Monday, March 27, 2006

Cool Bible facts

For the past few months I was teaching a bible class titled "A Fresh Look at Old Stories" for the young couples at our church. Each week we would look at a "classic" story in the bible and try to do two things: 1) Discover details and facts we didn't remember, and 2) Apply it to life in 21st Century America.

Here are a few of the details we discussed that aren't covered in children's bible school:

1 -- Moses and the Exodus

Most of us remember Moses for leading the Israelites out of Egypt. But some of us may not realize that this is really the third chapter of Moses' life. He had already spent 40 years in the palace of the Pharoah, and another 40 years as a nomadic sheep-herder. Also, God told Moses that he and the elders were only to ask permission to leave for a 3-day trip, not for good. But we know that once they left they never returned to slavery in Egypt. Sounds like the "3-day worship tour" concept could have been the basis for a tv show thousands of years later:

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2 -- Crossing of the Red Sea

There's plenty of debate over exactly where God parted the waters for the crossing of the Red Sea (and even if it was a different body of water altogether), but based on best guesses of archaeologists, it's a pretty cool visualization:
--The crossing path was probably ten miles long and at least a half-mile wide to accomodate over 2 million people
--They would have walked downhill for a mile or two, then flat across the bottom for a few miles, then uphill to the other side
--At the bottom, the walls of water could have been over 5,000 feet high on either side of them! For comparison, the tallest building in the U.S. is Chicago's Sears Tower at 1,700 feet (including steeple/antenna). It would take three of them to equal the height of the water that was parted for the Israelites as they walked across the sea floor.

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3 -- Lefties have it right

During our study of David's battle against Goliath, we talked about the type of sling David used, based again on archaeologists' discoveries. While discussing the incredible accuracy of this weapon, we ran across a passage in Judges chapter 20 regarding the Israelite army which had "700 chosen men who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss."

Why were all the slingers left-handed? A sling is a sling, with no inherent advantage to either hand, so the weapon doesn't favor lefties. And major league baseball has proven that lefties aren't always accurate ("Wild Thing" Mitch Williams was left-handed; Dennis Eckersely was right-handed and had incredible control).

Finally a military strategy book led me to the answer -- when you have a line of sword-bearing infantrymen, they all need to be holding the sword in the same hand for efficiency and safety. It's like putting lefties and righties together at the dinner table... someone is getting a good dose of elbow during the meal. In battle though, instead of an elbow, a lefty in the line could accidently cut off his fellow soldier's arm or head. Hence, it's a pretty good idea to stick those guys in another unit, like the slinger unit.

And that's why the slingers were all left-handed... nobody would give them a sword and let them anywhere near the infantry line.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Pearls before whine

For those of you who don't know me very well -- I'm funny. I'm not being cocky or deluded; it's just plain fact. Water is wet, the sun is bright, Paris Hilton is braindead and RedLefty is funny, you just can't argue with these things. There's Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, and then there's me. But clearly I'm more humble than those other two comedic giants.

Unfortunately, part of the job of parenting entails that your kids will never fully appreciate your humor, no matter how ingenious it is. Toddlers, especially, won't understand any type of joke beyond basic bathroom or pun humor. They're kinda like rednecks that way (I grew up with rednecks, so it doesn't count as prejudice, right?).

In the past few days, I've been giving zinger after zinger to Samantha but she just doesn't get it. So I'm recording them here for posterity, in the hopes that one day she'll realize just how funny her daddy really is.

Me: Samantha, are you naked and ready for your bath?
Samantha: Yep, I'm naked and naked!!
Me: Naked & Naked? Sounds like a nudist law firm.
Samantha: (Total silence. Blank stare. Tumbleweeds...)

Samantha: THAT'S the way you do it!
Me: Money for nothing and your chicks for free.
Samantha: ("Daddy's crazy" look on her face. No response.)

Bonus observation of the week

I've seen two vehicles this week that have a large Nike swoosh symbol on the middle of the back windshield... what's up with that? Last time I checked, Nike wasn't making cars or trucks. This new trend of inappropriate placement of company logos begs for a name -- I'm calling it cross-brandination.

Time to logoff now... I'm going to sit in my Pantene chair and watch my Black & Decker television. Maybe later I'll go to the fridge and get a nice cold glass of Xerox.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Glimpse of recent family life

Here's a peek into a few anecdotes from our house this week:

1) Since Samantha continues to grow at a dramatic rate, I'm discovering that I can't get away with things like before. For example, I used to read books "Daddy Style". Daddy Style is an evolved method of reading that was specifically designed to shorten any book, hence making naptime or bedtime arrive more quickly.

Real text: "I would not eat them with a fox, I would not eat them in a box. I would not eat them here or there, I would not eat them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am."

Daddy Style: "Not with a fox, in a box, here or there, anywhere. I don't like green eggs and ham."

Twice this week Samantha has looked at me very seriously and said, "I don't want you to read Daddy Style." Samantha: 1, Daddy: 0.

