Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Having Company


Friday, August 26, 2011

When things need fixing!




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Earth, Another You?




I'm loose in America or at least OKC! So when left to myself, I do something very different (Not).
I went to a movie! The rule is when I am by myself, I go to movies that Carol would not like, or if I see one that she would like, we go back later and I'll see it again. I WILL BE GOING BACK.

I went to see an independent film, "Another Earth". This movie doesn't have super stars, or 3D, or such. What it has is a super star story that is thought provoking and haunting that will grab your heart and your mind.

Since I have spent recent weeks thinking about my past mistakes, I guess someone decided to make me a movie.

I will say right now the following note: The movie deals with an incident where a drunk driver kills most of a family and the resulting aftermath. The beginning is tough. BUT the movie is about redemption, forgiveness, and not giving up on yourself or life. It is not a spiritual story but you will bring that in yourself.

Why is it called another earth?

When the movie begins, you meet Rhoda who has just been accepted to M.I.T. and she has dreamed of space since childhood. Two big events happen in one day. First is that a mirror image of the Earth and the Moon appears in the sky. Second is that Rhoda goes out to celebrate and gets drunk. On her way home that night she is looking out the car window at "Earth 2" and hits another car head-on. The Car is carrying a college music professor, his pregnant wife and their son.

The movie begins 4 years later after as Rhoda gets out of prison. Earth 2 has been contacted and it appears that it is inhabited with "us"! Our clones, our parallel selves are there.

Then the story begins. You will have to see it. Based on my experiences this is a very well done portrayal of lose, and on reliving bad experiences. If that was all there was to it, it would be a well done dreadful story. But it actually takes your heart and mind on an emotional roller coaster. There are very few main characters, and very few locations. Every outdoor scene shows Earth 2 in the sky and that idea is woven into the other story in a profound way.

Would you go visit the other you if you could? What if it might change things?

Science Fiction, Yes

Realism, Yes

Surprise Ending, Yes

Good Movie for thinkers, Yes

I give this movie ****stars

2011 Movie # 42

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

That's the way the Wyndham BLOWS!

We have a time share. That alone is a story. When we bought into this idea, we were better off financially. In past years we bought into one at Branson, one in Vegas, and one at Disney World. All are paid for except the Florida one. All are part of Wyndham Vacation Resorts. As you may know what you actually buy is points! The amount of yearly points we accumulate from our buys, enable us to go almost any where (Nashville, The Smokies, even Cruises). We have enjoyed this very much, but there are always "catches". Besides paying for the properties, there are monthly Maintenance charges. Ours have risen over time to an additional $130.00 per month.

With our change in work and income we could use a little help.

NOTE: When you by a time share, you are told that because you have a deeded property, you have an investment! We were told that our Disney property would keep growing. NOTE: There is NO market for these! At Branson you see these places that say they buy timeshares. Yes, at 1/10 the value! THERE IS NO REAL MARKET!

Now the story begins:

THE HOUSING DEAL: WYNDHAM STYLE

Each time we go on a trip, Wyndham Member Services wants to stop by to check and see if all is well and "Is there anything we can help you with?" We asked about the changes that we had heard about and the guy, Loy Frazier, was shocked that we had not be contacted. We made an appointment for the next day to talk about some good opportunities that included: refinancing, lowering our maintenance costs, getting a personal vacation assistant, and managing our points better.

THE MEETING:

Old Loy, our friend, met with us and explained that he had found out why we weren't getting notices and that we had missed a very important meeting with would have given us some great options. He went on and on about the meeting. I stopped him and said, "I know we missed the meeting. Can we move forward?" He did not like that!

He (still in good guy mode) did show us how to get discounts on our vacations and room up grades.

He then started explaining that our current deed and maintenance costs are bad. The maintenance costs will continue to grow until our kids won't want to inherit them. My goodness, he was convincing us that we were in a trap caused by Wyndham. BUT don't you know that they figured out how to help us. "While I go get some paperwork that THEY are sending since YOU missed the meeting just fill out this stuff."

What he gave us was a Wyndham Rewards Visa Credit Card App! When he returned he immediately showed us that if we took ALL our monthly bills and other credit cards and put it all on this card, we could OVER time get rid of "all our maintenance fees." WOW isn't that great?

What is the interest rate we ask? He changes the subject.

Now let's convert the deeds into a points type deed and we can save further increases.

I won't bore you, but this took TWO hours.

