Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We're going to Medellin!

Medellin, a Colombian city located just a hop and a skip north of the Equator, is about a mile high and is home to 3 million people. Which means that this city is perpetually in Spring/Summer mode, is higher up than Denver and has as many people, if not more, than home-sweet-Chicago. And much like Chicago - in fact, much like my own neighborhood - Medellin (pronounced, May-day-jeen', not Ma-je-len, as I foolishly called it) has extreme wealth and extreme poverty side-by-side.

My wife and I are going to visit some of the poorer people.

We're going on a trip with people from our church to visit others working amongst the poor (specifically, the children of the poor, via futbol clinics, etc.).

We'll need some hefty cash between the two of us. Three samoleons worth. (I checked. In the black market, they're worth a G each.)

We're planning on going early August. But we need to start raising the cash fast. The initial bump probably won't be so bad, but the next two months' deposits are some, as Fred Flintstone would say, hard clams.

So, please pray for us. People have already lined up to watch the baby (God, that will be probably the most difficult part of this), I've gotta get my passport, I need to work on my Spanish and non-verbal clues (the happy ones, not the angry ones that I'm mastering while teaching) and, then there's the money issue - trying to raise the cashola, if you're wondering what I mean.

The moola, the greenbacks, cold hard, the paper, the cheese, the Georges and Ben Franks, the stacks, In God We Trusts, the payment, gold, mint, dinero, change, chunks, pie, salad, blood.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Here's a little story

I know so well...

The baby is going through The Teething, Act II. Which means she's not sleeping. Or sleeping very lightly. Which means that the Mrs. is sleeping for about an hour at a time, most of the time, and the most I can hope for is four hours a night. Which means that we're all a little fuzzy here.

And I'm always a little fuzzy at three in the morning.

So, she's crying. And I know I have to give her the medicine for her gums, the pain itself and then change her diaper and put her back into the crib and hope and pray to God that she sleeps for the rest of the morning. She won't. But God has been known to have mercy on the most destitute.

I take out the Infant Tylenol. It's administered in a droplet and tastes like cherry. She's never had cherry before, but she likes the flavor. She guzzles it like a toddler eating Flintstone vitamins, like a car needing gas, with just a wee bit of seepage spilling out. And then I rub in the Baby Orajel. She doesn't so much resist it this time. She tends to suck at it and relinquish it of its powers, but I've generally gotten better at getting it into her before she overcomes it.

Unfortunately, now I've got both of the medicines on my hands and I've already placed her down on the changing pad. I can't leave her to go to the bathroom and wash it off. And then I frantically search in my mind for a solution.

And I think, "Gosh, if only there were something in the baby room that is portable and wet that I could wipe my hands with. Kind of like tissue, but a little more durable. Something that would be delicate enough for my hands or a baby's behind. It would be preferable if it were white, so I could see in the dark. I need something to wipe my hands with in this here baby room."

If only...

Someone should invent this product. I for one would buy it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Talkin' bout my denomination. Denomination, baby...

With ten minutes until the outage, let me present what I think is the future of regional comprehension:
Denominational Maps by County.

Click image for bigger view

Click here for original, larger view, explanation and interpretation.

The colors each stand for the largest denomination in each county. Counties with more than 50% of the population belonging to a specific denomination are marked with a plus (notice Utah area, Southern Texas, Northern Texas and several areas around the South, as well as Garrison Keillor Lutheran land)

One of the things I find intriguing is the deep red aerial view of the Bible Belt.

My area (larger investors in Notre Dame football than in the local college teams, by the way) is largely Catholic. No surprise, even in the home and hub of the megachurch. What of yours?

h/t to MarkO

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Going the Way of the Friendster

I'm on Facebook. And so is my wife. And two of my brothers. And several friends from church. Some bosses too. Some old friends that I haven't seen since high school. A lot of people that I don't know that I went to high school with (Actually, the latter, none of the former). Old co-workers. Blogging buddies (some of you, incidentally).

And about 5 million others. Facebook really took off with the advent of allowing anyone with an email address to become a user. And that's had its draws. My wife, for one, loves the ability to get back in touch with a bunch of friends that she hasn't had real contact with in years.

