Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merci mes amis

Pride is an interesting thing in that it can be both virtue and vice. Pride in family, country, or other accomplishments should be considered virtuous. The stubborn pride of many who look askance at offered help or refuse to lift the burdens of others because they "got where they are on their own" is certainly a vice.

I like most people possess both forms. For example I can't express how proud I am of Wife for finishing her degree while holding down a full-time job and taking care of that incompetent dolt who is her husband.

On the other hand, too often I have insisted on doing things on my own, believing in my infinite wisdom that if the instructions can be found in a book I can do whatever it is that I don't know how to do. Sometimes this stubbornness works out, sometimes I end up with my legs dangling through a hole in the ceiling.

The past few months have proved to be rather Jobian for me. Carpenter ants, broken truck, large expenses to fix the truck, dead dryer, dying car, again broken truck have all played their part to break me. In all of this I've been forced to look to others for help. I just wanted to thank everyone who's gone out of their way to help me. It proves that there are still good people in this world and to paraphrase Bilbo Baggins: "I don't appreciate half of you as well as I ought and I appreciate less than half of you half as well as you deserve". Thanks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One of those days

Here is a snippit of a conversation I had with a coworker about 10 minutes before I left for the adventure which was the drive home. The setting is the hallway between our offices.

Laura: FYI-I just replaced the paperclip from the inside of the toilet that keeps it flushing.

Me: You mean that it is a paperclip that keeps our toilet, which is used by several women each day, working.

Laura: Yeah, you didn't know? It rusted and broke into the tank so I replaced it with a new one.

Then we broke out laughing because that is the kind of day it was. The next time we have a problem with one of the toilets at work I am not calling a plumber, but the office supplies store instead.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Most shameful CD ever

Okay here's the question for my movie viewing readers. How come sometimes you can assemble an amazing cast and have an amazingly awful movie. I submit to you the following cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer, Drew Barrymore, and Jim Carrey. Together this is a very impressive group, a bit odd to be in any movie together but I'll give Carrey credit for what he did in the Truman show and Kilmer will always be my Jim Morrison. Yet somehow combined they produced an unsavory pimple on the forehead of the blushing bride that is moviedom. They were all in that incredibly unforgetable movie, Batman Forever. Now I will give them some of the benefit of the doubt and blame most of that pimple on Chris O'Donnell. It's a wonder they ever had the courage to do the good Batmans that they've done recently.

Now as much as I enjoy belittling movies I don't see enough to post about them very often. I do however listen to music. Since our recent purchase of a new car, yes in this economy and yes we are crazy, I've been listening to a lot more music thanks to the wonderfulness of Satellite radio.

How wonderful is satellite radio you ask? They have a Led Zepplin station!!! And a station entitle "Hair Nation"!!! Honestly I haven't heard Kashmir followed by Damn Yankees on the radio since the 1980s. You might say that's probably a good thing, but if you do say that, I say you're a communist and I think Ted Nungent would back me up with that. Don't make the Nudge mad, he's craaaazy.

To make a short story unnecessarily long, and so as to waste more of your valuable time at work, Wife and I were driving to work the other day and what came on but Seal's Kiss from a Rose, the theme song to aforementioned horrible movie. Sadly I had to confess that not only did I know most of the words but I also owned the cd! Shameful I know. In my defense though it was during my Deep Forest, Enigma, and Rusted Root phase (all horrible bands, don't look them up if you don't know them).

So what was the most shameful cd you ever purchased?

Here's something to get you guys in the Christmas Spirit:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Calling all Bookworms

I know you're out there. Those of you who would rather read than watch television. Or read while you watch television, whichever.

I am now finding myself with more free time than I remember having in years. Yay! So I come to you all for help. I need suggestions for what to read next. I just finished the Harry Potter series but I don't really know where to go from here. It's been so long since I read for pure pleasure. I'll read just about anything that's written well but my preferences seem to be for historical accounts. I'm currently reading the Mountain Meadows Massacre book that everyone's been talking about. Please don't suggest Twilight. It took me this long to want to pick up the Harry Potter books. But other fiction is welcome.

This will also help Husband if he still needs ideas of what to get me for Christmas. I asked for books but couldn't give too many specifics.

Thanks for the help. Hopefully your suggestions will keep me sufficiently occupied until American Idol starts next month.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

She is smart, smarter than me

Well it's happened and it's my own fault. Years after dropping out of my graduate program, Wife has finished her MBA. Thus passing me in the aggregate degree count, making the current score Wife 2, Husband 1.

Now for most of you married people you understand the trauma I'm going through. For the rest let me explain. For all the talk of loving, honoring, and cherishing your spouse at the wedding, marriage is actually a competition (sometimes war) where both sides vie for dominance over the social contract into which they have bound themselves. Every action taken by either side is designed to score them points on the marriage score card.

For example putting the toilet seat down without being asked is worth 2 points for the average man, for a jerk it could be a 5 point bonus. A wife buying something nice at Victoria Secret could be 10 points for a woman. Or for example sitting down and watching a hockey game with your husband...well that's priceless. You'll notice the scoring system is a bit erratic.

But for Wife to have finished her MBA while I'm merely a bachelor's holder, that's like the head shot with which Ivan Drago took out Apollo Creed (if only I was as cool as Apollo Creed, the man was a legend). I guess it means that I've lost this match.

Congratulations honey! I love you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maybe you can figure this one out

About halfway through the workday today, I happened to look out my window and I saw this:

A car nearly covered in various colors of post-it notes.

I quickly called in several co workers for their opinions as to what it means. We came up with nothing. So I went out and took a photo for posterity's sake. The post-its were all blank and they were simply post-it stuck on the car, no extra tape or anything. After about 15 minutes of gawking from the window and a couple investigatory trips to the car, two dudes show up, get in and drive away. I opened my office window and tried to wave them down so I could ask them what's up with all the post-it notes on their car, but they must not have seen me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

10 Years Ago Today

I don't know why but we in America seem to like our decimal anniversaries. For some reason turning 20, 30, or 40 is much more exciting than turning 19, 29, or 39. We tend to exaggerate the importance of decades grouping things into the 80s or 90s despite the fact that the music of 1999 (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera) has more in common with 2000 than it does with 1991 (Van Halen and Guns and Roses (yes I'm ignoring Nirvana, I'm trying to make a point here)).

Marriage and jobs are a little different. For both we tend to look at things in 5s. Probably because surviving a 5 year period for both is surprising in this day and age.

That said I'm giving into the gods of conformity and loudly commemorating the decenium since my return from my mission in Paris. Here's a few classic Me shots from that time. Enjoy.

Why it seems like only yesterday I unloaded my duffle back into this strange apartment of guys with a giant pair of underwear on the wall. Why size 62" waist underwear you might ask? Well thank you for asking. Evidently [Elder] Kevin Johnson's friends sent them to him with the following story.

They were pranksters in their youth and would do things like buy tootsie roles wearing nothing but their skivvies. Evidently one prank involved one of them wearing the above shown undies and while in a grocery store somewhere in rural Utah he and his accomplice got into a "fight" at the cash register. The one wearing the not so tighty whities turned to walk out and the other one grabbed the back elastic band and pulled them up and over the others head. According to the story they heard an old woman in the background say something to the effect of "holy *%& Harold look at that boy's underwear".

