Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not ok.

For whatever reason, we need a new bathroom trash can. I don't really know what happened to put the old one out of service, but Julie tells me we need a new one, so we need a new one. Today Julie ordered one online and noticed something disturbing. Somebody tell me what's wrong with this picture...

Did you see it?? Right down at the bottom? Two USED from $12.99!! Foul!!! Yes, I'd like a used trash can. Please empty it of your used bathroom products first. It reminded me of something that happened about a year ago though.

My last job was with a large industrial manufacturer, and they had an on-site cafeteria. The highlight of the cafeteria was the grill. Any time of day you could go in there and get the guy to make you a burger, quesadilla, or whatever. And it was always good...until I learned that the secret ingredient was E-COLI!

I actually saw the grill chef wipe the spatula on the side of the trash can and go right back to flipping burgers. Yes, there was a fairly clean trash bag in it, but c'mon! So I've got a question.

Would you ever eat there again? Cause I didn't.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Age is just a number?


I don't know why 36 has been such a big deal to me. I keep thinking of things like how eighteen years ago I was eighteen, how I grew up in a world where people smoked in clothing stores, and how I keep ending sentences with "of course, that was twenty years ago!" But today I really felt my age.

For those of you that are just tuning in, my mother-in-law passed away very unexpectedly and way too young this summer. We've been spending a lot of time with Julie's dad and brother lately, and they came down to San Diego to spend the day with us yesterday. Seriously, they're so much fun. It's a shame it took a tragedy for all of us to realize that, but I really enjoy their company.

Anyway, last night Julie mentioned how for years we've been thinking about upgrading from the 27" old school TV she got when she went to college, but haven't ever gotten around to it. My father-in-law responded, "Let's go buy one." We protested. A little. But how do you say no to a grieving man with an American Express card?

Last night we got this:

I realize it's hard to tell from that little picture, but that's 37" of 1080 pixel HD awesomeness there! You may be able to see how the TV is turned slightly in the armoire. It was about 1/16 of an inch too wide. Ask me if I care. And in case you're wondering, it's Juno.

Anyway, there was the matter of the old TV. We didn't want to just throw it away, so we put up an ad in the free section of Craigslist and decided to leave it outside by the dumpster. By this time I was tired and sweaty from moving furniture around, and there was no way I was getting dressed to walk downstairs and across a small parking lot. I asked Julie, and she said it was ok.

You're thinking I dropped off the TV outside in my pajamas, aren't you? 'Fraid not.

Boxers?? You're getting closer.

I rocked the boxer briefs. In my defense, I was wearing a white t-shirt too.

To some of you, this may not seem like a big deal. You are the people that have never met me. I got down the stairs just fine. No one was around. It was very quiet. I made it across the little parking lot and set the old TV down by the recycling bin for pick-up by whoever saw the Craigslist ad first. I think that's when it hit me that I was standing outside in broad daylight in my underwear.

I have that happen in dreams all the time. And every time, it's like, "Crap! I can't believe I forgot my pants again!!" But this was real life. My modesty caught up with me, and I ran back for the stairs. I tried to take two stairs at a time, and my body cried out in oldness! (Yeah, I know. I need to hit the gym sometime. But didn't we used to all be able to do that? When we were 22 or something?)

I made it inside and crashed to the floor in exhaustion. Then the puppy came and started biting my nose. I didn't even try to push him away. Too tired. Too old.

*BS=Bible Study (c.f. Prov. 20:29)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smart dogs are overrated.

I used to think I wanted a smart dog, so I could teach him a bunch of impressive tricks and run around the park with no leash impressing people with my crazy dog that does card tricks and stuff.

No longer.

I've had a bunch of stupid dogs in my life, and I never really appreciated the value of that until now. Zeke is SMART. He too smart. Yes, he's slowly picking up tricks, and that's great. He knows how to find his own toys, and he pees in a litter box (usually). He learns little tricks in mere minutes, provided he's given sufficient motivation. By sufficient motivation, I of course mean expensive treats. Last night he had fresh lamb, and I had chicken strips. I'm not complaining, mind you. They were really good chicken strips. But c'mon! Lamb?? I get that maybe once every couple of years!

Anyway, today I'm upstairs (where Zeke can't go) trying to get together a writing sample for my Ph.D. applications. Zeke would prefer I be downstairs throwing a ball, or at least taking a nap with him. (I'd prefer that too.)

Yesterday morning I made the mistake of responding to a single, quiet, whiney "Mmm?" sound he made at the foot of the stairs. About an hour ago, I made the same mistake. Now he's sitting at the bottom of the stairs with his little head cocked to the side, one ear flopping and the other standing straight up, going "Mmm?" in thirty-second intervals.

Oh, and did I mention that Julie got the doctor to write her a letter indicating that Zeke is now an "emotional service animal?" Now he flies for free.

I'm starting to think that, at best, I'm the third smartest in this house.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Put-off blog

Have you noticed that there is a fine art to writing put-off blogs? Y'know, those blogs that only exist to say, "Sorry, I don't have time to blog."

The trick is to try and somehow be cute or funny when you're doing it. For example, you might say that you have no time because your two-year-old son just sat down in his birthday cake. Or you might say nothing, but attach a picture of you smiling and waving. Stuff like that.

Or if you're the guy that likes to explain things, you might write a post about the fine art of the put-off blog.


Look! A bunny rabbit!

Anyway, my self-imposed submission deadline for Ph.D. applications is Tuesday. I really can't put it off any more. So...yeah....

Oh my gosh! Is that a kitten sleeping on a ball of yarn?!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting older every day

Did you guys hear that Sesame Street turned forty this week? It hit me kinda hard, and I'll tell you why.

Many of you have heard me at one time or another express my fear of characters in childrens' programming. Like Teletubbies. They scare me!

Am I really alone in this? What if you isolate the face?

Scary, huh? And does anyone else think that disembodied infant in the sun is going to rain down judgment any minute?

