25 Weeks to Go! 🗓

I haven’t written about my employment status in quite awhile, so here’s an update.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was laid off from Kodak Alaris in September, 2019 at the age of 63. I had worked in many capacities at Kodak after being hired in 1976, however, my positions within the company the last 20-years were non-physical desk jobs. It was actually quite incredible that I remained at Kodak for 43-years given the steep decline of the company over the last 34-years of that period. Competition from Fuji and rapidly changing technology forced the photo giant back on its heels beginning in the early 1980s. The layoffs began in 1985 and never stopped. Kodak once employed 60,000 people in the Greater Rochester area. That number is now down to around 1000.

So there I was in 2019, unemployed at the age of 63. I had planned on working until I could collect full Social Security at age 66 and 4 months and hoped that I could still hit that goal working someplace else. I began collecting state unemployment checks along with federal supplements due to the pandemic and was making as much money as when I was working, but I knew that wouldn’t last. I applied to many, many companies over the course of a year only to get the virtual door repeatedly slammed in my face. Jobs are scarce here in economically-challenged Western New York, especially if you’re in your 60s. A local manufacturer finally offered me a job in December 2020 and I started a few weeks later.

Starting with a new company at the age of 64 was tough. The learning curve seemed incredibly steep. It was originally intended that I was going to be a data integrity analyst/problem solver in the warehouse, but the job transitioned into coordinator of work orders going to the factory floor and I ended up doing most of my own order picking (a photo of one of our warehouse aisles is above). My young co-workers are so lazy and unproductive that it’s actually faster if I pick the orders myself. Ironically, picking work orders was my very first job at Kodak in 1976.

My schedule is somewhat weird, Friday thru Sunday, 6AM to 6:30PM. The job is very physical and entails quite a bit of heavy lifting and walking. I average about 60,000 steps a weekend. Nope, that’s not a typo my friends. I walk 60,000 steps aka 27 miles per weekend. Definitely not an optimal job for a 65YO. On my days off, Monday thru Thursday, I mainly desire to just sit on the family room couch to recover from the weekend and to recharge my batteries for the next weekend.

Well, I’ve put in 70 weeks to date and I have 25 more weeks to go. Yes, I am counting! My retirement date is targeted for November 30, but I’ve been accumulating vacation time so that my last actual work day will be Sunday, October 30. All that said, I fully realize, as the Bible states (James 4:14), that I can’t “bank” on tomorrow, let alone six months from now, but certain things must be planned for.

I’m grateful to God for my job and the opportunity it gave me to bridge to full Social Security without having to dip into my 401K savings, but it has been a very physically tough row to hoe. I’ve considered quitting several times, but I’m pretty close to the finish line at this point and I plan on sticking it out. Thanks to all those who prayed for me when I was searching for a new job and afterwards. A special thanks to my brother in the Lord way over in SoCal who has encouraged me to keep pushing since I was laid-off in 2019.

Hurrah! My posts showing up in followers’ reader feeds once again!

Last week, one of my blog follower-friends, David, alerted me to the fact that he was not receiving my published posts in his reader feed. Hmm. Then Crissy wrote to say the same. Then Bruce. Then Cathy. Well, this was a disconcerting pickle. I’d been regularly posting articles on my blog every day except for Sundays, but many follower-friends were not receiving them. I dug into some of the behind-the-scenes data and discovered many of my followers had not seen any of my new posts in their feeds for the last 12 days, just as Bruce had mentioned. How did that happen? I hadn’t changed anything in my settings.

I contacted WordPress Help yesterday and a rep suggested I clear the cache and cookies from my Chromebook. That didn’t make any sense to me because my Chromebook is only a few months old, but I did it anyway. Bruce also suggested that I switch my general setting from “Public” to “Private” and back again to jolt/reset the software, in accordance with the first rule of repairing malfunctioning electronic gizmos, “Turn it off and then turn it back on.” I also did that.

So, this morning I published my usual Tuesday “Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series” post with bated breath and, what do you know, it actually fed to my follower-friends! I know that because yesterday I became a follower of my own blog in order to test if I would receive the next new post in my reader feed. As the above graphic shows, instead of indicating that my blog was last-updated 12-days ago, it now shows as minutes ago.

Hurrah!

Thanks to David, Crissy, Bruce, and Cathy for alerting me to the problem and thanks to the WordPress rep and to Bruce for the suggested fixes. I don’t know which option corrected the problem, but “it” worked.

Thank you, God!

