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Declaring Intangible Religious Benefits

May 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m filing stacks of paper that have surrounded my desk and noticed an odd disclaimer on our church’s quarterly giving statement. It said, 

[This] Church provided no goods or services in return for these contributions except intangible religious benefits.

So, just what is an intangible religious benefit? This phrase was on the last giving statement as well. I didn’t notice it at the time – but that’s not the first time I’ve missed something blatantly in front of my eyes. That said, this phrase nor anything similar was on any giving statements from 2010 or 2011. I’m not aware of any attorneys who attend this church. My mind wonders – who got to the senior pastor and advised him to put such a disclaimer on a giving statement? Is there now a legal requirement for churches to provide such a disclaimer? Are we living in such a screwed-up politically correct separation of church & state et al legalistic society that a church’s giving statement to its congregants must state the obvious? Or, am I missing something? I’m able to apply my church offering towards all charitable giving for tax purposes. Maybe there’s some sort of VAT (value added tax) coming that will offset the deduction? 

Happy 103rd Birthday, Gramma!

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went

(source unknown)

How do I know that my youth is all spent? Well, my get up and go has got up and went.
But in spite of it all I am able to grin. When I think of the places my get up has been.

Old age is golden, So I’ve heard said. But sometimes I wonder, as I get into bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup, and my eyes on the table until I wake up.

Ere sleep dims my eyes I say to myself, “Is there anything else I can put on the shelf?”
And I’m happy to say as I close the door, “My friends are the same, perhaps even more.”

When I was a young thing my slippers were red, I could kick my heels as high as my head.
Then when I was older, my slippers were blue, but still I could walk the whole day through.

Now I’m still older, my slippers are black. I walk to the store and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is all spent, my get up and go has got up and went.

But really, I don’t mind when I think with a grin, of all the grand places my get up has been.
Since I have retired from life’s competition, I busy myself with complete repetition.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits, pick up the paper and read the ‘obits’,
If my name is missing I know I’m not dead, so I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.

Dear Gramma,

It is always such a joy and delight whenever I visit you and I regret not being able to help celebrate your 103rd birthday. There are so many fond memories of good times spent together. To me, you’re the epitome of graciousness and a gentle spirit. You’re always pleasant to be around. There couldn’t have been a better grandmother in the world. Even though the eyes don’t see as well, and the ears don’t hear as well, and the fingers aren’t as dexterous, your mind is just as sharp today as it was 50 years ago. Back then – it’s a pleasant place for me to go where we’d sit on the front porch and watch the trolley cars go by. And you’d let me ‘help’ you push the lawn mower in the back yard. I once stepped on a bee and you had the best medicine – a Popsicle! We’d walk to the park and you’d give great big pushes on the swings and dig deep tunnels with us in the sandbox. Getting dirty was never a problem. A bouquet of dandelions always delighted you. You liked it when we’d ‘help’ in the kitchen and so you’d pull up a chair next to the counter. My favorite jobs, of course, were cracking the eggs and licking the batter off of the beaters. You’d climb up onto the top bunk bed and read us stories. Upon hearing the doctor’s advice to limit yourself to two beers a day, I still laugh at your decision to go from 12oz to 16oz cans! You taught me about honesty when, after having sent me to the grocery store to buy pancake batter, I (somehow) managed to not come home with the correct amount of change. You knew right away that I had ‘pilfered’ the cash and bought candy for myself. And too, you weren’t too pleased when you discovered me in the basement using matches as ‘indicator lights’ on my Tonka Toys. Even so, it was always comfortable to have you around. I always knew that you loved us. You still give us great big ‘bear hugs’ and squeeze us hard. I love it. I love you. And I look forward to seeing you again soon. All the very best on your 103rd, Gramma.

Love,

Bob

Humility – Is There an Easy Way to Learn It?

January 30, 2011 4 comments

Phil 2:3 in my NIV says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

No doubt humility is an important Christian virtue and it would appear that my good friend and able chess warrior, “Dr. J”, believes I need just a teeny weeny bit more humility in my life. Honestly, how is one to know? I tip my hat to “King James” for providing yet another opportunity to learn about humility. Just when I think the game is in hand, I manage to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Oops, that doesn’t sound too humble, does it? Well Jay, set ’em up as I’m ready for another lesson. If only you weren’t such a good teacher, though. Oops, that doesn’t sound too humble either. Well, looks like we might have to play a whole bunch of games before I get this conceit – oops – I mean concept down.

