Thursday, June 30, 2005

By By, Edison High.

Accountability visits the Dade County Public School District.
Lousy Nita-ism.

"He moves like dead lice is [sic] falling off of him!"

This refers to someone who is moving very slowly, getting in the way, and has no idea that he is inconveniencing the rest of the world, especially my mother.

I do not know what falling dead lice have to do with someone moving slowly and obliviously. Sorry. I'll ask her sometime.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Summer Vacation! Carol and I are heading to Montreat, NC, on Friday, driving our Ford van (now up to 110,000 miles plus), pulling our camper. On the way up, we will visit Carol's Aunt Evelyn in Spindale, NC, Friday night, and then drive to Montreat after lunch on Saturday. An organization called "Presbyterians for Renewal" (also known as "PFR")puts on a "Christian Life Conference" annually at Montreat College about this time, and we have built our summer vacations around that event since the summer before Macon's junior year in high school. It has preaching, teaching, music, prayer and worship, and seminars on various subjects. (Macon and I both have taught seminars at the conference in past years, but none this year.) The featured speaker this year is Anne Graham Lotz, one of Billy Graham's children. The conference will begin Saturday evening and carry through until noon on Tuesday. Mary will meet us there Saturday night and spend the rest of our vacation with us. (This week she is in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip with her church. We are looking forward to hearing all about it. Maybe she will post on that adventure.)

At noon on Tuesday, we will drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Pisgah campground and camp that night, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday, Carol and Mary will depart together for Austin, driving Mary's SUV, and I will head south for Miami, stopping in Eastman, Georgia, to visit my Aunt Ann.

I am taking an amateur radio station with me to set up when we camp. (If I get a chance I may set it up at other points along the way, but I am anxious to see what it will do up on the ridge near Mt. Pisgah itself. The campground is the highest campground on the Parkway, over 5000 feet.) The radio station will consist of the following:

1. A portable antenna, known as a Buddipole.

2. A small transceiver that I built from a kit, an OHR 100A. It produces a "continuous wave" ("CW") signal of about 5 watts on the 20 meter ham band. CW refers to Morse code transmissions: no microphone, just a telegraph key.

3. A digital frequency meter that I also built from a kit, so that I can tell precisely what frequency I am on.

4. A 12 volt lead-cell battery that I bought from RadioShack to power the transceiver and frequency meter.

5. A set of earphones that I borrowed from an old Walkman.

6. Various leads and connectors with which to string all of this together.

7. Should regular AC power be available, a power supply.

We will take our laptop along, just in case we find a place to connect to the internet. But we may not be posting very much for about 10 days, beginning Friday.
On Your Own Petard, Mr. Associate Justice! Thanks to Instapundit for pointing us to this article.

(As to "Hoisted on his own petard" see this link.)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mobi-blogging
Posting from 210 in the Comfort Inn, Greenville, AL (exit 130 on I-65). Over the course of my life, I've now driven all of I-85 (Petersburg, VA to Montgomery, AL). Scott McClintock and I are on our way to Austin, driving the 4runner, towing the Matrix on a uhaul "auto transporter".

We took some pictures en route, one of the giant peach in Gaffney, SC, and then of a dilapidated old southern house immediately behind a modern gas station just South of Atlanta. Shocking news of the day: we hit construction related traffic in Atlanta. But because of Scott's quick map reading, we took the last available exit and detoured on some back country GA roads.

The last 45 minutes of the trip tonight were accompanied by Boston (the album) by Boston (the band). Fantastic road trip music! We were singing along at the top of our lungs, which helped us to stay awake, in addition to generally making us appear very like unto actual Rock Stars. In other music news, when crossing the GA/AL state line, of course we played "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, followed by "Sweet Home Al," by B.A.M.A.

Tomorrow morning we'll depart ~6am for an afternoon arrival time in Austin, TX.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Blogroll Updated with "McClintock's and Those" Presbyterians are big on "connectedness".
Nita-ism and theology (or maybe good manners).

"Lord willing and the creek don't rise" or "God willing and the creek don't rise."

As in, "I'll see you in Atlanta next week, Lord willing and the creek don't rise."

Cf. James 4:13-15.

This expression leads me to this question: Doesn't the Lord have control of the creek? If He wills something, won't we be able to ford the creek? What does the expression seem to be saying? That both the "spiritual world" and the "natural world" have to have some congruency before whatever I want to accomplish can be accomplished and that there is no causal connection between the two worlds? Is this a sort of Southern gnosticism we are dealing with?