Russia invades Ukraine

I woke up this morning to the news that Russian military forces have launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. While this is not surprising given the massive military build-up on the Ukrainian border over the past several weeks, it’s disturbing just the same.

I’m somewhat familiar with Eastern European geopolitics because of my studies of Poland for many years. Eastern European nations were able to achieve independence following the destabilization and fall of the Soviet Union in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Beginning in 1999, former Soviet-bloc countries began joining NATO in an effort to protect themselves from any designs by a resurgent Russia.

Former Soviet-Russian KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, entered politics in 1990 and ascended to the office of Russian Prime Minister in 1999. He’s swapped the ceremonial democratic government titles of premier/prime minister and president several times, but has become the de facto dictator of Russia. Putin retains control of Russia by selling the lie to its 144 million citizens that NATO is a looming threat to Russian sovereignty. Ukraine, on Russia’s western border, initially applied for NATO membership in 2008, but then vacillated in the face of strong Russian opposition. However, following the limited Russian invasion of southern Ukraine in 2014, the Ukrainian government made joining NATO a priority. Although the West was wary of provoking Putin/Russia, Ukraine’s NATO membership appeared to be a certain eventuality, until now.

I can vividly remember the height of the Cold War during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. We grammar school children were put through “duck and cover” drills in which we practiced scurrying for shelter under our desks for “protection” against incoming Soviet nuclear missiles. It was scary stuff for a young child.

The invasion of Ukraine (and the forthcoming long-term subjugation of the country) is discomforting. We have not experienced anything like this in generations. What happens next? Will this escalate? Will Putin target additional former Soviet-bloc countries? All this coming after an international health crisis on a scale not seen in 100 years. We like to think this world is a somewhat stable, secure place, but this is blatant evidence to the contrary. There is no security in this world and its political systems or in its non-Christian (or pseudo-Christian) religious institutions.

As Christian believers, we pray to the Lord God Almighty. He was not caught by surprise by this Russian invasion. We pray for believers in Ukraine. The majority of Ukrainians are Eastern Orthodox, but there is a Gospel Christian presence. We pray that relative peace will be restored so that the Gospel can continue to go out. Amidst the turmoil, we believers are secure in the Lord’s hands.

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” – Psalm 16:8

A mysterious drop in views

It may seem a bit tacky for a blogger to write about their blog stats, but I experienced a very strange phenomenon last year. I’ve been blogging here at WordPress for seven years and there was a noticeable increase in views from year to year over that span, until last year. As you can see from the WordPress graph above, this blog had 70K views in 2020, but “only” 45K views in 2021, a 36% drop! That’s pretty significant. The number of published posts did drop from 338 to 284 from 2020 to 2021 due to some upheaval in my personal life, but that’s only a 16% decrease. The content from year to year was pretty similar. So, what happened? I have my theories.

At excatholic4christ, many of my posts examine the Roman Catholic church and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit. We live in an era marked by rising intolerance for anything deemed to be “intolerant.” I’m sure many Roman Catholics and non-Catholics who are sympathetic to ecumenism would interpret my critical posts as “hate speech.” Even believers are losing their stomach for discernment material. Social media platforms are increasingly monitoring and filtering content that they consider to be “hate speech.” The EU and Canada are a bit farther ahead of the U.S. in this social media censorship. I don’t wish to be paranoid about this. Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe the huge drop is attributable to other factors.

I surely don’t hate Roman Catholics. I was a Catholic for 27 years and many of my family and friends are still Catholic. For 1500 years, the RCC violently suppressed all opposition and non-conformists and led billions to hell with its false gospel. Yet for pointing that out, I’m the alleged “hater.”

Don”t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the 45K views last year and especially for all of my friends and readers here at WordPress who support this blog and its “controversial” content. We know the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is bound to offend, as will the calling out of false churches and false religions.

Car advertising hokum

Car dealerships are going through a very tough time right now because of inventory shortages due to the lack of computer chips at the factories. We have a multi-site dealership here in Rochester, Bob Johnson’s, that started out strictly as a Chevrolet franchise, but has been scarfing up less-solvent local dealerships of various automobile makes.

Bob Johnson Chevy came out with a television advertisement jingle twenty years ago that it’s been running ever since. That’s right, for at least twenty years Rochesterians have had to listen to this jingle, sometimes multiple times during a single half-hour television program:

You’ll get more for your money,
You’ll get much greater value,
You’ll talk to kind, courteous people,
Who really care, they’re so sincere,
I recommend them to my family, recommend them to my friends,
They’ve gone way above and beyond my great expectations,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet.

