Tuesday, February 28, 2006

dust to dust

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, and thus begins Lent. This was always a big deal back in my Lutheran days. (I'd like to give a shout out to Pastor Schelter at OSL, what what!) We would go to the Ash Wendesday church service, the pastor would put ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross, and thus would begin our 40 days of sacrificing something until Easter.

Generally, I fasted coke, because I love it so freaking much. Usually, I would forget, and have one anyway, or I would just fail towards the end. I think there might have been a couple of times when I followed through, but nothing clear comes to mind.

I remember in high school, this friend of mine, Carissa Conley, told me she was fasting 30 minutes of her time that she might be doing something else and instead she would spend time with the Lord. Now this was a new concept entirely for me. I guess up until that point, Lent and my coke abstinence had been a religious act of obedience rather than a spiritual experience for me. Self deprivation rather than self melioration. You mean I might actually engage in something that might bring me closer to God instead of a caffeine headache? Interesting.

Since I've started going to a non-denominational church, we haven't really talked much about Lent. Now, anyone can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that the actual 40 day period of Lent is biblical. I think it stems from the idea of a 40 day fast, liken to the one Jesus did (Matt 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).

*Incidentally, after looking these up here, where you can find LOTS of translations of the bible, I noticed that 40 days seems to be a common length of time for various things, including, but not limited to: flooding, fasting, lying prostrate, walking around on the earth after being resurrected, etc...

Anyway, I didn't even realize that Lent was just around the corner until my friend Kris was talking yesterday about what he was going to give up. He goes to Bethany Community Church in Seattle, and his pastor keeps a blog (which is awesome!) and I read this entry and got to thinking even more about the meaning and the importance of Lent.

This paragraph stuck out to me the most:

It's something to think about, for sure. I'll have to think today about how I want to sacrifice during this time. But whatever I decide, I'm definitely also giving up coke, because other than the delicious and unbeatable taste, it's not good for me at all. *fin*

Friday, February 24, 2006

it's official....i'm a genius

Okay, guys. Eric shared this with me yesterday. It's an intelligence test of sorts. I got 24/33, but Eric gave me the answer to one of them as an act of retribution for my accidentally telling him two answers that he didn't ask for, so really I only got 23. Anyway, it's fun and if you have a few minutes, DO IT RIGHT NOW.

Ooh! There's this one too! This is much harder. I just started but I only have 4...

There there's this movie one, too! Have fun. I hope no one has any actual work to be doing today.

What what.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

it's NY Time.........s!

My dear friend Amber bought me a NY Times crossword puzzle calendar for the anniversary of my birth this year, and when things slow down at work, I like to exercise my "werd skills" if you know what I'm typin'. Right.

Anyway, I've yet to complete one of them entirely YET, but as soon as I do, I'm going to take a digital picture of it and post it on this glorious website o' mine for the whole world (all three of my blog readers) to see! Woop woop!

Now don't get me wrong, I've completed them (usually a Monday or a Tuesday) in the paper before after warming up on the Daily Commuter *shout out to the Dallas Morning N-iz-ews!*, but I've completed nary a one in this calendar. I'm currently running a little behind and am doing Tuesday, Jan. 10 as I type.

Hopefully it will look a little something like this when I'm finished:

Thank you also to Will Shortz, of NY Times crossword puzzle editing fame:

What a kind and gentle man of knowledge he must be. I bet his friends really like him.

Monday, February 20, 2006

freezing ยบ fahrenheit

I'll preface this by addressing Julie and saying that I know you've dealt with worse weather than we have down here (especially this "winter"), as per your recent post, but still. This sucks. It's not so much even the temperature that bothers me. It's even kind of nice to feel justified in breaking out my Inuit-suited down coat with the (faux) fur trimmed hood. It's the freaking traffic that I hate! It took me 1 hour and 27 minutes to go 20 miles this morning. There is almost nothing more pointless in the world to me than sitting in traffic. Sure I could think of all the positive things I could do with my alone time, like self-speculate, pray, listen to the latest jams on the Frequency Modulation or Amplitude Modulation transmitter (thank you Music Business and Advertising Media classes), or even just practicing being still.

This morning, there was not too much glass half full thinking going on, but talking to Kivon en route definitely helped to calm me down, so thanks, aforementioned Kivon. :) Anyone have any suggestions for remaining calm in traffic situations? I'll take suggestions from those who drive and those who don't. Thanks in advance for keeping the roads safe from my impending wrath.

