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Archive for March, 2012


Attack of the helpful Zombies

It’s beginning to look like spring in Idaho, and that can only mean one thing…

Spring Projects!

Michelle and I did an early Mass, then stopped at iHop to have some breakfast. This has become our normal Sunday routine, the kids normally sleep in so we take advantage and spend some quality time together, and forcing a teenager to attend Mass when she’s not sure about this whole Catholic thing is NOT a good idea.

Anyway, so we collected up our youngest and headed out to Lowes (she needs the driving experience, and I enjoy the thrill of blood curdling terror when she’s behind the wheel), now let me get this out of the way: I like going to Lowes. They have great stuff for fixing up your house, and more items than any normal human can possibly need. But as we entered the door we where greeted by a friendly employee wanting to offer assistance in our shopping needs. I build guitars, have a fully stocked woodeworking shop, and I’m pretty handy in a pinch. So you can imagine that I don’t need any stinking help, I am a man, and I can find my way around just fine, thank you very much.

So we declined, and where promptly greeted by two more helpful employees. We again declined, and moved on to the first item on our list, only to run again into another helpful employee, another offer declined. By this time my hands where full, so we headed to the front of the store to get a cart, and again had another offer for help. it was at this point we started picking isles that looked to be free of overly helpful employees, especially the ones who seemed to be tracking our every move, which was a bad strategy. Somehow, they can sense a customers presence and show up to make sure that you are finding what you are looking for. We did discover that even if consumed with lost and helpless people, they still somehow where able to call other helpful employees to come and be more helpful. I started having visions of being surrounded by helpful staff members and us beating them off with a set of venetian blinds, and cleaner fluid from isle 12 (its down on the left side, near the bottom).

No strategy seemed to be effective, outnumbered, unable to find clear isles to shop, we obtained what items we could and headed to Home Depot (like idiots) to pick up the supplies that Lowes didn’t have (I’m very picky about sandpaper, and ONLY use a certain kind. Hey I build guitars, I earned the right be picky!). Imagine my horror when we appeared at the front door going into Home Depot and where greeted by an employee who’s only job seemed to be to help lost customers find there way through 299 acres of home improvement goodness!, I almost bolted back to the truck. But once past the gatekeeper, with a firm decline to the help offered. We got through fairly unscathed, with only a few offers for help from the hordes in orange. We purchased our items and headed home to barricade the doors and hope that no more helpful zombies followed us home.

A couple of years ago, I was building a jig for the shop and stopped at the local Ace Hardware. They apparently had adopted a similar strategy of aggressive helpfulness, to the point that while looking at parts we had an employee actually stand a short distance away and watch our every move. If we moved isles, he moved with us, it must be what inmates feel like when being watched by the guards, it was so disconcerting that I stopped going altogether, and wasn’t one bit surprised when the store closed a year later. You can’t freak out your customers, being helpful is a good thing, but if you want to stay in business don’t chase them out the door with zombies who’s only goal in life is to help people.

One has to wonder what these people do in their off-time, do they drive around looking for little old lady’s crossing the street?, do their neighbors hide in their homes until they go to work? It all seems a little creepy and disconcerting to be honest. And the scariest part is that I have to go back, because I need lumber. I know I’m going to be swarmed, but there aren’t many other options. I don’t want to be rude, I just want to shop in piece, especially when I’m part shopping. Maybe I’ll forgo bathing for a week and then go shopping!!!

As the economy continues to go under, it seems that marketing people are getting desperate and that being super helpful is the new thing for large companies. So if your one of those people who make those decisions, go into your stores and just try to buy something when you know what you need. I dare you, I dare you to walk away without feeling like the store is filled with a bunch of bored employees who’s only goal in life is to make customers uncomfortable. Then tell if you think your strategy is still working!!



And in this corner

I’ve been thinking about writing this piece for a while, but I’ve also been reluctant to let it all out. But given the current political climate in the nation, the state of the church and the fact that it’s an election year, I might as well step into the fray.