Or does this say something about the speaker, not about God. Yes, the Lord may will I do something, but I don't know if I can handle a rising creek. Whatever it is I am setting out to do, I'll do it if the Lord is willing and I don't have to put myself at risk. We have, then, a concession to one's own weakness. We are getting as far away from being arrogant as we can. So there is either a sense of one's limitations being expressed here or, maybe, simply a sort of politeness. Maybe both.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lest you should wonder

In reflecting on my movie post, I realized that I'd failed to list the greatest of all movies, Miller's Crossing, as my number one.

Honestly, also as number one, I should list Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums and The Life Aquatic.

In recognition of Tom and Mark's Coldplay-suffering,

the worst of all bands, as compiled by Walter:
311
Korn
Limp Bizkit
Train
Smashmouth
Uncle Kracker
Kid Rock
and for having to suffer through them to see The Fire Theft from the VIP section at Stubb's: Saves The Day
Last Videos From Charlotte

For your Aidan viewing pleasure:
Sk8erBoi
Pictures At Bathtime

And now I must stop putting off the sad work of finishing my last bit of InterVarsity Staffwork.
Good News & Bad News
Good news first: Scott and the McClintock family have their own blog now! Does this mean he'll post less on K&K? I hope not.

Bad news: Scott has been using his shiny new blog to keep folks updated on his recent diagnosis of Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL), a flavor of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. (Yes, that Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, what Dad (Paul) had. has? what do you say when it's in remission?)

I'll let you peruse the "McClintock's and Those Family Blog" to hear about the updates on Scott's cancer in his own words, but the quick and dirty is that, while serious (This, kids, is where we get the phrase, "As serious as cancer."), it could be a whole lot worse & the doctors think they've caught it early enough that there are treatments that don't involve chemo or radiation. They won't have the "official" diagnosis until after the body CT scan, but that's the current diagnosis anyway. But still, you can read the "I've got cancer" post and the latest update.
Batman Begins, Are we Happy about That? I think so. Carol, Mary, our friend Ron, and I saw it last night. The acting made you connect with the characters and helped the film involve you in its "plausible implausibility", but its the first film that I have seen in a long time where I just did not get some of the things that were happening.

[Warning: The following comments give away great portions of the plot. So if you haven't seen it, maybe you should stop reading.]

For example, now and then Batman is able to overhear conversations by way of some sort of handheld radio. (I wonder what his call sign is? Does he ever get on HF? CW or phone? What does he think of PSK? He apparently builds some of his own stuff, which is cool.) But I don't understand where the pick-up is on the other end of the conversation. I missed something. Maybe someone can help me.

I liked the Batmobile, although I understand that it has been a subject of some controversy. We will surely see a smaller version at RadioShack before Christmas. Can't wait.

The greatest creation was the elevated train. And the sets otherwise were great.

At first I thought that Katie Holmes was nowhere near Kirsten Durst, but as the movie developed I warmed to her. She was best in that last scene, where she says a number of things to Bruce Wayne which made no sense to me, but she delivered those lines in a profoundly charming way. I would have lost the cape at that point, Bruce. Something must have happened on that trek up the mountain with the flower.

Did you notice the little .38 that Bruce carried into the court room? (No metal detectors?) It had an exposed hammer. That's a no-no for a carry. Obviously, his education at Princeton was deficient.

I was surprised that the monks up in the monestary turned into what they insisted they were not: murderous vigilantes. The turn of events where Bruce sets the place on fire pushed me outside for a moment, where I simply shook my head, and then returned inside the movie. Didn't Bruce see that coming? Where did those guys connect spiritually? Where did they get their idea that evil is bad and good is good? Maybe it was the lack of oxygen up there on the mountain. And then Liam turns up as the over-arching bad guy at the end of the film. I did not see that coming, and I'm pretty good at figuring these things out. But it was after 9:00 PM when we got into the second half of the movie, so I was in a shut-down mode. But really, that twist didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Liam, apparently, now has the wise mentor franchise. I wonder if he would come down to Miami and give me a hand with Juan.

In some of the scenes where Batman is in full regalia and he is talking to someone, I wanted to jump up on the screen and adjust his mask. It looked a little askew. But maybe its the same sort of thing as guys wearing their baseball caps with the bill askew.

The fight scenes shot with a handheld got a little tedious. (It takes me back to the battle scene in Gladiator, which is probably where the director got that approach.) The first time was interesting in the prison yard, but after that I wanted to step back and see what was going on. I guess the people from the Matrix franchise were busy.

You had to like the major Gotham villain. I hated to see him end up tied down to a chair muttering "scarecrow". In with a bang, out with a whimper. That first scene in the restaurant was a classic. I hope they bring him back. (I think my liking for him is a generational thing: Middle aged guy setting the young buck straight. You have to like that when, next month, you turn 59.)

The psychiatrist villain reminds me of the sort of person who works at Starbucks. Is there some connection? I couldn't figure out who was more beautiful, he or Katie. I'm not talking about where I would want to go with a relationship with one or the other. I'm just looking at the question objectively.

