Technology And Getting Older

The way things are configured into my house right now, my laptop is right next to Trillian’s AeroGarden she got for Christmas.  I gotta tell ya, I was skeptical at first – I figured this might be a ripoff on a level just short of sea monkeys.  Aeroroponics?  It just didn’t sound right.

I should have known better, having been to The Land at Disney World – this is the exact same technology, on a smaller scale.  It’s not a cheap little device.  Looking at the sprouts already coming up, it’s quite a decent machine.  The lights are bright, brighter than the normal lights in the room!  They stay on for 16 hours, then let the plants rest for 8.  We are growing herbs in it right now – once they are ready for harvesting, we can harvest for 4 to 6 months!  Trillian’s already told me she’s going to charge me 5 cents for every sprig.

Which reminds me: many folks, even the most surprising people, keep saying we could make a lot of money growing and harvesting something else.  Shame, shame.  🙂

Considering the trouble it takes to grow herbs in TN, I would highly suggest one for Aunt B.  Here’s a photo of the thing.

Where was I?   Oh, yeah, my laptop is next to it.

The Aerogarden makes me want to go pee.  Talk about drip,drip,drip… It constantly cycles water through (this IS areo/hydroponics).  Here it sits next to me, mocking me, saying, “How long can you hold it, boy?  You think you could type one more line?  You know you have to go…”

OK, I’m back.  Whew.

Anyway, I know I’m getting older, because I’ve decided that next year I want one of those weather stations the old men have.  I have an overwhelming desire to know what the temperature and humidity is right outside my house.  What I REALLY want, I don’t think they make yet, at least for consumers.  I’d like a set of instruments that wirelessly connects to your home network, so you can just view all the readings on your computer.

Before you have to go pee, that is.

 Anyway, there was a beautiful fog rising in the valley this morning.

Sunrise Fog

Don’t Be A Grima

This is something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a long time, and interestingly, there has been a sort of convergence lately that finally forces my hand.  I think this will make a good end/beginning of year topic, fulfilling the role my post on living without fear had last year.

I feel that this post should have more disclaimers than an Alli ad.  Keep the following things in mind as you read on:

  • Every man is ultimately responsible for his own actions.
  • It is helpful to point out societal problems.
  • Everyone has their own style, and all styles are useful.

Now, clear your mind and be willing to challenge yourself. 

One of the most intriguing characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ringswas Grima, who was sometimes called Grima Wormtongue.  Now, to refresh your memory, Grima, son of Galmod, was advisor to King Theoden, but also in league with the evil wizard Saruman.  His task was to weaken Theoden through lies and persuasion.

Grima’s methods are many times misunderstood.  Yes, he told lies, but he wisely kept outright deceptions to a minimum.  Instead, he told half-truths, and played to Theoden’s weakness and fear.  He gave the king a constant drip, drip, drip of cants and why bothers and most importantly, painted a general picture of hopelessness.  This had the desired effect.

Now, I want to say this: poverty is sad.  Discouragement, however, is heartbreaking.

Let me say, I know you , my fellow blogger, are a good person.  You mean well, and wish to help your fellow man.  But you must ask yourself:  am I a modern day Grima Wormtongue?  Believe me, you might not can see it, but I do.  Many of you provide a constant drip, drip, drip of everything that’s wrong with the world.  Most likely, you do this because you seek a particular political or religious solution to a very real set of societal problems. 

Look at your posts and comments from this past year.  Be honest with yourself.  Many of you send these messages to the poor downtrodden, and discriminated against:

Drip, drip,drip.  And then, one of the downtrodden himself gives reason after reason for not even trying, and his reasons sound vaguely familiar, almost as if they were spoon-fed to him over the course of many years.  Almost as if they were whispered in his ear by someone who only wanted to help.

We do this, especially we bloggers.  We can do better.

How about, instead, we begin to look at each and every person as extraordinary?  How about not discouraging dreams, but nourishing the spark that lies within us all?  What would the world look like if we weren’t constantly whispering into each others’ ears how hopeless things are?  What if we became a source of encouragement and energy?

Reagan saw the shining city on the hill, Kennedy sought do do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, Martin Luther King saw the other side of the mountain.  These men did not shirk from problems, but they sought to solve them by harnessing the fire within us all.

Ask yourself: in this new year, are you going to inspire, or are you going to discourage?

Steer Clear

I am in a foul, foul mood today.

For some reason, this seems to be “snarky condescension day”, at work, at home, and on the blogs.

There’s been a problem with Lintilla’s application for disability.  The doctor’s office filled out their part, and was trying to be helpful, and faxed the form directly to the insurance company. Only problem is, Lintilla’s employer had not yet filled out their part.  So, we have to start all over again.  Long story short, we’re minus one income for a while.  Starting now.  And the emergency fund is going fast.

But, enough about that.

I’m tired. X-Alt had a 4-hour rehearsal last night, and tonight looks like it’ll be at least 5.

