Charity, begins at home

Contribution Chart In the grand scheme of charity, I’m a fan of the “Teach a man to fish” mantra rather than being on the “Give a man a fish” side of things. This is not surprising considering my political views, but it goes deeper than that.

I’m just not a handout kinda guy. My folks didn’t pay for my college. My folks have never given me any money since I left home outside of small sums for birthday and Christmas gifts and when I was out of work for several months after a layoff, I didn’t file for unemployment (though if I had to do it all over again, I definitely would!)

Asking for stuff just isn’t in my genes. Now, if you want to just voluntarily GIVE me things, well now, that’s a completely different story. Please make your checks payable to…

This carries over to my charitable contributions as well. I have absolutely NO problem donating things to charity, and I also give money to church (ahem..*cough* *cough*…when we go).

CareerMom is just the opposite of me. She donates at work through United Way, and she was also once suckered into giving by some group that “gave” her some nifty return address labels. Now she gets no fewer than 8 or 9 charity requests by mail each week, most of which I toss in the recycle bin in the garage on my way in the door in the afternoon (I know, I know…I’m baaaad!)

I’m also not a huge fan of just giving money to a big organization, only to have half of it eaten up in administration costs, or having it go to some faraway place helping God knows whom, with God knows what.

That said, if everyone in the world were like me, it would probably be a pretty miserable place. So, I recognize my own shortcomings.

But regardless of your beliefs on the subject, the very idea of Charity, is that it should come from the heart. It shouldn’t be forced upon you because then, it’s not really Charity–it’s taxes.

With it getting near the holidays, charities are cranking up their efforts to get their piece of the pie this year and my company, like many across the country, have joined them in their efforts. I have no doubt that this is mostly just so Public Relations groups can tout how much money they’ve raised so that when next quarter’s earnings report comes out, perhaps folks will cut them a little slack.

Regardless, I’ve been ignoring the Employee Charitable Contribution Campaign e-mail for about a week now. I have not in the past, nor do I now, have a desire to have some charity automatically deduct money from my paycheck each month. So when I got another one this morning, I ignored it too.

Then, as I was sitting at my desk, my chat program popped up:

ECCC Chat

So, whether you donate or not, you’re supposed to “confidentially” respond whether or not you’re going to donate.
Fine, whatever.

I followed the link she enclosed and here’s what I had to fill out:

CCC registration

It’s not enough to say that you don’t want to donate, but they have to go about it in a way that makes you feel guilty about not doing so.

THIS, is what drives me away from it every year. It’s the tactics, as much as anything.

I truly do hate to sound all “bah Humbug’ish,” but this isn’t exactly the best time to be hitting people up for cash. But I do have an idea for my company and others who REALLY want to gen up Charity contributions:

You give me a guaranteed employment contract for the next calendar year, at my current or better salary and benefits, and I’ll donate.

How ’bout that?

My good deed for the day?

top secret Ever since I was forced out of Children’s Church into the “Big Church” with mom, dad and all the other big kids, church has been an exercise in extreme boredom for me. I remember when I was younger, sitting in the second from the front row where all the teens sat (we figured sitting up close with our friends at least got us away from our parents, even if we were then under the watchful eye of the preacher) with my eyes fixated on the pastor as he stomped to and fro on the stage. Sometimes, I remember that I’d stare at him so long and hard that I’d actually get tunnel vision. It became a game in fact–seeing how long and hard I could stare at him without blinking.

Having been in church since I was very young, I’ve heard just about every take on every story in every chapter of the Bible. I’ve heard metaphors made out of Psalms that would make Pythagoras scratch his head. I’ve heard God’s vengeance on Sodom and Gomorrah soliloquized to the point where one could almost hear the screams of the city’s denizens as the fire rained down, and I’ve heard Jesus the Fisherman preached so much that I could almost tell you what his bait of choice was when fishing the Sea of Galilee with his buds.

You preach it, I’ve heard it, and that’s why to this day, church bores the mess outta me. But there are other reasons I go; such as for my kids.

Because we can’t seem to settle down in a church, and because I never see myself  “joining” another church, MLI doesn’t have a bunch of friends at church that he likes to go play with. Previously, any attempts to make him go to children’s church so that mom and dad could watch the service without having to constantly admonish him to be quiet while also fishing crayons off the floor, were met with extreme crying and fit-pitching. But this past Sunday, I was determined to make him go to children’s church if it was the last thing I did.

We actually got there early, thanks to having started getting ready at 7 a.m. We checked the boys in and a nice lady escorted MLI and me upstairs to a “holding area” where they put a lot of kids until all the various teachers show up. As soon as we arrived at his room, he started his act:

  • Hands in his mouth
  • Pulling away from me
  • A slowly rising whine that threatened to embarrass me in public

So, I squatted down and said, “Come here, let’s talk.”

Not quite sure what to make of this odd development that didn’t involve daddy yelling and threatening to spank him, he stopped whining and with his hand still in his mouth, came over to me.

I said, “I’m gonna tell you a little secret, but you have to PROMISE not to tell mommy ok?
(In my head, George Strait was singing, “…a secret that my daddy said, was just between us…)
He nodded.

