Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

I won't write a lengthy post, but I wanted to wish the loyal and regular readers of this blog a very Happy 2006. Thank you for reading and commenting, for sharing my world, and for sharing yours with me. This past year was full of good things, with ample opportunity for growth and learning, and I hope the coming year is full of same for all of you. And, please, if you're going out yet tonight: please don't drink and drive. Lastly, remember to enjoy every sandwich.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

(I started posting the Demotivation images from Despair, Inc back in early October, and I have just about exhuasted the lot of them, so as of this post, Your Moment Of Zen will no longer be using those images. I will start the New Year with a variety of images. If you have an idea for an image you think would be a good fit, please send me an email at blogizdat-at-yahoo-dot-com with a link to it.)

Friday, December 30, 2005


You think you're so smart, go try Etymologic.

(They call it the 'toughest word game on the web.' They're right.)

Neuroses Du Jour

Emily/Portia tagged me for this, and I decided to play along, after a fashion. Hope you enjoy.

Rules: The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits of yourself," and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You are tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

And here are the 5 habits of highly neurotic people:

1. - If I have a pile of M&M's or Skittles to eat, I have to consume them so as to have an even amount of each color, and then eat one of each color at a time, until they are gone.

2. - Like Emily, I too want to align every crooked picture I see.

3. - I wipe down every toilet seat I ever use before sitting down - and then I lay down a layer of TP, just to be safe.

4. - I can eat oyster stew, but only the broth, which I love. Buat even so much as seeing the oysters makes me feel nauseous.

5. - As long as I can remember, with with every girlfriend - and now with my wife - I could kiss passionately, yet be grossed out by the very idea of drinking from the same glass, or using the same fork or spoon as they did. And use the same toothbrush? Fuggeduhboudit.

I know I'm supposed to tag five people to do this, and I'll probably get bad luck for not doing so, but I'm going to beg off on that. Still, if you like the meme and use it for your blog, do post a comment back here and me know, so I can read about how neurotic you are, as well. Thanks.

Auld Lang Syne


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Play Doom Funnel

Cool Shockwave game.

(Now get back to work.)


Okay, but what about for my Jewish and Muslim friends?

Bacon Strip Bandages.

Thursday Afternoon Matinee

As noted earlier, I'm home sick from work today, and I've been in bed most of the day. Mrs. Muzzy took the girls out and about this AM and they've been gone all day, so the house is much more quiet than usual. Since I was feeling a wee bit better by mid-afternoon, I decided to view one of the many movies I've collected on both VHS and DVD: 'The Virgin Suicides.' (I'd picked the VHS version on a whim for a dollar this past summer.)

I'd not seen it before, and knew little about the film, only that it had been fairly well-reviewed when it came out, and that it had been Sofia Coppola's directorial debut. I must say, I was surprised at how amazingly good it is. I was captivated from the first frame.

For those who haven't seen the film, I won't give away the story - the liner notes do a pretty good job of that already - but I will note that I think Ms. Coppola did a splendid job of capturing the subtleties of teenage boy-girl interaction, as well as the ambiguities inherent in such a story. It would have been easy to try to mine the plot for irony or even cheap humor, but that is almost entirely absent here, other than the running gag with the TV reporter, which could have been left out to no detriment.

Although both the subject matter and tone were entirely different from 'Lost In Translation,' it had the much of same quirky sensitivity that Ms. Coppola brought that film, as well. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that 'Lost In Translation' later amplified some of the wistful poignancy of the human soul's longing for romance and connectedness present in 'The Virgin Suicides.'

It has been said that the key to whether a film is great is how well it holds up on a second viewing. I strongly suspect that 'The Virgin Suicides' will seem even better the second time around. And, after I watch 'Lost In Translation' again, I intend to find out.

Just Because They Can

250 pounds of Silly Putty = wacky fun for all.

Found On The Web

Feeling Icky

I was feeling icky all day yesterday (as my daughter might say) and this morning I woke up with a full-blown cold: coughing, congestion, achiness, the works. I called work and told them I wasn't coming in today, and crawled back into bed. But now it's late morning, and although I don't feel any better, I can't sleep, so it's online I go. (I'm using a laptop in bed, so I'm not actually up and about.)

I must say, in over 20 years of working at the same place, I have never called in sick when I was not actually ill - ever. I know others do it, and even brag about it, but I just don't. I don't lord it over anyone, but I can't see doing that. Thing is, if I go in to work sick, I run the risk of taking flack from co-workers for infecting the lot of them with a virus. If I call in sick, the same co-workers make disparaging remarks about people calling in sick when they are not.

Oh well, life is too short to worry about such things, right? Now, where's that bottle of Grandma's Cold Remedy?

Which Is Better?

Skype or Gizmo?

Um, No Thanks

From Yahoo:

Naked in a freezing lake for good health

Mon Dec 26, 9:22 AM ET

Saying ice cold water is good for their health, a group of about 30 naked Germans jumped together into a Berlin lake for their annual Christmas swim Sunday.

Wearing nothing but red Santa Claus caps, the naked men and women aged between 25 and 73 went cheerfully en masse into the Oranke Lake in northern Berlin, which had temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit).

"It feels great even if it's not quite as cold this year as in the past," said Kathrin Hornack after her five-minute swim. Last year the lake was colder and in previous years it was sometimes filled with chunks of ice.

Read the rest here.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

CSI Christmas Presents

It's mid-week, already, and I haven't yet mentioned what I did for Christmas, and/or what I received as gifts. Well, the wait is over, friends. Here's the post-mortem:

Saturday - I spent the AM wrapping presents with AE - to be fair, Mrs. Muzzy wrapped alot more than I did. She rushed over from work to meet us at her Lutheran church for the 3:30 Christmas Eve service, and then to in-law's for a lovely dinner and presents.

