Nov 23

The Holidays:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Kwanzaa (whatever that is)… Time to think of others and be thankful for what you have, right?  Normally, I would take this opportunity to dog on each and every single one of these holidays.  I would bitch about everything I see as being wrong with these holidays… which is a lot.  But, then I asked myself, “What would Jesus do?” Jesus would not dog on the holidays.  Jesus would tell us too look out for our fellow man.  Jesus would tell us to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs.  Jesus would tell us all about Stacy Rock!

Stacy who?  Stacy ROCK!  Say it like you mean it… ROCK!  Although a few years younger than me, Stacy grew up in the same small Montana town that I did.

Whenever I think of Stacy, I think of her mom… Mrs. Rock.  Mrs. Rock was my English teacher in 6th, 7th and 8th grades.  All of the younger grades feared Mrs. Rock.  She was the kind of teacher who would yell at a kid down a long hallway if said kid was screwing around.  Mrs. Rock’s voice could be heard from one end of the school to the other and stabbed fear into the hearts of the young children.  We knew that, sooner or later, we would end up with her as a teacher.  There were rumors of children who had mouthed off to Mrs. Rock and just…  disappeared.  I held a suspicion that the Rock family had a freezer full of formerly-mouthy kids who were served — you guessed it — for the holidays.

When I finally reached 6th grade, I was terrified that I would end up as a Thanksgiving main course.  Mrs. Rock was not only the English teacher, she was the homeroom teacher for 6th grade.  6th graders are too young to die.  What was wrong with the Ft. Peck school system?!?

Well, it turns out, nothing at all was wrong with the Ft. Peck school system.  Mrs. Rock was an awesome teacher.  She was strict, but she was also kind.  She had a great, cynical sense of humor, which, of course, I loved.  Mrs. Rock ended up being my favorite English teacher of all time.  It was an incredible experience to watch Mrs. Rock yell down the hall at the younger kids who were misbehaving… knowing the fear that was building in them… some of them probably wetting their pants… maybe even a touch of the poo…  Good times!  In fact, I contribute all of my writing success to Mrs. Rock.  Yeah, this stupid blog is all her fault.  So the five of you who read it can blame her.

Back to the real reason for this post.  Stacy Rock is no longer a little girl.  Stacy Rock is now a soon-to-be rock-and-roll LEGEND!  She just needs a little help from whoever stumbles across this post.  After school, Stacy moved to the Big Apple in search of fulfilling her musical dreams.  She found some success with the release of her first album.  Now, she is attempting to produce a second album, and she is raising funds in the effort to make that second album come to life.  But Stacy isn’t just asking for money… she is giving out rewards at every contribution level.  The rewards sound pretty cool, too.  If it wasn’t the holiday season, I would have went for the $50 level just to get some of Mrs. Rock’s cookies, although I still suspect there may be bits and pieces of mouthy kids within (‘What’s the secret to your delicious cookies, Mrs. Rock’,  ‘Why, just a little Robert Jones, Mrs. Smith.’) If one were a great contributor to the arts, he or she could actually end up with a personal concert from Stacy in his/her house.  That would be pretty cool.  Check out Stacy’s story:

Currently, there are two semi-famous people from Fort Peck, MT.  One is Wayne Hawkins, who was like a guard for the Oakland Raiders or something.  The other is Ron Hauge, who is a television writer who wrote for The Simpsons, Ren and Stimpy, and I think he wrote an episode of Seinfeld or something.  Please, please, please help this small Montana town have one more semi-famous person to its credit: Stacy Rock.

Check out Stacy Rock’s Kickstarter page for more information on how you can help and what you get in return. There is a goal and a deadline, so don’t delay. Also, check out Stacy herself and her music at StacyRock.com. The holiday season is a great time to help someone out :)

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Dec 29

ring…ring…ring

tech:  Thanks for calling tech support, how may I help you?

Person-who-doesn’t-understand-the-purpose-of-internet-tech-support:  Hey, I’m having problems with your damn internet.

tech:  I’m sorry to hear that.  What kind of problems are you having?

Person:  Yeah, I got a new Blu-ray player for Christmas and I’m supposed to be able to stream movies from online to my TV.

tech: Okay.

Person: Well, it’s not working.

tech: Okay, so your internet isn’t working?

Person: Not on the Blu-ray player.

tech: So… is your internet working on your computer?

Person: Yeah, it’s working there, but it’s supposed to work on the Blu-ray player too.  I swear, your guys’ internet sucks!

tech: … uh… okay… so how do you have the Blu-ray player hooked-up to the internet?

Person: I don’t know.  Aren’t you tech support?  Shouldn’t you know that?

tech: … I’m afraid I don’t know how you would have hooked the Blu-ray player up to the internet.  Did you run a wire from your router to the player or is it WiFi?

