Saturday, December 20, 2014

Roast Chicken, a recipe de ma chère fille, Elena Marie

  1. Brine chicken for 24 hours (we just use 1/3 cup salt in the brine)
  2. Make sauce: 1 stick of butter, lots of mustard (EM: 'uh, at least 5 squirts'), you can add: spices: pepper, basil, thyme, a little oregano, parsley. Cover the chicken completely in the sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F, cook chicken, covered (not sealed) in foil, for 2 hours
  4. After an hour an a half, peel potatoes and quarter or chunk them, put them in the pan (that's right, into the drippings from the chicken).
  5. After the two hours (that is thirty minutes after you put in the potatoes), uncover, cook for another 1/2 hour to crisp, increasing the temperature to 400°F
Me: Elena, really? All those extra spices in the sauce? I thought it was just butter and mustard.
EM: Eh, you could do it that way, too, if you want.

So, there you have it: the world's yummiest chicken recipe (I didn't put in the spices into the sauce myself. EM: see?). Goes wonderfully with green salad with mixed in dried cranberries, black olives, and anchovies. Or you could serve with a hot vegetable, such as asparagus spears.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eight Months

Dear LORD,

Thank You for this day coming up to the end of this month of October, the tenth month of the year and completing the eighth month of my employment.

Thank You for giving me my family. Please watch over my daughters as they visit their auntie in California.

Thank You for giving me my work. Please bless me with it and make me productive and helpful. Please bless it and my coworkers, drawing it and them closer to perfection into Your Divine Love.

LORD, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done. Not what I want but what You will.

I ask this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Friends: Treasures on Earth

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today.

Thank You for giving me this leadership role on the job, and thank You for helping me to grow into it.

LORD, thank You for granting me strength and perseverance these days. Please help me always to worship You, to cherish my family, and to do well wherever You need me. Help me to do good and help me to avoid evil.

My little Elena Marie is growing up . Please be with her as she struggles along with her changing mind and body. Keep her heart in Your care. Help my little Isabel Marie, and myself, and my wife to eat what is right and healthy and to do so in moderation.

Please be with Diane's parents as they visit. Make our home a welcome one, a place of peace and joy. Please be with her brothers back in the Philippines and also with my extended family and friends, treasures You have sent me on this Earth.

Help me to treasure these gifts You have sent me here and help me to treasure the gifts You lay up in Heaven for those who love, serve, and adore You. Help me and all those who seek You find You and love You in Your glory!

I ask this through Jesus, the Christ.


Friday, June 20, 2014

This is poor Starbucks service

Dear Starbucks,

Thank you for the three, no, four, "I'm sorry"s I just received from your customer-facing, and management, partners at the Crowne Starbucks at 307, Rockville, MD today.

I am not going to provide you the full address of the store. You are capable of looking that up, aren't you?

Thank you for saying

"I'm sorry"

instead of serving me one of your delicious tomato-mozzarella sandwiches on a Friday.

All the alternative sandwiches you had ... they all, every single one of them, had meat in them.

Thank you for not providing a vegie sandwich alternative on a Friday, or, on everyday, to your customers who choose to abstain from meat, or who cannot eat meat, for religious or for other reasons.

Thank you for, when I presented my $10 coupon, with a redemption code right on there, that I received for Fathers' day, thank you for saying "I'm sorry" instead of honoring the coupon.

Thank you for that.

Thank you, especially, for your POS partner looking at it helplessly for a while, then her calling her training partner, and him looking helplessly for awhile.

His quote of the day, "Uh, I don't know how to do this."

So he calls the managing partner.

She looks at it for a while. She doesn't give the excuse quote. No, she tells me:

"It needs a redemption code."

I show her the redemption code.

"No, you have to go online and get us a barcode. We can't do this." (emphasis mine)

So, my family got me a certificate. $10. It has a redemption code.

For Fathers' Day.