I have no idea if the story was true but we wall mounted them none the less. Plus it gave us a place to keep our nerf basketball.

Foodwise I ate pretty well in France. Although sometimes I was lonely for conversation. Oh by the way, when in the Catacombs of Paris don't touch the bones. Seriously they'll totally bust you for it. Plus the owners of the bones will haunt you. Believe me I know.

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed. What makes it more interesting from a familial level is that it's been ninety years since the Great War ended. My last day in France there were countless parades and decorations. The last few remaining veterans celebrated the commemoration at the Arc de Triomphe. It was that war that caused my paternal great-grandfather to lose his health. I never met him, he died in the 1940s. Yet still having walked the ground that he fought and bled and weezed (mustard gas you know) on, I can't help but think of him on this day. In some ways it's both of our anniversaries today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Election Results

And here's the top five things that I've realized since the election ended:

1. CNN has the best news. This has nothing to do with their coverage. In fact it's all because Wife and Sister (the newest edition to the household) have major crushes on Anderson Cooper. And here I was thinking I was the only gray haired man Wife loved.

2. Somebody should tell the right wing commentators that false hope does not good reporting make. Honestly both Pat Buchanen and Bill Bennett were so dead wrong in their false optimism it was sickening. It was funny to watch them squirm as the results came in however.

3. The best news on television is the Daily Show. Hands down. Because they actually report News. Who knew.

4. BBC America should not have Americans covering the election. Honestly I turned it on to hear someone with a cockney accent make the election call not someone who sounds like their from Hoboken. BBC, you're cut.

5. John McCain should have ran his whole campaign with the tone he used in his concession speech. It was the John McCain I loved in 2000. Sadly to get the nomination he sold out to the establishment of the GOP and so could never speak with that tone in this campaign.

That said Obama delivered one of the great acceptance speeches of all time on election night. If he can govern the way he delivers this speech than America will be okay. As I mentioned on Dave's blog I loved the imagery of the "arc of history". Obama paints in this speech a wonderful picture of how he perceives the past and future of America. He points to an America that continues to grow. An America in which all people must play a roll to lift one another's burdens. It is a wonderful vision of a nation united for a common cause and a carrying a common future.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama (abbreviated version)

Because this t-shirt is way trendier than a McCain t-shirt.

Since I live in New York, most of the inquiring looks I get when I wear it are not due to the Obama part (yay blue state!), but rather to the Mormon part. ("Here, in New York? I never knew.")

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama

Husband here. So in church on Sunday one of our friends discovered that we were, gasp, democrats (well technically only I am, Wife remains unaffiliated only because I won't let her register as a socialist). We were kind of surprised that our friend hadn't guessed that our political leanings were a bit left of center (if you define center as Ted Kennedy). Now that doesn't make me feel as bad as when people are surprised I'm a church-goer (seriously I've got to work on that mouth of mine).

This experience coupled with a comment from another old friend who found me on Facebook and is as far right as I am left, made me feel like explaining my political philosophy. So without further ado here it is. For those not interested skip to the end, I embedded an Anamaniacs song.

1. Taxation--All taxation is redistributive by definition. The McCain/Palin assertion that Obama's a socialist belies the reality that all taxes have a socialistic element to them. Honestly debating the virtues of +/-3% here and there is hardly sufficient reasoning in my book to favor one candidate over the other. That said I think that politicians should work on reducing government bureaucracy and wastefulness. We need to end no-bid contracts and have complete and total reporting of government funded projects. I do tend to think that we need to err on the side of lower taxes but I like the progressive tax rate. As beneficial as they are to me personally I think we should eliminate some of the tax credits including the mortgage interest tax deduction. It was this deduction that made it necessary from a fudiciary perspective for us to buy a house before we might have been ready and is the cause of much of the subprime crisis today.

1a. That said we also need to have a complete and total rework of our national infrastructure. This is best done with state/regional planning boards over seeing the revitalization of roads/bridges/sewer/power lines/rail/IT infrastructure. Frankly in dark economic times this seems to be a good use of the unemployed. (yeah that's very new deal but our continued economic dominance demands an upgrade in our infrastructure) A national renewal of this sorts would also be a good training ground for college students and we could offer it as a debt forgiveness program for them.

2. Abortion--Abortion as birth control is an unnecessary evil. It is a way for individuals to back out of a condition that is the natural by-product of sex. That said, I view a wholesale outlaw of abortion as even worse. To force a woman who has been raped to carry a child to term, reminding her of the actions of her rapist every day for nine months is something I cannot accept. Given that neither side fully supports my views on this issue I don't use it as a litmus for selecting my candidates. Further, abortion will never be wholly criminalized in America. If Roe vs. Wade was overturned it would simply return the right of abortion regulation back to the states and allow them to make it illegal. Assuredly many would, but I think the majority would not so it's becoming a moot point.

3. Iraq--We should not have invaded Iraq. Iraq was a distraction from the fight against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their Taliban allies. The only compelling argument I saw for the invasion was that once Iraq was neutralized we could draw down our troop levels in Saudi Arabia which were stationed there as a check on the Iraqis. Our troop presence in Saudi Arabia has been a great rallying cry for Islamist movements around the world. That said we have yet to see any substantial reduction in our Saudi force contingent based on our "successes" in Iraq. Further, the Hussein regime itself was viewed as anathema to the militant Islamist movement for many years. We thus need to withdraw from Iraq. Now this does not mean I'm a defeatist, our troops must and should return with their heads held high for their efforts. If McCain thinks a timeline for withdrawal is defeatism...well how does one withdrawal from a war where there is no formal enemy state to offer their surrender.

4. Immigration--Immigration is what makes this country great and should be accepted more readily than it is. For all the talk of Mexicans never learning English, it has been the history of most immigrant communities in US history to preserve their language for the first generation and a half (meaning the second generation is typically bilingual). This is exactly what is happening in Latino households across this country. That said we should work to reduce illegal immigration if for no other reason than that illegal immigration often results in some of the most wicked brutality that man can commit against man. So long as we are the world's best hope for freedom and prosperity, people will come to our shores seeking a better life. That is what they've always done. The best policy to reduce illegal immigration than is to improve conditions in their home countries so people no longer feel the need to immigrate and/or loosen immigration requirements and provide a clear path to citizenship and assimilation.

5. The Environment--Ah Climate Change. Well given my relatively liberal bent thus far you can probably imagine that I'm a left wing-the ice caps are melting-tree hugging-hug a California Condor type....well you're kind of right. I do believe that humanity affects the environment around us. This is basic Newtonian physics, for every action there is a reaction. You dump benzene/PCP/petroleum in a watershed, it is going to have an affect. Thus regardless of the reality of climate change I think we need to be more careful with the stewardship of this planet. God did not give it to us simply to have us strip mine everything we can out of it. Unfortunately too many think that our resources should simply be exploited without concern for the consequences.

