Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Brief Summary of Christianity and Other World Religions, Told in Simple Allegory

Right after school started at 8:00, everyone was given the following letter:

Hi everyone!
It’s me, your Dad. I love you all! I enjoyed our time together before you went to school this morning. I’ll be there in a little while to pick you up; in the meantime, I’ve given Jacob a list of simple rules and chores.
Jacob, you will be responsible for helping to keep things in order until mid-morning when the Teacher gets there. Everyone else, listen to Jacob, because he’s in charge – not yourselves or the others in the neighborhood!
About mid-morning, the Teacher will teach for a little while, and Jacob will (begrudgingly, I’m sure) relinquish his responsibility. After that, why don’t you all just enjoy one another’s company and wait for me to get back? Stay at the playground and make sure to be fair to each other. I am pleased with the Teacher, so follow His example. Remember, don’t talk to strangers! I will be there sometime before 12:00; be ready.

Love always, Your Father.

P.S. We’re gonna have a lot of fun when we get home!
P.P.S. Those of you who cause trouble or who aren’t ready are going to miss out; be ready! And those of you who disobey are going into time-out – you know better!

Here’s how everyone responded:

• Jacob, in his excitement, and the Jews stopped reading after the second paragraph. This created a rift with everyone else, especially the Teacher.
• One of Father’s casual acquaintances interrupted the Muslims after the first paragraph; they didn’t read the rest of the letter. Anyone who had followed Jacob, past or present, got on their bad side, and they chose the stranger for their teacher.
• The Catholics systemized everything on the playground, and pushed many of the others away, especially by deciding some were more favored by Father than others were.
• The Anglicans and Episcopalians split off from the Catholics, but ended up doing things pretty much the same stuff.
• The Baptists and Methodists argued with one another the whole time about whether or not Father was using military time, but otherwise just hung out and avoided the Catholics.
• The Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and a few others, didn’t want to enjoy the others’ company and sometimes were beaten up. They mimicked the Teacher, but sometimes forgot the letter itself.
• The Calvinists and Presbyterians were bored and napped until 11:59.
• The Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are pretty sure it’s 12:00 right now.
• The Latter-Day Saints found another letter that seemed to be from Father, and started doing things a little differently, especially since one of them seemed to have Father on the phone.
• The agnostics decided there was no way to know that the letter was from Father.
• The atheists decided that the letter wasn’t real and that school would simply stop after 12:00, with nothing after it.
• The evangelists ran around with the letter, picking it apart and yelling about 12:00. They meant well.
• The New Age-ers thought they’d gotten this letter before.
• The 3rd World tribes and other isolated folk had to be taught how to read the letter; then they’d often go join one of the other groups.
• The Satanists and Wiccans decided that everyone was in charge. They broke lots of rules.
• The Scientologists got so imaginative they convinced themselves Father was an alien.
• The Hindi, Buddhists, Taoists, and many others went off and played with strangers.
• The littlest children played well, learned a lot from the Teacher, and had innocent fun until Father came to get them.

[Exposition: From “the beginning” until 6:00am, God created everything but man. From 6:00 to 8:00 He creates and spends time with man before the Fall. The letter represents the Bible. The first paragraph is the Torah. The second paragraph completes the Old Testament. The third paragraph is the New Testament; the Teacher is Jesus Christ. “12:00” represents the Second Coming. The post scripts are the Book of Revelations. The bullet-point analyses are simplified analogies of how various groups interpret “the letter”; many are tongue-in-cheek and meant to be somewhat humorous. The final bullet point is the only group that followed the Letter exactly (Matthew 18:3).]

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You make me sick?

