Category: The Daily Life

I Had A Milt-down

Yep, today was it. The last straw. The button was pushed.

I had a meltdown. Don’t worry, it wasn’t an epic meltdown but I had reached my limit.

Work will do it to you, especially a week when you faced emergencies and resolving time critical issues. The problem in these situations were usually the lack of preparation on someone else’s part which then became my problem.

In the end, I didn’t hold my tongue and I said exactly what I was thinking. I didn’t attack anyone personally but I was certainly unfiltered in addressing the situation.

Sometimes you just have to speak up. I did and I don’t feel bad about it. I think people expect too much without considering what they are asking and their responsibility in preparation.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Yeah that’s a nice cutesy quote but people rarely adhere to it. If there’s one thing I truly hate is when people fail to plan something and then dump it in someone’s lap to execute. That’s pretty crappy.

I have always been able to perform under pressure in the hot seat but I also like being prepared. Unforeseen things happen and I understand that but I also think you can prepare for your expectations. Do what you can do. I like to plan and carry out that plan.

Sometimes you just have to let people know about it. Don’t say “it’s okay” when it’s not okay. Don’t say “no problem” when it is indeed a problem. I have learned that if you never speak up that you will enable people to continue the same behavior in what they are doing thinking it is okay.

Yes, I spoke up today and I vented my unhappiness with the situation. You can still get angry without attacking or go on a profanity-filled rant. Sometimes people need to be told.

I reached my limit this week so I am mentally regrouping in my safe place. My wife is my safe place. She gets me. She would fight for me. When you have a meltdown, you have to regain your perspective about what truly is important. This gives us a chance to take a breath and refocus.

My Milt-down has calmed now.


Things That Make Me Go…hmmmm

hmmmEver have those things in life that make you wonder?  I do.  Like when you park away from other cars in the parking lot and someone ALWAYS parks right next to you.  What’s up with that?

I don’t know.  Some things just boggle my mind.  Things like personal space.  Some people get wayyyy to close.  I have stood in lines at the post office and other public places and the person behind me is so close that I can feel their breath on my neck.  I don’t get that at all.

I also don’t know why guys want to talk to you when you are doing your business in the bathroom either.  That’s not what I consider a social place.

Traffic makes me go hmmmm a LOT.  This week I was driving to work when suddenly another driver jerks into my lane.  No looking.  No signal.  Suddenly he’s there and I had to slam on my brakes to keep from hitting him.   When I passed him later he seemed to be totally oblivious to the accident he was nearly involved in.  Okay, let’s go over this again….check your blind spot, USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL, safely change lanes.   Of course none of this applies to Nashville drivers — EVER.

Yeah, let’s don’t get me started on traffic or this will turn into a traffic blog.

How about just plain people walking?  I had three near misses in the hallway this week when people bolted out of rooms without looking to see if anyone was in the hall.  One guy just barreled out of the men’s room and I nearly pulled a groin stopping so as not to hit him.  He never looked back and walked on.

Call me crazy but I don’t think they should allow food or drinks during a Broadway show.  This isn’t the movie theatre and it sure isn’t your personal living room although people act like it.  I just think going to a show has a little more class than that.

There is one rug that our cat insists on attacking on a daily basis.  Not sure what’s going on there.

Why is it that slackers at work seem to get a free pass?

One of my least favorite things in life is selling or buying a house or car.  This never seems to be an easy process.

I’m not expecting the Nashville Predators to go very far in the playoffs.  They have been very frustrating and inconsistent this year.  They were so close to winning the Stanley Cup two years ago but I don’t expect them to get out of the first round of the playoffs this year.

I like this new football league – the Alliance of American Football.  I hope it can survive.

For the first time in years, I haven’t filled out a bracket for March Madness.  I haven’t watched a single college basketball game this season.

The Nashville Zoo has improved a lot since my wife and I moved here in 2014.  They are adding a new tiger exhibit next month.

Why is it not okay to express your opinion about something without others attacking you?  It seems that it’s okay to have opinion unless it is different from others.

Let me give you some advice…do not friend co-workers on Facebook.

Do you notice how impatient people are today?  Nobody wants to wait in lines and no one wants to be kind to others.  It’s either the food we eat or our phones that is affecting interaction with other people.

Speaking of phones…isn’t it amazing how we can live without them now?

If you are out in public today, count how many people are looking at their phones.

Lifeway Christian stores announced that they are closing all of their “brick-and-mortar” stores.  They are going to focus more on their online sales.  I guess I can understand this but I still like going into bookstores and touching books.

