The Church of the Golden Teapot

What is it about God that frightens non-Christian people?

WAIT….Before I go any further, I’m going to predict that my brothers and sisters in Christ are going to smile and appreciate this post. My non-Christian friends are going to think I’ve completely been brainwashed and have gone over the edge. Whatever—to both groups. I write to think, and not to spark opinion of others. (But go ahead and comment. That’s the most amusing part of blogging, ya know.)

“Why did [God] let Hitler kill all the Jews? He sounds like a big co*k to me.”

“He lets ONLY those who believe in him be saved? What happens to the other people in the world? Sounds like an a**hole.”

These are two of many such comments that came from the lips of one of my close friends. Another referred to my belief in my Savior as no different than someone worshiping a small golden teapot that revolves around Mars. You can’t see this teapot. You just have to have faith that it’s there, and that it will “fix” that which is broken or needed. The Church of the Golden Teapot quickly became the new name of said religion.

Now, some people might get upset at such comments, possibly even a few in the bar area of the restaurant in which we were sitting as evident by one of GROBs subdivision neighbors (or some similar relationship) commenting on the acoustic level of his rant. As for me, I respect his agnostic opinion. He has every right to question anything he wishes, but I’m certainly not going to tackle the Hitler question—or anything similar. Why won’t I? It’s simple; I have no idea.

Lets get one thing straight; I’m not one to spout scripture or give reason to seemingly unanswerable questions. I did, however, offer to explain how God works in my life and how my faith has helped my family and me get back on track. I could have given the It’s-God’s-will answer, but that would have been akin to me kicking him squa in da nuts, mmmkay.

And there is another thing. I consider GROB a great friend. He stuck beside me through some hard times in my life, and I pray for him during the hard times in his. He is also one of the funniest MFers I’ve ever known. Our differing beliefs will never deter me from our friendship.

Circling back to the question at hand, GROB is one to investigate and/or challenge everything; it’s in the nature of both our souls. But he chooses to judge the Christian belief versus investigating it. As he once told me, his attitude regarding Christianity is based on a childhood question he asked of his pastor. At age 10, he asked what becomes of non-Christians when they die. The pastor’s response made him turn away from the church and shun any further teaching of the Word of God.

Why is he (or others) afraid to go to church, listen, learn, and then form an opinion using adult rational? I want to know what it is that frightens non-believers out of the slightest consideration of attending anything with the word church as even a small descriptor of event XXXXX?

Just because you attend church doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s not that simple. The people from my church pressure no one to change/invent their faith, ever. The leaders of my church are educators of Christianity. They are Christians, too. It’s kinda like FOX; they teach and let you decide. There is no pressure from the congregation to “change your evil ways”. They are good people who love, and teach, and support. If you choose not to listen, fine. If you choose to argue a point, fine. There will be no judgment. And you’re still welcome to come to our services, meetings, family events, groups, trips, BBQs, or whatever. There is no “C” tattooed on anyone. No one questions why YOU are here. They’re just glad you could come, and then they will invite you back. I simply don’t understand from where all the fear comes.

The photo above is something that I made the day after GROB and I had our discussion. I did it to illustrate just how wrong I believe GROB’s opinion to be…And before you comment on how hypocritical I am because you believe that I am judging someone, try to remember that there is a difference between respecting an opinion and believing that it’s misguided.

~Click the photo to make it bigger. It’s certainly worth it.~


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Multimedia, Charter Communications, and the Planet of the Apes

I spent a huge portion of my weekend attempting to turn my home into a multimedia environment the likes of which might be seen at Disney World.

It took me about a half-day to realize that I don’t have the uber billions that Mickey and friends enjoy. What I do have, however, are two LCD TVs, one with a digital tuner and one without. I have two computers that, for all geek intents and purposes, are slighty dated, and one stand-by computer worthy of nothing more than surfing the net…at most. I also have another 13″ LCD monitor for which I paid vast sums of money three years ago.

