Sunday, December 29, 2013

If You Like Your Lightbulbs....

Electric bulb from Neolux (max. 230 V, 60 W, E...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If I were running for president today, I would run on the platform "If you like your light bulbs, you can keep your light bulbs."  After all, that particular line worked pretty successfully for one particular president when it came to his health care bill.  So what if it was a big colossal lie.

Thanks to the ruling elite who know far better than the rest of us what types of products we should have and use, effective January 1st, the United States will ban the production of an item that has been in American homes for over 100 years, the incandescent light bulb.  Thomas Edison must be spinning in his grave. You'll still be able to buy them until existing inventory sells through, so stock up now.

George W. Bush proved that he was no real conservative when he signed into law the bill that phases out the traditional light bulb.  Sure compared to Barack Obama, he is a right wing nut job as my liberal friends would say, but no true conservative would take a safe and reliable product used by nearly everybody and force people to have to go to more expensive, and in some cases, more hazardous products.  That is not how the free market works.

Granted, the choices we will now have will last longer and save you on your electric bill, but the initial outlay is a bit much for the average person's wallet, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck.  It is really going to be a hardship for lower and middle income families.  I am not crazy about any of the options the government is forcing upon its citizenry.  Just another little bit of our freedom being taken away from us.

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb
English: Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The compact fluorescent bulb, or CFLs, are the most affordable of the options that we will have to choose them.  Frankly, I hate them.  I hate there twisted curly-q shape.  Sure, there are some that have the twisted bulb nicely encased in a more traditional light bulb shape, but even those still have their problems.  They are dangerous.  CFLs contain mercury, which is such a horrible toxin that states, including Maryland, have banned the use of mercury in thermostats for your home cooling/heating system.  If you happen to break a CFL, you might need to call in a hazmat crew.  If you think I am exaggerating, just check out what is on the Environment Protection Agency's website regarding cleaning up a broken CFL.

The other option that folks have to choose from are LED lights.  LED lights apparently aren't much safer as they may contain arsenic and lead.  Again, there are very detailed instructions on cleaning up an LED light if they break.  One site I saw said to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning up a broken LED light and to use a broom, no vacuum.  Then dispose of those gloves, mask, and broom after cleaning.  Also, LED lights are extremely expensive.

Today, I did my grocery shopping at my local Wegman's Supermarket.  I decided to pick up a few packs of incandescent bulbs.  Unfortunately, there was only one 4-pack of 60 watt bulbs available.  I looked at some of the options available to me and was saddened.  Some of the LED lights were nearly $20 per bulb.  I conservatively have about 20 light bulbs in my house.  When I do have to replace them, they usually come in bunches.  That is not an outlay of cash that I am prepared to make.  Hopefully, there will be something more affordable.  Until then, I will be stocking up on my incandescent bulbs while I can.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spread Some Joy--Say Merry Christmas

The Christmas holiday season can be a time of great stress for some people.  I am not immune from the stress of the holidays.  My son has been home from school for the Christmas break since Friday.  I am already stressed about trying to get him back to school on January 1st.

I should explain what happened on the Thanksgiving break with our son.  From the time he got home for that break, he refused to leave the house.  Even though he talked about going to my brother's house for Thanksgiving dinner, when it came time to go, he refused.  We ended up having dinner at home.  Thankfully, I had bought a small turkey that my wife planned to cook the day after Thanksgiving so that we would have "leftovers."

When it came time to take our son back to school on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it was one of the worst experiences in some time for that task.  We fought him for most of the afternoon before giving up for the night.  He hit me so hard in the ear that my ears rang and I had some residual hearing issues for several days after.  My wife finally got him back a day late but it was a monumental task.

So what has me stressed a few days before Christmas?  You can probably guess from the preceding two paragraphs that so far during the break, my son is refusing to go anywhere.  I offered to take him out to lunch for hamburgers, no luck.  Same thing with trying to get him to go for a ride to look at Christmas lights.  So far he is saying he is going to go to my sister's and my in-laws houses for Christmas.  Let's hope he does.

Sunday mornings is one of the days that I usually use to take care of my grocery shopping.  I left the house to go take care of the groceries and it was pouring down rain.  I got in the car, with everything on my mind and headed to the store.  By the time I got to Wegman's, the rain had slowed to a trickle, so at least I wouldn't get drenched going from the parking lot to the store.

My stress did not subside once I got inside the store.  In fact, it started to increase.  One of the first things that I was looking for in the meat department was out of stock.  It was going to be dinner tonight so I quickly came up with a Plan B.  The store was particularly crowded, and the aisles of the store were stacked with merchandise so maneuvering through the aisles was difficult at best.

As I was nearing the end of my shopping trip, I am sure that my face was not the friendliest it could be.  It was then that I pushed my cart pass another father pushing a car with his little daughter in the seat.  She leaned over and with the biggest smile on her face squealed to me, "Merry Christmas!"

My demeanor instantly changed and the frown on my face melted and was replaced with a smile.  I look at her and cheerfully said to her, "Well Merry Christmas to you too!"  She laughed with delight.  So do yourself and someone else a favor and put a smile on your face and tell somebody "Merry Christmas."  You just might make someone's day.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Solution to the Washington Redskins Name Controversy

Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present
Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I grew up a Washington Redskins fan.  For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of the team.  My earliest recollections were in the late 1960's when they were a horrid team.  I lived through the George Allen years, and thankfully, the Joe Gibbs era.  I have remained a fan even through the mostly bad years of Daniel Snyder's tenure as owner of the team.

Now, these days, my beloved Washington Redskins are under attack.  I live in the DC area, and it seems like you can't watch a local news broadcast without somebody bringing up the team name.  Even President Obama, when he should be more concerned about the government shutdown, is chiming in saying that the Redskins should consider changing the name because some groups think it is racially offensive.

This isn't the first time that the question of whether or not the Redskins should change their name has been brought up.  It is the first time that it has gained the traction in the media that it has.  Naturally, those that stoke the fire are the liberal, politically correct, elitists of the world.  I don't have to tell you how little use I have for that crowd.

Years ago, when Tony Kornheiser of ESPN was still writing for the Washington Post, he suggested that rather than change the name of the team, the team should change their mascot.  Instead of the noble looking Native American that adorns the helmet, he suggested to change the logo to a potato, as in redskin potatoes/  A humorous concept but then we would have to re-write the team fight song. Here is my first pass at it:
Hail to the Redskins, Hail to Victory, Spuds on the Warpath, Fight for old DC.  Run or pass and score, we want a lot more. Bake 'em, Fry 'em, Touchdown! Watch the point soar. Fight on, Fight on, til you have won, Spuds of Washington!
It just isn't the same.

