Archive for the ‘Various Memories and Opinions’ Category

Human Resources, Vacant Positions, and Worker Shortages   Leave a comment

News of worker shortages and persistently vacant positions has become old news.

I wonder how many persistently vacant positions are due to worker shortages, how many are due to an imbalance (geographical, skills-related, etc.) in the work force, and how many are due to pokey human resources personnel.  A story from my past illustrates the last point.  I will provide no names, other than my own, of course.

I had applied to work for an employer in another city.  Too much time passed without a response.  I learned that the human resources department had yet to run the criminal background check.  So, I walked to the local police station and asked the officer on duty to run such a check on me.  He did, almost instantaneously.  He also typed a letter on official stationery and declared my record clean.  I thanked him and sent a copy of that letter to the human resources department.

That employer eventually hired me.  I do not know if the human resources department finally ran a background check on me or if they took the police department’s word for it.  But I should never have had to do the job of the human resources department.

I mentioned this incident to a supervisor.  He sympathized with me and informed that he had repeatedly counseled the human resources department to work faster.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Posted November 23, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Dumpsters and Garbage   Leave a comment

I recall hearing a story that could be true.  A teacher, frustrated, asked a student,

Are you ignorant or apathetic?

The pupil replied,

I don’t know and I don’t care.

I live in an apartment complex.  We use dumpsters.  A company hauls away trash and picks out the recyclable content.

I always place my garbage inside the dumpster, usually the one closest to my apartment.  Some of my neighbors, however, do not do as I do.  They seem to think that placing the refuse near the dumpster suffices.  It does not.  The man who drives the big truck and empties the dumpsters does not take away that which is near the dumpster.

Are these neighbors ignorant, apathetic, or both?  And how complicated a concept can placing one’s trash inside a dumpster be?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Posted September 16, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Spammers and Scammers   Leave a comment

For the last week, scammers and spammers have been targeting one of my email addresses.  I have reported each one of these emails as phishing, blocked addresses, and deleted many emails during the last few days.  I have vowed not to fall prey to these…individuals–these predators, vultures, and profane, more accurate, colorful labels.

I wish that such…carbon-based lifeforms would devote their time to positive pursuits instead.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Posted September 5, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Bullies   Leave a comment

And What Should Happen to Them

Bullies come in all ages.  Bullies exist in a variety of settings.  And bullies are menaces.  All institutions–such as schools–should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullies and bullying.

I, inspired by a generalized sense of beneficence and a specific sense of Judeo-Christian morality, usually manifest a liberal, broad-minded, generosity of spirit.  I abhor any form of prejudice against any human being.  I cannot reconcile the Golden Rule with support for discrimination, bigotry, and hatred.  So, if you, O reader, like, call me a radical, lily-livered leftist, a communist, or any other term you consider derogatory.  I may claim it as a compliment.  I am trying to live the love of God.

But my spine stiffens when I consider bullies.  My experiences as a victim of bullying from the early grades through high school have converted me into a hardliner regarding bullies.  They deserve to suffer the consequences of their actions.  They deserve no official mercy.  Bullies need to stop bullying immediately–one way or another.  If education, friendly persuasion, and appeals to sympathy do not work, harsh punishments are in order.

I can almost hear some readers of this post raising objections.  I assure such readers (as well as others) that I have done my homework, so to speak.  I recall the truism that

Children learn what they live.

I know that many bullies come from abusive homes.  This subset of bullies acts based on what they know, based on home life.  That is an explanation, not an excuse.  Intolerance of differences–even slight ones–is another cause of bullying.  Other people become bullies to avoid being victims of bullying.  And some people are simply bastards.

To be clear, I reject the concept of human illegitimacy.  So, in my lexicon, being a bastard is a matter of bad character.  If bullying is not a manifestation of bad character, I do not know what is.

I know the sting of bullying; I live with it long after the activity ceased.  I recall that, in the early grades, my classmates mocked me mercilessly over my lack of physical coordination.  I dreaded jumping jacks, especially.  I was always in when the others were out.  I was always out when the others were in.  And jumping jacks became occasions of psychological trauma.  This pattern continued until Physical Education ceased, eventually.  Then, one day at Valdosta State University, in the middle 1990s, I heard a casual reference to jumping jacks.  I froze in terror.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that my manner of doing jumping jacks functions as a metaphor for my life.  I have always been in when others have been out.  I have always been out when others have been in.  That has always caused troubles for me.

I never considered becoming a bully to cease being a victim of bullies and bullying.  The Golden Rule aside, why would I want to emulate people who treated me so badly?   Why would I consider them role models?

Being a long-term victim of bullies and bullying has affected my theology.  I accept human depravity, but not as an article of faith.  I do not need faith to affirm that for which I have proof.

Bullies need to learn that bullying is not acceptable behavior.  This must be a consistent, rigorous policy in all institutions that need such a policy.  In cases in which bullies require harsh punishment, I shed no tears for them and feel neither sympathy nor empathy for them.  No, I shed tears for and feel empathy for their victims.

