Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blog Upgraded

I finally converted my blog to the new version of Blogger and took the opportunity to update the template.

For those who viewed the blog during Christmas, sorry about all the dots. I selected the dot template as a test and then didn't have time to convert it back. It was a little bit disconcerting though the dots did make me smile (for about 5 seconds). Cheers and Happy Holidays.

P.S. B and I went to a party last night with a group of new friends. During the course of the evening I talked with a gentleman that I've conversed with several times in the past. During the conversation I asked how his Christmas was. Later in the evening I learned he is Jewish. I feel kinda bad mostly because I realized I'd be taken somewhat aback if someone wished me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa assuming that I celebrated these as well.

Just makes me ponder on this a bit. Is religious sensitivity such a bad thing??

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

10 Modern Gadgets That Changed the World

From Wired Magazine Blogs. Hard to fathom life without these gadgets. I wonder what's next?

Click here to read specific information about each gadget.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Beautiful Sight

Discovery left earth Saturday evening for a 12 day mission. The pictures are spectacular.

Picture courtesy NASA from Tom's Astronomy Blog.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Adventure - an advent

I'm reading William Least Heat-Moon's book "Blue Highways: A journey into America". (It dawned on me the other night that it's a 1980s travel blog.) He said something that struck a cord when I read the words last night. In this entry he talked about traveling from New Tazewell to Morristown TN where he hit road construction through the Clinch Mountains. It must have been quite a harrowing trip.
The crossing became a grim misadventure, and I wasn't prepared for it. I tried to think of other things. Helen Keller, who never drove the Clinch Mountains, said life is a daring adventure or it is nothing. Adventure - an advent. But no coming without a going. Death and rebirth. Antithetical notions lying next to each other, as on a globe the three-hundred-sixtieth degree does to the first. Past and future. (p. 37)
I'm wondering if sometimes roads we travel are under construction and quite treacherous, but nonetheless it's the way out. Death and rebirth. Adventure - an advent. It speaks hope to me.

So I'm a 21st century dork

This morning I took the dogs for a walk while B was running errands. About 100 feet from the house, I noticed the car in the driveway. I whipped out my cell phone and called home. When B answered (he knew it was me since we each have a special ring tone on our phone for each other) and I said, "I'm a dork. Guess where I am?" We both laughed and I walked 30 paces home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Scholastic Book Club Order

Do you remember back in elementary school when our Scholastic Book Club orders would arrive? ...order form neatly wrapped around the books with a thick rubber band...the wonderful smell...the sound of crackling pages...the beautiful book covers.

Yesterday my husband received a book order with some research money. He ordered five books: one hardbound and 4 paperbacks. As he handed me the books I instantly transported back to 3rd grade. I looked at each book, flipped through, and of course smelled the pages. I asked my husband if he remembered Scholastic Books. He said "YES!" With a laugh I said, "this is a scholastic book order on steroids." We both laughed and reminisced. It was a cool moment.

So here's to Scholastic Book Club!! Three cheers!! (Here is a pic of my MOST favorite Scholastic books by Ruth Chew.)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bruce Springsteen - Part 2

My next encounter with Bruce was my re-education by my music-fanatic-soon-to-be-husband about the real Bruce Springsteen. As I mentioned in my previous post, I confused Rick Springfield with Bruce Springsteen. In the early 80s I was a big fan of Rick Springfield. What teenage girl wouldn't have been?? Good-looking soap-opera-doctor turned singer. A couple of girl friends and I went to Red Rocks to see him in concert. Yipee!!

Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love album was released the year we were engaged. We listened to the album over and over again, so it was very much a part of the early years of our marriage. We especially liked the title track, Tunnel of Love. It aptly expressed the exciting and yet scary parts of marriage.
...Cuddle up angel cuddle up my little dove
We'll ride down baby into this tunnel of love...

...Then the lights go out and it's just the three of us
You me and all that stuff we're so scared of
Gotta ride down baby into this tunnel of love ought to be easy ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above if you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love

As luck would have it, Bruce came through our city on his Tunnel of Love Tour and a friend got us front row tickets in the side section to the concert!! (Her sister worked for Select-a-Seat at the time.) Unfortunately, my soon-to-be husband was recovering from mono. I hinted that maybe we shouldn't go to the concert and he looked at me like I'd gone mad. I soon discovered why.

The concert was absolutely amazing. Bruce played for at least 4 hours. Every minute was fabulous. He sang. He played. He rocked. He danced. He jumped. The eStreet Band...Clarence and Patti. Wow!

At one point he hopped onto a speakers on our side of the stage. He looked down at our section while singing his heart out. My husband (to be) looked at me and I looked at him. At the same time we said, "He LOOKED at ME!". It was an amazing moment. We had a great time at the concert and we were completely spent by the end. Supposedly Bruce came out for yet another encore. Who knows. I'm not sure we could have lasted. I was completely exhausted and I didn't even have mono.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Bruce Springsteen - Part 1

This morning I read a new blog called penni for your thoughts. In one of her recent entries she mentioned seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert as a non-fan and coming away as a fan (see her post comments).

I got to thinking about my own encounters with Bruce and his music. My husband and his music loving friends are mortified when I share my early confusion over Bruce Springsteen and Rick Springfield (but that's another story).

