Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

"He became man, that we might become gods." Something very like that is one of the cornerstone statements of St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation of the Word of God. Athanasius, a 4th century bishop of Alexandria and one of the chief defenders of the Trinity for many years, wrote this work as a very young man, possibly a teenager. In it he defends the doctrine of the Incarnation, showing how humanity had fallen from God's design and how the Word of God Himself had taken on human flesh to redeem us and restore us to the glory of God's plans for us. He became one of us that we might become one with Him in grace if not in essence. Through His grace the door is opened whereby we can become so much greater than we are now and enjoy His presence for eternity. Athanasius' views on the incarnation are included in the words of the Nicene Creed:
"I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, begotten of His Father from before all worlds. God of God. Light of Light. True God of True God. Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, and by whom all things are made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit by the Virgin Mary and was made man."

"What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste! Haste to bring him laud
The babe the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear. For sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nail, spear shall pierce him through,
The cross be born for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe the son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh.
Come peasant, king to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings.
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise! Raise the song on high!
The Virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! Joy! For Christ is born,
The babe the son of Mary."

Friday, December 14, 2007


53% Geek

Looking for payday loans?

It was a close thing though. For a while I didn't think I was going to make it over 30%, still it's a bit of a faux score.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Golden Compass

Monday night I went to see this movie with several friends. It looked for a while like we'd have the theatre to ourselves but eventually we were joined by folks we didn't know. Before the movie started we saw the preview for Prince Caspian. It looks very interesting and even less like the book than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We also saw a preview for Inkheart, which looks interesting. Anyway, back to The Golden Compass. It's hard to know how to evaluate it. It's got Iorek Byrnison (a panserbjorn and a great literary creation fairly well realized). I think most of the cast worked out pretty well. I was impressed with Dakota Blue Richards' Lyra. I don't remember being too impressed with the music, except for some of the stuff after the dreadful (yet "lyracal") credits song. There was definitely a "Gee whiz! Look at that!" feel to a lot of the film in that it felt eager for you to impressed with difference between Lyra's world and ours. The experience of discovery felt less real to me than in LWW, but not offensively so. As an adaptation I was neither particularly pleased or disappointed. Some stuff they got right, some stuff they didn't. They altered the sequence of events significantly and a little disorientingly in the last third of the story. One thing I missed was that the complexity of some characters, especially the Master of Jordan College, was lost by the typical simplification that adaptations go through. Thematically the conflict in the movie is between The Magisterium that is willing to go to great lengths of evil to ensure that people will be docile, pliant, and obedient to its commands and between "freethinkers" who wish to blaze their own paths according to their own best lights. More specifically it is the quest of the girl Lyra to rescue her friend, kidnapped and taken to the north by the Magisterium for apparently nefarious purposes. Religiously there's not a whole lot going on in the movie. There are few to no direct references to God or the church--unless you happen to know that the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church is the Magisterium. On the whole it's as implicitly materialist as any other contemporary film exhorting you to do what seems right ("In those days there was no king in the land....) regardless of what societal authorities may be telling you. As a book it's a good story well told with interesting characters and dramatic action. As a movie it is those things as well though less so.

For an interesting interview with the author of the book, look here. I came across the interview as a link in a post by one of my favorite bloggers, the internet monk.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sledding and Other Weekend Activities

Plans for a viewing of The Golden Compass were scuttled on Friday by an invitation to go sledding. So around 8 p.m., Steve and I bundled up and headed out to Vernon Hills' Century Park Sledding Hill. There we met up with Crap Chip, Sarah, Anthony, and Leslie, and were later joined by Dianne, Catherine, and a bunch of Crap Chip's college friends. The hill, homemade like Carmichael's in the Central Ohio Creation Story, overlooks Bear Lake. In fact, brave souls who are not burdened by scruples about safety or obeying park district signs can increase the excitement of their sledding by going down the very steep backside of the hill toward the lake. The view from the top isn't too bad at night. It was approximately 7-8 years since the last time I went sledding, but it's pretty easy. C squared had brought several sleds of various shapes. We had a good time and even attempted a couple of 8 man chains that could have been more successful but were fun nevertheless. A good time appeared to have been had by all. I confirmed my memory from Olaf that the face can be an effective brake for a sled but not a pleasant one. Still no one was damaged in any lasting way. There was talk of gaming or going out after the adventure but Steve and I headed home where we watched A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Very fun movie.

Saturday was a day for staying in. I puttered happily and did some laundery. I also entered the last of my books onto Librarything.com. If anyone wants to know what books I've got they can look here. My library's still got some work that needs to be done, but all the books are there now. Much later Steve and I joined Sarah, Aaron, and Andrew for a game of Killer Bunnies. That was fun, especially as I had a good chance to win at the end. Unfortunately Steve pulled it. He must be stopped.

Sunday was full of its usual churchy goodness. Eric is giving us a two week series on Haggai to lead into Christmas. Not your usual advent choice but a good thing for our church in the place we're in. Eric focused mainly on chapter one. He discussed the dangers of trying to sit to the side during a time of adversity: anger, disillusionment, discouragement, and apathy. He also looked at the hidden dangers of making excuses: a loss of passion for God and pouring ourselves into worldly things instead of working for the Kingdom. He also talked about how God can use adversity to strengthen his people by helping them to right their attitudes and behavior, reset their priorities and refresh their worship as the seek more of God. Finally he looked at God's promise of restoration. Despite their doubts and fears the people of Haggai's day were the right people at the right time in the right place for the right reason; to continue God's work. What are we? It was a good sermon. This evening we had a church family Christmas party/potluck. There was much good food and fellowship. One of the church families led us in Christmas carols and the kids sang a fun happy birthday to Jesus. There was also cake and there advent wreath kits for each household. We worked together with the other folks at our table to make a wreath for our LIFEgroup. It was a good time and was capped be being able to come home and watch the Colts wallop the Ravens which in turn almost made up for Kentucky's bad day yesterday.

Verse of the day:

"Thus says the Lord of Hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord." Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?" Haggai 1:2-4 (ESV)

Random quotes:

"Watch out for E. He's quiet but mean." SB early in the game of Killer Bunnies and long before I killed her bunnies with the Ebola Virus.

"His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood." "On Christ the Solid Rock"

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My CD Player

As I put on Sibelius' Kullervo Suite to listen to while I did some random computer puttering and talked on the phone with Jenn I was reminded how much I appreciate my CD player. I purchased it used from my friend Matt in the summer of 1996. I had a Best Buy gift certificate I had gotten while temping at Toyota for the summer and had decided it was finally time to leave the world of audio cassettes behind for the world of CDs. Technologically I am clearly a late adopter, signified by my abhorrence of cell phones. Matt and I went over to Lexington and I bought my first CDs, the soundtrack to the movie First Knight and a disc of Russian choral music. I needed something to play them on so I bought the player. I don't know how old it is, and I don't know the typical life expectancy of a CD player. All I know is that when the guards pitched in and bought CD players for all the security stations at Hewitt, those players were fried by radio waves within a year but my player took those waves and soldiered on. I bought a player four years ago or so for my office because I don't like using the player in my computer. That player is dying on me, but my old player soldiers on. I like my CD player.

Genesis in the Snow

We had our first real snowfall on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, a few inches, certainly enough to make driving a pain. My 9:45 a.m. drive into work took almost as long as it would have taken at 9 on a normal day. So by my Wednesday morning it wasn't too bad though the night before was definitely unpleasant. I think the governor must have snuck a bill through the legislature requiring at least one heavy snowfall during the first week of December for the Chicago area. Anyway because of snow we had a very light turnout for our LIFEgroup Tuesday night. It ended up being an impromptu guys night. There was talk of Risk and Settlers but we were good and actually studied the Bible, worshipped, and prayed before Jason and Steve shot off a quick game of chess while Troy, Aaron, and I looked on.