What was Liam thinking as the train went into space? (Maybe: "Will they remember me in this or will they remember me in Schindler's List? I know they won't remember me in Star Wars I, which is somewhat of a relief. But what about this one? I'm concerned.") The director stole that idea from Michael Mann, who always gives the villain just a moment of introspection before he steps out of this life.

Batman's voice was a little contrived, I thought. But maybe the suit was a little tight around the neck.

"Is it what you do or who you are?" (And the answer is . . . ) Weren't you surprised that Batman let the cat out of the bag to Katie? Given what she thought of him as Bruce Wayne, I certainly would have. But this violates all superhero conventions. I guess this little development, going against that particular convention, is what made the whole movie seem so real to me. No question about what I would do. "Katie, its me in here, Bruce. Are you free for dinner, tonight?")

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

X + Y

What do you all think of the new Coldplay album? As background music, I really like it. I'm not sure that it's really doing anything for me lyrically. At the same time, the bar is pretty low for pop lyrics.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Because Pavel says it better than I

That's a 72 lb kettlebell Pavel's hoisting. Not your spinning class, indeed.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Welcome Crumleys and Campbells

Our friends Rachel and Paul Crumley and Megan and John Campbell will soon have babies keeping them up at night.

I gave them the low down on the blog here as a means of transmitting edited clips of baby goodness. emphasis on edited.

Not that any of these stunning Aidan clips are unedited. We were just talking about sitting through an hour of VHS camcorder footage for 2 minutes of substance. Home movies no longer need be such a burden.
One more week here in the Elizabeth Community in Charlotte. We've only been living here for two months, but we will be very sad to leave this charming neighborhood. Architecturally, the neighborhood is full of Bungalows: Old, New & Refurbished. We're leaving with a photo record of the neighborhood, which you can see a portion of here.
Happy Father's Day from Aidan.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Eighteen and Out. The State of Florida has a foster care program as most, if not all, states do. Children in this program are either orphans or are "dependent" children whose parents cannot take care of them or that the state will not allow to take care of them. Some of these children are kept in foster homes, but many are institutionalized, that is, they live in such places as The Children's Home Society.

At age 18, they are no longer children under Florida law. They are adults. And they are cast out of the foster care system when they reach "adulthood". Can you imagine that? They are in foster care in the first place because they have no family capable of helping them appropriately. And then, at age 18, they are on their own.

This came to my attention several months ago at a meeting of the board of directors of the Dade County Bar Association. The DCBA supports a very good legal aid clinic, and the director at one of our meetings described to us a day-long program in which she had participated with several other agencies and corporations. The day-long program was for these foster children who had just turned 18. The purpose of the program was to help orient them to the "real" world. For example, there were people in the real estate world who gave them a very short course on renting an apartment. Bank of America had a representative who not only helped them open a bank account on the spot, but also dropped in $100 for each child.

Last night at the Youth for Christ board meeting, one of the staff members spoke to us about her work at the Children's Home Society, the agency that I mentioned above. This agency allows her to come in two evenings a week and talk to teenagers about Jesus Christ. (The teenagers are not forced to attend her classes, of course; its up to them.) She has had quite a bit of success. But she also spoke of the "18 and out" problem.

She said that many of these children have no where to go, except back to the family from which the welfare agency extracted them. She gave an example of one child, who had been given a stipend upon "graduating" from the CHS, returning to the home in which the parents were "crackheads". She said that within a week, the parents had stolen everything that had been given this young "adult". Although not part of her ministry, this staff person is mentoring four young women who have reached 18, giving them some guidance as to how to deal with the real world. No wonder such children are thirsty for the gospel.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batteries in a Portable World. This book by Isidor Buchman is written for the non-engineer, well-written and very helpful. You can buy it (its on Amazon) or you can go here and read it for free.

Here is what Buchman says in his "Author's Note" at the beginning of the book:

"In the battery field, there is no black and white, but many shades of gray. In fact, the battery behaves much like a human being. It is mystical, unexplainable and can never be fully understood. For some users, the battery causes no problems at all, for others it is nothing but a problem. Perhaps a comparison can be made with the aspirin. For some, it works to remedy a headache, for others the headache gets worse. And no one knows exactly why."

Here is an engineer who must have had a good liberal arts, undergradute education.
The real shipoopi.

You may have seen Walter's complimentary comment about the title to my previous post. I chose it because it was the first word to pop into my head as I began to consider The Music Man. I made two mistakes, however: one, I spelled it wrong; and two, I perhaps misled you about its meaning given its context. To set the record straight, then, here are the lyrics to Shipoppi, the song that the little fat man not only dances to, but also sings, in one of the best scenes in the movie.

