Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Road Goes Ever On . . .

Newsweek has a web story on the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway system.

As you might know, I have a slight interest (and I do mean slight at this point in my life) in this topic, as I once intended to craft a doctoral dissertation on the IHS's impact.

To celebrate those slabs of concrete that get you from here to there in the most dehumanizing way possible, go here to read the Newsweek story. And once you've done that, why not swing over to Why Won't You Write?! and read some of my Masters thesis on the topic.

(Come on . . . give it a try!)

Man in Black

A quick note to wish a belated happy birthday to Tobey Maguire. He turned 31 a few days ago.

Also, the folks at Marvel released the first teaser trailer of Spiderman 3 on Tobey's birthday. The fact that it might have been an attempt to steal the march on the opening of Superman Returns never crossed my mind.

Anyway, it's a promising first look at the movie. While everyone has been giving Superman the bums rush for being too smooth, too boring, too invincible, it's clear from this glimpse that Peter Parker's life is anything but smooth and polished. Say what you want, but Spiderman's life ain't boring.

If the swelling cast of villains (Venom, Sandman, and . . . I swear I saw the Green Goblin), girlfriends (Mary Jane AND Gwen Stacy), and Spidermen (evil black and friendly neighborhood red) can be done correctly, it won't be heading down Batman Forever territory.

Here's hoping.

Click here to visit the trailer site.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Stuff upcoming

I have felt very busy the last several days and consequently haven't set aside much time to blog--not that there has been tons to write about anyway . . . just everyday, boring weekend stuff (vacuuming, laundry, cooking, grass cutting).

Grace and I had an altercation on Sunday at the pool, in which he started acting very badly and I decided to put my parental foot down. It was a bit ugly and the upshot was that I walked her home while she was upset all the way.

Oh yeah, speaking of Grace (and another very good reason why things have been busy). She turned three-years-old on Monday. We had a smallish party for her at Graeter's Ice Cream with some friends. It was a nice affair. I'll try to write something more about it later and I really should give Grace her due. She deserves it.

But, I've also been trying to get ready for the first of our two vacation trips in July. Trip #1 begins this Friday, as we load up the car and drive down to Georgia to visit my family.

It's been far too long since we've all been together in the same place. I am really looking forward to it.

That means, of course, that I need to tie up some loose ends here at work, get some procedures figured out for the days that I am gone, do another two quick loads of laundry to increase our choices, and pack.

We had to go out and buy some new luggage on Monday, as Lynda discovered that one of our pieces broke on her flight back from Texas last week. But we got a good deal on several sizes of suitcases, backpack, etc at Target. I hope the quality lasts for a while, but since we don't travel that much I figure we'll get our money's worth out of it before it collapses.

So, tonight is a small dinner with old friends, then a start on laundry and some packing. I worked hard last night getting all the financial records up-to-date so that I can bank remotely from Georgia with confidence that I know what's what.

But all that is tonight. Today . . . work.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where's Huey Lewis when you need him?

I'm getting a bit put out by the constant attacks on Superman. His sexuality has been called into question. His religious affiliation has been discussed. He's been called so many variations on bland, boring, and square that I'm beginning to think the thesaurus conglomerates are behind the negativity.

And it just gets worse. Newsweek has written a story in which they go to great length to praise Bryan Singer's movie, describing it as "gorgeously crafted," and "infuse[d] . . . with poetry" still can't wait to call the Man himself as "foursquare" (emphasis likely on square).

But, there is so much information on this most iconic superhero it sort of boggles the mind.

But I want to know why is it bad that Superman is seen as a bit of a nerd?

Where's the respect? He is, after all, the superhero upon which so many others were based. Everyone bad-mouthing the Man of Steel is sort of like George W. Bush talking trash about George Washington. He's the model; heck, he was even know as the Marble Man once upon a time, I believe. (And some of us know that you should NOT dis GW. He'll kick you apart . . . especially the British children.)