I can almost hear another objection.  So, I address it.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.  Whenever I hear or read someone depict the God of the Hebrew Bible as a harsh, judgmental deity and the God of the New Testament as a divine teddy bear, I know that such a person needs to read both Testaments more closely.  In the Bible (both Hebrew and Christian), divine mercy on victims frequently takes the form of bad news for the victimizers.  This state of affairs describes reality, does it not?

As a matter of principle, I stand with victims, not victimizers.  Those who victimize pronounce judgment on themselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Thirteenth-Anniversary Announcement   3 comments

I created this weblog on July 27, 2009.

I have since deleted most of the earliest posts, for good reasons.  As I have logged time as a blogger, I have improved.

One may notice readily that I have not posted much at SUNDRY THOUGHTS recently.  I have, however, been working on drafts of posts about “new” saints with feast days in March.  I have been filling up a notebook with rough drafts in ink and longhand.  That process, with only three drafts left, has neared completion.  I have also started reading a biography of the late Bill Davis, Premier of Ontario (1971-1985), but that is another matter.  Simply put, I have been keeping my face out of a computer screen for long periods of time recently.

I anticipate that I will post (a) these “new” saints here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS and (b) resume posting lectionary-based devotions at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS and BLOGA THEOLOGICA soon.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2022 COMMON ERA

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Posted July 27, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

Reusable Bags   2 comments

I like to use reusable bags when shopping.  I keep them behind the driver’s seat in my truck.  I do, on rare occasions, forget to take reusable bags into a store (such as a grocery store), however.  Most of my reusable bags are big and blue.  They bear the name and logo of my former parish in Athens, Georgia.  A few others are from Dollar General.

Yesterday, I went to Dollar General in Americus, Georgia, where I live.  First, I put my mask on, due to the pandemic.  Then I carried two reusable Dollar General bags to the store, placed them in a shopping cart outdoors, and entered the store.  After I had selected the items I wanted to purchase, I went to check out.  I placed the reusable bags on the counter first.  The cashier was confused.  She asked if I wanted to purchase the bags.  I explained that I wanted to use the reusable bags.  Then she understood.

I live in a disposable society.  This is not a healthy way for a society to be.  Using reusable bags habitually constitutes a modest effort in living responsibly.  It also seems to be relatively rare in my culture, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Programming, Interrupting Commercials   Leave a comment

ADVERTISEMENTS, ASSAULTS UPON HUMAN DIGNITY

Once upon a time, when I had a head full of black hair and dinosaurs roamed the planet, I lived near Cordele, Georgia.  Cordele had a local, independent UHF television station.  I watched enough of that station’s output to realize that the shows interrupted the advertisements.  Even worse, most of these advertisements were, to be polite, homespun.

I have noticed the same issue becoming worse on YouTube in recent years.  The advertisements are not always well-produced either.  I enjoy certain YouTube channels.  One, in particular, consists of men exploring abandoned buildings and cemeteries in western Georgia and eastern Alabama.  I, being a student of history, enjoy old buildings and cemeteries.  Call me weird, if you choose, O reader.  The content is fascinating.  The irritating factor is that, every five minutes, an advertisement interrupts the video.

I used to listen to much music on YouTube.  I, being a Western classicist, am a natural music snob.  I attest that any genre of music that is neither classical nor jazz is inferior to them.  As I once said in reference to country music, it fits the technical definition of music.  And to quote Cynthia Tucker, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, from some years ago,

Rappers would starve if they had to sing for their supper.

I may have insulted some sacred cows.  So be it.  (If I cannot express my opinions on my own weblogs, where can I express them?)  Anyhow, I used to listen to much music on YouTube.  I tired of advertisements interrupting sublimely beautiful music.

I can, of course, pay YouTube not to do this to me.  I refuse, on principle.  I refuse on the grounds that I should not have to pay people NOT to advertise to me.  The summary of my attitude toward 99.99 percent of advertising is,

Is it over yet?

Relentless advertising is an assault upon human dignity.  Your dignity, O reader, stems from you having a pulse and bearing the image of God.  So does my dignity.  My value–your value–is inherent; it has nothing to do with the ability and/or willingness to purchase or watch anything.

Here I stand.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 28, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Lost Potential and the Value of Life   3 comments

Above:  A Memorial Marker in Five Points, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

Photograph Dated February 19, 2021

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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IN MEMORY

OF

MARTIN REYNOLDS SMITH

SON OF

MR. AND MRS.

J. WARREN SMITH

WHO WAS INSTANTLY

KILLED HERE BY A

SPEEDING AUTO TRUCK ON

NOVEMBER 16TH, 1922

MAY 22, 1916

NOVEMBER 16, 1922

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I reside in the Five Points of Athens-Clarke-County.  Between one sidewalk and Lumpkin Street, across the street from a bakery, is a memorial marker one can easily miss if one does not look down and pay attention.

