Friday, May 30, 2008

Food for thought

I know you have heard that song line: “It’s all about the Benjamin ba-by” but I am here to tell you that it just isn’t true. For those that are not “Hip” like me, Benjamin refers to the hundred dollar bill. Ok I just gave away my not-with-it-ness by using the word Hip. I don’t even know what term they use these days for being "hip" but you know what I meant. The point is, that it really is all about the attitude ba-by.

These days, I sometimes look for a good attitude and customer service more than I do the actual product itself. I avoid some establishments and go out of my way to others based solely on the service that I receive. Some of it has to do with lack of job satisfaction but I truly believe that some people would be miserable no matter where they work. I work with some of these people and sometimes I just have to bite my lip because I really want to say something. Every once in a while I do slip when it is just too much to take. If I feel I am getting close to saying something, I sometimes retreat to my office and read some Bible verses and try to remind myself to keep quiet.

Recently though, I felt compelled to write two letters because of great service that I had received. The first one was about a local convenience store. I stop there from time to time for coffee or gas. Usually it is early in the morning, around 5 am. When I do stop, the people are always friendly and the place is really clean. If I find something like a coffee spill on the counter, I point it out and someone comes right over and cleans it up. I wrote to the company and told them how much I liked shopping at this particular store and they passed it along to the manager. They actually forwarded the email to the manager . The next time I stopped in, the girl at the counter asked me what my last name was. When I told her, she said “I thought it was you” and called for the manager. Oops, I sent the email in from work and it has my last name in it. The manager was in the back and came out and hugged me and said thank you. Now the store directly across the street is just the opposite. It is dirty, cluttered, and the people working there are not very friendly.

The other company I wrote to believe it or not was a fast food place called Mcburgers. (not their real name but you get the picture) I also sometimes stop there in the mornings on my way to work. When I get to the drive up window I am greeted with an Eeyore sounding voice that says “can I help you” I give my order and pull up to the first window. The girl at this window then says the price and nothing more. After I get my change, she says “pull up” At the pickup window however it is a whole different ball game. The window opens and a young girl with a bright smile greats me with a happy “Good morning sir, here’s your order”. Then she repeats what I ordered. After that she says “Have a great day” and I tell her to do the same. I usually only stop there a few times a month but this girl knows that I like jelly and what kind and she puts some in my bag without me asking. Sometimes I still ask for jelly just to check and she says I already put it in the bag.

I wrote to this company and told them about both girls and made a comparison between the two. I got a nice email back, thanking me for taking the time to comment and they also sent me a coupon for a free burger. (I didn’t expect to get anything but it was a nice gesture) The next time I stopped in, the first girl had changed her speech but not her attitude. She still sounded like Eeyore but she did say “good morning, can I take your order”? The other girl smiled even more than usual and I could tell that the comments had got back to them both. It is nice to hear something positive and not always the negative stuff. I think that is why I like my new job so much. When I do something good I hear about it. At my old job, we only heard negative things.

See you can make a difference if you speak up and say something positive.

Have a wonderful day,
Greg

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's going around. Do you have it?

Better watch out, there is something going around and it is very contagious. I won’t say where or who I got it from but I am trying not to give it to anyone else. I hope I haven’t. You know what it is don’t you. It’s the blog blues. It’s when you have lots to write about but for some reason you just can’t sit down and write. I think in the pre-blog days it was called writers block. I actually blame mine on the weather. It has been so nice lately that I just want to be outside. The bad part is that I have so much to write about that I feel I should at least write a little.

Last week was the start of the Spoleto festival here in Charleston. The market was packed with people on Saturday. I didn’t know it but during Spoleto, the Farmers Market says open later than usual. They had bands, jump castles, more vendors than usual, jugglers, people on stilts, and magicians. There was a small brass quartet playing right behind us and I wanted to ask them if they could play the Umpa Lumpa song from Willy Wonka but my son said that would embarrass him so I didn’t. I bet they could though. As luck would have it though, I forgot my camera so there are no pictures. The good news is that Spoleto will be going on for another three weeks so I do have time to get some photos.

Our plants are doing great. I have so many day lilies blooming now you wouldn’t believe it. Again I haven’t taken any photos but I will do that soon. We have been spending a lot of time organizing, weeding and repotting our plants. Pretty soon, we will have it all in order though and I will have more time to blog. We have had a few nice surprises too in our garden. We had some blue thistles bloom. At least I think that is what they are. Someone gave them to us and they started blooming this year. When we called to ask what they were, the person that gave them to us said she didn’t know. We also have this kind of purple flower that we think is a ginger. If I get a chance this evening, I will take some pictures of each and maybe give a prize to anyone who can correctly identify them.