And Starbucks took ten minutes to process this order to tell me "I'm sorry" four times, one for the meat-only sandwich options, and one, each time for their inability to process my, hello, Fathers' Day coupon, and then the final not-"I'm sorry" for saying I should have done something that I already (verifiably) did.

Take away

I'm wondering, for Starbucks, how much does an "I'm sorry" cost them. I'm not wondering how much it cost the megalithic-Starbucks. I know how much it costs them.

Nothing. Business at the 307 Rockville Starbucks is on the rise. Their "I'm sorry" costs them negative.

I'm wondering, for Starbucks, how much each of those "I'm sorry"s cost each of those customer-facing partners.

Again, I know the answer to that, too:

Nothing. They said, "I'm sorry" which means "no, tough luck," and they went on with their day, totally unaffected. They aren't sorry.

I wish they actually were sorry when they said "I'm sorry" for me. It would have made me feel a tiny-teensy bit better.

You know what would have made me feel good? As a Starbucks customer? A Starbucks "partner"?


And honoring my tendered payment, for goods I actually didn't want, but I settled for, because, hm, I was hungry, and Starbucks is supposed to be effective in meeting their customer needs efficiently.

Starbucks. I have a question for you. I have a picture of your store front. I have the original receipt. And I have a really pissed off attitude, and I have a cell phone number and email address.

What are you going to do about this?

What are you going to do to train your store employees (not partners, because I saw no initiative that a partner would take. But I did get four "I'm sorry"s so that makes it all okey-dokey in their book. Not in mine), so that they deliver customer service instead of delivering excuses to customers?

What are you going to do to make this one pissed-off customer (again, not partner, because I do not feel included in your service, I felt very much kicked to the curb) a little bit less pissed off at you?

Served. Ball is in your court, Starbucks. How are you going to return to serviceable standing?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Honesty is not what anybody's about anymore, they're about being plugged into their i-device into they way into to work, sitting at their desk, mindlessly, shuffling TPS reports for the next eight or so hours so they can get plugged back in on their way home, snarl at their family until everyone's settled in front of whatever tube feeds their emptied minds mindless drivel so they can fall asleep and do that all over again for the rest of their lives until they die.

Nobody wants to hear honesty anymore, unless it's about Kayne West or Kim Karashdan.

Is it a bad thing that I have no Idea who these people are?

According to the world, yes, yes, it is. I have no idea what's in the news, the status of dead people on a plane or boat or storm nor who stabbed whom in Pennsylvania or Ohio or Connecticut or who raped whom, 'whom' who showed up a party, underaged, without her parents' permission, drank quite a bit and was she chaperoned? No. Was the party supervised? No. So, teens with drugs and alcohol, but we know our Johnny's going to be on his best behavior because we've been there the whole time, raising him rightly.

I have no idea of any of this going on, every day, some of it making the news, most of it not, just showing up on facebook and instagram, two more media outlets I do not frequent like our 'well-connected society' now does more than they interact with their spouses and children.

I wish I could introduce everyone the power and beauty of being able to create. Create what? 'Content'? No. Beauty. Art. You see, I'm well-connected. I come from a family of writers and teachers and poets and I married into a family of artists. You, dear reader, are probably well-connected, too, being a writer yourself, or artist.

Unlike most people. Most people? Are they content-producers? No, they are simply consumers, and their benefit to themselves, their family, and others is ... what?

What are you here for? Really?

Teens get it. Don't they? That's why they party so hard, drinking until they're numb and then killing themselves more and more frequently these days. Teens know that their lives are pointless, and they are totally useless.

And we wonder why we're losing this next generation to sex, drugs and whatever they call rock and roll these days? This is not the griping of an old, bitter man, this is my plea from me to you.

What is your purpose? Is your purpose that? To commute, then to work, then to snarl then to vege? Are you giving your children purpose? What do they have to live for? Why should they be morally upright? Your purpose is them, right? That they have it better, and live happily.