In a hushed voice, I told him, “I don’t like church either. It’s kinda boring, and it’s long and stuff. But, mommy likes for us to go and we want you to learn about Jesus and stuff, so that’s why we all go. So do me a favor, and just go in there and try and have fun and before you know it, it will be all over.”

He looked at me with those red eyes and with a bit of a sniff, he turned to face the head lady who was coming towards him, hunched over and with a cow sock-puppet on her hand. As she got near, a spooky voice emanated from the sock puppet, “I’m scared too!”

I wanted to say, “Lady, you’re not helping,” but rather, I took off running down the hall before he could change his mind and come running back to me.

Turned out, he had a great time. They ate lots of junk food, and made rice crispy treats for me and CareerMom. In fact, he was talking about how next time he didn’t want to come in big church with us.

So, mission accomplished.

If so though, why I do I feel kinda crappy about it? At the time, I thought maybe he would appreciate a little “man to man” truth–a secret that was just his and daddy’s. But now I’m not so sure. What if I just colored his religious experience for the rest of his life? What if, rather than being open to what God wants to do in his life, he’s instead just going to go through the motions to make other people happy?

I’m struggling with this, even in the face of apparent success.

What do you think? Did I help, or hurt?

My what smooth hands you have

At least three people in our house show the signs of having a shoe fetish (I’ll let you Postulate on which three). As such, we have a LOT of shoes. Many of these shoes tend to congregate in the garage since that’s where we generally come in and out of the house.

I dropped by my friendly neighborhood Target and picked up one of those cheapy metal cage things with dividers to store your shoes in. In addition to it being quite cheap, it is also constructed using those little plastic clips like they use in IQ tests to see if you can figure out what shape something will be in once you put it together (well, OK, in IQ tests they use origami, but it’s still just as difficult).

I finally got the thing together,IMG_2433 but it remained tenuously intact. The slightest bump, such as the one from MLE’s big plastic car flying down the driveway at 10MPH, just destroyed the thing and I’d have to spend 15 minutes looking at it like Curious George looks when he’s trying to figure out a thorny problem concerning Hundley and one of the building’s residents.

Now, a couple of years ago, I discovered the BEST glue on the planet–Gorilla Glue. If you’ve never used it, it’s this thick brown stuff that expands for about an hour after you squirt it out of the bottle. It foams up to about three times its normal size and is about as strong as…well, I don’t know, but the stuff is STRONG.

So, I whipped it out yesterday and started gluing all the shoe rack’s joints. It was getting close to the time for me to leave to pick up the boys from Daycare, so I got a tad careless with the stuff and by the time I was finished, I had it all over the garage floor, and all over my hands (later that night, I found huge clumps in my hair).
No worries,” I thought. “I’ll just rub some turpintine on it.”
But…turpintine didn’t work.

Soap didn’t work.

Even some very caustic paint remover didn’t work, but my hands did enjoy a nice chemical peel.

The glue is so tough that it stuck to the green scrubby thing I used when trying to scratch it off my fingers:

IMG_2435

But, what all my efforts did do, was remove the big chunks of glue on my hands and spread it around my the entirety of both of my hands. It’s so thinly spread, that you can’t see it, but I can feel it. It filled in my pores so it’s like I’m wearing silk gloves. Everything I touch just sort of glides away from my grasp thanks to a lack of fingerprint texture.

When I touch my own skin (here, here and…nevermind), I can feel the pressure and I can sense the warmth, but I can’t actually feel the texture. It’s very odd.

You know…you’ll never get back the 2 minutes you spent reading this, but at the very least, I’ve informed you about the wonders and dangers of Gorilla Glue.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Maybe I can invest the money I saved…

It seems that I’m forever fighting the natural flow of water around my house. Since we’ve moved in, I’ve ripped out all kinds of old drain lines and replaced them with new ones, but problems still keep popping up.

Most recently, the gutter on the highest part of my house (where I can’t reach) started just gushing over the side, gouging a hole in the ground where it splashed during a really rainy day. My first thought was that I had a clogged gutter, but I couldn’t be sure because I couldn’t see in it.

My local gutter guys wanted $110 to come clean it out, a price I didn’t want to pay until all the trees had dropped their leaves at least. But I’m a tad (just a tad) anal about knowingly having things wrong with my house and my not fixing them, so I started relooking at the problem and decided that perhaps the problem wasn’t in the gutter, but in the drain lines.

The original builders had used that cheapo corrugated plastic piping and I’ve ripped enough defective pieces of it outta the ground to know it was probably suspect. So I found the start of the pipe at the bottom of the downspout, and using some exploratory shoveling, found where it plunged deep into the slope of my backyard hill. I stuck the hose in it and turned the water on to see if I could find out where the water was coming out, if in fact it was, but I couldn’t find it.

To make a long story short, I ended up ripping the whole thing out and here’s what I found:
IMG_2432

I replaced this plasty-crap with about 25 feet of 4″ PVC piping. Miraculously, I dug under two sprinkler lines and didn’t break either of them.

IMG_2431

It was a banner day…but I have a feeling my back is going to be screaming tomorrow.
Now I just have to get that retaining wall done, but then I’m sure it’ll be something else…