But, you know.... I'm just not feeling the Facebook love.

And apparently, I'm not the only one.

This professor
says that the popularity of the social-networking site is going to diminish. He calls it a holiday romance, only meant to last for a very brief, but passionate, fling. I kind of see it as a supernova - except without all the flash.

There's too many danged applications. The place gets cluttered with all of the apps. There's not too many ways of staying connected with your Fb friends, besides the occasional Wall or Superpoke. Outside of that, it really doesn't have much character on its own. It used to be a site primarily aimed and for college students and maybe some profs. But now with the gates wide open, it seems to have the gears grinding to become another MySpace - only without the saving grace of the music.

So, the popularity should be waning soon. It'll go out of style, kind of like Blogger, and only us dinosaurs and some hard-core enthusiasts will remain, along with some weirdos, spammers who attacked too late and never left and... well, a lot of ghostblogs.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

News of the Weird 8 - Say What?*

An example of how political correctness runs amok:

[In 2002,] a deaf female couple... used sperm from a donor with a family history of deafness to conceive and give birth to a hearing-disabled son; they explained that they wanted the baby to be deaf like themselves and their older child. This past December the London Times wrote on controversial genetic-screening legislation then making its way through the UK's House of Lords. As drafted, the law would bar parents from using screening to deliberately select an embryo with a disability. The chairperson of the British Deaf Association said, "If hearing and other people are allowed to choose embryos that will be 'like them,' sharing the same characteristics, language and culture, then we believe that deaf people should have the same right."
Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 1/24/08 p. 99.

One, whatever happened to the practice of adopting? I know it's expensive and a red-tape nightmare, but we should work on that system, instead of artificially creating babies when too many that are alive already are neglected (and yes, my wife and I have talked about the possibility of adopting. It's not a yet, but it is an open door that we've been considering).

Two, I know, understand and sympathize that many hearing-impaired have built a large and tight-knit community amongst themselves. I'm not against that preference - although I believe that we could all benefit from more positive interaction and integration with all types of people. What I find troubling is this belief that we should choose a deficit (and I'm sorry, it is a deficit. Just like my severe near-sightedness) for a baby in order to make it a part of your family.

As a limited metaphor, my baby is MUCH more attractive than I am or ever was. I would never think of uglifying her to make her more relatable to me.

Now, for a good politically-correct idea, how about No Name-Calling Week? (h/t to YPulse)

*Cheap joke, I know. Sorry.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

She's trained too well

My wife trained our daughter to smile at the camera. And it's a wonderful, heart-melting smile. Seriously, whenever a camera - and especially our camera - is focused on her little six month old face, she beams and looks directly at the lens. It's kinda pavlovian-scary. And it works. It's not something that most little ones do.

But yesterday, in our continuing quest to independitize our baby (although not too fast), we fed her oatmeal. We've already been feeding her rice, and she took to that fairly well, but we've graduated her from little tastes to peanut-butter thick concoctions of her milk and the cereal.

I think with the oatmeal, we went too fast, too furious with it.

And now, well, I guess she cleared out her system.




It was so bad that my wife couldn't go in to work today.

The little booger was making "O my god i've got lower intestine problems today" faces. And, from the way Jen described them, they were also really funny.

So Jen, being a parent of a future teenager, wants to document this for future posterity (and blogging posts) of course. "Do I need to remind you of how you look when you're upset? See this, this is what you look like, little missy. Now, quit arguing with me and put on a sweater!"

But the baby pauses from her suffering to smile for the camera. She's still flush in the cheeks, but that's the only thing that looks flush-esque about her.

God, I miss being home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Disappered

"They disappeared him."

I thought that this subtitle was another error in a documentary that, simply put, was a bad movie.

I should say that it was bad as a movie. Not very filmic. The plotting was slow, the editing couldn't seem to find a rhythm, the whole set-up was less-than-inspired.

But the stories, the reason for the documentary (and unlike most documentaries, not the other way around), were profoundly gripping. Justice Without Borders was a movie produced by the human rights watchgroup Amnesty International and it was a bit on the sprawling side. The theme of the movie was the reign of terror of despotic leaders of state and paramilitaries who rely on the lack of international law to hold them accountable and about the efforts of organizations like Amnesty and the International Criminal Court to bring them to justice.

