21 Grams

"They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death. Everyone. And how much fits into 21 grams? How much is lost? When do we lose 21 grams? How much goes with them? How much is gained? How much is gained? 21 grams, the weight of a stack of five nickels, the weight of a humming bird, a chocolate bar. How much did 21 grams weigh?"

This movie was A+ in some aspects and didn't even earn a letter grade in others. If you like a movie that bounces around incessantly, almost seemingly trying to confuse you (but in an artsy way), you'll love it. Kind of in a Memento way but that's an insult to Memento. Anyway, I'm not going to even dignify this with a synopsis.

If you've seen other Focus films and you liked them (ahh yes, that trendy piece by Bill Murray...), give this the time of day. If you like Del Toro and Penn, its worth it for the acting.

Otherwise its a pretty depressing work of decent filmography that does a good job of making you feel like you're really there viewing a very disturbing turn of events.

The Village

First off, M. Night Shyamalan is a genius. Secondly, even the brightest of us make our mistakes (I digress...). I'm still trying to figure out if M. did that here.

It was a good movie, if only for the fact that it accomplished what I expected of it: it successfully had me intensely frightened a couple times. I love that feeling. I really wish he could have done it a little more before continuing with the story, but he had a movie to make. He tried to do a weak sort of encore fright-session late in the plot that didn't quite do it for me (you could figure it out at that point).

Ok, so no spoilers for the synopsis here. Just the basics. You get quickly led to the perception that your somewhere in the northeastern Midwest (can you say Pennysylvannyia?) in the later half of the 1800's. Small village surrounded by PA type forestry. "They" are out there in the forest. Apparently no one in the village can get out to the rest of the world without getting killed or taken or whatever by "them." Boy meets girl, blah blah blah, and before you know it, "them" is causing trouble. In the meantime, a strange sub-plot is developing, all along, of these "elder" folk (right from the beginning, actually - M does a good job of lacing very subtle hints early on). Long story short, someone needs some medicine, and through a series of twists, someone goes to get the medicine. Ok this "not giving spoilers" garbage isn't working. I'm just going to give up right here.

Through most of the movie, I liked the twists we were taken on. Pretty good flick. I think M could have re-written the last 1/4 or so of the movie to make it a lot better. I don't know how (that's M's job), but it left something to be desired, in the end. But it was a good movie, and it was directed by a person who has "Night" for one of their names. And that's cool.

I'll see it again, not in the theater, but I like his stuff, and I like being scared.

That is all. I have to wake up in 4 hours.


This one needed more time to think through. M. raised some good issues with his movie, and while I've churned through at least a couple of them, I don't find any of them easy to set forth. I believe one of the characters in the film actually spoke to one of the issues, saying something about how you can run from sorrow, but it will always find you. Insulation, let's call that one. At least 2 others would be the necessity of sacrifice, and the whole "love-can-inspire-the-extraordinary" bit.

I think M. had some things to say here, and said them. The movie went where it needed to go, to that end. It was well done, over all. And its the first good flick that I've seen in quite a while that wasn't rife with unpleasant (and most times unnecessary) material. For that, I'm giving it a 7 and a half.



Arright. You think you're cool. Guess what, you're not. I have a friend, who if you google her name, the first thing that comes up is her thumbnail pic and short biography, published by her firm. I firmly believe that the coolness factor here is split 50-50: both she and her firm are just that cool. If you can ever google my name, and get the same thing (assuming I'm not whoring myself to said firm), I will officially, un-humbly, call myself "cool." Until then, you'll just have to settle for the cold, hard fact that I am really, really ridiculously good-looking.


The Governator

Quote from a republican-bashing comedy event, sponsored by the National Journal's daily political newsletter, held in Boston last night. (courtesy of today's OJ)

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a frequent target, and our favorite joke of the night was a dark, bipartisan barb from Will Durst, who described the California governor's marriage to Maria Shriver as "phase one in a genetic experiment to breed a bulletproof Kennedy."

Dark indeed, but too accurate to not be funny.



Who am I voting for?

Let's just say I plan to register with the Party party.

Update: Now I'm conflicted. I think the best case scenario would be if Crosby and Nash selected Chris as their running mate. Or vice versa. (I have to be honest and mention that I stumbled upon Chris months ago, but had forgotten about him until I heard he was in Beantown, representing).


Good times.

As promised, the only living room in West Chester with a racing stripe on the carpet. Too clean.

Also perhaps one of the coolest living rooms in PA, or anywhere, for that matter. Yes, you are jealous. We all are. Enough ceiling space to stage a massive air battle of model bombers and fighters of the early 40's. You could really do a number up there. Surprised they haven't thought of that.

Bah, the weekend synopsis I never got around to. It was a good weekend, although I am apparently loathe to admit it. It really was. Despite no fishing, and the A's taking a beating Texas-style. Had fun doing the running around, had fun trip-blogging, had fun at the party, had a good time with the guys after everyone left, had a good time at 10th Ave Presby in the morning and then had a nice, peaceful, on-time ride back home on the trains. Got to read the Times, and there were actually one or two articles that didn't in some way end up explaining why John Kerry is the thinking man's choice for office (apparently the thinking man needs this concept drilled into his head, over and over, for about 100 pages). Back in time for church. Pleasant smile.

