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When my daughter Christina got to law school in Philadelphia, she wanted a kitten. She got one from a friend’s parents in upper Pennsylvania, who already had 17 rather inbred cats. She named it Chairman Meow and true to its name it was dominant, vocal, demanding and was a voracious eater. Christina often commented that it’s full button appeared to be broken. When she returned for her first visit back to California, she took her kitty to a cat boarding facility in Philly. Upon announcing its name, they calmly informed her that her animal was the 11th such feline they had boarded with the name Chairman Meow. She was crestfallen.

Chairman2

I think everyone who names a pet tries to go for something unique and descriptive. Secretly many are hoping their pet will be the next Grumpy Cat. Many are looking for that one name that will help their pet capture the imagination of the masses, cat-apult their cat to stardom and maybe even lead to some form of monetization. Thus the rise of the evil dictator cat names, the Chairman Meows, the Kitlers, the Pussalinis, the Catsros and even the Meowseph Stalins. It has been noted that dogs have masters but that cats have servants. So before you decide to name your cat after an evil dictator, try and decide whether you want to be your cat’s servant or possibly its slave.

Kitler

When it comes to our present election season, it seems there are a lot of cats vying for power. How about Hillary Kitten, Gato Rubio or Purrney Sanders? When it comes to Trump, what seems to work is “Clump” but I wouldn’t want to litter your mind with any bathroom humor. People may point out that someone with a feline disposition already has a huge influence in the White House…could that be Meowchelle Obama? You Cat to be Kitten Meow as we say in our house!!!!

Truth is one of the human race’s first tasks in the Garden of Eden was naming the animals. It seems like Adam had no problem coming up with appropriate names. I mean elephant, cheetah and hippopotamus all seem to fit. I think since eating from that tree, our skills seem to have deteriorated. A Google search of cat names yielded such choices as Catastrofee, Jaspurr and MeowColm X. When it comes to going celebrity in our cat naming one can only begin to cringe. How about Catrick Swayze, Brad Kitt, Fuzz Lightyear and Leonardo Dicatprio.

Bottom line is we need cats that are appropriately named and that we can live with for four, eight or 14 years to come. One tip that may help you in making a good choice and enable you to be more like Adam in the Garden is just to name what you see. Christina bought Chairman Meow home and dumped her (in a weak parental moment) with her unsuspecting parents. She then went back for a second year in law school and found another inbred Pennsylvania kitten. This time she just named what she saw and got Patchy.

Patchy2

Patchy or Patch Patch, as we call her, has the most pitiful meow and is skinny as a rake. She has none of the dictatorial tendencies of Chairman. A look at the top 100 most popular cat names on cuteness.com reveals that this “name what you see” strategy may truly work. In those top 100 you get names like Oreo, Mittens, Ginger, Boots, Snickers, Rusty and Socks. So the moral of the story is to be careful how you name your next kitten or leader. You may just get what you choose.

Travel Madness

November 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

airline

I’m writing this blog at 32,000 feet flying back to California. I’m reflecting on the crazy “flying experience” us travelers have to endure. It starts with checking in our luggage. I heard of one guy going up to the counter with his check-in luggage. He said to the lady at the counter “I would like you to send this to New York then down to Florida then across to Texas and end it up in Atlanta.” Startled the lady responded. “Sorry sir, we don’t do that.” “Well,” responded the traveler “you did it last week. I don’t know why you can’t do it again.”

The stories we have of lost, delayed and broken luggage would make an excellent novel. It seemed like things would improve when they introduced sophisticated tracking technology. A few months ago my daughter headed to Tampa, Florida for a much needed vacation after taking the California Bar Exam to practice in the state. All her toiletries, make-up and clothing were in the hold and, upon arrival, she was told her bag was in another city. She was given a special tracking code to now track the arrival and delivery of the bag. Well her and I now began the exciting “where is Waldo’s bag” search by following the lost luggage on the computer.

