Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Math AGAIN

My wife and I had lunch at a Burger King yesterday and the new math has struck again. The young lady was having difficulties with her register, her manager, and a customer and along I come wanting to order lunch. My bill was $10.25 and I gave her a $20 bill. She took the change out of the drawer looked at it - made a feeble attempt to count it back - gave up and wadded up the cash and put it in my hand. I simply stuck it in my pocket. This morning I was sorting my pockets and counted out the money in my pocket and it was $14.75. Burger King was the only place I went and according to my math I should have had $9.75 in my pocket. I often wonder if they have any "change counting back" training any more. I can't tell you the last time someone actually counted change back, "25, 50, 75, makes eleven, twelve, thirteen fourteen, fifteen and five makes twenty."

I will put my $5.00 windfall in the collection plate this morning - thank you Burger King.

Monday, March 23, 2009


The year before my wife graduated from high school (don't even think I'm going to say the year)... she acquired a concrete frog. The frog stayed with her through the rest of high school, her trip off to college, the 17 years of her first marriage and 23 years of our marriage. This was an outdoor frog - he wasn't house broken.

The frog lived in Iowa, Florida, Rhode Island, Illinois, Louisiana, California and Minnesota. He weathered cold, ice, snow, 2 hurricanes, 1.5 earthquakes and the brutality of movers, but, our home was not home without the concrete frog sitting by the front door. Last year - the cold, snow and ice finally took their toll and when the snow cleared all that was left was a crumbled bit of concrete.

Two of our grandkids thought that the frog should have a burial, so they buried what was left of the frog in a flower bed and used a brick for a headstone (above photo). Katharine gave a beautiful eulogy for the frog which ended, "... I hope he goes to hell...".

"Katharine" her brother yelled, "Grandma she said a bad word." When Grandma inquired about why she would say such a thing, Katharine said, "I couldn't spell heaven...".

Yesterday while at Target we came upon a frog (unpainted) which looked exactly like the recently deceased and buried frog. The frog was purchased and we tromped off to Lowe's Hardware to buy frog paint. The guy at the paint counter got a chuckle over the story and said he had never been asked to pick out paint for a frog.

Here is our newest addition...

... maybe he'll last as long as the last frog.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One Bad Dude

Continuing my story from yesterday - My dad was not a racist, but was uneducated in relation to race. He carried images in his head that he obtained from living life in a white community in rural Iowa. He had not been exposed to people who were different from him. He also had the images that television and newspaper put in his head that white people should fear black people.

Jump into the future (from 1969) about 18 years. I was living in Minneapolis, MN and working for an urban ministry, Midwest Challenge, in the their book division and I had an assignment to interview Ted Jefferson. Ted had lived a life of crime culminating in a first degree murder conviction. He had recently written a book outlining his life story and how God had intervened in his life. He had been paroled (unheard of for a first degree murder conviction) and was running a half-way house in North Minneapolis.

On the weekend I had scheduled the interview my folks came to town to visit and I asked my dad if he'd like to come along. He agreed. As we were nearing our destination it was apparent to my dad that we were driving in an African-American part of town. As we entered the house where the interview was going to be, my dad became visibly nervous. We sat down at a kitchen table with several African American males who had all been convicted of some felony. By this time I imagine my dad was about to pee his pants. I imagine he thought that we were going to be beaten, robbed and killed at any moment. And, then... Ted walked in...

Ted was a compassionate Christian filled with love and concern for his fellow man and was dedicated to helping others. He quickly made my dad feel at ease as he shared his story and his vision. He gave my dad an autographed copy of his latest book and I know it had a lasting impression on him as he spoke of it often. I can see my dad back in Iowa Falls at the morning coffee club telling the others about how he met this "bad dude" in Minneapolis and lived to tell the story.

My dad has been gone nearly 11 years and I regret we did not visit more. Ted has since passed on and perhaps he, my dad and Bob Tate are all having a good time in heaven - singing and telling stories. It's a pleasant thought for me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bob Tate

Life is weird sometimes and every now and then throws a curve, provides a bit of information about the past and teases you with the future. This week has had all of those elements.