I enjoy 311 and being there, although my record may not suggest it. Its nice, and I shall miss it, for what it is, when it is no more. For me, at least, its more than an infrastructure. Its a place in time. And that's saying something, for a guy who doesn't wear watches.



One more trip around the sun

I share this day with George Bernard Shaw, Carl Jung, Pearl Buck, Aldous Huxley, Stanley Kubrick, and Mick Big-Lips Jagger, to name a few.

I don't really have much to say. I don't know how I feel. Yeah.

Brought this quote up in conversation over a great breakfast on Saturday (I love it when a competent waitress does a good job, although I was sparked to the quote while watching a very handy window washer - we were sitting outside):

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

And since we're letting better men speak, I think Steinbeck would best sum me up today. The first one I've always liked, and the second I've kept around for a few years in mild anticipation of the day I would really identify with it.

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.


Do you realize that I am twenty-six now? I don't. I don't feel twenty-six and I don't look that old, and I have done nothing to justify my years. Yet I don't regret the years. I have enjoyed them after a fashion. My sufferings have not been great nor have my pleasures been violent.


The Bourne Supremacy

Overall: Good flick, not as good as the first one, but a decent action-packed joyride.

Synopsis: (Be warned, I am not afraid to write spoilers, so if you want to see the movie with virgin purity of mind, click away from this page). Some Russian oil tycoon who once was involved with the CIA sends his assassin punk to kill Jason, as he has just framed Jason in a massive cover-up he just staged in Berlin. Jason is living happily on the beach with his newly hippized girlfriend. Assassin snipes her in the back of the head as they're trying to escape via vehicle. Bourne goes on quasi-revenge rampage. He's really a good guy at heart so he doesn't even end up killing the assassin when he finally has him pinned in his car in an auto wreck. Instead, he uncovers the whole plot, exposes the guy who was the over-boss at the CIA (from the first movie, the guy who forced the Treadstone project leader to shut it down) as a crook, and does some benign flirting with the new CIA spook who happens to be a good looking late-30's babe. Why he's not interested in the Julia Stiles character is beyond me. I sure am.

Its shot in that edgy mod-Euro movie feel (see: BI, also The Saint), but like the first one, doesn't go overboard with it (see: Ronin). The one really good hand-to-hand combat scene is shot too close to take it all in, for instance. Basically, make sure you don't sit too close to the screen for this one. And don't see it if you're an epileptic.

Live from Philadelphia

Ok - West Chester. Close enough for me.

A few firsts. First blog from someone else's abode. First blog from Pennysylvanyia. First blog on an apple. I feel...ugh. Like I'm trendy, but its only contrived...? I don't feel right.

Of course this weekend just doesn't feel right. No offense, anyone. I just think I should have gone fishing. Would have been more the norm for this time of year. I was tricked. I often am. That will lessen as the years pass and they couple off.

Went for the late night walk I was looking so forward to in quiet suburbia and found that this town isn't what I had remembered. I guess maybe last time I was out for an evening constitutional in this town I had the impression that it was indeed 'sleepy,' perhaps because it may have been a Sunday evening or something of the sort. Perhaps not. I don't recall. So I ended up in a sports bar of sorts and watched the Rangers finish bonking the A's on the head with a monkey wrench. Ow. And that's the one team ahead of us in our division. Double ow.

(pause for trip to Sam's Club)

I have returned. We spent far to little time at Sam's Club. I suppose if I was a member and regular visitor it wouldn't be so novel for me, but as we breezed through, I got no chance to peruse the miscellaneous golf clubs, gel pens by the thousand-pack, cammo cargo shorts, and multimedia entertainment artifacts. Not to mention the cheese wheels. We didn't even have any samples of anything.

There are no Sam's clubs in Singleville. Nobody there needs 40 plastic tumblers, or a case of 12 fresh bunches of Asparagus, or enough toothpaste to outlive them. What would be the point? They would be wasting money. Also they generally wouldn't have the space for such marvels as a 12 gallon bucket of Sunflower seeds.

Then WaWa for cash and a sandwich. What a stupid name for a gas station. Also the natural foods store for food for a party (show? I don't know...) attendee this evening who has the sad inability to eat normal, unhealthy food.

Side note: a lot of the promises I made a while back are on indefinite hold. Ok, all of them are. I keep going out of town on the weekends, randomly. Next weekend is the beach. It was really nice last time.

Side note 2: If you're ever going to take the train from NY Penn Station to anywhere around Philly, just don't. Rent and drive.

Backtrack and spiral in to total disorganization: Sailing did not happen on Friday, as we were rained out. Tony, Matt, and I saw The Bourne Supremacy. See post to follow, shortly. Going to start writing informal reviews as their own posts. We will begin categorizing. But not too much. Rain dated for next Friday afternoon.

Also, picked up the drawing pencil again, for the first time in years. Doing a...sailboat. Yes, original. What can I say, I was inspired. Drawing water correctly is next to impossible. Maybe I can scan the pieces for blog posting.

