Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Drunk Christmas Tree

Go home Christmas tree, you’re drunk

image

Santa Clarita Valley isn’t exactly the location you’d expect to find a great boutique shop with a broad variety of gift ideas for any occasion. I grew up here, and this (Awesome)town grew on the back of large retail chains. Sure, 20 years ago Howard & Phil’s was a staple of the Canyon Country (Cowboy) side of Santa Clarita, but it’s been more than 10 years since they’ve closed their doors. Buck McKeon is still a staple of the US Congress district out there, but the days of small and/or specialty retail shops are long gone from Santa Clarita. To be fair, there are still plenty of mom and pop shops in the area, but most of them are restaurants.

Now, I’ll admit that the Westfield Mall out there (the Valencia Town Center) is impressive. The new outdoor (The Patio) shops have some good selection, especially if you have kids! The Wokano there is larger than most of the other Wokanos I’ve seen, but the Dink’s NY Deli Diner is perhaps my favorite spot on The Patio. It really is a good representation of a piece of New York, and I *LOVE* New York!

In need of some last minute shopping, I stopped by the Mall of Awesometown. I figured with as many shops as there are at this mall I was sure to find something for the two people I still needed to get gifts for this Christmas. After a solid hour-and-a-half of walking around the mall and through dozens of shops, I was still empty-handed… Time for the Northridge Fashion Center… Oh, it’s just the Northridge Mall now (I’m getting old!)

I had parked my car in the parking structure off Magic Mountain Parkway because I figured I’d checkout some of the outdoor shops on my way into the mall. I hadn’t seen anything on the way to the mall, so I wasn’t really paying to much attention to the shops on the way back to my car.

It was almost like a scene in a movie. The temperature had been dropping all night. I had been walking around for more than an hour, and my body temperature was on the rise. You could see my breath. My nose was getting cold and red. My ears were starting to chill. When what to my surprise… I see this little shop La Via Bella. Was it blurry vision from the cold weather (it’s Southern California, so it couldn’t be that cold)? I figured I need to check it out, since there was definitely nothing worth gifting from the Brookstone just on the other side of the street.

I walked in, and it was an instant relief from large chain retail shopping. The store is decorated with items that it sells, and they aren’t clustered together by similar looks and colors. It is decorated in a way that you can look at a setting and thing, “Hey, I’d like my entryway to look like that!” or “I think that would go great in my nook as well!”

To top it off, the store is run by two wonderful women who are more than happy to help you or just allow you to browse around. They both provided excellent gift suggestions and were very pleasant to work with. I’ll be sure to be back to La Via Bella in the near future for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and next Christmas as well! This was a pleasant find amongst the mountain of chain retail stores in the Valencia Town Center.

Yes, I did walk out of the store with gifts for the two people I was shopping for as well as a piece of decor for my own home! 🙂

Packet8 phones in my home office! Alright! This weekend, I purchase two Packet8 phones from Office Depot. These systems looked great. I could simply set them up and use my phone service anywhere I took my digital phone adapter (or virtual office adapter as they call it). They have a virtual auto attendant, extensions… You name it, Packet8 has it.

I had talked with a rep at their company just a few days beforehand. She was very convincing. Sounded like a great product. AND they had a special running at Office Depot! I checked out the closest Office Depot to me, but they were all sold out. So, I hoped online and found the next closest location. “Call in advance when you are going to drive 20 mile for something,” my mom would always say.

They had it! I was excited! I was going to get one of the most state of the art small business office voip systems on the face of the planet: Packet8! Who’s rockin’ the small business world now!?! I trek out to the Office Depot and trek all the way back. I was practically salivating! These Packet8 phones look so cool. The virtual office concept makes remote business operations a reality. I can just picture myself in Hawaii, running my business on the beach while I’m using my Packet8 phone.

I pull out the phone, the cords, the cables, the phone adapter… It was like Christmas in March. I pull out the activation instructions. No way! It can’t be this easy. Just visit http://activate.packet8.net and type in the MAC address on the phone adapter unit. Then follow the instructions? Are you guys serious? I love the Internet. The world just got so much easier… Or did it???

When I went to activate the systems via the instructions in the box, I received an error:

Packet8 Small Business VOIP

I call up their tech support and the guy initially has no idea what I’m talking about. Apparently, Packet8 hasn’t been selling a whole lot of systems through retail chains like Office Depot. Maybe this is why! The Packet8 voip systems don’t work.

I’m a fair man though. I’ll give them a chance. I’ll let them sort through the issues and call me back on Monday. Their technical support traces back the units to… NOWHERE! They don’t have either unit in their system. Yes, you followed the story correctly. They sold me not 1 but *2* Packet8 Virtual Office units that were “not in their system”.

Then they told me that I could always return the items to Office Depot and purchase the units directly from them. So, make some money selling junk to Office Depot on wholesale, get me salivating over the phones, and then pull as fast one and get me to purchase directly from Packet8? I think not.

Hello! Office Depot? I have two pieces of junk I purchased from your other store very far away and don’t want to drive another 20 miles to return. Can I return that garbage voip system to you? Yes, I do have the receipt. Excellent! I’ll return these Packet8 junk piles right after I finish posting on WordPress!

When I was a kid, my grandparents would always send me and the rest of my family members checks for Christmas (as well as some presents like underwear and socks). There are eight kids total in my family, making a $20 check/child a considerable investment on their part. They were grandparents… retired. Their monthly income consisted of a pension plan and social security. But a $160/year investment into their grandchildren’s futures was well worth it. Also, $160 was about equal to $500 in today’s money.

Interestingly enough that is about the same amount of money that the Federal government is going to be sending 130,000,000 people in less than two months. Each check from my grandparents was enclosed in a card that said something along the lines of “Don’t spend it all in one place.” Just a thought for those Federal checks.

