Friday, December 08, 2006

Deal, Or No Deal?

My momma always told me, “If’n ya cain’t say nuthin’ nice ‘bout someone, don’t be sayin’ nuthin’ atall.” Well, Momma, I’m sorry but I just have to speak up about this one.

As a marketer, I am quick to notice an exceptional ad or great customer service or, on the other side, an ineffective commercial or sales strategy. So, it should come as no surprise that I might write about a poor customer service experience I recently had. The surprisin’ thing to me is the offendin’ party – Perhaps you’ve heard of them? The largest bookseller in the world and one of the Internet’s most powerful and successful companies.

One would think that to be so successful, they would offer the epitome of great service. Well, according to my sources, they started out that way. Then, somebody got too big fer their britches and decided to start makin’ decisions that only considered the immediate bottom line – anythin’ to save a dollar and look more brilliant to the thousands of shareholders.

Me and the missus was a’shoppin fer a new printer (Ok, she was doin’ most of the shoppin but I was foldin clothes and followin’ along.) Anyways, she finds this great deal on a printer we had already decided to purchase and low and behold, it was from To top it off, there’s a deal sayin’ if we get the new VISA, we can get an additional $30 credit. Now, anytime someone waves that kind of cash in front of Mammy, they better let go right quick else she’ll tear their arm out of the socket from her jerkin’ it away fast as lighnin’. Her fingers fairly scorched the mouse button she was a’clickin’ so swiftly.

Once all the clickin’ was done, it appeared that somethin’ was just not right. While we had been approved for the new card, it wasn’t offered as a possible method of payment. So, we rang up Customer Service and were promptly put on hold for 40 minutes. It was late, nerves were frazzled, we thought it better to hang up and try again in the mornin’.

Mammy got things going early to avoid the rush. The problem was, the person on the other line was a’talkin’ with such a heavy accent, clear communication was purt near impossible. Talk to Amazon, talk to the credit card company, talk to Amazon – nothin’ was workin’. I was thinking we should have made a video conference call with subtitles so everybody could understand one another. Finally canceled the card and just placed the order with a card we already had.

I wrote Amazon an e-mail to express my displeasure about the long wait time and the foreign voice on the other end of the line and received the followin’ response:

“I'm sorry to hear that you had an unsatisfactory experience when you called us previously. Since our customers come from all over the world, it's helpful for us to have customer service centers in a variety of time zones throughout the world--so that someone is always available when a customer needs help. currently has customer service centers in North America, Ireland, Germany, India, the Philippines, and Japan. In the United States specifically, we operate customer service centers in North Dakota, West Virginia, and Washington state. We also have co-
sourcing arrangements with companies located in North America, India, and the Philippines.”
No real answer to either of our concerns. If they have customer service centers in the US, then why did we get a very foreign voice each time we called? All to save a buck today at the expense of future sales. Tsk tsk. They may have made a deal this time but next time, for me, it’s No Deal.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Get a Real Life!

When I was a youngun, I got myself involved in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. I know, please don’t think bad of me, I’ve since seen the light and repented. J The reason I quit a’playin’ was because I began to see how caught up in this fantasy world a person could become and how it could influence the thinkin’ of those that played on a reglar basis. I don’t think there was anythin’ inherently wrong with the game, just that it allowed people to get lost, so to speak.

Today, there exists a fantasy world so technologically advanced and so much more “realistic” than Dungeons & Dragons could ever hope to be. This virtual world is called “Second Life” and is much more than just a game.

Second Life is a place on the net where people can create a virtual life for themselves. You make up a person includin’ personality and everythin’, then you enter this world called Second Life. You can get a job, create a business, go to parties (or throw one if you wish), do all kinds of things. You can shop and spend Second Life money for virtual clothes, cars, you name it, you can buy it. Or if you name it and it isn't sold by anyone, you can create it and begin sellin’ it. People even buy marketin’ services to help market their wares and services to other people in Second Life.