We studied Genesis chapter 22, the story of God testing Abraham by requiring that he sacrifice his son Isaac. It's a passage that raised a lot of interesting issues but the one that really stuck out to me this time around has to do with Abraham's crisis and God's provision. I prepared by reading the passage and then reading John Walton's comments on it in his commentary on Genesis in the NIV Application Commentary Series. I really like the NIVAC series. Walton pointed out that at the end of chapter 21 Abraham's story seems to have come to a clean resolution. He has followed God away from his father and home and gone into a strange land with the promise of land, being a blessing, and a line of ancestors. Abraham has wandered around Canaan and Egypt seeking a place and has now settled down in Beersheba. He seems to have resolved any difficulties with his neighbours, and after much anxiety he and Sarah at last have a son of their own through whom God's promises about his line can be fulfilled. Abraham joins with his neighbours and worships God as the Everlasting, or Enduring God. God has been faithful to his covenants with Abraham and will continue that faithfulness.

At the start of chapter 22 that is all thrown into doubt as God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son, the son through whom his descendants would be reckoned by God's own words. Abraham accepts God's demand and heads away to the mountain of Moriah (possibly the site of Jerusalem) to do the deed. On the way, Isaac asks his father where is the lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham responds, "God himself will provide the lamb." This is what happens just as Abraham is about to plunge the knife into his beloved son. The Angel of the Lord commands him to stop and Abraham sees a lamb caught in a nearby thicket which becomes the sacrifice. "So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."

God took Abraham from a place of comfort and rest and led him to a place of crisis and then provided a way through the crisis. In the same way God led the people of Israel to the Red Sea, Jesus led the disciples onto a boat in a storm, God led Jesus to the cross and death. My church is going through a hard time right now. Three of our elders and four of our pastors (including the only senior pastor our church as ever had) have resigned since the start of September. A lot of plans and dreams have to be changed but the Faithful, Enduring God is the God who has led us to a time of crisis and He is the God who provides.

Verse of the day:

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back." Hebrews 11:17-19 (ESV)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lord of the Rings Quote and Life Type Stuff

Sometime last July or so I came across this quote while listening to The Return of the King in the car. I thought, "I should blog about that." So there I was listening to The Return of the King in the car earlier this week when I heard it and thought it again. This time it gets out. The setting is the Houses of Healing in Gondor after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The Hobbit Merry Brandybuck was injured in the battle and overcome with "the black breath," an evil despair. He was found and brought in where he has been healed by the returning King, Aragorn. Now he is speaking with his friend, Pippin, about the King and others.

"Pippin remained behind. 'Was there ever anyone like him?' he said. 'Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related. ... And then let's be easy for a bit. Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights.'
'No,' said Merry. 'I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not. I am glad I know about them, a little. But I don't know why I am talking like this. Where is that leaf? And get my pipe out of my pack if it isn't broken.'"

I'm moved by Merry's gladness that he's come to recognize things deeper and higher than the life he had known before the adventure of the ring, but even more by his words. "It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots." They resonate so strongly with the idea that God first reveals himself to us in small things like family, friendship, and home, before calling us on to the deeper and higher loves. A recurring theme in the novels of Charles Williams is how the ways that we have lived our lives prepare us for the meeting with God leading either to acceptance or rejection. Those who have become used to love and service through their prior relationships and opportunities are able to respond and accept what is being offered. Those who have rejected love and service in their families and friendships reject it as well from God. "He who is faithful in little will be entrusted with much." If we don't love and serve our neighbors whom we can see, how can we think we will love God whom we cannot?

In other news, I had a fun trip home for Thanksgiving. I really enjoyed my time with Mom and Dad, Ann and Daniel, Jenn and Jamie, Aunt Margaret and the family down south, and others. It was a good time and a good trip, even if I didn't get to see the Chattanoogies or if it did take 10 hrs to get home. Work, youth group and LIFEgroup are all going well and are enjoyable.

Here is a link to an interesting article on the Christianity Today website on the absence of God.

Verse of the day:

"Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple." Psalm 65:4 (ESV)
Psalm 65 was my psalm for today. I've read it before, many times, even once, at least, this year. Somehow I never noticed it before. It sings of God's atonement, His greatness, His grace, how He is the hope of the nations, and is the creator and the joy of creation. It's a beautiful Psalm.

Gratuitous quote

"A lot of people cut their theology around a God who gives but not a God who takes away." Robert Yarbrough

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cabbage Stabbing

Last weekend Steve invited the guys from our LIFEgroup and a few other friends up to his family's cottage in Wisconsin for a guys' weekend. Some of us went up Friday night, while others came and joined us on Saturday. We spent time watching movies, playing video games on Anthony's PS3, playing Risk, assaulting vegetables with various edged and projectile weapons, and in worship and prayer. Oddly enough, though the weekend was originally envisioned as an opportunity to play some of the longer strategy games that we like, especially Samurai Swords, we only got in the one Risk game. I was ignominiously defeated in the first round by Jason and then only managed to stick around for a couple more before Dave wiped me off the board. He won eventually, so I'm glad to have contributed even if I was definitely rooting for Aaron or Steve to get the win. On Saturday afternoon made war on a group of inoffensive potatoes, cabbages and a pumpkin that we had procured for the purpose earlier in the day. We used the pumpkin initially as a target for Steve's bow, John's throwing knives, and Anthony's wrist rocket (slingshot) and paint balls. Our pumpkin held up well, helped in no small part by our lack of accuracy and was rewarded for its faithful service by being spiked by my battle axe and slashed and run through with various blades. The potatoes and cabbages fared similarly mostly being slashed out of the air after being tossed up by a friend. Dave got some fine shots including one of Anthony's arrow as it struck the pumpkin. In the one here I'm about to stab a cabbage tossed to me by John with the short sword sting. My personal favorite moments were slicing a potato lengthwise in mid-air with my battle axe and the doing it again to half the potato and driving the axe spike through the pumpkin and most of the board it was sitting on. It's fun to play with edged weapons and nobody was hurt or even in significant danger. Later that night we had a good time of worship and prayer. It was a very fun weekend.

Otherwise life has gone on here as it usually does. Tomorrow I will be heading down to Kentucky for an extended Thanksgiving holiday. I'm looking forward to spending time with the family (hopefully including Cora) and seeing Jenn and Jamie. I'm also looking forward to the time listening to the Lord of the Rings while a drive. I anticipate a good week. I might even blog some more.

Verse of the day:

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:28-29 (ESV)
Our new associate pastor preached on this verse this morning. I was especially struck by the idea that the "good" of verse 28 is revealed in 29, conforming to the image of His son.

Random Quote:

"Are you a turtle?" EM
"Yes, I'm a turtle." SW who plays some amusing video games.

"Why didn't you throw me over the line. I could live with a broken arm if we won." TP (In the closing seconds of the TCC Student Ministries Turkey Bowl VI with our team down by a touchdown on 4th and goal from about the 3 yard line we drew up a desperation play. The quarterback would hand the ball off to T.P., the smallest player on the team. Then, instead of blocking, I would pick him up and carry him into the end zone. It almost worked. I tried to cover his flags so they couldn't be pulled off but somebody managed to get one with about a foot to go. Game over, go for pizza. All through lunch he was adamant that I should have thrown him into the end zone.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What's Up By Way of an Augustine Quote

A while ago I was listening to The Confessions of St. Augustine in my car. The confessions are always a good thing to go back to now and again. I'm often amazed by the depth of Augustine's devotion to God as well as by his theological insight. This time I was struck by this passage:
"Yet I sinned, O Lord my God, ruler and creator of all natural things, but of sins only the ruler. I sinned, O Lord my God, by going against the commands of my parents and of those teachers.... I was disobedient not out of a desire for better things, but out of love for play. I loved to win proud victories in our contests, and to have my ears tickled by false stories, so that they would itch all the more intensely for them, with the same kind of curiosity glittering more and more in my eyes for shows, the games of grown up men.... Lord in your mercy look down upon these things and deliver those of us who now call upon you. Deliver also those who do not yet call upon you, so that they may call upon you and you may deliver them." Confessions bk. 1, ch. 10. John Ryan, tr.

