Same job, different uniform.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This Just In

From Scotland where we can only assume this is funny.

UPDATE: The Scottish culprit (so eerily like pulpit) who forwarded this along further insults us by suggesting that it originated in the U.S. because "less" should be "fewer." If you have read the description of number of items allowed in the express lane at your local supermarket, you must know that he's right.

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Freedom, Acknowledged or Not

He cowered in the corner of his room, sweat beads popping out over his scarred face. I heard whimpering.

A Judge, the only one in the case with the right and power to do so, granted him a pardon. No strings attached--not even "If you do it again, I'll..." With a mighty pounding of the gavel, the guilty prisoner had walked out of the vast courtroom into the light.

I moved toward him and touched his shoulder. "How long have you been this way? Why don't you go outside? Drink something. Have a little nourishment."

Those grey wild eyes turned. "I am in prison, you fool. And how did you get in here? Why are you mocking me?"

I stared. He believed he was still in prison.

The declaration was irreversible, not even open for appeal. This heart had been given the intolerable compliment of freedom, peace and goodwill. I had watched him leave the courtroom with bounding step. Now I blinked in disbelief as he shrunk into the corner of his wide room.

It must be a mighty delusion that denies a man the truth about his circumstances.

The universe had not shifted one iota. All was intact except his understanding.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas is for the young at heart. . .

. . . and I am nothing if not that.

I am 22-years-old and have never outgrown my love of Disney animated movies. And I enjoy the hundreds of figurines I've collected from said movies even more than the films themselves.

I don't get bored babysitting, because I like getting on the floor and playing with kids, and even like watching "The Wiggles."

And when I'm not babysitting I find myself too often turning to the Disney channel to watch one of their shows like "That's So Raven," "Phil of the Future," or even "Lizzie McGuire."

Last year at this time I was more stressed out than I had ever before been in my short life, which is saying a lot, because I've been working my butt off ever since going away for college. But in 2004 I was taking a full course load at UT and working 40 hours week babysitting and at a Montessori school.

It was my first and so far last job at a daycare (because ultimately that's all it was), and I was dealing for the first time with the heartache of the reality that too many kids are being raised by child care providers and not their own parents. And the other reality, that often this was a better life for them than what they could be getting at home.

Kids would come to school saying words their tender ears should never have heard, and telling us teachers about their mom's new boyfriend who yells at them. Their lives were heartbreaking, and I felt and carried their pain and sorrow in the deepest part of my being.

When Christmas season rolled around I began listening to Christmas music 24/7. One day while driving home from a particularily stressful day at work, I decided I'd try something new while listening to the holiday tunes. I rolled up the windows in my car, and instead of trying to sound as much like Mariah Carey as I could, I just began belting out the songs at the top of my lungs.

I was off-key, singing my heart out like I was 5-years-old again, and it was freeing. I felt like I was on top of the world, singing these songs like I didn't have a care in the world.

Doing this helped me get through this most trying time in my life, and it's a tradition I continue this Christmas season. Even though I'm no longer at the Montessori, beacuse I accepted the fact that it was too heavy of a burden to carry as a full-time college student, singing like I don't know how to sing is still a great way to forget about stress. So if you too are young at heart, then I suggest giving this a try.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Entering the Fray over Pansies

We rarely mention local government, largely because, since Congressman Chenoweth retired, Idaho politics are intolerably boring.

Until Boise elected a pansy for a mayor.

It is a shame that David Bieter is a pansy because he is a Roman Catholic of sorts and he is Basque. Boise's first Roman Catholic Basque mayor.

A summary of his crowing disgrace follows.

About two years ago a very bad man named Fred Phelps breezed into Idaho with a demand to erect an inflammatory anti-gay monument in a local park. Already standing, and undoubtedly largely ignored, a gift from the Eagles to the City of Boise in 1965: A monument engraved with the Ten Commandments. If you are unfamiliar with the text, it is loaded with absurdities like "You Shall Not Murder."

Our precious purple flower, who should have thrown back his head and howled, said that Boise needed to pre-empt a lawsuit from Mr. Phelps and remove the 40-year old Ten Commandments monument at once. At once!

