30 January 2011

Good day of religion

I heard this today from one of the speakers at Church:

"We are obedient not because we are blind but because we can see."

I liked that. A lot.  Indeed, I am free to see and I am free to choose.  That's a gift for which I am very grateful.  It was a good day of getting religion.  I like days like that.

29 January 2011

When customer service means contempt

After a brutal nineteen hour work day in the hinterlands of New York state on Friday,  I was all kinds of ready to head back home early this morning.  It was, however, a trip I approached with a bit of trepidation, as I was flying back on an unnamed Tempe, AZ-based airline.  My luck with them ran out a long, long time ago and it's been nothing but bad ever since (just read a couple of the older posts in the blog - you'll get a flavor for what's gone horribly wrong with said carrier and me).  Anyway, I had to fly unnamed carrier because of the lack of options at the little airport from which I was departing.

Two flights today, short ones, so I was hoping it would be OK.  Checked in and my pre-reserved seats had been cancelled (insert resigned sigh here).  But that was OK as I was able to get decent seats back.  First short flight on one of the pretend jets was uneventful.  Had enough time at my connecting city to stop in said airline's club.  When the agent asked me if I needed the wi-fi password, you could see his eyes already rolling into the back of his head.  He was elated when I told him I didn't.

After a quick break in the empty club, I went down to my gate.  The gate agent decided that the microphone wasn't necessary.  Instead, she chose to scream at all of us.  She screamed each and everyone one of her announcements.  Delightful!  So she yells at the first zone to board, and I'm in that zone and I approach Our Lady of Perpetual Yelling.  She scans my boarding pass then looks at it, scans it again, and says, "You supposed to be in First Class."  I think, 'Nice, a freebie upgrade.'  So I say, "Great! Can I get a new boarding pass?"  She looks at me and says, "No.  You in seat 12F, an exit row."  End of story.

Now I was not expecting an upgrade.  I'm not entitled to upgrades on this airline.  My expectations were so low that the fact my first flight had even operated and that my second one was on-time, I was overjoyed.  I wasn't bothered by the completely indifferent agent in the club.  But all it took was Our Lady of Perpetual Yelling to confirm that contempt is STILL the name of the game at this airline.  I really don't think I've ever seen anything like it, except at this carrier. 

Bottom line - I am home safely.  And I'm reminded that I never want to find myself making contempt my mantra and way of life.  Not a good way to live.

22 January 2011

That's never happened before

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I'd been afraid of donating blood for much of my life.  It was a fear that I did not overcome until my mid-30's.  My friend John and I finally manned up and went and since we managed to get through the first one without passing out, donating blood has become a habit.  It's become such a habit that the staff at the place where I donate seem to know me.  It's not like they yell out my name when I walk in, but they sure know I'm the guy with the long list of foreign country deferrals.

So it was no different when I walked in this morning to do my first donation of the year.  Same friendly people.  I was done in less than forty minutes.  I felt good, as I typically do and I heeded the instructions to not overexert shovel the snow myself today.

Later in the day, I started craving something to eat and initially I could not put my finger on it.  And then it hit me - I wanted meat, red meat.  In. the. worst. way.  While my house is hardly vegetarian, you're not going to find a side of beef in the freezer either.  This lack of red meat sent me spinning.  I could not shake the desire to tear into a steak or a really good burger.  This yearning was literally gnawing at me.  Suddenly, all I could here was the old tagline, "Beef.  It's what's for dinner!" rattle around in my head.  I found myself pacing in between the two refrigerator/freezers that we have in search of anything.  My search came up empty.

So to sate my hunger, I jumped in the car and went for a mediocre burger from a local place just down the street.  Did it do the trick?  I am pleased to say that it did.  But what brought this on?  And was I out of my mind for a craving like that?  If this ad is to be believed, the answer would be no:
Indeed, I was right!
I can only attribute it to the blood donation.  Maybe it triggered some kind of wacky need to replace iron.  And maybe it could only be found in a slab o'beef.  Anyway, meat crisis averted.  Whew!

19 January 2011

There Is (Not) Sunshine In My Soul

In the last nine, count 'em, nine days, the sun has shone a grand total of eight hours.  Clearly there is no sunshine in my soul as a result.  Instead, Seasonal Affective Disorder seems to be taking place.  This is kind of what it looks like:
Yeah, good times here in the Midwest.  Good, good times.  And today's post is the 400th here in the Den.  My first post was about the weather and so's my 400th.  That's kind of sad.

16 January 2011

Good, better, best

This Sunday was our annual Ward Conference at church so we had a slew of our local leadership present.  I had to give a stewardship report of my areas of responsibility and I managed to not get thrown out (I guess that's one of the advantages of a lay clergy).  Although when someone did volunteer my thoughts on the Scouting program, starting at the Cub Scout level, I managed to hold my tongue, mostly.  Mostly...