Teletubbies aren't new though. I know this cause I have nephews, see. The cool kids watch Yo Gabba Gabba now.

This show scares me slightly less. Yeah, the monster teeth look sharp, but really the only terrifying thing on this show is DJ Lance.

I'm sorry, folks. That's just weird. What is he supposed to be? I do remember carrying these large radios we called "jamboxes" over our shoulders during the eighties, but I don't remember dressing like a Push Up.

Incidentally, doesn't Fred Flintstone look like a real man's man compared to DJ Lance?

I'm rambling. I really wanted to talk about how old I feel. At several points as I caught bits of Caillou, Barney, or whatever, I've thought to myself, "Whatever happened to Sesame Street?"

Well, if Sesame Street is forty, and I'm thirty-six, what does that tell you?

That's right. Sesame Street was NEW when I was a kid. Come to think of it, those Muppets look pretty scary, don't they? Sometimes I look at pictures from the seventies, and find it hard to believe I was really alive back then. And then I think about how long I've been alive.

It's crazy to think that it's been a full eighteen years since I was eighteen! Here's a few more random facts for you:

1. By the time Augustine was my age, he was already working on his autobiography. Think about that. How much do you have to have accomplished in life to think, "Gee, maybe it's time to recount my life for the sake of posterity?"

2. By the time Mozart was my age, he was dead. He'd been dead for more than a year, too.

3. By the time Jesus was my age, he'd payed for the sin of humanity, conquered death, and sitteth at the Father's right hand!

Me? I guess I'm just a late bloomer. As long as we're talking Sesame Street though, let me point you toward a really cool YouTube video. I have such a vivid memory of this episode! Soooo sad.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My bug question

What to do at 3:45AM when you have insomnia? Blog, of course.

Guys, I've got a problem. I have this blog that's supposed to be about answering life's biggest questions, and I can't think of any more. Except one. And I don't know the answer to it.

Seriously, I always get the same answer when I ask people, and I'm still not satisfied. So let me torment you with it...

You know how bugs can walk on the surface of the water without breaking the surface tension?

Here's my question. Do they get wet? Most people say yes without thinking, but I remain unconvinced! Think about this. They don't break the surface of the water, so how can they take any drops of water with them? And look at the guy! It looks like he's sitting on a layer of plastic!

Meh. I'm going back to bed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What is the sound of one hand clapping?


What do this:

and this:

have in common?

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let me say that I'm reserving judgment for a single reason. If the Democrats are right, this is a good thing for all of us. On the other hand, if the Republicans are right, it's a real travesty. Cause here's what I've figured out. Effective politics today has much less to do with morality than we'd all like to think, and more to do with how we're defining reality. In other words, we believe what we believe based on the information that's found its way into our brains. And while some may disagree, let me say that everyone--EVERYONE wants more healthcare, better healthcare, cheaper healthcare. Republicans want it. Democrats want it. Independents want it. Only time will tell whether this plan is really gonna work or not.

ADDENDUM (11/9/09)

What I meant by everyone wanting better and cheaper healthcare is that Republicans and Democrats alike want it. In other words, no one's arguing that healthcare isn't expensive enough, or that we should be providing worse healthcare.

The House bill doesn't argue for a single-payer system--just a public option. But Republicans have two primary concerns, as far as I understand. First, they believe the national budget can't handle it, and that the U.S. has too much debt already. Second, they believe that government-run healthcare would be inefficient. References are frequently made to the inefficiency of other government systems, and the analogy is often made that it could be like trying to get illnesses treated at the DMV (or DPS if you're in Texas).

I'm not saying those are necessarily my concerns. What I'm saying is that if the Republicans are correct in their assumptions, it would be a travesty to implement such a plan. I, for one, don't want to go to something like the DMV if I get sick or injured.

On the other hand, if all the Democrats say is true (and I think we're more familiar with their arguments), to stand in the way of this bill is to favor the profits of insurance companies and lobbyists over the health of children.

If Republicans are telling the truth, there's only one logical recourse. If Democrats are telling the truth, there's only one logical recourse. That's what I meant when I said effective politics today have less to do with morality than reality.

Like I said, I'm really trying to reserve judgment, but I think it's only wise to enter into what could possibly be the most significant national legislation in my lifetime with a little caution.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Those of you that blog, have you ever gone so long without posting that you don't even know where to start? There's so much to tell. Let me see if I can sum it all up in a few bullet points. That's what bullet points are for, right?

  • Did well on the GRE. It took me two tries though. Once last Friday, and again on Wednesday. Now no more math--ever.
  • Congratulations to me! I'm an uncle again. Little Will Morris was born just this morning.

There he is with his dad and his big brother, Ben.

  • This next one needs no explanation. Or maybe it deserves no explanation. Oh, you think I'm weird? These are the guys I lived with for five years.

Monday, October 26, 2009

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Here's the moment you've all been waiting for... (Shouldn't that be "the moment for which you've all been waiting?")

You may or may not remember the challenge I issued to one reader often identified as either Solid_Id or SuperEgo.

You can catch up here.

I received the following via comments Saturday afternoon:

Solid_Id said...

I have no interest in answering the question:

1) These types of questions do not interest me; never have.
2) I can answer the question either way, and you will debate me with the opposite point, no matter what position I take, and will be the victor on your blog.

The last thing I will say: of course it does. duh. why wouldn't it. does it make a sound when you are there? yes. do the laws of physics cease to exist when you're not there? no. there, does that set you up for your argument now? let me guess...blah, blah, philosophy...theory...nothing can be certain...god...blah blah. sum it up? haha just kidding. but seriously, of course it makes a noise.

End quote.

It took him a while to get there, but in the end he hit the nail on the head. The real problem with this question is that it's entirely anthropocentric.

Anthropocentrism (from Greek: άνθρωπος, anthropos, "human being"; and κέντρον, kentron, "center") or anthrocentrism is the belief that humans must be considered at the center of, and above any other aspect of, reality. ...