2) On Wednesday morning, everything seemed to be going haywire. The kids didn't sleep well that night, everyone was tired, Samantha was grumpy and Jack couldn't stop rubbing his eyes. I knew Jamie had a long day ahead of her, but there wasn't much I could do at that point, so I got ready for work.

As I was getting in the car, Jamie ran into the garage and said that our cat Gabriel left us something on the front doormat, something "missing a tail and gross." I asked if it was alive and she said it was. I got out of the car, went to the doormat and saw the little tail-less lizard laying there, just hanging out. Jamie stood back about 15 feet while I snuck up to the doormat, planning to quickly pick up the whole mat and sling the lizard over the fence into the yard next door (vacant house). You probably know where this is headed.

I hadn't anticipated how the lizard would stick so well to the mat. When I slung the mat, he stuck for a second or two, and by the time he came detached his trajectory was headed straight at Jamie. The lizard flew high through the air, buzzed her face and landed right by her feet. I heard a noise like someone going insane in a torture chamber as Jamie ran back into the garage, somehow simultaneously shaking every inch of her body in a violent motion to ensure that the lizard wasn't crawling on her.

I tried not to laugh. I almost succeeded. Jamie and I weren't groggy anymore.

By the way, the lizard was dead. I could have simply picked him up and tossed him over the fence without resorting to the whole "doormat launch" program.

Lizard: 1. Daddy: 0.

3) Samantha quotes for the week:

"I'm angry at you! I'm going upstairs by myself, and I'm going to have an ANGRY TEA PARTY!"
"This is a hard thing to do, going pee pee."
"One time you were a little boy. And Mommy was a little girl. And Jack was all grown up then. And when I grow up I'll be a Mommy, then I'll be a Daddy. And you'll be a baby. And I'm going to wear new glasses and have a mustache."
"Mommy Faith Wilson! No!" (Samantha's middle name is "Faith", but she knows it's really only a name for when she's in trouble. She tried to turn it around on Jamie/Mommy.")
"I'm going to the pantry. Come knock on the door and you can visit."
"Yeah, I went to the moon. But now I'm going to the library."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Does God really love everybody, or does He just not want to hurt their feelings?

OK, obviously the title is a joke, but I've come across some people lately who have truly tested my ability to be loving. Scratch that... they've tested my ability to be civil and refrain from verbal or physical assault. Here's a quick look at three winners I've encountered this week:

1) Checkbook egoist -- I'm at the grocery store in the express lane. I'm fourth in line, and there's a kind-looking lady in front of me. We wait a few minutes before she finally gets her turn and gets her items scanned. The total is rung up, and she then open her purse, gets out her checkbook and starts writing grocer name, date, etc.... Huh!?! You've been in line for five minutes, knowing you were going to write a check, and you wait until everything's rung up and sacked before opening your purse? In the express lane? Yikes, I guess the big city rush has gotten to me after all.

2) Lane schizo -- Several times a week I'm stuck in heavy traffic, and there's almost always that one driver... you know the one. Every 30 seconds he's changing lanes, back and forth, back and forth. He's all over the road and it's getting him nowhere, because we're all stuck in this together. By the time we all get moving, he's put an additional two miles on his odometer with all the sideways motion. Sometimes this guy makes me laugh, sometimes I get a little angry, but I haven't been reduced to honking at him yet.

3) Mr. personal space invader -- I was doing deadlifts at the YMCA, and the power rack happens to be setup right in front of a bench press station. I kneel down and prepare to pick up the weights for my first set, and the guy in front of me finishes his bench presses and sits up on the edge of the bench. This puts his face literally eighteen inches from mine, and we're eye to eye. I don't move... I can't move, I'm about to lift extremely heavy weight off the floor repeatedly. He just stays there.

I think, surely he's going to move. After all, he has to rest before his next set, so he'll probably walk around or something. I stay in my crouched position, hands around the bar, ready to lift it off the floor for my set of 15 repititions, which takes a while. Finally, I start my set. Up, down... eye to eye. Up, down... eye to eye. Every time I put the weight back on the floor, there he is. As I exhale to begin each rep, I literally see his hair flutter from my breath. Of course, two men this close never make eye contact, so every time I come down I have to find some other place to look. Anything but straight ahead. This is unfortunate, as straight ahead is a good place to look when you're deadlifting for a long set.

Around rep #8, I start thinking how cool it would be to say something every time I crouch down to put the weight on the floor. Something like this:

Rep #1: "Hey."
#2: "How's it going?"
#3: "This is heavy."
#4: "Still here?"
#5: "Poodle."
#6: (Burp loudly)
#7: "Excuse me."
#8: "Mmm, tacos."
#9: "Am I done yet?"
#10: "Danka."
#11: "Mamasaymamasan-mumacasan"

And so on... if he's there next week, maybe I'll try it.

Did Jesus ever get exasperated with people like this? The woman at the market who scrambled for her denarii? The donkey-rider who kept cutting people off in Jerusalem? Maybe in some scroll, hidden deep in a cave, is a written record of the time Jesus said, "My child... I have given you a brain. Use it."