Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Happy Yuletide . . . and a Merry New Year too!

My oh my
How the season has flown by!
Time to leave,
I will enjoy the reprieve.
While away
I wish you a merry, gay
Holiday.
That’s all I wanted to say.

Okay, I realize that’s a very lame, 10-second attempt at poetry. But hopefully you’ll forgive it because I’m in a time-crunch. We’re off to Indiana tomorrow morning for the holidays. (Here’s crossing my fingers for a white Christmas!) Since I doubt I’ll be blogging again until the New Year, I wish you and your loved ones a very blessed holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Florida Radio

I just got done doing a radio interview for some station in Florida. For some reason, this talk show host really likes CRI (the organization I work for) even though we’re based out of California. Most of the questions centered around Schwarzenegger’s recent comments that the GOP party should move to the left and that, if it did so, it wouldn’t lose its base and would pick up 5%. My question: Was Arnold sleeping through the entire Nov. ’04 victory where people went to the polls en masse to vote their consciences on moral issues? I have a question for YOU readers out there: Presuming you’re a Republican, would you stay loyal to the GOP party based on a conservative fiscal platform alone?

I have a very bold friend who once said these words at a state GOP platform committee meeting: “My political party is not like my football team. I’m loyal to my party because it upholds my ideology. If my party ceases to reflect my principles and moral convictions, then not only will I leave my party, I will seek to destroy it.”

Analytical and Critical

Well, I’m not sure how much longer we’re going to stick with Oswald Chambers. He’s starting to annoy us a little bit. (Hopefully this won’t totally offend the Chambers admirers out there – and I know there are plenty.) We’ve had several “issues” with Chambers since we began reading his devotional several weeks ago. First of all, there are many times when we either can’t understand what he’s trying to say or get annoyed at the creative license he takes with the scripture verses he uses. I realize that a lot of people think he’s a great intellectual – but I wonder how often “flowery language” is mistaken for “profound insight.” It’s almost like Chambers thinks to himself, “Hey, I have a great inspiration on this topic. Let me try and find a scripture verse I can use as a springboard to share my thoughts with the world.”

The other day (Dec. 15), for instance, Chambers uses 2 Tim. 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God,” to say that “If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can.” I don’t know how on earth he got man’s need to express his inner self from a verse on studying God’s word so that we may rightly understand Truth.

Also, he often uses unclear terms like the “natural man.” Now, I can assume (because I’ve been going to Sunday School all my life) what that means – but since he never defines it, it’s a guessing game. Then he further confuses me by saying things like “the natural life is not sinful” but the natural life must be “sacrificed.” Hmmm.

And then there are times when we completely disagree with what he says. For instance, his Dec. 17 devotional is entitled “Redemption Creates the Need It Satisfies.” In this entry, Chambers says: “God cannot give until a man asks. It is not that He withholds, but that that is the way He has constituted things on the basis of Redemption. By means of our asking, God gets processes into work whereby He creates the thing that is not in existence until we do ask.” Um, excuse me, but I don’t think that the Apostle Paul, on his way to persecute Christians, had the time (or the inclination!) to think, “Gee, I’d better take a moment here to ASK Christ into my heart as my Savior,” before he was struck with the blinding light of Redemption. Chambers’ view of God is not only weak, it is entirely inaccurate. Christ came to seek and save His people. He did not come to TRY to seek and save His people. John 15:16 says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” The truth is that, before Redemption occurs, sinners are DEAD in their sins. (Eph. 2:1) We are incapable of “asking” until the Holy Spirit comes and softens our hearts. Praise God for his saving mercy!

Is God a grandfatherly figure calling out to a bunch of dumb sheep to come to Him? Or is He sovereign, in control, and willing and able to save His people? Your basic view of who God is will change your worldview entirely. And, from what we’ve read so far from My Utmost for His Highest, our worldviews tend to clash with Oswald Chambers’.

It could be that we’re just too analytical for our own good. But, then again, I think it’s better to have our brains in gear than it is to blindly accept anything and everything that a “great Christian man” decides to publish in a book.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Joy, Joy, Joy!

Our party on Friday night lasted from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. And our party on Saturday lasted from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. So, basically, when we weren’t partying (or trying to recover from partying) this weekend, we were either cleaning the house, baking, or doing something else to get ready for a party. On Saturday we had a progressive dinner, ending at our house with desserts and a white elephant gift exchange. We left the house just prior to our house a few minutes early so we could put a log in the fire, light the candles, turn the music on, etc. It’s a good thing we left early because, as we entered our laundry room, from off the garage, we stepped into two inches of water. Turns out, our toilet had become plugged and, since it has a tendency to run, the water spilled out into the bathroom, the front entry way, the hallway, the laundry room, and part of the kitchen. As soon as we observed the ocean, that was our house, the adrenaline kicked in. I grabbed every towel I had (including a few beautiful white towels, which I hope I didn’t completely ruin!) and threw them to Kevin. We immediately began to mop everything furiously. The amazing thing is that we were able to clean up all the water and get everything else ready (including dusting a few of the desserts with powdered sugar) before the first guests arrived. It was incredible. (Basically, it was God.) Our guests arrived to a quiet and peaceful home, oblivious of the fact that we’d just worked our tails off to make it that way. [Sigh.]

As the guests left, with their white elephant gifts, Kevin cornered one of the guys who had joked earlier about how everyone was going to leave their stupid gifts at random places in our house. Kevin demanded to know where this guy had left his gift. After some prodding, it was discovered in our toaster oven. Kevin made the guy take his gift (a little jar with some bells on it – very hideous indeed) and escorted him to his car. The problem with white elephant gifts is precisely why they’re so fun – they are so impractical and awful, but because of this, they are very funny and random. (We later found another gift, an ugly paperweight, sitting on a ledge by the staircase.)

The weekend ended on a good note. Our classical radio station played a live broadcast of Handel’s Messiah last night. Kevin sang along and did the dishes (many dishes) while Amy wrapped some gifts. Yes, it definitely was a good (and peaceful) way to end the busy weekend.

Amy Falls Prey to Yet Another Marketing Ploy

On Saturday morning we went to Sam’s Club to develop some film. It was supposed to be a very short, quick trip. But, over the loud speaker, it was announced that anyone showing up at a kiosk near the bakery in the next five minutes would get an “absolutely free, no purchase required” paring knife. Since it’s impossible to have too many paring knives, and since I like free things, I went off to get one. Of course, I had to stand there for ten minutes first and listen to the saleslady market her other wares. By the end of her speech, I was completely mesmerized by all of the really cool kitchen gadgets she had to offer. It turns out that, if I would only buy a knife for $30, called a “never-dull” knife (guaranteed to last a lifetime, never – ever – needing to be sharpened), then I would get a TON of other stuff absolutely “free.” I wasn’t quite convinced at first – until the saleslady cut through a coke can, part of a metal hammer, and then cut through a breadboard, showing that the knife had suffered no damage and was still as sharp as ever (she threw a tomato on top of the knife and the tomato easily sliced in half). As quick as I could, I grabbed the entire package and went to find Kevin. Kevin could not believe I was such a SUCKER. I told him that, if he had seen the demonstration, he’d be convinced too and that he’d have to “trust me” on this one. After all, I know a good deal when I see one. I assured him that I’d use this knife at least four times a week for the next fifty years – so he agreed to let me buy it. But I think, secretly, he thinks I’m gullible and an easy target. I’m sure that, next time I hear a similar announcement over the loud speaker, he’ll try to glue me to something so I can’t go. Saturday is a perfect example that “free” rarely, if ever, truly means “free.”

Thursday, December 16, 2004

O Frazzled Night

Last night was one of those frazzled evenings, so common this time of year. (Maybe when I stop working full-time I’ll enjoy Christmas again, like I used to when I was a kid.) After work, I ran to the grocery store to buy food for the two Christmas parties we’re throwing this weekend at our house. (We volunteered for one party and got signed up for another one . . . not that I’m complaining, though, ‘cuz it’ll be fun.) After about an hour at the grocery store, I headed home. Immediately after stepping out of the car, I tripped over some long, sharp (not-sure-what-the-name-of-it-is) tool lying in the garage that was haphazardly left for Amy to booby-trap herself on. (Kevin tells me, often, that if I would just slow down things like this wouldn’t happen. I always retort that it’s really difficult to break 25+ years worth of a very bad habit.) Although my foot felt like it had been impaled, I managed to limp over to the trunk where I began to collect the bags of groceries. As I proceeded to back away from the trunk, would you know it, I struck the top of my head against the lid of the trunk, and, like so aptly depicted in the cartoons, began to see little swirling stars. By this time, I figured it just wasn’t my night.

Fortunately the evening got better as it progressed. For some odd reason, last night I was cold and Kevin was warm. Usually it’s the other way around. Usually he’s shivering and his teeth are clattering while I’m burning up. (Don’t you love it how opposites attract?) I finally asked Kevin if I could turn the heater up. I asked because I wanted to be courteous of the fact that he’d just paid a very high electric bill. He told me “yes” (of course) but then we got in a little playful war over exactly how high I could turn it up. It was at 64 degrees and I pushed it up to 68 degrees. He walked over to the thermostat to inspect it and decided that it should be at 66 degrees (and I should get a sweater on). I then looked woefully at him and said, “Mr. Scrooge, please just one coal for the fire?” Then we both burst out laughing as I ran upstairs to get a sweater. (I suppose I should have done this in the first place.)

