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Archive for July, 2008

NPR and Sick Leave

At the recommendation of a friend, I began iGoogling while on vacation.  The custmoized home pages that iGoogle creates for you are a lot of fun.  I usually spend some time checking out stories and other interesting stuff each day . . . looking for sermon illustrations.

On my iGoogle news page today I checked out a story from NPR about sick leave.  NPR, along with two other organizations, had conducted polls in Ohio and Florida to find out how many people call in sick to work, how many do not and why people – who have paid sick leave – do not often use their sick leave.

NPR surmised two reasons why people with sick leave do not make full use of that leave time:  (1) they are afraid of their bosses or (2) the economy is so bad that they can’t afford to take sick leave.  NPR failed to note that the failure to use this sick time might imply that a majority of Americans don’t get sick enough to use the time or just have a good work ethic!

Before I continue, let me tell everyone right up front that my opinions about this will be conservantive and largely shaped by having spent six years in management of 45 employees; all of whom (including part-time employees) had paid sick leave, as well as paid personal leave, paid vacation and paid leave for bereavement (and it was a relatively small business).

As to NPR’s reason #2:  most sick leave is paid.  That’s why they are called sick days.  People can miss work without penalty.  The same cannot be said for the company that offers sick leave or the other employees who show up at work.  The company loses money and productivity while the employee stays home to recuperate and still makes money.

As to reason # 1:  there are mean employers and bad managers; people who don’t have a sympathetic bone in their bodies, but for each employer who is like that there must be at least five employees who decide to call in sick for work at the first sound of a sneeze or the first sign of a hang-nail.  More than once I have watched employees waste paid sick time for trivial causes only to turn around and not have that sick time available at a time when it was really needed.

This does not excuse the companies and organizations that are simply cruel.  My wife was telling me just last week of a woman whose child was diagnosed with cancer and she was fired for having to take too many days off for the child’s treatments.  Shame on that company AND shame on all on all of those employees whose abuse of sickleave policies force companies to come up with such drastic, across the board sick-leave policies that end up punishing the people who really need some leniency and some help.

Simply put:  I don’t buy it.  Those of us who have paid sick leave should use it wisely and appreciate it rather than dreaming up ludicrous and whining stories to tell NPR.  On the rare occasion that I am sick (I have never taken more than 8 days of “sick-leave” in the entire 15 years that I have been working), I am often reminded of many of the folks I know who run small businesses or are self-employed.  When they get sick, they just don’t get paid . . . consequently most small business people are some of the hardest working people in our nation.

Bottom line:  if you’ve got sick leave, treat it with respect, use it wisely and be grateful for it.  Enough whining, already!

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A few upcoming events and on-going things here at GCF that I am excited about . . .

Cancun Mission Trip . . . 11 GCF’ers are going to Cancun in two weeks to do ministry and mission there for a week.  This is my first international mission trip and I am incredibly excited about it.  I am already working on lining out three trips for GCF next summer (one for each month).  Our goal is to have the bulk of our body regularly involved in short-term missions.

Nehemiah Weekend . . . our first annual fall leadership retreat is coming up on October 10, 11, 12 at Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center (near Louisville – in Oldham County).  The weekend will have some teaching and worship and give our team leaders, staff and elders a chance to get to know one another better and “gel”.  I am already working on teachings for the weekend which – in our first ever go-round for the leadership retreat – will be coming from Nehemiah.  We are hoping to repeat this each year with a different guest speaker(s)/leader(s) coming along with us!

SLP Team . . . our community service team is coordinating a whole day of snacks and food for the teachers at the Jessamine Early Learning Village here in Wilmore.  Due to budget cuts in Kentucky all schools had to cut back funding for continuing education so the SLP-Team decided to help out by coordinating GCF in an effort to show the teachers at the Village just how much we appreciate what they do and that we support them in their efforts to get all of Jessamine County’s youngest children off to a good educational start!

Connections Pastor . . . we are in a real period of transition right now in regards to staffing.  Our new worship leader officially begins his time with us this coming Sunday (after 1 1/2 months of transition with our out-going worship leader).  Matt Rapach, our Connections Pastor, is also leaving at the end of August.  The Elder Council approved a recommendation from the GCF Staff that a new Connections Pastor be hired who would focus almost entirely on developing our network of Community (small) groups and continuing to work with the First Impact Team on Sunday mornings.  The hiring team will be interviewing several candidates next week.

