Sunday, June 29, 2008

Casting Crowns and Hidden Tracks

One of the newest (and somewhat annoying) fads these days is for musicians to put a "hidden track" on their CD's. Seems like they are usually unique and different artistic endeavors from the group's normal stuff. For instance, on one of Third Day's CD's; they actually have someone beside Mac Powell singing (Mac sings lead on, I think, every song they've ever released).

Let me get to the point. Casting Crowns newest CD, The Altar and the Door, contains, you guessed it, a hidden track. I think it's one of the most beautiful on the CD. A moving song, maybe more so once you realize the context (explained in the video intro.) But it's hidden! How ridiculous is that?


Update: As Robert said in the comments; the way they are hidden, and the reason they are annoying is that they are usually included on the final track of the CD. So, you don't even know they're on the CD until you are in the room listening long past the end of what is billed as the last track. Then, POOF, there's music coming from your CD again. But it's a song you've never heard before. And you go to look on the CD jacket; and there is no information, no song listing, no credits, nada. Annoying.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Bugs at Sunset

To see more WW, go here.
To see more pictures from this set and others, I'd be delighted if you dropped by here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alaska Air Technology or The Glory of Call-In Centers

What could possibly go wrong (heavy organ music-dun dun dunnnnn)? We just have our call-center employees handle each call with significant quality; but allow them only two minutes to do it in. That was the thinking of the call center at PruCare California, where I used to work. Yes, they've gone out of business. My dealing today with Air Alaska brought back vivid and horrible flashbacks from that period.

Much like the dad who says, "I spend 5 minutes with Junior every evening. But its quality time.", so went the thinking of the phone center I worked at. You had to take a minimum of 60 calls a day or risk getting written up; and never moving up, with the company. Forbid it that you should actually try to solve the customer issue if it took too long. Granted, the customer would be happy and not call back, but your call count would be in the toilet along with your promotion.
So, I've been emailing Alaska Air about adding last years flight information to my current Mileage account. I'd sent three emails to them, and learned from their responses that, yes, I could add last years flight if it was within one year of my informing them. Also, somehow, I have two accounts with them. Good information, all of it.

My fourth email back to them, clarifying all of my previous addresses and information got a response back that said, "Your concern cannot be addressed via email. You must contact the call center at...."

Which I promptly did. The girl at the call center could find no trail of my emails. She also informed me that no Debbie or Jenny worked there! I was tempted to scream into the phone, "MAYBE THOSE AREN'T THEIR REAL NAMES!" But why call attention to the obvious.

The girl at the call center, whose name also only had two syllables (Frieda), advised me that she could combine my accounts but she could not add my mileage from last year over the phone. No, I can't send it into her via email either. I have to freakin fax it in or mail it in. Because we're an airline; and even though we've lost thousands of customers, this is the way we've always done it!

Well, I'm sure all of those girls with the two-syllable names are on their way up the corporate ladder. One more customer call taken, one more email answered. Aarph!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On Sarah Sylvia and Going Dark

There's a Shel Silverstein poem about a girl that would not take the trash out and it ends like this:

And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout
And always take the garbage out!

I'm pretty much feeling like Sarah Sylvia at the moment, well, except that I'd like to take the garbage out. And pay the bills. And fold my laundry. But for some reason which I've not sorted out yet, I'm being chased by a large beast which keeps me from getting these things done.

I go to sleep, and I see the beast there. It stalks me, and screams at me, "I am the beast of Deadlines." Sometimes, another beast appears, too. A darker, slower, sloth-like beast shouting, "I am the beast of bad time-management."

Albeit, some of the time issues are just results of this short season of life. I've got the two jobs so I can keep the credit cards at bay. The Coffee Kiosk has its issues lately which are feeding the beasts.

Anyhow, I'm going to try and pull back for a week or two and assess what I can cut out, what I can leave in. And I think that part of the process will be to go dark for a tad.

I may not even be able to pry myself away from doing a post or two. But, if I do, it'll only be until the laundry gets folded and the bills get paid. Oh, and I guess I better take the garbage out!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Vindication-Elvis Rocks

I had this urge to crank some Elvis Costello all day today. All because at the coffee shop we put the name of the customer on the cup. "What's the name on that, please?"

So, got home and put on the CD. Hailey said, (say this with a sneer in your voice)"Who's this? I can't even understand what this guy's saying." She quickly started calling it Old People Music.

Tonight while at the supermarket she bought a People Special Collector Edition on the Jonas Brothers. Young People Music.

Guess whom one of the Jonas brothers listed as his favorite musician and inspiration?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Makin Lotsa People Blue: Project Blue

As always, to see what others did, or to thank Anna, go here.

Psalm 107 Meditations

There are seasons in life when God brings us from valleys of darkness into fertile places; lands of milk and honey.
Psalm 107 reads,

“They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
They did not find a way to an inhabited city,
They were hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out the Lord in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.

He led them also by a straight way,
To go to an inhabited city.
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with good food.”
Interestingly enough, in verses 35-36,

“He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water;
And there He makes the hungry to dwell,
So that they may establish an inhabited city.”
God sometimes chooses to either lead to an inhabited city, or makes provision to build an inhabited city.

Been thinking about this in light of my present circumstances, a blog post, and phone calls I received this week.
‘Bottom line, her husband wants out and there's not much she can do to stop him. She and I have talked for hours, and it breaks my heart when she asks "Why is it so hard for him to love me?" "How can he do this to me, our children?"’

The conversation last night was an echo of the first one. He’s been out of the relationship for two years. For the first six months he couldn’t see his children. Following that, he could only see them when a court appointed mediator was present. He’s still praying to God for direction. At this juncture, there is still no end in sight.
Then, there was the other phone call. Never good to get a a late night phone call from the mother of your childhood friend. “Did you know Russ has cancer?" My friends’ dad; I'd spent my childhood years in their yard and at their dinner table.

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
He saved them out of their distresses. He sent his word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.”
Today I find myself in a blessed, glad place. My work is fun, challenging, and allows me to be myself. Doors for ministry continue to open. Financially, I find myself on stable ground (finally!). Surrounded by countless good male friends and possibilities for female relationship as well. Food in the fridge and a roof over my head.

So what can be said to those fainting in the wilderness? May we continue to cry out to the Lord. Repeatedly the Psalmist says, “They cried out to the Lord in their trouble…” Let us look forward to deliverance, and the inhabited city. Hopefully, it will come soon and in this lifetime. If not, for those who are His, it will come soon enough, and will be a permanent deliverance from affliction and destruction.
On that day, we will be able to say with the Psalmist,

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary…”
and let us look to the coming of the holy city when God will be among us, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death, any mourning, any crying or any pain.

“Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, and consider the lovingkindness of the Lord.”