I had already picked out a guitar that I'd been wanting, and was pleased to see it had made its way under the tree, a gift from Mrs. Muzzy. I played several of the same model at the store, and the one I picked had far and away the nicest action. It's a lovely Taylor 110-E, pictured here, an acoustic steel-string, with a built-in pickup and line-out, ready for amplification. I connected the guitar to my iBook and played around with some of Garageband's various software amps, and was quite impressed with the variety of sounds I was able to tweak out of it.

And if that weren't enough - and don't you think it should have been? - I also received a brand-new camera-cellphone from the ever-lovely daughters AE and LK. I had an entry-level model that worked just fine, but the battery life was pathetic (one day) and it was monochrome, and was kind of hard to read the digits on it. Also, it was quite a bit bulkier than the newer flip kind. Anyway, I have charged it up and used it already several times, and even sent a photo or two to unsuspecting friends. I am pleased with it.

I also received a few other items: a couple of Sufjan Stevens CD's, an Elliott Smith CD, several books, the new iLife 05 software, and a magazine subscription to The Week. I shall write up something on these items later, but for now I'll just say it was a nice group of presents.

Sunday - Mrs. Muzzy worked again, so the kiddies and I slept in and went for a lovely brunch prepared by my MIL. After Mrs. Muzzy came home, we opened stockings and more presents at home. I received the DVD boxed set of the last season of 24, a book and several other socking stuffers.

Monday - spent the day putzing around the house, and went for dinner at my brother-in-law's house, with more presents after the meal. The adults draw names for this event, and I received a lovely $50 Barnes and Noble gift card from my sister's husband.

So, it was a nice Christmas this year, and I received lotsa cool gifts. I am pleased. Now I have to play my guitar.



Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Unbound Bible

Give a look here.


It was a year ago yesterday that the SE Asian Tsunami struck.

From Wikipedia:

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) on December 26, 2004. The tsunami generated by the earthquake killed approximately 275,000 people, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. The disaster is known in Asia and the media as the Asian Tsunami and also known in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom as the Boxing Day Tsunami because it took place on Boxing Day, though it was still Christmas Day in the Western Hemisphere when the disaster struck.

Read the rest of the Wiki article - with amazing photos and illustrations - here.

Some thoughts:

I have mentioned in this blog that I lost a little sister to a drowning accident when I was nine and she was nearly seven. That event has affected me till this very day.

I just now found myself considering the incalculable millions of family and friends who will still be grieving the loss of loved ones to the Tsunami in the years to come. It's overwhelming. Of course, the sheer number of those lost mustn't be allowed to obscure the fact that each of those losses is experienced, not in the aggregate, but individually. Each life lost was a father, a mother, a child, a friend, a relative, perhaps even a pet. And each will be grieved by someone.

Each of us lives - and ultimately dies - in our own sphere of influence. None of us knows for sure how we may have affected the others we will leave behind. But it is without question that every one of us leaves an imprint in the lives of others as we pass thru this life, and most often the size and shape of that imprint is only apprehended after one is gone.

In light of that, I offer this reminder to myself and to you, gentle readers: don't take life - yours as well as that of those you love, or even those you don't particularly like - for granted. We have no idea how long any of us will live, or in what state we will live out our days. Any of us could leave this Mortal Coil before the day is out. So, as I've quoted Warren Zevon elsewhere, and more than once, try to remember to 'enjoy every sandwich.'

Music Monday And Remembering Church

I was just too busy this past weekend to get either Music Monday or Remembering Church written. Sorry. But if ya' likes them, I'll try to put something lovely together next week, just for you. Gee, I promise.

Flug Tag

It's not just Flug Tag.

It's Red Bull Flug Tag.

His And Hearse

On your next trip Down Under, tour lovely Sydney, Australia by Cadillac Hearse:

Weird Sydney Ghost and History Tour.

Many Happy Returns


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Story


Lk 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,

"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Thanks to Doug for the idea.

Merry Christmas

light_maroon light_blue still_blue

I wanted to find something personal and (I think) special to offer as a Christmas present to the regular readers of this humble blog. Last year I offered up a Garageband composition, but with Music Monday running as a regular feature these days, I can do that at any time. After much consideration, I decided that the images you see above - taken by me, in the early eighties - would be just right.

So, please click on the thumbnails above to see a large size view of each image, taken from three incarnations of a Christmas Card made by a now-defunct local greeting card company. They were made from a photo I sold them in 1982, for the paltry sum of $100. I was told that the card was one of their best sellers that year, and although it felt good to know that the customers liked it, I got no extra money out of the deal.

Of course, as is so often the case in life, there is more to the saga of these cards, and they have a special meaning for me. Allow me, if you will, to relate the abbreviated version of the back-story:

In summer and fall of 1982 I was spending alot of time going out with a tall, blonde and beautiful young woman named Laura, whom I'd met that previous spring. I'd seen her around college for some time, but I'd never gotten up the nerve to approach her. On her Graduation Day I was on assignment shooting photos of the ceremonies, which I used that as a ruse to take her picture, and to meet her. One thing led to another and we ended up going out - casually, though I fell madly for her - for the next few months.

Unfortunately, she had just come out of a very bad relationship, and was not yet in a position to fully reciprocate my affections, even though I know she liked me very much. In the end, it did not work out between us. If I'd been a bit more patient and had not tried to move things along faster than she was willing or able, it might have been a love connection. It was not. And when we stopped going out, I went into a deep funk for a long, long time. So, we went our seperate ways, but she was one of the Special Ones, whom I remember fondly to this day.

