Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Teach your children well 

Ya know, you try to raise your kids right, try to protect them from bad influences and what happens? They get weird anyway. One of Poodlepums' latest fads is to make tapes. She hauls out the tape recorder and either makes music or talks on it. I used to do the same thing when I was her age. Some friends and I would play records and pretend to be disk-jockeys, or do TV show parodies as radio plays. Now with Poodles, who has limited media access, she tends to make up her own shtick. Sometimes she cons me or Bunnah into helping, but the majority of the material is pure Poodles. Anyway, the family was out taking a walk today and as we were heading towards the homestead, I notice that Poodlepums is quoting, verbatim, one of the "routines" we did on a tape. I was trying to be gruff with her for talking at me--a situation where she takes charge of a conversation and turns it into a monologue--but this was so weird I had to start laughing. Or maybe I was chuckling at my own material. Anyway, I've decided that things are going to change. She's going to have to switch to a daily three hour minimum for TV viewing. And we definitely need to get her into some drama class....

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Looking back 

I filled out my class reunion reply form this weekend. Well, when I say "my" I mean my form, not my class. The reunion itself is actually for the class of '79. But they kindly invited the classes of '74 through '81 to join the party. Why this is, I don't know. Maybe it's because we all went to a small school and they thought that if they invited other classes, they would have to pony up less beer money. Or maybe they just think we're a wonderful group of people. I don't know. I also don't know why they decided to stop with '81. (The class of '74 was the first class to graduate from good ol' VLHS) I should pull out my yearbook and see if there were any bozos in the class of '82....

Oh, yeah, I should get to the point, weak as it is. (Don't you hate it when bloggers start writing just to have a post instead of waiting until they have something substantial to say?) I filled out my little form and one of the questions was titled "Highlights of the past 25 years." I started jotting down events and once I got past the standard graduation-marriage-kids-starting a weblog, I realized that my highlights were pretty trivial. I mean, sure it was great to get an inflatable Godzilla for my brithday in '86, but I haven't inflated it in years. Not really a spectacular event. But then I thought, why the heck do you have to have a bunch of spectacular events in your life? On the list, I had described my first post-graduation job as "discovering the real world." That's really how I'd like to describe my life. There's always something new around the corner. It may be a life-shaking event, or merely an afternoon's diversion. Whatever it is, I'm curious and can't wait to see it.

Monday, March 29, 2004


Feh. Saturday night I was telling a friend how great Blogger worked with my ancient Mac. Sunday night the silly thing crashed twice and I got a double post. I know, it's probably the browser. But still, never trust your computer....

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Review: Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons 

I've really got to stop reading Noodles' books. All they do is confuse me. Well, now that I think about it, some of my own books confuse me as well. But I digress. Odd Girl Out is about bullying amoung grade school age girls. That's not a subject which really touches me directly, never having been a girl nor oppressed by bullying. And if either of my daughters had been bullied in their relatively fleeting contacts with their peers, they never told me about it. (Trust me, I would hear about it. They never leave me alone.) Anyway, I had seen enough bullying in my life to be interested in the subject and since it was lying about the house anyway... well, I decided to have a read. Like the feminine mind itself (to indulge in stereotype), it was quite alien to me. As Ms. Simmons described the culture and mindset of the middle class girls of whom she was writing I felt like I was reading a science fiction novel. She writes about girls who are being socialized to be nice and quiet and gentle, and thereby have no legitimate outlet for their feelings of anger, ambition or independence. To cope, she reasons, girls have developed subtle ways of dealing with these negative feelings. She calls these alternative aggressions--teasings, shunnings and manipulations which escape the notice of teachers and parents. And schoolboys, too, I think. I know that when I was in school, I had no clue all this was going on! (Well, except in eighth grade when Lynn got dumped on so bad she transferred out. It was hard to miss that one.) As the book went on and the case stories were related, I just had to shake my head both in disapproval of the evil of which those children were capable and in disbelief that the victims didn't just haul off and slug their antagonists. (But of course, it's always easy to give advice about problems one never has had to face.) At one point, I had to ask Noodles (my resident expert on things girlish) if this was really true to life, or if this was a case of stringing together some exceptional horror stories to try and prove a point. She assured me that it absolutely fit in with her experiences and it was very helpful to her to know that the tsuris she endured was not unique. She also agreed with Ms. Simmons assessment as to why this bullying occurs. So I went back to the book, reading in a spirit of amazement. But, alas, that spirit didn't last. Eventually, Ms. Simmons presented a chapter on working class girls whom she interviewed--girls who have been raised to take care of and speak up for themselves. No alternative agressions there! To me, it illustrated that this phenomenon is less an inherent problem of being a girl than it is of the social structures in which they are placed. This made it harder for me to accept her suggestions for solutions. She didn't suggest any changes to the institutions of school or middle class society, but rather made suggestions as to how teachers might be made more aware of the existence and signs of alternative aggressions and how parents might be more supportive of their daughters who face this crap. Not bad ideas, really (though I have hard time accepting parenting tips from a childless twenty-something and a bunch of schoolgirls she's interviewed), but it seems like it really only addresses the symptoms of the problem. Noodles' solution, of course, was to recommit to homeschooling our girls. I must admit that it does work. But you can't expect our society as a whole to do that. (That was sarcasm, in case your web browser isn't set up to recognize the <sarcasm> tag.) Anyway, this was a very interesting read, y'all might want to check out.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Ask and ye shall receive 

