February tidbits

When the Tank tells knock knock jokes

The Tank: Knock, knock
Me: Who's there?
The Tank: Huh?

For the Palin fans

My parents are conservative people. They are firm in their beliefs and their political ideals are well reasoned. My dad and I don't always see eye to eye, and while there are some political issues we agree on, there are many that we differ (most notably being our choices in the 2008 presidential elections). My opposing political choices were never done out of rebellion, but have mostly come from different life experiences - and he's never held it against me. In fact, he has great respect for my political values - even those where he disagrees.

I've never known my dad - either of my folks - to not vote republican. So, imagine my surprise (and smug delight) when my dad told me that the he and mom are growing less and less impressed with Sarah Palin every day. When I added my opinion that I believe she is making a mockery of the Christian faith - he agreed. I'm shocked and awed.

nic for prez?

In the same conversation where dad expressed his newfound distaste for Mrs. Palin, he asked me when I was going to toss my hat into the political playing field. He just finished reading my post about the war of dumb and we were discussing the nature and horrors of modern politics. After a short rant about why I believe our current system is failing, he asked "When are you going to run for office?"

Interesting and tempting question. Yet, beyond the novelty of that concept, the reality is that I'm unelectable. Not in a bad way, but I don't fit in to any of the preset political camps, and truthfully, that's a sandbox I should probably should not enter.

Despite my opinionated stances and my willingness to share those opinions on this blog, I truly hold fast to the fact (opinion?) that politics bring out the worst in everyone. Myself included.

It is a tempting thought though.

Indestructible kids

JJ spent a week (almost) in the hospital for a plethora of difficulties. Among them: RSV and other respiratory issues, possibly (but not confirmed) croup, a hernia, his digestive tract shut down, and he blew his IV. During my final visit to the hospital before he came home, JJ looked like a drunken peg-legged pirate. But he's home; he has his personality and (most of) his health back to normal.

But our other son couldn't let JJ be the only kid to trek out to the ER. Christian's elbow might have popped out of its socket while wrestling. I say might have because x-rays showed it in tact. The first clue to injury was his screaming in pain, and if he does that we know something is wrong.

Christian has a high pain threshold. He fell out of the apple tree this past summer, cut up his lip and nose, but kept climbing. I was not aware of anything wrong until he came inside - blood everywhere. When I asked what happened, he told me how he fell as if it was no big deal. This is the same kid who (at the age of two) found no greater thrill then falling (in repetition) face first from his bed into a pile of toys. That being said, him claiming any measure of pain raises alarm.

Bruising and swelling aside, he could not tolerate the sling the ER doctors sent him home wearing. Less than an hour back at the house and he wanted out. There are three words not in Christian's vocabulary: Take It Easy.

Valentines Day? We don't need no stinking holiday

That week that JJ was in the hospital happened to coincide with Valentines Day. And the beginning of the Olympics (the only sports that Bekah watches). I don't know how it happens, but all surprises I try to plan for Bekah are inevitably ruined. While my best laid plans went awry, I still managed to pull off something special. Chinese take out in JJ's hospital room + some flowers and mushy notes of encouragement. How'd I do? You'll have to ask Bekah.

The best month ever!

I'm starting to like Februaries. It's a short month, and Valentines day has some of the best candy (second only to Easter). Winter's winding up (although we didn't get much of a winter this year). And my blog tends to attract plenty of readers.

In fact, this was a record breaking month for me, setting a new high for both page views and unique visitors. And I set that record a week ago, so this past week has been nothing but extra frosting on the cake. And if that wasn't enough to make me happy (it doesn't take much) I also set a new high for a one day total - best since the day after Michael Jackson died. I hate to inflate my own ego... but it's too exciting not to share.


Five for Friday

Here are five observations from the Vota/Stellar Kart/Barlow Girl concert (other than the fact that Stellar Kart's light boxes/stage props weigh a ton and the advice that one should always check full sized keyboard cases for wheels before attempting to lug them to/from the stage).