I finished Psalms. Yea me!!! I am now reading Proverbs. I don’t believe I have ever read them before. I do like it though, very much. It speaks a lot about wisdom. There are a lot of great words of wisdom in Proverbs and a lot of great rules to live by. Do you know what the beginning of wisdom is? I bet some of you know the answer to that.

Have a wonderful and Blessed day,
Greg

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life Cycles

We had another round of bad storms last night. Fortunately there were no tornadoes in our immediate area. I think the closest one touched down about 30 miles away. These storms keep getting worse these days and I have to wonder if it is a taste of things to come or just a low spot in the rhythm of life. When I look at the news, I see chaos all around me and it looks there is no relief in sight. There are killings, floods, earthquakes, fires, riots and more disease than one can mention.

Even if some of these things don’t directly affect me, they still cause stress. It’s no wonder I am tired all the time. I really need some serious quiet time to recharge my batteries. And I know I am not alone. In talking with some other people at work they are all feeling the same way. What we need is little quiet places in our lives where we can get away and sit and meditate. I like working in the greenhouse. That is my quiet place.

I am still reading Psalms. I know, I know, I am a slow reader. I do enjoy Psalms as it is very poetic and easy to read. Most verses were intended to be sung. In reading though, I noticed that David went through the same things we are going through now. At times life for him was great and he praised God and thanked him for all he did for him. At other times though he was down and feeling defeated and he sounded very depressed. At those times he questioned God’s intent and didn’t understand the reasoning behind what was happening. He often asked “What have I done to deserve this?” I do that a lot when things go wrong. I wonder what I did to deserve something bad happening in my life.

Although I am only a short ways into my reading of the Bible, there have already been killings, floods, earthquakes, fires, riots and more disease than one can mention. All the things that are going on today have happened before. In some cases they were worse than they are today. In most cases, they have happened more than once. So maybe this isn’t the beginning of the end. Maybe this is just a low point in life and things will get better. I am not ready to give up and say that this is the end so I am going to keep on living.

Personally, life for me has been great lately. I have nothing to complain about. There may be some little things but the little things aren’t worth complaining about. The world around me may be crashing in but my world is rosy. I must be doing something right for God to bless me like he has. I think we should thank God for the wonderful things in life and blame man (ourselves) for the bad things. Usually though it is the other way around. People tend to the take credit when something good happens to them and blame God when things go wrong. I would be taking a lot of credit these days if I did that. So how is life treating you?

Have a blessed day,
Greg

Monday, May 19, 2008

Odds and ends

TGIM. It was a busy weekend for us but a great one. I took Friday off and got some Honey-Do’s done around our house. We started by taking my son’s car into the shop for some needed repairs. It is really running bad and it looks like a bad fuel pump is the culprit. After we dropped it off at the shop, my wife and I went to breakfast. Sitting down to breakfast is something we rarely do so it was a nice treat. We went to the Berry Patch. They have the best breakfast in town in my opinion. After we got home, I did some lawn mower tune-ups and then did a little work on our plants. I barely scratched the surface of our plant maintenance though.


Saturday was a busy day at the Farmers Market. The place was very crowded as there are lots of tourists in town. It was cool in the morning and never really got hot. But where were the fashion police when you need them. What is up with some people these days? We had more fun people watching that we have at a boat landing. Big floppy hats must be in style because lots of women were wearing them. You would have thought it was Easter. The Goth look is in at the Market as well. Nothing says “pretty woman” Like black leather clothes, facial piercings, and pasty white skin. It really turns me on. Yuck. There were also an abundance of dogs this week. Everyone wants to show off Fido. One guy even had one of those ugly dogs with only a little wispy hair in his face. This thing was pale grey with tiny dark brown spots all over his body. I seriously felt like the dog was ashamed to be out in public.


Sunday was rest day. We got started on weeding the flowers and ended up doing it all day. We weeded over 2 thousand day lilies though and they are all starting to bloom. I made BBQ chicken for lunch with fresh corn and beans. Sunday seems to be the only time I can get the whole family to sit down to dinner together. The only negative thing was that there were lots of spiders. I really hate spiders and think they are the Devil’s work. I even killed 3 black widows this weekend. They really freak me out seeing them and I normally don’t like killing things but I did kill them. They came back to haunt me in my dreams though so they got the last laugh.


