Posted on November 22nd, 2015
The other day I was called by a single mom and asked to assemble her son’s shiny new bicycle. It was his birthday gift, and the task of building such a thing was a little beyond her comfort level or ability. Since I have known them both for quite some time, and because I have become somewhat of an expert on handyman-type stuff, I was the guy she called.
The project didn’t take me long at all, with my bag of tools and a glass of iced tea. And as I later stood and looked at the completed bike, I thought back about my own memories of my childhood BMX.
When I turned 7, I came downstairs in the morning to see a brand-new BMX bicycle. This contrasted with what I had before in several ways. First of all, the banana-seated, yellow monstrosity that was in my family’s garage could have never been described with the word “new.” It was a faded yellow, and not a cool sports car yellow, but the kind of yellow that is not complete unless speckled with copious amounts of rust. It had a sissy-bar behind the seat followed by a large rear fender. But, the handlebars were really the coup-de-gras. I have never since seen such a deep U-shape, and they terminated in plastic hand grips that I’m sure at one time had streamers dandily flowing in the wind. No, I suspect the word “new” was barely applicable even when it was purchased from the Sear’s Catalogue sometime around 1963.
I had acquired it on a Saturday morning when my mom returned home from a garage sale. Even though it was so early in my life that my memories seem like the dream sequence in a bad soap opera, I remember instinctively knowing that this had the potential of both causing me to be beaten up by other boys, but also to pay large amounts of money to therapists throughout my adulthood. I can’t blame my mom, though. She knew that I was a boy, and a boy needed a bicycle. She also knew that we couldn’t afford to buy a new one, and this was the best that a single mom could do.
Also, this hunk of metal and rubber could not be called a “bicycle” either. It did have two wheels and pedals, but inherent in the definition of a bicycle is that it can be used as transportation, which this could not. While this art piece was a sight to behold, I could not actually ride it, no matter how hard I tried, and oh how I did try.
After several months of flopping over, I decided that I was the sort of boy that was somehow just dysfunctional. I wasn’t the bicycle riding type, I was the—being pushed for a few feet and then falling into the rose bushes type. So, at the risk of death I decided to just look at it and avoid it, rather than spend more time de-thorning myself.
What we didn’t know, was that whoever owned it in the past had been in some accident that left the frame bent, possibly an intentional crash to desperately avoid being seen riding it. Lance Armstrong himself could not have ridden it after such a distortion. This problem was finally discovered when my grandfather (who I never saw ride any bicycle before this or after—and could barely drive a car) hopped on and promptly crashed sideways into the aforementioned rose bushes.
Eventually, my mom began dating the man who after a time became my stepfather, and on my birthday a new BMX sat in our living room. It was beautiful. It had chrome everything. The handlebars were not U-shaped. In fact, they were beautifully straight. The seat looked like a bicycle seat, not a banana. There were cushioned wraps that protected you when you did awesome dirt-bike tricks that the neighborhood boys would gaze at in wonder and never consider beating you up…ever, and no sissy-bar at all, saving tons of future money on psychotherapy. It was amazing, and it was mine.
Shortly after breakfast, we went across the street to a church parking lot to see if I could ride it, where my new step-dad announced, “He won’t need those training wheels. Let’s take them off.” And you know what? He was right. He pushed me for a bit, and then released me, and I rode…alone…without falling. The feeling of freedom was one I would never forget. I was the bike-riding type of boy. I could do it after all.
I’d like to say that was the start of many things my step-dad taught me about how to be a man, but that would be a lie. I can count on one hand the number of times he spent any appreciable time with me teaching me anything. The truth is, when I work on my lawnmower engine, remodel a bedroom, or assemble a bicycle for a friend’s kid, it is mostly because I’ve somehow figured out how to do it all on my own (or at least from watching YouTube). I’ve learned to enjoy doing those things out of necessity and challenge, not from some formative childhood apprenticeship, but I have learned to do them.
