Archive for April, 2008

Two Gifts

April 30, 2008

One moment yesterday, and then one moment today after which you could just call my life complete and be done with it. How does one guy get two of these moments in a row?

I hope this doesn’t end up sounding like bragging. Though I wouldn’t put it past me, bragging is bad form. Plus, these stories are in no way indicative of my life in general – just a couple of aberrant events that show what I wish typified my life in general.

Yesterday, I did a CASA home visit. Three of the five kids were home with their momma, and we had a really nice visit. I got tons of attention from the baby, and eventually the kindergartener came to ask me how to spell my name. It took us a while, but he used a red pencil and wrote every letter down before heading off to the table with his paper. When it came time to leave, he ran over and tore off the part of the paper with my name printed in red and his name written in blue for me to take and keep. I told him it was instantly one of my greatest treasures. I told him this because it was instantly one of my greatest treasures. I’d sooner give up my car than that scrap of paper.

Today, I visited the nursing home. I found my friend, Mr. Flowers, sitting in the shade in a corner of the parking lot. Mr. Flowers is an old black man in a wheelchair, and if the world were a perfect place, it would be chock full of Mr. Flowerses. As always, he asked me for a “word of prayer,” and I responded with a real good one. He knew I came to see my buddy, Hezekiah, so after my prayer he gave me a cigarette to give to Hezekiah. “Tell him it’s a present from me.” Great, now I’m contributing to the delinquency of an invalid. Anyway, I spent some time with Hezekiah, delivered his new cigarette, and listened to his blaring radio with him. Eventually, I walked back outside to leave. On the way to my car I gave Mr. Flowers a wave and he motioned me over like he had really been waiting for me. When I went to see what he wanted, he excitedly said that he wanted to share a word of prayer with me! So, for the first time, when we held hands and closed our eyes I waited for him to pray. He said, “Amen God. Lord Jesus.” Um. That was it. And when I looked up he had that glimmer in his eye like he had just given me a most precious gift. And he had.

Life is good. And sometimes life really sucks. For that little boy yesterday and that old man today, life pretty much sucks all the time. And yet, over the past two days, they both gave me a gift – their two mites if you will.

I’m not sure about theirs, but those gifts made my life really good.

I Hate Politics, Part 753

April 29, 2008

Sorry about the doldrums, Al.  It’s just that reading stuff like this and this makes me ever so tired and inspires the kind of silence that can only be a product of living in a place and time where everything is turned upside down, the things that are truly important hardly mentioned and the trivial and shallow inundating us 24/7.  I just don’t have the energy for this.  But politics is the only thing that we all have in common (religion as a topic works for everyone but me, sorry), so … where does that leave us?

Bueller

April 22, 2008

Ben Stein wrote speeches for Richard Nixon. In 1976, Time Magazine speculated that he was “Deep Throat.”

Ben Stein is an actor whose most famous role came in his very first film. In 1986, he played the boring economics teacher who uttered the famous words, “Bueller? Bueller?”

Ben Stein is a lawyer. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1970 and taught at several law schools, including a lengthy tenure at Pepperdine’s School of Law from 1990-1997.

Ben Stein is a television star. He stepped down (or up?) from teaching law at Pepperdine to star in Comedy Central’s “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” the gig that launched the career of Jimmy Kimmel.

He did bunches and bunches of other interesting stuff, too (which you can read about HERE).

But now, Ben Stein is star and co-writer of a brand new controversial documentary titled, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which is airing at a theater near you. The reason behind the movie, as explained on its official website is, “…that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired – for the ‘crime’ of merely believing that there might be evidence of ‘design’ in nature, and that perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance.”

I haven’t seen the movie yet. A friend told me it was great. Wikipedia told me it has lots of holes.

I am about to go to a conservative law school nestled in one of the most liberal small towns in America. I’m really looking forward to all that.

I am not a conservative. On Facebook, I claim to be liberalish. I really have many conservative values, but I’m not much on having to choose sides. And since I really hate that Jesus-followers are reputedly on one side looking down at the other side, I have this huge tendency always to identify with the other side.

This is why I probably won’t like “Expelled” that much. Seems to me to be the same old game: Christians masquerading as victims – making Christians want to fight, and ticking everyone else off.

The movie might be good, but I just can’t see who wins.

The Next Capital of Nebraska

April 21, 2008

Mostly passing along a link to an article sent to me by my new friend, Jamie.

I am not a fan of the “Obama-is-eloquent-but-inexperienced” argument. On a private blog, I compared him to Abraham Lincoln a couple of times, not because I had given any thought to it, but simply to debunk the aforementioned line of argument.

This LINK takes it several steps further, and since Obama discussions seem to strike a nerve on the Hippos, I thought it might shake us out of our doldrums.