Shipoopi

Now a woman who'll kiss on a very 1st date,
Is usually a hussy,
And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out,
Is anything but fussy,
But a woman who'll wait 'till the 3rd time around,
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground,
She's the girl he's glad he's found,
She's his Shipoopi.

Shipoopi, Shipoopi, Shipoopi,
The girl is hard to get.
Shipoopi, Shipoopi, Shipoopi,
But you can win her yet.

Walk her once just to raise the curtain,
Then you walk around twice and you make for certain.
Once more in the flower garden,
She will never get sore if you beg her pardon.

Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do,
Si, la, sol, fa, mi, re, do.

Squeeze her once when she isn't lookin'.
If you get a squeeze back that's fancy cookin'.
Once more for a pepper-upper,

She will never get sore on her way to supper,

Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do, si, do,

Now little ol' sal was a No-gal,
As anyone could see,
Look at her now, She's a Go-Gal,
Who only goes for me,

Squeeze her once when she isn't lookin'.
If you get a squeeze back that's fancy cookin'.
Once more for a pepper-upper,
She will never get sore on her way to supper,

Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do, si, do,

Shipoopi, shipoopi, shipoopi,
The girl is hard to get,
Shipoopi, shipoopi, shipoopi,
But you can win her yet.

(Musical/Dance Break)

Shipoopi, Shipoopi, Shipoopi,
The girl is hard to get.
Shipoopi, shipoopi, shipoopi,
But you can win her yet.

You Can Win Her Yet!

Shipoopi!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Nita Stories. Juanita, my mother, grew up in a suburb of Atlanta called East Point. So she grew up with a North Georgia accent. Actually, accent is a little light to describe the way she talks. She talks very Southern, even at this point in her life, after living in Miami for 60 or so of her 85 years.

My theory about her not losing her accent is that she is tone deaf. She sings pitifully or hilariously. She says that when she gets to heaven, she expects that, finally, she will be able to sing. However, her inability to carry a tune did not ever stop her from singing out the hymns that checkered our Southern Baptist liturgy. I was impressed into attending the worship services from an early age, so I got to hear her sing every week. Over the years, I gravitated from wonderment, to laughter, to embarrasment, to pity. None of my reactions ever phased her a bit. My dad, who was a fine singer, never seemed to mind. No one else did either. They were all too busy singing out themselves. At my church we had a congregation full of singers. It was great. Maybe it was because we had both a big pipe organ (a real one, not an electronic thing) and a grand piano, one on each side of the "platform", whereon stood the pulpit in the center, and massive chairs where sat the preachers along the rail that separated the "platform" from the choir loft. The choir was always full of singers too, of course. So you had Mrs. Murrell on the organ, Miss Linton on the piano, making great, loud music, playing those hymns in a way only Baptist women (and a few men) can play them, the choir blasting forth, each member trying to out-volume the other, and then the congregation singing back at the choir as if to raise whatever bid the choir seemed to be making. Amidst all of that singing, nobody much paid attention to my Mom's singing, except me.

Anyway, my theory is that she has kept her Southern accent, because she could not pick up as easily as a normal person the way that English is spoken in Miami. I think musicians probably do well with new languages too. They have the ear for it. My mother did not have the ear for it.

My mother began working for Eastern Air Lines in Atlanta before WWII. I think in early 1941. There she met my dad, who also worked for EAL. When the war started, he went into the Navy and there came a point where he was stationed in San Juan. By that time, a romance had kindled between them, thanks to the US mail, and my mother decided to transfer to Miami because the letters would make the transit back and forth between San Juan and Miami a couple of days faster than San Juan and Atlanta.

Her boss in Atlanta said he was not going to grant her request to transfer on that silly basis. So my mother quit EAL, drove to Miami in her little Plymouth coupe, walked into the EAL office there, where they knew her and were glad to see her, and got hired again.

Even then in Miami, a North Georgia accent was unusual, and everyone got such a kick out of my mother's way of speaking that the station manager arranged for her to make the announcements of the flights and all that over the PA system. She had no idea why she was so annointed, but she was a good scout and would make the announcements. But one day she saw some of her male fellow workers trying to suppress their laughter during one of her announcements. She walked over and demanded they tell her what was so funny. They told her that everyone looked forward to her announcements and would stop and listen when they knew she was about to make one, and that they thought it was funny.

