Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Excuses for Missing Work

I gotta admit, I thought it was pretty strange to get a newsletter from Monster.com featuring an article called, "Ten Excuses for Missing Work." Odd sort of thing for a employment service to be talking about, I thought, but hey--if it passed muster here, there's probably some gold to mine.

The article starts off sounding like an attempt to echo Ferris Bueller for the mature-set.

We've all been there. It's a beautiful day, and you can't bear the thought of going into work. So you call in with some excuse about feeling ill, but you know in your bones that your boss doesn't buy it.

The feeling ill excuse is a short-term solution that won't win you any fans at the office -- someone else will have to pick up the slack, or you'll miss deadlines. And it won't help your career any. Here are 10 excuses -- five smart and five not-so-smart -- to help you save face and your sanity.
All-righty! Here's something useful, how to take a random day off, with little-to-no fall out from the boss!! Now, go on and read the thing and then come back to finish this (otherwise, it'll just make no sense)

Sadly, the payoff in the article doesn't match up with the promise. The five not-so-smart excuses are just lame, and yeah, I can people trying them (or things similar), prima facie they're beyond not-so-smart. "I can't find my polling place?" Even if that wasn't the equivalent of asking Bill Engvall for his trademark sign, that'd only work 1 or 2 days a year (and rarely, if ever, on a "beautiful day").

But I can't see where most of the "Smart Excuses" fulfill the promise of cashing in on a beautiful day. Maybe, maybe if you're in sales/client relations (and can find an accomplice in your client's office at the last second), you can get away with the "Golf with a Client" thing on the spur of the moment. Three of the other "Smart Excuses" aren't really excuses at all--they're the result of pre-planning, and involve work and/or something potentially as unpleasant. How does this deliver on the promise of the lead-in?

Which leaves us with one option for a Smart Excuse, "I Have Cramps"--which only works for women (and probably only so often--especially if there's an equally devious female supervisor involved).

So essentially, the lesson that Monster.com teaches us to "save face and our sanity" is do the job you're hired to do and schedule permitted time off. Yeah, okay, that makes sense for them to promote :)

Living with the Top of Our Son's Head

This is pretty much all we've seen over the last week of Frodo. It's mostly encouraging, but a little strange at the same time.

Frodo, like his siblings, reads more than your average kid--he really has no choice in this household, like I've intended it all along (TLomL has intended it, too...probably not as intensely as me).* I should add that it's not all by coercion, he actually enjoys reading. Granted, he's not at the level I was at his age, but that's probably a good thing. He might actually have a social life in a couple of years.

Things changed a week ago, though. After repeated suggestions from his parents over the last few months, he pulled down Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone from the shelf and dove in. I'm not going to be one of the roughly 97 bazillion people to use the line about Rowling casting a spell on him, but...she basically did that. He's been plowing through them at a rate he's never hit before--seven days after he started Sorcerer's Stone, he started in on Half-Blood Prince. Samwise has been following his lead, but not at the same rate.

What's more, he's devoted hours to this project--he's ignored opportunities to play outside, to play video games (not every opportunity, mind you), to do basically everything he normally does so that he can sit with a Potter novel open in front of him.

I do realize that parents all over the world have experience this phenomenon. It's just great to see this in action. Never would've figured the top of his head would be such a great thing to look at (cowlick and all).

* Can I legally call that a sentence? Someone grab a Defibrillator for my inner-editor...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #42

God delights in our temptations, and yet hates them; he delights in them when they drive us to prayer; he hates them when they drive us to despair. The Psalm says: "An humble and contrite heart is an acceptable sacrifice to God," etc. Therefore, when it goes well with you, sing and praise God with a hymn: goes it evil, that is, does temptation come, then pray: "For the Lord has pleasure in those that fear him;" and that which follows is better: "and in them that hope in his goodness," for God helps the lowly and humble, seeing he says: "Thinkest thou my hand is shortened that I cannot help?" He that feels himself weak in faith, let him always have a desire to be strong therein, for that is a nourishment which God relishes in us.
- Martin Luther

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Couple of Unrelated News Items

The triple-digit/near-triple-digit weather we're enjoying experiencing seems to have tapped my ability to compose anything original, so yet again, I'll only be re-blogging (the forerunner of re-tweeting) what others have done.

The first story that prompted me to open a tab for blogger.com was one about The Church of England. Now frankly, I don't know anymore why I'm even vaguely surprised at anything the CofE does any more, but it happens sometimes.