1. Vota is my new favorite band. Don't worry, I'm sure that notion won't last long. But they put on a dang good show.

2. Guys my age should not wear skinny jeans.

3. I still don't care much for Stellar Kart's music but they're all really nice guys.

4. The girls from Barlow Girl are much shorter in person. Surprisingly short.

5. Teenage girls are strange strange creatures, and I'm not sure how I'll cope with life when my daughter becomes one.

Anyways, I've been standing since 5:20 this evening. And when I wasn't standing, I was hauling band gear on or off the stage. I'm pooped and should probably go to bed.


More about the intelligence war.

Here's a word cluster from my previous post. Rather interesting. (And you can create your own @ Wordle, big fun if you've never been there.)

And, since I can't save it as an image to upload here, I provide you a link!

Futhermore, here's an interesting article from Miami Herald writer, Leonard Pitts Jr., that tackles the same issue. I don't often agree with Pitt's editorial writings, but I think he's dead on here.

From the column: "To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth."

That's so full of awesome. And sadly true.


Brains, or Lack thereof

It’s been said that America is either in or soon facing a culture war. It’s a common concept and I am one that believes it to be true. However, I’ve come to change my thoughts as to which cultures are/will be at war.

The most widespread idea of a culture war is that it will be an issue of family values against Hollywood morals, or the religious right versus the heathen left. This may be true to some extent as various political advocacy groups are pushing for legislation to support gay rights or to abolish abortion.

I’m not going to propose an easy answer of how to approach any of these controversial subjects as I believe there are no easy answers. Naturally, the results will be swayed by the ideologies of whoever is in power, but there isn’t a single result that will please all of the population. So as long are we’re all in this together, there will be a significant portion of our nation that is unhappy with how this nation is led.

While opposing factions will continue to wage a morality war, there is another battle I fear is looming over us. This impending culture war is one (I hypothesize) of intelligence – real or implied. This is a new war: the dunces versus the elitists.

How sad.

We can see the opening battles of this war as congress treats its constituents with contempt (or at best, complete disregard). We hear bomb blasts in Sarah Palin’s remark “How’s that hopey, changey thing working out for ya?” Clashes erupt as a study shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is as substantive as traditional news networks. More skirmishes stem from Pew Research that shows the collective American knowledge is worse than it was ten years ago (the same study suggests that viewers of the Daily Show fared well when quizzed about politics and current affairs while FOX News viewers had some of the lowest scores when asked the same questions).

This war has hit home. A family friend who disagreed with some of my opinions in the past bombarded this blog’s comments section with repeated incendiary remarks. Even in a post that I admitted I could be wrong, she continued to harass me and leave hateful and hurtful comments. In a private e-mail to my wife she said that our (referring to both Bekah and me) educations have harmed us.

This intellectual war is viable in my community. Earlier today, in an online discussion, one individual referred to an Apple Store soon to open in River Park Square as “an elitist store for an elitist mall” and insisted that RPS is the “worst mall ever.” (I would contend that Silver Lake Mall is the winner of the worst mall ever award, but that’s a different story.) This comment about RPS led to a response from another local resident that sees RPS as the most pleasant mall to visit out of all of the malls in the Inland Northwest. That was all fine and acceptable until the originator of the elitist comment accused the other individual of being “uncomfortable around the poor people at the other malls.” What made this whole exchange bizarre was the false assumption that pleasant = for rich people while unpleasant = for poor people. And the person calling RPS elite referred to himself as the common man.

Common man? Sounds so familiar. TEA Parties claiming that they represent the common people. Hordes announce that they want to take their country back. And both sides hold stake that they’re the “real Americans.”

Who’s taking the country back? And from whom? And what makes one citizen any more or less real than any other American. All of this political bickering isn’t just sad. It’s sickening. And above all else, it’s dumb.