My mother didn't think it was funny. She walked into the station manager's office (the boss) and told him she had made her last announcement and he could do whatever he wanted with her job. He laughed and said she wouldn't have any more PA duty. And she didn't.
More Books and Movies! I can't believe that I left off my book list two books by Steven Pressfield: Gates of Fire : An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae and The Legend of Bagger Vance. The first is about the stand that the Spartans took against the invading Persians that may have saved Western Civilzaton, the second is about golf(!). I know that there seems to be no connection between those two subjects, but it turns out there is, at least in the way that Pressfield looks at golf. For him, golf calls forth the same virtues of the warrior as war itself calls forth. Or, maybe it would be more accurate for me to say that Pressfield sees golf as a metaphor for war. (I think golf is a metaphor for total frustration, if you can be totally frustrated while having fun.) Anyway, read Gates of Fire first, then Legend of Bagger Vance, and make up your own mind.

I left off Chariots of Fire from my movie list. Another one is Tarkovsky's Solaris.
Shapoopie.

The Music Man is a great movie, sure, especially as musicals go, but can one really rank it up there with the likes of the Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia, and Pride and Prejudice? We Stokes folk obviously do, so here's a little behind this bit of peculiarity for the unititiated kith.

Back in the day at the Stokes house, we're talking early eighties or so, Mom took charge of all things TV and tried to remove its influence from her household. The story goes that the parents (or at least Mom) were content with the 13" B&W TV during the 70s, and it was not until Mom was in the hospital delivering Walter in '78 that Dad managed to buy our 19" color TV (Walter would later pull a similar trick to get his nintendo, but he can fill you in on that story). This TV would serve our family for the next 22 years, until I went off to college and they replaced it with another 19" color TV.

As far as TV watching goes, I think at some point the folks had cable, but by the time I was aware of my surroundings, the cable was out and the rabbit ears dictated what would appear on the screen.

The first phase of limiting our viewing, beyond Mom just telling us to turn it off or change the channel, came in the form of little laminated tickets giving us an allowance of an hour or so a day of TV watching. Mine were pink, being the girl, and I think Walter's and Macon's were blue and red (I don't know who had what color). We would insert a ticket into a white box each time we wanted to watch something, and when the tickets ran out, we couldn't watch anymore. So, if we wanted to watch the afternoon installment of Sesame Street as well as the morning showing, but only had tickets enough for one show, we'd have to make a choice and budget our tickets.

Perhaps you're already seeing the snag in this plan. There is one TV, but three kids. So, it could work out that we'd each use our tickets for different shows, but stay in the family room the entire time the TV was on. We could either work together to optimize our viewing, or what was the more likely scenario, we could fight over whose show it actually was and why my ticket shouldn't be spent on it. So you can see that this plan did little to improve the climate of our house.

Because we were obviously incapable of working within the limits of a TV budget, the next step was to remove our watching priveldges entirely. Or almost entirely. The TV was turned off for most of the week; but, we were able to watch the Cosby Show on Thursday night, sports events on the weekend, and movies Dad read about in Leonard (that's another post) and then rented from Romans (see post below). Sometimes we could watch movies that we owned--and here's where The Music Man comes in. We owned it, and for a long time, we owned no other movie except a taped from TV version of the Secret Garden which I often watched with my friends until Mac-Walter taped over it. (I think we also had a video recording of the 1984 Orange Bowl game between Miami and Nebraska.) Back to the Music Man-- I'm not entirely sure how that came to be the one movie we owned, but that was it. And so we watched it often and came to love and learn its catchy songs and witty dialogue; we could anticipate a young Ron Howard's fall from the tree or Richard Preston's fall from grace; we smiled as Marion softens toward the stranger and tried to dance as the little fat man demonstrates the Shapoopie. We marched along, at least in our hearts if not on the living room floor, as the final 76 trombones boomed away. And if we were lucky, the movie would end, some TV show would then come on, and if Mom wasn't in the kitchen, we could steal a few minutes of some forbidden fruit.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Books for Me Too!

Number of books I own: 'Way too many.

Last book(s) I bought: Tuesdays with Morrie. Ornamental Palm Horticulture. The Art of Electronics. Concealed Carry: The Shooter's Guide to Selecting Handguns. Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. In the Gravest Extreme. Basics of Pistol Shooting.

Latest books I'm reading: Job. Angell, C. Roy, Iron Shoes. Stephenson, Neal, Cryptonomicon. Sowell, Thomas, Basic Economics. Schwartz, Stephen, The Two Faces of Islam. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, Hill, Alexander, Just Business - Christian Ethics for the Marketplace. Covey, Stephen R., The 8th Habit. Boies, David, Courting Justice. The Brothers Karamazov.

Five books that mean a lot to me (there are many others in my life, too. These just occur to me now.)

1. The Bible - has to be. I've been listening to it, reading it, memorizing parts of it, thinking and rethinking it, arguing about it. Not another book comes close to how large it is in my life. And how intensely interesting it remains, week after week.

2. War and Peace. I've read it three times in my life, at differenct ages. The first time in high school. The second time in college, and then some time in my thirties. Each time I reacted differently - different things grabbed me.