That's from wikipedia, and makes the point quite adequately on its own.

Just think about it for a minute. The fact that no human hears the sound doesn't mean no sound was made. If my dog hears it, does that count? Or an insect?

Think even smaller. A sound wave is produced and travels through the air. According to Newton, with every action comes a reaction. So something changes, at some level, even if no living organism is there to observe it. (Think of the soprano shattering glass on a high note!)

Consider also the plight of this poor fellow:

Did that tree make a sound? I bet it made some sound issue from that guy when he saw it for the first time.

Anyway, props to Solid_Id/SuperEgo for a solid answer to an ancient question. I congratulate you, sir, and hope that is not the last comment you leave me.

I'll hold off on answering your questions, if you don't mind. I'm not quite ready to release my final school list.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Puppy ninja!

Zeke's got a new trick. He's a puppy ninja. You doubt me? You've never heard of puppy ninjas?

Well look at this!


I tried to determine the veracity of this photo. Unfortunately, the photographer could not be reached for a statement. HE WAS KILLED BY PUPPY NINJAS!!

They're everywhere!

You stand no chance against them!

Unless, of course...


Zeke's started doing this cute new thing, and admittedly, I've encouraged him against my better judgment. He's pretty much figured out that I'll beat him in a fair fight every time. It generally ends with me holding him on his back with him muzzled between two of my fingers. I realize that sounds awful, but that's the recommended course of action for Yorkies. They never quite get it into their heads that they're little.

Zeke's latest trick involves approaching me with a toy and pretending he just wants me to hold it while he sits in my lap and chews on it. (That's another of our favorite games.) He chew the toy two or three times, and then he does his puppy-growl-thing (which sounds kind of like gargling water) and goes for my hand.

He doesn't really bite hard; he's just playing. (Slam dunk on use of a semi-colon! Fear me, GRE!!) Always makes me laugh though. I shouldn't encourage him, but he's so stinkin' cute!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The @#$& GRE!

The Basics
A week from Friday I will be taking the GRE for the first and hopefully the last time ever. Believe it or not, I've pretty much gotten through two entire masters programs without ever having to take it.

The Background
I used to be really good at standardized tests. At least I was good at the math sections. On both the SAT and PSAT I scored well above the 700 mark on the math sections without studying. Then in my Freshman year of college I took a course called "Finite Mathematics." As I remember, we wrote some short essays on the importance of mathematics to daily life and learned how to calculate simple and compound interest.

That was in 1991.

The Challenge
So here we are, eighteen years later, and I'm trying to remember how to do basic algebra. The weird thing is I'm still good at the math I've had to do over the years. Trains headed in opposite directions - no problem! Determining the profit margin on a shirt marked down by 20% - no problem! 4x - 2 = 5 + 3x? Not so much! (I know, I know... x=7...I think.) I stare in horror at things like those little lines they use to indicate absolute value, and find myself asking questions like, "What's the formula to determine the area of a triangle?" (I know. 1/2bh.)

My brain's a little rusty on analogies too, but that can be solved by learning about a thousand vocabulary words.

The Process
I started preparing for the GRE last November by taking a Princeton Review class. That really helped to shake off the cobwebs, but I didn't take the test after the course. See, cause some of these schools are evil. They don't just take your highest or most recent score. No, some of them average all your scores together, and some actually take your lowest score! Can you believe that?! It should be illegal!

I spent the better part of the Spring and Summer memorizing vocabulary words. There are 5,000 possible words, but most of the prep courses (of which the most popular are Princeton Review and Kaplan), and most of the prep books (of which there are many...I have seven, at last count) try to recommend the 300 or 500 words most likely to appear based on historical survey. Listen, you can't memorize that many words. Or if you can, you're some freakazoid from planet Erudite. (That's a GRE word. Go me.) So I took the top 300 words recommended by the Princeton Review, and went down the list, one by one, putting words in sentences. I went through the list several times over.

The final push toward the goal started Monday of last week, and involves twenty two-hour sessions with the person that's supposed to be the best tutor in the San Diego area. My last session will be next Wednesday, and I'll take the GRE the following Friday, October 30th.

The Logic
Somebody ask me why I'm spending about eight hours a day for a month of my life studying for this test. Somebody please ask me why we've invested over $3,000 in tutoring and books. While you're at it, you might as well ask me why I've devoted a whole year to studying for this ridiculous test. ASK ME!!

Quite simply, the answer is that my whole life is riding on this stupid test. It's so simple it makes me want to throw up all over my keyboard even as I write this. If I can make a 1300 (with a minimum score of 650 verbal), I can probably get into a Ph.D. program. If I can get a 1400 (with around 700+ verbal), I can get funding. Yes, that's right. They may just pay me to go to school. If I get 1200, I can go LIVE IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!

(Incidentally, if anyone needs a motivational speaker, I work cheap.)

Am I being a little over-dramatic? Maybe. But it feels like my whole life is riding on this stupid test. @#$& GRE.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Justice and other matters

I don't think I mentioned that for my Spiritual Formation class I agreed to explore justice as a spiritual discipline. As I understand its historic practice, it's pretty straight-forward. You just bring justice in every day situations. Easier said than done though.

So here's my first attempt. Lately there's been a little controversy in my blog comments, and I've started moderating comments. I've agreed to give the accused party one more chance, and I stand by that.

So here we go...

SuperEgo, you have been charged with name-calling, bigotry, and making my wife mad. Rather than go through the whole guilty/not guilty thing, I'd like to have a trial in the truest since.

You set yourself up as a nemesis, and seem to believe you have some mastery in the area of human psychology. Therefore, your trial will include a test of both.

I challenge you to provide a "solid" answer to the following question:

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

It's an old classic that people have tried to answer before. Don't just search the internet on this one, please. Use your noggin and give me an answer that will put an end to my philosophical musings on this question. You've been reading my stuff for more than six months, so you should have enough knowledge about me as to determine what I might deem satisfactory.