So, as I stood there looking at this boy’s new birthday bike I had great hopes for him. I know that I could never be to him anything like the father every boy needs. God has placed men in his life who love him and I have to trust God to follow that process through. And I hope that maybe someday he’ll get a call from some woman he knows, asking him to assemble a shiny new birthday bike. —Ryan
Posted on March 6th, 2015
This is the final installment of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
When I went off to college most of my interaction with Ruby stopped. I was far away from her. She loved my mom and was fulfilled in her inner-dog. I would see her from time to time, and she was always as happy as a dog could be for us to visit. She was also always eager to prove that she knew all of her old tricks.
She was never one to spend a lot of time outside and never one to wander away from home. Some dogs are always trying to dig their way under the fence, or jump over it—but not Ruby. She preferred a warm couch to the great outdoors. This makes it very strange that she got out of the yard one day while I was away at college.
In my head, I imagine that she must have been in the yard chasing butterflies, while the gate was somehow accidentally open. Suddenly she found herself alone in the front of the house in a different place than her usual walking route. She was scared and alone. For her it was no different than if you or I woke up suddenly in Somalia.
I know it sounds like I am really anthropomorphizing in this case. I tend to believe all of the science that I read about animals. Dogs don’t feel complex emotions like unfulfilled angst because their owner didn’t read them their favorite story at bedtime. But anyone who knew Ruby could tell that she really did somehow operate on a different plane than other dogs. She had deep emotions and complex thoughts. This was a dog who would get her leash when you’d ask if she wanted to go for a walk. And I’m sure this was less out of repeated training, and more because she just didn’t feel secure without this important safety device.
This all meant that Ruby had never learned how to do the things that a city dog must know in order to survive in the urban wild. She was hit by a car. Her pelvis was broken in multiple places, her tail was snapped, and she had some internal hemorrhaging.
Ruby was also indestructible. What would have killed Underdog didn’t faze Ruby. Yes, she had surgery, a tail-ectomy, and spent months in a cast and traction. But she learned to walk again, got used to wagging a stump, and eventually was able to do most of her old tricks, albeit slower and lower to the ground.
But Ruby, the wonderdog was not immortal. She did eventually go the way of all flesh, but our memory or her goes on. There is a special bond between a dog and her owner. Argos, Hachiko, and Old Yeller are just as immortal in people’s minds as are the Founding Fathers or the great philosophers. However, to me Ruby will always be greatest in the dog-pantheon. She remains the best dog I’ve ever known. I love her. I miss her, and I can’t wait to see her do all her old tricks again someday in heaven.—Ryan
Posted on March 4th, 2015
This is part 4 of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
Ruby made it through her bout with the disease. The virus took a lot out of her, but she survived, and she eventually returned to the same pup we’d known before. There was no doubt that she loved us, in an emotional and committed way. There was also no doubt that we loved her and would never give her away again.
As her strength returned, I decided that all of her innate talent should not go to waste. I taught her commands in triplicate, English, German (which I was learning in high school), and hand signals. She learned all of this effortlessly. If I told her to stay, or held up my hand fingers up- palm facing her, she would stay for as long as I left her. Sometimes something would happen and she’d forget, but not usually. If I got distracted and left her there, sometimes I’d find her hours later asleep in the same spot.
Her best trick was one that took a little more doing (she learned it in less than a day), and I honestly don’t remember exactly how I taught her. She would jump through a hoop if I held it up and said “jump.” But, if I took the hoop and crouched down, holding the hoop in front and over my head, she’d run, jump onto my back, and off my back through the hoop. She’d do it every time, and the very instant that I told her to.
Ruby grew to a little larger than her mother. A mutt that I dubbed a “Schnoodle-Wieiner,” she looked exactly like Benji (the 70’s movie dog), except a bit smaller. She had a dark brown tail, light red short hairs, longer somewhat curly blonde hairs that covered that, and sparser dark brown straight hairs. On the whole, she was a light brown color with darker brown ears that flopped slightly forward, shorter than a dachshund’s but similarly shaped.
She was a little neurotic. She’d lick things, mostly the carpet, in a compulsive manner when she was bored. And she was obsessed with having her chest rubbed. That was where she wanted to be petted most.