But now I need to qualify what is or is not dumb. Pat Robertson saying the Haitian earthquake is their own fault is dumb. Sarah Palin chastising a liberal White House staff member for using the word “retard” while praising Rush Limbaugh’s use of the same term is dumb. Watering down health care reform to please a group that wants to see HCR defeated is dumb. Telling “morans” to get a brain is dumb. Throwing plastic bags with racist propaganda into neighborhood yards is dumb. Paranoia is dumb. Mullets are dumb.

There are two sides to this culture war: intellectual vampires and intellectual zombies. Intellectual vampires thirst for knowledge (and I must specify that knowledge and wisdom are not mutually codependent qualities), and they feed off those they view as inferior. Their bite is scathing and they attack with vigor. Intellectual zombies have no brains, nor do they show any desire to acquire information. Their lack of sense is infectious and they spread their ignorance like an epidemic. Both sides insist that they are the representation (yet neither are an accurate depiction) of the common American. Unfortunately, talking heads from both ends of the spectrum insist that you join one or the other under the mantra “either you’re for us or you’re against us.”

I choose to believe that the majority of Americans are smart. Not geniuses, but not complete imbeciles either. We have a God-given ability to think and learn and reason. I trust that we all want our communities and our nation to be better than its current state. While normal people are making efforts to improve the world around them, we are bombarded by a war between egotists and idiots.

We are more than collateral damage. I propose three things that will help us survive this war between low intellect and high intellect.

1. Know your heritage. Know where you came from. This can be a tremendous source of strength and pride. Furthermore, respect for your own heritage requires a respect for diverse histories of your neighbors; both friends and strangers. It also demands an understanding of our shared heritage.
2. Desire something better than this. In what kind of nation do you want to live? Or have your kids raise their kids? Who would you rather lead us – someone smarter than you? Or someone not as smart as you? What scares you? What gives you hope? You need to be able to answer these questions.
3. Take action. Do something. Don’t just protest, contact your representatives. Get involved with organizations that have the ability to positively impact your community.

We’re better than this. We are capable of so much more.


Blogfest Recap

The afternoon started at the Fort Ground Grill near the NIC campus. They had a nice banner up to welcome the HBO crowd.

Once inside, we were greeted with a spectacular spread: veggie platter, BBQ beef, and a taco bar (plus some of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies that I've ever had).

The first group of fellow HBOers I chat with was Arch Druid, Stickman (who is sporting a newly acquired beard), and Digger (the one in the I (heart) Mike t-shirt).

DFO, HBO's blogmaster, made his rounds and never had a problem finding a friend. Here he's chatting with Herb Huseland. (Sorry about the wacky stripes across the bottom of the picture. My camera revolts when its batteries are dying.)

Dogwalk had her camera with her and was probably doing a better paparazzi job than I.

Sam the Reporter and his wife Kat made the trek out from Bellingham. They managed to convince Sam's mom, Truly, to drop by and share in the social festivities.

Mike Kennedy was there, as were some other important folks from around the city including Christie Wood and a CDA Press employee whom shall remain nameless.

Digger dug down into the goodness of his heart and donated his I (heart) Mike Kennedy shirt to Mike Kennedy. (ps: don't be surprised if that t-shirt makes an appearance at a city counsel meeting.)

A good time was (hopefully) had by all. While some may see us as a group of co-conspirators of an evil empire, I assure you we're harmless.

Others that I chatted with but did not capture on (digital) film: Clean Water, Liz & husband David, Idaho Dad (who said a great line about how parenting - if done correctly - will make you neurotic), Mama JD, Cindy H, and many more whose names have escaped my short term memory.

As always - much gratitude to Dave for creating such a thriving online community that we all enjoy.


Portraits of Christian

Sleeping in a bed.

Sleeping in the car.

Paying devout attention to the Super Bowl.
Visiting JJ at the hospital.

Experiencing some confusion* on Sunday morning.

