The Statute of Limitations Finally Ran Out

I just listened to “Stairway To Heaven” all the way through.  I haven’t done that in over 20 years.

I didn’t puke.

In fact, I kind of liked it.

I think in a few more years, I’ll actually be able to listen to “You Light up My Life”.

Hip To Be Square

Every year, to make the Super Bowl more interesting, the folks in my department do “Super Bowl Squares”.*

I’m sure you’ve seen them: a 10×10 grid with randomly drawn single digits running along the x and y axes.  One team is the x axis, one the y.  Entrants pay $5 per square.  You choose which square(s) you want before the numbers are drawn.  Which numbers you end up with are completely chance.

At the end of each of the first three quarters, if the last digit of each team’s score matches one of your squares, you win $100.  If your numbers match the last digits of the final score, you win $200. 

I always buy 2 squares.  This year, my numbers are:

Giants 2, Patriots 7
Giants 6, Patriots 5

So for example, if at the end of a quarter, the score is Giants 16, Patriots 35, I win $100 ($200 if it’s the final score).

So, in the very unlikely scenario that the Giants sack Tom Brady in the end zone, that happy screaming sound you hear from an undisclosed location in Bellevue will be me.

*Yeah, I called it the Super Bowl.  Come and get me, NFL.

Storms A-Comin’

But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’

“And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? ” – Matthew 16:2-3 (NASB)

I have an 11 year old boy and a 10 year old girl.  At our house, there is change coming.  You can feel it in the air.

Subtle changes are occurring in our kids’ bodies.  Parts growing, other parts, er, sprouting (or so I’ve been told).  My little girl just got over her first bout with acne.  A friend took a long look at her the other day and said, “Her face is changing; it’s becoming less child-like”.

But there’s one thing that tells Lintilla and I we’re in for a bumpy ride.

The moodiness.  Oh, the moodiness!

Last night, we had sulking, we had tears, we had fights, we had screaming, we had the silent treatment.  And this was just at church.  Both of our children, up till now so well behaved and intelligent, seem to have gone insane literally overnight.

Our house suddenly has a tension in the air I’ve never felt before.  They are good kids, but one can’t help but feel we are on the edge of a blowup or a meltdown, or both.

Oh, and we’re dealing with the emotional swings of menopause at the same time.

I’m told that the fun part hasn’t even started yet.  Oh, goodie.  It’s a tough way to live, this highly emotional state, all the time.  I now understand the impulse to get the doctor to give the kids a pill to make all of this stop.  It’s pretty tiring.

But, this is normal.  I was talking with Ford and his wife the other day; they have teens, and they believe that God arranges things so that when it’s time for the kids to leave the house, everybody in that house is eager to see it happen.

We aren’t there yet, but there are signs on the horizon.

Dumb Idgit Galoot

This is so stupid

I want my Christian friends to hear me out, lest they misunderstand.

John DeBerry has introduced a bill in the state house that bans adoption by non-married couples.  I’m sure its intent was to ban gay adoptions in a way that could pass constitutional muster.  As someone who is philosophically pro-life, this angers me.  You don’t ever discourage adoptions.  Ever. 

Never mind your preconceptions about the foster care system.  Vetting for permanent adoptions is very thorough – I know, I’ve been through it twice.  People who are not fit to parent, married, unmarried, gay, straight – will be ruled out by the home-study and the other state run processes.  And this bill is discriminatory: people who aren’t married but fertile can have all the children they want. 

There is already a hodgepodge of prerequisite rules for adoption; each agency has its own set of rules and requirements.  Our adoption agency only took applications from married couples, under a certain age, who weren’t overweight.

No doubt, these requirements, at the agency level, have discouraged many from choosing adoption to build their families.  But there are many agencies with much more liberal rules.  The important thing is that these rules were enforced by the agency and not the state.  This is as it should be.  We chose an agency we were comfortable with.  A very libertarian philosophy, if you ask me.

Back on point – some people just don’t think these things through.  They get so hung up about “teh gays” or couples who shack up, they diminish the pool of potential adoptive parents.  Don’t let anyone fool you, there is NOT a waiting list for special needs children, older children, non-white children.  These kids are near impossible to place.

You know what?  I was raised by sinners.  So were you.  I do not believe in degrees of sin. 

Don’t be a dumb idgit galoot.  Encourage adoption.

Hat tip: Braisted.

Laying Out Gate Clothes

I am in the middle of writing a song for the soon-to-be-recorded X-Alt CD (tentatively titled “Funky Shui”).  I’m having a really hard time finishing it, because it’s so different from most Christian music, and it’s such a different perspective than the one I usually put forth.

On its surface, it is not an optimistic song at all.  It is not written from the mountain top, looking back with thanksgiving over the recently travelled valley.  It is a song written from deep inside the valley.

It is one step short of despair.  It makes the listener ache.

The song is more about a mood than any one thing.  I put myself inside the minds of the prisoners we visit.  I’m writing from the perspective of my friends who have dire medical situations.  I’m writing from the point of view of my brothers – one has a degenerative muscle disease that has been stealing his strength since he was 17, the other just got laid off by an employer he served for 27 years.  I even borrowed from our own money situation (up until last week); savings gone, no more coming in.