If I were in a chair, Ruby would walk up to my foot and move over it with her chest (between her front legs and under her head) and rub her chest back and forth on my foot until I would move my foot to rub it myself. If I stopped, she would back up, take her foot and paw my foot to tell me to start again. To her this was the best thing going. It was just something that we shared, and a way that she wanted to be petted.—Ryan
Posted on February 28th, 2015
This is part 3 of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
Weeks later, one of the women called us and told my mom that they just couldn’t keep Ruby anymore. She said that it was all just too much for them to handle. I suspect that I’ll never quite know the truth of the matter. Had my mom called them? Had Ruby just refused to acclimate and accept them as a substitute family? Had they just decided that a dog just wasn’t right for them? In hindsight, I’m sure they were more cat people. Or could it be that they knew something that they didn’t want to deal with? I’ll never know.
Regardless of the reasons, they brought her back. They had renamed her Murphy Brown after the TV character (a lesbian hero of sorts at the time). They said they had taught her some commands, like “walkies-walkies,” which apparently let her know that it was time to take a walk. Interestingly enough, I never could get her to respond to “Murphy” at all. I tried some experiments to test it, but she didn’t even appear to hear me. In fact, it seemed that I could get her to respond to all sorts of words that weren’t even close to her name, but Murphy was not one of them. “Walkies-walkies” seemed to be no different.
Dogs will respond often more to the tone of voice than they will to the actual words you are saying. Some research has shown that they only actually hear the stressed syllable of the word you use. But Murphy and Ruby both have the “y” stressed. Whenever I’d say “Murphy” it was almost like she’d gone temporarily deaf. I could say “dog” and she’d look up, or various even made up words that would catch her attention. But “Murphy” even applying the same tone, and masking my disdain she would never even hear.
They had returned our dog, but something was wrong. She was lethargic and she wouldn’t eat. She barely even acted happy to see us at all. After several days of this, we suspected that something more was wrong. So we took her to the vet and they did some tests.
Ruby tested positive for canine parvovirus, a serious disease that dogs can get. A virus, spread through infected droppings and even the soil it has touched, “Parvo” is fatal to about 50% of dogs. The ones that survive often have lasting problems, particularly in the digestive tract. Infected dogs must be isolated and medicated. We left ruby at the vet for treatment and prayed that she would survive.—Ryan
Posted on February 25th, 2015
This is part 2 of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
Ruby quickly became an indispensable part of the family. She would crawl on top of my back and fall asleep as I lied on the carpet watching TV each night. She would also wake up shortly before I would and start scratching at my door to get in. My mom would usually get to her before that and would lift her onto my bed. Ruby would wake me up by repeatedly licking my face.
When she grew big enough, she would jump onto my bed herself and wake me up in the same manner. Or, she’d just jump repeatedly at the side of the bed making a whining noise until I noticed her. This mostly happened when I was lying too close to the edge for her to get up there.
Waking up to something licking your face is strange. It is sloppy and startling, but not at all unpleasant. The blare of an alarm clock is a cold and sterile method as compared to a companion showing you how much she loves you and wants you to be with her. I have never been able to cajole anyone into waking me in the same manner in my adult life.
She would collect my socks if I left them on the floor. I’d find them in a pile somewhere later, or under the couch where she’d hide them if they were exquisitely smelly. I later trained her to put them into the clothes hamper when she found them.
And that was really what made Ruby so special. She was smart and easy to train, but less so because of her intellect. It was all mostly because she would do anything to please me. I never gave her treats as a reward, but if I told her “good dog” and gave her a rub on her chest she would continue whatever it was she thought she’d done to deserve it, and would never forget it.
I loved Ruby. My mom loved her too, but my mom is really sensitive in a way that I am not. I insisted that we get rid of Ruby, because we had 2 dogs and a cat already. Ruby would have to make some other family happy. So we took an ad out in the paper.
Two ladies responded to the ad. They came to take Ruby home to their apartment. A middle-aged lesbian couple (or so I assumed), they seemed nice and answered all of our questions reassuringly. So we adopted Ruby out and she exited our lives.