But this phrase, "they disappeared him." It just sounded so obscure and out of place in this sentence structure, I almost spit out my Corona (along with its little lime slice). Couldn't this grand community with chapters in nearly every country have found someone who could actually translate from Spanish? What's next to crawl at the bottom of the screen? "All your syntax are belong to us"?

But then the word appeared again. And again. And many times over, in subtitled Spanish and plain English, in verb usage as well as descriptive nouns.

They were disappeared.

My daughters are disappeared.

They disappeared them.

The disappeared.

Forced disappearances is what it's known as in Wikipedia. And it's happened all over, but especially in Latin American countries and - as far as I know - throughout the 70's and 80's, when the U. S. government was most worried about Communists and we were best friends with anyone else who was worried about the Communists. That spirit has led to atrocities and blinded eyes.

(Click here to view the video)

After the screening, a woman who was featured in the movie, who had both a father and her two daughters disappeared during an over-night stay, spoke poetically, bravely and achingly about her loss and plight.

I could not imagine being in her shoes. I physically wince every time someone mentions the death or even the hurting of a little one now. And if someone were to hurt my daughter, I don't think that I would have the patience to await justice as served by the courts - certainly not the fair trials that many of the loved ones of the Disappeared call for.

The actions in Guatemala - which were the ones depicted in the film - and many others happened over two decades ago, three in other states. There has yet to be resolution, which is why this U2 song, haunting me in its hushed melody and forgotten lyrics, seemed to so-appropriately abide in my head for the rest of the night.

Mothers of the Disappeared

Midnight, our sons and daughters
were cut down and taken from us
Hear their heartbeat...
We hear their heartbeat

In the wind
we hear their laughter
In the rain
we see their tears
Hear their heartbeat...
We hear their heartbeat

Night hangs like a prisoner
Stretched over black and blue
Hear their heartbeat...
We hear their heartbeat.

In the trees
Our sons stand naked
Through the walls
Our daughters cry
See their tears in the rainfall

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Eli Manning in the Super Bowl?

I may pass this year.

Stupid Green Bay defense making stupid mistakes!

Batman and Gangster

1) Really, really looking forward to the Dark Knight movie. And especially since I heard this:

"Harvey Dent is a tragic figure, and his story is the backbone of this film," says [director] Christopher Nolan... "The Joker, he sort of cuts through the film -- he's got no story arc, he's just a force of nature tearing through."

The thing is, the Joker scares the crap out of me. It does somewhat remind me of the latest Spider-Man movie, where the Sandman and his dilemma was really the emotional arc of the movie and Venom was a nightmare-inducing guest. Venom gives me nightmares.

The difference though, of course, is that although Venom was around for a bit, he wasn't permanent. The Joker should last for a long time in the movies, unlike in the Jack Nicholson part. But his presence should always be felt, like a flippin' hurricane.

2) I don't care for American Gangster. I thought it was a pile of historical bullshit - as well as other bits of bullshit. And not in the not-as-right-as-it-could-have-been way that Denzel's character in the Hurricane was.

I was right. The caskets. The informing. All piles of heaping, flaming rubbish.

H/t for both to Peter Chattaway.

Zero Degrees. Fahrenheit.

If zero degrees Celsius is when water starts freezing, then zero degrees Fahrenheit has got to be when body parts start falling off.

Can't believe I ventured out into this weather twice when neither my job nor life was dependent on it.

I met someone from California last week who said that she had never understood when friends from Chicago would call her and ask how the weather was. Seriously, we live on conversations about the weather here. It is flipping interesting, especially in January. By February, though, it's over. We just want it to end, don't want to speak of it anymore.

Hopefully, this'll be the only two day stretch where it falls below 0 F.

Don't wanna jinx it, though.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Wonder of Saturday Mornings

Born in the mid-70's and the oldest of five boys.