From the Washington Post:

"Our frustration is, it's very difficult to tell what kind of display would be constitutional" in light of the Supreme Court's split decisions, Bieter said. He noted that a majority of the justices emphasized the context of the displays, upholding the Texas monument because it was one of 38 historical markers and monuments around the state Capitol.

The mayor, a lawyer, said Boise's display had been practically alone in the park. "A single monument where it was -- I think we'd have a tough time arguing that was in line with today's decision," he said.

By all accounts, the Boise monument went virtually unnoticed for decades until it came to the attention of the Rev. Fred Phelps, a Kansas minister who travels the country inveighing against homosexuality. Phelps argued that if Boise allowed one religious display on its property, it must allow him to erect a monument declaring that Matthew Shepard, a gay man murdered in a hate crime in Wyoming 1998, is "burning in hell."

Bieter said the City Council decided to move the monument so that it could reject Phelps's application without risking a costly lawsuit..."

From Bieter's press office: "...the city is neutral toward religion, as the U.S. Constitution requires." The press release goes on to list other cities (he wishes there were hundreds of them) that have removed Ten Commandments monuments from local parks.

Put another way, other cities are led by pansies and there is safety in numbers.

But this is old news, g-friday. Why now?

When there are blizzards in the Plains, her citizens hunch over computers and write. And today one of them linked to a mini biography of Mr. Phelps, a depraved, grasping fool, who in the final measure is more in need of my prayers for his soul than my useless rants against his character.

But when I read half of what is contained there, I experienced my outrage at Mayor Bieter all over again.

We expect better of Catholics and Basques and Elected Officials. Why, in the face of feeble, hateful rhetoric like Phelps', would we want a pansy at the helm?

What Boise needs is a steel magnolia.

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White Noise is at it again

This time defining my existence:

I would appreciate it if they would call a halt on all their devoted efforts to find a way to abolish war or eliminate disease or run trains with atoms or extend the span of human life to a couple of centuries, and everybody concentrate for a while on how to wake me up in the morning without my resenting it... -- Archie Goodwin

From Before Midnight by one Rex Stout.

For those who know me, I shudder for you.

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At Last

A Fantasy League for the rest of us.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

For Getting Better than I Deserve

at the hands of God and His agents.

Now that is something to be thankful for.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

For You, for Me, for Every Heart

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."

-H.U. Westermayer

"Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more-- A grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise."

-George Herbert

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Cold Hard Truths

There are some cold, hard truths in this life. You may love someone who does not return that love. You may work hard your whole life, striving for one glorious moment and never get it. You may pray for God to spare the life of a loved one and God may have other plans.

In this world there is true evil that goes unpunished (though I'm quite certain justice is served in another world). There are men and women with perfect features and perfect bodies who recieve big fat paychecks for being nothing more than the unwitting recipients of those God-given attributes - and you and I are usually not that person. The rich get richer, celebrities get free stuff, the Al Zarqawi's of the world either remain at large or explode themselves instead of facing swift and deserved retribution.

And then there is this cold, hard truth: a broken graham cracker can not be fixed by a mother . . . . no matter how often, how persistently, or how loudly a slightly obsessive two year old may ask for it.

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"This Door to Remain Closed at All Times"

What is a door for?

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Monday, November 21, 2005

If I were you, I wouldn't read this...

...article referenced by Ann Althouse. If you read the comments, and I urge you not to, you may be transported to The Assembly of Women, where you should be a spectator, shrieking with laughter at Aristophanes' misguided jab at Socrates and instead are wringing your clammy hands. Dread is seeping through your pores. The sky is turning purplish-grey.

What you're watching is a reality show.

Next to you is your smiling lover. You return her smile, weakly. You are sure you are not related to her.

Aren't you?

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Bloody brilliant

Warning: "Potterese" ahead . . . and if you haven't read "Goblet of Fire," and are planning to see the movie, then don't read this post. There are spoilers ahead, but only if you haven't read the book . . .

First of all I have to say there are discrepancies. I didn't notice a lot of them at first, then talked to my friend Brandon after the movie, and he pointed out a lot of them to me. But I chalk all the changes up to needing to fit the movie into a 2 and 1/2 hour time slot. So as not to let you think it's perfect, I have to give that disclosure.