The calendar says it is spring but I’m waiting for the weather to get onboard with that.

I’ve been vegetarian/vegan since the beginning of the year and I haven’t gone hungry yet.  Since the change, I can’t help but wonder why we drink cows milk?  Who started that?

Just some things that make me go….hmmmm.




May I Ask A Quick Question?

I have been both an instructor and student in many classes in my job over the years. Most of my training has involved some type of software class which almost turns my brain to mush by the end of the class. Unfortunately, I am not one who catches on as quickly as some folks do but it eventually connects. I process things in my own way and my own speed.

In my experience and hundreds of hours in a classroom I can tell you that although each class is different and students change there are always the same types of personalities in each class. Here are some of the common ones:

The Smartest Person in the Room

First, there is the person who wants to be the smartest person in the room. When they ask questions, they aren’t asking because they don’t know the answer, they are asking so they can demonstrate how smart they are. I even heard this type of student actually ask “may I ask a self-serving question?” That’s a pretty good indicator on who this type is in the class. There’s a saying that goes “it’s not bragging if nobody cares”. Same thought goes for that person or persons who want to be the smartest person in the room.

The Frequent Question Asker

Then you have the person that starts their question with: “Can I ask a quick question?” This student is usually going to be the frequent question asker and rarely will it ever be a “quick” question and most likely be the same person who asks questions to challenge the instructor. They will ask questions or make comments to challenge the instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching.

The Dumb Questioner

This thing they say sometimes about there is never a dumb question…yes there is and there will be some. They are often the ones who get totally off the subject.

The Smart Ass/Class Clown

In every class there will be the smartass or class clown whose intent is to make everything a joke. Yes, this still happens even with adults. I wonder if these types are trying to relive their high school days.

So where do I fit in the classroom? I can tell you that I am not one to ask questions unless it really presses on me to do so. Usually one of the other personalities will ask the question that’s on my mind anyway so I will just hold my tongue to see if that happens (and it usually does).

When I was an instructor, these classes wore me down both physically and emotionally. In one class, I had a student sitting in the front row that really made my job difficult. He tried to tell me how to teach the class and was pretty much a combination of all of the personalities I have listed. This student totally distracted me and when I reported him to the people in charge of the course, they wouldn’t do anything or say anything to the student because “that’s the way he is”. I never liked that excuse. Shortly afterwards, I stopped volunteering to be an instructor completely. I didn’t get anymore pay for doing it and I certainly didn’t need the added to my stress.

One thing that often annoys me is when students are late for the class and the instructor waits for them before starting. We are grown ups and should be responsible enough to be on time. One or two people shouldn’t make everyone else wait. Maybe that’s my military background but I don’t think you should enable bad behavior of a few to punish those who obey the rules.

I’m in another class this week and I see the same behaviors and personality types. People are funny. I’m sure I have my own eccentric ways. I guess I’m the quiet one who rarely asks questions which probably makes the instructor wonder if I’m getting it or if I’m spending the time daydreaming. Right now I’m looking at the lunch menu and thinking about my options.

In reality, I try to look at these other personalities from another view. There may some deep rooted insecurities or lack of confidence. Actually some people who feel inferior try to project an image as some defense mechanism. I suppose this is a reason for their behavior but I don’t think it should excuse their behavior – especially if they are being condescending to others. That’s never okay as far as I am concerned. We should respect everyone’s opportunity to learn without the silly dramatics.

No self-serving questions allowed.

Thoughts From An Infrequent Flyer

I am not one that does a lot of travel and I could probably count on two hands how many times I have flown. On my recent travel, I had to fly and I don’t know how some people do it all the time and keep their sanity.

Here are some observations I have about it:

  • Why don’t they board planes from back to front? I know that first class and priority members should get privileges but what good does it do for them to get on the plane first? Why get on first and then have people file by you bumping you with their luggage and waiting for everyone else to board? Boarding first doesn’t make the plane takeoff any faster. Wouldn’t it be MORE of a perk to board the plane last and comfortably get into your first class seat without having to mingle with the riff-raff? And if you get on last, you would be able to get off of the plane first. Airlines need to change this boarding procedure. If you board from the back to the front they could get everyone onboard quicker and takeoff sooner.
  • Why do people immediately jump up when the plane rolls to a stop? Every time I have flown I notice that the second the pilot turns off the seat belt sign that people race to jump up to get their things and stand in the aisle to get off the plane. Then they just stand there impatiently as the crew goes through their procedures to prepare the plan for de-boarding. I think the reason is impatience. People want to get their crap and get off the plane. If I were the airlines I would keep everyone’s seatbelt locked and then release them by rows when it is time to de-board.
  • What’s up with gigantic carry-on luggage? I stood in line and I know that most of these folks exceeded the limits for carry-on. Because most airlines charge for checked baggage people are doing what they can to fit everything in their carry-on. People also don’t want to wait at baggage claim or worry about losing their luggage. I don’t know if people have noticed but the overhead bins have gotten smaller while carry-on luggage has gotten larger.
  • The airlines aren’t helping matters by charging for checked bags. This only encourages people to push the limits with their carry-on. I think airlines should let you check one bag free and then charge for additional checked bags. I think the desire to make more money has clouded their judgment on how to deal with this issue. I noticed that on my last flight that gate attendants were checking bags because overhead bins were already full.
  • Isn’t there a better way to get through this TSA lines without having to almost undress? Okay, this is ridiculous. I’m not hating on TSA agents because most are incredibly patient and just doing their jobs but isn’t there a better way to get through this extremely stressful obstacle course? With all the technology, do we really have to remove our belts and shoes? Good grief, what’s going to happen if some fool puts explosives in their underwear? I won’t fly anymore. I already struggle holding onto my pants without my belt and then I STILL have to raise my hands? Come on, fix this!

Flying is not fun and I’m glad I don’t have to do it much. When my wife and I visited Europe last year we were amazed at their train systems and wished we had trains here. Trains were so much easier to travel and cheaper than flying is here. We learned to master the trains there but I doubt I could ever master air travel here.

I salute those of you who fly for business or leisure. I don’t know how you do it without therapy.

This Is Serious

Understanding-DepressionSuicide is a serious issue.

When my wife and I lived in Tampa we would occasionally drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to St. Petersburg.  It was a beautiful but scary drive.  Unfortunately it was (and is) a popular location for people to jump in an attempt to end their lives.  Just recently I have read where there is also a bridge near Nashville in the Natchez Trace which has become the same thing for people looking to jump.

A person really has to be in a dark place to resort to this measure.

Too many times people who are depressed or hurting are blown off or the situation is taken lightly.  Sometimes it takes just a wrong word or critical comment to push someone over the edge mentally.  We live in a world that is so quick to hate and be divisive but slow to encourage.

I have been extremely depressed before.  I know what it feels like to be in a seemingly hopeless situation.  First, you are frustrated with the situation and you think there is no way out.  You find yourself stuck in the same routine of hurt.  Second, you are too embarrassed to tell anyone or if you do you don’t feel like they are taking it seriously.  Honestly some people are uncomfortable with this confession or they simply don’t know how to help.

I know I was there.  Probably not to the point of ending things but I think we’ve all been at a low point at some time in our lives where just one more nudge or push would send us over.  For me, I was involved in the church.  That didn’t help.  In fact, when someone knew I was depressed they would say “Keep looking up brother” or “Trust in the Lord” or some other worn-out religious cliché.   Thanks, that does NOT help me.  I have to tell you honestly that sometimes church is the worst place to be for someone who is extremely depressed.  I mean, you’re at the point you need some REAL help and you can’t find it in the church routine.  It’s a bad place to feel worse when you leave church than when you arrived.  I’m not dogging church but I know that sometimes what we think is the cure can sometimes be part of the problem.  I stood in the parking lot after a men’s breakfast one Saturday morning wanting to talk to my pastor about what was going on but he kept looking at his watch because he had someone else to go.  I retreated from my desire to tell him and never tried that again.

Telling someone to “smile” isn’t the best response either.  A depressed person can give you a smile on their face but it does nothing to heal what’s going on inside.  Pat answers and religious clichés are not what a person needs.

If you are depressed and even remotely considering ending it all let me ask you to stop for a moment and don’t allow the darkness inside cloud your thinking.  Consider these things:

  • Start making changes in your life.  Sometimes even the slightest change can lead to a change in your thinking.  Depression can make you think that there is no way out or that things are hopeless.  That is a lie.  Yes, there can be some serious problems that can’t be solved overnight but taking just one step to change it will lead to more steps.
  • Talk to someone you can trust.  It’s embarrassing and difficult to swallow your pride and admit this to someone but this is so crucial in getting out of the dark place inside of you.  Don’t talk to just anyone.  Talk to someone you trust or see a professional.  You will be totally amazed what a relief it is to talk to someone.
  • Delay the jump.  If you get to the place of taking the drastic measure to jump or something else, delay it.  Step back.  Allow your thinking to reset.  Sometimes you will talk yourself out of it or shake out of that state of mind.
  • Think of people in your life if you go through with it.  The people you leave behind will be racked with guilt and mostly asking that “what if” question.  They will wonder why you didn’t ask for help or say something to them.  This act you are considering will cause incredible pain to people who really love you.  Sometimes, unfortunately, someone will do the same thing because you did it.  Think about it.