I'm going to now write about something that I've only shared with a handful of people in my life. Chances are you'll think I'm full of crap. Or simply not understand. Or think I'm vying for attention. Or, most likely, you'll not even read it, so it won't matter anyway. Regardless, I want to talk about it, so there!
For as long as I can remember, at least as far back as elementary school, I have struggled sometimes with being around too many people. And by struggled, I mean that it can cause me anything from a massive headache, to anxiety attacks, to even physically becoming sick and throwing up. I remember even at my birthday parties in elementary school, some of which had 30-ish kids running around, suddenly getting nauseous and running outside to puke. In high school band, we'd occasionally have field trips to huge competitions with tons of people, or visits to big theme parks like Six Flags or Disney; at some point I'd get a terrible headache and/or sick to my stomach. The local fair has always been one of the worst experiences with it; I have refused to go since middle school. Big shopping days, like the day after Thanksgiving, do it to me; I remember once or twice at a teen going shopping with the family and eventually ending up incapacities; most of the time, I'd buy a book or some drawing paper and go wait in the van. Much of the visiting Wal-Mart does it to me regardless of whether there's a special shopping day involved; I usually just wait until late at night if I have to go there. I remember it happening at the few parties I attended, school dances, or clubs. Even at family get-togethers, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, I've had it - I'll just be visiting, then the headache will hit; I'll try to withdraw until, at some point, I finally have to go puke my guts out and lay down. Obviously, in all of these cases, it makes feel guilty and makes the others involved feel awkward or downright offended. When I go to events with more than just a few people anymore, I simply sit and attempt to control myself - I'll pray, or focus on the TV, read, or even meditate. That way I can make the social appearance and hopefully not get sick.
I've researched it a lot. The most obvious prognosis is that the problem is somewhat psychosomatic. For instance, let's say that, in general, I have a problem with confidence, or perhaps a problem with social environments; so, as a defense mechanism, my body creates these physical issues to give me reason to excuse myself from the situation. The problem with that is that, with friends and family, I don't believe that I -have- a social personality disorder or confidence. At parties, band trips, and family get-togethers I truly -want- to participate! Of course, one could argue that my wanting to be there is a conscious social device, but that subconsciously I would rather not be there, so the psychosomatic idea remains validated.
Another prognosis could simply be anxiety in general; within the last year, I've been diagnosed with anxiety issues potentially stemming back into my youth. There's certainly no question that it manifest itself occasionally the eight years I was general manager for Papa John's. Anxiety attacks are known to cause headaches and nausea, among other things. Once again, it seems that it would have to be some subconscious issue, though, because in -most- of the above circumstances, I -want- to be there! My anxiety episodes which I have consciously recognized have often been related to organization problems, being late, feeling inadequate, etc. But never around my friends and family! So again, it's possible that that's the issue, but it still doesn't sit right with me. I can't recall, as a musician who's played countless weddings and luncheons, numerous solo performances and rock band performances, school band solos (not to mention that I was the only synth player in the school band, making me stick out pretty easily), and piano recitals, ever having had the anxiety, headaches, or nausea; if anything, I'd have the typical butterflies and sweaty palms that everyone experiences at some point. Heck, I even commandeered (more like my friend Gary commandeered for me) the piano bar one night on a Caribbean cruise ship, playing for over an hour for the dinner crowd, packing the entire room, and taking requests!
So, when viewing the previous couple of potential prognoses, it doesn't really add up.
Then, there's the "new age" concept that I read about once that might truly explain it; I'll save that for tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home PC Maintenance for the OCD

Do you ever feel like you organize your way into disorganization? That’s how I’ve been all my life. I spend so much time planning, decluttering, organizing, re-organizing, etc., that what I really end up with is a big mess.

“It’s my mess, and I like it'” – From an old poster I had on the wall when I was a kid.

Well, my digital life is the same way. My music has to be properly sorted into folders by artist, then album; MP3 tags must be correct. My photos and pictures must be sorted – if it’s art, it’s sorted by artist; if it’s a personal photograph, it’s sorted by person or subject-matter. Funny stuff, icons, wallpapers, astronomy pics and art, video game screenshots – they all get their own folders and sub-folders.

My documents are all specifically sorted – stuff for my books, stuff for school, stuff for music writing, IT stuff – again, all with folders & subfolders.

As a technology enthusiast, I accumulate a lot of software; I like trying freeware for various needs, and have quite a collection of portable software that I use for troubleshooting others’ PCs. These, too, are all sorted by use. To make matters worse, I can’t stand having out-of-date software or hardware drivers, so once a month I go through all of it and update it where necessary. There are a handful of useful programs out there to help with the endeavor, such as SUMo, but many of the more obscure programs I have simply require manually checking. Sigh.

Luckily, there are –some- methods out there to help me keep my digital life organized. I’ll be going into some detail with those in upcoming posts.