Laura was an artist who specialized in graphic design. From the beginning of my relationship with her, she tried to encourage me with my photography, and even helped me sell one of my pictures - the one you see above - to the greeting card company where she worked. And it was through those contacts that I ended up working part-time in the company warehouse for the rest of the school year. And it was there in April 1983 where Laura announced to me over lunch that she was getting married to a guy she'd met just a month after she and I stopped going out. Yeah, I cried on the way home that night.

And so that's the short version of the story of how I lost the girl, and how I got one of my photos of an icy January Wisconsin morning used as one of that greeting card company's best-selling cards.

I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to all my regular readers, and remember, Please Don't Drink And Drive this holiday season.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Ask Your Doctor Or Pharmacist

Should you be taking Panexa?

"PANEXA is a prescription drug that should only be taken by patients experiencing one of the following disorders: metabolism, binocular vision, digestion (solid and liquid), circulation, menstruation, cognition, osculation, extremes of emotion. For patients with coronary heart condition (CHC) or two separate feet (2SF), the dosage of PANEXA should be doubled to ensure that twice the number of pills are being consumed. PANEXA can also be utilized to decrease the risk of death caused by not taking PANEXA, being beaten to death by oscelots, or death relating from complications arising from seeing too much of the color lavender. Epileptic patients should take care to ensure tight, careful grips on containers of PANEXA, in order to secure their contents in the event of a seizure, caused by PANEXA or otherwise."

Brought to you by the MERD Pharmeceutical Group.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Friday, December 23, 2005


I had the day off to take care of the girls while Mrs. Muzzy was working, so we started the day out right by sleeping in late, then it was off to McDonald's for breakfast. And, since it was a lovely day - with sunshine and temps in the 40's - after breakfast, the girls and I headed over to Como Zoo to oogle the critters. I've been going to that zoo for over 25 years and I don't think I've ever seen the Ostrich standing out in the snow - until today. Good for it, I say, although I had to wonder about its feet getting cold, standing as it did in the snow. Anyway, it was a nice day for an outing, and a good time was had by all.

Blogger(s) I Have Known

I was looking through some old back-up files the other day and found some webpages I'd forgotten I'd saved, from several Livejournals that have long since been deleted, one in particular created by a young woman whom I shall call Maria (not her real name). (When I first started reading online Journals and Blogs some five years ago, I'd often save them to read later.)

I first stumbled upon Maria's LiveJournal in the fall of 2000, following a link in comments from yet another person's LJ. Maria was an upper middle-class college student living in a third world country, halfway around the world, had attended a private Catholic high school, was still in university when I discovered her LJ, and seemed very well-educated in a wide range of matters.

Even though English was not Maria's primary language, her writing was superb. In fact, she was one of the best online writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The very day I first found her LJ, I went back and read it from the beginning some months earlier, and marvelled at how much her writing had matured in the short time she'd been posting online.

Over the next months I read her LJ almost daily, and I followed with interest her journey through her senior year in college, her various romances, her job interviews and her first post-college employment with large multi-national investment banking corporation as an analyst. In all of this I was merely an anonymous reader, never commenting or posting any kind of feedback of my own.

Then one day I wrote Maria an email - essentially a fan letter - telling her how much I'd enjoyed reading her journal, and how good I thought her writing was. She replied that I was the first person to have written such an email to her, and that she was delighted to know someone was reading.

Over time we became casual friends, and when I later started my own LJ, Maria would read and comment on mine from time to time, as I did on hers. Through all this time her writing only became better and better, to the point where I honestly believed she could make a living as an author, and I told her so, although she pooh-poohed the notion, telling me she didn't feel she had enough life experience to do so.

Occaionally Maria would delete her LJ. It seems that somehow someone she knew from real life would get wind of it, and she'd freak out that they might be reading. At one point she was dating a young man from Spain whom she'd met on holiday. She had been posting lovely gushing entries about him, but she panicked that he might have found out about her journal. She deleted all of her LJ, and yet the same day started over, with a new one. This happened more than once, but each time she'd do so, she'd email me to let me know of her new journal address, so I could continue to read.

Then, in spring 2004, she was accepted to an MBA program in the US, left her home that summer for a new life. She was getting settled into her midwestern American school in August 2004 when - out of the blue one day - I went into to look at her LJ, and it was gone. Kaput.

I wrote Maria an email and asked if everything was ok. She replied that she had decided to leave the online journaling world for good - or at least for the time being - and mentioned something rather cryptic that lead me to believe her online candor had nearly destroyed an offline relationship she'd been in, and that she no longer wished to risk damaging things with her friends and/or family.

She thanked me for the kind words I'd directed her way over the years, and said she would let me know if - and/or when - she ever decided to start another journal or blog. I've not heard from her since. And, as I read thru her amazing writing the other day for the first time in a year or two, I had to wonder if she'd be upset to know that I have so much of it saved on my hard drive.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Catholic Magazine Apologizes Over Ad

From Wired Magazine:

Thursday, December 22, 2005 1:35 p.m. ET

By RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Jesuit magazine has apologized after inadvertently publishing an advertisement for a Virgin Mary statue wrapped in a condom that an artist intended as a protest against the church's opposition to condom use.

The Rev. Drew Christiansen, editor-in-chief of America, said in a note to readers that the condom was not visible in the black and white proofs that were used to review the final draft of the Dec. 5 issue, which appeared with color photos.

"We are returning payment for the ad and protesting the abuse to the artist," Christiansen wrote to subscribers.

The headline for the ad read, "Unique Contemporary Religious Art Work for Sale." In the text, the statue was called "Extra Virgin," and was described as "a stunning 22 cm high statue of the Virgin Mary standing atop a serpent wearing a delicate veil of latex."

The statue was made by Steve Rosenthal, who said he was an artist in London. Rosenthal released a statement Thursday saying he placed the ad as a protest for World AIDS Day against Vatican opposition to the use of condoms to stem the spread of the disease. World AIDS Day is Dec. 1.