But what purpose are you give them? 'Father, give me a quest, ... a noble quest.'

Who can give their child a noble quest? Can you? And how can you give them a noble purpose if you have none?

You're purpose is them? Okay, but what role model are you? They become what you are now. Do you want them nice, safe and secure in a 9-to-5er, working for the Man, for the rest of their lives until they die, leaving their 'survived-by' family members a mountain of debt and a mess of unfinished tasked and stories never told? What noble purpose are you giving your children? What can they create? What legacy can they leave, so that two hundred years later people will say 'Grace Hopper' 'Rosa Parks' ... and your daughter. Or, 'George Washington,' 'John Adams' (arguably our most passionate and thoughtful and caring Founding Father) ... and your son.

Wow. Okay! I know where this all came from: people being 'taught' in schools what? Nothing but rote memorization, and we're all paying for that, every day we rotely go to our jobs and turn right around and go to work, because that's how we're defined now.

We need to get back to basics. We need to redefine what it is to be a person, a citizen, and we need to reconstrain what others tell us, particularly when they're telling us how to think and be and live.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A(n Easter Egg) Hunting We Will Go!

(Une petite histoire in pictures)

Our girls, about to embark on their Easter Egg hunt! Ooh, an adventure!

Our girls, hunting and gathering Easter eggs

Success! Easter Bunny eggs found!

... and our girls lived happily (or chocolate-hazedly) ever after.

The end.


Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Thank you for my birthday supper with my family — Yay! — including my sister, Beki, and my niece, Sofya. What a special treat for me! This week, LORD, I am 47 years old. Help me to be mindful of you today and every day this new year and then every year throughout my life.

Please be with us, LORD, as we place our trust in You. Please be with Howland, Beki, Peter, and Sofya as they face this hard time. Please help Peter to be a person he can be: sweet, gentle, kind, smart, and help him to let go of his hurts and help him not to hurt others. Please be with my parents, now divorced after 30 years of separation. Please heal their hearts. Please love them, LORD, and keep them in Your care, as they kept me in theirs.

Please be with me, LORD, Please be with me at work and help me to be productive and helpful there. Please be with me at home, LORD, to be a good husband and father, a solid rock of strength and stability upon which my wife and daughters may rest assured and safe.

Please, LORD, help us to know, to love, and to serve You.

I ask all these things in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Your Love (the only thing that matters)

Dear LORD,

Thank you for today.


It was a cold day today! Especially coming off such a warm day the day before. So! Thank you, LORD, for keeping me safe and warm today throughout the day. Thank You, LORD, for the simple things You gave me today, little miracles for which I'm grateful: a simple lunch with my coworkers where we got to talk about things other than work, like getting married and video games (at work? not likely!).

Thank You for letting me complete my one task today. Please help me to be effective and efficient at work getting things done, showing results so the customer can be pleased to give the users what they need.

LORD, we lost in our family. My sister has tried and fought for a long, long time to help Peter be a person free from his past and a good, kind, loving boy, not lashing out at his parents and other children. But after years of trying, she's had to ask for State help to take over his care and to keep him in a controlled and safe environment. Please, LORD, be with Beki, Howland, Peter, and Sofia. Give them Your Love and strength. Help them.

I ask this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Dear LORD, 

Thank You for today. Thank You for helping me to make so many messes today. I made a mess of everything I ventured today, and I made so many of them. But I a grateful. If I weren't making messes, I wouldntve been doing anything. If I weren't making messes, I'd've been taking myself o-so-seriously, and I do too much of that already. Today, however, I got to break the build, twice, and laugh at it and myself with Clayton. He saw me making mistakes, but, instead of getting angry with myself, I laughed at silly me and fixed my errors or let him correct me and fix my errors, himself. Besides, everything doesn't depend on me: Clayton likes to code, too. He's allowed me the space to code, and, today, I gave him opportunities to code, too. Something he hasn't done in a while.