Let me leave you on a positive note. One of the other places we visited in DC was the American Indian Museum. It is full of Indian artifacts and really interesting. There are also story tellers and a great gift shop where you can purchase Indian articles. It is pretty new and not too crowded. If you go, you just have to see the arrow heads and axes. I never knew this but Indians got the axes from the “white man”. To me this is funny since the old Indian movies depicted Indians as savages for killing people with the tomahawks. So we made them and gave them to the Indians. Then stole their land, but they are the savages for fighting back. What’s wrong with this picture? Here are some pictures I took at the museum.








Have a great day,
Greg

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The cost of Freedom

I loved visiting our Capitol. We had a private tour of the Capitol building thanks to our Senator. If you are visiting our Nation's Capitol, make sure and write your Senator and ask for tours. They can be very helpful. Most people were hearded around in the Capitol building in large groups of 15 to 20 people and had to wait in long lines. We however were taken from Senator Demint's office to the Capitol building via the underground tram system and had a personal tour with just the 4 of us.








One of the places we all wanted to visit in Washington was the Vietnam Wall. We had numerous friends and family members that served in Vietnam so it is very special to us all. I love this picture as it shows three indipendent groups of Hero's. First off there is the Wall itself showing all the names of the brave men and women who died fighting in the Vietnam war. If you don't get choked up at this wall then pack your bags and get out of my country. Whether you supported the war or not, these were all hero's that died for you. The second item of note in the picture is the Washington Memorial. George Washington was another hero or our country who fought for our freedom. Those early American Hero's set the stage for freedom in this country. The final hero's in this picture are the ones in the helicopter. Throughout our visit to Washington, there were helicopters in the air, making sure that our Nation's Capitol was safe. These people are working here at home to keep us all safe and I salute them.






Have a safe and wonderful day and thank the men and women that protect us for the freedom's that you have.



Greg

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not your typical Mother's Day story.

My plans were to sleep late then get up and fix breakfast for my family but that didn’t happen. I awoke around 5 am to the sound of thunder. I lay there trying to go back to sleep as the thunder continued to crash about every minute or so. As I lay there, I heard the thunder booms getting faster and faster until they were going off continuously. If you are a big weather buff like me, you know what that means. Usually it is a sign of a tornado developing.


I got up and went to the living room and turned on the TV. It was as I suspected. The Weather Channel was reporting tornado activity in our area. The system was moving rapidly though and it was soon gone. There were reports that a tornado had touched down near my Mother in Law’s house so being that it was Mother’s day, I decided to go check it out. I got my oldest son up and we headed into town. We only found a few trees down in that area but it was obvious that there had been hail from the small branches and leaves littering the roads.


We got back home and braced for the next round of storms bearing down on us. This was the storm that hit Oklahoma but it had died down some by the time it reached us. We got some needed rain and some wind but nothing serious. In the early afternoon, I fixed a nice dinner for my family and we were able to relax a little. We had garlic shrimp, grilled chicken, fresh squash from our garden, beans and rolls. The weather then turned nice so we decided to do a little plant work in our greenhouse.


Around 5 pm, we began to hear thunder again and the wind picked up. The weather service said there was another storm heading our way so we ”hunkered down” and waited to see what would happen. Around 6 pm, things were winding down and it looked like we were again spared. All of a sudden, the wind began whipping and the trees were bending and swirling around. It was a very odd wind, changing directions rapidly and the air was filled with dirt, dust and leaves. It only lasted a minute though and then it was gone. As soon as the wind began dying at our house, the power began blinking on and off. A few minutes later, it went off for good. We turned on the portable radio to see what was happening.


The weather service said there was a tornado on the ground on our island. From the path they described, it had passed right over out house. It actually touched ground about a mile from us and then plowed it way through the island, knocking down trees and power lines. From what I heard, it only destroyed a few houses but that is because that area is mostly woods. After the storm was gone, we took a ride to see what was going on but all the roads on and off the island were blocked. Our power was off until 2 am this morning and I am dead tired from getting no sleep. The main road on our island is still blocked but I was able to use a smaller road and get to work.


Last night as I lay there sweating without air conditioning, I thought about how fortunate we were and what It must be like in Oklahoma where the storm did its most damage. These storms keep getting worse and worse and have to just pray and thank God for sparing my friends and family. Say a prayer today for the families that lost their houses and the people that lost loved ones in the storm.