It does have at least one answer.

If your response involves any name-calling or any other junk like that, it's unlikely to be posted here.

You may submit your answer as a response to this post or to my email, which I believe you already have.

To my other readers: Please feel free to give this question a shot yourself, if you're up to it. If I like your response, I'll post it alongside my own response to the question.

SuperEgo, consider yourself "banned" until you can give me a satisfactory answer. You may submit your answer anytime between now and next Monday.

So...let's get to it!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Late Night on the Road

I think I'd mentioned at some point that I put together a post at one point over my travels last week. Anyway, call me anachronistic (assuming that's actually a word), but here ya go.

Spiritual Journal: Entry ?

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the incredible, amazing wife you’ve given me. Help me to be a better husband, and give her great patience, Lord. You’re great whether or not you do that, but I’d sure appreciate it.


Last night we rolled into the Austin La Quinta around midnight after a full day of traveling. You know how when you get really tired, you tend to either get silly or short on patience? What do you do when you’re one thing and your wife’s the other. Here’s what I mean.

On the way from the airport to La Quinta, we had the following conversation.

Julie: Is that the 35 up ahead?

Me: Nope.

Julie: …

Me: It’s just 35 here. In Texas, we don’t say THE 35. Just 35, or if you have to add in a prefix, it’s I-35.

Julie: …

Me: You see, saying I-35 actually designates the freeway as an interstate, in case you need to clarify, thus adding value. Saying THE 35 is just a waste of a syllable.

Julie: I’m not in the mood for this now. You are NOT helping.

Me: It’s just another example of how Texas is clearly superior to California. When you say THE 35, you’re just wasting everybody’s time.

Julie: Stop it. I’m serious.

Me: It may be a microcosm that gives insight into larger problems. I mean, time is money, right? So time wasted saying THE 35 translates into some small amount of money, but multiplied by millions of Californians, it becomes a bigger issue!

Julie: Husband! SHUT…UP!!! I’m not in the mood for this now.

Me: On the other hand, Texans know how to make use of precious resources. That’s why Texas has no state income tax, you know.

Julie: *leaps for my throat*

Dear Lord,

Bless my wife. Thank you for her already huge supply of patience, and help me to be less… Well, you know.

Yours truly,


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sonnet time!

So I wrote this blog post the other day on my laptop, but now my laptop is out in the car, and I think it needs to be charged. You'd think I'd be able to work up the energy to go get it. Alas...

Good news though, readers! I have your Saturday night entertainment right here. Another sonnet in iambic pentameter about my big toe! This one's from Katherine, posted without permission. (If she gets upset, I'll take it down...maybe.)


Without further adieu....

You've writ about your toe in perfect rhyme,
Its virtues, and of hair that grows upon't
I must admit I can't recall a time
That I have read a funnier sonnet.

Those photos' worth? A thousand words at least
A sonnet's worth: Just seventy iambs.
I am so grateful that you chose to cease
Short of writing all about your toe jam.

I confess I have begun to fidget
Composing this has taken half an hour
Spending this time contemplating digits
On others' feet -- Ugh, I need to shower.

I hope you've had a lovely little laugh
Excuse me, y'all, I have to take a bath.

Spiritual Journal, entry 6:

Lord, thank you for my friends, both old and new. Light their paths and surprise them with your glory, your love, your providence. Help us to learn from each other, and to always honor you as the one who wove our paths in such a way that they should cross.

In Jesus Name,

Friday, October 9, 2009


Last night we met Julie's dad and brother after our flight home. Julie went ahead while I used the bathroom, and when I caught up I found her talking with a man I didn't know. I figured he was hitting on her. So I puffed up my chest, put a "Don't mess with me" look on my face, and strutted over to her.

I was quickly deflated when I got close enough to hear what he was saying. I won't try to quote him, because it wouldn't do him justice. He spoke eloquently. The bottom line was that he was recently laid off from Boeing where he worked as a machinist. His daughter had recently moved in with him, and brought an infant with her. He apologized for being there, apologized for even having to ask, but he asked nonetheless. He just needed a little money for baby formula.

I asked his name, and he replied, "Warren." I introduced myself and shook his hand. His hand was clean and he had a firm handshake.

Having worked in a manufacturing facility, I at least know what a machinist is and what one does. So I casually asked a couple of questions about his job, just conversationally. Isn't it terrible that my initial instinct is to not trust? I know I'm not alone in that, but...isn't there something messed up about that?

I used to live close to a shopping center where you could almost always count on running into the same guy begging for a handout. I knew his name, and I knew that he had a cocaine addiction. These things I learned through talking with him.

The first time I met that guy, I gave him a few dollars. And I can't tell you how many times after that he asked, not recognizing me. I'd address him by name, and ask him how he was doing with his cocaine problem.

"It's hard." "Not very well." "I'm working on it."

More than once I told him I wouldn't be giving him any money, and to come back to me when he really wanted help. He never did.

I don't know why I tell that story except to paint a stark contrast between that person and the one I met last night. It's not just that Warren was clean and pleasant. It was that he was incredibly lucid, and more importantly, there was a real pain...a shame in his expression that you couldn't miss. And I'm not saying he had any need to be ashamed.

We gave him some money, and I prayed with him. As I prayed, he gripped my hand tightly and began to quiver. Afterward, he wiped away tears and said the prayer was worth more than anything I could have given him. He thanked us for feeding his family and went on his way.

We got in the truck and started driving off when Julie realized we'd forgotten to give something to her dad. So I walked back to the restaurant and went in to drop it off, and I was expecting to see Warren back at the door, talking with someone else. But I didn't.

After we left, I wished we'd given him more, despite our own tough financial situation. Then I realized that what we gave him was enough, because he'd left the parking lot.