This is what it looked like to me all morning, minus the space to drive between the cars and the nice, non-gray looking weather:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


It's Valentine's Day and I have a Valentine! A really cool one! Thanks for bein' so cool, V-tine!


If this doesn't make you want to go to Amsterdam (and behave yourself) I don't know what will:

I think I'll write a clog about it:

A (street) lamp unto my feet:

Ouede Kerk, the capital:

Then after the show its the (after party),
and after the party its the (hotel lobby):

Home sweet home:

Thanks dooce!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

jazzy five!!

My friend Michael and I just made up a new game at work. It's called "Jazzy Five!" Think jazz hands except two people participate whilst slapping each other five. Golly, it makes the day go by so much faster! (See: below)

High Jazzy:

Low Jazzy:
Working really hard all the time really pays off.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

points to ponder

This is interesting. I got it from Michael's page.


Okay, so tomorrow we're having an art show after work (see: large image below) and Dan Fine, the artist, hasn't named any of his paintings. He's a pretty funny guy, and he wants us to name the paintings for him. I, of course, was charged with coming up with the names.....

There are 10 paintings total, and here's what I have so far:

-Alabaster Morning
-The Fury of A Thousand Sons
-Chinese Diplomacy

Any suggestions? :)

Monday, February 06, 2006


If only someday, someone could feel this way about me. *sigh*

white trash charms

This is why newer cars should still have tape decks.

How many licks does it take to get to the center...

This one is my favorite.

Wax on, wax off.

Friday, February 03, 2006

it's not about equality, it's about justice

Okay, I kind of (actually, definitely) copied this from Julie, because she posted it to her website first, but I thought it was important and wanted to do the same. Besides, she convinced me that that's what the internet is for.......copying. AND spreading info fast. Here's lookin' at you, Fast!

This is the speech that Bono (of U2, for those of you reading this blog that are 5 yrs. of age or younger and don't yet know this) gave at the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C. It was originally posted here, but I thought I would post it all on my page (also liken to Julie). The one thing I CAN'T do, however, is highlight, via the use of fancy lines and text boxes, the passages that stood out, because I'm not an html genius, so I'll just let you pick those out for yourself. Here it is:


If you're wondering what I'm doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I'm certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It's certainly not because I'm a rock star. Which leaves one possible explanation: I'm here because I've got a messianic complex.

Yes, it's true. And for anyone who knows me, it's hardly a revelation.

Well, I'm the first to admit that there's something unnatural...something unseemly...about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the south of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert...but this is really weird, isn't it?

You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind.

Mr. President, are you sure about this?

It's very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned - I'm Irish.

I'd like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I'd like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws...but of course, they don't always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you're here.

I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here - Muslims, Jews, Christians - all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.

I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.

Yes, it's odd, having a rock star here - but maybe it's odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was...well, a little blurry, and hard to see.

I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays... and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.

For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land...and in this country, seeing God's second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash...in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment...

I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.

Even though I was a believer.

Perhaps because I was a believer.

I was cynical...not about God, but about God's politics.

Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick - my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world's poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord's call - and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic's point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.

'Jubilee' - why 'Jubilee'?

What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lord's favor?

I'd always read the scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35)...

'If your brother becomes poor,' the scriptures say, 'and cannot maintain himself...you shall maintain him.... You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.'

It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he's met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he's a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn't done much...yet. He hasn't spoken in public before...

When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,' he says, 'because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.' And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord's favour, the year of Jubilee (Luke 4:18).

What he was really talking about was an era of grace - and we're still in it.

So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate - in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn't a bless-me club... it wasn't a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions...making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.

But then my cynicism got another helping hand.

It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called AIDS. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The ones that didn't miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children...even [though the] fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.

Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself judgmentalism is back!

But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.

Love was on the move.

Mercy was on the move.

God was on the move.

Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet...conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on AIDS...soccer moms and quarterbacks...hip-hop stars and country stars. This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!

Popes were seen wearing sunglasses!

Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster!

Crazy stuff. Evidence of the spirit.

It was breathtaking. Literally. It stopped the world in its tracks.

When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened - and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even - that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying...on AIDS and global health, governments listened - and acted.

I'm here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff. Maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places."

It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

Here's some good news for the president. After 9/11 we were told America would have no time for the world's poor. America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. And it's true these are dangerous times, but America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors.

In fact, you have doubled aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support for the Global Fund - you and Congress - have put 700,000 people onto life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria.

Outstanding human achievements. Counterintuitive. Historic. Be very, very proud.

But here's the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There is much more to do. There's a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.
And finally, it's not about charity after all, is it? It's about justice.

