Friday, January 21 2005
Some clients are just flat out irritating, a quality that usually manifests itself over the phone, long before the actual housecall. I had one of these irritating clients today, and, more than irritated, I came away from the experience exhausted. The problem with this guy was that he'd hired me to do some work for him but then it turned out that he didn't really have any faith that I knew what I was doing. It didn't matter that I got his stupid floppy disk drive working in about five minutes; when he wanted to expand his Windows 98 PC to have more than it's present 256 Megs, I told him that Windows 98 doesn't really benefit from lots of RAM. His response was to say that this was a recommendation he'd received from someone who "knows a lot about computers and has worked for a lot of big companies." I'd find myself getting impatient with such statements and cut him off with curt remarks like "Your problems have nothing to do with memory."
Tonight Gretchen and I were picked up by our oldest friends from Eagle's Nest Road and we all carpooled to the house of some mutual friends in Woodstock. These particular friends aren't vegan or even vegetarian, but they are good activist Woodstock liberals. Unfortunately, the male half of the couple tends to be a know-it-all with regard to every topic, and over the course of an evening it gets tiresome hearing him say "I don't know about that," in response to every declarative sentence anyone else in the room is bold enough to make. Things got most interesting over dinner when Mr. Know It All, in the context of listing all the supporters of George W. Bush, included "Zionists." He did so in the typical lefty way, which some of the Jews I know reflexively label "antisemitic." Personally, the word "Zionist" has always carried a negative connotation, but for Gretchen Zionism means something positive, constructive, and idealistic. This inevitably lead into a argument in which Mr. Know It All really should have backed off but didn't. Gretchen eventually got some satisfaction when she corrected Mr. Know It All on his claim that among the original Zionists, Kenya had been in consideration as a possible Jewish homeland. Bzzzt! Wrong answer. The correct answer was Uganda, where Gretchen had spent her infancy.
Tonight the thermometer outside the laboratory window indicated zero degrees Fahrenheit. It was so cold that the laboratory's hydronic loop had difficulty keeping temperatures any higher than about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. This is more than a cliché; it's the only vaguely-logical means of explaining all the pain and suffering that an omniscient, all-powerful creator visits upon the mere mortals of our world. And even beyond the mysteries of death and destruction are the common annoyances of mortal life. What purpose could, for example, termites serve in the Lord's plan? When one considers that termites are most destructive in parts of the United States most likely to be populated with fundamentalist Christians, one begins to wonder if perhaps the God of the Universe is more of, say, a Unitarian Universalist than, I don't know, a Southern Pentecost.
But perhaps the most mysterious act of God comes when He sees fit to smite a church. Even the most faithful of churches tend to be pragmatic when it comes to God's fiendish propensity to hit churches with his most awesome weapon: lightning. Every church equipped with a steeple in this country also has a lightning rod at the top of that steeple. You'd think that when a thunderstorm comes through a community the Lord would see fit to bend the rules of physics and maybe strike the second-tallest object available, perhaps a tall oak that has stood on the village green since before the eviction of heathen savages. But no, more often than not it's the church that takes the hit. This can happen even when the building is full of righteous believers. The resulting destruction is often newsworthy, but seldom causes people to question their faith.
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