We thought about watching It’s a Wonderful Life (my favorite movie) last night – just because it seemed like a very Christmasy thing to do – but then decided to read aloud from Bears of Blue River instead. Part of this decision probably stemmed from the fact that we’d already watched a movie sometime this past week. We watched Meet the Parents. I’d seen it before but Kevin hadn’t. A co-worker of his was surprised he hadn’t seen it and loaned it to us. I personally think this movie is absolutely hysterical. Kevin, on the other hand, is too sympathetic a person to completely enjoy a movie like Meet the Parents. During the entire debacle, he was empathizing with Greg Focker and feeling very badly for him. I must be some heartless little brute because I was laughing through it all.

Helping a Good Man

Kevin’s old boss at HSLDA, Chris Klicka, has multiple sclerosis and needs help raising funds ($22,000) to buy a therapeutic exercise pool and have it installed. Apparently exercising in cold water contracts his muscles and makes him stronger. The water workout gives him the chance to move and exercise in a way that is simply impossible otherwise. It allows him to build upper body strength since he does not have to battle gravity and can exercise without stress. Apparently after exercising in water he is able to walk and looks and feels much better. It sounds like they’ve already got a substantial amount of money to proceed with the construction of this pool. This just proves what a loved and well-respected man Chris is. I can tell you from personal experience that Chris has a heart of gold and he’s given his life to fight for parental rights in home education. If anyone deserves to have help in their battle to fight MS, or if anyone has more determination to fight MS, it’s Chris. No donation is too small. If you are able to contribute, you can send a check to: Chris Klicka, 6779 Riley Road, Warrenton, VA 20187.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And I'm sure you all remember the man-shaped pillow . . .

Now it's the fellas' turn: Japanese 'Lap Pillow' Offers Solace to Lonely Men

Merry Mythmas

Okay, no time for a "real" post, but this is more fun than a real post. Check out this Merry Mythmas Quiz from MSN. For me, not only was it entertaining, it was enlightening as well.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Carols and The Tree

As I sat in the auditorium on Sunday afternoon, the lights dimmed to a near-complete darkness. Suddenly, hundreds of tiny glow sticks began to illuminate the room around me. At a signal from the conductor, a young boy began to sing a soprano solo in Latin and soon the children’s choir, perched in the balconies above me, joined in, allowing their voices to descend from both ends of the auditorium. After several moments of this breath-taking wonder, the mature adult voices, coming from behind each of the glow-sticks, began to sing, blending gloriously with the pure and sweet voices of the children. It was an incredibly moving experience. I felt bad for Kevin because he had to participate in it and couldn’t just sit back, like me, and enjoy it! The orchestra also performed a terrific medley of traditional carols and the chorale sang some really fun songs, including White Christmas, I Saw Three Ships, and Betelehemu, a Nigerian song involving Congo drums and hand motions. And, of course, they had to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. All of this really put me in a festive mood – ever since, I’ve had many melodies running through my head.
_________________

And, one of the most momentous occasions of the weekend was getting our tree! It’s HUGE!!!! Both Kevin and I think it’s the largest tree either of us have ever had! It makes 6’3” Kevin look like a midget. I had romantic notions of trekking up to the mountains and cutting down our own tree. This year, things were just too hectic – so we went to Target instead. Every year we forget what a hassle (and mess) it is to get a live tree into a stand and up properly in the house. (It's probably good that we forget.) This year, during the process, Kevin muttered under his breath, “I hate Christmas trees.” Later on, after getting it up, he was ecstatic about it and loudly declared, “I LOVE Christmas trees.” (I knew he’d come around.)

So, anyway, now the house has that fabulous, fresh pine scent. We don’t have any decorations up yet, except for a bazillion tiny little lights, but hopefully we’ll get our act in gear either tonight or tomorrow. Now I’m starting to remember, again, why I really love this time of year.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Somebody’s Twenty-Seeeeeeeeeven

Today is Kevin’s birthday. The doorbell rang at 7:30 this morning and Kevin ran downstairs to answer it. It was a process server looking for someone by the name of “Stephanie.” Fortunately he wasn’t looking for us. Getting a summons to appear in court would not have been a very nice birthday present.

Unfortunately Kevin is a really busy little beaver today, with a matinee performance for school children at the lunch hour, and a rehearsal tonight. But the good thing is (since I'm the proverbial optimist) – his performance and rehearsal are two blocks from where I work so I will be able to meet him very briefly for both lunch and dinner. We’ll try to squeeze as much celebration out of his birthday as we can!

Last year, I treated him to a fun time in Old Sac (you can read about it here). This year, I promised that, whatever we did, I wouldn’t embarrass him. I was hoping to take him to a quiet dinner. But that probably won’t work out either. Oh, well. It’s just a busy time of year! December babies have to deal with that. ;-)

[Happy birthday Kevin! I love you.]
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Last night I finally had a chance to do some Christmas decorating. It’s so much fun to do right-brained things. I love it. I love to attempt creativity – it may not always turn out but the process is rewarding in and of itself.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Famous Atheist Now Believes in God

This is an interesting article. It took this guy 81 years to figure out there’s a God (based on “scientific evidence”) but he still doesn’t believe that God is personally involved in a person’s life. If I were him, I’d be worried about being wrong on this one too – it’s not like he’ll have another 81 years to figure that out.
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I love the saying: “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” Just look at the complexity of the human eye ball - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to plainly see that there is a God.

Bah Humbug

A friend of mine started this Committee to Save Merry Christmas and it’s getting a lot of press. At first glance, you may think it’s funny (or even silly) there’s a committee to boycott Macy’s because they say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. I am sick and tired of the assault on people of faith. And I think the refusal to acknowledge Christmas (celebrated by 96% of Americans, by the way) is just another indication of the move toward secularization and the religious intolerance in our society today.

Kevin and I have been talking about this a lot lately. Besides the refusal of retailers to brightly greet their customers with a cheery “Merry Christmas,” the public display of a “Christmas tree” is practically nonexistent. They aren’t called “Christmas trees” anymore, you see. They’re called “Holiday trees.” Not only is this offensive, it’s also really dumb and illogical. I ask . . . Is there such a thing as a Hanukah tree? Or a Kwanzaa tree? Or (now that we all know what Eid is) an Eid tree? Um . . . no.

I was listening to the Medved show yesterday (Medved is Jewish, by the way) and he was saying that, although Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, they nonetheless enjoy and appreciate the Christmas season. Take Irving Berlin, for instance. He was a Jew from Poland who wrote the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” The point I think Medved was trying to make is that only the hypersensitive few would be offended at a “Merry Christmas” greeting . . . or a “Christmas Tree.” So, why are we bending over backwards to cater to this hypersensitivity?

[Kevin told me yesterday about an interview he heard with a rabbi the other day where the rabbi specifically stated that Hanukah is the only Jewish feast NOT mentioned in the Torah. It’s, actually, a rather insignificant holiday compared to other Jewish feasts and celebrations. The reason it’s become such a big holiday in the Jewish community is so that there is an alternative to Christmas! And this was from the mouth of the rabbi himself.]

And then there’s the incidence of the third grade children in San Francisco who were kicked out of Union Square for singing traditional Christmas songs that referenced outrageous and horrible things like “mangers” and “angels.” (Can you imagine the gall of these kids?!) And there there’s the lawsuit in New Jersey to prohibit airing traditional instrumental Christmas music because, even though words aren’t being played, people might hear the tunes and think about the words in their heads. And this is religious proselytizing? C’mon!

Last night I went to a live taping of the Hannity and Colmes show in Cupertino. My constitutional law professor, Jordan Lorence, spoke in the first segment. (He represents the fifth grade teacher in Cupertino who was banned from using the Declaration of Independence in his classroom because it references “God” and the “Creator.”) Afterwards, at a reception, Jordan shared why he thinks people are finally getting outraged – liberalism has gone too far. Things like Christmas, the Declaration of Independence, and Marriage are examples of things that unite Americans. The assault on these elementary components of our lives is too much for us. We are tired of being attacked. We are tired of secularism encroaching upon us and strangling us.

The diversity rhetoric has gone too far. The more we focus on how different (diverse) we are in America, the less we have to bond us together. (I think diversity will destroy America if we continue to embrace our differences more than our commonality.) It’s time to stop focusing on how different we are and start focusing more on what makes us – each and every one of us – “Americans.”

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas Longings

This morning was the second day in a row that Kevin has successfully managed to get me up early enough so we can have “family devotions” together. We’d become really lax on this, unfortunately, and now we’re trying to be better, thanks to Kevin’s lead. We’re now reading Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. It might seem odd to you that we began a devotional at the end of the year, rather than on January 1, but that’s just how it worked out. This morning we read something about how we’re all under a “death sentence” but for Christ. It made me think of the media brouhaha on whether or not Scott Peterson is going to get the death penalty. (Which, if you’re like me, you’re really sick of hearing about it.) The truth of the matter is – Peterson already has a death sentence. It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.”

Yesterday I was really bemoaning the fact that, although it’s nearly mid-December, I haven’t yet had a chance to decorate the house or do anything especially Christmasy. Another reason I was having a pity-party is the fact that I only get one evening this week to do anything with Kevin (last night). Tonight I’m going to the Bay Area for a work-related thing and the rest of the evenings Kevin will be rehearsing for his Christmas concert this weekend. So, last night, we went and ran a bunch of errands to get garland and bows for the staircase, stocking hangers so we don’t have to punch holes into the fireplace, etc., for the house. It was fun, and a big relief to get it all done (although we still haven’t got the tree). Soon our home will look festive and merry – and I can’t wait!

As we were driving home, Kevin decided to be spontaneous and veered off into a nearby neighborhood to search for Christmas lights and other ornamentation. We found some really cool houses, completely decked out. One house had lights strung back and forth all across its roof. (I secretly wondered what their electric bill must be like - but think it’s fabulous to see such spirit!) It was a good evening to look at Christmas lights because it had been raining all day and the streets, glistening with wetness, made the lights seem to bounce and dance off the streets.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Marriage and Monterey

This past weekend Kevin and I attended Family Life’s “Weekend to Remember” marriage conference in Monterey. This was an engagement gift (nearly three years ago!) from Meredith’s parents. Because life was so chaotic the first couple years of marriage, this is the first real chance we’ve had to go.