I don't really have a moral lesson, and I realize that just telling that sounds like bragging for doing the right thing. I'm really just telling you because I'd never seen something like that happen. And I know as a man how difficult it is when you can't support your family. It feels like you've been castrated of your manhood. Men that have been there understand.

I wonder if I'd be so brave as to stand outside a restaurant and beg to feed my family. I'd like to think I would, but I'm not so sure. So maybe that's my point. That guy was a hero. At least I think he was. So maybe, if you're the praying type, or even if you're not, pray for Warren. Pray for his family. Pray that he'll have a job by the end of the week. I believe he will.

And thanks for listening. Maybe I just needed to get that out.

Spiritual Journal, entry 5:

God, come in power and move in Warren's life.
Provide for his family, and go before him in every job interview.
Grow his faith and his character now like only You know how.
Give him a testimony to share.
Make us thankful for your provision.

In Jesus Name,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On the Road Again

I'm trying to remember if I mentioned how much we've been traveling lately. You may have heard about Jet Blue's All-You-Can-Fly offer, where for $599 you can take as many Jet Blue flights as you want between September 8 and October 8.

We were planning on doing a big trip to visit all our potential Ph.D. schools around this time of year anyway, and since that would invariably cost more than $599, we jumped on the offer. And we figured, while we're at it, that we might as well plan a few additional trips as well.

So in the past month, I've already been camping, ridden on a subway, swam with sharks, and slept two nights on a plane. And we're just getting started.

Tomorrow we leave for Chicago, where we'll get in a car and drive North to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the home of Marquette University. Then we fly to Boston, where we have a number of appointments scheduled at Boston University. Along the way we may stop at Boston College and Harvard, cause...hey, why not, right? Then we fly to Austin, Texas, make a three hour drive to Waco, meet a few people at Baylor, drive back to Austin, and then... Wonder of wonders... We get to come home.

Along the way I'll be meeting with some of the top researchers in my focus area of theology, seeing one of the most historic cities in our country, and going to Waco. We've been working toward this for over two years now. And all I can do is think about how great it will be to be home again.

I like home. My stuff is here. Given the choice, I'll pick home over travel almost every time. (Though I've got to admit, my recent trip to the Bahamas was pretty fun too.)

But enough of that... (Good transition, huh? I'm such a great writer.)

On to more important things.

MY BIG TOE: A Sonnet in Iambic Pentameter

Which toe comes first of all the toes I know?
It is the big one on my own left foot.
Superior among the toes I've grown.
To find a lov'lier one you'd be hard put.

"It looks like many other toes I've seen!"
So many have pronounced it commonplace.
But few have been so erudite to keen,
Its eleganct uncomplicated grace.

How fortunate a gentleman am I
To have this wondrous toe all to myself.
It needs no help from leg or foot or thigh,
To be impressive in and of itself.

No other digit sets my heart aglow,
For poetry in motion is my toe!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moderation powers.... Activate!

Well, it's a sad day on this blog when I have to moderate comments. You may have noticed that I deleted a few yesterday, not because they made me mad, but because they made Julie mad. That's not ok with me.

Let it therefore be known that for the immediate future I reserve the right to remove any comment that I do not deem constructive. Who am I to make that decision? Well, it's my blog, see. If I decide I want to pick a day and only post pictures of my big toe with commentary in iambic pentameter, I can do that. (Actually, that would probably be funny. Maybe I should do that.)

Spritual Journal, entry 4:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

And please help me to get off my butt and write my thesis.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Spiritual Journal, Entry 3:

Dear Lord,

Please help me not to freak out over the stupid GRE, even though my entire future hangs on my score, and I only get one shot, and I have to do well in math even though I haven't had math in over twenty years and theologians don't need math anyway, and where do they get off...!!

I digress, Lord.

Guide me to the right private tutor, and not some goofball that thinks he's smart cause he has a BA in math from San Diego State and scored in the 90th percentile on the GRE. Cause him to stumble; entangle him because I have not the time for his idiocy.

And Lord, help me to be less sarcastic in my Spiritual Formation class, even though it's so hard not to make jokes in there. Or just give my teacher a better sense of humor. Either way, Lord. I don't really care.

Bless the leftover pizza I am about to eat for lunch. Let it not clog my arteries or bring me to an early demise.

Bless my wife. Bring her favor in her job, and humble her boss so that he might understand his bellybutton is not, in fact, the center of the universe. Thank you for her job.

Thank you, gracious God, that in my recent trip to New York City I did not get mugged, nor did the subway come to ruin, even though I don't think I've ever seen a subway in a movie where something bad did not happen.

Thank you for the hidden blessings in that trip, like the unplanned detour to Coney Island because I got on the right train but headed in the wrong direction.

God bless our puppy. Help me not to beat the crap out of him, even if he deserves it. Help him to understand, oh Lord, that pooping on the carpet is not ok, and that chewing on my nose to wake me up is not ok, and that chewing on electrical cords is not ok, and that sleeping on top of my face is not ok, even though it's cute and makes me laugh.

Bless my friends across the world. Starving children, blah-da-blah, the President, etc., so on and so forth.

Yours truly,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

David faces a giant

Spiritual Journal, Entry 2:

Dear Lord,



Folks, I'm feeling in over my head again. A few months ago I was put in contact with Donald Hustad. If any of you know who that is, you get a cookie. For the rest of you, I'll explain.

There is a particular branch of theology that deals with the practical application of music in church. My first masters degree concerned itself primarily with this topic, and now in my second, I find I am approaching many of the same issues from a different angle.

Donald Hustad has been the leading figure in the evangelical church's work on sacred music for the last half century or so. He is also one of the primary figures in the global church's study of sacred music. In his spare time, he spent a few decades touring with Billy Graham.

Ok, let's stop right there and just consider that. For years and years, Billy Graham went around the world leading millions to Christ while "Softly and Tenderly" played gently in the background. And the guy playing "Softly and Tenderly?" His name was Donald Hustad.

A few years ago he went into retirement, and now, in the winter of his life, he has taken time to review my thesis.

