Jaime

Jaime in dressMy Facebook friends know that I have been with Jaime for about a year and a half now. I first met her in November 2002. It was my first day at a new job as a supervisor in a call center. I sat down at my new desk, looked over to my left, and saw this pretty woman sitting a few feet away from me taking phone calls.

I immediately noticed was how magnetic she was. Her laughter was infectious. She held the attention of everyone around her, and they all wanted to be her friend. The guys hit on her, so did the women. She talked to everyone like they were friends. She had the ability to make people feel good about themselves.

It turned out, I was her supervisor.  I discovered that her charisma worked over the phone too. I don’t remember ever having to take an escalated call from her. She would have angry callers laughing by the time they got off the phone.

She quickly became my favorite employee, and I loved working with her for the next couple of years. It was a good day when she was working and a bit dreary when she wasn’t.  I could tell she had that effect on others too.  She is the kind of person whose phone will not stop ringing. There was not a day she didn’t get invited to go out. People want to be around her.

There were a couple of people who didn’t seem to like her. I figured out the dislike stemmed from jealousy. They wanted to be around her more, but felt rejected when she simply could not give that much attention to everyone who wanted it.

There was a noticeable difference in the office on her days off. The atmosphere was more serious – and boring.  She brought a cheerful feeling to the office that was missed when she wasn’t there. It was never the same after she left that job.  

We kept in touch a little after she left. Every once in a while there would be a Christmas card or an email, sometimes a “like” on a Facebook post. She saw me posting pictures of my daughter. I knew she had a partner, then a son, but there would be years we didn’t talk at all. 

Then my life fell apart. I was miserable, thought that being treated poorly was normal, and realized I didn’t have any confidence and didn’t feel any sense of self-worth.

At that low point I was lucky enough to reconnect with Jaime. She was as magnetic as ever. Just talking to her made the day better. I knew this is the woman I wanted to be with.

She says she is at her lowest weight since high school and that she is the prettiest she has ever been. When we are in public. I see heads turn as she passes, but her appearance now, as pretty as she is, isn’t what make her beautiful. She was pretty when I met her. Heads always turned when she was around. What makes her beautiful is that rare intangible quality that draws people in – her charisma, that magnetism. I saw it the first day I met her. She is innately attractive.

Now, I get to watch her create things. She sings, she draws, she sculpts little characters, and makes things.  We laugh together. We encourage each other. She showed me that I have reason to be confident. I feel good about myself again, and everyday I try to make her feel the same about herself.

Thank you Jaime. I am happy again.

2014 Predictions

My 2013 predictions were more off than usual. And I missed this biggest event of all, the death of Sylvia Browne. But as usual, a bad year won’t stop any charlatan from making more predictions. So here is what we have to look forward to in 2014.

1. Syliva Browne will not make a single incorrect prediction in 2014.
2. Miley Cyrus will become a Muslim and don a burqa in her twerking act.
3. As a result, “Burqing” will be the new buzzword of 2014.
4. Time Magazine will strip Pope Francis of its 2013 Person of the Year title when an investigation reveals that he is Catholic.
5. Bollywood will be the new black.
6. The next NSA collection bombshell: belly button lint. Yes, they have it and they know what you wore last Thursday.
7. Angry birds will be arrested for assault and sentenced to anger management classes.
8. Archaeologists will discover large buildings filled with lost caches of books right in the middle of cities. They will name these buildings “Libraries”. No one will know what that means.
9. Scientists will continue to argue over whether the climate is warming or cooling. Meanwhile, a group of confused middle-school children in Massachusetts will start a change.org petition to knit a new polar cap.
10. The bizarre trend of retailers renaming Christmas Trees to “Holiday Trees” will continue. Buyers seeking these trees for their Independence Day celebrations will be disappointed when the trees are unavailable during the summer.

A past life

A couple years ago, Jaime came across a stack of old letters, photos, and documents. The papers seemed to have belonged to Isabell (Tuttle) Winchell who lived in Brighton, Colorado. Among the papers is her marriage certificate to Isaac Winchell. The two married on August 30, 1885 in Hamilton County, Nebraska. He was 27, she was 24.

Winchell

Another of the papers was a geneology of Isabell’s side of the family dated in September 1904. Isabell also kept cancelled checks datign back to 1923. Only her name appears on the checks, which makes me think her husband had likely died by that date.