* To my credit, he picked out his own shoes and put them on all by himself. He followed me out to the car, climbed into his seat, and bucked his own seat belt. I didn't get the chance to see his choice in footwear until we were at church.


The most epic instant message conversation ever!

(preface: in a recent facebook status update, I mentioned donuts, which my wife despises with the passion equal to how clergymen hate blasphemy. My father and I both indulge in donutty goodness whenever the opportunity presents itself. My wife's attempt to explain her distaste for the round and frosted pastry devolved into mind numbing absurdity. What follows is that instant message conversation between Bekah my dad.)

Donuts are evil and disgusting!!!!!

you forgot wonderful too

the cow moos at the full moon
the duck quacks as the dog barks

and the cow jumped over the moon, but it was only a quarter moon. it cost a dime

The pink elephants danced on top of a purple dinosaur.
I ate a raccoon for dinner tonight

the alligator snuggled with the giraffe

the alligator bit the giraffe's head off :)
and then drank some pepto

had to...swallowed cat hair balls

and laid a platypus egg
then it went on a carnival cruise
'cause girls just wanna have fun
5 years ago the alligator was a horse
alligators hate verizon wireless
alligators don't exist

bull. the girls don't know where the fun is stored. the rental agency sold Walmart the marketing rights to the zoo

Elephants remember years of information they don't need. They also store it in large spreadsheets

maybe the roach coach should serve the meals at the zoo

I am properly medicated today

have half convo and mix it with meds and discover a new aura

its a revised updated changed segmented and masked hard working slug
on meds
like mine
your aura is new
and a psychiatrist

found it on a full moon...when I was howling

the pig needs a shark
a vicious shark

it was at Florida beach
near Atlanta
Atlanta is a suburb of Cincinatti

right next to Ethiopa
I swam there once with a hippo

as long as you ain't the hippo, that is fine

nope I was riding the hippo with a puppy

the persian cat puppy?

praise Allah

careful, Salt Lake City is calling you collect

I can never find a Mormon or a satanist when I need one

yup, along with them sacred cows the jehovah witnesses worship
they want you to host the pope
I meant poop lol lol
get a load of that diaper

It was stinking and glowing and in great supply, the Lord has blessed our harvest

is that hairiest?


(epilogue: All this happened in the span of 10 minutes. Once the poop jokes rolled out, they new there was no salvaging any semblance of sanity. To wrap it up, Dad admitted "I am going to get out of this....it is starting to make sense to me." I've read it a dozen times and it does not make sense to me. These are two of the most important people in my life. I'm married to one and the other is my genetic predecessor. So if I ever appear crazy - there is very good reason for that.)


Need a miracle?

Do you remember that song 'All I Need is a Miracle' by Mike + The Mechanics? No? You probably don't remember the band* but you would recognize the song. "All I need is a miracle, all I NEEEeed is you..." You know the one?

Don't you ever feel like that? That you just need a miracle? I'm there. I'm feeling like that Bowie/Queen song Under Pressure. It's pressing down on me.

Why is that? Life should be good right now. I have a beautiful wife. I have intelligent and imaginative kids who never cease to surprise me. I have a stable job that has been a blessing for the past six years. We're more financially secure now than we were a year ago (and possibly since before Bekah got sick). So why do I feel like these are the days it never rains but it pours?

It's probably because all I need is a miracle. Or at least I think I do. Because Christian has texture issues with his food, and it would make our lives manageable if for once he'd eat ground beef. Zu is an emotional mess and outbursts seem more like a routine act than an occasional fit. The Tank has severe speech delays and I can barely understand anything that bumbles from his mouth. JJ has more medical complications than I have time or energy to list here. And the challenges in my new position at work often seems insurmountable.

It would be a miracle if Christian would expand his dietary horizons. It would be a miracle for Zu to express her feelings without bursting into tears. It would be a miracle for The Tank to speak English. It would be a miracle if half of my job made sense. And perhaps the biggest miracle of all would be if JJ was home from the hospital and never had to go back.

