Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 08- The Christmas Pictures

Apparently there is some limit to how many photos can go on a single post- so here are the Christmas proper pictures.

Christmas 08

This holiday season was filled with lots of activity. We spend a long weekend at a cabin in the Sierras. We then traversed the state of California to be with Amy's parents in Lancaster. It was definitely a good Christmas with family, gifts and memories. Below are some pictures from the cabin and from Christmas. Some of the most excitement came as we were leaving the cabin. ON the I80 freeway we encountered whiteout conditions, with heavy snowfall and winds blowing up to 40mph. It took us hours to go a few miles. While it was a little hair raising it was also defintely a heap of fun for the driver! Scott's parents left the following day, on the same route and encountered nothing but clear skies and plowed roads! God knows how to give what is best to each family in time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A medly of photos

Nothing to write just some family pictures for your enjoyment.

Ho, Ho, oh ouch get off me, merry stampeding!

Wow, I understand the thrill of a great deal. Face to face bartering and trading have been the platform for buying and selling for millennia. I don't mind getting a little heated or doing a little extra homework to get the best deal possible. But man oh man Black Friday is another experience. Consider thousands of cash strap, visa maxed consumers stirred to a frothy frenzy by days and days of circulars, advertisments and TV commercials. Add the desperation to pull off one more 'ideal' Christmas before master card says no more and you have entered the Black Friday zone. Adults become lower than children, greed replaces any vesitage of common love for fellow man, men women and children are litterally trampled, some to the point of death. All to the muzac soundtrack of "have a holly jolly christmas.... it's the best time of the year...." At least this day shows us what we spend the rest of the year trying to hide, our true humanity as expressed through the greed, lust and avarice of the human heart. There will be a little additional irony this Christmas season as I sing "God bless the merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay...." as at least one family will be burying a loved one before the new year.

Am I cynical and cool toward the whole holiday thing? Yes, when it comes to what it has been made into esspecially this year. Do I love the holiday seeason also? YES! Time with family, tradition, good food and friends make it all worth while. And these things cannot be purchased at Walmart or discounted at Sears. The problem many face is there is nothing more to the holiday than the deal and the discount because for many the things that matter, relationships with friends and family are missing or non existent. Your call to action this Christmas is to invite the coworker, neighbor or friend into the blessings that only can be expereience through human relationships blessed by the grace of God. This is a true gift that makes all the rest of this silly sinful nonsense seem like dung in comparison.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bad Timing

Our washing machine broke last Monday. So, today marks the 9th day without the use of a device that is used on a near-daily basis in this household (but who's counting?).

Okay, does anyone remember the assignment in grade school where you had to make a story using the 'fortunately/unfortunately' outline? Here we go...

Fortunately, because it is less than 1 year old, our washing machine is still under warranty.
Unfortunately, because it is under warranty, it has to be serviced by specific repairmen.
Fortunately, the appointment has already been made.
Unfortunately, the soonest they can get here is December 2.

Did I forget to mention that Noah had the stomach flu for 7 days last week (he got sick the day the washing machine broke)....AND....oh yeah, we have a potty training toddler in the house?

That's what I call....bad timing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Small Observation that Led to an Interesting Discovery

Balboa park is a favorite place for our family. Most of the parking on the dirt shoulder of the only road that runs through the park. You parallel park here. These pictures were taken from our car while effecting a perfect parallel parking maneuver.

Yes, it does appear to be nothing more than just another classic valley jalopy.

On closer inspection what is this we see growing so greenly in the back window? Is that a verdant field of green grass? My oh my! That's what it is! I guess in the concrete strewn San Fernando valley the desperate desire to have a patch of green grass for ones self has driven this driver to plant his own yard in the back of his car.

Dog Blog

Today marks the first day in over 28 years that the Bird family has been dog-less. Today the beloved family dog, named "Dog" was put to sleep as age took a greater and greater toll on her health. Its funny that we had a dog for so long but never learned where she came from. One of my Dad's employees brought a puppy into the office one day and left it on my dad's desk. She found it in a box filled with a litter of abandoned puppies. Dad brought the puppy home but warned me that we were not going to keep it so I was not to get attached to it. Instead of naming the puppy, we simply called her 'Dog'. After a couple of weeks deciding what to do with the dog, we had to leave her at home while my dad and I traveled on a week long fishing trip.

When we returned home we were greeted at the front door by a bounding little puppy and a floor littered with shreds of foam padding. When my dad walked into the living room, there sat his favored leather recliner minus all the leather. While we were away the teething puppy found satisfaction for itchy gums by chewing all the leather off of the recliner! After raising her personal value by consuming $500 worth of leather, my dad could no longer simply give her away. Thus dog gained permanent status in our family.

For more than 13 years Dog was a confused 50 lbs lap dog, beloved by children and one of the best beasts a boy could have grown up with. She was dedicated backyard cat chaser, early warning detection system betraying boys sneaking back home after blowing through curfew and our version of a green, low-energy alternative to the power hungry vacuum cleaner. There was never a green tennis ball that could escape her jaws or an empty bowl of ice cream that couldn't be licked back to shinning cleanliness. She even served to screen potential girlfriends by wriggling herself between my dream dates and me.