That being said, it's damn near close to perfect.

You will fall in love with the characters like you never have before, especially the girls, Hermione and Ginny.

Some scenes are cut too short, and they leave you pining for more, because they so clearly depict what you've pictured in your head when reading the book. So for that, I will have to wait for the dvd. Even with some missing minor plotlines, this movie captures the essence of the book, and the major scenes are all done perfectly - the Quidditch World Cup will blow you away; the Yule Ball is a delight; the Triwizard tournament challenges will make you forget to breathe, especially the maze; Cedric's death will make you cry, but not as much as it does in the book; and Voldemort will scare the pants off of you.

There is a major scene at the end that was left out, but I think this can be redeemed by the opening scenes of the next film, so I'm counting on that.

"Goblet of Fire" is the turning point of the Harry Potter, and this movie captures that, even though it makes the mistake of not ending dramatically enough, and doesn't really prepare you for the war that's goint to take place in the next book. This film is darker, funnier, and "the gang" is growing up right before our eyes. However, Michael Gambon's portrayal as Dumbledore completely misses the boat, and it's okay if he stays on for "Order of the Phoenix," because you don't always like him in that book, but I'm hoping he's replaced for the adaptation of "Half Blood Prince." But you do get to hear kids swear. Bloody hell, is that brilliant.

If you ever get a chance to see a Harry Potter movie on opening night, I highly recommend it, even if you do have to babysit for 14 hours straight the next day - it's totally worth it. People cheer for previews ("Narnia"! "Superman"!), and applaud at all the mind blowing scenes in the movie.

By far the best HP movie yet, I might even add it to my top ten fave movies ever. You will cry, too, because you know what Harry has to face in the next two years of his life, and that from here on out, it's a different world.

There's so much more I could say, but for now I'll end by saying see it. It's the best movie I've seen this year.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005


I walked up my stairs to find this on my landing.

Dolls creep me out. Especially ugly dolls in unnatural sitting positions randomly placed outside my front door.

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Three things that melted my heart this week. . .

#1 Talking to my nephew, JEB's son, on Monday, and he told me to "come over," or as he said it, "come ovah." Oh, if I could I would!

#2 Babysitting a three-year-old girl on Tuesday, when she hugged me and said "I just love you."

#3 I got a message from Brett's wife from Blognostic, and she told me that their daughter looked past her mom when she picked her up from daycare yesterday, and asked if I was with her. Then when they were home she heard a car drive by, and she asked if I was coming over. Oh, Audge-podge.

Coming tomorrow: I'm seeing "Harry Potter" tonight at midnight, so my review will be posted soon!

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Where killers are forgiven and the smug will never be at ease

"You mind your own business, young man," said the Ghost. "None of your lip, see? Because I'm not taking any imprudence from you about my private affairs."

"There are no private affairs," said the other.

From the Great Divorce.

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The Bats are Abandoning the Ship

Snarky has posted his advice on avoiding social vampires, here.

I don't know where he found the time to write this pretty little piece, what between rearing dozens of little girls, sacrificing the best hours of the day to The Man and sputtering "bah humbug" on evenings and weekends.

I make no apologies for nor do I condone the content represented there. Read at your own risk!

But you better not leave me for him.

There's a joke there, but I'm too polite to make it.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

There will be movies. Oh yes, there will be movies.

Do you live in a town where they have discount theaters? Here, if you're not paying $36 for new releases, then you're paying $3 for yesterday's fare. It is a sweet thing. When I moved away for a year and a half I lamented my cheap thrills. But isn't there a little corner theater in Arlington, VA where they serve food, beer and day-old movies? What was that place called...

Tomorrow the grand opening of yet another theater will allow us to watch HOT NEW, well, okay, movies that have been out of the theater for a while, but still, for a buck? Hard to miss. Money goes to a good cause, too.

Friday is Harry Potter.

I remember meeting him. Some friends from Scotland formally introduced us. I've wished I was 13 ever since. Oh, and lived in an alternate universe where Quidditch was another game I could ignore and werewolves were dashing Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers.