Instead, if things persist, my suggestion would be for the Redskins to take a page from the musician Prince.  Remember when Prince decided to change his name to a symbol?  Until he went back to using the name Prince, everybody always referred to him as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince."  The Redskins could do the same thing.  Instead of the Washington Redskins, they could become the Washington the NFL team formerly called the Redskins.

Quite frankly, I hope it doesn't come to that.  I am so tired of the liberal mindset where anything that is offensive to anybody has to be forbidden.  I find the name Barack Obama offensive but you don't see me calling for him to change it (though I thought about Tweeting that).  If the NFL does cave in and forces the Redskins to change their name, I may be done with the NFL.

Hail to the Redskins!
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Think the Coffee Machine at Work is a Dude!

The only way to #JumpStart your day @samsungca...
Flavia Machine via dickster1961

We have a Flavia machine in my office.  For those of you who do not know what it is, it is a single serve brewer that uses individual pouches to brew a cup of coffee or tea.  It can also be used to make cappuccinos and mochaccinos by combining two different pouches.

Unlike my Keurig K-Cup brewer, the Flavia machine has a sensor under the spout to prevent the brewer from brewing if there is nothing beneath the spout to catch the hot liquid.  I hate to admit this, but there has been more than one occasion when I began brewing a K-Cup and forgot to place a mug under the spout.  What a mess!  Sometimes you just operate on automatic first thing in the morning, and accidents happen.

Recently, I have been having a few issues with the Flavia machine at work.  As you can see in the picture above, when the machine is brewing, the liquid flows straight down, directly into the mug.  On more than one occasion, the machine has been a little less than accurate with the brewing of my beverage.  Instead of the drink flowing straight down into my mug, the drink sprayed either behind the mug or off to the side.  Not only do I not get a full beverage, but then I have a mess to clean up.

It reminded me of my when my son was learning to urinate in the toilet.  Let's just say that his aim wasn't the best.  Not that I myself am not subject to occasional bad aim, especially if I wake up in the middle of the night and need to relieve myself.  Sure, I have all sorts of excuses.  Perhaps I didn't turn on the light because I didn't want to disturb anybody, perhaps I was sleepwalking, or I just didn't put on my glasses and couldn't see.  So that is the reason I think the coffee machine at work is a dude.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is Customer Service Dead?

I started working when I was 15 years old.  At that time, the concept of customer service was instilled into my psyche.  I was taught that the better I treated the customers, the more they would return, resulting in more hours for me, and therefore more money.  Consequently, I tend to spend my money at businesses where I am treated well.  Conversely, I avoid those places that don't.

My wife and I have recently had some very bad experiences. The first occurred when my wife went to get her eyes examined.  She had her exam and got her prescription from the doctor. She picked out a set of frames and wanted to find out how much her glasses were going to cost before committing to purchasing them.  The customer service representative refused to help her saying it would take too much time to figure it out if my wife wasn't going to buy the glasses.  We took our business elsewhere.

On another occasion, my wife and I went out to eat at a local brew pub.  We have been regular visitor of this brew pub since they opened several years ago.  Over the years, I have built up a sizable collection of pint glasses and t-shirts from the various seasonal beer launch parties that they have every month.  Unfortunately, after our most recent visit to this establishment, we will never be back.

I ordered a salad and my wife ordered the seafood cannelloni.  When they brought our food, my wife's dinner wasn't hot.  She complained about it and asked to have the dish remade.  Our server was very apologetic and seemed willing to help.  Unfortunately management wasn't so helpful.  He came out and told us they could not remake her dish.  Instead, he argued with us, telling us that the dish was made correctly, brought out hot, and the best they could do was reheat it for us.

We objected saying we wanted a fresh dish as a reheated dish would not be as good as a fresh dish.  Eventually, the server came back out with another plate.  This time the food was hot and you could see steam coming from the sauce.  Unfortunately, it became obvious that it was the same dish heated in the microwave.  The pasta was overcooked and hard.  The cheese looked like a frozen dinner that had not melted completely.

We came home from dinner and I went to the corporate website and sent a complaint detailing what had happened during the evening.  In the past, whenever we have complained about service in a restaurant, we have either received a written apology, and in some cases gift certificates to visit again to give them another chance.  This time, we received no acknowledgement that we had a problem.  We won't be back to that establishment ever again.
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Still Around

I have not been around here in the blogosphere much lately.  It isn't that I haven't had anything to talk about or that I have decide to abandon blogging. I haven't fallen off the face of the earth or have had anything disastrous befall me.  I just have been busy doing other things.

I have been very active in other areas of social media and interaction.  Twitter has been my main form of communication in that arena.  There is just something about being able to share brief thoughts quickly that has been appealing of late.  The ability to see an article I like, share it with my followers with a brief comment, without having to sit down and write a blog post has fit in with everything else that I have been up to.  You can find me on Twitter at dickster1961.

I have also been doing a lot of reading lately.  My Kindle is by my side constantly.  I make it a point to read during my lunch breaks at work and in the evening.  There have been so many free and bargain books that I have downloaded from Amazon that I have really enjoyed.  Mostly, I am reading theology and Christian living, but I am also enjoying books by Brad Thor and James Rollins.

Last year, when it became apparent that Mitt Romney was running an ineffectual campaign and that Barack Obama was going to get re-elected, I made the decision to cut back on my consumption of political news.  I instead decided to pursue things of a more spiritual nature.  Now, instead of listening to conservative talk radio like Sean Hannity, I am listening to Family Talk Radio and pastors Michael Youssef and RC Sproul and their radio programs.

Just before the election, I made it my goal to read through the Bible in a year.  I have read the entire Bible in the past, but not as part of a dedicated reading plan.  I downloaded the Bible App from YouVersion on my tablet and used one of their Bible in a year plans.  I am happy to say that I actually finished reading through the Bible in about 9 months.  If you want to read the Bible, a highly recommend the YouVersion app.

Still, I have neglected this blog for too long and it is time for that to change.  About a month or so ago, one of my old blogging buddies from the Adgitize days sent me a message through Twitter to check up on me.  I assured him that I was alive and well.  He also helped me to work through an unnatural links penalty from Google.  You can find a link to his website Ask the Blogster in my blogroll.