An update on Monday's folk music query. I had added the links on impulse at the last minute and so the link to the Peter, Paul & Mary site was simply culled via a Goggle search. Well, they have their own message board and yesterday I decided to post my question about Republican folk singers there. based on the responses I got, I guess the answer is that right wing folk music is called "Country & Western." (Both kinds!) Of course, as one guy put it, "folk music is a much wider genre including many styles of music from every culture and country."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Movin' on up 

I've got the mixed blessing of an upgrade on my work computer--the latest Mac OS X software, Quark 6 and the Adobe CS Suite. I am quite pleased to have my labels back (an OS 9 function that Apple had managed to lose when they first introduced OS X), but otherwise am more annoyed about all the little changes they made. Of course, I'll get used to things, as I have in the past, but I get tired of having to change the way I work because some yahoos in California decided to change the software. I suppose I'll eventually break down and upgrade my copy of QuicKeys. Anyway, as for the other new apps, I haven't had a chance to play with them yet. I'm looking forward to using Quark 6, but with the Adobe products, there's always a 50-50 chance that they've screwed something up. Ah, well, such are the burdens of a Mac dude....

Monday, March 22, 2004

The answer, my friend, is...? 

I had a double-shot of folk music last night.. First the KBCS program The Old Country featured folk singer John McCutcheon. And then later I flipped on the TV and saw a special about Peter, Paul & Mary. Both shows featured some good, ol' stereotypical folksong material and it got me to thinking: Are there any Republican folk singers? If so, what do they sing about?

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sunday night blues 

As I'm heading around the bend to the finish of another weekend, I'm feeling rather dissatisfied. It's not like I haven't accomplished anything--I had a church council meeting today and put in a half shift of overtime yesterday. I ran errands to pick up groceries and books for Bunnah's lessons this week. True, I did blow off the protest because of some of these other tasks, but I did shoot off an e-mail to President Bush telling him I was against war in general and the Iraq war in particular. (I also asked him not to do it again.) I indulged Poodle-pums in a recording session and listened attentively to Noodles hold forth on her latest read. (A book about girl bullying. I started reading it myself--it's like a science fiction novel about this alien species with an alien culture. But Noodles assures me it is credible.) I even have indulged myself by buying some comics and having dinner at Skipper's last night. So why am I blue? Why is accomplishing the trifling tasks of life so unfulfilling? Would it be more satisfying if this were Friday rather than Sunday night? Am I just expecting too much from life? Do I need more lycopene in my diet? Maybe I'll never know....

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Satellite radio 

Oh, yeah, here's another radio advertising oddity:
Last week I was hearing this ad against satellite radio. It was getting somewhat heavy rotation on a couple of stations. Basically it was a bunch of voices--disgruntled satellite radio customers--blamming about the shortcomings of satellite radio. You know, horrible things like having to pay for programming and equipment, lack of censorship, no local traffic reports, the fact that you lose the signal when you drive under an overpass. (Gee, anyone remember AM?) Then an announcer comes on and encourages people not to switch to satellite radio. He also tells us that this message was brought to us by our local broadcast radio stations. Anyway, that was last week. This week, I haven't heard the spot once. In my spare moments I racked my brain (well, maybe more like comfy chaired my brain) for a reason for it's sudden disappearance. Some possibilities:

-The radio stations changed their minds.
-The radio stations got some paying advertisers for those slots.
-Too many people pointed out that the local stations running the ad are owned by a company in Pennsylvania.
-Too many people pointed out that the disgruntled customers sound like a bunch of whiners.
-The radio stations realized that many people probably signed up for satellite radio because it offered something broadcast radio didn't.
-The radio stations realized that some of their listeners (like me) hadn't even heard about satellite radio until they started running their spots.