Building Design Team . . . the Elder Council is also in the process of visioning and thinking about a new worship facility.  The EC appointed a Building Design and Property Layout Team that has been meeting this summer.  In August, this team will begin the process of meeting with those who serve in various areas of ministry at GCF to solicit their advice and suggestions for building design.

VIsion Weekend . . . we don’t have a nice name for this yet, but if all goes well with the building design process, we will be having a vision weekend in November to pull the body together and celebrate GCF’s future!

As you can tell, I’ve got a lot to work on, so I’m going to stop writing now and get to work!

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I promised some comments on Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E after seeing it on Saturday with Max and my father-in-law.

The Plot:  The earth has been totally trashed by over-indulgent humans who have fallen prey to the parasitic onslaught of “Buy-in-Large”; a large conglomerate that is obviously intended to make us think of Walmart.  Wall-e is the last remaining robot that Buy-in-Large (called BnL in most of the movie) had created to try to help clean up all of the trash that humans had produced.  Wall-e is lonely and has a fascination with the movie Hello Dolly.  As depicted in one of Dolly’s love scenes, Wall-e longs to hold the hand of another robot.  His chance finally comes when Eve, a much more sophisticated robot, arrives on earth.  Wall-e falls in love with Eve.  Eve finds a small seedling (a sign of inhabitable life on earth) and she is whisked away back into outer space, but not before Wall-e becomes a stow-away.  When they arrives in space, we discover that there are still humans who have been evacuated from the earth on a huge space station created by BnL.  What ensues is a battle between the forces that want to return to earth (Wall-e, Eve, some renegade robots and the space station’s captain) and the forces that want to  keep humans in space (the robots that want to destroy the evidence of inhabitable life on earth).  In the end, the computers and robots are destroyed, the humans return to earth and Wall-e and Eve discover that they love one another.

On the whole, I found Wall-e to be far more entertaining than Pixar’s last two ventures (Cars and Ratatouille).  Both Cars and Ratatouille were incredibly predictable and overwhelmingly long!  The only predictable outcome in Wall-e was that he and Eve would most likely end up together.  The rest, however, only became predictable as the plot unfolded.  In other words, each plot movement in the movie foretold what was coming next, but did not give away the overall scope of the movie’s plot or climax.

The obvious environmental and capitalistic slam at Wal-mart and large corporations was way too obvious and could have easily overcome the movie’s story, but the Pixar folks made their point and then moved on.  It remains interesting to me that Disney; one of the world’s largest entertainment conglomerates (ABC, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, various movie production companies, etc) were making a slam at Walmart.  Disney holds as much, if not more, sway over the purchasing power of young children and tween-agers as Walmart.  I only need mention Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers; both of whom call the Disney company their home.

Fortunately the movie was not a rant about horrible humans destroying the earth and the savior robots having to f ix it.  In the end, it is a movie about the redemption of humanity.  When we first meet “humanity” in the movie, they are all overweight slobs who ride around all day on “moving recliners” watching some kind of cyber-land cross between laptops and televisions.  They can see only what is right in front of them on the screens.  When Wall-e accidentally knocks the screens off of two of these humans, they discover that there is a world beyond the cyber-fitted screens.  This is the beginning of humanity’s redemption in the movie.  In the end, humans help Wall-e, Eve and the renegade robots return humanity to earth where they again discover the joys of gardening and caring for the planet.

I really resonated with this theme in the movie.  America is now the fattest nation on the earth and the average parent spends 3 hours a day watching television and only 6 minutes a day playing with their children.  Children spend an average of 4 hours a day watching television and only 15 or so minutes outside.  When outside, they are scarecely able to entertain themselves.  Again, it was interesting that Disney, the King of kid entertainment, was taking a slam at our dependency on television and computer entertainment.

I left the movie convicted to spend more time with my family in the out of doors.  In fact, I’m going to  go ahead and build the gardening boxes in my back lawn that Sydney has been asking for and that I’ve been procrastinating on.

As Wall-e so aptly points out (even in spite of Disney/Pixar’s hypocrisy in the process), there is an amazing world around us to discover and enjoy.

