Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Clean Up

This is just a random rant...because I can't help myself.

Why is it that restaurant employees insist on sweeping and/or mopping the floor around you while you're eating? This has happened with some frequency lately, and it always makes me not want to eat my food. It happened not long ago at Panera Bread in Brier Creek. Last night it happened while Paulette and I were attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee and a scone at a local Starbucks in Bellevue, WA.

As we sat down, I noticed an employee in the back with a broom in her hand. Sure enough, before long she was out in the store sweeping away. All I could think is that dust and dirt were flying in the air and landing on my food. A less than appetizing thought. I didn't say anything to Paulette, because I didn't want to be a whiner, but I was irritated inside. Next thing you know, the employee brought out the bucket and the mop. You know the one I mean...the big bucket with the wringer on it, and the big stringy wet mop, just dripping with yuck from the last dozen moppings. She mopped so close to us that the mop came within a couple of inches of my shoe. She seemed oblivious to the customers around her. I'm surprised she didn't try to mop under our table. At one point, when she wasn't paying attention, her mop handle nearly clobbered one of the customers, and when she realized it and turned to avoid said clobbering, the mop handle came perilously close to smashing into one of the windows. It was almost comically hazardous! Next thing you know, another employee comes around from behind the counter out into the store, and completely slips on the wet floor and falls flat on her back...literally! She wasn't hurt, fortunately, and they all had a good laugh. It was only then that they started warning customers as they came in that the floor was wet. That floor was a lawsuit waiting to happen. By this point, even Paulette had reached her limit and suggested we leave. With careful steps, we made our exit.

Now I know why this happens. It was less than an hour before closing, and the yourng people who usually work those hours are interested in one thing...getting out at closing time. If you can get some of your chores done during store hours, that's less you have to do after the store closes. I know that. But it is still no excuse for inconveniencing, and in some cases endangering, your customers while they're in the store.

Please, store managers, insist that the clean-up chores in the customer areas of your establishments be done only after the store has closed!

P.S. Get a Swiffer! We all know those disgusting string mops are only smearing last week's grunge onto this week's floors.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Today is the 30th anniversary of the day I became a father.

Well, now...I guess that's a pretty self-centered way of looking at someone else's birthday! What I really want to do is wish my daughter Rachel a very happy 30th birthday today. But in reality, I often think of her birthday as my "fatherhood anniversary", because October 17, 1978 was one of the happiest days of my entire life. I will never forget the unspeakable joy I felt (2 weeks earlier than anticipated!) the first time I held her in my arms. That moment, along with the moment 4 days later when we brought her home and laid her in her own crib for the very first time, made one of my dreams come true. For the past 30 years, I have loved being Rachel's dad, and I couldn't be prouder to call her my beloved daughter.

Rachel is now a mother herself...of two precious 20 month old (today!) twin boys. And I just know that as they get older, they will feel just as proud that they get to call her "Mom".

Rachel, if I was able to be with you today, I'd want you to hold a sign up with the number 30 on it and take your picture (only because you don't have 30 fingers to hold up!), and after supper and presents, I'd love for us to sit next to each other on the couch, so I could read you Dr. Seuss' "Happy Birthday To You". Sure wish we could share the "who-bubs" together one more time, even though you're 30!

Happy Birthday, Kiddo. I love you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Having watched all three debates so far, I've been giving some thought to what might be the best way for voters to learn where the candidates stand on issues, and what plans they have to address problems facing our country. I don't think the current formats even come close to helping us make informed decisions. I'm frustrated that we hear the same talking points in the "debate" format as we do listening to stump speeches. I suggest the following ideas for your comment.

Format #1: Each candidate will run a town hall meeting, without the other candidate present. They will not be televised live, but back to back after both events conclude. This way, one campaign cannot capitalize on knowing what happened at the other candidate's event. Freeflowing questions from citizens, with a moderator whose only role is to assist the citizens in keeping the candidate on point. The moderator has no role as a questioner...only to make sure the candidate doesn't evade the question and move back to standard talking points. Meeting attendees should be identified as undecided voters.