Speaking of keeping things working…. Do you have a Wii? Or, for that matter, do you have kids? If so, doubtless you’ve run into situations where you wish your TV didn’t seem quite so likely to be ruined by a throw Wii-mote. Enter TvScreenProtector! For the price, these vinyl screen protectors may not be worth it for your 15-year-old 19” clunky box television. BUT if you’ve forked out some serious cash for a nice HD flat-screen or the like, the TvScreenProtector could add some serious peace-of-mind to those moms (and dads!) out there when the kids are playing near your TV. Check ‘em out!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tired All Day

What the heck? It’s like I haven’t been able to wake up today. Full moon? I don’t know.

Unfortunately, that also means I don’t really have much to say. Enjoy the babble-fest.

In tech news, one of my brand new sticks of RAM kicked the bucket yesterday. Just came home, and it had stopped working. Hopefully I’ll b able to return it for a new one tomorrow; we’ll see. I’m also considering trying to sell my motherboard for a higher-end one….

Tomorrow morning I begin my life as an hourly (un-salaried) employee, a fact for which I’m incredibly excited. I’m still working five-day week, at my suggestion, but at nearly half the hours I’ve worked the past eight years. Bethany and I are going to try to accelerate our moving plans because electricity is about 1/5 the cost in the city versus what we’re paying in the county here. $400 electric bills? Financial rape – not to be rude, but seriously!

We’ll probably be getting the new van tomorrow, unless negotiations fall through, or the loan we’re offered doesn’t make sense. I hope we do, because it’s the best we’ve found in two months.

I have lots of stuff to go through at home and digitally to collect all the PJ’s stuff in my possession to gift to the new GM. Maybe I’ll get to it Monday or Tuesday; I was going to try to do that today, but, as I said, I have no energy! More than likely I’ll go read some of The Dragon Reborn for a little while and then go to bed early. I finished the Book of Hebrews last night, so I think I’m going to go back to an Old Testament book… maybe Numbers. Leviticus ended up being less tough to read than I’d imagined; may the Holy Spirit be with me so that Numbers reads as easily.

This is going to sound incredibly materialistic, but I’d really like a Windows Phone. I have a low-end Blackberry, which is just nice enough to lure me into the convenience factors of smart phones. But I use Windows for everything, particularly MS Office, that having a phone that synced well with the PC would be rockin’. But we currently use a pre-paid plan through Boost, and a contract phone is truly out of the question right now; unfortunately, Windows Phones seem to be exclusive to contracts. Boo.

I’m looking forward to delivering tomorrow. I’ve always enjoyed that; I think everyone in the country should have either mandatory military service, EMS service, or pizza delivery service for at least six months before being given the right to vote. Delivery drivers are the most qualified sociologists I’ve ever known. I think I argued this point a few years back on my MySpace blog (yeah, back when people used MySpace); perhaps I’ll resurrect it just to post on the blog here.

I figured out how to do some very amateur recording on the PC today. Recorded a new song idea that came to me, which was a cool way to get the idea down. Most of the time it involves napkins. Or recording Voice Notes on my Blackberry. Trust me, it’s not good enough to post online, but it’s a step in that direction; I’ve promised for a few years now that I’d eventually put some music on the ‘Net – I like to think that it will be very soon now that I’ll just be able to record myself singing and playing live, and then upload the video wherever for sharing.

Now what to do with my hair?

Only 150 words to go! Does it count if part of writing my daily words is wasted writing about writing my words? I’m counting it, so there.

I talked with my friend Kim for a little while yesterday, which was nice because we’ve not had a chance to talk in a long time. She’s kind of my spiritual twin, if you will, so it did me good to catch up with her. Texted with Jeremy a little early today about Lent and it’s history. I’ll not go into the details, because people can be touchier about the particulars of faith than they are about whether to have faith at all!

I really want to watch Stargate: SG1 from the beginning again; I never even watched the last couple of seasons. And Star Trek: TNG also. Man, I loved those shows. But yet, look at what we get to keep instead: American Idol & Survivor. Whoop-di-doo.

See? Aren’t you glad you read this? :P

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Okay, so this will probably come across as more cynical than anything I’ve talked about in awhile, but, hey, it’s my blog.

[as an unrelated preamble, by the way, today officially ended my life of general manager-ship, and began my “new” life of renewed focus. Yay!]