Read the rest here.

Found On The Web

Rings Around Uranus?

From Yahoo:

More Rings Are Found Around Planet Uranus

Astronomers aided by the Hubble Space Telescope have spied two more rings encircling Uranus, the first additions to the planet's ring system in nearly two decades.

The faint, dusty rings orbit outside of Uranus' previously known rings, but within the orbits of its large moons, said Mark Showalter, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who made the discovery.

Details will appear online Friday in the journal Science. The discovery, announced Thursday, means scientists now believe the seventh planet from the sun possesses 13 rings.

Hmm. I know there's a joke in there somewhere...

Wipe the rest here.

Holiday Specials


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Teen Pleads Guilty After Blog Confession

From Yahoo:

Wed Dec 21, 6:27 AM ET

An 18-year-old passenger who caused a fatal crash by pulling on the steering wheel pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter after prosecutors discovered a confession on his online blog.

Blake Ranking wrote "I did it" on his journal three days after the October 2004 crash that caused a friend's death and left another seriously injured. He had previously told investigators he remembered nothing of the crash and little of its aftermath.

Blake was sitting in the back seat as he and then-17-year-old friends Jason Coker and Nicole Robinette left a party when he pulled the steering wheel as a prank, causing the car to somersault off the road.

His blood alcohol content after the crash measured 0.185, more than double the legal limit.

Read the rest here.

Found On The Web

Santacon UK

Read about it here, and view lotsa photos of the event(s) here.

Death By Caffeine

How much of everyone's favorite recreational drug would it take to do you in?


Extra, Extra


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

205 - George Bush's Year In Review

New JibJab's out, y'all!

Church Salary Survey

Interesting - to me, at least - list of what mega-sized churches pay their staff.


Don't Mean To Bug You

From USAToday:

'Superbugs' infiltrate hospitals, communities

By Anita Manning, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Drug-resistant bacteria are taking hold in hospitals and in the community, adding urgency to the need for new antibiotics and better infection-control measures, said scientists meeting here.

Among the most worrisome of these superbugs is MRSA, or methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, a germ once found primarily in hospitals. But it's popping up so often outside of health care settings that it is, "arguably, a true pandemic," said Steven Projan of Wyeth Research in Cambridge, Mass., who spoke at the Interscience Conference on Anti-microbial Agents and Chemotherapy, ending Monday.

Read the rest here.

Found On The Web


eWEEK explains why Sun's StarOffice 8 is a good solution for your desktop processing needs.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Monday, December 19, 2005

Music Monday - #35

Past Music Mondays


Lyrics Of The Week:

My two favorite Christmas Carols:

1) - Away In The Manger


2) - Little Town Of Bethlehem


Featured Free MP3 Downloads Of The Week:

This week, please download a couple more free bawdy Christmas MP3's from one the Twin Cities' best roots bands, Trailer Trash, from their first self-produced and self-released Christmas CD, "Hell It's X-mas (1996)." And don't forget to download last week's Music Monday Trailer Trash Tunes, as well.

A quote from New Artist Direct:

"Trailer Trash delivers energetic, straight-up versions of a wide variety of songs, most of them having some kind of country or roots base, but extending from that in several rock and pop directions." - Missy Nelson, No Depression: The Alternative Country (Whatever That Is) Magazine"

1) - " Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk This X-mas, (1.68 MB)"


2) - "Night Before X-mas Boogie, (1.88 MB)"

(Music files courtesy Trailer Trash. And, oh yeah, I have a personal connection: my nephew's dad plays in the band.)


Moving faster than the General Lee, Jessica Simpson filed for divorce from Saint Nick this past Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Expect her to eventually speak to the press about how broken-hearted she is. Expect him to walk away from the proceedings a rich man, having married Jess in a community property state, with no prenup signed.


Here's a couple of free jazzy/bluesy Christmas MP3 downloads from Roomful Of Blues:

1) - "The Christmas Song"


2) - "White Christmas"

(Music files courtesy

More on Roomful Of Blues at the band's website.)


It only works on Windows machines - boo, hiss - but Santa has a Christmas Karaoke Machine set up, just for you. (Of course, you should ask Santa for a Mac this Christmas, anyway.)

Alex's Christmas Lights

Alek's Christmas Lights are up, ya'll.

Bad Santa

From Yahoo:

40 drunken Santas...six geese a-laying...

Forty drunken Santas rampaged through central Auckland, stealing from stores and assaulting security guards, the New Zealand Herald reported on Sunday, in a protest against the commercialization of Christmas.

Police said some of the Santas threw beer bottles, one tried to climb the mooring rope of a cruise ship and a security guard was punched during the fracas.

"They came in, said 'Merry Christmas' and then helped themselves," convenience store staff member Changa Manakynda told the Herald, which reported the Santas also attacked a Christmas tree.

Read the rest on the Kiwi Santas here,
Santarchy here.



Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Remembering Church - #4

This week: a visit to a Seventh Day Adventist church.

I visited a small Seventh Day Adventist church on Saint Paul's east side of an early fall Saturday morning. Like so many other 'Seventh Day' churches, the Seventh Day Adventists do not worship on Sunday, but on Saturday, the traditional Sabbath of Israel.

As the son of a conservative Presbyterian minister, I'd been raised to view the SDA with a healthy dose of skepticism for their views on prophecy, as well as for some of their more esoteric beliefs about the existence of hell, the imminent return of Messiah, and the role of the Church of Rome. Additionally, I recall learning as a child that SDA churches relied heavily on the writings of the great mother figure of Adventism, Ellen White, to the point of eclipsing the Bible itself.