Thank you for Alpna dropping me off at the Celerity bus stop so I could assuage the little girl's worries that, es, she was at the right bus stop, and yes, it was the right bus that took her to the right stop home, and yes, the bus takes a while to reach the stop. Just as soon as I relieved her worries, the bus arrived and her relief, seeing, not believing me, but seeing the bus was palpable.

LORD, let me be a relief to everyone I see today and everyday. Let me remove one worry from their lives, so, today, they can be happy.

I ask this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grateful in lean and in plenty

Dear Lord,

Thank you for today. Thank you for another week of paid work; may our paycheck help us to begin to make arrears with our past bills. Thank you for the Rosary Walk after lunch. It helped me to think on you. Thank you for the new work at work. Help me to help the project and my coworkers to get done what they need to do. Thank you for the letter from the IRS saying that we would receive a larger refund. We went through a period of lean and hardship, and now we are receiving bounty. Help us to use it wisely and to be grateful in lean and in plenty. 

I ask this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You lead; I'll follow

Dear LORD,

You lead, I'll follow. Jamie Grace sings so lightly, so happily, and her words have such depth to them: You lead, I'll follow.

LORD, let it be so every day.

Thank you, LORD, for this past week of employment: I'm so pleased my employer is pleased with me.  Please turn my good sart to an even better relationship, fostering mutual respect and help. Let me help my employer meet their targets and be pleased with their successes. Let my employs help me to be fulfilled in the work I am doing, let them help me to be productive and helpful. Thank you for the time I have commuting so that I may write and plan and build systems that can help my family achieve financial independence and freedom from debt.

Thank you for the work my wife is doing to manage our money so that we spend frugally and prudently. Thank you for the joy in the hearts off our children: their joy gives me great joy to see it in their eyes. May I be a good, kind, funny, caring Papa to them, that they feel safe with me and happy to have me as their Daddy.

LORD, You lead, I'll follow.

I ask all this in the name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Dear LORD,

Thank You for today, my first day back at work after a three-month hiatus. Thank You for the financial hardship, for the lesson that this is not the answer, being a consultant in the financial industry, that this only provides for today but does not help my family in stability and security.  Help me to see that working long hours for someone else does not help my family. Help me to work, to work hard, to enjoy my work before me, but then to set that all aside and then actually to do good, lasting labor.

Please bless the work of my hands, please bless that I do on the job and let it be a blessing to my employers and coworkers. Please bless the time with my family, please continue to make me, and to remake me, a blessing to my wife and my daughters, to my sisters, and to my parents, to my cousins and my aunts and uncles. Then please strengthen me and let me labor with a will and then with solid results. Help me to build a strong, steady foundation that will secure my family's financial future.

I ask all these things in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Got a job, paying the bills, next up: slaying dragons.

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today.

Thank You for allowing me to restart paid work March 17th, 2014. Our funs have run out, and we have no credit to pay the mortgage or insurance or gas, so this work now is a God-send, a much-needed relief of money to pay for the things we need as a family for warmth and sustenance. Please, o LORD, grant me the strength and will to keep me at this contract so we can pay our arrears and then start to regain sound financial footing.

Thank You for this in-between time with my family where I can help with the cooking and praying.

Thank You for my renewed interest in the technical indicators portfolio. Please bless this work, make it fruitful and a way for our family to have sound financial security so we can live our lives happily and healthily and so we can assist others in need financially so they can do great things in Your Name, Jesus.


'W' is for water-walker


At work today I was asked: "Do you actually walk on water?"

That's how I appear to others: a water-walker, a miracle-worker.

Now I just have to do that for myself and my family.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

'L' is for Lent

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Thank You for helping us all to resolve the contractual issues so that Imay start work Monday, March 10th, 2014. Please help me to be helpful at work that I may be of use and that I may help the project and the people there to work together well and be fulfilled in their work.