In a few hours there will be a couple acoustic sets from a couple bands, here in the massive conclaves of Apt.311. After moving the furniture around as a matter of setup, I vacuumed the living room carpet meticulously, so as to give it a racing stripe to the right side when I finished. Picture to come. Left the upload cable at home. Just as well, wouldn't want to defile my camera by attaching it to this piece of sublime evil.

So now we're pretty much prepared. I'll probably go for a run, then shower and we'll have dinner I suppose before the masses arrive. Brec better not have been lying to me about having duties for me to perform during the party/show/thing. I want to be unnoticed and busy, even if it means assembling and disassembling a toaster, multiple times, blindfolded. I want to have something to focus on. I took the harrowing trip down here in order to help, not to see the show (again, no offense). To be useful. Men are like dogs in this manner. We like to help. Please throw the ball again I want to chase I do I do I will get it for you over and over please throw it now thank you very much.

Wow, just pulled a netflix out of the envelope on Brec's desk. Just to kind of check and see what she might be watching. Bottle Rocket. Very impressed. Next envelope please. David Mamet's attempt at a Mob movie (not a Mob movie, but at least a Mamet flick). Mamet is gold to her. We all have our own problems, I guess. I like some Mamet but I don't think he's the bee's knees. The third one was some 70's flick called Murder by Death. I'll give that one a thumbs up just for the name. I would link to the last 2 movies but that's an incredibly annoying task, seeing as this is a mac, and it takes about twice as long to open a new window and copy and paste and write html as it does on a NORMAL COMPUTER.

Go here to build your own, like I did. Post links faster. Enjoy life more. (Have the peace of mind that the Feds don't have on file what types of computers you own and how many and for what).


The True Church

(Article I wrote for the church newsletter)

When I mention the word “church,” the first thing that comes to mind for many people is a group of people, in a church-looking building, at a church service.  They may envision a somber, gloomy silence, or perhaps a dancing, singing, jubilant bunch.  But the point is, they think of a group, gathered together, doing their own thing.
I know people think this, because I used to think the same thing when I heard the term.  In the last few years, however, I’ve come to redefine the term in my mind.  Church, for me, has become more than “church,” in a sense.  It has become my friends, my community, my family of believers.  And it has become the very work I am doing with my family to carry out the Christian mission in the world.
That said, I find it is far too easy to forget that the church isn’t somewhere I should go exclusively to benefit myself, or even just to build up other church members.  While these goals are not entirely wrong, they are not the true church.  The true church exists to tell others about Jesus Christ.  After all, it was Jesus himself who said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  And how better to tell others about Christ than by showing them Christ, much as he showed himself to the sick and needy. 
Thus the true church is a place of work.  A place of struggle – as C.S. Lewis put it in his book, Mere Christianity, “…Christianity is a fighting religion.”  And what is it that we are working, striving, even fighting for?  To put it simply: the justice of God.
Justice can be a tough concept to deal with – it is a word that brings many hard and fast associations to mind.  We often hear the word used in the sense of “bringing someone to justice.”  We may think of it as a measure to be exacted upon those who have committed wrongs, but there is another, completely different facet of justice.
Justice also must be brought upon those who have suffered injustice – the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick and needy.  Justice seeks to right the wrongs in our world, not just by punishment of wrongdoers, but also by the blessing of those harmed by injustice. 
“There can be no true friendship with God apart from zeal for the justice of God, no real relationship with God without a corresponding commitment to work for the well-being of others,” said Paul Wadell, in his book, Becoming Friends.
Justice, much like the term “church,” can be a term that is very easy to turn inward, to think of in relation to ourselves, but that clearly is not what God’s justice is about.  His is an outward-focused principle – one based on seeing others righted, even if it must be at a cost to ourselves.  This is what Christ did for us – He worked to see us made right with the Father, at the ultimate cost to Himself.
We can’t claim the name of Christ without fighting for God’s justice in the world.  Wadell continues: “Friends are people who see the same truth and who are committed to the same goals and purposes.  Therefore, anyone who claims friendship with God risks embracing the mission and ministry of God.  As the Scriptures make clear, it is foremost a mission and ministry of justice.”
We, as a church, have our common goal set before us.  If we are to be true to our name as Christians, we must embrace a mission of justice.  We must embrace the cost to ourselves that truly serving others brings. 

This means going beyond the pew.  It means a cost, be it to our time, our energy, or our wallets.  It means taking on the burdens of others, that their loads might be easier, even as ours gets heavier.  And in so doing this, we show others the way to the One who can offer the only burden that is light. 

When I speak to people about church, I hope that I can communicate this idea of a working body.  Not one working for itself, but for others.  Yes, a group of believers, meeting in a church on Sundays to worship - but that is just the beginning.

I love marketing

Thought of something on the treadmill last night, and automatically filed it in the "blog this" folder. Slammed the drawer shut and continued running. Hit another 3 mi.s in 24 mins. tonight. Satisfactory, considering I struggled through one, eased through 2, and mentally fought through 3.

Gatorade ads.