Another rule: candidates are forbidden from saying the name of their opponent, saying the words "my opponent", or otherwise alluding to their opponent in any way. We want to hear the candidates talk about themselves, with no potshots against their opponent. (Might actually be a nice rule for campaign ads, too!). This rule will apply to every debate format.

Format #2: Candidates are interviewed separately by a neutral party, agreed upon by both campaigns. The two candidates will be asked the same exact questions and given the same amount of time to answer the questions. The interviewer may ask one followup question as desired for any question. No questions can be about the opponent. The interview questions will be written by the interviewer. Both interviews will be taped, and then aired back to back, in an order determined by a coin toss.

Format #3: The two candidates sit at a table with a moderator. Based on a coin toss, one candidate will open by asking the other a question. The responder will have a specified amount of time to answer. The questioner will be permitted one follow up question, if desired. The questions can be on any topic, and each candidate may change the questions on the fly if desired. Each candidate will ask the same number of questions. The only role of the moderator is to monitor the time.

I know these ideas have challenges and flaws. But perhaps they will stir up a conversation that will generate better ideas. Almost anything would be better than what we've seen so far. We need a way to hear about issues from each candidate without all of the "noise" caused by mud-slinging, pre-written talking points, and distracting intervention by moderators.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How Good Does It Taste?

It really doesn't matter. Because..."NOTHING tastes as good as thin feels!"

I'm near my low now, weighing within a few pounds of what I did when I got married 32 years ago. Having not so long ago had 30 more pounds on my frame, I know how uncomfortable carrying the equivalent of 2 bowling balls around feels. Not good. Not good at all.

Yet, there are times when a lack of discipline snags me. I can easily let a pound a month creep back. Doesn't take long for the clothes not to fit well anymore, and to have that bloated, lethargic feeling. What has snapped me back to exercising and eating more sensibly during those times is the reminder that nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

Krispy Kremes? Nope!
Snickers Bars? Nope!
Fries? Nope!
Rocky Road Ice Cream? Nope!

Do I avoid these things completely? Nope!

I love chocolate in most any form...and for that matter, lots of other sweets and fattening stuff. I eat them once in awhile. But always keeping in mind that...

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stripped Away

"Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies." Psalm 49:16-17

It's a phrase that has been embraced in the mainstream vernacular: "You can't take it with you!" Everyone knows what it means, but I wonder how many people realize that it comes straight from scripture? I suspect there are other common phrases, used by Christians and non-Christians alike, that find their basis in the Bible. Any of you care to share others you can think of?

Reading in Psalm 49, I'm reminded again that everything we have gets stripped away at death. The older I get, the more aware I've become how unimportant "things" are. I still enjoy them. I'm still captivated by the latest electronic gadget. I'm grateful for the comfortable furnishings in my home. But is accumulating and protecting these things worthy of the time and attention I often give to these endeavors? I know the answer. It doesn't always change my behavior. I need the reminder of Psalm 49.

This is a temporary home. It offers temporary pleasures. I can be grateful for them. But the best use of my time and energy is in making sure I am prepared for the life to my real home. Honoring and worshipping God. Building my relationship with Him...and with others. Striving to become more Christ-like. These are the things that endure...the things that I WILL be able to take with me.

Hard to believe, on such a beautiful day, that everything I enjoy of God's creation will be just a shadow compared to the splendor that is to come. My mind can't really get wrapped around that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Double Nickels

The first time I got an invitation to join the AARP was right when I turned 50. Ridiculous! Not even close to retiring. Not even remotely interested in being made to feel like a senior citizen. That first invitation (and all subsequent ones) have found an immediate home in the circular file. After all, in my head, I'm still in my 20's (OK...late 20's). And what's up with "senior citizen" discounts being offered in certain grocery stores and restaurants starting at age 55? When did attaining senior status switch from 65 down to 55?

So guess who has a senior citizen discount (55 and older) every Tuesday? Kroger does!

And guess who qualifies? My wife does!

She hit the double nickels last week, and just happened to see that 5% discount mentioned in the newspaper ad. You know what, 5% is 5%. I'll take it. The savings could buy some Chick-Fil-A. Or a hot chai at Starbucks.

I'm thinking my wife will make me wait 'til I qualify myself before I get to spend the savings. And that's not for a long time. I'll be paying full price at Kroger until January!