29 December 2010


"Next time we go to India, I'm going to ..."

"Next time we go to India, we should ..."

Both these sentences were uttered tonight by someone's (my) spouse. I'm just noting this here for posterity.

07 July 2010

Essen v. Fressen

Today as I passed Hawthorne Elementary School I noticed the sign: "Sum[mer] Feeding: 11:30 - 1:30."

Apparently poor people are cattle.

Visual proof to come if the camera returns in time.

Related: http://www.etruth.com/Know/News/Story.aspx?id=517315

06 June 2010

To the driver (part 2) ...

... of the hearse with Elkhart license plate 736UN, beside whom I parked tonight in the Martin's parking lot, and who waggishly propped in the window of said hearse a mask of an obviously older woman wearing sunglasses: well-played.

07 May 2010

To the driver ...

... of the maroon truck with "In God We Trust" plates whom I followed from Lusher Avenue to the Prairie Street Kroger:

Since your truck appeared to be fairly new, I thought perhaps you hadn't fully familiarized yourself with it's communications equipment. On the left side of the steering column you will likely find a lever. Pushing that down will tell other people that you plan to make a left turn, like when you turned onto Prairie from Lusher. Similarly, you can push the lever up and those around you will know that you plan to make a right turn, like when you turned into Kroger from Prairie.

You'll note that neither of these actions does anything for you personally, except perhaps to increase the goodwill of others toward you.

You're welcome.

29 April 2010


You know what I hate about the iTunes U administrator interface? I hate that when you type your username and press tab to go to the password it doesn't always move the cursor to the password box. Instead you start typing your password and end up at some other random part of Apple's iTunes realm.

I hate that.

31 March 2010


I find this list of new sound clips to be just a tad troubling.

Source: soundbible.com

27 March 2010

Life Lessons

Things I learned while rewiring parts of my house.

1. Wire hangers are a wondrous invention and plastic hangers are a mockery of all hanger-dom. This is because wire hangers not used for hanging clothes can also be used for creating crooks and hooks that are just the right size and shape to keep the pull twine from fraying against the sharp edge encountered just where the twine and electrical wire enters the basement after making its arduous trek down the wall from the attic.

2. Though one may have a better estimate as to how long something will take as one's spouse has, one will inevitably underestimate considerably.

3. If at first you don't succeed, try again. If at second you don't succeed, try again. If at third you don't succeed, try again. If you've been trying for quite some time (anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours, depending when you started), and if what you're trying to do is find wire in a wall, take a lunch break. Then, after lunch, try again. You'll succeed immediately, and wonder why you didn't take lunch earlier (like 25 minutes or three hours earlier).

4. If you can possibly rewire a house without killing the Internet in the process you'll be loved and adored by all other members of the household. If, on the other hand, you kill the Internet for several hours, you'll be loved and adored when it comes back. It's something of a toss-up, really.

5. Only you will appreciate the finished product enough to take photos.

23 March 2010


Do I need to comment about this?

18 January 2010

Another Story

Another story. This one, "The Winner," a midrash-like story about Jacob.


My mother used to tell me the story of the creation of the world. How God made a garden and put everything in its place -- plants, shrubs, animals. How God placed the serpent, the most clever of all creatures, at the top of creation. And then how God created people, and told them to tend the garden and to nurture it. How God told the people that they could eat from any green plant in the garden ... except one. How the serpent convinced them to eat even from that one, and how, as a result, God told the serpent that it and the people would never again get along. The people would crush its head; it would strike their heel.

I've always admired the serpent. The serpent reminds me of ... me. And it's not just that I came out of the womb with my little fingers fast to Esau's heel, though that makes for a good story to tell the grandkids. No, it's more than that.

I think it's the fact that the serpent noticed that it has lost its place at the top of creation and decided to do something about it. That's what I've admired. That willingness to ask whether the rightful order of things things really is right, and the determination to change that order to your advantage. Even when changing that order is not your responsibility. Even when changing that order means challenging your creator.

As a second child, striving constantly to prove myself, I could relate to the serpent. I knew what it was to want to change my lot. So I wrestled with my creator. Not directly, of course. Like the serpent, I wrestled through others.

I, too, have always been more clever than those around me. Not that it's been any great challenge.

Take Esau. Esau is, how can I say this charitably?, Esau is not the greenest oasis in the desert. Certainly, he has skills--he leaps to the chase before I see the quarry. But Esau doesn't think ahead very far. I don't know how often I've watched him return from a hunt, gaunt and haggard, desperate for whatever food he could eat because he had not considered that perhaps, just maybe, he'd need to eat something for the few days he was hunting. So one day when he returned, famished, as usual, I placed myself where he would see me enjoying a hot, hearty lentil stew. And he saw me. And, like a true firstborn, he demanded some. So I told him he could have my bowl in exchange for his birthright. And he accepted. You bet I took his birthright. It's hardly my fault he's dumb, any more than it's my fault he's hairy. Another three steps around the corner of the tent and he could have served himself from the pot. But why should I accept being the second born?

Or take my father, Isaac. Growing up, it was clear to me which of my brother and I our father loved more. Esau could do no wrong. So when father asked for some fresh game for the blessing ceremony, I watched Esau leave for the hunt and I entered the tent offering food far more quickly than any person could have hunted and prepared it. I was barely disguised. Goat skins?! Who's deceived by that?! As it turns out, true believers don't recognize caricature. My father so wanted to believe I was Esau--the hunter hero returned triumphant. It's not hard to use someone's pride and prejudice against them. Why should I accept being the lesser son in my father's eyes?

Or take Laban: after living with his family for just twenty years I had successfully wrested from him most of his flocks, some of his servants, and both of his daughters. Why should I accept his prospering on my back?

I've wrestled all my life, and won every battle I've entered. Except one.

You see, most battles I've fought have been against opponents I knew to be weaker than me. That's how one wins battles--choose a weak opponent and fight them. But on one occasion I got greedy. One night, as I camped near the Jabbok crossing, I challenged my creator directly. I demanded that God appear to me as to my ancestors. And God did. That night, God took human form, and we wrestled. Oh, did we wrestle.

For seven hours we struggled, back and forth, and back and forth, neither gaining the upper hand. Finally, as dawn approached, I knew I was nearly spent. My strength gone, in a desperate move I simply grabbed hold of my opponent. Latched on, and refused to let go until my opponent had given me a blessing and revealed his name.

Well, he gave me a name; but not his. And some blessing.

All my life I refused to accept things as they were. All my life I questioned. All my life I challenged the rightful order of things and won every battle I entered. And then, once, one time, I overreached, and I'm left with this hip. This, and a name that reminds me how I got it. Israel. God-fighter.

I don't wrestle with God, anymore.

09 January 2010