We lived for Saturday mornings in the 80s and early 90s. Sleeping in. Or not. Sugar blasted cereal when we could get it. Wheat Chex blasted with sugar most of the time. Sitting in front of our black and white model or our grandmother's color (wow) TV. Parked for immovable hours at a time at the feet of Superfriends, Transformers, G. I. Joe, Voltron, Spider-Man and Friends, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Punky Brewster (with the little ugly alien at her side), Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield and Friends, Archie, Josie and the Pussycats, Bugs Bunny and Friends (are you catching a pattern with the names here? And how do we know they were friends? Garfield was not the sociable type. Bugs was always looking out for numero uno. Spider-Man probably didn't do late night poker with Ice Man), The Harlem Globetrotters, The Incredible Hulk ("Hulk Smash!"), Rubik's Cube, Ghostbusters, Gummy Bears, Menudo, Muppet Babies, Fat Albert, Scooby Doo (and Scrappy, too), Saved by the Bell, the Snorks, the Smurfs.

The Smurfs are 50 this week. I liked watching them. But I always figured that they were somewhat effeminate and was a bit ashamed of my fondness for the show (unlike with the superheroes, I never owned Smurf merchandise, though. So I'm ok in that regard). It wasn't until yesterday that I figured out why it might be harder for a parent to have a young girl watch these shows. In fact, although the American version probably wasn't any where near as sexist as the auteur would've preferred.

From the Straight Dope:

The character Smurfette... embodies some unflattering female stereotypes, and does so on purpose. In a recent biography of Peyo, Hugues Dayez relates a story about the cartoonist's negotiations with NBC for the upcoming Smurf animated series. Peyo apparently spoke little or no English. When the discussion turned to Smurfette, Peyo's interpreter explains:

Peyo began by saying that she was "very feminine." They asked him to be more specific, so he went on to say: "She is pretty, blonde, she has all the characteristics of women."

Knowing the feminist spirit in the U.S.A., I diplomatically translated this as "all the qualities." I was banking on the fact that Peyo did not understand what I was saying (in English) and the others did not understand what he was trying to say. So naturally they asked him to expand. So he kept on going with: "She seduces, she uses trickery rather than force to get results. She is incapable of telling a joke without blowing the punch line. She is a blabbermouth but only makes superficial comments. She is constantly creating enormous problems for the Smurfs but always manages to blame it on someone else."

I did my best to minimize the sexist nature of this description, but one of the participants at the meeting asked: "Would she at least be able, when the Smurfs are in danger, to take a decision that can save them?" When I translated this to Peyo, he looked astounded. "Come on now, do they expect me to make her a (female) gym teacher?" I obviously did not translate this remark.

Read more interesting facts here.

h/t to Mark O.

2) One thing I miss about Saturday mornings (and especially this Saturday morning) is being able to go to the cafe and ruminate for several hours. Reading. Writing. Wonderful Letizia's natural muffins. Getting away. Sips from a large, never-ending (but sometimes chilling) cup of international coffee. Shutting off the world or engaging with it. Actually, with the exception of shutting off the world (more on that later) and the muffins, I'm enjoying all of that now. Yeah, life is good.

3) I usually have to rush out of the house just as Joss is waking up. And I usually make it home just as - and increasingly, just after - she goes down for the night. I'm lucky if I get to spend more than three hours of wake time with her during the weekdays. And Jen is an early-morning sleeper. Since she usually has the wee-early morning hours when my spud body is most potato-ish, if my wife can sleep in when she doesn't have to rush for work or church, then that goes a long way.

So Saturday mornings are still wonder-filled. Joss was screaming her little head off as I was putting her down last night, partially because it didn't look like night. This morning, I held Joss for twenty minutes as we lay on the couch observing each other. Yes, life is good.

I do miss Count Chocula though. Not the Wheat Chex.

Friday, January 18, 2008

News of the Weird 7 - Clive Owens They Ain't

Arthur Cheney, 64, was pulled over and arrested on Highway 70 near Marysville, California, in December. His Mercedes matched the description of a car linked to a string of 16 bank robberies, and in the vehicle's center console officers found a Post-It note reading "Robbery - 100s and 50s only." Also in December, police said they'd arrested 26-year-old Orlando Taylor as he approached a bank in downtown Brooklyn; a special task force had been assembled to stop him after he'd allegedly robbed the two banks on that block a total of four times in the previous four days.*

One: The man stole from 16 banks before he got caught. In the same car! I'm not quite sure if he's dim or brilliant or just a lucky S. O. B. (But, with a last name like Cheney, you can't go wrong.)