We highly recommend this conference, if you haven’t been yet (and are married or engaged). It was absolutely fantastic. I cannot say enough good things about it. Kevin even said that we should probably go to this conference at least every five years for a tune-up and to make sure we’re still on the right path. Although I felt like we had an excellent marriage going into the conference, our weekend in Monterey only served to make it better. (And make us more grateful for God’s goodness to us in giving us the oneness that we have - not that "oneness" comes by default, 'cuz, actually, it takes a lot of work sometimes.) One thing I learned is that you shouldn’t wait until you have marriage problems to spend a weekend working on your marriage. I appreciated how the speakers (who were very down to earth, and also very humorous when sharing their own experiences) were constantly reminding us to NOT buy into how the culture views marriage but, rather, to seek out God’s will for marriage. After all, He is the one who created marriage. We also had to do a lot of “homework” – part of it on our own, and part of it as a couple. These homework sessions tended to spark a lot of introspection, discussion, and brainstorming for how to improve our relationship. Anyway, it was all excellent stuff! [Although Kevin did say that it’s amazing how much his guard was up the whole time at the conference – probably because of all the IBLP conferences he’s sat through and what he’s learned from that whole experience, i.e., when you walk into a seminar you have to keep your “filter” (i.e., God’s word and your own common sense) intact – or else you might end up believing everything you hear.]

Monterey, of course, was absolutely beautiful. I’ve been to this seaside village several times and it always impresses me. On Saturday we had a “mandatory” date night. (Ha!) We ate at a restaurant on the water and then went walking down to a little stretch of beach next to what was left of an old, decrepit building (basically just parts of the building’s foundation). Although we saw that the tide was coming in, we really didn’t bother to pay attention to how close it was getting to us on the shore. Within seconds of sitting down on this little cement block (at the end of the beach), we looked up to see this mammoth wave come crashing toward us. Just in the nick of time, we lifted our legs and the water rushed underneath us, spraying up into our faces. After that experience, we felt like we’d just evaded death, rather than merely avoiding getting drenched. (Maybe it was the adrenaline rushes and pounding hearts?) Anyway . . . I don’t know why I’m writing about this in my blog except to say that, not only was it really funny at the time, it was just one of those really unique bonding experiences. Know what I mean? After leaving the beach ruins, we walked around town for a while (on Cannery Row), got a free sample at Ghirardelli’s, and went to waste some more time at the oceanfront. And that was the best thing of all . . . being able to waste time together. I think one of the best things about heaven will be having absolutely no time constraints. [Although there's apparently no marriage in heaven, so that would be a bummer. But Kevin and I have already agreed that we'll share a mansion, regardless. So, that will be good.]

Friday, December 03, 2004

Focus on the Tree

Last night at our bible study, Kristi shared an insight that’s been ruminating in my mind all morning long. She said that Christians shouldn’t be consumed with “bearing fruit,” which is the evidence of salvation. If our focus is on the fruit in our lives we become works-oriented. Rather, we should keep our eyes on God and strive to build our relationship with Him first and foremost. This, in turn, will cause us to live in harmony with Him and the “fruit” will be an inevitable consequence of our walk with God. In other words, she said, “Focus on the Tree, not the fruit.”

Also, last night, the question was asked, “What exactly is fruit?” Too often Christians think of “fruit” as “good works,” e.g., helping the elderly neighbor, greeting someone at church, taking a meal to a sick family, wearing the right clothes, speaking the right words, etc. But this is not how scripture defines fruit. Gal. 5:22 describes the Fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Fruit is more attitude than specific actions. But, of course, proper actions come from having proper attitudes.

Anyway, all of these thoughts have encouraged me to focus more on my relationship with God, and less on the externals, realizing that if I seek God first with a pure heart everything else will fall into place. It’s as simple as that.

This is Kinda Cool

Here is something that doesn't happen to me every day - I got quoted in the top news story on World Net Daily's home page. CRI has been working on this issue for several years. Check it out!

Capitol Resource Institute attorney Amy Koons said, "It is amazing that the attorney general can put out such an opinion despite the fact that there is not a single statute or any case law that prohibits school districts from letting a parent know when their child is going to leave campus."

. . .

Koons contends, however, the "use of the word 'construe' means that the statute doesn't say what they want it to say, so they made it up."

"There is not a word in [the education code] that even hints that you can not pick up the phone and call the student's parent when they are away from school," she said.

Attorney general spokesman Barankin argues "the 'construe' language is a legal term of art that has been applied by courts for decades for the purposes of legislative interpretation."

[WHAT IS A 'LEGAL TERM OF ART'?!! That's what I want to know!]

Anyway, it's kinda fun to see your name in print. Thanks for sharing in my moment of glory. :-)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Making decisions, or a lack thereof . . .

“What do YOU want to do?”
“I don’t know, what do YOU want to do?”
“Whatever you want to do.”
“Well, I want to do whatever YOU want to do.”

Is this a common conversation in your household too? (It’s also frequently used in the context of “Where do YOU want to eat?”)

We both got home from work late last night and neither of us was really hungry for dinner. After we decided to delay dinner, we tried to lay out a plan for the evening, only to have the above exchange and bemoan each other’s indecisiveness.

It’s funny because, sometimes when we can’t decide what to do, that’s when we have the best time of all. There was a long list of things to be done last night (errands, laundry, etc.) but since we couldn’t decide what to do exactly, we ended up just fooling around on the keyboard. (Errands and laundry are things that will always be there, spontaneous moments with people you love might not always be there.) Kevin is so patient with me. Although I took six years of piano lessons, I’ve hardly touched a piano for nine years. Last night he asked me to play the left hand on a piece of music while he played the right hand. I looked at the key signature and told him that it scared me because it had too many sharps in it. (This, unfortunately, is how rusty I am.) He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, though, and coaxed me into it. We stumbled through most of it but it turned out to be really fun. The more I think about it, the best “date nights” we’ve had over the past several years have been completely free! It’s those picnics in the park or window-shopping adventures that have been the best fun.

We also got out all of our Christmas CDs and I had some fun with Amy Grant’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree while Kevin paid our bills with his computerized money program (which totally confuses me, so I’m glad he can make sense of it). Life is good.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Okay to Lie?

It was one of those random conversations in the car on the way home Sunday night. It started out with an innocent query from me to Kevin:

“If the ninth commandment says ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,’ is it okay to lie as long as you’re not harming your neighbor?”

It had occurred to me that lying is often the nicest, most helpful, thing to do in certain circumstances. In response to my question, Kevin brought up the scriptural example of Rahab and how she blatantly lied to protect the spies. Yet, despite her lie, God honored her as a hero of faith. It would seem to me that a person with a lot of faith wouldn’t need to lie. But God didn’t hold it against her.

Kevin said that the reason he wouldn’t want to ever lie is because he desires to imitate God and it’s against God’s character to lie. Kevin surmised that God would never lie to us, even for our supposed “good,” because He always deals truthfully with us.

I agree that, as a general rule, all lying should be avoided. This whole exchange, however, made me think more deeply about the topic of ‘lying for a good reason’ (maybe even to help your neighbor or help a righteous cause). It makes me wonder if perhaps some forms of lying are not necessarily sinful. Anyway . . . it’s good food for thought.

[A lot of you people out there probably think that this is yet another illustration of how I always like to push the limits and see what I can get away with. My mom would probably agree with you, quoting many instances from my childhood. In this case, however, I think that it’s merely a desire to philosophize and figure things out that drives me on. Honestly!] ;-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Back in Business

I have to admit . . . it's good to be back. The respite was great while it lasted, but it's good to be here again. Home. As Dorothy said, there's no place like it.

Despite the above confession, we had a wonderful time in Long Beach with my family. The drive down was remarkably traffic-free. (We have to drive directly through Los Angeles to get to my parents' house.) The drive BACK, however, was a complete nightmare. Not only was the traffic bad, Kevin seemed especially aggravated by all the California drivers, whom he says are the WORST drivers in the world. This is a loaded statement when you consider the fact that he's driven in Massachussetts, which I would contend contains the worst drivers. Kevin's biggest complaint is that, in California, it's like there's a stigma when it comes to driving in the right lane. It's as if everyone feels like they have to camp-out in the left lane (the "fast" lane) rather than use it for passing purposes only, thus forcing drivers like Kevin to constantly pass in the right lane. And this causes severe frustration to certain drivers (namely, Kevin).

The most memorable event of the weekend was probably flying with Betsy and Steve on Friday. They flew us up the coast for several miles. We flew so close to the cliffs of Palos Verdes that I thought we might be able to reach out and touch them! (Well, we weren't quite THAT close, but nearly that close!) It was a gorgeous day and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride. We took lots of pictures of a really cool lighthouse and the many mansions along the coast. When we took off, Steve asked, "Do you want the regular take-off or the fun take-off?" We told him we wanted the fun one, which basically meant a nearly vertical take-off. It was indeed fun . . . and also very scary. On the way back to the airport, we flew over my parents' house. We spotted it easily because of the large trampoline in the backyard. As we circled the house, two people, who were so tiny we couldn't tell who exactly they were, came out of the house and waved wildly at us. Good times . . . The inspiring thing about flying is that it gives you a different perspective on the world.

The second most memorable event was fighting the crowds early Friday morning while shopping with my mom, grandma, and Melissa. My mom informed me on Thursday that we were going to do this. I was dreading getting up so early and joining the throng. But, after doing it, I can definitely see WHY people do it. The deals were incredible. And now I'm a believer in day-after Thanksgiving sales, especially the early-bird ones.