(One other note: in researching this post, I discovered that one channel offered via satellite radio is the Playboy channel. Now maybe I'm just too visually oriented, but what the heck does Playboy have to offer me over the radio?)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


I just heard an ad on the radio talking about the "band that was changing the world". That band being the one and only Fleetwood Mac. This I don't understand. What exactly did they change?

Oh, woeful web 

My brain hurts. I've been getting too geeked about my genealogy research the past few days, staying up way too late with Google searches and perusing the U.S. GenWeb pages. In one sense it's been worth it. Last night, or I should say early this morning, I found the cemetary and death dates of my great-great-grandparents. And then later this morn I got a response to a web query that provided the names and 1870 census info for my great-great-great-grandparents. Anybody who does research knows how giddy I was feeling. Of course, I still don't know which ancestor, if any, was Onondaga--the holy grail of my research--so I will face the temptation to stay up late once again. Or maybe I'll find the strength to go home on time for a change and greet the next morn and my family with a refreshed spirit and smile instead of a pained grimace. (That would be wise--we're running low on aspirin.)

Sunday, March 14, 2004

What to do.... 

To march or not to march, that is the question. There's a anti-war march and rally this Saturday, (see www.mar20th.org for details.) and I'm debating whether or not to join in. On one hand, I am against my government's current attitude towards military action and want to voice my opinion against that. (Even if it would only be symbolic.) On the other hand, I'm wondering if it would be worth the time. I mean, I have no burning need to hear Ed Asner speak, nor do I need to gather with fellow peaceniks. It also seems somewhat silly to protest the war after the fact. Still, George W. hasn't announced any new plowshare programs, so a demonstration isn't as unwarranted as it once might have been. (A whole 'nother debate there...) Guess we'll see what happens. If nothing else, it's a blog entry...

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Workplace Update 

I should report a couple of work updates. Yesterday, it was announced that the company is not moving for a year or so, though our building has been sold. I know no details as this was announced at a company-wide meeting which was held before I got to work. We second shift employees, I guess, don't rate a meeting. (grumble, whine) It was a bit of a disappointment for me, but it is good news for most of my co-workers. I'm certainly not losing anything in the deal.

Then this morning, the union held a meeting regarding our contract. I thought it was supposed to be the final, this is the best we could negotiate, take it or leave it, vote on the contract meeting. But I was wrong--it was just a meeting called by the negotiating committee to see where the rank and file are at so they can return to negotiations on March 22nd. As I reported before, the company wants it all. Preferably, on a silver platter. I was mildly surprised that the rank and file are pretty much in agreement in rejecting any overtime concessions. Most of the folks put in more overtime than I and I guess I had stereotyped them as being money hungry. Instead, they are really just dedicated folks who are willing to do what it takes to get the job done. How much management realizes it, I don't know. The local management undoubtedly knows it. The higher-ups in L.A. and New York probably don't. And I'm sure our customers couldn't care less, as long as they get a price break. Something's wrong here....

Anyway, hearing about some of the contributions the others have made for the cause makes me feel a bit guilty. I'll probably end up putting in more than my usual amout of O.T. because of this meeting. .... Well, for a day or two anyway....

Friday, March 12, 2004

Oh Wonderful Web 

Ah, what a great time in which to live. Last night I was able to gaze upon a picture of the ship that brought my grandmother to these United States. I am so thankful for the Ellis Island website for putting the picture and Grandma's immigration info on the web. I'm thankful to Adobe Systems for inventing the PDF format which changed our workflows so I have periods of time when my computer is working and I'm waiting. And I thank Apple Computer for finally bringing multitasking to their OS so I can surf the web whilst my computer is chomping data. (Of course, living in these times also means I can probably look forward to e-mails asking me to donate to some Ellis Island fund, but that's another post.) ;-)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I heard it on the radio 

The other day when i was driving into work, I heard a radio ad for Loma Linda University's Proton cancer treatment. I wouldn't have noted it except that usually when I hear the word "proton" in a radio ad, it's for a product that promises to "keep you and your partner rocking all night long." (I don't know about you, but I think Noodles would get cranky if I tried to keep her up all night long...) Of course, I then had to wonder if the two were related. Does heightened libido cure cancer? Or does it just give one an incentive to endure chemo? Anyway, it just goes to show that I should either stick to NPR or switch channels when the commercials come on.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Almost forgot... 