This Lent, LORD, please make me a light to the world to show them Your Way. Help me to be prudent and modest, hardworking and cheerful, and helpful. During this Lent help me to sacrifice the things that take me away from You and help me to embrace the things that guide me to You.

Hard times, LORD, hard times. It's been three months between jobs, but still, during this famine of work, You have provided for us heat and shelter, food and water, love and protection. Please let us always turn to You, be the times hard or easy.

Thank you, LORD, for this time tonight. Thank You for Lent, so we are reminded of all Your blessings for us.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

'I' is for Interviews

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Thank You, finally! for the fourth interview at FINRA... two months interviewing for this contract. Thank You for letting the interview flow well. Thank You for a nice meeting with Clayton and with Matt. Thank You for the friendly, easy-going conversations, for their not belaboring check-marks but for them getting down to what was important for them and why.

LORD, please let me start working on this job this week so that I may start getting paid agains so that our family can weather this financial crisis and so that we can return to some stability.

Thank You for the forbearance of my wife during this difficult time. Please reward her with many spiritual and temporal blessings for her keeping the family safe and secure during this crisis.

LORD, please help us to dig our way out of this debt and return to solvency. Please bless me with strength and determination so that I may see through what needs to be done so we can succeed, again, and prosper!

LORD, thank You for the generosity of my Dad with money so that he could keep us afloat over Christmas.  Thank You LORD, for my dad and his good financial sense and hard work.

LORD, thank You for letting me apply myself to getting the taxes done, Fed-wise, please help me to get those forms sent off (done) and also help me to complete my Commonwealth taxes today (done).

LORD, thank You for the kindness and generosity of acquaintances.

Please, LORD, help us. Heal this broken world. We are all trying so hard, yet we in such dire straights. The World is not working without You in it. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done.

I ask all these things in the name of Jesus, the Christ.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

'D' is for Dreams


Dream 1:

So, I was lost in a large garden and I had a heart-shaped candy, it was very big and when I bit into it the outside was hard candy but the inside was sweet and smooth and creamy and fruity, and I kept looking for you, Mama, but I couldn't find you and I had to do my lessons.

Dream 2:

So, I was holding an egg, and the inside was filled with custard but I only got a little bit of it.

me: what was its color? was it speckled?
EM: Why does that matter?
Mama: What do you remember from your dream?
EM: It was a plain, white egg.

me: how big was it?
EM: It was as big as me (and she demonstrated by rolling up into a fœtal position)

Li'l Iz:

I had a dream, too! I dreamt that Até and I were in a large building, and Até went off to play manhunt with her friends, but then Mama said we had to go and for me to go get Até, but I couldn't find her, even after I looked and look, and I told Mama that. Mama said Até left me everything in her will, so I said 'Yay!' but I was sad, too, because I liked playing with Até.

EM: Hey!


I had a dream, once, twenty years, thirty years ago. I dreamed I was the Silver Surfer, and I was on the waters far, far in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and I was surfing across the waves on a sailboard. The wind was incredibly strong: it knocked the tops of the waves off, capping them, and the spray splashed me and my board, staining it with salt. It was very cold, the sky was gray with clouds, there was no sun, and the ocean was so cold the water was black, but I was not cold, inside. I was alone: it was just me with the wind and the water and the horizon that extended into Eternity, and that was enough.

'Z' is for zeal

"Spirit lead me when my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me"

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Today I am in Oceans deep, as I am, every day. Help me to recognize, always, that I am in oceans deep, and that I need Your Love, every day, to make it through the day, firstly, but then be, like You, a Light to the World and to be the salt of the Earth. Let me not hide under a bushel, but place me on Calvary's pedestal, so that I may shine, shine, shine and light Your whole house, and light the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let me not lose this taste for the life You have created but instead flavor it so that others, on their ways (their ways, little, or on the Way of the Cross), may not stumble, fall, and lose heart, but may instead get up, again, and help each other.