Every adult Rochesterian can sing that catchy ditty blindfolded. The writer deserves a huge bonus.

What annoys me about this commercial jingle is its claim that Bob Johnson’s employees “really care” and …ach!…that they’re “so sincere.” There’s a degree of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” in this self-attestation of caring and sincerity. I have no doubt that BJ’s employees treat their customers with a degree of kindness and courtesy. That’s a must in any type of sales and service company. However, Bob Johnson’s employees are also focused on delivering as much profit to the company as possible. If they did otherwise, they would be quickly replaced.

Car dealerships will take advantage of naive and unknowledgeable customers, both in the selling and servicing of cars. Can a car dealership service manager retain his position without being a bit of a flim-flam artist? Methinks not. I don’t believe for a single second that Bob Johnson’s management and employees are above the stereotypical car dealership scams, despite the “we are so sincere” protestations. I believe that Bob Johnson’s knows that we know that, but they’re counting on the advertising hokum rubbing off on us subliminally.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10

Happy New Year!!!

I wish all of my friends and readers here at WordPress a joyous New Year in the Lord. Circumstances in the country and in the world are challenging, but our confidence is in Jesus Christ, our Rock.

2021 was an “interesting” year marked by the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and the continuing breakdown of society. Personally, after being laid-off for 15-months, which included many job search activities, such as “career transition” classes, searching Indeed and Ziprecruiter, submitting applications, and unsuccessful interviews, I started a new job at L3Harris company on January 9, 2021 at the age of 64. Following three months of training, I was assigned the task of coordinating the release and gathering of warehouse work orders, which has become more and more physically draining. After 12-straight days off from work due to the holiday shut-down, I’m back to the factory today. My retirement is slated for November 30, 2022, just forty-eight weeks away!

My weekend “home.”

The second big thing that happened in my life in 2021 involved one of my sisters. The second-oldest of my five sisters (age 71) had onset dementia and last January she had an accident with her car. That “crisis” showed she should no longer be driving, which meant I became her chauffeur. It was clear from her “declining” (to put it mildly) living conditions and mental abilities that she was no longer able to live independently, so the family (myself and a couple of sisters living in Florida) intervened and the huge project began of taking over her finances and moving her (despite her protests) from her house in Rochester to a seniors’ facility in Florida. She’s now happily relocated in the Sunshine State and I resolved the last of her dangling financial issues last month by selling her car. The new job at L3H and resettling my sister consumed quite a bit of my 2021.

Above: My sister’s former home in Rochester. The exterior belied the nightmarish conditions inside.
Above: My sister’s new home since June 2021. She has not used the pool.

Some years are more memorable than others because of major life events, but my wife and I were discussing the other day how our walk with the Lord is a day-to-day thing rather than a year-to-year proposition. I’m grateful for my salvation in Jesus Christ and for when I open my eyes each morning for another day with the Lord and with my wife, family, and friends, including my brothers and sisters here at WordPress. Thank you for your friendship, support, and encouragement in 2021!

Cheesy random thoughts

I’ve had several rather insignificant blogging ideas rattling around in my brain, but no time to put them together because of the grueling, six-week leaf campaign. With no more tarps to pull and 12 days off from work I was finally able to create this cheesy excuse for a post.

The Best Cheez-It?

Back in February 2020, I published a taste test pitting Sunshine/Kellogg’s Cheez-It crackers against Nabisco’s Cheese Nips crackers, with Cheez-It winning the contest by a cracker crumb. See here. I subsequently found out Nabisco discontinued making Cheese Nips at some point in 2020. I continued to buy regular Cheez-Its at the Pittsford Wegman’s grocery, but when I visited the Wegman’s in nearby Penfield, I noticed they stocked Extra Cheesy Cheez-Its. Man, that’s some serious cheese flavor! But after awhile, the extra cheese got to be too much. I’ve found that a nice compromise is the Cheddar Jack variety of Cheez-Its. There’s extra cheddar flavor, but it’s not overpowering like Extra Cheesy.

Vanilla Coke or Pepsi Cream Soda Cola?

Readers of this blog know I’m a fan of Vanilla Coke. It was in short supply because of the pandemic, but returned to Wegman’s shelves in April 2021. This past September, I noticed Pepsi introduced its limited edition “Soda Shop Cream Soda Cola.” Curious, I bought a twelve-pack. Well, folks, the comparison wasn’t even close. Vanilla Coke has it all over the Pepsi pretender. Not much cola or vanilla flavor in Pepsi’s product. Other customers must have had the same reaction because Wegman’s pulled it off of their shelves.