I have an expositor’s Bible of which I’m very fond. A recurring theme in the Bible, which is pointed out frequently by the expositor, it’s God’s degree of respect for our free will. I mean, it’s pretty much the theme of faith and the Cross – choose to believe, or don’t. Either way, He won’t force you.

Actually, though, I’m not writing right now to really talk about religion in that sense, except to say that, other than life itself, and Jesus Christ, the gift of free will is perhaps our greatest gift from God. And, in my experience, it is one of the most wasted.

Think about it; the public’s inability to make informed decisions is a multi-trillion-bajillion dollar industry; it’s the basis for advertising. People just don’t have the time/money/brain-power to do the research for choosing what they want to buy, so they expect retailers to tell them. I run into this all of the time at the store – rather than be given the choice, for instance, of toppings on a pizza, many folks will simply say “just put something good on there.” Now wait a minute! Isn’t that subjective? What if my concept of “good” were spinach alfredo, anchovies, jalapeños, pineapple, & parmesan cheese? Or how about the ones who ask you to name every freaking topping, only to sigh (because they hate making decisions – choice!) and say, “pepperoni, I guess.” You mean I listed 20-plus topping from memory so you could order a pepperoni pizza? Wow. But you know what? Our most popular specials over the years have been the ones in which we tell the customers exactly what to order. How about a large with the Works for $xx.xx? Or the current promo, a large of our new (this makes them think it’s their idea) Hearty Italian Meats pizza for only $11? Hey, they’re good pizzas – that’s not my point; the point is that those strategies are successful because people prefer these to having to choose what they want!

Consider voting. Leaving the politics and names out, let’s just use some rational thought here. Does it truly make sense to elect someone whose name you only know through movies or television? Governors and a President have been elected this way. Does it make sense to elect someone with almost no experience in public office, nor military, to the highest ranking position in our country? The point is, people vote for who they’re told to vote for. Granted, the “advertisers” are at odds, so folks think they are choosing simply because there may be more than one party or candidate being advertised, but it’s all mindless drivel in the end.

Music? This one has frustrated me long before I cared about economics or politics (not that I really care for them much even now; they’re mostly just infuriating – I digress…). Look, and listen, to who is making the most money in the music business! Repeated samples, washed out chord progressions, etc. etc. etc.! Where’s the talent?

But if asked someone, “hey, would like to hear some ripped off electronic recycled noise for the next four minutes fronted by someone with no talent, who may or may not be attractive?” The answer would probably be an expletive-laden “no.” But any musician will tell you that the bulk of the money in the music industry is going to those very no-talent individuals. So if we value our choice not to listen to “fake music” so much, then who’s listening? Who’s buying?

But if you were to ask these same folks if they wanted their choice taken away, or tell them that the world makes their choices for them, they would argue, and tell you that they are the exceptions.

I could probably extend this rant to include other avenues of stupidity that pervade our “modern” society without stretching, but I went into this with a theme, so I’ll end on it. When you buy something, when you listen to music, support a cause, or spend time in a Flash game on the Web, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Because it’s there, in front of you, in a commercial, endorsed by rich/famous person, on the the nightly news, on the radio, one click away?

And then ask yourself if you’re ignoring God’s greatest gift, or choosing to ignore it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Continuing the "I'm thirty" in 2011 theme....