Two: Two banks. One block. Four times. Four days. Is five in five days really all that necessary, Orlando?
And who was this special elite team made up of? I can only imagine a tough, cigar-chomping leader who loves it when a plan comes together. A handsome man who has multiple fake identities and can read phone numbers from the sound of the dialing. A no-nonsense beef of a mechanic with aerophobia and a zany and crazy pilot who comes to the rescue at just the right time. I also imagine that this team shoots randomly toward people, possibly blowing up cars but never hitting any one.


* Chuck Shepherd, "News of the Weird", The Chicago Reader, January 17, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Many Faces of Jocelyn Carrisa

Six months. Half a year. One glorious and sleep-deficient day after another.

On July 17th, 2007, at 11 pm Central Time in a hospital on the North Side of Chicago founded by a mysterious and secretive sect of powerful men, our daughter was birthed. The following is a snapshot (or several) really, of just our amazement at how cute she had been and has been, of how her little face (and big smile) and body is continually changing.

I'll stop talking now and let you dwell, or just enjoy Six Months in the Life of Jocelyn Carissa.

And after you've viewed that a million times, you can catch this pretender.

See? He doesn't change nearly as much nor is he anywhere near as cute. But blah, blah, blah, guess who gets all the attention and the Simpsons Movie spotlight?

Speaking of Lego's:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Superheros in real life

Crimefighters fighting crime. But often delivering sandwiches. Or safeguarding kids from probable pedophiles. Or walking on fruitless patrols.

Catch this photospread and this story on real life superheroes.

It can be scary. It can be a good use of resources. But what it is, is funny.

Maybe now they can band their uncanny abilities together and can finally find and put a stop to Osama bin Squirrelama.h/t to

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kenya on the mind

I just did a search on Kenya on my Google News Reader. Nothing since the 5th. A week and a half ago.


Not a blurb.

Not a peep.

As if the country stopped existing.

Or maybe as if everything is just fine and dandy again. And just as it should be.

Status quo.

And I suppose that's how it is. Once again.

The status quo of our news coverage is that we chomp down on international horror stories until we've had our full. And then we vomit. And then we gorge down on Britney Spears and have our full of that until those days are beyond us.

As if we're afraid to chew on and digest slowly the bitter roots that happen around and, indeed, within us. We have tasted it (or so we think), and that is enough. Give us saccharine.

I am a bit frustrated. Not just about this particular instance. Or the many similar (albeit in larger scale) ones from before (Liberia, Afghanistan, various regions of Iraq, Rwanda, Bosnia...). But what I see in myself as a willingness to go along with the tide. To be satisfied in being satisfied. To think that what goes, goes. And so should I.

Fortunately, the voices of the shut-out don't shut up.

Pastor Eugene Cho from Seattle had a guest blogger on his site last week who talked and amalgamated and linked to and wrestled with stories on Kenya.

This is my favorite of the three part series. It is from the mouths (er, keypads) of the countrymen/women themselves. Here are a few excerpts:

I was watching CNN as opposed to Kenyan television channels because I wanted to see what the world was saying about us. The world is saying that Kenyans, who had been on the brink of one of the most astonishing democratic transitions witnessed in Africa, degenerated, very conveniently for the West’s stereotypes, to a ‘business as usual: chaos and anarchy right on schedule’ version of the African story. These broadcasts are brimming with just barely-suppressed glee at being able to say that tribal violence is tearing the East African nation of Kenya apart, long regarded as an exemplary bastion of stability in the region. We have confirmed some cherished stereotypes and validated many racists worldwide. (read directly here)

By the way, how come CNN does not cover American soldiers or civilians bleeding and writhing in pain, yet they show such images from other places?? (here)


Our politicians are not suffering. They have running water. Milk, eggs, bread, meat and even cake are delivered to their doorsteps. It is me and you, my friends, who risk being beaten up by mobs and shot by the police as we look for milk and bread for us and our own. And while our brothers and sisters and cousins and nephews and nieces are dying, pseudo-leaders wallowing in crass stupidity appear on TV to grandstand, blaming the chaos on each other. Listen, nitwits. We are not interested in your grandstanding and finger pointing. We want solutions. (here)

How soon we pass

My cracked fingers are dirty and splochy with all sorts of marks on them from various types of markers. As I'm writing this on the bus, I can only find a red chisel-tip Sharpie and a handful of orange notecards.