The important thing to remember is not to make a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  The darkness will make you think that the problem is forever but it isn’t.  Stick around and see what happens next.

The darkness is serious.  The rest of us need to be aware and do what we can to pull people out of it if we can.  If someone confides in us, we need to take it seriously.  Don’t blow people off or make light of it.  Don’t check your watch or joke about it.  If someone thinks enough of you to confess then it’s worth your time to listen.

Although I never got to the point of jumping or anything drastic, I have dealt with the darkness and the wound in my soul.   There were several things to push me to do something about it.  One was the pastor who blew me off when I was set to confide in him but he had more important things to do.  Another was a cutting criticism of something good I was trying to do but a hurtful comment cut me to the heart.  If I could get religious with you for a moment, I will tell you that the Bible verse in 1 Samuel 30:6 when everything was going against David and he had no one. The verse tells us:  “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

At this point in my own life, I determined that I was going to take matters into my own hands and encourage myself.  I was responsible for my happiness and getting out of the dark place in my soul.  I made some drastic changes in my life.   There was a quote in a movie where Robin Hood’s father told his son, “It’s time for you to be who you are.”   It was time for me to be me.  One was leaving the church I had been a part of all of my life to that point.  I am sorry if this doesn’t set well with people I know who are still in the church and I know it is difficult for people to understand but this was huge in making the right change in my life.  Now I can see how much of a burden that life had been and the expectations I had to meet for everyone while I was failing miserably.  Since then, other things changed as well as other people have changed my life.  Just making that first change led me out of that state of mind.  Like I said, sometimes just making that first change can lead you out.  It worked for me.

Life is worth making the effort.

You are NOT alone.  Confidential help is available for free.   Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.



The Government Shutdown Is Over But…

government-reopens-generic-mgnThe longest Government shutdown in American history ended on Friday and my office welcomed me back to work.  It’s back to normal….well almost.  I still have not been paid back and the next payday is still 10 days away so, yes, I’m still needing to pay my bills.

Even with being back to work, the dark cloud of another shutdown looms in three weeks as this temporary reprieve is almost certain to result in yet another government shutdown.

I was encouraged that more and more companies were starting to help out furloughed government workers with food and assistance with our bills.  It really got off to a slow start.  It was really nice that the Nashville Zoo offered free admission to us in spite of the haters.

I was disappointed in the Robins Financial Credit Union for not providing better assistance to me after 35 years of being a member.  Since Robins Air Force Base wasn’t affected by the shutdown, I was one of the few customers who were affected by it.  They did approve a loan but nothing to fit the situation and not as understanding as they would have been had the base been impacted by the shutdown.

It was encouraging that one of my past co-workers, mentor and friend offered me a loan to hold me over.  That meant a lot to me that he offered.

Some financial institutions finally started offering some assistance such as PayPal which offered a one-time 0% APR cash advance up to a maximum of $500.  Our local electric and gas companies also offered assistance thanks to our mayor.  These were all nice gestures to help us in this very unique situation.

We are told to call our elected representatives which I did and I got their interns.  How do you actually get to talk to your elected representative?  How are you certain that your voice is being heard?

Then there were the haters who failed to see the difference between a government furlough and layoff.  Until you’ve been through it, you truly can’t understand it and I have grown tired of explaining it.  In this situation, you are left in limbo where you can’t really go out and get another job or function very well while politicians are withholding your paycheck.   Contrary to what some of the millionaires suggested, I was not able to barter with my landlord for the rent, I couldn’t put my groceries on a tab and taking out a “small” loan still means interest that I will have to pay back which will cost more than my back pay.  No, this certainly was no vacation.

I also didn’t like being called into work when I was originally deemed non-essential.  I think they should do something where people who have to work during these shutdowns are paid extra.  It doesn’t seem right that we all get paid back the same but I’m still glad we’re getting paid back.  There is never any guarantee that will happen.

Three weeks and all this could happen again.  There is clearly not enough time to save up enough money to survive another 30+ day shutdown.  It isn’t fair that political debates can cause our paychecks to be withheld.  Something should be done to keep any politician from using this hostage tactic in order to get a project passed.  This isn’t the way we should function. It is really a helpless situation where you have to watch CNN or some other news source to find out when you are going back to work.