    I didn’t hear a single reference to March Forth today. Poo.
    Well, I have ONE MORE DAY until my responsibility level at Papa John's changes dramatically. This week has been quite the emotional journey for me. Not in a bad way, by any means, but just because of the confrontation of the "it's not my problem" mentally. That doesn't mean, by the way, that my work ethic has decreased or that I'm gonna let the place burn. It just means that I'm not directly in the line of fire. Having someone else do the schedule, even with my help, was probably the toughest. But even tonight.... Friday nights are the highest volume nights every week, but as we made our way through tonight - staying productive, keeping ahead, watching service, running labor - it was a strange feeling to realize that I was simply a "helper" in the service of one upon whose shoulders it all actually fell.
    Well, moving on, I still have plenty on my plate. Bethany and I looked at a used Town & Country van today. It's nice; we'll do a little more research, but we might ending getting it. We certainly need a van with Number Three on the way. I also have lots of Papa John's stuff at the house and on my computer that I need to gather up and give to Tony. A clean break is best. Sometimes during the week I've wondered, "Are we overwhelming him with this much responsibility, information, and material?" And then I remember: that's not my problem. I'm here to SUPPORT and HELP, but the ultimate task is his. Undoubtedly, some of it will take time; he won't be a carbon copy of Josh Smith, and, in fact, that's why he should do better than me - he brings his own strengths to the table, while having my entire repertoire at his disposal.
    Completely unrelated - this is stream-of-consciousness, so it's allowed - George Martin's series, A Song of Ice and Fire, finally has a date set for it's fifth book: June 12, 2011! That's exciting, because it's been like five years since book four. BUT, due to that length of time, I'll have to reread the other four before picking up A Dance with Dragons anyway. And of course, there's the Wheel of Time, which I'm currently rereading; I'm in the middle of The Dragon Reborn (Book 3) right now. The final book in the series, Book 14: A Memory of Light, is scheduled for release at the end of this year, so I want to be ready! Is that a decaquadrilogy? tetrakiskaidekilogy? Hmm.
           So yeah, lots of good books, games, and movies are coming out this year. I have list on my desktop computer (I'm on the laptop right now). The top of the list is going to be The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Go look at the trailer and weep at how awesome it looks. Marvel has some good movies due out this year, including Captain America, Thor, and X-Men: Origins. I could keep going, but the point is, there are lots of entertaining distractions being released upon the world this year. I can't tell you what it feels like to imagine watching a movie in the theater without worrying about how it will cut into my (previously) limited non-work time. Bethany and I have already planned (or at least discussed) plans to visit Dad, the Swamp Park, the Jax Zoo, and Mama B, all in addition to the big trip to New England we're taking with her parents at the end of this month. And the coolest part is knowing that there's no life-consuming responsibility here at home that will prevent us from doing those things and more!
    Tomorrow should be a good day; it'll be full of training with Tony, and being his "back up" as he handles a (hopefully) busy day. I am going to spend some time with the crew talking about training plans to help get some folks raises, and I'm gonna start sorting files on the computer so they'll be available for Tony next week. At home, I'll gather up Papa John's stuff to give him on Monday. And then I think I'll be able to wash my hands of it, and going forward will only have to deal with work when I'm AT WORK. What a concept!
          By the way, if I sound bitter, I truly don't mean to be! I'm excited, but not resentful. Gonna read some Wheel of Time now before I go to sleep. Will babble even more tomorrow.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3rdthnd

Okay, so picking up where I left yesterday....
    I kind of skimped on the subjects of music and art last night because, frankly, I was getting exhausted.
    In the early '00s (is that was they're called?), I began using a nifty program called Sibelius for music composition. Suddenly, musical ideas could become fully orchestrated pieces regardless of whether I could actually -play- the music myself! Much of this composition culminated in the writing of a 30-minute epic I sometimes call "The Paralleladigm." I would be remiss not to mention that my friend Matt Smith was an active participant in much of the writing process, and even co-wrote many of the drum and guitar parts. It's musical madness at it's most manic, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, along with other music in Sibelius. However, like so many other important aspects of my life, music composition was put on hiatus once I began managing the restaurant. Eventually even playing my piano and singing would fade to near-nothingness, kept alive only with the occasional prodding of Frank, Paul, or Bethany. Again I will say this: other people may be able to manage the stresses of running a business while keeping their other needs and passions fulfilled; I was not. So I stopped playing, singing, and writing music, save the occasional, sporadic night of piano playing for Solas, or the rare times I'd force myself at Frank's behest to go play music with him, never mind how busy I'd been or how behind at work I was. I have mentioned before the Parable of Talents in my blog; in giving me the gift of music, among so many gifts, I am expected to use it - and I have not. Therefore, I owe it to God, myself, my friends and loved ones to find my muse again. I have recently reinstalled Sibelius, and I've moved my piano and microphone near the computer. Soon, very soon, I will start recording video of myself playing; I hope to upload it to YouTube or some-such to share. Hopefully you'll get as much out of it as I always have. The good thing is, even with the stifling of the act of music-making, I have not stopped coming up with musical ideas altogether in the last eight years. So it will be nice to put some newer stuff out there also; hopefully Frank will still want to record with my sometime the next month or two.
    Speaking of visual art, there isn't much more to add than I said yesterday; unfortunately, I have just let it go that much. The funny thing is, I still "plan" drawings. I still come up with ideas for cool fantasy scenes and the like, which I usually write down in OneNote (MS Office), hoping to come back to those ideas eventually. That time is now!
    I helped Tony finish his first schedule as GM of our store today! What an interesting mind trip it was, to help make a schedule on which another man would be the general manager instead of me, and help schedule myself thirty-five hours, that being considered "high." (Remember, except on vacation, I have worked at least fifty hours each week for the last eight years!) I looked at the final version of my schedule for next week, and a shiver ran down my spine - look at all the times I -won't- be at the store! Wow, what all can I accomplish!
    So, the same enthusiasm that's been growing in me ever since Tony walked in the door earlier this week is now multiplying; I can see what my future looks like as it relates to the store, and, consequently, how it related to everything else. And how beautiful it is!
    Even with two days left this week on salary, devoted strongly to Tony's training, I already feel a bit of release! I feel unburdened! And interacting with Bethany, and with the kids, I feel more positive, upbeat, and loving. I pray that it's not simply psychological relativity, and that it fades with time; instead, let it continue to grow!
    I want to be a better family man, more willing and able to help with the chores and with the kids, and have a more reciprocal relationship with my wife. I want Solas to stop thinking that every time he sees me get up in the morning that I'm going to work, and will be coming home when it's time for night-night. Like Mrs. Jessica Bowman said yesterday, it's the end of an era. Or, maybe, more accurately, the beginning of a new one!
    Shine on 'til tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Update