We were very happy to discover that the bag had arrived in Tampa early that following morning and that Cedric was the assigned delivery driver leaving Tampa in a blue Nissan at 8:30am with the missing bag on board. We eagerly tracked the little blinking dot on the GPS map for two hours only to see Cedric’s car return back to Tampa’s airport. It was now almost noon and my daughter’s hosts were begging to start heading to the beach. With no beach clothes or swimsuit, my daughter remained miserable at the beach house dutifully trusting the technology and trying to reach every luggage agent she could get through to. Suddenly Elaine was the new driver in a silver PT Cruiser and the dot on the screen started blinking again but just seemed to be going nowhere. By 4pm the driver changed again to Nora in a black Corolla.

By this stage all my daughter’s three years of law school knowledge, combined with fiery frustration, was being systematically meted out on every airline and luggage agent that dared to physically answer a phone up and down the East Coast. Nora’s dot now seemed to travel in a tortuously slow path through every single neighborhood in Tampa. When it finally arrived after 10pm that night at the beach house, we discovered that Cedric’s car was having engine trouble and returned to base, Elaine bit off more than she could chew and could not fit all the luggage assigned to her into her vehicle. Of course my daughter’s bag was a casualty and got left behind and had to be reassigned. Finally Nora decided to deliver her bag last. Had she arrived at the beach house a few minutes later, she would have missed delivering it by the 11pm curfew and would have had to take it back to Tampa airport to start the process again the following day. What we discovered was that the technology had not really helped improve the service but simply prolonged the agony and exposed the absolute incompetency of both the airline and the luggage delivery system.

Well back to my flight. I’m gazing up through a thinly veiled curtain at the “comfortable” people eating their warm nuts in first class. No matter how many miles I fly I never seem to make that elite group. Over to my right is a large lady with a young baby. They are both sleeping now, completely trapping in the other two people in the row. Most airline seats are not designed for large people never mind a baby, a huge diaper bag, handbag, blanket and snacks.

Travel3

Even if one of those trapped was desperate to use the restroom, I doubt if any of them would risk damaging the sleeping status quo. The scenario reminds me of the following airline story which I will close with:

A little guy gets on a plane and sits next to the window.
A few minutes later, a big, heavy, strong mean-looking, hulking guy plops
down in the seat next to him and immediately falls asleep.
The little guy starts to feel a little airsick, but he’s afraid to wake
the big guy up to ask if he can go to the bathroom. He knows he can’t
climb over him, and so the little guy is sitting there, looking at the big
guy, trying to decide what to do.
Suddenly, the plane hits an air pocket and an uncontrollable wave of
nausea passes through the little guy. He can’t hold it in any longer and
he pukes all over the big guy’s chest.

About five minutes later the big guy wakes up, looks down, and sees the
vomit all over him.

“So,” says the little guy, “are you feeling better now?”

In the past I had heard the story of a blonde going into an appliance store sale and finding a bargain.

“I would like to buy this TV,” she told the salesman.
“Sorry, we don’t sell to blondes,” he replied.
She hurried home and dyed her hair, then came back and again told the salesman, “I would like to buy this TV.”
“Sorry, we don’t sell to blondes,” he replied.
“Darn, he recognized me,” she thought.

She went for a complete disguise this time; haircut and new color, new outfit, big sunglasses, then waited a few days before she again approached the salesman. “I would like to buy this TV.”

“Sorry, we don’t sell to blondes,” he replied.
Frustrated, she exclaimed, “How do you know I’m a blonde?”
“Because that’s a microwave,” he replied.

Well it does highlight that certain people in the population do have a difficult time with technology. When someone I know well this past week posted this, I could do nothing but laugh.

She titled it: “What it is like being technologically challenged”

Me (walking into the IT Room): “Hi, I need to use your scanner” (points at machine)
IT Guy: “That is not a scanner. I’ll show you where they are”
*5 minutes later*
Me (walking into the IT Room): “I tried to scan, but I think it didn’t work”
IT Guy: “You need a lesson on how to use the scanner?”
Me: “Yes please…”
*5 minutes later*
Me (walking into the IT Room): “I think I caused a paper jam”
IT Guy: “While scanning?!?”

What makes the second story even funnier is that it recently actually happened and similar stories happen across the nation in offices every day. I think there should be a blog where IT people in the workplace share technology tales. How many times has someone told me something does not work when all that was required was to plug in a device?