The Digital Age and the Christmas Story

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

You’re not alone if you’d never wondered how Joseph & Mary might have managed with Google, cell phones and all things digital.  I hadn’t either.  But I find this is quite original, humorous and entertaining.  Enjoy!

A Sleep-Study; It’s a ‘Weird’ Feeling – Feeling ‘Wired’

April 23, 2010 13 comments

Some words should simply never be placed next to each other.  Two words that I’ll try not to use together are ‘sleep’ and ‘study’.  All in all, undergoing a sleep study wasn’t a horrible experience, per se.  Brutal seems a better adjective.  For one already having issues getting sufficient sleep at night, the idea of glueing ~25 sensors to my head, face, neck, chest, finger and legs with all of the wires from each sensor attached to a “break-out’ box on the headboard of the bed is, well, unnerving.  I mustn’t forget the elastic bands around my chest and stomach and oxygen tube thing that gets placed in your nostrils.  That feels good – NOT! Thankfully a “silver bullet” to monitor core body temperature isn’t required.  Ask a Marine – they’ll know of what I speak.  Suffice it to say, though, it isn’t oral!

Even though the sleep study was done at a medical clinic, the room itself was comfortable enough having the appearance and typical furnishings of a Holiday Inn.  The bed wasn’t uncomfortable.  However, the plastic liner under the sheet felt weird.  I found no Gideon Bible.  However, in its typical place within a nightstand drawer next to the bed was a plastic hospital bed urinal.  I panicked at the thought of being strapped into bed all night unable to move lest “the patient” [me!] twist and turn and break one of those electrodes while trying to use this “special containment vessel”.  Fear gripped me and I had visions of the sleepologist turning out the light and then say with a quiet demur while shutting the door,  “You spill, you die!”

But my fears were quickly allayed when, after I was all wired up, the sleepologist explained how it would be possible, if necessary, for me to get up in the night and use the bathroom.  That was a relief!  Yes, pun intended!

To my dismay, the technician wanted me to sleep on my back.  That was really awkward as I primarily sleep on my side or stomach.  I was able to relax and do a little reading and even watched the end of a baseball game on TV.  Eventually I felt tired enough and thought I was ready to sleep.  If I ever wondered how they were going to “put me to sleep”, now was the time.  I half expected that I would be given some kind of quick acting, short lasting sedative.  Nope.  After you’re in bed and the myriad of wires are attached to the breakout box, the sleepologist turns out the lights.  Then, from the control room via a speaker phone, the sleepologist goes through a series of checks for all the sensors to ensure that everything is working.  After I had moved my eyes in different directions, clenched my teeth, breathed in a couple of times, held my breath, wriggled my legs – she as much said everything looked good and with a pleasant, “good night” – I was on my own.

I had previously been told that there is an infrared camera and microphone to correlate audible snoring sounds and body movements with electrical signals in the brain to better diagnose sleeping anomalies.  It made me want to ask the sleepologist if she’d heard or observed any funny things with her patients?  But I thought it best to keep my dignity to myself in part because I realized that something might happen to me and I might become one of those “stories”.

I opted to keep my watch during the night.  I wanted to know where I was within the “process” – how much longer is this going to last?  In hindsight, this might have been a mistake.  I don’t know.  Still, being wired up and in an unusual position, it was difficult falling asleep.  But I guess I did.  Or, so I was later told.  In fact, the sleepologist told me that my best sleep came after I had initially fallen asleep.  I had remained asleep for perhaps an hour and a half before I woke up.  Thereafter, the sleepologist told me that my sleeping was very erratic and I don’t really know how much sleep I actually got.  Maybe three hours total?  Maybe four?