So, I hope to be updating this blog on a more regular basis.  I don't think that I will ever get back to updating nearly everyday like I did when Adgitize was up and running, but I do hope to update it at least two or three times a week going forward.  I also have another project that I hope to start soon which I will share here when it is up and running.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Not so Family Friendly Family Channel

I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination.  While I consider myself a conservative Christian, I fully appreciate that not everybody in the world shares my views.  As such, I am not easily offended by viewpoints in popular culture that run contrary to those beliefs.  Those that do not share my beliefs are free to express their own beliefs, but I feel it should be done in the proper place.

I bring this up because of something that I saw yesterday while visiting my son at his school.  Most of his dorm mates were off on an outing, but several kids stayed behind.  We gave our son the choice of going out for lunch or having a pizza delivered.  He decided that he wanted to stay in the dorm, so we went ahead and had a pizza delivered for our lunch.

While we waited for the delivery to arrive and while we ate our lunch, the other kids in the dorm recreation room were watching some Disney movies on the ABC Family station.  At one point, I was watching the television and I saw two women engaging in a romantic kiss.  The station was promoting one of their new programs which features a lesbian couple raising a family together.

I was shocked.  Not because there was such a show being produced, but because it was being promoted and shown on a station that proclaimed to be a "family channel."  I was even more shocked because the promo was occurring during kid friendly Disney movies.  Had the advertisement occurred on a station like Lifetime or Bravo, I wouldn't have batted an eye.

It used to be that subject matter of a more controversial or mature nature would only be shown later in the evening when kids would typically be sleeping and not watching television.  Promotions for those shows would never be broadcast during what would be considered kid friendly programming.  I guess those standards no longer apply.

I am not one of those who would call for a boycott of the channel or those that advertise on it. I don't watch the ABC Family channel, nor do I watch anything on ABC.  After seeing the promotion yesterday, I am more inclined not to watch anything on those stations.  It just shows that the entertainment industry is continuously trying to promote their liberal worldview on us, and forcing it on our kids with no regard.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day #family #fam #mom #dad #Tags...
Happy Mothers Day #family #fam #mom #dad #TagsForLikes #brother #sister #brothers #sisters #bro #sis #siblings #love #instagood #father #mother #related #fun #photooftheday #children #kids #life #happy #familytime #cute #smile #fun via dickster1961
First off, I want to wish all of the Moms out there a very happy Mother's Day.  This morning, we got up early and I drove my wife out to my son's school on the Eastern Shore so that she could have lunch with our boy on Mother's Day.  We decided to just have a little visit with him on campus.  We had a pizza delivered and after lunch we walked around campus and spent some time on the playground.  He was more interested in going back into the dorm to watch some DVDs that I had burned and brought for him.

That was not our original plan for Mother's Day, nor is it our usual routine when visiting our son.  Our original plan for Mother's Day was to pick up our son for an unscheduled weekend home and to take him to a Bowie Baysox game today, then drive him back to school.  Normally, when we visit our son, we take him off campus for lunch at Golden Corral and then either to Target or Walmart to get a new CD or DVD.

To explain why we changed our original plans and normal routine, we had to go back one week to our last visit with our son.  It started like several successful visits of late.  We picked up our son shortly after 11:00 and headed out to the Golden Corral in Easton, MD.  He ate three plates of his favorite foods from Golden Corral; pot roast, bourbon chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni & cheese.  So far, it was the start of a very pleasant visit.

After lunch, we got back in the car and headed to Target.  Once there, my son headed straight to the back of the store to the music department to find a CD or DVD.  He walked up and down each aisle looking for something, but just couldn't find anything that he wanted.  With my son's autism, even though he is very verbal, he sometimes has a difficult time telling us what he wants when he can't find it.  That is when things took a decided turn for the worse.

One of my son's undesirable behaviors is one we refer to as dropping.  If he doesn't want to do something, or is upset for some reason, he will drop to the ground, make himself dead weight, and refuse to get up.  When he drops, it can last for a few moments, or in some cases quite a long time.  This particular incident was one of the longer ones.  We spent over two hours trying to calm our son down, figure out what he wanted, and get him back to school.

We tried singing to him, stroking his hands, bringing him CDs and DVDs of acts that he has enjoyed in the past.  Nothing worked.  We got a few smiles and responses but we just couldn't get him off the floor.  At one point, we called the school to see if they could send somebody out to try to help get him back.  At long last, my wife came back to where we were with something that got our son off of the ground.

One of the things that my son likes to watch is, of all things, infomercials.  He particularly likes the ones that feature vacuum cleaners.  My wife came back with an inexpensive, rechargeable portable Dirt Devil.  That did the trick.  He got up, grabbed the vacuum, and headed to the front of the store just as the back up from the school showed up to help.  Now, he has his own personal vacuum in his dorm.

After an incident like this, it usually takes us a little while before we try to venture back out.  We were very hesitant to bring him home for the weekend for fear of a repeat performance at the stadium.  We were also very hesitant to try our usual routine of lunch at Golden Corral.  As it turned out, we had a nice little lunch and visit on campus, and he was in a great mood when we left.
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Area Rug Cleaning Works Wonders

There are many reasons why people may need area rug cleaning services.  It can be a result of the wear and tear of a rug, a pet or just a lot of people using the same space.  Since there can be very many spills onto carpets, it will really help when a homeowner accesses an area rug cleaning service to clean the place up.

Using an area rug cleaning service has a lot of pluses.  Since it is done to the part of the rug that is dirty, it doesn't cost as much as a whole rug cleaning.  It is also specific to the type of rug, which makes it work extremely well.  It can restore a rug to its original state before it was dirtied by stains or other means. 

Having access to an area rug cleaning service online is really beneficial.  It works well for the people that need it because they are able to access it at any point of the day or night.  When they need assistance, they will be able to reach someone online.  It is really simple for them to use, and they will find the service to be commendable.

Anyone can use an area rug cleaning service if they need to.  It can be done in big houses or in small apartments.  The space is not the issue, the rug is.  They will find that this service will save them money in the long run because they will only be charged for the rug in question.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baysox Photos

I went to the Bowie Baysox baseball game on Sunday and took my camera with me.  Here are a few of the photos from that day.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Birthday!

19 years ago today, I found myself in the car at 2:00 AM driving my very pregnant wife to the hospital in a spring rain.  She woke me shortly after 1:00 to tell me that she thought that her water had broke.  Once we got to the emergency room, we discovered that, in fact, her water had broke, but she wasn't quite ready to deliver.  So they took her to a room, and we waited.