So, why isn't it hip to be square? I love Spiderman but you've gotta give it up to the one that made it cool to put on multi-colored body socks.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The wisdom of youth

My Father's Day experience was nice. We bought a gas grill (our first one ever) and I spend about an hour and a half constructing it in the garage. Luckily, I chose a brand and style that did not require any tools for assembly. It went very well and smoothly. I was even able to hook up the propane tank, turn it on, and successfully cooked on it that night.

After dinner, Sarah and Grace conspired to make me a special Daddy dessert. It was a very impressive banana split and it tasted great, let me tell you.

Heading home from getting the kids at daycare, I asked Sarah and Grace what they wanted me to fix them for dinner. I suggested hotdogs or chicken that I could grill outside. Grace initially balked at the idea, but Sarah set her straight by commenting that I wanted to cook that because "it's just like when you get a new toy and want to play with it a lot. Daddy just wants to use his new grill, okay?"

Grace understood and agreed.

I couldn't possibly have said it any better. It's scary that she is this perceptive already. What will it be like when she gets older?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A meditation on Fathers Day variations

The use of the work meditationin the title should tell you that this post has some religious connections in it. If that is not your thing--get out now.

Today is Father's Day. I have a father. I am a father. My church teaches me that God is my Father. But there is more to it than that. (If there wasn't, this post would be pretty short.)

My denomination of faith--the Episcopal Church (U.S.) is undergoing an identity crisis right now. It's not the first time the Ep. Ch. has undergone such crises. I am sure that this one won't be the last time it occurs either.

(What follows is my shockingly uninformed view of the situation. If you know more than me, write a comment pointing out the mistakes and other things overlooked.)

The current crisis centers on whether or not it's okay for the Episcopal Church to have ordained an openly homosexual priest into the group of bishops--those clergy that serve as the highest organization and spiritual level in the United States church. Naturally, introducing homosexuality into any discussion during these sensitive times of cultural war makes people reflexively draw lines for and against.

I am of the opinion that the mere fact that Gene Robinson is homosexual is not the single-most important factor in whether or not he should be the bishop of the good people in New Hampshire. (He has been acting as the bishop there for the past several years.) I know there are many who say that homosexuality is a biblically-censured sin and therefore automatically disqualifies them to hold such a vital spiritual position in the Church's hierarchy.

People say hate the sin, but love the sinner. But when that sinner happens to be in a position of power and authority, AND he happens to espouse a lifestyle that is polarizing, AND he argues that God made him this way and God wouldn't want him to be any different . . . well, you've got a recipe for problems.

All of this is important, but it's even MORE important to me right now because the Episcopal Church (U.S.) has been holding
their General Convention of the bishops of the nation in Columbus, OH for the past several days. I should have been providing daily updates on the goings on at the Convention Center. I tried briefly to serve as a volunteer for the event . . . but work and sickness got in the way. I should have done more to stay informed as the Church leaders once again meet to discuss an enormous slate of issues, only one of which is the role of homosexuality in the faith, AND vote on the new presiding bishop for MY diocese of Southern Ohio. (That vote took place today during my own church service.) [See comments 1 and 2 for additional information and correction to these last sentences.]

Hearing a reminder that these decisions were being prayed over today made me think; hearing Fr. Rick tell us that during his visits to the convention he has witnessed everyone carefully listening to one another gave me a bit of hope. I sincerely hope that this listening will result in deliberate and prayerful choices for the Ep. Church. A bishop has a spiritual role similar to a father--an overseer, a guider.

I don't see myself as someone overseeing from a distance. I think, especially in my girls young lives, I am in the thick of it. But someday, I will step back and oversee, observe from a distance. I can only hope that my efforts, my guidance and teaching, my love and concern that I display now will give Sarah and Grace the tools they need to live their own lives in a way they are happy with and in a way that makes them happy. I have no way of knowing what form those lives will take. I have no way of knowing if their choices will make me happy or not. I don't yet know how I will react to those choices that I don't agree with--but I know they will come. Can I trust them to make their own mistakes and to come to me when necessary? Can I trust myself to welcome them openly, without judgment, without anger or disappointment? What will be the proper thing for me to do? I don't know and may not know until that moment arrives.