The goals are few but complicated. I want to be able to store and control in one main location all media—photos, movies, wireless, audio, and net access. A hub, if you will. I also want to be able to:

1) Control all of it from any location (any station)
2) Stream movie and audio playback from the main hub.
3) Utilize each station as a TV and a computer
4) Use each station as a DVR to record HD or SD programming

I pretty much have it all figured out, except for the recording of HD programming. This is because 1) I’m cheap and don’t want to give the cable company any more money for renting of their damn boxes. (I have one box and I know that I can make it all work with that box) and 2) Purchasing the right digital video card for my computer is a bit complicated to get exactly what I need.

Issue two would be easily solved if issue one didn’t exist. It’s technical, so I won’t get into it. But when it comes right down to it, it’s the principle of the thing. I despise Charter Communications and their nickel-and-dime strategy to rape you of anything that they can. $5 a month for digital access and $3 a month for digital service – my ass! What the heck is that? $7 a month for HD service, $3 a month for HD access, $10 a month for an HD box, and $4 a month for any extra digital (not HD) boxes. HD boxes would be another $7 a month…or something like that. I think you know what I’m saying.

So my goal is to beat them at their own game, legally. Doing it illegally really isn’t a challenge to me any longer and that’s not who I want to be. Stealing, although risky, is simple, cheap and efficient. Doing it legally is a whole other battle. It’s much more expensive, probably more expensive than renting the equipment from Charter, at least in the short run. And the short run is rule in the world of technology. But again, it’s the principle, and the challenge. Besides that, I’ll own my equipment versus giving my money to Satan incarnate.

When I told my wife about it, she balked. It’s probably because she wants a flat LCD in the bedroom, and that’s all she wants. It makes no difference to her if I can play a movie on the TV upstairs when in all reality it’s playing on the computer downstairs. She just wants it to work every time without pushing eight buttons, turning three knobs, and adjusting this RCA input so that it fits into that coax outlet.

And I tend to agree, which is yet another reason why it’s taking such a long time and so much research. I’m making it so that all you have to do is click here to see photos, click here to see movies, click here to listen to music or click here to watch TV. (Sounds remarkably like a Charter Communications HD box, eh).

(I’m feeling slightly mad-scientist-ish right now.)

Better because I’ll make it work myself and won’t have to pay nickel and dime fees.

So here is the kicker. The whole reason that I put myself on this rampage of technology research and store hopping from Circuit City, to Best Buy, to Comp USA and back is simple, some might say foolish. But not to me.

My daughter wanted to watch a DVD on Saturday. Neither of my cheap DVD players work on my cheap and arcane TV. However, I had the movie downstairs on my computer hard drive as a backup. But she wanted to watch it in the bedroom. I got frustrated because I couldn’t give her what she wanted, and because I couldn’t make my POS DVD player work.


Muuaahhhh. I will win.


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Death of a Rittmanite

My dad died yesterday. Well, he died yesterday plus 27 years. I’ve spent the last 27 years of my life without a father, which, one would believe, has had a great deal of influence over who I am today.

Saturday, March 1, 1980, 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Clinic. I was at home with granny. We were watching the Muppets during that time, Paul Williams, I think. I was 10-years-old. Tiny, my dad, was 40.

Rewind approx. 10 months.

I was sitting in the upstairs hallway of our house. Bedroom doors were closed because I was throwing with the mustered strength of a mighty 10-year-old a bouncy ball that you get in the vending machine. The doors were closed so I could see how many times I could get the ball to ricochet before hitting the carpet. Dad was taking a bath. We didn’t have a shower, ya know. Mom came upstairs as my father said, “JC come look at this lump”. Why did I hear that? Why is this so vivid a memory when my normal brain function often balks at remembering to comb my hair?

Blur…blur….random memory of dad in the hospital…blur…blur…memory of the Cleveland Clinic smelling funny, but they had an ice cream machine in the cafeteria…blur..blur…dad at home, unable to eat, and getting sick while trying. He cried.