It’s a grey day, and my head is cloudy because I didn’t have enough time to sleep off last night’s Ambien.

I know I’m no bundle of joy right now.  Give me a while, and I’ll be back to my usual, bubbly self.

Lookin’ Forward To Doin’ It

Some of you know what I’m doing this weekend.  I’m excited, because it’s been a long time since I’ve done this sort of thing.

I love doing it, but there just hasn’t been time, and I’m a family man now.

If you hadn’t done it in over 25 years, you’d be excited, too.

Christmas Past

It’s probably time for a new printer/scanner.  But this is still my favorite Christmas photo:

 Early Christmas

It’s funny.  They are just as excited today as they were on this day.

Merry Christmas To All From Shoot The Moose!

I pray that each and every one of you receives joy and peace.

You know, I’ve always swore I’d never become one of “those people”, the ones who, when asked what they want for Christmas, reply “I don’t want anything – I’ve got everything I need.”

Well, I’ve become one of those people.

This is a weird Christmas; because of the events of the last month, we’ve been unable to go to any parties, or shop for surprises (we’ve had to be together while we shop this year), or any of the other usual stuff at Christmas that stresses us out. 

And I swear, this Christmas, with minimal (but heartfelt) decorations, and a lot of time spent just at home with one another, appears to be turning out to be one of the best ever.

Lintilla’s prognosis is good; it sounds corny, but how could I want more? Jimmy Stewart once said that Frank Capra made you pay for your happy endings.  Well, had it not been for the end of November and early December, I’d be complaining and stressed out about this crazy Christmas.

Instead, I am filled with a joy that is hard to describe.

Yesterday, at church, we dressed the kids up as much as we could without things coming to blows (Trillian is much more cooperative), and went to “big church”, the traditional service.  The tween kids were to read passages in between verses of “The Friendly Beasts”, which the little kids were singing.  All of them were adorable.

Zaphod came to his podium (our church has the two-podium setup), and read his lines flawlessly.  I was so happy, because he’s balked at doing things like this before, and I was afraid he’s say something crazy or roll his eyes in front of the entire congregation.  But, he gave me a wonderful gift by just showing how articulate he is, and not showing out for his friends.

Later came Trillian’s turn.  She stepped up to her podium, and I swear, at that moment, the sun streamed through the stained glass and bathed the left side of her face. She literally looked angelic.  Her soft, sweet voice read the lines (the hardest of the bunch) beautifully.  I was struck to the point of tears.

As she stepped down and the little kids began singing again, I looked at the cross between the two podiums, and thought to myself:

Thank you.

I am living a life I certainly don’t deserve. and have been given the gift of an even better eternal one.

I want to say that I thank God for each and every one of you.  You really are a gift that few men ever receive. 

Would Jesus Be An Enabler?

Josh Tinley wrote a great post.  So great, I tried to write a comment, and ended up with something so long I felt it would best be its own post.  You see, we’ve been talking a lot at MCB and other places about extending Christian mercy to those who are suffering, even those who are in the situations they are in due to unwise decisions.  I think the conversation is specifically about certain elements of the homeless population.

We have actually discussed this in Sunday School before, without coming to any kind of consensus:

As followers of Christ, what do we do when we suspect someone receiving our aid is gaming the system, or at the very least, taking advantage?  I know what common sense says, but what does Christ say?  Are we supposed to care if we strongly suspect we are, basically, giving a drunk a drink?  Do we even give any consideration to the thought that we’re possibly doing more harm than good, that we’re enabling a person in a way that will keep them in misery, instead of getting them out of it?

I ask, because I struggle with this.

I have no problem extending mercy to even to criminals who have committed what could be awful crimes; I’ve prayed with such men many times before, and made many friends behind prison walls.  Same goes for just about any situation a person gets himself into.  There but for the grace of God go I.

Yet, I have this blind spot about people who I know, or very strongly suspect, COULD work, but do not. 

The backdrop to this is that I come from pretty humble beginnings.  Everything I say has the backdrop behind it of where I come from, where I am now, and the concepts that got me from there to here.

My father never really preached religion to his three sons; he just sent us to church and let us get our religion by osmosis.  But, he preached nonetheless.

The only thing my blue collar father ever preached about, what he did drill into me was sermon after sermon on the value of work.  He would preach, “If you don’t have a job, and aren’t spending every waking moment looking for a job, you have shamed your name.”  Well, he didn’t say it like THAT, but I got the meaning loud and clear.

He believed that if you have a condition that keeps you from working, do everything possible to alleviate that condition – make it your number one priority – so you can WORK.  The work is the most important thing a man can do. Not the getting paid part – working itself.   Always work, and if you can’t, make a job of looking for work.