(Ellen White had been part of the Millerite movement that had waited in expectation for the return of Christ to Earth in 1844. This, of course, did not happen, and has been known since as the Great Disappointment. Interestingly, this disappointment did not deter those in the Seventh Day movements. They just backed off a little in their pronouncements. In the meantime, health and fitness took a large role, and early Adventists created two of the great Breakfast Cereal companies we know today: Post and Kellogg.)

I wasn't made to feel unwelcome, but I don't recall being greeted at the door as I came in, and - I must say - I don't recall too many details of the service, either. I do remember it was a bit plain - as opposed to ostentatious - and used many of the hymns I was used to hearing as a child in Presbyterian churches. The sermon was well-delivered, but as I expected, it was heavy on end-times eschatology, and was sprinkled with practical advice for living. There were allusions to Mrs. White's writings throughout the sermon, but nothing that validated the criticisms I'd heard as a child that she was held up as a near-saint. All in all, the service had the feel of something I might have experienced in a southern Nazarene or Church of Christ service, but with the kind of end-times emphasis more common in charismatic circles.

In short, it was an interesting experience, I learned a few new things about the SDA, but it did not resonate with me, and I've never felt any strong desire to go back for a repeat visit.


I managed to make it through the Keegan's MOB event last night without a drop of alcohol - not hard for me, since I don't really drink much - and had a pleasant time chatting with various MinnBloggers. It was a nice to get out and about.

(For more details on how it all went down, check these reports from KVM, Martin Andrade and Mobange.)

I left the MOB a little early last night and went over to CompUSA to return the old WIFI router - which was acting up - and bought a different brand, which didn't work at all. I am starting to get a annoyed with all of this. All I want is a simple WIFI device that is easy to set up on the Mac, and works. Is that too much to ask? I suppose it is.

Of course, p'raps all this router nonsense explains why I woke up this AM with a migraine as bad as any I've had in months. I ingested copious quantities of legal drugs to quell it, to no avail, and reverted to my old standby migraine-killer: sleep. I didn't end up getting out of bed until late afternoon, and missed AE's 3 PM kiddie choir concert. Sigh. Anyway, it's after 6 PM, and I'm only now starting to feel a wee bit better. I may even be able to find enough replenished energy to gather up my skirts and write a 'Remembering Church' installment yet today.

Or not.


Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Live Blogging The Mob Event

I got to Keegan's a bit later than expected, but was able to meet up with Sola, Mondo and someone who had joined them for dinner. I ordered the house stew and a coke, and had some good conversation, met a few bloggers, and even bought a MOB tee-shirt that was being sold. I'll mingle a bit more, but I gotta leave soon. I need to return a wireless router to CompUSA and go home. If you're here, stop by and say hello.

Remembering Keith - December 17, 1981

24 years ago this very day, my best friend Keith M was killed in a car accident.

Keith and I had lived together during our freshman year in college, but I had not formed a very close friendship with him until after we had both graduated. What brought us together the summer after graduation was, of all things, soccer: Keith and I would often attend Minnesota Kicks soccer games together. Although I had a car, Keith was gracious enough to come pick me up, which saved me the cost of gasoline. He owned a beat-up Camaro which he drove way too fast, and I was often terrified of riding with him, but it was nice to have a friend, and a ride.

We became quite close and spend a great deal of time together. Like all of us, Keith had a few rough edges, but he recognized his flaws, and was slowly working on becoming an even better person. He was generous with his time and possessions, and would likely give someone the shirt off his back, if he thought they needed it.

Keith had been out of town on a winter camping trip to a State Park a couple of dozen miles away, but had come back into town on Thursday morning, December 17th. We spoke by phone that afternoon, and made plans to get together the next evening. He was going to stop by my place to pick me up after work, and I think we were going to go out to a movie.

That Friday evening I was late getting out of work. I ran into the downtown Dayton's and quickly bought a Murphy's Law calendar to give to Keith as a Christmas present. It seemed appropriate, since we were always joking about how everything seemed to forever go wrong for us. I rushed out of the store, and barely caught my bus home.

NCB and I were living together at the time. I had met him when he and Keith were roommates, and we had formed a close friendship. NCB was already in the apartment when I got home, fixing dinner with a girl named LP, and just the sight of the two of them together made me kind of upset. I had met her first, and had tried to go out with her, but she had started dating NCB. Although she had shot me down, I still kind of had the hots for her, and was mad at him for dating her behind my back.

I rushed in the door and NCB told me to sit down, that he needed to speak with me about something. I told him I was in a hurry, and rushed past him, into my room. I didn't want to speak with him while LP was there, but he summoned back out to the living room. NCB insisted, again, that I sit down, which I finally did. He looked me in the eyes and told me, plainly, that Keith was dead. I asked him how it had happened, and he told me: Keith had been killed the night before in a car accident. I asked him if he would BS me about something like that, he said no. Researchers and pshychologists say the first two stages of grief are shock and denial. While doubtless I was in schock, I experienced no denial. I knew instantly that Keith was, in fact, gone.

It seems that on Thursday night, December 17th, Keith had gone into town to the U of M to play basketball with AR and some other friends. On his way back home, at about 9:45 pm, he was travelling in the westbound lanes of what was then State Highway 12 in his new red Ford Fiesta when he was struck head-on by a large sedan travelling Eastbound in the same lanes, against traffic. The driver of the other vehicle was legally drunk but was not severely injured. Keith was dead on impact and, as this happened on a slight curve, probably never even saw what hit him. I recall hearing that the damage to Keith's small car was so severe the cops could not even tell if there had been tinted glass in the vehicle.

Keith's parents paid me what I feel was a huge honor when they asked me to be one of the Pall Bearers for Keith's coffin. I was there with DL, Keith's cousins and Keith's brother. At a time when I felt rather lonely and friendless much of the time, and being asked to participate in the funeral in such a capacity validated one of the few friendships I had managed to establish and sustain.