Instead of paying your monthly payment of $290.00 for 5-1/2 more years and paying $130.00 per month maintenance why not buy into a system that after a $10,000.00 down payment and a ten year note at $490.00 per month (12% interest) and a "locked -in' $170.00 per month maintenance fee very thing will be better. And you know that your $170,00 per month will go away because of your new credit card.

Summary:

Now: NO $10,000 Proposed: Give us $10,000.00
Now: $290.00 a month for 5-1/2 years Proposed: $490.00 for 10 years
Now: $130.00 per month maintenance (subject to rising) Proposed: $170.00 per month
Now: ! Proposed: Use a credit card with unknown interest!

Well, Mike and Carol, what could be better?

At this point it, became identical to buying a car complete with righting things down, leaving the room coming back with a Better deal. And even the Manager coming in!

Mind you, at no time did we say we were interested. We said NO to the down payment. No to not knowing the credit card interest rate, and no to the increased cost of everything.

He kept returning until the down payment was down to $36.00! Of course they interest rate rose to almost 15% and the monthly payment to about $600.00.

When we mentioned, that we were not about to make such a commitment today. WELL he got extremely indignant and stomped out of the room! The cleanup guy immediately came in to rescue but he quickly saw that he better leave as well!

By the way: There was no refinance option, No personal assistant, NO Help ANYMORE since we are renegades!

I still like our timeshare, but I have NO use for WYNDHAM RESORT MANAGEMENT!

P.S. We still don't know what the credit card rate was!

Otherwise Branson was fun, and my old friend, Loy, is still on the loose.

This is a true story of how you too can lower your monthly expenses.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Silver Dollar City overload


We had scheduled a trip to Silver Dollar City (SDC) for several weeks. Today was the big day, but to our surprise, it was everybodyelse's big day as well. Seems the Missouri St. John's/Mercy Hospital System gave out free tickets to people in their system. We were told that SDC averages 15,000 people a day. Today there were 45,000 people!

The park offers free parking but our over an hour trip the 8 miles to SDC led us through the park and out again. We were shown parking several miles from the park. A bus picked us up. When we made it to the ticket window, they told us that since they were over loaded, we were given free tickets for use after today and until the end of the year.

This was a busy place.

All the Joplin Mercy Hospital(the one destroyed by the tornado) folks, wore bright colored shirts that had a cool logo on the front saying: "Mercy & Joplin Rising!" and on the back:

"We are troubled;
yet not distressed.
We are perplexed,
but not in despair.
Persecuted
but not forsaken.
Cut down
but not destroyed."

2 Cor. 4:8

Very cool indeed!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

getting advice




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cartoon Fix


What to do with my old cameras?


I have assembled a strange segment of my recent past technology. I have a great Kodak 750H slide projector (and several hundred slides). I have a great Nikon 35 mm Camera. I have a Polaroid Camera (that still works). AND I have a great VHS video camera with aluminum carry case, tripod, etc. This camera could take single frame or movies. I could hook it to a TV and make it a VHS recorder. I also have a Palm PDA that is twice as large as current cell phones.

Of Course I also have an iPhone that does everything I just described!

The question remains why do I do with my history? AND what happens in a few years when we go to the garage and see an iPhone 4 and wonder about what to do with that relic? Since now we have a memory chip implanted in our head that takes the place of the phone, movies, etc. because we just download straight our our brain the new experiences of life.

Oh well these things are either junk or future exhibits at the "Antique Road Show"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Soul Surfing and Soul Searching


I rented & watched the movie, "Soul Surfer" the other night. It is an uplifting true story about the surfer who lost her arm to a shark and returned to competition against the odds to become a champion. It is a good story in the great list of "overcoming the odds" stories. I found my self drawn to her main competitor in the story. She was of equal accomplishment and never extended support to the girl who lost her arm. She was in it for her self and her alone. The movie, though, showed a happy ending where the competitor came around and "played nice."

You and I don't see that very often. I have been lucky. While I have some that I might call adversaries, they do not wish me ill. Defeat, maybe! But the people in my life are easy to navigate because I will never give up or give in. I can smile with them and at them.

I have friends though that are tormented by demons in their head and real adversaries that want nothing short of failure for my friends. It makes me ache.

I have a preacher friend that can't shake the negative vibes that he constantly gets from a very few people that have tried to unsettle him for years. This pressure robs him of the joy of the work that God has set before him. He has broad support from silent masses, but it is the constant questioning and doubting that becomes his curse. The weird thing is that he is actually excelling at the moment! He just can't enjoy the ride.

