Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A time to mourn 

Here's my obligatory tsunami post. I feel stupid writing it, as it's not going to help a single soul who's suffering from this, but if I based my actions on whether they were truly helpful or not, I'd be living my life a lot differently.

Anyway, I was thinking how slowly this disaster has impressed itself on my mind. I first heard of it in church on Sunday morning, when someone prayed for the earthquake victims in Indonesia. I didn't give it much further thought after that, being preoccupied with church politics and the family's continuing Christmas activities. Monday, I started to think more about it all, as I returned to the real world and heard some news broadcasts. I think it was then that I realized that I had aquaintances in the area--I know a missionary family who are serving in India and one of the children we sponsor through Compassion International lives in Thailand. I offered up special prayers for them, and realized that that was the extent of what I could do for them for the time being. Tuesday, I listened to some more news and did a few searches to get some more info on the places that were hit. The news was finally starting to sink in as I felt a bit of depression and concern for all of the victims. Today, I finally started thinking and shot of an e-mail to the family in India and made a contribution for the relief efforts. (Slacktivist had a link to a list of aid agencies. Brillaint idea. Think I'll steal it.)(Of course, I'll assume that the idea of contributing to relief efforts has already occurred to y'all, so I won't nag you about it.)

Today was also a day to ponder the reactions to this crisis. On Monday and Tuesday, Democracy Now! did a good job of covering the event, even though it was apolitical. Of course, they did try and bring global warming into the conversation, but that didn't work too well. (Note to Amy: Earthquakes happen underground. Global warming is mostly an air thing. The only way it affects disasters like this would be if it melted the ice caps and made more water availbale for the tsunami.) I missed most of the broadcasat today, but I think they started to hit on the more political reactions to the disaster. I know that Slacktivist, Pax Nortona and their respective commentors definitely took the Bush administration to task for their response. I would have joined in the chorus, but I also read Sherri's post on the matter and was reminded that my own generosity is nothing to brag about. But in the end, you have to remember that even though the drama is dying down, the disaster endures. There's always a chance to pray another prayer, give a little more, shed another tear or share a bit of hope.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A mystery revealed 

I think we solved the Case of the Phantom Aroma. Noodles mentioned that the odor was starting to smell more like a sewer than decaying meat. I checked the drain pipe that was running down from the kitchen sink and discovered a bunch of rust at one of the joints. In fact, my poking at the rust with a screwdriver seemed to increase the aroma. (great...) So this morning we called our friends at Southwest Plumbing and by the time I left for work, they were replacing pipes. So hopefully we'll be able to enjoy our basement once again. Well, Noodles and the kids anyway. I'll be working overtime to pay for the plumbing bill. sigh....

Monday, December 27, 2004

On the 2nd day of Christmas 

One of the holiday staples that bugs me is when commercials encourage the listener to buy something for themselves. I mean, sure, commercialism is already running amok, but at least it's rationalized with a spirit of giving. When you start tempting shoppers to buy for themselves, it just strikes me as wrong.