Anyways, it has continued to grow at a tremendous rate with people even creatin’ multiple avitars (that’s the fancy technical way of sayin’ “characters) that they send around this virtual world doin’ whatever they want that is allowed. There are very stiff rules about what you can and can't do and if you break them, you are kicked out and can't return. They even have an adult section where characters can do and see pretty much anythin’ you can do and see in real life. (No, I haven't been there, just read about it.)

The latest thing is a TV show called Big Brother (a reality show to see who can hold out the longest inside some house where a bunch of people of different types are thrown together) is a’goin to do a virtual version of their show in Second Life. Whoever spends at least 8 hours every day for a month in the Big Brother virtual house without getting’ voted out will win a virtual island of their own. Now, what kind of contest is that? Encouragin’ people to waste 240 hours in order to win an imaginary island! Don’t people have enough respect for themselves to not waste 8 hours a day for a month in a pretend world? Get a real life!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Effects of Withdrawal

Sorrow of sorrows, I went this here entire World Series without observin’ even a minute of any game. I know, I hang my head in shame. But, at least I am man enough to admit it.

Now, I don’t watch much TV and when I do, it is usually the news. (Even though there isn’t much to report on in Dogpatch.) Sometimes, I watch some sports but not near as much as I did in the past. The sports has (gasp) fallen in priority with family and church responsibilities. That said, there are three particular sportin’ events I really enjoy a’watchin’. These are the World Series, college bowl games, and March Madness. They are only on during short, concentrated periods of time and so I figure I am being fairly realistic by limitin’ my moments of sports fanaticism to these relatively small moments.

So, when I miss the ENTIRE World Series, my body goes into convulsions and I find it hard to breathe correctly. Ok, so it isn’t that bad, I admit it. This one did hurt particularly bad, though. I was really pullin’ for the Cards (for Mammy, I’ll say Red Birds) and to not even see them play, I may never be the same. Please pray for a quick recovery – or at least a recovery.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ode to Popeye

Such simple joy. Pure enthusiasm. All for the sake of a Thomas The Tank toy or a Curious George movie. If only I could bottle it up an’ sell in on the street corner – a person could make a fortune. And no pretenses. No disguisin’ or veilin’ ourselves to meet others’ approval. As adults, we have become deft at deception – fittin’ ourselves into the little molds created by our perception of others perceptions. Notice any irony in that?

A book I am currently a’readin’, “Primal Leadership”, skillfully promotes that it behooves us to become more transparent to others. To stop buildin’ facades and walls of mirrors around ourselves. In reality, what they are a’talkin’ about is true integrity. We live by principles and by so doin’, have no need for the smoke and mirrors acts in which we so commonly engage.

The worst thing about writin’ this diatribe is that I am probably more guilty of this that any reader that happens by. It’s like the scam artist that got all upset at the guy who led him on for weeks as if he was a’fallin’ for the scam only to turn the tables on him. You wasted all my precious time you *&%$#**@! Now, if only I could take my own advice and be able to say like Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shopping in the Oooohhh Zone

Well, strap me down to an ant hill and cover me with honey – I done fell victim again. Now, what has me all riled up, you say? Shoppin’. Shoppin’ with a gaggle of females.

Last Saturday, whilst I was unawares (they must have drugged me or somethin’), somehow I found myself wandering around the local mall with Mammy and three of the younguns. “Oooooh, isn’t this so cuuuute?” “Sweeeet!” “How cute!” “Isn’t this pretty?” “Cuuuuute!” “Don’t you wish you had one of these?” And so it went, on and on for over 30 minutes. In an’ out through the maze touchin’ and handlin’, ooohhing and aaahhhing, pointin’ and agrabbin’, showin’ and mincin’. On top of that, there were a dozen other gigglin’, gapin’ females adding to the chorus of ooohhs and aaaahhhs.

Must escape. Must have air, my mind screamed frantically. Must get out before my masculinity implodes, overwhelmed by the oppressive amount of female giddiness. Finally I made it out, walked around a little to clear my senses then ducked my head and re-entered the Ooooohhh Zone, only to be nearly thrown into a tailspin by returning too quickly. Finally, I managed to shepherd my lot out of that dangerous environment and on to safer stores we went.