After a few hours, they made the decision to induce labor.  It took a while to get the dosage right.  At first, they gave her too much of the drug and her contractions started too strongly and too quickly.  So, they backed off on the IV and my wife was able to get a little rest before all the real fun would begin.  Around 6:00-7:00 PM my wife started pushing in earnest.  Shortly before 9:00 my son entered the world.

It was without a doubt the proudest moment in my life.  The entire time my wife was pregnant, I steadfastly declared that I did not care one way or the other what the sex of our child was going to be.  One he came out and I was told we had a boy, I have to confess that my chest stuck out a little bit further.

Over the years, it has been quite an adventure.  From birth to about 2 years of age, our son appeared to be completely normal.  He was hitting all of his milestone markers on time and in a lot of cases early.  Then all of a sudden around his second birthday things changed.  His progress became delayed. We got him involved in early special education classes where a specialist from the school system came to the house a couple days per week.  By his 3rd birthday he started taking a bus to a school for children with special needs.

In the intervening years, there have been a lot of emotions and struggles.  There was a lot of denials about the  final diagnosis of autism.  I struggled a lot at times.  You see, I have always been considered a smarter than average person.  I was a nearly straight A student, always made the honor roll, and participated in talented and gifted programs.  I thought, "How could my child be mentally delayed?  He has my genes."

A few years ago, we made the difficult decision to try to get him into a residential school program.  It was one of the hardest decisions we ever made.  Several of the struggles and challenges of adjusting to this decision have been chronicled here on this blog.  It has been one of the best things that we ever did for our son.  At one point, I always thought that my son would live with us as long as we could care for him.  Now we look to the day when he will graduate in 2015 and enter a group home.

Today, we drove out to see him to celebrate his 19th birthday.  We decided that we would throw a little pizza party for him, his dorm mates, and the dorm staff.  One year ago, we couldn't get him to touch pizza.  The only thing he would eat was chicken, bacon, potato chips and Cheez-it crackers.  In fact, my wife and I couldn't eat pizza in front of him because he would gag.  Today, he ate six big slices of pizza, more than my wife and I combined.  We even offered him boneless wings and he chose more pizza.

Even with all of the progress he has made, he still has a long way to go.  For example, he still has not gotten to the point where he will have a bowel movement on the toilet.  I never really liked changing his diapers when he was a baby, changing Depends now isn't any fun either. He still has several undesirable behavioral issues.  He will drop to the floor if he doesn't want to do something.  He still hits at people and throws his glasses.  It has been a struggle and will probably always will.  I wouldn't change a thing.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So Very Proud

A few days ago, I wrote about the passing of Sister Jeannette Murray of the Sisters of St. Gertrude Monastery in Ridgely MD.  Sister Jeannette was one of the founders of the Benedictine School for Exceptional Children where my son is a student.

When we found out about the viewing and funeral plans, we were concerned about how our son would react.  You see, everything was going to take place on the school campus.  There was a viewing on Monday afternoon in the school recreation room from 2-6 pm and a funeral mass beginning at 7pm in the school gymnasium.

Based on the hours that the services were planned, I was concerned that the plan was to have the kids involved in the services.  Our son had never been exposed to anything like this before.  With his previous history of inappropriate comments and behavioral breakdowns, we were definitely concerned about how he would react under the circumstances, especially since he had developed a good relationship with the Sister.

So, I started sending some emails to the dorm and to the school to find out what the plans were regarding the kids.  At one point, his teacher had informed me that his class had a separate time scheduled to attend a viewing apart from the scheduled public viewing.  As it turned out, she decided not to have the kids view the casket but instead had the kids watch a tribute visit honoring Sister Jeannette's life.

Tuesday morning, my son went to class where he told his teacher that Sister Jeannette had died.  So, the teacher asked him where Sister Jeannette now was.  His response was one that made me so proud and brought a tear to my eye.  He replied that Sister Jeannette was now in heaven and that they should have a moment of silence.

Not only was my son's response totally appropriate for the situation, but it showed a level of maturity that I had not expected from him.  Every day, he shows a level of growth that further reinforces that we made the right decision to send him away to school.  I am so very proud of how much he has matured and grown since he began attending the school.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

1shoppingcart is one of the most effective online shopping cart software packages on the market today. If you are a business owner that is looking for a way to streamline the sales process within your company, you can definitely get it with 1shoppingcart.

Customers today have so many choices that any hiccup in the sales process may lose that customer. Many online cart software packages actually decrease the amount of sales that a company gets because of the complicated process that they make customers go through. Even a customer that has decided to make a purchase from a company can be dissuaded by a difficult to use online shopping cart program.

Not only is 1shoppingcart easier to use than its competitors, the customer service that it connects its customers to is beyond compare. There is no group of employees that is more knowledgeable about the product that they sell than 1shoppingcart employees. No matter what problem you may have with the system, you can always get a helpful hand over the phone no matter what time of day it is. I can recommend this company with no reservations.

No matter what kind of business that you are in, you can always count on 1shoppingcart to create a much easier process for your customers to purchase your products. They will get their receipts on time and you will be able to connect easily to your bank accounts and keep up with all of your sales for tax purposes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Everyday Heroes

Crest of the Order of St. Benedict
Crest of the Order of St. Benedict (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are some people that if you passed them on the street, you would never give them a second glance or thought.  Ordinary looking people that do not look like anything special.  The type of person who you would never think would have a lasting impact on the world.  Sister Jeannette Murray was one of those people.

Sister Jeannette was a nun of the order of St. Benedict.  She was a member of the Saint Gertrude Monastery in Ridgely, MD.  Sister Jeannette began her career as a teacher, specifically in the field of Special Education. In 1960, she landed at the Benedictine School for Exceptional Children to teach kids with special needs.  It also happens to be the school that my son now attends and my nephew graduated from.

Sister Jeannette was a tireless advocate for those that she labeled "her kids."  Through her guidance and perseverance, the Benedictine School has become one of the top schools in the country, much less the state of Maryland, for children with special needs.  But the school is not the only thing that Sister Jeannette was a big part of.

As the kids grew and left the school, they still needed a place to go where they could lead productive lives.  So, the Benedictine Community also took a leading roll in establishing a vibrant open community for adults building several group homes and establishing a number of vocational programs for adults with special needs.  My personal favorite is the Busy Bees Bakery in Denton MD.  They make a mean pumpkin roll.

