Sunday, July 19, 2009

This and that

Sermon stuff

My sermon from last Sunday has been posted online -- this link is here and then click on either the audio or video files for July 12 ("Perfect Strangers").

I haven't listened to it all yet but my memory of the experience was very positive. I threw myself into the message and am glad to have done it.

Catchup with family members from vacation (inside jokes and stuff)

Mom, did you read Romans 11 yet? What did you think?

Great, thank you for sharing with me about your near-death experience. It was powerful.

Lisa, seen any deer lately?

Matt, the funny Saturday Night Live video I mentioned (Marky Mark Talks to Animals) is here. It's my kids' favorite right now.

Bob, you have a very cool family. We love spending time with the four of you (plus whichever special guest get to come along) and wish it could be more than a week.

AJ, thank you for all the pictures you took. Because somehow we, like... didn't take any? So we're stealing yours.

Dad, now that Tom Watson almost won the Open today, I fully expect you to recover quickly from whatever swing ailment you had during vacation. You've still got a few years before peaking.

Nonny, Samantha protects her teacup with great vehemence.

Adam, your laugh sounds like Pee Wee Hermann and your ears smell like cauliflower.

Drew, your laugh is contagious and your voice sounds like... well, I'm not sure, because it's usually above my auditory range.

Bonus gifts

An old comedic ploy is to edit songs or movies and turn them into something far different than the original. These are two of my favorite examples:

Jurassic Park -- Hey!

The Darth Vader you never knew

Yes, that last video is nine minutes long, but it makes me laugh more times than most 90-minute comedy films!

Don't worry. My next post will be back to the usual deeper thoughts.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Manual labor, plus a dash of random philosophy

Manual Labor

My wife Jamie (a.k.a. RedWifey) has three rules that always get followed when she dives into a project:

1) At the last minute before the project/event begins, she will find an equally large, totally unrelated project to launch into. Thus ensuring the chaos of two simultaneous initiatives.

2) The project's scope will expand exponentially as it progresses.

3) Somehow, in spite of the two items above... everything will work out fine.

Last Friday was an office holiday so she planned it as a painting day at our house. The plan was to paint Jack's current room, which will soon become the "big kids" room when baby Luke arrives in a month or two.

Please understand, in our six years of living in this house we've painted exactly one wall of one room, that being the main wall of the den. That's it. Everything else is your basic eggshell drywall color, which over the years of hard living with kids and dogs has gained some new shades. Men would call it character. Women would call it filth.

Bottom line -- on Friday we would paint Jack's room a nice light blue color, versatile enough for the soon-to-be combined Jack/Samantha room. Let the rules begin:

1) She decides, after breakfast on Friday, to launch into an all-out assault on what she views as a messy kitchen. I like this choice -- it is less distracting and time-consuming than some of the other random projects she might've started. It's done in an hour and we head upstairs to get started on the real project.

2) Scope expansion. We started with the idea of painting Jack/Samantha's room.
-- Then, while we're at it, let's paint the baby's room too.
-- Well, how can you paint the rooms but not the closets? Add two closets to the tasklist.
-- This means we must empty every single item out of both bedrooms and both closets. It all goes to our master bedroom.
-- Those baseboards/trim/door are too dark with the eggshell color... she'd like them to be pure white. Add those to the list.
-- Oops, the white latex paint doesn't really work on the eggshell trim. Turns out that the current coat is oil-based paint, which means we have to sandpaper every square inch of baseboard/trim/door before it will take the latex paint. Add sanding to the list, plus another trip back to Home Depot to buy more supplies.
-- While the rooms are empty, might as well clean the carpets, right? Jamie leaves to rent a dry cleaning machine.

3) The project took almost three full days, but we did end up with two very nice bedrooms for our three kids to enjoy. And Jamie's parents worked tirelessly to assist us during much of the three-day weekend. Now that it's over, I have to admit I like the way things look. Although if you say the word "paint" in my presence, I may involutarily go kung fu on your skull.