December is Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, and Jim Broadbent. This doesn't have the level of frenetic fan-based energy that Lord of the Rings did, but that feels right somehow. After all, he's not a tame lion.

On December 14 King Kong comes tromping through the US thanks to Hollywood golden boy, Peter Jackson. He is using the freakishly elastic Andy Serkis, the digitally-enhanced model for Gollum in Lord of the Rings, as his King Kong. Let me say that again: the little man who played the depraved and grasping Gollum "is" King Kong. Yeah.

This movie clocks in at a whopping 3 hours, 20 minutes.

I ask you: Why submit us to an oversized gorilla for 3 hours and 20 minutes when you deprived us of the big-screen version of the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy? There were rabid fans. There was expensive marketing. There were generations of devoted readers. And they would have stayed for the extra 20 minutes.

But King Kong? Why? WHY?

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Six Women I Admire

I am 37 years old. In my daily life, however, my peers are mostly 33 and younger. This includes six women who I won't name, but who I hope will know themselves variously by their ages and by what I am going to write below. These women are 29 (A), 28 (B), 25 (C) , 25 (D), 30 (E), and 22 (F). Three are sisters by marriage, three are friends. I have not known any of these women for the vast majority of my life.

Several of them, at one time or another in the past few years have said or written things about me that express love, deference, and respect. I have been touched and somewhat surprised to find that they are learning from me, that they think I have a good heart, that I have added a quality to their life.

Tonight, during a small Bible group in which three of these women were present, I was struck by how these friends of mine, all younger by nearly 10 years or more, are so much more accomplished than I. Every day of knowing them I am reminded that I may be older, but I am not wiser.

All are Christians - each in different phases of their walk with Christ. All exhibit their Christian faith in different ways.

"A," the 29 year old, is a warrior for her faith. Strong and proud and fabulously well-read (she would deny this while quoting Evelyn Waugh or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but I know most of us don't even know who the first is, and can't pronounce the second), she is outspoken and passionate, and fearless in a way I am not and doubt I ever will be. I can only hope that "A" is at my back if I am ever called to battle.

"A" makes me want to know more about the world, both physically and intellectually. Though a great American patriot, I think she would have been quite comfortable as an ex-pat in Hemingway's bohemian Paris. Her ability to quote a vast array of literature at will is quite stunning to me, and she writes marvelously. (Because of her, I looked up "who" and "whom" to see if I was properly using "who" in an above paragraph - I'm still not sure.)

"B" is 28, but mature beyond her years. She is a tomboy of sorts, but doesn't realize how feminine she really is. I am quite certain that if her husband had not wisely snapped her up at the tender age of 21, she would be spending half her time fending off marriage proposals from men who could not believe their luck at finding a woman who could throw a football and drive a truck, but who painted her toenails and looked like a cross between Meg Ryan and Kelly Preston.

"B" has a servant's heart for God and for others. It is because of her that I am learning to do for others without always expecting reciprocation or even thanks. She unknowingly reminds me that I could stand to do a lot more giving and a lot less taking. "B" has also gently prodded me to find answers to questions about God that trouble me deeply. She probably doesn't know that I am taking her advice because it is wise and necessary.

"C" is 25 and at this tender age has already taken to heart what God asks her to do and be. She is soft-spoken and gentle, quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. If I could only use one word to describe her it would be "grace." It is by grace and grace alone that we are forgiven and with "C" you are always forgiven. She is only human and I'm sure I have said things that hurt her feelings (unwittingly I hope!) but before I ask I know I am forgiven. There is little, if any bitterness in her heart. She works hard at this I know - but that is to her credit.

"C" laughs at almost all my jokes and this makes me feel witty and clever. She asks me for advice and even takes it. This makes me feel wise. I may or may not be any of those things, but around "C" I only feel good about myself. Whether she works at this or not, I don't know - but either way it is genuine and an art unto itself. In a world where it is so easy and even revered to tear down and shred - people, institutions, ideals, religion, morality, innocence - this is no small accomplishment and I aspire to it.