Cool, huh? Scary too.

After reading my first chapter, he encouraged me to read some of his previous writing and critique it with regard to the thesis topic.

Holy #@&&!
How am I supposed to do that?

. . .

Ok, pointless post. Have a good night, folks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My name is David.

Well, reader, if you haven't done so already, go to the bathroom, grab some potato chips, and get comfortable. I have a feeling this is gonna be a long one. As for me, I'm going to try to be coherent, but even as I sit down to this blog for the first time in a long time, I have no idea what's gonna come out.

Let's start at the beginning.

My name is David. What happened to Solid, you ask? He got broken.

A few weeks ago, I went to see the movie "Julie and Julia." I know, I know. But I love Julie. Oh yeah, did I mention I have a wife named Julie? We also have a dog named Zeke, although he also goes by...

Zeke E. Pants
Ezekiel Edward Pants
The Pants
Señor Pantalones
Mr. Pants, sir.
Puppy puppy
Puppy puppy puppy

There may be more. I can't remember. Zeke is a mix between a Yorkshire Terrier and a piranha.

Trust me. He's more dangerous than he looks.

Anyway, we were watching "Julie and Julia," which is a movie about a girl named Julie that blogs about her experiences going through the entire Julia Child cookbook one recipe at a time. And right in the middle of the movie, I started crying.

Let's back up a little.

I don't cry. I do have a strange medical disorder that causes my eyes to leak a watery tear-like substance from time to time (particularly during sad movies), but I do not cry. It's not a choice. I won't fault anyone who does cry. I just don't. I try sometimes and it doesn't work.

And "Julie and Julia" isn't a particularly sad movie. Unless you're a lobster, of course.

Julie (my Julie) asked if I wanted to leave the theater. I pulled myself together and said no. But as soon as we got to the truck, I lost it.

The movie made me remember how much I enjoyed writing this blog. And I'd like to say those tears were for you, dear reader, whom I have missed so terribly, but such is not the case. I was crying because I realized that Solid wasn't Solid anymore.

I still don't really know what happened. Within a period of a week my mother-in-law died and I was laid off from my job. Then there was the pressure of the Ph.D. applications I'm trying to pull together, which... Well, I'll leave that for another day. Let's just say it's traumatic in and of itself. And then one day I found myself in front of a computer, unable to even edit a paragraph in my thesis.

My name is David. I live in San Diego. I don't have all the answers.

There. I said it. I feel all squishy and vulnerable now.

Tonight I started the Fall quarter. It's Spiritual Formation this quarter. We're supposed to keep a journal. My teacher didn't think it was possible to express myself honestly in a blog, but I'd like to give it a shot.

I don't remember if I've ever mentioned this, but two big reasons I started blogging in the first place were my pastor encouraging me to share myself more and a friend challenging me on the fact that I don't readily open up my life to people. I really want to open myself up too.

So let's get started. My spiritual journal, day 1:

I'm a friggin' mess. Even as I write that, I must congratulate myself because friggin' was actually the word I said in my head, and not the other one. Some of my readers have known me for a very long time. Those that know me best will tell you that I don't cuss unless things are pretty messed up in my life.

Let me get judgmental for a minute. Is the rule that I can be judgmental as long as I admit I'm doing it? That should be the rule.

What's up with Christians that say they don't drink because they don't want to set a bad example or give people the wrong idea about them, and then they'll get their picture taken with a glass of sparkling cider? Dude! Didn't you pretty much just defeat your own purpose there?? If you're not drinking because of appearances, then don't appear to be drinking!

That's not really the point though, is it? What I meant to say is why would you use foul language if you're so concerned about appearances??

Let's just save that rabbit trail for another day. And I shouldn't be judgmental like that anyway. Please, drink your apple juice and use whatever words you want. What do I care?

Anyway, I've started cussing again. I'm not exactly a potty-mouth, mind you. We're talking two or three rated-PG words a week. But as I've told many people in the past, my language is a window into my spiritual condition. This is true for no one in the world but me, as far as I know. But if you ever hear me using a four-letter word, I'm probably pretty messed up inside.

And I'm really messed up right now.

I do have to say that it's getting better. I can write again. I can do my work, such as it is. But if my head is above water, it's only barely there.

Oh yeah. Y'know that picture I have of myself swimming in the Caribbean off the shores of St. John? The one that's probably to the left of this very post? Yeah... That was me two-and-a-half years ago. I tipped the scales at about 200 then. Now I'm almost 250.

How's that for honesty? And yes, that's Zeke. As long as I'm being honest, I should admit that I really love that little fluffball. Even if he is part pirhana.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How's my new grandpuppy?

I think I've been reluctant to start writing again because I'm worried about opening a floodgate of raw emotion from the last few weeks. Like I said before, my wife's mother passed away unexpectedly on June 25th, and it's been one of the toughest things I've ever had to go through. Seeing my wife hurt so much for so long, not to mention the rest of her family. There have been a few good things to come of this too though.

For example, two days ago I saw a smile on Wifey's face that you usually don't see on anyone over the age of twelve. She'll be so mad at me for putting up this awful cell phone picture, but you've gotta see it.

What's that she's holding? That would be her new puppy. His name is Zeke. He's a Yorkshire Terrier, and I'm the world's biggest softy. Here's another picture of him...

He's really much cuter in person too. This morning I got a short email from my mom. It inspired my return to the blogosphere, after almost a month of absence.


Just had to share this one with you! How's my new grandpuppy?
[Incidentally, "cm?" Are those your initials, or an abbreviation of "Congenial Mother?"]

[Attached: forwarded email about the Texas heat, which becomes a huge conversational topic this time of year]


Asleep! YAAAAAAAYYYY!!!! Last night we made a run to Petsmart and a lady there told us that babies are much easier than Yorkie puppies. We thought that was ridiculous, and then I thought about it a little bit. He won't sleep through the night, requires attention every moment he's awake right now, and has stinky poop you have to clean up (and wipe his bottom). BUT! No diapers, and he can run.