Is that really the problem? Probably not. It could be that I'm making mountains out of specks of dust. And it could be that I have a lot on my shoulders. Do the burdens we bear define our lives?

You know the right answer to that question. If you ask me, I'd tell you the correct response. It's not what we're given but what we do with what we're given that makes the difference. We shouldn't let external circumstances dictate our internal lives. The answer is so easy, and yet I struggle living it out in the real world.

Because, in practice, complaining about our stature is far more effortless. Discontent is simpler than gratitude. The ugly is more apparent than the exquisite.

So if we're being honest, the weight we carry is not the source of our problems but how we see it. And it is hard. Because if I had it my way, I'd live off a diet of Taco Bell and video games, I'd get paid to do nothing at work, my kids would be obedient drones lacking personality and devoid of joy, and my wife would keep up with the laundry. Yet I would still find something that I could blame for my stress.

I wish I was the kind of person who always looked on the bright side of life. The kind who could take the lemons life dumps on us and make strawberry lemonade. The act of seeing beyond my natural inclinations is like a glutton declining free food. It's a fight to remind myself that I truly live a charmed existence.

Christian's texture issues prevent him from enjoying pizza, but at least he is healthy and active... and he likes carrots. Zu might have difficulties controlling her emotions, but she adores her daddy. The Tank speaks a foreign tongue that only he understands, but he provides comic relief like a toddler sized episode of The Office. The challenges in learning my new responsibilities at work are more than a difficult task; it is an opportunity play an important role in our company. And JJ's medical issues only show how much his life is miraculous.

This is one of those days where I feel like all I need is a miracle. Somebody, please remind me that I live in a house full of miracles.

* If you need to look up the song, I'd recommend Pandora internet radio. Don't youtube it. They weren't pretty in the '80s and they have not aged well.


live blogging the super bowl commercials

I tweeted my thoughts about the commercials throughout the game. In case you missed it, here is a copy of my Twitter feed.

House made of Bud Light... Creative commercial.

Betty White playing tackle football? Awesome. Kudos to Snickers.

I don't understand why the pro-choice people were up in arms over the Tim Tebow ad.

Your car = classical music with paint > Mercedes CLS550... I'm not any more interested in buying a Hyundai

NFL players should not be allowed to rap.

Shocking bark collar in the Doritos ad... There's some people I'd like to do that to.

New Robin Hood trailer! Yay! Can't wait to see it.

Lil kid with attitude... So far Doritos has the best commercials.

2nd Bud Light ad... Not as good as the first.

Head slap? Really?

Is this a Simpsons ad? Or a Coke ad?

Yet another fantastic Doritos commercial

This autotune stuff is WAY overboard. Jay-Z got it right: death to autotune

And now we have a fiddle playing beaver. monster.com ads confuse me

The Bridgestone ad with the killer whale - my new favorite

Does CBS really have to pimp themselves during the super bowl?

I'm horrified by the human bridge.

Leno in a Letterman ad? Now I've seen it all.

I'm glad my office doesn't have casual Fridays. My coworkers in their underwear? #shudders

Underwear in the office followed by the "I wear no pants" song? Bad planning CBS.

Hello Lost ripoff beer ad.

Dove for men = creepy

NFL draft using music from Where the Wild Things Are. I wonder if there's a correlation?

What's with all the underwear references?

Flowers in a box = cigarettes & dead people... Genius

Papa Johns... Mmmmm. To bad they closed all their stores in this area.

Another movie I'm eager to see... Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Midget Kiss? WTF?

Those brooms in the Harry Potter ad look phallic. No bueno.

I was expecting more from Flo TV

Intel makes me laugh... Poor robot.

Ready for the halftime show? I am.

Where can I find Will.I.Am's remix of My Generation? Ah... Flo TV

The Who: Unplugged.