Blur…blur…back at the Cleveland Clinic, dad had a pretty cool roommate who talked to me…blur…Dad choking in his hospital room because an O2 tube got twisted in his throat. I was so scared and ran from the room to hide….Blur…different day at the CC, being lead into a waiting area by a family friend…

“Timmy, your daddy is going to die today.”

I cried.

I went to see him for the last time. I’m told that he was pretty much unresponsive until I walked in. When I crawled beside him he took off his O2 mask. He told me how much he loved me. “We will meet again. At some other time, in some other place.”

I told him I loved him, kissed him, and was taken out of the ICU.

He died that night.

Blur…food…blur…people….blur….food and people and food and people….funeral home….visitation…so many people…funeral and cemetery…big black car, uncle reaching in through the window to hug mom, my brother and me…blur..

The rest of my life without my father.

It makes me cry, even now. I loved him so much.


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Look to the Cookie

My daughter floored me yesterday with a tale of pre-school discrimination, rendering me speechless for at least a solid minute.

Rew began our conversation with a question as we walked to the car. “Ya know what Dolly said today that got her in trouble?” By the way, Dolly is a real person and Rew’s best friend, not cotton puff held together with stitching. “She told Little Ms. B that she couldn’t play with us because her skin was brown.”

The statement literally stopped me in my tracks.

My mind began to race for words, kinda like the time when GROB’s daughter found that funny-shaped vibrating thing on the floor while she was helping dismantle mommy’s and daddy’s bed. However, I knew almost instantly that the “It’s a special screw driver for the bed” excuse wouldn’t work. I’m quick that way, ya know.

This was hard-core real life. The right words, correct delivery relating to her world, and proper praise for not participating were extremely important. I first had to determine if her participation in the circumstance was, in fact, exempt. I’m confident it was.

After thinking about it for a while, I’m willing to bet that this was more the type of discrimination that children do to the fat kid, or the kid with glasses, or the kid who is kinda stinky. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying that it probably wasn’t rooted in racial prejudice. There is a difference, but not much.

The obligatory discussion about green skin, red noses and/or purple toes ensued at length. A child’s definition of discrimination was invented, and praise for non-participation included the words, “how proud I am of you” and cost me one piece of bubble gum and a sucker.

At bedtime we prayed. In addition to thankful blessings, we asked God to help all people understand that discrimination is unacceptable.

I held Rew’s sippy-cup of milk, the one with the green top, in my hand as I tucked her in. After which, she asked me for one last drink. I rocked the cup back and forth in my hand as if it was speaking.

Then I said in one of my best character voices, “No Reilly you can’t have a drink of me. I have a green top and you don’t. Only people with green tops can drink from me…”

She held up one finger as such when making a statement and interrupted my last effort of the day.

“Uh, daddy. Daddy! Sippy-cups aren’t people and they can’t talk.”

Lesson of the day learned. Adult insight as to the comprehension level of a 4-year-old also learned.


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Thorn in my Blog

I get an email from Popeye today telling me to write more blogs.

“Get with it dude! I am now checking your page every day. NEW BLOGS????”

What Popeye doesn’t understand is that I write for a living. Okay, maybe not every single day, all day long, but I write a lot. Currently, I’m bussin’ my hump to get this magazine written and proofed by deadline. I’ve been working on it for nearly five days, non-stop, all day long.

The worst part is, I hate this magazine; the design is completely dated and the content is, to me, so very boring. But alas, I’m in now position at the moment to go changin’. It will change, I promise you this, but not at the present moment. I’m so glad this isn’t the only thing that keeps me occupied at work.

Anyway, back to Popeye. He’s a smart man, ya know, and works in a very honorable profession. He’s an educator, a motivator, a coach, and a daddy, too. He even got himself one of them there masters degrees. But my lord, shut the hell up, Popeye.

Popeye and I grew up together, and we share a lot of the same memories. This is great for our friendship but detrimental to my blogging. Even though I attempt to keep the characters in my tales anonymous, there is enough information to peg exactly who I am, at least if you have half a wit about your brain.