It's hard to say exactly what effect that Keith's death had on me. Certainly I was saddened. That is only to be expected. But I believe it went much deeper than that. I never fully or properly grieved my little sister's death - the one who drowned when I was nine years of age - and I suspect there are, to this day, quirks in my personality that are the result of unresolved grief from that event. Keith's death just added to confusion in my heart and soul, and I spent the years following in a series of depressions, which have only in recent years begun to abate.

NCB and I patched up our differences over LP - well, she and he broke up - and we went on to become even closer friends. We have played a big part in each other's lives: I introduced him to the woman he has been married to for over twenty years, and he was the best man in my own wedding. He and his wife are godparents to my children, and we try to stay in touch as much as our schedules and lives allow.

Every year for the past 24, NCB an I have gone out the Maple Plain cemetery to lift a Mountain Dew in a toast to the memory of our good friend. And most years we have managed to squeeze in a visit with Keith's parents, as well.

It's strange: for the first few years I thought people might think it morbid that we visited the gravesite, and I never mentioned it to anyone, let alone Keith's parents. But one day I let it slip that we'd been out there, and they seemed genuinely touched that anyone still remembered to do so. Keith is our fallen comrade and we remember him fondly, and his family appears to appreciate it. I do it, then, for me, and for them.

Unfortunately, this year NCB is living out East, and will not be able to join me, so I am going alone, for the first time since Keith died. I will call NCB on my cell phone from the cemetery, and he and I will raise a Mountain Dew each to Keith's good name, and then I will stop by Keith's parents' house for a visit.

A last note: I've come to the reasonable conclusion that it is wrong to become obsessed with death and those who have died. Life really does go on. But it is equally wrong to go on with one's life without taking time to reflect and remember those who have passed. I don't consider my trips to Maple Plain's cemetery as a duty, but a privilege and a kind of responsibility, to honor the memory of someone who was dear to me. As I get older, there will be more and more of such times, but trust and pray I am able to do right by each of them.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: please, please, please don't drink and drive.

Drinksh For All My Friendsh

Stolen - and slightly modified - from Mitch:

The Party Finds You!

Almost last call!

Tonight is the fourth semiannual Minnesota Organization of Bloggers party! If you're a blog fan, a blogger, want to learn about blogging, want to start a blog (there's always someone at these parties with a laptop running; I'm sure they'd be happy to help you get a blog set up), or just want to hang out with a bunch of very fun people, this will be the event of the season.

Join us at Keegans tonight! The party starts around 5, and goes until Dementee goes and gets the cops called in.

Hope to see you there.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Pandemic Threat

Discussed in Quandrant Magazine:

The Pandemic Threat

Miranda Darling

Talk of plagues in these gleaming modern days drags the mind back in time to the pustules, exorcisms and corpse pits of the Dark Ages. Unfortunately, the issue of global pandemics is very much one of the future; it could even turn out to be the issue of our times.

Discussions of the dangers the globe faces from emerging infectious diseases (EID) most often take place against a backdrop of human security. The individual is taken as the referent and the threat to his personal well-being is assessed. This widening of the security agenda from the traditional boundaries of national security to include the welfare of every human being tends to blur the pragmatic questions governments must ask: When does an emerging infectious disease become a threat to the survival of the state? What security issues are particular to biological threats? How do governments respond to a situation of this kind?

Read the whole thing here.

Found On The Web


From my old Livejournal:


Sometimes AE says the darndest things - Aspies can be sometimes be both creative and pedantic. I wanted to write down two of things from this weekend, so I wouldn't forget.

1) At bedtime a couple of nights ago AE got into her pyjamas but realized there was a small hole in the foot of the pj's, right where her right big toe goes. She asked me if I would help her put on a pair of socks, to keep the toe from poking through.

She said: "Dad, could you take off my leg please? Well, not my real leg, just the pyjama leg."

I laughed.

2) Yesterday we were in the car on the way to see Mommy at her work when AE announced to me she was first going to play a song on the harmonica and would then sing the words to me. She said:

"Dad, I made a song about Garfield, sung to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree."

And she proceeded to sing the song.

That night she announced to Mrs. Muzzy that she wanted to sing her new song. When she got to the end of the verse - right after the line about Har Mar - she glanced around the living room, eyes falling on on one of the Zulu baskets by the door, and added an improvised line to the end of the song:

"O Garfield
O Garfield
Your fur is faithful ever.

O Garfield
O Garfield
Your fur is faithful ever.

Not only orange and black
When you're in a chair
But in Har Mar
When there's a basket there.

O Garfield
O Garfield
Your fur is faithful ever!"

Yup, the darndest things.

Found On The Web

Getting A LEGO Up On The Competition

It's LEGO Search time at Yahoo:

Building Blocks of Buzz

Wednesday December 14, 2005 11:00AM PT

Searches on the strangely expensive plastic blocks are up 63% this month. Perhaps overly eager parents are preparing their offspring for a career in architecture. Or maybe Mom never heard the urban legend about the kid who crammed a LEGO man torso up his nose and spent his adult years as a circus freak (true story). Either way, all sorts of LEGO sets are surging, with Star Wars LEGOs leading the charge.

Millennium Falcon LEGOs and Cloud City LEGOs are blasting through Search hyperspace from a galaxy far, far away. The awe-inspiring Death Star LEGOs are sure to keep Vader wannabes entertained, however we recommend hiring a licensed contractor to put the 3,417 piece "toy" together. Other LEGO sets putting a spell on shoppers include Harry Potter, Knights Kingdom, and Mindstorms.

Read the whole thing here.

I've Been There

Pix of Mall Of America's Camp Snoopy.