These things power me on. I see them on the treadmill and they put me in the zone. That's what running is for me - finding the zone. When you get there, everything else evaporates. Its like a cheap shortcut to really good meditation. You don't have to do the mental work, you just physically exhaust yourself to the point that your brain can only focus on one thing. Anyway, the Gatorade ads do it for me. You see the fierceness in the face of the swimmer gasping for a breath, the bright orange sweat drop from the goalie's eyebrow, the neon blue blood flowing from the bent-over-runner's knee...what have you. Its when you look the athlete in the eye, that's what does it. The intensity makes me feel like I could run forever. The Mia Hamm one sticks out.

But its not just Gatorade. In fact, their ads, of late have been rather lackluster. Still enough for me to find the zone, but even Nike has been beating them out lately. See Lance Armstrong. Download the player if you have to. Its the coolest ad since the Volkswagen driving at night one, if not the best ad ever. Buy a 10 pack of yellow wrist bands. Help people with cancer. Its a disease you don't get by choice - like MS. Put your money into the ones that people don't get because of something they decided. I'm firm on this.

Some other fun ads here (PGH hat tip), here, and one of the coolest ads ever, here.


keep. it. together.

I don't have time to be blogging right now.  Everything has been one big crazy mess since I walked in the door today, in more ways then one.  I'm on hold for a meeting with a VP from another area who is mentoring myself and 2 others as we are presenting our respective businesses to our individual SVP's over the course of the fall.  Pre-season, mid-season, and post-season presentations.  So we need someone to tell us what the hell we are doing.  For it is hell.  Or at least on the doorstep.  I've become convinced that retail is about the second furthest separation from God after hell.  Its like our address is 665, we're just across the street and a bit closer.

I have to be prudent on what I write on here as it regards work.  Despite my earlier jests, its just the nature of the beast.  Otherwise I'd go into a torrent so bad that it would rival the class 5s of the mighty rivers westward.  Oh I could, right now.  I could, so good.  Its just a bad situation I've been handed, and I don't like it, and people walk around "wondering" why I appear unhappy.  I just smile and respond as blithely as I can manage that everything is just fine.  I don't know why they expect me to honestly bitch about things when they are dishonestly wondering.  Its all rather insulting.

I am still working on it.  I'm too smart to keep running into walls like this.  Right?

Last night was the 2nd Qtr. review of our annual goals with the men's accountability group.  Some guys did ok, some guys not so much.  Let's just say I'm not one of the guys with a kid on the way or one just arrived.  I'm on track for my scripture memorization goal, closing in on my reading and prayer goals, and my big challenge is to attack the paperwork nightmare over the next couple weeks so that I can bring that one back into line.  That's just a few of the goals, but overall, I'm taking a 7 out of 10 for my half-year point.  Respectable, with room to work.

And I'm back up to 3 miles in 24 minutes on the tread.  Looking for 4 in 32 tonight.  Cha, right.  Maybe by next week.  I'll get in shape sooner or later.

Friday is a day off from work, but I can't quite say what for at the moment.  Perhaps I'll post a picture of it later.  For right now we'll call it a calming-my-nerves day off.  Then that evening I'll meet up with Grace at Penn Station to hop a NJ Transit train for Trenton, on to Philly, on to Exton, where one of the girls of Apt. 311 will pick us up.  Grace's idea was that we travel together but each stay absorbed in our own affairs (read: books), and that's why I like Grace.  So I get to see what the girls have done with the place.  Saturday morning I owe Brec a breakfast so there will be that and a clean conscience.  Saturday I want to finally devote some time to my most recent blog promises - basically learning more html and blog-related knowledge, maybe even some CSS.  That evening Gretz (Al's boyfriend, and Al is one of the 3 girls of A311) has an acoustic concert of sorts at the Apt.  Its pretty much the biggest Apt. I've ever seen, so having a band and 50 people there probably won't be a huge issue. 

That night I will walk.  I like small, quaint towns.  I especially enjoy walking in them late at night when I can't sleep.  Which is most of the time.  I don't sleep very much anymore.  More later, perhaps.

Sunday we will church in Philly, then Grace and I will train back up.  Likely as aloof as the way down.  Which isn't altogether a good thing, I suppose.  Whatever.

I love that word.

Gotta run.  Meetings.


The air is better out there

The only reason I'm working a desk job is for the money. That's it. Yeah, its where God has me for right now, have to see the calling in it, et cetera...but when I'm completely honest with myself, if I didn't have the Debt, I'd be in Colorado, working enough construction in the off-season to ensure a solid 180+ days on the mountain come winter. Season passes, extra pairs of boots, nights out in resort towns. I'd have to work hard in the heat, but it would all be worth it when the leaves started falling and you could smell the snow coming. Maybe I could even find something better than construction - ranching, or window-washing the Denver high-rises, or something. Something outside, that's for sure. An old 4x4, a dog - maybe 2, Van Morrison on the stereo, wide open skies, and the Rockies always making you look up to find the western horizon. Yeah. Even the off seasons would be good. Guitar on hot summer nights.

I'd feel much more secure in that being a calling. Until the knees gave way and I returned to a desk. I hope I can make it happen someday. I'm working on the long term budget. Cut some expenses, shorten the schedule. That's the general idea.

Friday I actually got out halfway through the afternoon, George and I got some Q and saw I, Robot. I liked the flick. Its sci-fi on a level that's not too hard to imagine in the near future, which is enjoyable, and the plot had some interesting premises - raised some good questions.