5a. Energy policy. This naturally segues to a discussion of energy policy. In the short run a comprehensive energy policy consists of the use of all energy resources. We need to continue using our fossil fuel infrastructure for the time being including oil and natural gas exploration. That said the continued use of what is essentially a 19th century paradigm of development will stagnate our growth in the medium and long term. It is for this reason that we need to augment the fossil fuel infrastructure with increased development of hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar power, with a goal to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels entirely. Nothing frustrates me more than when I drive through northern Arizona and southern Nevada and I fail to see any development of photovoltaic technology. Honestly no one lives there, it never rains, why has no one put solar plants there? Further, a restructuring of our energy infrastructure where every individual fed back into the grid by placing solar panels on their roof would revolutionize this nation's power supply needs.

6. Electoral/Campaign reform--The current primary system must be abolished. It is a byproduct of the unholy union between big money and the 24 hour news networks (they're already talking about 2012 for the love). Electoral reform should include the following. There should only be six weeks of voting in a given primary season. Iowa and New Hampshire can keep their first in the nation status, voting in consecutive weeks in late June. Following a two week break we will hold four, 12 state primaries. One occurring every two weeks.

These states will be divided demographically with all regions of the nation represented in each 12 group cohort. The primary cycle will thus end at the end of August or the beginning of September. Every four years the 12 state cohorts will move forward one week in the primary voting cycle with the first cohort moving to the last week of that years voting block. Further, I think all states should keep their electoral college votes but distribute the votes in one of two ways. 1. Distribute all votes proportionately to the popular vote cast for the state as a whole. or 2. Votes should be distributed based on the winner of the congressional district. The individual who wins the most districts would get the two additional electoral votes allocated to the state based on their senate seats. Barriers of entry for third parties should be removed but I have no idea how to do that.

7. Gay Marriage--This is a tricky one. Personally the marriage that matters for me is the one sanctioned by my faith. I understand that the state has an interest in marriage as it is the unit that traditionally has provided the most social cohesion. That said I think the delegation of the right to perform marriages to churches is what has put us in the quandary we now find ourselves. If states change the rules of who they'll recognize as married than churches find themselves afraid that they will be prosecuted/persecuted for failing to solemnize marriages they find themselves to be in doctrinal conflict with. I think the best solution is to completely disassociate the two institutions. For the state only recognize marriages made by state agents (justices of the peace, appointed city hall officials, etc.). Churches can do what they want subsequent to the state marriage but church unions will have no force or binding power in the eyes of the state any longer.

Now those are my personal views and subject to change. However more important to me than any of these things is the tone of a candidate. I don't like this McCain because his whole candidacy seems to be about instilling fear of Obama. I didn't like Bush or Gore in 2000 because both of them seemed to feel entitled to the presidency. As if their pseudo-aristocratic background made them far superior to McCain and Bradley whom they defeated in their respective primaries. I disliked Kerry in 2004 precisely because he (and Bush for that matter) lacked any understanding of the life of the common man.

When I listen to Obama speak, I feel that he believes that he has a responsibility to serve this nation and not a right to rule. Quite frankly that feeling of service to your fellow citizens is so novel in American politics he's actually convinced me to abandon third party politics this election.

To finish up I'd just like to give a general note about why I vote Democrat rather than Republican most of the time. It is precisely because of the issue of tone and respect. I've found, especially at Church, that Republicans are much more dismissive and quite frankly disrespectful of my personal political beliefs when they differ from the party dogma. Frankly I've found this troubling and spiritually unsettling. I'm reminded of a scripture where the Lord says that in the last days: "...[Satan shall] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good." Now I'm not saying that I'm correct on all of my political beliefs but I think that the rage that people feel regarding politics saps the spiritual strength of many on all sides of the political divide. Thanks for listening.

As promised here's some Anamaniacs:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chanelling our Parents

There's a recurring theme in the old testament. No it's not the theme of genocidal warfare although that certainly does seem to happen. Nor is it the theme that if you call a prophet bald he'll sic she-bears on you (2 Kings 2:23-4), I love that story. Nor is it the story/theme that sacrificing to Baal always leads to bad things, for some reason Baal worshipping has never been a problem for me. I'm referring to the theme that the sins of the parents will be upon the heads of the children.

Now given that my in-laws and my grandparents read this blog you might think that this is a dangerous beginning to a blog post that will assuredly lead to a Santa-less Christmas. Now normally you'd be right but I'm feeling quite laudatory tonight.

One of my fundamental beliefs in human relations is that we're all the byproducts of our childhood, friends, and acquaintances. The familial relationship is extra important in that it shapes many of your likes, dislikes, and value structures. Now usually for people our age the influence of these familial interactions results in costly therapy for many years. Or if your like me it results in many futile years of cheering for the Boston Red Sox (don't worry honey your Orioles can't be horrible forever).

For us as a married couple this parental influence led to something even more traumatic this year:


Okay given the lack of photographic evidence that we got anything from said garden (and really we didn't thus the lack of photos) I'd hardly call it gardening. But at least we tried right, dad? LeAnn? Anyone? Do you love us now?

Oh well. I guess I'll try therapy like the rest of my peers.

Here's another Matt Costa video.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Some (cyber)space of my own

I have a new blog, one that may or may not interest you. It is an attempt to make the challenges of infertility and the testing that comes along with it more bearable. Some of you already knew of my broken-ness, others probably assumed something was up. So for anyone who's interested, you can find it here.

Husband here and I'm totally hijacking wife's post without her knowing....hehe shhhhh.

In any case while she's been busy talking about broken body parts that I don't know the location of, I've been moving my theological blog to a new location. The good news with this is that you won't have to deal with any of my boring book reviews here anymore. Isn't that great.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm a Lumberjack and I'm okay!

Have you ever had one of those songs stuck in your head? You know the ones I'm talking about that have two or three catchy lines that repeat themselves ad nauseam until you feel ready to gouge your eyes out with hot pokers and pour lemon juice in the wounds? These are the songs that the artist make knowing full we'll they'll hate the song years later but that it will make them a ton of money in the short run. The songs that your 10-13 year old niece will scream at an ear shattering decibel when it comes on the radio. The most excellent example of this unmitigated evil is of course that diabolical anthem of hate known as "Mmmm Bop". Hansen of course being the triad of evil spawned from the lowest depths of hell to prepare the way for the Anti-Christ herself Hannah Montana (who is the unholy offspring of Satan and Billy Ray Cyrus I'm pretty sure).

Typically, with the exception of C'mon Eilleen and ManaMana, I'm immune to these songs (except for the fact that the aforementioned mmm bop is currently on repeat shuffle in my head). So you can imagine my chagrin Saturday when Monty Python's "I'm a Lumberjack" started replaying itself over and over again in my head. I was left with only one real option...to be that lumberjack.

From Lumberjack

Seriously though cutting down two trees isn't as hard as I thought and not counting my callouses and blisters I have no major injuries. Although I was a bit concerned when one of the branches I was pulling came free and knocked me over, with it on top. I cut it into pieces though just so it knew who was boss.

From Lumberjack

Side note: For some reason I feel a bit bad about cutting down the trees. Granted we have 20 more in my backyard but I feel strangely wasteful.