The Present: I took a photo Wednesday night that shows the beauty of this planet on which we live.

The Past: During my senior year in high school in Iowa Falls, Iowa, the local Junior College, Ellsworth College put on a musical, the name escapes me at the moment, however one of the leads was a young black man, Bob Tate, who had a gorgeous tenor voice. Through the theatre program at the high school I had the opportunity to meet him, and we became friends of sort. One day, I called my Mom and asked if I could bring a friend home for supper. No problem. We walked in and I could see the shock in my folk’s face, or a least my Dad, who evidently had some pre-conceived racial ideas. It was tense all through supper. Bob then noticed the piano in the living room and asked if he could play. My Dad (reluctantly) agreed. You could see my Dad’s attitude and demeanor change as Bob played the piano. He made those keys sing... My Dad, also a tenor and a pianist, was put at ease and the rest of the night was spent singing around the piano.

Over the years I have often wondered what ever happened to Bob Tate after he left Iowa Falls. I knew he was from Waterloo, but never made a effort to find out. There was always next week.

This week I ran out of next weeks. His obituary was in the paper this week. He was 62 and had spent his life as a church musician. I regret not looking him up. He was instrumental in changing my Dad’s attitude about race (I have another story to tell about that – but that will have to be at a later time). He was also a friend to me.

What did I learn this week? - don't wait until next week to tell someone you appreciate what they do, who they are and that you care for them. There just may not be a next week...

The Curve and the Future: Let's just say, for the moment, "Life is interesting!"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Whacky World

It seems that every day you hear some new "bad"news about the economy, "... we're in a recession...", "... cost of goods are going up...", "... unemployment is rising..." and a lot of other gloomy predictions. I don't wish to downplay these concerns, but I do believe that fear begets fear. As the "gloomy" predictions continue people start thinking, "...m-m-m-m-m maybe they're right..." and they start to change their behavior.

Some behavior is good to change - save more, spend less on credit, and plan your financial future. I know first hand that people are changing their behavior. In my little (and it is little) corner of the world of finance, people are saving more (my deposits are up) and are spending less (loans down a bit). Economists will say that these are the signs of a recession - I say they're signs of people waking up and paying attention.

I grow tired of the gloom and doom. "6% unemployment..." Why can't they say, "94% of Americans are employed.". Perhaps good news is not news...

If you have good news- please, put it in a comment to this Post...

Have a great day!!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Remember the New Water Heater?

My wife and I got home from work at about 5:30 last night. We were scurrying around opening mail, and fixing something to eat before going to chime and choir practice at the church. My wife opened the Culligan Bill and said, "$60? When did they deliver salt?" I didn't know so I went to the basement to see if there had been salt delivered. I looked in the container and it was filled with salt... that's the end of that [I thought].

As I was walking away I noticed my feet were wet, "Shit... where's that coming from?" [Recall that we've recently had a failed sump pump, clogged drain and a new water heater.] I started looking for the source of the water. It seemed to come from the direction of the new water heater... , "Crap..." Then I saw it - a little stream of water shooting out from where one of the copper pipes was soldered. I had no idea how long it had been leaking - but judging from the water it had been a couple of days at least.

A quick call to the plumber resulted in a plumber showing up within 30 minutes [I was impressed] - he fixed the leak and said they guarantee their work and there would be no charge. He indicated that it is uncommon for this to happen, but on occasion a soldered joint fails. That didn't comfort me since all I saw was a big puddle of water (again)!!

I am thankful that the Culligan Bill was $60 because it sent me to the basement. Who knows how long it would have been before we discovered the leak?

Now my question is this - can I send him a bill for the time and energy I spent mopping up water - again? Probably not... at least I knew right where the mop and bucket were...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Day Well Spent

The seminar I attended yesterday was filled with information. I love to attend these as you meet people with the same interests (and the same toys). I picked up some suggestions and ideas, and even learned of some additional capabilities of my camera. It was a day well spent.

As a side note: The Canon Guy has the perfect job - he gets to play with the newest, the best, and most expensive camera equipment!!! I had some serious lens envy going...