LORD, so many have lost heart today, have lost hope during these hard, hopeless times. Let me not lose heart, nor hope. Let me burn with Your Love, let me be on fire with it, so that others may see me filled with Your Spirit, ablaze with Your Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity, and, thus inspired, may I do corporal good works to show Your Love.

I ask all this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

'E' is for Ecclesiastes, meditation on God's Gifts

For today's meditation (and, for me, most day's meditations) we turn to Ecclesiastes, specifically, chapter 4:

ח  יֵשׁ אֶחָד וְאֵין שֵׁנִי גַּם בֵּן וָאָח אֵין-לוֹ, וְאֵין קֵץ לְכָל-עֲמָלוֹ--גַּם-עיניו (עֵינוֹ), לֹא-תִשְׂבַּע עֹשֶׁר; וּלְמִי אֲנִי עָמֵל, וּמְחַסֵּר אֶת-נַפְשִׁי מִטּוֹבָה--גַּם-זֶה הֶבֶל וְעִנְיַן רָע, הוּא.

For those of you not Hebrewaically-inclined:

8 There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches: 'for whom then do I labour, and bereave my soul of pleasure?' This also is vanity, yea, it is a grievous business.

Then, again, so soon after in verse 11:

יא  גַּם אִם-יִשְׁכְּבוּ שְׁנַיִם, וְחַם לָהֶם; וּלְאֶחָד, אֵיךְ יֵחָם.

or again:

11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone?

(Hebrew and the translation provided by the site)

What does this tell us?

One is the loneliest number. God, Himself, alone, is One ("Here, o Israel, the LORD is One!"), but He, being One, is Three Persons, for the very, very first thing He did was spake (or 'did speak' or 'spoke,' as in: "30 spokes share a wheel's hub" ... or ... not), and the very act of speaking, mysteriously, was Himself, too. His Word was Him, and He is His Word.

For God, there is no separation between what He says and who He is.1

The Second Person of God: the Word.

But, again, at the very, very same time, there was the Communion between Himself, the Speaker/Creator, and Himself, the Word, and this Communion was His Progression (?), His Precession (?) ... I actually don't know what to call Him, the Third Person, so we call Him the Holy Spirit, as if the other Two Persons of God weren't fully Holy and Spirit. They are, and even moreso (?) in the Second Person who has two natures: divine and human.

But, He, the Third Person, is that Communion between Speaker and the Word, between the Father and the Son. He is Love, and He is the Holy Spirit, and every second of every day He sustains us, for without Him in us (the Spirit) we are not even dust, we are nothing and obliviated, annihilated.

God can destroy what He creates, St. Thomas proves that in the Summa Theologica, it's just that He chooses never to do that. Satan, Lucifer, chose to leave God in the beginning, but God never left him. God even loves Satan, the trickster and tester, for if God removed His Love from Satan, even Satan, the most powerful of all angels, then Satan would be reduced to nothingness, nonexistence.

There is no 'opposite' to God. The Devil has no power, except the power God gives him.

Just ask Pontius Pilate that. He got that word first hand, and he heard God's word, that's one of the reasons he ran from the very simple decision to punish this insurrectionist. He knew the score: he was playing with fire.

One of the very, very few people who ever did.

Okay, so God is complete unto Himself, and in that completeness, chooses not to be alone. He's fine with being all in all, and all alone, we cannot add to God nor comprehend Him, but he just chooses not to go that way. There's not 'more' that He needs to add (like the creation, itself) for Him to be complete or to be happy.

But He knows that happiness is not in loneliness.


— ee cummings, 95 poems

And we are the created in the image and likeness of God. He has (is, actually) the Holy Spirit, and we have the spirit within us, the Holy Spirit, indwelling, and our own souls.

Be He is One, and we are several, plural, and diverse.

And so, we cannot rest until we rest in Him, but Who Can Know God?

And so, we know, and we love, in each other, and our happiness is made manifest in each other. In a small perfection when we love and are loved (just as God loves and is adored), and in the fullness of it when we see God in the face of each other, and love each other as God intended for us to love: perfectly.