And I know you were thinking I must link to Monty Python's I'm a Lumberjack, but honestly how could I pass up Tina Fey's outstanding impersonation of Sarah Palin? I can't help but think what people around the world think of us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Name Them One By ONe

Today I am grateful for/that...

...I can wear glasses when I don't feel like putting my contacts in. Granted my glasses may not be as cute as Sarah Palin's, but I am not as creepy as her either so, I win.

...sick days. Not mine today, but Husband's so he didn't have to go to work when he's sick.

...Starbucks hot chocolate. On a chilly, rainy New York day, this was a great lunch.

...I still have three Harry Potter books to read. I put so much effort into finishing a book but when I'm done I feel sad to no longer be engrossed in a good read. Fortunately this series currently seems never ending to me. But what shall I read when it does end?

...the computer is far from the tv so while Husband watches the debate I can be on the computer, unaware of the mess that is happening in Mississippi. At least I think that's where it was. I was finishing the fourth Harry Potter when it started so my attentions were elsewhere.

...Babies and puppies. And a ton of photos on the hard drive. Here's one:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh Canadia Part Deux

My favorite columnist from our college newspaper, just wrote a wonderful piece about our neighbors in the great white north. I thought I'd share it. Enjoy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ode to Autumn

The hint of orange and red on the leaves, the cool breezes blowing through the open windows of the house, corn mazes, haunted houses, and the wonderful taste of apple cider donuts all indicate one thing. Summer is over and here comes nirvana.

I am a lover of Autumn and have been since my childhood. The only draw back I saw to autumn as a child was its unnerving to proximity to winter. Winter which meant as a lad, tramping through the snow with five gallon buckets of hot water to water the chickens/rabbits, tramping through the snow to feed the chickens and rabbits, tramping through the snow to give said chicken/rabbits fresh straw and hay to make it through the winter, tramping through the snow to help my dad drag wood down from the forest when we invariably ran out of wood, chopping the aforementioned wood, and of course tramping through the snow with the five gallon buckets of maple sap for syrup distilling....

Now I sound like my grandpa telling me about the depression...wow. Bet most of you can't relate to that.

That said now that the hole in the front of our house (carpenter ants again) is filled in this winter shouldn't be as cold as some of those from my childhood. (We had two plywood sheets up when the remnants of hurricane Gustav came through. Just trying to commiserate with our southern friends)

Here's another cool video suggested by Ty. The line "lady-man-ladies" just cracked me up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I read the most boring books

Here's my latest book review. Yeah I know I read boring books. I prefer to think of it as reading a vast variety of boring books. I figure if I'm boring I might as well be boring about a lot of things.

Temple Themes in Christian Worship (T&t Clark) Temple Themes in Christian Worship by Margaret Barker

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ah what can I say about Margaret Barker. She's one of my favorite feminist theologians. She's not as skeptical as Elaine Pagels or Bart Ehrman. She's not nearly as wordy as Karen Armstrong. Her world view is much more encompassing than some of the traditional conservative Christian thinkers I've read. I'd describe her theology as pan-christian.

She accepts, more than many, the validity of the non-canonical sources and the reality that what we have as "Christianity" today is merely the victor of the early Christian traditions. She also accepts that all scripture passed through human agents and was subject to human changes. If you have a problem with either of these assumptions than don't bother reading this book because these assumptions provide the paradigmatic backbone of this work.

In Temple Themes, Barker starts off with a bang. Going back to St. Basil and the 3rd Century C.E., she outlines how there were extra-canonical traditions within Christianity. These traditions derived largely, Barker contends, from 1st Temple worship. To show this connection then is Barker's main motivation.

She clearly outlines how the earliest Church Fathers expressed that such traditions existed and more importantly how they could or should not be wrote down. These were the traditions of the mystery worship, which she contends ultimately were the mysteries of the knowledge of God. Culling the non-canonical sources, Barker shows how elements of the pre-Josiah temple appear in places like the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writings of Clement, and the gnostic and Qumran texts. Pulling from the complete extant corpus Barker makes a compelling case that Christianity does not understand itself because it doesn't understand the Temple.

That said Barker runs into a problem that she doesn't readily admit. She is ultimately trying to prove the unknowable. Because Josiah purged the temple, destroyed the Tree of Wisdom, removed the anointing oil, and changed the priesthood, we have little documentary evidence to know what the first temple was and meant. What evidence we do have has come down through the generations in such a convoluted and corrupted form that we can only assume it's accuracy. This allows Barker to cherry pick quotes and traditions that support her argumentation but does not truly provide more than circumstantial evidence. That I tend to think she's right in her interpretation has more to do with my own religious beliefs than with the evidence she presents in this work.

That said, for those who are interested in speculative theology about the sources of Christian worship I highly recommend this work. It was entertaining, if a bit dense in parts. Further, if you've never read her works, Barker never shies from suggesting the most controversial things and this work does not disappoint in that regard. In the end this felt like the culmination of a lifetime of research and writing and was a highly worthwhile addition to my library.

View all my reviews.

New Political Quiz

Yes I know we haven't posted in forever. Yes I know this really isn't a good quality post. Yes I know that I'm going to burn in hell for all time because of my results on this quiz. Yes I know that you know who I support for the presidency. But honestly if an internet quiz tells me I match up better with one candidate than the other, of course I should vote for him. I mean the internet told me too.

Should I Vote For For President: Obama or McCain?

You match up well with...

Barack Obama - 67 match

While only having served in the United States Senate for about four years, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has electrified the presidential stage. Earlier this year, Obama defeated the much vaunted Clinton machine in the Democratic primaries, receiving 18 million votes, as Democratic voters flocked to the polls in record numbers. Unlike his opponent, Obama opposed the Iraq war from the start and is running his campaign on the theme of working together to fix the economy, provide affordable health care to all Americans, restoring the nation's moral authority on the world stage, and keeping the lobbyists and special interests out of the White House.

John McCain - 39 match

As a Vietnam war veteran and someone who has a record of bi-partisan work on issues like campaign finance reform and immigration reform, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has often won praises for his willingness to buck his own party on issues. Unlike his opponent, McCain is a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, a social conservative who believes that the Supreme Court should overturn a woman's right to an abortion, and fiscal conservative who believes the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent and that corporate tax rates be further lowered.

Take the test.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Babylon AD and other musings

So Husband and I have seen some movies lately. First we saw The Dark Knight which was especially good. I just saw Batman Begins a few months ago so I was excited to see this one in the theater. I'm sure that just about everyone else has seen this one already so I wont' go into details on that. But Husband was in charge of purchasing the popcorn pre movie while I saved seats, unnecessarily. He got the large. I was eating movie theater popcorn for three days. Mmmm...

But then we both had Friday off in honor of Husband's 31st birthday and we decided to see the new Vin Diesel movie, Babylon AD. Now, I am of the opinion that when a person sits down for a Vin Diesel movie they are promised a few things. A sort of contract with Vin and the movie company. There will be explosions and shootings and more likely than not a shirtless Vin Diesel. And this movie did not disappoint. They even threw in a Hummer v. Land Rover car chase which was just like icing on the Vin Diesel cake. But it was noticeably short on a complete plot. This was not too much of a let down because I do not watch Vin Diesel movies for the plot. But the movie was only an hour and a half long and I (who does not like sitting through movies) could have used another half an hour if it would have clarified the plot some. It was worth the matinee price we paid and when it comes on tv I will watch parts of it again, hoping that the plot is, if not better, then at least more complete. I cannot say it was either good or bad, rather it was just incomplete.