I was hoping to hear Pinball Wizard

And the crowd is singing along. Here's to the naysayers that said we should have had someone more hip: it's a teen-aged wasteland

I don't care how old they are - The Who still rock. And they're far more vital than the Rolling Stones.

Roger Daltrey is wearing an unnecessary scarf. If he was a Christian, he could be a metro-sexual worship leader.

Oooh... And Prince of Persia. Also looks good.

Slug bug!

Sleepwalking safari - great ad from Coke.

Census commercials = incoherent

I've always loved Emerald Nuts commercials.

facebook is being retarded. Yes, I am simultaneously updating facebook and Twitter

And hopefully Sarah Palin doesn't condemn me for using the word "retarded."

@prodigaljohn we'll find out when Blondie is asked to play the halftime show next year.*

Charles Barkley should not be allowed to rap. Ever. And it looks like he's been eating too much Taco Bell.

Bud light commercials = fail. Doritos commercials = win.

There you have it. My frantic typing into my iPhone. The game is over. Fabulous second half. New Orleans will be celebrating Mardi Gras for the next nine days. And I'm not afraid to admit I only watched the game for the commercials.

* John posted the following on his Twitter page: "How great would it have been if girls as old as the Who were dancing on stage during the show? 65 year olds getting down" my response to @prodigaljohn was in reply to his question.


99 Balloons

If you've not yet seen this video,* you need to watch it. (if you're reading this via facebook, you'll need to click the link that says "View Original Post")

*In full disclosure, I stole this from Stuff Christians Like, who found it on Brad Lomenick's site. And Brad probably found it from someone else, et cetera.


Central Valley

It's all over the news. If you've been watching or reading or listening to any news source, you probably know the story. Ten Americans (eight of them from Idaho) were arrested while trying to leave Haiti with 33 children in their custody without any any documentation for the kids. They face up to 24 years in prison according to one article.

I'm not going to debate the intentions of the group. There's been enough discussion about this in the media there isn't much I could add. I don't know if their motivations were benign or malevolent. I don't really care if this a genuine legal issue or a big misunderstanding.

My favorite part of this story is the source... Central Valley Baptist.

Half of the imprisoned group (including the group's leader/organizer) are members of Central Valley Baptist in Meridian Idaho.

All this talk and news about this church in southern Idaho reminds me of my one and only interaction with them. Please allow me to rehash one of my fondest memories.

The guys that I hung out with when I lived in Boise were all musicians. One night, we went downtown during a cruise night to walk around and hang out. We ate some Pita Pit, walked around the crowded sidewalks, and waved at honking cars. We had brought a couple of acoustic guitars and ended up holding an impromptu jam session by the fountains on the corner of Capital and Idaho. It was in this plaza near Boise's City Hall that we were approached by a group of teens from Central Valley.

That was eight(ish) years ago, so I don't remember who in our group did the speaking. And I can't recall the CV youth's words verbatim. But the gist of the dialog is still very vivid in my mind.

It went a lot like this:

Them: Hi. We're from Central Valley Baptist, we'd like to share the gospel with you. (attempts to hand us tracts)
Us: No need. We've got it covered.
Them: But if you don't accept Jesus as your personal savior, you'll go to hell.
Us: Yeah, we've all ready done that. You can go preach to someone else who needs God more than us.
Them: But you need Jesus. You must repent of your sins.
Us: Did that. It's OK, we're Christians. We go to a church a few blocks from here.
Them: But Christians don't hang out downtown during the cruise. You are living in sin.
Us: You're down here during the cruise.
Them: But we're trying to save sinners!
Us: And we're trying to sing and play some music.
Them: If you don't believe in God's word…
Us: Dudes, we go to First Baptist. You don't need to preach to us.
Them: But you have to accept Jesus! (attempts to hand us tracts, again)
Us: We love Jesus… seriously… you can go harass someone else now.
Them: Fine! If you don't want to hear our message of love an hope, you can all go to Hell!

After that they stomped off. Good times folks. Good times.