I have a politician friend who is leader of the free world. He knew it would be tough when he took the job and he even said that it would take a while to get things going in the right direction. His adversaries started day one to see that he could not succeed. They did a good job, and he did not respond. He is loosing the fight, because WE like train wrecks. I have thought to myself, "Who could have pulled this off?" My answer, "No One." Even Reagan could not succeed in this environment. I see no one in the public eye that has the trust to be in charge. This politician will be very successful after he is out of office and suddenly will be very smart again.

I have uncovered several business friends, who have gone through some of the things that I am weathering. A couple of them will succeed through these moments. One is being piled on by adversaries that wish nothing but ill will.

It is sad to me that in almost all cases, the adversaries of my friends are "Christians". Their Bibles seem to say, "Be Perfect as I (Them) am perfect." These Christians are well equipped to deal out the "Go in Peace, but just GO! vibes" or the, "If you could see the you that I see, you would give up!"

If we could stop a minute and make a list of the people that bug us and then ask GOD if they are also on His list, His answer might change us.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as thought something strange were happening to you...............
.........So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."

I Peter 4: 12-19 (read the in between parts!)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crazy Stupid Love



I have delayed seeing the movie, "Crazy, Stupid Love". I don't know why. I guess I thought it was just another romantic comedy. We went to see it today. It IS a romantic comedy but it was not what I expected. It is well written, well acted, well casted, and well done. It is a "slice of life" story with many twists and turns. Every actor was superb. The scene with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling was classic. It if think you might like this, you will. It is PG13 because they "thoughtfully" (sarcasm ) injected the F-bomb once in the middle.

It is also a deeper story than one may expect in that it deals with the loneliness and mask-wearing so prevalent in life today.

I give it *** stars. 2011 Movie #41.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cartoon Fix


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Help & me



I went to see the movie, "The Help" tonight. It is based on a novel that I should have read and still will. In Katie Couric's book there is a story about the author. The book was rejected over 30 times before it was published.

I liked the movie a lot even though it was hard at times because it accurately reminds me of my past. I did not grow up in Mississippi and certainly not in a society that could afford servants and maids. BUT: About 1958 the "white" movie theater in my Oklahoma home town burnt down. The owner also owned another theater about two blocks away that was the "Colored" theater. He thought about alternating nights for the races with his remaining building, but he was quickly told that the whites would not come. So he closed the remaining theater! If the whites wouldn't go, the blacks couldn't!

At my church in the 1960's one Sunday a black couple from the "Black" church came to worship with us. Seems their church was having a squabble. No one turned them away, but every one was let's say "cool". That afternoon the word got around town and the Baptist church had a hastily called business meeting and voted to turn any "coloreds" away.

I was in the last segregated class at my school in 1965. I lived with town and "Nigger" town. laundry-mats divided with white and colored sides, etc.

I was asked one Sunday after church in 1959 to had out pamphlets as people left church. The pamphlets stated the downfall the USA if Kennedy was elected president. It stated that he would answer only to the Pope!

Enough of that. I think I have proved that I lived in "The Help" era.

The movie is a good snap shot of our past. It is well made. The music is spot on as are the fashions (except Emma Stone's hair). The actors are superb especially Voila Davis, Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone. You need to see this movie. That is unless you are bigoted!

It is happy, sad, thoughtful, and hopeful.

I give it **** stars.

2011 movie #40!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reading Mike Leach


I am currently reading Mike Leach's book. "Swing Your Sword". I was already a fan of his (even though he always coached against my team), but this book is a treat. I will talk more about it later, but he and I are kindred spirits (which scares me).

Mike gets Skyped!



I have known about Skype for a while. I have participated in Skype Conferences, and always thought that we need to get the family into the idea. My wife, Carol, made it a mission. We have Skype at home and on my iPhone. Most nights lately we talk to our daughter and her husband and our granddaughter (from Fort Worth). It is so cool!

We were driving back home on the turnpike on Monday night when they called on my cell phone.
My wife talking the home, we had a 20 minute video call at 75 mph. Don't try this at home!

Fun with technology!

FYI: at work we just took a job in the Oklahoma Panhandle and will set up video conferencing to aid communications there as well. Welcome to the Future.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rise of Planet of the Apes, the movie not the politics




Note: In my last blog, I mentioned that "Planet of the Apes" sounded like Congress. I stand corrected. The Apes are much smarter!

