Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wow! Saddam has been executed. That was far quicker than I thought it would be. To be fair, he didn't crumble at the end. The guy was evil by any measure, but that doesn't mean he would be simple to understand. How does someone justify to themselves what he had done? By every account, his kids (the psychopaths) and grandkids (not so much) describe him as an excellent father and grandfather. How can this be? How can a person perpetrate such evil and then go home and bounce the kids on his knee? Is that massive rationalization, or is evil so innate to man that we can section it off like an orange? The latter, I suppose.

Gives one chills...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Senator Siplin, who for some reason is still in office (don't ask me why), is sponsoring a bill to make it legal for felons who have served their sentence to be able to vote again. Self interest on his own felonious self, or just a good idea?

Maybe both. Recitivism aside, large segments of poor communities are peopled by ex-felons, and in a few, overwhelmingly peopled. Between illegal aliens (who shouldn't have the right to vote ever) and felons, poor communities - who most need a voice - don't have a legislative voice. I'm not sure what the fear is for ex-felons voting; do they have an agenda that we don't? I'd think those that do wouldn't vote anyway.

They've served their sentences, so give them back the ability to vote.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas is an amazing time. Nothing blunts the spirit. Not the year I was whipping up our traditional enough-food-to-feed-a-third-world-nation breakfast, and as I was cooking, the kids start throwing up, then Lynette follows, leaving me the sole person able to eat this monstrous breakfast... that was 2003, and it was still a good Christmas (even the rest of the family enjoyed it once they felt a little better).

This year we spent the day at SeaWorld... well, part of the day. It began to rain and even our rain slickers didn't keep the wet off. Still, we had a great time, came home and made a fire and played the game of Life while pigging out (a Christmas constant). The kids said "this was the best Christmas EVER" like they do every Christmas.

The secret to that overwhelming spirit of Christmas is, of course, no matter how much goes "wrong," no matter what tragedy befalls us, we start from such a high platform of blessing that any response other than "best ever" is an exercise in futility. Imagine the most prolific blizzard ever, snow drifting to continental levels... that's our level of blessing.

Christmas, the commemoration of the blessing of all blessings, the babe in a manger, is also a reminder to look back and forward and exult in our God's goodness and mercy.

"Embarrassment of riches" is one way to say it, but that embarrassment forgets that these blessings aren't accidental happenstance, but intentional gifts from on high. That transforms embarrassment to wonder and awe, the proper response to every day, not just Christmas.

(Another blessing of Christmas, I forego my usual rants for gentle musings...)

Monday, December 18, 2006

As you age, your memory turns into swiss cheese (which isn't to say my brain has become holy, but holey). I'd forgotten my password, but really I'd forgotten my username, which is different than my screen name, which Lynette wants me to change because she doesn't do the blogger thing and feels the same way about blogging that I do about Christmas lights. (Anybody now how to change the screen name?)

So I'll be back to posting soon, I think.

Perhaps about Mannheim Steamroller, who puts on a GREAT concert and props to my in-laws for being unbelievably generous! What a fantastic night! All the kids want to play instruments now (and this big kid).

I've figured out why I like MS so much but not other Christmas music. Mannheim gets rid of the sentimental sappy stuff and fills it with innovation and power. I LOVE seeing talent infused with brilliance infused with passion.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Somebody explain body piercing to me, please.

Ear piercing is vaguely okay, I guess. Silly, but okay (though I think people with pierced ears can't complain about body piercings as "immoral" as some have. Ears or naval, what's the difference?).

Nose studs are simply disgusting. It's like a sparkly zit. Look, noses are necessary items, and a bad honker can be a real bummer for the owner, but really, noses aren't supposed to draw attention to themselves. A nose stud says "hey! Look at me! I produce snot and mucus, so can you imagine what the other side of this stud looks like?" And what happens when you sneeze? Does the person beside you suddenly get shot by a snotty stud? And when you have a cold, it's bad enough to have things running out of the two natural holes, why add a third?

Eyebrow rings or barbells anywhere: things that get crusty should not be impaled on your body. This applies to bellybutton rings, too. Exactly why do you want people looking at your midsection? Does naval jelly really need to be stapled in?

Tongue jewelry: I don't need this explained. I don't WANT this explained. It's a form of advertising I can do without.

Restaurant owners - have your servers remove all piercing jewelry before they come to work - accept maybe earring studs (there is a difference with ear studs. They don't draw attention to the ears unless only one is worn or it's really gaudy. They subtly frame the face and are therefore acceptable.) I, for one, find them grotesque and they put me off my feed... good for my flabby tummy, but not for your revenues.

Tattoos can be okay as long as they're subtle and out of the way, and if the wearer takes into account skin drift so they don't end up somewhere strange or misshapen. Big ones, multiple allbody ones or rude ones just advertise the wearer is shortsighted. Same rules for necklines should govern tattoos: think about where they draw the eye. "V" shaped tattoos point the eye down; if your sure you will always want people looking at your butt - even when you're fifty years old - then go ahead at your own risk. Tasteful tattoos of small size that will fit EVERY occasion that they are seen for the rest of your life are okay. I've seen a few that are quite pretty, normally ankle tats of a rose or other tasteful flowers. I saw a Tweety bird ankle tat at a formal meeting once that seemed inappropriate for the occasion, so choose wisely if you choose at all.

If you DID have a tattoo, what would it be? I once told my nephew that he should pick something that applies to him now and would always apply. At his age, I would have picked either a Superman symbol or a Comedy/Tragedy mask. Supes would be out of place too often, but the masks, if in a subtle shade on my shoulder would be cool. Even the changing size of my skin there could have an interesting effect. I'd probably do it if Lynette wouldn't mind, but she does so I won't. You?

Speaking of perspective, I put our Christmas lights up today. I do this for Lynette and the kids. Not sure what is missing in my DNA, but Christmas decorations are of no interest to me. It has nothing to do with them having little to do with the birth of Christ, or even that they consume kilowatt hours. I don't hate them, or love them. They exist in an emotional null state for me. Take 'em or leave 'em.

I can't even watch movies about outdoing the neighbors in lights and decorations. The motivation totally escapes me.

There are certain "Christmas" things I can't stand. Oversize plastic Nativity scenes. Eggnog (what the heck is that stuff?). Christmas songs on the radio (except for Manheim Steamroller - those guys ROCK). Fruitcake (but everybody does).

So while the entire neighborhood goes light-crazy, the only thing that moves me about it is confusion. Like I said, there's something missing in my DNA.

There is ONE Christmas decoration I think is amazingly beautiful. Snow. The real thing, not the Miami export. Seattle is packed with it. My family is enjoying (!) an unseasonal couple of feet of the white stuff.

Speaking of my family, we didn't have a lot of Christmas traditions. The most beloved is molasses popcorn balls. I'm afraid to eat them because I'm fond of keeping my teeth, but that says "CHRISTMAS" to me unlike anything that lights up (except my kid's faces Christmas morning. We're foregoing presents this year for SeaWorld annual passes, though, so they'll be beaming at Shamu instead of presents.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

If you were to shrink down, down, down, past the atomic level and into the quantum foam, you would encounter the uncertainty principle, and just by observing things bring them into being. Supposedly at the quantum level, possibilities flit about like hyperactive fleas, and just the act of seeing one changes the probable to a certainty.

Complete and utter balderdash, of course (and therefore probably true...)

You encounter the same phenomena every moment of every day without shrinking at all. I am convinced that reality is only 3% "real" and 97% attitude.

If life were an Everlastinggobstopper, that little tiny seed center is barren fact and the bazillion layers of sugar and coloring is all how we FEEL about it. If we believe life is glorious, it is. If we believe life is a hoover, it is.

Think about it: try to strip perception down to just the .03 that is real. If you think "wow, it really is glorious" you haven't actually gotten to the 3%, you're still layering attitude on it. That .03 is pure, uncolored, unemotional fact. It is the real creation with no nod to the Creator. I suspect it's what lower animals exist on (not higher animals, like dogs, who also color their world good or bad, or cats, who believe they ARE the world) and that we can never even approach.

Hindus believe that existence is completely illusion, at the will of the gods. While close, I can't agree. I think each individual existence is an illusion at the will or unconscious of that individual. There is a bedrock fact of reality, created by God, and there are 6 billion illusions created by each person (though influenced by God's sovereignty). My illusion is not your illusion, and both religion and its successor "civilization" strive to synch the illusions up (the failure of which is responsible for the current war - which has its own uncertainty principle since it is whatever people think it is, which certainly isn't the same in any two cases).

Christianity, which I don't believe is a religion but a relationship, aligns the illusions to God's reality, which is more than just earthly fact and is in fact the unifying theory that brings together physical and metaphysical (containing emotion, spirit, supernatural and natural) but does so in part here, and complete in heaven. The sad thing is that even in the church a plurality of illusion exists, almost completely unidentifiable as differing until the proper divination of the Word - that terrible two-edge sword - cleaves them apart. Not just denominations, mind you, but individual understandings within the same pew.

Praise God our inclusion in the body of Christ is a work of God and not ourselves. Heaven would be pretty empty if it was.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ah, voter frustration.

I was on my high and mighty horse, with the full intention of NOT voting for Ric Keller. His campaign was moronic, his ads insulted the intelligence of the voters (though the ads that WEREN'T from his campaign, but were in favor of him anyway, were quite good) and I was going to pointedly not vote for him (as much as I like Charlie Stuart as a person, I wasn't going to vote for him either, because of his politics. I was going to write in Bill Hufford or John Stemberger because I both like them and admire their politics. With Keller, I think he's slime even if I do agree with his politics... say, is that libel? Or since I can back up the slime assertion, is that okay????).

So I make my way through the driving rain to cast my unvote for Keller and mostly reluctant votes for the other republicans (I don't like many of them, either, with the exception of Katherine Harris, whom I do like and will probably lose)...

... and Keller isn't on my ballot. I'm not in his district.

Righteousness belongs to the Lord; self-righteousness is doomed to fail.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

We have a Japanese neighbor who, with quite a few of his countrymen, has a near obsession with Bonzai trees. The Bonzai is a small plant that the gardner carefully snips and binds to shape into a very personal expression. Bonzai clipping is a form of active meditation.

Many Americans have a similar obsession, though it tends to be informational rather than meditative. We carefully shape it with the same diligent care as the most meticulous Japanese gardner. It is uniquely us. Very personal, and highly revealing: it is our Favorites list.

Think about it. Just by clicking the icon, I can read all about you. Mine, for example, has several writing sites and blogs, church sites and blogs, business sites, a few comic strips, some educational addresses and the library. Sums me up pretty well.

A good friend and former co-worker had a list that spanned a dozen columns. It was almost beyond the use of a Favorites list and into a Internet Listing. Which described him well... or wells :)

What does your Favorites say about you?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My legion of fan has requested a new post....

I'd like to dig into something meaty, but I've got drywall to hang.

Okay, cosmic coincidink, bad luck, or is Someone trying to teach me a lesson?
Jennifer, a wonderful friend from Seattle , is out for her annual visit. She's done just about everything here over the years EXCEPT SeaWorld. So, today's the day, BUT first we had to buy the tickets.

Things to ponder:

* Buying tickets online rocks.

* Not reading everything doesn't rock; in fact, were it not for a phone call, it would be quite expensive. I'm buying a ticket for Jennifer (she's reimbursing me, so it's not generous on my part or anything) - a couple nitpicks - you've got to search all over for a single day ticket. It isn't in Out of Town visitors, it's in International visitors, AND you can't buy a Resident ticket in the same transaction as the International ticket - so I'm filling out the forms, and fill out what looks like the "name on the card" section, but it's not. It's the name of the ticket holder. I bought myself a ticket when I'm not going. Oops.

*Customer Service rocks. I call them and she says she'll catch it when it comes through and cancel. She does an hour or so later and calls to confirm. She asked if I have any other questions: I ask if she, as an Anheiser-Busch employee gets free beer.

* A-B employees get free beer! I don't like beer, but that's quite a benefit (free checking is nice, but...)

* So we buy tickets for today, which is the last full day she's been here. So, what happens that hasn't happened in months? It rains. Hard.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Allow me to quote a venerable document: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (italics mine for emphasis.)

Okay, since in the past I give my opinion and get blank stares for responses, the responses have to come first...

Are these rights, as stated, true? Are we equal, and do we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Give it some thought - you too, ol' lady Young - and post your responses.


(and a corollary: if you don't believe in a Creator, do these enumerated rights belong to you?)

Friday, September 29, 2006

"Blog" is not in the Blogger Spell Check.

Were it human, that would be a fascinating psychological telltale...

I'm probably going to get killed for this, but...

Warning: Totally Politically Incorrect.

Look at the different continents: Europe - heavily influenced by Christianity; Eurasia (Russia) moderately influenced by Christianity. (Parts are influenced by Islam, which other than the extremists desire to kill everyone else, has a very strong moral base).North and South America - heavily influenced by Christianity.

Africa - Little to no influence by Christianity.
Asia (Occidental) - No influence by Christianity.

Africa - Unless a cheap cure for AIDS is discovered soon, Africa will be no more. The pandemic so devastating now will doom the next generation and all thereafter.

Asia - Those without totalitarian governments are so perverse, so decadent, it defies description. The practices of Thailand alone are Hell on Earth (and because I know some young people read this blog, I won't enumerate them).

I'm not saying they are cursed by God, rather cursed by the unrestrained depravity that IS restrained to a large degree in the Christian-influenced nations (yes, there is horror even here, but it is NOTHING next to Asia).

I have had conversations with people who think the Church has had little influence in our society, but I think Asia and Africa put the lie to that. There are ministries in both places, to be sure, though none have risen to a national influence yet. Also interesting, is the different "flavor" of Asia and Africa. Asia seems to delight in decadence, whereas Africa (despite horrific violence) has somewhat innocently adopted promiscuity into their culture. So prevalent, in fact, that AIDS can't be halted (partially because of ignorance and largely because once Pandora opens that particular box, closing it is impossible).

What will the rest of the world look like after the Rapture, if such a thing exists, when all Christians are removed from Earth? Secular morality is based in what's good for society; so what happens when society breaks down?

If the Shining City takes residence on the Earth without wiping other cities out, what will that world look like?

I believe strongly that totalitarian governments are evil... still, they halt - in their legalism - a complete slide to decadence (except in themselves). The Biblical ramifications are fascinating...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So, the kids are swimming in the pool, happily screaming and playing while the DOG runs like a maniac around and around the pool, desperate to play but terrified to jump in.

Metaphor for life?

Could be...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hey, by the way, blogs are supposed to be commented on. It isn't just my opinion, it's yours, too.

So comment already!

Infatuation vs. Love

There’s no such thing as love at first sight. Infatuation at first sight? Definitely. And I suppose that infatuation can segue smoothly into love making it feel like love at first sight, but I am convinced that love takes years to fall into.

What got me on this train of thought was someone’s contention that love is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Something goes off in your brain and someone you wouldn’t look at twice before is suddenly the most exquisite creature on earth. Doesn’t matter who, it was just the first opposite sex member (in most cases) that you laid eyes on.

Patent hogwash, but it does raise the question of why we are attracted to someone. It can’t just be looks, because ugly people fall in love (thank the Lord. Thank you, Lord). As you might have guessed, I think I know. It could be Divine Intervention, but that aside, I think it is body language. Yes, pretty helps, but I believe subtle mannerisms, expressions, gestures and body movements are what attracts us, and, in fact, infatuates us.

Body language consists of thousands upon thousands of tiny and large movements. We subconsciously catalog body language of people we spend time with, assigning them values. That funny person we really enjoy moves his shoulders just so? Mom crinkled her eyes in that peculiar way? And thousands of attributes, most so subtle you don’t even consciously see them, from people we really care about (and those we don’t) go into our mental computer and creates a subconscious list. The reason your buddy has a girlfriend who makes you shake your head and wonder “what does he see in her?” is that she had a preponderance of checkmarks on your friend’s list (there are other things on that list as well, of course, but once a certain threshold is reached we become infatuated).

So what is infatuation? It’s your subconscious saying this person has the hallmarks of someone who can get our motor running. Infatuation is potential; love is the reality. Love is complete knowledge of, and complete acceptance of another. God has the “complete” part down, and we lowly humans have to substitute “some knowledge” and “mostly acceptance”. Infatuation knows little and ignores much. Love that knows and tolerates isn’t love. Moving from infatuation to love takes time and more time (knowledge isn’t gained in a day).
Men and women handle this transition differently, however.

Women will give and give and give to be accepted.

Men are happy to take and take and take just for the greed of it.

Women want the acceptance more than to be known (but you can’t have one without the other) and many will do anything to get what they think is acceptance.

Men want sex, and give counterfeit acceptance and forego knowledge and quite often food to get it.

Yes, we’re shallow creatures. Pity us.

What does this mean? It means that if you get intimate before marriage, the guy isn’t ever going to move from infatuation to love, and the girl isn’t going to be able to tell. She sees love as him wanting to be with her, talk to her, etc. He gives all that to get what he wants, which ain’t love, baby. He’ll say it, he’ll even likely believe it, but it isn’t love. Proof: if the intimate girl breaks it off with the guy, he then has to evaluate a few things: Is she worth waiting for? Quite probably he’s going to look at the reality that is his girlfriend for the first time and do a quick tally of good and bad. If he doesn’t try to restore the relationship then the bad outweighed the good. If he comes back then either the good outweighed the bad or he’s desperate or too lazy to look elsewhere. IF they get back together and resume intimacy, he’s not going to move forward. If they get back together without sexual intimacy, he can finally get on the road to figuring out if he loves the girl or not.

I’m willing to bet that a lot of men aren’t really in love with their wives when they get married. They think so, but they probably haven’t done the math yet. Forever changes things, though, and so does marriage. Necessity makes both of them whip out their calculators as they get to REALLY know each other (dating doesn’t do it, living together doesn’t do it, marriage is its very own kind of animal) and now they have to figure out if they can accept each other. This is, I think, the reason for the divorce statistics.

The safe bet, then, is courtship, with the emphasis of actually getting to know each other without the blinders of sex getting in the way. It’s risky because you reveal yourself (to be known) and acceptance isn’t guaranteed to follow. My wife and I are proof that this approach works. We made conscious decisions to get to know each other, and there were critical junctions when acceptance had to be carefully weighed. We called it off twice to gain the distance to really figure it out, obviously getting back together each time. Lucky for me. J

The really cool thing is that in a vibrant, growing relationship, the rush of infatuation can co-exist with love, because there are always new frontiers to learn about each other, and marriage is a covenant to accept anything in the other even if (when) it’s difficult.

Capital Punishment

I’ve finally figured it out.

Some background: Capital Punishment as a concept gives me no problems, I believe the State has the responsibility, or at least the authority, to condemn someone to the first death for such things as murder, treason, child abuse, and rap music to name a few.

Take a step closer, though, and I start struggling. In reality it isn’t the State executing someone, it is a person doing it. People killing people just isn’t good. Even within war, where it is a necessary evil, it’s still evil (though I believe no judgment is levied on the soldier). Even if you develop a machine to do it, whoever turns on/plugs in the machine is the executioner.

Another step closer and I see some of the scum on death row, I think death by dull spoon is perfectly acceptable, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve figured out the answer.
We have someone provide the means of life – not death – to the death row prisoner. A study is done to figure out the minimum amount of dirt, nutrients, sunlight, water and seeds is required to sustain someone on a vegetarian diet (both for them and the garden. Minimum levels, only). And that’s all they get. We can even give them a book saying how to do it, I suppose, and leave them alone forever. If they can manage to get their garden to produce, they can stay alive. If they can’t, they die.

Ah, you’re thinking death by dehydration and/or starvation is cruel and unusual punishment. Not so. The Terri Schivo (sp) case took that argument away (and if you say, ‘but she was brain dead,’ then you’re saying conditions excuse C&UP, and isn’t THAT a dangerous precedent. I could say the death-rower is morally-dead and there you go.)

No one, then, is responsible for the death of the condemned except himself. By virtue of (or lack thereof) their crime, they have said they want to live outside society, and this simply fulfills that. If they are diligent and disciplined, they can make a go of it. If they still have a crop failure, that’s an act of God and who are we to stand in the way of that? (Also, to qualify for the DP, physical evidence as well as - or instead of - witnesses is required. Witness only means a maximum of life imprisoned).


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wheee! The Primaries are over and there is absolutely no one worth voting for.

Two democrats are running for governor (one just calls himself a republican).

The Cheeseburger Congressman gets another shot to do absolutely nothing of value for another few years.

Florida will be in the hands of liberals and do-nothings.



I love the fall. September's okay and October rocks (and not just because I was born smack dab in the middle of it).

I love theme parks. They're a lot of fun, good family stuff, and a lot of fun (I'm easily amused).

I just don't like them together. In the fall, theme park billboards - which are normally quite creative - give way to the most vile of graphics.

When I was a kid, the Johnsons at the IGA store mounted what was to my child's eye a humongous Frankenstein Monster on the end of aisle 4. It flat out terrified me. I knew it wasn't real, I knew it was harmless, but I hated it. It was just a big, green stereotypical monster.

Not so the theme park billboards. Universal Monsters were great. Far removed from real life in fantasy and time, the were the ultimate escapism. But serial killers, bloody hands holding bloody cellphones, psychotic vagabonds with grotesque expressions, demented grandmas bearing knives... these are neither fantasty, nor removed from our time. Why glorify these things?

If they want them inside their theme parks, no problem; but on billboards that we drive our kids by? Along the highways I drive to work on?

No thanks. No thanks, at all.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not sure if this is against the rules or not for blogspace, but in shameless self-promotion, I published my third manuscript with Prevail Press.

Burning Meadows is a screenplay I wrote 3 years ago. It's a little weird, even for me. Check out and click on the screenplay to go to the shopping cart where you can read an excerpt. Feel free to buy it, of course, but it isn't a G-rated script. Today it would be a PG, but I'd consider it a PG-15 or so.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Took the kids to see "The Wild" at the cheap theaters.

I'm not going to bother reviewing this movie (other than the Computer Animation is amazing, if the directing and script are only so-so. There were times I wasn't sure it was animation. That and wasn't this movie already made as Madascar?) Rather, I'm going to use it as a springboard to decry the loss of Disney Animation, and the degeneration of comedy in general.

Disney's 2-D Animation truly transended the medium. What it lacked in visual depth, it made up for in emotional depth. Even the turgid Pocohontas gave the characters a detailed character arc. These things weren't just cartoons; they delved into strong themes, explored deeply into the human condition - even when they were "only" animals. The humor was often intelligent, and motivations were complex. They inspired Dreamworks to reach for the same in their 2-D movies.

Then came computer animation.

To be fair, Pixar has avoided the pitfalls of the CGI trap, and Ice Age and Polar Express strove for more than yucks... but most of the imitators have fallen into the clutches of today's pathetic excuse for comedy.

I tuned into a radio show trying to pick the top five funniest movies of all time. As soon as Porkies was entered as a shoo-in, I changed the channel. "Stupid" comedies have replaced intelligent comedies - largely because Adam Sandler, today's biggest star by box office grosses, has proven the market for such atrocities.

Consider what passes for sit-coms these days. Even the smart ones quickly devolve into purient bedroom humor and bodily function funnies. Grace Under Fire, The Drew Cary Show, Sports Night, to name a few, had strong first seasons with smart humor... then they quickly devolved into sad, unwatchable trash.

Some might say it can't be done -- keeping comedy out of the toilet is too demanding. But Barney Miller, The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H (arguably), and a dozen others that stayed smart and clean because the censors said they had to, came out with the funniest series of all time.

And so producers look around at what's successful (because there aren't many alternatives) and decide Computer Animated movies are too expensive to risk being too smart (which says so much about their opinion of us) so they save money on script and concept and dash out something that rakes in the bucks but not the accolades.

It remains to be seen if anyone will recognize the void that Disney created in leaving the stories that only 2-D animation can master, and start creating 2-D movies with depth again. I admit, my hopes aren't very high...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I admit to feeling a bit discouraged last week after Children's Ministry. I was teaching the 4th and 5th graders and started talking about the Gospel. I got a few blank stares, so I threw out the quicky questions: "What's the Gospel?" expecting several kids to answer quickly so we could move on.

Blank faces.

A raised hand.

"The Word of God?"


"The Bible?"

Okay, maybe I wasn't asking right. "What is the Gospel message?"

No answers.

"Gospel means Good News. What's the Good News?"

A tentative hand. "God loves us?"

"Give me a little more, please."

Finally, my daughter answered "We're all sinners, but because God loves us, he gave Jesus on the Cross to die for our sins so we can be with God forever." (Proud father moment: She's a helper in the class, so she isn't supposed to answer the questions unless no one else can.)

We discussed this for a bit, then I asked a question about a key concept that we had just spent fifteen minutes discussing in detail. No one could answer (except Charli. Wow. First anger in the post below, now rampant pride.)

Is Children's Ministry really just babysitting? Do parents not feed their children breakfast on Sundays, starving their brains from working? Am I a lousy teacher (I admit to trending mostly to lecture - spirited lecture, but still lecture - because the purpose of that class is to prepare the kids for sitting through a sermon)? Or is this to be expected?

Feedback, please?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Things that really BUG me about traffic!

I'm in the car 1 to 2 hours a day, depending on traffic and my always errant sense of direction, and every day I see things that cheese me off.

In assending order:
10) Nose pickers. You'd think every adult would know by now that windows are see-through and the index fingers are NOT the finger to use to mine for "gold". Roll your nostril with your thumb - it's just as effective and as long as you don't turn your nose inside out, it's not as offensive.

9) People on cellphones. How can they expect to brake for me when I'm on mine?

8) Putting on make-up when you drive. It's not so bad when women do it, but men? Knock it off!

7) Eating. Look, certain foods aren't meant for driving and eating. String cheese is a n0-no, as is a foot-long sub with no wrapper. And especially not "gold" from number 10...

6) Reading. Okay, I read just about everywhere. Walking from car to work, at meals, in certain rooms that shall remain nameless, but NOT. IN. THE. DRIVER'S. SEAT!

5) Public displays of affection. 'Nuff said.

4) Rap "music". There are seismic faults around here and one of these guys is going to set them off!

3) Kerry/Roberts stickers. YOU LOST! (Being a loser is bad enough, advertising it is a whole 'nuther level...)

2) Hummers (sorry Mike). Those with soldier envy should go to Iraq.

and the number one thing that REALLY. CHEESES. ME. OFF...

1) SMOKERS! They are the reason I don't drive a Hummer because every time I see one of these idiots toss their butts out the window I wanna go all Smokey Bear on their butts - Down shift, climb some chrome and crush all those cigarettes they haven't lit yet - those ones in their soon to be squishy pockets! Somebody tell me why there isn't a bizzilion dollar fine for incendiary littering? They're DNA's right on the cancer end of the butt (and why would anyone stick something called a "butt" in their mouth????) it's not like we couldn't prove who's being a jerk!

Coincidently, the sermon last Sunday was on anger, but I was teaching so I didn't hear it. Cannya tell?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Grizzly Prancer-Spot has joined our family. The 3 month old, full-blooded Chi has already wormed his way into our hearts (wait, don't use the word "Wormed" in a sentence about a dog...)

In a twist on computer dating, we found our new puppy online with I didn't realize the posted picture was life-sized...

Rainy will never be forgotten, but I'm sure he would have welcomed Grizzly as whole-heartedly as we have.

Pirates – the Dentist’s Nightmare

Y’know, it’s sad when the guy who edits the preview knows more about what makes the movie work than the director. This movie felt like a nice, big, roomy house stuffed to the rafters with moving boxes. Really dirty moving boxes. Pirates is a crowded film.


Back when CGI first hit the screens, the question became “when will CGI replace actors?” This was a broad step in that direction, and I liked Davy Jones a lot more than anyone else, and I didn’t really like him all that much. Loved the way his face moved, and the accent was kinda cool, but I’m left wondering how in the world they forgot what made the first Pirates movie so much fun?

Curse of the Black Pearl had charm. The thing about pirate movies is our ironic suspension of the knowledge that pirates were hard-butt, evil creatures. We romanticize them something fierce, and part of the romance is that a pirate ENJOYS being a pirate. That’s what “swashbuckling” is all about. Jack was a dastardly fellow, but he LOVES being dastardly.

No one enjoyed themselves in this movie. It started out dour (and I admit to missing something. Was Liz upset because her wedding was rained out? Or was Will arrested and prevented from showing up? I felt like I was missing something a lot in this film). And our beloved Captain Jack Sparrow never enjoyed himself after getting the black spot on his hand (the “I can still see fine” joke went over everyone’s head at the sold out theater we were in. Partially due to poor delivery, but mostly to mis-editing. Did they gloss over it for the kid’s sake? But no child should see this movie…) It seemed Davey Jones’s goal to crush out enjoyment because he had none, but that’s the quality that a villain must have to be engaging, not just special effects.

The writers of this movie are a team for whom I have a great deal of respect, so I’m assuming the whole cannibal section has a purpose in the next film, because otherwise it was a half-hour of useless stuff. A half hour to cover the story point that Jack had to be stationary for awhile so Will could find him?

And how is it that the monkey is still undead, but Barbosa is not? Was that the bit at the end of the credits in the last one? He stole a piece of gold, so he’s cursed again? How (and why) did Jack get him?

Bootstrap is back, but now I have to go back to the first script to see if I can recall exactly why his blood was needed to break the curse. I actually felt for him, though. Being tied to a cannon unable to live and unable to die… a chilling image. Myth building is a strength of Pirates and they came through again (though why the Flying Dutchman? Legend has it that it was a Dutch captain twirling around the Cape of Good Hope, forever doomed to sail his ghost ship because of his blaspheme. I suppose since most know the name and few the legend, that T&T squatted on the mental real estate of the Flying Dutchman to give it some resonance).

I’m notorious for blasting movies, and it appears I’ve infected Lynette. While everyone around us was praising it as a good film, we looked at each other and said, “huh?”

The next movie should be better, though. No one knows how to chew the scenery like Mr. Rush...

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I was pre-disposed and the director used that to his advantage. Unlike Superman, which was sunk by the baggage, Poseidon got tricky with it. I loved the original Poseidon Adventure, watching it on TV as a kid several times. It was a star studded cast, most notabley Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, and Red Buttons. In my memory, at least, Shelley was a pathetic, annoying woman who did a long underwater swim. As I recall she wasn’t a survivor (but I have a bad memory. It could be I just didn’t want her to survive).

In these survivor movies, the director introduces his characters (in this movie a little too fast and formulaic in my opinion, but it served…) and the audience makes its list of who lives and who dies. In a remake, you also try to match up who is playing who in the update. (Incidentally, I really like every one of the actors in this cast – the main reason I saw it.)

My list was:

Josh Lucas: He’s going to live.

Kurt Russell: He’s going to die.

Richard Dryfus: He’s tricky. As a jilted gay man who wants to kill himself, he could well be a twist on the pathetic Shelley Winters character. While it would be ironic if he lived (since he originally wanted to die) I thought he was going to die, heroically. The director really played on this. Richard ended up being Red Buttons. Fooled me.

The Boyfriend: I was figuring he would live, but thought he could die. Wasn’t sure. Again, the director played well on this.

The Daughter: Absolutely has to live.

The Mother: Also has to live.

The Little Boy: Absolutely-absotively has to live.

The Stowaway: I (forgive the expression) missed the boat on this one. I thought she’d live, because she had reason to live (her sick brother). Her claustrophobia edged her over to pathetic, though, but by THAT time I was convinced Richard was Shelley.

The Crewman and Lucky Larry may as well have worn red shirts ala Star Trek, because you knew they’d be the first to go. (Do NOT like the way the crewman went. Understand the choice, just disagree with it.)

Because of the rinky-dink start, I thought we had a poor director. Again, I think he used that well, because from then on I was underestimating him. By giving the stowaway good reason to live, I figured Dryfus had to die. So much so that when the stowaway lay there getting mouth-to-mouth I figured she had to come to. It was a race through the first and second act to see which would live and which would die – Dryfus or the girl. By making it the stowaway who died, the director was putting everyone on notice. “See? She had reason to live and she didn’t live! No one’s safe!” From that moment on, this movie was a winner. If he could kill her, then he could kill the kid (but, no, not really. Movies haven’t changed that much…)

In my opinion, there was only one major flaw (besides the convenient raft beside their departure tube – better would have been a ton of life boats. All empty.)… and that flaw was magnified by the strong cast. Where this movie was weak was finding the humor. You’ve got Dryfus, who is one of the funniest actors available, Russell and Lucas who are both very comedically talented, and the daughter (don’t know her name, sorry) who had a flair for it as well. Yes, it’s a disaster movie, but humor finds its way into anything, and the director should have trusted his actors to find the balance. As a result, the movie was good, but not great… and I think it could have been great.

Characters: C+ (they had to be stock characters, but these actors could all deliver more)
Director: B
Story: B+
Effects: C+
Overall: B

Movie Review Rationale

If I’m going to do movie reviews on this blog, then I’d like to lay some straight sticks to give readers of this blog (both of them) an understanding of my presumptions and process. Movie making is really hard.

No one has any idea what will be a hit and what won’t. There are some good ideas out there, and there are some stinkers. I’m thinking if you’re going to spend between 45 and 250 million dollars on a film, then for the investors alone (let alone the viewers) you should do the best job of bulletproofing everything that you can.

And that isn’t easy. A hundred thousand things can and will go wrong. The actors phone it in, are difficult, can’t act, can’t act today; the effects don’t work (which made JAWS a better movie, since it meant showing the shark less and building suspense more), the weather won’t cooperate, the star won’t cooperate… So you’d think nailing down the one thing that CAN be nailed down would be a safe bet.

That, of course, is the script. I understand that what’s written isn’t often actually shot, but it should be a good road map for the director. And it’s all about the director. A movie is a director’s medium. A good director can make bad actors good and good actors bad (anyone remember Tightrope? The director is SO BAD he makes Sean Connery boring. Something I wouldn’t have thought possible). You may think it’s a good actor that pulls a bad story along but if the director doesn’t use that footage, the actor’s in soup.

Tim Burton aside, most directors understand story. Nail that down, make sure you shoot it, and make sure the editor cuts it and you may not have a blockbuster, but you should have a good movie (not necessarily an enjoyable movie).

So my reviews will occasionally look at the actor, often at the director and ALWAYS at the story. And it won’t be often, because I don’t have much time to actually see very many movies...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Splashing in the Desert

Let's all take a lesson in patience. The ugly battle in Israel and Lebanon are the siblic splashing of kids in a pool. One splashes the other, the other doesn't like it and pretty soon water's flying everywhere while the UN plays the part of the little, smelly neighbor kid sitting on the steps yelling, "Nana-nana-booboo!" (with about the same effect).

And why is this happening? Because Abraham and Sarah tried to rush things by throwing Hagar into the tent. Next thing you know, Ishmael - father of the Arab/Muslims - is stirring up trouble. Don't blame the kid; he didn't ask to be born (though upon reaching majority he should take SOME responsibility). That leaves Abraham with egg on his face and us with shells all over the floor. The brass kind.

As a branch grafted onto the tree, I don't have any real understanding beyond shallow metaphors. Largely because the solutions that glow in the dark are still beyond my will (though, admittedly, it wouldn't take much to edge me over into the plutonium crowd. ANY more Ishmaelites leaving a stink on our doorstep and I'm all for the Middle Eastern black-glass parking lot.) No diving, no running and NO SPLASHING!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

JetSki's Rock! Went to some wonderful friend's home for lunch after church and ended up jetskiing all afternoon. They know what they're doing on ski's; Lynette and I puttered around and felt like thrill seekers by rolling over small waves. Meanwhile, Mike a Malissa spend as much time in the air as they do in the rootbeer colored water. The kids fried like bacon despite 30 spf sunblock and Lynette has eyestrain from looking out for gators. This, more than anything, said we were back in Florida. Sure, they have jetskis in Seattle, but you have to wear forty layers of neoprene to avoid frostbite.

Wound up the evening at a kid's program of music, singing and stagework. Kudos to the directors for getting two dozen kids to work together, and even more fun than the performance was seeing what two dozen kids thought was "cool". Too good!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Superman Returns - A Review

SPOILER WARNING – I’m going to talk about details of the film, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t read any further.

NITPICK WARNING – I’m going to make a lot of picky comments about the movie, so if this kind of thing bugs you… be warned.


Story: C
Effects: A+
Characters: C-

I enjoyed the film. It was okay, not great, not epic, not iconic, just okay. I think Singer made a mistake in trying to follow the Donner film. As good as it was at the time, it doesn’t play well as a modern movie. As a result, Singer was saddled with way too much baggage to make a great movie, since most of the problems stem from that baggage.

Things I Really Liked:
The effects were fantastic. You really can believe a man can fly (a quick nit-pick, though. Flying is incredible, floating has all sorts of problems. Has to do with Supes looking lighter than air. Way too much floating…)

Sound editing was absolutely fantastic. Effects and Sound make this movie worth seeing no matter what the story.

Lex Luthor – As much as I love Gene Hackman, his Luthor was the pits. He was an egotistical clown who showed no menace whatsoever. Somehow Kevin Spacey took the same approach and made it work wonderfully. This was baggage turned into art. I wanted a better reason to have Kitty around, but at least there was no Ned Beatty this time.

Jimmy Olsen – This guy deserves an award. No one has ever made Jimmy work, in my opinion, but this guy makes him the most likeable character on the screen.

Heart and Soul – When the kid starts plunking this out, you expect that at some point in the film Clark will take up the other half. Having a bad guy do it was even better.

The costume – Routh is too skinny, and the cape needed a yellow S on the back, but I liked it anyway (except for the S’s on the heel of the boots. The belt, okay, cool, but the back of his boots?)

Where to begin? It’s going to sound like I hated this film, which I didn’t, but the problems! Oy!

It’s clear from the Kansas scenes and the New Krypton stuff that Singer was going for an epic feel. Unfortunately, he failed. Maybe the extended version will make that work. Singer doesn’t understand “epic” obviously. The shots of Kansas were beautiful. New Krypton was expansive. That’s scope, though, not epic. Singer tried to use silence to indicate great depth of soul and character, but all he got was a stiff Superman. We should have started on the graveyard of Krypton (a reference, which while evocative, doesn’t make much sense. The place blew up, what was there to return to?)

Let’s examine Story for a moment. Any story is constructed of story points. A story point is vital packet of information that you need to go onto the next story point and so on and so on. How a storyteller conveys that information, ideally with power, imagery and creativity, makes a story art. Singer skips over the first story point entirely (the information that Superman still considers Krypton “home”) and only alludes to the second point (Krypton really is dead and now Superman KNOWS that Earth is his home, which should make it a whole new ballgame, baby! Only it doesn’t). The third point is that Superman Returns! And that’s where things fall apart.

(Another nitpick while I’m there: Jor-El says he’s been dead for “thousands of your years” meaning he shot baby Kal-El off thousands of years ago, but Superman gets from Earth to Krypton and back in five years. ????)

The way it should have worked is Superman is back, he’s finally ready and excited to really take part in life on Earth so the very first person he should have sought out was Lois, expecting a joyful reunion… only to get a slap in the face (no physical pain for him, but tons of emotional pain, not to mention breaking Lois’ hand…). Wounded emotionally, he discovers that people who used to revere him are angry that he left. Then he discovers that Lois kicked it all off with her Pulitzer Prize winning article. That drives him back to Kansas and his mother where he finds the fortitude to go back and win what’s his.

Only that’s not what we get. He lands in Kansas first. Avoids him mom for awhile and remembers his boyhood (which was cool, but what was the point????).

The whole Lex Luthor thing was great (despite Kitty the ditz. Why did he have her around again?)

Then we have the constant problem of Clark Kent. Who is Clark? Is he the real thing and Superman the mask or is Superman the real thing and Clark the mask? He’s too bumbling to be the real thing, but isn’t Clark who he is to interact with the world on a human level? Even sticking to the Donner story, he had the perfect excuse to come back from Lama land as a new guy – he “found himself” on the mountains. No, instead he’s still lame, and while he gets his job back on the strength of former employment, he never DOES anything. He doesn’t research the story he was assigned. He doesn’t do ANYTHING but moon over Lois. And I don’t know about you, but if my former immoral girlfriend from five years ago has a five year old son, the investigative reporter should probably have some alarm bells go off. Man, LEX figures it out before Superman even wonders (and why didn’t Jason react to Kryptonite?).

Lois. Yeah, whatever. If she bounces from Superman to Richard quick enough that no one suspects it isn’t his kid, then she’s got some issues, doesn’t she?

Richard. Same actor who does the X-Men’s Cyclops. He was okay, I guess.

The kid. Good job. Liked him. Not sure I’m thrilled about Superman and Son in the sequels.

Superman. I bet Brandon Routh is a good actor. He managed to capture the essence of Reeve’s Superman well, but he didn’t have the chance to actually do much besides play on wires and grimace when he’s in pain or lifting New Krypton. My complaints are with Singer’s choices. Superman and Lois had an intimate relationship and he’s distant and cool with her when they first meet (yes, a great homage to the Donner Lois/Supes interview, but we’re talking story here). Sigh.

The problem with Superman is always going to be how do you have anyone menace him? When a machine gun – while pretty to watch – presents no conflict, where can you go?

The dramatic question was “Does the World Need Superman?” Five minutes after the question is posed, the answer is graphically answered “YES!” and the movie is over five minutes into Act Two. After a night like that, the question then becomes “How Did the World Survive WITHOUT Superman?” and that’s never answered.

The whole Lex thing was fun to watch, but New Krypton didn’t look like such great real estate. Who wants to live on a crystal? Further, if Superman was so moved by the graveyard of Krypton, shouldn’t there have been something there about the difficulties of destroying the last vestige of his homeworld? That would tie it into the epic theme of home that this film should have embraced.

Another question is “Is Superman a Cad?” Answer: Yes. He just takes off to Krypton without telling anyone (re: Lois) why or what he’s doing? Because it’s too difficult. Wimp. Clark, meanwhile, tells everyone he’s off to Tibet but still comes back unchanged. Then Superman finds out he has a son, does some peeping and takes off. Lois wants to know if they'll ever see him around. “I’m always around.” I guess there has to be something for the next movie, but come on! Superdeadbeatdadman

So, Lois and Clark – non-starter
Lois and Superman – Cold and distant
Lois and Richard – Doomed
I could go down the list, but not a single relationship is in any way resolved. Superman is adulated again, but has no friends or loved ones and he’s leaving the two who need him.

It’s as if the director really doesn’t understand real relationships… oh, wait. It’s Bryan Singer. Silly me. Of course he doesn’t…

Still, go see the movie. It's pretty, it's a good ride, just a poor story.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

We're home!

I've got a lot to learn about blogging... I posted a couple on the Homeschool site that said we're home, but that was an error. Shoulda posted here.

We're home! Our housesitters scrubbed the house clean before they left, so they can housesit anytime they want for us. Even when we're still here!

Now to work. Lots to do, lots to do. A trip isn't over until everything's unpacked...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Greeting from Bozeman, MT. WOW is Montana pretty. It's almost enough to make one want to move here... maybe not almost even... hmmmmm.

We're two hours away from Yellowstone, so we'll have a leisurely morning and meander on down to the splendor of a place full of hot air and water (sounds like me...)

Friday, June 23, 2006

We leave Seattle in two hours. The trailer is hitched, most of the stuff is packed, and we'll be booking soon.

Had a quiet get-together with my sisters at Katie's house last night, which also happened to be her birthday. Too bad Katie's in Texas, but we had a good time anyway. :)

I've got a cold, Lynette is getting one, Aly has a rash, but we're going to enjoy our journey across America!

First Idaho, then Montana, Yellowstone for two days, Mt. Rushmore, Kansas City, Mammoth Caves for two days and the HOME!

Jennifer, something may be coming to house by FexEx or UPS this week. I'll see if I can get it delivered when we get back, but just in case, can you leave a note on the door for any deliveries to go to Terry (if that's okay with you, Terry).

Thanks and see you all soon!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We are down to our last week before the long drive back. We've felt like we've been running the whole time we've been here, but there's so many things to do and people to see that we haven't been able to fit in. We seem to get more stuffed in when we're here for a couple weeks than when we're here for over a month. Go figure.

Jon has taken it upon himself to try and resurrect our yard back home. Jen is clearing out the party animals as we speak. SunTrust is thoughtfully piling on the deadlines for July. My side clients are doing the same. My Orlando life is so full and we're not even there!

My sisters have covered every need, lavished us all with love, made us welcome at odd hours in their homes, and made me thrilled all over again to be part of this family.

Bi-coastal blessing! Hard to beat that!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

We needed to pour some more concrete to finish the stream in my parent's back yard, but considering the previous weather and the dark sky (going from ash grey to jet black clouds) we didn't dare risk it.

So of course, it's the one day it never rained. Of course, if we HAD mixed the concrete it WOULD have rained. In the Northwest you actually have that kind of power over the weather...

The fam is back from Portland! We're together again for the first time... (and wait until we get back to see what I mean...)

Mom asked me when we were heading back to Orlando and cried when I gave her the answer. :(

I never would have guessed this could go so fast...

A week and a half before driving back. !

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's drizzling.

Not again... still...

Well, maybe there were a few breaks. Like two nights ago when we were leaving Lynette's cousin's house and saw the neighbors lined up looking at the sky. I was thinking UFO, so I scanned the sky carefully. A neighbor saw me looking and breathed, "isn't it beautiful?"

I looked again and said, "what? The sunset?"

A ripple ran down the watchers. "Oooo! It's called a 'sunset'!

The little girl next to me asked, "Mister? What's a sunset?"

"It's... when the sun sets over the horizon..." I answered.

She seemed to chew on this for moment, then asked, "What's a 'sun', Mister?"

As one the crowd swivelled around to catch my answer.

Lynette and the kids are in Portland, Oregon visiting a good friend. I'm working. We've put 10,000 miles on the van since we left Orlando and I'm doing so much work for SunTrust that I'm considering putting in an expense account for mileage. At 35 cents a mile...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hello from the great Northwest! Remember that the camera adds ten or twenty pounds to anyone wearing a red baseball cap...
Florida folks: the white stuff is SNOW. :)

It's drizzling here. That's rain you can see but can't really feel. You can walk through it and barely get damp. It's like the moisture in the clouds became bored and decided to just hang around in the sky.

Lynette and the kids are off hiking with her dad and I'm at my sisters working and pirating someone's wireless network.

Have I mentioned what a wonderful family I have? And I'm not just saying that because they read this. It's almost enough to make us want to move back (but I refer you to the first paragraph which discusses a whopping reason I don't want to move back.).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The kids have now seen snow for the first time. Ben found it to be too cold...

We went camping with my sisters and brothers-in-law, they in their beautiful campers and we in our tent. We had a great day driving over the pass, seeing the most gorgeous countryside God ever made. The kids counted 111 waterfalls on the way there.

My sisters - bless 'em - will forever see me as the baby-brother, babying me within an inch of my life. It means we get good food, camper bathrooms instead of outhouses, and offers of money "in case I don't have enough." Life is good.

The rain didn't set in until the second night around 3 in the morning. Our tent, it seems, is a good one; it didn't leak (nor did the air mats provided by the Splitters). Packing up was messy, but the food was terrific and so were the margaritas.

Had to replace the tires on the van and recharge the air system. We're installing a hitch and renting a trailer for the drive back in just three weeks. Our stuff seems to be growing...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lynette's father came up to Mt. Vernon to help design and create a waterfall stream in the back yard of my parent's house. That's the second big hole I've dug this trip, and miraculously my back is fine. We got two days into the project, mortaring the stones in place when it started pouring rain. We covered it with tarps and hope the mortar sets up. It's a lot of work, and Leonard is a saint to help with this. I believe it will bring a lot of peace to my mom and dad. I'll take a picture when the project is completed next week and post it.

Talk to y'all later.

Lynette's father came up to Mt. Vernon to help design and create a waterfall stream in the back yard of my parent's house. That's the second big hole I've dug this trip, and miraculously my back is fine. We got two days into the project, mortaring the stones in place when it started pouring rain. We covered it with tarps and hope the mortar sets up. It's a lot of work, and Leonard is a saint to help with this. I believe it will bring a lot of peace to my mom and dad. I'll take a picture when the project is completed next week and post it.

Talk to y'all later.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lynette and the kids are down visiting with friends and family. My mother is not doing well. She may have the same bug that Ben had, or it may be a part of continuing HC. Please pray for her.

Oh, for those e-mailing us, we can get e-mails on my laptop, but for some reason we can't e-mail out.

We got pictures of the Maggio's baby. Someone go over there and hug that cute little girl for us and torment Bill for me.

Big, huge party at my sister's tomorrow. Bunches of people eating and drinking in the rain. With anyone else that would be the pits, but no one throws a party like Katie, so it will be a wonderful time.

Miss you all,


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Well, this was an expensive day.

We went to the Science Center, and with people whizzing by me to the left and right, I was the one to get a speeding ticket. The power of out-of-town plates.

Tickets to the Space Needle, a tank of gas, and dinner and we spent about $250.00. commiserate with me, please!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

True to form, the weather was hot the day we got here, then quickly converted to cold and wet.


Ben's birthday was Friday, so we went to the Spaghetti Factory with Lynette's cousins and sister. It was a party of 18 and great time was had by all. Then Saturday, my family had a party at my sister's where talked about authors and history, and, praise the Lord, I have a wonderful family!

Lynette's family is having a party today, but Ben is dreadfully sick, so he and I are staying at my folks house while Lynette and the girls see her family.

My mom is doing pretty well. It's a shock to see her so frail and thin. She sleeps a lot (wish I could!) but all in all, she's doing well. We're helping them get settled in their new house. Their dog, Missy, has been both a blessing and a difficulty for the kids (and us). She bound through the house last night, her tags jingling, and Aly thought it was Rainier, then had a strong crying jag when she realized he was gone for good. We all do, really, but it's doubly heartbreaking to see the kids go through this so young. God has a plan in this, though, so I'm confident this will have a positive outcome. Meanwhile, they play with Missy and offer her the love they have for Rainey.

There are still several restaurants to be experienced, so expect the Swansons to roll in like blimps when we get home. :)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

August 1993 to May 18, 2006.

A better pet never was. We will miss him forever.

His illness progressed across the country; then when our A/C went out, it was too much for him. We put him down the evening of the 18th. I've never done anything harder.

The Grand Canyon is absolutely incredible. The sight has stripped the sarcasm right out of me. It is so big, so overwhelming that your senses can't render it in 3-D. It looks like a painting. We've decided to plan a two week trip to really soak it in when we can next afford it (though by then it may be filled in...)

We cut our stay to a day, and pushed on to California to see Lynette's Grandpa. Wonderful visit with a wonderful man. Got to see Lynette's cousin and his daughter, then pushed on to Grant's Pass in Oregon. An exhausting drive with a very sick dog. Beautiful place, though.

I'd forgotten how pretty the Northwest is. Absolutely incredible. Wooded hills, snowy mountains, winding roads and more green than Fort Knox. The Northwest has in physical beauty what Orlando has in relationship beauty, which is saying a lot both ways.

The next day we got into Seattle and beyond to Mt. Vernon. I have wonderful family. They helped us through a very difficult time, as you can see from post above...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hey, I've figured out how to make different topics! Now I can take Susan's advice and post different topics for each day.

To catch up. We went to the Vickesburg Military Museum which was really cool. The Martin's proved themselves to be miraculously spontaneous for such a large family. They went with us, and I think Dennis and I must be related somehow. So many concurrant interests. The sunken ironclad was, to turn a phrase, neat-o!

I mentioned Tyler, Texas in another blog. Texas: The Other Middle East. It's big. It's brown (but not as brown as it has been in the past). It takes a LONG TIME to drive through Texas...

Albequerque was okay. The kids were introduced to the wonders of Denny's. Our room was in a corridor that turned the already strong wind into gale-force winds. Nor was there grass, so when Rainey needed to do his... business (from every end, the poor thing) the poor guy was hopelessly confused. Nor could he figure out what room was ours on his own, which is a first. We're not sure he's going to make it to Seattle. I don't think he's in pain, but extremely uncomfortable. Amazingly, he gets sick only when the kids are somewhere else or asleep, so they don't know quite how bad he is.

The trip through New Mexico and Arizona was incredible. The kids have settled into drive time (a very effective threat "Kids, get along or I eat chili for lunch!" No problems.) Aly had been complaining that the landscape never changes, so our trip through the scrubby lands of the Latino Sun had her yelling "I love road trips!"

Flagstaff, AZ is very cool. We spent some time at the pool and wandering the town. Rainey sleeps most of the day, and he's never been so passive, so leaving him in the room hasn't been a problem. Tomorrow we go to the Grand Canyon (or as the Texan's would say, "that thing? We have pot holes bigger than that.") Don't know how much we can do, but look forward to finding out!

See ya!

(This thing has a spell check button but I'm confident it doesn't work. Sorry.

Top Ten Thing of Excitement When Traveling Cross Country…

10. How Many Licks to Get to Center of a Tootsie Pop.

9. How Many Miles to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop.

8. How Many Tootsie Pops to Get to the Next Rest Stop.

7. Riding The Center Line Turtles until Your Teeth Rattle.

6. Counting The Bugs that Splat Against the Windshield (“5 Billion, Daddy!”)

5. Seeing Shapes in the Trees at Night. (“That one looks like a vulture, Dad!” “That one looks like a clown!” “That one looks like a Tornado, Dad!” “We’re in Mississippi, Son, that is a tornado!”

4. Seeing Who Can Hold Their Bladder the Longest.

3. Flipping the Page on the Trip Tik.

2. Finding Shorter Routes through Major Cities than on the Trip Tik.

And the number one Exciting Thing to Do Cross County…

1. Trying to Find Your Way BACK to the Route that the Trip Tik told You About.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Okay, an opinion before getting to the trip stuff, only because the hypocrisy of those participating blindly in the whole Illegal Immigration feeding frenzy drives me nuts. We've become like sharks biting at anything that shows a little blood.

Example: The American Anthem sung in Spanish. Can you believe people oppose this???? As if the Constitution says "Freedom of Speech... only in English." We have a commonwealth of Spanish-speaking people, and LEGAL immigrants who love this country. Why shouldn't they sing a song of respect in the language they're most comfortable with?

Think everyone should be compelled to speak English in America? It's a good idea, certainly, but should they have to learn? No, of course not. That pesky 1st Amendment again. I actually heard a woman complaining that all the teaching positions in Florida require bi-lingualism. She said, "why should I learn Spanish to get a teaching position?" Oh, I don't know, competitive advantage maybe? To get the job maybe? This is where we choose to live, in a culturally rich state, so the job demand what the job requires.

Then there's the canard about how illegal immigrants are claiming civil rights like free public school education and health care without paying the taxes to support them. We have to be careful with that claim, though, because those are NOT rights, they are entitlements that truth-to-tell are violations of the 10th Amendment which says anything not spoken to in the Constitution is reserved to the states, buy MY aren't there a lot of Federal Programs that there shouldn't be. So, upshot: Illegal Immigrants, bad. (My solution, institute the Fair Tax and then three weeks later announce the deportation of all illegals. The IRS becomes INS (because they like chasing people) and the massive increase to everyone's cash flow from the Fair Tax makes up for the loss in cheap labor.

Freedom of Speech in America: It's for everybody. The Creator endowed those rights to EVERYONE, not to just Americans. We may be one of the first and the few to recognize that fact, but if we start restricting it just to "ourselves" we're in Constitutional AND Moral Crisis.

Wow! I feel SO much better. :)

Welcome to the Swanstuff blog. I am actually annoyed by blogs, but I'm told I have to learn (thanks, Brian!), so off we go.

For the time being, this will be our Cross Country Trip Log. This way we don't have to bug anyone with e-mails they don't want.

After that, in July, if I'm in the habit, I'll keep it up with my own obnoxious opinions that no one should care to read. :)