jealous? moi?

Yeah. So I help convince somebody to start a blog. And she gets 21 stinkin comments on her first friggin' post.

And then, to top it off, she writes an anti-ABBA post and so far has recieved 31 (thirty-one!) comments.

My all time record for comments is 26 which only occurred a few days ago, and I've been at this for almost a year. It's not fair I tell you.

Not that I'm jealous or anything, I'm just sayin' is all.

Posted to:



C'mon. Admit it. When an ABBA tune comes on, you tap your foot and sing along just like everybody else.

"There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright Fernando"


"You can dance, you can da-hance
having the time of your life
see that girl, watch that scene
dig in the Dancing Queen

and who could resist...

"If you change your mind
I’m the first in line
honey I’m still free
take a chance on me

You have an Abba jones and now you need a fix. However, be careful not to declare yourself around Gwynne 'cause she'll send you to the basement!


Posted to:

i'm too sexy for this article

So, Beth who I found via Gwynne and who has one of the coolest blog titles ever, reports that Scarlett Johannson has been named Sexiest Woman Alive. The picture that goes with the CNN article however, is poorly chosen.

My opinion is identical to that of Matt E (author of yet another hiply named blog) who left this comment on Beth's flabbergasted post: I mean, I don't know about sexiest woman ALIVE (that would have to be my wife of course), but... Scarlett is way up there.

Speaking of my wife, I'm sure she would rather see the title go to Russell Crowe.


it's still Lent

Warning: Shameless Plug.

I write a Lenten devotional blog. Here it is. Give it a read and check out the rest of mywesttexas, it's not just for Texans anymore.

Posted to:

a drive in the country...

...is what today's mail work seemed like compared to my usual route. I had no idea delivering the mail could actually be, I'm almost ashamed to say it, easy. I didn't even break a sweat.

Of course, I only did half the route. Tomorrow I do the other half.

Posted to:


thanks for the prayers

Thanks to all of you who commented on the previous post, including first time commenter Jennifer (welcome in this place).

When I wrote that post I really wasn't thinking about the comments it might bring. But I guess I did ask for prayer at the end of it didn't I. Thanks very much, all of you. I did have a good day today.

Incredibly, the mail didn't come as heavy this week as it has been. Today I only had 9 trays of pre-sorted mail and 25 parcels. Nevermind that those numbers are something like 50% higher than what any of the other routes got, I was pleasantly surprised.

The car held up wonderfully. Though it has to hold up for the rest of this week too, since I'll be using it to learn the new route.

I actually arrived home for dinner with 10 minutes to spare, that's a new record. Some of this is due to the lighter volume, some of it is due to me getting faster and faster at this job. And some if it, I'm certain, is due to the prayers you said for me.

The larger issue for me is this sense of being adrift. I quite enjoy delivering the route (well, most of it... there's this one large development that really has no business being on a rural route, that part sucks with a captial K), but Chris's unasked question, "why are you doing this?" keeps jumping on me every now and again.

But hey, tomorrow is another day. I'll start learning the new route and we'll see what will be.

Thanks again, whether you prayed or simply read the post. I'm glad you're out there.

Posted to:


a bit of vulnerability -or- excuse me while I think and type at the same time

This will probably be long. You don't have to read it.

Monday used to be my only day off. Now it's often the only day I work. That's not technically true of course, I have those freelance assignments plus my friend the coffee shop owner needed some help this week and so I filled in there too.

This week promises to be different since I'll be learning another delivery route. It'll be nice for the wallet and the new route seems easy. So, why am I not looking forward to it at all?

One issue is my car. Ever since the intermittent buzzing started, I've been paranoid about the thing breaking down on me while I'm on the route. I think it's burning oil too. It's going in for an engine check up in a week or so. My mechanic is awesome: trustworthy, fast, and a great guy. His wife works with him and she may know more about cars than even he does. I know they won't do anything to inflate the final bill and their work will be first rate... even so, I'm pretty sure we're in for a thorough wallet cleaning.

So there's that. But it's more than just the car. It's not the decision to leave ministry either. In fact, since I'm still involved in that church I get to see what's happening there every week. Believe me, I'm very happy about my decision. I would go so far as to say that I believe God might have been trying to get me to make that decision for some time. But that's another post... maybe another blog!