My mom took it hard. I was sad too, but I knew that she would be happy and that we’d get over it. But my mom never did. Day after day, and into several weeks my mom was seriously depressed over this. She’d cry and sulk. It seemed like she’d never come out of it. But Ruby’s story, and certainly our involvement in it, was definitely not over.—Ryan
Posted on February 22nd, 2015
When I was about 8 years old I spent all of the paper-route money that I’d saved up on a red wiener-dog puppy. We named the dachshund Cassie, and she quickly became part of the family. She was everything a wiener-dog is. She was loyal and strong-willed, loud, and heat-seeking. She would wake up every morning at about 7:30, just 5 minutes before the pool equipment came on, begging to be let outside. She would then spend the next hour chasing the automatic sweeper around the pool barking. The neighbors must have hated us and we’d tell her to shut up, but she didn’t care. It was her game, but truly she did despise that thing. But this little essay isn’t about Cassie.
As I entered high school it was one of the most difficult periods in my life, and we’d moved to a new house out in the country. The nearest neighbors were a 5 minute walk from our door. They had a small male half schnauzer-half poodle that occasionally got out of their yard. He was wiry and skittish. I never really knew him at all, but he clearly had an interest in Cassie.
In the country it is easier for mischief, probably because of a combination of boredom and isolation from prying eyes. But regardless of the reason, something illicit happened in the cover of the olive grove, and several weeks later we noticed that Cassie was growing quite a belly.
She delivered her three puppies one evening before we’d returned from visiting my Great Aunt Ruby on her birthday. Two of the puppies were larger than I thought would have even fit inside of Cassie, coal black, and stillborn. The only one that survived was the runt of the litter, a truly odd looking animal. She was pretty in a unique way, but developed 3 different types of fur in layers, a tail that never matched the rest of her color, and intense light-brown eyes.
Cassie didn’t appear that interested in the new pup, which we named Ruby as our own sort of tribute. I picked Ruby up in my hands and marveled at the little helpless creature. I’ll never forget her little ears which were just tiny tabs on the sides of her head, like small extended folds. Most mother dogs will growl if their puppies are touched, but Cassie didn’t care. In my mind, she was stressed from the birth, so removed from most animal instinct, and really just sad that 2 of her babies had died. So she just didn’t care that I was touching her puppy. I know this is anthropomorphizing, but that is what I thought, and I’m still inclined to believe that was true…Ryan
Posted on January 31st, 2015
Every year I create my predictions for the year ahead. It seems like I’m beating an old horse to explain this, but once again this is not astrology or psychic power (as you might realize by reading my analysis of 2014’s predictions). I’m just making my best guess as to what the news in the coming year might include. No one reads this anyway, so I really just do it as a game for myself.
I wrote these down on the first week of January because my website hosting has been a bit of a debacle lately. I have witnesses to this, if anyone wants to doubt me. So, without further adieu…
- Hilary Clinton will announce her candidacy for President, probably in late summer through the end of November. There will be a strong and active lead-up to this. They will also attempt to hide Bill as much as possible, at least until Summer.
- Republicans will announce throughout 2015. It will be a large group. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul will all be really active in 2015. You’ll hear from them a lot. They will all likely run.
- Who won’t run? Elizabeth Warren, and in a break with tradition…Joe Biden won’t jump in either.
- Obama will veto lots and lots of legislation. The Democrat’s story will still be “the do-nothing Congress, that won’t work bipartisanly.” Interestingly, many Dems will vote on measures like the Keystone pipeline, but won’t vote to override the veto. Because of that, it will be surprising how few times there will even be post-veto votes. This is Democrat strategy so that the Dems can claim to have voted for issues that they never supported.
- A Supreme Court vacancy will come up. Ruth Ginsburgh is looking likely to me. This will likely be tied to health-related issues. When it happens, it will happen fast.
- The Conservatives will get a big court win on either Benghazi, IRS bad behavior, Obamacare, Executive actions, and/or Obama’s immigration action.
- More gay marriage court action legalizing gay marriage. The Supreme Court will rule favorably to gay marriage, maybe steering clear of a sweeping legalization. Gay marriage states will increase.