Finally, we ended up in Pennys. Mammy quickly found some clothes she wanted to try on, as did one of the older girls. That left yours truly with the two younguns. Not that I minded that – they can be a passel of fun. The problem was, they wanted to find and ride the escalators and the elevator. So off we went. Up and down the escalators we went, people wondering if we done got ourselves lost or something. Kind of like the lab mice that have always found the cheese in the maze in exactly the same place all the time and now suddenly someone moved the cheese and they can’t find anything.

After that little bit of embarrassment, we ended up walking into a store decorated for Halloween, only to find it to be an “alternative” store with strange body piercing jewelry, incense, racy clothing, gothic paraphenelia, and a multi-tatooed, nose and tongue-pierced, pink highlighted haired clerk. I immediately figured out we were in the wrong kind of store and proceeded to devise and execute an exit strategy.

Next came the trip on the elevators. I don’t know if’n your younguns do this but mine like to jump up and down through the whole ride, then giggle as their stomachs give a little lurch at the end. Thoughts of country hicks that seldom make it to “the city” were reflected in eyes of passersby as the youngest let out with “Can we do it again?”

It was then back to more ooohhhhs and aahhhss in the girls clothing section, only to be followed by cries of despair and anguish as one daughter lamented that since we wouldn’t buy her anything that day, it means we never buy her anything, period. Blubbering all the way to the car, grinding on my nerves – I reflected “Now, why do I do this?”

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Or not. Recently, I had the portunity to be a spectator at a semi-pro baseball type game. Here in Dogpatch, them’s the big times. Anyways, at the end of the game, the players from the winnin’ team (this would be the home team on this occasion) all congregated (word of the day) in the middle of the infield a’givin’ each other high-fives, etc.

Now, I’m not complainin’ bout people a-celebratin’ when there’s a victry. But, what happened to the good ole sportsmanship practice of high-fivin’ the other team and sayin’ “Good game”? This ritual of congratulatin’ yerselves only has been goin’ for some time in major league baseball and I don’t cotton much to it. These are supposed to be our children’s heroes. How are our kids supposed to learn about good sportsmanship when their idols don’t demonstrate a lick of it? It’s just plain ole good manners to say somethin’ kindly to the opposin’ team when yer done. I guess it says something bout the state of our country when the national pastime has lost any sense of the good it used to be.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I recently read an article posted on KSL's web site about the state of Utah having the highest birthrate in the nation. Well, duh! And they drew the conclusion that part of the reason can be tied to the LDS Church. Another big duh!!!! Since when is any of this newsworthy? On the web site, a person can add comments to a story. This one had over two hundred! People screaming about how stupid it is for Mormons to always have big families and making the rest of the population support those kids through taxes etc. Then, of course you have the heated rebuttals and back and forth they go.

First, LDS people tend to have a very different view of children and their worth in a family unit. We also believe that God made the world with sufficient resources to sustain all His children that need to come to the earth. I am sick of people telling me how big of a family I should have. I don't try to tell them they should have more kids.

Second, while I don't have a problem with people posting a rebuttal, the least they could do is use kindness and empathy (read - understand their point of view) and stop calling names and acting like their opinion is the only one that matters. Of all the people on the earth, we have a greater responsibility to act Christ-like in all we do.

Hold On To Your Turban, Kid!