The Church of England unveils a two-in-one wedding and baptism liturgy today as it seeks to make peace with families "living in sin."

The "hatch-and-match" service allows couples to baptise their children after the wedding ceremony. Parents can even get baptised themselves.

The aim is to encourage cohabiting parents to marry as the Church tries to become more relevant...
At the end of the day, I should just be encouraged that they're promoting marriage, but come on...

(via Christian Theology).

The second is a little more light-hearted, but still in the "what fools these mortals be" vein, according to the Omaha World-Herald:
A national vegan advocacy organization Wednesday filed a class-action lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court against five hot dog manufacturers, including ConAgra Foods Inc., asking that they be ordered to attach warning labels to their packaging.

The Cancer Project [one blogger described them as: "a non-profit dedicated to cancer prevention, nutrition education, research, and buzzkills"], based in Washington, D.C., said in the lawsuit that a study by the American Institute for Cancer Research showed that the daily consumption of hot dogs and other processed meats can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by as much as 21 percent.

Other manufacturers named in the suit, filed on behalf of three New Jersey residents, are Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee and Marathon Enterprises.

The Cancer Project wants packages of hot dogs to carry the following words: "Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."
The Omaha paper contacted local company, ConAgra, about the suit. The company directed them to the president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, there is such a thing), Janet Riley, "who calls herself the 'Queen of Wien.'" Anyone calling herself something like that should automatically win any and all arguments with tight-shoed Health Nazi groups. The World-Herald continues:
"Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer," Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Cancer Project, said in a press release. Riley said comparing hot dogs to cigarettes was "absurd."

"Other than pleasure, (cigarettes) offer no benefit to your health," she said. "I am the mother of two kids, and if I had any safety concerns, I would not be feeding (hot dogs) to my children."

Frankly, doesn't matter if they put those warning labels on the hot dogs (unless the government takes over health care, in which case they'll likely be banned), Denis Leary's rant about warnings on cigarette packs comes to mind:
There's a guy- I don't know if you've heard about this guy, he's been on the news a lot lately. There's a guy- he's English, I don't think we should hold that against him, but apparently this is just his life's dream because he is going from country to country. He has a senate hearing in this country coming up in a couple of weeks. And this is what he wants to do. He wants to make the warnings on the packs bigger. Yeah! He wants the whole front of the pack to be the warning. Like the problem is we just haven't noticed yet. Right? Like he's going to get his way and all of the sudden smokers around the world are going to be going, "Yeah, Bill, I've got some cigarettes.. H--- S---! These things are bad for you! S---, I thought they were good for you! I thought they had Vitamin C in them and stuff!" You f------ dolt! Doesn't matter how big the warnings are. You could have cigarettes that were called the warnings. You could have cigarrets that come in a black pack, with a skull and a cross bone on the front, called 'Tumors' and smokers would be lined up around the block going, "I can't wait to get my hands on these f------ things! I bet you get a tumor as soon as you light up! Numm Numm Numm Numm Numm

(h/t: The Hardball Times).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Apollo 11 Anniversary

update: this post has been linked by the super-dooper area blog, Treasured Valley! Running with the big dogs now... Thanks, Mr. Oates!

I really feel like I should/should have posted something about the 40 year anniversary of Apollo 11's moon-landing, but frankly, I can't think of anything to say that hasn't been said better by others.

So instead, I'll throw up a link to Wired's 10 Reasons Why The Apollo 11 Moon Landing Was Awesome, which is a little tongue-in-cheek, a little serious, and all worth the short amount of time to read.

It starts with:

We made the Russians look like chumps

We won the Space Race by putting a man on the moon. Sure, the Russians were there first having bounced their Luna 2 spacecraft off the moon 10 years earlier, but we left our footprints there. The Cold War may have lasted another 15 years or so after that, but it gave us the confidence to make movies like "Red Dawn." It also showed the world what could be achieved by democracy over communism.

Pretty much official now

  • Prince reportedly needs hip replacement surgery
  • Michael Jackson is dead
  • One of the Beastie Boys has cancer.


For those of you (us) unwilling to admit it, the 80's are over.