On another matter, this is the sign in front of one of the seedy motels down the street from our house. And to think that I have been going to the Econolodge all this time. La Yen, I think this may go along with Isabel's Papsmears.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yarr! A Pirates Life for Me.

I like to think of myself as a pirate. I like to think that I too could pillage my way through the isles of the Caribbean. I like to think that I can handle both a sabre and a small flintlock, I did grow up in the sticks so I have some experience with fire arms. I like to think if I needed to I could bare having my leg amputated with no more anesthetic than a bottle of whiskey and a musket ball to bite down on. Most importantly, I know I'd look good in a puffy shirt and an eye patch (which means I think I could also be a soap star but that's another post entirely).

Now the one thing that I do have going for me is a proclivity toward rather colourful verbosity. Indeed the standard interlocutor might be deceived into assuming that I spent time in a French jail. Why a French and not a Turkish jail you ask? Well it's because I learned to "city-drive", not in the mean streets of New York; my New York mean streets were typically not paved and often booby-trapped with cows. Instead I learned in the very narrow and very crazy streets of France. As a result of dodging maniacs speeding through the Arc de Triomphe, for road rage my cursing reflects the anger of a man who uses cologne as deodorant.

Wife has fought a noble, and one could argue feeble, battle against this propensity. For the most her oft used statement of "they can't hear you" has tended to dull my anger and coarser habits while driving. However sometimes things slip out over which I have little control. I submit to you three scenarios and ask for your opinion on them.

1. Doing dishes you randomly grab a can that is in the sink to be rinsed off for recycling, because you love the earth of course. In so doing you give yourself a nice deep cut that is the flesh wound equivalent of the Grand Canyon. While you're too manly to go for stitches, are you justified in the loud profanity that you're sure your dead grandmother heard in the next county over?

2. During a nice leisurely walk on a Sunday afternoon you stop to help a motorist push start their car. As they speed away you step on a rusty nail the size of the Eiffel Tower which easily passes through the sole of your flip flop and firmly embeds itself into the bridge of your foot. Can you explain away to your wife that you didn't say what she thinks you said?

3. You're in church and one of the teenage boys who's trying to impress the girls by pretending to dunk, runs by and pulls your arm out of its socket. Does your "Son of a ...." in front of 20 youth and the bishop mean you're doomed to hellfire and brimstone?

I guess the moral of the story is that since I already swear like a pirate I might as well get the eye patch.

I've even got the sneer down.

Okay that's a totally old photo but it worked with my overall narrative. Thanks for bearing with me and now I go to bed.

And here's another relatively obscure video for your perusal:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

So Contented

I just finished a wonderful dinner made by Husband of chicken breasts pounded flat, stuffed with a ham/cream cheese filling, rolled and baked. Now I go to watch the Olympics. Plus, I don't have to teach Relief Society tomorrow and I am on break from school so it is completely guilt free loafing. That is all.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Quiz time. We wanted to get the opinion of you, the blog readers, on something of great importance. Our friend and former roommate (guess which one of us), Cami (can't link you because she took her formerly excellent blog offline. That's okay we only hate her a little bit because of it), recently announced her upcoming nuptials. For this we are most excited, but having looked at her incredibly gorgeous ring we are left with several questions relating to engagedness.

1. Should the "question" be a surprise or a previously agreed to arrangement?
2. Should the man pick the ring out on his own or should the woman have a voice in choosing it?
3. If the man opts for a family heirloom engagement ring, can the woman refuse it in favor of her own ring?
4. (for women) If he breaks off the wedding and had given you an heirloom ring can you keep it? What about if it's one that you picked out?
5. If your mother-in-law offers to make you (or your wife) lingerie, are you justified in calling off the wedding?

All these questions will be posted on the side for your vote and we encourage any and all conversation relating to them in our comments section.

In other news. I'm turning old again soon. That's right number 31 is right around the corner and I think it only fitting that wife get me something really nice. So I'd like all our regular readers to petition her to get me this:

It's electric and therefore good for the earth. I'm worth it right?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Lost Boy Scout

If he were alive today Norman Rockwell would be arrested as a pedophile. Take the following painting as a prime example to prove my point.

As disturbing as I find the above image, it is not the most disturbing of his paintings. Why would that be you ask? Well that's a great question thank you for asking. First because all of his paintings seem unnaturally happy. Let's face it most people struggle through the drudgery of the daily grind just hoping to get home to watch a little tv, eat a little food (a lot of food in America), and dream about telling their boss exactly where to put their job. NO ONE is as happy as the individuals that Rockwell painted. No one that is, who's not in a cult, a Stepford Wife, or perhaps enjoying the pleasure of hallucinogenic toad mucus.

Secondly, and from my perspective more disturbing, is his plethora of paintings of that greatest of paramilitary cults, that breeder of arsonists, that inculcater of blind patriotic devotion. Yes I speak of the Boy Scouts of America, the greatest evil society this side of Skull and Bones. There's just something about a bunch of adult men and boys in the woods, wearing thigh high khaki shorts that seems very, very wrong.

Now I know that some of our readers are devoted to the Boy Scouts whole heartedly. Good for you guys. For me, I always felt it attracted the type of people who were most likely to be playing Dungeons and Dragons in their parents basement when they turn 40 years old.

Despite this antipathy toward scouting I find myself involved with them if somewhat remotely and certainly reluctantly. Our church has a scout troop, and for good or ill since I'm involved with the youth group I'm involved with the scouts. Please note for future reference people that if someone asks you if you want to help out with teenagers in any capacity whatsoever, the answer is, NO!

In any event I also happen to be the proud owner of a truck. Wife would tell you it's her truck but that's just silly (The truck is about the only manly thing about me, don't take that away from me). Juxtaposing my truck ownership and my scouting affiliation you can guess my primary role. I'm a mule.

Now from what I can understand, scouting involves being one with nature, cherishing it, and then burning it down. At least I think that's the scout law. The job of the scout leaders is to make sure that the boys don't get near the matches. As such we plan activities that will mitigate the fire risk and encourage physical development and outdoorsiness. Thus we came up with the idea of a spring time mountain biking trip.

Picking up the kids and their bikes we (four adults and five gagillion kids) headed up to the "mountains" for what's listed as a pretty strenuous ride. True to description the rocks were jagged, the tree roots were rooty, and this adult at least was out of shape. We spent a great deal of time pushing our bikes around the trail.

Which was fine because it was just a good day to be out in nature....well except for the five hour delay after the bike ride as we waited for the search and rescue helicopter to find the boy scout we lost. In all fairness, we didn't so much lose him as he lost the trail...and hey at least they didn't start anything on fire.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The End of Our Stay-cation

I use that term tongue-in-cheek. This past weekend marked our fifth of five straight weekends of being away from home. Coupled with being going pretty much the entire Sunday before and after that stretch and we are tired. I would give so much to be home for more than a week at a time. Unfortunately I leave for my week in Syracuse Monday morning. But at least Husband gets to be at home.