The world is now a better place! Yours truly was interviewed today to be on the news. No, not because of some crimnal activities. I knows what you'alls were a'thinkin'. My company has recently gone through a new image campaign complete with one of them new logos. The station wanted to interview me to find out all the whys, wheres and what-fers. So, now, my fabulous mug is a'gonna fly cross them airwaves and into the homes of millions - ok, maybe hunners of thousands - ok, ok, maybe tens of thousands - yes, we are in Montana and I'm a'talkin' bout the local news, one of the stations people don't cotton much to so maybe thousands. Well, in case you haven't caught on, I am jokin bout this being some great thing. The interview was even somewhat of a joke. That there girl that came to do the interview hadn't done no research. She asked me why we was a'changin the name of the company. Hello, it's a logo change, not no name change. Then she asks me when we're a'gonna launch the new logo. Again, hello!!! It has been over a month since we started runnin' commercials, billboards, etc and several of the branches already have new signage up. Git er straight, young lady. So tune in to see me finally find my way to stardom. There ya have it - Pappy Yokum has finally hit the big time!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Playground is Getting Crowded

Being from Dogpatch, I don't claim to understand a lot about current world affairs. One thing in particular that has me itchin to write about is what's agoin' on between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Seems to me that this time around, things are afixin to be messer than usual.

Israel has always had a bee in the bonnet, being surrounded by neighbors that don't much care for them. But this time, there are other things at work that make for a much trickier situation. For instance, the USA is having a hard time in Iraq and many in the Muslim world are just itching for a reason to side with others against the USA. Iran is trying to develop nuclur weapons but is being harassed by the U.N. (and of course the USA). Iran is even pressing the rumor that the USA is readying for an invasion of Iran. More fuel to the fire.

North Korea is playing with missiles and nuclur warheads, also claimin to bein' bullied by the USA. Everyone knows the USA is right friendly with Israel and all of this adds up to a fire hotter than Dogpatch tar in the middle of August. (Course, Dogpatch ain't got no tarred roads but you'all get the picture.)

I don't know about you, but I think perhaps there's agunna be a lotta folks gettin invited to the playground to take care of the bully and his younger brother. So, what do you say? I'd be much obliged to hear your comments on this.

Whatever You Do, Don't Look In The Mirror

Have you ever had someone tell you something that just devestated your own view of yourself? Perhaps you think of yourself as really good at something and then along comes someone who would obviously be able to tell you if you are good at said thing and totally unsolicited makes a comment that ruins your assumption? Let me tell you, I doesn't feel good.

"How could this be?!!! " you scream in your head. Perhaps it is something you "thought" you had made a conscious effort to develop as part of your character. How do you now pick up the pieces of who you are and continue life as normal? Well, I reeeeeeallly want this attribute to be a part of who I am so I guess it is back to the old drawing board. Images of Wiley Coyote dance across the stage of my mind.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reewards - Part 2

Well, now it's on to another lesson learnt during the move process. Moving into a brand new shack, Mammy wanted one of them new front-loading washer and dryer sets - no more scrub boards and hand wringing. We bought a set from down south and brought it up here ourselves. This meant me setting up the critters myself. Didn't seem too much of a chore, just make sure the little feet on them didn't do no rockin or anything like that. Make them nice and solid.

Well, I accomplished that feat. We had our first batch in the washer - things seemed to be going well when all of a sudden, we heard the loudest banging noise - bout scared the britches right off'n me. I ran to see what was causin such a commotion and was astounded to see that washer just a-bouncing and a-skittering cross the floor like a polecat possessed. I shut er down and scratched my head - what could the matter be? I pulled out the owners manual (yeah, go figger I hadn't done that afore) and it said the washer had to be real level.

So, I spent the next 3 hours fightin to get it level. It would be pretty close so I would try it only to have it start bouncing again. I actually got it perfectly level, more level than the plains of Kansas, and it still bucked like a horse with a burr under the saddle. I had to quit for the night.

When we finally got back to it, Mammy ended up calling a local appliance place and explained the problem. The fellow about busted a gut - not at our expense, just that he has received at least a call a week about this problem. It seems there are some packing bolts that have to be removed before running the washer. Nobody from the place where we purchased the machine had mentioned anything about bolts. So, I removed them and bingo - the washer works like a charm. One thing though, I'll bet I have the most level washer in the entire United States, if not the world.

Moving Reewards - Part 1

Movin', while full of reewards, contains some definite defining moments. This move to the far reaches of our beloved United States has been no different. Permit me to do some splainin.