I first heard of Bruce back in the 80s while reading a memoir of sorts in a local newspaper at a downtown sandwich shop. The writer told of an experience listening to a Springsteen song while driving his car through town and the open country-side. (I don't remember the song, but I'm guessing it was Thunder Road.)

He described the song, the lyrics, the sound of Bruce's voice and the music. All this while describing his drive through town and the countryside. Perfectly timed music with starts, stops, turns, acceleration, letting loose. I'd never heard of people connecting to music this way.

It was magical and I got caught up in his experience. This was 25 years ago...mind you...I'd never heard the song nor knew of this Bruce, but after reading this piece...Wow. Little did I know what was awaiting me...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Hubble Photo

Discovered a new blog the other day about astronomy. Until about 15 years ago I hadn't paid much attention to the skies. Occasionally, I'd marvel at the star lit night during visits to our cabin in the Wyoming mountains. We only have a tiny bit of artificial light there, so the nights provide a great opportunity to see the heavenly displays.

The Hubble photo posted on Tom's Astronomy blog is worth a quick look. I am just amazed at what I see. Swirling galaxies of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Very, very, cool. Here is the link to the zoomable version. (I'm so glad they fitted Hubble with glasses a number of years back!)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Wrath of God

Last year at this time I talked about posting church memories which influenced me for good and called me to live out Jesus' commands. I posted one memory, but have struggled since (for multiple reasons) to write additional postings. I made a list of several memories and wrote a little on each, but instead of feeling encouraged and hopeful I got down and frustrated. I'm not entirely sure where the frustration comes from.

One outcome of the frustration was the realization that my understanding of Jesus' sermons is limited. I've read them multiple times and listened to related homilies and sermons, but for whatever reason I now see that my understanding of His words are kinda foggy and clouded. It bothers me that I'm not able to articulate the essence nor principle foundations of my Lord's manifesto.

Since then I've been reading Frederick Dale Bruner's commentary on the Book of Matthew [thanks to RLP (see very end of his post) ]. My progress is slow, but that's okay. Seems that each time I read his words, they jump off the page with warmth, hope and strength.

Today I reread his description of the "wrath of God" from his section on John the Baptist and the Sermon on the Mount. I've been mulling over his description in my head lately.
The wrath of God is not the irritability of God: it is the love of God in friction with injustice. It is the warm, steady, patient, but absolutely fair grace of God in collision with manifest selfishness...God's wrath does not contradict God's love; it proves it. A love that pampers injustice is not lovable (p. 92).

We do not honor love by omitting references to judgment. We do, however, do a disservice when we merely rant or pound the pulpit or use florid language. Some hell preaching can actually be the preacher's "dissing" or verbal violence, ecclesiastically camouflaged. But the abuse of a thing does not make wrong its use. Jesus teaches everywhere that serious ethical instruction should be undergirded by serious warnings. The holiness of God is at war with all bitterness, hatred, and hurting. And where divine holiness collides with our hostility the crash is called the wrath of God. God's wrath is God's war of love against everything gratuitously hurtful. God's love would not be love if it did not work to remove all that ungraciously hurts. The wrath of God does not disapprove; it proves the love of God (p. 213) (bolding mine).
When I think of my conception of God's wrath darkness surrounds me. By this I mean unpredictability, out of control, scary, death, epic anger. Everything about these words makes me feel afraid. Bruner's words are strong, but something about them draws me out. I want "to know" this holy wrath that collides with my own "manifest selfishness", my inner "bitterness, hatred, and hostility". For I do desire to build instead of destroy, to reunite instead of divide. I want "to know" this holy wrath that is "against everything gratuitously hurtful" and will work to remove "all that ungraciously hurts".

Something just dawned on me as I am finishing up this post. I'm realizing that Bruner's description of "God wrath" more closely matches my picture of Jesus than my conception. It makes me wonder where I came up with mine...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sisters and Banana Bread

The other day I was talking with my sister on the phone. We talk often, but only see each other about once a year if that. She lives across the country in a different time zone.

I multi-task pretty well, but this is not the case when I’m on the phone or cooking. As my husband can attest, I’ve thrown away a number of wrecked things because we were talking while I was baking. I end up using the measurement for the ingredient listed below. Use baking soda instead of baking power. Or leave out an ingredient altogether.

My sister and I were having a pretty in-depth conversation and she knew I was baking. I was baking banana bread and wanted to double the recipe. I doubled the sugar and oil with ease and mixed it together. Beat my eggs and mashed up my bananas (7 total). No problem.

When I got to the dry ingredients the doubling math took its toll (and I’m pretty good at math). We stopped our conversation literally until I got all the dry ingredients measured and mixed in. I apologized for not being more focused on our conversation. She laughed and said the neatest thing.

“If I were in your kitchen we would do the same thing. We would stop the conversation momentarily and then we’d start right up again.” She’s right.

We sometimes lament the fact that we don’t live closer and can’t cook together, meet for lunch, or have family meals together. Yet this day we cooked bread together and this miracle called the telephone made it seem like she’s just across town. ☺

P.S. Here’s my banana bread recipe.

Banana Bread

½ c cooking oil
1 c sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ c nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat oil and sugar together. Add eggs and bananas. Beat well. Add dry ingredients, milk and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in nuts. Pour in greased pan (9x5x3). Bake 1 hour. (Insert toothpick to check for doneness. Should come out clean.)