Tomorrow I'll be working on the toughest rural route in this post office on the heaviest day of the week, like I do every Monday. It's a killer. Every Monday for the past four weeks it's been heavier than the previous week. The route set a volume record a few weeks ago during the mail count, but I've had progessively more mail each week since then. It's to the point where, to my mind, it's not worth it. If I was on the route every day, or even three days a week it might average out, but since I get paid for the same number of hours no matter how long it takes me to do the route... well, you get the idea.

I know, I know, welcome to the work-a-day world. I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm not asking for anything really; I'm surprised you're still reading this post. And if you are, thanks.

Two weeks ago, one of the regular carriers and I were finishing up at our mail cases in the evening. It had been a very heavy day for both of us (in fact people were still talking about that heavy Monday two days ago) and the guy, his name is Chris and he seems like a wonderful human being, asked where I had been a pastor. I told him and I threw in the bit about ten years as a youth minister in Cleveland. He asked what I did before that and I told him about working in an ad agency in Manhattan. "How'd you get a job like that?"

"I have an MBA in marketing," I said.

He stammered. I could tell he was trying to find a way to ask, "So what the hell are you doing working here?" but he's too polite for that. So I said it for him.

"That's what people asked when I went into ministry from advertising." I said. "The answer now is the same as then... I'm not sure but it has something to do with what God is doing in my life." I've learned over the years not to come off sounding certain when God is involved.

He nodded but didn't say anything. So I asked how he wound up as a Rural Carrier and he explained his path, he was a sub for three years and got a regular route because someone else retired. He likes the job. His route is pretty easy, he's got tons of security and no attachments, he's only 23.

That question, the one I had to ask because Chris was too polite, has been on my mind ever since. What am I doing?

And the answer is: I don't know.

Alright. Enough introspection. If you think of it, even if prayer isn't really your thing, maybe you could say a short one for me tomorrow, and for my car too.
Posted to:

fourteen hundred things the lord told me

...and one of them was, "Anything you leave on someone's answering machine can be digitized and passed around the interweb in no time flat."

Thanks to Eric who just posted this after getting it from Deb.

I feel a little sorry for the guy who left the message... actually, no. No, I don't.

Posted to:



Hah, just kiddding.

Gwynne is a relatively new but frequent commenter here. We've tried to convince her to start a blog so we could enjoy commenting at her. She has steadfastly resisted.

Until now.

Was it yesterday's fit of comment-ribbing (which I deserved, I admit) that finally pushed Gwynne over the edge... or, er, into The Shallow End? I don't know but she's off to a promising start, and she's on the blogroll.

And hey, Brian's over there too.

What more could you ask for?

Posted to:



Today I found out that the PSPTB (postal service powers that be) are going to teach me another route. This route has a sub already (she's a very nice person too and has helped me out of a jam more than once), but they want all the subs to know as many routes as possible by summer vacation season.

I just got back from driving it: no businesses, no cluster boxes, no mandatory dismounts, a full 100 fewer stops than my current route, and most of it in some of the nicest, scenicest country that we have here in Pottsdom.

The supervisor said, "This route's a breeze compared to the one you're on."

But I still have to learn it (while also doing my current route on Mondays). Looks like I'm going to be one busy dude for the next week or so.

Posted to:


i am austin, but don't call me steve

Searchie posted her results and so I thought I'd take this meme too.

Boy was I surprised. Like I told Jimmy Patterson a few weeks ago, I think of myself as a closet Texan. That was truer than I surmised.

You Are Austin

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
You're totally weird and very proud of it.
Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.

Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick

... I am however, most definitely not even a little bit country. No sirree, Bob.

Posted to:



Ms. Anthrope's posts have been shunted to their own misanthropic corner of blogspace. Mis_nomer has returned.

And all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.


Posted to:

i've said it before: netvibes r-o-x!

I sometimes forget to look at the top entry in the netvibes development blog even though it's one of the feeds on my netvibes homepage, which I look at many times a day.

Looky what they've gone and done. Wonderful! Notwithstanding the first, and unnecessarily snarky, comment. Oh, wait, you don't know French. Allow me to translate the first line: "Personally, I find that this module is absolutely devoid of all interest." I'd translate the rest but it's not worth it and my French isn't what it used to be.