At an intersection, a man walks adjacent to the bus wearing an aqua-green plastic robe. It looks a bit like a garbage bag. Or a cheap Halloween costume. On his head lies the pastel foam crown of Lady Liberty. He is advertising criminally high-rate fast loans to the poor from a walking billboard that promises freedom.

We pass the Faith in God Nails and Hair Salon. I doubt at this moment that I'll get home in time to hold my daughter. She did not nap this afternoon. Which means that she was screaming all afternoon. Which means that she is going down early. Which means that she'll be home before my half-hour ride gets me within vicinity of her squeamishly happy hug.

On Friday I picked her up from my wife's job. My wife's boss was sad to see her leave so soon.

My wife's boss is great. Jen and the baby get to come into a downtown women's empowerment firm's office three times a week for several hours. And the baby is adored there.

Jen needed some extra time to finish some projects. I was the delivery man, bringing baby on a sling, only in style.

She wore a faux-fur coat like she was born to wear it. Her deep blue eyes and edible cheeks would only guarantee that she had to be something out of a television commercial for baby angels who don't murder furry animals for clothing.

We bounded through the State of Illinois Center. The little one is drawn to windows like a moth to the flames (the difference being that she is not burned to a crisp by windows) and stretched her little neck back. And arched her little head back all the way until she was dizzy. I waited for her to get a grasp on what she was viewing. She is amazed. I am amazed at her amazement.

She is looking at the passengers as they pass by our perch on the bench in the subway. Busy people leaving their busy offices. Still buzzing from the joy-kill that was a week spent in an office, haggling with people every work-day for five days straight about things that they do not care about, and neither do the people they are doing business with.

And they notice the little girl with the big blue eyes gazing at them. And just as they pass, for an instant and just for an instant, they smile back. A warm, inviting smile. A smile that seems to transport them to another time, another place, another season, another mood. They are in the woods. They are walking their child. They are kissing their lovers. They are breathing deep. Their hair is being run through by the wind, or by a loved one's fingers. Their steps are lighter. They have the ability to say anything. They have the power to say nothing. They are gorgeous and bright and the world is happy.

And as Joss arches her back and her neck and lifts up her legs to continue her glancing at them while they pass, they move on. They correct themselves. They are grown-ups, living in a grown-up world.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Albums by Christians that Rock: Link List

This is a link list of all the blogs that have participated so far in the blog-a-thon on Albums by Christians that Rock. Yes, I'm aware that it's a suck-y title. But I tend to think less of "Christian rock" and I just thought I might as well go all the way clumsy (and 80's hair-metal fan sounding) if it's going to be a cumbersome title anyway.

This list will be constantly updated and brought up to speed throughout the next week or so. Hopefully, there'll be more than just these two.

Jasdye: Dig, Adam Again (12/30/07) [Yes, it's obscenely long. And no, it's not definitive. But it is a work of passion about an extremely obscure college-rock-funk band. That's gotta count for something.]

Art: Achtung Baby, U2 (1/2/08) [Yes, wonderful choice.]


The Arachnerd: Diamonds on the Inside, Ben Harper (1/14/08) [Who does not love Ben Harper? If I didn't already have a girl, I'd want to have Ben Harper's baby.]

Uh-oh, this is starting to look like an actual marathon and more people keep adding to the fray! Watch out; it's Blogger-mania!

The Cubicle Reverend: Various CCM records, including the Adventures of the O. C. Supertones, Supertones; Take Me to Your Leader, Newsboys; Free Signal, Beanbag [a new one for me]; and 21, The Blamed. [Incidentally, I did not have an alcoholic beverage at the age of 21. Yes, a dramatically boring life.]