So last weekend we spent in the Palmyra area with the Collins from PA and the Coopers from England and the Jakobs from Canada and the Luangraths from Chicago. Eleanor (Megan's sister) and Wes (John and Noelle's friend from Wales) joined us. We saw some of the sights, bar-be-qued and laughed. It had been years since I was at the Grandin Publising House so it was good to go again. Some of us had done most of the other sights in October when we got together. Good times were had by all, sometimes getting a bit out of control. Here are some of the highlights from how I see it, in no particular order and certainly not all-inclusive:

1. Seeing old friends and being reminded, yet again, that we do not have these kinds of friends in New York.
2. Enlarging the group from the usual Collins-Coopers-Forbes, especially since it worked so well. The Luangraths and the Jakobs were a natural fit (and I do not mean that in an offensive way to them:)
3. Sitting around the campfire chatting, even though we were told to keep it quiet.
4. Wes with an entire piping hot salt potato in his mouth.
5. Hearing the Queens' English again, and even some Welsh.
6. Attending the Palmyra Temple.
7. The group of youth in front of us during the Hill Cumorah Pageant reacting all at once with coughs right after John Collins and Husband applied bug spray--and then when they got talked at by their leader for being disruptive.
8. John Collins offending the woman in church--it was John Collins this time and not John Cooper or Husband.
9. Eowyn, Lucy, Konrad, and Anders playing in the rain on Saturday.
10. Colin's and Eowyn's goodbye hug.
11. Realizing, again, how much Husband's 2 year mission to Paris has made him who he is.

I am still exhausted from all the traveling and trying to get the house back in order after weeks of neglect. Those of you we didn't get to see during our trips, I am sorry but we will feel more up to it someday and until then, our door is open to you. Here are some more photos from the trip. Enjoy.

The lot of us at the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I will have to get the better picture taken with Joseph Smith from Wes and when I do I will post it.

Husband with his new best friend, Colin. At least all the kids in the group are cute.

Some of the children playing in the rain.

Friday, July 04, 2008

To the Huddled Masses

While I often will rant about politics and the state of American culture, I very rarely write about America itself. However, with Memorial Day recently passed, having spent a week with Captain Galan, and today being July 4th, I have been thinking somewhat of my relationship with the country of my birth.

As most of you know I am not a gun toting, flag waving American. You will never catch me wearing an American flag tie to church, not because I'm not patriotic but because I think they're tacky. Nor will I put a flag poll in my front lawn, not because I don't honor the flag but because I could never treat it with due respect and care.

You will however find me standing quietly for the entire national anthem at a sporting event. You will find me solemn and reverent when I visit national historic monuments like those in D.C. My solemnity turns to tears when I walk the grounds where our brave men and women have bled and died in places like Gettysburg, Saratoga, or Normandy. My patriotism is my own, and it is not something that I often flaunt.

However it is something that burns hot when I hear people use the guise of patriotism to justify the ugliest of racisms and bigotries. It infuriates me when people use their patriotism to justify "English Only" initiatives, or to warn of the danger of Muslim immigration, or to belittle others as unpatriotic for not wearing a flag lapel pin.

The ideals that motivate these false patriotic sentiments are not the ones that allowed a Portuguese Sephardic Jewish emigre to pen "The New Colossus" in an era when she herself wouldn't have been considered "white". Yet Emma Lazarus looked forward with the hope implicit in Ellis Island and the immigration booths of New York City when she wrote the immortal words:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Sailing past that modern colossus my paternal great-grandfather and his parents came to this country. He carried with him the wounds he suffered in the trenches of Picardie and Alcase-Lorraine from shot and gas. He left the land of his fathers to come to America to make a better life.

At the same time but on the other side of the continent, my Mexican ancestors fled the violence of Pancho Villa and the Revolution to settle in California. There they lived, my great grandmother never learning English but raising her children to love their adopted homeland. There my grandfather watched the navy ships come in and out of the harbor and longed for the day when he too could join the navy, enlisting as so many others before he was of age to fight.

This is the story of all people in this nation. I think Barack Obama said it better than I can.
I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible....It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.
I am not short-sighted enough to think that these anecdotes justify an attitude of superiority and condescension toward the rest of the world. Nor do I believe that the actions of America are inherently righteous. I cringe when I hear Americans pray for our troops to be blessed but not for peace to reign. Implying in their prayers that God should bless our troops that they'll shoot straighter than our enemies. Do I want our troops to be blessed? Hell yes. But I'd rather they be blessed by being returned to their families and loved ones in safety.

I find it offensive that demagogues, sophists, and fascists have co-opted the language of patriotism and made it proprietary to their political affiliation. They have no right to claim a monopoly on love of country, yet they do, and too often people allow them to do so. Even worse the bombastic rhetoric of these ill-informed hypocrites leaves too many ashamed of their own patriotism. Many fear that they will be associated with the ideas of the lunatic fringe if they, for example play the Marseillaise (wrong country? well it's true in France as well as America).

From a personal perspective, my nationality is an act of God, nature, or biology over which I had no control. I could have just as easily been born in Baghdad, Paris, or Rio as Newport Beach, California. I can derive from this accident of birth no superiority over any other person in any other part of the world. But I can and should be grateful that I live in a nation where I have the opportunity to rise from humble beginnings and make for myself something better. That ultimately is the promise that my immigrant ancestors sought at Ellis Island and it is that promise that makes me proud of my country, despite it's follies.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Disney, Mea Culpa

Like with most people my childhood experiences framed my prejudices and opinions. And for the most part I was right. Some of these opinions include the following: no matter how often you watch it Ghostbusters is always funny, radishes are the worst vegetables God created, and don't get too attached to your animals because your dad just might make them your next meal.

While the above are true, I was wrong when it came to Disney. I always thought that Michael Eisner would reveal himself to be the anti-Christ, and that Disney's goal was to subvert the world of cinema and create a child army to overthrow the government. In my early year's Disney's only redeeming quality was that their animated heroines were always scantily clad.

How wrong was I! Disneyworld is the greatest place on earth! I know that he told me I was wrong but I still am surprised that Waldo was right. As I'm the "Hobbit" version of him, I should have guessed he was right.

For the record no this was not a staged photo, we just happened to be wearing identical outfits.

By far the best part of the trip was the Tower of Terror...or was it Aerosmith Rockin' Rollercoaster....or was it the Safari? I loved it all, and the German beer-garden was tremendous. Thanks Waldo and Jen.

Here's some more pics:
If only we'd been in costume. Though I don't think the rebel alliance made uniforms to fit my fat butt.

However I could have given the midget in the R2-D2 suit a run for his money

How can you resist that smile. Jooj was very well behaved the entire time she was with us. What a camper.

Not to be out done the Eng kids were equally cute, although I don't think anyone would think any of the children belonged to us.

I guess there are three morals to our trip: 1. It is possible for me to be wrong!!! (I know, right?) 2. Vacationing is best when done with good friends! 3. People think a gringo in a Mexican Wedding Shirt is funny.