Let’s start with the Obama administration, I have never seen more idealistic, deaf and frankly out of touch administration than this one. The Constitution seems to have no meaning, they will do anything to push their socialist agenda. So why anyone is surprised that they have used the HHS to push their contraceptive mandates on to church run organizations, is beyond me. All the signs were there during the election, all one had to do was do a little digging, and yet people voted with their emotions rather than their mind. The part that angers me the most is Catholics who voted for Obama, in my opinion they got what they deserved. We attended a meeting on Catholic ethics at our parish, and got a lecture from a bunch of old anti-war hippies about their anti war stances. These are the same people who still have Obama stickers on their cars, I simply can’t understand how you could still support someone whose goal is to restrict your religious freedoms, and still go to Mass.

But the Catholic church that exists in the United States is a shell of what it once was, we have been overtaken with the current psychology of the modern age, and are more concerned about not offending our laity than we are with the truth. We don’t even teach real orthodoxy any more, its all a mixture of light theology and emotionalism. As I’ve stated before, I’ve learned more about the Catholic faith from Orthodox writers than I have more Catholic ones. I’ve been reading the council of Trent, and found it interesting that there is a section devoted to Catechesis and it’s administration. Why are we not following that today?, why are we not back to the Sunday School model and taking the time to make sure the laity are instructed in the elements of our faith? Instead of praise bands, and coffee hours, let’s push instruction and education. We should not be afraid to teach people the basics of philosophy and apologetics, how else are we going to reach the world unless we have laity who are confident and KNOWLEDGEABLE about their faith?

I may disagree with certain points of Catholic Orthodoxy, but I love the Catholic church. It has brought stability to my faith and my life, but because I love it, I can see the faults and want to make it better. However I never became Catholic with the idea that I would mindlessly agree with every point the church teaches, I know there are some who would admonish me for that. But God gave me a mind for a reason, and when I see something I can’t agree with, I’m not going to lie to say otherwise, to do so would be to lose any self respect I have. I can’t stomach believers who become robots, echoing back everything the church teaches them without thought.

We are in the process of dumbing down the population of this country, I don’t know how to put it any other way, or even be polite about it anymore. I work for a utility, on any given week I am submitted to the most mind numbing, paradoxical thinking I’ve ever seen in my life. Everything is spoon fed to the workforce, the company spends an enormous amount of resources selling their agenda to their own employees. After a while people just go numb, you can’t win, you  can’t argue, so you just have to suffer through it. And they wonder why people are apathetic, maybe it’s because instead of treating them like the professionals they are, you treat them all as if they are the lowest common denominator. A case in point is that we as employees had to sit through a week long class on performance in our culture, for me the experience bordered on a new age religion, we where bombarded with pop psychology, told to take the material home and have our family’s evaluate us ( request I refused and ultimately won, but only after getting the ‘it changed my life’ lecture from the instructor). We got the special privilege to hear managers tell us how this program changed their lives, their marriages and their family’s. It was so much like a religion that one gentlemen extolled the virtues by reciting the Evangelical mantra of reading your book everyday and practicing what it taught, it was honestly the same EXACT speech I heard for years in the baptist faith. The difference was this was a company mandated program. The ultimate goal was to make people accountable, but when it came time to do yearly goals, instead of practicing the very system they spent millions on. They spoon fed it the workforce, and wasted time making sure everyone was ‘aligned’. The irony is that had the program worked, simply stating what the goals where and that you are expected to meet them this year, would have been enough. Which is how it used to be done.