Well, lots of other things happened but I won't bore you with more details or assume that anyone out there with a life has time to read about it. :-)

Now . . . go enjoy the rest of your day, evening, or whatever . . .

My sister Betsy and her boyfriend Steve, both pilots.

Enjoying our ride in the back seat. You can see the So. Calif. coastline in the background.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

As we all would have expected . . .

. . . La Cenerentola had a happy ending:

Sad no longer among the cinders, ah!
No more I'll sob alone -- No!
Like a song, a dream, a winter's
Tale, my sorrows all are flown.


Going into it, I didn’t realize it was going to be a comedy. And, actually, it was quite funny. The only thing that bothered me was how, at the end, the prince was trying to protect her from her cruel family but she wouldn’t allow him to do this. I like how the version Ever After ends – with the step-family having to work just like Cinderella. Maybe it’s just this ingrained sense of justice that God instills within each of us – we like to see the wicked punished and the good people rewarded. (And, yes, to anyone who’s wondering, I’m glad God had mercy on me even though I’m a sinner and, for the record, as a Christian, I should probably be happy that Cinderella forgave her mean, evil family.)

One thing I really liked about this version of Cinderella was the fact that, when Cinderella fell in love with the prince she didn’t realize he was a prince. In fact, she thought he was merely a servant (because the prince and his servant has swapped roles). At the ball, the “prince” (who was really the servant) told her he wanted to marry her and she said “no” because her heart belonged to another. When the pretend-prince responded in anguish, she said, “I’m in love with your servant,” who of course was the real prince. And, would you know it, the real prince was hiding behind a pillar during this conversation and overheard everything. Cinderella’s confession caused him to leap for joy and, of course, immediately burst out into song. Remember, this is opera we’re talking about. They sing about everything.

In conclusion, I must say that I really enjoyed La Cenerentola.

Hey – Have a Happy Thanksgiving and . . . relish your little break from the blogsphere. :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Am I wrong on this one?

There’s a lot of hype in this politically-correct world about funding research to find cures for AIDS/HIV. Today I read an article on Yahoo News about a new AIDS epidemic in Russia and that got me thinking more about the topic of funding AIDS research. Just this year, the federal government budgeted $3 billion for AIDS research ($18.5 billion total on AIDS-related spending). And this $3 billion figure does not, obviously, include research funding by state governments, private foundations, and charities. (How many countless AIDS foundations have been established by modern celebrities?) A lot of money is dumped into AIDS research.

To me, AIDS funding shouldn’t be a top priority because it’s a preventable disease. I, personally, am not worried about contracting AIDS because I have a monogamous relationship and try not to drink from too many public water fountains (just kidding on the last one). I think we should focus first on diseases that can’t be avoided.

Aside from the occasional tragic story of some kid who got a tainted blood transfusion, persons who adhere to certain moral sexual guidelines and abstain from sharing drug needles will never contract AIDS. Because AIDS is avoidable, I am often annoyed that so much money is dumped into finding a cure for it. If we took all of the AIDS research money and funneled it into research for non-preventable diseases (like cancer, where the victims are innocent of any personally irresponsible behavior), then just try to imagine how much accelerated progress we could see in finding cures for those diseases. Moreover, why doesn’t the government spend money on educational programs to teach people that they can keep from contracting AIDS by living a more sexually constrained lifestyle? Maybe it’s because we like to live our lives however we want without facing negative consequences. And that’s exactly what AIDS is . . . a consequence for certain types of behavior. (Again, remember that I’ve already acknowledged there are innocent people who get AIDS – but that definitely isn’t the norm.)

Am I just a cold-blooded, callous, excuse-of-a-human-being for thinking these thoughts? Or am I making sense here?

Mystery Gift

Several weeks ago we got an envelope in the mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Coons.” When I opened the envelope, I found season tickets to this year’s opera along with a letter welcoming us as new season ticket holders. The only thing is – we didn’t purchase season tickets for the opera. We have been asking around trying to find out who may have bought these for us but haven’t had any luck. (If you are the culprit, let me know so we can thank you!) Hmmmm. It dawned on me recently that, shortly after I wrote about us going to the opera in my blog, we got the season tickets! (Gee, maybe I should blog more about how I’ve always wanted a red Z-3 convertible.) ;-) Anyway, tonight the opera is performing Cinderella (La Cenerentola). . . and it looks like we’ll get to go ‘cuz we have tabs on seats K-16 and K-17 for the rest of the season!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Our Brilliant Friends

I was finally forced out of bed at 5:40 a.m. on Saturday morning by my human alarm clock (i.e., Kevin). He had been trying to wake me up for quite some time and was finally successful when he mentioned that beautiful thing called Starbucks. We were soon on the road, headed for Fresno, so Kevin could participate in OBCL’s Alumni Association Board Meeting.

The best part of the entire day was watching Seth, Jeremy, and Mark (who are all lawyers, by the way) spend five minutes trying to open Jeremy’s car with his remote. They held it at different angles, and different lengths from the car, while furiously pressing the various buttons. After that didn’t work, they actually took the remote apart to look at it better and check the battery. Finally Jeremy decided to use the key (even though the alarm would go off). But the key didn’t work either! Then Jeremy pressed the panic button, and when the car four rows over started honking, said, “Um, guys, the reason it won't work is because it's the wrong car.” He pointed several rows over to his own car – a similar color, make and model - which was honking and had the trunk lid open from all the button-pressing. The trio then threw their hands into the air and Kevin and I started laughing hysterics. It was very funny. You’d have to have been there to appreciate it.

The most amazing revelation of the day occurred at the lunch table when the discussion centered on the phenomenon of blogs. Out of ten people at the table, only four of us admitted that we read blogs on a semi-regular basis. And only two of us actually have our own blogs. This is incredible to me. I'm still trying to make sense of this. Does it mean that, because I blog so much, I don't have a life? OR does it mean that, because they don't blog (or read blogs), they're missing out on one of the greatest technological tools of the 21st century? I'd like to think it's the latter.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Early Turkey

Last night we had an “early Thanksgiving” celebration with our young married friends from bible study. We did this last year also and I think it’s one of the best ideas for a get-together. Everyone enjoys gathering with their families and stuffing their faces at Thanksgiving. So, why not repeat the marvelous occasion? And, better yet, why not do it with your good friends whom you never get to see on Thanksgiving Day? As we sat around the beautifully decorated table, with our plates heaped up with all sorts of delicious foods, there was a great sense of togetherness and tradition.

I made two of my favorite dishes last night: cranberry spinach salad and garlic mashed potatoes. Not only are these potatoes the best thing ever, they are extremely easy to make. Even Dan Getz or Mark Bigger, two of our bachelor friends, could probably make them. Well, maybe. ;-) (Do I smell a challenge?) Come on guys, it would be fun! They say that every guy should know how to make at least one recipe, and make it well. (My dad makes killer omelets.) That way, when you decide to have kids someday, your children will think that you are the most amazing cook in the world because of your one famous dish.

[A word of caution: The potato recipe is written to feed 100 people, but you can size it down by entering in the number of servings you want in the "customize" box below the recipe.]

Since we're on the topic . . .

Since we’re on the topic of cooking, and since my blog is a place where I can freely rant and rave, I would like to say for the record that Cook’s Illustrated Magazine is a low-down, rotten, no-good company with deceptive and misleading advertising strategies and vile marketing tactics. Several months ago, because a friend recommended it, I signed up, online, for a “risk-free,” no-cost trial issue. Two weeks later I got a bill for a year’s subscription, which I promptly threw away. Yesterday I got a “collection notice” from the “National Credit Audit Corporation” that my subscription payment is past due. When I read this, I was not a happy camper, and called the credit corporation to tell them as much. Fortunately, despite the fact that the experience has left a sour taste in my mouth, everything has been straightened out.

It’s a competitive, dog-eat-dog world and I know that companies out there are just trying to make a buck, but, nonetheless, I hate it when companies do these sorts of things. If they say something is “free” and there’s “no risk” in getting a sample, then the last thing I should expect (as an innocent consumer) is to receive a “collection notice” from a credit audit corporation that I owe money. If I were of a more frail mind, or didn’t want to hassle on the phone, I might have been tempted to just pay up to avoid potential credit problems – and that’s exactly what Cook’s Illustrated would have wanted me to do!