The Church may not know what to do in this moment. And if they don't hear God's clear answer, I hope they can make the decision to wait more and dialogue more and see if the answer becomes clear. Let us not make rash decisions that divide. The Church has done quite enough dividing in it long and varied history. But I am happy that the Episcopal Church has faced these cultural questions in the past and come to decisions that I think were the right ones.

I hope the Church leaders can find a way to do that again. Let us all be patient and listen for the answer to come to each of us individually and collectively.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My final word

I finally finished--after a fashion--some remembrances about the Philly wedding.

It's not as polished or illuminating as the event deserves, but the time is simply dragging on and I need to finish whatever it is and move on to other things.

Suffice it to say, the time was good, a great time was had by all, many happy returns, and best wishes and long life to the happy couple.

If you want more than that . . . well, you'll have to content yourself with this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

. . .

I have been very neglecting of my blog in recent weeks.

Some of it was by design, trying not to spend time on it every night, to the detriment of more important things. But I haven't been able to come up with a good way to tell the rest of my story about the Philadelphia wedding that is now moving so quickly into the past, I don't even know if it is worth telling (the time I had was great, but does anyone want to hear about something that occurred about three weeks ago?

I'll keep trying.

But lately, the biggest problem has been a severe case of strep throat that I came down with Sunday night (?) and have been suffering with all week. I worked half-days Monday and Tuesday, resting in the afternoon to soothe a very sore throat and to fight off fevers. Today I am staying home all day in the hopes of finally putting the worst of the symptoms behind me. My antibiotics must be doing something, but nothing has made the throat pain go away for any significant amount of time. I tossed and turned quite a bit last night trying to get comfortable.

And I've got to get better NOW, because Lynda is off all of next week on a business trip to Texas. I can't handle two kids, dance classes, daycare, dinner, cleaning, and work if I feel like this . . .

So, I'm going back upstairs to get some more rest.

I'll try to catch up on my blogging later.

Thanks for visiting and for your patience.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Philadelphia Story, day 2

Now I am sitting downstairs, the girls are asleep, and Lynda is probably in bed. She is battling a cold and needs the rest.

Tonight I took Sarah to her second dance class--my first visit. It felt like I was the only male in a building that was crammed with women. And that's fine, really, except that so many of the girls and young ladies (and the teachers--who were probably in their late twenties) were all walking around in leotards and tights and such. I just felt like I had to constantly watch where I was looking and didn't want anyone to think that I was staring at someone or doing anything inappropriately. So, I sat and listened to my iPod while Sarah was in her classes (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban if you're interested).

But what I wanted to bring up was what Sarah said to me on the way to the dance studio. She said, "What would it be like if we were all dolls and everything was a dollhouse and there were really giant people moving us around?" I thought that was a very interesting thought and I played along, but it was great at one point when she was asking me to pretend that we could see the giant hands in the sky reaching down to move stuff. I said, "Who is the big hand?" and she was half listening and I said, "What if its God?" and she sort of ignored me and kept talking and then stopped abruptly and said "What?" It sort of threw her for a loop and she didn't pursue the idea, but it was a funny moment of "Whoa! What are you trying to say?"


But, now back to the Philadelphia travelogue.

On Day 1 I gave a brief description of our travels on the highway through Pennsylvania and Jack's hatred of deer nookie.

What I didn't mention was that we also attended the Rehearsal dinner that evening. I have a few pictures of that here.

On Day 2--the day of the wedding, we had time during the day to explore the historic city of Philadelphia. But the morning started with Hampton Inn continental breakfast. I knew something was up right away when Jack and I started walking around to get various breakfast dishes. Several of the hotel guests were all walking around with similar black t-shirts and many of them in various types of exercise pants or camouflage shorts. Almost all of them where guys and from what I could see on the shirts, these guys were some sort of martial arts group.

As Jack and I surreptitiously ate and eavesdropped on a group of them sitting next to us, our suspicions were confirmed. This martial arts group was in town for a convention. They were practitioners of something called Bando. It still felt vaguely militant to me, especially when I noticed that most of them were watching FOX News while they ate and then Jack heard on guy telling another that he needed to "remember what the pain [wa]s for."

I was too afraid to ask a follow up question on that.

We finished eating, caught up with Cordelia and Raisinette and set off downtown.