Iraq Voter Turnout Estimated At 70 Percent

From Yahoo:

Associated Press Writer

Iraqi authorities tallied millions of ballots Friday and received some complaints about the conduct of the parliamentary election, including allegations of "violent interference" with voters. The election commission said none of the complaints involved fraud.

Officials said it could take at least two weeks until final results are announced for the new, four-year parliament because all the complaints have to be investigated. Preliminary results might be available in less than a week, they said.

Although violence was low on election day, the U.S. Marines said a mortar attack Friday killed an Iraqi soldier and four children playing soccer in a schoolyard that was a polling station in the western Eurphrates River valley town of Parwana. Two children were injured.

The election commission did not provide any figures on how many of Iraq's 15 million voters cast ballots Thursday, but officials estimated turnout could have been as high as 70 percent [italic mine].

Read the rest here.

(And this just in: pundits believe Al Gore and John Kerry are preparing to contest the results of this election in the Supreme Court. More as the story develops.)

Sic Transit


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Mirror Pool

Cool Flog.

Big Easy Money

From Yahoo:

New Orleans Company to Offer Disaster Tours

By JANET McCONNAUGHEY, Associated Press Writer

For $35 per person — $28 for children — a New Orleans company is offering bus tours of some of the city's most misery-stricken spots, including the Superdome, the Convention Center and neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Residents disagree over whether the tours are crass and morbid exploitation, or a good way to help people grasp the enormity of the disaster and keep public attention focused on New Orleans' plight.

The three-hour tours, called "Hurricane Katrina — America's Worst Castastrophe," were announced last week by Gray Line New Orleans, with the first one set for Jan. 4.

Um, okay. Blah, blah here.

Lotsa Time On Their Hands

Genealogies of the main Disney characters.

How Did I Miss This?

From Extreme Ironing Dot Com - June 01, 2005:

A group of New Zealand ironists have claimed a new world record for the most number of people ironing under water at the same time

Fifty scuba divers from Dive! Tutukaka, armed with ironing boards, irons, and something to iron, descended to 29 metres to rise to an Australian challenge to break the world record for most people underwater extreme ironing.

The previous record was held by Bay City Scuba Diving Club, who took 43 ironists into the depths to press a few items of laundry.

The Dive! Tutukaka team ironed beside the propeller of the purpose sunk Waikato wreck off Tutukaka’s coast in Northland, New Zealand, on a sandy bottom at a depth of 29 metres.

Story and picture here.

Found On The Web


Lego Museum

Back End In Motion

From Yahoo:

Four Vikings Charged in Boat Scandal

By JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press Writer

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper and three other Minnesota Vikings were charged Thursday with three misdemeanors each for taking part in a bawdy boat party earlier this season on Lake Minnetonka.

Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie, Fred Smoot and Moe Williams were charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd or lascivious conduct, according to court papers.

If convicted, each player faces a maximum of 90 days in jail on each count.

Read the rest here.

Quizy Thingy

Got this from a friend. (Yeah, I was bored.)

1. What do you eat when you raid the fridge late at night?

Hmm. I used to do this alot more, before I started having stomach problems, and GERD, so I had to cut out the late-night pizza. I still pour myself a glass of milk and have four Snackwell Creme Cookies before bed each night.

2. What is your secret guaranteed weeping movie?

I wouldn't admit to it, but I might have cried when ET died. Or it could have been allergies.

3. If you could have plastic surgery, what would you have done?

Probably a tummy tuck, lipo the (ever-so-slight) paunch. There's not that much there, but I can't seem to lose it on my own.

4. Do you have a completely irrational fear?

Phil Collins. He scares me. But that's not irrational, is it?

5. What is the little physical habit that gives away your insecure moments?

I stammer a bit, I fidget. Well, that and I run and hide.

6. Are you a pyromaniac?

Neh. But I love setting off Roman Candles for my daughters. That's lotsa fun.

7. Do you have too many love interests?

I did once, back in my dashing and debonair single days, but not anymore.

8.Who would play you in a movie?

Eh, I really don't know. Is there anyone who's good at playing a geeky, clumsy late-forties something guy? Maybe Bill Murray?

9. Do you know how to play poker?

I used to be pretty good. I still play video poker alot when I go to the casino, except that unlike in real life, I always lose.

10. What do you carry with you at all times?

I have a wallet that holds my PalmPilot with all my info in it (contacts, calendar, photos, books, mp3s), and some cash and credit cards. Always carry two sets of car keys, one set in left and right pockets. (Actually, I want to get this new Palm that has built-in WIFI).

11. What do you miss most about being a kid?

The sense that I could be anything when I grew up. (It doesn't happen that way.)

12. How do you feel about your given name?

I like it. In real life I'm named for my Great-Grandfather, and I am proud of that.

13. How much money would it take to get you to give up the Internet
for one year?

- Strokes chin, ponders - Nope, not enough cash in the world.

14. What was the last song you were listening to?

Alex Lloyd - "Black The Sun." Over and over. Heard it for the first time this week, and I was just gobsmacked.

15. Have you ever been in love?

Uh huh.

16. Do you talk a lot?

I think I can speak for Mrs. Muzzy when I say emphatically: yes.

17. Do you spend more time with your S.O. or your friends?

Defintely the S.O.

18. Favorite fabric?


Alright: I love the feel of a fine cotton shirt and a fine wool suit. And a wool long-coat over it all. In winter, of course.

19. Something you love and hate?

Relationships, of all kinds. They can be so difficult, and yet they make life bearable, and even rewarding.

20. Do you tell your friends about your sex life?

Nope. Are you outta your mind?

21. How do you eat an apple?

I slice it into wedges, and then sometimes add a slide of chedder cheese.