He taught me not to turn turn my nose up at ANY job, whether I found it beneath me or not, whether it could support me or not – the act of working was more important than the pay.  He taught me that taking a menial job, and outworking everyone, is the way to having a job that DOES support you and your family.  Other rules include never being late, that sick time is NOT “Not Feeling Well” time, that volunteering for the hardest tasks will get you ahead.  No matter what you do, be the best there is at that job, outwork EVERYONE, and prosperity will follow.  Approach the world of work with the attitude that you have something to prove, because you do. 

And my life has taught me that he was right.

I always have this voice in the back of my head telling me that a well spoken person in an area with 4% unemployment should be working.  He just should, period.   I can see my dad, shaking his head. And I just can’t shake that voice.

So, I have to square this teaching with my Christian beliefs. 

And, let me tell you, it’s hard.  Paul had some things to say about the slothful, and Jesus used them as a “bad example”, but we are not told if Jesus was ever taken advantage of, and if so, what he did about it.  Something tells me that he would have helped.  His prodigal son parable makes me think that; although I wonder: the son had given up “riotous living” – Jesus never makes it clear that the father did not go to the faraway country and help the son financially while he was still living in a way that would just mean his help was wasted.  So, I don’t know.

I am torn.  You can’t just throw away 20 years of paternal teaching – it kind of gets under your skin.  And it has served me well.  So, sometimes, I guess, this Christian has what appears to be an unmerciful attitude.  I’m not proud of it – but now you know why.

I guess all I can do is pray about it.


This post will self-destruct in 1 day.  I can’t chance Lintilla seeing it, but I need your help.  I finally put my expensive SLR camera to good use and took some really neat portraits of the kids, made them black and white to give them that “arsty” feel, and had them blown up.

Of course, I blew them up to a size nobody has a frame for.  Michael’s can make them, but obviously not before Christmas.

Anybody know a place that sells matted frames for 12×18 photos? Anybody that has a lot of stuff in stock?

Or, did I blow it?

Freedom and Justice For All

I took my kids yesterday on a quest to find Webinz charms (they are the must-have, non plush item because they allow the kid to enter a code at the Webkinz site and get more points – this is of utmost importance to the pre-teen mind, apparently).  The place where we finally found them (they are a kind of rare), was a breath of fresh air, and not just because they had Webkinz charms.

We have discovered Justice  (Just For Girls), in Nashville West. 

The place was refreshing for a couple of reasons.  A store that’s not for little kids, not for teens, but specifically for “tween” girls (they say ages 7-14).  You’ll find lots of “BFF” T-Shirts, lots of pink things, shiny things, and (what I am assured are), lots of fashionable clothes.  Hannah Montana, HSM2, and Jonas Brothers play over the sound system.  As I mentioned, there are Webkinz, Claire’s-like accessories, and other novelty items that I don’t understand but are apparently a big deal to that set.  They also had LOTS of those undershirts (I forget the name) girls wear when they need something, but aren’t quite ready for a bra.  Of course, Trillian was mortified that I was excited over the selection.  I AM a weird dad.

What I really loved – what was so refreshing after having fits over department-store tween girl fare, there was not a single midriff-baring outfit to be found.  No pants with “Juicy” written across the behind.  There were no outfits that make a tween girl look like a club-hopping college student.  There was no “BrittneyWear”.  It was stylish, but modest enough to pass the dad test.

And they aren’t too expensive.  I’m telling you, I really loved this place.

 When Lintilla is better, they can shop there all they want.  Trillian just didn’t feel like clothes shopping with her dad.  I don’t really blame her.

Just wanted to give a heads-up to all my friends with tween girls.

Worshipping Meat, and a Sting Operation

Two totally unrelated things:

This past week was not without comedy.  One thing you can count on when the kids are around me more than their mother: they will be more crass.  They will definitely be less politically correct.

I drove, like, 5000 miles this past week shuffling kids around and running errands.  As we passed by the Hindu Temple on Old Hickory Blvd, the kids seemed to notice it for the very first time.  I told them stories of how I used to deliver pizzas (veggie, no cheese), to that very temple in my youth.

Now, my kids, being MY kids, think that if you have a religion, that religion must have praise songs. (This is quite gratifying to me).  So, they proceeded to write their own version of Hindu praise songs.  But, somehow they lost their way; at first they sang songs listing the virtues of various animals, but before I knew it, the subject of the songs had changed to how wonderful those animals tasted, grilled with BBQ sauce.

So, here I was driving down Charlotte pike, with my children in the back seat, singing choruses about the joys of eating T-bone steak.

I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they were kind of missing the point.

See, that’s what’s wonderful about having kids in the tween ages.  They are smart, very smart, but they still have the joy and innocence of childhood.  Yesterday, I overheard them whispering, hatching a plot.  They are going to set up a hidden video camera on Christmas Eve.  They have serious doubts about Santa, but won’t give him up until they have video proof one way or the other.

It’s so cute, I want to hold onto this moment forever.  Do I get a Santa suit, and play along?

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