One thing I learnt good this time has to do with furniture. Mammy Yokum has this kitchen table she is right fond of. Well, the table had a few white spots on the finish (I thought they gave the table character) and she kindly requested a refinish job. I, being the kind, loving husband I am, proceeded to acquiesce (I know, yer all thinkin "we're not but humble Dogpatch citizens - well, think Pirates) before the family arrived in Great Falls.

Having previous experience with refinishing a coffee table, I approached the project with some trepidation. (I know, all these big words - it's a wonder what a little "Big Sky" air will do for a feller.) Anyway, Mammy had talked with a friend who suggested a certain product that worked faster and slicker than Abner at mealtime. I proceeded to use said concoction, spreading and rubbing according to the directions. After a couple of days and countless hours of frustration, I turned to a "stronger" stripper - something so strong it could take the skin off'n a razorback hog in seconds. Again, more and more hours. Finally, I procured me one of them new-fangled, fancy electric sanders. Whew, that finally did the job!

Now it was time for the finish. At least this part was less frustratin'. I put on 3 coats and then the table seemed ready for use. By this time, we were all moved up and had invited some guests to share in a scrumptuous meal. We brought the table in the house as dinner continued in the making. Just as things were getting to the good part, (that would be the eating stage) the little jiggly thing on the pressure cooker came shooting off and super hot potato water started shooting out all over. Some, of course, landed on the table. NNNooooooooooo! Potential ruination of my long labors! Fortunately, it didn't turn out too bad - I just sanded those parts a little and reapplied some finish coat. The next day, voila, the table was finished and yours truly received some great compliments. Not that I'm hunkerin to go out and try that again. The most important lesson I learnt in this episode is that if Mammy ever gits to suggestin refinishing furniture, I's gonna find someone else to do it for me. The money will be well spent considering the agony and frustration I won't have to go through.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Plum Tired Out

Let’s see if’n I got this right. You buy a tire that they call a 60,000 mile tire. Now I’s a thinking this means I can drive close to 60,000 miles on em before they give out. However, after 20,000 miles, they show more wear than Abner’s britches and I go talk to the tire dealer. They say I didn’t buy the extended warranty so they won’t replace them but they’ll be pleased to sell me some new ones at a really good deal. Now, says I, didn’t I do that the last time?

I ask if the tire isn’t warranted for 60,000 miles. “Oh, that’s just a rating system the tire manufacturers use.” What in the world do they use it for?! To tell them when to go to the bathroom?! So, how does a poor country fella like me figure out what tires are the best deal? There’s also another rating that is supposed to indicate if the tire is recommended for your particular vehicle. So, apparently, if you multiply the two together, subtract 1498, divide by two, pick your nose twice, (eeewwww that's gross!) add 28, then divide by 46, you will be able to ascertain that those tires won’t last as long as you think unless you buy the extended warranty. After all that, I was just plum tired out. (Ok, bad pun but it fits.) You know that's the way they want it because then you'll listen to their speil and buy the tires they want you to. I think it's a worldwide conspiracy connected to the secret child of Hillary Clinton and both Sigfreid and Roy (or maybe their tiger) who is plotting with alien penguins at the South Pole and will probably take over the world by melting all the ice bergs.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Keep Your Skepticism to Yourself

The world may be full of skepticism but I am a true believer in miracles. It seems me and the Missus were transporting our brood to the far northern reaches of this great country when our buggy began to function improperly. It seems that our 16-year-old had put the horses on autopilot and somehow, they got stuck in a fast pace. She tried to coax them to slow down and then got almost durn-right mean with them, but all to no avail. Finally, she succeeded in unhitching them. (Read, turned the ignition off)

Well, we sat there, in the middle of nowhere (any that have been to Montana can confirm that there is a lot of "nowhere" to find.) trying to figger what was wrong and what to do next. I tried to start them horses up again several times to see if they were done tuckered out and willing to continue at a more leisurely pace but without proper results. Being mechanically inclined is not my strongest characteristic so when the idea came so suddenly into my head to check the throttle to see if it was stuck, I was struck with amazement. I had no idea if I could even find it but more to my amazement, it ended up being there right in front of me. I easily got it unstuck and then the horses were magically transformed into docile, obedient animals.