The next day two friends and I walked to a new restaurant to get lunch, they had a greeter who’s job as far as I can tell, was to tell us how get in line to order the food. It made me sad that something like that was even needed, the place had good food and a great layout. But if I need someone to show me the obvious then, I shouldn’t be out wondering on my own. I despise restaurants that feel the need to ‘educate’ diners on how their menu works, listen… If your menu is so complicated that I can’t just order the food I want, then I’m going to go eat somewhere else. I don’t need a speech on how to order my frigging food, you have a menu, I order what looks good. What’s so difficult about that? Am I missing something?, are people really that clueless?  I may not want to know the answer to that anymore…

So about this election, let me go out on a limb here and say that I would like to see a good old fashion AGNOSTIC run for president for once. I’m sick and tired of being subjected to the candidates weird religious beliefs and statements. Romney’s a mormon, which has it’s own set of special issues (though I’m told by mormon friends, that he’s a jack mormon at that). The others are all various faiths, but when we get into areas of faith and politics people just say and do stupid things. The media love to find those little tidbits and make mountains out of them, and when you have people like Santorum’s wife commenting that his winning is ordained by God, I just want to go hide somewhere. I’m not actually enthused about any of the current crop, I don’t know where the real conservatives have gone, but boy do I miss them. This whole faith and politics things is such a mess anyway, I argued with a baptist minister one time about single issue voters. He stated that he would never, based on principle vote for someone who supported abortion. I told him that you where never going to find someone to agree with every single thing you believe, these are men, you take the good with the bad. I don’t support abortion, but in reality the President can only effect the issue by creating an activist supreme court. Roe vs Wade, I don’t think, could stand up to a good honest analysis at that level. So I would in fact vote for someone who is soft on the issue, as long as they elect constitutional judges, and not activists to the bench. You can’t think single issue with politics, it’s never that simple. Given the current crop of clowns, I don’t see this country turning around for a long time.

Apple released new products this week, the new iPad is cool and all. But honestly there’s nothing there that would cause me to leave my current iPad2 and upgrade. They really needed something more than just the retina display, I’m wondering if they are still floundering from the loss of Steve Jobs?. I sure hope they can recover. I love my Apple T.V. and MIGHT buy a new one for 1080p, but until the movie industry pulls their heads out of their hind ends and realizes that we now live in a digital content age, I’m reticent to support any format. Everything’s so fragmented, Hulu only shows certain shows on the computer, but not a console. Apple won’t support Hulu, and half the studio’s won’t even release shows to a digital format. I would PAY to see Lost Girl on iTunes, but for some unknown reason SyFy has refused to do so. I don’t get it. Then they go after the internet, using the guise of stopping piracy. Piracy’s not the issue, the industry is filled with dinosaurs who at every technological turn have resisted change, and then once forced have benefited financially from that change. Instead they keep pushing systems where they can control their content and greedily charge you for every viewing, remember DivX, well now they have ultraviolet, which is worse in many ways. I predict that what is going to happen, is the same thing that happened with CD’s, the industry is going to dig in and the rest of the world will simply start producing media through digital outlets, leaving the traditional industry in the dust.

John Piper, the voice of the reformed mindset, and all around narsisistic know it all. Has once again attempted Theodicy regarding the Tornado’s in the midwest. For those who don’t know Theodicy is the attempt to explain how evil can exist with an Omniscient and all loving creator. As usual Pat Robertson opened his big mouth and blathered about it as well, it’s not enough that we live in a fallen world where bad things happen. But these self appointed morons run out and do their best to make the rest of us look like a bunch of nut cases. In Pipers case, his reformed theology means that God is in control of EVERYTHING (this is known as a determinism) and free will is an illusion. So he has to justify the tornadoes, you can read his latest blather here: Fierce Tornadoes and the Fingers of God I don’t understand why it’s not enough that people lost their lives, their homes, and entire towns where wiped from the face of the earth, on top of that you have to tell that God did it. Here’s an idea, maybe the WEATHER caused the Tornado and because people live in a area PRONE to tornadoes, they had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad things happen, if we are to represent the love of God then we should mobilize support, physical and moral to help those in need. Not blather on about some theological point that no one cares about.

It looks like spring is early this year, we ventured out twice this weekend to go to the driving range, I’m still as bad as ever. Some things never change, but I still enjoy playing Golf, so the love hate relationship will continue unabated. I’m hoping it says nice, and that spring comes early so I can get out more often, it’s been a dismal winter for some reason and I’m ready for some warmth and outdoor activities.

Time to go play… I feel better now :)