And since I'm waxing Latin in my Mexican Wedding Shirt here's a little Buena Vista Social Club.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Conversion Story

No, I am not going to get all churchy on all of our readers--I leave that to husband. I'm talking about a whole nother sort of conversion.

The thought of a trip to a Disney park has never appealed to me in the least. I thought I would end up paying a bunch of money to stand in line with other people's whiny children. The food would be expensive and not up to par for my tastes. The rides would not be worth however long I would have to wait before I got a turn. It was for all of these reasons that, though I was excited to see the Galans I was not thrilled that they wanted to meet in Orlando.

Until last Wednesday. I was right about one thing about Disneyworld. We did end up nearly breaking the bank on admission alone, but Jen explained that when at Disney, the dollar is like play money. But I was way wrong about the rest. Because of the fast pass that was available at most rides and the single rider line, the longest I had to wait in line was 1.25 hours for the brand new Toy Story Ride but the talking Mr. Potato head kept up entertained for much of that wait. We went to Animal Kingdom and Epcot on Wednesday and Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom on Thursday. Then we spent Friday at the pool at the condo and Alissa even brought the kids down to join us. My skin is now peeling off my shoulders.

I know that this post is getting close to being as long as some of husband's but here are some of the highlights from the trip as far as I can remember (in no particular order):
1. Seeing old friends who could never be replaced. I don't think we will ever have a social circle as great as the one while we were newly married in Utah.
2. The Eng children calling husband George.
3. Guitar Hero even though I suck and husband is only serviceable at the game.
4. The condo we stayed at, pretty much the greatest way to travel.
5. Going to the Orlando Temple.
6. Reminiscing about the good old days both from growing up times and the days in Provo when we were newly married.
7. Playing the game "Who's checking out Danielle" (the teen the Galans brought to babysit while we went out just the grownups at night.)
8. The fact that husband rode (and enjoyed!) the rides with me--even the fast ones.

We have not taken the photos off the camera yet so you'll have to wait for those.
We're already planning our next trip.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Summer

Our summer is fixin' to be absolutely crazy so for fear of not being in touch until the fall, here is a little update of recent happenings and what we'll be about over the next six weeks or so.Our most recent set of fosters are now gone. I'm always a little sad and a lot relieved.
We chaperoned a youth temple trip in Palmyra yesterday and now we are known as the cool couple in the ward. This will certainly be an asset and liability in the future. Today we went out the Cooperstown area to visit friends. We leave Tuesday after work for Florida to see the Galans (including their 3 year old daughter we have never met) and the Engs (whose three youngest children we have never met). The weekend after that it is off to Boston to say farewell to John and Mia and boys. For Independence Day we are again going to State College PA for the best hamburgers I have found, EVER. And to see the Collins. The weekend after that we will be in NYC for a Mets game with my folks and to visit the Vogelmans. After that we will spend a weekend in the Palmyra area with friends from the Paris mission, circa 1996-1998.
A week after we get home from that I take off for my annual week in Syracuse.
All this while I am taking a class. Can't wait until I'm done after November.
And we're finally putting the deck on the back of the house. A deck party will be had once we are home enough.
I made my German Chocolate Cake from scratch just a few weeks ago. I will be doing more cooking come December.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Boston Tea Party's Legacy

Well after a few days of mourning we made a decision. First let me back up. As I mentioned before, our computer died. We'd been talking about a Mac for awhile. Wife's hesitancy was that once we buy a mac we'd have to "get all kinds of robes and lotions and we'd have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting. We'd have to get new friends. We'd have to get mac friends." Or maybe Seinfeld said that.

The point is that for a variety of reasons, not least of which is price, we've postponed our foray into true yuppiedom and stuck with a PC. My work contact at Dell was even nice enough to express ship it to me so that it only took three days to get here. Coupled with the fact that our friends Matt and Rhianna put up with us for a full night while he saved our hard drive everything is xp-tastic here at UsAndCats. I'm just looking forward to building a gaming machine with Matt one of these days....I'm a geek as the quiz below showed.

83% Geek

While I may be a geek I need proper geek fuel. But I get ahead of myself. As we get into the patriotic season for Americans everywhere, Memorial Day just passed and Independence Day is fast approaching, I thought it important to kick off the season right with a little history lesson.

Yes I know you hate these kinds of posts. Your dislike stems mostly because they're long and rambling and nonsensical...actually if you hated those kinds of posts you wouldn't read this blog.

I cannot help but rejoice in the acts of my patriotic ancestors; my literal ancestors were still for the most back in the old countries. In the mid-1770s the English colonists of the great city of Boston (Go Sox!) decided they'd had enough. Their yearning for freedom to wear big belt buckles and glut themselves on turkey the third Thursday of every November had led themselves to this promised land. Here the rivers ran of honey and delectable animals of the New World forests would veritably throw themselves down the settler's throats they were so easy to catch and eat. It was Eden, Nirvana, Shangri-La.

And of course the English ruined it. It wasn't the taxes that the Bostonians disliked, in fact they love taxes to this day. In fact it was something much simpler but more important. It was that the British ruined this fair land with an insipid grey liquid that they required all Charles River residents to drink every afternoon. Faced with the prospect of drinking the flavor equivalent of used bathwater each noon, the residents rebelled, hurling the filthy stuff into the harbor (interestingly it still hasn't recovered from this early pollution) and drove the British out of the New World.

Because of the noble actions of these patriots today we have the great joy of drinking what can only be described as the height of soft drink engineering....

three new flavors of Mountain Dew! MMMM....Geek Fuel!

Okay this whole post was to tease our European Mt. Dew junkies about not being able to drink these new sodas. Sorry guys. Even worse than this post is that we did actually buy all four of these Mt. Dews, my teeth feel like they're rotting as I type.

And now for something completely Canadian...and pertinent.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Wrath of the Computer Gods

So I have quite a few posts to catch up on, but I wanted to update you all on why I'm posting from an Ubuntu computer that I stole from work (I didn't really steal it, it was going to be thrown out. I kind of rescued it. And then the machinist and I started experimenting with it and various Linux distros, but I digress.). I write from this computer because our old trusty HP a642n is DEAD! (cue dramatic music).

Now there's a lot of irony with this. For awhile now I've been contemplating buying one of those external hard drives. Finally I found a deal that tickled my fancy at Office Max. Bringing it home I decided this would be a good opportunity to clean my office. It, my office, usually lies in a state of constant disarray, with empty Mountain Dew bottles strewn like flotsam from a flood. Anyway, I disassembled my computer, swept, mopped, and tried unsuccessfully to repair a dead flat panel monitor that I've had for awhile. Once done I went to set my computer back up. I had a bit of trouble with the power strip but didn't think much of it.

Getting everything set back up, I plugged in my computer and went to turn it on to feed my addiction...and nothing. I unplugged it and tried a different outlet....nothing. I noticed when it was plugged in, that the little LED in the back was blinking. I plugged in my trusty old Ubuntu to find out what that meant. It seems that indicates some defective hardware. Now we were in the fun-zone, I could troubleshoot to find out what was dead. I unplugged the power supply to see if it was the power supply that's fried (this was my first and hopeful suspect)...nope the power supply was fine. Next I unplugged the drives. Nope they were good too. Now my two least favorite options remained. The hard disk and the mother board.