- Radio Shack bankrupt—and gone. ***I wrote this one down 5 days prior to the news on January 15th that Radio Shack would likely file for Chapter 11 in the first week of February. I’m not saying that it was a long shot then, but there had been no announcement.
- At some point this year the Fed will increase the interest rate
- The “Internet of things” will really visibly increase. This will also be due to the falling prices of Internet-connective things.
- There will be news of companies doing wacky viral-esque stunts. Some of these will be really cool (look for socially conscious stuff) and some will be massively embarrassing failures.
- There will be a big number of attempted terrorist attacks in Europe and America. Some of these might be successful. The attacks this year in Paris are only the beginning. Europe will be the new front for a lot of Muslim violence.
- Iran will not follow through with its nuclear deal with the US
- Russia will have more military actions, possibly in Ukraine and maybe including Belarus.
- A-la cart TV on the Internet will finally come to fruition, and not just with a couple of channels like HBO. Some channels will do this through their websites and some will partner with existing providers like Netfilx and Amazon.
- There will be much more talk from the Left on “income inequality,” minimum wage, the rich getting richer, especially in the first half of the year.
- You’ll start hearing the term “Fast-Laning,” This will be one of the words of the year. There will be a rise in no-wait services and products—many through company apps.
- There will be a consumer backlash against product false claims. Companies will be held more accountable to what they say they can do.
- Early in the year expect a North Korean nuclear test, followed by belligerence, followed by an announced deal. All of this will take place before mid-summer.
- Facebook will further monetize. Look for possible corporate deals. They will possibly develop in-Facebook shopping and/or “pay with Facebook” ewallet technology.
Posted on January 29th, 2015
Every year as is tradition, I do my prediction for the upcoming year. I think that 2014 was actually my worst track record so far. Anyone wants to score himself well on this kind of test, but I promise to be fair. So, before I show my 2015 list, let me do my best to score my picks from 2014. My comments will be in purple.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average high on January 1st was 16,500+. On the last trading day of the year, The Dow will be a net loss (under 16,500) for the year. I am guessing that there will be a large correction period this year, but it could also be from fallout from a major political event, or a world event.
OK, this wasn’t even close. The Dow Jones ended the year over 18,000. There was one dip in mid-October to under 16,500, but other than that moment, the stock market was on a rocket upwards the whole year. By the way, that is the case for every year since 2010. It seems nonsensical to me, which is why I made the prediction. It still seems like a house of cards, but in January of last year, I was…
- There will be a major political change in North Korea. I cannot see the Kim Jung Un regime lasting another 12 months. I know that part of North Korea’s strategy is to appear weaker than it actually is (see Stratfor’s analysis), but I think the regime is more tenuous than many believe. This regime change will likely come from an internal coup rather than an external invasion. I must admit that this is more wish than anything, but I do believe this has a good likelihood.
There was the time that Little Kim disappeared for a few weeks, but all-in-all the story of the year was North Korea’s quiet. We barely heard a peep out of them. They’ve got to be getting antsy, but at least for 2014 I was…
- The NSA related security issue will be one of the biggest stories of 2014, just like it was this year. However, part of 2014′s story will be about the private sector trying to both solve consumers’ desire for security. There will be new products and maybe even new companies creating products and services to safeguard consumers’ private data. Some of these will be mostly hoaxes, although there might be some new creative technology. There will also be a rising popular push for keeping private information off of the internet
I think I did quite well on this one. The NSA and data was a huge story in 2014. There was the launch of the new iPhone with data encryption (much to the consternation of the government) and there were quite a number of new businesses founded (see several interviews with Mark Cuban about 3 separate businesses he’s invested in over the last yar). I count this one…
- There is a high likelihood of Israel being a much more significant newsmaker than last year. The possibility of a strike on Iran has increased significantly after the last American and Iranian presidential elections. The ramifications of this would also be huge. Even if there is no Israeli strike on Iran, I believe there will be significant West Bank/Palestinian related violence, perhaps even another intifada.