A postscript form my father-in-law:  it was my father-in-law who wondered if Disney/Pixar realized that the robots that saved the humans and returned them to the earth were the creation of BnL; proving that big business and capitalism also have some very important benefits.  Just as it is taking Disney/Pixar, and entertainment giant, to  call our attention to our brainless use of televised and computerized entertainment.

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Well . . . this is the last vacation update.  We will be driving home tomorrow after church and dinner with Kyra’s parents.  It has been a good vacation.

As for DayNine . . .

Kyra and I got to spend some time together this morning; eating breakfast and shopping.  We then came back to her parent’s house and laid around for a while.  Grandma Susan had the kids out and about all day doing Grandma sorts of things.

Grandpa and I took Max to see WallE this evening . . . more comments on the movie may be coming on Monday.  Grandma and Mom took Sydney to see Kit Kittredge.

The kids are going to play in the sprinkler . . . Kyra and I will start packing up . . . and tomorrow we will head for home.

I am thankful for a terrific vacation and two terrific sets of parents who fed us and let us camp out in their houses for several days on end.

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A quick review of DayEight of vacation . . .

We went with Kyra’s parents and they bought Sydney a desk for her bedroom.  Itcomes from a natural wood store where they stain the furniture.

Following the furniture shopping, Kyra and her Mom took Sydney and Max to pick blueberries and then the kids went to Camp Creek State Park where they waded in the same creek that my parents used to take me to play in . . .

Meanwhile, back at the parsonage . . . I was checking in on the Cincinnati Reds, reading some of The Lost Batallions and taking a nap.

Last night we went into downtown Beckley to a car show.  Our family agreed taht the 1931 Buick 8 Touring Sedan was our favorite car.  We ate dinner at Mama Anne’s (also known as the Greyhound Bus Top restaurant).

Today . . . Kyra and I are going for breakfast and then antiquing.

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Sorry the report on Day Seven is late, but here it is . . .

We began the morning nice and slow; sleeping later than we have yet to sleep on this vacation . . . about 9.30 to be exact.  I did some reading on Bob and Susan’s back deck which is really nice.  The lot next to their house is wooded and the tree line around their backyard makes you feel like you are out somewhere in forest.

After waiting for Kyra’s Dad to finish up teaching his course on Virtue Ethics at the local college here, we drove up to Plum Orchard Lake where we did a little walking.  We had never been to Plum Orchard Lake before, but it was really nice and quiet up there.  I could see myself camping out there for a day to do some sermon and other writing projects.

<<<—This is Kyra looking out over Plum Orchard Lake.  I really

Last night we went to eat Chinese in Sophia and then went to JCPenney’s, where Kyra got a couple of new dresses (thanks to her mom).  We also looked at these new stones – called Moissanite – that they Penney’s is carrying.  Apparently, the stones come from a meteor, or something like that.  They are clearer than diamonds and just as hard, but no less cheap than diamonds.  We got back to late to watch much of the Tour de France that Kyra’s Dad had taped earlier in the day.  I was exhausted last night and ready for bed.

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I have some pictures that I was going to post as a recap of DaySix of vacation, but the camera is in the car and I don’t feel like going out to get it . . . I might have a few tomorrow.

Anyway, we made the move to  Beckley today to spend the next few days with Kyra’s parents.

The day began with packing and laundry.  We then went to the Wednesday Power Lunch at my Dad’s church.  On Wednesday of each week they host a lunch at noon and invite those who work in the downtown to come to the church for lunch.  We had fun being with the people there and visiting with my parents and my grandpa one last time before leaving Hinton.

We went from Hinton to Grandview . . . a park and overlook in the New River National Gorge.  We took in the spectacular views and then did a bit of hiking which entailed some really amateur spelunking.  Both dachsunds were also involved in the hike.

Took a little nap at Kyra’s parents this afternoon and then went to Quiznos for dinner.  Watched a video-taped copy of Stage 11 of the Tour de France with Kyra’s Dad tonight.  It is amazing to think that those guys cycle up hill for 5 to 15km’s or so at 6% to 10% grades.  I agree with Kyra’s Dad . . . WV should invest in a bike race.  There are plenty of back roads here that could be closed for a bike race that would prove quite challening to the cyclists.

That’s all for DaySix . . . we have no set plans for tomorrow.  We are going to pick blueberries on Friday with Kyra’s mom.

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