Had a fun exchange just before the previews started. I was on my phone while everyone was still talking in the theater (the big stadium one for new releases) - leaving a message for Morris. In the middle of my message, a girl from the theater walks in and asks for everyone's attention - she was collecting for the Jimmy Fund or something of the sort. Before 2 words get out of her mouth, long before I had a chance to quickly wrap up my voice-mail, a guy in front of us turns around and yells at me, loud enough for everyone in the vicinity to hear:

"Do you mind??? She's trying to talk!"

(semi-stunned pause, followed by quick end to voice-mail message)

"Uhh...the movie hasn't started yet, Pal."

"The woman is trying to talk! Shut up!"

(at this point, no disrespect to the girl, I'm pissed at this guy, and he's not getting off the hook)

"I paid to get in here, Bud, and until the movie starts, you can mind your own business."

"And I'm on the job, so either cool it or I'll have you escorted out of the theater."


Everyone was looking at us at this point, I had called his bluff with no delay. He looked around, then turned and sat quietly with his 2 kids.

Cue George: "On the job...That's our tax dollars hard at work, right there."


Went to the gym, watched half of The Last Samurai with C&M, then went with some of the guys to help Carey move some furniture up into her apartment, at 10 at night. Not your average day.

Saturday was fun! Driving range, where roomie and I learned that our friend Iain is a very, very good golfer. Also, there were groundhogs about 40 yards out, and after 15-20 tries, I succeeded in connecting with one. About half swing on my pitching wedge. On to the beach! Ocean Grove, NJ. Fun town, owned by the Methodists (yes, you read it right), beaches not too crowded.

A long run on the boardwalk, some bodysurfing / floating, lots of volleyball. Late in the afternoon, driving rain moves in and escorts everyone off of the beach, leaving it to myself, which was nice. Dinner courtesy of some friends whose parents have a small beach house, which is right down the block from the amphitheater (used on Sundays for church). Third Day was awesome, as usual. One of the roomie's friends is a good friend of Mac Powell, so we ALMOST got to meet the band. Just missed them. ARGH. Next time. Next time. I had the sharpie in my pocket, ready to rock. Camera strapped on. argh.

Today I slept in and lounged. Church this evening, then Pizza with Titus and Cregan and the roomie.

Commence the nightly battle to fall asleep.

Emma and me - goofin around backstage at the Third Day concert.


Small bladders, perhaps?

Some not-so-comforting reading for your Friday afternoon.  (click on the title of this post) (Hat tip Opinion Journal)

Update: Lileks reviews the article briefly here.  He then goes into another assessment of nuclear possibilities (about halfway down).  He did this a Couple months ago, too, and it was dead on.  And it still is.  The world will change.  I just hope I'm not close enough to watch the action.

More plans. And other things. Besides plans.

I want to be a ridiculously successful blogger someday.  I want to be paying S-tracking ridiculous amounts of money to track my scores, nay, enraptured masses of readers who check in daily for the latest offering of whatever it is that I'm putting up at that point. 
(The air conditioning just shut down for the evening here at work and they typing on the keyboard just got astoundingly louder.)
Maybe it will be political, maybe artsy (doubt it), maybe I'll be famous in some other venue and the bloggership will be the core fans.  I want to link to cool stuff and cool people that will make the readers think I must be extra cool for finding this stuff before they did.  I want to be on the cutting edge, wherever that is.  Not one of the people who are just getting there when it starts to tear more than it does cut.  I want to have cool software designed just for blog publishing, host it from my home, have a massive server.  Post sound files, host my own pictures, have years and years of drivelous archives.  And I want it all to be good stuff.
And I want a roll of $100 bills and something young and blond (and Calvinistic and with a razor sense of humor and about a million other qualifications).  Point is, most of these things will probably remain in the wants category.  But that's ok.
I just broke the 6pm rule I've been pretty good at keeping here.  Trying to leave before 6pm, if only for a couple weeks in the middle of the summer.  Because Fall is coming (you can't stop it, I already tried), and that means I'll be working ridiculous hours again, weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and generally hating life (as opposed to the rest of the year, when I only hate work, because I can reasonably contain it).  In four years since college, I still have disdainfully abstained from actually figuring out what I make per hour.  I know it will make me cry if I ever do.  Or freak out and start destroying walls and stuff. 
Haha, just kidding, FDS admin in Cincinnati, who is reading my blog to see what I've been doing with my time at work.  Here's a hint, buddy - I've been working my arse off, which hasn't been easy, because it has grown quite beyond where it should be since I spend most of my life in this chair instead of out there, doing active stuff, out in the real world.  Note the time this post published at, if you don't believe me.  Then kick yourself when you realize I could easily change the html that would tell you what time I wrote it at, and there's no way to tell what was actually published from work or not.  Haha.
Excerpts from an email I wrote to a friend this afternoon, wherein I wrote some stuff that I meant to blog anyway:
"...despite the total insipidity (there's your non-mississippi 4-i word for the day) of this place, i find in me an almost incredible work-ethic this week, so i've found no time to do anything beyond the job at this point..."

This post of course changes that, just a little bit.  Tomorrow will, by nature, be horrible, work-wise, and I'll lose another one of the cherished Friday-afternoons-off-that-we-like-to-think-we-have-but-don't-really-take.