Yes, we went to see "Rise of Planet of the Apes" today. It is the prequel before Charlton Heston arrives back on Earth from his space voyage. As a matter of fact you movie buffs need to play attention to the TV's in the background and the Newspaper headlines at come into view. Heston has already blasted off to Mars as the story begins. It is also fun that at one point one of the actors is watching Heston in a TV movie.

But I digress. The movie is fun and has the right amount of bad people around to agitate the monkeys so that revenge is set up. Especially the guy that played Malfoy in Harry Potter. He continues to be a jerk. James Franco and company do a good job. San Francisco also is good as the token city to be ravaged.

I liked well enough. By the by stay for the credits because it sets up the rest of the movie.
For you readers out there, "The Rise" takes a little from Stephen King's "The Stand" and mixes it with Michael Crichton's "Congo" about a scientist in San Francisco with an intelligent ape.

I give it **1/2 stars

2011 Movie # 39

Cartoon Fix


Friday, August 5, 2011

Cartoon Fix


Cowboys and Aliens (not the republican version)




We went to see "Cowboys and Aliens" tonight. I have been anticipating this since I first heard about it. The title seems to be referring Republican ideas on immigration problems in Arizona, but it's about "Alien" type aliens! Critics don't like it but who cares? We get to see Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford and a great cast. AND unlike Washington, by the end of the movie the good guys, the bad guys and the Native Americans are all on the same side against the REAL bad guys. The creatures are really nasty and ugly. Hollywood keeps improving on the slim. It is a great diversion from our Cowboys in Washington.

That reminds me the next movie up is about Congress its a prequel to "Planet of the Apes". History on how we got in our mess through greed and experimentation. There's also a new Democratic movie out called, "Crazy, Stupid Love" . Choices, Choices.

I give the Cowboys ***stars for the relief.

2011 movie #38

Spoiler alert!

Sorry to ruin the movie but I did download a clip of the alien with David Craig.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peace like a River, the Book


For Father's day I received a Barnes & Noble gift card. With it I ordered the new Katie Couric book and had a little left on the card balance. I went into the list of sale books and found this book, "Peace like a River" by Leif Enger. I must say that the subject intrigued me but so did the price. Boy, that was a great bargain.

It is hard to describe the novel, but I'll try. The story is set in North Dakota in 1962. The Land family is a Father (school janitor), a 15 year old son (who hunts), a 9 year old daughter with a big imagination and a good writer, and a 11 year old asthmatic son (who tells the story).

The father is a man of deep faith who holds the family together. The story is about miracles, murder, the kindness of strangers, manhunts, and the minds of young children. There are references to Bible Stories, Zane Grey novels, Huck Finn and Airstream Trailers.

The fun is that the story is unfolded in the mind of an 11 year old who addresses the reader as if you are with him. The audio book is read by Rob Lowe who does an amazing job.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a quick read that will leave you wanting to follow this family further.

Those of you that know the hymn (where the book gets its title) will see that it is a good choice.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Client Tales

I got a new project this week. It is a school out in the Oklahoma Panhandle (an 8 hour drive). Here's the thing. The town is on the border of Oklahoma and Texas so much that the elementary school is in Texas and the middle school/high school campus is in Oklahoma. The elementary has its own Superintendent and school board as does the high school. There are just in different states! Texas pays for lower grades and Oklahoma the rest. Imagine voting bond issues!

I got another project this week in Lawton. It's a College Softball Stadium. We got the project because of the five firms being interviewed, we were the only team to talk about the playing fields! The other firms just showed pictures of giant stadiums that they could not afford!

One strange thing. I have been in four interviews in the last two weeks. Our interview teams wear coat and tie (as does the competition). I do not. Why? Of the four clients, none of the owners wore coat, tie or long sleeves, though the marketing books tell us to. You know what the clients say? "You guys look hot!" After all its 115! It is my policy to consider the client but show them that I have common sense. It has worked so far.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Passing By


I passed by an old office today,
that once captured my time.
I did not stop and did not stare,
for nothing remains for me there.

I passed by an old project today,
remembering the plan, the site.
I could not tarry in recent past,
but pleased to know that memories last.

I passed by an old friend today,
and thought of times gone by.
We're strangers now because I know
that too many miles come and go.

Plans and plots and events fly by
framing my history as I stroll.
With my mind still weighted by this life's load,
I venture down less traveled roads.

Mike Martin