One of the younguns then said a prayer, invoking help that the poor animals would continue on performing as needed for the duration of our journey. Came to pass as sure as Dogpatch is a breeding ground for skeeters. Now, all you skeptics out there, hold yer tongues because I believe it was one more chalked up to the Big Guy Upstairs (no disrespect intended).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pappy steps out

I must step out of my normal character to share something very significant to me. This weekend being conference weekend, I looked forward with much anticipation to the various inspiring presentations in speech, music and prayer. Like all LDS faithful, I have been anxious also to see and hear Pres. Hinkley - to bask once again in the glow of his love and concern. After his surgery (which we found out was his first stay in the hospital - ever in his life), I think we were all hopeful to hear him again.

It was so wonderful to hear the strength of his message and to partake of his humor - as if nothing had happened. While I didn't find it necessary to "listen more intently" to his messages this time as counseled by a recent e-mail, I gladly soaked up his message like the parched desert soil drinks in a rain.

While God has provided the means for each of us to receive our own personal revelation, there is something special about hearing and feeling the messages given by God through his especially appointed and annointed servant, the prophet. And, what a great comfort it is to know that even if this happens to be Pres. Hinkley's last conference with us, there will be another living oracle of God already in place to continue the process, keeping open that sacred conduit to heaven.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Scary moments

It’s ironic how so many of the “scary” moments in life turn out to be not so scary. There was this time when I first came to Dogpatch that I came upon an idea (I know, doesn’t seem too likely but I swear, it did happen.) that I thought was pretty grand but I knew there would be folks in Dogpatch that wouldn’t cotton much to the idea.

I sweated and fretted about how to present the idea to them in a way that would be convincing to them that it was a fine and dandy idea, but would also cause me the least grief. For me, it was a scary situation.

Since Mammy is a natural-born leader, I went to her first. Even though that ended up being less scary than I anticipated, I was still scared out of my britches about presenting it to the main citizens of Dogpatch. Well, when all was said and done, it seems I had got myself all worked up for nothing. Next thing I knew, we were shooting the breeze and relaxing outside the post office.

I guess what I am trying to say is that many times, we tend to blow things out of proportion and assign reactions to people even before they get a chance to hear us out. More often than not, their reaction is much different or at least calmer than we expected.

So, my advice, the next time you’re faced with one of them scary moments, take a deep breath and just forget about the possible reactions. You’re probably exaggerating them anyway and in the end, you’ll find yourself dipping your legs in the cool stream with those you figured would be most opposed.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Those despicable sales tactics

It seems that no matter what situations you encounter in the world of doing business, there are going to be some things that remain constant. One I find particularly interesting is that regardless of good intentions, everybody has sales tactics they use to ensure their success.

For instance, Mammy and I have been looking for a new house here in Dogpatch. We had employed the services of a good detective to root out the best buy for us. Well, as we came near to deciding on the house and our good friend saw us begin to waver, he immediately set out to demonstrate all the reasons we should buy the house. He didn't cajole or put any pressure, just gave us little hints about why this house would be so good for us - better than any of the others. He also put fear in us of waiting anymore because someone could come along and put an offer before us and then we would be out.

Well, I'll be hornswaggled if it didn't work! Next thing you know, we are making the offer. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not calling foul or anything like that. I just find it interesting in hindsight. Now, we are in the process of pressing hard to sell our own house and guess what - we have used the same tactics on people looking at our house. Funny how that works. So, just remember, the next time you want to poke fun or complain about the sales tactics used against you, you are probably just as guilty.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pappy’s freedom of speech

I don’t know about you but I love the US Constitution. It is a truly inspired document meant to protect freedoms and promote the continued prosperity (and I don’t mean riches) of our country. Well, here in Dogpatch, there was a time when ole General Bullmoose made a statement about whatever was good fer him, was good fer the whole country. Well, I never did cotton much to that and I still don’t. Seems to me that there are going to be times when someone doing their thing is going to end up being wrong against everybody else.