We spent a significant part of the day speaking about our theme from the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:32: "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him."  It was a good, thoughtful discussion and I found myself drawn to a topic we'd discussed earlier in the day - striking a balance in this world.  In spite of the headlines, there is so much good in the world and we have to choose.  When put in the perspective of why we are here, choosing can be even more difficult.  There are good choices, better ones, and the best ones.  Which one to choose?  The answer was found in a masterful talk by one I believe is a chosen apostle of God: 

"We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families." - Elder Dallin H. Oaks

So there you have it.  It makes sense and while easier said than done, it's the right thing to do.  You can read the whole discourse here.

To that end, I've turned off my work laptop.  The best choice?  Go hang with my family. 

15 January 2011

What I'm reading now

So my most recent post was about the 38 books I tackled in 2009.  My 2010 reading started off with the amazing "Bloody Crimes" by James Swanson.  Highly recommended read and it has me all kinds of charged up about Abraham Lincoln so I made my way to the library today and, por fin, I finally checked out "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I've been wanting to read this book about Lincoln's presidency for quite some time.  Glad that I'll now have the chance.  You may recall that I'd noted that juxtaposition posed in Swanson's book and that juxtaposition carries on in the other book I picked up while at the library today.  I got this:

That's right.  A book about Glenn Beck.  All I knew is that when I'd heard that he'd called the book "despicable, yellow journalism," I was nearly giddy.  Him saying that...the irony is just almost more than I can take!  I can't wait to read it.  Perhaps this may shed some light onto why a friend of ours has said that I remind her of Brother Beck.  That comparison has nearly unnerved me as I've thought about it.  I mean, I don't have the kind of audience he does (meaning I have none, other than you good readers of the Den).  OK, so I've cried in public a couple of times but seriously you try being the next speaker after a man with no arms or legs who has just given the most inspirational speech ever at a conference in Sao Paolo, Brasil without crying.  It didn't work for me, I'm just saying.

So here we go.  Reading about the triumph of ignorance.  Like I said, I can't wait. 

09 January 2011

38 Books

According to my bookshelf on Shelfari, I read 38 books in 2010.  That meant an average of three books a month.  The books I read were mostly non-fiction - that seems to be my genre of choice of late - and their subject matter was wide-ranging.  If I had to pick a favorite read for 2010, it was "Appetite for America" by Stephen Fried.

I really enjoyed this book.  It's the story of Fred Harvey and the dining/hotel empire he built along the railroads through the western United States.  It was one of those books I could not put down but was one I didn't read quickly.  I found myself savoring each page, soaking in the history and imagery Fried captured.

It was also an incredible primer on customer service.  The Harvey empire was built in the late 19th century and early 20th century but Harvey's customer service principles are as solid and applicable today as they were then.  I can think of one hideous airline based in Arizona that would do well to have their customer-facing staff read this book.  But then again, it wouldn't make a difference.  (Sadly, I have to fly said airline at the end of the month...I'm already dreading it.)

It's early in 2011 and I'm almost done with my first book of the year, "Bloody Crimes" by James Swanson and it's amazing.  Incredible story of Lincoln's funeral train and Jefferson Davis' run from the Union.  The juxtaposition is making for a gripping read.  So the reading year is off to a good start.  It remains to be seen if I best the 38 read in 2010.  Either way, I'm looking forward to a good year of reads.

07 January 2011

Short work weeks blow...

Yeah, I'm pretty much that little dog.
So, my work week has drawn to a close.  And it's been a monster.  That's what I get for being off for eleven days.  Yikes!  It started off as good busy on Tuesday but it went downhill from there.  Precipitously.  And here it is Friday afternoon and I totally feel like the dog in the picture to the left.  The world is coming down on him and the results are NOT going to be pretty.  No good is going to come from it!

But enough griping from me.  I've always contended that this space was not going to become a forum for me to bash work, so I'll stop.  I'm done.  It's time to enjoy the weekend.

01 January 2011


Another year begins.
Another year is here.  I'm pleased to say that 2011 arrived with little fanfare here in the Den.  I did surprise the fellow residents of the Den by actually staying awake until midnight.  I certainly didn't do it so I could swoon watching the ridiculous ball drop in Times Square.  No, thanks to the interweb (thanks, Tracy Jordan), I am able to watch the New Year roll in real time as it happens across the globe.  So as far as I'm concerned when the fireworks started erupting over the Sydney Harbour Bridge yesterday morning, 2011 was here.  Yeah, New Year!  So there really was no need to stay up, but I did. 

The New Year is off to a quiet start and I'm hoping that's a reflection of how the year is going to go.  It would be nice to have a bit of a break after the shenanigans of the last couple of years.  We'll see...This much I know, I'm not much of one for big goals set at the first of the year, only to see them collapse in a heap by February 2nd.  The thing I am shooting for in 2011 is three half-marathons, each in a different state.  I've got my eye on the Ice Age Trail Half in May in Wisconsin, the Bryce Canyon Half in July, and I need to find a third for the fall (if I don't do Madison again in August).  Now that I've put in print, I need to go find the motivation to start running again.  Fattie needs to run.  Again!