We are made perfect in God's love when we love perfectly.

That will never, ever happen for most of us (Jesus and Mary the perfect counterexamples of when it actually does work), but Ecclesiastes shows us that even in this imperfect life in this imperfect world where we are but dust, two are much better than one. Being just one is terrible: no man is an island, and in two our faults are exposed (to ridicule, yes, and to correction) and our strengths are treasured, admired, respected, and loved.

Our friend, Qoheleth, also knew the score, better than most ever did or ever will: the dead are better off than the living, for they don't need to suffer this foolishness of life, but even better is the person who was never even born, for they never even have to see any of this vanity, this chasing after the wind.

And if you think that's crazy, you're right.

Except for the little fact that Jesus echoed Qoheleth's words, word for word, as he described the coming end.

But we, the foolish ones, are here, are not dead, and are born and are living, and so, what, then, do we do? How, then, are we to live?

The greatest commandment: love God, and love each other.

The greatest thing you'll ever know is to love and to be loved in return.

So, while we are here, my beloved ones, love one another.

1 The whole 'being your word' thing. There's a lesson in that for some people, like everybody, which Ecclesiastes also points out: guard thy tongue, and do not take an oath, for God is in Heaven, and He suffers not fools. And: it is better to do than to swear to do it. You know: the whole 'two ears, one mouth' thing. Or in Jersey-Eyetalian: "Shaddup you face!"

Yeah, that.

'P' is for Prayer

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Thank You for the time You've given me, so that I can write, and touch hearts. Thank You for giving me a phone-screen interview today. Please help it lead to paying workso that I can pay the bills this month and through the rest of my family's life.  Thank You for the love of my wife and children. Please guide and protect those in need of Your Love and strength.

I ask all these in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rising 2014 Customer Service Store: Harris Teeter

Okay, I'm going to show you a couple of pictures here. Harris Teeter Lincolnia had Dasani water on sale, 24 pack for $4.99 or about half off, but:

That's right, there was no Dasani water. And, last night, they had their store-branded organic plain yogurt on sale, two for $6, but again:

Yep, no yogurt.

So, today, in the store, I was like, "Okay, joke's over." Was this a new store policy? "Oh, we have stuff on sale, geophf, but you can't buy it! HA!"

So I went up to the cashier, a nice lady, and explained my frustration, and she said, "Ooh, go to customer service, they'll either get it for you if we have it in stock in back or they'll give you a rain check if we don't."

I did not know that. I walked away from that conversation a whole lot less frustrated.

So, I did go to customer service, and the young man there looked in the aisles and confirmed that, yes, they were not in stock. "I'll write you rain checks for them."

"Okay," I said.

But the manager, Kelly, walked up during all this, and it wasn't okay for her.  She said, "Ooh, the Dasani doesn't come until Thursday, do you want Deer Park or Aquafina?"

No, I don't. I don't like their waters. I like Dasani.

I'm picky, you see.

But she was fine with that, too. "How about these six packs instead, you could get four of those."

The problem with that was the the six packs were $4.99 each! Which would be four times as much as the sale.

But Kelly said, "No, I'll substitute them for the sale. Just tell the cashier that Kelly said this is the substitute for the 24-pack sale and all four packs come to a total of $4.99."

Okay, four packs for the price of one? I was absolutely thrilled with that.

But, in for a penny, in for a pound, yes? The Aladdin effect and all that.

Don't worry, y'all: geophf reads management-speak books, just hang in there for my happy ending.

I said, "What about the yogurt?"

Kelly said, "Well, we don't get that until Thursday, too, but would you be willing to take Dannon?"

Dannon? Ick. I said, "Um, no, I was talking about your organic plain yogurt, would you substitute Stoney Field?" I asked this hopefully.

Guess what Kelly said? "Oh, the organic yogurt? Sure, we can do that."