Person: See, you guys always go talking all techie.  I’m not technical.  Can’t you just send someone out to get this damn thing working?

tech: … to hook up your Blu-ray player?

Person: No, to wash my dog.  Of course to hook up my Blu-ray player.

tech:  The company that you purchased the Blu-ray player doesn’t have someone available to install it for you?

Person:  Yeah, but they want to charge me like 35 bucks to have someone hook it up.

tech: … okay… that would probably be cheaper than having us send a tech out.  Usually we charge $45 for a service call.

Person:  What the hell!  You’re gonna charge me?

tech:  Well, your internet is working and you are just needing your Blu-ray hooked up…

Person:  But your internet is not working on the Blu-ray!

tech:  I understand that, but the internet is getting to your house.  We can help you hook up the Blu-ray player, but there would be a service call fee…

Person:  What in the hell am I paying you for every month?

tech: … to get the internet to your house.

Person:  That’s a bunch of crap!  Screw that!  I swear, your internet sucks!  You’re just gonna help me over the phone!

tech:  I’d be more than happy to…

Person:  Damn right you’re gonna help me!

tech:  … okay… so how is the internet getting to the Blu-ray player?

Person:  If the internet was getting to the Blu-ray player, would I have called you?

tech: … so how is the internet supposed to get to the Blu-ray player?

Person:  I’m not sure I like your tone!

tech:  … my tone?

Person:  Don’t get all smart-assy with me!

tech:  This conversation is going in completely the wrong direction.  I just want to help you get your Blu-ray working…

Person:  Then why don’t you get your ass in a car and get over to my house and hook-up the stupid thing?

tech:  … so how is the internet supposed to get to your Blu-ray player?

Person:  How am I supposed to know?

tech:  Didn’t it come with any sort of instructions?

Person:  Oh great, so you expect me to read the stupid manual?  Come on, I don’t have that kind of time!  Don’t you know about this kind of stuff?

tech:  I’m afraid I really don’t have any sort of training on Blu-ray players.  I’m going to need some help from you to get the Blu-ray player working.

Person:  Well, that’s just fine!  And I guess I’m just going to have to charge you 45 bucks for the help!

tech:  … so… you want to charge me $45 to help me set up your Blu-ray player?

Person:  Damn straight!  See, now it makes sense for you to get off your lazy ass and come hook it up, doesn’t it?

tech:  I’m sorry, it really doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to help you today.  Does the manufacturer of the Blu-ray player have a phone number that you can call for tech support?

Person:  Now you’re just gonna blow me off!?!  That’s just great!  I swear, your internet sucks so bad!

tech:  But your internet is working.  We are getting the internet to your house and it is working on your computer, which is the service you are paying us for.  The fact that you can’t get your Blu-ray player to work seems like it may be more of an issue for the manufacturer of…

Person:  “I can’t get”… seriously, “I can’t get”!  Whose internet is this anyway?

tech:  Well… uh… it’s yours… isn’t it?  I mean, we provide it to you but…

Person:  It’s your stupid internet, and you can have it!  I want you to cancel my service!

tech:  Great!  So when can we deinstall the equipment?

Person:  … slow down, there, Speed Racer.  I don’t understand why you can’t just send someone out here to hook this stupid thing up?

tech:  For $45, we can.  The company that actually made money on the sale of the Blu-ray player… the company you actually paid for the device… is going to charge you to hook the player up for you.  I don’t understand why you are getting upset with me… a representative of your internet provider… and your internet is working… when you should be complaining to the company you bought the Blu-ray player from!

Person:  … sighthat’s why I’m on the phone with you.  That’s exactly what the Blu-ray store said about my internet provider… that you should be willing to do it for free.  Doesn’t anyone know how to offer customer service any more?

tech:  …

Person:  Screw it… I’ll have the Blu-ray store do it.  They’re cheaper.

tech:  Okay, thanks for calling.  If you have any internet issues, or if the Blu-ray tech needs some phone support setting up the player, please…

click

don’t hesitate to call. 

The tech slowly places the phone’s handset in its cradle.  Immediately the phone bursts into a spasm of rings.  Old lady Keller is calling on line one needing help setting up the router the grandkids got for her, and old lady Keller is half-blind and in a wheelchair.  Mr. McHenry is calling on line two.  Mr. McHenry got a new laptop for Christmas and needs help setting up his email, and Mr. McHenry doesn’t know the difference between an email client and potato salad.  Billy Thomas is ringing through on the third line.  Little Billy is 8-years-old… and he got an X-Box for Christmas… and his parents think it will be cute for him to call tech support and set-up his X-Box all by himself.

The tech looks at the throbbing purple-blue veins in his wrist… thump…thump…thump.  A letter opener catches the corner of his eye, and he reaches for it.  Feeling the edge of the opener’s blade, he realizes that it is barely sharp enough to open an envelope; it could never open a world of peaceful bliss.  His head falls to the desk calendar before him, and he weeps…


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Dec 25

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, stay away from Nebraska!