I know the hype for The Passion has passed, but I did want to mention a survey of Jesus movies over at Cornerstone online. It really caught my interest as a former film student and someone with an armchair interest in sociology.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Reduce, reuse, remember 

Well, I did my bit for Ma Earth today. I was packing up my 2003 financial records and disposing of their 1995 counterparts. As I sorted through the papers, picking out the papers with blank sides that could be used for future scribblings, I was given a quick tour down memory lane. Ah, 1995. The year Noodles broke the window on the church van. The year we were burgled and got some unexpected equipment upgrades from Allstate. (And bought the motion sensor lights.) (And paid the electrician to come and install them properly.) The year we bought our tape deck and then exchanged it for one that worked properly. Bloatmeal was still issuing their own paychecks back then. And we were still trying to use up all those Art Wolfe checks we had ordered back in '92 at our Rainier Beach apartment. (Honest, I had forgot about that second box and thought we were about to run out.) Bunnah had yet to start the paper trail of her life, even though I recall that was the year we started on our adoption adventure. Ah, yes. Some jobs come with pleasant fringe benefits.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

With this ring.... 

I suppose I should write something about the gay marriage issue. I mean, it's been in all the papers and I have been thinking about it. The problem is, I'm still kind of torn on the issue. On one hand, my religion tells me that sex between folks of like gender is wrong. I couldn't explain the logic behind it like I could for, say, extramarital sex, but since Biblical morality has proved reliable to date, I'm inclined to trust its judgment on this one. Also, since I believe the Bible is ultimately from an all-knowing, all-wise and all-loving God, it stands to reason that Biblical morality would be beneficial for all people, Christian or otherwise. On the other hand, I don't believe that God calls His people to enforce Biblical morality on a non-Christian community. Speak up for it, sure. Maybe even vote for it if confronted with such a choice. But in the end, I feel that the church needs to respect people's God given free will. Plus there's the fact that the Bible has no gender prohibitions about the other aspects of marriage. (Leviticus may read like an insurance policy, but trust me, coverage for dependents isn't mentioned once.)

What has really been filling my thoughts though, as I listen to people state their opinions on this issue, are some of the basic concepts on which this issue rests. The concepts of marriage and the separation of church and state are two of the big ones. Folks argue their opinions on gay marriage assuming that the audience is in agreement on these base issues. For example, in a letter posted on the neighborhood list-serve, one of my neighbors was arguing about the state's interest in promoting families. He made a point to clarify that "this is not about kids." In another essay I read on the web, the author says that the only reason the state has an interest in families is because of the kids--the future of our society. Well, guys, which is it? And what is marriage, for that matter, that it should be either granted or denied to same gender couples? I can come up with my own answer, based on my own observations and experiences, but since I'm a religious man (well, I try to be, anyway...), my definition of marriage will include my religious beliefs. If I tried to, ah, divorce God from my marriage, would I still recognize it as the relationship I know as marriage? So how could I divorce religion from my definition of marriage, as I must do to find consensus with my non-religious neighbors? Methinks that this controversy illustrates a much deeper divide amongst the people of this country.

Ah, but such musings are naught but castles in the air. Like litlnemo said on Slumberland, the events in San Francisco are like the Berlin Wall coming down. Despite legal challenges and calls for constitutional amendments, I think that same gender marriage rights will become the law of the land. And it will be a little harder for conservative Christians to kid themselves that the U.S. is truly "one nation under God."