So, guess what? I got the Stoney Field plain organic yogurt, at $4 per quart originally at the sale price of the store-branded organic yogurt, and even got a discount off that for my time and trouble: two quart containers for all of $4.

Was I happy about this? You bet. Actually: I like the Harris Teeter store brand of their organic yogurt more than most other organic yogurts out there, it's really well blended and less OhMyGoshThisYogurtIsTooSWEET! that other organic yogurts suffer from. My preference was Harris Teeter organic yogurt, but my pleasure was getting (very good) organic yogurt when the supply just wasn't there.

And I have been without #skyr for too, too many days already.


I told Kelly I tweeted my troubles last night and @HarrisTeeter often responds to my tweets.

"Yes," she said, "Harris Teeter is very customer-focused."

I have to agree. I'll go further: I have never received such good customer-focused service from a store, unless I have (and I have) stood in the middle of the noosphere and screamed my head off about customer neglect from other vendors, treating me with contempt, rather than with respect.

But that was another set of entries, not this one. This entry is about the respect I received from Harris Teeter today. This one, I told Kelly, "I'm going to mention you by name: you help has been simply incredible."

She was shy about that, saying: "Oh, you don't have to do that!"

But I did. The manager, Kelly (I know her last name, I'm just internet-protecting it, you know), at the Lincolnia Harris Teeter took initiative, and didn't just settle for Harris Teeter (good) policy of giving a rain check on a sale, she made sure her customer left her store not only happy, but amazed, and not only amazed, but simply floored at the way she, and, by extension: Harris Teeter, treat their customers: with respect, seeing they got what they came for, and were happy about it.

Kelly: thank you. Harris Teeter, thank you.

My nomination for rising 2014 Customer Service Store? Harris Teeter. They turned a doubly-frustrating experience, two days in a row, into one where I left the store an amazed evangelist.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thanksgiving during job hunt

Dear LORD,

Thank You for today. Exciting day, what? with the interview with the test manager at FINRA and then the email from the manager at ICF. When Your blessings come, they come like rain, don't they? LORD, please keep raining Your blessings down on us like rain in the desert: a torrent of blessings for us, your beloved children.  Thank You, too, that while answering the prayers for the things I want and need, You also answer the things I want and need and don't ask for, things like heat in the house and food on the table and the love given and received in my family, Christmas gifts for the children from their Mama and from friends, neighbors and relatives, Atrium, swim team for the girls and dietbet [two words unreadable]. Thank You for this special quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of work that I can reflect and grow, and thank You for the hustle and bust of work, where I can be an example of Your charity and be amazed when I see You in others, in the littlest things people do for each other. When I gave Shantanu my Rosary bead from my broken Rosary, he received it with delight and wonder.  It was the simplest, silliest thing I did, but he reverenced it: he knew You are important to me, and he accepted my token with reverence. Please, let this be the seed where he finds true happiness in You.

LORD, I thank You that so many of my coworkers have found work again, and right away after being let go over Christmas. Please be with them and bless them in their work so that they may meet their obligations and be happy and fulfilled in their daily labors.

I ask you this through Jesus, the Christ.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

Dear LORD,


So many people still awake, celebrating the New Year. Except me, who woke up late to come here. Whoopsie! Sorry, LORD, and Jack!

May You bless Your people with many blessings this year as we await the return of Your Son, particularly those in need. May those hungry find food at the table. May those tired find rest and repose in You. May those who need shelter and clothing find a home with fresh, clean clothes to keep them safe and warm. May those without an occupation find work. May those in need of Love find You.

LORD, thank You for the blessings of this past year. Thank You for my fourth straight year of work (wow!), thank You for the creative spark to write and the drive to keep at it. Thank You for the blessing of my family: my dear, devoted wife, and my cute and cuddly kids.

Please help me get back to paying work and help our family return to sound financial standing, and from that secure position, help us to prosper financially and in Your Grace.

I ask all this in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.