First here eyes began to be clouded then her hearing went. A fatty tumor developed on her breast as her once fine short hair was replaced by dull bristly hair. She began to stink like old dog and grunt and groan with every movement. Finally one hip gave out leaving a leg shakily supporting her body. I guess this is what happens to a a dog at the end of thousands of miles of walks and years worth of afternoon napping.

It's silly sentimentalism but there are things in God's creation that we can become quite attached too .

Monday, November 10, 2008

Customer Service

We do not fancy ourselves consumer advocates but this even way just blog worthy by all standards. We get our wireless service through AT&T. For $29.99 a month we get basic service which means on a good night we can watch an episode of the office without too many pauses. Well things being what they are right now we pay our bills on time but tend to wait toward the end of the billing cycle. Lets just say bill A was due on hmmm Friday. So Amy calls and waits on hold for 30 mins before hanging up. We call again on Saturday, same thing. Normally we would pay on line but for some inexplicable reason the message "we are currently NOT accepting payments via the website for your billing zip code." So again on Monday Amy tries but after who knows how long, she Skypes me to vent some frustration. Since may day was filled with menial brain numbing stuff I figured at least this would add some excitement.

I dialed the number at 10am. The follows as I copied the Skype chat I had with Amy during this time:

Scott Bird
11:15 AM
I've now been on hold for over an hour
The Birds
11:16 AM
What the?!#%*@%#
Scott Bird
11:16 AM
I know %(*&^#%&%
The Birds
11:16 AM
I tried finding a place to contact them for feedback online. They are virtually impossible to reach.
11:16 AM

They give a whole crap about customer service, eh?
Scott Bird
11:19 AM
I'm going to stay on the phone while I leave for a lunch meeting matt will make payment if they pick up. If not I'll be back in an hour and a half.
2:44 PM

Back from lunch and two meetings. Still waiting.....
2:44 PM

2:44 PM

2:53 PM

whoa I got through to be told "We've been in business for 100 years apparently we are doing something right" And then was put on hold again.
The Birds
3:00 PM

If you didn't catch that I put my phone on speaker and let it sit there from 10am till 3pm. That's 5 hours. I literally had lunch and then two meetings to come back and find that my call still had not been answered.

Now the part you really are reading all this for. WHEN my call was put through to a live person I explained this whole thing to her only to be told that if I wanted to pay through the phone I would be charged a $5 dollar service fee AND be charged a $20 late fee. LATE!!!! We tried for 6 hours over three days to make payment! I was no longer my normal cool self. Just to make sure the operator understood what I had just been through I explained the situation again. Her response "well, sir, AT&T has been in business for 100 years, apparently we are doing something right!"

I was able to be put through to a manger who told me she was sorry for my ordeal and offered to waive the late fees and service fee. Great! I paid my debt and was on my way- to look for a new service provider.

Technology IS great 99% of the time but I feel as though we have crossed some sort of digital divide where we can slip into the mindset that disgruntled customers are to be dealt with in no more or less a way that we do with any other technological problem- with disgust, apathy and baseless frustration. I guess what I want to remind everyone is that a simple acknowledgement of another persons experience followed by nothing less than some modicum of honesty when the words "I'm sorry" are spoken, is still the right and necessary thing.

My message to AT&T? After 100 years of business you might start to think you could never fail and it could be argued you have good reason. I would remind you that the Titanic was never supposed to sink either.

Well that was cathartic I feel....better!

Friday, November 07, 2008

No Posting Slacker Notice

Ok. I get the message. So in a concerted effort to jump start the postings on this blog I will offer some family picture posts, current events posts and a book review. After all that you should be busy reading for a while and I'll take another break! What a total slacker I am. I might be excused some if I explained that I'm also working on memorizing themes, outlines, key chapters, key passages and peolpe of every biblical book.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts on the Election

A black man as the President of the United States. Wow! Now joy and elation on one side and fear and suspicion on the other. I am always and advocate of the third way. The third way I define as the Christian way of looking at things. Rather than joy or fear I argue for hope and faith. Let me explain....

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Kings and rulers come and go but God's throne will never be abdicated or vacated by term limits of voter disapproval. Furthermore, while we vote because we have a civic responsibility to do so the election came down to only one vote. The bible clearly teaches that God raises up leaders and brings down rulers. It is clear now that Obama is God's man for this day and for His purposes. Obama is president because and only because God permitted it.

What ought our response be? Steadfastness. Wake up tomorrow, do what is at hand and continue as you always have. Pray for your new president and his administration and beg God to be merciful to us and our nation for we truly are a people of unclean lips. I argue that optimism ought to mark our Christianity and we must always remember that none is evil wholly except Satan and none is totally good except God. So my forecast for the political future of the nation? More corrupt human worldviews and ideologies devoid of the wisdom of God. What is my desire for the church? Bolder witness and stronger faith, more compassionate love and tender mercies. Jesus in all we do and say must identify us and our response no matter who wins or loses. Our response must be steadfastness in God and his Word.