There is no question that certain technologies seem designed to reveal generational ignorance and sometimes, just ignorance itself. It does seem that certain people are wired for technology and others just are not. Just today I heard a lady tell a store clerk she does not own a computer. She just refuses to get into the game. Others find learning far too intimidating and their brains just can’t handle it. It is like direction, some people have a good sense of it and others don’t have a clue. My greatest advice to those who struggle with technology is to make yourself friends with a 12-yr old because you will need their help and all of that age group seem to get it.

A farmer named Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside except for a pet dog he had for a long time.
The dog finally died and Muldoon went to the parish priest, saying “Father, the dog is dead. Could you possibly be saying a Mass for the poor creature?”
Father Patrick told the farmer “No, we can’t have services for an animal in the church, but I’ll tell you what, there’s a new denomination down the road apiece, and no telling what they believe in, but maybe they’ll do something for the animal.”
Muldoon said “I’ll go right now. By the way, do you think $50,000 is enough to donate for the service?”
Father Patrick replied “Why didn’t you tell me the dog was Catholic.”

St. Patrick – Although many enjoy parades and drinking on St. Pats Day, very few know his real story. My own family name came from St. Fillan, an Irish priest who went from Ireland in the 7th Century to bring Christianity to Scotland. A year ago I took my wife and daughters to Strathfillan in Scotland to investigate some of the family roots. I found this historical sign out in country field and had my wife snap a photo. It looks like some of those early Irish were a lot more spiritual than people give them credit for.
Fillan Irish Missionary

The text read – Fillan was a traveller on foot…He came to the area to spread the teachings of a Christian way of life to the Scots and to the Picts…The ruin in front of you is the remains of a priory built in recognition of Fillan’s teachings, which following his death lead him to be made a saint. St. Fillan cared for the area and it’s people. We should do the same.

I took excerpts from http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick to give a quick overview of St. Patrick’s life.

St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland, was born in England around 385AD. Surprisingly, St. Patrick himself was not raised with a strong emphasis on religion. Education was not particularly stressed during his childhood either. When St. Patrick was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish pirates. They brought him to Ireland where he was sold into slavery in Dalriada. There, his job was to tend sheep. Saint Patrick’s master, Milchu, was a high priest of Druidism, a Pagan sect that ruled religious influence over Ireland at the time.

St. Patrick came to view his enslavement as God’s test of his faith. During his six years of captivity, he became deeply devoted to Christianity through constant prayer. In a vision, he saw the children of Pagan Ireland reaching out their hands to him. With this, he grew increasingly determined to free the Irish from Druidism by converting them to Christianity.

Missionary Work
The idea of escaping enslavement came to St. Patrick in a dream in 408AD. In the dream, a voice promised him he would find his way home to England. Eager to see the dream materialize, St. Patrick convinced some sailors to let him board their ship. After three days of sailing, he and the crew abandoned the ship in France and wandered, lost, for 28 days—covering 200 miles of territory in the process. At last, St. Patrick was reunited with his family in England.

Now a free man, St. Patrick went to Auxerre, France where he studied and entered the priesthood under the guidance of the missionary St. Germain. As time passed, St. Patrick never lost sight of his vision: he was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity. C. 431, Pope St. Celestine I consecrated St. Patrick Bishop of the Irish, and sent him to Ireland to spread “The Good News,” or Christian Gospel, to the Pagans there.

Upon his arrival in Ireland, St. Patrick was initially met with hostile resistance. But St. Patrick quickly managed to spread Christian teachings far and wide. Through preaching, writing and performing countless baptisms, he convinced Pagan Druids that they were worshiping idols under a belief system that kept them enslaved. By accepting Christianity, he told them, they would be elevated to “the people of the Lord and the sons of God.” Throughout his missionary work, St. Patrick continued to promote the conversion of Ireland to Christianity by electing Church officials, creating councils, founding monasteries and organizing Ireland into dioceses. St. Patrick died around 461AD in Saul, Ireland. He is said to have been buried in Ulster, County Down, Ireland.

Best quote – “If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples, even though some of them still look down on me.”