Let me repeat that: It's not about charity, it's about justice.

And that's too bad.

Because you're good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.

Sixty-five hundred Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about justice and equality.

Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn't accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, "mother nature." In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it's a completely avoidable catastrophe.

It's annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren't they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.

You know, think of those Jewish sheep-herders going to meet the Pharaoh, mud on their shoes, and the Pharaoh says, "Equal?" A preposterous idea: rich and poor are equal? And they say, "Yeah, 'equal,' that's what it says here in this book. We're all made in the image of God."

And eventually the Pharaoh says, "OK, I can accept that. I can accept the Jews - but not the blacks."

"Not the women. Not the gays. Not the Irish. No way, man."

So on we go with our journey of equality.

On we go in the pursuit of justice.

We hear that call in the ONE Campaign, a growing movement of more than 2 million Americans...Left and Right together... united in the belief that where you live should no longer determine whether you live.

We hear that call even more powerfully today, as we mourn the loss of Coretta Scott King - mother of a movement for equality, one that changed the world but is only just getting started. These issues are as alive as they ever were; they just change shape and cross the seas.

Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market...that's a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents...that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents...that's a justice issue.

And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject.

That's why I say there's the law of the land. And then there is a higher standard. There's the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it's OK to protect our agriculture but it's not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living?

As the laws of man are written, that's what they say.

God will not accept that.

Mine won't, at least. Will yours?

[ pause]

I close this morning on...very...thin...ice.

This is a dangerous idea I've put on the table: my God vs. your God, their God vs. our God...vs. no God. It is very easy, in these times, to see religion as a force for division rather than unity.

And this is a town - Washington - that knows something of division.

But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.

'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.

A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it. I have a family, please look after them. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.
Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.

And that is what he's calling us to do.

I was amazed when I first got to this country and I learned how much some churchgoers tithe. Up to 10% of the family budget. Well, how does that compare with the federal budget, the budget for the entire American family? How much of that goes to the poorest people in the world? Less than 1%.

Mr. President, Congress, people of faith, people of America:

I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing.... Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional 1% of the federal budget tithed to the poor.

What is 1%?

1% is not merely a number on a balance sheet.

1% is the girl in Africa who gets to go to school, thanks to you. 1% is the AIDS patient who gets her medicine, thanks to you. 1% is the African entrepreneur who can start a small family business thanks to you. 1% is not redecorating presidential palaces or money flowing down a rat hole. This 1% is digging waterholes to provide clean water.

1% is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism toward Africa, where increased assistance flows toward improved governance and initiatives with proven track records and away from boondoggles and white elephants of every description.

America gives less than 1% now. We're asking for an extra 1% to change the world. to transform millions of lives - but not just that and I say this to the military men now - to transform the way that they see us.

1% is national security, enlightened economic self-interest, and a better, safer world rolled into one. Sounds to me that in this town of deals and compromises, 1% is the best bargain around.

These goals - clean water for all; school for every child; medicine for the afflicted, an end to extreme and senseless poverty - these are not just any goals; they are the Millennium Development goals, which this country supports. And they are more than that. They are the Beatitudes for a globalised world.

Now, I'm very lucky. I don't have to sit on any budget committees. And I certainly don't have to sit where you do, Mr. President. I don't have to make the tough choices.

But I can tell you this:

To give 1% more is right. It's smart. And it's blessed.

There is a continent - Africa - being consumed by flames.

I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did - or did not to - to put the fire out in Africa.
History, like God, is watching what we do.

Thank you. Thank you, America, and God bless you all.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sara 2.4

Happy freaking Birthday, Miss Sara Reid. This one..........'s a for you.

new york, take 2

As promised, here are some more NY pictures. Lucky for me, since I didn't allow Flickr to resize my photographs this time, my bandwidth for February was exceeded after NINE photos rather that 30. Yesssssssssss. Well, here they are, although these were not the ones I had originally planned on posting today.


5. Here's my little ponder-osa:

6. I found my nickname in Chinatown:

7. Does she......does she?:
This woman's attitude was a remarkable contradiction to her personal slogan, which she weareth upon her torso.

8. Zeljko Ivanek starred in "Pillowman" with Jeff Goldblum and Billy Crudup. GOLDEN!
Whoa. I was literally not zooming in at all for this picture. He pretended like I wasn't standing there taking his picture from 1.5 feet away. Talk about acting.

9. Julie coming back from powdering her nose:
I know! She DOES look a little flushed!!

Okay, stay tuned for 9 more pictures on March 1st! *weeping*