    Okay, so I haven't really been making the progress in writing that I would have liked. But, as I may or may not have said recently, 2011 is going to been (and, so far, has been) a game changer.
    Child number 3 is due on Sept 12. That will give her a chance to bond with me before The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes over my life. Notice I said "her." I don't mean to get silly or superstitious, but I -do- think that this one will be a female. Obviously, statistically, the probability is great that it will be a girl. Middle name will likely be Danielle (Daniel from the Bible); first name is still a decision. And, of course, it could be another boy, which would still be wonderful!
    I put my notice in to step down as general manager of Papa John's in early January; that notice ended Sunday, February 28th. This week I am still on salary helping to train the new general manager, Tony Williams, whom I had the pleasure of training in ROC (Restaurant Operations Certification) last November. Tony was an excellent choice when compared to myself for a few reasons:
    1. He has no local friends or obligations;
    2. He has no wife/ fiancé/ girlfriend;
    3. He has no kids;
    4. He is young enough to still be able to be energetic week-in and week-out, working 50-plus hours each week;
    5. The crew knows him a little from having worked with us some last year, but;
    6. They will respect him on the tightening up of any standards which I may have let go lax the last few years;
    7. He has had long enough with Papa John's to learn why the company is great, but not enough for it to grow stale, great or not;
    8. He had some limited experience running a pizzeria (Hungry Howie's) in Statesboro for a few months in mid-2010;
    9. He's ROC certified.
    The most negative aspects are:
    1. He doesn't have NEARLY the experience in position I've had (would have been eight years as GM this June, and 12 total years with PJ’s);
    2. He doesn't have the local relationships with vendors, businesses, etc. that I've garnered;
    3. He doesn't have the relationship that Mom and I have for LSM - Mom is a little worried about it, but I don't think she has reason to do so;
    4. He doesn't know the crew as well as I, so there may be some issues leading to turn-over (hopefully not!).
    Either way, I'm happy! As I've said repeatedly, it is not, and never has been, a bad company, nor have I had bad experiences with Stan, the owner, or Terry, the area supervisor; in fact, Stan has been, in many ways, a second father to me, and, at the least, a mentor. I'll miss that, actually. But, as has become increasingly obvious, I needed to lose the stress and the responsibility. Others can do it, and many do, but I cannot. I cannot keep Bethany happy or spend the time I need to spend with my kids. I cannot focus on my music, or writing, or art. The passion for success as manager went away as it became somewhat mentally boring. It's made me stoic, OCD, and more strongly bi-polar (properly put, it manifests itself more). It has moved me further from God, although the last twelve months I've made, I believe, much progress in setting this aright. And it was probably the primary catalyst for my divorce from Gill - not something I regret, by the way, as Bethany and I are more compatible, and I have two (almost three!) wonderful children with her!
    So I have three days - Thursday, Friday, and Saturday - remaining on salary as a Training General Manager for Tony, then I will an hourly shift runner beginning Monday! The last two days have been quite a mental journey for me, coming to terms with some aspects of the change that I hadn't really expected. It is really strange for me to refer folks to another person, e.g. team members with requests, hiring inquiries, physical plants issues. It is odd to not be responsible for making next week's schedule (I am training Tony on this, however, so I will still be giving feedback and such); Bethany and I figured up that I have made somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 schedules (EVERY WEEK) since being promoted to general manager, not including the schedules I made or oversaw for other stores, such as Fernandina Beach, Brunswick, or Thomasville. The schedule, petty as it may sound, has been a continual source of stress for me for eight years! And a habit. So the feeling I have for not having to make it is amazing, but still strange, like I am abandoning a responsibility.... As we move forward, food ordering, hiring, paperwork, shift runner follow-up, MCE preparedness - all these things will be primarily Tony's realm, not mine. And I still don't think it's quite sunken into my brain yet!