Last night he did pretty well. He decided we were ready to go to bed about eleven, and then slept until one, when he decided it was playtime. He was adamant about that. So Wifey tried to work her magic, and then I took him out to the living room, let him run on his leash, and played, "I want up I want down" for a while. (Remember that game?)

So about 1:50 I decided to just block off everything I didn't want him to get to in the bedroom. I used plywood scraps, large books, and a chair turned on its side while Julie held him in the bed. When I finally finished, I turned to Julie. She shrugged and gestured to the puppy, who had just laid his head down and gone to sleep, snuggled up against her belly. Fortunately, he made it through the rest of the night.

A couple more interesting things...

His favorite food is my sweat. We have no air conditioner, so I'm constantly covered in puppy slobber.

He thinks my feet are his natural prey. He must attack them on sight, especially when they try to run (walk) away from him.

Finally, he's convinced my nipples have milk. So much for walking around the house without a shirt.

He's really cute though. Especially when he's asleep.

Love you,


Dear Readers,

Thanks for your patience with me while I've been gone. It's unlikely I'll be going back to posting every day right now, but I'm going to try to write something at least two or three times a week. Bear with me though. Life hasn't really returned to normal, but I guess I do have a lot to talk about.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Where'd you go?

I wanted to get online to give a quick update to those of you that have wondered as to why I've been silent for the last couple of days.  I may or may not to able to post at any point in the next three weeks or so.

My wife's dear mother passed away very unexpectedly yesterday.  They really were best friends.  She was undergoing a hip replacement, and it was supposed to be a routine procedure.  Unfortunately, a blood clot travelled from the area of the surgery to her heart, and after an hour of efforts, the surgeons were unable to revive her.

Needless to say, it's been...well, pretty much impossible.  We're in Las Vegas with my father-in-law and brother-in-law, and everybody's just trying to make it through a day at a time.  I can't believe it was just yesterday.

The most ridiculous thing is that I don't feel like it should be affecting me as much as it is.  I loved her.  I'm sad about a lot of things.  But my heart breaks for what my wife is going through.  I keep sneaking off to cry.  It's so stupid.


Answering impossible questions is sort of the purpose of this blog.  I really get a kick out of it.  But today I was sitting in a room with a pastor, and was about to say something when my wife came in crying uncontrollably.  I'll tell you instead.

At this point, I'm almost done with my second Masters degree in theology.  I expect to graduate summa cum laude.  I've worked in ministry for over fifteen years.  And I have no answers that are really sufficient.  How?  Why?  I could lecture on the theological development on modern theodicy, which is supposed to deal with that stuff, but it's just not good enough when you're in the thick of it.

Why did this happen?
The world's broken.

Where was God when she died?
The same place he was when his own son died.  On the throne of grace, looking down with love and compassion.

How did it happen?
Blood clot, doctors, the world's broken...  I don't know.

I don't know.

None of it's good enough.

I can only hug you, and love you, and hold your hand, and kiss your forehead, and not leave your side.  Those are the closest things to answers I can come up with right now.


I didn't mean to write this much.  My wife needs me.  Thank you all for your kind thoughts, for your prayers, and for your condolences.  Someday I'll have a little more to say...maybe.  Right now I have other things to do.


P.S. I swear that if anyone tries to take me on with this stuff, I'll smack you back into the third grade.  Or worse, I'll sick Katherine on you.  In fact, yeah.  Katherine, until I'm back on top of things, you can be my bulldog.  Much love, old friend.  Much love to all of you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who would win in a fight between Superman and the Hulk?

For today's blog, I humbly offer a letter I submitted today to Eddie Pappani, of The Mikey Show. In case you're new here, I'm a fan. Of The Mikey Show. And comic books. And trying to sound smart. Enjoy.

Dear Eddie,

I thoroughly enjoyed this morning’s “nerd debate” regarding a hypothetical physical altercation between Superman and the Hulk. With all respect, I believe you argued your position better than either of the designated debaters. Nonetheless, I take issue with your position. In other words, you, sir, are wrong.

As an aficionado of video games, I rest assured you are familiar with the concept of “kiting” wherein a combatant with ranged attacks maintains a sufficient distance between himself and his opponent so that he will suffer no damage, all the time performing ranged attacks designed to eventually undo his opponent and gain the victory. Superman has a natural ranged attack in his “heat vision,” whereas Hulk has none.

Ah! But Hulk can throw rocks, you say! Indeed he can. This is where we come to one of two critical areas where Superman can potentially supersede the Hulk. I am speaking of super-speed. No matter how powerful the Hulk may become, if he cannot land a blow on Superman, the point is moot.

Yes, I anticipate your next argument as well, and am ready to answer it. Indeed, as the Hulk’s anger rises so with it will rise his power in all respects, and with it, his invulnerability. (His speed may be affected as well, but such conjecture is only theoretical.) At best, we find ourselves in a position where the proverbial “unstoppable force” has met the “immovable object.” Is it possible that Superman can never destroy a Hulk whose invulnerability is unlimited?

Perhaps. However, the question of who would win the fight may be answered by a simple consideration of Newtonian physics. Superman’s power of flight allows him to change direction in midair, while the Hulk’s does not. Consider then the following scenario:

The Hulk gathers his power, and with a mighty leap that causes the very earth to shake, he vaults into the air on a collision course with the Man of Steel. His rage has reached such a point that one punch might well end the Kryptonian in a way even Doomsday might never have imagined.

Superman moves to the side, allows the Hulk to pass, and hits him from behind with a blast from his heat vision, inflicting damage and propelling the Hulk further into space.

One of two things will happen at this point. Either the Hulk will die of oxygen depletion outside the Earth’s atmosphere or if Superman has aimed well, the Hulk will be on a near endless course through the depths of space as he leaves not only the Earth’s atmosphere but also the boundaries first of our solar system, and many, many years after his massive body has begun to rot, eventually leaves the Milky Way galaxy itself to drift forever in darkness.