Death of My Asus Chromebook

Maybe about six years ago, our PC died and our son steered us toward a Chromebook. They’re relatively inexpensive and start up as soon as you open the screen. Easy peasy. We got an Asus Chromebook with a 15.6″ screen (photo left). I initially didn’t like the Chromebook. What? No delete key! And I didn’t like not having a mouse. When I was laid off in September 2019, I liked the Chromebook even less because it didn’t have Word and Excel software that I would need for my résumé and job-search data. I learned shortly thereafter that Chromebook has free Word and Excel equivalents via the Google cloud. Cool! I also learned how to hook up my Chromebook to our printer when I needed a résumé hard-copy. I was pleased with my Chromebook until a month ago when one of the screen hinges (yellow circle) started making a clicking sound. I knew that wasn’t good. Asus’ screen hinges are extremely cheesy/flimsy. The problem got steadily worse and in a few days my Chromebook was no longer even operational with the screen starting to crack. I went to Staples to buy a new one, but their selection was very small. I then went to Target up the road and bought a 14″ HP Chromebook (photo right). The great thing about Chromebook is I turned on the HP and signed into Google and all of my favorites came up as if I was still on the the Asus. I was a little concerned about the smaller screen when I bought it, but the 14″ is actually preferable; less bulky and cumbersome and just as easy to read. In this case, smaller is better. HP’s long and substantial screen hinge design is heads and tails over Asus’ cheesy, flimsy hinges. Blogging on the couch with the light 14″ HP Chromebook on my lap is a pleasure.

Venerating St. Ives?

I get it. Men don’t usually talk about personal care products, but I really like St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Wash. Hey, everyone showers, right, and we all have to use some kind of soap. Well, Wegman’s took the St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter body wash off their shelves for some dumb reason. I googled it and Target appeared to sell it. I made a trip to Target and bought two bottles. Cool. BTW, I googled St. Ives and discovered Ives/Yves is a canonized Roman Catholic “saint” who lived in Brittany from 1253 to 1303. Should I boycott St. Ives products because they’re named after a RC saint? Sounds very fundamentalish to me.

Polish American Studies

Readers of this blog may recall a 2018 post in which I recounted how I had turned an interest in my Polish heritage into an idol. See here. The best of the many publications I received in my Polish-American craze was “Polish American Studies” put out by the Polish American Historical Association. I recently had an interest in getting back into Polish/Polish-American history (on a much smaller scale than previously), so I submitted my membership application to PAHA again and received my first issue of the Polish American Studies journal. Fascinating articles.

Sweeter Than Sweet

Speaking of sodas, in my trips down Wegman’s soda aisle, I had regularly caught glimpses of Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry soda. Curious, I googled it and found out that the Loganberry drink (it’s actually non-carbonated) got its start at the now-defunct Crystal Beach Amusement Park in Fort Erie, Canada on the shores of Lake Erie, a 13-mile drive from Buffalo. Ah, so Aunt Rosie’s is a regional offering! Cool. I bought a 12-pack and taste tested it. It has a delicious flavor (the loganberry is a hybrid of the blackberry and raspberry), but, man, it’s sweet! A 12-ounce can of Coke has a whopping 39 grams (9.75 teaspoons) of sugar, but a can of Aunt Rosie’s beats that with 46 grams (11.5 teaspoons) of sugar, aka diabetes in a can.

The period goes inside the quotation marks

“The period goes here.

“…not here”.

Call it a pet peeve, but I read quite a bit and I’m amazed at how many writers, editors, and publishers get this grammar rule wrong.

Copy Cats!

I’ve noticed how politicians and political pundits now begin every other sentence with, “Look, …” Some PR/Communications guru must have written a book extolling the word for conveying bold assertiveness, but to me it’s kind of condescending and impolite. I don’t appreciate someone admonishing me to “Look” or “Listen” when they’re beginning to tell me something. The fact that everyone has jumped on the “Look, …” bandwagon is comical.

Jerry Lewis – King of Comedy and “humanitarian”?

The world pays incredible homage to entertainment celebrities, but they’re all sinners and as messed up as everyone else, perhaps even more so.

