Observations

A Christmas Story

There are many memorable moments during the Christmas season. FYI, that season begins around Thanksgiving and continues through New Years (and is the reason why you can start to listen to Christmas music in November and leave lights up till January), but I digress.

This year I had the opportunity to participate in Angel Tree again directly. Angel Tree is a ministry that allows parents in prison to send presents to their kids. Churches often facilitate this ministry by having individuals purchase and deliver the gifts to the kids for the parent in prison.

Some years ago when I was helping to lead the student ministry at Saylorville Church, we participated almost every year. It was amazing to take a bunch of students into homes and hand deliver these gifts. It was a profound experience that never leaves you.
So when the coordinator of the ministry at our church mentioned that she needed someone to deliver some gifts to family near our house, I jumped at the opportunity.

Not knowing the situation I was hesitant to bring our younger children as I didn't want them to be disruptive but I wanted to share the experience with one of my kids. In the end, I ended up taking my nine-year-old son.

The home was only a couple minutes from ours, and we had planned to be there around 5:30 in the evening. You would think I would be familiar with my city, but I missed the entrance to the place and had to turn around. While we were making our way back, I received a text from the mom of the child asking if we were still planning on coming. It was 5:31. 

In that one text, I could see a long line of broken promises this mother has had to explain. Having already told her little boy that he was getting presents, she was nervous about being forgotten yet again. I immediately texted back to let her know that we had just arrived.

As we got out of the van, there was a peaceful silence in the night that only seems to happen around Christmas. While the air was cold, and we could see our breath, the soft glow of twinkling lights around the neighborhood spoke a warm welcome. We walked up to the building, and I handed my son the gifts to carry as I looked for the correct number on the apartment doors.

When we knocked and walked in, an overly excited six-year-old boy greeted us and couldn't wait to show us his tree, his stocking, the stocking for his baby brother and other things he had made.
I made small talk with his mother as he excitedly opened his gifts.
A couple of times I stole a glance at Jace who was taking it all in. There was a look of wonder on his face I'm not sure if I've seen before.

It was all over pretty quickly. I told them about our church, invited them to visit and left a very excited boy playing with his new toys.

As we walked back out to our van to go home, my son took my hand, looked up and said. "That was a lot of fun." I smiled back at him and nodded.

It was already a memorable moment for us both, but when we pulled into the garage, Jace piped up from the back seat and perfectly explained the spirit of Christmas. "Dad, I don't know why but that just made my heart really happy. It felt really good." 

I knew why. It's because giving always feels better than getting. I mentioned that, looked down at him and smiled.

“It makes my heart feel good too buddy."

This was first published on joshbyers.com/blog/2017/12/a-christmas-story

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

My Running Diary of 24

I've never kept a running diary before so I'm jumping into uncharted waters. Sit back and relax and prepare to be catapulted into my weird and odd observations as I watch 24. If you haven't seen it yet - spoilers to follow. No injury can keep Jack down.

Hmmm, anybody think those nukes won't make to the necessary facility???

Doyle got something up his sleeve - he's been waaay to nice lately.

Why can't the Chinese just get over it already?

Dang Morris and his component...he's the reason all of this has gone down.

Hmmm Jack has 1 hour to get the component...1 hour...1 hour...could there be any significance to this...no probably not...

I love the nicotine patch on Gary Payton's (Wayne Palmer) neck

Did Carrot Top re-incarnate and turn into Shawn White?

Just saw the preview for "The Condemned". I thought the wrester posing as an actor movies would end with the Marine.

Wow! We finally found a resignation that Gary Payton would accept.

It's official. Those Mac/PC ads are annoying.

Does anyone every tell Jack no?

CTU needs a stringent no-relationship policy.

Silver Spoons needs an attitude adjustment and our favorite CTU agent is just the person to give it to him.

Guess the the Glove needed a stronger nicotine patch. Yippee! More Powers Boothe! Who can we nuke next? My vote is for Canada.

This week should have been one of those double header episodes because there was no resolution at all. It's as if the writers got done with the season and realized they only had 23 hours. So they drew out the beginning of Jack's new mission. This might be the first episode in the history of 24 where it actually took someone 30 minutes to drive somewhere...

Well, it's been fun. Stay alive Jack.

Hollywood Video Crisis Looms Large

gorbachev.jpgWhile I was lucky enough to get my very own Nintendo Wii awhile ago it seems as if the shortages are not just affecting the consoles and accessories. I went to Hollywood Video today to rent a game for some friends coming over tomorrow and they not only were they out of the game I wanted but every single Nintendo Wii game in the store was checked out. Every single copy of every single game.