"D" is also 25 and much wiser than she realizes. I am still in the infancy of my friendship with this woman. She recently wed a long-time friend of mine who is also one of my husband's best friends. We have quite different backgrounds and upbringings and though I liked her immediately the day I met her, I wasn't quite sure how we'd connect. But every time I talk to her now I am struck by how emotionally mature and grounded she. I was not nearly so at her age. She is quick witted and sharp, and easily able to assess the nuances in the personalities around her. Tonight, during our Bible study I saw a woman who is poised and quite grounded in her faith - a natural leader, unafraid to be a Christian in a secular world, but wise in her approach.

"E" is 30, and one of the "peas" in my pod. Our husbands knew each other first and were nervous about how we would get along before we were introduced. It was they who dubbed us "peas" about 30 minutes after we met. "E" may or may not know of my jealous heart - the one that secretly envies her size 6 waist and model-esque figure - but if she does she forgives me for it. She seems to believe me to be as pure of heart and mind as she is, but it isn't so. With her as an example though, one day maybe . . . Oh, she has her quirks, but so do I and she is much more accommodating of mine than I am of hers I am ashamed to say.

Not long after we had met, "E" had committed to memory what she knew of my food preferences and the odd allergy or two. (I am still trying to remember, after 7 years, that one of my sisters-in-law has a profound dislike of spaghetti with red sauce.) "E" is feisty and competitive, but I have never known her to be mean-spirited or hold a grudge. She is independent as hell - a quality which I am alternately impressed with and confounded by. I can only hope to one day combine confidence with unconditional love as effortlessly as this woman has.

Last, but not least, there is "F," the youngest of the bunch, 15 years my junior and yet, possibly the mostly closely aligned with me morally, philosophically, spiritually, and intellectually. When I first knew her, it was hard for me to think of her as much more than someone who was still in high school. But in the past four years - three of them spent together in Texas - I have come to know a woman who I can confide in unconditionally, who shares my passions for politics, my rage at certain injustices, my musical quirks, and my vast love of my son. As the first aunt our son knew and his babysitter for the first 10 months of his life, she, more than anyone else except my husband, can relate to the ups and downs I felt during the first months of my son's life. We did not realize until we left Texas and took him with us, that perhaps we were tearing away a mother-sized piece of her heart. The first time I saw the hot, unyielding tears streaming down her face, I knew that she knew a mother's love and I was ashamed that I hadn't realized it until then.

At 22, "F" can handle a baby with the collective ease of centuries of mothers and grandmothers and I don't believe she's ever read a book on the subject. She is wise to these sometimes frustrating, often confounding bundles of joy far, far beyond her years. I am hoping that with a second baby, I will be a more relaxed mama - thanks in part to the wisdom of this "baby girl." And I am hoping that some day we will not be so far apart geographically - but if we are, I know that we will be able to rant together about the latest leftist infidelity like we had just seen each other yesterday.

Thank you, Jesus, for these women that I didn't even know I needed in my life until they were there.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Modest Task

At First Things: A brief but informative discussion of the distinction between the duties of the legislator and the judge, especially where abortion is concerned. A distinction I've struggled with--not in definition but in practice (not my practice of course, though you're welcome to call me Your Honor).

Read it here if you're interested (scroll down to fourth entry).

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My Name is Joseph or Joe!

Uttered by Tom Hanks in one of the 80's most overlooked romantic comedies, Joe vs the Volcano.

My siblings and I can recite most of the dialogue from this movie (sheltered childhood), which was first happily discovered by my brother. I was barely a teenager when he came home from the movie, spread out his arms and said, "Thank you for my life. I forgot how...big."

White Noise has just exploded the cherished belief that I knew every notable actor in Joe.

Apparently, kids, Nathan Lane plays Ben, the Waponi Advance Man. "I'm going now."

To boot Carol Kane is Joe's weirdo hairdresser.

I am so ashamed.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

When Love Comes to Call

I'm sure I was happy when she was born because what four year-old isn't captivated by the idea of a younger sister?

At 13 it wasn't so interesting.

She refused to do my bidding. Who wouldn't want to sing and dance and pull imaginary rabbits out of hats in front of the family? She had a DUTY.

At 23 she seemed unaffected by our rocky adolescent relationship. In place of the shy, cherubim-faced little sister whose personality was so maddeningly contrary to my own, a compassionate, intelligent cherubim-faced woman suddenly appeared to nod her head knowingly, argue persuasively and love me unconditionally.