"...i've been single for over 4 years...i'm not saying i feel bad about it, i'm fine with it. its just a totally different state of being than most people are in. kind of something i have to get out there before people can understand me. like being from Russia or something. i have to explain that i'm from Russia, so its ok not to understand me..."

but if you're going to understand me, you're going to have to understand Russia first. 
"...except its different. people think they can understand you, because its not like a language barrier or geographical divide. but at the end of the day, you're from a different state of being, and you know they only think they understand..."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not making the rather ignorant jump to say I know what it feels like to be a Russian in America (though I have been an American in Mexico, which helps, kind of).  I'm speculating.  Point of it is, I've come to realize that we live in a world of couples.  People couple, that's what they do.  If you don't couple, you slowly become more and more abnormal.  Not in the bad sense of the word, necessarily (although I suppose that is very often the case).  But think about it - how many older, very cool people do you know who have always been single? 
And I don't have to jump or speculate or suppose in any manner to know that couples live in a different world with a different language.  Your life totally changes once you've been coupled off.  I probably have no idea what an understatement that is, I'm sure.  I don't pretend to know their language because I've never been to the State of Couplehood, I've only kind of taken some day-hikes near its borders to get a view.  Strangely, people from that State seem to think that they can communicate quite effectively with people from the Single Nation, because they once used to live there, too (albeit many of them only briefly as adults, if at all).  And, they are sometimes accurate, I grant.  But they don't live here anymore.  They don't drink Single coffee while reading the Daily Singleville Post.  They don't drive in the Singles-only lane and see the Single billboards on their way to Singlecorp.  And they don't come home at night to a Single-bedroom apartment and watch Singlevision.  They live in another world.  And they very often lose their vernacular.  Because they are normal.
None of this is bad, being single, being coupled (normalcy is relative and dependent).  It can all be good, in the right context.  That's the hard neutral that many people, coupled or single, can't seem to find, quite often.  Many coupled people, deep down, feel there's something wrong with not being coupled.  So do many single people.  I'd guess the next largest group would be those singles who don't (at their core) feel it odd to not be coupled, followed last by couples of the same persuasion.  The last two may be swapped, I don't know.
I just hope that someday, if I have been coupled, that I remember this and have some respect for the 2 nations, especially those on the other side of the divide.  I hope I don't forget, and lose my ability to communicate effectively.
There is not some subtle Single-National-Pride going on here.  Heck, I've already made the concession that I may change nationalities some day.  I'm just calling em how I see em.
So this was all supposed to be about plans, and i got off on a Single subject I wasn't intending to type nearly so much about.  I figured that last time I declared some plans, I felt a great weight to live up to them, a debt to my bloggership.  So I hereby declare:
- an updated template (the promise we didn't live up to after the last election, or something)
- an alternate photoblog, or something.  our short, torrid affair with imagestation has come to a bitter, weeping end.  I tried to work things out but she wrote us a dear john letter.  Want to find some good hosting that I can just link pictures here to.  Maybe I won't actually come up with this, I'll just host them on my home comp and insert them in posts, without links.  We'll see.
- a list (linked page, more likely) of historical and planned reads, also something of similar nature for music and movies.
- other miscellaneous improvements.
- or none of the above.  It may not happen.  I don't owe you anything.  Its not like we're Coupled.


Bark twice if you're in Milwaukee

The boss called off again today. Another funeral. That's at least his 3rd in the last few months, that I know of. I've been trying to think of creative ways to express compassion, especially given the nature of our working relationship, but I've got nothing. In some sense, I know that's alright. Death isn't the way things were supposed to be. People will talk about the corpse, how it looks so "good" or "peaceful," - but it doesn't. It looks dead. It looks unnatural. If you can realize that it isn't the way things are supposed to be, you can start to understand how they should have been, and how they will be someday. Therein lies the hope that allows you to cope with the concept of death. The difficult part is finding the right way to communicate that.


Weekend synopsis:
Meet Texican, go home, then dinner at one of the 208 Chinese joints on Washington St. Spiderman 2 at the corporately dinky Hoboken theater. First time there, won't be returning soon unless there's another major motion picture that I want to see but am suspicious that it might not meet expectations. Like Spiderman 2 (I was right).
Saturday we had lunch with the roomie, then she left to shop with the girls in the city, Matt (from hence to be referred to as George) and I went to see Anchorman. If you like laughing and being happy, see this movie. Still giggling. Saturday night was George's informal moving-in party which actually took place at one of the 862 bars in Hoboken since his roommate was sick. His roommate showed up at the bar. Looking sick.
Sunday I went to the morning west side service for the first time. I caught a ride with C&M which of course meant missing the whole first half of the service. Texican was there, then we picked up her pals and headed to the Cloisters, for lunch and walking in the park. Definitely my favorite place on the island of Manhattan. Sunday evening church, then a farewell party for a friend moving back to Cleveland, held in C&M's back-yard. There was much Bocce.

Week looks to be uneventful. Will continue to work on the leave-the-office-before-6 objective. Saturday is Ocean Grove for the Third Day concert. First beach trip this year. Yay.

