Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Don't Shop, But This is Where I'll Be!

I think I'm a typical guy in that I hate to shop. There is nothing worse that taking on crowds at the mall or even a quick run up to Wal-Mart to get something. I hate parking, I hate walking in the heat, I hate looking for an item, I hate waiting on line to pay, et cetera, et cetera.

In fact, one of the few things that I'll do related to shopping is take Angie on occasion. Some women like to get taken out dancing, some women like to get taken out to a show - and, although Angie enjoys all of these things, Angie most appreciates when I take her shopping. I think she knows how much I dislike going, so it is really meaningful to her when I do it.

I even dislike shopping for myself. Clothes shopping is nothing less than a beat down for me. And I typically don't do any other type of shopping. Angie handles the rest, even holiday shopping. It works for us. I hate it, and she likes it, so our arrangement is mutually beneficial.

That being said, there are a couple of places that I do like to go. The top of my list is Bass Pro Shops. They recently opened a new one pretty close to the house, and there is nothing like it. You can go and just browse, or mess around. Even the kids like to go. In fact, it is now a destination for when anyone from NY comes down. We took my sister there and she very much enjoyed it. We haven't tried the restaurant yet, but Angie keeps bugging me to do it, so we'll try it soon. In fact, we'll need to pick up a couple of things for our hunting trip next week, so we'll probably try it this weekend. (If we do, I'll let you know how it is).

The store is just amazing. Two stories of hunting, camping, fishing equipment and apparel. It has regular clothes, food, toys, furniture, outdoor stuff and boats. It's got a huge tank of local fish (the store itself it right on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard), which includes the largest catfish you'll ever see. It has stuffed game throughout (the brown bear on the lower floor is over 8 ft. tall). It's got a shootout arcade and boats that you can walk through as you look at them. Angie said it even has like a play area outside, but I haven't been that far. I typically don't get past the hunting equipment. I've joined their loyalty program, so I'm hooked.

Some of the other stores I don't mind going to (too much).
1) Bass Pro Shops
2) Super Target (the store is just Wal-Mart, but less scummy)
3) Home Depot/Lowes (a man's toy store, but try to find someone for help)
4) Wal-mart (if I can't find something, I try Wal-mart - they will have it)
5) Tom Thumb (talk about a grocery store - unfortunately, too expensive to go to regularly)

Do you have a top 5? Let me know and I'll see you at the store.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

I got hitched, now I'm broke!

Most men can relate to the subject of this message. Fortunately for me, it's not what you think.

Angie and I have been camping a couple of times with our friends and the kids, and every time we've gone we've had an outstanding time. Whether fishing, boating, swimming, hiking while the kids ride their bikes...whatever, it is just so much fun being outdoors enjoying our family and friends. Because of the fun that we've had, we've been looking for a way to do it a little less roughly and a little more conveniently. One of our friend couples had a popup camper, and we've thought that one could be the answer we were looking for - particularly one that had an A/C unit that would allow us to camp during the hot summer months.

We've been actively looking for a camper that would fit our price range and our needs. Basically one we could wet our feet with. I had a trailer hitch installed on the truck last week in preparation. In the meantime, Angie found an older used model that, if in good condition, would meet our needs. Basically, something that provided the comfort and the accessibility we were looking for in an inexpensive package that really didn't matter if we did a couple of things wrong and damaged it in minor ways - ultimately, we were looking for an entry level camper.

We started looking at used RV dealerships, but came to the conclusion that the markup was too much, so she started looking at some individual sellers. Lo and behold, she found a 1995 Coleman Arcadia (manufactured by Fleetwood). It was close to our house, so we went prepared (with what we were willing to pay in cash) and went to look at it.

It is an older model, but it had everything we were looking for. The unit sleeps 5 to 6 and has a very good working A/C. It even has a shower unit, a microwave, and the seller threw in an unused porta-potty. Basically, it is old, but in good shape, and our first offer was accepted.

After the seller showed us how to put it away, we connected it to the truck, and drove home. We've put it up, cleaned it out, and am currently making sure that everything we need works properly. In two weeks we take it to Goliad, TX (Angie has cousins there) for our first Spring Turkey and Hog hunt. After that, the sky's the limit. Texas has tons of beautiful state parks and now that we have the camper, we can stay for $20 a night. Can't beat that!

Happy Camping.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Baby got (a hurt) back

Over the course of the last week and a half I have been struggling, and mostly losing, with some severe back pain. It started Saturday, March 10th - Angie and I were doing some spring cleaning in the garage. I wasn't lifting anything heavy, rather I was leaning over a crate filtering through its contents. Then BAM!!! If felt like someone stuck a knife in the right side of the small of my back. I could move too much for the next 36 hours, or so. However, by Wednesday (the 14th) it was feeling much better so I boarded my flight to California to finish out the week.