Once I thought I couldn't live with her. It is hard to imagine my life without her.

Happy Birthday, Ms., er, Mrs. Lane. JTTW.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oh, the Cleverness of You

I like prowling around this micro universe. Reading strangers' strange rants and friends' friendly prattle. Bloggers are at once clever and boring as h-e-double-hockeysticks.

Really? You posted on that?

This is what I think every day. It is what you think when you read that I called a home where a Kip Dynamite impersonator lives and bothered to write about it.

Whoever you are.

We are all of us engaged in different vocations, attracted by different causes, incensed by myriad injustices.


You're very clever, you. Much cleverer than I. Evidence can be found at Amilia Rait Ibid who is one of the most inventive writers in the blogosphere. Yes, I said that. Test my theory. Do it! Stale, temporary, vacant--these are most blogs. Or politically motivated which can be much worse.

Or at Lone Prairie, a blog I never miss reading. That says something for my excellent taste. Then again, its author is a writer and an artist. And a keen observer. So her lengthy posts are worth reading.

Or here, where some very curious men occasionally address each other as poopy pants.

Then there's Glib and Superficial, and with a name like that, why say more? Oozing cleverness.


Oh the cleverness of you. It is hard to compete with the cleverness of these and dozens (but not more) of other writers, among them my sister (she will sneak up on you). If I didn't mention you, does it mean you're not clever? No, but would it matter if I thought so?

Compete. Is it a competition, you ask? No. Never. Silly.

But I will write a better, more engaging post than you. If it kills me I will.


Will I a nudge a jot or tittle closer to Evelyn Waugh?

His mail had been prodigious. Some correspondents were sceptical, other derisive; one lady wrote to ask whether she read him aright in thinking he condemned the practice of baiting these rare and beautiful birds with terriers and deliberately destroying their earthy homes; how could this be tolerated in the so-called twentieth century? A major in Wales challenged him categorically to produce a single authenticated case of a great crested grebe attacking young rabbits.

Or top the utter enclosure I experience with Willa Cather?

Instantly that stupid face became intense, prophetic, full of awful meaning. With her finger she pointed them away—away!—two quick thrusts into the air. Then, with a look of horror beyond anything language could convey, she threw back her head and drew the edge of her palm quickly across her distended throat—and vanished. The doorway was empty; the two priests stood starting at it, speechless. That flash of electric passion had been so swift, the warning it communicated so vivid and definite, that they were struck dumb.

Or expose human nature like the incomparable observer Jane Austen?

You have given us an amusing sketch, and human nature cannot say it was no so. We must all feel at times the difficulty of fixing our thoughts as we could wish; but if you are supposing it a frequent thing, that is to say, a weakness grown into a habit from neglect, what could be expected from the private devotions of such persons? Do you think minds which are suffered, which are indulged in wanderings in a chapel, would be more collected in a closet?

You are very clever. Worth reading for the most part.

But why are you still here?

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Monday, November 07, 2005

"...don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day."

Just called a potential renter and I swear Napoleon's brother Kip Dynamite answered the phone.

I kept waiting for him to break into song.

"Why do you love me? Why do you need me? Always and forever... We met in a chatroom, now our love can fully bloom... Sure the world wide web is great, but you, you make my salivate... I love technology, but not as much as you, you see... But I STILL love technology... Always and forever. Our love is like a flock of doves, flying up to heaven above... always and forever, always and forever..."

To top it off he said that the person I was calling for was in the shower.


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Saturday, November 05, 2005

"Pirates? As in aargh!?"

Speeding off "into the high seas in a trail of gunfire" sounds romantic.

I wonder what it was like for these European tourists.

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In Sum:

Not every sprinkler man named Gary is the Gary the sprinkler man you're looking for. Even if they're at the same place at the same time.

Would it kill you to ask how I am doing?

Insomnia is something I've avoided all my life until this week. Then I met Tylenol PM.

Feeling taken advantage of is hard. Being lied to is worse. Some people take advantage and lie. I suppose I cannot prevent the latter, but I think I am done with the former.