This is a perennial pick for me. I am always bearish on the Israel situation. It isn’t really schadenfreude. But, as compared to usual, it was not a violent year in 2014, so I’m…
- Gas prices will end the year lower than the $3.12 they are at now.
Average US gas price on the last day of the year: about $2,20. Enough said, but just for fun…
- Hollywood movies will be remarkably more upbeat in tone than they were in 2013. This will be especially true of the Summer Blockbusters, which will feature less apocalypse porn than in recent years.
Number 3 is harder to examine. This is because a couple of the movies are mixed. For instance, (not counting movies that started in late December, but earned their money mostly in 2015) the biggest movie of 2014 was Hunger Games: Mokingjay. This was certainly an post-apocalyptic-type tale, but it is the turn of the story where things become hopeful. So I think it doesn’t count for or against my prediction. Of the other movies in the top 10, the only one that could be considered true apocalypse-porn is the Transformers movie (please stop watching Michael Bay movies, people). It is hard for me to count that as even a true movie. I think most would agree that movies seemed less angsty this last year. So…
- Hilary Clinton will formally announce her candidacy for President this Summer. She will announce this Spring that she is going on a “listening tour” and will announce her presidency surrounded by a sense that people are crying out for her to run.
Give me some credit. She did go to Iowa and around the country on a listening tour. Everyone knows she will run. There is a “Time for Hilary” Pac. In 2014, everyone assumed that her presidency was a foregone conclusion, at least until everyone realized how much they hated Obama. She didn’t declare, But at least give me 40% on this one. Let’s say…
I’m going to give myself a C on that one. I get 3.5 our of 6 This is the worst I’ve done. It seems to me that a D would be 50-50 in this case, and an F would be more wrong than right (I’m not going by true percentages).
Posted on September 15th, 2014
I have a wide, white squeegee* in my shower. Occasionally, although not often enough for me to avoid feeling guilty, I will remember to use this squeegee to get the water off of my shower tiles after bathing. I suppose that this is intended to keep the shower clean and mildew free, but that isn’t really why I have the squeegee at all.
My grandfather had a similar squeegee in his shower when I was a kid. The shower was small, but had large mint green tiles. Nothing else matched that color in the bathroom. I always wondered if he had the shower done all in green as some secret surprise in an otherwise bland earth-toned bathroom. People would use the restroom and never know the wonderful secret that lurked hidden behind that frosted glass door. But I suppose in reality, the shower had always been that color and was just not updated some time before my birth when the bathroom had been remodeled.
I remember when I was a child, old enough to not only take baths but still young enough to be instructed on shower basics, my Granddad told me the importance of the squeegee, and showed me how to use it. He used meticulously placed downward strokes, with even pressure through the whole motion with the care that my grandfather used in almost everything he did. It made that beautiful shhthwhack sound that every squeegee makes. It is a pleasing sound, maybe just to me, but I suspect everyone likes it.
That is why I always have had one in my shower, I suppose. All because my little brain tape recorder was fed the instruction that after a shower the tile must be dried, and that every shower must contain a squeegee. When I am in a hotel I often feel a little bit robbed when I don’t see one in the shower. I don’t know why. It is obviously the maid’s job to clean it, and that is far more often than anyone’s home shower would get any such attention at all.
I got to thinking about this kind of thing recently while visiting a really odd church on some anonymous Sunday morning. Some of the people were friendly enough, but the service had a lot of weird things that nobody explained. They weren’t weird in a cultish way, but in some cultural expressions that they didn’t bother explaining. It was like celebrating Christmas with a family other than your own, and at dinner they serve Hot Pockets. Even though it seems really odd, but you feel too shy to ask.
Anyway, during the church service I saw a mid-twenties aged man in the front row. He had one son with him, probably about 5 years old. The man got down on his knees in worship and his son knelt quickly down next to him. The man raised one hand in worship then two, and the son followed suit each time. The child kept his head pointed toward his dad the whole time so that he wouldn’t miss even some small motion.
He was learning how to worship, and some day 30 years from now, he’ll be in the front row of the church on his knees and he won’t know why, other than that this is the best way to worship God. It will be stuck in his little recorder, part of his functional DNA, and he also won’t understand why some other dude only worships in the back bobbing his head.