Other letters in the stack include the name Earl Winchell who seems to have been their son. Isabell’s father and brother were also named Earl according to the marriage license and the geneology.

Also among the papers was a short poem written on half a page – unsigned, undated, and written in faded pencil:

“Baby, father, mother, brothers
and sisters four,
Waiting for me, waiting for me,
waiting for me on that ever green shore.”

The last document with Isabell’s name is dated in 1950. I’m guessing her death was around that time. That would make her about 90 years old, having been widowed for roughly 30 years.

Interesting to see a person’s life laid out in front of us like that. I’d wish I could find Isabell and Earl’s descendants to give them this link to their family history.

USPS: model of efficiency

Last Saturday I had to send a package that needed to get there by Monday. Unluckily for me, Monday was Columbus day and the U.S. Post Offices were closed. No deliveries. But the clerk told me I could get a Monday “holiday” delivery by 3:00 pm. I took it. Well, the package didn’t get there.

So yesterday I took the receipt to the post office to get a refund. She went into the back to confirm the package was late. She came back and said she would be glad to give me a refund but I needed the copy of the shipping label. This was strange because she had a receipt with the tracking number, shipping date, and delivery guarantee, but that didn’t matter. She need the shipping label that contained all the same information. Sigh.

Thankfully, I had the shipping label in the car. I went out to the car and came back with the label. Of course there were a couple people in front of me in line by the time I got back. I eventually ended up back with the same clerk. At least I didn’t have to explain the whole story to someone else. The shipping label satisfied her and she started the process for the refund.

This is where it gets funny. She had me fill out a refund form. While I was doing that, the clerk told me that because of the amount of the refund, she had to pay me with a money order. Annoying, but I realized she didn’t make the rules. No use yelling at her for it.

She then used the form I filled out to complete the money order. She had to write my name, address, reason for the money order, and then run it through a printer to fill in the amount.

As she is doing this she tells me, “I can cash this for now you if you would like.”

“Um, OK.”

She apologized, “I know it is crazy, but this is the way we have to do it.”

Then she asked to see my ID to make sure I was the person she just filled out the money order for. Really.

And that is an example of how the USPS has reached its current level of efficiency.

2013 Predictions

So my 2012 predictions were right on the money as usual. For example, Barrack Obama was a one-term president in 2012. He won’t be a two term president until 2013. Admittedly, I was off on a couple of the predictions, but being wrong never stopped anyone from making more.

So, here we go with my predictions for 2013:

1. A scientific consensus will emerge that the main cause of global warming is chihuahua farts. Seriously, the debate is over. One chihuahua carries more global warming gases than an entire herd of cows.

2. After getting 1 billion views on YouTube for his Gangnam Style video, Korean pop sensation Psy will follow up with a Lawrence Welk tribute album. The first single will get 2 billion views on YouTube.

3. I won’t get charged with attempted rape this year (hopefully).

4. I will be charged with being totally awesome.

5. I will date a super model (OK. already done).

6. Hillary Clinton will leave politics and open up a diner in Arkansas featuring a menu of various pork dishes.

7. The boy band One Direction will not release another album after the entire group gets caught up in a Minecraft video game addiction.

8. Apple will be successful in trademarking the letter “I,” requiring all U.S. citizens to begin referring to themselves in the third person.

9. Justin Beiber will escape notice of the paparazzi by registering at the Hilton in Boise under the pseudonym “Jistun Beeper.”

10. The fashion world will be turned upside down with the introduction of the latest fad, turtle waist trousers.

Self sacrifice and heroes

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Last week a man killed 12 people and wounded 58 more in a massacre at a theater in Aurora, CO.

The killer’s actions represent the worst of the human condition. The sorrow and pain he inflicted on the victims and their families and friends is immeasurable. The wounded survivors will bear lifelong scars. The scars of the families and friends of those who died will also last a lifetime.

But during the shooting when the face of evil was revealed, the best of humanity shown through.

Of the 12 who died, five of the men, Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, John Larimer, Alex Teves, and Jesse Childress lost their lives while protecting women they were with, 4 were girlfriends, one a friend.

Their sacrifices were not in vain. All five women they were protecting survived.