How can I want to comfort an animated chicken? Chicken Little had this effect on me. I recommend it.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Quantum Media

Almost from the point where scriveners began watching and documenting events, the media has liked to view itself as a neutral observer. Stuff happens, and the fine chap with the quill pen shows up to scrawl down the events as they happened. And this is pretty much where the problems start, because, as any number of psychological experiments demonstrate, perception is solipsistic and entirely dependent upon the observations of observers who have their own prejudices and preconceived notions.

Now, this is not necessarily a problem when you are dealing with news like train wrecks or things blowing up. The reporter simply notes that a train wrecked, a thing exploded, and that the rescue workers are clearing the debris. On the other hand, problems immediately begin when the reporter begins to analyze the things he has seen. He has to make some guesses, ask some (what he hopes are) shrewd questions, and make some assumptions. If something explodes, either something stopped working correctly or some nameless someone decided that whatever exploded necessarily needed to explode, and thereafter designed a way to make that eventuate. He may very well be right, but if he is wrong, he is establishing a false meme that may or may not be corrected in the future.

Nowadays, the reporter gets the details on audio- or videotape for the voyeuristic satisfaction of everyone who wasn’t actually there to witness the train wreck. But keep in mind that members of the media do not take sides, we are told; it is their job to merely record events as best they can, and then try to provide perspective to help us understand what has happened. Avatars of the American media have bent over backwards to avoid the appearance of being shills for the US Government, seeking to be, instead, the calm, impartial providers of Truth.

The problem with this perspective is that it is hogwash. To look this particular hog squarely in the eyes, it might be helpful to examine the problem by means of quantum theory, a concept formally and more appropriately applied to physics.

Quantum theory involves, among a plethora of other things, the observation of elemental particles, quarks with interesting and flavorful names. Heisenberg noted that when one chooses to focus upon the momentum of elemental particles, one becomes correspondingly less capable of determining where they are at a particular moment in time. The converse is true as well, as pinpointing location makes one correspondingly less capable of observing their momentum. Of course, one can choose to try and look at both factors simultaneously, but then both measurements are indistinct and nebulous. This entire problem is obviously paradoxical and serves to make one’s head numb, but the key point to consider is this: the act of observation changes that which is being observed. The correlations are obvious.

Translate that curious observation to the media and how it operates. When a story is written about someone, the perception of that person by those people who previously knew the subject and also read the story will change, however slightly, due to that story. Further, during the interview, the person being observed will likely act differently than is normally his wont as he knows he is under scrutiny.

Bluntly, the media very often dispenses “Truth” when what they are selling is opinion or worse. As Ralph Peters pointed out acidly in the 10/8/03 issue of the New York Post:

The media are not detached from all responsibility for the events they cover. A journalist will tell you - sometimes sincerely - that he or she only reports the facts. That's never quite the truth. And it's often an outright lie.

When the media broadcasts a story, very often they become part of it, even when they work very hard not to be. And they often do not work particularly hard at it.

Agendas drive much of what passes for news these days. Reporters, editors and publishers have an angle in mind or a particular outcome they are interested in perpetuating, and often the reality they confront is not entirely reflected within the stories they report. The consequences are obvious; controlling the presses means controlling the press, and those who control the press control what gets to be the news. And the rest of us either live with that or don’t. If we don’t, our choices are fairly circumscribed; like Rupert Murdoch, we pretty much have to buy our own presses. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily an option that most of us have; in fact, it’s worse than that. We not only do not have the option of buying our own press (or microphone, television or radio network or what have you), but we are also stuck watching MASH reruns.

Unless you generally get your news on the ‘net…which is also ideologically driven, but at least bloggers are honest about their biases.

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Pun intended.

"They left me there, going through all that stress..."

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I heard someone say something the other night that reminded me of an important fact: This is a crappy world.

Yesterday I went home early from work with a blinding headache and sprawled out on the couch, leaving the comforting din of the TV on in the background. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, Oprah was featuring the recent surge in sex trafficking of children worldwide. It was horrific, to say the least.