We quickly realized that there were only TWO things that Philadelphians did on a Sunday morning in late May--head downtown and see the historic sites (like us) or head for the Philadelphia Zoo. We knew this about the zoo not because it is "America's first zoo" but because the only traffic jams we experienced the entire trip were approaching the single exit to the zoo that morning and then again later that afternoon. It was about a fifteen or twenty minute crawl past that point and it seemed that everyone was headed that way. I hope it was worth it.

Once we made it downtown, Jack scored us a great parking space close to Independence Hall and we set off. You can read about our travels in the historic areas here and here.

Next time, WEDDING!!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Travels in Philadelphia, part 1

,.,, On Memorial Day weekend, I traveled with Raisinette, Cordelia, and Jack Thunder to attend the wedding of our former coworker, Spec.

We left on Saturday morning and hit the road, heading ever eastward towards the great state of Pennsylvania and the historic city of Philadelphia.

The ride that morning was energetic; the conversations were random but steady. The music (supplied by three separate iPods) was eclectic but fun and familiar. To be honest, there wasn't much to report as Jack's car ate up the miles. But, certain things had to be pointed out--though I am sure that if I had written about these things the instant they occurred, everything would seem funnier. As it is, well . . . I don't know.

1. We came upon a mysterious billboard for some place called Gravity Hill. I don't know why this is noteworthy, since the presence of gravity--being (almost) a universal constant--upon a hill isn't that surprising. But, upon perusing the website, you can see that this place is an odd phenomenon. Beware!

2. We also noticed several stickers (at the PA turnpike gates) for a site called You can check out the site if you wish, but BE WARNED! While there is no nudity contained in what I saw, some of the images might be considered suggestive. The people that run this site are a bit put-out by marriage.

3. Beyond that, the event that stands out most in my memory is how Jack T. single-handedly reduced the deer population in rural Pennsylvania.

No one was injured--well, no human was injured.

It went down like this. We're driving along, going an appropriate 68 mph or so. We see two deer standing in the grass off to the right of the interstate's east-bound lanes. Jack, conscientious lover of wildlife that he is, prepared to honk his automobile horn to warn the deer of oncoming metal object. Unfortunately (and COMPLETELY unbeknownst to him I might add) he honks the horn just as one deer prepares to mount the other deer!

Naturally, the ill-timed juxtaposition of the horn and the mounting caused the male to stop and caused the female to run away. We all had a hearty laugh at Jack's horror upon what he had done. It wasn't clear in the rear-view mirror if the male deer took out his Barry White album and his mood lights to try and get his lady back in the mood.

So, that's it for the first part of my reflections on Philadelphia.

I'll write part two soon and will include interesting photos of our day in historic Philadelphia.

By the way, since I took a week off, I'm behind on my The Authority Speaks columns from yesteryear. Funny how no one complained. Hmmm.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blog, Interrupted

I took the weekend off and might slow my pace of blogging. It seems to be dominating my non-work life more than is necessary.

But while I won't be posting every day, I certainly won't be gone. Let's just take it one day at a time, okay?

So, as a result, I haven't finished my report on the Philadelphia wedding. Luckily, the groom has graciously posted some pictures on his site. You can get a taste (but not as GOOD a taste as mine will be . . .)

Friday, June 02, 2006

"I think it's gonna be a long, LONG time . . ."

Nope, still not done. Maybe this weekend.

But, you'll forgive me once you've watched this incredibly self-indulgent (or self aware . . . or self-stoned) version of "Rocket Man" by William Shatner.

He's awesome, is the Shat.

"Family Guy" parodied this before, and while I could give you a link to a video of that scene where Stewie performs the same Shatneresque performance, you might not like some of the banner ads.

You can look for it on your own if you wish.

But for now, enjoy Bill at his most Shatnerific.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kirk Cameron sets us straight

I still haven't finished my wedding post-tospective (a retrospective using blog posts, you understand).

But . . . I can offer you this illuminating video featuring our favorite actor from Growing Pains, who just so happens to now be a Left Behind superstar:

Take THAT you non-believers! Argue against THAT!!!!