Now I know how those people in Russia felt when they tried to buy bread only to find none on the shelves...

wait...what?

It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

I was just thinking... The smell of a fresh bag of properly cooked popcorn is one of the best things in the world. The smell of a burned bag is one of the worst. Just a few seconds in the microwave separate one of life's great experiences from 2 days of horrible stench in your kitchen.

It's either really good or really bad - there's not a lot of in-between.

Here are a few more things that are either the best or the worst:

  • An orange - you never really know until after you bit in and sucked down some juice
  • Your favorite team in the championship game
  • The Matrix trilogy (1st 2=awesome, 3rd=worst. movie. ever.)

Any other ideas?

What's New in '07?

Time for the requisite family and friends update. I have been getting a lot of emails from family and friends with all the cute and cuddly details about their lives. And since my email habits are like my phone habits (I try and spend as little time on both as possible) I've been feeling a little guilty about not sharing the details that some of you love (Mom...)

First of all, it would be nice if the temperature would stay above 20 degrees for 2 straight days. I don't think I'm asking a lot here. I honestly can't remember a stretch this cold this long in my lifetime. I promise I will never make "Old People Living in Florida" jokes again. My Christmas lights are still half up...and I'm a person who can't stand it when people leave their lights up past the 26th of December. If I were to try and go on our roof at this point I am pretty sure I would either slide off on to the driveway and break something vital or slide into the power lines and fry something vital. So the lights are staying up for now - at least they're not on.

I traveled to San Francisco again in January for my job but was unable to bring Mickie along this time. It was too bad too because my second day of training was canceled. I ended up driving to Monterey Bay for the day. It is a really cool coastal town. I was going to go to the Aquarium but it was a wee bit pricey. Its always fun eating by yourself in a touristy place as well. I tried to make myself look like as little of a loser as possible by spreading out a couple folders and made it look like I was working or something. I actually just stared at the water and the sea gulls. I ended the day by driving back up the coast to SF which was really cool.

Probably the single biggest thing to happen in 2007 so far was my acquisition of a Nintendo Wii. If you don't know the Nintendo Wii is revolutionary game system that gets most of its input based on motion. So if you are playing Tennis you swing the controller just like a racket and the system picks up your motion and translates it on the screen. Mickie and I played one at our friends the Criggers' house and had a lot of fun. You know it's a good gaming system when Mick gets into it - and let me tell she gets into it. Playing tennis one day I had to cower in fear against the wall to avoid her Venus Williams like arm swings... The youth group has had a blast with it as well. Bowling is the most popular among that group.

Mia has been going through, well how do I say it, an independent stage...

I probably say this every time I write about her but I love watching her figure out new things. Her conversation gets more mature all the time and I can't believe the size of clothes Mickie bought for her the other day. She has been memorizing a lot of songs recently and the current hit is from the Little Mermaid. I have a video I'll post soon or maybe in a year... Her favorite activity right now is to make "Jumpers". Well, I actually make them she just jumps on them. For the uneducated a "jumper" is a combination of couch cushions, pillows, blankets and anything else that would break the fall of a 2 year old from about 4 feet.

This post is getting a little long so I'll spare you all the rest and try and update a little more frequently and a lot shorter.

Hopefully none of you are as dumb as this guy...

The Greatest Invention Ever...No Really

I just found possibly one of the most useful things in my lifetime. No, not a really fast electric car, or even a Feline Stay-Fresh Drinking Fountain...(which is sold out by the way due to its immense popularity) No dear brothers and sisters I'm talking about the Procrastinator's Clock. What? Me? A Procrastinator? Those who know me best would say I am, though I like to say I manage my tasks to be done when they need to be not when they could be... Anyway this particular clock courtesy of David Seah runs 15 minutes fast. Not impressed are you? You can do that with a normal clock? Ahhh, but does your clock speed up and slow down unpredictably? Didn't think so. The slogan for this fine product is really great: "This clock runs fast up to 15 minutes...or does it?

You never know if you're 15 minutes ahead or if you're right on time - so you can't cheat.

This needs to be a function put into all alarm clocks. Why hasn't someone thought of this before? Millions of dollars are waiting to be made.

Well, I need to end this post - I'm late for work...