Sadly, on Thursday, March 21, Sister Jeannette passed away, perhaps fittingly, on the day of the Feast of the Passing of Saint Benedict.  Thankfully, Sister Jeannette got to see the last piece of the puzzle completed before she was called home.  The Benedictine Foundation recently dedicated two new retirement homes for her children who are approaching that stage of life.

Sister Jeannette barely stood 5 feet tall, and I would hazard to guess that she didn't tip the scales at 100 pounds unless you slipped some rocks in her pocket.  Still, her impact will last well beyond her years on earth.  The Benedictine Foundation is on solid ground with a group of people who are passionate about carrying on the work of Sister Jeannette.

My initial interactions with Sister Jeannette were not positive.  My son was having a difficult time adjusting to the school when he first started to attend the school.  However, in the last year, Sister Jeannette told us how much he had grown.  She even went so far as to say that he was her "buddy."

Sister Jeannette will never be known like Mother Theresa but her impact on those she came in contact with will last as long as the impact that Mother Theresa had.  May you rest in peace, Sister Jeannette.  I am sure you will be continuously watching over your kids in the Benedictine Community from above.  God bless you for all you have done, especially for my son and my nephew.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Confirmation Day Update

Last week, we went to our son's school for his Confirmation in the Catholic Church.  As I mentioned in my post last Sunday, I was extremely proud of how well he has done in church and how much he has grown.  We were very grateful for the work that the lady who conducted the classes did for my son and the other kids that had their Confirmations that day.

This week, we received a card with a handwritten note from the woman that conducted the classes.  This is what she wrote:
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for giving me the privilege of preparing your son for First Communion and Confirmation.  He did an excellent job and you can be very proud of him.
I was blown away.  Here, we should have been expressing our gratitude (which we did) for her hard work and she was writing to us to thank us for letting her prepare our son for the sacraments.  This type of attitude goes to further enforce in our hearts and mind that our son is in the right place.  The people there really do care about the kids and make an impact in improving their lives.
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Confirmation Day

There are some days when you just can't help but be proud of your kids and want to brag on them a little.  Today happens to be one of those days.  We went out to my son's school to celebrate the sacrament of his Confirmation in the Catholic Church.  Aside from the obvious significance of the event, it also served to show us just how much our son has grown since we made the decision to send him away for school.

When our son was younger, we tried taking him to churches whenever we had a wedding to attend or a cousin was having First Communion or Confirmation.  His behavior during those attempts was, in a word, atrocious.  More often than not, my wife or I would have to take him out of the sanctuary into the vestibule so that his outbursts would not disturb the others in the service.

When the school first approached us about our son going through the classes that they gave for First Communion and Confirmation.  We were concerned about his past behavior and whether or not he would understand what was going on.  I still don't know if he fully understands the significance of the sacraments, but his behavior during church has been exemplary.  He really enjoy going to church.

The thing I like about attending the mass at the chapel in his school is that they tailor the homily to the special needs kids in attendance.  The priest reads the gospel to them like he is reading a bedtime story to the kids.  He then gives a very short homily, again as if he is telling the kids a story.  It allows the kids to not get bored while listening to the sermon.

My son, really likes the priest that they have at the school.  Whenever he sees Father Paul, his face lights up in a big smile and he says, "It's Father!"  Father Paul always comes over to my son and greets him with a fist bump.  I think it is pretty cool.

Today, while watching my son during the service, I was struck by how well he did.  Whenever the priest did the sign of the cross, I saw my son crossing himself.  During prayer, he placed his hands together in the typical prayer position.  During the songs, he often started to dance a little.  I think of King David dancing before the LORD.  More importantly, throughout the whole service, he did not break into any of his ritual word games that he likes to do with us.

For the Confirmation sacrament service, the local Bishop officiates the mass.  Father Paul still read the gospel reading to the kids.  The Bishop also has a background in dealing with special needs kids and did an excellent job of giving a nice homily for the kids.

Prior to the start of the service, the Bishop spoke to my son.  My son was particularly taken with the crucifix around the Bishop's neck.

Here, my son gets anointed by the Bishop.

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  I am so proud of what he has accomplished so far at the school and how much he enjoys attending their church services.  Of course, afterward we had to take a drive to the Golden Corral for lunch and then to Target to get a new CD player and CD.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Life Emerging

I don't have a lot of spare cash right now to buy a macro lens, but I have been wanting to do some close up photography.  For Valentine's Day, my wife gave me a set of Polaroid Close Up filters to allow you to take macro photographs without a special lens.  I noticed that in one of my planters in front of the house, there was a plant breaking through the soil.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the close up filters and a good image of life starting to renew after the coldness of winter.  Below is the unedited image.

The following version was edited with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, removing all color except for the green of the plant.  I thought that the green would be a more artistic statement of life after the dead of winter.  I like both images for different reasons.  Which do you prefer?
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Going Global

Increasingly, we hear about the global economy.  Businesses are constantly looking for new markets and opportunities in other countries.  Not only do they have to worry about the laws and regulations of their own countries, but they also have to worry about the laws and regulations of any country that they are trying to do business with.

The international flavor of business has really started to hit home with me personally.  I work for a company that was founded and based in the DC area.  Before I started working with them, they were bought by an Italian firm with interests located globally.  For the most part, the company I work for has primarily done business here in the US and to a lesser degree some business in Canada.

My company actually consists of two separate parts; the retail side which I belong to and a food service side.  While there was some interaction between the two sides, we pretty much worked independently of one another.  The food service side of the business is how my company started, but the retail has been growing steadily.

As I said previously, the parent company in Italy has interests globally.  In the majority of those interests, the retail side of the business has been separate from the food service side.  In Europe, they have been consolidating the retail side of the business into an interest that is headquartered in Spain.  Last year, the decision was made that our retail unit would become a part of that Spanish entity with an operating branch here in the US.

While I am not involved in the legal aspects of that integration, I can only imagine that it involves some heavy work by lawyers on both sides of the pond.  With the different laws and regulations, not to mention languages, it is important that there is substantial litigation translation being done to minimize any potential negatives or pitfalls that such an endeavor can bring about.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Sorry I haven't posted here much of late.  I have been out of sorts a bit and just haven't felt like writing anything.  Nothing serious.  Anyway, I wanted to take today to wish everybody a Happy Valentine's Day.  I hope that you are able to spend the day with somebody special.  Today will be a special Valentine's Day for us, because not only will I get to be with my wife, but she is picking up our son today for a weekend visit home.