Although I’m sure that many cooks, and aspiring cooks, have benefited from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine’s techniques, recipes, and tips, in my estimation, none of these benefits could possibly recompense me for the hassle, maltreatment, and exploitation I feel I have suffered. So, in conclusion, I think that, for now anyway, I’ll stick with my wonderful (and purely free) internet resources.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Commonsense Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

"A person is a person, no matter how small!" - from Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Thoughts at Ambrosia

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain." - I Timothy 6:6

Ambrosia is my new favorite cafĂ© downtown. Usually I pack a lunch but last night I was too lazy and this morning I didn’t have time. So (drat!) I just had to go to Ambrosia today. Between mouthfuls of grilled chicken, pesto, and feta cheese sandwich, I contemplated what I think is the key to a happy life. I think that, in order to be happy, a person must be content with whatever stage of life they’re in. This might seem like a really simplistic, no-brainer observation but it’s amazing how often I see people miserable because they so strongly desire to “be in the next stage” of their life. (Ala the Beach Boys song Wouldn’t It Be Nice If We Were Older.) I’m sure you’ve seen it too. In fact, if you’re a normal person, you’ve been there yourself (as have I). It goes like this . . . A lot of young teens want to be grown-up so they can drive, get a job, go to college, etc. A lot of singles want to be married because they think it will end their loneliness and because it’s fun and romantic. A lot of married persons without kids want to have kids because they think children will meet some sort of emotional need that they have (or maybe they’re trying to “keep up with the Joneses” which is the worst reason to have kids, or to do anything, actually!). A lot of young mothers with toddlers and babies just want their kids to grow up because they’re exhausted and maybe want their independence back. It’s all a vicious cycle. And, sadly, it’s oftentimes pretty rare to find people who are truly, completely content in their current stage of life (whatever that may be) – people who are not longing for “greener grass.” I think that every stage of life has its definite pros and cons. Every stage has its own particular joys and sorrows. When we have the attitude that “things will get better IF this or that changes in my life” then we are only hurting the quality of our own existence now. Let us not reach the end of our lives realizing that, because of our discontent, we never truly lived.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Conversation

Here is our conversation when Kevin called me today, while on his lunch break:

K: It’s too bad we have to go to work every day.
A: Yeah, I know. Maybe we should just sell all of our earthly possessions and go move to an island somewhere. We could survive by eating all the fish and coconuts.
K: But you don’t like fish.
A: And I don’t really like coconuts either.
K: So that could be a problem.
A: Hmm. Well, it's been nice dreaming with you!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Stricken and Afflicted

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic but this weekend was pretty low for me. I hate it when people are constantly categorizing their lives (i.e., every day was either a bad day or a good day, etc.) but this weekend can definitely fall into the not-so-good category. My head cold got consistently worse until Saturday morning when I was ready to call urgent care (a very drastic measure for me). To make a long (and boring) story short, with a lot of sleep and Echinacea, I think I’m finally on the mend. [Insert big sigh of relief.]

But, leave it to me, there were also “high” points this weekend. Kevin and I learned how to play Spades with only two people. If you’re interested in trying it, you can go here and this website will explain it to you. Last night we played a very heated game. It was close but I finally managed to pull ahead, much to Kevin’s chagrin. I like Spades because it’s a game of risk – the more you bid, the more you have to win and lose.

We also rented three movies. The Prince and Me was very lame. If you want to waste a couple hours of your life on it, go ahead. Mystic River was very sad and unsettling, but well made. The Italian Job was awesome. We loved every minute of it and highly recommend it, if you haven’t already seen it.

Another fun thing this weekend . . . Kevin started reading a book out loud to me called The Bears of Blue River. It’s about a little boy named Balser and his adventures in the backwoods of Indiana with various bears he encounters. I’m immensely looking forward to the next chapter.

Lest you think that we were total slackers this weekend, Kevin finished grading and seeding the backyard on Saturday. I’ve been popping my head outside every couple hours to see if the grass is growing yet. Kevin tells me to hold my horse, as it will be at least a few weeks. Bummer!

Government Says To Church: “Do Not Feed the Poor.”

A letter just came across my desk from the City of Vacaville to an Episcopal church that essentially reads: “The City has been informed that the Church is currently operating a meal service for the homeless on at least one evening each week. . . . According to our records, the Church has not filed an application to request approval [to feed the homeless]. Therefore, this letter is to request that the Church take the following actions: 1) If any social service meal program is currently being offered on the church site, please cease immediately. . . . 2) If the church would like to request approval for a [permit], . . . please submit an application.”

Is anyone else out there completely shocked and outraged by this?!! If the government is stepping in to tell the church to stop feeding the poor until they get government permission to do so, I think this is a very warped, messed up world we live in.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Kinsey

For those of you unaware, there is a movie coming out tomorrow called Kinsey, based on the life of the notorious sex-research, Alfred Kinsey. This movie lauds and extols the work of this man without holding him to the fire for how exactly he conducted his research. If you take a look at his studies, it becomes apparent that, in order to get the statistics he did, he had to participate in the molestation of hundreds of children (some as young as five months old). Kinsey was a bisexual man who had an “open marriage” with his wife. He is widely credited as the “Father of the Sexual Revolution” which has done nothing positive for society and has destroyed many families in the process. I believe that the sexual revolution has particularly hurt women and children. More children live in fatherless homes because of the sexual revolution. The statistics of rape, anorexia, unwed cohabitation (which ultimately hurts women because men expect sex without making commitments to them), etc. have skyrocketed since the sexual revolution. Kinsey’s statistics (which were later proved to be extremely flawed) were used to soften and eliminate many sex crimes across America. Kinsey’s “research” has also been used to develop sex education curricula in the public schools. (Yet another reason not to put your kids in public school.) Kinsey believed that “anything goes” when it comes to sex – “If it feels good it must be right.” His research has been a disaster for the family unit in the United States. Please tell your friends about the Kinsey movie. I would urge you not to see this movie and ask your friends to boycott it as well.

In the meantime, have a happy Veterans Day! God bless and protect our troops!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Italia

My sister Christy (who has, for the time being, changed her name to Christiana) is in Florence right now attending a month-long language school. It’s been fun to get e-mails from her about her various adventures and experiences. She’s such a free spirit. She seems to be immensely enjoying her newfound friends, the beautiful art of the city, and all the espresso she can possibly drink. Before she left I sent her a long e-mail reminding her to beware of the pick-pocket thieves and all the flirtatious Italian men out there whose reputations precede them. “And, whatever you do, don’t go out at night by yourself,” I wrote to her. Kevin told me I sounded just like a paranoid mother. What can I say? I’m protective of my little sis.
______________

I’ve just come down with another energy-draining head cold. This is my second cold of the season. I’m usually a very healthy little girl. So, I don’t understand why I’ve gotten sick again. Health is something that can definitely be taken for granted. Last night, as I was lying on the couch bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t feeling too keen, the doorbell rang. I was tempted not to answer it but got up to do it anyway. I opened the door and there stood one of the little boys from next door with a beautifully wrapped plate of hot, fresh coffee cake. “How sweet,” I told him. He just smiled back. “Did you make this?” He shook his head. “Did your mom make it?” He nodded. “Well, tell your mom ‘thank you very much.’” He just smiled again and, without saying a word, walked back toward his house.

As I ate my coffee cake last night, I realized that the very last thing I should be eating to boost my immune system is sugar. (Aren’t you proud mom? I should be a nutritionist!) But you simply have to understand – it’s not every day that I get fresh-out-of-the-oven coffee cake delivered to my door by such a cute little kid.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ditch-Digging, Etcetera

Kev’s parents just left after spending a 3 ½ day weekend with us. Early Saturday morning (well, okay, it was probably 8:30), I looked outside the front window and saw that Kevin and Dale had dug a ditch, approximately two feet deep, all across the length of our front yard. In the process of working to beautify the yard, they discovered some “drainage issues.” By the end of the day, they had to tear out part of the fence separating the front yard from the back yard. By Monday, they had dug up much of the back yard also and installed a new drainage system. The poor guys were covered in mud from head to toe. It was, actually, really cute. Hopefully now the problems are fixed and we can throw some grass seed out there and watch it grow. I think the whole thing was a really good “bonding time” for father and son. And we definitely appreciate all the work that Kevin’s dad did for us!

While the guys worked their tails off on Saturday and Monday, Laura and I, aside from tending to the guys’ hunger needs, were pretty much lazy bums. Laura did teach me to knit a little bit, though. That was fun. I’d like to learn more – if I have the patience for it. I was really annoyed at the fact that after you buy yarn at the store you’re expected to make a ball out of it before you knit with it. I just don’t understand why they don’t sell the yarn already in balls. This is the 21st century. You’d think they’d get with the program. (Maybe I wouldn’t have been so annoyed if I was good at making yarn balls. The problem is I really stink at it – the yarn threads were always too tight and I couldn’t pull my string out!)

In the evenings, when we could reclaim the guys from their projects, we played Euchre (the ultimate Midwest card game) and went to Starbucks just to hang out and enjoy the ambiance and conversation. We also made Dale watch The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood one night, the epitome of a girl-movie. He’s such a trooper – he does back-breaking work in our yard and then how do we repay him??

Friday, November 05, 2004

Something for Everyone at the USPS!

At the post office yesterday I saw that holiday stamps are already on sale. And, would you know it, there are holiday stamps out there for everybody! If you’re a secularist (or think they're cute and like how they look), you can buy an “ornament stamp.” If you’re one of those Christian religious people out there you can buy the traditional Madonna and Child stamp. And then, of course, there’s the Hanukah stamp and the African Kwanzaa stamp. There was also an “Eid” stamp on display.

Call me ignorant but I’d never heard of Eid before. After doing some brief research online I discovered that it’s a spiritual Muslim holiday. It makes sense that we would bend over backwards to validate Islamic holidays since we’re fighting them in the Middle East and don’t want the Muslims here at home to “feel bad” and take it personal. Isn’t it just so much fun to live in such a bighearted and tolerant society?

A Country Unified

I’m troubled and dismayed that many conservatives are buying the elite media line that we are a “country divided.” If a “country divided” means that the presidential election was decided by 3.7 million votes, I certainly don’t think we’re a country divided. It's my understanding that JFK won the presidency against Nixon by less votes than Bush won in the state of Ohio alone. Did they say we were divided then? Frankly, I think the evidence points to the fact that our country is unified and strong.

We are unified and strong in our determination to fight against terrorism. Even democrats want to fight terrorism – they just believe they have “better” methods to do it. Putin, in his post-election statement, recognized the strength of our determination when he said that Bush’s reelection indicates Americans are not afraid of terrorists.

We are unified and strong in our determination to preserve traditional marriage. All eleven of the states that faced the question of gay marriage last Tuesday voted to ban it. The American people clearly do not want the homosexual extremist agenda forced down their throats by the likes of Gavin Newsom and a handful of activist judges in Massachusetts.

Some may say that we are “divided” over the abortion issue. The truth of the matter is that only 1/3 of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all situations. And studies indicate that Generation Y is much more pro-life than their forebears.