In the face of evil, five men gave their lives for others and showed what true heroism is.

I think I just threw up on my mouth a little

Taco Bell is coming out with a new breakfast drink, Mountain Dew A.M., made up of Mountain Dew and orange juice.

My favorite drink was Mountain Dew until I reached my late 20s when I had to stop drinking caffeine. Even animals like it. When I was a teenager, I had a cat that liked Mountain Dew. She would drink it out of my glass if I didn’t keep an eye on her.

The only problems with the Dew, as the Consumerist points out, is that it doesn’t make for a good mixer (much like Kool-Aid, which I found out during unfortunate night of running out of Coke with some Johnny Walker Red left in the bottle. Bad, bad night. Even worse following day).

On the other hand, Mountain Dew fans are hard core. They’ll give anything with Mountain Dew a try. Maybe it works, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

7 Quick Takes Friday (1-13-2012)

1. This has been a hard week for the entire family. My wife’s 91 year-old grandmother has been in the hospital for a week as of today. She has been hovering on death’s door most of the time, but has surprisingly improved over the last day or so and may even be able to go home in the next day or two.

2. One of my favorite internet people is Merlin Mann. At the end of last month, he did a podcast about New Year’s resolutions. If you are they type to make them, this a good one to listen to. The take away: “Keep it small, keep it time-limited, keep it action-oriented.”

3. I’m not the kind to make New Year’s resolutions. I do need to make changes though. I’m working on keeping them small, time-limited, and action-oriented.

4. I finished playing Portal 2 this week. This is how video games should be. It has great characters, a great story that unfolds during the game, humor, and great game play. 5 Stars.

5. It is January 13 and we still have our Christmas decorations out. That is mostly because my wife has spent the majority of the time at the hospital the past week and I’ve been working and taking care of our daughter. Guess what we’ll be doing this weekend?

6. I did get some of the decorations taken off the tree earlier in the week. Bailey was enthusiastic about helping the entire time of taking the bulbs and glass icicles down. She frequently had to check, “Daddy, am I being a helper?” That was the high point of the week.

7. My predictions don’t work out too often if you look at my series of New Year’s posts, but I’m seeing another win for Tebow and the Broncos tomorrow when they face the New England Patriots in their second playoff game.

America hating conservatives, or not.

I was sent this in an email today:

Why do conservatives hate Americans?: Given the Right’s recent lurch toward Ayn Rand-style Objectivism, it seems that an intelligent journalist would put the following facts together:

1. 80% of Americans own only 7% of America’s wealth.

2. The new mainstream in conservatism maintains that the poor are only poor because of laziness and lack of initiative.

It’s not exactly a leap in logic to point out that mainstream conservatism now maintains that 80% of Americans are simply ungrateful, lazy bastards who need tough love to do better.

In that context, trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare makes sense for them. But shouldn’t someone start asking, then, why conservatives have such contempt for the vast majority of Americans, and their work ethic? It’s not a hard question to ask. The politics of it may be controversial, but the logic isn’t.
(source)

The problem with the leap of logic is that both premises are flawed.

1. The statistic that 80% of Americans only control 7% of the wealth is based on studies that exclude much of the wealth of the “80%” including their cars and household items. Even more striking, these studies do not include “non-home wealth” (i.e. home equity) like a UCSC study did.

No wonder the figures looks so out of balance. They exclude the majority of wealth of the middle class, while including a majority of the wealth of the “rich”. The comparisons are apples and oranges, but that is what you do when you want to incite class warfare.

2. Conservatism does not claim that being poor only derives from laziness and lack of initiative. It does suggest that taking initiative and hard work are solutions to poverty, but that is not to say the inverse of those traits are the causes.

No, poverty in America is generally the result of poor personal choices such as dropping out of school, single parenthood, or drug/alcohol abuse. The best ways not to be poor are to avoid those decisions. Most of all get married; there are very few children in poverty who live with both biological parents and married men tend to have higher employment and higher income. Children from intact families are more likely to graduate high school, and less likely to have a teen pregnancy or abuse drugs or alcohol, and not continue a cycle of poverty.

Basically, our economic problems have more societal causes (the decrease of marriage and increase of out-of-wedlock birth) than they do economic causes.

Stuff about me.