Mia-Speak

Over the last 2 years I have become bi-lingual. I speak fluent English and passable "Toddler." The tricky thing is that "Toddler" is not a standardized language and there are many dialects. In fact its probably safe to say that just about every kid from the age of 0-4 has their own personal dialect (some adults too...). When this all starts its about as hard to learn and understand as Elvish in Tolkien novel - but with time and a good amount of paying attention you start to figure it out.

With this comes a challenge: Can you match the toddler speak to the song titles below that Mia requests over and over?

  1. Bom Bom Ding
  2. Do bop a do bop
  3. Hammerhamham

Answers:

  • U Can't Touch This
  • I Can See Clearly Now
  • Orinoco Flow

Good Luck.

Get To Know Your Opera

operopah.jpgI read a lot of tech news sites and inevitably about once a day one will mention the web browser Opera (pronounced like the funny singing). And even though its spelled differently, I guess I'm so used to seeing Oprah Winfrey's (the media mogul that has the women of America as her slaves (in another post another time I'll lay out my arguments why I believe Oprah is poised to rule the world-by force if need be)) name in print I automatically think the article is talking about her. This has led to some funny thoughts. Below are some of the more intriguing headlines I've scoured.

  • Opera experiments with new "social press release"
  • Opera Christmas Widget!
  • 10 Things You Can Do Only If You Use Opera
  • Opera Mini has inspired more than eight million users
  • Is Opera Bloated?
  • Opera is a full-featured Internet tool
  • Opera passes the Acid2 test!
  • Get to know your Opera
  • Opera has great widgets

All Lit Up

It's the holiday season and the festivities have begun. Saturday I participated in the time honored tradition of trying not to break my neck falling off the roof or electrocuting myself on power lines, or more commonly known as "hanging the Christmas lights." When we lived in our town house there weren't a lot of options for decorating - basically a string around the garage was all I could muster but our new house has presented a whole new opportunity. lights.jpgMid-morning Mia and I made the journey to our local Wal-Mart to scope out the light scene. I didn't know really what I was going to do, but I at least had the foresight to measure our roof so I had some semblance of how many lights we needed. What I wasn't prepared for however was the range of choices that I was presented with at Wal-Mart. Speaking of Wal-Mart, is there any other place in the world you can buy a goldfish, have your oil changed, watch a plasma tv, and be greated by a friendly elderly person? Didn't think so.

Mia and I decided on some icicle lights. Now there are good icicle lights and bad ones. I really don't like the ones that hang down half-way to the ground and I really don't like the ones that actually look like icicles. In a moment of brilliance I also picked up some light hanging thingies that turned out to be awesome.

Climbing up the ladder I had several Clark Griswold flashbacks only if I fall it's to my concrete driveway... Not sure why I didn't choose to do this the previous weekend when it was literally 50 degrees warmer. I love to get on roof tops. I think every guy gets satisfaction when you climb to the top of something. I've been watching the Everest series on the Discovery channel and for a brief second on the summit of my roof I imagined myself on the summit of Everest... I had conquered my roof. I am man. I am awesome...or something like that.

Got the lights hung without too much drama and then came the part that I dread - the re-mounting of the ladder. Not sure why but I get really freaked out when making that first step back on to the ladder. It always feels like the ladder will fall and then I'll fall and I'll die... Made it down though and plugged the lights in and.....................................they worked!!!..............for 5 minutes...lights2.jpg

Turns out when the box says you can connect 3 strands together it actually meant 3 and not 7...

Luckily only the first strand blew a fuse which by the way are the most ridiculous things to try and replace. I almost went back to Wal-Mart to buy a new set cause I couldn't get that stupid fuse out. Finally wrestled it out with a steak knife, put in a new one, ran an additional cord and presto, we have lights!

Now I just need to start working on convincing Mickie to leave them up all year...

Cheeseburgers - the Legal Drug

innout.jpg Besides the wheel, fire, and the internet, probably the greatest invention of all time is fast food. (Note: sarcasm is fairly hard to convey while typing without the use of "quotes" or the three dotted thingy...neither of which could convey the amount laid on by the last statement.)

I'm inclined to agree with Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) that it is addicting. How else can you describe something that is horrible for your body but we consume in mass quantities anyway? That said I enjoy my fast food anyway.

Here are my top picks for fast food items:

  1. In 'n Out Burger
  2. KFC Famous Bowl
  3. McDonald's French Fries
  4. Jimmy John's Turkey Tom Sub
  5. Burger King Whopper w/Cheese
  6. Wendy's Frosty
  7. Fazzoli's Bread sticks