The elite media would like you to believe that we’re divided. But don’t buy their rhetoric. Don’t believe their lie. Perhaps they disagree with how the election turned out. Perhaps they are “divided” and disagree with the president’s position on the war and his stand for moral values. But that doesn’t mean the American people are divided. We have a long history of disagreement on various issues – ever since the founding of our country. If it’s merely the fact that there are two strong movements in this country that disagree with each other, and that makes us “divided,” it can be said that America has always been “divided.” I think we Americans are just as unified, if not more unified, in this generation than in many previous generations. We are steadfast and determined. We will win this war. And we will never quit the fight to defend and promote our values and principles. [Even if we live in California and it’s extremely depressing sometimes!]

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Short Attention Spans . . . and Art, Again

I am, unfortunately, one of those people who can’t stay focused on one single thing for a very long period of time. My mind just simply wanders in too many directions to keep it trained on one subject for an extended duration. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading up on art history a little bit. Despite my best intentions, I’ve been distracted from my goal of being an art-whiz by the time the book was due back at the library (yesterday). Although I renewed the book two times, two times is, unfortunately, the limit. So, yesterday I had to give it up. (I guess they presume that other people might want to read it also?) The good news is . . . I was able to at least skim the last half of the book before returning it.

I was very pleasantly surprised to discover recently that my 7-year-old sister is also studying art history with her home school group. While she was at my house this past weekend we had several good discussions. She told me that her favorite artist is Michelangelo because he painted the “Sixteenth Chapel.” When she studied Michelangelo, her teacher taped some posters to the bottom side of a table and the kids sat under the table to draw scenes from the bible “on the ceiling” just like the famous artist. I thought that was very cute. She also liked Van Gogh because of the swirly stars in his Starry Night. When she studied Van Gogh she drew a self-portrait and was happy to report that she put the words “Girls Rule” on her t-shirt. When she studied Picasso, she cut out squares from a magazine of similar-colored objects and pasted them together to illustrate cubism. It was all very interesting to learn about how art history is taught at that level. (Isn’t home schooling the most fantastic thing ever?) The only thing is that I’m envious I can’t take a class like that. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Now I’m trying to decide whether I’ll stay on the art history kick (and get another book at the library) or find some other fleeting area of interest for the next six weeks. Life is way too short to cram everything in. I hope they have really big libraries in heaven.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

One more thing . . .

. . . about the election. Yesterday both Kevin and I got our first vote, each, for U.S. Congress. Because of some things I’ve heard about our Congressman lately I absolutely refuse to ever vote for him. Even though he’s supposedly a “good Republican,” he’s used his powerful position to bully the central committee into endorsing an evil, anti-family candidate who ran for school board in our area. Incidentally, the “evil candidate” also donates a lot of money to this Congressman’s campaigns. Interesting, eh? (Rich people rule the world. They truly do.)

It makes me so mad that, just because someone’s a Congressman, they think they can go around and make people do whatever they say. I think that’s a shameful abuse of power and I have no respect for people like that.

Because of my passionate refusal to ever vote for this Congressman, I convinced Kevin to do the same. While I was filling out my ballot yesterday, I decided to write-in Kevin’s name for Congress instead. Later I found out that he did the same for me. It was kinda cool getting my first vote for Congress. But, trust me, I don’t have any aspirations to run for this office in the future. (I like being able to blog about whatever is on my mind without having to worry about saying nice and politically correct things all the time. Ahhh . . . the Freedom!) I think Kevin would make a good Congressman, though. Duh. Obviously . . . ‘cuz I voted for him yesterday.

"That Values Thing"

What a night. What a morning! Commentators with a lot more insight than me have already written about how people came out yesterday to vote for their values, and that’s what made the difference for Bush. My hope is that this is the beginning of a turning tide where people put their faith into action; where our beliefs don’t stay within the four walls of our churches and homes, but are employed boldly in the public square. I love the U.S. I love living in the U.S. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with thinking my country is better than all other countries. I think everyone should be proud of their country and, if they’re not, they should move somewhere else. Here in the U.S., we have an extraordinary history. Yesterday’s election gives me hope that our future will be equally bright. Let us ever remain vigilant and continue to vote for our values. God bless the U.S.A.
___________________

Last night we went to Karen and John’s house for their election party. Kevin manned the laptop, checking results for local races on the Internet. For some strange reason, I got extremely drowsy at around 11 o’clock (west coast time, so we already knew most of the results) so I crawled underneath the dining room table and fell asleep. I think everyone thought it was funny. But, honestly, I was really tired from poll watching and phone banking all day. What’s a girl to do?

This morning I was really missing all my friends at HSLDA – thinking how I used to always rely on Scott Somerville to make sense of the political goings-on. I miss conferring with all my fellow comrades in the legal department, pontificating with them, and trying to collectively figure out all the madness in the world. Those were good days.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Melissa, the Artist.

Sisters

We Are Fami-LY

My parents and little bro and sis just left our house this morning. We had a great weekend with them. The whole weekend can be summed up like this: BIG SUGAR HIGH. On Saturday we went to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield for a tour. Incidentally, there was a big Halloween celebration taking place. Normally, when you go to the JB Factory, you come away with enough sugar in your system to keep all the dentists employed for a 20 mile radius. Can you imagine what it's like when the Halloween factor is added? (Candy everywhere!) I had been wanting to go to the JB factory for quite some time and was glad my family was in town to give me an excuse to go. Kevin said he didn't know if it was more fun watching the kids or ME. (I get really excited about sugar; plus they had clowns and a man who did tricks with bubbles there. It was an exciting time.) :)

We had fun at home with face paints, carving pumpkins, etc. Usually we don't do anything celebratory on Halloween (we celebrate Reformation Day) but since my sibs were here, they dressed up like Native Indians and went out for candy. Since they were going out, and since we have TONS of kids in our new neighborhood, we stayed home and gave candy to the little kids that came to our door. I was trying to make caramel apples but kept getting interrupted by the door bell. After handing out the candy I would come back into the kitchen and report to Kevin (who was carving a pumpkin on the table) how absolutely cute these kids were, or how bratty this one kid was, or what a creative costume that was, etc., etc.

On Sunday, Joel Belz, founder of World Magazine, came to speak at our church. He spoke about the Christian worldview and also talked about Christians wanting to have a "formula" for their faith because either they are lazy or works-oriented. He had some insightful things to say and it was good to put a face to the name.

Well, I've gotta go do some more phone banking. I'll try to post a picture of Melissa and me, if I can figure it out without Kev's help. :-/

Election Rush

Last night Karen called me with the news that our county's GOP Headquarters was burglarized over the weekend and all of the computers, cell phones, and election data were stolen. Because of this, I took a comp day off work and have been volunteering all morning to help keep things under control. I've been doing a lot of phone banking. Lucky for me, I was assigned a large retirement community. The elderly folks are so pleasant to talk to. They all thank me for calling them to remind them to vote. So . . . my job's been pretty easy so far. Tomorrow I'm sure I'll be doing much more of the same. So, don't expect Amy on the blogsphere until after the elections. Until then, pray with me that GWB wins by a landslide. He'll probably win (that's the optimism in me) but I hope he wins so completely that all the lawyers out there, ready to fight, will just shrug their shoulders and go home.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Beware of Abe

Last night went very well. I received a warning from Angela and Sam when I first walked through the door: “If a guy who looks like Abraham Lincoln raises his hand to ask a question, DON’T call on him.” Well, Abe did in fact ask a question but, lucky for me, another guy on stage answered it. [Whew! Close call.] I was glad I was warned in advance about Abe because he’s one of those types (you’ve all met them) who just want a forum to complain about the ills in the world, without offering coherent, helpful suggestions.

Kevin, my most loyal fan, came to observe last night. He did, however, sneak out at 8 o’clock to see the total moon eclipse. Being a self-admitted science nerd, he’s into that sort of thing. I am, frankly, just as happy to see a picture of it on the Internet. What can I say?

Now I’m off to have lunch with Kevin at a little French Crepery in town. We have a buy-one-get-one-free coupon – and these types of things simply must be taken advantage of, you know.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

On Speaking Terms

Tonight I’m speaking about California’s 16 ballot propositions at a voter information night. I’m slightly nervous because there’s so much subject matter that needs to be covered. And I just know that I’ll get questions I probably won’t be able to answer. (That’s what I get for trying to be the Jack-of-All-Trades.)

When I was in high school, I loved public speaking. Probably because that was an era of my life where everything seemed so clear and I, like most teenagers, had all the answers. But now, public speaking isn’t something that I am quite so anxious to jump into. Probably because, as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized how little I actually know. And things have become less clear, over time.

The best part about public speaking is being able to connect with an audience and make people laugh. The problem with tonight is that the topic is, um, slightly boring to a lot of people. Maybe my approach should be to just have fun with it. Hmmm . . . we’ll see if that’s possible. I mean, after all, we’re talking about ballot propositions.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Way to Defy the Stereotype!

Amy is finally proud to be part of the female race. Article: A majority of women voters favor Bush.

Should we save mom's life?

Yesterday I flipped through a few radio stations until I found Dr. Laura. She was talking to a pregnant woman who was upset because her doctors told her if she carries her child to full term she’ll die. Dr. Laura advised her to get a second opinion and then told her that, in her view, if an unborn baby is threatening the mother’s life, it’s okay to abort as a matter of self defense.

It makes sense to me that when two lives are threatened, and only one life can be saved, that doctors should save that life. But then I remember one single guy I used to know, years ago, who preached about how abortion is always wrong, even to save the life of the mother because, after all, God is sovereign and you should let Him work it out. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, it’s easy for you to say.” Like many other things in life . . . it’s easy and convenient for someone to judge another person when they haven’t been there personally.