Mostly, I was inspired by the story of Sascha Weinzheimer (as told in Ken Burns’ documentary The War).  In short, she was a girl roughly my own daughter’s age in 1942, part of a wealthy family who owned a sugar plantation near Manila when the Japanese took over.  She ended up, with the rest of her family,  in the internment camp the Japanese set up on the walled campus of the Santo Tomas University.  There, her life slowly descended into Hell. After almost 3 years, they were finally rescued by the 1st Cavalry Division on February 3, 1945.

I won’t totally recount her story here, in fact, I’d like you go to this site,  and read the chronological excerpts from her diary. It truly is compelling.  I’ll wait for you.

Two excerpts that appear back-to-back stand out to me:

January 12.
People are dying every day from starvation. Fred Fairman and Mrs. Everett yesterday. We have such a short time to go ““ what a pity they couldn’t hang on to life just a while longer. Mother weighs only 73 pounds ““she used to weigh 148 ““ and Dr. Allen says she has to stay in bed from now because she can’t walk.

January 17.

Buddy’s favorite expression is, “Let’s talk about food.” He has a favorite suit, too, which he calls his “Gate suit.” He’s been taking this suit out almost every day for months, putting it on the bed and saying, “I’ll put my Gate things right here Mummy, so I can be ready.” All of us have something saved to wear out the Gate. All of us except Daddy who has been bare-footed now for six months. “I don’t need a thing for the Gate except two good legs to walk out with,” he said.

“what a pity they couldn’t hang on to life just a while longer.”

“All of us have something saved to wear out the Gate.”

This is the place I’m writing the song from.

On second thought, this might be the most optimistic song I’ve ever written.  It’s about that moment when you are chained to the floor, when everything in the universe has lined up against you, and you can see no way out.

Yet, you defiantly believe there is a way out, nonetheless.

The Universe tells you to curse God and die.  Against all hope, you lay a suit out on the bed.

I think this is going to be a pretty good song.  I hope to get it completed soon.  Going to that place is a little draining.

Here’s A Tip: I’m Easily Amused

I’m all excited because I just discovered that my cell phone has a tip calculator.

Not that I would normally need it. When restaurant tipping, our default 20% is easily calculated in the head: take two 10 percents (which most third graders can calculate), and add them together.  Even I can do it.

But there are (rare) times when less than stellar service means will merit a 15% tip.  Although I THINK I can figure it out on the fly (one ten percent + half again), it’s nice to have a little electronic help.  Plus the thing helps you calculate how to split the tip if you have more than one person in your party.  What a neat toy.

IF the waiter slapped my dog and called my momma a Nazi cow, I’d have to lower the tip to 10 percent.  I do not tip below ten percent, ever.  I will not have a person who brought me food, no matter how bad or rude they are, be paid $2 wages for the entire time I am requiring their services.  Your mileage may vary, I just won’t do it.

Which of course, brings us to those everlasting controversies about tipping.  There are always questions:

  1. Would you ever NOT leave a tip?
  2. What are your tipping rules for buffets (assuming the wait staff still bring your drinks)? 
  3. Do you tip the girls at Sonic – and how much? 
  4. Is 10% a decent pizza delivery tip? Or do you just make it a flat 2 or three bucks?
  5. Do you tip more if the waiter/waitress flirts with you? (think Hooters).  Men, if the Hooters waitress takes forever bringing your food, but regularly brushes up against you and leans over the table strategically, do you still tip big?  Be honest.  BTW, women, I was once a waiter.  If you think we men don’t play these games with you (albeit more subtly), you are mistaken.  And you do tip more when we flirt with you.

Anyway, I am so happy to know I have a tip calculator in my cell phone.

Just in case, you know, I ever, like,  go back to Hooters.

Emily’s Worried About Her Water Breaking

Have I told you how much I like my representative in the Metro council, Emily Evans?  I absolutely love the fact that she blogs, and what’s more, she tells you what she REALLY thinks:

We have placed more and more burden on our Public Works budget and given it less and less of our tax dollars. Water Services has not had a rate increase since 1996 which was ok for a while. Now, if we don’t start putting capital in that system we may find ourselves in the same boat as Atlanta, GA and Franklin, TN. It was not the drought that forced Atlanta and Franklin and many other cities in the Southeast into water rationing it was their craven lack of planning and investment.

So, here are a few rules to live by: 1. Stuff that makes our city work; water and sewer lines, roads, bridges and sidewalks costs money; 2. That stuff rarely gets cheaper with time; 3. When it breaks it costs a whole lot more to fix than just keeping it running right in the first place; 4. It isn’t a problem that will ever go away.

So I’d like a new sewer line with my name on it, please.

She points out that Water Services hasn’t had an increase since 1996 .  Keep in mind, Evans represents one of the most the most affluent districts in Davidson County,  yet she pretty much lays out a pretty strong case for a water rate increase.