Photo's from Charleston's news paper, "The post and Courier". It was too dark for me to take pictures this morning. This is a few miles from our house.


Have a Blessed day,

Greg

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's wrong with this picture.

Can you tell what is wrong with this picture? It is of the Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetary. Looks kind of strange doesn't it.







This may help you out. This is a picture taken in the opposite direction from the other side of the reflecting pool. (That is The Lincoln Memorial off in the distance)







And the answer is:

The first picture is actually upside down. It is a reflection of the memorial taken in the reflecting pool outside. I should have lots more Arlington photo's in a few days. Stay tuned.

Have a wonderful day,
Greg

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Getting there is half the fun.

I have lots to tell about our trip to DC so let me get started. To begin with we took a plane up and the train back. For some reason, I was able to get cheaper tickets that way. It was also something my family wanted to do because my sons had never flown or taken a train. The train ride was 9 hours long. The flight was only 3 hours but that doesn’t count the waiting. For the flight, we had to arrive 2 hours early. Then there was a 2 hour hold over in Atlanta. It also took us 30 minutes to get our luggage so the total flight time was 7.5 hours. It was also much less of a hassle as far as security to take the train. They didn’t make us take our shoes off or unpack my CPAP.


The plane seats were small too and I rubbed elbows with the people beside me the entire flight. My knees were also jammed into the seat in front of me. The seats on the train were large and there was a foot rest to prop up your legs. We could walk around whenever we wanted. On the plane, they gave us a 2 oz pack of pretzels and about 4 oz of soda. We had to pay for everything on the train but they had a club car and you could get pizza, sandwiches, burgers, sodas and mixed drinks. I had some snacks and a little wine. You could even bring food and drinks with you if you wanted to. I very much preferred the train ride.


The only thing negative about the train ride was the guy behind me. I think he was Forrest Gump from the way he was talking. He has done everything and seen everything this world has to offer. There was no subject that he wasn’t an expert on. For instance: (and I am not making this up, He really said all this)


Did you know that the Pope has a pilot’s license? It’s true. He drives himself around in his own private helicopter. It’s called "Air Pope One". There is a big cross on the side and everything……Ok I spewed wine out of my nose on that one.


You probably didn’t know this but “Wife Swapping” was originated by Air Force Officers. You heard it right. Back in the day, they would ask their buddies to take care of their wives when they were away and it sort of developed into a wife swapping thing. These days though, Firemen are the biggest swappers. It’s because they spend so much time together that it is just like sharing with family. At this point, I am laughing so hard my eyes are watering. I passed a little note to my wife on the other side of the train and told her that I never knew that. I am shocked because my father was a fireman. I put a note saying. “Mom was naughty I guess.”


And here is a little known fact: In Spain it is illegal to flirt with a married woman. When this guy was in Spain, he witnessed this himself. A married man and woman were walking down the street. The woman simply smiled at a passing stranger and he smiled back. Seeing this, the husband became enraged. Fortunately for him, he was carrying a large sword. (I know I often carry one around myself) He took it out and cut the strangers head off with one quick chop. The police arrived and arrested the woman for flirting and did nothing to the husband because he was within his rights. See what you learned here today.


This guy talked about politics, sports, science current events and even religion. He knew so much about religion I think he could be the pope. I learned things about the Bible that I never knew existed. He talked constantly for 6 hours until the guy next to him got off. (Either that or he shot himself I am not sure) Once he shut up, I got a little nap in.


All in all the travel part of the trip was excellent. I think next time we will take the train both ways. There is a nite train and you can sleep the entire trip if you want and wake up at your destination. Once you get to Union station, you can just jump on the Metro to get around. I will tell give you some Metro Tips on my next post. Let me leave you with some advice and some pictures. The Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument are really spectacular. I highly recommend visiting them at night. The Lincoln picture is a little fuzzy but I think it looks good that way. Click on the pictures for a full sized view.





Have a Blessed Day,
Greg

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaack

It sure is great to be back home. We had a wonderful trip but like the saying goes; "There is no place like home". I have so much to write about and tell everyone but today I will just try to get caught up on my blog reading. I do have tons of pictures to share but since I am running late, let me just give you a teaser. This is one of the places we visited. It is a library. I bet you can guess from this one picture where we visited. I will post lots more later today and in the following weeks.




This is the fountain in front of the building.




Here is a little hint for those that are just waking up. A lot of Congress men and women use this library. :)

Have a wonderful day,
Greg