Martin Reynolds Smith died when he was six years old.  What might he have become, had he lived to adulthood?  What contributions might he have made to society?  How might he have affected the lives of others, for the better, overall, hopefully?

Life is precious and full of potential.  The memory of Martin Reynolds Smith persists, to the extend it does, because of a memorial marker in Five Points, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.  In time, all of us–even the most famous people who have lived–will fade from living memory.  It will be as if we had never existed.  Walk through an old cemetery and pay attention, O reader.  Ponder how many or few people may care that those buried in that graveyard existed.  Notice that some grave markers are weathered and illegible.  Notice, too, that some graves have no markers.  Know that those lives had meaning.

Know, also, that your life has meaning, O reader.  Make it count for as much good as possible while you have breath.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted August 5, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Confessions of a Detail-Oriented Geek and Pedant   3 comments

I am a geek and a pedant.

I have been a geek since early childhood.  I have also been detail-oriented and pedantic for as long as I can remember.  I have become more pedantic as I have aged.  I have, for example, developed the nearly-irresistible urge to hurl a copy of any edition of The Elements of Style (Strunk and White) at anyone who says,

The fact that….

And don’t get me started on ‘impact” (as a verb), “impacted,” and “impacting,” in the absence of physical contact.  The only people who have impacted me have punched me.  That was a long time ago, fortunately.  Many people have affected and influenced me, though.

Beginning a thought with, “so,” also annoys me.  Properly, “so” continues a thought.

One of my grandmothers taught English for nearly four decades.  She has continued to influence me beyond her grave.

I, as a geek, enjoy learning more about the topics of my geekiness.  Some of these topics are science fiction-related.  The Internet is replete with science fiction podcasts, most of which are not worth my time.  My two major complaints are:

  1. The hosts swear too much, and
  2. The hosts do not do their homework.

I may learn that I know more about the topic of the podcast episode in question than the hosts.  Then I know that continuing to listen to that podcast constitutes a waste of my time.  I can easily look up when an episode or serial aired in first run, for example.  I can also check to see who played which role.  Yet many podcast hosts do not bother to look up such details before recording.   Speaking out of one’s knowledge is superior to speaking out of one’s ignorance.  Podcasts in which the hosts say,

I don’t know,

too many times do not hold my attention.

I used to listen to a certain podcast about Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine.  I stopped listening to one episode about a minute after it started.  One host asked the other one if the main aliens were the Bajorans or the Pajorans.  (The answer is the Bajorans.)  Finding the answer to that question prior to recording was easy, but one of the hosts did not make the minimal effort to do so.

I do not object to an occasional, well-placed curse word.  Sometimes such language is appropriate and accurate.  However, when profanity becomes verbal wallpaper, the laziness of frequent cursing becomes evident.  And my mother raised me better than to swear as often as many people do.

My background as an educator informs my procedural bias for checking facts.  I know the importance of speaking as accurately as possible as often as possible.  I grasp why keeping one’s facts straight and one’s chronology in order is vital.  I bring this mindset to my hobbies, predictably.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

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In Praise of God’s Gloriously Square Pegs   Leave a comment

FOR THE COMMON GOOD AND THE GLORY OF GOD, OF COURSE

I have been preparing new entries for A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES:  AN ECUMENICAL CALENDAR OF SAINTS’ DAYS AND HOLY DAYS.  Two of the three “new” saints for whom I have written rough-drafts of posts in longhand have been women who violated societal conventions of femininity and did much to serve God in the process.

I like outliers, odd balls, eccentrics, square pegs, and other unconventional people.  I am one, after all.  My life is one of being a default contrarian.  My interests and my sense of self lead me down a path less traveled.  When I merely pursue my interests, I most likely behave in a way contrary to most of the people around me.  So be it.  Therefore, take my word for it, O reader, that I consider “conform” and “conformity” the two most profane words in the English language.  

My spiritual task is to be the best version of myself possible.  My spiritual task is to be the person God created me to be.  My spiritual task is not to be the person anyone else wants me to be.  My spiritual task is to be God’s square peg, in a square hole.  Those who would try to make me fit into a round hole err.

This helps to explain why I add so many outliers, odd balls, eccentrics, and square pegs to my ECUMENICAL CALENDAR.  I call attention to such wonderful human beings with great pleasure.

God calls you, O reader, to be the best version of yourself possible.  I encourage you to answer that sacred call affirmatively.  Be a square peg.  Be one of God’s square pegs.  Be the square peg God wants you to be.  And help others be the square pegs God wants them to be.

So, here is to God’s gloriously square pegs!  They shine with the light of God and challenge comfortable, complacent conformity.  They expose the injustice of certain societal norms.  They renew society and work for the common good.  They glorify God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 21, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, ENGLISH ROMANC CATHOLIC PRIEST-CARDINAL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ARNULF OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT GERMANUS OF GRANFEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR, 677

THE FEAST OF AUSTIN CARROLL (MARGARET ANNE CARROLL), IRISH-AMERICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN, AUTHOR, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT SOUTHWELL, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1595

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS PORMORT, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1592

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