I can remember the Christmases of my youth in Montana: Christmas days filled with sledding and snow-fort building and snowball fights and ice skating.  These are fond memories that my children will most likely only experience on the rare “Christmas visit to the extended-family in Montana.”  My boys will grow to adulthood thinking of Christmas as a time of brown grass covering the earth and patches of dead leaves that avoided the rakes of fall.  Dust and dirt, brown on brown… nothing screams “Christmas” like the colors of death and decay.  This is Christmas in Nebraska.

When most of us think of Christmas, reds and greens and whites (is there more than one?) fill our imaginations.  Red represents the blood of Christ that was spilled for our sins.  Green stands for life, the eternal life found through Christ’s sacrifice.  White is for snow; snow that covers the earth and hides all imperfections, just like Christ.  Brown is for… uh… well… there really is no “brown” in the Christmas color-scheme.  Brown is reminiscent of… crap?  Crap that life can be without Christ, I guess.  Or, maybe a donkey in the manger or something.

Southern states can boast of the green of year-round vegetation and temperate weather, and I can see how Christmas could be enjoyable down there what with the reminder of the eternal life that awaits us.  Northern states are covered in the virgin snow that reminds us of the love of God.  Central states, like Nebraska, remind us that this life can be a pile of crap and, I don’t know… maybe that we can expect donkey-rides in heaven?!?

Christmas should be all about Christ.  This time of year, we get caught up in the gift-giving and the gift-receiving and the food and the extended mid-day naps (ok… so that’s probably just me).  We all remind each other to remember the true meaning of the  Christmas, and then we head out to buy that one last present, or we run to Walmart to get that last box of Jello for the salad.

I’m gonna keep this post short, because I don’t want to complain too much on the day we set aside to remember the birth of Christ.  I’m going to try to end this post in a positive manner in tribute to the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.  As I look out the window at the brown grass and the blowing dead leaves, I shake my head and try to think positive.  It’s too cold outside to enjoy the lack of snow, but it’s not cold enough to go ice fishing or ice skating.  Brown upon brown upon brown… I guess riding a donkey would be kinda fun…

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Jun 30

My wife was at Walmart earlier today getting a little of this and a little of that.  When she got home, she told me know Walmart has its summer stuff on clearance… and they have some back-to-school stuff out.  IT’S JUNE 30TH…JUNE IS NOT EVEN OVER… SCHOOL GOT OUT IN THIS AREA ABOUT ONE MONTH AGO!!!!????!!!! For crying out loud, Walmart has sooo changed the way we live life in this country… and not for the better.  It used to be that you could buy a swimsuit at the end of the summer, you know, in case you actually lost that weight you were planning on losing.  Not anymore.  By the middle of July, no stores will even be carrying swimsuits anymore and it’s all Walmart’s fault.

Ok, I don’t know if this is all really Walmart’s fault or not, but I have a pretty strong feeling that it is.  Walmart always gets rid of seasonal merchandise slightly after the season has begun.  Walmart also always brings out the next season’s merchandise freakishly early.  Does anyone really want to think about back-to-school when school just got out?  Does anyone really want to think about fall holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving) before school even starts?  Does anyone really want to start planning for Christmas at the beginning of the school year?  I’m sure the answer to these questions for some people may be “yes”… but those people need to be tied up with Christmas lights in the middle of July and whipped senseless with jack-o-lanterns until they come around to my way of thinking.

Have you noticed how time seems to go faster than it did when you were a kid?  I used to think this was just part of the aging process; I don’t think this way anymore.  I think time seems to go faster than it used to because Walmart has back-to-school supplies out in their stinking stores before June is even over.  I think time seems to go faster than it used to because Walmart (and every other stinking store that has to follow Walmart’s stinking tactics in order to survive) forces consumers into thinking about the next major shopping season many weeks (often months) before that season arrives… all in the name of stinking profit!

So a big THANK YOU to you, stinking Walmart, for your contribution to the increasingly insane pace of life in the United States.  After all, who really wanted to slow down and try to enjoy summer anyway?  Thank you for forcing me to buy what I want and need when YOU want me to have it, not when I really want or need it.  Thank you for making me hate you more than I hate a pair of underwear that is too small and constantly rides up and constantly has to be pulled back down at the most awkward moments… and I really hate that.  And, finally, thank you for keeping your prices just slightly lower than your competition so that I feel like I would be throwing my money away by shopping somewhere besides Walmart!

Well, enough griping for now.  I think I’ll head out to Walmart.  I’m gonna need a new sled for next winter and there is a pretty good stinking chance Walmart has them on an end-display.  It is the last day of June, after all.

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