This Facebook posting tonight just begged to be put into a blog. It jogs my early memories as a child growing up in South Africa. Those radio commercials were always so confusing (we didn’t get TV until 1976). Well things aren’t much different here in California a generation later and a continent removed as one Dad posted the following:

“I’m watching TV with my boys and a commercial comes on. I was really not paying attention to what the commercial is all about until one said “dad what’s a reptile dysfunction?” Well at this point I became very much aware of what the commercial is about THEN the even bigger question was asked. “How does one catch it? and if you get it do you turn into a reptile?” I am very proud of my answer to this very awkward question. I said, “Son, you have nothing to be concerned about because kids your age don’t turn into reptiles.” AWKWARD!!!”

Talk about confusing, I don’t think many adults appreciate how befuddling some of our commercial messaging can be. I even have a hard time following the logic. Just regarding the commercial being referenced here, can someone explain how a product promoting intimacy and a cure for reptile dysfunction has two people in separate bath tubs holding hands watching a sunset outside? It seems like this product would only really work if they ended up in the same bath tub and hopefully one larger and more private than those narrow single bathtubs out in a field? I digress. I’m just trying to point out that if these ads are confusing to even us adults, just imagine what they are to kids.

I mean look at those pharmaceutical commercials showing some tablet that’s supposed to help you to sleep or that has some other supposed benefit. As you watch it, they often show smiling people playing in slow motion with their children or grandchildren. All this fun stuff is happening while the announcer rattles off all the horrific side effects, often including “death” or how about that lady with the elephant on her chest? Think how a kid would interpret that image.

My childhood in South Africa was filled with such confusions, chief of which was how Santa’s sleigh was somehow going to make it to our home in 104 degree heat as we singed on the other side of the earth in mid summer. One year when the gifts came late we were told it was because Santa’s sleigh had derailed on those rocks far in the distance. No wonder Rudolf’s nose was red, what with all that blazing African sun and all that rock crashing! But back to those confusing radio commercials. Ours in South Africa were for things like Black Cat Peanut Butter, two items that had nothing to do with each other or for the underarm deodorant MUM for Men!!! That commercial always ended with the question “hasn’t your Mum always looked after you?” Well of course she has but what has that got to do with stuff under your arms?

I close by inviting my readers to give what your answer might have been if your boy asked you “what’s reptile dysfunction and how does one catch it?” Remember you only have 8 seconds to think before giving an answer and please no snake references!!! Also what was your most confusing commercial as a child?…Have fun sharing your insights and memories!!!

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend to Husband and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend.

In addition, Husband uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance and Personal Attention and then installed undesirable programs such as Rugby, Football, Sailing and Continuous TV. Conversation no longer runs, and Housecleaning simply crashes the system. I’ve tried running Nagging to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed, Desperate

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Desperate,

First keep in mind, Boyfriend is an Entertainment Package, while Husband is an Operating System. Please enter the command: ‘http: I Thought You Loved Me.html’ and try to download Tears.

Don’t forget to install the Guilt update. If that application works as designed, Husband should then automatically run the applications Jewelery and Flowers, but remember – overuse of the above application can cause Husband to default to Grumpy Silence, Garden Shed or Beer. Beer is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources).. Also, do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband.

In summary, Husband is a great system, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. It also tends to work better running one task at a time. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Food and Hot Lingerie.

Good Luck,
Tech Support

In another blog Hunting for Wolves, I encourage people to be optimistic no matter how bleak their situation looks. In the funny story below, the only lesson you can learn is to stick your (hopefully true) story no matter how crazy it may appear.

There were two friends in a park, one guy with a Doberman Pincher and the second guy with a Chihuahua. Both were extremely hungry so the owner of the Doberman Pincher said to his friend with the Chihuahua, “Let’s go over to that restaurant and get something to eat.”

The guy with the Chihuahua says, “We can’t go in that nice eating place. We have our dogs with us and they will never let us bring our dogs into that restaurant.”

The guy with the Doberman Pincher says, “Just follow my lead.” They both walked over to the restaurant. While the friend with the Chihuahua watched from the outside, the guy with the Doberman Pincher put on a pair of dark glasses, entered the restaurant and approached the maitre d’.

The maitre d’ immediately blocked him & the dog from entering and said, “I’m very sorry, sir, but our policy is that no pets are allowed in the restaurant.”

The guy with the Doberman Pincher said, “You don’t understand. This is my seeing-eye dog.”