Last night, I had to go by my doctor to have him check something out.  He ended up giving me a prescription for an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory.  After leaving his office, I ended up having to go by Target to get them filled.  While waiting for the prescriptions to be filled, I decided to browse around the store.  I had already gotten my wife her main gift, but decided to check out the candy aisle to get her a little something extra.

I always like browsing around stores the day before a holiday to see the last minute shoppers, though as a matter of full disclosure, I did still need to pick up a card.  Given that guys are the ones that usually have the reputation of waiting until the last minute to do their holiday shopping, I found it interesting that most of the people in the card section were women.  The candy aisle looked like it had been struck by a tornado.  I did find a nice little box of Godiva Truffles to add to her main gift, though I would not have been stressed if I hadn't found a box of chocolates.

Up until about 8 days ago, I had no idea what I was going to get her for Valentine's Day.  Then I received an email from one of the autism causes that I belong to on Facebook.  Designs by Ja9 sells jewelry to support autism awareness.  The piece I bought her is the red heart with the puzzle pieces embedded in it along with a silver chain so she could wear it. The puzzle piece was created by the National Autistic Society to be the symbol for autism awareness.  The best part is that Designs by Ja9 donated $10 of every sale to the Autism charity of your choice.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This Helped Me Get a MyLife Refund

I found MyLife to be an interesting way to stay connected and look up social information about your friends. It also let me keep up to date with regard to who was looking for me and what they were looking for. However, I eventually had to drop my subscription to this service because I had some issues come up in my everyday life that made the use of MyLife non-essential.

For the first month during which I thought I had canceled my subscription, I was billed on the same date as always. I was confused by this and had to do some research as to why my subscription was still being renewed every month. As it turns out, apparently I had only unsubscribed to the emails that MyLife sends you periodically.

Canceling your subscription is different from unsubscribing, which is something that I found out through this page's information. It also turns out that canceling your subscription is a bit more lengthy than I had first imagined, because I used PayPal to subscribe. I ended up canceling it as the page described, then I called PayPal to verify that I had canceled the automatic renewal. I was also able to get a MyLife refund after clarifying that the whole incident was a big misunderstanding.

Once everything was set up and I was certain about it, I went on my way. Getting my MyLife subscription canceled was made easy by the information laid out on this page. I've also learned that this applies to any subscription that you've made by using PayPal. So if you're like me when it comes to subscriptions that you don't fully understand, then I would definitely recommend reading this page.

Monday, January 21, 2013

That New Car Smell

Love that new car smell via dickster1961
Love that new car smell via dickster1961

I have posted a lot here about my lack of funds.  Basically, I work two jobs to pay the bills and put food on the table.  At the end of the day, we get by.  My son's SSI benefit has helped a lot, as it allows us to use that money to buy things for him that would otherwise come out of budget.  Since he started to receive it, we have had a little bit more for some small extras, but nothing extravagant.

Over the past two years, one of the biggest drains on my back account has been my automobile.  It seems like every two to three months I have had to take the car into the shop for some sort of repair.  They are almost never inexpensive.  The frequency of repairs has been such that a few weeks ago, my wife and I were discussing how we could possibly afford to get a new car for me.

I won't go back in detail of all the repairs that my car has needed over the past two years, but here are some of the highlights.  One day, I was heading to work when all of sudden the car lost all power and would not start.  It needed a new fuel pump which cost around $900.  A few weeks after that, the air conditioner died and needed a new motor.  Along the way, there were other repairs and assorted maintenance that one would expect on a car with over 100,000 miles on it.

Last month, I was delivering pizzas on a Saturday afternoon.  I had been planning to take the car to the shop the next day because I was experiencing a vibration while braking.  While stuck in traffic, the engine temperature started to rise and when I got to my delivery the radiator light came on.  Thankfully, I had some antifreeze in the trunk and was make it through the day without further incident.

I dropped my car off at my mechanic and received a phone call that the radiator cooling fan needed to be replaced which accounted for the temperature issue.  He also told me that my rear break drums were warped and that was causing the vibration.  This came a mere 9 months after having new brake pads installed.  So, right before Christmas I was hit with an $850 repair bill.

It doesn't stop there.  On Thursday of last week, I was heading into work.  I was stopped in traffic when my engine shut off.  It started back up with no problem and made it to work, albeit every time I came to a stop I put the car in neutral and kept a foot lightly on the gas.  The same thing had happened last March and they cleaned the throttle body, do a tune up, and adjusted the engine idle speed.  This time, they found that an electronic part was going bad and it would cost over $400.

In addition to the $400 repair that would be facing me, I also knew of another problem that I had with the car.  There is a part called the blend door actuator which is attached to the dial on your heater that directs the flow of air from your heater or air conditioner.  I am pretty sure it also needed to be replaced because if I set the control to recirculate the air, it would make a loud clicking noise.  Because of where that part is located, I knew it would be a few hundred dollars to repair.

So, I decided it was time to bite the bullet.  I told the mechanic that the $400 was more than I wanted to pay and not to bother fixing it.  I picked up the car, and cleaned all of my stuff out of it.  Over the weekend, I finally went car shopping and ended up getting a new Kia Forte. I'm loving it.  It has a lot of features I never expected to see.  My favorites are the bluetooth that allows me to have hands free without having something hooked to my ear and the trial subscription to SiriusXM radio.  Now to make the payments.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Hate Spam!

When I began this blog five years ago, I did not moderate comments or anything like that.  I allowed anybody that wanted to post a comment to do so.  If I came across a comment that I felt was spam then I would go ahead and delete it.  It really wasn't much of a problem.

Two years ago, when this blog had a lot more traffic thanks to services such as Adgitize and Entrecard, I finally made the decision to add comment moderation due to an increase in spam comments.  Even at that point in time, it wasn't really that bad, maybe 3 or 4 spam comments over the period of a week.  It was enough for me to give moderation a try.

I never went back to allowing all comments to appear.  At that time, I probably had about 100 visitors each day.  I would get a spam comment maybe once every couple of weeks ago.  Now, my daily visitors are running considerably lower than it was two years ago.  Unfortunately, the spam comments have gotten completely out of control over the last few weeks.

This evening, I came home from work and logged into my blogger control panel and saw that there were six comments needing moderation.  All of them were spam.  I deleted them and then went to the spam folder of my comment dashboard and found another twenty or so comments that my spam filter caught.  All were for the same post that I wrote in 2010 called Peacocks and Other Sights.