So you get paid for staying home?  It’s not what you think.  I spent several days staying home in a self-imposed house arrest so as not to spend any money and stressed about how the next bill was going to get paid.  When I missed my second paycheck, the stress level was elevated and I was trying to find someone that would hire me for part-time or contract work.  No, I assure you it wasn’t “fun”.

I don’t want sympathy because I know most people don’t really care and already have a low opinion of government employees as well as those we support.  I also don’t want to be called a patriot or thanked for my sacrifice.  This wasn’t done willingly for anyone.  The shutdown took away my paychecks which I needed to support my family.

I think I can speak for my other 799,999 fellow government colleagues and say that we are happy to be back to work for you and able to support our families….for three more weeks.





Worship In Virtual Reality

vrworshipSince I have received the Oculus Go VR headset, I have explored many things with this technology. One of the things that has been greatly enhanced is my time of personal devotion and worship time with God. The VR goggles have taken my experience to a new level. When I have the VR headset on, it dramatically cuts down on distractions and totally immerses me in whatever I am doing. Let me share with you some of my experiences using the Oculus Go in VR worship time.

The first app I downloaded was the VR Church: The Bible app. It’s okay but it has a few quirks to it. The main issue is that the app has a place where you can set up a custom plan to read the Bible. Unfortunately, I have found that after I select a plan and start it that the actual Bible reading text doesn’t appear. I can, however, go directly to the Bible section and read it. There are a couple of meditation Bible readings in the app that are nice to go through but they need to update it with more. It is a nice app but it needs to be improved. I keep hoping for updates to this app.

Reading the Bible (or any digital book) with the Oculus Go is very cool. There are a couple of book reading apps such as Virtual Book Viewer or ImmersionVR where you can import a Bible and you can adjust the size to what is comfortable for your eyes. For me, it is much better than paper or even my iPad. The ImmersionVR reader app is a bit different because you can turn the pages by simply moving your head as well as setting some calm background music while you are reading.

There is an app call AltspaceVR where you can customize your personal avatar and transport to different rooms and events. One of the rooms is the VR Church Prayer Room. You can teleport your avatar to the room and watch the International House of Prayer. I think this is a church that conducts worship 24/7.  Yeah, it’s a little different but what’s even more interesting is that you can also attend a virtual church service.

What’s Virtual Reality Church like?

The first 30 minutes are somewhat formal with worship music, prayer, and a sermon. The rest of the time is very informal with discussion and hanging out. At the beginning, a VR pastor will welcome everyone. Then you can listen to worship music for a few minutes. During this time, you can sing, pray, meditate, or simply take it all in by enjoying the worship music. After the worship music, they share a few announcements. Then a VR pastor will give a short interactive sermon. Sermons are designed to encourage your spiritual journey. At the end of the sermon, attendees are encouraged attendees to meet each other and discuss the sermon. They say this is a great opportunity to ask questions, make new friends, or simply hang out.  That may be true but I would caution anyone about “hanging out” online.  I think this virtual church is a good idea but I’m not sure about meeting people there.

Virtual church can’t replace going to a real church but I think it’s a novel idea.  I would still be cautious about it.

Probably the most amazing features of using the Oculus Go for my personal worship time is that I can watch my favorite preachers or Christian music artists on the web or YouTube in what is comparable to watching them on 30-foot screen. It is pretty amazing.  In my most recent personal VR worship time, I watched music videos by TobyMac and Micah Tyler.  I visited the AltspaceVR prayer room to check out what was going on at the International House of Prayer then I went to the Virtual Book Viewer and read another chapter in the Bible.  Other times, I have watched Bible studies and various videos on Bible issues I have questions about. In addition to the worship time, I can also visit the Holy Land and as well as some beautiful places on Earth.

Yeah, this version of worship and personal devotion time sounds a little gimmicky but it has really been an amazing experience for me. I hope developers will create more content for this technology.

Some things I would like to see in VR worship would be:

  • An app with a selection of video praise and worship songs with the lyrics.
  • I would like to see some contemporary Christian music artists shoot some music videos in 360 degree video.
  • It would be nice to have a selection of 360 degree photos of churches where you can sit and meditate.

I love the VR technology and think there could be some awesome things added for personal worship time.  It’s already a pretty awesome experience.  I have enjoyed it so far and looked forward to more time spent in the VR worship.