Even though I’m a borderline Republican, and I’m never too crazy about tax or rate increases, you have to admire Evans’ willingness to lay it all out there on the internutty for all to see.  And, like I said, she makes a pretty good case.

Harding Academy got so ticked off at her for not being in their pocket voting the way they wanted her to, they put up their own candidate against her in the last election.  She kicked his butt.

If you haven’t yet added her blog to your blogrolls, please do.

Oh, and Emily – If you’d make a habit of shooting spit-wads at Eric Crafton during council meetings, I’d vote for you for mayor.

Will You Watch The “New” Miss America?

I watched all four episodes of “Miss America, Reality Check” as part of my duties at Ugly Betty News.  Michael Urie, one of the stars of UB, hosted the reality show on TLC.

The premise was simple: Miss America is hopelessly out of date, the whole pageant world does not represent real women, nobody cares anymore, and this show (MARC) was an attempt to change all that.  Instead of hair and makeup that made the girls look like they were 40, new, fresh, “it” looks would be crafted for each contestant. 

Some of the makeovers were stunning.  Miss Alaska basically cut off 90% of her hair.  The short cut really fit her vibrant personality.  Miss New Mexico went from that plastic look to a kind of beauty a man can’t take his eyes off of.  What they did with her, and a few of the others, was a stark change, and for the better.

Apparently, the pageant is undergoing even more changes than to superficial things.  If the broadcast tonight follows the same pattern as the reality show, gone will be the “world peace” type Q&A.  For instance, in last night’s episode of MARC, they posed a surprise question to Miss Washington about gay marriage.  She then coolly revealed that she had two daddies herself.  (Being a reality show, of course it was pre-planned, IMHO).  But, can you imagine this kind of discussion in the Miss America pageant?  There might be fireworks!

Even the choosing of the contestants themselves seems to have changed. Miss Utah is a soldier, and to be honest, the least feminine of all the contestants.  Yet, I found myself cheering for her . 

One disappointing thing, Miss Tennessee, Grace Gore, might be gorgeous, but the reality show made her come off as a jackass.  I have no idea if she’s really a jackass – reality shows have a tendency to distort reality through creative editing.  She really seemed to have a problem with the very outgoing, silly, and brash Miss Alaska.  But that was probably just editing.  You can read this profile and see she’s no idiot.  But, you never know;  she may still be a jackass.

Anyway, since they are apparently trashing all the old conventions and who knows what the heck is going to end up happening tonight, are you interested enough to watch the pageant on TLC tonight?  We’ll be watching, at least.

It’s So Cool, I’m Going To Steal It

Joshua Blankenship has posted a list, and I don’t know if he intended it to be a meme, but it’s so cool, I’m going to steal it and turn it into one.

Five Songs I Wish I Could Summon at Will to Highlight My Entrance into a Room

  1. Cannonball – The Breeders
  2. Start The Commotion – The Wiseguys
  3. Still of the Night – Whitesnake
  4. Man of Constant Sorrow – Soggy Bottom Boys
  5. It Is Well With My Soul – Horatio Spafford
Posted in Music. 2 Comments »

Be Careful What You Wish For

Warning: political content.

I read with a little amusement Sharon Cobb’s recap of last night’s civil Republican debate.  On the whole, she’s got a pretty good eye for these things, and understands Republican politics better than many Republicans.  This part was the most interesting to me:

In previous debates, Romney would easily stumble when exchanges got heated. But last night everyone was very civil, so Romney didn’t get rattled. (Hillary or Barack would eat him for lunch in a debate)

I’m not saying this isn’t true.  But it brings up an interesting problem the Democrats are going to have in the general election, should Clinton win the nomination. 

(As an aside, JP thinks my advice to Democrats is a Trojan Horse.  This is a legitimate concern, I guess, so it’s up to you if you want to listen). 

I really think Hillary’s supporters do not fully appreciate her image problem amongst people who aren’t…well…her supporters.  If Romney and Clinton were to meet in a debate, and if he were to remain civil, and if Hillary “ate him for lunch”, her suporters would indeed see a tough woman putting a slick politician man in his place.  But the rest of the country (especially men, but also some women) would see the last ten seconds of this advertisement:

Hey, would someone please clean up the exploding head debris

Sure, it’s not right.  But, c’mon.  You know you’ve seen the Hillary nutcrackers, and all the other crude reminders.  Mrs Clinton has an image problem.  She’s had it since 1992.  It’s a very serious one, and I think her supporters have a blind spot to it, because they abhor the REASONS for the image problem.  But are you going to curse the universe for making men (and some women) so ignorant, or are you going to win the presidency?

She can’t overcome the image problem.  There will be no Lazio moment – outside of New York, many people would think he wussed out for not taking a swing at her.

If she wins the nomination, she cannot “out-tough” the Republican, ESPECIALLY if it’s Romney.  She’s going to have to out-charm him.  To be honest, I have no idea how Clinton would pull that off.

It’s not fair, but Obama doesn’t have this problem, and could attack, and use his charm to overcome the negative vibes from it.  Mrs Clinton has no such charm.   Can’t you see that?

Obama is the Dems’ best chance.