The Hulk has one great hope. Fortunately for him, the writers at DC Comics are not nearly so creative as to be able to come up with such a solution, as evidenced by Superman’s tragic encounter with Doomsday, which could well have ended similarly. The Hulk, on the other hand, has Stan Lee, Avi Arad, and the rest of the Marvel Comics team behind him, who would never so much as consider introducing a character so overpowered as Superman only to waste such potential on simple matters such as crime-fighting.

My conclusion, therefore, is that while the Hulk might well lose in a fight to Superman, Marvel Comics are clearly superior to DC Comics, as should be self-evident at this point.

Thank you,

P1 Solid

Monday, June 22, 2009

Strongest dad in the world?

Wow! Yesterday Pastor Dave shared a video in church that really got me, and I wanted to pass it on. I've attached it at the bottom, but it'll help if I give you a little background information. The following is taken from

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk. For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines.

At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

In 1975, Rick was finally admitted into a public school. Two years later, he told his father he wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.

Dick, far from being a long-distance runner, agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. They finished next to last, but they felt they had achieved a triumph. That night, Dick remembers, "Rick told us he just didn’t feel handicapped when we were competing."

Rick’s own accomplishments, quite apart from the duo’s continuing athletic success, have included his moving on from high school to Boston University, where he graduated in 1993 with a degree in special education. That was followed a few weeks later by another entry in the Boston Marathon.

As he fondly pictured it: "On the day of the marathon from Hopkinton to Boston people all over the course were wishing me luck, and they had signs up which read 'Congratulations on your graduation!’"

Rick now works at Boston College’s computer laboratory helping to develop a system codenamed "Eagle Eyes," through which mechanical aids (like for instance a powered wheelchair) could be controlled by a paralyzed person’s eye-movements, when linked-up to a computer.

Together the Hoyts don’t only compete athletically; they also go on motivational speaking tours, spreading the Hoyt brand of inspiration to all kinds of audiences, sporting and non-sporting, across the country.

By the way, Dick Hoyt is 65 years old. That's what I call Solid.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Why isn't Fathers Day a bigger deal?

Ok, let’s be real here. Mothers Day is just a bigger deal than Fathers Day. No, they’re not just “different.” Do you remember all the Mothers Day marketing last month? And then Fathers Day comes around, and it’s like the stores all of a sudden go, “Ah, shoot! It’s Fathers Day! Let’s…um…put ties on sale.”

We got my mom this beautiful flower arrangement this year. Dad’s getting a card. (Did you hear that, Dad? Enjoy your friggin’ card. You’ll probably get it, like…I don’t know. Wednesday? You can blame me for that—not Wifey.) So what’s the deal? My dad is great! We love our dads, right? I have a theory.

When I was a kid, my dad used to drive an old Ford Pinto. It was originally my mom’s car, but then she got something else and it was passed on to dad. That car was a real piece. And I don’t mean a museum piece.

Every morning we’d hear, “RrrRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrRRrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrr!” as he tried to get it started up. Finally it just wouldn't start anymore. I think he sold it for a couple hundred dollars.

Then he got a canary yellow Toyota Corolla hatchback. He bought it from a guy that worked for him, and it already had about 100,000 miles on it. He drove it into the ground. That thing finally died after around 250,000 miles.

Mom had much nicer cars. That’s just how things worked in our family. I remember vowing that when I was grown up, I’d have nice cars. They’d at least be as nice as my wife’s.

Nope. I drive a Nissan Sentra with a big dent in the fender. It’s not quite the equivalent of that old Pinto, but my wife’s car is easily worth twice what mine is.

So here’s my theory. Mothers Day is a bigger deal because we like it that way. By we, I mean men. Yeah, there’s also that nine months in the womb thing, and some other stuff, but I think the biggest reason is that we (men) want Mothers Day to be a bigger deal.

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her…”

-Ephesians 5:25

My dad laid down so much for us. I don’t know a lot of guys that have done what he’s done. A lot of people’s dads have lives marked by success. And they learned that from their dads.

Know what I learned from my dad? Sacrifice. My mom and dad were separated for a year between 1989 and 1990. It’s not that they wanted to be, or that they were fighting or angry or anything. Dad just couldn’t find work in the town where we lived. So he lived and worked in Dallas and drove home to see us on the weekends. We probably should have just gone with him right away, and finally did, but mom and dad didn’t want to uproot us.

What did he do in the evenings? He cooked. He always said he enjoyed it, but now that we’re all out of the house, he doesn’t really cook anymore. Dad’s cooking was legendary among my friends.

Dad got sober almost a decade ago. He never touches alcohol anymore, unless he’s grabbing a beer out of the fridge for Mom. While I was growing up, Dad drank…a lot. I don’t know for sure why. I mean, he grew up with the understanding that you’re supposed to have a drink after work, but I think the biggest reason was that it was just his way of dealing with everything – the death of his father in 1981, the loss of the family store, financial ruin, foreclosure. I could go on, but I won’t. The thing is…we knew about that stuff, but mostly just cognitively. Mom and Dad protected us from it all. They never dumped their problems on us. They made leftover beans for supper fun (sort of).

A couple of days ago I wrote about how we wait on God to give us worldly blessings when he gives us so much more than that. He gives us what we need to become who he’s created us to be.

With my dad, it was a lot like that too. Dad wanted to give us things that cost money. I’m sure he wanted life to be easier, and I’m sure he still does. My dad gave me character, values, and the ability to prioritize the things that are most important. He taught me sacrifice. A lot of people never learn that.

Thanks for laying down your life for us, Dad. You gave us what we needed, instead of what we all wanted. What you taught us is more valuable than material things.

I don’t say, “I hope I’ll be as good a dad as you someday.” I know I’ll be a good dad. I was watching. I learned.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Enjoy your friggin’ card.