Random Philosophy

I haven't written a word about the deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett or Billy Mays. Guess I was holding out for the passing of a real celebrity, such as one of our current-day gladiators. Enter Steve "Air" McNair, former NFL quarterback shot dead a few days ago while hanging out with his 20yo mistress.

The news seems full of shocked people exclaiming that Mr. McNair was such a standup guy, a real community leader, a great husband and loving father to four sons... and they couldn't believe he'd be hanging out with a pot-smoking girl half his age.

I'm shocked that people are shocked. Not because I'm some sort of cynicist about McNair or about athletes in general. But because I think I'm a realist about people. All of us. We're complicated creatures, with infinitely-interesting stories of how we've become who we are. And infinitely complicated stories of where we might be headed.

Everybody has a dark side. Everybody has secrets. Every boy scout leader, priest, teacher, preacher, volunteer, innocent-seeming teenager... none of us are 100% what we claim to be or what we show the world. Even me. So I'm not shocked when these types of things get discovered. Usually this type of news brings sympathy out of me, realizing that fame, fortune and extramarital sex are powerful forces that can lure anyone out of relationships that they may not value fully until it's too late.

Everybody also has a light side. Everybody has potential. Every gang member, death row inmate, dropout, slacker, hater, liar... none of us are 100% what we claim to be or what we show the world. Even me. So don't be shocked if one day you meet one of these people who surprises you with unexpected goodness. Usually this type of news brings sympathy out of me, realizing that the difference between me and a criminal has less to do with my character, and more to do with my circumstance.

I hope each of us has a safe place to be fully ourselves, both light and dark.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Carlin's first half of 2009

My daily desk calendar for the office this year is a George Carlin one. Every day I get to read a new quote/joke/rant of his. Here are some of my favorites after six months:

You keep hearing that society's greatest tasks are educating people and getting them jobs. That's great. Two things people hate to do: go to school and go to work.

How can it be a spy satellite if they announce on television that it's a spy satellite?

President Bush declared a National Day of Prayer for Peace. This was some time after he had carefully arranged and started the war.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the only way you could die was that suddenly your head blew up? If there were no other causes of death? Everyone died the same way? Sooner or later, without warning, your head simply exploded? You know what I think? I think people would get used to it.

Don't you get tired of celebrities who explain their charity work by saying they feel they have to "give something back". I don't feel that way. I didn't take nothin'. You can search my house; I didn't take a thing. Everything I got, I worked for, and it was given to me freely. I also paid taxes on it. Late! I paid late. But I paid.

No one, repeat, no one is interested in athletes who can sing or play musical instruments. We already have people to perform these tasks. They're called singers and musicians, and, at last count, it would seem we have quite enough of them. The fact that someone with an IQ triple his age has mastered a few simple chords is unimportant and of monumental disinterest. Play ball!

No matter how you care to define it, I do not identify with the local group. Planet, species, race, nation, state, religion, party, union, club, association, neighborhood improvement committee; I have no interest in any of it. I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.

Talk about wrong priorities. We live in a country that has a National Spelling Bee. We actually give prizes for spelling! But when's the last time you heard about a thinking bee? Or a reasoning bee? Maybe an ethics bee? Never.

A deaf-mute carrying two large suitcases has rendered himself speechless.

They try to blame movies and TV for violence in this country. What a load of #$%#. Long before there were movies and television, Americans killed millions of Indians, enslaved millions of blacks, slaughtered 700,000 of each other in a family feud, and attained the highest murder rate in history. Don't blame Sylvester Stallone. We brought these horrifying genes with us from Europe, and then we gave them our own special twist. American know-how!

I grew up in New York City and lived there until I was thirty. At that time, I decided I'd had enough of life in a dynamic, sophisticated city, so I moved to Los Angeles. Actually, I moved there because of the time difference. I was behind in my work, and wanted to pick up the extra three hours. Technically, for the last thirty years I've been living in my own past.

If all our national holidays were observed on Wednesdays, we might conceivably wind up with nine-day weekends.