3. Moby Dick. I read this in my forties for the first time. I don't know how I missed it up till then. Each night I read a chapter. The chapters are short. It took me months. But it easily rewarded the time, and I think its time to read it again.

4. The Cruel Sea. I think I've read this three tiimes too. The first time in high school. Its about transports sailing across the north Atlantic during WWII. How did these people do it? Do we have such people now? Could we fight and win such a war again?

5. Grant's Personal Memoirs. Having been raised with a Southerner's view of the War Between the States, this was a refreshing look at that war for me.

Honorable Mention: Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples; Michael Sharra's Killer Angels, easily the best war novel I have ever read. Its about the Battle of Gettysberg. The movie Gettsburg was based on it. Sharra is not to be confused with his son, who cannot write half as well, not 25% as well. Ambrose' Band of Brothers (and add the HBO series with that name to the all time great movie list.) Dumas, The Count of Monte Christo (unabridged version.). Hugo, Les Miserables.

Thanks, Sean!
BMW. Even at this date, I have trouble remembering at a big dinner which bread plate is mine. Someone gave me a pointer that might help you if you suffer from this variation of WFD ("wrong fork disease").

The solution is "BMW". B for bread - on the left. M for meal - in the middle. W for water - on the right.

You sit down. You go BMW. You drop the roll on the bread plate on your left, unless the guy next to you already appropriated it.
Is My Face Red

I've been drinking my Bright Eyes hatorade for a little while now.

While I was unfamilar with the Bright Eyes music, I was comfortable that I had a good grasp of my contempt for it.

Unfortunately, iTunes network sharing has proven to be my downfall.

While I'm hoping that my co-workers are listening to my All Things Bright and Beautiful (actually, Jef bought it, but who's keeping score?), I've been lurking on John's computer and trying to figure out what all the Bright Eyes hype is about.

So it's playing in the background on my headphones and I realize that I'm really liking it. Especially "The Center of The World" on Fevers and Mirrors. It reminds me of Bloodshed...but is much better.

How embarassing.
Onto the books...

Sean didn't tag me, but here it is anyway.

Number of books I own: It's a big number.

Last book(s) I bought: Middlemarch, by George Eliot, A Guide to NC's Hiking Trails

Latest books I'm reading: (there are a few...) Celebration of Discipline, by R. Foster; With Christ in the School of Prayer, by A. Murray; Middlemarch, by Eliot; Marathon, by J. Galloway (currently on hold pending leg injury); and Acts.

Five books that mean a lot to me, as of 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14 (no particular order):
1. War and Peace
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. The Bible
4. LotR
5. Flannery O'Connor's Complete Collection of Short Stories

***new***

Nine books that might make the top five at a different time, place, mood:
Anna Karenina; Daniel Deronda, by G. Eliot; A Tale of Two Cities; The Idiot, by Dostoevsky; All the King's Men, by Warren; Moby Dick; Emma; A Room with a View (by Forster, not Forrester); and The Moviegoer.

Five books to be read this summer:
Middlemarch; Brothers K; something by Solzynetsin (to see what the fuss is about and to learn how to spell his name); the new Harry Potter; The Scarlett Letter (I have to teach it in the fall; I didn't like it in 1997).


Now on to the rest of you...
More movies...

Total number of movies I own: 9 (I'm not counting Wallace and Grommit: The Wrong Trousers)

The last movie I bought for myself: LotR: Two Towers

Last movie I watched: The Aviator (not so great; I wish that wasn't what had to go here, so I'm making another category... )

Last movie I watched that I particularly liked and would want to see again one day: Riding Giants

Movies that mean something to me, in no particular order:
1. Pride and Prejudce (the A&E version, all 5 hours of it, preferably in one sitting)
2. The Last of the Mohicans (thanks, Dad)
3. Barcelona (because I lived there for a bit, and it's a pretty good movie, too)
4. The Music Man (because I'm a Stokes kid)
5. The Lord of the Rings (all of them lumped together, thank you)
My Answers to Sean's Movie Quiz

1. Total Number of Films I own on Video/DVD: 5 or less.

2. Last film I bought: I bought at Marshall's on their clearance desk a collection of John Wayne cowboy movies that he made in the 30's before he become "the man".

3. The last film I watched: Heat. The Michael Mann movie. Whew!

4. Five films that I watch a lot or mean a lot to me:

1) Last of the Mohicans. (Michael Mann's Production)
2) Walt Disney's Peter Pan
3) The Passion
4) The Music Man
5) The Howard Hawks series with John Wayne that involved Fort Apache, Corporal Tyree, and the crew. And the Searchers. And Red River.
6) High Noon
7) Shane
8) The Robe
9) Sound of Music
10) Lawrence of Arabia
11) The Longest Day
12) All the Davy Crockett movies
13) Ben Hur
14) The Ten Commandments
15) Gone with the Wind
17) Star Wars, Episode IV

(I know. Its supposed to be five.)