Don't you wanna be linked?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

News of the Weird - 6? More squirrels attack

As if to further prove the points of NotW vol. 4:

A parked car belonging to Lindsey Millar of Bayonne, New Jersey, burst into flames one October afternoon; authorities reportedly concluded that a squirrel had gnawed through the insulation on overhead power lines, caught on fire, and fallen close enough to the car to ignite it as well.

I'm telling you people. The squirrels are going kamikaze on us. Although, to be quite honest, it sounds like something from the A-Team.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008

So, uh, what's going on?

Thanks for asking, Peter. Let's see:

  • After this weekend, not only am I going back to work, but so is the Mrs. And she's taking the baby along with her.
  • I finally hung up some shelves for our micro-kitchenette.
  • My wife and I have been sharing a computer for over half a year now. First mine went ka-put, then hers. She should be getting hers back in about a week. Thank God. The A/C chord on my machine is acting all loosey goosey.
  • My brother's 28th birthday is today. His girlfriend has been planning a surprise party for him for well-over a month. She told him about it several weeks ago.
  • Joss is teething. Bad. And the usual suspects (including Baby Orajel) aren't working, or at least not for any measurable moment of time. But we found that the Baby Einstein videos do work. And I know that I've criticized them in the past (lack of vocab for viewers, according to a study), but we try to watch it with her and interact with her when we can.
  • And it's only until this horrendous period passes, right?
  • And it'll pass any moment now, right?
  • I'm leading Bible study for our small group on Monday for the next three weeks. We'll be talking about Jesus and the Kingdom. Gospel of Matthew.
  • The CEO of my district is coming in on Monday. I just found out today. I am so scared.
  • I'm trying to get at least a post up each day. So that way, I can soon have an audience in the millions like Scot McKnight has. And then I can sell books too.
  • I got some work done on my memoir/collection of essays that I've been working on & off with since the summer. I feel good about it. I may post some stuff soon. Especially if I can't think of anything else to post.
  • We moved Joss to the other bedroom. There's a monitor in our room. This way, we won't bother her when we go to bed. Unfortunately, she can still bother us.
  • My computer's AC adapter is broken. New one coming by the end of the week (hopefully). So this kind of delays my plans to write a new piece every day.

Obama and Huckabee?

In Iowa?

This may very well be the most interesting (if not essential) presidential race since the peanut farmer from Georgia came away with the keys to the White House.

Notice who is behind and to the right (your right) of Governor Mike. That's why Iowans Heart Huckabee.

In other news, the baby is teething. Has been for several days. And nights. Nobody's sleeping. And her first go at the Baby Orajel didn't go so well. Update: Her second didn't take didn't go much better, if at all.

We've also been trying (lately) the old frozen rag trick (no, it's not oily) as well as gently rubbing her gums. These seem to be only momentary and oh-too-temporary distractions for the constant pain.

I don't want my baby to start on pills already. She's too innocent.

Parents, I beg of you: any suggestions?


I suppose I would have never figured Kenya to devolve into these tactics. Maybe, no, especially, their neighboring countries. But not Kenya.

I knew it was a corrupt state. But I always thought that it was more, um... civilized, I suppose. I sound ignorant. And despite the fact that I once knew a good number of Kenyans, I am.

I wonder if, though, this had happened here in the US in 2000, after our hotly contested, and highly controversial presidential election (to put it nicely), how things would have turned out differently.

But rape and machetes and water cannons and banning of political marches and burning of villagers hiding in a church? There is a lot of desperation, and I suppose that I do not know nearly as much as I thought I knew about the state of the downtrodden and poor and ethnic conflicts (way to go, stupid imperialism!) in that nation.

Pray for Kenya. Pray for Kenyans.