There are some that say that freedom of speech gives a person the right to “express” themselves in whatever manner they please. Well, I’m agreeing until you start trodding on someone else’s rights. When downright filthy stuff comes across to innocent computer users, then the line has been definitely crossed. But, it goes deeper than that. How many millions of victims, how many billions of dollars in law enforcement, counseling, and government assistance does it take before we recognize that by allowing such “freedom of speech”, we are actually taking the rights away from others?

We have laws against illegal substances but ignore one of the worst – no, not just ignore, encourage. All in the name of “freedom of speech”. Well, I want my freedoms and those of my family to be protected too and yet by statistical calculations, someone in my family will someday have their rights violated because someone else gets to exercise his/her “freedom of speech”. I respect your true God-given rights, just don’t trample mine while your exercising yours.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pappy learns a lesson

There was a time when my Lil Abner (ok, not so little any more) wanted so bad to make a choice all on his own. Well, as a "wise" parent, I could obviously see where that decision would take the little tyke. But, we also knew he needed to make choices so that he could grow as aperson. So, Mammy Yokum and I, being the devious, yet caring parents, devised upon a scheme to cajole poor Abner into our way of thinking.

Our plan was to just leave little hints here and there about the value of making the choice our way. However clever this may sound, what it has done is produce the feeling in Abner that his only option is to choose our way - anything else will bring disappointment from his parents. Now, what kind of choice does he really have? In our efforts to help Abner develop his decision making skills, we have instead taken away his agency to choose and forced our own agenda upon him.

Freedom of choice is one of the most important of God's gifts to his children. Pappy Yokum's advice is that you do your part to ensure that your own children get to properly exercise that gift.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pappy's thoughts on cars

Have you ever noticed that most teenage girls have no clue about cars - hey, they don't even care one whit about cars. That is, until they get close to that magical age of 16. (Or whatever age they begin to drive) My recently-turned 16-year-old daughter started noticing cars about 6 months ago. Oh, I like that car. What kind is it? Oh, I don't like the ones with boxy windows. I like cars with a little spoiler. You know what Dad, you could get me one of those. The closer she got to 16, the more of an "expert" on which cars are cool and which are losers she became. It was this really weird transformation.

But, also, as she approached that ripe old age of 16, she somehow became more and more convinced that the more she mentioned cars and which ones she liked, the more likely I was to buy her that car for her birthday. Even to the point that on her birthday, she was disappointed that there was no car waiting for her. I have no idea what delusions were controlling her mind but I had tried to make it perfectly clear there was no car coming for her birthday. What ever happened to earning your own money for your own car? I did it. Multitudes of people before me did it. We did without other things so that we could get that special item on which our dreams centered. And, by so doing, we came to appreciate those things so much more.

So, Pappy Yokum says, just hold your horses on that thought about owning a vehicle. Come down to earth and learn what it is like to want something bad enough that you will scrimp and save until you can purchase it on your own. When you finally get that model with the rounded windows and the little spoiler, you are apt to take better care of it. Just remember one thing, when your parents' car breaks down and they need to borrow your car, they put up with a lot of your guff for many years - it's the least you could do to return the favor.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Popular Presidents?

A recent article asked freshmen college students to list the most influential US presidents. Well, listed in the top 5, former President Bill Clinton. Now, while "Slick Willy" did provide a ton of fodder for late night show hosts, to name him as one of the top 5 is insane. And, to top it off, there are at least two much more notable presidents that should have been mentioned but didn't make the list - George Washington (duh) and Thomas Jefferson (Yes, remember him, the one that wrote the Declaration of Independence and arrangedthe Louisiana Purchase?) What are they teaching to our high school students in US History? They have to learn that evolution is the only acceptable scientific theory for the beginnings of mankind but they can't learn that infamous people aren't truly influential, just remembered for their poor decisions.