Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am Thankful. Are You?

Those who know me best know that from my lips often comes a phrase that I once heard from another good friend. It goes something like this:

One asks me, "How are you today?"

I respond, "Better than I deserve."

And, of course, it's the honest truth. I have so much to be thankful for and I often fall short of living in the reality of that thankful attitude. This year, I resolve to remind myself - every day - that I have much to be thankful for. I have more than I deserve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Diamond is AWESOME!

Okay, so I understand that many of you probably have no idea who Black Diamond is or what they do; but, for starters, you just need to know that they are awesome. Okay, so who are they? Black Diamond is a manufacturer of climbing, skiing, and mountaineering equipment. Here's their website:

Now let me tell you why they're awesome...

In 2001, while I worked for Galyan's Trading Post (later bought out by Dick's Sporting Goods) I purchased a tent from Black Diamond - an I-Tent, to be exact. The I-Tent is the standard in mountaineering. Check it out, here:

Just a few weeks ago, I went on a rock climbing trip to Jackson Falls, in southern Illinois, and I notices a rip in the tent, near the zipper, in the corner. I was bummed. I had never noticed the tear before, and I don't even know if I had ever inspected that part of the tent before. Obviously, with the tent being eight years old, I had little hope of a fix.

When I got back from my trip, I promptly emailed Black Diamond, and, to my surprise, I received a response less than 24 hours later (the same can't be said for TGIFridays, from whom I still have not received a response). Here's what Mike at Black Diamond had to say:

My apologies for your trouble with your I-Tent. Regardless of the cause or timing of the tear, we can certainly repair it for you at no charge. You would, obviously, need to send us the tent. A retaping of the area should take care of it nicely.

It was unbelievable. I was dumbfounded. In a word, I was happy. Could it be that there are still companies out there that stand behind their products and do all that they can to make situations right with their customers? Answer: Yes. Black Diamond does.

And for this very reason, I urge you to purchase Black Diamond, if ever there is an opportunity to do so. If you're looking for climbing gear, a new tent or shelter, skis or boots, consider Black Diamond, and make sure you have a compelling reason why not to buy BD.

PS: No, I have not been paid by Black Diamond to write this. I'm just that excited about getting my tent repaired - free of charge!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TGIF: Great to be Friday, but Not at Fridays

The plate of food to the left was served to me this past week at TGIFridays, in Bloomingdale, IL. What a sorry little plate at a ridiculous price. The presentation is horrible, and the flavor made the dish almost inedible. The price tag? $9.50. Unbelievable.

As I pulled in to Fridays, I actually said out loud, "Wow, I haven't been to this place in a really long time. I don't know why. I like the atmosphere, and I think they have great food, too."

Obviously, I was given a very good reason never to return to the restaurant; and given the face that their customer service department hasn't responded to my complaint yet - after several days, I don't think I'll be going there for a long while. Okay, maybe just for their potato skins. But still, beware of the Key West Shrimp and the Half-Rack of Ribs!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Have You Ever Imagined

Have you ever stopped and imagined what it would be like to not be alive? Or maybe even to not exist at all? Every few months, this thought crosses my mind, and I get a particularly strange feeling doing it. Has this ever happened to you? Please tell me I'm not crazy - that I'm not the only one.

I get this strange empty feeling, like after I die, I'll just stop existing - no soul, no reincarnation, no floating personal paradise, no heaven or hell. Of course, that's what a lot of people will try to lead you to believe.

But I refuse to believe that these 100- years I spend on Earth are all that there is going to be for me. That these are the only years we have. You can even look at modernism today and see the despair in it - the futility in it. Isn't it a sad, hopeless thought to not think that there's no more to life than what we see right now?

It's weird though, because that strange feeling I get doesn't sync with my worldview. I have the feeling, but I don't trust it. I once heard it said that people who have strong faith don't fear death. And I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little scared. I've also heard it said that people - presumably like me - are afraid to die because they aren't sure if they'll have to pay for all of the things that they've done wrong - presumably to a higher power.

But I don't think that's it at all. I think the reason for fear might be simpler than that: we don't know what it "feels" like to not have a living body, assuming that we live on somehow in spirit.

And more than that, I think there seems to be something unnatural about dying. I think inside all of us, maybe the reason we can't imagine being dead is because we know we're really not supposed to. Maybe we can't imagine it because we never do die (spiritually).

Okay, as you can see by the time stamp on my post, it's late. And I'm rambling. Goodnight.