If the hard disk was bad than all of our photos, all of our documents, and music (not to mention our forth-coming self-help book "Our Children Won't be Like That: A childless couple's guide to parenthood" (all rights reserved)) would be lost. Not to mention that it would be terribly ironic to have bought an external hard drive to back all those things up and to have fried the hard disk while getting ready to do so. That said the Computer Gods had some pity on me. For it wasn't the hard disk, but the motherboard that was dead. Hurray?

And so we're left with a problem I didn't want. Do I buy a new mother board for a 5 year old computer? Do we update our computer with a 7-year old, but still solid, operating system in Windows XP? Do we brave all of the problems with Windows Vista? Do I embrace my inner nerd to the max and make Wife use a Linux box? or Do I simply go Mac?

Ah the conundrums. I guess the moral of the story is this: Beware of the irony and computer gods getting together, or your motherboard too will get fried at the least opportune time.

We'll miss you our old friend.

HP a642n

Since the Ubuntu doesn't have any internal speakers and I'm too lazy to hook up our old system here's my muxtape, where's yours?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The First Church of the Internet

Each morning bleary eyed I arise from my stupor. Each morning I stumble out of bed, invariably kicking my shoes, my cats, my door jam. Each morning Wife and I communicate in grunts. "Ungh" I say with all of the love of the mute that I am. "Ungh" is the grumpy reply.

Wandering through the house trying to focus my myopic eyes I hope that the glass that I grab for my morning orange juice is clean. I have even more hope and prayers that the container I grab from the fridge is O.J. and not chicken broth. Pouring my O-Jo I return to the living quarters. There I set down my O-Jo as a sacrifice and bow myself before my great God, the internet. Thus I begin my day supplicating at the newest idol the earth has seen.

To which prophets of the new computer religion do I adhere you might ask? Well the number of their counting is five.

1...Our blog, just to see if we have friends. We know these exist because we get comments. Evidently we have ten friends.
2...Google Analytics. This way I can see who's stalking us. I know who our friends are based on #1, but I can't for the life of me figure out who our stalkers are from Minnesota. I figure our York, Pa. visits are ex-boyfriends that Wife hasn't told me about.
3...Next I visit my favorite liberally biased news. I need to be told what to think about things that I'm to lazy to research on my own.
4...Google Reader comes next in the pantheon. So that I may see what my friends have posted on their blogs. Also to see if there's anything new on the Fail Blog
5...Lastly I must check the nerd news.

Well now that you know my morning routine here's another 30 rock clip.

And for those not converted to 30 Rock (or out of the States) here's my new favorite Swedish rock band. Yes I know how funny that sounds to our American readers, but seriously this video reminds me of a cross between an Orbit commercial and what an Abba video should have been like. Enjoy Dungen.

Now playing: Editors - Munich
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wait Wait Guess Who Got Tickets

We're liberal elitists. If you didn't get that by our rabid support for Barack Obama, or the fact I flaunted for several weeks our "Post-Graduate" blog rating, or by reading our tag line, I'd be surprised. In fact the only thing that separates us from the cloud of smug that lingers over the dreadlocked, latte sipping, Starbucks crowd is my inability to shake the frugality of my Scottish ancestors. If only I could bring myself to shell out the money for a Prius, than I too could join the ranks of the morally superior and look down my nose at the proletariat from my great and spacious building. (Wow did I just mix scripture and Karl Marx? Dare I insinuate that materialism is the great whore of all the earth? I think I just did! Take that Capitalism.)

Moving along, for which you're undoubtedly grateful, we've developed the following quiz. This way you too can know if you're suffering from a raging case of superioritis. Please note European elitism differs in that you have to be part of the landed aristocracy to truly be an elitist, or just French (kidding there, I love the French even if they did drive my ancestors out of their country).

1. Does NPR constitute the majority of your radio listening? (+1). If you are a member (+3)
2. When you get junk mail does it come from the A. Audubon Society, B. World Wildlife Foundation, C. the Sierra Club? (+1 for each) Do you get junk mail from Greenpeace or Planned Parenthood (+3 for each).
3. Do you compost while living in town? (+2)
4. When you buy a wool sweater does it have to be llama hair? (+2)
5. When you think of a "sexy car" does a Prius come to mind? (+4)

and lastly....

6. Have you ever been to see Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, live? +5

Well we have! Yep that's right we got to see the greatest radio show on earth recorded live at the Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady (10 miles from our house). It was awesome!! Of course making jokes about coming to Albany is like shooting fish in a barrel these days (our governor resigned for soliciting prostitution for those of you not in America...it's ironic because he made his career as a prosecutor fighting, you guessed it, prostitution.). Still listen to this week's show, it's great.

Oh and your score totals: 0-3=The Gestapo did their job well in brainwashing you, 4-8=Get ready for dinner with the Rothschild's this evening, I hope your monocle is polished, 9-13=C'mon make up your mind. You can't be middle of road in these quizes that's just boring, try again. 14-21=Ah now you're in flavor country. Make sure to get out your birkenstocks and hemp pants now that it's spring. I'll see you at the May Day celebration. 22+=Comrade.

And here's a "What if The Shawshank Redemption was a comedy" trailer my buddy Tyler did.

Redeeming Shawshank from Tyler Jacobs on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Icons of an Era

Periodically in American history there are movements that define a generation.

In the early 1800s anti-masonry and the Anti-Mason Party helped alert America to the evils of that band of apron-wearing back-room-deal-making weirdos.

In the 1870s thru the early 1930s it was the Temperance movement. This army of bitter house wives struck a blow for wives everywhere sick of cleaning up their husbands alcohol induced vomit. This poorly aimed vomit proved, coincidently, that one can't puke in a chamber pot when sloshed.

TV forever transformed the homes and communities of America. Instead of meeting at taverns to discuss things while getting hammered, American men now met to watch sports (in which they could not participate because of their ever expanding waste lines due to watching sports instead of playing) while imbibing of the devil's brew. Concurrently with this trend the poodle skirt and leather jacket manufacturers of America created a movement based on bad musicals set in NYC. This proved the first and most important maxim of American manufacturing. "Get kids to want it and they'll pester the parents into buying it". This maxim has effectively created our society of conspicuous consumption.

Fast forward to the 1990s and a new movement appeared. This movement was not only paradoxical in name but represented the apogee of American cultural life. This was the movement of the "do-nothing generation". A generational swath of time wasting, ambitionless people, lazed about the land at Starbucks and Borders, discussing the difficulties of their sex lives and Nietzsche (and hopefully not how the two meshed).

This high point in American society was embodied in the greatest program in television history. Yes, I speak of Seinfeld.

From feeding Beefarino to a Handsome Cab horse, to the Soup Nazi. From stomping on a flaming Puerto Rican flag to getting beat up by a large group of....well queens....for not wearing the AIDS ribbon. Seinfeld encapsulated in a half hour every week the life of every lazy 20-something still living in their parents' basement. Seinfeld was their life story, and thus the greatest of all television series.

And yet....

Dare I suggest it...

Dare I say it....

30 Rock is better!