Ooh and I picked up new books for the stack today. Its going to be much too big too soon, so I'll have to pick up the reading pace. Haven't read, but am looking forward to:

Have read, need to re-add to library as they are MIA:

I am now chronically addicted to B&N's next day delivery in Manhattan. They used effective mediums, in the right places, with a creative campaign that speaks directly to its core customer, to advertise the service. That's the neat part, they weren't even advertising their product, but an ancillary service they tack on to it. And I'm a complete (albeit cognizant) victim of said marketing.


Things left unsaid

I love Fridays in the summer. Amend - I like Friday afternoons in the summer. Since I've left college, I've worked in environments where the accommodations are made for a person to leave work early on Fridays between Memorial and Labor Day(s), or at least the accommodations could be easily made, if not already so done.

I haven't been golfing nearly so much as I should have this year, so far. (Pause to email Cregan and request the game he still owes me)

First political posting to rookie blog. It must be done. I have no delusions that our current president is the bee's knees, but seriously, is there even any question who we want in office as the war on terror continues? And continue it will, regardless of who is elected. Taranto made a great point in yesterday's Opinion Journal (first item) about American political system - it doesn't stop working just because a war is going on. To start:

On Sept. 11, 2001, America suffered the deadliest attack ever by a foreign enemy on its own soil. Fanatical Muslim terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, crashing two of them into the World Trade center and a third into the Pentagon. The trade center was destroyed, the Pentagon badly damaged. A fourth plane, which might have been bound for the Capitol, crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers. Some 3,000 people perished that day, and America has been at war ever since.

Nearly three years later, a presidential campaign is under way. One of the wonders of American democracy is that elections have always gone on as usual during wartime--even in 1864 during the Civil War and 1944 during World War II. The president has to defend his record to the voters even as he is fighting the country's enemies--and so it should be.

So, what is John Kerry's argument for turning President Bush and Vice President Cheney out of office and replacing them with Kerry and John Edwards? Here is what he had to say yesterday: "We've got better vision, better ideas, real plans. We've got a better sense of what's happening to America--and we've got better hair."

I don't care what your political association is, if you are conscious, and in America, you must realize that we're at war, and, if we're at war, and you're still conscious, and American, is this what you want from your commanding officer? "I just haven't had time" to be briefed on the national terror threats? What? (...be sure to follow the string on where Kerry went later that night to celebrate "real American values.")

Rest assured I'll be finding one of these free Friday afternoons before Labor Day to get to the DMV in Jersey City and get my NJ DL (still on my Cali one, believe it or not - representing the home state until 7.26.08 at this point). In plenty of time to register to vote. And I'm volunteering with the RNC when it gets here later this summer. I feel like such a good citizen.

(Cregan wants to leave at 4:30 AM on a Saturday or Sunday for a 6 AM tee time. I'm saying AM in BIG HUGE CAPITAL LETTERS but at the same time, being first to tee off is awwwwfully appealing.)

Matt called and wants to go to the Jack Johnson concert in Central Park in September. G Love is opening for him. This goes in the "like, duh" category. Sadly, ticket sales opened in May. Sold out. Even my usual second-hand ticket haunts yield precious little. The only thing I've found on the net is one ticket on ebay, at about a 200% markup. Hmm... well if anyone has any ideas, I'll gladly trade information on where to find a dearth of tickets to either Phil Collins, Jimmy Buffet, Michael Bolton with Kenny G, or Nora Jones, in September, in or around the NYC are. Heck I'll give you all that info, just for info on Jack.

Speaking of Matt, here's what he looks like. Almost as ridiculously good looking as me. (Click on it, I'm just proving to myself that I know the HTML to both link to it and post it in a post. Yeah, I'm bad.)

But of course you only see a white error message from imagestation. Its because you're not logged in to imagestation, and imagestation is dumb like that. Here, let me help you. Go here to see scrawny sum total of the canoe trip photos. Then come back to the post. Ah, now you see the picture link. Brilliant! (shout it like the guys on the Guinness ads)

Did I mention the Texan is in town this weekend? Well, now I did. We're getting dinner tonight. Hanging out tomorrow too, maybe? I don't really know. That's the point with her, you can't really know. Ha. I don't mind. Its just a totally different way of approaching life. Give me my rules and regimen, spiced with occasional faux spontaneity, and perhaps the quickly managed last-minute-plans from time to time. Last night I cleaned my room as she's staying at our place tonight. Its so...clean. I also established, from the many, my stack of books to be read in the next six months. Will be adding a section on that (as well as books previously read, perhaps even with commentary) when I figure out how I want it to look, and how to do it.

And I've graduated to Stoli recently. Its on a different level than Skyy or Abso. More spensive, but there it is. I won't be going to a higher vodka level anytime in the next decade, that's for sure.

And now its the middle of that Friday afternoon I so covet. Why won't the Texan call and let me know what the deal is, so that I can LEAVE? Ah well. A few more things to bang out here and then I'll review today's reading...

Happy weekend.


Head hits pillow

What a weekend. It was, going into it, one of those things that I tried not to get to excited about it, should it fail to materialize. But it did, and lo, I savored every minute. Plagued with the sleeplessness, which was surprising - usually able to leave that behind when I travel. But a fabulous weekend in spite.