You don’t realize it yet, but in the next 3 minutes you’re going to learn why God has not been answering your prayers. Before I get to that, I’m going to share with you an experience that I’ve had several times in the past and, most recently, this morning. My confession is that this is something that I have done myself. What I’m about to share is something that we have all done at some point in our life and then pondered why the outcome is so different than how we thought God had intended it. So what is the secret to God answering our prayers?

A good friend of mine was sharing about her experience with failing a test necessary to received her teaching credential. She had taken the test last year and failed. She was devastated, but she picked up her chin and started studying again to take the test this year. She spent hours studying and doing what she felt was needed to ensure that she passed the test. Then she began telling me about her conversations with her higher power, God, regarding her journey.

She had made several requests to God that if he did not want her to pursue this goal of hers, he should make sure that certain milestones were not met (such as receiving scholarships, early rescheduling, etc.) Yet, everything fell into place. My friend was clear that God intended her to take *and* pass the test this second time around. She was riding high in faith that she would pass the test. I remember her talking about how positive she was trying to be about the test. She was trying not to think about the last test. She had asked God for guidance, and it was clear to her that he intended her to pass. She failed the test earlier this week.

Almost everyone has heard of this happening to someone. Or maybe you have experienced this for yourself. You called upon God to give you guidance, and he has given you a path that is as clear as the hand in front of your face. To my friend, God has shown her exactly what she was supposed to do by supporting her pursuit of her teaching credential exactly as she knew it should happen. Now, she was upset with God for having not protected her interests. After all, she had made the requests of God, and he had put everything in place for her. I’d venture to guess that you’ve had this experience yourself.

So, why is it that God can appear to answer our prayers one day and not answer them the next? I know that some of us have it that it is all part of God testing us. However, that God is testing our faith by baiting us with cheese of our wants being fulfilled, only to take the cheese away at the last minute is a bit obscene. Bait & switch, deceit, and lies are very human type games. What is more likely than God playing some faith testing game with us is that we have fooled ourselves into believing that our wants and pursuits are supported by God at all. We do this by making demands on God like my friend, “God, if you really don’t want me to pursue this then you should not allow me to receive the scholarships I need.”

Many of us have it that we are so important that God is listening and reacting to every request and demand we make of him in the exact way that we want him to. There are a lot of assumptions we are making about our conversations with God:

  1. He’s actually listening
  2. He takes action in response to our requests
  3. He responds and alters the universe in a way that makes sense to us

Don’t be offended by any of these three assumptions. I’m not suggesting that God does not listen to us. I’m also not suggesting that God doesn’t take any action in response to our requests. I personally believe in a higher power that is always listening and responding to everything that everyone thinks, says, or does. So where does that leave us with the final assumption? The one that God responds and alters the universe in a way that makes sense to us.

As this blog rolls to an end, I invite you to consider that the answer
to the question at hand lies in the realm of responsibility. We project onto God that which we believe to be what he is “revealing to us”. Take a moment to soak this up. Put another way, we see the actions unfolding in our life as God’s response to the requests we are making of him. Like my
friend has experienced, God will not make you pass or fail in life. So, then, why do we make God responsible for the outcomes we experience in life? Stay tuned to my blog for more.

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

‘Tis the season for some news about Christianity. I was reading an article on CNN about the son of Jim Bakker (remember that swindler?)

I saw an ad on the side of the page with the headline: Davidic Christianity Christian Polygamy. The text ad read: Davidic Christianity seeks to fulfill the prophecy of Amos 9: 11-12 by… Perhaps it was my red-blooded American curiosity that got me clicking. I mean, David was hooking it up.

Now, typically, I don’t blog, bulletin, or otherwise comment on material that I don’t want to promote. After all, all press is good press. On top of this, I suspect that the folks at House of David Ministries paid good money for their ad on CNN. I’m now giving them additional value for their spend on CNN. But the message they are trying to convey is of great importance.

The folks at House of David Ministries claim that they are trying to convey a message of God. Please, by all means, read the article they have crafted about Biblical Marriage. This is slick idea! Hell, if God supports polygamy, I’m all for it. Any man stupid enough to try to take on fulfilling the needs of more than one woman deserves what he’s going to get. Then again, the “Biblical” concept of marriage is the transfer of ownership of the bride from her father to her husband. So, I suppose that there’s not a whole lot of focus on fulfilling any of her needs when it comes to “Biblical” marriage.

My personal favorite is the Conclusions section. Honestly, this is a rather well written article. Yes, it is filled with authentic Biblical gibberish. Yes, it is entirely too long for anyone in their right mind to read in a single sitting. In fact, I encourage you to read it over several bathroom visits. There are plenty of Bible quotes that truly prove that either (1) polygamy is established through the word of God to be not just acceptable but honorable *OR* (2) parts of the Bible can be used to support any idea someone can come up with.

Read Conclusion #8. The first 8, please, not the second. At the time I wrote this, there were two 8’s. Will the House of David Ministries change it by the time you read this? I’m not sure. I suppose it depends on how many people waste their time reading my blogs 😀

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Researchers at Wageningen University have determined that the excessive tapping of Boswellia trees was endangering the ability of the trees to produce this classic holiday scent. It’s clear what the problem is and what the solution should be. We need fewer Christians. I believe that in an effort to also help solve the diminishing lion population, we should also bring back the Ancient Roman practice of feeding the Christians to the lions. Ok, I kid about the Christian/lions thing, but I don’t kid about the Boswellia trees. Let’s celebrate baby Jesus a little more environmentally responsibly. Frankincense trees overexploited for Christmas scent | Science Blog

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogged with Flock