Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Accept no substitutes

You know, when nothing else will do, nothing else will do. Nothing. Else.

For lunch today I wanted ramen noodles. Hell, I've wanted ramen for a week now. But I've eaten lunch at home making myself be satisfied with whatever we've had; starving children somewhere would love to have what I've had for lunch in the last seven days, I get it. This is the very definition of a First World Problem, I get that too. Indeed I should probably capitalize that for proper emphasis. But I wanted ramen.

So I made a detour going home from work, to the local supermarket to buy ramen noodles. And I hit the mother lode of ramen too: shrimp ramen. It's better than beef or chicken or most of the truly bizarre ramens. I'm listening to the microwave as I write, waiting for my culinary delight to be ready.

Ding! The timer has went off, and so in a minute shall I be. Salty, salty ramen awaits!

Should I have chips with it?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Too many holidays

Today is Martin Luther King Day. It is the second of ten Federal holidays this year, the first having been New Year's Day. You know how many of those holidays I get to take off?


You know how many of them most anybody else gets to take off?


You know what this tells us?

That we taxpayers have to work extra days so that government employees can get five more days off than we do. They get to work a week less each year than taxpayers do. And that after the vacation, sick, and personal days they, uh, earn.

Just another reason I'm a conservative folks.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Faith isn't unreasonable

I sell for a company located in Springfield, Ohio: Electric Eel Manufacturing, which is where to go for all your drain cleaning needs. They make the best products on the market, and I say that not simply because I sell them but because it's true. But this is about more than that. It is about the people who make up the company, but also, I hope, about a little bit more.

As I drove there awhile back from Detroit, in the wee hours of the day, I was nearing a little town called North Baltimore. There is a truck stop at the exit for the town, and I often stop in for a respite, a coffee, or a snack. I was planning to do that this day but as I approached a little voice said, "Why don't you just go on?", and I thought, yeah, why not, might as well make some time. So I drove by.

Urbana, Ohio is about 30 miles from Springfield. I thought I might get a coffee that time around, and hit my left turn signal to run into a Tim Horton's. But that same voice said, "You're so close. Just get to the factory." So I thought again, I might ought to, and I am quite close. I went on.

I parked at the plant, took a few things into the front offices, and went back out to take my van to the loading dock to pick up my order. I turned the key, and was greeted by a simple little click which I recognized immediately. My starter had went out. But rather than being upset, even though I knew the repair would be costly and that my day would be seriously delayed, I right away thought that I was glad I was there and not in North Baltimore or Urbana.

In part I knew this was fortunate because the people at Eel, good folks all, would help me, and they did. We tried a jump start and a few other things which unfortunately didn't work, and then the shop foreman called their mechanic, who took me in right away. He had me fixed up and I was back at the plant by 11 O'clock, loading and getting ready to get back to Detroit much earlier than I had feared a few hours before.

I had told several friends earlier in the day about my almost stopping but not. I related this story to another fellow right before I left. John said simply, "It was the Holy Spirit." The instant he said that I agreed, "You're right. It was."

Now we might look at this in different ways. It could be objected that if it was God trying to help me, "You still needed an expensive van repair. Why would you be thankful to Him for that?" But we all know the obvious response, don't we? My situation would have been much worse in the earlier part of the day in more isolated places.

Still, this doesn't prove that it was the Holy Spirit. It is a matter of faith, mine and John's and surely several other folks at Electric Eel and among readers, that it was. And this leads to the key trouble which people not of faith have with such an insistence. They will themselves insist that such faith is irrational.

But is it rational, irrational, or in fact beyond reason? Being beyond reason doesn't mean that faith is wrong; it doesn't actually mean that faith is irrational either. I rather believe that faith, so long as it is not childish and thus genuinely irrational, is actually quite reasonable. Saying that you believe by faith that aardvarks speak English is obviously irrational, as any absurd assertion must be. As such, we can dismiss such a belief as not a true example of real faith. But the idea that an omnipotent, caring being might help us along the way is certainly not irrational. A faith in that sort of being most definitely cannot be called unreasonable.

Oh, you might argue that such a being doesn't exist. Yet that is a separate question, and we're already past that if we presume He does: if A, then B is logical on its own terms. It still fulfills any demand for rationality beyond simply holding the supposed blind faith which many of the seriously religious are accused of having.

I have faith that the Holy Spirit kept me going so that I could get easier help at my ultimate destination. I find the thought indeed eminently rational. You may not agree that that was the case. But I do think you're being unfair to say that my thoughts are therefore irrational. Even if you don't believe that was the case, at least don't think I childishly believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

If something of faith can pass or (at least not fail) the test of rationality then there is little reason to disregard it as merely a figment of the imagination. Don't dismiss it merely because it cannot be proven empirically. Faith simply is not belief without reason. It is belief beyond reason, perhaps, but it is not necessarily unreasonable.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Stop that kissing

My good friend Tony, a guy I've known since high school, stops in the Shop from time to time to say hi. I don't mind that.

He often brings his dog, which looks to me like a toy dog, a small poodle. I don't mind that either.

He'll often stand talking to my brother and I while holding the dog. I don't mind that at all. I might even pet the little furball myself.

He stopped by yesterday with the dog. Within a minute or two I had to take a call. While on the phone Tony's dog started licking his face. Tony started saying to his pet, cooing really, "Stop that kissing! Stop that kissing!"