Do these guys rock, or what?


Posted to:


on being a good customer

I have something like 550 customers... actually I have a lot more than that. There are 550 stops on my route, most of them households and some of them businesses. A few of the businesses are quite large. So it is safe to say that on days I deliver the route, I have a couple thousand customers. Most of them I never see, and the ones I have met so far are genuinely nice people.

But there is one customer on our route who has a very bad reputation. So bad that one of the other subs developed the habit of walking in to her business with his cell phone open, on, and with a supervisor on the other end listening so as to hear the verbal abuse.

This morning, to my horror, I noted that a cart sat next to my parcel hamper. It was stacked bottom to top with parcels, approximately 24 of them, all for this customer's business and all requiring delivery confirmation (which means you scan a barcode before delivering it). Just so you know, a typical day's load of parcels is about 24 and I had about that sitting in my regular parcel hamper today as well. This was all additional. This particular business also received an insured parcel today (separate from the other deluge) with a receipt confirmation which requires a signatures on two different forms. I brought all the parcels in, brought their regular mail in for them instead of leaving it in the box at the street (which we are allowed to do). The owner signed one form and walked away. Then the assistant (his wife?) came over and went to sign the other form. I asked that the same person sign both forms and she gave me a hard time. "What difference does it make?"

I explained that it might make a difference to whoever paid for the delivery and signature to be confirmed (yet another customer, by the way). She "hmmphed" me and proceeded to sign the second form. And handed it back, saying "It doesn't make any difference."

"Thank you," I said and left.

Postal workers and other public interface workers simply need to learn to put up with this type of person. But that doesn't mean we like it. Here's my request: don't be a capricious snot like this woman. Be a good customer. You don't have to be overly nice, a simple "Hello" and a modest attempt at accomodating someone who is doing you a service would be wonderful.

Posted to:


i'm stressin'

UPDATE: Car ran fine, route went okay. Very heavy day today as well as my first interaction with a feared customer. See next post for details.

Last Monday on the route my car started making a frighteningly loud buzzing sound. It stopped after about a half an hour. An oil change this week and several trips to the mechanic have almost eliminated the noise. But it's still there, every so often at certain engine speeds and in certain situations. The car and I have been out to see the mechanic every day this week, including this morning. I still don't know what it is and I'm supposed to deliver on Monday.

Then on Wednesday our daughter informed us that her ankle hurt. "How long has it been hurting?" asked my wife.

"Off and on for a month," said the daughter. A month.

Thursday she came home limping and said, "It hurts all the time now."

So yesterday, having parked the car at the mehcanic's overnight, I got a ride over and we listened to the noise together. "Nothin to worry about," he said.

I took the daughter to get her ankle looked at and the doctor said, "X-ray." Our new insurance provider is picky about hospitals so we had to drive to Phoenixville, about 20 minutes away, for the X-rays. On the way the car started buzzing while pulling up a long hill.

The X-rays were clear. The daughter is to stay off the ankle for a week and ice it. If the ankle doesn't improve in a week, they want an MRI.

The car is still making an intermittent buzz as we head toward Monday.

Posted to:


big buried movie news

This article is about Tommy Lee Jones. I'm a fan. The article is pretty good.

But that's not the real story. Buried deep in the article, almost at the end, is a tidbit about Jones' next film.

Jones's next project may be an adaptation of No Country for Old Men, by another Southern writer, Cormac McCarthy. It would be directed by the Coen brothers.


Posted to:


prostate cancer? bring the heat!

Yes, I know that prostate cancer is no joke. In fact, my dad is a survivor and because he had it, I need to start getting tested soon.

But today's news about prostate cancer is just the kind I like to hear, considering my proclivity for peppery provender.

The story's lede is priceless:

Capsaicin, which makes peppers hot, can cause prostate cancer cells to kill themselves...