Within hours of releasing Worlds Beyond Rittman to Popeye, I see comments that allude to, and actually pinpoint, some events that occurred during my adventures that I would rather not mention.

But I don’t blame Popeye. The blog is new to him, and probably to most of my friends within my former stomp.

I have faith that sooner or later blog curtsey will make that synaptic connection in his head and I’ll no longer have to worry about the extraneous details that I omit from certain stories poppeyeing up in the comment section.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have much to hide. But like most people, including Popeye, there are certain aspects of life that should be left to memory versus posted for the world to see.

Now, getting this point across to him is another matter.

How to do it? Hmmmm…..


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I Geek – I Believe

I think it might have started in 6th grade Exploratory. My first choice was A/V training. Yes, I was one of those people, although I was closeted for most of my tween-teen years. I simply couldn’t help it. I loved film and slide projectors, audio equipment, and most anything else with lots of buttons and knobs that elicited an emotional response when something mechanical was pushed, twisted, flipped or depressed.

I always loved Atari 64—which still works perfectly, arcades, calculators, and anything related to that cool new device—the PC. We had one, an Apple of course—circa 1982, in my middle school. It seems though that I wasn’t smart enough to make the cut. The Apple was only for those with grades higher than mine.

In college I started as an undeclared (not a specific field of study) business major, switched to engineering, and then switched to a geek major—photography and cinema. These were the years when I learned how to work the Apple IIe. A guy in my dorm had one, and it was soooo cool.

Years later Gates unleashed Windows 95. My girlfriend had a computer that was running Windows for Workgroups. I purchased the new OS and my addiction grew rapidly.

Now that I’m a grown man with a family and more responsibility than I ever thought I would have, I’m still a geek. The three computers, two video cameras, numerous still cameras, an Xbox, and enough software to choke a torrent might testify to the fact. There is also the aforementioned Atari 64 and a pre-Atari gaming consol sold by Sears. It works, too. It’s color and includes Pinball I & II, Pinpaddle I & II, Breakaway, Breakout and a few other things. And I swear that I’m going to get my 1986ish Playboy Pinball machine up and running again sometime in the near future.

I run a duel-boot Mac Pro Intel at work with one 23” monitor and one 22” monitor. I also have an IBM ThinkPad laptop, which I take home every night because I simply don’t have enough computers in home already. My Dell Axim PDA is my personal secretary, and I would feel naked if my portable 20GB hard drive wasn’t within reach at all times. One second-generation 15GB iPod and one 30GB video iPod round out the collection.


I kinda blame it on my ADHD, and I kinda blame it on the high that I get from fixing someone’s computer, the compliments I get when I take a great photo, and the emotions I see in others after producing a video. But I think that I might be zeroing in on the real reason.

I’m a firm believer in the Word of God, and that he sent his Son to die for our sins—not that I don’t have questions, but I guess that’s why it’s called faith.

Theses skills that I have, are they my spiritual gift?


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It’s An Amalgam

“Hey. Hey big man. You like music?” These were the first words I heard this morning aside from the standard good bye and I love you from my sleeping wife.

So how are you supposed to respond to someone asking such a question; a question asked from a distance while I stood filling my tank.

“No, I don’t like music. And while you’re asking, I don’t like ice cream, Ansel Adams, or Braveheart, either.”

Gas pump handle clicky thing in place, I walked toward him. I had to if I wanted my standard breakfast of a Nutty Bar and Diet Dew that I get every time I fill my tank before work.

“Check it out, Big Man, this stuff is hot,” said Mr. Wake-n-Bake Breath while holding one new CD and another without a case.

“What kind of music is it,” I asked.
“Not my gig dude, sorry.”
“What about this one, Big Man. What do you like? Heavy Metal? Soft Rock? This is a mixture,” he says while hold the disc to my face and showing me the picture on the case.