The maitre d’ was incredulous, “What! a Doberman Pincher as a seeing-eye dog?”

The owner of the Doberman replied, “Yes, they’re using them now, they’re very good.”

The maitre d’ reluctantly relented, “I apologize sir, please come on in and be seated.”

Well the friend with the Chihuahua was watching all this from the outside and figured it was worth a try so he put on his pair of dark glasses and also walked in. The maitre d’ immediately stopped him and politely said,

“I’m so sorry, sir, we don’t allow pets in our restaurant.”

The man with the Chihuahua says, “You don’t understand. This is my seeing-eye dog.”

The maitre d’ this time responded, “What! You have a Chihuahua as a seeing eye dog?”

The man with the Chihuahua answered back and said, “What!!! Are you telling me they gave me a Chihuahua as a seeing-eye dog?”

 

This has to be one of the funniest stories I remember hearing, and I need to apologize upfront to PETA and to many wildlife lovers. I was raised in Africa and I love the wild, but please see the humor in this one without having your sensibilities violated!

The story revolved around a man going to court facing a felony conviction for being caught, red handed, eating a bald eagle. It appeared to be an open and shut case. The man was caught by park authorities, bird in mouth. The accused requested no lawyer, as the law was clear and the penalties were laid out by the state of California. The sentence mandated by the legislature was six months in a federal prison and a minimum $10,000 fine. The prosecution described the case and the judge was about to rule, when the accused raised his hand, requesting an opportunity to give a defense.

The judge allowed the accused to approach the bench. “Sir,” the man began, “please allow me to share my side of the story. You see I went hiking alone in the wilderness and got hopelessly lost. I ate all my supplies and drank all the water I had taken with me. After three days I was almost delirious with dehydration and came over a high mountain. There, far down below I saw a river and made my way carefully down the mountain to it. I was so relieved to find water, and I drank and drank to satiate my thirst. At this point I was starving and suddenly noticed some beautiful fish swimming in the river. I wished I had the tackle and bait to catch one of them, but I had none. Suddenly, right in front of me, a gorgeous bald eagle swooped down, picked up one of those fish, and flew up into the tree above my head. Then I began to think, if only I could get that eagle to drop the fish, I could at least eat the fish and satisfy my aching hunger. I picked up a nearby log and threw it at the eagle, never intending to hit it but just hoping to scare it into dropping the fish. Unfortunately, the log struck the eagle and killed it. Now I had a dead eagle, I was starving and I thought. ‘There is no use wasting it.’ I prepared it and had just started eating when a search party sent out to look for me arrived on the scene and arrested me.”

The judge was clearly moved. He struck his gavel and dismissed the case. As the accused was leaving the courtroom, the judge called him up to the bench one more time. This time in a whisper he said, “Sir, I was really moved by your story, but I have one personal question. Out of pure curiosity, please tell me, what does a bald eagle taste like?”

The man paused with a quizzical look on his face, “Well your honor, it’s more tender than a California condor, but not quite as tender as a spotted owl.”

President Obama spoke for 109 minutes in his 2011 State of the Union speech. The most memorable word people heard from his address was not jobs, the economy, optimism or business, it was “salmon.” In describing the over regulation of US industry, the President pulled out this illustration:

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

This blog is about using powerful memorable stories, examples and object lessons to illustrate truth. Think of how much our society and world loves interesting stories. Hollywood films and television movies are built around them and so is the news. We tell bed time stories to our kids and Jesus communicated most of His teachings through parables. I have been collecting powerful stories to illustrate truth for 25 years now and this blog will share those with you.

The second element that made Obama’s “salmon” comment so memorable was that it was funny. In a recent tweet that got amazing feedback I wrote: My wife Lisa recently said if she ever died, I had permission to marry the very next day. I asked why so soon? She said “so the kids will live.”

I am actually married to a stand up comic who makes me laugh daily even after 25 years of marriage. I plan to draw on the humor in my life, I mean my wife, to make this blog a fun read every time.

So in conclusion, what I have taught you in this first blog is to follow the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Never make a point without telling a story and never tell a story without making a point.” Use it in your blogging, your tweeting, your speaking and in your life.

Berin