When I mentioned this whole topic to Kevin, he tried to get a direct answer from me as to when exactly I think it’s okay to take another life to save yours. “What about the Donner Party?” he asked. Although it’s debatable whether or not the Donner Party actually killed members of their group to survive (eat them) when they were trapped in the Sierras at wintertime, historians think that they did resort to murder.

“What about the woman in the bible who killed and ate her son to survive? Was that okay?” (2 Kings 6:24-33)

“What if you and your child were in a submarine with a limited air supply and, if one of you were killed, the other could survive and be rescued? Would you kill your child then?”

Sigh. This is what happens when two lawyers, who are married to each other, have random conversations – all of the tangents and far-fetched possibilities are explored.

To Kevin’s last question, I told him that I would probably kill myself and let my child live. (Or, I could be like James Bond, cut it close, perform some amazing stunts, and still figure out a way for both of us to make it.) ;-) Obviously one factor to consider is whether or not the child is an aggressor. (If a child is inside you and threatens your life, he/she is an aggressor, even though he/she doesn’t have any evil intentions.) If a child is with you in a submarine and you both are desperate for air, the child isn’t harming you anymore than you’re harming him/her. Does that make sense?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Whew! I just got back from a meeting in Old Town Folsom to stop an adult/porn shop from opening on Sutter Street (a street filled with doll houses and ice cream shops). I’m very happy to report that I don’t even know what half of the stuff they talked about is. Nor did I ask. Anyway, moving right along . . . it’s refreshing to see community members stand up for their values. In fact, it’s great to see that people even have values anymore. Sometimes you’ve gotta wonder . . .

Yet another rainy fall day . . .

On Friday we invited friends over for a “game night.” (We miss the fun times with the Hall family in Virginia!) Everyone must have had a good time because they all stayed until nearly 1 a.m. When we were done playing games, Kevin, by popular demand, kept us all entertained by acting out Guesstures cards until the wee hours of the morning. It was quite funny, actually. Laughter does indeed soothe the soul and bring friends closer together.

On Saturday I slept in – later than I think I’ve ever slept in. But Kevin was up early working on the sprinkler system out in the front yard. I’m really proud of him because he’s become quite the handyman. By late morning, the rain continued to pour outside and Kev came into the house resigning himself to the fact that it was probably useless to try to get any more yard work done. So, instead, we went for a drive to Apple Hill to buy fresh cider (which tastes like liquid candy!), apples, and apple fritters. Our favorite apple orchard is High Hill Ranch.

Throughout our drive, the rain and patchy fog continued to descend, making the Sierra foothills very mysterious. This time of year, there are a few trees scattered here and there that are beautiful shades of orange, yellow, and red. As we drove along, Kevin sang me a really random song about a boy in Wales whose aunt “always says things perfectly” and likes to throw snowballs at cats with green eyes. (I don’t get it either.) It’s a very random Christmas song his chorale is working on.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Sports: The Bane of Humanity

Alright . . . I’m getting ready to say something that will make all of the Average American Males out there refuse to ever read my blog again. But, since my readers are above average, I’m sure they can handle this.

Why on earth are so many people so animated about something so stupid as sports?! This post comes as a result of the “Yankees v. Red Sox” insanity that has been going on for the last few days.

First of all . . . Please don’t stereotype me as a female who doesn’t appreciate sports at all. On the contrary! I find great satisfaction in watching a good game of sports now and then. I also enjoy playing a wide range of sports. As a teenager, I won trophies playing basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball. I love sports – to a degree. My main point is that I believe sports consumes too much of America’s time and attention! Too many guys (and a lot of women too) are so entrenched in sports, it’s their life. Whenever their favorite team is on television, they’re glued to the TV. They skip church because of sports. They skip valuable one-on-one time with their spouse and children because of sports. They skip participating in other wonderful activities that would actually make them better people and contribute to the good of humanity, because of sports.

Don’t get me wrong – sports is fun. But that’s all it is. Sports has no significant positive impact on society, culture, or eternity. So why the heck are so many people wasting their lives on it?

There. Now I feel much better.

Confessions of a Young Cook

Lately I’ve been itching to bake stuff. I mean, after all, it’s autumn. That’s when, arguably, it’s the most fun to turn the oven on, get toasty, and savor the delicious flavors of the season. My friends know that I love to find new recipes on the Internet. (My favorite website is AllRecipes.) In order to realize my baking aspirations, I surfed the Net and unearthed a good-lookin’ pumpkin muffin recipe. Please note (just so you really appreciate me), this recipe requires the slicing, hulling, baking, scooping, and pureeing of a pumpkin (yeah, you got it right - no canned puree allowed). At the outset of this venture, I felt very ambitious and adventurous about it. Okay, all of you seasoned cooks out there are probably thinking I’m being way too melodramatic about this. But, you have to understand, in all of my life I’ve never made pumpkin anything from scratch.

Last night was the night I decided to tackle this baking project. Earlier in the evening, shortly after dinner, we attended a local school board candidate forum, which was very interesting. Although I’m glad we went to this, it did put a damper on my grandeur baking plans – I wasn’t able to start my project until approximately 9 o’clock.

At this point of my “story,” I realize that I could drag it on and on . . . but why should I do that when I can simply summarize by saying: A BILLION HOURS LATER, WHEN THERE WAS YELLOW PUMPKIN MEAT, STRINGY PULPY STUFF, SEEDS, PUREE, AND QUASI-PUREE (stuff that didn’t blend quite so well) ALL OVER MY KITCHEN, I finally had the batter prepared and ready to go into the oven. Needless to say, I didn’t get to bed last night until well after midnight. After all that work, I’m starting to wonder if the canned approach isn’t the best idea after all. (So much for being the domestic diva!) I mean, the muffins turned out great and everything, but I’m not so sure they’re three-and-a-half-hours-of-my-life great. Sigh . . . And God bless Betty Crocker!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Santa Works at Sam's Club

I almost entitled this post: “Why Every Family Needs a Truck.” And you’ll soon see why . . .

We recently decided to buy two twin beds for our guest bedroom. The main reason we’re doing this now, as opposed to later, is that my grandparents and parents are coming to visit us in a few weeks and we don’t want to make my grandparents sleep on either the lumpy futon or the air mattress on the floor. Aren’t we so nice?

After shopping around, we found the best deal at Sam’s and purchased the beds last night, just as the store was closing for the evening. If you know Kevin, you know that he drives a little Honda Accord. As you’re reading this, you may be wondering, since you’re an intelligent person, “How on earth are Amy and Kevin going to fit two mattresses, two box-springs, and two bed frames in their little car?” We were also slightly concerned about this potential predicament. But, being the type of people who would never let a little problem like this faze us, we proceeded to move forward.

You know how, at places like Sam’s Club and Costco, they always check your receipt, and mark it with a big line, when you exit the store? Well, the guy who was doing this last night was a very portly gent, with a full belly, round cheeks, snow-white hair, and a long curly beard. As we left the store, I whispered to Kevin, “He looks like Santa Claus.”

Well, would you know it, the mattresses wouldn’t fit after all. And we were so sure that they would! In a moment of brilliant inspiration, we decided that Kevin should go to WalMart, buy rope to tie the mattresses to the top of our car, and then make two trips home to take the bed sets, one at a time. In the meantime, Amy would wait for him in front of Sam’s, guarding the goods.

As I stood outside in the cold, waiting for Kevin, I was slightly bored. So, I decided to sit down on the curb, call my sister Christy, and have a chat. After ending my conversation with her, I looked up to see the cheery gentleman with the white beard who marked our receipt, staring down at me. “Are you okay?” he asked. I told him that I was and explained that I was waiting for my husband. His eyes twinkled (like only a true Santa’s eyes could twinkle) and in a moment he was gone again. But before he left my presence, I caught sight of his name badge. In big black capital letters, it read “SANTA.”

So, yes, Amy, there really is a Santa Claus. And, when he’s not busy taking toys to children, he works at Sam’s Club in Roseville, California.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"Tut, Tut . . ."

I have no idea why I bothered to blow dry my hair this morning. Today the wind and rain ferociously pulled at me, threatening to tear me apart and hurl me in a thousand different directions, as I struggled to walk the three blocks to my office this morning. About halfway there, my umbrella was forced inside out by the wind and I gave up attempting to shield myself from the rain and made hurried dash for the office lobby.

In my dream world, I would have stayed home today, and cozied up next to a warm fire with a good book, and, of course, a cup of hot chocolate. But, like everyone else out there, I live in the real world – and definitely not the world of my hopeful imagination.

The other day Kevin and I were talking about math, of all things, and the subject of rain came up. Kevin is a true modern day Renaissance Man. That’s one thing I love about him. He has a wide range of interests (art, science, law, theology, etc.) and never ceases to teach me new things. (Another good thing is that, even if he’s told me something several months before, there’s a good chance my bad memory has forgotten it. So, everything is always new and interesting! Ha!) He was explaining to me a question that intrigues mathematicians, involving rain. Basically, the question is – if rain is falling consistently, and there is no wind, will a person get more wet if he runs from point A to point B, or if he walks from point A to point B. Apparently it’s a close call but it’s likely that a person gets more wet if he runs.

A: Why do they have to make such a mathematical fuss over this? Why not just have two people start at point A, one of them running and one of them walking, and then, when they get to point B, take a good look at them to see who is wetter?
K: But what if it’s so close that it’s hard to tell?
A: Then it doesn’t really matter what someone does if you can’t tell the difference, does it?
K: Argh! You are way too practical. That’s no fun at all. I want to theorize about this!

Monday, October 18, 2004

The only difference between men and boys . . .