Not Falling Into Line

April 17, 2008

Hey boys and girls, read Garrison Keillor’s article on “supporting the troops” from a couple weeks ago HERE. Won’t take long.

Daddy, where does carbon come from?

April 16, 2008

Some nifty maps of the US, showing where the most CO2 is being emitted.

Who else is gonna bring you a Broken Arrow?

April 14, 2008

Once upon a time, I wrote a piece of software for a phone company that one could enter a customer’s phone number in and get a response telling you whether that customer could get DSL service. The phone company used this software in their call center. The phone company also had retail stores in various places, and wanted those stores to use the software, as well. So I worked with a very nice woman at the company’s HQ to set up user accounts for the stores.

She decided that the passwords for these accounts would all take the form of an abbreviation of the store’s city, followed by the word “retail” — all lowercase. She sent me a spreadsheet of the passwords. She was considerably embarrassed when I suggested in response that it might not be in her best interest for the employees in Broken Arrow, OK, to be walking around with “baretail” on their minds all day. She just hadn’t thought that one through.

Companies often don’t think through their choices of website URLs, either. One that I visit occasionally is a knowledge-sharing site for programmers: Experts Exchange. Their URL is “www.expertsexchange.com”.

Here are some more.

(h/t Yglesias)

Now I’m the Bitter One

April 14, 2008

Well, I thought we had almost made it to the finish line, but now there’s a new Obama controversy that the press has really globbed onto.  What I can’t understand is why his response hasn’t been to clarify what he really meant, which is not that people cling to guns and religion themselves as a reaction to hard economic times, but that they cling to them as political issues, inflating their relative importance in elections, while ignoring the economic issues that are the true root of their negative feelings.  You know, what’s the matter with Kansas and all that.  Perhaps it was decided that telling people of their own false consciousness is somehow “patronizing,” to use Hillary’s term.  But it seems to me that letting people believe that the remark had the meaning that most are now ascribing to it is worse.

Walk of Hope

April 12, 2008

Hurricane Katrina toppled the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge like dominoes. Many of my church family were hanging out at our church building a half mile away, but we had no idea. The bridge destruction turned out to be one of the most dramatic scenes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The rebuilding of the bridge became quite the controversy. How tall, how wide, and how it would look kept all sorts of people up in arms, but eventually the final decisions were made and work commenced. Several months ago now, the bridge opened with one lane going each direction amid much fanfare. With MUCH less fanfare this past week, all six lanes are now open.

One of the neat aspects of the bridge is the walking/jogging/bicycling path. It is a couple of miles across the bridge, and this is a super-humongous bridge for us here in South Mississippi, so fitness enthusiasts have come out en force. In addition, there are three little insets in the path with benches facing the water for people to sit and drink in the beauty of nature – if you’re willing to hike to them that is.

Our CASA group decided to do a Walk of Hope today to bring awareness to our cause – speaking up for children of abuse and neglect. When Jody and I woke up at 5:30am, some of our group had already been working in the rain and darkness for an hour setting up for the event. When we arrived on the Biloxi side of the bridge at 7am, it was cold, rainy, and well, just not a pretty day to be planning a walk.

But we kept setting up anyway. This was, after all, a Walk of HOPE. We kept hoping it would work out.

Ricky the Magician showed up to entertain the crowd. Stella the Singer arrived to serenade us with music. And while we were huddling under the tent (dummy me wore shorts and a t-shirt on this cold, windy morning), the sky began to clear, and the rain stopped. And people arrived in spite of the weather.

The Army Color Guard came to present the colors. The boys group from Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church arrived in full force. Parents pushing kids in strollers came to walk alongside grandmothers (who walked faster than anyone – don’t ever get in a walking race with a grandmother).

We didn’t have the four or five hundred we expected, but we probably had close to two-hundred people overall. And we walked. For hope.

We walked the two mile span and descended on the Ocean Springs side where snacks and drinks and a rally awaited us. A children’s choir sang, our state CASA director spoke, and our youth court judge shared her thoughts with us.

It was a very good morning after all.

So the next time you wake up in the middle of a storm when you were supposed to be walking for hope, get your lazy butt out of bed anyway. You can’t rain out a hope parade.

And They Say Women Belong in the Kitchen …

April 11, 2008

I tried to think of some way to tie this post in to religion, politics, current events, or something depressing, but I really just want to show off my cute baby.  This is a copycat post from Casey’s blog, Birdwatching.  Bird loves the kitchen more than any room in the house, and playing with its many attractions is better to him than all the toys he got for Christmas from his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

For example, the dishwasher:

The refrigerator:

And the pantry:

Don’t worry, we’re not letting him eat the peanuts or drink the beer, though I know it may look that way sometimes:

He just really loves glass bottles, honest! 

Oprah usually does a light-hearted topic on Fridays (except last Friday, which was about puppy mills, v. depressing), so I figured it would be okay to do one here.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!