By the way, from what I've read from the BBC: Focus on Africa magazine for this quarter, the two top contenders (incumbent Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga) are very similar - at least in terms of policies and political views. (Note: The Time article confirms this. Also worth a read for a brief recap and catch-up on the reasons behind the rioting and ethnic killings.) Odinga is calling himself a reformer, but apparently the only thing that will change if he's in power will be the temperament of the president - Kibaki is seen as laid-back and indifferent while Odinga is seen as a hot-head who does not suffer disagreements.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

College Life and Binocular Sports

I saw this video a while ago, but while cleaning through my Google Reader files, I discovered it again. Thought it's worth a view, if nothing else.

h/t to Scot McKnight

And, while we're at it:

h/t to YSMarko

I think I also owe marko a hat tip for this, my favorite video of last year and a hit with my bilingual community and fam:

No remembro how to say eleven

And for all you myth lovers, there's Charlie. He's a unicorn. Here, let me show you:


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

File this under "Record Companies Suck"

I'm not into bootlegs, copywrite violations, file-sharing, etc. I do think, that to an extent, they qualify as stealing, or some participation in it. Overall, though, my take is this: support the artist. The music industry business itself, especially as it is not supporting the development of the artists so much anymore, and are making artists pay for their own recordings, are paying them back a small percentage of what they make, don't cover touring and the heavy promotional stuff (except for traditional radio, something they've been good at for well over 50 years and the occasional big artist/band/American Idol), and now they're going after the fans.

One music fan (and certainly the type of music fan that the industry wants on their side, judging by her music selection), as many are well aware, was ordered to pay a sum of [edit] $220,000 (US) to the industry for sharing a total of 24 songs. That breaks down to about $9,250 each song - far above the going rate for pop music. The shocking thing, however, wasn't that she was charged, the shocking thing is that she didn't back down to the Goliath that is the RIAA and is going through the court system. And fighting against their expensive (and ludicrous) lawyers.

(Another charge against the music industry: Twenty-four songs along the likes of Richard Marx, Journey and Destiny's Child. Apparently, despite her high-tech means, she couldn't find any music made within this century.)

According to this article in the Washington Post, the RIAA views "the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer."

RIAA, you suck.

And furthermore, I haven't watched your joke of an award show (nor cared for the outcomes) in years.

Grow up or die.


Radiohead got more from its near give-away of its record In Rainbows online than the record company prior to this had given them for all of their sales online - including iTunes (before the actual physical copy even debuted).

"We’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever [in terms of anything put out on the net]... It’s partly due to the fact that EMI wasn’t giving us any money for digital sales." This according to their frontman Thom Yorke in Wired Magazine. (h/t to via Ypulse)

In case you aren't aware (say... you're my wife) Radiohead decided to post its last record for download at whatever flippin' price the customer deemed it worthy to pay. Most, of course, paid nothing or close to nothing (not because it wasn't worth it. Many claim this to be their best album since Kid A. But because people can be wipes. Cheap wipes.), but Radiohead still got the better end of the bargain.

From the Wired intro:
Roughly 40 percent of [the downloaders] paid for it, according to comScore, at an average of $6 each, netting the band nearly $3 million. Plus, since it owns the master recording (a first for the band), Radiohead was also able to license the album for a record label to distribute the old-fashioned way — on CD.

$3,000,000? That's more than all of their combined records sold made them?

And if that's not enough to get your heart fluttering...

Radiohead talks to Talking Head

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Everyday Radiance

Why don't I have this novel yet?

It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance -- for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light. That is what I said in the Pentecost sermon. I have reflected on that sermon, and there is some truth in it. But the Lord is more constant and far more extravagant than it seems to imply. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?
-- Marilynne Robinson, from Gilead

h/t to Andy Whitman

At this moment, I'm holding my daughter as she's struggling to comprehend and eat her Christmas toys. She is the cutest thing (click here if you want proof) and soft and cuddly to boot. And her smile, when she smiles, is a moment of pure, unadulterated joy. It's a sunset over the ocean, with the salty breeze blowing just hard enough to smell it. It's Pentecost.

But sometimes when I'm away from her and my wife, I get saddened that I am not with them. It's a sort of every-day letdown. A feeling that I've come down from the mountaintop and that life is somehow more dreary, somehow less vivid, and I am less alive. Where's the sun, I ask in this classroom or that hallway or office? Where's the sweet sprinkle of sea water?

But, much like Moses only seeing God while on the mountain, much like the one reassuring vision that MLK had, the mountaintop experiences validate - and should not replace - the dessert years. That grace is recognizing the glory in our everyday lives. That I work for my Lord - as well as for my daughter and my wife. And, well, my own sanity.