I woke up for the last time a little before 5am and laid there trying to get some additional sleep.  I felt terrible – almost as though I had a cold; a little stiff and sore and a headache too boot.  At 6am I “rang the bell” and informed the sleepologist that I was done and wanted up.  She agreed and knew I had been just laying there awake for a little over an hour.  Hopefully I hadn’t done anything worthy of a story for her colleagues.  Anyway, she needed to verify that all the electrodes were still functioning so we repeated the pre-sleep tests.  After all the electrodes had been removed, I took a shower, dressed and then filled out a questionnaire regarding patient satisfaction.  The technician had previously informed me that any results would have to be discussed with the doctor in a subsequent follow-up visit.  So, that’s the next step – see what the doctor orders.

I’m certainly not anxious to be diagnosed with a malady that will be alleviated with a CPAP machine.  Then again, I’m tired (literally!) of always seeming to lack energy and dragging myself from one activity to the next whether at work or meeting with friends.  But, we’ll see where this leads.  The symptoms are what they are and the condition is what it is and if using a CPAP will bring relief then we’ll figure out how to do it.

UPDATE:

The doctor’s evaluation of my sleep study is that my sleep is interrupted by something called mild obstruction sleep apnea.  For most people, full and partial airway closures, snoring, and something called “near misses” are more prevalent when sleeping on one’s back than when sleeping on one’s side.  And, such is the case for me.  To that end, a CPAP or even some kind of a dental mouth guard called a mandibular repositioning appliance would help with the breathing and snoring.  However, whether I’m on my back or on my side, there are numerous one-to-three second periods, or as the doctor called them – arousals – that also keep me from getting normal deep sleep and which would not be helped by a CPAP or dental appliance.  These arousals are often related to things like pain, stress, and temperature and it’s not clear (at least to me) that any of these are reasons why I’m waking up.  So, at this point, I’m not sure what to do next.

Winter Garage Sale – Everything Digital Must Go!

February 28, 2010 3 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve delved into any Arminian/Calvinist stuff.  Perhaps a break was needed.  Sometimes, however, other things can come to the forefront of one’s life when, as happened yesterday, I had a one-on-one session to learn GarageBand.  I took lots of notes and seemed to understand what to do to fire this program up and start recording only to get home and NOT BE ABLE TO GET IT TO WORK.  This is so frustrating and so typical of my experiences in the digital world.  Perhaps others can relate:

It was bound to happen.  Some folks seem to have a knack for all things digital.  I’m not one of them.  What seems to be exceedingly easy for some people has become a trial and tribulation of biblical proportion for me.  My doctor is not willing to up my medication and I’ve used up the 20 annual psychological counseling sessions per year our medical plan allows (and it’s not even March yet!!).  Therefore, in the interest of sanity and self-preservation, I am offering my fellow bloggers and readers the first crack at:

Digital Equipment Winter Garage Sale

Middle aged male tired of constantly losing to the ‘digital aspects’ of everyday life and being considered dumber than a 5th grader.  As of today (except for the help required to get this memo posted) I’ll be writing with paper and pencil, listening only to AM/FM radio in the car, doing home musical recordings on a cassette tape, talking with others through a landline phone, checking out books from a library, subscribing to a daily newspaper, submitting the 1040 long form via the US Post Office and using a camera that accepts Kodachrome film.

For Sale:

  • Computer preloaded with software – new $1.00 (Half a CD wedged inside.)
  • USB interface – new $0.50 (Squished front panel knob.)
  • 40” flat screen TV – new $5.00 (Orange juice stain on front.)
  • Digital Camera – new $0.10 (Slight thumb depression on side.)
  • DSL router & home wireless system – new $0.25 (Inadvertently hit by pen that cracked the front panel.  All lights still working.)
  • GPS unit – new $0.05 (Regret not buying protection plan against being dropped.)
  • Digital Thermometer – used once $0.01 (Best not used orally.)
  • XM/Sirius Radio – slightly used.  Take over payments.  (Display brighter than an LED flashlight.  Black sock included for nighttime driving.)
  • Guitar effects processor – good condition ($0.75) (May have been inadvertently bounced off wall while unplugging.)
  • DVD player & 5.1 surround system – still in original box $3.00 (Orange juice may have leaked into box.)

Free:

  • Cell phone/MP3 player/camera – new (It’s somewhere along Wilderness Run Road in Eagan, MN.  I’m sure the snow bank it hit cushioned the impact.)

No reasonable offers refused