I feel so old.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #41

No man can estimate the great charge God is at only in maintaining birds and such creatures, comparatively nothing worth. I am persuaded that it costs him, yearly, more to maintain only the sparrows, than the revenue of the French king amounts to. What then, shall we say of all the rest of his creatures?
- Martin Luther

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Classy Move by Scentsy

according to The Idaho Statesman (so it's likely true):

Scentsy, which makes and sells fragrant, wick-free candles, is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a novel gift to its workers and suppliers - and to fellow Treasure Valley businesses.

On Saturday, Scentsy said, nearly 1,000 employees, suppliers and their family members will fan out across the Valley, buying $2,500 in goods from each of 40 locally owned retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

The businesses were selected based on nominations by Scentsy employees. The Scentsy participants will visit the businesses in groups of 50. Each participant will spend $50 at each of two businesses - and keep the goods.
Giving to the employees and to the area...couldn't really ask for more. Knowing Scentsy's that kind of company makes it a little easier to tolerate the strange-looking green ceramic doohickey on our mantle.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Szasz on Universal Health Care

Thomas Szasz, who should be required reading for everybody on Pschology, has some wise words on the idea of Universal Health Care. Go check out his WSJ Opinion piece "Universal Health Care Isn't Worth Our Freedom". He begins with:

People who seek the services of auto mechanics want car repair, not "auto care." Similarly, most people who seek the services of medical doctors want body repair, not "health care."

We own our cars, are responsible for the cost of maintaining them, and decide what needs fixing based partly on balancing the seriousness of the problem against the expense of repairing it. Our health-care system rests on the principle that, although we own our bodies, the community or state ought to be responsible for paying the cost of repairing them. This is for the ostensibly noble purpose of redistributing the potentially ruinous expense of the medical care of unfortunate individuals.
But here is the crux of his point (but leaving some of the details for you to read in the original)
The idea that every life is infinitely precious and therefore everyone deserves the same kind of optimal medical care is a fine religious sentiment and moral ideal. As political and economic policy, it is vainglorious delusion. . . .

Our national conversation about curbing the cost of health care is crippled by the vocabulary in which we conduct it. We must stop talking about "health care" as if it were some kind of collective public service, like fire protection, provided equally to everyone who needs it. No government can provide the same high quality body repair services to everyone. Not all doctors are equally good physicians, and not all sick persons are equally good patients.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Note from the Parenting Front

One of the privileges we get as parents is to watch our kids grow up, to transform out of the little helpless and self-centered balls of flesh that only care about eating, sleeping, and filling diapers into odd little rug rats and then into (if God is gracious) proto-adults who might actually be worth the time and effort we parents extended, and beyond (haven't gotten to the next stage yet with mine, so I can't cynically describe it).

Samwise isn't quite at the last stage I described yet, but he's getting closer. The last couple of weeks have brought some medical issues into our conversations--one involving my sister (she's fine, but it was a long and complicated road to find out there's nothing wrong with her...medically, anyway) and another involving something happening at TLoML's workplace. While not trying to suggest that his siblings didn't care, Sam always appeared more thoughtful (usually with a shade of troubled) and asked follow-up questions. The others took what I told them at face value, and got on with life. Sam thought about it, and then asked questions that displayed a care for the well-being/health/safety of the person, the nature of the issue (esp. as it would affect others). At least twice, he asked something I hadn't thought about and caught me off-guard. Watching his mind work like this makes me nothing be proud.

I should note, of course, that minutes (if not seconds) after these episodes, he was back acting like a capuchin throwing back triple espressos.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Invisibles

In the 70's and 80's a team of cat burglars had a very successful run in England, the police never captured them--never even identified them, as if they were invisible. Eventually, two of the team retired to the Spanish Mediterranean with their families. Now near 60, they've returned to England and moved into a senior living facility, to deal with aging, an empty nest, and boredom.

Of course, that just won't do--particularly when it turns out that the owner of the local pub is the son of their late partner, who's spent his lifetime idolizing them and dreaming of replacing his father on the team. It doesn't take long at all before the trio are back in action, committing the perfect crimes with a skill that this generation doesn't display.

It's a lighthearted drama, emphasizing character and personality over action and suspense. To be perfectly honest, the story moved slowly enough that in 2 or 3 of the six episodes in the first series' DVD set my attention waned (a lot), but perseverance paid off in the end. All around, a fun series with a lot of heart.