I mind that. "Would you not do that when I'm at work on a business call?" I said. "What might that sound like to the customer?"


Thursday, January 11, 2018

The psychology of temperature

Look, I know it's in the low 50s today and I should be thankful for that. But I'm still going to wear my big Carhartt coat because I'm still cold. Hey, even I don't get it.

You take last weekend. I was as many of you know playing in a bonspiel in Detroit. While on the ice (and it was actually warmer in the arena than it was outside then) I was wearing a pullover over a t-shirt. That was it. It wasn't even a fleece or insulated pullover either, just a nylon pullover. And I was fine on the ice. Off the ice I got so cold I put on my winter coat as we sat in the warm viewing area talking after the games.

It makes me think of those first warm spring days when it's about 63. I rush to put on shorts and a tee. But a similar 63 degree morning in July and I'm scrounging for a jacket and sweat pants before my walk. I find myself thinking about turning on the heat.

The psychology of temperature. It's weird.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The confused customer conundrum

A customer called yesterday telling me he needed a reversing switch. I said come on down, I have them in stock. He came on down. But his reversing switch was not the problem.

My first clue, as I started to do the job, was the badly damaged cord which ran to the on/off switch which also had no on/off switch at the end. There were only exposed wires. "Where's your switch?" I naively asked.

"It's gone, Cosgriff."

Sighing heavily, I responded, "I see. Pray, where hath it gone? Towards what destination didst thou last spy it goeth?" Okay, I didn't say that. I said something like, what happened to it?

"It fell out of my hand when I was using it Sunday and hit the handle of the machine, breaking it and shorting my reverse switch."

Uh-huh. So that switch, a switch completely separate and distinct from the forward-reverse switch, broke, and that broke your reverse switch. Yes, Cosgriff.

I set to work opening the reverse switch box, thence finding my second clue. The clamp which secures the cord to the missing on/off switch was bent upwards; the cord itself ran through an open hole unsecured. "Nobody touched this?" I asked, knowing somebody touched it.

"Nope, Cosgriff."

"Because I would not have left this like that," I explained dryly. "Neither would my brother Phil. It would not have come from the factory like this. So we didn't do it."

Ignoring my unassailable logic he replied with a straight face, "Nobody touched it Cosgriff."

I took the cover from the box, removed the reverse switch, and took all the wires off of it. I wired the switch directly to the power cord so that the machine would start as soon as I plugged it in, if the reverse switch was okay. The machine ran. Both directions. "So I don't need a reverse switch, Cosgriff?" the customer asked, with a wide grin and the delight of a child at Christmas.

"Well, no," I kind of sort of chuckled. "But you need a cord for your on/off switch and an on/off switch. You're looking at 90 bucks installed."

"Aw, Cosgriff, you told me 40 bucks on the phone!" he protested.

Calmly yet pointedly I responded, "I told you 40 for a reverse switch installed. That wasn't the problem. You stood right here as I showed you that."

"So I need 90 dollars to fix it?" he queried. Yes, I answered, even though we had just established the fact. I fixed it, he paid me, he left.

I guess my question is, was I the idiot there?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Reflections on the 2018 Detroit Curling Club Men's International Bonspiel

It was a good weekend. No, check that: it was a great weekend. I curled for only the second time this season. The boys played well in front of me and we won the C Event in this past weekend's DCC Men's curling tournament. I don't think I faced a tough shot with any of my stones, so credit them with the bronze medal. And we had to win our last three games to win the C, so it was no easy ride.

I saw many friends whom I had not seem this curling season, both at the Detroit club where the bonspiel was held and from the Roseland Curling Club in Windsor, Ontario which I've curled out of for about 25 years now, and from several other area clubs. Many of then know I haven't curled much due to my vertigo or whatever the hell it actually is I'm dealing with, and their friendship and encouragement was profound and gratefully acknowledged. Walking up to accept the trophy, I heard several say 'Way to go, Marty' or offer other such encouragement. For a couple seconds there I thought I'd get emotional. We can't have that.

My team and I have great chemistry. We chatter and joke a lot when we're playing well. It either keeps us loose or is a symptom that we are loose, and when we're loose we're a very good local team. The only really bad end I played all weekend was the 8th end of our second Saturday game, when I let myself get knotted up over making my shots. I missed them as a result, so Sunday we made it a point to stay loose. I just hope it didn't bother the other teams. You want to win, but not like that.

Will I ever curl again? Probably. Will I curl again this year? I don't know, but I kind of doubt it. I'm still seeing doctors, and about every two or three weeks I have severe dizzy spells which come on so suddenly I can't seem to anticipate them, and are debilitating enough that I can't effectively function for four to six hours. It's scary and a major concern but the MDs can't find an explanation. I don't want to hurt me or anyone else while on the ice. I had issues several times rising up out of my delivery and while squatting down in the house to call the line on a shot. My third, Nick, was even nosing me out of the way so that he could sweep a stone rather than me, just to help avoid an attack. That sort of consideration shows me that my curling friends have my back. It was even shown through facebook and messenger as the weekend went on. It's why I love 'em.

I'm not ready to say I'm back. And I don't want to make a health decision too quickly based on euphoria. Yet for one weekend anyway, all was right with the world.