Posted to:

don't eat and hack (not these foods anyway)

A great article at ZDnet UK discusses "keyboard clogging cuisine," offering us a list of foods with the following anti-hacker properties:

1. The propensity of the food to fall
2. The likelihood of the food becoming attached to or inserted into the keyboard
3. The degree of difficulty associated with the removal process

Their list is good, but not nearly long enough. I would add (for starters)

  • Scones
  • Salted Pretzels
  • Anything at all with jimmies or those tiny variously colored candy pellets on them (you know, like cupcakes and such).

As you were.


great name, but do they have that smell?

Says here that two of the original Cars are behind a return. And guess who they have replacing iconic and laconic lead singer Ric Ocasek? Ladies and gentlemen it's the New Cars featuring Todd Rundgren!


There's a tour I'm not going to miss. Yep.

Posted to:

turning water into... beer?

Hey everyone, let's move to Norway! Where the streets are paved with gold (not really) and people use beer to wash their dishes (really).

Says the article:

Haldis Gundersen was planning to do the washing up when she made the unusual discovery at her apartment in Kristiansund, west Norway.

But two flights below, workers in a bar faced the more disappointing realisation that water was flowing from their beer taps.

Apparently beer prices are stratospheric in Norway: around $8 American for a pint. A pint! So it was almost like having gold flow from the faucet, as opposed to using it for asphalt.

Posted to:


perhaps this isn't the attitude a christian should have

but I'm not sure I like Ms. Anthrope.

Call me old fashioned. Call me a romantic. Call me Jim if you have to... but I liked the whimsicality of mis_nomer and I want her back!

Posted to:

i'm all about broadening your horizons

And with that goal in mind, I'd like to introduce you to my friend A. C. Mattern. A. C. and I go way back... in fact, I think we invented the wayback machine together, but I'm old enough now to have forgotten.

Anyway, A. C. recently started commenting on my posts in his, er, I mean, A. C.'s inimitable witty and erudite way (I could make that a compound word: wituditey, or eruditty... the possibilities are legion). I noticed that A. C. created a blogspot profile, albeit a very brief one, which listed a blog called Agape's Stable. At the time of my first clickover, the stable was nearly empty. But a few mighty-stallion-like posts have appeared and Agape's Stable is now on the roll in the right sidebar.

Hope you find what you're looking for out here in the b'sphere A. C.

Posted to:

don't need to, but i'm gonna

Pat Robertson said this...

These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it's motivated by demonic power.

Tell me again. Who is the crazed fanatic?

showin 'em how it's done

Remember when I told you about my Lenten Devotional blog?

Well today, the editor who gave me the gig wrote a terrific piece for his own column at mywesttexas. Jimmy recently lost his mother, but as he points out, he's received as well. Do read it.


through painted deserts: it pains me to say it

Though I can't believe I'm doing this, I'm putting this book down after reading only twenty pages.

Let me say that Donald Miller's breakthrough book, Blue Like Jazz is one of the best books I've ever read. I highly recommend it, especially if you are someone who wonders, as I do, why so many Christians are so whacked out. Blue will refresh you.

But Through Painted Deserts? I dunno. Here's the problem: this book is a rewrite of a previous book, Prayer And The Art of Volkswagen Maintenance (an infinitely better title, first of all). That book showed that Miller could write. That he, in fact, had the makings of brilliance. Blue Like Jazz came next. Following that, Miller wrote Searching For God Knows What, which was not nearly as strong as Blue but had a lot going for it nonetheless.

I'm not sure why he revisted his previous work. He talks about his reasons here, and it's his book after all, he can do what he wants. Miller has substantially rewritten (this is obvious in the first few pages) the original. This should be a good thing. Yet for a guy who can make substantial and fautless prose seem easy, he sure works his words hard. Immediately the adjectives and adverbs start falling like wet, heavy, silvery, globular raindrops cascading heavily and unceasingly on my poor short brown-mixed-here-and-there-with-grey haired head.

I'm not kidding... it's like that. After a few pages I just couldn't take it anymore.

I'm sorry Mr. Miller, I so wanted to like this book. Really! And Blue Like Jazz will always be one of the best books ever written about Christian spirituality. I'll even go so far as to say it ranks up there with some of the great nonfiction books of the 20th Century. It's that good. Furthermore I mean to check out To Own A Dragon because of my respect for you as a writer. However, I think you should have left well enough alone and let your first book remain your first book. It was never a bad book. Why'd you have to go messin'?

