee (D)
Chris Christie (R)
Hillary Clinton (D)
Ted Cruz (R)
Carly Fiorina (R)
James Gilmore (R)
Lindsay Graham (R)
Mike Huckabee (R)
Bobby Jindal (R)
John Kasich (R)
Martin O'Malley (D)
George Pataki (R)
Rand Paul (R)
Rick Perry (R)
Marco Rubio (R)
Bernie Sanders (D)
Rick Santorum (R)
Donald Trump (R)
Scott Walker (R)
Jim Webb (D)

Why should I vote for any of the above?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ranting . . . and the way out

At the moment, I feel rather frustrated.

 My house is a mess, I'm not getting enough sleep, we are dealing with debt, and I'm way overweight and not getting exercise.

And I just had to reset my password in order to get into my account.  The following Facebook meme is rather appropriate:  "Sorry, but your password must contain an uppercase letter, a number, a haiku, a gang sign, a hieroglyphic, and the blood of a virgin."  (I am waiting to hear that my firstborn son is also a requirement.)

My solution?

For the moment, I have on Spotify and I am playing praise music by John Tesh.

Yeah, I know, I think he has the same reputation as Kenny G . . . but you have to have talent and discipline to make about any kind of music.

Although it won't clean up my house, perhaps this will at least put me in a better frame of mind!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.