All was going splendidly, enough for me to have forgotten about my back troubles, until last Saturday morning. I was playing with Cassie and Dylan and was leaning over the coffee table. WHAM!!!! It happened again, except this time on the right side of the small of my back. And this one was much worse. I crashed to the floor and had to have Angie help me up. I sat on the couch for a few minutes, medicated, and decided that bed rest was the order of the day.

Several hours later, I tried to get out of bed and couldn't - my back wouldn't let me. As the "call of nature" got more pressing, I asked Angie to see if she could help me up. Bad call on my part. I instantly set off back spasms that had me screaming. Angie started making calls to neighbors and friends and family for advice. I medicated and screamed some more. At one point I had three good friends standing over me in my bed as I was immobile. That had to be a sight.

After spending all day Saturday and Sunday in bed, I was finally able to get up and go to the doctor on Monday. He examined me and came to the conclusion that I don't have disk trouble. In fact, my problem stems not so much from my back but my front (weight). My doctor likened the bottom of my spine to a broom handle - trying to hold all of that weight above it is hard. He medicated me and gave me stretching and strength exercises for my back - AND, told me to get some exercise and lose some weight.

I'm still sore, but I am coming around. You should see me walk. I look like the oldest 37 year old man you will ever see.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How much is too much?

This weekend Angie, Cassie and I went to eat at Chili's. Angie allowed me to choose (we usually go where she wants to go, and that means Mexican) and I was hankering for some ribs...

We don't expect the greatest service when we go to Chili's, just a pleasant comfortable meal. The kids love going there, so we do every so often.

However, on this trip, things were a little different. Our waiter Danny must have visited our table to ask "Y'all doing ok?" and "How you guys doing?" perhaps 20 times during our meal. In fact, he came so often that it became somewhat intrusive. Add to this the fact that the manager came over at least three times, we were a bit annoyed.

That leads to the it right to get annoyed at too much customer service? I think there is a point where caring about the customer experience can be overdone. Danny's constant inquiries about how we were doing actually felt automated and uncaring. We joked about it during the meal, and it didn't bother us in a significant way, but I did say to Angie during the meal - "if he asks me how I'm doing again, I'm going to tell him that there hasn't been enough time since the last time he asked for anything to have changed."

Does anyone have an experience like ours? Anytime someone seemed to just go way overboard with their customer service? I've been in service (technical support) for over a decade and I didn't think it possible to over service a customer. That do you think? I'd like to know.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Expectations vs. Desires

Angie and I, and our couples small group, are currently studying an excellent marriage series called iMarriage by Andy Stanley from Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta, GA. The study has been excellent so far, and we are fortunate to have good, close couples friends where we can open up and share our struggles - AND, be supportive to those couples who share theirs.

This past weekend's topic centered around expectations and desires. Without getting into the discussion too much, the premise was simple. When we expect something, we: 1) Aren't gracious when it occurs, 2) Become angry/frustrated/disappointed when it doesn't. Basically, expectations of our spouse are unrealistic and often unfair, and lead to conflict. The study went on to explain that we need to try and move our expectations to desires. A desire is something that we want, for sure, but; 1) Are pleased when they occur, and typically lead to demonstrations of gratitude and 2) do not lead to anger when they do not occur. I am, of course, oversimplifying but this should serve as an adequate backdrop for my story.

A couple of days ago, Angie behaved in a way that was counter to my "expectations". This led to my becoming exceedingly angry. In fact, my angry was based not only on a unfulfilled expectation, but also my interpretation of her motives (see last weeks message at Springcreek for more on this one). As I begun to power up my big guns for an attack, I remembered to topic of our study. I began to process that I was expecting Angie to act a certain way and this is why I was becoming angry. I dissected why this was the case, and was able to "move" my expectation to a desire. My anger was reduced and I was able to think more clearly. By the time Angie and I saw each other, I was able to rationally and calmly discuss it with her. In fact, we experienced a time of closeness because we were able to talk about something that we would have fought about in the past.

You see, I can tear down Angie by my anger when she doesn't meet my expectations and clearly, scripture tells us that we are to build up people with our speech, not tear them down. (See: Ephesians 4:29).

I am so glad that I've had the lesson and now my job is to continue to "move" my expectations to desires. If you and your spouse have the same difficulty, of if your spouse is continually disappointing you, perhaps the problem isn't your spouse. Check out iMarriage. It is really excellent.