Though, as usual, what do I know? Most of the reviews at amazon praise the book.

Ok, well. Onward.

technorati: |


i luv ice cream but...

I don't understand the fascination with this. I'm not sure the use of liquid nitrogen in your average kitchen is a good idea. As the author of the post says:

You like your fingers, right? LN2 can cause them to shatter. Imagine what it could do if you got it in your eyes....

but such texture!

Posted to:


this must not be tolerated

Mis_nomer's blog has been hijacked by something (I can't bear to say someone) evil. See what I mean?

Where in the world has mis_nomer gone?

Posted to:


I fell in love with Marc Heinrich's purgatorio a while back, and right about the moment I swooned Marc cut his own blog off at the knees.

Feeling shunned and spurned, I elided poor Marc from my blogroll and never looked back.


It wasn't all that long before Marc started posting again from his new home in the sphere, but it took three months for me to figure out what happened.

Thankfully I visited Julie's lovely space today and saw that beautiful word "Purgatorio" on her roll. I followed the link just for old time's sake and at the top of the old blog was the link to the new. Marc is back in the sidebar, and back in your hearts.

Posted to:


a little help

So get this, I got another freelance assignment today. This one involves writing a monthly column about the various downtowns in our area (most of which are trying to kickstart themselves after years of inertia) for a local business magazine. My first one is due in less than two weeks and after that I'll have a whole month to write the next one.

Here's how you can help. I'm supposed to come up with a spiffy name for this column, one that evokes the efforts of various fine folks and local organizations to revitalize their downtown biz districts; one that will cause people to stop paging through the magazine and read my column; one that conveys the seriousness of the endeavors I will be reporting on, but that also winks at you.

No suggestion is too silly or dumb. I'm looking for two kinds of ideas here: more and wilder. Leave 'em in the comments.

Posted to:


one more reason to avoid the rock n' roll hall of bored... i mean, fame

No words.

technorati: | |

Posted to:


Can anyone tell me why Technorati is sucking so bad of late? Or maybe I'm just doing something wrong, like wanting to see my watchlists.

Technorati tag:

Posted to:

good writing advice from the beatles: let it be

That's the root of Erik Lundegaard's beef with the Best Picture winning Crash.

I liked it okay, but wasn't blown away by it like a number of my pals in the b'sphere. My reason? The writing. Writing that packs a wallop is fine but writing that beats you over the head is not. The script for Crash did the latter, not the former. The bruises are still healing. I've got no quibbles with the acting... in fact, I thought the cast was great, saving the movie from its own ham-fisted dialogue. But eh, what do I know?

Still, Ludegaard has a point, even if he does go a tad over the top to make it (sort of like some films do)...

"none of it feels like sentiments these characters would actually say. It feels like sentiments writer/director Paul Haggis imposed upon them... a more telling point about racism might have emerged if he'd just let them be."

H/T to Media Orchard, quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs. MO really, really did not like the movie.

Posted to:


some things are too urgent for punctuation

My pal Ashley is on a tear.

At the end of her rant, she raises the Lenten discipline bar for all of us:

so i decided that for lent i am going to: stop eating after 9 and give up all dessert food. but, after this lecture, i have added: no nestle products (general mills cereals, breyers ice cream, friskies, carnation, purina, nesquick, nestea, chocolate chips, libby's even..) and no coke products (coca cola, dasani, sprite, barq's, evian, fresca, HI-C, Minute Maid, Tab, Seagrams).

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Preach on, sister!

Read the rest of it.

Posted to:

"you're getting faster!"

That's what one of the regular carriers said to me yesterday. This is undoubdtedly true, though with yesterday's volume of mail (my route actually set a record for volume yesterday... with me on it) it almost wasn't fast enough.

Nonetheless, a few weeks ago if you had suggested that I would sort, case, and deliver almost 4,000 presorted letters plus I don't know how many flats and unsorted letters, 3 certified letters, 34 parcels, make a parcel pick up... and make it back a half hour before the outbound truck... I would have laughed at you.

They even offered me an LLV yesterday, but I used my Passat wagon. Just color me bad, I guess.

Posted to:


almost makes me wanna go back

NPR has a wondrous story about a Pierogi stand at the Cleveland West Side Market. More varieties than Baskin Robbins.