That seems to be the modus operandi of these folks.  They find an old post from a couple years ago and then make their comments linking their spam site to it.  Another post that seems to be getting a lot of spam comments is my post It's Bloody Hot in Here from 2011.

So now, due to this heavy barrage of spam comments, I am not going to go back into my control settings once more.  The vast majority of these comments come from "Anonymous" so I am now going to no longer allow Anonymous comments.  If that doesn't cut back on the spam, I may have to go back to having to enter those CAPTCHA word verification puzzles that I hate so much.

Anyway, if nothing else, it gives me another opportunity to post some Monty Python.  This is the only spam that I can tolerate, no offense to the meat product by the same name, which I have never tried so can not give an honest opinion of it.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Talk About a Fiscal Cliff

Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
Of late, I have been trying to avoid posting things of a political nature.  Sometimes, though, I can't help myself.  I especially reserve the right to post something of a political nature when it impacts me personally, as is the case with this post.

Two weeks ago, Congress and the President reached a deal to extend the Bush era tax rates for most Americans to prevent us from going over the so called "fiscal cliff" that would have most likely sent us into another recession.  According to those powers that be and their complicit media, we are to be oh so grateful that they pulled together to avoid the fiscal cliff.  Well call me ungrateful because I am not buying into the hype.

You see, I am facing my own personal fiscal cliff.  Let's start with the expiration of the 2% payroll tax holiday that took place on January 1st.  With all of the hype from the media and politicians about how the fiscal cliff deal prevented tax increases on all but the richest Americans, lost was the fact that most would be facing smaller paychecks due to the end of the payroll tax holiday.  Sorry, elite media and pols, but that is a tax increase.  I actually saw the increase on my check on January 3rd.

Unlike a lot of folks, I was fully aware that this was going to happen.  There have been a lot of news stories out there about how people were shocked that their paychecks were smaller.  I will not be like some on the right who will blame Barack Obama for this (well not entirely) because even had Mitt Romney been elected this tax break was going to expire.  Nobody was calling for it to be extended.

I do find it funny (in an ironic way, not humorous) that when the right points out that 47% of Americans do not pay income taxes, the left is quick to point out that those people do pay payroll taxes.  Then when the left  (media and politicians) wants to say that only the rich saw a tax increase with the fiscal cliff deal that they conveniently leave out the fact that everyone would see a payroll tax increase.  Let's be consistent, people!

Regarding the 2% payroll tax holiday, I will say that it was a pretty stupid idea to begin with, though when first implemented it did benefit me.  Two years ago, my health insurance premium went up quite a bit.  That 2% tax break was just enough to offset that premium increase so it ended up being a wash for me.  It just seems like I can never get ahead.

Speaking of health insurance premiums, that brings me to the second part of my personal fiscal cliff.  Back in October, I posted about my health insurance premium increase for 2013.  My share of the health insurance premium went up 30%.  While I saw the first check with the higher payroll tax two weeks ago, I saw the first check with the higher insurance premium this week.  The Dickster is NOT a happy camper.

When you combine the expiration of the 2% payroll tax holiday with my increase share of my health insurance, I have seen my net paycheck decline by about 7% or so.  Meanwhile, gas and food prices are both on the rise.  Plus, the Maryland state government is back in session and looking to raise gasoline taxes.  Lower net pay and increased living expenses are not a good combination, hence the presonal fiscal cliff.

On a side note, I was able to download my W-2 today.  There was something new on it this year thanks to the Obamacare health care bill that was passed a few years ago.  There is now a box that shows how much the employer provided health care costs.  It shows the combined total of the employer and employee share of the health insurance premium is.

Here is some food for thought.  Currently, both of those contributions are tax exempt.  The employer gets to write the premium off as an expense, and the employee is able to pay their share before tax withholding takes place.  There are a lot of folks in government who would like to see those tax exemptions eliminated.  In other words, the employer share would end up being taxable as income for the employee and the employee's share would not get the tax break.  For me, that would increase my taxable income by 20% while not increasing my actual pay.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Project?

Some interesting things have been happening over the last week or so.  On January 1st, I wrote a post about New Year's resolutions.  Near the end of that post, I expressed that I had a nebulous goal of wanting to write a book but was not sure what type of book it would be.  The idea of someday writing a book was something that I had always thought about but had never expressed to anybody prior to that post.

That same day, I also finished reading a book called Jesus Is No Joke by Heidi Hollis.  After finishing the book, I did something that I don't normally do; I went back to the Amazon listing for that book and clicked for to go to the author's info page.  I saw that Hollis had a webpage where I found her Twitter ID.  So, I sent her a tweet telling her that I enjoyed her book.

That was the start of several tweets back and forth between the two of us.  In those initial tweets on January 1st she asked me if I would consider writing an honest review of her book on Amazon.  The next day, I did write a review of the book, but posted it on my blog instead.  I went ahead and sent her a tweet with the link to the blog review.

That tweet was the start of a conversation related to my New Year's post.  Heidi thanked me for writing the review of her book.  She also told me that I was a good writer.  She tweeted back to me that perhaps it was time for me to put a book together.  Who would have thought that a writer that I had read would think enough of what I wrote to think that I could write a book?  She doesn't believe it a coincidence that the two of us have begun this discussion.

My tweets with Heidi Hollis have really got me thinking more about trying to put a book together.  I still am not sure what type of book it would be, though I am 99% positive it would not be fiction.  I have thought about writing something in the spiritual vein or perhaps even about the struggles of having a child with autism. It is something that I will be devoting a good bit of thought and prayer to.
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Music Monday-Thomas Rhett "Beer With Jesus"

They always do those surveys where they ask people if they could have dinner with any person in history, who would it be.  Always at the top or near the top of the list would be Jesus.  I know he would be at the top of my list.

Thomas Rhett's new song "Beer With Jesus" takes the idea of having dinner with Jesus another step to sitting with Jesus in a bar, having a beer, and a conversation.  While some of my old Baptist friends might not think that a possibility, when I read the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus I can't help but think that He would be willing to sit and have a conversation over a beer.  After all, take a look at His life, He changed water into wine, He was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard, and He was known to associate with sinners.  So I don't think it would be a stretch for Him to have a conversation over a beer.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Times that Try Men's Souls

Having a big lunch with my son at the Golden C...
Having a big lunch with my son at the Golden Corral in Easton MD via dickster1961
Yesterday was one of those days that I always dread.  It was the day that my wife was going to take our son back to school after his break home.  Those trips are always a bit of a challenge getting him into the car for the long drive back to school, but they are especially difficult when the break home has been a long like his nearly two week Christmas break.