Friday, March 05, 2004

Review: The Purpose Driven® Life 

As threatened, here's my Purpose Driven® post:

Like any other social group, the Christian church is susceptible to fads. Nor am I immune to their influence. I like to kid myself that I'm not influenced by my fellow lemmings, but the truth is that if something grabs the attention of my peers, it will grab mine as well, whether I join the crowd or run the other way. One of the latest fads to invade my world is Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven® Life. It started back in '02 when my church sent me and others to a seminar on Rev. Warren's The Purpose Driven Church. The others then caught the Rick Warren bug--I gave my copy of Church to the church library and went on to other books. But then I started hearing about this Purpose Driven Life from other corners. It was being read by other churches in my denomination, friends back in Illinois, friends in an impoverished city in Peru. Now and then I would encounter someone who had never heard of the thing, but those folks seemed to be the exception. Finally, my own congregation made the book a focus of our worship this Lent. I was offended by that step (a rant I won't unleash here) but since I work evenings, I really didn't have cause to complain. Instead I could refuse to participate without having to publicly refuse to participate. I did figure, however, that I should read the flershugginer book so I could speak with some knowledge if the topic came up over coffee and cookies. So I got in the long line at the library and finally got to read this "life changing" "masterpiece" that made the New York Times best seller list.

The subtitle of the book is "What on Earth am I here for?" My response to the book is "What on Earth is the fuss all about?" Unlike Church, which was better than my expectations, Life left me seriously underwhelmed. As I started reading it, I was seriously confused as to why people raved about this book. Having now had time to finish the book and think about it, I think the problem probably boils down to the fact that I didn't fit into Rev. Warren's target audience.

First off, I went through the "What am I here for?" angst a few years back. My "career" had lost its appeal and I didn't have the luxury to stop providing for the family and change careers. I wrestled with some issues and found some equilibrium which has endured through the last few years. (though I still whine about work.) Life seems to be geared towards those running around in five different directions at once and looking for meaning in it all. Me, I'm only running in three directions and have a vague idea of why I'm doing all this. So, Rev. Warren was essentially delivering old news.

The second way I didn't jibe with Rev. Warren is that I'm somewhat scholarly--at least compared to other community college grads. Rev. Warren's scholarship in this book is sloppy and the writing is somewhat simplistic. For example, in the introduction he tries to sell you on the book and his suggestion to read a chapter a day for the next 40 days. He mentions all of the examples of 40 day periods in the Bible. Unfortunately, he touts these as life-changing events and not all of them were. Sure it rained 40 days in the great flood, but Noah's life transformation also included the 300+ days afterward riding the flood waters and the century of preparation beforehand. Why couldn't he just say, "I like the number forty, so that's the way I wrote it, and that's the way I want you to read it"? There are similar errors and assumptions in the book which I noticed simply since it conflicted with knowledge floating around in my head. I have to wonder what one might discover if they took the time to fully document the book.

My final conflict with Rev. Warren is that he comes across as a salesman. I don't trust salesmen. There is many a recommendation for other resources in The Purpose Driven® Life: The Purpose Driven® Church, The Purpose Driven® Life Journal, The Purpose Driven® Life Video Curriculum, Purpose Driven® Seminars. Notice a pattern? It makes me wonder about the state of The Purpose Driven® Bank Account. I mean how much stuff do you need? The book boils down to this: God created you for a purpose and that your purpose is to worship God, live in fellowship with other Christians, stop sinning, serve other people and tell other people that Jesus died for them so their sins could be forgiven. How many products do you need to state that? I just said it in (one, two, three...) forty words. Hey! Is that a sign from God? Hmmm.

Anyway, as I write this, I realize that I really didn't care for the book, even though there are bits of good advice included in there. I suppose I should rate it as waiting room material rather than garbage for that saving grace. If you do feel like reading it, I recommend that you don't buy the book. Or at least wait a few years when, I predict, you'll be able to find many copies of this book on the shelves of your local thrift store.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Don't forget to write 

Ah, so much to say, so little time in which to type it. 'Tis just as well--most of it would probably come out as tedious or ill-informed. I did type up a review of The Purpose Driven® Life which I shall format for this forum soon. Most of you probably won't care, but I'm inclined to proclaim my opinions on it since I've had to hear so many people praising it to me. Oh, and I should probably pass on the good news: Mama-san is in the penthouse again, as the spot on Hamburger Dad's kidney is merely a cyst and his lymph nodes are cancer free. One lesson in communication to be learned: the cancer doctor mentioned to Mama-san that they wouldn't bother with chemotherapy because of my Dad's age. She thought he meant that they weren't going to treat him because of his age. (What? 71 is not old!)(At least not as old as it was 20 years ago...) What he actually meant was that they would normally give chemo to younger patients in an attempt to prevent a recurrence in say 30 years or so, but for my dad, they wouldn't bother. Of course, I wouldn't complain if he hung around past age 100....