Well, we’ve been saving for a digital camera for quite some time. Nearly a year, actually. We’ve found that we do really well with a “cash system” budget where we put aside money from each paycheck into an envelope for something “big” that we want to buy in the future. (We buy all of our clothes and our groceries this way, too.) Although we’ve had enough money saved up to buy a digital camera for several months now, we have hesitated because we haven’t been able to find the “exact one” that Kevin wants. (He knew what it was in his mind but hadn’t yet found it on the market.) On Friday we decided that we’d just settle and buy whatever looked good at the retail store. The amazing thing is, just that morning, they got a new shipment of cameras and Kevin’s “dream camera” was sitting there waiting for us. Sometimes procrastination really pays off. Kevin has been ecstatic ever since this purchase. He’s just like a little boy at Christmas – and I think it’s really cute. They say that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. ;-)

In Love With Coupons

After shopping on Friday night, we used a coupon for “buy one get one free” at the local mini-golf course. I think this is the first time we’ve been mini-golfing without inviting other friends to come. We had so much fun and have determined to do this again for a future date night. This particular course was awesome – it had tons of trap doors, and other amusing obstacles. The entire game was hysterical because both of us are extremely competitive. Before we began, I figured Kevin would probably blow me out of the water. But, actually, when we ended the game, I lost by only four points. I think it helped that I got three holes in one. But the fact that I got three holes in one and still lost perfectly demonstrates how inconsistent of an athlete that I am. Anyway, I’m happy to report that, even though I lost, I definitely had him scared a few times and I sure as anything gave him a run for his money. Thus, the game was a success.
________________________

While Kev was at his choral practice on Saturday (in which he says he almost completely lost his voice after singing for seven hours straight), I went grocery shopping. Apparently there’s fierce grocery store competition in our new neighborhood. I say this because we got tons of coupons in the mail for free stuff, welcoming us to the neighborhood. One store gave us a free breakfast (eggs, bacon, bread, and preserves) along with a free frying pan. (Of course, it’s a really low-quality frying pan. But, nonetheless!) Another store gave us a free hot-dog dinner with chips and coke, etc. Another store gave us a bunch of free random stuff, including air freshener, paper towels, and pre-made salad. So, basically, since the coupons were going to expire soon, I spent two hours hopping from grocery store to grocery store collecting all the free stuff. It was great. (I didn’t get the hot dogs, ‘cuz we don’t really like them, but did give the coupon to a guy who looked like he’d appreciate it – and he did seem pretty happy to receive it.) When all was said and done, I think I probably got at least fifty bucks worth of free stuff. Now what kind of pessimist says that nothing in life is free?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Brahms . . . so much more than a lullaby

Picture from earlier this evening taken in the Rose Garden downtown after Kevin's Sacramento Choral Society Concert. The concert included choral works by Mozart, Brahms, and Dvorak. (Amy says she would never have been able to spell "Dvorak" without Kevin's help.)

Friday, October 15, 2004

Is it Autumn that makes me this way?

Maybe it’s the descent of a new season, with the climate changes, and leaves fluttering downward. Maybe not. I don’t know why exactly but for some reason I’ve been in an uncharacteristically reflective mood lately. One thing I’ve been thinking about is that I probably devote too much of my time to pure folly. (But I also know that it’s okay to enjoy life, too.) Maybe it’s just that the passing of time is becoming more tangible to me and I feel that I should be doing more to stretch myself, deepen my relationship with God, etc. I’ve been convicted lately that I probably watch too many stupid movies and don’t read enough good books. Lately I’ve been reading A Severe Mercy and it’s been tremendously inspiring, to the point of tears on several occasions - and I’m not your typical weepy person (I’ll write more on this later). Part of the reason I think I’ve been so moved by this book is the fact that I can relate to the author on so many different levels. This book has edified me and strengthened my walk with God. As I read it, I can’t help but think, “God, you are good.” I want to read more books like it when I’m done. Hopefully it will happen. Maybe I’ll rotate between good books and stupid movies to help wean myself. Why does the spirit have to be so willing and the flesh so weak?

Last night Kevin called to me from outside: “Amy, come look at this!” There was a layer of ash all over the trashcan lid from the nearby forest fires. Guys, I cannot tell you how incredible it is to see the first-hand affects of the fire. Yesterday you would have thought it was the end of the world.

Bible Study Antithesis

We’re going to two different bible studies right now and last night was the “couples” bible study that tends to get a little more rowdy, if you know what I mean. Walt asked us last night if we had any prayer requests. I piped up that Kevin has a concert next weekend. Walt expressed interest in going: “Yeah, man, I’d be your biggest fan there. I’d get in the mosh-pit and scream and yell for you. I’d even throw my boxers on stage! I’d be like ‘Yeah, there’s my man! You go dude!’” The really amazing part about all of this is that I think Walt was serious. Little does he know! In fact, last night, I told him: “Walt, I would pay good money to see you go to one of Kevin’s concerts.” Later on in the evening, I asked Kevin: “Do they really throw boxers on stage at rock concerts?” Kevin replied: “Amy, I have NO idea.” We are just so sheltered!

There’s a new non-Christian couple attending this bible study. It’s been challenging to unearth the basics of the faith again and try to explain things in a way that a non-Christian would understand them. If you’ve been a Christian practically all your life, it’s easy to toss around certain cryptic terminology without realizing it. We simply can’t do that, without further explanation, of course, now that this new couple has joined us. Last night we had some good discussion on Creationism. The “other” bible study we attend is with a group of much more “seasoned” Christians from our church. These people tend to delve into entirely different subject matter than would ever be discussed at our other bible study. I think it’s extremely good for us to go to both bible studies – even though it’s trying (insane, might be a better word) sometimes to fit everything into the schedule.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Presidential Debate: Myth of Amoral Lawmaking

Last night’s presidential debate helped to further show the stark contrast between the two candidates running for America’s highest office. Although both President Bush and Senator Kerry talked about their faith, it was interesting to note how they believe their faith should assume different roles in policy decision-making. John Kerry stated plainly that: “The President and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of faith.” John Kerry, when talking about his support of abortion rights, said: “I believe that I can’t legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith.” George W. Bush, however, stated that his faith plays an important role when he makes policy decisions: “When I make decisions, I stand on principles [referring to his religious beliefs], and the principles are derived from who I am.” The problem with what John Kerry said is that, although he may think he doesn’t force his values on others, it’s simply impossible for him not to. Everyone’s beliefs, principles, and religious views (if they have any) are necessarily a part of their decision-making. That’s what policy decisions are all about – imposing what you believe on other people (enacting laws for them to follow). There is no such thing as amoral lawmaking. Every time John Kerry casts a vote in the senate (whether it be on tax increases, raising the minimum wage, or keeping partial birth abortion legal), he imposes his values on others. The question becomes whose values will control. The two candidates last night clearly demonstrated that they have opposing values on many crucial issues. It’s important to go to the polls on November 2nd and vote for the candidate who best shares your values. Someone’s set of values will govern. Whose will it be?

Weird A.M.

For the last few hours I’ve felt as though I’ve been trapped in someone’s science fiction novel. As I drove into downtown Sacramento this morning, a neon red-colored sun suddenly popped out from behind a large tree. It was such an odd color that it caught me by surprise. The sky beyond the sun was an unusual grayish yellow color. Throughout my entire commute, in fact, the bizarre sky loomed incomprehensibly in the horizon. It definitely made for an interesting drive. Apparently a nearby forest fire is causing these strange conditions.

This morning I had to turn off my radio because of all the O’Reilly talk. It made me sick to my stomach. Honestly, I thought it was rather indecent to put on the radio. If even half of what he is accused of is true, it’s utterly disgusting. Although I used to be an O’Reilly fan, I stopped listening to the O’Reilly Factor months ago because I decided that he’s too cocky and egotistical for my liking. (This is also why I stopped listening to Rush.) But I suppose you’ve gotta have a pretty-durn-good-sized-ego to make it big in talk radio. Anyway, it’s really disappointing about O’Reilly. It just goes to show that conservatives are no better than liberals – without the Christ Factor.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

"Ignorance of the law is . . ."

We just got word that they’re lowering the speed limits on 90 different streets in our city. It makes sense for them to do this because there’s been a lot of new construction on many roads in our town and the current speed limits are probably outdated and too permissive. For instance, one road south of where we live is lined with “farm-like” houses (yes, they do exist in California). Across the street is a new development with lots of homes crammed very close together with tiny yards (this is more like the “real” California). The speed limit on this street, which was obviously instituted before the population growth, is 50 mph. If I were on the City Council, I’d probably vote to lower the speed limit on that street, and others like it, too. But, as a resident of this town, it’s going to be a big pain adjusting to the new restrictions. This morning I pondered whether or not they’d give us a “warning” ticket before we got a real one. (Kevin told me not to count on it.) I think it would be wrong for them to take a “sudden-death” approach. I mean . . . how many of you actually check the speed limits regularly on streets you’re already familiar with? What if you’re unaware of new speed regulations? I know, I know . . . ignorance of the law is supposedly no excuse. But I would argue that nowadays there are so many laws (most of them stupid) that are being passed that your average Joe can no longer be expected to know them all. When laws follow what a person’s conscience should know (e.g., don’t murder or steal, etc.), then, yes, I agree, ignorance is not an excuse. But that’s simply not the case anymore. Many laws nowadays cover things a person can’t be expected to reasonably know. Like in Downey, CA where it’s illegal to wash your car on the street. Or, in my hometown of Long Beach, apparently it’s illegal to curse on a mini-golf course. (Not that I’m an advocate of swear words, or that I believe laws like these are frequently enforced, but who’s supposed to know about this?) And the list goes on. It’s getting to the point where I think ignorance of the law should be an excuse, in many instances.