Ricky Martin is apparently a big advocate for awareness of this tragedy. At the end of the show, Oprah did an unrelated segment on Martin's charitable foundation and its effort to build 600 homes for tsunami victims in Thailand. They filmed the first inhabitant to get her keys, a woman who lost her only son in the tragedy. She was obviously overwhelmed by how nice the home was. She said, "God is saving me ... I can feel Him in my heart."

I cried. We humans spend a LOT of energy complaining and wishing. "I wish I had enough money for that" or "how come MY husband doesn't do that?" The truth of it is, we could be infinitely worse off. This world is not the way God created it to be; it's fallen; it's crappy. The fact is we should be thankful for all the things that DON'T happen to us. Thank you, Lord, that I didn't have to live in a hut for seven months, or that my children aren't lured into sexual slavery.

There is, however, a difference between complaining and feeling emotion over non-life-or-death issues. As I groaned when my headache worsened, and grew frustrated over all the things I had to do around the apartment before company came the next night, my husband reminded me of what I'd just recited to him about complaining. Ah, but you see, this wasn't complaining. I was in pain and feeling stress. And that's OK. It doesn't make us any less grateful for our lives to embrace these feelings. But the moment we take that frustration and morph it into what we OUGHT to be entitled to, that's the sin.

This is a crappy world. We have a loving God. Finding the balance in our attitude is the tricky part.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In Case I Forget You, I Love You

The other night my sister-in-law brought up a story of a couple her friend Andrea knows who were given the ultimate test: the wife was in a car accident that robbed her of her memory of her husband. Faculties were still intact but she could not remember him.

Her husband didn't leave her but stayed to woo her all over again. She fell in love with him for the second time and they got "married."

This story moves me deeply. Not only does it speak to the power of prevailing love in a human being, as well as impress on me the strength of affection and attraction between a man and woman, it raises questions about the nature and value of our memory.

What if one of us forgot the other? Would the past still matter? Is there an insurance policy for the millions of deposits we make into the accounts of other's lives?

I want to look my loved ones in the eye, shake them and yell: I'll never forget! It's not possible! You mean too much to me!

But it is possible. My sister's story is true. And worst case scenario aside, our experience confirms that the effects of aging, disease, or just plain passing time lend themselves to forgetfulness.

Can you pinpoint a special moment you shared with someone you were certain would have a permenant place in your life--someone you would be hard-pressed to call a friend today?

I have endeavored to lock certain moments in my mind by casting a sweeping glance over a particularly breathtaking sunset or by fixing my gaze on someone's face swearing to remember every nuance. To no avail.

Occasionally panic grips me, like it did when I was a little girl and my parents would leave the house for a trip as quick as one to the grocery store and I would run out to give them another hug, and I'm afraid I'm never going to see someone I love again. What if they died without my having told them lately that I love them? Or worse still, never knowing for sure. What if the last thing that happened between us was a quarrel? It would be a hard thing to get over, and unimaginable if I remembered it and you forgot...because you forgot everything...and I never had the comfort of your forgiveness.

So what of it? Live a life in fear that our loved one's memories will evaporate? I don't think so.


If I haven't told you in a while, or if you were beginning to doubt it: I love you.

It may happen that I forget that I love you. Or you forget me. Sacrifies made, hard-won victories, crooked smiles, your infectious laugh, my red-hot anger, may slip into the nether regions of a clouded mind. If this happens, I hope you will remember this moment when I tell you that who you are and what our interaction was is meaningful even if I cannot recall it.

Don't I know you? No? Well this post isn't for you, is it? But I'm sure someone somewhere means to tell you.


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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So, what do you do for fun?

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this.

I must not look like a fun person.

What business is it of yours what I do for fun? What if fun is buying A Confederacy of Dunces at a thrift store and settling down with a glass of wine to read it? (Why is wine so expensive?)

What if fun is babysitting my nephew? What if fun is staying late at work to enjoy late-night conversation with my otherwise-busy bosses?

So, what do you do for fun?

Variations on this refrain include Don't you ever get out? Don't you have a life?


I ask you: Is this the look of a person who doesn't have any fun? When is the last time you wore a Zebra print shirt?

Don't you think reading to this perfect child would be fun?

Reading to your nephew in a Zebra print shirt. Top that.

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