Friday night Matt and Jeremy (now roomies), Ben (from my year at the grove, now lives in DC area), and myself all had dinner and then played much beer pong at Rogos. Highlight of the evening was Matt sending Jeremy up the stairs to look for the bathroom (that's where the kitchen was).

Saturday Matt and I drove to the Coffin's place in Fairfax. Church cook-out, much volleyball, good food, and a reading of the Declaration. Then to the high school for the fireworks. Fairfax puts on a Fire Works Show, be advised, despite my (unbeknownst to me) duplicative initial suspicions. Return to Coffin manor for beers and much sitting on the deck, enjoying the sticky warm air that you get when you build a city, strike that, an entire metro area, on a swamp.

Sunday was a fabulous worship service punctuated by a very thoughtful sermon on The Doctrine of Providence in Relationship to Our Calling (or at least that's the title I came away with). God seems to work through His mighty men in such a manner that they often preach to me on just what I needed to hear that very week. I still have questions. But I have a lot of good stuff to chew on. And so did the church, after the service, when they put on the best congregational dinner in a firehouse, ever. Unless they've had others, before I was there, in which case I am truly sad (selfishly).

That afternoon I obtained my new camera, which I plan to use in part to provide you with many illustrations of my ramblings. Perhaps. That evening was the beginning of Pastor Coffin's annual theology class for the youth of the church (Jr. High / High School age). Would have loved to be a fly on the wall there for the rest of the week, the first two hours were a great 90 mph ride through the first section of Packer's Concise Theology (take a look inside while you're there). Then Rebecca, Ryia, Grace, Tim, Allyson, Matt and I drove to Anna's place on Bolling AFB, where her family lives. Anna's dad is a higher-up in the AF - his first gig was back in the year I was born, flying B-52's out of Mather AFB back in Sactown. I spent most of my childhood years living directly under the beginning of that flight path. We watched the fireworks from the base side of the Potomac. Never realized the Mall was that long until I viewed it from the side like that. First photos on new camera were of the fireworks, none of which turned out well (see below, if you don't believe me). We've since read up, however, and plan to provide you with professional level shots next year. Sunday ended the same way Saturday did.

Morning brought the canoe trip. Our group was 22 boats on the river, which we had in large part to ourselves. Quite the pleasant day. Too bad the camera wasn't going on the water with me - such beautiful sights. Matt and Ryia in one boat and Anna and I in another brought up the rear of the group. The best part of the day was when it rained, hard, but briefly, as we floated along. My new Indian name is "Rows-with-a-mighty-arm" and we were guided through the seemingly impassable side-slips of the river wild by Princess "Sees-through-many-trees."

Then Matt and I drove back with Grace in tow, and here we are working again.

God is good, all the time.

Bombs bursting in air over DC.


What's your Priority?

(from my current read)

Communication is a crucial element in any intimate relationship--including a relationship with God. And communication always involves listening.

Jesus understood this. Nowhere do we see the importance of communication with the Father better illustrated than in the life of Christ. In fact, Jesus' time alone with the Father was His ultimate priority. It took priority over ministry, family, friends, even sleep. Jesus refused to allow the tyranny of the urgent or the expectations of others to shape His agenda and schedule. As strange as it may sound, He put His own spiritual welfare ahead of the spiritual and physical welfare of others. He knew He would be of no help to them otherwise.

Jesus came to do the will of the Father. But in order to do the will of the Father, He had to know the will of the Father. That's why Jesus made it a priority to spend time alone with God--to know the One who sent Him.


Another first

Archives. We will now have archives. This line will work splendidly in picking up girls.

"So you live in the city?"

"Yeah - Upper West Side, you?"

"I'm in Hoboken."

"You like it there?"

"Yeah. Hey, did I mention I have archives?"

Que her reaching for her pen to give me her number.

Wait till she finds out my archives are, in fact, syndicated.

Its the 183rd day of the year, with 183 left to go. Pretty big day in history for mail:

1847 - The United States Post Office issued its first stamps, a five-cent stamp honoring Benjamin Franklin and a ten-cent stamp for George Washington.

1963 - The US Post Office began using the 5-digit ZIP Code system.

1971 - The US Post Office became the US Postal Service.
I'm guessing they'll celebrate with their time-honored tradition of delivering mail at a snail's pace for exorbitant prices, while simultaneously offering the finest in severely-annoyed-to-be-serving-you customer service.

Also, happy Canada Day, eh.

Getting pumped for this weekend - I always like driving away from the city. Leaving it behind me. Feels like a weight off the shoulders. But no matter where you go - you know its there, waiting for you, looming off in the shadows of the coming work week. So revel in your temporal bliss you ignorant humans, you'll be back soon enough, nolens volens.

Will miss (my) church but I'll get to hear Pastor Coffin preach for the first time. Looking forward to that as well. Tomorrow night my buddy Ben (from GCC) is in town to spend the night - hopefully he can help me correct the waywardness of my home PC. Then Saturday is open road til Monday night.

Working on polishing up an article ent. "The True Church" for the church newsletter (July's theme - "The Search for Truth").

Cool link for the day. That is all.