Of course, that's just a big load of hypocracy, because shopping for ourselves is just what we did yesterday. Well, actually, it was just one item. One of Noodles' passions is celebrating Christmas and one of the essentials of her celebration is holiday specials. She's purchased her favorites on video and this year, in the spirit of upgrading, she requested DVD replacements for all of her Christmas tapes. That worked quite well, except that she didn't get specific with her request for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She wanted the cartoon, she got the movie. No problem, we'll just go out and pick up the cartoon at the after Christmas sales. So on our way out to dinner (that's our 2nd Christmnas Day tradition--take Noodles out to the restaurant of her choice, even though her sister did most of the Christmas Day cooking) we swung by Silver Platters. Oops, lots of Christmas DVDs, no animated Grinch. Then we stopped at Borders. Out of stock. Then we hit Azteca. We're hungry and the stupid video can wait. Then we run (well, maybe waddle) to Target. They don't even have any Christmas vids on the shelf. Except Elf. We decide to swing by Fred Meyer because Poodlepums saw a copy there a few weeks back. On the way we start discussing our options if we strike out there. Call around local stores? Order from Amazon? Search E-bay? The issue is up in the air when we get to Freddies. Again, nothing Christmasy but Elf. I don't know what unique qualities Elf has to make it last longer than the other holiday vids, but there it is. (I'm assuming it's a distribution thing, because I find it hard to believe that the department stores managed to sell off all their Christmas vids while the vid stores didn't.) Noodles is about to give in for the night when I suggest we make one last stop at the Blockbuster across the parking lot. Frabjous Day! Thay have a single copy! We purchase it and I leave the store feeling odd that they haven't told me when it's due. Oh, well. Noodles is happy. I'm happy. Poodles is happy. And Bunnah is concerned because there is an extra vid (Horton Hears a Who) on the DVD and we didn't want that one. We assure her that we didn't have an option to exclude that one and we really don't have to watch it.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

And so that was Christmas... 

'Tis the night after Christmas, and all through the house
Everyone is still stirring. I'm working the mouse.

Okay, so actually it's a trackball. Anyway, the Christmas celebration was relatively uneventful: church, presents, more church, sleep, more church, dinner, more presents, singing, dessert, dishes and a long drive home featuring Christmas music and Christmas lights. (There's a little neighborhood off of 1st Avenue South in Federal Way that really goes all out with the holiday lights.) The only major differences this year was a child meltdown and that Poodlepums accompainied me to the late night service last night. The "midnight" service is a tradition from my side of the family that I've been stubbornly keeping. (Noodles stopped going after Poodlepums was one year old.) Since Dry Bones has never fielded a late night service in the years I've been attending, I've always resorted to visiting other churches. For the last four years, I've visited a small church in Columbia City--a church from the "other" Lutheran denomination in America. It's a stereotypical Scandinavian/German church with it's reserved politeness. I've never been overwhelmed with hospitality. This year, however, I must have had at least six people talk to me. I'm wondering if they had just finished a church growth seminar or if maybe they figured that if I'm bringing a kid along I must be okay to talk to. Anyway, it fit the bill for what I would consider a near perfect Christmas worship experience: a small crowd in a small space in the quiet darkness of Christmas Eve. Subdued lighting. Lots of music, lots of scripture, a bit of preaching. Not too fancy, yet maintaining the sense of a special celebration. And to my delight, Poodlepums enjoyed it too, so maybe I won't have to sacrifice the tradition when I'm too old to drive myself places.

Anyway life goes on, and tomorrow it's back to church, presents, food.... wait a minute....

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Christmas everybody! 

Glory to God in the highest!
And on Earth, peace, goodwill to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Review:The Princess Bride by William Goldman 

I've been scammed! Victimized by the same scam for years and years. It all started back in my high school days. I purchased a book called The Princess Bride. It was a highly entertaining tale about the most beautiful woman in the world, who loses but then regains her true love. It was purported to be an abridgment of a longer tale by one S. Morgenstern. The editor, William Goldman, told how he was first told the tale by his father, who had edited out pages of satire and in-jokes which made the adventure tale almost unreadable. As an adult, Mr. Goldman then endeavored to create a "good parts" version for the American public, complete with editorial comments and a long introduction about how and why he attempted this abridgement. As I said, I found the book highly entertaining and put it on my shelf. (Actually, I put everything on my shelf in those days, having yet to devlop the level of discernment and lack of shelf space required to remove the dross of one's library.) I reread the book a few times, but in the ensuing years I actually lost the sucker. Probably loaned it out to some long lost friend. Anyway, even without rereading the book, I fondly remembered it. A few months back, I thought that this would be a good book to share with my older daughter. That was when I discovered that it was missing. So I thought that I would keep my eyes peeled for a replacement copy. I eventually picked one up while Christmas shopping--the 25th anniversary edition no less, complete with extra commentary and the first chapter of the sequel. I read a bit over dinner and then firmly told my daughter not to read that book. (Jokingly, of course.) She waited almost a day before picking it up and then tore through it in an evening. (The child's reading ability makes me feel quite inadequate--and proud.) Rereading it after so many years was quite a trip. The story was just as entertaining, though I had a tendancy to visualize all of the characters as they were cast in the movie. (Fezzik was the one who caused the most trouble, as I also had a strong visual of him as a stereotypical, mustached Turk from the cover of my first copy of the book. He kept switching back and forth.) I was surprised, however, at the level of cynicism throughout the book. I hadn't noticed that so much in my earlier reads. To a small extent, I had regretted giving it to my impressionable young child. However, she seemed to have weathered Mr. Goldman's poison influence quite well. Although I should be troubled that instead of picking up the catch phrase "As you wish", she opted for "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." Oh, well. What can you do? So anyway, suffice it to say that I have once again purchased and enjoyed the book. And I'll be more likely to buy you your own copy than lend you mine.

What's that? The scam? Oh, yes. Well, suffice it to say that you can't believe everything you read.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Phantom Menace 

WARNING: You may not want to read this over lunch.
For the past couple of weeks, we've had to endure a mysterious aroma in our basement. Well, the odor itself isn't all that mysterious--it smells just like rotting meat. The mystery is the origin of this fragrance. We first noticed it by our clothes dryer and assumed that one of the mice that had invaded our adjacent crawl space had given up the ghost. However, when I finally got around to clearing out the space, I noticed that there was no smell inside. (Well, not decomposing mouse smell, anyway.) I then did a major, flashlight aided search in the nooks and crannies around the laundry area but all I turned up were dust and cobwebs. (I'm going to nominate my house as Seattle's number one web site.) I even pulled out the washer and dryer to check underneath for deceased rodents. Nada. I inspected (with my eyes and nose) the heating ducts and accessable parts of the furnace. Nope. Then I began to fear that the mouse (we're assuming mouse, mainly because of the crawlspace and because we can't bring ourselves to consider an ambulatory meat loaf) had somehow made it into the walls by the stairwell. So today (yesterday now) I pulled off one of the panels from the stairwell and was relieved to find nothing but the back of the kitchen wall. (I do not want to start tearing apart the house. I had enough trouble trying to disassemble a doorframe when we moved the piano in.) (They did durn good construction back in 1925.) Anyway, we are now at a total loss to explain what is stinking up that particular section of the basement. I suppose I could hit the newspaper archives to see if there were any mysterious deaths on the property. But if the smell is a haunting, why wait 11 years before bugging us?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dark musings 

Found out some gossip about one of my friends the other night. Not too much, since it stemmed from a conversation between Noodles and his wife and Noodles only gave me the basic outline of the situation. I'll give you even less: it was sexual in nature. More, you don't need to know. The reason I mention it is that this is just the latest of "revelations" we've had over the past couple of years of sexual tsuris brewing between some of our married friends. They've ranged from troublesome fantasies to full blown adultery and led to all levels of marital discord including a divorce.

My personal reaction to these revelations includes a mixture of emotions. Part of it is relief. I'm not immune to illicit fantasy and if you follow the standards of Jesus, who said that to look lustfully at a woman was the same as committing adultery with her, then I've been cheating on Noodles since before we were married. When I heard that these friends--guys who've I've looked to as good, upstanding individuals--also struggle with lust, I don't feel quite so sick and twisted. Another emotion I feel is fear, because if these can fall, what hope do I have? There's always that temptation to be just a little bit naughtier. To rent a movie that's a little more risqué, to check out a site that's a little more sexy, to be just a little more flirty. I know--when I think about it, anyway--that the high won't last, and the quest for a stronger rush will just lead me down a road I don't want to travel. Well, a part of me doesn't want to travel. Therein lies the problem. And then, swithcing emotions here, there's the sorrow and frustration of knowing that people you care about are suffering. I want to jump right in and help them fix things, but then realize that despite my affections, my relationships with them aren't deep enough to allow me to help them with such intimate issues. Assuming I could actually help instead of making things worse. And finally, to be brutally honest, there's the titillation of hearing some juicy gossip. What can I say? I can be a real jerk sometimes.

sigh. Okay, got that off my chest. Back to your regularly scheduled trivialities. (Wonder if I'll get a lot of Google hits on this post?)

Monday, December 20, 2004

Here we go again 

Just got to work and read an e-mail from our corporate head honcho telling us that Bloatmeal has just been bought out by another printing corporation. This, of course, is of great benefit to us and will help us to become a leader in the industry and serve our customers better and all that. I don't know who has it worse: my father, who worked for 31 years at the same company but then had the place shut down, or me who's spent 12 years at the same location but has worked for four different owners under three different company names. (I know, I know, we're both blessed to have had jobs. I'm just funnin'.) Makes me wish I'd listened to Unearthed Ruminator and made a new psuedonym for the company when we changed names a few months back. It would make things funnier if/when we assume the name of our new overlords in the coming year.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Here we come a'caroling 

Well, Dry Bones Lutheran Church had their annual Christmas caroling last night. It was a typical Bones' kind of night. The tradition has been that we go carol to those who wouldn't normally hear our delightful voices in church--our shut-in members or families where only one of the members attends church. A number of years back, our then-pastor knew somebody at the Beacon Tower, the Seattle Housing Authority's site in our neighborhood, and we had gone caroling there for whatever neighbors cared to come listen. This year, the ladies co-ordinating the caroling thought it would be nice to sing there again. Not having any personal connection at the Tower, it took some effort to secure permission to sing there. But they did and they sent some flyers to the contact person, so that the latter could post them and announce the event. ...you know where this is going, don't you?

Saturday evening arrives. We load up our group--about 23 of us--and caravan over to the Tower. We go to the front door and find no one waiting to let us in. (It's a secure building, so only authorized people can enter... or at least hold the door open.) Fortunately, we do have one member who resides at the Tower, so we ring her up and she buzzes us in. We go to the common room and, of course, it's empty. The carolers are here but there are no carolees. We send one person up to our member's room, to see if she would be interested in being caroled at. In the meantime we shrug and say, what the heck, let's sing. (That's what made it a Dry Bones kind of night--we've gotten quite good at adapting to unfavorable circumstances.) We belt out a few tunes, but the hoped for miracle--dozens of residents racing to the common room with tears of joy streaming down their faces--didn't occur. Well, we did get one lady who was wandering by on her way to get her laundry. She sat down for a song, then decided to go fetch her friend. We sing another tune in her absence and manage to waylay another listener. (Actually, he grabbed a booklet and joined in.) Eventually we managed to snag an audience of six including the fetched friend and one deaf woman. (And God provided there, too, as a couple of our group knew the sign language movements to one song. Not a Christmas tune, but it worked.) We had a good time, they appeared to have had a good time, and we even helped brighten the evening for our first carolee, who had just buried her fourth and final child this last year and was feeling quite depressed this season.

The rest of the evening was less eventful. We caroled for one of our members and her husband and then strolled down a few blocks in the neighborhood before arriving at "Grandpa's" house for some shmoozing and noshing. A fun evening all around.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Worst. Present. Ever. 

What can be worse than forgetting your anniversary? How about forgetting your anniversary and scheduling a dental appointment for you and your spouse? Fortunately my wife is very forgiving. (That, and we have over six months to reschedule....)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

When they were young 

Noodles has said that whenever she comes up with a significant insight into the universe, she can find a book where someone has already investigated the matter and has explained it better than she could. Well, tonight I had a similar experience. Ever since I've discovered census records, I had the idea in the back of my mind to try to look up some famous people. Of course, I never had the time for such frivolity--the only non-relatives I've ever looked up are the folks who owned our house back in 1930. Anyway, I discovered that someone has already done the research for me. While poking around on Cyndi's List, I discovered that one Michael John Neill has created an online collection of Census Images of the Rich and Famous. It was lot's of fun to wander through: To watch Laura Ingalls Wilder grow up, to see Curly Howard of Three Stooges fame as a shipping clerk, to discover that the White House gets its own page in the census. (At least it did in 1930.) Of course, the best part was discovering where Santa Claus hung his hat during the spring months. Check it out.

Passing it on 

I seem to be taking out my nostalgia on my daughter. I gave Poodlepums a copy of Mad-Libs for her birthday and she's getting into it just as much as I did back in the day. Then yesterday I picked up a copy of The Princess Bride (I somehow lost the one I had bought all those years ago) and strongly hinted that she should read it. (She was going to start it this evening, so we'll see if she reacts like William Goldman's son* and bails on it or if she'll devour it and spend the rest of the month drawing pictures of Buttercup and Westley.) I suppose I'll have to give Bunnah some equal time and buy her some comics.....
* an in joke referring to the introduction to the book. What? You've only seen the movie? Go out and get the book right now!
Update: No drawings this morning. Instead I was greeted with "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Such a sweet child, to latch onto my favorite character. (Of course, she also showed me up by reading the entire book last night...)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Tube musings 

This weekend was a rather full one, nicely balanced between relaxation and activity. (Well, a good chunk of the latter was shopping, but I guess that's on the chore list this time of year.) Yesterday, I finally managed to watch the last episode of the first season of Farscape. It was a great episode, and I was slightly frustrated that there was no one to talk to about it. Back in high school, I could always hang out with the guys and discuss the latest comic book or episode of Dr. Who. ****** Ach! Noodles needed to use the computer! I tell, you, the woman has no respect, interrupting me in mid-blog. I've noticed that she never interrupts me when I'm doing the dishes or taking out the trash.... well, I guess it's pretty hard to inetrrupt someone in mid-trash. I mean, it's not like it takes all that long. She'd also either have to chase me out the door or run out the front door and around the house to catch me in mid-trash. Very impractical..... Where was I? Oh, yeah. Discussing episodinc entertainment. Anyway, it's easy to discuss such things when everyone's on the same page. However, experiencing something on your own--such as a book that no one else has read or a TV episode that aired five years ago--leaves little opportunity for mutual raving. Ah, well. At least I don't have to wait all summer to see what happens next.

Another thought that occurred to me is that in all my years of TV viewership, I've probably watched more reruns that first run shows. I was raised on the old sitcom reruns that ran in the afternoon and before bedtime. (For you younger kids, this was back before deregulation and cable and infomercials. WGN was a haven of old programming and I loved every minute of it.) And after a brief stint as an evening couch potato in the 70's, I retreated to my adolescent sanctum and filled my mind with science fiction novels and rock n roll radio. Then came young adulthood, and marriage, which lend themselves to activities other than watching prime time TV, and finally I spent most of the 90's and 00's working second shift. The only shows that tempted me to set my VCR were various Star Trek series, and I even took a break from them for a couple of years. I wonder if I'm odd in that respect (watching a surplus of reruns, not skipping Star Trek) or if most people would fall on the rerun side of the poll.

If I was a good writer, I'd write something interesting to tie this all up and make a point. But then, if I was a good writer, I'd probably be charging you to read this.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Count your blessings (instead of sheep) 

I was reading an Advent devotional today--lots of folks send out devotionals for Advent and I can't help but read them--and came across yet another devotion touching on the holiday rush. That does seem to be a regular subject in these times. For some reason it struck me as odd, however. I thought of older hymns--musical devotions, if you will--from my religious tradition. There are plenty recalling God's help with or asking His deliverance from such serious problems as plagues, famine or war. But for some reason we don't sing those much any more. The car bombs aren't going off in our streets. Our children aren't being orphaned by AIDS in record numbers. We may be lacking tomatoes on our burgers these days, but there are plenty of other condiments to pile on. Compared to the way things could be, we are extremely blessed. Bemoaning holiday stress seems so lame in comparison. But faith can be threatened by prosperity as much as adversity, so I suppose I shouldn't be too critical. Guess I'll pray for strength to endure the holidays and add a prayer for those who are really hurting this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Oh, yeah 

Almost forgot: Happy Hanukkah!

grumble, grumble 

This should've been my Weblogger Meetup report, but we got dumped on at work. I was actually heading towards the timeclock in order to punch out to lunch when I was asked to copy some files and then found out that we had six new jobs that needed to be finished tonight. grumph! I suppose in a couple of months, when those beverage ads are up all over the place, I'll feel that it all was worth it.... no I won't.

In addition to endless variations of beverage ads, I also had a blast from the past--a brochure built in PageMaker 6.5. (The PC version of PM 6.5, but PM 6.5 nonetheless.) I can't remember the last time I worked on a PageMaker job. I could feel the dust being shaken off the neural pathways as I tried to rember how to work things. Despite the annoyance of having to work on the PC, I have to say I enjoyed the job. The variety of applications used in the department really has become a thing of the past. I wonder how many other shops have been swallowed up by the Adobe monster?

I'm going home now....

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Where's the food? 

One holiday celebration down. Today we celebrated Poodlepums' birthday. Her Grandma and Auntie came up for church, then dinner, cake and presents. Then later in the afternoon we went out to Trinity Lutheran College to catch their annual Advent Festival Concert. Finally we returned home for supper and to wash a big pile of dishes. (Actually, Grandma and Auntie departed before that last event, mostly because our kitchen only fits two comfortably.)

The concert was the most interesting part of the day. Attending has become a tradition for us and we've enjoyed a number of performances over the years. This year, I think I came with an attitude, as there was a new director and some remodeling done to the chapel. I was wondering if things could be as good as they used to be. Overall, I would say that they were, though the discussion over supper was somewhat nitpicky. Some of the changes were welcome, others were not. But they were all changes, dolgarnit, and that makes us old folks cranky. The children, of course, had no such complaints and Poodles spent the evening singing the songs and Bunnah used her sister's new music stand to pretend that she was a choir director. Once again the elders miss the wisdom of the young.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


We got our first property tax bill today. Well, technically it was a past due notice. Apparently King County sends off one tax bill in February with payment slips due at the end of April and October. Since we were still mortgage owers back then, the escrow company got the bill and we never saw it. I was half expecting some sort of screw up in this area. But the weird thing is that on one part of the paperwork it said that there would be no penalty charges if it was paid by December 27, on another, it said that there would be a penalty assessed if the envelope was postmarked after October 31st. Go figure. I went ahead and sent off the check. If I get charged, I'll consider it the cost of my homeowner's education.

Paying the bill gave me a somewhat odd feeling. When I've made out the mortgage payment in the past, I've never felt resentful or anything. But with the property taxes--even though it was not that much more than a mortgage payment--I was grumbling. I'm thinking that when I was paying the mortgage, my subconscious was thinking "house" instead of all the different expenses that made up that payment. "House" is a good, warm, fuzzy type thing... except when you need to fix something. But the property tax bill listed all the various taxing agencies: city tax, school tax, county tax, SWM tax. (I was going to protest and point out that I haven't been a single white male for years, but then I saw it stood for Surface Water Management.) Essentially, "governement". "Government" isn't a concept that inspires the warm fuzzies. Oh, well. Guess I better get used to it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Where the heck did all this busy-ness come from? I want a day off.
(If I assigned topics to my posts, this would be filed under "whining.")
(I think I might have a lot of posts filed under "whining".)
(I'll have to investigate that... when I get the time.)