I was struck by Augustine's observation that he was distracted from his studies as a child not by better things as such but by the things he enjoyed at the time. The Confessions were written in his early to mid-forties. I just remember hearing that passage and thinking, "That's me." Most kids are distracted from study by play, but for whatever reason I was surprised to see how much I'm distracted by it as an adult and even more by the "false stories" that I devote so much time to on t.v. or in movies, or, for that matter, in books. I have friends who don't read fiction precisely because they don't care to immerse themselves in things that aren't true. Obviously they miss out on a lot, but probably much less than I'm inclined to argue for.

In other news, I think my toe is getting better. It was definitely better when I went back to the doctor's office on the 19th, and it held up well to c. 5 miles of corn maze walking on the 20th. It doesn't look much better now and it's still sore, so we'll see. We closed our softball season on the 21st with a resounding, and probably fitting, loss. We had fun and hopefully we'll be better in the spring. Last night I got to go see The Producers with my friend Dianne. We had a good time and it was definitely funnier as a live production than I remember the Mostel/Wilder movie version being. I also took yesterday off to do some personal reflection and rejuvenation. I had a good time walking around the lake at the Independence Grove forest preserve in Libertyville. That yielded some good prayer time, some exercise and the following haiku:
Geese land on the lake.
Wings outstretched they fall with grace
Beneath cloudy skies.

This world's grey curtain
Pulls back to show green shores as
A swift sun rises.

I love watching geese and ducks drop toward a lake. There's an amazing grace about the way they bend their wings down to just drop out of the sky toward the water. This time I saw a few who looked kind of wobbly as they headed in for the landing like they were hitting unexpected air turbulence or were jockeying for position with the other geese. It was fun to watch. I also noticed that if you look at them from the right angle, geese look like two legged, tailless brontosauri. It was a good day.

Verse of the day:
"The sluggard says, 'There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!'" Prov. 26:13 (ESV)

Gratuitous quote:
"Of course. I am also a traditionally built lady, though not so traditionally built as you by a long way." Mma Makutsi to Mma Ramotswe in Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interesting Story About Dying Languages

I found this story on the First Things blog about the cultural loss of endangered languages. It is a very interesting story, especially if you're into linguistics or anthropology.

Happy Birthday Toe Me

So last Monday I had a birthday. In many ways it was no different from any other Monday. When I went out my car was a little different than usual. There was a bunch of stuff in red paint on the windows about it being my birthday and hopefully a happy one. Seems the Wonder Slug had decorated my car. I was happy. That was it for b-day celebrating on the 8th. Later, though, to make the day memorable in another way I managed to turn over a book cart onto my toe. Either a large index or the cart itself struck my left big toe right around the base of the nail. It turned blue-gray almost instantly. Meanwhile I reloaded the cart while two small Asian children laughed at me and headed on to the dumpster. Then it started to rain.

Two days later as I limped about my business someone saw the redness surrounding the nail and suggested that it might be infected and that I should see a doctor. That night one of the youth stepped on it, just in case it didn't hurt badly enough. On Friday I went to my new doctor. He described it as a hematoma (hema-toe-ma?) and chided me for not trimming the nail (which, for the record, I was trying not to think about touching) but did not think it infected. He prescribed an antibiotic just in case and told me to soak it twice a day and come back in a week. So tomorrow I'll return to the doctor with an almost painless toe and a nail that is still an interesting shade of blue gray.

Between the birthday and now, I was also taken out for dinner at Bob Chinn's Crab House by my friend Cindee, hosted a poetry reading and viewing of Monty Python's Holy Grail at my apartment on Saturday (missing UK's amazing victory over LSU in the process), taught both jr. high and high school youth groups about God's Kingdom coming with power, and had a generally good time. So it's been mostly a good birthmonth so far with a slight undertow of pain.

Verse of the day:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)

Random Amusing Quotes:
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin (from the front of the birthday card given me by EW and DP

"I'd hate for there to be an invisible Haitian in the room." EM (a Heroes-based explanation for why Worm couldn't use telekinesis to retrieve a book from one of our bookshelves)

"We've been foiled!" SW (his response to seeing the Dove chocolate wrapper poetry the Wonder Slug had left on our refrigerator)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Summer Movie Music and Update

I mentioned in my last post that I'd wanted to blog about my favorite movie music moments from this past summer. Music has a great influence on how much I like a movie. Basil Poledouris' score is one of the reasons that Conan the Barbarian was long my favorite movie and also the reason I first began to consider that I might like classical music. I still think you could play the music from Pirates of the Caribbean over any other movie and I would like that movie. One of the reasons I stay through the credits is to let the final music soak in while I think about the movie. That said I wanted to mention my favorite music moments from summer movies in chronological order.
1. The electric guitar during the meeting on the sandbar in PotC III. Captains Swann, Barbossa, and Sparrow face off with Will Turner, Davey Jones, and Lord Cutler-Beckett while the guitar wails. It was very much like something out of a western.

2. The choral "Spider Pig" from the Simpsons. Homer adopts a pig. At one point Marge wonders how the pig tracks got on the ceiling. She goes into the living room to see Homer holding the pig on the ceiling and singing, "Spider Pig, Spider Pig/Does whatever a spider-pig does./Can he swing from a web?/No he cant, 'cause he's a pig." Later in the movie during a vision quest scene and again at the credits there's a choral version that's kind of eerie and ethereal like the song "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I absolutely loved it.

3. The score from Stardust, especially in the race to the wall and the dash to the witches' stronghold but I loved the score throughout the movie including the Can-Can. The part I hated was the song that played over the main credits. It was horrible. It didn't fit with the rest of the music and was just an annoying cheesy pop song. I had the same reaction to the song that played over the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon credits, but at least when I bought the soundtrack I hear how it blended the themes from Tan Dun's score. There was nothing redeemable about the marketing effort at the end of Stardust except when the song ended and was replaced by a reprise of the Can-Can. The end credits pop song that really worked this summer was the one on The Bourne Ultimatum.

In other news, our LIFEgroup hosted our Cramtastic Oktoberfest Root Beer Kegger this weekend to raise money for our friends the Crams who will be doing church planting in Germany. I was disappointed with the turnout but those who came had a good time and we had a very good prayer time after Kevin shared what they would be doing. It was fun and I'm very happy with how the group pitched in to make it happen. Since my last post we've lost three more softball games, I've lost games of Munchkin and Settlers, spoken to the youth about the benefits of Kingdom of God and am having a birthday. Today I turn 1 year less than the square of 1/2 the square root of a gross or the cube root of 42875 or 1/2 of my three score and ten. Alternately I'm turning 29 for the 7th consecutive year. Happy birthday to me.

Verse of the day:
"Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

September and stuff to Blog About

My New Year's Resolution was to blog daily, or near daily. How different is monthly really? Wouldn't you rather have 12 quality posts than 326 hastily scribed musings? Too bad about the quality on the 12 then, huh.

September started off fun at Ann and Daniel's as part of my second annual Labor Day Swing Through Tennessee and Kentucky. Eating Indian food with Anniel and playing with Cora and Lydia and Geron were supplemented by a good visit with my old friend John who runs the Harmony House Cafe in Dayton, Tennessee and by time with Mom and Dad. I also got to spend quality road time with Karl Barth and Robinson Crusoe. The rest of the month has been the usual mixture of church, work, friends, reading, and watching. Steve and I caught up with Battlestar Galactica to the end of the 2nd season and the 1st season of Heroes, and surprising new entry Chuck. My LIFEgroup hosted a fun dinner for church's pastor for children's and women's ministries and her husband. We're hosting each pastoral staff family as way of honoring our leaders based on our study of 3rd John last spring. Now we're gearing up for a Kramtastic Oktoberfest Root Beer Kegger to raise funds for our friends the Krams who will be doing church planting ministry in Germany. Our softball team won a couple of games and would have won another if we'd had a ninth player. 3-D is settling into a school year routine and I'm getting used to my small group guys. I'm a bit tired right now because I spent last night at the Libertyville Sports Complex as part of large multi-church junior high lock-in. We blew up balloons with our noses (Gio rocks!), played knock-out, 2 on 2 basketball, football, lots of dodge ball, duck dodging, sardines (at the church before going over to LSC (Theresa and Shannon also rock for the 3rd best hiding job ever), worked a batting cage for a while, and played lots of pool at the church.. I took a long nap when I got home but I'm still tired. So it's been a good month, filled with all the usual shenanigans.

Along the way, some of the many topics I planned to post about but never got around to: favorite movie music moments from the summer, why I enjoy pro-wrestling, LibraryThing.com, Ahaz' strange idolatry, the way certain scenes stick out from books, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember now. I want to blog. I even like writing some but I just never get around to it.

Verse of the day:

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Karaoke and Other forms of Fun

We had a good time Friday at night at Jenn's karaoke party. There's nothing quite like watching somebody get caught off guard by the start of Happy Birthday on the karaoke screen and then trying to catch up. Dave wanted to sing it to her as the cake came out. Of course we all helped him get back on track, but it was a funny moment. I took another stab at Johnny Cash and sang Ring of Fire as Dave had promised everyone in the invitation. I met my obligation but John totally ducked his on Sweet Caroline. I like Johnny Cash a lot and it's fun to sing along in the car but after this experience and my previous attempt at Riders in the Sky I may have to give up. I can't really sing low enough and compounded that by holding the mike too far from my face so my friends couldn't hardly hear me. I did try Boy Named Sue once but the speak-singing makes that tricky. Oh well. Later in the evening I felt pretty good about Man of Constant Sorrow. The range is right, I know and love it, and I've even "bid farewell to old Kentucky, the place where I was born and raised." I tried to get Steve to it but eventually had to admit defeat and sing it myself. Man of Constant Sorrow goes along with Birdhouse in Your Soul and Copperhead Road as my karaoke successes. CR gets low in a couple of places but I can cover those with enthusiasm. As long as I'm on the subject the other two songs I've tried have length problems. Simon and Garfunkel's The Rat is too short. Dire Straits' Money for Nothing is just right if you only focus on the part you sing along with in the car but you've got a minute of "I want my MTV" at the beginning and about two minutes of "Money for nothing, chicks for free" at the end. It's a fun two minute song sandwiched between three minutes of standing there feeling stupid. I think for the next time I go I want to try the traditional Irish song Finnegan's Wake, about a dead Irishman who's revived when whiskey's spilled on him during a brawl at his wake, and I Just Stopped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In by Kenny Rogers from the Gutterballin' sequence in The Big Lebowski soundtrack. "Phone's ringin', Dude."

On Saturday Steve and I went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wis. Steve got to dress up a little and wear a pirate shirt and his sword. I don't have any costume gear so I dressed as myself. We looked into buying me a battle axe but couldn't find anything in my price range. I enjoy the ren faire but I just can't bring myself to spend the money on costuming. We saw some funny jugglers and magicians and a pretty cool display of 16th century surgical methods. We also got some good food and I took care of my annual mead fix, so honoring my Renaissance Meador ancestors. I was talking a week ago with a friend at church who had been to the faire. We noted the incongruity of an event claiming to be set in the Renaissance with no tinge of Christianity. D. joked that they could at least burn a heretic. I kind of think that if I ever do go in costume it'd be fun to go as a friar, or maybe given the 1589 English setting, as a Puritan.
After the faire we went down to Trinity for the new student orientation church fair (I guess Saturday was a "fair day" despite the rainy weather). We got to talk about our church to a number of new seminary and college students and with a few of the other church reps. that were there. It was a fun time. We had a lot more seminary than college contacts but it still felt like a worthwhile time to me. Later last night we went over to some friends' new apartment. They've got a really nice place and they've decorated it well. We played games, including losing and winning games of Settlers, and hung out.

On Sunday we got hear a very encouraging sermon on baptism followed by a good time of communion and singing. We closed the service with I'll Fly Away. As a congregation we can't clap to that with any coherence but it was still a sweet time of affirmation of our hope in Christ. Our church men's ministry sponsored a day of service where men with various skills would go the homes of single women and moms who requested it and do various odd jobs and repairs. After the service I teamed up with a group of men and we went to a lady's house and installed a phone jack, repaired her screen door, hung some pictures, fixed a toilet, and reset a sliding door. The rain prevented some jobs like cutting down a tree and some car repairs, but we got to help out some of the women in the church and work together with some new guys so it was a good time. Unfortunately the same rain that shut out some of the service projects also rained the first softball game of the fall season. Apparently the caretakers of the Libertyville Sports Complex softball pond didn't think we could swim well enough to pull off a game. That was just as well as it gave me and Steve time to catch up on our Battlestar Galactica watching, reading, and laundry.

Verse of the day:
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." Rom. 6:3-4 (NIV)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Karaoke Wishes

I'm going Karaoke-ing tonight for my friend Jenn's birthday. I mentioned to my friend Dianne one time that I have trouble choosing what songs to sing because the stuff I know well is usually too obscure for the club. She asked me what I would sing if I could. I thought I'd make a list of songs I'd be comfortable enough to try but that I've never seen on a Karaoke play list.

Steve Earle - Johnny Come Lately, The Mountain, or Going South to Dixie: I flipped the time I found Copperhead Road available but my favorite song off that album is Johnnie Come Lately.

The Pogues - Lorelei: I finally found a Pogues song for karaoke, Fairytale of New York, and was writing it down on the request slip before I remembered it's a duet for male and female and probably no women I hang out with would sing it with me.

The Violent Femmes - Country Death Song: it's the darkest on the bunch and is fairly evil. I can see why it's not on lists but it's fun to sing.

The Sadies - It's Nothing to Me: there's other Sadies stuff that would be fun but it's usually too low for my range.

The Chieftains and Mick Jagger - The Long Black Veil: This one is usually on the lists but in a different arrangement that's too swing-y and light. I like the way Jagger sings it.

The Clancy Brothers - The Parting Glass: the place I go has a few traditional Irish songs on the list, and I might try Finnegan's Wake tonight, but I'd like to do this one. I love it both as the Clancy's do it and in the arrangement on the soundtrack to Waking Ned Divine. I usually end up singing this one going from my car to the door after karaoke. The Foggy Dew is another good one.

Johnny Cash - The L&N Don't Stop There Anymore: like the Sadies most Johnny Cash is too low but that doesn't stop me from trying. I also like his version of Poor Wayfaring Stranger.

Kingston Trio - Coal Tattoo: I've loved this ever since I heard Aunt Margaret sing it.

Steve Taylor - Finish Line: It's probably just as well, I cry at the end.

Glass Hammer - Dwarf and Orc: I don't actually know this well enough to sing it in public but I wish I did.

They Might Be Giants - I Returned a Bag of Groceries (Dead): I had a lot of fun learning and singing Birdhouse in Your Soul the last time I went out, but this is my favorite TMBG song to sing.

The Crossing - None But One, Winter, Where Has the Carpenter Gone, Rise Ye Up and Go, Psalm, The Bold Little Preacher, Standing Stones: if I had to pick one it'd be Psalm but since it's never going to happen I can do them all.

Michael Card - God's Own Fool: There's a lot of Card songs but this is the one for me unless I count the settings of Come Ye Sinners, and Jesus, Lover of My Soul on Starkindler. Those are possibly my two favorite hymn settings.

Third Day - Consuming Fire: This one might have a chance on Christian karaoke discs.

So there's a list of songs I wish I could sing for karaoke, none of which I'll get to do tonight.

Random quote from youth group:
"You think nobody will know? God knows and so does Google." NW in his message

Verse of the day:
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Trip to Minnesota

So I said I'd tell a little more about the visit. I drove up on Friday. It was a fine pleasant trip listening to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, a book about globalization by Thomas Friedman. I also saw a wild turkey on county road 4 west of Rochester. Jim and Tara have got a beautiful little farm. The front yard is like a park with lots of trees, especially a huge maple that's big enough to be seven or eight normal size trees. They've got a fixer-upper house, several outbuildings, a windmill, and a scuzzy pond. One of the outbuildings is Evan's inventor's workshop which he has graciously opened to his brothers between noon and three.

It was so good to see Tara and the boys when I arrived and to meet Avery. Toby was very concerned about my owie, the big scab on my leg from my softball sliding adventure. He must have asked me forty times on Friday, "Why do you have an owie?" He asked the other days as well. He's a cute little fellow who can generate a mighty stench. Aidan trapped me in the living room by telling me it was a dungeon with traps on the doors. It took awhile before I remembered that I was strong enough to walk through his traps. I didn't get to see Evan on Friday because he was at his grandpa's so I could have the bed. Tara made delicious strombolis for supper and Jim and I talked late into the night. We spent Saturday hanging out and goofing off, playing horseballs and trackball. Eventually Evan came home and he and Jim and I drove "aimlessly" through the countryside looking for tractors. I really like the southeastern Minnesota landscape. After supper we took Evan back to his grandpa's where we talked and played pool and ping-pong. Jim won at ping pong but I managed to take at least one of the pool games.

Sunday took us to Berean for the start of a series on Ephesians and then out for lunch at Golden Corral. In the afternoon Jim and I talked while he worked on painting the house and the boys played in the sprinkler. In the process Evan developed a case of albino foot by stepping in a can of paint thinner that Jim was using to dip his primer brush. I love Jim, Tara, the boys, and Avery. I'm glad I got to go up there.

This weekend it's off to Gatlinburg and the Smokeys for a week with Mom, Dad, Lydia, Geron, and, primarily, Cora. WoooHooo!


On the drive home on Sunday I developed the idea of coming up with a summary haiku for each book of the Bible.

Dumb Galatians, dodge
The snip-snip. Live by faith in
Christ. You've been set free.

Happiness falters.
Man's desire is vanity.
Fear God all your days.
(Ecclesiastes, thanks to Nate's youth teaching on Wednesday)

I got through Ecclesiastes on Sunday but I didn't remember any well enough to write down besides the Galatians one.

Have a good week wherever you are.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Few More Haiku

From the drive home from Minnesota:

Bright lights fill my eyes.
I gently tip the mirror.
Ahhh. Ocular peace.

Wild turkeys roadside,
Two hawks soar over the fields,
Birds on the prairie.

Haiku while driving.
Look up, look down, up again.
Safe driving? Folly.

A couple from my division meeting on Monday:

Weeded books abound.
Primeval reference volumes
Will soon fill dumpsters.

Caffeinated Dew
Preserving my alertness
Both blessing and curse.

Two related to current library problems:

CARLI load misstep
Where are my authorities?
Alas for headings.
(Due to a very fundamental miscommunication in our consortial load process several thousand locally created authority records weren't transferred to the new server. Hopefully they can be recovered. CARLI is the consortium we just joined.)

Call number browse failed.
Help! I'm in the Z's not B's.
Cat. Staff search needs help.
(The call number search in our staff modules got broken during the switch to CARLI as well. You can search for a specific number but you can't browse a range.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Trip and Haiku

I drove up to Minnesota to the Kluth farm on Friday and came back last night. It was great fun on which I hope to report later.

Y'all might remember that I wrote about a character from the book Cryptonomicon back in May. Another character in that book was Bobby Shaftoe, a U.S. marine in the Pacific theatre during WWII. Bobby Shaftoe had a Japanese friend from before the war and liked to make up haiku. I got to thinking maybe I could too. I made a couple on my way to Minnesota:

Rest stop in 1 mile
Next rest stop 21 miles
Maybe I should pee.

Look! Outback Steakhouse
Bloomin' Onion, sirloin, beer.
Wish I had money
(or, Would that I had time)

I made a bunch on the way home including these:

Boys play in sprinkler
I watch while Jim primes for paint
Tara reads in peace

Horseballs hang on rack
We chat in adirondacks
cooled by pleasant breeze

Ephesians sermon
In praise of glorious grace
Calls us to praise God

There were others that I'll put up sometime.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

June's Gone

I enjoyed June. It was a good month. The weather wasn't too bad. I got to travel. I got to work, eat, hang out with friends and do other stuff. I went to Philadelphia on June 13th for the American Theological Library Association annual conference with my friend and boss, Matt. We did some quick sight seeing on Wednesday night, seeing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. On Thursday I attended worship at a beautiful old Episcopal church, heard an address on Calling, and attended various educational sessions. Thursday night we got together with our friend and former coworker Stephanie and one of her staff members for dinner. It was a good time of catching up, reminiscing and meeting Stephanie's baby. On Friday I heard about the training of Muslim chaplains at a historically Christian seminary, attended more educational sessions and saw the Phillies get blown out by the Tigers. Saturday saw more education before flying home. The following weekend I flew down to Nashville to meet Mr. and Mrs. Aluru who are visiting from India. I also saw Mom and Dad, and of course, Ann and Daniel. They fed me an astonishing amount of good Indian food and are very nice and friendly people. We also watched a fun Bollywood musical. The rest of the month has been full with youth group meetings, LIFEgroup events, including a fun outing to a Reggae/Calypso concert at Independence Grove in Libertyville, LIFEgroup leadership events, and other stuff. I finally finished the Cryptonomicon and Steve and I are making steady progress through the first season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD. I've played a lot of softball and I hope I can say I'm getting better, though my sliding technique needs definite work it won't get. My friends John and Sarah had a great wedding to end the month. On a sad note, my favorite wrestler murdered his wife and son before committing suicide last weekend.
July has now started. I'm looking forward to travelling to Minnesota and Tennessee and spending time with family and friends. There will also be more softball and the TIU staff volleyball tournament, so July should be as full and as fun as June.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Interesting characters

I was struck over the weekend by a couple of interesting characters in books I'm reading.

Edmund McGowan, in The Gates of the Alamo, is a botanist in Texas on the eve of the Texas war of independence in the mid 1830's. He has devoted his life to seeking greatness that will set him apart from other men. Particularly, he has obtained a commission from the Mexican government to describe and catalog the plants of Texas. He has dedicated years to this task collecting specimens and travelling all over seeking out new plants. In dedication to his task he's forsworn most relationships with other people, especially women. On his way to Mexico City he meets and becomes friends with Mary Mott and her son teenaged son Terrell. Mary is an innkeeper in a coastal town and a widow. She is puzzled by Mr. McGowan and frustrated by the way he holds himself aloof from others but finds herself falling for him and he for her though he is very puzzled by the emotions. Several things lead to other things and Edmund, Mary, and Terrell find themselves in the Alamo. Despite the belief that his life's work has gone for nothing Edmund finds himself, because of long habit, unable to appropriately respond to Mary's interest or the new feelings he is encountering in himself, even on the edge of apparent death. In his sense of honour, duty, and his life's calling Edmund has numbed something in himself that he cannot reawaken. He reminds me of Lord Eddard Stark in George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones and Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove, two other characters I've found intriguing for their devotion to their sense of honor (though Ned Stark is much healthier emotionally than the other two).

Captain Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse is one of the chief characters in The Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Waterhouse is a born mathematician. When he takes a placement exam for the Navy just before Pearl Harbor he is so intrigued by the first question that he spends the whole exam examining the underlying math of that question. In the process he develops a proof that is published in international academic math journals. On the other hand the navy sees that he has only answered one question in two hours and decides he's too dumb to trusted with anything useful on a ship. Because of his musical talent, music being a wonderful outlet for applied mathematics, he's made a glockenspiel player in the Pacific Fleet band. After Pearl Harbor the band members are assigned as typists in a cryptoanalysis station on Oahu. Waterhouse shows an obvious skill at code breaking and soon is one of the allies top code experts. Among the other interesting people Lawrence knows through the course of the war is Alan Turing (a real life British mathematician and one of the early computer pioneers). Lawrence thinks his way through the war and eventually ends up in Brisbane, Australia working on Japanese codes where he falls in love. Though not normally a church going man, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse begins to attend church in Brisbane because Mary Smith does. On his first visit he decides to fix the church pipe organ. He is an organ player from his childhood drawn to their inherent mathematics. As he works on the organ and powers his way through Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, transposed into C on the fly to make use of the particular organs characteristics, he has a brainstorm about a problem he and Turing have been working on in their attempt to develop an electronic computing machine. Forgetting his shoes he runs out of the church to write a letter to Turing explaining the plan, passing a young woman on the way. He is several blocks away before he remembers the shoes or realizes that the young woman was Mary Smith with whom he is in love. He'll go back later. The Cryptonomicon is a very long book that deals simutaneously with events during World War II and the present. One of the things that makes it enjoyable in addition to the intrigue and so forth is the way that Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse's mind works. He's a funny guy.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

Okay, it took a few days to recover before I could consider posting about the weekend. It all started on Friday when I ran by the church and picked up a couple of tents before heading to my friend Aaron's in Waukegan. We set up the tents in Aaron's typical suburban backyard and discovered that one of the tents was nearly as big as the house. We also hooked up an LCD projector pointed at the back of the house. As it was getting dark we set up the portable fire pit we had borrowed from Dianne and Sarah so as to make s'mores. One of the friends who was helping light the fire decided to run into the house to get more paper to get the fire going. She didn't make it. She ran forward and with a mighty thud struck an invisible barrier and rebounded down the steps onto the patio. She remembers going forward and suddenly reversing and wondering why she wasn't in the kitchen. In a beautiful imitation of certain Windex and Bud Light commercials one of Aaron's housemates had cleaned the sliding glass door earlier on Friday. Someone else had shut it and my friend had run right into it. She was okay and it was very funny. After Sarah and Becky stopped rolling on the ground in laughter we got the fire lit and eventually watched the movie Hoodwinked projected onto Aaron's house. At a later point that night the older sister of our door thudding friend also ran into the closed door. It was also very funny. The guys slept in the tents. Most of the girls started the night in the circus-sized tent but they went in to sleep around 4:30.

At some point on Saturday morning we got up and straggled into the kitchen for breakfast. In the process we tried the new Doritos X-13D experimental chips that I had purchased the night before. They come with the gimmick that you try them and then you can name them yourself. I don't think the company will accept my proposed name, "Crap Chips". On the other hand, as a reward for graciously making us pancakes, one of my friends has now been nicknamed "Crap Chip" because she seemed to like them. (I think Doritos was going for a hamburger taste, mostly they got mustard and the worst qualities of other Doritos). We learned that Anthony carries wet sponges in his pants pockets. "Always be prepared." After a long breakfast and general sitting around time during which and Anthony and Aaron emerged from hibernation we decided to disperse for the afternoon and meet together later for Pirates of the Caribbean III and supper. Steve and I took the opportunity to go to a graduation party for two of our friends who just finished high school and who will be Illini in the fall. Pirates III was great. We returned to Aaron's for another night of fun involving the projector and pizza. This time we were inside watching My Super Ex-Girlfriend (but my terrible movie) and playing Time-Splitters wherein I mostly died.

We rose early-ish Sunday morning and Anthony, who had previously learned the meaning of the word "androgynous" and that it was something he didn't want to self-apply, made us some good pancakes. At church we heard a challenging sermon from Ezekiel 33 about being a watchman. Over a Fodrak's lunch we learned about some friends' recent trip to New York and how one had said she could "dress like a 'ho'" on a national t.v. show. After church we joined a large crowd of folks from church for a fun game of mushball. The softball team had the weekend off but some of us wanted to play anyway, hence the mushball. Then we returned to Aaron's to play some volleyball. The t-shirts trounced the tank tops and we preened. I picked up a friend from the airport and then went home and watched part of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind before turning in. Others spent the evening at Aaron's playing games and talking but I needed a break.

11 of us gathered at the church around 10 on Monday morning to head down to Starved Rock State Park for an afternoon of hiking. While we were waiting we threw some frisbee and were treated to Steve's attempt to skate on a frisbee. It worked for about five feet before he wiped out. The drive to Starved Rock was uneventful except when Anthony was pulled over by the police in Utica, Ill. so they could check his and his female passengers' i.d.'s. They were "old enough." "Old enough for what?!" Anthony inquired. The officer didn't respond. The park was very crowded but beautiful. Most of the canyons had waterfalls in them and we had a good time hiking. One friend wiped out on a sandstone slope trying to deliver a caterpillar safely onto a leaf and later she accidentally shooed a bug down the front of her shirt when she was trying to make it go away. Neither incident resulted in significant injury, and both resulted in significant laughter, if not so much as her "force field" experience the previous Friday night. We got home tired just as it got dark and some of us took the tents down in Aaron's backyard before going to Chili's for supper. We also learned that Aaron can shower in less time than Anthony can poop. Steve and I returned home where he went to bed and I finished Eternal Sunshine. It was an exhausting but fun weekend.

Gratuitous Weekend quote:
"Something stinks."
"I think it's us." Crap Chip in the church parking lot after Starved Rock

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beautiful Day

Yesterday was an all-around good day. The weather was fine. Our work task force on Information and the Future delivered our presentation on Books in Cyberspace, an examination of GoogleBooks, Amazon, Worldcat.org, and LibraryThing.com, that we've been working on for a while. It's good to be done. I learned interesting things about the different databases and my part of the presentation wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. In the afternoon I found out that a DVD I'd had on hold for a while at the public library had come in. I found the book The Gates of the Alamo on cassette and have started listening to it. I bought a bike. Last night we had a good time at 3-D even though only eight students were there. My friend Noah, who graduated from high school on Saturday and who will be a horned frog in the fall, spoke to the students about living life for God. He did well and did even better as he helped lead my small group. I got to do some reading when I got home. It was a good day.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Anniversaries and Weekend

Happy Anniversary to Lydia and Geron, Ann and Daniel, and Nicki and Erik (5/17). Congratulations, y'all.

It was a good weekend. I went in and worked on Saturday. Saturday night Steve and I went over to Aaron's for a barbecue, some badminton, some LED night Frisbee, and general hanging around. When we came home I watched the movie Facing the Giants. This is a movie that was made by a large church in Georgia about the football coach at Christian High School and how he struggles with fear and resistance from parents as he leads the team to its first winning season in his tenure. It was released in theatres for a short run last fall. It's a sweet little movie. It was irritatingly cliched at times and had the same tone to the acting that I often note in Christian movies, reminiscent of the acting you often see in commercials. At the same time it had some really touching and funny moments. I was glad to have seen it.

On Sunday we heard a good sermon on Ephesians 1:11-13 and on God's inheritance and sovereignty. After the service our softball team played another double header. We lost the first game 26-2 (maybe one but I'm pretty sure there were two runs scored). We only got to play four innings. The other team scored maybe 24 of their runs in the first two innings, so we were doing okay at the end. The second was called on account of rain after the 6th inning with a score of 12-12. If only it'd been called after the 5th, we would have won. Oh well. Now we've got two weeks until our next game. After the game I went home and took a nap before going to graduation party for two friends who'd just finished their M.Div's at Trinity. I also got to watch the 400th Simpsons episode.

It was also a good weekend for reading. I finished The Gospel According to Science Fiction and got a pretty good start on Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It's a story about a marine and a cryptologist during World War II and then about their grandchildren working with an internet company in the late nineties. It's very interesting.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Places for Quiet

Writing about Illinois Beach got me thinking about some other places I like to go for peace and quiet, particularly outdoor walking places.

At St. Olaf there were two places in particular I liked to go. Mellby Hall, where I lived my sophomore year, has a very nice chapel on the first floor. It's about the size of a dorm room with pews and then an altar and stained glass window with a depiction of Psalm 23 in the front of the room. The chapel is kind of dimly lit and was always a great place to go and pray and especially to reflect on God's care. "The Lord is my shepherd...." The other place was the Norway Valley Nature Trail. The trail started into the woods near Larson Hall and wound around the side of the hill until it came out at the path leading down the hill from Flatten and the old music building. I think it led down to the French House, maybe. Norway Valley got its name from the Norway pines that prominent in the woods there. It was a great place to walk in any season, but especially during a good snowfall. The highlight of the Norway Valley trail for me was the monument to Rev. Ole O. Fugleskjell of the class of 1906 (I think). A few years after he graduated, "In the service of Christ became lost in the woods near Spooner, Mn., and perished from the cold." Then it quotes the verse, "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." I first came on the trail when I was a freshman and discouraged after a disappointing youth retreat. It meant a lot to be able to go back there throughout school and be reminded of what was important in life and of the beauty of God's world.

Since moving to Illinois I've found other places. When I lived at the synagogue it was nice to go up on our roof and look out over the lake, especially at night. Lake County has a very nice nice park and forest preserve system. I like to go to Independence Grove in Libertyville or to Century Park in Vernon Hills and walk around the lakes. If I'm in more of a woods mood then I like to go Daniel Wright Woods or the Half Day Forest Preserve and walk on the Des Plaines River Trail or just through some of the woods trails. The preserves are all more crowded than has been Illinois Beach when I've visited but they still allow for good times of peace and reflection. There's a place where the DPR Trail crosses the river north of the Wright Woods Preserve just below a dam on the river that is a good place to go and stand on the bridge and watch and listen to the river as flows by. I like that place.

So what about you? Where do you like to go for peace and reflection?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Illinois Beach and Week Off

I've taken the past week off to try to slow down and focus on important things in my life. I've spent way too much time reading my TIU email, this week specifically but in life generally, but I've also gotten to spend some time doing things I enjoy. I've gotten to read a couple of books about leading Bible studies published by InterVarsity and the Navigators that I hope will lead to good things for my LIFE group. I was able to make a good start on Alexander Ventner's Doing Church, a book about the Vineyard model for church. I planned an interesting Bible study on Romans 12:1-2 and got some direction for where the group will be going next. I was able to try the lunch buffets at Pizza Hut, a Chinese restaurant (Yen wouldn't have liked it), and The Curry Pot (I don't know if Daniel would have liked it. I did. It wasn't as good as The Peacocke in Vernon Hills or Tandoor in Lexington but it was all right. I liked the goat curry). I also got to have lunch at Portillo's with my friend Jason yesterday before playing a solo game of disc golf (it almost proved disastrous when a practice throw didn't clear the path on the last hole. If that had been the real throw I would have had to finish the hole with my pants around my ankles, traumatic for the class of new mothers that was meeting outside on the sled hill.). I even did some cleaning and laundry.

The best part of the week was a visit to Illinois Beach State Park this morning. I couldn't have asked for better weather. It was clear and sunny with the temperature around 70 degrees inland and maybe in the low 60's along the beach. The park was almost empty where I was. I think I saw 4 people while I was walking around. There were more further north by the lodge and bath house but I didn't go up there. I love to walk the Dead River Nature Trail and Dune Trail at the park. The nature trail is a 1.8 mile loop that leaves from the parking lot at the nature center (never open in any of my visits to the park) that runs south along the Dead River, a little river that flows into Lake Michigan when it can get enough pressure to push through the sandbar, before leaving the river and running back to the center. The trail runs through a little open woods of short scraggly trees and underbrush. I've never seen much wildlife there other than birds, but there are a lot of birds. It's a really pleasant and pretty little area. Best of all you can't really hear any cars, a real treat. The Dune Trail starts at the lodge and runs south parallel to the lake shore but behind a low dune ridge before turning away from the lake and running through the woods to the nature center and then back to the lodge. The treat there is listening to the waves lap the beach and the gulls. Both trails are amazingly peaceful, very quiet and calm except for the lake and the birds. When I went out on the beach the beauty almost took my breath away. I can't remember any body of water more beautiful than Lake Michigan was today. It was crystal clear as it came into the shore and a deep blue heading out to the horizon mirroring the sky with the sun sparkling on the little waves. There were times when I would be mowing the lawn out behind the temple at the Synagogue when the Lake would take my breath as I looked out off the bluff. Today was as pretty as any of those. Probably the day at Split Rock on the North Shore of Lake Superior or the day at Naupflion on the Mediterranean were as beautiful but it's hard to imagine. It made me wonder what it must have been like for the first Indians who came through those dunes and saw the Lake for the first time. I can only imagine their awe and wonder. I love the lake and I don't visit it near often enough. It was just a perfect day to wander in the woods and the dunes and marvel at God and his handiwork. Praise the Lord!

It's been a good week.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Having been tagged I respond.
Available or Single: If I was one wouln't I also be the other? There is only one of me so I am singular. I am not in any formalized romantic relationship so I am single and, presumptively, available. If I had taken some vow of celibacy I would also not be in the relationship and therefore single but not available for such a relationship. Likewise if I was not willing to be part of a relationship, which I might not be, interests notwithstanding, I would be single but not available. Given the opposition one must ask, "Available for what?" Still, I'm probably both in equal measure.

Best friend: Jim

Cake or Pie: generally chocolate creme or french silk pie, but if the cake is chocolaty enough....

Drink of Choice: Bass Ale

Essential items: a computer, access to LC ClassificationWeb, OCLC Connexion Client, AACR2, and resources to catalog; possibly a bar of soap. It depends many different things are essential to many different things.

Favorite colour: Royal (U.K.) Blue

Gummi Bears or Worms: If I must eat one, bears. They're smaller and it's over more quickly

Hometown: Georgetown, KY

Indulgence: plenary

January or February: Used to be January. Might still be. February's got a really annoying holiday in the middle and more melting snow but it's been growing on me recently. I love our youth group winter retreat which is usually the weekend of or after the annoying holiday that doesn't honor James Buchanon

Kids: none of my own. I like other people's okay.

Life is incomplete without:: Death is tempting, but I'm saying, "Jesus."

Marriage Date: 2/30/2674 if not sooner

Number of siblings: 4, 2 natural, 2 legal

Oranges or Apples: Obvious comparisons aside, apples, esp. New Zealand Braeburns

Phobias/fears: Otcin? Noir? People I don't know? God.

Quote: "Gopher, Everett?" Delmar

Reasons to smile: Exodus 32:24 and Romans 6:23

Season: Fall

Tag three: Mom, Geron, Becky

Unknown fact about me: I don't know any unknown facts about myself or anyone else. A little know fact is that Chris Benoit is my favorite wrestler

Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals: Neither. I'm with Cody. "I love animals. They're delicious."

Worst habits: Sinning.

X Rays or Ultrasounds: Never had the latter and I've enjoyed all the x rays I've had so I'll go with them.

Your favorite food: I don't thing it's fair that I should have to guess the favorite foods of everyone who reads this. I like Bill's/Buffo's double decker pepperoni pizza with crushed red pepper, parmesan, and oregano an awful lot, maybe as much as I like crab legs.

Zodiac: Rat or scales

Monday, May 07, 2007


I found this quiz on Matt's blog. Apparently I don't have an accent (though I might have difficulty spelling a pear ently)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The Inland North
The West
The Northeast
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Year on Blogger

So I've been blogging for a year. Huzzah! It's still fun even if it can be a hassle getting stuff up. Still I've managed to average one post/3 days which seems weird since I've also gone nearly a month at time with nothing. I don't know if I've learned or grown much by doing it but I enjoy blogging so I'll probably keep it up.

Sunday was a good day. We heard a sermon on Ephesians 1:11 and God's sovereignty. After church we all scattered to various places for food procurement but then came back together for a picnic at Adler Park in Libertyville. We sat around and enjoyed the gorgeous weather, some frisbee, and in my case, a brat and a dog from Slott's Hots in Libertyville. Good brat. Later we played a round of disc golf, I didn't do so hot, but it was fun.

Sunday evening we opened our softball season with a barbecue at Tom's followed by a victory in our first game. I played catcher for most of the game and had a few hits and rbi's and scored a couple of times. It was fun. I wan't too sore this morning either, though my right big toe is very unhappy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What Else Has Been Happening

April's an interesting month. It's often short at work due to a couple of conferences and sometimes Easter. Sometimes it also involves pushing to finish up schoolwork or degrees. It comes after June and is the fabled home of the commemoration of the ancient and noble Non-Sequitur. Speaking of groundhogs and other small mammals, my friend Carlos has gophers in his yard.

I had a great time visiting Kentucky last weekend. It was much good to see the family and I enjoyed being part of Laurel and Michael's wedding. I'm happy to have a new cousin. It was fun playing with Cora, travelling with Mom and Dad, and blowing big bubbles with D.C. I also enjoyed the drives down and back. I listened to most of Neil Gaiman's book American Gods which was fun.
I had two encounters with police in less than 168 hours. I was pulled over just outside Walton Kentucky at about 10 p.m. (edt) on Thursday. I had entered an intersection when the light was yellow and left when it was red. The friendly Kenton County Sheriff's deputy warned me not to do that. At about 8:15 p.m. (cdt) on the following Thursday was assisted entering my car after softball practice by a friendly Mundelein Police officer. I had very securely locked my backpack in the car. Before going to practice I had put my car keys in the backpack so they wouldn't fall out while I was practicing. Fortunately I had my spare key with me, in the backpack. You can imagine the difficulty. It was also good to know that my driver's side door is apparently impenetrable to someone using the kinds of tools currently employed by the Mundelein PD. If it hadn't been so crucial to my own access I would have been a little disappointed that the passenger door wasn't equally secure.
I did some other stuff. I cataloged some books. I had gyros at Bo-Bo's. I had one of the best long disc golf putts I'll ever have in scoring an unofficial three on my nemesis hole at Adler park. It didn't matter that I finished 8 over, I birdied holes 2 and 3 on my practice throws. I went to a meeting at Aurora University to discuss technical services workflows. I started reading The Children of Hurin. I practiced some softball in preparation for our first game this Sunday. Yesterday I learned that BD's Mongolian Barbecue in Vernon Hills, one of my favorite restaurants, had gone out of business. I went with Cindee to Famous Dave's Barbecue, also a good VH restaurant, and had ribs that weren't burnt, and then went to see Pathfinder. I liked the movie and the meal. I led a Bible study on the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 on Monday and watched the youth try to make sense of the laws in Deuteronomy 14-16 on Tuesday. I talked to Jim for nearly an hour and a half on Wednesday. As a week, it will do.

100th Post and Interesting/Frustrating Dream

It just snuck up on me. I happened to glance at the Dashboard before starting this post and saw that I had 99 posts to my blog. So that makes this one "Old hundredth". Indeed, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow...." It's also the 363rd day of my blogging adventure. If I remember, I might mention something related to that on Monday.

Anyway now the folderol is out of the way I can get on to posting. I didn't sleep well last night and had an interesting dream just before I woke up. This is one of those dreams that are interesting to the dreamer but not necessarily to anyone else so I'll understand if you don't care to read about it.

In my dream I was living in a new frame house in a nice neighborhood, like a Cambridge Homes development for them that know them. I had just written a research paper on the theology of cataloging. The theological focus was on the Word unlike the paper I wrote last year in real life that focused on creation as organization and on humans as imaging God by being subcreators and orderers. In the dream it was a nice warm day and I went outside and read the paper to Anthony, the guy who was living with us for a while, while we sat on the curb. I read the whole paper and it was good except for a few typos I noted. Then the scene shifted and I was downstairs in the old student center at St. Olaf preparing to defend my paper before a group of students, faculty and regents. They were calling us up by topic. When they called for "Theology of Library Cataloging" I headed into the room and realized that there was someone else going in carrying a paper. Some girl had also written on the same general topic and would be defending her paper as well. She was better prepared than me and had brought copies for the examination committee. We decided that she would go first. She had just read her title and begun to engage another student who was arguing tangentially that the idea that cataloging was unnecessary thanks to Google was silly and I woke up.

It's really frustrating to have written and read an interesting paper on a subject in a dream and to wake up and the only details you remember are irrelevant ones about the defense and the other student, and then not even the point of her paper. Oh well. I've been wanting to expand my paper from last year and maybe this dream will give me some impetus. I had planned to do more research on the cataloging side due to major developments over the last year but the theological side can probably bear more work as well especially along the lines of the canonical order of the books and collections like Proverbs, but maybe there's something in the Word as well. There was this morning anyway.

Friday, April 13, 2007

San Antonio Trip pt.4

After a very long Monday we slept in on Tuesday (I did anyway). We puttered around a bit and then Jenn, Jamie, and I headed to Cracker Barrel for a consolation breakfast for the CB meal we'd missed the night before. While we were waiting around for service Jamie discovered a very amusing toy parrot that would repeat back whatever it heard. He derived great joy by calling a silly rabbit (I think) and having it "parrot" him. It also repeated my coughs. I had a very good breakfast of country ham, eggs, and various fixin's. I even ate the grits.

From Cracker Barrel we progressed to the Witte Museum. This appears to be something of a natural history museum. It included exhibits on the wildlife and archaeology/anthropology of South Texas including some very interesting displays of various digs and archaeological technique. It also had a mummy and an Ancient Egypt exhibit, a "Science Treehouse" which had several cool demonstrations of various scientific facts, both of which Jamie enjoyed, and an exhibition of photography dedicated to the vaqueros (Mexican cowboys) of southern Texas, that I enjoyed. Overall I enjoyed the museum but was not very impressed. I've been to the Field Museum and the Smithsonian and the Science Treehouse exhibits didn't seem as impressive as those I remember from the Indianapolis Children's Museum or CoSI in Columbus, Ohio. Of course, time and rain kept us from seeing other parts of the museum. Still there was some neat stuff and Jamie had fun except when I made us leave the treehouse so we could see a little more of the museum before heading to the airport.

We tried to find a parking place so Jenn and Jamie could come in with me at least as far as the security check but had no luck. There didn't seem to be a single space in the San Antonio Airport. I hope someone who had to park didn't miss their flight because of it. We said our goodbye's outside the terminal. Jenn headed home to discover her phone had disappeared and I jetted back to Chicago after a little while.

The flight home was uneventful but I can't say the same for the drive home from the airport. In a continuation of Monday's misadventures, Steve missed the on-ramp for I-55 off of Harlem Avenue. It appeared to be a two lane ramp. We took the right lane behind a white van. Very quickly we discovered that the right lane was separated from the on-ramp by a curb and did not, in fact, allow one access to the Stevenson Expressway. In fact it led down below Harlem to what appeared to be a frontage road. Frustrated we followed the van under Harlem and beyond, seeing no return access. Hoping to connect with Cicero further East we kept going. Eventually we came to a recycling plant where the road curved around and ran along the Chicago River. The van turned into the plant and we headed on. Logically since we had seen no turn or exit from our access road there had to be something ahead. The road, if I may call it that, kept going. Steve, who had planned to spend the evening after getting home playing video games, instead got to hone his driving skills by slaloming between potholes that could have footprints left some local Godzilla beast. The road got darker and rougher. It seemed to be narrowing and becoming less paved. It looked the kind of place where you saw wise guys dump bodies or do clandestine deals. Soon we were convinced that if we went just a little further there would be no road at all. That van we followed down surely wouldn't have come down if there were no way back up. So we turned around, figuring that if worst came to worst (from a driving, not a wise guys, perspective) we could risk going up the one way ramp we had taken down from Harlem. It didn't appear that there was any kind of traffic rush to where we were. Following the road back we saw a sign directing us back to Harlem just before we would have gone under it again. Cleverly, the sign was completely obscured from the other side by bushes so we had missed it and thus won a chance at adventure. We turned up the ramp and successfully accessed the Stevenson from the other side. In an hour or so we were home and my St. Antoine errantry was at an end. It was a good trip and I'm glad Jenn brought me down.