But no one's going to make you eat a Kung Pao pierogi. Says stand owner Dave Blahaa,

"That's fine, you don't have to! We have the traditional that you will like."

I have purchased Pierogis from Mr. Blahaa himself. I used to shop for produce and meats every Friday morning at the West Side Market. Awesome! There's absolutely nothing like it out here; probably nothing like it anywhere.

Posted to:

best book, evar?

British librarians were asked, "What books should we read before we die?"

Most of them said: To Kill A Mockingbird.

It's a wonderful book! A touching book! And inspiring book! Enough exclamation points? It's a well written book too... but the most important book? I don't know about that. In fact, there are a number of other books in the full list that I believe ought to place above Mockingbird, and here they are...

  • The Bible
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • A Christmas Carol (because of what Dickens accomplished by writing it)
  • Winnie the Pooh (no kidding)
  • 1984

All of these books did much to shape the times in which they were written (except for maybe LOTR, I just like that one), and they remain influential today.

There are probably other books on the list that I should have noted (as well as some unaccountable absences), but I haven't read some of them.

And I never heard of "All Quite On the Western Front"... I should make quite a point of checking that one out.
Posted to:


is something happening tomorrow night?

UPDATE: Here's a fresh article from ABC News about the many films from smaller studios that dominate this year's crop of Oscar nominees. It's interesting reading, if you care.

The Oscars are tomorrow night.


I've provided that link, but the Oscar site is... just... ick. What's up with the nauseating constant video?

The most amazing thing to me: I've actually seen one of the best picture nominees. It was an okay movie... I mean the acting was great and all but it was just a tad in your face with its message, don't ya think?

Well, I might watch the beginning to see Jon Stewart's approach. He's a funny guy. My favorite host was Steve Martin.

And who could forget THE Oscar Host, whose succinct appraisal of the show still applies: "Welcome to the Oscars. It's ninety minutes of sparkling entertainment... spread out over a three hour show."

Posted to:


the week in mail

This past couple of weeks in the new job have been excellent... until yesterday, but we'll get to that.

As my supervisor noted on Wednesday, "You're coming in later and later and getting back earlier and earlier." This is a good thing. The object is to make that outgoing truck, which shows at 5:45 on weekdays and 4:45 on Saturdays.

I mentioned earlier that Jim Regular had to finish his oral surgery process on Wednesday. What he hadn't counted on was that his daughter would become dehydrated from excessive vomiting (the result of a virus) and have to be hospitalized overnight. This happened on Wednesday. The same day that the brakes went out on my wife on her way home from work. She's fine, no accident. The car has a brake fluid leak.

What this means is 1. Jim Regular needed someone to deliver the route for him on Thursday, and 2. Jim Sub (that's me) was not available to do it becuase he had no car.

Unfortunately for all involved, no other subs were available either. And on Thursday morning I found myself having to deliver all manner of mail out of a postal vehicle, the famed LLV (Long Life Vehicle). You've seen them before. They're those stylin' white boxy trucklike things. They're designed for mail delivery and they are very well thought out. However, they are not designed for icy, snowy, slippery surfaces.

Oh, and we had an ice storm on Thursday as well. Did I mention that?

Well, after three good to great days on the job, I had a horrible day yesterday. I still feel bad about the multiple missed deliveries; mailboxes that I, unaccountably, drove right past. It sounds silly but the change in perspective from being three or four feet higher in the LLV than in a car makes a big and disorienting difference.

I made the truck though (yes, only because the truck was late, but I did make it). Jim Regular was back today (I think) but I don't know what happened with his daughter. I hope she's okay, and that he's not too upset with me for making hash of his route.
Posted to:


i've got more than one

Blog, that is.

Guess what? I actually have a gig as a freelance writer. No kidding.

My friend and fellow blogger, Jimmy Patterson, is an editor at My West Texas. We got to (virtually) talking the other day and when he invited me to start a Lenten Devotional Blog. I jumped at the chance. If you'd like to check it out, follow this link. You're welcome to comment either there or here on what you read.

Check out the rest of My West Texas web. Even if you're not from Texas, there's some good stuff there.
Posted to: