Monday, December 31, 2007
Another thing I don't like is store bought fake maple syrup. I like syrup that has been tapped from a maple tree in some state where they have snow and the people wear plaid woolly caps with ear flaps. I don't like syrup whose primary ingredient is corn syrup. In fact, I don't really like corn syrup at all. I think corn syrup is responsible for obesity, autism, diabetes, tooth decay, moral decay, and idiocy.
I do, however, like homemade fake maple syrup. Place 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, two cups water, and 1 teaspoon maple flavor in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar melts, stirring frequently. Do not boil. Bottle and refrigerate. Pour over your buckwheat pancakes and feel the sugar rush.
It's like eating candy for breakfast.
Take an Idaho Russet, wash and peel it. Slice it and bathe it in hot oil. Drain and salt. Eat and die of coronary artery disease.
French fries are the reason I am not very critical of alcoholics and drug addicts. You see, I have an addiction to french fries. Seriously. Thankfully, french fries are still legal.
When I was younger I tried to go a week without eating french fries. I lasted about three days before I fell off the wagon. Now I don't even try to stop.
I like In-n-Out's fries. They taste like real unadulterated potatoes. But you have to eat them hot. Like when you're in the car driving home from work. The people at In-n-Out look at me with pity when they see me for the third time in a week.
At least I'm eating my vegetables.
It turns out you can't take a picture and play ping-pong at the same time.
He was here just a minute ago.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I got inked. On my finger. Underneath my wedding ring.
Do I succeed at living up to the verse? Not always. Do I trust in God enough to help me live up to it? Sometimes. Do I have a constant reminder of how I should be treating my wife? Yes.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The more adventurous parents start mining the Old Testament prophets for names like Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Nathaniel, Zechariah, Jonah and Jeremiah. They should be commended for trying to be a little different.
I'd like to see parents step up, do a "Barry*" and knock one into the bay. How about some kids named Nahum, Naggai, or Esli. Imagine the fun at school when the teacher reads off the names Maath, Semein, or Joda. How many kids do you know who are named Melki, Cosam, or Eliakim? Not very many, I'll bet. Amminadab, Ram, and Terah - these names rise to the top of the stack of college applications. I'll wager that Arphaxad, Mahalalel, and Methuselah won't see their names everyday.
It's a big Bible, folks. Let's get a little creative. Who's with me?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
The most fun a 2-year-old can have.
Abigail's first Bible and it's pink, too.
Monday, December 24, 2007
- the number of years in a half century or quinquagenary
- the distance in miles of a long bike ride
- the denomination in dollars of the Ulysses S. Grant note
- the number of years in a "Golden" anniversary
- a decade notable in the U.S.A. for the rise of rock and roll music and youth culture
- the distance in miles of a very long run
- the caliber of the Browning M2 machine gun
- the number of pennies in a half dollar
- the distance in feet of a very short walk
- the Eisenhower years
- the distance in feet of a very long jump
- the decade in life in which one may start getting a "senior" discount
- the number of posts a blogger reaches in one month when he is bored at work
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
I am pretty jaded from my work. I can often look at someone and make judgements about them. The scales have been removed from my eyes. I can know certain things about people just by looking at their size, weight, hair, clothing, demeanor, and complexion.
But many times, this knowledge leads to an opinion. I become judgemental. I stop seeing a person and instead see a problem.
I need to stop being judgemental. I am no better than anyone.
My two-year-old son knows the word "exercise."
I can't wait until he starts mowing the lawn.
I am never going to earn a Master's degree. I was fortunate to finish my Bachelor's. If it wasn't for my Mom and Tabitha pushing me I would still be about 12 units short of my degree. Me and school have always had an uneasy relationship.
There were too many distractions in college - UEFA Champions League Football, work, sleep, and Tabitha. I would take a class and then get distracted by some tangential topic covered in class. I would then fall behind while devouring everything I could find on that topic. While it satisfied my curiosity it did nothing for my grades.
It turns out that educational mediocrity has a long history in my family. I am somewhat unique in being a 3rd generation college graduate. However, Grandpa, Dad and I all struggled to complete our degrees. I struggled and I now have no delusions of ever continuing my "formal" education.
My educational goal is now: "to read everything I can on topics that I find interesting." I just need a bigger library.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
- We must fight for Nativity scenes on city halls.
- We must boycott when retailers have "Holiday" catalogs instead of "Christmas" catalogs.
- We need to defend our right to erect crosses on public lands.
- We need to go to the mat to protect our right to post the Ten Commandments in government buildings.
- We must protect our tradition of having "In God We Trust" on our coins.
- We need to fight attempts by the Godless atheists to remove "under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance.
If we as American Christians don't stand up and protect our Christian traditions, who will? Are we going to allow the ACLU and the secular humanists to walk all over us? These public displays of our devotion to the Gospel are more important than:
- The scourges of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis
- Refugees displaced by war
- The lack of clean drinking water for most of the world's population
- The exploitation of the environment
- Sex trafficking
- Homelessness in developed countries
- Child and Spousal abuse
- Drug and alcohol abuse
We as American Christians know what is important. Fight the good fight.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Tonight as we were waiting in the drive through, I was thinking about what beer to pair with a McDonald's meal. It has to be something light, crisp and insubstantial just like the food.
Budweiser immediately popped into my mind.
Crap beer for crap food.
I hate white chocolate. White chocolate is for people who don't really like chocolate. I like chocolate.
Who needs waterboarding. All we need to do is provide dental care for our detainees (prisoners of war) and they will tell us anything. My mouth still hurts.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I'm not talking about the "oh my gosh, something is out there" icy chill but sweating kind of fear. I'm talking about the low level but constant worry in my head. This fear makes me think that disaster is always just over the horizon.
Evolutionary biologists say that humans who were predisposed to worry actually had a very strong survival mechanism. They stayed alive while the care-free proto-humans set themselves on fire, fell through the ice or were eaten by sabre-toothed cats. I can't deny that worry keeps you alive, but it sure saps the joy from life.
I am at the threshold of the next phase in my career. But I'm afraid. I worry that I'm not smart enough, knowledgeable enough, strong enough, or shrewd enough. I worry that I can't do it and I'm afraid to fail. Tabitha wants me to do it and I want to do it but I keep dithering. I could not do it and stay where I'm at for the next 20 years. I won't have to face my fear but then I won't know the joy of achievement.
We have been discussing a move to Washington for a while now. We would like to live in a more rural environment with a slower pace of life. We would like to have weather that isn't just various varieties of "hazy sunshine." But I'm afraid. I'm afraid of finding a new job. I'm afraid of selling our house and trying to buy a new one. I'm afraid of looking for a new church and making new friends. I'm afraid of living on a dramatically reduced income. I'm afraid and it's very frustrating.
I'm afraid that if I start trusting God, he is going to ask me to do things that make me afraid. I'm afraid that I will have to dramatically change my habits. I'm afraid that God will want me to talk to people who unnerve me. I'm afraid that God will want me to go places I don't like (such as Las Vegas) and do the work of his kingdom. I'm afraid that God will want me to give up my self-satisfied middle-class American life. I'm afraid of change.
Tabitha has suggested that I pray about this. As with so many other things, I suspect she may be right.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
It turns out the changes would not be positive. Many lotto winners find themselves in worse financial trouble than before they won. People get crazy when they can buy whatever they want. As I've gotten older I've realized that I can't really be trusted with the money I have now. What would I do with even more money?
I've decided the only way I could remain sane if I came into sudden wealth is to practice a reverse tithe. I would give away 90% of the money and keep the remaining 10% for my family. With the 90% I would give money to various charities including homeless shelters, scholarships for poor kids, my church, other churches, clean water projects for emerging countries, AIDS prevention and treatment, a private army in sub-Saharan Africa, inner-city ministries, and others.
As I have yet to win the lottery and it doesn't seem likely that I will, what do I do? Do I wait for the day when I come into sudden wealth or do I start tithing now? I think I can start now. I have a long way to go to climb up to 10% much less 90%. I better get moving.
It's nice to have a chance to talk with people who are not coworkers. It helps to reduce my cynicism.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
About two weeks ago I sat down and read through the Gospel of Mark. It's the shortest so I thought it might make a good place to start. I was reading along and everything seemed familiar (I have been attending church for a long time). And then I came to this little passage:
12 The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it. (Mark 11:12-14)
And then this one:
20 The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up. 21 Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!” (Mark 11:20,21)
Imagine the sound of a record scratching. Got it? That's what I heard in my head. When I was back in college studying poetry, the professors told us there is a reason for every word in a poem. And then I have been told to pay attention to the passages in the Bible that don't seem to make sense. They are there for a reason.
But what is the reason for this passage? It's too early in the season for fruit. Jesus knew that. One obvious lesson from this passage is: don't make Jesus angry. But there had to be something else.
Two nights ago as I was laying down to sleep after a long day in the salt mine, a thought popped into my head. Maybe Jesus expects even immature trees (or believers) to bear fruit. Maybe as believers we aren't supposed to wait around for that day when we finally become mature. We need to start bearing fruit now.
Or maybe Jesus was just really hungry. Any thoughts?
Saturday, December 8, 2007
That's right, I want the taste of my beer to whack me over the head with the flat side of a shovel. I like my beer when it pours like 30-weight motor oil. I don't drink beer because I want to quench my thirst - that's what water is for. I drink beer because bitter is better sometimes. And it pairs really well with an 18-month-old Vermont cheddar.
One is enough. Sometimes one is more than enough.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I'm still a little leery of the stinky soft french kind. I like mine firm, crumbly and aged at least a year, preferably longer. I like cheese that ranges in color from creamy white to very pale yellow. I like cheese that is so sharp it makes my jaw ache a little. I like cheese that satisfies that craving for meat. I like cheese that asks, no, demands to be washed down with a glass of ale. I like cheese that pairs well with chocolate. I like chocolate that pairs well with cheese. I like cheese that pairs well with other cheese.
I hate Velveeta.
I see all sorts of things that I want to get for Tabitha. I see things that I would love to have. I see things that I really want to get for Abigail and Aidan. And then I look around the house.
Our giant house crammed full of stuff. And I think about how little some people have - luxuries like food and clean drinking water. I wonder if I am really honoring the birth of Jesus by buying a trinket for Tabitha and asking for a new, bigger, television. Am I teaching our children to be doers of the Gospel or consumers?
At this point, I am teaching them to be consumers. I have bought into the delusion that stuff will make me happy. But worst of all, I don't really even believe that it will. I just buy stuff compulsively.
We are going to try to use this Christmas season to break our consumer habit. We are going to try to be faithful to the Gospel. We are not going to try - we are going to do.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
We arrived safely home this evening around 5:30. We were in the car over 36 hours total, travelling over 2500 miles. My car is dirty. Snow, wind, rain, mud, fever, and ice cream - we are tired.
It's good to be home. Tabitha and Aidan were very happy to see us. We were very happy to see them.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Dad decided to take the rest of the week off and drive down with us. He got a good deal on a one-way plane ticket home. We haven't been able to go on a road trip together for a long time so it should be fun.
The fever broke in the middle of the night and I'm feeling better today.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Abigail likes to take pictures.
She specializes in self portraits.
Real Montana snow.
Real Montana cousins.
We stopped for ice cream in Scipio. It was still snowing.
The roads were clear through Salt Lake City so we pushed on to Idaho. Abigail was asleep within 10 minutes of getting our room.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tabitha was a little irritable as we were leaving the house, but it wasn't too far off of what could be considered normal. I was following her and she seemed to be driving slower than she usually does(I typically have trouble keeping up with her). The wheels in my brain started to turn.
When she pulled into the parking space she wasn't centered in the space. Abigail and I got out of my car and walked over to Tabitha's car; she was still sitting in the car. When we went inside, the barrista asked her "No foam, no water?" but she didn't reply. I answered for her as the wheels in my head started to turn at a furious pace.
We went out to the patio when we got our drinks. Tabitha sat at the table and blankly watched the kids play. As the wheels in my brain started to smoke, I went to her car and got her glucose meter. I pricked her finger and put a drop of blood on the test strip. The meter read "34." That is a little low.
Actually, it is extremely, potentially life-threateningly low. Normal range is between 80 and 120. I was once feeling hypoglycemic - I was shaking and couldn't concentrate. Out of curiosity we tested my blood sugar and I was at 79. So I had to do something. When Tabitha has low blood sugar like that, I usually attempt to get her to drink something for about ten minutes. If she still hasn't taken anything after ten minutes, I call the paramedics. I've called the paramedics about a dozen times in our married life.
Fortunately, Starbucks has juice. I went inside, grabbed a box of apple juice from the case, and told the barrista I would pay for it in a few minutes (it's nice when they know you). I put the straw in the box, held it to Tabitha's lips and told her to drink the juice.
Thankfully she did. I was able to coax her to drink the entire box and within about five minutes she made a comment about what the kids were doing. I knew she was going to be okay. I tested her again (54) and fed her a donut. She was back to normal. I recounted what she had done while she was low and we laughed about it. And then I went to work and Tabitha took the kids home.
Or more precisely, the Lactaid. It was a new carton, but it smelled slightly sour so I dumped it out. I will give him some more milk this afternoon and see how he does. I'm hoping it was only a bad carton. He is acting fine. He is cheerful and playing with his toys. Maybe he just wanted to hang out with me today.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
We've never had a chance to meet you but you've given us a wonderful gift. He is almost two and we are so happy he is part of our lives. We look at him and wonder what traits he got from you.
He has strawberry blond hair with just a hint of a cowlick. It was curly in the back before he got his first haircut. He has big brown eyes and a little turned-up nose. He has a cleft on his chin.
He's very smart. He learns new words everyday. He loves trucks, tractors, motorcycles, airplanes, and helicopters. He is very mischievous. He loves to tease his sister but he also adores her. He is asserting his independence - he's started to say "no." He talks on the phone. He pretends to talk on the phone.
He loves to go to the park and swing on the swings and slide down the slides. He pushes himself around on his little bike. He loves to sweep and vacuum the floors. He loves it when we read to him. His favorite book is "Goodnight Moon" but he calls it "boon." He charms everyone he meets.
When he is hungry or tired he gets upset. He doesn't like bed time - he usually cries for at least five minutes before he goes to sleep. He always sleeps through the night, though. He loves cheese and bananas, but milk doesn't agree with him. He loves his "baba." When he used to see his picture he said "beebee" but now he says "Daidan."
We only know a little about you. We know you were young and already had a little boy when you found out you were pregnant. We know you hid your pregnancy from your family. You were very brave to go through that alone. We can't imagine what it must have been like for you to decide to give up your baby. Thank you. We will do our best to help him become the best man he can be.
Sometimes when we see a young woman, we wonder if it might be you. We know you are out there, somewhere. We hope you are happy and healthy. Even though you may try to forget him, we will never forget you. Even though we don't know you, you will always be part of our lives.
We thank you so much for what you have done. Maybe someday, we can meet you and you can see him. If it never happens, know that we will always love you for this wonderful thing you did for us.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
At the end of the week they let the kids go off the diving board at the pool. An instructor walks out to the end of the board with them and then drops them into the waiting arms of an instructor in the pool.
Last summer, she went off the three foot board with no protest. We clapped and cheered and then we lost sight of her. We thought she was in line for the three foot board again. Then we heard a collective gasp from the watching parents.
We looked up and saw our teeny-tiny daughter at the end of the ten foot board with her instructor. She was clearly scared, but we yelled encouragement to her. She didn't protest when the instructor dropped her into the pool but she was shaking when she came out of the water. She told us she was scared. We told her she was really brave and we were proud of her.
This year she took a class with one other little girl. Abigail started swimming independently and loved jumping into the pool from the side. After a few days the instructor started letting them jump off the three foot board. Abigail loved it. At the end of the week it was time for the big jump.
I asked Abigail if she was going to jump off the high dive. She said she would. She jumped off the three foot board a few times and then climbed the ladder to the high dive. She walked right out to the end of the board and jumped. She was not shaking when she climbed out of the water.
All I can say is that I never would have jumped off a high dive when I was five. No way, no how.
When it happens, I scoop all the toys out of the bath and put them in the sink to rinse off. I stand Aidan up and rinse him off. After drying him and putting him in his jammies, I clean out the tub.
Poop pretty much feels like you would imagine it feels.
Fortunately, the toilet is right next to the tub. I am not really very squeamish anymore. I have seen a lot of blood and other bodily fluids at work. But if you told me ten years ago that I would be scooping my son's poop out of the bath tub with my bare hands ... well... Can you really wash your hands enough after that?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
My friend was disappointed Scotland didn't qualify but I don't think he really expected them to (his hopes have been dashed too many times). But he was really happy England failed to qualify. He was positively gleeful or at least as gleeful as Scottish people get.
Wikipedia defines Schadenfreude as "pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune." The Scots are very happy right now.
About a year ago I got a Pygmy Taiga wilderness tripper canoe kit. I was going to build a boat. My friend Brett (who got a kit of his own) and I built a table out of 2 sheets of plywood in the garage. This, as you might imagine, took up a lot of space. I started working on the canoe, gluing panels of okoume plywood together, drilling tiny holes, wiring the panels together into a canoe shape, and epoxying all the seams. It was beautiful. There was a 17 foot long canoe in my garage. And then I stopped working on it. There the canoe sat, unfinished, while I spent my free time napping and watching all the soccer games I recorded.
The garage collected more detritus. The canoe rested on sawhorses waiting for my gentle caress. Tabitha asked if she was ever going to get a place to work on her art. I foolishly suggested she could could use the "guest bedroom." She suggested that we could clean and reorganize the garage to free up space for her art. I am many things, but organized is not one of them. Finally, things came to a head.
Tabitha attended an art educators conference last weekend in Pasadena. While at the conference, she bought a portable pottery wheel. The conversation went something like this: Tabitha:"I did a bad thing." Tim (visions of car accidents flashing through his mind): "What?" Tabitha: "I bought a pottery wheel." Tim (relief): "Oh, cool."
So we cleaned and reorganized the garage. Tabitha has space to work on her art. I might finish the canoe in time for next summer, if I can only turn off the TV.
And then I saw "Dumb and Dumber." It was a watershed event in my life. I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. When Jeff Daniels was on the toilet I just about died. I mean, who hasn't had explosive diarrhea. And the bird with his head taped on... and the hot sauce... and the beer bottle. I'm laughing just thinking about it.
I've got no time for the horror/slasher/Gore genre. Why would I want to fill my head with that kind of stuff. "Saw(II,III,...XIII)" and "An Inconvenient Truth." Puhlease. The same with all the gratuitously violent action adventure flicks like "Die Hard" or "Bad Boys." Guns, explosions, car crashes, and suspended physical laws!!???!? I live that every day.
But "The 40 year Old Virgin." I've got all the time in the world for that.
Our queen size bed was dwarfed by the vast expanse of our bedroom so we got a king size. We moved the queen size bed downstairs to the "guest bedroom." Now Tabitha and I can sleep in the same bed and not even touch each other.
We had another queen size bed which we put in Abigail's room. What 3-year-old wouldn't want a queen size bed of her own? That would be Abigail. She slept in our bed for the next 2 years. Now she has a twin size bed like a normal little girl. Or a little girl with normal parents.
We still had an extra bedroom upstairs so we got another kid, Aidan. Fortunately he can't climb out of the crib yet, so we don't have to worry about him wandering around the house in the middle of the night. He might get lost.
So now we are a family of four in a 2800 square foot mansion with a three car garage and cupboards in the kitchen that are still empty. We need to buy more stuff just to fill the empty space.
We could get rid of stuff and live in a smaller house.
You can't put it in the dishwasher. I run it under hot water and scrub it out with a brush. To dry it, I put it on the stove with a burner turned on low. Every once in a while I rub some oil on it to keep it seasoned. I love my skillet.
But there's a problem. Sometimes, I forget that the fire is on underneath the skillet. I put it on the stove to dry and then I get distracted. I will find it later when I smell the faint tinge of hot iron. I decided a while back that I would only dry the skillet using the lowest setting on the stove. It takes longer but it doesn't seem to get hot enough to set the skillet on fire.
I don't want my skillet to kill me.