The cast, honestly, was what drew me to the series: Mina Anwar, who was so much fun on The Thin Blue Line; Dean Lennox Kelly, Doctor Who's rock-star Shakespeare and Puck from the BBC's Shakespeare ReTold (also starring Anwar, incidentally); and Anthony Head, Merlin's Uther Pendragon, Doctor Who's creepy alien posing as a headmaster, the RepoMan in the nightmare that was Repo! The Genetic Opera, and some US show about a teenage girl who killed vampires (the name escapes me). The Invisibles was a good, but not great, showcase for each.

The Invisibles was released here on DVD in May, two months after the BBC confirmed it wouldn't be getting a second series/season. So enjoy, but don't get attached :)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Oh, I Get By...

anyone out there want to help me set up a small network with a router of questionable trustworthiness?

On Open Letter on the Occasion of Reading Invincible #63

What a gut-punch of an issue!

I have a few things to say about/to Robert Kirkman, but none of them are printable. Anyway, my Gram always told me to say nothing if I can't say anything nice. So, in honor of Gram, here's my open letter.

Dear Mr. Kirkman,

H. C. Newton

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Who Needs Van Til When You've Got Woolery?


There's the occasional news bit I run across that's so out there it's hard to find a way to comment on it that's more humorous than the original story. But I'll try.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

A new game show on Turkish television will pit a Greek Orthodox priest, a rabbi, an imam and a Buddhist monk against one another in attempt to convert atheists to their respective religions.

In each episode of Penitents Compete, to be broadcast by Turkey's Kanal T television station in September, the four faith guides will try to persuade 10 atheists of the merits and truth of their creeds.
Yeah, okay, I got nothing...I mean, come on, Reality! There are struggling amateur humorists out here looking for material--How do I top this?**

The article goes on to say:
The show's producers say there is a good chance none of the atheists will be converted, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review reports.
Uhhh, ya think?

But what's a game show without prizes?
But those who [do really convert] will be sent on a pilgrimage. New Muslims will head to Mecca, Buddhists to Tibet and Jews and Christians to Jerusalem – with television cameras following them.

"They can't see this trip as a getaway but as a religious experience," Ahmet Ozdemir, Kanal T's deputy director, told Hurriyet.
And they'll have none of that "denying your faith to pretend atheism just to get a free trip" nonsense, thank you very much.
only true non-believers need apply. An eight-member team of theologians will vet contestants to ensure they really are atheists before deciding who will participate in the show.
I keep seeing this as some sort of jury-selection kind of process, instead of voir dire maybe they call it voir Deus? Featuring such questions as "Have you now, or have you ever been a member of the Catholic Church?" or questions guaranteed to trip up potential contestants, "When's the last potluck you attended?" being a sure-fire way to discover fibbing Baptists.

The show isn't without its critics (no, really?)
Some say it will be good for interfaith relations. But Hamza Aktan, chairman of Turkey's High Board of Religious Affairs, told the state news agency, Anatolian, that "doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs."
Aktan failed to mention that religion cannot be a subject for programs with real entertainment value, as Mel Gibson, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and TBN have taught us repeatedly.

* Proof I need to get Micah to do all my graphics work.
** I almost called this the biggest set-back to serious apologetics since the publication of the first Lee Strobel book, but I decided that was too mean-spirited.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Quote of the Day

a little wisdom to meditate on today, from a Quote of the Day widget somewhere:

Life... is like a grapefruit. It's orange and squishy, and has a few pips in it, and some folks have half a one for breakfast.
- Douglas Adams

Celebrate the 4th with a lil' Constitutional Satire

for those who think contemporary Liberals and Conservatives don't agree on anything, this quick video shows they do approach the Bill of Rights similarly:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Summer Movies

Is it a sign of maturity or just the quality of the summer blockbuster that the only three movies I'm really wanting to check out in this season of explosions, events, FX and sequels are:

and this one I can't embed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Derelict in Duties

No real post yet today...mayyybe later. There are a handful of reasons:

  1. Played a couple of games of Checkers with the Princess in lieu of teaching her how to play chess.
  2. I've been really fuzzy-headed and my concept of time today rarely matched reality.

  3. This is just one of the most endearing novels I've read in months, and despite not being far into it, just wanted to talk about it.

  4. and I've spent far too much time preparing responses to several of these wrong people, only to delete them, walk away with disgust, come back and rewrite a response, delete again, walk away again and then ultimately return to post something. Utter waste of time regardless. Would've been a much better use of time to write something pointless here. Sorry!