5. Tag Five People? I tag all of you.
Recently heard Nita-ism.. "He's wound up like a cheap Victrola." This refers to somene being excited and talkative.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My Answers to Sean's Movie Quiz

1. Total Number of Films I own on Video/DVD:
34 -- Does "Strife: One Truth Live Tour '95" count? I'm counting it.

2. Last film I bought: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

3. The last film I watched: I wish I could say Battlestar Gallactica, but we rented In Good Company last night.

4. Five films that I watch alot or mean alot to me:
1) Spinal Tap
2) Bottle Rocket
3) The Godfather II
4) The Music Man
5) Raising Arizona
97) Highlander 4
(incidentally, these and more are all my favorite movie)

5. Tag five people? I don't know...I'd hate to impose. Tom has the strength of 5 men. And Mark...could his taste in movies be as good as his taste in music? I know that my parents would echo my choices; they might just be redundant. Scott, Mary, Kellsey, Macon? whatever.
Too much for one man to bear

The weight of your judgement is crushing me! I'll have the mix cds in the mail tomorrow.

Good thing I don't have that sort of job that requires me to do things on time.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Requiem for Roman's. The neighborhood video store, which initially called itself "Roman's Video" after the pizza place next door, but was then bought out and cleverly renamed "Video Store", has closed. Over the years, the place became a sort of way station for newly arrived Latinos getting their first introduction into American business.

Among the more famous of these in our family was Max, from Nicarauga. He knew all of us by name, and long after the M,W & J left for college he would ask how they were when I dropped by. What drove Max nuts were the people who would check the movies out and simply not bring them back. Those people finally drove Max to sell the business.

It was then acquired by a young man from Cuba whose father often covered for him. The father and I got to be friends, and he would ask me about English words he had newly acquired, not only how to pronounce them, but also the social context in which the words would be most appropriate. In exchange, he helped with my Spanish.

Lately the store had been managed by a nice young man who had a girl friend. They were always necking as I came in. He was sitting on the stool behind the counter and she was sitting in his lap. That was interesting.

On the way to church this morning, I saw the shop was empty, the movie posters gone, and a "closed" sign hanging in the front window. I imagine Netflix finally did them in. The store survived Blockbuster, but even Blockbuster is going down to Netflix.

RIP Romans.
The Problem with China. Instapundit pointed me to this fascinating opinion piece in the London Daily Telegraph.

Friday, June 10, 2005



Such a cute cute boy, but did you know that he could also rap freestyle?



He's such a little chunka-chunk!
Hear ye, Hear ye, All you Alias lovers out there

I recently went to the Amazon page because I was looking to spend a gift certificate there. While looking around for things to procure with said gift certificate, I did a search for Alias Season 4 on DVD. I knew it would not be out yet, but I thought perhaps I could pre-order it.

I was shocked to find that they are not currently producing Season 4 on DVD. Alas! Woe is me...I know it wasn't the best season by far, but I have to admit that I have been sucked in and want to keep track of my gal Sid.

If any of the rest of you have likewise been sucked into the vortex of the Bristow family and their wacked relationships and spy endeavors, then please join me in going to the Amazon page, doing a search for Season 4 and putting in your vote for them to go ahead and produce season 4 on DVD.

Also, I might add that this is my very first post of my own. It is official that I have finally joined the ranks, and will no longer lurk merely in the commentary of this blog...
Welcome Lars

My friend Lars Peterson is moving with his family to KZ to, among other good things, coordinate visiting faculty at a university in the North-East corner of that large country. All you lawyers and bankers out there: Listen Up! Consider teaching a seminar in KZ.

(Unrelated to Lars's move, but related to previous posts, Solzhenitzen spent his years in exile in KZ.)

I spent a summer at that same university back in 1999. In doing so, I got about as far away from home as is possible. And yet, here it is...that city has made its way back into my life. strange. (IVCF founded the university)

I gave Lars the URL here as an example of how a blog functions. So, welcome, Lars, to the Stokes blog.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Going the Second Mile is like . . .

Aikido. There are no offensive moves. One turns an attacker's strength against the attacker himself. The idea here is to win. So I welcome the imposition of power upon me by the other in this relationship.

A God who moves beyond being God. God creates this wonderful universe, like a garden. He sets man in the midst of it. He will walk with man as man begins a journey of discovery. And the evening and the morning were the first mile. But man rejects God in disobedience. Man makes himself God. He worships himself. OK, God thinks, if man is to be god and that's where man is looking, I will become man for him and become his God again, because I love him. And the evening and morning were the Second Mile.