22. What do you order at a bar?

Usually just a wine cooler, if I'm in an alchohol mood, which is rare. Otherwise, cola or tonic water, on ice.

23. Do you drive a stick?

Not well. And never in San Francisco.

24. Biggest turn off?


Okay: meany stuck-up stinky-binkies.

25. What's one trait you hate in a person?

I don't like people who hold out how superior they are to everyone else, even when they really are, and especially when they aren't.

26. What kind of watch do you wear?

I got a Swiss Army Watch from work, for having lasted there for twenty years. It's actually quite nice.

27. Most frivolous purchase?

Geez, most of my purchases are frivolous, in the scheme of things. I suppose it would have to be all the CD's I don't ever listen to, or the Books that I don't read.

28. Do you consider yourself materialistic?

Not too much, but I gotta have my gadgets (computer, MP3 players, cameras, internet) and my books, and music. Without that stuff, I'd feel lost. So, okay, I'll say yes.

29. What do you cook the best?

I have a chicken and rice dinner that I think is quite delicious, and in my bachelor days, I'd use it to impress the ladies, but unfortunately I had no second act. These days I make a mean frozen pizza, and sometimes cook noodles in the microwave. Otherwise, it's drive-thru for the girls.

So, there you go. Now, g'won, answer the questions for yourself and put it on your blog.

Google Reader

Hmm. Is there anything they don't have?

Google now has an RSS feed reader: Google Reader.

Citation Machine

It might just save your rear end: Citation Machine.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

You've Got Questions

They've got answers:

Yahoo Answers.


I stopped in at Half-Price Books today while LK was at her therapy session, and picked up a copy of last year's collection of writings by Christopher Hitchens, "Love, Poverty and War." Although he isn't exactly a conservative, he's slowly coming around - more and more - to my point of view, and I am willing to wait until he crosses the finish line. Together with David Horowitz and Ben Stein, he's one of the few prose writers working today whose writing is consistently superlative, and always worth reading. Yes, he's that good.

Amazon says thus:

"I did not, I wish to state, become a journalist because there was no other 'profession' that would have me. I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information." The Christopher Hitchens Reader showcases America's leading polemicist's rejection of consensus and cliché, whether he's reporting from abroad in Indonesia, Kurdistan, Iraq, North Korea, or Cuba, or when his pen is targeted mercilessly at the likes of William Clinton, Mother Theresa ("a fanatic, a fundamentalist and a fraud"), the Dalai Lama, Noam Chomsky, Mel Gibson and Michael Bloomberg. Hitchens began the nineties as a "darling of the left" but has become more of an "unaffiliated radical" whose targets include those on the "left," who he accuses of "fudging" the issue of military intervention in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, as Hitchens shows in his reportage, cultural and literary criticism, and opinion essays from the last decade, he has not jumped ship and joined the right but is faithful to the internationalist, contrarian and democratic ideals that have always informed his work."

Get it, and enjoy.

Found On The Web

It Might Just Be True

Activist Judge Cancels Christmas.

Ideological Hurricanes

From The American Enterprise Online:

Ideological Hurricane

By Joel Kotkin

Last September’s tragedy in New Orleans revealed, in the starkest manner, the soft underbelly of America’s cities. After all the 1990s rhetoric insisting that “Cities are back!” we got a glimpse behind the facades of a major urban center and tourist mecca which revealed many utterly dependent and disorganized residents, looking more like Third Worlders than denizens of a modern metropolis. In the process, the urban liberalism that has dominated city administration for the last generation was unmasked.

Read the rest here.

Naked Aggression


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Obla Di, Obla Da

From Yahoo:

Court pardons smitten bra burglar

A Chinese man who repeatedly broke into the home of a neighbor he secretly loved, at one point sneaking out with a bra and some photos, has been let off the hook by a Chinese court, Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

The man confessed to breaking into the woman's home five times, including once while she was sleeping, though he had fled as soon as she woke up, Xinhua said.

Police caught him red-handed in November walking out of the neighbor's apartment with a key to her door, a bra, two photographs and her MP3 player, the report on Xinhua's English Web site,, said.

Read the rest here.

Memory Meme

Here's a little memory meme, stolen from someone's else's blog:


"If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment here on my blog with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me.

It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you're finished leaving your comment, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you!

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, so be creative, y'all.

Yeah, I'm Easily Amused

(Click graphic for larger image.)

Top Ten Web Moments

CNN's Spark has the list:

Spark's top 10 Web moments

These are Spark's picks as the top 10 moments in the World Wide Web's short but impressive life. Vote for the one you think is the most significant:

10. WiFi hotspots -- wireless Internet connectivity appears in airports, hotels and even McDonald's.

9. Webcams and photo sharing -- communication becomes visual, and inboxes fill with baby photos.

8. Skype -- telephony turns upside down with free long-distance calls, Ebay snaps it up in September 2005 for $2.6 billion.

7. Live 8 on AOL -- five million people watch poverty awareness concerts online in July 2005, setting a new Net record.

6. Napster goes offline -- Regulators close the pioneering music swap site in July 2001 and file-sharing goes offshore.

5. Lewinsky scandal -- Matt Drudge breaks the Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal in 1998. The blog is born.

4. Tsunami and 9/11 -- two tragic events set the Web alight with opinion and amateur video.

3. Boom and bust -- trillions of dollars were made and lost as the dotcom bubble ballooned and burst between 1995 and 2001.

2. Hotmail -- went from having zero users in 1995 to 30 million subscribers 30 months later. It now has 215 million users.

1. Google -- redefined search. Invented a new advertising model and commands a vast business empire.

I'm going with WIFI Hotspots, myself.

Ballot Boxing


Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

Sounding Off

Melbourne's The Age's readers sound off on this week's racial tensions in Sydney.

Your Moment Of Zen

Despair, Inc