Maybe big men inherently look less intelligent; who knows. But some how my BMSS (Big Man Spidey Sense) managed to tingle. It could have been the combo description of musical genera, or maybe it was the CD case photo showing one man holding an acoustic guitar. Regardless, I was not going to open my car and listen as he suggested.

His pitch continued after I paid for my Little Debbie snacky cake and walked back to my car. “I’ll make you a deal, big man.”

“Dude, I’m an ATM man. I have no cash. And plain and simply, I’m just not a big fan of the heavy metal, soft rock amalgam. If it ain’t Deep Purple, then I don’t want it”

“Alright big man, but you’re missing out,” he said as he hopped from his paper-box perch in search of the next sale. “This stuff is hot.”


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Bye, Bye Anna – My Time Alone Will Miss You

Maybe it was the whole graduation thing and the lack of my attendance at hers that lead my college girlfriend to break up with me. Or I guess it could have been my relentless harsh diatribe spewed to her roommates while reviewing a weekend spent with TB’s friends. It doesn’t really matter; the end result was the same.

But it was TB who purchased as a present for my birthday a subscription to Playboy. The year was 1992, the same year that Anna Nicole became POY.

I instantly fell in lust with her curves. I nurtured that relationship on numerous occasions during a time when my roommate, Popeye, was called out of reserve to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky during Desert Storm. We were at war, ya know. And I must have thought that the enemy was hiding in my 501s.

I’ll never forget the come-hither look of my POY lounging in the tub and covered with bubbles. I was hooked for years; through the muumuu-like, big pink dress years and the horrid B-movies, she was my Marilyn.

As for TB, going out to dinner with her parents after her college graduation just didn’t appeal to me at the time. Maybe I should have called instead of standing them up. And I didn’t know she was in the other room during my diatribe.
She broke up with me for the guy to whom I subleased Popeye’s room. She married him.


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Confusion: Defining Rittman and Beyond

Rittman, as in Rittman, Ohio, was at one time the center of the universe—at least for me. I never wanted to leave my beloved city of 7000ish where Indians football ruled, the dividing line between the hill and those who lived below rested at Grandview park, and churches outnumbered the bars by only a few. It’s a strange little place.

Had this town surrounded by rectangular patches of feed-grade crops been an actual breathing entity with conscience thought and a daily routine, it would certainly have an hour a week booked at the relaxing seat of a qualified counselor. This, I believe, is the root of all issues when things go bad for the Rittmanites.

Ya see, Rittman is suffering from gender confusion.

Until the problem is resolved, bad juju abounds.The City of Rittman, as it’s known, isn’t reallllllly a city. Wiki proclaims, “a city is an urban area that is differentiated from a town, village, or hamlet by size, population density, importance or legal status”.

I guess this really falls on the definition of what or is.

It isn’t really urban, or urbane for that matter. Population density is pretty much right out the window. The importance of existence was great at one time. But now that I’ve had some time past the gates, as defined by field of corn XXX lying in all outskirt points of the compass, the importance subsided a bit.

As for status, legal or otherwise, I know Rittman has been on Cleveland TV News at least twice that I can remember; once involved Popeye parent’s bar, the Sleepy Owl, a rifle, and someone barricading himself in the attic. I think it was 1988, and the rifle was a .22 gage…or something like that.

The schools are defined as an exempted village. The only exemptions I’ve ever seen are during the times of local and state funding. “The Rittman School District claims its solemn right of exemption to all funding. Why should we pay higher taxes when our kids aren’t getting the education they need.”

Ergo—back to the comfy cuckoo chair.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Rittman. I relish my experiences from childhood, and I would never trade my teen adventures with JL, MB, VM, TB, DM, GK, RC, JS, DC, KE, SB and all the rest. (I had to get a RMS Smoke Signal reference in there).

All I’m saying it that before Rittman can move past any undermining juju, it simply must make a decision as to which of the defining ors best fit. I vote for hamlet.

Henceforth, I go to Worlds Beyond Rittman. Don’t worry; I’ll make sure to visit. I always do.


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