A young mother who, upon losing her first baby in childbirth, immediately begins preparation for the second. She demands that during that second childbirth, which must be caserean, that she remain awake and only be given a local. First mile. Second mile. First childbirth. Second childbirth. And a third and a fourth.

Any other ideas out there?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Disciples and Multitudes. I consider the "second mile" injunction in Matthew 5:41 in the entire context of the Sermon on the Mount ("SOM"), as of course we must. (One of my favorite interpretive aphorisms is "A text without a context is a pretext".) Several scholars believe it crucial to note the introductory verses of the SOM, Matthew 5:1 and 2. These verses show that there are two possible categories of listeners, (a) "the multitudes [KJV]" or "the crowds" [NIV] and (b) "his disciples".

Notwithstanding the films we have seen that show Jesus standing on a hillside speaking to people standing and sitting about, up and down the hill like listeners in an amphitheater, Matthew 5:1 and 2 make it plain that Jesus went "up on a mountainside" to get away from the crowds. Up on that mountainside "his disciples came to him, and he began to teach them . . . " So the SOM is not for everyone. It is for those who choose to follow Jesus.

I guess that's obvious, but over my lifetime I have heard parts of the SOM presented as a sort of ethical prescription for everyone. But why should one do any of the things that Jesus asks in the SOM if he is not a disciple? Love my enemy? I, a young Jewish male brought up in the traditions, go a second mile with a Roman soldier, carrying his armor, his weapons, his shield? You have to be kidding. "The multitudes" are not ready to hear this. Let's get away from them and talk.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Museums: Why Should We Care? For the study and understanding of mankind.

So reads the title and by-line for an editorial yesterday at OpinionJournal.com by Philippe de Montebello, the curator at the Met in NY. Rachelle and I just returned from a Memorial Day weekend in NYC, visiting several museums, including the Met. I had even wondered, "Why do I want to go to a museum?" (The museum trip, at the time, balanced our cultural experience at the Yankees/Red Sox baseball game.)

For me, the article does articulate the anthropological draw of museums: For the study and understanding of mankind, and I might add, our cultures and shared history (including His-story). However, the editorial ends on a blatantly humanistic note:

My question is: Who made these things? The answer: We did, our species did. Isn't that reason enough to maintain our faith in humankind? ...What we learn is that no matter the degree of chaos and adversity surrounding him, man has shown his capability to excel, to surpass. That is the ultimate assurance of renewal and survival. And it is one of the great lessons of the art museum.

Our visit at the Met was enjoyable, both from a historical and cultural perspective.

That experience contrasted greatly with our trip the International Center of Photography, who has a current exhibit by Larry Clark. Here's a brief from ICP curator Brian Wallis:

To address...issues Clark often uses sexually explicit imagery, as well as scenes of overt drug use and violence, actions that are addressed casually by his subjects but which are often shocking to his audiences.

That exhibit disgusted us and we left after a relativly short perusal. Mr. Clark was "documenting" the underworld in Tulsa with utterly repulsive and explicit photographs. Even art critics differed on whether Mr. Clark's work was even "art." His "autobiography" seemed nothing more than a reliving of his youth vicariously through other's drug use and sexual acts. Urgh!

Rah-Rah for mankind, indeed! Take me out to the ball game.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Roman Soldier, Flannery O'Connor, Hyperbole. Here's an image of the Roman soldier, and here's an article that talks about the Roman army in Britain. According to the article, the armor and kit of the Roman soldier weighed 90 pounds. This is the burden we carry for our enemy beyond the first mile and into the endless second.

Read in the article what it says about the derivation of our word "decimate". I begin to admire the Roman soldier after reading this.

There was definitely something for a Palestinian Jew in Jesus time to learn from the Roman soldier on that burdensome journey to which Jesus refers, if hyperbolically, a Palestinian Jew who probably had not traveled beyond 20 miles of his home during his lifetime (unless to Jerusalem), but who, of course, knew everything.

The matter of hyperbole puts in mind the introductory paragraph of Richard John Neuhaus article "Kierkegaard for Grownups" in the October 2004 issue of First Things:

"That extraordinary writer of stories about the 'Christ-haunted' American South, Flannery O'Connor, was frequently asked why her people and plots were so often outlandish, even grotesque. She answered, 'To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you have to draw large and startling figures.'"

So it is with Jesus in the SOM. He uses hyperbole - he shouts at the hard of hearing, he draws large and startling figures for the near-blind. We will do anything not to hear, anything not to see. We will do, for example, theology.
Attention Sean! and others who want to parley this hobby into a lucrative career.
As Blogging Goes Corporate, It Becomes a Full-Time Job
In its short lifespan, blogging has largely been a freewheeling exercise in online self-expression. Now it is also becoming a corporate job.