    Moving on to other things, I turned THIRTY on February 20th. Thirty. It's only a number, and, like any other the other "milestone" birthdays, this one hasn't really felt any different. But I am CHOOSING to make it different, because I want this year to be a year of action. Thirty is the age at which Jesus Christ began his ministry in earnest. As my name, Joshua, is a derivative of "Jesus," I choose to see this year as a renewal of my commitment to Christ and the Lord. (I, however, in no way mean to assert that I am a valid comparison to Jesus; I simply want to walk in His shadow, and more strongly following Him at age thirty exemplifies this desire, I hope.) As has been the case for a little over a year, and certainly since I began getting treatment for manic-depression, I want to read the Bible more. Time is an issue here, and shall be rectified not only by not having to work 50-60 hours a week, but by not having those Papa-John's-related worries constantly creeping into my brain, taking my focus from the Cross. I hope to be able to study my religion better - get to know God better. My great friend Jeremy has somewhat recently been ordained by the Baptists, and he's currently attending seminary; hopefully God will help him teach me some things, as they (Jeremy and God) already have in recent history. I purchased a number of books from Amazon, with tax return money, that promise to marry the intellectual concepts presented by modern science - e.g. quantum theory, bio-molecular science, string theory - with simple understandings of God and my beliefs in Christianity. It's a journey that I meet with elation!
    I am making a renewed commitment to writing, starting here, online, as proof of my commitment. It astounds (and scares) me that I first created Ti'rerae Solom (the fictional fantasy world in which my writing endeavors take place) in June of 1994 - that's almost seventeen years ago! I am well beyond time for getting things going into high gear with writing. Paul, God bless him, has helped me keep Ti’rerae Solom from going stale over the years, most recently by writing a story that takes place on the world himself. With his, and Mom's, help, I have completed the map of half the world ALMOST to my satisfaction. We've worked up a tentative timeline for major world events. We've determined major players in history, religion, and culture. I have gotten to know most of my main characters (protagonists and antagonists) very well. So it's obvious it's time to really start writing, and this WILL be the year it happens.
    I had thought to write some specifics of the newer stuff I've decided regarding T.S., but I think I'll save that for tomorrow's post, since tonight's theme is broader.
    I have made a renewed commitment to music and well, and I believe that my friend Frank (I have the best friends and family in the world!) will be a big part of bringing it to fruition. I want to record! And share! Not that I expect anything to come of it financially or elsewise, but I simply miss sharing music with others. It's not nearly the passion for me it once was, but I miss it and want it back! And with so many talented musical friends, Frank and Paul among them, there's no reason we shouldn't be playing our hearts out! Again, the extra time and lesser stress of my new lifestyle will allow for it, I know!
    And the same goes with drawing. Those who knew me in school, knew me for drawing or playing the piano. And it sickens me that I've not completed a drawing in over ten years! OUCH! I mean, I still doodle, but I have nothing to show for myself as an "artist" - for shame! Again, it will change this year; I have faith.
    Tomorrow I will discuss more of how this year will rock, including my relationship with Bethany, finances, computers, gaming, movies, etc. My faith is strong! For now, I go.