I’ve been watching some video interviews of Jerry Lewis recently. Back in the early-1960s, only a handful of entertainers were as popular as Jerry Lewis (1926-2017). Jerry began his career as a comedian in 1946, with Dean Martin as his straight-man partner. The two brought their successful nightclub act to Hollywood and made 14 films together. They parted company in 1956 and Lewis would go on to produce and/or direct twenty films.

I remember seeing Jerry’s “The Nutty Professor” (1963) at the drive-in with my family and in my seven-year-old mind, I thought it was the best movie of all time. I loved Jerry’s silly slapstick humor.

Jerry was also known for his humanitarian work, especially for hosting the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon each year, from 1966 to 2010. However, Jerry was also famous for being a temperamental diva. In his interviews, he exudes a pompousness that’s unmatched. Jerry defined the term, “full of himself.”

Lewis’ wife, Patti, filed for divorce in 1980 after 35 years of marriage, citing infidelity. Lewis subsequently excluded all five* of his sons with Patti from his will (see photo above). Nice guy. When Jerry died in 2017, everything went to his second wife and their adopted daughter.

But that wasn’t the only carnage. Lewis’ daughter from an extra-marital affair walks the streets of Philadelphia as a homeless person. Jerry never publicly acknowledged her.

How could a celebrated “humanitarian” be so cruel to his own flesh and blood? We are all sinners and we all need to be saved by Jesus Christ.

*Lewis’ youngest son, Joseph, committed suicide in 2009.

Top 25 Posts

Tomorrow marks the 6th anniversary of this blog, and as is our nerdy custom, below are the thirteen top-viewed posts of the past twelve months that were published prior to July 17, 2020, aka older posts, as well as the twelve top-viewed posts of the past twelve months that were published after July 17, 2020, aka newer posts. Click on the hyper-linked titles to read the respective posts. Much thanks to all of my friends and readers here at WordPress for your support and encouragement over the past 6 years!

Thirteen top-viewed older posts

“If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?” – January 17, 2017 – 3564 views

The improbable “return” of Jimmy Swaggart – August 14, 2018 – 3473 views

Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe – July 10, 2017 – 2400 views

Just how painful is “Purgatory” supposed to be? – August 19, 2016 – 1367 views

What’s with all of those little candles at Catholic churches? – April 5, 2018 – 1218 views

Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha? – May 22, 2017 – 1135 views

Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?! – June 16, 2016 – 826 views

Beating the chest and other Catholic formalities – November 13, 2018 – 539 views

Question: When George Harrison was singing, “My Sweet Lord,” who was he singing to? – August 31, 2017 – 435 views

The Battle of the Ages: Cheese Nips vs. Cheez-It – February 9, 2020 – 385 views

Catholicism’s “three-legged stool” – Broken for all the world to see! – December 8, 2017 – 363 views

John MacArthur’s Blog Series – Exposing the Heresies of the Roman Catholic Church – March 4, 2020 – 330 views

Dreamcatchers – May 6, 2016 – 308 views

Twelve top-viewed newer posts

Go Padres! NL Wild Card Series begins tonight – September 30, 2020 – 412 views

Alistair Begg: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. – November 16, 2020 – 266 views

Billy Graham, the disappointing enigma – June 7, 2021 – 223 views

Padres advance, face Dodger$ – October 5, 2020 – 164 views

Ave Maria, a planned Catholic community near Naples, Florida? – July 29, 2020 – 163 views

Pandemic Denial and Political Conspiracy Mongering – February 8, 2021 – 154 views

Papa Al’s Hot Sauce – It’s back!!! – December 9, 2020 – 135 views

Ecumenists Ravi Zacharias & J.I. Packer – August 26, 2020 – 132 views

Catholic nun, Mother Miriam, attempts to differentiate between venial and mortal sins – January 27, 2021 – 124 views

Answering the Rebuttals of a Catholic Apologist – Complete Index – December 4, 2020 – 103 views

Ravi Zacharias and Lee Strobel: Dancing with the Devil and selective outrage – March 8, 2021 – 102 views

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/13/21 – March 13, 2021 – 101 views

The LGBTQ rainbow now even on my iPhone screen

We’re in the midst of “National Pride Month” and the ubiquitous LGBTQ rainbow is now even on my iPhone screen, compliments of the WordPress app.

I thought it was ironic that the LGBTQ rainbow-hued WP app is right next to my ESV Bible app. This brought to mind the Old Testament passage in which the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant and set it up next to their statue of Dagon. You know the rest. Truth is not contradictory. God’s truth will stand forever and all opposing social crusades will someday fall.

“When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.” – 1 Samuel 5:1-5