Monday night, I naively thought that it might be a bit easier this time around.  I was washing dishes in the kitchen when I heard him in the living saying that Stephanie (his teacher) was a pretty girl.  He then proceeded to tell me how many earrings she has, 4 which for some reason he notices.  Later we were sitting on the couch when he started talking about "The Morning Rush" on a radio station that broadcasts near his school.

I woke up yesterday and got ready to head off to work.  My son was up before I left the house, so we talked and I told him I would see him later, without bringing up the subject of school.  He seemed fine.  My wife usually tries to head out to school between noon and 1 pm.  When she gets him in the car and they are on the way, she gives me call to let me know that they are on the way.

I started to get a little concern that I had not heard from my wife as the clock moved closer to 2pm.  I was talking with a friend of mine in the office and told him that I was almost afraid to call home to check in with my wife.  Sure enough, a few moments later my cell phone rang.  Unfortunately, it was not my wife calling to tell me they were on the way to school but that for the past two hours our son had been hitting, kicking, and yelling at her.

I decided that I would leave the office early to see if I could somehow manage to get him in the car and take him back to school.  The entire drive home, I was praying that God would give me the patience to deal with my son and my wife, who was naturally upset and frustrated.  I also prayed that somehow he would help my son to be willing to get in the car. I arrived home around 3pm, and spent two hours trying to keep him calm and endure some hitting and kicking sent in my direction.

I was able to maintain a calm demeanor until my son exhibited a behavior that he had displayed at school but never at home.  My son wears Depends because he is still not toilet trained in regards to bowel movements, but does manage to urinate in the toilet.  The behavior that he now displays is that if wants to avoid doing something, he will urinate in his pants.  While laying on the couch, he told me that he peed his pants and needed a bath.  Even with the Depends, there was leakage onto the couch.

Finally, after two hours, I was somehow able to get him to get up and go to the car.  He did end up dropping to the ground twice between the house and the car, but he got up relatively quickly and got into the car.  So, around 5pm we started the nearly 60 mile trip to his school.  Once he was in the car and realized we were headed to school, he was fine, not happy, but fine.  We arrived at school just in time for him to have dinner.

After we got him settled and took care of all the assorted business, we headed back home.   By the time the night ended, we didn't get back home until around 8 pm. We will probably head back out to see him in a couple of weeks and take him out to lunch at Golden Corral and then go to Target so he can get some new CDs.  He is already looking forward to that.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jesus is No Joke

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been spending a lot more time reading and concentrating on the spiritual side of my life.  On a regular basis, I peruse the Religion & Spirituality section of the Kindle store on  One of the books that I downloaded and finished reading recently was a book written by Heidi Hollis entitled "Jesus is No Joke."

Actually, the full title of the book is "Jesus Is No Joke: A True Story Of An Unlikely Witness Who Saw Jesus."  From the Amazon website, here is a description of the book:
Once a skeptic of “Holy Encounters,” Heidi Hollis shares her true story of four unexpected journeys with Jesus, which led her deep into the reality of His Presence among us today. Hollis shares how Jesus and His angels revealed glimpses of Heaven and Hell, even healing her physically of an incurable disease, leaving her with the utmost passion to share His inspiration with the world!
As humanly as possible and lacking a religious tongue, Hollis pours out her raw emotions with all of the errors, yet new understandings, which came with meeting someone she highly misunderstood when she heard claims of Jesus appearing to people around the world today.
Hollis once thought that Jesus had traversed these lands long ago, never to be seen or heard from again—now, in admitting her error, she encourages others to hold their “J” for Jesus up in the air for all to see: Jesus Is No Joke!
I have to say that this was a difficult book for me to stick with at times.  Not because the subject matter was above my mental capabilities or because the writing was bad.  Quite to the contrary.  Hollis does a nice job of writing as if she were sitting in the room talking with you about the subject matter.  She injects her own brand of humor into the conversation and is very open and honest.

The reason the book was sometimes difficult to get through was that Hollis' experience in meeting Jesus was unlike anything that I have ever experienced before.  You see, prior to meeting Jesus, Hollis had an extensive background in exploring the paranormal realm.  So, when she says she met Jesus on four separate occasions, she literally means she saw him.

In addition to describing her encounters with Jesus, which also includes an encounter in which Jesus heals her  of an incurable disease, she describes some darker experiences.  After the first time she met Jesus, she had an encounter that would be safe to attribute to demonic forces trying to instill doubt in her mind about her Jesus encounter.  She also describes in detail an experience in which she saw the literal Hell.

My background tends to be more in the mainstream protestant church so you can probably understand why I saw her encounters as unlike anything that I have ever experienced before.  Shoot, in the churches that I belonged too, we even express doubt that the gift of tongues is active in the church today.

The closest that I can say I have come towards any experience like Hollis occurred 20 some odd years ago while in prayer.  At that time, it was my practice to lay quietly in my bed at night and pray.  During one nightly prayer session I experienced a presence that I can only describe as Holy.  It was unlike anything that I had ever experienced before.

If, as a Christian, I say that I believe that God the Father and Jesus the Son are both omnipotent and omnipresent, then I would have to say that anything is possible.  Just because I have never experienced anything like the visions that Hollis has experienced, does not mean that They couldn't reveal Themselves to Hollis in the manner she describes.

I do believe that there is a spiritual realm out there that most humans do not experience knowingly.  I also believe that there are people who are able to experience that realm.  In Biblical times, God spoke to the prophets through dreams and visions.  Prophesies of the last days say that God will pour out his Spirit and there will be those that will have dreams and visions.

It is not my place to try to determine if Heidi Hollis did see Jesus.  The main thing is that she believes she did and it has caused her to seek to follow Him.  If Jesus did decide to reveal Himself to Heidi Hollis in this way, then she is truly blessed.  Again, just because I haven't had these types of visions, doesn't mean that I should outright dismiss the possibility of them occurring.  The desire of my heart is to experience the presence I felt during my prayer session I described.

As difficult as it was at times to cast aside my preconceived notions while reading the book, it was enjoyable to read.  Putting aside the difficulties, there were things that I was able to take from the book like the idea of picture prayers and even a bit of an informality to praying.  If you decide to pick up the book, read it with an open mind and decide for yourself.  One thing that I am in 100% agreement with Hollis is that Jesus is No Joke.
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