There is this bird in Australia called the Lyrebird. It is different than the birds that congregate outside my window and wake me up in the morning. Each spring morning I hear the chip-chirp-cheeee of the Warblers repeatedly until I either submit to the headache or wake up and shower. But that is the only song that they know. They do it repeatedly throughout their lives. They are programmed to sing that.
But the Lyrebird doesn’t do things that way. He takes the sounds of other birds in his forest and repeats them, weaving them all into his own little song. He mimics them perfectly. If he hears a chain saw or a camera, he does those sounds too. You’d swear it was the real thing. All these sounds put together into a song. It is the life of the forest in one medley-remix. The camera and chainsaw aren’t that melodious by themselves, but the Lyrebird makes it melodious.
I hope I’m kind of like that Lyrebird. When I swim I think about the time as a child that my dad explained to me how sound travels faster in water than in air. When I cook I repeat actions I learned long ago from my mom and grandma. And there is a squeegee in my shower. I want to believe it is my beautiful song with my own spin on the melody. I don’t want to be just a Warbler, repeating the same thing endlessly. I think we are pretty inventive as people, but in a beautiful way, we’re often just repeating the forest sounds of our youth. -Ryan
Posted on August 3rd, 2014
I worked in management for Sears throughout college. It was a good job that treated me well and gave me a great opportunity to build a business management resume that has benefited me throughout my whole adult life. But that was a very different Sears that I have seen over the last 10 years.
Last week, I was on lunch and decided to pull up a YouTube video of Chris Tomlin (a Christian worship music artist) singing a song I’d hurt at church the weekend prior. As most of us know, YouTube regularly plays videos of sponsored content (a.k.a ads) before your chosen video. It is part of the monetization that Google brings to all of its products. When a company pays for an ad to run, they specify all of the criteria that will determine who sees the video. This includes thing like the geographic location of the watcher, the viewer’s history, and the specific thing searched for, as well as everything in between. I’m simplifying the process, but it is nearly infinitely customizable, ensuring that the only people who see your video are the exact people you want to see it.
So, I search for Chris Tomlin and the title of the worship song (I don’t remember right now exactly which song it was) and I click on the video. Before my video starts to play, this is the ad I see (feel free not to watch the whole thing):
I skipped the ad when it gave me a chance and watched my worship video, but the more I thought about it the more upset I became. I can’t think of a YouTube history on my account that would have been pertinent or anything else that makes sense…unless either they were putting that out to everyone, or they were specifically targeting people watching worship videos.
So, I took to Twitter, incredulous that Sears would be so insensitive. The screenshot from my Tweet, and Sears’ response not long after, are below.
It is 2014, know. I am not surprised by a company supporting homosexual marriage. I don’t like it, but I know it happens. I don’t support the homosexual mafia attacking companies like Chik-fil-a simply because their CEO said that he believes a marriage is between a man and a woman. But most of all, I can’t support the incredible rudeness of a company deliberately attacking the morality of Christians in this way. Whether their Tweet to me was an automatic response to mine or not, it doesn’t matter.
I’m not one to start a boycott and get worked up over anything secular. I think that secular complies not guided by Christians will not act Christian. However, companies that deliberately attack Christians is another story altogether.
You know why they do it? They do it because they know that they will insult us and treat us disrespectfully in whatever ways they choose, and we will buy their products just the same. We might post a Facebook complaint and feel like we accomplished something, but as soon as the next sale comes along, we will open up our wallets again.
For me, it stops here. I have drawn a line in the sand. I have a lot of Craftsman tools and a Sears credit card. I’m canceling the card and have bought my last tool from them.
Incidentally, if you want the story behind the video (which I actually haven’t seen in its entirety), Sears sponsored a float in the recent Chicago homosexual parade. On that float they had 4 homosexual couples getting “married” and this video was celebrating that.
Next time you buy a Sears product, know that is where some of your money is going. If you support that, then great. If you don’t, you are supporting it anyway with your money.
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